Category: indie rock

The last few days have been insanely busy in the JOVM world — and as a result I haven’t been able to post as much as I would have liked; however, it’s been a fun weekend of a lot of live music from all over the world and time spent with some very dear friends. Naturally, there are a lot of photos and stuff but expect a ton of stuff over the next couple of weeks . . .

In any case, as you all know, I receive quite a bit of emails from an incredibly diverse array of artists, labels, publicity firms, band managers and other folks from all over the world. I recently received an email from London-based quintet Blank Bibles. The British quintet’s latest single “Abigail West” sounds as though it draws heavily from The Smiths as shimmering guitar chords, propulsive drumming, soaring strings and anthemic hooks are paired with plaintive and lovelorn vocals. Unsurprisingly, the Abigail West at the heart of the song seems to be one of the loveliest women in the entire world — the sort of woman that you’d happily sing and dance in the street without a care in the world.

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Born in Reno, NV and currently based in Nashville, TN, alt rock/blues rock artist Jack Berry can trace the origins of his recording career to when he wrote and recorded his first album while studying in Los Angeles. Berry then worked and performed along the West Coast as one half a of a duo before before he decided that it was time to go solo. Relocating to Nashville, Berry spent several months couch-surfing and writing and recording material with the hopes that he could catch the attention of that city’s local press.

Eventually, Berry began receiving praise from outlets both locally and nationally from the likes of Nashville SceneThe Deli MagazineBlues Rock Review and others, which resulted in slots at Toronto‘s North by Northeast (NXNE), CMJ and SXSW‘s Red Gorilla Festival. Since then, Berry has played a number of venues between his home base and NYC; however, 2016 may be his breakthrough year with the Spring 2016 release of his latest album, Mean Machine. 

“The Bull,” Mean Machine‘s first single is a sultry and bluesy single that pairs arena rock friendly power chords, propulsive and carefully syncopated drumming, an anthemic hook and Berry’s seductive crooning and howling that sonically seems to draw from Soundgarden (think of “Mailman” “Spoonman,”and “Fell on Black Days” off Superunknown) as it does from old-school blues and contemporary rock.

Currently comprised of founding members Dabney Dwelle (guitar, vocals and Wurlitzer) and Tim O’Neill, formerly of Rhythm of Black Lines (drums) along with Jonathan Skaggs, formerly of Crime in Choir (bass) and John Hale (keyboards), Austin, TX-based indie rock/indie pop quartet My Golden Calf can actually trace their origins to when Dwelle was searching for a new songwriting approach after his previous band, Quien es, Boom had split up. Eventually Dwelle put his guitar down and began writing songs on an old, broken down Wurlitzer electric piano. Dwelle quickly recruited longtime friend O’Neill to assist him in fleshing out his early demos and ideas. And after a number of lineup changes Skaggs and Hale joined to complete the current lineup.

The quartet spent 2014 writing and demoing songs, and then testing the songs in live shows until the band felt that they had album-ready material, which they recorded during the early part of last year, at their newly-constructed Captain Douglas Studios. The end result is the band’s forthcoming debut full-length effort Perfume Brute, which is slated for a February 26, 2016 release. The album’s first single “Either” begins with a tight driving groove, angular burst of guitar, twisting and turning piano chords and big hooks paired with Dwelle’s plaintive crooning. Sonically the song sounds as though it draws from 70s AM radio rock — while subtly (and jauntily) pushing a familiar sound to the 21st Century.

Comprised of Emma Wigwam, Mark Jasper and Ed Shellard, Witching Waves emerged from the London, UK DIY scene with a tense sound consisting of angular guitar chords, propulsive drumming and anthemic hooks reminiscent of 90s alternative rock, as you’ll hear on “Twister,” the latest single off the band’s new album, Crystal Cafe. Sonically, the song sounds as though it draws equally from Wire, Gang of Four and Sleater -Kinney — while lyrically, focusing on the contemporary, modern condition. And as a result, the song evokes the sensation of constant tumult, uncertainty and danger, desperate alienation, stagnation and misdirected anger. It’s being pissed off and not always understanding why or how — and not knowing where to direct it because you’re so angry all the time over everything. If that doesn’t describe the life of a great deal of young people, nothing else really will.

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps best known for his stint with long-time collaborator David Bazan in Pedro the Lion, TW Walsh emerged as a highly regarded singer/songwriter with the 2011 release of Songs of Pain and Leisure. And as Walsh explained in press notes, after the release of every album he’s worked on, he’s often thought about packing it in and doing something else — and with Songs he had felt as though he may have completed something.

