Tag: The Postal Service

Back in 2014, keyboardist Ryan Neighbors left his full-time gig with acclaimed indie act Portugal. The Man to pursue his on creative pursuits — namely, his latest electro pop project Hustle and Drone with collaborator Andy Black. With the release of that year’s debut Holyland, the duo built up a profile across the Pacific Northwest, eventually playing the region’s major venues and selling them out. Building upon a growing profile, the band toured across Europe.

Once the dust settled, the duo returned to woodshedding material, confident that they’d craft a competent and worthy follow-up. As the story goes, Neighbors and Black wrote material and flew out their producer Sonny DiPerri to Portland to dig into what they had just finished. DiPerri’s response wasn’t what the duo was prepared to hear. “He asked, If you didn’t write this, would you listen to it?” Neighbors recalls in press notes. “We thought he was flying out to Portland for us to put the finishing touches on our record, but then he told us we needed to start from the beginning. I was pissed.”

As it turned out, DiPerri felt that the material the duo had worked on was inauthentic and that it didn’t mirror the pain and the dark places he saw in Neighbors’ and Black’s life. So he pushed them to identity and dig deeper into something much more representative of where the duo actually was at the time. “He knows me well, so he was also well aware that I wasn’t really in a happy place and had been struggling with depression,” explains Neighbors. “He wanted those feelings to bleed out through the songs; we aren’t trying to be a fun dance band.”

Neighbors and Black started over from scratch, learning new synths and software and dug into new sample libraries. The tough love DiPerri gave them began to yield a dark and cathartic collection of songs, which after more refining and polishing would eventually become their forthcoming sophomore album What An Uproar, an effort that was finished in the remote town of Talkeetna, AK. The solitude of the town, contributed heavily to the focus with which the band took on the finishing touches of the record.

With Holyland, Neighbors and a former writing partner “would kind of operate in a ‘well that’s pretty cool’ type of recording process,” Neighbors recalls. “With Uproar we would say ‘well that’s pretty cool, how can we make it better. Okay, we just made it better; how can we make it perfect? It was a huge change in approach.”

Uproar isn’t as accessible to the average listener as Holyland, but it is the record we wanted to make, and it is a true expression of where we are as artists,” Neighbors explains in press notes. “The atmosphere of What An Uproar is a direct result of us freeing ourselves to make the music we truly wanted to make, not necessarily the music that was expected from us,” Black adds. “If we found ourselves wading into waters that felt vulnerable and uncomfortable, then we knew we were being honest and on the right track. The vulnerability in trying to be as authentic as possible is always scary but being honest and upfront was what we wanted to accomplish.”

Sonically and stylistically, What An Uproar is a departure from the duo’s debut effort, which was a dance floor friendly batch of material. The soon-to-be released sophomore album is centered around Neighbors’ introspective lyrics about anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse and broken relationships — while sonically, the material reportedly recalls Joy Division, Nine Inch Nails and The Faint. “I have always hid behind vocal effects and vague lyrics to mask what the songs are really about,” Neighbors explains. “Not this time. A lot of the lyrical content is about anxiety and depression. Too much boozing and a broken relationship. For a long time I wasn’t trying to feel better and just accentuating what I was going through. I wrote all of these songs while I was still sitting in that dark place.”

“Stranger,” What An Uproar‘s latest single is centered around thumping, industrial-like beats, shimmering synth arpeggios, Neighbors plaintive vocals and a dance floor friendly hook — but interestingly, the track recalls Violator-era Depeche Mode and The Postal Service, while being full of slow-burning dread and anxiety.

 

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Laura Burhenn is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, activist and restless creative mastermind behind The Mynabirds, an act that has released four critically applauded and stylistically different albums through Saddle Creek Records — 2010’s What Was Lose in the Fire, 2012’s Generals. 2015’s Lovers Know and 2017’s Be Here Now. Burhenn also had had stints as a touring member of critically applauded and commercially successful acts The Postal Service and Bright Eyes. Burhenn has helped found Omaha Girls Rock, a non-profit that helps young girls find their creative voices — and she has given a TED talk based on her New Revolutionist photo project, which explored what it meant to be a revolutionary woman in this day and age. (Before all of that Burhenn was a member of Washington, DC-based indie act Georgie James with Q and Not U’s John Davis and released two-self produced solo albums through the label she founded, Laboratory Records.)

Interestingly, this year marks the 25th anniversary of Portishead‘s classic debut Dummy, an album that was highly-influential to Burhenn. “Dummy was my all-time favorite make-out record in high school and is in my permanent top ten, period,” Laura Burhenn says in press notes. To celebrate the occasion, The Mynabirds’ creative mastermind recently released a Patrick Damphier-produced cover of “Glory Box” that retains the original’s slow-burning and sultry nature and quietly defiant feminism — but while giving it a subtle, old-school country vibe. “That Beth Gibbons slid that feminist anthem into my teenage brain — that song completely rewired me.” Certainly, when women’s rights are being edged backwards, the song and its refrain “I just want to be a woman” would have to feel more powerfully necessary than ever before.

The track was released through Our Secret Handshake, a womxn-driven, women-focused creative strategy collective that Burhenn co-founded last year. A portion of the proceeds from the single will benefit Omaha Girls Rock.

 

New Video: Travel the World with Up-and-Coming Ukrainian Indie Rock Act and New JOVM Mainstays Indytronics

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Kiev, Ukraine-based indie rock/post punk band Indytronics. And as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of founding members Danil Bogadenko (guitar, vocals) and Vitaliy Koutsiuk (bass) with Ruslan Dobrov (drums) and Denys Rybchenko (guitar, backing vocals) can trace their origins to when its founding members were traveling across Europe, and while in Stockholm, Sweden, the duo came across a number of street musicians, who were playing music with an interesting and very melodic indie the rock. According to the members of the band, its founding duo were so impressed by Stockholm’s street musicians that decided that they needed to start their own band when they returned home. 

