Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Seafret – A Band Review

     Seafret takes a different approach than most bands we review. The UK duo keeps a low profile on Soundcloud. This decision limits their exposure on Hype Machine, which mines the posts of member blogs for songs of selected formats. Seafret has thoughtful, sensitive videos uploaded to Youtube. But blog posts that only include Youtube videos don’t extend to Hype Machine. Effectively, that’s the “rule.”
    Seafret plays by its own rules. More power to them! The UK duo makes its mark by regularly releasing quality music. Jack Sedman (vocals) and Harry Draper (guitar) are from Bridington, a coastal town of the North Sea. The band name has both a musical significance (a guitar fret board) and a personal significance (a “seafret” is the term for the rolling mists that enter from the North Sea during summer).

     We find the video for “Oceans” to be the most powerful in the video library of Seafret. Visually, the message is about bullying. Lyrically, the song is about a relationship – “It feels like there’s oceans between me and you once again; We hide our emotions under the surface and try to pretend.” 


     In describing their song “Be There,” Seafret states, "The track comes from a very personal place, about being there for the person that needs you most in life, no matter what - it's about making more than a promise."


     When we focus on the music by stripping away visual and lyrical messages, our favorite song by Seafret is certainly “Give Me Something.”


     The video for “Atlantis” is a sometimes uplifting and other times tragic.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

“Orphan Organism” by Body Thief – A Song Review

     With a recent post being dedicated to the Pop genre, this provides some balance. Body Thief self-identifies their genre as “Ambient Prog Rock.” The band is based in Washington, D.C. The five members are Dan Hawkins (vocals), Greg Chipkin (guitar), Walt Umana (bass), Austin Loman (guitar) and Sebastian Ramos (drums).
     “Orphan Organism” is a track on the recently released album entitled “Speak in Hibernation.” As compared to the Pop genre, the song permits a higher level of detachment of the guitar from the vocals, but there is nevertheless a cooperation between the vocalization and the instrumentation. The result is a layering that permits a listener to select between a focus on the guitars and a focus on the voices. If you elect the voices, you’ll find the lyrics pasted below. 

     “Orphan Organism” by Body Thief


Lyrics of “Orphan Organism”
Tell me exactly the times when I
Fought to keep myself
Balancing theories of constant composure now
With the urge of self reliance
I've finally found my purpose

This is not plagiarism
It's just my reminder to you
That I have not forgotten our vision
Or what we went through

Cooped up in past events
I never hear the end of it
But I hope the end comes soon
I never want the end to come

These themes are bringing up
The closure
Your next move is giving up
While I'm still waiting for my
wake up call

I'm still waiting
(Waiting for my wake up call)
I'm still waiting
Please wake me up

I've seen the words
At the tip of your lips, crawling
Back down your throat
And sinking into your ribs
It starts at conversation
And ends at God knows where
Not knowing
What the hell I saw in you
For hell is all I saw in you

Our futures
(repeat)

I must keep you in rhythm
For my own benefit
(repeat)

You've only brought destruction
Now I only see your perfection
(repeat)

While I'm still waiting for my
wake up call

I'm still waiting
(Waiting for my wake up call)
I'm still waiting
Please wake me up
I need my closure
Rose you haven't made up your mind at all

Monday, September 28, 2015

From the Mailbox of Indie Obsessive – The September Post

     Each week we consistently dig deep into the treasure trove of email submissions, read the stories of artists as they create and release new music, and listen to songs from around the world.  Truly we are grateful for the volume of submissions we receive, so please continue to send them along!  Since we are not able to post song or album reviews for each submission, we will start a series of posts to share noteworthy obsessive highlights from the Indie Obsessive mailbox.

Presented by Karen M.
     Pasted from the email submission to Indie Obsessive:
     Ethereal Irish folk pop duo Saint Sister present their debut EP “Madrid,” a haunting collision of glitchy electronics, heavenly harps and deeply personal lyrics – a combination the band refer to as “atmosfolk” – released via Trout Records on 13th November.
     Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre formed Saint Sister in 2014, and have already made TV appearances in their native Ireland, as well as supporting Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and San Fermin. The pair was drawn together after being unsatisfied with the limitations of performing as solo artists. Along with their complex, interweaving harmonies, Gemma’s electronic harp brings a uniquely traditional Celtic dynamic to the duo’s sound.
     The “Madrid” EP was recorded in a short, “intense” session at County Kerry’s Noise studio by Alex Ryan of Hozier, but not a second of it sounds rushed. The tracks on “Madrid” variously call to mind Feist, Patrick Wolf, Kathryn Williams, as well as the musicians Morgan calls “the great storytellers” – Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Saint Sister’s “atmosfolk” sound, described by the band as “a mix of soulful vocal harmonies, dreamy synth and electro-acoustic harp,” is entirely their own creation.
     You ask me if I’m happy – I’ve been wondering that too,” the pair sing on “Versions of Hate,” and while almost every line on “Madrid” is as eviscerating as this, Morgan insists that Saint Sister’s material isn’t entirely drawn from personal experience. “It’s not really feasible to rip apart my own life for a song the way I used to,” she explains. If nothing else, that suggests the dedication and devotion that Saint Sister put into their music. On the evidence of “Madrid,” that devotion is about to be very much returned.

    “Madrid” by Saint Sister


     Pasted from the email submission to Indie Obsessive:
     “Paranormal Activity” is the first single off Akiine’s forthcoming "Neptune" EP.  It’s a compassionate monologue by Akiine by minimal rhythm & bounce production:
Momma why I am so high all the time? Is there something in the milk giving nurture to the origin of my thinking?  Momma why am I so high on something so deceiving, giving nothing to the eye but still you feel it?  Like Paranormal Activity.” 
     Akiine’s “Neptune” EP drops Oct. 30th via Brooklyn Color Station.

     About Akiine:  Share a moment with Swedish Londoner Akiine and your inherent need to keep things literal will no longer exist.  “I feel like magic lives in me.  I feel like a little world in a bigger galaxy but with them all inside me like an inner outer space.  That’s what the expression feels like.  Like two forces.  Kind of like a supernova glowing and glowing ready to implode.”  It’s universal affection.  It’s the feeling you get from cutting an argument short with an embrace.  In this little world you’ll be rid of the heaviness of the ordinary.  There’s minimal pop production with beautiful layers and choruses weaved around mystic storytelling.  It’s Akiine’s voice but your imagination.  You’ve made it.
     
     “Paranormal Activity” by Akiine


     Pasted from the email submission to Indie Obsessive:
     This is Hazel's third song and all three have been stellar variations of dream pop. She's had nods from top UK ( DIY, Best Fit) and US sites ( Gorilla Vs Bear, Stereogum, Pigeons & Planes, Spin) in the run up to her debut EP.
     With her new single "Fix" songwriter Hazel English delivers on the early promise of the previously released "Never Going Home" and "It's Not Real". The Australian born artist moved to Oakland, CA and began to pen her debut collection of songs, an EP entitled “Never Going Home,” which will be released this Fall.

      "Fix" by Hazel English

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pop Heavy with No Apologies

     This post is the latest within a semi-regular series dedicated to the Pop genre. Two of the five songs are arguably a slightly better fit within another genre, but we’re comfortable with their qualifications for this post.

     Air Traffic Controller is a Boston band. The members are Dave Munro (vocals, guitar), Casey Sullivan (vocals, bass), Steve Scott (guitar), Jeremy Van Cleave (violin, percussion) and Richie Munro (drums). Dave and Richie are brothers.
     While there are a number of blogworthy Air Traffic Controller songs, “On the Wire” is our favorite. The track takes advantage of many of the band’s strengths. The female vocalization (Casey Sullivan) is featured, the percussion is more prominent than in most songs of Air Traffic Controller, and the guitars are well represented. “On the Wire” gained some exposure when used in an episode of MTV’s “Finding Carter.”
     “On the Wire” by Air Traffic Controller


     flor is a band that steers away from capitalization. Following their lead, the members are zach grace, dylan william, mckinley kitts and kyle hill. The band was originally from Hood River, Oregon, but relocated to Los Angeles.
     “Let Me In” by flor 


