Category Archives: Album Reviews

Blitzen Trapper “American Goldwing” [NEW MUSIC]

I want a porch.  I want a friggin’ porch so bad.  If I had my way I would move out of my Hollywood apartment away from my homeless neighbors who live on the stoop and the drunk assholes ready to kill someone over a double double from In and Out real fast.  I want a porch.  I want to sit on it and I want to listen to music and relax and drink a lot of beer without a care in the world.  I would have massive speakers and a rocking chair.  That to me at the moment is “the life”.  With Blitzen Trapper as my band of choice and their newest record “American Goldwing” as the soundtrack to my laid back afternoon I think I’m on to something here.

Might Find It Cheap – Blitzen Trapper

Indie rock, folk rock, southern rock, call it what you will Blitzen Trapper is a rock band.  They call Portland, Oregon home and have been touring heavily for the last few years.  They just released “American Goldwing.”  It’s one part rock and roll guitar laden, drum heavy grooves and one part distinct cool vocals with a southern twist.  Blitzen Trapper have created a sound all their own and I’m sold 100% on what they are selling.  Next track is called “Fletcher” which is one of my favortie tracks on the record.

Fletcher – Blitzen Trapper

After releasing Furr in 2008 Blitzen Trapper fell onto my radar.  After seeing them at Coachella Music and Arts Fest later that year (or in 09, I can’t remember) I couldn’t get them out of my head.  I have been following them on and off since then.  They released an awesome record called “Destroyer of The Void” in 2010 and now American Goldwing is just solidifying what I saw years ago.  These guys are tight and have honed this music and are perfecting it.

Your Crying Eyes – Blitzen Trapper

Despite being from Portland Blitzen Trapper has a little bit of a southern twang to them and then they just kick you right in the junk with a tune like Your Crying Eyes.  I think thats what I like most about these guys.  They have that southern influence that eases you into the music with familiarity and then they turn up the volume.

The band currently has six members with Eric Early on guitar and vocals with Brian Adrian Koch and Marty Marquis on drums and vocals and guitar and keyboards respectively.  The vocal duties are supported Erik Menteer on Guitar and Keyboards, Michael VanPelt on bass.

Girl In A Coat – Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper is currently on tour.  Lucky for me they are wrapping up their tour on November 17th at the Music Box in Hollywood.  Tour dates page is HERE.  Their new album “American Goldwing” is available anywhere where people care about good music, so basically the internet and Amoeba Music on Sunset Blvd.  Here are a couple final tracks from “American Goldwing.”  One rockin’ and the last track which is not so rockin’ but a great way to end the record.  Check these guys out when they are in your town.  In fact go out of your way by hours and hundreds of miles to see these dudes.  It’s worth it.

Astronaut – Blitzen Trapper

Stranger In A Strange Land – Blitzen Trapper

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Advertisements

The Muppets “The Green Album” [NEW MUSIC]

Muppets fans get ready.  A couple weeks ago the soundtrack to the new highly anticipated Muppet movie was released.  Amazing indie rock acts takes on Muppet classics.  I love the muppets more than sunshine to the point where it is extremely awkward when people come into my office and see my collection of Muppet shit, but guess what?  I don’t care.  Muppets are cooler than skinny jeans and flannel.  Before I get into the artists and the record itself I wanna kick it off with a Muppet classic we all know and love done a little bit differently… ok, go.

Muppet Show Theme Song – OK Go

This soundtrack features 12 tracks from folks like the aforementioned OK Go to the sweet solo sounds of Andrew Bird and Rachel Yamagata and pretty much everyone in between.  These new takes on old classics are re-energizing my childhood dreams of becoming Animal when I grow up.

As you can see from OK Go’s take on The Muppet Show Theme Song people are doing things a little differently on this record.  One of my favorite songs is Rainbow Connection.  Done by Weezer and Hayley Williams of Paramore fame. They take a more straight forward approach to the tune and thats not a bad thing at all.

Rainbow Connection – Weezer feat. Hayley Williams

Singer Sondre Lerche stands out among a crowd of greats with his version of Mr. Bassman.  A country vibe mixed with great a cappella “bass” vocals his version of the tune is awesome.

