Friday, February 28, 2014

Free Friday: Smug Brothers – “On The Way To The Punchline”

Hot on the heels of the excellent Strictly Triggers EP – just released in January - Smug Brothers, the Dayton indie rock band led by Kyle Melton and featuring Brian Baker and Don Thrasher (Guided By Voices, Swearing At Motorists) returned this week with the release of their new album, On The Way To The Punchline.  Available as a name-your-price download via the Gas Daddy Go Records Bandcamp page, it is also available on limited edition cassette, making it the band’s first physical release in their decade-long existence.  The self-produced and recorded album was mixed and mastered with the appropriate amount of polish and grit by Darryl Robbins (Guided By Voices, Motel Beds).            
“Guest Not A Passenger” opens the album with a propulsive rhythm and winding guitars before standout single, “It Was Hard To Be A Team Last Night” offers up a chugging slice of British Invasion-inspired power-pop for a nice one-two punch.  As a change of pace, “Over And Outside” offers up some pretty acoustic guitars and close knit vocal harmonies.  The super-catchy Guided By Voices-like “A Thing For English” quickly follows with guitars both jangly and twisty for another standout moment.  Opening with haunting guitar ambience, “St. Paul At The Helm Of Wyoming” slowly builds into a noise-addled take on 90’s slacker rock with tumbling drums and frenetic guitar riffs.  Another standout on the twelve-track album is the single, “Quick To Illustrate January” with its infectiously bouncy rhythm and memorable GBV-loving melodies.    
With their stellar new album, On The Way To The Punchline, Dayton’s Smug Brothers prove once again that they belong in the Gem City’s hallowed halls of lo-fi indie rock.                

Download On The Way To The Punchline here:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Hotelier – “Home, Like NoPlace Is There”

The Hotelier (formerly known as The Hotel Year) released their sophomore album, Home Like No Place Is There this week via Tiny Engines.  Led by vocalist Christian Holden along with drummer Sam Frederick and guitarists Cody Millet, Scott Ayotte, and Chris Hoffman, the Worchester, MA based band’s smart brand of punk rock blends anthemic pop-punk with earnest indie rock and aching emo for a dynamic sound that is modern yet nostalgic and both fragile and explosive.         
The aptly-titled “An Introduction To The Album” opens the album with an understated arrangement of vocals and ambient guitars that slowly builds into a cathartic release for the perfect introduction.  The standout first single “The Scope Of All Of This Rebuilding” follows with a forceful rhythm, angular guitars and shouty vocal melodies.  Other standouts on the nine-song album include “Your Deep Rest” which features a bouncy rhythm and bright melodies that contrasts with the achingly powerful and personal lyrics and “Life In Drag” which explodes with bombastic throat-shredding hardcore aggression that is tempered with cascading guitar melodies and a fist-in-the-air shout-along chorus.      
Once again, Tiny Engines Records proves to have their finger on the pulse of the punk scene with, Home, Like NoPlace Is There, the excellent new album from The Hotelier that should end up on many year-end lists this year including mine!   

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Vertical Scratchers – “Memory Shards” (The new project from John Schmersal of Brainiac, Enon, and Crooks on Tape and Christian Beaulieu (ex-Triclops!/Anywhere) released their debut album, Daughter Of Everything this week via Merge Records.  Gone are the keyboards of the duo’s prior individual projects and in their place are two-minute bursts of unbridled punk energy with falsetto vocals and an off-kilter 60’s pop sensibility that feels raw and entirely new and different.  The album also features a special guest vocal from fellow Daytonian Robert Pollard.)

Canon Logic – “IBOK” (The Brooklyn based band released their long-awaited sophomore album, WYLD this week.  Their energetic keyboard-heavy indie-pop anthems are led by the crystalline vocals of Tim Kiely and outfitted with sparkling guitars, layers of soaring vocal melodies and infectious World Music-inspired rhythms for an exciting return.)  

She Sir – "Condensedindents" (The Austin based indie rock quartet led by Russell Karloff released their highly-anticipated debut album, Go Guitars this week via Shelflife Records.  Their shimmering dream-pop sound is highlighted by jangly 60’s guitars and hazy, reverb rich vocals melodies that incorporate everything from Fleetwood Mac’s folk to catchy 80’s pop for a debut well worth the wait.)        

