Category: indie rock

Last month, I wrote about the indie rock All-Star act Lo Tom, an indie rock act, which features some incredibly accomplished musicians and artists, with more than 125 combined years of playing, writing, recording and touring as professional musicians. And interestingly enough, the band, which is currently comprised of  David Bazan, best known for his work in Pedro the Lion; Trey Many, a member of Velour 100 and Starfinder 59; TW Walsh, a bandmate of Bazan’s in Pedro the Lion, a member of The Soft Drugs and a well-regarded solo artist; and Jason Martin, a bandmate of Trey Many in Starfinder 59 are long-time friends, who used to mess around and jam together, missed playing together and decided that they should spend some time writing and recording together.

The quartet’s self-tiled debut is slated for a July 14, 2014 release through Barsuk Records and was written and recorded during a rare period of free time that each member of the quartet could spare. And the sessions consisted of the longtime friends meeting up with some loose riffs and beats and seeing where things would go, while Bazan, who wrote most of the album’s lyrics would make up something quickly and on the spot, before eventually refining them. Interestingly enough, the album’s first single “Overboard” possessed the looseness of four, friends and old pros getting together and jamming, and as soon as someone starts off with a idea, the other bandmates know where to go and how to flesh it out.  The band manages to find a comfortable balance a free-flowing, jam session within a band that also manages to seamlessly mesh elements of the work of each individual member; in fact, the single features the soaring hooks and power chords of the alt rock and power pop that have clearly influenced it, and each member’s own work.

The album’s second and latest single “Covered Wagon” will further cement each member’s individual reputation for crafting hook-laden, anthemic, power chord-based indie rock. But interestingly enough, the song to my ear reminds me of Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3‘s excellent Northern Aggression, Vs. and Vitalogy-era Pearl Jam, as it may arguably be one of the more straightforward and forceful rock songs off the new album — and one of my favorites of the entire summer so far.

Last month, the band announced their first live dates together, and as you may recall, the tour includes an August 12, 2017 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the tour dates below.

TOUR DATES:

08/11 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall (tickets / info)
08/12 Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade (tickets / info)
08/17 Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room (tickets / info)
08/18 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg Theater (tickets / info)
08/19 Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern (tickets / info)

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New Video: Widowspeak Returns with Moody and Lonely Visuals For New Single “Dog”

Currently comprised of Tacoma, WA-born, Brooklyn-based founding members Molly Hamilton (vocals, guitars) and Robert Earl Thomas (guitar), the indie rock duo Widowspeak initially formed in 2010 and featured founding members Hamilton, her longtime friend Michael Stasiak and Thomas. As a trio, they released their critically applauded 2011 self-titled debut, an effort which had album single “Harsh Realm” featured in an episode of American Horror Story. And with greater attention on the group, the then-trio recruited Pamela Garavano-Coolbaugh for their subsequent tours; however, by 2012 Stasiak and Gravano-Coolbaugh left the band, leaving two of its original members.

Interestingly, while going through a massive lineup change, Hamilton and Thomas began working on their Kevin McMahon-produced sophomore effort Almanac, an album that was released to critical applause both nationally and across the blogosphere; in fact, the band was named one of Fuse TV’s 30 must-see artists at 2013’s SXSW — and if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, especially around 2013, you would have come across a couple of posts featuring the Brooklyn-based duo.  Now, it’s been four years since I’ve written about them but as it turns out, Widowspeak will be releasing a new album, Expect The Best through renowned indie label Captured Tracks on August 25, 2017. And the album’s latest single “Dog,” as Hamilton told NPR is “about the compulsion to move on from things and places, even people when you’re not necessarily ready to. Sometimes I get caught up in ‘the grass is always greener” mentalities or cling to an idea that ‘I’d be happy if . . .’ and make a drastic change. Then inevitably, I feel restless a few months later and it stars again.” While sonically, the song will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting moody and hazy guitar pop that channels Mazzy Star, the song possesses a restless and ambivalent vibe as it captures an easily bored and frustrated narrator, who desperately yearns for more and more and more, and as a result the song feels urgent yet paradoxically un-rushed.

Filmed, produced and edited by Otium, the recently released video for “Dog” possesses a feverish and lonely late night nostalgia that emphasizes the song’s longing and overall ambivalence.