Mr. Bassman – Sondre Lerche

Other great artists include My Morning Jacket with “Our World” and Alkaline Trio with “Movin’ Right Along”.  Both are hugely successful acts who have come up through the indie and jam scenes.  Another great standout is LA’s own Airborne Toxic Event with an awesome take on “Wishing Song.”

Wishing Song – Airborne Toxic Event

As a compilation this record is a gem and as a compilation involving the new Muppets movie it’s even better.  We all know and love these songs and we all know and love the artists covering these tunes.  Here’s a full track list just incase your gonna be “that guy” and not just go out and buy the record based on the awesome tracks you’ve already heard.

  1. The Muppet Show Theme” (OK Go)
  2. The Rainbow Connection” (Weezer and Hayley Williams)
  3. Mahna Mahna” (The Fray)
  4. Movin’ Right Along” (Alkaline Trio)
  5. Our World” (My Morning Jacket)
  6. Halfway Down the Stairs” (Amy Lee)
  7. Mr. Bassman” (Sondre Lerche)
  8. Wishing Song” (The Airborne Toxic Event)
  9. Night Life” (Brandon Saller and Billy Martin)
  10. Bein’ Green” (Andrew Bird)
  11. I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along” (Matt Nathanson)
  12. I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” (Rachael Yamagata)
There is a great balance between the full band blowouts and the small gentle solo acts on this compilation.  Songs to note aside from what I mentioned above are “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along” by Matt Nathanson and The Fray with the popular “Mahna Mahna”.  To end this thing properly I have to post the latter of those two tracks and then as usual with all my blogs, the last track on The Green Album.
Mahna Mahna – The Fray
I’m Going to Go Back There Someday – Rachael Yamagata
By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

The Barr Brothers “The Barr Brothers” [NEW MUSIC]

I’m going to start this blog off by saying I love music. I love the sounds I love being a part of thriving music scene here in LA, seeing shows and being a small part of the creativity.  Back in the day in college I went the standard college radio station route to put myself right smack frickin dab in the middle of arguably one of the most diverse and ever changing music scenes in the country, Boston Massachusetts.  Little WERS 88.9 fm has literally made me the music fan I am today and my dad, can’t forget him either.  I have been to hundreds of shows and in those early years where I discovered it’s always better in a small club rather than a giant arena I got a glimpse of amazing real talent.  This band I’m about to introduce you to is one of those groups whose members bring music and love of music full circle on a personal level.  They are the Barr Brothers and their new record is something that I honestly don’t want to share with anyone and keep all to myself, but we all know I can’t keep a secret to save my life.

Beggar In The Morning – The Barr Brothers

Brad and Andrew Barr are from Boston Massachusetts.  They live in Canada now.  They have a band which are called The Slip they share with bassist Marc Friedman and now they are The Barr Brother which the share with harpist and neighbor Sarah Page and Andres Vial who fills the void by playing bass, keys and percussion.  My first introduction to these gentlemen was when they were part of The Slip when they were touring behind their amazing album Eisenhower.  I remember doing two in studio mixes with the guys one was fully plugged in and the other was acoustic.  The first mix was all material from Eisenhower, but the second they shared with me a couple new songs and I gave them my mixes to use as demos to make a new record with.  This was about 5 years ago.

I have a amazing treat for this blog.  One of the demos I recorded back in the day made it on the Barr Brothers newest release.  To clarify my version didn’t make it on, but the song did.  I’m going to post both of them.  The first version of the song was recorded with Brad playing his acoustic guitar and Andrew playing the studios Steinway grand piano.  The second is the second track off the Barr Brother’s self titled release.  Same song, years apart.

O0h, Belle (Live at WERS) – The Barr Brothers

Ooh, Belle – The Barr Brothers

Pretty cool huh?  I don’t know how to play music very well but I’m pretty sure they changed the key.  I’d love to know what you guys think in the comments section below.  This is one of my favorite songs I was given the opportunity to record during my stay at WERS and as far as the record the music on this release is diverse and something that I could only see coming from the musicians that made it.  I think it is truly listeners music.  The nuances in it and the light additions of keys and the harp just bring light to the whole thing.  Not every song is as light a lullaby as Ooh, Belle after all they were in an experimental rock/ jazz outfit for many years.  Try this one on for size.

