Category: New Audio

New Audio: Austin-based Doom Rockers The Well Release a Murky and Uneasy Ripper

Comprised of Ian Graham (guitar, vocals), Lisa Alley (bass, vocals) and Jason Sullivan (drums), the Austin TX-based heavy psych rock/heavy metal act The Well can trace their origins to when Graham was fired from his previous band. Determined to redirect his musical focus, Graham hooked up with Alley and the two began picking out riffs in their garage. Completing the lineup, Graham and Alley stole Sullivan from Graham’s old band — partially out of vengeance and partially out of karma. The members of the trio are huge fans of cult horror films, and are inspired by early 70s psych rock and proto-metal and as a result their material revels in dark themes and haunting echoes. Interestingly, with their first few releases the Austin-based trio have developed a reputation for a sound that has been compared to Black Sabbath, Sleep, Electric Wizard and Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats. And adding to a growing profile, the band has shared stages with the likes of Kadavar, Orchid, Fu Manchu, High on Fire, NAAM, Orange Goblin, Pentagram, Dead Meadow and others. 

Slated for an April 26, 2019 release through Riding Easy Records, The Well’s forthcoming, third album Death and Consolation reportedly may be the darkest and most intense album of the band’s growing catalog. As the band’s Ian Graham says in press notes, “This one is a little more personal. 2018 was a strange, dark year. A lot of change was going on in my life, there was a lot of depression and coming out of it over the last year.” And while darker, the album continues their ongoing collaboration with longtime producer and engineer Chico Jones and finds the band expanding upon their sound and approach, at points nodding at Joy Division and The Cure — but also while being a bit of a continuation of 2016’s critically applauded Pagan Science. Death by Consolation’s latest single is the monstrous and murky ripper “Raven.” Centered around enormous and extremely downtuned, power chords and bass chords,  thunderous drumming paired around Layne Staley-delivered vocals, the song evokes a sense of unease and dread, familiar to classic horror movies — and stumbling around graveyards late at night. But more important, the song captures a band that kicks ass, takes names and will frighten  the shit out of you. 

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New Audio:Copenhagen’s IRAH Releases an Atmospheric and Contemplative Single

With the release of 2016’s mini-album Into Dimensions, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based  duo IRAH, comprised of Stone Grøn (vocals) and Adi Zukanović (keys) quickly received attention for a unique take on atmospheric pop that’s ethereal yet earthy.

Building upon a growing profile nationally and internationally, the duo’s forthcoming Mads Brinch Nielsen and IRAH-co produced full-length debut Diamond Grid  is slated for a May 24, 2019 release through Tambourhinoceros Records. Written in between touring across Europe, the album features renowned drummer Seb Rochford, who has played with the band live, on all but one track, the album’s gorgeous first single “Unity of Gods.” Centered around a sparse yet propulsive arrangement of twinkling keys, hushed drumming, and ethereal and plaintive vocals singing lyrics about seeking oneness, the Danish duo’s latest single to my ears sonically bears an uncanny resemblance to Kate Bush and Junip/Jose Gonzalez — although as the duo’s Stine Grøn says of the song’s creative process and the song itself, “‘Unity of Gods’ was the very first song we made after our first release. The track started as a playful process but we ended up getting caught in its creation as we progressed into developing its form and musical story. The song is about how you long to stay in touch with both your self and nature as you feel disconnected to these natural elements because of digital disturbances.”

Throughout the bulk of my time as a music journalist, critic and blogger, I’ve managed to write about the New York-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, label head and longtime JOVM mainstay Anna Rose, and throughout that period of time, she has effortlessly and restlessly bounced back and forth between singer/songwriter folk, blues-tinged, power chord rock and twangy, country-tinged rock over the course of growing, critically applauded catalog that includes two EPs and two full-length albums — her self titled EP, her full-length debut, Nomad, 2013’s sophomore album Behold a Pale Horse and 2016’s Strays in the Cut EP.  Adding to a growing profile, the longtime JOVM mainstay has shared stages with a lengthy list of notable artists and acts including Ron Pope, Von Grey, Marc Cohn, Joan Osbourne, John Waite, Lez Zeppelin, Crystal Bowersox, Howie Day, Teddy Geiger, Tony Lucca, Lee DeWyze, Tyler Hilton and Live’s Ed Kowalczyk among others — and she’s spent time material for other artists, as well as for film and TV.

A couple of years have passed since I’ve written about Anna Rose, and her first single of this year, the Paul Moak-produced and Rose and Mando Saenz co-written “Nobody Knows I’m Here” is a slow-burning song that sounds indebted to beer soaked, honky tonk country and breezy, hook-driven 70s AM rock. In some way, the song is part of a gradual return to her Nomad-era singer/songwriter days while sounding as refined, self-assured as Behold a Pale Horse and Strays in the Cut. However, “Nobody Knows I’m Here” may arguably be one of the darker songs of Rose’s growing catalog, as it feels a bit like the lonely and world weary sigh of someone who has led a messy and complicated life, complete with small victories, crushing defeats, bitter regrets, dumb luck and bad luck, good ones who got away and bad ones who’ve stayed far too long. Subtly touching on themes of anonymity, the loss of ego and wounded pride, the song as Rose explains in press notes is “about choosing to envelop yourself fin darkness in order to find the light again.”

With the release of 2016’s I Fought Lovers EP, the up-and-coming, Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Katey Brooks quickly amassed both a national and international profile for a sound and songwriting approach that has been compared to Jeff Buckley with material off her debut EP receiving enthusiastic airplay on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and  the CBC, as well as praise from Billboard, Pride and The Advocate. Adding to a growing profile, Brooks has shared bills with an eclectic yet impressive list of artists that includes Newton Faulkner, Ghostpoet, Martin Simpson, Deaf Havana, Lamb‘s Lou Rhodes, Mike and the Mechanics, and Mystery Jets, and has played at some of the world’s biggest festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, the 2012 Paralympics and Australia’s National Folk Festival. She also has appeared on a compilation with Anais Mitchell, Ane Brun and Marissa Nadler and recorded a track with The Rolling StonesBill Wyman and Paloma Faith. Along with that Joss Stone and renowned recording engineer Stuart Bruce have considered themselves fans.

Brooks grew up inside a cult, and as child, she found refuge in music. “It was a very chaotic upbringing, full of some pretty colourful and sometimes unsavoury, characters. But when I sang, I felt free and connected. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my way of getting what I need to say out,” she reveals in press notes. She began singing gospel, old spirituals and the songs from the likes of John Lennon and Elvis Presley — but by the time sh was a teenager, she entertained her peers with soul renditions.

Interestingly, when she was 16, she turned down a spot at the renowned BRIT School. “It would be interesting to know what would have happened if I had gone there, but I try not to dwell on that,” the Bristol-based singer/songwriter and guitarist says in press notes. “I always think that you’re where you’re meant to be. And if I had gone, I probably would have ended up writing slightly less authentically to myself. But who knows, because if all the things that have happened in my life nevertheless happened, maybe I still would have written the way I do.”

When Brooks turned 20, she became extremely ill and her life was on pause as she was convalescing; but as she was convalescing she joined a songwriters group led by her friend, Strangelove‘s Patrick Duff. “We would get together and play our songs to each other. It was really therapeutic.” Around this time Brooks was convinced that she had to devote her time to music. “So one day I just put on my own gig at the (Bristol) Folk House,” she laughs. “I sort of became an artist and promoter overnight,” Brooks recalls.

Sadly, shortly after making the decision to focus on her music, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter experienced a turbulent period of heartbreak and tragedy: the year she turned 22, her mother became ill and died — and shortly after that, one of her best friends went missing and died. “That’s definitely had an effect on the course of my life, and my writing,” Brooks says in press notes. “People have come up to me after gigs, particularly after songs I wrote during that time, saying /there’s a lot of sadness in your songs’ and it’s like ‘well, yeah.’ But I guess I’m lucky that I have songs that I can write, as a means to deal with things.”

Along with those hardships, Brooks has struggled to come to terms with her own sexuality. “In my most recent work I’ve finally been able to sing directly about women instead of using the mysterious ‘you,'” Brooks mentions in press notes. “I’m a private person in a lot of ways and I never wanted to be a poster girl for anything. But a few years ago I just thought screw it; I want to sing completely honestly. It felt like a weight lifted.”

Brooks’ latest single is the soulful “Never Gonna Let Her Go.” Centered around an almost gospel-like backing vocals, Brooks effortlessly soulful vocal performance and an atmospheric arrangement of a looping 12 bar blues guitar and a propulsive rhythm section, the song nods at classic soul and The VeilsThe Pearl” as it’s a thoughtful mesh of craft, earnestness and ambitious songwriting. But at its core the song is an uplifting and powerful plea to the listener that being your true self is a revolutionary act. “We’re all going to walk this planet with different scripts in our heads, different upbringings, experiences and beliefs, and if we want to get along and be peaceful we need to accept that. Hate isn’t the answer in any situation – so I believe anyway,” Brooks said. She adds, “Judge me for my true failings, ask me to change those things that actually effect you, and I’ll hear that. But one thing I’ll never change, and one thing that is definitely not wrong with me, is my love for women”.

Last year, I had written a bit about the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based electro pop/trip hop act The Desert, and as you may recall, the act which is centered around the longtime collaboration between singer/songwriter Gina Leonard and producer/guitarist Tom Freyer can trace its origins to when Freyer had produced some of Leonard’s solo work. And as the story goes, while working together, the duo quickly hit upon a formula of Freyer taking the songs that Leonard had initially written with an acoustic guitar and adding layers of electronics and lush, detailed production.

Slated for a March 8, 2019 release, the acclaimed act’s forthcoming EP Winning You Back builds upon a busy 2018 that saw their first live dates, accompanied in the UK with live backing members Ryan Rogers (bass) and Jonny Parry (drums, electronics), a sold-out hometown show and a BBC Introducing session — and the EP comes right before their first appearance at this year’s SXSW. The EP’s latest single, the ethereal and atmospheric “Bitterness” is built around Leonard’s breathy and achingly tender vocals and shimmering synths and stuttering beats; however, unlike their previously released material, the song has a sense of sighing resignation. In press notes, the act’s Gina Leonard describes how the song is “about coming to terms with being screwed up over and accepting it, and moving forward because it won’t do any good to stew in bitterness. I had written some angry songs, but they’d didn’t sit right and didn’t have a good message, so I was happy when this one came out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sego Releases an Anthemic Radio Friendly Take on Punk

Over the past handful of years of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve written quite a bit about he Los Angeles, CA-based JOVM mainstays Sego. Initially comprised of Mapleton, UT-born founding duo Spencer Peterson and Thomas Carroll, the band expanded to a quartet with the addition of Alyssa Davey (bass) and Brandon McBride (guitar, keys) last year. 

Slated for an April 5, 2019 release through Roll Call Records, Sego’s long-awaited sophomore album Sego Sucks is partially inspired by extensive by extensive touring the band has done across North America, Europe and the UK and by the addition of the band’s newest members, which has made the band’s sound and approach much more focused while retaining a raucous spirit. The album’s latest single is the rowdy and anthemic “Shame.” Centered around a shout along worthy series of hooks, buzzing and distorted guitars, thumping beats and electronics and ironically delivered lyrics, the song finds the band moving towards radio friendly, rousingly anthemic punk — with a mischievous sense of aplomb to boot. 

The recently released band features the band playing in the studio but is shot in a series of rapid-fire stop-motion images that has the band rapidly changing clothes and instruments while appearing bored to the propulsive beat of the song. 

Raised in the Atlanta suburbs by Chinese immigrants, the Los Angeles-based electro pop producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Kenny Zhao studied classical piano and composition before he relocated to Southern California. Largely inspired by M83, Charlift, RHYE, Miguel, Washed Out, and Gorillaz, Zhao through his solo recording project, the aptly named Zhao had a breakthrough year last year, with tracks landing on Spotify‘s “Fresh Finds” and “Summer Heat” playlists, eventually reaching #9 on the Hype Machine charts. Adding to a growing profile, Zhao has contributed vocals on tracks by Eric Sharp, Armand Van Helden and Black Coffee — and he’s played at a number of venues across the Los Angeles area, including The Moroccan Lounge, The Satellite and at LA Chinatown’s Lunar New Year Festival.  And while his sound is evolving, he has generally taken a dance floor friendly path.

Building upon a growing profile, Zhao’s latest single is the summery “Feeling Today” will further cement his developing reputation for crafting breezy and funky synth pop, as the track is centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and Zhao’s sultry and soulful vocals. Sonically, the song is a slick amalgamation of 90s neo soul and 80s synth funk that manages to nod at some of Zhao’s influences; but thematically, the song touches upon treating every situation in life as valuable and necessary and putting aside fears of being taken advantage of and processing the idea that all people deserve love. That’s the message – that kindness will set you free. That resentment and fear put you in a cage, and the solution is to forgive yourself, forgive others and move on. There’s also an element of reassuring myself that whatever happens, the best thing I can do is operate within what I can control – honing my craft, and checking in with people I care about”, explains the Zhao.  “I’ve always viewed my songwriting process like a form of self-psychoanalysis…like finding out what I’ve really been thinking about.”

 

 

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada-born, Seattle, WA-based Jordan Cook (vocals, guitar) can trace the origins of his music career to when he was 15, playing with a blues rock trio, which performed at Montreux Jazz Festival. After recording a full-length album under his own name, Seven Deadly Sins, Cook began recording in Memphis with Matt Chamberlain and Soundgarden‘s Ben Shepherd; but around 2012 Cook relocated to Seattle, where he adopted the moniker Reignwolf. When Cook played his first official show as Reignwolf, he was accompanied by Joseph Braley (drums) and S. J. Kardash (bass).
Since their formation, the band has developed a reputation for a raw sound paired with a high energy live show that has earned them a devoted following, as well as appearances at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Glastonbury and Download and opening slots for the likes of Black Sabbath and Pixies. Following on the heels of a 34 date Fall 2018 North American tour, the Seattle-based trio’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated full-length debut Hear Me Out is slated for a March 1, 2019 release.

Hear Me Out‘s first single is the swaggering “Black and Red.” Co-written by Jordan Cook and Aqualung’s Matt Hales, the song is centered around enormous, arena rock friendly blues power chords, thundering drums, an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure and rousingly anthemic hooks. The song reveals (and captures) a band that’s ready to kick ass, take names, wreck stages and destroy eardrums.

The band will be touring throughout March and the tour includes two New York area dates — March 9, 2019 at Mercury Lounge and March 10, 2019 at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour Dates

FRIDAY, MARCH 1ST – SEATTLE, WA @ THE SUNSET

MONDAY, MARCH 4TH – LOS ANGELES @ MOROCCAN LOUNGE

THURSDAY, MARCH 7TH – CHICAGO, IL @ COBRA LOUNGE

SATURDAY, MARCH 9TH – NEW YORK, NY @ MERCURY LOUNGE

SUNDAY, MARCH 10TH – BROOKLYN, NY @ BABY’S ALL RIGHT

TUESDAY, MARCH 12TH – TORONTO, ON @ DRAKE UNDERGROUND

THURSDAY, MARCH 14TH – SATURDAY, MARCH 16TH – AUSTIN, TX @ SXSW

New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Release a Gritty and Funky Track Off the Eighth Brown Acid Compilation

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records ongoing collaboration on their increasingly expansive series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations Brown Acid. Each individual edition often compilation is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recored together in 30 or 40 years, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes for each of previous editions of the compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

By having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation, it can give the artists and their songs, a real, second chance at the attention and success that they originally missed. Plus in a very real sense, these songs can help fill in the larger picture of what was going on in and around the underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Following the critical and commercial success of its first seven editions, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records’ edition of 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock Brown Acid: The Seventh Trip is slated for release on April 20, 2019 (4/20 y’ll!) continuing what has become a bi-annual tradition for both labels — and this site. And much like its preceding editions, the eighth edition finds Barressi and Hall digging deeper and deeper into the well of hard rock, psych rock, proto-metal and pre-stoner rock primarily from the States — with the addition of a Canadian band. 

Brown Acid: The Eighth Trip’s first single “School Daze” is a track from Detroit’s Attack — or more precisely St. Clair Shores. The track is a seamless synthesis of MC5, Jimi Hendrix and Grand Funk Railroad, as it’s a strutting and gritty bit of power chord-fed groove that will blow the doors down. Listening to this, it’s a shame that this track wasn’t a massive radio hit; but it does get a second life here. Play it loud and rock out, y’all. 

Photo Ops is the folk-tinged, dream pop recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Terry Price. Price began Photo Ops as a way to find meaning within an onslaught of traumatic and life altering events — a sudden and series medical condition, the death of his father and the breakup of his longtime band Oblio. Naturally, all of those things wound up inspiring his Photo Ops debut, 2013’s How to Say Goodbye. 2016’s Patrick Damphier-produced Vacation was released to critical praise. Several songs off the album were licensed for film and TV, including the trailer for the motion picture People, Places, Things, several episodes of ABC’s Blood & Oil and CW’s Valor — and as a result, the album and its songs amassed several million streams on Spotify. He eventually signed a publishing deal with Secretly Canadian.

Like countless people, Price was shaken and dazed by the 2016 election. He stopped touring for his sophomore effort, went dark on social media and left Nashville, where he lived for 15 years and relocated to Los Angeles. I needed to shed my skin,” Price says in press notes. In fact, the change of scenery became a sudden need both creatively and spiritually for the acclaimed singer/songwriter. “I needed to look outside myself for inspiration,” Price explains. “It’s a matter of survival to know that there is beauty in the world. So that’s my mission now: to show that there still is beauty in the world. I honestly don’t know how else to write right now.”

Slated for release later this year, Price’s third Photo Ops effort, Pure at Heart was partially inspired by Price’s time listening and studying Bob Dylan‘s Sirius XM show, Bob Dylans’s Theme Time Radio Hour while driving through the Southwest. “They were mostly old songs. What struck me was the spirit that was behind them. They’re just people in a room with a microphone, so they would have to self-correct and really conjure a spirit in the moment. Something about that felt so vital to me. It sounds like a time and place,” Price says. And as a result, the forthcoming album, which continues Price’s ongoing collaboration with Patrick Damphier is based around a production that emphasizes a sense of immediacy that’s a sort of Jack Kerouac-like first thought, best thought fashion. Along with that, the arrangements throughout the album’s material are also based around that same sense of arrangement with Price using an intentionally limited set of instruments: one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar, a vintage, 60s Ludwig drum kit, a stand-up piano, a Hofner bass and a small Casiotone keyboard. And although for this album Price is working remotely with the Nashville-based Damphier, the album’s songs were recorded as soon as they were written.

Reportedly one of the biggest and perhaps most noticeable changes throughout the album’s material is in Price’s voice with the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter at points throughout the album singing in a relaxed, easy-going upper register. “It’s partly an accident of location,” Price explains. “In Nashville, I had a garage. I could go out and make as much noice as I wanted. In L.A., you have to be more thoughtful about your neighbors.” Unsurprisingly, the need to sing quietly opened up the opportunity to experiment with space and restraint. But let’s move on a bit, eh?

Pure at Heart’s latest single is the buoyant “July.” Nodding a bit at Full Moon Fever-era Tom Petty and 70s AM rock, the song is centered around an arrangement of bouncing and propulsive bass, shimmering guitar, a breezy and infectious hook and Price’s plaintive and ethereal vocals. Throughout the song, its narrator sighs with a mix of clinical and ironic detachment and compassion over the end of a relationship. But interestingly enough, the song’s viewpoint doesn’t come from moving on and forward with someone else; it’s actually from the astute recognition that all things end at some point or another, no matter what you do.