Saturday, May 30, 2015

“Chasing Tails” by Sloes and “An Understanding” by Cavalry

     After receiving an email invitation to review the latest single by Sloes, we headed to the Soundcloud upload. The name of the song is “Chasing Tails.” It is different than “Devil in You,” which is the song that originally brought attention to the Sloes. “Chasing Tails” has a greater emphasis on Rock. Still, both songs benefit from the presence of the violin and the backing vocals of Elizabeth Milnes.
      It wasn’t surprising that we enjoyed “Chasing Tails.” But what occurred after the song was unexpected. Soundcloud migrated to a song by Calvary. “An Understanding” begins with the sound of a mandolin (although it may be generated by a guitar). The song is spirited, yet dark. Having enjoyed the one song by Calvary, we tried the other two. “Lament” and “Leaves” are at least as attractive. 
          Sloes is a quintet based in London. The members are Jerome Clark (vocals, samples, drum machine), Paul William Hand (guitar, backing vocals, keys), Luke Coare (drums), Jo Milnes (bass, backing vocals, keys) and his sister Katie Elizabeth Milnes (violin, backing vocals, keys).
      “Chasing Tails” by Sloes


     Cavalry is a band from Liverpool. The members are Steven Taylor (guitar), Gareth Dawson (drums), Alan Croft (lead vocals), Austin Logan (guitar) and Paul James Jones (bass).
      “An Understanding” by Cavalry

     “Lament” by Cavalry

     “Leaves” by Cavalry

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dominant Female Vocals - The May Post

     The common feature among the songs in this post is a heavy reliance upon female vocals. A song with vocals which accompany equally powerful instrumentation would not qualify. The vocals have to dominate the song.

     Eliot Sumner has a well-known father, but she is receiving attention based on her talent. We placed the song “Information” on our playlist months before being told she is the daughter of Sting. Her latest release is “Dead Arms & Dead Legs.” It’s a song that includes the “train crossing cadence” that is currently one of our obsessions. That cadence is heard in the piano from the start of the song.
     “Dead Arms & Dead Legs" by Eliot Sumner

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     Aurora is from Bergen, Norway, but will visit San Francisco on June 5 (Rickshaw Stop). In addition to singer/songwriter Aurora Aksnes, the members are Alf Godbolt (keys), Magnus Skylstad (drums), O. Martin (bass) and Silja Sol (synth).
     “Running with the Wolves” by Aurora

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     The Bright Smoke is a duo based in Brooklyn. The members are Mia Wilson and Quincy Ledbetter. In “Shakedown,” the instruments create an environment of force and determination, the lyrics fit well within that environment, but the vocalization style has a pensive feel to it. It’s a very attractive blend.
      “Shakedown" by The Bright Smoke

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     “River” by Tula doesn’t belong in this post, until the 1:27 mark is reached. At that point, the strength of the female vocals become dominant. Tula is from Sweden, but she has relocated to Berlin.
     “River” by Tula

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Firefly Festival 2015 – 25 Free Songs

     The Firefly Festival will occur on June 18-21, 2015. As a means for preparing festival-goers for the event in Dover, Delaware, a 25-song mixtape was made available for the price of an email address. Our prediction is that the offer will disappear when the date of the event arrives.
     The 25 songs are from performers who will appear at Firefly. The songs cover a wide range of genres. The offer is embedded below, and the list of songs is duplicated at the bottom of this post.




The songs on the Firefly 2015 mixtape
1. ODESZA – “Say My Name” (feating Zyra)
2. Sylvan Esso – “H.S.K.T.”
3. The White Panda – “Shut Up And Dance With Me” (WALK THE MOON Remix)
4. Bahamas – “Waves”
5. Vacationer – “Paradise Waiting”
6. Cathedrals – ‘Harlem”
7. Verite - “Colors”
8. PHOX - “1936”
9. Milo Greene - On The Fence”
10. Generationals - “Black Lemon”
11. Twin Peaks - “Making Breakfast”
12. Lizzo - “Batches & Cookies” (Featuring Sophia Eris)
13. Hey Rosetta! - “Gold Teeth”
14. Knox Hamilton - “Work It Out”
15. Sweater Beats - “Rain Dance”
16. Prinze George - “Victor”
17. Broncho - “It's On”
18. Jayceeoh, B-Sides & Fawks - “JIT GOING HAM”
19. Intergalactix - “If We Stepped On Mars”
20. FiLiBuStA - “No Handouts”
21. Jack Novak (featuring Bright Lights) - “Driving Blind”
22. Cardiknox - “Technicolor Dreaming”
23. Falls - “Home”
24. Kingsize - “Mathematics”
25. FIANCE - “Era”

“God Forsaken Land” by Sakia – A Song Review

     If you share our appreciation for songs that seemingly gain momentum throughout a period of three minutes, we can help each other onto the bandwagon of Sakia. The song “God Forsaken Land” is driven by the percussion (particularly the kick drum) from the start until the final fifteen seconds. But as the percussion leads the listener along, other features are added. With each addition, the song gets stronger. The bass, the lead guitar, the band vocals (at 1:40) – inertia is not allowed to prevent the momentum build. That doesn’t change until the final fifteen seconds, when the message is presented with only guitar accompaniment:
"Come and take my hand,
No need to understand."

