Category: indie rock

Over the past few months I’ve written a bit about the Swiss-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sam Himself, and as you may recall he first recieved attention with the 2017 release of his genre-defying EP Songs in D. Since then, the Swiss-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has built upon the early buzz around him with the release of several singles off his forthcoming Nobody EP — the old-fashion, slow-burning“Out of Love,” featuring  denetia and sene’s denetia that struck me as nodding at Johnny Cash‘s and June Carter Cash‘s “If I Were a Carpenter” — but with a subtle twist, as the song according to the Swiss-born, New York-based artist “is a desperate promise to keep a lover from leaving.” Himself followed that up with with the synth and guitar-based “Nobody,” a song that brought Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born to Run” “Born in the USA,” and “Glory Days” and Caveman‘s self-titled album to mind, as the song featured rousingly anthemic, fist raising hooks.

Nobody EP‘s latest single “Heartphones” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor:  it’s centered around soaring synths, an anthemic hook and thumping drums but underneath the song’s rousing uplift is a a vulnerable narrator, who is plagued by nagging doubts as he’s chasing his dream, especially when things seem bleak and uncertain. If you’ve ever chased a dream and bet the farm on it, you know the moments of deep doubt that come with true commitment,” Sam explains. “I tried to capture that experience of losing faith in your own pursuit, where you cross-examine yourself like a lover in crisis: How much are you willing to pay for the thing you can’t live without? How much will it cost you? Heartphones is a love song about doing what you love.”

 

 

Currently comprised of founding member Luisa Black (vocals, guitar), August Churchill (guitar), Jonny Naismith (guitar) and Gavin Haag (drums), the New York-based indie rock band, which specializes in a sound that meshes elements of British art work with American garage rock initially began as a solo project of its then San Francisco, CA-based founding member, after the breakup of her previous band The Blacks, and evolved around a series of demos Black wrote while she was living in London. Since then, the band has worked with a rotating cast in which they’re often a trio but occasionally a duo — and interestingly enough, with the release of a handful of EPs, the band has developed  following in the UK and the European Union.

Rich Girls’ recently released full-length debut Black City finds the band pushing their moody minimalist sound into new directions, and while they retain the reverb-drenched guitar-based sound that first won them attention, the album’s material employs the use of vintage, analog synths and marimbas, as well as some ambitious songwriting that finds the band further blurring genre lines as the material swings back and forth between a pop-leaning focus on melody and a punk-leaning focus on urgency.

“Wayne” Black City‘s latest single is a slow-burning and anthemic, ballad that sonically reminds me of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps,” Concrete Blonde’s “Joey” and Mazzy Star, thanks in part to a sparse arrangement centered around reverb-drenched power chords, thundering drumming, a soaring hook and Black’s vocals singing heartbreaking lyrics on a post-addiction love; but underneath the song’s ache is the self-assuredness of old pros, who can craft an ambitious, arena rock friendly torch song in a way that feels both profoundly sincere and effortless.

 

 

With her parents Laurie Lynn and Richard Stark being the owners of the high end silvery jewelry brand, Chrome Hearts, which has expanded into gold, diamond accessories, leather, clothing, furniture, incense and eyewear, the 24 year-old, Los Angeles, CA-born and-based singer/songwriter Jesse Jo Stark grew up in an environment that fostered creative expression; in fact, she was initially known as a model, who was photographed as a young teen by Gilles Bensimon for Elle Magazine before venturing into design, creating the Pete Punk collection, which was largely inspired by the punk era. The collection was critically applauded by fashion editors and was a commercial success — and as a result, it lead to a collaboration with Vans.  

Of course, music and fashion go hand-in-hand, and Jesse Jo Starks felt the pull to express herself musically — and under the guidance and collaboration of The Sex Pistols‘ Steve Jones, Guns ‘N’ RosesDuff McKagan and others, Starks began writing and recording her own original material, material that drew a variety of sources from country, punk and rock.

The up-and-coming, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has been busy balancing the busy schedule of her fashion work with writing and recording her debut effort, but she has released a handful of singles over the past year, including her latest “Fire of Love,” a sultry and cinematic track that possesses a dusty, Western Gothic vibe reminiscent of JOVM mainstays Betty Black and Bambara.

Stark will be opening for Sunflower Bean throughout the band’s June, Southwestern and West Coast dates. Check out the tour dates below.
TOUR DATES

6/8       Houston, TX                White Oak Music Hall Upstairs
6/10     Dallas, TX                   Club Dada
6/12     Phoenix, AZ                Valley Bar
6/13     San Diego, CA            Che Café
6/14     Santa Ana, CA            Constellation Room
6/15     Los Angeles, CA         Teragram Ballroom.

 

 

 

Comprised of founding member and primary songwriter  Jason Nott (vocals, guitar), Drew Smith (bass), Bryan King (drums), and Yan Clermont (guitar), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock act Beachwood Coyotes can trace their origins to when its founder’s first band, a band he had played and toured in since he was 16 had broken up. And for the first time in his life he had faced a rather uncertain future. One night, he’s tripping on acid for the first time, while maneuvering a vortex of geometric shapes and wild colors on the streets of Hollywood at 2:00am. Suddenly, Nott decides that he must go on a night hike up the Beachwood Canyon trail to the iconic Hollywood sign. And as the story goes, as he approached the trailhead, Nott spotted a group of coyotes heading down towards him. Terrified, the band’s founder retreated back to his apartment, where he wallowed in disappointment at another lost opportunity to do something cool.

The next morning, Nott discovered that three decapitated bodies were discovered on the same trail he was on, the victims of an apparent gang hit.  It was also revealed that the time of death was around the same time he encountered the coyotes. And in some way, Nott has credited those coyotes for saving his life.

Inspired by that experience and the years of relentless touring, Nott began writing songs about the loneliness of the touring life, and his hometown’s seedy underbelly — and then he recruits Smith, King and Clermont to flesh his ideas out. After writing a batch of songs, they design a DIY light show and develop a reputation for energetic live shows that feature stage diving and in-crowd performing — and with the release of their 2017 debut EP, Scrubby the members of Beachwood Coyotes received attention and airplay from KROQ, as well as several placements on MTV.

Building on a growing profile, the Los Angeles-based indie rock quartet went into the studio with producer Austen Moret, to record what the band feels is some of their most ambitious material to date, as Moret helped to push the band’s sound in different directions; in fact, Moret seamlessly blended samples and electronic elements into their arrangements and helped incorporate some broader influences including hip-hop, hard rock, jazz, funk and some barbershop quartet. Interestingly, the band’s latest single “Discipline” finds the band employing the use of shimmering synths, unusual yet driving syncopation, jangling guitars, and a rousingly, arena rock friendly hook. But underneath the swaggering the song is focuses on the reality of getting older, learning how to accept it gracefully and grow with it — and you know, as I gradually inch towards my 40s, the song reverberates in a familiar way. I’m getting older and shit, I better get used to it.

New Video: Beach House Releases Cinematic and Feverish Visuals for “Dark Spring”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Baltimore-based indie rock act Beach House. And as you may recall, the duo, which is comprised of founding and primary members Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals) have released a number of critically and commercially successful, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014, and while they were individual efforts, they were meat to be viewed as companion pieces that build upon similar themes and an overall related sound centered around sparse and atmospheric arrangements of organ, guitar and Legrand’s ethereal vocals.

Much like countless bands before them, Legrand and Scally have written and recorded a large number of songs throughout their career, some of which have been played live or released that for whatever reason just didn’t quite fit their album-based material. Over the years, some of those songs have proven to be increasingly difficult to find and listen to, and to accommodate their fans, they released B-Sides and Rarities, a 14 track compilation of songs that they’ve recorded and released that just didn’t make their albums, and two previously unreleased singles “Chariot” and “Baseball Diamond,” recorded during the Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars sessions. As a music journalist and fan, B-side compilations can offer a revealing look into a band’s creative and editorial processes as they write and record an album. Interestingly, according to a lengthy statement written by the band that appears on Sub Pop’s website, the B-sides album “felt like a good step for us. It helped us clean the creative closet, put the past the bed and start anew.”

The Baltimore-based act’s seventh full-length album, the symbolically apt titled 7 is slated for a May 11, 2018 release through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand, and as the album found the act working with Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) as a producer — but not in the traditional sense, as he helped the band in their attempts to start anew by shedding conventions and ensuring that the album’s material would be fresh, alive and protected from the tendency of overproduction and perfectionism. Additionally, the album finds Legrand and Scally working with their most recent live drummer James Barone, who as the band says helped “keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs.”

As Legrand and Scally explain “Throughout the process of recording 7, our goal was rebirth and rejuvenation. We wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live. On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

“In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a ‘home’ studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a ‘proper’ recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short.”

As the act admits, the societal sense of instability, uncertainty and chaos was deeply influential. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.” They go on to say that in a general sense, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny.

Now, as you may recall, last month Beach House released “Lemon Glow,” 7‘s first single, a jangling and  atmospheric track centered around Legrand’s etheral vocals that possessed a subtle, cosmic glow.  “Dive” 7’s second single may arguably be one of the more expansive and ambitious tracks they’ve released in recent memory as it features a lengthy, atmospheric section centered around Legrand’s vocals, organ and gently padded drumming before quickly shifting into a buzzing power chord-based coda. Interestingly, “Dark Spring,” the album’s third and latest single is a shoegazey-like single, featuring buzzing and woozy power chords, twinkling keys and a soaring hook. Directed by Zia Anger, the recently released video for “Dark Spring” is a gorgeous and cinematically shot fever dream. 

Over the past couple of months I’ve written quite a bit about the Chicago, IL-based post-punk act Ganser,  and with the release of their debut EP, This Feels Like Living, the members of the Chicago-based act received attention locally for an art rock-leaning post-punk/noise rock sound influenced by Sonic Youth and Magazine.  Now, as you may recall, the band’s full-length debut Odd Talk is slated for release later this month through No Trend Records, and the album’s material reportedly focuses on communication breakdowns, with the song’s narrators desperately seeking meaning in confusion and messiness, as though they were literally sorting through syllables and signals to find the right words to say what they wanted or needed to say.

“Satsuma,” Odd Talk‘s last official single will further cement their reputation for material that thematically can be grimly absurd yet comedic that points at the complexities and frustrations of human relationships paired with angular guitar chords and propulsive drumming that help evoke a sweaty, heart racing anxiety: the sort in which your thoughts are racing and pinballing within your head; but the difference here is that the song focuses on a weary reservation, on avoiding expectations and their inevitable heartache, of not showing your hand when things are uncertain.

The band will be embarking on a tour to support their full-length debut and it includes an album release show at Chicago’s Empty Bottle on April 16, 2018 and two NYC area dates — April 27, 2018 at Alphaville and May 1, 2018 at Saint Vitus. 

Tour Dates
3/09 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall (w/ Ought, Snail Mail)
3/28 – Chicago, IL – Beat Kitchen (w/ Shopping, Tyvek)
4/16 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle (Record Release Show)
4/25 – Detroit, MI – Outer Limits Lounge %
4/26 – Pittsburgh, PA – Howlers %
4/27 – Brooklyn, NY – Alphaville %
4/28 – Philadelphia, PA – Mothership %
4/29 – Providence, RI – Alchemy %
5/01 – Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus
5/02 – Baltimore, MD – Sidebar
5/03 – Richmond, VA – Flora
5/04 – North Carolina TBD
5/05 – Atlanta, GA – 529
5/06 – Memphis, TN – Bar DKDC
% – with Bloody Knives

 

 

Throughout the almost eight year history of this site, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstays Bambara, and as you may recall, the trio, comprised of twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh and their childhood friend William Brookshire will be releasing their Andy Chugg-produced third, full length album Shadow on Everything later this week — and the album, which is their first for renowned indie label, Wharf Cat Records, reportedly represents a decisive step in a  new direction for the band, with their sound moving from the noise rock and post-punk of their first two albums to incorporating a Western Gothic-inspired sound. And while the music center remains the trio’s tight and forceful rhythm section featuring Blaze Bateh’s frenzied yet incredibly metronomic drumming and Brookshire’s propulsive bass lines, unlike their previously recorded output, Shadow on Everything finds the band placing Reid Bateh’s vocals at the forefront, symbolically placing the damaged characters and seedy locales of his lyrics at center stage.

With the album’s first single ““Jose Tries to Leave,” the band retains the forceful and nightmarish dynamism that has won them attention here and elsewhere, but with a cinematic air, as it focuses on the lives and thoughts of desperate, fucked up and incredibly seedy sorts with a humanist’s sense of empathy and a novelist’s attention to psychological detail. “Doe-Eyed Girl,” the album’s second while continuing in a similar vein is imbued with a sweaty and furious urgency, fueled by manic and desperate obsession. Interestingly, Shadow on Everything‘s third and latest single “Sunbleached Skulls” is arguably one of the murkiest and bleakest songs of their growing catalog as Reid Bateh’s dark imagery centers around buzzing flies around sun-bleached bones, rotting flesh, dirt and grime paired with Brookshire’s propulsive bass and Blaze Bateh’s mathematically precise, metronomic drumming and shimmering bursts of Western guitar figures, seemingly writhing about in the dirt and grime; but underneath the bleak vibes and foul stenches of the song, there’s a strange sense of finding comfort and companionship in someone else, even if it’s fleeting. And much like its predecessor, the album’s single is incredibly cinematic track, that evokes a feverish and lingering nightmare.

 

 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstays METZ on “The Chris Gethard Show”

Over the past three or four years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Toronto, ON-based JOVM mainstays METZ, and as you may recall the trio’s third, full-length album Strange Peace was released last year, and album found the band retaining the furious and blistering energy of their live sets, while pushing their songwriting in new directions, with the most personal and politically charged material they’ve written yet, as it captures the anxiousness, uncertainty and fear of our time; but interestingly, the album’s material manages to suggest that when things are their bleakest, that you aren’t alone, because they are others just like you.  As the band’s Alex Eadkins explained in press notes, “The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty. They’re about recognizing that we’re not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears. They’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.”

The members of METZ have been relentless road warriors, melting faces and pummeling eardrums on stages large and small all across the world, and before  embarking on an extensive world tour that will include stops in lovely Amsterdam and Rotterdam and elsewhere, METZ appeared on truTV’s The Chris Gethard Show, where they played a face melting set featuring singles “Mr. Plague,” “Cellophane” and “Mess of Wires.” Oh and check out the exuberant dude in the banana suit, because if you had even half his exuberance, life would be way more fun.