Saturday, August 27, 2016

Single Review: "Don't Go to College" by The Rentiers

Title:  Don't Go to College (BandCamp, AmazoniTunes)
Artist:  The Rentiers (OfficialSoundCloudBandCamp, Red Executive)

The Rentiers' latest single "Don't Go to College" is a fun indie-synth-pop romp dealing with the existential crisis of early adulthood.
Somebody wrote “Don’t go to college” on the wall in the green room
You saw it when you were cleaning up after the headlining act 
Maybe you just shouldn’t go to college
Maybe you just shouldn’t go to college
Maybe you just shouldn’t go to college in the fall or at all 
What's always set this project apart, what's made it really something special, is Joel Tannenbaum's incredible lyrics.  Sometimes they are very simple, repeating a theme or a thought, while other times they are complex, weaving story through rhyme and melody.  But no matter what, they are always exceptionally clever.
A bonfire, mostly townies, in the woods before the Fourth of July
He was quiet, slightly older, slightly damaged
In all the ways that you liked at the time 
You said “Maybe I just shouldn’t go to college
Maybe I just shouldn’t go to college
Maybe I just shouldn’t go to college
Maybe I just shouldn’t go to college in the fall or at all 
You’ve got to choose something
You’ve got to choose something
But no matter what you choose you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna lose
No matter what you choose you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna lose
No matter what you choose you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna lose
You’re gonna lose 
Maybe you just shouldn’t go to college
Maybe you just shouldn’t go to college
Maybe you just shouldn’t go to college in the fall or at all 
You’ll be out the door and on the bus tomorrow morning before daybreak
With as many clothes as you can fit in your brother’s old army rucksack
You'll be widely understood as a catastrophe
But your grandmother would have understood completely
She had scars from an industrial sewing machine all over her hands 
"Don't Go to College" was recorded in Durham, NC, produced by long-time Rentiers' producer/multi-instrument contributor Scotty Sandwich, and joining Tannenbaum was Lauren Reece on co-lead vocals, Kyle Cox on drums, J Kutchma of Red Collar fame on accordion, and Jonny Clouson from Almost People on vocals.

In less than two short The Rentiers have become one of the most consistently exciting bands out there.  Each release is distinct while at the same time unmistakably Rentiers, resulting in a catalog full of gems, including "Don't Go to College."  This is a must for fans of great indie, kind of synth-y, power pop.

Friday, August 26, 2016

EP Review: 'Things That Are Not Rocket Science' by Get Fired

Title:  Things That Are Not Rocket Science (BandCamp)
Artist:  Get Fired (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, ReverbNation, BandCamp)

Born out of the ashes of Otisburg, Oklahoma City's Get Fired have released their debut EP Things That Are Not Rocket Science.  The band plays pop punk that is stylistically in the vein of bands like Smoking Popes while lyrically having more in common with acts like NOFX and the sillier side of the Descendents.  The seven song EP tackles such topics as the threat of aliens taking over the planet, the daily grind of sanitation workers, and the challenges of finding a soulmate through the postal service, among others.  Where Things That Are Not Rock Science really works is when the silly is set aside and melody and pop sensibilities take center stage.  "Mistakes" and "Teenage Fanclub" are the shinning examples of this and easily the best songs on the EP.  These songs show tremendous songwriting ability and great promise.  Overall Things That Are Not Rocket Science is a fun pop punk EP with a few truly standout moments (also see the silly but incredibly infectious "Sweet Love").

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

EP Review: 'The Defeatist' by Habits

Title:  The Defeatist (BandCamp, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby)
Artist:  Habits (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp)

Brooklyn, NY's Habits follow up their excellent 2013 debut EP Train Wrecks with authority in The Defeatist.  The EP is five songs of melodic post-hardcore punk rock 'n' roll that punches with its hooks and beguiles with its pop sensibilities underneath its gruff execution.  From top to bottom The Defeatist is an excellent record, that delivers on the promise of the band's debut.  This band is a must for fans of Timeshares, Red City Radio, Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves, Nothington, and Shallow Cuts.

Sadly the band recently announced that they would be breaking up after one last show, September 2nd at the Gutter Bar with Arliss Nancy, MakeWar, and Jeff Riddle.  Those in the NYC area should definitely go to this show, it is sure to be a good one.  The band is also working on one final EP before calling it a day, so we have that to look forward to.  In their short run, Habits has already knocked out two excellent EPs with a third on the way.  It's sad that the band is calling it quits but they have left a legacy behind that is certainly one to be proud of.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

10 Questions with The Gomes

The Gomes are a new two-piece rock n'n roll band from Oklahoma City, OK.  The band recently released their debut single "Alright" and are working on full-length debut due out later this year.

This interview was conducted via email July 28 - August 5, 2016 with drummer Korben Neftzger and singer/guitarist/bassist Klint Vance.

For more information on The Gomes check out their Facebook, InstagramBandCamp pages.

Dave:  How did the band get together?

