Friday, July 30, 2021

The Bins and Decent Docents - San Francisco Bay Area Talents

      The last year has been a productive one for musicians that call the Bay Area home. Here are two examples – The Bins and Decent Docents.


     The Bins are Clark Barclay and his talents friends. Clark is originally from Cupertino, but he says that he now “lives in the discount vinyl bin. Using only dollar bin records and other thrifted found sounds, The Bins tediously arranges sonic fragments into a musical mosaic— capturing an array of genres, cultures, and histories.”
 
     We are fans of The Bins and recognize the dedication that Clark has for each of his releases. But our favorites from The Bins tend to be singles in which the works of the 1960s and 1970s are featured. Thus, on the latest album (“Happiness Complete”), we gravitated to the final of the eight songs. “Beijos” is an education in the music history.
 
     “Beijos” begins with two relatively unknown singles, then seamlessly transitions to “Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing” by Lou Rawls. The first sampling is Tom Rush’s version of the Jesse Colin Young song “Lullable.” At 0:39, “Lullaby” and a discussion of sushi transform into a segment that includes a horns-touched single by The Calliope (“How About You (Clyde's Tune)”). Then, Lou Rawls enters at 1:20 with the song that functiones as home base for the creativity of The Bins in crafting “Beijos.”
 
     The credits of “Beijos” identify the contributors as:
Produced by Clark Barclay
Bobby Salehnejad: electric guitar, bass guitar
Gabriel Soriano: bongos, congas, cowbell, shaker, tambourine
Michael Birnbryer-lao: saxophone
Jasmine Smith: violin
Clark Barclay: keyboard, sampler, turntables
Add'l production: Scott Zschomler
 
           The eight songs on the album “Happiness Complete” are available on Spotify (Spotify - CLICK HERE) and Bandcamp.
 
     “Beijos” by The Bins

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebinsdigs
Bandcamp: https://thebins.bandcamp.com/

     Decent Docents are Noah Libby and Nick Testa. Both have roots with the band Blisses B. In talking about the music project, Noah said, “My old Blisses B bandmate Nick Testa (Drums/Bass/Engineer/Mixing) and I are at the helm.  We recorded everything at Mustang Studios aka Nick's Garage in Livermore, CA.”

      “Romancing the Stoned” was recorded during the pandemic lockdown. Quoting Noah again, “Those who didn't used to get high are getting high, those who always got high are getting really high.  Take a trip to the dispensary with us, courtesy of mandolins and keyboards.”

     “Romancing the Stoned” by Decent Docents


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Seventeen – Revisiting the Post


     We’ve written about 17 being the most significant age from a lyrical perspective. The first song on the Beatles’ first album began “Well, she was just 17” (“I Saw Her Standing There”). This is a quick update of the original 17-specific post (if you’re interested, CLICK HERE).
 
     Sam Fender is preparing for the October release of his album “Seventeen Going Under.” The title track of the album has the feel of a letter to himself. He explains:
  “Seventeen is when all the challenges begin; you’re not a baby, but you’re definitely not an adult (turns out that bit takes a lot longer than you think).”
 
     Seventeen Going Under” by Sam Fender
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/samfender
Website: https://www.samfender.com/
 
Lyrics of Seventeen Going Under” by Sam Fender
I remember the sickness was forever
I remember snuff videos
Cold Septembers, the distances we covered
The fist fights on the beach, the bizzies round us up
Do it all again next week
Embryonic love
The first time that it scarred
Embarrass yourself for someone
Crying like a child
And the boy who kicked Tom’s head in
Still bugs me now
That’s the thing it lingers
And claws you when you’re down
 
I was far too scared to hit him
But I would hit him in a heartbeat now
That’s the thing with anger
It begs to stick around
So it can fleece you of your beauty
And leave you spent with nowt to offer
It makes you hurt the ones who love you
You hurt them like they’re nothing
 
You hurt them like they’re nothing
You hurt them like they’re nothing
 
See I spent my teens enraged
Spiraling in silence
And arm myself with a grin
Cause I was always the fuckin’ joker
Buried in the humor
Amongst the white noise and boys’ boys
Locker room talkin’ lads’ lads
Drenched in cheap drink and snide fags
A mirrored picture of my old man
Oh God, the kid’s a dab hand
Canny chanter but he looks sad
God, the kid looks so sad
 
