Tag: The Blank Tapes

New Audio: Pearl Charles Releases a Pop Confection with a Dark Undertone

Pearl Charles is a rising, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has been playing music since she was five. When she was 18, she formed the country duo The Driftwood Singers with Christian Lee Hutson, contributing vocals, guitar and autoharp. By the time Charles turned 22, she joined The Blank Tapes, playing drums.

After a handful of years in which she fully immersed herself in the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. she decided it was time to pursue a solo career, and she began writing the material that would eventually comprise 2015’s self-titled debut EP and 2017’s full-length debut — both of which were released through Kanine Records. Building upon a growing profile, Charles toured internationally and nationally as an headliner and as an opener, sharing stages with Best Coast, Sunflower Bean, Mac Demarco, Conor Oberst and others. The Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has also played across the national festival circuit with stops at Austin City Limits, Huichica, and Desert Daze.

Interestingly, Charles’ work can be seen as a sort of chronological progression in which she has played and written 60s garage rock and psych rock — and most recently 70s pop country and AM radio rock. Drawn to catch pop hooks and choruses, the Los Angeles-based artist’s work generally draws on what she has loved about each era’s sound and approach while developing a unique take and voice.

Slated for a January 15, 2020 release through Charles’ long-time label home, Magic Mirror is a reflective album that follows a woman that has lived a full and occasionally messy life, gaining self-reflection and wisdom through the natural progression of love and heartache — and eventually finding new love as a result.

“Imposter,” Magic Mirror’s second and latest single is a breezy bit of AM radio rock centered around twinkling Rhodes, a blue-eyed soul-inspired horn line, a sinuous bass line, Charles’ gorgeous vocals and an infectious, hook. And while the song may seem like a breezy and sun-dappled, pop confection, the song has a darkness that lurks just below the surface — if you pay close attention.

“On the surface ‘Imposter’ sounds like a sun-soaked day,” Pearl Charles explains, ” but there is a darkness that lurks beneath. An experience reminiscent of Ram Dass’ first trip in Be Here Now, ‘Imposter’ tells the story of someone wrestling with their larger cosmic identity beyond the human form and deals with the general idea of ‘Imposter Syndrome’, feeling like a fraud despite your qualifications and accomplishments, which many professional women struggle with.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain Offer Empathy as a Weapon of The Resistance

Currently comprised of founding member Will Halsey (vocals, drums), Ash Reiter (vocals, guitar), Sean Olmsted (guitar, synth) and Jeff Moller (bass), the Oakland, CA-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain can trace its origins to when Halsey, who had had stints drumming in several different Bay Area-based bands including The Blank Tapes, fpodbpod and Ash Reiter‘s backing band began the project as a bedroom recording project in which he initially wrote songs in the vein of of Montreal and The Beach Boys. Shortly after Halsey began the project, he recruited Ash Reiter, and the duo began writings songs together — with the duo writing decidedly psychedelic material, inspired by Reiter’s obsessive collecting of various effects pedals. Since the release of their earlier material, there has been a series of lineup changes with the band adding Olmsted and Moller, as its newest members, allowing Halsey to return to drum duties.
 
Sugar Candy Mountain’s latest album Do Right was released earlier this month and the album is deeply influenced by our outrageous and infuriating sociopolitical moment. Written as part travelogue and part response to the moment, the album’s material is also an attempt to offer a much needed balm that says “come on outside and daydream a bit; look at the sky; look at the flowers; enjoy a moment of necessary peace — because it’s so rare.” With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that the band has noted that nature is where they often go to re-calibrate their moral compass, when it’s been frequently upended by the demoralizing and maddening daily news cycle. Sonically speaking, Do Right finds the band retaining elements of the 60s and 70s rock and psych rock inspired sound, centered around Reiter’s ethereal vocals; however, the album finds the band adding synths, which will subtly modernizing their sound also gives it a slightly retro-futuristic sound similar to
Pavo Pavo and Drakkar Nowhere.
 
Now, as you may recall album single “Split in Two” was a hazy and mesmerizing track in which the band invites the listener to join them as they had to a quiet, beautiful place to escape this mad, mad, mad, mad world. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Mar-a-Lago” as the band’s Reiter explains in press notes was written from the perspective of a Trump supporter, of someone who feels voiceless and vaguely unsatisfied with life and who desperately wants to matter, to belong to something bigger than themselves, to be lead by someone who can get them what they think they need in their lives — and as a result, it’s arguably one of the more empathetic portrayals of desperately lost, desperately stupid people I’ve heard in some time, as it suggests that desperation the Trump supporter has felt is a familiar one. 
 
Directed by Arsenii Vaselenko, the recently released video for “Mar-a-Lago” features the band’s Reiter and Halsey dressed as astronauts (sort of), and playing in front of psychedelic-tinged visuals.
 
