Tag: Virgin Records

Interview: A Q&A with The Sighs

Holyoke, MA-based rock band The Sighs can trace their origins back to 1982 when its founding members Robert LaRoche (vocals, guitar) and Tommy Pluta (bass, vocals) met and bonded over their mutual of love of acts like The Beach BoysCrosby, Stills and Nash and other that employed the use of multi-part harmonies. Interestingly enough, it helped that while the Holyoke-based band’s founding members were jamming together, they discovered that their own voices blended together beautifully.

Tom Borawaski (drums) and Matt Cullen (vocals, guitar) were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and to complete the band’s initial lineup. Shortly after the band’s lineup was finalized, they quickly began makin a name for themselves as a must-see live act across the region. As Tommy Pluta explained in press notes, “One luxury of living in Western Mass is that we played all the colleges and clubs for years and years. By the time things started happening for us, we were primed for it — we sounded really tight and everything was just spot on.”

As luck would have it, the members of The Sighs crossed paths with John DeNicola, an Oscar Award-winning songwriter and producer, who co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” and his production partner Tommy Allen at the China Club in 1990. And after meeting DeNicola and Allen, the Holyoke-based band signed with  Charisma/Virgin Records, who released their full-length debut, What Goes On to critical acclaim. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the band toured with nationally touring acts like Gin BlossomsDada and others.

The band eventually split up with members of the band pursuing individual creative projects and/or focusing on family life. Interestingly, the material on the band’s third full-length album, 2017’s Wait On Another Day can trace its origins to an unearthed batch of demos that the band’s Matt Cullen stumbled upon. Originally recorded in the early 1990s, and later placed on hard drives, the demos had been forgotten about for the better part of 20 years – until Cullen played them. He was so impressed by what he heard, that he shared the demos with his bandmates and their longtime producer John DeNicola.

Feeling that the band had unfinished business – and that they should continue the collective story they started 20+ years previously, the band decided to reconvene at DiNicola’s Upstate New York-based studio to revise a handful of songs. But as the band’s Tom Borawski explained at the time “. . . it all came together so well, and we were having such a great time, we ended up making a whole album. It really just took on a life of its own.”

“All the years of playing together left a permanent mark on us. It wasn’t too difficult to tap into our musical and personal bond again,” LaRoche said of the five-day recording session that produced Wait On Another Day. Borowski added “Everything had more of a spark to it than when we made What Goes On, where we put all the songs under a microscope and tried to get it all completely perfect.” As a result, the material possesses a urgency and vitality to it that many contemporary bands wish they could capture on record. Interestingly, while much of the album’s material focuses on many of the things that they wrote about in their youth – girls, getting kicked around, hopes and dreams and falling in love but tinged with the wistful and aching nostalgia of middle-aged men, who have been forced to accept the passage of time, their impending mortality – and the old adage that the more things change, the more they remain the same: no matter how old you are, heartache is heartache and life is ultimately about figuring out how to learn from it and move forward.

Building upon the attention they received from Wait On Another Day, the members reconvened to write and record its highly-anticipated follow-up, the five song Tearing My Heart Again, which OMAD Records released today. The EP’s material finds the band continuing where its predecessor left off but while revealing a band that has grown in the past three years. While they pull in some new ideas to the mix, they do so without straying too far afield from what has been successful – carefully crafted, hook-driven rock paired with earnest songwriting.

I recently exchanged emails with the members of The Sighs for this edition of the JOVM Q&A. World events have found a way to impact all of us – and as a result, they’ve managed to bleed into every aspect of our professional and person lives in ways that will reverberate for quite some time to come. With COVID-19 forcing cities and localities across the world to indefinitely shut down bars, restaurants, clubs, music venues and countless other non-essential businesses, the impact on musicians and the music industry will be far-reaching and devastating. Over the next few months, I’ll be discussing how COVID-19 has impacted the careers and lives of artists of all stripes – and the members of the Holyoke-based band openly and honestly discuss where they stand right now and what may be next. Of course, we chat about the recently released EP at length, the band’s tour with The Gin Blossoms and more. Check it out below.

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Support these artists by buying their work. You can order The Sighs EP here:

https://www.omadrecords.com/store/the-sighs-tearing-my-heart-again-ep

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WRH:  Most of the country has been enacting social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. How are y’all holding up in such a difficult and uncertain time? What are you doing to preoccupy yourself? Anything you’re binge watching? 

Robert LaRoche: Been pretty much staying home. Except to go for a daily run and food shopping.

Working on new songs. Binge watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix.

Tommy Borowski: Been binge watching bad 70’s movies…

WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or canceled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed or rescheduled tour dates, album releases have been rescheduled. I’ve asked this question to a handful of artists already – and I suspect that for some period of time I’ll be asking a lot of bands this: How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career? 

Matt Cullen: Well, we’re all at a standstill. We had a Sighs gig booked in mid-March in our home base of western Massachusetts. Robert flew in from Austin and I flew from Des Moines. After couple of spirited rehearsals, the gig was cancelled. I’m now home and have seen all of my gigs here cancelled for the foreseeable future. I don’t make my living entirely from music but playing roughly 100 gigs a year certainly helps the family kitty. Those lost wages will hurt and the loss of that enjoyment, performing, making music, that hurts equally.

WRH: Who’s the funniest guy in the band? 

RLR: It depends on the given day I suppose! We all have our moments. [But] I’m going to go with Tommy Pluta on this one 💙

MC: If you asked Tommy Pluta……..😎

WRH: Who are your influences?

Tommy Pluta: Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, Shoes, Foo Fighters.

RLR: I was heavily influenced by The Everly Brothers. And tried to incorporate their two-part harmony style into The Sighs music. Also love early American Rock ‘n’ Roll pioneers like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. And, of course The Beatles and Beach Boys were a big influence.

MC: Too many to name. The typical ones. The British Invasion bands, particularly The Beatles. A lot of 70’s rock and pop rock: Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, Raspberries, Queen, The Cars. I could go on…….

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

TP: Fountains of Wayne.

RLR: Jenifer Jackson, a local singer/songwriter here in Austin

MC: My current go-to is a live record by Bo Ramsey and the Backsliders. Bo is a spooky, great player, known for his work with Lucinda Williams and Greg Brown. He’s an Iowa guy and I’ve opened for him here and have gotten to know him a little. I’m crossing my fingers to do some playing with him. Also, and sadly, I’ve been revisiting Fountains of Wayne since the news of Adam’s death.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with The Sighs? 

TP: Classic Power Pop / Rock sound. Two guitars, bass, drums, melodic with three part harmony.  The Smithereens, Gin Blossoms

WRH: The band can trace its origins back to when its founding members – Robert LaRoche and Tommy Pluta – met back in 1982. Tom Borawski and Matt Cullen were the recruited and the band then spent next eight years gigging around Western Massachusetts. In 1990, the members of the band crossed paths with John DeNicola, who became your producer and you signed with Charisma/Virgin Records. So, the band went from playing the college circuit to touring with the Gin Blossoms, who were selling millions of records and being played on the radio every single day. How was that experience like? 

TP: We always tried to make the most of every opportunity.

We had been on the road for months prior to touring with the Gin Blossoms so we were ready to take the next step.  Getting the chance to perform our music to their fans night after night was a terrific experience.  They were especially nice to us, and we found a lot of commonality with our music and influences. It would be great to do some dates with them again. . .

WRH: The band eventually split up after the release of their sophomore album with each of the individual band members focusing on other creative projects, on raising families and working day jobs. 20 years pass and as the story goes, Matt Cullen stumbles upon some demos that the band recorded in the early 90s. What was the experience of hearing the demos for the first time in so long like? 

MC: It was really cool to find the old recordings. I had transferred a boxful of 1/4 tapes to a hard drive, without listening to them. That was in 2010. It was 6 years later that I opened the folder labeled Sighs. We had been cranking out demos from 90-93 (?), both for the Charisma album and also for what we hoped would be a follow up with them. None of us recalled recording a few of them. You’d finish a song and move on. I got goosebumps when I realized what I had stumbled upon. I did rough mixes and sent unnamed mp3s to the guys. They were really surprised, and we were all excited by how well the home recordings had held up.

WRH: How was it like to revisit material that you wrote some 20 years prior? How were the first writing sessions for Wait on Another Day? Did your songwriting process change between your sophomore album and 2017’s Wait on Another Day?

RLR: The WOAD songs were written before, during, and after the recording of our debut CD What Goes On, during the period between 1987 and 1993. We had a lot of songs to choose from at that time. And only a dozen were chosen for What Goes On. The tracks on WOAD were songs already included in our live performances. We were a pretty well-oiled machine by then. Revisiting and re-recording this material over 20 years after their inception was great fun! And genuinely satisfying.

WRH: The five song EP, Tearing My Heart Again was recently released. In some way the EP finds the band continuing where they left off, as though the lengthy hiatus had never happened. While the material is centered through some passionate performances as collective whole, the EP – to my ears – reveals quite a bit of growth. It seems to capture old, wizened pros, who have gotten back on the proverbial horse but with some new ideas. How does Tearing My Heart Again differ from your previously released work? Was that intentional? What inspired it? 

TP: We drew inspiration from the fun we had recording WOAD in the Fall 2016. Recording new Sighs music (20+ years later) was something we discussed a couple times, and the possibility came around again in August of 2019.  We had a couple songs and several ideas, we just had to find the time to all be in one place to record which ended up being 3 days starting New Years’ Day 2020. The process of writing was the same in some ways and very different in other ways. We always shared ideas to see which ones we though would fit, and then developed them, but sharing ideas is so much easier with technology. A lot of text and email.

 WRH:  What does the EP touch upon thematically?

RLR: The five songs on “Tearing My Heart Again” deal with personal relationships.
In the title track, the protagonist is involved in an unhealthy love affair. Where heartbreak is an ongoing concern, and dark attraction becomes a fatal flaw.

WRH: “Over the Line” is one of my favorite songs on the EP. It’s probably the most Smithereens-like on the five songs. Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s about?

RLR: “Over the Line” is about the near hopelessness and futility of caring for someone in active addiction. With the resignation that although you cannot judge the person you care for, and will continue to be there for them, the possibility of the active addict to cross over the line and become another fatality statistic, is forever present.

WRH: Oddly enough, there are sections of EP closing track “Rise” that somehow reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage.” Maybe I’m hearing thing but, did that influence the track at all about 

RLR You’re spot on with the Pink Floyd reference on the EP’s closing track “Rise.” Tommy Pluta initially sent me the guitar riff and chord changes. Which were already quite psychedelic sounding. We put a two-part harmony over the music in the vein of Waters and Gilmour. Our producer John DeNicola used an old school tape echo on the vocals. This gave the track the retro feel we were striving for.

WRH: What advice would you give to bands/artists trying to make a name for themselves thematically

 MC: I don’t know that my track record qualifies me to give advice but I will say that you must absolutely love what you do. There are many obstacles and it’s a long road. In today’s music world, I’d say you need to have a strong presence online. Sales are a different animal than what I grew up with. Touring is always helpful in spreading the word but can be financially daunting. CD mailers to college or community radio in your area are helpful. Try to grow it steadily. Again, you better love it!  :/)

WRH: What’s next for the band

MC:  It’s hard to say what is next for us. I’m not sure anyone of us would have guessed that we would have released a full-length record and an EP in the last three years. We never say never and leave ourselves open to all possibilities.  We have a strong personal relationship which leaves the musical door open at all times.

  

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New Video: Cutting Crew Revisit and Re-work Their 80s Smash Hit

Tracing their origins back to when its founding members Nick Van Eede (guitar, vocals) and Canadian-born Kevin MacMichael toured Canada as members of The Drivers and Fast Forward respectively, the Grammy-nominated, Sussex, UK-based rock act Cutting Crew was formed in London in 1985. Within a few months of their formation, the band — then a duo — signed with Siren Records/Virgin on the strength of their demos. 

By 1986, the band expanded into a quartet and went into the studio to record their breakthrough full-length debut Broadcast, which featured their smash-hit single “(I Just) Died in Your Arms.” The song was a multi-format hit in the States, hitting number 1 on the Top 40, number 4 on Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, number 24 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and an extended remix version landed at number 37 on the Hot Dance/Club Play chart. The song also landed on the top of the Canadian and Norwegian Charts while hitting in the top 10 of the singles charts in the UK, Switzerland, South African, Sweden, Ireland and Austria. Undoubtably, the act’s biggest song, it’s arguably one of the more memorable songs of the 80s — and as a result, you’ll hear the song in Hot Tub Time Machine, Stranger Things, Ash Vs. Evil Dead, and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. 

Broadcast also featured “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “One for the Mockingbird,” both of which also received massive commercial success with the songs reaching the Billboard Top 10 and Top 20 Charts respectively. As a result of their success the band wound up opening for the likes of The Bangles, Jefferson Starship and Huey Lewis & The News, eventually playing their own sold-out headlining shows. 

The band went on to write and record two more albums — 1989’s sophomore effort The Scattering and 1992’s third album Compus Mentus. After Kevin MacMichael’s death, the band went on an extended hiatus but after about a decade, van Eede chose to revive the band with a new lineup. And with the new lineup, the band recorded their fourth album 2006’s Grinning Souls in MacMichael’s hometown in Nova Scotia. The band then went on to release 2015’s Add to Favourites. Since the band’s reunion, they’ve toured across Mexico, Canada, Australia and Japan. 

The band’s latest album Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven was released earlier this year, and the album’s latest single finds the band re-working “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” with a string arrangement while retaining the song’s familiar and beloved elements — including that rapturous chorus. Certainly, as a child of the 80s listening to the original and the reworked version bring back a lot of memories — but while subtly making the song more contemporary. 

Born Patrick Baril, Statik Selektah is a Boston, MA-born, New York-based DJ, producer, radio producer and founder of Showoff Records, as well as one-half of hip-hop duo 1982 with frequent collaborator Termanology. Much like anyone who’s involved in music in some way or another, Baril was introduced to music at a very young age, and he can trace the origins of his own career to when he began experimenting with his parents’ eight-track tape deck, cassette recorders and turntables. Unsurprisingly, Baril began DJ’ing school functions as a middle schooler; but as the story goes, a young Baril was truly inspired to be a producer and turntabilist after hearing the likes of DJ Premier and Funkmaster Flex on Hot 97.

As a high schooler, Baril, named himself DJ Statik — the Selektah came much later, after he had heard a local reggae artist say it — and began doing radio at Phillips Exeter Academy‘s radio station, WPEA, and where he also occasionally DJ’ed some of the Afro-Latino Society Parties. He began to DJ clubs and private clubs throughout New England; however, by 2000, Baril had returned to Boston, where he pursued an audio production degree at the New England Institute of Art. Around that time, Baril began releasing a mixtape series titled “Spell My Name Right,” which he then followed several years later by creating ShowOff Marketing, which eventually had ReebokG-Unit RecordsVirgin RecordsCapitol Records and Puff Daddy‘s Vote or Die Campaign as clients, before spinning into a label, which released Termanology’s Out the Gate and his 2007 debut Spell My Name Right.

Since the release of his 2007 debut, Statik Selektah has released 6 more albums including his 2010 breakthrough 100 Proof: The Hangover, an effort that eventually reached #37 on Billboard‘s Heatseekers Chart, and has produced and collaborated with an incredibly diverse list of artists including FreewayStrong Arm Steady and others.

Statik Selektah’s eighth full-length album, aptly titled is slated for an auspicious December 8, 2017 release through his own ShowOff Records, and the album finds the renowned producer collaborating with a who’s who’s list of contemporary hip-hop including 2 ChainzWiz KhalifaAction BronsonWale, G. Eazy  Joey Bada$$PnB Rock, the late Sean Price and others. Now, as you may recall, the album’s title track “No. 8” found the renowned producer pairing his golden era hip-hop inspired production featuring enormous, tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and a jazzy sample reminiscent of Pete Rock with ConwayWestside Gunn and frequent collaborator, the aformentioned Termanology contributing some fiery and swaggering bars.

“Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed”  8‘s latest single is a warm and neo-soul leaning production featuring a backing band consisting of Brady Watt (bass), a member of The Lesson and DJ Premier’s backing band, contributing a sinuous and strutting bass line, Cas Weinbren (keys) contributing twinkling, arpeggiated keys, Utril Rhaburn (horns), contributing some mournful horns fed through gentle washes of reverb, enormous, twitter and woofer rocking 808s and some incredible scratching from Statik Selektah and a soulfully sung hook from Enisa. And the production is roomy enough for G. Eazy and Joey Bada$$ to trade bars about achieving  success beyond their wildest dreams and yet finding that many aspects of their lives have ironically remained the same; they may have a multi-million dollar home but find themselves struggling to pay for it, they’re still scheming for the next opportunity — and while we may still admire them and their incredible talents, what both emcees suggest is that if you didn’t know who they were, they lead fairly average albeit very odd lives. While further cementing Baril as one of contemporary hip-hop’s best producers, 8‘s latest single may arguably be one of his most straightforwardly soulful and contemplative tracks he’s ever released.

 

New Video: Statik Selektah Teams Up with Conway Westside Gunn and Termanology on Swaggering and Gritty Track off Producer’s Soon-to-Be Released Album

Born Patrick Baril, Statik Selektah is a Boston, MA-born, New York-based DJ, producer, radio producer and founder of Showoff Records, as well as one-half of hip-hop duo 1982 with frequent collaborator Termanology. Interestingly enough, much like anyone who’s involved in music in some way or another, Baril was introduced to music at a very young age, and he can trace the origins of his own career to when he began experimenting with his parents’ eight-track tape deck, cassette recorders and turntables. Unsurprisingly, Baril began DJ’ing school functions as a middle schooler; but as the story goes, a young Baril was truly inspired to be a producer and turntabilist after hearing the likes of DJ Premier and Funkmaster Flex on Hot 97.

As a high schooler, Baril, named himself DJ Statik — the Selektah came much later, after he had heard a local reggae artist say it — and began doing radio at Phillips Exeter Academy’s radio station, WPEA, and where he also occasionally DJ’ed some of the Afro-Latino Society Parties. He began to DJ clubs and private clubs throughout New England; however, by 2000, Baril had returned to Boston, where he pursued an audio production degree at the New England Institute of Art. Around that time, Baril began releasing a mixtape series titled “Spell My Name Right,” which he then followed several years later by creating ShowOff Marketing, which eventually had Reebok, G-Unit Records, Virgin Records, Capitol Records and Puff Daddy’s Vote or Die Campaign as clients, before spinning into a label, which released Termanology’s Out the Gate and his 2007 debut Spell My Name Right.

Since the release of his 2007 debut, Statik Selektah has released 6 more albums including his 2010 breakthrough 100 Proof: The Hangover, an effort that eventually reached #37 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, and has produced and collaborated with an incredibly diverse list of artists including Freeway, Strong Arm Steady and others.

Statik Selektah’s eighth full-length album, aptly titled 8 is slated for an auspicious December 8, 2017 release through his own ShowOff Records, and the album finds the renowned producer collaborating with a who’s who’s list of contemporary hip-hop including 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, Action Bronson, Wale, G-Eazy, Joey Bada$$, PnB Rock,  the late Sean Price and others. The album’s latest single, album title track “8” finds the producer pairing his golden era production featuring enormous 808s and a bluesy and jazzy sample reminiscent of Pete Rock with Conway, Westside Gunn and frequent collaborator Termanology contributing some fiery and swaggering bars. While Hot 97 may be playing Future and god knows what else, thankfully, there’s real hip-hop like I remember still being made and released.

The recently released video begins with footage of an actual shooting in Buffalo that took place while recording the scene introducing Conway. The video then introduces Westside outside of a cheesesteak place and Termanology on a stoop serving as a reminder that hip-hop is always about the streets. 

 
 

Formed in Western Massachusetts back in 1982, The Sighs initially began with its founding members Robert LaRoche (lead vocals, guitar) and Tommy Pluta (bass, vocals), two lifelong musicians, who had bonded over their mutual love of The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills and Nash and other acts that employed the use of multi-part harmonies — and the duo of LaRoche and Pluta quickly learned that they own voices blended together beautifully.  Tom Borawaski (drums) and Matt Cullen (lead vocals, guitar) were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and to complete their lineup, and as a quartet the band quickly made a name for themselves as a must-see live act across the region. As Tommy Pluta explains in press notes “One luxury of living in Western Mass is that we played all the colleges and clubs for years and years. By the time things started happening for us, we were primed for it — we sounded really tight and everything was just spot on.”

As the story goes, the members of The Sighs crossed pants with John DeNicola, an Oscar Award-winning songwriter, who co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and producer, and his production partner Tommy Allen at the China Club, the band signed with Charisma/Virgin Records and released What Goes On to critical acclaim; in fact, the band built upon a growing profile with tours with Gin Blossoms, Dada and others.

The Sighs third full-length effort Wait On Another Day is the first release from the Western Massachusetts-based indie rock quartet in over 20 years, and the material on the album can trace its origins to a recently unearthed batch of demos recorded on analog tapes back in the 90s that the band’s Matt Cullen stumbled upon. Once Cullen had shared the demos with his bandmates and their longtime producer John DeNicola, the members of the band decided to reconvene at DeNicola’s Upstate New York-based studio and revise a handful of songs; however, as the band’s drummer Tom Borawaski explains “.  .  . it all came together so well, and we were having such a great time, we ended up making a whole album. It really just took on a life of its own.”

“All the years of playing together left a permanent mark on us. It wasn’t too difficult to tap into our musical and personal bond again,” LaRoche says of the album, which occurred over a spontaneous five-day recording session. As Borawski adds, “Everything had more of a spark to it than when we made What Goes On, where we put all the songs under a microscope and tried to get it all completely perfect.” And as a result, the material possesses an uncommon urgency and vitality — of the sort the most bands wish they could capture on wax; but interestingly enough, as Pluta notes, the material on the album focuses on many of the things they had written about in the past: girls, getting kickedd around, hopes and dreams and falling in love. And perhaps because of the band’s age and experience, the material possesses the wistful tone of one, who has accepted both the passing of time, and the strange sense that the more things change, the more they manage to remain completely the same. So what if you’ve traveled the world, read the great novels, seen and done all that’s needed to be seen? Heartache is heartache and everyone knows it at some point, and life is about knowing what to do once your heart is broken again and again and again and again . . .

The album’s latest single “It’s Real” is jangling guitar pop paired with gorgeous harmonies, impressive guitar work, and the sort of anthemic hooks reminiscent of The SmithereensStarfish, Gold Afternoon Fix and Forget Yourself-era The Church but with a swooning and urgent romanticism; after all, the song is about some of the classic rock ‘n’ roll tropes: wildly passionate love with that pretty young thing and the desperate excitement of it being real, for perhaps the first time and of finally achieving something that you’ve dreamt of for such a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initially formed in 1971 and comprised of Werner “Zappi” Deirmaier, Hans Joachim Irmler, Arnulf  Meifert,  Jean-Hervé Péron, Rudolf Sosna and Gunther Wüsthoff, German sextet Faust developed an internationally recognized reputation for a sound and aesthetic that proudly defied genre conventions and expectations — and perhaps most important as being pioneers of a sound that critics have since dubbed krautrock. Adding to their reputation of pioneering a new sound and eventually a new genre, the German band was one of the first acts to sign with Richard Branson‘s Virgin Records. And as the story goes, after Virgin Records rejected what was slated to be the band’s fifth full-length effort, the band broke up — with the individual members of the band largely disappearing from the public. Other than a handful of shows sometime in the 80s and the release of Patchwork, a compilation of outtakes, which featured three pieces the band recorded in the early 80s, the band’s whereabouts and what they were even up to were shrouded in mystery until the trio of Irmler, Diermaier and Péron began performing reunion shows in the early 1990s.  But despite the questions regarding Faust’s whereabouts, the band’s recorded output maintained a level of interest and curiosity among krautrock fans and newer fans as Recommended Records reissued and re-released their four full-length efforts, as well as releasing unreleased material and a variety of compilations.

Interestingly, since their reunion in the early 1990s, the band has managed to be remarkably prolific, although they’ve managed to record and tour with a variety of different lineups and members with the most recent effort being 2010’s Faust Is Last.

“Jennifer,” off their fourth and aptly titled album Faust IV is a song that defies conventional songwriting and structure at every single turn. The song eschews the familiar format of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, coda for a series of distinct movements held together with a propulsive rhythm section. And as you listen to the song, you’ll hear a band that tackles minimalist drone and noise rock, jazz fusion and creaky, old-timey vaudeville with an unexpected turn of a musical phrase to create something that’s mind-bendingly trippy and unexpected.

Although the Birmingham, AL-based trio Wray formed a little over two years ago, the individual members of the band, David Brown (bass and vocals), Blake Wimberly (drums) and David Swatzell (guitar) have been mainstays in their local music scene, performing in a number of musical projects including Last Flight In, Comrade, Waterfall and several others. However, Wray has been a sonic departure from Brown’s, Wimberly’s and Swatzell’s previous work as the trio have developed a national profile for a textured, atmospheric shoegazer rock sound; in fact, the band’s debut effort was released to critical praise from media outlets such as The New York Times and MOJO — and they made appearances on MTVu and Daytrotter.

The members of the Birmingham AL-based trio have spent the past year writing, revising and then recording the material that would eventually comprise their soon-to-be released and highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Hypatia, which the renowned and eclectic Birmingham, AL-based indie label Communicating Vessels Records will release on January 15, 2016. Co-produced by the band and Lynn Bridges, who has worked with Jack Oblivian, Devendra Banhart and Dan Sartain, the album reportedly has the band making what they believe is their most cohesive effort yet with the material fitting into a particular mood as the band explored subtle contrasts.

Hypatia‘s latest single coincidentally is a somewhat stripped down cover of Faust’s “Jennifer” that turns the expansive and structure defying song into a slow-burning, minimalist and shoegazey meditation on the Jennifer that the song’s narrator seems to adore; however, Wray’s cover managed to possess a wistful, melancholic feel, as though Jennifer has become part of the narrator’s past that they can never get back.

Check out how Wray’s cover stands up against Faust’s original below.