With last year’s release of their debut single “TrafficLightCyclopsDisco” and their self-titled debut EP, the Manchester, UK-based indie rock trio New Luna, comprised of Tommy Deedigan, Zack Bamber and Toby Duncan, have quickly developed a reputation as being a staple of their hometown’s indie rock/alternative scene while drawing comparisons to Radiohead, Bombay Bicycle Club and The Twilight Sad. Adding to a growing profile,  the Manchester-based trio have opened for the likes of Happiness, Bruising, PLAZA, Trudy and the Romance, as well as played sets at a DIY Magazine showcase, YNOT?, ArcTanGent, Truck and Great Escape Festivals. However, with their latest single, “Opinionated,” the British trio’s sound reminds me a bit of My Vitriol and Blur, thanks to layers of distortion-filled, buzzing power chords, thundering drumming and a rousingly anthemic, mosh-pit friendly hook within a quiet, loud, quiet song structure. And while clearly being inspired by 90s alt rock, the song possesses what may be the most direct social statement they’ve released to date — openly suggesting as the old adage says that opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one, and they’re usually shitty.

 

 

 

 

If you had followed this site throughout the course of 2016, you would have come across a small handful of posts featuring the genre-defying, world music duo Xylouris White, comprised of Melbourne, Australia-born, New York-based drummer Jim White, who’s best known as a member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with a number of equally renowned artists including PJ HarveyNina NastasiaCat PowerBill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and laouto player Giorgos Xylouris, the son of renowned vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris, and who is best known best known for leading the Xylouris Ensemble.

Interestingly, the duo can actually trace their origins to when the renowned Cretan and his ensemble was touring Melbourne in the early 1990s. As the story goes, White was a member of locally-based avant rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he had met and befriended Xylouris, who would later collaborate with The Dirty Three whenever he was touring Australia. And unsurprisingly, the collaboration with Xylouris and The Dirty Three was a rather fruitful collaboration based on a healthy mutual admiration and the influence that both Psaratonis Xylouris and his father Giorgos had on the Melbourne-based trio’s sound and compositional approach.

Straggly enough, although White and Xylouris had been friends and collaborators for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 that they decided that they should directly collaborate together, a process that was accelerated when the duo played together at a Nick Cave curated  All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. And unsurprisingly, the duo’s long-held admiration and friendship have found a way to influence who they write, record and perform together — with their compositions frequently sounding as though they were dancing, as though at any given point, one instrument leading with the other one following and quickly shifting in a wildly fluid fashion. Goats, Xylouris White’s debut was  largely inspired by their creative approach, an approach that Xylouris poetically described as being “Like goats walking in the mountain. They may not know the place, but they can walk easily and take risks and feel comfortable. Really, the goats inspired us.”

Black Peak, Xylouris White’s sophomore album furthers the goat analogy, with the album’s title being derived from one of Crete’s most famous; however, the album, which was “recorded everywhere,” as Xylouris jokes in press notes and produced by Fugazi‘s Guy Picciotto, found the duo expanding upon their sound as the material possesses a subtly modern take on traditional sounds and motifs — at points sounding as though it drew from classic rock, as you’d hear on album singles “Black Peak,” and “Forging.

Mother, the duo’s third, full-length effort together is slated for a January 19, 2017 release through Bella Union Records, and as Psaratonis Xylouris explains in press notes, the album was named to denote “new life.” “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak,” Xylouris adds in press notes. “Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth . . . Mother Earth is the mother of everything.” Reportedly, the duo will further cement the duo’s reputation for having a fluid and mischievous chemistry in which they intuitively known exactly when to listen, when to accommodate, when to lead and get out of the way, and to find something completely new together. “A theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach,” Xylouris explains. “So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

The album’s first single “Only Love” is a rollicking yet passionate stomp of a song featuring White’s propulsive drumming, which gives a lot of room for Xylouris’ incredibly dexterous, heavy metal-like louto and an infectious hook, accompanied by Xylouris’ sonorous baritone, singing lyrics in Greek — and while possessing a swooning and urgent passion, the song reveals the duo’s mischievous, free-flowing improvisational-like nature.

If you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this year, you would have come across a handful of posts featuring the up-and-coming, Halifax, UK-based indie rock trio The Orielles. Comprised of  21-year Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), her 18-year old sister Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (bass, vocals) and their 17-year-old best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals), the trio have quickly developed a reputation as being one of Northern England’s “most exciting local bands of recent years,” and one of their hometown’s best-kept musical secrets. And as you may recall, the British indie rock trio can trace their origins to when the Hand-Halford sisters met Wade at a house party and bonded over a shared love of Stateside-based 90s alt rock and indie rock.

With a great deal of buzz surrounding them, Heavenly Recordings head Jeff Barrett caught the band opening for their new labelmates The Parrots in late 2016 and immediately signed them to the renowned indie label. 2017 has proven to be one of the biggest years in the band’s history, as they finished their first UK/EU tour and have released two incredibly self-assured, attention-grabbing singles —  The Mallard‘s Finding Meaning in Deference-like “Sugar Taste Like Salt,” and the psych rock-like “I Only Bought It For The Bottle.

The Orielles’ latest single “Let Your Dogtooth Grow” continues their ongoing collaboration with producer Marta “Bueno” Salogni and interestingly enough, it finds the band mischievously expanding upon the socially conscious, shimmering guitar pop that first caught the attention of this site and the blogosphere with the use of an oscillating Mini Moog that appears during the last minute or so of the song, which the band says is “a melting-pot of our influences, combining guitar riffs reminiscent of Turkish psychedelic musician Mustafa Ozkent with the Moog Synth riff which is redolent of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love.‘” Thematically, the song is influenced by Yorgos Lanthimos’ feature film Dogtooth in which kids are brainwashed into thinking that they are confined within the boundaries of their household until their ‘Dogtooth’ falls out, the song lyrically discusses how in reality young people frequently face similar — although less bizarre — forms of oppression in their lives. The band adds:”Whilst we’re much more than a stones throw away from knocking our teeth out in order to break from the omnipresent restrictions us teenagers and young adults face, it’s still something that really bugs us as a ‘young band’! When are you gonna let us out of the house?”

 

 

Martin Morales is a Peruvian-born, British-based, DJ, record collector, audiophile and pioneer of Peruvian food in the UK and was recently named GQ‘S Food and Drinks 2017 Innovator of the Year — but he’s also known as the co-founder of renowned world music label Tiger’s Milk Records. And although he’s spent half of his life in the UK, Morales in recent years has frequently returned to his birthplace — and in particular, the Andes — in search of recipes, records, sounds and inspiration for a variety of projects under the umbrella of his London-based company Ceviche. Morales, along with Tiger’s Milk co-founder Duncan Ballantyne, former Soundway Records label manager, and Peruvian DJ and crate digger Andres Tapia del Rio teamed up to create a series of compilations featuring the sounds of the Amazon and Andres, starting with the ANDINA: The Sound of the Peruvian Andes — Huayno, Carnaval and Cumbia 1968-1978. 

The compilation is meant to offer a fresh perspective on Peru’s multifaceted heritage, brining to light the divergent, exciting traditions that have emerged from Peru’s strip of the Andes Mountains, including cumbia, folkloric harp, Lima-based big band jazz that was influenced by their highland countrymen and so on; however, the compilation was never intended to be a definitive or complete overview of Andean music. Besides focusing on a particular period of music, 1968-1978, the compilation is selection of what they think are the most exciting insights into Andean musical culture, with the debut release of many tracks outside of Peru since their original release on Peruvian labels like Iempsa, Sono Radio and El Virrey — but perhaps more important, the sound most represented is a cumbia where groups imbued a tropical, Colombian style with Andean folk rhythms and rock-like electric guitars, the number of traditional folk numbers recorded and released during that era and of course, carnaval music; in fact, some of the featured bands took touchstones on much-loved music criolla — black music from the coast — but filtered through cumbia, and others employ Afro-Peruvian sounds. Or in other words, the Andean sound draws influences from the musical and culture legacies of indigenous Latin America and the African diaspora. The album’s first single Los Compadores Del Andes’ “La Mecedora” pairs is a cumbia featuring a tight, African Diaspora-influenced, percussive groove with a breezy, organ-led tropicalia, and bright blasts of brass, but perhaps most important, the song reveals a deep truth about the sounds of Peru and its Andean regions — that it’s arguably one of the most unique yet dance floor friendly of the entire region, while giving you a view into the sounds that were popular during the late 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on his connection to the Andes, Martin Morales remembers: “Growing up in the coastal city of Lima, it was my grandmother who kept our family’s connection to the mountains alive. Our visits to her home high up in the Andes in the province of La Libertad and the fascinating 18 hour trips we made to reach her passing through villages and towns, sounds and flavors, imparted in me a strong sense of the Andes’ traditions, creativity and rich artistic textures.” The Andes’ different cultures have resulted in a myriad of ever-evolving hybrids as shown by this collection, which opens the door onto just a few of its most fascinating musical examples.

New Audio: Honeyhoney’s Benjamin Jaffe Releases a Tender and Swooning, Indie Rock-Inspired Single

Benjamin Jaffe is a Massachusetts-born and currently New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for being one-half of renowned Americana duo honeyhoney however, years before he formed honeyhoney, with Suzanne Santo, Jaffe began his career as a solo artist, who received attention for crafting material that was honest and experimental  — and with his forthcoming full-length, solo debut Oh, Wild Ocean of Love, Jaffe returns to his solo roots while revealing a broader array of influences than with his primary gig, as the material draws from jazz and Motown-era soul among others.  Interestingly, Oh, Wild Ocean of Love’s latest single “Blooming” pairs rolling and propulsive drumming with shimmering and loping guitars with Jaffe’s aching and tender vocals and a soaring hook to evoke the swooning throes of passion, while sonically nodding at JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim but with a wild, sense of experimentalism.

New Video: The Contemplative Sounds and Visuals of Stillwave’s “94 Civic”

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you’ve likely come across a small handful of posts featuring the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based indie trio Stillwave. Currently comprised of founding members Michael van Putten and Marcel Jongejan, along with their friend and long-time roadie Joris Keizer, the Dutch indie rock trio have developed a reputation for uncompromisingly refusing to do what their fellow countrymen have done, instead making the trip to the UK to play some of their first shows in dingy, beer soaked clubs and music venues that their influences  — namely, Radiohead, David Bowie and Slowdive — have played in before they made it. As a result of their dedication, hustle and moxie, the Dutch trio began to receive attention and praise from media outlets across the UK and the States, including Q Magazine, Speak Into My Good Eye and others. 

Although the band had started to achieve some level of success, the founding members were rocked by the departure of founding member Adriaan Hogervost. As the band said to me through email, “When Adriaan quit, it felt as if we had lost a brother. We were risking our last savings for another tour in a cramped ’94 Civic, but we knew we had to continue. Stillwave had become more than just music, it became the bond that held us together. We asked our long-time roadie and childhood friend Joris [Keizer] to join us.” They go on to explain that the band’s newest member, had a deep understanding of their dedication and passion for music, knowing that the band was each individual member’s labor of love, “an almost physical place, which we can create, enter and share with those who listen to it.” 

The band’s long-awaited full-length debut Sell Another Soul is slated for a November 3, 2017 release, and as the band says about the recording sessions, “When we decided to start recording our album, we had ceased to care about compromise, polish and overanalysed bullshit, which supposedly celebrates the idea of being young and carefree. We do care. For 3 sleep deprived weeks we toiled in a dilapidated structure that would soon after be swallowed by the attempt of gentrification around it. We did away with vocal comping and held onto the tracks where we fucked up. Every second was a battle, every minute a victory.”  The album’s latest single “94 Civic” derives its title from the aforementioned 94 Civic that the band drove around for tours, and the song is a slow-burning and dreamy ballad featuring a gorgeous yet minimalist arrangement of strummed guitar and gently swirling electronics paired with yearning and contemplative vocals — and interestingly enough, the latest single finds the Dutch trio gently expanding their sound in a fashion that reminds me quite a bit of Damon Albarn’s solo work and his work with Gorillaz. 

Directed and produced by former member Adriaan Hogervorst, the recently released music video stars Harold van de Kamp, as a lonely man sitting in the backseat of a car, lost in his own thoughts, further emphasizing the contemplative nature of the song. 

A few years ago, I had written quite a bit about Los Angeles-based indie rock quintet Line & Circle. Currently comprised of founding trio Brian J. Cohen (vocals, rhythm guitar), Eric Neujahr (guitar), Jon Engelhard and newest member Garret Ray (drums), the band can trace their origins to when they all met in Ohio — before relocating to Southern California. And with the release of a batch of singles and their debut EP — all of which were released to critical praise, the band quickly exploded into the national scene.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the then-quintet recorded their Lewis Pesacov-produced, debut full-length effort Split Figure, an album that thematically explored “the elusive and daunting task of pursuing self-knowledge in a world, where ironically staring into screens and photographing ourselves incessantly has failed to make the process any easier” while sonically pairing those themes with a music that the band has described as “instantaneous and propulsive.” As the band’s frontman Brian J. Cohen explained in press notes at the time, “We are all split down the middle. There is an inner self that reflects what we think are, and an outer self that is how others really perceive us. True self-knowledge is when you become aware of each, and begin to reconcile both into one.”  Now, as you may recall album single “Like A Statue,”  managed to remind me of  120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock —  early R.E.M. songs like “The One I Love,” “Talk About The Passion” and “So. Central Rain,” The Smiths‘ “This Charming Man” and the  4AD Records sound immediately come to mind.

Recorded and tracked live to tape during one day at Los Angeles’ Box Studios with additional sessions in various warehouses, bedrooms and home studios in the Echo Park section and mixed by the band’s frequent collaborator Jonathan Low, and the EP reportedly explores an old belief popularly held by the Romans: homo homini lupus — man is a wolf to man. Interestingly enough, the EP’s latest single “Man Uncouth” will further cement their growing reputation for crafting a familiar and beloved sound to anyone who listened to college radio/alternative rock back in the 80s able Rd 90s but while focusing on the inner turmoil of someone in love, battling their insecurities and fears — essentially it’s the portrait of a man, slowly tearing himself apart.

 

 

 

New Video: Icelandic Indie Rock Act Mammut Releases a Brooding and Dramatic Video for “The Moon Will Never Turn On Me”

Comprised of Katrina Mogensen (vocalist), the daughter of Birgir Mogensen, who played alongside Björk in one of her first bands, Alexandra Baldursdóttir (guitar), Arnar Pétursson (guitar), Ása Dýradóttir (bass) and Andri Barter Jakobson (drums), the Icelandic indie rock quintet Mammut formed when its members were just 14 — and they derive their name from from the Icelandic word for “mammoth,” which the band’s Mogensen reportedly “plucked out of the air” before their stage debut.

In their native Iceland, the band is — well, rather huge. They won Iceland’s national battle of the bands, Músíktilraunir and subsequently have been nominated for several Icelandic Music Awards; in fact, their third album 2014’s Komdu til Mín Svarta Systir won three of its eight nominations including Pop & Rock Album and Pop and Rock Song for “Salt.” However, the band’s recently release effort Kinder Versions may arguably be their most ambitious to date, as the album finds Mogensen writing and singing lyrics completely in English for the first time in the band’s history. And with album single “The Moon Will Never Turn On Me,” you’ll quickly get a sense of why the band is so big in their homeland — they specialize in a brooding, highly dramatic and populist-leaning indie rock, complete with rousingly anthemic hooks. And while there’s clearly a viscerally earnest yearning and heartache at the core of the song, there’s an underlying sense of resignation that says “welp, things are going to be turbulent and shitty for a while, hold on as tight as you can.” Unsurprisingly as the band explains in press notes, the song is ultimately about the moment when you realize that you have to sit back, let go and then embrace and accept every horrible thing that may come in front of you — because in the larger scheme of things, it will be temporary,. and the world will continue to spin regardless. 

Directed by the band’s Katrína Mogensen, the recently released video is a fittingly moody one that features the members of the band struggling through a fitful and seemignly endless nightmare-fueled night of sleep — and interestingly enough, the video manages to further emphasize the sense of tumult at the core of the song. 

New Video: Travel the World with Up-and-Coming Ukrainian Indie Rock Act and New JOVM Mainstays Indytronics

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Kiev, Ukraine-based indie rock/post punk band Indytronics. And as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of founding members Danil Bogadenko (guitar, vocals) and Vitaliy Koutsiuk (bass) with Ruslan Dobrov (drums) and Denys Rybchenko (guitar, backing vocals) can trace their origins to when its founding members were traveling across Europe, and while in Stockholm, Sweden, the duo came across a number of street musicians, who were playing music with an interesting and very melodic indie the rock. According to the members of the band, its founding duo were so impressed by Stockholm’s street musicians that decided that they needed to start their own band when they returned home. 

Since the band’s formation in 2012, the band has released their 2013 debut EP Vision and their 2015 full-length debut Scintilla Wave and and as a result, they’ve developed a growing profile both nationally and internationally as they’ve made a number of live appearances on several Ukrainian TV shows and have received regular radio rotation on Ukrainian Radio Roks, Europa Plus, HotMix Radio, WCSF Radio German CTdasradio and others. Along with that, they’ve been written up in the British music magazine Huck and their music has been used for fashion shows aired on the international TV channel IDFashion throughout the US, Ukraine, Italy, Austria and France. 

While “Savannah Only Temple” was slickly produced indie rock that may remind listeners of  Narrow Stairs-era Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service’s Give Up and Snow Patrol, thanks in part to a rousingly arena friendly hook, its follow-up “Shark” found the band pushing their sound more towards electronic rock but with some of their most ambitious songwriting they’ve released to date. Their latest single “Alien Sun” finds the band at their most atmospheric while retaining their arena friendly hooks — and although the song will further cement their growing reputation for crafting crowd pleasing Death Cab for Cutie/The Postal Service/Snow Patrol-like indie rock, bolstered by an uncanny self-assuredness and earnestness of purpose. 

As the band wrote to me, they have a dream of playing concerts across