Oberon Rose release “No Stranger” video

The fiercely cutthroat New England indie rock scene has been going through a lot of volatile changes lately, particularly near the top of its creative hierarchy. The old guard is on their way out, and in their place a new group of skilled minds are looking to fill the void with their own version of the New England sound – a version, I should mention, that is far more lustfully ambient than anything their predecessors could have ever devised. There’s so much talent to talk about, but no one has been getting the kind of buzz that rock n’ roll crew Oberon Rose has been lately. Powered by the songwriting duo of Tommy Oberon and Rebecca Rose, this three piece neo-psychedelic thunderstorm released a music video for their song “No Stranger” this month to critical acclaim, and it’s not the first time that the band has gotten everyone in and out of their scene talking about their potential. That potential is finally beginning to blossom into a ferocious beast in its own right (ironically by adding a new layer of artistry to their sound via filmmaking), and just one view to the band’s latest creative piece should be enough to get any rock fan addicted to their potently mind bending musical formula.

The melody of “No Stranger” is suspiciously wrapped in so many layers of sonic gravity that one could mistake it for a lost My Bloody Valentine outtake if played at a loud enough volume. As it stands, this is far from a shoegaze piece in narrative, but it definitely offers the same peek into the druggy world of mysticism and enigma that so many of the group’s influences tried to tap into with somewhat mixed results. “No Stranger” takes advantage of the listener’s depth of audio and manipulates it so that we’re not listening to a rock song but rather an electric orchestra of melodic feedback. Watching the video only enhances the depth of the listening experience by taking us on a visual journey more akin to an acid trip than a music video where color and sound meld into a singular entity that cannot be easily discerned from one another. Fans of pumped volume will go crazy over this song’s glorious circulation, while critics of modern rock music will have to find some other genre to attack with their ignorant assumptions.

2018 has been such a good year for independent music, and with the rise of Oberon Rose it’s thrills don’t appear to be stopping any time soon. Unlike some of the folks who think that it’s getting harder and harder for bands to produce authentic, organic indie rock in this day and age of excessive technological input, I think that the future is starting to yield more evocative results than the past did almost exclusively because of this newfound diversity in the international scene. Oberon Rose is at the apex of crossing over into YouTube-topping (and Billboard-climbing) territory and they aren’t looking to sell out their DIY ethos for any price on the planet. They give us reason to believe that indie rock is advancing into the 2020s just fine, and if you need proof you can watch the video for “No Strangers” and judge for yourself; I don’t think you’ll disagree.

“No Stranger” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6T2Kg-1Pss

PRIMARY URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6T2Kg-1Pss

Kim Muncie

 

Water & Man drop LP

Fresh off their relocation to New York City, space rockers Water and Man return with their new full-length LP Phantasie, the much anticipated follow up to 2014’s Into the Infinite. I’ve been closely following Water and Man’s journey since their inception almost five years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and I can assure fans of the group that Phantasie lives up to all the high expectations everyone had for their sophomore effort. What they’ve done with this new record isn’t just spellbinding but provocatively produced with such severe attention to detail that one could almost be overwhelmed with the endless intricacies in its presentation. No one takes their music as seriously as Water and Man do, and Phantasie just might be the record to finally bring their charismatic sound into the mainstream.

Water and Man don’t just bend the rules with their music, they set out to warp our minds with their melodic, chill vibes and exotically appointed harmonies.Phantasie goes a long way to cementing their status as the dreamiest band actively recording in a post-Pink Floyd world, and even the most casual of rock fans won’t have a hard time getting into the grooves that are dispatched in its eight amazing tracks. Whether it’s the stop-gap dirge of “Give it Time” or the scathing sizzle of the synthy “Dreams of Love,” there’s something for pretty much everyone to fall in love with on this record, and that’s not very common in pop music these days.

Other bands try a lot of different things to develop the magical chemistry that Water and Man sport as a unit, but what they don’t realize is that this kind of gelling can’t be taught or introduced into a group of musicians. It has to come naturally, much like the music itself, if it’s going to have any chance of keeping a band together and rendering decent content to boot. Take a song like “The Wanderer” for example. Water and Man are playing off of each other’s cues like twin siblings psychically communicating with just a glance at each other. Synchronicity of this caliber is a rare find, and it deserves to be treated like the treasure that it really is.

Music intellectuals of all backgrounds will have a particularly fun time listening to Phantasie and dissecting its countless twists and turns. I’ve already listened to the album in its entirety five or six times without interruption and discovered so many new layers each time I’ve done so. This record is precisely the reason why so many of us get into music; the thrill that comes with being entranced by an album, the pure of awe of finding something that you can tell is going to have a big impact on pop culture, it makes all of the hard work and not so talented bands we have to get through along the way worth it. Water and Man are doing some awesome things for music right now, and I know I’m not alone in saying that I love what they’ve created in their latest collection of sonic power anthems.

