Feature: “City Country” – Spinn




Country act Spinn takes a lot of their cues from the Dixie Chicks on their latest EP, City Country. It’s a record with a country heart that infuses rock elements meant for a large crowd. Interestingly, this female trio aren’t from the South, but that doesn’t stop them from embracing Country music or a Southern flair.

In fact, on City Country they take it as challenge to prove how bad-ass they can be.  On the title buoyant track they brag about “drinking whiskey boys under the table” and “rocking cowboy boots”.  They fully embrace time-honored country tradition of story telling on “The Bank Robbery Song” where they walk up to “the bank door and [blow] that sucker down”.

Of course none of that would matter, if Spinn didn’t have songs or the sound to back up their claims. Their luscious harmonies are the focal point of City Country and elevate the slower songs such as “So Hurtful” and the acoustic lament “Goodbye Missouri”.

There are those that might think that Spinn’s Nothern origins are a gimmick, but on City Country they more than prove that country isn’t just a Southern Charm.

Take a listen to “The Bank Robbery Song’ below:

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Review: “Revolt” – The Unraveling



Industrial hard-rockers The Unraveling recently released their latest single, “Revolt”.  This latest song from The Unraveling comes after a health crisis for the band. After the release of their last album, 13 Arcane Hymns, lead singer Steve Moore was diagnosed with cancer. Luckily, Moore has since recovered and The Unraveling have returned with a scorching new song in the form of “Revolt”.

“Revolt” is special to the band for a variety of reasons. As Moore himself explained about the song’s origins: “The lyrics to ‘Revolt’ convey a rejection of the false and a need for inner change. This is an inner revolt that we are talking about.”  Those worried that Moore’s health scare have softened the band’s attack or his outlook need not worry. “Revolt” is a nearly five-minute attack over angular guitar riffs, industrial beats and Moore’s distorted vocals. The band’s approach is perfect for Moore’s current outlook of society: that revolution must start within first. No more is this clear when he declares that, “revolt is the kindling that must burn your mind.”

Take a listen to “Revolt” here.

For more info on The Unraveling, check out their Facebook page here.

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New Music: “Psycho Dreamer” – StickyBackPlastics



England’s Stickybackplastics’ “Psycho Dreamer” wouldn’t sound that out of place if it had been released in 1995. There’s a grunge-element to the song, but the crunchy and slow rhythms recalls the darkness of mid-90’s Nine Inch Nails. The mid-tempo pace along with the ghostly vocals from lead singer Heather Niven make for a haunting combination.  If the song weren’t sonically scary enough (in a good way), there’s the chorus where Nixen declares, “I’ll kill you in my dreams.”

“Psycho Dreamer” can be found on the band’s latest release, Reptile which is the follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut.  For more information on Stickybackplastics, visit their web-site and listen to “Psycho Dreamer” below:


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New Music: “Wrong Guy” – Kin Cayo



A while back, I featured Kin Cayo’s fantastic “Our Ship”.  Equally as impressive is the band’s latest single, “Wrong Guy”.  Like “Our Ship”, the song combines an indie-rock sensibility with Caribbean-influenced guitars and rhythms.  The band’s intricate harmonies on the chorus are also a highlight.  If you’re looking for a new indie rock band with an original sound, check out Kin Cayo.

Listen to “Wrong Guy” below:



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New Music: “The Elusive Yes” – Ryan Hobler



Ryan Hobler must have spent his formative years listening to Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Elton John and Beach Boys records.  His latest album, The Elusive Yes is a direct link to these songwriters with its bouncy pianos, catchy melodies and fully formed arrangements. If didn’t know better you would tend to think that The Elusive Yes could be made anytime between 1972 and 1976: a time when serious singer songwriters weren’t afraid to embrace their a bit of pop in their craft.

The remarkable thing about the Elusive Yes, is Hobler’s ability to take his obvious influences and forge his own identity. Like many great songwriters, Hobler uses the music to disguise various flaws, self-doubt and broken relationships. For the most part, the arrangements and catchy songs on The Elusive Yes go against what Hobler is singing about.  The bounciness of “Got a Ways to Go” is underscored by loneliness when Hobler wonders whether he was “tossed aside and left to die…Perhaps it’s Judgement Day” and he’s been left behind. “All Along” sounds incredibly sweet, until you realize that Hobler is attempting to connect to his deceased grandfather through a dream.

Musically, Hobler doesn’t stray too far from his idols, but occasionally he adds enough subtleties to keep things interesting.  There’s a bit of a soul groove in “I Have Love, I Have You” and some bar-band fun in the rockabilly “Bob Vs. Jack Vs. the World”.  The album ends with the down-right gorgeous, country-influenced “The Boulder & the Glass House”.

What’s interesting about The Elusive Yes, is that despite its hat-tipping to the early 70’s, in today’s musical climate it sounds remarkable fresh and in some ways unique. As the saying goes, what’s old is new again.

For more info on Ryan Hobler, check out his web-site, here and check out “What I’ve Done”.

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New Music: “When I Come Home” – Sarah McGowan



Sarah McGowan’s “When I Come Home” is the perfect song to listen with the warm weather of Spring right around the corner. Based around a sparse rhythm of acoustic guitars and soft drums, “When I Come Home” perfectly captures the feeling of an impromptu jam that gives McGowan plenty of space to lay down her soaring vocals. The song is a combination of folk-pop, surf-rock with a tinge of country underneath. The result sounds totally organic and the kind of song you could listen to on repeat without getting tired of it.

“When I Come Home” can be found on McGowan’s debut EP, Indian Summer which is available now.

Check out “When I Come Home” below:

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New Music: “Gasoline” – The Local Strangers



Indie-Folk act The Local Strangers have released the latest single, “Gasoline” from their two-disc LP, Take What You Can Carry.  “Gasoline” is anchored by the  vocal harmonies over  from founding members Aubrey Zoli and Matt Hart.  The song begins with two intertwining electric guitars, each projecting a soft and melodic palette, that gives Zoli and Hart plenty of room to soar over once the drums kick in.  Things kick up during the bridge, with a brief and distorted solo, before the duo return to the chorus where they proclaim, “You already forgave me, Got a heart full of gasoline”.

Take What You Can Carry is the sophomore album by The Local Strangers, which is released in two distinct and different versions. The first version features their killer band in the studio, while the other finds the duo in a more intimate approach with just acoustic guitars and their voices.  To promote the album, The Local Strangers will be engaging in a unique string of live dates this April, showcasing the acoustic side of the album, which they have dubbed “The Living Room Tour”.  Fans who RSVP via their web-site will be given a disclosed location for each “Living Room”.

Check out “Gasoline” below:



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Feature: “In A Starry State” – The Great Depression



After eight years apart, The Great Depression have returned and released their latest album, In A Starry State. The result is an ambitious piece of work that is both atmospheric and anthemic. There are shades of Coldplay-esque melodies over textured and layered guitars, piano and rhythms. There’s a cinematic quality to the music – which shouldn’t come as a surprise – as the album follows a science fiction narrative about a young girl in a parallel universe who goes on a quest for ancient wisdom.

Most of the songs on In A Starry State are mid-tempo numbers that rely on piano and synthesizers. This is big music, and the songs are arranged as such: choruses that soar and sweep. Each song is  played with a grand gesture, designed in part to take the audience on a journey. Like many concept albums – the narrative is an after-thought – the music itself is designed as a journey for both the audience and the band.

In A Starry State is as its best when The Great Depression breaks free and lets loose a bit.  The fast-paced “Hey Easy Go (Serpentine)” manages to rock while maintaining the album’s trade-mark atmospherics. With the album’s sci-fi narrative in place, it’s not hard to imagine this song as a musical trip across the stars. Meanwhile, “New Salem” contains a complex rhythm, and the double-tracked vocals create an eerie feeling.

As a listening experience, In A Starry State works the most when listened to as a full album. These aren’t songs that are meant to be listened to individually, but rather as a collective unit. In an era when the focus seems to be on one particular song, it’s nice to see bands who still feel the album as a vital piece of art.

Check out “Hey Easy Go (Serpentine)” below:

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New Video: “Take Off the Edge” – Black Taxi


New York rockers Black Taxi have recently released the video for their latest single, “Take Off the Edge”.  The which directed by Carlos López Estrada contains some quirky animation over live action footage. Musically, the song is a blast of upbeat dance-punk with an infectious and sing-along chorus.

“Take Off the Edge” can be found on the group’s latest album, Electroshock Death Grip.  Black Taxi have established themselves as one of NYC’s most exciting live bands.  For more info on the group, head on over to their web-site and check out “Take Off the Edge” below.

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Feature: “Say Somethin'” (EP) – Nik West



Funk/rock bassist Nik West has rightfully received numerous accolades from high-profile artists such as Steven Tyler, Prince and former Eurythmics mastermind, Dave Stewart.  One listen to her latest EP, the ridiculously funky Say Somethin’and it’s easy to understand why West has garnered such praise.

Say Somethin’ plays like an updated version of late 70’s Soul Classics. It rocks as just equally as it swings. Its filled with thick, melodic bass lines, distorted guitars and drum beats that move the music along.  This is particularly true of the title track which starts thing off with a bang with its explosive groove and catchy chorus. There are shades of early ’80s Prince, as well as Lenny Kravitz but make no mistake, this is no Name-That-Influence set of songs.  Even the covers (AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and Rudy Toomb’s “I’m Shakin'”) are beaming with originality and spark.

If you’re a fan of impressive bass playing, Say Somethin’offers plenty of that. West knows when to lock in with the drummer and provide the backbone of her great rhythm section.  But she’s also not one to shy away from showing off her impressive chops as evident on her  slow and seductive cover of “I’m Shakin'” or “My Relationship (Reprise)”.  Not surprisingly, West has been featured on the cover of several bass magazines including Bass Musician Magazine and Bass Player.

For more information on Nik West, visit her web-site.  Take a listen to “My Relationship” below.


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