New Video: The Gorgeously Cinematic and Expressive Visuals for Black Needle Noise and Jennie Vee’s “Heaven”

John Fryer is a London, UK-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist and producer, who is best known for his work as a producer, shaping the sound of Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode, much of the Mute Records, 4AD and Beggars’ Banquet roster, as well as Nine Inch Nails, Love and Rockets, Cradle of Filth and countless others. Fryer is also known as one-half of the duo This Moral Coil with Ivo Watts-Russell. 

Fryer’s solo recording project Black Needle Noise continues his legacy for crafting lush and moody soundscapes as he collaborates wth a number of different vocalists; in fact, Lost in Reflections, the renowned producer and recording artist’s sophomore Black Needle Noise effort finds him working with Jennie Vee, Andrea Kerr, Chrysta Bell, Sivert Hoyem and others — and interestingly enough, it come-on the heels of Fryer’s collaboration with the aforementioned Chrysta Bell on a Twin Peaks-inspired cover of Julee Cruise, Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch’s “Falling.” Anyway, album single “Heaven” is a strikingly cinematic track which pairs Jennie Vee’s sultry and achingly tender vocals with a lush yet atmospheric production featuring swirling electronics, shimming guitar chords and industrial clang and clatter. And although the track will further cement his legacy for crafting a sound that you would have grown up obsessed with as a child of the 80s, the song also reveals not just his generosity in working with up-and-coming and contemporary artists, but it also reflects the contemplative, introspective nature of the album’s title — while pairing a dark sensuality with an visceral sense of heartbreak. In fact, the song’s narrator is facing the ghosts of a dysfunctional and controlling relationship that has lingered, even as she’s 4,000 thousand miles away. 

Shot in a cinematic and creepy black an white, and directed by Talon McKee and Lloyd Galbraith, edited by Jennie Vee, featuring animation by Mark Francombe and choreographed by Caroline Haydon, the video starts its choreographer writhing and swooning in a combination of pleasure and heartache; but at its core is a protagonist, who expresses desire, vulnerability, and self-asurredness simultaneously. 

Comprised of founding member, frontwoman and primary songwriter Devin Davis, along with Andy Hengl, Justin Geter and Mark Edwards, the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock/grunge rock quartet Ramonda Hammer derive their name from a woman, who was featured on the early 2000s reality TV show Cheaters.

The quartet’s self-released 2016 debut Whatever That Means was released to critical praise from Impose MagazineEarmilk, PureVolume, Fuse TV and elsewhere. Building upon the growing attention they’ve received, the quartet signed with New Professor Records and released “Zombie Sweater” to applause from Brooklyn Vegan, She Shreds Magazine, Blurred Culture and others; in fact, the band also was named one of “LA’s hardest-working bands of 2016” by Oh My Rockness and one of the “best LA emerging bands of 2017 by The Deli Magazine.

Interestingly, 2017 looks to be a big year for the up-and-coming Los Angeles-based quartet as they’ll be releasing their new EP, Destroyers on August 4, 2017 — and the EP’s latest single, EP title track “Destroyers” is a jagged and off-kilter track that channels The Breeders, Veruca Salt, The Mallard, Bleeding Rainbow, and others, complete with a rousingly anthemic hook before dissolving into a stormy yet cathartic coda; but at the heart of the song is an emotional ambivalence, as the song manages to be simultaneously feral yet bitterly ironic, triumphantly ass-kicking yet a little sad.

 

 

Nicole Atkins is a Neptune, New Jersey-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter, arguably best known as one for her time in Asbury Park, NJ — and perhaps more important for a sound that draws influence from 50s crooner pop, 60s psych rock and psych pop, soul music and Brill Building pop; in fact, some critics have compared her and her sound favorably to the likes of Roy Orbison and others. This shouldn’t be surprising as Atkins has publicly cited the favorites of her parents’ record collection as being major influences on her, including The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, The SundaysHarriet Wheeler and Cass Elliot.
Atkins started playing piano when she turned nine and taught herself to play guitar at 13 and by the time she was attending Belmar, NJ’s St. Rose High School, she was playing in pick-up bands and playing gigs at local coffeehouses. Upon graduating from high school, Atkins attended the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, where she studied illustration and ingrained herself within the city’s independent music scene. And while in Charlotte, she began writing original songs and befriending a number of local musicians; in fact, at one point, she was a member of a local supergroup Nitehawk that, at one point had close to 30 members. She also joined Los Parasols and released an EP with them, The Summer of Love in 2002; however, later that year, she moved to Brooklyn, where she began to be influenced by the Rainbow Quartz Records roster, and began writing songs more along the lines of Wilco and Roy Orbison.

