Monthly Archives: September 2013

New Music: “Dreamers” – Graveyard Lovers

 

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There’s a lot of grit on the latest release from Graveyard Lovers. The Brooklyn trio isn’t afraid to turn up the volume or shred their vocal chords. The band’s dynamics only add to the tension as well. The soft moments are almost too quiet, while the noisier ones beg to be played out on an open car stereo.

Throughout Dreamers, Graveyard Lovers venture from grunge to blues and back again. The opening chords of “From My Window” sound like a My Morning Jacket song if Jim James had decided take a walk through a dark forest.  “Love and Hunger” alternates between heavy riffs and melodic breaks. “You and Me” seems to conjure up ghosts of the Delta with its sparse chords and singer Zack Reynold’s tortured vocals.

Dreamers is the kind of album that makes you believe that rock and roll and American music still matter and are still a force to be reckoned with. For kids in the 70’s it was the Stones who embodied the blues in rock and roll. A decade ago it was the White Stripes.  For the 2010’s it could very well be Graveyard Lovers.

Check out “Love and Hunger” below:

Dreamers is currently available on Itunes as well as the band’s website.

 

New Music Preview: “Bohemia” – Von Shakes

 

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Over the past decade, it seems there has been a great divide over popular music in the UK vs. America. Alternative music in the US has gone down the rabbit hole of dance music and 80s inspired beats while the UK has continued its tradition of producing aggressive yet melodic bands.  It’s from this world that Ireland’s Von Shakes emerge.

Bohemia is the group’s first full-length. Guitars and drums burst at the seams, but never overshadow the melancholic delivery of frontman Patrick Brazel’s vocals. Post-punk is the name of the game on Bohemia and it suits the group well. The songs are tightly constructed, leaving little room for excess. In fact, most of the songs fly along at breakneck speed (“Your Own Holiday” for instance clocks in at under 2 minutes).  The group is at its most surprising though when it slows things down. Closing song “Away From Here” starts out with a lone guitar before building to a crescendo.

Bohemia is a stunning debut from a band that will surely have plenty of surprises down the road.

Bohemia will be released on Nov. 19th.

www.vonshakes.com

Check out “Robinson Crusoe” below.

Exclusive Interview with The Broadcast

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Last week, I previewed The Broadcast’s upcoming release Dodge the Arrow.  If you’re a fan of 70s style-rock with some soul mixed in, do yourself a favor and check them out.  Leading Us Absurd recently checked in with the band to get their thoughts behind their music.

Dodge the Arrow sounds pretty accomplished. – but you’ve only been around since 2010.  The musicianship throughout the set is very tight.  Did anyone of you know each other before forming the band?

All of us met by way of the band- Tyler and Caitlin met briefly in 2008 but started making music almost immediately after being introduced. Through living in NYC we scooped up Rich and Michael and after moving down to Asheville we added Aaron and Matt.

Your first EP Days Like Dreams was released as a sort of “feeler” for the live 
community.   What originated that experiment and what was the end result?  Was it positive or negative?

Before we moved down to Asheville Caitlin really wanted to record “Loving You” and “Say Goodbye”. All of our contacts at that point were in NYC so we wanted to make sure we had all our ducks in a row moving down to NC. To be honest, we never really used Days like Dreams – after moving to Asheville and really started to discover our unique sound as a band, we recorded a live album to sell on the road.

Speaking of live shows, that seems to be the band’s bread and butter.  Dodge the Arrow seems to capture that mood.  What goes through your mind during a Broadcast Show?

The Broadcast’s live shows are powerful. That’s always a word that comes to mind. Powerful and authentic both musically and emotionally.

When I first listened to Dodge the Arrow it reminded me a little bit of Big Brother & the Holding Company – great female singer with a kicking band to match.  Do you think that the music world needs more of that style and do you see yourselves as a kind of filling a void?

Absolutely. We have played hundreds of shows across the country the last few years and it’s seldom that we run into a female fronted rock band. In fact, we don’t think we’ve ever met one. It’s important that women and men have the opportunity to witness a female onstage really getting into the grit and power of rock & roll.

Since you guys are known for your live shows, do you approach songwriting in a similar fashion?

We always try to stay conscious about writing songs that will create a certain ambiance and vibe in a live setting. Our song writing method is very natural and tends to come from experiences that we have in our own lives.
Now that Dodge the Arrow is about to  come out, have you started thinking ahead for a follow-up?

Being sensitive to how fast the world moves today we want to stay prolific in our writing- we’ve already got half a record’s worth of new material for the follow up and are already in discussions for a Winter 2014 EP release.

Dodge the Arrow will be released on September 24th.

Exclusive Interview With Whale Belly

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A few weeks back, I posted the video for Whale Belly’s “Water Voices”.  The Brooklyn group has been dubbed as “sophisticated folk rock” and has generated a lot of buzz based on their lives performances.  Their sophomore album I Once Was a Bird will be released October 8th.  I recently checked in singer Todd Bogin.  Check out the exclusive interview below.

Your new album, I Once Was a Bird comes out pretty soon.  Let’s talk a little bit about the making of it.

This album was all about figuring out a concept and what we wanted to convey then very intently and painstakingly making it that. We wanted a very clean and clear record that had many musical changes and beautiful parts but never overdone. I am proud of our debut album but one criticism I have is there’s too much going on and much of that is not necessary to the song. We also wanted to create a world with a concept that plays through this whole album. Earth, water, feeling like you want to escape or that you are being overtaken by some greater force. Lyrics repeat themselves between different songs and so do musical phrases. we also references other song on the album in different songs. This record to me is like a mixture of old classic american song book meets a touch of folk and rock it a slight feel of classical edge. it was recorded at Saltlands in Brooklyn. Nick Smeraski our drummer produced and engineered it all. Only the 4 people played on this record. Our debut had 23 people playing on it. After writing for about a year and playing many of the songs live on tour, we had a very clear idea on how we wanted to play them on the recording. we pretty much recorded all the backing tracks, drums, bass, rhythm guitar, piano and violin in 2 days, live together. Everything else was overdubbed over a few months. all of the vocals were layered mostly at Nick’s apartment and it is all my voices. He was adamant on me exploring and expanding my voice on this record. I feel like this is a very tight, well performed and calculated record and I am proud of it. I also tried to write from a more interpersonal level. The first album has a few joke songs or songs about outside forces that have affected me, this record I tried to write about my own struggles and how it is now up to me to deal with them.

Folk-rock seems to have exploded in the last few years with the rise of Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers.  Why do you think that’s it gotten so popular and what do you get out of making this type of music?

I really don’t think we are exactly folk rock nor sound anything like those bands. We never sing about the devil or the river or dress like its Civil War time. We also change times and keys and have a element of jazz and improv to us. That being said, I do see why people would claim us as folk, even though we don’t claim ourselves a folk band. But I do believe folk music will always be popular and have its revivals. There is always a need for simplicity. Whenever things get too crazy or experimental, people will always hit a wall and want to hear three chords on an acoustic and a few voices harmonizing together. It feels earthy and natural and easy to consume. That sort of stuff also attracts to people’s sense of spirituality and soul and I believe hearing natural instruments vibes with the blood flow and movements of people. I do feel though, that although folk is timeless, many of those time tested tricks and glitches are pretty much recycled over and over again. we try not to do that, we try to hint at them then when you think you have the song figured out we change it up.

 You guys are known for your live shows and have received quite a few accolades for it.  What makes a great Whale Belly show?

We started off not sure what were as a band. We had like 10 people on stage singing along and playing random instruments, no matter how sloppy. That was fun and we were able to entertain based solely on the energy we could throw onto the crowd. I got really sick of that fast though. It wasn’t playing music, it was just making out of synch noise and trying to win a victory on trickery. So before we recorded the new record, we got rid of a lot of wasted space and stripped us down to a 4 piece (were now a 5 piece). I started listening to a lot of classical movements and pieces and I began to really love the idea of a live show being a classical indie music piece, if you will. So like instead of playing a song, then stopping to blabber on to the crowd about something pointless, we bent and moved our songs into either short snippets of sounds or various improvised moments that would lead into the next tune.  We have over the past year been able to successfully do that even though we have a lot of work to do to perfect that. So Our live show now is a musical piece, or an attempt of that. We have a lot of improvising that happens and a lot of energy we try to give off. Were not going to ask the crowd to clap their hands or ask them how they are doing then go ‘I can’t hear youuuuuuu’ like some jackass. Were going to give them a long piece of music performed the best we can and the tightest we can.

You guys seem to have more in common with older folk acts than a lot of newer ones.  Who are your main influences?

I do agree with that. My personal biggest influences are everything from Miles Davis to Cole Porter. Of course Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Neil Young. I also was a Modest Mouse kid in high school, and I still listen to them a lot. I know it is easy to say this but I’m influenced by everything. I will listen to anything from Top 40 to the most underground descendant music and find something inspiring or influential with it. but at this point in my life, I am definitely not trying to be anyone or mimic anyone. I am trying to suck in and absorb all forms of sounds, from the subway tracks clicking when a train arrives to the hum of traffic to a perfectly played Liszt piano piece. And hope that all of that comes out of me when I write.

One of the band’s trademarks is the violin. I know you’ve been playing it since you were 9, how did you get into the violin?

Josh Henderson plays all the violins and does their arrangements amongst other things. He has been playing since he was about 3 years old, and he is a genius. He is a huge part of the band’s sound and the composer of some of the most beautiful moments on our records. Him and I have been playing together in various projects for almost 5 years now. He has really affected the sound of our band in the best way possible and helps make our live show what it is. On top of that he makes me think differently about music and opens up non traditional ideas to me.

New Music: “Sun Will Rise” – Animal Years

 

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On Sun Will Rise, Animal Years seem to be searching. Main songwriter Mike McFadden even admits so on the album’s first cut “Meet Me”.  “It may seem like I’m running,” He admits.  “But I’m just trying to find me.”

If McFadden doesn’t know himself, he wants to bring the listener along. Like U2 and Bruce Springsteen – musicians who excel at the “musical quest” – McFadden knows that the best kind of therapy for uneasiness is and restlessness is music.  With that in mind, Sun Will Rise offers plenty of ready-made songs perfect for the road trip where the destination hardly matters.

And what a trip Animal Years take you on. “Meet Me” starts things off in the vein of Ryan Adams circa 2003 (when he thought he was a rocker) while “Worried Mind” ends the set in a slow burn.  In between, Animal Years veer off into alt-country (the title track), arena-ready anthems packed with reverb guitars and booming drums (“Forget What They’re Telling You”) and gorgeous harmonies (“Rapture” & “Let Go of Your Head”).

The sense of adventure is what makes Sun Will Rise such a great listen. Sometimes you just want to drive away without caring where you end up. If you do decide to do that anytime soon, put Sun Will Rise on as your soundtrack.

Sun Will Rise will Be Released on September 17.

New Music: “Crash Course” – Young Lyons

 

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When I was younger, alternative bands used to cloak their melodies in distorted guitars and howling vocals. 20 years later, the pendulum has swung.  Tulsa’s Young Lyons fit are a perfect example of this new breed of alternative band that aren’t afraid to focus on melody. Crash Course, their debut EP is full of songs that get stuck in your head.  Still, they manage this sound their own, throwing a few surprises into a genre that is dominating the alt-rock world.

For instance, the second track, “Kill” starts off in normal electro-rock territory, but veers off into a Pet Sounds like break-down before ending in a ’80s metal crunch.  “Girlfriend’s Got Me Down” is a low-key acoustic lament.  It’s unexpected it in its nakedness – a nice contrast to the layers that surround the rest of the album.

Crash Course is a good introduction to a band that will hopefully follow similar acts up the alternative charts.

Check out “My Own Town” below:

Crash Course is out now.

http://younglyonsmusic.com

 

 

New Music: “Dodge The Arrow” – The Broadcast

 

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“I just want to dance all night,” The Broadcast Caitlin Krisko sings on “Cathy”.  Krisko sings it with such conviction and power, you get the feeling that dancing isn’t something you do for fun: it’s a form of liberation and community.

With a mix of soul, blues and classic rock arrangements, The Broadcast’s song on Dodge the Arrow beg to be played in front of an audience. It’s little wonder why the group have received accolades for their lives performances. Opener “The Line” begins with a loud crash, before sliding into a bluesy groove, which leaves plenty of room for singer Caitlin Prisko to show off her powerhouse vocals. Krisko is one hell of singer – her Joplin-like pipes are reason enough to listen to this record – but she wisely follows the band’s cue: never overshadowing the stellar musicianship. When the band is on all cylinders she more than steps up.  But on the slower moments, she let the song breathe.  The band in turn follows her lead. “Hide Yourself Away” is a perfect example: where Rich Brownstein’s keys and Prisko’s vocals swing back and forth between each other.

It would be easy to suggest that Dodge the Arrow wears its influences on its sleeve.  And certainly the band looks back more musically than it does ahead. But not every group needs to be groundbreaking to be great.  The Broadcast are a case in point. The music they make together makes you want to be part of their community.

Dodge the Arrow will be released on September 24th.   Check out the video for “Don’t Waste It” below:

www.thebroadcastmusic.com