Category: indie rock

Currently comprised of founding duo Dennis Ponozzo (bass, vocals), a former member of Below the Sound and Scott Udee (guitar), with Gabe Johnson (drums), the Madison, WI-based post-punk/noise rock trio Sinking Suns initially formed in 2007 as a duo, and after a series of basement recordings, the band expanded into a full-fledged live band with the addition of Gabe Johnson, who joined the band in 2009. Since then, the band has released several highly touted albums and singles while touring across the Midwest, playing a sound that features a unique blend of post-punk, noise rock, surf rock and thrash punk.

Slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Reptilian Records, Sinking Suns’ soon-to-be released full-length album Bad Vibes will further cement the band’s reputation for a scuzzy and bruising sound, as you’ll hear on the album’s mosh pit friendly new single “Remember You Will Die”– but the album thematically and sonically is centered around deeply personal tales of struggle, survival and mourning; in fact, as the band’s Dennis Ponozzo explains, the song was inspired after he had been reminiscing about the last time he saw his brother, before his death. “I was looking at old photos of him and remembering when we drove to a local “ghost light” in Michigan one night called The Paulding Light. It was a warm summer night. Looking at the photos I thought to myself how he was clueless in the photos that his number would soon be up. I was clueless. We all were. It’s mainly a reminder of all of our mortality. ” As a result, the song is a urgent and plaintive howl into an unceasing and uncaring void.

 

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Initially formed back in 2010 as a trio, Cincinnati, OH-based punk rock act Vacation quickly released a slew of tapes, singles and albums through a number of DIY labels while playing pop-inspired punk shows throughout the Midwest and the rest of the country. Since their formation, the band has expanded into a quartet while managing to balance prolificacy with a relentless touring schedule that has had the Cincinnati-based punk rockers opening for the likes of The Breeders, JOVM mainstays Screaming Females, The Black Lips, and others.

Back in 2016 Vacation recorded a two-part album Southern Grass: The Continuation of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a miscellaneous collection of basement punk ephemera, and by the time of the album’s release that July, the members of the band had returned to the studio to write and record their latest album Mouth Sounds #2699 slated for a release through Bloomington, IN-based Let’s Pretend Records later this week. Engineered by The Afghan Whigs‘ John Curley at Ultraseude StudioMouth Sounds #2699 reportedly finds the band at their most experimental with songs that nod at Tom Petty, krautrock and punk rock; in fact, the album’s latest single “Deflector Head” is a prime example of what the band specializes in — ragged, gritty and rousingly anthemic punk with decidedly Cheap Trick-like power pop leanings. It’s the sort of song that you should raise your beer as high as possible and shout along lustily to the hook — as rock ‘n’ roll should make you do.

 

New Video: Introducing the Swaggering Arena Rock Friendly Sounds of Scotland’s The Rah’s

The Rah’s are an up-and-coming Prestonpans, East Lothian, Scotland-based quintet, comprised of founding members Jack McLeod, Jordan McIntyre, Neale Gray and Andrew McLeod, along with newest member Lee Brown, who have cited Jimi Hendrix, Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones — and while regionally, they’ve developed a reputation for an energetic live show, over the past few years they’ve been experimenting with their sound and songwriting approach with the result being their anthemic, 90s Brit Pop “Survival,” a massive power chord-based single that sounds inspired by the likes of Kasabian, The Hives, and Foo Fighters.

Filmed and edited by Carousel Films, the recently released video for “Survival” features the band performing over superimposed stock footage of political and social unrest, war, climate change and destruction — all of which echo our current world in an uncanny fashion.

New Video: United Ghosts’ Trippy Visuals for Their Shimmering 4AD Records-Inspired New Single

The Los Angeles-based dream pop duo United Ghosts, comprised of Sha Sabi, who came to Southern California after stints in New York and San Francisco; and German-born Axel Ray, who spent a 12 year stint in London before relocating to the States — although on some level, it’s a bit of a misnomer, as they’ve received attention for a classic 4AD Records-like sound centered around boy-girl harmonizing and draws from dream pop, psych rock, shoegaze and krautrock.

The duo’s 2013 full-length, self-titled debut and its follow up, Dear Electric Sun EP received airplay from BBC’s Steve Lamacq and Lauren Laverne, KCSN’s Nic Harcourt, KLOS’ Mark Sovel and XFM’s John Kennedy and a number of others. And after three successful UK and European Union tours, a number of Stateside dates that included CMJ and SXSW, followed by an L.A. residency, the duo of Ray and Sabi returned to the studio to work on their Mark Rains and Axel Ray co-produced sophomore album, Saturn Days, an album that thematically and lyrically explores modern life, love and disconnect in a world that’s equally dystopian and beautiful, in which hope is laced with paranoia and where dreaming your way out might be the only chance to survive.

Saturn Days’ latest single “Waves,” will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting material 4AD Records-era dream pop, the prerequisite shimmering guitar chords, motorik grooves, enormous power chord-based soloing and dreamy boy-girl harmonies — but with a subtly modern touch,.

