Category: Single Review

Over the past couple of months on this site, I’ve written a bit about the  Oklahoma City, OK-based indie rock/psych rock quartet SPACE4LEASE — and as you may recall, the band, comprised of primary songwriter and founding member Grayson Hamm (keys, lead vocals), along with Walt Blythe (guitar),  Brandon Brewer (bass, vocals) and Wes Belk (drums), can trace their origins to when Hamm, Blythe, Brewer and Belk met while they were all attending the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Although each member comes from a vastly different musical background and influences, their sound manages to be a seamless convergence of their influences including Tame Impala, My Morning Jacket, Big Thief, Andy Shauf and others, while thematically their material focuses on lost love, heartbreak, the unknown and inevitable life experiences.

With the release of their debut EP Hiraeth, an effort that focused on the complicated process of self-discovery, the members of the Oklahoma City-based quartet toured extensively across the Midwest last year, eventually winning the praise of The Flaming Lips‘ Derek Brown, who described them as  “Fellow Okies that wonderfully mix the blissfulness and melancholy of the great wide open.” Building upon the buzz the members of Space4Lease have released a batch of singles off their forthcoming EP Drifting: Must Be Something” one of the first singles I wrote about, was a lush single reminiscent of  JOVM mainstays  Caveman, Los Angeles-based indie rock act Hands and others but bristling with a sense of endless possibility  that can only come from being on the road, and seeing the world open up before your eyes. “Lately,” struck me as drawing from classic, Quiet Storm-era R&B, blue-eyed soul and indie rock in a way that reminds me of Milagres’ exceptional first two albums Glowing Mouth and Violent Light — and much like the material off of those albums, there’s the push and pull of infatuation, lust, love and heartache at the core of a confusing relationship.

Drifting‘s latest single “I Tried Calling” is a slow-burning track that pairs Hamm’s plaintive vocals paired with a lush and haunting arrangement featuring twinkling keys, guitars fed through a series of atmospheric effects — and much like the preceding singles, it’s a deeply personal song that focuses on the frustrating yet necessary ups and downs of a maintaining a relationship and the lingering ghosts of the person you’re no longer with, and of the relationship that’s over.  But what makes the song interesting is that it comes from the perspective of someone, who has a lot more to say to a partner (or ex-partner in the case), who doesn’t seem all that interested in hearing it, and as a result, the song has an underlying bitterness — the bitterness that comes from having a relationship fail and not knowing how or why it happened.

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Throughout the course of 2015, I had written quite a bit of about the currently Los Angeles-based, Sudbury, Ontario-born multi-instrumentalist, and singer/songwriter Jennie Vee. Growing up in a small, rural Ontario town, the young Jennie Vee was the rare “goth” girl, who loved New Wave, post-punk and goth, which began when a friend introduced her to the Manchester sound. Vee relocated to England, where she began writing songs and later spent stints in Nashville and New York, where she settled down to write and record her debut LP, as well as played her first solo gigs. And while in NYC, she met a number of creators and influential folks including visual artist Katrin Albert, who produced a series of videos to accompany Jennie Vee’s music; Grammy Award-winning producer Chris Lord-Alge, who later remixed a song from her debut LP; and Courtney Love, with whom she toured with in her backing band, and who quickly became a very dear friend.

Following up on the buzz around her full-length debut, Vee wrote, recorded and released the exceptional Spying EP, which featured a gorgeous and sensual cover of Echo and the Bunnymen‘s “Lips Like Sugar,” and further established her a solo artist, who specialized in a hook-driven shoegaze and New Wave-like guitar pop paired with lyrics that frankly focus on themes of heartbreak, loss, loneliness and death.