 
 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain Return with a Slow-burning and Contemplative Ode to Escaping an Anxious and Uncertain World

Currently comprised of founding member Will Halsey (vocals, drums), Ash Reiter (vocals, guitar), Sean Olmsted (guitar, synth) and Jeff Moller (bass), the Oakland, CA-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays Sugar Candy Mountain can trace its origins to when Halsey, who had had stints drumming in several different Bay Area-based bands including The Blank Tapes, fpodbpod and Ash Reiter‘s backing band began the project as a bedroom recording project in which he initially wrote songs in the vein of of Montreal and The Beach Boys. Shortly after Halsey began the project, he recruited Ash Reiter, and the duo began writings songs together — with the duo writing decidedly psychedelic material, inspired by Reiter’s obsessive collecting of various effects pedals. Now, up until recently some time had passed since I had personally written about the act, and in that time, there has been a series of lineup changes with the band adding its newest members Olmsted and Moller, allowing Halsey to return to drums.
 
Slated for a May 4, 2018 release, Sugar Candy Mountain’s newest album Do Right is deeply inspired by our current, anxious and uncertain sociopolitical moment and is written as part travelogue and part response, while attempting to offer a much needed balm; in fact, the band has noted that nature is often where the band goes to re-calibrate their moral compass when it’s been frequently upended by the infuriating and demoralizing daily news cycle.
 
Sonically speaking the material on Do Right finds the band retaining the 60s and 70s rock inspired sound that first captured the attention of the blogosphere, centered around Reiter’s ethereal vocals; however, the new album finds them adding synths, which while subtly modernizing their sound, also manages to add an increasingly ethereal quality, similar to the likes of Pavo Pavo and Drakkar Nowhere — but dustier, and as though the gears have slowed to a grinding halt. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Split in Two” is a mesmerizing, hazy and slow-burning track that has the band inviting the listener to join them, and head to a quiet, beautiful place to escape the world as we know it. Perhaps on the other side, there’s something much better than this.
 
The recently released video by TG Eaton features the members of Sugar Candy Mountain playing the song in front of appropriately psychedelic projections, further emphasizing the trippy yet contemplative nature of the song.

Earlier this year you may recall that I wrote about Joshua Tree, CA-based psych rock quartet Sugar Candy Mountain. Comprised of founding member Will Halsey (vocals, guitar), Ash Reiter (vocals, guitar), The Beehavers‘ Bryant Dennison (guitar) and The Electric Magpie‘s Peter Maffei (bass), the psych rock quartet can trace their origins to when Halsey, who has had stints as a drummer in renowned Bay Area-based bands like The Blank Tapesfpodbpod and Ash Reiter‘s backing band, began the project as a bedroom recording project in which Halsey initially wrong songs in the vein of of Montreal and The Beach Boys. Shortly after Halsey began the project, Reiter joined him and the duo began writing songs together. And interestingly enough, there was a brief period in which they experimented with electro pop songs before they had gone on a decidedly psychedelic direction after Reiter had started obsessively collecting effects pedals. Denison, who also was a bassist and former bandmate in Ash Reiter’s backing band with Reiter and Halsey, joined on as a guitarist (which was interestingly enough, his first instrument).

The band’s recently released album 666, the Joshua Tree, CA-based quartet will further cement their burgeoning reputation for a sound that has been described as being indebted to Jacco GardnerTame Impala and the classic psych rock sounds of 60s Laurel Canyon. The album’s first single, album title track “666” possessed an uncanny attention o dreamy melody with the band pairing Reiter’s gorgeous and chilly crooning with gently fuzzy guitar chords, soaring and ethereal organ chords with gentle almost minimalist drumming. Yes, it sounds as though it could have been  was recently discovered in a used record store — perhaps one like Last Vestige in Albany — but with a subtly modern production sheen. 666‘s latest single “Windows” is a slow-burning and contemplative track that features some gorgeously shimmering guitar work, gently padded drumming and jazz-like xylophone with Reiter’s ethereal vocals floating through a mix that will further cement the band’s burgeoning reputation for a classic psych sound straight out of 1966.

Comprised of founding member Will Halsey (vocals, guitar), Ash Reiter (vocals, guitar), The Beehavers‘ Bryant Dennison (guitar) and The Electric Magpie‘s Peter Maffei (bass), Joshua Tree, CA-based psych rock quartet Sugar Candy Mountain can trace its origins to when Halsey, who has had stints as a drummer in renowned Bay Area-based bands like The Blank Tapes, fpodbpod and Ash Reiter, began the project as a bedroom recording project in which Halsey initially wrong songs in the vein of of Montreal and The Beach Boys. Shortly after Halsey had started Sugar Candy Mountain, Reiter had joined him and the duo began co-writing songs. Interestingly, there was a brief period in which they wrote electro pop songs — before they had gone on a decidedly psychedelic direction when Reiter had started obsessively collecting effects pedals. Denison, who also was a bassist and former bandmate in Ash Reiter with Reiter and Halsey, joined on as a guitarist (which was interestingly enough, his first instrument).

With the band’s forthcoming album 666, the Joshua Tree, CA-based quartet will further cement their burgeoning reputation for a sound that has been described as being indebted to Jacco Gardner, Tame Impala and the classic psych rock sounds of 60s Laurel Canyon — as you’ll hear on album title track “666,” a single that also possesses an uncanny attention to dreamy melody as the band pairs Reiter’s gorgeous and chilly crooning with gently fuzzy guitar chords, soaring and ethereal organ chords with gentle almost minimalist drumming. Yes, it sounds as though it could have been written and recorded in 1966 and was recently discovered in a used record store — perhaps one like Last Vestige in Albany — but with a subtly modern production sheen.