Friday, June 28, 2013

Torches - A Band Review

     As noted earlier this week, we are both playing a role in a wedding tomorrow, so the posts for the next few days will be short (or non-existent).
     Today, we welcome Torches, a band based in Los Angeles. Torches released the EP “If the People Stare” in May 2013. Our favorite track from the EP is the title track.
      The Facebook page of Torches lists its live performance members as Azad Cheikosman (guitars, vocals, loops), Eric Fabbro (drums, vocals, percussion), and Braeden Henderson (bass, vocals). 

     "If the People Stare" by Torches - currently a free download (free, legal and recommended).

     "When You Gonna?" by Torches - currently a free download 

     "Watched You Like a Hawk" by Torches - currently a free download 

     "In My Sleep?" by Torches - currently a free download 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hats Off to Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco

Rickshaw Stop - quality photo from the archive at
     Hands down, our favorite concert venue in the San Francisco Bay Area is The Independent. The sound system is tailored well for the venue, the shows start at or near the advertised start time, the crowds are more respectful and appreciative of the bands than other venues, and the employees are friendly and helpful. Moreover, the layout is one we would copy if we designed our own venue – the stage is high enough for a good line of sight even by people in the back, and the rectangular shape has its long sides parallel to the front of the stage, which allows a greater percentage of the concert attendees to be near the front.

     With that said, we want to acknowledge that another venue, Rickshaw Stop, is the 2013 leader in attracting bands. It started in January, when Rickshaw Stop hosted Jessie Ware and Tom Odell in successive weeks. Better yet, Tom Odell opened for Sweden’s Urban Cone. And the venue has remained ahead of the curve in recognizing and booking artists who desire a fan base which would sellout venues far larger than Rickshaw Stop and The Independent. For example, the U.K. band Bastille is interrupting its European tour for two performances in the United States, and one will be at Rickshaw Stop. Another good example is the visit by The 1975. 
     If the personnel at Rickshaw Stop is reading this, we ask that you raise the height of the stage slightly, but that you do whatever it takes to hold onto the person (persons) responsible for bring in the talent. We also ask that you entice Ballerina Black up from Los Angeles.

     Here are songs from groups of upcoming events at Rickshaw Stop (along with a song from Ballerina Black - no, we haven't met anyone associated with the band, we just want to see them in concert). The order of the songs is not based on the order of appearances by the bands.

    Bastille will be at Rickshaw Stop on July 22, 2013

    The 1975 will be at Rickshaw Stop on July 25, 2013

    Majical Cloudz will be at Rickshaw Stop on August 24, 2013

    Young Galaxy will be at Rickshaw Stop on October 1, 2013

    Hunter Hunted will be at Rickshaw Stop on July 11, 2013

    Bastille will be at Rickshaw Stop on August 8, 2013

    Ballerina Black - we hope to see them added to the list of bands heading to Rickshaw Stop in 2013!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Three Songs Within the "Drown" Theme.

     Both of us play roles in a wedding this week, so extra time is difficult to find. That’s true even if we are trying to find time for things we love (in addition to the bride and groom). So, the next seven days will be limited to shorter posts.
    The theme for this post is “drown,” since there are a number of very recent releases that include the term.

     Singleton is from Kiev, Ukraine. 
“Drown” by Singleton - this one is a free download.


     “Drowning in Pinwheels” by IG88 (IG88 is the alias of Seattle Washington artist Branden Clarke).

     We are currently obsessed with the song “Speak” by Spring Offensive, but this is another song we enjoy. Spring Offensive is a five-person band based in Oxford, Britain.
“Not Drowning But Waving” by Spring Offensive

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Night VI – A Band Review

     Interestingly, within the blogosphere, the song “Thinking of You” received a large spike of attention after it surfaced on SoundCloud. That is, the music blogs, particularly those based in the U.K., sang the praises of the release by The Night VI, but now all is quiet. Or at least that’s how it seems within our area of the world. We are hoping it is just a lull until the August 12, 2013 EP that will include “Thinking of You” as its title track.
     The Night VI is a six-member group with ties to the U.K. and France. The lead voice is that of Sophie-Rose Harper, but there are a number of features to enjoy. How many bands feature a harp?

     "Thinking of You" by Night VI

     "Strangers" by Night VI - an acoustic version.

     The band is typically referred to as the shortened "The Night." It would be interesting to know the purpose of the "VI" component of the official name. If the letters are to distinguish the band name from other "The Night" bands, is this the sixth band to go in that naming direction? We are aware of "The Night" from Sydney, Australia, which released the song "Put Me Out" about a year ago. In our opinion, "Put Me Out" is the best song that has been disowned by its owner. That is, the song is not on the band's website ( and requires some searching to discover. We're hoping that it changes soon, since both these "The Night" bands desire attention in the U.S.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Another Three That Are Free, Legal and Recommended (FLR)

     Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of new releases.  The end of the offer may be based upon reaching a maximum number of downloads or the expiration of some period of time.  But at least for now, here are three songs that qualify as Free, Legal and Recommended (FLR) downloads.
     Our new favorite band from the Ukraine is Singleton. They are based in Kiev and the members are Alina Fedorova (vocals), Jim Walt (guitars), Nikita Yudin (guitars), Dmitriy Chudakov (bass), and Vitaliy Yermak (drums). The band accurately characterizes its music as having a raw guitar-driven sound, with heartfelt, emotional vocals. At the least, this describes the song "Drown."  
     "Drown" by Singleton - currently a free download.

     Some quality vocals + alt-pop without excessive pop + a good instrument balance = "Everything's Fine" by MINKS.  MINKS is a duo from Brooklyn, New York and is comprised of Shaun Kilfoyle and Amalie Bruun.
     "Everything's Fine" by MINKS - currently a free download

     "Three Years" by Bellamaine is is a song that needed to "grow on us," but it has done so with a vengence. It is in our play rotation three times, so that we hear it 300% more than songs that we merely like. The band is based in Anacortes, Washington and, unfortunately, doesn't seem to venture very far. the four members are Nick Thompson (Guitar, Vocals), Julianne Thompson (Synths/Keys Vocals), Gaelan Francis Sylvia (Drums), and Jordan Nielsen (Bass, Synths).
      "Three Years" by Bellamaine - the free download is a two-step process, but you just need to go to the KEXP site

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Anna Kendrick vs. Folks - You're Gonna Miss Me..."

     If you are awake at 2:00 am, there aren’t many television options, unless you enjoy infomercials. Last night, the best available option was to watch a music video channel. The second video was the song “Cups” by Anna Kendrick. It was entertaining, but caused one of those “tip-of-the-tongue” frustrations when you can’t quite recall a song that you know. This morning, after a second cup of coffee, the recall occurred.
     The oft repeated lyric in “Cups” is “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone,” which is also featured in another recently released song, but one with a video that is far from the dexterity-intensive approach of the Anna Kendrick video. The song is “We’re All Dead” by Folks, and the video is a sequence of pictures of people who are no longer with us. 
     The member of Folks are Scott Anderson (vocals), Michael Beasley (guitar), Thom Fripp (guitar), Harry Gumery (bass), Wil Ackroyd (keys) and Elliot Barlow (drums).

     Both songs have their places, but we vote for Folks.  

Anna Kendrick - the song starts at 1:15

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bronze Radio Return Allows Free Downloads

     As we noted in a previous post:
It requires some searching, but NoiseTrade ( is a good tool for music discoveries.  Just steam the music and download the entire offering if you enjoy the songs.  The music is made available by artists of various genres, with the hope that the exposure will be beneficial (and that there will be some "tips"). The bands take the opportunity to expand their email lists.  At first, we didn't give our actual postal code, but started to do so when we realized that the purpose is to allow the band to send an email notification when the band is performing within driving distance of a person.  
     If you are inclined not to distribute your main email address, just take the time to register an extra Gmail or Yahoo account.  However, even with regular use of NoiseTrade, the extra incoming email to our account has not been significant. 
   Bronze Radio Return is allowing downloads via NoiseTrade. The band is based in Hartford, Connecticut. The members are Chris Henderson (Guitar/Vocals), Patrick Fetkowitz (Guitar), Matt Warner (Keys/Vocals), Rob Griffith (Drums/Vocals), Bob Tanen (Bass/Vocals), and Craig Struble (Harmonica/Guitar/Banjo). 
     Our favorite songs of Bronze Radio Return are "Wolves" and "Shake, Shake, Shake." Since the NoiseTrade offering doesn't enable jumps within a song, we are including the Soundcloud versions of the two songs. But both songs are within the NoiseTrade offer.

     "Wolves" by Bronze Radio Return - the ability to make jumps within this song is significant, since the later portion is different than the earlier portion in many aspects.

     "Shake, Shake, Shake" by Bronze Radio Return

To access the interface in order to listen to the other songs, just "click" on the arrow within the picture of the band.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Spring Offensive – A Band Review

     Spring Offensive is a five-person band based in Oxford, Britain. The band describes itself as:
"We have guitars, we have driving rhythms, we sing in harmony and we mean it. Sometimes we play in living rooms. Sometimes we play in churches, museums, art galleries, or venues."
    Last week we were introduced to "Speak," and now we play it regularly. Surprisingly, Spring Offensive is currently allowing downloads for the mere price of an email address. It proved to be a good business move when applies to us, since we are now purchasing other offerings of the band.
     We have talked about adding a “What-we-like-about-this-song section” to each blog entry that has a focus on a particular song. For “Speak,” the section would include significantly more bullet points than most songs. We like:
  • The early percussion, which is choppy, but in a manner that works well with the vocals;
  • The harmony that first appears at the 0:54 mark;
  • The increase in the intensity of that harmonization at the 1:13 mark;
  • The abrupt shift in direction by isolating the guitar at the 1:32 mark;
  • The guitar build occurring between the 1:57 and 2:01 marks;
  • The percussion after the guitar drops out at the 2:40 mark; and
  • The final seven seconds, when the guitar resurfaces.
     "Speaks" by Spring Offensive

     "No Assets" by Spring Offensive

     "Not Drowning But Waving" by Spring Offensive - this is the opposite of spring, since it comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Appropriate - Father Sculptor

     It is Father's Day and we plan to enjoy a day with "The Fam." So, this will be a copy-and-paste blog entry about a band that deserves more love in the U.S. The band is Father Sculptor. The Bio section of the band's website provides:
"Father Sculptor was formed in Glasgow in 2012. The members are:
 FELIX - Drums
 JOSEPH - Guitars
 PHILIP - Bass guitar
 MATTHEW - Keyboard and vox"

     Four songs are included below. We particularly like the first.
     "Blue" by Father Sculptor

     "Ember" by Father Sculptor

     "Dysmirror" by Father Sculptor

     "Lowlands" by Father Sculptor

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It’s the Ides of June – Music Alliance Pact (MAP)

     As noted in previous blog entries, on the fifteenth ("Ides")  of each month the Music Alliance Pact (MAP) makes a collection of songs available for free and legal download. MAP is a collective of 34 blogs (at least) in an equal number of countries.  Each blog chooses a song by an artist from its home country for the monthly post.  Approval from each artist is a requirement. This month, there are 34 songs in the MAP collection.
           There are three options:
1. You can merely listen to the 34 songs at one of the MAP authorized sites. For example, the Scottish participant is The Pop Cop, and the MAP page is accessed by CLICKING HERE.
2. You can selectively download the songs by going to one of the MAP authorized sites and using the "Save as" capability of your web browser.
3. You can download all 34 in a ZIP file at CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ZIP SITE.

     For the June collection, our recommendations are:
     "Ludovico" by the Constables, the contribution from Finland. This is not a new group for us, but we hadn't heard "Ludovico" prior to the listening to this June MAP presentation. Constables is a guitar-driven band, and we like the drive. Our favorite Constables song is still "Are We Still Here," so we included it below (it is not in the MAP download).
     "Ludovico" by Constables (this is the MAP song)

     "Are We Still Here" by Constables (this is not included in MAP)

      "The Plan" by Playground Noise, the contribution from Greece. We liked "The Plan" even before the horns came in with force at the 3:11 mark. So, we went to the other offerings of Playground Noise for the purpose of seeing if they could deliver on the promise of "The Plan." We found a song we like even more - "The Drowning." 
     "The Plan" by Playground Noise (this is the MAP song)

     "The Drowning" by Playground Noise (this is not included in MAP)

     "Excursiones Polaries" by La Guerra Psicológica, the contribution from Argentina. This song goes in a number of directions, some better than others. After the first few bars, it seems that Jim Morrison of the Doors should jump in with "Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel." But it quickly becomes clear that we are not going in the direction of the Door's "Roadhouse Blues." The harmonica jumps in and out, the guitars explode at the 1:11 mark, there's a short sing along at 1:46, ...

     "Tame" by BODYWORK, the contribution from England. This is electronica, which is not typically one of our preferences. But "Tame" is electronica with an attitude, and we were in the mood for attitude when we heard the song. It's your call now.

     "The Good Blood" by Ketch Harbour Wolves, the contribution from Canada. At the start, it appears to be yet another song that sounds like it is from the National. But, Ketch Harbour Wolves have their own sound, as we quickly discovered.

     "A Sudden Light" by Gang of Youths, the contribution from Australia. Admittedly, we weren't fond of the song during the first listen. But it is growing on us more with each listen.

           "Requiem" by TOURISTA, the contribution from Peru. To quote the early days of American Bandstand, "It's gotta nice beat and it's easy to dance to." 

Friday, June 14, 2013

“Tough Love” by Sailor and I - A Song Review

Sailor and I
     The temptation is use the term “minimalistic” to describe the single “Tough Love,” since the lyrics are simple and the instruments almost disappear at times. But a few careful listens lead to the conclusion that “Tough Love” has a complexity that is inconsistent with the term “minimalistic” and that the time required for the orchestration and production is probably only appreciated by persons involved in the process. The short surge that occurs at the 1:21 mark is followed by a trail-off of energy, which is broken by a percussion explosion at 1:40. There are a variety of features that make this song interesting throughout.
     “Tough Love” was released this week, and is the first song from the Sailor and I. The band is based in Stockholm, Sweden. While it is the only song available from Sailor & I, there is a promise of an album (or at least an EP) release in July 2013, so more is coming.
     "Tough Love" by Sailor and I

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Coachella, Ben Howard, and the Water Toss

     Within a few feet of us, two people lost consciousness while watching Ben Howard during the second weekend of Coachella. Odds are that it was also happening elsewhere. To provide some safety, water was distributed without charge. The distribution begins in a safe manner at the 3:30 mark of this video. But as time went by, the throws gained distance and lost carefulness. Since no one seemed to get injured, it added to the enjoyment of Coachella.  Around the 4:30 mark, the risks involved with being hit by a 50-foot toss seemed to be greater than the risks involved with not having enough water.

     The video and audio were captured using our recently purchased sunglasses with built-in camera and microphone. We are pleased with the purchase, although the quality and position of the microphone limit the possible quality of the recording.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gold and the Three Bears - Another Shameless Reach for Connectivity Among Songs

     There are some songs that are closer to the “Goldilocks” portion of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. However, we decided to favor songs we like over songs that are a better match. So, it was easy to select the song “Gold.”
     “Gold” is an offering from Wake Owl, which is a project of Colyn Cameron.  Cameron is a songwriter from Vancouver, Canada.  He has been releasing material for about a decade, but the 2013 EP is the first one as the quartet Wake Owl. The EP is entitled "Wild Country." The other members of Wake Owl are Aiden Brant-Briscall, Josh Daignault, and Andy Shauf.
     "Gold" by Wake Owl


     The first “bear” is the song “Eaten by Bears” from Nervous Nellie. The band comprises two sets of brothers (Henrik Jonzon, Magnus Johnson, Andy Johansson, and Sebastian Johansson). They are based in Stockholm, Sweden, but Henrik and Magnus lived in Chicago, Illinois until their parents moved to Sweden in 1988. 
     The Facebook page of Nervous Nellie submits:
"Four guys. Two sets of brothers. Two coasts. Two countries. Four albums. One love. That amounts to a total of fifteen something’s, all equally important to the end result which is Nervous Nellie. Maybe these things are what solely make these people so marvelous. Maybe Nervous Nellie are solely marvelous because they let us laugh & cry without indignity."


     The second bear is the London-based band Eliza and the Bear. The members are James Kellegher, Callie Noakes, Martin Dukelow, Chris Brand, and Paul Kevin Jackson. We particularly like the song “Brother’s Boat,” because of the use of the horns and the “attack” that occurs at the 1:35 mark in the song.
     "Brother's Boat" by Eliza and the Bear

     Bear’s Den is also from London. We featured their song “Pompeii” in a January 31 post, and the song continues to be our favorite by the trio. The members are Andrew Davie, Kev Jones and Joey Haynes.
     "Pompeii" by Bear's Den

     The next interesting bear is Cowboy Indian Bear from Lawrence, Kansas. The members are CJ Calhoun, Marty Hillard, Katlyn Conroy and Beau Bruns. The band name is sort of a “Rock, Paper Scissors” takeoff, where Cowboy trumps Indian, Indian trumps Bear, and Bear trumps Cowboy.
     "Does Anybody See You Out?" by Cowboy Indian Bear


     A bonus bear entry is Minus the Bear, a group based in Seattle, Washington. The band consists of Jake Snider (vocals, guitar), Dave Knudson (guitar), Cory Murchy (bass), Alex Rose (synths, vocals) and Erin Tate (drums).
     "Listing" by Minus the Bear


     Adding a Canadian bear, the Band Towers is from Toronto. The members of Towers are Stefan Blair, Paul Ceraso, James Macleod, and Liam Parsons.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"So Long" by Siôn Russell Jones - A Song Review

     For weeks, we have intended to identify our appreciation for the song “So Long” by Siôn Russell Jones. Intentions are fine, follow-through is better.
Siôn Russell Jones is a singer/songwriter from Cardiff, Wales. Pictured above is the cover of the "So Long" EP that was released on April 15, 2013.

