Friday, September 26, 2014

Free Friday: Kicklighter – “The Fascinating Thinking Machine”

Kicklighter is the Tallahassee-based band led by Everett Young.  The Fascinating Thinking Machine, their debut album was self-released earlier this year as a pay-what-you-want download via the band’s Bandcamp page.  Young, who has a PhD in political psychology picked up the guitar four years ago at the age of 45 after some uncertainty in the job market and has hit the ground running, now giving lessons to other aspiring musicians.  On the album he plays the guitar, keyboards and harmonica and the sound he creates is a throwback to smart 80’s-leaning pop-rock that brings to mind acts like Tears For Fears yet with touches of 70’s classic rock, 60’s pop and acoustic folk for good measure.    

“Until You See The Sun” opens the album with shadowy cinematic synth flourishes, treble-thin guitars and a rolling rhythm that propels the song until the sing-along chorus hits like a ray of sunshine for a standout moment.   A loping bass line and steady acoustic guitars drive the earnest folk-pop tune “Building A Robot” which showcases Young’s smooth vocal style.  Next, “The Sultan Of Brunei” adds some laid back 70’s soft rock flavor with glassy keys and an arrangement of French horn, trumpet and flugelhorn to the catchy call-and-response vocal melodies.  Another standout, “When Howie Dressed Me Down” features a jittery New Wave-inspired rhythm, glimmering synths and a melodic guitar solo.  The eleven-track album’s centerpiece is ‘The Professor” which sets Young’s personal journey to his music career alongside a bouncy island rhythm that sounds like James Taylor fronting the Talking Heads.         
Everett Young and Kicklighter have created an inspiring pure pop pleasure with their promising debut album The Fascinating Thinking Machine.     

Stream/Download The Fascinating Thinking Machine here: 

For more info:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

S – “Brunch” (S is the solo project of Jenn Ghetto - formerly of Carissa's Weird - her excellent new album; Cool Choices is out now on Hardly Art.  Produced by Chris Walla - now formerly of Death Cab For Cutie - the album is split between melancholic and personal Elliot Smith-like piano ballads and shimmering, catchy guitar-led indie-pop that recalls 90’s Pacific Northwest indie rock.)

Whirr – “Mumble” (The quintet melds thick textural shoegaze guitars and whisper-y pop vocals with elements of punk and metal along with hypnotic rhythms and soaring atmospherics on their stunning sophomore album Sway, out now via Graveface Records.  Check out the surging and stomping standout single here.)     

Terry Malts – “Let You In” (The San Fran. retro-punk trio – featuring former members of Magic Bullets - have released a new 4-song EP, titled Insides via Slumberland Records.  The first single heard here is their catchiest track yet with a driving, hip-swiveling rhythm and blasts of surf-rock guitar lines that break through the power-pop fuzz for a standout moment.)   

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tweedy - "Sukierae"

Recording under the moniker of Tweedy, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco along with his son, Spencer have just released their debut album, Sukierae via Wilco’s dBpm Records imprint.  Originally planned as a solo album for Jeff, Spencer helped from the beginning to shape the 20 tracks that make up the album with his creative and cagey jazz-inspired rhythms that push Jeff in new and exciting directions.

Opening track “Please Don’t Let Me Be So Understood”, the stuttering “Diamond Light, Pt. 1” and the psychedelic, classic rock-like “World Away” with its Led Zeppelin-esque stomp highlight what Spencer’s drumming brings to the table.  Elsewhere, Jeff’s trademark power-pop leaning roots rock sound is intact on many of the songs including the laid-back and loping “Summer Noon” and the shuffling “Wait For Love” with its whistling solo and sincere sentiment.  Many of the songs touch on Jeff’s wife Linda’s battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma; the album’s title is her nickname.   

Though the album is pretty much stripped-down, Jeff and Spencer are joined by guests Scott McCaughey (The Minus Five, REM) who provided keyboards and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of the Brooklyn-band Lucius who lent their gorgeous close-knit harmonies to several of the tracks including the delirious standout, “I’ll Sing It” and the subtly sunny 60’s folk-pop tune “Low Key”.

With the solid Sukierae, Tweedy turns his solo project into a family affair and the result is much better than expected. 