Give The Devil Back His Heart – The Barr Brothers

They still have the rock in them.  I love the guitar and vocal pairing on this song.  Brad Barr is an amazing guitar player and with the effects used on his vocals with his style of singing on this song it’s a little bit of a wake up and just shows how diverse these musicians really are.

There is a little blues element a little middle eastern rhythm and of course a jazzy element to this tune that really grabbed me and is definitely the standout on a record of standouts.  I think tune will drive all the points I just made home.  The next two tracks after Give The Devil Back His Heart are quiet acoustic songs, amazing, but then  we get to the 7th track on the record called Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’.  Welcome to the delta…

Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’ – The Barr Brothers

I can’t boast about these guys enough.  They are amazing musicians and from my limited interaction with them over the years, they are amazing people always generous to share new music and try new things.  I think this record is a testament to their efforts to try new styles of music and play the music that inspires them.  From the quietest notes of Ooh Belle to the loudest grittiest notes of Lord I Just Can’t… the dynamic range on this record is really one to be admired.  As a music fan I think I can recommend this band and this music to just about any one.

Deacons Son – The Barr Brothers

The Barr Brothers are currently touring on their new self titled release and will be making stops in Los Angeles on November 2nd at the Hotel Cafe.  Do your selves 2 favors.  Get your hands on this record.  It is available on Amazon and iTunes.  It is also available to listen to on Spotify.  Here is the last track from The Barr Brother’s self titled release.  Next time I’m going to write about the Muppets, yes the Muppets.

Let There Be Horses – The Barr Brothers

Evan P. Donohue with “Rhythm & Amplitude” at The End in Nashville, TN [SHOW/NEW MUSIC]

I keep finding myself at punk rock shows in Nashville, but that’s not a bad thing.  Nashville’s punk scene has grown tremendously over the last four to five years and is now thriving.  This particular show at The End was packed with a younger crowd ready to rock, and I don’t think the bartender sold less than a hundred PBRs… per hour.  With a lineup of underground Nashville bands Watusi, Spanish Candles, Evan P. Donohue, and Diarrhea Planet, this show was set up to be a wild night.  All the bands that night put on killer shows, but I was particularly interested in hearing music from Evan P. Donohue and his band.

Evan P. Donohue is a local independent Nashville songwriter and artist who has set himself apart from the typical rock bands in Music City.  He writes intelligently through stories about semi-fictional characters and experiences from his life.  With his drummer Mike Kavouras, Donohue arranges and develops music that that creatively supports and nourishes the lyrics and stories in his songs.  There aren’t too many young indie rock bands with this combination of musical excellence and purpose behind clever ideas and words.  Evan P. Donohue continues to push his music to new heights, and released a full-length debut album last year called Rhythm & Amplitute to do just that.  Check out one of my favorite songs from the album, “O Justice!”

The entire album cannot be confined to just one specific genre because I find a complex combination of feels in the music that associate with past and contemporary rock, pop, surf-rock, and Americana artists.  This rings true, since some of Donohue’s influences are T.Rex, Elvis Costello, Of Montreal, Beach Boys, Tom Waits, and David Rawlings.  Rhythm & Amplitude plays with a variety of musical styles, and the songs are a collection of reality-turned fiction stories that blend while maintaining truth as their foundation.  Evan P. Donohue’s bio states, “Masterfully crafting sardonic portraits of decidedly earnest characters, Evan P. Donohue poetically chooses his words to express the struggles and affections his often tragic characters experience by the choices they’ve faced in life. The surf-rock ballad “California Sunshine” speaks of a middle-aged man who rebels against the monotony of his life, eventually finding peace and happiness “sleeping under Starlight”, a prostitute employed at the Mexican brothel where the track gets its title.”  I really couldn’t have said it better myself!  Check out some more music from Evan P. Donohue’s Rhythm & Amplitude:

Whether it’s taking old stories and making them new or creating new truths with current realities, Donohue has something undeniably great.  His music tells tales, embraces ideas, and develops new songs that go far beyond today’s pop hits.  Nashville seems like an excellent fit for this up-and-coming artist who is set to debut more recordings this fall.  On November 11, 2011, Evan P. Donohue will be releasing a 7-inch called Jazzputin.  The record will contain two new songs that I, and every single one of his fans are very excited about.  Listen to more music, stay up to date with Evan P. Donohue, and buy an Rhythm & Amplitude!

