Category: New Audio

 

Initially begun as the recording project of Cincinnati, OH-based singer/songwriter and guitarist James Bishop, LIGHTWASH continues Bishop’s growing reputation for crafting jangling guitar pop that manages to be remarkably anachronistic — as though it could have been released in 1966, 1982 or just last week — and their latest single, the easy-going “Thunder” off their forthcoming full-length effort Half Hung manages to reveal a songwriter who walks a careful tightrope between effortless simplicity and deliberate attention to craft.

 

 

2017 has been a breakthrough year for the Reykjavik, Iceland-based indie rock/post-punk trio  Fufanu.. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of this past year, you’d recall that the band, currently comprised of founding members Kaktus Einarsson (vocals, guitar), whose father Einar was a member of The Sugarcaubes and Guðlaugur “Gulli” Einarsson (guitar, programming) (no relation, by the way) along with newest member, Erling Bang (drums) can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo met while at school. And according to the band’s founding duo, Katkus had glanced at Gulli’s iTunes and noticed that they had listened to a lot of the same techno and electronic music. After quickly bonding over mutual interests, the duo went into a studio and began writing and recording electronic music under the name Captain Fufanu. Interestingly, within a month of their formation, Kaktus and Gulli had started playing shows in and around their hometown.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the duo went into the studio to record what would be their full-length debut as Captain Fufanu; but in a strange twist of fate, the studio where Kaktus and Gulli had recorded the album was burgled. Naturally, everyone involved in the process presumed the album was lost. While many bands would be devastated by losing their life’s work in such a shitty fashion, Kaktus and Gulli put a positive spin on the ordeal, viewing it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves and their sound, as they were developing a growing technical and musical prowess. Coincidentally, Kaktus Einarsson had been spending time in London working on Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robots and touring with the late and legendary Bobby Womack when he began writing lyrics. Simultaneously, Gulli had started to craft a completely revised sound, which according to Kaktus managed to convey exactly what he had been thinking and feeling at the time. The result was the duo pairing Kaktus’ brooding and ironically detached vocals with an arrangement that featured guitar, bass, drums, synths and other electronics. Armed with a new sound, the duo renamed the project Fufanu.

Fufanu’s first live set as Fufanu, with their new sound and material was at 2014’s Iceland Airwaves and they quickly became one of the most talked about bands of the entire festival. Right after the festival, they went into the studio to record their full-length debut, A Few More Days To Go, which was released to applause both nationally and internationally; in fact, with an even bigger profile, Fufanu toured with The Vaccines and others, and played some of Northern Europe’s and Scandinavia’s largest festivals, including the aforementioned Iceland Airwaves, JaJaJa Festival and others.

Released earlier this year, the band’s sophomore album Sports finds the band going through some significant changes — Kaktus and Gulli recruited Erling “Elli” Bang (drums) to further flesh their sound out, with the newly constituted trio refining their material’s sound and thematic concerns, represented through album title track  “Sports,” which retains the synth-driven sound of their debut while nodding at CanNeu!  Joy Division and early ’80s Peter Gabriel,  the slow-burning and moody  “Liability” and “White Pebbles.”  However, the highly buzzed about Icelandic trio begin the holiday season and close out the year, with “Top Of The Queens,” a track that was recorded during the Sports sessions and didn’t make the cut.

Of course, what makes an the release of a previously unreleased album track intriguing is the fact that they frequently give the listener — if they’re familiar with the album in question — some insight into the complex editorial decisions that comprise the making of an album. In some cases, you can immediately tell why a particular song wasn’t included — it just didn’t fit the tone and vibe of the album. In other cases, it’s not apparent. Sometimes, it’s a matter of a song floating around for a while and the band just is tired of the song or it’s an issue of not having a whole lot of time and something has to get cut — or a variety of other issues. Interestingly enough, “Top Of The Queens” manages to continue in a similar, anthemic hook-laden, synth-based rock vibe but it has a rougher, punk rock band in a dive bar edge to it.

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Jordan Wilson and Benjmain Riley, the acclaimed, Sydney, Australia-based duo Georgia Fair can trace their origins to when the duo met in high school. They began playing and writing music together and would continue to do so in a number of bands until settling on their current project together Georgia Fair, which reportedly derives its name from a venue mistakenly billing the duo then known as Jordan and Ben as Georgia Fair due to a bad phone connection.