God, the kid looks so sad
 
She said the debt, the debt, the debt
So I thought about shifting gear
And how she wept and wept and wept
Luck came and died round here
 
I see my mother
The DWP see a number
She cries on the floor encumbered
I’m seventeen going under
I’m seventeen going under
 
I’m seventeen going under
I’m seventeen going under
Seventeen going under
 

      We respect song covers, but don’t normally post them. An exception is when the cover takes a song in a different direction. That is the case with Alex Harry in his cover of the Stevie Nicks single from 1981. The original had a darkness, since it was written by Nicks to express her grief of the death of her uncle and the assassination of John Lennon in the final month of 1980. But the 2021 cover amplifies the darkness, and does so in a tasteful manner. The pain is much more apparent in the version of Alex Harry

“Edge of Seventeen” by Alex Harry

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

“Interval” by The Joy Formidable - A Song Feature

     The vocals of “Interval” are more seductive than most releases of The Joy Formidable. The song evidences the versatility of the three-member band. Still, the Rock roots of the Welsh band explode in the bridge that begins around the three-minute mark. Until then, the percussion is strong, and the guitars are a long distance from being characterized as timid. But the hook-filled bridge reassures the band’s fans that the foundation of The Joy Formidable is still built on Rock. Interestingly, “Interval” concludes quietly, with a sophisticated instrumental arrangement.
 
      The lyrics of “Interval” are included in this post. The Joy Formidable explained:    
  “It's a song about change, finding yourself at a juncture in life. It's also about freeing yourself from a situation that leaves you second guessing. Find people that bring you sunshine and love you enduringly. "
 
      Also included in this post is the schedule of 2021 U.S. tour dates. Among the stops is a November 29 visit to San Francisco. The Joy Formidable tour will follow the August release of the 11-song album “Into the Blue.” “Interval” is the third single from the album, which can be pre-ordered at pre-order thejoyformidableofficial.bandcamp.com/.
 
     The members of The Joy Formidable are Ritzy Bryan (vocals, guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass, vocals) and Matthew James Thomas (percussion). Bryan and Dafydd grew up together in North Wales. They formed The Joy Formidable in 2011 and were soon joined by Thomas. They have enjoyed an eclectic decade together creating a legacy that spans genres and celebrates their Welsh culture. Now, they split their time between North Wales and what they consider the closest thing they could find in the U.S. – “In the middle of nowhere” Utah.

     Regarding the video, Ritzy Bryan said:
  “The video was made from footage recorded during an impromptu visit to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in Southern Utah. It’s a gorgeous spot, full of dunes and a constantly changing landscape depending on the weather as huge mountains of sand get blown about in the canyon winds. It felt like the perfect background to a song about change & shifting your own perspective. When you’re in a manipulative relationship, it feels like running through sand. You keep going but you slip and slide and don’t have a firm footing on who you are & where you want to go. This song is about recovering from that, finding your balance & your power again. There was also something incredibly satisfying about throwing myself off an 80 ft dune, the physical rendition of being free and spirited again.”


     “Interval” by The Joy Formidable


Lyrics of “Interval” by The Joy Formidable
Don't think about it
It’s a crossroad for me
Just look around
It's an interval before I leave
 
Something's in the way
Something’s in the way
Dragging at my feet
Dragging at my feet
Shifting in the sand
Something that I said
Something that I said
Hit the nerve again
Hit the nerve again
And the nerve is gone
 
Don't think about it
It's a crossroad for me
Just look around
It's an interval before I leave
 
If you feel lost
Under bright skies
See through me
Every second chance, every broken word
Feeds the heat
 
Something's in the way
Something’s in the way
Dragging at my feet
Dragging at my feet
Shifting in the sand
Something that I said
Something that I said
Hit the nerve again
Hit the nerve again
And the nerve is gone
 
Don't think about it
It's a crossroad for me (And nothing’s out)
Just look around
It’s an interval before I leave
 
Every step
Barefoot again
Across the edge of me
I've slipped each side
 
Don’t think about it
It's a crossroad for me
Just look around
It's an interval before I leave
[Repeat]


