Interview: Polaris Rose

Los Angeles alt-rock duo Polaris Rose are set to drop sophomore full-length Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies on March 25th.  It’s a nice, natural progression from 2014 debut Telescopes (which we reviewed) and continues an overall theme that’ll span a few more albums.  You can grab “That Lonely Road” as a free download right now, and learn more about what to expect from the record overall with this lil’ chit-chat with Peter Anthony (vocals/guitar) and Maddie Elyse (vocals/bass).

I find Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies is a little bit more eclectic than Telescopes.  Is that a fair assessment?  What influences went into it?

Yeah, we agree with that.  We wanted Telescopes to be one of those albums that – when a person hears it – they think ‘Oh ok, this is their sound’.  Nothing too jarring.  We wanted it to be a clear declaration of our sound/identity.  For Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies we knew that we wanted the sound to take what we did on Telescopes and show growth.  We allowed ourselves to showcase the dynamics in our songwriting more.  Plus, the lyrics and overall themes of the record get more mature and just a little bit darker.

With your songs all connecting as part of a bigger concept, what part of the story are we in with this new album?

Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies
is part 2 of a 6-part series.  Compared to our last record, OBVS gets a lot more personal and – we think – has a more mature sound to it.  It’s also just a smudge darker.  Our forthcoming records are going to continue to grow down that road.

Not that the video for “TigerBait” isn’t good, but Madelynn told me on Twitter that she – like me – pictured a “Thinking Out Loud” vibe for it.  Peeeettttteerrr why a no-go there???

Maddie:
You hit on a sore subject ha ha.

Peter: Maddie is still mad at me.

Being a duo that shares vocal duties, how does the writing process go?  Do you sing what you write or just collaborate on everything?

We collaborate.  We recorded around 35 ideas for Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies before settling on the 9 that are on the record.  That whole process of demoing and brainstorming goes through a lot of stages and reworks.  It’s a lot of bouncing ideas back and forth.

As you get ready to release the sophomore album, what’s been the coolest thing that’s happened to the band since releasing the debut?

Actually, getting Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies mixed by John Spiker and mastered by Eric Boulanger.  It brought the record to life and it was one of the most thrilling musical experiences of our whole lives.

Besides putting out Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies what does 2016 have in store for Polaris Rose?

Lots of shows. And who knows. We may release another record.

Polaris Rose online: 

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Track Listing: Hot ‘N’ Fresh

Just like Pizza Pizza, my favourite fast-food pizza chain!  Mmmm…the songs are all new, they’re new.  As MXC’s Captain Tenneal would say, “llllet’s go!”.

Polaris Rose – “TigerBait”

This Los Angeles alt-rock duo follow-up their 2014 debut full-length Telescopes with Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies in March.  “TigerBait” is a soaring, dreamy tune about things and stuff around us, with lovely in-unison vocals from Peter Anthony and Madelynn Elyse.  I listen to it and picture a video similar to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”, where people just dance beautifully throughout.  That’s legit, right?  Polaris Rose always manage to rock and be beautiful, which isn’t easy to do.

Angela Burns – “It’s Sad”

Sticking with Los Angeles artists (’cause that’s hard to do right?  No scene there at all. *shifty eyes*), it’s time for Angela Burns.  “It’s Sad” is off her mixtape So That You Can Feel Better, and the video was released a week ago.  It’s a five-minute crawler with a solid dirty bassline, piano, violin and some neat guitar effects in the final minute.  And it’s – wait for it – a lil’ sad too.  She actually has a really nineties rock vibe overall, it’s cool.

The Unlikely Candidates – “Your Love Could Start A War”

Ready to pick it up?  This Fort Worth, Texas five-piece just released this new single, and its uptempo sound almost defies its subject matter.  Vocalist Kyle Morris and guitarist Brenton Carney were in the midst of the December 2014 New York City protests, after a grand jury decision not to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner.  They took in the aftermath first-hand and then wrote about it.  “Your Love Could Start A War” is conducive to hand claps, with an American Authors-like sheen in a boisterous presentation that doesn’t defy the subject matter.  That totally (probably?) makes sense once you listen.

