Thursday, October 31, 2019

“LA Vampire” by Blitz Vega – A Song Feature

     The release of “LA Vampire” was timed for Halloween, but the message and the allure of the single from Blitz Vega will be on-going. With a kick-the-door-down start of a quick “Fump” (the sound, not the guitar device) followed by energized/energizing guitar and percussion, the song clearly announces its intentions. “LA Vampire” entices rhythmic movement from listeners.

     It is easy to focus on the drive of the psychedelic guitar riff, but the percussion also desires attention. Particularly during the final minute of “LA Vampire,” the percussion is outstanding. Lyrically, the song is about “the dangers of soul suckers preying on the weak.” The band is careful in noting that they appreciate and love Los Angeles and the inspirations it brought to Blitz Vega. Still:
  "This song is a comedic look on the people who prey on others to give them their own power back, whether in love, the workplace or in the entertainment industry," explains KAV. "You can bump into these characters anywhere. They can fixate on you and try to take you away, add you to their collection of lost souls. This song is based on true stories... but don’t take it too seriously!"

     Blitz Vega is the bi-coastal duo Andy Rourke (bass) and KAV Blaggers (lead vocals, guitar). One of the most revered bass players in alternative music, New Yorker Andy Rourke helped craft the iconic sound of the '80s with The Smiths, who critics have called the most important alternative rock band to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s. KAV (Kav Sandu) was formally with Happy Mondays. He is the LA connection, having lived in the city for 12 years. During live performances, Blitz Vega adds Thomas Arizmendi (guitar, backing vocals), Asa Brown (keyboards, backing vocals), Greg Gent (guitar, backing vocals), and Craig Eriksson (drums). 

     Rourke explains, “We have so much more music 'in the bag.’ Lots of releases coming at you soon, plus more live shows & festivals in the works. I'm beyond excited and proud of this band! We hope to see you soon!"

     “LA Vampire” by Blitz Vega


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

“Knocked The Wind Right Out Of Me” by Callum Pitt - A Song Feature

     The War On Drugs influence is on display in “Knocked The Wind Right Out Of Me.” But as some guy we don’t know anything about (Steven Covey) said, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” Callum Pitt holds other skills that enable him to own his sound.

      “Knocked The Wind Right Out Of Me” begins with a tender guitar and piano combination. Initially, the vocals join without a jump in tempo and without the guitar characteristics of The War on Drugs. Then, the song takes the turn at 0:48, but only temporarily.

     Callum Pitt is an Indie Folk musician from Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. In addition to The War On Drugs, he identifies his influences as Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes.

     “Knocked The Wind Right Out Of Me” by Callum Pitt

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

“Conspiracy of Silence” by The Swoons – A Song Feature

     Every song is a “work of art,” and many blogs regularly refer to the musicians as artists. But as with paintings, sculptures and other forms of art, some songs are superior in carrying beauty and emotional power. “Conspiracy of Silence” by The Swoons has a superiority. The lyrics emphasis impact over rhyme; the vocals are dynamic, with the chorus being particularly moving; and the instrumental arrangement skillfully shifts the ambiance to align with the lyrical content and changes in the vocal presentation.

      The Swoons are Matt Underwood, Tony Ann, Giacomo Timbrello, and Trevor Myall, hailing from London, Toronto, Los Angeles and Vancouver/Newfoundland respectively. The group was founded by Matt and Tony, while attending college in Boston, MA, over their love for popular music and songwriting/composition. Giacomo was later introduced to the group through a mutual friend. Trevor studied at the same college in Boston, but didn’t know Matt and Tony until later.

     The backing vocalists in “Conspiracy of Silence” are Robin Small, Tony McLendin, Laurone McLendin, and Serina Guarantes. The cello play belongs to Claire-Marie Solomon.

