Tag: indie rock

New Audio: Los Angeles’ VOWWS Releases an Anthemic Hook-Laden Single

With the release of 2015’s debut effort, The Great Sun, which was recorded with longtime friend, mentor and renowned engineer Kevin S. McMahon, the post-punk duo VOWWS, comprised of Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based duo of Rizz and Matt quickly received attention for a sound that drew upon a diverse array of influences including classic Western, electronica, surf rock, metal, film soundtracks, post-punk and industrial rock; however, the duo’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Under the World, which continues their ongoing collaboration with Kevin S. McMahon, finds the duo reportedly eschewing the familiar post-punk and industrial tropes to allow much more hook for razor sharp hooks, direct vocals and richer, nuanced textures.

And with Under the World’s latest single “Forget Your Finery,” the duo pair angular guitar and bass chords played through layers of fuzz and other distortion pedals with thumping and propulsive drumming — but throughout the song there’s a deliberate attention to melodicism and crafting an infectious, arena rock friendly hook in what may be one of the more anthemic songs I’ve come across so far this year.

New Audio: Up-and-Coming Portland, OR-based Act Blackwater Holylight Specializes in a 120 Minutes-era Alt Rock Sound

Comprised of founding member, Allison “Sunny” Faris (vocals, bass), Laura Hopkins (guitar, vocals), Cat Hoch (drums) and Sarah McKenna (synth), the Portland, OR-based rock act Blackwater Holylight began as an experiment of what Faris’ own version of what should feel heavy both sonically and emotionally. “I also wanted a band in which vulnerability of any form could be celebrated.” But interestingly, as Faris explains in press notes, her current band can trace its origins to when Faris’ longtime band split up. “In my last band, I was the only female in a group of 6, so I wanted to see how my songwriting and vulnerability could glow taking the drivers seat and working with women.” 

As you’ll hear on “Sunrise,” off the band’s self-titled debut effort, the band’s sound meshes elements of Breeders-era alt rock and garage, swirling and towering shoegaze, psych rock and moody post punk with soaring hooks — and although the song manages to be reminiscent  of classic, 120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock, the song structurally walks a tightrope between moody, slow-burning dirge, anthemic power pop within a fluid song structure that eschews the familiar verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus of the past. 

Fronted by 23 year-old Jacob Duarte, the Houston, TX-based indie rock trio Narrow Head has quickly developed a reputation for a sound that draws from 120 Minutes-era alternative rock, as it simultaneously possesses elements of grunge and shoegaze — and considering that the band suggests acts like Hum, Deftones, Failure, Swirlies and My Bloody Valentine as influences, that shouldn’t be surprising.

Recorded at the end of last year, during recording sessions intended for their next full-length album, the Houston-based trio’s latest single “Bulma” will further cement the trio’s reputation for a decidedly 1990s sound, as they firmly add their names to a growing list of contemporary bands, who have brought back a familiar and beloved sound with a subtly modern twist, like Dead Stars and others.

The band is currently on a West Coast tour. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

Jan 13 – Fullerton, CA @ Programme
Jan 14 – Oakland, CA @ tba
Jan 15 – San Francisco, CA @ tba
Jan 16 – Eugene, OR @ Voodoo Donuts
Jan 17 – Portland, OR @ Blackwater
Jan 18 – Olympia, WA @ tba
Jan 19 – Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
Jan 20 – Vancouver, BC @ Subculture Club

Over the past couple of years of this site’s history, I’ve written a bit about the Brooklyn-based psych rock/indie rock trio  Sunflower Bean. Comprised of founding duo Nick Kivlen (guitar, vocals) and Jacob Faber (drums) with Julia Cumming (bass, lead vocals), the band can trace their origins back to when Kivlen and Faber were members of local indie rock act Turnip King together — and at the time, Kivlen and Faber had been spending a great deal of their time away from the band jamming together, before deciding that they should start their own project. Cumming, who was then a member of Supercute! with Rachel Trachtenburg, was recruited by Kivlen, who had known her through mutual friends.

The band quickly became a buzz-worthy act with a run of attention grabbing, critically applauded sets during 2014’s CMJ Festival, which they promptly followed with a series of shows across town; but with the release of that year’s Rock & Roll Heathen EP and 2015’s Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP, which featured singles “Tame Impala” and “2013.” the band quickly rose to national and international prominence. Adding to a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based psych rock trio toured across the US and the UK both as a headliner and as an opener for  Wolf AliceBest Coast and The Vaccines. Sunflower Bean completed a breakthrough run with the release of their  Matthew Molnar-produced debut effort Human Ceremony, which was released to critical praise back in 2016.

After spending the better part of 2016 with a roughly 200 date world tour, the members of the band initially planned to take a well-earned, extended break; however by mid-December. the trio were in Faber’s Long Island basement with song ideas that eventually became their highly-anticipated Jacob Portrait and Matt Molnar-produced  sophomore effort, Twentytwo in Blue, which is slated for a March 23, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Records, which is both 22 months after the release of their full-length debut — and coincidentally, when each member turns 22.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout 2017, you may have come across the trio’s single “I Was A Fool,” a single that you may recall found the trio closely hewing to the late 60s psych rock and 70s classic rock that has long inspired their sound and aesthetic, but while gently pushing their sound in the direction of Fleetwood Mac. and others.  As the band’s Nick Kivlen explained in press notes at the time, “‘I Was A Fool’ is one of those songs that seemingly crept up from nowhere and into our practice space. it was a special moment between the three of us, Julia and I both improvised the lyrics. It feels far longer but it’s been nearly two years since ‘we’ve put new music into the world. I think this song is a good example of how we’ve grown as a band, while still staying true to the band that first played together back in high school.”

Interestingly, “Crisis Fest,” Twentytwo in Blue‘s first official single from the album finds the band tackling much more sobering topics with song directly discussing the uncertainty and politically volatile period in which it was written. “While writing this album, we often reflected back on the people we met while on tour. We felt a strong kinship with the audiences that came to see us all over the country, and we wanted to write a song for them — something to capture the anxieties of an uncertain future. ‘Crisis Fest’ is less about politics and more about the power of us, the young people in this country.” And as a result, the song which sonically finds the band touching upon glam rock — in particular, to my ears, a bit of Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night” mixed with Ace Frehley’sBack in the New York Groove” as it’s an rousingly anthemic stomper of song, that’s indirectly a call to action that suggests that now it’s the time for young people to start getting the world right — or we won’t have a chance.

The members of the band will be embarking on a lengthy tour to support the album that includes a February 13, 2018 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour dates

1/26 – Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits
1/31 – Chicago, IL @ Metro ^
2/01 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East ^
2/03 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk ^
2/05 – San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger ^
2/06 – Dallas, TX @ Granada ^
2/07 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Inside Downstairs) ^
2/09 – New Orleans, LA @ Republic New Orleans ^
2/10 – Athens, GA  @ 40 Watt ^
2/11 – Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre ^

2/13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel ^
2/14 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^

2/22 – London, UK @ The Jazz Cafe @
3/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge
3/02 – San Francisco, CA @  Rickshaw Stop

3/24 – Nottingham, UK @ Rescue Rooms

3/26 – Norwich, UK @ Open Norwich

3/27 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare and Hounds

3/28 – Newcastle upon Tyne, UK @ Riverside

3/29 – Leeds, UK @ Wardrobe

3/30 – Manchester, UK @ Gorilla

3/31 – Liverpool, UK @ The Magnet

4/01 – Glasgow, UK @ Stereo

4/03 – Bristol, UK @ Thekla

4/05 – Brighton, UK @ Concorde 2

4/06 – London, UK @ Koko

4/09 – Paris, FR @ Point Ephemere

4/10 – Antwerp, Belgium @ TRIX VZW

4/11 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso

4/12 – Hamburg, Germany @ Molotow

4/13 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Loppen

4/14 – Berlin, Germany @ Rosis

4/15 – Vienna, Austria @ Chelsea Club

4/17 – Lausanne, Switzerland @ Le Romandie

4/18 – Zurich, Switzerland @ Bogen F

4/19 – Cologne, Germany @ Blue Shell

5/20 – Gulf Shores, AL @ The Hangout Music Festival
^ – w/ Sleigh Bells

@ – supporting Jessie Ware

New Audio: Jay Som Releases Previously Unreleased Single from Her Critically Applauded Debut

Melina Duterte is an Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo recording project Jay Som received national and international attention last year from the likes of NPR Music, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Stereogum, Paste, Consequence of Sound, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Spin, Newsweek, Exclaim!, Under the Radar and a number of others elsewhere.

Building upon a growing profile, Duterte, recently announced the release of two previously unreleased songs that were recorded during the Everybody Works sessions as a 7 inch single titled “Pirouette”/”OK Meet Me Underwater,” that will be officially released both on vinyl and digitally on January 26, 2018 through Polyvinyl Records. Both of these tracks were made during the spring of 2016 – the first demo stages  for Everybody Works. They were fun to write and record but felt out of place on the track list during the finalization of the album. These tracks remain close to my heart and I’m really grateful they’re finally out in the world,” Duterte explains press notes about her soon-to-be released 7 inch single. And as you’ll hear on A side single “Pirouette,” Duterte specializes in a jangling, hook driven, 90s alt rock inspired sound, reminiscent of The Breeders but with an incredibly bold yet breezy self-assuredness.  

Gareth “Gaz” Coombes is an Oxford, UK-born and raised singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known as a founding member and frontman of renowned British indie rock act Supergrass, who over the course of their 17 years together released six full-length albums — 1995’s I Should Coco, 1997’s In It for the Money 1999’s self-titled, 2002’s Life on Other Planets, 2005’s Road to Rouen and 2008’s Diamond Hoo Ha, all of which landed on the UK Top 20. (Reportedly, the band had written material for a seventh album, just before their breakup, Release the Drones that remains unfinished and unreleased.)

Since Supergrass’ breakup Coombes has released two solo efforts — 2011’s Sam Williams-produced Here Comes the Bombs and his breakthrough 2015, self-produced sophomore album, Matador, which received a Mercury Prize nod thanks to the commercial success of its five singles, as well as critical praise from the likes of Q Magazine and Mojo Magazine. Interestingly, Coombes’ third, full-length album World’s Strongest Man, which is slated for a May 4, 2018 release through Hot Fruit/Caroline International Records was written and recorded at Coombes’ home studio and at Oxford’s Courtyard Studios with co-production with his longtime collaborator Ian Davenport, in a working process that Coombes has compared to being like “editing a novel.” And in som way that shouldn’t be surprising as the album was reportedly inspired by Grayson Perry’s autobiography The Descent of Man, Frank Ocean‘s Blonde, the work of Neu! and hip-hop while at points exploring the effects of unchecked and toxic masculinity among other things — but with a deeply personal bent.

The album’s latest single “Deep Pockets” finds the former Supergrass frontman taking on a decided motorik groove, with the song nodding at Screamadelica and Evil Heat-era Primal Scream, complete with a slick and infectious hook — and the song will likely cement Coombes reputation for crafting mischievously forward thinking and hook driven rock.

 


New Video: The Hazy and Dream-like Visuals for INHEAVEN’s “Sweet Dreams Baby”

With the release of their debut single “Regeneration” through Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records, the London, UK-based quartet INHEAVEN, comprised of Chloe Little (bass, vocals), James Taylor (vocals, guitar), Joe Lazarus (drums) and jake Lucas (guitar) quickly received national attention as BBC DJs Annie Mac, Phil Taggart, Steve Lamacq and Chris  Hawkins played the single on their respective radio shows. Adding to a growing profile, the London-based quartet were named one of XFM’s one to watch for in 2016 and were featured in DIY Magazine and NME — with NME naming them “One of the UK’s most exciting new bands.” 

Throughout the course of 2016 and 2017, the members of INHEAVEN opening for the likes of Sundara Karma, Circa Waves, Jamie T, Blossoms, Yak and The Magic Gang and played at a number of the world’s biggest festivals including Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury and Bilbao BBK before closing out last year with the release of their critically applauded debut album. 

The British indie rock quartet’s latest single “Sweet Dreams”  is the swooning and anthemic follow up to their buzz worthy debut and the critically applauded Acoustic EP and as the band mentions in press notes, the song was written as an anthem for those who are hoping for better things to come in 2018 — all while reminding the listener that they shouldn’t lose sight of their dreams. Sonically, the song finds the band drawing from Phil Spector’s famous “wall of sound,” complete with boy/girl harmonizing as well as 90s alternative rock, which helps the song manage to be arena rock and radio friendly. 

The recently released video manages to be stylistic yet dreamlike, as it flickers between the band performing the song and sepia-toned, intimate close ups of James Taylor and his bandmates as they perform the song, capturing the earnestness behind the song. 

New Video: The Eerily Psychedelic Visuals for Lowpines’ “We Come Right”

Oli Deakin is a London-based singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, who has received airplay from a number of BBC DJs, including Huw Stephens, Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq, as well press attention for his mostly solo recording project Lowpines. Initially begun through a series of lo-fi phone records, which were then overdubbed with multiple layers of reverb soaked instrumentation, Deakin eventually released several EPs and a full-length cassette over the past few years.

