Brian E. Smith (vocals/guitar), Blake McWhorter (bass) and Mark Baker (drums) are WAXRUINS. The band released HEAVYGAZER which effortlessly combines elements of shoegaze, alternative and post-rock with a bit of drone metal. Right up front I’ll say they have released a stellar album. It’s got a little in there for fans of esoteric music.
Take for instance “Clarity and Inclusions” which has elements of bands like Sunn O))) and Queens of the Stone Age. At their most rocking the music veers towards hard rock but once the sheets of white noise appear they certainly fall closer into drone metal territory.
The band also goes into more classic shoegaze territory comparable to Ride on “Praise a Name.” It’s pretty incredible how intricately connected the band makes the genres feel. It’s something that takes creative control and usually a good amount of pre-production.
The production fits the bill as well. They got an appropriate sound for what they were trying to accomplish. The vocals are a bit buried, the drums are crisp, the bass is defined and the guitars have just about the perfect amount of distortion.
“(Sparks) Into Mountains” is unequivocally the centerpiece. The song starts off in clear post-rock territory. Nostalgic, thought provoking and quiet beautiful. I wasn't expecting it but was happy to hear. Thank god they don’t go down a predictable post-rock path which has been done to death ever since Explosions in the Sky helped bring attention to the genre on Friday Night Lights. I’m a little inclined to not spoil where this song goes but what I will say is that it is unpredictably epic not unlike the under appreciated release Stubborn Persistent Illusions by Do Make Say Think.
The band gets its heaviest on “Return” while “Strange Sorcery” reminded me the most of ’90s grunge in an Alice In Chains type of way.
WAXRUINS is on top of it. The most impressive aspect is the integration of various genres which would be mishandled in a lesser band. Don’t pass this up. Highly recommended.
TV Vs. Music by David Rupley is one of his finest. Rupley has released a lot of music in the last couple of years. One thing I can say is that his albums feel cohesive and TV Vs. Music is no exception. Rupley blends atmospheric atmosphere, sparkling synths, heavy hitting beats and more with these songs.
Up first is “Comatose” which is one of my favorite compositions of his. It starts with dark, ominous atmosphere that surrounds the stereo image. An arpeggiated synth makes its way into the mix and before you know it the mix starts to gain some energy. Once the beat comes the adrenaline starts to pump and does not look back.
Up next is “Patterson” which is another standout track. The guitar is front and center and repeats with a melodic, hypnotic riff for most of the song. “Temptation” is a more bass heavy song with elements of Aphex Twin while “The Tube” is a little more shoegaze inspired with white noise and phaser sounding effects.
“Rainy Day” was a personal favorite. The mix is extremely clean where you can hear every element. There is a good amount of ear candy and I wasn’t always sure as to what I was hearing which is one reason I enjoyed it.
The most ambitious song would be “Kill The TV” which goes into all sorts of experimental and unconventional places. “Journeyman” contains angelic vocal harmonies and constant upward movement.
Rupley is in great form on this album. I think he excels in electronic production and this album is the proof.
A New High is a band formed of three reunited members of past band, High Street, that played together in the 80s. They wanted to create music for the sake of creating music and leave all the drama and tension of their younger days behind. Their debut EP, So Cali Blue is a mixture of old-school surf rock, 60’s and 70’s rock and pop with a little 80's as well.
The album started with “What I See” which has a mellow surf rock vibe with smooth rhythmic guitars and a peaceful feel. The vocals are reminiscent of 70’s folk rock and the lyrics felt spiritual and a little mystical. The second track, “Beach Break” is a purely instrumental song that had more of an Indie rock feel but still had a surf rock foundation with a very pretty melodic sound.
The album took a different turn with “Dance in Your Fantasy” which reminded me of 80’s pop with synths and an odd vocal melody. It was definitely a completely different style than the first two songs but still worked within the context of the band. That same vibe continued with “Delfina” which reminded me slightly of the B52s because of its goofy lyrics and overall lighthearted feel. The next two songs “Sleep Awake” and “All Out of Sorrys” had a similar vibe as well.
