Chicago-bred psych pop quintet Post Animal – expertly comprised of Dalton Allison, Jake Hirshland, Javi Reyes, Wesley Toledo, and Matt Williams – truly brought their A Game with the release of Forward Motion Godyssey today. Leisurely rolling into an easygoing soundscape with “Your Life Away”, the 80s-inspired fade-in on second track “Post Animal” is both nostalgic and frantic. “Schedule” brings us back to a more 70s-psych aura, bright vocals and crashing cymbals leading the way.
“Fitness”, as its predecessors, has a completely different feel, bringing with it an audible sense of mystery. “In a Paradise” feels more 80s hair band, a track we could easily see being placed in the soundtrack of Top Gun II, if things were to go our way. (The first minute at least, before it goes into more Guitar Hero territory.) “The Whole” is an instrumental track that sounds as though it should be played in queue for a Star Wars attraction. Glittering and lovely, it paves the way for “How Do You Feel” (Note: NOT a question) in a way that highlights the synth in both tracks.
“Safe or Not” brings with its title a mystery, and with its soundscape more of a dance track than anything else. We can very much imagine “Private Shield” as more of a contemporary Warped Tour track, while “Damaged Goods” rips hard, and we’re totally smitten. “Sifting” is the eleventh and final track, bringing the listener’s heart rate back down after a short burst of ethereal energy mid-track.
What’s your favorite song on the new release? Let us know!
Keep up with Post Animal here.
Dennis Callaci drops his new solo record The Dead of the Day. Callaci is the founder of Shrimp Records and a member of the band Refrigerator, as well as released solo records.
Dead of the Day is part three of solo albums by Callaci. The first release being Bed of Light, released in 2016 followed by The End of the Night, released in 2017. Dead of the Day is a stripped down acoustic record full of guitar and piano ballads. The album opens with a fifteen minute instrumental. Everything on the record plays off one another – lyrics and music composition work in a way that creates a ghostly feeling.
The release of The Dead of the Day coincides with Callaci’s novel 100 Cassettes, with a narrative that ties into the narrative of the album. The book is constructed of 100 meditation on music, commerce, and abstract concepts. These ideas wrap around autobiographical information, the rich culture of Southern California from 1969 to today, and all musical points.
Dennis Callaci Tour Dates
02.14 – Pomona, CA @ dA Center for The Arts
02.15 – Los Angeles, CA @ Book Soup – 2pm
02.15 – Glendale, CA @ House Show
02.16 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Streetlight Record Store – 2pm, Santa Cruz CA
02.16 – Oakland, CA @ House Show
02.18 – Portland, OR @ Music Millenium in-store – 7pm
02.19 – Seattle, WA @ Sonic Boom in-store – 7pm
02.20 – Boise, ID @ Record Exchange – 7pm In-Store Performance
02.21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ House Show at Barn Deluxxe
New York-based Americana trio The Lone Bellow
have been around for a decade now, but their newest release has shown that the
folksy group still have plenty of stories left to tell and plenty of new ways to tell them. The
group, comprised of lead singer/guitarist Zach Williams, multi-instrumentalist Kanene Donehey Pipkin and guitarist Brian Elmquist (both of whom join Williams on both vocals and songwriting) have just released their fifth studio album, Half Moon Light, produced by The
National’s Aaron Desner, who also oversaw their sophomore album, Then Came the
The album itself is a beautiful showcase of catharsis for every one of the band members, who have all endured shocking amounts of tragedy and hardship in their lives that they admirably translate into soul-shaking music. The group holds tight to its folksy roots on Half Moon Light, but it’s uplifting and spiritual tone often soars into the rafters with clear influence in gospel, soul, and blues.
The chilling story of “Intro”, “Interlude”, and “Finale”, which appear dispersed equally throughout the album, is one unlike any other. The album works around the difficult theme of death, but instead of it being a somber reflection, it’s a triumphantly uplifting celebration of life. This tone is firmly set right from the start with the intro, which showcases Williams’ grandmother bringing the house down in a moving tribute at her husband’s (William’s grandfather) funeral when this old woman, supposedly barely capable of walking, made her way up to the front of the church, kicked the paid musician off the piano, and in the final moments of the packed service, hammered out a soul-shaking medley of songs as a beautiful tribute to her husband of 64 years. Williams later realized in the studio that his dad had recorded the whole thing, and it in turn made its way onto the album. The soulful medley effortlessly manages to tie the album together in a uniquely beautiful way.
