Monday, July 31, 2017

“Here’s To You” by Nieves – A Song Review

     Our observation is that the song mixing in Scotland favors the guitar. A “normal” number of guitars in a song can approach the wall-of-sound effect. Vocals, percussion and other features receive the attention they are due, but the guitars rule the kingdom. “Here’s To You” is another example of the guitar emphasis. At the three-minute mark, the guitars aren’t expected to do anything demanding and would typically merely support the vocals. Instead, the song from Nieves sounds as though the singer is melodically shouting over the guitars.
     We enjoy the Scottish style of emphasizing the guitars. In the track “Here’s To You,” the piano deservedly receives the same preferential treatment.

     Neives is based in Glasgow. The four members are Brendan Dafters (vocals, guitar), Herre de Leur (piano), Martin Murray (guitar), and Ross Forsyth (drums). 
     “Here’s To You” by Nieves 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

“The Alien” by Manchester Orchestra – A Song Review

     The band was introduced by identifying what they are not. That was our experience at the Live 105 BFD festival in 2011. “They are not from Manchester and they are not an orchestra.” They are Manchester Orchestra.
     Since then, the quartet from Atlanta, Georgia has continued to generate a sophisticated form of Indie Rock that unfortunately remains underappreciated. The members are Andy Hull (vocals, guitar), Robert McDowell (guitar, vocals), Tim Very (drums), and Andy Prince (bass). Their fifth album, “A Black Mile to the Surface,” was released on July 28, 2017. While we’re fans of a number of songs on the album (including “The Wolf”), our favorite is “The Alien.” The lyrics have a darkness that is made more apparent by its reverse-action video.
     Manchester Orchestra will visit San Francisco on September 16, 2017. Their performance will be at The Regency Ballroom. For ticket information, CLICK HERE

     “The Alien” by Manchester Orchestra – A Song Review

Lyrics “The Alien” by Manchester Orchestra
The lights were low enough, you guessed
You swapped your conscience with your father's medication
Limped from Rome to Laurenceville
And on the way wrote out a self-made declaration
And when you got to Pleasant Hill
You forced the traffic to erase your family demons
Made a pact with you and God
If you don't move, I swear to you I'm gonna make you

Do you need me?
[Repeat 3x]

When the first officer arrived
It happened to be the high school bully of your brother
And when you finally recognized
You felt some guilt that you had even let him touch you
"Can you hear me? What's your name?"
You could not speak, just laid amazed at all the damage
As the high school's letting out
All the kids saying the same thing that they used to

It's an alien
[Repeat 3x]

The lights were low enough, you guessed
Hospital food, there's never enough medication
The doctor asked about your ears
You said your mom said you were made from a revelation
But revelation never scares
Your fear came from your drunken dad and a pair of scissors
Were you just finally letting go?
Did you mean to take out all those people with you?

Didn't mean to
Didn't mean to
Didn't mean to
Didn't mean to
Oh, I didn't mean to
(Take the time to terrify the throne)
Oh, I didn't mean to
(You'll never let it go)
No, I didn't mean to
(Take the time to terrify the throne)
Oh, I didn't mean to
(They'll never let you go)

Time is here to take your last amendments
And believe them on your own
Time is here to take you by the hand
And lead you there alone
Time has come to take the last commandment
And to carve it in your stone
Time has come to take you by the hand
And leave you here alone

Friday, July 28, 2017

“Like Bonnie & Clyde” by Thomas Dybdahl – A Song Review

     After a meditative downtempo intro, “Like Bonnie & Clyde” has the feel of starcrafts periodically interacting with a mothership that is relentlessly travelling at high speed toward its destination. The image of the mothership comes from the lead vocals and percussion, which are determined, powerful, and energetically consistent. On the other hand, the starcrafts are the features that travel into the song, but withdraw after making an impact.

     The infectious energy and the lead vocals initially draw attention to “Like Bonnie & Clyde.” After many listens, the shorter term features (the “starcrafts”) insure that the song by Thomas Dybdahl will withstand the test of time. In fact, it’s worthwhile listening to the song with a focus on these features. Among our favorites are the guitar “surges,” the piano that performs an increasingly apparent role during the last minute, and the different approaches to backing vocals.

     Thomas Dybdahl is a guitarist, singer/songwriter from Sandnes, Norway. Quoting content from SubmitHub:
  “As a self-confessed control freak, it wasn’t a realisation that came easily to Thomas Dybdahl. At the end of last year, letting go meant boarding a plane from his native Norway to Los Angeles with no clear idea of the record he was about to make or any prior friendship with most of the musicians awaiting his arrival. Over the course of a solo career stretching back eleven years, Dybdahl had very much done things his way: hand-picking his favourite musicians and establishing a rapport, all the better to tease out the hushed, soulful grain of a voice that has become something of a national treasure in his own country. All that began to change in 2011, when Dybdahl attracted the attention of legendary American producer Larry Klein. It’s perhaps not too hard to see what prompted Klein to sign Dybdahl to his own Strange Cargo imprint. Having acted as a foil to Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux and Melody Gardot, Klein must have surely seen something of all these artists in the intuitive sensuality of Dybdahl’s approach.”

     “Like Bonnie & Clyde” by Thomas Dybdahl 

Free Friday (“FL&R”) – July 28

     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 is a song that qualifies as a Free, Legal and Recommended (FL&R) download.
     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.
     Why We Run is based in Sydney. It has been too long since we last posted a song by a band that includes brothers. The members of the band are Nic Cogels (vocals, guitar), Nick Langley (guitar), Ed Prescott (drums), and Lloyd Prescott (bass, keys). They released the album “Holograms” in 2016. The album includes “Comfortable Lie,” which we previously posted. But “Kites” was not included on the album.
    “Kites” by Why We Run - note: the song is in the .aif format, if that matters to you.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

“Western Children” by Arkivist – A Song Review

     The strength of “Western Children” is its rotational use of group vocals. Arkivist is a trio in which all three members have the skills to be lead vocalists. When one or two of the members sing, the sound is pleasing. When the three harmonize, the result is soothing and drop-all-activity dazzling. 
     During “Western Children,” the simplicity of the instrumental support allows the voices to stand front and center. The instruments are interesting, but nonintrusive. This leaves the message of the song unmasked. According to Arkivist’s submission on SubmitHub:
  "This song was written after Jonny (keys/vocals) came out, publicly sharing that he was gay. His announcement brought the band closer together, starting a new era for both Jonny and the group. Rallying to support Jonny, Ben (guitar/vocals) wrote this song. Ben’s newfound connection with Jonny’s personal story caused him to reassess his own experience with some of the people in his life who were less accepting (older mentors and friends). This song is in support of Jonny, directed at people in the older generation who are less accepting of homosexual love. It both seeks to support acceptance and also acknowledge the complexity of these issue in our culture today."

     Arkivist is based in Los Angeles, but identifies their hometown as Portland, Oregon. The members are Ben Weyerhaeuser (vocals, guitar), Jonny Hicks (keys, synth, vocals), and Chris Neff (drums, vocals). 
     “Western Children” by Arkivist 

Lyrics of “Western Children” by Arkivist
Shake your head, roll your eyes
Stop, you're failing to realize
Your grand assumption.

I know what I call myself
You can call me something else
But now who's judging?

The numbers not looking good for you
Your old views dying
They'll be dying with you too

We're not going backwards to before
Not giving up on our progression
Once occurred

We're just western children, don't know nothing
Falling in love with the changes coming
Already done, already done
The western children, who read it different
Your view could be right, but it probably isn't
Not with us, you're just shadows and dust

You stand upon your podium
Claiming truth, but you've just
One opinion

Much you've taught and I learned
Now away I must turn
From the listening

Well read are others just like you
But conclusions, they come to
Form different views

These others' views unlike yourself
They are not coming to an end
So farewell

We're just western children, don't know nothing
Falling in love with the changes coming
Already done, already done
The western children, who read it different
Your view could be right, but it probably isn't
Not with us, you're just shadows and dust

The young ones
They all left your town.
Not coming back
There's no one to listen to you now

Funny, to you
It's of no suprise.
But given all the options
Why don't you change your mind?

