Category: indie rock

Comprised of core members and primary songwriters Bill Rousseau and Dahlia Gallin Ramirez, the San Francisco, CA-based indie duo Billy & Dolly can actually trace their origins to their first band together, a Moog-centric project called The Monolith, which was formed back in 2004. After a five year run, The Monolith split up; however, Rousseau and Ramirez continued to work together, eventually holing up in Ramirez’s basement to write songs before re-emerging as Billy & Dolly — and as Billy & Dolly, they’ve recorded and released two albums together, and shared stages with The Apples in Stereo, Dr. Dog and Corin Tucker.

For live shows, Rousseau and Ramirez play with Elliott Kiger (drums) and Charley Hine (bass); but with Five Suns, the band’s soon-to-be released Five Suns, which was recorded at Oakland’s New, Improved Recording with their longtime collaborator Jay Pellicci, finds the band officially recording as quartet, capturing them in their proper element — as a muscular and sweaty live unit. But interestingly enough, the album’s material balances goofiness and sweetness as the material touches upon post-apocalyptic love, galactic desperation and Jane Eyre, among other things.

As you’ll hear on “Can’t Stay Still,” Five Suns‘ fourth and latest single, the song is centered by arpeggiated keys and a propulsive rhythm, an infectious hook and an uncanny sense of harmony to create something that sounds like an amalgamation of Elvis Costello and bubblegum pop but with a sweet and goofy sensibility. “‘Can’t Stay Calm,’ is one of the first songs we wrote fro what would become the Five Suns album,” Billy & Dolly’s Dahlia Gallin Ramirez explains in press notes. “It’s about finding a kindred blue soul, someone who knows what it’s like to be a kid roaming the foggy streets of San Francisco.”  

 

 

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Currently comprised of founding members Chris Rosi (rhythm guitar, vocals)  and Corey Cunningham (lead guitar, keys), along with newest members Jenny Moffett (bass) and Brice Bradley (drums), the Los Angeles-based indie rock outfit Smokescreens can trace their origins to when its founding duo initially met and became friends while touring in their previous bands — the critically applauded Plateaus and Terry Malts — back in 2011. By 2015 Rosi and Cunningham relocated to Los Angeles to start Smokescreens, an act that they’ve described as a love letter to the 1980s New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records scene.  As the story goes, after cutting their teeth playing in bars and bowling alleys across Southern California, Rosi and Cunningham recruited engineer/drummer Jon Green to help them put their shambling love letters to Kiwi guitar pop on tape.

Initially released through Cunningham’s Parked in Hell Records and re-issued by Spanish indie label Meritorio Records, the Los Angeles-based indie rock band’s self-titled, full-length debut was recorded in a disused dairy factory and was mixed in mono. After Jon Greene’s death, the band decided to continue onward, recruiting their newest members Brice Bradley and Jenny Moffif, which enabled Cunningham to switch to lead guitar and keys. As a newly constituted quartet, the band spent time tirelessly working, nurturing and refining their sound and writing batches of songs before eventually heading to Primitive Ears Studio to track the ten songs that would eventually comprise their sophomore effort Used to Yesterday in rapid-fire fashion. Armed with tapes from the sessions, the members of the band brought them to The Allah-lahs‘ Kyle Malarky, who created a final mix that reportedly captures the band’s rhythmic drive and melodic verve. Unsurprisingly, the band’s sophomore effort continues the band’s longtime obsession with 80s, New Zealand guitar pop — but while expanding upon it, incorporating some new influences, including Messthetics-era DIY pop; in fact, the album’s latest single “Someone New” is a jangling and breakneck, propulsive bit of guitar pop with razor sharp hooks  that sounds as though it could have been quietly and quickly released in 1982, and was discovered by a collector in a random used record bin.

New Video: Gospelbeach Returns with a Glorious 70s Rock-Inspired Ode to California

Last year, I wrote about the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock collective  GospelbeacH, and as you may recall the band is fronted by the Florida-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Brent Rademaker, who has had stints in Further, The Tyde and is a founding member of Beachwood Sparks, and featured Rademaker collaborating with a rotating cast of friends and associates, as well as producer Jon Neiman, Jason Soda, Ben Redell, and Derek Brown. “You’re Already Home,” off the band’s sophomore 2017 album Summer of Love further cemented Rademaker and company’s reputation for crafting sunny and optimistic indie rock that draws from 60s and 70s AM rock and renegade country centered around soulful and thoughtful lyrics that focus on the age-old theme of timeless love. 

