Locals, me we meet again! My radar has been buzzing like crazy lately. I guess a new season with new temperatures means new music, new bands, and even some lineup changes. So many acts are releasing new material, including Set It Free’s Don’t Stand Alone, Boy Meets Machine’s War Horn, and so much more. I love the direction all my local friends are headed in, and the path my new prospects are on as well. Sometimes when I’m writing these articles, I try, if applicable, to focus on a theme of some sort. It’s not always that easy because if something has grabbed my attention, I am not going to set it aside for a few weeks; I will pour it into words. We have focused on duos, indie groups, eclectic bands and so much more. This week, I have decided to focus on the power of female-fronted rock. I am such a sucker for chicks with vocals; rockers like the Wilson sisters, Lita Ford, Hayley Williams, Lzzy Hale, Amy Lee, Gwen Stefani, and countless others. I always yearned to be a frontwoman but I’ve come to the realization that after 26 years, sometimes singing to the shampoo bottle in the shower just doesn’t cut it. I have dabbled in a few of these on my local radar, including The New Royalty, but I want to focus this article on the power of rock divas. So on that note, please allow me to introduce to you New Day Dawn and Vextion.
Let me touch on a nifty four-piece from Maplewood known as New Day Dawn. Fronted by the ferocious, dominating Dawn Botti, this rock band will demand your attention. In a world of 24/7 media, there are so many bands out there fronted by women, yet they do not get the exposure of male-fronted bands (unless they are a sex symbol). Take Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless, for example. She has an implausible voice and insane stage presence, everything a frontwoman needs. But the media tends to focus on her scandalous attire and “eff you” attitude towards the world. I wish people would take the time to actually shut their eyes and spin her records. On the other hand, Dawn is classy and stunning, but is mostly known for her weapon of choice—her voice. She verifies herself to be a dazzling live vocalist with her vocals sounding just as good, if not better, than they do on recordings. Of course we cannot forget the rest of the band, including Gary, PJ, and Alex. Without those guys the sound, and band, would not be whole. After all, you cannot complete a puzzle without all the proper pieces. Each one of them brings something to the table that we simply could not cut out. I saw these guys for the first time at The Stone Pony about a year ago, and they have consistently remained on my radar. People were purchasing their CDs and buzzing about them all night long. They just released a new single, “Runaway,” and it puts the band in the direction they need to be. It was written by Dawn herself, and produced by Chris Henderson of 3 Doors Down. Their songs are meaningful; not cookie cutter junk about partying. New Day Dawn strike the most flawless balance between stimulating swagger and vivid songwriting. I am stoked that they decided to share their new music with me, and even more excited to spin it on my show for all of you locals to hear. Their blend of pushy riffs and aggressive vocals keep bashing my hot button. Be sure to keep these guys in the back of your head, for they will be emerging soon with new music and live shows.
Next, let me touch on the force that is Vextion. I have seen this band live more than most local acts because they keep driving me in for more. This hard rock group from Farmingdale knows how to bring it. Lead vocalist Kate is a complete powerhouse. Whether live or on recordings, she never fails to show that her vocal cords are made of pure gold, as she hits some immeasurable notes. Let’s just say if you need a note hit, Kate is your girl. She takes control of the audience to a point that some fans think she's been around for years. One of the many neat things about this group is how their live set shows off the band’s diverse sound and ability to not only go from one end of the rock spectrum to the other, but create a new spectrum entirely. They can throw you off by covering a pop song from Gym Class Heroes and then completely change it up to be as heavy as a cement block. From their smashing rockers to making vocals and rhythms in their completely mysterious style, Vextion wants you to strap in for the spellbinding voyage. The guitar, bass, and drumming are so tight in this group that for every chord and beat, it’s done impeccably. Every member in Vextion demands your attention and trust me; you will give it to them. They play the local scene smartly, playing large and small venues constantly and giving old and new fans the chance to experience their set. Sometimes Vextion hops on bills that do not seem to make sense, simply because of their love of music and different styles of bands. They are also huge supporters of the scene themselves, for I always see them out and about at various clubs, events, and venues. Brownie points for Vextion in my eyes. Catch these guys live on the road and grab their discs, for its money and time well spent. I don’t think a barrier, roadblock or any sort of force is stopping these guys until they reach their goal.
Although I’ve only focused on two female-fronted powerhouses, there are so many out there, especially in the local music scene. In my opinion, hard-hitting, ass-kicking women who are gorgeous and able to sing are just what this world needs more of. Oh yeah, and it helps when you have some of the best bands around backing you. Each and every one of these musicians listed is astounding and gifted. After all, there is no “I” in band. I hope you all found something for your liking this week. Check out both of these bands on the road and on social media, and tell em’ that Maria Mar sent you!