Sakia is based in Seinäjoki/Helsinki, Finland. The six members are Juho Mäntylä, Matti Perälä, Mikko Kivistö, Petri Haakana, Timo Mäkelä and Ville Rantamäki.

     “God Forsaken Land” by Sakia

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

”Fault” by Hawai – A Song Review

     The band name is changed and their sound is adjusted, but they’ve returned. The song “Fault” is the first song from Hawai. It’s a combination of the vocalization we love from Lord Huron and the guitar processing that draws us to the Scottish bands.
     The members of Hawai are Jake Pappas, Jesse Dorman, Matt Gillen, Jared Slaybaugh and Casey Lagos. That’s the same five that performed as J. Thoven until early 2014.
    In June, Hawai will take up residency at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, California. On each of the first four Mondays in June, Hawai is performing for free at The Wayfarer. We are hoping the residency will be accompanied by more strong releases.

     ”Fault” by Hawai

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Live 105 BFD Primer – The Festival Stage(s)

     On June 6, a local radio station (Live 105) presents its annual one-day festival at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. The festival is named “Live 105 BFD;” and it has a very attractive format. The headliners are on the permanent amphitheater stage during the evening, but the efficient arrangement is the one in the afternoon. A temporary “Festival Stage” is actually a pair of stages positioned adjacent to each other, so that a good vantage point for one stage is as good or nearly as good for the other. As a band performs on one of the stages, the adjacent stage is being prepared for the next band. This permits almost continuous music for more than five hours.
     The afternoon arrangement also enables easily accessible alternative music choices, since there is also a succession of selected local bands performing at the “Soundcheck Stage” and a number of high energy performances occurring at the “Subsonic Stage/Tent."
     In 2013 and 2014, we enjoyed the performances at the Festival Stage(s), but thought the schedules were too Pop-heavy. This year’s collection has an emphasis on Pop, but it is more balanced. In addition to the Pop of bands like Misterwives and In the Valley Below, there is Hip Hop from YelaWolf, Rock from Death from Above 1979, and Synth from Cathedrals. The full list is:
Twenty One Pilots
Death From Above 1979
Best Coast
The Kooks
YelaWolf
MisterWives
Sheppard
The Orwells
Cathedrals
Meg Myers
WATERS
In The Valley Below

     We can make an argument for scheduling any of the twelve bands to close one of the paired stages. A slot in final two is significant, since the last two performances are allotted more stage time than the earlier bands. This is a strong list. Below are songs from the bands, with an emphasis on live performances. 

     The Orwells visit to David Letterman was entertaining. The song “Who Needs You” was good; the shenanigans after the song were great!  


     Twenty One Pilots were on Jimmy Kimmel last week. This will not be their first trip to the Live 105 Festival Stage.


     YelaWolf was on Jimmy Kimmel recently, but only the start of “Till It’s Gone” was shown. It had to be because of the lyrics (our opinion). The song is his best effort.  


     Waters performed “Got to My Head” on the April 1 show of Conan.


     We were able to see Cathedrals at the Treasure Island Festival in 2014. We enjoy their Synth Pop songs, but “Unbound” is easily our favorite song by this Bay Area duo.


     Misterwives – let’s hope she brings her sneakers on June 6.

     Sheppard performed “Geronimo” on The Today Show


    Death From Above 1979: "Trainwreck 1979" - David Letterman


     The Kooks performed “Bad Habit” on Jimmy Kimmel


     Meg Myers recently released "Sorry."

      We recently saw In the Valley Below at Rickshaw Stop. They showed more of a Rock presence than we expected. It was a positive move.


     From SXSW in 2015, here’s a performance of “California Nights” by Best Coast.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Quick Return to Iceland

     Two bands that were mentioned in the tribute to Icelandic music (CLICK HERE, if interested) have since released singles that we enjoy. Below are the songs and the band information from the earlier post.

