Weekendcore: Hot Hot Heat – “Bandages”

Bandages


Hot Hot Heat’s
final album will be self-titled and out June 24th.  It’ll be their fifth and first since 2010’s Future Breeds, and bring to a close the better part of two decades putting out dance-worthy indie rock.  While it’s not like they formed the night before, Hot Hot Heat didn’t have to wait long for success. Continue reading “Weekendcore: Hot Hot Heat – “Bandages””

Weekendcore: Further Seems Forever – “The Sound”

The Sound
“But for now, I’ll look (up) so longingly”.  Wait, wrong singer…and artist!

 

Further Seems Forever went through three singers in three albums before their initial breakup in 2006.  Chris Carrabba was on 2001 debut The Moon Is Down, Jason Gleason on 2003’s How To Start A Fire and the late Jon Bunch on 2004’s Hide Nothing.  Gleason is my fave of the three, and the only one who isn’t better known for a different act – Carrabba for Dashboard Confessional, Bunch for Sense Field.  The Pompano Beach, Florida five-piece became as known for the vocalist changes as anything else, but they also wrote many solid songs including “The Sound”.

“The Sound” was the single off How To Start A Fire.  Back when MTV2 was killin’ it with the rock videos I first heard it there.  It was actually the first Further Seems Forever song I heard, as I wasn’t long into my listenership of underground music and hadn’t caught up despite knowing of the band.  “The Sound” is a song of defined parts, with the verses having three distinct musical sections.  The chorus has very subtle off-time guitar work, and the bridge is kind of a hybrid of verse parts one and two.  All in all it’s a sweet-ass emo rocker, and perhaps my favourite song on How To Start A Fire (“Insincerity As An Artform” is pretty strong too).

Further Seems Forever did return with a 2012 release of Penny Black, featuring Chris Carrabba back on vocals.  Yada yada yada…thirteen years after releasing it they’re celebrating How To Start A Fire, having done a quick tour last month performing it in its entirety.  They’ll be doing three more summer shows for that (July 28th, 29th and 30th in Baltimore, Maryland; Boston and New York City respectively) as well as a Jon Bunch memorial in Philadelphia June 25th.  Oh, and Jason Gleason’s on the mic for all this…and maybe a new album????  That would be cool.  In the meantime, “The Sound” FTW.

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Interview: Step Rockets


The Midwest is full of hard working, salt-of-the-Earth types that nicely balance out the GO-GO-GO vibe of the East Coast and more laid-back vibe of the West Coast.  Much Midwestern music reflects that, and Minneapolis, Minnesota gives us the Timberwolves beating the Warriors WTF LOL!? Step Rockets.  The indie rockers have been releasing music for a couple of years and will finally put out their debut EP Future Nature next Friday, the 15th.  Single “West Coast” precedes it, as does this chat with TPS!

Your music has a driving-but-upbeat, almost light quality.  What and who inspires Step Rockets?

That’s an interesting observation.  It is always fun to hear what other people think of our sound.  We have a lot of different sides to the band.  “Kisser” and “Turning Tides (By Your Side)” are more of the reflective, sensitive side of Step Rockets whereas “West Coast” and “Phantom Flower” are alt rock songs with a pop-forward edge.  I think some of the lightness is us trying to break away from the drab winter months here in Minnesota.  We are really steeped in Blues and Roots music on the guitar side of things but our production and song-writing approach tends to be more electronic/pop focused.  What really inspires us is when we hear fresh blend of sounds that evokes the emotions and stirs the spirit.

“West Coast” seems to look at said coast as the spot where life gets better.  Considering the whole California-dreamin’ thing, is that the thought behind it?

In a sarcastic way it is asking the person to take the high-road right off the edge of the West Coast.  Think Thelma and Louise.

Minneapolis has given the music world Prince, The Replacements and Motion City Soundtrack among others.  Who do you dig locally, and what comes to mind when you think of your home scene?

We think of our friends like Denny, Whosah, Graveyard Club, Spearfisher, and Enemy Planes.  I think being from Minneapolis and separated from the coasts puts us in a unique position to not think too hard about where we fit in.  It gives us license to do what we like instead of following trends.

The Future Nature EP Release Tour runs for two weeks and is on now.  Any plans for touring beyond that this year?

We are just getting started this year.  We are currently working on touring for the rest of the year.  We hope to make it to some of the cities we haven’t been to yet and still have our fingers crossed about crossing the pond.

Better Minnesota food: hotdish or Jucy Lucy?

Actually there is this new vegetarian butcher shop called The Herbivorous Butcher.  Check it out!

Step Rockets online:

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Album Review: Twin Haus – Nothing Lavish

Australian indie rockers Twin Haus released their new EP Nothing Lavish on March 22nd.  It’s the Brisbane four-piece’s follow-up to 2014 EP Waxen Myriad, and now on April 1st we run the sophomore effort down – and that’s no j-*murdered*.

Nothing Lavish begins with “Synthetic Egg”, a nine-minute epic with a riff that travels the neck for notes that continually go higher and back.  Vocals break around the four-minute mark for an interlude that lasts until the end, when vocals return oh so briefly.  From there it’s the 2:19 “Self-Love”, an effects-laden instrumental that actually features a similar riff to “Synthetic Egg”.  It’s frantic and possibly sounds like how a guitar would masturbate.  (“Yeah I gotta work my stiff neck HAHAHA”?)  Really though.

The second half of Nothing Lavish first brings “I Used To Think”, which nicely works the ride cymbal (which I forever dig).  Soaring falsetto vocals and some (I believe) delay effect play off each other nicely in this back-to-form epic, which clocks in at just under six minutes.  But that’s nothing compared to closer “The Revue”, which is 11:23 (!) and in its extraordinary length provides the EP’s best track.  It’s the most rockin’ offering, with several tempo changes and guest horns providing a song that’s pulsating, dreamy, punky and beyond.  As I like to highlight when it happens, it’s a perfect closer for this EP.

Nothing Lavish is almost an ironic name because every song has a lot to offer.  Twin Haus have been compared to Explosions in the Sky and Foals, and to me sound like what Tool might if they decided to tone down and try art rock.  Daniel Grima’s resonant, almost weird vocals remind me of Killwave’s George Pinto (who I 100% described in an album review as “If David Bowie were a vampire”) and definitely stand out.  I suppose that’s when they happen, because there are a lot of long interludes and moments where the instruments do the talking (singing?).  Nothing Lavish is something you need to listen to free of distraction, where you can zone out and truly take in the atmosphere.  Do it live if you’re in Australia as Twin Haus are touring the country in support, but either way Nothing Lavish is totally something lavish (went there) and is out now.

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Album Review: The Zolas – Swooner

The Zolas are intriguing.  There’s a quirk to what the Vancouver act do that sucks you in, and that’s been expanded on with Swooner.  Their follow-up to last year’s Wino Oracle EP and first full-length since 2012’s Ancient Mars, Swooner came out last Friday and finds The Zolas getting even deeper into the pop sheen of their sound.

If you’ve heard Wino Oracle, you’ll recognize opener “Molotov Girls” as one of three songs from it that appear on Swooner.  The song itself is synth-tastic with great hi-hat work – the latter being a staple of the album.  The title track is next, a bass-driven number with some great phase.  “Get Dark” comes after and is a song that was out prior to the album’s release.  In fact, since we included it in the most recent “Track Listing” let’s just see how it was described there!  I called it “a light, nice indie pop jam with a falsetto chorus that features the awesome lines “down for getting dark, cause the dark gets me/all the other lovers make it so heavy”.  Good assessment. (*pats self on back*)  “Fell In Love With New York” is another one that appeared on Wino Oracle, and we’ll highlight lyrics from: “you’re always surrounded/you’re always alone/I fell in love with New York ’cause I wanna atone”.  That’s in the chorus, and the song almost has a reggae vibe to it – it has that bouncy feel.  Up next is “CV Dazzle”, which is one of my favourites on the album.  It kicks things up a bit, and actually feels a lot like “Invisible”, which was released as a standalone single back in 2013.  So I thought that to myself and then…

…LOL, the very next song on Swooner is “Invisible”!!!  WHAT!  So it finally found a proper release home on this album, and it really basically feels like “CV Dazzle” but with even more rock.  The songs were surely written a while apart so that’s clearly not intentional (plus every artist has songs that sound similar because it’s the same people writing), but regardless I don’t mean that insultingly: it’s a sick one-two punch.  “Invisible” is indeed my favourite song on this album.  Moving on though, “Freida On The Mountain” has a snappy quality to it.  By that I mean you could totally snap your fingers to it, and the keys really shine in typical, evocative piano-style.  “Male Gaze” follows and is the final offering that was on Wino Oracle.  It’s really a connect-with-another song that solidly features what I’m pretty sure is some cowbell (it might just be regular snare mixed with some harmonic palm muting?).  The penultimate track is “This Changes Everything”, which has a bassline that sounds a lot like “Stand By Me” (or to keep the reference newer, “Beautiful Girls”!).  Overall I find it has the most 80s vibe on the album.  Finally, “Why Do I Wait (When I Know You’ve Got A Lover)” ends the album.  It’s a straight-up ballad, and a nice closer because 1) it’s nice (YEAH) and 2) it’s a different sound that really lets you chill, enjoy and reflect on the entire experience.

Swooner sees The Zolas go really indie pop.  It’s not at all a weird transition from what they’ve done though, in fact it’s quite natural.  Indie pop lends itself well to quirk, and as mentioned the band have that element.  Swooner is out now, so ya gots ta go listen and be like *swoon*. (Get it?)

The Zolas online: 

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Album Review: Imbium – Part 2: Lonely Planets

Worthing, England indie rockers Imbium released part one of their three-part EP series back in the fall.  Considering we reviewedPart 1: The Radioactive Club, it would make a lot of sense to review the new Part 2: Lonely Planets too right?  As my girlfriend would say, “obviiiii”.

Like The Radioactive Club and upcoming Part 3: The Shock TheoryPart 2: Lonely Planets has four songs.  It starts off with “Beserka”, which is the first single.  It’s an upbeat jam with a lot of subtle-yet-great guitar work, and sweet harmonies in the chorus.  “If Gandhi Was A Rockstar” comes next, a song that’s actually a year-and-a-half old but finally gets on a proper release.  The verses make great work of really high guitar notes, and call-and-response vocals of “just don’t care!” with lines like “gonna fuck you up” add to a furious tribute that Mahatma himself would probably widen his adorable smile at.

And just like that, it’s the second half of the EP.  Things tone down a bit in it, starting with “Love You & Leave You”.  Featuring guest vocals from fellow West Sussex…er? (ian? Ite?) Christelle Lamb, there’s an added prettiness as she and frontman Matt Charbonneau duet and in-unison sing during it.  The cowbell in the first verse rules too, and I wish it would’ve been in verse two as well.  The interlude is nicely chill, providing an easy listening (easy listening?) moment before things pick back up…and then tone down again with a piano-only ending (!).  Finally, “To The Stars And Back” ends the EP.  Written by friend-of-the-band Jonny Walker, it slows things down even more in a five-minute number that is drums-free for the first 1:30 or so.  Being an epic power ballad that closes a release (and the fact that it actually has a very similar guitar sound), the song reminds me of Matthew Good Band’s“Change of Season”.  If you know my tastes, you know that’s a big compliment.

All in all, Part 2: Lonely Planets isn’t quite as raucous as Part 1: The Radioactive Club, but perhaps that’s part of the story.  It’s another solid listen from a very interesting band, regardless.  I was told getting the EP online is taking more time than expected, but once it’s ready I will let you know.  (It’s currently available physically though.)  If you’re unable to get the EP in person, dream on this review for now and wonder how Part 3: The Shock Theory will end the trilogy.

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Weekendcore: Hey Mercedes


Once upon a time there was a band from Champaign, Illinois called Braid, who were considered one of the forefront emo bands of the nineties.  After releasing the seminal Frame & Canvas in 1998, they broke up the year after before reuniting in 2010.  Post and pre-Braid (the redux), members Bob Nanna (vocals/guitar), Todd Bell (bass) and Damon Atkinson (drums) formed Hey Mercedes.  (So yes, if you’re keeping score it went Braid-Hey Mercedes-Braid.)

Hey Mercedes played indie rock that was more straightforward and poppier than Braid.  Starting out with their 2000 self-titled EP, their discography went Everynight Fire Works (2001 debut full-length), The Weekend EP (2002), Loses Control (2003) and the Unorchestrated EP (2005).  Some of my favourite songs are the self-titled’s “Bells”, Everynight Fire Works’ “Eleven To Your Seven” and Loses Control’s “Playing Your Song” (which features people named Kevin and Karen, and at the time I was actually seeing a Karen.  Whoa.).  They also did an awesome cover of When In Rome’s “The Promise”, which is a hidden track on The Weekend.

Besides the Braid members, Hey Mercedes at first featured Mark Dawursk on guitar before he left and was replaced by Michael Shumaker.  They were part of Vagrant Records during the label’s emo/punk heyday, and one of the first indie rock bands I got into.  Most people are happy Braid are back, but Hey Mercedes were no slouches.  (Yeah it was basically the same guys, but shaaaadduuuup.)  Give ’em a listen.

Album Review: Don’t Believe In Ghosts – Change Your Mind


Steven Nathan used to front New York City indie rockers Man On Earth.  He’s now struck out on his own with a solo project called Don’t Believe In Ghosts, and released the debut EP Change Your Mind.  It’s part one of the two-part EP Change Your Mind, Change Your Luck, and provides six songs of largely straight-ahead rock with complementary sonic flourishes.

Change Your Mind kicks off with “Run”, the EP’s biggest rocker that features a solid, choppy main riff with some nice delay on it.  Things slow down next with “Nothing I Could Do Is Ever Good Enough For You”, which follows up the title lyric with some nice, low-end phased synth in a barely there chorus.  “The Way I See It” comes after, with sassy vocals and call-and-response riffing that remind me of a more subdued Danko Jones.

The second half of Change Your Mind is where more of an epic feel comes in.  “Pick Up The Pieces” is track four, an inspirational number with a mix of clean and squealy keys.  Big vocals sing over simply strummed power chords to deliver the song’s positive message.  More clean keys follow in “What Took So Long”, and they’re accompanied by awesome, orchestral-sounding ones.  The drums and guitar kick in for the chorus, and all-in-all “What Took So Long” is a dark, ominous and epic 4:15 that fades out with a guitar solo that gives way to one final clean synth chord.  Finally, closer “Everyone I Know Is Going Crazy” brings the tempo back up with some of the EP’s best catchiness.  Aside from the main riff in “Run”, this song really provides the quirkiest moments.  It’s a perfect closer.

With Change Your Mind, Steven Nathan has put out well-written rock songs that never sacrifice melody.  The synth provides some great extras, and nicely complements the largely no-frills sound.  Having “What Took So Long” and “Everyone I Know Is Going Crazy” as the penultimate and final tracks respectively is a great combo too.  Song placement is almost as important as songs themselves I think, and they work really well where they are.  (For that matter, “Run” works well as the opener too.)  We’ll have to see about Change Your Luck, but Change Your Mind is definitely a good start for Don’t Believe In Ghosts.

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Scenematography: Sons of Rico – “What Am I Doing Here?”

Melbourne-based indie rockers Sons of Rico just released the video for “What Am I Doing Here?”.  It’s the first single off their upcoming third album, which follows-up 2013’s In Rico Glaciers.  The song itself is the dandiest type of indie rock ditty (…LOL what a Dad-of-Rocker type description), featuring drums both electronic and regular, in-unison vocals and dirty/rifftastic guitar.

As for the video itself, it has an almost psychedelic, old-school feel.  Frontman Alex MacRae’s face is on a puppet that alternately dances, plays Scrabble and violently cuts a carrot among other things.  While that’s happening, keyboardist/percussionist/vocalist Siobhan McGinnity is completely mesmerized by her phone, which shows the rest of the band playing in a video-within-a-video.  By the end, MacRae’s puppet is flying around the world along with the previous shenanigans.  The final scene has both parties in bed, McGinnity still on the phone and MacRae all like *eye roll*.  It’s an absurd video, in a good way.

But what does it all mean?  Is there something couple-y in this video for a song about addressing a less-than-ideal situation?  Who knows, decide for yourself!  Presenting said video for Sons of Rico’s “What Am I Doing Here?”:

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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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