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Buffalo has a lot more going on than just football and hockey. Western New York is also home to one of the best local music scenes in the country.

Many bands -- Cute is What We Aim For, Every Time I Die, The Bunny The Bear, the Donner Party, to name a few -- have been signed by national record companies and have toured the world. In addition, Buffalo is home to a number of bands who are just beginning and slowly making a name for themselves. These bands, Crush the Everlasting, My City My Secret, A Future Corrupt, Aria, Lowkey and many more, are now making a mark on the local music scene.

For music lovers looking for a treat, the following releases will be sure to please even the most picky listeners.

*"Standing By" by the Red October is a five-song EP that puts a new spin on hard-core music. It starts off with "Alessa," which has an impressive instrumental build-up yet shows off the vocalist's range and immediately gives the listener an idea of the bands' potential. The final song on the EP, "Toy Gory," starts off slow and then builds up to be the most energetic song, loaded with bass drops and breakdowns. The band has made a name for itself playing shows throughout Buffalo with a screamer and a singer (clean vocalist). Although the clean vocalist has left the band, I see that as just a minor speed bump for the band.

*"Dance in the Ashes" by the Donner Party is an impressive debut. This band has quickly built up its reputation as one of the most legitimate metal bands from Buffalo. The EP has five songs, each full of an impressive range of high and low screams as well as impressive guitar riffs and heavy breakdowns. The first song on this EP, "Kill 'Em Dead," might be the most impressive song of all, starting out very heavy and keeping the rhythm throughout the song. You can hear this band live at Club Infinity (8166 Main St., Clarence) on Dec. 16 when they perform with Every Time I Die.

*"Was It Worth It?", the debut release from Canoe, is an impressive turn on the pop punk genre. A fairly young band, (the oldest member being 17), displays a number of creative band styles. With the five-song EP only being about 20 minutes long, this band also plays a couple of covers when it performs live. Its single, "Breathe," which the band recorded a music video for, gets the album started on the right track, and the rest does not disappoint. With unique vocals full of upbeat instrumentals, Canoe's potential is endless. With a consistent following of people who sing along at its shows, Canoe's EP is definitely an impressive first step. Catch them Dec. 23 for a charity concert with Larrabe and Fictitious Ray at Club Infinity.

*"This Life Has Meaning" is a nine-song EP released for free by Anchor Me Down (look them up on Facebook for details on how to download the EP). The EP has helped legitimize the band as one of the best pop punk bands not only in Buffalo but around the country. The catchy instrumentals and lyrics will stick with you and make you want more. "This Life Has Meaning" is worth checking out. The first song, "Our War," solidifies the style of the band and emphasizes its catchy style. Catch them Friday with Hit the Lights and a Loss for Words at Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.).

*"Don't Lose Your Dinosaur," another nine-song EP offered for free online, is being released by the pop-punk/hard-core styled band Sleep Atlantic. With a mix of pop-punk style, hard-core breakdowns and screams, the band uses lyrics to emphasize the fact that you are only young once, so have fun. With all of its cleverly named songs, this band has slowly become one of the best local pop-punk bands around. "None of My Friends Listen to Marvin Gaye" not only mixes a catchy beat with very good vocals but has the message that friends can help you through anything. If you are into pop-punk or hard-core music, this band is worth a listen.

*"The Mixtape" is a self-titled EP. The Mixtape, which has been playing shows for about three years now, has slowly built itself a very respectable local following. The EP is a very clever mix of two completely different styles. It has the power-pop style of bands such as We the Kings and takes the rhythm and puts it over the high energy of bass drops and breakdowns of heavy music. "The New Jersey Incident" starts off immediately setting the pace for the EP with a high-energy chorus, followed by a breakdown that will attract listeners of heavy music as well. If you're into either style of music, the Mixtape is worth a shot. You will not be disappointed. They are playing Letterset's final show Dec. 17 at Xtreme Wheels, 356 Hertel Ave.

*"Rebirth" by Rochester's Young Bloods is another must-hear band. I was blown away by the stage presence of this band. Everything the band did throughout its set was completely in sync. The album starts off with "Species," a song used in the band's video that has a sing-along chorus that will have you hooked. The second song, "Kiss and Tell," starts off with a dance beat and shows that the band loves what it does and has a lot of fun making music. The EP is very impressive as a whole, especially for a debut product. Ranking nationally on the billboard charts, this EP is definitely worth a shot!

Help support the local music scene. All of the EP's except for Canoe's are available for download online or on iTunes.

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Ed Slowinski is a senior at City Honors.