New Music: “I|L|Y” – Mount Zion

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By taking part in Christian Summer camps in their youth, Synth-Pop duo Mount Zion take a different approach to the genre by infusing some spirituality into their lyrics. Mount Zion is composed of Joshua Catalan (vocals, keys, percussion, guitar) and Cole Ossenmacher (keys percussion) and will be releasing an EP later in August.

In the meantime, check out the icy layers and sparse beats of “I|C|Y”. Take a listen below.

New Music: “Strays in the Cut” (EP) – Anna Rose

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Strays in the Cut, the latest release from singer-songwriter Anna Rose, expands on the bluesy sound of her previous release, Behold a Pale Horse. Strays showcases a dirtier, grittier side of Rose. The songs collected here rock harder and dig deeper. Even the slower songs pack an emotional wallop that was only hinted at on her previous work.

Opener “Force of Nature” kicks things off with blistering fuzz licks from Rose. “Nothing’s ever gonna stop me,” Rose snarls in a defiant tone. It’s a voice that you can believe. In the chorus she says she was born a force of nature, and the music behind her backs up her claim: it sounds like an impending storm and you’d better watch out.  “Under Your Skin” is another rocker, that sounds finds Rose channeling her inner bad-ass bar-band blues singer. The rhythm section gallops along at uneasy pace before letting loose so Rose can spit out a fiery guitar solo.

The slow-burn of “Start a War” is perhaps of the set’s highlights. Backed by soft drums and ethereal guitars, the song perfectly captures Rose’s tender vocals. No doubt that Rose is a rocker at hear, but she hits hardest when she dials in back and basks in the glory in the sound she’s made.

Strays in the Cut is available now. For more info on Rose and tour dates, check out her web-site.

New Music: “Younger Days” (EP) – Bronco Simmons

 

12828967_1136687693030327_7040733066526017224_oOn their debut  EP Younger Days, the Texas Alt-rock band Bronco Simmons recalls the heyday of 90’s Alt-Rock. The songs on Younger Days rock out, but never veer into faster paced territory. Instead, they move along at an unhurried pace that give the band plenty of room to showcase the dexterity of their playing whether it’s the anchoring bass of Dom Garcia (who really shines on the EP) or the interplay between guitarists Jorge Hinojosa and Brendan Freeman. As a lead singer Hinojosa lets the music move around him, rather than push himself upfront, making the band’s choruses seem effortless rather than forced.

Highlights include the slow-burn of “Away She Goes” and the rollicking “Heavy Chandeliers”.  For more info on Bronco Simmons, take a visit to their Facebook page.

Take a listen to “Heavy Chandeliers” below.

New Music: “Heroes” AMFM

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“The West Coast faded, New York’s jaded,” AMFM lead singer David Caruso croons in the middle of his band’s latest single, “Heroes”. The mid-tempo electronically tinged alt-rock number captures the feeling of getting older and realizing that the heroes you held when you were younger don’t always live up to your expectations. The music is a mix of shimmering guitars in the background that contrast with a more jagged rhythm upfront, suggesting the mixed feelings of lost innocence and disappointment in impending adulthood.

“Heroes” can be found on the group’s upcoming EP, due out later this year.  For more info on AMFM, check out the group’s web-site.

 

Song of the Day: “Fell In Love With a Girl” – The White Stripes

An explosive song that clocks in at just under two minutes, “Fell In Love With a Girl” just might be the coolest song to be released this century. Everything about the song – its violent riff, Meg White’s anarchic drumming, Jack White’s insane “ahhhhh-ahhhh-ahhhhh-ah!” screams – blasts out of the speakers and pummels everything in its path.

“Fell In Love With a Girl” just might be the best thing Jack White ever recorded in illustrious career. Inside those chaotic two minutes is a culmination of rock itself: blues chord progressions played at Zeppelin-esque volume; the DIY ethos of garage-rock and punk; the unbridled energy of The Who and the fierce attack of The Stooges; the power-pop sensibility of The Beatles.

A lot was made of the garage-rock revival at the beginning of the century. Some bands were really good (see The Strokes’ Is This It), others I thought were decent at the time but eventually realized were terrible (see The Vines) and some were fashion statements with instruments (The Hives). And  then there were the ones whose music you heard before back when they were called Joy Division. (Interpol, I’m looking at you.)

But The White Stripes established themselves above the rest with one single swoop. Whereas other bands felt like they were trying too had, “Fell In Love With a Girl” seemed spontaneous and off the cuff. (For the record, I do think Jack White does try too hard sometimes. Remember Get Behind Me Satan?)

The rest of White Blood Cells didn’t reach the height of “Fell In Love With a Girl”. The rest of the songs found on the album were very strong, but “Fell In Love with a Girl” was and too intense and too badass to be pushed by the wayside. The only way for White to eclipse or circumvent the song’s power was to create something more repetitive and simple sounding and double-down on it. “Seven Nation Army” might be on its way to becoming the most famous guitar riff of all time, if thousands of sports fans have their way.

But I’ll never get tired of hearing “Fell In Love With a Girl” in all its glory. To quote Bob Dylan, “Play fuckin’ loud.”

 

Song of the Day: “Let It Ride” – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

Ryan Adams was on quite a roll in 2005. He released brilliant two albums (Cold RosesJacksonville City Nights) and one was pretty good one (29). Always one to confound expectations, Ryan went even further and made Cold Roses a double-album.

Coming off the heels of the sullen and mopey Love is Hell and the rocking (but record company demanded) Rock N’ Roll, the 2005 albums find Adams at a creative peak that many artists could only aspire to have. Each individual album is rooted in the Alt-Country that Adams is known for, but with a distinct flavor. Jacksonville City Nights is the late-night, roots album: the one where you down a bottle whiskey to mend a broken heart. 29 is the introspective album. And Cold Roses – the best of the lot – is the one where Adams channels both the Working Man’s Dead-era Grateful Dead and the ghost of Gram Parsons.

Needless to say, it’s a lot to take in (but that’s pretty par for the course with Adams). The highlight of Cold Roses, is the swinging lap-steel driven “Let It Ride”. Adams’ backing band at the time, the Cardinals provide him with a backdrop that lies somewhere between uplifting and melancholy. The song feels like that moment in the night when dawn is right around the corner, but the events of the night are still fresh in your mouth.

Adams’ drunken-fool narrator, desperately trying to make sense of his mistakes without quite owning up to them, suits this musical landscape perfectly. “I was at the bar til three. Oh lord, I wasn’t ready to go,” He laments. Later, when trying to woo a girl, he realizes that he still has his car keys, but can’t find his car. “Let it it ride,” He sings at the end of the song. “Let it rock me in the arms of stranger’s angels until it brings me home.”

Adams would never quite be this prolific again, and it’s not surprising. Though he did release a set of out-takes from this era entitled III/IV which is a kind of a cross between Cold Roses and Rock N’ Roll, which is definitely worth checking out.

New Music: “The Girls I Wish I Never Knew” – Heroin Girls

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The lo-fi assault of Heroin Girls’ latest single, “The Girls I Wish I Never Knew” comes blasting out of the speakers. The distorted guitars are mixed so loudly that singer and mastermind Billy Bulger’s casual sneer can barely be heard above the cacophony. But that attitude makes the song all the more appealing, since it’s the attitude and provocativeness that drives the song. And “The Girls I Wish I Never Know” has plenty of that to go around.

“The Girls I Wish I Never Knew” can be found on the group’s forthcoming LP, Introducing the Heroin Girls. For more information, check out the group’s web-site.

Song of the Day: “D’yer Mak’er” – Led Zeppelin

It’s pretty well established that I have a tumultuous relationship with Led Zeppelin. Besides their songs and sound, I also dislike what they represent: the advent of corporate rock, bloated blues-rock  and meandering half-hour versions of well-known songs.

Now that that’s out of the way, there are a few songs I actually do like, the reggae-influenced number “D’yer Mak’er” chief among them. The reason I like it so much, is because it doesn’t sound like the typical Led Zeppelin song. Jimmy Page’s repetitive riff here is slightly sleazy. John Bonham’s booming drums are a little louder than most reggae numbers, but he still manages to capture the sound and feeling of the reggae beat. Robert Plant is in fine form here as well, and the song’s relaxed feel gives him plenty of room to improvise (particularly lots of  “oh’s” and “ah’s”).

I’ve always referred to the song in its correct pronunciation (more akin to Jamaica), which always leads to some confusion: “Oh you mean Dire Maker? Yeah that one’s good.”

Either way, “D’yer Mak’er” is one of those songs that sounds best on a warm summer day with the windows down.

New Music: “State I’m In” – Brandyn Burnette

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“We’re walking together, to a better place,” sings Bradyn Burnette in a crooning voice over electronic drums and synthesizers. “State I’m In” is an atmospheric pop song that showcases Burnette’s soul-influenced vocals. The icy and robotic sounds in the background are a direct contrast to Burnette’s heartfelt and honest vocals. Even when his vocals are filtered and processed at one point, there’s a directness to his singing that feel tangible and relatable.

Describing the song, Burnette states, “I went home over the holidays and found old lyrics I started writing around 2006. Surprisingly enough, it was titled the same exact way as a song I was working on at the time. In that moment, I picked up my first guitar that I ever owned, and started playing. I stepped back into my younger self and remembered exactly how to sing what I had written 10 years ago. It was like the flow of the second verse and chorus were laying dormant in my soul until that very moment when I combined both my ideas from the past, with my ideas from the present.”

“Stare I’m In” follows the “Karma” and is included on the forthcoming State I’m In EP which is due out on June 24.  Check it out below and check out his web-site for more info.

New Music: “Cave Museum” – Goldfeather

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Minnesota’s Goldfeather offer up the banjo-driven “Cave Museum” as the first single from their upcoming LP, Patchwork Quilt. The single captures the feeling of a late night campfire side jam. Over fast-paced banjo riff and Depression-era sounding violin, singer Sarah Goldfeather lets her sultry and dreamy voice glide like a watery stream. Clearly, the song is fully formed and arranged, but you get the idea that it could have been made up on the spot, reveling in its own performance and feeling.

Goldfeather is made up of members Sarah Goldfeather (vocals, violin), Dylan Mckinstry (vocals, mandolin, banjo), Katie Martucci (vocals, guitar), Nathan Koci (vocals, accordion, banjo) and Pat Swoboda (double bass).

Patchwork Quilt will be released in September 2016. In the meantime, check out the band’s web-site for more details, music videos and song clips.