May 062009
Authors: Ian Mahan

Florida is known for many great things —- beaches, amusements parks, girls in bikinis — but is hardly known for its ability to produce fist-pumping, head-banging rock bands on major labels.

Luckily for Port St. Lucie natives VersaEmerge, the stereotype doesn’t quite fit.

Often compared to the overshadowing pop-punk band Paramore, VersaEmerge sports an attractive female vocalist who can sing her guts out. However, the comparisons fall short in all aspects. Though the two bands share female lead singers, VersaEmerge presents an attitude unique to their style.

Their debut self-titled EP, recorded on the record label Fueled By Ramen (Panic At The Disco, Paramore, Fall Out Boy), shows exactly why these teenagers are making an impact in the music scene.

From the get go, listeners get to experience a Tim Burton-sounding introduction into the album, leading directly into the first track, “The Hider,” in which vocalist Sierra Kusterbeck coyly sings, “It’s something new you should try feeling, waking up on the other side, these walls why do we need them, I can’t hide so well.”

The second song on the EP and the band’s first single, “Past Praying For,” is a hit-you-in-the-face song that showcases drummer Anthony Martone, highlighting how a solid backbone for a band lends to its success.

Though the rest of the tracks on the EP are successfully written and produced, the last song on the EP, “Clocks,” deserves a special mention because guitarist Blake Harnage’s blues-inspired intro into a ballad-rock song, while showcasing of his soft vocals as Sierra’s back-up singer.

The entire EP has an entire orchestration behind it that was self-produced by Harnage, which should show listeners that VersaEmerge is more than just a pop-punk band; they might just be a small collection of musical geniuses.

Staff writer Ian Mahan can be reached at

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