     “Conspiracy of Silence” by The Swoons

Lyrics of “Conspiracy of Silence” by The Swoons
Caught in a fire
Oh heavenly father
Said he’s taking’ a smoke, but he never came home
Musta fell off the world

The rise and the fall
A shift in the faults
The ultimate violence
Conspiracy of silence

There’s a rising in the sea
Don’t get swallowed by the deep
Forever, everybody knows
Come hell or high water
Time’s gonna have the final say

You find safety in the hush
Keep on gamblin’ on your luck
However, everybody knows
The wicked ain’t resting when everything slows

Are you sick to the bone?
Cause you reap what you sow
Will you fight for your life or take a fool’s paradise
And just flip the remote

There’s a rising in the sea
Don’t get swallowed by the deep
Forever, everybody knows
Come hell or high water
Time’s gonna have the final say

You find safety in the hush
Keep on gamblin’ on your luck
However, everybody knows
Live or die, living lies, never was time

Say anything

Don’t know where you side (say)
There’s blood in your eyes (say)
Will you weapon your skin (say)
Feed the monster within
Or put up a fight (say)

Monday, October 28, 2019

“I Know” by SMO – A Song Review

     The guitar in “I Know” is the antithesis of shoegaze – the notes are short, clear and clean. Count us among the fans of shoegaze, but the song from SMO is masterfully executed and refreshingly enjoyable.

     “I Know” is a single from the album “Plastic Scenes” of SMO (Sex Machine Octopus), a band based in Montreal, Canada. Three of the members were friends in high school - Laurent Boland (vocals, guitar), Oliver Cohen-Daigle (bass) and Samuel Morissette (drums). The fourth, Georges Gagnon (guitar), joined a few months after the start.

     “I Know” by Sex Machine Octopus

     The guitar is almost frantic in the “Rolling Thunder” portion of “Hidden Tiger//Rolling Thunder”

Lyrics of “I Know” by Sex Machine Octopus
I know, there’s something beautiful
From all the sadness and tears that you left me

And I know, there must be something wrong
Cause I’m addicted and I can’t help it

Hauntingly beautiful and better than anything we could say

Sadness, that’s in your lips and eyes
I can’t stand it because it makes me mad

You don’t know, what you represent to me
Yo’reu passionate and unhealthy
I’ve fallen into your wings
They never fly, they never did no
It may sound like an overwhelming
Sad song about love but I can’t help it

And I know, there must be something wrong
And I know, there must be something wrong
There must be something wrong
There must be something wrong

Today, was an ordinary day
I never felt this way, I never felt so sane
One day we’ll look back, and we will laugh, but
But for now, I’m being eaten alive (x2)
Getting alive (repeating)

I’m getting eaten alive (2x)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

“Falling Asleep” by Tiz McNamara - Free Saturday (“FL&R”)

     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 Free, Legal and Recommended (FL&R) song each Saturday.

     Quoting the bio of Tiz McNamara:
  Originally a drummer since the age of 3, Tiz went on to study a music degree course in the prestigious Liverpool institute for Performing Arts. In his second year at LIPA, Tiz narrowly avoided having his foot amputated after a piano fell on it, but the injury was so severe it forced him to swap his drums for a guitar in order to continue on the course. Shortly after changing instruments Tiz took up singing and began to write his own songs including his first ever penned tune “Falling Asleep” which appears on this debut EP “April Fool.”

     “Falling Asleep” by Tiz McNamara

Friday, October 25, 2019

“Answers” by Trenton - A Song Feauture

      Trenton crafts intelligent lyrics that seem to peek into our deeper thoughts, then amplifies the emotional attachment with carefully considered instrumental support. The lyrics are profoundly relatable despite their depth, but Trenton leaves a touch of vagueness that encourages personal interpretation. “Answers” is sprinkled with introspective questions, both about life and the hereafter. Then, there is a seemingly isolated thought (“But you’re gone and I can’t breathe”) that causes wonder whether the song was inspired by the death or other loss of a loved one or by religious doubt. 

     Trenton’s attention to detail is immediately apparent. The intro is solitary spoken-language existential thinking. After the first question, the sound of strings joins the speaker. A steady-beat kick drum enters a few lines later. With the end of the intro, a piano caresses reflections upon departure from the innocence of youth. A brilliant use of the piano occurs at 2:38, when it is briefly left by itself.

      Trenton is the performance name of Ryan Courtney. He is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Last week, his Facebook post noted, “I’m tracking vocals this weekend for a recent song I wrote. It’s one my favorites. It’s about the world ending, but being at peace because you are with the ones you love. I want you to hear it.” We look forward to the experience.

     “Answers” by Trenton

Lyrics of “Answers” by Trenton
When I look out on the horizon,
So vast and endless,
Why does it feel like a mirror?
Like a reflection of what’s always been?
In my body. In my chest.
What happens when we leave this place?
Is it dark?
Is it light?
Do the particles of who we are become like one?
Am I losing myself?
Maybe that’s the point

I was born, born unafraid
Intricate and joyful I was made
When the fear, fear found us
It stripped away the wonder in our bones

Am I bitter?
Am I better than I was before?
Can I make sense of these closing doors?
Is it too late?
Is the future etched in stone?

Sometimes the world comes undone
Coming undone, it’s coming undone
Thought that I was stronger
I can’t do this on my own
Not on your own, you’re not on your own

Standing on the mountain’s crest of green
Jumping with a parachute you cannot see
Desire burning and burning
Here am I yearning and turning to a cheapened disguise
I want to be free, I want to be lightened
But you’re gone and I can’t breathe

I don’t have the answers
Sometimes the world comes undone
Coming undone, it’s coming undone
Thought that I was stronger
I can’t do this on my own
Not on your own, you’re not on your own

I don’t have the answers
I don’t have the answers

Thursday, October 24, 2019

“Mouthbreather” by Saltwater Sun – A Song Feature

     Saltwater Sun excel at bonding aggressive, force-varying vocals with instrumental accompaniment that is powerful and hook-filled. If you use an app that generates alerts when attractive concert opportunities arise, it is time to enter Saltwater Sun as a band of strong preference. “Mouthbreather” adds to their list of songs that demand attendance.

      “Mouthbreather” is perhaps the most consistently aggressive song in the discography of Saltwater Sun. Even so, vocalist Jen Stearnes regularly shifts cadence, volume and combativeness to fully embrace the lyrical message. The guitars and percussion are also committed and well-tailored to the message. In explaining the song, Jen Stearnes said:
  “Mouthbreather is a monumental rant about the myriad people who get on Saltwater Sun’s collective last nerve. Loud chewers, bad drivers and mansplainers – the list goes on! Sure, we could be the bigger people and rise above, but where’s the fun in that?”

     Saltwater Sun is a Reading UK band of childhood friends. The members are Jen Stearnes (vocals), Joel Neale (guitar), Dan Kingham (guitar), Rob Carter (bass) and Ben Chandler (drums). They describe themselves as “a quintet crafting sun-drenched, blistering pop. Punctured by explosive guitars and deftly fusing elements of shoegaze and indie with the edginess of garage rock.”

     “Mouthbreather” by Saltwater Sun

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

“Drifters, All” by Beauts – A Song Feature

     For more than two minutes, “Drifters, All” holds a near-religious dedication to rhythm. The early guitar emphasizes rhythm over melody. When the percussion enters, it does so with a powerful and steady beat. The vocals administer the melody, but with a rhythmic delivery. The first 2:17 of the song from Beauts have sensibilities in common with “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem, but with an increased flow.

     As the song progresses, melodic guitar and other instruments become more successful in pushing into “Drifters, All.” Particularly during the final minute, the single from Beauts is consistent with the description at the band’s Facebook site:
  “Beauts are a band from Halifax who play rock songs that are scrappy and melodic. Sacrificing chops for gusto, Beauts’ songs are full of bittersweet hooks and shout-along choruses.”

     The members of the Canadian band are Darryl Smith (guitar, vocals), Palmer Jamieson (guitar, vocals), Joel Waddell (drums), Erik Van Lunen (bass, vocals), and Jeff Lawton (vocals). The credits of “Drifters, All” state that the horns are horns by Andrew Jackson and Paul St-Amand. 

     Beauts released their self-titled EP in 2015, their second EP “Waves/Wash” in 2016, and the “Artisans/Always Entertaining” single in 2017. Their song "Ether" reached no. 5 on the CBC Radio 3 R3-30, and their song "Waves/Wash" peaked at no. 22 on the charts. Beauts are currently at work on their debut full-length LP, to be released in the fall of 2019. The strength of “Drifters, All” bodes well for  the LP. 

