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
TOWNSHIP A.L.A.N 3.4
Chasedbybadguys Ghost 3.5
Maniacs On Wheels Maniacs On Wheels 3.4
Joel Janikowski Get Well Soon 3.5
Thee Idea Men New Level Shoes 3.8
Short-Term Memory Lost In Gundam 3.3
Folly Fields Limbs and Longings 3.8
Trespassers Welcome The Middle Way
ZombieBotNet is the solo project from Greg Woods who recently released a collection of demos called Wash Away. The collection of songs was recorded by Woods and definitely contains lo-fi qualities you would associate with demos. If you have heard Wavves first release or Bright Eyes “A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995–1997” the sound quality is comparable. Woods creates his songs with a drum machine, guitar and his voice.
As far as complete DIY efforts go in regards to sound quality -I have heard a lot worse. That being said the hardest component to get past is his vocals which are in desperate need of a compressor at times. From a structural standpoint the songs are simplistic and sometimes catchy. Woods will usually loop a repetitive 4/4 drum beat and either play couple of chords or a scale to find a melody for you to wrap your head around.
The “collection of demos” opens with “Wash Away” which after a little bit to long of an intro busts into a distorted guitar that sounds like its clipping as unchanging drum beat creates some of the energy. It's not a bad tune although Woods vocals laid to low in the mix and sounded a bit too clean next to the guitars.
Woods vocals are so low in the mix on ”Get Free” it sounds as if he is whispering while “The Game” revolves around a low growling distortion. "‘Late To The Party Again” was the first song in which I could make out some of the lyrics and some of the tonal qualities of his voice. Turns out Woods van sing. “Lauren” revolves a couple guitar scales as you hear his voice in the distance say “Lauren”.
Woods may have some talent but he has got some work cut out for him. The songs occasionally boast decent ideas but they never come to fruition. Throwing in a couple of changes in the drums (even a couple of fills), having more dynamic material and getting his vocals to sit in the mix is a good place to start.
There’s no need for a time machine when you’ve got the Austin based indie rockers of Boswell. Their album Beryllium takes you from the ‘50s to the ‘60s to the ‘70s all the way up to today with throwbacks to Janis Joplin, Aerosmith, The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Boswell consists of pianist Alex Wilhelm, guitarists Jeffery Ferrer and Cameron Coy and vocalist Melanie Heide. According to the band Beryllium is the fourth element on the Periodic Table. “It is an alkaline earth metal that occurs in nature and is found in many forms of modern technology,” which ties into their love of things that are classic and things that are modern and contemporary.
The opener “Beryllium” showcases Heide’s moaning voice floating over the guitars and adds drama to the already rather somber track. However, it sounds an awful lot like Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” “No, Miser!” picks up the tempo and the vocals switch back and forth from Heide to Vennay. Their southern roots are definitely shown here with slightly twang-y background guitars.
“Zilker Park” sounds like a calming listen as you drive along the coast of South Carolina during the summer. Then “Oh! Darling”, a cover of the Beatles’ song, takes you back down to Austin or to one of Nashville’s Honky-Tonk’s on a lonely Saturday night. Unfortunately, the tracks somehow don’t sound like they mix well together as an album. Beryllium sounds more of a greatest hits compilation album from a band that has been around for years. This isn’t saying that the songs aren’t good. The tracks are strong, specifically “Statue of Venus,” which hints at Led Zeppelin, but the album as a whole doesn’t sound cohesive. I feel as if from “Beryllium” down to “Oh! Darling,” I have taken a trip down the bands last two albums.
The fact that their Bandcamp website says that the group can perform over four hours of classic rock covers doesn’t come as much as a surprise. With a lot of the tracks sounding too much like other classic rock songs, I feel as if the band should take a step back from their covers and focus on finding a little more of their own sound.
However, one of the unique things about Boswell is their love for love itself. “Every song that we play, whether it is an original creation or our take on an old classic, comes straight from the heart,” says the band in a collective statement. “Everything we do together reflects who we are and we are passionate about our unique relationship as band mates and friends.”
Envision an old sailor that got snagged by his own doggone hook… Hook Face’s music is rugged, rustic and has a piratey fun vibe to it that just makes you want to slosh around on a deck of a grimy boat with a pint of whiskey in your hand. The band is from Rochester, NY and despite the band’s short existence most of the members are not new to making music. You can feel this while listening to their self-titled album Hook Face. There is a genuine streak of tried and true musical passion, just good ol’ funky soul rock void of experimentation.
Some could say that the band is influenced by the sounds of Johnny Cash because of the rustic vocals and ragged, compelling guitars and bass. The song “Black Crow” uses the sounds of a harmonica to really pull you into their world of mystery and a bit of malice. “Walk up to my darling’s door, she said don’t come round here no more, black crow, blue sky, tell me it’s not all a lie.” There is some simplicity in the lyrics yet they are wildly entertaining and continue to swell as the sweet guitars and gentle percussion weave the story in your head. The song is only two-and-a-half minutes long yet it seems much longer because you get lost within it.
“Night Crawler” begins with a sultry beat and a dark bass chord and right before you know it the vocals start to lure you in… “Night crawler, going to get a fish for me.” The beat is very calculated really and makes you want to tap your feet.
The music within this release is great for a summer’s night get together and will really set the mood and is sure to create unpredictable fun for everyone. There is mystery, a bit of mischief and all wrapped into metaphoric ballads. This album is a great production and anyone into southern-inspired blues will really get down to Hook Face.
Falcon Down is a solo musician from the UK and after splitting with a previous band TheLlamas, Daniel Childerley rediscovered his passion for music and started creating music as Falcon Down. The music within his latest release Delusions of Grandeur offers listeners an interesting mix of folky jazz-inspired music that is simple, yet carries an enjoyable depth to it.
The opening track is a bit melancholy but the second track “Contradictive Lady” has a sweet character to it and the simple yet hypnotic guitar paired with the calculated bass create a nice song that I can see being played at some smoky lounge in a cool city. “Midnight” has a really jazzy persona to it and it asks an interesting question, “how much do you really know about the people that come in contact with you?” Childerley is obviously a poet and he lends those skills to the songwriting of this album.
The song with the same name as the album, which is also the closing track, starts off with a very uplifting guitar chord and then surprisingly, a beautifully sweet female starts to softly sing. Then, her voice begins to rise above and emits a steady demeanor as she speaks about losing a lover. The lyrics are very telling and spare no details; “oh how quickly you forgot me baby, you promised me heaven… if I can muster the strength I will come back burning brighter again.”
The vocals emitted by Falcon Down is interesting, at time shallow and at other times the music reflects itself through a very deep well of artesian water. There is clarity within the music on Delusions of Grandeur and overall the album is a pleasant listen and is well recorded.
Sister Grizzly was birthed out of Oakland, CA and is a duo giving their audiences sweet, passionate grunge rock. This release, Women of Colour, acts as an EP and a prelude to a wider collection of songs that the band plans to release this summer.
The track “Molecules” is just brimming with passion and is really all about “YOU!” The song is a pure ballad of love and a love that reaches so deep down into the protagonist’s molecules. On this track the vocals really take the lead, the long drawn out “you,” from the lyrics “never had a home, where I felt so much at home like I did when I was sleeping next to you.” The percussion keeps this song running along and as it goes on I start to miss whoever this mystery girl is that the vocalist is harping about, the passion is that real.
The next track “Azaleas” begins with a steep baseline that catches you right from the beginning, the lyrics “why can’t you be what I want, what I want, “ are repeated over and over again with a welling passion that only grows as the song moves along. It makes you think of all the crappy relationships you’ve ever had and makes you wish you had this song to sing at the top of your lungs.
The last song on the EP titled “Hush” is a syrupy, slowed-down rock ballad that gently sweeps you away to a romantic land of mist and roses. The vocals on this track are much different than the style on the previous songs and the guitars and percussion have also morphed to be more mellow and softer. This is a great song to close the EP Women of Colour; “close your eyes, it’s alright.”
Sister Grizzly gives their listeners the perfect set of passionate rock songs to forget about the pains of love and life. The EP is well recorded and each song has a different and refreshing vibe to it keeping the listeners’ attention throughout.
A bright and shiny duo from Minnesota, The Peace Life brings us their latest self-titled release The Peace Life. The duo consists of Jack O’Connor who brings us guitars and vocals along with the sweet voice of Tess’ailene. The couplet decided to take their poetry from paper and bring it to life through their song writing and musical talents. This has resulted in the production of a beautifully soothing collection of “peaceful” songs that were created by an artistically inclined duet.
The Peace Life could be described as purely folk music, the beats are simple and drawling and the vocals contrast with deep lyrics. The opening track on the album, “Mantra (part 1),” is quite literally a mantra and is void of lyrics. This song acts as a buffer and releases you from the harsh reality of our world and preps you for diving into the peaceful world the musicians have created for their listeners.
“Little Rocker” is a pleasant song about love. While listening to it you really feel as though you’re being rocked by your favorite lover. “Every time I look into your eyes, my troubles disappear;” the beautiful harmonization of both the male and female voice paired with soft repetition creates a lullaby effect. The next track “Space Race,” has a little more soul to it and far more lyrics to fill the mind with. I almost hear a little tinge of Spanish guitar in this one and I find the track incredibly romantic and a bit seductive, I imagine the vocalist in a hot red dress while singing this song.
The recording quality of the album could be slightly improved, as the vocals on some tracks are not as strong as the instruments. Either way, the music is enjoyable and The Peace Life is a successful release comprised of sophisticated folk music.
I really want to see Revolution, I Love You live. The band is a two-piece that sounds like a five-piece on their EP The Atlantic Ocean and when they play music for an audience “they face each other across two laptop and cable-strewn tables, both of them constantly shifting from vocals to guitar to keyboards to loopstations as the music rises out of electric fuzz and hypnotic loops.” There is a hybrid of sounds that revolves around a whirlwind of instrumentation. They implement synths, organ, guitars, bells, drums and more to bring their own version of indie pop that doesn't pigeonhole the music into one specific genre. Not matter how you classify the music the one component that you can’t argue is that music is addictively catchy. Not unlike Passion Pit the band relies on unbridled exuberance and joy as the unifying emotional center that permeates the EP.
A clean guitar, sparse organ and percussive elements made of fingers snaps and a vocal sample provides the canvas of sounds for the vocalist to sing over in “The Atlantic Ocean.” As the song progresses it builds in intensity by adding layers of drums, vocal harmonies and fuzzed out electric guitars. The song wisely doesn't just build the whole time but breaks down the song multiple times to create peaks and valleys for the listener.
“My Time Is Not Now” is more upbeat and dance worthy than the first track. I couldn't help bobbing my head as I listened to it. The best part comes when the guys sing against a sole drum kit for verse before exploding into the chorus. “Shotgun” is the slower song amongst the batch but is sonically the most experimental. Towards the end of the tracks the guys unleash buzzsaw lead guitars before transitioning into a memorable sing-along type chorus, which is the melody most likely toget stuck in your head.
The guys end on a high with “Atlantic City,” which is a guitar driven song that rocks out more than any other track on the album. It left me wanting more.
The Atlantic Ocean may only have four songs but it showed the eclectic nature of the band as the elements that unify them. I’m more than excited for a full-length.
Portland, Oregon's The Lovely Lost want to make timeless music, "like when you’re listening to ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay’ by Otis Redding," as singer Michael Collins put it. Timeless is a good way to put it, as you'll hear everything from romantic '50s ballads to storming '90s fuzz rock, on The Lovely Lost's debut EP Can You See Me Now?
The Lovely Lost love music too much to be confined to a single genre. Their music has a heavy sensibility, mainly in the tight and agitated drumming of Merlin Coryell, against a wall of grunge/shoegaze guitars. All of these influences are filtered through a classic jangle folk rock sensibility, heavy on riffs and catchy melodies, which is emphasized in the heavenly gospel harmonies of Jo Bewley, which brings sweetness and heart to the proceedings. "If you throw in a little bit of dancyness, or indie, or soul, you can please everyone," explains Michael Collins again.
Rather than watering down each individual flavor into a tasteless porridge, The Lovely Lost weave their influences into a unique whole, transforming the familiar into something new and startling. While it may not exactly be revelatory for a band to mine fuzzy '60s rock for inspiration, at this stage in the game, it IS unusual to hear it with this level of precision and intensity. There is nothing laid-back or lackluster about Can You See Me Now?
It makes you lean in, to look and listen closer. You begin to notice the details and nuances, like the fills and trills of "Breathe Again," that lovely stepladder guitar riff, which erupts into a wall-to-wall carpet of thick guitars. Or the bleak and suicidal lyrics of "Fantacide,” set to a bittersweet and infectious melody. You'll be humming along to the words, "I think I'm gonna kill myself today," without realizing it. You'd be forgiven for thinking you were listening to "China Cat Sunflower,” albeit with a particularly brutal death metal drummer.
If you dismiss The Lovely Lost at surface level, thinking that you've heard it all before, and hit the skip button, you'll be missing out on a fine jewel of jangle fuzz folk grunge. You may think you've heard it all, but you haven't. Can You See Me Now? is a solid debut offering from a band with chops and ideas. Not afraid to go their own way, do their own thing or follow their own tastes and personal vision. It should be interesting to see where their trajectory takes them.
I’m not sure really how to define the solo project from Mike Jones The Slow Road South. The songs off his album Abbot Of Unreason sometimes sound like post 80’s contemporary pop. Somewhere between Avalon era Roxy Music and a more ambient Peter Gabriel. Thematically and lyrically Jones tries to tackle existential questions that can often come off as pretentious but Jones gets away with it. For one, the music is often celebratory which helps and sometimes the lyrics are so over the top you kind of just laugh. For instance, on the song “Clouds of Magellan” I couldn't help but smirk when he sings (with a bit of delay on his voice), “From the Clouds of Magellan / To the Boat of Orion / In the eyes of a child / There’s time.” I felt like Jones knew exactly what he was doing, which made it work.
Abbot of Unreason was a complete DIY effort and for the most part sounds good production-wise. There are a couple of things you notice here and there that would have been tightened up if it was recorded at a professional studio but they are mostly innocuous.
After listening to this album a couple of times I think it’s safe to qualify it as a “grower.” It wasn’t something that immediately jumped out at me but after a couple of listens to songs it started to get better. Beware though, you may start singing some of the choruses in the shower. You may not even know why at first or who the artist is but you will figure it out. The album starts out with “Fly.” Jones combines what sounds like synthetic percussion, clean guitars with more than chorus effect, warm pads and sparsely placed base. It isn't long before he goes into an exuberant, cheerful type chorus that permeates most of the album.
“Clouds of Magellan” rides a similar wave of sounds but this time offers up an arpeggiated synth and chooses to split the song into two different emotional spaces The first half is melancholy even dark but about halfway through into the second chorus Jones bursts into a cheerful and ecstatic rendition.
“Out Of Time” is a percussive-heavy yet spacious track while “Never Let You Go” adds layers of instrumentation as it progresses. The album ends with arguably the highlight of the album called “You Say.” I really enjoyed the catchy chorus on this one.
Overall, Abbott of Unreason has few lulls and is a well written whimsical journey that is worth your time to check out.
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