By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

Spells debut “Escapist” album at Musicians Corner in Nashville, TN [SHOW/NEW MUSIC]

It’s another Saturday in Nashville and if you’re the least bit interested in new music from Nashville, you have to be at Centennial Park for another round of bands at Musicians Corner.  There were a number of great artists that performed this week including a new electronic indie rock group called SPELLS.  Led by Trevor James Tillery, SPELLS made their debut performance at Musicians Corner, and gave themselves a great start to a promising season of promoting their new music.  That’s right, they also have a really impressive debut album called Escapist.

SPELLS independently released Escapist on July 15, 2011.  The album travels back and forth between serene melodies and big dirty electronic grooves.  Songs like “Escapist” and “Where Have You Been” really drive the album with dominating hooks and big Muse-like bass lines, while songs like “City on a Hill” reproduce a somber feel with ambient sweeps that seem to support lyrics about a broken world.  Overall, this is a really cool album that contains some very intelligent music.  Both the musicianship and songwriting replicate a great sound and fresh feel.  For example, “Transient” carries a tight groove in an ambient song about the mystery of life.  I feel the need to say, Jake Goss, I love the entrance with the crash on two after the rolls.  It puts a perfect touch on top of those phrases.  Enough of me talking about the music, take a listen to some killer new tracks from SPELLS:

Throughout Escapist, SPELLS “writes about a yearning for something beyond the modern world. He’s rebelling against the technology-saturated realm that adds layer upon layer of complication to life, causing dreams to become a small glimmer in the back of people’s minds as they chase the material.”  (Next Big Nashville).  Tillery has something important to say, and he’s saying it through his carefully-crafted melodic electro-pop.  “These are the kind of songs I write,” he reveals. “These are the things that I’m constantly thinking about and haunted by. And music is an outlet where I can get that out – an outlet to hopefully get other people thinking and start knocking down walls.”

Escapist was produced by Josh Niles and featured Trevor Tillery (vocals, guitars, keys), Brian McSweeney (vocal percussion, backing vocals), Jake Goss (drums), and Adrian Walther (bass).  After working on the record for the last year, it released this summer and has been getting a lot of local attention in Nashville.  SPELLS played at 12th & Porter on thursday night as part of Next Big Nashville’s Soundland Festival, which took place this week.  This is a band that you need to know about.  Keep listening and supporting SPELLS because they’ve really got something here.  Check them out online at spellsofficial.com.

By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play, Music Without Labels, LLC

Alex Brubaker – Deconstructing The Temporal Lobe [NEW MUSIC]

What would rock music be without the guitar?  What would most music today be without the guitar?  It’s difficult to imagine, and nearly impossible to really think about.  We wouldn’t have Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and other legends that have directly influenced much of today’s music.  Fortunately, we can all relax because the guitar exists.  However, for Alex Brubaker, the guitar is not just a guitar.  It’s a rhythm section and an entire musical ensemble that can be looped, distorted, delayed, scratched, hit, tapped, and transformed into new musical opportunities.  With influences ranging from Dream Theater to Trace Bundy, you might expect that his style would reflect progressive experimentation with this age-old instrument.  You would be close to correct, but listen for yourself to one of his songs called “Ice Mountain.”

After starting on prog rock and metal in high school, Brubaker transformed his style by applying the same ideas and techniques to the acoustic guitar, but that’s not all.  He has incorporated looping, tapping, alternate tuning, and using two guitars.  His creativity is refreshing and his ideas are unique.  Brubaker released his debut album called Deconstructing the Temporal Lobe in September 2009 after only two years of experimenting with percussive fingerstyle guitar.  You’ve got to give it another listen if you are the least bit interested in the guitar or if you just like music!  In this next song, Alex incorporates both acoustic and electric guitar to create a pretty dope riff.  It’s called “Phoenix.” Check it out.

Slightly different than your typical I IV V, huh?  In today’s music industry, we get sucked into songs with the same progressions, forms, rhythms, and bass lines.  It’s like walking through an art gallery with paintings, sculptures, and art forms that are just modern copies of what’s been done before.  They’re good, but they are just communicating what’s been said in earlier paintings without any creative change.  It’s not only rare to try to be an innovative artist, but it’s also difficult.  Similar to the rise of street art in recent years, the rise of new independent music has seemed to explode through channels like youtube and social media.  It’s easier now than ever to go searching for new artists and music because of technology.

Alex Brubaker likes to challenge music.  What new sounds can I make using this instrument, and what obscure pattern of rhythms can I fit here?  These are common questions for Alex.  His debut album Deconstructing the Temporal Lobe features sounds and feelings created by using the guitar in a variety of ways.  With electric and acoustic, distorted and clean, Alex displays a mixture of experimentation on the guitar that makes for great listening anytime.  Songs like “Phoenix” display powerful riffs with creative loops and textures, while songs like “Debris of a Brainstorm” take you from one melodic idea to another.  When you listen to Alex Brubaker’s songs, they allow your mind to relax and just listen, because each guitar medley paints an incredible picture.  Check out more of his music and purchase Deconstructing the Temporal Lobe at alexbrubakerguitar.com.

By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC.

Cymbals Eat Guitars “Lenses Alien” [NEW MUSIC]

Cymbals Eat Guitars is an awesome band name.  Cymbals Eat Guitars is an awesome band.  Cymbals Eat Guitars is loud energetic and just the right kind of music for the mood I’m in right now.  I think I’m going to get tired of continuously typing Cymbals Eat Guitars, but I’ll do it for you in the name of rock and roll.  If you like this kind of stuff and hate typing, feel free to proceed.

Rifle Eye Sight (Proper Name) – Cymbals Eat Guitars

When I’m in the mood for distortion I think I have a new band to turn too.  Cymbals Eat Guitars is that band.  They hail from the NY/ New Jersey area.  Their record comes out today and, duh, I HAVE IT ALREADY so were gonna move through this, it’s going to get loud and soft and loud and soft and you’re going to like it.

Keep Me Waiting – Cymbals Eat Guitars

“Lenses Alien” was produced by John Agnello.  His past clients include the likes of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. two bands that make evident where Cymbals Eat Guitars draws their influence from.  Dinosaur Jr. is a hometown (Boston) band for me and also one of my favorite bands of all time so when I started putting 2 and 2 together I was excited to see the resemblances between the two acts.  I was also excited to see Cymbals take their obvious influence and turn it on its head.

There is a little more pop to their music.    I can only speak for “Lenses Alien” but I will most definitely be diving into their back catalog VERY soon (as in right after I’m done writing this entry.)   High powered heavy guitars, distinct melodic vocals and great bass lines are what is driving this record for me right now.

Definite Darkness – Cymbals Eat Guitars

Appropriately enough the band started with drums and guitars.  They have grown since then and found popularity on the indie rock circuit nationwide.  As I write this and listen to Lenses Alien I’m pretty blown away.  One of my favorite tracks is the eerie tune called The Current.

It has a driving rhythm throughout under darkly distorted vocals.  It’s a far stretch from the music I usually enjoy, but for some reason it stands out for me on an album of good stuff.  The juxtaposition between that and the following partially acoustic track, Wavelengths, was a really cool transition.

Wavelegnths – Cymbals Eat Guitars

Cymbals Eat Guitars is the perfect kind of rock music for pretty much anyone who wants a new flavor of style of music from our younger years.  Either that or if you are into guitar laden, harmonic, sonic or whatever else ends in “onic” type of music.  Lenses Alien is refreshing, loud and most of all this record is honest in the fact that even though the inspiration is obvious they have stayed true to themselves and have created awesome new music because of it.  Here’s the last track.  I love it.  A great ballad to leave us on a soft note… if your not in the mood to be left in a soft note just replay the damn thing from the top on today when you buy this record.

Gary Condit – Cymbals Eat Guitars

Cymbals Eat Guitars are about to tour from Boston to LA and back to NY for the fall.  They play LA’s Echo on the 7th of October.  See you there chumps.