     Mammút is based in Reykjavík. The band began under the name ROK, an all-female trio. But the name was changed to Mammút with the addition of two male members. The vocals are provided by Katrína Kata Mogensen, while the instruments are played by Vilborg Ása Dýradóttir (bass), Alexandra Baldursdóttir (guitar), Arnar Pétursson (guitar), and Andri Bjartur Jakobsson (drums).
     “Blood Burst” by Mammút

Website: http://www.mammutmusic.com/

          Going to the Dream Pop genre, Iceland has Vök, a trio comprising Andri Már, Margrét Rán, and Ólafur Alexander. “Waterfall” is a recent release.

Two Interactive Genre-Education Sites

     We want to thank the people at http://www.concerthotels.com/100-years-of-rock/ for permitting bloggers to easily link to the below interactive study results. Their hard work shows a perception of the flow of genres and their origins. Clicking on a particular genre designation triggers playing of a sample song.


Click image to see the full interactive music graphic(via Concert Hotels).



     If you’re not quite satisfied and aren’t fearful of being overwhelmed, head to http://everynoise.com/engenremap.html. We have mentioned the site before, but the capabilities have expanded. It is not possible to enter a band name into a “find artist” search field in order to discover the genre.
     But be prepared. Below is a capture of a portion of the webpage. Clicking on one of the genre designations triggers the playing of a sample song.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lyrical Repetition - Three Songs

     Indie Obsessive is not a fan of lyrical repetition. However, there are times when repetition of a statement is used effectively and other times when other features of a song divert our attention from the repetition.
     Calan Mai is releasing a debut EP on July 10, 2015. “Black Box” will reside on that EP, entitled “Days on the Rock Face.” Calan Mai is the performance moniker of Jordon Lawrence, who moved from Gold Coast, Australia for a new start in Manchester, UK.
     It’s fair to compare “Black Box” to a construction project. Elements are regularly added, until the project is complete. At the start, the foundation is built. An acoustic guitar and an electric twang are soon joined by the vocals. At about 1:00, shoegaze guitar takes a major role in defining the shape. Just after the three minute mark, the addition of elements turns to the vocals:
   1. Harmonization enters at 3:11;
   2. At 3:47, the backing vocals depart from following the lyrics of the lead; and
   3. At 4:26, vocal layering is used very effectively.

     “Black Box” by Calan Mai


     “Pale” by Little Death Machine is a song that would be easy for us to miss, because all too often we abandon listening to a song that doesn’t grab us in the first minute. Thankfully, we stayed with “Pale.” The guitar that enters at 1:18 is interesting. But it’s not until after the 2:40 mark that the song insists that it is blogworthy.
     The members of Little Death Machine are Daniel Cross, Jamie Kendall and Jamie Goff. The band is based in London.

     "Pale" by Little Death Machine


     The third entry is also based in the UK. VYNCE is a quartet in Merseyside. The members are Peter Pegasiou, Tom Davis, Ollie Foster and Alex Whittaker. The song “Not My Girlfriend” has a guitar with an approach similar to that of The 1975.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

“Rituals” by Other Lives – An Album “Preview”

     At least for now, Other Lives is allowing free downloads of a three-track album sampler. The sampler includes “Reconfiguration,” our favorite track from the recent album release, “Rituals.”
     Other Lives is a nomadic band, if you rely on their social media content. Their Facebook page identifies Stillwater, Oklahoma as the hometown, their Soundcloud page cites Los Angeles as the band’s base, and their website gives Portland as the city in which they have settled. We are confident in stating that the band started in Stillwater and is now based in Portland.
     The members of Other Lives are Jesse Tabish (piano, guitar, lead vocals), Jonathon Mooney (piano,violin, guitar, percussion, trumpet), and Josh Onstott (bass, keys, percussion, guitar, backing vocals).
     The embedded Noisetrade capability allows the three songs to be downloaded for the “price” of an email address (tips are appreciated). Because Soundlcloud allows previewing by jumping within the song, we also embedded the Soundcloud version of “Reconfiguration.” 



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

“Wildflower” by Lily of the Valley (LOTV)

     It seemed too good during the first listen. Thankfully, it wasn’t merely wishful thinking. “Wildflower” combines a number of features that draw us in and then hold our attention. Indie Obsessive has always enjoyed the sound of a choir in an Indie song. And we feel an alignment with the Folk Pop genre. We are partial to music from Iceland. “Wildflower” even has a touch of fellow Icelanders Of Monsters and Men, a band we look forward to seeing again.
     “Wildflower” will be on the upcoming debut album from Lily of the Valley (LOTV). The album (“Ghosts”) is scheduled for release in the fall of 2015. The six members of the Reykjavík-based band are Mímir (vocals, melodica), Tinna (vocals), Logi Marr (guitar, vocals), Hrafnkell Már Einarsson (guitar, vocals), Leó Ingi (bass) and Guðmundur Thor (percussion).

     “Wildflower”

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three for Free, Legal and Recommended (“FL&R”) – The May Version

      Free and Legal Downloads? Yes, at least temporarily. Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of new releases.  The end of an 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.
     Fort Frances is a Chicago-based band formed of David McMillin (guitar, vocals), Jeff Piper (bass, keys, backing vocals) and Aaron Kiser (drums). This bearded trio is offering “There Are the Mountains Moving” as a free download. If pressed to identify a feature we particularly enjoy, we would select the railroad crossing cadence that is heard at various times during the song. (If your browser doesn’t show a download “arrow icon,” try CLICKING HERE.”)


     From the San Francisco Bay Area (Oakland), Tumbleweed Wanderers bundle a number of genres into the song “Bad Blood.” The song fuses Soul with Rock and touches of Blues and Folk. The membrs of Tumbleweed Wanderers are Jeremy Lyon (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Rob Fidel (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica), Patrick Glynn (keys, mandolin), Daniel Blum (bass, percussion) and Greg Fleischut (bass).
     Tumbleweed Wanderers will be performing at The Independent in San Francisco on June 11, 2015. (If your browser doesn’t show a download “arrow icon,” try CLICKING HERE.”)

Website: http://tumbleweedwanderers.com/

     Seawaves is offering their song “Hands” as a free download. This is a Dreampop duo from Manchester, England. They are Si Van Brussel and Daniel Benjamin. (This is a "name your own price" download on Bandcamp.)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SEAWAVESmusic

     “I’m Listening” is offered by Morning Show of Vancouver (and Victoria), British Columbia. The three members are Ethan Caleb, Blair Hansen and Ryan Stephenson. ((If your browser doesn’t show a download “arrow icon,” try CLICKING HERE.”)


Website: http://www.morningshowmusic.com/

     I Am Karate is an interesting name for a band, but it is one that stands out when it is within a list of band names. Nicely done Erika Ahlström and Marta Pettersson. The Electro Pop duo is based in Stockholm, Sweden. They are offering “Bloom” as a free download.  
(If your browser doesn’t show a download “arrow icon,” try CLICKING HERE.”)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Broken Fires – A Band Review

      Broken Fires released their debut album, “Silhouettes,” and we are fans. There isn’t a weak link among the eleven songs, but of course we have our favorites. This band from Wales (Swansea) self-identifies the music as Folk Rock of “simple alternative Pop songs with big melodies.” Indie Obsessive clearly recognizes the Rock and Pop elements and is particularly fond of the “big melodies” component in the band’s sound. The Folk element is less apparent, although it surfaces in selected songs.
     Bands will sometimes talk about their difficulty in selecting the order of tracks on an album. In “Silhouettes,” strong arguments can be made for and against positioning “Flesh & Blood” after “Brick.Mortar.Stone.” Melodically, the two songs have much in common, which can lead a listener to wrongly conclude that the album lacks diversity. On the other hand, the individual tracks include transitions that show the flexibility of Broken Fires, so the melodic flow in positioning “Brick.Mortar.Stone” adjacent to “Flesh & Blood” will be appreciated after a listener becomes more familiar with the album.
     An unmistakable sign that an album is “solid” is when selecting a track to feature seems easy while listening to one candidate track, but changes when the next candidate starts. The first four songs of “Silhouettes” are deserving of a feature, as is “Vessels.” We picked “Brick.Mortar.Stone” only because it contains the greatest number of features we appreciate.
     “Brick.Mortar.Stone” is an anthem. The lyrics include “And he said ‘No, this is my home, every brick I have made my own.’”  The song starts unassumingly and finishes with force. There are a number of energy transitions, with our favorite starting at the 2:01 mark as a kick drum and a chant of what “he said” take us from a quiet statement to a shouted conviction.
    Broken Fires often uses seemingly anguished backing vocals. In “Brick.Mortar.Stone,” the first occurrence begins at 1:18. The anguish is again felt at 2:34, but within the lead vocals. It is very effective. Add the sounds of horns and strings, and the result is a song that will not lose its attractiveness after repeated plays.
     The core members of Broken Fires are Tom Stephens, Gareth Carter and Justin Hendy. The Facebook picture shows six individuals. We don’t know the names of the other three, but based on information from their Bandcamp uploads, contributors are Angharad Jenkins, Dai Francis, Chris Seacombe, Adam Terry and Sam Loring.