Dark Matter Noise – “Blackwing”

Time to get industrial with Seattle’s Dark Matter Noise.  “Blackwing” is the lead track off the album of the same name, out March 18th.  Frontman Al Tompkins calls the track “a nightmarish-ghostly-witch-crow song”, and with haunting vocals and a wall of sound, that surely works.  My favourite part is actually the first few seconds, which basically sounds like drums that inmates would play if they filed toothbrushes into drumsticks instead of shivs.  (That sounded better in my head than after I wrote it, but what the hell!)

Wrathrone – “Carnal Lust”

Alright sweetheart, let’s wrap this up with some SCANDINAVIAN METAAALLLLLL.  Laitila, Finland’s Wrathrone released their debut Born Beneath last Friday, as well as the video for “Carnal Lust”.  The juxtaposition is hilarious because the video has them goofing around and air banding, but being a death metal act the song is terrifying.  I will never get over guttural vocals…how do these singers not cough up a lung after one verse?  Good on them.   You know what’s goin’ down here, just put your big-rocker pants on and enjoy it.  In fact, enjoy all these tracks why don’tcha.

Scene Specific: Southern California

It’s almost cliche because so many people feel this way, but I would be in my absolute glory in California: great weather, my favourite landscape (desert), lots of high-level sports, Spanish architecture and Mexican food, and an epicentre for skaters and surfers.  Oh, and the bloody music.  From a culture and lifestyle standpoint, California – as the narrator of state-based Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy would say – is the balls, especially SoCal.  So much of this blog’s presentation is indirectly or otherwise influenced by it.  As for this “Scene Specific”, we’re gonna try to cover some artists that aren’t Blink-182, The Offspring, No Doubt, Weezer, Bad Religion, Thirty Seconds to Mars…basically the “no shit, Sherlock” acts.  They’re huge, we know them…I mean we’ll still cover some pretty decent names, but there’s just so much great music in the region that we can really delve beyond the stars.  Whether they’re born and raised or there to “make it”, Southern California rock musicians are aplenty.

Polaris Rose

So we’ll start off with a Los Angeles alt-rock duo that was California dreamin’ and went there to be part of the scene.  Peter Anthony and Madelynn Elyse have two EPs and one full-length – which we reviewed! – and are working on their sophomore effort as we speak.  They’re both great vocalists who share duties, and bring the rock with their instruments.  They also get mad points for incorporating sound bites on their albums, which I’m forever down with.

The Ghost Inside

LA metalcore act The Ghost Inside are signed to city-based Epitaph Records (all the great labels based in SoCal are worth noting, too), and put out their fourth album and first for the label, Dear Youth, last year.  You can also find frontman Jonathan Vigil being a diehard Los Angeles Kings fan.  Lucky bastard has two recent Stanley Cups to celebrate (including one after they came down from 3-0 to knock out my San Jose Sharks, blah).

HeyMike!

This Ventura County punk band features former Yellowcard guitarist Ben Harper, and have been largely inactive since releasing third album Pop & Circumstance in 2011.  They actually did just put that album up on Spotify, Soundcloud and such.  So…there’s that.  Maybe something new this year though?  That’d be cool.

Harbors

Harbors is the indie pop project of Orange County-based David Shayne.  He has a pretty rasp to his voice, and just posted a new demo called “La Brea” (California reference!) that’s a sweet little jam.  Demos have been coming quite a bit actually, as presumably there’s a follow-up to the self-titled 2012 album coming.  He’s also entertaining on Twitter, so give a follow and a listen why don’tcha.

Slightly Stoopid

Let’s go down to San Diego shall we?  “A fusion of folk, rock, reggae and blues with hip-hop, funk, metal and punk” is how this notorious act describe themselves.  You know them for the eclectic sound, and for the…”recreational activities” they enjoy.  Their new album Meanwhile…Back at the Lab is out June 30th and they’re doing the “Everything Is Awesome” tour with the Dirty Heads.  So there ya go.

Guttermouth

Huntington Beach is known as “Surf City, USA” and gives us these long-serving punk goofballs.  They’re working on new material, which is cool because they haven’t put an album out since 2006’s Shave the Planet.  They were once banned from performing in Canada (not anymore) and essentially booted off Warped for insulting the other performers onstage.  They goof, and they punk.  Randomly, “She’s Got The Look” has been in my head lately so you go enjoy that one too.

No Motiv

Oh No Motiv.  You are still together…kind of…and haven’t released a full-length since 2004’s Daylight Breaking…but you don’t announce a breakup because you’re not broken up…kind of.  I really dig these guys: they were part of Vagrant Records’ emo/punk heyday, and by their aforementioned third album had moved on to alternative rock.  The Oxnard quartet are still very musically active outside the band, but I would like to see them back at it together sooner than later.

Face to Face

Inland Empire time!  Victorville natives Face to Face are, in my opinion, the best skate-punk band in the world and one of my favourites period.  They’ve had some mainstream dabbling (“Disconnected” became a breakout song for them after KROQ played it) but have largely been one of the longest-standing, successful underground punk acts.  Their current “Triple Crown” shows – three albums in three nights, in various cities – are something to take in if you can, especially since it’s their first three albums.

Best Coast

Bethany Cosentino and Bobb “Two Bs” Bruno just released their new album California Nights this week.  The singles so far show some diversity, with the title track being an epic, slower, whimsical jam and “Heaven Sent” sounding like nineties alternative.  It’s funny because some people say Best Coast are vapid and do the same thing all the time – although the latter is lyrically, because they actually draw from a lot of influences musically.  They’re the darlings of many though, so…take that (take that!  Take That?).

Sugarcult

We’ll end with a Santa Barbara act, because we haven’t featured one from that area yet and they keep it pretty Californian.  Sugarcult have had lots of success with their brand of alt-rock, including crossover, but have been on hiatus for a few years.  Lights Out was their last record, in 2006, and features “Los Angeles” which is a dark-toned, bass-driven tune that I love.  With songs like “Stuck In America” and album titles like Palm Trees and Power Lines, the band’s suburban, coastal SoCal roots stick out.  Their social media says they’re still paying attention anyway, so hopefully they’ll get back at it with new stuff soon.

We could do multiple editions of “Scene Specific” for Southern California, let alone the rest of the state (a NorCal version will happen eventually too) but you get the idea.  It’s a musically-rich area, especially for the types we cover.  From the artists themselves, to labels like the aforementioned Vagrant and Epitaph, to culture brands like Vans and Hot Topic to media outlets like the aforementioned KROQ, our scene gets a lot from Southern California.

F the traffic though, am I right?

Album Review: Polaris Rose – Telescopes

 After two EPs – 2013’s The Moon & its Secrets and 2014’s OceanSongs – Los Angeles alt-rockers Polaris Rose dropped their debut full-length Telescopes back in November.  The album sees Peter Anthony and Madelynn Elyse exploring indie undertones and largely-harmonic vocals for an interesting sonic ride.

Telescopes
starts right off the bat with two of my favourite songs on it: opener “Perfect View”, which is a delightful jam about moving out to Los Angeles and “Blue”, where the verse vocals are a duet and the instrumental ending brings the tempo down just a touch, and awesomely.  After the title track, things slow down a bit with “Kiss Me, Icarus” and “Radio XYZ”.  “Cityscapes” has one of the album’s most memorable lyrics in “we should live our lives drinking deeply from a glass of ocean waves”, and one of the best musical moments too: you can’t call it a solo really because it’s under vocals, but Anthony does some great guitar work in the bridge.  The guitar in “PonyTail” is almost bluesy, and the track features really cool, urgent vocals in the verses.  “Set Me On Fire” is the album’s slowest song, but not a ballad: the best way to describe it is “crawling”, it has a nice dark tone and some interesting atmosphere. “A Diamond In The Sunset” is another of my favourites, and probably the most overtly indie rock song on the album.  Finally, Telescopes ends with “Oceans Collapse”, which starts with my favourite guitar effect: a pick scrape!  Simple but killer every time.  The chorus features a strumming pattern that mimics the vocals in the line “anywhere you want it”, which I also really like.  Considering how much vocal layering and harmonizing is on the album, that could just be effected singing and I’m an idiot, but let’s stick to that being a cool part of the closing track okay!