The Joy Formidable Tour Dates
11.26 - Seattle, WA @ Crocodile
11.27 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
11.29 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
11.30 - Los Angeles, CA @ Roxy Theatre
12.02 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
12.04 - Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
12.05 - Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
12.07 - Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club
12.09 - Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
12.10 - Columbus, OH @ A & R Music Hall
12.11 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird Music Hall
12.12 - Washington, DC @ 930 Club
12.13 - Boston, MA @ The Sinclair
12.14 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
12.16 - Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts
12.17 - Albany, NY @ Empire Underground
12.18 - Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground

Friday, July 23, 2021

“Knight Of Cups” by Uncanny Valley Girls – A Song Feature

 

     “Knight Of Cups” bursts from the gate with a tempo and rhythm well suited for a playlist intended for a long drive or a long run. The energy remains throughout the song from Uncanny Valley Girls. Better, the motivational drive is powered by a guitar with the qualities that touch (and even advance) the splendor of Lord Huron guitars. The vocals are more relaxed, but are appealing for a different set of reasons.
 
     Uncanny Valley Girls are based in South London. They self-identify as “weirdos making weirdo Indie Rock.” The members are Mike Bissett (vocals), Lasma Anspoka (keys), Katarina Astner (bass), James Cleary (guitar), and Matt Freer (drums). They will be releasing other singles later this year.
 
     If you are as uninformed as us, it is helpful to be told that Knight of Cups is a tarot card. In 2020, the pandemic lockdown provided Michael Bissett with time to write music, but not a lot to write about. He was hitting this writer's block when a friend gave him a Tarot reading, and drew the Knight of Cups. Bissett explains:
   "The Knight of Cups is a sort of warrior-poet, a romantic figure that is lead by his intuition. He has his heart on his sleeve and is driven more by his emotion than his intellect. And having thought myself into a rut, I decided I should probably start following my heart more than my head."
 
    “Knight of Cups” tells us “You got this.” Uncanny Valley Girls state that the lyrics act as a love letter to yourself, an encouragement to accept life's ups and downs, and the ebbs and flows of inspiration. Bissett states:
   "The song is a reminder to follow ones intuition, to listen closely to the lessons your dreams are trying to teach you, to recognise that, although it can be painful, the moment when you have no idea what you're supposed to do, is the same moment the next great idea is forming, waiting for its time."

     “Knight Of Cups” by Uncanny Valley Girls

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UncannyValleyGirls/

Lyrics of “Knight Of Cups” by Uncanny Valley Girls
Babe, you've been here before
Lose your page, that's all part of it
I picture you hit your stride
Head held high like the knight of cups
 
It comes and goes, it ebbs and flows
Baby, you got this
Just listen close, deep down you know
Baby, you got this
 
Look for faults, you'll find faults
Poking holes just pokes holes in things
Walk by Saint John the Divine
Clear your head, let the ghost lift
 
It comes and goes, ebbs and flows
Baby, you got this
Just listen close, deep down you know
Baby, you got this
 
You always make a mountain
Out of a mole hill, Babe
You always get discouraged
You think it’s all the same
You send that useless feeling
Send it from whence it came
 
[Layered and repeating:]
We already love you, we already do
We already love you, there's nothing to prove
 
You slept in your mother arms
And didn't need all the fanfare
You never run out of dreams
Head held high, you're the knight of cups
 
It comes and goes, it ebbs and flows
Baby, you got this
Listen close, deep down you know
Baby, you got this
 
It comes and goes, it ebbs and flows
Baby, you got this
Just listen close, deep down you know
Baby, you got this
Baby, you got this
Baby, you got this

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

“Mirrors” by Corey Crumpacker– A Song Feature


     The intro of “Mirrors” isn’t strikingly complicated, but it is attention-grabbing. A steady-beat kick drum supports the combination of acoustic and electric. The acoustic guitar belongs of Corey Crumpacker, a Rocker based in Austin, Texas. The electric features sustained notes. But the entrance of the vocals shows that the attractiveness of “Mirrors” is not limited to its intro. The passion in the voice of Crumpacker embraces the distress in the lyrics.
 
     Vocally, the highlight is the harmonization that begins at 1:31. The harmony multiples the vocal resonance. The instrumental highlight is the guitar solo that begins at 2:41. And the lyrical highlight is the intelligent, insightful and poetic description:
 
It was a blurry-eyed night
Tried to start a fight with a guilty conscious
Along in the dark
So, I throw the first punch
But it hits me back
Saying “Son, you don’t deserve a touch of love.”
Don’t tell me now that you’re afraid
This beer holds itself, without your aid
 
      Corey Crumpacker is now in Texas, after graduating from Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts. The official video for “Mirrors” was produced by Backstory, but directed and edited by Crumpacker. The song is from the EP “Royal Blood.”
 
     “Mirrors” by Corey Crumpacker



Friday, July 16, 2021

“Book of Moths” by Bad Rat? – A Song Feature

 

     Ringing guitars during the intro give rise to the early allure to “Book of Moths,” then other contributions secure the attention of the listener for the remainder of the single from Bad Rat?. The lead vocals have a rhythmic delivery by a melodically pleasing voice. And the rhythmic delivery is creative in blurring when lines in the lyrics begin and end. For example, in the first verse, the early inflections make it difficult to determine whether “smiles” ends the third line or begins the fourth:

Moonbeams on the nihilist
Drive ‘til you can savor it
Eyes on the back of your family’s smiles
Drink down ‘til you’re over it
And lie ‘til you get out of their sights

      Still, we nominate the 1:45 mark as the start of the best segment of “Book of Moths.” At that time, the percussion carries an appealing, forceful rhythm, the ringing guitar gives way to a feature of a lower range, and the vocals begin a quiet chant, as if citing a mantra. The members of "Bad Rat?" are Marc Kamil, Ascari Chotoosingh, and Claire Webb. On Augurst 13, 2021, they are scheduled to first release the album “The Center of Everything.” Regarding the release from the album:
  “On October 7th, 2020, on a yearly road trip from Wisconsin back home to New England, Marc dictated an idea to Claire, and she wrote it down. ‘Book of Moths,’ it said, and 9 months later, that note gave birth to the lead single from ‘The Center of Everything.’ This song might be sad, but we’re not sure. Let us know if you find out!”

     Bad Rat? is a band formed in Bennington, Vermont and is now based in Southampton, Massachusetts. They make music across genres, with a primary focuses on Indie Rock and Post-Punk. However, they also dive into Indietronica, Alt Rock, and some Darkwave. They decided to form a band after driving through a snowstorm to see their favorite band in concert, having realized that their common commitment to music and their dedication to creating were too great not to be put to use.

     “Book of Moths” by Bad Rat? – A Song Feature


Lyrics of “Book of Moths” by Bad Rat?
Moonbeams on the nihilist
Drive ‘til you can savor it
Eyes on the back of your family’s smiles
Drink down ‘til you’re over it
And lie ‘til you get out of their sights
 
Sunlight at the start of it
Try but you’ll never get over it
Coins in your pocket burn holes in your sides
Look back now, look back now, look back now, look back now
But you’ll never get back there in time
 
Blue light on the hillside
I get back to the state of mind
Cry but the tears are like sand
And I’m sick and tired of the weight of it
Still picking at the thorn in my side
(Thorn in my side)
 
Spent some time at the heart of it
Tried but I couldn’t get through it
Fear of the ending setting fire in my mind
Fall back now, fall back now, fall back now, fall back now
But I’ll never fall back in their line
(Look back now, look back now, look back now, look back now
But I’ll never get back there in time, back there in time)
 
And so I go whistling down tunnels
And burning up bridges
I put your name, I put your name [Repeating]
 
Who flew too close to the suns
Then imagined in empires built from nightmares
Shouldn’t you be scared?
And shouldn’t I be there?
 
So what did they say?
I didn’t understand the message
What did you say?
I didn’t understand but I couldn’t let it get out of hand
So what did I say?
You didn’t let me finish, did ya?
Couldn’t give me five minutes
What did I say?
What did I say? Yeah
 
So I go
Whistling down tunnels
And burning up bridges
I put your name in my Book of Moths
 
Who flew too close to the suns
Then imagined in empires built from nightmares
 
Shouldn’t you be scared?
Shouldn’t I be there?
Shouldn’t I be there?