Thursday, August 31, 2017

“Caribe” by Black Flowers Café – A Song Review

     Black Flowers Café is an Indie Rock band in Cosenza, Italy. At times, an accent is detectable during their song “Caribe,” but it’s the guitar that positively distinguishes the song from other blogworthy tracks.

     The members of Black Flowers Café are Angelo Zicca (guitar)  Antonio Nicoletti (drums, percussion), Gaetano Lidonnici (bass), and Fernando Rennis (vocals, guitar, synth). “Caribe” is a track from their most recent EP, which is entitled “Islands.”

     According to the SubmitHub content from the band:
  "The music of the Italian quartet is based on the foundations of an unpredictable and kaleidoscopic sound, where hypnotic rhythm and liquid guitars are crossed through by synths, percussions and fragments of afrobeat.
  'Islands' is a tribute to Derek Walcott, a refuge where you can deal with childhood memories ('Never Trust Me'), dreams to tell ('January') and imaginary stories ('Caribe')."

     “Caribe” by Black Flowers Café 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

“We Always Lose” by KARMS – A Song Review

     KARMS presents a unique approach to an anthem. Listening to all but the last few seconds of “We Always Lose,” the takeaway is a pessimistic one – “you can’t win, because you are surrounded by doubters and enemies.” There are hints of messaging a positive approach; then the chorus returns and the black cloud settles in. That is fine, music can motivate, but that’s not its only role. The lead and backing vocals are strong; they can carry the track. And we enjoy the Rock guitar that drives the bridge at 2:28.
     As the track nears its end, the vocal tempo explodes and the messaging disperses the black cloud. It starts with “So don't be sorry, you are you.” [Wait, did I hear right?] Then comes “Carry on, don't fall and you will see the end is not the end.” [Yes, I am hearing correctly.] Well done KARMS!

     It’s been too long since our last post that involved brothers. KARMS include a brother pairing. The band is from Dublin, Ireland, and is formed of Colm O’Loughlin (vocals, guitar), Stephen/”Ste” O’Loughlin (guitar, vocals), Danny Farrelly (bass, vocals) and Jay Maleney (drums).
     The video is at the bottom of this post. It features Rebecca Daly, Fia McCabe, Sian Kiernan, and Grainne Conville dancing in the streets of Dublin. 

     “We Always Lose” by KARMS

Lyrics of “We Always Lose” by KARMS
We lay with animals
Because the city doesn't know us
The city doesn't know us
We scare ourselves away doing
What other people do

This is a getaway
A life we share with enemies
We hold less time for listening
An eye for awful wondering

Come now, the crocked and the elephant
The city doesn't know us
These dreamers always show up
Dream big, we're animals
We do it slow or do it over

This is a getaway
A life we share with enemies
We hold less time for listening
An eye for awful wondering
An eye for saying sorry but

We always lose
Even when we win they're doubting you
We always lose
Even when we win they're doubting you

Be still
This memory is temporary
Restart this heart
I want it to feel whole again

This is a getaway
A life we share with enemies
We hold less time for listening
An eye for awful wondering
An eye for saying sorry but

We always lose
Even when we win they're doubting you
We always lose
Even when we win they're doubting you

We always lose
Even when we win they're doubting you
We always lose
Even when we win they're doubting you
So don't be sorry, you are you
They say that dreamers are believers
Carry on, don't fall and you will see the end is not the end
It’s just the end abusing you
Say sorry

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Severed Seams" and “Heavy Lines” by Happy Abandon – Song Reviews

     Over the last few years, Orchestral Rock has received increasing attention in the Indie universe. It’s well deserved. Perhaps more than any other genre, the appreciation of Orchestral Rock is driven by concert attendance. The turning point for us was seeing two Orchestral Rock bands on the same day, when San Fermin and The Family Crest performed at a festival in Monterey, California.

     An opportunity to attend a performance in this genre may be headed your way. Happy Abandon is touring. The current list of tour stops is at the bottom of this post. Happy Abandon is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, so West Coast visits aren’t the norm. They are promoting their debut album, “Facepaint,” which was released on Schoolkids Records. The members of the band are Peter Vance (lead vocals, guitars, banjo, percussion), Jake Waits (percussion, backing vocals), Justin Ellis (synth, bass, mandolin, woodwinds, backing vocals), and (at times) Alex Thompson (piano, keyboards, harmonium, synth, backing vocals).