The recently released video for “Saturn Days” is comprised of performance footage of the members of United Ghosts with their live band shot by Arian Soheili with superimposed drone footage by Steve Payne, underwater footage by Alex V. and images of Saturn courtesy of NASA and the Saturn Cassini mission.

Comprised of childhood friends Chris, TJ and Daniel, the London-based trio The Leo Star Electric Band have developed a reputation for raucous live sets, including an infamous one where they destroyed the stage, and were accused of ruining Christmas by Stevie Wonder‘s manager, Keith Harris — and for doing whatever they need to, to make a gig, including using forged passports to get into Paris to play a show. And perhaps as a result, they’ve managed to open for the likes of Melt Banana and Dev Hynes‘ The Red In Sophia Loren.

Thankfully, they’ve yet to be arrested for any of that; but sonically speaking, the band says their mission is to create fucked up pop songs for the masses, and as you’ll hear from the band’s debut single “Soft & Gentle,” they specialize in a scuzzy power chord-based sound that brings 90s grunge rock immediately to mind, complete with the familiar (and beloved) loud, quiet, loud structure, rousingly anthemic hooks, pounding drums and angst-driven harmonizing; but underneath the angst, the song reveals the bleeding and sensitive heart of its creators, as the song was written as an ode to a number of people the bandmembers have have loved and lost.

 

New Video: Phantastic Ferniture Returns with Mischievous Visuals for Soaring Album Single “Bad Timing”

Although I’ve suffered a number of frustrating technological setbacks, you may recall that last month, I wrote about Phantasmic Furniture, the  garage rock/guitar pop side project (of sorts) of acclaimed singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin and a collection of some of her closest and dearest friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan. And as the story goes, the band can trace their origins to a birthday gathering in a Sydney, Australia-based bar to celebrate Jacklin’s 24th birthday. At some point, a group hug had manifested itself with all ten of the group’s hug participants, drunkenly promising to start a band together. “Only four of us remembered,” Hughes recalls. The band’s core and founding members bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for fern-related puns and leisurewear, and they would meet up whenever their individual schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of live dates to an increasingly devoted audience.

Eventually, Jacklin, Hughes and Brennan decided that Phantastic Ferniture wasn’t a side project, and they should focus on writing and recording an album together, centered around the fact that the band would be a lot more spontaneous and less technical than their individual pursuits. “That was the fun part,” Jacklin says in press notes. “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.” Hughes adds “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”

Slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Transgressive Records, Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut finds the band adopting a mantra of not overthinking — of focusing on the urgency of the moment, while being whimsical. “Gap Year,” the second single off the band’s full-length debut is a 90s alt rock-like track that struck me as owning and spiritual debut to PJ Harvey. “Bad Timing,” the third and latest single of the single continues on a somewhat similar vein as its immediate predecessor — rollicking indie rock with a cinematic sweep centered around a propulsive rhythm section, psych rock-like guitar pyrotechnics and a soaring hook. 

The recently released video for “Bad Timing” continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with director Nick Mckk and the video finds the band mischievously employing the use of fern imagery — with some friends holding potted ferns in front of the band members. At one point, you even see them put a fern-related puzzle together — because, of course! As the band’s Jacklin says in press notes, “We have to really thank all of our friends who came and made this clip with us. It turned out to be quite a painful process but probably good for our dwindling musician specific fitness levels. I think all our arms were aching for about a week after. I think anyone who is already on the fence in regards to our use of fern imagery is going to really hate us after watching this. We had also just got back our puzzle that features on the cover of our record and were putting it together while we waited for each shot to be set up.”

Currently cloaked in a bit of mystery, the reclusive members of the up-and-coming indie rock act ilu split their time writing, recording and residing in Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, and from their first official single “Graffiti Hen Ewrop,” the Estonian-Welsh band specialize in a sound that draws from krautrock and shoegaze as the song is centered around a motorik groove, swirling feedback, shimmering keys, ethereal vocals, angular bass chords and a soaring hook — but underneath the song’s anthemic nature, is an aching and wistful longing.

As the band notes, the song’s lyrics came in a rather organic fashion, as they were driving around a snowy Tallinn on Christmas Day, full of deep grief and sadness. “I had just lost my father a few months before moving to Tallinn and I was dealing with my grief and my own confusion that was crippling at the time. The album was written and recorded there in a small flat in Merivälja looking across the harbour over at the old medieval town, it is very much a journey back into the light”.

New Audio: Mudhoney Releases an Incisive and Furious Single from First Full-length Album in Over 5 Years

Currently comprised of founding members Mark Arm (vocals, rhythm guitar), Steve Turner (lead guitar) and Guy Maddison (bass), along with Dan Peters (drums), who joined the band in 1999, the Seattle, WA-based alt rock/grunge rock band Mudhoney officially formed back in 1988 although the band can trace its origins to the breakup of Green River, a proto-grunge band that at one point featured Alex Vincent (drums), Jeff Ament (bass), Steve Turner, and Stone Gossard (guitar). After releasing two EPs, and several lineup changes, Green River eventually split up with Bruce Fairweather, Gossard and Ament eventually joining Mother Love Bone. Now, if you know your grunge history, you’d know that after Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood died from an overdose, Gossard and Ament went on to form Pearl Jam while Arm and Turner reunited to form Mudhoney.

