Thursday, February 28, 2013

Three for Free – The Classics

     When you have IADD (Indie Attention Dis-obsessive Disorder), songs that are only a year old are sometimes considered “classics.”  It is typical to discover a band, become so obsessive in listening to the songs of the newly discovered band that they are repeated using the loop mode, but then undeservedly leave the band behind as other bands are discovered. The five songs in the right-hand column are currently in that obsessive play condition. Below are songs from three bands which are still visited by us, but which no longer receive the amount of play they deserve. All of the songs are being offered without charge by the bands or their recording labels, making them Free, Legal and Recommended downloads (FLR downloads).

     The first song is by Maps and Atlases. We went to the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco in 2012 to see this Chicago-based quintet. The guitar play is worth the price of admission, when one or two of the guitarists use both hands on the guitar neck and ignore the body of the instrument. It is impressive. The members are Shiraz Dada (bass), Dave Davison (guitar/vocals), Chris Hainey (drums), Erin Elders (guitar). Maps and Atlases will perform in Santa Cruz on April 25th (at The Catalyst Atrium) and in San Francisco on April 26th (at Rickshaw Stop).
     “Fever” by Maps and Atlases.


If your browser does not show the FLR download CLICK FOR FREE DOWNLOAD

     Another band that we were able to see in San Francisco in 2012 was Hey Rosetta!. They opened for Gomez at the Fillmore. Hey Rosetta! is a Canadian band (Newfoundland) that is able to put together a good mixture of male and female vocals, as can be heard in the second of their two songs.
     “Yer Spring” by Hey Rosetta!



     “Carry Me Home” by Hey Rosetta!

If your browser does not show the FLR download CLICK FOR FREE DOWNLOAD

     The third band is one we look forward to seeing in concert, but haven’t yet. Tapes ‘n Tapes is a quintet from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our favorite song by the band is “Freak Out."
     “Freak out” by Tapes ‘n Tapes



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trapdoor Social - Band Review

     Trapdoor Social is a duo from the Los Angeles area. Merritt Graves and Skylar Funk met because they both were in an Environmental Analysis program at Pomona College. They explain that the concern for the environment is channeled into the music, which they describe as “a driving, emotive alt-pop experience.”
     The whistling that starts the song “Away” initially brought our attention to Trapdoor Social, but it’s the music as a whole that maintains that attention. We’ve been a little more alert to whistling since we saw the group “Bad Books” and the front man stated that they wouldn’t have incorporated whistling into the song “Forest Whitaker” had they known how difficult it is to whistle during a live performance. Just two weeks ago, we went to a concert in which a singer had to switch to an alternative approach because he couldn’t duplicate the whistling in the song “5 Years Time” by Noah and the Whale (Now, there’s a great illustration of a song not requiring any complexity to be interesting).

     Quid pro quo (Is it appropriate to use Latin when the Pope is stepping down? If not, we meant to say, “Something for Something”). There isn’t an actual connection between the two, but Trapdoor Social is allowing free downloads of much of their music and is in a KROQ runoff in which we can help raise the visibility of the band if we vote for their song over songs of other artists. In the KROQ runoff, there are a number of interesting songs, but we did truthfully vote for the Trapdoor Social song – “Like You Never." The KROQ voting occurs at CLICK HERE FOR KROQTo be fair, we emphasize that Trapdoor Social is not offering free downloads as enticement for your vote.


"Away" by Trapdoor Social


The SoundCloud link for the Free, Legal and Recommended download (FLR download) is: 
CLICK TO DOWNLOAD 


"Death of a Friend" by Trapdoor Social


The SoundCloud link for the FLR download is: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD


"Inertia" by Trapdoor Social - As a substitute for the Soundcloud version, here is the video (the FLR dowload site follows the video).

