Reviewed: December 2020
Released: 2021, Eclipse Records
Reviewer: Rebecca Bush
Hailing from Buffalo, NY, Hearts & Hand Grenades explodes onto the scene with their debut release of ‘Turning To Ashes.’ After being discovered by none other than Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac, the band were taken to producer Justin Rose (James Taylor, Goo Goo Dolls) and the rest is history.
The first thing that struck me, and my first experience of Hearts & Hand Grenades during track 01, Turning To Ashes, is the extremely impressive vocal range of frontwoman Stephanie Wlosinski. Without knowing too much about Stephanie, or whether she has been classically trained or not, she has the pipes to lead Hearts & Hand Grenades. I feel her vocals outshine the musical accompaniment here as if they are playing it safe, but I am hopeful and excited to see what the rest of this release brings to me.
‘For The Weakened,’ brings it up a level, with a punch I felt was lacking in the introduction, and I feel I am slowly beginning to understand their style, they are packed with energy and fist-clenching grit. I can already see the fists pumping into the air during a live performance of this track, as the crowd shouts back, ‘raise your fists and yell!’ as the lights pulse over the audience.
‘Daggers,’ is a more up-tempo number giving me the hypnotic nodding head that I’d been waiting for. It’s punchy, it’s rocky, it’s the glow from the lighthouse that’s finally turned around, and I feel their passion as they blast through this track. For a debut album, ‘Turning To Ashes’ already feels well polished and accomplished.
‘Hide’ gives us time time to gather our breath and thoughts, it feels settled in between its hard-rocking brothers and sisters. We see the softer side to the possibility of this band’s music, and it feels neither out of place nor unwelcome. Just as we gather our breath, ‘Adrenaline’ extends a hand, pulls us from the ground, and tells us to get our ass-kicking boots back on. ‘Hit me like adrenaline!’ Stephanie growls, and we growl back as we wipe the blood from our noses!
After a couple of tracks fly by that scream all things ‘Hearts & Hand Grenades’, we come up against the formidable, ‘The In Crowd,’ that welcomes us into a seedy and smoke-filled poker room, where a sure-minded Stephanie sits in the shadows, before she kicks the table over, sending the cards flying, grabs the microphone, and rushes us with an unexpected flood of energy. The chorus of this track is reminiscent of good ol’ rockabilly songs by the likes of The Creepshow and Horrorpops. The change of style here is fun to experience, great to nod your head to, and even better to stamp your foot to!
After an eclectic mix of tracks, emotions, and styles, we come to the fulmination of ‘Turning To Ashes,’ with ‘My Sickness.’ The final track of this record is raw, powerful and a strong message to never forget this band. I feel this album acts as a timeline, it begins tame, and progressively grows more aggressive, and as the growl in Stephanie’s voice begins to grow, so too does the fun in these tracks.
For a debut album, ‘Hearts & Hand Grenades’ have achieved something loud, wickedly gritty, and wonderfully entertaining. If this is the very beginning, I’m excited to see where they lead us.
1. Turning to Ashes
2. For The Weakened
4. I Hide
6. Nothing Left
7. The In Crowd
8. My Sickness
Stephanie Wlosinski – Vocals and Bass Guitar
Kenny Blesy – Lead Guitar
Mike Bress- Guitar
Tom Lafferty – Drums
‘Hearts & Hand Grenades – Turn To Ashes’ is released on 8th January 2021 on Eclipse Records.