In “I Can Feel You Dancing”, Williams and Elmquist send a letter beyond the grave to their own grandfathers, who passed away fairly recently within a couple months of each other. In a showcase to the beautiful celebration of life that takes center stage thematically on this album, the track is a moving ode to life both lived and yet to be lived, as it pays tribute to their loved ones before them but also to the people currently in their life who push them to live to the fullest everyday. Triumphant horns, soaring harmonies, and a comfortingly-grounding drumline decorate the pure and sparkling walls of this number, which embodies what it means to celebrate life.
Explosive blues-rock track “Just Enough to Get By” showcases Pipkin absolutely bringing the house down with earth-shaking vocals and brutally honest storytelling. The ache and grit in the multi-talented musician’s voice bleed onto the emotional track, which tells the story of her mother, who was raped as a teenager and forced to give up the resulting child. 40 years later, that child came back into her life, and all of the emotions that Pipkin clearly felt are laid out for all to see (and feel) on this powerful track. Pipkin usually plays an important role in bringing life to the oh-so-sweet 3 part harmonies that have long been a key weapon in The Lone Bellow’s folksy musical arsenal, so seeing this intensely soulful side of her voice is an impressive display of her dynamism to say the least and a standout moment on the album.
“Good Times” is a mind-bending bout of wild storytelling courtesy of Williams that features piano that is somehow both devilish and gleeful all at once. The track is supported by shouting choruses, which are also featured on “Count on Me”, which celebrates camaraderie and friendship. Songs like “Wash it Clean” and “August” shift the focus back to heavier material. The former features beautifully picked guitar and sliding strings as Elmquist pays tribute to his recently passed father, who he had a difficult relationship with, while the latter is an ode to Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, who tragically passed away in May of 2018.
The trio impressively manages to stay grounded in the music that made their fans fall in love a decade ago while also bravely exploring new genres and themes. Their adventurous musical spirit aside, a constant is the positive light that the band manages to cast over so many difficult stories of hardship and tragedy, and they undoubtedly have a knack for translating those trials into a celebratory story of life.
The Lone Bellow
will play at Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City
on March 2nd, 2020. Come out with us that night for one of the most entertaining stage performances you’ve ever experienced!
Keep up with The Lone Bellow here
It’s often said that music is a universal language, but even so it’s rare to see a group that represents that so literally. Progressive-indie electronic group Me & the Monster all came together when they met at their shared university in Berlin, but they possess an additional layer that sets them apart from the typical cliche of starting a band in college; the 4 musicians all hail from different countries.
While most bands start off arguing about when they’re going to rehearse or who’s going to bring snacks, this group had to immediately face an obstacle that most would never even consider; figuring out how to deal with the cultural and linguistic differences that existed as a result of their varied backgrounds. But luckily, they all had one overwhelmingly important thing in common that transcended these barriers: their love and appreciation for music. Their self-titled EP, dropping January 31st, 2020, is the group’s debut.
The influences of their different homelands come through in their music, and the result is a beautiful melting pot of sounds and ideas. A range of modern influences can be heard in The Monster’s music; Of Monsters and Men seem to show on their indie folk-rock side and Alt-J in their experimental sounds and concepts. The progressive debut EP touches on political issues such as the rapidly-changing coral reefs and the controversial political scenes in the hometowns of some of the band members. Their debut is representative of who the group is and what they stand for, and everything about them supports this; even the name Me & the Monster itself is a take on describing “modern man and his connection to the most original part of himself, the subconscious: his monster.”
The opening track, “My House”, is an introduction into the Monsters’ world, and they waste no time in welcoming their listeners into their melting pot of music. Hearty tribal drums and soulful vocals immediately draw you in; “Greetings / This is the jungle of my feelings” sings vocalist Andrea Trujillo. Here, home exists not as a place but as an idea, as a feeling, and as the people that become home for you when you leave the place you’ve always known. The opening track is the perfect intro to the group, who are all familiar with this concept as they hail from Spain, Venezuela, and Italy and all found unity and this idea of home through their common love for music.
“The Shadow” touches on the concept that the group is named for; the idea of recognizing the monster inside of yourself and the battle that everyone goes through with that. Meanwhile “Give Me Fire” stresses the importance of finding a source of light to keep you fighting through dark times. “Here” is a brightly-colored river of sounds that winds slowly before building into an explosive chorus heavy with tribal drums and echoing harmonies. The passionate political anthem introduces a sense of urgency as the group makes a call to action; “We cannot pretend / That this isn’t real / This is not the end”.
The closer, “Colours” touches on the issue of the damage of the coral reefs as a result of climate change. “It’s in my body / It’s in my bones / I must keep fighting,” Trujillo repeats, her passion for the cause evident in her moving and soulful voice. Smoothly rolling guitar riffs reminiscent of the ocean waves themselves accent the anthemic chorus. Shouting background vocals call for unity as the group reminds listeners of the importance of using music as a channel for activism for important causes.
The debut is a rare case that leaves listeners not only with a crystal clear idea of where the group stands musically, but also politically. While each track shows off a varied side of who the Monsters are and what they’re all about, the EP has a strong feeling of unity and coherence that makes the group’s debut body of work feel strong and memorable.
Keep up with Me & the Monster here.
Indie-pop act DEWR, consisting of songwriter Brian Dawer, is set to release his new EP Dream Pop Is Over on January 31st.
This release differs from his past works because the EP shies away from the regular indie-pop formula. While DEWR’s previous releases seem cluttered and unorganized, Dream Pop Is Over, is anything but.
This 5-song EP flows like a stream of consciousness giving Dewar the space to be honest.
Accompanied by swaying rhythms and dynamic changes, this EP is both unique and listenable. The opening track “Front Line” drops listeners into Dewar’s mind, and every song following continues this exploration. Through these 5 songs, listeners are exposed to Dewar’s inner turmoils as he comes to terms with the idea that you can’t have it all, and that life keeps moving forward.
The EP’s title feels like a play on words. While his other works fall victim to indie-pop tropes of being over digitally-enhanced, Dream Pop Is Over feels natural and organic.
Keep up with DEWR here.
After 35 years in the game, English synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys (comprised of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe) have just released their 14th studio album, Hotspot. The album was recorded primarily at the Hansa Studios in Berlin, which is where the duo has written most of their music over the past ten years. The record is the third and final in a trilogy produced by electro-pop titan Stuart Price (The Killers). While the previous two records seemed to stay in a similar lane, Hotspot does an exceptional job at introducing a little taste of all of the different flavors that keep Pet Shop Boys at the top of their game after so long in the industry. Despite the longevity of their career, the Pet Shop Boys have lost none of their edge, and they deliver in both their trademark wit and lyricism as well as a subtly diverse bag of tricks musically.
The Pet Shop Boys are more than a little deserving of some recognition on their ability to deliver another interesting album after 35 years in the game, and their time here has been anything but insignificant. Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful duo in UK music history, they’ve acquired a staggering 44 UK top-40 hits as well as charting 12 songs on the US Billboard Hot 100. They’re also the fifth most successful act on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart of all Time, only falling behind acts like Madonna and Janet Jackson.
The album’s lead single, “Dreamland”, a collaboration with Olly Alexander of Years and Years, showcases the Pet Shop Boys’ sweet spot. While on the surface the track seems like an up-tempo electro-anthem that feels almost euphoric, it also subtly takes digs at both Brexit and U.S. immigration policies without laying it on with a heavy hand. In the track, Tennant imagines an idyllic land where everyone is welcome and where “you don’t need a visa / you can come and go and still be here”. The track feels both empowered and carefree at the same time and features a larger-than life disco-inspired chorus alongside an intense longing for true freedom.
Tracks like electro funk-pop number “Monkey Business” hit a little different. “We’ve actually written, almost for the first time in our career, a groove song” said Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe in a statement about the song. The lyrics themselves are as delightedly light-hearted and playful as the party track: “Bring me margaritas / Champagne and red wine / We’re gonna have a party / Where we all cross the line / I’m looking for monkey business.” “Wedding in Berlin”, a techno-wedding march mash-up, falls in the same vein. Featuring sections of Mendelssohn’s infamous march itself, it’s for the most part a one-liner (“We’re getting married”) but at the same time feels like it was created with some reflection in mind.
In a surprise twist for a group that has suggested we entertain the idea of banning the acoustic guitar, “Burning the heather” strips back some of the electro layers in exchange for, in an insane twist, what appears to be some lovely acoustic guitar parts (courtesy of The Suede’s Bernard Butler). Folky and fresh, the track is chock-full of deep and compelling lyricism and twinkling sound effects. It’s a refreshing reminder of the diversity of the duo (even if they don’t support the legality of all instruments featured).
is out now and the Pet Shop Boys
will begin a greatest hits tour on May 28th at the O2 Arena in London. Keep up with the duo here