Stream “Diamond Light, Pt.1” here:

For more info:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Free Friday: Victory Records Fall 2014 Label Sampler

Chicago indie king-pins Victory Records recently released a label sampler as a free digital download via their website as an introduction to their current roster and their upcoming Fall releases.

The 13-track sampler opens with a nice one-two punch; first with Islander's modern take on hardcore-laced nu-metal that recalls both Deftones and P.O.D. and then Meridian's anthemic emotionally-charged hardcore that fits right in alongside former label mates A Day To Remember and Thursday.

Other standouts include Christian metalcore band Darkness Divided who offer up a thunderous slice of energy from their excellent debut album, Written In Blood and tech-metal band Wretched throw in some 80's thrash and 90's melodic death metal for good measure.  One of their most recent signings, Feed Her To The Sharks are represented with a track from their yet-to-be-titled or released new album.  Also included is a new track from psycho-billy pioneers Reverend Horton Heat, who released their great comeback album Rev earlier this year on Victory.  Rounding out the sampler are choice tracks from the latest albums from Emmure, Sister Sin, Close Your Eyes, Comeback Kid,  The Bunny The Bear, and Il Nino as well as a new track from Tear Out The Heart's upcoming new album.

Download the Victory Records Fall 2014 Sampler here:

For more info:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Rev Gusto – “Still There” (In April the K.C.-based 60’s garage-pop purveyors released a 7’ inch as part of The Too Much Rock podcast’s Single Series.  The infectiously catchy A-side here is a colorfully jangly slice of hip-swiveling Kinks-like pop that only heightens the anticipation for their debut full-length due later this year via High Dive Records.  The B-side is a faithful cover of Graham Parker's New Wave power-popper "Local Girls".)   

Pink Frost – “Seek And Recover” (Hot on the heels of their stellar sophomore album Sundowning released last fall, comes the release of a new EP entitled, Traitors.  Out this week via Smart Like Virus Records it contains 4 more perfect opportunities to hear them blend their anthemic 90’s alt-rock hooks with their blazing psych-rock and stoner-rock meets shoegaze guitar sound.)

Natalia Zukerman – “Courage To Change” (The Brooklyn-based indie-folk singer-songwriter and guitarist released her dynamic sixth album, Come Thief, Come Fire this week via Talisman Records.  Her unique take on Americana is informed by everything from jazz and blues to country and even shuffling bossa nova and is highlighted by her smoky, sultry voice and cinematic storytelling.)      


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

David Vandervelde – “One More Time” (For Shadow Sides, his third album, the singer-songwriter recorded directly to a four-track, using no computers for a purely analog affair.  The new album released as a joint venture between Secretly Canadian, Park The Van and Burger Records is his most personal yet; dealing with addiction and the death of his friend and collaborator - former Wilco member, Jay Bennett.  Those heavy themes are masked by bright, soul-infused power-pop melodies with swirling Beach Boys-esque harmonies.)  

Death From Above 1979 – “Trainwreck 1979” (The punk n’ roll duo returned this week with the release of The Physical World, their highly-anticipated and long-awaited sophomore album.  Out now via Warner Brothers, the reunion album is a triumphant return that feels both nostalgic and fresh, delivering their roaring fuzzed-out bass-led grooves, danceable rhythms and sweat-soaked debauchery once again to a new generation of listeners.)

Floating Action – “Unrevenged” (Floating Action is the moniker for N.C. singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Seth Kauffman who recently released Body Questions, his stunning sixth album and first for new label home New West Records.  Kauffman expertly crafts his catchy pop songs with eclectic elements of folk rock, Motown soul, and African rhythms which has made him a favorite of and go-to session player for Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.)

Stream “Unrevenged” here:

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sloan - "Commonwealth"

Sloan - the Canadian indie rock institution - is set to release Commonwealth, their eleventh album today via Yep Roc Records.  The band boasts four equally great and able songwriters and they share the wealth on Commonwealth with each songwriter providing a side to the double LP, allowing for each individual’s style to shine through.     

The 15-track album opens with five tracks from Jay Ferguson who blends his cherubic voice and Beatles-esque melodies into their 70’s-loving power-pop with standout tracks, “You’ve Got A Lot On Your Mind” and the melodic piano-led “Three Sisters”.  Chris Murphy takes the second side with five songs that showcase his penchant for jangly, shimmering chamber-pop with clever lyrics and the upbeat standout track, “Carried Away” is the perfect example.  Patrick Pentland puts the power in “power-pop” on his side with four tracks including the buzzing and propulsive “13 (Under A Bad Sign)” and the standout first single, “Keep Swinging (Downtown)” with its pounding piano and raucous riff and rhythm.  The album closes out with Andrew Scott’s dynamic and psychedelic “Forty-Eight Portraits”, an 18-minute-long opus that takes up the final side and highlights everything that the bands does best..    

Even though each side represents one of the songwriter’s styles, the album as a whole is still distinctly “Sloan” with layers of close-knit harmonies and infectiously catchy melodies, resulting in their best and oddly enough, their most cohesive album in years. 

Stream “Keep Swinging (Downtown)” here:

For more info: 

Friday, September 05, 2014

While I Was Out: The Top 10 Releases I Missed While On Paternity Leave

For the past month I have been off work and totally unplugged from the blogosphere to be on paternity leave with my beautiful wife Jenna and our first child, Bennett.  It was an amazing time - despite the lack of sleep – and now I am back to work and missing that little guy.
While I was out there was a ton of great music released and to catch up, here is my list of the top 10 releases during my brief hiatus, listed in alphabetical order.

EDJEDJ (Eric D. Johnson of the Fruit Bats released his debut solo album under the moniker EDJ.  The new album - his most personal yet - highlights his high tenor and penchant for blending Beatles-esque pop with quirky, Country-leaning indie folk and is out now via Easy Sound.  Eric also welcomed guests such as James Mercer of The Shins, Andy Cabic of Vetiver, Tim Rutili from Califone and Nathan Larson of Shudder to Think to help shape the sound of the album.)

Entombed A.D.Back To The Front (Vocalist LG Petrov, an original member of the pioneering Swedish death metal band has put together a new version of the band under the moniker, Entombed A.D.  The new album out now on Century Media retains their inimitable groove-heavy sludge-thick riffs and LG’s distinct growl but with some modern twists such as gang vocals and sharp hooks.)

Frontier(s)White Light EP (The Louisville based band is led by former Elliott and Falling Forward front man Chris Higdon and Matt Wieder of Mouthpiece and The Enkindels.  Their highly-anticipated new 5-song EP was released via Tiny Engines and features a more streamlined and hook-driven sound that touches on the atmospherics of Elliott and the athemic thrust of Mouthpiece.)

J MascisTied To A Star (J returns with his second stunning solo set, out now on Sub Pop.  The acoustic-based - save for some of his signature guitar solos - folk songs perfectly contrast with his Dinosaur Jr output.  The album also features appearances by Ken Maiuri, Pall Jenkins, Mark Mulcahy, and Chan Marshall.)

Pelican Arktika (The Chicago-based instrumental post-metal band recently ended a 4 year hiatus with their excellent new album, Forever Becoming and have now self-released their first live album, Arktika.  Recorded in Russia, the album includes highlights from across their catalog and showcases the band’s thunderous live power.)

The RentalsLost in Alphaville (Matt Sharp - along with a host of guests including Patrick Carney of The Black Keys and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius - returns with the long-awaited third album out now on Polyvinyl Records.  The 16 year-old still inside of me can’t get enough of the vintage synths, fuzzy bass-led rhythms and close-knit vocal harmonies!)     

RubblebucketSurvival Sounds (The dynamic Brooklyn art-pop released their third full-length and label debut for Communion Records.  Produced and mixed by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Modest Mouse) the album retains their use of clever arrangements, off-kilter rhythms, bright melodies and punchy brass and synths but with a little more polish for their best effort yet.)

Shy Boys45 (Hot on the heels of their acclaimed self-titled debut album released earlier this year, the K.C. surf-pop trio return with a new single via High Dive Records.  The A-side “Life Is Peachy” is another rip-roaring burst of 60’s inspired pop and the B-side, “Follow The Leader” is a bit more mellow yet just as melodic.) Listen here:

Sleeping GiantFinished People (The Salt Lake City-based Christian metalcore kingpins return with their highly-anticipated new album out now on Century Media Records.  The passion and power of their music and the positivity and direct spirituality is unsurpassed in the genre.)     

SpoonThey Want My Soul (The indie rock vets released their excellent eighth album last month via their new label Loma Vista.  With their best album in a while, they show no signs of slowing down.)