Formed a couple of years ago, Reno-based shoegazers Had To features some of that city’s grizzled music scene vets — with each of the members playing in a number of bands across different genres. But they bonded over a love of big guitar music from the 90s with their major influences being Oasis, Guided By Voices, Catherine Wheel and others. “We all come from similar backgrounds, all from the same area in Reno, Nevada. Not much rock music comes from our area, and we are excited to be one of the few bands like us to come out of there,” the band says.
As the band jokes, they just wanted to write something hat could be played on the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack. Thematically, their work focuses on “how it’s weird feeling older, and who we are ending up being.”
The Reno-based indie outfit’s Philip Odom-produced sophomore album Is This Normal? was recently released through digital streaming platforms. The album’s lead single “Lucid” sounds as though it wouldn’t be out of place during the 120 Minutes‘ heyday: fuzzy power chords, rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy hooks and choruses paired with thunderous drumming. For me it brought back found memories of Foo Fighters‘ self-titled debut, Catherine Wheel and others.
Directed by Nate Kahn, the accompanying video fittingly brings back memories of 120 Minutes-era MTV with the visual split between footage of the band driving around a sun-bleached desert in white shirts, slacks, ties and sunglasses. At one point, they brood by what appears to be Lake Tahoe. We also see the band playing a house party.
Acclaimed Los Angeles-based rock duo Deap Vally — Julie Edwards (drums, vocals) and Lindsey Troy (guitar, vocals) — can trace their origins to the duo’s chance meeting in a knitting class over a decade ago. The Los Angeles-based duo’s debut single, 2012’s “Gonna Make My Own Money,” was released through tiny British indie label Ark Recordings.
Although the band has been received critical applause and won fans across the globe, maneuvering the contemporary music industry has become increasingly difficult. And if you add the challenges of the pandemic and raising families, the duo increasingly found themselves struggling to fit into the recording, promotion and touring cycle. “That model isn’t compatible with our current lives,” Lindsey Troy says. “We found we just can’t function as a traditional band anymore,” Julie Edwards adds. “It’s time for both of us to explore motherhood and other avenues of our lives properly, rather than squeezing them into our artist’s hustle.”
“I’m so proud of all our records, and Julie and I have an uncanny creative relationship,” Troy says. “It’s hard to ever picture having that with someone else. After all that, ya never know what could happen! We need to find the balance where we can focus on the fun stuff, but have the freedom to make the music we love. We just felt it would be fitting to go out with a bang, not a whimper. I felt marking this occasion should be a cathartic process: healing deep wounds, reconnecting with old friends and collaborators – and falling in love with Deap Vally all over again.”
So while Deap Vally is calling an end to their decade-plus long run together, they’ve decided to go out with a bang — and not with a whimper. They’re releasing a re-recorded version of their full-length debut, SISTRONIX 2.0, which is slated for a Spring 2024 release through their own Deap Vally Records. Pre-order vinyl, exclusive bundles and the digital LP here.
They’ll be supporting SISTRONIX 2.0 with a final tour, which will see them celebrating SISTRONIX‘s 10th anniversary by playing SISTRONIX in its entirety. The tour begins with West Coast dates during November. And a Midwest and East Coast run in early 2024. The east coast run includes a February 17, 2024 stop at Le Poisson Rouge.
Ticket pre-sales begin on Thursday. General on-sale tickets will begin on Friday 10:00am local time. You can get more information here. L.A. Witch, JOVM mainstays Death Valley Girls, Sloppy Jane, and Spoon Benders will be opening for the band in select markets. Of course, more shows will be announced in the coming weeks and months. So be on the lookout.
But in the meantime, the duo have shared SISTRONIX 2.0‘s first single “Baby I Call Hell (Deap Vally’s Version).” Built around buzzing power chords, thunderous drumming and soulful vocals, “Baby I Call Hell (Deap Vally’s Version)” is a swaggering and towering ripper that captures the quintessential Deap Vally sound and energy but within a completely different and new context: The duo is a bit older and wiser. Kids are around — and that forces you to rethink everything about your life and career. But they do so lovingly and wistfully with a sense of admiration and awe as though the pair is saying to each other: “Holy shit! We did actually did THAT!”
