Tag: XTC

If you follow me through my various social media accounts, you’d know that I’m now in Chicago on a business trip — and for some live music and hanging out with a few people I know in the area. So far, the trip has gone off on a fantastic start; but as you can imagine, I’ll be posting but somewhat sporadically as I’m running around town on various adventures, and will have work functions and so on. But let’s get to some business first . .

I’ve written quite a bit about the Chicago, IL-based psych rock band Secret Colours on this site, and as you may recall that throughout the band’s history they’ve gone through several lineup changes that have left founding member Tommy Evans as the sole original member. And with the band’s newest lineup which features Evans (guitar, vocals), Max Brink (bass) and Matt Yeates (drums), the band sound has been pushed in a slightly different direction as their latest album Dream Dream draws more from Brit Pop, guitar pop and garage rock — while at points, retaining elements of the 60s psych rock sound that first captured the attention of this site and elsewhere. Last year, I wrote about the XTC “Mayor of Simpleton”-like “Changes in Nature” and the 70s AM rock-like “Save Me;” however, the album’s latest single, album title track “Dream Dream” is more of a return to form, with the song being heavily indebted to both 60s psych pop and Brit Pop.

Directed and produced by Katey Meyer and featuring animation by  Becca Christman, the recently released video features the members of the band, playing on a brightly colored set, wearing retro glasses and sunglasses and of course, some prerequisite psychedelic imagery. It’s trippy yet mischievously so.

 

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Comprised of Rob Withem (guitar, vocals), Greg Markov (bass) and Thom Walsh (drums), the Phoenix, AZ-based indie rock trio Fine China can trace their origins back to 1997. And soon after their formation, the trio released their first two EPs and a 7 inch through the Southern California-based indie label Velvet Blue Music. The Phoenix-based indie rock act went on to release three more full-length efforts, including 2005’s critically applauded The Jaws of Life, which also had material featured in several TV shows.

Late 2016 saw the 12′ vinyl re-issue of their critically acclaimed The Jaws of Lifewhich interestingly enough saw the release of a bonus track to coincide with a 10 year reunion show; in fact, the bonus was met with critical applause and as a result, the vinyl re-issue quickly sold out. Building upon the growing buzz that surrounded the band again, the band’s first release in 12 years Not Thrilled finds the band returning to their original label home, Velvet Blue Music, who released their debut effort over 20 years ago. Slated for a February 23, 2018 release, the material on their forthcoming album was recorded in Rob Withem’s home studio and mixed by Bob Hoag, their longtime producer and engineer at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, AZ.

“Anyone Else,” the first official single off the new album will further cement the band’s long-held reputation for crafting a warmly familiar, shimmering, 120 Minutes-era guitar pop sound with an anthemic hook — and although the band’s Withem says in press notes that “I wanted a sound that harkened back to singles from the mid to late 80s that I heard on the radio as a kid — stuff like Don Henley and Dire Straights. But root it in an elegant guitar pop sound, like XTC or Crowded House,” the song (to my ears, at least) reminds me quite a bit more of The Smiths, which isn’t a bad thing to go for.

 

With the release of their 2015 debut effort, Use Your Time Wisely, the Minneapolis, MN-born, New York-based trio Strange Names — comprised of Liam Benzvi, Francis Ximenez, and Fletcher Aleckson — quickly received attention across the blogosphere for a crafting airy and danceable New Wave-inspired pop. And as a result of the buzz around them, the members of the New York pop trio opened for Azealia Banks before eventually signing with renowned, local indie label Frenchkiss Records.

The trio’s highly-anticipated, third, full-length effort is slated for release in early 2018, and the album’s first single “Into Me” will further cement their reputation for crafting breezy, 80s inspired synth pop — and while some have made comparisons to The B52s and Phoenix, the latest single to my ears seems to draw from XTC and Violens’ fantastic Amoral as the song features a soaring hook rooted around shimmering arpeggiated synths. But underneath the song’s breezy nature is a swooning and flirtatious kiss off of sorts to someone, who is into the song’s narrator but for some perverse reason is pretending not to be.

