Wednesday, October 31, 2018

“White Rabbit” by Lauren Ruth Ward – A Song Feature

      A song cover with the greatest likelihood of having an impact on the Indie Universe is a Classic Rock single covered by an artist who is fully invested in and respectful of the original, while still “owning” the single by incorporating personally meaningful touches. That describes “White Rabbit” by LA’s Lauren Ruth Ward. Talking about performing the Jefferson Airplane single, Ward said:
  "Grace Slick is the goddess of psych rock. There’s a movement happening right now in LA that I feel part of. So many women leading their own unique rock genre. I feel invincible singing Grace’s lyrics. I feel the palpable energy of all the musicians in the room when singing ‘White Rabbit.’ It’s one of those songs that give life."

     Classic Rock covers have cross-generational appeal. For the older generations, they are opportunities to nostalgically revisit a “space” occupied in the past. For younger generations, the songs are suddenly timely and not merely a reflection of pre-birth times. That may be truer of “White Rabbit” than most Classic Rock singles, since so many stories swirl around its drug-induced motivation. One explanation is that Grace Slick wrote the track at the end of an acid trip during which she continuously listened to a Mile Davis album (“Sketches of Spain”). Grace said “White Rabbit” is about the hypocrisy of parents who read drug-referencing books, such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s "Adventures In Wonderland," and then question why their children later find drug experimentation interesting.

     Lauren Ruth Ward was born in Baltimore, but moved to Los Angeles in 2015. It is there that Ward came together with a band: Liv Slingerland (bass), India Pascucci (drums) and guitarist and fellow songwriter Eddie Rivera. “They all call me ‘Mom,’” she says with a laugh. “It’s like getting three new best friends that you’re giving the most personal part of yourself.”

     “White Rabbit” (Jefferson Airplane cover) by Lauren Ruth Ward 

Lyrics of “White Rabbit”
One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
It don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has
Given you a call
And call Alice
When she’s just small

When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When the logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen is off with her head
Remember, what the dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

“Island” by Unknown Neighbour – A Song Feature

     How owns that voice? Not the male's; we know it is Berlin’s Sascha Zemke, who performs under the moniker Unknown Neighbour. We are fans! The voice in question is the female, who was masterful in the backing vocals of “Unconditional Love.” She plays a larger role in “Island,” the latest single from Unknown Neighbour. We assume it is her in the above picture, but we cannot find her name. Both songs are embedded below, because we want to reshare the video for “Unconditional Love.”

     “Island” by Unknown Neighbour

Lyrics of “Island” by Unknown Neighbour
When I feel lonely
Next to a thousand souls
The crowd seems to own me
All playing their roles

I wish I could feel you
You’re healin’ me when I’m torn
And I’m longing for calm to hide
From the storm

Then I think of you

You’re like an island
A moment of silence
In a hidden bay
I am out on the ocean
And when I need guidance
You show me the way

We’re breathing the air
That we were made for
All the worries behind us
Somewhere in the past

We're watching the sunset
A breeze strokes your hair
We slow down the world
To make this last

Then I think of you

You’re like an island
A moment of silence
In a hidden bay
I am out on the ocean
And when I need guidance
You show me the way

You, you’re like an island
A moment of silence
In a hidden bay

Monday, October 29, 2018

“Palms” by Sinclair – A Song Feature

     “Palms” is a barnburner. We had to research the term before becoming comfortable with applying it to a song we hope to see explode. As used today, a barnburner is an event that builds in excitement and intensity. “Palms” begins with a gentle, clean guitars supporting the vocals of Olivia Weston. There is a tenderness in her description of a passionate relationship. Sinclair does not include a cello player, but the song has a touch of the instrument’s unparalleled ability to reflect an emotional seriousness (at 0:38). As the track progresses, the intensities of the instruments and the vocals surge. Tender is no longer an appropriate description; “Palms” turns blazingly powerful.

     The lyrics of “Palms” are flush with imagery of the angst around being in a relationship with someone who “dominates my being.” The percussion, guitars and vocals combine to pull the listener into the passion. The song is ideal as the final song in a performance setlist. Sinclair identifies its influences as three bands we hold in high regard - Nothing But Thieves, Wolf Alice and The Joy Formidable. But our comparison of “Palms” is to Evanescence, when the band was at its peak and could leave gig-goers holding their ground at the end of a concert, knowing that the show was over, but slightly stunned by what they witnessed.

      Sinclair is based in Bristol, UK. The members are Olivia Weston (vocals), Jordan Round (guitar), Rafael Sinclair-Martins (bass), and Jonathan Snape (drums). The band is with Bristol’s Hubb Records.

     At least today, “Palms” is the only song of Sinclair on Soundcloud and Spotify. It’s times like this that brings a yearning for a stock-market equivalent that enables stock purchases in a band with all the ingredients to be disruptive in the marketplace.

      “Palms” by Sinclair

Sunday, October 28, 2018

“Backstreet” by APRE – A Song Feature

      The London duo calls itself APRE and identifies its genre as “Alternative Wonky Indie Electronic Pop.” In “Backstreet,” it’s the guitar during the final 30 seconds that moves the song from “good” to “blogworthy.”

       Quoting the email submission:
  Lyrically, ‘Backstreet’ – say the boys – is “about being lost in relationships through your life whilst trying to find a shortcut through to the backstreets of happiness.” ‘Backstreet’ suggests a duo who have found precisely what they are looking for in APRE itself, a band whose songs frequently twist those most private moments into songs full of brains, heart, and laser-guided melodies.
  Part of what makes APRE special is an eye for detail that looks beyond just the immediate songs they make. The band’s imagery is often shrouded in suburbia, but with a surreal, sometimes-dislocated edge (where outsider and insider are unclear). Time also figures frequently, from the lyrical and visual nods around APRE’s early releases to a sound that draws on the past, and portrays an uncertain future. Even the band name itself begs questions (one version goes that it was inspired by a French girlfriend who kept saying Apres, whilst another interpretation might be that it drops you into a story always evolving, neither at its beginning nor its end). As with any genuinely-aspirational band, everything in APRE’s world matters and yet to the outside eye, not everything makes total sense - which is precisely the point (“none of us really know what we are doing anymore”).

     “Backstreet” by APRE

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Hold Your Judgment - Free Friday/Saturday (“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 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/Saturday.
     Each of today’s tracks is available via Triple J Unearthed, the outstanding Australian site. And each is a song that cannot be fully appreciated until the song reaches its completion.
     “I” by Royce:
  It would be a mistake to assume you fully appreciate this song before the 2:09 mark, when the long term crescendo begins. From that point, the song becomes increasingly powerful, then concludes in an emotional apology.

     Quoting her bio:
  I’m 15 and from Melbourne. I’ve been writing songs and singing for a few years now, and music is my go-to when I’m dealing with anything in my life.
  ‘I' will be released on 1 November but I'm putting it up early on Unearthed to see what you think. It's my most personal song yet and Frank Dixon and I had a great time putting it together - up the volume for the instrumental solo.

     “I” by Royce – To access the free download, go to the Triple J site and click the download arrow (

     “Voices” by Middle Management:
  It would be a mistake to judge this song before the 2:37 mark, when guitars sequentially enter at higher frequencies. Initially, it’s a brief bass solo, which is then joined by a first 6-string guitar and shortly thereafter by a higher frequency 6-string guitar.

     Quoting the band’s description of the song:
  'Voices' immediately hurls you into a galvanizing hypnotic groove as the guitars strap you in for the ride. Neatly woven between an upbeat trance-like rhythmic melody the vocals explore that voice in your head that pushes, pulls, twists and turns you, a reflective look into personality, vulnerability and accepting change.
    Sam, William, Stefan, Josh

     “Voices” by Middle Management – To access the free download, go to the Triple J site and click the download arrow


     Sedona” by The Steele Syndicate:
  It would be a mistake to judge this song before the 2:40 mark, when “Sedona” begins to travel through a sequence of soundscapes characteristic of Sedona, Arizona.

     The 8 members of the Brisbane-based band are Steele McMahon, Mitchel Howard, Ambrose Mollenhauer, Jordan Brunoli, Will Baxter, Jamie Stevens, Henry Meehan, and Lachlan Glaves.

     “Sedona” by The Steele Syndicate – To access the free download, go to the Triple J site and click the download arrow (

     “Funky Trombone” by The Steele Syndicate - this is our favorite song by The Steele Syndicate – To access the free download, go to the Triple J site and click the download arrow (

Friday, October 26, 2018

“Ghost” by KidEyes – A Song Feature

     Each October, song submissions with intentional or unintentional connections to Halloween sensibilities come rolling in. There are several enjoyable tracks within the collection, but few that are blogworthy. Thus far, the 2018 standout is “Ghost,” which is related to Halloween in title only. The song from KidEyes is about an unintended love.

     KidEyes is based in Los Angeles. Benjamin G. Epand is a composer, producer and guitar player. He typically works with Greg Cahn, as he did with the song ”Let Go,” which was featured in August.

      “Ghost” by KidEyes

Thursday, October 25, 2018

“Rollin’” by Shaun Jacobs – A Song Feature

     We don’t know if it’s fair or whether it’s politically correct, but our expectations around the sophistication of rhythm, and particularly percussion, are heightened when we note that a song has a connection to South Africa. “Rollin’” doesn’t disappoint. The single from Shaun Jacobs is ushered in via large-diameter drumming; and the rhythm, while varied in its presentation, is consistently infectious with respect to spreading to body parts of the listener.

     Still, the attractiveness of “Rollin’” is more than its rhythmic contributions. The voice of Shaun Jacobs is impassioned. There are elements of Soul and Blues. We enjoy the guitar-driven bridge (at 0:36) almost as much as the piano-driven bridge that begins one minute later.

     Shaun Jacobs moved for his hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa, despite his growing success in his home country. Jacobs won a SAMA (South African Music Award) for the Adult Contemporary Album of the Year. He was also nominated for Best Producer and Best Engineer. Jacobs is now based in Los Angeles.

     “Rollin’” by Shaun Jacobs

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

“Dirty Pictures” by Behaviorist – A Song Feature

      “Dirty Pictures” is characterized by thoughtful composition, orchestral texturing, and intelligently indelicate lyrics. The instruments at the start of the flagship single from Behaviorist immediately establish a tension and a sense of yearning. The vocals enter and cooperate with the instruments to set the expectation that “Dirty Pictures” will live in the upper octaves. That expectation is abruptly disrupted by the depth and grandeur of the baritone sax of Stephen Chen.

     Expectations are also significant to the subject matter of the lyrics. The male protagonist enjoys dirty pictures in a magazine (the primary source of erotica until the entry of the Internet). The difficulty stems from the misalignment of fantasy and reality. During attempted intimacy, his body mounts an “insurrection.” The female voice enters after the “lights go up,” and she ends up apologizing. Masterfully, the baritone sax is jumpy while she talks, which we interpret as representing the tension in the conversation.

     Behaviorist self-describes its genre as misanthropop. We favor Chamber Pop/Orchestral Rock, with the combination of brass and instruments that are “standard” to Indie bands. Behaviorist is the solo project of Stephan Chen, the baritone saxophonist of Brooklyn’s San Fermin. In addition to the sax in “Dirty Pictures,” he provides vocals, keyboards and programming. But he has help. The female voice belongs to Ella Joy Meir of Iris Lune. Other important contributions are made by Ian Chang (drums), Aaron Liao (bass), Asher Kurtz (guitar), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar), and Adam Dotson (trombone, euphonium).

     Quoting content that we find relevant:
  "Named after the psychological revolution that imagined living beings as manipulable machines, Behaviorist takes an incisively critical look at human behavior with startlingly frank lyrics set over ever-shifting musical arrangements. Chen’s urgent constancy on saxophone contrasts his plaintive vocals, while symphonic horns and pianos ebb between icy, electronic stillnesses and flashes of 80’s rock."

      “Dirty Pictures” by Behaviorist

Lyrics of “Dirty Pictures” by Behaviorist
Skin’s deceptive resolution 
Underneath my fingertips
Hanging on those paper lips

Bodies photographed in fusion
Sends a shiver up my spine 
Cause I’m alone this time

Oh lover dear, when the lights go down
You illuminate all my fears and all my doubts
Oh lover dear, cause I’m used to seeing
Dirty pictures in a magazine

Point my name in your direction
See if you can make it loud
C’mon baby make me proud

Fuck my body’s insurrection
It doesn’t recognize your touch
Afraid you didn’t make the cut


Oh lover dear, when the lights come up
May your eyes swing shut
Cause we both adore
A body we can’t touch
I know you fear my disappointment
But it points inside of me
Why can’t you take my love?
Sorry I’m not enough

(chorus 2x)

Monday, October 22, 2018

“Resister” by She Drew the Gun – A Song Feature

     She is a caffeinated Courtney Barnett. Louisa Roach of She Drew the Gun writes intelligent, potentially impactful lyrics, but with a greater emphasis on melody than does Barnett. “Resister” is a single from the band’s album “Revolution Of Mind.” In a discussion of the record, Louisa Roach stated that if here is a central theme, it is liberation: “Empowerment; resisting; arming yourself with knowledge; questioning the status quo, questioning your own state of mind and how it's affected by the systems we live in.”

     Roach is from Wirral, UK. We thank Lorraine Long of Charmfactory ( for bringing “Resister” to our attention.

     “Resister” by She Drew the Gun

Lyrics of “Resister” by She Drew the Gun
Oppose the flow, or take the role,
They’re only asking for your body and soul
And your mind is not your own
Until you comprehend their forms of control

All the underdogs, black sheep,
Fighters of the powers that be
In tenements, high rises,
Freedom fighters, the outsiders

‘Cos some of us are healing,
And some of us are feeding a pain,
We just need to speak it
So we can proceed again,

Hey sister, don't let your heart close its fist yeah
You got to, get up up be a resister
You got to, get up up be a resister

Sometimes it’s too much you know
And now I know they’ve got you feeling down low
But there’s just one way to dig ourselves from this hole
‘Cos true change only comes from below

Breeze riders, occupiers, residing
In otherwise sidelined quarters,
On doorways, on corners, and borders

‘Cos some of us are healing,
And some of us are feeding a pain,
And we just need to speak it
So we can proceed again,

Hey sister, don't let your heart close its fist yeah
You got to, get up up be a resister
You got to, get up up be a resister
Hey sister, don't let your heart close its fist yeah
You got to, get up up be a resister
You got to, get up up be a resister

The slackers, the sleepless, the homeless, the loners
Sex workers with a service, street workers risking murder
On council estates reclaiming space, from ethical leaders
And we just need to speak it so we can proceed again

Hey sister, don't let your heart close its fist yeah
You got to, get up up be a resister
You got to, get up up be a resister
Hey sister, don't let your heart close its fist yeah
You got to, get up up be a resister
You got to, get up up be a resister