“‘Baby I Call Hell’ is quintessential Deap Vally,” Lindsey Troy says. “It was the first song we ever wrote as a band, so it’s very meaningful to our story. Re-recording that song was a lot of fun, but also a lot of pressure because we wanted to make sure the recording captured the magic of the song again.”
“SISTRIONIX is just classic Deap Vally. It’s so pure and raw,” Troy continues. “It really encapsulates an era — an era of dank, yeasty backstage rooms across the UK, of the endorphin rush of that first wave of success, of youthful drunken, wild nights, of the worldly adventures and the newness of it all.”
“We’re just going to go to play as many places as we can and say farewell to everyone,” Julie Edwards says. “Though the band is playing live for the last time, the door is open to us to collaborate. Now we’re all about re-establishing a workflow and connection around our friendship, after all we’ve shared together along the way.”
11.10 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah * 11.11 – Santa Ana, CA @ Observatory ^ * 11.15 – San Francisco, CA @ August Hall ^ 11.17 – Portland, OR @ Star Theater ^ ~ 11.18 – Vancouver, BC @ Wise Hall ^ 11.19 – Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theatre ^ ~ 02.08 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West # 02.09 – Nashville, TN @ Basement East # 02.10 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall # 02.11 – St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club # 02.13 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom # 02.14 – Washington, D.C. @ Black Cat # 02.16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts # 02.17 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge # 02.18 – Boston, MA @ Crystal Ballroom # 03.09 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram * 03.15 Las Vegas, NV @ Backstage Bar + Billiards * 03.16 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge * 03.17 – Denver, CO @ Marquis * 03.18 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf * 03.20 Austin, TX @ Mohawk * 04.18 Mexico City, MX @ Foro Indie Rocks!
support from ^ L.A. Witch * Death Valley Girls # Sloppy Jane ~ Spoon Benders
Chicago-based indie outfit Smut — Tay Roebuck (vocals), Andrew Min (guitar), Bell Cenower (bass, synth), Sam Ruschman (guitar, synth) and Aidan O’Connor (drums) — released their sophomore album How the Light Felt through Bayonet Records.
While 2020’s Power FantasyEP saw Smut dipping its toe into more experimental waters, How the Light Felt saw the band diving headfirst into their vast array of 80s and 90s influences, including Oasis, Cocteau Twins, Gorillaz, and Massive Attack — while pushing their sound in a new direction.
How the Light Felt‘s material can be traced back to 2017: Following her sister’s death, Tay Roebuck turned to writing to help her navigate a labyrinth of grief and heartache. “This album is very much about the death of my little sister, who committed suicide a few weeks before her high school graduation in 2017,” Roebuck explains in press notes. ” “It was a moment in which my life was destroyed permanently, and it’s something you cannot prepare for.”
Roebuck’s bandmates composed the song’s arrangements, excavating underutilized 90s guitar tones and drum beats to build an expansive sonic world for her lyrics. “A couple weeks after the funeral we played a show and I couldn’t keep it together,” Roebuck says, “but we just kept playing and started writing because it was truly all I felt I had, it was all I could do to feel any sense of purpose. For the past five years now I’ve been chipping my way through grief and loss and I think the album itself is just the story of a person working through living with a new weight on top of it all.”
While rooted in profound heartbreak and loss, the album’s material pairs nostalgic inducing guitar tones, lush yet unfussy production, lived-in lyricism, and earnest vocals in a way that turns pain into a bittersweet yet necessary catharsis. Certainly, if you’ve lost a loved one, the album will likely resonate with you on a deeper level than most.
Just ahead of a handful of tour dates with Knifeplay and Citizen, the band and their label shared “18 Tons” and “Y Signal,” which were originally featured as bonus tracks on the Japanese CD edition of the band’s sophomore album.
Building on the building’s thematic exploration or grief and its impact on the surviving family members and friends, the two previously released bonus tracks continue the overall aesthetic of delving into their influences while pushing their sound in new directions.
Built around swirling synths, reverb-drenched guitars, and crackling, staccato drum samples and Roebuck’s tender delivery, “18 Tons” explores dark and dizzying feelings of bargaining with oneself and their feelings with a lived-in specificity before a cathartic final chorus.
Opening with glistening synths, “Y Signal” is a gentle, almost lullaby-like anthem for avoidant personality types with a narrator, who sprinkles in revenge fantasies, self-recrimination and blame in a mischievous and deceptively hopeful soundscape. Much like the preceding track, “Y Signal” is rooted in Roebuck’s incisive, lived-in lyricism.
Tour dates are below as usual.
Smut Tour Dates: Sun. Oct. 1 – St. Paul, MN @ The Treasury * Mon. Oct. 2 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club * Tue. Oct. 3 – Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village * Wed. Oct. 18 – Indianapolis, IN @ Hi-Fi Annex +
Montréal-born, German-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jasmin O’Meara can trace the origins of her music career to when she was a teenager: A 14-year old O’Meara removed a guitar off of her uncle’s wall and declared it her own.
The Canadian-born, German-based artist is an autodidact, who went on to join Montréal’s indie scene and collaborated with several different bands and experimenting with a multitude of genres. Taking a break from music to study design, a chance encounter in London led O’Meara back to music — and to playing bass in English bands Temposhark and Kill Electric.
Between 2008-2014, O’Meara played bass in synth pop outfit Zoot Woman. Writing and performing and under the moniker OMEARA, the Canadian-born, German-based artist stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of her debut EP Desert Heart, which was released earlier this year. The EP sees O’Meara singing and performing all the vocal parts and almost all of the material’s instrumentation with the exception of harmonica on one song.
Thematically, Desert Heart examines the uneasy and harrowing quest of navigating love in the 21st Century, set to a richly layered and modern take on the music, which shaped her life — and is informed by her own professional experience in post punk, synth pop and indie rock bands.
Desert Heart‘s first single “Take It Back” is sleek post punk-inspired song featuring a relentless motorik-like groove, a supple bass line, gauzy guitar textures paired with rousingly anthemic hooks and choruses, a dance floor friendly bridge, and the Canadian-born, German-based artist’s punchy delivery. While sonically, “Take It Back” reminds me a bit of The Stills, The Killers and others, the song is rooted in deeply personal, lived-in experience — one that should feel familiar to anyone, who’s attempted to maneuver the awkwardness of human relationships.
“The song is about telling your lover that you never really loved them, that you felt pressured into saying ‘I love you’ back, and yet feeling no remorse about revealing this information,” O’Meara explains. But at its core, the song reveals a remarkably self-assured artist, with a penchant for crafting incredibly catchy, anthemic hooks.
Kilpatric stepped away from the music industry for several years to refocus and evolve in other areas of his life. But back in 2020, the grizzled music industry veteran began to step out into the limelight as a solo artist when he started his recording project The Behaviour, a representation of the sounds, harmonies and noises he has heard in his head and ringing in his ears for quite some time.
The project’s full-length debut, A Sin Dance is slated for a September 15, 2023 release. While the project — and in turn, its full-length but — has been brought to life with a vision of artistic integrity, passion and substance informed by his decades of experience and intuition. The album’s material is meant to be a cathartic, a medicine for melancholy, a remedy for repressed emotion, an enlightenment for evolving senses, Kilpatric explains.
A Sin Dance‘s second and latest single, the slow-burning and expansive “An Untouchable Relic” continues a run of material indebted to Queens of the Stone Age and Josh Homme‘s The Desert Sessions but with subtle elements of 80s metal and shoegaze paired with propulsive, building rhythm. As Kilpatrick explains, the song is “an ode to unrequited desires for something unattainable perhaps . . .”
Minneapolis-based indie outfit Wild Lyre — Keith Wyman (vocals, guitar), Art Oxborough (lead guitar), Mike Vasich (keys), Dave Dorman (bass) and Dan Cordell (drums) — released their debut single “Shelter,” along with two other songs earlier this year.
“Shelter” is a deceptively anachronistic jam that sound as though it could have been released in 1967, 1973, 1977, 2017 or — well, earlier this year. Built around some remarkably catchy hooks, “Shelter” displays the band’s ability to pair attention to craft with earnest, lived-in lyricism and performances.
Split between France and England, the emerging, self-described “industrial heavy rock dance” duo Golem Dance Cult features longtime friends and experienced musicians: producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Charles Why, who has played in Lotsa Noise, Nexus and L-Dopa and vocalist Laur, who has played in Sparkling Bombs, Kevin K Band,Vague Scare and Other-ed. The pair’s latest project can trace its origins back to when they were teenagers, playing in the first band together, a band in which Laur played drums.
During most of the band’s short run together, the pair have written and worked on material remotely, as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and distance. Their work in Golem Dance Cult is structured around a couple of simple, agreed-upon parameters:
They had to work spontaneously, with each member following their instincts.
Mistakes should be expanded upon.
The duo eventually settled on a rock-inspired approach with electronic production but without holding to the formal structure — or strictures — of either genre.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you might recall that the duo released their debut EP 2021’s Grotesque Radio, an effort that featured the Bauhaus-like “Nosferatu Waltz,” a goth/horror track with a playful nod to Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
The duo’s full-length debut, Legend of the Bleeding Heart was released earlier this year. The album’s latest single “21st Century Dogs” sounds like a glammy, Bowie-like take on Bauhaus built around their penchant for enormous, arena rock like hooks and hours. The song is written and sung from the perspective of a dog and fittingly both the song and video ifeautres references and allusions from Luis Buñuel’s Le Chien Andalou and George Cheesbro’s Wolf Blood: A Tale of the Forest. But by doing so, the song and video explores people’s darkest, most feral impulses and desires.
Back in May 2020 Carbone and her band were scheduled to go into the studio to record what would be her highly-anticipated third album. But as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Carbone’s plans were indefinitely shelved, much like everyone else at the time.
Inspired by the lockdowns, Carbone and her band came up with an idea: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Taken from her October 2019 Rockpalast set at Harmonie Bonn, Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast was a career-spanning set featuring material from her first two albums.
She went on to collaborate with The Underground Youth on 2021’s In Dreams EP, an effort that saw the collaborators tackling four Roy Orbison songs, which chart the age-old and universal narrative of falling in and out of love, and the deep yearning for romance and connection we all feel — even if we don’t want to always admit it. Featuring material built around sparse, atmospheric arrangements, the EP’s songs allow room for The Underground Youth’s Craig Dyer’s earthy baritone and Carbone’s ethereal and yearning delivery to connect, embrace and unravel with each song.
Carbone’s long-anticipated fourth album The Cycle is slated for release next year. The album is a concept album that explores the emotional turmoils, triumphs and transformative experiences that the album’s protagonist experiences through the seasons of a year. Keeping with the album’s concept, over the course of the next year, Carbone and her band will release a new single every season until the album’s release next spring. Each single represents an experience or inspiration associated with that particular season and the story of the album’s protagonist.
The Cycle‘s second and latest single “Horses” is a slow-burning, msong built around lush and shimmering acoustic guitar, Carbone’s expressive and yearning delivery, paired with a supple bass line and dramatic drumming. Sonically bringing PJ Harvey’s “You Said Something” to mind, the song is set in the fullness of summer. The song’s protagonist is experiencing the heat, humidity and passion of the season — when fields become gold and heatwaves and wildfires turn them into ash. But there’s a reminder that Mother Earth will restore and reclaim burnt ground in time.
“Blackened fields unfold up blackened hills, and border off in the distance up against blackened mountains,” the Berlin-based JOVM mainstay writes. “Ashes fall, the wipers on slow, smear the soot across the wet windshield, and the steam rising from burnt trees in the misty rain mixes with the fog rising from the burnt ground. The smell of yesterday’s smoke and today’s damp earth is pungent and thick, and somehow oddly comforting. A landscape of endless green and gold has been rendered monotone, like a 1950s TV, where all is now black except for the gray, cloudy sky. No signs of life here aside from the odd bird flying by, screeching as it comments from on high, ‘Don’t hold on.’ The horses, they knew this. They ran. From the first whiff of smoke, they knew there’s no point in holding onto something you can never control, you can’t negotiate with, something that’s lost. They’ll be back, in time. When the earth heals and life returns, so will they. But they’ll never stop running. They’re wild horses. That’s what they do”
The Greenville-born, Nashville-based artist’s latest single “Lovers to Strangers” is the first of three new releases that she has worked on with a local producer. Built around strummed guitar, an enormous sing-along worthy hook and chorus, Carroll’s yearning delivery, “Lovers to Strangers” brings Soccer Mommy and Julia Jacklin to mind.
In “Lovers to Strangers,” Carroll chronicles the life of the relationship — from swooning beginnings to heartbreaking, bittersweet end with a lived-in specificity that feels personal yet deeply universal.