I was recently asked by a musician why I think their music hasn’t yet gone more “viral.” This musician wasn’t looking for the type of viral that the kids are always talking about; millions of YouTube hits and guest appearances on all the morning cable news shows. But he said that people told him at shows that they “really liked” the music and he initially saw this as something that should spiral his band’s career into at least a thousand Spotify spins or a degree of accomplishment parallel to such a level. My final answer to said musician was to impress yourself and not your friends. I had also pointed out to him the largess of the world and how pretty much anyone with a few bucks and an instrument (however this last part is negotiable) could get a Bandcamp page and add to the already overpopulated sea of music, good and bad, that is already being made for immediate consumption or just to make oneself feel better.
One of the many fish in the big pond are the Kenosha, Wisconsin, art-rock quartet Sun Silo featuring the players: Andy Warren Jepson on guitar and vocals, Alyssia Wakefield on bass and vocals, Kimberly Hetelle on keyboards and vocals, and drummer Maxwell Melendrez. Their debut is a three-song EP wittily titled Three by Four, which has a bit of an old school live take recording quality to it and definitely has a mellow vibe in the jazzy translucent melancholy of bands like Velvet Underground and The Clientele.
The opening track“The Story of a Young Crook” is a musically a slow-mo jazzy jam session that builds into a psych pop sort of experiment. The keys which creep in the background add a lot to the psychedelic element and as it progresses the song turns into a practice jam session, albeit which is for all intents and purposes pleasurable enough but nothing out of the ordinary that would make one think something new and exciting was being done. The second song has a bit more fervor behind it yet the falsetto and basic drudgery of Jepson’s lyrics put me off from the song a bit.
The final song here, “Box Blonde” is the shining star on this little EP and the way that I think the band should take if it’s going to continue. They sound most whole here and the long drawn out, jammed out melodies and prominence not being placed on lyricism or vocals, really made me think this is a band worth picking out of the pile.
What started as a few friends playing live in the subway stations of Montreal to make a little extra cash soon rolled into the Aly Marguerite spearheaded project Old Time Honey. The band play old time New Orleans styled jazz music with a new age flair to it. The rest of the band includes the players: Tyler Parent, Valentina Piras and Olive Bestvater with guest appearances by Blanche Moisan Méthé and Suzanne Estirling.
The band’s latest record is called Love Songs for sick people and documents Marguerite’s struggles with love, abuse and mental illness. These are sensitive issues, but Marguerite and company treat each song with such a whole-hearted happiness that the record doesn’t come off as depressing but has the overall tone of someone who has at least an idea that wallowing is no real way to get through life’s predicaments.
The opening track “The Fall” is saloon style player piano piece that sort of sets an opening tone and thematically ties in with their folk-jazz esthetic. From here we are ushered into the record’s second song, “Your Fool” which has a sort of burlesque style jazz feel to it. The female vocal harmonies are spot on as is the fiddle and banjo which is front and center. It’s derivative of this style of folk-jazz or New Orleans jazz or whatever one wants to call it. But if you’re into that style of music it certainly gets the job done. The same could be said of the next song “Blue” a funny and showy love song of sorts.
The album picks up a little bit of flair with the off kilter, flamenco inspired “Ora so chie sei” a gem of a song both for its punchiness and its arrangements. I also found the gypsy-jazz styled piano lead instrumental “Alone” to be quite mesmerizing.
“PTSD” calls on big things for a song with such a title. The next few songs leading to the album’s close, “My Good Side” and “Devil’s Daughter” are interchangeable with their jazz-folk banjo laden predecessors, which offers what the genre has become known for.
Although Love Songs for sick people sticks to some of the standards of the genre, they showcase they are a group well-seasoned musicians.
KREPERA is a Swedish project by songwriter Martin Jepsen. Thin Lines was recorded with friends and band members from various other bands at studio Ambassaden in Eskilstuna, Sweden. Right away you can tell progressive bands like Pink Floyd influenced the album as well as metal bands like Mastodon.
Thin Lines opens with a slow build up instrumental track “0406.” The squealing guitar and pounding drums wake you up listen on the following track “Curse of One.” Martin Jespen’s voice echoes throughout the entire track works well against the thudding bass. An extreme guitar solo fazes you until it’s over.
The titled track “Thin Lines” again shows the strength of Jespen’s voice. It packs the right amount of punch to bounce along to. Patrick Agnesater’s vibrant drumming is the star, keeping the song so lively. Jespen’s low vocals go full heavy metal on “Shape Shifter.” Heavy metal fans will appreciate the prevalent presence of the screeching guitar.
“Altruist” and “Drifting” are the best songs on the album and they’re at the very end. “Altruist” is another vigorous track. It’s an entertaining build up leading to an epic breakdown with Martin spewing his heart out until his eyes bleed. On the other hand “Drifting” is much more laid back so when the deep vocal tone hits, it is much more jolting .
Thin Lines is for heavy metal fans that enjoy slower progression with riffs than frantic hardcore moshing. The band shows a lot of potential with the lead singers screaming lyrics and exquisite guitar playing. The songs are lengthy so the build up can wan on impatient listeners. The songs are dynamic so that they provide a unique experience that metal fans can appreciate.
Lovalon is a music project comprised of David Anthony and Chris Fournier who are based in Fort Collins, CO, USA. The duo released an eleven-song self-titled album Lovalon that has its roots in post-punk and new wave.
The album starts with “Kill It With Fire” which is one of highlights. It’s a messy sounding song due to the lo-fi quality and distorted guitars. There are some softer warm elements which are hidden unless you listen closely. Anthony startled me throughout the song due to him shouting occasional words. The hook is one of the more memorable on the album but it took a couple of spins to sink in.
“Sweet Thing” is a sparse song that revolves around loose percussion, clean guitar and what sounds like digital horns. I couldn’t make out a word Anthony was saying but thought the melody was memorable despite the occasional note that is off key.
“Devastator” had a darker early ’80s new wave vibe from the synths sound to the percussive elements. “Cheetah Party” brings to mind Jesus and Mary Chain while “See Right Through Me” has a more dark, ominous vibe perhaps a little more comparable to Joy Division.
“All-Inbetween” is a little more upbeat and arguably the most dance worthy song in the batch. “The Big Turn-On” felt like one of the more original songs. I really liked what was going on with the guitars. “Lonely Star” was the catchiest song in the batch with the best vocal performance in my opinion while “Homecoming Queen” is a synth based song that reflects on darker shades and texture. “Slide (Give Love A Chance)” and “Space Song” have their moments as well.
As an engineer myself I would have liked this album to be a little less lo-fi. It was hard for me to appreciate the performances when there are issues with clarity, dynamics, balancing, etc. I would suggest that perhaps at the very least they consider working with a mastering engineer that would be able to clean up some of these issues.
Overall, there are some solid songs here for fans of post-punk and new wave.
For the last decade Matt Gabriel has been performing around the US. While on tour he started to write songs for what would become Earth Tones. The seven songs ring with a true Americana type spirit that perhaps was created while touring the states. On top of an Americana vibe Gabriel combines elements of rock, folk and country.
The album starts off warm and inviting with “Big Sur.” A simple guitar pattern is introduced alongside what sounds like organ and additional vocal harmonies. The effect is nostalgic but also quite hopeful. For some reason it felt like a song you would put on to appreciate what you have. The lead vocals by Gabriel sound great and the lyrics are open to interpretation. I appreciated the fact the song didn’t go to epic. The drums do create some more energy but it never felt like it goes full on grandiose which I thought was a good move.
Up next is “The Departed” which felt a little more single worthy. It’s immediately catchy and the melody got stuck in my head after the first listen. I would say this song is warm similar to the first song but the chorus felt bright and optimistic.
“Stay” was a personal favorite. It has its roots in blues which I wasn’t expecting and almost comes off like a holiday classic. Gabriel pulls it off and also manages to make it sound connected to the previous songs. There is some great instrumental work on this song and I liked the subdued vocal harmonies around the two-minute-and-thirty-second mark.
“I Could Use Somebody” leans towards country pop while “Red” displays an intimate by the fireplace type song that is tender and heartfelt. “Bada Bing” rocks out more than anything that came before. Gabriel closes out with the bluegrass inspired “Sticks and Stones.”
Gabriel shows off a number of different styles on this release. There were some styles I preferred just because I have a proclivity towards a genre but I thought he pulled it all off. This is a really well produced and written album. Recommended.
Dfactor (aka Dave Murrow) is a singer/songwriter from Phoenix, AZ, who recently released The Bang Session. The releases contains two songs which undeniably rock in the spirit of many no frills bands like Guided by Voices, No Age or countless garage/punk bands.
The EP starts with “Girl on a Screen” which you might call a little bit more radio friendly of the two songs. It’s catchy and has a backyard BBQ type of feel to it. Meaning I could picture this song playing alongside artists like Tom Petty and John Mellencamp. The song is a bit messy all things considered in a punk rock type of way. Murrow isn’t always on key and struggles to hit certain notes and you could argue that he gives the recording a more authentic feel. The hooks are there and I felt like I could hum the melody after the first time I heard it. The instrumentation is kept to the bare minimum which is really all the song calls for.
“That's How I Escaped My Certain Fate” is more punk oriented and was originally played by the Mission of Burma. The song feels loose and fun. Murrow’s vocals felt at home here.
I appreciated the inflection and energy he pushes into the words which felt like it matches the song quite well. It’s catchy but not in the same way “Girl on a Screen” is. The melodies are infectious but subtle and grow on you with repeated listens.
The Bang Session is less than five minutes long but it was enough for me to peak my interest in what might be ahead for Murrow. I’m happy to report a full length LP is in order for sometime in 2019. I suggest taking a listen and if you dig it know that more will be on the way shortly. You can also check out his previous LP Nostalgia for Now.
Antoine Cayouette and Philippe Rondeau-Gauthier are Ollivon. The duo from Québec took a little over a year to release the self-produced and self-titled six-song EP Ollivon. I would describe the music as uplifting acoustic rock. There were times that I was reminded of Local Natives.
The EP opens with “Flow.” You are greeted with a dreamy piano melody that is quickly disrupted by a beautiful picking pattern. A steady kick drum creates a build in energy which explodes into the verse. The song felt very positive as the vocalist sings, “Once I’ve realized, It’s a state of mind, (it’s a state of mind), I felt a spark rushing through me, And breached the veil that made me blind.” The orchestral strings were well implemented by giving a layer of melancholy to the music. As the song progress it builds to a crescendo and then slowly dissipates.
Up next is “Dusk” which is perhaps a little more pop oriented. It felt a little more radio friendly to me. The vocals are the anchor here despite the instrumentation also feeling quite full. “Brume” was a highlight. The orchestral strings again create an interesting dichotomy between the other elements. I also felt that the different type of vocal treatment paid off. I’m not crazy about guitar solos as they often seem to be cliche but I thought the brief one after the two-minute mark was really well implemented.
“Ollivon Lake” was divided into two parts. The first half of the song is almost a constant build that contains some of the most intense moments on the album. I thought the second half was serene and tranquil. The addition of waves was the aspect that made me want to take a nap. “The Sky Clears” is very motivational sounding while “Summer Rain” far and away tries to be the most cosmically epic song that also implements vocal samples.
The duo do a great job creating a signature sound with these songs. I did have some preferences and thought a song like “Flow” displayed their strength in being able to combine motivational and hopeful sounds without sounding forced or just too much.
Overall, this is a solid release and encourage you to give this a spin.
Let me start off by saying I like the music from the album cowboys & aliens by Trio of Awesuhm quite a bit. That being said the name Trio of Awesuhm made me slightly cringe and feel like it would be a disservice to the band if I didn’t say anything. So just food for thought that maybe these great musicians who I’m sure are wonderful people should maybe consider changing their name. The group for live shows is comprised of Monica Uhm (vocals/guitar), Greg Schettino (guitar/vocal), Sammy Wags (piano/organ), Ken Dircks (bass/guitar) and James Kirkpatrick (drums) are quite talented so don't let the name dissuade you.
The album starts with “Last Night” which is a pretty straightforward alternative/rock song. It’s well written and in less than a minute you get to the hook. Uhm has a good singing voice all around but I felt like it worked especially with this style.
There is more to appreciate on “Storyline” which is upbeat, funky and quite catchy. The guitar work is inventive, the drumming is tight and there is all around great performances.
I remember after meditating on a silent retreat on the peak on a mountain that the message to “Love Everybody” kept ringing through my mind. I was on board except for the fact I had real hard time forgiving my neighbor who is now married to my ex-wife. The song is “Love Everybody” is a super catchy song with some great instrumentation and hooks but the fluffy platitudes scattered throughout the song weren’t that easy to stomach.
“Begging The Radio” is a poppy rock song but I preferred the more emotionally resonant “Just Hurting” which showcases a more nuanced and dynamic vocal performance. “Nevertheless” felt a little too predictable for my liking. “After The Show” however has some exceptional performances and the country angle worked out very well.
“Adios” tried to be a dark, moody blues inspired song and for the most part succeeds. When the band lets loose they sound fantastic. “More and More” is a predictable rock song that falls flat compared to most of the other performances on the album. The best moments on “Mighty Water” are from the fiddle.
The album is all over the place stylistically. There really is very little of a foundation that the band can build with so many different styles. The good news is when they nail it they really do as they proved in some of their songs. I would like to hear some more focus on a future effort and have them start to build a signature sound from somewhere. In almost all cases this is what ultimately will build a fan base for a band - find your sound.
The group needs some direction but there is a ton of talent here and Uhm has a great voice. On that note I hope to hear more from them and look forward to their evolution.
From the perspective of someone who in a sense makes art and in another sense greatly appreciates all kinds of art, even and sometimes most especially the kind I don’t create myself, I have many opinions about the making of it, its power at birth and most especially its power to live on for a time. It seems to me that the world has a place for fast food artists, ones who make art of any kind to be consumed rather quickly for need of satisfying a craving and then quickly forgotten about. I find this kind of art does not age very well.
Surely there are retrospectives of things long forgotten and people and movements that didn’t get their due, but I’m referring here to mostly an artistic movement that today includes such platforms as Instagram and Bandcamp et al. I’m sorry but taking photos from a phone camera of a single dried up leaf or some old junk in an alleyway, a soiled child’s teddy bear say with the stuffing hanging from its neck and missing an eye, or a few drops of blood in a white sink will only last so long before one moves on to the next picture and forgets the few thrilling moments (if there are any even) those images may have given the viewer. Songs and records have this same self-serving artistic quality to them too. And after time many of the great records one thought were great so long ago become tawdry relics of their time.
However, when art lasts, it lasts for a reason. It transcends time and multiple generations are able to lay claim to its powers of influence and use them hopefully to further that line for future generations. I got this feeling when listening to The Swell a record by the New Jersey dream pop outfit sparks fly from a kiss, which was recorded over ten years ago and is just finally seeing a release this December.
The Swell is meant to be listened to in one long uncut sitting without gap interruptions which one can hear on Youtube.
However the record does just as well with a few seconds of reflection between each of its dreamy ten tracks. Listening to it in its entirety the whole way through is like a journey for the ears of punchy lo-fi rock guitars and noisy bits which as it plays out goes up and down the dial and I kept thinking the record really reminded me of Superchunk, a band whose records I think have aged rather well since their inception in the nineties and early ought’s and the experimental one offs of art rock Sonic Youth explored after taking noise experiments to their apex.
The Swell is full of dreamy lo-fi jangle pop hooks and sonic experiments that land on the listeners shore like musical messages in a bottle that have been bobbing on the waves for years. Now that they’re finally here let their beautiful nostalgia flow over you and be amazed by how well they’ve aged.
Wallysburg is the name of a four-piece based out of Tampa, Florida. More importantly, the band released Joyharbour in late September of 2018. The five-track EP contains a number of peaks and valleys for the listener to explore with a dreamy electronic tint that creates the feeling of being wide awake while also feeling deeply relaxed. A strange pinnacle of awareness and endless exploration, the never ending feeling of reverb and the addictive dance beats will carry listeners on a journey through their headphones.
The opening track “The New Year” sounds like a lost Foster the People track. Not that it could be called a rip-off, the immediate familiarity created by adapting the sound into the vision of Wallysburg creates a rapport with listeners that makes the rest of the album feel like hanging out with an old friend. Even as the sound evolves into new territories that have not been mainstreamed into the conscious of the listener, the trust gained through this track sets the rest of Joyharbour up to be greeted with open arms.
“Waiting For The Moment” is a track that is unlistenable while sitting still. The addictive grooves of the bass are complemented by snappy drum work that turns the track into a dance anthem for all occasions. As the album draws to a close, the deliberate picking of the guitar through the intro of “Headlights Hanging Overhead” carries the track with purpose and poise.
A brilliant world of dance tunes, introspective electronic tracks, beat driven indie pop and some moments that are a cross pollination of it all are waiting for listeners in the five tracks that make up Joyharbour. It’s an appropriate name for the album. A place one can pull into for a quick stay in the dreamy world that Wallysburg creates with the EP. A world filled with wondrous views, delicious riffs, sweet serenades and a breathtaking sunset. Fans looking for an album to sit back and truly immerse themselves in will quench their thirst with Joyharbour.
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