At the beginning of 2013, Walsh came down with a mysterious and debilitating illness and over the next 18 months, the singer/songwriter struggled to function. “I didn’t have the energy to be creative . . . I could barely function at all. The only diagnosis I ever received was chronic fatigue syndrome. but I’m still not convinced that was correct. I’ll probably never know what was wrong with me. I’m still not nearly 100%. Eventually, I started to feel better, but then I fell off my bike and broke my elbow. This made it impossible to play guitar or drums for several months” Walsh adds in press notes.

Walsh eventually started to feel healthy enough to start messing around with song ideas. He recorded several demos but nothing sounded quite right to him — he wanted the arrangements to be weirder and more varied and didn’t know how exactly to do it. As the story goes, Walsh contacted Yuuki Matthews, known for his work with The Shins, David Bazan, Crystal Skulls and Teardrops in early 2014 to collaborate together. “This approach clicked” Walsh said “so over the course of exactly one year, we finished the ten songs that make up Fruitless Research. In a few cases, Yuuki reworked the songs from the ground up — keeping only the vocal and some drum elements, and building a new chord progression around the melody. In other cases, he added overdubs and did some creative editing. But in every instance, his vision pushed the song over the edge into something exciting . . . something that I wouldn’t have done on my own. His mixes also blew me away. They’re pretty unconventional at times in their saturation and character. It kind of sounds like a tape from the 80’s you left in the car too long.”

Walsh adds, “Lyrically, this record documents a time of upheaval, discovery and change for me. I turned 40 right in the middle of it. I’ve been working through a lot of existential stuff. At some point, you gotta take a hard look at reality. Try to figure out what your life means.”

“Young Rebels,” the first single off Fruitless Research consists of twisting and turning synth chords, buzzing guitar, throbbing bass and thundering drums paired with an incredibly anthemic hook, and in some way it makes the song sound as though it were recorded in 1983 — think of The Fixx‘s “Red Skies” — but on old, warped analog tape that’s sat around in a dusty room.

 

 

Although little is known about the Kent, WA-based trio So Pitted, the trio have started to receive attention for a sludgy and abrasive sound that some critics have compared favorably to Nirvana, Metz, Pere Ubu and others. “feed me,” the latest single off the band’s forthcoming album neo will further cement their burgeoning reputation as the band pairs sludgy and acidic guitar chords, layers upon layers of feedback, thundering and propulsive drumming, industrial clang and clatter and distorted vocals in a song that sounds as though it drew influence from Ministry.

The band will be on tour throughout January and February to build up buzz for the album. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
Jan. 09 – Boston – The Sinclair *
Jan. 11 – Washington, D.C. – Rock & Roll Hotel *
Jan. 12 – Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church *
Mar. 04 – Paris, FR – Mecanique Ondulatoire
Mar. 05 – Amsterdam, NL – Butcher’s Tears
Mar. 07 – London, UK – The Shacklewell Arms
Mar. 08 – Leeds, UK – Brudenell Games Room
Mar. 10 – Lille, UK – La Peniche
Mar. 11 -Brussells, BE – Homepluged
Mar. 12 – Berlin, DE – West Germany
Mar. 15 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 16 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 17 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 18 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 19 – Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar. 20 – Austin, TX – SXSW
* w/ METZ + Bully

As the story goes, Flower‘s frontman and primary songwriter Jack Fowler wrote the band’s forthcoming album Waste of Life while in the middle of a holding pattern. Although he had a rather busy year as the frontman of exwhy, with the band signing to Other People Records and touring with Pujol and Knox Hamilton, Fowler desperately wanted to focus on revealing his vulnerable side; in fact, the album is inspired largely by Fowler’s own experience of being an office drone. As Fowler explains in press notes “I was working a pretty decent office job and doing absolutely nothing beyond working and getting depressed. I was just spinning my wheels and growing bored and really depressed. I was struggling with talking to people, being social at all. That’s the core of this album—anxiety and not being sure how to define yourself. ”

Waste of Life‘s latest single “Dreams” possesses a pent up frustration over ambitions, hopes and a life that seem indefinitely stalled from some larger, unmoving (and unrelenting), outside force and not having an idea as to what would be the best thing to do next; so the song’s narrator winds up sitting inert and inactive on the sidelines out of fear of fucking everything up — and yet, hating himself for his inability to do anything at all. And despite the song’s desperation and hopelessness, there’s a subtle sense of hope; that things will get better and that somehow life will push you in the direction you need to be going.

Sonically, the band pairs bitter and confused sentiment and anthemic hooks with layers of shimmering guitar and  driving rhythms in a song that sounds as though it draws influence from The Smiths and 80s post-punk. Much like the previous post, Flower’s sound is something that should sound warmly familiar to anyone who grew up in the 80s — but it manages to place that sound and feeling in high contemporary context, proving that the more things change, the more things wind up the same.