Archive for the ‘Rock’ Category

Martha Zed’s debut – Cat Song

Posted: September 21, 2022 by Kat Meow in Alternative, Indie, Martha Zed, Rock

First off, let’s start with the fact that Martha Zed is an absolutely bangin’ grunge rock name.  It’s earnest but still has that rock and roll purr, much like “Cat Song,” Zed’s debut tune.  This track is ice cream and hot fudge alt-rock, a classic slacker rhythm with cutie pie vocals.  The wailing guitar at the end is the cherry on top.  This song is dedicated to the greatest love story ever told – a human and their sweetie baby murder floof.  It’s all love, and this love is one you’ll want to gobble up over and over.  Check it out.

Martha Zed BandcampMartha Zed InstagramMartha Zed Website

Photo Credit: David Abbott

Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, Collective Soul is a quintet that has been weaving huge threads in the fabric of rock music for nearly thirty years.  Fronted by Ed Roland, they seem to have found their longevity in the cohesion of their current roster.  “I mean, this is the band for the rest of my life. This is it, man,” Says Roland, in the band’s bio. The band’s eleventh album, Vibrating, is hotly anticipated after the chart success of its predecessor, Blood.

But when I think of Collective Soul, I think of their grunge rock classic “Shine,” a tune that always gets a volume boost whenever I hear that telltale riff and Ed Roland’s punctuated “yeah.”  Alt-rock anthem “The World I Know” wraps you up tightly every day on mainstream rock radio.  Underplayed classics “December” and “Heavy” remain retro treats whenever they pop up on the dial.  But I didn’t follow them after the 90s because I broke up with rock and went into other musical directions, so I missed everything from 2000’s Blender all the way through their smash success See What You Started By Continuing.  So it’s a treat to come back down to earth with fresh ears and listen to some mainstream rock.

Vibrating starts with “Cut The Cord,” which is a speedy guitar number that has me wondering if this is a welcome wagon for new listeners like me, coming in from our radio memories.  And it’s a warm welcome, indeed.  Ed Roland’s voice is crisp as ever.  He’s got this crystalline vibration that is so uniquely his own.  It is like ice on the wound permeating through Vibrating’s lyrical themes of love, reflection, and a desire for healing.  The pace continues into “Reason” and I can suddenly imagine how dope Jesse Triplett’s guitar must sound like in a large setting, and I could kick myself for having missed them at the Paramount in Long Island earlier this month.

Vibrating Cover

Vibrating’s songs are tender but still have a little bit of that heavy edge to remind you where they come from.  Standout tracks like “Take” and “Undone” are sweet and full of that hopeful tone that make Collective Soul songs stand out from the rest of the noise.  “Rule #1” is flavor bomb on the deep end of the strings.  Then there’s “All Our Pieces,” where Collective Soul starts settling into more of an Americana type sound.  I think there’s a little something for the soft rock and the grunge rock fans to share on each track.  

Collective Soul fans have been anticipating this release for three years and I think they’ll realize that it was worth it.  It’s great to see a band with this many iconic songs still growing into themselves and uncovering new territory.  But I think a casual rock listener like me would find a treat in Vibrating just as well.

Collective Soul Official WebsiteCollectiveSoulTV Youtube

Les Cooper knows how to set the mood. Hailing from the Toronto area, this multi-instrumentalist and producer has a long history of orchestrating ambivances through working with musicians, symphonies, and television shows. With his new release Noise, Cooper uses his decades of skills to paint portraits of uncertainty. Gentle but tinkling rhythms and a solid emotional core make Noise a really flavorful listen.

Noise starts with “Stranger,” a tune that gets a little deeper under my skin with each play. The album’s second track, “Noise,” shimmies with a bossa-nova flavor and hummingbird vocals of Caroline Marie Brooks. Despite its anxious lyrics, it vibes more like abandoning Saturday evening plans for Hulu rather than braving the outside world. It ends up being a standout track, the most upbeat of the bunch, and the one with the “date night with the boo” flavor. It’s also a great showcase of Cooper’s vocals, which are warm with a touch of elevating rasp.

Gorgeous video for Best Of You by Anne Douris

“Best of You” is a thoughtful nodder about being stuck under the weight of others’ good intentions, when the world, even at its best, can be smothering. “And the world pulls you ’round/and the sky pulls you down to the ground,” Cooper illustrates, that illustrates powerlessness to one’s routines. Further, “Keep It Down” seems like an answer to “Noise,” like the far end of a relationship when curling up doesn’t seem like the safe place it used to be. Cooper conveys that sense of and tension isolation in his lyrics. It rolls with a country melancholy played on something with a bow (“cinematic strings” he calls them in a blurb). Together, these three songs seem to (in my mind) illustrate the conflict of whether internal spaces are fences or prison walls, or perhaps a bit of both.

