Thursday, December 31, 2015

Throwback Thursday – Pianos and Sleeping

     It’s the last day of the year and television programming is focused on reviewing the last 12 months. The blog post goes further back.

     Art of Sleeping released the album “Like a Thief” in 2012. Among the tracks was “Above the Water.” The band is based  in Brisbane, Australia, and comprises Caleb Hodges (vocals, guitars), Jean-Paul Malengret (drums), Jarryd Shuker (keyboards), Patrick Silver (guitars) and Francois Malengret (bass).
     “Above the Water" by Art of Sleeping 

     “Late Lives” was originally blog-relevant with the 2014 release of the album “Keep You.” It was the third album from Pianos Become the Teeth. The song is blog-relevant again, because the official video is now available.
     Pianos Become the Teeth is based in Baltimore, Maryland. The members are Kyle Durfey (vocals), Chad McDonald (guitar), Michael York (guitar), David Haik (drums) and Zac Sewell (bass). 
     “Late Lives” by Pianos Become the Teeth

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

“Afloat” by Richard J Aarden

     The song “Afloat” first surfaced in 2013, but it’s presence on Bandcamp was not highly visible. In September, the song resurfaced as a track on an EP released by Richard J Aarden. The title of the EP is “Stolid & Bruised.
     According to his wessite, Richard J Aarden is a singer/songwriter of Italian and Dutch extraction.

     “Afloat” by Richard J Aarden


Lyrics of “Afloat”
My mind is littered with unwanted thoughts,
In my heart the remnants of feelings I've lost.
The nights that I spent out destroying myself,
Now I let 'em sneak in like a disease.

Just to blow me away.

So here I'm standing with nothing to say,
The person I've been is no longer to blame.
I'm now heading nowhere, far from what we were.
The most that I can do for you is to keep on lying,

Just to blow you away,
Keeping afloat.

Can't you see? The sun is shining.
I'm out of this storm,
Keeping afloat.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

“Who You Are” by Sonder Saloon – A Song Review

     At times, “Who You Are” has the sound of the band Yes aided by a banjo and vocal processing. While it is a banjo, it’s not a young Jon Anderson stepping in at the 1:09 mark of the song and it’s not vocal processing that achieves harmonization from a seemingly single voice.
     Having vocally skilled twin brothers in a band that favors harmonization is an enviable asset. Brothers often have similar vocal characteristics, but enough of a difference to provide texture. Sonder Saloon includes twins Gary and Kasper Kazazian. The third member is Kenny Sanders, who adds a third component to the harmonization.  

     Sonder Saloon recently released a six-track EP entitled “Mackinaw.” 
"Who You Are" by Sonder Saloon

“Hagalaz“ by Glaare – A Song Review

     Doomwave is not a genre in our wheelhouse, but that doesn’t prevent appreciation of songs that deserve attention. The song “Hagalaz” by Glaare is deserving. The guitar has a driving relentlessness, until releasing listeners in the final seconds. Unlike typical mixing, the instruments are not subordinate to the vocals. Instead, the female vocalization is a peer to the instrumentation. That coequal relationship is often reserved for bands that are vocally challenged. Glaare is NOT vocally challenged.
     Glaare is based in Los Angeles. The members are Rachael (vocals), Brandon (guitar), Cameron (bass) and Jason (synth).

     “Hagalaz“ by Glaare

Monday, December 28, 2015

“Sophia” by Venus Demilo – A Song Review

     Look out 2016, here comes a band poised to have an impact. The band is Venus Demilo, the phonetic equivalent of the armless Greek statue. They are based in Liverpool.
     Listening to the first minute of their song “Sophia,” we mistakenly identified Venus Demilo as a Pop band with a strong vocals and light, quick-twitch guitar. Strong vocals – Yes, the assessment was correct. Crisp guitar capability – Yes, they own it. But a second after the one-minute mark, the band showed its Rock side. 

     The press material regarding “Sophia” explains:
   “‘Sophia’ began with a late night stumbling through Reddit. Among all the usual anecdotes and memes, there was one story that stood out above the rest. A tragic tale of how a girl had passed away after her addiction had spiralled out of control. During her depression, this girl had become obsessed with spirituality and became increasingly dependent upon an intangible being - Sophia.
   This was a sensitive subject, the band noted how difficult the process of writing became. They knew they wanted to share the story and open a dialogue surrounding the issues of drug abuse, depression and suicide. They were also aware that it is not a subject that should be treated lightly. The video is a reflection of this: the choice to have dancers communicate the relationship between Sophia and the girl seemed to be the best means of conveying the story to Venus Demilo’s audience.

     The members of Venus Demilo are Tom Anderson (vocals, rhythm guitar), Reuben Hobson (lead guitar), Christopher Connor (bass) and Ryan Williams (drums). In early 2015, they released "Sinking Ships" on Bandcamp - we missed it. “Sinking Ships” begins with vocal effects similar to “I Can Talk” by Two Door Cinema Club, but the body of the song has a greater sophistication in the use of instruments. While “I Can Talk” will likely be the song with more commercial success, The Venus Demilo song will have the greater staying power on those playlists that include both tracks.


     “Sinking Ships”

“Hello (hi)” by Busy – A Song Review

      In the high-profile music environment, there’s a song named “Hello” by someone who only needs to use her first name. In the music environment in which Indie Obsessive happily resides, there’s a song named “Hello (Hi)” by a band deserving more attention than it’s receiving. The band is named Busy. 
      "Hello (hi)" has a gentleness, but still includes a slow-build crescendo near the end of the song. Still, the forceful whisperpered vocals are the strongest feature of the song.  

      “Hello (hi)” by Busy

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Folks We Oughta Know – The December 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 December installment of the series. To qualify for this post, the song only needs to have a Folk feel. 
     Woodlock is a trio based in Yarawonga, Australia. The members are Ezekiel Walters (guitar, vocals) Zechariah Walters (guitar, vocals) and Bowen Purcell (percussion). "Sirens" is the title track of their EP. 
      "Sirens" by Woodlock

     “Running Away” by The Royal Foundry starts as if it’s the background music of a video game – perhaps with a frog trying to cross a busy street. But then the vocals carry us to a more worthwhile endeavor. The Royal Foundry is the wife-and-husband team of Jared and Bethany Salte of Sherman Park in Alberto, Canada.
     “Running Away” by The Royal Foundry (currently a free download)

      The vocals of Jack and the Bear are unconventional, but that’s the way we like ‘em.
Question: "Who's Jack and who's the Bear?"
Answer: “Jack is a cocker spaniel owned by the lead trumpet player (Christina) and Bear is an acronymn representing the first four original members of the outfit. (B:Brandon, E:Evan, A:Adam, R:Ryan (Reggie).
     "Riddles in the Dark” by Jack and the Bear (from Bolles Harbor, Michigan)

     “Straight Lines” may not be Folk, technically. It is has that Folk feel that qualifies the song for this post. The band is East Love from New York. Members are Robbie Fink, Lukas Effman, Alex Goldstein, Alex Utay, Andy Koehler and David Berliner.
       “Straight Lines” by East Love (it's the second half of the song that is infectious)

     Found Audio is indeed the name of the band. They are John Bragg (vocals, guitar), Denny Kennedy (drums), Peter Omalyev (bass, vocals), Joe Bouchard (keys/synth, vocals) and Brendan O'Brien (banjo, vocals). Found Audio is based in Allston/Boston, Massachusetts.  
      “Carnival” by Found Audio

     A banjo and a horn – that’s the combination!  Albatross is the performance name of Adam Stockdale of Nashville, Tennessee.
     “Game of Love" by Albatross

Saturday, December 26, 2015

“Heart” by Delamere – A Song Review

    Delamere is a Manchester band that uses sustained power vocals to reach its listeners. In “Heart” the vocals provide a contrast with a seemingly simple guitar riff. The members of Delamere are James Fitchford (guitar, vocals), Ash Egerton (guitar, vocals), Rich Dawson (bass) and Will Mason (drums). 

     “Heart” by Delamere

Friday, December 25, 2015

“Jobs I Had Before I Got Rich & Famous” by Walter Martin - A Song Review

     Many people have a series of unconnected low-paying jobs when first entering the employment market, but only a few write a song about the experiences. Walter Martin is one. For Martin, the series was lawn mower, low-level florist, pizza delivery driver, switchboard operator, and attendant at a museum information counter. Then, he found his calling – one that “sure beats mowing lawns,” because:
“The pretty girls flock from far and near
To touch my hand and hear my song
And buy my T-shirts and sing along.”

     Until 2013, the T-shirts were those of The Walkmen. That's when The Walkmen announced an “extreme hiatus.” Walter Martin was an original member of the band, as bassist and organist. In his current "job," Martin is scheduled to release his debut album on January 29, 2016.

Lyrics of “Jobs I Had Before I Got Rich & Famous”
Mowing lawns, saving up for a guitar
When I was fifteen and long and lean
And just like that grass, boy I was green.

Delivering roses in Washington D.C.
Going off to college so I had to save up
But delivering roses really sucks
Sweating all summer in a slimy tux
But at least I made a couple bucks.

Freshman in college I was delivering pizza
But to deliver one pie was a half an hour round trip
And college kids, man, they don’t tip
So I quit; and it was their loss
‘Cause I was the only driver not stealing from the boss
And siphoning gas from students’ cars.

Metropolitan Museum at the telephone switchboard
When a caller would ask for Phillip de Montebello
I’d transfer them to my apartment
Where an unsuspecting fellow,
My roommate Stewart, so sound asleep
Would answer the phone when he heard the beep
And pretty quick they’d realize he wasn’t Phillip.

Information counter at the Cloisters Museum
And one day Billy Joel walks in
I take a long, long look at him
A dignified old music man
And that’s when I devised my plan.

That little plan has brought me here
Where the spotlight shines and the people all cheer
And the pretty girls flock from far and near
To touch my hand and hear my song
And buy my T-shirts and sing along
Goddamn this sure beats moving lawns.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Invisible Tears” by Patti Yang Group – Song Review

     “Invisible Tears” is a good candidate for the study of musical momentum. In mechanics, momentum is the product of the mass of a body and its velocity. Starting at the 2:41 mark of the song, changes in “Invisible Tears” give the feel that the song is built around periodic changes in velocity (tempo). But it’s the mass that is interesting. A change in the guitar line adjusts the mass of the song, and therefore its gravitational attraction. Bottom line – we like the start of “Invisible Tears” and enjoy it more as it travels along.

     Patti Yang divides her time between London and Los Angeles. According to her press material, she is in the final stages of recording her debut record with Jagz Kooner, Matty Skylab and Chris Rotter.
     “Invisible Tears” by Patti Yang Group

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

“Star Crossed Lovers” by Passion Falls – A Song Review

      The song “The Greatest Adventure” was on the list of blogworthy songs for a couple of weeks. But in preparing for this blog post, “Star Crossed Lovers” hit the speakers – and that triggered a change in the song to be featured. Passion Falls only has the two songs available on Soundcloud. When a band is two-for-two in releasing blog-ready tracks, it’s time to get excited.
     “Star Crossed Lovers” is in a sweet spot with respect to Country aspects. There aren’t so many Country touches that Rock fans will run the other way, but there are enough to make a reference to Southern Rock a fair description. In comparison, “The Greatest Adventure” has a feel of another UK band we recommend – A Silent Film.

