Tag: alt rock

New Video: Up-and-Coming Indie Rock Act Delivers an Ironic Take on Infomercials and Commercialism in Visuals for “TV”

Comprised of Grant Mullen (guitar, vocals), Gianni Aiello (bass, vocals) and Henry LaVallee (drums), the Seattle, WA-based indie rock/punk rock trio Naked Giants formed in 2014 and over the past few years they’ve become one of the Pacific Northwest’s best, up-and-coming bands, thanks in part to a sound that manages  draw from a wild array of disparate influences from punk rock, psych rock, post punk, garage punk and the individual band members own different influences and tastes with a brash, restless and explosive creativity and mosh pit worthy hooks as you’ll hear on “TV,” the latest single off their forthcoming, full-length debut SLUFF, which is slated for a March 30, 2018 release through New West Records.  

Adding to a growing profile, the members of Naked Giants have become members of renowned singer/songwriter Will Toledo and Car Seat Headrest’s backing sextet and will be supporting him both an opener and his backing band for his upcoming world tour, that will include a stop at this year’s SXSW. You can check out the tour dates below; but in the meantime, the recently released Sean Downey-produced video is an extensive and ironic take on informercials, and rampant commercialism. 

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Fronted by 23 year-old Jacob Duarte, the Houston, TX-based indie rock trio Narrow Head has quickly developed a reputation for a sound that draws from 120 Minutes-era alternative rock, as it simultaneously possesses elements of grunge and shoegaze — and considering that the band suggests acts like Hum, Deftones, Failure, Swirlies and My Bloody Valentine as influences, that shouldn’t be surprising.

Recorded at the end of last year, during recording sessions intended for their next full-length album, the Houston-based trio’s latest single “Bulma” will further cement the trio’s reputation for a decidedly 1990s sound, as they firmly add their names to a growing list of contemporary bands, who have brought back a familiar and beloved sound with a subtly modern twist, like Dead Stars and others.

The band is currently on a West Coast tour. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

Jan 13 – Fullerton, CA @ Programme
Jan 14 – Oakland, CA @ tba
Jan 15 – San Francisco, CA @ tba
Jan 16 – Eugene, OR @ Voodoo Donuts
Jan 17 – Portland, OR @ Blackwater
Jan 18 – Olympia, WA @ tba
Jan 19 – Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
Jan 20 – Vancouver, BC @ Subculture Club

Live Footage: Check Out Brass Against the Machine’s Swaggering Cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of”

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. 

Currently comprised of founding trio Brian J. Cohen (vocals, rhythm guitar), Eric Neujahr (guitar) and Jon Engelhard (bass), along with newest member Garret Ray (drums), the Los Angeles-based indie rock quintet Line & Circle can trace their origins to when the founding trio, with original members Brian Egan (keyboards) and Nick Cisik (drums) met and formed the band in Ohio, before relocating to Southern California. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’d know that with the release of a batch of singles and their debut — all of which were released to critical praise — the band quickly exploded into the national scene.

Building upon their growing buzz and national profile, the members of the then-quintet wrote and recorded their 2015 Lewis Pesacov-produced, full-length debut Split Figure, an album that sonically found the band drawing from 1980s college rock and alt rock — album single Like A Statue,”  managed to remind early R.E.M. songs like “The One I Love,” “Talk About The Passion” and “So. Central Rain,” The Smiths‘ “This Charming Man” while thematically the single, as well as the rest of the album’s material explored “the elusive and daunting task of pursuing self-knowledge in a world, where ironically staring into screens and photographing ourselves incessantly has failed to make the process any easier.”  As the band’s Cohen added at the time.  “We are all split down the middle. There is an inner self that reflects what we think are, and an outer self that is how others really perceive us. True self-knowledge is when you become aware of each, and begin to reconcile both into one.”

