Tag: indie rock

Comprised of childhood friends Chris, TJ and Daniel, the London-based trio The Leo Star Electric Band have developed a reputation for raucous live sets, including an infamous one where they destroyed the stage, and were accused of ruining Christmas by Stevie Wonder‘s manager, Keith Harris — and for doing whatever they need to, to make a gig, including using forged passports to get into Paris to play a show. And perhaps as a result, they’ve managed to open for the likes of Melt Banana and Dev Hynes‘ The Red In Sophia Loren.

Thankfully, they’ve yet to be arrested for any of that; but sonically speaking, the band says their mission is to create fucked up pop songs for the masses, and as you’ll hear from the band’s debut single “Soft & Gentle,” they specialize in a scuzzy power chord-based sound that brings 90s grunge rock immediately to mind, complete with the familiar (and beloved) loud, quiet, loud structure, rousingly anthemic hooks, pounding drums and angst-driven harmonizing; but underneath the angst, the song reveals the bleeding and sensitive heart of its creators, as the song was written as an ode to a number of people the bandmembers have have loved and lost.

 

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New Video: Phantastic Ferniture Returns with Mischievous Visuals for Soaring Album Single “Bad Timing”

Although I’ve suffered a number of frustrating technological setbacks, you may recall that last month, I wrote about Phantasmic Furniture, the  garage rock/guitar pop side project (of sorts) of acclaimed singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin and a collection of some of her closest and dearest friends, Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan K. Brennan. And as the story goes, the band can trace their origins to a birthday gathering in a Sydney, Australia-based bar to celebrate Jacklin’s 24th birthday. At some point, a group hug had manifested itself with all ten of the group’s hug participants, drunkenly promising to start a band together. “Only four of us remembered,” Hughes recalls. The band’s core and founding members bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for fern-related puns and leisurewear, and they would meet up whenever their individual schedules would allow, writing songs and playing smatterings of live dates to an increasingly devoted audience.

Eventually, Jacklin, Hughes and Brennan decided that Phantastic Ferniture wasn’t a side project, and they should focus on writing and recording an album together, centered around the fact that the band would be a lot more spontaneous and less technical than their individual pursuits. “That was the fun part,” Jacklin says in press notes. “Ryan never played drums in bands, Liz had never been a lead guitarist, Tom didn’t play bass and I’d never just sung before.” Hughes adds “We wanted a low level of expertise, because a lot of good music comes from people whose passion exceeds their skill.”

Slated for a July 27, 2018 release through Transgressive Records, Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut finds the band adopting a mantra of not overthinking — of focusing on the urgency of the moment, while being whimsical. “Gap Year,” the second single off the band’s full-length debut is a 90s alt rock-like track that struck me as owning and spiritual debut to PJ Harvey. “Bad Timing,” the third and latest single of the single continues on a somewhat similar vein as its immediate predecessor — rollicking indie rock with a cinematic sweep centered around a propulsive rhythm section, psych rock-like guitar pyrotechnics and a soaring hook. 

The recently released video for “Bad Timing” continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with director Nick Mckk and the video finds the band mischievously employing the use of fern imagery — with some friends holding potted ferns in front of the band members. At one point, you even see them put a fern-related puzzle together — because, of course! As the band’s Jacklin says in press notes, “We have to really thank all of our friends who came and made this clip with us. It turned out to be quite a painful process but probably good for our dwindling musician specific fitness levels. I think all our arms were aching for about a week after. I think anyone who is already on the fence in regards to our use of fern imagery is going to really hate us after watching this. We had also just got back our puzzle that features on the cover of our record and were putting it together while we waited for each shot to be set up.”

Currently cloaked in a bit of mystery, the reclusive members of the up-and-coming indie rock act ilu split their time writing, recording and residing in Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, and from their first official single “Graffiti Hen Ewrop,” the Estonian-Welsh band specialize in a sound that draws from krautrock and shoegaze as the song is centered around a motorik groove, swirling feedback, shimmering keys, ethereal vocals, angular bass chords and a soaring hook — but underneath the song’s anthemic nature, is an aching and wistful longing.

As the band notes, the song’s lyrics came in a rather organic fashion, as they were driving around a snowy Tallinn on Christmas Day, full of deep grief and sadness. “I had just lost my father a few months before moving to Tallinn and I was dealing with my grief and my own confusion that was crippling at the time. The album was written and recorded there in a small flat in Merivälja looking across the harbour over at the old medieval town, it is very much a journey back into the light”.

Comprised of Sam Alexander, Wes Johnson, Jeremy Louis Joe Page and Jon Van Patten, the indie act No Kind of Rider has members split between Portland, OR and Brooklyn — although the act, which has developed a reparation for a sound that possesses elements of indie rock, shoegaze, r&b, indie rock and electro pop initially formed in Tulsa, OK. Between the time of their formation and their relocation, the band spent several years writing, playing and hustling hoping for a moment. “Working like that can break your heart,” the band’s Sam Alexander says in a lengthy statement written by him and his bandmates.

No Kind of Rider’s soon-to-be released full-length debut Savage Coast draws from several years of experience. As the band says, “there are things we have been during to say, and this record is a release emotionally for us. Both musically and lyrically we focus on ‘change’ a lot in this record.We use as many synthesizers and electronic samples as we do guitars and drums.  We want the listener to both feel comfortable and continuously be surprised.”  That sense of constant transition was inspired by the events of the band’s personal lives: Joe Page’s father unexpectedly died died two years before the band entered the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their full-length debut. Sam Alexander notes that the year Page’s father died, was the same year that he got married. Wes Johnson’s father suddenly died. Jon Van Patten relocated to Brooklyn. And shortly after that, Alexander’s father had a stroke. “There’s been so may times in the last few years where I got stuck in my head: ‘Do other artists go through all this while making a record? Is this some kind of curse?’ For a long time I used to think of music as my path out of a difficult reality. I don’t anymore. Now, writing music is what keeps me rooted in my reality, it’s what lets me live with more presence and attention,” Alexander says.

“This isn’t a concept album,” Alexander and his bandmates continues. “But it does tell a story. We want the listener to uncover that story for themselves. However, a part of it is our story. Our loves, our friendships, our triumph, our losses. The story wouldn’t have happened without our move from Oklahoma to Oregon. We slept on friends floors and rehearsed in basements. I have over 300 hours of voice memos from our rehearsals down there!  Even though we recorded at incredible studios with talented friends, when I listen: I somehow still hear us in that moldy basement. I still hear the first time we pulled over on hwy 101 and saw the jagged wounds of the Pacific coastline.  Creatively, Joe actually drove out to Haystack Rock on the coast with a tape recorded – he designed new sounds and he embedded them into the tracks, so some of that is the actual article.  Most of it is just in the way that the music feels to me.” Unsurprisingly, the album thematically deals with loss, frustration and resiliency through love, friendship and music and of holding on to hope in the most difficult of times. Certainly, while personal, the album will likely resonate in much deeper and darker ways for so many of us in these desperate and frightening times. Sometimes music, your friends and loved ones and the hope of hope are the only things you can cling to — and that shouldn’t be shameful; not when the small things can be so sustaining and so necessary.

In any case, the album’s latest single “Sophia,” Alexander notes was recorded with the quintet facing each other in the same room, playing together in the same room — and much like The Verve‘s Urban Hymns, it has a different, more vital and urgent feel to the proceedings, as though the listener was a fly on the wall during the recording sessions. Sonically speaking the song is a slickly produced and effortless meshing of contemporary electro pop and R&B, anthemic indie rock and shoegaze that immediately brings to mind the likes of JOVM mainstays TV on the Radio and The Veldt as the track is rooted by shimmering guitar chords and synths, a propulsive bass line and Alexander’s achingly tender vocals, which puts a unique sensibility on their genre blurring sound and approach.

New Audio: Mudhoney Releases an Incisive and Furious Single from First Full-length Album in Over 5 Years

Currently comprised of founding members Mark Arm (vocals, rhythm guitar), Steve Turner (lead guitar) and Guy Maddison (bass), along with Dan Peters (drums), who joined the band in 1999, the Seattle, WA-based alt rock/grunge rock band Mudhoney officially formed back in 1988 although the band can trace its origins to the breakup of Green River, a proto-grunge band that at one point featured Alex Vincent (drums), Jeff Ament (bass), Steve Turner, and Stone Gossard (guitar). After releasing two EPs, and several lineup changes, Green River eventually split up with Bruce Fairweather, Gossard and Ament eventually joining Mother Love Bone. Now, if you know your grunge history, you’d know that after Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood died from an overdose, Gossard and Ament went on to form Pearl Jam while Arm and Turner reunited to form Mudhoney.