Summer of Love’s latest single “California Fantasy” manages to blend a sunny and clear-eyed optimism with a subtle but world-weary cynicism — and that shouldn’t be surprising as it captures folks who rush out to California with dreams of the Summer of Love, of starting fresh, of love and endless summer. of drinking wine, getting high and bullshitting with your dearest and most beloved, of wandering to Mexico with great rock ‘n’ roll on your radio and signing along to your favorite tunes. And while capturing the sense of awe and discovery in a road trip, of wisdom gained and new friends met, there’s an underlying reality that sometimes the reality doesn’t quite add up to your hopes and dreams — and even then, roll with the punches, make it what you need it to be, man ’cause this is but a fleeting dream. Sonically, the song will bring to mind Neil Young and Crazy Horse, early Stones and the like — but they do so while carefully avoiding mimicry; there’s a soulfulness and thoughtfulness here that makes it stand on its own. 

Directed by Steve Hanft, the recently released video for “California Fantasy” is centered around the band hanging out and jamming during a glorious and endless summer day — and of course, it includes catching local surfers and skaters, driving around and daydreaming aimlessly, further emphasizing the song’s chill out and enjoy the vibes and scenery around you vibe. 

New Video: The Breezy and Summery Visuals and Sounds of Wooden Shjjips’ Road Trip Anthem “Already Gone”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the renowned San Francisco, CA-based psych rockers Wooden Shjips, and as you may recall, although the act is currently comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals), Dusty Jermier (trumpet, bass), Omar Ahsanuddin (drums) and Nash Whalen (organ), the band can trace their origins back to 2003 when Johnson started the band with the intention of finding a group of non-musicians and creating music with them, centered by the underlying idea that untrained musicians would have a different outlook on what music is and how it’s played, essentially bringing something fresh to to the table in a fashion reminiscent of the garage rockers of the early 60s, the  Velvet Underground and 70s punk rockers did. As the story goes, Dusty Jermier, one of the longest tenured members of the band was originally recruited to play saxophone, an instrument he had never picked up before while members of earlier iterations of the band frequently had such a lack of interest in playing live for anyone that the band didn’t bother looking for gigs. 
Eventually, the band settled to its current lineup but with different intentions. Johnson, who’s a fan of largely impenetrable albums and arcane, small-press poetry books was fascinated by the idea of books that went unread or became largely out of favor and/or of print that were rediscovered by collectors or some bored critic looking for something different, and praised for being lost and under-appreciated gems. The band had purposely set out to make obscure albums that Johnson envisioned randomly leaving in libraries, thrift store margin bins and on park benches. Eschewing a MySpace page, a Soundcloud account or a website with MP3 downloads, the band gave away a limited pressing of 300 copies of their debut 10 inch vinyl album, paying the shipping costs for out of town requests — and unexpectedly, the album received some rave reviews, including one from Rolling Stone, which raised the album’s cachet and the band’s profile, thanks in part to a sound that the band has described as “a minimal, droning kind of garage band-influenced psychedelia with a noticeable 60s Krautrock influence” with some comparing the band to Suicide, The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Soft Machine and Guru Guru.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the members of Wooden Shjips released 2006’s “Dance California”/”Clouds Over the Earthquake,” to mark the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which sold enough for the band to break even on their investment, and “Summer of Love 2007,” a single inspired by groups, who worked to make the world the kind of place they wanted to live in, like the Diggers, a local anarchist collective that founded the first Free Store and served free meals in Golden State Park to any and all comers, and the proceeds from the single went to the charitable foundation Food Not Bombs. Adding to a growing profile, the band’s second, real gig found them opening for the psych rock legend Roky Erickson.

The band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut was recorded in the band’s rehearsal space, using a half-inch eight-track console that Jermier found, making the album a strictly analog affair aimed at getting high-quality and high-fidelity on an extremely low budget. Some tracks were layered-up demos while others were live studio jams with drum parts adding later, since they only had two tracks of the drums and no way to keep instruments from bleeding into each other noisily. But despite — or perhaps because of its DIY fashion, the album was released to critical applause that lead to the “Loose Lips”/”Start to Dreaming” 7 inch released by Sub Pop Records. Since then, the band has released three more full-length albums, 2009’s Dos, 2011’s West, 2013’s Back to Land and two compilations 2008’s Volume 1 and 2010’s Volume 2 — and they’ve managed this while the band’s Johnson has been busy with his acclaimed side project Moon Duo, with Sanae Yamada that has released four full-length albums and one EP.  Interestingly, V, the Bay Area-based psych rock band’s fifth full-length album and first album in over five years, finds the band reportedly expanding upon their sound while lightening the overall vibes, with the material being decidedly laid back, almost summery jams. 

Written last summer, Johnson has publicly said that he has viewed the material as a necessary antidote to the pervasive political anxiety and apocalyptic panic of American life; in fact, as Johnson says in press notes,“We had huge forest fires just outside of Portland and there was intense haze and layers of ash in the city. I was sitting on my porch every evening, watching ash fall down like snow, the sky looking like it was on fire. It was an apocalyptic feeling. Summer in Portland is usually really chill and beautiful, and we were working on a ‘summer record,’ but the outside world kept intruding on my headspace.” V., a graphic representation of the Peace sign, seemed apt to an album focused on the power of peace, beauty and resistance. The music is a balm against the noise and negativity.” 

V’s first single ““Staring at the Sun” featured a shimmering guitar pop sound with a steady groove reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield‘s “For What It’s Worth” and Psychic Ills‘ Inner Journey Out, and “Red Line,” its shoegazer rock meets classic psych rock-inspired follow up single may strike listeners and fans as a bit of return to form, as it features a hypnotic groove — while much like its predecessor, emphasizing slowing, down and pressing the reset button in a world gone absolutely mad. The album’s latest single is the twangy, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young and Crazy Horse-like “Already Gone” — with a subtle twist to the proceedings, twinkling synths reminiscent of Who Are You-era The Who; but regardless of its influences, it’s the perfect road trip song, as it possesses an overwhelmingly optimistic view, centered on the possibility of new adventures, new friends, of transformation, of being lost and found within the double lines. Unsurprisingly, the recently released video begins with the band’s Johnson getting his bike to ride to the band’s studio space on a glorious day — much like today here in New York — to meet the rest of the band. And of course, they play some hackeysack together — because they’re hippies. But all is right and glorious: bullshitting with your friends and playing music is necessary in a world that’s mad. It’s sometimes the only thing you’ve got. 

Numb.er is the brainchild of its Los Angeles, CA-based mastermind and primary songwriter, photographer and visual artist Jeff Fribourg, who’s probably best known as a founding member of psych rock/kraut rock band Froth. Thanks to a background in graphic design and visual art, Fribourg has developed a reputation for his work being imbued with a sense of architectural composition with angular guitar riffs and analog synths being layered over throbbing drums and propulsive bass lines. And although Fribourg can trace the origins of his love of synthesizers to when he was in Froth, Numb.er finds the Los Angeles-based songwriter, photographer and visual artist fully exploring his eclectic influences and inclinations with the project meshing elements of punk rock, shoegaze, post-punk and noise rock — without committing to a singular worldview and without sounding overly ironic or forced.

Goodbye, Numb.er’s latest effort is slated for release at the end of the week through Felte Records, and the album’s latest single “Numerical Depression” will further cement Fribourg’s reputation for  genre-defying sound as you’ll hear elements of classic ’77-era punk, post-punk and noise punk as the song is centered around a propulsive bass line, power chord-based guitar lines played through copious guitar effect pedals and rolling drums — and while sonically the song brings to mind Wire, Nirvana, The Clash, Bauhaus, and others, complete with a similar urgency, and yet the song doesn’t find the band resorting to clueless, self-obsessed mimicry and cliches.

New Video: Grunge Pioneer Mark Lanegan Teams Up with Duke Garwood on an Atmospheric and Eerie Single

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who is best known as the frontman, and founding member of  Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and for collaborating with an incredibly diverse array of artists and bands throughout his lengthy career, including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others.

While developing a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, Lanegan has also managed to maintain a solo career that has seen him release ten, critically applauded and somewhat commercially successful albums; in fact, ironically, his solo work has seen more commercial success than his work with Screaming Trees. Lanegan’s tenth solo album, 2017’s Gargoyle found the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist collaborating with British-based musician Rob Marshall, who’s best known for stints with  Exit Calm and Humanist and his longtime collaborator, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alain Johannes. Sonically speaking, the material was both a refinement and an expansion of the Krautrock-tinged blues of his previous two albums Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio.

Duke Garwood is a British-based blues/indie rock multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who has written and released six albums as a solo artist — 2005’s Holy Week, 2006’s Emerald Palace, 2009’s The Sand That Falls, 2011’s Dreamboatsafari, 2015’s Heavy Love and 2017’s Garden of Ashes. He’s also collaborated with renowned The Orb,  Archie Bronson Outfit, Savages, Shezad Dawood and the aforementioned Mark Lanegan among others; in fact, Garwood has released an album with Lanegan — 2013’s Black Pudding and as has recorded and toured as a member of Lanegan’s backing band for the renowned grunge pioneer’s last three albums. Interestingly, Garwood and Lanegan continue their ongoing collaboration with their forthcoming, second album together With Animals, which is slated for an August 24, 2018 release through Heavenly Records, and the album, which was split between old-fashioned studio collaboration and Trans-Atlantic file sharing is a decided sonic departure for both artists, as it finds them crafting spectral and sinewy music, focusing on the spaces between notes while employing much different instrumentation — dusty, analog synthesizers and drum machines. The album’s first single, the sparse, mournful and aching “Save Me” is centered around Lanegan’s imitable vocals, fluttering, synths and metronomic drum machines, and in some way the track sounds like a discarded remnant of life just before the apocalypse; but underneath, the song feels made of some older stuff, as though it channels an ancient pagan ritual.

 
As Harwood says of his lengthy collaboration with the renowned grunge pioneer, “Over the years, we’ve recorded together and apart. This time, I started this record alone with many animals as company. It flowed, I set to work and out it came. Our music is instinct, there is not much talking about it, just creating. I think that if you are at peace with your work, and feeling it right, it flows, and can feel ‘easy’. Music isn’t meant to be hard. Though sometimes it can burn you to ashes. Making music for a singer, so they can inhabit it with a song means hitting the right soul buttons. There is no hit without a miss. It is a healing record, for us the makers, and for the listeners. It grows natural. We are gardeners of sonic feelings.  The recently released video features footage of 80s wrestlers but in heavily filtered negatives, which further emphasizes the song’s trippy vibes.

New Video: Nashville’s Sundaes Specializes in Scuzzy Take on Dance Floor Friendly Pop

Sundaes is a recording project fronted by a rather mysterious New York-born, Nashville, TN-based multi-instrumentalist and producer, influenced by early aughts indie rock,  blues and genre assorted hits of all eras, as well as Steel Magnolias and the work of Lana Del Rey. The band made their live debut back in the spring of 2015 with two sold out sets at the Chelsea Hotel Storefront Gallery — and adding to a growing profile, “Walk My Street,” appeared in the soundtrack of that year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, Spotlight.

Last year saw the release of the Nashville-based act’s self-titled debut EP, and their latest single “Pretty Wife” is the highly anticipated follow up to their EP. Sonically, the act employs the use of arpeggiated synths, blasts of strummed guitar, thumping, tweeter and woofer beats, a sneak and infectious hook and breathily delivered vocals. Sonically speaking, the Nashville-based act’s latest single will likely bring to mind Black Moth Super Rainbow, NVDES, Bottoms and others — but with a mischievous, dance floor friendly accessibility.

Featuring cinematography by Monique Juliette Baron and choreography by Amanda Hameline, the recently released video for “Pretty Wife” stars Sundaes dressed as a ballerina wearing a crown with several other dancers. As Sundaes explains in press notes about the video’s concept: ” I’d been watching the Kirov’s performance of Swan Lake on YouTube a lot around the time I was thinking about video ideas. It’s amazing how ballet dancers take something that requires such precise, intense discipline and make it appear so delicate and effortless. I love how much emotion they can express with the softest gestures. I wanted to do sort of a dreamy modern ballet gone awry. Somewhere between Tchaikovsky and Rocky Horror; equal parts ‘Waltz of the Snowflakes’ and ‘Sweet Transvestite.'”

Comprised of founding members Ison Van Winkle (vocals, guitar) and Ross Murakami (drums), along with Jacob Gutierrez and newest member, Mari Brossfield (keys, vocals), the Coachella Valley, California-based indie act Yip Yops can trace their origins back to 2011. As the story goes, Van Winkle, who was turned on to Pink Floyd’The Wall by his father, “consciously and subconsciously” developed boundless ambition when it came to mutual. Through mutual friends, he attended a local jam session where he met Murakami, About a year later, the duo began jamming together, and it sparked the possibility of forming a band, centered around working together to accomplish a goal of creating the best music possible

Gutierrez joined the band for an industry conference, and as a teenaged trio, the band cut their teeth playing in and around the Coachella Valley area for the better part of a year-and-a-half. Brossfield joined the band, and as a result the band’s New Wave-inspired sound expanded to include male-female harmonies. Already the band has played sets at Coachella, Chinatown Summer Nights and Echo Park Rising and adding to a growing profile the band has opened for Lauren Ruth Ward and have released their latest single, “She” a single that draws from The Ting TingsThat’s Not My Name” and “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” and Freedom of Choice-era Devo, as the band employs the use of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, propulsive. tribal-like drumming and an infectious, razor sharp hook within an anachronistic yet carefully crafted song that sounds as though it could have been released in 1981, 2011 or 2018.