Tag: indie rock

Perhaps best known as a co-founding member and lead guitarist of the Brooklyn-based indie rock act Big Thief, Buck Meek is finally stepping out on his own with his highly-anticipated self-titled, full-length debut, which is slated for a May 18, 2018 release through Austin, TX-based label Keeled Scales. Reportedly, Meek’s solo debut is extension of his work and role in Big Thief, but it can also be seen as being a revealing look at his primary act’s hidden talent. And so far, this year has been a breakthrough year for Meek as he’s received attention from NPR and American Songwriter and has toured with Margaret Glaspy, Twain and others.

“Maybe” the third and latest single off Meek’s self-titled debut is a shuffling and shambling song that draws from rock and country in a way that may remind some of Let It Be-era Beatles (think of “Get Back” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “One After 909“), Harry Nilsson (think of “Jump Into The Fire“)and others but with a straight out of left field take, thanks to a song structure that eschews the traditional chorus, verse chorus format while being held together with razor sharp hooks and a mischievously free flowing vibe. The song may have been released in 1972, 1982, 2002, 2012 or 2018 but no matter what, there’s a deliberate attention to craft that’s charming.

Meek will be touring to support the album with a backing band and the tour will include a June 8, 2018 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the tour dates below.

Rough
TOUR DATES
May 30 | Kerrville, TX at Kerrville Folk Festival
June 07 | Allston, MA at Great Scott
June 08 | Brooklyn, NY at Rough Trade
June 09 | Washington, DC at Songbyrd
June 10 | Durham, NC at The Pinhook
June 12 | Nashville, TN at The High Watt
June 13 | Bloomington, IN at The Bishop
June 14 | Chicago, IL at Schuba’s
June 15 | Millvale, PA at The Funhouse
June 16 | Philadelphia, PA at Johnny Brenda’s
June 7-16 with Sam Evian
June 7 & 8 also with Katie Von Schleicher
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Live Footage: Copenhagen’s Baby in Vain Performs “One Feather” at Tapetown Studios

Formed back in 2010, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock trio Baby in Vain, comprised of Lola Hammerich, Benedicte Pierleoni and Andrea Thuesen have received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for a sound that features elements of stoner rock, grunge rock, the blues and noise rock; in fact, the trio have been written about in Mojo, Vice and Intro Magazine — and adding to a growing the profile, the trio has opened for Ty Segall, Thurston Moore’s post Sonic Youth project Chelsea Light Moving and The Kills during their Stateside and European Union tours. Additionally,  they’ve made appearances across the European festival circuit, playing sets at Reading, Leeds, Great Escape and Roskilde among others. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you may recall that the Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio  Tapetown Studios  along with 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 live session. And over that period of time, Tapetown has invited British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey, the Bay Area-based JOVM mainstay Tim Cohen and his primary project The Fresh & Onlys, and the renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes. Recently, Tapetown and Sound of Aarhus invited the Danish indie rock trio to the studio, where they performed a slow-burning dirgey blues number “One Feather.” 

Over the past three years or so, I’ve written a bit about the Copenhagen, Denmark-based electro pop duo Palace Winter, and as you may recall, the act, which is comprised of  Australian-born, Copenhagen-based singer/songwriter Carl Coleman and Danish-born and-based producer and classically trained pianist Caspar Hesselager can trace their origins to a mutual appreciation for each other’s writing styles and a familiarity with each other’s work through their involvement in a number of different projects individually — and of course, the duo were encouraged to start writing material together.

2015 saw the release of their debut single, which followed-up with 2016’s debut EP Medication and their full-length debut Waiting for the World to Turn, all of which were released through Copenhagen-based label Tambourhinoceros to critical applause from the likes of The Guardian, NME, The Line of Best Fit, and airplay from KCRWKEXPNorway’s P3, Denmark’s P6, as well as by BBC Radio personalities Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne and Tom Ravenscroft. Oh, and let’s not forget, they have a Hype Machine #1 under their belts. Adding to a growing profile, they’ve opened for Noel Gallagher, played sets on the European festival circuit, including Meltdown Festival curated by the aforementioned Guy Garvey, Roskilde FestivalGreen Man FestivalSziget FestivalLatitude Festival and Secret Garden Party among others.
Building upon a rapidly growing internationally recognized profile, the members of the Danish pop act will be releasing their sophomore album Nowadays on May 4, 2018 — and interestingly enough, album single “Empire” found the band pairing breezy, melodic and radio friendly pop with mark darker thematic concerns — in particular, the song focused on the loss of innocence and the tough, and sobering life lessons of adulthood, with the recognition of the freedom and power of taking charge of your life. The album’s latest single “Come Back (Left Behind)” will further cement the band’s reputation for incredibly upbeat and anthemic radio friendly pop that sounds decidedly inspired by buoyant, 80s synth pop but with darker lyrical and thematic concerns; in fact, as the duo note, the song focuses on the challenges of anxiety, of coming to terms with the loss of a lover, whose ghost seems to pervasively linger, and the feeling as though you’ll never escape the grief. As Carl Coleman explains, the song is “loosely inspired by the recent horror film The Witch. I loved the imagery in that movie and the idea that there was some sort of unknown darkness hidden in the woods. I wanted to merge that imagery with something personal and that’s where the themes of grief and yearning came up”,
Coleman adds that the song finds the duo moving the focus away from the acoustic guitar to try to get the drive from somewhere else like the piano lines and the jagged 12-string electric, and while being propulsive and downright danceable, the song sounds as though it could have been released in 1985 or so.

New Video: Animated Visuals for METZ’s “Mr. Plague” Captures the Horrors of Our Contemporary World

Over the past four years or so, I’ve written quite a bit about he Toronto-based JOVM mainstays METZ, and as you may recall the trio’s third, full-length album 2017’s Strange Peace found the band pushing their songwriting in new directions with their most personal and politically charged material (without being explicitly being so) they’ve written to date, while retaining the furious and blistering energy of their live sets — and while capturing the anxiousness, uncertainty, fear and outrage that many young people currently feel, the material seems to suggest that when things are at their bleakest and most hopeless, that you aren’t alone; that there are others out there, who feel like you. As the band’s Alex Eadkins explained in press notes, “The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty. They’re about recognizing that we’re not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears. They’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.”

Now, as you may recall, the members of METZ have developed a reputation for being relentless road warriors, who melt faces and pummel eardrums at clubs and festivals across the globe, and just before they were about to embark on an extensive world tour that included stops in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, they appeared on truTV‘s The Chris Gethard Show, where they played a set featuring singles “Mr. Plague,” “Cellophane” and “Mess of Wires.” And just as they announced some additional dates including a NYC are show at the Rocks Off Cruise with Holy Fuck, the JOVM mainstays released an animated video for the blistering and anxious bruiser “Mr. Plague,” a single that finds the band injecting a small bit of melody into the maelstrom. (Check out the tour dates below.) 

Interestingly, as the video’s director Shayne Ehman explains, “the video examines ” . . . the crumbling remnants of civilization . . . a broken justice system . . . a consumer wasteland. . . Was it part of the plan?”  Drawn in a way to emphasize the horrors of a completely broken, fucked up and hopeless world, the video evokes Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” complete with an existential dread. 

Over the past 18 months or so, I’ve written quite about the Utrecht, The Netherlands-based singer/songwriter Annelotte de Graff and her solo recording project Amber Arcades, and as you may recall with the release of her full-length debut Fading Light, de Graaf received international attention for an album that thematically focused on the and the relativistic experience of it, magic, jet lag and her own dreams, which have managed to influence much of her personal and creative life; in fact, as the story goes, De Graaf used her life savings for a flight to New York and studio time to record her debut with Ben Greenberg, who has worked with The Men, Beach Fossils and Destruction Unit, and a studio backing band that included Quilt’s Shane Butler (guitar) and Keven Lareau (bass) and Real Esate’s Jackson Pollis (drums) — both of whom she had specifically hand picked because she had dreamt of working with them. Along with that, De Graaf had a long-held dream of working for the UN, and she eventually worked as a legal aide on UN war crime tribunals and n human rights and immigration law, assisting Syrian refugees.

Last year, saw the release of the critically applauded Cannonball EP, which was among my favorite releases last year — in particular, the gorgeously shot video for “Wouldn’t Even Know,” which featured a guest spot from British singer/songwriter, composer, producer and guitarist  Bill Ryder-Jones brought back memories of riding trains through the Dutch countryside from Amsterdam to Dordrecht, passing through and by towns like Abcoude, The Hague, Breukelen and others. Along with that, EP singles like “It Changes” and her cover of Nick Drake’s “Which Will,” revealed a singer/songwriter with an self-assured yet uncanny knack for a catchy hook within jangling guitar pop.

De Graaf’s latest single “Goodnight Europe” is the first taste of her forthcoming sophomore, full-length album slated for release later this year, and the single finds the renowned Dutch singer/songwriter’s sound leaning heavily towards Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, T. Rex and Sgt. Pepper and Let It Be-era Beatles, as the song features some impressive and bluesy guitar work paired with a gorgeous string arrangement — and the song manages to further cement De Graaf’s ability to craft a razor sharp hook around some thoughtful songwriting; in fact, the song is a meditation on the current state of the European Union, written from the perspective of a dysfunctional and confusing romantic relationship that’s inescapably odd. As De Graaf explains in press notes, “I guess about half of it is me actually being worried about the current state of the Union. The other half is me kind of messing around with, and making fun of, this archetype of the tiresome existentialist academic in me.”

New Video: Franz Ferdinand Releases Surreal and Mischievous Visuals for Re-worked Version of “Glimpse of Love”

Over the past few months, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland, UK-based indie rock/post punk act Franz Ferdinand, and as you may recall, the Scottish band, which is currently comprised of founding trio Alex Kapranos (lead vocals, guitar), Bob Hardy (bass) and Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals), along with newest members Julian Corrie (keys, synths, guitar and backing band), who joined last year, replacing founding member Nick McCarthy and the recently added Dino Bardot (guitar) can trace their origins back to 2002. With the release of their first two singles “Darts of Pleasure” and “Take Me Out” the members of the Franz Ferdinand quickly saw commercial and critical success — with “Take Me Out,” becoming the band’s signature song, as it eventually peaked at #1 the UK Singles Chart, and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. Additionally, their eponymous, 2004 full-length debut received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album and won the Mercury Prize, helping the Scottish indie rockers to establish themselves at the forefront of the early 2000s post-punk revival movement.

Their 2005 Rich Costey-produced sophomore effort, You Could Have It So Much Better was released to critical and commercial success with the album peaking within the Top Ten Charts in multiple countries, and as a result, the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album with album single “Do You Want To” receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. However, with 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the members of the Scottish indie act moved away from the post-punk sound that first won them international attention to a much more dance floor oriented sound — all while continuing an impressive run of commercial and critical success. They promptly followed that up with a remix album of Tonight, titled Blood, which was released that summer.

2013 saw the release of Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action but they managed to follow that effort up by teaming up with Sparks to form indie supergroup FFS, which released their self-tilted album in 2015. Franz Ferdinand’s fifth, full-length album Always Ascending was released earlier this year and with album singles “Feel The Love Go,” and “Lazy Boy,” the band continued forward with the quirky, disco-like take on  the Gang of Four-inspired sound that first won them international attention but with a loose, adventurous vibe; in fact, the album’s latest single “Glimpse of Love,” finds the band subtly nodding at house music, thanks to the use of twinkling and arpeggiated keys — but within an expansive, groove-friendly song structure. Interestingly, the version of the song that accompanies the recently released video is a re-working of the album track, re-corded as live and mixed by Serban Ghenea, who has worked with the likes of Rihanna and Lorde.

Directed by Alice Kunisue, the hilarious and surreal visuals for “Glimpse of Love” was shot just outside of Paris and features the members of the band primping, brooding and flat out being ridiculous.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Wax Idol Release an Anthemic Power Ballad

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based indie rock act Wax Idols, and as you may recall that after 2013’s critically applauded album Discipline + Desire, the band went on hiatus as the band’s founding member, primary songwriter and frontperson Hether Fortune joined the equally acclaimed punk rock band and JOVM mainstays  White Lung. That was followed by a heartbreaking and life-altering divorce, which informed much of the material on the band’s critically applauded, third album, 2016’s American Tragic.

Informed by the one of the saddest and most difficult experiences of Fortune’s life, as Fortune explained that American Tragic wasn’t “. . .a sad album.The whole spectrum of grief is represented here — shock, pain, anger, loneliness, and then finding a way to work through all of that, and not only survive, and thrive. That’s what I was going through. I was kind of trying to save myself.” Fortune wrote and recorded every note and every single chord on the album, and as a result, it gives the album a deeply personal vision and point of view in which the heartbreak and grief at the core of the album is visceral and haunting — especially if you’ve ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term romantic relationship, as it evokes the lingering ghosts and resentments, the push and pull of longing, confusion and hatred towards that person, who may well never be in your life again; but it’s all underpinned by the recognition that if you’ve known love, you may know it again and again and again, and that somehow you’ll pick up most of the pieces and move forward. And while thematically being among the most soberING and thoughtful material Fortune has written, the material sonically is reminiscent of Too True-era Dum Dum Girls, Concrete Blonde, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others.

Slated for a May 16, 2018 release through Etruscan Gold Records, Wax Idols long-anticipated forth Monte Vallier-produced album Happy Ending finds the band heading towards new thematic territory as the album finds the band exploring the abstraction and finality of death from philosophical, political and personal perspectives, continuing on the deeply personal tone and vibe of their critically applauded American Tragic. Additionally, the album finds the band continuing onward after a series of lineup changes with the band’s founding member and primary songwriter Fortune backed by Peter Lightning (guitar, bass, organ, piano), Rachel Travers (drums) and Marisa Prieto (bass, backing vocals) and The Mallard’s Greer McGettrick joining the band after the album was recorded. 

Now, as you may recall Happy Ending’s first single “Scream” was a rousingly anthemic, 80s-inspired post punk track with with a deeply personal, idiosyncratic vision, complete with some impressive guitar pyrotechnics that make the song seem as though the band drawing influence from Boy and October-era U2.  As Fortune told NPR, “Finding inspiration in one of my favorite poems, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas, I used this song as a vehicle to meditate on the concept of free will & how one could choose to exercise it even at the brink of death.” She adds, “The protagonist is someone who is young, madly in love AND desperately wants to live — though they know that they will not. They have chosen to use their final seconds, the only breath in their lungs, to scream out the name of the one that they love.” Interestingly, the album’s latest single  the mid tempo power ballad, “Crashing” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor as it’s a swooning and urgent ballad centered around twinkling piano, propulsive drumming and an anthemic hook with some gorgeous guitar work. Much like Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” and others, “Crashing” is the sort of song you can envision earnestly shouting along with a beer held aloft, with the knowledge of life’s fleeting nature.

New Video: Renowned Australian Singer/Songwriter and Guitarist Courtney Barnett Releases Psychedelic Visuals for Expansive Album Single “City Looks Pretty”

With the release of her first two, critically applauded EPs, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Farris and How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose, the Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Courtney Barnett quickly received attention from the North American, British and Australian press witty and rambling, conversational lyrics delivered in an ironic deadpan paired with big, power chord-based indie rock. And although to the casual observer, it may have seemed like overnight success, it actually wasn’t. In fact, Barnett has long been considered one of Melbourne’s best guitarists as once played in Dandy Warhols’ Brent DeBoer’s side project Immigrant Union and had  guest spot on Jen Cloher‘s third album, In Blood Memory.

2015’s full-length effort Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit continued a run of critically applauded releases, and the album’s lead single “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” was promoted with a unique promotional campaign that included scores of giant billboards, posters and murals spontaneously posted around the world — and all of them declared the same unattributed statement in the same exact font. As for the song, it found Barnett and her backing band pairing thundering drumming, dense layers of swirling guitar chords and a scorching guitar solo and Barnett’s bemused and ironic deadpan delivery with a rousingly anthemic, arena rock-like hook. “Elevator Operator,” which I also wrote about on this site, was a stomping and shuffling T. Rex-like song that featured twisting and turning organ chords, handclap-led percussion, and a mischievous yet anthemic hook that described incredibly neurotic people, who are beaten down by boring and soulless day jobs, including one character, who escapes to peer over a rooftop for a brief moment of clarity while dreaming he was playing Sim City.  (If you’ve worked at a boring and soul crushing day job, that song may well be your anthem during the workweek.)

Last year, saw the release of Lotta Sea Lice, a critically applauded and commercially successful collaborative album with renowned guitarist and vocalist Kurt Vile; in fact, the album landed at #5 on the Australian charts, #11 on the British charts and #51 on the American charts. Building upon an incredible run of critical and commercial success, Barnett’s third full-length album Tell Me How You Really Feel is slated for a May 18, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Records, Marathon Artists, and Barnett’s own label Milk! Records — and the album’s third and latest single “City Looks Pretty” finds Barnett eschewing traditional song structures in order to focus on a motorik-like groove, razor sharp hooks and an expansive psych rock-like vibe that’s roomy enough for what may be some of Barnett’s most inspired and bluesy guitar work she’s recorded to date. The song lyrically is an exploration of friendship, place and home centered around the irony of friends treating you like a stranger and strangers treating you like their best friend. 

The recently released video by Courtney Barnett features some appropriately psychedelic imagery shot on what looks like digital cameras and an old Super 8, and in some way it brings to mind 120 Minutes-era MTV. 

 

Dan Sultan is an acclaimed Fitzroy, Australia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who started playing guitar when he was four and wrote his first song when he turned 10. As the story goes, his mother’s friend gave the young Sultan an old electric guitar, and he began playing gigs at local pubs. In 2000, Sultan met a fellow singer/songwriter and guitarist Scott Wilson at a Williamstown, Australia pub and the duo began writing songs together. As Wilson recalled in an interview “What struck me at first was that he [Sultan] could play piano and guitar, and he was a great foil for what I was doing . . . After a while playing together, he said, ‘Can I Sing this one?’ I said, ‘Do you know the words?’ . . . [he had a] might voice. A lot people can play guitar . . . not many can sing like that.”

Sultan’s  Scott Wilson-produced, full-length solo debut, the genre-defying Homemade Biscuits was released in early 2006 and consisted of tracks written by Wilson or co-written by Sultan and Wilson, and a featured number of local musicians and collaborators, including Lazare Agneskis, Neil Gray, Elijah Maiyah, Lochile McKlean and Ben Wicks. Sultan’s debut also featured two attention grabbing tracks — “Your Love Is Like a Song,” which won a 2007 Deadly Award for Single Release of the Year, and “Rosyln,” a song Sultan wrote about his mother, who was a member of the Aboriginal “stolen generations,” which he performed during 2007’s National Day of Healing concert. Adding to a growing profile that year, Paul Kelly invited Sultan to record a cover of Kev Carmody’s “This Land Is Mine” for a compilation tribute album of Carmody’s work titled Cannot Buy My Soul — and with a backing band of Eugene Ball (trumpet), Ben Gillespie (trombone), Joshua Jones (bass), Peter Marin (drums), Ash Naylor (guitar) and Gina Woods (keys), Sultan and company played Australia’s festival circuit over the next two years or so, including set at the Sydney Festival and the Queensland Music Festival.

Sultan’s sophomore album 2009’s Get Out While You Can was a massive, commercial success as it charted on the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100, eventually reaching #1 on the independent Australian charts and was a Triple J featured album. Along with that, Sultan won ARIA Music Awards for Best Male Artist and Best Blues & Roots Album, and Australian Independent Records Awards for Best Independent Artist and Best Independent Blues & Roots Music Music.

In early 2014, Sultan opened for Bruce Springsteen‘s Melbourne and Hunter Valley shows during his Australian tour, which Sultan promptly followed up with the release of his third full-length album Blackbird, an album that reached #4 on the ARIA Albums Charts and spent 13 weeks in the Top 50 — and the album won a Best Rock Album Award at that year’s ARIA Awards. Building upon an impressive year, Sultan released the Dirty Ground EP, which reached the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100.

 

Sultan’s fourth album, 2017’s Jan Skubiszewski-produced Killer was nominated for three ARIA Awards — Best Male Artist, Best Rock Album, and Best Independent Release. Interestingly, Killer Under a Blood Moon EP which was recorded over the course of four days finds Sultan continuing his successful collaboration with Skubiszewski — but also collaborating with some of Australia’s brightest and most talented, up-and-coming talents, including A.B. Original, Camp Cope, Meg Mac and Gang of Youths‘ Dave Le’aupepe to reinterpret a series of tracks from Sultan’s commercially successful fourth album as a way to give his material new bodies, new ways of being while having a good time doing so. Unsurprisingly, the album is part of a growing trend of artists from wildly disparate genres collaborating together to create music that’s unique and difficult to pin down, frequently challenging the status quo of the major record labels and mainstream genre boundaries.

The EP’s latest single “Drover” features Gang of Youth’s Dave Le’aupepe taking over vocal duties on a swaggering, arena rock-friendly blues centered around power chords, stomping beats, a looped choral sample and an anthemic hook reminiscent of The Black Keys. It’s a marked and muscular departure from the soulful and blues original that manages to retain the song’s bluesy vibe.