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Hearts & Hand Grenades – Between The Lines Award winner

Hearts & Hand Grenades
Between The Lines
by Kenn Staub at 16 December 2021, 7:36 AM

HEARTS & HAND GRENADES is a New Wave of Classic Rock band from Buffalo, NY (USA). Per their promotional material, “this band is literally exploding with an edgy sound for all generations of true rock addicts.” “Between The Lines” (released November 19, 2021) is the group’s second full-length album; following their initial effort, “Turning To Ashes,” which dropped just 10 months prior (January 8, 2021). Like their first album, “Between The Lines” was produced by Justin Rose, who’s worked with the likes of the GOO GOO DOLLS, JAMES TAYLOR, and SPYRO GYRA.

From the jump, HEARTS & HAND GRENADES lay their cards on the table; opener “Scream It Out” foreshadowing the next 41 minutes of tight, riff-based musical goodness. The rhythm section is a large factor in the success of not just “Scream It Out,” but all other tracks. Stephanie Wlosinski puts down a tremendous bass bottom end, which combines with Mike Bress’s guitar playing and Tom Lafferty’s drumming to produce tremendously catchy, rock solid melodies that don’t overpower – the perfect foundation. This provides Kenny Blesy a base upon which to build guitar accents and solos that are melodically on-point and contextually relevant. In sum, “Scream It Out” is, like everything else on the album, aurally catchy and easy to get comfortable with.

The next two tracks, “Black Sunset” and “Between The Lines” are somewhat moodier in tone. Slower than the opener, “Black Sunset” features a strong melody highlighted by guitar and percussive accents. Blesy’s solo is a bit flashier, but still stays true to the structure of the song. The sawing guitar of “Between The Lines” settles into a big, propulsive groove. Lafferty can certainly pound the skins, his work not only providing each tune’s cadence, but in many instances serving to establish and reinforce overall tonality.

Secret” has an attitude, a swagger. “Tragedy” follows, an up-tempo number that drives ever forward. The rhythm section is again solid and the small breakdown acting as a bridge to the track’s outro attention grabbing. “Beautiful Pain” starts soft, the music conveying a sense of the song’s title. The song progressively grows from gentle and spare to something bigger; something more melancholy, pensive, and angrier. After it builds, “Beautiful Pain” backs off, before rising again. Wlosinski’s clear vocals, on this track and throughout the album, are emotively authentic; earnest, beautifully real. Here, as elsewhere, her vocal performance fits each song’s structure and style, setting the mood.

Bad Medicine” has a ready accessible, guitar-rock pop sensibility; reminiscent of what was heard on AOR-radio during the mid-80s. “Illogical” and “Wait” are the tracks most true to a “metal sound.” The former matches right along, transitioning from dark to light and back again. “Wait” has an urgency, shifting from harder to softer. Its synth work is impeccable and adds tremendously to the track’s feel. HEARTS & HAND GRENADES end the album with something totally different. “Moonlight” is a bit of a mini-epic, starting gently, subtly and then building ever bigger from the halfway point.

Between The Lines” is tremendous, offering something for everybody. HEARTS & HAND GRENADES dot all the “i’s and cross all the t’s,” paying attention to even the smallest details of each song’s production and performance. This attention and pride in performance takes the album to a completely different level. “Between The Lines” is proof that somebody needs to get this band out on tour, as their talent deserves showcased before a wide audience.

Musicianship: 10
Songwriting: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Scream It Out
2. Black Sunset
3. Between The Lines
4. Secret
5. Tragedy
6. Beautiful Pain
7. Bad Medicine
8. Illogical
9. Wait
10. Moonlight
Stephanie Wlosinski – Lead Vocals, Bass
Mike Bress – Guitar, Keyboard
Kenny Blesy – Lead Guitar
Tom Lafferty – Drums
Record Label: Eclipse Records


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Edited 31 January 2023

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