Tag Archives: indie bands

Exclusive Interview with Philly’s Chris Paterno Band


Band Photo_PhotoCred Tim Lee

Philadelphia’s The Chris Paterno Band is just beginning to hit their stride. The six-piece soul-influenced band stretches itself out on stage, creating a euphoric experience for the audience. Formed in 2015, the band will release their debut EP, The Chris Paterno Band in August. The band has gathered praise along the way, including The Gavel which proclaimed that their “music is more than just singing words and playing a guitar‐‐it’s a vivid, mind‐seizing experience”.  Check out the exclusive Q&A below for some insights into the band’s origins and their plans for the summer.

Your music has quite a bit of a soul influence in it. Did any of Philadelphia’s musical history fit into your sound?

Definitely. I like to think that you can hear the Philly Soul roots in our music – The Sound of Philadelphia, The O’Jays, Patti Labelle. Acts like those knew how to evoke emotion, they knew how to be real and they knew how to get a little funky. We try to emulate those artists, while also bringing in some novel sounds/techniques to give our style a modern touch. Its hard not to be influenced by Philadelphia in general – the streets are always filled with characters and the Philly music scene is growing everyday. Its an amazing time to be a Philly musician. Working with a Philly legend like Joe Nicolo doesn’t hurt either!

The first official gig was the pre‐match bloc party at the Villanova Pavilion in front of…2000 people? And this was before the band was even official, correct? 

Yes! It was a surreal moment playing in front of a crowd that large after only 4 practices with new musicians. But, I was able to bring in a lot of great talent and we really had fun with it. After that, we realized we weren’t too shabby so we decided to stick together and see what would happen. The next show we played (less than a month later), our mandolin player, Adam Monaco, brought Joe Nicolo. He offered us a deal to cut our debut EP right after our set. That was an amazing moment that I will never forget.

 When did you realize that you guys might have a chemistry between you that you could really sink your teeth into? 

I think we really started to groove in the early months of 2016. We brought in a few new members – Frank Rein (trombone) and Mark Hightower (bass) – that really filled out our sound. Frank writes these incredible horn lines that just take our sound to the next level and I really started to find my voice, mature as a writer and as an instrumentalist. We haven’t played a show in a while because we’ve been working hard in the studio, but I cannot wait to take the stage again and show everyone what we are working with. The guys in the group are killer.

Do you take a different approach to your live shows than you would with the studio? 

Definitely. In the studio, we take things slowly and really think things through. On stage, we’re just goofy. I’m dancing around like a mad man, horns blaring, just having a fun time letting the music take over. Our horns (Mike Clark and Frank Rein) are trading solos with our mandolin player (Adam Monaco) and our bassist (Mark Hightower) and we are all locked into the now. We just let whatever we’re feeling take the stage. No two performances are ever the same and that’s what makes playing so fun.

Let’s talk a bit about your single, “Unfaithful”. What was the genesis of the song? 

The chord progression for “Unfaithful” defines my playing style – percussive, and full of odd voicings. I wrote this song about a year and a half ago during a time where everything around me was falling apart – friendships were fading, a long relationship had recently ended, and my family life was struggling – I felt lost and angry. At the same time, I was looking around, observing the culture that is a college campus and seeing and hearing all these stories about infidelity and trust issues. I could see the connection between myself- feeling like so many bridges had been burnt down, losing faith in my friends, family and myself – and the term “Unfaithful.” The bridge repeats the phrase “All we built, burn it down.” That sentence really sums up that time of my life.

I see you have a few shows coming up. Any big plans for the Chris Paterno Band this summer besides the ones listed? 

We’ve got a lot of shows, as you mentioned, that we are excited about including a few dates at MilkBoy Philly (5/28, 7/7) Connie’s Ric Rac in Philly (6/16) and a single-release show at Bourbon and Branch in Philly on 7/21. We’re also talking to a few festival organizers right now! More details on that to come. We’ve also got to release the rest of our self-titled debut EP, which we’re super-excited to share it. Its gotten great reviews from our moms so high expectations from the band.

New Music: “Sky” – Sweet Cambodia


Florida’s Sweet Cambodia brings the warm vibe of The Sunshine State to their newest single, “Sky”.  The funky track is full of a collage of musical sounds: slap-bass, guitars that alternate between psychedelic pop and reggae and rock beats. The musical interplay between the band members is a thing of beauty: its the sound of a group who not only plays well together but also listens to each other.

“Sky” can be found on the band’s Tasty EP. Check out their Facebook page for additional info and shows and listen to “Sky” below.


New Music: “So Broken” – Wise Girl



Wise Girl’s “So Broken” is a gem of a power-pop song. It’s catchy, but with an edge.  “So Broken” recalls late ’70s early ’80s rock-pop songs in its delivery and attack. The guitars are buzzing but never overbearing.  Singer Abby Weitz’ vocal delivery walks a fine somewhere between apathy and sympathy.

“So Broken” can be found on Wise Girl’s debut full-length You’ll Just Have to Wait out now.  For more info on the band, check out their web-site.

Listen to “So Broken”:

Exclusive Interview With Whale Belly


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: “Fresh Lemonade” – Broken Anchor



For every punk band that uses the Ramones as a template, there’s always going to another rock artist who uses After the Goldrush as his.  Using ’70s Neil Young is a good place to start: he’s an idol for both the big-time bands and indie-rockers.  Broken Anchor are clearly an indie band, but songwriter and driving force Austin Hartley-Leonard strives for bigger things whether it’s in the booming choruses and lush arrangements found throughout Fresh Lemonade.

Broken Anchor’s Fresh Lemonade harkens back to the rock and roll singer-songwriter era of the 1970’s. Fresh Lemonade is the type album made for the open road, and a time when our lives weren’t so busy with technology and social media.  It’s a love-affair for the simpler things in life.  This love is found in the reverb in the wide-eyed chorus of “Canada”.  The sonic palette conjures up the feeling of the great northern forests.  The slower and mediative “Matador” has the feeling of foggy mornings along the western coast.

Fresh Lemonade is a rare breed these days.  It’s a mature and focused album that doesn’t get lost in its own ambition.  At the same time though, it’s not too tight.  There’s plenty of extra room to let the music sink and take you for a ride to where ever you want to go to escape the business of our times.


Fresh Lemonade will be available on August 20th.

New Music: “Murder 1” & “Happy Endings” – Wazu

Fans of industrial pop/rock should check out New York’s Wazu.  Originally from Australia, the male/female duo of Wazu present a dark and chilly vibe on their most recent release Robobo.  “Murder 1” is driven by thick, crunchy beats and distant cold vocals.  The verses are atmosphere leaving pretty of room for the mood to set in.  The choruses meanwhile, come down like a heavy hammer ready to crush anything in its path.  “Happy Endings” on the other hand, is the exact opposite.  It’s a fast-paced number with a bite.  On”Happy Endings” the band’s lyrical attack match the sound.  “Happy endings don’t have room for you,” they sing coldly in unison.

Check out “Happy Endings” here.

New Music: “Uh Oh!” – Super Water Sympathy

Super Water Sympathy describes their sound as “a synthesis of classic symphonic ambience with modern ethereal anthems.”  Lead single “Uh Oh!”‘s chorus definitely sounds ready to be played in arenas and festivals.  “Uh Oh!” has a pop sensibility, but the band seems to be reaching further with its layered sounds and ambience.  Even though there’s also a sense of doom throughout with its the repeating line of “soon we will be expired” and mentions of funeral pryers.

Check out more on Super Water Sympathy here.

{Contest}: Maren Parusel & Hills Like Elephants Giveway

In conjunction with The Musebox, Hills like Elephants and Maren Parusel, Leading Us Absurd has put together its first official contests. 

About Hills like Elephants: 

Hills like Elephants are ready to make themselves visible to you. The band, which has been breaking new ground in the San Diego scene, are ready to unleash their perfect brand of indie pop onto the masses. Releasing their first single titled “Invisible Ink,” Hills Like Elephants are ready to invade your headphones. The extraordinary track is filled with thumping drum beats, carefully picked melodies, bright and resonating pianos and singer Sean Davenport’s dreamy yet upbeat voice. A little bit blues, a little bit Pavement, Hills Like Elephants seem to have the perfect blend that will immediately catch your ears.  After all, that is what they have set out to do and they seem to accomplish it flawlessly.

Check out: “Invisible Ink” here. 

About Maren Parusel: 

The gorgeous and synth filled album was created out of the ashes of disaster for Parusel in New York City last year as she had her instruments stolen. Though this was actually a blessing in disguise, what came of her sound is a revamped style of guitar-driven tones, synths, and the ability to take on the world.  Exactly what you have been waiting for.

With a voice reminiscent of Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, with a dose of pop flare thrown in, Parusel brings every piece to life. The finished product can be described as a polished and danceable collection of dreamy tracks with bandmates Eric Brozgold (drums), Josh Cass (guitarist), and Chris Hoffee (bass) in tow.

Check out “Castle in the Sky” here. 

Maren Parusel Contest:

A copy of Maren Parusel’s Tightrope Walker; A CD tote personally made by Maren

Hills Like Elephants Contest:

A copy of Hills like Elephants’ The Endless Charade; Hills like Elephants t-shirt

To Enter: 

Those wishing to enter both contests should email me (matt@leadingusabsurd.com) or Melissa Nastasi (melissa@themusebox.net) with:
Their name
Their email address
Their mailing address
Tee shirt size (for Hills giveaway)
Must live in the U.S. or Canada
Contest will end next Monday (July 3rd at Midnight.)


New Music Thursdays: “Gills” – I Am Oak

Release Courtesy of The Musebox:


In 2010, after the release of their debut melancholic folk LP On Claws to critical acclaim, I Am Oak was invited to be a part of over sixty-five tours and festivals throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemborg, Switzerland, and the UK, including a sold out show at the Unitarian Church as part of the Great Escape festival. Fast forward one year and I Am Oak have released their sophomore LP Oasem to unanimous praise, even earning“Album of the Year” at the prestigious 3VOOR12 Awards. Listen to the award-winning album here: http://snowstar.bandcamp.com/album/i-am-oak-oasem.
I Am Oak is the folk/experimental project formed around Dutch singer-songwriter Thijs Kuijken. Described by the 3VOOR12 judges as “night songs” and “songs that take you on a journey,” Kuijken’s truly unique sound is created by manipulating minimalistic sounds into complex and gentle sound arrays using his own voice as the main backbone complemented by guitar, banjo, organ, beats, and samples, all produced and arranged out of his bedroom.