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Washed Out “Within and Without” [NEW MUSIC]

The dawn of a new electronic musical era is upon us.  As if you didn’t already know.  Now more than ever its easy to get your hands on a synth and some fancy computer apps, a cheap mic and a mbox and you can make music for the masses.  For most this is both a blessing and a burden.  It’s a blessing because the potential is at the tip of our talentless fingertips only to be lost in a “oh man I wish I could do that” moment.  It’s a burden because of the frustration the consumes you when you hear someone doing it right.  Washed Out has recently released “Within and Without.”  If you are feeling euphoric and ready for a sonic blast from another planet throw some cans on lay back and turn it up.  This is Washed Out.

Eyes Be Closed – Washed Out

I’m sitting in my bedroom right now as I write this.  Earnest Greene other wise known as Washed Out is putting people like me in a euphoric trance as I listen to the music he is making from his.  His “chillwave” style of music caught the attention of many music bloggers like myself and propelled him to indie fame having been chose by Battles and Pitchfork to perform at their respective curated festivals.

Amor Fati – Washed Out

I’m just now getting into this kind of music.  I find it incredibly relaxing.  It’s the type of music playing at a dark LA club.  Not much dancing just something cool and ambient to listen to as you fade into the night.  I’m not really a “fade into the night kind of guy,” but hey if the tunes take you there I’m all for giving it a shot.  With that said I love the synth work and the simplicity of the drums compliment the spaceyness of Mr. Greene’s voice.

You and I – Washed Out

I normally post the album cover at the top of the blog entry, but this time it’s here:

Ding Ding Ding.  This is one of the sexiest album covers I have ever seen.  Maybe move the dude out of the way, but hey we can’t win em’ all.  I was going to bring this up earlier, but resisted.  Then I saw the album cover and realized how sexy this music is.  I don’t think I have ever said that before, but hey today’s a new day and these tunes are incredibly sexy.  Like right out of a movie where the heroin is getting out of a pool with perfect hair (somehow) or the big reveal at the top of the stairs as she blows the room away kinda stuff.  When my girlfriend get’s back from her trip I’ll throw this on and see what happens.  I think it’s a safe bet she’d call me an idiot, turn it off and put on Katy Perry.  Here’s the last track from Washed Out’s “Within and Without”.

Dedication – Washed Out

Washed out currently resides in Georgia and is also currently, and appropriately, on tour with Cut Copy making a stop in Los Angeles on Wednesday October 12.  I think I might make my way down.  See you there?

Here’s a fan made video for the song “Feel It All Around” which has been making a splash recently.

Get it?

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

The War On Drugs “Slave Ambient” [NEW MUSIC]

Tuesday’s are funny days.  In most cases I hate Tuesday far worse than I hate Monday’s.  I don’t really have a point to make here just a casual dumb statement from the mind of me.  Tuesday’s suck, but one good thing came out of yesterday’s specific Tuesday, The War on Drugs.  Dum dum dummmm.  Now I’m not here to give you a lecture about the pot you hide in your sock drawer or under your mattress, I’m giving you the good tuneage to listen to while you may or may not use said drugs.  An indie rock outfit who embraces mellow sounds and intense euphoria, The War On Drugs might just be the next big thing.

Best Night – The War On Drugs

The War On Drugs most recent release is called “Slave Ambient.”  It has all kinds of goods.  It has the elements of a great 60’s/ 70’s classic rock record mixed with awesome effects and synth touches we have come to love from modern indie rock.  Bright guitars and cool laid back vocals are the keys to this record.  Easy going back beats with keen bass work all come together for me on this record.  Upon first listen I was immediatly hooked.  This is music I like to listen to.  This is the kind of stuff when you play it in your office on re-peat people ask you “who are these guys.”  And then you say nothing and just point to the album cover on your spotify.