We're just western children, don't know nothing
Falling in love with the changes coming
Already done, already done
The western children, who read it different
Your view could be right, but it probably isn't
Not with us, you're just shadows and dust.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Picture This – A Concert Recommendation

     In September, Picture This will again leave the friendly confines of Ireland for performances is the United States. San Francisco is among the visits. The duo will be at Rickshaw Stop on September 21, 2017. For ticket information, CLICK HERE

     Picture This are Jimmy Rainsford (drums) and Ryan Hennessy (vocals, guitar) from Athy, Ireland. They have exploded in Europe and hope to do so on this side of the Atlantic. Here is a short video that provides a better understanding of their personalities and their shared history. 

September Tour Dates:
9/7        Cambridge, MA                        The Sinclair
9/8        Philadelphia, PA                       The Foundry at The Fillmore
9/9        Washington, D.C.                     The Rock and Roll Hotel
9/12      New York, NY                           Bowery Ballroom
9/14      Toronto, ON                              Velvet Underground
9/16      Chicago, IL                               Schubas Tavern
9/19      Los Angeles, CA                       The Echo
9/21      San Francisco, CA                    Rickshaw Stop (TICKETS)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

“Sliding” by Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire – A Video and Song Review

     “Sliding” is easily divisible into two sections with fundamentally different orientations. That’s true whether your focus is directed lyrically, instrumentally or vocally. The video adds a visual dimension to the difference.

     The orientation shift is most noticeable in the lyrics. For the first section, the song reflects a mental anguish and an uncertainty (a “swithering”):
“I can feel it all sliding away from me
And I can feel it all sliding
It’s getting hard to breathe
My head’s below the sea”

     In comparison, the post-shift lyrics declare “I’m doing well, can’t you tell that I’m over the worst.” The orientation change is telegraphed by the instrumental support. Shortly after the 3:50 mark, the sound of strings enters as a short downtempo passage ends. Vocally, the song switches from being driven by the lead singer (Roddy Hart) to placing the emphasis on group vocals. Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire have the luxury of including six members with the ability to contribute to the vocals.

     In the video, the first section involves images that travel outward from the person’s (Roddy) eye. At 3:50, the direction reverses. Interestingly, the song ends with a spiral staircase being rotated, withdrawn, and re-dimensioned to fit the eye.

     Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire are based in Glasgow, Scotland. The members of the band are Roddy Hart (vocals, guitars, piano), Scott Clark (bass, vocals), Scott Mackay (drums), John Martin (guitars, vocals), Geoff Martyn (piano, organ, vocals), Gordon Turner (guitars, keys, vocals), and Andy Lucas (keys, vocals).


“Sliding” by Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire 

The “Swithering” album

Monday, July 24, 2017

“Metal” by FEWS – A Song Review

    Some days require a more intensive energy infusion than others. Coffee is useful, but not enough by itself. Today, “Metal” made the difference. It arrived from Sweden by way of the UK.

     FEWS is a quartet formed of one member from Californian and three from Sweden. They are now based in the London. The band is intentionally secretive regarding individual names. If they continue to generate music with the appeal of “Metal,” such options will be removed from their control.

     “Metal” by FEWS 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

“Blood in the Sink” by Man Made Lake – A Song Review

     The popularity of jangly guitars has varied since the 1960s, but will never die. And when the style is incorporated in a song with vocals that are diverse in their attack, sometimes compassionate and other times almost angry, jangly guitars will always be welcome. That is the case with “Blood in the Sink.”

     Man Made Lake is from Victoria, British Columbia. The members are Colin Craveiro, Nate Bailey, Stevie Parker, Aaron Blair, Bob Gronotte, and Graham Keehn.

     “Blood in the Sink” by Man Made Lake

Friday, July 21, 2017

“Gasoline” by The Federal Empire – A Song Review

      The Federal Empire is not a one-melody pony. We're ready to argue that their previous release, “What Are We Fighting For,” is the top anthem of 2017 (and top protest song). Now, they show a tender side with a relationship lament. “Gasoline” is downtempo compared to the earlier release, but has a heightened sophistication in its arrangement.
     The sophistication is most apparent during the final 90 seconds of “Gasoline,” when the song evolves texturally. Vocally, the evolution is from a single voice to harmonization within the same registration (at 3:32), then adds a higher-octave, slightly anguished voice (at 3:59), and completes the texturing when lyrical layering is employed (at 4:12). Instrumentally, thunderous percussion enters at the same time as the anguished voice.
     But sophistication is not limited to the final 90 seconds and is not a measure of complexity. For example, within the intro, a piano makes its entrance and quickly exits after only a few notes. The piano is simple, but impactful. 

     The core members of The Federal Empire are Chad Wolf and McKay Stevens. They are based in Los Angeles.

     Quoting SubmitHub content:
  This new single is very special to us. We often times use our songwriting sessions as a form of group therapy where we will all sit around and talk about our relationships and what's been happening. Our lead singer, Chad Wolf, has been married once before and divorced and now his 2nd marriage is going through a separation. This song Gasoline is about relationships ending and our self destructive habits and how our whole worlds can just disappear in the smoke and flames of it all. You can hear the heartfelt delivery in Chad's voice as he has really been broken down with this experience in his life as they have a 5 year old son together. He is trying to keep it all together and music is the main thing keeping him going right now through the tough times.
  The song can apply to anyone who has been in a relationship and seen it burned to the ground. And especially those of us who keep going through the self-destructive cycle even when we might know it is hurting us. "Play with fire you'll get burned, I should've known, I never learn". The song builds slowly with minimal, ambient production and ends with a cinematic climax. Hope you enjoy it!
  We play the Orange County Summer Concert Series Thursday night July 20th and then Sofar Sounds in Culver City Saturday night July 22nd. We also play the Chinatown Summer Nights festival August 5th in Downtown Los Angeles. Other shows include:
Alleged, Ogden, UT Sep 1st
Mount Timpanogos Festival, Orem, UT Sep 2nd
Emo Nite, Los Angeles, CA Sep 5th
Chinook Music Festival, Yakima, WA, Sep 8th
High Dive, Seattle, WA, Sep 9th
Emerge Music Festival, Las Vegas, NV Nov 16th

     “Gasoline” by The Federal Empire

Lyrics of “Gasoline” by The Federal Empire
It was perfect
We shared it all
Conversations big and small
Don’t know why we have to change

You were fire after dark
You always had a thing for sparks
Don’t know why we have to change

It’s so hard
Standing here
Watching my life

Everything I had in a burning sea
Choking on the smoke in the ash I breathe
You came into my life and
Made a whole big mess of me
With a match and gasoline

Brand new flame it starts again
A different name with the same end
I  don’t know why we have to change

Play with fire
You’ll get burned
I should’ve known
When will I learn
I don’t know why I never change

It’s so hard
Standing here
Watching my life

Everything I had in a burning sea
Choking on the smoke in the ash I breathe
You came into my life and
Made a whole big mess of me

Everything I had in a burning sea
Choking on the smoke in the ash I breathe
You came into my life and
Made a whole big mess of me
With a match and gasoline

With a match and gasoline
With a match and gasoline
With a match and gasoline

Play with fire
You’ll get burned
Should’ve known
I never learn
Play with fire
You’ll get burned
I should’ve known
When will I learn