Monday, June 30, 2014

“We Talked Again” by Bridie Jackson and the Arbour – The Music Video

     Often, music videos are married to a song, so that it would be socially wrong for the video to be with another song. Yes, a relationship that justifies the two announcing that they will enter into a social contract sanctioned by some governmental body (and perhaps some religious body). Obvious examples are videos that splice in shots of the band performing the song. Only slightly less obvious are videos that play out the actions described in the lyrics.
     But this blog post is about a music video that is only dating its song. It’s a good relationship, since the presence of one makes the other more powerful. But this is one of the few videos that can stand strong in isolation from its song.
     The lyrics do include statements that certainly fit the video. Our favorite is “We forgot to be strangers,” which fits a number of scenes. The lyrics also refer to “reaching out for human warmth,” a statement that is best represented by the mother embracing the homeless person at the 1:14 mark.
      Still, this a video in which the six people were selected for skills other than being able to look good on camera. Features we love include:
     1. The effectiveness of the cello in enhancing emotions.
     2. The line “We forgot to be strangers.’
     3. The facial expressions throughout the first 60 seconds, especially:
            a. The subtleness of the nod of the mother at 0:51, when she seems to agree with staying behind while the man moves into what must be a disaster region.
            b. The expansion of the man’s cheeks as he momentarily contemplates moving forward into the danger.
            c. The look of the mother at 0:56.
     4. The hesitancy of the homeless person to return the mother’s embrace.
     5. The business man’s sudden realization of the inappropriateness of taking a cell phone picture of the disaster scene.
     6. The reaction to the heat of a blast at 2:10.
     7. The look of unspoken appreciation from the homeless man at the 3:17 mark.

     The song is “We Talked Again” by Bridie Jackson and the Arbour. According to their Facebook page, they are from Newcastle upon Tyne. The four members are:
Bridie Jackson... Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Belleplates
Carol Bowden... Vocals, Cajon, Percussion, Belleplates
Jenny Nendick... Cello, Double Bass, Belleplates
Rachel Cross... Fiddle, Five String Viola, Vocals, Belleplates

     “We Talked Again” by Bridie Jackson and the Arbour

The ice came, the ice came
and we talked again, we talked again

A child strayed in our neighbourhood
and we talked again, we talked again

Reaching out for human warmth
Long to be loved for the small things once more
Once more

They built fences high
and darkened the sky
We forgot to be strangers
and we talked again, we talked again

Reaching out for human warmth
Long to be loved for the small things once more

Sunday, June 29, 2014

“Headlights” by The White Raven - In the Goldilocks Zone

     The White Raven has released its first single, namely “Headlights.” There isn’t much available on this band, at least not in the United States. So, in an attempt to be creative, this post will include three songs with the title “Headlights.” The one by The White Raven is in the “Goldilocks Zone," since Morning Parade’s is too soft (a little too Poppy) and Eminem’s is too hard (far too many “F bombs’). We’re not saying that the song by The White Raven is “just right,” but it is definitely in that zone.
      "Headlights" begins with an approach that suggests that it's another quality contribution from Volcano Choir. However, the song soon takes a separate direction. The White Raven is from Helsingborgs, Sweden. The members are Sebastian Wijk (Lead vocals and Guitar), Daniel Engdahl (drums), Gabriel Melin Svensson (bass), and Marcus Eriander (guitar). 

    “Headlights” by The White Raven

     “Headlights” by Morning Parade (too soft?)

     “Headlights” by Eminem (featuring Nate Ruess of Fun.)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Little May – A Band Update

     Little May released the song “Dust” this month. Little May is a trio from Sydney, Australia comprising Liz Drummond, Hannah Field, and Annie Hamilton. The strength of the band is its harmonization of the three female voices, each of which could vocally carry most bands.
     “Dust” is more percussion-driven than the 2013 releases from Little May, which shows the flexibility to the trio. The first portion of the song uses the percussion merely as a “feature” that is woven (nicely mixed) with the other features. Then, the center portion allows the percussion to step forward and take more attention, although the vocals remain the defining feature of the band. In the final portion, which starts at the 2:53 mark, the acoustic guitar strumming is percussive in its function. Well played, Little May!!!
     Also embedded below is the song “Boardwalks,” which allows us to know what we could expect if Ben Howard had three twin sisters. The song begins with a Howard-like guitar, but soon takes a turn in a direction departing from Howard. It’s at the 2:26 mark that “Boardwalks” incorporates everything we love about Ben Howard’s music into the sound of Little May. A swell starts at 2:26, the backing vocals soon kick in, and the lead vocals are pure.

     “Dust” by Little May

     “Boardwalks” by Little May 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Singer/Songwriters from London

     There are cities with rich musical cultures and characteristic sounds. The Seattle grunge sound of the late 1980s and early 1990s and the original Nashville sound are two examples. Similarly, there are cities with rich musical cultures without a characteristic sound, but with a disproportionate amount of another characterizing trait. Our example – London seems to be home to more than its fair share of male singer/songwriters.
     Even limiting the list of singer/songwriters to male Londoners who have been featured by Indie Obsessive within the last year, there are very strong entries. Ben Howard, John Newman, and Sam Smith easily fit in a first tier. The Facebook page of Tom Odell identifies London as his current location. Josh Record’s song “The War” is a favorite. Luke Sital-Singh doesn’t receive the attention he deserves. Sivu (James Page) is from St. Ives, but is currently based in London. “Minimal Love” is a song that puts Freddie Dickson on this list with a star next to his name.
     Well, it’s time to add two more names to the list of London-based male singer/songwriters featured by Indie Obsessive – Joel Baker and Daniel James. Below are two songs from each artist. In both cases, one song is from 2014 and the other from 2013.
       One reason for the strength of the Londoners is their willingness to share the spotlight with other vocalists. Our favorite songs from Ben Howard contain powerful backing vocals. This also applies to the music of Joel Baker. The songs “Thorns” and “You’re Not Alone’ are attractive without the male/female blends that are used in the choruses, but the songs become blogworthy when the blends enter.
      For “Thorns,” the backing vocals are used earlier in the song, but the show stopper is quasi-transition at the 2:16 mark. It’s a quasi-transition because Baker doesn’t change his reflective cadence, but the power of the backing vocals gives the impression that all aspects of the song have gone slightly up-tempo. The strings and the hint of banjo only enhance the quality of this track.
     “Thorns” by Joel Baker

     “You’re Not Alone” places greater emphasis on the male/female blend.

      Admittedly, Daniel James is a native of Northern Ireland. But he has moved to London, which qualifies him for this post. Well, that in combination with his ability to generate the type of music we enjoy.  
     According to the press release about Daniel James, he began writing songs only “after the loss of his grandmother, who had been a huge influence during his childhood.”
      “A Lonely Man” by Daniel James

     “We Are on Fire” by Daniel James

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Heard on the Radio – Lyrical Portraits of Home

     It is seldom wise to expose your weaknesses. Imagine a boxer telling an opponent that he has problems defending a left-hand jab. Or that he has a “glass jaw.” In baseball, it would be a mistake for a hitter to reveal a weakness in being able to hit a curve ball. But as usual, music is different. There is no downside to our admitting that we have a weakness for songs that verbally paint a picture of the area the songwriter considers home.

     One of the best lyrical portraits is more than 40 years old. Shawn Phillips released “Landscape” in 1972. But this blog post is about a different example. While in the car yesterday, a satellite radio station played “Ridgetop” by Jesse Colin Young. It is only slightly less poetic than “Landscape” (and only slightly more recent). On the positive side, it uses the saxophone very effectively.
     Bringing the weakness into the current century, Passenger's “Feather on the Clyde” is also embedded below. The song is a combination of a hometown lyrical portrait and a metaphor. The songwriter describes Glasgow, which is divided by the river Clyde, and compares himself to a feather on the Clyde.
      “Ridgetop” by Jesse Colin Young

     “Feather on the Clyde” by Passenger 

"Well there's a river that runs through Glasgow.
And it makes her but it breaks her and takes her in two parts.
And her current just like my blood flows,
down from the hills, round aching bones to my restless heart.

Well I would swim but the river is so wide
and, I'm scared I won't make it to the other side.
Well God knows I've failed but He knows that I've tried.
I long for something that's safe and warm,
but all I have is all that is gone
I'm as helpless and as hopeless as a feather on the Clyde

Well on one side all the lights glow.
And the folks know and the kids go where the music and the drinking starts.
On the other side where no cars go,
up to the hills that stand alone like my restless heart.

