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"Songs from the Street"

Street-Rock editor on Minstrel & Muse

Interview and Music: Helen Austin, Ninth Floor Mannequin, Frankie Colt, and Emma Hallows

Showcasing The Best In Underground Music

"Seattle Tops Nation with Indie Album Sells!" 2013


Ninth Floor Mannequin

(Feb 2014)

As you may have noticed my writing has slowed down a bit over the past month. There are many reasons for that, changing jobs and other life circumstances but the biggest reason is because I started listening to Ninth Floor Mannequin. You see every once in a while I find something so complex and imaginative that it takes weeks to wrap my head around it and then weeks to capture all those thoughts in a review. The EP, “Green & Blue for Blackness” has so many layers I struggled to finalize my review because every time I listen, I come away discovering new things to understand and appreciate.

Distance, time and connection play major roles in the overarching theme of the EP. To fully understand that you need to know the back story leading up to its creation. Jarrod spent two weeks in coma after being hit by a drunk driver and later underwent a long struggle in rehab. This was a trying time with great uncertainty and a sobering realization that he was no longer completely in control, most importantly to the creation of the album, was a period of introspection.

There is a feeling of separation in the music as if it was moving slowly towards a comfortable yet cold place, a landscape of loneliness and self-discovery. This is the distance which is continuously felt in the music, not in space as much as the mind. A distance created by choice although an uncertain choice. It’s the mind of a man not sure where he is, where he is going or where he should be, so the distance is really an uncertain belonging and captured through the music and felt seamlessly throughout the entire EP.

Time is captured brilliantly through moments of reflection in the lyrics and also changing tempos. Personal relationships lost in time are revisited through memory. Encountered visions seen as nontangible reflections of persons so important to the establishment of our own self-identity that their absence shakes the foundation of our own self perspective. It is a battle faced every day by all of us. Memories serve to only mark time but somehow grip our souls and ultimately pull us away from or towards a new beginning.

The question of connection is the undiscovered piece of the puzzle. Can we find connection through the distance and time? What moments should we try to capture and what moments are better left at a distance? Should we embrace the drifting or should we make these connections with the past so that we can move forward with our own lives? I was unable to find the answers in the music. They may be there waiting to be discovered or perhaps the answers must be found by ourselves, through our own journey in life.

I consider the EP, “Green & Blue for Blackness” a Masterwork. A rare moment in time which draws the listener away from the Blackness of individualism to embrace an understanding of shared experience and self-understanding. A discovery of power in moments locked in time and revisited to establish one’s own connection to all that make us human.  

Although, I have finished this review I feel the journey has just begun. I am left wondering, how much deeper does this EP go? Where will it ultimately take me? I do not yet understand its impact but in time will reach its destination.

Seattle's Rock-n-Soul

"Letters from Traffic" have completed the highly anticipated "Icarus Iterations" LP, featuring 12 tracks capturing a rich tale of ontological transformation through songs that blend elemental rock, soul, funk, jazz, and blues in a way never heard before.

Few albums created today have the power to move you, strengthen your spirit and free your imagination to the magnitude that this LP will. It is a rare creation, painstakingly sculpted to reach unlocked passions of the human conscious and paint them into the fabric of the listeners soul.

Recently showcased on "Bands in Seattle" viewers were offered a rare look inside the creative genius and development of the band. I was amazed at just how much time, effort, precision and reflection went into creating the LP. Every note and every word placed delicately. Every song a key to doorways, harboring unexplored personal ideations when explored feels like a exhilarating journey through self fulfillment.

Official CD release on Sat, 1/11, Chop Suey, Seattle. Band In Seattle Presents: The Bend // The Dolly Rottens // Letters From Traffic // Gunn // Nicholas Russell Band w/ Caspian Coberly. Come out and share your AWESOME! In a night you wont forget!

Top Genre Picks


Block Fort

The EP from Block Fort is a delicious three track, Pop-Punk offering, marking the birth of the band to an international stage. Launched in September and featured as a "Best in Indie" pick, on Northwest Prime's Indie Show in December. 

They are a band any music fan will love with honest energy and passion in every song. Its real music created by real people with the purpose, to be enjoyed, and shared. 

I recently watched a video for "Quit Your Job Pt 2" and was reminded why I love this band so much. 

Block Fort plans to continue playing live shows in support of the self titled EP. You can find out where they'll be next and stay connected with all the latest news at

The Black Math


The Black Math is like a shockwave blasting into the music scene. Much like a massive earthquake leaves ripples in concrete, The Black Math will leave you reformed and delighted by the creativity and quality of Indie music. I have said “It’s in Indie that the real movement in music is happening” and this band is a perfect example of that.  

They serve up a feast of brilliant thoughts which will have you so excited, so moved you will immediately tell all your friends.  Couple these amazing lyrics with top quality recording, unique vocals and precision instrumentals and you have a band poised to take the Alternative music scene by storm.

They currently have four songs featured on “Strange State of Mind” (highlighting the universal emotional human uncertainty we all experience), “Clock Song” (clever tempo and listen closely to the lyrics on this song, wow!), “You Lie Like The Devil” (electronic-rock orchestration thrill ride, even more outstanding vocals and lyrics) and “I Know You Were Here.” (recognizing the permanent imprint one soul can leave on another).

The Black Math currently have no EP/LP available for purchase but are unveiling some new material on December 7th with music becoming available for purchase shortly after. Given the perfection delivered on these first four songs, I will buy whatever they release when it comes out, without even a preview beforehand. They bring a fresh yet trusted approach to music creation which is guaranteed to please any die-hard music lover. Check them out and join me in supporting this band!

The Vincent(s)

There are times when genius minds converge, simmer and meld together in offbeat places, and collectively shift music in a completely new direction. It’s happening today, in Ireland! There is a creative undercurrent churning up progressive talents and creating unorthodox sounds. It’s what I always refer to as the sound of the street but in the case of the Vincent(s), that street is a road most of us never travel. It’s mysterious, dark and beautiful. Its two streets down from a place Frank Black once stood and much further from the conforming societies which most of us live.

The “Valley of the Sun” EP does much more than entertain. The haunting, nearly chanting vocals on “Song of the Sea” set you up like a roller coasters slow rise to the top of the track for an exhilarating fall through an instrumental explosion, conjuring up and releasing primal emotions once locked deep within your soul.

“Trumpets and violins I can hear in the distance

I think they're calling our names

Maybe now you can't hear them, but you will

If you just take hold of my hand”

When Jimi Hendrix asked “Are your Experienced” he was asking you, have you been to this place. Did you feel that? I want you to know more about yourself, I want you to understand what’s within you and music can sometimes unlock that.

The Vincent(s) are unlocking this experience in a whole new way today. It’s a destination you must embark on, they have extended their hand to share this with you. I took their hand, took the journey and found myself today.

Go now, the Vincent(s) have created magic for you to explore!


As we close in on the end of 2013. We should not only look back on the great music created by so many new artist's, but also look to the New Year and a new band which makes a powerful statement through music creation. It's Rock ...rediscovered! You see the essence of Rock is very much alive and pumping through the veins of "Broken Witt Rebels." It's music that stirs the subdued rebel spirit that once defined a genre. Featuring kick ass instrumentals by every member of the band and amazing blue's influenced vocals. It's stripped down, crisp and clean. It feels unpolished and real with few overdubs and this "We are what you hear" approach promises for a great live show.

Strap yourself in because the EP "This Town Belongs To Me" features four tracks that round the corners on two wheels, "All Worn Out" is the first song and makes a powerful statement about the band. It's music true to it's roots and full of passion and they waste no opportunity in using all elements in music to heighten the emotional experience throughout the EP. 

Some things about the band I was most impressed with were; how well they sound as one musical unit with no one part drowning out the other, the instrumentals were continuously engaging and played well to the emotions targeted in the songs, and the contrast between frenzied instrumentals and impassioned but very well controlled vocals all combine to make this a very special band.

After listening to portions of the first two songs, I purchased the EP from iTunes for just $3.99. It has turned out to be, "some of the best music I've purchased this year." "Broken Witt Rebels" are everything a Rock fan hopes for and more. Take a listen and tell me what you think.


These Belfast Boys have become international stand-outs with their five track debut EP, Camarilla. With a genuineness which endures the music lovers ear and captures the energy of the street level artist, The Twenty mix powerful lyrics, driving tempos and smooth harmonies to create a fresh new sound that shifts Rock n Roll norms to a slightly more 70’s Punk Rock meets 21st century music landscape. It’s music less about being pissed off and more about a rediscovered power through a history of regional turmoil and oppression.  The twenty bring those same energies to fresh struggles felt on a more global level. The power is now captured in the sound and voice of a generation who are ready to right the world’s woes and shift the social conscious. 

My favorite song is “Parapet” which features some amazing Bass work, a rare but brilliant experience when done right and here it is “Oh, so right!”

Seattle has once again excited the world with an explosion of amazing and talented musicians. Bumbershoot 2013 shocked massive crowds with an overwhelming cascade of talent, many from Western Washington State. Punk Rockers "The Whywolves" have been leading the charge, capturing a loyal and energetic fan base throughout the State. With a lyrically driven approach and imaginative mix of harmonies The Whywolves are not only rising to the Top of Punk Rock but re-crafting it and have been, not only nominated, but are a leader in the King 5 "Best Local Band" competition. Yes, a Punk Band is poised to win 'Best Local Band!" If that doesn't just blow your mind, you should go take a look at just how many talented bands are in the running. Then head over to and listen to samples of their new music from the "Abandoned Complex" EP. If you love music with hard hitting, carefully crafted  lyrics backed up by clever and captivating instrumentals, The Whywolves are your band!!!! To me, this is the most exciting new band of 2013 and the future of Punk Rock!
Mixtape Saints

This is the sound of the street...Yes, when I started this site just over a month ago I did so hoping to find music just like that on the "Heavy Water" EP by Mixtape Saints. The EP is set to launch on November 2, 2013 and features four solid tracks "Sleep", "Heavy Water", "Smoke,Mirrors and Misery" and "Into the Storm." Mixed with two parts unpredictability and an undercurrent of passion, Mixtape Saints create a soul stirring, heart pounding, get up and rock!, Masterpiece!! Somehow they have connected directly into the primal passions of the human conscious and set that to sound. They sell every note and every word with a conviction and honesty so rarely found in music today. This sound is the lifeblood which inspires a man to pick up a guitar or a writer to dream. This is the sound of the broken heart and the hopeless despair of a street walker, no not defeated but healing with an unbreakable human spirit. The stories that unfold in these songs paint a somewhat bleak picture but the instrumentals and vocal delivery transform that picture to not one of despair but that of unwavering determination for success and happiness. That is exactly what Indie music can capture, that is exactly what punk music embodied during it's inception in the 1970's. It's a somewhat lost art, rediscovered here in "Heavy Water" by Mixtape Saints.


After listening to Durwood again this morning I realized that at some point I will need to stop listening and start actually writing about their music. I say this with a sigh because the journey to the written portion of this review has been so inspiring. I sat quietly and thought back on this self titled album as less of an album and more of a destination through operatic winding pathways, propelled along acoustic cobblestones and lifted softly on a blanket of passionate poetry. An angelic caress of conscience and an invitation to realize the wonder of my own life.

Durwood's approach to music is the equivalent of Norman Rockwell's approach to painting, taking the most basic elements of our day to day lives and presenting them in a fresh, honest and enduring light. You see they live in the same world as all the rest of us but somehow they see this world brighter and far more peaceful, they understand that even our deepest struggles bare spiritual awareness and fulfillment. These gals are truly gifted and their music speaks directly to the soul of anyone who listens.

Durwood is currently working several projects for TV, Film and Theater in addition to writing a new album to be released in 2014. Their ability to craft music specific to a character, event or feeling and their dedication to producing music for the human spirit in all of us, is bound to yield them great success in the future. Give them a listen! 


Avenged Sevenfold

“The bowels of hell used to disgorge metal messiahs like Avenged Sevenfold all the time. But these days, the band's vision of mainstream headbanging is as adorably quaint as a glow-in-the-dark Iron Maiden poster in a rec room that Dad converted to storage space in 1994.” Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone

At Street Rock Review we focus on bringing you the best in emerging music usually bands who are new and just trying to find an audience. Today however, after reading this horrendous review from Rolling Stone we have decided to take a step back and focus an righting a terrible wrong done to Avenged Sevenfold.

I picked up this CD last week after a friend had recommended it to me, I buy music very rarely these days but he assured me I would love it so I went ahead and bought it anyway. I listened to the whole CD at the highest volume my ears could withstand and came out the other side elated about the future of Heavy Metal. In a time that many are walking away from metal because of pop influences infiltrating and dishonoring what Metal is all about Avenged Sevenfold have stayed true to and perfected the genre in a way which would make Ronnie James Dio rise from his grave and take flight. You see Mr. Dolan you don’t understand us "metalheads" and you never will, you don’t understand that it wasn’t the "headbanging" that defined the genre it was the music, the power and the energy. This is what heavy Metal is all about and if Metal should be played then this is what it aspires to be. This is why Rolling Stone has lost credibility in music reviews; no one cares because it’s abundantly clear they don’t understand what’s happening on the street. They don’t understand what it is that motivates and excites the Heavy Metal fan. In fact, they despise us, Iron Maiden poster and all. We are not going to leave it to you Mr. Dolan to tell us what heavy Metal should be, we don’t want nor will we seek your input ever again.

“Hail To The King” is a perfect album loaded with great songs from start to finish. Avenged Sevenfold and Warner Bros. Records should be commended on this masterpiece, true to its roots, Heavy Metal album. So, listen to the album, tell a friend about the album and let’s bring Heavy Metal back!
Magpies and Vagabonds

Although I have them listed under ROCK, they are better described as ROCK/PUNK/INDIE with a raw and deceptively calm vibe the listeners inner wild side feasts. I actually started to feel cool again after listening to their latest EP "A Compass To Guide Me Home" Four songs with edge but also an imaginative and thought provoking lyrical approach. The song, "Disappointment and Desires" recognizes a collapsed relationship and the promise of eternal bonds optimistically. That topic alone could be discussed in an entire blog because it provokes so many human emotions, which we all contemplate at one time or another. "Somewhere in my mind, we're growing old together and we'll die intertwined" drive the songs lyrical passion, enhanced by very enjoyable melodies and instrumentals. This EP should not only be on your playlist but set to regular rotation. Magpies and Vagabonds are one of the most exciting and talented new bands in music today. Get to know them now and be prepared for another EP in 2014.
A Killing Dove
We did some last minute shuffling this week to get this band front and center for you. "A Killing Dove"  sent us a link to their music this morning and we've been talking about them ever since. These guys have mastered the art of using the very best in what has inspired them over the years, add in their own unique flavor and create a fresh, captivating sound. I was listening, writing down all the influences I was hearing until I finally just gave up. It's like, they took me all the way through my young adult life in one song. I can't get enough of "Still Frame Fire" and feel like I could; take up all the space just on that one song alone, but they have song after song, jam after jam. It's really left me shaking my head; why is this band not playing sold out stadiums all over the globe? Oh!... If you have anything "HIP" about you at all, you need to click this link!
Dos Ringos
This band has a very different sound I really find interesting. In fact, I wasn't too sure which genre to put them in. I decided Folk but you may wish to think of them as Country, Rock or Americana. The song "Long Time" is at the moment my favorite, it's rhythm and lyrics are hard to get out of your head, in this case, that's a good thing. I sat listening to this song several times. It felt like I knew what the songs message was but then again, I wasn't exactly sure. Perhaps it isn't suppose to be clear. Maybe the message is; we are all trying to figure out everything in our lives and living is suppose to be mysterious is some ways. We need to move on from things and accept whats coming our way. Good or bad we are all going somewhere, even today, and embrace that fact with optimism and anxious wonder. Whatever the meaning, this Bands ability to write profoundly has landed them as a "Top Pick" this week. Listen and tell me what your thought are.
The Bruises

The Bruises are the most surprising Rock Indie band touring small clubs throughout the country today. With every stop the band plays, they seem to pick up even more momentum. Delivering a smooth and energetic attack, The Bruises coax you into a hip and refreshing Rock and Roll hypnosis. What I was most impressed with was how well the band sounds together as one unit. It seems that the magic in their music is really how well each plays to the need of the song to establish the appropriate feel. It comes across very unintentional but this is hard to create and for those who are able, success is usually right around the corner. Add to that the extensive list of quality songs; this is a band you need to explore further

Helen Austin
Helen Austin is an icon in music but I'll be honest, until just recently I didn't know who she was. It was one of those "where the hell have I been moments." She was Juno Nominated 2013, John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner 2012, Female Songwriter and Artist of the Year 2011 Vancouver Island Music Awards. Few people have the ability to write words, mix them to music and reach out and actually embrace the soul. Listening to her music is an experience that once you've felt it you can't get enough of. Although she is not really in keeping with the underground mission of this site, If I can turn even one soul towards the light of peace offered through her songs, then I have to do it. Now, sit back and take YOUR soul to this experience

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