Category: indie rock

New Video: Up-and-Coming British Act ISLAND Release Gorgeously Cinematic Visuals for Soaring Album Single “Horizon”

ISLAND, an up-and-coming London-based act can trace their origins to when vocalist Rollo Doherty’s solo, acoustic, bedroom project expanded to a fully fleshed out band with the addition of Jack Raeder (guitar), James Wolfe (bass) and Toby Richards (drums)  — and with the release of two critically applauded EPs, the band have quickly developed a reputation for crafting atmospheric yet anthemic, arena rock friendly material largely inspired by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Kings of Leon, The War On Drugs, Grizzly Bear and others, and for must-see live see that they’ve honed through some relentless touring of the UK and European Union over the course of 2017.

Building upon their growing profile, the London-based quartet’s highly-anticipated self-produced, full-length debut Feels Like Air reportedly continues their long-held DIY approach to the creative process while further cementing their reputation for crafting incredibly self-assured earnest and anthemic songs; in fact, album singles “Try,” “The Day I Die,” and “Ride” have amassed a total of over 2.6 million Spotify steams — with the band earning nearly half-a-million monthly listeners.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Horizon” is a slow-burning, atmospheric track with enormous, arena friendly hooks reminiscent of Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree-era U2 and while self-assured, it reveals a band that’s managing the difficult balance of an ambitious desire to rock everyone’s pants off with a thoughtful and deliberate attention to mood and craft.

Directed by Claes Nordwall, the recently released, and incredibly cinematic video for “Horizon” follows the members of the band driving through the snowy Swedish countryside, with each individual member broodingly lost in their thoughts. And as the members of the band explain in press notes, the video “captures a key theme of the album as a whole — the idea of a passenger drifting through different dreams on a journey. We wanted the video to reflect the open soundscape, we feel the song creates, so we jumped at the chance to shoot in the vast Swedish countryside. Claes took us back to his snowy hometown for the video, which had an amazing dreamlike feel that really suited the ideas we wanted to convey.


Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the  Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk trio Second Still, and as you may recall the trio, comprised of founding members Ryan Walker (guitar) and Alex Hartman (bass) along with Suki San (vocals) can initially trace its origins to when its founding duo met in Los Angeles, back in 2007. By 2011 Walker and Hartman had relocated to New York, where they spent a great deal of time searching for a vocalist, who they felt could match their intensity and creative output, and as the story goes, when Walker and Hartman met Suki San, they felt an immediate connection and began working together.

Second Still’s first show was an infamous party at the now-condemned McKibbin Street Lofts that was shut down by the police during the band’s second song. Building upon the buzz of that incident, the band recorded their debut EP, Early Forms as a limited edition cassette, which quickly sold out. Making the most of their time, the members of the trio wrote and recorded the material that eventually comprised their 2017 self-titled, full-length debut — and from singles “Walls,” “Recover,” “You Two So Alike,” and “Strangers,” the album’s material thematically focused on decidedly post-modern subjects: depression, frustration, anxiety and alienation among a throbbing, seething mass of humanity, with a visceral and urgent emotionality, while sonically seeming to draw from Sixousie and the Banshees and the early catalog of renowned indie label 4AD Records.

Equals, the Los Angeles-based post punk trio’s much-anticipated follow-up EP finds the band expanding upon their sound, pushing it towards new directions — while retaining some of the early elements that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and elsewhere. You’ll see hear the chorus and delay pedal effected guitar, sinuous bass-driven grooves and industrial-like drum machine beats paired with ethereal vocals and infectious, razor sharp hooks; however, the members of the band have begun employing the use of a couple of analog synthesizers, which adds an atmospheric element to their sound. Additionally, roughly half of the EP’s material (the A side) reportedly finds he band exploring a decidedly pop-orientated, lighter sound while the other half (the B side) find site band hewing towards the melancholy and gloomy roots. The EP’s first single “Opening” was a decidedly melancholy post-punk track that to my ears will further their growing reputation for crafting a sound heavily indebted to early 80s post-punk with clean, modern production values, and unsurprisingly, the EP’s latest single “Automata” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Sixousie and the Banshees’ “Israel,” and “Happy House” but with a subtle bit of moody atmospherics.


Over much of the almost 8 year history of this site, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstays Bambara, comprised of founding, core trio twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh and their childhood friend William Brookshire, and as you may recall the trio’s soon-to-be released Andy Chugg-produced third, full-length album Shadow on Everything is their first for Wharf Cat Records, and it reportedly represents a decisive step forward with the band moving from the early noise rock and post-punk that inspired their first two albums with the new album being  a Western Gothic concept album. And while the musical center remains the trio’s tight and forceful rhythm section featuring Blaze Bateh’s frenzied yet incredibly metronomic drumming and Brookshire’s propulsive bass lines, which manage to be roomy enough for for Reid Bateh’s howled vocals and squalling, feedback heavy guitar.

