Wednesday, May 31, 2017

“68” by White Jackets – A Song Review

     White Jackets released a travel song. “68” has a rhythm that is well suited for driving along a highway, with the vehicle’s tires passing over the road irregularities and regularities. It’s not the message of the song, but 68 miles per hour fits the tempo. “68” does include a more relaxed portion that can function as a highway rest stop.

     White Jackets is a duo from Vaajakoski, Finland. They are Turo Myllykangas and Jussi Petäj. Quoting an email submission from White Jackets regarding an EP that includes "68:"
  "The two-man band has recorded and produced this music completely themselves, taking their time crafting the songs and arrangements on the long nights and weekends in their rehearsal space, located in an industrial hall in Vaajakoski, Central Finland. The songs range from quirky to aggressive to lyrical and back. Arrangements include diverse instrumentation:  among the usual suspects like acoustic and electric guitars, bass and drums there are splashes of french horn, kantele, nyckelharpa, baritone sax etc."

     “68” by White Jackets 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

“Listen to Your Mother” by Special Thumbs – A Song Review

     “Listen to Your Mother” is a well-crafted coalition of elements from different, but related, genres. Although more limited in number, the guitars achieve the strength, texturing, and frequency range of Post Rock. Still, the bass is Bluesy at times and, unlike Post Rock, vocals play a key role. The song structure most closely resembles Rock/Pop – verse, chorus, verses, chorus, verse.
     At times, the vocals in the song by Special Thumbs are Dream-like. For example, during the first encounter with the chorus, the approach is close to a suggestion to listen to your mother. And in the verse as to what “my parents told me,” the atmosphere is even ethereal. In comparison, the vocals during the second encounter with the chorus are demanding. The variations in vocalization approaches keep the song "fresh" and aid in communicating the message of the lyrics.

     We are never shy when it comes to identifying our favorite feature in a song. For “Listen to Your Mother,” it’s the percussion/synth/guitar build that begins at the 1:21 mark.

    Special Thumbs are a four-member band in Oklahoma City. The members are Patrick Greene (vocals, guitar), Joey Riley (keyboard, vocals), Jared Fatkin (bass), and Ryan McGuire (drums).

     “Listen to Your Mother” by Special Thumbs

Lyrics of “Listen to Your Mother” by Special Thumbs
Young one, you are not doing enough
Tough, You could be somethin’
I laugh when it starts to get rough
Love keeps it together

Listen to your mother
No one ever made it alone
All our sons and daughters
Conquering a make-believe throne

Far gone, theory of love undone
None welcomed your wisdom
True, you measure by number
Tribute stolen by slumber

Well my parents told me
When I was young to grow old
But my patience told me
Sedulity will compel me to form

Listen to your mother
I will never make it alone
Why'd you even bother
Conquering a make-believe throne?

In a reality where
We all are to die young
Admit desire and need
Formulate from one tongue

Monday, May 29, 2017

“Liars” and “Lions” by VINCI – A Band Review

     Their songs have a maturity and depth that aren't often within the grasp of a band that is only starting to gain traction on the road to acclaim. VINCI is a Dublin-based band with two Soundcloud shares. The first was “Lions,” which showed the lyrical skills of the band. The more recent release is “Liars,” which is more textured and takes a cinematic approach in its presentation.

     VINCI has an advantage over other bands. Among the five members is a cellist. The cello is perhaps the most effective instrument in establishing an intended emotional atmosphere. Still, the attraction to the sound of the band extends beyond a single instrument. The guitars are strong, as evidenced in “Liars.” The percussion isn’t featured, but holds up its end. Vocally, the best comparison is to Bastille, with the almost staccato approach at times and the ability to reach the upper range at other times.

     The members of VINCI are Kurtis (vocals, guitar), Noely (bass), Doyler (cello, keys), Andy (guitar), and Leo (drums). 
     “Lions” by VINCI 

     “Liars” by VINCI 

“Rain in Soho” by The Mountain Goats – A Song Review

     The incorrect “Rain in Soho” was embedded in the last post (the error has been corrected). Our poor excuse is that we posted immediately before heading to the BottleRock Festival. With apologies to The Mountain Goats, below are the lyrics to the song by the band.

          The Mountain Goats are currently on tour, promoting the album “Goth.” For tour information, go to The tour includes two performances in San Francisco.

     “Rain in Soho” by The Mountain Goats 

Lyrics of “Rain In Soho” by The Mountain Goats
No one knows where the lone wolf sleeps
No one sees the hidden treasure in the castle keep (no, no no no)
No one learns the secret name
No one burns in the absent flame (no, no no no)

No one broke D B Cooper's fall
No one hopes to hear the bagman call (no, no no no)
Children piping in the main square
But no one's dancing, no one's dancing down there (no, no no no.)

The river goes where the water flows
But no one knows when the Bat Cave closed
The river goes where the water flows
But no one knows when the Bat Cave closed

No promise sweeter than a blood pact
Nothing harder to go through with than a vanishing act (no no no no)
No morning colder than the first frost
No friends closer than the ones we've lost (no no no no)

Nothing sharper than a serpent's tooth (no no no no)
Nothing harder than the gospel truth
Though you repent and don sackcloth and try to make nice
You can't cross the same river twice (no no no no)

The river goes where the water flows
But no one knows when the Bat Cave closed
The river goes where the water flows
But no one knows when the Bat Cave closed

There's a club where you'd like to go
You could meet someone who's lost like you
Revel in the darkness like a pair of open graves
Fumble through the fog for a season or two

No town more barren than our town
No haven safer than the one they tore down
No better love than to lay my life down for a friend
No sweeter pleasure than to see the credits clear through to the end (no no no no)

No one knows where the lone wolf's gone
No one sees it camped out right there on the front lawn (no no no no)
We played for you but you would not sing
No one was gonna get away with anything (no no no no)

The river goes where the water flows
But no one knows when the Bat Cave closed
The river goes where the water flows
But no one knows when the Bat Cave closed

Friday, May 26, 2017

Free Friday (“FL&R”) – May 26

     Free and Legal Downloads? Yes, at least temporarily. Bands often temporarily permit free downloads of their releases.  The end of an offer may be based on the expiration of a set period of time or on a limited number of downloads.  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 legally downloadable music that we recommend. Our plan is to post at least one FL&R song each Friday.
     Bear With Us are five musicians in Stockholm, Sweden. Their song “Freedom Fighter” begins in a minimalistic mode of low energy piano and vocals. By the end, the song is in full-fledged Rock mode, with guitars blazing.
     “Freedom Fighter” is an anthem – “Nothing’s gonna stand in my way.” But the resolution is looking for a direction – “I’m a freedom fighter, who don’t know what he's fighting for.

     The members of Bear With Us are Björn Lundkvist (vocals, rhythm guitar), Kalle Andersson (piano, keys), Anton Sivertsson (lead guitar), Alexis Tubulekas (bass),  and Emil Westin (drums). 
     “Freedom Fighter” by Bear with Us 

     This week, a “Song of the Day” on the KEPX site was “Rain in Soho” by The Mountain Goats. This is a chorus-backed gem. KEPX, we thank you! Until the offer ages itself off the list, the download is available by going to KEPX (CLICK HERE) and scrolling to May 23.
     The Mountain Goats are currently on tour, promoting the album “Goth.” For tour information, go to The tour includes two performances in San Francisco. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

“Drag Me Down” by NYIKO – A Song Review

     Bells are pealed, not pianos. The start of “Drag Me Down” is an exception. A chord is struck and the piano strings are allowed to vibrate with decreasing volume, until the chord is struck again.  The approach is effective in immediately setting an expectation of solemn subject matter. The vocals enter with “The light was always on when I woke up; but not today, I didn’t understand.” The lyrics of the song from NYIKO are built around a relationship that needs to end, despite some reluctance.

