Category: indie rock

Newcastle, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sam Fender has received attention both nationally and internationally over the past couple of years for crafting rousingly anthemic, arena rock-like material that broadly focuses on hard-hitting social issues and draws from his own experiences growing up in Northeastern England.

Last year was a big year for the Newcastle-based Fender, as she was featured on BBC Sound of 2018‘s shortlist, which he promptly followed up with a sold-out headlining UK tour. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Fender ended 2018 with the release of the Dead Boys EP, an effort that featured the attention-grabbing “That Sound,” a power chord-based arena rock friendly track that featured enormous raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worth hooks, soulful vocals and a bluesy vibe that brought  The Black KeysSlavesRoyal Blood and others to mind — and “Play God,” a politically-charged song that openly talked about how special interests and the 1% really control the world as we know it, paired with an self-assured, ambitious bit of songwriting.

However, 2019 may be the Newcastle-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s breakthrough year: Fender will make his US network TV debut with an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!his SXSW debut and North American headline shows in Toronto, Los Angeles — and a sold out Rough Trade show on March 20, 2019.  (You can check out tour dates below.)

Interestingly, the rousing, Springsteen meets Modern English‘s “Melt With You“-like “Hypersonic Missiles” is the JOVM mainstay’s first bit of original music this year, and while centered around arena rock and classic rock-inspired hooks, reverb-drenched power chords, thunderous drumming and Fender’s urgent and impassioned vocals, the song is an unconventional love song about two star-crossed lovers making the best of whatever time they have left while the world burns down — and an incisive commentary on our apathy and confusion in the face of our self-destruction that cries to the listener “hey man, wake the fuck up and do something!”

“This song started out when I saw the term ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ in a newspaper. It’s a newly developed Russian missile that travels at something like nine times the speed of sound, which is essentially unstoppable,” Fender explains in press notes about the song’s inspiration. “America currently has no defence against such a weapon, they would be helpless in the wake of an attack, as you have roughly six minutes from the time it is launched to the time it strikes.

“In many ways, Hypersonic Missiles is an unorthodox love song. It’s main focus is on the world around the narrator, who is a complete tin foil hatter. They are convinced the world is on its last legs; they know that it is rife with injustice but feel completely helpless and lacking the necessary intelligence to change it while remaining hopelessly addicted to the fruits of consumerism.

“Amongst all the chaos is love and celebration, there is this glimmer of hope that runs through the song, a little notion that no matter what happens, these two people are gonna have a fucking good time regardless of the tyrants that run their world, and regardless of the imminent doom from these ‘Hypersonic Missiles.’”

Tour Dates:
March 11 – The Moroccan Lounge, Los Angeles
March 12 – 16– SXSW, Austin Texas
3/13- KGSR Radio Performance
3/13- Vevo Showcase
3/13- British Embassy Showcase
3/14- KROX Radio Performance
3/14- KRBZ Radio Performance
3/14- Bud Light Dive Bar Performance
3/14- Fender Showcase
3/15- KCMP Showcase
3/15- Secret Sounds Showcase
March 18 – Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
March 20 – Rough Trade, New York SOLD OUT
April 17 – Badaboum, Paris
April 18 – Doornroosje, Nijmegen
April 20 – Tivoliredenburg, Utrecht
April 22 – Luxor, Cologne
April 24 – Columbia Theater, Berlin
April 25 – Strom, Munchen
April 26 – Papiersaal, Zurich
April 28 – Orangerie, Brussels
April 29 – Melkweg, Amsterdam
May 2 – Ritz, Manchester SOLD OUT
May 3 – QMU, Glasgow SOLD OUT
May 4 – Live at Leeds *NEW DATE*
May 6 – Shepherds Bush Empire, London SOLD OUT
May 7 – Shepherds Bush Empire, London SOLD OUT
May 10 – O2 Academy, Birmingham SOLD OUT
May 12 – Lemon Grove, Exeter SOLD OUT
May 13 – SWX, Bristol SOLD OUT
May 26 – Neighbourhood Weekender, Warrington *NEW DATE*
July 11 – Tynemouth Castle, North Shields SOLD OUT
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New Video: Nashville’s Rock Eupora Releases a Lyrical and Wistful Visual Focusing on Enjoying the Moment

Clayton Waller is a Mississippi-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who through the release of three full-length albums with his solo recording project Rock Europa has developed a reputation locally for crafting infectious and anthemic indie rock centered around punchy guitars, catchy melodies, heartfelt sincerity and a defiantly DIY ethos.  Interestingly, Waller’s fourth, full-length self-titled album thematically is centered around Waller contending with the challenges of a 20 something searching for his own place in the world — and unlike his previously released albums, it was recorded in a professional studio, which has led to what reportedly may be his most polished, ambitious and adventurous albums he has worked on to date.

