DB.KINNEY is an American rock band and Blind Side Mirror is their first collection of songs from its founding member David Kinney. The debut focuses on “heart-felt lyrics of love and loss, bitter-sweet memories and relationships that strain your patience and efforts – to breathe life into the sometime hopeless and irreverent of causes.” The EP was recorded at Dream Big Basement Studio. Drummer Brandon Novak laid down his beats at Groove Recording Studio, while bassist Hish or “the Hish” brought his expertise to the fold and sang on backing vocals.
All songs were written by Kinney and he sings on lead vocals, as well as play guitar, bass and piano. Formed in Glastonbury, Connecticut in 2018, the band's sound encompasses multiple rock genres, including post-rock and alternative rock and they are influenced by bands like Dinosaur Jr., REM, the Cure and the Replacements. Currently, the band is performing club dates in the New England area.
The opener “Killing Time” indeed brings to mind a sound that’s part Midwest indie-rock a la the Replacements and the southern jangle-pop of R.E.M. Kinney’s voice is smooth and cool among the backdrop of warm tones, bright melodies and a few hints of the piano. “Bitter Truths” rocks harder with raggedy edged guitar riffs, similar to Dinosaur Jr. or perhaps even Hüsker Dü, with sweet sounds of the ride cymbal. I really liked the swaying and rumbling beat on “Pain Over Peace” not to mention Kinney’s lighter acoustic guitar and backing harmonies. The “feeling” within the song I get, for lack of a better word, is that this tune somehow reminded me of summer. It’s hard to describe songs like this sometimes, but every once in a while a certain song can remind you of a particular season of the year. This song did it for me.
“In the Seams” had a great, edgy rocking bounce to it with catchy, full blown guitar hooks. Novak’s drumming gets really good on this one. “Sparkle in the Shade” is the last number and also the band’s shortest. More acoustic and folksy than the others, it reminded me a little of Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” or even a more modern version of Ray Davies and The Kinks. All in all, I thought Blind Side Mirror was a strong debut – consistent in its production and the performance of Kinney and company was solid – an enjoyable band to listen to.
No Time to Tarry is an underground folk group based in San Diego but founded in St. Louis in 2006. The group has released six albums and Insahdout Tourner is the one I spent time with. They make off-kilter folk and bluegrass with a tinge of rock. It’s experimental and sounds improvised and sort of free range. The great Bob Drake and in particular the album What Day Is It? came to mind.
There are some moments of sublime congruity on this release and other times where it sounds like a disheveled mess. I like both of those things but I heard the former on “Took a Turn” which is easily one of the highlights if not the highlight of the album. The vocals are clear and focused here and pretty catchy as well. It’s a warm song you might sing with a good friend on a back porch with a beer in hand. There is a One Foot in the Grave (the Beck album) feel to this song as well as many others.
The songs after that were a bit hit or miss for me in a number of areas. Sometimes the recording is lo-fi and other times it’s a little too lo-fi. Some of the brilliance is when a song seems to be sort of rambling and comes together for a couple of moments in spectacular fashion.
The drums are always low in the mix and the strings are prominent which seemed to be a good way to go. It creates this unique tension as if there is a ghost of a groove. There are some other songs which stuck out to me such as “Sharma” which seems to have direct Eastern influence. “Lost My Shoes” was perfectly odd, dissonant and weird in all the right ways which makes it hard to classify. “Don't Leave the House” is subtle, intimate expression.
I like so many things about this music. I’m also interested in hearing what a studio quality version of this sounds like with more experimental textures and tones. If they were to combine forces with Amon Tobin or Jon Hopkins to supply some of the soundscapes I think this could be revolutionary stuff. Or they could just keep doing what they are doing. I’m digging the lo-fi experimental back porch folk.
Henry McIntyre is still a teenager at nineteen years of age but his career started at nine years old so that means he has been making music for a solid ten years. I’m not joking when I say career with a capital C. His band was called Black Diamonds and they toured extensively. Even more impressive is they earned the Guinness World Record for the World’s Youngest Professional Rock Band. This is a hundred percent true.
In 2018 McIntyre decided to launch his solo career and released Box on the Ear. It's a mix of rock and folk songs. He does kind of have a young sounding voice which actually works really well with the music.
The album opens with “Leopold” which a solid introduction to his sound. It’s a catchy song and the drum pattern almost makes the song sound like a constant build. Next up is “Ordinary Men” which felt like a single worthy song. The verse could be more infectious than the chorus.
McIntyre slows things down with “Box on the Ear” which showcases some nostalgia and melancholy. One of the highlights was “Suffering” which is more stripped back and intimate and actually reminded me of Ellioitt Smith. “Liberation” sounded a little too close to a standard grunge song but I thought “Elegy” showed another side to his talent.
“Somewhere” is a little more more experimental with the vocals and instrumentation. It’s another valiant effort. “Give Me Life” is a bright rock song while “Ghosts in the Fog Pt.1” is a melancholy closer.
As an engineer myself I think the one area that was literally mixed was the recording quality. Some of the more stripped back songs sounded great but a song like ““Box on the Ear” has issues with EQ, compression and separation. I think working with an engineer, producer or even just a mastering engineer would be able to even out some of these inconsistencies. Mixes start to become a lot more complex when drums and more layers become involved.
McIntyre’s talent is undeniable. At nineteen years old he has all the time in the world to focus on his music career and this is a very solid start for his solo material. I look forward to hearing more.
Brian Musgrove is an artist from Vancouver, Canada who recently released Late to the Game. I was looking at pictures of him before listening to his music and between his commanding beard and dark Johnny Cash type of attire I thought I was going to get a deep baritone not unlike Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen. My preconceptions were completely wrong. He sounds young and his voice is smooth and vibrant. That being said his music certainly seems to have more in common with artists like Neil Young, Cat Stevens and other like minded folk artists from the ’60s and ’70s.
The album starts with “Late to the Game.” It revolves around a couple of guitars, some light atmosphere and vocals. The song is fairly stripped back but powerful and very reflective. Up next is “All My People” and this song in particular reminded me of Cat Stevens. It’s the subject matter and even the inflection of his voice on this song. I’m a big fan of this intimate melancholy which seems to embrace a lot of ’60s terminology and aesthetics.
“Forgiven” takes a turn with a more direct and dark approach and a little more in common with western winds and the rambling heart of Neil Young. Up next is “Be the One” which felt like one of the catchiest songs on the album. Musgrove sings “I want to be brave, I want to be strong / I want to be saved, I want to belong / I want to be the one that gets it done I want to be that man that you love / Every time he comes around / Around” and it feels memorable the first time you hear it.
“Once There Was an Angel” was a highlight. I loved the instrumentation on this song. The light percussive aspects and exceptional guitar picking was a great foundation for the soaring vocals. Musgrove has even more success with “All the Sad Songs” and the stripped back and intimate “When I First Found You.”
The arrangement for “The Universe of Now” felt different - from the piano to the notes that are played. I really liked the orchestral strings and the overall haunting vibe. It felt like the outlier. He closes with a hopeful and bright track entitled “I Am the Light.”
There are some great songs on this album. In fact, I liked all of them. Fans of heartfelt folk that might appreciate a couple of slight twists and turns will love this. Take a listen.
Supertentacles is the moniker of Milwaukee musician Sean Anderson. He has played in numerous Milwaukee-based bands over the years and recently went back to school to study audio production and engineering. The music on his self-titled album Supertentacles is a complete DIY effort.
I think his studies in engineering have paid off because his album is one of the better home recordings I have heard recently. There is a clear separation of elements, a proper balance of dynamics and a warm sonic imprint. He mentions, “Supertentacles strives to create music that is accessible yet exist on the outer-realms of conventional songwriting.” Suffice it to say I felt like he achieved that. The songs are catchy and there are plenty of memorable melodies but Anderson has no problem implementing time signatures that go beyond 4/4, complex rhythmic patterns and inventive sounds to create experimental but approachable songs.
Things start to go with “Sinsinawa.” It’s a psychedelic cocktail. There is a good amount of reverb and delay but the groove between the bass and drums is kicking and even more dance worthy. It’s the vocals however which bring the hooks you will remember.
Up next is “Thank You” and I think this song in particular had a Tame Impala type of quality. The song is a bit of a slow burn but very smooth. Anderson kills it when it comes to the vocals and the chorus is infectious. The album continues with the faster moving perhaps Animal Collective inspired “Icicles” while “What's Wrong?” has a bit of retro ’50s pop vibe but is a little more cosmic and vast sounding.
“Doom” is up next and perhaps has the most wicked groove on the album. It’s a little dangerous sounding and a good song to drive to. “Invisible String” is very atmospheric with ethereal sounding. The groove is fluid and hypnotic. He rocks out more than ever before with “Who's Driving This Thing” and goes into slight Vampire Weekend territory with “Always Forward.” “Candy” and the closer “My Friend, Caterpie” were enough for me to really feel like this was an exceptional album.
Anderson is not only very talented when it comes to songwriting and delivery but production is also an area he excels in. This is one you won’t want to miss because it hits all the right points. Highly recommended.
Distorted Kid has been involved with music for a long time. He started as a drummer, worked as a producer and recently released Distorted Kid 1. He has a background in jazz and rock. With that in mind, I was a little taken aback by the music on his release.
It’s largely electronic and experimental. The songs are catchy but the hooks and melodies aren’t immediately apparent. Take for instance the opener “i'm just fine.” The vocals are delivered in a unique cadence. It’s almost like he is dragging his words at points but it works. The music is a mix of distorted guitars, synths and electronic drums. There are some really interesting things happening with dissonance. It’s not exactly pretty; in fact it sort of sounds like some alternative version of Industrial at points.
“Such an inspiration” kind of goes deeper into some of the darker elements that are on the first song. The distortion from the guitar bleeds into fluctuating drones and crystal like synths. There is a lot of dissonance happening but the vocals are often brilliantly interweaved.
Up next we have “the edge” which continues to go down this wormhole. It became apparent to me at this point that he was building a foundation to these songs. The music is metallic, distorted but you always get a sense of space. “Good luck with that” is the arguable highlight. The music could be in a horror movie and there is a sense of impending doom. Last up is “what a shame” which is perhaps his most intense and dynamic vocal performance.
Distorted Kid 1 contains some very original sounding music. It took me a good amount of time to figure out how much I liked this release. It’s dissonant, dark and unconventional but there are rewards for people who want to stick with it. If you are looking for something strikingly unique make sure to check this out.
The band Safejoy is a three-piece comprised of John Kelly (bass/vocals), Hunter Pruett (guitar/vocals) and Patrick Dunne (drums) out of Pelham, New Hampshire that recently released Young. I liked them before I heard just because of how they describe their sound on their Facebook page - “Basically Alt Rock Drowning in Reverb.” It’s humble, sort of self-deprecating and not hyperbolic.
The most obvious comparison is a band like Real Estate but Safejoy has a little more edge to them. They aren’t scared to rock not unlike a band like Interpol in their prime or maybe even a band like Television. The musicianship is really top notch. I thought the rhythm section was really tight.
They start off strong with “Just Another Party.” The reverb and rock is in full effect. This song in particular was somewhere between The Smiths and Real Estate perhaps at a faster BPM. The lead vocals and harmonies are great and I found the melodies to be memorable.
“Perfectly Able” is another fantastic tune. The technical skills on this song are impressive. It’s a really catchy song and the vocals are steady blocks compared to the swirling instrumentation. The juxtaposition is wonderful. “To Want You” felt a little more like straightforward rock that mixed in a decent amount of popular ’90s alternative. I’ll admit this style didn’t seem to fit them as well. I think it was the chorus that threw me off.
“Alright” is a solid tune with plenty of reverb tails and catchy melodies. The closer “Ever Since You” almost felt like a different band. It’s much more mellow, warm and atmospheric. The nostalgia factor is important here as they pull it off quite well.
The band seems to pull in some slightly different directions but for the most part I thought the flow of the EP was fluid. On that note the first two songs were the clear highlights for me.
This is a great band and I really hope to hear some more. Recommended.
James Haas, aka a transported man, is an independent artist/songwriter based in Australia who recently released Dreamesque. This EP has so many sides to it. It’s a little hard to define but it felt split between soundscapes and songs.
Let’s just start from the beginning. The first track “...Awoke at Dusk” was first of all my favorite song mostly because of the deep sense of immersion. It's a mix of the sound of water on a beach, sad horns and soft acoustic guitar. The visual aspects brought to mind a moonlit night in Venice. I didn’t know what I was preparing for after this song but there were a lot of surprises.
The soundscapes build to what sounds like a pop punk band which I really wasn’t expecting at all. It was like the image I formed in my head from the previous track was ripped away. The vocals are unusual but interesting. There is some kind of effect which made it hard to make out the vocals. It sounded somewhat like M83 because of the epic heights as the song progressed but a lot more rock based.
“A Decision Set in Motion” is another complete departure. This fits a lot more cleanly into the singer/songwriter category (at least at first) but integrates atmospheric effects not unlike some early Bon Iver. As a personal preference I thought the vocals were a little low in the mix once the songs picks up and I actually thought the drums were a little too loud at moments. The horns were perfect and a wonderful part of the song. This song was so upbeat and motivational which is why “What Could Have Been but Never Was” was the type of song I wouldn’t have imagined have come next.
“What Could Have Been but Never Was” is a soundscape that could be used in a horror movie to create tension. It’s dissonant and is created with drones and other elements. “The Way One is Remembered” goes about as epic as possible but is more or less a strong alternative song. “You Must Now Say Goodbye” is another soundscape of sorts with the sound of rain and a pretty guitar melody.
I understand what the artist was trying to do. This EP is a journey but I almost feel like each one of these songs could have been the foundation for an entire other EP. I would have love to hear an EP with the mood of “...Awoke at Dusk” with slight shifts in energy and tone rather than leaps into completely different musical arenas at some point. “What Could Have Been but Never Was” is another example of this. A whole EP or album dedicated to dissonant soundscapes not unlike Konoyo by Tim Hecker would be very interesting.
This EP felt like a collection of Haas’s diverse abilities as a musician. There is no question he has talent in a wide range of styles and genres. Take a listen.
“Like Hurricanes” is the fourth single I got to spend some time with from Get Set Go. I got to enjoy the previous singles for fairly different reasons but with this fourth song I heard I was starting to feel some more of the cohesion.
The song has a power pop type feel to it and really is the most hopeful and even motivational sounding song so far. You are greeted with an immediate build which comes right out of the gate. The verse hits in about five seconds and Mike TV sings, “We’re going to fight back like firefighters fighting fires pushing back the flames.” This first sentence really encapsulates the whole meaning of the song or at least the way I interpreted it.
The lyrics utilize metaphors to create this feeling of us vs them. It’s the energy of a crowd of protestors calling for higher wages; it’s the feeling of a kid standing up to a bully; it’s the sound of a marginalized community fighting back against the powers that be.
Musically, the song revolves around piano, bass, guitar and drums. The instrument that really stood out to me was the piano. There are some swirling parts that feel like a tornado of notes and besides the vocals seemed the be the focal point of the song.
The vocals certainly seem to hit the right tone and feeling. Mike TV’s vocals feel very passionate and even if you didn’t understand a single word I think the feeling you would get is that change is possible.
This song seems to cover a lot of ground and like some of my favorite lyricists doesn't get too specific. This is the type of song that can inspire you to overcome any hurdle that you might be facing.
Brooklyn, New York indie rock band, Manager, creates melodic, layered, dreamy songs with catchy chorus hooks and high energy, guitar-based grooves. Producer Jon Chinn (RjD2, New Bomb Turks) fronts the band, crafting moody pop/rock tunes that masquerade as indie slacker rock. Some tunes feature a high energy driving-pace, while others plod along with a more spacious and ambient style. Their latest release, Landline,is a short batch of songs that follows up their 2017 full length, self-titled debut. Along with Chinn who plays guitar, sings and uses an MPC (which applies to music, probably stands for multimedia personal computer), Ron Hester plays guitar and sings, Lori Cantu slaps the bass, sings and plays organ and Sir John Dorcas the 3rdlays down the beats on drums and percussion.
The opening track “Steven Tipton” has a nice, relaxed surf sound, although I am not sure who Mr. Tipton is. The lyrics have a humorous, cynical take but they also have a charming quality to them as well. “Hybrid” rocks out a bit harder and the low end, floor tom drumming sound way cool. Geographical locations play a part in the lyrics as well as this feeling of “coming to terms” with an older self – reminiscing about the crazier things you used to do in your youth.
The next song “Rollerball” features a video to go along with the song on the band’s YouTube site and anytime musicians provide visuals to their songs, I definitely check it out. A nice video all around with fun camera angles and effects. But what caught my eye the most was Cantu’s wise choice for a bass – the Rickenbacker. Lyrically, this number seems to hint at government conspiracy and/or espionage. And I also thought Hester’s spacious and sparse guitar playing sounded very much like The Edge’s from U2.
“U.F.O.” begins with a heavy, slow rhythm inside a dreamy rock-pop style. For all you sci-fi, alien space fans or who otherwise relish in Area-51 conspiracy theories, this one’s for you. Lori Cantu’s backing vocal adds a gorgeous layer alongside Chinn’s melodic rhythm guitar and Hester’s ethereal solo. The final track is the EPs titled song, “Landline.” It instantly reminded me of something from U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind or How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Perhaps it was the added strings following along with Hester’s lead, and Dorcas’s solid drumming. Overall, I thought Landline was a solid, consistent recording with a very appealing sound. If you’re into artists like Bob Mould or bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Keane, Snow Patrol and maybe even Elbow, I think you’ll enjoy these east coast Brooklynites.
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