Category: rock

New Video: Budapest’s Ivan and the Parazol Releases an Arena Rock Friendly Single Paired with Slick Visuals

Last November, I wrote about the Budapest, Hungary-based indie rock quartet Ivan and the Parazol, and as you may recall the act which is currently comprised of Vitáris Iván (vocals), Balla Máté (guitar), Beke István (keys) and Simon Bálint (drums) can trace their origins to when its founding members along with Tarnai János (bass) met at a private music school back in 2010. And since their formation, the Hungarian rock act has released three full-length albums, opened for Deep Purple, played SXSW twice, played Reeperbahn Festival, Eurosonic Nooderslag, and the Sziget Festival main stage as well as hundreds of shows internationally across Europe. Adding to a growing national and international profile the act was nominated for an MTV Hungary Brand New Award in 2010, won an MTV Europe Music Award for Best Hungarian act in 2014. Also their single “Together” was named the Sziget Festival anthem.  

Last year was an eventual year for the Hungarian rock band: they celebrated their eighth year together, and in that time, the band cemented a reputation for being at the forefront of their homeland’s growing, contemporary rock and indie rock scenes. Building upon their growing profile, the Budapest-based rock act’s Wil Anspach-produced fourth, full-length album Exotic Post Traumatic finds the band ambitiously expanding upon the sound and songwriting approach that has won them attention in the homeland — with the intention of winning ears and audiences across the rest of the European Union and the States. Exotic Post Traumatic’s slow-burning, first single “Nr. 1003” was a slick and seamless mix of glam rock, psych rock and arena rock that seemed to draw from The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Tame Impala — and while seemingly sunny, the song has a subtle darkness to it; after all the song focuses on the band moving froward with their lifelong dream without one of their closest friends. And while there’s some guilt about moving forward, there’s also the hope that their friend will be able to join them on their incredible journey. 

The album’s latest single “Changin'” is a straightforward arena rock track features an enormous power chord-led hook, a thundering backbeat and Vitáris Iván’s sultry  baritone. And while to my ears, the track sounds like early INXS, the song is centered by an overwhelming positivity — that the changes the song’s narrator feels he’s going through is part of a necessary part of his personal evolution. As the band explains in press notes that “‘Changin’ could be the title of the whole album, cause the last two years have embodied this concept. The band, our music, and style of song-writing developed and evolved so much. This song was inspired by a new relationship, but of course the desired love is hard to reach, especially when the different factors of life and personal experiences can make it harder to materialise. Our band and our bond is a relationship too that goes through evolutions and difficulties. So, you have to trust your instinct, and the change will make you better.” 

The recently released video follows a beautiful and stylish woman as she goes to an artist loft — at first she vamps in an elevator before heading to an art gallery. Next door, the members of Ivan and the Parazol are jamming out. Much like the video for “Nr. 1003,” the slickly shot video creates the impression that the band are part of their country’s — and in turn, their hometown’s — effortlessly cool. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Blues Rock Act The Blue Stones Release a Disturbing and Timely Video for Arena Rock Friendly “Black Holes (Solid Ground)”

Comprised of high school friends Tarek Jafer (vocals, guitar) and Justin Tessier (drums, percussion, backing vocals), the up-and-coming alt rock duo The Blue Stones can trace their origins to when the duo, who had attended college together decided that they should start a musical project together. While being among an increasing number of blues-tinged rock duos including The Black Keys, The White Stripes, Royal Blood, and others, the duo cite Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, The Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper, MUTEMATH, My Morning Jacket, Jay-Z, Kanye West, J. Cole, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King as influences on their overall sound and aesthetic.

Jafar and Tessier spent seven years honing and perfecting their sound, during which they wrote and recorded an independently released EP. As the duo’s Tarek Jafar says in press notes, “It takes a lot to be a success. You have to stay proud and focused.” Building upon several years of hard work and dedication, the duo’s full-length debut Black Holes was released earlier this year— and the album, which features “Rolling With The Punches,” a single that has received placements on USA Network‘s Suits, Showtime‘s Shameless and ESPN‘s Monday Night Football and the attention-grabbing lead single “Black Holes (Solid Ground),” which has amassed 8 million streams, will further cement the duo’s growing profile for  playing blues rock that as the duo’s Justin Tessier says is “lean, raw, tight, without a wasted note.” Thematically, the album as Jafar explains is “. . . about being a young adult and entering the real world from a sheltered environment, like college. Feeling torn between taking the secure path or doing something that might be riskier but you’re passionate about . . . following what you love as opposed to sticking to the straight and narrow.”

Over course of the year playing across the national festival circuit with stops at Carolina Rebellion with MUSE and Queens of the Stone Age, and at Northern Invasion, Winnetka Music Festival and Bonnaroo Festival.  But let’s talk about the aforementioned, arena rock friendly “Black Holes (Solid Ground),” which is centered around big, bluesy power chords, thundering drums and anthemic hooks — and while clearly indebted to classic Delta blues, The Black Keys, The White Stripes and early Black Sabbath but with a subtly psych rock-leaning that reveals a twist on a familiar and winning formula.

Directed by Jason Lester and filmed in Los Angeles, the first official video from the band’s full-length debut is provoking, and considering the recent news stories about migrants and refugee seekers being tear gassed at our borders — disturbing and timely. As Lester says in press notes about the video treatment,  “When the band told me about how their great track was an exploration of the battles we fight within ourselves, my mind went instantly to Stanley Milgram’s infamous shock experiments of the early 1960s,” says director Jason Lester. “Using the setup of his obedience tests as a jumping off point, we constructed a visual representation of the struggle with the self — a person facing their own image in a mirror, pushed to the brink by a choice that must be made.”

New Video: Acclaimed British Act Slaves Release a Blistering Take on Suburban Consumerism

With the release of their first two critically applauded and commercially successful albums — 2015’s Mercury Prize Top 10 nominated-Are You Satisfied and 2016’s UK Top Ten Take Control, the Royal Tunbridge, Wells, Kent, UK-based punk duo Slaves, comprised of Laurie Vincent (guitar, bass, vocals) and Issac Holman (vocals, drums) have developed a reputation for a sound that meshes elements of early British punk, garage rock and the blues. The band’s third full-length album Acts of Fear and Love was released earlier this year,  and it continues their run of commercially successful albums as it landed on the UK Top Ten — and the album’s title is inspired by a comment, once made by Issac Holman’s college teacher: “There’s no such thing as hate — just acts of fear and love.” And perhaps unsurprisingly, the album in some way reflects the fact that fear and love — primarily fear, may be the among the biggest and most constant motivators in the world at the moment. 

Acts of Fear and Love’s latest single “Magnolia” is a burst of blistering, 77 punk-influenced punk with enormous, arena rock-friendly hooks that’s centered around a sneering take down of bland, suburban consumerism — and a tongue-in-cheek tribute to boring and increasingly ubiquitous color, which has found its way into an overwhelming majority of UK homes. 

The recently released video for “Magnolia” finds the members of Slaves as house painters, painting houses in the bland color that equally bland people desiring in their suburban homes, emphasizing the household’s boring and empty life. And in some way, it’s a glimpse into the duo’s life if they didn’t pursue a career in music.  

New Audio: Mother Feather Releases an Arena Rock Friendly Ripper

Comprised of founding and primary duo Ann Courtney and Lizzie Carena, along with Chris Foley and Gunnar Olsen, the New York-based rock act Mother Feather formed back in 2010 and since their formation they’ve developed a reputation for swaggering and epic songs that some have said invoke Marc Bolan, David Bowie and To Bring To You My Love-era PJ Harvey. And while that can debated, the band’s sophomore album Constellation Baby is slated for a November 11, 2018 release through Metal Blade Records/Blacklight Media, and the album’s second and latest single “Snakebite” will further the act’s growing reputation for crafting anthemic, arena rock centered around enormous power chords, thundering drumming and Ann Courtney’s powerhouse vocals.  Interestingly, the track manages to simultaneously nod at 80s hair metal and classic rock, complete with a coked-up, balls to the wall swagger. 

As the band’s Ann Courtney explains of the song, “‘An homage to the evil impulse and the speed of its ambush, I wrote ‘Snakebite’ in a hot 20 minutes. With its production setting it in the cinematic imagination of an 80s punk cult-film, this is the riotous theme song for your psycho ex-girlfriend with an axe to grind.”

Led by sibling duo and founding members David (guitar, vocals) and Rylee Taggart (synth, vocals) along with Joey Kane (drums) and Ryan Wiles (bass, guitar, vocals), the Wakefield, Quebec, Canada-based quartet Rebelle quickly received a national profile with the release of the genre-bending “Hide,” which landed on CBC Searchlight’s Top 10 for consecutive weeks and eventually landed on Spotify Canada’s New Music Friday playlist. Building upon a growing profile in their native Canada, the band’s latest single “Still Pretty” finds the band’s sound meshing elements of synth-led New Wave with an intro that recalls The Fixx’s “Red Skies at Night,” rousing, arena rock friendly hooks, power chords and a gritty grunge rock-like vocal within a radio friendly yet expansive song structure.

Throwback: Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”/Happy First Day of School

Today is the first day of school for public schoolers across New York City, and as a product of the New York Public School system (PS 206 in Rego Park, Stephen A. Halsey JHS/JHS 157 in Rego Park and Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows), the first day of school brings back a lot of fond memories. 
Now, it’s been an almost annual tradition in which I dedicate Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” on the first day of school — both for those truly dedicated teachers, and for the knuckleheads who will likely have some kind of crush on them. 

Happy first day of school, everyone!

New Video: The Bones of J.R. Jones Release Gritty Visuals for Anthemic and Bluesy Single “I See You”

With the release of  2014’s Dark Was the Yearling and 2016’s Spirit Furnace and Ones to Keep Close, the Upstate New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and creative mastermind behind The Bones of J.R. Jones, Jonathan Linaberry has developed a reputation for crafting gritty, garage rock and blues-tinged soul — and unsurprisingly, Linaberry’s third, Rob Niederpreum-produced Bones of J.R. Jones album Ones To Keep Close, which was released earlier this year, further cements the Upstate New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s reputation for crafting gritty, garage rock and blues-tinged soul. The album’s latest single power chord-based inspired “I See You,” a track that is centered around rousing, arena rock-like, anthemic hooks and a stomping, down home blues stomp reminiscent of The Black Keys and others. 

Directed by Tobias Nathan, the recently released video was filmed in Brooklyn (it looks like Bushwick to me) to specifically emphasize the track’s gritty vibe. And as Linaberry say of the video’s treatment, “The idea behind this video was all about letting the music take over. We didn’t want to be overly serious or precious with the video. We just wanted the song to move people.”  The video begins by following a brother with an awesome ‘fro, smoking a cigarette as he bops along,  plays air guitar and lip syncs to the song when he encounters a small group of women, who initially are so pissed that a bottle is flung — and then they start rocking out hard. These women are rocking out so hard that they don’t notice the two men, who have been chasing each other and continue a vicious fight within feet of them.  If that doesn’t evoke old New York, I’m not sure what would.