Thursday, May 25, 2017

“Throw It Down” by Winchester – A Song review

     Winchester threw down a contender for “The Summer Hit of 2017.” A strong candidate requires a balance between easily grasped Pop sensitives and a sophisticated underlayer that provides needed staying power. For Winchester’s “Throw It Down,” if the balance isn’t right, it’s because the level of sophistication is too high – which is a positive from our perspective.

      “Throw It Down” takes a cinematic approach during its intro. The intro would fit well within an updated 2001 Space Odyssey. Soon, the percussion takes the listener in a Pop direction. But the best features of the song are still waiting. The combination of male/female vocals is consistently attractive, but the vocals turn into an attention-grabber with the harmonization of “like it’s a sign from above” at the 1:55 mark. And the combination of higher frequency synth warble with chest-rumbling low frequency vibrations after each of the three stops (1:18, 2:10 and 3:03) is skillfully executed, mixed (Shayn Hotton) and mastered (Shawn Hatfield).

     “Throw It Down” was mastered at AudibleOddities, which seems fitting for a song ending with a guitar that sounds simultaneously masterful and out of tune.

     Winchester is Lauren Austin (vocals) and Montgomery de Luna (guitar, keys, vocals) in Toronto, Ontario. “Throw It Down” will be on their upcoming EP, “If Time is Not Linear Why Can’t I Forget the Past?”. 

Lyrics of “Throw It Down” by
You could tell by my confusion and my honest surprise
But through the truth that you’re abusing, you can only hear lies
We’ve got to hold on, we’ve got to hold on, Hold on

From all the tilted connotations and the facts that I wrote
And all the manic explanations you can only denote
We’ve got to go on go on go on

And with the vacant iterations and the pride that you stole
Comes the latent condemnation of your informative holes
And then it’s all gone and then it’s all gone, All gone

You only see what can support the reckless thoughts in your head
When you’ve already made your mind up, it’s your mind you’ve misled
And then it’s all gone and then it’s all gone, All gone

All gone.

The stolid choice of your demeanour is a mar to my skin
And all that I had once believed in starts to be worn so thin
And then it’s all gone and then it’s all gone, All gone

But it’s not my engineering when I talk about love
Yet you commune with your conclusions like it’s a sign from above
As if that would be good enough…

And if you didn’t know it then, then you should know it by now
But when you haven’t learned yet somehow,
You have to throw it all down.

And then you condescend to screaming at the top of your lungs
And it drives you up the wall when I won’t take off the gloves
Because it’s all gone and then it’s all gone, All gone

The faults I see through your allusions are too great to be true
And I can see that your conclusions shape your whole point of view
And then it’s all wrong then it’s all wrong, all wrong.

And if you didn’t know it then, then you should know it by now
But when you haven’t learned yet somehow,
You have to throw it all down.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“Shake the Room” by ARLO – A Song Review

     This is not your father’s Arlo. The percussion-driven “Shake the Room” is not from the same musical generation as the Folk gems of Arlo Guthrie, such as “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”

     This ARLO is an on-the-rise UK singer/songwriter. He is a graduate of Goldsmiths University (London) and now resides in Hackney, after a two-year stint in Harlem. Based upon the small sampling size of two singles, ARLO’s signature sound includes accentuated percussion, synth-generated bubble popping (illusion of popping bubbles), skillful lyricism, and strong vocals.

     Lyrically, “Shake the Room” is directed to self-reliance and maintaining confidence. Structurally, the song is a frequently evolving Pop anthem. In the final 60 seconds of “Shake the Room,” the track evolves through the chorus, a percussion solo, ARLO with percussion-free vocals, and a return to the chorus.

     “Shake the Room” by ARLO 

     Quoting informational material regrading ARLO:
  In the man’s own words : “’Shake The Room’ is about losing confidence in yourself, not trusting your gut and allowing others to control your future." In pure defiance, he sings "I don't need your reverence, I don't need your approval” – constantly striving to be the individual that he was always destined to be.
  A songwriter and vocalist who cites influences from current pop giants Adele and Kanye West to 80’s pop heroes Terence Trent D’Arby and Tears For Fears, ARLO displays a natural knack for story-telling with a wise head on his young shoulders, his narrative is delivered by his distinctive vocal all wrapped up in uplifting pop rhythms and triumphant percussion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

“Conversation” by Between Giants – A Song Review

     Sandwiched between an unhurried, calming piano hook that is both the intro and the outro, is a multi-dimensional, split personality track from Tyler John of Orlando, Florida. The most prominent dimensions are aligned with the personalities. At times, “Conversation” is melodic and the lyrics may be troubling, but there is a peace in the awareness that further exploration is not healthy: I found peace in a mind where I was doubted… And I don’t want to see inside the darkest corners of my mind.”