The SoundCloud link for the FLR download is: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Eastern Sea - A Concert Opportunity

     In 2012, we went to the Austin City Limits Festival. We were pleased with the city, the performances, and the festival atmosphere. One of our best memories was the Sunday performance by The Eastern Sea. The members of the band are engaging, energetic and enjoyable to watch.
     Since our return from the festival, we’ve sent a few inquiries to the band about the possibility of a tour to the West Coast. We were assured that it was in the works. Today, The Eastern Sea announced at least some of the dates. More are likely to be added. The confirmed dates are:
April 3 in San Francisco, CA – at The Brick & Mortar
April 4 in Los Angeles, CA – at the Satellite
April 5 in San Diego, CA – at the Soda Bar
April 6 in Phoenix, AR – at the Pub Rock
April 7 in Albuquerque, NM – at the Low Spirits

     According to the band’s Facebook page, the current members of The Eastern Sea are:
a) Matthew Philip Hines, Kevin Thomas, Charley Siess, and John Rawls
b) Contributing Members: Lauryn Gould, Shawn Jones, Michael Dymowski, Christopher Cox

     Matt Hines is the front man, but certainly not the only one with “game.” We are looking forward to seeing the band at their S.F. stop, and already have five tickets. They are touring with the Kopecky Family Band.
    Below are some songs we favor. Unfortunately, there is not an isolated version of "Plague" on SoundCloud (the 42 seconds that start at the 1:58 mark in "Plague" are "classic," as Hines and the trumpet match pitch to start and then get better from there).

     “The Match” by The Eastern Sea


     “The Line” by The Eastern Sea


     “Snow” by the Eastern Sea

Monday, February 25, 2013

Galleries - Band Review

     Last week, the Galleries released a new song. “Wilderness Song” is another treat for their soon-to-be released debut album. There are many features of the song that are easy to like, but we particularly enjoy the short but explosive guitar burst that is best felt at the 2:14 mark.
     “Wilderness Song” by Galleries.

     Galleries is a four-piece Indie band from Glasgow, Scotland (Yes, another great band from Scotland). The members are David McAdam (vocalist and guitar), Ross Prentice (guitar), Adam Hall  (Bass) and Andrew Black (Drums).
     “Young Wounds” by Galleries.


     But our favorite Galleries song may still be "Rescue Plan." In 2010, Galleries made the song available to The Pop Cop (http://thepopcop.co.uk/2010/10/music-alliance-pact-2nd-anniversary-compilation/).
      "Rescue Plan" by Galleries.     


     We are looking forward to the release of the album. It will be a great addition to our music library.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mt. Wolf - Band Review

     We love SoundCloud. It is designed to enable easy embedding of songs into websites. It accommodates collections of songs from various artists into your personal list, as well as “following” the lists of other people. SoundCloud sites identify the date on which a song was uploaded by the artist, so that the age of a recent track can be determined. An artist can allow free downloads under conditions established by the artist (time or maximum number). AND WE LOVE THE WAVEFORMS. One blogsite that we religiously frequent (Indie Rock Café) recently stated its preference for another approach. We respectfully disagree.
     Sometimes when you view the SoundCloud waveform of a song that you have never heard or only heard a few times, the song layout becomes interesting in itself. One example is “Underground” by Mt. Wolf, a London-based band. The waveform layout is more intriguing when it’s stretched more than below, but even at this scale it’s interesting to map the variations in the song to the fluctuations in the waveform. “Underground” is an undercurrent of beats in dubstep, which gives some understanding to the waveform (Oh, that explains everything, right? Yah, sure).


     The name of Mt. Wolf's debut album is “Life Sized Ghosts.” They describe their music as dream-pop. Not sure that’s helpful either. But we would say, if you wish Alt-J had stronger vocals, from a female, then this is a band you’ll enjoy.  Kate Sproule owns the voice. The other members of Mt. Wolf are Stevie McMinn, Sebastian Fox, and Al Mitchell.
"Hypolight" by Mt. Wolf. This is a 2013 release.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Lumineers – Coachella + S.F. Primer

     It is not too early for us to start preparing for Coachella. So, we each selected performers we want to cover in this blog. At the beginning, the greater attention will be on the artists who are also performing in the San Francisco Bay Area within the next few months. Ben Howard and Jesse Ware fit within this “Coachella + SF” category, and have been the subjects of earlier posts.
Ben Howard post - CLICK HERE
Jesse Ware post - CLICK HERE
 
     At Coachella, The Lumineers are scheduled for the two Sundays (April 14 and April 21). Between those Sundays, they will be at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, Ca. (Friday, April 19).