Unlike their previously recorded output in which Reid Bateh’s vocals were deeply buried in the mix, Shadow on Everything finds the band placing Reid Bateh’s vocals at the forefront, symbolically placing the damaged characters and seedy locales of his lyrics at center stage — and while the overall sound is cleaner, as you’ll hear on “Jose Tries to Leave,” the album’s first single, the band has retained the forceful and nightmarish dynamism that has won them attention; but interestingly enough, the album finds the band experimenting with their sound as some of the material features violin and cornet arrangements, as well as ambient noise loops distilled down from hours of manipulated vocal collages the band shifted through to find the perfect texture.

“Doe-Eyed Girl” Shadow on Everything‘s second and latest single continues in a similar vein as it features Spaghetti Western-like guitar work, explosive bursts of feedback and a punk rock-like propulsive rhythm section that gives the song a cinematic yet menacing quality paired with an unusually empathetic portrayal of the damaged characters and nightmarish scenarios that have long inhabited their material imbued with a sweaty and furious urgency, fueled by a desperate and manic obsession.



New Audio: Portland’s Blackwater Holylight Returns with a Trippy and Expansive Take on 60s Psych Rock

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight, and as you may recall, the band comprised of founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass),  Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the band, which can trace its origins to when one of Faris’ previous bands broke up, and she wanted to begin experiment what her own version of what “heavy” should and could be both sonically and emotionally with the primary aim to celebrate vulnerability all of its forms. But along with that, as Faris explains in in press notes, because she was the only female in her previous band, she wanted to see how her “songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat, and working with women.” 

RidingEasy Records will be releasing Blackwater Holylight’s self-titled review on April 6, 2018 and from the Breeders-like alt rock meets shoegaze “Sunrise,” and the Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath heavy, power chord dirge and strident, feminist anthem “Wave of Conscience,” the Portland-based quartet have shown that their material draws from a wide array of sources with a piss and vinegar-fueled, kick ass and take names sort of self-assuredness. And unsurprisingly, the album’s latest single “Willow” continues in a similar vein while being their most expansive and most 60s psych rock-inspired song they’ve released from the album to date, as the band shifts tempo and mood while centered around some explosive guitar pyrotechnics and ethereal harmonies. 

Although she is all of 25, the New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and studio engineer Eva Lawitts has had a rather accomplished music career –beginning  as a high schooler, she’s had stints in the likes of Vagabon, Citris and others, touring across the US a number of times — and as a studio engineer, she runs Wonderpark Studios with Chris Krasnow.

Interestingly, Lawitts’ solo recording project Stimmerman finds the accomplished New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and studio engineer stepping out on her own as a creative mastermind and frontperson; in fact, with her Stimmerman debut, Pleasant Vistas in a Somber Place EP, Lawitts wrote, arranged and performed all of the vocal, guitar and bass parts with Beach Fossils‘ touring drummer Russel Holzman and acclaimed trumpeter Adam O’Farrill on an effort that as she told New Noise Magazine were drafts of a songs written for a new album by a now-defunct band she was in. “I had completed most of the instruments by fall 2016, the band I had written the songs for broke up in December, and I spent the firs half of 2017 racing around on tour with a horde of other musicians and bands, mostly getting really depressed in vans and hotels around about the sudden lack of direction in my life, and attempting to complete these songs on my own,” she explained. And as a result, the EP’s material reflects a childish moroseness and an impotent bitterness and frustration.

Reportedly, the EP’s latest single “Tough Talk” were culled from half-remembered conversations during a particularly intense period of touring, as well as her running commentary on those memories, followed by a sort of conclusion about how even attempting to reach a conclusion about what it all was supposed to mean was futile, and those observations give the song a bilious fury and frustration — while sonically, the song finds Lawitts drawing from prog rock, indie rock, noise and punk in a way that reminds me of The Mallard‘s Finding Meaning in Deference.






New Video: The Gorgeously Cinematic Visuals for Porlolo’s “Wasting Time”

Indie rock act Porolo was founded back in 2002 as a solo recording by its creative mastermind and primary songwriter, the (currently) Fort Collins, CO-based singer/songwriter Erin Roberts, best known as the frontwoman of defunct, Denver, CO-based indie rock/synth-wave/chill-wave act Ending People, and over the years it has increasingly become a collaborative project with a collection of friends and associates, influenced by the dramatic landscapes and even more dramatic personalities she has encountered.  Interestingly, Porlolo is a decided change in sonic direction from Roberts’ work in Ending People, as the project finds Roberts and her collaborators focusing on grungy, alt-country-like indie rock. With the hook-driven and twangy “Wasting Time” off the project’s forthcoming James Barone-produced Awards EP features some ambitious and expansive songwriting, while centering on an aching sense of regret over wasted time and wasted chances. But there’s also a sense of pride in accepting your role in fucked up circumstances and walking away with some semblance of your dignity intact. 

The recently released and cinematically shot video for “Wasting Time” is set in the middle of the Colorado Rockies and features Porlolo’s Erin Roberts rambling through the forests and brambles, and broodingly posing and/or staring off in the distance; but during the song’s hook, Roberts faces her doppleganger, as though telling herself a needed-to-hear message about moving forward. 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sarah Howells, best known as Bryde, and as you may recall Howells quickly exploded into both the British and international scene with the release of “Help Yourself” and several other singles, as they received praise from NylonThe Line of Best Fit and Earmilk and airplay from BBC Radio 6BBC Radio WalesRadio X and Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1, thanks in part to a sound that had been compared favorably to Jeff BuckleySharon Van EttenBen Howard and London Grammar — while thematically focusing on complex, ambivalent, and hopelessly entangled relationships among other things.

Howell’s much-anticipated full-length Byrde debut Like an Island is slated for an April 13, 2018 release through Seahorse Music, a label that Howell founded to release records by-like minded women and help them achieve more visibility in a male-dominated industry.  With the 90s alt rock-like, power chord-based “Peace,” Howell further cements her growing reputation for crafting incredibly self-assured, earnest and anthemic songs grounded in the gritty, psychological realism of a woman maneuvering complicated relationships, her own emotions and society’s expectations of her — and while this song sounds as though it draws from PJ Harvey, Howell manages to write material that feels and sounds as though it were based directly from her own life experiences.

“‘Peace’ is about the warm glow of two drinks and real connection with another person,” Howell explains. “It’s about the end of anger and the settling calm after a storm. Being able to be entirely yourself and still be liked. I had to make it the loudest track on the album because if something’s a not a little subversive.”







New Video: JOVM Mainstays Preoccupations Release Surreal Visuals for Haunting New Single “Disarray”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Canadian post-punk act Preoccupations, and as you may recall the band which features Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar), initially formed under the highly controversial name Viet Cong, which put the band in the middle of a furious and tumultuous debate centered around the appropriation of terms, names and symbols associated with historical groups and actions that evoke the horrors of despotism, fascism, genocide and so on. Ultimately, the band decided it was best to change their name before the release of their highly-anticipated sophomore album, an album that that found the individual members of the band in an unsteady and uncertain positions: at the time, each  member and relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established writing process of writing and testing material while on the road both extremely difficult, if not highly impractical. Along with that, several members of the band were reeling from having serious, long-term relationships end, around the time they were preparing to enter the studio. And unlike their previously recorded efforts, the band went into the writing sessions without having a central idea or theme to consider or help guide them along, essentially making the recording sessions akin to collectively blind leap of faith. Eventually the album’s material wound up drawing from something specific and very familiar — the anxiety, despair and regret that causes sleepless nights.  

Building upon a growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post-punk centered around themes of anxiety, uncertainty, creation, destruction and futility will be releasing their third album New Material is slated for release on Friday through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album, which finds the band recording and producing themselves is as the band’s Matt Flegel said in press notes, “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Interestingly, much like their sophomore album, the band met without having much written or demoed beforehand — and according to the members of the band, it was arguably one of the most collaborative writing sessions they ever had as a band, with the sessions being extremely architectural in nature, with some ideas (proverbially speaking) being built up while others were torn down to the support beams. And although they didn’t initially know what the songs were about or where they were going with them, they had resolved to let the material show and not explicitly not tell. 

However, the writing and recording sessions reportedly led to a reckoning for the band’s Flegel. “Finishing ‘Espionage’ was when I realized. I looked at the rest of the lyrics and realized the magnitude of what was wrong,” says Flegel. In fact, the murky and angular  Manchester/Joy Division-like first single “Espionage,” while being among the most danceable songs they’ve written and released, focuses on a narrator, who has finally become aware of a disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life. “Antidote,” New Material’s second single was centered around propulsive, industrial clang and clatter based rhythm meant to convey a sweaty anxiety, while being about how people forget that we’re all talking, walking, shitting animals, who have an infinite amount of knowledge within their fingertips but still manage to repeatedly make the wrong choices. 

“Disarray,” New Material’s third single is a meditative and slow-burning single featuring shimmering guitar chords, an angular and propulsive bass line, organic drumming and boom bap-like drum machine work during the song’s bridge. And while superficially nodding at Turn On the Bright Lights-era Interpol, the song captures something much darker and uncertain — as it’s centered around someone, who from their perspective, views everything they’ve ever known to be a lie. As the band’s Flegal recalls, When I was writing ‘Disarray,’ it started off with an image of a mother combing her daughters hair that came into my mind, I liked the metaphor of splitting the braids and combing through the tangles, and wrote the rest of the lyrics around that image. This song sat untouched for close to 6 months as a recording with just bass and drums before we came back to it and wrote and recorded the guitar line while out of our minds one night in the early AM.” 

