Four-piece indie rock outfit The Districts have just released their new album, You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere, the album that almost never happened.
After nearly 200 shows and two years of touring in support of their 2017 effort, Popular Manipulations, the band found themselves both professionally and personally exhausted. And, with the shadow of needing to create a new album looming over them, the Districts started questioning everything.
In a press release, front man Rob Grote said “It felt like much of my world had reached such a pitch that all I could do was try to tune it out. I felt really uncertain about the future of the band and super detached from much of what I used to identify with, on a personal level and with our music. I was thinking, ‘Do I want to keep doing music?’ ‘Do I want to keep doing it in this context?”. So Grote did what any musician having an existential crisis would do; he holed himself up in his bedroom and began writing, not necessarily for The Districts, but to get excited about creating again. It was here that he found the space and freedom he needed to be creative again. He ended up with a batch of 32 songs, and while he never intended them for The Districts, when he finally showed them to the band, they loved them. Those 32 were cut to 11, and thus You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere was born.
Album opener “”My Only Ghost” is an ode to secrets and memories with ones we’ve lost. The synth almost overpowers the vocals, (which have a Bon Iver kind of feel) but it works, giving the track a lo-fi feel. Between this, echo-y clapping, and thickly layered shout-y vocals, the song feels almost like chilling cult-like chant.
“Hey Jo” is the lead single from the album and the definite standout. A circus of sound, this piece is thickly textured, but the song is incredibly well put together. Credit to producer Dave Fridmann is owed here, whose mix expertly layered the many elements into a cohesive whole. This track floats on plucked guitars and airy vocals before kicking into a fiery chorus with Grote repeating “Fuck my head.”
“Cheap Regrets”, is an electrifying disco number on the surface, but the lyrical content dives into nihilism and the shadows of consciousness that lurk in our minds. This one has all the bright and shiny qualities that we love in a dance number while letting everyone listening still feel angsty as hell. Of the song, Grote says; “This song is a criticism of the divisions that result from a self-oriented society and an attempt to transcend them, while simultaneously being an example of these very ideas. The song is the statue to the self; it is about itself.”
Upbeat and full of glittery guitar, “Velour and Velcro” is a love letter to the unknown future we’re all rocketing towards.“Changing” ebbs and flows, enjoying sweet, quiet moments of reflection and questioning before launching into electrifying choruses. “Descend” is a deceptively chipper folksy string plucked number that deals with death and separation.
Closer “4th of July” strips it back and feels sweetly reflective. Hand picked guitar and sliding whistling ride over Grote’s breathy and thoughtful vocals. It feels like a cross-country road trip, and not just because he sings about his own to Sante Fe. It’s a nice full circle moment of peace and closure.
You Know I’m Not Going Anywhere is out everywhere on March 13th via Fat Possum.
Nordic metal rockers The Goners are a group that rose from the ashes of former rock bands Salem Pot and Yavan, and they have now come together to form a new group and release a 10 track album entitled Good Mourning. Think fuzz-drenched 60’s garage meets 70’s doom, but add a hearty dose of punk rock, and you’ve got The Goners.
For their debut, The Goners cast off the influence and sounds of their previous bands and manage to create a new vein of their own in a post-rock world. They adopt a raw approach and aren’t afraid to break hard rock and metal molds, and it pays off.
Album opener “Are You Gone Yet?” is a rich track heavy with classic metal guitar riffing. This one holds a clear influence of 70’s rock style. The Goners then slow things down a bit for “High, Low and Never In Between”, a vibrant punk groove. “World of Decay” might deceive listeners in the first chunk as it initially feels indie rock, but it moves back into The Goners sweet spot of classic hard rock. This track also features cool jiving guitar on the refrains. “Evil (Is Not Enough)” exists in a similar vein of rhythm. Brash cut “The Sickening” is a chaos-rich 2 minute energy blast, heavy with distortion.
70’s hard rock prevails again with “Down Out”. This one rocks out with clanging grooves and ever-circling bridges and even throws off expectations by adding in horns in the second half before ending with an Iron Maiden-style rave out. “You Better Run” is a classic pounding head banger with a twist of the delightfully weird. This one features a nice dose of eccentric synth.
“Dead in the Saddle”, a Dead Moon cover, is essentially a sinister fun 5 minute riff-off. The track is intricate and catchy and (of course) laden with reverb-laced guitars. The shouty vocals and hand-clap inviting rhythm makes this closing cover a noteworthy addition to the album.
Good Mourning will be available everywhere on March 13th, 2020 via RidingEasy Records. Pre-order is available here.
Oakland rockers Whiskerman have just dropped their fourth studio album, Kingdom Illusion, which the band describes (rightfully so) as a “rock and roll vision quest”. Known for their ambitious songwriting, thunderous live show, and acute lyricism, the group is now emerging at the forefront of the revitalization of the Bay Area’s psychedelic and festival scenes. Frontman Graham Patzner (who’s rumored to be of the underworld himself) leads the group, which is rock-and-roll on the surface but rooted in the classic, psych, and glam rock traditions. Patzner is responsible for vocals, guitar, violin, and keyboards, and he’s backed by Will Lawrence on bass and mandolin, Dan Schwartz on drums, Charles Lloyd on guitar and sitar, and Jeremy Lyon on guitar. And if you think that you can gauge what they sound like based on that information, let me assure you; you haven’t the slightest clue.
The two lead singles, distortion-heavy rage track “Belly of the Beast” and physch-synth defiance number “Fuck Yeah” may give first-time Whiskerman consumers the idea that this band exists primarily in this vein of hard rock. And when I say hard rock, I’m talking your classic foot-stomping, heart-pounding, head-banging, parents-crying-over-their-teenager’s-newfound-rebellion hard rock.. You get it.
However, this is not the case here.
Album opener “Rattlesnake” begins in a tranquil piano ballad featuring gently strummed guitar chords and angelic falsetto guiding us through a lush forest of strings. The track is 6 minutes long and at the halfway mark the tone notably shifts, and Freddie Mercury-like vocals are traded for something more in the territory of Alex Turner. Sweet violins and languid piano are swapped for a quicker tempo and the kind of instrumentation you’d expect on a hard rock record, but as soon as you’ve settled back in, they fluidly bend back, rocketing back into the art-rock heavens. Color me impressed, these boys have range.
“Villains” brings an unexpected but welcome tinge of soul to the mix. The extremely heartfelt number feels both romantic and a little defeated. Bright, shiny, and teetering on sensory overload, it’s almost overwhelming, but in a manic-tinged triumphant sort of way. Think anthemic rock, but with psychedelic elements. Power dominates everything; it is present in the writing, the band, and definitely in Patzner’s voice, which possesses a beautifully raw intensity that is an absolute constant throughout the record, whether he’s scream-singing impassioned or tiptoeing across his ridiculously capable falsetto.
Operatic art-rock piece “Be Real” is a nearly seven minute journey that only Patzner himself could explain. “‘Be Real’ is a rock ‘n’ roll odyssey,” says the frontman. “A sacred jester drags a priest out from a church to take him on a psychedelic journey, revealing to him his hypocrisy and lack of separation to the rest of this world of clowns.” Drama is not something this band has to reach for; they exist in it.
“The Great Unknown” fluidly blends hard rock and psych, keeping the band’s effortless flexibility on constant display. “Something About Love” slows it down and gives everyone a minute or three-and-a-half to breathe before projecting us back into another dimension for the closer. Have no fear though, this track still holds tightly to the sonic jungle of sound that makes the record so damn cool in this brief moment of tranquility.
Not shockingly, the band ends on a dramatic and (of course) impressive note with the title track. The nearly 8-minute closer is a roller coaster of a ride to the pinnacle of rock glory, skillfully and sneakily pulling its many layers together. Strings swell, the sitar does whatever sitars do, and Patzner’s insane range soars up to the kingdom he’s singing of, backed by what could only be a chorus of angels. This illusion is painted with every color of the rainbow.
Kingdom Illusion is out everywhere now.
03.07•The Grove House (Mariposa, CA)
03.18•Satellite (Los Angeles, CA)
03.19•Last Exit Live (Phoenix, AZ)
03.22•Lost Lake (Denver, CO)
03.25•Rye (Salt Lake City, UT)
03.26•Treefort Fest (Boise, ID)
03.27•Treefort Fest (Boise, ID)
03.28•Treefort Fest (Boise, ID)
Today, London-based singer-songwriter Kate Miller — under the moniker ROCH — releases her debut album Via Media. (ROCH comes from the name of patron saint St. Roch. This saint-like poise is incorporated into her music.) This record is defined by space – in the atmospheric feel of the music and the lyrical content of sense of place. Sonically, listeners feel as if they are floating into open space, but the emotional factor of Miller’s voice keeps them grounded in the space of that song’s context.
