Monday, August 31, 2015

Folks We Oughta Know – The August Version

     On a semi-regular basis, a post is dedicated to the Indie Folk genre. It’s been more than two months since the last Folk post, so this one is overdue. Welcome to the August version.

     The first song has harmonization and a harmonica. The Folk Rock trio Distant Cousins combined with Jessie Payo in the song “Your Story.” Distant Cousins is formed of Ami Kozak, Dov Rosenblatt and Duvid Swirsky, three songwriters/producers. Since all three are songwriters, this Los Angeles-based trio could be prolific, if they are able to avoid the dreaded “creative differences.” If you enjoy “Your Story,” we recommend listening to “On My Way.”
     "Your Story" ft. Jessie Payo


     Stephen Teckenoff is a singer/songwriter from Yallingup, Western Australia. His LinkedIn profile states that he attended college in California (Cal Poly), majoring in mechanical engineering. His song “Troubled Times” is about a less than smooth relationship. “She says…Here, I thought you were my companion; and our bond could never be undone.” Description of what “she says” includes a gentler voice and drum-free instrumentation, as compared to the chorus that starts “It’s gonna be a long cold night.”
     “Troubled Times” by Stephen Teckenoff

     Oak Tree Suite are Folk Rockers from Perth, Australia. The members are Matt Garrod (vocals, guitar, keys), Steve Lukman (guitar), Shane Tyler (bass) and Josh Lindley (drums, backing vocals). “Lo Ammi” is a biblically symbolic term for “Not my people.”
     “Lo Ammi” by Oak Tree Suite

     Chicago is a musically diverse area of the U.S., so we shouldn’t have been surprised when checking into the background of the song “Diamond Road” by Railway Gamblers. Still, there was a touch of surprise. “Diamond Road” is the type of song that causes us to consider the best position in a live performance. While listening to the vocals, we would enjoy being in front, but not center. Instead, the best position would allow a clear view of the hand movements in playing the electric guitar, while enabling quick checks of the banjo.
     The members of Railway Gamblers are Brendan Folliard (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, piano), Matt Fricks (electric and acoustic guitars), Joe Sexton (bass, vocal harmonies) and Sean Wilmsen (drums vocals). 
     “Diamond Road” by Railway Gamblers

     Jake Houlsby is a singer/songwriter in Newcastle, UK. The song “Beyond All This” is a track on his recently released EP entitled “Yannina.
     “Beyond All This” by Jake Houlsby

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Red Beard – A Band Review

     A minimalistic email submission announced the availability of a video by Red Beard. What, no Soundcloud version? Oh well, let’s give it a spin. Wait, vinyl versions spin, not videos. Oh well, let’s give it an arrowhead pointing to the right. 
     After watching and listening to the video for the song “Hells Gates,” the search began for that song in a Soundcloud format. The search was unsuccessful, but productive because we found prior songs by Red Beard. In particular, we enjoyed “On the Run,” which uses the kick drum and “30 Seconds to Mars” band vocals (along with a guitar hook) to establish a song that provides an energy kick.
     Red Beard is from Gympie, Australia. They fuse a Heavy Rock attitude with synthesizers. Most often, their songs have a unique feel, but there are tracks that remind the listener of Imagine Dragons ("Fox Tale") or 30 Seconds to Mars (On the Run"). The members of the band are Michael McKiernan (guitar, vocals), Tom Rooney (vocals, guitar), Joel Forman (drums) and Reece Buckley (synth, vocals). Red Beard is preparing for the release of their debut album.

      “Hells Gates” by Red Beard

     “On the Run” by Red Beard

     “One Love” by Red Beard

Friday, August 28, 2015

A Silent Film and Flagstaff – A Concert Opportunity

     A Silent Film is the first band that comes to mind in a discussion about bands that inexplicably aren’t as popular as we believe they should be. A Silent Film has done everything right. They tour the U.S. often. The performances are solid in every aspect – mixing, setlist balance… The frontman, Robert Stevenson, is charismatic. The band has hits that should draw attention to the rest of their discography (“You Will Leave a Mark” and "Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well”). Still, while A Silent Film has a loyal fan base, that base should be more formidable.
     We wish A Silent Film dramatically increased success. But if there is an upside to the current U.S. situation, it’s one experienced by the fans. When this Oxford, UK band visits the San Francisco area, the performances are relaxed and intimate. Well, here comes another opportunity. Flagship and A Silent Film will be at The Independent on Monday October 19. Ticket information is available at CLICK HEREOther dates of the A Silent Film/Flagship tour are pasted at the bottom of this post (and shown in the above picture).