“Inside Out” was a little bit different than the other tracks. It’s dark vibe and fast paced beat blended into theatrics and intensity, it almost reminded me of a song from Rocky Horror Picture Show. That’s probably why it was my favorite track on the record. The theatrical quality continued with “Make Up Your Mind” which is a fun track with a goofy melody and lots of guitar. “I wish I Could Tell You” was back to the old-school surf rock vibe but had marching-band-like drums and lots of harmonies in the vocals.
Things got weird with “Crab Cave” which I’m pretty sure was a love song to a crab. It was a funny lighthearted track with a Devo meets the B52’s vibe. I really enjoyed it even though it didn’t make much sense to me. “Summer of 17” was another light instrumental surf track that was a nice break from the dramatic feel of the previous songs. The album ended with “Do You Ever Wonder” which was a slower tempo, dark almost creepy sounding track with raspy ominous sounding vocals and slow melodic verses. The lyrics about wondering how everything will turn out made it a perfect ending track.
So Cali Blue is an eclectic mix of rock, pop and theatrical tracks that make it a really interesting fun listen. A New High is obviously a group of well-seasoned musicians who love what they do and aren’t afraid to experiment with new sounds or blend old ones. I really enjoyed it and look forward to future work.
Become A Fan
When you really enjoy music you tend to have a more open mind as far as styles that you can be attracted to without necessarily listening to them all that frequently, or not as frequently say, as your preferred genres, or the albums that get you through over days and weeks. Though no matter what your level of musical appreciation you happen to be at you should at least be able to recognize talent when you hear it, otherwise you’re not listening to music at all, but rather using it as a white noise soundtrack to your life.
Flamenco guitar is not a genre that I would consider myself a huge fan of in the way that I do not flock to it regularly by choice. However it is a genre of music that when I hear it I always appreciate and am transformed by it, and end up telling myself that this is the kind of music that I need to have more of in my life. For anyone else who feels this way about music and in this case flamenco in particular then Musiques de mon monde, vol.3 by the French born composer Arnaud FILLION-ROBIN who performs under the alias Arnito is a great place to start.
The classically trained Arnito has throughout his near twenty year career put out 15 records as a guitarist and composer, along with playing shows all around the world and also teaching and leading guitar clinics in Africa, Japan, Kuala Lumpur and Thailand just to name a few. Arnito has also won a variety of awards for his diverse musical pieces.
On Musiques de mon monde, vol.3 Arnito’s focus is that of Spanish flamenco guitar. The album’s fifteen tracks are wonderfully focused and precise compositions which range from the slow and romantic feel on tracks like “Chemin étoilé” and slow and somber “Kwaheri.” Yet they also stray to the fast paced and dare I say fun tantrums of rustic world music on tracks such as “Puits St Jean” and the purely soulful Latin intensity of “Ecija” infused with grooves that will get even the heaviest feet shuffling around the dance floor.
Musiques de mon monde, vol.3 is a virtual masters class in versatile and challenging style of flamenco music. It is at times sad and beautiful and at others fun and lively. It’s music doing exactly what art in its highest form is meant to do; make you feel something.
Chris Capaldi’s new record Painted Skyline is a universal album. This music could be heard anywhere it is so good. I especially am having fun listing to this as I found out Capaldi and I share the same alma mater, Berklee College of Music. While I was studying business and production it seems he was studying jazz composition.
It is always so interesting to hear different outlets of music from players that come from different genre backgrounds. If I had not known Capaldi studied jazz composition I would have just thought this was a beautiful album regardless. So it is great as a musician to have such versatility and transparency.
The first song I listened to was “Hands.” This song almost encapsulates the vibe of the entire album. Very heartwarming, it captures you with its timbre and words immediately. I love the small addition of the string sections. It really brightens up the atmosphere while the chord progression is extremely unique and versatile. The song “Smoke and Mirrors” is a great tune. It really reminds me of some classic Bruce Springsteen albums like Nebraska.
The whole arrangement on here is great; the instrumentation is perfect not too many instruments and not too many different things going on. “Wasted, Wild and Free” might be my favorite tune of the album. It is just such a complete song in my opinion, nothing is forced on this track, and the arrangement is just as beautiful as the instrumentation. Seriously great work on this track!
I would recommend this album to anyone who likes music. It is so well made to cater to just about anyone and I mean that! Chris Capaldi is a very well rounded player and writer and I especially am looking forward to what lies in store next sonically. So check out this record it has my blessings. You all can thank me later!
Holy cow, off the bat this is already one of the most original things I have ever heard. I immediately have become a Sinevvave fan. Their new album Cyan Noise is just fantastic. I get a sort of Radiohead meets Nine Inch Nails and that pairing could not have been done better in my opinion. The production isn’t just well done it is imaginative. These guys look for the sounds that are not out there; they go for inventive nuances in their overall tone.
“Whatever Fits” might be one of my favorite tunes off the album. I love the progression it just speaks to me in such a deep and meaningful way. I just really have never heard many songs like this; again it just seems like an absolute perfect pairing of bands like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead. Sinevvave has such a cool and totally original brand of experimental electronica mixed with some indie rock influence.
Having been influenced by film scores, Cyan Noise has to be one of the more inventive albums I have really gotten into. “Thief” is another great track that really has such an experimental vibe to it. I really get the influence for film scores in this track; it is so spacey and kind of keeps molding into different shapes the more and more it travels. “A Closeness” is also another beautiful tune; I just love the progressions and the mix of weird and beautiful. There is such a psychedelic feel to this song almost like an extremely tripp-y Tame Impala type of tune.
I would most definitely recommend this album to anyone who likes the more experimental side of music. It really is an adventure from start to finish. The writing is really outstanding and I could tell there was dedication and love throughout this entire album. Hope to see these guys live one day; personally I could tell they probably have a great live set up. So go check this album out. Don’t just take my word. Actively go out and listen to this; you will not be disappointed.
Levi Minson (guitar/vocals), Matt Walker (guitar/piano/vocals) and Daniel Baylis (bass/drums) are 100 House. They put out Shortgun which is a four-song EP which at the very least establishes a solid foundation. The band undeniably has an “indie rock” type vibe which can draw comparisons to bands like Elliott Smith, Pavement and Real Estate. I have to also mention that the band formed in March so they are just starting to explore their sound and get comfortable.
I thought the songs had a warm melancholy to them which I am always a sucker for. The vocal performances really stuck out to me and I thought Minson and Walker sounded great together.
Up first is “Rale” which gives you a good idea of the band's sound. The music didn't give me any surprises good or bad but the song had a number of catchy hooks. The lyrics aren't all that poetic but were original and unique. The vocalist sing,s “I've been reduced to property tax /Please patch me through to Susan, from H.R. Where's the line dividing us? Susan what's the deal?”
I starting listening to “Shortgun“ and once I heard the vocal harmonies and guitar picking I thought this song was going to be epic. Instead the song felt like a transitional piece which repeats with added layering. I felt it went on about forty-five seconds too long for that purpose and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed they didn't explore different places the song could go because I thought it had the best riff.
“Shiva” shows the band back in great form. The Elliott Smith type of vibe is pretty strong on this track and arguably the highlight. They close with the most experimental song entitled “Beehive Man/The Green Backyard.” It reminded me of the Wilco song “Reservations” where the song drifts into radio transmission and other sounds. I thought this song would have worked better on a full-length then a four-song EP. It would have been a little easier to appreciate with at least five or six meaty songs behind it with solid hooks. The artistry outweighs musicianship and just felt a little premature.
I'm interested in where they can go from here. They have the tools and talent and I think a little more time together as a band and they will start figuring out their sound. This is a solid start and I surmise their best work is yet to come.
Andrew Bate is a singer/songwriter from the UK who recently released Rattle & Boom EP. The EP consists of five songs that displays his diversity as a songwriter. I was having a hard time finding a foundation to his sound because of the different styles.
Take for instance the clear country “going down route 66” inspired opener “What Am I Gonna Do With You?” which introduces a distinct flavor that he never revisits. On that note I throughly enjoyed both songs but for different reasons
Up next is “Living in Your Bones” which has a classic singer/songwriter vibe. The song is well delivered, melancholy and quite catchy. Out of all the songs “Rattle & Boom“ is the one that sounded so different from the others. It sounded more like a saloon Tom Waits type song. It was the highlight for me and I was hoping for similar sounding songs.
“Sister Sinner” is stripped back song which revolves around guitar, ambience and vocals. The vocals sound great here. The closer “Darling Just Call Me Around” was the most commercially viable song which goes head first into the intimate singer/songwriter vibe.
Bate has a good amount of talent in a number of areas but it felt rather obvious to me from this EP that he is still searching for a signature sound. It may behoove him to work with an experienced producer to help him find the elements in his songs that can be strung together which could help with creative control.
Overall, I think Rattle & Boom EP has some solid songs that I found enjoyable. The production was impressive for DIY and Bate has a good amount of technical talent as well. I’m looking forward to his evolution because he displays potential.
Become A Fan
The Masterminds is a pop-rock band based in New Jersey and led by lead singer and composer Tim English. They recently released In Effect. The band makes poppy songs that are often under three minutes and in many ways are very simple yet enjoyable. I was reminded of the band The Magnetic Fields and their project 69 Love Songs. Similar to that project the songs are short and rely on melodies that are extremely palatable and feel like you’ve heard them before even if it's the first time. You can hum along within seconds.
The songs aren’t particularly ambitious, challenging or thought-provoking but I would argue that’s some of the appeal. Up first is “Shady Lane” which is a bit quirky and arguably the highlight in the batch. The lyrics spell out a nostalgic narrative and I thought the vocal harmonies were delightful. On top of that the synth works really well against the white noise of the guitar.
“Love Squared” mixes a bit of ’50s pop with, well, more pop. It’s extremely catchy and the low octave vocals were money. I promise you that you will tapping along with this song. More ’50s inspired pop seems to run through “Where is Laura?” For some reason I was thinking that if I heard this song while on psychedelics I would be terrified. Everything would seem like plastic and very hollow inside. The vocal harmonies at the end have an Ariel Pink vibe about them.
I have to admit that I was getting more slightly trippy vibes off “Learning How To Love.” Just imagine the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s 1970 and you’re chilling by the pool at Circus Circus and this song comes on. “Tarot Cards” has great guitar tone while “Partner In Crime” has a bit of Roy Orbison in there. They close with the Beach Boys-esque “Springtime Girl.”
In Effect is a solid EP that doesn’t require much effort to enjoy. I will admit that for this type of music I have to be in a certain mood. To be perfectly honest I think I would listen to this music when I’m angry to cool my nerves. There is this ’50s vibe that makes me think of nuclear families, sitcoms and frozen dinners. Almost like an artificial happiness.
Overall, this is a pretty unique collection of songs. It’s highly enjoyable in its own off-kilter way.
The Joliet, Illinois instrumental collective Hydroplane was formed in 2015 by drummer Chris Radosevich and guitarist Derek Tripp and later added bassist Marissa Gardley. The trio wrote a full-length record and then went on a fruitless search to find a vocalist. After this they scrapped those songs and wrote new ones with the intention of being an instrumental rock band. I’m glad they did, and anyone who really digs instrumental drone-y and fuzzy shoe-gaze inspired rock compositions should be too.
Hydroplanes debut record Molly and the Moon sounds as good as anything I’ve heard from the new crop of new wave and shoe-gaze acts to come along in the last five or so years. The compositions on this record have a symphonic quality to them and a control that many acts can’t seem to muster as well as Hydroplane does with this style of music. For as atmospheric and seemingly unending as these nine songs are it is clear that Hydroplane always have a firm grip on the reins and have a firm understanding of where the songs are going. In short these songs are not long drawn out jam sessions (though some of them do give off that initial effect) but carefully composed and controlled experiments on which the trio are doling out here.
On Molly and the Moon Hydroplane also do not fall prey to a lack of variety that plagues so many instrumental bands across all genres. The record opens with “The Mirror” a short intro track that combines tape hiss and found sounds with a mild humming and some staple vocal samples. Then it moves slowly into the bright and amoebic soundscape on the puncturing “lo.”
Next we drift into the soft and spacey “Venus” which builds up into an all-out assault of rock and is definitely a shining star on the record. Later we are treated to another planet “Jupiter” which soars with sharp slashes of funk and jazz riffs. “Strawberry Moon” closes out the planetary record and zigs and zags from dirty hard fuzz addled rock to slow and low ambience.
For shoe-gaze or even hard rock aficionado’s Molly and the Moon is definitely a record you should have in your arsenal. As for the rest of you, get with the program already.
Become A Fan
Divide and Conquer is dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We review a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook