Category: New Audio

Forming back in 2009 under the name Les Poules a Colin (Colin’s Chickens, a reference to a popular French folk song “La Poule a Colin), the Montreal-based bilingual indie rock/indie folk act Rosier (French for rosebush)  — Colin Savoie-Levac (mandolin, banjo, lap steel), Marie Savoie-Levac (bass), Sarah Marchand (vocals, piano), Eleonore Pitre (guitar) and Beatrix Methe (violin, vocals) — have developed a reputation for reimagining age-old folk songs in a fresh context. The band recently changed the name after making the decision to take their music and their story in a new direction. In fact, as the band told Atwood Magazine, the rosebush embodies the quintessential values of an ever-inventive group of musicians, who are eager to celebrate life as it is — the peaceful coexistence of strength and vulnerability. “Rosier is our true selves,” the band said to  Atwood Magazine. “We are romantic people [ . . .] who evolve and grow together as one.” 

“Vie Pneible,” (which according to the band’s Beatrix Methe translates as “A Painful Life’) the first single off the band’s forthcoming self-titled EP continues the band’s ongoing thematic concern of time and its passing that sonically and thematically brings Neil Young’s “Old Man” to mind — but centered around an old-timey arrangement of shimmering acoustic guitar, plinking keys, a soaring hook and a gorgeous harmony. Interestingly the song reportedly deals with temporality and mortality in a decidedly overt fashion, which makes the song a sort of bittersweet musing on the passing of time, of getting older, and wondering what you’ve done with yourself and your life. But the song isn’t completely melancholy; there’s an implicit understanding that the passing of time generally means the accumulation of experience and wisdom — and in turn, new  perspectives.

 

 

 

 

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Led by twin sisters Cat (guitar, vocals) and  Carrie Biell (bass, vocals) and joined by Jude Miqueli (drums) and Darcey Zoller (cello, synth), the Seattle-based indie rock act Moon Palace can trace some of its origins back to the unique musical bond the Biell Sisters cultivated as the children of Deaf parents. Interestingly, with release of 2017’s self-titled, full-length debut, the members of the Seattle-based band drew comparisons to Beach House and Warpaint, as they crafted hook-driven material centered around sometimes discordant guitars and gorgeous dual harmonies. Along with receiving praise from the likes of City Arts Magazine and KEXP, Moon Palace has shared stages with Thunderpussy, Y La Bamba and Sera Cahoone among others.

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release, the band’s soon-to-be released album Shadowcast thematically finds a balance between light and dark. “Shadow self and trying to be positive through interactions with people you love,” the members of the band elaborate in press notes. “Outer world to the innermost personal world. Balancing the sun sign and moon sign. Knowing your inner personal self within the context of the universe.” Throughout the recording sessions, band members would text each other songs by Sonic Youth, Talking Heads, Duran Duran and Big Thief, all of which inspired and shaped the album’s sound and overall aesthetic.

Interestingly, Shadowcast‘s second and latest single “Who You Are” is a shimmering and contemplative song that finds the band effortlessly balancing intimate emotions within an atmospheric and cinematic sound featuring shimmering and slashing guitars, gorgeously ethereal vocals, a soaring hook and driving rhythm section. And while bearing a resemblance to Beach House, the song possesses an uncertain and uneasy air, as it focuses on navigating difficult relationships and questioning whether the other person is showing their true self or not.

 

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written a bit about Ivan Howard a prolific singer/songwriter,who has spent extensive stints writing, recording and touring with The Rosebuds, fronting the acclaimed indie supergroup GAYNGS, releasing material with his alter-ego Howard Ivans — and writing for Kanye West and Bon Iver. Late last year, Howard wound up in his Portland home with an unusual quiet patch in his schedule. However, as the story goes, that quiet patch didn’t last very long.

Howard found himself reconnecting with longtime friends Robert Rogan and Brian Weeks. “We met my freshman year of college. Brian heard I could sing, and cornered me in a stairway til I sang “Let Love Rule.” We ended up in our first band together, and he helped me realize that life wasn’t all basketball. I might be ok at music, too.” Howard recalls in press notes. Weeks introduced Howard to Rogan, and the three became close, with Weeks eventually joining Ivans in The Rosebuds as a touring musician, in between stints in Wilmington indie bands with Rogan. Coincidentally, around the same time that Howard reconnected with his old friends, Rogan and Weeks had begun working on a new project together. “We recorded 11 songs with scratch vocal tracks, but neither Robert nor I were completely comfortable singing on them,” Brian Weeks says in press notes. Rogan and Weeks decided to send the tracks they worked on to Howard — with the hopes of getting his take on the material.

“When they asked me to sing on ‘Run,’ I originally said ‘You don’t need me, just get Robert,’ admits Howard. “I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes and I liked Robert’s voice. But they kept pushing and I figured, it’s just one song.” Of course, it’s rarely just one song.  Once Robert heard Ivan’s take, he insisted he sing them all. “It was like somebody said ‘Here’s a CD of Greatest Hits of this genre of music without vocals that no one’s ever heard,” Howard explains. “Surprise! You get to sing them!’” The end result is the trio’s latest collaborative project together De La Noche.

De La Noche can trace its origins to Rogan and Weeks’ adopted hometown of Wilmington,  NC. During the middle of 2015 Rogan found himself rudderless. He had gone through a divorce and found that he had a lot of time on his hands — with few distractions. He began playing around and writing material. Feeling isolated, Rogan contacted his pal Weeks to collaborate on material that they wanted to feel closer to the 80s synth pop they’d grown up adoring than the guitar-driven indie rock bands they’ve long played in. Unsurprisingly, Howard, whose solo work also draws from 80s synth pop and soul, found it easy to slip his imitable vocals into the material Rogan and Weeks had been working on. “I tried to let the music dictate the sentiment of each song and just created a character that could fill all these melodic parts,” Howard explains in press notes. 

When asked about how De La Noche differs from his other projects, Howard says that ‘with most of my other projects, I’m the one that usually starts the song, travels with it the long road, and grinds it out ’till it’s finished. By the end, even though I love the songs, I still get tired of them — or they take on a different meaning from the struggles I was going through at the time. With the De La Noche, I just came in 2/3 of the way there. The songs were already written, and Matt Douglas of The Mountain Goats fame had already played his guest sax licks all over it. All I did was just sing them with my slant.” That slight bit of emotional distance from the material reportedly allowed Howard to take a far more adventurous approach in his vocal delivery. 

The project’s full-length debut Blue Days, Black Nights is slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Get Loud Recordings, and as you may recall, last month I wrote about the album’s slinky opener and first single “Avenues,” a track that to my ears was one part Quiet Storm R&B and one part Manifesto and Avalon-era Roxy Music. “Dreams,” Blue Days, Black Nights‘ latest single continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor — slinky and sultry Quiet Storm R&B-inspired pop  centered by shimmering guitars, atmospheric synths, twinkling keys, thumping beats and Howard’s plaintive vocals. And the addition of vocoder effected vocals on the song’s hook completes the retro vibes.

Interestingly, the song may arguably be the most emotionally ambivalent of the album’s singles so far — while seemingly upbeat, there’s an undercurrent of uncertainty, bitterness and loneliness that gives the song a razor sharp edge. “This song was written during the darkest period of my life,” De La Noche’s Robert Rogan recalls. “It was like someone muted the sun out just over top of me. Like, ‘Fuck you, Robert.’ The only time that was really bearable was when I was unconscious and dreaming. I hated waking up. The fact that the song sounds upbeat and optimistic is intentionally ironic. Which in turn actually turned the song into something more positive in the end. Maybe I was subconsciously telling myself to hold on? Actually now I look forward to getting up every day. I just went back to daydreaming now like I used to do before that long winter.”

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Blackwater Holylight Release a Trippy Headbanger

The acclaimed Portland, OR-based heavy psych act Blackwater Holylight was formed by founding member Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass) after her previous band broke up, as a way to begin experimenting with what her own version of “heavy” should and could be both sonically and emotionally — while celebrating vulnerability in all of its form. In fact, the primary idea for the project was to have vulnerability be in the driver’s seat when it came to the creative process. Throughout most of her musical career, Faris was often the only female in many of her bands and she desperately wanted to see how it was to work exclusively with women. 

The band released their critically applauded self-titled full-length debut last year. And after extensive touring to support the album, the members of the JOVM mainstay act honed their sound and identity, with their live set being about the slow build, as their sound has evolved a bit 

The band released their critically applauded self-titled full-length debut last year and after extensive touring to support the album, they’ve honed their sound and identity — with their live set being about the slow build, as their sound has evolved a bit. In fact, as a heavy band they do something unique: their songs aren’t anchored to riffs, but rather riffs come in and go in rippling waves that surface throughout material that’s generally meditative and entrancing. But they also focus on building tension and intrigue throughout the song. 

Slated for an October 11, 2019 release through RidingEasy Records, Blackwater Holylight’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Veils of Winter finds the band with a different lineup — Faris (bass, vocals), Laura Hopkins (guitar/vocals) and Sarah McKenna (synths) along with the band’s newest members Mikayla Mayhew (guitar) Eliese Dorsay (drums). And perhaps a result of the new lineup, the band’s sound and writing process have changed quite a bit. “The process of this album was vastly different from our first record,” says Faris. “One, because we recorded it over the course of a few weeks, whereas the first record was over the course of about a year. And two, this album was a true collaboration between the five of us. Each of us had extremely equal parts in writing and producing, we all bounced ideas off each together, and we all had a say in what was going on during every part of the process.”

“One of our favorite things about this album is that because it was so collaborative, we didn’t compartmentalize ourselves into one vibe.” She continues. “It’s heavy, psychedelic, pop, shoegaze, doom, grunge, melodic and more. The whole process was extremely organic and natural for us, we were just being ourselves.”

 “Motorcycle” Veils of Winter’s finds the band balancing fuzzy, power chords, gorgeous melodicism and a motorik groove to create a unique take on heavy music that’s one part doom metal, one part shoegaze that manages to reveal subtle nuances on multiple listeners while being headbang worthy. 

Formed back in 2005, the New York-based rock/punk act Baby Shakes — Mary  (lead vocals), Judy (guitar, vocals), Claudia (bass, vocals) and Ryan (drums) have released a handful of one-off singles, a singles compilation, a 10 inch heart-shaped EP and three full-length albums that have firmly established their sound — melodic vocals paired with fuzzy power cords that generally draws from the likes of Ramones, Chuck Berry, 60s Motown-era girl groups.

The members of the band have toured across the US, Japan, China, Ireland, the UK and the European Union and shared stages with the likes of The Romantics, The Boys, The Shadows of Knight, The Undertones, The Barracudas, Protex, Black Lips, Paul Collin’s Beat, Iggy Pop and a growing list of others. Interestingly, the New York-based punk act’s forthcoming album Cause a Scene is slated for a September 20, 2019 release, and the album is reportedly indebted to the original wave of punk — in particular, The Nerves, The Kids, early Bangles and The Go-Gos, The Runaways, as well as the Ramones.

Clocking in at exactly two minutes, “Nowhere Fast,” Cause a Scene‘s lead single is a breakneck bit of fuzzy, old-school punk with an infectious, power pop-like hook — and while clearly indebted to Ramones, Go-Gos and the like, the song is one part snotty and in your face, one part sweet, and one part cynical scowl, delivered with the self-assuredness of old pros.

 

Brooklyn-based grunge rock/punk rock-band Pom Pom Squad — Mia Berrin (vocals), Mari Ale Figeman (bass), Shelby Keller (drums) and Ethan Sass (guitar) — have quickly become staples in the local DIY scene for a modern take on the beloved 90s grunge sound that finds the band balancing solemnity and whimsy, old school punk aesthetics and emotional vulnerability — and for a raucous live show that they’ve honed playing alongside the likes of Soccer Mommy, Adult Mom, Long Neck and others.

The up-and-coming purveyors of what they’ve dubbed Quiet Grrl punk will be releasing their sophomore EP Ow on September 6, 2019. The EP will include the previously released, “Heavy Heavy,” a track that received attention from StereogumPaste, Under the Radar, Highsnobiety and Thrillist, as well as airplay on SiriusXM Alt Nation. Building upon a growing profile and momentum, Pom Pom Squad’s latest single “Honeysuckle” is an anthemic track, centered around fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming and a big hook within a quiet, loud, quiet song structure. And while possessing a mosh pit friendliness, the track finds the band crafting boldly earnest material that accurately captures the mindset and emotions of a modern, young woman.

 

Sophia Exiner is a Melbourne, Australia-based indie pop singer/songwriter and producer, best known as Phia. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may recall that Exiner initially received international attention for a genre defying, playfully experiential sound centered around loop pedals and kalimba, an African thumb piano-like instrument popularly used throughout sub-Sahara Africa. Building upon a growing international profile, Exiner has played hundreds of shows across Europe, including appearances at Melt Festival, Berlin Festival and Fusion Festival.

Several years have passed since I’ve personally written about Exiner, but in that period she has released a handful of singles, two EPs, her full-length debut, 2016’s The Ocean of Everything — and she’s the founder of a the contemporary choir ensemble, Melbourne Indie Voices. Exiner’s latest single, the infectious and  sugary pop confection “Full Circle” is centered around a looping, 12 bar blues guitar line contributed by her longtime collaborator Josh “Josh The Cat” Teicher, handclap-led percussion,  a 50 person choral arrangement that weaves itself in and out of the mix, Exiner’s self-assured vocal delivery and an infectious hook. And while being a sugary sweet and carefully crafted pop confection, the song thematically asks an important question that must be considered as you get older: How can we honor our childhood aspirations through the weathered and wearied lens of adulthood?

 

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Long Beard Releases a Slow-Burning Mazzy Star-like Single

Earlier this month, I wrote about Leslie Bear, a New Brunswick, NJ-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who writes, records and performs as Long Beard. With the release of her full-length debut, 2015’s Sleepwalker, Bear received national attention for crafting shimmering and thoughtful dream pop, and for an album that thematically explored what constitutes home — particularly, how it can extend beyond the physical quality of its roof and four walls, to the comfort and familiarity of the people in it. And how all of that can influence one’s sense of self, stability and security. 

Four years have passed sine the release of Bear’s Long Beard debut. And that period marked a significant, transitional time for her: a career move lead her to return to her hometown, long after most of her friends and peers have moved away. And as a result, the feelings of stasis, nostalgia and confusion have deeply influenced the material on her forthcoming Craig Hendrix-produced sophomore album Means to Me. Slated for a September 13, 2019 release through Double Double Whammy Records, the album reportedly will mark both a major bit of artistic growth and maturation in her overall sound, aesthetic and approach with the material nodding at jangle pop, dream pop and shoegaze paired with her ethereal vocals.

“Sweetheart,” Means to Me’s lead single, was a shimmering bit of 4AD-era jangle pop paired with a soaring hook, delivered with a growing self-assuredness — but the song is underpinned by a wistful and bittersweet nostalgia over a lost relationship that lingers in your present. The album’s latest single, album title track “Means to Me” is a slow-burning and spectral track that’s one part Mazzy Star, one part 4AD-era jangle pop as the song is centered around shimmering guitars, a soaring hook and Bear’s achingly tender, ethereal vocals. And much like its immediate predecessor, the track continues a run of material that evokes the lingering ghosts of nostalgia and regret. 

Live Footage: Influential Post Punk Act Returns with a Reworked and Remixed Version of a Live Favorite

Minimal Compact, comprised of Berry Sakharof (guitar, keys, vocals), Malka Spiegel (bass, keys, vocals), Samy Birnbach, a.k.a. DJ Morpheus (vocals), Rami Fortis (guitar, vocals) and Max Franken (drums), initially formed in Amsterdam back in 1980. The band were part of the original post-punk explosion — and interestingly enough, they have long been considered one of the genre’s most unique. The members of Minimal Compact developed a sound centered around propulsive rhythms, spacious bass lines, lush keys, mesmerizing guitar lines and vocal melodies with a Middle Eastern inflection through the release of a couple of ground-breaking and influential albums, including 1984’s Deadly Weapons, which featured the club hit “Next One Is Real” and their most commercially successful album, 1985’s Raging Souls. 

In their short time together, the members of Minimal Compact toured around the world, from Poland to Japan, gaining a reputation for energetic, unpredictable and intense live shows. However, their studio recordings seldom captured their live sound and energy. The band broke up in 1988 with each of its individual members continuing onwards with a variety of creative projects including releasing solo efforts, hosting radio shows, having  art exhibitions, collaborating with a number of artists, DJ’ing, running record labels, hosting TV shows and the like. But during the next 20 years, their influence began to grow exponentially. In fact, by the time the band reunited for a handful of shows in 2004, they had begun to be recognized as influential originators. Since 2004, the members of the band have reunited for live shows just a handful of times — but each and every time, the individual members of the band recognize an undeniable magical quality between them. 

Recently, the members of Minimal Compact reconvened and went into the studio with their longtime producer and collaborator Colin Newman to finally capture their live sound with several of their signature songs being re-recorded using a mix of live recordings and studio-tooled performances — with the end result being the band’s forthcoming album Creation is Perfect. 

Slated for an October 25, 2019 release through the band’s own Minimal Compact label, the album will reportedly be a timely reminder of how essential and forward-thinking the band has been — and still is. Interestingly, Creation is Perfect’s first single is a reworked version of a live favorite, “Statik Dancin,” that captures the feel of their live set while retains the original’s spastic and fidgeting energy, angular hooks and dance floor friendly groove. But the new version also features a slick, studio polish reminiscent of Gang of Four’s Return the Gift. 

“We still play “Statik Dancin’” like we always did: driving, minimal, a bit moronic but still catchy,” the band’s Malka Spiegel says in press notes. “This version has a combination of the energy of the live version plus a fresh sounding production”.