Tag: R.E.M.

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.”

 

 

 

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Currently comprised of founding trio Brian J. Cohen (vocals, rhythm guitar), Eric Neujahr (guitar) and Jon Engelhard (bass), along with newest member Garret Ray (drums), the Los Angeles-based indie rock quintet Line & Circle can trace their origins to when the founding trio, with original members Brian Egan (keyboards) and Nick Cisik (drums) met and formed the band in Ohio, before relocating to Southern California. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’d know that with the release of a batch of singles and their debut — all of which were released to critical praise — the band quickly exploded into the national scene.

Building upon their growing buzz and national profile, the members of the then-quintet wrote and recorded their 2015 Lewis Pesacov-produced, full-length debut Split Figure, an album that sonically found the band drawing from 1980s college rock and alt rock — album single Like A Statue,”  managed to remind early R.E.M. songs like “The One I Love,” “Talk About The Passion” and “So. Central Rain,” The Smiths‘ “This Charming Man” while thematically the single, as well as the rest of the album’s material explored “the elusive and daunting task of pursuing self-knowledge in a world, where ironically staring into screens and photographing ourselves incessantly has failed to make the process any easier.”  As the band’s Cohen added at the time.  “We are all split down the middle. There is an inner self that reflects what we think are, and an outer self that is how others really perceive us. True self-knowledge is when you become aware of each, and begin to reconcile both into one.”

After the release of their full-length debut, the band went through a lineup change before writing and recording their forthcoming EP Vicious Folly. Interestingly enough, the EP, which was essentially recorded and tracked live to tape during a single day session at Los Angeles’ Box Studios with some additional sessions in warehouses, bedrooms and home studios in the Echo Park neighborhood reportedly explores an old belief popularly held by the Romans: homo homini lupus — man is a wolf to man.  And as you may recall, EP single “Man Uncouth,” while further cementing their reputation for crafting jangling and earnest guitar pop that sounds as though it were released in 1983, managed to focus on the inner turmoil of someone desperately in love but battling their insecurities and fears, essentially becoming the portrait of a man, slowly tearing himself apart. The EP’s latest single, EP title track “Vicious Folly”  continues in a similar vein — with the song being the most R.E.M.-inspired song they’ve released in some time but whereas as the conflict in the preceding single was internal, the conflict at the heart of their latest single is much larger, with ideological differences tearing social norms and boundaries apart. Certainly, while describing our current political climate in which significant portions of the electorate can’t agree on commonly held facts and assertions, and we’re increasing split along lines of race, gender, class, etc., the song manages to point out that this is historical after all — or as an old song says “things fall apart, it’s scientific.”

 

 

A few years ago, I had written quite a bit about Los Angeles-based indie rock quintet Line & Circle. Currently comprised of founding trio Brian J. Cohen (vocals, rhythm guitar), Eric Neujahr (guitar), Jon Engelhard and newest member Garret Ray (drums), the band can trace their origins to when they all met in Ohio — before relocating to Southern California. And with the release of a batch of singles and their debut EP — all of which were released to critical praise, the band quickly exploded into the national scene.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding them, the then-quintet recorded their Lewis Pesacov-produced, debut full-length effort Split Figure, an album that thematically explored “the elusive and daunting task of pursuing self-knowledge in a world, where ironically staring into screens and photographing ourselves incessantly has failed to make the process any easier” while sonically pairing those themes with a music that the band has described as “instantaneous and propulsive.” As the band’s frontman Brian J. Cohen explained in press notes at the time, “We are all split down the middle. There is an inner self that reflects what we think are, and an outer self that is how others really perceive us. True self-knowledge is when you become aware of each, and begin to reconcile both into one.”  Now, as you may recall album single “Like A Statue,”  managed to remind me of  120 Minutes-era MTV alt rock —  early R.E.M. songs like “The One I Love,” “Talk About The Passion” and “So. Central Rain,” The Smiths‘ “This Charming Man” and the  4AD Records sound immediately come to mind.

Recorded and tracked live to tape during one day at Los Angeles’ Box Studios with additional sessions in various warehouses, bedrooms and home studios in the Echo Park section and mixed by the band’s frequent collaborator Jonathan Low, and the EP reportedly explores an old belief popularly held by the Romans: homo homini lupus — man is a wolf to man. Interestingly enough, the EP’s latest single “Man Uncouth” will further cement their growing reputation for crafting a familiar and beloved sound to anyone who listened to college radio/alternative rock back in the 80s able Rd 90s but while focusing on the inner turmoil of someone in love, battling their insecurities and fears — essentially it’s the portrait of a man, slowly tearing himself apart.

 

 

 

Founded by its creative mastermind Chris Karman, the Los Angeles, CA-based psych folk act Historian derive their name from an long-held inside joke for the members of the band had developed, based around Karman’s encyclopedic knowledge of music. And as Karman asserts in press notes, his fanatical and obsessive nature spilled into the band’s songwriting process. We like to put down tons of ideas. And then meticulously pull back the layers, pouring over every detail.”

The band’s 2013 debut Shelf Life was supported with a West Coast tour, while Karman moonlighted as a music supervisor. 2015’s sophomore full-length effort, Current was released by The Record Machine to critical praise from Buzzbands L.A., Impose and Austin Town Hall, and as a result of their growing profile, the band opened for the likes of Haunted Summer and Globelamp. Not bad for a songwriter and band that have openly mentioned that they’ve felt “more comfortable when our music is a little out of step with its surroundings.”

Unsurprisingly the members of Historian had gone into the studio during the Current sessions with a number of songs that just didn’t make the cut for the album; however, a number of those songs signaled an interesting new direction that the band felt compelled to pursue towards their natural conclusion — with the end result being the band’s third full-length effort, Expanse. And as you’ll hear off album single “Thrown on the Road,” the band has gone on a decided sonic left turn, with the band pairing  pastoral-like folk music with the sort of lush string arrangements (played by renowned renowned string quartet Quartetto Fantastico) reminiscent of Beck‘s Sea ChangeR.E.M.’s Automatic for the People and the early work of the under-appreciated Scott Walker.

But what sets “Thrown on the Road” apart is that the song is a brooding and melancholy meditation on the passage of time that evokes a lonely man sitting in front of a glass of 12 year old, single malt scotch, contemplating the messiness of human life and relationships, of lingering ghosts that alternately haunt and taunt at the strangest times, of family, friends and lovers departed. Simply put, it’s music meant for those occasions when you’re feeling lost and alone and can’t seem to figure out the meaning of anything anymore.

 

 

 

New Video: Alt Rock All Star Act Filthy Friends Return with Ironic Visuals for Rousing Anti-Trump Anthem “Despierta”

Earlier this summer, I wrote about Filthy Friends, an act that’s both a side project and free-flowing collaboration between likeminded, long-time friends, who also happen to be among some of the most accomplished and influential musicians of the past 30+ years — with the band featuring Corin Tucker, best known as being a founding member and frontwoman of Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy; Kurt Bloch (guitar), best known as the frontman of renowned Seattle-based punk band The Fastbacks, and producer, who has mentored some of the area’s up-and-coming bands; Bill Rieflin (drums), who’s known for being a member of legendary prog rock act King Crimson; Scott McCaughey (bass), a studio musician, who’s also known for being a member of Fresh Young Fellows; and last but certainly not least, Peter Buck (guitar), who was a founding member of R.E.M. 

“The Arrival,” the second single off the band’s forthcoming debut effort Invitation may arguably be one of the more straightforward, glam rock and alt rock-channeling single, as it featured a roomy arrangement consisting of bristling and chugging power chords and a rousingly anthemic hook paired with Tucker’s imitable vocals — and in my mind, the single should remind fans of each of those acts that these old timers can still kick ass, and as a result, the song possesses the cool, self-assured swagger of old pros, who can make it seem far easier than what it really is. Now, you may recall that the band released  “Despierta,” a song that they contributed to the anti-Trump protest compilation 30 Songs For 30 Days and a Record Store Day release featuring “Any Kind of Crowd” and a cover of Roxy Music‘s “Editions of You.” As far as “Despierta,” it shouldn’t be surprising why the members of Filthy Friends felt it was a perfect addition to the anti-Trump compilation, as  the song has a relevant sociopolitical message — the song pretty much tells the listener that it’s time for new ideas and a new way of doing things, that it’s young people’s time to get to work on getting a bunch of fucked up shit right. And much like “The Arrival,” the members of the All-Star act pair that message around power chords and an anthemic hook.

Directed by Megan Hattie Stahl, the recently released music video employs a relatively simple yet funny concept: a bunch of young people, who are desperately trying to catch their new favorite band but with a It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World-like zaniness but it ends with a bitter irony — the one person, who actually makes it, misses the band, making his effort seem pointless. 

New Audio: Alt Rock All Star Side Project Filthy Friends Release Their Most Straightforward and Anthemic Song to Date

Comprised of Corin Tucker (vocals, guitar), who’s best known for being a member of Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy; Kurt Bloch (guitar), who’s best known as the frontman of The Fastbacks and a producer and mentor for several up-and-coming Seattle-based rock bands; Bill Rieflin (drums), who’s best known for being a member of the legendary King Crimson; Scott McCaughey (bass), a studio musician, who’s also known for being a member of Fresh Young Fellows; and last but certainly not least, Peter Buck (guitar), who was a founding member of R.E.M., Filthy Friends is both a side project and free-flowing collaboration between likeminded, long-time friends, who happen to be among some of the most accomplished and influential musicians of the past 30+ years. 

The band has released two attention-grabbing singles this year, “Desiperta,” their contribution to the anti-Trump protest compilation 30 Songs For 30 Days and a Record Store Day release featuring “Any Kind of Crowd” and a cover of Roxy Music’s “Editions of You.” Building upon the attention they’ve already received, the band will be releasing their full-length debut Invitation through Kill Rock Stars Records on August 25, 2017 — and while featuring their previously released tracks, the album overall finds the band working through a series of different moods and styles, genre exercises and experiments; however, “The Arrival,” Invitation’s first single may arguably be the most straightforward, glam rock and alt rock nodding single as the band pairs bristling and chugging power chords and a rousingly anthemic hook around Tucker’s imitable vocals in a song that swaggers with the cool, self-assured confidence of old pros, who make it seem far easier than it actually is — and who can essentially play anything at will.  

Comprised of Knol Tate (vocals, guitar), known as a member of Askeleton and Killsadie; Travis Collins (bass, vocals), known as a member of Spirit of 76 and We Are The Willows; Josh McKay (drum, percussion), known as a member of Farewell Continental, Small Towns Burn A Little Slower; and Jordan Morantez (guitar), known as a member of Blue Green and The King and The Thief, the Minneapolis, MN-based punk rock/post-punk quartet Deleter initially formed in 2012 as a side project for all of its members to deal with pent up musical and personal frustrations in which they would create not by over-thinking or over-producing their material and focusing on the immediacy of their first thoughts, as well as concerning themselves with playing by their instincts. After a series of self-released singles, which further developed their sound and approach throughout 2013 and the subsequent release of several EPs, the Minneapolis-based post-punk quartet released their full-length debut Oblique Seasons late in 2015.

The band’s soon to be released effort Meaningless Chants is slated for a January 21 release by Land Ski Records and the soon-to-be-released effort reportedly will be a gentle refinement of their sound — while retaining the thoughtfulness and conciseness of their previous releases, Meaningless Chants’ material may arguably be some of their manic, most outright political effort they’ve released to date. And considering the very urgency of the political moment, it seems fitting that artists are beginning to comment on our new absurd normal. Interestingly, the tense and anxious single “Start to Watch” sounds as though it owes a debt to both R.E.M., Gang of Four and Mission of Burma; but with a paranoid sense of something being terribly and irrevocably wrong, and an infectiously anthemic hook.