Noise is a great record for lovers of acoustic guitar sounds with not-too-much electrical diddling. It’s just so carefully put together that it’ll draw you in and trap you. I get flavors of Massive Attack and later-years Talk Talk. Check it out.

Noise LPLes Cooper WebsiteLes Cooper Instagram

Now this crew puts on a one-of-a-kind show. Hailing from Los Angeles, this five piece has a cult following for their raucous combination of punk and funk, and for good reason – behind the space-punk aesthetic and DIY ethic is otherworldly musicianship. Being that the critical mass of the band is educated in jazz and are prone to inventiveness, their new live album Live at the Echo becomes a whirlwind of genre-bending talent and high energy fun. They know how to yank a person out of their head and onto the Space Barn, where all that matters is sweat, dance, and joy.

Live at the Echo captures their lunacy from the get. Compared to album versions, songs take on faster speeds and add unique musical elements that ensure no live show is ever just “playing the album.” They remind me of the phrase “tight but loose” from Led Zeppelin’s canon. Thump shows give you the sensation that anything can happen. Maybe it’s an otherworldly sax solo on “Alien” that saxophonist Henry Solomon thought of in the moment. Or it could be keyboardist Paul Cornish adding a random classical undercurrent in the middle of “Flamingo Song.” Maybe it’s Logan Kane’s utterly ridiculous bass skills that make me wonder where he’s hiding his extra fingers, because there’s no way he’s doing all that with just the ten. You don’t know what you’re going to get, and sometimes the mix is so brash and unexpected you go the fuck? but only long enough to realize it’s working, and boy aren’t you glad you just experienced something you never experienced before?

And what is life but a series of moments – as a culture of humans watching our own mortality slowly decline on devices that eat away at our consciousness, wouldn’t it be gnarly to be able to experience the unexpected with awesome results for a change? We are a people that desperately need to start living to the beat of Henry Was and his drum kit and his slick kshhhhk kshhhhk bounce. There’s this part on “Space Barn,” you can hear it, where he does this *tibbytibbytap* and it palpates my brain stem. There’s an endless number of spicy little flourishes.

And then there’s Lucas Tamaren. Lucas is a maestro of the crowd’s energy, leading the Space Barn passengers through the highs and lows of the journey through his vocals and guitar. It’s Lucas that is the chief songwriter, so lots of these lyrics and melodies are infused with his comedic sensibility while also being so easy to grasp and relate with emotionally. Songs have this disarming honesty that’s wrapped in self-affirmation and even optimism. And then he fucking screams into the microphone. Because why not? Don’t you just want to scream sometimes, too? His screaming is not abrasive, it’s cathartic, and it’s inflected just right between his speech-singing and random scatting and the occasionally very lovely singing.

If I had to choose, I would suggest music-lovers watch the live video. Firstly, the video allows sixth Thump Ben Benjamin to showcase his essential contributions to the Thump aesthetic in the form of visuals. The show is reframed as a rebellion against the digital lobotomization we’re experiencing as un/willing participants in the soul-deadening metaverse (she says, after losing an hour to useless yet hypnotizing Facebook reels). It turns out rebellion looks a lot like dancing your jiggly ass off and shaking the numbness that bogs us down in the blue screen light. It’s this aspect of the Thumpaverse canon that gets me, because having universal worldwide super-villains lets me see Thumpasaurus as heroic underdogs. Secondly, Lucas is an absolute madman and he never stops. As a front man he is charismatic as hell, and his drag is giving constant face every time he twiddles something glorious on his guitar or delivers a lyric in character. You can also catch members of the band giving each other glances as they whip out new skills, perpetually impressed with each other, as if to say “check this shit out… no check this shit out.” Director Oliver Salk captured all of that electricity.

Keep ears (and eyes) open for a uniquely beautiful version of “Beta Lupi” with Paul Cornish giving it a baroque (the fuck?) accompaniment, and a surprise version of “Lovin’ You” you might otherwise only find if you peruse the deep corners of their Youtube. (That said, go peruse the corners of their YouTube). Live at the Echo is worth 90 minutes of your loosest socks-on-a-hardwood-floor dance energy, and is a proper analogue until the Space Barn sets down in your own neck of the woods.