Directed by Ruff Mercy, the recently released video pairs animation and live footage of the band’s Flegel walking on a deserted beach while singing the song’s lyrics, shot with a grainy, almost Instagram-like filter. At points, animated and cartoonish figures and lines burst into the proceedings and superimposed over Flegel’s face to convey deep, inner turmoil and chaos. 

New Video: The Hauntingly Eerie 360º Visuals for Oginalii’s Moody and Slow-Burning “Substance Abuse”

Comprised of founding members Emma Hoeflinger (vocals, guitar) and Karolyn Winegarner (vocals, drums), and Kurt Kraft (bass), the Nashville, TN-based psych rock/sludge rock trio Oginalii derive their name from the Cherokee word for “my friend,” and the up-and-coming band can trace their origins to when its founding members met in the dorm hall they both shared while studying at Belmont University back in 2014 — with Kraft joining the band in 2016. 

Locally, the trio have developed a reputation for a sound that’s difficult to pin down, as their material finds the band at one moment playing slow-burning, dreamy shoegaze and then the next moment playing ripping, sludgy power chords paired with Hoeflinger and Winegarner harmonizing and trading vocals throughout; in fact, from what I understand the Nashville-based trio, who released their critically applauded debut EP earlier this year, won quite bit of attention from crowds at SXSW last week. 

Building on the growing buzz that the Nashville, TN-based trio has already received for their debut EP, their follow-up EP, The Grey is slated for an October 20, 2018 and while reportedly continuing in a similar sonic vein as its predecessor, the Curtis Roush-produced and engineered effort thematically focuses on “the grey.” As the trio’s Hoeflinger explains in press notes, “The grey [as a concept] has been a thing for me my whole life. The in-between. Black and white shuts the demons up, but the grey is always constantly calling my name. It’s in between the grey of things that not  a lot of people talk about.” And as a result, the material discusses the sensation of feeling lost, the space between the inner self, which you rarely reveal and the out self, which you present to the world — but interestingly enough the material balancing pensiveness, with a tongue-in-check irony at other points while  being self-aware of both. “Substance Abuse,” the EP’s firs single and opening track begins with a slow-burning and mournful jangling reminiscent of Mazzy Star but boozier and bluesier with a chugging, sludgy chorus and an anthemic, beer raising, fist pumping chorus; however, throughout the song, it’s narrator is desperately and transparently putting on a brave face, smiling and claiming that everything is fine, when it’s obvious that everything is on the verge of complete 

The recently released 360º virtual reality video features the band performing the song in a basement that quickly turns into an eerie and ominous graveyard with bare, swaying trees just above them with haunting cult-like figures surrounding them. It’s incredibly creepy and further evokes the sense that something isn’t quite right. 

New Video: Chicago’s Ganser Returns with a Tense and Propulsive Single Paired with Badass B-Movie Visuals

Last month, I wrote about the Chicago, IL-based post-punk act Ganser, and as you may recall the act, comprised of  Alicia Gaines (bass, vocals), Nadia Garofalo (keys, vocals), Brian Cundiff (drums) and Charlie Landsman (guitar) formed back in 2014  — and with the release of their debut EP This Feels like Living, the quartet received attention locally for a art rock-leaning post-punk/noise rock sound that was influenced by Sonic Youth and Magazine. 
The Chicago, IL-based post-punk quartet’s forthcoming, full-length debut Odd Talk is an April 20, 2018 release through No Trend Records, and the album reportedly focuses on communication breakdowns — with the song’s narrators desperately seeking meaning in confusion and messiness, as though they were figuratively sorting through syllables and signals to find the right words to say what it is you want or need to say. Album single “PSY OPS” found the band walking a careful tightrope between angular Wire-like post-punk and the furious, bruising punk of Memphis‘ Ex-Cult and Nots but with explosive bursts of discordant noise, and the whole thing was held together by a rhythm section that was propulsive, frenzied and yet strangely danceable. Over that, Garofalo shouted and barked lyrics that sounded and felt like absurdist non-sequiturs. 

Odd Talk’s latest single “Avoidance” is arguably the most decidedly straightforward post-punk songs they’ve released as it features propulsive and angular bass chords, slashing guitar lines, tribal-like drumming and blasts of synths over which Garofalo’s voice rises and falls with increasing frustration, followed by a weary sort of acceptance. Interestingly, the song is about the sharp pain of miscommunication with someone you love and the exhaustion of trying to be understood when your language is just completely wrong. And ultimately, it makes communication and trying to be understood absurd and pointless. 

Centered around edited stock footage taken from 60s and 70s B movies, the video features classic muscle cars racing in a desert landscape towards an unknown end further emphasizing the absurdity at the heart of the song.