Dance funk folk punk?
Mississippi's The Red Thangs is known for energetic live shows all across Mississippi. It shows in their blend of infectious vocal harmonies, tasty and tasteful horn stabs, and catchy guitar riffs. This is music to move a room, to get down and lose yourself, forget your problems for an evening, drowning your problems in sweaty abandon.
It is pop music, pure and simple, no matter how many alternative identifiers they adopt on their self-titled debut album The Red Thangs. The production is superb throughout and helps with the visceral impact of the songs.
The album opens up with the chords from The Clash's “London Calling” strummed on ukulele, on “Self Unconscious.” This is part of what is great about this record. There's something righteously awesome about the energetic rebellion of punk rock being absorbed into different forms and styles, and it's thrilling to watch pop being infused with a riotous current. But the fact that this insurgent anthem has been translated onto the harmless ukulele let’s us know that this mongrel has had its teeth pulled.
The vocal performance of "All Dressed Up" is one of the best on the album. The vocalist delivery is somewhere between scatting/singing and was reminiscent Ryan Kattner from Man Man. An overall infectious song that is hard to deny. Some of the production tricks they implement aren't overboard and fit perfectly into the song such as the cut up the vocal sample they detune.
Icarus is another success which features Blair Bingham on lead vocals. When the chorus hit the vocal line is pure pop goodness and you will be singing along by the end of the song.
As the album progresses the band delivers a number of other highlights which you won't want to miss including "Now? Now!", "Commonwealth", and the emotional resonant "Canadian Dream".
The Red Thangs make pop music but it never feels cheesy or contrived on their self-titled album. This is a great album to close out the summer.
It goes without saying that this group Your Cat is a Landmine enjoys playing around with titles. Don’t take yourself too seriously is a pretty good motto after all. So Your Cat is a Landmine? What could that possibly mean? There’s intrigue in the mystery so let’s just keep it at that. And more importantly, the music speaks for itself whenever track listings turn up an eyebrow.
I can personally vouch that the first song on their album A Gift You Can’t Ignore is especially off-putting – Natalie Portman stands as my celebrity crush #1 and that’s going on 15 years strong now. If her tapeworm sounds as good as that track then I’ll throw my hands up and call it a night.
“Natalie Portman’s Tapeworm” is a rock song for the pop/alt king or queen. It shares the elements of fast paced head banging and light verses sprinkled with guitar and founded on gentle bass. Think Queens of the Stone Age with a side of Vampire Weekend. A small side. Like coleslaw.
“Canada Water” is chugging and deep rooted in groove. The drums slam down with a strong back beat fueling the brash distortion that collapses upon an otherwise mellow tune. The vocals are always just a few lines away from growling tones and emotional screams. Somehow it fits despite its very metal delivery. The song’s ending is a testament to the vocalist’s chord straining barks.
The final track “Cougar Love Adventure” sounds like a Pearl Jam B-side. The vocals walk that perfect line between rock bellow and rich baritone while the guitars fully embrace the ‘90s rhythm/progression formula. It never gets old to hear that aesthetic revived, timeless genres never truly die.
To quote the album, this little collection is actually very much a gift you can’t ignore. Or shouldn’t ignore at least. The music scene could always benefit from more true to soul rock bands, and in the right hands these guys will really turn some heads. They sound like a successful garage band tale and I think they’re on to something. Due to some pressures, they scrambled a bit to find the best material for their release and in this case, three was the magic number. I’d suggest you tune in to see what’s next because this is just the beginning.
The Concussion Theory, a southern band from Virginia, named themselves after the theory that states releasing explosives and artillery into the atmospheres will result in rainfall. With such a vivid and interesting moniker, the band does emit quite a unique and somewhat explosive sound and style. The Concussion Theory is the band’s debut release and they will soon embark on a tour to shower the east coast with their explosive and sometimes soothing alternative and punk rock inspired sounds.
The concept behind the album is based on the everyday experiences of the modern day human, and within every track The ConcussionTheory takes a stab at divulging every aspect of some of life’s mundane situations. “Anchor” kicks off the album and seems to harp about a relationship ending; "Two mortals wrapped in our mortal coil… You're so goddamn demanding stop standing in my way, anchor, you're pulling me down.” The song is very upbeat and is both pessimistic and optimistic at the same time, it is definitely a ballad to overcome the ends of a bad relationship; a great song to blast at high volume and scream at the top of your lungs.