After the release of their full-length debut, the band went through a lineup change before writing and recording their forthcoming EP Vicious Folly. Interestingly enough, the EP, which was essentially recorded and tracked live to tape during a single day session at Los Angeles’ Box Studios with some additional sessions in warehouses, bedrooms and home studios in the Echo Park neighborhood reportedly explores an old belief popularly held by the Romans: homo homini lupus — man is a wolf to man.  And as you may recall, EP single “Man Uncouth,” while further cementing their reputation for crafting jangling and earnest guitar pop that sounds as though it were released in 1983, managed to focus on the inner turmoil of someone desperately in love but battling their insecurities and fears, essentially becoming the portrait of a man, slowly tearing himself apart. The EP’s latest single, EP title track “Vicious Folly”  continues in a similar vein — with the song being the most R.E.M.-inspired song they’ve released in some time but whereas as the conflict in the preceding single was internal, the conflict at the heart of their latest single is much larger, with ideological differences tearing social norms and boundaries apart. Certainly, while describing our current political climate in which significant portions of the electorate can’t agree on commonly held facts and assertions, and we’re increasing split along lines of race, gender, class, etc., the song manages to point out that this is historical after all — or as an old song says “things fall apart, it’s scientific.”

 

 

Last month, I wrote about the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck. Initially formed in 1989, the band’s original lineup featured featured founding members Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass), and can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they felt was worthy of forming a new project around. At around the same time Scott was briefly in Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And interestingly enough, with the new material that McMillan and Scott started to write for their new project, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck with their then-primary project’s sound to create a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.

1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside Yours was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies, and it featured album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. Interestingly enough, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and famously, they opened for Pearl Jam the night they filmed the video for “Even Flow.”

With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. Their follow up effort, 1992’s  Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. And building upon a rapidly growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour and Pantera‘s Winter 1993 European tour. Immediately upon their return to Seattle, the band went through a number of lineup changes but they managed to release a video for  “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV — including an episode of Beavis and Butt-head, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”

Sadly, at the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling their contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. As the story goes, Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract. Unsurprisingly, that was promptly followed by Roadrunner Records suing to block the band’s bankruptcy with the result being a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written about in legal journals — and eventually inspired congressional legislation. And although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a deep financial and emotional toil on the band, as well as stalled the band’s momentum.

By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited, and began working on new material; some of which wound up comprising their self-titled third album, an effort that the members of the band envisioned as their breakthrough effort. Recorded and finished over a two year period in five different studios in and around the Seattle area with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear taking up production duties, the band decided to build up buzz for the album with a busy live schedule, playing shows in and around Seattle; however, just as they were about to build up some buzz, the band went on a hiatus in 2003 to allow Ben McMillan to recover from a number of health issues.

Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released, over a decade since the initial recording sessions. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” featured an ambitious, arena rock-based sound consisting of enormous power chords, and a shout from the mosh pit worthy course — and while nodding at metal, the song manage stop remind me of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. “Noise Field,” their self-titled album’s latest single continues in a similar vein — a quiet, loud, quiet song structure that allows room for enormous power chords and thundering drumming. However, the one noticeable difference to me is that the song manages to sound as though it were influenced by Core-era Stone Temple Pilots.

“Noise Field” much like its predecessor will remind many listeners of grunge’s high point of 1991-1994 or so and simultaneously its low point of 1996-1999 or so; but underneath, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been for the band. After all, for the first, second and even third wave bands that find some level of success, there are many more bands, who get a brief taste of recognition but never quite make it further than that.

Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.

 

 

New Audio: Cindy Wilson’s Releases a Slick Disco-Influenced New Single

Unless you’ve been living in an isolated Tibetan monastery, located in a cave you’ve likely been made familiar with the Athens, GA-based  The B-52s, who since their formation over 40 years ago by founding (and surviving members) Fred Schneider (vocals), Kate Pierson (vocals, keys), Cindy Wilson (vocals) and Keith Strickland (drums, rhythm guitar) have a long-held reputation for a sound that draws from 60s garage rock, New Wave, post-punk and dance music, complete with the guy vs. gal, call and response vocals. Copious amounts of ink have been spilled on the band throughout their run together, so it won’t be necessary to delve deeply into the band’s history; however, over the past few years, the band’s Cindy Wilson has embarked on a solo recording career that has managed to be an almost complete departure from her primary gig’s imitable and deeply influential sound. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Ballistic” off her Supernatural EP a single, which revealed that as a solo artist, her sound nodded at much more contemporary sources — i.e., the anthemic and trippy electro pop of Gary Numan, Tame Impala, Air and punk pop, complete with pulsating synths. And interestingly enough, much like the Supernatural EP,   Wilson’s forthcoming solo debut Change, which is slated for a November 17, 2017 through Kill Rock Stars Records was produced and engineered by PacificUV’s and Dream Boat‘s Sun Lyons, and continues her collaboration with some of Athens’ finest and most acclaimed, contemporary, young musicians — including Easter Island‘s and Monahan’s Ryan Monahan, Ola Moon’s and PacificUV’s Lemuel Hayes, and powerkompany’s Marie Davon. “Mystic,” Changes’ first single continued on a similar vibe as “Ballistic,” as “Mystic” was a icily retro-futuristic and dance floor friendly blast of synth rock/New Wave over which Wilson crooned and cooed seductively rather than her world-renowned belting and shouting from the mountains. And what makes the song compelling is that it finds the Athens, GA-based legend at her most adventurous and mischievous while being an earnest and sincere exploration of more contemporary songwriting. 

Unsurprisingly, Changes’ latest single, “No One Can Tell You” continues Wilson’s further exploration of contemporary sound and songwriting — although the album’s latest single manages to nod at 80s synth pop and early house and the neo-disco sounds of Escort, Midnight Magic and others, thanks to four-on-the-floor-like rhythms paired with layers of shimmering and propulsive arpeggio synths and ethereal yet infectious hooks. Of course much like the preceding single, the song features Wilson crooning and cooing seductively in a dance floor-friendly track.  

Earlier this summer, you may have come across a post featuring the Western Massachusetts-based indie rock band The Sighs, and as you may recall, the band can trace its origins back to 1982 when its founding members Robert LaRoche (lead vocals, guitar) and Tommy Pluta (bass, vocals), bonded over their mutual love of The Beach BoysCrosby, Stills and Nash and other acts that employed the use of multi-part harmonies; of course, it also helped that while jamming together, LaRoche and Pluta quickly learned that they own voices blended together beautifully. Tom Borawaski (drums) and Matt Cullen (lead vocals, guitar) were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and to complete their initial lineup, and as a quartet the band quickly made a name for themselves as a must-see live act across the region. As Tommy Pluta explains in press notes “One luxury of living in Western Mass is that we played all the colleges and clubs for years and years. By the time things started happening for us, we were primed for it — we sounded really tight and everything was just spot on.”

As luck would have it, the members of The Sighs crossed pants with John DeNicola, an Oscar Award-winning songwriter, who co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and producer, and his production partner Tommy Allen at the China Club, and they then signed with Charisma/Virgin Records, who eventually released  What Goes On to critical acclaim. And adding to a rapidly growing profile, the band went on tour with nationally touring acts like Gin BlossomsDada and others. But after a number of lineup changes the band eventually dissolved with members of the band pursuing individual creative projects or focusing on family life, and so on — and the result was that The Sighs became less of a focus for its members.

Interestingly enough, the band’s third full-length effort Wait On Another Day can trace its origins to recently unearthed batch of demos recorded on analog tapes back in the 90s that the band’s Matt Cullen recently stumbled upon.  Once Cullen had shared the demos with his bandmates and their longtime producer John DeNicola, the members of the band decided to reconvene at DeNicola’s Upstate New York-based studio and revise a handful of songs; however, as the band’s drummer Tom Borawaski explains “.  .  . it all came together so well, and we were having such a great time, we ended up making a whole album. It really just took on a life of its own.”

“All the years of playing together left a permanent mark on us. It wasn’t too difficult to tap into our musical and personal bond again,” LaRoche says of the album, which occurred over a spontaneous five-day recording session. As Borawski adds, “Everything had more of a spark to it than when we made What Goes On, where we put all the songs under a microscope and tried to get it all completely perfect.” And as a result, the material possesses an urgency and vitality that most bands wish they could capture on record. And while the material of Wait On Another Day thematically focuses on many of the things the band’s members wrote about in their youth — the prototypical rock related subjects of girls, getting kicked around, hopes and dreams and falling in love; but perhaps because the members of the band are now middle-aged men, the material unexpectedly possesses a wistful ache of someone who has been forced to accept the passage of time, and the strange realization that the moe things change, the more things manage to remain the same.  Heartache is heartache, no matter how old you are or what you’ve done and seen, and hell, at some point life is ultimately about having the courage to go on towards what’s next after life has broken your heart.

Wait On Another Day‘s first single “It’s Real” was jangling guitar pop with gorgeous harmonies, impressive guitar work and the sort of anthemic hooks reminiscent of f The SmithereensStarfish, Gold Afternoon Fix and Forget Yourself-era The Church with a swooning, urgent romanticism. That shouldn’t be surprising as the song focuses on being desperate, youthful love with that pretty young thing you can’t get off your mind and the anxious excitement that comes about as you wonder aloud to yourself  “Can this be real. Is this what I’ve been seeking and desiring for so long?” But it’s unde-pinned for the hope of finally achieving something you’ve dreamt of for as long as you could remember.  And while album title track and latest single “Wait On Another Day” continues in a similar vein as its preceding singles — in other words, deeply heartfelt, jangling and anthemic guitar pop, the band manages to capture something timeless within the material. After all, rock is ultimately about the connection between a group of friends and musicians with big dreams and something to say about their lives and experiences but interestingly enough the material manages to sound as though it could have been released sometime between 1988-1993 — or well, yesterday. And what this song managed to remind me of today was the fact that when the world seems on the verge of complete collapse there’s always the comfort and hope of love and of music.

 

 

 

New Video: Alt Rock All Star Act Filthy Friends Return with Ironic Visuals for Rousing Anti-Trump Anthem “Despierta”

Earlier this summer, I wrote about Filthy Friends, an act that’s both a side project and free-flowing collaboration between likeminded, long-time friends, who also happen to be among some of the most accomplished and influential musicians of the past 30+ years — with the band featuring Corin Tucker, best known as being a founding member and frontwoman of Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy; Kurt Bloch (guitar), best known as the frontman of renowned Seattle-based punk band The Fastbacks, and producer, who has mentored some of the area’s up-and-coming bands; Bill Rieflin (drums), who’s known for being a member of legendary prog rock act King Crimson; Scott McCaughey (bass), a studio musician, who’s also known for being a member of Fresh Young Fellows; and last but certainly not least, Peter Buck (guitar), who was a founding member of R.E.M. 

“The Arrival,” the second single off the band’s forthcoming debut effort Invitation may arguably be one of the more straightforward, glam rock and alt rock-channeling single, as it featured a roomy arrangement consisting of bristling and chugging power chords and a rousingly anthemic hook paired with Tucker’s imitable vocals — and in my mind, the single should remind fans of each of those acts that these old timers can still kick ass, and as a result, the song possesses the cool, self-assured swagger of old pros, who can make it seem far easier than what it really is. Now, you may recall that the band released  “Despierta,” a song that they contributed to the anti-Trump protest compilation 30 Songs For 30 Days and a Record Store Day release featuring “Any Kind of Crowd” and a cover of Roxy Music‘s “Editions of You.” As far as “Despierta,” it shouldn’t be surprising why the members of Filthy Friends felt it was a perfect addition to the anti-Trump compilation, as  the song has a relevant sociopolitical message — the song pretty much tells the listener that it’s time for new ideas and a new way of doing things, that it’s young people’s time to get to work on getting a bunch of fucked up shit right. And much like “The Arrival,” the members of the All-Star act pair that message around power chords and an anthemic hook.

Directed by Megan Hattie Stahl, the recently released music video employs a relatively simple yet funny concept: a bunch of young people, who are desperately trying to catch their new favorite band but with a It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World-like zaniness but it ends with a bitter irony — the one person, who actually makes it, misses the band, making his effort seem pointless.