     While this first personality of the “Conversation” has a troubling peace, the second is undeniably troubled. A Rap rhythm accurately captures the inner turmoil reflected in the lyrics. But with all well-crafted lyrics, there is room for different interpretations. Do the two sides take turns surfacing, as in the song? Or has the inner turmoil been left behind after the resolution to stop looking further? This second interpretation is best supported by the transition that occurs at 2:47. The Rap conclusion is that it’s time to find a peace. A wake-up bell can be heard within the mix. Then, the transition to the more soothing approach is followed by references to finding love and finding peace.

     “Conversation” has similarities to Twenty One Pilots, but is lyrically more contemplative. Interestingly, Between Giants is the project of Tyler John, while Tyler Joseph is the frontman of Twenty One Pilots.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Free Download of Bonnaroo Sampler – 2017

     Each year, the Bonnaroo promoters offer a limited-time download of songs by performers scheduled to attend the upcoming festival. The offer is through Noisetrade. The end of the free download roughly coincides with the start of the festival. This year, the four-day event occurs on June 8-11. As always, it is in Manchester, Tennessee. For  more information, go to

    The 2017 offer includes 44 songs across a range of genres. The entire list is included below. Some songs were featured in past posts of Indie Obsessive, so we’ll embed “Elodie” by Ten Fe. 

Songs available from the sampler:
1. Big Gigantic - The Little Things (Featuring Angela McCluskey)
2. Bad Suns - Daft Pretty Boys
3. River Whyless - Kalangala
4. Joseph - White Flag
5. Aaron Lee Tasjan - Little Movies
6. White Reaper - Judy French
7. Rainbow Kitten Surprise - Cocaine Jesus
8. Hippo Campus - WesternKids
9. Umphrey's McGee - Bad Friday
10. Mandolin Orange - Wildfire
11. July Talk - Picturing Love
12. Khruangbin - People Everywhere (Still Alive)
13. Walker Lukens - Where Is Thunder Road
14. Wilderado - Morning Light
15. Zipper Club - Breath
16. NJOMZA - Sad For You
17. ILLENIUM - Fortress (featuring Joni Fatora)
18. Eliot Lipp - Reflection
19. Ethan Gruska - Me Who Wasn't Trying
20. Goldfish - Deep Of The Night
21. Flint Eastwood - Push featuring Tunde Olaniran
22. Stick Figure - Fire On The Horizon
23. Barclay Crenshaw-The Gene Sequence
24. Borgore featuring Nick Colletti - Shrimp Creature
25. NGHTMRE And GHASTLY - End of the Night
26. Herobust - Vertebreaker
27. REZZ x Raitio - Alien
28. Crystal Castles - Char
29. Getter - Inhalant Abuse
30. BADBADNOTGOOD - Speaking Gently
31. Jack Harlow - Hitchcock
32. DRAM - Gilligan (featuring A$AP Rocky And Juicy J)
33. Claude VonStroke - Barrump
34. Malcolm London - House Party
35. Turkuaz - The Generator
36. Waker - Wake Me Up
37. BIG JESUS - Lock and Key
38. Baskery - Cheerless Leaders
39. Springtime Carnivore - Face in the Moon
40. Goody Grace - April
41. Ten Fe - Elodie
42. Twiddle - When it Rains It Pours
43. G Jones - Helix
44. Sweet Crude - Mon Espirit

“(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” by Matthew Ryan – A Song Review

     The start of “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” contains the gravelly voiced woe of a Tom Waits song. The bass line governs the instrumental accompaniment for the lyrics, “Everything sucks… God, I’m a wreck.”  By the end, the tone becomes supportive, although still far from high spirited – “Don't die, don't disappear; I swear to God we need ya here.” Reflecting the uptick in tone, a higher frequency guitar riff drives the finish.

     The lyrics of the song are included in this post. When placed in the light of last week’s death of Chris Cornell, they take on a greater significance.

     A comparison to Tom Waits is appropriate, but the influence of Gaslight Anthem is more apparent. The frontman of Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon, contributed backing vocals and guitar. Fallon also produced the album that includes “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator.” The ten-track album, “Hustle Up Starlings,” was released on May 12.