I Was There – The War On Drugs

The War On Drugs is from Philedelphia PA.  Current members include Adam Granduciel who seems to be a jack of all trades on vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards and samplers.  He is joined by Dave Hartley on bass and other guitars and Mike Zanghi on drums, percussion and sampler.  Past members included Kurt Vile who had some fame on his own with his solo project and was recently chosen by Animal Collective to perform at this years All Tomorrow’s Parties.  But he’s not in the band any more so enough about him.  Stripped down to three members this record doesn’t sound like it at all.  With all the samples and loops coming from all different directions its easy to get lost in the harmonic and euphoric over load.

It’s Your Destiny – The War On Drugs

I read a bunch of reviews (pitchforks rave review is here) and people dig this band just as much as I do.  I think it brings new appreciation to a tired classic rock folk scene elevating it to a new level while keeping the continuity from past to present.  It’s almost as if they are re-inventing the wheel in the best way possible.  These are new sounds for a new generation who happen to love the music of the old generation.

Come to The City – The War On Drugs

The theme of Americana runs steadily throughout this record.  This music is well traveled.  There is experience behind the words.  Ramblin’ and drifting as is quoted from that last track “Come to The City” seems to be what it’s all about.  This music will put your ass in a euphoric trance from first track to last simple as that and I don’t think I’m alone in saying it’s pretty rare for bands to do that these days.  I listen to this record (for the 4th time now) and each time I hear something new in the songs and bob my head along even more so than the first or second time.

Baby Missiles – The War On Drugs

I’m excited to see where this band goes from here.  They have a pretty extensive tour in the works hitting Europe and multiple spots in the US.  Having already appeared on big time indie music blogs (this one included) I wouldn’t be surprised is these guys blew up more than actual Baby Missiles (hilarious/ terrible to think about, but your thinking about it already so you might as well chuckle).

Their tour page is HERE if you can read it.  I had to squint so hopefully they fix that shit soon because I have a feeling people are going to want to see them live.  They are playing The Satellite Lounge in LA on October 22nd and at 10 bones a ticket it’s 100% completely and utterly worth it to go and go twice.  I bought a pair of tickets already so basically if you have a poor excuse for a credit card like me you don’t have an excuse not to.

Black Water Falls – The War On Drugs

That was the last track.  I would give these guys some serious attention.  I know I say a lot of bubbly good things about a lot (all) of the bands I write about and I mean it all, I really do.  Once in a while a band comes around that has the potential to do a little more damage than your average small rock club indie band.  Mark my words.  Let them get some shows under their belts and soon they will be playing big venues in a city near you.  They have a sound that people have liked for decades.  They have taken that sound and turned it on its ass… so you should listen to them.  It’s as simple as that.  Oh yea and buy their record here.

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Smoke Signals [MUSIC]

 

The art of the song gets lost in modern music’s race for the chorus, the ring-tone, the ad placement.  Too often, the ditties (and real talk: they’re often nothing more than that) that fill 2011’s radio waves and hard drives fall apart when broken down to their component pieces.  Play Ke$ha for me with a tambourine and acoustic guitar.  I dare you.

(UPDATE:  A quick YouTube search demonstrates it’s possible to do this, but at the expense of any kind of sanity or taste.)

Smoke Signals’ new self-titled, independently released album (FREE download – click the album art above) flies in the face of those kinds of songs and instead presents nine tracks broken down into the components that American music as we know it is made from.  The result is a deeply Southern, gospel influenced record bursting with group chants, twangy guitars, and propulsive four-on-the-floor rhythms.   I don’t wanna say the result is pure Americana – the melodies are catchier and more complex and the harmonies more layered than they would have been a hundred years ago, but no one’s arguing for purity here.  It’s the outside influences that make this debut stand out: Elton John in opening piano strains of “House on the Water,” a little spacey Manchester Orchestra falsetto fugue in “Maybe,” and the sparse, broken doo-wop tribute that is “Lonely Hearts Interlude.”

If you just can’t spare the space on your iPod for the whole album (solution: ditch those Creed albums), the must listen highlight here is the stomp-your-feet-and-shout-your-goddamn-lungs-out “Searching” that’ll become the anthem of every socially-lubricated drinking establishment it’s performed for.  Kinda like it does right here:

And if that doesn’t sell ya, the video for lead single “Black Holes” is a loose, doc-style piece that captures the recording process as it was: communal, raw and real.

By: Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @Chris_Cullari|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC