Tag: NPR

Perhaps best known as a co-founding member and lead guitarist of the Brooklyn-based indie rock act Big Thief, Buck Meek is finally stepping out on his own with his highly-anticipated self-titled, full-length debut, which is slated for a May 18, 2018 release through Austin, TX-based label Keeled Scales. Reportedly, Meek’s solo debut is extension of his work and role in Big Thief, but it can also be seen as being a revealing look at his primary act’s hidden talent. And so far, this year has been a breakthrough year for Meek as he’s received attention from NPR and American Songwriter and has toured with Margaret Glaspy, Twain and others.

“Maybe” the third and latest single off Meek’s self-titled debut is a shuffling and shambling song that draws from rock and country in a way that may remind some of Let It Be-era Beatles (think of “Get Back” “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “One After 909“), Harry Nilsson (think of “Jump Into The Fire“)and others but with a straight out of left field take, thanks to a song structure that eschews the traditional chorus, verse chorus format while being held together with razor sharp hooks and a mischievously free flowing vibe. The song may have been released in 1972, 1982, 2002, 2012 or 2018 but no matter what, there’s a deliberate attention to craft that’s charming.

Meek will be touring to support the album with a backing band and the tour will include a June 8, 2018 stop at Rough Trade. Check out the tour dates below.

Rough
TOUR DATES
May 30 | Kerrville, TX at Kerrville Folk Festival
June 07 | Allston, MA at Great Scott
June 08 | Brooklyn, NY at Rough Trade
June 09 | Washington, DC at Songbyrd
June 10 | Durham, NC at The Pinhook
June 12 | Nashville, TN at The High Watt
June 13 | Bloomington, IN at The Bishop
June 14 | Chicago, IL at Schuba’s
June 15 | Millvale, PA at The Funhouse
June 16 | Philadelphia, PA at Johnny Brenda’s
June 7-16 with Sam Evian
June 7 & 8 also with Katie Von Schleicher
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New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Wax Idol Release an Anthemic Power Ballad

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based indie rock act Wax Idols, and as you may recall that after 2013’s critically applauded album Discipline + Desire, the band went on hiatus as the band’s founding member, primary songwriter and frontperson Hether Fortune joined the equally acclaimed punk rock band and JOVM mainstays  White Lung. That was followed by a heartbreaking and life-altering divorce, which informed much of the material on the band’s critically applauded, third album, 2016’s American Tragic.

Informed by the one of the saddest and most difficult experiences of Fortune’s life, as Fortune explained that American Tragic wasn’t “. . .a sad album.The whole spectrum of grief is represented here — shock, pain, anger, loneliness, and then finding a way to work through all of that, and not only survive, and thrive. That’s what I was going through. I was kind of trying to save myself.” Fortune wrote and recorded every note and every single chord on the album, and as a result, it gives the album a deeply personal vision and point of view in which the heartbreak and grief at the core of the album is visceral and haunting — especially if you’ve ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term romantic relationship, as it evokes the lingering ghosts and resentments, the push and pull of longing, confusion and hatred towards that person, who may well never be in your life again; but it’s all underpinned by the recognition that if you’ve known love, you may know it again and again and again, and that somehow you’ll pick up most of the pieces and move forward. And while thematically being among the most soberING and thoughtful material Fortune has written, the material sonically is reminiscent of Too True-era Dum Dum Girls, Concrete Blonde, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others.

Slated for a May 16, 2018 release through Etruscan Gold Records, Wax Idols long-anticipated forth Monte Vallier-produced album Happy Ending finds the band heading towards new thematic territory as the album finds the band exploring the abstraction and finality of death from philosophical, political and personal perspectives, continuing on the deeply personal tone and vibe of their critically applauded American Tragic. Additionally, the album finds the band continuing onward after a series of lineup changes with the band’s founding member and primary songwriter Fortune backed by Peter Lightning (guitar, bass, organ, piano), Rachel Travers (drums) and Marisa Prieto (bass, backing vocals) and The Mallard’s Greer McGettrick joining the band after the album was recorded. 

Now, as you may recall Happy Ending’s first single “Scream” was a rousingly anthemic, 80s-inspired post punk track with with a deeply personal, idiosyncratic vision, complete with some impressive guitar pyrotechnics that make the song seem as though the band drawing influence from Boy and October-era U2.  As Fortune told NPR, “Finding inspiration in one of my favorite poems, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas, I used this song as a vehicle to meditate on the concept of free will & how one could choose to exercise it even at the brink of death.” She adds, “The protagonist is someone who is young, madly in love AND desperately wants to live — though they know that they will not. They have chosen to use their final seconds, the only breath in their lungs, to scream out the name of the one that they love.” Interestingly, the album’s latest single  the mid tempo power ballad, “Crashing” continues on a similar vein as its predecessor as it’s a swooning and urgent ballad centered around twinkling piano, propulsive drumming and an anthemic hook with some gorgeous guitar work. Much like Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” and others, “Crashing” is the sort of song you can envision earnestly shouting along with a beer held aloft, with the knowledge of life’s fleeting nature.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Wax Idols Return with an Anthemic Single from Forthcoming New Album Inspired by Dylan Thomas’ Famed Poem

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  Oakland, CA-based indie rock act Wax Idols, and as you may recall that after 2013’s critically applauded album Discipline + Desire, the band went on hiatus as the band’s founding member, primary songwriter and frontperson Hether Fortune joined the equally acclaimed punk rock band and JOVM mainstays  White Lung. That was followed by a heartbreaking and life-altering divorce, which informed much of the material on the band’s critically applauded, third album, 2016’s American Tragic.

Informed by the one of the saddest and most difficult experiences of Fortune’s life, as Fortune explained that American Tragic wasn’t “. . .a sad album.The whole spectrum of grief is represented here — shock, pain, anger, loneliness, and then finding a way to work through all of that, and not only survive, and thrive. That’s what I was going through. I was kind of trying to save myself.” 

Fortune wrote and recorded every note and every single chord on the album, and as a result, it gives the album a deeply personal vision and point of view in which the heartbreak and grief at the core of the album is visceral and haunting — especially if you’ve ever experienced the dissolution of a long-term romantic relationship, as it evokes the lingering ghosts and resentments, the push and pull of longing, confusion and hatred towards that person, who may well never be in your life again; but it’s all underpinned by the recognition that if you’ve known love, you may know it again and again and again, and that somehow you’ll pick up most of the pieces and move forward. And while thematically being among the most sober and thoughtful material Fortune has written, the material sonically is reminiscent of Too True-era Dum Dum Girls, Concrete Blonde, Siouxsie and the Banshees and others.

Slated for a May 16, 2018 release through Etruscan Gold Records, Wax Idols long-anticipated forth Monte Vallier-produced album Happy Ending finds the band charting new territory thematically with band exploring the abstraction and finality of death from philosophical, political and personal perspectives, in some way, continuing on the deeply personal tone and vibe American Tragic. Along with that, the album finds the band continuing onward after a series of lineup changes with Fortune being backed by Peter Lightning (guitar, bass, organ, piano), Rachel Travers (drums) and Marisa Prieto (bass, backing vocals) — although Greer McGettrick, best known for being in The Mallard as the band’s newest member, joining the band after the material was finished. 

Despite the lineup changes, the Happy Ending’s first single “Scream” is an incredibly urgent track that will further the band’s reputation for crafting rousingly anthemic. 
80s-inspired post-punk  with a deeply personal, idiosyncratic vision, complete with some impressive guitar pyrotechnics that make the song seem as though the band were gently nodding at Boy and October-era U2.  As Fortune told NPR, “Finding inspiration in one of my favorite poems, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Dylan Thomas, I used this song as a vehicle to meditate on the concept of free will & how one could choose to exercise it even at the brink of death.” She adds, “The protagonist is someone who is young, madly in love AND desperately wants to live — though they know that they will not. They have chosen to use their final seconds, the only breath in their lungs, to scream out the name of the one that they love.”

