Tag: alt rock

New Audio: Foo Fighters Release a Socially Conscious Anthem

Early last year, Foo Fighters — Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee — finished work on what would eventually become their tenth full-length album, the Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters co-produced Medicine at Midnight. At the time, Grohl and company intended for the album’s release to coincide with a massive world tour that the applauded act was about to embark on to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. But like countless other acts around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into their plans.

Because of the uncertainty of the situation, the members of the band waited for a while, trying to figure out what their next steps were, but eventually they all came to the realization that music is meant to be heard, no matter“whether it’s in a festival field with 50,000 of our coolest friends or alone in your living room or on a Saturday night with a stiff cocktail,” the band’s Dave Grohl wrote in an letter accompanying press notes.

Now, as you may recall, Foo Fighters’ tenth album Medicine at Midnight is slated for a February 5, 2021 release through Roswell Records/RCA Records — and they managed to start off the New Year with the enormous arena rock friendly ripper “No Son of Mine,” a track that nods at Ace of Spades-era Mötorhead, Kill ’em All-era Metallica and Queen‘s “Stone Cold Crazy, complete with anthemic, raise-your-beer-in-the-air and shout along worthy hooks.

Medicine at Midnight’s third and latest single “Waiting On A War” continues a remarkable run of arena rock anthems — but in this case, the new single manages to pull from several different Foo Fighters eras — The Colour and the Shape, There Is Nothing Left to Lose and One By One in particular come to mind as a result of its song structure: Beginning with acoustic guitar and string arrangement driven verses and an enormous, rousingly anthemic hook, the song slowly builds up in intensity until the 3:15 mark or so, when the song turns into a cathartic explosion of power chords and thunderous drumming. Lyrically, the song manages to recall ’80s anthems like Nena’s “99 Luftballons,” Sting’s “Russians” and others, and it seems to suggest, much like the old saying, “the more things change, the more things remain the same.” Decades have changed, and we still seem to be on brink of our own annihilation . . .

Interestingly, as Dave Grohl explains in press notes, the song is inspired by personal events — and may be among the more personal songs in the band’s extensive catalog:

“Last fall, as I was driving my daughter to school, she turned to me and asked, ‘Daddy, is there going to be a war?’ My heart sank as I realized that she was now living under the same dark cloud that I had felt 40 years ago,” Grohl recalls.

I wrote ‘Waiting on a War’ that day.

Everyday waiting for the sky to fall. Is there more to this than that? Is there more to this than just waiting on a war? Because I need more. We all do.

This song was written for my daughter, Harper, who deserves a future, just as every child does. “

New Audio: Foo Fighters Release an Enormous, Arena Rock Ripper

Early last year, Foo Fighters — Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Rami Jaffee — finished work on what would eventually become their tenth full-length album, the Greg Kurstin and Foo Fighters co-produced Medicine at Midnight. Grohl and company originally intended for the album’s release to coincide with a massive world tour that the applauded act was about to embark on to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. Of course, much like countless acts and artists around the world, their plans were put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members of the band waited for a while before coming to the realization that music is mean to be heard, no matter what the environment actually was, “whether it’s in a festival field with 50,000 of our coolest friends or alone in your living room or on a Saturday night with a stiff cocktail,” the band’s Dave Grohl writes in a statement. So, they start off the New Year with the the explosive ripper “No Son of Mine.” Centered around chugging arena rock friendly riffs that nod at Ace of Spades-era Mötorhead, Kill ’em All-era Metallica and Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy,” a propulsive rhythm section with thunderous drumming and mosh pit friendly hooks, “No Son of Mine” is the sort of song meant to be played at ear-splitting volumes, while dreaming of the day that we can be in arena or festival ground chugging beers and rocking out with each other.

“This is the kind of song that just resides in all of us and if it makes sense at the time, we let it out,” Dave Grohl explains, adding, “Lyrically it’s meant to poke at the hypocrisy of self righteous leaders, people that are guilty of committing the crimes they’re supposedly against…”

Just imagine how cathartic, how joyous, how fucking urgent that moment will be when the lights come on and your favorite artist/band gets on that stage, and it’s felt like you’ve waited a lifetime to be in that room or on the festival ground, Although I know that day won’t be for a while, I’ve been dreaming of a moment that I’ve missed and longed for with a mad desperation. But it’s getting me through. And I can’t wait to be there with all of y’all.

In the meantime, Medicine at Midnight is slated for a February 5, 2021 release through Roswell Records/RCA Records.

Gold Coast, Australia-based alt rock trio boWsER — Nathan Williams, Otto Miller, Jr. and Brad Weynton – formed well over a decade ago, and when its members met, they recognized an instant connection and a desire to make music that pushed each individual member in new creative directions while crafting an enormous, power chord-driven sound that drew comparisons to Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures.

The trio quickly attained enviable and immediate success: After signing a worldwide publishing deal with EMI, they released their critically applauded debut mini album, 2007’s Modus Operandi, an effort that earned them The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Award nomination in the Rock category and a Q Song Awards nomination. Adding to a rapidly growing profile in their native Australia, boWsER were hand-selected by Triple J Unearthed to open for Eagles of Death Metal during their Australian tour.

The Aussie rock act ended a 13 year hiatus with the release of “People in the TV,” the first single off their forthcoming Steve James-produced sophomore effort Whispers From The Wickerman. The album’s second single “Supersonic” features a classic grunge rock song structure of alternating quiet verses and loud choruses, fuzz pedaled and churning power chord-driven riffs, a sinuous bass line, thunderous drumming and massive, arena rock friendly hooks that — to my ears, at least — reminds me of Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf and Foo FightersOne by One and Wasting Light, delivered with a similar swagger.

New Video: Complicated Animals Release a Gorgeous animated Visual for Their Acoustic Take on Foo Fighters “Times Like These”

Los Angeles– based duo Complicated Animals— singer/songwriter Monica da Silva and multi-instrumentalist Chad Alger — specializes in what the duo have coined Indie Nova, a mesh of Indie Pop and Bossa nova. Complicated Animals can trace their origins back to 2008: the then-Chicago-based da Silva, who had been wanting to steer her music back to her Brazilian roots had stumbled across Alger’s Craiglist ad seeking someone to start a Brazilian music project with. The duo met during the winter and they survived the cold Chicagoland winter by drinking red wine and black coffee — and at some point, during that haze, Alger picked up a guitar and da Silva made up some lyrics. And the songs they began crafting transported them to the beaches of Brazil.

The duo collaborated on da Silva’s solo album 2010’s Bruce Driscoll-produced Brasilissima, which featured songs written and sung in English and Portuguese. Brasilissima‘s first single “Aí Então”, caught the attention of the blogosphere and Cumbacha Records‘ Jacob Edgar, who featured the track on Putunayo World Music‘s Brazilian Beat compilation. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the duo’s psychedelic “That’s Not The Way” pump dup crowds during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Written and recorded in a cabin in the Michigan woods, the duo’s Complicated Animals 2015 debut, the six song In This Game EP was released to critical praise by PopMatters, who called the effort “a 6 song masterpiece” and the “beginning of a new sound.” Since then da Silva released the haunting and cinematic “Soldado de Amor,” which was featured on the BBC TV dramatic series The Replacement . Last year, In This Game single “Phoenix” was featured in the Netflix’s Last Summer.

Complicated Animals’ latest single find the duo tackling one of my favorite Foo Fighter songs, and arguably one of their biggest hits “Times Like These.” Famously, Foo Fighters released an acoustic version of “Times Like These,” in which Dave Grohl accompanied himself on guitar and piano — and while leaning much closer to the acoustic version, the Complicated Animals cover is a breezier, folkier, Fleetwood Mac-like take on the song. In my book, “Times Like These” is the rare Foo Fighter song that works as an arena rock anthem and as an intimate singer/songwriter ballad, which is a testament to how well written the song is.

As da Silva and Alger explain, they gravitated toward the track, because the lyrics are in line with the events of this past year. “This year sure has been crazy. We’ve all had to slow down, and focus on familial relationships, and close friendships. We believe that these challenging times, are the times that shape us,” the Los Angeles based duo explain. “The most important thing we can do right now, is just be there for each other. We hope to inspire people with some positivity. The world needs more of that.”

The recently released video for the Complicated Animals “Times Like These” cover features some gorgeous, hand drawn and old-timey storybook-like animation by Brazilian visual artist and animator Karla Caprali. The video manages to capture some of the tragic and inspiring events of what may be one of the more difficult years humanity has seen in some time — from the fear, uncertainty and stress of a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter marches in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd, Armaud Arbury and others and more. And while we may have gone through so much together — and apart — it feels like there’s a cautious optimism that we can get things right for once.

“Brazilian artist Karla Caprali created this beautiful video to go with our track. She used a traditional animation technique, and drew each frame by hand,” the members of Complicated Animals explain. “She helped us to realize our vision, by featuring some of the major world events of this year. We have all been through a lot, and we could all use some healing.

New Video: Acclaimed British-born, Irish-based Singer-Songwriter Rosie Carney Tackles Radiohead

Acclaimed Hampshire, UK-born, Donegal, Ireland-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Rosie Carney began writing music inspired by the rugged and picturesque of her hometown. When she was 15, Carney left school to showcase her work in New York and Los Angeles, and shortly thereafter was signed to a major label. After performing on Ireland’s leading live music TV series Other Voices, the British-born, Irish-based artist experienced a rapidly growing profile, which led to sets at Bushstock Festival, Latitude Festival, Electric Picnic Festival, Seven Layers Festival and SXSW. Additionally, Carney opened for Haux on a 28-date tour of 12 countries that included stops in the US and Canada.

Without the ability to tour and with her career plans stalled as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, Carney much like countless other people across the globe found her mental health suffering as a result of forced isolation and boredom. Carney’s JMAC-co-produced The Bends finds the acclaimed singer/songwriter tackling Radiohead’s The Bends.

Slated for a December 11, 2020 release through Color Study, Carney’s forthcoming isn’t the first time that her own struggles with mental health have dovetailed with her love of Radiohead: Carney recalls seeing the band as a teenager and having an anxiety attack in the arena. She blacked out and woke up in the venue’s first aid room. And for the British-born, Irish-based artist, covering her favorite band has acted a much-needed form of therapy.

The Bends’ second single finds Carney releasing an atmospheric cover of “Black Star.” Centered around an arrangement of Carney’s achingly tender vocals, strummed acoustic guitar, brooding strings and gently padded drumming, Carney’s bare boned yet straightforward cover manages to pull out the bitter and uneasy heartache at the core of the song in a way that feels personal, lived-in and almost uncomfortable.

“One of my favourite things about this song is the non-sugar coated realness of it”, Carney explains in press notes. “It’s very bleak and sad when you start to realise a relationship is on its way out. I feel like everyone has been in that situation where you just kind of aimlessly fill your day with crap to distract yourself from thinking about someone (even though you are the whole time). Throughout the record I tried to keep as many songs in their original key as possible, but when I started learning Black Star, I wanted it to feel like I was almost talking in the verses, so I purposely lowered it to the point it was nearly uncomfortable for me to sing. The words are so direct and bleak and honest I didn’t want to risk them going unheard.”

Directed by Carney, the recently released video features intimate footage shot in Donegal that manages to fit the song’s brooding and uneasy aesthetic.

Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jason Hendardy is the creative mastermind behind the post-punk/alternative rock/noise rock project Permanent Collection.  Since Hendardy started the project back in 2010, Permanent Collection has gone through a series of different iteration: the project’s debut EP, 2011’s Delirium was a collection of home solo recordings, which he supported with a number of solo shows and tours.

With the release of 2012’s full-length debut Newly Wed, Nearly Dead the project expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition of Megan Dabkowski (bass), Brendan Nerfa (guitar), Mike Stillman (drums), who were in the band for close to two years. By the end of 2013, the band’s lineup became more fluid as the band featured a rotation cast of collaborators that included Terry Malts and Business of Dreams‘ Corey Cunningham (guitar). The project’s 2013 EP No Void was written and recorded as a trio and after a series of touring to support it, Permanent Collection went on a hiatus with Hendardy focusing on writing music for other bands and several different creative projects, as well as work in video and sound design.

Late last night, Hendardy started to focus his efforts on writing new Permanent Collection material, and the end result is his soon-to-be-released and highly anticipated album Nothing Good Is Normal. All June digital sales of the new record, Nothing Good Is Normal, are going to the Anti Police Terror Project.

Clocking in at just under 2 minutes,  album single “Breakaway” is a mosh pit friendly ripper full of the scuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming, howled vocals and enormous hooks that brings JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers and The Jesus and Mary Chain to mind. Play loudly and mosh the fuck out. 

 

New Audio: Los Angeles’ The Know Covers The Jesus and Mary Chain

Los Angeles-based dream pop/shoegaze duo The Know, married couple and collaborators Daniel Knowles and Jennifer Farmer, can trace their origins to late 2018, when Knowles suggested to Farmer that instead of traveling home for the holidays — the UK and Texas respectively — that they stay put in Los Angeles and try to write music together, just the two of them. And the material they would write would be their gift to themselves.

Over a couple of weeks, they isolated themselves in their home studio with no real plan but they shared a mutual love of Beach House, Julee Cruise, ye ye, The Jesus and Mary Chain, 60s girl groups, Patsy Cline and The National. Interestingly, the first batch of material they wrote together, included their debut single “143.” Inspired by Tom Waits‘ “(Looking for) The Heart of Saturday Night,” “143” found the duo meshing the autobiographical with the fantastic: focusing on the hazy half-remembered recollections of a wild night out paired with an instrumental arrangement that seemed indebted to Beach House and 60s girl groups.

Their second single “Hold Me Like You Know Me,” a personal account of the intense feelings of loneliness and isolation that the band’s Farmer felt over the past year, received favorably comparisons to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Phil Spector‘s Wall of Sound production.

Both of those singles will be included on the duo’s forthcoming debut EP, wearetheknow. Slated for a May 18, 2020 release, the EP finds the duo fully embracing a DIY ethos: the EP was produced, mixed and mastered by the band’s Knowles with Farmer handling the band’s visual side, including their videos and visual content. And as a result, the duo ensure that they have complete creative control over what they do. Thematically, the EP delves into the duo’s personal lives with the material touching upon their relationship and their experiences  — paired with a kaleidoscopic soundscape. 

Now, as you may recall, last month, I wrote about “Someday Maybe,” a track that continued a run of material based on their personal experiences while sonically meshing Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound with The Stone Roses and others as it featured swooning boy-girl harmonies paired with layers of swirling and buzzing guitars and pedal effects.  Interestingly, the duo’s latest single, a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Sometimes Always” was inspired by quarantine-induced boredom — and was initially just intended for their own amusement and ears. After completing the track, the duo liked the way it came out, so they sent it to their CLUB 143 fan club an exclusive listen and feedback. The feedback was so positive that the and decided to squeeze in another single before the release of their debut EP. 

The Know’s cover of “Sometimes Always” the first song in which Knowles takes on lead vocal duties — but the cover is a deceptive, sonic detour with the duo taking one of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s more pop-leaning songs and playing it in the style of the influential act’s psychedelic leaning material.  And yet, it still manages to hew closely to the spirit and overall vibe of the original. 

New Video: The Dream Syndicate’s Trippy and Meditative Visual for “Apropos of Nothing”

Over the better part of the past 12-15 months or so, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink writing about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays The Dream Syndicate. Tracing its origins back to the early 80s, the band which currently features founding members Steve Wynn (guitars, vocals), a critically applauded singer/songwriter and solo artist and Dennis Duck (drums), along with the band’s most recent members Mark Walton (bass) and Jason Victor (guitar), the members of the acclaimed psych rock act just released their third post-reunion and seventh full-length album The Universe Inside through Anti- Records. 

Arguably one of the most forward-thinking, mind-bending efforts they’ve yet to release, the album marks the first time in their storied history in which every song on the album was conceived and written as a collective group. And the result is an album that sounds unlike anything they’ve done together or individually. Musically, the material draws from each individual member’s eclectic interests and passions: Dennis Duck’s love and knowledge of European avant garde music, Jason Victor’s love of 70s prog rock, Mark Walton’s experience in Southern-friend music collectives, Chris Cacavas’ interest in sound manipulation and Wynn’s love of 70s jazz fusion. Interestingly, the album’s material comes from one completely improvised session in which the band created 80 continuous minutes of soundscapes. “All we added was air,” Wynn explains in press notes. So, aside from vocals, horns and a touch of percussion here and there, every instrument is recorded live as it happened.

So far I’ve written about the album’s first two single. The album’s the sprawling, Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson-era Miles Davis meets prog rock and psych rock-like first single, “The Regulator,” which features The Long Ryders‘ Stephen McCarthy on sitar and Butcher Brown‘s Marcus Tenney on sax. Adding to the lysergic and hazy vibe, Wynn’s vocals were fed through vocoder and ghostly effects — and then buried within the mix. The album’s second single was the brooding and atmospheric “The Longing,” an eerily prescient meditation on mortality and the passage of time that evokes the creeping realization of one’s own morality; the awareness of unfinished business and the gnawing lack of closure or even meaning; and the uneasy feeling of being adrift and alone in a frightening and uncertain world. 

The album’s third and latest single “Apropos of Nothing” continues the album’s lysergic vibes: The song opens with an expansive and trance-inducing introductory section centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars and a motorik-groove and surrealistic and impressionistic lyrics that slowly builds up into the sort of ecstatic catharsis reminiscent of the Sufi whirling dervishes.

“The only verbal cue that came during the entire 80 minutes of improvisation that led to The Universe Inside happened as we started the section that became ‘Apropos of Nothing,’” Wynn explains. “We had been messing around in the key of E on the bits that led to ‘The Regulator’ and ‘The Longing’ and then Stephen McCarthy said ‘Let’s try something in G.’ He started playing the figure that starts the section and off we went. We were so locked in with each other and our antennae were poised for any clues that anyone in the band had to offer.

When I went back to Richmond to finish the record I knew I wanted to sing something on this section.  I went into the studio and quickly wrote the words—it took about 5 minutes—just so I’d have something to sing. I did one pass and said, ‘Give me another track so I can try out a harmony.’ I did that in one pass as well and that was that. It’s really a good sign—and definitely the pattern of things for this particular record—when things happen so easily and naturally.”

Directed by long-time visual collaborator David Dalglish, the recently released video is a cinematic meditation on the passage of time and our potential watery demise. And as the video suggests, what of our things and our world if we’re no longer here to give them meaning? 

New Video: The Dream Syndicate Releases a Haunting Meditation on Time and Mortality

Over the past year or so, I’ve managed to write quite a bit about the acclaimed Los Angeles-based psych rock act The Dream Syndicate. Tracing its origins back to the 80s, the band which currently features founding members Steve Wynn (guitars, vocals), a critically applauded singer/songwriter and solo artist and Dennis Duck (drums), along with the band’s most recent members Mark Walton (bass) and Jason Victor (guitar), the members of the acclaimed psych rock act will be releasing their latest effort, The Universe Inside through Anti- Records on April 10, 2020. 

Officially, their third reunion-era effort and their seventh overall, the forthcoming album will reportedly be one oft he most mind-bending and trippiest efforts they’ve released to date — and for the first time in their storied and lengthy history. every song on the album is a group songwriting effort. Musically, the material draws from each individual member’s eclectic interests and passions: Dennis Duck’s love and knowledge of European avant garde music, Jason Victor’s love of 70s prog rock, Mark Walton’s experience in Southern-friend music collectives, Chris Cacavas’ interest in sound manipulation and Wynn’s love of 70s jazz fusion. Recorded in one session, the band recorded 80 continuous minutes of soundscapes. “All we added was air,” Wynn explains in press notes. So, aside from vocals, horns and a touch of percussion here and there, every instrument is recorded live as it happened.

Last month, I wrote about the album’s sprawling and epic first single “The Regulator.” Now, as you may recall, the single clocked in at a little under 21 minutes and was sort of seamless synthesis of Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson-era Miles Davis, motorik groove-driven prog rock and 60s psych rock — thanks to droning electric sitar played by The Long Ryders‘ Stephen McCarthy, a sinuous bass line, soulful sax flourishes by Butcher Brown‘s Marcus Tenney. Adding to a lysergic vibes, Wynn’s vocals were fed through vocoder and ghostly effects and then buried within the trippy and funky mix.

“’The Regulator’ is a microcosm of the entire record,” Wynn explains in press notes. “It was just a formless, trippy mass as we all started playing together. There was an early 70’s drum machine—a Maestro Rhythm King, the same model used on There’s A Riot Goin’ On—with Dennis locking in and setting the pace. Stephen grabbed an electric sitar because it was the first thing he saw. Jason and I were kicking pedals on like lab monkeys in a laboratory and Mark was a lightning rod, uniting all of those elements into one tough groove. I collected a list of random, unconnected lyric ideas that I kept on my phone. I tried them all out in random order in my home studio just to see how they would feel and that one-take test run is the vocal you hear! There’s just so much lightning-in-a-jar, first take excitement on this record.”

The Universe Inside’s second and latest single is the brooding and atmospheric “The Longing.” Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a propulsive bass line, jazz-like drumming and Steve Wynn’s imitable vocals, “The Longing” is an eerily prescient meditation on morality and the passage of time that manages to capture and evoke things I’ve personally felt over the past year or two — and that many of us have felt recently: the creeping realization of one’s mortality; the sense that there will be some degree of unfinished business — both professionally and personally; the mournful and uneasy feeling of being adrift, alone and frightened in an uncertain world. 

“A friend of mine once said, ‘You ought to write a song about longing,’” the band’s Steve Wynn says of the song and its title. “This was a few years back but it stuck with me and when I was listening to minutes 20 through 28 of the improvisation that became The Universe Inside I knew that the suggestion had finally found its proper home. This section of music — that followed in real time the part that became “The Regulator” — felt so mournful and lost and adrift and confused, much like longing itself. You think you know where it’s at? The longing is stronger than that.”

Directed by the band’s longtime visual collaborator David Daglish, the recently released video for “The Longing” is a cryptic yet gorgeous meditation on yearning, memories and the inevitable (and unstoppable) passage of time. “Our resident visual interpreter David Dalglish picked up on that feeling for a video that connected hauntingly to that feeling of distance and memory. And now?  Suddenly it all feels very much of the moment. A chasm, sleepless for day and days, rootless, unsettled and alone.  All that’s left is the longing,” the band’s Steven Wynn explains in press notes.