Category: indie rock

With the release of 2016’s full-length debut Get Home Safe, the Brooklyn-based indie rock act Teen Body, comprised of Shannon Lee (guitar, vocals), Xela French (bass, vocals), Alex Bush (guitar) and Marcus McDonald (drums) quickly developed a reputation for a sound that has been compared to the likes of Yo La Tengo, Slowdive, Galaxie 500 and others.

Dreamo, the Brooklyn-based quartet’s long-awaited sophomore album is slated for an April 12, 2019 release, and the album derives its name from a term coined by the band’s close friend, Casey Halter, who after a show, wryly said to the band “Your music is like dream pop and emo . . . dreamo music.” Interestingly, the forthcoming album reportedly features what arguably may be the most vulnerable, sincere and hopeful material of their growing catalog. Now, as you may recall, album single “Validation” retains the gorgeous and shimmering 4AD Records-like sound that has won them attention across the blogosphere while managing to be wistful yet comfortable, evoking a lover or dear friend gently squeezing your hand when you’re at your most desperate and uncertain.  The album’s latest track, album title track “Dreamo,” is a slow-burning and achingly beautiful song that further cements their reputation for crafting a classic shoegaze-like sound. Centered around boy-girl harmonizing, the song manages to possess the wistfulness of a relationship that’s ended, with the weighty recognition that what was once current is now part of your past. And yet, the song has the air of hope because once you’ve known love, you’ll see love come back — it’ll always be different, but it’s love all the same.

 

 

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New Video: The Dream Syndicate’s Lysergic Ode to Getting Older and Miles Davis

Currently comprised of founding members Steve Wynn, an accomplished and critically applauded singer/songwriter, guitarist and solo artist and drummer Dennis Duck, along with bassist Mark Walton and guitarist Jason Victor, the Los Angeles-based psych rock act The Dream Syndicate can trace its origins back to the early 80s when Wynn along with fellow founding member Kendra Smith and future True West members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair founded and played in one of the area’s first new wave bands in the Davis, CA music scene, The Suspects. Wynn also recorded a single with another band, 15 Minutes, which included members of Alternate Learning.

After returning to his hometown, Wynn spent a brief stint of time rehearsing in another local band, Goat Deity with future Wednesday Week members, Kelly and Kristi Callan — and while with Goat Deity, Wynn met Karl Precoda, who had an answered an ad seeking a bassist. The two started a new band with Precoda switching to guitar. Wynn’s college pal and former bandmate Smith and Duck (Mehaffey), who was a member of Pasadena-based act Human Hands joining the band to complete The Dream Syndicate’s initial lineup. (Interestingly, as the story goes, Duck suggested the band’s name as a reference to Tony Conrad’s early 1960s New York-based experimental ensemble, best known as the Theatre of Eternal Music, which featured John Cale.)

With the release of their Paul B. Cutler-produced debut EP, The Dream Syndicate received attention locally for a sound influenced by The Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Television, completely with aggressively long, feedback-filled improvisations. The members of the band signed to Slash Records subsidiary Ruby Records, who released the band’s 1982 full-length debut, the attention-grabbing and influential Days of Wine and Roses. Rough Trade Records released their debut’s lead single “Tell Me When It’s Over” as the A-side of a UK EP, which included a live cover of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul” that was released in early 1983. Smith left the band and joined David Roback in Opal — and she was replaced by David Provost.

Their Sandy Pearlman-produced sophomore effort Medicine Show was recorded and released through A&M Records in 1984 — and as a result of being on a major label, the band opened for R.E.M. and U2. Attempting to build on a growing profile, the members of the band released a five song EP This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album . . . Live!, which was noteworthy as it was the last recorded effort to feature Precoda, who left soon after to pursue a career in screenwriting — and it was the first to feature Mark Walton on bass. The EP’s commercial failure led to the band’s first breakup — although a temporary one. The band was then dropped by A&M Records after the label rejected the band’s demo for “Slide Away.”

During the band’s break up, Wynn along with Green on Red’s Dan Stuart wrote and recorded 10 songs with Duck and a number of other musicians, which was released by A&M Records in 1985 as Danny and Dusty’s The Lost Weekend. After the release of Lost Weekend, Wynn, Duck and Walton teamed up with Paul B. Cutler to form a then-newly reunited iteration of The Dream Syndicate that recorded two full-length studio albums — 1986’s Cutler-produced Out of the Grey and 1988’s Elliot Mazer-produced Ghost Stories. The band recorded a live album Live at Raji‘s which was recorded in 1988 before the release of Ghost Stories but released afterward.