 

Now, if you had been frequenting this site earlier this summer, you may recall that I wrote about the Turnbridge Wells, Kent, UK-based electro pop duo Go Caruso. Individually, the members of the duo — Jon Mills and John Fenton-Stevens — have achieved national attention in the UK with a series of different solo recording projects that have received airplay from  BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6, BBC Introducing, as well as national TV appearances; however, as the duo told me via email, they decided to collaborate together last year. And with their attention grabbing single “Tamarin,” the duo revealed that they specialize in a slickly produced, summery synth pop that nodded at JOVM mainstays  Summer Heart, Moonbabies and St. Lucia, complete with Nile Rodgers-like guitar playing, shimmering synths, a rousing hook, Afro pop-inspired percussion and a sweetly, swooning earnestness.

The duo’s latest single “Caroline” will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting swooning and infectious, hook-laden pop confections — but unlike its predecessor, the Kent-based duo’s latest single manages to reveal the duo’s 80s synth pop influences, thanks in part to a bouncy and funky bass line, shimmering synths and a soaring hook; in fact, the track reminds me of XTC’s “The Mayor of Simpleton” and Phil CollinsSsussdio” if St. Lucia had covered it.

 

 

 

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If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three or four years of its seven year history, you would have come across a handful of posts on  the Chicago, IL-based psych rock band Secret Colours. Interestingly, the band recorded and released their self-titled debut and their sophomore effort, Peach, the band’s initial lineup featured six members; however, by the time they went into the studio to record Positive Distractions 1 and Positive Distractions 2, the band went through a massive lineup change that left Tommy Evans (vocals, guitar) and Justin Frederick (drums) as the only members remaining from the original sextet. And with the recruitment of long-time Chicago music scene friends Eric Hehr and Mike Novak, the band went through a decided change in sonic direction — partially influenced by necessity and as a result of being artists, who recognize that life pushes them forward and towards new influences and techniques.

Up until recently, some time had passed since I had last written about them and in that period of the past few years, the band went through yet another lineup change in which its founding member Tommy Evans, along with Mike Novak remain; but with its newest lineup featuring Max Brink (bass) and Matt Yeates (drums), the band find themselves pushing their sound in completely new and different directions on their latest full-length effort Dream Dream; in fact, the album’s material finds the band drawing more from guitar pop and garage rock, while retaining elements of the 60s psych rock sound that first captured the attention of the blogosphere. And as you may recall, album single “Changes in Nature” was a swooning and sweetly urgent love song reminiscent of XTC’s “Mayor of Simpleton” but with a subtly lysergic vibe. Interestingly enough, “Save Me,” Dream Dream‘s latest single manages to mesh contemporary jangling guitar pop with psych rock in a way that feels anachronistic — could the song have been released during the 60s? Or AM rock’s heyday? Or in 2017? If it weren’t for the slick production, you wouldn’t be able to tell; but perhaps more important, the single reminds listeners that the band can craft incredibly infectious, hook-driven rock with dexterous guitar work.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three or four years, you may recall that I’ve written a handful of posts featuring the Chicago, IL-based psych rock band Secret Colours. When the band released their self-titled debut and their sophomore album Peach, the band’s initial lineup was a sextet; however, by the time they went into the studio to record Positive Distractions Part 1 and Positive Distractions Part 2, the band went through a massive lineup change that left Tommy Evans (vocals, guitar) and Justin Frederick (drums) as the only members remaining from the original lineup. The duo of Evans and Frederick recruited two long-time Chicago music scene friends Eric Hehr (bass) and Mike Novak (bass) to fill out the band’s second lineup. Naturally, as a quartet, the band went through a decided change in sonic direction, partially out of necessity, and partially as a result of being artists, who do evolve as life pushes them forward; in fact, the band most likely recognized that they had two responses — strip down previously perceived excesses or find an inventive way to recreate their sound with fewer members.

Some time has passed since I’ve written about them, and as it turns out the band has gone through yet another lineup change — and while Evans and Novak have remained, the band has two new members Max Brink (bass) and Matt Yeates (drums), and with their newest lineup the band find themselves subtly pushing their sound in new directions with their latest full-length effort Dream Dream; in fact, the band’s sound draws from psych rock but also from guitar pop and garage rock. And as you’ll hear on their jaunty and jangling new single “Changes in Nature,” the band pairs Evans falsetto with shimmering, pedal effected guitars, a strutting bass line and propulsive drumming with a soaring, rousingly anthemic hook — and this shouldn’t be surprising as the soon is a swooning and sweetly urgent love song, along the lines of XTC‘s “Mayor of Simpleton” but with a subtly lysergic vibe.

 

 

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