“Inbetween,” the latest single off Waller’s fourth Rock Europa album is centered around jangling power chords, a sinuous bass line, Waller’s plaintive vocals and a soaring hook. And while nodding at Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac, the song and its restless narrator expresses several different things — a longing to belong to something; the feeling of always rushing around and never having enough time to actually sit down and think about anything; and the feeling of being hopelessly disconnected from everything and everyone, when you’re desperate for any connection; but you don’t know how to do so. 

“Neither here nor there: that’s a tough place to be. Sometimes I only feel halfway present. It’s hard for me to live in the now — I’m always looking for the next best thing, always en route,” Waller says of his latest single in press notes. “I get so caught up trying to plan and control my future that I miss a lot of realtime fulfillment.

“It’s safe to say that most of us stay too busy – which I think is partly a reaction to what we value as a culture. We associate worth and meaning with accomplishments. I think it’s good to be driven, but I think it’s more important to be present. I’ve been trying to love myself (and others) right where I am and without qualifications or conditions. I believe that humans are inherently valuable! And if that’s the case, maybe the in-between is what it’s all about”

Shot and edited by Noah Tidmoore, the recently released video was shot on what appears to be Super 8 film and follows a group of friends, who are heading off to the lake for a boating trip — but one of them is a ghost, who lingers a bit uncomfortably on the margins, while his friends  are having a wonderful time, enjoying themselves, their youth and the moment. And once he dives in the lake and loses his ghostly sheet, Waller finds himself in the very moment with his friends. 

New Video: Deal Casino Releases a DIY Visual for “Baby Teeth” Shot out of Bitter Necessity

Over the past year or so, I’ve written a bit about the Asbury Park, NJ-based indie rock band Deal Casino, and as you may recall, the act which is comprised of Joe Parella, Jon Rodney, Joe Cowell and Chris Donofrio formed back in 2013 and released a series of EPs before releasing their full-length debut in 2017 to praise from the likes of Stereogum, New Noise and others. Building upon a growing profile, the band released their sophomore album LLC last year, and from album single “Happy People,” the album revealed a band that expanded a bit upon the sound that won them attention with the single being centered around jangling guitar chords, a chugging and propulsive rhythm section and wobbling and droning synths. And while infused with a Wes Anderson soundtrack-like quirkiness, the song is bitterly ironic, as its narrator openly questions how people can be happy with themselves and the world around them when so much is dreadfully wrong. 

LLC’s second single is the breezy yet bittersweet “Baby Teeth.” Centered around shimmering guitar chords, a propulsive backbeat, a throbbing bass line and plaintive vocals, the song as the band explained in press notes is about growing up and coming to terms with your own life. They add that the song “. . . touches upon wanting to takes control and then realizing that in order to progress, grow, and be happy in life you have to be able to rely on other people. ” Interestingly, the song sonically finds the band carefully walking a tightrope between a clean studio sheen and an old-timey lo-fi, as the band recorded the song with some unusual accents like mic’ed up trash bags, bells and vintage modular synths paired with a traditional rock instrumentation — and the end result is a song that manages to be imbued with both a sense of gratefulness over having people that give a damn about you and your well-being.

Directed by Anthony Yebra, the recently released video for “Baby Teeth,” is a decided homemade, DIY affair that finds the band driving around in Tony’s car, before using two leaf blowers in front of a green screen meant for some further special effects in post production; however, as the band notes, Capitol Records cut all funding for the video halfway through the shoot, making post-production impossible. And interestingly enough, the video manages to emphasize the fact that often growing up is about dealing with shitty things in the best way you can. 

Over the past few years I’ve written a bit about acclaimed Stockholm, Sweden-based indie rock act  Honeymilk, and as you may recall the act which was formed as a quartet featuring founding members Marcus Admund (vocals) and Albin Wesley (bass), along with Nikki Nyberg (guitar) and Erik Fritz (drums), could trace their origins to the formation and breakup of an earlier band Urmas Planet, which also featured several members of the band’s initial lineup.

With the release of the Linus Larsson-produced single  “It Might Be,” the band quickly received both praise across the blogosphere and radio airplay on several radio stations including Amazing Radio and Oxford College Radio. However, after “It Might Be,” the members of Honeymilk decided to go the DIY route, recording their critically applauded full-length debut effort Lean on the Sun. After the release of their Brit Pop meets classic psych rock-like “A Scene in Between,” and subsequent releases, the band went through a massive lineup change that resulted in the band becoming a duo featuring co-founder Admund and Nyberg. As a result of the lineup change, the band experienced a radical and perhaps necessary change in sonic direction, as you’d hear on the breezy,  Vampire Weekend-like synth-based single “Time Will Kill You,” which received attention across the blogosphere and amassed over 140,000 streams on Spotify.

