Tag: New Audio

New Audio: Introducing the Arena Rock Friendly Blues Rock of The Blue Stones

Comprised of high school friends Tarek Jafer (vocals, guitar) and Justin Tessier (drums, percussion, backing vocals), the up-and-coming alt rock duo The Blue Stones can trace their origins to when the duo, who had attended college together decided that they should start a musical project together. While being among an increasing number of blues-tinged rock duos including The Black Keys, The White Stripes, Royal Blood, and others, the duo cite Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, The Stooges, MC5, Alice Cooper, MUTEMATH, My Morning Jacket, Jay-Z, Kanye West, J. Cole, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and B.B. King as influences on their overall sound and aesthetic.

Jafar and Tessier spent seven years honing and perfecting their sound, during which they wrote and recorded an independently released EP. As the duo’s Tarek Jafar says in press notes, “It takes a lot to be a success. You have to stay proud and focused.” Building upon several years of hard work and dedication, the duo’s full-length debut Black Holes is slated for an October 26, 2018 release — and the album, which will feature “Rolling With The Punches,” a single that has received placements on USA Network’s Suits, Showtime’s Shameless and ESPN’s Monday Night Football and the attention-grabbing lead single “Black Holes,” which has amassed 8 million streams, will further cement the duo’s growing profile for  playing blues rock that as the duo’s Justin Tessier says is “lean, raw, tight, without a wasted note.” Thematically, the album as Jafar explains is “. . . about being a young adult and entering the real world from a sheltered environment, like college. Feeling torn between taking the secure path or doing something that might be riskier but you’re passionate about . . . following what you love as opposed to sticking to the straight and narrow.”

Over course of the year playing across the national festival circuit with stops at Carolina Rebellion with MUSE and Queens of the Stone Age, Northern Invasion, Winnetka Music Festival and Bonnaroo Festival. Interestingly, Black Holes’ third and latest single is the sultry and anthemic “Be My Fire,” which sonically is indebted to The Black Keys, Jimi Hendrix, North Mississippi All Stars as its built around enormous power chords, thundering drumming and arena rock friendly hooks — but while being centered around an urgent and plaintive yearning for someone, just out of reach. The song possesses a compelling name-taking and ass-kicking, swaggering bombast underpinned with a sincerity and earnestness. 

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elegant slims is a rather mysterious, up-and-coming electro pop artist, who quickly received attention with the release of her critically applauded debut single “Not Human.” a track that drew comparisons to the likes of Grimes, The Knife and Ladytron among others — and for collaborating with emerging visual artists to produce the artwork for her material. Her second and latest single “Hemisphere” is an eerie and atmospheric bit of synth pop centered around elegant slims’ ethereal vocals, fuzzy and arpeggiated synths, some industrial clang and clatter and a soaring hook that while recalling Depeche Mode and others manages to possess a cinematic air.

Continuing her collaboration with emerging visual artists, elegant slims teamed up with Norwegian painter Linda Syvestan, who created artwork that’s stylistically reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

 

New Audio: Acclaimed Act Thrice Releases An Anthemic Prog Rock-like Single

Comprised of founding members Dustin Kensrue (vocals, guitar) and Teppei Teranishi (guitar) with siblings Eddie Breckenridge (bass) and Riley Breckenridge (drums), the Irvine, CA-based rock band Thrice can trace their origins to its founding members meeting in high school and playing in a local band Chapter 11. When it came to starting their own project, Kensrue and Teranishi recruited Teranishi’s skate park buddy Eddie Breckenridge to play bass, and Breckenridge then brought his brother Riley to play drums, completing the band’s lineup. As the story goes, before their first show they realized that they needed name, and hard-pressed, they decided on going with Thrice, an inside joke between the bandmembers out of desperation. Although they had intended the name to be a temporary one, they began to gain fans and people started to associate them with it, so they were forced to stay with it.

In 1999, the band released the First Impressions EP, which was recorded during a twos-day session at A-Room Studios with Brian Tochilin. Only 1,000 copies were made and the individual bandmembers sold them out of their cars. Working with Death by Stereo’s Paul Miner, the Irvine, CA-based quartet recorded 12 tracks, which eventually became their 2000 full-length debut Identity Crisis, which was released through Greenflag Records. A portion of the album’s proceeds were donated to Crittenton Services for Children and Family, and with growing local buzz, the quartet caught the interest of Hopeless/Sub City’s Louis Posen, who eventually signed the band, and reissued Identity Crisis. To support the album the band toured with the likes of Samiam, Midtown and Hot Rod Circuit.

February 2002 saw the release of the band’s Brian McTernan-produced Hopeless/Sub City debut, The Illusion of Safety. Much like its predecessor, the band donated a portion of the album’s proceeds to a non-profit youth shelter in South Central Los Angeles, A Place Called Home, with the label matching all donations. The album received generally positive reviews and after tours opening for Further Seems Forever and Face to Face, followed by their first headlining tour, Thrice won the attention of several major labels, including Island Records, who signed the band, after agreeing to match the band’s charitable donations in the same fashion as Hopeless/Sub City. After signing with Island Records, the band toured with Hot Water Music and Coheed and Cambria before returning to the studio.

Interestingly with the release of 2002’s Illusion of Safety and 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance, the band developed a reputation for a fast and punishing math rock-like sound centered around heavily distorted power chords, rapid time signature changes; however, with 2005’s Vheissu, the members of Thrice began incorporating synths, electronic beats and a much more experimental approach to their songwriting that continued through 2007 and 2008 with the release of The Alchemy Index, two albums that actually consisted of a 4-part, 24 song cycle, with each of the four 6-song EPs featuring significantly different styles based on the classical elements of fire, water, air and earth both lyrically and musically. 2009’s Beggars and 2011’s Major/Minor found the band continuing to refine their experimentation and exploration of their sound; but after the release of Major/Minor, Thrice announced a final tour and a hiatus.

In 2015, Kensrue and Teranishi decided to reform the band, and by the following year, they released their first album in four years, 2016’s To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere.  Slated for a September 14, 2018 release through Epitaph Records, the band’s tenth full-length album Palms is their second post-reunion album, and the album which was co-produced by the band and Eric Palmquist reportedly finds the band’s sound encompassing everything from post-hardcore to piano-driven ballads, making it arguably the most sonically expansive album of their careers to date. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the prog rock-like mid-tempo “Only Us” is centered around pulsating synths, enormous power chord-led guitar riffs, an arena rock friendly hook and Kensrue’s plaintive and earnest vocals. As the band’s Dusin Kensrue explains in press notes. “‘Only Us’ came from thinking about how easily we’re so divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’ when really we have an inherent ability to care for those in our group, and the parameters for who falls into that group are extremely flexible. It’s about how the things that we think separate us are actually inconsequential, and if we could broaden the idea of ‘us’ to include all people, it would help us build a more loving and civil society. “

Earlier this summer,  I wrote about the Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan, and as you may recall, the band has 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 emigrated from South America. And with the the release of their furious and incendiary full-length debut Caballo Negro, the Stockholm-based quartet quickly received attention for a sound that meshes Latin music — in particular, Latin rhythm, percussion and groove that’s part of the musical and cultural heritage of Serrano, Gonzalez, Amigo and Espiondola — with the blistering garage rock and punk of Thee Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above 1979.

Swedish Cobra, the band’s forthcoming Daniel Bengtson-produced sophomore album is slated for a September 7, 2018 release, and the album reportedly finds the band capturing their raw and raucous live sound on record — with the five bandmembers recording in the same room, 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.” Interestingly, the material balances blistering fury with an experimental sensibility with the band expanding upon their sound — partially as a result of each individual band member’s role becoming more fluid, and partially through the employment of instrumentation beyond the usual punk rock/garage rock arrangements. “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.”

Lyrically speaking, the album is purportedly the most personal they’ve written to date — and although it’s not overtly political charged, the material does focus on their day-to-day reality, from partying excessively to moments of deep introspection, with each individual member contributing idea. “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.

Swedish Cobra‘s first two singles, the furious and swirling psych punk/surf punk “Whiplash” and the mid-tempo, 90s grunge rock-inspired “Two Steps Back,” were urgent and passionate — but to me there was something sobering about the material, especially in light of a heightened age of nationalism, racism and xenophobia. Cultural exchange has inspired new takes on the familiar, new modes of thinking, new foods, new words — and more importantly, deeper empathy and understanding of our neighbors, of those men women and others from far away.  Interestingly, “Last Love Supreme,” Swedish Cobra‘s latest single is a swooning mid-tempo ballad with soaring hooks and explosive blasts of feedback that sounds — to my ears at least — as though it drew from mariachi, psych rock and garage rock simultaneously, thanks in part to a classic quiet, loud, quiet song structure.

Certainly, from the album’s first three singles, Swedish Cobra may arguably be one of the year’s most unique, passionate and downright interesting albums, and possibly one of the most necessary of any genre, because it affirms what can happen when diverse people and ideas intermingle and influence each other, and perhaps more important that we should protect and honor the immigrant and what they bring.

 

 

Comprised of singer/songwriter Aluna Francis and producer George Reid, the renowned London-based electronic music duo AlunaGeorge can trace their origins back to 2009 when Reid remixed My Toys Like Me‘s  “Sweetheart“. And since their official formation in 2012, the duo have developed a reputation for a sound that slickly meshes 90s and 00s R&B, synth pop, house music and EDM inspired by the likes of Flying Lotus, Chris Clark, Hudson Mohawke, Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah and Mariah Carey among others.

The duo has spent most of the past year working on new material — but in the meantime, AlunaGeorge’s Aluna Francis teamed up with young, up-and-coming Liverpool-based electronic music producer, songwriter and electronic music artist SG Lewis on the house music club banger “Hurting,” a track centered around shimmering arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Francis’ sultry vocals singing about the raw, sexual yearnings of the post-breakup blues. Sonically speaking, the song is a slick and modern take on the classic house music sound, while revealing a careful attention to craft.

As Lewis says of the track, “Aluna and I met for the first time in LA earlier this year, and I was talking to her about the album concept, and in particular, Dark. Aluna has been a part of so many dance records that I love, so I knew I wanted to make a club track with her! After we ate burritos and hung out, we made ‘Hurting’ super quickly – the whole process was super natural between the two of us, and she has such an amazing ear for production.”

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Initially formed as a rock musical octet, the Providence, RI-based act Arc Iris have gone through a series of lineup changes that have cemented the group’s current lineup — founding member Jocie Adams (vocals), formerly of The Low Anthem, with Tenor Miller (keyboards, samples) and Ray Belli (drums). And as a trio, 2014’s self-titled debut and 2016’s Moon Saloon, the Rhode Island-based trio quickly received national and attention for shapeshifting grooves that drew comparisons to Hiatus Kaiyote and others. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Arc Iris have opened for St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Juana Molina, and have played at  major festivals like Bonnaroo, End of the Road and the Rolling Stone Weekender. However, just as the band thought they had beaten the incredibly long odds of the contemporary music industry, the gigs and opportunities dried up.

While most bands would have been embittered and called it a day, the members of Arc Iris decided to reinvent themselves, self-releasing their sophomore effort in the US and adopting an ardent DIY approach to promotion, booking and management. Interestingly, as a result of their DIY approach, the band landed a tour opening for Kimbra and Gene Ween, performed a complete re-imagination of Joni Mitchell‘s Blue at The Kennedy Center  and have seen a growing (and deeply dedicated) international fanbase.

Slated for an October 12, 2018 release through Ba Da Bing Records, Arc Iris’ third full-length album Icon of Ego was recored at Providence’s Columbus Theater, which during the 1920s hosted silent movies and vaudeville, and the album reportedly finds the band crafting vividly expressionistic material that draws from prog rock, art rock and synth pop and meshing wildly disparate styles and elements. Interestingly, Icon of Ego‘s first single “$GNMS” is a completely reworking and re-imagining of “Money Gnomes,” off their debut — and while the original version possessed a folksy sort of looseness, the remake leans towards Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and The Yes Album-era Yes, Bjork and sci fi, as the song features thumping drumming, soaring strings, twinkling synths within a shifting and morphing song structure that reveals several different layers of novelty upon repeated listens. But along with that is a arena rock meets movie soundtrack meets theatrical bombast and swagger and it fits a band that only confidently owns its weirdness.

You can pre-order the album here: https://grapefruitrecordclub.com/products?keywords=arc+iris

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past month, I’ve managed to write a bit about the Austin, TX-based trio Exhalants, and as you may recall the band which features Steve (guitar, vocals), Bill (bass) and Tommy (drums), a member of Body Pressure, can trace its origins to the breakup of Steve and Bill’s previous band  Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes. With the inevitable downtime that happens when a band breaks up, Steve spent his free time further honing his guitar playing before recruiting his former CSSS bandmate and Tommy to complete the project’s lineup.

Exhalants’ selff-titled debut is slated for release next week, and the soon-to-be released album is largely inspired by ShellacUnwound and Cherubs, while nodding at the work of contemporaries like MelkbellyKal Marks and A Dear A Horse — or in other words, the album’s material finds the band balancing pummeling heaviness with an infectious melodicism; however, the album’s third and latest single “If Only” is a slow-burning grunge-era inspired dirge, centered around pummeling drumming, distortion-fed power chords, howled vocals and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure. Sonically, the new single seems to recall Melvins, Soundgarden, Nirvana and Alice in Chains while maintaining their uncanny sense of melody.  And from the album’s first three singles, Exhalants may be releasing one of the hardest hitting albums of the year.

 

Marius Lauber is a Viersen, Germany-born, Cologne, Germany-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, who writes records and performs with his solo recording project Roosevelt. With the release of “Elliot,” the lead single and EP title track of his 2013 debut EP Elliot, Lauber received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, who named the track one of their “Best New Tracks.” 2015 saw the release of the double A side single “Night Moves”/”Hold On,” which was released through Greco-Roman Records and further cemented his reputation for crafting  material with warm, synth-led Euro-disco sound.

Lauber’s 2016 self-titled, full-length debut featured standout tracks “Colours” and “Moving On,” and has led to tours with the likes of Hot Chip, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Crystal Fighters, as well a remixes of Glass Animals, Jax Jones, Truls, Sundara Karma, Luca Vasta and Kakkmaddafakka and others. Interestingly, Lauber’s highly-anticipated Roosevelt sophomore album Young Romance is slated for a September 28, 2018 and the album reportedly finds the German singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer moving away from the dance floor friendly sound of his previously recorded work and leaning heavily towards hook-driven guitar and synth-based pop while balancing escapism and wistfulness throughout. Thematically, the album covers the trials, tribulations and frustrations of falling in and out of love, finding some semblance of home and life on the road. As Lauber says of the writing process “I ended up progressing a lot of emotions that I felt during my youth. Faded relationships that haunted me for years, being on the road for what seemed like forever and the constant search for a place to call home.”

Young Romance‘s second and latest single “Forgive” finds the up-and-coming German collaborating with Washed Out‘s Ernest Green, who contributes his imitable, ethereal vocals to a shimmering production centered by a disco-like groove, Chic-era Nile Rodgers funk guitar, subtle hints at African percussion and an infectious hook. Sonically speaking, the song feels like it could have easily been on Green’s lush Paracosm as it manages to be swooning and earnest while retaining dance floor friendly vibes. Interestingly, the collaboration can trace its origins to when Green followed Lauber on Instagram, and as Lauber says in press notes “I was so happy to find out he was a fan. He has always been a massive influence and this track was written around the vocal stems he sent back within days — a real collaborative effort.”

 

 

 

 

Initially founded four years ago as Powwers, the Seattle, WA-based indie rock trio Wild Powwers, comprised of Lara Hilgeman (guitar, vocals), Lupe Flores (drums, vocals) and Jordan Gomes (bass), have developed a reputation for specializing in a nuanced take on the classic Pacific Northwest grunge sound as their material routinely nods at psych rock. And with the release of two critically applauded albums, 2014’s Doris Rising and 2016’s Hugs and Kisses and Other Things, both of which were followed by extensive national touring with the likes of The Fall of Troy, Kylesa, Dilly Dally,  Helms Alee and No Age, as well as festival appearances at SXSW and Savannah Stopover, the Seattle-based trio saw a rapidly expanding national profile.

Recored and mixed by Billy Anderson, who has worked with Melvins, Neurosis and Jawbreaker; and mastered by Ed Brooks, who has worked with Pearl Jam, Heart and REM, Wild Powwers’ third full-length album Skin is slated for an October 12, 2018 release through Nadine Records — and the album’s latest single ” Buff Stuff” finds the band furthering their reputation for crafting that familiar and beloved grunge rock sound, complete with enormous, arena rock friendly hooks, chugging power chords and thunderous drumming and an expansive, twisting and turning song structure; but the song to my ears also nods at The Cranberries and others, as the track is centered by Hillman’s belting, powerhouse vocals. As the band says, “‘Buff Stuff’ is about a tsunami (emotionally or literally) — a great natural force that can completely wipe the slate clean, often violently. This song is about watching the chaos and trying to avoid it all and stay above water, but eventually it gets everything.”