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The best kept secret in music


"A Breath of Fresh Air"

Listening to Novice is like stepping outside and taking a breath of the same air you breathe everyday. But this time, the air tastes different. When you inhale, it feels new, crisp, and clean. Your previous conceptions of the air you breathe are thrown away. Novice brings something refreshing to an overpopulated genre – what the scenesters call “screamo”. Novice has advanced melodies, squealing guitar riffs, and aggressive drumming – all things that sound like any other band of this genre out there. Thing is…it’s not. One thing that immediately stood out to me was the vocals. Mike has a strong voice that has depth to it. He sounds confident when he sings, and the words he sings are really awesome. Novice displays incredible lyrical ability, with lyrics that will soon be seen in profiles everywhere. Hell, the name of my personal blog is a line from the first track, “My Last Breath”. The entire album is solid, but my personal favorite is “The Last Time”. The tracks have a punching, hard texture to them backed by quick and tight creative drumming. The drumming is my favorite part of this album – it just dictates the direction of every song. The songs are also enhanced by some pretty sick guitar riffs. The production is incredible – this album really sounds like a major label release. The guys at Rigged Records really put some time into this one – the snare drum is at the perfect level, vocals are smooth and in balance, and both guitars have excellent balance. Despite all these positive factors to the album – it is still melodic rock with screaming. We’ve all heard it a lot, and even though Novice does it well – that’s still what it is.

Bottom Line: Despite the name Novice, this band is no newcomer to rock. They do what they do very, very well. Fans of Senses Fail and other similar bands should pick up this CD immediately – chances are they’re better than what you are listening to.

Pros: Strong Vocals, Excellent Production, Great Drumming
Cons: A Bit Cliché

Scott Weber
Album Reviewer

"Album Review"

Straight of Hollister, CA the new band Novice is less than 2 years old. Novice was formed as a side project of Mike Gross and Josh Fry and quickly became a main focus. Rigged Records signed the band and they have been hard at work ever since.

Novice’s opening track, “My Last Breath” is everything expected to kick off a cd. Hard aggressive drums, great vocals and a very technical production gets this album started off right. “Your Way or the Highways” gets into the nuts and bolts of Novice. It has a darker, more aggressive sound than the previous track. Hard background screaming really gets the song moving along. “The Distance” has a longer drawn out intro that then slows down into a heavily bass influenced verse with a smooth vocal track over it. The electric guitars gradually enter and you can actually feel the climax of the song coming with the chorus. “Symbols of Simplicity” has a different sound as well. The introduction is something different sounding almost electrified at times. The verse comes in palm-muted with soft drums in the background. I always like the palm-muted verse it gives a sort of simplistic sound to the song. Not to say this is a simple song at all, at times it has pretty forceful guitar hooks, not to mention excellent vocals. The drumming also seems to direct the direction of the song. “The Last Time” offers great quick tempo drumming along with nice little hooks. This song also contains vocals, back up vocals, and back up screams which gives it a very dense feel to it. There is quite a bit happening in the track but instead of becoming distracting it actually makes the song more enjoyable. The LP concludes with the track, “Don’t Leave”. A slower ballad(ish) song, “Don’t Leave” has a smoother, cleaner feel to it. Absent are the background screams, and out comes the highly emotional love struck Novice. They sing, “There’s no promise of tomorrow, and will I say my final words, just to watch you walk away and not return”. It’s just a great close to a phenomenal debut album.

What else can be said? Once again, a great new band trying to make a name for themselves. They aren’t really doing anything new or ground breaking; they are just doing what they do extremely well. If you are a fan of the whole “emo/screamo” scene (i.e. Senses Fail, Taking Back Sunday) these guys are worth your time to check out.

Overall: 8.3
Lyrics: 8.5
Music: 8.0
Production 8.6

Joe Kominowski
Reviewer -

"Most Professional Indie Band Around"

Novice- One of the most professional sounding independent bands in the scene right now.

Released on October 1st, their Rigged Records debut LP "Interrupting the Scenery" hit shelves and began to dig it's teeth firmly into the skin of the screamo scene. The 12-track piece is an extremely addictive mix of mainstream melodies and undeniably solid choruses, carefully watch this Sacramento based 4-piece dominant the MTV–type audience in the months to come. (There’s a clause to this statement in the one of the later paragraphs).

The opening track, titled “My Last Breath”, is a brilliant opener. It effectively foreshadows the catchiness of the CD and really brings out the strong qualities of the band’s sound. The melodies and harmonies on the disc (especially on “My Last Breath” and the closing song, “Don’t Leave”) are so professional sounding, that I felt like I was listening to an accomplished, major label, multi-platinum disc the first time I heard it.

The songs are constructed of basic power chords, direct rhythms, heavily distorted guitars and punchy produced drums. The melodies are written perfectly to suit this style of song. The way the instruments combine with the vocals is incredible and everything sounds very tight. These features create the sound that is Novice.

Production is the greatest characteristic of “Interrupting the Scenery”. I am extremely fastidious when it comes to volume levels and quality of sound, I have no complaints or negative things to say about the production on this CD (for the first time ever). The guys at Love Juice Labs really did a superb job emphasizing the emotion in the songs while keeping the sound fresh and clean. A lot of the song’s transitions were drenched in subtle effects that really lock the structure and rhythms in place... Flawless job on production, seriously.

All right, for every CD, there is at least some negative features. Here they are:

My main complaint is that the sound is extremely cliché and overdone. Novice is hitting a scene that is currently fading out… fast. Bands like Story of the Year, Matchbook Romance, and A Thorn For Every Heart perfectly describe the style Novice has, and even though it’s catchy, it’s dying. The lyrics, melodies and screams are far from original and repeat a story that’s been told over and over again. My other complaint is that some of the screams don’t flow into the vocals smoothly. I feel some of them are totally unneeded and totally out of place. These kids will need to reinvent themselves on a their next release if they intend on sticking around.

Overall, “Interrupting the Scenery” is an extremely solid debut. Although the sound is cliché, the band does a very good job of pulling it off and the production is the factor that divides it from others. Novice’s sophomore release will be the deciding factor on whether this band breaks or not. Rigged Records could have a platinum bound band in their hands…or an unoriginal flop. Keep a close eye on these guys.


Frank Giaramita
Reviwer -


Interrupting the Scenery, 2004 (Rigged Records)
A Day Out In The Sun EP, 2003 (Independent)


Feeling a bit camera shy


“…One of the most professional sounding independent bands in the scene right now.”
-professional reviewer
“Holy Crap!!! Its [sic] like if john lennon [sic] were still alive and covering his ears…”
-unprofessional reviewer

Maybe an internet record store’s message board is a lousy place to start, but then again an average rating of five stars – each tagged with some dewy-eyed listener’s assertions that this band is the band that will change everything – speaks volumes. It is, after all, indicative of the swelling numbers of fans brought in after every show and first listen – young disillusioned listeners floating in an ocean of cookie-cutter wannabe emotive rockers, thirsting for something genuine. Anyone can imagine their response when they stumble upon Novice. Consider something akin to the second entry above.
‘Novice’ may be their name, but it does not apply to this band in any respect. They’ve honed their songwriting, stage presence and musicianship with every show they’ve played over their years together. This isn’t a band that threw some chords together and waited for stardom to happen to them, these are four seasoned musicians and songwriters with one hell of a work ethic whose only goal is to play inspiring pop music to the masses. They’ll be the first to admit that they’re not aiming to change the world with their music, but if you think you’ve heard it all before then you’ve got another thing coming. This “breath of fresh air” to a trite and tired category has, with the release of their debut album, Interrupting the Scenery, sent out into the world their blend of catchiness, uniqueness and – most importantly – unpretentious sincerity.

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Novice surfaced during a surge of hardcore bandwagoners but emerged unscathed, commanding respect for themselves and their music amidst the overwhelmingly superficial scene. Their record release show in San Jose challenged the six hundred person limit of the club as that throng begged for more - sweaty, hot, and sore throated, the crowd hollered wildly for their two encores. That night saw the band nearly sold out of the albums that they’d brought – by Jared’s count it was “like… freaking… two hundred” – and in the first five weeks that followed their label’s store of 1,000 copies ran nearly dry. At the time of this publication, six weeks into the release of the album, Interrupting remains on the top ten list of – a big deal for a band that started out as a side project in tiny Hollister, California. These days Bay Area bands plead for Novice to jump on the bill simply to draw from their gigantic fanbase.

Backed by the small Orange County label Rigged Records, a rigorous internet ad campaign and a strong following, Novice have embarked on the next step towards the glory they deserve: nonstop touring. They’ll see you soon.

A press release has never convinced anyone of anything, but suggestion isn’t without its merits, so we leave you with this: the music speaks for itself. Sit back and take an earful; it won’t change your life, but it’ll certainly make your day.