Alexx Calise has been a songwriter on the rise for the past few years. Her blend of electronic and hard rock, coupled with an impeccable melodic sensibility, has garnered her both fans and praise from the even the snidest of hipster music blogs. Along with her drummer Dennis Morehouse, Calise has formed a side project band called Sound of Cancer, and they finally have a full-length record out, No Vampires in Gilroy. The record took a little over three years to write and record, and it shows in the excellent production and maturity of the material.
The songs are evocative and often brooding. Like the excellent (and recently reviving) “Cry” on Alexx’s previous album In Avanti, “Say” is a showcase for her vocal abilities in a slower song. “Say” is a melodically powerful song with intricate vocals and a stripped down acoustic sound. “Darkarnival” is a dark and dense slice of industrial-inspired rock. It’s almost something you would expect out of Nightwish. “Tasting You” is a slow burner, starting with an echoing piano and full of atmosphere, through the crushing chorus. “Vamp” and “Love” are both anchored by tightly grooved bass lines, the latter an introspective piece of songwriting from Calise that balances the heavier edged material nicely.
With the exception of “Say”, Alexx’s vocals are densely layered throughout most of the songs, but her real power is readily apparent. She can belt out with serious force pulling out some interesting lyrical twists. Her website describes No Vampires as “a concept album deeply rooted in existentialism, and chronicles the demise of the human spirit.” Pretty heady stuff, but it’s not pretentiously presented.
No Vampires in Gilroy is a strong release from Calise and Morehouse. Alexx has been simmering below the mainstream radar for a few years now. Her Sounds of Cancer should help push her over the edge.