Category: indie rock

Comprised of Sólveig Matthildur,  Margrét Rósa and Laufey Soffía, the Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk act Kælan Mikla have had a breakthrough year so far: they played a critically applauded set at this year’s Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude — and all of this before the release of their forthcoming album Nótt eftir nott, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release through Artoffact Records.

The members of the Icelandic post-punk trio will be playing an album release show on November 8, 2018 at this year’s Iceland Airwaves but before then, the album’s first official single is the chilly yet dance floor friendly, synth-led track “Nornalagið” — and the track, which is centered by a motorik groove and punctuated by piercing wailing manages to be both eerily atmospheric and cinematic, evoking a storm rolling across enormous skies.

 

 

 

 

 

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Led by songwriter/producer and founder of Ice Queen Records and founding member Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins back
to when Lekkas lived in Philadelphia. As the story goes, after spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. Initially began as a solo recording project and creative way for Lekkas to deal with an incapacitating bout of depression and anxiety after discovering that music was his only way out the mire. So Lekkas spent a long Philadelphia winter recording a batch of introspective songs that he dubbed “sun-damaged American music’ that would eventually become the Palm Ghost debut album.
After a short tour in 2013 to support the Palm Ghost debut album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Once he settled in to his new hometown, Lekkas set up a small home studio in the guest bedroom of a rental house on Greenland Avenue in East Nashville, where he eventually wrote and recorded the sophomore Palm Ghosts album, last year’s Greenland, an album that found him employing elements of electro pop, folk and indie rock that was influenced by his new hometown’s long-held song-is-king culture. Last May, the Palm Ghost founding member began working on the third Palm Ghosts album Architecture, an album heavily influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order and The Cure among others. The album’s first single “Turn the Knife” is a hook-driven bit of 80s post-punk that will recall New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and others but centered by the two part male/female harmonies, angular guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section and a bitter sense of betrayal and distrust.
As Lekkas told me via email, “‘Turn the Knife’ is basically a song about betrayal in love — or a one sided relationship that ends badly. It was written and recorded in my studio here in Nashville. My influences are all over the map but I’m an enormous fan of 80s post punk and New Wave music, so perhaps that shines through to you in the song? Basically, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Chameleons and The Jesus and Mary Chain are big influences.”

 

 

 

New Audio: Montreal’s Anemone Returns with a Deceptively Breezy and Sunny Take on Pop

Earlier this year, I caught the Montreal-indie pop/dream pop act Anemone open for the acclaimed indie pop act HAERTS at Baby’s All Right, and the act led by Chloe Soldevila (keys, vocals) and featuring Miles Dupire-Gagnon (drums), Gabriel Lambert (guitar), Samuel Gemme (bass) and Zachary Irving (guitar) specializes in a breezy and dreamy pop sound that hints at psych pop — and at points to In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Forever and Horizon-era Painted Palms. The Canadian act released their attention-grabbing debut EP earlier this year, which they’ve supported with a series of critically applauded SXSW shows, and some relentless touring across North America. Now, as you may recall, “Daffodils,” off the band’s debut EP was a breezy bit of synth-led dream pop centered around arpeggiated, analog synths, an ethereal melody, reverb drenched drums, shimmering guitar lines and a sinuous bass line within a gently unfolding, expansive song structure — and interestingly, the song recalls Pavo Pavo’s gorgeous, retro-futurstic dream Young Narrator on the Breakers. 

Recently, the Montreal-based band announced that their full-length debut Beat My Distance will be released early next year through Luminelle Records, and the album’s first single “Sunshine (Back To The Start)” is a breezy and sunshine-filled track built around a jangling and chiming guitar lines, a propulsive, disco-influenced bass line, a steady back beat and Soldevilla’s plaintive and ethereal vocals — but the song’s brightness is a bit deceptive as it focuses on the hope of a brighter day, after dealing with something shitty. As Soldevilla explains in press notes that the song is about “Overcoming the pattern of falling i love with someone who is unworthy, but that you still believed it could work. I called it ‘Sunshine’ because this song should resonate positively — it’s about focusing on the bright side and coming out stronger person; daydreaming of better, sunnier days.”  (I should note that sonically speaking, the song features one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard in about a good month or so.) 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay San Mei Releases “Romeo and Juliet”-Inspired Visuals for “Heaven”

Throughout the past few years of this site’s eight-plus year history, I’ve written quite a bit about Gold Coast, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Hamilton and her acclaimed recording project San Mei, which began as a bedroom recording project but quickly received attention from this site and a number of major media outlets including NME, Indie Shuffle, NYLON and Triple J. Her San Mei debut EP Necessary found the Gold Coast, Australia-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist decidedly moving away from the bedroom recorded synth pop that first caught the attention of the blogosphere and towards organic instrumentation and a sound that immediately brings Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power, Feist and others to mind.

Hamilton met songwriter, producer and musical phenom Oscar Dawson, who has worked with Holy Holy, Alex Lahey, Ali Barter, British India, Robbie Miller and Joyride at BIGSOUND last year, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator found the duo refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for her — and in turn, San Mei’s — sonic progression. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.”

“Wonder” was the first single since the release of Necessary. Coincidentally “Wonder” was the first single off her forthcoming Heaven EP, which is slated for a November 2 release and interestingly, the single managed to be a subtle refinement of Hamilton’s sound and songwriting that found her creating radio friendly and arena rock friendly tracks, centered around a razor hooks, fuzzy shoegazer rock-like power chords and propulsive drumming — all while being incredibly earnest. “Heaven,” the EP title track is also the second and latest single of the EP, and its centered around layers of power chord-based guitar lines, four-on-the-floor drumming, Hamilton’s lush yet ethereal vocals, and shimmering synth lines.  And while the new track continues a run of arena rock friendly singles, it may arguably be the most shoegazer/dream pop-like track she’s written and released but underneath the song bristles with a bitter sense of frustration and dissatisfaction. In fact, as Hamilton says of the song, “This song is about when love is blind and it feels like heaven, but if you step back you can see things for what they really are. It’s about waking up to reality and letting go of something that’s going to end up causing harm, even if at first it felt like a dream.”

Directed by Somersault Visuals’ Jennifer Embleton, the recently released visuals for “Heaven” continues Hamilton’s ongoing collaboration with the director, and it’s an incredibly cinematic and swooning meet cute among strangers, that’s largely inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Wong Kai Wai’s Chungking Express. As Hamilton explains in press notes, “The idea was to focus on the sweetness of the young love between two star-crossed lovers. Where the song itself can lean towards a more cautionary and even sad tale about love gone wrong, we wanted to keep the video light and the emphasis on the innocence and dreamlike state of the two lovers – the moment where they’re wrapped up in one another and it still feels like heaven (tying in with the lyrics in the chorus “did you think it was heaven?”). The story ends with them still in this surreal moment together before reality sets in to pull them apart.”

New Video: Jon Spencer Releases Dread-Filled Visuals for Scuzzy and Groovy “I Got the Hits”

Best known as the founding member of New York-based alt rock acts, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Boss Hog, Heavy Trash and Pussy Galore, Jon Spencer will be releasing his first solo album, Spencer Sings the Hits! on November 9, 2018 through In The Red Records, and the Bill Skibbe-produced album, finds the renowned guitarist and frontman embracing a DIY approach while collaborating with Quasi‘s and Heatmiser’s Sam Coombes and M. Sord. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, I wrote about “Do The Trash Can.” Spencer Sings the Hits!’ first single, a blistering, scuzzy and abrasive ripper that drew from blues, industrial rock and metal centered snarling, garage punk attitude, caustic power chords and an oddly danceable groove.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s second and latest single is the swaggering and scuzzy industrial, garage blues “I Got the Hits,” and much like it’s predecessor, it’s an explosive ripper centered around explosive and abrasive guitar chords, a shit ton of double entendres and a propulsive junkyard groove that’s manages to be danceable and mosh pit friendly.

Directed by Alex Italics, the recently released video for “I Got the Hits” delves into the darkest and murkiest corners of America, and throughout the video we see a completely immobilized and helpless Jon Spencer, as life and sinister and shadowy figures lurk move around. “Over the past year I kept seeing wonderful and strange music videos that had one thing in common: all were directed by an Alex Italics,” Spencer explains in press notes. “I determined to track down this young auteur with the aim of getting a similar cinematic sensation for my new album Spencer Sings The Hits!. Alex turned out to be a mild-mannered young man from Tucson, Arizona living in Southern California. I gave him a free hand to pick the song and devise a treatment. The result is the scary slice-of-life that you can now see for yourself.”

“I love the creepy contrast with the song’s punk abandon,” Spencer continues. “We filmed at a rented house in Santa Ana. At the end of each day, after the nearby nightly Disneyland fireworks had faded and the cast and crew had left, I would sleep in a bunk bed in the child’s bedroom. Turns out doing an entire video laying on the floor is harder than it looks!” 

Adds the video’s director, “nothin’ says ‘rock and roll’ like suburban angst, existential dread, and shadowy figures!”

Comprised of Jane Zabeth Nicholson (vocals), Neil Yodname (guitar), Zeeshan Abbasi (guitar), Cory Osborne (bass) and John Rungger (drums), the Chicago, IL-based shoegazer act Lightfoils formed back in 2010 and since their formation, the band has developed a reputation for pushing the sonic boundaries of the genre with a unique and sophisticated take as heard on 2014’s critically applauded Hierarchy.

The band’s long-awaited, forthcoming album Chambers will be self-released by the band, both for the autonomy and the ability to be intimately involved in all aspects of the album’s production and promotion — and with the album’s first single “Summer Nights, ” the first bit of new material since the release of Hierarchy finds the Chicago-based shoegazers fully commanded the sound they’ve developed with a swaggering self-assuredness, as the band pairs layers of lushly shimmering and chiming guitars with a propulsive, hip-hop like rhythm section and soaring hooks while Zabeth Nicholson’s ethereal vocals float over the mix, expressing deep longing. And while anthemic, the gorgeous track manages to possess the wistful feel of a summer night, complete with the knowledge that a bitterly cold winter is coming.

