Album Review: Imbium – Part 1: The Radioactive Club

Worthing, England three-piece Imbium originally planned their three-part EP series as one full-length.  As they realized the twelve songs they readied worked well in four-song blocks, it became this.  Part 1: The Radioactive Club comes out Friday (UPDATE: It’s been delayed until Monday the 5th!) and is the first offering in the series, which’ll come out gradually over the next few months.  With one EP (2013’s Undercover Me & You) and 2014 single “If Gandhi Was A Rockstar” behind them, 2015’s first new music from the band continues their self-described “Fucked Up Pop & Roll”.

The Radioactive Club opens with “Duck Sees Moth”, which starts with hollow drums before kicking in fully with a dirty, head-bob-worthy sound.  Its main guitar part reminds me a lot of “Banned From the Back Porch” by Saves The Day and the song ultimately explodes into a Royal Blood-esque ending, which rocks.  Next up is single “Backseat Bingo”,  a hella-catchy blast of uptempo indie rock with a great, stunted breakdown.  “Headspace” comes next, with bass and ska/reggae type chords really taking centre stage in the verses.  The chorus features vocal harmonies that add a delightful dreamy quality.  Finally, the EP closes with “101 Mistakes”, which starts slow and acoustic before kicking things up a notch two minutes in.  There’s some great guitar effect (flanger maybe?) in that part, and I’m torn as to whether to consider the song a power ballad or not.  It gets a little crazy at the end so maybe not, but…yeah.  Good tune though, for sure.

Imbium are a really interesting group.  They run the gamut from soft to hard to slow to fast and include elements of punk, indie rock, hard rock and probably some other genres.  It’ll be interesting to see how Part 2: Lonely Planets and Part 3: The Shock Theory treat us once they’re out, but in the meantime Part 1: The Radioactive Club is a great start and will be out for you on Friday Monday.  They’re also hitting the road in the last week of October for a quick UK tour in support, so if you’re able to see them make it happen.

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Interview: New York Tourists


Blackburn, England’s New York Tourists have been nothing if not steady when it comes to putting out new music.  The indie rock four-piece put out EPs in 2013 and 2014 (Thank You & Goodnight and Dead Man’s Leather, respectively) and are working on their debut full-length as we speak.  A new single, “Call” is coming out next month too, and TPS had a chance to listen.  It’s a cool track with almost chill verses that build through the pre-chorus into a loud, raucous chorus.  To paraphrase Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer, “you’re gonna like the way you look it sounds.  I guarantee it”.  Also, we chatted!  (Hence the post’s title right!?)

Ever been to New York?

Carl is the only one of us who has.  He stayed with some friends that live there for about 3 weeks in 2009. Was a crazy 3 weeks.  They slept through Obama’s inauguration, ha.

Your sound has been described as Queens of the Stone Age meets Foals, and I hear bands like Wolfmother and Muse too.  Who are some of your favourite artists?

We are into The Cure at the min, as well as Foals and BRMC.  Think these influences come through strongly on the album, especially The Cure.
Your Kickstarter campaign for your debut full-length was a success.  When is the album coming out?

Was a huge success, and has helped us greatly, made us feel like we were doing this for a reason.  Was amazed by how many people backed us.  The album is out March 2016.  A nice Kickstart to the summer you could say.  Excuse the pun. (Ed. note: never excuse puns!)

The single “Call” is out October 22nd, with a release show for it the next day.  Talk about that song – will it appear on the new album? 

This song is really diverse and a stand out of the album, although there are many good songs on it.  This is different from what’s out there we feel.  The foals meets QOTSA can be seen in this track.  The lyrics are based on, well what can only be described as a booty call, you don’t really like ’em but hey.  Everyone’s had one.  Right!

Will you guys be touring at all in the remainder of 2015?

Yes, we are pretty much always gigging.  Got some good ones coming up, stand outs are the Ramsbottom Festival (ed. note: just happened!), and I’d say the gig at The Etihad.

Think the Rovers will get promoted back to the Premier League anytime soon?

No………….!

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Alternative Music & Fashion Part 4: Hair


It’s time for another edition of “Alternative Music & Fashion”, which looks at the various marriages TPS-centric music has with other things.  Part 1 covered how it’s really the best music/fashion relationship, Part 2 was knowing your body type, Part 3 covered the wildness that is beards and now we get to Part 4: hair, mofo.

Many hairstyles are prominent not only in alternative music, but many genres.  The inspiration for this post came largely because I’m going through my own process as a 30-year-old man whose hair is thinning and needs to adapt, but it works because, you know, scene hair!

I guess “scene hair” is largely thought of as bang-heavy bob-like cuts.  Those are unisex, as the gorgeous Hayley Williams of Paramore displays:

There’s also the spikier version of that many guys rock, like Jack Barakat and Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low:

And finally, the always-fashion-forward Bill Kaulitz of Tokio Hotel with the shaved sides:

The latter cut is one I’d like to try myself – not that I have the thickness on top to do that anymore barf – but my girlfriend is leery.  Maybe I’ll convince her, but for now I’m getting ready to shave my head and see how that treats me.  I’m also told a shaved head while being clean-shaven on the face is a no-no, so I’m also growing a modest beard (modest a bit by choice and mostly by Part 3 of this feature LOL).  Yay for hats though right?  Hats FTW.

So…there’s that.

Track Listing: This One’s For The Girls

See how special this edition is gonna be?  It even forgoes the usual “Track Listing” logo!  Also, is using display artists that aren’t TPS’ usual domain becoming a thing?  Maybe!

Women are wonderful period.  Women who are musicians?  Well now that’s just kicking it up a notch.  In a time where the lack of female representation at music festivals has become a hot topic (it opened a store!? That’s pretty inte-*murdered*) why don’t we highlight just a few of the many great ladies doing great things in music these days?

Alexa Melo – “My Ex”

This Los Angeles alt-rocker put out her self-titled debut earlier this year.  It features the single “Still Right Here”, but “My Ex” is what I want to highlight this time.  It’s a loud, frantic song with heavily-effected vocals whose layers and echoes just add to the subject matter’s frustration.

Marie-Mai – “C.O.B.R.A”

Marie-Mai is from the Montreal suburb of Varennes, and yes indeed sings mostly in French (which is fine even if you don’t understand!).  A rocker who at times goes a bit electro, Marie-Mai has been a longtime fave of mine because 1) c’mon look at her and 2) she’s really good.  “C.O.B.R.A” features pounding, almost tribal drums and is about standing out and not getting lost in the crowd.  It’s off Miroir, which came out in 2012.  2014’s M is her most recent effort.

Krysta Youngs – “Xanax (A Love Song)”

And now for some alt-pop!  Los Angeles-based Krysta Youngs put out “Xanax (A Love Song)” earlier this summer – a dark, desperate offering that she describes as “about persevering through life…becoming your own safe place or being that for someone else.”  Her EP Prescriptions is out on the 29th, and will actually feature an acoustic version of this one.

Hope Vista – “Wild Girl”

This New Jersey rocker is putting out the EP I Prevail in November, but for now you can enjoy this song.  You can check out the actual version via a Vents Magazine premiere, but here’s an a cappella version from her YouTube – you know, so we’d have something to post here!  “Wild Girl” is a pop-rock effort with pop-punk overtones, and an intriguing sign of what we can expect from Vista going forward.  There’s a teaser for upcoming single “Dominance” on her YouTube as well.

Kendall Lake – “Voices”

Finally, we make it a Los Angeles trifecta with Kendall Lake.  “Voices” is a very interesting track.  It features a simple, clean main riff but also distorted guitar that really works each note. Record-scratching (I think?) is also prominently featured, and the song really begins its ending a little over halfway through as rapid-fire vocals – that would probably be a bridge in most songs – lead to a solo, then an extro lamenting “there’s so many voices/there’s too many voices” in Lake’s head.  It’s a slower song that has a lot of sonic atmosphere, and is well-worth a listen.

As you can tell, this “Track Listing” focused on solo female artists.  Why?  I guess no particular reason other than they stuck out, but there are bands like Polaris Rose, Plastic Rhino, Redambergreen (who just introduced their new singer, by the way), Tonight Alive, We Are The In Crowd, and Kilmore who have female members.  There do tend to be more men than women in rock, but that’s not for a lack of talent.  Basically, women are great and any sexism and even misogyny that exists in the scene needs to be taken out back and put out of everyone else’s misery.

OneRepublican: If Donald Trump Renamed Bands In His Persona


The American Democratic/Republican nomination campaigns are on now for the 2016 Presidential election – you know, because all campaigns should take a year and a half – and the story so far (The Story So Far?) has been Donald Trump’s Republican run.  The Donald has barked up this tree before but never as seriously as this time, and he’s actually…doing well!?  He’s said a ton of outrageous things and taken special aim at Mexican immigrants, fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina, and Rosie O’Donnell among others.  With that in mind, and inspired by Twitter’s occasional trending hashtag spoofs like #Healthy90sBands (which I think we totally nailed) let’s rename some artists based on Donald Trump’s crazy campaign.  The spoof name will link to the reasoning, and the actual artist will be in brackets.  Ahem…

Face To Would Anyone Vote For That Face (Face to Face)
Payable On Death To Your Kind For Sending Your Rapists To The US (P.O.D.)
The Sitdowntown Fiction (The Downtown Fiction)
Pig, Dog, Slob and Disgusting Animal (Animal)
The He’s Not A War Hero on Drugs (The War on Drugs)
The Worst Secretary of State of Alaska (The State of Alaska)
Royal Blood Coming Out of Her Wherever (Royal Blood)
She’s No Longer A Ten Foot Pole (Ten Foot Pole)
The Rand Paul Shouldn’t Even Be On This Stage Band (The Rand Band…LOL so happy they exist)

We could go on…and on…and probably on.  Basically, Donald Trump is crazy and if he actually wins the Republican nomination – or the Presidency holy hell – that would be a shock.  For now, he’s 1) crazy of course but 2) great entertainment, and in a campaign that goes on as long as the American one does you need that.  Thanks, Obama!

Scene Specific: Seattle


Seattle, Washington is easily one of North America’s greatest cities.  It’s gorgeous, has a mild climate, is a leader in technology and COFFEE LOL, laid-back, and intelligent.  Musically, grunge needs no introduction (in case it does though, here) and the city is a current mecca for indie rock.  Home to prominent labels like Sub Pop and Tooth & Nail, and bands that are so painfully obvious we won’t profile them here (Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, etc.), Seattle is an all-around beast.  Let’s take a look at some other acts that come out of the Emerald City.

Acceptance

Oh, Acceptance…you put out the highly-regarded Phantoms in 2005, broke up the following year and then reunited in 2015.  The alt-rockers had a bit of controversy when drummer Garrett Lunceford exited in 2003.  He’d come out as gay and said he was booted, but the band said he left. Yada yada yada…they’ve made amends and he’s back with the reunited group.  They also put out a new song this year called “Take You Away”.

Shakedown At The Majestic

Here’s a group that relocated to Seattle from New York City.  The four-piece play, as a wonderful description I read goes, “classy classic power pop”.  They wear suits and everything!  Even the band’s name kind of brings up that *1957 term alert* swingin’-good-time type imagery, and when you listen to them you do get a slight throwback feel.  Their self-titled debut EP is out November 6th and was produced by – speaking of Seattle-area people! – Steve Fisk.  Have a listen to “In Control” in the meantime.

Amber Pacific

Amber Pacific are awesome, and one of my favourite Seattle bands.  The pop-punkers have four albums under their belt, and dealt with several lineup changes around the latest (2014’s The Turn) and prior (2010’s Virtues) and, well…before that too.  Vocalist Matt Young left before Virtues and then came back for The Turn, and the current post-hiatus lineup is rounded out by guitarists Will Nutter and Justin Westcott (who’s also a returnee), and drummer Dango.

Nightspace

Do you like your punk spacey?  Do you like your core dreamy?  Well, here’s Nightspace for you then.  The musical side of Bailey Skye will put out the Untrue EP October 16th on Seattle’s own Flat Field Records.  In the meantime, have a listen to “Mean Kids” to get warmed up for it.

MxPx

Bremerton boys bringing it to ya from the Left Coast.  They actually just played a hometown show with the aforementioned Acceptance, and for over twenty years have been one of punk’s leading acts.  Mike Herrera (vocals/bass), Tom Wisniewski (guitar/vocals) and Yuri Riley (drums) have infused their sound with skate, pop and Christianity during their run, which included time on hometown label Tooth & Nail.

Ever So Android

This duo released their full-length debut Disconnect last month, which follows up a self-titled EP.  Hope Simpson (vocals) and Drew Murray (guitar) dish out a dirty-sounding brand of rock with hints of industrial and electro.  Bands like Haim, Veruca Salt and Plastic Rhino come to mind when you listen to Ever So Android, which is ever so cool (ahhhhhh).

Mutiny Mutiny

The post-punk/art rock trio of Jason Dean (vocals/guitar), Jenn Schmidt (bass/vocals) and Julie D (guitar/vocals) are putting out their third release, the Undefined EP, October 23rd.  The follow-up to 2013’s Don’t Quit Your Day Job features “Loukanikos”, a song inspired by Greece and named after the late “riot dog” from the anti-austerity protests.  The EP release show is actually on October 17th, at Seattle’s Columbia City Theater.

Fleet Foxes

We’ll end this “Scene Specific” with a little something for the hipster crowd (and it’s not even the Portland edition!).  Fleet Foxes are held in high regard, and on hiatus!  Frontman Robin Pecknold moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, and who knows when the group might reconvene.  The indie folk act will eventually though, and considering they’re one of Seattle’s brighter musical lights these days that’s a good thing.

When I first conceived the idea of “Scene Specific” as a recurring TPS feature, Seattle was a place I immediately knew needed profiling eventually.  So…that just happened.  What (else) is a boy to do?  I know what you should do: get your Seattle on!

Track Listing: On Shuffle

Alright, let’s fire up a “Track Listing” of songs that are pretty different from each other, hence “on shuffle”.  See what happened there?

8 Graves – “Lie”

We’ll start off with some electro-pop from New York City duo 8 Graves.  “Lie” is a chill, mid-tempo track about a relationship faltering when you have no one to blame but yourself.  It’s the third offering on their five-song EP Mixtape, which surprised me because I think this would make a great closing track.  It just has that feel.

Roah Summit – “Giant”

Costa Mesa, California indie rockers Roah Summit released their Giant EP August 25th, and this is obviously the title track.  It starts with really…yeah, “fluttery” synths (thanks other description I’ve read!) before kicking in with the full band.  It’s a very drums-driven song, and will turn you on if you like bands like Interpol, The Killers and The National.

Radical Something – “Paradise In You”

This California trio describe themselves as alternative hip hop, reggae and pop, which is pretty interesting yeah?  “Paradise In You” is their final offering from their “Summer of Rad 2015”, which saw them release several songs.  It’s a light, fun love song full of horns, a rapped verse and a hella catchy chorus.  It’s really a song that you’d put on when you have the house to yourself and can just boogie – yeah I said “boogie” in 2015 (I say as if I haven’t used that more than a few times) – around the place.

Counting Coins – “Peasants Revenge”

Hull, England ska/punk band Counting Coins are releasing a new single, “Don’t Look Down” October 1st.  That’ll be the first from their upcoming eponymous album.  In the meantime we’ll enjoy “Peasants Revenge”, a 5 1/2-minute jam that starts with a call-and-response intro of “HEY!” “UHH!” “WOOO!” and “LET’S GO!”.  Tempo changes and gang vocals abound, making this track an obviously (considering the genre) fun listen.

Short Skirts – “I Like It Short”

Let’s go to Scandinaviaaaaa!  Norwegian garage rockers Short Skirts put out their new album Family Values last month, and single “I Like It Short” sings about how…wait for it…THEY LIKE SHORT SKIRTS.  Whoa band name reference!  Wait, lusting after women in short skirts doesn’t promote…FAMILY VALUES!  Oh man, I’m trippin’ out.

Somehow Jo! – “Satans of Swing”

Finally, we stay in Scandinavia for this Tampere, Finland four-piece.  “Satans of Swing” (see what they did?) is the title track off their last album, which came out back in the spring.  It features vocals from Battle Beast’s Noora Louhimo, which just adds to the assault of Finnish metal you get from this track.  It’s epic, heavy and c’mon Scandinavian metal – they know what they’re doing.

Look at that: six songs, six genres and let’s add a third six because Somehow Jo! would probably approve.  Put those in your mp3 player pipe and smoke ’em!

Album Review: Palardy – The Blue

Tonight features the CD release show for Palardy’s new EP The Blue.  It’s the Atlanta hardcore act’s second EP this year, following May’s Entry Notes.  This one is a seven-song effort that expands on the band’s more recent heavy, angst-ridden sound.

The Blue starts off with “Katie”, a character who’s front-and-centre in the world of Palardy.  It features brooding, ominous chords and copious (and solid) use of feedback.  “Don’t Call Me Judas” is next, starting out with DRUMS HOLY CRAP SNARE-DESTROYING PUNK DRUMS, before changing tempo and getting some nice palm muting/riffage going before bringing in some clean chords.  The guitar is varied, and good.  “Reckoning” sings to the aforementioned Katie, with brutally honest lyrics like “I’m not afraid to admit/I’m fucking terrified”.  It also uses chords ringing-out nicely, which is always great because in my mind – though more so at the end of a song – it doesn’t get much better than a chord ringing out.  It’s such a simple thing on the surface, but you can hear/feel so much when it happens.  Up next is “Pound of Hate”, which starts out with clean picking and calm, almost spoken vocals before the screaming comes back.If you know Palardy and think this review sounds kinda familiar, you wouldn’t be wrong: the first four songs on The Blue were on Entry Notes.  Track five, “How The Titanic Really Sank” finally brings the new.  It features an over thirty-second intro with call-and-response guitar work, and delightful moments of kick pedal assault.  Penultimate track “Kaitlin” slows things down a bit with a love note to the subject.  A standout lyric is “and if there ever were a prayer for me/on her lips/I think I’d drop dead from the weight of her kiss”, and I think “Kaitlin” might be my favourite song on the EP.  Finally, The Blue ends with single “Rebirth/Dickbutt II (This Time Is Personal)”.  It’s a two-minute jam that’s essentially a two-parter, as it switches gears about halfway through to dish out several “FUCK YOU”s among other things.  I also dig how the song starts with two cold vocal lines effected by echo.

The Blue is a promising effort from Palardy, but I do find it odd that four of the seven songs were already released.  Often artists will re-release on their debut full-length or if they’ve re-imagined the song (s), but here they’re exactly the same.  I did read somewhere that the band wanted to get better quality out of those recordings, but a three-song EP of entirely new music would’ve been just fine.  Regardless, The Blue is good, and as Palardy further polish their sound they’ll just keep being a worthy listen.  At the time of this writing the EP isn’t up on their Bandcamp, but look for it anytime now because they might literally be on stage at the moment!  (Uh, at the time of this writing!)

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Interview: Blonde Summer


The “California” vibe is often something that those who don’t have, strive for.  It’s an idyllic thing, and something Los Angeles indie rockers Blonde Summer are drenched in.  The band released their fourth album Paradise back on August 25th, and it’s one that marks an evolution for their sound.  The follow-up to 2014’s High Times, the EP sees frontman Chris Pope experimenting with new instrumentation.  He chatted with TPS about that, and other band-related stuff!

Paradise is your fourth album, and they’ve all been EPs so far.  A musician friend of mine thinks EPs are really the future of releases.  Do you feel that way too?

EPs are nice introductions, either being a new band, or exploring a new direction.  That’s how I have used them.

You’ve had a few TV placements with your music.  Any that stand out because you’re fans of the show, or otherwise? 

 Yeah, we’ve been very fortunate to have a bunch of placements.  They are all really special.  I’ve even watched an entire Netflix series just because our song was going to be in there….then it wasn’t actually in there, which was funny.  (Ed. note: Well…hopefully the series was good.)  But yeah first commercial was Target, first movie was Curse of Downers Grove...both were epic.


Paradise
is more keys and drums-driven than previous releases.  What was the catalyst for that evolution in sound?

 I never learned how to play the drums or piano, so I took a few drum lessons, and 2 piano lessons, and then it was just on.  All I wanted to do was start from those two instruments, because it was so new and fun.  First song I did was “Paradise”, and it happened in a flash.


Getting high is a theme with the band.  Do you ever write in that state?  If so, does it really open the creativity up?

I’ve never really thought it was a theme.  I write early in the morning and I am very aware…I might be buzzing on some English Breakfast Tea tho.
Paradise
is really an ode to California.  What’s the perfect “California” day?

 That’s the thing…they’re all perfect. Sun is always welcomed, and when a little stormy day comes in it’s extra special.

Now that the album’s out, what does the rest of 2015 hold for Blonde Summer in support?

Live shows coming up and more music on its way out.  I’ve got a couple free singles I plan on releasing for fun.

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Change of Season: Artists Who’ve Switched It Up Recently


Labour Day weekend marks the unofficial start of fall in Canada and the US (and happens other times of the year elsewhere).  The summer vacation season winds down, school starts and mindsets change to fall, which officially is still a couple of weeks away.  That said, a few artists have had their own changes of season in 2015, so we’ll look at a few of them and what they evolved into.

No Use For Their Old Name: Debuting Palardy and Too Far Lost 

You see what happened there?

Atlanta hardcore act Palardy started 2015 as Me Vs. You before changing their name.  That came with an evolution in sound too, as the emo got pushed aside for their Entry Notes EP.  They’ve readied a new EP too, so we’ll look forward to that.

New Jersey hard rock/metalheads Too Far Lost began as The Faded Line before their own name change and the release of debut EP Corrupted Swine (which TPS reviewed!).  Often times artists, once they’re truly ready to get out there, will do a name change because their first one was just something to use in the meantime.  Not saying either of these bands did that, but that’s a common reason for new artists.

Members Out (But Not For An Ideal Reason)

Two bands that lost members this year were Set It Off and Neck Deep, but this wasn’t a case where someone got tired of the road, joined another band, etc.  Both were involved in something that was all too prevalent in this scene this year: sexual harassment allegations.  Set It Off’s Austin Kerr was booted out for it, and Neck Deep’s Lloyd Roberts left.  There were more examples of sexual harassment too, and the fact that underage girls were involved makes it even worse.  Please respect female fans – regardless of age – when you’re an artist.  They’re not pieces of meat, and often the younger ones look up to you and are impressionable.

F The Banjo: Mumford & Sons Go Electric

For their third album Wilder Mind, Mumford & Sons busted out the electric guitars and dropped their most notable instrument: the banjo.  When first single “Believe” was released before the May drop of Wilder Mind I thought “man…I actually like this”.  I wasn’t a fan of their previous stuff, so this was a change I welcomed.

Fall does bring a lot of good things (more sports, pretty colours, etc.) but as summer is my favourite season I always get a little bummed out at this time of year.  Now, if you happen to live in a warm-weather climate it’s not as bad because it WON’T BE TERRIBLE IN A COUPLE OF MONTHS BAH, but yeah.  So…there’s that.  Happy (almost) fall!