Their 2011 debut effort All Through Winter was recorded with Band of HorsesBill Reynolds in studios in Asheville, NC; Austin, TX; and Atlanta, GA, and the album peaked in the Top 100 of the ARIA Albums Chart and reached #1 on the ARIA Hitseekers Albums Chart. The duo’s 2013 sophomore effort, Trapped Flame was recorded in Los Angeles with Ted Hutt and featured musicians, who were part of the backing bands of Ryan Adams and PJ Harvey — and much like its predecessor, it was a commercial success as it reached the ARIA Top 100 Chart.

After the release of their sophomore effort, the duo relocated to London where they spent time exploring their roots while trying to incorporate new sounds. As Georgia Fair’s Jordan Wilson explains in press notes, “That trip and the intensity of living in London helped us get out of our own way.” And the result is the duo’s third full-length effort The World’s Awake, which reportedly finds the duo capturing their live essence and sound.  In fact, the album’s first single “Slave to Nothing” finds the duo at what may arguably be their most sparse and restrained while nodding at an arena rock blues sound reminiscent of The Black Keys and others; however, at its core is a slow-burning heartache rooted in betrayal, confusion and lingering regret.

 

Hans-Christian Søgaard Andersen is a Søro, Denmark-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer, who was best known as a member of renowned Danish band Racetrack Babies. As Andersen explains in press notes, “that band broke up as we were working on this album, so I thought it would provide some continuity to our fans. During the recording, our drummer Henrik Svendsen started calling me the captain of sorrow, because the songs were full of melancholy, so that became the name of the new band.”

Andersen and his new, Captain of Sorrow collaborators, which included Søren Hansen (guitar), Hans Madsen (bass) and the aforementioned Henrik Svenden (drums), wrote, recorded and produced their debut album Racetrack Babies in a wild burst of spontaneous creativity — and as the story goes, Andersen and his collaborators wanted to capture the diverse sounds that Andersen was hearing in his head. “Every song has the title of a band I once considered using, so I wanted them to sound different, as if it were 11 different groups.” The quartet started the album with some free form jamming and as Andersen recalls, “we listened to each song once, played it three or four times, then recorded it live. I gave them [the backing band] a free hand to crate their own arrangements but didn’t let them get too familiar with the songs. I wanted a rough sound, so you would know it was human beings playing the music.”

“Park the Van” Racetrack Babies‘ first single is a noisy and sprawling arrangement that finds Andersen and his bandmates nodding at noise punk, grunge and indie rock simultaneously as the band pair power chords, sinuous bass chords, stuttering and thundering drumming and anthemic hooks within a classic grunge rock song structure featuring alternating loud and quiet sections; but the major difference to me is that the band manages to add a mournful yet oose, jam band-like take to a familiar sound and aesthetic.

Comprised of Nye Todd, Adam Todd, Anna Cory and Niall McCamely, the Edinburgh, Scotland, UK-based indie pop act The Spook School derive their name from the famous Glasgow School of influential artists and designers that began to coalesce in the 1870s and flourished between 1890 to roughly 1910 or so. And within the The Glasgow School there were several groups responsible for creating the distinctive Glasgow Style — The Four (also known as The Spook School), which featured painter and glass artist Margaret MacDonald, acclaimed architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh (McDonald’s husband), MacDonald’s sister Frances Macdonald and Herbert MacNair — all of who made strides in the definition of Art Nouveau; the Glasgow Girls; and the Glasgow Boys. As for their modern counterparts, the members of the Glasgow-based indie pop act have developed a reputation for songs that lyrically explore gender, sexuality and queer issues while thematically focusing on gender fluidity and the lack of the gender binary.

The Spook School’s latest single “Someone to Spend Christmas With” is an incisive and anthemic, ambivalent Christmas song that features a rousing hook, soaring synths, shimmering guitar chords and propulsive drumming — and while sounding as though it simultaneously draws from 60s pop and 80s New Wave, as the band’s Anna Corey explains in press notes, “This is a song about figuring out how you want to conduct your own relationships when it feels like the world is full of conflicting advice about the ‘best’ way to do it, whether that be monogamy, polyamory, or something else entirely. The refrain relates to the ideal of having one important person in your life with whom you’ll always spend your special occasions.”

Along with the release of their new Christmastime single, the Scottish quartet announced an early 2018 North American tour, opening for Diet Cig that will include a March 1, 2018 stop at Brooklyn’s newest music venue Elsewhere. Interestingly, the tour will also coincide with the release of the band’s highly-anticipated third full-length effort Could It Be Different? on January 26, 2018 through Slumberland Records here in the States and Alcopop! Records in the UK. In the meantime, check out the tour dates below.

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR 2018

01/29 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place # ^
01/30 Toronto, ON @ The Garrison # ^
01/31 Detroit, MI @ Marble Bar # ^
02/01 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge # &
02/02 Madison, WI @ University of Wisconsin # &
02/03 Minneapolis, MN @ University of Minnesota # &
02/05 Lawrence, KS @ White Schoolhouse #
02/06 Omaha, NE @ Reverb Lounge & #
02/07 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge #
02/08 Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court #
02/09 Boise, ID @ Neurolux # &
02/10 Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt # &
02/11 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey #
02/12 Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theater #
02/14 San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop #
02/15 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst # &
02/16 Los Angeles, CA @ Lodge Room #
02/17 San Diego, CA @ You Are Going To Hate This Fest 3 #
02/19 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress # &
02/21 Austin, TX @ Sidewinder # &
02/22 Dallas, TX @ Three Links # &
02/23 New Orleans, LA @ Hi Ho Lounge # &
02/24 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade # &
02/25 Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight # &
02/26 Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre # &
02/27 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle # &
02/28 Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel # &
03/01 Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere # &
03/02 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall # &
03/03 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church # &

# = w/ Diet Cig
^ = w/ Lala Lala
& = w/ Great Grandpa

New Audio: Aussie Sibling Quartet Stonefield End 2017 with a Prog Rock-like New Single

Over the past few months, I’ve written about the Darraweit Guim, Australia-based sibling psych rock quartet Stonefield, comprised of Amy (drums, lead vocals), Hannah (guitar), Sarah (keys) and Holly Findlay (bass). And as you may recall, the siblings began playing together when they were all at a rather young age — with the youngest being seven and the oldest being 15. The band’s eldest member Amy recorded their first song “Foreign Lover” for a school project, and then reportedly she entered the song into Triple J’s national, unsigned band competition for youngsters Unearthed High as an afterthought; however, much to her and her sisters’ surprise, Stonefield wound up winning the contest. Within an incredibly short period of time, the Findlay sisters had two singles receiving regular airplay on Australian radio and an invitation to play at the Glastonbury Festival.

Since then, the members of the sibling quartet have released two EPs, their self-titled full-length debut and their sophomore effort As Above So Below, which was released earlier this year through Rebel Union Recordings/Mushroom Records. And adding to a growing profile, the Aussie, sibling quartet have opened for a variety of internationally renowned touring acts including Fleetwood Mac, Meat Puppets and a Stateside tour with countrymen and JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard earlier this year. Interestingly, the Findlay sisters end 2017 by signing to Flightless Records, the label home of the aforementioned King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and The Babe Rainbow, and to celebrate that announcement, the band’s first release on their new label is “Delusion,” the follow-up to their sophomore effort. 
“Delusion” finds the Findlay sisters moving away from the heavy psych rock and psych pop of their earlier releases towards a dirge-like, 70s prog rock and metal sound as the song finds features some down-tuned power chords, dramatic, twisting and turning synths, tubular bells, some sinister mellotron and an enormous, arena rock-friendly hook within a sprawling and hypnotic song structure that features changes in key and mood. As the band explains in press notes, the song is inspired by the “overwhelming feeling of knowing you are a speck in the universe, getting lost in your mind.” 

Deeply influenced by The Breeders, T-Rex, punk rock, psych rock and New Wave, the Wilmington, DE-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, Grace Vonderkuhn has received attention for a sound that meshes elements of psych rock, garage rock and guitar pop; in fact, back in 2015, I wrote about Vonderkuhn’s slow-burning, brooding, and lysergic cover of The Psychedelic Furs‘ “Love My Way.” Adding to a growing profile, over the past year, the Wilmington, DE-based singer/songwriter and her backing band, which features Brian Bartling (bass) and Dave Mcgrory (drums) has opened for the likes of Titus Andronicus, Lower Dens and blogosphere darlings Sheer Mag among others.

“Worry,” the first single off Vonderkuhn’s forthcoming full-length album, slated for a February release through Egghunt Records features some muscular and self-assured power chords paired with angular and driving bass chords, forceful drumming within a 90s alt rock song structure —  alternating quiet verses and loud choruses, arena rock friendly hooks, an explosive and cathartic bridge and a fade out into the song’s coda.  Though it clearly owes debts to the aforementioned Breeders, Veruca Salt and others in the 120 Minutes-era MTV universe, the song, as Vonderkuhn explained to the folks at GoldFlakePaint is an “anthem for over-thinkers” with the song’s narrator attempting to  act as a calming counterweight, as she constantly reminds herself that maybe she shouldn’t be worrying as much as she does about everything, that some things are just beyond your control. And as a result, Vonderkuhn’s latest is a deceptive and mischievously modern take on a beloved and familiar song and aesthetic.

 

 

 

Xavier Bacash is a Copenhagen, Denmark-based producer and electronic music artist, who writes and records with the moniker Sonny — and with “Some Velvet Morning,” the latest single off his recently released C.E. EP, Bacash’s sound features elements of retro-futuristic jazz fusion and slick electronica in a way that will likely remind some listeners of Floating Points, Bonobo and others, as the composition is a cinematic and elegantly lush soundscape featuring live, drumming from frequent collaborator Jim Rindfleish, a soaring string sample and subtly arpeggiated synths.

Unsurprisingly, the song is reportedly inspired by and evokes a breathtaking sunrise, just before a long trip out of the city and into the country.

 

 

 

 

The up-and-coming Seattle, WA-based quartet Thunderpussy, comprised of Molly Sides (vocals), Whitney Petty (guitar), Leah Julius (bass) and Ruby Dunphy (drums), quickly exploded into the national scene with co-signs from Rolling Stone and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and for a string of attention-grabbing, critically applauded live shows. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you’d recall that I wrote about their incredibly assured, ass-kicking and name-taking, power-chord Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Joan Jett anthem “Speed Queen.”

“Velvet Noose,” is the much-anticipated, bluesy follow up to “Speed Queen,” that features a blistering “Evenflow“-like guitar solo from Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, twinkling keys, thundering drumming and arena rock friendly hooks — and while further cementing the quartet’s reputation for straightforward yet incredibly assured power chord-based rock, the song manages to be roomy enough to prominently display Sides’ Janis Joplin meets Wilson sisters-like vocals.

The band is currently in the studio with Sylvia Massy, who’s worked with Johnny Cash and Tool, working on new material that will be released in 2018 — and based on “Speed Queen,” and their latest single, I suspect that you’ll be hearing quite a bit about these ladies over the course of the following year.

 

New Audio: The Gorgeous and Soaring Sounds of Dublin’s Cloud Castle Lake

Currently comprised of Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass) and Brendan Doherty (drums), along with a rotating cast of collaborators and friends, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake derive their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a voyager, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend the rest of his life there, but is cruelly dragged back to reality. And with their 2014 self-released debut EP, Dandelion, the Irish act received attention for a sound that routinely juxtaposes dark and despairing lyrics with a euphoric catharsis that increasingly draws from the work of Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders while being equal parts pastoral folk and soaring post-rock crescendos. And adding to a growing profile, the band has opened for touring acts such as Glasser, Lisa Hanningan and Ultraisa. 

Cloud Castle Lake had recently re-surfaced with the release of “Twins,” their first single in quite some time and building upon the buzz of that single, the Irish quartet released the stunning and breathtakingly gorgeous, Amnesiac-era Radiohead-like single “Bonfire,” which features twinkling, arpeggiated keys, and jazz-infected drumming and a tender yet soaring melody. As the band’s Daniel McAuley explained in press notes, “Bonfire is based around a pretty simple melody I came up with a few years ago. I kept being drawn back to it periodically and steadily adding and expanding it until it grew out into a full song. Writing it felt like a meditative task – what I’d imagine knitting a scarf is like. The choir parts were performed by our pals Tonnta, a contemporary choral group from Dublin. The giddiest day of recording for me was probably the first day they came in and sang through their parts. Getting to hear such talented musicians turn all that midi data and notation into music feels like magic. The lyrics have to do with doubt and denial and keeping secrets. They’re very loosely based on an old Irish/Welsh myth about rival tribes trying to find out the secret name of the other’s god in order to defeat them.”

Next month, the members of the Irish quartet will be embarking on a 5 date North American tour with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and a February 6, 2018 stop at Rockwood Music Hall. These tour dates will serve as a bold re-introduction to the band, as well as building up buzz for the band’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut, slated for a Spring 2018 release.