Tag: indie rock

 

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
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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.

Blood Blush is a rather mysterious New York-based post-punk act, and their latest single, the shimmering and moody “Demon Clout” as the band told me through email is “one on the lines of post-punk and goth but I think we are trying to blur some lines and call it ‘dreamgoth’ or something along those lines.” Interestingly enough, to my ears, Blood Blush’s latest single reminds me a bit of Chain of Flowers, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others.

The New York-based act will be touring throughout the summer and it includes two local dates — July 10, 2018 at Jersey City’s Pet Shop and July 13, 2018 at Bushwick Public House. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
J U L Y
07.10.18 JERSEY CITY, NJ at Pet Shop with Diap, Gherdty and Sailor Boyfriend.
07.13.18 BROOKLYN, NY at Bushwick Public House with Live Well, Leight Blumer and Keef Clan.
07.25.18 PHILADELPHIA, PA at Philamoca with NITE, The New Division and Korine.
07.26.18 PITTSBURGH, PA at Belvederes (Coven) with Death Instinct.
07.27.18 BALTIMORE, MD at The Baltimore Free Farm with Carl Gene and The Ward.
A U G U S T
08.16.18 KUTZTOWN, PA at Mind Palace with Reaches.
08.17.18 WILKES BARRE, PA at Karl Hall with Draining Youth, The Ordinals and Mr. Softee.
08.18.18 SYRACUSE, NY at The Spit Fam Haus with Siren’s Image and The Shuvits.
08.19.18 ROCHESTER, NY at Rosen Krown with Jan The Actress and Buffalo Sex Change.
08.20.18 SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY at Desperate Annie’s (Super Dark Collective Showcase).
O C T O B E R
10.19.18 COLUMBUS, OH at No Culture (Video Performance – 5pm).
10.19.18 COLUMBUS, OH at Tree Bar with Master Servos and Child of Night.
10.20.18 INDIANAPOLIS, IN at The Spruce Goose with Tombaugh Regio and Den Dwellers.
10.22.18 HAMMTRACK, MI at The New Dodge Lounge with TBA.
10.24.18 MONTREAL, QE at Mademoiselle with Spring Blades and TBA.
10.25.18 SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY at Desperate Annie’s (Super Dark Collective Showcase) with Spell Runner and Bare Mattress.

Comprised of Michael Young, Ryan Hayes, Ryan Cross, Glen Scheidt and Travis Girton, the Portland, OR-based indie rock quintet King Who will be releasing their Hutch Harris-produced sophomore full-length album Giant Eye through SELF Group on August 17, 2018 — and reportedly, the album finds the up-and-coming quintet expanding upon their sound as they increasingly incorporate elements of New Wave, post-punk and dream pop  while retaining the heavy bass of their full-length debut Us Lights. Interestingly, Giant Eye‘s first single, the slow-burning “Ice Cream” sonically finds the band drawing from shoegaze and dream pop as the song is centered around shimmering guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring hook and Micheal Young’s plaintive falsetto — and while the song draws from 120 Minutes-era all rock, it has a clean, modern production sheen that makes the song a bit anachronistic.

 

New Video: Wild Moccasins Release Symbolic Performance-based Visuals for Aching New Single “Longtime Listener”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Houston, TX-based indie rock/indie pop act Wild Moccasins, and as you may recall, the act which is led by its founding duo Zahira Gutierrez (vocals, keys) and Cody Swann (guitar, vocals), and features Avery Davis (drums) Nicholas Cody (bass) can trace their origins back to 2007 when its founding duo started writing songs together, about a year into their romantic relationship. And although Wild Moccasins has gone through a number of lineup changes throughout its history, the band initially wrote and recorded indie rock-inspired work centered around dance pop-like guitar lines and tight vocal harmonies; however, with the release of 88 92, the Houston-based quartet had begun to increasingly incorporate synths and other New Wave influences into their work — and that has continued with their recently released Ben H. Allen-produced Look Together.

As the members of the band note, Allen inspired a much different approach to their writing and recording process, and the result is an album that finds the band blending the guitar driven elements of their early work with 80s and 90s synth pop and New Wave; but unlike their previously recorded material, the album thematically, lyrically and emotionally is centered around the the volatility, heartache and confusion of the dissolution of a longtime romantic relationship — in the case, the romantic relationship between Gutierrez and Swann. But along with that, the album focuses on the difficulties of repairing a relationship after a breakup, of fresh starts and shedding past insecurities.

As both Gutierrez and Swann note, the breakup of their romantic relationship and its immediate aftermath were extremely difficult as it occurred as the band was in the middle of a lengthy tour. They would spend the countless hours driving from city to city in the tour van in silence; on stage they’d painfully stare each other down; and they’d exchange exaggerated and embittered he-said-she-saids through songs. Although countless bands with a romantic couple at their center have split up, the former lovers decided to choose a way to reconcile their differences by working towards a common musical goal. Songwriting has been engrained within Gutierrez and Swann’s relationship and while being emotionally vulnerable with a former romantic partner was initially difficult, they also found that it helped clear the air between them. “I think we look back on that time and take some comfort in knowing that we went through that together,” says Swann. “It needed to happen in order for us to have this resolve.”“Yeah, it needed to happen,” Gutierrez adds. “Now, when I sing the songs, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief.”

“No Muse,” Look Together’s second single was a slickly produced, shimmering New Wave-like song with an infectious, arena friendly hook — but underneath the self-assuredness of its performance, the song bristles with the bitter and aching hurt of someone who realizes that they’ve been used, and that they’ve had enough of it all. As Gutierrez explains “‘No Muse’ is about feeling like men use women as muses in the wrong context. A lot of women have had the experience of being taken advantage of or had men in power try to take control of what they do, so this song encourages women to be their own muses. Because of what the song represents to me, I decided it was best for me to direct the video and sought out a female cinematographer (Rachel Bays) to shoot it in order to remove any sort of male gaze. I felt it was important to see the video through the eyes of a woman.”

“Longtime Listener,” Look Together’s latest single while being a mid-tempo ballad continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its centered around a simmering New Wave-like arrangement and soaring hooks; however, emotionally the song focuses on the overwhelming and confusing push and pull of emotions in the immediate aftermath of a longtime breakup, as well as the lingering ghosts of memories, smells and so on. But much like Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way,” the song is a bit of a kiss off — in which the song’s narrator is busy putting on a brave face. And while being an aching ballad on what once was and can’t be again, and a bit of a kiss off, there’s the subtle reminder that there was this amazing connection that the narrator once had that’s become part of a messy but well-lived life — and perhaps just as important, that she will move forward and love again.

Directed by the band’s Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann, the video begins with Gutierrez sitting impatiently by the phone before answering it. Her bandmates continually hand her phones that she picks up, answers and hangs up and at her most overwhelmed,  Gutierrez and her similarly dressed bandmates go off to perform the song. It’s surreal but it captures the song’s ache and bitterness.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay San Mei Releases Surreal Performance-Based Visuals for Anthemic New Single “Wonder”

Throughout the course of this site’s history, I’ve written a quite a bit about the Gold Coast, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Hamilton and San Mei, which began as a bedroom recording project but quickly received attention from this site and a number of major media outlets including NME, Indie Shuffle, NYLON and Triple J. Interestingly, Hamilton’s debut EP Necessary found Hamilton incorporating more organic instrumentation, reportedly drawing a bit from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power, and Feist. Essentially, the EP’s material saw Hamilton moving away from the bedroom recorded synth pop that first captured the attention of the blogosphere towards fuzzy yet incredibly self-assured, power chord-based dream pop,

Hamilton met songwriter, producer and musical phenom Oscar Dawson, who has worked with Holy Holy, Alex Lahey, Ali Barter, British India, Robbie Millerand Joyride at BIGSOUND last year, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator found the duo refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for her — and in turn, San Mei’s — sonic progression. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.”

“Wonder” is the first single since the release of Necessary, and while the single continues along a somewhat similar vein as the EP, it also manages to be a subtle refinement of her sound and songwriting that finds Hamilton creating an anthemic track, centered around a razor sharp, radio friendly hook, fuzzy shoegazer rock-like power chords and propulsive drumming — but interestingly, the song is arguably one of her most earnest songs, as it evokes the swooning, butterflies in the stomach sensation when someone who’s unknown to you captures your attention and you can’t quite pin down why. That unknown person becomes part of a mysterious daydream to you, in which you begin to wonder everything about them — and yet, there’s a part of you that isn’t certain if you want them to become more than just some brief, intoxicating illusion.

Directed by Jennifer Embelton, the recently released video for “Wonder” is centered on performance footage shot in an empty studio with a red background: the video begins with Hamilton getting up from the floor, and strumming the introductory chords before slowly pulling out to reveal Hamilton and her backing band. The video ends with the backing band packing up to go home while Hamilton remains in the studio, alone and in her dreams. 

Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan is a rather unique band — with a unique backstory. Comprised of Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar), the band features one native Swede — Sjöö — while the the other members relocated from South America. And with the release of their furious and incendiary full-length debut Caballo Negro, the Stockholm-based quintet quickly received attention for a signature sound that meshes elements of Latin music, in particular, Latin rhythm, percussion and groove that would have been part of musical and cultural heritage of Serrano, Gonzalez, Amigo and Espiondola while pairing it with the blistering guitar punk of Thee Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above 1979.