     “Drag Me Down” is joyless subject matter wrapped in a melody that is almost high-spirited at times. For example, the instrumental support is playful during a segment that begins at 1:24. The counterbalance adds to the interest in the song.

     NYIKO is Nyiko Beguin (“nee-koh” “bay-gan”), a recording artist, producer, and visual artist in Los Angeles. According to the Facebook page of NYIKO, the live band includes Dan Smith, Ian Senesac, and Tyler Daniel Bean. 
     “Drag Me Down” by NYIKO 

“Throw It Down” by Winchester – A Song review

     Winchester threw down a contender for “The Summer Hit of 2017.” A strong candidate requires a balance between easily grasped Pop sensitives and a sophisticated underlayer that provides needed staying power. For Winchester’s “Throw It Down,” if the balance isn’t right, it’s because the level of sophistication is too high – which is a positive from our perspective.

      “Throw It Down” takes a cinematic approach during its intro. The intro would fit well within an updated 2001 Space Odyssey. Soon, the percussion takes the listener in a Pop direction. But the best features of the song are still waiting. The combination of male/female vocals is consistently attractive, but the vocals turn into an attention-grabber with the harmonization of “like it’s a sign from above” at the 1:55 mark. And the combination of higher frequency synth warble with chest-rumbling low frequency vibrations after each of the three stops (1:18, 2:10 and 3:03) is skillfully executed, mixed (Shayn Hotton) and mastered (Shawn Hatfield).

     “Throw It Down” was mastered at AudibleOddities, which seems fitting for a song ending with a guitar that sounds simultaneously masterful and out of tune.

     Winchester is Lauren Austin (vocals) and Montgomery de Luna (guitar, keys, vocals) in Toronto, Ontario. “Throw It Down” will be on their upcoming EP, “If Time is Not Linear Why Can’t I Forget the Past?”. 

Lyrics of “Throw It Down” by
You could tell by my confusion and my honest surprise
But through the truth that you’re abusing, you can only hear lies
We’ve got to hold on, we’ve got to hold on, Hold on

From all the tilted connotations and the facts that I wrote
And all the manic explanations you can only denote
We’ve got to go on go on go on

And with the vacant iterations and the pride that you stole
Comes the latent condemnation of your informative holes
And then it’s all gone and then it’s all gone, All gone

You only see what can support the reckless thoughts in your head
When you’ve already made your mind up, it’s your mind you’ve misled
And then it’s all gone and then it’s all gone, All gone

All gone.

The stolid choice of your demeanour is a mar to my skin
And all that I had once believed in starts to be worn so thin
And then it’s all gone and then it’s all gone, All gone

But it’s not my engineering when I talk about love
Yet you commune with your conclusions like it’s a sign from above
As if that would be good enough…

And if you didn’t know it then, then you should know it by now
But when you haven’t learned yet somehow,
You have to throw it all down.

And then you condescend to screaming at the top of your lungs
And it drives you up the wall when I won’t take off the gloves
Because it’s all gone and then it’s all gone, All gone

The faults I see through your allusions are too great to be true
And I can see that your conclusions shape your whole point of view
And then it’s all wrong then it’s all wrong, all wrong.

And if you didn’t know it then, then you should know it by now
But when you haven’t learned yet somehow,
You have to throw it all down.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“Shake the Room” by ARLO – A Song Review

     This is not your father’s Arlo. The percussion-driven “Shake the Room” is not from the same musical generation as the Folk gems of Arlo Guthrie, such as “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.”

     This ARLO is an on-the-rise UK singer/songwriter. He is a graduate of Goldsmiths University (London) and now resides in Hackney, after a two-year stint in Harlem. Based upon the small sampling size of two singles, ARLO’s signature sound includes accentuated percussion, synth-generated bubble popping (illusion of popping bubbles), skillful lyricism, and strong vocals.

