Thursday, July 31, 2014

From the Indie Mailbox - Pop Heavy with No Apologies

        Life is getting in the way of music, assuming music is not life. Indie Obsessive apologizes for keeping descriptions brief. [Although some will say Indie Obsessive brevity is a good thing.] But while this blog post will be description-light, it will be Pop-heavy, for which we have no reason to apologize.

     An email invitation to review “Pull the Trigger” hit the mailbox on July 17. The song is the latest by an Australian band – APES. The email identified the band as being from Melbourne, but the band’s Facebook page claims Ballarat as the hometown. The members of APES are Ben Dowd (vocals and guitar), James Toohey (guitar and vocals), Sam Reale (bass and vocals), and Rowan M.T. (drums).
     “Pull the Trigger comfortably fits in the Pop genre. Still, it has its Rock moments, so we agree with the band’s description of the song as being “Heavy Pop.” But APES has a diversity among its songs; other songs by the band are more Garage than Pop.
Quoting the email submission:
     “The new single ‘Pull the Trigger’ highlights Apes' versatility, adding another glorious garage-rock belter to their already impressive catalogue.  The track evokes memories of the energy and pop sensibilities that The Strokes honed in their early days, whilst perfectly embodying the raucous garage rock aesthetic of the likes of Fidlar and Parquet Courts.” 
      “Pull the Trigger” by APES

     Call Me Señor is based in Paris, France. The core of the group has been Alex (guitar) and JB (vocals and drums), but the Facebook page also names Julien (synth). The song “Eyes on the Prize” has the feel of a Capital Cities song, even before the horns enter at the 2:34 mark.
      “Eyes on the Prize” by Call Me Señor (currently a free download)

     "Progress" is the first single from Francisco The Man's debut album titled Loose Ends. The album is due out September 30, 2014. The members of Francisco The Man are Scotty Cantino (vocals and guitar) Néstor Romero (bass) Abdeel Ortega (drums) Brock Woolsey (guitar and keys). They work out of Los Angeles.
     "Progress" by Francisco The Man


     England’s Superfood released “Right on Satellite” on July 28.

Monday, July 28, 2014

“Burden” by Yoke – A Song Review

     Let’s start with two statements. First, in the opinion of Indie Obsessive, the best guitar sound is the one generated by Robert Smith of the band The Cure. We’re not saying Smith is the greatest guitarist; it’s the guitar sound we love. Second, while our short attention span causes us to move away from bands that are no longer Indie, we still appreciate the skills of the established bands.
     So, if a fantasy supergroup were being drafted and we had the first pick, we would take Robert Smith. Then, if the next person selected Coldplay’s Chris Martin as lead vocalist of the fantasy band, we certainly wouldn’t object. Well, based upon their first single, that puts us two-thirds of the way to Yoke, a trio from Sydney, Australia. The single is entitled “Burden” and the members of Yoke are Corin Ileto (keys), Julian Boswell (guitar) and Kyle Linahan (vocals). “Burden” will be a track on Yoke’s upcoming EP, “Jabiluka.”
     According to their press material, “‘Burden’ is an expression of the disconnect and dissociation experienced by many in the age of iPhones and the Internet.”

     “Burden” by Yoke

Lyrics of “Burden” 
Verse 1:
I’m miserable.
Go on sell the truth.
Some say invincible.
Well here’s your living proof.
Go on. Throw me. A lifeline.
Coz that’s what friends should do.
Drop out, I don’t wannabe zero...Guess that’s the burden of youth.
Burden of youth.
The burden.

All our lives we search for the time...
All desire into decline....decline, decline.

Verse 2:
Oh insufferable.
Yeah let’s call a truce.
Oh I’m insatiable,
Guess that’s the burden of Youth
Burden of Youth

All our lives we search for the time...
All desire into decline....decline, decline...decline.

(Instrumental Bridge)

Last Chorus:
All our lives we search for the time...
All desire into divine....divine...divine, All divine.


