One of the best things about music is musicians don’t have to be well-known to be great. The industry is full of very cool bands and artists offering an alternative to the mainstream.
For every Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, and U2, there’s a dozen other artists and bands that toil and sacrifice to hone their craft and create magic on stage.
Below are 15 very cool bands that offer enthralling musical experiences. They represent several genres including alternative, folk, heavy metal, and jazz.
You can download and stream music from all 15 entrants, but to truly appreciate their cool, as well as their creativity and talent, you must see them live. Between online videos, live recordings and social media, and seeing many of these acts live too, our staff has experienced each of these bands for ourselves. And while this may be subjective, take our word for it, each of the following bands deserves some of your time.
When any of our selections visit your neighborhood, do everything you can to secure tickets and make it to the venue. In doing so, you’re guaranteeing yourself an amazing evening of some seriously cool live music.
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Some of you might remember that I reviewed Venrez’s second album American Illusion in the early days of this blog and I was impressed by the band then, well luckily very little has changed on their third album the band are still purveyors of psychedelic, reverb driven hard rock that is part Alice In Chains part Wylde-era Ozzy. Once again the album lyricism focuses on the government, the failures of modern life and how much everything sucks really, still they do it backed by some muscular guitar work played deftly with low and slow guitar work from Jason Womack on Mist Of Mercy and Refelction.
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L.A Rockers Venrez sure made an impression on me as one of the most hard working dedicated bands on the road today. The band are a strong independent force that have naturally engrained musical talent & a magnetic impulse to project across not only uplifting, pure rock songs but a thought provoking meaning and ethos to go along with it. The bands UK Tour was made up of mostly Scottish dates with a succession of smaller venue’s booked for each show, it was a brave way to reach out and touch fans on a intimate level & I have every admiration for their one- to-one time, chatting with folks who came out to embrace their music.
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I’ll start by saying that American Illusion is not going to be popular with everyone, in fact the very reasons I think it’s a brilliant piece are the same reasons that some may criticise it… that’s ok. Music is a form of art, to be appreciated by those that understand it and deconstructed by those that don’t.
American Illusion flies in the face of what the “industry” tells us is great, it’s raw, it’s edgy and it speaks of hard work and ideals. An overarching theme lyrically is one of revolution, it’s a kind of 60’s ‘power to the people’ revolution, highlighting the inequality present in life. Again, some will find reason to be critical of this statement, but for me it reinforces a genuine quality of what could otherwise be yet another “let’s drink and womanise” hard rock offering. Not that I have anything against drink or women!
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Due to embark on a UK tour with the mighty Buckckerry and Hardcore Superstar, “new kids on the block” Venrez have just released their spanking new album, American Illusion, and are set to make some serious waves on the scene. Having already toured with the likes of Slash and Alice Cooper, Venrez are no strangers to sharing stages with high profile acts – but more importantly, have the goods to back it up. Describing their style as “a new modern genre of rock which at first sounds like you have heard it before, but quickly lets you know that it is new and fresh”, Venrez could well be THE band we’re all about to be talking about, so we thought we should check out the album to see for ourselves.
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VENREZ are an odd, but likeble bunch on record. They have produced an album in American Illusion that is both challenging and accessible, and eight of its 10 tracks are straightforward rock with a lyrical social consceince.
But on two of the tracks they wander off the well-worn hard rock mode, but in no less an enjoyable way.
There is a rawness about the entire feel of the album, with opener a perfect example. Singer Ven said of it:
“‘Unforeseen’ is my favorite track on ‘American Illusion’. It’s brutally heavy and demanding to play right.
“It’s ‘At The Drive In’ meets ‘Alice in Chains’ and really reflects the experiences we’ve had touring the world together.”
Ven’s comparison to these bands stand up, but throughout the rest of the album it teeters between the classic hard rock edge and alternative, stoner rockers such as QOTSA.
For example, Free Will has moments of sheer rock splendour amidst a groove that would not be alien to desert rock. But the previous track has a stomp and vigour reminescent of the glory days of 80s hard rock.
Ven’s vocal delivery is under-stated, and almost laconic at times, echoes of Layne Stayley merging with his own take on how difficut issues should be delivered. Unlike many of Venrez’s contemporaries there are not tales of excess and misogny. As the title of the album – American Illusion – suggests lyrically they tackle a society with more problematic issues than it can cope with; and no army of therapists, counsellors, pchychiatrists or psychologists can help during this century. That combination between hard rock musical attitude and lyrics to challenge listeners means that this album falls into that elusive category – a ‘grower’. On the first couple of spins there is more than a little to engage, but by the time you have listened to the likes of Silver and Gold and Vultures you ‘get it’ and can settle back to enjoy.
