Friday, February 27, 2015

Great Band Alert: Alright

Hailing from Charlotte, NC, Alright is a fuzzy power pop indie rock power trio with a sound that is equal parts nostalgic and classic modern and fresh. Driving the band is singer/guitarist Sarah Blumenthal with her Juliana Hatfield meets Joan Jett vocals and crunching guitars while Joshua Robbins and Garrett Herzfeld round things out with their booming and thunderous bass and drumming respectfully. The band's sophomore self-titled EP will be released on March 24th on Negative Fun Records and Self Aware Records while their debut Sleep Study EP is currently available on BandCamp. Fans of Husker Du, The Lemonheads, The Thermals, Cayetana, and Lemuria should give this band a listen. I think you'll like what you hear.

For more information on Alright check out their Facebook, Twitter, and BandCamp pages.   

Friday, February 13, 2015

EP Review: ‘High On Drama’ by Noise By Numbers

Title:  High On Drama (Jump Start Records, BandCamp [Jump Start], Amazon, iTunes)
Artist:  Noise By Numbers (Official, Facebook, YouTube, BandCamp, MySpace, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

Chicago, IL punk rock super group Noise By Numbers follow up their brilliant 2011 full-length Over Leavitt with the equally excellent EP High On Drama.  The band continues with their signature Midwestern melodic pop punk indie college rock sound that is equally nostalgic, modern, and timeless.  Noise By Numbers is the kind of band that would sound perfect next to ‘80s college rock, ‘90s indie and punk, and modern bands like Beach Slang, Restorations, and The Copyrights.  High On Drama is six insanely catchy songs filled with great melodies, catchy hooks, and a Lemonheads cover that is to die for.  Boasting members of Dan Vapid & the Cheats, The Methadones, Textbook, The Bomb, and All Eyes West it would be physically impossible for this band not to rock and rock they do.  High On Drama is a must for fans of Sugar, The Replacements, Broadcaster, Cheap Girls, Great Cynics, Husker Du, or any of the aforementioned bands. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Album Review: ‘Chronicle’ by Lights & Motion

Title:  Chronicle (Deep Elm Records, Amazon, iTunes, Wikipedia)
Artist:  Lights & Motion (Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Last.fm, Wikipedia)

Lights & Motion’s third album Chronicle is simply stunning.  The record is lush and vibrant with magical crescendos and haunting melodies that evoke a wide range of emotional responses.  The sound of Chronicle is epic and vast taking in the depth of a star-filed night-time horizon with its perfect mix of orchestration and traditional rock ‘n’ roll instrumentation.  What’s amazing about this record is that its grand scale comes from the mind and talent of one man, Gothenburg, Sweden’s Christoffer Franzén.  Franzén has single-handedly taken the sub-genre of cinematic post rock to new heights with Lights & Motion and especially with Chronicle.  This music begs to be the seen and heard on the big screen and hopefully someday it will.  

10 Questions with Fossil Youth

Hailing from Enid, OK, Fossil Youth is a modern pop punk / emo band.  Their debut EP, Intertwined With You will be released on February 2, 2015 on Take This To Heart Records.

This interview was conducted via email with bassist Derek Neef, January 12-22, 2015.

For more information on Fossil Youth check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr pages.  

Dave:  How did the band get together?

Derek Neef :  Scottie and I had been in a previous band together and the same with Matt and I. Matt and I's band had just broken up recently and we were looking for something new to do, something different than what we had been playing so we got with Scottie and everything just went from there.


Dave:  What’s the story behind the name Fossil Youth?

Derek:  Generally just getting older but still remaining young at heart. Getting older and wiser, but never letting it affect any dreams or aspirations you have when you're young.


Dave:  For those who have never heard the band, how do you describe your music?

Derek:  Besides listing similar artists and generalizing in that way, I would just say it's a genuine product of us as people learning and coping with situations we've encountered in our lives and dealing with them.


Dave:  You have an EP coming out in February called Intertwined With You on Take This To Heart Records. What's the story behind the release? How did you get hooked up with Take This To Heart?

Derek:  The EP is a collection of songs about progressing as a person and the challenges that are faced while doing so.

We presented our split EP to T3H back in June of 2014, and although they couldn't give it a proper release like we had originally hoped for, they were still very interested in hearing what we had to offer next. After recording "Intertwined With You", we sent it out and received a response from T3H instantaneously regarding signing and releasing the new EP on vinyl.


Dave:  Do you have plans to tour in support of the new record? What are some of your favorite places to play?

