Earlier this year, I wrote about the Seattle-based quartet Versing, which is comprised of Daniel Salas, Graham Baker, Kirby Lochner and Max Keyes, and as you may recall the act’s highly-anticipated full-length debut 1000 through Hardly […]
Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk act and JOVM mainstay Sextile, and as you may recall the act which was formed back in 2015, earned a devout following as a result of an explosive live show and non-stop touring as an opener and as a headliner with the likes of fellow JOVM mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Soft Moon, Ought, ADULT., The Chameleons, Modern English and others. Building upon a growing profile, the act has made appearances across the national festival circuit with sets at Bersekertown, Cloak & Dagger and Levitation.
During that same period, the act went through a massive lineup change that found the band writing, recording and performing as a duo featuring founding member Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. And naturally, as a result of those lineup changes, the remaining members radically reinvented their sound — moving towards a synth-based sound with minimal use of guitar; in fact, on EP3, the Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstays last bit of recorded output before their indefinite hiatus, Keehn and Scaduto use a KORG MS-10 sequencer, a Fender Stratocaster, a LinnDrum and various other percussion-based instruments to craft a decidedly 80s industrial synth sound. “Hazing,” EP3’s latest single continues in a similar vein as its predecessors as its centered around a motorik groove, arpeggiated synths and clang and clatter — and while continuing a string of singles that sound indebted to Substance-era New Order.
Directed by Gabriel Francez, the recently released video for “Hazing” is a tense and lysergic fever dream, focused entirely on the subconscious desires of its subjects. “The video is about a dream. The idea was to represent the blurriness of it, where all of the perception is altered and images come one after the other,” Francez explains in press notes. “I imagined the dream being divided into three main levels separated by the red door, representing for the boy character a sign of escape. In each room he finds himself stuck in this surrealistic thriller and look desperately for the exit as the characters try to keep him in this crazy hallucination. It’s an odyssey within the dream where the character is tested by his subconscious.”
Comprised of Daniel Salas, Graham Baker, Kirby Lochner and Max Keyes, the Seattle-based quartet Versing will be releasing their full-length debut 1000 through Hardly Art Records on May 3, 2019 and the album’s latest single, the woozy “Offering” is centered around whirring feedback, pummeling drumming and an infectious pop-leaning hooks. And while reminding me a bit of Nirvana’s “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter,” and Thee Oh Sees, the song as the band’s Daniel Salas explains in press notes is ” a fantastical song about traveling through a mystical portal to stop an encroaching force of evil, and the feedback is like the whirring sound the portal makes. Really it’s about making the ultimate sacrifice for the benefit of others, and thinking about what you’d want to be remembered for after you die.”
Led by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Ambrose Kenny-Smith and featuring Kenny-Smith’s bandmate Cook Craig, as well as Cal Shortal, Matt Blach and Tim Karmouche, The Murlocs specialize in a fuzzy and distorted psych blues. In their native Australia, they’ve played across their homeland’s festival circuit and have opened for the likes of internationally acclaimed acts like Gary Clark, Jr., Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Pixies, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, Wavves and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.
Building upon a growing profile, the Aussie quintet’s forthcoming Stu Mackenzie-produced third full-length effort, Manic Candid Episode is slated for a March 22, 2019 release through Flightless Records. The album’s second and latest single “Withstand” is a swaggering and strutting blues ripper that nods at classic glam rock, complete with rousingly anthemic, shout-along worthy hooks, explosive blasts of harmonica and big, distortion-filled power chords. Sonically, the track — to my ears, at least — brings T. Rex, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and King Bee-era Muddy Waters to my mind but with a lysergic haze. Fittingly, the Alex McLaren-created video for the song draws from classic 60s and 70s rock promotional videos, as it features the members of The Murlocs performing the song in front of a psychedelic backdrop.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’d know that over the past couple of years of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Madrid, Spain-based indie rock trio The Parrots, and as you may recall, the band are one of the leading members of a collection of Spanish bands, who write lyrics almost exclusive in English; in fact, with the release of “I Did Something Wrong” off their Aden Arabie EP, the Spanish trio received both national and international attention for a boozy and riotous, garage rock/garage psych rock sound that has been compared favorably to Thee Oh Sees, Black Lips, Raccoon Fighter, High Waisted, White Mystery and others.
Back in 2015, NME named the Madrid-based trio as one of SXSW‘s “buzziest bands” and since then the members of The Parrots have been pretty busy: they followed up that year’s SXSW with the release of their critically applauded EP Weed for The Parrots, a critically applauded return to SXSW, which resulted in being signed by renowned indie label Heavenly Recordings, who released their full-length debut Los Ninos Sin Miedos, which featured the shambling and boozy Let’s Do It Again,” and the barn-burning, 60s garage rock-like “A Thousand Ways.” Since then, the band has been working on their much-anticipated sophomore album but they’ve managed to release a one-off single, a shambling, ramshackle, garage rock cover of Latin trap artist Bad Bunny‘s smash hit “Soy Peor,” and as the band explains “We’ve always been big fans of urban music, trap and hip-hop. Not long ago, these styles started to be everywhere again in Spain, and with it we discovered many interesting new acts, both Spanish and Latin American. One of them was Bad Bunny, from Puerto Rico. The first song of his that we listened to was “Soy Peor” and we loved it. Since we started the band, we’ve always liked to cover songs that we like, usually it’s from bands that are more similar to our style — rock ‘n’ roll, punk . . . It’s the first time we picked a song in another style and tried to make it ours. The idea came up in a rehearsal, talking about choosing a new cover for a forthcoming show. People really dug it and a few weeks later we went to Paco Loco’s studio to record it.”
The Spanish band’s latest single “My Love Is Real” is the second official single from the band’s forthcoming sophomore album, and it’s a slow burning, old-timey rock ‘n’ roll ballad that sounds as though it should be played at a high school dance or a high school-era house party; but with a subtly sketchy late night vibe, that evokes the loneliness of of 3am-4am when most of the partiers have gone home, and you are by yourself drinking with your sorrows and regrets. Sonically and thematically, the song suggests the band growing up a bit but while still retaining the scuzz and grit that caught everyone’s attention. “With this in mind, we recorded the song at home and sent it to Tom Furse, he completely got the vibe and helped us create atmosphere we imagined.” Furse adds, “Joe Meek was my point of reference with ‘My Love Is Real’ – I used his guidance via Ouija board for a point of balance between lo-fi scuzz and the naive pop stylings of the song – which ended up with doing things like using the sounds of surf in the drums and doing crazy piano improvisations in the wrong key which I would speed up in the tape machine to get it in tune. My basic tenant was – ‘what would Joe do?”
Directed by Hector Herce, the recently released video for “My Love Is Real” continues an ongoing collaboration between the director and the band, with the video being something of a continuation from the preceding video for “Girl.” As Herce explains “My Love Is Real’ is set in imaginary 90’s. It is a brother video of ‘Girl’, previous single of The Parrots and follows the adventures of a loving trio. It is more metaphorical than narrative and more aesthetic than ethical. Codes that speak of romantic and human relations are hidden on its images.”
Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the Los Angeles, CA-based post-punk act Sextile, and as you may recall since the act’s inception in 2015, they’ve earned a devout following, as a result of an explosive live show and non-stop touring as both as an opener and as a headliner with the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Soft Moon, Ought, ADULT., The Chameleons, Modern English and others. Adding to a growing profile, they’ve also played sets at Bersekertown, Cloak & Dagger and Levitation Festivals.
Interestingly, over that same year period, the act has gone through a massive lineup change that finds the act writing, recording and performing as a duo featuring Brady Keehn and Melissa Scaduto. Naturally, as a result of the lineup changes, Kehn and Scaduto have radically reinvented their sound with a move towards synths with minimal use of guitar; in fact, on their recently released EP, EP3, the duo use a KORG MS-10 sequencer, a Fender Stratocaster, a LinnDrum and various other percussion-based instruments to craft a decidedly industrial synth-based sound. Additionally, the duo cite futurist Luigi Russolo’s The Art of Noises as an influence on their approach, as their sound and songwriting is meant to evoke and mirror the chaos and brutality of the industrial era. EP single “Spun” was centered around explosive squealing bursts of guitar, scorching synths, thumping beats, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik-ike groove, and it some way the song found the band meshing the aesthetics of Gang of Four and classic DFA Records (i.e., early LCD Soundsystem and Echoes-era The Rapture) while hinting a bit at Bay City Rollers‘ “Saturday Night,” thanks to its punchily delivered vocals. “Disco,” EP 3’s latest single may argaubly be the most dance floor friendly song they’ve ever released as it sonically brings Yaz’s “Situation,” New Order’s “Blue Monday” and Ministry to mind, as it’s centered around a production of layers arpeggiated synths, industrial clang and clatter and a motorik groove — but lyrically, as the duo note,t he song’s lyrics focus on the lack of time to do anything productive or constructive, DIY spaces being shut down, gun control and constant media propaganda in a way that evokes our increasingly cynical, paranoid and uncertain world. Civilization as we know it is collapsing before our eyes, and we might as well dance, dance, dance, dance, dance.
Keehn and Scaduto directed the video and as they mention in press notes, visually and aesthetically, the slickly shot black and white treatment was deeply influenced by the New German Wave.
Earlier this summer, I wrote about the Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan, and as you may recall, the band has a unique backstory: Comprised of Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar), the band features one native Swede — Sjöö — while the the other members emigrated from South America. And with the the release of their furious and incendiary full-length debut Caballo Negro, the Stockholm-based quartet quickly received attention for a sound that meshes Latin music — in particular, Latin rhythm, percussion and groove that’s part of the musical and cultural heritage of Serrano, Gonzalez, Amigo and Espiondola — with the blistering garage rock and punk of Thee Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above 1979.
Swedish Cobra, the band’s forthcoming Daniel Bengtson-produced sophomore album is slated for a September 7, 2018 release, and the album reportedly finds the band capturing their raw and raucous live sound on record — with the five bandmembers recording in the same room, live to tape at Bengtson’s Studio Rymden, and with minimal takes and overdubs. As the band’s Michell Serrano says in press notes, “You can hear that on the album. it’s quite raw and very intense.” Interestingly, the material balances blistering fury with an experimental sensibility with the band expanding upon their sound — partially as a result of each individual band member’s role becoming more fluid, and partially through the employment of instrumentation beyond the usual punk rock/garage rock arrangements. “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” Serrano explains. “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”
Lyrically speaking, the album is purportedly the most personal they’ve written to date — and although it’s not overtly political charged, the material does focus on their day-to-day reality, from partying excessively to moments of deep introspection, with each individual member contributing idea. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.
Swedish Cobra‘s first two singles, the furious and swirling psych punk/surf punk “Whiplash” and the mid-tempo, 90s grunge rock-inspired “Two Steps Back,” were urgent and passionate — but to me there was something sobering about the material, especially in light of a heightened age of nationalism, racism and xenophobia. Cultural exchange has inspired new takes on the familiar, new modes of thinking, new foods, new words — and more importantly, deeper empathy and understanding of our neighbors, of those men women and others from far away. Interestingly, “Last Love Supreme,” Swedish Cobra‘s latest single is a swooning mid-tempo ballad with soaring hooks and explosive blasts of feedback that sounds — to my ears at least — as though it drew from mariachi, psych rock and garage rock simultaneously, thanks in part to a classic quiet, loud, quiet song structure.
Certainly, from the album’s first three singles, Swedish Cobra may arguably be one of the year’s most unique, passionate and downright interesting albums, and possibly one of the most necessary of any genre, because it affirms what can happen when diverse people and ideas intermingle and influence each other, and perhaps more important that we should protect and honor the immigrant and what they bring.
The duo of Kehn and Scaduto will be on a lengthy tour to support their new EP. Check out the tour dates below. .
09.14 Newcastle, UK @ Underground
09.15 Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
09.16 Birmingham, UK @ The Cuban Embassy
09.18 London, UK @ Electrowerkz
09.19 Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin
09.20 Portsmouth, UK @ The Edge Of The Wedge
09.21 Le Havre, FR @ Mc Daids
09.22 Angers, FR @ Levitation Festival
09.23 Lyon, FR @ Le Farmer
09.24 Limoges, FR @ El doggo
09.25 Landgraaf, NL @ Oefenbunker
09.26 Antwerp, BE @ TRIX
09.27 Paris, FR @ La Station
09.28 Hamburg, DE @ Karatekeller
09.29 Berlin, DE @ Urban Spree
10.02 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.03 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ~
10.12 – 14 Moreno Valley, CA @ Desert Daze
Last year, the Northern Italian psych punk act Bee Bee Sea released their sophomore full-length album Sonic Boomerang to praise from NPR, Clash Magazine and others for a high-energy, fuzzy power chord sound with elements of garage rock and psych rock that’s generally been compared to Thee Oh Sees and King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard among others, earning the band attention and praise from outside of their small, industrial hometown. And once you’ll hear the furious and frenetic album single and title track “Sonic Boomerang,” it’ll no longer be a surprise as to why they’ve so quickly gained the attention of both European and American press — fuzzy power chords, some explosive guitar pyrotechnics, a forceful and motorik-like groove, shouted vocals and a rousing mosh-pit friendly hook.
The Italian psych rockers are in the middle of their first North American tour to support their critically applauded sophomore album. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
7/23 – Atlanta, GA – The EARL
7/24 – Memphis, TN – Hi Tone
7/26 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
7/27 – Costa Mesa, CA – The Wayfarer
7/28 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon Café Concert
7/31 – San Francisco, CA – Elbo Room ( with DJ Sid Presley)
8/02 – Seattle, WA – Funhouse Seattle
8/03, 04, 05 – Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon