Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Better Days" for local rockers Another Lost Year?

When Charlotte-based hard rock band Another Lost Year opened for Days of the New at Amos’ Southend in June, the headliner’s set was nothing short of a disaster. After what by all accounts was a long, but impressive 12-minute opening jam, Days of the New frontman Travis Meeks sat down and took off his guitar. After minutes of support (woo!), confusion, and heckling from the crowd, he announced his wife had left him. He then left the stage, the venue, and his equipment. Yep. There’s a YouTube clip of it.  

Admission was refunded, but the show wasn’t a loss for Another Lost Year. My friend Stephen Herbster and his wife Rose were there and he took that refunded ticket money and bought whatever Another Lost Year was selling. Herbster, the senior avid editor for The Carolina Panthers, was so blown away by the group that he used its single “War on the Inside” (with permission) to score a Panthers’ video that played before both preseason games on the Panther Vision Screen and in turn exposed the band to tens of thousands.

That kind of interaction between local sports and arts is exciting to me. One locally-based business supporting another? Utilizing our regional talent like we did when John Brown, Anthony Hamilton, and Squirrel Nut Zippers played during the Democratic National Convention is something we should do more of. The talent is here. 

Aside from that, the Amos’ incident proves that artists should play their hearts out no matter who is in the crowd. I’ve seen absolutely fantastic shows when no one expected anyone from the press to show up and then I’ve anonymously watched drunken messes fill time on stage to horrified audiences. Both leave an impression.  

Another Lost Year seems to be making an impression lots of places. It spends much of November and December playing the Midwest. Thursday, October 25, the five-piece plays its album release show at The Saloon at NC Music Factory. 

ALY makes mainstream rock that’s both heavy, melodic, and radio ready. It actually sounds perfect for those highlight montages promoting sporting events like WWE pay-per-views and NASCAR races. Hear that Mr McMahon? The riffs are thick, yet crisp and hooky. The drums are punchy, flowery, and showy without being distracting. There’s also a subtle Southern layer to the emotive vocals especially on songs like “Your Last Goodbye.” It’s similar in vibe to what you get with Three Doors Down or the heartland hard rock of Hinder (from Oklahoma). It’s the kind of universality that sells records. The track “Angels,” featuring female guest vocalist Lish who the group imported from New Zealand, sounds like it could be a hit duet a la Evanescence’s Amy Lee and Seether or Lacuna Coil.

The album “Better Days” is being released by Greenville, SC's Thermal Entertainment in conjunction with Megaforce Records, the company that released Metallica’s first recordings. Anthrax and Bad Brains’ latest albums also bear the Megaforce logo. Justin Rimer from 12 Stones produced the record and it sounds tailor-made for new rock stations like WEND 106.5.

You can hear much of it Thursday at The Saloon. Anything Once and Dying Alone open. 9 p.m.