Tag: Chuck Berry

Interview: A Q&A with The Sighs

Holyoke, MA-based rock band The Sighs can trace their origins back to 1982 when its founding members Robert LaRoche (vocals, guitar) and Tommy Pluta (bass, vocals) met and bonded over their mutual of love of acts like The Beach BoysCrosby, Stills and Nash and other that employed the use of multi-part harmonies. Interestingly enough, it helped that while the Holyoke-based band’s founding members were jamming together, they discovered that their own voices blended together beautifully.

Tom Borawaski (drums) and Matt Cullen (vocals, guitar) were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and to complete the band’s initial lineup. Shortly after the band’s lineup was finalized, they quickly began makin a name for themselves as a must-see live act across the region. As Tommy Pluta explained 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 paths with John DeNicola, an Oscar Award-winning songwriter and producer, who co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” and his production partner Tommy Allen at the China Club in 1990. And after meeting DeNicola and Allen, the Holyoke-based band signed with  Charisma/Virgin Records, who released their full-length debut, What Goes On to critical acclaim. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the band toured with nationally touring acts like Gin BlossomsDada and others.

The band eventually split up with members of the band pursuing individual creative projects and/or focusing on family life. Interestingly, the material on the band’s third full-length album, 2017’s Wait On Another Day can trace its origins to an unearthed batch of demos that the band’s Matt Cullen stumbled upon. Originally recorded in the early 1990s, and later placed on hard drives, the demos had been forgotten about for the better part of 20 years – until Cullen played them. He was so impressed by what he heard, that he shared the demos with his bandmates and their longtime producer John DeNicola.

Feeling that the band had unfinished business – and that they should continue the collective story they started 20+ years previously, the band decided to reconvene at DiNicola’s Upstate New York-based studio to revise a handful of songs. But as the band’s Tom Borawski explained at the time “. . . 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 said of the five-day recording session that produced Wait On Another Day. Borowski added “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.” As a result, the material possesses a urgency and vitality to it that many contemporary bands wish they could capture on record. Interestingly, while much of the album’s material focuses on many of the things that they wrote about in their youth – girls, getting kicked around, hopes and dreams and falling in love but tinged with the wistful and aching nostalgia of middle-aged men, who have been forced to accept the passage of time, their impending mortality – and the old adage that the more things change, the more they remain the same: no matter how old you are, heartache is heartache and life is ultimately about figuring out how to learn from it and move forward.

Building upon the attention they received from Wait On Another Day, the members reconvened to write and record its highly-anticipated follow-up, the five song Tearing My Heart Again, which OMAD Records released today. The EP’s material finds the band continuing where its predecessor left off but while revealing a band that has grown in the past three years. While they pull in some new ideas to the mix, they do so without straying too far afield from what has been successful – carefully crafted, hook-driven rock paired with earnest songwriting.

I recently exchanged emails with the members of The Sighs for this edition of the JOVM Q&A. World events have found a way to impact all of us – and as a result, they’ve managed to bleed into every aspect of our professional and person lives in ways that will reverberate for quite some time to come. With COVID-19 forcing cities and localities across the world to indefinitely shut down bars, restaurants, clubs, music venues and countless other non-essential businesses, the impact on musicians and the music industry will be far-reaching and devastating. Over the next few months, I’ll be discussing how COVID-19 has impacted the careers and lives of artists of all stripes – and the members of the Holyoke-based band openly and honestly discuss where they stand right now and what may be next. Of course, we chat about the recently released EP at length, the band’s tour with The Gin Blossoms and more. Check it out below.

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Support these artists by buying their work. You can order The Sighs EP here:

https://www.omadrecords.com/store/the-sighs-tearing-my-heart-again-ep

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WRH:  Most of the country has been enacting social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. How are y’all holding up in such a difficult and uncertain time? What are you doing to preoccupy yourself? Anything you’re binge watching? 

Robert LaRoche: Been pretty much staying home. Except to go for a daily run and food shopping.

Working on new songs. Binge watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix.

