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 morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on NEWBLAST, a Paris-based electro-rock duo consisting of David Manara and Samuel Van Beken. In 2010, they released their self-titled debut, a dynamic jaunt through classic rock influence and contemporary stylings. After a seven year absence, the duo will return with a new record this May. Thus, let’s take a trip back in time and take a look at a selection of tracks from their first foray into the industry at the turn of the decade.
Citing influences the likes of The Beatles and Queen, NEWBLAST has a uniquely eclectic sound. There’s a distinctly European style to the music, something that’s accented by a very theatrical atmosphere. ‘Wartorn Kingdom,’ for example, does sound like a track off the cutting room floor of a Queen session. The harmonies NEWBLAST utilizes in their music are absolutely infectious, and the intense orchestration of 'Wartorn Kingdom' explodes in a masterful way.
NEWBLAST classifies themselves as “epic” online, which is an apt self-analysis. Their music demands the listener’s attention quite like anything I’ve delved into in the indie scene recently. ‘In A Rush’ is one of the stronger tracks from the duo’s 2010 debut, showcasing not only their prowess as musicians, but their chemistry as a collaborative. The performances are perfectly in step, never missing a note. There also doesn’t seem to be a genre they align well with… it’s a sound wholly unique unto itself.
‘Keep It Out Of My World,’ for instance, sounds like a Talking Heads song. It’s so heavily reminiscent of new wave music. It’s funky, punchy, and highly danceable. The production is absolutely superb, elegantly combining electric organ, thumping bass riffs, searing electric guitar, and fantastic vocal harmonies together to make a surprisingly cohesive and accessible sound.
If at any point on NEWBLAST’s debut record you forget they’re a French group, you’ll be reminded on ‘Lina,’ the tune that’s simply the very best of the bunch. It has such a quirky European style to it that American artists can only attempt to imitate. ‘Lina’ is an oddball ballad performed partially in waltz tempo that sounds like it could have been recorded a hundred years ago or yesterday. There’s a truly timeless feel to ‘Lina.’
‘Spaces of Beauty’ boasts some progressive rock influence, at times evoking a sound that feels like it’s out of a Roger Waters concert. The clash of eccentric electronic samples and electric guitar with the classical string sections is absolutely spectacular. Lyrically, these tunes are rather excellent, too, perhaps best exhibited on the terrific ‘Second Life.’ These are intelligently penned songs with awesome hooks, and that's not an easy thing to do.
You should be very excited for NEWBLAST returning to music in May. Seven years later, I’m compelled to hear what the duo sounds like now, because their debut was wonderfully unique. Connect with them below to keep updated on that.