Buffalo Boy is a solo project led by James Attenborough based out of South Wales, UK. He is releasing his latest album entitled EP which he started recording in Nov. 2019.
With themes of loneliness, acceptance and hope, the EP was inspired by watching the sun of a window in his parent’s house. Pretty much the entire EP encompasses the sight of the sun setting with the first track “Dreaming On,” portraying the moment the sun begins to dip and continues throughout the track list. You can tell the view outside his window is quite visionary and this is easily seen on the album art cover with a picturesque scene of a glowing sun set filled with hues of neon colored pinks and purples. The hazy and dream-like sequences in Attenborough’s EP showcases the fantastic scene that he witnessed as he narrates it in this EP. As the sound of the album progresses, the artist leans into a cadence that is a rush of colors and sounds.
EP opens with “Dreaming On,” where some electric guitar riffs gives off an enthralling psychedelic sound. Synths goes on to power the track. This is a dreamy and hazy synth pop song with traces of classic rock. The vocals are echo-y. It is a little hard to discern what he is saying as the reverberation and distortion effects affects the clarity of the vocals. The guitars are jangly.
Following is “Ocean Wandering,” where shooting rays of synths project a robotic note. Attenborough’s vocals come in with a hush of expectancy. The vocals are urgent and pressing. The guitars are supported by a drumming beat. The sound is altogether hazy and dreamy. The synths provide an ambient vibe.
A retro-inspired sound could be detected with a ‘60s-‘70s era vibe coming from the guitar work on “Stranger Times.” This is a catchy and upbeat song. The synths oscillate in and out of this track with shooting bursts of sound. The vocals are sung in a low octave that makes it sound like a drone.
On the closer “Yesterday,” reverberating synths start off this track. A psychedelic sound is evident from the guitars. The synths echo and provide a bit of discord with the dissonance offering an off-kilter vibe. The vocals come in through the distortion with an echo-y cadence.
A one-man band project, the endeavor is entirely DIY and independent. The EP was recorded in Attenborough’s bedroom with each track written, recorded, produced and mastered by the artist. With a sound that packs in psychedelic pop of the ‘60s with dreamy pop influences, Attenborough ties in his inspirations with his musical experiences and tastes, and delves into a sound that juxtaposes classic rock with his own modernized flavor. Attenborough tries to establish a familiar and accessible vintage rock sound while also unleashing a rock sound that is all his own.
While these were bedroom recordings, the sound can oftentimes veer towards the lo-fi region. Yet these home recordings allowed the dreamy and haunting quality of these productions to really breathe. This is an approachable album that has a footing in both classic rock roots and a more contemporary sound. Be sure you have a listen today!
Last year 1.O.M. released Pilot which we reviewed here at Divide & Conquer. Since that release he has been fast at work and just released Mosaic. This release as he explains, “draws from a more diverse set of influences, such as hip hop, psychedelic and swing.” The guitar work is the main focus but is approached differently from song to song.
“Ignition” is the first song and has an indie rock type vibe not too far from bands like The Killers and Phoenix. There is a funk as well as different sections. I was reminded of Daft Punk. The song felt like an amalgamation of different styles that gained some popularity over the last fifteen years or so.
“Satin” felt like a highlight. This seems to be where he takes a little dive into hip-hop and R&B. That being said the lead guitar is king. He plays into some unique melodies which sound off-kilter in a good way. The end was great which feels a little haunting.
He sounds more like a full band on “Hazel.” It felt like a mix of technical guitar guys like Joe Satriani and Radiohead. I liked the balance. The guitar is really the focal point but there are a nice array of builds and peaks in the song.
We get some reggae vibes on “Airhead” but also a song that just felt like it would put you in a good mood. This is another example of a song where the guitar is the instrument that creates the prominent melodies. There is also some well placed piano. The song is constantly moving and won't leave you bored. That’s for sure.
I definitely would not have guessed that I would be greeted with a warm acoustic guitar and a more reflective song but that’s was what I was treated to on “Temporary.” It was a welcome deviation. The closing track “Mosaic” feels like his bread and butter style where the song has energy and is primarily rock based.
One of this artist’s goals was to improve and evolve and this EP certainly displayed that. This was an enjoyable release and I hope he continues to move forward.
First and foremost I love that the band Basement Sound decided to name their album Good Job Some Of You!. I found it clever and funny. The album contains ten songs which revolve around the punk sound that was most popular in the late ’90s and early 2000’s.
I remember when I was in high school in the mid ’90s and discovered NOFX. It didn’t sound like ’70s english punk and it didn’t sound like pop punk like Blink-182. It was fast, intense and had tons of attitude. Before you knew it that moment in time had created a slightly new version of punk that skaters, punk and misfits could embrace.
The songs are all under three minutes which for punk in my opinion is good. It’s hard to even call a song punk if it's over five minutes. That being said this is a seamless listening experience where the songs flow into each other. They change up BPM and chord progressions but the vibe really sticks to the same style.
They open with “Paint By Numbers” which is an anthemic song and arguably the most single worthy. It’s catchy, fun and has a decent amount of angst as well. They continue to have success with “Poison Baby” and “Shit Attitudes For $100.” “Texas Is For Losers” is very fast and was such a throwback to skate punk.
“Horror Movies To Sleep To” and “City's Burning Down” really don’t stray from their formula. Its deviations are subtle and by this time was just really enjoying the signature sound they were creating. “Tightwire'' refers to drunken time while “This Bottle Aint Big Enough For The Both Of Us” sounds like the account of the trials and tribulations of life as a young person. They close with an extra intense song entitled “Wake Up.”
This album really nails the aesthetic of punk records from twenty plus years ago. I’m not as young as I used to be but I know there is still a large fan base for this style and Basement Sound pulls it off.
TWINS is an Iowa band formed in 2011 by members of the Sires family. Dream On is the group’s fourth album, just released this June. The band has shared the stage with many notable acts such as Dr. Dog, the Jayhawks, Ben Kweller, Lydia Loveless and many more. They have toured extensively since forming, playing shows and festivals all over the U.S. from Iowa’s “80/35” to an official SXSW showcase in 2016 on the heels of their album Square America, which was released through the independent label Maximum Ames Records. Dream On finds the band at a crossroads – “redirecting” their efforts which earned them a reputation as an intense and energetic ’70s rock n’ roll band. The group calls this latest recording “an existential album – honest and comfortable in its own skin” and a “singer/songwriter album with roots in classic American rock n’ roll.” Recorded in an old store front in an Iowa ghost town, you’ll hear echoes of many great artists such as, The Grateful Dead, Wilco, Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt, Lucinda Williams, Simon & Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Dylan.
Opening the album is “The Laws of Love” a slow, folk rock number complete with a full sound of bass, drums, piano and a smooth, twangy guitar – oh yeah, and the sweet sounds of the mandolin – a nice, all around tune to introduce the listener. “Hearts” is a faster number, a little more pop, a bit more twang on the voice.
This one melds together America roots music ala Springsteen with the band’s own brand of arrangement. One of things I like best about these types of bands is how they can “transport your consciousness” to an emotional place in one’s heart – that’s what “Reminds Me of the Rose” did for me. Kind of what old Springsteen stuff did when I first heard it. If what I said made sense, then you know what I mean. Beautiful song.
“Passenger” puts together ‘70s rock sensibilities with modern influences of the Jayhawks, Wilco and the Black Crowes. A great rock melody, with nice solos here and there. And, you can never have enough cowbell – you’ll hear that too. Next is “In Yer Dreams” a slight detour into the folksier side of the band starting out with harmonica, but there’s a definite rock n’ roll style with more mandolin and the organ, too. In fact, there’s seems to be a lot going on musically here. “Buffalo Snow” feels introspective with hushed tones and the gentle brush sounds on the snare. Being from the upper Midwest, any song with ‘snow’ in the title is relatable and well worth a listen. A gorgeous song with tender melodies, this gave me goosebumps – the good kind.
“So Far Gone” has got some great finesse. A smooth groove that if you listen close, has that classic ‘70s rock sound but with the band’s own modern style. The bass line was killer. “Straight River Sketch” features the acoustic as lead and some extra effects thrown in to keep time. This one definitely has a singer/songwriter shine to it. Not too familiar with Townes Van Zandt and I only know a handful of Kristofferson songs, but I suspect their influences fit right alongside here. Anyway, another fantastic number with softhearted melodies and lyrics that would make a grown man cry. Man, I could listen to this one several times over. Last up, is “Living Proof” and the arrangement with piano melody made me think Springsteen almost immediately – think his old ‘70s Jersey stuff. Love it! As a whole, TWINS’Dream On is consistent and balanced from beginning to end. Great inviting melodies and solid chemistry between the players. Don’t pass this one up!
The Green House Band is a female fronted six-piece rock band from Denver, CO, comprised of Joe, Tommy, Matt, Hayden, Marlee and Michael. The band is releasing their latest self-titled EP The Green House Band.
In the soul and Americana traditions, The Green House Band reels in audiences with their catchy and inspiring riffs, their jaunty rhythms and soul-induced vocals. Energized and spirited, the songs on this EP takes flight with a sound inspired by bands like Lake Street Drive, Wilco, Tedeschi Trucks Band, California Honeydrops and The Allman Brothers, all while toting a sound that is authentic and original. You can see the band get into the zone as their revved playing leads into many a jam-session. The band members bring to the table the sounds of their past homes all across the country into the recording.
The Green House Band opens up with “Little Boat,” where noodling on the electric guitar provides a pensive and numerating vibe. The guitar sounds then segue into vocals bursting with flavor. The band dives into a folksy and Americana vibe.
A rumbling Western vibe could be detected from the guitars towards the start of “Uncle Steve Reed.” Next, a more full-on appeal coalesces with bass lines, drums, keys and percussions.. The interwoven vocal layers create some tight-knit harmonies and melodies. The feeling is invigorating and infectious.
“Saint” contains a sauntering and jaunty beat. The feeling is lively and enthused as the vocals come in. The atmosphere is revved and fun-loving. This is an upbeat and vibrant track that covers the folk and soul genres. A keys solo courses through this song toward the two-and-a-half-minute hold.
On the closer “Belmar,” bouncy beats come from the drums adding a driving force that really propels the track forward. The guitars are shimmering overhead with a melodious sound. The vocals arrive, soaring with catchy and melodious riffs. This is a dynamic song filled with a country-bent and soulful vibe. The band adds in a revved jam-session toward the outro of this track, producing an apt ending to a dynamic EP.
The band distinguishes themselves from other acts by recording their EP through live takes that really makes these set of songs breathe and come to life. The technique allows the band’s chemistry and revved performances to shine through, offering listeners a glimpse into the band’s live act. Fans of the aforementioned genres will find a band in a similar vein to appreciate. The Green House Band plays pretty much straightforward folk and Americana. But their synergy is definitely something to look forward to. Be sure you have a listen today!
Tyler Graham is a guitarist from Conway, Arkansas. Playing mostly for his own interest for years, he only recently wanted to get his music out there and play with other people as well as for an audience. What drives him is the power that music holds to “connect and unify” – to span across differences, change hearts and minds and to bring us closer together. In a Little While is Graham’s first major musical project – a culmination of things that have been on his mind while in quarantine. The album itself was inspired by the guitar styles of Trey Anastasio of Phish and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame. A graduate student of English, while not playing guitar, Tyler chases tornadoes and writes poetry.
He remarks that this is an album which “explores the essence of memory” and he aims to make his guitar style central to the album, but not dominate it. Thematically, it explores the process of memory, what we prioritize through memory, and what memory does for us in the grand scheme of life.
Starting off is “Lavender Morning” an eight-minute “concept song” of sorts, featuring bird calls, ambient sounding keys ebbing and flowing, and soulful guitar licks in between. The drums drop in after four minutes and if you’ve got headphones on, the keys get “trippy” as they were mixed bouncing back and forth between the ears. There’s something Pink Floyd-ish about this one that I liked and rightly so, as Graham mentions Gilmour being one of his influences. “A Ballad for Memory” features louder bird calls and a female voice stating some words I can barely make out. For the first time, you’ll hear Graham’s voice. He’s got a clean and bright tenor, very lovely – I’d say a cross between Gilmour and Roland Orzabal from Tears from Fears. He also plays more of his clean guitar style and mixes in some piano as well.
“In Queue” is another all instrumental tune and equally as mellow as the opener, although Graham branches out more on guitar and adds some extra flare and texture. He also adds a bit more keyboard and a stronger drum presence, too. He states that the song features a “bluesy mystique and oddly timed shifts, that builds tension and portrays the process of memories being created.” Next, is “To Sleep” and it begins with a recitation of John Keats’ poem by the same name. This one gets a bit trippier on guitars and adds a danceable funk groove. Lyrically, Graham delivers his words in a hip-hop/rap fashion as the words rhyme along with the beat of the tune. This reminded me of something from Floyd’s The Wall, or at least it had that same spirit. “When Things Fall Apart” brings in more bird call songs (one is a mourning dove) and a clear sounding voice of a girl with an echo effect added. Definite Pink Floyd influence here, I’d say. As Graham states, the song is about the effects of a lost relationship and how we deal with loss on a grander scale.
“Blue Shift” finds Graham leading in with the acoustic, adding layered textures on the keys with nice effects and just enough rumbling drums in the background to add some depth. This one by far was my favorite instrumental, although Graham adds a few lines of words at the end. There seemed to be a lot going on overall, a feast for the ears for sure.
A spacious and “lighter” sounding song, in my opinion. Ending this interesting journey is “Watch the Flowers Grow.” Graham sounds mature beyond his years – perhaps it’s the words he sings. Musically, it’s just his voice and guitar, but his message is timeless and calls us to reflect on life’s sweeter moments and the people we’ve shared them with. Graham says that the song “speaks volumes to our current situation; quarantine, pandemic, death...maybe we should take this time "to think a while / of the ones we love." A simple and sweet tune to end this short album. Not many artists I know of tap into the lighter and sweeter tones of Pink Floyd’s trademark ambient/spacious style. Tyler Graham pulled it off well on In a Little While.
Christian Messier is a Minnesota-born musician, currently based near Paris, France. After graduating from the conservatory of Lawrence University, Messier began performing around locally in venues such as bars and nursing homes. His move to France brought him closer to the culture and people, and he began writing songs based on his experiences in the country. He is releasing his latest album entitled Europe on My Mind.
Europe on My Mind is a collection of songs that describes the artist’s adventures in Europe. Bilingual in French and English, Messier goes out of his way to produce music that can be described as Franco-American folk pop. His oftentimes stripped-down compositions, centered on the acoustic guitar, certainly does revolve around the folk traditions. Having grown up in a musical household, he was raised listening to classic and folk rock masters such as Credence Clearwater Revival and Queen. With clear crystalline vocals and pensive lyrics, the storytelling in these set of songs are reflective of adventure and journey. And there certainly is a sense of journey to these songs as we traverse from styles and sounds of yesteryear to a more modernized approach. Messier does a great job of merging the two worlds with his evocative blend of indie folk pop.
Europe on My Mind opens with “Ain’t That Just The Way,” where deft finger-picking on the acoustic guitar at first starts off this song. Messier’s vocals come in with a great folksy vibe. The track is simply rendered with a stripped-down sound. With just simply the acoustic guitar at first, eventually the sound of keys trickles in. This is a quiet song that numerates on the bittersweetness of the end of a relationship. The music is soft and lulling.
Following is “Quand Je Pense (A Toi)” which is an upbeat and catchy song. The guitars come in with a vibrant vibe. The percussions provide a lively and jaunty backbeat. The keys are energized and melodic. The vocals are entirely sung in French. Even though I couldn’t understand the lyrics, I could really feel the vibrancy of the emotions pervading from Messier’s touching vocals.
A quiet and meandering piano melody traces “Europe On My Mind” towards the start. Messier’s vocals come in filled with range and flair. He sings in a jazzy show tunes vibe. The vocals sound like they could be from a Broadway show. The sound of horns underscores this track. The piano melody is bright and sunny.
On the closer “Useless Information,” a soft sound comes from the acoustic guitar. The sound quietly underlines the vocals. Messier’s singing is pressing and pervades with a strong sense of urgency. This is a dramatic ballad. The album closes with this dynamic finish. The sounds of lush strings also trace this song.
In the singer/songwriter vein, Messier bares all on these quiet tracks. Their simplicity rings true with emotion simmering softly in the vocals and the soulful quality of the music. With folk roots, these tracks are underscored with a quiet strength that shows off Messier’s range as a vocalist. While the lyrics oftentimes reflect the past, for instance the track “Quel Drole De Chemin” references the French classic “Les Champs-Elysees,” Messier also sings about having a clear-eye vantage point of the future. Anchored in vintage sounds of the past with a footing in the present, Messier presses on with a timeless sound filled with soul and range.
With psychedelic guitar riffs and humorous lyrics, Snatch the Snail is a fun-loving retro surf band that has been around since 2012 and is based in North Carolina. They are releasing their latest album entitled Glowing Green.
Snatch the Snail will show you one helluva good time with energetic and amped performances. Self-dubbed as “Green Day meets Tera Melos,” the band showcases the vicarious energy of the aforementioned punk rock bands through pumped sessions.
Glowing Green opens up with “Snatchin’ The Snail,” where guitar riffs and pulsating bass lines gives off a fully charged vibe. The vocals are sung with gusto and range. This is a fun-loving song filled with catchy and melodic hooks.
Following is “I’m Telepathic,” where right off the bat the band jumps into this track. The guitars are played in a discordant fashion. The dissonance works into an off-kilter vibe. The vocals are sung in a stop and go staccato manner. The feeling is hesitant and robotic-like. The music reflects this distortion. The rhythms are jaunty and jarring.
Driven guitars and bass lines provide for a hard-hitting sound on “Feminist Hooker Hotline.” The vocals are shouted out with gusto. The vibe is energized and amped. The band’s punk rock influences could be heard in this song.
On the closer “Make My Maker,” the music is dynamic. The guitars are full-on. The vocals are adamant and sung with gusto. This closing song is a definite highlight with a strong sense of urgency underlining this track.
Though these bite-sized surf gems were on the shorter end, leaving me hungry for more, they laid out a solid foundation of what the band is trying to do here. Their enthused performances filled with psychedelic and surf undertones and witty lyrics paints a picture of a band that does not take themselves too seriously. Fans of surf and punk rock will find something in a similar vein to listen to. If you’re looking for some punk rock grit with psychedelic surf riffs, Snatch the Snail’s Glowing Green easily fills in all the categories. Be sure you have a listen today!
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Dead Doves & Rotting Olive Branches is the debut album from Western Bloc. The man behind all the music is Barry James McCarthy. This is an album that seems to have most of its roots in post punk - in particular from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Suffice it to say the music should feel right at home if you have a playlist of bands like Joy Division, Happy Mondays and Wire.
The album really has that down to the aesthetics and production. Take for instance the way the bass was treated which has the punchy but robotic tone that defined a lot of songs from Joy Division. That being said there are also elements in the songs that reminded me of music that came after the initial explosion on post punk such as The Stone Roses and other English bands that arrived about a decade later.
The album starts with “Metro Gnome” and I was really digging the melodies, structure and lyrics. In addition to the post punk vibe I was picking up on early shoegaze in the spirit of The Jesus and Mary Chain. The expressive and somewhat jarring vocals on “Korea Opportunities” sounded like the ghost of Ian Curtis on the verse while the chorus bursts wide open with an almost anthem like quality.
There are different strains of sound. “All The Psychics Were An Hour Late” contains some psychedelic qualities that create one of the highlights on the album. “What Are You Looking For?’ is a song that absolutely rocks and drives. The organ breakdown was also great.
“Scared of Tomorrow” contains some killer wailing guitar. I loved how it felt like the distortion was constantly going to spill over. He has more success with “Anarcho-Syndicalist Milkman” and “Will I Ever Finish Ulysses?” The closer “Comforts Failure” is a near perfect landing with some more great guitar and vocal work.
McCarthy wears his influence on his sleeve with this release but also delivers the songs in his own way. The songs were consistently good from beginning to end. I must also say I loved the names of these songs. If you are well versed in some of the aforementioned genres and bands this should be an easy win. If not this isn’t a bad place to start. Recommended.
Holy Tokes is a band from Vancouver that recently released Killing Time. This is an extremely fun, vibrant and energy infused release. The music felt like it was meant to be heard loud on Friday night at a jam packed rock venue.
The band immediately kicks ass with “I Ain't You're Mamma.” I loved the Faith No More type funk that no one does anymore. The song goes in a number of directions with builds and '70s funk bridge and post-rock inspired breakdown. I can’t stress enough how hard this band shreds. The groove they lock into is one for the ages and is a certified highlight.
Next up is “Lions (Break Out)” which is another great song. The song initially had more of a contemporary indie rock vibe to me. That being said the vocals are so unique and dynamic it gives the song an undeniable quality that defines Holy Tokes. “Killing Time” is maybe their ballad. It was a welcome addition to their sound and the instruments really breathe here and half way through the song they really start playing into a reggae vibe.
They go back into rock mode with the title track “Killing Time.” There are moments in this song where the guitars cut through the rest of the instruments like a knife. The band gets into their own fusion of genres on “Pay The Rich.” I liked the distorted bass on this and there are some moments which drive really hard. They close with “Heavy Pedal” which has a tad more ’70s classic rock influence. That being said they go into a lot of different genres on this song.
As I mentioned this band sounds like they thrive in a live setting. Since most of us are not going to concerts at the moment my suggestion is to blast this one out loud in your living room with your favorite beverage in hand. Take a listen.
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