Well I would swim but the river is so wide
and, I'm scared I won't make it to the other side.
Well God knows I've failed but He knows that I've tried.
I long for something that's safe and warm.
But all I have is all that is gone.
I'm as helpless and as hopeless as a feather on the Clyde

Well the sun sets late in Glasgow.
And the daylight and the city part.
And I think of you in Glasgow.
Cause you're all that's safe, you're all that's warm in my restless heart."

From the Indie Obsessive Mailbox – It’s June

     There have some quality suggestions in the Indie Obsession mailbox lately. There isn’t time to cover all of the worthwhile submissions, but here are three highlights.

     It’s not our normal mode of operation to post a newly released video of a song we previously featured. However, our attitude about the song “Skydive” does not fit the norm either. So, the video release is merely being used as a convenient excuse to re-promote the song.

    “Skydive” by Astronauts

     Quoting the email submission:
     "Astronauts is the new project from Dan Carney, formerly of critically acclaimed East London alt-folkers Dark Captain. After his former band finished in 2012, at the end of a five-year stint that saw numerous trips to Europe, a single of the week on iTunes US, and a spot in the Guardian’s end of year best albums list, Dan decided to go it alone, albeit enlisting the help of a few friends – most frequently former band mate Michael Cranny – as and when he needs it.
      Debut single ‘Skydive’ arrived in June – a cascading, gently menacing mish-mash of creaking acoustic guitar, bleeps, electronic beats, and breathy vocal harmonies, which tell a tale of escape from constraint and freedom to fly unchecked through the air."

     Sometimes persistence pays dividends. This is not one of those times. Sure, notices regarding the release of an EP by Pixel Fix arrived from multiple email addresses and from social media messaging. But the bottom line is that the lead track, “Lungs,” deserves attention, so the persistence wasn’t a requirement for attracting attention (but it never hurts).
      “Lungs” by Pixel Fix

     Quoting one of the email submisisons:
     "Oxford based band Pixel Fix announce new EP ‘Running Thin’. The EP will be released on August 4th and is available in digital and physical formats (including cassette tape).
     Following on from last EP ‘Fall’ the third delivers the distinctive electronic and
atmospheric sound the young band have been mastering for the past 18 months.
Laced with reverb laden blissful synths, guitar riffs coated with effects and ethereal vocals, ‘Running Thin’ is set to see Pixel Fix continue to make their unique mark on the music scene.
     Lead track ‘Lungs’ is filled with glitchy guitars, up-tempo beats, dreamy synths, and Marcus’ hypnotizing vocals, which all blend together to make a gloriously hook filled track.
     Pixel Fix are Clem Cherry (guitar), Rob Armitage (drums), Marcus Yates (vox / guitar), Jarred Phillips (bass)."

     Thirdly, there is the song “Waters” by Eliza Shaddad. It was the guitar work at the start of “Waters” that initially attracted our attention to the submission. But the voice of Eliza Shaddad maintained the attention.
     Unfortunately, the Soundcloud version of the song is not set to allow embedding elsewhere. There is likely some strategy to this, but we’re not knowledgeable enough to know the benefits. It’s not “Hype Machine friendly.” So, we just embed the Youtube video.
     “Waters” by Eliza Shaddad

     Quoting the email submisison:
     "London based singer-songwriter Eliza Shaddad is proud to present the official music video for "Waters", the intoxicating lead single from her debut EP of the same name (Out on June 16, 2014 via Beatnik Creative). Masterfully directed by Liam Saint-Pierre…
     Born to Sudanese and Scottish parents, Eliza Shaddad is a descendent of a long line of artists and poets dating back to the 1800’s. Eliza’s great great grandfather was James Paterson, one of the Glasgow Boys – a group of artists challenging the style and subject of late Victorian Scottish painting."

Monday, June 23, 2014

“Broken Glass” by Jack Savoretti - A Song Review

     Maybe it’s time to get in the habit of recording the TV series “Grey’s Anatomy” just for the music. Four songs by Jack Savoretti have been used in the series. To its credit, another television series, “One Tree Hill,” was the first to use the music of Savoretti. But he just hasn’t received much traction on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps a U.S. tour would make the difference. We’re late to the Savoretti party, but a concert opportunity in our area could have made a difference.
     Jack Savoretti certainly has ties to other countries. He was raised in London, but moved to a Swiss town on the Italian border (Lugano). He did attend SXSW in 2013. 
   For us, it was a chance meeting with the song “Broken Glass” that established the connection. The lyrics are heartfelt, the song is well arranged, and the vocals are pure.
     “Broken Glass” by Jack Savoretti

     “Lifetime” by Jack Savoretti


Friday, June 20, 2014

“Moosehead” by SPIES – A Song Review

     The term “shoegaze” originated from the appearance of guitarists as they seemed to stare at their feet while manipulating “effect pedals.” Well without question, the song “Moosehead” includes the on-the-fly processing effects that scream “Shoegaze!” But particularly in the final 40 seconds of the song, the changes in processing reach a level that caused us to scurry (there’s a word that never fails to trigger a humorous mental image) to the concert schedule of SPIES. It would be interesting to watch them perform “Moosehead.” Are the effects "foot generated?" Are are they primarily "distortion fed?"
     Turns out, SPIES hails from Dublin, Ireland and they have no immediate plans for a U.S. tour. Ireland? With a song named “Moosehead,” we would have put money on Canada. The members are Michael Broderick (vocals), Conor Cusack (lead guitar), Neil Dexter (rhythm guitar), Hugh O’Dwyer (bass), and Jeffrey Courtney (drums).
     What’s not to like about “Moosehead?” The lyrics are well conceived, particularly in the use of metaphors: “My mind’s a six story building with suits…” and “ My mind’s a freight train…” The shoegaze is “all in,” but is not a distraction. The vocals are solid.

     “Moosehead” by SPIES (the video is embedded below)

     “Distant Shorelines” by SPIES

Thursday, June 19, 2014

UK Rock Radio Offers A Sixth Free Sampler

     Sixteen free songs are being offered by UK Rock Radio. Below is the list of the songs and our recommendations from the list.  The free download file of the sixteen songs is at Dropbox - the URL for the file is identified on the UK Rock Radio at

The songs in the file are:
01. We Show Up on Radar - "The Anchors In Your Heart"
02. Elephant - "Elusive Youth"
03. Postcards from Jeff - "A House"
04. Flags - "This Old House"
05. The Hazey Janes - "If Ever There Is Gladness"
06. Dropkick - "Halfway Round Again"
07. John Matthias - "Jackie Bouvier"
08. Bipolar Sunshine – "Blossom"
09. Fujiya And Miyagi - "Acid to My Alkaline"
10. Labyrinth Ear – "Urchin"
11. Spotlight Kid - "Sugar Pills"
12. Broken Records – "Revival"
13. Saturday Sun - "Down To The Forest"
14. Jake Evans - "This Is Life"
15. Gaoler's Daughter - "How Do You Know"
16. The Moons - "Get Ready"

     "The Anchors In Your Heart" by We Show Up on Radar (we enjoy the group vocals, which are first heard at the 1:03 mark).

     "Revival" by Broken Records

     "Blossom" by Bipolar Sunshine

     "This Old House" by Flags

     "How Do You Know" by Gaoler's Daughter

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Open Letter to Kayne West – Our Apologies

To follow is an open letter of apology to Kayne West.

Dear Mr. West:
     Until today, our focus regarding your Bonnaroo performance of Friday the 13th, 2014, were misguided. My friend and I were among the vast majority of attendees who only considered your arrogant behavior and your inability to establish anything that approached an entertaining and professional performance flow. Admittedly, we viewed professionalism as a positive trait.
       During your performance, we sided with the people around us, who started with a positive attitude, but quickly experienced an attitude adjustment. We laughed when someone commented that the extended breaks between songs were necessary because your ego needed regular off-stage massages from your paid staff. We joined those in our area who ridiculed your quotes of “Where da press at?” and “I Am the Number One M_____F____ RockStar on the planet!.” And we followed the many Bonnarrovians who exited well before the end of your setlist.
     In the days that followed, we laughed at and took pictures of some of the more clever and creative Kayne-bashing graffiti. One of us accepted and proudly wears one of the wristbands that includes your name and an uncomplimentary term beginning with the letter “f.” And we found it entertaining when the Arctic Monkeys started their Sunday show with a promise not to rant.
     But today the light finally went on. It became clear that every conversation about our experiences at Bonnaroo included an enthusiastic description of the Kayne West episode. No one attracted a larger crowd at Bonnaroo and no one generated a stronger or longer lasting festival buzz.
     The organizers of the festival brought the “Kayne West Show” back to Bonnaroo despite the 2008 debacle. The wisdom of the decision was questioned. But if their decision was based on confidence that you have the ability to draw a crowd and create a memorable event, the move was brilliant. And if your job was to deliver upon those expectations, our brief description of your performance style needs to move from “clown-like” to “well executed.”
     We apologize. And it’s likely that Indie Obsessive will not be the only one rendering an apology for doubting you. Where da press at?!!!

     Very truly yours,
      Indie Obsessive

     “Confidence” by The Dodos

     “Confidence” by Connor Youngblood

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Early Morning Rebel – A Band Review

     Being trapped on an airplane without Internet access, it was an opportune time to review the orphaned music that sits as separate icons on the laptop’s desktop. A couple of songs were discarded. A greater number were “unorphaned” into a suitable folder. But the icons of two songs were left on the desktop for introduction to Indie Obsessive. One song was “Shallow Breath” by Early Morning Rebel.
     So, the research kicked in this morning. Early Moring Rebel is a duo based in Los Angeles. The members are Nathan Blumenfeld-James and Dustin Bath. They gained some traction when “Life Boat” was played during an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but we prefer at least three other songs. Still, hats off to the music coordinator of Grey’s Anatomy (Danny Lux) for regularly finding deserving Indie performers.
      We haven’t settled on the song we would select if the “Lords of Indie” were to set a limit of one song per band. There are two leading candidates, and a third that is slightly behind, Therefore, we embed all three.  

      "Tell Me What It Matters" by Early Morning Rebel

     “Shallow Breath” by Early Morning Rebel - Currently, this is being offered as a free download

     “War on Love” by Early Morning Rebel - Currently, this is being offered as a free download

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bonnaroo Hiatus – Day One

Contributed by Pittmoss - Pat B.
     Indie Obsessive is taking advantage of the joys of Bonnaroo. So, the posts will be skeleton-like or will be non-existent. We apologize.
     The best experience on Thursday – The Preatures. Sometimes they channel The Pretenders, sometimes its mello, but it's all good.

    The biggest surprise – Cass MCCombs with the guitars.       

     The band that has come the furthest in the last two years - Caveman   

     Best chance meeting - Tim Baker & Adam Hogan of Hey Rosetta!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Considering Early Day Festival Opportunities

     So, you’re on a plane heading toward Tennessee and you’re looking at the schedule for the Bonnaroo festival. What bands that play prior to 6:00 pm are of greatest interest? The pre-six opportunities are the best ones, since they don’t require that a festival-goer arrive an hour in advance in order to have a suitable vantage point. A suitable position is one that allows a fan to feel she/he has an insight in the performance personalities of the members.
      On Thursday, The Preatures play at 3:00. We haven’t seen them live, but have seen the televised performace from SXSW in March. Love their energy and the stage presence of the female lead singer. What’s her name? Can’t check now, remember you’re on a plane.

     Sam Smith is on early on Friday. After  he wowed the U.S. audience with his performance  on Saturday Night Live, how can he be an early performer. That’s a mistake.

     Rudimental on Thursday at 3:15. Oh wait, this is the original schedule and Rudimental has since been removed from the lineup. This is the second time that has occurred this year, if you bought tickets to see them with Ellie Goulding in San Francisco. Rudimental is like the magician’s assistant – both disappear.
     Vintage Trouble is one of the first performances on Friday. Even if it’s not your style of music (21st century James Brown), this is worthwhile. The energy is non-stop and infectious.
     Ben Howard at 4:30 on Friday. Why isn’t this guy creating more buzz in the U.S. Even if he only had “Keep Your Head Up” in his discography, ya gotta go.

     Cake on Saturday. This band is entertaining even when they aren’t playing a song. And there’s a trumpet!
     Typhoon before Cake. Gotta love those bands that have so many members that it’s clear they aren’t in this just for the money. “Dreams of Cannibalism” is their best and a treat in concert.

     HAERTS on Saturday – early? Come on United States music lovers. How many bands are we underappreciating? Our excuse is that no one can be aware of even half the great songs available to our ears. There just isn’t enough time.

    Capital Cities on Sunday. Is it possible to see these guys too often?