Tag: indie rock

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Portland, OR-based indie folk/psych rock/indie rock act The Parson Red Heads, and as you may recall the band, currently comprised of husband and wife duo Evan Way and Brette Marie Way, along with Sam Fowles, Robbie Auspurger and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends can trace their origins to when its founding core members met in Eugene OR in 2004, where they all were attending college and studying for degrees that as the band’s frontman Evan Way jokes in the band’s official bio “never used or even completed.” “We  would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

The following year, the band’s founding members relocated to Los Angeles, where they hoped that they would take music much more seriously and become a real band, with the members of the band eventually moving into and sharing a 1 bedroom apartment in West Lost Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says. And while in Los Angeles, the members of the band quickly became stalwarts of a growing 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene based primarily in the artsy Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, the band spent the next three years writing, and touring, and during that three year period they released an EP and their sophomore effort Yearling, which was partially recorded at Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. Once they had finished the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and their apartments and go on a lengthy tour with their friends in Cotton Jones before relocating to Portland. Interestingly around the same time, The Parson Red Heads had developed a reputation for an uninhibited live show, as they could easily morph from earnest rock to ass-kicking rock mode, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising as the band cites The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Nash, Stills and Young and Jackson Browne as major influences on their sound. Unsurprisingly, with their third full-length album Orb Weaver, the band actively wanted to capture the energy and sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” says Way. “When we play live, we play more like a rock band. We wanted to show that more aggressive side of us, the more rock-oriented side.”
Blurred Harmony, The Parson Red Heads’ fourth album was released earlier this year through renowned Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy, and as Way explained, the band intended to do things differently than they did before — with the band recording and tracking themselves, frequently setting up drums and amps, and furiously recording after everyone had put their kids to sleep, and trying to finish that day’s sessions before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”
December 8, 2017 will mark the release of the Expanded Edition of Blurred Harmony and it’ll feature two bonus tracks, which were originally recorded during the initial recording sessions and didn’t make the final cut, including the band’s latest single “TV Surprise.” As Way explains in press notes “‘TV Surprise’ is a song that’s been around for probably 10 years at least, maybe one. It’s got a real Felt/The Feelies vibe to it that I really like — those are two bands that we were just starting to get into around the time I wrote the song, so it’s no surprise that was coming through. The abstract feel of the lyrics is the thing that ended up making it not a perfect fit for inclusion on the Blurred Harmony album sequence, but Danny (O’Hanlon, who mixed the record) did a really great job creatively mixing the song — he added a lot of the textures that make this recording of the song have such a cool atmosphere and mood.”Sonically speaking, the song sounds as though the band were drawing from Fleetwood Mac, Southern rock and psych rock, as the song possesses the easy-going, self-assuredness of a bunch of old pros getting the old band together and jamming and while it sounds as though it would have been a perfect fit for the album, I agree with Way in the sense that the song doesn’t feel as personal as previous single “Coming Down” — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the song captures the band exploring a theme from a slightly different angle, and managing to get a similar yet distinctly different result.

 

 

Comprised of Dave Sitek, a guitarist, songwriter and producer, best known for being a member of TV on the Radio and for collaborating with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars, Foals, Celebration, Little Dragon, Beady Eye, Kelis, Santigold, and others; and Daniel Ledinsky, who’s best known for releasing the viral hit “DonaldTrumpMakesMeWannaSmokeCrack,” and for collaborating with Tove Lo, Kent, CeeLo Green, Shakira and Rihanna, the Los Angeles, CA-based duo The Neverly Boys are inspired by their adopted hometown, and the duo’s debut single together “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” is actually about the broken dreams on which Hollywood is built. Though the single was written and recorded before the relatively recent reports of rampant and unchecked abuse, the single comes from the same poisoned well. As Ledinsky says in press notes “I’m guessing most people who live here in Los Angeles can relate to that feeling of total hopelessness. This place sure creates some amazingly beautiful art, but it also has a tendency to use and corrupt you. Hollywood has attracted artists to come here to pursue their dreams since the 20’s, and a lot of people end up in a very dark place chasing that dream. I love this city for all its beauty, but it has always been a very hard and violent place as well.“ And as a result, “Burn, Hollywood, Burn” while consisting of a bluesy and twangy shuffle paired with an anthemic chorus manages to feel haunted, as though imbued by bitter and lingering ghosts.

 

 

 

Live Footage: The Fresh & Onlys Perform “Wolf Lie Down” at Tapetown Studios

Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio  Tapetown Studios  and  Sound of Aarhus have developed a live video series in which they invite national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studio during their free time to record a session — and along with that, the band would also be provided a unique glimpse of Aarhus beyond the exhausting touring routines of load-ins, soundchecks, live set, chat with strangers and friends, tear downs, pack ups, and van rides and/or flights to the next series of gigs. Now, if you’ve been frequenting recently, you’d know that Tapetown and Sound of Aarhus have invited the British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek and Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey. 

Of course, throughout the past few years, I’ve written quite about  Tim Cohen, woho has written, recorded and toured with a number of different bands and creative outlets, including Magic Trick, The Fresh & Onlys (with whom, he may be the best known) and as a solo artist. Interestingly, over that same period, Cohen has managed to be remarkably prolific and extremely busy: last year alone, the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter split time touring with Magic Trick and The Fresh & Onlys, worked on and recorded Magic Trick’s fourth album Other Man’s Blues, as well as his solo debut Luck Man — and he managed to balance all of that with the responsibilities of being a new father.  

Released earlier this year, Wolf Lie Down is the first Fresh & Onlys effort in over three years, and the album found collaborators and bandmates Cohen and Wymond Miles (guitar, production) stripping the layered sound and feel of their last few albums while keeping the focus on Cohen’s hyper-literate yet accessible lyrics, focusing on metaphysical musings; but in the case of album title track “Wolf Lie Down,” Cohen’s vocals and lyrics are paired with the sort of arrangement that should immediately remind you of  the Ramones. 

Recently, Cohen, Miles and company were touring Europe and were invited to stop by Aarhus’ Tapetown Studios where they played a loose and fast live version of “Wolf Lie Down.” Check it out. 

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.”

 

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays HEATERS Return with Cinematic Visuals for Their Most Textured and Nuanced Songs to Date

Over the bulk of this site’s almost eight year history — yes, eight! — I’ve personally written quite a bit about the Grand Rapids, MI-based psych rock quartet and JOVM mainstays HEATERS. And as you may recall, the band, which formed back in 2014 quickly received a growing national and international profile with their attention grabbing appearance on Stolen Body‘s Vegetarian Meat psych rock compilation. The Grand Rapids, MI-based quartet quickly followed up with the Solstice EP, released through Dizzybird Records and the  “Mean Green” 7 inch.  Renowned, Brooklyn-based indie label Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records released their full-length debut Holy Water Pool to critical applause throughout the blogosphere back in 2015. And with each successive recorded effort, the band began to firmly cement a reputation for crafting a spacey, motorik-like take on West Coast, 60s psych rock and garage rock.

After the release of their critically applauded sophomore effort Baptistina the band went through a massive lineup change in which the band’s founding members Nolan Krebs and Joshua Korf are currently paired with newest members Ryan Hagan and Ben Taber, who joined the band to write and record the band’s third, full-length effort, Matterhorn, which was released earlier this year.  And with the release of album singles “Seance,” “Thanksgiving II” and “Kingsday,” the band managed to retain the gorgeously shimmering guitar lines, propulsive motorik grooves and enveloping sound that first caught the attention of this site and the rest of the blogosphere — but there’s a noticeably different energy to the proceedings, with the band crafting some of the most ambitious and expansive songwriting to date. Unsurprisingly, the album’s fourth and latest single “Black Bolt” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor, as the song possesses a swaggering, self-assuredness but it may also have some of the most textured and nuanced guitar work of its predecessor. 

Shot in an enviably lush and cinematic black and white, the recently released video by Josh Skinner, Jaimie Skriba and Heaters features a mischievously French New Wave-inspired concept in which the members of the band play in a dance studio while dancers do 60s styled dance moves, footage of people riding bikes down suburban streets and so on — but with a wide screen and continuous pan and a shit ton of subtle split screens and the like to create a trippy vibe. 

New Video: The Eerie Visuals and 4AD Records-like Sounds of Sicilian Shoegazers Clustersun

With the 2016 release of their debut album Out of Your Ego, the Catania, Sicily, Italy-based shoegazers Clustersun, comprised of Marco Chisari (vocals, bass), Mario Lo Faro (guitar) and Andrea Conti (drums), the members of the Sicilian based band quickly established themselves as one of their country’s most buzzed about and promising acts within the contemporary shoegazer scene — and as result of the growing buzz around them, the band was awarded the GLOBUS prize for Sicilian artistic excellence. As the band’s Andrea Conti says of the increasing recognition for their work, “Being cited alongside bands that we love and admire is great motivation to constantly push forward our limits.”

The Sicilian shoegazers’ sophomore effort, Surfacing to Breathe was co-produced by the band and La Casa Al Mare’s Alessio Pindinelli, and the album reportedly finds the band retaining to enormous wall of sound that first caught them attention across Italy and elsewhere, but while gently incorporating elements of psych rock, post-punk and dream pop  paired with lyrics that explore and express melancholy and emotional vulnerability and fragility.  “The sophomore album is a very tough step for every band, especially if it comes after a strong debut, as our Out of Your Ego was,” says Marco Chisari. “We are so much happy and proud of how Surfacing to Breathe came out, mainly because we’ve managed to capture how the band sounds live.” The band’s Mario Lo Faro adds “This album is way fuzzier, more powerful, dynamic, edgy than the debut. Sounds were layered to build a dense, but articulated, sonic wall. Also we recorded the songs from ‘Surfacing to Breathe’ while we were touring so they retain that “live” vibe and power, while Out of Your Ego had more ethereal and ‘light’ tracks.”

Surfacing to Breathe’s latest single “Lonely Moon”  possesses an enormous and enveloping sound featuring layers upon layers of pedal effected guitar chords, a driving groove, ethereal vocals and a soaring hook, and interestingly enough to my ears, their sound is reminiscent of 4AD Records legendary heyday — but underneath the shimmering surface is a melancholy song focusing on its narrators deepest torments and regrets.

New Video: Introducing Kiev, Ukraine-based Post Punk Act On The Wane

With the release of their 2014 full-length debut Dry, the Kiev, Ukraine-based post-punk quartet On The Wane, currently comprised of Dari Maksimova (bass, vocals), Anna Lyashok (drums, vocals), Eugene Voitov (guitar, synth), and newest member, Eli Demyanenko (drums, drum machine), received attention across their native Ukraine and elsewhere for a sound that draws from shoegaze, goth, New Wave and noise rock — with the members of the band citing Sonic Youth, The Cure, Joy Division, Pixies, Bauhaus, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins and Ringo Deathstarr as influences on their work. 

Following a successful Ukrainian tour, the band, the quartet went into the studio and recorded a 6 track EP, Sick, which found the band’s sound drawing from the likes of Mudhoney, Fugazi and others with the effort being praised for a sound that drew from Sonic Youth, Gang of Four and The Damned among others; however, after the release of Sick, the band went through a lineup change with their newest member Demyanenko and with his addition, the Ukrainian-based post punk act added synthesizers and a drum machine to their sound. And as a result, the quartet’s sophomore effort Schism finds the band changing things up yet again — this time with the band taking on an increasingly goth-based, electronic rock sound that nods at 4AD Records, Garbage and Siouxsie and the Banshees, as you’ll hear on the album’s latest single “Sultry Song.” 

Directed by Mikhail Efimenko, the recently released video, was based on the band’s idea to create a non-complicated video showing the atmosphere of their rehearsal space/studio/workplace and to introduce the band to the world. 

New Video: The 120 Minutes-era Sounds and Visuals of Neaux’s “LUV”

With the release of their full-length debut, the indie rock duo Neaux, comprised of Versa Emerge’s Sierra Kay and Trash Talk’s Nick Fit received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that the duo says is influenced by the likes of Sebadoh, Mudhoney and Sonic Youth — while nodding at the likes of Slowdive and Swirlies. Building on a growing profile, the duo’s sophomore effort Chain Up The Sun was released earlier this year, and as you’ll hear on album single “LUV,” the duo further cements their reputation for crafting a sound that to my ears reminds me quite a bit of 120 Minutes-era MTV, complete with fuzzy power chords, rousingly anthemic hooks, driving rhythms and gorgeous pop belter vocals giving an otherwise aggressive bit of shoegaze it’s vulnerable and aching heart. And fittingly enough, the recently released visuals for the single also manage to nod heavily at 120 Minutes-era MTV, as it features the duo goofing off and lounging about  while superimposed with psychedelic imagery.  

New Video: Introducing the Dream-like Visuals and Sounds of Montreal Shoegazers Penny Diving

Currently comprised of twin sisters Chatntal Ambridge (vocals, guitar) and Kathleen Ambrdige (bass), both whom were members of The Muscadettes; along with Ambridge’s partner Thomas Augustin (guitar, keys) and Jonathan LaFrance (drums), the Montreal-based indie rock quartet Penny Diving is reportedly a sonic and thematic departure The Muscadettes, with the Ambridge Sisters and company moving a bit from the sunny, surf rock-tinged, garage rock influenced by the Ambridge Sisters’ childhood in California and towards a moodier shoegaze with anthemic hooks as you’ll hear on their debut single “Stella.”

As Chantal Ambridge, the band’s primary songwriter says in press notes of the song and the Philippe Beauséjour aka Phil Console-produced video for the song, “The writing process is intuitive and telepathic almost, and by being this close to one another, it can only enhance the creative output. With “Stella” the pieces quickly fell together, out of the sky, and into my lap. We wanted the video to portray dreamlike visions, because I think a lot of processing happens in dreams, in your subconscious, and if you can somehow tap into that, you can tap into the bigger picture. Bridging the gap between the tangible and intangible.”