 

 

 

Led by its founding member, composer and bassist Ezra Gale and featuring Rick Parker (trombone), Alex Asher (trombone), Jon Lipscomb (guitar) and Madhu Siddappa, the Brooklyn-based trombone-led dub quintet Super Hi-Fi can trace their origins to a rather unlikely beginning. Gale, who was a founding member of acclaimed San Francisco-based Afrobeat act Aphrodisia, an act that once played at Fela Kuti‘s famed Lagos, Nigeria-based night club The Shrine, had relocated to Brooklyn and was collaborating with Quoc Pham in Sound Liberation Front when Gale was asked to get a band together for Pham and Gale’s then-monthly Afro-Dub Sessions parties in Williamsburg. Much like DJ Turmix’s Boogaloo Party, the Afro-Dub Sessions Party would pair the live band fronted by Gale with the dub’s top-flight producers and DJs including Victor RicePrince PoloSubatomic Sound System, the Beverley Road All-Stars and others.

When Gale founded Super Hi-Fi, the project was initially intended to translate the improvisatory mixing process of dub to the live show; however, with the 2012 release of their critically applauded debut effort Dub to the Bone, a busy touring schedule in which they opened for nationally known acts like RubblebucketBeats Antique and John Brown’s Body, followed by the release of their Yule Analog Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, the project began to cement its growing reputation for crafting a unique and expansive take on dub and reggae.

With the recent release of Super Hi-Fi Plays Nirvana, the Brooklyn-based dub quintet push the boundaries of reggae and dub by paying tribute to Nirvana. And in typical Super Hi-Fi fashion, the members of the band manage to create their own take on the iconic Seattle-based trio’s material with renowned dub producers, Sao Paulo, Brazil‘s Victor Rice; Venice, Italy‘s Doctor Sub; and Brooklyn’s Prince Polo — all of whom are frequent collaborators with the band — assisting to further bend and morph the band’s sound in trippy and psychedelic ways, which help take fairly familiar songs into bold, new territory.

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Adding to the uniqueness of the release, Very Special Recordings, a small, boutique Brooklyn-based label founded by Super Hi-Fi’s Ezra Gale, that specializes in releases cassettes that showcase the diverse of their borough’s and city’s music scene. Interestingly, while we all live in a world of Spotify playlists and streamable music that one never really owns, cassettes have seen something of a renaissance of late with several artists and labels releasing cassette only releases — and in some way, it’s a response against not just streaming services but against the trend towards technophilia for the sake of technophilia. While being relatively cheap to make and sell, a cassette tape does require a bit of effort  — you’d have to go to a physical record store to purchase your favorite band’s new record and then bring it home to play; have a label or friend mail or give you a tape; and at the very least, you’ll probably listen to the whole tape, if not an entire side once. Plus, let’s not forget, that unless your favorite song is the first song or last song of a side, finding it can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. And yet, if you remember buying cassettes at your local record store, as I do, it’s an experience that frankly I sometimes miss very dearly.

I recently spoke to Super Hi-Fi’s Ezra Gale about Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana, how the arranging and re-arranging process differs from Gale’s normal songwriting process, the band’s upcoming releases and more. Check it out below.

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WRH: In the Q&As for The Joy of Violent Movement, we almost always begin with some fairly introductory stuff for readers.  So let’s begin, shall we?

WRH: How did the members of the band meet?

Ezra Gale: I had an idea for a two trombone band and placed a Craigslist ad for trombone players which got exactly two responses, from Alex Asher and Ryan Snow, who became our first two trombone players. Everybody else I just met through other musicians.

WRH: How would you describe your sound?

EG: It’s dub, but I don’t know if it’s reggae.

WRH:  Who are you listening to right now?

EG: The last album I bought was Bowie‘s last album, Blackstar, which is just incredible.

WRH: Seminal albums like Nirvana’s Nevermind, U2’s Achtung Baby, A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People, Soundgarden’s BadmotorfingerSuperunknown and Down On The Upside, Pearl Jam’s TenVs. and Vitalogy and others reaching important milestone anniversaries, it’s a bit surprising to me that to my knowledge more bands haven’t seriously begun to tackle them with more covers and more tribute albums, especially if you consider how many Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Beatles tribute albums have been released over the years. Why haven’t there been more Pearl Jam, U2, R.E.M. tributes and covers? And how did you come upon paying tribute to Nirvana? 

EG: I really don’t know about those other bands, for us we started playing a version of “Something In the Way” a couple years ago, and we all sort of got the idea that maybe a whole album of Nirvana tunes could be interesting.

 WRH: Much like your fantastic Christmas albums, Super Hi-Fi Plays Nirvana features a couple of very well-known songs such as In Utereo’s “Heart Shaped Box,” and their famous Unplugged cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” as well as some rather deeper cuts such as “Verse Chorus Verse,” their Incesticide cover of “Love Buzz” Nevermind’s “Something In The Way” and “Polly.” What inspired you to choose those songs to tackle instead of something more tried and true?

EG: Well, initially I wanted to do all really obscure ones. Nirvana is a band whose famous songs have been played to death and I don’t know if anyone really needs to hear another version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, for example. But I know them from when Bleach came out and they were just this really great, intense band from Seattle that not many people knew- my college band even opened for them then, randomly. So I wanted to spotlight some of those lesser-known songs of theirs. But then, I think i was riding my bike and I suddenly started hearing “Heart Shaped Box” in this really slow, weird way, so we ended up doing that one. Ultimately it’s just about giving each song a different treatment and finding something new to do with it, no matter how many times you’ve heard it before.

WRH: How do you go about re-arranging material that’s fairly familiar in a way that adds your particular spin to it — while maintaining something familiar? And how does the process of re-arranging material differ from your normal songwriting process?

EG: It is different than a normal songwriting process. This album was very similar to our two Christmas albums (“Yule Analog” Vols. I and II), in that the goal was to take familiar material and make it sound different. And like in arranging those Christmas songs, I made some rules for myself doing it, which were that the melody line had to be the same, but everything else around it could change. So the rhythms are obviously very different, but also, Nirvana was a band with only one singer and we have two trombones, so in a lot of these versions the second trombone part is made up- like in “Verse Chorus Verse”, “Heart Shaped Box” and “Where Did You Sleep” especially. And also the chords are quite different in some of these, “Polly” and “Where Did You Sleep” especially are pretty different chord changes than the Nirvana versions.

My attitude towards cover versions is just that there’s no point in doing them if all you’re doing is to play it like the original version. No matter how great the original song is, I don’t ever want to regurgitate what someone else has done- go listen to the original if you want that. At the same time, I think it should be recognizable as the original song, somehow. So the challenge of taking material and sort of shaping it into something different that still has echoes of the original song is something I really enjoy doing.

WRH: While doing a little research for this interview, I learned that you’re currently working on your sophomore full-length effort, as well as Beatles/Police 45 for Record Store Day. Could you tell us a little bit about those projects?

EG: Yes, we are about 80% done with the mixing for the new full-length album, which is going to be called “The Blue and White” and it will be our second LP of all-original music. It’s quite different I think, there are lots of vocals and different sounds for us. It was recorded and mixed all onto tape too, which has been a real pain in some ways (!) but is so, so worth it- it sounds amazing I think. It will be out in the springtime sometime I think, on vinyl, somehow or other, we haven’t figured out yet.

And then the single is done and will be released on Electric Cowbell Records for Record Store Day in April, it’s the Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping,”  which was actually recorded for our “Dub to the Bone” album but left off it, and a version of The Police‘s “Hole In My Life” which we recorded for the new album, both extremely whacked-out and different versions, I can’t wait to play it for people.

WRH What’s next for the band?

EG: We haven’t been playing live that much the last few months because I’ve been so focused on finishing these albums, so once we’re done completely with the new LP I’m looking forward to playing a lot more in the new year.