     Our favorite songs from the “Facepaint” album are "Severed Seams" and “Heavy Lines.” Both songs are dynamic in structure and varied in instrumental support. “Severed Seams” begins gently, with the guitars more closely aligned with Post Rock than with Orchestral Rock. It’s the second half or “Severed Seams” that includes the instrumental texturing, complexity and variety that characterize the genre. In talking about "Severed Seams," Peter Vance explained:
  "[It] marks the transition between my older roots of folky, acoustic, singer-songwriter music into the more dynamic, ambient, and cinematic sound that is found in the songs that I write for Happy Abandon. The song fell into a period of my life where I found myself floating about aimlessly. The song itself talks of discomfort in the domestic lifestyle that comes from being a young adult, and transitioning into new and unexplored facets of life. Sometimes this wanderlust requires disconnecting from the comforts you relied on. It has always felt like the best representation of what Happy Abandon is all about; intimate and thoughtful, yet dramatic and intense."

     "Severed Seams" 

     In contrast, there is nothing gentle about the intro of “Heavy Lines.” The track begins with percussion rolling and then guitars blazing. The strings are prominent at times, such as the segment beginning at 1:48 and during the lead-in for the well-executed crescendo at 4:16.  

      “Heavy Lines” 

     In support of the new album, Happy Abandon will be on tour from September to November, hitting stages in Denver, Portland, Los Angeles, and Austin, among others. The band has a penchant for heavy production and multi-layered harmonies to “portray musically what the lyrics are trying to convey,” says Vance. “We want to put on a show. If you just want to listen to the album, you can do that at home. But when you come and pay for a ticket we want to give you an experiential show.”

9/21: Denver, CO – Syntax Physic Opera
9/27: Vancouver, BC – The Belmont Bar
9/28: Seattle, WA – Vermillion
10/2: Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
10/7: Los Angeles, CA – Hotel Café
10/11: Phoenix, AZ – The Los Leaf
10/13: Austin, TX – Hole In The Wall
10/17: Birmingham, AL – The Nick
10/20: Bryson City, NC – Nantahala Brewing Company
11/11: Richmond, VA – Gallery5
9/19 (Tuesday)- Manhattan, KS - Church of Swole
9/22 (Friday) - Grand Junction, CO - Baron's

Monday, August 28, 2017

“Dream To Keep Us Going” by Easy Wanderlings – A Song Review

     Typically, attempts to repeatedly shift the driving force within a song meet with failure. “Dream To Keep Us Going” is an exception. The track retains its Pop, easy flowing vibe from start to finish, but does so within a spotlight that is mounted to swivel.

     Even the intro has two parts. “Dream To Keep Us Going” begins with an acoustic guitar and one-syllable vocals sharing the spotlight. Other instruments (such a delicate electric guitar) provide short-term support. This continues until 1:18, when part two of the intro is controlled by an electric guitar. In the body of the song, male vocals drive the song, with only a hint that Easy Wanderlings includes a second person with lead-vocals capability. That changes at 2:24, when the spotlight shifts to the second vocalist, and the track is female vocals-driven. Later, the spotlight is on a 1970’s George Benson guitar (3:41), until a band shout of “Wooo” marks a shift to a saxophone drive (4:09).

     Finding information about Easy Wanderlings is not an easy task, so we included a video of five members at a Sofar event. The group is based in Pune, India. Names that have surfaced are Pratika Gopinath, Sharad Rao, Malay Vadalkar, Parmarth Rai, Sanyanth Naroth, Abraham Zachariah, and Nitin M Krishna.

     “Dream To Keep Us Going” by Easy Wanderlings

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Music from “Shooter” – First Season

     Watching an entire season of a television series within seven days has a number of advantages. One  is it is that it’s more apparent when praise should be extended to the person or people selecting the music and deciding which snippets are to accompany particular scenes. We binge watched the first season of “Shooter” via Netflix. The music selection started slowly, but certainly improved. Our favorite episode in terms of music was the sixth (of ten), which included “What Went Down” by Foals and “Walking On Fire” by Rilan and the Bombardiers. 

     “What Went Down” by Foals 

     “Walking On Fire” by Rilan and the Bombardiers

Saturday, August 26, 2017

“Manea” by The Howl & The Hum – A Song Review

     “Manea” is evidence of what would occur if members of Alt-J were to morph into the members of Radiohead within the length of one song. Admittedly, the first portion of the track is more Alt-J than the second portion is Radiohead. But a post-morph change to more closely approach Radiohead would probably mean modifying the guitar/bass that is our favorite part of “Manea.”

     The Howl & The Hum released “Manea” as one of three tracks on an EP entitled “Godmanchester Chinese Bridge.” All three songs are arguably the strongest on the EP. We side with the argument for “Manea” because of the forcefulness in the vocals and the brooding in the guitars.

     The band is based in York, UK. The members of The Howl & The Hum are Sam Griffiths (vocals, guitar), Conor Hirons (guitar), Bradley Blackwell (bass), and Jack Williams (drums). Quoting a portion of the email submission from Toast Press:
   “Across their debut EP, The Howl & The Hum draw on sounds which feel simultaneously epic and intimate, uplifting yet melancholic: from the experimental, electronic textures of The Cure or Massive Attack to the atmospheric, transatlantic rock of The National, via a love of classic songwriters like Townes Van Zandt. Four university friends from four different walks of life, performing as The Howl & The Hum was first inspired by Ginsberg's poem 'Howl', which is the call, with 'the Hum' appearing to be a more modern response. The band then introduced themselves with the emotional video to 'Godmanchester Chinese Bridge', which was created using footage that singer Sam found of his grandparents' golden wedding anniversary from the year before he was born (with their anniversary-waltz reconnecting him to a couple who have long since passed away).”

     “Manea” by The Howl & The Hum 

Friday, August 25, 2017

“Not Worth Hiding” by Alex the Astronaut - Free Friday (“FL&R”)

     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.
     In a song that intelligently transitions among targeted audiences, “Not Worth Hiding” is an anthem about accepting who you are. It begins autobiographically, starting with unsuccessfully hiding a “difference” at age 16 and concluding, at age 19, that it’s not worth hiding a preference:
You’re perfect just the same.”

     The next audience is those who don’t share the preference:
So tell me anyone
If you loved them as a daughter
Could you love them as a son

     Then, the anthem turns to others who share the preference. It’s here that the instrumental support is particularly praiseworthy. The impact of the message is enhanced by strategically scaling back the support, as first the percussion and then the acoustic guitar fall off during the lines:
But that cages that they’ve made us should soon just rust away
And this song just won’t need singing but for now I’ll let it play

     Alex the Astronaut is the performance name of Alex Lynn. She is from Sydney, Australia, but is currently studying in New York. “Not Worth Hiding” is a single from her second EP, "See You Soon." The EP is scheduled for release on October 6 via Minkowski Records.
     “Not Worth Hiding” by Alex the Astronaut – To access the free download, go to Triple J site ( and click the down arrow.  

Lyrics of “Not Worth Hiding” by Alex the Astronaut
(thank you Rick Moreno for sending them our way)

I learnt to drive to school when I was 16
And I was happy with my friends
And we skipped class for time to breathe
We learnt about the stars and the trees
I cried when I found kissing boys wasn’t for me

So I tried every trick in the book
I tried talking to the pretty boys
I changed the way I looked
But wearing dresses to impress just left me lonely and upset
And the boys could tell when I looked at her
I wasn’t interested in them

It’s not worth hiding if you have something to say
And it’s not worth smiling if you’re feeling in pain
And it’s not worth hiding that you think you might be gay
Or different in another way
You’re perfect just the same

I opened the paper and it left me ashamed
Said these contagious gays aren’t safe and
You should keep your kids away
But I grew older and bolder but my friends caught on slowly
Nineteen and we threw all the weight from my shoulders
We sang,
It’s not worth hiding if you have something to say
And it’s not worth smiling if you’re feeling in pain
And it’s not worth hiding that you think you might be gay
Or different in another way
You’re perfect just the same

So tell me anyone
If you loved them as a daughter
Could you love them as a son
We all smile at different faces
We all blush at different names
But holding someone’s hand
Should never make you feel ashamed

Your story might not be at all like mine
I don’t mean to simplify
This should be in your own voice and your own time
But that cages that they’ve made us should soon just rust away
And this song just won’t need singing but for now I’ll let it play

It’s not worth hiding if you’ve got something to say
And it’s not worth dying for the people who don’t smile at your name
It’s not worth lying if you’re feeling in pain
And it’s not worth hiding, because happiness could be on the way

Thursday, August 24, 2017

“Sweeter The Sound” by The Empty House Band – A Song Review

     The intro of “Sweeter the Sound” is a combination of a guitar hook that resides in an upper frequency range and humming that sits much lower. The contrast is the first call to attention. Toward the end of the intro, the hum is joined by a female voice. Soon, the body of the song bursts in, and it lives up to the expectations raised by the intro. The song belongs to The Empty House Band, while the female voice belongs to Freya Volk.

     The Empty House Band is based in London. The members are Charles Bush, Harry Phillips, Toby Taylor, Joe Haeger, and Tom Enser. “Sweeter The Sound” is one of three tracks on the EP entitled “Between Blue.” According to Joe, the EP is “a mix of folk influenced travis picking and harmony, with a bit more volume and layering than traditional folk!”

     “Sweeter The Sound” by The Empty House Band

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

“Everything They Said” by Surf Rock Is Dead – A Song Review

     Embracing Surf Rock in every aspect other than their band’s name, the duo of Kevin Pariso and Joel Witenberg will push further into the Indie universe with the release of “Everything They Said.” Armed with the technical skills for sustained quick-twitch guitar and attention-gripping bass, Surf Rock Is Dead has the traction to make that push.

     “Everything They Said” is New Wave Dream-Pop with an emphasis on Surf guitar. The closest match is probably fellow Brooklynites DIIV. But Surf Rock Is Dead has a greater sophistication in its use of subtle energy shifts and guitar fills.

     Surf Rock is Dead is formed of Kevin Pariso (guitar, vocals) and Joel Witenberg (vocals, bass). Kevin is originally from Chicago and Joel from Melbourne, but they are now based in Brooklyn. Their five-track EP, "We Have No Friends?, is scheduled for release on October 6, 2017 (although the Bandcamp site indicates a slightly shorter wait period – September 22). According to the duo, the title of the EP is appropriate:
  “The phrase ‘we have no friends’ is a running joke and half-truth between the band.” Says Pariso about the namesake of the EP. “When we formed the project we would spend late weekend nights jamming and writing music instead of spending it out with friends. Putting time into a creative project definitely can hamper your social life but the idea is that the fruit it bears will be worth the sacrifices.

     “Everything They Said” by Surf Rock Is Dead 

Lyrics of “Everything They Said” by Surf Rock Is Dead
(“Inspired by the political climate in America.”)

Everything they said
They said to me
To open up the doors
To the writing on the wall

The truth is always hard
But now they see
Emptiness is there
And it’s leading to their fall

They fed us all the lies
But who believes
We should break away
So the people can be free

Everything they said
Everything they said
They’ve broken all the ties
For you and me

Everything they said
Was only lies
All the lies
They told us were the truth

Everything they said
Everything they said

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Swim-Related Bands

     We noticed that our list of blogworthy songs included three by bands with names related to “swim.” The first song is “Collide” by Swim Season. It begins simply, but approaches almost orchestral at times. The members of the Melbourne-based band are James Seymour (Vocals/Guitar), Matthew Jennings (Guitar, vocals), Danielle Smarrelli (Keys, vocals), Nelson Yeung (bass), and Jonathon Ferraro (drums).

     “Collide” by Swim Season Music

     Twice, we grabbed an opportunity to see Swimm in concert. The first time was at an all-too-small venue in San Francisco and the second was at SXSW 2016. Both experiences were positive ones. The core of Swimm is the duo of Chris Hess and Adam Winn.

     “Speak Politely” by SWIMM

     Visiting a third continent in this post, Safe to Swim is a Brighton band. We are fans of their song “Struggling.”