      Passion Falls is a Manchester-based band that includes Jonny Holland (vocals, keys), Stu Winnington (guitar, keys), Jordan Hunstone (percussion) and Joss Croasdale (bass).
     “Star Crossed Lovers” by Passion Falls

     “The Greatest Adventure” by Passion Falls

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

“Strange Feeling” by The Dunwells – A Song Review

     The Dunwells released another reason to register with a site that notifies you when a particular band will be playing in your area (for example, Bandsintown). The name of this reason is “Strange Feeling.”
      The Dunwells are based in Leeds, England, but will visit the U.S. at least once in 2016. They are a showcase band at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March. Indie Obsessive will be at SXSW, but fear that the showcase event will reach capacity without us. So, if the quartet visits San Francisco before or after the Austin opportunity, we’ll be there (Hey Bandsintown, did you hear that?).
     Wisely, “Strange Feeling” draws upon the quality vocals of The Dunwells. A forlorn guitar is what distinguishes this song from other offerings of the band.

     The members of The Dunwells are brothers Joseph Dunwell (vocals, guitar) and David Dunwell (vocals, guitar), along with their longtime friends Rob Clayton (bass) and Adam Taylor (drums).
     “Strange Feeling” by The Dunwells

“Crash” by Great American Canyon Band – A Song Review

     PART III - In the final days of 2015, we’ll try to reduce the length of the list of blog-ready songs. 
     Great American Canyon Band intends to release a debut LP in early 2016. The LP will include “Crash.” The core of the band is the duo Paul and Kris Masson, but they perform with Matt Boyer and Edan Perrigo. 
     The 2016 LP is scheduled to drop on February 19, 2016. The LP will be titled “Only You Remain.” 

     “Crash” by Great American Canyon Band

     “Wild Heart” by Great American Canyon Band

“Dark Matter” by Wyldest – A Song Review

     PART II - In the final days of 2015, we’ll try to reduce the length of the list of blog-ready songs. Wyldest is a trio based in North London. They are preparing to release a debut EP in 2016. “Dark Matter” will be among the tracks on that EP. The light, crisp guitar work is a favorite feature of the song.
     The members of Wyldest are Zoe Mead, Holly Mullineaux, and Jack Gooderham. 

     “Dark Matter” by Wyldest

“Actors” by Bravestation – A Song Review

     In the final days of 2015, we’ll try to reduce the length of the list of blog-ready songs. Bravestation recently released an official video for the song “Actors.” The video sometimes has difficulty loading, so the Soundcloud stream is also embedded in this post.
     In the mixing of “Actors” there is an emphasis on percussion, and it’s deserved. For much of the song, the drumming lacks any complexity. Still, the percussion drives the flow of the song and toward the end plays the main role. The vocal effects are also noteworthy.

     Bravestation is based in Toronto, Canada. The members are Devin Wilson (vocals, bass, keyboards), Derek Wilson (guitar, keyboards) and Jeremy Rossetti (percussion).
     “Actors” by Bravestation

Monday, December 21, 2015

Documenta – A Band Review

     Drone Pop is a genre designation that seems oxymoronic. When it’s not used to identify unmanned aircraft or a male bee, “drone” implies a low energy, dull tone. On the other hand, Pop music tends to be high energy. But the self-designation by Documenta as being a band in the Drone Pop genre meets with approval. “Chiaroscuro” includes a saxophone that for a few seconds is both genius and poorly played. Clearly, “Idle Hands” is not pure Pop, since it includes vocals and some instrumentation that is intentionally limited in the frequency range.

     Documenta is a band based in Belfast. 
"Idle Hands"


Sunday, December 20, 2015

“Haunted” by Crescendo – A Song Review

     Short attention blogging arrived on the same plane as out-of-state relatives. Family first! But Crescendo has already been introduced to Indie Obsessive. Here is the lasted release by Crescendo – “Haunted.”

     “Haunted” by Crescendo

Friday, December 18, 2015

“Carpool Karaoke” with James Corden

     Another Carpool Karaoke was aired on James Corden’s “The Late Late Show.” This one was with One Direction. It was good. But the best ones include both in-car discussions that provide insights into the personalities of the guests and an exit from the car. Three examples are the episodes with Iggy Azalea, Carrie Underwood and Jason Derulo.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

“To Hold Her” by Lejón – A Song Review

     “To Hold Her” has been available for about 10 months, but we only recently heard the song. "To Hold Her" has a beauty in its vocal and instrumental simplicity and a gentle power within the swell that occurs at the 1:45 mark.

      Lejón is based in Norway (Ulsteinvik/Eidsvoll). “To Hold Her” is most closely aligned with the Austin, Texas band The Eastern Sea (particular the vocal similarities of Lejón with Matthew Hines of the Austin group). The members of Lejón are Rolf Magne Tømte (Lejón), Wendi Pendeza Kazonza, Fred Michael Knotten, and Karl Gøsta Klaseie.
     “To Hold Her” by Lejón

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Best Indie Songs of 2015 - Songs 1-10

     As we noted a year ago, the “best of” music lists provide a great vehicle for discovering music that we missed. During the year, the volume of interesting songs is so great that the expression “drinking from the fire hose” is appropriate. We try to read as many December lists possible.
     Indie Obsessive uses the same ranking algorithm each year:
It’s an adaption of an arbitrage pricing approach developed in 1973 by Fisher Black and Myron Scholes. The good news is that the complex portion is multiplied “0, so the complex portion is completely irrelevant to the outcome and should be ignored.
     Consequently, the ranking of a particular song is based on its value of P, where P is personal “preference.” Pretty simple – if we like a song slightly more than another song, it ranks higher. The flaw in the process is that the P value for a song is dependent upon our mood at the time, so the order of songs is likely to change from one day to the next. But while the order may change, the songs remain on the list, so you probably don’t care.
      It should be noted that the ranking reflects the blog's focus - Indie artists on the rise. The bias is toward bands that deserve more attention than they are currently receiving.

     1. “Communicate” by The Dunwells (This song is slightly time displaced, since it was on a 2014 EP and will be on a 2016 album. But it's our obsession in 2015.)

     2. “Mont Blanc” by Quiet Hollers - Lyrically, this is easily our favorite song of 2015.

    3. “All Day All Night” by Moon Taxi

     4. “Where You Are” by Rezlow

     5. “2 Heads” by Coleman Hell (This year, our post of the song received 20,000 hits.) 

     6. “Drifting” by ON AN ON

     7. “Running in Circles” by Maine Coon

     8. "7 Years" by Lukas Graham

     9. “Wars” by Eliza Shaddad

   10. “The Ground Walks, With Time In A Box” by Modest Mouse (this song would be higher on the list if the Soundcloud stream were just the song - skip ahead to 0:40.) 

Songs 11 through 20 – CLICK HERE
Songs 21 through 30 – CLICK HERE
Songs 31 through 40 – CLICK HERE
Songs 41 through 50 – CLICK HERE

Best Indie Songs of 2015 - Songs 11-20

          This is the second set of ten Indie songs of 2015. We acknowledge the fact that it is difficult to rank the tracks. If the process were repeated sometime next month, some shuffling would certainly occur. The bias is towards bands and artists who are not receiving the attention they desire.

Songs 1 through 10 – CLICK HERE
Songs 21 through 30 – CLICK HERE
Songs 31 through 40 – CLICK HERE
Songs 41 through 50 – CLICK HERE

     11. “Disappear” by City Reign

     12. “Push Off” by The Palms (Currently, this a free download - CLICK HERE.)

     13. “Animal” by The Dunwells (vocal layering)

     14. "Together Forever" by YAST (free)

      15. “Alison” by The Occupants

     16. “Money Can’t Buy” by Howard

      17. “60 Minutes” by Emmi

     18. “The House” by Le Volume Courbe

     19. “Burn with Me” by Whilk and Misky

     20. “Goners” by 5253