“Oh Brother,” is another song with some serious connotations. This track seems to be about someone who is drowning in addiction and negative attractions. The lyrics tell us a descriptive story about trying to help a struggling friend, “Oh brother, how about you put that bottle down, you won't find me there at the bottom.” Another track “Beacon,” is about falling in love; “I will fall in love the way I fall asleep, slowly, then all at once.” This track has a seriously infectious melody that may be due to the rising and falling vocals.
The songs found within this album are passionate, genuine and high energy. You can’t find yourself falling asleep to any of the tracks within this album. Despite being definably rock and sometimes brash, The Concussion Theory manages to have an alluring persona that makes this album a solid listen. Sound quality is also great which makes this release a success in every aspect.
PopDose calls Organ Donor Blues, “11 tracks and no filler. The first sign that an album is good….top-notch arrangements being the second….(this album) fits the necessary requirements perfectly and then some." I have to agree. If Tom Petty had a horn section and lived in Tennessee this would be an amicable showing. You don’t hear Americana Rock with studly brass and bold backups very often if ever. John Velghe & The Prodigal Sons embodies the urgency of Townes Vanzandt in a package similar to Wilco. The album discusses social distance as well as relationship growth creating one great musical conversation.
Within these tracks is definitely a story worth hearing. You have to listen closely however because there are many layers to the sound just as there are many layers to our own life experiences. Some are bright while others are dark; some need time to fully appreciate where others are immediately satisfying.
“Beaten By Pretenders,” the first single, has received solid airplay and features some of Mike Alexander’s best guitar work in tandem with Velghe and Escovedo’s pure and true vocals. There is a subtle vulnerability in Escovedo’s voice on the chorus that juxtaposes this cheerful song with much more sad intention.
Each song on this record finds a way into your mind and latches on, which is something to attribute to their knack for giving you what you think you hear and then skimming off the top, breaking your expectations and sliding in that melancholy undertone that hits before you even see it coming.
The beat and bass line on “Gold Guitar” growl and plea while “Set It Fire” likens toward a Rolling Stones meets Beach Boys affair. Tight harmonies are key and ever present throughout the album. In the end, this is the kind of stuff that will last more than just a preliminary listen. I couldn’t wait to start it over.
When you listen to Harvest Moon from Steve Horne it’s like taking a peek into moments of his life. Most if not all of the songs on this album were inspired by true-life events. These are lyric based songs, which tell a story over acoustic, organic instrumentation. In addition to being able to listen to a narrative throughout most of the album Horne brings melodies and harmonies that make the music appealing from an aesthetic perspective. He implements electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums and orchestral strings providing a rich variety of sounds.
The album starts with a song called “Today,” which I am willing to bet is his wife's favorite song on the album considering he sang it to her at her wedding reception. It’s an upbeat, well-written song, which is a perfectly fine way to start an album. The theme for “It’s All Over Now” is evident in the title and I’m glad he didn’t pick this song to play at his wedding. There is a great acoustic guitar solo towards the end of this song that you won’t want to miss.
“Skyview in Jasmine” is one of the highlights of the album, which creates a dichotomy of emotional weight. The vibe of the song is rather light and happy while the actual subject matter delves into the dark subject matter of suicide.
“Silver Angel” is an emotional heavy eight-minute song, which spews solace and melancholy. Horne sings with conviction and it is obvious that the song is close to his heart. He sings, “When I have grown too weary when the world is just too hard I know she’s looking out for me though i know all things must pass.”
As the album progresses Horne unleashes a couple more notable songs such as “Ride” and “With You.” One of the biggest strengths with Harvest Moon is that all the songs feel connected musically but still have enough variation to keep you engaged. Not every song was a hit but a majority of the album works on a number of levels.
These days, having too many options is almost the same as having none at all. Too many possibilities can be as daunting as writer's block, as a musician or producer gets lost in the possibilities of endless multi-tracking and tweaking sounds.
Ben VanderBeek, the man solely responsible for Apology Fest, claims that "he used to write complicated songs that sounded mediocre, and now he writes simpler songs that sounds decent." That Should Count For Something, his first album, shows that there's something to be said for getting to the basics, and building from there.
