Category: New Audio

Ellis Redon is a San Antonio, TX-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrument, who emerged into his hometown’s indie scene with the release of his debut 2013’s Into the Jungle, a synth and drum machine-based effort with limited guitar; however, his recently released album Bloody Honey is a decided change in sonic direction, as the album’s material finds the San Antonio-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist collaborating with a live backing band featuring Andres Nunez (bass), Por Do Sol’s Shaz Soto (drums) and Soft Mothers‘ Luis Miguel Rocha De La Fuente (lead guitar).

Redon and his backing band have spent the past two years crafting and honing their sound. “For the record we spent about two years. It was a rough two years of making the record fueled by heartbreak and substance abuse and making friends and family,” Redon says in press notes. “When we brought Shaz Soto as a drummer, we had to rework the songs and bring them into a different light.”

“Black Hole,” Bloody Honey‘s latest single is centered around jangling and distorted power chords, thunderous drumming, Redon’s snarled vocals and an anthemic hook and while bringing 120 Minutes-era MTV alt-rock/indie rock to mind, the track reveals a songwriter with an ambitious attention to craft while dexterously (and easily) writing material across disparate genres.

 

 

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Currently comprised of Long Island-born, Brooklyn-based founding member Sarik Kumar (vocals, guitar) with Wes Wynne (guitar), Craig Stauber (drums) and Justin Lieberthal (bass), the Brooklyn-based dream pop act Mars Motel can trace its origins to a series of psych rock and Brit Pop-inspired demos Kumar wrote and recorded during his senior year of high school. Several years had passed and those early demos were seemingly forgotten with Kumar relocating to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where he joined Twin Wave for a three-year stint between 2013-2016.

Kumar rediscovered those high school demos while he was visiting his childhood home and he was inspired to embark on a new creative venture as the lead singer and primary songwriter. Kumar then recruited Wynne, Stauber and Lieberthal to complete the band’s linep, and since their formation, the band has received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a string of releases that draw from from Brit Pop and early 2000s NYC post-punk.

Mars Motel’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Passenger X is slated for release later this year; but in the meantime, the album’s first official single “Coming Up For Air” is a sweeping and anthemic track, centered by shimmering guitars, a motorik-like groove and Kumar’s vocals expressing a plaintive and urgent yearning. And while bearing a resemblance to Radio 4, White Lies and others, the song as Kumar told Substream Magazine “is about an android -like being longing to be human and attempting an alteration. It captures the universal need for connection and the loneliness one can feel in being viewed as an outsider.”

 

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New Audio: Acclaimed Indie Act Imperial Teen Releases a Rousingly Anthemic New Single

Comprised of Roddy Bottum (guitar, vocals), a former member of Faith No More; Will Schwartz (guitar, vocals), who splits his time with hey willpower; Lynn Perko Truell, (drums, backing vocals), a former member of Sister Double Happiness, The Dicks and The Wrecks; and Jone Stebbins, a former member of the Wrecks, the acclaimed indie act Imperial Teen originally formed in San Francisco in the mid 90s.

Their 1996 Steve McDonald-produced debut Seasick was released to praise from Spin Magazine, who went on to list it as their fourth best album of that year and from the New York Times.  Their sophomore album, 1998’s What Is Not to Love found the band ambitiously expanding upon their sound and approach with material routinely clocking over six minutes. Interestingly, album single “Yoo Hoo” appeared on the Jawbreaker soundtrack.  The accompanying video featured the movie’s star, Rose McGowan appearing alongside the band — and it was included as a special feature on the DVD. Also “Yoo Hoo” was heard in the beginning of episodes of Numb3rs and Daria.

The band left Universal Records and signed with Merge Records, who released their third album, 2002’s Steve McDonald and Anna Waronker co-produced effort, On. The album’s lead single “Ivanka” received airplay — and they spent a portion of the year touring with The Breeders. Interestingly, that tour include a stop at famed Hoboken club Maxwell’s, which was recorded and released a few months later as Live at Maxwell’s. 