Suffer EP is the follow-up to Spying and the EP, which is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through WaxRomantix Records was written and recorded after she spent the spring of 2015 playing bass with Courtney Love, during Love’s Endless Summer Tour, which featured Lana del Rey. And since then Vee has opened for the likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, Manic Street Preachers and The Darkness, and recently joined Eagles of Death Metal. “Hospital Bed,” Suffer‘s latest single is reportedly a deeply personal song that explores the mixed feelings of guilt, anger, and the difficult and painful decisions one faces while watching a loved one struggle with addiction — while sonically, the song will further cement her reputation for hook-laden and swooningly earnest guitar pop with some gorgeous guitar work.

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Jamie Batten (vocals, guitar) Charlie Gardner (guitar, synth), David Sherry (bass) and Omri Covo (drums), the London, UK-based indie rock/shoegazer quartet Honey Lung have quickly exploded into national scene as they’ve received airplay and cosigns from BBC Radio 1′s Huw Stephens and Radio X‘s John Kennedy, and have played at The Great Escape, Reading and Leeds Festivals.  And when you hear the London-based quartet’s latest single “Stuttering Mind,” you’ll see why the up-and-coming band has built up such buzz around them: Honey Lung specializes in the sort of anthemic, power chord-based guitar pop that could have been released in 1993, complete with a soaring hook and some dexterous, psychedelic-tinged guitar work.

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Monolord Return with a Subtly Psychedelic-Tinged New Single

Over the past 15-18 months, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based doom metal trio Monolord have added themselves to a growing list of JOVM mainstay artists, and as you may recall, the Swedish doom metal band will be releasing their third, full-length album Rust through RidingEasy Records on September 29, 2017. As the band’s Esben Willems explains of the band’s sound, “A heavy groove that contains both bombastic overkill and a lot of dynamics is what we always aim for in Monolord; in playing, in song writing and arranging, in recording.”

Album title track and first official single “Rust,” featured guest spots from Mondo Drag‘s John Gamino on keys and Beastmaker’s Trevor Church, who contributes an incredible guitar solo towards the end of the song — with the single further cementing the trio’s reputation for crafting slow-burning, sludgy, doom metal; but upon repeated listens, the single revealed a band that has subtly expanded upon their sound and songwriting. “Where Death Meets the Sea,” Rust’s second single continued in a similar vein as its predecessor but with an oceanic heft, as sludgy power chords and thundering drumming were placed within a slow burning yet expansive song structure. 

“Dear Lucifer,” Rust’s third and latest single while continuing along the veins of its two preceding singles, in the sense that the track is a slow-burning, sludgy dirge but if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the song possesses a subtle nuance, as it reveals some incredibly dexterous guitar work and psychedelic-tinged guitar solo — all while evoking hot blasts of sulfur, before its hazy, feedback and distorted filled coda. And although the song may reveal a psych rock influence, it still retains a sense of impending doom. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays R.I.P. Return with an Epic, Mind-Altering Bit of Thrash Metal

Now, over the past year or so, Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P has added themselves to a lengthy and eclectic list of mainstay artists I’ve written about throughout the history of this site. And as you may recall, the quartet’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort is slated for an October 13, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album is reportedly inspired by Rick Rubin’s legendary and influential 80’s productions — think Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J among others — and Murder Dog Magazine, and as a result, the members of the band have crafted material with a streamlined and punishingly,  raw ferocity,  specifically meant to evoke the days when metal and hip-hop were reviled by the mainstream as the work of thugs intent on destroying the very fabric of America and its youth. Unlike their debut, Street Reaper reveals a subtly expanded songwriting approach, rooted in their belief that doom metal shouldn’t be pigeonholed into a particular tuning or time signature but rather, a particular mood that inspires doom — in this case, terror, uncertainty, chaos, war, etc.

