Tag: Single Review

Currently cloaked in a bit of mystery, the reclusive members of the up-and-coming indie rock act ilu split their time writing, recording and residing in Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, and from their first official single “Graffiti Hen Ewrop,” the Estonian-Welsh band specialize in a sound that draws from krautrock and shoegaze as the song is centered around a motorik groove, swirling feedback, shimmering keys, ethereal vocals, angular bass chords and a soaring hook — but underneath the song’s anthemic nature, is an aching and wistful longing.

As the band notes, the song’s lyrics came in a rather organic fashion, as they were driving around a snowy Tallinn on Christmas Day, full of deep grief and sadness. “I had just lost my father a few months before moving to Tallinn and I was dealing with my grief and my own confusion that was crippling at the time. The album was written and recorded there in a small flat in Merivälja looking across the harbour over at the old medieval town, it is very much a journey back into the light”.

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Comprised of Sam Alexander, Wes Johnson, Jeremy Louis Joe Page and Jon Van Patten, the indie act No Kind of Rider has members split between Portland, OR and Brooklyn — although the act, which has developed a reparation for a sound that possesses elements of indie rock, shoegaze, r&b, indie rock and electro pop initially formed in Tulsa, OK. Between the time of their formation and their relocation, the band spent several years writing, playing and hustling hoping for a moment. “Working like that can break your heart,” the band’s Sam Alexander says in a lengthy statement written by him and his bandmates.

No Kind of Rider’s soon-to-be released full-length debut Savage Coast draws from several years of experience. As the band says, “there are things we have been during to say, and this record is a release emotionally for us. Both musically and lyrically we focus on ‘change’ a lot in this record.We use as many synthesizers and electronic samples as we do guitars and drums.  We want the listener to both feel comfortable and continuously be surprised.”  That sense of constant transition was inspired by the events of the band’s personal lives: Joe Page’s father unexpectedly died died two years before the band entered the studio to write and record the material that would eventually comprise their full-length debut. Sam Alexander notes that the year Page’s father died, was the same year that he got married. Wes Johnson’s father suddenly died. Jon Van Patten relocated to Brooklyn. And shortly after that, Alexander’s father had a stroke. “There’s been so may times in the last few years where I got stuck in my head: ‘Do other artists go through all this while making a record? Is this some kind of curse?’ For a long time I used to think of music as my path out of a difficult reality. I don’t anymore. Now, writing music is what keeps me rooted in my reality, it’s what lets me live with more presence and attention,” Alexander says.

“This isn’t a concept album,” Alexander and his bandmates continues. “But it does tell a story. We want the listener to uncover that story for themselves. However, a part of it is our story. Our loves, our friendships, our triumph, our losses. The story wouldn’t have happened without our move from Oklahoma to Oregon. We slept on friends floors and rehearsed in basements. I have over 300 hours of voice memos from our rehearsals down there!  Even though we recorded at incredible studios with talented friends, when I listen: I somehow still hear us in that moldy basement. I still hear the first time we pulled over on hwy 101 and saw the jagged wounds of the Pacific coastline.  Creatively, Joe actually drove out to Haystack Rock on the coast with a tape recorded – he designed new sounds and he embedded them into the tracks, so some of that is the actual article.  Most of it is just in the way that the music feels to me.” Unsurprisingly, the album thematically deals with loss, frustration and resiliency through love, friendship and music and of holding on to hope in the most difficult of times. Certainly, while personal, the album will likely resonate in much deeper and darker ways for so many of us in these desperate and frightening times. Sometimes music, your friends and loved ones and the hope of hope are the only things you can cling to — and that shouldn’t be shameful; not when the small things can be so sustaining and so necessary.

In any case, the album’s latest single “Sophia,” Alexander notes was recorded with the quintet facing each other in the same room, playing together in the same room — and much like The Verve‘s Urban Hymns, it has a different, more vital and urgent feel to the proceedings, as though the listener was a fly on the wall during the recording sessions. Sonically speaking the song is a slickly produced and effortless meshing of contemporary electro pop and R&B, anthemic indie rock and shoegaze that immediately brings to mind the likes of JOVM mainstays TV on the Radio and The Veldt as the track is rooted by shimmering guitar chords and synths, a propulsive bass line and Alexander’s achingly tender vocals, which puts a unique sensibility on their genre blurring sound and approach.

New Audio: Mudhoney Releases an Incisive and Furious Single from First Full-length Album in Over 5 Years

Currently comprised of founding members Mark Arm (vocals, rhythm guitar), Steve Turner (lead guitar) and Guy Maddison (bass), along with Dan Peters (drums), who joined the band in 1999, the Seattle, WA-based alt rock/grunge rock band Mudhoney officially formed back in 1988 although the band can trace its origins to the breakup of Green River, a proto-grunge band that at one point featured Alex Vincent (drums), Jeff Ament (bass), Steve Turner, and Stone Gossard (guitar). After releasing two EPs, and several lineup changes, Green River eventually split up with Bruce Fairweather, Gossard and Ament eventually joining Mother Love Bone. Now, if you know your grunge history, you’d know that after Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood died from an overdose, Gossard and Ament went on to form Pearl Jam while Arm and Turner reunited to form Mudhoney.

Mudhoney’s earliest releases through Sub Pop Records — namely “Touch Me I’m Sick” and the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP wound up becoming massively influential with the band being credited as being the godfathers of Seattle’s grunge rock sound, a sound that we all know is generally centered around scuzzy, distortion pedal heavy power chords. But despite their towering influence on alt rock, the band has never really seen much commercial success — although Nirvana covered Mudhoney during their legendary Unplugged, filmed and recorded a few weeks before Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

Slated for a September 28, 2018 through their longtime label home, the beloved Pacific Northwest-based grunge legends tenth full-length album Digital Garbage is reportedly, one of the band’s most sociopolitically incisive and blistering albums they’ve recorded; in fact, Digital Garbage’s first single “Paranoid Core” captures the distrust of experts and facts, the rampant fear-mongering and emotional exploitation and the very primal, lizard brained instinctual response that rules our current zeitgeist. And its all centered around boozy, old school punk rock guitar chords, a propulsive back beat and bass line. Western civilization and American democracy are about to collapse before our very eyes but goddamn it, there’s at least rock ‘n’ roll.

 

Led by Makara Bianco and featuring production from prolific French producer débruit, KOKOKO! is a pioneering Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective inspired by a growing spirit of protest and unrest among Kinshasa’s young people. Unsurprisingly, these young people, much like young people everywhere have begun to openly question centuries-old norms and taboos, and have openly begun to denounce a society that they’ve perceived as being paralyzed by fear — namely, the fear of inclusiveness and change. And they’ve begun to do so with an fearless, in-your-face, almost punk rock-like attitude. In fact, the collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! with the collective viewing themselves as the sound of a new generation boldly, loudly and defiantly banging on the doors and walls, yelling “OUR TIME IS NOW!”

I’ve written quite a bit about the collective, and as you may know, the collective’s members operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instruments from recycled junk, flotsam and jetsam and claptrap. They even built a recording studio out of old mattresses, found wound and a ping pong table. Fueled by the underlying notion that desperate survival fuels creativity, the collective exploded into the international scene with their debut EP Tokoliana an urgent, forward-thinking, avant-grade-like effort centered around a sound that nods at disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and traditional regional music — from a sweaty and grimy, post-apocalyptic future in which the ghetto and club are one and the same. It was arguably one of the most unique and exciting debuts I’ve come across in some time and unsurprisingly as a result, EP single and title track “Tokoliana” was one of my favorite singles last year.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Congolese collective’s TONGOS’A EP was released last year, and the EP found the members of the collective further exploring themes of survival within the desperate and uneasy sociopolitical climate of their homeland — sometimes being forced to focused on small, deeply human pleasures and concerns. TONGOS’A‘s first single, EP title track “Tongos’a” (which translates roughly into “’til the morning light” in English)” was a sweaty, sultry and raunchy banger, centered around skittering drum programming and African percussion which helped to further cement the song’s overall theme — the necessity of getting good sex.

“Azo Toke,” the Congolese collective’s first single of 2018 features a production consisting of explosive blasts of static and feedback, tribal percussion, thumping and stuttering, tweeter and woofer beats, glitchy bursts of synth, throbbing low end, call and response vocals and subtly shifting moods and tempos — and while seemingly post apocalyptic, the track will further cement the act’s inventive approach to dance music, in which they seamlessly mesh African traditions with forward-thinking, hyper modern production.

 

 

Currently comprised of founding member Austin North (vocals, guitar) with Cecilia Otero (bass) and Josh Mendoza (drums), the El Paso, TX-based indie rock/dream pop trio Sleepspent can trace their origins back to when it founding member returned from school in San Diego and started the band with friend and co-writer Aaron Quintalla. Although they’ve gone through a lineup change that has the band as a trio, since their formation, the members of Sleepspent have quickly become one of El Paso’s best, up-and-coming bands; in fact, locally they’ve become one of the area’s go-to bands, opening for a variety of nationally recognized touring bands. And from “Come Smile With Me,” off the El Paso-based band’s Chris Common-produced debut EP It’s Better If You Don’t Speak Or Think, released earlier this year through Slow Start Records, the young band specializes in a sound that draws from shoegaze, dream pop and indie rock. “That can be heard in the alternate tunings used throughout our music as well as the melodic chord progressions and melodies,” the band’s Austin North says in press notes.
Although sonically speaking some of my colleagues may describe the band’s sound as being reminiscent of The Cure and The Smiths, the band’s sound bit reminds me of Forever So and Ruckers Hill-era Husky as the young Texans walk a difficult tightrope between technical craft and earnest emotionality.
The band is currently in the middle of their first tour. Check out the remaining tour dates below.
Tour Dates 
07/09/2018:  Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlie’s
07/12/2018: Memphis, TN @ Sounds Good Memphis
07/13/2018: Nashville, TN @ Drifters BBQ
07/14/2018: Cincinnati, OH @ The Comet
07/16/2018: Minneapolis, MN @ Char Bar
07/17/2018: Omaha, NE @ B Bar
07/18/2018: Tulsa, OK @ Soundpony
07/19/2018: Wichita, KS @ Kirby’s Beer Store
07/21/2018: Norman, OK @ Red Brick Bar
07/22/2018: Albuquerque, NM @ Moonlight Lounge

Currently comprised of founding trio Jack Lantern (vocals), James Burgess (guitar), and Tom Pitts (guitar) with new additions Victor Jakeman (bass), Tom Pitt (drums) and Sev Black (keys), the London-based punk act Claw Marks can trace their origins to when its founding trio were in Austin, TX for SXSW with different bands back in 2013 — Lantern and Pitts were members of Human Hair, while Burgess was a member of Boneyards. As the story goes, Lantern, Burgess and Pitts got lost waling down a highway in the Texan desert when they came to the realization that they wanted to make something much more aggressive, that would channel the likes of Swans and The Birthday Party, but while maintaining the pop sensibility that won Human Hair attention. Ultimately, they felt the need to prove that you can make records that could sound like The Jesus Lizard or The Pop Group — without taking yourself too seriously.

For several years, the band primarily existed as a live outfit, playing raucous, riotous shows across their native London — including a memorable 3am first gig at an abandoned pub. “It was my birthday, and intoxicants may have been involved,” the band’s Jack Lantern recalls. “The show cemented us as a band, because we were playing in the confines of a place that was so similar to the spine of what we were trying to put across. The place was dilapidated, the walls were falling down, and when we started playing, the ceiling started shaking, and dust was raining down on us. And then somebody let off a fire extinguisher halfway through the set, and we were covered in dust and foam.”

With the addition of Jakeman, Pitt and Black, the band continued to develop their overall aesthetic, balancing a chaotic live, stage presence with very specific ideas about lyrical imagery and content. “It’s abotu putting weird images to song,” Lantern, who is also a poet says in press notes. “Usually, they’re a bit disgusting – an armpit full of lice, for example. Or a crab covering your arsehole and stopping anybody from trying to climb in there. We’ve got one song about evil, silent cops staring us down while rubbing their truncheons in their mouths. You know, that kind of thing.”

However, their debut album together has taken five years to write and record — with some of the songs dating back to when the band first started. The members of the band kept returning to East London’s Sound Savers Studio, where they were afforded time and space by co-owner Henry Withers, who was a former bandmate of Lantern’s, to continually refine the material, and eventually their overall sound. In fact, every time they returned, the songs evolved in a rather unpredictable fashion. “I’ve been telling people that the album aged like a fine wine, because it took so long to come together,” Lantern says. “But actually, I’d liken it more now to a slab of rotten meat. We allowed it to fester, and every time we came back to it, there’d be more flies buzzing around it, and this new form of bacteria growing on the chords.”

Ultimately, Claw Marks long-anticipated full-length album Hee Hee reportedly is an unapologetically and nasty collection of punk rock songs that thematically speaking range from the absurd to the political — but much like Tom Waits, the songs having a fucked up, off-kilter, whiskey-fueled vibe. “Swallow U,” Hee Hee‘s latest single is noisy and furious punk rock centered around distortion bathed guitar chords, forceful drumming and howled lyrics and while sonically, the song brings to mind Rollins Band‘s Weight and Get Some Go Again but with an absurdist bent, as the song according to the band is literally about a man who walks down the street, eating everything in his path. What makes the track intriguing to me is the fact that it effortlessly meshes art rock with furious, mosh pit friendly punk.

 

Currently comprised of founding member and frtonwoman Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With the release of a handful of singles, the band’s profile rapidly rose — and it resulted in a relentless touring schedule with an increasing amount of time spent on the road. Although the band found their groove, the stress was way too much and the band went through the first of many lineup changes that found Carol continuing onward with a series of session musicians.

Despite the lineup changes, the band eventually found themselves becoming buzz worthy, playing bigger clubs; however, for the Valley Queen’s founder and frontwoman, the chemistry that she had felt and began to depend on to create and perform was missing. They landed a record deal — a dream that countless bands desperately wish to achieve; but as Carol began to recognize, the band was much more than her concentrating on writing lyrics while session musicians were being paid to play and record the material as directed. What she had long desired was for the band to be what it originally was about — the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.

As the story goes, before writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced, soon-to-be released full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Shawn Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best CoastFool’s GoldNikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production that focus on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians’ performances. And for the members of Valley Queen, the experience writing and recording was ultimately about the collective exploring and creating together. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year I wrote about album title track “Supergiant,” and the album’s latest single “Chasing the Muse” continues in a similar vein — 70s AM rock inspired indie rock with an earnest emotional heft that comes from living a full and messy life, complete with its frustrations, crushing defeats and small victories. Ultimately, both tracks are centered around Carol’s powerhouse Linda Ronstadt-like vocals, a deliberate attention to craft and some exceptional and passionate musicianship.

Valley Queen will be touring to support their new effort and the initial batch of tour dates are below.

VALLEY QUEEN TOUR DATES

July 5-8 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival

July 28 Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
August 01 San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord
August 02 Davis, CA – Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
August 03-05 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
August 07 Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
August 08 Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
August 09 Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
August 11 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
August 12 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
August 15 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew

With the release of last year’s Noelle and The Filthy No-Nos, the New York-born, New Orleans-based singer/songwriter and keyboardist  Noelle Tannen quickly developed a reputation for a unique approach to singer/songwriter soul that draws from old school soul, neo-soul, jazz, blues, indie rock and gospel. “Proof,” Tannen’s latest single continues in a similar vein as her previously released work: effortlessly soulful material centered around her self-assured and sultry vocals and an arrangement featuring shimmering blasts of keys, a sinuous bass line, shuffling jazz-like drumming, gorgeous horn arrangement and an infectious, radio friendly hook — within an expansive song structure in which you’ll hear temp changes and key changes throughout. Arguably, this track may be the most straightforward song in their growing profile; but paired with a powerful and uplifting message.

As Tannen explained to Live for Live Music, “”Proof’ is a song about the constant struggle many women face of having to Prove ourselves and work extra hard just for people to take us seriously,” Tannen shares. “It’s about how exhausting that struggle can be. However, the song is supposed to portray a motivational message. Let’s keep on working hard, but while doing so, not to forget about the beauty of life and the earnestness in creation. Let’s not allow the haters to get in the way! We got this ladies.”

Last year, I wrote about the Vancouver, BC experimental pop/electro pop act I M U R, and as you may recall, that with the release of 2015’s debut EP Slow Dive, the Canadian trio,  which is comprised of Jenny Lea (vocals, keys), Mikey J. Blige (live production, guitar) and Amine Bouzaher (electric violin, bass) have received attention in Vancouver’s underground scene and elsewhere for a sound that draws from 90s R&B, 90s soul, contemporary electro pop in a rather unique fashion. Interestingly, that EP at one point landed at #5 on Spotify Global Viral Charts.

Building upon a growing profile, the Vancouver-based pop trio has received attention and praise from a number of national and internally known media outlets, including Vice NoiseyExclaim!, Hiphop Canada, Beatroute Magazine and Winniecooper.net, who listed the trio as one of Vancouver’s Top Acts to watching out for in 2016. They’ve also played at a number of festivals across their native Canada such as  Shambhala Music Festival, World Ski and Snowboard Festival,Astral Harvest, Center of Gravity and Rifflandia.

Last year, the members of I M U R released their full-length debut Little Death, and the album further cemented their reputation for crafting material that thematically explores and focuses on extremely dark subjects — namely drugs, booze and sex, as well as the prototypical pop themes of heartache, resiliency and intimacy with a fearless lack of inhibition. Interestingly, the slow-burning “Miss You, Hate You” the first single off the trio’s forthcoming THIRTY33 EP is a deeply intimate account of Jenny Lea’s personal struggles with addition rooted around the duality of her life — both as an addict and as a former addict. As Lea explains, “This was a very important but difficult song for me to write. I’m opening up about a very private part of my life in hopes to connect with others that might be struggling, and to let them know that they’re not alone.”

As the trio mentions via email, the track was self-recorded in the bedroom of their temporary Montreal apartment last spring, and sonically the track is centered around a sparse production consisting of shuffling beats, swirling and undulating electronics paired with Lea’s sultry jazzy and confessional delivery; in some way, the song is late night secret, whispered among friends or lovers — with the understanding that while it won’t get out of that room, that it’ll make you much closer.

Throughout the bulk of this site’s 8 year history, I’ve written quite a bit about JOVM mainstay David Alexander, an internationally renowned Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, and as you know with his solo electro pop/dream pop recording project Summer Heart has received attention across the blogosphere for a sound that at points has been compared to CaribouWashed OutIn Ghost Colours-era Cut CopyPainted Palms and others. Additionally, Alexander has been considered among the first wave of Sweden’s contemporary electro pop and dream pop movement along with the likes of MoonbabiesThe Land BelowHey ElbowBlind Lake and Emerald Park.
With his 12 Songs ofSummer, Alexander adds his name to an increasing number of artists, who have adopted a single of the month series over the past couple of years, and as you can imagine doing so manages to make a helluva lot of sense creatively, financially, and marketing-wise in the blogosphere age. Creatively speaking, the artist isn’t constrained by having the pressure of writing material with a  cohesive style or theme in mind, as they would if they were writing for an EP or a full-length album; however, in order for the concept to work, they are required to come up with material within relatively strict and regularly occurring deadlines. Financially, independent artists, who may be struggling to find ways to fund their efforts to record and tour, can put out material quickly — and in the blogosphere age, it can ensure that the artist can receive some sort of attention over the course of year, outside of the album cycle. As Alexander explained in press notes, “The idea behind this project is to show people what I am currently working on instead of what I was doing two years ago, which can be the case when you release an album. It’s definitely a way of challenging myself, thinking less and having more fun creating music!”
“Aftershock,” the latest single in the 12 Songs of Summer project is a swaggering and flirty single centered around Alexander’s falsetto which for this song takes on a smooth jazz-like quality paired with shuffling drum programming and twinkling synths to create a song that evokes silk sheets on naked skin, of making love on an early summer morning with the windows open to let in a soft breeze. Arguably, it’s one of Alexander’s sultriest songs to date.