Massage is a Los Angeles-based indie rock act comprised id of Alex Naidus (guitar, vocals), who was once a member of Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Michael Felix (drums), Andrew Romano (guitar, vocals), David Rager (bass) and Gabrielle Ferrer (keys, vocals), and in a relatively short period of time, the band has received attention for crafting a jangling guitar pop sound that as the band’s Andrew Romano says in press notes was “inspired by a new generation of Australian bands like Twerps and Boomgates and Dick Driver, who are ostensibly doing a very retrograde thing — I mean they’re mostly white guys playing guitar rock — but somehow finding a sweet spot that Americans, who tend towards the muscular and melodramatic, always seem to miss: messier and more casual, but also catchier somehow.”
The band’s full-length debut Oh Boy is slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Tear Jerk Records, and the album’s latest single, album title track “Oh Boy,” will further cement their growing reputation for writing shimmering guitar pop and gorgeous melodies — but with a loose, ramshackle vibe. As the band’s Romano says of the song “‘Oh Boy’ is our California version of that ramshackle vibe. When I wrote it, I was listening to a lot of 16 Lovers Lane-era Go-Betweens — ground zero for today’s Aussie scene — and I think that their influence may have come through in all the droning chords and the domestic imagery. The last lines of the song were dummy lyrics that suck. I realized what they were about — how honest they were about things I hadn’t even realized I was feeling; about family and fatherhood and settling down and ambition — and the rest of the words were written in response. Sometimes a song tells you what it wants to be.”
Currently comprised of founding members Chris Rosi (rhythm guitar, vocals) and Corey Cunningham (lead guitar, keys), along with newest members Jenny Moffett (bass) and Brice Bradley (drums), the Los Angeles-based indie rock outfit Smokescreens can trace their origins to when its founding duo initially met and became friends while touring in their previous bands — the critically applauded Plateaus and Terry Malts — back in 2011. By 2015 Rosi and Cunningham relocated to Los Angeles to start Smokescreens, an act that they’ve described as a love letter to the 1980s New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records scene. As the story goes, after cutting their teeth playing in bars and bowling alleys across Southern California, Rosi and Cunningham recruited engineer/drummer Jon Green to help them put their shambling love letters to Kiwi guitar pop on tape.
Initially released through Cunningham’s Parked in Hell Records and re-issued by Spanish indie label Meritorio Records, the Los Angeles-based indie rock band’s self-titled, full-length debut was recorded in a disused dairy factory and was mixed in mono. After Jon Greene’s death, the band decided to continue onward, recruiting their newest members Brice Bradley and Jenny Moffif, which enabled Cunningham to switch to lead guitar and keys. As a newly constituted quartet, the band spent time tirelessly working, nurturing and refining their sound and writing batches of songs before eventually heading to Primitive Ears Studio to track the ten songs that would eventually comprise their sophomore effort Used to Yesterday in rapid-fire fashion. Armed with tapes from the sessions, the members of the band brought them to The Allah-lahs‘ Kyle Malarky, who created a final mix that reportedly captures the band’s rhythmic drive and melodic verve. Unsurprisingly, the band’s sophomore effort continues the band’s longtime obsession with 80s, New Zealand guitar pop — but while expanding upon it, incorporating some new influences, including Messthetics-era DIY pop; in fact, the album’s latest single “Someone New” is a jangling and breakneck, propulsive bit of guitar pop with razor sharp hooks that sounds as though it could have been quietly and quickly released in 1982, and was discovered by a collector in a random used record bin.
Initially began as the solo recording project of the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter Peter Michel, Hibou quickly exploded into the national scene with his self-produced, home recorded, 2015 self-titled debut, which received praise from Pitchfork, Stereogum, Consequence of Sound and others for crafting shimmering yet introspective bedroom pop. And adding to a growing profile, Michel opened for the like son Metric, Phantogram and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Michel’s sophomore Hibou effort Something Familiar is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through Barsuk Records finds Michel embracing a number of changes. The Seattle, WA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer made a rather conscious choice to track the album’s material in a real studio — this time, Chris Walla‘s Hall of Justice Studios, with an outside producer, Dylan Wall, who has worked with Craft Spells, a band that Michel once played drums in. Adding to a string of changes to his creative and recording process, Something Familiar finds Michel recording with his touring band. “I toured for a long time with the band, and it was really interesting to see how the songs changed when there were four people playing them, as opposed to just me in my bedroom,” Michel explains in press notes.
Along with that, the material reflects a period marked by profound changes. “I was still a teenager when I was writing the first album,” Michel says. “All of the songs feel a little one-faced. They’re about relationships and love and summertime and things like that. On this upcoming album, I really challenged myself lyrically to get a little more personal, and talk about some of the darker parts of myself.” In fact, the material addresses Michel’s ongoing bouts with anxiety and depersonalization. (Depersonalization is a disorder generally distinguished by feeling disengaged from the mind and body. as if if the sufferer is an outsider looking in at their own self.) Naturally, while still retaining elements of the sound that first caught both national attention and the attention of the blogosphere — namely, lush keys, reverb soaked guitars and Michel’s dreamy crooning. “It was strange to start consciously writing from a different stylistic standpoint, but I didn’t want to totally turn the page,” Michel notes. “There is still a fundamental Hibou sound in there. It just is drenched in a little more honesty.”
Originally formed back in 2007 in a fifth floor walk-up on Bleecker Street, the Brooklyn-based band Darlings have managed to stick around for what may be considered an eternity in a rather competitive (and increasingly […]