Monday, September 30, 2013

From the Indie Obsessive Mailbox - Letters to Fiesta

     Last Friday, we received an invitation to review the music of Letters to Fiesta, which is a band based in Manchester, Britain. We were already aware of their single “Tears Apart.” Thanks to the invitation, we sampled other songs by the group. “”Tears Apart” remains our favorite, but we also appreciate “Mesosphere” from past releases and "Stay Young" from the upcoming EP release. 

     The emailed invitation is pasted below:
News that Letters To Fiesta have just released this new track online, the video of which premiered on Clash.
Taken off their debut EP Aphorism which can be heard via the link in the press release below.
Feel free to host 'Tears Apart' too -
Drop me a line if you would like to chat to the band.

Hope you all have great weekends,

Letters to Fiesta the debut EP 
‘Aphorism’ out 28th October 13
     The members of Letters to Fiesta are Anna-Louisa Etherington, who provides the strong vocals, Dan Houghton, who is predominantly featured on drums, Andy Fletcher on bass, and Tom Brydon on guitar.
     "Tears Apart" by Letters to Fiesta

     "Mesosphere" by Letters to Fiesta

Sunday, September 29, 2013

“Unbound” by CATHEDRALS – A Song Review

     The San Francisco duo Cathedrals released its first single this week. If the song “Unbound” is an indication of the future of Cathedrals, the stay on the ground floor will be short. Cathedrals has fewer than 500 Facebook “likes” and only recently started gaining traction on the Internet. But the elevator is poised for quick movement.

     "Unbound" by  Cathedrals

      "Unbound"  is currently available on Bandcamp on a "name your own price" basis. Of course, tips are encouraged.

     Here is an oddity. "Unbound" was released on Bandcamp on Thursday, September 26. Today is September 29 and another band called CATHEDRALS releases "Broke the Silence" on Bandcamp. This CATHEDRALS is from Norfolk, Virginia, and barely has 100 Facebook "Likes." The song is embedded below. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Savages at The Independent – A Concert Review

     Last night (September 27th), the San Francisco Bay Area experienced a mini-British Invasion. This one won’t have the long-term influences to rival that of the 1960s, but the invasion overtook any defense considered by concert-goers in the area. From London, the Savages captured The Independent and London Grammar grabbed Rickshaw Stop. Artic Monkeys (Sheffield) crossed to the other side of the Bay to occupy The Fox Theater in Oakland. In support of the cause, New Zealand, another area that recognizes Queen Elizabeth II as its sovereign, sent a 16 year to The Fillmore, which was forced to surrender to Lorde. All four shows were early sellouts. If there is a situation in which a territory can be proud after being overrun without a fight, this is it.
     One of us went to see the Savages with friends Pat and Alan. The other headed to a wedding, but is looking forward to seeing the Savages at the Austin City Limits Festival next month. The band is a post-punk female quartet that released its debut album (“Silence Yourself”) in May 2013. The album has experienced commercial success and is on the short list for the “Mercury Prize” as best album of 2013.
     More so than is the case with most bands, listening to Savages' album doesn’t provide  an accurate indication of the persona of the band. It’s not critical to attend a Savage concert in order to understand that persona, since watching a Youtube video (embedded below) will suffice. Still, attendance is certainly helpful. This is a band with attitude – sometimes sexual and other times deviant.
 Here is a short clip posted by someone at The Independent - Thank you Stranger.

     It is tempting to describe Ayse Hassan (bass) as not having much of a stage presence. Hassan did not stray during the hour-plus performance and her dance was mostly above the waste. Often, it seemed she was playing with her eyes closed. However, in comparing opinions as we headed to the car after the performance, we agreed that Hassan held our attention on a regular basis. She had a charisma that was not readily apparent, but it exists.
      Guitarist Gemma Thompson was on the opposite side of the stage, which remained poorly lit through the performance. So, it is difficult to access her stage presence. But her guitar work was very effective. The lighting was almost certainly intentional, The clothing of all four band members was dark, and that’s their pattern.
      Drummer Fay Milton has honed her skills. Milton doesn't just use drumsticks to strike drums and cymbals. She does the little things that get the most out of her equipment and is quck and seemingly tireless. As one example, when the song "She Will" goes into the chant that is the song title, Milton holds a cymbal firmly with one hand while striking the cymbal in order to set the pace of the chant. 
     The band’s main presence is lead singer Jehnny Beth. A trite description of a portrait is to state that the person’s eyes follow you as you move around a room. With Beth, the opposite is more accurate. When she locks eyes with you, there is no desire to move. And she seems to make a point of achieving prolonged eye-to-eye contact with every individual within five feet of the stage. Beth had a good energy for the first eight songs. During the ninth, a mosh pit materialized and her energy was positively affected. She announced after the song that the mosh pit was what she was waiting for and that she appreciated the San Francisco crowd. Yes, last night was one that evidenced just how much the audience affects the performers and their performance.

     Duke Garwood opened for Savages. Jehnny Beth joined Garwood and his bassist John Hostile for the last song in their set. In return, Garwood and Hostile joined Savages toward the end of the setlist shown below. Interestingly (at least to us), Beth and Hostile were a duo prior to formation of Savages.  
1. I Am Here
2. City's Full
3. Shut Up
4. I Need Something New
5. Strife
6. Waiting for a Sign
7. Dream Baby Dream (A Suicide cover song)
8. Flying to Berlin
9. She Will
10. No Face
11. Hit Me
12. Husbands
13. F**kers (with Duke Garwood and John Hostile)
14. Marshal Dear (with Duke Garwood)
No encore.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Made, Unmade and Not Made in China – Song and Band Reviews

     There was another award show this week. We didn’t have time to watch it. But we did read a list of nominees. Among the nominees for an Emmy was the documentary “Unmade in China.” We didn’t see that either. However, we did see a way to segue this complete lack of knowledge into a blog entry.
     The title of the documentary covers one possibility, namely the situation in which a product is “unmade” and this unmaking occurs in China. We want to cover two other situations, namely a song entitled “Made in China” and a band named Not Made in China. And because our favorite blog-related number is “3,” a song from the band Everything Is Made in China is included. 
     Antonio Paul is a duo from Bunbury, Western Australia. The band name is the combination of their surnames, rather than first names. Marc Antonio and Michael Paul provide a high energy style of music. “Made in China” is a good example. Currently, the song is offered as a free download.  

      Not Made in China is a group from Bournemouth, Britain. The members are Tiff Wheaton-Green (guitar and vocals), Gavin Blackhall (bass and vocals), Matt Musial (guitar), and Joe Johnston (drums). Our song of preference is “Easter Weekend.”  The vocals in “Easter Weekend” aren’t demanding, but they are interesting. But we particularly like the Bella Fleck-type guitar work featured between the 1:40 and 2:08 marks. According to their Facebook page, “Originally formed in 2006 as a melancholy guitar/keyboard combo, Not Made In China have since blossomed into the vibrant afro-beat tinged pop quartet…”
     “Easter Weekend” by Not Made in China

     “Perfect” by Not Made in China

Bandcamp (if Soundcloud is not responsive)

     Everything Is Made in China is a trio in Moscow, Russia. The members are Max Fedorov (vocals, guitar, effects), Alexander Bykov (drums), and Phill Premyak (bass, keyboards). “Parade” is currently a free download.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dr. Dog - A Concert Review

     We saw Dr. Dog at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on Tuesday evening.  This is one of our favorite venues in San Francisco for its intimate setting, with a capacity of only 264. It was really amazing they played at such a small venue and we were lucky enough to see them before opening for The Lumineers at America's Cup Pavilion yesterday (Wednesday September 25). One of us had the pleasure of seeing them at Outside Lands in 2012, so it was great to be presented with the opportunity to see them at this particular venue.
     Dr. Dog is a band of 5 unique guys from Phylidelphia, PA, consisting of bass, Toby Leaman, lead guitar, Scott McMicken, rhythm guitar, Frank McElroy, keyboard, Zach Miller, and drums, Eric Slick. Leaman and McMicken share lead vocals but all members contribute, which is something we like to see. They have a surfer indie rock vibe with a strong 60's influence. The band formed in 1998, but more recently have been playing at an array of Festivals and shows while on tour. Dr. Dog is also releasing a new album on October 1st called "B-Room".
     Often times for concerts, we like to review the set list for preparation purposes and they had exceeded our expectations by playing a song from their new album! The crowd was pumped with high energy.  Our favorite song they performed was "Shadow People;" however the crowd favorite seemed to be "Lonesome". Both songs are embedded below.  There were a few individuals dressed as "Dr. Dogs" with costume dog ears paired with white lab coats. Overall, the band played a very passionate and energetic performance.  They played each song with emotion and you could tell that they truly love the music they create and play by their brilliant stage presence. If you ever get a chance to see these guys, we highly recommend it!!
     "Lonesome" by Dr. Dog

     "Shadow People" by Dr. Dog


OCTOBER 31, 2013 UPDATE - Dr. Dog is currently allowing free downloads via Bandcamp. The offer is embedded below (technically, the five songs are acquired for the price of an email address).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From the Mailbox – Evil Eyes Update

     In July, we introduced the San Francisco band Evil Eyes to the Indie Obsessive blog. That entry can be accessed by CLICKING HERE
     Today, we received an email notification that Evil Eyes released a video for their single “Shake the Dust.” We enjoyed the video and appreciated hearing the song again. Below, we pasted the body of the email and we embedded the video.

Hey there,
We just finished a music video for our single "Shake the Dust". It's a 50's dancehall theme, all black and white, shot in a crazy Latvian church in San Francisco. It has greasers, babes, and dust. We thought you would dig it.
Would be killer if you'd like to share it on Indie Obsessive. Hope all is well!

-joe & greg

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

“You Don’t Know Me” by The Polyphonic Spree – A Song Review

     With some groups, it is fair to say that they are literally all over the map, if their touring schedule covers multiple continents in a small number of months. For other groups, it is fair to say that their music is figuratively all over the map, if the genre varies from song to song. Geographically, the music of The Polyphonic Spree doesn’t cover as much territory as some other bands, but the “all over the map” label is justified. Sometimes The Polyphonic Spree is singing Christmas carols, and other times it is covering the grunge band Nirvana (“Lithium”).
      Well, at least one song on The Polyphonic Spree’s recent album has landed in a location that is drawing visitors. The song is “You Don’t Know Me.”  
     The Polyphonic Spree is a Dallas, Texas band led by Tim DeLaughter. The music of the band includes a variety of elements, but particularly features choirs and horns. This is apparent almost from the beginning of “You Don’t Know Me.”

Monday, September 23, 2013

“All Things at Once” by Tired Pony – A Song Review

     We have our television system ready to record tonight's late night show of David Letterman. Tired Pony will perform during the final few minutes of the show, and we plan on taking advantage of the opportunity. The timing of their short visit to the United States is likely based on next week’s U.S. release of Tired Pony’s second album, “The Ghost of the Mountain.”
     Tired Pony is a “supergroup,” which is the common term for a band that is at least partially comprised of artists from other bands. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol was the driving force behind the formation of the band. Other members are Richard Colburn (Belle & Sebastian), Iain Archer, Jacknife Lee, Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Scott McCaughey, and Troy Stewart.
      Lightbody explains that he started the group to satisfy a desire to record some music with a country twinge. The first album grabbed some attention, but it wasn’t until we heard “All Things  All at Once” that we counted ourselves as fans of Tired Pony.
     “All Things All at Once .”

     Another song we like is “Held in the Arms of Your Words.” This song is from the band’s first album.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Summer Is Over – Appropriate Songs

     The calendar is clear - summer is officially over. Well, let’s go with some recent songs that present that message
     The first song is from Paris, France. Agua Roja presents “Summer Ends.”  
This seems to be the only single from Agua Roja, so it will be interesting to see if they can follow through on this promising start. The name of the lead singer is November, so this first song seems particularly appropriate for a non-summer post. The three members are November (vocals), Benjamin Porraz (guitar), and Clement Roussel (keyboards). 
     “Summer Ends” by Agua Roja.

      The second song isn’t as current and it sends conflicting messages. Can a surf rock song really be upbeat when referring to wintertime? I guess it can, if there is still “Summer in the Wintertime.” It’s not included here, but FISHDOCTOR also has a song entitled “Hawaiian Blizzard.” This band is all over paradox. The members are Michael Romano (vocals, guitar), Jared Lindbloom (vocals, keys), Michael Panico (guitar, keys), Alex Shifrin (bass), Brian Garbedian (drums), and Rocco Romanelli (auxiliary percussion).

     “Seasons” is a more recent offering from FISHDOCTOR. A song about “seasons” is appropriate for this post.  It shows some departure by the band from the surf rock genre.


      We first mentioned Vacationer in January. Now, the relevant song is “Summer End.”

     Just so it’s clear that we were careful with the capitalization, we state that the name of this band from West Palm Beach, Florida has four words – the band in Heaven. They enjoy their shoegaze, which is demonstrated in the song “Farewell Summer.”

     If there are shoegaze and surf rock songs, why not Nickleback-like music? Better yet, let’s go with a heavy metal sounding band name and a Nickleback sounding song.
Theory of the Deadman present “End of the Summer.”


     And then there is “Indian Summer” by How Sad. This one is included because it is fun.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Promotional Free Samplers

     It is the last day of summer, so let’s get the Summer Tour Sampler posted today. In reality, the music will sound just as good tomorrow. But we are all about perfect timing, unless we are early or late.
     Paste is offering this sampler for the price of an email address. Tips are appreciated, but not required. Merely click on the arrow in the embedded offering to try the songs. Although the song by The 1975 doesn’t sound like the other material from the group, we recommend that you listen to it. We seem to like everything that Ivan & Alyosha generate. The Hey Marseilles song is too much like Death Cab for Cutie for our tastes, but you may feel differently. Lighthouse and the Whaler is interesting.

     Our favorite song by Ivan & Alyosha is “Running for Cover,” which was part of the 2013 SXSW offer. So, we embedded that offer below. We recommend holding back from making the decision regarding the free download until after hearing the Easter Island song.

     Last year, Paste accumulated songs for a Festival Sessions. It is still available and it includes some readily recognized artists.

     Matt Pond is currently allowing downloads of the EP “THREEEP.” We particularly enjoy “Starting.” 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bastille at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco – A Concert Review

     We were able to see Bastille again last night (September 19, 2013). It could not have gone much better – the band was engaging, the sound system was more than adequate, and the audience was knowledgeable about and respectful of the band.

     Unlike the first opportunity to attend a Bastille concert, Dan Smith was not struggling with damage done to his voice during a festival performance. His voice was able to meet the demands of the Bastille setlist. Nevertheless, it is not easy to state which of the two performances was more entertaining for those in attendance. Sure, the vocals in the show last night were superior. And yes, the setlist was longer. But the July 22nd show at Rickshaw Stop provided much better insights into the personalities of the four members (Chris 'Woody' Wood, Kyle Simmons and Will Farquarson are the other three). As we noted in the review of the July performance (accessible by CLICKING HERE), we are impressed by how genuine these guys are. Moreover, it wasn’t a situation of Smith not being able to sing at the Rickshaw Stop; he just didn’t sing with the same force. Recently, we read an article in which the author argued that it’s the songwriting that “separates the wheat from the chaff,” i.e., separates the successful bands from the many who are trying to experience success. While that position is an overstatement, there is a degree of accuracy, which is one of the reasons the Rickshaw Stop was solid.
Dan Smith passing through

    One of the highlights was Dan Smith passing through the audience. We tried to get a good picture as he went by, but there was too much motion and commotion to get the job done. And his hoodie-up approach didn't help. Such is life.

"Catman" Kyle at the Isle of Wight
In the U.K., Bastille has achieved the notoriety it desires. The album “Bad Blood” did reach the top of the charts. Singles have had commercial success in the U.K. It’s time for the United States’ market to take notice.
This week, Bastille was the musical guest on Jimmy Kimmel. Kyle Simmons seems to only have shirts that feature cats (the shirt he wore for the Isle of Wight Festival was littered with them). But he otherwise seems to be a trustworthy guy.

     Our best recollection of the setlist last night (90% level of confidence) is:
1. Bad Blood
2. Things We Lost in the Fire
3. Overjoyed
4. The Silence
5. What Would You Do? (City High cover)
6. Oblivion
7. Haunt
8. Weight of Living, Pt. II
9. These Streets
10. Laura Palmer
11. Icarus
12. Flaws
13. Get Home
14. Of the Night
15. Pompeii

Other pictures from last night:

Little Daylight - who also opened for Bastille at Rickshaw Stop
Nightmare & the Cat - the first band to perform

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Indie Obsessive Mailbox – The Scholars, Running Red Lights, and Young Rebel Set

     On a somewhat regular basis, the Indie Obsessive mailbox receives invitations to review the music of artists. Many of the songs are interesting, but not blogworthy. Recently three invitations caused the mailbox to hum. In order to share both the communications and the music, we have pasted selected portions of the invitations and have embedded at least one song.

     The first one is from The Scholars. The body of the email message:
I'm Chris and I'm in an Alt/Rock band from Oxford called 'The Scholars'. We are releasing our latest single on iTunes on September 30th and was just wondering if you would be interested in reviewing the track?
If you need any more information, then please don't hesitate to ask!
Many thanks,
Chris Gillett
{The Scholars} 
      "Neon Sky (Stars)" by the Scholars

       The second one of interest is from Running Red Lights of Toronto, Canada.
Hello Indie Obsessive, 

Running Red Lights has been the air we breathe for over seven years now. From the beginning, the band was extremely fortunate to find a receptive audience, especially from influential music industry supporters.

The allure of the industry, and the chance to play music full-time, can have a powerful hold on a musician. We strayed from our musical convictions, but in a stroke of luck we were released. The industry suddenly disappeared. This vanishing we found our integrity, uniformity and honesty. We found our genuine voices.

You can hear our first single ‘Mulberry Love’ at our bandcamp. You can also download the song for free. It features Scarlett and Kevin sharing lead vocals. We’ve made a limited run of 7” lathe cuts that will be only available on our west coast tour.
‘Mulberry Love’ will appear on forthcoming debut LP. Release is set for January 2014.

Love and Music, Always

Running Red Lights

     In “Mulberry Love,” we particularly like the vocal interplay toward the end of the song.

     Because we enjoy the music of Running Red Lights, we are adding “Love Letter Airplanes.”

     An invitation from Young Rebel Set arrived today, which triggered this post.
 Hi there,
Hope things are great with you & you don't mind me contacting,
I just wanted to drop you a line about an ace band we're working called Young Rebel Set - it'd be amazing if there's any consideration you could give to an album review at Indie Obsessive?
You can listen to their second album due for release on Sept. 30 here : do let me know if you'd prefer a download link. 

Young Rebel Set's new album 'Crocodile', is out 30th September on Ignition Records (Ignition Management's label as you prob know), produced by Paul Savage of The Delgado's. They sound a bit like The Coral, if a little less whimsical and more anthemic. Either way, they've got tunes. They received NME support around their debut album a couple of years ago, including a Radar.

Anyway, I've attached more info below - it'd be great to hear your thoughts,
Many thanks,

Rather than the entire album, we are embedding the song that we found most interesting, but that may change as we go through the songs a few more times.
     "If I Was" by Young Rebel Set from Stockton on Tees, Britain.

Wednesday, September 18, 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 songs that qualify as Free, Legal and Recommended (FLR) downloads.
     Uniform hails from Aberdeen, Scotland. The members are Alex Morrison (vocals and acoustic guitar), Greig Chapman (guitars and backing vocals), Gavin Scott (bass and backing vocals), Rankin Lascelles (piano and synths), and Mark Simpson (drums and other percussion). While we would prefer a greater focus on the writing of lyrics and arrangement of vocals, Uniform is a band that more than satisfies those of us who favor guitar bands.
      "Hide Your Eyes" by Uniform

      "Letters" by Uniform - a bonus free download

     Everest Cale is currently offering “Fossils” as a free download. This is a song that has quality vocals and, later in the song, some screaming guitar. The four members of the Brooklyn-based band are Brett Treacy (vocals and Guitar), Jeremy Kolmin (guitar), Aaron Nystrup (bass), and Nate Becker (drums).
     “Fossils” by Everest Cale 

If the “Download” selection is not displayed by your browser, CLICK HERE.

     The Tranq is a five-piece alternative pop band from Örebro, Sweden. Their album drops today, so the free download may be short-lived. The members are Mikael Karlsvärd, Mattias Pehrson, Anna Höjenberg, Kriss Larsson, and Marcus Eriksson.
     "Dissient" by The Tranq

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Arthur Beatrice – An Update

     In a blog entry of June 5, 2013, we introduced the London-based band Arthur Beatrice to Indie Obsessive. The song “Carter” raised our interest and caused us to explore other releases by the band. “Charity” caught our attention. To access the June 5th entry CLICK HERE.
     We are never sure how well a band is doing in other countries. In fact, we don’t always know the level of attention received by particular bands on the other side of the United States. We are hopeful that Arthur Beatrice has a high level of visibility in the U.K. and throughout Europe. But they don’t seem to be on the radar of many music enthusiasts in the U.S. The latest release by Beatrice Arthur may remove them from stealth mode.
     Yes, we like “Carter” and “Chastity.” That’s evident from the fact that we dedicated a blog entry to the band. But “Grand Union” is certainly a cut above. Arthur Beatrice is headed in the right direction and we have our thumb out, hitchhiker style.
     Features of “Grand Union” that we particularly enjoy include the shoegaze guitar work and the band choir.

     As already noted, Arthur Beatrice is based in London. The members of the band are Orlando Leopard (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, organ), Ella Girardot (lead vocals, keyboards, organ) and brothers Elliot (drums, backing vocals) and Hamish Barnes (bass, backing vocals).