 

By early 2005, Atkins ran into keyboardist Dan Chen, who she had known from her days playing at The Sidewalk Cafe. Chen approached her about forming a new band, a band which eventually became Nicole Atkins and The Sea. During a residency at Piano’s, the band won the attention of music industry attorney Gillian Bar and quickly found herself in a bidding war between several record labels before signing with Columbia Records in early 2006. A the end of that year, Atkins and her backing band went to Sweden — Varispeed Studios in Kalegrup, Sweden and Gula Studion in Malmo — to record their Tore Johansson-produced debut effort Neptune City, which was released in October 2007 to accommodate re-mastering of the album. The album was a critical and commercial success, debuting at number 20 on Billboard‘s Top Heatseekers Chart and reached number 6 on the Heatseekers Middle Atlantic Chart.

2011 saw the release of her critically applauded, Phil Palazzolo-produced sophomore effort Mondo Amore. Recorded at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge Studio, Atkins’ new backing band The Black Sea featured Irina Yalkowsky (guitar), Mike Graham (drums) and Jermey Kay (bass). Atkins and her backing band played that year’s SXSW and were named by Spin Magazine as “the best live band of the festival,” and Mondo Amore received attention from the The New York Times and Rolling Stone.

During the winter of 2012 Atkins returned to Malmo, Sweden to record her third full-length effort Slow Phaser with Tore Johansson. Released in February 2014 to critical applause, the album landed at number 143 on the Billboard 200 based on the strength of singles “Girl You Look Amazing” and “Who Killed the Moonlight?” Adding to a big 2014 Atkins appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where she performed a new rendition of “War Torn” off her Live from the Masonic Temple, Detroit album, an album which was recorded while she toured as the opener for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Recoded at Fort Worth, TX‘s Niles City Sound, with a production team featuring Austin Jenkins, Josh Block and Chris Vivion and mixed by the Alabama Shakes‘ Ben Tanner, Atkins’ fourth album Goodnight Rhonda Lee marks two different things — the first being her first album in three years, the second a marked sonic departure from her previous work. The album’s first single, co-written by Chris Issak, “A Little Crazy” was a delicate and soulful ballad that clearly nods to many of Atkins’ early influences — in particular, Roy Orbison with a hint of Patsy Cline. However, the album’s second and latest single “Darkness Falls So Quiet” is a stomping and soulful track that nods at Dusty Springfield — and much like Springfield’s legendary work, Atkins’ incredible vocals, which manage to simultaneously express swaggering self-assuredness and aching loneliness are paired with a warm and soulful arrangement that features a gorgeous string section, twinkling keys and a Daptone Records-like horn section. And if weren’t for the subtly modern production, you may have mistaken the song for being released in 1963.

Goodnight Rhonda Lee is slated for a July 21, 2017 release through Single Lock Records, and Atkins will be touring throughout the summer and fall to support the new album. The tour will include a September 9, 2017 stop at Mercury Lounge. Check out the rest of the tour dates below — and if she’s playing at a venue near you, go see her. She’s fantastic live.
Tour Dates:

7/20 – Lexington, KY – The Burl
7/21 – Florence, AL – WC Handy Festival
7/23 – Nashville, TN – 3rd and Lindsley
7/25 – Annapolis, MD – Rams Head on Stage w/Robert Ellis
7/26 – Fairfield, CT – Stage One
7/29 – Freehold, NJ – Monmouth County Fair
7/30 – Newport, RI – Newport Folk Festival w/Steelism and Ruby Amanfu
8/7 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
8/8 – Chicago, IL – Space
8/10 – Davenport, IA – The Raccoon Motel
8/11 – Iowa City, IA – The Mill
8/12 – Minneapolis, MN – Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
8/18 – Asheville, NC – Altamont Theatre
8/19 – Athens, GA – Wildwood Revival 2017
8/26 – Arlington, VA – Lockn’ Festival
9/8 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
9/9 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
9/10 – Asbury Park, NJ – Shadow of the City Festival @ Stony Pony Summer Stage – Shadow of the City Festival

 

Certainly, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year of its seven year history, you’ve come across a nubmer of posts featuring Brooklyn-based post-punk duo and JOVM mainstays NØMADS. Comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums), the duo have a rather accomplished history both separately and together, and with the release of their 2014 full-length debut, the duo received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that drew and/or nodded at Nirvana, Fugazi and Girls Against Boys while also nodding at Zack de la Rocha’s post-Rage Against the Machine project, One Day As A Lion  and Japandroids.

After a year-long hiatus from touring and writing, the Brooklyn-based duo spent the better part of 2016 writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion, while capturing the innermost thoughts, anxieties and fears of someone in the grips of their own deepest fear; but at the core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the end result. Throughout the course of the year, the duo have released a new single off the album every month with the complete, full album being slated for a 2018 release.

Last month’s single “Chronometrophøbia” was a slow-burning and moody instrumental composition focused on the fear of clocks, watches and passing time in which buzzing and distorted bass chords evoked the grinding mechanisms of gears inside of a clock and the metronomic-like drumming evoked the clicking of watch hands moving around the clock’s face as it moves second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour. And throughout the composition there’s a creeping and unsettled anxiety of being aware of time’s relentless march forward — and being constantly reminded of the fact that time marches forward with or without you. As the band’s Nathan Lithow explained in press notes “The fear of clocks is a very compelling to me as a soundscape metaphor. As a physical object, a clock not only “tells” time, but also represents the passing of time, and the concrete idea of the present tense. Chronometrophobia is tangentially connected to Chronophobia, the fear of time or of time’s passing, but as a compositional theme I think the clicks/ticks/tocks/beeps and bells provide a bit of a textual context to the song as a whole.”
PHØBIAC‘s latest single “Dementophøbia” focuses on the most common fear any one of us would have — the fear that your your tenuous grip on reality and sanity may slowly be slipping. And when there are so many things both big and small in our daily lives that have seemingly gone insane, it would be far more likelier to start asking yourself “is it me — or is it everyone around me?'” And as a result, the song may be the most tense and anxious track they’ve released to date, as the song’s narrator seems to recognize that at some point there’s only so much anyone can take before they crack; the problem is that we don’t know what will cause it.

With the release of last year’s Language EP, Hypoluxo, a Brooklyn-based indie rock quartet currently comprised of Samuel Cogen, Marco Ocampo, Cameron Riordan, and Eric Jasso quickly received attention for crafting lush melodies with clever, somewhat cynical and perhaps at points coy humor; however, the band’s latest effort, Taste Buds finds the band stripping their sound down quite a bit, with the focus and guiding point being Cogen’s moody Matt Beringer-like baritone — and with their latest single “Nevada,” Cogen and company manage to sound as though they were slyly drawing from High Violet-era The National, complete with jangling guitars but while retaining the sly humor that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and elsewhere. And interestingly enough the song will further the band’s growing reputation for a sound and aesthetic that’s difficult to pinpoint, let alone pigeonhole as it’s not quite dream pop, nor is it twee and a bit too humorous to be typical indie rock while drawing from each one.

 

 

 

Arguably best known as one half of  Los Angeles, CA-based indie electro pop act Sad Robot, with Long Beach, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist Nick Perez, Connecticut-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Kat Leon developed a reputation for material that focused on her obsessions with death and the occult. With both of her parents suddenly dying within months of one another, Leon was plunged into a period of profound and heartbreaking grief. And after taking some necessary time to grieve, Leon began her latest, solo recording project Holy Wars, influenced by what may have been some of the darkest days of her life to date; in fact, the project in many ways to her is a way to extrapolate the tumultuous feelings and thoughts she had felt and thought during that period — with the result being her Holy Wars debut, double EP Mother, which will released at the end of this month and Father, which is slated for release later on this summer. Of course, both EPs are dedicated to her respective parents and while being dark and at points foreboding, the material isn’t completely nihilistic; in fact, Mother‘s first single “I Can’t Feel A Thing” is a cathartic release, rooted around an anthemic arena rock-like sound reminiscent of Paramore —but with profoundly adult angst, from the recognition that death is a permanent and inconsolable loss, a wound that can never really be healed, and that the only thing anyone can do is figure out a way to move forward.

Mother‘s second single “Orphan” is a slower burning, mid-tempo track that focuses on what may be the darkest, saddest and yet most true aspect of life: that everyone you ever know and love will one day die, and the survivors reeling from inconsolable loss have to piece together their lives, and with her backing band, Leon pairs that sentiment with a stormy and forceful arrangement within a 90s alt rock structure — quiet verses, stormy and loud choruses; however, much like “I Can’t Feel A Thing,” the song isn’t completely negative. Yes, it’s a weary acceptance but within that acceptance is a paradoxical vulnerability and strength.

 

New Video: The Gorgeous and Time-Bending Visuals for San Mei’s “Until You Feel Good”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you may have come across a handful of posts featuring Emily Hamilton, a  Gold Coast, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo project San Mei began humbly as a bedroom recording project; however, during that aforementioned three year period, Hamilton has seen a growing national and international profile as Hamilton has seen attention and praise from major media outlets, including NME, Indie Shuffle, NYLON and Triple J, as well as this site. 
Produced by Konstantin Kersting, who has worked with The Belligerents, WAAX, and Tia Gostelow, Hamilton’s first single of 2017 “Until You Feel Good” is a mid-tempo single that is a change of sonic direction for Hamilton, as her lilting and coquettish vocals are paired with a much more organic arrangement of fuzzy Brit Pop and shoegazer rock-like power chords and a propulsive groove, along with a soaring hook and a subtly moody vibe. And while being radio friendly, the song manages to evoke a complex array of emotions — desire and longing, frustration and the sense of something being unresolved, along with some self-assured and ambitious songwriting. 

Filmed and directed by Brisbane, Australia-based filmmaker Jennifer Embelton, who has produced videos for Babaganouj, Huntly, Good Boy and Jeremy Neale, the video is follows a young woman’s time-bending journey across the present, the past, the future, the real and her own dreams when she encounters a boy from her past, who suddenly returns to her life. And as soon as he appears, he’s gone. The harder she tries to find the boy, the quicker he slips away. Is he a ghost of her past, haunting her at an inopportune time? That remains to be seen; but it further emphasizes the sense of things being unresolved within the song. 

New Audio: Alt Rock All Star Side Project Filthy Friends Release Their Most Straightforward and Anthemic Song to Date

Comprised of Corin Tucker (vocals, guitar), who’s best known for being a member of Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy; Kurt Bloch (guitar), who’s best known as the frontman of The Fastbacks and a producer and mentor for several up-and-coming Seattle-based rock bands; Bill Rieflin (drums), who’s best known for being a member of the legendary King Crimson; Scott McCaughey (bass), a studio musician, who’s also known for being a member of Fresh Young Fellows; and last but certainly not least, Peter Buck (guitar), who was a founding member of R.E.M., Filthy Friends is both a side project and free-flowing collaboration between likeminded, long-time friends, who happen to be among some of the most accomplished and influential musicians of the past 30+ years. 

The band has released two attention-grabbing singles this year, “Desiperta,” their contribution to the anti-Trump protest compilation 30 Songs For 30 Days and a Record Store Day release featuring “Any Kind of Crowd” and a cover of Roxy Music’s “Editions of You.” Building upon the attention they’ve already received, the band will be releasing their full-length debut Invitation through Kill Rock Stars Records on August 25, 2017 — and while featuring their previously released tracks, the album overall finds the band working through a series of different moods and styles, genre exercises and experiments; however, “The Arrival,” Invitation’s first single may arguably be the most straightforward, glam rock and alt rock nodding single as the band pairs bristling and chugging power chords and a rousingly anthemic hook around Tucker’s imitable vocals in a song that swaggers with the cool, self-assured confidence of old pros, who make it seem far easier than it actually is — and who can essentially play anything at will.