Admund and Nyberg released I Want You To Be Very Happy, the highly-anticipated follow up to Lean on the Sun. The album which featured album singles “The Nothing New,” “Time Will Kill You,” and “Trip” managed to receive praise from a number of major media outlets including Clash Magazine, BBC Fresh On The Net and Jajaja Music as well as airplay on Sweden’s P3, Amazing Radio, Germany’s Flux FM, Norway’s NRK P13 and Finland’s YLE Soumi.

Interestingly, the band’s latest single “It’s All In My Hands” was written and recorded during the I Want You To Be Very Happy sessions but wasn’t finished and was subsequently cut from the album. Sonically speaking, the song will further cement the Swedish act’s reputation for crafting material that effortlessly meshes psych rock and Brit pop with rousingly anthemic hooks; but with subtle elements of 70s disco. As the band mentions in press notes, the song is actually one of their first politically charged songs. “We wanted to take ourselves seriously and write about the tiresome right-wing, life-coach cliché that everything is possible just as long as you give everything,” the  members of Honeymilk say in press notes. “Basically leaving them with no other responsibility for people’s lives except cashing their cheques. To take down the cynism a bit we added some disco-feel to it. It’s recorded a couple of years ago in our former studio at Odenplan,  Stockholm, from which we got kicked out threatened to be sued for 100 000 kronor. We never got to release ‘It’s All In My Hands.’ We forgot about [it]. And now – we happened to fall in love with it again.”

 

 

 

 

New Video: Los Angeles’ Numb.er Releases a Blistering Punk Rock-Inspired Single

Last year, I wrote a bit about  Numb.er.  Led by its Los Angeles, CA-based creative mastermind Jeff Fribourg, who’s perhaps best known as a founding member of psych rock/kraut rock band Froth, and as you may recall, Fribourg’s latest project can trace its origins to a deep love of synthesizers that began when he started experimenting with them while with Froth; however, with his latest project, Fribourg and company mesh elements of punk rock, post-punk, noise rock and shoegaze. 

Goodbye, Numb.er’s full-length debut was released last year through felte records, and album singles “Numerical Depression” and “A Memory Stained” established the project’s genre-bending sound and approach — with “Numerical Depression” featuring elements of 77 era punk, early 80s post-punk and Nirvana, while  the murky and moody “A Memory Stained” meshed 60s psych pop and synth-led New Wave in a way that brought TOY to mind. “Again,” Goodbye’s latest single was centered around a decidedly minimalist approach featuring angular distortion pedal-fueled power chords, a motorik-like groove, shouted lyrics, blasts of analog synth, and a rousingly anthemic, mosh pit friendly hook. Sonically speaking, the song is a seamless synthesis of 77 era punk and early 80s post-punk that deceptively sounds as though it could have been released around 1981 or so.

New Audio: Acclaimed Singer Songwriter and Producer Yohuna Releases a Hazy and Gorgeous Meditation on Confusing Boundaries and Relationships

Johanne (Yo-HUN-ah) Swanson is a Eau Claire, WI-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has been writing and releasing music since 2011 with her solo recording project Yohuna, including her full-length debut, 2016’s Patientness, an ode to patience, endurance, and duality.  Swanson’s long-awaited and forthcoming sophomore full-length, Mirroring is slated for a June 7, 2019 release through Orchid Tapes and Fear of Missing Out Records, and reportedly, the album thematically is a reflection on how relationships can distort and refract our sense of self, often creating confused boundaries that allow someone else’s life to become your own — and the difficulties of untangling yourself from all of that. Interestingly, the album’s material was primarily written on guitar and is centered around sweeping and mostly organic arrangements featuring cello, harp, trombone, drums, atmospheric synths and her ethereal vocals. 

The album’s latest single, album title track “Mirroring” is a slow-burning, atmospheric and almost shoegazer-like track built around shimmering guitars, a simple but propulsive backbeat, a languorous hook and Swanson’s ethereal vocals. And while sonically bearing a resemblance to SOFTSPOT’s gorgeous Clearing, the song’s narrator evokes a desperate cycle of being (and feeling) completely lost in a relationship — to the point that she’s forced to wonder if she can remember where she began and where the other ended. 

New Audio: Introducing the 90s Grunge Rock-Inspired Sound of Los Angeles’ Starcrawler

With the release of last year’s critically applauded, self-titled debut, the Los Angeles-based indie rock act Starcrawler, comprised of Arrow de Wilde (vocals), Henri Cash (guitar), Austin Smith (drums) and Tim Franco (bass) quickly emerged into the national and international scene for a sound that is indebted to 90s alt rock — and for a feral live show. Since the release of their full-length debut, the Los Angeles-based quartet have been busy with a busy touring schedule that has seen them play at some of the world’s major festivals including Primavera Sound, Rock Am Ring, Download Festival, Voodoo Festival, FujiRock Festival, Reading Festival, Leeds Festival, SXSW and others; in fact, the band won last year’s SXSW Grulke Prize for best US act, after consistently kicking ass over the course of 9 shows in a grueling 4 or 5 day period.

