Category: indie rock

New Video: Los Angeles’ Warbly Jets Release An Enormous Power Chord-Based Brit Pop-Inspired Single

With the release of their self-titled, full-length debut the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock act Warbly Jets, comprised of Samuel Shea, Julien O’neill, and Dan Gerbang quickly emerged into the national and international scene; in fact, their critically applauded effort found the band opening for Liam Gallagher and making three separate world tours to support it.

After a whirlwind year, the members of the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio returned to the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their self-recorded, self-produced, recently released EP, Propaganda. As the band’s frontman Samuel Shea says about the EP in press notes, “On this new collection of songs, we made an effort to set no particular stylistic boundaries. I believe it’s extremely important to make drastic differences as you transition through phases. That was something that Julien [O’neill] and I talked about from the conception of this band. I hope you always hear what you’re not expecting when you listen to a new release from us.”

Thematically speaking, the material explores our modern, globalized, algorithm-ruled, data-based society, where the lines between what’s public and private are frequently blurred beyond recognization — and where the hive mind masquerades as marketable individualism with Big Brother being welcomed with open arms in the name of convenience. And as a result, we should constantly ask ourselves a few questions: what’s human connection? How easily are we (and our lives, ideas and souls) bought and sold? Can we cut through the noise and bullshit? Does anyone care? Does music fit into it at all? As the band’s multi-instrumentalist Julien O’neill adds “‘Propaganda’ is a term as much as it’s a cultural ethos that’s been widely accepted. Anything from advertisement to self-aggrandizement qualifies.From social media, push notifications, targeted ads—we’ve openly elected to carry around miniature billboards, playing our part under the promising guise of a sense of ‘connection.’ We feel empty without it.”

Building upon last year’s success, Propaganda’s latest single “Alive” was featured in the opening scene of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4. But in terms of this site, the track finds the band drawing from classic rock, psych rock, and Brit Pop — or in other words: enormous power chords fed through distortion pedals, rousingly anthemic hooks and pummeling drums delivered with the swaggering self-assuredness of road-tested old pros. Directed by Steven Johnson, the recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — the band performing the song in the studio with some trippy special effects.  

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Over the past couple of years of this site’s almost nine-year history, i’ve written quite a bit about the Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maarten Devoldere, best known as the frontman of two critically applauded, internationally recognized acts Balthazar and JOVM mainstays Warhaus. Now, as you may recall, Warhaus is a sonic departure from Devoldere’s work with Balthazar, as the project’s sound was an atmospheric, jazz-inspired art rock the brought to mind The ChurchSting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the SunEdith Piaf, and Leonard Cohen — all while paired with Devoldere’s urbane, decadent, novelistic lyrics.

While Devoldere was busy with Warhaus, at one point writing much of the project’s sophomore album in a remote retreat in  Kyrgyzstan, his Balthazar songwriting partner, co-frontman and longtime friend Jinte Deprez remained in Ghent, holing himself in the studio, where he indulged his love of old-school R&B, eventually releasing a solo album as J. Bernardt. During Balthazar’s hiatus, the band’s songwriting duo found the ability to indulge their whims and follow their creative muses in different directions — while receiving boy commercial and critical success to be liberating. But it also created an undeniable urge between the two to write together again, propelled by a broader artistic horizon and their mutual respect for real other’s work.

When the members of Balthazar reconvened, they did so without any particular plan, just a desire to better their previously released work and to further the band’s story. Interestingly, the duo of Devoldere and Deprez agreed that the material should have an overall less serious, less melancholy feel, leaning towards a looser, refreshed sound — while retaining the hook driven quality that they’ve long been known for. And the end result is the band’s forthcoming full-length Fever, which is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Play It Again Sam Records. Interestingly, album title track and first single “Fever” was a slinky and sultry track, centered around a strutting bass riff, stomping percussion, a swooping string motif, a sinuous hook, a twinkling bridge and Devoldere’s plaintive baritone. Interestingly, the single finds the band crafting swaggering and infectious pop that’s accessible, carefree, and flirty. “Entertainment,” Fever‘s second single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor, as it was upbeat, playful and careful but centered around a swaggering and strutting vibe and an anthemic hook — and while while nodding at The Rolling Stones‘ “Sympathy for the Devil, the Jinte Deprez-led song features some Afro pop-like polyrhythmic percussion. “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again,” Fever‘s third and latest single is a slow-burning, synth-led Quiet Storm R&B-inspired song led by Jinte Deprez that sonically and thematically reminds me of Milagres’IDNYL” and classic Hall and Oates. As Deprez explains in press notes, “I’m Never Gonna Let You Down Again’ is a breakup song with a twist, a groovy soul ode with a synthesizer, a chorus with a Bee Gee touch. It’s shaking it off, wherever it stuck.” Admittedly, Balthazar’s forthcoming album is something I’m looking very forward to; but perhaps more important, from the album’s first three singles, the band reminds listeners familiar with their sound that they’ve always had an uncompromisingly intellectual band with an accessible approach — all while possessing one of the most unique aesthetics I’ve come across in some time.

 

 

 

Black Pistol Fire is an Austin, TX-based rock act featuring Toronto, ON-born duo Kevin McKeown (guitar, vocals) and Eric Owen (drums). And since their formation, the duo whose sound and approach has been largely inspired by Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, Nirvana, Buddy Holly and Muddy Waters, has received a national profile for an untamed and blistering live set. Dubbed the “next big thing” by Huffington Post after their 2013 SXSW appearance, the act has built upon that reputation by playing some of the largest festivals including Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch Music Festival, Shaky Knees and Governor’s Ball, as well as Mad Cool and Colours of Ostrava.

The Austin-based duo’s latest single is the swaggering and bluesy “Level,” a track centered around enormous power chords, thunderous drumming, arena rock friendly hooks and McKeown’s self-assured, rock god-like crooning. And while adding themselves to a growing list of power chord-based blues rock duos, they do so with an ass-kicking, name-taking self-assuredness of old pros.

The duo have lined up some tour dates during the first part of the year. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

1/11 – Gothic Theater – Denver, CO
1/12 – Belly Up Aspen – Aspen, CO
3/2-3/3 – Innings Festival – Phoenix, AZ
5/3-5/5 – Welcome to Rockville – Jacksonville, FL
5/10-12 – Rockingham – Charlotte, NC
5/17-5/19 – Sonic Temple – Columbus, OH (fka Rock on the Range)

 

Gemma Ray is a Basildon, Essex, UK-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has collaborated with Sparks, Alan Vega and members of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds while releasing 8 full-length albums that have found the Basildon-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist meshing a number of disparate genres into what’s been dubbed pop-noir, sideway blues and gothic folk.

Ray’s forthcoming full-length album Psychogeology is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through her longtime label home Bronze Rat Records and interestingly the album which was recorded at Candybomber Studios and Ray’s Berlin Studio finds her incorporating sci-fi synthscapes, girl group dramarama, gothic surf disco, blues cantatas, Melody Nelson-era Gainsbourg groove, and harmony-laden reverb-drenched folk-pop among other things. Although the album’s first single “Blossom Crawls” sounds a bit like Stevie Nicks mixed with shimmering Phil Spector Wall of Sound-era girl pop, complete with a soaring hook. Unsurprisingly, the song reveals some ambitious songwriting centered around a careful attention to craft and a swooning romanticism.

 

 

 

Currently featuring Blake Milliser (vocals), Alex Hamby (guitar, vocals), Zane Emory (guitar, synth, vocals), Tom Hopper (drums, vocals), Myles Hamby (bass, vocals), Bryce Muse (saxophone) and Rachel Fritz (keys, synth), the Tucson, AZ-based indie septet Chateau Chateau formed early last year as a loose, garage pop quartet that rehearsed and wrote songs in an abandoned airplane hanger. After a while, they began to win over an audience of semi-casual, drunkards, who would be passing by on their way to the brewery next door. Shortly, after their formation they expanded to their current lineup — and as a result, by the middle of last year their sound morphed to a glimmering, synth-based hook-driven sound that recalls A Flock of Seagulls and others. Interestingly, the act’s latest single “Evidence” is a crowd-pleasing and anthemic song centered around a buoyant bass line, shimmering synths and Milliser’s crooned vocals. However, underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song’s narrator is in the midst of a mental breakdown, giving the song an underlying bitter irony.

 

Towards the end of last year, I wrote a bit about Marlene Oak, a Swedish singer/songwriter and guitarist, who grew up on a small island outside of of Stockholm, where she turned to music as an escape. Oak spent her teenage years busking on the streets of Stockholm’s Old Town, and was serendipitously discovered by someone, who just happened to pass by and catch her playing. After releasing a couple of singles, which helped to develop a reputation for a sound and approach that’s influenced by Bob DylanJeff BuckleyJoni Mitchell, Nina Simone and Janis Joplin, the Swedish singer/songwriter and guitarist built a following playing shows across her homeland at pubs, clubs and elsewhere, opening for the likes of Miss Li,Whitney Rose and Susto, as well as playing sets at Way Out West FestivalSTHLM Americana and Irisfestivalen.

Now, as you may recall, Oak’s “In The Evening” was centered around a hauntingly sparse arrangement featuring Oak’s soulful and plaintive vocals, accompanied by a strummed, electric guitar fed through gentle amount of reverb. Naturally, the sparse arrangement forces your attention on Oak’s vocals and lyrics — with the song thematically focusing on heartbreak, sorrow, achingly lonely nights and desperately figuring out some way to move forward with your life. Recorded in one take, the song possesses a you-were-there immediacy which helps pack a walloping emotional punch. “When I recorded ‘In The Evening’, I wanted to record everything on one take — without a click. And that’s what I did,” Oak says in press notes. “I aimed for keeping the same feeling to the song as I had when I wrote it, and I wanted to sing the words as if they were my last.”

The up-and-coming, Stockholm-based singer/songwriter will be building upon a growing national and international profile with the release of her latest EP Silver Moon, which is slated for a February 15, 2019 release and the EP’s latest single is the jangling “Slip Away.” And while being clearly indebted to Southern California rock and AM rock (Fleetwood Mac immediately comes to my mind), the song is a swooning and urgently romantic song that focuses on grabbing your lover’s hand and escaping a brutal and cynical world with each other’s company for a little while at least. Just as important, the song reveals a self-assured songwriter, who can craft an infectious, arena rock friendly hook.