      According to the SubmitHub information:
  “’Hustle Up Starlings’ is an album in the truest sense of the word — it’s a cohesive sonic and narrative expression with a beginning, middle, and end. It was in a conversation with the great producer and songwriter Joe Henry that Ryan realized once again the importance of committing to the fullness of experience that an album offers. ‘It’s an intimate story I’m telling here. These songs are personal, but if I’m lucky and I’ve done my job, they become universal. The story I’m living and writing about is happening in the context of this world we’re all observing and feeling right now, a world that feels like it might catch fire with all its uncertainty and friction, the ugly politics and rising impulses.’
Ryan explains further, ‘You see, this is what we do though, even when the world feels like it’s about to burn down, we keep leaning for tomorrow in our own lives and stories and families. It’s all hope and perseverance. We get up and we go to work. We believe in tomorrow, even when we’re not sure what tomorrow will be. Joe helped me to realize that I should probably tell the whole story as best I could. Brian and Doug [Lancio] and the band helped me bring it to life so it could be heard and shared. And hopefully felt.’"

     “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” - Matthew Ryan (lead vocals), Brian Fallon (electric guitars, backing vocals), Brian Bequette (bass), and Brad Pemberton (drums, percussion).

Lyrics of “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” by Matthew Ryan
Everything sucks
As bad as it gets
It all fell apart again
God, I'm a wreck

Rock ‘n Roll
My oh my
The same thing that makes you live
Can bury you alive

And we fall so easily
I just died
Like an aviator
With my heart on my sleeve

And somebody said
"Look at that bum!"
Since the sound of monuments
It's all heartless and dumb

I'm pouring a drink
And smoking a smoke
Our guts are born in that fiery trench
Between hurt and hope

And we fall so easily
I just died
Like an aviator
With my heart on my sleeve
I just died
Like an aviator
With my heart on my sleeve

Don't die, don't disappear [Repeat 6x]
I swear to God we need ya here

     The video was directed and edited by Gorman Bechard. Produced by Charlotte Beatty and Isabella Germano. And shot by Gorman Bechard and Isabella Germano.
    The video features performances Chloe Barczak, Carina Begley, Chloe Lang and Erica Gonsiewski.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

“Everything Is Possible Now” by Clouds and Thorns - A Song Review

     Clouds and Thorns delivered a Folk Pop anthem that is well-suited for the 2017 concert scene. The song is a crowd-pleaser. Band vocals, Folk instrument support, and percussion that invites audience participation – if they schedule a tour that includes a stop in the San Francisco area, we plan to attend.
     Clouds and Thorns is the performance name of Rich Andruska. He is in Hazlet, New Jersey. A six-track EP is scheduled for release on June 2 via Alex Rainbird Records. We're looking forward to hearing the other five songs!

     “Everything Is Possible Now” by Clouds and Thorns 


Friday, May 19, 2017

Free Friday (“FL&R”) and Concert Pictures – May 19

     Free and Legal Downloads? Yes, at least temporarily. Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of their releases.  The end of an offer may be based on the expiration of a set period of time or on a limited number of downloads.  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 legally downloadable music that we recommend. Our plan is to post at least one FL&R song each Friday.
     On May 17, Blue October visited The Fillmore in San Francisco. The opening band shared the frontman and his drummer brother. Harvard of the South is a side project of Justin and Jeremy Furstenfeld. It can be termed a “supergroup,” since it is a combination of Blue October and “Longwave. Harvard of the South is currently permitting free downloads of the song “Without.”

     “Without” by Harvard Of The South 

     The patrons at The Fillmore were knowledgeable and respectful. They were knowledgeable about Blue October and they were respectful of both the band and the people around them. OK, there was the lady who shouted a request for the song “Hate Me” after every song (she even asked for the song during the opening performance by Harvard of the South). But it was a “near perfect crowd.”

     The voice and emotional presentation of Justin Furstenfeld bring most fans to Blue October. In a live setting, it is easier to recognize the musician skills of the band members. Ryan Delahoussaye played the violin, the keyboards and a short-neck 12-string mandolin. Matt Noveskey (bass) and Matthew Ostrander (guitar) were outstanding at times. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

“Borders” by Climbing Trees – An Album Review

     In the current music-consumption era, singles satisfy the appetites of most of us. Songs are purchased individually, and the collections are easily organized and reorganized into playlists. Playing singles in the “old, old school” era of vinyl was limited to stacking a small number of 45rpm discs on a spindle. The advancement to the era of cassettes allowed a listener to record a series of singles, but there were still inconveniences, particularly if the owner grew tired on a song on the cassette.
     Yes, the world of digital collections has many advantages. But a negative impact is that the quality of an album is often missed (don’t see the beauty of the forest, because you’re pleased with a tree?). That was our error with the album from Climbing Trees. Finally, after being struck by a third single from the album “Borders,” the light went on. If asked to identify our favorite song from the “Borders” album, the response will depend upon which of three songs we heard last.

     Climbing Trees are from Pontypridd, South Wales. The members are Matthew Frederick (piano, guitar, vocals), Colenso Jones (guitar, bass, vocals), Martin Webb (guitar, bass, vocals), and James Bennetts (drums, percussion, vocals).

    “Tracks” has a piano-based beginning with a Coldplay feel to it, but thoughts turn to Red Hot Chili Peppers after the vocals arrive. If there is only a “soft focus” on the song for the first portion, things change at 1:33, when the guitar first hooks the listener and then reels her in. Still, the feature that makes “Tracks” special occurs later. For most crescendos, our enjoyment is in the journey through the intensity increase. For “Tracks,” the journey is a treat and the final destination is the reason for celebration. The multi-stage crescendo starts at 2:16, and carries the listener to a destination (2:49) that includes a larger dose of the guitar hook (from 1:33).  
     “Tracks” by Climbing Trees

     “Graves” shows the versatility of Climbing Trees. If it is comparable to another band, it certainly isn’t Red Hot Chili Peppers or Coldplay. Instead, we would point to Outlaws. The skillful guitar work and the selection of guitars (and processing) remind us of “Green Grass and High Tides.”
     “Graves” by Climbing Trees

     “Lost” is the most recent release from the “Borders” album. The song is more dependent upon vocals than either “Tracks” or “Graves.” And despite the relatively sparse lyrics, the song doesn’t disappoint. 
     “Lost” by Climbing Trees

Bandcamp Purchase:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

“With My Friends” by Jason S. Matuskiewicz – A Song Review

     “With My Friends” is an anthem to companionship in acting upon bad judgement. The song has a simplicity in its vocals and the instrumental support, but an elegance in its poetic imagery. Thus, rather than merely stating that some of the friendships are long lasting and deep-seated, Jason S. Matuskiewicz begins, “We were upside down on the other side of recess.”

     The vocals carry a confident resolution during the chorus, but a well-timed anguish during certain lines of the verses. The first example of anguish is the third line – “No matter where I looked I couldn't find the answer.” 

     In identifying the inspiration behind “With My Friends,” Matuskiewicz stated:
  "Every bad decision should have at least two willing participants. When you know what tomorrow morning will be, but you need someone to make you feel like tonight is worth it, they'll be there. The weight of the world can be so much sometimes that you get tired of trying to lift it and just want to maybe slink out from under it. Thankfully, you have friends. Friends who will keep you company till dawn. Friends who will make the hard times as good as possible, even if you're a little hellbent on making them bad.
  That is more or less what 'With My Friends is inspired by. It does not have a narrative or a straight forward statement. It is an expression of a feeling of ennui and company that helps to mitigate it, even if not with the ideal methods. This, and the other songs on the [upcoming] E.P., were all written while my girlfriend was undergoing intense chemotherapy. This was dark time and methods were bound to be less than ideal. We coped. We survived."

     “With My Friends” by Jason S. Matuskiewicz 

Amazon Purchase: CLICK HERE 

Lyrics of “With My Friends” by Jason S. Matuskiewicz
We were upside down on the other side of recess
Spread all over town I couldn't keep the secret
No matter where I looked I couldn't find the answer
To what it is I would do about all of these da-da-dancers

I've been told it's all my fault
I don't believe them at all
I don't think so
I’d do it over and over again

With my friends
My friends

In the middle of the night we were
Lost deep in laughter
You could see it in that candle light
Maybe we would be ever after.

I've been told it's all my fault
I don't believe them at all
I don't think so
I’d do it over and over again

With my friends
My friends

We were talking all round in circles
Circling round the drain
It didn't look like much
But it didn't look like pain

I've been told it's all my fault
I don't believe them at all
I don't think so
I’d do it over and over again

With my friends
My friends
[Repeat 3x]

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

“Sugar” by True Moon – A Song Review

     Move over Jehnny Beth, there is competition for the best Post-Punk female vocalist. Karolina Engdahl is the name sewn into the hat that was just thrown into the ring. In reality, we recognize this is not a competition, since the Post-Punk attitude is to show distain for such rankings and since neither Beth nor Engdahl has any idea who we are. Moreover, we would prefer to see the two bands (Savages and True Moon) together, rather than to pick one over the other.

     True Moon is primarily the Swedish duo of Karolina Engdahl (vocals, bass) and Tommy Tift (guitar). In their song “Sugar,” the melody begins ominously. The percussion takes control after 20 seconds, but it’s the bass line and guitar that draw the attention until the vocals enter.

     “Sugar” is on the ten-track album that carries the band’s name.