Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on A New Nowhere, a new indie outfit endeavoring to revitalize the metal, alternative, and grunge rock sound in the scene. Their latest single, ‘Dark Place,’ is the first follow-up to their debut 2015 EP. They describe themselves as “energetic, heavy, melodic, and atmosphere,” taking inspirations from an array of bands they admire to craft their own authentic sound. Do they do so, or do they fall into the pitfalls many acts akin to their own do? Let’s dig into the new song and find out.
First of all, what exactly are those pitfalls? Well, independent hard rock acts have a tendency to struggle with production. This is a recurring issue throughout the independent realm, but acts with a lot of loud, distorted sound often struggle to create cohesive final masters. This is especially problematic for unsigned outfits like A New Nowhere. Fortunately, they don’t drive their tour bus right into that pothole. ‘Dark Place,’ is for the most part, very well executed.
A word to the wise: the first ten seconds of ‘Dark Place’ are mixed pretty low. Don’t turn your speakers up, unless you want to be like me, a man blown away by his monitors with a cacophony of rock and roll right at that ten second marker. That’s actually the only problematic production issue with the entire track, and it’s really only an issue because I could see it being a painful one for earbud listeners. That aside, the lead vocals are well mixed, the guitars are well performed, and the atmosphere broods and grows with wonderful tact.
The lead vocals have a tiny bit of a Pearl Jam / Eddie Vedder vibe to them. If the grunge or metal tags on this track are a deterrent to you, fear not, because I’d argue it’s much more within the realm of alternative and hard rock. In fact, it’s so pleasant, that its pleasantness may be my only issue with it. It feels a bit safe. A New Nowhere doesn’t sound like their forging new territory for themselves. I’ve heard this music time and time again, and there wasn’t a moment in ‘Dark Place’ that caused me to reel back and double-take. Exceptional music needs that ‘it’ factor.
‘Dark Place’ is a good track, and I think its indicative of an equally good band. I would like, however, for it to be a foot in the door toward something more original. A New Nowhere has incredible potential, but I do think their new single plays every piece on the board very close to home. They owe it to themselves to be musically adventurous. Most independent acts don’t have the production chops they do. (Or the instrumental chops to match, I should add.) For now, though, it isn’t a half bad start.