From the beginning, Womb takes the listener to a dark dingy rock bar where the locals know that good rock music can be heard. Womb emulates a grungy rock sound with a slight influence from blues and perhaps even jazz. On EP, the opening track “Baby Don’t Love Me” starts off with a hard guitar bridge before the hypnotic backbeat starts that just keeps your head bobbing throughout the song. The lyrics “baby don’t love me, I swear to God if I find out there’s another man, I’ll make sure he burns in hell,” really stamps the vibe for the rest of the album. “Sicko Love” also starts off with an intense beat, but this one has more movement and the vocalist quickly jumps in to tell a story about a case of bad love.
The song “Irene” really has a devilish vibe to it; the vocalist manipulates his voice setting the scene for talking about this girl “Irene.” The drums are very strong on this track making it quite catchy. The last song on the album can really pull you into the groove. The guitar has an interesting fluctuation of only a couple of notes and the repetition really makes the song a toe-tapper. The vocals seem to just float melodically over the beat and the tone is super grungy while also sounding like classical rock.
This rock band out of Canada really has a unique sound all to themselves. They can be compared to several rock bands, but with their infusion of traditional rock from the early 20th century and the usage of blues tones, it sets Womb apart from others. Even though there are only four tracks on EP, the band is able to show their talent for both songwriting and production.
A band called Dark Star Honey Tree releasing something called Cape Meckko could've been anything. They could've been a psychedelic collective that still does tape releases. They could've been an unironic Vampire Weekend cover band. They could've been a bunch of middle-aged transgenders who listen to the Los Angeles Free Music Society tapes at three in the morning. What Dark Star Honey Tree is are two Texan brothers, Vincent and Victor Amour, who write tripped out, stoned up rock songs with lots of guitar.
Lo-fi production means the guitars swirl twice as thickly. The album focuses heavily on channeling early shoe gaze though lyrical repetition and gurney vocal harmonies. Dark Star Honey Tree also get into some punk and progressive moments, changing up tempos while dropping some technically impressive scales.
The narrative behind Cape Meckko is as follows: “a vicious assassin who comes to Cape Meckko, a town plagued by a group of sinister serial killers. What follows is mass pandemonium as the assassin interacts with these killers in the Cape, exterminating them one at a time." It's a pretty cool take on the modern concept album, and songs like "Headless" and "Thanks for the Warhead" are both evocative in their violent imagery.
The album runs into several production problems, but sometimes it contributes to the aesthetic, such as on "Ahold," where the amp noise contributes to the feeling of elation expressed by the vocalist. Other times it detracts; "The Sad Eyes" would be the best pop song of the year if it didn't transition into that disappointing slow-tempo bridge.
There're many experiments going on in this album, from pop experimentations to loud guitar works to a general abandonment of melody in favor of tone. I say keep at it.
Arcade Vandals are four Aussies from Fraser Coast that play lascivious funk music that makes me break into vapors. Their self-titled EP Arcade Vandals is their first contribution to the music world and if you favor sultry male harmonies backed by slapping' bass, hard rock guitar licks and muscular drum breaks, you'll ensure it's not their last.
Their sound is hard and heavy, but curiously laid back. Lead vocalist Rob Bryant has a nice rasp that helps focus the music's emotion, which is already pumped up thanks especially to bassist Brett Westlake, who commands each track with thick, crunchy rhythms. The overall sound of the EP is bar-friendly rumpus rock cross-bred with the more adult-oriented 80s rock. It's only four songs long, two tracks that cut deep and two that bruise.
The cutters are the opener and closers. "Put It All On the Line" introduces t Arcade Vandals at their strongest when they bust out arena-appropriate guitar riffs with Bryant's steamy yowl. It's a sexy song with an affirming message, but it's the chiseled rhythms and searing guitar work that make it a converter. Oddly enough, the band leans far away from the desperation of the opener and delves into softer, even rustic territory. This culminates on the stunner "The Band." It's an autobiographical number (I mean, they didn't say that but come on) that features more delicate guitar work, softer drumming and the pronounced bass sound is decidedly more subdued. The lyrics frankly describe the trials of attempting to make it big in the world of music. Most of the track's strength comes not from the tight composition but the wounded vocals and the way the singer empathizes with his subject.