     The music of No Devotion resides within different genres, depending upon which of their songs is being played. They aren’t “all over the map,” but No Devotion covers a health portion of the genre map, ranging from Rock to Post-Punk and Shoegaze. “Permanent Sunshine” is Pop, at least for purposes of this post.
     No Devotion is formed of Geoff Rickly (lead vocals), Jamie Oliver (vocals, piano, keys), Lee Gaze (vocals), Mike Lewis (rhythm guitar) and Stuart Richardson (bass).
     “Permanent Sunshine”


     Shapes on Tape is Brooklyn-based. The members are Jason Matuskiewicz and Adam Kruckenberg.
     “Still Believe in Love” by Shapes on Tape – currently a free download.

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

     From London, Bare Traps offers the song “Inside.” According to their Facebook page, “Not deemed ‘hip’ enough to live in any of the cool parts of London, they were resigned to Harrow at the end of the Bakerloo line (you know, the shit coloured one?). Mikey, Luke, Scott and John were brought together through a mutual appreciation of tea and disco biscuits.
     “Inside” by Bare Traps

Saturday, September 26, 2015

“Mountains” by BamBoo – A Song Review

     Not long ago, we read an article that identified Toronto, Canada as one of the most prolific cities of Indie bands. We were skeptical. Since then, the skepticism has disappeared. Through a combination of not paying attention to the hometowns of some bands and not being exposed to the music of other bands, we didn’t appreciate the Indie contributions of Toronto.
     BamBoo is an example of a Toronto band that inexplicably did not pass through our radar screen. The song “Mountains” was released in 2014 – missed it. During most of the song, the drums are the main instrument, with periodic assists provided by single guitar strums. This instrumental arrangement is twice disrupted by controlled chaos that occurs after a shout of “Whatta ya say?!”
     And during most of the song, there is a lead vocalist who tells the story. But perhaps the most interesting feature of “Mountains” is the band vocalization, which is heard for the first time at 1:07. The band members of BamBoo are Nick Collet, Steve Benjamins, Marcus Retterath and Michael Schmidt.

     “Mountain” by BamBoo (The band is currently permitted free downloads - note the downward-pointing arrow in the Soundcloud stream.) 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Female Touches to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”

Reviewer: Karen M. 

     While streaming through a sea of music submissions late last night I stumbled upon Alice Michel covering Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”  I’m a sucker for most anything Eminem so I selected this link and discovered that Alice is a Parisian singer who, according to the email received, wanted to “highlight the amazing lyrics, get melodic with them but still keep the edge and the rawness of the song.  Also, I think it takes on a different meaning when sung by a woman.” 
     Prior to selecting this link I was contemplating enrolling in an American Zoetrope creative writing course, thinking about Wallace’s poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” and then watched Alice share her self-proclaimed raw version of “Lose Yourself.”  Barefoot in a wrap-dress, surrounded by bookcases stuffed with a variety of books, a pair of red sunglasses next to a framed family photo, architectural details a Paris apartment would seemingly promise, a seated eye-glassed man playing stark accompanying keyboard, I was entranced.  At 2:32 Alice looks straight at the camera saying, “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”  Thanks Alice for sharing your profound raw version in such an inspiring way.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AliceMichelSings
*************************

     Each year, the Austin City Limits Music Festival includes “signers” as an appreciation for attendees who are hearing impaired. In 2014, Shelby Mitchusson, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, submitted the audition video embedded below. She was given the job!   

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“Soak” by Cavalry – A Song Review

     Add Cavalry to the short list of bands to whom we make the offer, “If you’re too busy to meet the October 23 deadline for applying to attend SXSW 2016, we’ll do it for you.” We figure that our best chance to see this Liverpool band prior to the hopefully inevitable popularity explosion is to attend a performance in Austin, Texas next March.
     The previous releases by Cavalry were all blogworthy. We posted three songs in May 2015 (only “An Understanding” is still available on Soundcloud). The latest release, “Soak,” is better. “Soak” starts quietly. When the vocals enter, guitar strums are timed to provide emphasis. There is a beauty and a gentleness to the first half of the song, despite the lyrical message about a relationship. Then at 2:17, the kick drum signals a change. The tempo increases, the pronunciation of the lyrics becomes more consistently rhythmic, and the synchronization between the guitar and vocalization becomes less apparent. The two halves of “Soak” provide two equally powerful reasons to enjoy the song.

     The members of Cavalry are Steven Taylor (guitar), Gareth Dawson (drums), Alan Croft (lead vocals), Austin Logan (guitar) and Paul James Jones (bass). That’s right, they have a band member named Austin, the home of SXSW. Hey guys, the application form may be found at http://www.sxsw.com/music/festival/apply. Let us know if we can help!

     “Soak” by Cavalry – A Song Review. To purchase "Soak" through iTunes, go to https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/soak-single/id1044484167.

“The Follower” by The Plaidians – A Song Review

     “The Follower” combines elements borrowed from different 1990’s Seattle Grunge bands with elements that are foreign to Grunge. The band is The Plaidians, a name with a dominant syllable (plaid) consistent with the style of shirt of many Grunge bands. The start of “The Follower” uses an acoustic guitar and vocals that show both vulnerability and strength, similar to “Down in a Hole” by Alice in Chains and not too far from Nirvana and Pearl Jam approaches (particularly when the two bands made their high profile appearances in “unplugged” environments).
     On the other hand, “The Follower” has a low-frequency resonance at times. The didgeridoo-type resonance is first introduced at 1:03. The didgeridoo originated in Australia, the home of The Plaidians. While we suspect the instrument is not used to generate the low-frequency sound in “The Follower,” neither the instrument nor the sound is characteristic of any Grunge we can recall. Other Grunge departures include the heavy reliance on the cello and the clean electrical guitar that is best employed at the end of the song.

     The Plaidians are Melbourne-based Gary Thackrah (vocals, guitar) and Justin Penkethman (bass). “The Follower” is the first single from a debut album scheduled for release in February 2016.
     “The Follower” by The Plaidians

Album Review: Louise Aubrie “Late 44”

Reviewer: Evan Morgan (https://twitter.com/evanmorgan808)

     If you're looking for something edgy with a touch of Indie, a dollop of Punk, and a dash of throwback Rock, Louise Aubrie's style is a perfect melting pot for all of those ingredients, bringing that blend to a sonic boil on her new album “Late 44.”
     As the album opener, “Masterstroke” is just that. The instrumentation is up-tempo and has a distinct groove permeating the arrangement. It’s got a Classic Rock feel with an abundance of attitude -- the only downside early on is that, at times, Aubrie's vocals tend to get drowned out by the thick wall of sound, but, overall, a solid opener.
     “Tearjerker” has a good level of distortion -- heavy enough to add grit, but airy enough to not weigh the track down. There's a quirkiness about it that's incredibly catchy, lending a sing-along quality to the track.
     Ultimately, Aubrie successfully captures the Classic sound for the modern era on “Late 44.” Whether you're looking for a modern twist down memory lane or you just want a record that you can put on and rock out to without going full-throttle, face to the floor, “Late 44” fulfills both functions, and does so with a moxie that's memorable.

     “Masterstroke” by Louise Aubrie

     “Tearjerker” by Louise Aubrie

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

“Gone” by Ofelia K. – A Song Review

     “Gone” begins with breathy vocals and minimalistic piano. At the 0:51 mark, electronically generated percussion jumps in. If someone were to ask us to listen to a song with that description, we might turn and get a cup of coffee. But Ofelia K.’s “Gone” is an execution that shows the flaws in having a bias away from such a format and toward the coffee dispenser.
     And “Gone” gets better. At 2:09, the song becomes more melodic and gentler on the listener’s ears. “Gone” is an exception to our bias and is exceptional in its mixing and delivery. 
     Ofelia K. is based in Los Angeles, California. According to an email invitation to review her work:
     "My producer/co-writer Dr Rosen Rosen played me a track he was messing around with that had a beautiful organ falling slightly in and out of tune. I was really obsessed with it and we began building 'Gone' around that part. I love the sadness of the subject matter, mixed with the optimism of the instrumentation."

     “Gone” by Ofelia K.

Last Day of Summer – Related Songs

     Tomorrow is the September equinox. That means today is the last day of summer. Here are some season-appropriate songs.

      Wylder is an Indie Folk band from Fredericksburg, Virginia/Washington DC. The members are Will McCarry (vocals, guitar), Lonnie Southall (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Russell Michelson (piano, vocals) and Lavar Edmonds (violin, cello). Their single “Sunstroke” takes advantage of the many band members who are able to contribute vocally. The strings have a positive influence on the overall feel of “Sunstroke.”


     Summer Heart is from Malmö, Sweden, which was mentioned only a couple of days ago, while introducing YAST. There are a number of deserving choices in the selection of a song to post. But the summery feel and the message in “Nothing Can Stop Us Now” make it the most deserving candidate. Summer Heart is the performance name of multi-instrumentalist David Alexander.


     Summer Moon is formed of four members from three bands. The band members are Nikolai Fraiture (Strokes), Tennessee Thomas (Like), Erika Spring and Lewis Lazar (both from Au Revoir Simone). We are fans of the song “With You Tonight.”

Review: Qualia “Triptych” EP

Reviewer: Evan Morgan (https://twitter.com/evanmorgan808)

     As the solo project of Michael Hazani, Qualia is a sensory overload of melodic madness in the best way. With lush atmospherics, depth of arrangement, and an infectious, up-beat style, this is an essential EP for any Indie Rock enthusiast.
      As the opening track, “Presque Vu” is reminiscent of Super Mario meets Matt Nathanson as a fast-paced tempo collides with melodic intensity to create a catchy opener that will get your attention right out of the gate.
      “Guilotine” is considerably more stripped-down. A simple drum beat and backing melodies lay the foundation for Hazani to tell his story. There's a fire in this track that has a slow-burn effect, building up in parts and then coming back down, but always keeping a level of intensity as its base.
      “Tell Me A Story” is definitely the most radio ready of the three tracks. A groove-laden bass line and Pop-infused melodies kick off this track before the down-tempo melodics kick in. The two tempos play off of one another to create a well-rounded track that's a runaway favorite for best on the EP.
      Overall, the only real downside to “Triptych” is that it only has three tracks. The EP will easily leave listeners wanting more, and, as both an artist and a listener, what more could one ask for?

      “Presque Vu”

     “Guilotine”

     “Tell Me A Story”

Monday, September 21, 2015

“Mont Blanc” by Quiet Hollers – A Song Review

     And then the bomb.” Quiet Hollers released a song about post-apocalyptic thoughts. "I used to worry about what clothes I had on, the school recitals and the manicured lawn.” I had a laundry list of people I could count on, if it all went wrong; “and then the bomb.” The song is named for the expensive pen, “Mont Blanc,” he used before his life was changed.
     Shed a tear for the books I shoulda read.” In a protected time, this sentence would be interpreted as a regret for not having read the classics. But after the bomb, it’s a statement about the lack of preparation for what occurred, “And I’d seen all the warning signs on the TV and in The Times; but I had you to hold at night, and so it took me by surprise.” I’ll try to learn and keep us fed.
     The trophy for the most poignant instrument in “Mont Blanc” clearly belongs to the strings. The most poignant thought is “And if the bastards ever come, promise me you’ll take the kids and run; I may be weak and I may be frail, but I can throw them off your trail.”

      Quiet Hollers will release a self-titled album on October 23.
     The band is based in Louisville, Kentucky and is formed of Shadwick Wilde (vocals, guitar), Nick Goldring (drums), Aaron West (strings, guitar), Ryan Scott (keys, bass) and Jim Bob Brown (keys, backing vocals). At times Sarah Wilde contributes to the vocals. 
      “Mont Blanc” by Quiet Hollers

Three for Free, Legal and Recommended (“FL&R”) – The September 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.
   Finding songs that can be legally downloaded is easy. The difficult task is to find music that we recommend. The below music covers a wide area of the genre map, but the common characteristic is that each song has “The Indie Obsessive Stamp of Approval” (if interested, a genre map is described at http://indieobsessive.blogspot.com/2015/05/two-interactive-genre-education-sites.html).

     Some songs are surprising even after numerous listens. For us, “Together Forever” is one such song. We liked the track by YAST after the initial listens. In fact, we liked the song enough to put it on a playlist of about 15 tracks. While using that playlist as background, there was a sudden recognition of the attractiveness of the song in general and the brilliance that occurs at the 2:18 mark. It’s at that time that the lo-fi guitar and vocals step aside for a cleaner guitar sound. The distortion does return with a force about 30 seconds later, and the contrast only adds to the attractiveness of the song.
     YAST is an acronym for "Youth and Student Travel." The band is based in Malmo, Sweden. The members are Carl Kolbaek-Jensen, Tobias Widman, Marcus Norberg, Markus Johansson and Niklas Wennerstrand.
     "Together Forever" by YAST

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

     If you enjoy the guitar of Robert Smith (The Cure), “Something Awful” by Grave Babies will interest you. The song is a track from the Seattle-based band’s recently released album “Holographic Violence.” The members are Danny Wahlfeldt (guitar and lead vocals), Claire Haranda (keys), Bryce Brown (bass) and Mark Gajadha (drums).
     “Something Awful” by Grave Babies (If your browser doesn't show the download arrow, CLICK HERE.)


     Staying on the West Coast, Atomic Tom is a Los Angeles band that released an album on September 4. The album, “ERA,” is available on a “name your price” basis at Bandcamp - http://atomictom.bandcamp.com/album/era. It is an album that easily justifies leaving a “tip.” It was difficult to select a single to embed in this post. The song “1978” was nearly selected, since we enjoy the early energy build. But we went with “Now or Never.”
     “Now or Never" by Atomic Tom



     Bad Pony is offering “Michael Moore.” The band is from Sydney, Australia, and is formed of Sam Thomlinson, Jarred Young, Isaac Chamberlain, Mark Webber and Cron Van Niekerk. They are scheduled to release an EP entitled “Limbo,” on October 1.
     “Michael Moore" by Bad Pony



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rodrigo y Gabriela at Mountain Winery - A Concert Report

     Rodrigo y Gabriela made two appearances in the San Francisco Bay Area this week. The first was at the rejuvenated Masonic Center and the second was almost 50 miles to the south. We attended the second evening - at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.
     The performance was exceptional, as expected. On the other hand, the lengthy but interesting discussions about the history of the duo came as a surprise. It isn’t uncommon for a band to provide a quick description about a particular song prior to launching into the track. At the Mountain Winery, Gabriela and Rodrigo each took a turn talking to the audience while the other one either left the stage or sat quietly and listened (quietly until Gabriela laughingly explained that Rodrigo likes to talk).
We found out that the two tried for success in Mexico, often playing at the beaches. After some frustration, they moved to Dublin, Ireland, and started as street performers on Grafton Street. The success did arrive and they now tour internationally with their combination of Metal, Flamenco and Rock. 
     Hey, Rodrigo sings; and he has a good voice. His solo cover of Radiohead’s "Creep" was well received. We didn't record "Creep," but below is a video we captured that is more representative of the style and skills of Rodrigo y Gabriela (sorry, no thumbnail appeared).


****************************
     Heather Maloney opened for Rodrigo y Gabriela. It isn’t an easy task for a solo performer to engage with an audience that is filtering in. But Heather Maloney accomplished the task. Her voice is simultaneously sweet and powerful. Embedded in this post are some pictures from the evening to Mountain Winery and a video from a visit she made to Audiotree in August 2014. Maloney is a songwriter, but the video is a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”