Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Collection – A Band Review

     Now and then, Lois Lane would theorize about Clark Kent actually being Superman and would ask, “Have you ever seen them together?” Well, of course Superman was indeed the superhero persona of the mild-mannered Clark Kent.
     Well, has anyone ever seen Typhoon and the Collection together? When limiting the investigation to an individual level, has anyone ever seen Kyle Morton and David Wimbish together? Their voices, their uses of vocal inflections, and their tastes in musical composition are too closely aligned for there to be two separate people. Importantly, the Superman/Clark Kent question is easily distinguished from this music-specific investigation, since Typhoon and The Collection are both “super.”  

     Indie Obsessive has professed its appreciation for the orchestral sound of Typhoon more than once. Typhoon has staked claim on the Western United States, since the band is based in Portland, Oregon. On the other hand, The Collection owns the East. The band of between 12 and 17 works its craft in Greensboro, North Carolina (because there are so many members, the listing is found at the bottom of this post).
     On July 15, the Collection released the debut album “Ars Moriendi” (The Art of Dying). The first single from the album is “The Gown of Green”.

     The translated title track of the “Ars Moriendi” album is “The Art of Dying.”


    Currently, a Noisetrade offer is available. Of course, the Collection would appreciate a tip.

     Just for comparison purposes, here is one of the great Typhoon songs – “Young Fathers.”

the Collection is:
David Wimbish - Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo, Pipa, Violin, Cello, Horns, Vocals
Mira-joy Wimbish - Accordion, Glockenspiel, Aux Percussion, Vocals
Hayden Cooke - Bass Guitar, Doublebass
Christina Goss - Piano, Glockenspiel, Aux Percussion
Whitney Keller - Organ, Autoharp, Glockenspiel, Aux Percussion, Vocals
Philip Keller - Baritone Horn
Sandra Wimbish - Trumpet
Steve Rozema - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Graham Dickey - Trombone
Chase Salmons - Drums, Chains, Weights, Keys, Shakers, Tambourines
Tom Troyer - Electric Guitar, Phin, Charango, Flute, Didjeridoo
Maria Yandell - Violin
Josh Weesner - Violin
Christina Brooke - Cello
Jennifer Millis - Cello
Hope Baker - Clarinet, Aux Percussion

Additional Musicians -
Elisa Cox - Violin
Clay White - Saw, Trumpet
Ivy White - French Horn
Jeff Stuart Saltzman - Marxophone
Edd Kerr - Electric Guitar, Banjo
Group Vocals: Kevan Chandler, Caleb and Meagan Hunter, Kim Bazel, Anna Bosovich, Luke Carson

Saturday, August 30, 2014

“Wolf” by Mammals – A Song Review

     Mammals is the pseudonym of Guy Brown, but the band also includes Nathaniel Joyce and Jake Fondleworthy.Brown identifies his hometown as Manly, Australia. He is now located in Sydney. If pressured to associate a single genre with Mammals, the best response would certainly be electronica. Still, Mammals will step outside of the genre, as in “Wolf,” a song that was inspired by the death of a friend.
     “Wolf” begins acoustically – not a typical start for someone with the processing skills of Guy Brown. An electric guitar and a kick drum enter at the 0:31 mark. However, it’s not electronica, even after the vocals undergo significant processing a short while later. If your tastes are similar to ours, you’ll agree that the first two minutes are enjoyable. Then, at the 2:09 mark, “Wolf” becomes blogworthy. The Soundcloud waveform visualizes the steady energy increase. At 2:48 a Rock guitar takes the focus, but a “cleaner” guitar, the drums and some electronica play a cooperative role.
     “Wolf” by Mammals

     “Codeine Eyes” by Mammals

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gaslight Anthem’s “Get Hurt” and Dotan’s “Home”

     This post includes two songs with three things in common. First, both songs feature the kick drum. At the start of “Get Hurt,” the kick drum provides a heartbeat while the lyrics are heartfelt (“I keep my wounds without a bandage…”). In “Home,” the kick drum establishes the level of energy of this anthem.
     Second, Soundcloud versions of the songs only recently surfaced.
     Third, the songs were the focus of previous Indie Obsessive posts that were limited to Youtube versions. 

     “Get Hurt” by Gaslight Anthem - From the July 26th post CLICK HERE, if interested.


     “Home” by Dotan - From the August 11th post CLICK HERE, if interested.

