Cleveland’s Hard Rock Hope

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Cleveland, Ohio, is my hometown. I was born and raised here. I neither love nor dislike this city. It’s just where I happen to live, and work as a civilian employee of the U.S. Department of Defense. Luckily, as a life-long denizen of the North Coast, I am not a sports fan, so, I’m not as frustrated as most other (mostly male) Clevelanders. However, I am a rock music fan …

Cleveland, of course, is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Legendary DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase “rock and roll” right here in Cleveland in the early 1950s on what was once WJW AM radio. However, despite having this claim to rock fame, Cleveland has never really been considered a rock music town, like L.A, New York, Seattle, etc. Sure, Cleveland had the influential ’70s power poppers The Raspberries, as well as punk rockers The Dead Boys, experimental art-rockers Pere Ubu, and Trent Reznor‘s industrial rock icons Nine Inch Nails; while Akron, just 40 miles south of Cleveland, is home to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders (who formed in England), new wavers Devo, and bluesy garage rockers The Black Keys. But, great Cleveland/Akron bands are few and far between; and, Cleveland is definitely not a hard rock town, but, I think, that’s all about to change.

Meet UnSaid Fate

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UnSaid Fate is a female-fronted alternative/hard rock band based right here in Cleveland, OH, and, they’ve recently released an excellent new EP titled Never Turning Back (2014). The band, currenty, is Jackie LaPonza (vocals), Patrick Ols (guitar), Don DeBiase (guitar), Donovan St. Clair (bass), and Jackie‘s brother Mike LaPonza (drums). UnSaid Fate, with a female on vocals and her brother on drums, is Cleveland’s answer to Halestorm. But, where Halestorm‘s sound embraces sleaze and Bon Jovi-esque hard rock, UnSaid Fate‘s sound veers closer to Evanescence-esque alternative rock and metalcore territory. They call it “active rock.” However, Jackie LaPonza, like Lzzy Hale, is gifted with an amazing voice, perfectly matched to her band’s harder-edged melodies. In addition, LaPonza, like Hale, was voted one of the The 25 Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock. She was #25 in the Sep/Oct 2012 issue of Revolver magazine. Lzzy Hale was #1, but, Jackie LaPonza will get there soon enough, I’m sure.

UnSaidFate-03UnSaid Fate “formed from the ashes of the highly acclaimed regional band Jackie.” They self-released two albums under that name, Jackie (2005) and Almost Broken (2009). I have to admit that I didn’t know who Jackie was when Jackie existed. So, when I wrote about UnSaid Fate on my other blog, I quickly assessed those early albums. I liked what I heard. However, now, as I’m re-listening to UnSaid Fate‘s original incarnation, I’m finding that I’m loving Jackie, and wishing I would have known who they were when they existed.

Jackie‘s self-titled debut delivers ten tracks of gritty Pat Benatar-esque rock that is hindered only by a lack of quality production. “High Above”, “Crystal Clear” and “Bad Ones” are the best hard rockers, while the pop/rocker “Baby” and the acoustic ballad “Searchin'” ofter a softer side.

Jackie‘s 2nd album, Almost Broken, scores with better production, stronger vocals and even bigger hooks. “Falling Down” is, arguably, the  best track here and should have, at the least, rocked local Cleveland radio. “Always” and “Faithful” are great tracks, too; but, they were re-recorded by UnSaid Fate, in glossier versions, for their debut EP. “Searchin'”, from Jackie‘s debut, was re-recorded for the sophomore release with the full band kicking in, upping the tempo, at the mid-point of this introspective ballad. Other favorites include the hard rocker “Go”, the pop/punker “Can’t You See”, and, the power ballads “Air You Breathe” and “More Than This”. Finally, “Muzik Gods” is an awesome kiss-off to the industry that ignores deserving band’s like this one. LaPonza advises: “Throw all your hands up, put your middle fingers straight / Turn to your neighbor and say have a real nice day.” She adds: “This is what it feels like when the muzik gods shit on us.” The industry sucks.

So, Jackie regrouped, and, returned with a vengeance as UnSaid Fate, releasing the single “Our Addiction” in early 2013. UnSaid Fate kick out a harder but no less melodic alternative rock sound which demands that those muzik gods listen. Sure, Jackie LaPonza is a hot hard rock chick, but, she backs up those looks with a stunning voice, and, in UnSaid Fate, she has never sounded better with a bit of a mature raspy tone. Luckily, LaPonza is backed by a band whose powerful sound is strong enough to match her fierce talent.

UnSaid Fate‘s debut EP Never Turning Back (2014) opens with that previously released single which is the band’s battle cry. “This is our addiction / You better fucking listen / ‘Cause it’s our lives,” LaPonza belts out, challenging the muzik gods to give them what they deserve. “Our Addiction” is a great single, for sure, but, the second track “Never Coming Back” is even better. This emotional rocker is just waiting to be played on alternative rock radio. “Cuz I’m leaving, not coming back / You’re all the reasons my heart has a crack,” LaPonza declares, and, I have to wonder who hurt Jackie [the girl, not the band] so bad. It was a fool, I’m sure. But, as if that track weren’t intense enough, in the blazing power ballad, “Memories”, LaPonza‘s fragile heart is left wanting more even though she faces a sad truth: “Holding on to what’s been lost inside – it’s over.” The re-recorded versions of “Always” and “Faithful”, and, another new track “Fear Inside”, round out a near perfect alt-rock EP.

UnSaid Fate is Cleveland’s hard rock hope, and, I’m holding out for them because I think they have the potential to make as much of an impact on the female-fronted hard rock, alternative and metalcore scenes as Halestorm, Evanescence, In This Moment, Paramore, or any other band that has influenced them have.

So, get on board, and “fucking listen” already …

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One thought on “Cleveland’s Hard Rock Hope

  1. Pingback: UnSaid Fate « Girls, Guns & Zombies!

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