Live at the Echo (Youtube)Thumpasaurus InstagramLive at the Echo (Spotify)

Trying to write while neck deep in the grind means sometimes good tunes fall through the cracks. Here I’m going to offer my inbox some relief while sharing worthy musical goodness with you lovable clickers. Five tunes not to miss coming right up!

Opeongo – tragedy

Artwork by Patrick Decourcy

Opeongo’s voice is so uniquely clear that it paints “tragedy” in bold colors.  His tone is sweet and vaguely nasal that it feels like Steve Harley, making “tragedy” feel very glam. It nods so good and demands your attention.  The lyrics tell a grim story of Canadian-indigenous genocide, but end in the potential for hope as voices like Opeongo’s try and remember history so it never repeats.  It’s gorgeous and sorrowful, and that voice will stick to you.

Listen to “tragedy”Opeongo FacebookOpeongo Bandcamp

Down With Space – We Were Strangers

“We Were Strangers” has a post-punk drum flavor and an electro agenda.  The chorus has that kind of foot-stomping energy that is completely magnetic.  The result is a pop tension that feels a lot like 1am with four drinks in the gullet, about to make a very exciting bad decision.  Vaguely nostalgic, exacerbated by the video’s visuals as the viewer perpetually leaves everything behind. There’s just something about that combination of tones that is so compelling.

We Were Strangers VideoDown With Space InstagramDown With Space Bandcamp

Lydia Persaud – Good For Us

Soulful, smooth, and cool as hell, Lydia Persaud’s “Good For Us” is the flavor of self-care and new clarity. Simple rhythm and delicate guitar let Persaud’s voice wash over and cleanse the soul as she sings the praises of time away from one’s lover. The video sees Persaud smudging away the bad vibes and spending some much-needed personal time with her besties. Send the other half out for groceries and roll out the bath bombs to melt into this one.

Good For Us VideoLydia Persaud InstagramLydia Persaud Bandcamp

John Orpheus – House of Cards (Radiohead Cover)

It’s hard to top an original, but John Orpheus gives and old favorite new breath in his Afro-pop cover of Radiohead’s “House of Cards.” Capitalizing on the original’s minimalist percussion, Orpheus adds delicate Caribbean rhythm that gives the song a new optimism. His vocals feel a bit like Phil Collins at moments. Refreshingly honest, video director Patrick Hodgson illustrates the tune with images of real couples in love, from the joyful to the mildly erotic, which capture the (often underrepresented) love shared in a long-term relationships.

House Of Cards by John Orpheus VideoJohn Orpheus InstagramJohn Orpheus Bandcamp

Agath Christ – Blood

It starts like a post-punk electro tune until the beat takes on this off-kilter syncopation that rests on the border between darkwave and electro jazz, if there is one. Noisy and tense, “Blood” is trying desperately to break through the weighted chains of our algorithmic technological oppression. “Blood” is visceral, and stressful, and so very easy to connect with if you’ve ever felt overburdened by the world as it has been engineered. Visuals show (what I interpret as) sufferers escaping their homes to find the last vestige of land free from the looming pressures of technocracy, only able to find rest by laying in the woods in snow. I get it – screens can start to feel like prison walls. Engage with this one.

Blood VideoAgath Christ InstagramAgath Christ Bandcamp

Try ’em out! Let me know what you think in the comments or hit us up on Instagram.

Finally! After years of wait, our own Soda Survive has finally brought his newest project into the daylight. Coventry Carols is a reunion of (e)motion picture’s Soda and drummer Terry Taylor, along with bassist Clifford “Sugarbear” Catropa. Together, the trio have emerged victorious from their first gig in nearby Connecticut, and have released their premiere track “The Well,” due to hit virtual airwaves on Friday (but purchasable from bandcamp at this very moment).

“The Well” is a alt-rock bopper, or as was recently noted during an interview on Bitten Apple TV, “a 90s throwback to the future.” The Well starts with a jaunty guitar riff over Terry’s tip-taps, that sound much like a rock-and-roll kid’s jaunt in a playground. Soda’s vocals come in, bringing in a little Billy Corgan flavor along with the lyrics that make me wonder if “The Well” is a metaphor for the darkness of the pandemic (Will we ever see the light again?/These times they are so cruel). Alternatively they might reference Soda’s recent years of medical challenges, a well from which he has emerged victorious. All in all, The Well is a 90s-ey, garage-y, grunge-y rock tune that will woo a few of the emo kids to boot.

The well single has four tracks, including an instrumental, and a remix by Coventry Carols album producer Joey Zampella (Life of Agony). Long Island can find Coventry Carols playing at Mr. Beery’s at the end of the month. Keep an eye open for their forthcoming cassette and CD, too – Coventry Carols has just joined the roster at Rescord!

coventrycarols.com

Coventry Carols on Bandcamp

Altameda – Nightmare Town

Posted: February 9, 2022 by Kat Meow in Altameda, Canada, Rock

Altameda, the nom de tune of Edmonton (Alberta) duo Troy Snaterse and Erik Grice, are launching a new album in April entitled Born Losers. From this album comes this driving Springsteen-ey track “Nightmare Town.” This upbeat ditty tells the irrational dreams of an angsty youth that thinks he would do almost anything to get out and start his adulthood. He recounts fantasies and memories that ring of youthful freedom. It’s got that kind of foot-stomping beat that is classically North American rock. For me, it calls up imagery of warm spring nights in the suburbs, corner-store sodas, and dusklight games of hide-and-seek. It’s got a really solid blend of piano and vocal that feels wistful but not quite desperate. Compared to the similar story in Tracy Chapman’s classic “Fast Car,” “Nightmare Town” is less of a plan and more of a wish. I get the sense that the young protagonist does more dreaming than doing, a recipe for unfulfilled wanderlust that feels more like cruising down the highway on a road trip than running away. It has some vague hope underneath, even though it is a reminder of how I used to look at my hometown through brown-colored glasses, as I now shop for houses in that same town. Oh, life. A good listen, check ’em out.

Altameda Instagram 

 Altameda Twitter 

 Altameda’s Website

Les Cooper Himself

Les Cooper a Toronto’ based producer, mixer, multi-instrumentalist, JUNO award winner, and very cool name haver, has released his debut single, “Stranger.” It starts with buzzy tones before Les’s haunting vocal slides into consciousness. Layers upon layers of swirling instrumentation weave through Cooper’s mellow voice. The speaker of the song seems to carry a very intense and public hurt as it tells the pain of feeling left behind after someone else’s success: Everyone will say that you’re the one that shook them up/the one that tore them down. There is a sense of the speaker struggling through this rawness as they encounter this person’s exploits in other places: Everyone may write about the things you did, the lies you told, the hearts you broke. I get the sense that the hurt may be public, but the speaker feels quite invisible, like they’re the one becoming a stranger. It’s a good atmospheric mellow. I wonder what he’ll come up with next.

Listen to “Stranger” on your preferred platform

Les Cooper Instagram

It was sometime back in the early 00s when I got into King Crimson. I got to see them live with John Paul Jones when I was a Zeppelin die-hard and JPJ was touring behind The Thunderthief (2001). I got to hear the rhythmic daymare of Thela Hun Ginjeet for the first time in my life. The mix of strange and almost discordant rhythms did more to get me dazed than the contact high and warm pocket vodka. I remember being completely entranced until the song ended and I finally shuddered back to life. At the time, I also was discovering Zappa, and knew their common link was Adrian Belew. Young Lions, the first album I landed on at (thanks good ole Mr. Cheapos!), ended up tucking itself into the folds of my hippocampus in my Personal Museum of Eternally Beloved Music. This album is a mission of optimism with claws, set to vaguely jungle-ish rock drums and Belew’s unbelievable shredding. After now twenty years, whenever some Facebook chain email crosses me asking for my top fives or tens or “I listen to this when,” I instantly see the white-pink hue of my copy of Young Lions.

It starts with this pulsating stomp with bells on its ankles, that give me visuals of bonfire parties and hunting predators. This song always sends me deep into the stories in my consciousness and push up fruits of lush colors and imagery – sometimes a cavewoman lover shimmying for her beau, other times eyes in the bushes in the quiet blue darkness; a stalking foot of a carefully moving something. The driving stomp careens into a solo with a some instrument that I have no fucking idea what it is (probably some genius machination Belew does with pedals and pixie dust). It sears as much as it sings, stomping along with rhythmic grunts and twittering flutes, until the entire jungle erupts in natural rapture. It is a masterpiece of sound and joy and it moves me every time.

From there Pretty Pink Rose takes over. A guitar-crazy wailing pop smash, (the album’s one single and video), Pretty Pink Rose is just a good honest rock song. Total shoulder shimmy danceable. I won’t pretend to understand the lyrics, but they’re Bowie lyrics so they work well on their own just by sounding beautiful, nevermind what world-shaking political meanings Bowie may hide in there if you have the patience to search. “The left wing’s broken, the right’s insane” was one of the easily reachable bits to grasp, and rings even more frustratingly true the further we live through history. Other lyrics call up images of the Russian monarchy and seem to bite. Man, I don’t need to know what the hell the song is about, but the hooks in this song are so fun to sing along to, it doesn’t matter.

Humor me a personal story: There was a long time I didn’t pull this album out for a listen. I’m a sensitive soul and the universe decided to backhand me. When I was about 19, traveling the country with Led Zeppelin fans, I took my all Adrian Belew CDs on one of the coolest music adventures of my life (which I shall save for another post). My copy of Belew’s Op Zop Too Wah was with me, and it was super special. It had been gifted by another Belew fan on the internet with the caveat that I must one day pay it forward to another person who might like it. It was precious cargo, cargo that came with a mission. I wanted to make sure I had a few uninterruptable listens, and flights to and from Ohio were as good an opportunity as any.

So naturally, the airline lost my luggage.

When my bag arrived home 9 hours after I did, it was unlocked and all my beloved CDs and CD Walkman were gone. Heartbroken. I couldn’t bear to replace them, even though members of that Belew group sent me replacements and sympathy. But I felt so fucked up about it that I couldn’t really enjoy them without thinking about the violation of some chode stealing my stuff. And I always felt bad having never been able to complete my mission of paying a Belew CD forward. I sort of just blocked it out like it would be forever sour.

It took me until the darkness of 2020 to be able to see the light in this album again. In one of my many moments of deep orange panic, watching the world fall apart in front of me, I started singing “Looking for a UFO” at the top of my lungs. “Somebody will have to fall out of the sky, somebody to show us how to survive. Wouldn’t that be nice?” It sure felt like it. It came out of me randomly and at full volume like a cry to the gods (in the form of a catchy pop song). After all, it is three and a half minutes of upbeat but desperate hope when everything felt hopeless. Why not call upon the aliens? “I wonder what they see on earth. Do they see the hate and hurt? Or do they see the Christmas lights and mirth, and hear songs of peace on earth? Well maybe they would know, a way to make it so.” Maybe they do! Maybe we do, too. I confused the hell out of my neighbors, but I was happy.

One of the weirdest slam dunks on this album is I Am What I Am, which is a jam-along with cult radio evangelist Prophet Omega. I have always had a personally embattled relationship with spirituality, and this beat and monologue would make me scoff at the same time as “I am what I am, and that is all I am, and I am it” became an arcane mantra I would jot down in my notebooks in college. It’s this narrative of self-acceptance and living in the moment that is really engaging and healthy and light, although the guy also seems a little more than eccentric. I’ve since learned that Omega is some kind of legendary cult figure in Nashville music, and you can download his sermons/buy stuff about him from Genuine Human Productions here:

Genuine Human Productions Bandcamp

“Men In Helicopters” is an assault on poachers, and to some larger extent, the sins of our consumption. Belew’s rage is unfettered and raw in its biting lyrics. “Wouldn’t it be odd, if there really was a god, and he looked down on earth and saw what we’d done to her? Wouldn’t it be just, if he pulled the plug on us, and took away the sun?” I can hear a little extra breath in Belew’s rage, as if mentions of copters come with a snarl, a desire for justice. It gives you a push.

I always listen to this guy start to finish – there’s so much more to get, whether it’s the vaguely ethereal cover of “Not Alone Anymore” of the Wilburys, or “Phone Call From the Moon” or Belew’s personal cover of King Crimson’s “Heartbeat.” It’s a powerful album that more people ought to know about it. I could go on, but I won’t, because this review is already long. But I will say this:

DO YOU WANT A COPY OF OP ZOP TOO WAH? Help me complete my mission. I will send you a copy of Op Zop Too Wah on the condition that you one day pay another Belew album forward to someone else. Help me solve the mission I started 20 or so years ago in the primordial ooze of the internet. Reach out to me on Instagram! Cheers!

https://adrianbelew.net/

Adrian Belew’s Facebook

Adrian Belew’s Insta

Fresh face Smudgeout, also known as 19 year-old Deanna Fielding, delivers a driving rock track called “Cheap Jewelry.” Smudgeout tells us her frustration with crass consumption and the fashion industry’s stranglehold on people’s wallets and minds. Driving guitars and contralto vocals make me think she’s got shades of Florence sans the Machine in there. But she’s got that punk energy and anti-consumerist ethos for those of us sick of the mindless cycle of buy-break-discard-buy that comes from ugly fashion practices. This song has gotten some brain-replays, a sure sign of a keeper. Enjoy!

Check out Cheap Jewelry on Spotify

More Smudgeout from her website: http://www.smudgeout.com/