danger // chain, roses in a glass

danger // chain, roses in a glass

This weekend is the first one where we’ve felt awake and like we’re gaining momentum for the first time this year. Perhaps that’s because we’re lucky enough to host the exclusive premiere of Danger // Chain‘s 5-track Roses In A Glass EP, and it’s been playing on repeat since it landed in our inbox.

Eighties-inspired synth and inspired bass lines almost dance around the dark, eery vocals as we spin into what can only be explained as a Tim Burton-esque existence. Hauntingly beautiful, it’s actually served as the soundtrack we needed to get our asses in gear.

Says Heather:

I don’t think anyone has all the answers for how to make a better world, but certainly we should be able to imagine one through art. As an artist, it’s my job to reflect what’s going on around me. I believe it is the responsibility of artists to speak on matters of a political nature. Roses In A Glass is my interpretation of the world as it is today, told through a retro futuristic lens. We may not be able to escape the current times, but we can still listen to music. I believe very much that music heals.

Let the dark ambiance envelope you this weekend.

sharkk heartt, “work fires”

sharkk heartt, “work fires”

Sharkk Heartt, a moniker born from a period of starting completely anew in life, has released just 3 singles as such. But Lara Ruggles – the mastermind and solo artist behind the project – has seen transformation like no other throughout her music career. We are lucky enough to have the exclusive premiere of the new music video for her single “Work Fires” in advance of its release. And what a ride this particular video is!

Vivid, heart-stopping performance set to the backdrop of bold, gorgeous outdoor mural art made to look like natural landscapes. And all of this, from just the first two frames. Other ecosystems and landscapes are introduced to the fold, as a very literal interpretation of the lyrics can be seen played out by Ruggles and a male cohort in front of a mural, while she performs the song with grandeur to his unaware character.

Featuring talented dancers Kevin Hainline, Na-il Ali Emmert, Andrea Connolly, Emily Truman, Taylor Eason, Terry McCants, Betsy Ganz, Nanette Knight, and Micheila Karringten in differing habitats with the collective choreography stylings of Chezale Rodriguez, this music video enhances the very necessary need for community, especially in this time. Each movement perfectly timed to the danceable rhythm that has been created with Ruggles’ minimalist instrumentation approach and full, energetic vocals.

“Work Fires” was created in a moment where Ruggles realized she might sometimes like to be a work fire for someone. Her personal anecdote? A music manager promised to come to her show and she was excited at the idea of being managed by him professionally. Yet, he ended up changing plans last minute. Explains the artist, “He’d gotten ‘caught up in a work fire. I had this fleeting, petulant thought of ‘I want to be one of your work fires.’ And then that became this catchy phrase that I kept tossing around in my head and started to add onto while I was still on the road.”

tele novella, merlynn belle

tele novella, merlynn belle

Is there a better way to describe the type of genre-bending, nostalgia-brimming sonic experience Texas-based pop duo Tele Novella delivers than to call it, simply, “whimsical?” This can be said for the entirety of their first full-length release, a ten-track piece titled Merlynn Belle. Sure, the very pointed pop, folk, and psychedelic influences leap quite fluidly from one to the other, but there is a type of theatrical quality to their delivery that makes even spooky nuances in their tracks feel positive and hopeful.

Except “Crystal Witch.” That is still very intense and largely dark. But, if you choose to enjoy the short 3 minutes and 9 seconds this track takes up, you’ll still feel that theatrical positivity by the end. (Don’t ask. We don’t make the rules.)

It’s no surprise that the duo’s sound is so reminiscent of past beauty, either. The premise of their art is that it comes from a town – Lockhart, Texas, specifically – that is “a small town, lost in time.” Lyrics like “Send me a postcard when you get to” (Words That Stay), “I’ve got her bonnet and her gloves” (One Little Pearl), and “In my Technicolor Town” (Technicolor Town) reaffirm the fact that the music is to have come from that time, and is not just heavily influenced by that trend. However, the duo has done a stand-up job at making sure the majority of the lyrics translate and are not tied to one timeframe or one particular circumstance.

One overarching theme to this album is that it is there to paint a picture. Where the lyrics wouldn’t indicate context in some ways, the bassline and cadence paint their own pictures. This is truly an audio adventure, meant to be enjoyed in order, from beginning to end.

At just 32 minutes long, we have faith you can set aside some time for this energetic and truly phenomenal release in its entirety.

alonzo, “respect”

alonzo, “respect”

Los Angele’s latest blessing to the music world is a noteworthy new artist named Alonzo. Last week, he released his new single “Respect” and we couldn’t help but put this one in the mix for new shares. The song’s pace is like a slow walk through a scenic park – a romantic movie montage, perhaps, in its speed – making the words that much more healing in their overlay.

Once Alonzo’s breathy, sensual vocals hit the track, the Prince comparisons are boundless. And his admirable way with words makes this release that more striking. It’s no coincidence that a song that demands African American worth is being released during Black History Month, but the way it hits will undoubtedly keep it in heavy rotation for months to come. Says Alonzo of the track: “I wanted to release this song to kick off Black History Month as an affirmation. A new anthem that Black people can sing from the rooftops with pride & confidence.”

amy farrand and the like, the one

amy farrand and the like, the one

It is with great pleasure that we wait with bated breath for Kansas City’s own Amy Farrand and The Like to play the official record release show for their debut album One this Saturday, April 28th. The band – adequately self-described as genre-defiant – is comprised of a group of incredible musicians, including, of course, esteemed songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (and band namesake) Amy Farrand, who has been working on this musical project since 2015. Having entertained at some incredible local events – including, but certainly not limited to, Kansas City’s Middle of The Map Fest and Apocalypse Meow – the sextet is amped to let their work reach more ears, and to continue with their incredibly endearing live performance tactics with the new tracks.

One was recorded at Weights and Measures Lab with Duane Trower and is an eleven track stunner you absolutely do not want to miss. If you haven’t heard it already, it was released recently, following the success of the single “Scared To Death of Dying”, which is the perfect jam track. A musical journey alongside Amy Farrand and The Like includes some incredibly soulful vocal vibes, accompanied by a robust-sounding horns section and high energy percussion that really bring everything to life and create some versatility to the tracks. While tracks like “White Girl Wasted” and “Scared to Death of Dying” actually address some common social commentary, the band is laser-focused on tracks like “Dragon Woman” and “Sweet Thing”, two of our absolute favorites from this collection.

Join Amy Farrand and The Likes in celebration of this honest and beautiful collection of songs on April 28th at 8pm at Davey’s Uptown Rambler’s Club (3402 Main Street, Kansas City, MO). Inviting the warm weather in with this crowd is going to be an absolute delight!

originally published on playlistplay.com.

guy keltner of acid tongue talks chopped cheese, the upstream festival, and babies

guy keltner of acid tongue talks chopped cheese, the upstream festival, and babies

Just ahead of Acid Tongue‘s October full-length release Babies, the highly entertaining musical duo of Guy Keltner and Ian Cunningham – who are often joined by “friends” and operate out of New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle – has been busy, busy, busy. First premiering their track “If I Really Loved Her” via All Things Go, which boasted that “the band demonstrate both instrumental prowess and respect for their musical heritage as the sons of psychedelic forebears,” and they’re not wrong. These guys have got a handle on crooning, beautiful, psych sounds that could really drive the way you see your autumn if you choose to partake in some listening pleasure. 

But we don’t just have the inside scoop on the album release. (Friday October 13th, mark your calendars.) We also have a little more insight on some of the tracks, their feelings on the music industry, and snacks in this quick (and fun) interview with Guy Keltner that happened in honor of their upcoming album release. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!

What is the first song or album you ever remember hearing, and who introduced it to you?
Probably my mom playing Bob Marley or the Cranberries to us as kids. We had one of those old Technics sound systems with the tall boxy speaker cabinets. I’m sure we danced like goofy little kids to that stuff.

Was there a moment that it struck you and you realized you were going to pursue music, or did it kind of slowly evolve?
I used to think I was going to be an astronaut. I started playing piano at five, but I wasn’t exactly keen on scheduled lessons and the homework that came with it. I finally got a guitar when I was 11 and I think that’s when everything clicked. I mostly just banged on it for the first year or so, but my parents set me up with this great teacher, an old session musician from Seattle named Al Kaatz. He’s really into soul, classic R&B and reggae, and helped shape my taste and how I approach music to date.

And did you choose the “post-menopausal” life, or did it choose you? (Referencing their “genre” categorization on Facebook.)
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a awhile, you could miss it.

“If I Really Loved Her” has such a beautiful sentiment behind it. Can we expect more of the same emotion behind the rest of Babies?
The entire album is full of little easter eggs, relatable songs about daily life, but with a much deeper meaning to them. I’m not always just signing about the good stuff, either. There’s a lot of odes to life’s minutiae, thoughts on how mundane things can get. I don’t think people always want to hear about breakups and star-crossed lovers. There’s something beautiful about eating top ramen and being broke with your friends, talking about nothing and killing time.

“Talking In Your Sleep” struck our fancy with its title, and it’s one of our favorites off the release. Is this a love letter to a certain someone, or does it pull from many places?
This song is about charisma. The type of people who spin webs and can turn a boring story into something compelling. We all have friends or co-workers or family that do this.

“Accidental Drug Use” threw us for a loop, one of those “well, that escalated quickly” songs when it comes to lyrics. It’s amazing. How was this one to work on in studio? 
That song was actually written the night Bowie died. I don’t usually get upset when one of these aging rockers passes away. They’ve lived epic lives, and lot of that generation is pretty old and has seen their best days already. Bowie’s new record was surprisingly great, though, and I felt this new excitement for his music after that. KEXP in Seattle did a Bowie day, a tribute to his tunes, right after that record dropped. A few days later, I’m hearing Bowie all day again and wondering “what the hell?”. When I heard he had passed, I was absolutely crushed and this song just spilled out.

Did you choose Friday the 13th as release date for any particular reason?
Sometimes things just work out that way.

Do either of you have a favorite song off of Babies, or is that feeling applied to the entire work, since it’s your first release?
I’m torn between “Humpty Dumpty” and “If I Really Loved Her”. Both of those fell into place so perfectly during the sessions, and they are such strange tunes in general. Ian is partial to “Accidental Drug Use” though. I really dig the way his drums turned out.

What has been your favorite memory together as a band so far?
We did a short run in the Northwest recently, opening for De La Soul, playing Upstream Festival in Seattle, and generally having a blast with our friends when we were home visiting. Our bassist, Alessio, is from Italy and lives in Paris now. It was his first time in that part of the country and it’s such a different vibe than the rest of the US. We started laying down the tracks for our next LP, the follow-up to Babies. Just a really perfect trip.

How do you imagine people listening to this album? 
Everywhere. It’d be so cool to just have this be one of those LPs that synonymous with rock & roll during our era. One of those things you hear at dive bars, coffee shops, taxi cabs, wherever.

Guilty pleasure snack. Go!
Chopped cheese.

What is your opinion of the modern music industry?
It’s amazing that I have access to literally everything I could want to listen to in the palm of my hand. I’m a huge fan of Spotify and I think this is a cool era, we just have to slug it out and be persistent to make any money from our art.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Go out and buy/steal/stream Babies as soon as you can. The vinyl looks really cool, too.


Babies is out October 13th. Keep up with Acid Tongue here.

**This article was originally published on PlaylistPlay on October 5, 2017.

bark, “malady”

bark, “malady”

Experimental darkwave collective BARK releases their enticingly layered track “Malady” today, and we’ve got your first listen. Though the collaboration itself comes from New York City at present, the origins of the three-person project – effortlessly crafted by Alessio Casalini, Alexey Artemov and Marc Potts – are far-reaching, and include Italy and Ukraine. We’re particular fans of the way BARK’s sound tends to bring out the gorgeous textures and audio quirks of the places they’ve been, perspectives they’ve experienced. The robust, almost warm, vocals are enchanting enough to propel the track, however, the composition and its ever-evolving pace is too interesting not to have an equal role in the intensity of this beast of a track.

Says Marc Potts of the track: “’Malady’ is about the appreciation of change or transitions.  It tries to attribute an aesthetic of sickness or ‘malady’ as a transition point for something powerful and/or resilient. So embrace malady as a stepping point through adversity.”

I’m not sure about you, but I can hear the power in this song. Try it on for size below!

elsie and mayhem, “cherry bomb”

elsie and mayhem, “cherry bomb”

If you’re looking for a track with an energy unlike any other you’ve experienced recently, Elsie and Mayhem’s new track “Cherry Bomb” is equal parts theatrical, rock, and psychedelic sidekick. They’ve created a monster of a track with the new single, and we’re thrilled to premiere it.

The Portland, Oregon-based alt duo also happens to be a couple, but their backstory isn’t what you’d imagine. In January 2020, they were struggling with their marriage and headed for divorce. Says singer/songwriter Elsie Black (Emily Alexander):

We’ve been together for almost 20 years, and we were at a place where most couples would have said f-it. But we found we were willing to work on songs together and that meant we were willing to work on us. What we couldn’t talk about overtly, we communicated to each other with lyrics.

Creating this work probably saved them, and the emotion involved in that process is evident in “Cherry Bomb.” Get your ears on it below!

arrowleaf, “hdyk”

arrowleaf, “hdyk”

A rush of sound, gentle vocals, a building composition that both blends together seamlessly and allows you to feel the impact of each layer singularly. Missoula-based indie rock group Arrowleaf carries their particular brand of gorgeous sound with Sarah Marker at the helm as the lead singer and songwriter. Their new track “HDYK” is out today, and we’ve got your official premiere.

Here’s the deal. Take away all of the band details, technical terminology, and extra fluff. Look at the photo of this band. This music is clearly inspired by their ecosystem, and the incredible landscape that surrounds them. It’s like they have found a way to close your eyes and FEEL Montana. Honestly? That perfect balance of grace and lightness with the endearingly rough guitar, captivating audio pivots, crashing cymbals, and bravado of a rock band suits that location immensely, with the beauty of the greenery framed by the grandness of the rock formations.

Try it on for size. (We’re right.)