music, Music Reviews, New Music, New Releases, Rock Music, Rock'n'Roll, The Warning, Villarreal Sisters

The Wait is Over! ERROR, the Latest Full Album by The Warning Is Here!

Recorded in 2020, the release of ERROR was delayed for two years due to the pandemic leading to a late 2021 release of the MAYDAY EP comprising six of the tracks that are included on ERROR. The new album includes the brief instrumental “INTRO 404” as well as the bonus track “BREATHE” plus six other tracks, beyond the recently released single “MONEY”, the title track and newest single, “ERROR”, “AMOUR” – which features a verse sung in French, “KOOL AID KIDS”, “REVENANT”, and “23”.

If you haven’t yet heard of The Warning (or haven’t read my previous review dated 1.18.22 for their MAYDAY EP) the band consists of three hard-rocking sisters from Monterrey, Mexico who have been performing together for over ten years. They began as children recording videos of music covers from such bands as Metallica, Muse, Foo Fighters, Twisted Sister, and more, several of those videos have long since gone viral. They are currently under contract with Lava/Republic Records. ERROR is their third studio offering, the two previous albums – XXI CENTURY BLOOD and QUEEN OF THE MURDER SCENE were independently produced and financed by their ever-growing legion of fans. They have released two EPs: ESCAPE THE MIND and the aforementioned MAYDAY. Their discography also includes NARCISISTA, a stand-alone single performed in their native Spanish, and ENTER SANDMAN, a reimagining of Metallica’s chart-topping single. The Warning’s version features Grammy Award-Winning artist Alessia Cara and was included on last year’s 30th Anniversary Black List tribute album.

Dany (Daniela Villarreal), 22, the band’s lead guitarist who also plays piano, is the lead vocalist on the new tracks: “MONEY”, “AMOUR”, “ERROR”, and “KOOL AID KIDS”. Her range is well established from their previous releases. She has a powerful, expressive voice well suited for Rock music and the ability to belt it out whenever the song calls for it. She is always busy on the stage, crafting the guitar sound with her pedalboard between stretches of “Dany Dancing”, hopping around, and engaging the crowd with her self-deprecating humor and energetic stage presence. She is a human dynamo that powers the band on stage, not that her sisters aren’t contributing their energy to one another, but you can see the difference whenever she is under the weather, as she was for a couple of shows during the recent Mayday Tour.

Pau (Paulina Villarreal), 20, who is the band’s regular background vocalist as well as the percussionist and occasional pianist, serves as lead vocalist on three of the new tracks -“23”, “REVENANT”, and “BREATHE”. Although she sings lead on other tracks from previous releases and all of them are fan favorites, I find her voice raspier and perhaps more emotional though her range as a belter hasn’t compared to her sister, Dany – or at least not until this album. “BREATHE” is a simple but powerful and emotional acoustic track featuring Pau’s talent on the keys, the same piano on which TW composes their songs. I think the three tracks featuring her voice will introduce her to the wider world as a gifted lead vocalist.

Ale (Alejandra Villarreal), 17, the youngest of the sisters, is the bassist and background vocalist who anchors the instrumental elements of the band, consistently laying down the rhythmic foundation with inventive runs around the chord sequences. Listen to “KOOL AID KIDS” for a great example of what she does to compensate for the lack of a rhythm guitar. Also, listen to the driving bass lines of “Z” that carry the song throughout while for stretches the guitar is intentionally absent under the lead vocal. She is the perfect complement to her sisters for the power trio concept. The Warning would not be as hard-hitting without her. Her work on “ANIMOSITY” is also worth a listen. For whatever reason, the bass is sometimes subdued in the overall mix on this album – meaning you have to listen for it. But if you pay attention you will quickly appreciate Ale’s ability.

My Take:

Many (if not most) fans of The Warning will claim they are the greatest Rock band ever. Despite the hyperbole, they have impressive skills and a lot of potential to grow. The fact is they write consistently solid songs with catchy lyrics around earworm-quality riffs that hook well. Some comment that they are still so young, as if that is some kind of curse, or that their abilities are so impressive because of their youth. While it’s true, that needs to be reconciled against their experience. They have been playing as a band for over ten years. And being sisters, they have a level of natural cohesion bordering on being telepathically linked.

Historically, most recording artists have achieved their best work well before age 30. So, I rather think The Warning is just now entering their prime creative years. The composition process usually starts with Pau at the piano in their house. She also serves as the band’s primary lyricist. Dany and Ale contribute in the collaboration with their instrumental parts before the trio debates any changes to adjust for nuance to refine the song. You see, they each have specialties though they are multi-instrumentalists. There are some amusing videos out and about on the Internet of each of them attempting to teach their sisters how to play a different instrument. I wouldn’t count any of them out at mastering another instrument, at least enough to perform on stage for a song or two, but none of them are there quite yet. Still, it is a good exercise, to learn to appreciate the subtleties of crafting a song on a different instrument.

The band is certainly gaining attention and frankly, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Will these ladies ever write a bad song? Well, they have over 50 in their current discography and a solid case can be made that there isn’t a single filler tune in the lot. They are adventurous and ambitious, having composed and recorded a ‘rock opera’ when the eldest member of the band, Dany was 17 or 18 years old. A music video that accompanied the title song of their debut album, XXI Century Blood won several awards. It’s debatable whether anything they do is groundbreaking or even earth-shattering except to say that they are rare as an entirely female rock trio, and rarer yet that they don’t overtly play up to the hypersexuality one might expect from marketing an all-female group. They let the quality of their music become the featured selling point and it is for this reason I eagerly look forward to their future. They have four more albums remaining in their current contract and I bet there will be plenty more to come after.

Obviously, The Warning didn’t have much of a choice about when to release these songs. Not only did the pandemic intervene to thwart the best intentions of a marketing plan, but also twice their North American Tour in support of the release of their MAYDAY EP was delayed a couple of times before finally realizing a successful start earlier this year. Since the EP songs also appear on ERROR, they have been performing half of the new album’s songs live as they have traversed the US and eastern Canada, meeting their fans and performing to adoring crowds. Several of their appearances were sold out.

Of the new tracks, ERROR and AMOUR are likely the most commercially viable candidates for immediate airplay. They feature Dany’s powerful voice and follow the tradition of their earlier singles CHOKE and EVOLVE. However, I find the new tracks that feature Pau’s vocals most intriguing. They are a bit more subdued that the usual fare I’ve come to expect from The Warning. Pau’s voice has always been a refreshing change-up from her sister’s, lending a husky rawness that stands out. But here, Pau’s voice presents a level of softness that we haven’t heard before. Even though the role of her vocals is more often to blend and harmonize, her performance on the three tracks that feature her is a stunning example of her potential for a front person, something I’d love to see more of in the future. Also, having two lead vocalists in the band (as Pau has performed in the lead role on several of their past songs and occasionally substituted for Dany in a pinch whenever her sister was ill) allows Dany’s voice to rest during a concert. As the band’s tour schedule expands in the near future to become even more rigorous, this ability to change things up with the vocals will become increasingly important. Even Ale, who rarely sings lead, has pitched in to help out from time to time. Those unicorn moments are revered among faithful fans and fan musicians who understand the complexities of being able to play an instrument while singing, especially singing lead while playing bass guitar. That must require the use of two different parts of the brain.

There is a special feeling about the ERROR album that belies its lyrics. It is a concept album in the truest sense, though not as overtly as its predecessor, Queen of The Murder Scene. The songs share a thread of continuity and an overall theme. The ladies readily borrow elements of style from their musical influences, but what they produce is distinctly their own take on Rock music – a reinvention of what is still possible in the genre. Several of the new songs have the potential for airplay and even reach the mainstream pop charts. Will that happen? Who is to say? The music industry has been trying to bury the Rock genre since at least the mid-1990s. But what is more Rock’n’Roll than coming back from the dead as a new generation adopts the rebelliousness that allows for the greatest possible freedom to express? The Warning has all of that in spades. Don’t be deceived by their youthful cuteness or diminutive sizes. They are predators, albeit disarmingly attractive ones, aiming to take the world, one song at a time.

We can expect more great things from The Warning as their fanbase continues to expand based on the exposure their music is now receiving through airplay and being featured at sporting events and on TV. I can’t wait to see what they do next. Their lyrics are never ill-guided or meaningless fluff. These young women have something to say and being multi-lingual, they’re able to communicate to the masses on a level that is rare in Rock music. Yes, most of their songs are composed in English, but their fluency allows them to impress interviewers with how comfortable they are at handling the media. Their slight accents are easily overlooked. What is perhaps more impressive is that during their concerts, a lot of native English speakers are singing along in Spanish to MARTIRO and NARCISISTA and the beg ‘otra’ when it’s time for an encore.

Rumor has it they are working on a UK and European Tour for next year. But closer to home, this Summer they are touring with Halestorm, The Pretty Reckless, Lilith Czar, and later in the Fall, they will be touring Canada with Three Days Grace. With this level of exposure before larger crowds, expect future US and Canadian tours to be on a grander scale in much larger venues. If you don’t see them on this tour, you may miss your chance at catching an intimate performance in a small club.

For more information: THE WARNING BAND

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Shatter Me – Lindsey Stirling Continues Her Innovative Musical Direction

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The problem I have with TV talent shows like America’s Got Talent is that the judges are inclined to select more of the same sort of mainstream music that we already have. In the process many talented people are overlooked. Take Lindsey Stirling as an example. A classically trained violinist who had an idea of fusing some popular trends in music with her skill on her instrument of choice, her crazy idea took her to the quarterfinals until Piers Morgan told her that she didn’t have what the public wanted.

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Lindsey didn’t give up on her dream, though. She took Morgan’s words to heart and was determined to prove him wrong about her and her music. Taking her case directly to the masses through videos posted on her YouTube channel, after gaining viral popularity from a growing fan base she released of a self-titled debut album. And then, she went on tour both in America and abroad where she performed her combination of music and free form dance for her adoring fans.

Lindsey has just released her second album titled Shatter Me. It continues in the tradition of the first, combining electronic, techno, hip-hop and dub-step with a violin as a lead instrument. The result is a fusion of classical violin with a modern beat. Her music is both inspiring and thoroughly listenable from the first track to the last.

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Now there is something new to listen to thanks to the artist for not listening to the critics and naysayers. Her work is mainly a melodious blending of instrumental with some harmonic vocalizations. But the title track, Shatter Me, features Lzzy Hale of Halestorm on the vocals of a song about breaking free of limitations – kind of a song about Stirling’s own process of becoming a rising star on the music scene. To the aspiring artists among us, take Lindsey Stirling as an strong example to never give up on your dreams and always take your case to the public where you will find your fans.

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