Tommy Borowski: Been binge watching bad 70’s movies…

WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or canceled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed or rescheduled tour dates, album releases have been rescheduled. I’ve asked this question to a handful of artists already – and I suspect that for some period of time I’ll be asking a lot of bands this: How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career? 

Matt Cullen: Well, we’re all at a standstill. We had a Sighs gig booked in mid-March in our home base of western Massachusetts. Robert flew in from Austin and I flew from Des Moines. After couple of spirited rehearsals, the gig was cancelled. I’m now home and have seen all of my gigs here cancelled for the foreseeable future. I don’t make my living entirely from music but playing roughly 100 gigs a year certainly helps the family kitty. Those lost wages will hurt and the loss of that enjoyment, performing, making music, that hurts equally.

WRH: Who’s the funniest guy in the band? 

RLR: It depends on the given day I suppose! We all have our moments. [But] I’m going to go with Tommy Pluta on this one 💙

MC: If you asked Tommy Pluta……..😎

WRH: Who are your influences?

Tommy Pluta: Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, Shoes, Foo Fighters.

RLR: I was heavily influenced by The Everly Brothers. And tried to incorporate their two-part harmony style into The Sighs music. Also love early American Rock ‘n’ Roll pioneers like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. And, of course The Beatles and Beach Boys were a big influence.

MC: Too many to name. The typical ones. The British Invasion bands, particularly The Beatles. A lot of 70’s rock and pop rock: Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, Raspberries, Queen, The Cars. I could go on…….

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

TP: Fountains of Wayne.

RLR: Jenifer Jackson, a local singer/songwriter here in Austin

MC: My current go-to is a live record by Bo Ramsey and the Backsliders. Bo is a spooky, great player, known for his work with Lucinda Williams and Greg Brown. He’s an Iowa guy and I’ve opened for him here and have gotten to know him a little. I’m crossing my fingers to do some playing with him. Also, and sadly, I’ve been revisiting Fountains of Wayne since the news of Adam’s death.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with The Sighs? 

TP: Classic Power Pop / Rock sound. Two guitars, bass, drums, melodic with three part harmony.  The Smithereens, Gin Blossoms

WRH: The band can trace its origins back to when its founding members – Robert LaRoche and Tommy Pluta – met back in 1982. Tom Borawski and Matt Cullen were the recruited and the band then spent next eight years gigging around Western Massachusetts. In 1990, the members of the band crossed paths with John DeNicola, who became your producer and you signed with Charisma/Virgin Records. So, the band went from playing the college circuit to touring with the Gin Blossoms, who were selling millions of records and being played on the radio every single day. How was that experience like? 

TP: We always tried to make the most of every opportunity.

We had been on the road for months prior to touring with the Gin Blossoms so we were ready to take the next step.  Getting the chance to perform our music to their fans night after night was a terrific experience.  They were especially nice to us, and we found a lot of commonality with our music and influences. It would be great to do some dates with them again. . .

WRH: The band eventually split up after the release of their sophomore album with each of the individual band members focusing on other creative projects, on raising families and working day jobs. 20 years pass and as the story goes, Matt Cullen stumbles upon some demos that the band recorded in the early 90s. What was the experience of hearing the demos for the first time in so long like? 

MC: It was really cool to find the old recordings. I had transferred a boxful of 1/4 tapes to a hard drive, without listening to them. That was in 2010. It was 6 years later that I opened the folder labeled Sighs. We had been cranking out demos from 90-93 (?), both for the Charisma album and also for what we hoped would be a follow up with them. None of us recalled recording a few of them. You’d finish a song and move on. I got goosebumps when I realized what I had stumbled upon. I did rough mixes and sent unnamed mp3s to the guys. They were really surprised, and we were all excited by how well the home recordings had held up.

WRH: How was it like to revisit material that you wrote some 20 years prior? How were the first writing sessions for Wait on Another Day? Did your songwriting process change between your sophomore album and 2017’s Wait on Another Day?

RLR: The WOAD songs were written before, during, and after the recording of our debut CD What Goes On, during the period between 1987 and 1993. We had a lot of songs to choose from at that time. And only a dozen were chosen for What Goes On. The tracks on WOAD were songs already included in our live performances. We were a pretty well-oiled machine by then. Revisiting and re-recording this material over 20 years after their inception was great fun! And genuinely satisfying.

WRH: The five song EP, Tearing My Heart Again was recently released. In some way the EP finds the band continuing where they left off, as though the lengthy hiatus had never happened. While the material is centered through some passionate performances as collective whole, the EP – to my ears – reveals quite a bit of growth. It seems to capture old, wizened pros, who have gotten back on the proverbial horse but with some new ideas. How does Tearing My Heart Again differ from your previously released work? Was that intentional? What inspired it? 

TP: We drew inspiration from the fun we had recording WOAD in the Fall 2016. Recording new Sighs music (20+ years later) was something we discussed a couple times, and the possibility came around again in August of 2019.  We had a couple songs and several ideas, we just had to find the time to all be in one place to record which ended up being 3 days starting New Years’ Day 2020. The process of writing was the same in some ways and very different in other ways. We always shared ideas to see which ones we though would fit, and then developed them, but sharing ideas is so much easier with technology. A lot of text and email.

 WRH:  What does the EP touch upon thematically?

RLR: The five songs on “Tearing My Heart Again” deal with personal relationships.
In the title track, the protagonist is involved in an unhealthy love affair. Where heartbreak is an ongoing concern, and dark attraction becomes a fatal flaw.

WRH: “Over the Line” is one of my favorite songs on the EP. It’s probably the most Smithereens-like on the five songs. Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s about?

RLR: “Over the Line” is about the near hopelessness and futility of caring for someone in active addiction. With the resignation that although you cannot judge the person you care for, and will continue to be there for them, the possibility of the active addict to cross over the line and become another fatality statistic, is forever present.

WRH: Oddly enough, there are sections of EP closing track “Rise” that somehow reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage.” Maybe I’m hearing thing but, did that influence the track at all about 

RLR You’re spot on with the Pink Floyd reference on the EP’s closing track “Rise.” Tommy Pluta initially sent me the guitar riff and chord changes. Which were already quite psychedelic sounding. We put a two-part harmony over the music in the vein of Waters and Gilmour. Our producer John DeNicola used an old school tape echo on the vocals. This gave the track the retro feel we were striving for.

WRH: What advice would you give to bands/artists trying to make a name for themselves thematically

 MC: I don’t know that my track record qualifies me to give advice but I will say that you must absolutely love what you do. There are many obstacles and it’s a long road. In today’s music world, I’d say you need to have a strong presence online. Sales are a different animal than what I grew up with. Touring is always helpful in spreading the word but can be financially daunting. CD mailers to college or community radio in your area are helpful. Try to grow it steadily. Again, you better love it!  :/)

WRH: What’s next for the band

MC:  It’s hard to say what is next for us. I’m not sure anyone of us would have guessed that we would have released a full-length record and an EP in the last three years. We never say never and leave ourselves open to all possibilities.  We have a strong personal relationship which leaves the musical door open at all times.

  

Deriving their name from a playful, Anglophile nod towards the famed physicist Issac Newton, the Paris-based electro pop act Isaac Delusion —  founding members and creative core Loïc Fleury (vocals, guitar) and Jules Paco (keys) — was formed back in 2010. With the release of 2014’s self-titled debut effort, the act received attention for a sound and approach that meshed the acoustic instrumentation with a bold use of electronics — while nodding a bit at dream pop.

The duo then toured exclusively across France and the rest of the European Union to support their full-length debut. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Rust & Gold found the duo’s sound shifting from the ethereal and atmospheric dream pop of its immediate predecessor with the material focusing on tangible emotions, soulful rhythms and insightful observations on one and the human condition.

The Paris-based electro pop’s first two albums have managed to amass over 500,000 Spotify streams a month. Building upon a rapidly growing profile across their native France and elsewhere, the act played Pitchfork Paris, as well as sold-out headlining shows at venues like  L’Olympia and Elysee Montmarte.