Derek:  Yes, we plan on heading out February 20th for our next tour to support the new EP.

Personally, anywhere on the west coast. California, Washington, and Oregon are just really beautiful places, so it's always nice going out there. Tyler, TX and Kent, OH are always fun as well.


Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Derek:  Scottie will usually come to us with a guitar part he's written or just a general idea for a song and we'll just go from there, putting it together piece by piece.


Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in Oklahoma?

Derek:  Oklahoma is full of some of the most talented bands. So much good music is coming from Oklahoma right now.


Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors?

Derek:  Picking favorites is so hard, so I'll just give a list of some my favorites lately. Some bands I can't stop listening to recently include Better Off, Daisyhead, Brand New, Saves The Day, and Run Forever.


Dave:  What’s next for the band?

Derek:  Basically endless touring and getting this new EP out there. We've been waiting so long to get these songs out that, so we're excited to hear what people think.


Dave:  Any final thoughts?


Derek:  I just want to thank anybody who's reached out to us and wanted to talk to us about the new music. We've been very fortunate to have the support we've received lately and we're just very thankful for it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Concert Review: Drag the River, Austin Lucas, Samantha Crain at Will Rogers Theater

Venue:  Will Rogers Theater (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Google+)
Date:  January 10, 2015

Last Saturday night was the inaugural edition of the Southern Sound Concert Series at the Will Rogers Theater with Drag the River, Austin Lucas, and Oklahoma’s own Samantha Crain.  This was my first trip to the Will Rogers in well over 15 years and man has it changed.  The venue is incredibly nice with an upscale bar and restaurant and the theater room itself is immaculate with fantastic acoustics and not a bad seat in the house. 

Samantha Crain opened the show with a set of stirring songs driven by her powerful and haunting voice.  I was somewhat familiar with Crain’s work having reviewed her most recent album, but one truly can’t appreciate the brilliance of her voice until hearing it live.  Needless to say, I am now a fan and anxiously await her new album.  Austin Lucas was up next.  The alt country singer-songwriter took to the stage with his acoustic guitar and belted out songs from his entire catalog, including the rousing set ending “Alone in Memphis.”  What impressed me most with Lucas’ set was his guitar playing; I hadn’t realized just how good he is on the six-string.  The night ended with Colorado’s Drag the River taking the stage and belting out songs that covered the gambit of their 15+ year career.  On this night the band consisted solely of singers/guitarists Jon Snodgrass and Chad Price, sporting an electric and acoustic guitar respectively, trading off songs, and taking requests from the audience.  Their set included classics like “Beautiful & Damned,” “Me & Joe Drove Out to California,” “Calloused Heart # 2,” and “Brookfield” (one of my own requests).  Drag the River is simply fantastic.  Snodgrass and Price have a perfect chemistry together that is evident through their seamless performances and watching them perform is a joy to behold.


One of the more interesting parts of the night was the crowd.  Both Drag the River and Austin Lucas have their roots in the punk scene and thus often play punk venues with punk bands (the first time I saw Drag the River was at The Conservatory, a venue known for hosting punk rock shows) but a lot of the audience for this show appeared to be the kind of folks that you would find at some high-end art exhibits or hoity-toity restaurants.  This isn’t meant as an insult, just a description.  Eventually I ran into some old friends and we all expressed the same sentiment, that the crowd was weird.  Hopefully they all had a great time though and plan on coming out to the next in the Southern Sound Concert Series in March because this series is one that deserves support and I hope succeeds.      

Monday, January 05, 2015

10 Questions with Haniwa

Haniwa is an indie rock band from Oklahoma City, OK.  The band recently released their self-titled debut album via BandCamp. 

This interview was conducted via email December 9-24, 2014.

For more information on Haniwa please check out their BandCamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Last.fm pages.

Dave:  How did the band get together?

Shawn:  I grew up with Tyco and he grew up with Dylan so I knew Dylan, but we really didn’t meet until we became “grown-ups”. We all knew that each other played music. Tyco had played in a band with Dylan for a while and I had played in a few bands with Tyco when we were younger. My name must have come up and I went to jam with them at Tyco’s apartment. We played a bare bones version of what would later become Archipelago with a guitar, a keyboard, and a uke. A few months down the line we start writing and practicing together with Dylan and Tyco as well as Shirley and Allan.

Dylan:  What Shawn said basically. Allan, Tyco, and I were in a band called La Folle for a couple of years prior to Haniwa. Shawn, Tyco, and I spent some time after La Folle ended drinking Sangria and playing music into the late hours. I knew at that point that I wanted to be in a band with Shawn. Also, Allan Pellegrin was with us for a long time but decided to relocate his life to New Mexico. Although we don't play together anymore we're still great friends and keep in touch.


Dave:  What’s the story behind the name Haniwa?

Dylan:  Our band went without a name for quite some time in the early days. Eventually, as we started getting more and more serious, we decided that we should just keep it democratic and vote on our favorite names. I presented the name Haniwa, which are old Japanese terracotta sculptures that were buried with the dead. I've always found our music to be pretty and strange on the outside with undertones of darkness and moroseness, In that way I thought "Haniwa" was a good conceptual fit.

Shawn:  So a “Haniwa” is a statue from Japanese antiquity that was used at funerals. They look like un-glazed clay and have large black circles for their eyes and mouth. We got the name by everyone suggesting a name, then we all voted.


Dave:  For those who have never heard the band, how do you describe your music?

Shirley:  Honest and unique.

Dylan:  It's moody alt rock with computers.

Shawn:  A bit of salt and a lot of love.


Dave:  You recently released your self-titled full-length debut. What's the story behind the record? Why did you decide to go the self-release route instead of working with a traditional record label?

Shirley:  Because we had enough experience between the four/five of us to do it on our own. We also enjoy creative control.

Dylan:  Just to add on to what Shirley said, we didn't want to compromise what we believed to be a good thing. You know what they say about too many cooks-


Dave:  Do you have plans to tour in support of the new record? What are some of your favorite places to play?

Shirley:  We would love to tour! Our next step is to start expanding into surrounding states.

Dylan:  Favorite places to play currently- probably the 51st street Speakeasy and Back Alley Gallery.

Shawn:  I have loved everywhere we have played, my two favorite shows so far have been at The Speakeasy and The Back Alley Gallery.


Dave:  Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?

Dylan:  We're extremely democratic. Generally someone will come up with a skeleton of a song and we all get our hands on it and it turns into something were all proud of. I think because of how collaborative our creative process is we all feel a sense of ownership over each song.


Dave:  What are your thoughts on the music scene in Oklahoma?

Shirley:  Oklahoma’s art culture is in the middle of a growth spurt. It’s a wonderful place for any type of artist! You can find your niche and your people, no matter what you’re in to or what you create. That being said, I feel like the new kid in class, still trying to find who you sit with at lunch. Will anyone play with me at recess? Who’s going to laugh at my jokes?


Dave:  This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors?

Bands:
            All: Radiohead - In Rainbows
            Tyco: Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
            Dylan: The Notwist - Neon Golden
            Shawn: Boris - Smile
            Shirley: Wild Nothing - Gemini        
Movies:
            Shirley: Moulin Rouge
                        Count of Monty Cristo
                        The Fountain
                        The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 
                        Girl, Interrupted
           
            Shawn: La Haine

            Dylan: Rashomon
                        Lost Highway
                        Blue
TV:
            Shirley: 30 Rock
                        Grey’s Anatomy
                        Gilmore Girls
                        NOVA
                        Will and Grace

            Shawn: Brooklyn 99
                        Bob’s Burgers
                        The Tick

            Dylan: The Wire
                        Breaking Bad
                        Avatar: The Last Airbender

Books/Author:
            Dylan: Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughter House V
                        Frank Herbert - Dune
                        Jonathan Safran Foer - Everything Is Illuminated
                        Craig Thompson - Blankets
                        Alan Moore - Watchmen

            Shawn: Murakami - After Dark
                        Camus - L’étranger
                        William Gibson - Neuromancer


Dave:  What’s next for the band?

Shirley:  We haven’t stopped writing since we met each other, and we are almost done writing the next album. It’s very science inspired and explores so many different fields - I love it! So, that’s something we’re looking forward to next.


Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Tyco:  Electro pop lock and drop it, Haniwa brings exciting melodies and intriguing lyrics into a harmonious broth, which will not soon spoil. These young upstarts have landed blow after blow on the permanently worn face of the music world, Mike Tyson would envy the belly-fire shown here. To further emphasize the unique characteristics presented by Haniwa we must consider the content, with a terminally ill drummer Haniwa have carved quite the groove sporting only a robot beat box and 4 gifted youngsters.


Oklahoma City has been pulsating and writhing at it's music cultures core long enough, it's time to burst forth the new alien breed and destroy Sigourney Weaver once and for all.