Saturday, September 30, 2017

“Repeater” by Holy ’57 – A Song Review

     “Repeater” is half documentary and half instrumental. Holy ’57 is the performance name of Alex Mankoo of London. Melodically, the track includes an array of instruments, but the horns breathe the life into the argument that “Repeater” is blogworthy. Mankoo’s family history is provided by his grandmother, as she describes experiences of moving from India to Nairobi, Kenya, and then to London. Slicing historical audio clips into a song is a technique used by the duo performing as Public Service Broadcasting, but the story told in “Repeater” is a timeline, which provides more perspective. 

     “Repeater” by Holy ’57 



Friday, September 29, 2017

“Smile” by Lone Kodiak - Free Friday (“FL&R”)

     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 is a song that qualifies as Free, Legal and Recommended (FL&R).
     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. 
     “Smile” enters with guitar having some of the interesting characteristics of Angels & Airwaves. That lasts for a short time, and then the song heads along an independent path. We like the terrain. “Smile” is a track from Lone Kodiak, a quartet from Los Angeles. The members are Dain√©al Parker (vocals, guitar, keys), Daniel Alden (bass), and Andrew Smith (drums).

     “Smile” by Lone Kodiak     


Lyrics of “Smile” by Lone Kodiak
You were in my dream last night
You've been on my mind
Saw you on a New York street
You're busy all the time

Found you in a hospital
Pretty as a song
You were wearing blue
When I asked you what was wrong

And you smiled at me
You smiled at me
You’re one of us now
You’re one of us now

Summers in The Bluegrass State
Kentucky in the sun
I taught her how to swim
She taught me the guitar
Went to leave a birthday note
When I found out she was gone
She was smiling at me
Just smiling at me

Brother, you are one of us now
Part of this; you're one of us now
You took your hits; you're one of us now
Brother, you
Brother, you

In NYC, three blocks from the river
The sun will see you fall asleep too soon

Didn't I warn you?
Didn't we talk about this?
There's consequences
There's consequences
Didn't I warn you?
What about the consequences?
We talked about this
We talked about this

Brother, you are one of us now
You're part of this; you're one of us now
You took your hits; you're one of us now
Brother, you
Brother, you


“Well, Hell” by Lauren Ruth Ward – A Song Review

     The charismatic Lauren Ruth Ward unleashed another slice of raw power with her latest single, “Well, Hell.” Ward describes the track as “an auto-biographical song that deals with frustrations, both with my upbringing and with society as a whole, that have long been forgiven but not forgotten.”

     After a 7-second guitar/percussion intro, Ward begins with insights into the attitudes of her parents. As noted in the lyrics, you better “listen fast” or get left behind. There are a few slowdowns that allow the listener to take a breath, but Ward packs a range of thoughts into a relatively short song (2:28). She even throws in quotes from hits by David Bowie, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. 

     Two thoughts involving comparisons:
  1. It is interesting to compare the “Well, Hell” approach to one taken in “Not Worth Hiding,” which also references parents whose child doesn’t fit into their “tradition” sexual preference. That 2017 song is a slow-paced story from Australia’s Alex the Astronaut.
  2. An appreciation for the dynamic and charismatic performance personality of Lauren Ruth Ward is accelerated by comparing three videos of Ward (and her skilled bandmates) performing “Well, Hell” in different live settings. The videos are embedded below. They show performances in an intimate Sofar setting, atop a roof on a BalconyTV stage, and during an energized Echoplex visit (the audio is less than ideal). 

     Quoting a bio sent by Purple Bite, the Los Angeles PR firm:
  "Lauren Ruth Ward's music has spread like wildfire these past two years in LA after leaving her hometown of Baltimore. Her lyrics are secrets to strangers, writing about her life’s trajectory sharing both vulnerability and strength delivered with grit and vibrato. Her band re-creates 60's rock and roll nuances, allowing Ward to release a powerhouse of emoting in their live show. Lauren is joined by Eduardo Rivera who is her songwriter partner. Lately Lauren has garnered the support of Spotify’s 'Badass Women,' LA Weekly, Galore, Wonderland Magazine, Jam In The Van, and Sofar Sounds."

     “Well, Hell” by Lauren Ruth Ward 


Lyrics of “Well, Hell” by Lauren Ruth Ward 
My daddy says he's “friends with Uncle Sam.”
I try to change his mind in those baby booming ways
Both my hands are full and I still forgot something
I walk fast, I talk fast, you better listen fast, or get left behind

My mama loves me, she squeezes me, she believes in medicine
Wants me to succeed
And fix "those things" inside my head.
"Love is not loving" mama
That's what Bowie said

He's got some secrets he can't wait to tell.
Cathartic, robotic, don't worry about hurting bodies.
Guess you don't believe in hell?
Well, "Hell.”

She comes around, he kicks her down, she still licks his shadow off the ground
Until I make a sound.
"Don't be cruel to a heart that's true"
Like Elvis crowned.

Maybe I should see my therapist
She makes me feel sane
I didn't mean to make your head spin
I have a lot to say
I have a lot to say

My puzzle's easy to solve
‘Cause I still got all my pieces - peace man.
You're like a dart on the wall
A far cry from the bull's-eye
You better hold tight or you will fall.

I think I'm aggressive?
I'm just obsessive
Maybe I'll sleep when I'm dead
"The best is yet to come"
Like Frankie said

Maybe I should see my therapist
She makes me feel sane
I didn't mean to make your head spin
I have a lot to say
I have a lot to say
I had a lot to say
I had a lot to say
Thank you for listening to what we have to say.
I have a lot to say








Thursday, September 28, 2017

“NDE” by SHORE – A Song Review

     Warning: We’re headed into a dark space. But song inspirations can arrive from unpredicted directions. For example, you’re in the backseat of a car driven by the parents of your significant other (now your “ex”). The mother grabs the steering wheel from her passenger position and attempts to swerve the car into oncoming traffic. She had discovered that her husband of 24 years was seeing someone else. No one was injured, but no relationship survived. On the other hand, “NDE” is an offspring of the experience.

     “NDE” is a track from SHORE, a four-piece band from Swindon, England. The members are Harry Leigh (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Ben Tinson (bass, synth backing vocals), Nick Tucker (lead guitar, backing vocals), and Matt Bateman (drums). 

     “NDE” by SHORE


Lyrics of “NDE” by SHORE 
Oh she said, “It's fine.”
But my usual plan didn't work this time
Cold winter rain is all I can taste
The colour drains from her face

She made a discovery so bleak
Her 24-year marriage would end this week
Back seat my knees shaking my stomach sick
She tried to chase the light and take us with

Fueled with drink her rationale had ceased
My ability to keep the peace
I'll never forget those two small words
As we shook by the road and the engine whirred

She said “It's fine.”
[Repeat…]

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

“Hemlock Blues” by Divining Rod – A Song Review

     Miyuki Furtado is scattered, but in a positive sense. Instrumentally, his contributions to a track, such as “Hemlock Blues,” are varied. Geographically, Furtado was born in Hawaii, but now resides in New York. In terms of genre, he has a Post-Punk background (with The Roger Sisters), but has joined forces with Patrick Harmon as Divining Rod, a Folk-infused Psych Rock band.

     Listening to the two tracks released by Divining Rod earlier this year, a common trait is the ability to finish strong. In “Hemlock Blues,” the vocals dropout at 3:23, permitting a focus on the guitar skills of the members. 

     “Hemlock Blues” by Divining Rod 


Lyrics of “Hemlock Blues” by Divining Rod
Hemlock hanging on my door
Don’t know what it means to me
Haven’t seen it there before
No, no, no

People walking down my street
Don’t know who they’re going to meet
Don’t know if they know
Don’t know if they know
If they’re all diseased

Strangers knocking on my door
Don’t know what they want from me
Don’t know what they’re waiting for
No, no, no

Keep the world at bay
Don’t know if I’ll be okay
Don’t know if they know
Don’t know if they know
If they’re all diseased

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“Easy” by Mu – A Song Review

     Mu puts an artistry into Dream Pop. The duo from Vancouver is Francesca Belcourt and Brittney Rand. We are particularly fond of “Easy,” which includes a one-minute energy build that is so subtle that we hesitate to call it a crescendo. It begins at 2:18 and continues until the vocals initiate a chant of “Easy.”
     The non-member dancers in the video are Layla Mrozowski and Ileanna Cheladyn. 

      “Easy” by Mu 


Lyrics of “Easy” by Mu
There are so many loose ends
There are many love threats
The plot thickens once again

Haven't felt that in a while
Have not been held like that in a while
The way we move is so easy

So easy
So easy, easy, easy
The way we move is so easy

There are so many loose ends
All our pretty ends onyxed and frost bitten
Arms wrapped around me like an actor once again

Haven't felt a sweat like that in a while
Contrasting natures and soon we're believing in the fire
We do it 'cause it's so so easy to do

We learned this cause it's easy
It's so queasy breezy, breezy, breathe
We do it cause it's easy
In a robe of injury endorse it sweetly

It's so easy
Easy
[Repeat 20x]

Monday, September 25, 2017

“Lions Share” by Hermitage Green – A Song Review

     We have a new favorite bodhran player! Truth is, he didn’t displace a previous favorite, since we didn’t know of the percussion instrument until we started researching the song “Lions Share” by Hermitage Green. The research was centered upon the instruments. The tribal percussion is not generated by instruments found in a traditional drum set. And there are bursts from what might be a wind instrument similar to the didgeridoo.

     The bodhran is an Irish percussion instrument. In Hermitage Green, it’s played by Dermot Sheedy. The full membership of the band from Limerick, Ireland is Darragh Graham (banjo, djembe, backing vocals), Darragh Griffin (vocals, guitar), Dan Murphy (vocals, guitar, dobro, harmonica), Barry Murphy (vocals, bass), and Dermot Sheedy (bodhran). 

     So, "Lions Share” may also include a djembe, which originates from West Africa. Adding to the percussion, Hermitage Green doesn’t shy away from multi-purposing a guitar. Embedded within this post is a video of “Cosmic Love” (Florence and the Machine cover), which shows the percussion skills of the band. Also embedded is the video of “Quicksand,” which required the band to perform inverted to allow gravity to create chaos.

     Quoting the email submission from Mystic Sons (thank you Daniel Jones):
  "Talking about the song, vocalist Dan Murphy says, 'Lions Share is an expression of certain aspects of human behaviour. Indulgence, greed, selfishness, the innate need to consume, and lastly a complete sense of apathy for all of the above. When you care for nothing - that is the moment when you can reap the full rewards."

     “Lions Share” by Hermitage Green 







Sunday, September 24, 2017

“End Of An Error” by Loved Ones – A Song Review

     The percussion accomplishes its purpose of establishing and maintaining the song's rhythm, but it does so with flair. It’s not rare for us to look at tour schedules in order to witness the guitar play within a particular song. It is rare for us to check a band’s tour schedule because we want to witness drumming. The percussion in “End Of An Error” sent us to the “Events” section of the four-member band Loved Ones. They are based in West Kirby, UK. Currently, they seem content with performing in Europe.

     The drumming is not the only interesting instrument in “End Of An Error.” The piano is well conceived and executed, but doesn’t seem to have a friend. That is, the personality of the piano allows it to work well within the team, while still seeming to meander.

     The members of Loved Ones are Nik Glover, Richard Hurst, Ben Shooter, and Dan Taylor.
     “End Of An Error” by Loved Ones 



Saturday, September 23, 2017

“Lost In Your Own Home” by Wooden Arms – A Song Review

     Chamber Pop? Orchestral Rock? The name given to the genre varies, even among its followers. And perhaps more than any other genre, there is a correlation between fans of the genre and concert-going. The explanation for the correlation is that a full appreciation for the arrangement and musical skills for an Orchestral Rock song isn’t possible until you watch its performance.

     However, there is no dispute over the ability of an Orchestral Rock/Chamber Pop band to provide higher levels of textural richness and melodic lushness. The traditional makeup of two guitars, a bass and drums cannot compete with bands that add strings, horns and (often) choir-like vocals. A good example is "Lost In Your Own Home" by Wooden Arms, a five-member band from Norwich, UK. The song carries a depth of emotion that could not be equaled if one of the contributions to the song were unavailable.

     "Lost In Your Own Home" is a single from Wooden Arms’ sophomore album, "Trick of the Light". Quoting the email submission from Diversion Records for the single:
  “Previously a solo writing process by classically trained pianist Alex Carson, for their latest release Wooden Arms has evolved into a collaborative, genre-fluid writing trio between Carson and other members Jeff Smith and Alex Mackenzie to collectively draw from their alternative, classical, and trip-hop influences. A truly impressive and deep album, "Trick of the Light" shakes off the shackles of folk and chamber-pop pigeonholing to include deeper instrumentation coupled with electronic elements to become something newer, darker... more strange.”

     The members of Wooden Arms are Alex Carson (piano, vocals, guitar, organ), Jeff Smith (guitar, vocals, trumpet), Alex Mackenzie percussion, vocals,bass), Fifi Homan (cello, vocals), and Azita Mehdinejad (violin, vocals).

     “Lost In Your Own Home” by Wooden Arms 



Friday, September 22, 2017

Free Friday (“FL&R”) – September 22

     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 two songs from the Southern Hemisphere 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. 
     “Brother Sister” dates back, but we missed it. The song belongs to Sahara Beck from Australia (Sunshine, Queensland). The features that make the track blogworthy – the innocence in the lead vocals, the richness of the backing vocals, and the interesting approach to the percussion. 
     “Brother Sister” by Sahara Beck 


     We Are Charlie (WAC) generate Indie Rock from Pretoria, South Africa. According to their bio:
  "Dylan Christie (voice and guitar) met Wesley Reinecke (drums) in high school. The two have been making music together since 2008. After a few years exploration in the music scene they found a home in the indie sound and WAC was conceived.  Rudolph de Villiers (bass) joined the band in mid-2016 to further enrich the sound.
  We Are Charlie are energetic and up-beat. Their style is one which constants highly distinct guitar melodies, drums and bass provide a solid, groovy yet functional backbone. These instrumental elements become a foundation over which WAC convey their honest (and a little complex) message and approach to lyrics."

     “New Camera” by We Are Charlie (If your browser doesn’t show the download arrow, go to the Soundcloud site and try the “More” pulldown menu – CLICK HERE.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

“Unknown (To You)” by Jacob Banks – A Song Review

     Festival attendance requires choices. How do you handle situations in which two of your targeted performances occur simultaneously? And if there is a must-see band, do you stay at their stage for the previous two bands, so that you can move closer each time?

     And what time do you arrive? Some festival-goers (most?) prefer to arrive well after the opening bands are finished. The concern is that a noon arrival may result in becoming fatigued and not appreciating the headliners. Particularly if you enjoy alcohol intake, this is a risk. Other festival-goers (us) prefer to take the risk and arrive for the early bands. Yes, burnout occurs sometimes. But there are two positives. First, it’s easier to get close to the stage. Second, there is almost always a surprise performance. We all know the headliners. They might exceed expectations, but they don’t surprise. The “wow-factor” must be either from an unknown artist/band or from one that you’ve mightily underappreciated.

     At Outside Lands in August 2017, the wow-factor made its presence at 1:15 on Sunday. Jacob Banks did a Soulful set. According to the schedule, it lasted 45 minutes. It seemed far shorter. Quoting the content from the Outside Lands website:
“Born in Nigeria and based in England, 25-year-old singer/songwriter Jacob Banks creates soul music that’s uncompromisingly honest but thrillingly cinematic. A self-taught musician who began singing, playing guitar, and writing songs at the age of 20, Banks got his start at open mic nights around Birmingham in 2011 and quickly won major attention for his commanding vocal presence and daringly intimate songwriting. In early 2013 he released his powerful debut EP ‘The Monologue.’”

     Jacob Banks is returning to San Francisco in November. He will visit The Independent on November 4. For ticket information, CLICK HERE. The day before, he will be at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. For ticket information, CLICK HERE.

     “Unknown (To You)” by Jacob Banks


Lyrics of “Unknown (To You)” by Jacob Banks
I believe what I say
Why does everyone hear me wrong?
If I told you different, would it sound the same?
Would it make a difference in any way? Oh no
I know I done wrong I'll pay for it
It's your turn to talk for once I'm listening

Say that you don't want me
Say that you don't need me
Tell me I'm the fool
Tell me you've been tortured
Tell me you've been beaten
For what I've done to you
Even if it doesn't matter
Matter what's true
Say that you don't want me
Say that you don't need me
Tell me I'm the fool

Look at all this heartache, what is left?
Forgetting how it started, this is how it ends, oh no
I know I've done some wrong I'll pay for it
But it's your turn to talk, for once I'm listening

Say that you don't want me
Say that you don't need me
Tell me I'm the fool
Tell me you've been tortured
Tell me you've been beaten
For what I've done to you
Even if it doesn't matter
Matter what's true
Tell me that I'm unknown to you
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh

Say that you don't want me
Say that you don't need me
Tell me I'm the fool
Tell me you've been tortured
Tell me you've been beaten
For what I've done to you
And even if it doesn't matter
Matter what's true
Say that you don't want me
Say that you don't need me
Tell me I'm the fool

Tell me that it's over
Tell me that you mean it
This time is true
Tell me that I'm unknown
To you