Friday, February 28, 2014

Cello – The Early Symptoms of Obsessiveness Have Surfaced

     Look out, we’re headed into another instrument-based obsession. This one shouldn’t cause people to start scattering in all directions (as we witnessed during our “Bagpipes-in-Rock phase). So far, only mild symptoms of a cello obsession have become visible. As an example, while listening to the car radio recently, an initial decision to change the station was interrupted by the thought, “Wait! Is that a cello?”
     We’re not prepared to present a top 10 post of cello-featured Indie songs, as we did with the trumpet during the previous obsession (CLICK HERE, if interested). But here are three songs that fit the theme. The cello is perhaps the best instrument to reflect seriousness, and these songs are consistent with that fact. To show the other personality of the instrument, embedded at the bottom of this post is the latest video upload from the 2Cellos, a duo from Croatia. 

     Solander is a duo based in Malmö, Sweden. They are Fredrik Karlsson and Anja Linna, who are supported in concert and on recordings by Albin Johansson and Adam Hjertström. In January 2014, Solander released the album “Monochromatic Memories” and announced a few concerts in the U.S., including a visit to SXSW.
     “All Opportunities” by Solander

     The second song is “City of Dreams” by Ruben Haze, who hails from Melbourne, Australia. Admittedly, we cannot find confirmation that the string instrument in “City of Dreams” is indeed the cello. Nevertheless, it has the sound that attracts our budding obsession, so it is included here.
     “City of Dreams” by Ruben Haze

     “Hypericum” by Gem Club is an example of effective use of the cello to create a particular atmosphere. In the song, the cello cooperates with the piano and vocals to “link beauty and sadness.” Gem Club is in Somerville, Massachusetts with three band members, namely Christopher Barnes, Kristen Drymala, and Ieva Berberian.
     “Hypericum” by Gem Club

     However, the cello isn’t necessarily somber, as the recent release form 2Cellos shows. This is a Croatian duo formed of Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Kodaline and LP – A Concert Review

Bottom line concert review: Kodaline was even better than expected and LP was off-the-chart unexpectedly good.

     We were prepared for the Kodaline portion of the evening and looked forward to their performance. But life got in the way of pre-concert listening to the opening artist, beyond hearing one song by “LP.” So, we didn’t know what to expect when a small statured woman with a Jim Morrison hairstyle stepped onto the stage with her ukulele, a drummer and a guitarist. With the first song, there was a “wow moment” that was followed by a decision to put some effort into gaining a better understanding of the relationship between voice strength and human physiology. A person with the outward appearance of LP should not be able to generate such vocal power (and whistling purity).
      Perhaps in order to appreciate LP, you need to see a performance. So, below is the video of LP on Craig Ferguson.   

     If you don’t know LP, but you recognize the song, it’s probably because a snippet was on a Citibank commercial that was so popular that the commercial was overexposed.

     LP is short for Laura Pergolizzi. Staying with initials, LP was born in NY, but is now a resident of LA.
     Because of LP, it would have been difficult to complain about the evening if Kodaline had been disappointing. But Kodaline delivered too. They are an Irish band comprising Stephen Garrigan (lead vocals, guitar, keyboard and harmonica), Vinny May (percussion and vocals), Jason Boland (bass and vocals), and Mark Prendergast (guitar, vocals and keyboard). Yes, they all sing, and they sing well. In fact, during one song, Boland took the vocal spotlight.
     The debut album of Kodaline dropped in June 2013. Below is a video from the performance (Thank you to the person who uploaded the video). 

     “Love Like This” by Kodaline

     “High Hopes (in session)” by Kodaline - volume adjustment needed

     “Levitator” by LP

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Blaudzun – A Review

      Blaudzun is the performance moniker of Johannes Sigmond, who is based in Arnhem, The Netherlands. The name “Blaudzun” originates from a Danish cyclist of the 1970s, but this Blaudzun regularly performs at soldout concerts in Europe. Unfortunately, his visit to SXSW in 2013 didn’t provide the same type of traction in the United States. Perhaps the release of the upcoming album (his fourth) will do the trick. The album drops in Europe on March 7, 2014.
     We are fans of the song “Flame on My Head” from the previous album (“Heavy Flowers”), but prefer the title track of the upcoming release, “Promises of No Man’s Land.” A press release states that his approach changed for this album. According to the press release:
     Sigmond spent more than ever time on his lyrics, which were written much later than the music. “That was new to me. I always work with syllables and sounds as I try to come up with words. It's a kind of gibberish, like speaking in tongues. Phrases and rhymes emerge from these melodic fragments in an organic way. I used to continue that process until phrases and stories arose, but with the songs on the new album I wanted to hold on to wordless melodies as long as possible. I was able to arrange songs differently because I could keep reason and content separate from the musical process for a long time. I’m more and more aware that words can destroy the music, that’s why I took my time to come up with the right lyrics. And although this may sound strange, it doesn’t mean my lyrics have become more important than before.”
      “Promises of No Man’s Land" by Blaudzun - the title track of the new album

      “Flame on My Head" by Blaudzun - from an earlier album.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Secretary – A Band Review

     Secretary is a band based in Seattle, Washington. They have a three-song EP that sometimes screams “Radiohead” (“Words”), but at other times announces that Secretary has its own direction (“The Only Ones”). They state that one feature that distinguishes them is “the band’s instantly identifiable gold-sparkle, tricked-out Fender Rhodes.”
     The members of Secretary are Craig Ellison Wolf (vocals, guitar), Em Maslich (bass, vocals), Max McSimov (guitar), and Luke Yanz (multi-instrumentalist). But the KEPX bio on the band refers to Craig as “Craig Michael Gurwich” and their Bandcamp page also refers to Jill Zirkle-Rhodes (vocals), and Chuck Kerr (drums) ((insert bad pun about the band needing a competent secretary here).

      While all three songs on the “Secretary” EP are highly recommended, our song of preference is “The Only Ones.” It is a difficult task to identify which feature in “The Only Ones” is our favorite. For a short period of time, the favorite feature is the entrance of the percussion and backing vocals at the 0:54 mark of the song. But then the 1:46 mark arrives - the first time the female vocals step forward to harmonize with the male voice. Wait, what about the isolation of the guitar starting at 3:27 – we enjoy the slow play in which the guitar strings are allowed to vibrate with clarity.
     “The Only Ones” by Secretary

     “Words” by Secretary

     “I Know It's Wrong” by Secretary

Monday, February 24, 2014

The New Cossacks – A Band Review

     Thanks to another blogger, we were introduced to a song by The New Cossacks from Madrid, Spain. The most recent release of the band is a four-track EP entitled “Anhedonia.” The title is a departure from their prior approach to naming EPs, since it is not a Roman numeral. The band Chicago is known for entitling albums by merely increasing the Roman numeral count after the band name (e.g. Chicago V, Chicago VI…). The New Cossacks went a step further, using just the Roman numeral count for three EPs.
     Unfortunately, the songs from “Anhedonia” are not available on Soundcloud. On the other hand, the Bandcamp page is an offer of free downloads. We reviewed the older material of The New Cossacks. Applying what we heard from the past releases to the four songs of “Anhedonia,” we like the direction of the band. The emphasis remains on the guitar, but The New Cossacks are far more effective in the use of their vocalization.
     The members of The New Cossacks are Lara Blanco (guitars), Juanjo Gonzalez (guitars & vocals), Roberto Marmolejo (drum), Adrián De Pedro (bass) and Dani Ruiz (synth, piano, guitar & back vocals). Embedded below are our favorite two songs from the most recent EP (Anhedonia” from Bandcamp) and our favorite two songs from prior releases (from Soundcloud).
     "Raw Land" by The New Cossacks
     "Truth" by The New Cossacks

     "Rabid Animal" by The New Cossacks

     "Sand" by The New Cossacks - an instrumental

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cleanin’ Out My Closet (of Deserving Songs)

     When he released “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” in 2002. Eminem was referring to emotional baggage, rather than songs he intended to discuss. But we have had four songs on “repost” in our Soundcloud account for nine months or more. These four are orphaned in the sense that we haven’t worked them into any theme and they don’t have features in common with each other. So, today the songs get introduced to Indie Obsessive, as they should have been nine months ago. Nothing is being discarded, but we're cleanin' out our closet.
     The Sleepover Disaster offers the shoegaze-heavy “Funnel Cloud.” These guys are based in Fresno, California. The members are Luke Giffen (vocals, guitar), Eric Peters (bass, backing vocals), and Vince Corsaro (drums).

     Stay Bless is Londoner George Cassavetes. The song is “Always.” Admittedly, the feature that first captured our attention was the eerie feeling that we knew the section of song from 1:42 to 2:16. It took time, but it finally hit – Meatloaf/Celine Dion singing “It’s All Coming back to Me.” Still, we continue to like the song well after the realization hit.

     Clap for Daylight is based in Decatur, Georgia. The four members are Greg Vilines, Alex Arnett, Michael Tucker, and David Oliver. The song “Evolver” also has vocals that remind us a song from the 1970s (or early 80s?), but we can’t figure this one out. But it doesn’t matter, since we like the song.

     The last of the four is “Lake” by Pixel Fix, a band from Oxford, U.K. The members are Rob Armitage (drums), Clem Cherry (guitar), Jarred Phillips (bass), and Marcus Yates (vocals).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire – Five More Appearances on Craig Ferguson

     Scotland-born Craig Ferguson, the late night host, is on a mission. He wants the U.S. to appreciate the music of Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire. More often than not, Ferguson’s show doesn’t include a musical guest. That’s why his show is not included in the column on the left, where the musical guests appearing on the other late night shows are identified. But on February 17, Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire made an appearance.
     We recorded the show, although we didn’t know anything about Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire. After watching the recording the next day, we gained an appreciation for the band and the musical tastes of Craig Ferguson. Well, Ferguson invited the band to appear on all five shows next week (February 24-28). Set the recorders!
     Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire is based in Glasgow, Scotland. The members of the band are Roddy Hart (vocals, guitars, piano), Scott Clark (bass, vocals), Scott Mackay (drums), John Martin (guitars, vocals), Geoff Martyn (piano, organ, vocals), and Gordon Turner (guitars, keys, vocals).
     While in Los Angeles, the band performed at The Hotel Café. The song “In My Dreams I’m Always Losing” was recorded and uploaded to Soundcloud. At least for now, it is being offered as a free download.

    "Bright Light Fever" by Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire

Reflective Music – Various Songs and Artists

     Sometimes a number of songs just seem to fit together. So, you burn a mixed-tape (shouldn’t it be a “mixed-disc?”) and a month later you either remain pleased with the results or ask, “What was I thinking?” The fit is subjective. But at least for today, these are five songs that belong together because they deserve far more attention than they are receiving, because they feature a purity in their vocals, and because they encourage reflective thinking.
.     Aquilo offers “You There.” This is a U.K. duo based in Silverdale. They are Tom Higham and Ben Fletcher (ages 22 and 18, respectively). The vocals are forlorn, working well with the piano at the start and the more inclusive instrumentation as “You There” progresses.
      "You There" by Aquilo

      Another song that uses the piano effectively is “Wild Again” by The Bright Smoke. The piano and vocals are from Mia Wilson, who also plays guitar. The other member of The Bright Smoke is Quincy Ledbetter, who doubles as the producer and guitar/bass player. The Facebook page states:
     "The Bright Smoke is the creation of Brooklyn-based musician, Mia Wilson. Formed in 2012 alongside producer/musician Q. Ledbetter, the sound blends blues, folk, rock and ambient experimentation with uncensored and personal lyrics that are both melodic and haunting."
      “Wild Again” by The Bright Smoke


      The third song carries us to a third continent. The Trouble with Templeton hails from Brisbane, Australia. The five members are Thomas Calder (vocals, guitar), Hugh Middleton (lead guitar, background vocals), Betty Yeowart (keys, background vocals), Sam Pankhurst (bass, background vocals) and Ritchie Daniell (drums). “Soldiers” is a recent release, but also embedded is “Bleeders,” which surfaced a couple of years ago.
     “Soldiers” by The Trouble with Templeton

     “Bleeders” by The Trouble with Templeton

     Keaton Henson is a singer/songwriter in London. Currently, he is allowing NoiseTrade downloads of the five-track EP “Birthdays: A Fragment” (embedded below)  But it is the song “You” that best qualifies for this post.
     "You" by Keaton Henson

Friday, February 21, 2014

Public Service Broadcasting with Kiev – A Concert Review

     Bottom line concert review: We recommend that you see these bands, if you have an opportunity.
     We almost made the mistake of being overly concerned about being disappointed. The concern was that Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) could not accomplish in a live setting what they are able to accomplish in their music videos. When PSB was first introduced to Indie Obsessive, it was noted that they play their music to archived video footage, such as World War II footage. Can that be interesting at a concert? Can the synchronization between the footage and the music be accomplished? The answers are yes and yes.
     The members of PSB are Wrigglesworth (percussion) and J. Willgoose, Esq. (guitar, banjo, computer and other electronic equipment/instruments). They played the “nerd” roles effectively. Wrigglesworth walked onto the stage in a dress shirt and tie. Behind him was Willgoose, dressed in a sport coat, plaid shirt and bow tie. Both wear black rimmed glasses and neither spoke during the performance. Instead of speaking, the computer was used to thank the audience, to ask how the attendees were doing, and to make periodic references to being thankful for being in [insert city name here].
     Truthfully, during the first few songs, the thought was that this style of entertainment relied upon the audience “getting it,” and there was some disappointment in the San Francisco crowd. A healthy percentage of people came to see Kiev, including the family of the lead singer’s fiancée. But the people in the Bay Area know their music and are receptive to talent that doesn’t fit the norm. The audience became increasingly louder and more appreciative.
     Going in, our favorite song was “London Can Take It.” But by the end of the evening, the song “Everest” was easily the favorite.

     The opening band was Kiev from Orange County in Southern California.  The five members are Andy Stavas (piano, keyboards, saxophone), Brandon Corn (drums), Derek Poulsen (bass), Alex Wright (piano, keyboards), and Robert Brinkerhoff (guitars, vocals). Some of the music has a Radiohead feel, but other songs depart from that feel. 
     The performance by Kiev was enjoyable for a number of reasons, including Brinkerhoff’s ability to connect with the crowd (and his soon-to-be in-laws). But we admit to being particularly drawn to the songs that included the saxophone.
     Our personal favorites are “Failing Bough” and “3rnd.”


Sorry Wrigglesworth, we didn't capture you at your best 
J. Willgoose Esq.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Arthur Beatrice and Bear’s Den – New Material

     In our minds, Arthur Beatrice and Bear’s Den are almost insepartely linked. We became aware of the two bands at about the same time (within a couple months anyway), their songs were ranked one and two in the Indie Obsessive best songs of 2013, we are scheduled to see both of them in the near future, and their performances will be at the same San Francisco venue (The Chapel). And they are both based in London. So, referencing them within a single post seems natural. Both have recent releases.
     There is some evidence that Bear’s Den brought down NoiseTrade today. A media splash (emails mostly) made it known that “Bear's Den have created a special tour sampler containing two tracks from each EP available exclusively to NoiseTrade for a limited time!” So, we went to the offer and repeatedly tried to take advantage of the offer. One stall after another occurred. Finally, we received an explanation by the following notice:
Whata ya mean, we got nuttin'! Moreover, attempts to go to other NoiseTrade sites have been slow today. Nice work, Bear’s Den (if you’re actually the cause, we are pleased about the well-deserved attention you are receiving).
     We’re not optimistic that it will be any better tomorrow, so we’ll be patient in waiting for the March release of the album. Until then or until the offer disappears, we can stream the song “Writing on the Wall” ((click the arrow in the embedded offer).