     It was about this time last year that the band made its final touches on a creation that turned out to be an Indie monster. In March, 2012, The Lumineers played at a small club in San Francisco (Café du Nord). Seven months later, fans were climbing trees and trying to position themselves on a hill just to catch a glimpse of the band at a festival in Golden Gate Park in SF.
     Unlike some of the other bands discussed in our blog entries, we don’t need to explain what this band does. They are a known quantity, well known. Instead, we will describe our first two festival experiences with the band.
     The Austin City Limits festival was well run. The staff does its job well. We have a high level of respect for the festival-givers. But the one flaw was their unawareness of the popularity of The Lumineers. The band created a pedestrian gridlock when scheduled at a stage area that did not even approach the ability to accommodate the mass of people. Without any exaggeration, the pace along the dirt path to and from the next stage area was about three steps per minute. The band members of Old 97's were among those of us trying to move, but they had a greater need for urgency.

     At the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, our “sweetest concert moment of 2012” occurred.  The fourth song on their setlist was “Ho Hey.” Everyone around us was enjoying the experience when a girl, whose every facial feature seemed to “beam,” quickly turned, kissed the cheek of the boy next to her, and just as quickly turned her attention back to the band. It’s always a treat to witness a situation in which music has placed someone “in the moment.”
     As we noted in our earlier blog about Ben Howard, “Stubborn Love” is one of our favorite songs of 2012.


The song that first brought The Lumineers into the spotlight was “Ho Hey.”


There are a number of good choices for a third song. We’re going with “Big Parade.”


Origin: The Lumineers are from Denver, Colorado.
Favorite Fact:: Neyla Pekarek joined the band by responding to a Craigslist post.
Band Members:  Wesley Schultz (lead vocals, guitar), Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion),  Neyla Pekarek (cello, vocals), Stelth Ulvang (piano), and Ben Wahamaki (bass).
For More Background: There is an interview at http://www.americansongwriter.com/2012/04/chatting-it-up-with-the-lumineers/ (Before Stelth and Ben became full time members).


Free Download - Hearts & Plugs Sampler


     In a January 25, 2013 blog entry, we sang the praises of Brave Baby (that entry is CLICK HERE).  Brave Baby is a South Carolina-based band that may prove to be a 2013 breakout.
     Then about a week ago, we received an email from the band's Indie record label Hearts and Plugs. The email announced the availability of an eleven song sampler as a Free, Legal and Recommended download (FLR download). The sampler includes three songs from Brave Baby, one of which is our favorite - "Living in a Country."
     If for no other reason, the sampler is recommended because of the Brave Baby songs. But there are other opportunities as well. ELIM BOLT has received some favorable reviews.
     This download does not require entry of an email address.

The bands, songs and times on the sampler are:

1.  Brave Baby - "Magic and Fire"  04:16  
2.  ELIM BOLT - "Farm Kid"  04:41  
3.  The Lovely Few - "Sci Fi Novels"  02:59 
4.  Mr. Jenkins - "Suddenly, I Don't Feel So Afraid"  01:55  
5.  Brave Baby - "Lakeside Trust"  03:49 
6.  ELIM BOLT - "Only You"  02:42  
7.  Mr. Jenkins - "You're Free"  03:14  
8.  Run Dan Run - "First Love"  04:24  
9.  Brave Baby - "Living In A Country"  04:03  
10. ELIM BOLT - "Field (Punk Ending)"  04:14  
11. The Lovely Few - "Orion"  04:31  


Friday, February 22, 2013

Andy Clockwise and Concrete Knives

     Sometimes you like music “just because.”  That is, at times you can go into great detail why you enjoy a particular song or a specific band, but then there are other times when it’s like being asked for your explanation for your favorite color. Maybe some people can explain their color preferences, but we cannot. As the expression goes, “It is what it is.”  
    With that background, we introduce Andy Clockwise and the Concrete Knives to the Indie Obsessive blogsite (It was Bob G. who introduced Concrete Knives to us). The background applies more to Concrete Knives than it does to Clockwise, but it is what it is. This blog entry is all about ignoring the urge to provide a justification.

     Andy Clockwise is from Sydney Australia, but has spent a healthy portion of his adult life in Los Angeles. He writes all his own music and prefers to play all of the instruments for his recordings. Often such a preference leads to a conclusion that live performances must be lacking. But Clockwise has a reputation of putting on daring, high energy acts. As a consequence, he has a loyal fan base. In late 2012, Clockwise released “Steam Dream.” It’s our favorite by him - and the reason is, “because!!!”
 "Stream Dream" by Andy Clockwise



     Concrete Knives is a band from Caen, France. The members are Nicolas Delhaya (vocals and guitar), Morgane Colas (lead vocals), Adrien Leprêtre (keys and backing vocals) Guillaume Aubertin (drums and backing vocals) and Augustin Hauville (bass and backing vocals). Yes, as is evident from the below music, there are numerous voices. But the music would be even better if they did some harmonizing.
 In October of 2012 their first album was released in France, but the release occurrred a little later in other European countries.  The name of the album is “Be Your Own King.”
     We like “Happy Mondays.” The song starts with a guitar riff that sounds like it’s a song by Airborne Toxic Event (particularly in guitar progressions in “All I Ever Wanted”, which is included below), but once the vocals begin, the similarity to Airborne ends.

"Happy Mondays" by Concrete Knives (Bandcamp)
For comparison purposes only - "All I Ever Wanted" by Airborne Toxic Event


"Bornholmer" by Concrete Knives



"Wallpaper" by Concrete Knives


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bondax- Band Review



Bondax is a DJ duo from Lancaster England.  The two teens (that’s right, teens!!) produce their own sounds that consist of chopped beats and endearing pop vocals, with a cool electro vibe.  George Townsend and Adam Kaye started remixing tracks as a duo in 2010, but eventually turned into cooporating in creation of originals.  The band started with just George, with Adam being a quick addition because of his ability to play instruments. Bondax has mostly been touring the UK, but will make appearances on the East Coast this upcoming month. They have a romantic feel, but they consider their tracks to have a “garage sound.”  They have four songs for free download via their FaceBook page, and eight songs total; all of which are singles or songs on EP’s (extended plays).  "Gold" is the first song that caught our attention, but "You're So" came in as a close second. 













Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Passenger - Bird Related Posts Part I

     Bird Related Posts - Part I. But this one is a stretch, because the connection is only with the word "feather" in a song we have been intending to post for weeks. The artist's name is Mike Rosenberg. He is a British performer who  uses "Passenger" as his stage name.
     In 2012, Passenger released the song "Feather on the Clyde." Included in the lyrics is a word "painting" of Glasgow.  "Clyde" is the name of the river on which Glasgow was settled. That's the basis for the song's reference to being as helpless as a feather on the Clyde.
     But "Feather on the Clyde" also establishes a connection between the city and another love.  The lyrics are:
"Well there's a river that runs through Glasgow.
And it makes her but it breaks her and takes her in two parts.
And her current just like my blood flows,
down from the hills, round aching bones to my restless heart.

Well I would swim but the river is so wide
and, I'm scared I won't make it to the other side.
Well God knows I've failed but He knows that I've tried.
I long for something that's safe and warm,
but all I have is all that is gone
I'm as helpless and as hopeless as a feather on the Clyde

Well on one side all the lights glow.
And the folks know and the kids go where the music and the drinking starts.
On the other side where no cars go,
up to the hills that stand alone like my restless heart.

Well I would swim but the river is so wide
and, I'm scared I won't make it to the other side.
Well God knows I've failed but He knows that I've tried.
I long for something that's safe and warm.
But all I have is all that is gone.
I'm as helpless and as hopeless as a feather on the Clyde

Well the sun sets late in Glasgow.
And the daylight and the city part.
And I think of you in Glasgow.
Cause you're all that's safe, you're all that's warm in my restless heart."


As a bonus, this is "Let Her Go" by Passenger


The "painting" of a city is particularly well done in the song "Landscape" by Shawn Phillips. The song was recorded decades before the arrival of YouTube or Soundcloud. The options for posting old songs are limited. We apologize for the need for a volume adjustment.


