B&E: Black Maria

Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Black Maria.

Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.

Victory Records has a new hard rock darling on the Billboard charts with the Black Maria. The punk riff-driven pop of the band's "Lead Us To Reason" bows this week at No. 24 on the Top Heatseekers chart and No. 33 on the Top Independent Albums tally.

The Canadian group just finished a January tour with labelmate Hawthorne Heights, whose "The Silence Is Black and White" remains in the top 10 of the
Heatseekers and Independent Albums lists after 34 weeks.

Aside from touring with strong-selling acts like Hawthorne Heights and current road buddies Sum 41, the Black Maria's musical pedigree gives it a leg up on other new acts.

Lead singer Kyle Bishop became an underground hero in the late 1990s with his band Grade. One of the acts that helped define the genre that has become known as "screamo," Grade played shows with the likes of Fugazi, Jimmy Eat World and the Promise Ring. The band signed to Victory in 1999 and the three subsequent albums sold about 35,000 units in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Bishop's new act is a leaner affair, with apparent pop melodies accompanied by an undercurrent of punk. Lyrically, the band's darker content will appeal to
fans to fans of the Alkaline Trio and My Chemical Romance, but the Black Maria has lighter moments, too, and isn't afraid to drop the guitars and bring a piano
to the fore.

Produced by Yellowcard and the Matches' Mike Green, "Lead Us To Reason" was three years in the making. The Black Maria formed in 2002 and began showcasing demos to live audiences a year later, making its live debut in Toronto with Piebald and Cave In. In 2004, the group scored the Victory deal after owner Tony Brummel accepted Bishop's invitation to see a show.

After this month's Canadian stint with Sum 41, the Black Maria will join Alexisonfire for a U.S. tour that will run through March.

Artist: www.theblackmaria.com
Label: www.victoryrecords.com