Tag: rock

New Video: Cutting Crew Revisit and Re-work Their 80s Smash Hit

Tracing their origins back to when its founding members Nick Van Eede (guitar, vocals) and Canadian-born Kevin MacMichael toured Canada as members of The Drivers and Fast Forward respectively, the Grammy-nominated, Sussex, UK-based rock act Cutting Crew was formed in London in 1985. Within a few months of their formation, the band — then a duo — signed with Siren Records/Virgin on the strength of their demos. 

By 1986, the band expanded into a quartet and went into the studio to record their breakthrough full-length debut Broadcast, which featured their smash-hit single “(I Just) Died in Your Arms.” The song was a multi-format hit in the States, hitting number 1 on the Top 40, number 4 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, number 24 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and an extended remix version landed at number 37 on the Hot Dance/Club Play chart. The song also landed on the top of the Canadian and Norwegian Charts while hitting in the top 10 of the singles charts in the UK, Switzerland, South African, Sweden, Ireland and Austria. Undoubtably, the act’s biggest song, it’s arguably one of the more memorable songs of the 80s — and as a result, you’ll hear the song in Hot Tub Time Machine, Stranger Things, Ash Vs. Evil Dead, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. 

Broadcast also featured “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “One for the Mockingbird,” both of which also received massive commercial success with the songs reaching the Billboard Top 10 and Top 20 Charts respectively. As a result of their success the band wound up opening for the likes of The Bangles, Jefferson Starship and Huey Lewis & The News, eventually playing their own sold-out headlining shows. 

The band went on to write and record two more albums — 1989’s sophomore effort The Scattering and 1992’s third album Compus Mentus. After Kevin MacMichael’s death, the band went on an extended hiatus but after about a decade, van Eede chose to revive the band with a new lineup. And with the new lineup, the band recorded their fourth album 2006’s Grinning Souls in MacMichael’s hometown in Nova Scotia. The band then went on to release 2015’s Add to Favourites. Since the band’s reunion, they’ve toured across Mexico, Canada, Australia and Japan. 

The band’s latest album Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven was released earlier this year, and the album’s latest single finds the band re-working “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” with a string arrangement while retaining the song’s familiar and beloved elements — including that rapturous chorus. Certainly, as a child of the 80s listening to the original and the reworked version bring back a lot of memories — but while subtly making the song more contemporary. 

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New Audio: Chris Robinson-led Green Leaf Rustlers Release a Gorgeous Rolling Stones Cover

Marin County, California-based act Green Leaf Rustlers, comprised of Chris Robinson (a.k.a, the most soulful white guy on the face of the earth), Barry Sless, Greg Loiacono, Pete Sears, and John Moro have developed a reputation for being one of the area’s live music scene staples, for their re-imagining of classic, cosmic country and country rock — in particular the work of artists like Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, The Byrds and others. “Green Leaf Rustlers are a Marin County hippie hayride,” the band’s Chris Robinson says in press notes. “Rockin’ and rollin’ through our favorite classic cosmic country covers and keeping the good people dancing the night away under star-filled western skies.”

Although the band has seldom performed outside of Northern California, their debut album From Within Marin, which is slated for a March 6, 2020 release is a double LP live album, recorded by Grateful Dead archivist Betty Cantor Jackson at a handful of Green Leaf Rustler shows across Marin County last year. The album sees Robinson and company work there way through renditions of Gram Parsons’ “Big Mouth Blues,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” JJ Cale’s “Ride Me High,” Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama” and the album’s second and latest single — a shimmering and twangier take on The Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations” that’s expands upon the lonely honky tonk vibe of the original in a loving fashion. 

New Audio: Sheer Mag Returns with a Politically-Charged Power, Chord-Fueled Anthem

Philadelphia-based rock act Sheer Mag, comprised of Tina Halladay, Kyle Seely, Hart Seely, Matt Palmer and Ian Dystrka, quickly emerged with three self-released 7 inches and regular touring across the Northeastern DIY circuit. Ironically, the Philadelphia-based quintet stood apart because their sound was so warmly familiar: big riff-based power pop, 60s and 70s proto-metal and 70s arena rock but without the toxic and fucked up machismo. They received praise from Rolling Stone who named the band one of their “10 New Artists You Need To Know” in January 2015, played at Coachella the following year and made their national television debut on on Late Night with Seth Myers.

Building upon a rapidly growing national profile, the band released their critically applauded full-length debut, 2017’s Need to Feel Your Love. Further cementing their enormous riff-based sound, the album thematically found the band surveying the contemporary political landscape through the lens of history with the band figuratively transporting themselves back to the 1969 Stonewall Riots, denouncing redlining and gerrymandering practices that undermine the popular vote while paying homage to German, Anti-Nazi political activist Sophie Scholl. 

Sheer Mag’s highly-anticipated sophomore album A Distant Call is slated for a September 23, 2019 release through the band’s own label, Wilsuns RC, and while the album finds the band writing about surviving our hellish sociopolitical moment, the album’s politics are deeply personal. The album documents one of the most alienating periods of Tina Halladay’s life: She was laid off from a job and found herself broke and newly single. And her father, with whom she had a fraught and difficult relationship died, which left her with more heartache and wounds than what felt possible to heal. On another level, the album’s material makes an argument for socialism on an anecdotal level.

Sonically, the album’s material possesses a studio sheen while retaining the big riffs, even bigger hooks, grit and intensity that first caught the attention of the blogosphere, as you’ll hear on the album’s first single, “The Killer.” And it may arguably be the most ambitious and self-assured bit of material in the band’s growing catalog.”There are many killers out there,” Sheer Mag’s Tina Halladay says in press notes. “The Killer is a liar with a strange hold on the world. The Killer is a war criminal the corrupt of society have produced and protected. The Killer spends his life covering up atrocities and defending right-wing dictatorships. The Killer stifles accountability and truth. We want to know, when does The Killer die?”

Live Footage: the bird and the bee Cover Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” with Dave Grohl on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”

Comprised of singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia,Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney, the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee can trace their origins to when they met  while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise. Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. As the story goes back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show, during the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. “We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim(drums), who has worked with the David Bowie and Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen‘s album’s second single “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” is a slinky New Wave-like take on the original, centered around an angular and propulsive bass line, atmospheric electronics, shimmering and arpeggiated synths and while bearing an uncanny resemblance to New Order and It’s Blitz!-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the track is imbued with a feverish quality.

While much of Van Halen’s material, whether it was David Lee Roth-era or Sammy Hagar-era is seemingly familiar to the point of well-worn, the first two singles off Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen finds the duo crafting a loving and thoughtful take on beloved material. And they manage to do so in a way that retains familiar elements but within a playful, post-modern, decidedly feminist fashion. 

The duo were recently on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where they performed their sultry rendition of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” with a special guest — Dave Grohl, who played drums. 

New Audio: the bird and the bee’s Jazz-like Take on Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”

Last month, I wrote about the Los Angeles-based indie pop act the bird and the bee — singer/songwriter Inara George and seven time Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Sia, Adele, Beck, Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney — and as you may recall, the act can trace their origins to when the duo met while working on George’s 2005 solo debut All Rise. Bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and rock, the duo decided to continue to work together in a jazz-influenced electro pop project.

The Los Angeles indie pop duo’s debut EP Again and Again and Again and Again was released in late 2006. They quickly followed that up with their self-titled full-length debut in early 2007 — and with their earliest releases George and Kurstin quickly developed a reputation for bringing a breezy elegance to their work, which finds them putting their own idiosyncratic twist on time-bending indie pop.

Although serving as the long-awaited follow up to 2015’s Recreational Love, the bird and the bee’s fifth album, Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen actually closely follows 2010’s critically applauded Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Hall & Oates. And while Van Halen‘s most anthemic and beloved work may initially seem like an unlikely vessel for the Los Angeles-based duo’s sound and approach, George and Kurstin are both lifelong fans of David Lee Roth-era Van Halen. Back in 2007, George caught her first-ever Van Halen show — and it was the first tour to feature David Lee Roth as the band’s frontman since 1985. George was so charmed by Roth’s presence, that after that show, she approached Kurstin about writing a song for Roth. The end result was the swooning serenade “Diamond Dave,” which appeared on their 2008 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. “We asked him to be in the video, but instead he signed a picture and gave me the yellow top hat he’d worn at the show I saw, which I thought was very sweet,” George says in press notes. “When we were trying to figure out who to cover for the second volume of Interpreting the Masters, we were both a little bit like, ‘Oh my god, can we really do it?’ But then we just went for it.”

Slated for an August 2, 2019 release through No Expectations/Release Me Records, the duo’s fifth album features an impressive backing band of guest musicians including Justin Meldal Johnsen (bass), who has worked with Beck and Nine Inch Nails; Joey Waronker (drums), who has worked with R.E.M and Elliott Smith; and Omar Hakim (drums), who has worked with the David Bowieand Miles Davis assisting the duo in making familiar David Lee Roth-era Van Halen anthems completely their own, imbuing even the most over-the-top tracks with a slinky intimacy.

Interestingly, for Kurstin, an accomplished jazz pianist, who once studied with Jaki Byard, a pianist that once played in Charles Mingus‘ band, one of the greatest challenges he had translating Eddie Van Halen’s virtuoso guitar work into piano arrangements that kept some of the spirit and vibe of the original. “I know there’s a jazz influence with the Van Halen brothers, so I tried to channel some of the things that I felt might’ve influenced Eddie,” Kurstin notes. “In a way ‘Eruption’ is almost like a piece of classical music, so I mostly treated it that way as I interpreted it for piano,” he adds, referring to the iconic instrumental guitar solo from Van Halen’s self-titled debut. 

While creating arrangements around Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work will reveal the duo’s ingenuity and playfulness as interpreters and arrangers paired with a deeply nuanced reading of the material, which is influenced by their deep and profound emotional connection to the band.“I remember being 10-years-old and seeing their videos and feeling both excited and totally terrified—I responded to them in this very visceral way,” George says in press notes. Kurstin, who also is a lifelong fan, actually got a chance to work with Eddie Van Halen in the early 80s when the Grammy Award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist was a 12 year-old member of Dweezil Zappa’s band. “I got to hang out with him in the studio and go backstage when Van Halen played The Forum, which was a really big moment for my younger self,” Kurstin recalls.

The album’s two singles found the members of the bird and the bee taking on Van Halen’s “Panama” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” The duo turned “Panama” from a power chord-based arena rock anthem into a sultry club banger, centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths, bright blasts of twinkling piano and cowbell, a wobbling Bootsy Collins-like bass line and George’s sensual vocal delivery. Their cover of”Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” was a slinky and shimmering New Wave-like take that recalled New Order and It’s Blitz-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs while imbued with a feverish quality.  The album’s third latest single finds the band taking on “Hot For Teacher,” the last official single that band released with their original lineup.  Featuring drummer Omar Hakim, who has worked with David Bowie, Sting, Daft Punk, Weather Report, Madonna, Kate Bush and others and a spoken word cameo from Beck, the bird and the bee deliver a swinging bop jazz-inspired take that actually pulls, tugs and teases out the jazziness of the original — particularly within Eddie Van Halen’s dexterous guitar solo-ing. Interestingly, much like Easy Star All-Stars take on Dark Side of the Moon, the bird and the bee version of “Hot For Teacher” isn’t a purely straightforward cover — rather, it’s a subtle and mischievous modernization that retains the spirit and intent of the song in a thoughtful and loving way. 

New Video: Budapest’s Ivan and the Parazol Releases an Arena Rock Friendly Single Paired with Slick Visuals

Last November, I wrote about the Budapest, Hungary-based indie rock quartet Ivan and the Parazol, and as you may recall the act which is currently comprised of Vitáris Iván (vocals), Balla Máté (guitar), Beke István (keys) and Simon Bálint (drums) can trace their origins to when its founding members along with Tarnai János (bass) met at a private music school back in 2010. And since their formation, the Hungarian rock act has released three full-length albums, opened for Deep Purple, played SXSW twice, played Reeperbahn Festival, Eurosonic Nooderslag, and the Sziget Festival main stage as well as hundreds of shows internationally across Europe. Adding to a growing national and international profile the act was nominated for an MTV Hungary Brand New Award in 2010, won an MTV Europe Music Award for Best Hungarian act in 2014. Also their single “Together” was named the Sziget Festival anthem.  

Last year was an eventual year for the Hungarian rock band: they celebrated their eighth year together, and in that time, the band cemented a reputation for being at the forefront of their homeland’s growing, contemporary rock and indie rock scenes. Building upon their growing profile, the Budapest-based rock act’s Wil Anspach-produced fourth, full-length album Exotic Post Traumatic finds the band ambitiously expanding upon the sound and songwriting approach that has won them attention in the homeland — with the intention of winning ears and audiences across the rest of the European Union and the States. Exotic Post Traumatic’s slow-burning, first single “Nr. 1003” was a slick and seamless mix of glam rock, psych rock and arena rock that seemed to draw from The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Tame Impala — and while seemingly sunny, the song has a subtle darkness to it; after all the song focuses on the band moving froward with their lifelong dream without one of their closest friends. And while there’s some guilt about moving forward, there’s also the hope that their friend will be able to join them on their incredible journey. 

The album’s latest single “Changin'” is a straightforward arena rock track features an enormous power chord-led hook, a thundering backbeat and Vitáris Iván’s sultry  baritone. And while to my ears, the track sounds like early INXS, the song is centered by an overwhelming positivity — that the changes the song’s narrator feels he’s going through is part of a necessary part of his personal evolution. As the band explains in press notes that “‘Changin’ could be the title of the whole album, cause the last two years have embodied this concept. The band, our music, and style of song-writing developed and evolved so much. This song was inspired by a new relationship, but of course the desired love is hard to reach, especially when the different factors of life and personal experiences can make it harder to materialise. Our band and our bond is a relationship too that goes through evolutions and difficulties. So, you have to trust your instinct, and the change will make you better.” 

The recently released video follows a beautiful and stylish woman as she goes to an artist loft — at first she vamps in an elevator before heading to an art gallery. Next door, the members of Ivan and the Parazol are jamming out. Much like the video for “Nr. 1003,” the slickly shot video creates the impression that the band are part of their country’s — and in turn, their hometown’s — effortlessly cool.