Wogan's three-song EP II is an interesting, self-contained journey that falls into the best of the showgaze and dream pop trends with some added indie tones thrown in. Based out of London, the band was assembled and nurtured by Andrea Adriano. Adriano has a fully loaded resume as a musician, composer and producer. He has a history of working with artists to develop their careers. Now he gets to do things his way in more ways than one on II.
Adriano has a private studio in his home stocked with a lot of equipment he built himself from scratch. DIY takes on a whole new meaning with him, and I found this to be utterly fascinating. For example he built his own ssl bus comp. For this album there is nothing that comes fresh out of the box as far as digital sounds are concerned. Everything is filtered, tweaked or cultivated with the utmost care. The "some assembly required" approach that he has towards the production of the music firmly translates into the songs themselves.
It seems to assemble itself as you listen to the three tracks in order. Kicking it all off is "Warning, Another Light." The word that comes to mind with this first track is delicate. Soft, translucent layers floating on top of one another. It's whispy and foggy and barely held together with anything. There's not a whole lot of gravity in this one. It is what I would consider to be the dreamiest of the songs. It seems to focus on the beginnings of an idea or concept.
"Late Letter" embodies a lot of indie characteristics. It starts to pull together a little more and you can get a sense for what a more traditional song might sound like. It finds a great balance between deconstructed and traditionally composed. Now the proverbial idea has meat on its bones and a foundation. I liked this a bit more. I began to understand and better appreciate the deconstruction.
The last song is "Talk To You" and it ends the journey with what would be considered the most traditionally composed song on the album. So it completes the metamorphosis from hyper fluid to full on structured. This song is my favorite. You get a taste of the first two but then so much more. It all calls back to the handmade sound equipment. This short EP essentially assembled itself into a cohesive message into a fully constructed idea.
The methods and motivations behind II are vital to what I enjoyed about it. Adriano is what I would call a craftsmen. His conviction to his vision is undeniable. This a great EP to calm an inner dialogue or cleanse a mood. It has great power in subtlety. I imagine there will be plenty of people who love to treat themselves to this. On that note Wogan will be making an EP a month for a total on nine EP's.
For anyone out there who loves the old school analog sounds of the 1950s and 60s (yes, please!) before recording became mainstream and mass produced, Robby Fontana’s full-length debut album Lonely Motel has got you covered. The retro styled production of Lonely Motel was inspired by Leon Bridges’ album Coming Home. The Boston native turned Southern Californian took over a year experimenting to mimic the warmer analog sound he loved so much on Bridges’ album using today’s modern technology – his laptop and Logic Pro X. He wrote, recorded, mixed and produced the entire album himself and conceptually the songs pay tribute to the by-gone era of Los Angeles during the mid 20th century.
“Welcome to Lonely Motel” brings us the sounds of the beach, the ocean and summertime, with vocal harmonies that reflect the heavenly harmonies of The Beach Boys. “Time To Move On” is a hand-jive rocking good time – soulful and fun, with a hint of Chris Isaak or Ricky Nelson. “You Feel Alright” plunges deep into a sultry, slow dance rhythm that feels like it was made for Motown. Musically, it’s got everything – saxophone, keys, retro styled guitar and of course – back up singers! “Barrel Of A Gun” has that classic “rat-tat…tat” drum beat, “sha-la-la-la” back up singing and the song wouldn’t be complete without the quintessential violin section.
“Love The Way You Walk” begins with a low shuffling beat reminiscent of Fats Domino’s “Blueberry Hill,” Elvis Presley and Dion’s “The Wanderer.” Another fantastic slow dance number is “Because You’re Mine” and yep, it’s got all the right moves and chemistry that qualifies – if any one song can take you back to the ‘50s, it’s this one. “Come To Me” definitely has the carefree, happy sound of Motown soul from the ‘60s. Even though it’s musically upbeat, Fontana pleads towards getting close to a love interest that perhaps is not paying any attention to him. Another slow number that really gets sad lyrically, is “Two Is For Trouble” – this is about as soulful and blue as any song can get – Sam Cooke and Otis Redding would dig this one indeed.
“Lost Angeles” starts off with an echoing beat reminiscent of the “Wall of Sound” made famous by Phil Specter. This song has some old school flavor to it with instruments and vocals, but the way Fontana wrote it sounded like it had some modern flair to it as well. “We Can’t Say Hello” has some nice tinkling piano intro, hand claps and that well known tat-tat drum sound from the ’60s. This one reminded me of Del Shannon’s classic, “Runaway” and if you listen closely, Fontana does give props to the one hit wonder.
“Miss Sofie Lou’s Blues” is the style of blues that made Jerry Lee Lewis famous – boogie-woogie – good time, toe-tapping stuff. “Time To Move On (Reprise)” is just that, a reprise of track two in under one minute. “Lonely Motel” finds Fontana with just a piano and beautiful soulful back up singing. I thought this one had a good balance as well, where a retro sound meets up with modern writing and the song’s placement on the album was an interesting choice, too.
