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Artists and Bands

The Rock and Roll Report Focus is on Honor By August

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The modern melodic rock band Honor By August came together back in the early 2000’s. The band formed in the same basic Washington, D.C. neighborhood around Georgetown University as a much more famous band, Vertical Horizon. The current line-up for the band includes: Michael Pearsall on guitar, vocals; Evan Field on lead guitar, backing vocals; John Athayde on bass, keyboards, backing vocals; and Brian Shanley on drums, percussion.

Having been around as a band for several years now, the members of Honor By August have shared the stage with bands like the Alternate Routes, Emmett Swimming, Michael Tolcher, as well as bigger names like Hootie and the Blowfish, Howie Day, Hanson, Bon Jovi and many more; and they have played to audiences as large as 20,000 at places like The Verizon Center and FedEx Field in D.C.

Honor By August is currently on tour in support of their 2007 release. That new album is entitled Drowning Out The Television. The new album is the first for the band with the addition of their 2005 release, the Photographs EP.

Drowning Out The Television comes complete with a lot of substance. The album is full of other songs that could find their way to the radio airwaves. Some of the best songs on the album include: “Into The Light,” “Black and White,” and the song that brings the album to a nice close, “The Quiet Sky”.

The track “Into the Light” kicks off the Drowning Out The Television with a gentle Pop/Rock feel to the music. The song’s music begins with the sound of two guitars blending their parts together to create a strong and enjoyable riff in two-part harmony. The song then transitions to a full-band approach and the track takes on a sound that would have been right at home with songs that had been on the Cracked Rear View album from Hootie & the Blowfish. “Into the Light” ends up being one of the strongest tracks on the album.

For the song “Waking Up,” the band creates the “title track” of the release. The band once again creates a Pop-Rock feel to their music. But this time, the band adds a bit of energy to the track. The stronger musical delivery on the track, when compared to the first song of “Into the Light,” means that the song would fit better on Hot A/C radio along with Vertical Horizon, Train, even John Mayer. The track once again finds the band creating a track where the music is just as strong as the lyrical message about looking for meaning in your life.

With the track “Black and White,” the band slows the pace of their music down quite a lot. The track’s lyrics deal with a man looking back at a relationship coming to an end. And while he is reflecting on said relationship, it also seems that he is not ready to accept the truth. He sings of the color running out of his life as the world is now black and white and dull. While the lyrics may be slightly depressing, the band creates a track with a lot of substance as well as beauty that comes in the form of strings that help add depth to the song.

The album continues with the track “Only In Photographs,” the song that helped the band win the grand prize in Billboard Magazine’s World Song Contest for the Pop category. With this track, the band adds a stronger vibe to their music. This track finds the band creating yet another track that seems to have a Hootie & the Blowfish vibe to it. The Pop-Rock music on the track would have fit right in with music from back in the nineties.

The final track of the album portion of the CD, “The Quiet Sky,” finds Honor By August yet again in a rather laidback mood. This time, the band creates a slow, steady pace to the music that also comes with a gentle feeling to it. The relaxed feeling in the song adds to the emotional feel of the lyrics about allowing the world to go away for a while. Altogether, the lyrics and the easy feel to the music creates a track that has a slight lullaby approach to it.    

Having already been released once, the band took their album and made it even better. The 2007 version of Drowning Out The Television now comes complete with the twelve original songs and new remixes of three of the songs. Those remixes are to the album’s aforementioned songs of “Into The Light,” “Waking Up” and “Honesty”.

Drowning Out The Television from Honor By August ends up being a strong Adult Contemporary album of music. The songs alternate between Soft Rock and the harder radio format of Hot A/C. If you are a fan of Hootie & The Blowfish, John Mayer or even Matchbox 20, give Honor By August a chance. And keep an eye out for this band as the future holds much in store for them. You can go to their website at www.honorbyaugust.com and check out their music.

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HONOR BY AUGUST: Photographs EP
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Artists and Bands

The Rock and Roll Report Focuses on BMZ

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Cleveland band BMZ came together as a group because the members of the band were all looking to do something musically and had nowhere to turn to fill that desire. With Jim Bacha on bass guitar and vocals, Michael Misiak on drums and vocals, and Jerry Zsigo on guitar and vocals, the musicians have created a solid rock band.

The band decided to take their best material and attack the songs in a live setting and record the resulting show for future release. That resulting show took place on March 10th, 2007 at the Cleveland, Ohio concert venue, The Winchester. The band has taken the recorded show and put it out on a double CD album, entitled BMZ Live at The Winchester.

Previous to the date of the concert recording, the band had recorded and released two albums as a four-piece outfit. The new CD features the band in its current three-piece power trio line-up. The difference is definitely noticeable; and it’s a change for the better. As a trio, the band is tighter and the songs rock harder. Having recorded the first two albums in the studio, BMZ Live at The Winchester shows that the real magic happens onstage.

BMZ Live at The Winchester starts off with “Intro,” a simple segue between the audience calling the band onstage by way of applause to the band and the band launching into their first song entitled “Let it Happen”. It is on “Let It Happen” that the listener gets a taste of what is to come:

As the audience lets out an enthusiastic response to the band walking onstage, the song “Let It Happen” finds the trio answering back with a great instrumental that seems to convey the message that the band is happy for the audience’s support. And with the track being strictly instrumental, the listener is first exposed to the playing ability of the band before they truly get to know the band’s songwriting ability. Ultimately, the musical approach on the track brings to mind the Prog-Rock style of Rush. The guitar, bass and drum combination of BMZ is very reminiscent of what Rush has created over the years.  

With the track “Evil,” BMZ increases the intensity of the sound of their music. While there is still some of the Prog-Rock edge to the music of this track, the guitar from Jerry Szigo is much heavier. This track is a lot closer to Hard Rock than Prog-Rock. And when the lyrics appear on the track, they seem to contain a large amount of Blues influence to them. The listener can almost imagine any of the Blues Legends such as Willie Dixon or Buddy Guy creating the words for the song.

The music of the next track of “Playin’ and Singin’” returns the listener to a more Prog-Rock sound. In fact, what the lyrical content and the delivery of those lyrics seem to suggest a slight Frank Zappa influence as the lyrical content and the dual voice delivery on the track suggests something that could easily have been influenced by the songwriting of Zappa. Plus, as the lyrics to the song are sung, the vocal deliveries also seem to scream of a Zappa-like arrangement to those vocals.

While the track of “Let It Happen” featured music reminiscent of Rush, what was missing was the lyrics to go along with that influence. But on the track “The Patriots Word,” the complete Rush experience comes through. The music suggests the complete ensemble of that band, while the lyrics to “The Patriot Word” suggest no one else but Rush lyricist (and band drummer) Neil Peart. Sure, BMZ seems to wear a few of their influences on their sleeves, but any lover of Classic Rock should actually be thankful that they do as those influences help to shape the band’s songs.  

Throughout the 2-hour concert of high-voltage power rock, BMZ shows that with time comes experience, and with experience comes talent. Jim Bacha, Mike Misiak, and Jerry Zsigo have the experience and the talent, as BMZ Live at The Winchester definitely shows. The audience that showed up that night for the recording helps to make the live experience shine through for the audience listening at home.

If you like power rock, BMZ Live at The Winchester is a MUST for your music collection. The two-plus hours of music on the album gives the listener a very clear indication of what the band is capable of. This is not only a great live album, it’s a great album all the way around.
To hear the music, purchase the album, or for more information on the band, go to www.bmzmusic.com.

Matheson Kamin

BMZ: Live at the Winchester
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