The weird bit comes in the last two tracks – the Beat Goes On and Temptress of the Moon. Beat Goes On has dated synth and distorted vocals which would have not been out of place in an early 90s experimental rock act. However, the repetitive, almost hypnotic delivery makes it strangely likeable.Throughout the album – anchored by the rhytm section of Mike and Ed – the twin guitars of Alex and Jason are to the fore, with riffs aplenty prominent in the mix. But, on the album closer – the lengthy Temptress of the Moon – they are given free reign to explore delicate textures. At times it is as if Dave Gilmuor, Snowy White and Syd Barret got together with some prog rockers and did some acid. And that is a good thing.
Apart from the slight departure of the last two songs Venrez have produced a solid, enjoyable album – one worthy of a listen before their Belfast date. Guitarist Alex Kane is no doubt about where the band are:Now with this new album, “American Illusion”, we have our best material to date and the band has never been tighter. I think everyone who comes to see us again will say it was worth the wait. Those seeing us for the first time will not be disappointed either.” American Illusion is available now. You can catch them supporting Buckcherry and Hardcore Superstars in the Limelight on November 27th. Tickets available from usual outlets.
Sometimes bringing American Rock back to the beginning works!
Venrez is an American Rock band that have taken influence from bands like Stone temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, Hinder to legends like Aerosmith. When I started listening to this I thought it would be like every other band that takes influences from these bands, but this is not this is so much better. I would say this is my “Album of the Month” it is that good and I have so many good things I could say about it.
On opener ‘Unforseen’ you can see why Slash famous for being the top hat wearing guitarist in Guns ‘n’ Roses would want this band on tour with him, the guitar work on this track is incendiary and really takes me back to when I had tapes in the car when I was a kid. Then again the sound was never as polished as it is on ‘American Illusion’, where all the songs sound really big and well produced. The vocals on this album by Venrez are amazing, no Pro-Tools used here!!! just pure vocal talent reminding me of a more commercial Scott Weiland if he got singing lessons from Perry Farrell.
Second track ‘Sanctity’ won’t break any songwriting awards! it’s just ballzy Rock ‘n’ Roll put it a clugging a long track that is very repetitive and catchy, you just want to clap your hands a long to this song it really has that vibe to it. While ‘Hot Air’ has big lifts and makes you feel like you are listening to it at a top of a mountain. This song is really big and has the sound and you wonder how this can be a new band, because this is a track that any of the big names in Rock and Metal would have killed to have written. It just has everything you would want from a Hard Rock song to the amazing solo near the end of it. Actually all the guitar work on this album is second to none and Jason Womack and Alex Kane should be very proud of themselves indeed.
‘Free Will’ sound like an Audrey Horne track and I am talking when this band where good not the rubbish they bring out now. I’m talking ‘Threshold’ era and this is not a band thing this is great Melodic Hard Rock that has emotion in it and I am so surprised that this band have come out with a track like this, going by some of the more commercially appealing songs on the album.
Like ‘Silver and Gold’ which sounds like it mixes up Grunge with Southern Rock with a hint of Queens of the stone Age. If your a fan of the later band you will really dig this track, they do mix up the genres on this album but no song seems out of place. All the songs seem like they are just made to be their like the spacey ‘Intellectual Drool’ which has killer drumming in it and ‘Vultures’ which you can’t ignore the riff to it and they way it kicks in and out which just makes you want to f**k sh*t up!.
‘Hunger’ drives in and is a great song to listen to in your car, while ‘The Beat goes On’ is a more sing-a-long track if you are a little drunk. Last song ‘Temptress of the Moon’ is the perfect song to end the album on because it’s chilled vibe and soothing vocals really brings proceedings to a close.This is an album I will run out and buy and one of the best Rock albums I have heard in a while and I just wonder why I have not heard of Venrez before. This is Hard Rock how it is meant to be and one you have to buy you won’t be disappointed.
Review by Dan Devour
Catch the band supporting Buckcherry / Hardcore Superstar on the dates Below:
Venrez are currently lined up as support for Buckcherry‘s latest tour, so as a long time Buckcherry fan I was pretty excited to get to review their second full release American Illusion. If you like you rock hard and heavy and your favourite music era is the seventies then you’re in for a treat. Despair not if you prefer more modern music – fans of 90′s grunge will also be happy and the band have been compared to Alice in Chains more than once.
The album kicks of with Unforseen, a glorious track that instantly harks back to the good old days when bands made the music they wanted and trashed their hotel suites. It’s a gloomy, slightly dirgeful song and it’s brilliant. There isn’t a single thing about this track that doesn’t work- it does remind me of Alice in Chains so grunge fans will be happy.