Friday, July 31, 2015

“Kryptonite” (Ah Yeahh Remix) – A Song Review

     This blog normally stays clear of remixes, since other blogs are more skilled at selecting and discussing remixes. “Kryptonite” by DJ Ah Yeahh is the exception. Why? Well, because it properly balances the contributions of the remix artist with respectful treatment of the original work.
     The beginning segment of “Kryptonite” is the work of DJ Ah Yeahh. It ends with a short lull (starting at 1:06). The 3 Doors Down song then enters and while it is undeniably a remix, the skills of the original artist are not pushed to the back of the stage. In fact, starting at 3:14, it’s DJ Ah Yeahh who temporarily moves to the side by contributing beats but nothing more. Toward the end of “Kryptonite,” 3 Doors Down takes its turn as the artist that steps aside. Again, the song has a proper balance between the contributing artists (using our definition of "proper balance").
     DJ Ah Yeahh is currently based in New York, after moving from Italy at the age of 14.

     “Kryptonite” (Ah Yeahh Remix)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Outside Lands 2015 Preparation – The Sunday Bands

     This post is dedicated to the bands scheduled for the final day of the 2015 Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco, which occurs on Sunday August 9. 

     The post for the Friday performances is available by CLICKING HERE
   The post for the Saturday performances is available by CLICKING HERE

     The Sunday schedule includes the song that I hope not to miss. Shortly after noon, DMA’s will perform “Delete.” The vocal layering toward the end of the song may not be repeatable in a live setting, but we are looking forward to the effort. Two of us heard Slightly Stooopid at Bonnaroo last year, but we were too far away from the stage to fully appreciate their live show. That will not happen at Outside Lands.
     Sunday is more balanced than Saturday, although there is an emphasis on Soul (the show is "Souled Out"). The Sunday schedule includes:
  1. Pop – Nate Ruess (formerly of Fun) and Givers
  2. Soul – St. Paul and the Broken Bones (the male version of Alabama Shakes), Benjamin Booker.....
  3. Heavy Rock – METZ
  4. Classic – Elton John
  5. Current Exploded Artist – Sam Smith
  6. House/Dance – Axwell Λ Ingrosso (a subset of Swedish House Mafia)
  7. Electronic – Odesza, Dan Deacon
  8. Bluegrass/Folk/Blues – The Devil Makes Three, Shakey Graves

     Below is a Soundcloud playlist of songs organized on the basis of start times on Sunday. The playlist currently includes 31 songs, but we may add to the list as the festival approaches. Some live performances of songs are also embedded below.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

“Sister of Pearl” by Baio – A Song Review

    Baio is Chris Baio, the bassist of Vampire Weekend. Baio claims the restlessness between tours motives his jumps into solo releases. He tends to align himself with the Dance genre, which is not a strength of Indie Obsessive. However, the latest release, “Sister of Pearl” deserves attention. The song is strong from the start and becomes blogworthy at the 3:08 mark. That is the point at which the three-note vocals collaborate with a guitar hook in an attention-grabbing manner. OK, you’re right the collaboration also occurs earlier in the song. The difference is that in the early occurrence, the three-note vocals have a sequence of low-high-low, while in the later occurrence it starts with that low-high-low sequence and shifts to low-high-higher at 3:38. Well played Baio.

     Depending on your source, Baio either lives in London or Bronxville, New York. Likely, solo artist Baio is based in London, while Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio is based in New York [he is the Clark Kent of bass players]. Baio will attend the 2015 Treasure Island Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area in October. An album is due in September 2015. 

     “Sister of Pearl” by Baio


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Outside Lands 2015 Preparation – The Saturday Bands

     This post is dedicated to the bands scheduled for the second day of the 2015 Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco, which occurs on Saturday August 8.
   The post for the Friday performances is available by CLICKING HERE
   The post for the Sunday performances is available by CLICKING HERE.

     If you are a fan of Electronica, Saturday will be a good day for you. Better yet, if your preference is a combination of Electronica and Rap/Hip Hop, this will be one of the better days in the festival’s history. Other genres are represented, including the Pop of Waters and Misterwives, the old-school Rock of Billy Idol, and the Garage Rock of Black Keys. Still, the “Trio of S” (Synthesizer, Sampler and Sequencer) will carry the day.
     We admit to preferring the Friday and Sunday schedules, but that's a result of genre bias.

     Below is a Soundcloud playlist of songs organized on the basis of start times on Saturday. The playlist currently includes 30 songs, but we may add to the list as the festival approaches. Some live performances of songs are also embedded below.

Monday, July 27, 2015

BirdPen – A Band Review

     Some bands execute crescendos better than others. BirdPen excels at elongated crescendos. “Alive” is among the tracks on their 2015 album, “In the Company of Imaginary Friends.” The second half of the song has a crescendo that starts at about 2:35 and continues for more than a minute (gaining momentum with help from the drums at 3:32).  Another song on the album is “Lifeline,” which includes a more subtle but even longer energy build.
     “Only the Names Change” was on a previous album, but it is remarkable for its almost full length crescendo. The Soundcloud waveform visually exhibits the audio characteristic.
     BirdPen is a British band formed of Mike Bird (guitar, keyboards) and Dave Pen (vocals, guitar, keyboards). The Facebook page states that they perform with “with Doom brother musical Friends Steve 'Smiley' Barnard, Tim Slade, Mike Breach and The Seagull” (James Livingstone Seagull).

     “Only the Names Change” by BirdPen

     “Alive” by BirdPen

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Colour the Atlas – A Band Review

     To Colour the Atlas and their representatives, we apologize. To fellow music lovers, we caution against making the same mistake we did. Indie Obsessive received a number of email invitations to review songs and videos of the band (You can lead a horse to water…), and we were too hurried to fully appreciate the music (…,but you can’t force it to drink).
     Yesterday, that changed. The realization began with the song “Scared.” The harmonization of female and male voices is the feature that stands out. The harmonization enters after a short intro and is present through most of the song. Toward the end of the song (starting around the three-minute mark), the vocals cooperate with the instruments in a crescendo.
     Attention then went to the song “Come Alive.” Surprisingly, we enjoyed the song as much as “Scared,” but for different reasons. It’s the guitar in “Come Alive” that first attracts and then holds the interest of the listener. The percussion sometimes establishes a pace and energy unmatched by either the guitar or the vocals, which is interesting as well.
     The most recent Soundcloud upload of Colour the Atlas is “I’ll Be Your Lover.” The band identifies its genre as “Alternative Trip-Hop.” It’s this song that best exhibits the percussion that characterizes the genre.  

      The members of Colour the Atlas are Jess Hall (vocals, keys), Alex Stone (guitar, vocals), Andy Vincent (bass) and Stefan Pysanczyn (drums). Their press release states that they are all aged 21 and have been a band since they were in their mid-teens. Colour the Atlas is based in Swindon, UK.
      “Scared” by Colour the Atlas 

     “Come Alive” by Colour the Atlas

     “I’ll Be Your Lover" by Colour the Atlas

Quoting the press release for Colour the Atlas:
“Amethyst” is the new EP from Colour The Atlas, released 29th June via. Hi Tone Music [U.S. release is in September]. Recorded at Lighterthief studios in their hometown of Swindon with producer Stuart Rowe, ‘Amethyst’ displays a band growing in confidence, depth and maturity. Lead track “Scared” features additional production by Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, James Bay), who became a huge fan of the band after working with them on the NCS charity single “Come Together” last year.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Outside Lands 2015 Preparation – The Friday Bands

        The first day of the 2015 Outside Lands Festival is Friday August 7. The motivation behind the post was to provide an incentive in organizing our thoughts and attendance strategy. We hope it helps others.
 1. The Panhandle stage has the weakest sound system of the four stages, but it provides the best opportunity to be close to the performers. No one camps at this stage for the day.
 2. More than the grounds of the other festivals we have attended, Golden Gate includes bottlenecks when traveling between stages. If you need to be somewhere at a particular time, anticipate delays.
 3. Friday is the day with the smallest crowd; Saturday is the most crowded.
 4. Most years, nights are cool. Pack accordingly.

The post for the Saturday performances is available by CLICKING HERE.
The post for the Sunday performances is available by CLICKING HERE.