URL: https://www.waterandman.com/

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/phantasie-single/1390245571

Kim Muncie

Darren Jessee – The Jane Room 217

There’s a strong hint of Leonard Cohen in Darren Jessee’s songwriting on The Jane Room 217. You can hear it from the first tune “Anything You Need” and it never relents. He has a strong connection with the love song tradition, in some ways, but brings an uniquely well-written power to this type of song. The song has light keyboard work in the background and Jessee’s guitar up front, but there’s some piano adding a little color as well. The strings further sweeten the mix and the work, as a whole, has a satisfying even-handed effect unlike anything I’ve recently heard. “True Blue” continues the album’s high quality with another song of companionship and endurance in the face of our own foibles, but the real thing standing out for me on this tune is Jessee’s sweet vocal performance, thoughtful and perfectly attuned to the musician’s needs.

“Dying Violins” and a later tune, for me, are the album’s peak moments. There’s some jaw dropping imagery layered throughout the lyric and the undeniable melodic qualities of the verses and choruses alike are going to impress many listeners. Naturally, the song features strings, but they play the same supporting role in the mix and latch on to a slightly elegiac quality that I loved. “Ruins” and “Leaving Almost Ready” are quite the contrasting tunes. The musical approach remains the same and they strike equal levels of excellence, but there’s much more hope in “Ruins” surprisingly given the song title, than what we hear in the latter tune. “Ruins” has an interesting guitar song with more “sparkle” than we hear on many of the other cuts while “Leaving Almost Ready” has a much more unvarnished acoustic tone. While these many not be the best tracks on the album, that’s not a knock at all, and “Leaving Almost Ready” definitely has one of the best choruses.

Few of the songs on The Jane Room 217 have a gentler, dreamy than “All but a Dream”. The dream-like effects reflected by the title are never clichéd, vary from the earlier tracks in important ways, yet maintain the same blueprint driving the collection up to now. The album’s second to last number is my other favorite cut from this release and has the best lyric. Jessee’s poetic talents are simply stunning as he delivers an emotional blockbuster built around his customary mix of the impressionistic and concrete. The keyboard performance is very good here as well.

“Go On Baby Break Down” has another slightly rough-hewn guitar sound that makes the singing and lyrics all the more effective. Jessee urging a lover, friend, or perhaps even himself, to simply let go of the pain so they can begin their lives anew is one of the best “messages” on this great album. It is quiet, yes, even unassuming in the way it takes on its musical mission, but Darren Jessee’s The Jane Room 217 flies in the face of many modern musical trends, brims over with outstanding lyrics, and never disappoints.

URL: https://darrenjessee.com/

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Jane-Room-217-Darren-Jessee/dp/B07DP9PMTN

Kim Muncie

Conceptz drops new single feat. Benny Blanco

Hip-hop has officially reached an apex that can be distinguished both literally and figuratively from its first climactic creative peak in the early 1990’s. In this scenario, the most explosively popular subgenre to dominate the commercial side of pop music for the last quarter century is being divided into two subgroups; the stewards of the old school, and the innovators of tomorrow’s hip-hop who are bound by no rules, regulatory parameters or creative restrictions set forth by their forerunners. Conceptz is a part of the latter category, and arguably one of the more important parts actively producing content today. As players, the pair’s style is unlike anyone else in the business today. As a figure behind the soundboard, their experimental tendencies make them sublimely coordinated and well-rounded artists, and the combination of the two is going to be what launches these two out of the underground and onto the biggest stage of their career: primetime pop. Their latest single “Splash,” which features the stone cold Benny Blanco lending his vocals to the mix, goes a long way towards cementing their present status as a boss in the game and ensuring a future in the scene for some time to come. Continue reading “Conceptz drops new single feat. Benny Blanco”

R.W. Roldan – Falling Star

Although not always on the same page, every now and again country music flirts with rock n’ roll, and I’ve found that in these flirtations, it never sounds the same way twice. Sure, there have been hard pumping southern rock bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd or Molly Hatchet that have harnessed the sheer power and rumble of rock’s blistering guitars and thunderous basses, but there have also been more acoustically minded country singers influenced by the spirit and essence of rock music as well. Often discounted as too poppy for country or too country for the mainstream charts, these artists often get lumped into the folk crowd just out of scenes giving up on finding a more suitable home for them. And then there are artists like R.W. Roldan, a Texas-based country singer/songwriter who isn’t interested in what you want to call him or his music, because he’s going to be playing regardless of what you decide to label him. Ah yes, how I love intellectually-based artistic rebellion in my pop music. This is what we live for, folks. The composers who totally reject our attempts to place them neatly in a box. Because real art just doesn’t work that way. And thankfully, thanks to people like Roldan, it never will. Continue reading “R.W. Roldan – Falling Star”

Lord & Lady release The Lift

Picking the right time to release a record can be a challenging process even for the most experienced of artists. Winter albums are designed to warm us up during the coldest of months, summer albums are usually meant to get us excited about being out having fun in the sun. All of them are set up to fulfil the sonic needs of us, the consumers, but moreover they can artistically capture the mood and feel of an entire section of the calendar, too. Lord & Lady have chosen this June to release their EP No Ghost, and anyone familiar with the aspiring dream pop duo will agree that it’s the absolute perfect time for the world to get acquainted with their stunningly romantic and emotionally poignant style.

 

Lord & Lady remind me a lot of The Vaselines. The Vaselines were an instrumental force in the development of alternative rock in the 1980s, and arguably the most melodic noise rock band that ever pressed vinyl. Coming screeching out of Glasgow, Scotland in 1986, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee developed a signature duality in their sound that was equally feminine and masculine, and it made for sheer pop magic. If you strip out their noisier, more atonal parts in their sound, you would essentially get what Lord & Lady is recording today, albeit a much more evolved, 21st century format. There’s space for their style to grow a little more into the big speakers they’re trying to fill, but their new single “The Lift”  off of No Ghost is really too inviting to really be picky over. Unlike The Vaselines, Lord & Lady have a distinctly more pop-focused drive that allows for their sound to be significantly more accessible and radio friendly then their punk rock forerunners, and it may end up doing the genre well to see this kind of friendliness with melody rising back up to the surface of the scene.

 

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsZwuz2Idyo

 

In many ways, “The Lift” and the extended play that it’s prepping us for are stylized like a soundtrack to the epic picture that is the twilight of 2010’s pop music. It’s like we’re listening to all of the sounds that have materialized in the last ten years tucked tightly under a blanket and made to simmer and create a spacy backdrop that Lord & Lady use as a template to weave their ascending psychedelic verse and gentle vocal exchanges. Having come together in the most classic of California circumstances and now creating something that we can almost universally agree is fresh and appealing to music intellectuals, the end is nowhere in sight for this dynamically attractive unit. I can see their cult following finally bursting at the seams after No Ghost drops next month, and it will only be a matter of time before we begin seeing plenty of sound-alikes coming out of the woodwork to try and replicate the shimmering resonances of “The Lift.” I for one won’t forget who the originals were, and it should be mesmeric to witness how they decide to set themselves apart further from the crowd.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/37fJ2QD1jR5zJcru9GZsJr

I-TUNES: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1387737489?ls=1&app=itunes

 

Bethany Page

 

AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb”

Synthetic stripes of melody drift before our ears, and ticking of a clock reminds us that time is at hand. The pressure is on as the percussion starts to kick in on the club mix of AV Sunshine’s “Time Bomb,” and AV himself doesn’t even have to inform us that we’re going to have to act fast if we’re going to make it to our destination – dance ecstasy – in time. “I’m working on a time bomb, baby” he croons as the song churns and builds towards an anti-climactic release that is reminiscent of neo-mod psychedelia. At once we’re rousted from our seats and pushed into the heat of the volcanic core that is radiating all of these tones, and AV appears to be the conductor of this sinful symphony of noise. Every time it feels like we’re about to go off the rails and into a black oblivion, we’re swung back in the opposite direction whether we’re ready for it or not. This isn’t music for wallflowers – its purpose in life is to remind us that we’re not living if we’re not dancing. Continue reading “AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb””

Esteban Alvarez – “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman”

A lot of artists who are just starting out often wonder what it takes to create a solid Launchpad for their career, and it really boils down to several pretty basic qualities that can’t necessarily be taught. The first is having a good image for promoters to market, whether that be an image shrouded in mystery, vulnerability, happiness or depression. You’ve got to have some kind of identity. The second is that you’ve got to have an approach to recording that is unique and with that a sound that is stylish and discernable from other artists in your medium. Very few have one of these qualities by nature, and almost none have both. Esteban Alvarez is one of those very rare few in the latter category. Continue reading “Esteban Alvarez – “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman””

Brendan McMahon – About Joe

“Home” opens Brendan McMahon’s fourth release, About Joe, in slightly audacious fashion. The mass of backing vocals beginning the song with a choral arrangement is a bit of musical sleight of hand before the song shifts into a straight forward singer/acoustic guitar mold. This is brief, however; “Home” soon expands into a widescreen number with great melodic virtues and lyrical content that locks tightly into the musical mood. There’s some melodically appealing lead electric guitar woven into the piece, but it never obscures the song’s other elements and McMahon’s songwriting penchant for keeping a myriad of components well orchestrated separates him from many of his peers. The EP’s second track and longest, by far, is “Gentleman Joe” and showcases McMahon’s stellar talent for crafting memorable characters through his lyric writing. The arrangement, however, isn’t merely a glorified vehicle for McMahon’s writing; instead, the way this song escalates from a muted beginning into About Joe’s most invigorating musical tapestry. The lead guitar takes on a more prominent role here than we heard in the opener, but never at the expense of other elements in the song’s musical attack and makes for an effective adornment. Continue reading “Brendan McMahon – About Joe”

Sundodger – Bigger Waves

For as much creativity and immersive artistry that has emerged in the last decade, one aspect of the entertainment business has continued to suffer, almost, ironically, in silence. I’m talking about pop music, specifically it’s more electrified rock n’ roll realm. Pop’s heavier side has been going through some particularly rough times since the fusion of electronic and urban subgenres to create super-scenes that know no boundaries both sonically and geographically. While this has undeniably been good for music as a whole, it’s stamped out the flame that once burned within rock music. But this year, with their new album Bigger Waves, Seattle’s Sundodger are reigniting that flame with a passion that is unparalleled in all of music today. Continue reading “Sundodger – Bigger Waves”