     Lyrically, “Shake the Room” is directed to self-reliance and maintaining confidence. Structurally, the song is a frequently evolving Pop anthem. In the final 60 seconds of “Shake the Room,” the track evolves through the chorus, a percussion solo, ARLO with percussion-free vocals, and a return to the chorus.

     “Shake the Room” by ARLO 

     Quoting informational material regrading ARLO:
  In the man’s own words : “’Shake The Room’ is about losing confidence in yourself, not trusting your gut and allowing others to control your future." In pure defiance, he sings "I don't need your reverence, I don't need your approval” – constantly striving to be the individual that he was always destined to be.
  A songwriter and vocalist who cites influences from current pop giants Adele and Kanye West to 80’s pop heroes Terence Trent D’Arby and Tears For Fears, ARLO displays a natural knack for story-telling with a wise head on his young shoulders, his narrative is delivered by his distinctive vocal all wrapped up in uplifting pop rhythms and triumphant percussion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

“Conversation” by Between Giants – A Song Review

     Sandwiched between an unhurried, calming piano hook that is both the intro and the outro, is a multi-dimensional, split personality track from Tyler John of Orlando, Florida. The most prominent dimensions are aligned with the personalities. At times, “Conversation” is melodic and the lyrics may be troubling, but there is a peace in the awareness that further exploration is not healthy: I found peace in a mind where I was doubted… And I don’t want to see inside the darkest corners of my mind.”

     While this first personality of the “Conversation” has a troubling peace, the second is undeniably troubled. A Rap rhythm accurately captures the inner turmoil reflected in the lyrics. But with all well-crafted lyrics, there is room for different interpretations. Do the two sides take turns surfacing, as in the song? Or has the inner turmoil been left behind after the resolution to stop looking further? This second interpretation is best supported by the transition that occurs at 2:47. The Rap conclusion is that it’s time to find a peace. A wake-up bell can be heard within the mix. Then, the transition to the more soothing approach is followed by references to finding love and finding peace.

     “Conversation” has similarities to Twenty One Pilots, but is lyrically more contemplative. Interestingly, Between Giants is the project of Tyler John, while Tyler Joseph is the frontman of Twenty One Pilots.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Free Download of Bonnaroo Sampler – 2017

     Each year, the Bonnaroo promoters offer a limited-time download of songs by performers scheduled to attend the upcoming festival. The offer is through Noisetrade. The end of the free download roughly coincides with the start of the festival. This year, the four-day event occurs on June 8-11. As always, it is in Manchester, Tennessee. For  more information, go to

    The 2017 offer includes 44 songs across a range of genres. The entire list is included below. Some songs were featured in past posts of Indie Obsessive, so we’ll embed “Elodie” by Ten Fe. 

Songs available from the sampler:
1. Big Gigantic - The Little Things (Featuring Angela McCluskey)
2. Bad Suns - Daft Pretty Boys
3. River Whyless - Kalangala
4. Joseph - White Flag
5. Aaron Lee Tasjan - Little Movies
6. White Reaper - Judy French
7. Rainbow Kitten Surprise - Cocaine Jesus
8. Hippo Campus - WesternKids
9. Umphrey's McGee - Bad Friday
10. Mandolin Orange - Wildfire
11. July Talk - Picturing Love
12. Khruangbin - People Everywhere (Still Alive)
13. Walker Lukens - Where Is Thunder Road
14. Wilderado - Morning Light
15. Zipper Club - Breath
16. NJOMZA - Sad For You
17. ILLENIUM - Fortress (featuring Joni Fatora)
18. Eliot Lipp - Reflection
19. Ethan Gruska - Me Who Wasn't Trying
20. Goldfish - Deep Of The Night
21. Flint Eastwood - Push featuring Tunde Olaniran
22. Stick Figure - Fire On The Horizon
23. Barclay Crenshaw-The Gene Sequence
24. Borgore featuring Nick Colletti - Shrimp Creature
25. NGHTMRE And GHASTLY - End of the Night
26. Herobust - Vertebreaker
27. REZZ x Raitio - Alien
28. Crystal Castles - Char
29. Getter - Inhalant Abuse
30. BADBADNOTGOOD - Speaking Gently
31. Jack Harlow - Hitchcock
32. DRAM - Gilligan (featuring A$AP Rocky And Juicy J)
33. Claude VonStroke - Barrump
34. Malcolm London - House Party
35. Turkuaz - The Generator
36. Waker - Wake Me Up
37. BIG JESUS - Lock and Key
38. Baskery - Cheerless Leaders
39. Springtime Carnivore - Face in the Moon
40. Goody Grace - April
41. Ten Fe - Elodie
42. Twiddle - When it Rains It Pours
43. G Jones - Helix
44. Sweet Crude - Mon Espirit

“(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” by Matthew Ryan – A Song Review

     The start of “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” contains the gravelly voiced woe of a Tom Waits song. The bass line governs the instrumental accompaniment for the lyrics, “Everything sucks… God, I’m a wreck.”  By the end, the tone becomes supportive, although still far from high spirited – “Don't die, don't disappear; I swear to God we need ya here.” Reflecting the uptick in tone, a higher frequency guitar riff drives the finish.

     The lyrics of the song are included in this post. When placed in the light of last week’s death of Chris Cornell, they take on a greater significance.

     A comparison to Tom Waits is appropriate, but the influence of Gaslight Anthem is more apparent. The frontman of Gaslight Anthem, Brian Fallon, contributed backing vocals and guitar. Fallon also produced the album that includes “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator.” The ten-track album, “Hustle Up Starlings,” was released on May 12.

      According to the SubmitHub information:
  “’Hustle Up Starlings’ is an album in the truest sense of the word — it’s a cohesive sonic and narrative expression with a beginning, middle, and end. It was in a conversation with the great producer and songwriter Joe Henry that Ryan realized once again the importance of committing to the fullness of experience that an album offers. ‘It’s an intimate story I’m telling here. These songs are personal, but if I’m lucky and I’ve done my job, they become universal. The story I’m living and writing about is happening in the context of this world we’re all observing and feeling right now, a world that feels like it might catch fire with all its uncertainty and friction, the ugly politics and rising impulses.’
Ryan explains further, ‘You see, this is what we do though, even when the world feels like it’s about to burn down, we keep leaning for tomorrow in our own lives and stories and families. It’s all hope and perseverance. We get up and we go to work. We believe in tomorrow, even when we’re not sure what tomorrow will be. Joe helped me to realize that I should probably tell the whole story as best I could. Brian and Doug [Lancio] and the band helped me bring it to life so it could be heard and shared. And hopefully felt.’"

     “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” - Matthew Ryan (lead vocals), Brian Fallon (electric guitars, backing vocals), Brian Bequette (bass), and Brad Pemberton (drums, percussion).

Lyrics of “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” by Matthew Ryan
Everything sucks
As bad as it gets
It all fell apart again
God, I'm a wreck

Rock ‘n Roll
My oh my
The same thing that makes you live
Can bury you alive

And we fall so easily
I just died
Like an aviator
With my heart on my sleeve

And somebody said
"Look at that bum!"
Since the sound of monuments
It's all heartless and dumb

I'm pouring a drink
And smoking a smoke
Our guts are born in that fiery trench
Between hurt and hope

And we fall so easily
I just died
Like an aviator
With my heart on my sleeve
I just died
Like an aviator
With my heart on my sleeve

Don't die, don't disappear [Repeat 6x]
I swear to God we need ya here

     The video was directed and edited by Gorman Bechard. Produced by Charlotte Beatty and Isabella Germano. And shot by Gorman Bechard and Isabella Germano.
    The video features performances Chloe Barczak, Carina Begley, Chloe Lang and Erica Gonsiewski.