Wake Owl - Bird Related Posts Part II

     This is the second of four blog entries within a bird theme.  This one is directed to Wake Owl, a project of Colyn Cameron.  Cameron is a songwriter from Vancouver, Canada.  He has been releasing material for close to a decade, but his first Wake Owl album is a 2013 release.The album is entitled "Wild Country."
     We enjoy the title track of "Wild Country," but another song on the album steps forward as the keeper. "Gold" made its way to an episode of the television series Grey's Anatomy, creating a small stir.  Below is the SoundCloud version and the Grey's Anatomy version.
"Gold" by Wake Owl


The same song on "Grey's Anatomy"


S.F. CONCERT ALERT - Wake Owl will be performing at Hotel Utah in San Francisco on Friday March 8, 2013.  For information, visit http://www.hotelutah.com/event/206911-wake-owl-san-francisco/

The Away Days - Bird Related Posts - Part III

     This is the third of four posts within a bird theme.  We admit this is the furthest stretch, because the connection with the theme is based on the country of origin.
     If you ask someone in the U.S. to name her favorite band from Turkey, you are likely to only get a blank stare. That would have been our reaction until this year. Our new-found response is The Away Days. They are a four-member group from Istanbul. The conventionality of the band name is a contrast to the unconventional (at least to us) names of the members - Oguzcan Ozen, Sezer Kic, Berk Tekelioglu and Burak Serter. According to the members, the explanation is that The Away Days connotes "a feeling of not feeling at home, not belonging there."
     Well, The Away Days will indeed be away in 2013.  Next month, they will be in Texas for SXSW.  Here's hoping that they hit the San Francisco area as well, because the high energy dream-pop style would be a joy to see live.
"Dressing Room" by The Away Days. At least for a while, the song is a Free, Legal and Recommended download (FLR download).
October 21, 2013 update - The song is no longer offered for free on Soundcloud, but is legally available at http://www.indierockcafe.com/2013/04/band-of-the-week-the-away-days/


"Galaxies" by The Away Days - another FLR download.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theawaydays
Website: http://www.theawaydays.com/

Chirping - Bird Related Posts Part IV

     This is the final of four blog entries within a bird theme. Both the band name (Chirping) and one of the songs ("Birdland") fit the theme.
     Chirping is an Indie band from Stockholm, a city that mass produces rapid-playing guitarists.  Quoting the bio at the band's website, "Chirping is an Indie rock band from Stockholm, Sweden. In its current form the band has existed since the summer of 2011 and has played a number of gigs and recorded the single Birdland and the EP The Sirens."  The band members are Carl Vikberg (vocals and guitar), Johan Melander (Guitar), Viktor Åström (bass guitar) and Björn Rudling (drums).
  The guitar work sometimes resembles U2, while the vocals approach The National (although with less ease in those lower reaches). So, they are skilled. But how do they make a living? Their website indicates that their recent live performances have been free to attend, and the songs they post are Free, Legal and Recommended (FLR) downloads. 
"Birdland" by Chirping - FLR Download


"Flicker & Fade" by Chirping - FLR Download

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

To Kill a King – Music's Equivalent to HBO’s “Dexter”

     In the HBO television series “Dexter,” the principle character is an extremely likable guy with one flaw – he kills people.  Dexter refers to his “Dark Passenger” as being the source of his antisocial urges, but he channels the Dark Passenger toward good (removing other mass murderers from society).
     We think we found the musical equivalent to Dexter.  The band seems to revolve around death, but if you look past that "flaw," it’s easy to enjoy their presence. What are the Dexter-like characteristics? The band is named To Kill a King, which is taken from Hamlet. As explained by the band’s songwriter, Ralph Pellymounter, ”I liked the idea of Claudius killing King Hamlet by pouring poison into his ear – and how that relates to music.” (Oh, that makes sense. Wait!!!)
     We first became aware of To Kill a King prior to the start of our blogging. We entered a personal email address in order to qualify for a download of their song “Funeral.” The song is about wanting to have friends, so that your parents will be proud and will smile when the friends attend your funeral. OK, it’s not a statement you would feel comfortable hearing from your Daughter’s prom date. But each time we hear the song, we like it more. Nevertheless, without any good reason, we temporarily lost sight of “Funeral” within the music collection.
      Using the email address we provided, To Kill a King sends us reminders of upcoming events. Each reminder includes a scene having the appearance of a suicide, but with “blue blood” (a reference to the death of a king?). This morning, we received an email that identified a Soundcloud opportunity to stream the album “Cannibals with Cutlery,” which will be released in the U.K. on February 24th.

     That’s the Dark Passenger side. Now it is time to look at the music of To Kill a King. We are impressed!!! This is a group with a soon-to-be-released album that deserves attention. All of the bands we recommend have songs that are noteworthy, but few have so many within a single release. We have had discussions with a good friend (Bob G.) who makes a good argument that groups should be judged on their body of work, not just their best one or two songs. “Cannibals with Cutlery” is an album that should be appreciated by music lovers who enjoy isolated songs and those who enjoy listening to an album in its entirety. Below are our favorites today, but that might change before tomorrow.
"Funeral" by To Kill a King


"Letters to My Lover the Dylan Fan" by To Kill a King - we love the crescendo toward the end, with the quiet fade at the end. UPDATE - THE SONG IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE ON SOUNDCLOUD.



"Family" by To Kill a King - we like the light guitar and the horns (but not necessarily the short falsetto singing immediately before the horns enter at the 3:58 mark of the song – but it’s short).




WE AWAIT THE U.S. RELEASE OF "CANNIBALS WITH CUTLERY."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Silent Rider - Freely Available


     Next week, we are both going to San Francisco to see A Silent Film again.  In 2012, the U.K. group put on one of our favorite performances, when they held their album release party at Café Du Nord for about 50 very appreciative fans. 
    But this blog entry is about another performer with a “Silent” in its moniker.  Silent Rider is actually a single person - Reed Kackley. But other musicians are recruited during live performances and during recording sessions. For example, Michael Santiago is acknowleged as an important contributor in recoding the album, while Dan Goldberger, Ryan Payne and Aaron Goodrich provide depth during performances.     
    Kackley is an electronic, down tempo artist within Brooklyn, NY. Below are our favorites from Silent Rider. Both are FLR downloads (Free, Legal and Recommended downloads).  If you visit the website of Silent Rider (http://silentridermusic.com/), the entire album is available as a free download).

"Skin" by Silent Rider 


"I Was a Bomb" by Silent Rider

If your bowser does not show the download availability for this one, the URL is https://soundcloud.com/silentrider/i-was-a-bomb/download

Presidents' Day

What does a social studies teacher do in his spare time?  Well, Matt Beat writes and records songs about U.S. Presidents.  Below is his recent release.
THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES:

     Importanly, Matt Beat's work should not be confused with that of the band The Presidents of the United States of America (aka Presidents of the USA), which is a Seattle-based grunge trio dating back to 1993.  Their grunge will be be presented at The Independent in San Fransico on May 24th and 25th.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Concert Review – At “The Comic Book Store”

     Last night (February 16), SLG Publishing’s Art Boutiki & Gallery hosted the CD Release party for the San Jose band Troubadour. Art Boutiki is affectionately known as “The Comic Book Store,” raising thoughts of the hit TV sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”  According to its website, Art Boutiki is “San Jose's swankiest spot for comic books, graphic novels and cool stuff. What else would you expect from the self-proclaimed "Coolest Comics Publisher in America."  The current address is 577 S. Market, but in April Art Boutiki is relocating to 44 Race Street in San Jose.
     Art Boutiki offers a limited number of concert events each month.  Our best guess on capacity is 100 people (the new location will be slightly larger than the current one).  The sound system is more than adequate for the size. As a touch that raises nostalgia for a wide range of attendees, the “wallpaper” behind the stage is an assembly of album covers from artists of various genres, something for everybody. The price is always affordable, and because the venue does not sell alcoholic beverages, an evening at Art Boutiki is always an inexpensive, worthwhile event. 
      Last night, the younger one of us could not make it, but Alan L. joined me. It was a collection of artists that only Art Boutiki would book - four artists with not much more in common than what appeared to be a genuine appreciation of being part of the program.

     The first performance of the evening was Better Promises, which is primarily Brandon Gross.  The other member deserves mention, but we did not catch his name.  Like the overall program of that night, Better Promises was all over the map in its performance. Better Promises started with a song, but then Gross explained that he was taking a poetry class (he’s about 20 years old) that required a presentation, so he would mix poetry recital with the music.  WHAT??? Hey, it actually worked.  Gross added in some improvisational song writing.  Then, he finished with an attempt to use the whistling start of “Five Years Time” by Noah and the Whale as the basis for a loop that would continue to build as they progressed through the finale. Unfortunately, Gross had to go to a less attractive loop alternative, because he couldn’t repress laughter and whistling is not an option during laughter. Still, if you judge a performance upon how engaged the concert-goers are, Better Promises had a very successful evening.

