Tag: Mercury Lounge

New Video: The Dream Syndicate’s Lysergic Ode to Getting Older and Miles Davis

Currently comprised of founding members Steve Wynn, an accomplished and critically applauded singer/songwriter, guitarist and solo artist and drummer Dennis Duck, along with bassist Mark Walton and guitarist Jason Victor, the Los Angeles-based psych rock act The Dream Syndicate can trace its origins back to the early 80s when Wynn along with fellow founding member Kendra Smith and future True West members Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair founded and played in one of the area’s first new wave bands in the Davis, CA music scene, The Suspects. Wynn also recorded a single with another band, 15 Minutes, which included members of Alternate Learning.

After returning to his hometown, Wynn spent a brief stint of time rehearsing in another local band, Goat Deity with future Wednesday Week members, Kelly and Kristi Callan — and while with Goat Deity, Wynn met Karl Precoda, who had an answered an ad seeking a bassist. The two started a new band with Precoda switching to guitar. Wynn’s college pal and former bandmate Smith and Duck (Mehaffey), who was a member of Pasadena-based act Human Hands joining the band to complete The Dream Syndicate’s initial lineup. (Interestingly, as the story goes, Duck suggested the band’s name as a reference to Tony Conrad’s early 1960s New York-based experimental ensemble, best known as the Theatre of Eternal Music, which featured John Cale.)

With the release of their Paul B. Cutler-produced debut EP, The Dream Syndicate received attention locally for a sound influenced by The Velvet Underground, Neil Young and Television, completely with aggressively long, feedback-filled improvisations. The members of the band signed to Slash Records subsidiary Ruby Records, who released the band’s 1982 full-length debut, the attention-grabbing and influential Days of Wine and Roses. Rough Trade Records released their debut’s lead single “Tell Me When It’s Over” as the A-side of a UK EP, which included a live cover of Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul” that was released in early 1983. Smith left the band and joined David Roback in Opal — and she was replaced by David Provost.

Their Sandy Pearlman-produced sophomore effort Medicine Show was recorded and released through A&M Records in 1984 — and as a result of being on a major label, the band opened for R.E.M. and U2. Attempting to build on a growing profile, the members of the band released a five song EP This Is Not The New Dream Syndicate Album . . . Live!, which was noteworthy as it was the last recorded effort to feature Precoda, who left soon after to pursue a career in screenwriting — and it was the first to feature Mark Walton on bass. The EP’s commercial failure led to the band’s first breakup — although a temporary one. The band was then dropped by A&M Records after the label rejected the band’s demo for “Slide Away.”

During the band’s break up, Wynn along with Green on Red’s Dan Stuart wrote and recorded 10 songs with Duck and a number of other musicians, which was released by A&M Records in 1985 as Danny and Dusty’s The Lost Weekend. After the release of Lost Weekend, Wynn, Duck and Walton teamed up with Paul B. Cutler to form a then-newly reunited iteration of The Dream Syndicate that recorded two full-length studio albums — 1986’s Cutler-produced Out of the Grey and 1988’s Elliot Mazer-produced Ghost Stories. The band recorded a live album Live at Raji‘s which was recorded in 1988 before the release of Ghost Stories but released afterward.

The band broke up in 1989 — and a batch of previously unreleased material was released that included 3½ (The Lost Tapes: 1985-1988), a compilation of studio sessions and The Day Before Wine and Roses, a live KPFK radio session, recorded just before the release of the band’s applauded debut album were released.  After the breakup, Walton went on to play bass in the Continental Drifters while Wynn went on to become an acclaimed singer/songwriter and solo artist with a reputation or restlessly exploring a variety of different styles — and leading a number of different projects including Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3, The Baseball Project and others.

Wynn led a reunited Dream Syndicate to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their full-length debut that featured Walton, Duck and Jason Victor, Wynn’s longtime Steve Wynn and The Miracle 3 guitarist at a festival appearance at 2012’s Festival BAM in Barcelona Spain. The reunited band went on to play a handful of other live sets, including two 2013 Paisley Underground reunion shows that included The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade. September 2014 saw the band playing a handful of shows in which they played their first two albums in their complete entirety — and those shows marked the band’s first shows in the Southeast in almost 30 years.  Between their first reunion show and 2017, the band played more than 50 shows.

Anti-Records released the band’s fifth full-length album How Did I Find Myself Here in 2017. The album which featured a lineup of Wynn, Walton, Duck and Victor with keyboardist Chris Cacavas was recorded at Montrose Studios — and notably the album’s final track “Kendra’s Dream” featured vocals and lyrics from Kendra Smith.  Building upon the growing attention around the reunited band, the members of The Dream Syndicate recorded three songs, which were included on the compilation 3 x 4, a collection of tracks that featured new material from their Paisley Underground counterparts, The Bangles, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade with each of the four bands covering songs by the other bands.

Slated for a May 3, 2019 release through Anti-Records, the John Agnello and The Dream Syndicate co-produced These Times will be the second full-length studio album since the band reunited, and the album’s material is reportedly a subtle yet noticeable departure for the band sonically. “When I was writing the songs for the new album I was pretty obsessed with Donuts by J-Dilla,” lead singer and songwriter Steve Wynn explained. “I loved the way that he approached record making as a DJ, a crate-digger, a music fan wanting to lay out all of his favorite music, twist and turn the results until he made them into his own. I was messing around with step sequencers, drum machines, loops—anything to take me out of my usual way of writing and try to feel as though I was working on a compilation rather than ‘more of the same.’ You might not automatically put The Dream Syndicate and J-Dilla in the same sentence, but I hear that album when I hear our new one.” Additionally, Wynn also changed up his lyric writing process for the album — instead of the song’s sound being dictated by previously written lyrics, he wrote all the material’s lyrics after the band finished instrumental tracking, so that the lyrics were influenced by the sounds.

The album’s first single was the atmospheric and surrealist dream, “Black Light,” a track built around a looped arpeggiated key and congo sequence, shimmering bursts of guitar, and a motorik groove comprised of a propulsive and sinuous bass line and a backing vocal section that sings “aaah” while Wynn’s vocals sing surrealistic and symbolic lyrics about how the night exposes our darkest and deepest inhibitions and fears.  These Times’ second and latest single “Put Some Miles On” continues a on a somewhat similar vein as its immediate predecessor as it’s centered around a chugging, motorik groove, blasts of feedback driven guitar, twinkling synths and Wynn’s languid, speak-singing vocals singing surrealist lyrics with a profound double meaning — after all, the song and its title refers to getting older while on the road and actually playing the work of Miles Davis. 

“This is our third video directed by David Dalglish, a Scotsman who is gradually becoming the official visual interpreter of our music,” the band’s Steve Wynn explains in press notes. “And I love the way he captured the triple meaning of “Put Some Miles On”—actual road miles logged, the ensuing experience and wisdom of the turning of the calendar pages and, of course, our love of Miles Davis himself. It’s truly a zig zag marathon!”

New Video: Warbly Jets’ Propaganda-Fueled Visuals for Kasabian-like Single

With the release of their self-titled, full-length debut the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock act Warbly Jets, comprised of Samuel Shea, Julien O’neill, and Dan Gerbang quickly emerged into the national and international scene; in fact, their critically applauded effort eventually resulted in the band opening for Liam Gallagher and making three separate world tours to support it.

After a whirlwind year, the members of the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio returned to the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprised their self-recorded, self-produced EP Propaganda. Thematically speaking, the material explores our modern, globalized, algorithm-ruled, data-based society, where the lines between what’s public and private are frequently blurred beyond recognition and where the hive mind masquerades as marketable individualism with Big Brother being welcomed with open arms in the name of convenience. If we’re truly thinking and feeling humans, we should constantly ask ourselves a few questions: What’s real human connection? How easily are we (and our lives, ideas and souls) bought and sold? Can we cut through the fluff, noise and bullshit we’re relentlessly fed? Does anyone care anymore? Does music fit into it at all? Does music mean anything anymore? 

As the band’s multi-instrumentalist Julien O’neill says in press notes. “‘Propaganda’ is a term as much as it’s a cultural ethos that’s been widely accepted. Anything from advertisement to self-aggrandizement qualifies.From social media, push notifications, targeted ads—we’ve openly elected to carry around miniature billboards, playing our part under the promising guise of a sense of ‘connection.’ We feel empty without it.” The band’s Samuel Shea adds, “On this new collection of songs, we made an effort to set no particular stylistic boundaries. I believe it’s extremely important to make drastic differences as you transition through phases. That was something that Julien [O’neill] and I talked about from the conception of this band. I hope you always hear what you’re not expecting when you listen to a new release from us.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about EP single “Alive,” and as you may recall. the single, which was featured in the opening scene of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 found the band drawing from classic rock, psych rock, and Brit Pop as it was full of enormous power chords fed through distortion pedals, rousingly anthemic hooks and pummeling drums — and the whole affair was delivered with the swaggering self-assuredness of road-tested old pros. Interestingly, EP title track “Propaganda” is a bit more of a straightforward Brit Pop-influenced affair, sounding as though it were influenced by early Kasabian with the song being centered by thundering and thumping beats, angular and propulsive bass lines, layers upon layers of synths and distorted electronics and guitars, found sounds and other samples, delivered with an arena rock swagger. 

Directed by Samuel Richard, the recently released video for “Propaganda” consists of wood and quickly edited found footage centered around pain, over-saturation, confusion and chaos, as well as propaganda footage. It’s trippy but yet feels as bizarre and as fucked up as our current sociopolitical moment. As the band’s Samuel Shea says in press nots about the video, “The era of real life human interaction is heading for a swift end. We experience life through likes, comments, and products ignoring the chaos and suffering around us. Our culture at large has been weaponized by propaganda. We exist like robots inside of a program we ourselves created.” Adds the video’s director, Samuel Richard “The idea behind the visual direction of this song is to show a side of feeling overwhelmed. There’s lots of fast changes showing pain and over-saturation. The Propaganda EP is primarily sample based, so the idea was to match the visuals to what the music is also doing. There’s lots of sample footage of propaganda and pain. I also shot super 8 footage of people on the streets of Los Angeles, showing different sides of life. My goal was to shine a light on the extreme suffering and overindulgence.”

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada-born, Seattle, WA-based Jordan Cook (vocals, guitar) can trace the origins of his music career to when he was 15, playing with a blues rock trio, which performed at Montreux Jazz Festival. After recording a full-length album under his own name, Seven Deadly Sins, Cook began recording in Memphis with Matt Chamberlain and Soundgarden‘s Ben Shepherd; but around 2012 Cook relocated to Seattle, where he adopted the moniker Reignwolf. When Cook played his first official show as Reignwolf, he was accompanied by Joseph Braley (drums) and S. J. Kardash (bass).
Since their formation, the band has developed a reputation for a raw sound paired with a high energy live show that has earned them a devoted following, as well as appearances at Coachella, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Glastonbury and Download and opening slots for the likes of Black Sabbath and Pixies. Following on the heels of a 34 date Fall 2018 North American tour, the Seattle-based trio’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated full-length debut Hear Me Out is slated for a March 1, 2019 release.

Hear Me Out‘s first single is the swaggering “Black and Red.” Co-written by Jordan Cook and Aqualung’s Matt Hales, the song is centered around enormous, arena rock friendly blues power chords, thundering drums, an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure and rousingly anthemic hooks. The song reveals (and captures) a band that’s ready to kick ass, take names, wreck stages and destroy eardrums.

The band will be touring throughout March and the tour includes two New York area dates — March 9, 2019 at Mercury Lounge and March 10, 2019 at Baby’s All Right. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour Dates

FRIDAY, MARCH 1ST – SEATTLE, WA @ THE SUNSET

MONDAY, MARCH 4TH – LOS ANGELES @ MOROCCAN LOUNGE

THURSDAY, MARCH 7TH – CHICAGO, IL @ COBRA LOUNGE

SATURDAY, MARCH 9TH – NEW YORK, NY @ MERCURY LOUNGE

SUNDAY, MARCH 10TH – BROOKLYN, NY @ BABY’S ALL RIGHT

TUESDAY, MARCH 12TH – TORONTO, ON @ DRAKE UNDERGROUND

THURSDAY, MARCH 14TH – SATURDAY, MARCH 16TH – AUSTIN, TX @ SXSW

New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”

New Video: Los Angeles’ Warbly Jets Release An Enormous Power Chord-Based Brit Pop-Inspired Single

With the release of their self-titled, full-length debut the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock act Warbly Jets, comprised of Samuel Shea, Julien O’neill, and Dan Gerbang quickly emerged into the national and international scene; in fact, their critically applauded effort found the band opening for Liam Gallagher and making three separate world tours to support it.

After a whirlwind year, the members of the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio returned to the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their self-recorded, self-produced, recently released EP, Propaganda. As the band’s frontman Samuel Shea says about the EP in press notes, “On this new collection of songs, we made an effort to set no particular stylistic boundaries. I believe it’s extremely important to make drastic differences as you transition through phases. That was something that Julien [O’neill] and I talked about from the conception of this band. I hope you always hear what you’re not expecting when you listen to a new release from us.”

Thematically speaking, the material explores our modern, globalized, algorithm-ruled, data-based society, where the lines between what’s public and private are frequently blurred beyond recognization — and where the hive mind masquerades as marketable individualism with Big Brother being welcomed with open arms in the name of convenience. And as a result, we should constantly ask ourselves a few questions: what’s human connection? How easily are we (and our lives, ideas and souls) bought and sold? Can we cut through the noise and bullshit? Does anyone care? Does music fit into it at all? As the band’s multi-instrumentalist Julien O’neill adds “‘Propaganda’ is a term as much as it’s a cultural ethos that’s been widely accepted. Anything from advertisement to self-aggrandizement qualifies.From social media, push notifications, targeted ads—we’ve openly elected to carry around miniature billboards, playing our part under the promising guise of a sense of ‘connection.’ We feel empty without it.”

Building upon last year’s success, Propaganda’s latest single “Alive” was featured in the opening scene of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4. But in terms of this site, the track finds the band drawing from classic rock, psych rock, and Brit Pop — or in other words: enormous power chords fed through distortion pedals, rousingly anthemic hooks and pummeling drums delivered with the swaggering self-assuredness of road-tested old pros. Directed by Steven Johnson, the recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — the band performing the song in the studio with some trippy special effects.