“I’m Not Coming Back” by Husky – A Song Review

     Husky is yet another reason to pay attention to the Australian music scene. The trio has had strong offerings in the past, such as “History’s Door.” But they stepped it up this year with their release of “I’m Not Coming Back.” The song uses the falsetto range very effectively, incorporates the trumpet (or at least an electronically generated trumpet sound), and is a sequence of change-of-pace transitions that maintain the listener’s attention for the full 3:27.
     Husky is from Melbourne. The members are Husky Gawenda (vocals and guitar), Gideon Preiss (keys and vocals), Evan Tweedie (bass and vocals). They visited the United States after the release of the previous album. One stop on that tour was San Francisco. We're hoping that history repeats itself.
     “I’m Not Coming Back” by Husky

     “History's Door” by Husky

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

“Carry Oceans” by Montoya – A Song Review

     It is difficult to learn anything about Montoya. The information on the band’s website is minimal – “Yo, our name is Montoya.” Their Facebook page identifies Paris, France as a hometown. We received an alert from member Cécilla Bonnet and evidence indicates that a second member is Hugo Rattoray.
      But it’s the music that matters, and the first offering from Montoya makes this an Indie group to follow. The song is “Carry Oceans.” The vocals are exceptional. The production includes the “little touches” that often make the big difference, such as the bursts of humming that first appear at the 0:47 mark.
     Indie Obsessive is already looking forward to hearing the next release from Montoya.
     "Carry Oceans" by Montoya

The Family Crest at the First City Music Festival

     The First City Festival in Monterey, California does not have to take the back seat when music festivals are compared. Within the last 18 months, we have attended and enjoyed Bonnaroo, Coachella, Austin City Limits, Outside Lands, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, as well as a number of one-day festivals, such as Live 105’s BFD. If Indie Obsessive were to individually look at the festivals and form lists as to why each opportunity was a better experience than the others, the list for First City might be the longest. We agreed with the member of the Cults when he stated that it was the “most peaceful” of the festivals he attended. Even during the performances of the headliners (Beck and The National), the attendees were respectful of each other. And even during the performances of the earlier, lesser known bands, the attendees were appreciative of the skills of the artists. It was a well-run festival with a well-conceived list of bands presented in a venue with a history that is difficult to rival.
     When considering the intimacy of the venue, it is easy to doubt its ability to accommodate a one-day (June 18, 1967) setlist that included Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Buffalo Springfield, Grateful Dead, Ravi Shankar and The Mama & the Papas. If you asked 100 concert lovers to identify a date and place in festival history at which they would like to be present, it would be interesting to know how many would pick a day of Woodstock, how many would identify one of the many amazing opportunities in Europe, and how many would travel back with us to Monterey on June 18, 1967. 

     The headliners this past weekend were as good as expected. No surprises. The awakenings occurred earlier in the days. The Family Crest should not have been a surprise for us. They are “local,” since the band is based in San Francisco. Recently, NPR raved about their abilities, and we enjoyed the NPR performance stream. Still (with no exaggeration), at approximately the half point of the performance, we realized that the muscles used to form a smile were fatigued, but they weren't going to rest soon. The band’s chemistry is strong. The instruments are varied and the musicians are accomplished. Monterey was the first place we saw The Family Crest, but it will not be the last.
     Consider all the great reasons to enjoy the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men in a live setting. Add a trombone, another voice and even more energy - and you have an understanding of why The Family Crest is a great live band.
     The core members are Liam McCormick, John Seeterlin, Charlie Giesige, Laura Bergmann, George Mousa Samaan, Owen Sutter, and Charly Akert.
     The below video is not from Monterey, but it is better than our recording. 

     “Love Don’t Go” by The Family Crest





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Layered Vocalization – Small Wonder and Stuart Newman

     The common feature for the two songs of this post is the layering of vocals. It is the care in arranging the layering and the quality in the execution that set these two songs apart from the many that unsuccessfully use repeating lyrics to engage listeners (dating back to at least 1980, when Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band released the otherwise strong track “Against the Wind”).

     Small Wonder is the performance name of Henry Crawford, who is based in Brooklyn. The female voice belongs to Susannah Cutler. The layering occurs at the 4:43 mark, but there is plenty to enjoy during those first four plus minutes.
     “Until I Open My Wings” by Small Wonder


     Stuart Newman identifies his hometown as South Coast, UK. In his song “One Big F,” the vocal layering dominates the second half of the track.
     “One Big F" by Stuart Newman

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pompeii and Lisbon – Band Reviews

     United States trademark law (The Lanham Act) prohibits registration of marks that are “primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive.” In contrast, Indie Obsessive loves band names that are representative of that string of multi-syllable words. Bombay Bicycle Club is from London. So is Bastille. Well, here are two more bands that generate music that should be on the radar, despite having band names that won’t be blessed by the Trademark Office.

     Pompeii is a four-member band from Austin, Texas. The song “Blueprint” is the first release from an album, “LOOM,” that is scheduled to drop on October 14. The song is one part Ambient and two parts Rock.
     Pompeii was first formed in 2004, but the band took a five-year break before working on “LOOM.” The members are Dean Stafford (vocals/guitar), Erik Johnson (guitar/keys), Colin Butler (bass) and Rob Davidson (drums).
     “Blueprint” by Pompeii


     Lisbon takes the geographically misdescriptive concept a step further. Lisbon is a UK band, rather than one from Portugal, and their recently released song is “Rio.” The hometown of Lisbon is Whitney Bay, Newcastle. The members are Matthew Varty, Joe Atkinson, Gaz Turkington and Alex Wright.
     “Rio” begins with an interesting stutter. Then, the song presents itself as fitting within the Pop genre. But the song periodically breaks into the Rock genre with its driving guitar. The Rock is most apparent (and energizing) after a pause at the 2:33 mark. 
    “Rio” by Lisbon

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Beatnik Creative – ATTU and Eliza Shaddad

     Warning: “rambling” is the best word to describe what follows. The first ramble reflects the thought process triggered when we noticed the quality and quantity of talent associated with Beatnik Creative. The processing went something along the lines of:
     It’s odd that until the term “hipster” came into vogue, it was popular to describe yourself as a “hippie,” but no one claimed to be a “beatnik.” In the late 1950s to the mid-1960s, being a beatnik was a lifestyle. The same is true for being a hippie in the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. It is our position that unless you lived one of the lifestyles during the appropriate time period, you cannot be a beatnik or a hippie. We may stand alone in that position, but we stand firm, although it means we will never be able to identify ourselves by either term.
     Who cares, right? We’re not even sure we care. So, moving on…

    Beatnik Creative is based in London. It identifies itself as “a collective of passionate people that supports great, independent music beyond the constraints of their genres, through development, innovation and visual design.” The website of Beatnik Creative is http://www.beatnikcreative.com/label/. Today, the website features four artists. Because Indie Obsessive tends to do things in blocks of three, three of the artists are identified below.

     When we heard the two songs currently available from ATTU, the "thought balloon" that went with the cartoon image was “Get off the tracks music world, here comes another momentum-gaining train from London.” Two songs with very different approaches – that’s always a good song. Particularly toward the end of “Don’t Sleep,” the tight weaving of vocalization and instrumentation reminds us of the best of New York’s Freelance Whales. On the other hand, “We Are Ordinary People” is a combination of musical preheat (such as at the start, with its quiet vocals and periodic guitar pick) and musical boil over (such as during the near wall of sound at different portions of the song). An album from ATTU lands on September 1. Indie Obsessive is looking forward to hearing the rest of the tracks.  
     ATTU is a North London-based four piece comprised of Stefan Antoinette (guitar/vocals), Michelle Antoinette (bass/vocals/synths), Chike Newman (samples/vocals) and Timothy Earl (guitar/synths).  
     “Don’t Sleep” By ATTU

     “We Are Ordinary People” By ATTU


     Eliza Shaddad released the EP “Waters” on June 16, 2014. The title track evidences the vocal strength of Shaddad, as she uses subtle but very effective voice inflections to let listeners know her levels of conviction regarding different statements and to aid the energy surges that occur at various sections within “Waters.”
     “Waters” by Eliza Shaddad


     Turtle is Jon Cooper, a singer/songwriter from Glasgow. His EP “Who Knows” dropped last year (October 2013).
     "Who Knows" by Turtle

     Eliza Shaddad x Turtle – “Driftwood” (Travis Cover)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Future Islands and Operators at Harlow’s – A Concert Review

     Today’s optional-involvement, low-effort, quick-response-only, no-wrong-answer question is: How many bands would you drive 120 miles to see if (a) it’s a work/school night, (b) you already have tickets to see the band within the next week at a more convenient location, and (c) you can only count a band that can realistically be expected to perform at a venue that holds less than 2,000 fans? If given more time and effort, the answer would probably increase, but our response is “Two – Future Islands and The Mispers." [Note: this blog post is not about The Mispers.]
     So last night, the drive was made to Sacramento for the performance of Future Islands at Harlow’s. The experience was worth the effort. Future Islands was as good as expected, the opening band (Operators) was surprisingly entertaining, and the drive was trouble-free.


     The music of Future Islands is generated by Gerrit Welmers (keyboards), William Cashion (bass), and Samuel T. Herring (vocals), with drummer Michael Lawry typically joining the band while on tour ( we admit to not paying attention to whether it was Lawry manning the drums last night). But the performance draw of the band is the ability of Herring to engage with the audience. Last night, Herring toned down his manic behavior somewhat, but the entertainment value did not suffer. He hugged the head of at least one fan, grasped hands with people he could reach, and held the attention of everyone who attended the sold out show. Indie Obsessive has made no secret of its appreciation for the band. Last night only strengthened that appreciation.



Devojka
     We arrived at Harlow’s unaware that an opening band was scheduled. But two drum sets and two keyboards occupied the stage, so it wasn’t a surprise when a seemingly unfamiliar trio walked onto the stage shortly before 8:30. They identified themselves as Operators and put on a high-energy electronic-based performance. The keyboard player (Devojka) and the lead vocalist/guitarist (Dan Boeckner) jokingly referred to the drummer (Sam Brown) by the nickname “Wedge,” because of his alleged ability to come between a couple. But it was Brown’s skills on the drums that held the Synth Pop songs of the Canadian trio together.
Dan Boeckner
     Coincidently, on the drive to Sacramento, I admitted to a weakness in the ability to recall faces. It was a coincidence, since I watched the performance by Operators from close range and had zero recollection of having seen Boeckner and Smith twice in 2013. The two were members of the Supergroup Divine Fits. As a second but less embarrassing coincidence, we had just seen another member of Divine Fits (Britt Daniel of Spoon) at the Outside Lands Festival (see the lowermost picture).
Sam Brown
     “True” by Operators (currently, you can download the song for free by visiting the band’s website: http://operatorsmusic.com/)

Spoon at Outside Lands 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Visiting Old Friends - Racing Glaciers, Prawn and Amber Run

     With a title that includes the term “obsessive,” this blog should embrace the desire to return to bands that were previously featured. But for some reason, we resist that desire. Today, the resistance breaks down, primarily because a band we like (Racing Glaciers) released a song (“Animal”) that is even better than their earlier work. “Animal” was delayed more than once, but it arrived today.
     This is the fifth visit of Racing Glaciers to Indie Obsessive. Although other instruments provide support “Animal” starts with a reliance on the skills of lead singer and pianist Tim Monaghan. He delivers. Then, at the 1:06 mark, Danny Thorpe (guitar), Simon Millest (guitar), Matt Scheepers (bass) and Matt Welch (drums) take a step forward. Unlike other songs from Racing Glaciers, Scheepers’ trumpet never takes center stage.    
     “Animal” by Racing Glaciers


     In an earlier post, a song from the band Prawn was compared favorably to a hit by Silversun Pickups. “Glass, Irony” has no resemblance to anything from Silversun Pickups. The versatility of Prawn is apparent. And “Glass, Irony” does let the trumpet take a significant role (after the 2:30 mark).
     Prawn is a band from Ridgewood, New Jersey. The members are Tony Clark (guitar and vocals), Jamie Houghton (drums), Kyle Burns (guitar and vocals), Ryan McKenna (bass and misc.) and Corey Davis (bass and misc.).
     “Glass, Irony” by Prawn


     Amber Run returns for a fourth visit. Their most recent song is “Pilot.” Lyrically, the song begins like Carole King’s “Sweet Seasons,” with the statement “Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.” But “Pilot” then tells us that you’re never forced to choose, while King asserts that most times you choose between the two. More importantly, “Pilot” is more diverse and more textured than the Carole King hit.
     The video for “Pilot” is a continuation of the somewhat disturbing video of “I Found.” Both videos are embedded below.
     “Pilot” by Amber Run

“I Found” 

“Pilot"

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Three for Free, Legal and Recommended (“FL&R”) – A Second August Version

     Free and Legal Downloads? Yes, at least temporarily. Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of new releases.  The end of the offer might 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 (FL&R) downloads.

     Fossa describes itself as “an alternative four-piece band wandering around London.” We envy the succinctness. In less than ten words, the message tells a little about where the band is based geographically and musically, the makeup of the band, and their sense of humor.
     Indie Obsessive is not as short-winded, so we’ll note that the members of Fossa are Louis Shadwick (vocals, keys and guitars), Joseph Malpas (percussion), and brothers Tom Dunning (guitars), and Will Dunning (bass). Fossa recently released the EP “Sea of Skies,” which includes the track “Five Days.” The song is solid throughout, but is increasingly exceptional in its interplay between vocals and guitar. After listening to the entire song, we often return to the 3:00 mark for at least one repeat.
     "Five Days" by Fossa


     The Sydney-based band Panama previously released “Always” and other songs that continue to receive frequent play on the U.S. satellite radio stations. Within the last few days, “Stay Forever” hit Soundcloud. It is our song of preference from Panama. And it is currently a free download.
     "Stay Forever" by Panama


     The third song does not include a Soundcloud opportunity, so we travel to Bandcamp. The song “Domino” by Nightmom is out of the ordinary for Indie Obsessive. Sure, we have featured falsetto vocals before. And we certainly enjoy quick-paced guitar picking. But Nightmom and its self-described “Rattlesnake Rock” puts these features together in way that is more interesting than most. The band is from Providence, Rhode Island. The core members are Nick Gomez-Hall (guitars and vocals) and Travis Lloyd (drums and vocals).
     “Domino” by Nightmom

Saturday, August 16, 2014

EDITSELECT and other Multi-Key Computer Commands

     It’s certainly no secret that Alt-J selected its name based on the “coolness factor” that a triangle (the math symbol for “delta”) is formed when the Alt and J keys are simultaneously depressed on a Mac keyboard. But Alt-J doesn’t hold a monopoly on selecting a band name on the basis of computer commands.
     Truth is, we are only assuming that EDITSELECT is a name based on useful commands for a computer program. If the assumption is flawed, let us know.  EDITSELECT is an Indie band from South East London. The members are Matthew Stolworthy, Helena Long, Charlie Creese and Sam Ayling. Our song of preference is “Lungs,” because we enjoy the guitar/percussion interaction at the start and the band vocals later in the song. But “Our Love is Tropical” is certainly worthwhile. 
     “Lungs” by EDITSELECT (Note: at times the band name is shown as EDIT/SELECT) 

     “Our Love is Tropical” by EDITSELECT


     Select All Delete Save As is undeniably a name that is based on computer commands, but not ones that are simultaneously executed. The band started as the British duo of Anthony Walker and Terry Emm, but the female voice in “Modern Life Is War” belongs to Rachael McVay.
     “Modern Life Is War” by Select All Delete Save As


     Delete Delete is an Auckland, New Zealand band that is heavy on the synth/guitar combination. The three members are Lani Purkis, Chris van de Geer and Kurt Shanks.
     “Between The Lines” by Delete Delete

Jessie Ware - Testing Your Preferences

     Some songs lend themselves well to allowing listeners to get a better understanding of their musical preferences or to gain confidence in the accuracy of their current understandings. Jessie Ware’s “Say You Love Me” is one of those songs. Even though it doesn’t change genres as the song progresses, it includes the type of variations that allow the listener to reflect upon featured elements. It is often minimalistic, so the variations stand out.
     Here is our self-analysis:
     1. At the outset, the vocals are supported by guitars, but the mixing emphasizes the percussion more than the guitars. Indie Obsessive prefers the traditional percussive sounds. Electronics are fine, and actually add to the attractiveness of some songs. But listening to the first portion of “Say You Love Me” has us wondering how much more we would enjoy the song if an old-school drum set were used. Ya know, one that doesn’t require an electrical cord extending from it.
     2. At around the 2:37 mark, the song starts a crescendo. At 2:53, the intensity undergoes a second acceleration. Self-analysis: Indie Obsessive loves energy surges. That’s not likely to ever change.
     3. At 3:09, a choir enters. We have heard others assert that using a choir is a low-effort means for re-engaging listeners. Self-analysis: If use of a choir is a means of manipulating us, Indie obsessive doesn’t care. We enjoy choir-infused Indie.
     4. Finally, at 3:58, everything else falls to the wayside and Ware’s voice carries the song home. Unlike earlier portions, it is the sound of one voice and it is just an acoustic guitar. Self-analysis: Indie Obsessive agrees that for this song, with its message, the down tempo departure was well selected.

     “Say You Love Me” by Jesse Ware