     A Silent Film released a first track from their upcoming album (due October 16). The track is “Lightning Strike.”

     “You Will Leave a Mark” (from the early album "The City that Sleeps")

     Quoting one of our earlier posts: Flagship is 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 visit to The Independent, the two toured with a pair of members of the band Campbell (Matt Padgett and Christopher Comfort).
     “Break the Sky” by Flagship 

Fall Tour Dates:
October 14 - San Diego, CA - The Casbah
October 17 - West Hollywood, CA - Troubadour
October 19 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
October 21 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge
October 23 - Denver, CO - Bluebird Theater
October 25 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
October 26 - Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
October 27 - Detroit, MI - The Shelter
October 29 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
October 30 - Indianapolis, IN - Rathskeller
November 1 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
November 2 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
November 4 - Cambridge, MA - The Sinclair
November 5 - Uncasville, CT - Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun Resort
November 6 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
November 7 - Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel
November 9 - Charlotte, NC - The Neighborhood Theatre
November 10 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade - Purgatory
November 11 - Nashville, TN - 3rd & Lindsley
November 13 - Gainesville, FL - High Dive
November 14 - Orlando, FL - The Social
November 16 - Tampa, FL - The Crowbar
November 18 - New Orleans, LA - The Parish at House of Blues
November 19 - Dallas, TX - Club Dada
November 20 - Austin, TX - Stubbs Jr. Bar-B-Q
November 21 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's Downstairs
November 24 - Phoenix, AZ - Valley Bar

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Savages in San Francisco – A Concert Review

     The trip to Great American Music Hall was the third opportunity to see Savages. The other two occurred in 2013, when they visited San Francisco and we traveled to the Austin City Limits Festival. The expectation was that the Punk Rock band would provide the high energy, highly entertaining show that we experienced two years ago.
     Surprisingly, the performance has very noticeably improved. Jehnny Beth remains the charismatic figure who is almost a black hole with respect to attention. One difference is the improved “tightness” in the coordination of the band members. It would be easy to dismiss the improvement as a mere result of playing the same songs many times between their visits to San Francisco. That dismissal fails, since Savages is playing songs that we assume will be part of an upcoming album (at the bottom of this post is the setlist of the Savages’ San Diego performance on Sunday; there are more similarities than differences).  
      Another difference is the mixing. The instruments now receive a greater emphasis, but without pushing Beth’s voice to a subordinate role. Mixing is particularly difficult for bands, such as Savages, that place an emphasis on thunderous drums for many of their song. In addition to Beth, the members of Savages are guitarist Gemma Thompson, drummer Fay Milton and bassist Ayse Hassan. We can’t say whether it was the mixing, but Thompson’s guitar work certainly drew more attention than in 2013.
The soundboard remained dormant one hour
after the scheduled start time.
     The short memory of the attendees was also surprising. The tickets were clear – Doors open at 8:00 and the show starts at 9:00. With no opening band, the expectation was that Savages would hit the stage at about 9:15. But at 10:15 there was still no sign of the band. Patience was in short supply for concert-goers within earshot of us. Our thinking was that the band would not be able to win the crowd back. Wrong! By the third song, all was forgiven, since the band was fully engaged with the performance and Beth interacted with the audience with a regularity that evidenced the band’s respect for their fans.
     The final surprise – Jehnny Beth seems to have accepted the fact that cameras at a concert are a reality. People who went to see Savages at The Independent in 2013 were told at the door that the band would prefer that phones remain in pockets. At Austin City Limits, Beth quietly and motionlessly stood at the edge of the audience for close to a minute, then stated that she had satisfied the needs of others to capture the moment, so fans should pocket their cameras. At Great American Music Hall, she seemed at ease with the many cameras. The only sign to the contrary was when she engaged with the person recording the video embedded below. Beth seemed pleasant, but signaled some irritation, when she offered to put the video on Youtube (obviously, the person didn’t need assistance). [Thank you Justin Hyde.]

