National Rock Review 2017
Elsie Binx wows a packed house at the CD release party for That’s What She Said with support from Reign, Those Hounds, and Acoustic Ash.
Acoustic Ash, a singer and guitarist originally from England, kicks off the evening. She plays easy listening folk and acoustic music. Her set is brief, but the audience loves it. It includes a great cover of “Revolution” by Tracy Chapman.
In between bands, host Mark Milez along with DJs Larry Fant II and Joshauah Jacob crank out some hip-hop jams and mixes. Beatbox artist Julian Rosen also joins them for a bit and entertains the audience.
Those Hounds from Detroit, MI hit the stage next with a fury of energy and sound. Drummer Kevin Beattie plays at a rapid pace while bassist Charles King bounds all over the stage. Guitarist and vocalist Ivan Fargo tears off plenty of riffs with heavy distortion and fuzz that give the songs their edge. They rip through a set that includes “Mr. Undertow”, “Song for Miscreants”, and “Obscured” from their Matrimony EP.
Reign from Clarkston, MI continues the great evening with some awesome progressive rock and metal along the lines of Dream Theater and Kamelot. The band blazes through a hard-hitting set that includes the songs “Nightmare”, “The Quest”, “Haunted”, “Embers”, and “The Quickening”. They even play an awesome cover of “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. The blend of the instruments and the soaring, dual vocals of Kari Stein and keyboardist Jaimi Grumblatt make for an epic, symphonic sound. Jarrod Grumblatt’s fingers traverse the guitar at breakneck speed during the many solos. Rounding out the band are drummer Mike Klaiber and bassist Scott “Reno” Parker, who provide the solid, driving rhythm.
With a lengthy break after Reign, the crowd packs the floor near the stage and waits for the headliner to take the stage. Host Mark Milez says a few words before he hands the mic over to Screamin’ Scott Randall from WRIF radio who makes a few comments and then announces the stars of the evening, Elsie Binx.
The lights dim and the “Intro” song from the just released That’s What She Said CD starts playing. Slowly the band members start taking the stage before lead singer Erin Accomando enters the room and the band launches into “Say You Will”. Erin is the leader of the band and commands the stage like a seasoned pro. She interacts with the audience on many occasions and is constantly hopping and dancing about the whole stage.
Many of the songs are straight-ahead rockers, some with a bluesy feel to them including “Should’ve Known”, “You Can’t”, and “Look Out”. The band is tight across these songs led by dual guitarists Jon Neville and Phil Steuer, who play off each other on many of the songs. Phil is quite animated on stage tonight; running, jumping, and thrashing about with endless abound. Bassist Jason Quartuccio and drummer Dylan McCarty provide the pounding beat and groove. Both are quite active too with Jason whipping his bass and hair around and Dylan pounding the skins with authority.
The band gets the crowd fired up before they slow things down a bit with “Held Under” and “Shine”. Julie Spicer adds the soft touches on the keyboards, and backup singers Taylor Bruno and Lish blend their vocal harmonies that add the uniqueness to the Elsie Binx sound that is missing from many rock bands today.
A few of the standout songs come towards the end of their set. “Before I’m Dead” is a power ballad that builds up slowly and really shows off vocalist Erin’s talented voice and features some great guitar solos. They also do a killer version of Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night” that has every band member giving it their all and drawing huge cheers from the crowd. Their version gives the original and another recent cover by Halestorm a run for their money. Once again, Erin shows off her stellar vocals hitting plenty of high notes and screams. They close out the night with “Holding On”. It is a great performance by this up and coming band and it leaves their fans wanting more.
Somehow Elsie Binx manages to make great use of the small stage with singer Erin, guitarists Phil and Jon, and bassist Jason working it throughout the set. The stage may be small, but the lighting is great with vivid green, red, purple, blue and plenty of white light that makes for great video and photo memories. The sound is also dialled in tight tonight.
Elsie Binx stops several times during their set to draw raffle winners for several items. This includes a few gift baskets of band related merchandise, as well as two autographed items. The first is a large drum head. The last item is a custom, green guitar with the “EBX” logo on it. It is quite a cool guitar.
Be sure to check out their two CD releases and catch them live when you can as they sound even better in person. Their music is influenced by artists such as Lzzy Hale (Halestorm), Pearl Jam, and Led Zeppelin just to name a few. Many of the songs deal with relationships and just getting through daily life. All the band members work on the music together and their latest CD was recorded live digitally and then produced afterwards by Kevin Wesley Williams at The Sound Shop.