     Friday includes attractions for festival-goers, regardless of genre preference. The day includes:
   1. Orchestral Rock - The Family Crest
   2. Soul - Leon Bridges
   3. A collection of Electronica - Such as Chet Faker and Porter Robinson
   4. Folk - First Aid Kit (sisters from Sweden)
   5. Electropop - Broods (brother and sister from New Zealand)
   6. High profile - Mumford & Sons
   7. Rock - Wilco
   8. Performance specialists - St. Vincent

     Below is a Soundcloud playlist of songs organized on the basis of start times on Friday. This post also includes live performances songs that cannot be found on Soundcloud.
     This playlist currently includes 30 songs, but we may add to the list as the festival approaches. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Best of 2015 – January through June

     A knowledgeable person once commented that in almost every six-month period, a music lover will undergo some shift in taste. For Indie Obsessive, the first half of 2015 brought a greater appreciation for vocal layering and a newly found respect for the Folktronic genre.  A third shift is the increased draw to vocals with an anguished overtone. Identifying the shifts is much easier than understanding what caused them.
     Below are our top songs for the first half of 2015. The list reflects the appreciation of Folktronica (“2 Heads” by Coleman Hell), vocal layering (“Delete” by DMA’s) and vocal anguish ("Only Names" by Dalton)
     THE LEGAL DISCLAIMER – Some of these songs may have been available prior to January 1, 2015. They qualify because we were clueless regarding their existence until this year.

      “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box” by Modest Mouse (these isn't a Soundcloud upload for this song)

      “Drifting” by ON AN On 

      “Where You Are” by Rezlow (this one is under the radar - 300 plays on Soundcloud!)

      “2 Heads” by Coleman Hell (Folktronica - "Hey Coleman, plug-in the banjo 'cause we gotta hit!)

     "Animal” by The Dunwells (ends with vocal layering)

     “God Forsaken Land” by Sakia

      “Alison” by The Occupants (The lyrics and music represent thoughts of a soldier yearning to be with his love, Alison, as he waits to be sent into the suicide battle at Gallipoli - "Miss you Al, I don't want to die.")

      “Be Yourself” by Harrison Storm (with almost breathtaking assistance from Ruby Whiting)

     “Delete” by DMA’s – Yes, the song was released in 2014, but we missed the boat until 2015, when the mini-album was released. The last minute of “Delete” uses vocal layering very effectively.

      “Falling” by Howard (This one involves both Folktronica and vocal layering.)

     “The Recluse” by Cursive (Yes, it's not a new song, but it's been remastered.)

     “What I Saw” by Racing Glaciers

        “Burn with Me” by Whilk and Misky

     “Only Names” by Dalton (Gotta love the anguished vocals.)

     “Tie Me Down” by Jack Savoretti

     “Home” by Little Wolves (It's still free!? Click Here)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

“Black Box” by Calan Mai – A Song Review

     For nearly four minutes, “Black Box” is a song that positively separates itself from most songs that hit the ears of listeners, then the song gets better. During the first 3:48, “Black Box” flows in a direction and with a force dictated by the guitars and the soothing voice of Calan Mai. The acoustic guitar at the outset is soon joined by a “distant” shoegaze guitar. The force of the flow increases at the 3:03 mark. Still, it's the activity starting at 3:48 that sweeps the listener into the song’s current. A slow-build crescendo begins and the backing vocals break free from merely tracking the lyrics of the lead vocals, which adds to the depth of “Black Box” despite the backing being limited to single syllables. Then, the vocal layering hits another level at 4:24, as an anguished voice contracts with the soothing voice that originally set the pace.

     Calin Mai is the performance name of Jordan Lawrence, a 24-year-old singer/songwriter who relocated from Australia to Manchester, UK.

      “Black Box” by Calan Mai

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

“2 Pyramids” – Still a Free Download

     “2 Pyramids” is still being offered as a free download. It is one of three songs on the Noisetrade offer of Other Lives. The band allows the three songs to be downloaded for the mere price of an email address (tips are always appreciated). Our favorite of the three is “Reconfiguration,” but “2 Pyramids” is a nearly as solid.

      The members of Other Lives are Jesse Tabish (piano, guitar, lead vocals), Jonathon Mooney (piano,violin, guitar, percussion, trumpet), and Josh Onstott (bass, keys, percussion, guitar, backing vocals).

     “2 Pyramids” - This Soundcloud version is included because it allows a listener to skip through the song in making a judgement (unlike Noisetrade).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

“With You Tonight” by Summer Moon – A Song Review

     Count Indie Obsessive among the fans of supergroups. The latest is Summer Moon, which is formed of four members from three bands. The band members are Nikolai Fraiture (Strokes), Tennessee Thomas (Like), Erika Spring and Lewis Lazar (both from Au Revoir Simone).
     If you’re looking for a song that brings meaning to your life, “With You Tonight” is not it. The first ten seconds yell “LCD Soundsystem,” and then an infectious guitar lick enters to carry a listener through the song. The song is all of light, infectious and musically consistent. Fittingly, the song ends with a melodic chant that includes the phrase “the beat goes on.”
     With You Tonight” has been used in a jeans advertisement, which is embedded in this post.  

     “With You Tonight” by Summer Moon

Monday, July 20, 2015

“I Want You” by Flagship – A Song Review

     Flagship recently released “I Want You” as one track from “Faded.” The past work from Flagship was enjoyable enough to draw us to attend and review their tour with Terraplane Sun, but “I Want You” has an increased sophistication. The song is not merely the standard three-part arrangement of vocals, instrumental, vocals. “I Want You” ebbs at times and certainly contains energy flows.
     Flagship is still firmly planted in the Pop genre. The band is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The core members are Drake Margolnick and Michael Finster. In their last visit to San Francisco, the two toured with a pair of members of the band Campbell (Matt Padgett and Christopher Comfort). 
      Flagship will visit San Francisco's The Independent on July 27 (ticket information is available by clicking here - Tickets.

     “I Want You” by Flagship

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Masakichi – A Band Review

     Masakichi has a small but powerful presence on Soundcloud. Currently, there are two songs, “Spring” and “Hummingbird.” Both songs feature thunderous percussion, a heavy dose of wall-of-sound shoegaze guitar, and strong female vocals. Particularly in “Spring,” the percussion, guitar and vocals seemingly divide the times within the spotlight, but there are occurrences of the three being equally forceful. “Hummingbird” begins quietly and has lyrics (“Try to hold the wings of the hummingbird...”) that aren’t intimidating, but it is another song that should find favor with fans of percussion and fuzzed guitar.

     The Facebook page of Masakichi lists five band members, although most pictures show only three. The five names are Hannah Cartwright (vocals), Reuben Gotto (guitar), Hattie Williams (bass, vocals), Benny Calvert (drums) and Steve Durham (drums). The band will release a mini-album (seven tracks) on September 18. “Hummingbird” will be the name of the mini-album.  

     “Spring” by Masakichi

     “Hummingbird" by Masakichi

Thursday, July 16, 2015

“Fractures” by Wells – A Song Review

     “Fractures” is similar to a tour bus through musical sites. It begins with a visit to a location that features minimalistic instrumentation, yet a lyrical richness in painting an understanding of the individual and his position regarding a relationship. A best guess at the lyrics is included below. At the 0:55 mark, the instrumentation increases in depth. The depth is again increased at 1:43, after the lyrics poignantly state, “I curse my whole life for every moment I could have spent with you.” It’s then that the electric guitar steps forward. Still, the song doesn’t reach a Rock destination until the crescendo of 2:50.
    “Fractures” is a song from Wells, a band from Sydney, Australia. The members are Alastair Cairns, Richard Bessell, Daniel Shaw, and Joshua Isaac.

     “Fractures” by Wells (This is currently available as a free download.)

Lyrics of “Fractures” by Wells
Crooked little vein I'll trace from your heart to mine
Then from blood until on my palm it did remain
Laugh of love and memories reduced to a crease in skin
Yours was vast, mine was short and splintered into three
The first floor I'll last, the second pale king
The third the name of father, he gave me
As the son of a physicist, was it Sisyphus
A fracture in the story I refer it as my life

I took you by the hands I led you through the countryside
You can watch the flock from a great height
I whispered in your ear something you'd later call as queer
A stage name, a baptism and a prophecy
A Holy Trinity, something sacred and profane
The laws are built upon until they reach obscenity

It's the weight of time going
I held you in my arms for the first I knew it's not enough
I break down
Now I curse my whole life
For every moment I could have spent with you,
You, you, you

The water broke between you and I
Something was birth brought which I cannot describe
Decide who you are, my first and last
My alpha and omega, you pass
Spread those songs I sing from love
Bring the others and allow them to be forgot
I realize now the error in my ways
Believe that the scene was the man who made in the first place
Now I burn I said in blindness we subside
My shot pierces the heart of the Leviathan

It's the weight of time going
I held you in my arms for the first I knew it's not enough
I break down
Now I curse my whole life
For every moment I could have spent
The weight of time going
Tore you from my arms
And watch you ways you disappear from sight
I wait my fate, tip out the hands
The ghost that somehow I expired
With you, with you, with you
With you, with you, with you

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Foals and Sea Legs – Driving Guitars

     The Foals have been known for their “get out of my way” driving guitar for a number of years, but we only recently became aware of Sea Legs. The two bands are from almost opposite sides of the earth. Oxford, UK is the home of Foals, while Sea Legs call Central Coast, Australia home.

     "What Went Down" by Foals

     ”Witches Have Friends” by Sea Legs

Friday, July 10, 2015

“Pancakes” by Two Minute Puzzle – A Song Review

     [Another vacation-length post – short.]
     This is the second consecutive relationship-relevant post of Indie Obsessive. Amy May and Thor Rixon joined forces with Two Minute Puzzle (also known as Pat McCay) in a song entitled “Pancakes.” Interestingly, McCay starts the song in the falsetto register and it's May who enters with the deeper voice. As the song progresses, the banter between the two intensifies and grows more entertaining.
    Two Minute Puzzle is based in Cape Town, South Africa. 
    "Pancakes" (aka "Boy Girl - Master") The song is currently available as a free download.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

“Away We Go” by Albert – Another Video Drops

     A band from Malmö, Sweden, which calls itself Albert, released another video that will be interpreted a hundred different ways if a hundred people were to provide an interpretation. The video for “Away We Go” is almost certainly about relationships. Beyond that, the video lends itself to less certainly. And that’s a positive, rather than a negative.  Does the skyscraper of cardboard boxes represent the compartments of personality of the other person or the compartments of a relationship, so that when you extract one, the rest come crashing down upon you?  
     The members of Albert are Wallentin Richardsson (vocals, guitar), Erik Sunding (drums), David Scholander (piano, organ) and Niklas Björk (bass).

     “Away We Go” by Albert

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"You Shall Know The Spirit" by Pfarmers – A Song Presentation

[This is another vacation post, so it is brief.]
     Pfarmers is an experimental supergroup, formed of Danny Seim (Menomena, Lackthereof), Bryan Devendorf (The National), and Dave Nelson (a horn player who has collaborated with St. Vincent, Sufjan Stevens, and Beirut).
      The debut album of Pfarmers, “Gunnera,” was released in 2015. 

     "You Shall Know The Spirit" by Pfarmers

Monday, July 6, 2015

Empire Circus in Dublin – A Concert Review

     While vacationing in Ireland, we took advantage of an opportunity to see Empire Circus at Whelan’s in Dublin. Using terms that are popular in Ireland, the experience was both grand and magic. The brevity of this review is not a reflection on the quality of the band or the venue - with vacation comes brevity.
The setlist at Whelan's
     It’s always a good sign when a band puts thought into their start. The performance of Empire Circus began with the duo percussion of frontman Neil Eurelle and drummer Brian Ellis. It was a kickstart for the energy that characterized most of their eighteen-song setlist (plus the encore song). The two were soon joined by Alan Doyle (guitar, vocals), with David Walsh (guitar, keyboards) completing the band a short time later.
     The band members are all strong in their performance with their instrument (or instruments). But clearly vocals are the strength of Empire Circus. Doyle is equally adept in both a lower and upper register. Eurelle has the ability to stay on pitch through extended power vocalization, while Ellis and Walsh provided high quality backing vocals.
      “There Is a Light”