The setlist for Savages at The Casbah in San Diego (August 23, 2015)
1. City's Full
2. Shut Up
3. The Answer
4. Sad Person
5. Slowing Down The World
6. I Need Something New
7. Evil
8. Adore
9. Strife
10. No Face
11. Hit Me
12. She Will
13. Fuckers

"Face the Fall" by Hummune - An Album Review

Reviewer: Evan Morgan (

     The Southampton trio of Stu Woodward, Mike Barrow, and Rik Godfrey are no strangers to the Metal scene. With former bands like Older Than Dirt, Kill-Joy, and Parade Of Enemies to their collective credit, they've certainly been around the block a few times, and that experience is on full display with their latest album "Face The Fall."
     As the first of 8 tracks, "Sow More" creeps forth with a distorted main riff that captures Hummune's slow drawl style -- heavy without being fast-paced. The thickly distorted chug carries a weight that smothers the listener in a deliciously dark dreamscape. Woodward's vocals surge forth with a sandpaper grit that's an ideal fit for the band's sound -- Motorhead meets High On Fire.
     "Deity" is a chugging behemoth barreling forth to break faces and eardrums in the best possible way. From the top down, Hummune have a knack for crafting all-out, in-your-face, pulse-pounding Metal that fans will appreciate. No matter what genre or sub-genre you subscribe to, this album has it all, and, 'Deity' is a prime example of that. 
     Whether they're breaking it down, building it up, or powering through in pursuit of primal, guttural glory, "Face The Fall" has it all. It's easily one of the best Metal albums to surface in the last 10 years, and, with a showing like this, it shouldn't be long before this trio land a record deal. There hasn't been a heavy-hitter of this caliber since Job For A Cowboy re-invented their sound with "Sun Eater" in 2014, and "Face The Fall" is on par (and then some). This album could easily go down as Hummune's "Master Of Puppets" or "Symbolic," and, by setting the bar this high so early on, it'll be interesting to see where they go from here. 

      “Destroyer of This Crown” by Hummune

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Three for Free, Legal and Recommended (“FL&R”) – The August Version

     Free and Legal Downloads? Yes, at least temporarily. Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of new releases.  The end of an offer might be based upon reaching a maximum number of downloads or the expiration of some period of time.  But at least for now, here are songs that qualify as Free, Legal and Recommended (FL&R) downloads.
     Finding songs that can be legally downloaded is easy. The difficult task is to find music that we recommend. The below music covers a wide area of the genre map, but the common characteristic is that each song has “The Indie Obsessive Stamp of Approval” (if interested, a genre map is described at CLICK HERE).

     “Atlas” is an anthem from Enemies of the State. The band is based in Glasgow, Scotland. The members are Kris Tennant, Glenn Holburn, Gary Dillon, Joseph Carney and Garry Curran. Enemies of the State attack the song “Atlas” with the force of guitars.

     Careful, this may cause genre whiplash. The Yukon Club is an Electronic Pop band from Amsterdam, Netherlands. The members are Alex de Bruijn, Geert Vlieger, Lennart van DuerendenHollander and Lars Knitel. Their track “Absence” is not a typical song in this genre, since it is more thought-filled.  

     Motion Parade is permitting “Name Your Price” downloads of “With You” from Bandcamp. The band is located in New Jersey, with three member - Shane Furst (bass, vocals), Matt Morgantini (guitar) and Cosmo Marri (drums, vocals).


     “Parallel World” by Sister on Wire was embedded in an April post. Since then, the band released “Ride,” a song we find even more appealing. Sisters On Wire is based in Vilnius, Lithuania. The members are Oleg Jerochin (lead vocals, guitar), Filip Gusev (guitars) and Gintas Gascevicius (drums).


     James Mackenzie is offering “It's All Good.” He is a singer/songwriter in Inverness, Scotland. His music resides most comfortably in the Folk genre.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Strangers of Various Types

     After receiving a Twitter “follow” from Well-Known Strangers, we listened to the music of the band. Four songs later, the band was added to the list of artists we intended to include in a post. Spanning the list, we noticed two other bands with the word “Strangers” in their name. We had already introduced one to Indie Obsessive, but that didn’t deter us from coupling the three.