Microqlima Records released the French duo’s third album uplifters last year. Thematically, the album was centered around misplaced nostalgia for one’s long-passed youth, As a result the album’s material is imbued with a longing for the freedom, simplicity and unguarded honesty of their younger selves — and regret for the missed opportunities you can never get back. And much like its predecessors, uplifters‘ material was written and sung primarily in English with a handful of songs written and sung in their native French.

Album single “pas l’habitude” was one of the few album tracks written and sung in French. While the song is a breezy synth pop song, centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, plaintive and dreamy vocals, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook — but the song’s breezy and easygoing nature is superficial: the song is actually an achingly bittersweet ode to the proverbial loss of innocence and getting older. Life and its ambiguity after all, will break your heart countless times over. It’s up to you to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Franc Moody is a London-based electro pop collective, centered around its core duo and creative masterminds Ned and Jon. Jon comes from a family of classical musicians and as  result, he grew up surrounded by oboes, cellos and violins. Ned grew up listening to the music that his parents played on car trips — classic soul, 50s/60s New Orleans music, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Eddie Cochran. “I loved the melody and the groove of that music, but I think really I loved the energy of it as well,” Ned explains in press notes.

The London-based collective’s core duo met when they ere part of a a collection of bands and musicians, who took over an abandoned warehouse in North London back in 2014. “It was called the Arch,” Jon recalls. “When we moved in, it was bare bones concrete walls. A horrible place basically. We built these two analogue recording studios. There were old microphones, hammered organs, and beaten up guitar amps. It was quite craggy.”

The Arch quickly became known for raucous and packed live shows and parties that went well into the night, with live bands frequently getting on around 3am. We’ve all been to similar parties: there’s no bouncer, one port-a-potty with a line of being desperately waiting to pee but the vibe is amazing. Interestingly, Ned and Jon cut their teeth as live musicians in that environment. “We learned to love performing music that made people dance, in the same way those old funk and soul artists used to,” Ned explains. “In fact, what we were doing at the warehouse was sort of in a similar tradition to the Zydeco sessions and crawfish boils around South Louisiana, purely focused around dancing. It was quite simple.”

Franc Moody started in earnest when the duo moved out of The Arch and began to focus on a project that meshed their various influenced. No longer living in the warehouse, they struggled to find a space big enough to fit a drum kit. Instead, they stated programming drums and an electronic aesthetic began to permeate through their older influences.

Their debut effort, 2016’s self-titled EP consisted of a series of Giorgio Moroder-like instruments; but their breakthrough single, the critically applauded “Dopamine” found the band truly establishing their sound: a disco-tinged sound that was subtly indebted to Prince. Building upon a growing profile, the duo released their sophomore EP, 2018’s Dance Moves which eventually amassed over 20 million streams.

They’ve also developed a mesmerizing live sound, inspired by the warehouse rave scene that they came up in — and those live shows find them surrounded by a cast of collaborators and friends as their backing band. In fact, they’ve opened for Friendly Fires  and a number of other acts. Recently, the London-based electro pop collective remixed “pas l’habitude.” And while they retain Loïc Fleury’s achingly plaintive French vocals, they turn the song into Random Access Memories-era Daft Punk like club banger, centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios and four on the floor drum programming.

New Video: Watch Baby Shakes Go on a Godzilla-Styled Campy Romp Across New York

Formed back in 2005, the New York-based rock/punk act Baby Shakes, comprised of Mary  (lead vocals), Judy (guitar, vocals), Claudia (bass, vocals) and Ryan (drums) have released a handful of one-off singles, a singles compilation, a 10 inch heart-shaped vinyl EP and three full-length albums that have firmly established their sound –a sound that generally draws from Ramones, Chuck Berry, 60s Motown-era girl groups with melodic vocals, fuzzy and distorted power chords and enormous hooks within breakneck songs. And building upon a growing profile, the members of the band have toured across the US, Japan, China, Ireland, the UK and the European Union and shared stages with The Romantics, The Boys, The Shadows of Knight, The Undertones, The Barracudas, Protex, Black Lips, Paul Collins’ Beat, Iggy Pop and a growing list of others.