As a whole, Telescopes features several clips of astronaut talk which really enhance the album’s theme.  I always love extra production like that.  Another standout from the band period is the vocals of both Peter Anthony and Madelynn Elyse: it’s not like they’re okay singers or one’s good and one’s more a backup, they’re both solid.  Either of them could front a band by them self, and when you couple that with the male/female dynamic it’s a great listen.  The crazy thing is, the album’s been out five months and the band is already working on a follow-up.  No word on whether it’s an EP or full-length, but it’ll apparently be called Ocean Blue, Velvet Skies and is due out in the summer.  That’ll be four releases in two years, so you definitely can’t call Polaris Rose lazy.  They clearly have a strong focus (telescope reference!) and are zoomed in (telescope reference!) on their craft.

Polaris Rose online:

Official
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Track Listing: Tracks To Distract

If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm weather climate, you just watch the news and shake your head when you see a story about a winter storm.  Aren’t you lucky.  The last few weeks have been rough for Atlantic Canada, New England and even the Mid-Atlantic US.  Since TPS is a Northeast-based blog, I understand the suckage first-hand.  The funny thing is, this winter actually was great until the new year, then 2015 turned into Mother Nature going “HAHA TIME TO MAKE UP FOR THAT BITCHES!!!!!”

This edition of “Track Listing” is two-fold: it’s music to distract us from the record-setting hell that’s been winter in 2015, and each of these songs and/or artists have a little something extra that makes them stand out.  You can get lost, dare I say DISTRACTED (it’s in the damn title, after all) in this music.

The Millenium – “Her and Cigarettes”

This pop-rock act from Eau Claire, Wisconsin does “Rest Stop Sessions”, which is them just stopping for a break and recording a tune.  This is a cover, originally done by Lansing, Michigan rockers Cheap Girls.  It’s under two minutes – which is kind of appropriate for something called a rest stop session huh? – and the thing that gets me about The Millenium is their singer: Matt Hasenmueller is a big dude, but has this great falsetto voice that you picture on some skinny dude.  It’s a mesmerizing contrast, and watching him sing is almost a siren-like experience.  The band is spending this month releasing videos from Pine Hollow Sessions, a stripped-back reworking of their EP It’s So Much Friendlier With Two.

Polaris Rose – “Set Me On Fire”

Typically, a guy/girl duo is a little more poppy or folksy.  But much like The Standstills, Los Angeles alt-rockers Polaris Rose would sooner attempt to melt your face.  Peter Anthony and Madelynn Elyse sing this crawling track largely in unison, and it features some sweet guitar work during the final chorus that I can’t quite put my finger on: it might be just picking, but it might be effected too.  Either way, it’s a gooder.  This song’s on their debut full-length Telescopes, which came out in November.

Our Man in Berlin – “Moliere”

Electro indie rock.  That’s what Perth, Australia’s Our Man in Berlin do.  The first single off upcoming sophomore EP Spirit Down, “Moliere” is named after a 17th century French playwright.  The instrumental lead-in to the second verse and the outro provide my favourite moments in the song, with the former being especially ominous and atmospheric.  The band is doing a couple of dates in March for a “Moliere” single tour: the 4th in Melbourne, the 5th in Sydney and the 14th back home in Perth.

Bayside – “Dancing Like An Idiot”

Finally, this one.  Bayside just released this song, that mocks all the artists who they feel sell fake rebellion to fans and improperly influence them.  The lyric video used fonts that the artists in question use, and one funny line is “you’re basically One Direction if they all had throat tattoos”.  Afterwards, an interesting thread on Absolute Punk mentioned some of Bayside’s earlier lyrics, which covered many of what they blast in this song.  Today, the band – through frontman Anthony Raneri, it would appear – addressed that, saying they meant what they said and they understand how people reacted the way they did.  Raneri mentioned how he’s a more mature person than he was a decade ago, and lyrics just come (came?) out without any real filter.  It was a great response, one that didn’t back down but acknowledged how some people felt.  Also, Bayside is headlining their “15 Year Birthday Tour” in North America from March 5th-April 4th, with Senses Fail, Man Overboard and Seaway.  Strong.

Ya see?  Music that offers something that makes you go “huh!” and of course, if you live in the Northeast or anywhere affected by real winter, you took some time to forget that garbage.  Yay!  Winter right!?  Happens every year but still, F it hard.