Wednesday, August 31, 2016

“Vancouver Waves” by August and After

     It seems appropriate to feature the trio August and After on the last day of the month that is part of their name. The selection of the song “Vancouver Waves” was an easy one. Yes, the viola adds texture and beauty, but that’s equally true of many of the tracks from August and After. Similarly, the harmonies are striking, as with other songs by August and After.
     It’s the vocal layering that distinguishes “Vancouver Waves" from other songs of the trio and from most music recommended by Indie Obsessive. The arrangement of the vocal layering is sophisticated and the execution is elegant. It begins 55 seconds into the song, when the lead voice begins the second stanza. A second male voice joins, but with the first three lines of the first stanza, similar to a musical round. The second voice doesn't complete the first stanza, instead getting to and repeating the third line, after which a female voice joins in harmony with the lead to complete the second stanza. That description doesn't include subtleties of the vocal layering. Clearly, significant thought went into the arrangement.  

     August and After is the London trio of Ned Mortimer (vocals, guitar, piano), Vedantha Kumar (vocals, guitar), and Jordan Bergmans (viola, vocals). The Bandcamp page for “Vancouver Waves” also identifies Jonathan LefĂ©vre-Reich (bass, percussion) and Dan Day (percussion) as contributors.
   “Vancouver Waves” - August and After is generously allowing free downloads.

     Lyrics of “Vancouver Waves” by August and After
You are the calmest wave
That I've ever known
You are the calmest wave
When you stop coming into shore
Nobody knows but I'll be on way

My mood moves like the tide
A storm that builds inside of me
And if you ever vanish off the map
Nobody knows but I'll be on my way

Hibernate ‘til I'm on form again
The world can wait another year
Hibernate ‘til I'm OK again
The tidal waves can't follow me here

So I came here to the island
I braved the stormy seas
The air is clean and it's silent
Far from such tragedies
The sun sets better than a painting
It calms my eyes with ease
But it's the saddest sky that I've ever seen

Hibernate ‘til I'm on form again
The world can wait another year
Hibernate ‘til I'm OK again
The tidal waves can't follow

You are the calmest wave
That I've ever known
You are the calmest wave
When you stop coming into shore
Nobody knows but I was on way

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Noisetrade Tuesday – Communist Daughter

     This week’s Noisetrade recommendation is a three-track offer by Communist Daughter. The songs are from the album “Soundtrack to the End.” Their sophomore album is due to drop on October 21, 2016.

  “Speed of Sound” by Communist Daughter

      The bio at the website of Communist Daughter provides insight into the music on their first album:
  A few years ago Johnny Solomon was a fixture in the tight knit Twin Cities music scene, forming the angular indie pop band Friends Like These and touring extensively, he received critical praise from far flung sources that looked like the beginning of a promising career.  The rising success masked his struggle with addiction and mental health problems, and quickly eclipsed his career, landing him in jail and treatment facilities across the country.  By the end of that whirlwind he had retreated to a small town across the border in Wisconsin where he assumed his music days were over. 
  But when he moved out of the city his demons followed him and he spent his nights writing and recording what he thought would be his eulogy, songs about lost love and lost chances, He recruited some friends to come out and put it all to tape. Calling his new band Communist Daughter, they released their debut album “Soundtrack to the End” in 2010.  As they gained national attention Johnny put all of it on hold and checked himself in to rehab one more time.
  In 2012 Communist Daughter returned with a clear eyed John, including his now wife Molly Solomon, bassist Adam Switlick, Steven Yasgar on Drums, Al Weirs on guitar and Dillon Marchus on keys.  They put out an EP “Lions & Lambs” and began touring the country again and gaining national attention.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Iceland Has Its Volcanos and New Zealand Uses Caves

     Icelandic bands are occasionally given the opportunity to perform within a volcano. At the bottom of this post is Kaleo performing “Way Down We Go” within the caverns of Thrihnukagigur ("Three Peaks Crater"). Well, New Zealand takes advantage of its limestone caves. Vallkyrie performed “Steel Heart” during a “Cave Session.” 

     The email submission regarding Vallkyrie reads:
  Vallkyrie fuse together sounds that influence Rock, RnB and Hip Hop to create something bold and exciting to say the least. If Imagine Dragons, Rihanna and Enigma had a soul child, it would be Vallkyrie.
  Vallkyrie consists of Omer Gilroy (vocals), Rebel Reid (guitar, keys) and Brandon Haru (Percussion, Keys). Together they hit the stage with a theatrical and explosive live set, which has already won them 3rd place (amongst 149 entries) for “Battle of the Bands”

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ambient, Ethereal, Churchy and Atmospheric

     Vancouver Sleep Clinic released an animated video for a song we hadn’t previously heard. Listening to “Lung” was a reminder of the beauty of the genre and vocalization style. Many designations have been attached to the approach, including ambient, ethereal, churchy, and atmospheric. Regardless, there are times when the genre/style is ideal.
     Vancouver Sleep Clinic is Tim Bettinson, a 19-year old from Brisbane, Australia. 

     From London, the sound is generated by Hanging Valleys, which is Thom Byles (singer/songwriter), Mike Philips (guitar, vocals), and Alexis Meridol (beats, sampler).
  “Endless Wave” by Hanging Valleys


     A third song and a third continent - Sault Ste Marie is based in Southern California. 
  “The House of Winshire”

Friday, August 26, 2016

“Heavenly Bodies” by Midnight Faces – An Album Review

     Today, the top shoegaze album of 2016 dropped. Yes, we know it’s only August. But from a top-to-bottom perspective, the nine-track album from Midnight Faces will not be surpassed. Midnight Faces is a trio in Los Angeles. 
     Typically, when we find it difficult to pick three songs to post from an album, the difficulty is based on finding three songs that are likely to attract first-time listeners of the music. For the “Heavenly Bodies” album, the difficultly is deciding which six songs not to include. We decided to embed four songs.
     The album leads with “Blue Haze.” It is the best wall-of-sound single of the nine songs. If you’re a fan of guitars and the genre, “Blue Haze” belongs in your library.

     Proving that Midnight Faces has flexibility, the second song is “Party Donna,” with its up-tempo drive. “Party Donna" is less shoegaze and more electronic than the lead track, particularly with respect to the percussion. If there’s a song that can make a treadmill enjoyable, this is it!

     Next on the album is “Sirens,” which is similarly up-tempo, but less aggressive. It travels well before an attraction factor explodes at 3:30 - the saxophone makes its first appearance. The saxophone has a 1980s feel that is supported by quick-twitch guitar.  

     Strong arguments are available to assert that “Germanium” will receive the most acclaim. The cooperation between the vocals and guitar brings to mind the best material from War on Drugs (and Roadkill Ghost Choir). Again, Midnight Faces saves the saxophone for the final portion of the song, providing an attention refresh.

     “Space Boy” has an abrupt but seamless transition at the 2:27 mark. Well executed guys!
    “Feeling Like a Stranger” is perhaps the best use of the saxophone on the “Heavenly Bodies” album.
    “Love Is All Around” is less than two minutes in length, but includes a crescendo and decrescendo sandwiching an almost gentle wall-of-sound.  
     “Heavenly Bodies” is the third album from Midnight Faces. The band is formed of Matthew Doty (guitar/bass/synth), Phil Stancil (vocals/guitar/bass), and Paul Doyle (drums). Other contributions to the album are:
  Recorded by Aaron Espinoza at The Ship Los Angeles, CA
  Mixed by Abe Seiferth at Transmitter Park Studio Brooklyn, NY
  Mastered by Heba Kadry at Timeless Mastering Brooklyn, NY  

Social media and sites for purchasing the album: 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Folks We Oughta Know – The August Version II

     This month has been a particularly strong one for the discovery of music sitting in the Folk genre. So, having two “Folks We Oughta Know” is warranted.
     Louis Berry is a singer/songwriter from Liverpool. “Restless” is an up-tempo gem with attractive vocals and guitars that approach from a variety of directions. The acoustic guitar at the start is Folk, even though it’s accompanied by the background wane of an electric guitar. An electric guitar goes a little Country for a short time (1:25), but shows a Rock preference at other times (particularly the last 30 seconds). 
 "Restless" by Louis Berry

     Jasmine Rodgers is a Londoner who was introduced to Indie Obsessive in May. “Underwater” took over as our favorite song from Rodgers. The cello (by Danny Keane) and the addition of a male voice (Scott Matthews) enhance the emotional aura of “Underwater.”
Quoting the informative email submission for the song:
  About Jasmine Rodgers
Born into an artistic family – her mother a Japanese poet, her father the legendary vocalist Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company, Queen) – Jasmine Rodgers knew her way around both keyboard and fretboard before she even enrolled at secondary school. But given her love for art and zoology (in which she has a degree), music was initially a passionate pastime rather than a full-time pursuit. This changed when her older brother Steve, on hearing the ethereal beauty of Jasmine’s voice, asked her to sing with him and they formed the group Boa.

     Stepping over to Germany, The Unknown Neighbour is the performance name of Sascha Zemke. 
     "You and Me" by The Unknown Neighbour

     “Out In the Dark” is from Melbourne, Australia. Alexander Biggs has been gaining traction in the blogosphere. The attention is well deserved.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Flag-Related Recommendations – Joseph, The Moth & the Flame, and Karla Chubb

     This post steadily gained weight. It began as a simple lament – Joseph will soon be visiting San Francisco, but on the same night as Highasakite. The plan was to embed “White Flag” into the post. But while considering what to write, “Red Flag” by The Moth & the Flame hit the speakers, coincidentally. So, we added a third song with “flag” in the post.
      Joseph are three sisters - Natalie, Allison, and Meegan Closner. They hail from Portland, Oregon, but will be at Slim’s in San Francisco on September 16 (the same night Highasakite will visit Rickshaw Stop). For the full tour schedule and ticket information CLICK HERE.
    “White Flag” by Joseph – the Soundcloud stream and a video of their appearance on Jimmy Fallon.

     The Moth & The Flame originated in Provo, Utah, but they claim Los Angeles as their current location. The members are Brandon Robbins (guitar, vocals), Mark Garbett (keys, vocals), Andrew Tolman (drums) and Michael Goldman (bass).
     “Red Flag”

     Karla Chubb could have been included in the recent “Dublin Invasion” post. Her song “White Flag” has been available for more than a year, but we dropped the ball. The song is characterized by strong vocals and a sequence of acoustic instruments (guitar to mandolin to banjo).
“White Flag” by Karla Chubb – the song is still offered for free download

Lyrics of “White Flag” by Karla Chubb
Nod your head and shrug your shoulders,
Drum your fingers, tap your feet,
Cos all the things that I just told ya,
Don't seem to be translating,

And yes, okay, maybe,
I guess that's not good enough
And yes, okay, maybe,
I guess that's not good enough
I guess that's not

I guess the chemicals just sunk in,
And now are starting to react,
Because what we both thought was something,
Was just something we both lacked,

And yes, okay, maybe,
I guess that's not good enough
And yes, okay, maybe,
I guess that's not good enough

I guess it's not good enough,
I guess that's not good enough,
I guess you're not good enough,
I guess you're not good enough,
I guess you're not.
I guess you're not.

And if fighting's what you came for,
Well then let me draw my gun,
Because I won't let me take the blame for,
Something that I've never done.

And yes, okay, maybe,
I guess that's not good enough
And yes, okay, maybe,
I guess that's not good enough

I could win this, but I don't care at all,
So take this White Flag and consider me gone,
I'm gone.

And yes, okay, maybe,
I guess that's not good enough
And yes, okay, maybe,
I guess that's not good enough

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Kendricks – A Band Review

      The Kendricks soulfully blend Rock instrumentation with smooth Folk-style harmonization to generate music that is continuously attractive and, at times, stunning. Their music can be stunning in the sense that it has the power to stop an otherwise busy listener long enough to appreciate the purity of the harmonization. As one example, at the 2:10 mark of “Riverrun,” we place other activities on hold during the verse that starts with the question, “Can you feel the summer end?” 
     The Kendricks have unleashed two EPs. “Farewell” dropped in July 2015, and “Fire at Sea” was released in April 2016. Both are recommended. Our favorite song ("Riverrun”) from the band is on the first EP, but the second shows a step forward in musical sophistication.

     For most of “Riverrun,” the instrumental support includes cooperation of two Classic Rock (jangly) guitars. Periodically, single notes are played in a manner that foreshadows change. The change occurs in two steps. Around 3:30, the guitar energy is increased noticeably. About a minute later, elements of shoegaze take some control.

     “The Claim” is on the 2016 EP, “Fire at Sea.” During its start, the backing vocalization reminds us of Lord Huron. But the song has its own personality.

     The Kendricks are based in Los Angeles. The members are Richie Carvill (guitar, backing vocals), Lee de Arakal (drums), Kevin Hinman (guitar), Luke Richmond (lead vocals), and Steve Gregoire (bass, backing vocals). August Larson joins the band for live shows.

     The official video for “Threshing Time”

Lyrics of “Riverrun” by The Kendricks
Lying where a river runs
Bathing in the warmth of the sun
Still I see the rising moon
Saying rise for home oh too soon

How can you go, when you know there’s something here with me?
How can you say, you don’t know where you’re going to but you’re going anyway?

Somewhere there cities rise
Somewhere here something smaller dies
It isn’t that I cannot move
Just that I could never quite like you

Dear, can’t you hear?
Do these words reach your ears?
Love, we’re not above
This world
Just one more small part of

Can you feel the summer end?
Do you think your heart is on the mend?
For nothing ever goes, but comes again in time,
The winter may return, but will it turn you mind?
Oh no, no, no

Dear, can’t you hear?
Do these words reach your ears?
Love, we’re not above
This world
Just one more small part of

Don’t keep me running, don’t keep me searching
Don’t keep me waiting, hoping you’re returning
Don’t leave me here, don’t leave me alone

Or if you go
Running to the sea
Please carry down this faded memory
And wash it clean

Dear, can’t you hear?
Do these words reach your ears?

Lyrics of “The Claim” by The Kendricks
I was just a wonderer insane
Dredging along the bottoms of the rivers and the lakes
Trying to find a place to stake my claim
Striking poor while others found their fame

I was just adrift amongst the bones
Sinking with the ashes of my wasted friends alone
Trying to put my feet on something strong
Taking one last try till I touch that steady stone

And I run the longest race
And I call your name
And I climb the highest way
And I call your name

I’ve run out of games, I’ve run out of lies to tell
Waiting for the moment when someone rings the closing bell
Ending up blue wrapped up inside a shell
Taking to the road, nothing but nothing but myself to sell

And I run the longest race
And I call your name
And I climb the highest way
And I call your name

I was just a blaze, I was just a wrecking ball
Living like a slave pounding on these prison walls
Windows in time, take me to, take me, take me to the one I love
I’m so tired of searching, standing, shivering alone in the cold and rain

And I run the longest race
And I call your name
And I climb the highest way
And I call your name