The bruisers are the middle tracks and prove the band has staying potential with their pop experiments. "Headlights" is a mid-tempo garage rock (with slight country influences) number with nice guitar overdub and a more buoyant feeling than "Put It All On the Line." There's more freedom for the band to explore positive emotions, and they capitalize it next on "Fairytales." Here is where the band delves into a weird mix of surf, full-blown Kings of Leon riffs and psychedelia (mostly in the lyrics, someone eats LSD). It's the most poppy number, if the most inappropriate. In the world of Arcade Vandals, black sheep sling crack, not wool.
It's only four tracks, but damn, I enjoyed them. No real ending for this review. Arcade Vandals know what they're doing and while they're still feeling their sound out, their versatility (and bass!) makes them strong contenders for whatever scene they're trying to break into.
Poppy and glossy and primarily acoustic pop from this NY duo, Supersmall, and oh dear lord Colin Dempsey sounds like a New Englander like woah. Guitarist Dempsey works construction by day and drummer Daniela Schiller is an Israeli neuroscientist because why not. When they're not doing their day jobs as people directly involved with social structures both physical and abstract, they don their folk hero costumes make affecting acoustic pop with a variety of influences.
The wane melancholy of Nick Drake is inverted on the eponymous opener while they take a more jazzy approach on "Blue Skies (The End)" and there's even an organ. But then "Goodbye Old Friend" goes back to rustic melodies displayed on the first track. And there’s a much slower, more melodic lounge number that appears within "Everywhere." So they're quite the style shifters on these seven tracks.
This Other World is not a long listen, but it's a damn strong one. Dempsey's pneumatic voice can contract to sound tough like when he's singing blunt reminders like "It's a shame you're going nowhere / you can't go forward / you can't remember." But he can also let his sound float around like in "Everywhere." A poetic line like "You're a star and you're the air / you're all I breath you're everywhere" sounds awesome with the autumnal string arrangements, but it's Dempsey's voice that gives it quiet passion. Schiller adds to the sound with defined percussion. On "Fireworks (Hidden Track)" (don't know if I was supposed to tell you that), which sounds funky as hell, Schiller gives a powerful performance and her simple drum patterns still hit the spot. I'd say she takes after The Kinks' Mick Avory and more recently Weezer's Patrick Wilson.
It's not entirely folk music but the genres don't blend enough to call it a crossover. Each song stands on its own and Supersmall explores genres as casually and effectively as if they were picking a bouquet of wild roses. Their spirit is high, and mine certainly was, too, by the end of this.
In case you didn't catch our review of dadala’s previous release Just Look In My Head it is pertinent that the listener has an understanding of how this music is put together. For me the process makes the music that much more interesting to listen to. For a full explanation check out their website but basically dadala has four members who live in three different states and practice improvisation recording. Basically they record, manipulate, sample whatever to their heart desires and then send it to RDunlap (founder of the band) to “arrange, combine, remix, edit, layer and otherwise manipulate.”
On their latest release Near Normal you have moments, which sound exactly like what you might expect. There are instruments and sounds that are chaotic and sometimes greatly mirror free jazz. Despite not having much structure, the best part about listening to the music is when you find a serendipitous moment. For instance when you listen to the second song “Salamander Pyramid” there are a couple of moments where you think to yourself they must have planned this out rather than each of them just doing their own thing.
The album starts out with “Box of Ash 1” which is full of sporadic lead guitar that somehow works with the bass as well drum work that is mostly tom fills and cymbals. It not a song for the feint of heart and is the type of song somebody might freak out on if they ingested too many drugs. “The Night with the Canyonites” mixes what sounds like horns and rhythmic loops. The song does have a bit of crescendo, then it dissipates and begins to coalesce again. I was astonished that “Sawdust Beach Clarinet Trio” was not planned out. It sounded like the most cohesive song yet and even had an emotional pull that was devoid on some of the previous songs. There's a distinct disconnected melancholy type vibe throughout that is mostly provided by the horns. “Etc Etc Sax Trio” sounded aligned as there was an overt jazz feel that reminded me of the vibe the classic album “Laughing Stock” by Talk Talk,
Overall, this can be a hard listen but is rewarding if you put the time in. Fans of free jazz may have just found their new favorite band.
Poetry happens to be music in motion, until you actually put music to the words because it can be hard to convey the emotion. When his EP Scrap Paper came out on July 30th of this year, Nate Gutman has been putting his poetry to his guitar since he was twelve years old. With that amount of time to perfect such a sound that has been compared to Iron and Wine, Gutman writes in an eloquent script that makes the strongest of hearts weaken. The lo-fi private sessions were recorded in Gutman's home. From hardcore to folk, you can't say he hasn't covered a wide area involving genres.
While acoustic EP's are in every Starbucks on every corner, coming across a heartfelt, inside windowed look at someone's work who actually takes the time to work on their songwriting is rare. There are some EP's that are instrumentally strong but not lyrically. And vice versa. But Gutman has all the ties in order.
The album starts out with one of the highlights of the album entitled "Love Has Truly Come". Gutman's voice is calming but also seeps with melancholy as he sings "Down in the south sea I thought I felt our breath in the cool breeze above my head and, in the seagulls that cried out above, I thought I heard our love"."Little Acorn" is another tearjerker where he delivers a fantastic vocal performance. The guitar melody is fragile and attractive but its his voice that contributes to the emotional weight of the song
The ending track “Somewhere Back There” has the intimacy to only be heard through headphones. This album is a must have in your collection, between variations of folk and indie rock given that today's pop hits have the same three verses repeated over and over. He builds a song through a conversation where the words rhyme and continues giving an intuition of the deepest onset of human connection.
This look into Gutman’s lyrical life on his EP Scrap Paper has paid off immensely.
The latest album from Oklahoma City rock band, Winter Circle, almost didn't happen. As the duo received more and more attention, began to tour, and made the transition to making music full time, lead singer, Kevin Dawson, was diagnosed with bone disease that causes once-healthy joints and bones to seize up and die. A charity enabled Dawson to have two complete hip replacements and he and, guitarist/keyboardist, Andy Hale to write music and work through what their future held.
My immediate reaction to the album Cloud Calls to Ground was noting a feeling of hopefulness throughout the songs. While they are born out of loss, they also point to growth and learning. Even the music is decidedly upbeat - more major chord than minor. At times I was reminded of Jimmy Eat World, at other times of Angels & Airwaves, and even reminded of Lovedrug in specific moments and transitions.
"Where You Are" felt like early 90's acoustic rock mixed with the energy of early 00's emo and indie. Melodies in a lot of the songs are characterized by soaring vocals that were everywhere when the band began in 2006. Those vocals are especially present on "Raining Angels,” a song that couples overdriven guitars perfectly with a string arrangement. The opening track "Lights Out" is the perfect introduction to the rest of the album. It's an energetic track that does a good job of representing the rest of the album. This song is great, but it does feel a bit derivative of bands like Switchfoot. Even the vocals remind me of them. "Kill Beauty" might make me seem a bit crazy for thinking the album feels mostly upbeat just because of the intro. The guitar chords are almost atonal and deliberately devoid of melody until the song opens up into a huge chorus.
Almost out-of-tune guitars kick off the title track to great effect. In the chorus, the vocals are almost lost in the mix. Rather than feeling like a bad mixing decision, it sounds like they sought to integrate the vocals deeply into the song, making them sound more like an instrument within the recording than the focus. "Porcelain" is a wonder of dynamic range. A very quiet verse leads into a chorus that's as big as the sky. The album closes with it's most sedate track "Push the Slaves Out the Door.” It's a primarily acoustic song with limited percussion and a truly beautiful string arrangement. My only complaint about the song is that it ends too abruptly. I don't want it to end.
Though Cloud Calls to Ground was born out of personal trial and transition that happened right as the band began to take off, it absolutely feels more hopeful than hopeless. While their sound tends toward being too derivative at times, the strength of their songs and the sincerity with which they were written and recorded makes all of that irrelevant. It's still a great record.
Using some classic tools, the anonymous voice behind Neon Wilderness produces Midwestern, lo-fi, indie rock that is unique but also feels like an homage to projects like All-Time Quarterback. An homage with a bit more grit, however. Because there is absolutely no information about the project beyond it being based in and about living in Milwaukee, this is just about the music. Much of the lo-fi music being made today revolves around the pop and singer/songwriter world. You don't hear about very many bands that are recording their music in such a primitive way. It's a shame, really, because lo-fi recordings have a charm to them that full, studio productions do not. Plus, they prevent excuses being made as to why your band isn't recording something.
On their album entitled Decline & Fall, the lead off track "Army of the Dead” is pretty mellow in spite of the distorted vocals singing, "Don't you come anywhere near when I'm feeling down." "Smoke Machine" is a much more raucous song, so much so that the vocals are almost completely drowned out by the guitars and drums. I can't help but feel that it's deliberate, though. The band shows a pop sensibility with "Nuclear Homes,” a song with a really infectious verse progression. It even has a great guitar solo that makes the song almost feel like it could be jangle pop.
"Late Bloomer" continues the mellow feel of "Army" with a bit of a naughty message instead while "Science Fiction Paperbacks" brings even more pop to the gritty sound. "Ride In Cars" is a song about teenagers driving while drunk in the winter, an all-to-common occurrence here in the Midwest. Something about the snow, straight roads and flat terrain make it seem like a good idea to people with poor judgment. After six songs of electric guitar, the album gets really quiet for "Alcohol” a song built around an acoustic guitar and the struggle to keep from winding up living in a van down by the river.
I nearly couldn't listen to the title track simply because the guitar was remarkably out of tune. I soldiered on, though, and was greeted by a really great song about watching someone you care for leave town. The final song "Wiped Out” seems to be about the night after the previous song. It is simple and sad and the perfect way to end an album.
J.Al and Jova is a hip-hop duo from Cincinnati, OH known as Those Guys that recently released For Good Reason. As they claim on their Bandcamp page is this is good hip-hop. I have to say I agree. What makes it good? The fact that the structures of the songs themselves aren’t generic and have inventive beats that feel experimental yet accessible. They are gifted lyricists who have great delivery and work off each other like oil in an engine. They drive the songs with their words but you could easily enjoy the music if it was all-instrumental. Better yet each song introduces different tones, sounds and rhythms but it never feels like a disparate experience.
The album starts off strong with “Dear Kanye.” I thoroughly enjoyed the intricate percussive elements, the synth lines and above all the dynamic vocal performances. The lyrics are intelligent on the verse as the vocalist raps about moving on with his music career: “You must be outside your mind to think I’m not outside my mind for being outside my grind still looking up at all this headroom, and realize there’s no opportunities in my bedroom.” “Soul Food” has a hard but slow hip-hop beat. The emphasis is on the lyrics as his rhymes are spit out twice as fast as the music.
“Madness Is The Method” has some of the most experimental sounds on the album. The drum kit sounds organic and jazzy while the main texture is a pad of white noise. This leaves a huge amount of space for J.Al and Jova to get creative with their lyrics. Towards the end of the song it changes gears completely as the organic drum kit is replaced and different synth sounds are introduced. I was grooving to the organ on “Bad Guy” as it gave the song an ample amount of energy for the listener to latch on to while “The Crisis” is more like a declaration as the vocalist gives an motivational performance for a gorgeous sounding piano piece.
Those Guys have produced a good album with some very inventive hip-hop. I wouldn't be surprised to hear the band on the radio sometime in the future when no will have to have ask who “those guys” are because they will already know.
I love the sound of music recorded to tape because it just sounds better to me. Maybe it’s the low-end bump I swear I hear or just the way it feels like someone is playing in a room when you listen to it. I think my thoughts may resonate with Dextrophobia as the band recorded the seven songs of their EP Exhaust on an eight-track reel-to-reel tape machine. The tonal quality of these songs feels warm with just the perfect amount of saturation that made those records from 1970’s sound so good.
The band currently play out of Austin, TX, and is a three-piece consisting of Chase Newton (guitar/vocals/jingle bells), Adrian Orozco (bass/vocals) and Zack Orozco (drums). Their music combines hard rock with some funk as well as sublime-esque rap/talking. They are a bit all over the place which can sometimes be distracting but if they can utilize this talent a little bit better in the future it can be a great asset.
Kicking off with “Walkin’” the band showcases one of the strongest songs on the album. The crunchy guitars work well with the somewhat funky riff and the nonchalant voice of the singer. It’s a good version of Jack Daniels inspired garage rock that can get you on the dance floor. “Stop Counting” has a different feel altogether. It sounded like an outtake from a sublime album. The vocals are spoken with a swagger over the loose drum beat and bass line. Once the chorus hits it reverts to a garage rock vibe. The transition could have been a bit smoother but it wasn't bad. The high point was that jazzy guitar chords that were being played towards the end of the song. The next song “Cup Of Spiders” continues with the sublime-inspired spoken word rapping while “Between Street Lamps” would be the song considered to sound the most like indie or alternative. The album ends with “Cope,” which is an upbeat pop song that sheds any hard rock tendencies that you heard before.
This album has some impressive songs and good production but it is ultimately plagued with an identity crisis. Dextrophobia try to cram in too many styles making the album feel imbalanced at times. That being said some individual songs such as “Walkin’” would be a great song isolated as a single but loses some of its allure when brought into the context of the album.
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