Tag: indie rock

Formed back in the mid 80s, the Paisley, Scotland, UK-based alt rock/indie rock act Close Lobsters — Andrew Burnett, Bob Burnett, Tom Donnelly, and Stewart McFayden — first came to prominence with “Firestation Towers,” a track that appeared on NME‘s C86 compilation.

Shortly, after the release of that compilation, the Scottish alt rock quartet signed to Fire Records, who released their debut single “Going To Heaven To See If It Rains” in October 1986. Their second single “Never Seen Before” was released in April 1987 and the single managed to further cement their reputation as one of the region’s leading emerging indie bands at that time. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on to release two albums: 1987’s Foxheads Stalk This Land, which was released to praise from Rolling Stone, who wrote that the album was “first-rate guitar pop from a top-shelf band. Close Lobsters could have been just another jangle group, but they have a lot more going for them than just chiming Rickenbackers” — and 1989’s Headache Rhetoric. 

By 1989, the band’s popularity on US college radio led to an appearance at that year’s New Music Seminar and an extensive Stateside tour. After successful tours across the UK, Germany, the States and Canada, the band went on an extended hiatus. Fire Records released the Forever, Until Victory! singles retrospective in October 2009. Interestingly, the retrospective’s title is derived from the reputed last sign-off in a letter Ernesto “Che” Guevara wrote to Fidel Castro, “¡Hasta la victoria siempre!”

After a 23-year hiatus, the members of the Scottish indie rock act reunited to play 2012’s Madrid Popfest, Glasgow Popfest and Popfest Berlin, which they followed up with 2013’s NYC Popfest.  May 2014 saw the band playing Copenhagen Popfest, and the release of the first batch of new recorded material from the band in 25 years, that year’s Kunstwerk in Spacetime EP. The EP’s lead single “Now Time” received quite a bit of attention. They released another single in 2015 before going back on hiatus.

Slated for a February 28, 2020 release through Last Night From Glasgow and Shelflife Records in the States, the john Rivers-produced Post Neo Anti is the first full-length album from the Scottish indie rock band in 31 years.  Recorded between 2014 and 2019, Close Lobsters’ forthcoming album finds the band collaborating with the producer of their 1986 debut — and in some way, the album reportedly is a long-awaited return to form. “All Compasses Go Wild,” Post Neo Anti‘s first single is an anthemic bit of guitar-driven jangle pop that immediately brings Starfish-era The Church and The Smithereens to mind.

 

 

 

 

 

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With the release of their debut EP last year’s I Used to Love You, Now I Don’t, the rapidly rising Brighton-based dream pop act Hanya — Heather Sheret (vocal, guitar), Benjamin Varnes (guitar), Dylan Fanger (bass) and Jack Watkins (drums) — received attention nationally for a sound that meshes 90s dream pop and shoegaze. Building upon a growing profile in England, the Brighton, UK-based dream pop act has opened for Honeyblood, Lazy Day and Tess Parks.

2020 looks to be a breakthrough year for Hanya: they’ll be making their Stateside debut at the 2nd Annal New Colossus Festival in March. But they begin the year with their latest single, “I’ll Do It Tomorrow.” Centered around shimmering guitar chords, Sheret’s gorgeous and achingly plaintive vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook, the track further establishes the dreamy  Brit Pop-like sound that has won them attention nationally while subtly nodding at 70s AM rock. In fact, in some way the song reminds me of The Sundays, Travis and others.

“I’ll Do It Tomorrow” was the result of realising that rarely does anyone take the advice we ask for, we love to procrastinate and wait until things change around us, it’s the magic of the human psyche,” the members of the band explain in press notes. “The song is pretty much advice to an old friend…be every version of yourself, let go, do it now, don’t wait until tomorrow”.

The band has a handful of tour dates, including their Stateside debut at the New Colossus Festival. Check out the dates.