 

 

 

Matthew Messore, is an Orlando, FL-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist — and as the story goes, after spending a period of time traveling across the country, Messore returned to his hometown to work on music, with his solo, bedroom recording project Cathedral Bells. So far, the project’s material thematically focuses on the disquiet and isolation that comes after leaving your hometown for a while and finding yourself returning to the life you thought you left. Interestingly enough Messore’s latest single is a cover of Teen Beams’ “Cemetery Surf,” that manages to retains the lo-fi, home recorded vibes and ethereal melodies of the original, while pushing the tempo up to an almost dance floor friendly level with an emphasis on jangling guitars — and while being a subtle yet unique take on the original, it reveals the song’s infectious hooks.

 

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Comprised of brothers Tim (guitar, vocals) and Cory Race (drums) with Wallace May (bass, vocals), the Brooklyn-based post-punk trio Big Bliss formed back in 2015 when the Race Brothers began collaborating together on a project with the aim of drawing from shared influences between the two — namely 70s punk and 80s post-punk. The Race Brothers recruited Brooklyn-based songwriter Wallace May to flesh out the band’s sound, and since their formation they’ve developed a reputation for crafting shimmering, jangling and energetic post-punk.

The band’s Jeff Berner-produced full-length album At Middle Distance is slated for an October 19, 2018 through Exit Stencil Recordings, and the album, which was recorded at mixed at Studio G and Thump Recordings in Brooklyn, is reportedly a major step forward for the band as the material find the band further refining and perfecting their sound with a deeply emotive quality. Interestingly, At Middle Distance‘s latest single, The Alarm and Starfish-era The Church-like “Duplicate” is centered around thumping and propulsive drumming, shimmering and jangling guitar lines, an angular bass line, a shout along worthy hook and Tim Race’s earnest vocals but while managing to evoke the sensation of being hemmed in, of being deeply frustrated and uncertain over the things they can’t have/aren’t allowed to have and can never really be — and as a result, the song has an emotional heft. As the band’s Tim Race explains, “‘Duplicate’ is the record’s thesis. It informed many of the other songs’ thematic content, as well as Ana Becker’s album art (reflection, duality.) The song centers on conflicting and frustrated identities. It’s so easy to value yourself based on self identity, like social constructs and occupation, but that’s a slippery slope. That will inevitably lead to comparing yourself to your peers to measure self-worth, that can be a painful, distorted way of dealing with life. One will only see what they can’t control or don’t have, leaving little space for basic gratitude and contentment.”

The band will be touring to support the new album and it’ll include two NYC area dates — October 20, 2018 at Alphaville and November 3, 2018 at Union Pool. Check out the rest of the tour dates.

Tour Dates
10/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville (At Middle Distance LP Release Show)
11/03 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Hall
11/27 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Rock Room
11/28 – Detroit, MI @ Kelly’s Bar
11/29 Grand – Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
11/30 – Chicago, IL @ Burlington Bar
12/01 – Bloomington, IN @ Blockhouse Bar
12/02 – Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR
12/03 – Muncie, IN @ BHN
12/04 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
12/05 – Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s
12/06 – Boston, MA @ O’Brien’s

 

 

 

 

A few years ago, I wrote a handful of posts on the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio Psychic Love, and because it’s been a while I think I should refresh your collective memories a bit: fronted by Laura Peters and featuring Max Harrison (guitar) and Liam McCormick (bass), the trio have described their sound as “dream grunge” and “as if  Nancy Sinatra had a love child with Frank Black.”

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio but interestingly, their latest single “Go Away Green” derives its name and is somewhat influenced by a very odd yet very true fact — at Disney theme parks, the things they don’t want patrons noticing is painted in a shade of green that they’ve dubbed “Go Away Green.” Naturally, Peters was fascinated by that fact, and began to observe that people frequently try to cover up unpleasant aspects of their personalities and character in as similar fashion. As the band’s Laura Peters says in press notes. “This is a song about the things and people hiding in plain sight. I often feel like I’m looking out from inside a body – a body, a face, a look, that is telling the world one thing, but inside I’m just you and you are me.” Interestingly, the song features novelist’s attention to psychological detail, as it captures a relationship in which both people aren’t being as honest as they say they’d like to — and they both know it.

Sonically, the song is a decided expansion of the sound and songwriting approach that first caught my attention — the song is a bit of a shape shifter, that begins with a cacophony of noise that recalls Pearl Jam’s Vs. before quickly morphing into a slow-burning and atmospheric section with a rousingly anthemic hook that recalls Concrete Blonde and JOVM mainstays Oddnesse, but while hinting at Phil Spector’s famous Wall of Sound of production and an increasingly ambitious songwriting approach.