By Andy Argyrakis, senior editor, gmclife.com
Right before school starts, there’s probably no surefire cure for that funny feeling in your stomach when you’re a little nervous and a little excited (other than perhaps some prayer). To help ease those back-to-school jitters, gmclife.com's put together a list of ten red-hot rock tunes that will help pack your iPod with positive messages for the trip back to campus. From Anberlin to Shiny Toy Guns' Stephen Petree's self-titled band, you'll likely score some early popularity points by spreading the word to your friends about these new tunes, if only for being ahead of the curve on the latest and greatest.
1. Anberlin’s “Impossible”
Blurring the lines between hard rock, power pop and emo, Anberlin’s audience spans listeners who grew up in the 1980s through today. Instead of showcasing an affinity for The Smiths or Joy Division (as in the past), this brand-new track from Dark Is the Way: Light Is a Place (Universal Republic) is a straight-up stadium rocker that ranks amongst its most urgent to date, thanks to production from Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine).
2. The Afters’ “Light Up the Sky”
One of Christian music’s most consistent modern rock acts continues hitting homeruns with this ethereal piano pop single from the INO/Columbia CD of the same name. The praise-tinged power ballad finds frontman Joshua Havens in fine form, while his backers are concurrently experimenting with swirling atmospheres and giving radio listeners something to remember.
3. Group 1 Crew’s “Live It Up”
Head to the rock/pop/soul/hip-hop collective’s website to get a sneak peak of this top track from the forthcoming studio full-length Outta Space Love (Word). Expect boundless energy, endless hooks and some of the most empowering songwriting to ever hit this planet, which in the case of this anthem, could even make the Black Eyed Peas a little jealous.
4. Disciple’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World”
With Horseshoes & Handgrenades (INO/Columbia) serving as the Knoxville-bred band’s most explosive disc to date, it’s no surprise to see this lead off single scorching with southern fried guitars and Kevin Young’s full throttled bellows. Don’t be surprised if this head-banger winds up in one or more sports soundtracks, which would follow on the heels of ESPN and World Wrestling Entertainment crossover placements.
5. Circleslide’s “Eye of the Hurricane”
The alternative rockers who gleaned its namesake from The Choir are back after four years with its official sophomore CD Echoes of the Light (Save the City Records). The results of this standout track and several others on the envelope pushing album find the fellas striking the balance between guitar-charged choruses, captivating harmonies and worshipful songwriting.
6. Petree’s “It’s Always Been You”
After first finding fame with GRAMMY-nominated rock/goth/dance standouts Shiny Toy Guns, Stephen Petree formed a self-titled band that also incorporated a singer/songwriter side. On this cut from Weakness Makes You Beautiful (Dream Records) expect plenty of keyboards colliding with electric guitars, likely to land somewhere between a club and alternative rock radio in the introspective tradition of Depeche Mode or Muse.
7. Flyleaf’s “Set Apart This Dream”
The female-fronted Flyleaf is one of hard rock’s fastest rising treasures, but besides platinum sales and Family Values Tour credits alongside Disturbed, there’s always been a socially conscious side to its songwriting. This searing new tune off its latest collection Memento Mori (A&M/Octone) tackles the increasingly tricky topic of sex slavery and seeks to empower victims of violence in any unwelcome format.
8. After Edmund’s “Dance Like You’re From the Future”
Between an opening gig on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution and a 2009 GRAMMY nomination, Georgia’s own After Edmund is earning some much-deserved attention for its supernatural keyboard sounds and distortion-filled experimental alt-rock. As the title to this insanely infectious tune implies, the guys have taped into what a figurative dance club in outer space sounds like, a musical concept that’s replete throughout the self-released CD/DVD set Spaceships & Submarines. Click here to watch the music video.
9. Hearts of Saints’ “The Secret”
Hailing from a small town in Kentucky might make Hearts of Saints an underground secret thus far, but a recent deal with the Grits-run Revolution Art is sure to expand its audience. Catch the lead track to the group’s self-titled CD, which recalls the driving dance beats of The Killers or The Strokes crossed with old-school U2 over the surging production of Ainslie Grosser (MuteMath).
10. Norma Jean’s “Leaderless and Self Enlisted”
Hard rockers Norma Jean have been a longtime staple of the Vans Warped Tour delivering merciless screams and complicated chord progressions as the masses mosh. This intense cut from the new release Meridional (Razor & Tie) follows in the band’s pummeling tradition, while highlighting increased force and chemistry given its constant rearing on the road.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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