 

Live Dates
17th January – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton (Love Thy Neighbours ‘Triptych’ Series)
1st February – The Piper, Saint Leonards (w/ Penelope Isles)
11-15 March – New Colossus Festival, New York City

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay The Still Tide Releases a Slow-burning and Yearning New Single

Throughout the course of last year, I managed to write quite a bit about Anna Morsett, the Olympia, WA-born, Denver-based singer/songwriter, musician and creative mastermind behind the indie rock act The Still Tide. Her work with The Still Tide has largely been inspired by experiences growing up in the Pacific Northwest, living in Brooklyn in her 20s and traveling the world as a guitar tech for the likes of critically applauded acts like Kaki King, The Tallest Man on Earth and The Devil Makes Three among others. As a solo artist, she has landed opening spots for Cat Power, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats and Margaret Glaspy.

Now, as you may recall Morsett’s soon-to-be released The Still Tide EP Between Skies s slated for release on Friday  and the EP’s material is inspired by the duality she regularly experiences and feels as a magnetic frontwoman and a self-described introspective loner while also touching upon love, loss, opportunities won and lost and the closed doors of our lives.

So far, I’ve written about three of the EP’s singles, the introspective , The Smiths and The Pretenders-like “Change of Address”  the shimmering and yearning “On The Line” and “Keep It.”  Morsett begins the new year with the release of Between Skies’ fourth and latest single, the slow-burning “Better Than I’ve Been.” And while the new single continues a run of introspective and unapologetically honest material, centered around the Olympia-born, Denver-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s plaintive and tender vocals and shimmering guitars, it may arguably be the most yearning and vulnerable single off the EP to date: the song’s narrator expresses the hope for a deeper, more impactful love in her life. Interestingly, throughout there’s a tacit acknowledgment that meaningful relationships and meaningful love are difficult, require work — for both people — and are incredibly rare.

“This song is about the hope for a deeper, more impactful love/relationship,” explains Morsett. “I wanted to fall in love in the way I dreamed and hoped love could be – something life altering and new in a way I’d not yet known – and that would require me to learn to love better than I’ve been loved.” 

New Audio: Introducing the Infectious and Socially Conscious Pop of Victor Marc

Victor Marc is an emerging, Lyon, France-born and -based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Marc started playing the piano when he turned 4 and quickly moved on to writing his original material. And by 2017, the emerging French singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist wrote and recorded an EP which led to a rapidly growing national profile, as well as one-man live shows across the country in which he bounced back and forth between different styles and genres, frequently meshing indie rock, electro pop and folk. 

Marc has an EP slated for a March 2020 release, and its first single is the soulful yet escapist pop tune, “Space.” Centered around an infectious, disco-influenced, two step inducing groove, the song sounds like a funkier version of JOVM mainstay Sam Fender.In fact, as the song has a decidedly political leaning — as it talks about hypocrisy, brutality and inequality in stark and realistic terms. And if you’re a sensitive and thoughtful person, there are a moments in which you’d want to just escape this planet.  “The song’s about the political, ecological issues the world is facing today and that paradoxically makes the unwelcoming space a bit more appealing, Space also has the meaning of something we need to find, a sort of inner peace . . .” Marc wrote to me in an email. 

The recently released video is a visual representation of the song’s lyrics while focusing on the narrator’s desperate desire to escape. 

New Audio: Post Animal Releases a Shimmering Prog Rock-like Single

With the release of 2018’s self-produced, critically applauded full-length debut, When I Think of You In  A Castle, the Chicago-based prog pop act Post Animal— Dalton Allison (bass, vocals), Jake Hirshland (guitar, keys, vocals), Javi Reyes (guitar, vocals), Wesley Toledo (drums, vocals), and Matt Williams (guitar) — received attention nationally for a kaleidoscopic, guitar-heavy sound. 

Released late last year, “Safe or Not” was part of the first batch of new material from the Chicago-based act since the release of When I Think of You In A Castle, and the single was a decided chance in sonic direction for the band. Arguably, the most dance floor friendly track the band has released to date, the track was centered around shimmering guitars, four-on-the-floor drumming, glistening synths, a sinuous bass line and a motorik-like groove. 

“We wanted to leave the content more open ended for the listener to navigate, but it’s about self reflection,” the members of Post Animal explain in press notes. “We played around with more somber, serious lyrical content over a particularly dance-oriented song to juxtapose how one may feel internally versus how they’re outwardly portraying themselves in the moment.”