Currently comprised of founding members  and primary songwriters Chuck Cleaver (vocals, guitar), known for being a member of Ass Ponys  and Lisa Walker (vocals, guitar), along with Mark Messerly (bass, keys), John Erhardt (pedal steel, guitar), and Joe Klug (drums), the Cincinnati, OH-based shoegaze quintet Wussy can trace their origins back to 2001 when its founding duo began playing together as a dare during a brief run of solo Cleaver shows. The first show they played together while being largely unplanned went without incident, so they agreed that they should continue as a fully fleshed band. Cleaver and Walker recruited Dawn Burman (drums) and Messerly in 2002 And as a quartet, Wussy released three full-length albums and a critically applauded EP that received praise from a number of major media outlets including Rolling StoneSPINVillage Voice, NPRThe Washington PostUncut and the legendary Robert Christgau, who placed the Cincinnati act’s first two efforts Funeral Dress and Left for Dead on his best of the decade list and their third, self-titled release on his best of 2009 list.

After receiving critical success, the band went through a series of lineup changes, as Burman left the band and was replaced with Cincinnati music scene Joe Klug joined the band for Attica! and Forever Sounds. The band’s newest member John Erhardt has helped evolve the band’s sound, adding a twangy psychedelic vibe as they’ve expanded their profile with recorded sessions for BBC 6 Music and KEXP, appearances at SXSW and CMJ, touring with the likes of The Afghan Whigs, and have shared stages with Yo La Tengo, The Breeders, Best Coast, Mudhoney, Okkervil River, The Mekons, COME, Wreckless Eric and Jeffrey Lewis.

Wussy’s forthcoming seventh studio What Heaven Is Like is slated for  May 18, 2018 release through Damnably Records in Europe and Shake It! Records in the States, and the album’s latest single “Gloria” is reportedly inspired by the protagonist of Fargo‘s Season 3, Gloria Burgle, played by Carrie Coon — but in a much larger sense, the song is meant to paint a portrait of an inscrutable everywoman, who dares to stand up to an omnipresent, almost supernatural, villain. As the band’s Lisa Walker explains in press notes, “This season of Fargo was so bleak and unrelenting. The V.M. Varga character seemed like an undefeatable entity, something between a robber baron and whoever’s secretly watching you from the other side of your screen in real-time. Gloria’s purity of heart made her this bright shining light.. the only person actually impervious to the enemy. But even beyond that, I was very inspired this year by several women who dared to put everything on the line, even their own lives, to stand up for what is right. I tried to show my respect for this great courage in the re-telling of Gloria’s story.” Interestingly, the band pairs this narrative story within a song that manages to be cinematic yet intimate while nodding at Americana and early 90s Pearl Jam — i.e., “Tremor Christ,” off Vitalogy and so on.

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Screaming Females Return with One of Their Most Anthemic Radio Friendly Singles to Date

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the  New Brunswick, NJ-based JOVM mainstays Screaming Females. Comprised of Marissa Paternoster (guitar, vocals), King Mike (bass) and Jared Dougherty (drums), the trio cut their teeth playing their hometown’s renowned all-ages basement, punk rock scene; however, with the release of  2012’s Steve Albini-engineered Ugly, 2014’s forceful and raw live album, Live from the Hideout and 2015’s Matt Bayles-produced Rose Mountain, the Central New Jersey-based band received wider exposure from NPR, Last Call with Carson Daly and MTV.  Adding to a growing profile, the members of Screaming Females have toured with a number of internationally and nationally known acts including Garbage, Throwing Muses, Dinosaur, Jr., The Dead Weather, Arctic Monkeys, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, JEFF the Brotherhood, Little Lungs, Cheeky, The Ergs, Shellsshag and others.

2015’s Rose Mountain was a decided change in songwriting and recording approach, with the band writing arguably some of the most concise, melodic and accessible material they’ve released, while retaining the blazing guitar work and muscular insistence of their previously recorded work. Up until last year, a couple of years had passed since they had released new material, and “Black Moon,” the first single off their recently released All At Once not only continues their ongoing collaboration with Matt Bayles, it also reveals a band that’s restlessly experimenting with their songwriting approach and song; in the case of “Black Moon,” there’s a continued attention on a forceful conciseness but a greater attention to crafting razor sharp hooks while thematically, Paternoster meshes the metaphor of a post apocalyptic earth with the universal experience of a relationship that has ended in a rather embittering, frustrating and demoralizing fashion.

Interestingly, with All At Once, the band reportedly set out set out to write an album in the spirit of a salon-style gallery show, where the larger pieces provide an eye-level focal point to a galaxy or smaller works — and as a result of a more expansive thematic reach, the members of the band openly and decidedly focused on experimentation with arrangements and song structure to evoke the energy and spontaneity of their live sets. As the band’s Mike Dougherty explains of their motivation “When you’ve been a band for 12 or 13 years, the resources can dry and you just go back to what feels comfortable. The other option is that you develop stuff that a younger band would not have been able to do.”

You might recall that All At Once’s first official single “Glass House” found the band embracing a simplicity — with Paternoster playing two relatively simple riffs in a 90s grunge rock structure paired with some incredibly melodic vocals. “A song like ‘Glass House’ is something we knew we were capable of, but it took a while to fully embrace,” Paternoster says in press notes. “It’s something very simple — just bass, drums and two simple riffs. In the past, I might have insisted on adding more. Practicing self-restraint is something I have consciously been trying to do.” The album’s second official single, “I’ll Make You Sorry” may be one of the more decidedly straightforward, arena rock friendly songs they’ve released to date, bolstered by Paternoster’s powerhouse vocals. While reminding the listener that she may be small but that she roars with a mighty, oceanic force.

Directed by Lance Bangs, the recently released video features the band performing the song in an abandoned loft space with the band’s Paternoster beginning the video laying on the floor or in rubble, before seeing the entire band shred.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays WINDHAND Return with a Lysergic and Epic Doom-Laden Dirge

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three years or so of its almost eight-year history, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring the Richmond, Virginia-based doom metal band WINDHAND. Currently comprised of Dorthia Cottrell (vocals), Garrett Morris (guitar), Parker Chandler (bass) and Ryan Wolfe (drums), the Northern Virginia-based metal act formed back in 2009 and with the 2010 release of a self-recorded two track CD, the band quickly garnered comparisons to Electric Wizard, The Devil’s Blood and Black Sabbath.  Building upon a growing profile, their 2012 self-titled debut became an underground hit and sold out multiple vinyl pressings within a few months.

2013 saw WINDHAND sign to Relapse Records, before collaborating with Richmond, VA-based band Cough on a split single “Reflection of the Negative,” which was released to critical praise from the likes of Pitchfork and others. WINDHAND promptly followed that up with the release of their critically applauded sophomore effort Soma, an effort that received praise from Stereogum, Spin, LA Weekly, Revolver, Invisible Oranges, MetalSucks, Metal Injection, Rolling Stone and NPR — with Pitchfork naming the album as one of the third best metal releases of the year. Adding to a breakthrough year, the members of the Richmond, VA-based doom metal band had spent the bulk of 2013 and 2014 touring North America, the European Union, and Australia with Sleep, High on Fire, Dead Meadow and Kvelertak, as well as the festival circuit, wth appearances at Roadburn, SXSW, Scion Rock Fest, Day of the Shred and Maryland Deathfest. They closed out a breakthrough and breakneck period with a critically praised split album,in which they collaborated with Swedish doom metal act Salem’s Pot.

2015’s Jack Endino-produced, third full-length album, Grief’s Internal Flower featured album singles Crypt Key.” and “Two Urns” which unsurprisingly managed to further cement their reputation for crafting sludgy, murky, punishing and downtempo dirges.  At the end of last year, the members of the band announced that they would be releasing a split album with fellow Virginians Satan’s Satyrs, which Relapse Records will release on Friday, and as you may recall, the album’s first single “Old Evil” was a mosh pit worthy sound that featured some impressive psych rock meets metal god guitar work and an anthemic hook that belies the lurking evil within the song. The split album’s latest single “Three Sisters” is an epic, slow-burning and lysergic dirge with a scorching and smoking guitar line, explosive burst of organ and wobbling bass over which Cottrell’s vocals ethereally float over, like a feverish dream-like portent.

New Video: Introducing the Hypnotic Grooves and Visuals of Niamey, Niger’s Tal National

Currently composed of Almeida (guitar), Babaye (guitar), Tafa (guitar), Massaoudo (vocals), Souleymane (vocals), Maloumba (vocals), Seidou (vocals), Dalik (vocals), Yac Tal (bass), Essa (bass), Omar (drums), Souleymane (drums), Aboullay (drums), Sgt. Maty (drums, vocals), the Niamey, Niger-based collective Tal National features a rotating cast of collaborators that represents their homeland’s diverse array of cultures with members from their homeland’s Songhai, Fulani, Hausa and Tuareg populations. Interestingly, the collective have developed a reputation for joyous and hypnotic, West African guitar music that draws from the diverse musical cultures of Niger as their work possesses elements of highlife, Afrobeat, kora, Tuareg blues, Malian griot, Hausa rolling 12/8 rhythms and so on, as well as American psych rock delivered with virtuoso precision and unrelenting energy.

The band’s 2013 debut effort was released through FatCat Records to critical acclaim from the likes of The New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent, Mojo, Vice and The Wire, with frenetic live sessions on NPR, KEXP and WBEZ. Building upon a growing international profile, the band received praise from the likes of Pitchfork, Afropop Worldwide, The Fader, The Quietus, The Boston Globe and NPR.

Released last Friday, Tantabara, Tal National’s third album continues their ongoing collaboration with Chicago, IL-based engineer Jamie Carter on production and engineering duties, and the album which was recorded in the collective’s hometown of Niamey, Niger. Unsurprisingly, the album find the collective furthering their expressed mission of making a global audience dance to their hypnotic grooves, all while focusing on capturing the energy and vibe of their live sound to tape. Much like their counterparts, the collective have managed to create a huge sound of extremely limited resources, which frequently means that the members of the collective record in a remote, recording rid in a dusty, makeshift studio, working with minimal recording equipment and instruments on the verge of disrepair. Interestingly, the collective credits their songwriting and recording process to adding to their overall communal spirit, with opening their home up as a studio as a way for everyone within the group to be involved; in fact, Tantabara’s 8 tracks features 8 different vocalists — 7 of whom are full-time members.
 
Additionally, the album finds the collective looking back on a busy and influential period of time spent honing their live and recorded sound drawing from a number of Stateside tours, live sets at WOMAD Festival and Roskilde Festival and their legendary 5 hour plus live shows at their Niamey nightclub.
 
Tantabara’s latest single “Akokas,” much like the bulk of their work is centered around a tight danceable yet trance-like groove, some blistering and virtuoso guitar work and complex polyrhythm but at its core is much-needed celebration of diversity, acceptance and tolerance — and along with that, two larger, universal messages: that music is a powerful, unifying force and that there’s love, freedom, acceptance on the dance floor, if you let go of your preconceived notions and let the moment.
 
The recently released video for “Akokas” features wild and psychedelic visuals of the band’s members performing the song, capturing the band’s ebullient and euphoric spirit and the song’s trippy grooves.

With the release of their politically charged, fourth, full-length album Running Out of Love, the Stockholm, Sweden-based pop duo The Radio Dept., comprised of Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg earned praise from the likes of NPR, PitchforkThe Atlantic and others. Building upon a growing profile, the Swedish pop duo recently released their latest single, the jangling and yearning “Your True Name,” which the band noting that the “song is about faith in a way, not divine but utopian, believing in something that will probably never be. And it’s about falling short, sometimes with your goal just barely out of reach.” As a result, the song manages to be simultaneously optimistic yet bittersweet  — all while reminding us that life is often about hoping for something, trying to achieve it, getting knocked down and getting back up to go for it again. (Interestingly, the single is the first release from the band’s own label, Just So!)

The members of The Radio Dept. will be embarking on a Stateside tour that begins on January 29, 2018 in Los Angeles and includes a February 3, 2018 stop at Warsaw. Check out the tour dates below.

 

Tour Dates

1/29: Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre

1/30: San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore

2/1: Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall

2/2: Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre

2/3: Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw

2/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer