Tag: Single Review

Over the past few years, I’ve written a bit about the London-based JOVM mainstays Ten Fe, and as you may recall, the act, which was initially comprised of founding members and primary songwriters Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan, the duo won national and international attention for pairing their distinct writing styles and voices into a unique sound. Moorhouse and Duncan had played in a number of London-based bands in which they individually felt as though there was pressure to fit into a particular scene, whether through a one way of playing or a certain way of looking, and it was something they felt unnatural and unnecessarily labored — and they deeply reviled it.  As the story goes, the duo met at party and became busking partners in the London Underground. In those very early days, they enjoyed the very simple pleasures of playing music they loved — mostly early rock, early Beatles and the like — and earning cash while doing so. Coming from a place of pure joy, they noticed a profound simpatico, and they began to play their own original material. “We had a very clear idea of what we wanted. For things to be simple, based around songs that are unashamed in their directness, and that we love: The CureU2Springsteen and The Stones. We’d spend years playing through these on the tube, realising you don’t need to break the mould. Its best to ignore all the voices telling you that you need to for the sake of it, and go for something deeper,” the duo explained in press notes.  And with Ten Fe, Moorhouse and Duncan wanted to focus primarily on the song with style serving the song — and while centered around anthemic and downright arena rock friendly hooks, their sound is difficult to describe and even more so to pigeonhole, as it possesses elements of the Manchester sound, Brit Pop, Americana, electro pop and contemporary indie rock. They manage to do this while balancing careful, deliberate attention to craft with soulful earnestness and bombast.

Moorhouse and Duncan then spent the next two years, writing, revising and recording in each other’s bedrooms, which included prolonged writing sessions at Duncan’s dad’s house in Walsall, UK, relentless busking, hustling and saving, and an impossibly lengthy list of band members and producers before they signed a publishing deal and briefly relocated to Berlin, where they recorded their Ewan Pearson-produced full-length debut effort Hit the Light. “Its no coincidence that the name of this band means ‘have faith’” says Leo Duncan.

After spending 18 months touring to support their critically applauded full-length debut effort Hit the Light, the project officially expanded into a full-fledged band with the permanent additions of touring members Rob Shipley (bass) and Johnny Drain (keys), who are two of Duncan’s oldest friends from Walsall, and Alex Hammond (drums). As the story goes, the members of the band felt a renewed sense of confidence when it came to preparing to write and work on their follow up effort Future Perfect, Present Tense. They set up shop in a vacant driving license office in East London, where the majority of the writing was done, and as they were nearing the end, they went to Oslo, Norway where they tracked the material before returning to London to finish the album with producer Luke Smith, who has worked with Foals, Depeche Mode, Petite Noir, and Anna of the North — and mixed by Craig Silvey, who has worked with Arcade Fire, Florence & The Machine and Amen Dunes.

Thematically, the material reportedly is a mediation on everything that has brought them all to the point of their sophomore album, and everything they’ve willingly (and perhaps unwillingly) left behind in actually getting there. Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Won’t Happen” is centered around a buoyant groove, jangling guitars and a soaring, arena friendly hook while the band’s Duncan laments and repents for his past indiscretions — perhaps to a lover or to himself. Sonically, the song will further cement the band’s reputation for being uncompromisingly genre-defying as the song seems to draw from 70s AM rock, Brit Pop and arena rock simultaneously; but with a decidedly individualistic take that has them sound unlike any other contemporary act I can think of.

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New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Release a Bluesy Stomper off Their Seventh Brown Acid Compilation

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’d likely be extremely familiar with Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records collaboration on their increasingly expansive series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations Brown Acid. Each individual edition of the compilation is centered around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recored together in 30 or 40 years, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes regarding the previous editions of the compilations “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Naturally, by having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation process, it can give the artists and their songs, a real, second chance at the attention and success that they originally missed. Additionally, these songs can help fill in the larger picture of what was going on in and around the underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Following the critical and commercial success of its first six volumes, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records’ sixth volume of 60s and 70s proto-metal and pre-stoner rock Brown Acid: The Seventh Trip is slated for an October 31, 2018 release continuing what I hope will be a bi-yearly tradition. Much like the preceding editions, the seventh continues Barressi’s and Hall’s exhaustive, painstaking research and curation that has fond them digging ever so deeper in to the well of hard rock, psych rock and proto-metal from the 60s and 70s. Interestingly enough, Youngstown, Ohio was a hotbed for these 45s and for a town of about 150,000, an overwhelming majority of the 45s Barressi and Hall found were by bands who hailed from there — and much like the predecessors, the seventh edition features songs from mostly American bands, although there’s the inclusion of a French band and a Swedish band to round it all out. 

Brown Acid: The Seventh Trip’s latest single is C.T. Pilfherhogg’s 1973 bluesy stomp “You Haul,” a single that brings Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Iron Butterfly’s “In A Gadda Da Vida” but with Echoplex-effected laughs to give the song a maniacal vibe, centered around arpeggiated organs, enormous power keys and a hard rocking hook. During their day, the band was touted as “Southwest Virginia’s Finest Boogie Band” but from this single, the band kicked ass and took names. 

Emerging Swedish industrial synth pop act LINES can trace its origins to when its founding trio — Erik, Fred and Nisse — traveled to Berlin, with the expressed purpose of losing themselves in that hedonism of its nightlife. As the story goes, as though under the influence of a higher power, lines were drawn and blueprints made of the sort of music that they wanted to create. Although the band was born in Berlin, the band’s roots are in Stockholm‘s indie scene. Interestingly, they manage to continue a long-held tradition of high-powered synth-based and hook-driven synth pop pioneered by the likes of The Knife, Teddybears and others but thematically centered around isolation, escapism and what the band calls “obsessive and destructive love” — and they do with some subtle political leanings. “We’re not Rage Against The Machine in our police, but we try to express some kind of social commentary between the lines.”

Along with crafting politically charged material, the trio are boldly and defiantly DIY — writing, producing and mixing their own work in their self-built studio. They’ve also self-directed and produced the bulk of their videos and thrown their own 24 hour release parties; however, the band is ambitious and they have their sights set on using their non-conformist pop to make a connection with audiences in their native Sweden and beyond.    Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band’s the band has a growing national and international profile — their single “You” has amassed more than 6 million streams, and renowned Swedish pop artist Tove Lo has championed them.

The trio’s latest single “People,” which finds the trio collaborating with Adele Kosman is centered around lush layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats and an infectious, sing-along worthy, anthemic hook that I can envision people shouting along to, while having their arms draped around their friend’s shoulders. The track will further cement the Swedish trio’s growing reputation for wildly euphoric and futuristic synth pop.

Comprised of Tony Davia, Lou Connor and Lauren Potts, the Long Beach, CA-based indie pop trio Younger Hunger can trace their origins to night of playing Nintendo 64 and drinking milkshakes — and unsurprisingly, the trio’s sound is influenced quite a bit by old video games to further emphasize their material’s themes of nostalgia, young adulthood and its seemingly prerequisite anxiety. Additionally, the band’s sound and approach is influenced by The Teenagers, The Smiths, and MGMT among others.

The Long Beach, CA-based pop trio’s Adam Castilla-produced debut EP is slated for a December 7, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single, the strutting “Dead Inside” is centered around a slinky and sultry hook featuring cowbell, a propulsive bass line, twinkling keys and boom bap-like beats — and while there may be some video game influence, the song to my ears sounds as though it were influenced by The Killers, The Rapture and others, as it’s a radio friendly banger that could rock a club; but underneath the song’s sleekness, the song’s narrator expresses anxiety about love, selling out and not quite knowing what he wants from his life — things that actually are concerns throughout most of our lives. As the band’s Tony Davia explains in press notes, We were all at this party and I was having a bad night. So we all left to go hang out at our studio and play some N64. We ended up jamming and that’s when we wrote the hook over an old cowbell loop. We wanted all of the synth tones to sound like Street Fighter II style arcade sounds to commemorate the night. The whole thing came together really quickly, and it does a good job of representing our EP.”

 

Comprised of Sólveig Matthildur,  Margrét Rósa and Laufey Soffía, the Reykjavik, Iceland-based synth-based post-punk act Kælan Mikla have had a breakthrough year so far: they played a critically applauded set at this year’s Roadburn Festival, were championed by The Cure’s Robert Smith and toured with King Dude — and all of this before the release of their forthcoming album Nótt eftir nott, which is slated for a November 9, 2018 release through Artoffact Records.

The members of the Icelandic post-punk trio will be playing an album release show on November 8, 2018 at this year’s Iceland Airwaves but before then, the album’s first official single is the chilly yet dance floor friendly, synth-led track “Nornalagið” — and the track, which is centered by a motorik groove and punctuated by piercing wailing manages to be both eerily atmospheric and cinematic, evoking a storm rolling across enormous skies.

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electronic music duo and JOVM mainstays Beacon, and as you recall, the duo, which is comprised of Thomas Mullarney III (vocals) and Jacob Gusset (production) have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound and a generally minimalist production approach that subtly draws from R&B, house music and electro pop paired with Mullarney’s aching and tender falsetto. A couple of years had passed since I had written about the but recently the duo quietly returned with the somber “Losing My Mind,” a bold and decided sonic departure centered around a sparse arrangement of piano, a brief burst of synths and Mullarney’s aching and mournful falsetto. As the duo’s Jacob Gusset explained in press notes, the song was originally written on piano but eventually swelled into a full-bodied arrangement before reverting back to its original shell. “I came back from a trip and Tom had a new edit that was completely stripped back. Sometimes, it just takes those infinite iterations to finally crack the code.”  By stripping down their sound to its most essential — Mullarney’s vocals and a simple arrangement, it reveals the vulnerability that’s always been at the core of their material with Mullarney singing longingly of desiring stability — whether romantic or spiritually, and of the comfort of knowing that a loved one would remain by your side in the darkest and most desperate of times. Certainly, in our

Interestingly, “Losing My Mind” turned out to be the first single from the duo’s third full-length album, Gravity Pairs, slated for a November 2, 2018 release through their longtime label home, Ghostly International.  As the story goes, after recording a couple of EPs, their first two full-length albums and going on several tours to support their recorded efforts, Mullarney and Gossett returned home, knowing that the new material they would soon write wound find the duo going off into a completely different direction. Together, they embarked on open-ended writing sessions, adopting a more linear style of songwriting instead of the loop and texture-driven method they had long used. The demos they wrote were essentially built around piano chords and guitar phrases with vocal melodies, which they edited in a number of iterations that found them looking through each from a multitude of angles and directions. Naturally, some songs expanded and others they pared back. Like the bending of light through a prism, the abstract, deeply patient, almost painterly creative process, eventually found the material they wound up writing outlined in a space in which seemingly separate colors — minimalist ballads, elaborate pop spirituals and driving dance tunes — can coexist at different speeds, spreading out like a spectrum. With each iteration, the duo also found themselves expanding upon how they can be present the material within a live setting. They could play the material in a straightforward fashion — or they could play the same material in a different fashion that added or subtracted color and shading, depending on the circumstances, their moods and their desires.

“All matter is created by dividing gravity into pairs,” the 20th Century scientific mystic Walter Russell once wrote. His “new world thought” writings and musically-informed schematic drawings were idiosyncratic, and were incredibly fringe for their time. As Beacon’s Mullarney details a bit further in press notes, “’Gravity Pairs’ is how Walter Russell describes the rhythmic order of the universe. I kept reading ‘pairs’ as both a noun and verb; simultaneously the elemental units of Russell’s balanced universe and the process that brings us together.”

Be My Organ,” Gravity Pairs’ second single was centered around a foggy yet up-tempo production centered around shimmering and arpeggiated synths four-on-the-floor beats, Mullarney’s tender falsetto and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure that gives the song a simultaneously undulating and swooning feel, and while finding the JOVM mainstays pushing their songwriting and sound in a unique and new direction, much like its predecessor there’s an underlying vulnerable and aching yearning. “On Ice,” the forthcoming album’s third and latest single finds shimmering synth notes arpeggiating along a motorik beat as Mullarney repeats in his imitable falsetto fed through effects — mostly echo and delay as the song builds up from slow-burning simmer to a strobe light-like coda. Much like its predecessors, the song is a subtle yet trippy expansion and retooling of their sound.

 

 

 

 

 

Rosie Carney is a Hampshire, UK-born, Donegal, Ireland-based singer/songwriter and guitarist. Inspired by the rugged and picturesque landscapes of her adopted home, Carney began writing music — and when she turned 15, she left school to showcase her work in New York and Los Angeles, and shortly thereafter was signed to a major label.  In 2013, the British-born, Irish-based singer/songwriter and guitarist added to a rapidly growing profile with a performance on Ireland’s leaning live music TV series Other Voices, as well as sets at Bushstock Festival, Latitude Festival, Electric Picnic Festival, Seven Layers Festival and SXSW. Additionally, Carney opened for Haux on a 28-date tour of 12 countries that included stops in the US and Canada.

While navigating a meteoric rise to national and international attention, Carney grappled with depression and an eating disorder, both a result of deep personal trauma. Simultaneously, she struggled to assert herself creatively in the major label system as she faced pressure to co-write and change her name — before leaving the major label system altogether. Carney’s highly-anticipated debut album Bare which features her collaboration with Lisa HanniganThousand,” is slated for a January 25, 2019 release through Akira Records is reportedly informed by the twists and turns of her professional an personal life, while further cementing her growing reputation for writing material that’s cathartic and empowering.

Bare‘s latest single is the  gorgeous “Orchid” which is centered around a soaring string arrangement, strummed acoustic guitar, Carney’s achingly tender vocals, a simple backbeat and some additional tremolo guitar that thematically seems to focus on a profound, inconsolable loss. As Carney mentions in press notes, As the song developed, I saw the opportunity to really expand beyond my usual production and it’s now the most layered song on the album, with strings, drums, tremolo guitar etc. I could just hear the strings while working on the demo and when it came time to actually track them, we used Radiohead’s “Nude” and some of Lana Del Rey’s dreamier tracks as a reference—two artists that are huge influences on me.”

 

 

With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Up until late last month, some time had passed since I had come across the DC-based sextet but as you may recall, the band had been busy working on their sophomore album, which is currently slated for release sometime next year — and the album’s first single “Sunburn,” was a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Chelsea” is a synth-based track that some have compared favorably to Depeche Mode, although to my my ears, the song recalls St. Lucia as the members of Color Palette layer of arpeggiated synths are paired with angular and hanging guitar chords, an a propulsive rhythm section — and while much like its predecessor, the song reveals a band that can craft a razor sharp and infectious hook, “Chelsea” may arguably be the most ambitious, arena rock friendly track they’ve written and released to date.

 

Led by songwriter/producer and founder of Ice Queen Records and founding member Joseph Lekkas, the Nashville-based indie rock act Palm Ghosts can trace its origins back
to when Lekkas lived in Philadelphia. As the story goes, after spending a number of years playing in local bands like Grammar Debate! and Hilliard, Lekkas took a lengthy hiatus from writing and performing music to book shows and festivals in and around the Philadelphia area. Initially began as a solo recording project and creative way for Lekkas to deal with an incapacitating bout of depression and anxiety after discovering that music was his only way out the mire. So Lekkas spent a long Philadelphia winter recording a batch of introspective songs that he dubbed “sun-damaged American music’ that would eventually become the Palm Ghost debut album.
After a short tour in 2013 to support the Palm Ghost debut album, Lekkas packed up his belongings and relocated to Nashville, enticed by the city’s growing indie rock scene. Once he settled in to his new hometown, Lekkas set up a small home studio in the guest bedroom of a rental house on Greenland Avenue in East Nashville, where he eventually wrote and recorded the sophomore Palm Ghosts album, last year’s Greenland, an album that found him employing elements of electro pop, folk and indie rock that was influenced by his new hometown’s long-held song-is-king culture. Last May, the Palm Ghost founding member began working on the third Palm Ghosts album Architecture, an album heavily influenced by the sounds of the 80s — in particular, Cocteau Twins, Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, New Order and The Cure among others. The album’s first single “Turn the Knife” is a hook-driven bit of 80s post-punk that will recall New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and others but centered by the two part male/female harmonies, angular guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section and a bitter sense of betrayal and distrust.
As Lekkas told me via email, “‘Turn the Knife’ is basically a song about betrayal in love — or a one sided relationship that ends badly. It was written and recorded in my studio here in Nashville. My influences are all over the map but I’m an enormous fan of 80s post punk and New Wave music, so perhaps that shines through to you in the song? Basically, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Chameleons and The Jesus and Mary Chain are big influences.”

 

 

 

Comprised of founding members Kasi “KC” Nunes (vocals) Matt Kato (drums) and Jasio Savio (guitar) with Tim Corker (bass), Ken Lykes (keys) and DJ Packo, the Honolulu, HI-based sextet Kings Of Spade can trace their origins back to when Nunes,  a self-described “somber, closeted queer kid, who felt soul and blues music,” was bartending at Honolulu’s Anna Bananas and was pulled up on the stage to sing. “They started playing ‘Sweet Child O’Mine,” Nunes says in press notes.  “I started singing and was like ‘Hey, I sound pretty good.”
Interestingly, Jasio Savio frequently sat in with the bar’s house band. “He wasn’t old enough to drink,” Nunes recalls. “But he would start and rip these Johnny Cash tunes.” As the story goes, they were both impressed by each other. “You feel this energy when she sings,” Savio says. “My first thought was ‘Damn, she’s going to be famous.’” Nunes approached Savio and suggested they start a band. They recruited Matt Kato, a local punk rock drummer and played with a revolving door of bassists until they found Tim Corker. As a quartet that played power chord-based blues riff rock, they didn’t find their hometown to be very receptive to their sound — although Nunes took it upon herself to book club shows that featured the band alongside local DJs, artists and other bands. After amassing a decent local following, the band relocated to Southern California in 2006 to chase their dreams. But as Nunes and Kato quickly found out, the big city isn’t very welcoming; in fact, they were barely scarping by — and they were forced to sell their blood for cash. “Everyone at the clinic looked down-on-their-luck,” Nunes remembers. “I was hooked up to a plasma machine, reading the self-help books. This was the lowest point in my life.”
After three years of crushing let-downs and disappointment, Nunes, Savio and Kato quit their jobs and gave up their shared apartment in preparation for a lengthy tour that was just booked by their new manager; however, he disappeared once they figured out that there wasn’t an actual tour. They returned home to Hawaii, and ironically enough, upon their return, they finally began to have much better fortune. Several years later, the band played at SXSW, where former Headbanger’s Ball host and MTV VJ Riki Rachtman caught them — and after catching them, he booked them to play a show commemorating the 30th anniversary of his old metal club, The Cathouse, best known for giving rise to Guns N’ Roses. Around the same time, they met Sue Damon, the ex-wife of The Beach Boys‘ Mike Love. “She was a huge supporter of ours, bought us a new drum set. She was a total free spirit, who could party all of us under under the table. She ended up passing away. But all of us have her initials tattooed on us.”
The band’s self-titled Dave Cobb-produced full-length was recorded in Nashville over the course of two weeks.  “He produced a band I like, Rival Sons, which had this old-school sound with modern energy—like, analog-tape soul built into it,” Jesse says, admiringly. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about album single “Bottom’s Up,” a swaggering and stomping bluesy ripper and party anthem inspired by their late friend and patron
Sue Damon, and their own experiences partying ridiculously hard that sounds as though it were influenced by Highway to Hell-era AC/DC, Electric Blue Watermelon-era North Mississippi All Stars and The Black Keys — all while further cementing their reputation for boozy, power chord centered, riff-based rock. Released in time for National Coming Out Day, the album’s latest single “Strange Bird,” is a anthemic song centered around Led Zeppelin-like power chords and Nunes’ own experiences coming out, that proudly says “go out there and march to the beat of your own drum because life is short!” May this song be a call for arms for anyone, who’s struggling to find themselves in an unforgiving world.