Category: indie rock

With the release of their politically charged, fourth, full-length album Running Out of Love, the Stockholm, Sweden-based pop duo The Radio Dept., comprised of Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg earned praise from the likes of NPR, PitchforkThe Atlantic and others. Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish pop duo recently released their latest single, the jangling and yearning “Your True Name,” which the band noting that the “song is about faith in a way, not divine but utopian, believing in something that will probably never be. And it’s about falling short, sometimes with your goal just barely out of reach.” As a result, the song manages to be simultaneously optimistic yet bittersweet  — all while reminding us that life is often about hoping for something, trying to achieve it, getting knocked down and getting back up to go for it again. (Interestingly, the single is the first release from the band’s own label, Just So!)

The members of The Radio Dept. will be embarking on a Stateside tour that begins on January 29, 2018 in Los Angeles and includes a February 3, 2018 stop at Warsaw. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

1/29: Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre

1/30: San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore

2/1: Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall

2/2: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre

2/3: Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw

2/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

Initially formed under the highly controversial name, Viet Cong, the members of the band now known as Preoccupations — Matt Flegel (bass, vocals), Mike Wallace (drums), Scott Munro (guitar) and Daniel Christiansen (guitar) —unknowingly and unwittingly found themselves in the middle of furious and tumultuous debate around cultural association and the association with historical groups and actions that would immediately evoke the horrors of despotism, war and genocide. And as an understandable result of that controversy, the members of the Canadian post-punk act made the difficult decision to change their name before releasing their highly-anticipated sophomore album.

When the members of the band reconvened to write the material that would comprise their self-titled effort as Preoccupations, each individual member of the band was in a rather unsteady and uncertain position: the members of the band had all relocated to different cities across North America, which made their long-established creative process of writing material while on the road extremely difficult. Along with that, as it turned out several members of the band were dealing with the heartache of having long-term relationships end, just as they were set to write. Adding to a growing sense of uncertainty, their sophomore effort found the band going into the writing session without having a central idea or theme to consider or guide them, making the sessions a collective and blind, leap of faith.

The end result was an album that drew from very specific things — the anxiety, despair and regret that has most people up at night. In fact, album singles like  “Anxiety,” focused on the natural and forced change placed upon the members of the band, and more generally on people while simultaneously capturing the confusing push and pull of human relationships, while “Degraded” one the album’s most straightforward and hook-laden songs was full of bilious accusation and recrimination. The album’s expansive, third single “Memory” as comprised of three distinct and very different movements held together by the song’s central narrative, which focused on the weight of one’s memory and the past has on every relationship and aspect of our lives.

Building upon a growing reputation for crafting dark and moody post punk, centered around themes of creation, destruction, futility, the Canadian post-punk band’s third, full-length album New Material is slated for March 23, 2018 release through Jagjaguwar Records, and the album, which finds the band recording the album themselves and enlisting the assistance of Justin Meldal-Johnson on mixing duties is as the band’s frontman Matt Flegel says in press notes, “an ode to depression. To depression and self-sabotage, and looking inward at yourself with extreme hatred.” Much like their previous album, the band went into the process without much written or demoed — and it was arguably the most collaborative writing sessions that they’ve ever had. While, writing New Material may have been extremely architectural with the band building ideas up, tearing others down to the support beams without quite knowing what exactly they were about, and as they were writing they had resolved for it all to show, not tell.

But reportedly, the writing and recording sessions led to a reckoning for 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. To that end, it’s interesting that “Espionage,” the murky and angular Manchester/Joy Division-like single is the first single off New Material — and in some way, the song evokes a narrator, who has finally become aware of his disturbing penchant for self-sabotage in every aspect of his life but despite the dark theme of the song, it finds the members of the JOVM mainstays crafting some of the most infectious, danceable material they’ve written to date.

Preoccupations will be embarking on a lengthy tour to support the album that begins in Toronto and includes two NYC area dates — April 19, 2018 at Rough Trade with Freak Heat Waves as an opener and April 20, 2018 at Elsewhere’s Zone One with Odonis Odonis as an opener. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

 

TOUR DATES
4/14/18 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
4/18/18 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
4/19/18  Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade *
4/20/18 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere (Zone One) ^
4/23/18  Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts *
4/24/18  Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
4/26/18  Columbus, OH @ The A&R Music Bar *
4/27/18  Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle *
4/29/18  Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry *
5/1/18  Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret *
5/3/18  Edmonton, AB @ Starlite *
5/4/18  Calgary, AB @ Palomino *
5/5/18  Calgary, AB @ Palomino
5/9/18  Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
5/11/18 Seattle, WA @ Barboza #
5/12/18  Portland, OR @ Star Theater #
5/14/18  San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop #
5/18/18  Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo #
5/19/18  Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar #
5/22/18 Austin, TX @ Barracuda
5/23/18  Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
5/24/18  St. Louis, MO @ Firebird
6/5/18 London, UK @ London Underground
6/7 Berlin, D @ Musik & Frieden
6/10/18 Hilvarenbeek, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
6/11/18 Paris, France @ Maroquinerie
6/12/18 Ramsgate, UK @ RMH
6/13/18 Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
7/3/18 Amsterdam @ Sugarfactory
7/4/18 Hamburg @Molotow
^ w/ Odonis Odonis
* w/ Freak Heat Waves
# w/ Moaning

New Audio: Introducing the Hypnotic and Cinematic Sounds of Nova Flares

Jason Wagers is a Berea, KY-born, Louisville, KY-based multi-instrumentalist and producer whose solo bedroom recording project Nova Flares is influenced by shoegaze and psych rock acts including Black Market Karma, Mystic Braves, Holy Wave, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, My Bloody Valentine and others — although interestingly enough, Wagers’ current project can actually trace its origins back to when he turned 18 and the Berea, KY-born multi-instrumentalist relocated to Louisville, KY with his previous band, The Corridors. And while in Louisville, the members of the band developed a reputation for crafting eclectic rock before releasing their full-length debut. Unfortunately, after the release of their debut effort, the members of The Corridors received a cease and desist letter from a British record label claiming to represent a band with the same name. 

Perhaps as a result of the crushing legal issues he had faced paired with a desire to start a project that was in a completely different direction, Wagers started his solo project — with a specific atmosphere and sound that he’s dubbed “surfgaze.” As Wagers explains in press notes, “The songs I create through Nova Flares are supposed to be very cinematic and capture memories and feelings from situations I’d experienced in my childhood and adult life, but these songs are also meant to be left open ended so that the listener could have their own personal sensory experience as well.”

Wagers goes on to say that the project is a next step up musically, as he sees the project as a way to further develop his skills as a multi-instrumentalist, composer and songwriter. His Nova Flares debut Gut Splinter is slated for a March 9, 2018 release, and the album’s first single sonically meshes jangling, guitar rock and shimmering, hypnotic shoegaze, complete with a sweeping, cinematic quality. In fact, the recently released music video further emphasizes the song’s hypnotic vibes as it features Wagers playing several different instruments superimposed over footage of birds flying and clouds in different color negative treatments and so on.

 

With the release of their first two EP’s 2016’s Sorry I Messed Up and Please Call Me Back, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quartet Holy Now, comprised of Julia Olander, Ylva Holmdahl, Samuel von Bahr Jemth and Hampus Eiderström Swahn quickly developed a reputation as one of their homeland’s up-and-coming indie rock/guitar pop acts — and with tours across Sweden and in London, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based quartet received praise from the likes of DIY, The 405Festivalrykten and Nöjesguiden, and others.

Building upon their growing national and international profile, “Feel It All,” will further cement Holy Now’s reputation for crafting jangling guitar pop with soaring hooks paired with plaintive and tender vocals and while clearly drawing from 80s and 90s guitar pop, like The Sundays and others, the Swedish quartet puts a subtly modern spin on it, along the lines of the likes of La Sera and others — complete with a deep yearning to feel and know everything.

 

 

New Audio: Los Angeles’ VOWWS Releases an Anthemic Hook-Laden Single

With the release of 2015’s debut effort, The Great Sun, which was recorded with longtime friend, mentor and renowned engineer Kevin S. McMahon, the post-punk duo VOWWS, comprised of Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based duo of Rizz and Matt quickly received attention for a sound that drew upon a diverse array of influences including classic Western, electronica, surf rock, metal, film soundtracks, post-punk and industrial rock; however, the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Under the World, which continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin S. McMahon, finds the duo reportedly eschewing the familiar post-punk and industrial tropes to allow much more hook for razor sharp hooks, direct vocals and richer, nuanced textures.

And with Under the World’s latest single “Forget Your Finery,” the duo pair angular guitar and bass chords played through layers of fuzz and other distortion pedals with thumping and propulsive drumming — but throughout the song there’s a deliberate attention to melodicism and crafting an infectious, arena rock friendly hook in what may be one of the more anthemic songs I’ve come across so far this year.

New Audio: Up-and-Coming Portland, OR-based Act Blackwater Holylight Specializes in a 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock Sound

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what should feel heavy both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.” 

As you’ll hear on “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut effort, the band’s sound meshes elements of Breeders-era alt rock and garage, swirling and towering shoegaze, psych rock and moody post punk with soaring hooks — and although the song manages to be reminiscent  of classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, the song structurally walks a tightrope between moody, slow-burning dirge, anthemic power pop within a fluid song structure that eschews the familiar verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus of the past. 

Fronted by 23 year-old Jacob Duarte, the Houston, TX-based indie rock trio Narrow Head has quickly developed a reputation for a sound that draws from 120 Minutes-era alternative rock, as it simultaneously possesses elements of grunge and shoegaze — and considering that the band suggests acts like Hum, Deftones, Failure, Swirlies and My Bloody Valentine as influences, that shouldn’t be surprising.

Recorded at the end of last year, during recording sessions intended for their next full-length album, the Houston-based trio’s latest single “Bulma” will further cement the trio’s reputation for a decidedly 1990s sound, as they firmly add their names to a growing list of contemporary bands, who have brought back a familiar and beloved sound with a subtly modern twist, like Dead Stars and others.

The band is currently on a West Coast tour. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

Jan 13 – Fullerton, CA @ Programme
Jan 14 – Oakland, CA @ tba
Jan 15 – San Francisco, CA @ tba
Jan 16 – Eugene, OR @ Voodoo Donuts
Jan 17 – Portland, OR @ Blackwater
Jan 18 – Olympia, WA @ tba
Jan 19 – Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
Jan 20 – Vancouver, BC @ Subculture Club

Over the past couple of years of this site’s history, I’ve written a bit about the Brooklyn-based psych rock/indie rock trio  Sunflower Bean. Comprised of founding duo Nick Kivlen (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Faber (drums) with Julia Cumming (bass, lead vocals), the band can trace their origins back to when Kivlen and Faber were members of local indie rock act Turnip King together — and at the time, Kivlen and Faber had been spending a great deal of their time away from the band jamming together, before deciding that they should start their own project. Cumming, who was then a member of Supercute! with Rachel Trachtenburg, was recruited by Kivlen, who had known her through mutual friends.

The band quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a run of attention grabbing, critically applauded sets during 2014’s CMJ Festival, which they promptly followed with a series of shows across town; but with the release of that year’s Rock & Roll Heathen EP and 2015’s Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP, which featured singles “Tame Impala” and “2013.” the band quickly rose to national and international prominence. Adding to a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based psych rock trio toured across the US and the UK both as a headliner and as an opener for  Wolf AliceBest Coast and The Vaccines. Sunflower Bean completed a breakthrough run with the release of their  Matthew Molnar-produced debut effort Human Ceremony, which was released to critical praise back in 2016.

After spending the better part of 2016 with a roughly 200 date world tour, the members of the band initially planned to take a well-earned, extended break; however by mid-December. the trio were in Faber’s Long Island basement with song ideas that eventually became their highly-anticipated Jacob Portrait and Matt Molnar-produced  sophomore effort, Twentytwo in Blue, which is slated for a March 23, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Records, which is both 22 months after the release of their full-length debut — and coincidentally, when each member turns 22.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout 2017, you may have come across the trio’s single “I Was A Fool,” a single that you may recall found the trio closely hewing to the late 60s psych rock and 70s classic rock that has long inspired their sound and aesthetic, but while gently pushing their sound in the direction of Fleetwood Mac. and others.  As the band’s Nick Kivlen explained in press notes at the time, “‘I Was A Fool’ is one of those songs that seemingly crept up from nowhere and into our practice space. it was a special moment between the three of us, Julia and I both improvised the lyrics. It feels far longer but it’s been nearly two years since ‘we’ve put new music into the world. I think this song is a good example of how we’ve grown as a band, while still staying true to the band that first played together back in high school.”

Interestingly, “Crisis Fest,” Twentytwo in Blue‘s first official single from the album finds the band tackling much more sobering topics with song directly discussing the uncertainty and politically volatile period in which it was written. “While writing this album, we often reflected back on the people we met while on tour. We felt a strong kinship with the audiences that came to see us all over the country, and we wanted to write a song for them — something to capture the anxieties of an uncertain future. ‘Crisis Fest’ is less about politics and more about the power of us, the young people in this country.” And as a result, the song which sonically finds the band touching upon glam rock — in particular, to my ears, a bit of Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night” mixed with Ace Frehley’sBack in the New York Groove” as it’s an rousingly anthemic stomper of song, that’s indirectly a call to action that suggests that now it’s the time for young people to start getting the world right — or we won’t have a chance.

The members of the band will be embarking on a lengthy tour to support the album that includes a February 13, 2018 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour dates

1/26 – Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits
1/31 – Chicago, IL @ Metro ^
2/01 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East ^
2/03 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk ^
2/05 – San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger ^
2/06 – Dallas, TX @ Granada ^
2/07 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Inside Downstairs) ^
2/09 – New Orleans, LA @ Republic New Orleans ^
2/10 – Athens, GA  @ 40 Watt ^
2/11 – Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre ^

2/13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ^
2/14 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^

2/22 – London, UK @ The Jazz Cafe @
3/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge
3/02 – San Francisco, CA @  Rickshaw Stop

3/24 – Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms

3/26 – Norwich, UK @ Open Norwich

3/27 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare and Hounds

3/28 – Newcastle upon Tyne, UK @ Riverside

3/29 – Leeds, UK @ Wardrobe

3/30 – Manchester, UK @ Gorilla

3/31 – Liverpool, UK @ The Magnet

4/01 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo

4/03 – Bristol, UK @ Thekla

4/05 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2

4/06 – London, UK @ Koko

4/09 – Paris, FR @ Point Ephemere

4/10 – Antwerp, Belgium @ TRIX VZW

4/11 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso

4/12 – Hamburg, Germany @ Molotow

4/13 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Loppen

4/14 – Berlin, Germany @ Rosis

4/15 – Vienna, Austria @ Chelsea Club

4/17 – Lausanne, Switzerland @ Le Romandie

4/18 – Zurich, Switzerland @ Bogen F

4/19 – Cologne, Germany @ Blue Shell

5/20 – Gulf Shores, AL @ The Hangout Music Festival
^ – w/ Sleigh Bells

@ – supporting Jessie Ware

New Audio: Jay Som Releases Previously Unreleased Single from Her Critically Applauded Debut

Melina Duterte is an Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo recording project Jay Som received national and international attention last year from the likes of NPR Music, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Stereogum, Paste, Consequence of Sound, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Spin, Newsweek, Exclaim!, Under the Radar and a number of others elsewhere.

Building upon a growing profile, Duterte, recently announced the release of two previously unreleased songs that were recorded during the Everybody Works sessions as a 7 inch single titled “Pirouette”/”OK Meet Me Underwater,” that will be officially released both on vinyl and digitally on January 26, 2018 through Polyvinyl Records. Both of these tracks were made during the spring of 2016 – the first demo stages  for Everybody Works. They were fun to write and record but felt out of place on the track list during the finalization of the album. These tracks remain close to my heart and I’m really grateful they’re finally out in the world,” Duterte explains press notes about her soon-to-be released 7 inch single. And as you’ll hear on A side single “Pirouette,” Duterte specializes in a jangling, hook driven, 90s alt rock inspired sound, reminiscent of The Breeders but with an incredibly bold yet breezy self-assuredness.  

Gareth “Gaz” Coombes is an Oxford, UK-born and raised singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known as a founding member and frontman of renowned British indie rock act Supergrass, who over the course of their 17 years together released six full-length albums — 1995’s I Should Coco, 1997’s In It for the Money 1999’s self-titled, 2002’s Life on Other Planets, 2005’s Road to Rouen and 2008’s Diamond Hoo Ha, all of which landed on the UK Top 20. (Reportedly, the band had written material for a seventh album, just before their breakup, Release the Drones that remains unfinished and unreleased.)

Since Supergrass’ breakup Coombes has released two solo efforts — 2011’s Sam Williams-produced Here Comes the Bombs and his breakthrough 2015, self-produced sophomore album, Matador, which received a Mercury Prize nod thanks to the commercial success of its five singles, as well as critical praise from the likes of Q Magazine and Mojo Magazine. Interestingly, Coombes’ third, full-length album World’s Strongest Man, which is slated for a May 4, 2018 release through Hot Fruit/Caroline International Records was written and recorded at Coombes’ home studio and at Oxford’s Courtyard Studios with co-production with his longtime collaborator Ian Davenport, in a working process that Coombes has compared to being like “editing a novel.” And in som way that shouldn’t be surprising as the album was reportedly inspired by Grayson Perry’s autobiography The Descent of Man, Frank Ocean‘s Blonde, the work of Neu! and hip-hop while at points exploring the effects of unchecked and toxic masculinity among other things — but with a deeply personal bent.

The album’s latest single “Deep Pockets” finds the former Supergrass frontman taking on a decided motorik groove, with the song nodding at Screamadelica and Evil Heat-era Primal Scream, complete with a slick and infectious hook — and the song will likely cement Coombes reputation for crafting mischievously forward thinking and hook driven rock.