     “Brick.Mortar.Stone”

      “Flesh & Blood”

     “Out of the Woods”


Silhouettes” - Digipack CD
1. Elephants
2. Brick.Mortar.Stone
3. Flesh & Blood
4. Out of the Woods
5. Brand New Start
6. Broken Bones
7. Our House (cover - written by Graham Nash)
8. Charming
9. Vessels
10. Family Ties
11. This Place Is Dead Anyway


FLESH & BLOOD - Lyrics
by Broken Fires

Sometimes he can be strong,
Robust roadways of oxygen, there's strength within.
He should stand up tall.
Like the pillars of a hotel or a sequin dress in a formal hall.
He can hardly wait.
To get his teeth deep into you, or just talk a bit,
A deft seductive touch.
Or the clumsy hand of a working man,
Just enough to put you off.

What are we then?
But bone and skin.
What are we then? When the words come out but they make no sense?
Still we need some flesh and blood to hold.

He needs her in the dark,
Skin so soft it reverses days and it eases him.
Conceal that rush of blood.
Stay cold on the outside. Sweatless, calm an attractive act.
Her body near. Shadows and darkness cover him.
And from her mouth these words, just enough to put you off.

What are we then?
But bone and skin.
What are we then? When the words come out but they make no sense?
Still we need some flesh and blood to hold.

Friday, May 15, 2015

“Petrified Heart” by MT WARNING – A Song Review

     MT WARNING identifies its genre as “storytelling.” So, it isn’t surprising that in trying to get the backstory on the song “Petrified Heart,” and the EP to which it lends its title, we found the description:
     This is an invitation to come into the world of my new EP ‘Petrified Heart.’ It’s a letter, an apology, an affirmation and a commitment to LOVE. Yep. A note of remembrance and celebration of that dire human trait.”
     The song “Petrified Heart” was released in 2014, but only recently became available on Soundcloud.  
     “Petrified Heart” begins with vocals having a simple, but very effective, piano accompaniment. The simplicity is in contrast to the high level of stereo processing that comes into play later in the song. Often, we find the speaker-to-speaker interplay undesirable, because it is distracting and sometimes used manipulatively. In “Petrified Heart,” it works!


      MT WARNING is based in New South Wales, Australia. The name is taking from Mount Warning, which is said to be the first place that sunlight hits Australia each morning. the music is primarily Mikey Bee, but Taylor Steele provides the production.

     “Midnight Dawn” by MT WARNING

Thursday, May 14, 2015

“So Rewind” by Narrow Plains – A Song Review

     For us, “So Rewind” is similar to a specialty at a particular restaurant (or a specialty beer at a particular bar) that we repeatedly decide to tell others about, but it doesn’t happen. “So Rewind” has been on our list of blogworthy songs more than once. Well, we recently went to the Facebook page of Narrow Plains and saw that the banner announces that the song is the “new single from Narrow Plains.” We’re all about “new songs,” so it’s time to share. Finally!

     “So Rewind” is an acoustic blend of Folk and Rock presented by a trio from London. The song starts as a series of introductions. Initially, it’s the gentle play of an acoustic guitar and a bass guitar. The bass belongs to Roger Connick. After a short time, the voice of Charlie Ferriday enters, who we presume is also on the guitar. The percussion of Roger's brother, Stuart Connick, arrives to increase the song's energy level at 0:41. But the most attractive feature doesn’t surface until the song is in full force. It’s the cooperation among the voices of the three members that separates “So Rewind” from the pack. The attractiveness of the cooperation is most apparent starting at the 3:05 mark of the song.

     “So Rewind” by Narrow Plains


     “Running to Your Door” by Narrow Plains

Monday, May 11, 2015

Gang of Youths – A Band Review

      Gang of Youths is a Sydney-based band that may be affecting our appreciation for the music from the solo project by Brandon Flowers, the frontman of The Killers. We started paying attention to the Australian band just before Flowers began releasing songs, and while we are fans of those releases, we find ourselves gravitating away after a few listens. The qualities of Flowers’ vocals to which we are normally drawn are qualities that are at least matched by David Leaupepe of Gang of Youths – and we prefer the greater slant toward Rock in the songs from Gang of Youths.
      The core of Gang of Youths is David Leaupepe (lead vocals), Joji Malani (guitar), Jung Kim (guitar and keys) and Max Dunn (bass). When a drummer is identified, the name is Samuel O’Donnell. It’s a band that was formed from early friendships (which is likely the source of the band name). But there is a somberness to many of their songs, which reflects the emotional experiences as Leaupepe went through four years with a women having terminal cancer.

      “Evangelists” by Gang of Youths – this one is from 2014, but is probably the best introduction to the skills of the band.


     “Radioface” by Gang of Youths