     Jones has the type of voice that seems to put things in perspective. That is, while listening to the music, it seems that all is good with the world despite the content of the message. For example, a first listen of the lyrics of "So Long" leaves questions as to whether Jones is coming from a positive or negative space, but who cares.
     We love the harmony at the 0:50 mark in the song. We enjoy the selection of instruments and how they enter and exit. Even the abrupt ending adds to the quality of the listening.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Indie Obsessive: Three for Free - The Classics III

     To quote the blog entries of February 28 (CLICK HERE) and March 23 (CLICK HERE):
"When you have IADD (Indie Attention Dis-obsessive Disorder), songs that are only a year old are sometimes considered “classics.”  It is typical to discover a band, become so obsessive in listening to the songs of the newly discovered band that they are repeated using the loop mode, but then undeservedly leave the band behind as other bands are discovered. The five songs in the right-hand column are currently in that obsessive play condition. Below are songs from three bands which are still visited by us, but which no longer receive the amount of play they deserve. All of the songs are being offered without charge by the bands or their recording labels, making them Free, Legal and Recommended downloads (FLR downloads)."
In Golden Tears
    The first song is one that is receiving some attention. because the free download has resurfaced. This is likely a result of a push by the band to release an album in 2013. The song is "Urban Emotions" by In Golden Tears. The band is based in Hamburg, Germany and its members are Patrick H. Kowalewski (Vocals, Guitar), Mats Dörband (Bass), Patrick Behrens (Vocals, Guitar), Robin Shaw (Drums) and Max Schild (Keyboard, Synthesizer).
     According to the Facebook page of In Golden Tears:
After self-releasing their debut single "Urban Emotions", produced by Marius Lauber and mastered by Andrew Heppner through Humming Records / Rough Trade, as well as having extensively toured UK and mainland Europe, In Golden Tears are now in the process of writing and recording material for their debut album due in 2013.
     "Urban Emotions" by In Golden Tears - for the free download CLICK HERE or visit  


     The second song is “Post War Blues” by Dan Mangan. Mangan and his group are based in Vancouver, Canada. The other members are Gord Grdina, Kenton Loewen, and John Walsh.
     "Post War Blues" by Dan Mangan


     The third song is “Collector” by Here We Go Magic, a Brooklyn, NY band. This is one of our favorite in-concert songs, with its immediate energy kickoff by the guitar riff and its ability to keep the interest in the song alive for the entire five minutes. 
     "Collector" by Here We Go Magic


Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Boxer Rebellion and Fossil Collective - A Concert Review

     San Francisco has got to be one of the best cities for concert-goers. On Wednesday (June 5), we planned to see the Crystal Fighters at Great American Music Hall, but unfortunately it was sold out; we made a quick decision to go just 7 blocks up to the street to The Fillmore for The Boxcar Rebellion, which made for a great show! 

The Boxer Rebellion at the Fillmore in SF
     The Boxer Rebellion is a British band formed in 2001 who has been consistently making music ever since.  The band consists of 4 members, Nathan Nicholson (vocals, guitar), Todd Howe (lead guitar), Adam Harrison (bass guitar), and Peirs Hewitt (drums).  They played a really impressive show.  We had seen them last October at Austin City Limits and were impressed with how much better they sounded in a small venue as compared to an outdoor concert.  TBR brought lots of energy and had good stage presence. The vocals were strong and almost haunting, they had a real rock feel to their sound.  We were especially impressed by Todd Howe’s performance; he interacted with the fans and seemed very genuine.  A real crowd-pleaser, to say the least.

     "The Runner" by The Boxer Rebellion

The band is allowing free downloads of "The Runner," just CLICK HERE.
     "Diamonds" by The Boxer Rebellion


"Tell Where I Lie" by Fossil Collective
Fossil Collective at the Fillmore

     The opening band, Fossil Collective, was just as captivating!  Only three of their four members were present.  The band traveled here from Leeds, in the UK.  Last month, they released their first album, "Tell Where I Lie," and as they humbly mentioned, it “accidentally made it to #1 on the charts”.   Their sound was different without the drummer, comparing it to an “unplugged” feel.  They too seemed really genuinely happy to be there.  Fossil Collective will be back to San Francisco in November with their full band and looking forward to seeing them again! 

     "Wolves" by Fossil Collective

Currently, Fossil Collective is permitting free downloads of a four-track EP (price of an email address). The offer is embedded below.