     Our favorite is still "Sahara"

     Next week, Arthur Beatrice releases their debut album “Working Out.” In preparation, they have been adding songs on Soundcloud. At least one seems to arrive each day. Songs that we haven’t already introduced to Indie Obsessive are embedded below.
     "Late" by Arthur Beatrice

     "Councillor" by Arthur Beatrice

     "Singles" by Arthur Beatrice

     "Grand Union" by Arthur Beatrice - We have posted this one before, but not including it would be a sin against our nature.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Luca – From the Indie Obsessive Mailbox (Part V)

     Luca hails from Bemidji, Minnesota. Its members are Sean Murphy, Isaac Parthun, Melody Becker, Brian Oakes and Micah Eriksson. Beyond that, the only thing that we know about the band is that they are producing music we enjoy. Our personal favorites are “I’m Afraid” and “Tomorrow’s December.”
The email invitation to consider the band read:
Hi Indie Obsessive!
      I'm Brian Oakes, I'm part of an indie-folk band named Luca, we just self-released our first album titled, "I'm Afraid" we think that what we have is good, and we want other people to hear it!  Depending on the success of this album we want to gauge what next steps we will take, possibly starting to play more shows and get into a studio to get quality recordings.

Brian, if Luca plays in San Francisco, please let us know.
    Currently, Luca is generously allowing free downloads (“name your own price”) of their seven-track album that includes the two songs embedded below. The Bandcamp link for the download is Alternatively, if you prefer Noisetrade, the album can be downloaded by going to

      “I’m Afraid” by Luca

      “Tomorrow's December” by Luca

Racing Glaciers and Olivia Sebastianelli – From the Indie Obsessive Mailbox (Part IV)

     The Indie Obsessive post of February 3rd was dedicated to glaciers. It included two songs by the U.K. band Racing Glaciers. A few days later, we received a thank you and a heads-up that more was on the way. Specifically, songs from Racing Glaciers and another artist were to be released. The notice was:
     “Two tracks out next week; Racing Glaciers 'Moths' (mon/tues) & Olivia Sebastianelli 'Sunset' (thurs/fri).“ 

      Well, “Moths” is still not on Soundcloud, but it is available via Bandcamp. Better yet, “One Day We Will Lose Everything” is also available, and we might prefer it to the guitar-driven “Moths” (we’re at our greatest vulnerability when an Indie band breaks out the horn-guitar blend). Best yet, we also enjoy the song by Olivia Sebastianelli.
     Repeating the February 3 introduction:
     Racing Glaciers is from Macclesfield, Britain. The members are Tim Monaghan (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Danny Thorpe (guitar, backing vocals), Matt Scheepers (bass, Trumpet, backing vocals), Simon Millest (guitar), and Matt Welch (drums).
     “Moths” by Racing Glaciers

     “One Day We Will Lose Everything” by Racing GlaciersFacebook:

     Olivia Sebastianelli is a Londoner with vocal power. 

Red Sky – From the Indie Obsessive Mailbox (Part III)

     We don’t typically cover Metal bands, because other bloggers have a greater appreciation for the genre and are much better at describing the music within the genre. The same statement applies to the Rap genre. But to paraphrase Miles Davis, good music is good music regardless of what kind of music it is. So, we introduce Red Sky to Indie Obsessive.
     The email invitation to consider the video for the song “Il Flauto” by Red Sky was met with skepticism, since it referenced Rap. Specifically, the description stated, “Red Sky is a masked guitar player and a rapper, he merges most of all Rap and Rock, trying to destroy musical boundaries and create something unique and original with the best parts from every genre.” The skepticism didn’t stop us from heading toward the video. But wait, the video is full of vague sexual contact. The sexual content is not stuff we run away from, but we don’t gravitate toward it either. Still, “Play on video!” As we listened, it’s the guitar work that outweighed everything else. 
     “Il Flauto” by Red Sky from Milan, Italy.

          “Stelle” by Red Sky 

     Since we’re in the neighborhood (in terms of genre), let’s visit some friends, namely Esli and the music of Ballerina Black. The members of this Los Angeles-based band are Bobby Moynahan (guitar, vocals), Esli Sugich (bass, guitar), Scott Eton (keyboards, guitar) and Romeo Mendoza (drums).

     The Ballerina Black song that first got our attention (January 2013) was Birth of a Felony.” 

     A more recent offering from Ballerina Black includes “Red Pencil.”