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Track-By-Track: Preston Lovinggood – “Shadow Songs”

The former Wild Sweet Orange frontman released his highly-anticipated debut solo album, Sun Songs last year, via Communicating Vessels.  The stunning album showcased his genre-defiant folk-pop sound that incorporates everything from chugging acoustic guitars and handclaps to New Wave-inspired synths and ornate blues along with his haunting, reverb-rich vocals.    
Today marks the release of the companion album Shadow Songs.  The unique new album was mostly recorded in Lovinggood’s native Birmingham, Alabama by producer/engineer Darrell Thorp (Beck, Radiohead) and features newly recorded versions of five tracks from Sun Songs, which add dreamy kaleidoscopic synths and fuller more vivid arrangements that give the songs new life.  Additionally, the album includes six brand new tracks like, the breathy slow-burning opening track, “Overactor”.        
Preston was kind enough to provide an exclusive track-by-track commentary to Shadow Songs that gives insight into the meaning behind the songs and a glimpse into his writing process. 

Check it out below along with a stream of the album.    

“This is a song about self-pity. I was working for a friend, in New York City, showcasing some of his sculptures, when I first started working on this song. I was also enduring extreme back pain during this time; so I started deeply despairing my situation. I was baffled about my life daily; I was often getting lost on the subways. One day I emerged from the tunnels into Times Square, an elderly woman handed me a tract; it somehow gave my life some significance.  Later, I found my way to another friend’s apartment; she had a book of poetry, on her coffee table.  So I opened the book to a poem, "Say Yes Quickly" by Rumi. I read the poem and tried to fall asleep.” – Preston Lovinggood

“I wrote this song while I was still active in Wild Sweet Orange, but it needed a re-write after the breakup. Around Christmas 2011, I was sitting in a Honda with my guitar when I finally finished the song. It needed a second verse, I wanted to use the word ‘desire’, so I did, and I was finished with it.” – PL

“Sun Song”
“We were touring in between two cities. I went crazy, looking for you, waiting; I was in Gary, Indiana, at that exit...This song was written right then, right there, while leaving Chicago.  The combination of Gary, Indiana and not wanting my band to fall apart, or maybe, wanting it to...I don’t know! I was going crazy!” - PL

“I went to this place in Louisiana, there were these cows. Cows have the most beautiful eyes.  I was scared to walk near them, so I walked around them.  I kept walking further into this field, I was still scared.  I saw a creek and was so glad, so glad that I had kept walking. When I walked back I had the courage to walk with the herd.” - PL

“Little gods”
“This song is about my incessant sexual longing. I become consumed with obsession for someone; It’s sorta like I had my Willie Nelson “Bloody Mary Morning” experience.  You know that one?    This song is about wanting to make babies, about having babies, and about being babies. We’re all just little babies.” - PL

“She left town, and left me. It left my life in shambles. She sent me an odd picture, of herself, before she got on the plane. From the picture: I knew it had to be over and that I was not going to talk to her when she got back.” - PL

“Ancient Path”
“It’s a song I was humming while experiencing a meadow at dusk. The meadow in the song also inspired ‘Further.’” - PL 

“TMI (False Lover Blues)”
“During a conversation in the studio, I was getting annoyed, irritated, enraged, about technology and how it addicts us, like ice cream. Leslie (guitarist/drummer) elaborated and terrified me with his statement, ‘I’m cool with it all, until we have terminators walking the streets.’” - PL 

“Pat Conroy Beach Music”
“No comment.  This song is about the time I met the rapper 50 Cent.” - PL

“Cage Dive”
“Inspired by the jaws theme song, I was really obsessed, with Steven Spielberg, at the time; and I mean really- obsessed. The song is about some time I spent in Cape Town, South Africa where I saw some Great White sharks.” – PL  

“Fear Not”
“A couple years ago I drove to Nebraska to visit my Sister. I think I had the idea for the song back then. I don't think I listened to music the whole drive. I really liked being alone back then. The chorus came from a dream I had about the band Eisley: I was driving a big boat car or something, with my best friend sitting in the back seat with the girls from Eisley and they were singing "every day you break a new heart, every day you break a new heart." When we finished the song in the studio, it felt very free and fun. Darrell had the Giants game on the tube. I was thinking about the Beatles, and then we went and ate some good food.” – PL

Stream Shadow Songs here:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Lydia Loveless – “Really Wanna See You” (The Columbus, OH based singer-songwriter mixes some fierce punk attitude in with her rollicking and catchy brand of country-rock and matches that intensity with the bracingly raw and honest lyrics on her stunning third album, Somewhere Else, out now on Bloodshot Records.)    

Lost In The Trees – “Past Life” (Frontman Ari Picker stripped his band down from an orchestral six-piece to a more rhythm and synth-driven quartet for their new album, Past Life, out now on Anti-.  As the perfect introduction, the pulsing, ethereal title track showcases the streamlined yet full-bodied electro-rock of the excellent new album.)   

Miserable – “Orchid” (Miserable is the solo project from Kristina Esfandiari, formerly of Whirr. The second track from her debut EP, Halloween Dreams - out now on The Native Sound – is slow to unfurl but once it does it blooms into a soaring haze of guitars, haunting reverb-rich vocals and pounding drums that are the cornerstone of her new project.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bayside - "Cult"

Bayside are set to release their highly-anticipated sixth album, Cult today via new label Hopeless Records.  With one of the most loyal fan bases in the industry, their aptly-titled new album also incorporates images and logos from all of their previous releases and musically showcases why so many are a part of the Bayside “cult”.  Produced by longtime collaborator Shep Goodman along with Aaron Accetta (Four Year Strong, He Is We), Cult retains their distinct brand of dark yet highly melodic pop-punk set to some of frontman Anthony Raneri’s most personal and dynamic lyrical themes yet as he dealt with both the pain of losing several loved ones and the joys of getting married and having his first child during the two-year sessions for Cult.          
The anthemic “Big Cheese” opens with some fist-in-the-air crowd chanting that supports the album’s title.  The first single, “Time Has Come” shows Raneri waxing poetic about his past and future alongside a propulsive rhythm and an infectious sing-along chorus.  Standout track, “Your No Match” showcases Jack O’Shea’s blazing lead guitar work along with Anthony’s biting, self-deprecating lyrics.  Another standout, “Transitive Property” is an easily relatable, heart-wrenching apology letter written to his wife during a tumultuous time before they were married that almost didn’t make it onto the album.  Later, “Stuttering” deals with the lofty expectations hoisted upon the band: “I’m the voice of the oppressed, and that’s what everyone expects” and throws out a sarcastic reference to the Cure for good measure.  The eleven-song album closes out with the metallic leads, hard-charging rhythm and swaying melodies of “The Whitest Lie”.
With Cult, Bayside has delivered once again with their strongest album in years. 

Stream the spiteful single, “Pigsty” here:

For more info: and

Friday, February 14, 2014

Free Friday: REW<< - “departeures”

REW<< is the new solo project from Ryan Weber who is also one half of folk-pop duo Eric & Magill.  His debut album, departures was recorded last year in various hotel rooms and train compartments during his travels to Kenya, India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. 
The result is a ten-song album of well-travelled experimental folk-leaning dream-pop laced with pretty piano and delicate strings like the rollicking and theatrical “Dr. Matatu”, and features some beautiful, imagination-sparking ambiance and samples as heard on the sparkling, “Oh Wounded Butterfly”.  Other standouts include the cinematic “Forgery” with its plodding piano and gorgeous multi-tracked vocal melodies and the churning strings and laid-back acoustic guitar strumming of “In Waves”.         
Ryan is offering the album as a free download via his Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages.

Download departeures here:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat – featuring an exclusive premiere from PT Walkley

PT Walkley – “Leeches” (Bouncy Motown-like horns and a pumped up vintage organ led rhythm highlight this infectious R&B-meets-indie rock track from the Manhattan musician’s personal yet poppy new album, Shoulders, due out next week via Bathing Suit Music.  The prolific composer also recently made news during the Grammy’s, as he wrote and performed the Pepsi Half-Time Show - that starred NFL players like Mike Ditka doing his best Miley Cyrus impersonation - and has placed many of his songs in commercials and TV shows over the years.  In celebration of Shoulders, PT is offering up a free download of all of his prior releases via his website as the perfect introduction to his music.)               

The Casket Girls – “Same Side” (The trio of sisters Phaedra and Elsa Greene and sound-sculptor Ryan Graveface released their sophomore album, True Love Kills the Fairy Tale, today via Graveface Records.  Their hazy and haunting dream-pop/psych-rock hybrid is laced with an undeniable catchiness that comes from the sister’s gorgeous and hypnotic melodies.)   

Thumpers – “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” (The London duo of Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr. create a vividly colorful and catchy brand of synth-led indie-pop highlighted by moments of  nostalgia-inducing joyfulness on their superb Sub Pop debut album, Galore, out now.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stream It From The Mountain: Band Of Horses - "Acoustic At The Ryman"

Band Of Horses return with the release of their first live album, Acoustic At The Ryman, out today via Brown Records/Kobalt Records.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the intimate setting those two April nights in Nashville provided, proved to be the perfect complement to frontman Ben Bridwell’s signature soaring yet gentle voice and their close-knit vocal harmonies.    
The 10-song album includes fan favorites such as, “Marry Song”, “Detlef Schrempf”, and “Wicked Gil” and is highlighted by the stripped down anthem, “No One’s Gonna Love You” and a moving version of “The Funeral”.
Using Mytek’s high-quality DSD recording devices, the album is also available on a perfect-sounding 180 Gram Vinyl and high quality 24-bit 96k WAV version, to put yourself in the auditorium with the band.      
Additionally, the album’s release will coincide with a 13-date tour of acoustic performances that includes a stop at the legendary Ryman Auditorium. 

Stream Acoustic At The Ryman here:

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Haden Triplets - "The Haden Triplets"

The Haden Triplets are the supremely talented daughters of jazz bass legend Charlie Haden.  Petra and Rachel Haden formerly of that dog. along with their sister Tanya combine their beautifully braided familial harmonies with rootsy Americana-inspired instrumentation provided by legendary producer Ry Cooder, his son, Joachim Cooder and Rene Camacho along with Ricky Skaggs, who shares his expert mandolin skills on three of the tracks.      
Out now on Third Man Records, their self-titled debut album is a collection of timeless American folk songs transformed by their harmonious voices and is highlighted by their stunning takes on Bill Monroe’s bluegrass classic, “Voice From On High”, The Carter Family’s “Single Girl, Married Girl” and their goose bump-inducing harmonies on Webb Pierce and Tommy Hill’s honky-tonk standard, “Slowly” among others.       
Stream “Slowly” here:

For more info: and

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

For Today – “Fight The Silence” (Christian metalcore titans For Today returned this week with their fifth album, Fight The Silence, via Razor & Tie.  Never one to shy away from speaking the truth and blasting out positive vibes, vocalist Mattie Montgomery and crew make a strong statement against human sex trafficking with the explosive title track and first single, “Fight The Silence” in which proceeds from the sale of the song and the album will go to support the A21 Campaign.  Other standouts include “Pariah” with its unrelenting rhythm and message and the uplifting and inspiring “Fatherless”.  The band is currently on a headlining tour in support of the album before joining up with the Warped Tour this summer.)        

Water Liars – “I Want Blood” (With the success of last year’s highly-praised Wyoming, the prolific Water Valley, MS based duo released their self-titled third album – their third in as many years - this week via Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum.  As a result of touring, the dynamic new album features beefed up arrangements that expand upon their melancholic and soulful blues-soaked and country-leaning folk sound without losing focus on Justin Kinkel-Schuster's rich and haunting vocals for their best album yet.)

Buho – “Night Clinics” (Check out the caustic yet anthemic B-side to the South Texas punk rock trio’s self-titled debut 7” out now via Crowquill Records.  The trio which features members of Yoshimoto and Perpetual Heat blends together noise-addled post-punk with catchy 90’s alt-rock melodies that should entice fans of At The Drive In and Japandroids.)  

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang – “Four-Foor Shack”

Les Claypool has a strange new project with his buddy Brian Kehoe called Duo de Twang.  Out today on ATO Records is their debut album, Four-Foot Shack and on it Les transforms some of his classic Primus tunes like, “Wynonna’s Big Brown Beaver” and Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” into stomping, front-porch folk-funk tunes.  In addition to four all new tracks like the rumbling and sinister “Boonville Stomp” and a handful of covers from his own Fearless Flying Frog Brigade project, he also puts his own twangy spin on Alice In Chain’s grunge rock anthem, “Man In The Box” and the Bee Gees’ disco classic, “Stayin’ Alive”. 
Also included are covers of “Amos Moses” by Jerry Reed and “The Bridge Came Tumblin' Down” by Stompin' Tom Connors; two of the artists that inspired Les to create the new project.    
The result is an excellent 15-song album that is totally “Primus” but something new and different entirely.
For more info:

Broken Bells - "After The Disco"

Broken Bells, the collaboration between Brian Burton (Danger Mouse, Gnarls Barkley) and James Mercer of The Shins are set to release their highly-anticipated sophomore album, After The Disco via Columbia Records.  Alongside their catchy and cosmic 60’s inspired space-pop, the duo has added touches of disco on the soaring, danceable title track, “After the Disco” and Bee Gee’s like vocals on the infectious first single, “Holding On For Life” without losing the original essence of their unique project.  Other standouts include “Leave It Alone” which is built upon a psychedelic atmosphere of cyclical acoustic guitars, droning synths, and Mercer’s soulful croon and the trippy “Lazy Wonderland”; full of warbled and elastic synths and guitars with a bouncy rhythm, loping bass line and swirling vocal melody. 
Fans of the band will be glad that Mercer and Burton have not only continued with this band but have taken it to the next level.      

Stream “Leave It Alone” here:

For more info: