Since the mid 90’s Kristen McMahon and David Muxo have been making music under the moniker Disappearing Boy. Their release Charmed, I'm Sure contains songs that were written recently and others that were created back in the ’90s. The album dabbles in various genres of rock. Post-punk, a little new wave and alternative all seem to fit the bill.
They open with “Wonder” which is a guitar driven song, The energy is upbeat and kinetic as the drums and bass provide the momentum. I immediately appreciated the vocals of McMahon who seems to have a voice tailor made for rock.
“1000 Crazy Dreams” contains cleaner guitars. Something about this just felt very ’90s. The guitar work is technically impressive and meticulously picked. If the song was any faster it would feel rushed but they play it at a perfect tempo.
They mellow out a little bit with “Back Burner Girl” which has an ’80s feel to it. The guitar is drenched in reverb on this track and McMahon’s vocals sound just as good on a ballad. “Whose Child” is a single worthy song with an infectious hook while “Cry Out Loud” is a synth heavy song that has a lot of ethereal, atmospheric elements.
The band rocks out hard on “Everything” and explores shoegaze with the beautiful “Body Language.” “Please Do,” “Roulette” and the magical sounding “Go Away” continue to create a foundation for the band.
“Charmed, I'm Sure” and “I Can Breathe” are well delivered songs that veer towards a straightforward rock vibe. “I Know” is a gorgeous closer that is nostalgic, melancholy and hopeful.
I was actually a little surprised how cohesive this album sounded simply because there was such a long time between material. The band pulled this off. Recommended.
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The Twelve AM is a band comprised of Lee D'Ambrosio (drums), Chris Champagne (guitar) and Steve Michels (bass). They are one full sounding three-piece band. The guitars are often a wall of distortion, the drums sound like you are two feet away and the bass holds all of it together. If I had to sum up the band in one word I would say explosive.
On their release Pretty Noise, they get going with “Punk Drunk” which is indicative of what you can expect from the remainder of the album. There is no denying this feels like a song that needs to be played loud. Heck, I would even say at lower volumes the song would be hard to ignore. There are a good amount of memorable melodies that come from both the guitar and vocal melody.
“Run With The Bulls” actually reminded me of Blink-182 if they were on steroids. I thought “Elope” was one of the highlights. The guitar rhythm and the snare cracks when there was some space sounded great. On top of that the hook really stuck out to me.
They keep the pedal to the ground with “Almost Gone” which has a slight early shoegaze feel to it. In fact I felt a similar way when I heard “Lipstick Red” which contains a killer guitar solo and a memorable chorus.
You get a break from distortion on “Guitar Boys” which contains some very pretty guitar picking. The song has a slight country feel I wasn’t expecting. They continue to rock with “Heart Beats” and “New Girl.” They have more of an Americana vibe on “Empty” and close with “Mu Autumn” which is adynamic song with a number of epic crescendos.
The Twelve AM bring a heavy dose of rock with this release. Recommended.
Nothing like a little girl power to brighten up this rainy afternoon that I am currently experiencing. Truth be told Yellow and Blue, the latest album from Tatyana Kalko, is the perfect album for a day like this and I am into it. Kalko has been drawn to music since she was young. She has been a perpetual student of music in both a vocal and instrumental capacity. She also has a lot of education in theater which I think aids her in her ability to be so free and genuine in her work.
The first track is "Blade of Grass" and it's here that I get the first taste of those lovely pipes. She has a magnificent, sultry voice. Her delivery is one that is demure and sincere and so purely expressive. The song is a low key affair that is dreamy and moody at the same time. There is mystery and nuance that makes this track a serious charmer.
Number two is "My Demise" and now we're shifting gears a bit with the guitar. This one definitely has a little more pep in its step. I would categorize this one as an indie rock ditty that is romantic and cheeky. There a lots of fun elements here that give this song a sense of irony and humor, even within the lyrics.
"Yellow and Blue" continues with the guitar. This one is has some fascinating sampling elements that had me very intrigued. My favorite part comes from the incorporation of piano is a very poignant way that I don't want to spoil. I was also a big fan of the percussive elements here. Lots of texture across the board on this song.
On "Okay, I Give Up" there is a lot of sharp edges in the lyrics. She keeps this one very off the cuff and genuine. This is one of those songs where I feel she really put her heart out there in an almost self-deprecating way. I always respect anyone willing to do that.
Wrapping this album into a near bow is the final track, "Little Bit Of You." This one has a bittersweet romance to it. It moves like a sock hop slow dance but out of nowhere there are these grunge elements to it. I'm a little bit obsessed with this one.
Kalko went in the traditional studio route for this album and I couldn't be happier about it. I think her talent is showcased best with high quality engineering. The album is hand molded to her strengths. She is the kind of artist who doesn't need a whole lot of fuss, but she needs to create intimacy and that's exactly what the production did for her. Given Kalko’s background in theater, there is a big part of me that is dying to see her perform live. Considering she has such a riveting presence on her album, I imagine it would only be amplified live.
Brooklyn has become such a staple when it comes to indie music that I feel as though there isn't a sound that could come out of there that would shock me. However instrumentalist and songwriter Nick Watt did manage to rattle me a bit with his album Elephant Wondering. I can say with confidence I have never heard anything quite like this. He takes all sorts of rural influenced genres like blues, Americana, and even honky tonk and redefines them with modern alt and indie rock.
"Beating Heart" is the opening track and it's a moody experimentation that almost defies explanation. There are interludes in this songs that are very interesting and almost fantasy like before he pulls you back down to reality. The juxtaposition is well executed and it was here that I realized I need to ditch any expectations I had when listening to this album and just let Watt do his thing.
I had no way of seeing what was coming with the second track "Elephant Wondering." This is a highly ironic, honky tonk humdinger with a dizzying piano performance at its base. The song expands out into a head bobbing indie tune that I can get into. It's a colorful and unforeseen gem. I also appreciate that constant use of the backup vocals which he did record with friends. He gets great mileage out of them. I like his ability to surprise me.
Of all the tracks on this album, "Grandma Song" possesses my favorite vocal performance. With the other two songs his delivery is much blunt and aggressive. Here he tones all of that down and tells a lovely narrative that managed to charm me. Musically the song is lovely in a very Americana way. Elaborate and delicate guitar riffs unfurl underneath the ballad like lyrics. This song was assembled with a great deal of care and sentiment - might be my favorite.
The fourth track is "Where They May." Again we're getting a type of ballad narrative here. It's not really one to jam to, but it is rife with experimentation. It's sort of in an emo honky tonk space. Delivered as a cautionary tale it is not my favorite track mainly because it's more a theatrical piece that I think I would want to see live. The song has stage presence.
Closing out the album is "Heather (Talk About The Weather)" and it's a fascinating bluesy, Americana ballad set in a modern world. It speaks to a mundane day at work in a cubicle farm like scenario. It's highly amusing for anyone who has ever worked in a florescent bulb lit work environment that you hate.
This is a great album for anyone who looks at their music collection and goes, "there is nothing I want to listen to." If you're someone who is bored with the current state of affairs when it comes to their playlists, you should really give Wondering Elephant a spin. It's cooky and strange, but also fresh and original.
I Have To Live With These Memories Forever EP is the latest from Hella Rad aka Thomas Seymour. The title can be interpreted in many different ways. There are plenty of memories that people want to hold onto such a wedding day, a vacation, etc but it can also go the other way as well.
These songs were recorded by Thomas Seymour during some hard times and after hearing the lyrics it's obvious that he was trying to work through a couple different emotions. The music on these three songs is minimal and basic. Seymour’s guitar playing isn’t exactly technically impressive but it serves as a canvas for the more important aspect which are the words.
The EP starts with the title track “I Have To Live With These Memories Forever.” You are greeted with somewhat jarring guitar playing. The verse however is delicately strummed. It doesn't take too much time for the lyrics to not only feel dismal but also indignant. He sings, “Cause you win / You win / You always fucking win / Cause everyone I love loves me less than I love them.”
“Punching God On Sight” may sound indignant but the song is more or less one big apology. The song revolves around a couple of jangly chords. “Proselytize To Me” is just flat out dark and even disturbing. Seymour sings “I close my eyes and all I see / Are maggots in a corpse / I know the body means something but I can't put it into words.”
I Have To Live With These Memories Forever felt one hundred percent brutally honest and unapologetic. I will always appreciate a musician who doesn't back down.
The year was 2000 and I was one year out of high school and decided I needed to go to college. My destination was Champaign, Illinois. Back then the jam band scene was thriving. My friends and I would go to the Canopy Club almost every weekend. I bring this up because twenty years later and I don’t think much has changed.
The Data Waves comprised of Kevin King (tenor saxophone/flute), Joey Parker (keyboard/synthesizer), Sammy Gessesse (guitar), Aditya Kashyap (bass) and Seth Graham (drums) are exactly the type of band I would find at house parties and playing the local scene. Even the name of their EP Drunk Funk is filled with memories of my college days.
The Data Waves is one of the more electric instrumental bands I have heard. The addition of the flute certainly makes for an element you don’t hear every day. On top of that they really have a range as far as styles go.
There is unequivocally a lot of funk on the title song “Drunk Funk” but they also can play into jazzy ’70s inspired breakdowns. I promise if you hear this live you will want to dance. In fact the live recording made me want to dance. The patrons at the local coffee shop seemed to be amused.
The lounge inspired ‘70s groove of “Have You Met Mr. Gales?” brings to mind soft velvet and satin sheets. The mood picks up on the super slick “Don't Know Now.” That being said the atmospheric LA noir breakdown is just as enjoyable.
They close with “Sammy's Song.” The song slowly unfolds. It starts off very atmospheric and dreamy and builds up to a solid jam session.
This EP was nostalgic for me personally. If you want to hear of the more advanced instrumental bands I have heard in awhile take a listen.
Worms in Dirt is a DIY indie/punk band from San Luis Obispo, CA, consisting of Dylan Lyman (drums), Skyler Garcia (bass) and Sam Hendricks (vocals/guitar). Worms in Dirt is their self-titled debut release.
With extensive use of heavy distortion and feedback, combined with a pure, raw energy and a lo-fi aesthetic, Worms in Dirt is a decent first endeavor which showcases this band’s undoubted potential, drawing parallels to early Dinosaur Jr.
The EP starts off with “Moon’s Glow.” This track really exhibits the instrumentation proficiency of this trio. They produce a sound far superior to just three members which sets the tone for the whole album. In particular Garcia’s driving bass lines and Hendricks’ virtuoso soaring guitar riffs add a rather menacing and primitive feel to the EP, especially on the track “Sap.”
“Stale Bedroom” is where Hendricks’ image provoking messages and dark undertones are exemplified, such as, “In the morning I will writhe on the beach / like a baby lamb being prepped for slaughter.” Explicit and abstract lyrics like this are evident throughout this album which enables the dark tone of this band to resonate with the listener.
The engineering on the vocals could have benefited from more clarity. I am a huge fan of the DIY recording and production process as long as it fits the tone of the song. However I am sure with time and experience, Worms in Dirt can eradicate such technicalities.
Worms in Dirt can’t hide their skills as extremely talented craftsmen and constructors of authentic vision. This self-titled EP is an incomplete collection of work which is to be expected from a debut release, but these imperfections are countermanded by this band’s undoubted talent and distinctive sound which leaves you wanting to hear more from this exciting trio.
Ghost Cat Hijinx is a band comprised of Justin Dulecki and Ian Martin who were on a three year hiatus and recently reformed to release Hurry Up and Wait. The EP provides five songs that mix like minded sub genres of rock like surf, post-punk and indie rock.
The songs are pretty straightforward with jangly guitars, 4/4 beats and catchy vocal melodies. They get moving with “Skipping Stone” which is a four chord type post-punk song. The song has a solid groove and a good amount of energy. I was ready to hear more.
Up next is “Beach Babe” which was one of the catchier songs in the batch and is more or less surf rock mixed with a garage rock a la The Strokes. The song paints a common theme of surf rock and seems to dance around the theme of youthful summer love. The vocalist sings, “you see the boys bite their tongues / girls just having fun / doesn’t matter what they say / everything’s going their way.”
“Red Star” is arguably the highlight. They build off a classic rock riff on the verse and the chorus has a little more of a contemporary indie rock sound not too far away from a band like Real Estate. “Far Away” had my attention. There are some inventive riffs on this song. The song had the most contemporary indie rock feel.
They close with “Hurry Up and Wait” which felt like the other highlight. The reason being the lead vocals as well as the harmonies felt strong on this song.
Overall, this is a solid start for the band. They seems to be in the feeling out stage as they explore various styles. I look forward to their evolution.
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New York is known for being the home to transplants, adventurers, and outcasts. That applies to the story of Shrug Dealer, a band from NYC, but not really from NYC. Guitarist Russ Worstell moved out from Idaho in 2016. He spent the majority of a year looking to find people to play fast, catchy and technically challenging punk rock. In early 2018, Worstell met drummer Ramon Nogueira who is a scientist that moved to the states from Barcelona. Fellow Idahoan Rob Lanterman moved to the big city to fill in the other half of the guitar/vocalist spectrum. Lastly, New Jersey punk veteran Sol “Doubt” Caceras reached out and joined as the bassist to complete the lineup of Shrug Dealer. The band quickly got to work writing and recording their debut self-titled EP Shrug Dealer, a six-song package running for roughly 12 minutes. Eager to be loud, the musically adventurous band recorded the album over two weekends with both singers who were battling colds chugging gallons of tea. Shrug Dealer is making a splash in the New York punk scene. It’s a vigorously fast pace, partially nonsensical, melodic skater punk and hardcore sound.
The album opens with the frantically pace song “Writer’s Block.” The minute-long song is high energy and is filled with the self-doubt one feels when you can’t get your ideas together. While you try to tell yourself everything is going to be okay, nothing is more frustrating than not being able to explain your thoughts. The sound of the vocals on “Writer’s Block” is similar to the Offspring.
“Snowflake Wars” is the perfect title for the current political climate. In a era where everyone is offended Shrug Dealer cautions the war it is having on the general public. While the message is dire, the guitar riffs and Nogueria’s drums keep the the song lighthearted enough to mosh to. “That’s $10 You Owe Me Now, Dickhead!” is another head banging jam. While the title of the song is funny, the message and tone is much more serious. “Clearance racks filled with garbage made with tortured hands, worked into early graves. Bottom bucks brought by slavery from foreign lands, just to throw it away.”
“This Song Written On A MacBook Pro” is less of a song and more of an interlude. While there are vocals and strong guitar riffs, it’s a 28-second song. Shrug Dealer continues the manic vibe on “The Lanes.” While things may not go the way you plan, if you continue to believe in yourself, positivity will prevail. The album finishes up with “Who Is Molly?” The track is still a hardcore song with an insane guitar solo with more melodic, easy going sound to add to the mix.
Shrug Dealer is a solid punk album. It’s a vigorously fast pace, partially nonsensical, melodic skater punk and hardcore sound. While the titles of the songs are funny and a little goofy, every track contains deeper meaning and substance. The results of a group of musicians who have always wanted to play this style, but were never given the chance until now. They’re making a splash on the NYC scene and they don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.
Soul Smoke is a punk band with blues influence from New York City. The trio of guitarist Andy Munante, drummer Issa Kamara and bassist Mike Estrella have known each other from playing in different bands. Munante and Kamara had a musical connection from previously playing in a band called Set Authority. Munate and Estrella also played in a band called The F.M.L’s. The fact that they were friends long before Soul Smoke started helped shape the sound. Now with their self-titled debut album Soul Smoke the band rehearsed for six months and jammed playing Munante’s original songs. From there, Estrella and Kamara brought the songs to life with the freedom and trust that their input was best for the songs.
The album starts off swinging with “The Longest Path.” While the song begins with Munante’s screeching guitar and Kamara’s drums at a frantic pace, it quickly becomes more melodically appealing. Estrella’s thunderous bass is the backbone of the track followed by a tasty guitar solo from Munante. “She (Is Coming Back to Nothing)” is a much more grungier vibe mixed with the blues. While the previous track was much more upbeat for a mosh pit, this is where you shut up and listen. Munante shows his vocal range as the second half of the song is much more somber. It’s a beautiful contrast where punk and blues mesh perfectly.
“Self-Deprication” starts off on the blues front with a smooth guitar intro, but quickly devolves into pure punk chaos. Again while you want to bang your head, and get wild, Soul Smoke never loses the melodic sound in the chorus that keeps you engaged before ending the song with the same blues guitar on the outro.
“Sex In SoHo” is exactly what the title implies. A catchy chorus “Meet me at the hotel and we’ll get a little higher” complements the fast pace, high-energy song. Soul Smoke ends things on the psychedelic track “4 Hours to Bliss (Demo).” It is their most experimental song on the entire album with vocal distortions and a far more spacey sound. While it does have some punk elements near the end, it’s certainly a welcome shift in tone.
Soul Smoke’s EP is filled with some solid bangers. The trio of men perfectly implemented the fusion of punk rock and Blues. You can see the influences of bands like the Deftones, Green Day, Gary Clark Jr. and Eric Clapton. Musicians with an edge but who never lose the melodic basics that produce quality songs. And that’s what you get from Soul Smoke, quality. There’s even a few fake outs where you think a song is going to be one genre specific but changes completely. Even the psychedelic “4 Hours to Bliss” came completely out of nowhere, but I applaud the band to take the chance. Why not throw caution to the wind? Hopefully the bond between the three musicians continues to strengthen so they can make more quality hits.
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