Baby Shakes’ fourth album Cause a Scene is slated for a Friday release, and as you may recall, the album is reportedly inspired by and indebted to the original wave of punk— in particular, The Nerves, The Kids, early Bangles and The Go-Gos, The Runaways, as well as the Ramones. Cause a Scene’s first single “Nowhere Fast,” was a breakneck bit of fuzzy, old school punk paired with an infectious, power pop hook, making the song a sort of seamless synthesis of Ramones and The Go-Gos. “Love Song In Reverse” continued in a similar vein — fuzzy and distorted power chords and enormous, infectious hooks. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, album title track “Cause a Scene” is a straightforward, old-school garage rock track that sounds indebted to Sweet’s 
“The Ballroom Blitz” and T. Rex, as the track is centered around 12 bar blues-like guitar riffs, enormous hooks — and a pop-leaning infectiousness just underneath the grit and sleaze. (After all, the song is about two of rock’s greatest, undying tropes — how awesome being in a band is and shaking your ass to a great song.) 

Co-directed by Scott Mason and Claudia de Latour, the recently released video for “Cause a Scene” is an old-school-styled campy romp around New York that follows the members of the band as Godzilla-sized characters bringing rock ‘n’ roll grooves to any and all comers. as well as some mayhem, too. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the New York-based rock/punk act Baby Shakes.  The act, which is currently comprised of Mary  (lead vocals), Judy (guitar, vocals), Claudia (bass, vocals) and Ryan (drums) was formed back in 2005. And since their formation, they’ve released a handful of one-off singles, a singles compilation, a 10 inch heart-shaped EP and three albums that have firmly established their sound and aesthetic — a sound that generally draws from Ramones, Chuck Berry, 60s Motown-era girl groups with melodic vocals, fuzzy and distorted power chords and enormous hooks within breakneck songs.

The members of the band have toured across the US, Japan, China, Ireland, the UK and the European Union and shared stages with the likes of The Romantics, The Boys, The Shadows of Knight, The Undertones, The Barracudas, Protex, Black Lips, Paul Collins’ Beat, Iggy Pop and a growing list of others. Now, as you may recall, Baby Shakes’ latest effort Cause a Scene is slated for release next week, and the album is reportedly inspired by and indebted to the original wave of punk — in particular, The Nerves, The Kids, early Bangles and The Go-Gos, The Runaways, as well as the Ramones.

Nowhere Fast,” the album’s first single was a breakneck bit of fuzzy, old school punk with an infectious power pop-like hook that reminded me of a seamless synthesis of Ramones and The Go-Gos. The album’s second single,  “Love Song In Reverse” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor: it’s all fuzzy and distorted power chords and enormous hooks. And while clocking in at a little over two minutes — roughly 2:25 in this case — the song manages to be an infectious mixture of sugary sweet pop confection and sleazy barroom rock.

 

 

 

Formed back in 2005, the New York-based rock/punk act Baby Shakes — Mary  (lead vocals), Judy (guitar, vocals), Claudia (bass, vocals) and Ryan (drums) have released a handful of one-off singles, a singles compilation, a 10 inch heart-shaped EP and three full-length albums that have firmly established their sound — melodic vocals paired with fuzzy power cords that generally draws from the likes of Ramones, Chuck Berry, 60s Motown-era girl groups.

The members of the band have toured across the US, Japan, China, Ireland, the UK and the European Union and shared stages with the likes of The Romantics, The Boys, The Shadows of Knight, The Undertones, The Barracudas, Protex, Black Lips, Paul Collin’s Beat, Iggy Pop and a growing list of others. Interestingly, the New York-based punk act’s forthcoming album Cause a Scene is slated for a September 20, 2019 release, and the album is reportedly indebted to the original wave of punk — in particular, The Nerves, The Kids, early Bangles and The Go-Gos, The Runaways, as well as the Ramones.

Clocking in at exactly two minutes, “Nowhere Fast,” Cause a Scene‘s lead single is a breakneck bit of fuzzy, old-school punk with an infectious, power pop-like hook — and while clearly indebted to Ramones, Go-Gos and the like, the song is one part snotty and in your face, one part sweet, and one part cynical scowl, delivered with the self-assuredness of old pros.

 

 

Over the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the London-based garage punk quartet The Cavemen, and as you may recall, the band can trace its origins to when its founding members, Paul Caveman (vocals), Jack Caveman (guitar, vocals), Nick Caveman (bass) and Jake Caveman (drums) met attending high school in Auckland, New Zealand. Reportedly, the members of the band bonded over a shared love of sniffing glue and wild rock ‘n’ roll. After spending several years drinking and loitering in their hometown’s basements, graveyards and parking lots, they honed their sound, eventually spending the better part of 2014-2015 recording their full-length debut. Interestingly, their debut album received attention locally for their ability to craft furious, face-melting power chord-based punk, inspired by The Ramones, The CrampsThe Stooges, and The MC5. Thematically, the material found the band making references about grave-robbing, necrophilia and other perverse, Troma Films-inspired shit but with a sneering sense of humor.

Just two weeks before the band was about to relocate to London, they went on a national graveyard tour that became infamous for its tackiness and for being ill-fated: the band’s Nick Caveman died in a tragic car accident, which forced the cancellation of the rest of the tour. Since then, Dirty Water Records released their debut across the European Union and elsewhere — and as a result of album single “Stand By Your Ghoul” and their “Burn Out For Love” 7 inch, the now London-based received international attention for boozy and filthy punk rippers.

They built upon their growing reputation for old-school-inspired punk rippers with the release of last year’s Nuke Earth and the “Lowlife” 7 inch, which featured the Johnny Thunders‘ “Born to Lose,” Highway to Hell-era AC/DC and New York Dolls-like “Lowlife.” Interestingly, this year has been a rather busy year for the London-based punk rockers, as they quickly followed the “Lowlife” 7 inch with the breakneck, filthy, troglodyte stomp of “My Baby Knows.” Centered by buzzing power chords, a rousing, mosh pit friendly hook, shouted vocals and a boozy Chuck Berry-like solo, the track is frenzied and furious take on ’77 era punk, compete with Troma Films-like lyrics.

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Join London’s Booze Fueled Punk Rockers The Caveman on Tour

Last year, I wrote a bit about the now-London-based punk rock quartet The Cavemen — and as you may recall, the band originally formed in Auckland, New Zealand when its initial lineup of Paul Caveman (vocals), Jack Caveman (guitar, vocals), Nick Caveman (bass) and Jake Caveman (drums) met while in high school — with the band’s founding members reportedly bonding over a shared love of glue and wild rock ‘n’ roll. After spending several years drinking and loitering around Auckland’s basements, graveyards and parking lots, the band’s founding lineup honed their sound. And over the course of 2014-2015, the band recorded their full-length debut, which received attention locally for material that at the time could be described as furious, face-melting power chord-based punk inspired by The Ramones, The CrampsThe Stooges, and The MC5 while thematically touching upon grave-robbing, necrophilia and other perverse shit with a sneering sense of humor; in fact, when the band was based in Auckland, they developed a reputation for being infamous — or as the band claimed at the time, they were a “great band to clear a party.”

Just two weeks before the members of the band were to relocate to London, they went on a rather infamous national tour to support their full-length debut. Unsurprisingly, the tour included an ill-fated graveyard tour that had to be canceled when Nick Caveman died in a tragic car accident. Dirty Water Records released their debut album across the European Union and elsewhere, and from debut album single “Stand By Your Ghoul” and their “Burn Out For Love” 7 inch, the band revealed that they specialized in a boozy and filthy punk rippers centered around fuzzy power chords, amphetamine-fueled drumming and howled vocals. Building upon a growing reputation for grimy, old-school-inspired punk, the London-based band released, the pummeling full-length Nuke Earth last year, which they followed up with the “Lowlife” 7 inch earlier this year. The 7 inch’s A-side “Lowlife” manages to be reminiscent of Johnny Thunders‘ “Born to Lose,” Highway to Hell-era AC/DC and New York Dolls with howled lyrics, a Chuck Berry-inspired guitar solo and a furious, booze-fueled nihilism.