The band’s Will Schwartz teamed up with Tomo Yasuda for Schwartz’s dance music side project hey willpower, which released their self-titled debut EP in 2005. And by 2007, the members of Imperial Teen returned with two shows at that year’s SXSW and their fourth album, The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band, which landed at #38 on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums list that year. 

The band’s fifth album was 2012’s Feel the Sound and since the release of that effort, the members of the band have relocated to different parts of the country — with members in New York, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Understandably, the geographical locations and distances can make it extremely difficult to write and record music on a regular basis — but the members of the acclaimed indie rock act reconvened to write and record their forthcoming, sixth album Now We Are Timeless. 

Slated for a July 12, 2019 release through their longtime label home, Merge Records, the band’s sixth album will further cement their long-held reputation for crafting deeply personal material that offered a view into the bandmember’s individual lives, complete with victories, losses, aspirations, where they were emotionally and personally — while thematically, the material touches upon time, movement, averting and succumbing to crisis, dealing with and accepting loss and pain.

“We Do What We Do Best,” Now We Are Timeless’s latest single is a swaggering, arena rock friendly track centered around power chords, an enormous hook, buzzing synths, a propulsive rhythm section, a trippy guitar solo and stream-of-consciousness-like lyrics delivered with a mischievously ironic aplomb; but at its core is the free-flowing spontaneity and joy of a bunch of old friends jamming and coming up with something that kicks ass. 

New Audio: Introducing the Classic Soul Sounds of Austin’s Black Pumas

Black Pumas are a rising Austin, TX-based soul act, comprised of Grammy-winning producer and guitarist Adrian Quesada and 27-year-old singer/songwriter Eric Burton and a cast of collaborators. Interestingly, Burton was a street performer for several years, who busked his way from Los Angeles to Austin, where he met Quesada.

In a relatively short time, the band has received praise for their live shows from Pigeons and Planes and the Austin American-Statesman, eventually winning Best New Band and Song of the Year for “Black Moon Rising” at this year’s Austin Music Awards. Building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding them, the act will be releasing their self-titled full-length debut through ATO Records on June 21. The album’s latest single “Colors” is old-school singer/songwriter soul centered around a gospel and blues-inspired arrangement featuring soaring organs, a looped 12 blues guitar line, a supple bass line, and twinkling Rhodes — but by far, the star of the show is Burton’s soulful vocals and incredible range, which evoke hurt, yearning and pride. 

The band is making their NYC debut next Wednesday with a set at The Knitting Factory. 

Born in the early 70s, the Pasadena, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer Damon Garrett Riddick, best known as JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk came of age during the heyday of acts like Uncle Jamm’s Army and Egyptian Lover, two of the area’s pioneers of electro hip-hop and what would become West Coast hip-hop — and of course, the legendary Prince.

Riddick’s parents encouraged and nurtured his interest in music: he learned drums and then drum machine. A chance encounter led to an apprenticeship under funk songwriter/producer Leon Sylvers III, and by the mid-90s, the height of West Coast, G-funk hip-hop, Riddick was a highly-sought, local session musician, playing on tracks by Mack 10 and MC Eiht. “Everybody was trying to do the live instrumentation thing, so then you got cats like me playing on records,” Dam-Funk explained on his Stones Throw Records artist bio.

Sideman status wasn’t enough for him though. While watching gold plaques be handed out to everyone but him, Riddick decided that it was time to go “full-funk” and make a do-or-die try to become an artist on his own terms. In 2006, he and a few friends launched the popular Funkmosphere party. Around then, the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer caught the attention of Stones Throw Records. Unsurprisingly, the label related to Riddick’s insistence that funk needed to be saved from cartoonish and devilish caricature — and that funk was a way of life.

Stones Throw Records released his first two full-length albums — 2009’s Toeachizown and 2015’s Invite the Light, as well as a  compilation of his early production, 2010’s Adolescent Funk. 2013 was a big year for the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay — his collaboration with Steve Arrington Higher was released that year, and he teamed up with Snoop Dogg in the funk and hip-hop act 7 Days of Funk, who also released their debut album that year.