Interestingly, the first batch of new material the Chicago-based band released late last year serves as the first taste of the band’s forthcoming sophomore album Forward Motion Godsyssey next month through Polyvinyl Records. “Fitness,” the album’s third and latest single is a slow-burning track centered around atmospheric synths, rolling congo-led percussion, shimmering guitars, a brief yet gorgeous string arrangement for most of the song’s length, a blazing power chord-driven bridge before ending in a shimmering and moody coda. Sonically, the track bears an uncanny resemblance to Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” but with a prog rock bent. 

Led by songwriter/producer and founder of Ice Queen Records and founding member Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins back
to when Lekkas lived in Philadelphia. After spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. When he started Palm Ghosts, the project initially began as a solo recording project and creative way for Lekkas to deal with a rather incapacitating blunt of depression and anxiety. Lekkas then spend a long Philadelphia/Northeastern winter recording a batch of introspective songs that he dubbed “sun-damaged American music” that would eventually become the Palm Ghost debut album.
After a short tour in 2013 to support the Palm Ghost debut album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Once he settled in to his new hometown, Lekkas set up a small home studio in the guest bedroom of a rental house on Greenland Avenue in East Nashville, where he eventually wrote and recorded the sophomore Palm Ghosts album, 2017’s Greenland, an album that
featured elements of electro pop, folk and indie rock, influenced by his adopted hometown’s long-held “song-is-king” culture. 2018’s Architecture found Lekkas further influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order and The Cure among others — although the album’s first single “Turn the Knife” to my ears, managed to bring New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen to mind but with male/female harmonies.
Palm Ghosts’ latest single “Wide Awake and Waiting” continues a run of material that’s deeply inspired by and indebted to 80s post-punk: this time, the new single brings Joy Division and New Order’s “Ceremony” to mind. And at its core, the song is centered around a similar aching longing, shimmering synth arpeggios and an angular and propulsive bass line.

 

 

New Audio: Newcastle’s Acclaimed Lanterns on the Lake Release an Urgent Call to Resist Hate

Lanterns on the Lake are a critically applauded Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based indie rock quintet, currently comprised of founding trio Hazel Wilde (vocals, guitar, piano), Paul Gregory (guitar, production) and Oliver Ketteringham (drums, piano) with Bob Allen (bass) and Angela Chan (violin, cello, viola).  Founded back in 2007, the band self-released two EPs and a single, which caught the attention of Bella Union Records, who signed the band in late 2010. 

Shortly after signing to their label home, the band contributed a track to Bella Union’s Christmas 10″ EP compilation, which featured tracks from Peter Broderick and Radiohead’s Phillip Selway. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding, the band’s self-produced and self-recorded full-length debut effort, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home was released to critically applause in 2011.  During that period, the band opened for Explosions in the Sky, Low, and Yann Tiersen. 

The band’s sophomore album 2013’s Until the Colours Run was released to critical praise, with most reviewers noting the material’s sociopolitical thematic concerns and undertones. The members of Lanterns on the Lake supported their sophomore effort through the following year with extensive touring across the European Union and their first Stateside tour. 

Lantern on the Lake’s third album 2015’s Beings continued a run of critically applauded albums with Drowned in Sound calling the band “one of Britain’s most crucial bands of the present moment” and DIY Magazine describing them as “virtually without equal.” The Newcastle-based act supported the album with extensive tours across the European Union and the UK, playing their largest hometown show to date, at Sage Gateshead, where they were accompanied by Royal Northern Sinfonia, performing orchestral arrangements by Fiona Brice.  The show was recorded and released as a 2017 live album, Live with Royal Northern Sinfonia. 

Adding to a growing profile nationally and internationally the band has played sets across the international festival circuit, including End of the Road Festival, Glastonbury Festival, SXSW and Bestival. 

The band’s highly-anticipated fourth album, Spook the Herd is slated for a February 21, 2020 release through Bella Union. Deriving its title from a pointed comment at the manipulative tactics of ideologies, the album thematically is inspired by and draws from our turbulent and uncertain times in which we’re on the brink of our own annihilation — with the album’s nine songs touching upon our time’s hopelessly polarized politics, social media, addiction, grief, the climate crisis and more. 