Korben Neftzger:  We went to high school together and became friends after probably 3 months of sitting at the same lunch table and not really talking to each other.  Over the years we’ve played in different bands both together and apart, and finally decided that we would rather play music with only the two of us – less mess.

Dave:  What’s the story behind the name The Gomes?

Korben:  Not much of a story at all there.

Klint Vance:  Gibberish as far as wordsmiths or word connoisseurs are concerned, but there’s weight in it for us.

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

Korben:  Well, that is just about everyone… I’d say it is a reflection of our record collection.

Klint:  I second that. Our goal hasn’t been to reinvent any musical wheel.

Dave:  You recently released your debut single “Alright” on BandCamp and just finished your debut record. What made you decide to go with BandCamp for the release of the single? What's the story behind the record and what are the plans for its release?

Korben:  Bandcamp was just the option that would take the least amount of effort on our part.  We already had a Bandcamp set up for The Gomes and had been releasing demos on it since last June.  We had a new batch of songs that we felt needed to be properly recorded so I started looking for studios.  We landed on Battletapes in Nashville because of the analog setup, location, and the attitude we had towards recording. Early this year, through a series of e-mails with Battletapes wizard Jeremy Ferguson, we booked a session.  With studio time ahead of us, we started to write and rehearse a batch of songs for the album over the next several months at our own lovably broken studio, The Practice Space.  This June, Klint and I packed up and drove to Tennessee to record the album.  In addition to getting to work with Jeremy, Alicia Bognanno of Bully helped with recording the live tracking portion of the session.  Both Jeremy and Alicia were so helpful and supportive during the entire process – they really created an environment in which we weren’t allowed to over-think it or dwell on (too much at least) what we were really doing.  It was relatively fast paced, recording took 6 days, and was over before we knew it. Having an engineer and producer who understood what we were going for really made it easy on us, we didn’t have to give much direction on anything they were doing – They just did their thing.

We’ll be printing CDs and doing the usual digital distribution for the album, which should come out early this fall – we don’t have an exact date yet, as a few things still need to be taken care of.

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

Korben:  If there was ever somehow a demand for it, sure..  But for right now, no. We’ve only played six shows, two of which were funerals.  I think the funerals were my favorite times we’ve played for an audience.

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

Klint:  Almost each song on this record was written differently, but I can say they almost all began as a melody and string of words in my head - with the exception of the song “Shame” that I wrote 2 years ago in real-time one squinty eyed night around 2 am. There’s a song called “New Humor” that came about as chorus in my head as I rounded the last corner on a walk to my apartment after a shift at Eskimo Joes in Stillwater. Two or three were written on hikes with my dog. I’m earning an awareness of moon and mood more and more everytime an idea is born and avoid rationalizing any of it. If I thought I understood where my ideas came from I think I’d be selling my muse short. Korben and I have gone through formative years together and share the same taste in 90% of what we listen to, so when it comes to shaping songs it’s easy for one of us to through out a reference and know what the other is meaning.

Korben:  I don’t care much about the moon or anyone’s mood. In regards to my role in that process - Klint will send me a voice memo of an idea, and I can usually hear what the drums should be doing right away.  Rarely, if ever, does one of us have to suggest what the other should be playing.  The collaboration mainly comes in the form of defining song structure.

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

Korben:  It seems to be thriving.  I wouldn’t say we’re really a part of it though.

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

Korben:  Oh golly… I’m deflecting this question, there’s no way I’m letting Barry laugh at Hysteria being in my top 5 albums. I’ll give my top SIX drummers instead.
1. Charlie Watts
2. Grant Hart
3. Alison Galloway
4. Rick Allen
5. Brendan Canty
6. Glen Kotche

Klint:  Ha! What a kick down the throat watching that, trying to figure which character you identify with more and left with no honest answer. I’m gonna take this question and run – some of my favorite bands over the years being The Velvet Underground and The Strokes, Ramones – I have a real attraction to the hustle of NYC but no desire to live it, and these bands allow you to scrape a thumb across the filthy sidewalk outside Electric Lady Studios without getting out of bed. I went through periods of living my life through Stones, Dylan, Petty, Harrison, Dead and Neil Young records - those are my roots, just as much as The Lemonheads, The ‘Mats and anything Ian Mackaye has ever been a part of. As far as newer artists go, I believe Chance The Rapper is in a category all his own. His latest mixtape “Coloring Book” is by far the most motivating and inspirational batch of songs I’ve heard in years. I don’t watch enough movies or TV to give an educated answer, but I back everything Tarantino and The Coen Brothers have done and every few days I like to go watch Modern Family with my dad. On The Road by Jack Kerouac is a book I can’t put down. I read and reread it every couple of weeks and for me it’s a time machine and sends me to a place mentally where I feel very at home and understood.

Dave:  What’s next for the band?

Korben:  Release the Gomes album early this fall, play a few shows – maybe a wedding this time? – start prepping for the next record.

