Showing posts with label New Blood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Blood. Show all posts

Aug 22, 2019

New Blood: Los Angeles’ ASHRR

By Robert Dean

If there's one genre of music that can go either terribly wrong or perfectly right it's the 1980's goth-inspired new wave some bands are traipsing into lately. Lately, it feels like if you're in rock and roll, you're Sabbath inspired, and if you're playing anything with synths, it's gotta be dancy and Bowie. Most of the time, in both cases, the bands who are trying really hard to pull this off can't, and it's transparent. 

Los Angeles' ASHRR, on the other hand quietly dropped their debut record, Oscillator, and let me be perfectly clear, you need this record. A little boozy, velvety and dark, ASHRR has given us an exceptional debut that moves in waves, it dances in the realm of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Talking Heads, Radiohead, and yes, some David Bowie. 

There's a textured nuance throughout the record, everything feels like it should: like a blackout drunk night in a smoky club where people are doing coke and fucking in the bathroom. When I hear music that's dark and moody, I want to know people have banged to it and ASHRR delivers. 

The record's opener, "Waiting for Silence" is the best track on the album; it feels straight off the soundtrack to American Psycho or a roving scene of kids being terrible in Less Than Zero, it's a musical Brett Easton Ellis moment. "Made up Your Mind" definitely has musical nods to Radiohead's "Hail To The Thief" era, while still keeping the identity of being slinky and ultimately dancey. 


"Paper Glass" feels straight off the end credits of an 80s flick like Weird Science or a car whipping through the Hollywood hills as someone has had a long night fighting with someone they love. Teary eyes, broken spirit, mad driving, killer tune. You know what I'm saying. 

As a child of the 1980's, ASHRR calls back to a time when I remember seeing all of the aforementioned bands played on MTV, seeing the mall culture of America open up to girls in black dresses, with their long Madonna gloves while guys fell down the rabbit hole of Robert Smith or Echo and The Bunnymen. That authenticity sets Oscillator apart from the pack because the dudes in ASHRR are scene vets, all of them have been playing music for well over two decades, they've been through the meat grinder of the "trying to make it."

You can hear the honesty in the music because it wasn't crafted to get people to notice them or to get chicks, it was happenstance. These guys are all studio musicians who worked on a recording together and figured out the magic potion was there, just some dumb luck.

 And through that unexpected musical bond, there's something there that can't be packaged by some dude in a heroin chic white suit, ASHRR is real, it's identifiable, but it's also very, very good. Goth clubs, 80's nights, local dives, everywhere the synths pump hard, they should add this record to their playlists, Patrick Bateman demands it. 

Get out and buy a record. You can order one directly from the band on their Bandcamp. Streaming is cool, but let's start putting money in these folks pockets, too. 



Feb 4, 2019

New Blood: Tiffany Williams

by Robert Dean

Once again, someone originally from Kentucky is out there killing it. Kentucky needs it’s own country music category right now because as I keep saying, the stuff coming out of The Bluegrass State is unfuckwithable. 

Despite now living in Nashville, Tiffany Williams is pure Eastern Kentucky. Plus she’s even got all of those good ole prerequisites: Williams is a coal miner's daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. 

Williams collection of songs on When You Go is a fitting tribute to her home in the Appalachian Mountains, the singer-songwriter bleeds a genuine fire that’s hard to not fall in love with because of its attention to detail, but also it’s a willingness to let the heart do the talking instead of flash. 

Up in them hollers, they’re onto something special, it might be the water running through the mountains, but whatever it is, Williams belongs in the pantheon of Kentucky musicians we’re celebrating. 


"I love Appalachia as I love myself," she says, "with an intimate understanding of its shortcomings and virtues, with compassion and forgiveness, and with fierce hope. It’s home and always will be, but, for me, it took moving away to write about it."

If you’ve got a need for some country that hits you in the guts with an emotional baseball bat, give Tiffany Williams a listen, the songs on When You Go wallop, but word of warning: if you’re prone to being lonesome when a chord hits just right at that dark hour of the night, you might have just met the devil howling away on six strings. 

Dec 10, 2018

New Blood: Nichole Wagner

By Robert Dean

A few nights ago, I stumbled into a Tom Waits night at one of our local haunts, The Volstead, down here in lovely Austin, Texas. The night as a whole was entertaining; the Volstead has a creepy lounge vibe, so the context was perfect. And for a free show, the artists who played a few songs impressed me. They all worked the Waits-ian thing of being a little oddball with their delivery, working the room for the jokes and banter lost somewhere in the shadows or cobwebs. 

If any cities can pull off a Tom Waits night, Austin is definitely on the short list. 

One of those singers that I immediately enjoyed was Nichole Wagner. After belting out two Tom Waits tunes with a country twang, I wanted to hear what her original music sounded like. 

On Wagner’s latest record And The Sky Caught Fire, the excitement for her music is validated. The country twang is in full effect, offering a little slice of Kacey Musgraves older songs, mixed with a little bit of The Civil Wars concerning vocal approach. 

And The Sky Caught Fire feels very “Austin” with its production sensibilities, but also has a slight poppy feel to it, as well. While I sincerely enjoy Wagner’s vocals and songwriting ability, I was a little underwhelmed with the backing band. Something about “The Rules of Baseball” and “Let Me Know” has a darkness that’s not on front street, but permeates the air. Because of that internal expectation, I’d like to hear what Wagner could do with a band who was sonically closer to Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit or whoever is backing Margo Price. 

Music nerd gripes aside, And The Sky Caught Fire is a solid country/Americana record. The production is bright, and the craftsmanship is there. If you’re looking for something that you could throw on while cooking dinner, this has that sensibility, which having a few good dinner records is never a bad thing. For a first record, this is a fine place to start kicking. At a slim 35 minutes, Wagner packs in a lot of punch in just a short amount of time. 


If you’re down here in Texas, I’d suggest giving Nichole Wagner a shot out in the clubs. She handled those Tom Waits songs with velvet gloves and made them her own, which was transfixing. I’m definitely going to catch her live because I have a suspicion she’s capable of throwing fire when it’s her songs we’re listening to. 

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And the Sky Caught Fire is available on Bandcamp, Amazon, Spotify, etc. 



Nov 2, 2018

New Blood: Senora May

by Robert Dean

Seriously, while Texas and Tennessee get the love for being hotbeds of country music, what the hell dances in the water down in Kentucky? 

Senora May is yet another artist who’s redefining what it sounds like to rise up from the bluegrass state and does so with such a charismatic, unique flair. 

On Lainhart, May doesn’t channel the requisite names we’re all used to hearing from everyone’s favorite slice of Appalachia, but instead, May is an impressive mixture that’s a little bit of Lucinda Williams, but a metric ton of John Prine. I’d also be remiss to say given the razor-sharp observations to the record’s lyrics on songs like "California King," I sense a non-linear influence by Kathleen Hannah at some point. 

The songs on Lainhart aren’t straight ahead country bangers, but instead this collection feels like an off-kilter exorcism that’s not as dark as expected down in the bible belt, but instead, feels like a calling back to something missing, a moment in a time, or maybe a feeling that’s imprinted on her bones. 

Being her first record, Lainhart is an impressive effort, with many nods to May’s rural upbringing, and without the cheese, many country singers rely on for some dopey sense of “authenticity” but instead, tracks like “Elusive” or “Gone From The Mountain” feel genuine. 

May’s music doesn’t feel like it was written by a hardened road dog, but instead like we’re getting a sheltered peak behind the pine curtain off into the hollers, which makes it feel like an old ghost. And that's a damn fine way to be. 




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Lainhart is available on Bandcamp, Amazon, Spotify, etc.



Oct 15, 2018

New Blood: Chelsea Nolan & Dan Conn


by Robert Dean

If you’re looking to fill that emotionally charged void left by waiting for new stuff by Tyler Childers, Chelsea Nolan’s debut e.p. Chelsea is an excellent place to start. On Chelsea, Nolan taps into a slow and steady dive bar tempo that’s the soundtrack down here in my fair city of Austin, Texas. The tunes are in the same vein of Childer’s Purgatory, and I’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t appreciate how Nolan channels an electric mix of Lucinda Williams’ growl, but also some Janis Joplin heartache and howls, too.


“Rock Bottom” doesn’t feel trite, or without its moments of chaos, instead, it’s raw and powerful. The song is country, but it’s got a rock and roll heart. There’s something about eastern Kentucky, these folks have a sense of rhythm that’s different than the rest of the country, the sound is becoming instantly recognizable, and on tracks like “Green Bridges” and “Sugar Holler”, Nolan is almost textbook in how to do the sound correctly. 

Chelsea is available on Bandcamp, Spotify, Amazon, etc. 





Dan Conn is another Kentuckian, but unlike Chelsea Nolan, Conn’s sound is a little more subdued, less “Kentucky.” The vibe on his new record, Shine On, Conn’s approach is decidedly less honky-tonk and more bar room bummer. 

If you’re looking for a driving record or something to throw on while you throw a few back, Shine On hits the mark. The standout tracks on the album are “The Pistol”, “Southern Accent”, and “Green Eyed Gal”, all which are 100% pure no bullshit country music, the exact stuff you shove in someone’s face when they ask you about pop country vs. the good stuff; that’s what Dan Conn is for. Give em’ Shine On to suck on.

There are a few clear indicators of artists like Wilco, The Jayhawks, and Tom Petty threaded throughout Shine On, and the more spins I give it, the more it proves to be something that could find its way into your favorite dive bar jukebox. 

I dunno about you, but dive bar jukeboxes are the holy grail of cool, so that’s some pretty good damn company. Dan Conn can write a sad bastard song for the ages.

You can pre-order Shine On (due Nov. 30) here: https://www.danconnmusic.com/store


May 22, 2018

New Blood: Johnwayneisdead

by Robert Dean

If you’re craving lo-fi punk that’s screaming with early 90’s garage overtones with splashes of rockabilly grooves, Johnwayneisdead’s new record, This Is A Record will satisfy thirst like a 36 oz. PBR. 

Based out of Houston, Johnwayneisdead is a punk duo that’s churning out rebellious, chaotic tunes that aren’t lacking in the fun department. While a lot of the time it’s easy to wax poetic on the meaning and lyrical content or pause, wondering what’s it all mean, Johnwayneisdead’s This Is A Record gives the finger to all of that. True punk rock isn’t rocket science; it’s two guys hammering out songs for beer money and a bag of good kush – that’s it, plain and simple. 

Lately, it feels like music has to be soaked with triple meanings and with backstories, stuffed details that need a field guide to understand the context, This Is A Record doesn’t - it’s fast, catchy and to the point. There’s no wack interludes or songs that come off as confusing or like they needed to be left off the record, but instead, everything cruises with the same frantic pace. 


“Joey Lawrence”, “Buddy Holly”, and “Vampire Breath”, all of these songs ooze with a sentiment of the old school punk we used to pull out of distro boxes at shows or local record shops. Despite the music slapping, I feel bad for Johnwayeisdead because of the era they exist within. Yeah, they can reach the world with a click thanks to the Interwebz, but had these guys been in the game twenty-five years back, we’d be talking about them with the same reverence as bands like The Queers, The Bollweevils, The Descendants, 88 Fingers Louie, and even Naked Raygun. The DNA is there and if “Joey Lawrence” isn’t a bonafide, beer-spilling, sing-along, meet me out by the dumpsters. 

The riffs, the slapstick, fuck you attitude is honest, and it’s not a dollar store copy. These dudes live and die by the show and the world that comes with being a punk rocker in the south, and at a time when kids today think computers are instruments. 

Grab a vinyl of This Is A Record and support these dudes, because if you’re into punk that brings back the good ole days, Johnwayneisdead delivers in spades.


May 2, 2018

New Blood: New Orleans' Orifist


by Robert Dean

When most of us think about New Orleans and heavy metal, we know what to expect: Sabbath-worshipping riffs, guttural screams into the void, weed smoke, and pure boozy tunes and couldn’t have been bubbling up from the caldrons of anywhere else. But, hold onto your Saints hats, there’s more just down tuned gothic blues happening in southeastern Louisiana.

Eschewing the blues-tinged grooves, New Orleans’ Orifist goes the complete opposite of the expected and turns the death metal up to 11 with nods to Morbid Angel and Death vs. EyeHateGod or DOWN. The results are a solid debut e.p. and a collection of riffs that pummel vs. make the listener nod their head in between pulls from their Jack and Coke.

Orifist’s Behold The Fortunate is a solid batch of songs that don’t feel rushed nor sloppily constructed. Instead, the effort works within the genre of brutal death metal and lends credence to the buzzwords of the scene: the riffs slap, and the playing is technical and tight. Orifist is not a band comprised of beginners, and it’s apparent thanks to a prominent scene veteran presence.

Because of the technical, nuanced nature of the songs on Behold The Fortunate, Kevin Talley of Dying Fetus fame was enlisted to record the drums, and the results are exactly what you could expect: steady blast beats, elaborate double bass rolls, and precise technique to drive Orfist to a high level.

On tracks like “Unity by Association” or “Satan Tastes Like Purple” genre fans will be delighted in the definite throw back riffs to the 90’s Florida death metal scene with its clear influence of Slayer and Metallica. While there are a lot of points throughout Behold The Fortunate that are very much up to date with today’s bands and their copy and pasting of grind and black metal into the genre. Orifist’s wheelhouse is the large head bobbing groove that Cannibal Corpse was churning out back in the early 00’s circa Gallery of Suicide.

“Basking In The Light of The Dark Lord” might be a brutal few minutes, but there’s no doubt these guys have an affinity for some Master of Puppets and Reign In Blood.

Behold The Fortunate is an excellent debut effort for these dudes down in Louisiana, the release is over on Spotify. Give it a listen, headbang, praise Satan, do all of that other cool metal stuff.

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Behold the Fortunate

Jan 15, 2018

New Blood: San Francisco's Critters

by Robert Dean

When you think of the Bay Area, you don’t expect a thriving roots music scene.  Yes, we know Hardly Strictly Bluegrass happens annually, and really – a San Francisco bluegrass scene? get outta here, right? The bay is known for churning out rock and roll legends, hippie dreams, iconic punk bands and metalheads, and rappers like Too Short and G Eazy. Roots music, not so much.

When you get past the initial shock of it all, there are a handful of super cool bands putting in the work and gigging throughout Berkley, San Francisco and Oakland. There are fiddles and washboards, murder ballads and downright good music planting the flag for Northern California and it’s fantastic.

One of the better bands coming out of the bay is Three Times Bad, a music collective more than a fully formed group in 2018, but rips nonetheless. As lineup changes have put Three Times Bad on hold, a side project has sprung up featuring the funky duo of Raheemah Nitoto and Sam Caine, respectively known as Critters.

Critters is a simple call, and response take to an older style of folksy Americana ala Devil Makes Three and early Shovels and Rope. Critters are just getting their legs and have only released a few videos via their page, but they’re worth keeping an eye and ear for.



At their core, the selection of songs Critters has released so far seem like tunes that reflect a night out at the bar, drinking tallboys and stomping away as folks holler along. Because of their stripped down, bluesy nature, Critters tunes are easily digestible and don’t ask for much more than a good time. It’ll be fun to keep an eye on the duo since it’s just the two of them and that cuts the red tape way down and sends the output way up.

Keep your eyes on Critters y’all, they’ve got the DNA to be a damn fine soundtrack for a night out at the local pub, in California, Chicago or even eastern Kentucky.

www.crittersmusic.com

Sep 18, 2017

New Blood: Madison Lewis

By Robert Dean

Whatever’s in the water out in Kentucky these days is tainted with heartbreak, introspection, and some absolute brilliance. From Tyler Childers to Sturgill Simpson, and now Madison Lewis, it’s amazing everyone picking up a guitar out there in UK country isn’t dropping amazing records left and right.

In the case of Madison Lewis though, she’s got a little fire in her that is a little bit wicked, but also a little “pure as the driven snow” as those old beer commercials used to say. At only 14 years old, Lewis is writing country-tinged heartbreakers that call to an internal reckoning that has many more tree rings than she's got in years.

On Ms. Lewis’ debut Back to The Blue, there is a little bit of pep to her writing but drenched in darkness, too. On "The World Ain’t Gonna Change for You" there’s more than country music at play here, there are notes of Oasis, and 90’s singer-songwriter aplomb with an ironic sense of self-worth. With harrowing introspection, it’s enough to hear the tenacity, but naiveté about this ultra-complicated world we’re thrown into. But, what offers the gut punch is she’s doing it light years better than the rest of us at 14. You look at that notebook of scribbled lyrics or poetry from just before high school and tell me it’s not Cringe City. 


Because Madison is so young, it’s impressive to see how far she’s ahead of her peers not only by her songwriting ability but her voice. There’s a tender smokiness to her tenor that offers a hint of the possibility of her range greatly expanding. Right now,  Ms. Lewis hanging around a same vocal ballpark with her style and how she is phrasing her songs, so a lot of the vocal takes on the record sound similar and can get monotonous. Because she’s so young, that’s a forgivable sin.

It will be interesting to see what Madison Lewis will do for an encore because the ability to hit those Amy Winehouse notes and offer that swagger is there. You can hear it buried deep in those vocal runs through the songs on Back to The Blue. The gruffness in her voice hints at the aforementioned Amy Winehouse, or Brody Dalle, or even Courtney Love. Ms. Lewis isn’t playing those kinds of ferocious neck breaker songs, but that DNA is omnipresent. On "Rockstar/Popstar" we’re privy to a front row seat to taking the piss out of these very themes and the expectations of what a female singer is supposed to be.

Get Madison Lewis on your radar as someone to watch. Back to The Blue is a solid first step toward what could be a rewarding career. It will be fun to keep an eye on her progression and see what she’ll do over the years to come. 


Feb 6, 2017

New Blood: Penguins With Knives


New Blood: Penguins with Knives
by Robert Dean

New Orleans is known for music. Some of it is colorful, shiny, and makes you want to dance down the block. The brass swings and the grooves drop like the bodies that litter the daily news. There’s hip-hop in New Orleans that leans on cultural nuance and themes that extoll the virtues of inner city life. In New Orleans, music is the lifeblood of all things, all events, all moments have a beat. But, there’s one style of music that New Orleans is especially adept at churning out and when it’s done right, it aches personality and signature. That music is sludge.
There’s something about that humidity, the water, the scent of the air that affects band’s mentality in how they attack a song, how they pull on their guitars and get to work. Summers in New Orleans are miserable. The nights are sticky and refuse to let up. Because of that unrelenting heat, it scrambles the mental eggs, it morphs perceptions and equates to fluctuating views on the world at large. And because of all these factors, it goes right back into the blueprints of sludge. The groove is soulful. The attack isn’t for the jugular like most metal. It's more for hoisting beers and bobbing your head because it’s too hot to mosh.
The grand New Orleans tradition of heavy metal has lent us such luminaries as Phil Anselmo who’s fronted a bazillion bands, but most notably Pantera and DOWN. There’s Eyehategod, Soilent Green, Goatwhore (Admittedly not sludge), Thou, Mountain of Wizard, Exhorder, Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity (Pepper is from New Orleans, and Pepper era COC is the best COC), and Acid Bath.
The musical heartbeat goes deep, and it goes funky. Some of the bands maybe are or aren’t so deep on the spectrum of what one defines “sludge” but to drive a finer point, all of these bands aren’t just good, they’re titans of their respective necks of the woods. 
But, as the New Orleans scene continues, there needs to be new blood. And finally, after a long withdrawal of bands to count among those actualizing what the Crescent City sounds like, we’ve arrived at Penguins with Knives. Admittedly, it took me a while to get past the name. But, I’ve been known to enjoy the first two Korn albums, as well as don’t mind some Cracker or Toad the Wet Sprocket.
On their debut e.p. Penguins with Knives manage to lay a whole lot of history out in just a collection of songs. Think the riffage of DOWN, and maybe even some vintage DeLeo brothers Stone Temple Pilots mixed with vocal delivery of a more frantic, paranoid Acid Bath. On each of the four songs, they offer different looks into the band, allowing for a signifier of what’s to come. The battery is tight and the guitar work doesn’t feel bargained for, or that they’re trying to cram too much into a small space. A lot of times on the e.p. the less is more approach works rather than doing the impossible to come off cheesy in the admitted Sabbath worship that’s at the heart of the style.


Being their first batch of songs, the completeness of the concept is considerably there. That’s exciting. In New Orleans, bad music and bad food never last. If something doesn’t stand on its own, folks move on. There’s just too much delicious competition. This debut e.p. stands on individual merit against any and all comers in New Orleans, Southeastern Louisana, and the Gulf Coast.
Get Penguins with Knives on your radar. The band will be fun to follow as they progress. There’s little snapshots into faster more punk-y inspired stuff, and then on a dime, the vibe flips to a Blues vibe. The collective identity of being chameleons of the groove is intoxicating and as we see the band grow and develop, only time will tell where they go next.

Jan 31, 2017

New Blood: Check Out Karly Driftwood

By Robert Dean

Karly Driftwood is onto something interesting. The singer-songwriter from Middle of Nowhere, Virginia up and moved to Nashville and is making a serious play for figuring herself out and being weird as fuck in the process.

While sure, moving to Nashville to pursue a career in country music isn’t anything new - it’s the layered persona that Karly offers that sets her apart. Think mortuary school meets working in a strip club meets competent musician who’s obsessed with craft over façade. That’s a different mix than the usual fare creeping out of Nashville these days. 

She’s released a few songs via Soundcloud (I have no idea why she keeps deleting them) and they offer a swath of identity signifiers rather than just some lame songs.

The two tracks currently up are the Mazzy Star-esque Ain’t it Sad How Things Can Change and the more Unknown Hinson meets Minnie Pearl The Dead Guy Song


Both are equally impressive as they show off the 22-year old’s abilities as a budding writer. Hopefully, we get more peeks into the mind of the funeral home – the darkness is welcomed in a world as bleak as this one.

What works about Karly is she’s after a darker game and persona that plays to her strengths. There isn’t enough country that’s got a little Danzig feel these days, and seeing a woman grab that swagger and vibrato and turn the inherent darkness into some bleeding heart songs could cause some serious damage.

Give her tunes a listen and find Karly on social media. Tell her she should cover a Misfits song.

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