Consisting of Olly Dean (vocals, guitar), Jonny Wright (bass) and Chris Kidd (drums), the British rock trio Dopamine formed back in early 2015 and since their formation they’ve developed a reputation for a boozy, power chord-based, arena rock friendly sound heavily influenced by the likes of Royal Blood, Kings of Leon, Foo Fighters, Band of Skulls, Silversun Pickups and Nirvana — but while incorporating elements of the blues and country. And as the trio mentioned by email, they’ve just finished their debut EP, which features the anthemic, Ten and Vs. era Pearl Jam and early Soundgarden-like bruiser “Remedy,” a track that the band says is about a familiar situation to some at least — the end of a toxic relationship that in some small and nagging way feels as though it was kind of good.
Initially formed back in 2013 in Boston, the Los Angeles-based rock duo Migrant Motel, comprised of Peruvian-born David Stewart, Jr. (vocals, bass, guitar) and Mexican-born Chava (drums and live loops) have developed a reputation for a power chord-based arena rock friendly sound, largely influenced by the likes of Royal Blood, MUSE, The Struts, Grandson, Foals and Foo Fighters. So far, 2018 has been a breakthrough year for the band, as “New Religion,” off their Peder Etholm Idsoe-produced full-length debut Album One has received over 350,000 Spotify streams — and building upon the growing buzz, the band released the album’s second single “Blue,” a swaggering and self-assured track that that will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for crafting an enormous, arena rock sound centered around the blues, rock and metal.
The recently released video for “Blue” is comprised of live footage shot while the band was relentlessly touring the country — and it gives you a sense of the up-and-coming band’s live set.
Over the past few months, I’ve written a bit about the Jönköping, Sweden-based trio SVVAMP, and the band which is comprised of longtime friends Adam Johansson, Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren can trace their origins to a mutually shared love of rock, folk and the blues — and the band since its formation has received praise for a classic rock-inspired, heavy psych sound that has drawn comparisons to Cream, Eric Bell-era Thin Lizzy, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse but with an unpretentious, uncontrived vibe. Or in other words, while clearly drawing from the sounds of the late 60s and early 70s, the Swedish rockers aren’t in it for irony-fueled shits and giggles, there’s real soul and heart in what they do and how they do it. And as a result, the Swedish trio’s self-titled debut landed in the Top 20 Albums of 2016 in the Doom Charts consortium of music journalists, critics and radio stations.
SVVAMP 2, the Swedish trio’s highly-anticipated sophomore, full-length effort is slated for a June 8, 2018 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album finds the band making the massive, technological jump from self-recording on a 4-track tape deck to a 6-track tape deck, which allows the band to expand upon their overall sound while improving its fidelity. Interestingly, SVVAMP’s move from 4-track to 6-track recording follows the development of early psych rock bands moving towards increasingly state-of-the-art studio equipment (for their day), going from 4, then 6, then 8 and eventually 16 tracks and onward; however, as the band’s Adam Johansson explains, their sophomore effort finds the band stripping some elements of their sound down with all of the instruments being treated equally. “They all have their place in a song,” he says. “Obvious with 6-tracks now available, we’ve had a bit of fun with that.”
Earlier this year, I wrote about “Queen,”SVVAMP 2‘s swaggering and self-assured first single, a track that finds the band crafting a sound that sounded as though it could have been released in 1968, thanks in part to its enormous, power chord-based riff, and arena rock friendly hooks that immediately bring Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” The Allman Brothers Band and Neil Young and Crazy Horse to mind but within a rather expansive, jam-like song structure. “Hillside,” the album’s second single may remind some listeners of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen,” with an effortless balance of the cool, self-assuredness of old pros and the immediacy of three musicians with an incredible simpatico, who are honored into the exact same frequency. SVVAMP 2’s latest single “Alligator” is a full-throttle, swampy and bluesy affair that nods at Thin Lizzy and Grand Funk Railroad.
Pete Wilde is a Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, whose life and experiences have deeply influenced his own creative work. And as the story goes, although he was raised by a loving mother, his childhood was defined by a distant father, tormented by his own demons. Years later, after witnessing the murder of his best friend, the only thing that seemed to evoke and capture his own anger was rock ‘n’ roll — and although his stepfather, the saxophonist Eddie Minifield (he once played with Sheila E. and Kat Dyson) encouraged him to seek solace in music; however, a young Wilde was also fueled by drugs and alcohol, and he eventually wound up in prison.
While serving his sentence, Wilde feverishly wrote songs influenced by black history and black artists, the emotions of his childhood, the feminism that his mother ingrained in him — and he quickly recognized that he had an urgent purpose: to make rock ‘n’ roll black again. As Pete Wilde explains “I’m making rock music with groove and a ‘black’ sound that just isn’t funk or pop, but real, original rock ‘n’ roll.” And from the sensual and funky “Lucy,” Wilde’s sound brings to mind the bluesy stomp of Howlin’ Wolf and Sister Rossetta Tharpe with a good mixture of the swaggering soulfulness of black folk paired with power chords and an anthemic hook. It’s a powerful and necessary reminder that black culture is American culture, that the primordial essence of rock is from the blues — and most important that rock is desperately in need of brothers and sisters to bring soul back into it.
Mick’s Jaguar is a New York-based rock septet that initially formed as a drunken Rolling Stones cover band, and after a few years of mainlining Stones songs and playing sporadic shows marred by violence and beer showers, they started writing original material that attracted the attention of RidingEasy Records; in fact, the material on their full-length debut Fame and Fortune, which is slated for a June 22, 2018 release is a much more primal affair, that sounds more like Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy and New York Dolls than the Stones, as the album’s songs are centered around 12 bar blues power chords and tight grooves that focus on life, death, cars, blood, murder, sex, drugs and booze — it’s all the classic rock tropes you desperately need in your life. And unsurprisingly, Fame and Fortune’s latest single “The Real Boss” is a scuzzy and gritty, hook-driven anthem that’s perfect for raising beers aloft to shout along the hook, for excessive speeding down a freeway, and for gearing yourself up for a night kicking ass and causing trouble. Let it be a reminder that primal and scuzzy rock is still alive, and absolutely necessary.
JOVM pays tribute to David Bowie on what would have been his 71st birthday.
Comprised of Worthing, UK-born, West Sussex, UK-based Mike Kerr (vocals, bass) and Rustington, UK-born, West Sussex, UK-based Ben Thatcher (drums), the British rock duo Royal Blood first met when the duo were briefly members of a local rock band, Flavour Country, in which Keer played keys and keytar; however, their collaboration together can officially traced back to a sabbatical Kerr spent in Australia, where he had started Royal Blood with Matt Swan on drums. And as the story goes, when Kerr eventually returned to his native England, his former bandmate Thatcher had picked up from the airport, and they immediately decided that they should start a band together. According to Kerr, the British iteration of Royal blood initially had a difficult time landing gigs and they wound up playing a lot of open-mic nights with acoustic singer/songwriters.
After further developing their sound at Brighton Electric Studios, the band was signed to Warner/Chappell Music and the same management company that managed blogosphere darlings Arctic Monkeys, the duo began to receive a steady amount of buzz before the release of their first official single. Now, as you may recall, the duo released their sophomore effort How Did We Get So Dark? earlier this year to critical praise from USA Today, Rolling Stone, NME, Entertainment Weekly, and Forbes. Unsurprisingly, the album has also been a commercial success — it debuted at #1 on the UK Charts, as well as garnered over 30 million streams across Spotify and Apple Music and has sold over 250,000 copies. Adding to a breakthrough year for the British duo, they played at this year’s Outside Lands Festival and are finishing up a string of opening dates for Queens of the Stone Age throughout 2017 and 2018. (You can check out those remaining dates below.)
You may also recall that the swaggering, power chord-based arena rock friendly, album single “Lights Out” reached #1 on the Rock Radio Charts as the #1 Gainer, marking the second time the band has reached #1 in their relatively young careers together. The duo were recently on Conan where they played the bluesy and scuzzy, power chord-based, ZZ Top-like “I Only Lie When I Love You,” which will further cement their reputation for crafting bombastic arena rock.
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.
Currently comprised of founding member Brad Hammonds (guitar, arrangement), Andrew Gutauskas (baritone sax, arrangement), Darius Christian (vocals, trombone), Sophia Urista (vocals), Mariel Bildsten (trombone), Wayne Tucker (trumpet), Oskar Stenmark (trumpet), Steven Duffy (sousaphone), the New York-based collective Brass Against the Machine specializes in covering protest music but with a unique sound and approach, as their sound meshes rock, alternative rock, hip-hop and New Orleans brass — and for repertoire that features covers of Rage Against the Machine, Living Colour, Gil Scott-Heron, Jane’s Addiction, A Tribe Called Quest, Led Zeppelin and a list of others; in fact, they recently released an attention grabbing mashup of Beyonce’s “Freedom” with Rage’s “Freedom,” which you can check out below.
However, what I wanted to call your attention is to Brass Against the Machine’s cover of one of my favorite Rage track’s “Killing in the Name Of,” which retains the original’s forceful and righteous fury while adding a swaggering and bombastic horn line; and interestingly enough, having a woman fill Zack de al Rocha role should remind the listener — or in turn, the viewer — that women always have long been the heart, soul and moral backbone of any resistance against power. And just as important, let this cover also serve as a reminder that music is arguably one of the most powerful weapons we have.
The band is current prepping for their live debut at Brooklyn Bowl on December 18.