Elsie Binx is a band that is creating a lot of buzz in the MI area. They are nominated for multiple Detroit Music Awards this year. They are also looking to get on the road and tour in the future.
The full setlist for Elsie Binx is “Intro”, “Say You Will”, “Should’ve Known”, “You Can’t”, “Look Out”, “Held Under”, “Shine”, “Get Up”, “Sugar Dog”, “Before I’m Dead”, “Alone Again”, “Still of the Night”, and “Holding On”. All the songs are from their latest release except “Get Up”, which is from the 2015 release Smile and a Bullet.
The Even Ground
There were a lot of musicians involved with the making of Smile and a Bullet by ELSIE BINX. Erin Accomando (vocals), Phil Steuer (guitar), Jason Quartuccio (bass), Dylan McCarty (drums), AaronGTV (guitar), Josh Ford (guitar solo) and Julie Haven (piano) all had their part.
The music clearly belongs under the label of pop/rock. As I was listening to the album I was trying to figure what demographic would appreciate the music. It certainly doesn’t sound like a good fit for the underground and doesn’t feel too apt to work in contemporary mainstream music either. Perhaps that is good thing.
Most of the songs on this album are upbeat, well written and also follow a very predictable structure for better or worse. There is a vibe that the band was giving off that is hard to pinpoint but it almost felt like the songs were a bit too prepackaged in a commercial late ‘80s or early ‘90s type of way which is all in the production. It’s a sound that I think some will appreciate more than others so I encourage you to take a listen.
The band kicks things off with “Best Of Me” which is a single worthy song. Accomando shows off her chops as a singer as the music revolves around a clean bass, distorted power chords and a steady drum beat. The lyrics are extremely straightforward with no poetic ambiguity. She sings, “You get the break up, it’s all in your past / You know what people say about you – nice guys finish last / but in my head, I know I should be with you instead / I’ve never doubted just how you feel / But every time that we’re together it just gets more real / And I can start to see that you can have the best of me.”
“Get Up” had the potential to be a bit too hokey but the song redeems itself with a great chorus while “Gemini” is another solid tune that revolves around some of the turbulence you can experience after the initial burst of new romantic relationship. As the album progresses “Seymore” and “Maybe” were the other highlights. That being said all the songs feel torn from the same cloth.
Smile and a Bullet has a distinct vibe and production style, which may have had a broader appeal to a couple of decades. That being said these things are cyclical and there are surely people out there who will appreciate what they are doing.
This local Detroit act recorded and released an extremely impressive crowd funded album. A slightly more rocking pop-rock album has hints of the late nineties and early 2000’s. So much so that the first track “Best of Me” sounds like a nineties sitcom theme song. Every single song has a great hook to draw you in and make you want to listen over and over.
This album has got me excited about local Detroit music again.
Favorite tracks – Get Up, Seymore
NATIONAL ROCK REVIEW
An impressive amount of passion, effort, and manpower was utilized in Elsie Binx’s debut album, Smile and a Bullet.
To create the album, four backup singers, several guitarists, a pianist, organist, and renowned engineers — to name a few — were used. The seven tracks were completely funded via vocalist Erin Accomando’s Indiegogo page. Accomando kept her fans and donors updated and involved via social media throughout the whole recording process.
Smile and a Bullet was released October 27, 2016, but sounds like it in the early 90s. The album’s opening track, “Best of Me,” could easily replace the Party of Five theme song.
“Get up” has the same catchy, feel-good effect; Get up get out back to the grind / there’s a smile and a bullet with you in mind / Why stay down when you’re so close to shining. Very ‘Full House.’
While there’s no denying Elsie Binx’s vocal and instrumental talent, the sound is a little hard to identify. It falls somewhere between a 90s sitcom and the church channel. The track possesses a vibe when listening to “10 Ft” in particular. The sound is almost reminiscent of a gospel group with secular lyrics.
The album’s last track, “Maybe,” is worth noting. It’s an edgier song with a little more soul than the others. The opening piano and violin compliment each other and immediately hook you in a way that can’t be easily explained. The heavier guitar riffs are a pleasant surprise, too.
Smile and a Bullet isn’t something a younger pop-rock generation would be into, but it is a unique album filled with talented vocals, musicians, and passion. This song is a recommended listen if you’re feeling nostalgic and looking for something different.