Klint:  For now we’re content enough with just having the songs but are really anxious and excited to share it with everyone. I’m ready to have some fun playing these songs live.

Dave:  Any final thoughts?

Korben:  We really do appreciate being able to contribute to your rad blog, Dave. Thanks!

Klint:  Spend time on the mountain, spend time at the bottom of the pool. Enjoy both equally.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

EP Review: 'Death Ride' by Don't Make Ghosts

Title:  Death Ride (BandCamp)
Artist:  Don't Make Ghosts (Official, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BandCamp, SquareUp)

Oklahoma City's Don't Make Ghosts debut EP Death Ride is nothing short of spectacular.  The five-song EP beautifully mixes elements of melodic post hardcore, classic rock, and anthematic punk resulting in a sound that is heartfelt, energetic, uplifting, poignant, fresh, and familiar all at the same time.

Death Ride opens with  "Upside of Sorrow" an upbeat song that deals with depression, loss, and sadness as perfectly captured in the chorus.
Caught in the upside of sorrow
Walking a thin line
Down dirt roads
With everything passing you by
Staring at the clouds
The song end with hope for a better tomorrow in the final verse --
Keep having the same dream
Keep searchin’ for signs
Duct tape on the windows
To hold out the light
Write songs on the hardwood floor
Surrounded by eyes
They think I look like a dead man
But I feel alright
Next is the near-ballad "Wrecking" a song touching on internal struggles and self-destruction.
Bloods the color of your scare
With the way you talk it all makes perfect sense
Shake the ribbon from your frame
Have a seat and watch this fire grow from a flame

A lovely place
Before the wrecking starts inside the gates
"Wrecking" is a methodical song that uses measured structure to bring out its desperation.  There are moments in this song that take me back to U2's "Exit" from The Joshua Tree.  Both fill the same roll in each respective record, of the song that is sonically the most different while at the same time is the anchor that holds everything together.  This song also showcases the diverse songwriting ability of the band.
Ashes fallen from the sky
Create a perfect stage where the motherless cry
Shake the ribbon from your frame
Have a seat and watch this fire grow from a flame
"Bottles of Wine," one of Death Wish's two love songs, is next.  With a tremendous opening guitar lick and a chorus that dares you to not sing along, the song is the retelling of a relationship's beginning and an affirmation that the people involved complete each other.
We met on the northside bridge
I was stumbling like a sinner
It was dark as hell
The streetlights didn't glow
If you got an extra bag
I don't mind to carry
I can haul a pretty heavy load 
And I will follow you anywhere you want me to
I will turn the pain into a memory that's miles away
And if we break the chain
It will never take away
Emptiness we can’t replace
With sorrow and bottles of wine
Next is "Pine Box" an extremely clever song that deals with loss and the repercussions of the death of a loved one but from the point of view of the deceased.
Just keep a light on Rose and you’ll make it through
I know the worlds been getting’ the best of you
I cannot see you but I’m hearing you loud and clear
Keep your chin up Rosie the end is near

Six years have passed
Since the dirt was cast
On a pine box east of our hometown
I know a silver linings hard to find
There’s ghosts in picture frames that never shy
I curse the day that you were left behind

The EP closes with the ridiculously catchy "Highway 27."  The song is the second love song of the record but it's a love song about taking life by the balls and making the most out of every day.
Call in sick we're leaving home again
Turn a daydream into something that is real
This old blacktop always feels
Like a muddy waters record like the first time that we kissed
And I don’t know if we'll ever get out of here
We saw neighbors walking hand in hand
Searching for a missing body in the fields
The corn has been replaced by cotton since
Old men smoking cigarettes and tending fires in front yard pits
And I don't know if we'll ever be just like them 
Lost on highway 27
Lost on highway 27
Drive till it’s too late
When I first heard about Don't Make Ghosts I was immediately excited.  The band boasts two former members of my favorite act from the Sooner State, the Roustabouts.  Then I saw them open for the Hudson Falcons earlier this year and I was totally blown away.  Not only was it great watching some long-time friends back on the stage but they completely killed it.  From the second they took the stage, they owned it.  There was nothing flashy or fancy about their performance; they simply captivated the audience with their incredible music and I have been a die-hard fan ever since.

Death Ride is the perfect record to introduce the world to Don't Make Ghosts.  The performances are perfectly spot on, the lyrics and vocals are passionate, thoughtful, and intelligent, and the energy levels are off the charts.  The EP moves from rousing anthems to a ballad to mid-tempo rockers, seamlessly pulling influence from a number of disparate places creating a unique and definitive sound.  Recently a number of bands have taken influence from a variety of different genres and sub-genres creating a hybrid sound (see Iron Chic, Worship This!, Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves, Timeshares, Red City Radio) but few have done it this well.  Don't Make Ghosts have created something extremely special in Death Ride, something I know that I will be enjoying for many years to come.  Fans of Tender Defender, Foo Fighters, or any of the aforementioned bands need to do themselves a favor and buy this record!