     After a set change, we were ready to enter a very different dimension, musically.  Big Tree is an Indie pop quintet based in Berkeley, Ca. If you are just skimming through this review, there is just one thing you need to know about Big Tree – THEY ARE GOOD. In fact, when they added the xylophone after about half their set, they were much better than good. The five members were Kaila McIntyre-Bader, Anna Ghezzi, Luke Bace, Dan Pirello, and Matt Schory. It was Art Boutiki's own Dillon Vado who stepped in with the added percussion. A short segment from the performance is available below:

     When Kaila and Anna worked together on vocals, they had the complete attention of the audience, even the people who like to go to concerts in order to have a place to hold a conversation.  But the band included a quality male voice as well.  They did try some new songs (that’s what Art Boutiki is about), and the new songs needed some practice, but we were warned that the new stuff was like a baby with large ears that needed to be grown into (there was disagreement over the comparison of the baby having too many toes). 
As a sample of their music, below is the title track from the CD “This New Year.”


     Onward to the next musical dimension, country rock.  Hurricane Roses is from Santa Cruz/San Jose. Comparing the band to those from the height of country rock, when Marshall Tucker was one of the rulers, Hurricane Roses was certainly more country than rock. But there was a sufficient amount of rock to keep rockers interested.  And it was clear that a number of attendees showed up primarily or exclusively to see Hurricane Roses. The musicians were skilled and Angelina Lemucchi’s voice is forceful. The only disappointment was that the banjo playing didn’t follow them to Art Boutiki. Below is their song “Heart Grows Tired.”


     Finally, to the fourth musical dimension, post punk rock.  In reality, some of the songs by Troubadour were rock songs seemingly removed from any punk influence. The band is based in San Jose and consists of Rob Ernst, Jeremiah Dias, Andrew Beach, Derrick Reyes and Jared Kauk.  It was easy to be happy for these guys. It was their CD release party and a healthy portion of the audience seemed to personally know at least one member. It is not uncommon to hear someone yell, “We love you” at a concert, but it seemed much more genuine last night. The band enjoyed the evening, and it was infectious.  Good luck with your new release guys. Below is the first song they played in the setlist, “The Drought."


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Three for Free - Free, Legal and Recommended Downloads

     Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of new releases.  The end of the offer may be based upon reaching a maximum number of downloads or the expiration of some period of time.  But at least for now, here are songs that qualify as Free, Legal and Recommended (FLR) downloads.


WARNING: This is an update dated June 11, 2013. Unfortunately, the bands have discontinued the free downloads of the songs. But we can still listen.

     The first FLR download is from As Elephants Are, a four-member band based in Buckinghamshire, England.  In 2012, the band received some attention when it released "War Cry."  Now, As Elephants Are has a double-header release.  Only "Lucifer" is being offered for free download, but we are including "Youth Blood" because, while we like both ends of the double header, we prefer "Youth Blood" over "Lucifer."
"Lucifer" by As Elephants Are - The FLR download


"Youth Blood" by As Elephants Are - Not a FL Download, but it's recommended


     Another U.K. band that intends to release a double header in March is LULS.  Of the two songs, only "Sympathy or Love" is offered as a FLR download. But we like "Young," which was released last year and is still a FLR download, so it is included below.  If you enjoy explosive guitar riffs and forceful choruses, the first song is a keeper.
"Sympathy or Love" by LULS



     Moving to Ireland now, the third band is Notas.  They are a six-piece group from North County Dublin.
"Rosemary" by Notas

Friday, February 15, 2013

The 15th Is a Great Day for Music Discoveries- MAP

     From a band discovery perspective, the best day of the month is the 15th.   Each month, the Music Alliance Pact (MAP) posts its collection of songs on that day.  MAP is a collective of 36 blogs (at least) in an equal number of countries.  Each blog chooses a song by an artist from its home country for the monthly post.  Approval from each artist is a requirement.
     Often, the number of participating blogs swells to between 39 and 43. The collection may be legally downloaded as a ZIP file and then sampled over time.  The February download site is http://ge.tt/8U3NjPY/v/0.  Alternatively, you can go to one of the participating blogs and individually stream the songs to determine which ones are “keepers.”  We tend to use Pop Cop, the Scottish contributor - http://thepopcop.co.uk/2013/02/music-alliance-pact-february-2013/#more-6854

     MAP is an opportunity to discover new music and maybe gain insights into Indie trends in other countries.  After a first run through the February songs, we are most interested in the contributions from Scotland, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, and Switzerland. 

Happy hunting!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine’s Day - Jessie Ware

     This is a good opportunity to introduce Jessie Ware to Indie Obsessive.  Below is “Valentine” by Ware and Sampha, who is a member of SBTRKT.  Before focusing on her solo career, Ware sometimes performed in concert with SBTRT.
"Valentine" by Jessie Ware and Sampha


     Jessie Ware is 28 and is from the U.K.  In August of 2012 she released her debut album “Devotion.”  The album has done well in Europe, but not as well in the U.S.  In fact, despite the intimacy of the venue, her performance at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on January 24, 2013 was not a sellout until a few days before the event.  But she is trending.  Ware’s upcoming show at a somewhat larger SF venue, The Independent, did sellout quickly.  Additionally, she will perform at the Coachella Festival in April.
"Running" by Jessie Ware


     If there is a defensible complaint about Jessie Ware, it is that she likes to start her songs with approaches that are far less interesting than her singing.  110% is one example:
"110%" by Jessie Ware



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cayucas, Pacific Air, Ra Ra Riot - Concert Review

     On Monday night, February 11, we saw Ra Ra Riot at the Fillmore in San Francisco.  This is a venue I would recommend for live music. It’s larger than our other venue recommendations (The Independent, Bottom of the Hill, Café du Nord), but the acoustics are very good.  They continue to follow their traditions of having a greeter at the door, giving out free apples in a tin bucket as you enter, and providing free posters to every attendee of a soldout show.  However, this was not a sellout, so we did not get a poster.  The aesthetics are striking, as ten beautiful glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling, in stark contrast to framed vintage rock posters throughout the upstairs area.
For weeks, we were hesitant in our decision of whether to attend the concert.  The hesitancy was not based on the talent of the bands.  Instead, we were concerned that the combination of the three bands would not have enough of a “rock edge” to keep the evening interesting.  As it turned out, we made the right decision when we made the drive to San Francisco.

     There were two opening bands for Ra Ra Riot.  The first, Cayucas, is a band founded in 2012.  They’re from a small beach-town off the coast near San Luis Obispo, and their music reflects their origin; a surf/rock vibe.  Cayucas has been opening for the Ra Ra Riot tour thus far.  The band consists of five members, and at least some members had family at the show.  The lead singer gave them recognition and “shout outs” twice during their performance. 
“Cayucas” by Cayucos

      The second band, Pacific Air, was very impressive.  They too are from Southern California. They had good vocalization and three of the five members regularly contributed to the vocals.  To the credit of the band, each band member has charisma, so that if your view was partially blocked by another concert-goer, there was still something interesting to watch.  Pacific Air had just joined the Ra Ra Riot tour that day, after driving 32 hours from Chicago to make the show.  Surprisingly they didn’t seem tired at all! They put on a strong performance, with our favorite song being “Float”.  The vocals within the song were very enchanting and the chorus was catchy. Their genre is pop, but they have a rock feel to them as well, at least in concert. 
"Float" by Pacific Air


     Ra Ra Riot was great!  They played a setlist of 17 songs, including the two for the encore.  The band has six members.   They are based in Syracuse, New York, but have been touring the United States this year.  Their genre is rock, but of particular interest is their use of the cello and violin, both played by females.  The violinist sang and provided lead vocals for one of the songs.  The string section added a valuable tone to their overall sound, which is an electro-pop.  The “music visualizers” were a great addition in bringing an intended feel for their music.  Below are two pictures of the visualizers taken while using my iPhone during the performance.  The current single of Ra Ra Riot is “Beta Love,” which is included below.  The song is free and legal from the band and is recommended by us. “When I Dream” is also included, since it is our  favorite.



"Beta Love" by Ra Ra Riot 


"When I Dream" by Ra Ra Riot