Unsurprisingly, the material on Street Reaper is influenced not by doom metal’s typical sci-fi, fantasy or mysticism but within an inescapable, horrible and fearful present, full of what seems to be the impending collapse of democracy as we know it in the US, of economic failure, dwindling resources, increasing inequity and inequality, nuclear war, civil war, and a primal fight for survival. Album single “The Other Side” may arguably be the Portland-based band’s most blistering and impassioned playing — and while it may be a desperate howl into a growing void, there’s a feral urgency within the material that sets them apart from their contemporaries. The album’s follow-up single, “Unmarked Grave,” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it features  blistering, impassioned, face-melting power chords, a motorik groove, forceful drumming, an arena friendly hook and howled vocals, and while being equally urgent, the material manages to sound as though it were indebted to Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age and Ozzy Osbourne, complete with a sweaty, whiskey and hallucinogen-fueled frenzy.

“The Casket,” Street Reaper’s latest single (and album opening track) is a blistering bit of thrash metal, reminiscent of Ride the Lightning and Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica and Iron Maiden, thanks in part to layers upon layers of chugging power chords, forceful drumming and howled vocals and it may be among the most explosive songs they’ve released to date, but pay close attention to the expansive and ambitious song structure that features shifting time signature changes and chord progressions, as well as some incredibly dexterous guitar work. Simply put, it’s pretty fucking epic!

New Audio: Mute Records to Re-issue Series of Albums by Influential Cult Favorited Genre Bending British Post-Punk Band

Featuring a core lineup of Jeremy Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson with a rotating cast of members to full out the band, the Manchester-based post-punk band A Certain Ratio formed in 1978 — and naturally, while embracing the ethics and culture of the post-punk era, they had developed a reputation for being uncompromisingly difficult to pigeonhole, as their sound incorporated elements of funk, jazz, punk and rock while employing electronics, tape loops and early technology.

With the release of the critically applauded and commercially successful single “Shack Up,” on both sides of the Atlantic, the Manchester-based band became hailed as pioneers of a sound dubbed “punk funk,” and as a result that single and the rest of the work they’ve released together has managed to influence an incredible and impressive array of acts including Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Happy Mondays, Franz Ferdinand, ESG, Factory Floor and Andrew Weatherall among others — all of which has led to an increased interest in the British post-punk act and their catalog; in fact, the members of A Certain Ratio and renowned indie label Mute Records announced the launch of a long-awaited series of re-issues, featuring a selection of the influential Manchester band’s albums and will continue into 2018 with a compilation, a rarities box set and further re-issues.

Starting on November 24, 2017 the Mute Records-A Certain Ratio re-issue series will begin with the re-issue of the Manchester band’s debut, The Graveyard and The Ballroom, which was originally released through Factory Records in December 1979. The album will be available on limited edition vinyl with colored PVC sleeve, CD (and echoing its original release 38 years ago), cassette. Mute will also be re-issuing 1981’s To Each and 1986’s Force on colored vinyl and CD. While being superficially reminiscent of Entertainment! and Solid Gold-era Gang of Four, thanks in part to the angular guitar attack, The Graveyard and The Ballroom’s re-issue single “Do the Du,” possesses a disco-like bass line paired with vocalist, who sounds anxious and distracted in an all too post-modern fashion — and with a deeper, more attentive ear, you’l hear echoes of Talking Heads 77 and Fear of Music-era Talking Heads (think of “Psycho Killer,” and “I Zimbra”) with a hint of mod-era rock. 

Comprised of Tom Barr (vocals, guitar), Lachlan Banner (drums), Matt Pownall (guitar, vocals) and Stanley Braddock (bass, vocals), the Leeds, UK-based quartet Party Hardy can trace their origins to when the band’s founder Tom Barr came up with the idea of the band at his house with his buddies Banner, Pownall and Braddock las year. And within their first year together as a band, the British quartet have quickly developed, refined and developed a sound that locals have dubbed as “Blur meets surf rock with a bit of Beach Boys shoved up its arse.” Along with that, the band has also developed a growing reputation for their live set, as they’ve opened for the likes of Trudy & The Romance, Mouses, Bruising, Diet Cig, Cowtown, INHEAVEN and The Magic Gang, among others.

2017 has been a big year for the band as they’ve released two attention grabbing singles “Friendly Feeling” and “Jobs,” which have quickly helped add the band to a growing list of Leeds-based bands receiving attention across the blogosphere, and with the release of their third and latest single of the year, “Mindchanger,” you’ll see why, as the band specializes in walking the tightrope between dreamy and shimmering guitar pop and explosive, power chord-based, anthemic rock, complete with a shout worthy, mosh pit friendly chorus.  Interestingly, as the band explains in press notes “‘Mindchanger’ is an ode to the experiences felt by the parents of the youth of yesterday, Played out through the perspective of a parent struggling with the difficult nature of an anxty (sic) teen, the song takes the listener through a journey of their own personal past, with a new meaning easily discovered upon each listen.”

 

 

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The Los Angeles, CA-based indie pop project Oddnesse is a studio based collaboration between musician and singer/songwriter Rebeca Arango and producer Grey Goon can trace its origins to both members independently relocating from the East Coast to Los Angeles haunted by the ghosts of expensive degrees in music, failed bands and countless gigs at Cake Shop and other venues. As the story goes, Arango and Goon bonded over a shared vision for infectious, beautiful music with a dark, heavy groove, and  initially, they occasionally stopped by the studio with some random contributions as friends, who jammed together; that is before, the duo began to start taking the project seriously.

“Are You Down,” the duo’s latest single finds the duo pairing Arango’s sultry, self-assured yet laid back crooning with a moody and sleek production featuring shimmering guitar chords, a sinuous and propulsive groove and a soaring hook, and while being radio friendly , the track, sonically speaking manages to nod at Mazzy Star and early 90s Brit Pop — but with a come hither vibe. As the duo’s Rebeca Arango explained in press notes, “Are You Down,” is her “Pina Colada” song, as “it’s a very confident and laid-back anticipation of my next lover, where I’m getting specific about calling in someone, who can match my energy and approach to life. The question of going ‘slow’ isn’t about romantic pacing per-se (though that is important), it’s more about generally moving slow, never rushing to pack in too much all at once or getting anxious about ‘missing out,’ and preferring to to sink in and explore the depths of all things.”

Over the course of this site’s seven year history, I’ve written quite a bit about Brooklyn-based shoegazers and JOVM mainstay act Dead Leaf Echo, and in that same period, the members of the band have built a growing national profile, as the’ve played at some of the country’s biggest and best known festivals, and have opened for a lengthening and impressive array of renowned bands, including The Wedding PresentA Place to Bury Strangers, . . . And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of DeadThe Psychedelic FursChapterhouseUlrich SchnaussWeekendLoreleiThe Ocean BlueThe WarlocksBeach Fossils, and The Telescopes. And along with that, over the past few years, the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstays have also developed a reputation for being rather prolific — starting with 2013’s 4AD Records-inspired full-length debut effort Thought and Language, Dead Leaf Echo promptly followed that up with 2014’s true.deep.sleeper EP, 2015’s split EP with die you die and a limited cassette run of the “Lemonheart“/”sparks.fly.from.a.kiss” 7 inch, which retained their towering, wall of sound-inspired production, while nodding at RIDESwervedriver, The Verve and Slowdive and The Jesus and Mary Chain among others.  Released earlier this year, the band’s Strawberry Skin EP found the band continuing their ongoing collaboration with producer Monte Vallier, who has worked with Weekend and Wax Idols, as well as contributions from singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jorge Elbrecht, who was a founding member of Violens and is currently in  No Joy and Ariel Pink’s backing band, and Guy Fixsen, who has worked with My Bloody Valentine and Wire, among a lengthy and impressive list of artists. And while further cementing their long-held reputation for crafting shimmering and anthemic shoegaze with a swooning and plaintive urgency,  the EP’s title track found the band gently expanding upon their sound, adding an abrasive and muscular quality underneath.

Recorded at Mexican Summer’s Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based studio with Guy Fixsen and Jorge Elbrecht, Dead Leaf Echo’s long-anticipated, sophomore full-length effort, Beyond.Desire is slated for an October 13, 2017 release through PaperCup Music, finds the band continuing to refine the sound that they’ve recently dubbed “noveeau wave”, a moody and shimmering mix of shoegaze and layered guitar pop, and as you’ll hear on Beyond.Desire‘s first, official single “Temple,” the single continues in a similar vein as its predecessor, as featured layers of shimmering power chords paired with a rousingly anthemic hook. But interestingly enough, much like their previously released material, the album is a something of a concept album, as the material reportedly is based on themes of maturation and growth beyond pure, animal lust and physical need; in fact “Temple” is an urgent and swooning declaration of love and devotion.

The band will be embarking on a number of tour dates to build up buzz to support the new album, and then to support it and int includes an October 13, 2017 stop at The Knitting Factory.

Tour Dates 
9.15: New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
9.16: Hattiesburg, MI @ The Thirsty Hippo
10.7: Kingston, NY @ O Positive Festival
10.13: Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory (record release party)
10.27: Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
11.2: Barnsville, OH @ Albert S George Youth Center
11.3: Chicago, IL @ Quenchers
11.4: Kalamazoo, MI @ Bell’s Brewery
11.5 Milwaukee, WI
11.7 Salt Lake City, UT @ Diabolical Records
11.8 San Fransisco, CA @ The Knockout
11.9: San Jose, CA @ TBA
11.10: San Diego, CA @ Whistle Stop
11.12: Los Angeles, CA @ Part Time Punks

More than enough ink has been spilled through Mavis Staples‘ eight decades music, both as a member of The Staple Singers and with her solo career, and a result, it would make it delving into her biography or relating what countless other journalists have written and said about her a bit unnecessary; however, with a music career that long, Staples has seen quite of bit of American history — including the bitter prejudice, racism, ugliness and violence of the Jim Crow-era South, the hypocrisy an wishy washines of White liberals, the Civil Rights era, the election of this country’s first Black president, Barack Obama — and yet . . . as the old adage says — the more things change, the more things remain the same, and the same racial and class-based animus has sadly (but unsurprisingly) has returned to the forefront of national consciousness.

Staples’ latest effort If All I Was Was Black is slated for an November 17, 2017 release through Anti- Records, and the effort continues her ongoing and critically applauded collaboration with singer/songwriter and producer Jeff Tweedy; however, the album manages to mark the first time that Tweedy has composed an entire album worth of music for the legendary vocalist. Unsurprisingly, as Tweedy and Staples reconvened to write the material, which would eventually comprise If All I Was Was Black, the duo found themselves completely in sync in wanting (and needing) to say something about the current state of the country and about the various fissures that have been re-exposed. “We’re not loving one another the way we should,” the legendary vocalist says in press notes. “Some people are saying they want to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.” Tweedy adds, “I’ve always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself — that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on.”

And while lyrically, some portion of the album’s material reportedly expresses anger and frustration — after all, how it could not? But overall, the material also reportedly finds the legendary vocalist balancing her prototypical optimism with a realistic sensibility — that there’s quite of hard work and love that’s needed to truly make things right. Interestingly, when I heard album title track  “If All I Was Was Black,” I was immediately reminded of Syl Johnson‘s aching and bitter lament “Is It Because I’m Black.” in the sense that Staples’ latest single is an earnest and hopeful plea to the listener, imploring them to look into the heart and souls of every individual they come across, and to see them for their unique abilities; to render one’s skin color as relatively unimportant as the color of one’s eyes. And by doing so, perhaps every one’s perspective of people they don’t understand will be shifted, as they may actually see the universality of the individual. For Ms. Staples sake, I hope we can all try before it’s too late.