Category: indie rock

 

Currently comprised of primary songwriting and founding duo Laura Fisher (vocals) and Jeremy Marx (guitar), along with Jonathan Arcenueax (drums), who has played with Toonces, Julie Odell and Debuache; and Devin Kerrigan (bass), who has played with Toonces, Bionica, Gravity A, the New Orleans-based indie rock act Tranche have developed a reputation locally and regionally for a sound that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze and grunge in a way that’s dark and moody yet familiar. In fact, their anthemic, mid-tempo “Wishing on the Water” brings to mind Concrete Blonde, JOVM mainstay Chelsea Wolfe, PJ Harvey and others, as the track is centered around shimmering, delay and distortion pedal fed guitar, four on the floor drumming, a soaring hook paired with Fisher’s powerhouse vocals, expressing a profound yearning.

Interestingly, as the band’s Laura Fisher told me through email, “‘Wishing on the Water’ is born of deep and relentless reflections on the current state of our world, in all of it’s dark dystopian inclinations and tragic beauty; in particular I explore the separation and perception of reality vs. mind. Sometimes I feel like our most modern technologies purposefully breed paranoia and dissociation. Or maybe those are just inherent parts of human nature?

When I asked Jeremy for his input, he noted that the song isn’t so much a story as it is a ‘literary wishing well.’ Which I love. It’s also super accurate considering I was greatly inspired lyrically by the images conjured in Marlon MacAllister’s novel Meld Resistance (as well as it’s illustrations by Yona Yurwit). Musically, I think the riff just came to Jeremy and we played with it, developing the hook together. I wrote the verses. It felt like channeling all of our favourite grunge anthems into something new and for 2018.”

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Comprised of founding duo Jocke Åhlund and Frans Johansson along with Frans Johansson and Martin Ehrencrona, the Stockholm Sweden-based indie rock act Les Big Byrd features a collection of their hometown’s most accomplished indie musicians.  Åhlund co-founded cult hardcore outfit/genre-benders Teddybears with his brother Klas in 1991, and went on to play guitar in Caesars and form another duo, Smile, with Peter, Björn and John’s Björn Yttling. He also managed to find the time to write for and produce Giorgio Moroder and renowned Swedish pop artist Robyn. Johansson, meanwhile, had played bass in Swedish Grammy Award-winners Fireside since the early nineties and worked as a touring bassist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives. As the story goes, by 2011 Åhlund and Johansson had become increasingly disillusioned with their primary gigs and they began to collaborate with each other, frequently bouncing musical ideas off one another; the band’s founding duo quickly recruited two fellow grizzled scene vets, keyboardist Martin ‘Konie’ Ehrencrona and Caesars drummer Nino Keller to finalize the band’s lineup.

The band’s debut release, 2014’s Back to Bagarmossen EP was an atmospheric, guitar driven effort that found the quartet receiving attention from Swedish national TV. As the Stockholm-based indie quartet’s profile was growing nationally, they ran into The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe at a local record store, and after hitting it off with him, the band headed to Newcombe’s Berlin-based studio to jam with him — and the end result was a handful of tracks which eventually appeared on their critically applauded  Åhlund-produced full-length debut, They Worshipped Cats, an album that was a decided left turn into trippy space rock.

In the winter of 2015, 18 months after They Worshipped Cats‘ release, Åhlund was looking forward to working on new material; however, unlike their debut, he was determined to bring in an outside producer to allow him to focus just on the songwriting and playing. With much of their material drawing heavily from psych rock and drone, while retaining a pop sensibility, the band recruited Spacemen 3‘s Pete Kember to produce the album as the band loved his work on MGMT‘s 2010 sophomore album Congratulations.  Unfortunately and perhaps unsurprisingly, the initial sessions with Kember quickly went awry; Kember clashed with Newcombe, who also headed to Sweden to work on some ideas for the record with the band — and Åhlund eventually found himself taking up the production role, he didn’t want and wasn’t seeking.

Burned out by the experience, the band shelved the second album for a while.  “I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed to get some distance from it,” Åhlund says in press notes. “It was only after a while that I was able to go back and realise that there was a really good album in there.” The members of Les Big Byrd spent the bulk of last year remaking and re-imaging the material in their own image — with Kember and Newcombe’s contributions being limited. Recorded between two Stockholm studios — Åhlund’s own and Ehrencrona’s Studio Cobra — the band’s long-awaited, forthcoming sophomore album Iran Iraq IKEA derives its title from a slogan that Åhlund’s saw printed on a tie while in Berlin years earlier and wanted to use for years; in fact, Åhlund felt that it suited the album, “because it gave it all some kind of subtly poetic intrigue.” However, the album’s politics — if you really want to call it that — are rooted within the personal, As Åhlund says in press notes,  “It’s about classic topics like love and failure. And about being older and feeling like you’ve pissed your life away, It’s about regrets and wishing you’d done things another way,”

The band’s Åhlund takes up production duties again, but with the admission that maybe it was something he never really wanted to give up — and sonically speaking, the band reportedly have reinvented themselves and their sound but while retaining elements of the sound and approach that first won them national and international attention.  “I still love my krautrock, and space rock, and experimental, improvisational stuff” says Åhlund. “But I also have a strong love for psychedelic sixties pop music, and I love reverb-drenched guitar with a lot of tremolo on it. All of those things make it on to Iran Iraq IKEA, but the lines are blurred – there’s a lot of electronics, and you can’t always tell where each individual sound is coming from. Hopefully it’s suggestive, a little bit uncertain and unpredictable, at least that’s what I wanted.”

“Geräusche,” Iran Iraq IKEA‘s third and latest single, is the album’s opening track and interestingly enough, the song’s title is the German word for “noise” — although ironically, the expansive and atmospheric, krautrock-like track is centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated keys, angular guitar lines, mathematically precise beats and dreamy sense of harmony that in some way brings Evil Heat-era Primal Scream and Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out” but with a lysergic vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: South Korea’s Say Sue Me Releases a Hilarious and Goofy Take on B Movies for “B Lover”

Currently comprised of founding members and childhood friends Jae Young (bass) and Kim Byungkyu (guitar) with Sumi Choi (vocals) and Kim Changwon (drums), the Busan, South Korea-based indie rock quartet Say Sue Me can trace its origins to when its founding members Young and Byungkyu, who had played together in a number of bands together throughout high school were drinking tea and beer in a Nampo-dong tea shop when they met Choi. Young and Byungkyu liked Choi’s speaking voice and immediately offered her a spot as the vocalist in a band that would eventually become Say Sue Me. Coincidentally, as it turned out, Choi turned out to be a natural songwriter. The bandmates then recruited Kang Semin to play drums — and with him, they recorded their full-length debut We’ve Sobered Up, which established the South Korean band’s reputation for crafting a sound that draws from 60s surf rock and 90s alt rock. And with Semin, they recorded 5 songs of their sophomore album Where We Were Together before having a near fatal accident that has left him in a near comatose state. 

Deciding to continue onward while hoping for their dear friend and bandmate’s recovery, the band recruited Changwon and finished their sophomore album, which interestingly enough marks their first album recorded in a professional studio. Unsurprisingly, the album’s material reflects both professional studio polish and a young band that has grown more confident in their songwriting and playing — all while managing to be a tribute to their fallen bandmate that focuses on the emotional fallout over the loss of their friend. As the band says in press notes, “We made 5 of the songs on Where We Were Together with Semin before his accident, and of the remaining songs on the album 4 of them (“Let It Begin,” “Funny and Cute,” “B Lover,” and “About The Courage To Become Someone’s Past”) are about Semin or made with him in mind.

Although we can’t be together right now, we decided to give the album this title because it reminded us of everything we’ve shared with Semin. And what’s more, sometimes we’ve thought if we make this album a wish to return to the place we were together, some powerful spell might rise up. Who knows if it’s even possible but sometimes we think maybe it could work.” 

The South Korean indie rock quartet’s latest 7 inch single features two singles from “Just Joking Around,” a song that was cut from their latest album  but features a line from which the album’s title is derived and “B Lover,” a brash and scuzzy power chord-based garage rock/punk rocker burner that the band explains was originally written for Semin’s other band Barbie Dolls, who play insanely fast garage rock/punk. The song’s lyrics were written as a tribute to their dear friend’s mischievous ways and desire to “just let go of worries about the future, buy as much good beer as we wanted.” They go on to say that Semin’s jokes and tastes were like those in a B movie with a Type-B personality, “so we stuck the name B Lover on the song.”  While “B Lover” is an incredibly self-assured, almost swaggering sort of track, it possesses the wistful air of missing a dear friend, who’s one of life’s true characters. 

The recently released video for “B Lover” is a mischievous take on classic B movies — featuring a local garage rock band, playing on their local beach, as well as Kung Fu movies and action movies. It’s ridiculously tongue-in-cheek in every possible way and pretty damn funny. 

New Audio: Introducing the Ominous Post Punk of Belgium’s Whispering Sons

Although formed back in 2013, the Brussels, Belgium-based post punk act Whispering Sons, comprised of Fenne Kuppens (vocals), Kobe Linjen (guitar), Sander Hermans (synths), Tuur Vanderborne (bass) and Sander Pelsmaekers (drums) received attention nationally with the release of 2015’s debut EP Endless Party through Wool-E-Tapes with a vinyl reissue in March 2016 through Minimal Maximal. Adding to a growing profile, the band won 2016’s Humo’s Rock Rally, one of Belgium’s most prestigious music competitions, which they followed up with two 7 inch releases, 2016’s “Performance”/”Strange Identities” and last year’s “White Noise.” 

Building upon a growing profile in their homeland, the Belgian post punk outfit’s full-length debut Image is slated for an October 19, 2018 release through Cleopatra Records here in the States and Smile Records throughout the rest of the world — and the Micha Volders and Bert Vliegen-produced album which was recorded over a ten day period at Waimes, Belgium’s GAM Studios will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting tense and ominous post-punk, while attempting to accurately capture both their live sound and the sense of anxiety and alienation that the bandmembers felt upon their relocation to Brussels. 

Speaking of ominous, Image’s second and latest single “Alone” is centered around angular and shimmering guitar lines, an angular and propulsive bass line, thundering and mathematically precise drumming, and a slick, yet infectious hook — and while sonically the song may recall Joy Division, Actors, Deathlist, True Moon, Second Still and others, the song’s refrain is derived from part of a cryptic bit of dialog spoken during Twin Peaks’ first season. 

Produced by The Breakfast Club and directed by Koen Blauwblomme and Pieter De Ridder, the recently released video for “Alone” takes it cues from horror films and Twin Peaks as it follows our protagonist as he goes completely mad  — at one point, the protagonist see his doppleganger, completely immolated in flame, before quickly realizing that his doppleganger is his reflection.  

With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) have received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve last come across them, but as it turns out the band has been busy working on their sophomore album, which is slated for release sometime next year; but in the meantime, the DC-based band’s latest single “Sunburn” is a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year.

 

With the release of her first two EPs Run and Waters, the London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Eliza Shaddad quickly rose to international prominence, receiving praise from a number of major media outlets including The FaderNylonStereogumThe Line of Best FitThe IndependentClashThe 405, as well as airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1XtraBeats 1 Radio and countless others for a sound that some have compared to the likes of PJ Harvey, Cat Power and others.

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed British singer/songwriter, and as you may recall, Shaddad’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Future is slated for an October 26, 2018 release through Beatnik Creative. Earlier this year, I wrote about Future‘s second single “My Body,” a moody track featuring shoegazer-like atmospherics and a dark, seductive, trip hop-inspired groove that evoked a plaintive and uncertain need. “This Is My Cue” the album’s third single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor — moody atmospherics but centered around a candid and ironically rousing breakup song.

Future‘s fourth and latest single “Just Goes to Show” continues a run of atmospheric tracks with a deceptively anthemic nature but much like its immediate predecessor, the track is deeply confessional and unabashedly honest description of the desperate, uneasy feelings of a breakup –but from the perspective of the person being left behind to deal with the aftermath. And while some have compared the song to The Cranberries, Wolf Alice and Marika Hackman, the song isn’t completely dire as it (subtly) suggests that life and one’s heart does go on after a while.

 

 

New Audio: Calvin Johnson Returns with a Meditative Bit of Bubblegum Pop

 Over the past couple of months, I’ve written quite a bit about Calvin Johnson, an  Olympia, WA-born and-based guitarist, singer/songwriter, producer and DJ best known as a founding member of Cool Rays, Beat Happening, The Go Team and The Halo Benders, all of which prominently feature his sonorous baritone. He’s also the founder and owner of renowned indie label K Records — and he was one of the major organizers of the International Pop Underground Convention.

Now, as you may recall, Johnson’s forthcoming A Wonderful Beast is slated for an October 12, 2018 release through his own K Records, and the album, which was recorded at  Audio Eagle Studios in Nashville, TN finds Johnson collaborating with the The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who cowrote and produced the album and Michelle Branch, who contributes backing vocals on three songs.  Johnson can trace the origins of his collaboration with Carney back to 2005, when the Olympia, WA-based singer/songwriter guitarist, producer and DJ was on a Stateside tour to support his sophomore solo album Before the Dream Faded — and Carney and Johnson met during that tour. As the story goes, the two kept in touch over the years, with Carney suggesting that they should collaborate; but based on their schedules they were only able to work with each other recently. Branch, a solo artist of note is best known for being a member of The Wreckers, and as it turns out that she lives next door to Audio Eagle Studios. Intrigued by the sounds she heard from the shack that houses the studio, she walked over to see for herself what was going on, and she wound up on the album.

“Kiss Me Sweetly,” A Wonderful Beast’s first single was centered around a 60s bubblegum pop-like arrangement featuring a propulsive rhythm section consisting of a thumping, almost boom-bap-like backbeat, a funky bass line and blasts of swirling, kaleidoscopic guitar playing — but by far, the star of the song is the harmonizing between Johnson’s rich, sonorous baritone and Branch’s ethereal soprano, which further emphasizes the song’s swooning nature.  The album’s second single was the Tom Vek meets bubblegum pop-like “Like You Do,” a track that features jagged blasts of guitar, soaring synths and a dance floor friendly hook — but unlike its predecessor, the album’s latest single possesses a mischievous irony at its core, as it features a self-obsessed, self-absorbed narrator, who only sees his own greatness. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “(I’ve Still Got) Sand In My Shoes”  continues in a similar vein as its predecessors, as its a bubblegum pop-inspired yet meditative arrangement, featuring an angular and propulsive rhythm section and blasts of swirling guitar and synth lines, centered by Johnson’s sonorous baritone and Branch’s ethereal vocals harmonizing to give the song a breezily coquettish yet wistful air. It’s the sound of another summer ending, of cooler weather coming and the impending end of yet another year. 

New Video: Introducing the Psych Pop-Inspired Sounds of Sweden’s Mysterious Kallblod

Kallblod is a rather mysterious Swedish electro rock duo that have begun to receive attention with the release of their debut single “Bone & Cream,” which finds the act effortlessly meshing 60s psych pop and 80s New Wave in a way that’s mischievously anachronistic and lushly textured as the duo pair jangling guitars, shimmering synths and an infectious hook.

The recently released music video follows our mysterious — and masked duo — through their own hilariously adorable relationship, including kids and marriage, but before that through a series of weird adventures.

Comprised of Reid MacMaster (vocals, guitar), Sean Hackl (guitar, vocals), Duncan Briggs (bass, vocals) and Owen Wolff (drums, vocals), the Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based indie rock/garage rock act Fade Awaays have emerged as one of their hometown’s up-and-coming acts, thanks in part to a reputation for rowdy live sets centered around material with enormous, arena rock friendly choruses and hooks and fuzzy, 90s grunge rock-like power chords. In fact, the band has played some of Toronto’s most famed and beloved venues including Horseshoe Tavern, Mod Club Theatre and The Danforth Music Hall, have opened for the likes of Wolf Alice, Public Access TV, Hot Flash Heat Wave and The Sherlocks. And building upon a growing profile, the band has played sets at some of Canada’s largest music festivals including CMW, NXNE, Trapdoor Fest and Indie Week.

The Canadian band’s debut single “Get Along” is a gritty and anthemic garage rock barn-burner, complete with distortion heavy power chords, thundering drumming, howled vocals and a mosh-pit friendly, shout worthy hook. And while the song sounds as though it were indebted to The Hives and others, the song as the band says “is about trying to make the best of a situation and trying to get along with the ones you love in hard times.” Certainly, in light of our current sociopolitical moment, the urgent song is centered around a much-needed message for anyone trying to survive our mad, mad, mad, mad world.

As the band adds, the song was a last minute addition to their growing repertoire. “We wrote the arrangement for the song and sat on the lyrics for the rest of our days in the studio. I can’t even remember what we were trying to write the lyrics about because it took us way too long. Nothing felt right – it felt too rushed to be interesting but eventually we ended up writing lyrics about our situation, trying to get work done and how to work together in the studio. ‘I hope we get along / staying lazy ain’t no job couch driven trying to get along.’ It felt more accurate, natural, and engaging.”

 

 

 

Arnaud Sigonney is a Bordeaux, France-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter (piano, keys, guitar, vocals), who first came to international attention when Hidden Shoal Recordings released Beautiful Lunar Landscape’s critically acclaimed 2007 debut EP Alone in This Dark Romantic Night. Sigonney took a break from music and returned in 2015 fronting the instrumental rock act Les Limbes; but interestingly enough, the material that comprises The Infinite Pleasure of Being, the debut album from his latest project Lunar Landscape were written throughout most of his musical life — and was recorded by Mario Gomes at Studio Carat with a backing band featuring Les Limbes’  Yoann Roy (bass), Franck Lantignac (drums), Line Senium (piano) and Marine Hebard (vocals).

Released earlier this month, the album finds Sigonney and company effortlessly bridging neo-classical compositions with sprawling shoegaze while delving deeply into intimate emotional terrain — and interestingly enough, “Les nuits célestes,” The Infinite Pleasure of Being‘s gorgeous and meditative latest single is mesh of muscular and propulsive shoegaze with an ethereal touch, centered around hushed vocals and a towering yet hypnotic arrangement that recalls Mogwai and The Octopus Project, with a cinematic and elegant air.