Each of those releases helped to establish Dam-Funk’s signature sound and aesthetic — synth-based funk that draws from G-Funk era hip-hop and 80s synth funk. However, over the past couple of years, Riddick has been experimenting with the warmer sides of deep house and techno with material released through his own imprint Glydezone Recordings while spending time DJ’ing, and working on remixes and mixes.

Slated for release next week through his own label, the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay’s forthcoming effort STFU II while being a follow-up to last year’s Architecture II is reportedly a gradual return to his old-school funk roots — and a long-awaited sequel to 2015’s free all-instrumental EP STFU. Now, as you may recall, clocking in at over 7 minutes, the EP’s first track, the strutting EP closer “On Code.” Centered by tweeter and woofer rocking beats, layers of arpeggiated bass synths, keytar and atmospheric electronics that gave the affair a subtle cosmic glow.

“Compos Mentis,” the EP’s second and latest single is centered around a lush and jazz-tinged funk arrangement featuring arpeggiated bass synths, atmospheric electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and twinkling keys — and much like its immediate predecessor, the track possesses a similar, subtle cosmic glow and an deep melodic sensibility.

 

 

New Audio: Carlton Jumel Smith Releases a Swooning, Classic Soul-Inspired Declaration of Devotion

Last month, I wrote about Carlton Jumel Smith, a New York-based R&B/soul singer/songwriter, who emerged into the international soul scene with the release of his debut single “I Can’t Love You Anymore,” a 70s soul and R&B-inspired track that found him collaborating with the renowned Timmion Records production and house band team Cold Diamond & Mink. Building upon a rapidly growing profile within soul circles, Smith, who cites James Brown, Al Green, The Temptations, Sly Stone, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Womack and Tom Waits as influences on his own work will be releasing his full-length debut 1634 Lexington Avenue through Timmion Records and Daptone Records.

Slated for release later this week, 1634 Lexington Avenue reportedly finds Smith and the Timmion Records crew carrying on in the tradition and sounds of Curtom Records, the Chicago-based studio and label founded by Curtis Mayfield; Memphis soul; and of course, by default Motown for contemporary listeners.  Now, as you may recall, album single “This Is What Love Looks Like!” while centered around a shuffling, two-step groove, a sultry horn line and Smith’s soulful crooning thematically and sonically drew from the classic soul and pop songs of the late 60s and 70s with the song’s narrator expressing his devotion to his life with a sweetness and passion that you’ll rarely here in contemporary music. Continuing in a similar vein as its predecessor, 1634 Lexington Avenue’s latest single “Woman You Made Me” is triumphant declaration of the narrator’s appreciation of the woman in his life, complete with the tacit recognition that love is complicated and hard — and that finding that special someone is both lucky and rare. Sonically, the song seamlessly meshes the classic 60s Motown sound with Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield psych soul.

“I sing the type of R&B and soul that I grew up with and I present it in a fashion that is designed to make one thing of love and loyalty, which as DJ Rogers once said ‘are not for sale,'” Smith says in press notes. 

 

SadGirl is a Los Angeles-based garage rock trio who specializes in a vintage sound — and interestingly, their newest album Water, which is slated for a June 14, 2019 release through Suicide Squeeze Records reportedly finds the trio tapping into the romantic and nostalgic spirit of their hometown while exuding an authenticity that suggests that they’ve peeked at the scuzzy underside of the manicured lawns, glitzy boulevards and relentless sunshine.

“If you want to learn about water, go to the desert,” the Los Angeles-based garage trio’s recording engineer and friend Max Garland has sagely said, and unsurprisingly that statement made a huge impact on the band’s Misha Lindes (guitar, vocals). “Here we are in Los Angeles, a desert ping-ponging between drought and El Nino. This record is just an attempt to share a very small portion of my experience growing up and living here,” Lindes says of the album. “It’s basically just about the fluidity of water and its power and importance.” And while seemingly post-apocalyptic, the album is a collection of old-school tinged pop songs, recorded with vintage recording techniques; in fact, the album was pieced together out of a series of recording sessions over the past two years using a variety of tape machines in different set ups — from living rooms to professional studios.

Interestingly, Water‘s later single is the slow-burning, Roy Orbison-like ballad “Miss Me.” And while rooted in a traditional of bittersweet and aching love songs written from the perspective of the tortured and heartbroken lover, yearning for that love interest, who has cruelly spurned them — for another or for no particular reason. But underneath that bitter sentiment is a heartbroken tell-off to that lover, to “miss me with that bullshit” before walking away from them for good with your sanity and dignity. “This song is about realizing someone close to you isn’t the person you thought you knew, and coming to terms with the fact that they may never share the same values as you,” SadGirl’s Lindes says of the song. “Getting to that point where you decide that it’s no longer worth the effort and it’s better to walk away with what’s important to you still intact.”

The members of the Los Angeles-based garage rock will be embarking on a tour. Check out the current collection of tour dates below.

Tour Dates

May 18 Elm Street Festival – Dallas, TX
May 24 Holland Project – Reno, NV
May 25 ORMF – Davis, CA
May 26 Slims – San Francisco, CA
July 11 Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles, CA

New Audio: Black Mountain Releases a Motorik-Styled Ripper

Stephen McBean is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he became involved in the Victoria, British Columbia music scene, forming his first band Jerk Ward in 1981. In 1984, the band recorded a demo that was re-released in 2009 as Too Young to Thrash. Jerk Ward evolved into Mission of Christ (MOC), who recorded a split 7 inch in 1987 — but two years later, the band broke up and McBean relocated to Vancouver, where he started Gus, a band that released two singles, a split EP and a full-length album, 1995’s The Progressive Science Of Breeding Idiots For A Dumber Society, which lead to McBean’s first experience with extensive touring.

In 1996 McBean asked Radio Berlin’s Joshua Wells to join his new band Ex Dead Teenager. Much like his first band Jerk Ward, Ex Dead Teenager eventually morphed into Jerk With a Bomb. Signing with Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar, the band released three albums — 1999’s Death To False Metal, 2001’s The Old Noise and 2003’s Pyrokinesis, which featured Dream on Dreary’s Amber Webber contributing vocals.

While McBean and Wells were still writing, recording and performing as Jerk With a Bomb in 2003, McBean started to demo material that included “Black Mountain” and by the following year, the duo began working on demos under the name Black Mountain with contributions from Webber, Matt Camirand (bass) and Jeremy Schmidt (keys). Those early demos eventually led to their self-titled debut album and a split 7 inch with Destroyer that featured “Bicycle Man,” and was released by Scratch Records and Jagjaguwar Records.

Building upon a growing profile, Black Mountain toured across North America and Europe and by the following June, the band released the 12″ single “Druganuat”/”Buffalo Swan” in the US. In August 2005, the band opened for Coldplay during their Twisted Logic Tour.

2008 was a huge year for the band, their sophomore album In The Future was a finalist for the 2008 Polaris Music Prize, and the album received a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Additionally, “Stay Free” was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.

By 2010, McBean relocated to Los Angeles, where they wrote and recorded their Randall Dunn and Dave Sardy-co-produced third album, 2011’s Wilderness Heart, anJ album that was long listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize and appeared on !earshot’s Top 50 chart.

2016 saw the release of their fourth album, the aptly titled IV. Since then the band has gone through a series of lineup changes and now features McBean along with Arjan Miranda, Rachel Fannan, Adam Bulgasem and Jermey Schmidt. Interestingly, during that same period McBean got his first proper driver’s license — and for him, it was as though he essentially became a teenager again, discovering a new sense of personal independence and freedom.

Now, as you may recall, the band’s forthcoming album Destroyer derives its name from the discontinued, single-run 1985 Dodge Destroyer muscle car, and reportedly the album is imbued with the wild freedom and newfound agency, anxiety and fear that comes from one’s first time behind the wheel. The serpentine, slow-burning, whiskey fueled, boogie strut “Boogie Lover” was meant to evoke cruising down the Sunset Strip late at night while drawing from space rock, doom metal and stoner rock simultaneously. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Licensed to Drive” evokes a sense of wild freedom  — of speeding down the highway with the music blaring at eardrum shattering levels while sonically drawing from krautrock, space rock, Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent, as the track is centered around a motorik pulse, shimmering synths, buzzing power chords and a razor sharp hook. Get in your car, play this one loud, man. 