     The Local Strangers specializes in Acoustic Americana. But in the song “Gasoline,” they feature an electric guitar. That occurs at the 1:45 mark of the song. The Local Strangers is based in Seattle. The members are Aubrey Zoli (vocals, percussion), Matt Hart (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar), Justin Howard (percussion, vocals), Mike DeBenedictis (electric guitar, banjo) and Ethan Sobotta (bass guitar, double bass, vocals). It is common for Aubrey Zoli and Matt Hart to schedule a tour of living room performances as Local Strangers.
     “Gasoline” by The Local Strangers

     Well-Known Strangers is based in Racine, Wisconsin. The members are Joe Adamek (guitar, keyboard, songwriting), Betsy Ade (vocals, songwriting), Roger Gower (drums), Sacia Jerome (cello), Ted Koth (lead guitar) and John Kulas (bass guitar). Jon Wolf recently left the band for family and career reasons.
     The song “Release Me” is particularly attractive, starting with piano and vocals and later taking full advantage of the cello and the kick drum.
     “Release Me” by Well-Known Strangers

     We Were Strangers is not a stranger of Indie Obsessive. He is Stefan Melbourne. “I Believe” was released in January 2015. Like “Release Me,” the song starts with piano and vocals, with the cello making a major contribution.
     “I Believe” by We Were Strangers

Monday, August 24, 2015

“Push Off” by The Palms – A Song Review

     Overheard at a Terraplane Sun’s performance: “I’m going to quit my job and follow this band around the U.S.” Certainly, the statement was made for emphasis and wasn’t intended to be taken literally. But the show at The Independent in San Francisco was strong enough to give the sentiment credibility.
     That was in April 2014. Two of the members of Terraplane Sun are now performing as The Palms. If you enjoy the sound of either Foster the People or Terraplane Sun, listen to “Push Off.” The voice of Ben Rothbard has characteristics in common with Mark Foster. But the features that distinguish “Push off” are the piano and the layered vocals in the final minute of the song.
     The other transplant from Terraplane Sun is guitarist Johnny Zambetti. The Palms are based in Los Angeles.

     “Push Off” by The Palms. The band is currently offering the song as a free download. Until the generous offer ends, you can download the song by CLICKING HERE.

“Trust Me” by AMFORTE – An Album Review

Reviewer: Evan Morgan (

      For Wilmington, North Carolina-based Singer/Songwriter AMFORTE, emotive acoustics (and equally impassioned lyrics) are at the core of her stripped-down, minimalistic sound. “Trust Me” is a heavy dose of 90's Acoustic Rock in the style of Counting Crows and Lisa Loeb spread across each of the album's five tracks. “Trust Me” plays upon that nostalgia and brings it into modern times in a way that's both reminiscent and refreshing.
     The album opener “Are You Happy Now” is a tongue-in-cheek number that channels the Pop/Punk spectrum in a catchy, creative manner. It's a high-energy track that's perfect as an introduction to the album, serving the dual purpose of piquing interest and boosting adrenaline simultaneously.
      “Please” is the quintessential dose of 90's nostalgia mentioned above. With little more than an acoustic guitar and a story to tell, AMFORTE leaves her heart on her strings for all to see (and hear). The Singer/Songwriter puts her vulnerability on display in full with nothing to hide behind, and, it's this level of introspection and honesty that makes “Please” an early frontrunner for best track on the album, a real standout.
      “Nothing Concrete” is like early Alanis Morissette minus the outright angst, but, even though the angst is gone, the influence is evident in the vocal phrasing, the heavy distortion, and the first introduction of driving drums. Though the track itself is on the shorter end of the spectrum, it's solid overall.
      Ultimately, “Trust Me” is equal parts heart-wrenching and heart-pounding, as stripped-down acoustic numbers sit alongside adrenaline-fueled ones. At the heart of everything, though, is a Singer/Songwriter that's utterly fearless. Whether she's lamenting a lost love or showcasing her vulnerability and asking for help, AMFORTE does so with a strength and conviction that's palpable. Such conviction isn't the over-the-top, in-your-face variety, it's the quiet confidence of an individual who believes in herself and her art, and that's a conviction you can trust.

      “Are You Happy Now” by AMFORTE

     “Please” by AMFORTE

     Each month, ArtistSignal awards $10,000 to the Top Artist, which is a distinction decided by vote. Quoting the site, “ArtistSignal is a free social music platform allowing listeners to vote for a Top Artist each month. We give the Top Artist at the end of the month $10,000. This allows listeners to propel talented artists to the top of our platform and gives artists an entirely new avenue to grow their fan base.” 
     AMFORTE is doing well in the August vote. To vote for AMFORTE, go to

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Videos of the Week – Boy Band with Kimmel and Mumford & Sons

     The risk with posting a video is that it will soon disappear, since someone else controls its existence. But while they last, here are some videos we enjoy.

     Mumford & Sons visited Jimmy Kimmel this week. If you missed it, here is the skit.

    The Struts also made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. We already posted the Soundcloud version of “Could Have Been Me.”

     Reaching back to 2009, if you don’t think dancing is contagious, you haven’t seen this video.

“Goners” by 5253 (Fivetwofivethree) – A Song Review

     This review started as a “Folks We Oughta Know,” which is a semi-regular series featuring at least three Folk-based bands who should receive far more attention than is the case. The mistake was starting with the song “Goners" - never made it to the second band on the list.
     “Goners” is a song from Portland’s 5253. The song begins with a calming guitar and ends with emphatically expressed lyrics as the upper coating of layered vocals. In the middle is a collection of attractive features, including strong backing vocals, poetic verses, and intelligent producing/mastering. As an example of a small feature that makes a large difference – the almost whispered backing vocals responding to the statements of the lead vocals:
"Let me hold onto your hands (Okay.)
And tell you how it is I know (Alright.)"

     5253 makes it difficult to find pictures or relevant information. A little research on a related band (Geometrist in Massachusetts) provides some additional information, but not much. What we do know is that 5253 is Jake Capistran. “Goner” was mastered by Chris Vita and mixed/co-produced by Sam Larson.

     “Goners” by 5253 (Fivetwofivethree)

Lyrics of “Goners” 
Lay me down so I can sleep
My heart is full, my knees are weak
Though we were drunk and howling
We found ourselves a little peace
In the night

Oh no
We're all goners
White snow
Black water

Hold my head inside your hands
Tell me how much fun you had
You ain't much for making plans
I'm finding out that ain't so bad

Put a smile on people, we've made it home safe
As I slowly fall asleep there's still so much I want to say
I will rest so peacefully, tomorrow's on its way
I'm content and I am grateful to be born in this place
In this chaos in this madness we've made ourselves a home
I get carried away quickly but it seems I'm not alone
In the evening we were floating we were drifting with the snow
I'll soon be dreaming of that feeling, too soon I'll let it go

Wake me up so I can see (oh no)
The path we carved throughout the streets (we're all goners)
Though we were lost an’ wandering (white snow)
We found ourselves a little peace (black water)
In the night

Let me hold onto your hands (okay)
And tell you how it is I know (alright)
That things will never go as planned (long days)
And that's how they're supposed to go (goodnight)

Put a smile on people, we've made it home safe
As I slowly fall asleep there's still so much I want to say
I will rest so peacefully, tomorrow's on its way
I'm content and I am grateful to be born in this place
In this chaos in this madness we've made ourselves a home
I get carried away quickly but it seems I'm not alone
In the evening I was floating I was drifting with the snow
I'll soon be dreaming of that feeling, too soon I'll let it go

Friday, August 21, 2015

“Kind Guidance” by Paper Days – A Song Review

     Paper Days recently released a video for “Kind Guidance.” The track was already on our list of songs to introduce to Indie Obsessive, so the video just provided a small push. Thinking back a few weeks, for the early listens to “Kind Guidance,” it was the dexterity in the guitar playing that drew attention to the song. Listening to the song now, it’s the many changes of pace that allow “Kind Guidance” to remain fresh. Additionally, there are the little touches, such as unorthodox two-second backing vocals at the 2:09 mark.
     Paper Days is based in Carlsbad, California. The members are Niko Sitaras (vocals, guitar), Jordan Graham (drums), Nate Blake (lead guitar) and Xander Sitaras (bass).

     “Kind Guidance” by Paper Days