Adding to a rising profile, the band opened for the likes of Foo Fighters, MC50 and Morrissey — and they were included as part of last year’s incredibly diverse crop of VEVO DSCVR artists; however, they were the only ones to have Garbage’s Shirley Manson praise the band and their frontperson in a video testimonial. 2019 may arguably be an even bigger year for the up-and-coming band: their first single of this year “Hollywood Ending” received praise from NPR and Rolling Stone, and as a result, the track spent several weeks at #1 on speciality radio charts — and they’ll spend a good portion of this year opening for the likes of Beck, Cage The Elephant, Spoon and The Distillers to support their forthcoming, highly-anticipated sophomore album.

“She Gets Around,” the second single of the year from the buzzworthy, Los Angeles-based quartet will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting material that’s clearly indebted to 90s alt rock as the track is centered around scuzzy, distortion pedal-fed power chords, thunderous drumming, heavily down-tuned yet propulsive bass lines, snarled vocals and a rousingly anthemic, mosh pit friendly hook delivered with a ass-kicking, name-taking self-assuredness and an unhinged fury.

Matt Longo is a Queens, NYC-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has recently received attention across the blogosphere for his solo recording project Thin Lear. With Thin Lear, the Queens-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist “aims to craft lovingly homemade pop songs that sparkle and thump and unfurl deliciously” and is largely inspired by the likes of Todd Rundgren, Shuggie Otis and Kate Bush with Longo’s material pairing meticulous production with spontaneous, live performance.
Longo is set to release his forthcoming Thin Lear album Wooden Cave later this year, and the album’s first single “The Guesthouse,” is centered around a propulsive and angular groove, soaring organs, Longo’s plaintive vocals, an infectious hook and blasts of horn within an erratic and downright spastic arrangement   — and while sounding as though it could have been released in 1974 or so, the song evokes a post-modern frustration with oneself. As Longo explained to me in press notes “. . . I think I was writing about my inability to know how to exist in my free time. I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m on my own anymore, without a task, and it’s a terrifying concept, because I used to love just daydreaming or staring off into space. This song imagines me trapped in a “guesthouse,” attempting to take some time for myself, and failing miserably to the point where I’m crawling out of my skin, carving my name into the walls. I wanted the instrumentation to be surprising and erratic at times, but also relentless, so I tethered everything to that bassline, and added unhinged sax solos and sped up guitar on the breaks. I wanted it to feel anxious and wild, and also claustrophobic, as one might feel when they don’t know what to do with themselves.”

 

 

 

Over the course of three full-length albums and a number of EPs, the Detroit, MI-based trio Ritual Howls, comprised of Paul Bancell (vocals, guitar), Chris Samuels (synths, samples, drum machine) and Ben Saginaw (bass) have developed a reputation for crafting a cinematic twangy and dance floor friendly industrial post-punk — although last year’s The Body EP found the trio employing the use of more expansive arrangements paired with a sculpted sound and production.

Interestingly, the trio’s forth, full-length album Rendered Armor is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through felte records continues in a similar vein as The Body; in fact, the upcoming album’s latest single “Alone Together” is centered around twangy guitar, ominous atmospherics, shimmering synths and a dance floor friendly thump — and while sonically bearing a bit of a resemblance to acclaimed post-punk duo VOWWS, the song is the tale of a classic love song, complete with an aching longing that’s set in a doomed, near apocalyptic world, much like our own. As a result, the song balances an uneasy intimacy with a wide screen cinematic quality.

 

New Video: Introducing the Mischievous and Breakneck Power Pop of Coughy

Comprised of Ava Luna’s Julian Fader and Speedy Ortiz’s Andy Molholt, Coughy initially began as a late night recording experiment that the duo started while teaching at a performing arts summer camp. Eventually taking a life of its own in 2016, the project became a recurring obsession with Fader and Molhott challenging one another to write what they’ve referred to as “tiny songs” which pack as many logical twists and turns within the confines of about a minute whenever possible. After releasing some of those mini songs on a cassette tape back in 2017, Fader and Molhott went on to write their full-length debut Ocean Hug, which is slated for a March 29, 2019 release through Joyful Noise Recording. 

Clocking in at 56 seconds, Ocean Hug’s first single V is a breakneck bit of grungy, power pop centered around distortion and effect pedal-fueled power chords and thundering drumming. And despite its quick run time, the duo manages to throw in a rousingly anthemic hook within a classic 90s alt rock-like song structure — except everything is super truncated, as though the duo were double parked and were worried about getting a ticket. 

Directed by John Andrews, the recently released animated music video for “V” is a playful, squiggly line drawing-based take on The Three Little Pigs that features the three little pigs rocking out while the big bad wolf watches.