The band broke up in 1989 — and a batch of previously unreleased material was released that included 3½ (The Lost Tapes: 1985-1988), a compilation of studio sessions and The Day Before Wine and Roses, a live KPFK radio session, recorded just before the release of the band’s applauded debut album were released.  After the breakup, Walton went on to play bass in the Continental Drifters while Wynn went on to become an acclaimed singer/songwriter and solo artist with a reputation or restlessly exploring a variety of different styles — and leading a number of different projects including Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3, The Baseball Project and others.

Wynn led a reunited Dream Syndicate to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their full-length debut that featured Walton, Duck and Jason Victor, Wynn’s longtime Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3 guitarist at a festival appearance at 2012’s Festival BAM in Barcelona Spain. The reunited band went on to play a handful of other live sets, including two 2013 Paisley Underground reunion shows that included The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade. September 2014 saw the band playing a handful of shows in which they played their first two albums in their complete entirety — and those shows marked the band’s first shows in the Southeast in almost 30 years.  Between their first reunion show and 2017, the band played more than 50 shows.

Anti-Records released the band’s fifth full-length album How Did I Find Myself Here in 2017. The album which featured a lineup of Wynn, Walton, Duck and Victor with keyboardist Chris Cacavas was recorded at Montrose Studios — and notably the album’s final track “Kendra’s Dream” featured vocals and lyrics from Kendra Smith.  Building upon the growing attention around the reunited band, the members of The Dream Syndicate recorded three songs, which were included on the compilation 3 x 4, a collection of tracks that featured new material from their Paisley Underground counterparts, The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade with each of the four bands covering songs by the other bands.

Slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Anti-Records, the John Agnello and The Dream Syndicate co-produced These Times will be the second full-length studio album since the band reunited, and the album’s material is reportedly a subtle yet noticeable departure for the band sonically. “When I was writing the songs for the new album I was pretty obsessed with Donuts by J-Dilla,” lead singer and songwriter Steve Wynn explained. “I loved the way that he approached record making as a DJ, a crate-digger, a music fan wanting to lay out all of his favorite music, twist and turn the results until he made them into his own. I was messing around with step sequencers, drum machines, loops—anything to take me out of my usual way of writing and try to feel as though I was working on a compilation rather than ‘more of the same.’ You might not automatically put The Dream Syndicate and J-Dilla in the same sentence, but I hear that album when I hear our new one.” Additionally, Wynn also changed up his lyric writing process for the album — instead of the song’s sound being dictated by previously written lyrics, he wrote all the material’s lyrics after the band finished instrumental tracking, so that the lyrics were influenced by the sounds.

The album’s first single was the atmospheric and surrealist dream, “Black Light,” a track built around a looped arpeggiated key and congo sequence, shimmering bursts of guitar, and a motorik groove comprised of a propulsive and sinuous bass line and a backing vocal section that sings “aaah” while Wynn’s vocals sing surrealistic and symbolic lyrics about how the night exposes our darkest and deepest inhibitions and fears.  These Times’ second and latest single “Put Some Miles On” continues a on a somewhat similar vein as its immediate predecessor as it’s centered around a chugging, motorik groove, blasts of feedback driven guitar, twinkling synths and Wynn’s languid, speak-singing vocals singing surrealist lyrics with a profound double meaning — after all, the song and its title refers to getting older while on the road and actually playing the work of Miles Davis. 

“This is our third video directed by David Dalglish, a Scotsman who is gradually becoming the official visual interpreter of our music,” the band’s Steve Wynn explains in press notes. “And I love the way he captured the triple meaning of “Put Some Miles On”—actual road miles logged, the ensuing experience and wisdom of the turning of the calendar pages and, of course, our love of Miles Davis himself. It’s truly a zig zag marathon!”

New Video: No Vacation Teams Up with Acclaimed Direction Duo Boredom on Stylish Visuals for “Yam Yam”

Currently comprised of founding members Sabrina Mal (vocals, guitar) and Marisa Saunders (bass) along with Nat Lee (synth), Harrison Spencer (guitar) and James Shi, the Brooklyn-based indie rock act No Vacation can trace their origins to when they initially bean as a San Francisco-based dorm room-based duo featuring its founding members. Eventually expanding into a fully-fledged band, the members of No Vacation quickly earned a local profile with the release of the the Amo XO and Summer Break Mixtapes, both of which helped to establish their reputation for crafting 120 Minutes-era guitar pop. After the release of the Summer Break Mixtape, No Vacation went on an indefinite hiatus with the members of the band splitting between San Francisco and New York. 

After a series of shows under different names and a number of lineup changes, the act recruited drummer James Shi before writing and recorded their third and critically applauded EP, Intermission, an effort that was ironically enough conceived when the band wasn’t actually an active band. Unsurprisingly, the EP’s material touched upon themes of belonging, regret and resilience — all while drawing from personal experience. Now as you may recall, “Yam Yam,” Intermission’s second single continues on the wistful and nostalgic tone of its predecessor, “Mind Fields,” as the song is centered around shimmering and jangling guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring hook and Mal’s plaintive and ethereal crooning. And while further cementing their long-held reputation for crafting 120 Minutes inspired indie rock, the song focuses on the reeling heartache and bitter confusion of a breakup, capturing the feelings from an real, lived-in and deeply uneasy personal place. 

Directed and conceived by the San Francisco-based director and filmmaker duo BOREDOM, comprised of filmmakers Luke Lasley and Patrick Sean Gibson, the video is a mixed media visual experience comprised of UHD Digital, Super 8 Film and over 1,000 frames of hand painted watercolor animation that features a minimal yet very vivid color palette — bright reds, yellows, midnight blues that further emphasizes the uneasiness at the core of the song. Interestingly, the release of the video comes on the heels of the band announcing that they’ll be releasing a new EP this summer, which they’ll support with lengthy tours of the US, UK and European Union. The tour includes a May 26, 2019 stop at the Bowery Ballroom.

With the release of singles like “Fourteen,” “Melodrama,” and “Dreamless” the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Beverly Kills quickly received attention across the blogosphere last year for a shimmering, 4AD Records era take on dream pop, complete with rousing and enormous hooks. Adding to a big year for the Gothenburg-based quartet was named one of the “Best Swedish Indie Debuts of 2018” by HYMN, received a Gaffa Awards nomination for Breakthrough of the Year, and played a Viva Sounds Festival showcase in their hometown. Later this month, the band will play several by:Larm Festival sets for Agent bla, Moaning and Vasterbron.

Building upon a rapidly growing, buzz-worthy profile, the band recently signed to Australian indie label Hell Beach and Swedish label Welfare Sounds, both of whom have released the band’s latest single “Revellers” will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting 4AD Records-inspired guitar pop with enormous hooks — but the song arguably features one of the tightest rhythm section playing I’ve heard from the band yet.

Hell Beach and Walfare Sounds will be releasing a limited edition double single vinyl record “In This Dim Light”/”Melodrama” in late April.

 

 

 

Perhaps best known as the frontwoman of defunct, Denver, CO-based indie rock/synth-wave/chill-wave act Ending People, Fort Collins, CO-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Erin Roberts’ current project Porolo can trace its origins back to when Roberts started it as a solo recording project back in 2002. Over the next decade and a half, the solo recording project evolved into a collaborative project featuring a rotating cast of friends and associates, influenced by the dramatic landscapes of her home state and the even more dramatic personalities she has encountered.

Last year, I wrote about “Wasting Time” off the band’s James Barone-produced Awards EP and building upon the attention that the EP received, the band’s first single of 2019 is the anthemic 60s jangling pop “I Quit,” a track inspired by Roberts quitting her full-time career earlier this year. Reminiscent of Johnny Paycheck‘s classic, smash hit “Take This Job and Shove It,” the track captures the shimmering resentment of someone, who has finally reached their breaking point with dead-end, soul-crushing and demoralizing jobs with dehumanizing and offensive bosses, class ceilings, blind eyed-HR departments, asshole coworkers, pointless and endless meetings, casual racism and casual sexism and low pay — and out of the blue decides to quit, surprising themselves and everyone around them. As Roberts says of the song, “Singing this song puts power back in my hands when the going gets rough. I’ve used it as [a] mantra to sing repeatedly to myself when faced with tough situations. Dehumanizing bosses, turgid gatekeepers, class ceilings, blind eyes. Sometimes when there’s nothing nice left to say, you can just say “I quit.'”

The band is currently in the studio with James Barone, working on their latest full-length, which is slated for an October 2019 release.

 

 

Comprised of Shahanna Jaffer and Joey LaRosa, the Los Angeles-based duo Junaco can trace their origins to a mutual desire to make music for music’s sake — and to write honest songs that meant something true for themselves, that someone else may be able to make something true for them, as well. Instead of rushing through songs, the duo have a rather deliberate creative approach hat has resulted in a sound that’s moody yet anthemic.

The duo’s forthcoming Omar Yakar-produced EP is slated for release sometime later this year, and the EP’s first single — and the band’s debut single, as well, is the stunning and and cinematic “Willow.” Centered around layers of shimmering and jangling guitar chords, Jaffer gorgeous and lilting vocals, jazz-like drumming and an expansive song structure that features a sweeping, widescreen coda, the song will likely bring comparisons to Caveman, Eliza Shaddad and even Fleetwood Mac — all while possessing a swooning and lovelorn quality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading single ‘Willow’ features warm dark tones, ominous instrumentation and soulful vocals which glide gently atop the jangly guitars. The single emits an accurate and organic feeling through its use of storytelling lyricism and atmospheric soundscapes. Thematically ‘Willow’ is inspired by emotions. “Emotions are often intensified by our surroundings. We rarely separate the two – when we are inspired by a feeling it is all encompassed by the environment we are in. The message of this music is to except those feelings rather than trying to mask them”, confides Jaffer.

 

Junaco hope to create music that will leave listeners feeling a sense of connection and closeness to. With the aim to remind others of our innate human emotions, Junaco’s debut EP highlights just how similar we are at our cores.

New Video: Hush Pop Returns with Ethereal Visuals for Shimmering EP Single “Oasis”

Earlier this year, I wrote about Hush Pup, an experimental pop/synth pop act, which splits their time between Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Featuring core duo Ida Maidstone (vocals, Yamaha synths, Casio synths, Beat Finder) and Fizzy (bass, EFX, Beat Finder II) with contributions from Torrie Seager (guitar), the Canadian act describes their music as sounding “a lot like driving at night through the board game Candyland — soft cotton candy trees brush up against windows of your glass car, as you ride towards a friend’s cabin nearby the molasses swamp.”

The band’s latest efforts the Flower Power EP and Panacea, a romantic film-inspired album will be released next week through Lone Hand Records, and as you may recall the Beach House, Anemone and 4AD Records-like “The Hours” was centered around a shimmering and looping guitar line, propulsive beats, Maidstone’s ethereal vocals, a soaring hook and equally ethereal synths. Continuing in a similar, ethereal vein, the act’s latest single “Oasis” is centered around shimmering and undulating synths, propulsive beats, a looping and shimmering guitar line paired with Maidstone’s vocals ethereally floating over a fever dream-like soundscape. 

Filmed, edited, and conceptualized by Mike Perreira, the recently released video for “Oasis” features some experimental footage of water and other particles overlaid with old footage of the band from a music video that never came to fruition. The editing was kept fairly loose in order to let the natural light and movement come together organically, so that the video resembled a dream, further emphasizing the ethereal nature of the song. 

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Supergroup Mini Mansions Release a Glittering Disco-Tinged Visual for “GummyBear”

Comprised of Michael Shuman, Zach Dawes and Tyler Parkford, the Los Angeles-based indie rock supergroup Mini Mansions features a collection of highly acclaimed musicians, as the side project features members of Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets. Tracing their origins to when Queens of the Stone Age went on a hiatus in 2009, the trio of Shuman, Dawes and Parkford have released three EPs and two full-length albums —  2009’s self-titled and self-released EP,  2010’s self-titled full-length, 2012’s . . . Besides . . ., 2015’s The Great Pretenders and 2018’s Works Every Time EP all of which have established them for a sound that has been compared favorably by critics and fans to the likes of The Beatles, Elliot Smith, and Fountains of Wayne among others. 

Slated for a July 26, 2019 release through Fiction Records, the Shuman and Cian Riordan co-produced third album, Guy Walks Into A Bar finds Shuman relinquishing his drummer role to fully focus on vocals and lyrics with his Queens of the Stone Age bandmate Jon Theodore taking up drumming duties for the album. Interestingly, the album reportedly features some of Shuman’s most self-reflective and honest work he’s written, as the album’s lyrics are informed by a whirlwind relationship that he began with his ex-fiancee, who he met during a night out at a bar — with the album detailing aeach stage of the relationship from the beginning in which you’ve connected with someone and think they’re attractive and interested to falling in love to dramatically falling out of love. And the material may also arguably be he most pop leaning and sleekest material they’ve written to date. 

Interestingly, Guy Walks Into A Bar’s latest single is the slinky, dance floor friendly synth pop jam “GummyBear,” a track that sounds indebted to 80s synth funk and Giorgio Moroder-era disco and LCD Soundsystem, as the track is centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line and some complex polyrhythm. The recently released Liam Lynch-directed video further emphasizes the dance floor vibes, as it features a shit ton of neon and glitter drenched visuals. As Shuman remarks on the video ” We made a video for new single ‘GummyBear’ with our friend and comedic legend, Liam Lynch. Inspired by Saturday Night Fever and the classic videos of the early 2000’s, we created some serious visual eye candy for a song that sonically tastes the same. Pun intended.”

Liam Lynch says in press notes, “I’ve known Mike Shuman for over ten years, through my work with Queens of the Stone Age. When he asked me if I’d do a video for Mini Mansions, I was happy to do so. To me, this song really straddles being sort of 70’s and 80’s at the same time. I kept coming back to this BeeGee’s feeling but it was more like a realm in between. This got me thinking about the gateway door on the album cover and maybe that was a doorway to this in-between realm. So this video is a collage and mish-mash of elements but they sort of come together in their bar, disco, neon, and city lights to support the vibe.”

Growing up in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Kamal Rasool, the founding member of acclaimed multi-continental-based psych rock act Flamingods has traveled widely to collect rate and unique instruments from Tanzania, the Amazon and elsewhere. When Rasool relocated to London to study music, he recruited a few friends from Bahrain and London to start a band, including the members of the band’s current lineup — Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe and Charles Prest.  Interestingly, their first live show together was an attention-grabbing show at the 2010 ATP Festival, which quickly led to a national profile.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Flamingods quickly released two EPs, 2010’s Sun and 2011’s Away. 2013’s full-length debut Sun was a reimagining of the material off the EP of the same name that featured “Quesso,” a collaboration with Ponytail‘s Dustin Wong on lead guitar. Around the time of the album’s release, the British government enacted new visa laws which forced Rasool to return to Bahrain after he finished school. Rasool then moved to Dubai, where he worked for an independent magazine and coffee shop. And although at that point, the members of the band were residing on different continents and unable to play together, they continued to work on new material that eventually wound up becoming their critically applauded Hyperborea, an album that established a globe-spanning take on psychedelia that the band has dubbed “Exotic Psychedelia.”

During the release of Hyperborea, Prest relocated to Dubai to work closely with Rasool. And shortly after that, the members of Flamingods began working on their third full-length album, 2016’s Majesty, an album that was largely inspired by the likes of Les Baxter, Tito Puente, Arthur Lyman and others. Although the album received mixed reviews, it was championed by BBC Radio 6‘s Gilles Peterson and Lauren Laverne, who both invited the band to record live sessions. With Rasool and Prest able to return to the UK, the band was finally able to extensively across the UK and the European Union to support the album, including sets at Green Man Festival, End of the Road Festival, and Fusion Festival.

In February 2017, the band signed with Moshi Moshi Records, who released that year’s Kewali EP and the band toured to support the album, including their SXSW debut. The band also released a remix album of Majesty that featured remixes of album material by Ibibio Sound Machine, Meridian Brothers and OasisAndy Bell. And the band released a Dan Carey-produced live version of “Hyperborea.

Flamingods’ fourth, full-length album Levitation is slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Moshi Moshi Records, and the album is largely inspired by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds out of the Middle East and South Asia in the ’70s but while channeled through mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery. But perhaps much more important, the Levitation recording sessions found the band living and working on the same continent for the first time in about four years — and as a result, the album’s material may arguably be the most unified effort they’ve written and released in years. Now, as yo may recall, the album’s first single “Marigold” was a trippy bit of psych rock centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths delivered with a Brit Pop-like swagger. Interestingly, the album’s second single, album opening track “Paradise Drive” continues in a fairly similar vein as its predecessor, complete with a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths — but the song may arguably bear the most uncanny resemblance to Evil Heat-era Primal Scream; in fact, “Paradise Drive” reminds me quite a bit of one of my favorite Primal Scream songs, “Autobahn 66” but with a subtle disco element to it,  complete with cowbell.