Interestingly, Spook the Herd marks the first time that the band left their native Newcastle to record in a studio — Yorkshire’s Distant City Studios, where the album was engineered by Joss Worthington. Naturally, this shook up comfortable mindsets they’ve developed during their relatively young careers. “We are a pretty insular band in how we work, and trusting other people enough to allow them to get  involved is not always easy for us,” the band’s Hazel Wilde admits in press notes. 

Recorded live as much as possible, the band’s sound still draws from dream pop and post rock — but with a stripped down approach, which gives the material a stark urgency and immediacy. And it reportedly may be the most intimate feeling album of their growing catalog with the material feeling as though you were in the room with the band. The album’s latest single “Baddies” finds the acclaimed British act balancing a widescreen and bombastic cinematic air with a balladeer’s intimacy, centered around soaring strings, dramatic and forceful drumming, shimmering guitar lines and Wilde’s gorgeous and expressive vocals. And while being breathtakingly beautiful, the song which seems to recall Portishead-like trip hop, Beach House-like dream pop and post rock is its narrator’s desperate, last stand against hatred and polarization; one that has its narrator actively seeking the universal to bring the little people of the world together. 

“Baddies is a song about the rising tide of anger and hate in the world that seems to have been unleashed over the last few years, with those in positions of power and influence actively encouraging it for their own ends, and the polarization of society as a result,” Hazel Wilde explains in press notes. “It is about the need for the individual, the underdog, to stand up to it, but the fact in doing so we become part of it. We become someone else’s baddie.” 

Casey Meehan is a Chicago area mainstay best known for his work with Chicago Mixtape, a weekly curated playlist of the best music shows happening in and around the Chicagoland area. Late last year, I wrote about Meehan’s latest music project Sy Somebody, and as you may recall the project can trace its origins to a a conversation he had with Father John Misty‘s David Vandervelde. Vandervelde introduced Meehan to his bandmate Eli Thompson and the trio began discussing the possibility of making a record together.

Eventually Meehan began sending demos to Vandervelde. Those demos thematically contemplated the mysteries and complexes of the human condition within the larger cosmos — but written as though an omnipotent, unseen person was in control. Interestingly enough, doing so inspired Meehan to name the project Sy Somebody.

Meehan, Vandervelde and Thompson then recruited an All-Star cast of collaborators including Jeremy Enigk‘s and The Intelligence‘s Kaanan Tupper, Richard Swift’s The Weepies’, Everest’s and Pedro The Lion’s Frank Lenz, Bobby Bare Jr.’s Mr. Jimmy, The O’My’s, and Chance the Rapper‘s Maceo Haymes and Chance’s Social Experiment’s and Santah‘s Vivian McConnel to flesh out the material that eventually coalesced into the project’s full-length debut Life is Cruel, Let’s Be Friends, which is slated for a January 31, 2019 release.

Zookeeper,Life is Cruel, Let’s Be Friends‘ previous single was a seemingly grunge-inspired track, centered around fuzzy power chords, a steady and propulsive rhythm and Meehan’s world weary delivery, rooted in the frustrations and pressures of adult life. “Idle Minds,” the album’s third and latest single, which features a guest spot from The O’My’s Maceo Vidal-Haymes is a decidedly disco inspired, indie rock affair, centered around four-on-the-floor drumming, synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, Meehan’s world weary delivery and warm blasts of horn.  And while seemingly recalling The Rolling Stones‘ “Emotional Rescue,” the deceptively upbeat song captures the neurotic obsessions of a lonely and anxious man, who replays his mistakes repeatedly; but at the core of the song, is the fact that the song’s narrator realizes that he’s at fault — and he can’t live with it. 

Austin-based shoegaze/dream pop act ThunderStars, comprised of longtime Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos multi-instrumentalist Erik Klang (vocals, guitar), Sven Bjorkman (drums) and Omar Richardson (bass) can trace their origins back to when Bjorkman posted a random thought about a creating a band named ThunderStars, a term coined by his toddler daughter, during a stress-fueled trip to the hospital. And while marking Klang’s return to music, the band has had a art-out-of-chaos theme hanging over them since their inception back in 2018.

After their second-ever live show, Omar Richardson was assault by a vagrant outside of the venue, which resulted in a severe concussion and a subsequent trip to the ER. The incident was covered extensively by Austin-bass news outlets — and as a result the band’s profile rose unexpectedly. Additionally, their early demos were well received publicly with the band receiving radio and podcast airplay, as well as show bookings with a number of national touring acts.

Building upon a growing profile, the Austin-based shoegazers’ latest effort Number Stations is slated for a Friday release through Mariel Recording Company. Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the slow-burning and shimmering “Not That Far.” Centered around Klang’s plaintive vocals, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, the track manages to recall 4AD-era shoegaze, as it possesses an ethereal and feverish quality.

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays The Orielles Release a Trippy and Shimmering, Dance Floor Friendly Single

I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the rapidly rising Halifax, UK-based act The Orielles over the past couple of years. Founded by siblings Sidonie B. Hand-Halford (drums), Esmé Dee Hand-Halford (vocals, bass) and their best friend Henry Carlyle Wade (guitar, vocals), the JOVM mainstays built up a great deal of buzz, when Heavenly Recordings‘ head Jeff Barrett signed the band after catching them open for labelmates The Parrots in late 2016.

2017’s critically applauded, full-length debut Silver Dollar Moment found the band establishing a genre-defying sound that meshed elements of psych rock, pop and disco centered around  surrealistic observations of every day life. Interestingly, after Silver Dollar Moment, the band’s founding trio recruited Alex Stephens (keys) as a full-time member of the band, expanding the band into a quartet. And with their newest member, they went into the studio to record material that included “Bobbi’s Second World” and a cover/rework of Peggy Gou’s “It Makes You Forget (itgehane).” Those two singles saw the band’s sound increasingly (and playfully) leaning towards Speaking in Tongues-era Talking Heads, ESG and the like, while featuring rock-based instrumentation. 

Last year, the JOVM mainstays were busy working on their highly-anticipated sophomore album Disco Volador. “Its literal interpretation from Spanish means flying disc but everyone experiences things differently. Disco Volador could be a frisbee, a UFO, an alien nightclub or how you feel when you fly; what happens to your body physically or that euphoric buzz from a great party,” the band’s Esme Dee Halford suggests in press notes. “But it is an album of escape; if I went to space, I might not come back.”

Slated for a February 28, 2020 release, Disco Volador continues the band’s ongoing collaboration with producer Marta Salogni while reportedly finding the newly constituted quartet pushing their sound towards its outer limits with the band being astral travelers, creating progressive and trippy material that draws from samba, 70s disco, boogie funk, dance floor grooves and 90s acid house. And they do so while expanding their influences further to include the work of Italian film score composers Sandro Brugnolini and Piero Umiliami, as well as contemporary acts like Khruangbin and Altin Gun. “All the influences we had when writing this record were present when we recorded it, so we completely understood what we wanted this album to feel like and could bring that to fruition,” the band’s Sidonie B. Hand-Halford says in press notes.

Disco Volador also manages to capture the rapidly rising British indie act riding high off the success of their debut, which included a lengthy and successful summer tour with festival stops Green Man and bluedot. Late last year, I wrote about “Come Down On Jupiter,” Disco Volador’s first single further cemented the band’s genre-defying sound, as it was centered around an expansive song structure: starting with a slow-burning and brooding into, the song quickly morphed into a breakneck guitar pop with a psychedelic-tinged freak out. While retaining the razor sharp, infectious hooks that helped the British indie act win attention nationally and internationally, “Come Down On Jupiter” also managed to be an example of how versatile the British JOVM mainstays can be. “Space Samba (Disco Volador Theme),” the album’s latest single is a shimmering disco-tinged track, featuring propulsive polyrhythm led by four-on-the-floor drumming, layers of reverb-drenched, shimmering guitar, a sinuous bass line, Esmé Dee Hand-Halford’s ethereal vocals, arguably making it one of the most dance floor friendly and trippier songs they’ve released to date.