Slated for a September 7, 2018 release the Stockholm, Sweden-based punk rock act’s highly-anticipated Daniel Bengtson-produced sophomore album Swedish Cobra finds the band capturing their raw and raucous live sound on record — with all five of the band recording live to tape at Bengtson’s Studio Rymden, and with minimal takes and overdubs. As the band’s Michell Serrano says in press notes, “You can hear that on the album. it’s quite raw and very intense.” And while reportedly being the most blistering effort the band has released to date, it’s also interestingly enough the most experimental one as well, as the members of the band’s roles became much more fluid. Additionally, the album finds the Swedish punk rock band expanding their sound through the use of different instrumentation to the usual punk rock arraignments. “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” Serrano explains. “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Additionally, the album lyrically reportedly is the most personal while not being the most overly political as it deals with the bandmembers’ everyday reality — and unsurprisingly, each individual member contributed lyrical ideas to the whole. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

To build up buzz for the new album, Sudakistan has released two singles from Swedish Cobra. First is the furious, jangling and swirling psych punk/surf punk “Whiplash” which is centered around Serrano’s howls, pedal effected guitars and tons of feedback, thunderous drumming, subtle bits of Latin percussion — and in some way, the song reminds me a bit of The Black Angels, complete with a swaggering sense of menace and an expansive song structure. Second is the mid-tempo ballad “Two Steps Back” a track that finds the band employing a 90s grunge rock song structure — alternating quiet, loud, quiet sections with a raise-your-beer-in-the-air-and-shout-along worthy hook, blistering power chords and Latin percussion. And while passionate and urgent, there’s something sobering about the material in a heightened age of nationalism, racism, xenophobia and sexism. Cultural exchange and openness has brought about new takes on the familiar, new modes of thinking, new foods, new words and perhaps more important empathy and understanding. Goddamn it, before we completely head off the rails, we need quite a bit more of that these days.

New Video: Brooklyn’s I Am The Polish Army Releases Symbolic Visuals for the Cathartic Single “Throat”

Currently comprised of founding member Emma DeCorsey (vocals, guitar), Turner Stough (bass) and Eric Kuby (drums), the Brooklyn-based indie rock trio I Am The Polish Army can trace its origins to back to the when DeCorsey first considered the strength of her voice and the purpose behind the music floating around in her head back in 2005. And between those early moments in which DeCorsey was trying to figure out what she should be doing musically and when the band finished its full-length debut My Old Man, the band had gone through several different iterations that failed, her home studio equipment was stolen and she scrapped the original ideas and material for what would be their debut and rewrote the bulk of it. But when she befriended Stough and Kuby, the direction of her life seemed permanently altered.

As the story goes, within three months of their first rehearsal together, the trio was in the studio with acclaimed engineer Charles Burst, who has worked with the likes of Neko Case, Psychic Ills and Crystal Stilts were working on the material that would comprise My Old Man. Driven by a desire to reinvent the material that DeCorsey wrote, the members of the band broke down each song to its essential elements and reshaped them in the mold of bands like Veruca Salt and The Breeders — bands that were heroes to a teenaged DeCorsey. 

Thematically and sonically, its material is meant to walk a careful tightrope between an enormous emotional weight and a redemptive catharsis, and unsurprisingly, the album which features songs that growl, punch, tear and ache draws from some of the harrowing, life-shattering experiences of its creator; in fact, My Old Man’s latest single”Throat” while being a 90s alt rock-inspired power chord ripper, draws from a deeply troubling and unexpected physical violation from someone the narrator trusted and cared about very deeply, focusing on the surreal moment when you’ve recognized that the person you’ve cared about wants to kill you — and that you may have to kill them to survive. Naturally, that particular violation will destroy your sense of security and trust in yourself — after all, you trusted and cared about someone, who tried to do you killed you — and in others. And for the rest of your, you find yourself much more deliberate and careful in your involvements and attachments to others; the fears and uncertainties linger. The song is steeped in the adrenaline, the fear and the weird recollections — in particular, the feel of snow on the narrator’s skin. 

As the band’s Emma DeCorsey writes in a personal statement on the song “‘Throat’ takes place on the early morning of December 21, 2008. I was crazy about a guy who refused to have a physical relationship with me, only over text. We’re having a text/sext moment at about 1:00am and I’m about to call it and go to sleep. At the same exact another sometime rock star I’d been vaguely involved with decides to show up in my life again and insists on coming to visit me in Sunset Park, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that’s pretty far away from the main scene. It was 3:00am and I couldn’t say no, something it took me years to be able to do. Turns out he likes to strangle women. It was snowing. I get frostbite easily. I’m not sure how I got rid of him.” 

Directed by Bon Jane, the recently released video for “Throat” is split between footage of DeCorsey walking around and commuting across the Lower East Side and Williamsburg in a ballroom gown, full of both determined and furious intent and desperation and multiple hands that touch her face and neck in a sensual fashion before getting a bit more aggressive. After watching the video multiple times, it struck me that throughout that DeCorsey was desperately escaping the camera, who was stalking her.