The last tune “4th Street Symphony” was dead on sweet and totally reminded me of The Flamingoes “I Only Have Eyes For You.” I loved this one so much I had to listen to it again – like immediately after. It’s lyrically simple with two lines – “I want you / I love you” – along with a “do-wop” style of singing. It’s the kind of song you want to listen to with your convertible top down, driving slowly along Sunset Boulevard with your arm around the one you love. I didn’t grow up when this style of music was hot on the radio, but for listeners like me (who wish they did grow up during that time) and maybe you too, Robby Fontana sure has kept the spirit of this era’s music alive and well on Lonely Motel.
I love when I'm at a loss for words as where to place a band in the jungle of today's ever bleeding genres. Where to begin? The band is The Brighter The Day. The EP is Allegories and I am tickled by this album's vulnerable beauty. A big part of the music is what I would call post-rock, but it's almost very dream pop and a little IDM. I would say trying to categorize the music is half the fun. However, being unable to put these four songs into one box is not the only selling point.
You start on "Polaire." This song is guided by beautiful piano that is innocent and subtle. The song is instrumental and sounds subdued, like you're indoors looking out of a window. The percussive elements are made to sound very sterilized. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure how much I was going to love this album based on this opening track, but it did grow on me. This song gave hints of further expansion, but never fully unfurled.
By track two, "Get Together" someone had clearly opened the window. Fresh oxygen was rushing in. You get the organic instrument play and these incredible vocals that are so undeniably their own. I was not prepared for the vocals and they blew me away, delivering these patient and soft lyrics with heavy meaning. The vocals are layered in a way that created a modern version of a very sweet duet. The song starts out very bare bones and then gently reveals a beautiful crescendo that seemed to build a futuristic scene that was bright and full of hope.
"Just So" really takes a turn for the alt-indie route. Again the cool vocals, which for the song's tone are just perfect. There's also another batch of thought provoking lyrics. I like the raw riffs on this one. Here the organic performances really pay off. I swear there are several different bands this group could be. Although you get three very different songs, they still somehow managed to communicate a unified theme.
The final song is "Tourist," it's over ten minutes long and gives you a little bit of everything from the first three songs. It's really beautiful and resembles something that could come close to a symphony. There's movements and world building in this piece that is so advanced and unexpected. I honestly didn’t realize that ten minutes had passed the first time I listened to it. This song had to be an undertaking, but I can say that for me, it was all worth it.
Not only was Allegories a great listen for me but I have been given excellent news. There are more EP's on the way! I charge anyone to listen to this one and tell me they are not excited for more. While this music is low key I am filled to the brim with excitement. The thrill factor for me is that I had no idea where they were taking me and I cannot wait for them to do it again in the future.
Black Holes was released in May of 2018. Great Red is the band that wrote and created the EP, calling Rochester, NY home. The band has been together for a little over a year now, writing songs and working to release the EP since last summer. The result of their hard work has paid off in the form of their debut EP. Black Holes is a quick taste of what Great Red can do. Their togetherness and ability to function as a single unit brings life to their debut.
“Good For Me” starts strong with atmospheric effects on the guitars alongside a pounding drum sequence. The guitar finally cascades over the introduction with reverb and long ringing chords. When the vocals begin the lyrics are longing, and very personal between the singer and the one person he’s talking to. As the song unfolds there are a number of dynamic sections that keep you engaged.
“Fire Alarms” is a highlight that opens with an expertly plucked guitar intro, layered over with an electric solo before being joined by the drums and bass. The song builds both speed and volume before exploding into the traditional verses and choruses of a song.
The pacing of the songs on the album should not be understated. There is a seamless flow of energy between songs like "Yesterday", "Black Holes" and "Eyes Wide Open" which sets the EP apart from many others like it.
Great Red use a hard-driven energy to craft a soft-rock sound for their music. Borrowing song structure from Matchbox 20, Barenaked Ladies and Third Eye Blind, Great Red puts new energy into the frames left behind by the early influencers of the sound.
The soft-rock label should not be taken the wrong way. Black Holes still packs a punch with some tracks being more hard rock driven than the lyrics suggest. The emotions of the songs are genuine, and everything about the album can be detected through the words. Black Holes is a complex listen, if the listener wants it to be. There are plenty of layers to pick away at and analyze with a microscope. It can also just be a great EP to throw on and listen to for fun. However you hear it, make sure to add Black Holes to your list of new listens soon.
I’ve been writing music for about twenty five years. I studied composition in college and eventually think I got to know a thing about music. Because I got some experience under my belt I can gauge with some accuracy how far along other musicians are especially are when they are starting out. I’m going to surmise Zach Allen is just getting started on his musical journey. The three songs on his release Zach Burger aren’t much more than a couple of minor and major chords strummed in a loose 50’s folk fashion. That’s not to say I hear some potential as well as talent in these songs. The songs are simple but they have some heart.
The highlight was “Show Me”. Burger picks at two notes while singing “I like sunshine on a cloudy day/I know it's not going to stay that's what makes it better”. Burger makes a good call by implementing vocals harmonies and that was really the best and most effective part of the song. The chorus is short, catchy, effective and heartfelt. The song was just about perfect at three minutes.
The other two songs were a little rough around the edges but there were still some things I really liked. First off his guitar is slightly out of tune but noticeable to me on “Leaving”. The song plays into 50’s bohemian style folk tropes that have been reproduced countless times which eventually found its way on film with the incredible movie “Inside Llewyn Davis”.
Burger has a good voice but he has to be careful about reproducing archetypes that have been done over and over again without introducing with his own signature sound into the mix. On this note this song as well as “World Away” felt a little long at just over five minutes for what was happening. He plays more into the lonely troubadour artist type on “World Away” which is full of laments, melancholy and reflective sentiments.
These demos sounded like standard DIY laptop productions. I think this is a solid starting point but eventually Burger will have to improve the recording quality by for example recording at a reputable studio if he is interested in being at an even playing field with similar acts like Devendra Banhart,Tallest Man on Earth or Iron & Wine.
At the end of the day I think Burger has some work ahead of him if he wants to be a prominent folk musician but that's part of the journey. More importantly there is some heartfelt emotions and potential I can sense in these early recording. I wish him luck on his evolution and will be listening to his next effort.
I laughed when reading about Garden Island. They say “Welcome to Garden Island; an envision of mild hallucinations, an indie grunge diet and shitty suburban house parties”. That more or less sums up my early twenties. I’m going to surmise that the band comprised of Nick Dangen (guitar/vocals) Luke Mackay (synths/guitar Mike Halliday (bass/guitar) Dillon Gorton (drums) are around that age.
The band's recent release Blunder Years is a lo-fi five song EP that seems to revolve around nostalgia, former memories and romantic relationships. I’ll admit I had a hard time making out the lyrics on this EP which led to a lot of guesswork mostly because of the superfluous amount of reverb.
The band is a fairly straightforward, modern sounding indie rock band. Genres like grunge and alternative hang in the mix like former ghosts from myriad band's. They get going with “Red- Eyed Raven”. It’s moody and especially enjoyed the interplay of synth and lead guitar. Jangly major and minor chords come into the mix married with a 4/4 drum beat. It’s a catchy song and the vocalist embraces a slackers malaise type vocal delivery that gets more intense when they introduce distortion.
“Gameboy Girl” is another swig of reverb, vocals that lay way back in the mix and jangly guitars. “No Darts” was a personal favorite. I liked the intensity and urgency the band brought to this song. “This Old House” has some inspired moments as well. The guitar stuck out to me. They close with “High Noon” which clocks in close to seven minutes and ends with some of their most epic rocking out.
There were a number of things I noticed in the recording/mixing/production that I would have treated differently. Perhaps most importantly I wanted more separation between instrumentation and some cutting off of frequencies would have helped them achieve that. There was just too much reverb overall at times which can cause clutter amongst elements when working with this much distortion and intensity
This is was a solid effort. I think the band has a foundation with this EP and hope to hear more from them as they evolve.
Johnny Noxious (guitar/vocals) Mello Cefola (bass) and Manny Kinn (drums) are Sadartha. The band harks back to the days of distorted power chords, a loud chorus and when things didn't have to be so pretty. They play into the aesthetics of grunge 101 but sometimes deviate into high energy punk and other sub genres as well on their release Eden.
I was in high school in 1996 and that was a couple years after Kurt Cobain killed himself. They were arguably the biggest band on earth at time. The amount of band's in my local area that sounded similar to what Sadartha are doing is staggering which was mixing energy of bands like Black Flag and Nirvana to name a few. It's not as common these days.
These songs aren’t exactly the most creative of technically minded songs in the world. The songs are simplistic but guess what, the same thing goes from for bands like Nirvana and countless punk band's. There are a lot of clean guitars on the verse and hitting of the good ole’ distortion pedal on the chorus type of thing.
Noxious has a nasally growl at higher octaves and at lower octaves he prefers hyperbolic inflection. There are some hooks in there but they are sometimes buried and require multiple listens to show themselves.
Up first is “Nautilus”. It’s grating, intense and in your face and and the best psychedelic moments come within the last thirty seconds of the song. I say that as a compliment. The vocals are however smoothly delivered at points.
They were some songs I definitely had a preferences for after that. “You Lack The Courage Of Your Conv” is perfectly in line with raucous punk shows from the 70’s at CBGB’s. It sounds like countless punk songs in the same vein that came before it but these ones are always fun, especially live.
The band is at their best when they are high energy. They attempt drone metal a la Sunn O)))) on “Dancing Flames” and other songs like “Slacker” could have been radio friendly in the 90’s if the production/recording wasn’t so lo-fi.
The band has a loose foundation and I had a hard time really zeroing in on where their signature sound was. They were different sub genres and influences but felt the common strain that unites an album wasn’t obvious.
As an engineer myself there were a lot of things I would have done to try and capture their energy. This recording in undeniably lo-fi and has too many high frequencies, issues with balancing, dynamics and more. I’m not saying I would make their sound radio ready but think getting an aesthetic closer to a band like Metz or Blood Brothers should be on their to do list. Working with a good producer/engineer would be key.
Overall, this is a solid effort from good band and made me realize why I loved this music in the first place.
Every week we mention a couple of artists that are worth your time to check out that were not featured in our weekly reviews.
Artist Album Rating
War Waves Sleep 3.6
St. Pete Holland Seven Deadly Hymns 3.6
Wild City First State 3.7
Phoebe Robertson Get Well Soon 3.6
Ugly ROOMERS Creatures of Habit 3.7
Galloping Horse The Royal Wedding EP 3.6
Brewing Company Flight Night 3.8
Airlift is based in New York City. Their recent release Don’t Mind Me came out in April of 2018. It is the second release from Airlift over their career. Don’t Mind Me is more raw and uncut than their previous release.
The band intended for this, feeling that the unpolished sound that is found on Don’t Mind Me was more representative of their true sound. The EP is great to listen to, showcasing the fruits of the labor of Airlift for fans of hard rock the world over.
There are only three tracks on Don’t Mind Me. Each one has a voice of its own. The general sound of the EP is cohesive, but each track has a different take on that sound. There are upbeat snare driven choruses, arpeggiated guitar breaks, grooving bass lines and biting lyrics that populate the neighborhood of sounds that make up Don’t Mind Me.
One or two more tracks would have rounded the whole thing off a little more, but the tracks that are on Don’t Mind Me do not disappoint in the slightest.
Don’t Mind Me is a darker take on the classic hard rock sound. Airlift does a great job of keeping to the roots of the sound, while also staying true to their voice. Parts of Don’t Mind Me have a rougher feel to them, but this only adds to the realness of the EP.
The running time is just under 15 minutes. It is a perfectly portioned bite of Airlift’s sound. With previous releases available alongside Don’t Mind Me, the next Airlift release is one that I’ll be looking forward to.
One thing I’ve noticed about art in all its many forms in the rise of this digital age is that it seems to be so much more of a pissing contest to get noticed and after one is noticed it’s a constant battle to keep on top of the heap. Let’s face it you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but most people are going to and the people in the band and the marketers behind the band know that too and they are going to do everything they can to make that cover catchy as fuck, even if the words inside are just complete garbage. I think the five members of the Louisville, Kentucky rock group Jane know this and are a spirited enough “fuck all” rock band to play the game but by their own rules.
On their debut record, Amen Dudes Jane, who is vocalist Christy O'Connell, guitarist Tory Fisher drummer Matt Filip, bassist Jennie Walker and guitarist Matt Fox, launch through each song with a fierce aplomb that so many coming of age rock bands I have the chance to listen to all the time seem to always be lacking. From the beginning to the end Jane. nail it over and over with a simplicity and directness that is quite refreshing.
The opening track “Before We Die” is two minutes and sixteen seconds of bad-assedness rock and roll reminiscent of the thrash and bang day of Sonic Youth, albeit without the super long and intricate guitar solos. But the same power is here, and O’Connell’s vocals, which are just nasty enough of a sneer that they sound and likely are authentic, and the rock that the band bangs out behind her has that same honest simplicity, not showing off or going off too long in one direction or another or trying to make any of their songs “sound” like something.
The song “Lonely Boy” is a perfect example of this nonchalance of rock that just works so well on its own, needs no accoutrements or anything to spice it up. From this they launch into the bar rock anthem “Mountain” which moves with such great precision and erupts with a feral grunginess that pervades so many of the songs on Amen Dudes.
But Jane. are also a band willing to take chances and try not to hide any mistakes in hiss or feedback, they just lay it all on the table as they do so well on the melodic “Happily” and the bluesy and raucous thriller of a song, “Loaded Gun,” and the equally dirty closer “Mean Streets.”
I’m not a soothsayer or anything like that but I know a great and polished rock and roll band when I hear them, and Jane. is definitely that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did some damage enough to get themselves signed to an indie label that has enough sense to let them foster their sound and keep doing what they do so well which is to pen rock songs for people that actually give a shit about what’s inside the book. Highly recommended.
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