To call this a stripped-down or lo-fi affair would be misleading, as the six tracks that make up That Should Count For Something are lush and ornate. The lily is gilded with woozy vocal harmonies, layered electric guitars; bright, brash, brass horn stabs; intensely intricate drumming. VanderBeek makes no bones about his infuences: Grandaddy, Sufjan Stevens, Iron And Wine, and Bon Iver are all listed in the tags on Bandcamp. In addition to these, I hear a strong Elliot Smith influence on That Should Count For Something, which is mainly evident in the layered vocal harmonies. Basically, this short transmission draws from the template of smart, literate, intricate indie rock of the late '90s/early '00s, which is updated with a post-hardcore sharpness and precision, like Fugazi or At The Drive-In covering Death Cab For Cutie. This can be seen most evidently on "When The Moment Is Right,” where jazz-like polyrhythmic breakbeats meet clean, chiming electric lead guitar and soulful horns. Old school meets the new, in an infectious, melodic celebration. These lyrics will end up written on shoes or a backpack, in wite-out or paint pen, just you watch.
That Should Count For Something was mastered by Andrew Garver at USC, whose credits include Burt Bacharach, Black Sabbath, Captain Beefheart and Rage Against The Machine. That should tell you how far VanderBeek is willing to go to make his material sound the best possible. That kind of attention to detail, that going the extra mile, will serve him well, as That Should Count For Something stands out from the legions of fuzzy bedroom producers, and makes you take notice. It's bright and clear, without becoming harsh or blaring. It rocks, while still being soothing. It's adventurous, while still being rooted in the classics.
One hopes that next time he applies some of that quality to album design, as well, as the scrawled Papyrus font in which I later found was his seven year old son's handwriting on the cover is not reflective of the masterful sounds contained within, and could deter the casual browser. But let us not judge a record by its cover.
Ben VanderBeek is ripping up rulebooks, ignoring trends and expectations, and sidestepping the hype machine. It seems that he just wants to write the best possible material and present it in the best possible way. It seems that he legitimately believes in the songs, in the performances, in his abilities and because of it he doesn't need to brag or boast. He offers forth these six windows into his world in a spirit of beautiful craftsmanship.
The irony about Apology Fest's "simpler songs" is it's not hard to imagine VanderBeek constructing something as ambitious as a Sergeant Pepper's or a Steely Dan record. He's gotten back to the basics, and is building on a strong foundation of excellent musicianship, taste, quality and craftsmanship.
Fans of Elliot Smith, Death Cab For Cutie, Quasi, Grandaddy, even Built To Spill or later Unwound, will surely find something of interest on this precocious slab. I expect good things on the horizon for Apology Fest.
Become A Fan
Audio Baton is the moniker for Ben Weddle who wrote, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered his first self-titled EP Audio Baton. Weddle’s music is hard to define but there are a couple of words, which can help describe it such as repetitive, hypnotic and atmospheric. Of the four songs on this EP Weddle will take on set of notes and not stray from it. He often layers it with other elements in order to create variation.
For instance the first song “O Furious” in which Weddle builds the song around a couple of notes that get covered in white noise, synths and other indistinguishable sounds as it progresses. Apparently, the lyrics on the song are from Walt Whitman but you would never know it as it’s impossible to understand a single word of what he is saying. His vocals are frustratingly low in the mix and are basically void of any mids or highs that are perceptible to the human ear.
The second song “Celebration” is an instrumental track that is a mix between annoying hard dissonance with a smudge beauty that is buried well beneath the mix. He is almost there but not quite with the song. It reminded me a bit of the song “Glide” by Fennesz, which in my opinion is the perfect combination of dissonance and harmony.
The music on the song “Like Be” sounded like a stripped down version of a song by “The Field.” HIs vocals are a bit more prominent in this song but I still couldn't understand the lyrics. When he sings his voice resides prominently between lower frequencies, which make it sound muddy.
Weddle hit his finest moment with the last track “Emancipation.” I was able to make out some of the lyrics this time around as the track builds upon a piano melody and sustains from an organ or synth. He implements his most impressive transition about half way through as the piano fades out and you are left with the hum of an organ and the rumbling of sub frequencies.
Weddle seems to be at a point where he is discovering his sound. His mixes could be balanced better and some of the songs are a couple of shades shy of being on target but that are a number of moments on the EP that led me to believe he is capable of making inspired music. We will see how this plays out.
Sarah Morgan and Joel Schrauben make up the duo that call themselves Muldoon. They recently released a four- song DIY style demo entitled Strange Magic, which serves as a sample of the type of music they play. The music contains slow moving reverb laced atmospheric globs of sound that are sung over by Morgan. I enjoyed the fact that they are embracing a style and aesthetic that few bands attempt. It mixes elements of post-rock and psychedelia where the guitar is the center of the music. It often moves like molasses but never the less is impactful.
The biggest issue and really the only issue with the EP is that this music calls for high production value, which unfortunately is not present. Music that is as grandiose as this should have guitars that sound like they were recorded at the top of a mountain and vocals that soar. It’s not there yet. The drums sometimes sound like ghosts of themselves and the vocals aren't treated properly. I realize not everyone has the ability to record in a professional studio with trained engineers but I hope the duo can make the jump at some point.
The EP starts with “Out of HIs Mind,” which begins with the light strumming of a sole guitar that quickly gets layered with a lead guitar and low hanging drums. The mood is melancholy as Morgan sings, “a dress that you bought, you build a house to fill.” Morgan puts on a dynamic vocal performance that displays her range.
“Wrecking Ball” is creates a sprawling landscape of distant sounding guitars while “Corners” has a space and openness that lets Morgan’s voice sound crisp. They close with “Seaside,” which has a distinct Pink Floyd type vibe and was also the most well written track on the EP. The grove as well as the vocal line gets stuck in your head.
This EP forms a good foundation for the band, which they can build upon. I hope to hear them evolve and grow with their next release.
As an art enthusiast I have to begin by commenting on this gorgeous album cover of Love Again by Divine Pilot. One can only hope that the musical content reflects such a level of sophisticated design and taste. But such is not the case. Listening to this group and examining the album creates a pretty solid disconnect. Granted, I know that a direct lineage isn’t necessary, but you’ve got to relate them somehow. That’s just a belief I hold strongly because I take the marriage of art and music seriously. They are my two passions in life and I’m grateful that I can be exposed to their unity so often.
Love Again is short and focused. It almost plays like one long song. The title track “Love again” has a smooth, funky beat and bright disposition. The drums find their moments and the vocals glide along with singsong melody and drawn out notes. I love when the guitar zips up into the stratos with quick action picking and on the money equalizing. It’s like something out of Tom Morello and The Edge’s brainchild.
“Be my cure” uses a great contrast between frolicking indie pop/rock and a ballad anthem to stay on top of the listener’s expectations. I couldn’t predict the next move on this track and I always appreciate that in an artist. Just when you think you might have this one pegged, they toss in a vintage organ lick and it works so well.
“Lonesome Rider” is a bluesy swinger that sounds like Audioslave right out the gate. But the melody becomes its own by song’s end, that quintessential indie rock guitar is just too much to resist. This song has a sort of beach vibe, care free and simple.
It all ended a little too soon and a touch abruptly for my taste, but that’s the name of the game. Divine Pilot is just another case of “wait and see.” Their best work is ahead of them.
Genre is an interesting and I guess clever name for a band. I’ll satisfy the quirky statement you may have already assembled pertaining to Genre’s genre. Well, it could be described as electronic, noise pop, alternative, etc. They are an exciting mutt of sounds. For the most part, the songs on their EP Scrape Your Voices on the Stars” are short chunks, quick to go down but slow to digest.
They pack a punch and get across a lot of feeling in such a short time. Look out for some “gotcha” use of dynamics because these guys take the soft/loud/soft combo to the extreme. The first time on “East Coast Sunshine Blues” I nearly pushed myself away from the screen. I think that’s what you call effective. Genre lulls you into a pleasant melody with hush vocals and then gives just enough space for a breath before they crank the volume and crash like a hurricane into your earhole.
"Just Go" combines distorted guitars, quirky synths and infectious vocals. Whenever the guitars enter they sound huge. “To See And Be Seen” has a powerful epilogue that could really stretch out if the band had any jam tendencies. The band rocks out on a triumphant march that is powerful and defined.
As for the rest of the record, my interest began to wane. What started out strong became a wandering march toward background blend.
I have to give credit to the creativity and image painting within their music as well as the language in their media. Their former EP was titled The Weepy Omelette and featured a teary-eyed drowsy egg concoction on the cover. This current project is equally original and urges us to cry out or sing out whatever it may be. Just be sure you scrape your voice on the stars. That kind of poetic thinking doesn’t conform to this misfit style of a group. The album’s cover implies a set of eyes containing a sort of Trivial Pursuit piece of sectioned aspects in social, musical and psychological culture. Make of it what you will, but I think it speaks volumes.
This album is just fine for the right mood. There are a number of solid songs but there is also a lot of ways that the band can grow and evolve.
We are 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 critique 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