The recently released video is split between raucous and sweaty, beer and shots-fueled live footage shot while the band was on tour and intimate, behind the scenes footage of the band goofing off while on the road. Of course, the band will be hitting the road with a French and Spanish that will run throughout this month.

 

Black Pistol Fire is an Austin, TX-based rock act featuring Toronto, ON-born duo Kevin McKeown (guitar, vocals) and Eric Owen (drums). And since their formation, the duo whose sound and approach has been largely inspired by Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, Nirvana, Buddy Holly and Muddy Waters, has received a national profile for an untamed and blistering live set. Dubbed the “next big thing” by Huffington Post after their 2013 SXSW appearance, the act has built upon that reputation by playing some of the largest festivals including Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch Music Festival, Shaky Knees and Governor’s Ball, as well as Mad Cool and Colours of Ostrava.

The Austin-based duo’s latest single is the swaggering and bluesy “Level,” a track centered around enormous power chords, thunderous drumming, arena rock friendly hooks and McKeown’s self-assured, rock god-like crooning. And while adding themselves to a growing list of power chord-based blues rock duos, they do so with an ass-kicking, name-taking self-assuredness of old pros.

The duo have lined up some tour dates during the first part of the year. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

1/11 – Gothic Theater – Denver, CO
1/12 – Belly Up Aspen – Aspen, CO
3/2-3/3 – Innings Festival – Phoenix, AZ
5/3-5/5 – Welcome to Rockville – Jacksonville, FL
5/10-12 – Rockingham – Charlotte, NC
5/17-5/19 – Sonic Temple – Columbus, OH (fka Rock on the Range)

Comprised of founding member and primary songwriter Dan Sheron, Seth Mower, Ben Mower and Carl Osterlof, the now Los Angeles-based indie rock/indie folk quartet Balto can trace their origins back to when its founding member and primary songwriter was 21 and attempting to begin a journalism career in Moscow. After failing at that and suffering through overwhelming personal and professional heartbreak, Sheron felt that his life had collapsed. Without saying goodbye to his friends or bothering to pack his belongings, Sheron took a Siberia-bound train with a child’s guitar and a journal that quickly filled with songs. And as the story goes, at some point the idea of the project was born in a third-class train car, singing and drinking among strangers somewhere east of Novosibirsk.

Naturally, over some time and with the recruitment of Seth Mower, Ben Mower and Carl Osterlof, the project transformed from a songwriting vehicle into a full-fledged band who describe their sound as “a boozy, swaggering style of American music rooted at the intersection of Motown, Big StarPlastic Ono Band-era John Lennon and Jackson Browne” — although they have cited the likes of My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, Alabama Shakes, and The Arcs among others. Throughout their run together, the band has been fairly busy releasing 2011’s October’s Road, 2012’s Monuments 2015’s Call It By Its Name and last year’s Strangers, which was heavily praised by Seattle-based curators Artist Home as being “a tangle of beautiful messy emotions, wrapped in a sound that’s warmly familiar yet brimming with soul and tiny details that are touched by magic.”

During the past couple of years, the members of Balto relocated to Los Angeles and the move has also influenced their sound, with the band’s sound taking on a sunnier, more textured sound. In fact, their latest single, the shaggy, shuffling and boozy “Black Snake Mojave Blues” sound as though it were influenced by The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Allman Brothers Band as the song is centered by bluesy power chords, a big , muscular and infectious hook and a raucous, bunch of guys jamming together vibe.  In some way, it’s the perfect song for making a road trip without having a clear destination or purpose beyond just being alive and digging whatever you come across. Interestingly, as the band’s Dan Sheron says of the writing process, “I envisioned it as a slow sad song originally, but I’d left my guitar in Open G and was knocking around a blues and thought to try the song a different way.”