Miller’s voice, by the way, at times brings us feels of a 90’s goddess, and then sprawls out into the atmosphere as ethereally as we’ve ever encountered. “I Love To You” is one of our favorite tracks, instilling in us hope for the arts community, as this is some of the best lyricism we’ve experienced in a hot second.
Via Media is a back and forth of sorts that allows listeners to be transfixed and transported to view these topics from an outsider’s perspective. The robust nature of the compositions is compelling, and leaves us wanting more. Don’t believe us? Try the EP on for size now!
by meredith schneider + kendal chandler
English singer-songwriter Anna Calvi has just released Hunted, a re-working of seven of the tracks off of her 2018 critically acclaimed album, Hunter, where she explored sexuality and breaking the laws of gender conformity. The album earned her a third consecutive Mercury Prize nomination and made her the first solo artist to achieve this feat.
In between touring, Calvi revisited her original recordings for Hunter and was drawn by how she found they offered “an intimate and private view of the songs’ initial intentions”. “These recordings capture the very moment I first wrote these songs, and recorded them on my own, in my attic studio,” she said in a statement. Calvi wanted to build on that feeling, and thus, Hunted was born. For the re-working she stripped the songs from the record back to their bones, letting the focus be on vocals, guitar, and contributions from a cast of talented artists that she recruited to help her on the acoustic project.
The companion album brings a new element of rawness and allows the songs to shine in a different patch of light. Bringing focus to the delicately-crafted composition from Hunter, Hunted lets the work of past and present meld together, creating something new and beautiful.
“Swimming Pool” opens the project with ethereal light. A siren song from another world, this version, like most on Hunted, exists in the same vein as the original but relies more heavily on vocals to craft and carry the track, trading polished for raw. Julia Holter joins Calvi on this one and is responsible for the heavenly choral arrangement that lifts it into another dimension.
“Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” serves as the lead single and features Australian singer Courtney Barnett. Barnett contributes grounding harmonizations with her trademark deadpan vocals and adds a new level of savvy style to the song. This version sees the instrumentation scaled back but loses none of the energy present on the original, letting the masterful guitars battle with the women for the limelight.
Charlotte Gainsburg helps gently breathes new life into “Eden” with her whispery vocalizations and Joe Talbot of IDLES does the opposite on “Wish”, channeling fire and fury to amazingly take a stripped back version of the track to a new level of intensity.
Calvi manages to take an artful record and let her fans consume it in a completely different way. She brings quiet elements from Hunter that could have easily gone unappreciated and overlooked out of shadow and into focus and remains open, honest, and unafraid to let other artists paint her work with their own colors while keeping its essence intact. While the threat of overworking their material could have been an issue for other artists, it’s just not present in this case. Calvi isn’t stuck holding onto the past; she’s just re-writing it.
Hunted is now out everywhere via Domino and will be supported by a new stretch of North American tour dates.
Anna Calvi 2020 Tour Dates:
01/31 – London, UK @ Windmill Brixton (Independent Venue Week)
02/11 – Paris, FR @ Ground Control Gare de Lyon
03/30 – Quebec City, QC @ Palais Montcalm
04/01 – Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
04/02 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
04/05 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
04/06 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade NYC
04/09 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
04/15 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
08/06 – Haldern, DE @ Haldern Pop Festival
09/19 – Hamburg, DE @ Reeperbahn Festival
Italian-British singer-songwriter Julia Bardo releases EP Phase, which is a piece of work that is centered by the idea of writing out your emotions. Bardo says she writes because “for me, music is about healing what is hurt inside of me. I heal by writing and talking about what troubles me”.
Phase examines the intricacies of trauma and of triumph, each track is written like a journal entry filled with observation. These observations examine the every day changing world through Bardo’s eyes. She captures her work as snippets of who she is at that moment, where she plans to go next, and where she has been. It is all a direct reflection of her life, and for that we are very grateful to witness songs with the raw sincerity of tracks like “Please Don’t Tell Me” and “Lonely Morning”.
Being influenced by Italian music of the 60’s and modern day musicians, Bardo creates a space that shines a light on her homeland of Italy, and her musical future. This 4 track EP was created to amaze, and we hope you get a moment to enjoy it in its entirety as well. Check out the first two tracks off the release below!
Phase is out March 6th. Keep up with Julia Bardo here.
Written by Kendal Chandler + Meredith Schneider