I usually try to avoid paying attention to the “RIYL” that many emails tend to include. I know that it’s an easy point of reference for up-and-coming artists to draw comparisons to them, but I prefer to let the music do the talking (for the most part). When I began reading about Gainesville, FL band Dikembe however I noticed several RIYL bands that caught my eye: Hey Mercedes, Texas Is the Reason, and Moneen. It’s been years since I thought of those great sophomore era emo bands. So yeah, that got my brain buzzing.
Listening to the band’s album Broad Shoulders, those comparisons and influences are fully realized. Heavy, distorted guitars create a full sound on which the vocals feel free to bounce around on. They are themselves, a large part of what that “emo” tag sticks to. The raw, impassioned singing and catchy singalong melodies really seal the deal for me and remind me of why I listened to music like this all through my high school years. So into it.
You can pre-order the album now from Tiny Engines. If you act quickly you can have your choice of vinyl color: dark orange, light brown, or clear with blue smoke. I want one of each, man!
Case Work is an act that is probably new to many of you. If I were to say that it is the solo work of Chandler Strang, a few more of you might turn your heads. But when I say that Chandler is also a founding member of Florida pop geniuses Saskatchewan, well that should get your blood pumping. He’s been modestly releasing singles for a little while now as Case Work and has recently collected those tracks into a self-titled EP.
Although he has only been at this new project for less than three weeks, Chandler has managed to catch some choice wind on the strength of his songwriting and the sunny energy it exudes. Sticking to a jangly pop formula, Chandler brings a measure of competence and confidence to the tracks that elevates them above your typical vanity project or time killer. There are a lot of hot vibes radiating off this thing so if you’re smart you’ll grab the free from his bandcamp page, lay back, close your eyes, and get a tan.
I have learned to trust DZ Tapes. With each successive cassette that the small tape label has released they have proven themselves to be dealers of quality content. And their most recent release from folky troubadour Adam Torres is no exception.
I don’t find myself dabbling in the singer/songwriter genre very often for my own reasons, but when I began listening to Adam’s self-titled album, I pushed all of those things to the back of my mind. The tracks here force the listener to simply revel in their simple beauty. Adam has a very old soul and it’s pretty evident that it is working it’s way down into his music. The pastoral imagery combined with Adam’s gentle guitar plucking and tender falsetto create a comforting atmosphere akin to the feeling I get when I listen to John Denver. It’s a great release that really needs to be checked out.
Grab a tape from the DZ Tapes store and then scoop the album for free on the label’s bandcamp page while you’re at it.
There are quite a few artists involved with the blogosphere that seem to write, record, and release music at almost a ceaseless pace. I guarantee that there are some out there among those numbers who see themselves as just treading water, working at a furious pace to stay noticed in today’s ADHD-riddled music scene. And while Waylon Thornton is almost always working on something, he is not one of those people.
It’s important to note that Waylon’s work comes from a completely different place. Instead of needing constant recognition, he creates music because he has to. It’s a compulsion. I imagine if he wasn’t letting all of this stuff leak out of his mind, his head would explode Scanners style. And we wouldn’t that, would we?
Anyways, here is the latest in the long line of Waylon’s releases. Keeping things pretty dirty via his DIY home recording style, Waylon spices things up on Born To Dig by throwing in splashes of 1960’s power pop. He also lets his voice flourish by just singing as opposed to his usual furious vocal growls, shrieks, and shouts. It’s a pretty great change of pace for the garage rocker and one that is a pretty classy place to start if you’ve never snooped around in his pile of releases. Ya dig?
They’re back! It was a relatively short hiatus, so perhaps you didn’t even know that they had disbanded, but whatever. The only thing that matters now is that they’re back! THE BABES ARE BACK!
I’ve had a really great relationship with the New Jersey duo for a few years now so when Mikey Walsh emailed me a few days ago with the news I was pretty happy. Through the inception of their label Panther People and the increasing scarcity of time, the guys decided to scrap Ba Babes a few months ago and focus on getting Panther People off the ground. Now that they are several releases in, Mike and James have decided that maybe Ba Babes wasn’t finished after all. And now here we are.
“Devil On My Shoulder” is the name of one of their new tracks and it’s a perfect re-introduction to the band. Loud drums and even louder guitars usher this bluesy, old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll firecracker into the airspace. Look for this track and others on the band’s upcoming tape Back from the Shred (too good, right?) out next month on Panther People. Whether you’ve missed the band or not, this should be a welcome pick-me-up on this Monday afternoon.
And here I already had my posting schedule set for the week. Whatever, I heard this album today and realized that it was way too powerful and beautiful a release not to share it. And so here we are at 9:30 pm and I’m sharing this gorgeous metal album. I hope you guys enjoy it.
Though the band is called Islands, I assure you that they have nothing to do with Nick Diamond or The Unicorns or anything like that. No, this name snafu is purely coincidental. Plus I’m pretty sure that what this Australian outfit is doing would pretty much scare away any average other-Islands fan. You see they play this pummeling metal which scorches the ground before shooting straight up into the blue sky. At their heaviest, the band is a doom-leaning monster with ridiculously heavy guitars, thunderous percussion, and primal vocal screams. And just when you think they are about to let the guillotine drop they pull and 180 and transition into some rather beautiful post-rock interludes. Now while I think that the post-rock ship has more or less sailed (feel free to disagree with me on this), these five guys pull the sound off in convincing fashion. It’s a great balance between the brutal and gentle and it makes for a dynamic listen. Highly recommended.
My favorite Denver noisemakers just plopped this one out the other day to my utter elation. This is the first we’ve heard from the guys since they released their debut album All Dawgz Go To Heaven last summer. If we were to get an annual summer release from the guys that would be just about perfect. Their sun bleached pop punk is about as fun as it gets and it wouldn’t fit anywhere half as well as it does being blared from your speakers on a humid summer day.
Stylistically the boys aren’t really trying anything new here. Rather they are slightly tightening the screws on their already winning formula. The guitar work alone on this EP is worth the price of admission. Bouncing guitar lines trace back and forth all over this thing amping up the catchy factor tenfold. If you’re a sucker for this kind of stuff like I am, School Knights should be a welcome addition to your earspace.
This release found its way to me courtesy of Zsófia Németh (who some of you might recognize as Piresian Beach). She is good friends with the group and is eager to share their music with anyone who is willing to listen.
Broken Cups hail from Budapest, Hungary and their sinister take on 1980’s post-punk borders on being straight up gothic. Doing their best to “keep music evil”, the band insists on keeping things pretty dark here. The guitars are soaked in sharp reverb, the synths bolster an already bleak atmosphere, and the vocals sound almost vampiric. And yet for all of its death-obsession and darkness, Slaves of the Grave is still a catchy, toe-tapping release. A rave to the grave, if you will.
Today is a Sophomore Lounge Records double feature! Earlier today on PORTALS I posted about the upcoming album from The Christmas Bride that the label is putting out. And now here I am featuring Giving Up’s (peace sign / frown face) the second of their two upcoming LP releases.
Due to the nature of the release, I’m finding it hard to nail down exactly what genre to tag on the album. So I am going to coin two new prospective genres right here and you can choose which one you like best. The first is ramshackle pop and the second is junkyard jams. What do you think? I think once you listen to the music that this trio makes you’ll agree that both tags are appropriate. They play a bouncy brand of pop music that makes things like in-tune instruments and perfect-pitch vocals totally irrelevant. It has a very on-the-spot feeling to it like Giving Up flies a lot by the seat of their pants. It’s a endlessly charming album with shared boy/girl vocals and heart that is worn proudly on their sleeve.
The album is out now on 12” baby blue vinyl through Sophomore Lounge Records and it comes with mini hand-sewn zines, a download code, and a hand-painted poster. All in all it’s a beautiful release that is worth every penny.
If the dudes at Double Double Whammy are like my brothers, then does that make my constant featuring of their work nepotism? I don’t really care because they are a quality group of people who constantly put out great releases. In case you need convincing, do yourself a favor and check out “Haunted Homie”, the first single from their upcoming Bad Cello release.
Although the songs on Bad Cello’s forthcoming album Takes sound like you’d need a five-person band minimum, it is actually the solo project of Utica, NY resident Zeno Pittarelli. “Haunted Homie” is the first track to surface from that album and it is the perfect cross-section of what you’ll get from Zeno’s music. It’s sort of a meeting ground between the rambunctious indie rock that the DDW specializes in and a more folky chamber pop sound. Controlling tempo and tone with minute detail, Bad Cello churns out expertly crafted pop music with frustrating ease. This is coffee, book, and couch music if ever there was any.