By Matthew Cox
For rock lovers who think that many new hard rock bands are dominated by imitators of the grunge era, prepare to pump your brakes and take your ass back to school faster than the Deftones. Stitched Up Heart’s newest album, Never Alone, breathes fresher than a newborn baby wrapped in dryer sheets. The California band’s first album following the release of their debut, Stitched Up Heart EP or Skeleton Key, has more range and depth than most new albums for a band so newly mainstream.
The band’s lead singer, Alexia ‘Mixi’ Demner, is one of rock’s most beautiful leading ladies, and yet it’s the least interesting thing about the band. Their chemistry as a union of musicians is rivaled by few, if for no other reason than their passion, put forth with lyrics and chords, that feel like every song is sung and played as if it were the band’s swan song. Speaking from personal experience, a written review of their live performances is a monster compared to the event horizon of their presence, a permeation of emotion that won’t let you leave, one that rivals bands such as Halestorm and In This Moment in sincerity.
Their inner core consists of the nearly unparalleled vocal range of Mixi, combined with a uniquely solid instrumental accompaniment whose emotional and musical range is greater than the Adirondacks themselves. The band channels feelings of Coheed and Cambria with their song “Grave,” a Foo Fighters reverence with “Dead Walking,” an almost punk feel with “Change,” and even seems to invoke the soul of Maria Brink herself with “Monster.” Yet nothing feels contrived or duplicated; their sound is their own, as pure as their live temperament.
Last is the message one is left with after dissecting the lyrics and message of the album. Never Alone, as Mixi herself describes it, is just that; you are not alone. Much of the genre of new hard rock has a feeling of solidarity and compassion that isn’t seen in any other type of music, even though much of the catharsis of the message is felt through anger by the events around us. Yet when the band speaks of raw emotion, such as through a song they rarely sing live anymore from their EP called “Now That You’re Gone,” you can hear it, even feel it in the album, personified exponentially through their live performances. Indeed, Never Alone is the solidarity through which this genre thrives, which makes Stitched Up Heart that much more deserving of the praise of their newest album.
Rock lovers require authenticity, passion, and originality in their genre. In an era of trite pop imitators and synthesized sounds, this album metaphorically sends listeners to a time when lyrics and presence of a group of musicians defined their genre. Never Alone personifies the new hard rock genre to near perfection. To put it frankly and to quote the legend that is System of a Down, BUY THIS ALBUM (I may be paraphrasing).
Never Alone drops June 17, 2016.