Category: indie rock

Lyric Video: Chicago’s Smut Shares Heartbreaking “Let Me Hate”

Chicago-based indie outfit Smut — Tay Roebuck (vocals), Andrew Min (guitar), Bell Cenower (bass, synth), Sam Ruschman (guitar, synth) and Aidan O’Connor (drums) — will be releasing their new album How the Light Felt on November 11 through Bayonet Records.

While 2020’s Power Fantasy EP saw Smut dipping its toe into more experimental waters, How the Light Felt reportedly sees the band diving head-first into their vast array of 80s and 90s influences, including OasisCocteau TwinsGorillaz, and Massive Attack — while pushing their sound in a new direction. 

How the Light Felt‘s material can be traced back to 2017: Following her sister’s death, Tay Roebuck turned to writing to help her navigate a labyrinth of grief and heartache. “This album is very much about the death of my little sister, who committed suicide a few weeks before her high school graduation in 2017,” Roebuck explains in press notes. ” “It was a moment in which my life was destroyed permanently, and it’s something you cannot prepare for.” 

Roebuck’s bandmates composed the song’s arrangements, excavating underutilized 90s guitar tones and drum beats to build an expansive sonic world for her lyrics. “A couple weeks after the funeral we played a show and I couldn’t keep it together,” Roebuck says, “but we just kept playing and started writing because it was truly all I felt I had, it was all I could do to feel any sense of purpose. For the past five years now I’ve been chipping my way through grief and loss and I think the album itself is just the story of a person working through living with a new weight on top of it all.”

While rooted in profound heartbreak and loss, the album’s material pairs nostalgic inducing guitar tones, lush yet unfussy production, lived-in lyricism, and earnest vocals in a way that turns pain into a bittersweet yet necessary catharsis. Certainly, if you’ve lost a loved one, the album will likely resonate with you on a deeper level than most. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about “After Silver Leaves,” an infectious 120 Minutes era MTV alt rock-inspired anthem centered around reverb-drenched guitar jangle, driving rhythms paired with Roebuck’s gorgeous and expressive vocals, an enormous, sing-a-long worthy hook and a scorching guitar solo. While sonically recalling Reading, Writing and Arithmetic-era The Sundays, “After Silver Leaves” is rooted in deeply personal, embittering experience. 

“This song is about a former relationship I was in, it was really horribly abusive. But the approach to this one was to just spell it all out and see how silly it feels once shit really hits the fan,” Roebuck says. “The song sounds so happy, but I’m talking about driving someone to a hospital when they’ve overdosed. And having to detach myself and realize that maybe it’s not my job as a teenage girl to save some sad sack of a guy. I think a lot of young women will relate to that, unfortunately.”

How the Light Felt‘s latest single “Let Me Hate” continues the 120 Minutes MTV-era vibe with Roebuck’s gorgeous and plaintive vocal paired with glistening, reverb drenched guitars, a gently propulsive rhythm section and a soaring chorus. But unlike its immediate predecessor, “Let Me Hate” directly addresses the aftermath of a tragic death with an unvarnished honesty. And as a result, the song is equally frustrated, grief-stricken, confused, angry, lost and embittered — within a turn of a phrase.

“For years after my sister’s death I could not dream about her. I’d hear my family members talk about her visiting them in dreams and telling them she’s okay or misses them, there was a lot of mysticism going on the first few years,” Smut’s Tay Roebuck explains. “When I did start having dreams she was always out of reach, walking into another room as I entered or people would be assuring me she was present somewhere if I could find her. ‘Let Me Hate’ is about the first time I had a dream where my little sister spoke to me after she died. I knew if I let her go she’d slip away and when I woke up I was angry at myself. So it’s a very literal song.”

Created by the band’s Aidan O’Connor, the accompanying lyric video features photos from the band’s summer North American tour with indie darlings Wavves.

New Audio: Luminous Wavez Share Brooding Yet Hopeful “Have No Fear”

Transatlantic indie duo Luminous Wavez — British-born artist Leaone (pronounced Lee-own) and Patience Gloria‘s Mike Dobbins — can trace their origins back to the long days and nights of COVID pandemic lockdowns.

Their sophomore EP together, Ashes of the Artists features Dobbins penned lyrics informed by binge listening sessions of Johnny Cash, Chris Cornell, Leonard Cohen, and Nick Cave and demonstrate the hard-won maturity from lived-in experience. This is paired with Leaone’s haunting baritone delivery and remarkable knack for catchy melodies.

Ashes of the Artist EP‘s latest single, “Have No Fear” is a Nick Cave meets The National-like track built around a hauntingly sparse and cinematic arrangement of sharply arpeggiated strings, strummed acoustic guitar and dramatic, padded drumming paired with Leanoe’s brooding baritone. Interestingly, “Have No Fear” may arguably be the most hopeful song on the EP as it features a narrator, who manages to persevere in the face of a variety of obstacles.

New Video: Toulouse, France’s Edgar Mauer Shares Gorgeous and Introspective “By any means”

Founded back in 2020 by its founder, singer/songwriter and musician Maëve Couderc as a way to work around various gender roles, the Toulouse, France-based indie outfit Edgar Mauer became a full-fledged band when sound engineer Alain Flary and drummer Camille Bigeault joined. Since then, the band has developed a sound that meshes elements of Bristol trip-hop and Kate Bush-like pop with a modern touch. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Elma Capser,” a slow-burning bit of dream-pop centered around Coudec’s yearning vocal, Bigeault’s tribal-like drumming and Flary’s glistening guitar lines paired with a soaring hook and chorus. Sonically, “Elma Casper” brought The SundaysThe Cocteau Twins and even Mazzy Star to mind. And much like those acts, the song itself is rooted in the deeply personal, with a novelist’s attention to psychological detail. 

The band explained, that the song’s inspiration came from a mysterious name scrawled on a wall in Paris — Elma Casper. Couderc wound up writing lyrics, imagining what Elma Casper’s life would be, while also wondering if someone scrawled her name on a random wall, if they would be as a curious as she was. They also add that the song is an ode to the feelings and experience we leave behind when living and leaving a place, accepting our own trajectory.

The Toulouse-based trio’s latest single “By any means” continues a run of gorgeous and introspective dream pop-inspired material featuring shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, Couderc’s achingly plaintive vocal paired with an enormous hook and chorus. While sonically, “By any means” will bring back some fond memories of 4AD Records classic heyday and 120 Minutes-era MTV, the song as the band explains is a self-empowerment anthem.

Directed by Patrycja Toczek and the band, the video stars Edgar Mauer’s Couderc as a bored version of herself in the park on a lovely day, when she encounters a cheery monster played by Léna Base, who spends the day with Couderc. Throughout their time together, they play a variety of games — and we see Couderc eventually cheer up. The video itself possesses a goofy, DIY charm that’s just adorable.

Jonty Lovell is a Tottenham-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and creative mastermind behind the rising indie rock project common goldfish. As a musician, Lovell initially made a name for himself busking along the Hackney Wick and playing the London gig circuit. And as a producer and songwriter, under the moniker J Love, the Tottenham-based artist has been credited on songs that have received critical applause from media outlets like Mixtape MadnessNew Wave Magazine, and GRM Daily.

With common goldfish, Lovell’s sound and approach is informed by the music of his childhood. “Growing up I was exposed to a lot of music, with my family all having quite different tastes. Deciding who had control of the CD player could often lead to arguments, but as the youngest child, I seem to remember rarely getting to choose. The soundtrack of my early childhood featured the likes of The Beatles, The Police, Moby, Blur, Gorillaz, and Eminem and Dr. Dre – it was quite an eclectic mix that lured me in.”

As a teenager, The xx‘s debut album further inspired Lovell. “I was by no means a great technical guitarist, and so I think this inspired confidence to continue writing music,” he explains. As a a university graduate, he began to take music seriously, honing his craft with an old laptop his friend gave him, which had Abelton on it. At this point of his life, Floating Points, Four Tet, Nightmares on Wax, and Caribou were influences on him and his sound and approach. Lovell then took his self-taught production style, eclectic music latests and finessed live instrumentation and his vocals.

Earlier this year, I wrote about Lovell’s common goldfish debut single, “Feel The Fuzz,” an upbeat, optimistic and decidedly late 80s-early 90s Manchester-like bop featuring fuzzy guitar lines, blown out breakbeats, a funky and propulsive bass line and common goldfish’s easygoing delivery paired with a euphoric boy-girl led hook and subtly modern production sheen. If you’re a child of the 80s and 90s as I am, “Feel The Fuzz” will bring back nostalgic memories of The Stone RosesPrimal ScreamStereo MCs and the like, complete with an uplifting much-needed message to the listener. 

“The track embodies the sense of dreamer’s optimism (‘the fuzz’) and the feeling that led me to change career paths and pursue my passion in music,” the creative mastermind behind common goldfish explains in press notes. “We only lead one life, ‘Feel the Fuzz’ is about helping people see that they should value their experiences over materials and not always seek the easy options in life.”

Over the summer, Lovell released his sophomore common goldfish single “Shout Louder,” which landed praise from the likes of Backseat Mafia, CULTR, CLOUT, and Lost in The Manor among others.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding him, the Tottenham-based artist has played a series of public shows in iconic locations across London, including Tottenham’s DIY skate park and on top of a boat, floating down Regent’s Canal.

Lovell’s third and latest single, the expansive “I Don’t Feel Today” continues a remarkable and ongoing run of Brit Pop-inspired material with the song prominently featuring twinkling keys, blown out, skittering backbeats, relentless and propulsive bass line, squiggling guitar lines paired with the Tottenham-based artist’s knack for crafting infectious, feel good hooks. Unlike its immediate predecessors, “I Don’t Feel Today” sees Lovell making a very subtle nod to 60s psych pop with bursts of spacey organ.

Interestingly, the song is rooted astutely incisive social observation, with its narrator feeling lost, confused and dispirited by modern life“We are living more and more on top of each other but for some reason we’re becoming increasingly isolated from one another. The rise of independence and individualism has been at the expense of community and a sense of belonging,” Lovell explains in press notes. “With the pace of life getting faster and faster, we’re spending more and more time in front of screens on a never-ending quest for instant gratification. I do worry that we’re losing our sense of reality and what matters most – human interaction and connection.”

Live Footage: Courtney Barnett Performs “Turning Green” on “Late Night with Seth Meyers”

With the release of 2012’s I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Farris EP and 2013’s How to Carve a Carrot Into a RoseMelbourne-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Courtney Barnett received critical acclaim from outlets across North America, the UK and Australia for work that paired witty and rambling conversational-like lyrics delivered with an ironic deadpan paired with enormous, power chord-driven arrangements.

While those successes may have seemed to come about overnight, they actually didn’t; Barnett carved out a reputation for being one of Melbourne’s best guitarists, which was cemented with a stint in Dandy Warhols’ Brent DeBoer’s side project Immigrant Union and a guest spot on on Jen Cloher‘s third album, In Blood Memory.

Barnett’s full-length debut, 2016’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, which featured “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” and the T. Rex-like “Elevator Operator was released to critical praise across the world. The acclaimed Aussie artist collaborated with Kurt Vile on 2017’s critically and commercially successful Lotta See Lice, which landed at #5 on the Aussie charts, #11 on the British charts and #51 on the American charts. 

Her sophomore solo album, 2018’s Tell Me How You Really Feel, which featured the motorik groove-driven “City Looks Pretty” continued an enviable run of critical and commercial success. Barnett supported Tell Me How You Really Feel with a three month world tour that included some of her biggest tour steps in Australia at the time. 

Barnett’s Stella Mozgawa co-produced third album Things Take Time, Take Time was released earlier this year through Mom + Pop Music and Marathon Artists. Centered around intimately detailed songwriting, Things Take Time, Take Time finds the acclaimed Aussie crafting a journey through heartbreak, recovery and all the soft moments in between that speak to the feelings and experiences that are innately human. 

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this year, you may recall that I’ve written about “Before You Gotta Go,” a lovely ballad that’s one-part frustrated kiss-off and one-part gracious send-off rooted in bittersweet, lived-in experience: the hope that the last words between you and a soon to be former lover, won’t be unkind.

Along with an extensive North American tour, Barnett has made the rounds of the late night, Stateside talk show circuit. Earlier this year, Barnett played the introspective garage rocker “If I Don’t Hear From You Tonight,” an empathetic portrayal of the desperate self-doubt and awkwardness of a crush that’s more than likely equally requited yet not exactly confirmed or expressed on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Barnett was recently on Late Night with Seth Meyers, where the acclaimed Aussie singer/songwriter and her backing band played a loose and jammy rendition of garage rock anthem “Turning Green,” complete with Barnett playing a roaring solo.