Tennessee-bred indie rock outfit Colony House – expertly comprised of artists Will and Caleb Chapman, Scott Mills, and Parke Cottrell – celebrates the release of their new full-length The Cannonballers today. Equal parts thrilling and entrancing, the album is a wild ride from the intro of the initial track “Landlocked Surf Rock” to the very last notes of “I’m Not Dyin’.” Chapman’s vocals are smooth, the lyrics are relatable, and the indie rock edge is cut slightly with high production quality.
Admits the band: “We tried to stay away from getting stuck on a theme, but I think being back home for such an extended period of time after traveling so hard for the last ten years informed a lot about this album.”
In fact, their home base served as the main inspiration for the album. Says frontman Caleb Chapman: “We got to see the seasons change and experience our home again for the first time in a long time. I think I was falling back in love with Tennessee, and I started revisiting some old memories and old relationships in my head that pertained to certain geographical locations as well as just emotional places I had spent my most formative years.”
We suggest melting into tracks like “One of Those Days” and “Don’t Give Up on Me” when in a contemplative mood, and turning up the volume on tracks like “Landlocked Surf Rock” and the beach-worthy title track.
Los Angeles-based Sara Niemiętz‘s sound has evolved over time, each new release intrinsically captivating. Today, the talented singer/songwriter releases her fourth full-length, an audible treat titled Superman. Explains Sara of the project: “This album is about vulnerability and empowerment. It’s about speaking your piece, shaking off the past, and finding the superhero inside.”
And she’s not messing around. We start off with the sultry, confident track “Locks,” which serves as a ballbuster of an introduction to this particular collection of music. “I Want You” continues on theme, leading with a bass riff that perfectly frames and encourages the rock anthem that follows. Lines like “baby, I’m your type” reinforce the confidence that Niemiętz has built her career around. It’s a brand of badass that we can really rally behind.
Fourth track “Lovely Lies” begins with pure romance, a Spanish-style guitar taking just slightly off-center stage — to the side of the commanding vocals. Bongos seep into the mix, solidifying a new energy to this piece of the album. In a very cohesive manner, “Fill Me Up” begins slowly, reminiscent of a slightly more soulful Norah Jones, in all honesty.
“Four Walls” is a beautiful track that speaks to the weight of the pandemic and our collective stresses over the past several years. The soundscape feels organic, with gorgeous sound effects that make this song perfect for the end of an invigorating yoga practice. While “Come to Me” continues at a similar clip, “Names” drops with so much attitude you almost can’t handle it. “Keep an Eye” goes back to a more meandering pace, with a speed up – and captivating instrumental solos – later in the track.
“GOODx3” explores the silver linings to breakups, the things you learn, and the brightness that can shine through the “cracks.” It’s one of our favorites on the album, both regarding the instrumental composition and the lively vocals. The title track explores the many facets a person can have, even if they seem one-dimensional in your life’s story. Sara sings of the support that she can provide in love. “Every Light” continues in a similar vein, as she expresses her adoration for a romantic interest.
“Words” comes in heavier than its predecessors, a different level of rock with an added layer of psychedelic ambiance. The album ends with “The Dimming,” a self-reflective assessment that will ring very highly relatable for many. A lesson in perspective, it is a graceful ending to an album we truly enjoyed from beginning to end.
Folk-led, genre-blending musician Mike Pope has, arguably, been one of Southern California’s best-kept secrets for years. He has certainly shared his talents by making the rounds at venues around San Diego, but it took some time before local record label Blind Owl could get him into a studio. There, he had so much material to work with that this week he released not only his debut album Songs For People (High & Low), but a bonus sophomore album titled Ripening (Ain’t It Strange).
Songs For People (High & Low) is a more self-reflective album, dancing beautifully through the speakers with its haunting melodies, striking lyrics, and captivating musicianship. From the very first lines of literal self-reflective first track “Mirror,” through the slightly quicker pace of “Steeped Cracked Rocks” and into the meandering “Teach To Sow,” the listener is transported to a slower, quieter neck of the woods. The album itself continues at a beautiful, calm clip, the compositions as though the music is physically leading us into autumn nights with friends and family.
If you are looking for a particularly complex bit of picking, “St. Augustine” will breathe life into that craving. And while the 11-track album provides a particularly pleasant audible journey, taking the time to listen to “Maryanne,” “Maryanne (Again),” and “Maryanne (Again and Again)” will light a special fire in your heart.
Dropping into the second album Ripening (Ain’t It Strange), you can tell that what’s to come will be equally pleasing. The heavier instrumentals and incorporation of more rock-focused compositions make for a completely different soundscape. While we were absolutely delighted by the percussion in the vocal-less second track “Homunculus,” the fuzzier sound to “My Spirit Orbits” makes it the perfect track to bop to on vinyl with the windows open, autumn breeze flowing through.
Ripening feels, at its core, a little edgier, but still carries a similar warmth to its sister album, stirring energy and acute want for community leading into the colder months. Colder months if you, for instance, live anywhere BUT perpetually 70-something degree San Diego.
Take some time to play in the soundscape of both albums. Now that Mike Pope has found his way out of the San Diego-specific woodwork, we’d love to maintain a mainline to his work worldwide. If ever there were an opportunity to support and encourage an artist to head back into the studio sometime soon, this is it.
As heartbreaking as the dissolution of an artistic endeavor is, Turkuaz couldn’t have done it more gracefully and completely than they did. Today, they released two albums – a total of 26 songs – within two overarching genres, conveying two concepts that fall hand-in-hand. Paradiso and Apollyon.
“The very big picture concept is that Heaven and Hell are two human constructs. The only place that they really exist is right here on earth, and which one you inhabit depends largely on how you conduct yourself and what you choose to believe,” explains Brandwein. “Life isn’t as simple as black or white, this or that. It’s not binary. We’re all a little bit of both… Beautiful and tragic chaos.”
Paradiso opens with a very alien appeal. Not only is the song titled “Strange People (Strange Times)”, but the vocals layered in with the synth action and sound effects make it feel especially otherworldly. A literal manifestation of the words in the track, it is a powerful opener to one of the two releases.
Turkuaz continues with this disposition – an effortless blend of upbeat synth-driven pop and standout vocals – throughout, guiding the audience through an oft-autotuned adventure of sorts. Favorites from this release include “Shakin’ in My Sheets”, steadily-paced “Rewind”, and literal disco dream “Disconnect in the Discotéque“.
Apollyon follows suit in its substance, however, its sound exists in a completely different realm. Funk-inspired and flavorfully layered, they approached this release as a full band in a room together. You can feel the party atmosphere palpably in the twelve-track album’s span. Favorites include “The Ever Watchful Eye” and leisurely “Pleasure and the Pain.”
Turkuaz’s Dave Brandwein is now focusing on work with New Originals and solo music under the moniker Band For Sale. Taylor Shell is now a member of Ghost Light, and the two plan to collaborate more in the future.
Al Olender is a songstress from upstate New York, with a knack for unraveling our biggest fears and emotions in her own words. As recent years have forced her to get to know herself on a deeper level, her music stages itself as borderline therapy for those of us who are muscling through tough times as well. Her first full length–aptly titled Easy Crier–is out now, and we implore you to experience it with your own ears.
“All I Do is Watch TV” has a title we can all get behind after being locked away during a pandemic, but the song itself is so unimaginably magnetic, and such a beautiful way to open this initial full-length of hers. The song itself is about dealing with the loss of a loved one, found in lines like “I read a book on grief, it told me to lay in bed.” Second track “Keith”–named after her older brother, who was lost too soon–is a testament to a life gone awry. Incredibly specific, yet viscerally relatable. She continues in this pattern with the delicate “Liar Liar,” which transports you to these moments and this intense feeling of melancholy.
“Djouliet” picks the pace up a bit, with notably light piano that makes the track, quite honestly, perfect for the summer months. The title track is infinitely relatable, as Olender discusses her experiences as though they are fleeting moments, passing her by on a screen. Her detachment–even during the pleasant memories–is incredibly notable, especially for those who have experienced any level of depression in their lives. And yet, she sings it all with an ethereal disposition, as though it hasn’t affected her at all.
But that is, perhaps, Oldender’s greatest superpower, as revealed throughout all ten tracks of this release. Her beautiful vocals feel untouched by any negativity, a slight release from the chokehold of seriousness that has seemed to enshrine us these past few months especially. And yet the subject matter is so much more complex. “Forget Your Number” is bittersweet and a bit vengeful, and we’re absolutely in love with it. “Neptune Pool” and “Minnesota Waltz” follow suit, employing silence between the notes to encourage a more emotional pull. “The Age” picks the pace up and layers in more instruments alongside boosted optimism. It serves as a quick one-two punch to get your heart rate up, almost blindsiding you with the return to delicacy in the final track “Mean.”
Keep up with Al Olender and her endearing music here.
Athens-based indie rock outfit Monsoon – expertly comprised of Sienna Chandler and Joey Kegel – has proven its propensity for balancing delicate harmonies with hard-hitting lines. The duo’s dynamic is energetic, edgy, and self-aware in a way that we haven’t exactly experienced before. And their new album Ghost Party is more evidence of all of that.
The first track “Walking Legs” seems to get you on your feet in just that way, starting out slow and careful and building into a cacophony of epic sound. “Third Voice” brings in more pop elements, an introspective track about change and hope at its core. The title track delves into the brokenness Chandler felt during a particularly dark time, ending with Haunted Mansion-esque energy. (If you can’t quite relate even now, having lived during an insufferable pandemic, then kudos.)
The meandering nature of “Don’t Move” is almost a palate cleanser sound-wise, though the lyrics seem to question preconceived notions in a less-than-subliminal way. “O Brother” continues with morbid metaphors, while the one-minute-long “Dark Colossus” discusses a unique love, laced with the same darkness as its predecessors.
The soundscape of “Submission” feels like it hopped right out of an indie film like 500 Days of Summer, while “Nightshop” has more of an underground, pop-punk sound to it. Ninth track “Red Blood” keeps that punk spirit alive, at times akin to the haunting chant of “red rum, red rum” from that quintessential horror flick we all know and love. The composition sounds more like a spell being cast, but that doesn’t vary much from many of the tracks on this release.
While “Pig Pen” is not about our favorite Peanuts character, it does introduce whirring guitar parts that make us want to headbang all day. The album rounds everything out perfectly with the eleventh track “Beetlebee,” which starts with a whisper and ends with an absolute bang. In fact, the song feels much like the progression of the album as a whole. We’re particularly fond of it, and can’t wait to see the live performance.
Get your first listen to Ghost Party on February 18th.