     “Drifters, All” by Beauts


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

“All In (ft. Vera Kebbe)” by Luna Bay - A Song Feature

     The contributions to the vocals in “All In” are fluid, yet consistently interesting and inviting. The song is from the UK band Luna Bay with a major assist from Swedish singer/songwriter Vera Kebbe. “All In” is vocally driven, although the controls change hands often. The track begins with Connor O’Mara, the lead vocalist of Luna Bay. Later, Vera Kebbe takes the lead. The vocals are most attractive when the controls are shared and are most interesting with a brief band shout at the 0:47 mark. Is that a shout of “Do-si-do”?

     The percussion is also worthy of focus, as it is sometimes forceful and other times almost non-existent. Another question – Is that a cowbell or a woodblock in the first 20 seconds of “All In (ft. Vera Kebbe)”?  The single is a spirited Indie gem. Particularly with the guest vocals of Vera Kebbe, the Luna Bay offering has the feel of Grouplove at their best.

     The members of Luna Bay are Connor O'Mara (vocals, guitar), Rye Milligan (lead guitar), Sammy Penniston (bass), and Alex Ross (drums). They are based in London. Their band-featuring video for “Smoke and Mirrors” (2016) is included at the bottom of this post.

     “All In (ft. Vera Kebbe)” by Luna Bay

Streaming/download options:

Monday, October 21, 2019

“City Lights” by Lyon Apprentice – A Song Feature

     Lyon Apprentice absorb orchestral sensibilities into a synth fabric that is masterfully textured. Adding to the appeal of their music is the contrast in vocal registers, with one brother residing in the tenor range and the other having the smooth baritone voice similar to the lead vocals of The National.

     Their song “City Lights” begins and ends with deliberate piano that is aligned with the classical discipline. In between, the single from Lyon Apprentice is higher tempo, more elaborate, and less restrained. Particularly interesting is the quick-play violin sound that is almost certainly synth-generated and that is most easily recognizable starting at the 3:43 mark.

     Lyon Apprentice are brothers Adam and Nathan Lyons. Quoting their bio:
  The brother duo relocated to Melbourne at the end of 2017. Bringing with them a collection of songs they began recording in a makeshift studio in Manchester, UK a year prior and later teamed up with Grammy Award winning mix engineer Peter Katis (The National, Gang of Youths, Middle Kids).
  They released 'Starlight' in early 2018 with a live acoustic version being entered into the MTV Unplugged competition. They were announced amongst the inaugural winners and opened for Amy Shark in Melbourne, performing their original and a cover of Heaven by Bryan Adams. The followed up with 'Berry Go' earlier this year.
     “City Lights” by Lyon Apprentice

Lyrics of “City Lights” by Lyon Apprentice
Cause I’ve been chained to the city lights.
You better run before the city takes your soul.

I don’t wanna be another creep
Cause I won’t cry and I won’t sleep
And I don’t wanna give you another reason
It’s anyone’s luck in this row of people
As I won’t wake up. Darling, I won’t wake up
It’s hardly a phase in the art of leaving
Cause you’re never gonna see me again

I said I love you, and I told you from the start
I said I loved you, but to never break my heart.

Cause I’ve been chained to the city lights.
You better run before the city takes your soul.
Cause I’ve been chained to the city lights.
You better run before the city takes your soul.
It’s like no one ever wants you
So you better leave and replace the ways of old.

I don’t wanna be some stand in show
Cause I can read and I can sew
I could not bear another social season
I’m caught on fire while I hide in the snow
As I won’t wake up. Darling, I won’t wake up
You’re rarely prepared for the loudest speakers
And you’re never gonna hear me again

I said I love you, and I told you from the start
I said I loved you, but to never break my heart.

Cause I’ve been chained to the city lights.
You better run before the city takes your soul.
Cause I’ve been chained to the city lights.
You better run before the city takes your soul.
It’s like no one ever wants you, so you better leave and replace the ways of old.
It’s like no one ever listens cause you’re better here for all the reasons left unknown.