Choir-Assisted Indie

     There are a number of motivations for blogging about music. At the top of the list is the enjoyment that comes with sharing something that is personally exciting. However, there are drawbacks. One negative is that the self-imposed pressure to post on a regular basis prevents the months-long dives into finding songs that share some feature, such as a particular instrument. We love our hard-earned historical lists.
     We still generate lists, but they are shorter, less historic in focus, and less comprehensive. [Now, doesn’t that statement generate a lot of confidence in the credibility of this blog post???] This post is a short, non-historic and non-comprehensive list of songs that use children choirs. So, it won’t reach back to Pink Floyd’s 1979 release of “Another Brick in the Wall.”
     The Young Wild is a San Diego/Los Angeles band. The members are Gareth Moore, Jarel Paguio, Calen Lucas, Bryan B. William, and Brandon Zedaker. The children's choir-assisted song is "Moment Goes."

     herMajesty is based in New York. According to the frontman of the band, “The motivation to use a children’s choir on the new single came from the idea that we are all struggling to come to grips with the promise of our youth and the reality of adulthood while maintaining a connection to the life affirming energy and sense of wonder of those early years."
       "One by One" by herMajesty (Currently, the band is offering the song as a free download - CLICK HERE.)

     Next is the Orchestral Indie of Marram from Edinburgh, Scotland. The core members are Jamie Chambers, Mike Brogan, and Colin Mclean. But it’s The Light of Love Children's Choir that landed the song on this list. Proceeds from the Transgressive North's 'Everything Is New Project' releases will go to Scottish Love in Action, a charity that provides food, clothing, education, and medical care to children in southeast India.
     “With Us Instead” (fundraiser) by Marram (ft. Owen Pallett)


     Youngblood Hawke is an Indie Pop Band in Los Angeles. They have a couple of contributions.
     “Stars (Hold On)" by Youngblood Hawke

     “We Come Running” by Youngblood Hawke

     Staying in LA, Mr Little Jeans is Monica Birkenes, a Norwegian singer who is now living in Los Angeles. The background vocals in “Oh Sailor” are provided by the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Youth Chorale, a non-auditioned group of singers within the range of 8 to 16 years old.
      “Oh Sailor” by Mr Little Jeans

     “We No Who U R" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
     "Stick Up Kids" by Kool Head - the free download is in the .wav format, if that matters.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

“Get Hurt” by The Gaslight Anthem – A Song Review

     This week, The Gaslight Anthem released ”Get Hurt,” the title track from their upcoming album. Indie Obsessive is “all in.” That is, we love the song and look forward to hearing the rest of the album.
     Almost all Indie bloggers seem to have been formed from the same mold. Indie Obsessive admits to having emerged from that mold. There is a thrill in tracking a band if it progresses from the status of near-unknown to the status of being a success. But after that success is achieved, the interest in the band drops dramatically. Certainly, one reason for the drop is that the thrill of the hunt is gone. But another reason is that second and subsequent albums are normally not as good as debut albums. There isn’t a shortage of theories as to why debut albums are often far superior to a band’s later work (for example, the songwriter of the band is no longer experiencing the type of hardships that motivated the early work). But the strengths and weaknesses of the theories are for a different post.
     Gaslight Anthem doesn’t break the mold. But for us, Gaslight Anthem is a band in a category with few other bands. With each album, we appreciate their work more. A touch of Punk, which is not our favorite. A touch of the late 1950’s/early 1960s, not our favorite. Importantly, The Gaslight Anthem doesn’t stand in one place. Our "album of preference" is their previous one – “Handwritten" from 2012.
     Nevertheless, we weren’t prepared for the song “Get Hurt.” The emotional depth exceeds anything from the band’s past. We will add the Soundcloud version of the song when Gaslight Anthem provides one. Until then, here’s the Youtube version. 

     “Get Hurt"

Friday, July 25, 2014

Beauty Is in the “Eye” of the Ear Holder

     When it comes to musical preferences, “Beauty is in the ‘eye’ of the ear holder.” Thus, a song feature that has a positive effect for one person will cause others to quickly move to another song. And the perception of one music lover may contradict that of another. 
     While listening to a satellite radio station this week, the introduction of a song went something similar to, “I am drawn to this song because it has a unique sound, which provides the variety that keeps music listening interesting.” Well, that intro grabbed our interest, and we wondered what song would follow. The song was one we enjoy – “We Are Done” by The Madden Boys. But if we were limited to twenty words to state the basis for the enjoyment, they would be “Because the song captures the Beck sound, but with enough of a difference to give the band credibility.”
     So, we like “We Are Done” because of its similarity to another band, while another “ear holder” likes the song because it doesn’t sound like another band.  But as Dave Mason said in “We Just Disagree,” way back in 1977:
There ain't no good guy,
There ain't no bad guy
There's only you and me
and we just disagree. 

     The Madden Brothers are Benji and Joel Madden. The are now based in Los Angeles. 
     “We Are Done” by The Madden Boys

Thursday, July 24, 2014

“Paris” – Three Song Reviews

     The song “Paris” by Magic Man has been receiving attention on satellite radio’s Channel 36 (“Alt Nation”). Good song, as we noted in a post that is one of the most popular entries in Indie Obsessive history. But because Indie Obsessive has a short attention span, we are currently listening to other songs with that title. So, this post is dedicated to “Paris.”
     Including the one by Magic Man, here are three songs with the single-word title “Paris.” There are more 2014-relevant songs with the title, but these are the ones that are in our wheelhouse. Still, Little Dragon’s “Paris” should receive a mention, since the band is visiting our area. Little Dragon will be at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California on August 22, 2014.

     The Away Days is a band from Istanbul, Turkey. The previous work by the band has been appreciated by and featured in Indie Obsessive, but “Paris” is their best work. The light guitar and vocals carry the listener along gently for most of the song. Then, we’re delivered to a swell that is far less gentle. “Paris” starts its built at the 1:44 mark, and an increased acceleration occurs at the 1:59 mark. Our favorite feature hits at 2:36, when the processing creates a greater depth of sound by introducing echo to the voice and guitar. While we continue to enjoy the earlier work of The Away Days, "Paris" is their song with the greatest attention to detail in its arrangement and mixing. The band is headed in a positive direction.
     The members of The Away Days are Oguzcan Ozen, Sezer Kic, Berk Tekelioglu and Burak Serter.
     “Paris” by The Away Days


     Scenic Route to Alaska is from Edmonton, Alberta. The three members are childhood friends Trevor Mann (lead vocals and guitar), Murray Wood (bass) and Shea Connor (drums and vocals). We favor bands with a larger population, since more instruments and more voices typically translate to a richer texture. On the other hand, within a small band, a skilled and creative drummer is much more likely to be given the license to showcase his skill and creativity. All three members of Scenic Route to Alaska provide positive contributions to “Paris,” but we particularly enjoy the drum work that steps forward at about the 1:46 mark of the song.      
          “Paris” by Scenic Route to Alaska (the band is currently allowing free downloads)

     Magic Man is a synth-rock band  that hails from Providence, Rhode Island. The band started as a duo, but Sam Lee and Alex Caplow have been joined by Justine Bowe (keyboards), Gabe Goodman (bass) and Joey Sulkowski (drums).
     Magic Man will visit The Independent on November 20, 2014. The band will be joined by Smallpools and Panama Wedding.
      “Paris” by Magic Man

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Walking on Cars and Osca – Band Reviews

     We have no complaints! Indie Obsessive is based in an area of the United States that receives more than its fair share of visits from bands we enjoy. Still, there are those times when we look jealously at pairings of bands in other areas. The above poster triggered one of those bouts with jealousy. Walking on Cars and Osca will share a London stage on September 10. If you favor bands with power vocals, strong piano accompaniment, and attention-grabbing percussion and guitar, then you want to be at the Electrowertz on September 10. The person who put the two bands together knows her/his music.

     Walking on Cars is an Indie Pop/Rock band in Dingle, Ireland. The members are Patrick Sheehy (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Sorcha Durham (piano and vocals), Paul Flannery (bass and vocals), Evan Hadnett (drums), and Dan Devane (lead guitar and vocals). Quoting the press material of Walking on Cars:
      "Having met at school, lead singer Patrick, pianist Sorcha, lead guitarist Dan, bassist Paul and drummer Evan played their first ever gig at a youth cafe in their hometown of Dingle and a year later decided to break out and tour their music around the country. Needless to say it was hugely well received and the band began getting a lot of attention at Irish radio and on the live circuit.
     Now signed to Virgin Records in the UK and for the world, Walking on Cars are about to take their soaring rock anthems to an international audience. The first single from their forthcoming EP is 'Hand In Hand,' a knee-buckling example of rock balladry at its finest as booming guitar riffs collide with indelibly gentle piano melodies."
     "Hand In Hand" by Walking on Cars

     "Don't Mind Me" by Walking on Cars

     "Catch Me If You Can" by Walking on Cars

      The song “Blood” by London’s Osca is like the attractive magician’s assistant, who disappears mysteriously, but reappears later to a round of applause. In February 2014, “Blood” received some attention in the blogosphere. Too quickly, it removed from Soundcloud. Today, it returned.
     The members of Osca are Jack Kenworthy, Dom Potts, Sean Reilly, and  Alex Johnson.
     "Blood" by Osca

Monday, July 21, 2014

“OctaHate” by Ryn Weaver – A Song Reviw

     This is a guest post from Michelle MD. - Indie Obsessive welcomes Michelle and thanks her for the contribution.

     As a San Francisco South Bay Area resident, "Live 105" is the local rock radio station.  A Sunday night feature of the station is "Soundcheck" with Aaron Axelson, where local, up and coming, or Indie artists are highlighted.  A Sunday evening drive home allowed me to hear "OctaHate" by Ryn Weaver for the first time.  While it often takes several listens to get into a song, the lively background percussion and Weaver's voice caused "OctaHate" to immediately catch my attention.
     A little background research revealed that Ryn Weaver is a 21 year old based in New York and Los Angeles.  "OctaHate" is her single debut and has created a buzz since its debut last month.  The song features an impressive writer and co-producer line-up of Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos, Benny Blanco (producer for Katy Perry and Ke$ha), Cashmere Cat, and Carli XCX (Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" and "Boom Clap").
     The song begins with a catchy percussion beat that can then be heard in the background throughout the song.  Weaver's voice enters the track with a description of the heartbreaking nature of a relationship breakup. Each verse describes the feelings of the breakup, always coming back to the chorus lyrics:
I can't take it
From the day I saw my heart start breaking
Go on, save me
I can't take it, can't believe I really lost you, baby
Earth keeps shaking all around
Oh, you let me down
And I can't take it
From the day I saw my heart start breaking
Go on, save me.

      A tweet from Indie label Friends Keep Secrets shows Weaver as having signed, so hopefully we will not have to wait too long for additional singles from Weaver.
    "Octahate" by Ryn Weaver


The Independent in San Francisco – Upcoming Concert Opportunities

     While factors sometimes cause adjustments in the order of Indie Obsessive's list of favorite concert venues, The Independent in San Francisco is always among the top three venues. Often The Independent tops the list. The venue is intimate (capacity is about 500), the floor plan is right (the long side of the rectangular layout is parallel to the stage), the sound system is more than adequate, the employees are professional, and an amazing array of artists is booked despite the small capacity.
     With that background, this post is about upcoming concert opportunities at The Independent, where the events should be sold out already. But tickets remain available.

     The Rural Alberta Advantage will visit The Independent on Monday October 27th (for tickets, CLICK HERE). The visit will follow their release of the album “Mended with Gold." As the band name more than suggests, they are from Canada. However, the Facebook and Soundcloud sites of The Rural Alberta Advantage identity the curren hometown as Toronto, which is in Ontario rather than Alberta.  The members are Paul Banwatt (percussion), Amy Cole (multi-instrumentalist) and Nils Edenloff (singer/songwriter).
     “Terrified” by The Rural Alberta Advantage


     Strand of Oaks is the performance name of Tim Showalter of Goshen, Indiana. Strand of Oaks will perform at The Independent on Saturday, August 30 (for tickets, CLICK HERE). If you were to limit yourself to the cover picture and the first minute of the song “Shut In,’ the assumption would be that the song is well suited for performance on a stage by an acoustic guitar played by a solo singer/songwriter. But at the 1:03 mark of “Shut In,” the assumption is shattered as an electric guitar pushes its way into clear “view.” The same little riff is overpowered by another electric guitar at 2:08. Nicely done, Tim.
     “Shut In” by Strand of Oaks  

     Fink was introduced to Indie Obsessive in May. Despite receiving repeated play that is characteristic of an obsessive personality, we haven’t grown tired of the song “Looking Too Closely;” and we look forward to seeing the song performed live at The Independent on Friday October 10 (for tickets, CLICK HERE).
     The members of Fink are Fin Greenall (vocals and guitar), Guy Whittaker (bass) and Tim Thornton (drums). The piano in “Looking Too Closely” is provided by Ruben Hein.
     “Looking Too Closely" by Fink

     A friend with an impressive amount of music knowledge (David F.) has a friend with an even greater base of music knowledge. The two combined to introduce us to “As Always” by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. We were aware of the band, having first seen them at the Outside Lands Music Festival in 2011. We enjoy the song “Same Mistake.” But “As Always” is a departure from our characterization of the band. Rather than a reliance on the distinctive vocals of Alec Ounsworth, “As Always” showcases instrumental skills. The variation should be a positive for attendees of their live performances, since changes of pace keep setlists interesting.
     BUT BE AWARE: The information at the calendar of The Independent states that the visit is by “Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alec Ounsworth (solo).” This could mean that he is indeed on stage alone or that he is with other musicians but not other members of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. We plan to wait for the start of the tour and then read reviews of the early appearances. For ticket information, CLICK HERE.
     “As Always” by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

     “Same Mistake” by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Sunday, July 20, 2014

“With the Night in our Eyes” by Tyburn Saints – a Song Review

     Tyburn Saints is a Brooklyn-based band with either five or six members, depending upon whether you trust the band’s website or its Facebook page. We’re in favor of giving credit, so the six are Johnny Gimenez (vocals and guitars), Chappy (keys), William McCormack (bass), Justin Lomery (guitar and vocals), Micky Savage (drums), and Andrew Reed (guitar and vocals).
     Quoting their press material, “Tyburn Saints fully embrace the sonic landscapes of shoegaze and dream-pop, with blankets of warmth ushered in by Cocteau Twins-esque guitars (similar also to LSD and the Search for God or The Bethany Curve) juxtaposed against the intelligible, meaningful vocals of lead singer Johnny Gimenez.”
         We aren’t ready to be fully on-board with that assessment. But Indie Obsessive does agree that the guitars distinguish Tyburn Saints from music we enjoy but don’t introduce to the blog. For example, “With the Night in Our Eyes” is good, but not blogworthy until that “final” guitar sound enters at 4:13. It was that guitar that caused us to replay the song at least once a day for weeks.

     “With the Night in Our Eyes” by Tyburn Saints

Saturday, July 19, 2014

“Brown Eyes and All the Rest” by Carnival Youth – A Band Review

     Indie Obsessive has a friend from Latvia - Justas. A couple of months ago, Justas was one of the few people who could have named his favorite Latvian band. That has changed with the fast-growing fan base of Carnival Youth. The band is from Riga, Latvia. The four members are Roberts Vanags, Aleksis Luriņš, and twin  brothers Edgars and Emīls Kaupers.
     But maybe the problem is that Indie Obsessive has never taken the time to explore the Latvian music scene. Edgars and Emīls Kaupers are not the first ones in their family to gain international attention for membership in a Rock band. Their father, Renārs, is the lead singer of Prāta Vētra (Brainstorm), which started in 1989 and is still active. We listened to some of the music of Brainstorm in preparation for this post, and it was solid. Nevertheless, we prefer Carnival Youth.

     “Brown Eyes and All the Rest” by Carnival Youth

     “Octupus” by Carnival Youth

     “Seasons” by Carnival Youth