Mudhoney’s earliest releases through Sub Pop Records — namely “Touch Me I’m Sick” and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP wound up becoming massively influential with the band being credited as being the godfathers of Seattle’s grunge rock sound, a sound that we all know is generally centered around scuzzy, distortion pedal heavy power chords. But despite their towering influence on alt rock, the band has never really seen much commercial success — although Nirvana covered Mudhoney during their legendary Unplugged, filmed and recorded a few weeks before Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

Slated for a September 28, 2018 through their longtime label home, the beloved Pacific Northwest-based grunge legends tenth full-length album Digital Garbage is reportedly, one of the band’s most sociopolitically incisive and blistering albums they’ve recorded; in fact, Digital Garbage’s first single “Paranoid Core” captures the distrust of experts and facts, the rampant fear-mongering and emotional exploitation and the very primal, lizard brained instinctual response that rules our current zeitgeist. And its all centered around boozy, old school punk rock guitar chords, a propulsive back beat and bass line. Western civilization and American democracy are about to collapse before our very eyes but goddamn it, there’s at least rock ‘n’ roll.

Live Footage: Denmark’s ONBC Performs the Gorgeous and Ethereal “Copenhagen” at Tapetown Studios

ONBC is a Copenhagen, Denmark-based indie rock quartet, comprised of some of Denmark’s most acclaimed musicians — and the band can trace its origins to the formation and breakup of its earliest iteration Oliver North Boy Choir, an electro pop-leaning act, which featured founding members Camilla Florentz (vocals, bass) and Mikkel Max Jorn (guitar), who were both members of indie band epo-555. After releasing a number of EPs and singles, as well as covers of The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Boo Radleys, the Oliver North Boy Choir split up. In 2014 the members of Oliver North Boy Choir reunited but with the recruitment of Tanja Forsberg Simonsen (vocals, synths), who was a member of influential Danish indie pop act superheroes and Private; Ivan Petersen (drums), the frontman of The Boombox Hearts, and a radical change in sonic direction, the band was renamed ONBC.

In their native Denmark, the quartet has received attention for a cinematic sound and songwriting approach that some have compared to Low, Chris Issak and Julee Cruise — although as soon as I heard the gorgeous, shoegazer-like “Copenhagen,” I immediately thought of Malmo, Sweden’s Fredrik, Coco Beware and Caveman-era Caveman and Beach House as the harmonies of Forsberg Simonsen and Florentz ethereally float over a delicate and sparse arrangement of shimmering guitar chords and dramatic drumming.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 15-18 months or so, you’d recall that Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio Tapetown Studios and Sound of Aarhus have been inviting national. regional and even internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studios for a live session, which they film and release through the interwebs. During the live session’s run, a number of bands have participated and been featured including 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, the renowned British psych rockers The Telescopes, and a growing list of others.

ONBC’s Tapetown Studio session, much like Sista Bossen’s session is presented by their label, Crunchy Frog Records and was filmed during Aarhus’ popular Danish and Scandinavian indie music festival, Spot Festival — and it may arguably be one of the most stunningly beautiful ones they’ve shot to date.

 

 

Currently comprised of founding member Austin North (vocals, guitar) with Cecilia Otero (bass) and Josh Mendoza (drums), the El Paso, TX-based indie rock/dream pop trio Sleepspent can trace their origins back to when it founding member returned from school in San Diego and started the band with friend and co-writer Aaron Quintalla. Although they’ve gone through a lineup change that has the band as a trio, since their formation, the members of Sleepspent have quickly become one of El Paso’s best, up-and-coming bands; in fact, locally they’ve become one of the area’s go-to bands, opening for a variety of nationally recognized touring bands. And from “Come Smile With Me,” off the El Paso-based band’s Chris Common-produced debut EP It’s Better If You Don’t Speak Or Think, released earlier this year through Slow Start Records, the young band specializes in a sound that draws from shoegaze, dream pop and indie rock. “That can be heard in the alternate tunings used throughout our music as well as the melodic chord progressions and melodies,” the band’s Austin North says in press notes.
Although sonically speaking some of my colleagues may describe the band’s sound as being reminiscent of The Cure and The Smiths, the band’s sound bit reminds me of Forever So and Ruckers Hill-era Husky as the young Texans walk a difficult tightrope between technical craft and earnest emotionality.
The band is currently in the middle of their first tour. Check out the remaining tour dates below.
Tour Dates 
07/09/2018:  Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlie’s
07/12/2018: Memphis, TN @ Sounds Good Memphis
07/13/2018: Nashville, TN @ Drifters BBQ
07/14/2018: Cincinnati, OH @ The Comet
07/16/2018: Minneapolis, MN @ Char Bar
07/17/2018: Omaha, NE @ B Bar
07/18/2018: Tulsa, OK @ Soundpony
07/19/2018: Wichita, KS @ Kirby’s Beer Store
07/21/2018: Norman, OK @ Red Brick Bar
07/22/2018: Albuquerque, NM @ Moonlight Lounge

Currently comprised of founding member and frtonwoman Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With the release of a handful of singles, the band’s profile rapidly rose — and it resulted in a relentless touring schedule with an increasing amount of time spent on the road. Although the band found their groove, the stress was way too much and the band went through the first of many lineup changes that found Carol continuing onward with a series of session musicians.

Despite the lineup changes, the band eventually found themselves becoming buzz worthy, playing bigger clubs; however, for the Valley Queen’s founder and frontwoman, the chemistry that she had felt and began to depend on to create and perform was missing. They landed a record deal — a dream that countless bands desperately wish to achieve; but as Carol began to recognize, the band was much more than her concentrating on writing lyrics while session musicians were being paid to play and record the material as directed. What she had long desired was for the band to be what it originally was about — the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.

As the story goes, before writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced, soon-to-be released full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Shawn Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best CoastFool’s GoldNikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production that focus on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians’ performances. And for the members of Valley Queen, the experience writing and recording was ultimately about the collective exploring and creating together. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year I wrote about album title track “Supergiant,” and the album’s latest single “Chasing the Muse” continues in a similar vein — 70s AM rock inspired indie rock with an earnest emotional heft that comes from living a full and messy life, complete with its frustrations, crushing defeats and small victories. Ultimately, both tracks are centered around Carol’s powerhouse Linda Ronstadt-like vocals, a deliberate attention to craft and some exceptional and passionate musicianship.

Valley Queen will be touring to support their new effort and the initial batch of tour dates are below.

VALLEY QUEEN TOUR DATES

July 5-8 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival

July 28 Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
August 01 San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord
August 02 Davis, CA – Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
August 03-05 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
August 07 Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
August 08 Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
August 09 Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
August 11 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
August 12 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
August 15 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew

New Video: The Debaucherous and Absurd Visuals for Tempesst’s “A Little Bit of Trouble”

Initially based around Queensland, Australia-born, founding members and twin siblings Toma Banjamin (vocals, guitar) and Andy Banjamin (drums), the up-and-coming psych rock/psych pop quintet Tempesst completed their lineup when the Benjamin Brothers relocated to London, where they eventually recruited Eric Weber (guitar), Kane Reynolds (keys) and Blake Misipeka (bass) to fill out the band’s lineup.  The Australian/British quintet’s 2017 debut EP, Adult Wonderland was released to critical praise in the UK — and as result of the growing buzz surrounding them, they wound up opening of the likes of The Veils, Temper Trap, GUM, and Albert Hammond, Jr., and they played showcases at The Great Escape, the NME Awards and Live at Leeds, as well as sets at Bushstock, Southsea Fest, and Hackney Wonderland.

Slated for release later this month, the band’s Doomsday EP is slated for a July 27, 2018 release and the effort, which was tracked over the course of a breakneck 4 days earlier this year reportedly finds the band expanding upon both their songwriting and sound,  adding instruments and layers to the proverbial sonic palette.  While maintaining elements of the 60s and 70s sound that won them attention across the UK, the Australian/British outfit manages to subtly modernize it, with subtle nods to contemporary psych rock and psych pop, as well as folk and indie rock. Interestingly, the EP thematically finds the up-and-coming band dealing with an increasing awareness of their own mortality. As the band’s Toma Banjamin says in press notes, “I have been caught in a ‘meaning of life’ spiral, which I guess is pretty normal in your 20s. It’s the first time that I’ve felt so aware of my mortality and it probably doesn’t help that the Facebook and Netflix algorithms keep feeding me documentaries on the topic.” In some way, that sense of mortality shouldn’t be surprising in a world that seems to be inching towards annihilation.

The EP’s latest single “A Little Bit of Trouble” is a decidedly 70s AM rock-inspired song centered around a jangling and shimmering guitar line, a stunningly gorgeous string line that emphasizes a soaring hook, and an easy going yet shuffling groove, but underneath the breezy vibes is a song that’s deeply rooted in a sense of regret and shame. There’s the sense that the song’s narrator repeatedly finds himself in similar, ridiculous situations — and that he has the awareness that he’s only doing it to himself. And as a result, he’s resolved to clean up his life, stop the foolishness and grow up.  Interestingly, the song as the band’s Toma Banjamin explains was inspired by a real life incident, “The week we started writing the instrumentals for the track we had a bit of an incident at a pub in East London. Some guys were giving Andy a hard time about his jacket or hat or something and everyone was pretty drunk. The song was written to capture the memory for eternity.”

The recently released video follows a male exotic dancer as he confidently struts to the strip club, like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever but as the video progresses, it’s clear that the dancer’s confidence is a superficial facade, as he performs in front of a drunk and generally listless crowd, who are daring him to impress them — with something other than what he’s actually doing. Yes, it’s tongue in cheek but it manages to point out a larger absurdity that any performer should immediately recognize.