Since the band’s formation in 2012, the band has released their 2013 debut EP Vision and their 2015 full-length debut Scintilla Wave and and as a result, they’ve developed a growing profile both nationally and internationally as they’ve made a number of live appearances on several Ukrainian TV shows and have received regular radio rotation on Ukrainian Radio Roks, Europa Plus, HotMix Radio, WCSF Radio German CTdasradio and others. Along with that, they’ve been written up in the British music magazine Huck and their music has been used for fashion shows aired on the international TV channel IDFashion throughout the US, Ukraine, Italy, Austria and France. 

While “Savannah Only Temple” was slickly produced indie rock that may remind listeners of  Narrow Stairs-era Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service’s Give Up and Snow Patrol, thanks in part to a rousingly arena friendly hook, its follow-up “Shark” found the band pushing their sound more towards electronic rock but with some of their most ambitious songwriting they’ve released to date. Their latest single “Alien Sun” finds the band at their most atmospheric while retaining their arena friendly hooks — and although the song will further cement their growing reputation for crafting crowd pleasing Death Cab for Cutie/The Postal Service/Snow Patrol-like indie rock, bolstered by an uncanny self-assuredness and earnestness of purpose. 

As the band wrote to me, they have a dream of playing concerts across

New Audio: Kiev Ukraine’s Indytronics Returns with a Rousingly Anthemic New Single

Last week, I wrote about the Kiev, Ukraine-based indie rock/post punk band Indytronics. Comprised of Danil Bogadenko (guitar, vocals), Vitaliy Koutsiuk (bass), Ruslan Dobrov (drums) and Denys Rybchenko (guitar, backing vocals), the Ukrainian quartet can trace their origins to when Bogadenko and Rybchenko were touring across Europe, and while in  Stockholm, Sweden the duo came across street musicians, who were playing an interesting melodic indie rock-leaning vibe. And as the story goes, the duo were so impressed by this particular group of street musicians that they decided that they needed to start their own band when they returned home to Kiev. 
Since the band’s formation in 2012, the band has released their 2013 debut EP Vision and their 2015 full-length debut Scintilla Wave and and as a result, they’ve developed a growing profile both nationally and internationally. They’ve made live appearances on several Ukrainian TV shows and have received regular radio rotation on Ukrainian Radio Roks, Europa Plus, HotMix Radio, WCSF Radio German CTdasradio and others. Along with that, they’ve been written up in the British music magazine Huck and their music has been used for fashion shows aired on the international TV channel IDFashion throughout the US, Ukraine, Italy, Austria and France.

Now, as you may recall “Savannah Only Temple” was a slickly produced indie rock and post-punk track that to my ears reminded me quite a bit of Narrow Stairs-era Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service’s Give Up and Snow Patrol, complete with a rousing arena rock-friendly hook. And while clearly nodding at 00s indie rock and post punk, as well as retaining the arena friendly sound of their preceding single, the track finds the band expanding upon the sound that first won them attention on this site and elsewhere, as the song finds the band nodding at electronic rock; but perhaps most important, is that the new single reveals some ambitious songwriting as they pair anthemic hooks around a twisting and turning song structure. 

New Video: Indytronics’ “Savannah Only Temple” Video Captures the Lives of Kiev’s Kids

Comprised of Danil Bogadenko (guitar, vocals), Vitaliy Koutsiuk (bass), Ruslan Dobrov (drums) and Denys Rybchenko (guitar, backing vocals), the Kiev, Ukraine-based indie rock/post band Indytronics can trace their origins to when Bogandenko and Rybchenko were touring across Europe, and while in Stockholm, Sweden the duo came across street musicians, who were playing an interesting melodic indie rock-leaning vibe. And as the story goes, Bogandenko and Rybchenko were so impressed by this particular band and by several other bands that they decided to start their own band when they returned to Kiev. 

Since their formation in 2012, the members of Indytronics have released their 2013 debut EP Vision and their 2015 full-length debut Scintilla Wave and they’ve developed a growing profile both nationally and internationally; in fact, they’ve made live appearances on several Ukrainian TV shows and have received regular rotation on Ukrainian Radio Roks, Europa Plus, HotMix Radio, WCSF Radio German CTdasradio and others. Along with that, they’ve been written up in the British music magazine Huck and their music has been used for fashion shows aired on the international TV channel IDFashion throughout the US, Ukraine, Italy, Austria and France. 

Now, as you can imagine I receive quite a bit of emails from a publicists, publicity firms, band managers, record labels, bands and artists from increasingly far-flung places these days, and as the band explained in their email to me, their latest single and video “Savannah Only Temple,” everyone has their own temple, and it can anything.  And while clearly drawing from indie rock and post-punk the band’s sound is an incredibly slick and contemporary take that to my ears reminds me a bit of Narrow Stairs-era Death Cab for Cutie, The Postal Service’s Give Up and Snow Patrol, complete with a rousingly anthemic arena rock-friendly hook and a subtly wistful vibe. 

The recently released video for the song features the Ukrainian quartet performing the song in an empty pool that local kids have repurposed for their skateboarding, and the band broodingly walking around a school’s athletic field. And while being a glimpse of Kiev’s kids, it suggests something far larger — cultural differences withstanding, kids everywhere are almost exactly alike. By watching these kids, you should see yourself at their age, goofing off and planning adventures with friends, having enormous dreams of making someone of yourself, of having crushes on the kid next door or the kid in your Chemistry class.