I wrote quite a bit about  Raleigh, NC-based funk and soul artist and JOVM mainstay Jamil Rashad, best known for his acclaimed solo recording project Boulevards several years ago — and because some time has passed since I’ve personally written about him, I feel that it’s necessary for a bit of a refresher.

As the son of renowned jazz radio DJ, Rashad grew up in a musical household in which a passionate interest in music was fostered and encouraged. Unsurprisingly, a young Rashad listened to a wide variety of music including jazz, blues, R&B and funk. When the Raleigh-based JOVM mainstay was in his teens, he became a self-confessed “scene kid” and got into punk, hardcore and metal, which he admitted later influenced his solo production work.

After attending art school and playing in a couple of local bands, Rashad wound up returning to the sounds that first captured his heart and imagination — funk. Rashad began writing and recording what he has described as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move.,” developing a reputation for a sound that’s heavily indebted to 70s and 80s funk that has helped add his name to a growing list of artists in a contemporary neo-disco/neo-funk movement that includes acts like Dam-Funk, Escort, Mark Ronson, and others through the release of two full-length albums — 2016’s Groove and 2017’s Hurttown, USA.

Slated for a June release, Rashad’s forthcoming, third Boulevards album YADIG! is reportedly a world-building effort that paints aural portraits of love found on the dance floor, nights you hope will never end and the adrenaline-meets-sleep-deprived in-betweens as the sun is rising. The album’s latest single “Take It To The Top” is a funky strut centered by a sinuous bass line, scorching blasts of psych rock meets Prince-like guitars, thumping beats and Rashad’s self-assured yet sultry crooning that sonically brings Rick James, Prince and others to mind.

 

 

 

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstays Plague Vendor Release a Buzzing Psych Rock-like New Single

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Whittier, CA-based post-punk/ punk rock quartet Plague Vendor. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of f Brandon Blaine (vocals), Luke Perine (drums), Michael Perez (bass) and Jay Rogers (guitar) formed back in 2009, quickly developing a reputation locally and regionally for frenetic and raucous live sets. Eventually, they began playing an increasing number of live shows across California with those shows leading to 2014’s full-length debut  Free to Eat, an album that some critics described as terse, dark and thrashing post-punk.

Bloodsweat, the JOVM mainstays’ 2016 Stuart Sikes-produced sophomore album landed at number 2 on that year’s Best of List, thanks in part to frenetic and anthemic album singles  “ISUA (I Stay Up Anyway)“, “Jezebel” and “No Bounty,” which were delivered with a blistering and forceful swagger. Two years passed before the band released two singles “I Only Speak in Fiction,” and “Locomotive,” which were recorded with Epitaph Records’ head and Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz and Morgan Stratton, which served to revitalize the band and restore their focus before joining  acclaimed producer John Congleton for the By Night sessions.

Slated for a June 7, 2019 release through Epitaph Records, Plague Vendor’s third full-length album By Night reportedly finds the band stretching and warping their sound to evoke a merciless and unrelenting sense of tension and apprehension (perhaps, which manages to evoke our current sociopolitical moment). “New Comedown,” the third album’s first single was an explosive roar, centered around a propulsive rhythm section, thunderous drumming, layers upon layers of power chords, a mosh pit friendly hook and Blaine’s howled vocals — and while bearing a resemblance to the singles recorded with Gurewitz and Stratton, the song reveals some of the most confident and self-assured songwriting and playing of their growing catalog. By Night’s second single “All of the Above” was a shimmering yet brooding and tense bit of post-punk centered around buzzsaw-like guitars, a shout-along worth hook and a motorik-like groove — and  — and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to The Cars, the futuristic, sci-fi punk song captures a narrator, who has partied and fucked around to the point of losing what’s left of his sanity.

Interestingly, the album’s third and latest single “Let Me Get High/Low” is a serpentine take on stoner rock centered around buzzing and distorted power chords, thunderous drumming, vocals fed through distortion and delay pedals during the rousing hook — and while possessing a similar swagger to “No Bounty,” the song’s narrator sounds as though he’s at the end of his rope.