In Silver Halides, Deakin’s official full-length debut was written in rural England during the winter and recording began the following spring in a greenhouse, during an unseasoned heatwave. Understandably, the heat and sunlight created some intense recording sessions that were frequently interrupted by either the artist or the equipment overheating, which gave songs written with wintry imagery a new and very different direction. Opting to record with doors and windows throw open, much of the early demo recordings are filled with the ambient noises of the surrounding countryside, which managed to echo through the layers of reverb soaked instrumentation. Additional recording sessions were produced by IggyB at Bella Union Studios and featured Oli Deakin’s brother Jamie (drums) and Jesse Chandler (flute).

The album’s slow-burning and haunting first single “We Come Right” pairs Deakin’s plaintive and aching vocals with shimmering guitars, cinematic strings and subtle echoes of distant vocals and ambient sounds — and in some way, the song evokes the accumulation of lingering and inescapable ghosts.

Directed by Rupert Creswell, the recently released video for “We Come Right” features a variety of liquids gently undulating to the accompanying music, which further emphasizes the video’s haunting ambiance. 

New Audio: Franz Ferdinand Continues Their Run of Shimmering and Quirky Dance Floor Friendly Singles

Currently comprised of founding quartet Alex Kapranos (lead vocals, guitar), Nick McCarthy (rhythm guitar, keys and backing vocals), Bob Hardy (bass) and Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals), along with newest Julian Corrie (keys, synths, guitar and backing band), who joined last year, replacing founding member Nick McCarthy, the Glasgow, Scotland, UK-based indie rock/post punk act Franz Ferdinand formed back in 2002.  And with the release of their first two singles “Darts of Pleasure” and “Take Me Out” the members of the Scottish indie rock act quickly saw commercial and critical success — with “Take Me Out,” the band’s signature song peaking within the Top of the UK Singles Chart, and later earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. Additionally, not only did their eponymous, 2004 full-length debut received a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album and won the Mercury Prize, the band established themselves at the forefront of the post punk revival movement. Along with that, the band has won two Brit Awards — one for Best British Group, as well as one NME Award. 

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, with the album receiving a nomination for Best Alternative Album and “Do You Want To” receiving a nomination for Best Performance by Duo or Group with Vocal. However, 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand found the band moving from the post-punk sound that first won them international attention to a much more dance friendly sound while continuing an impressive streak 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 and they followed that up with teaming up with Sparks to form a supergroup FFS, which released their self-tiltled album in 2015. The renowned Scottish band’s fifth full-length album Always Ascending is slated for a February 9, 2018 release and the album’s latest single “Feel The Love Go,” finds the band continuing with a dance floor friendly, disco-era inspired sound while retaining elements of the Gang of Four-like post punk that first won them international attention as they pair angular guitar chords, sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and thumping beats with arpeggiated synths, warm blasts of soulful, Hall and Oates-like saxophone and razor sharp hooks. And yet interestingly enough, the song also finds the band maintaining their unique ability to craft quirky, white boy funk. 

Comprised of Stefano Bellerba (vocals, guitar), Leonardo Mori (synth), Matteo Luciani (bass), Saverio Paiella (guitar) and Daniele Cruccolini, the members of the Terni, Italy-based post-punk quintet Japan Suicide met and bonded over their mutual love of Joy Division, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode — but they also cite the likes of Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Japan, The Damned, Interpol, Suicide, CSI, CCCP and Massimo Volume as being major influences on their sound and songwriting approach. With the release of 2015’s We Die In Such a Place, 2016’s 1978 EP, and the appearance of “This Be The Verse” on Darkitalia’Sparkles in the Dark, Vol. 4 compilation, the Italian post punk quintet have received both national and international attention as one of their homeland’s best, contemporary indie rock/post punk bands.

Building on their growing profile, Japan Suicide’s third full-length effort Santa Sangre is slated for a February 14, 2018 release through Unknown Pleasures Records, and while the album’s first single “Circle” will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting material heavily indebted to early 80s post punk, it reveals a band that has been gently expanding upon their sound with nods to shoegaze and industrial rock as the band pairs fuzzy and angular guitar chords, thundering drumming, merrily twinkling synths and a soaring hook to evoke a creeping yet uncertain dread.