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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Crushed hard by 49 Stones

Published: December 9, 2011
Section: Arts, Etc.

I’m more than pleased to be able to present this band, as they’re one of a new breed that will soon take over the alternative scene. Their sound is done so well that I can’t wait to hear what else comes blasting from their speakers on their next record.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Enter 49 Stones, a new alternative-rock powerhouse that will redefine everything you thought you knew about music in the post-Nirvana age. Hailing from Kansas City, Mo., 49 Stones stomps onto the scene in true hard-rock fashion. Composed of hard-rocking members Emma Jo (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Brett Cox (lead guitar and backing vocals), Garrett Cox (bass and backing vocals) and Kyle Scheel (drums), 49 Stones is a hurricane of alternative prowess, combining Pearl Jam-esque guitar solos with Garbage-inspired vocals and a Smashing Pumpkins-like rhythm section.

From the start of their debut album “Turn It On,” 49 Stones has something unique that just drives me to crank the volume up all the way. The first song I listen to from the record is also my immediate favorite. “Crowded” is the song on which I’d bet my teeth is going to launch this band into the stratosphere. The second the meters start ticking, Emma’s vocals are haunting and soul-splitting, slick and sultry, but brutal and definitely not to be trifled with. With Garrett Cox’s bassline-blasts coming down around me like cannon fire, Scheel’s intense drumming keeps me moving hard through the night of this heavy masterpiece. Cymbal-cracks and snare-snaps ring back against the bass-pumps, and all the while Emma’s voice is riding shotgun high and mighty. Then out of nowhere comes Brett Cox’s high-octane guitar in a searing spectacle, shredding off whatever preconceptions I might have had before. One of my favorite things about this song is hearing Brett Cox just make that guitar scream halfway into each chorus. There is nothing I’ve heard since Alice in Chains that is so hauntingly brilliant, and that would simply be enough for this song to be a number one hit.

But 49 Stones are only halfway done and, just as Emma’s vocals of “let’s dance” ring out, Garrett Cox lets loose on a bass solo that completely blows my mind. Yes, bassists can solo, and hell yeah does this guy pull it off! With Scheel blasting on his snare in time, the Cox-Scheel rhythm section is one for all other bands to envy. As I sail into the last minute of the song riding the coattails of Brett Cox’s guitar notes, Emma has to blow my mind just one more time. The carnal shriek that this girl rings from her body literally makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What a wail this girl has and she nails every single bit of it! “Crowded” has been on repeat in my iTunes since I got this album, and all I can say is that this song is Garbage-meets-Alice in Chains in a cataclysmic mashup of sheer power.

“Are You Listening” has a more hard-rock crunch than “Crowded,” but still emits an alternative vibe in Emma’s smooth yet firm vocal roar, and alongside Brett Cox’s fretwork, 49 Stones make this one of their best performances. Scheel is going crazy all over his kit, and the 3 Doors Down-esque tempo set up by the Cox twins and Emma just kicks down anything standing in their way. Emma’s voice is like a sonic battering ram, crashing through my senses like an earthquake of raw power.

Then the earthquake turns into a tsunami of epic proportions as I move to “Indigo,” and Emma trades up her battering-ram vocals for something different. With Brett Cox’s guitar notes ringing high overhead, Scheel keeps time as my face melts off, skewered by these soon-to-be alternative-rock gods. Another five-star track on an album of five-star tracks, “Indigo” just solidifies my belief in this band.

With other mind-blowing feats showing up all over the album, 49 Stones continue to impress me. Brett Cox’s guitar solo on “Devil All Along” is not to be ignored in the slightest, and the rhythm team of Garrett Cox and Kyle Scheel bangs life into all parts of this album. Emma’s breathy vocals continue to blow my mind even after the album is done, and I have to play it again just to make sure I didn’t miss a single thing. The heavy tapestry woven throughout “Turn It On” is vivid and powerful, and a critical force with which to be reckoned. If you’re looking for the next big thing on the alternative rock scene, here they are: loud, brash and brilliant.