Mudhoney’s earliest releases through Sub Pop Records — namely “Touch Me I’m Sick” and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP wound up becoming massively influential with the band being credited as being the godfathers of Seattle’s grunge rock sound, a sound that we all know is generally centered around scuzzy, distortion pedal heavy power chords. But despite their towering influence on alt rock, the band has never really seen much commercial success — although Nirvana covered Mudhoney during their legendary Unplugged, filmed and recorded a few weeks before Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

Slated for a September 28, 2018 through their longtime label home, the beloved Pacific Northwest-based grunge legends tenth full-length album Digital Garbage is reportedly, one of the band’s most sociopolitically incisive and blistering albums they’ve recorded; in fact, Digital Garbage’s first single “Paranoid Core” captures the distrust of experts and facts, the rampant fear-mongering and emotional exploitation and the very primal, lizard brained instinctual response that rules our current zeitgeist. And its all centered around boozy, old school punk rock guitar chords, a propulsive back beat and bass line. Western civilization and American democracy are about to collapse before our very eyes but goddamn it, there’s at least rock ‘n’ roll.

 

Currently comprised of founding member Austin North (vocals, guitar) with Cecilia Otero (bass) and Josh Mendoza (drums), the El Paso, TX-based indie rock/dream pop trio Sleepspent can trace their origins back to when it founding member returned from school in San Diego and started the band with friend and co-writer Aaron Quintalla. Although they’ve gone through a lineup change that has the band as a trio, since their formation, the members of Sleepspent have quickly become one of El Paso’s best, up-and-coming bands; in fact, locally they’ve become one of the area’s go-to bands, opening for a variety of nationally recognized touring bands. And from “Come Smile With Me,” off the El Paso-based band’s Chris Common-produced debut EP It’s Better If You Don’t Speak Or Think, released earlier this year through Slow Start Records, the young band specializes in a sound that draws from shoegaze, dream pop and indie rock. “That can be heard in the alternate tunings used throughout our music as well as the melodic chord progressions and melodies,” the band’s Austin North says in press notes.
Although sonically speaking some of my colleagues may describe the band’s sound as being reminiscent of The Cure and The Smiths, the band’s sound bit reminds me of Forever So and Ruckers Hill-era Husky as the young Texans walk a difficult tightrope between technical craft and earnest emotionality.
The band is currently in the middle of their first tour. Check out the remaining tour dates below.
Tour Dates 
07/09/2018:  Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlie’s
07/12/2018: Memphis, TN @ Sounds Good Memphis
07/13/2018: Nashville, TN @ Drifters BBQ
07/14/2018: Cincinnati, OH @ The Comet
07/16/2018: Minneapolis, MN @ Char Bar
07/17/2018: Omaha, NE @ B Bar
07/18/2018: Tulsa, OK @ Soundpony
07/19/2018: Wichita, KS @ Kirby’s Beer Store
07/21/2018: Norman, OK @ Red Brick Bar
07/22/2018: Albuquerque, NM @ Moonlight Lounge

Currently comprised of founding member and frtonwoman Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With the release of a handful of singles, the band’s profile rapidly rose — and it resulted in a relentless touring schedule with an increasing amount of time spent on the road. Although the band found their groove, the stress was way too much and the band went through the first of many lineup changes that found Carol continuing onward with a series of session musicians.

Despite the lineup changes, the band eventually found themselves becoming buzz worthy, playing bigger clubs; however, for the Valley Queen’s founder and frontwoman, the chemistry that she had felt and began to depend on to create and perform was missing. They landed a record deal — a dream that countless bands desperately wish to achieve; but as Carol began to recognize, the band was much more than her concentrating on writing lyrics while session musicians were being paid to play and record the material as directed. What she had long desired was for the band to be what it originally was about — the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.

As the story goes, before writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced, soon-to-be released full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Shawn Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best CoastFool’s GoldNikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production that focus on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians’ performances. And for the members of Valley Queen, the experience writing and recording was ultimately about the collective exploring and creating together. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year I wrote about album title track “Supergiant,” and the album’s latest single “Chasing the Muse” continues in a similar vein — 70s AM rock inspired indie rock with an earnest emotional heft that comes from living a full and messy life, complete with its frustrations, crushing defeats and small victories. Ultimately, both tracks are centered around Carol’s powerhouse Linda Ronstadt-like vocals, a deliberate attention to craft and some exceptional and passionate musicianship.

Valley Queen will be touring to support their new effort and the initial batch of tour dates are below.

VALLEY QUEEN TOUR DATES

July 5-8 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival

July 28 Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
August 01 San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord
August 02 Davis, CA – Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
August 03-05 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
August 07 Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
August 08 Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
August 09 Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
August 11 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
August 12 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
August 15 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew