the slow readers club, the joy of the return

the slow readers club, the joy of the return

Manchester pop band The Slow Readers Club has recently released new single “Jericho” ahead of their highly anticipated new album, The Joy of the Return, out today via Modern Sky UK, which will be followed by a UK/European tour.

“Jericho’s our ‘sunniest’ track to date, and hopefully a good indicator of the variety people can expect from the album,” says frontman Aaron Starkie. The track is written from the perspective of his teenage self and focuses on the moment when you’re on the brink of a new relationship and you start to surrender yourself to the other person. It’s one of the bands’ personal favorites, and it’s easy to see why. Infectiously upbeat and featuring a bright blend of guitars and propulsive drums, the song is both danceable and anthemic. Ah, young love!

The album’s first single, “All I Hear” was recorded at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool produced by long-standing collaborator Phil Bulleyment. The Joy Of The Return marks a significant change in the band’s process, with their extensive touring allowing them time to write and develop tracks and arrangements through sound checks and back-of-van jams.

Keep up with The Slow Readers Club here.

ded, mannequin eyes

ded, mannequin eyes

On March 12th, DEDthe four-piece nu-metal powerhouse from Phoenix, AZ, released a 2-track mini EP titled Mannequin Eyes – and it’s worth screaming about. Not one to be missed, this heart-pounding release is features radio hit “A MANNEQUIN IDOL (Lullaby)” as well as premiere single “Eyes Sewn Shut”.

The elements present in Mannequin Eyes represent the best of DED’s idiosyncrasies, including riffs that move at the speed of light, haunting vocals that invoke the fear of God, and messages that scorn the replicated and mundane. But with track “A MANNEQUIN IDOL (Lullaby)”, DED manages to weave aspects of three distinct genres into one robust arrangement, not unlike multiple personas battling over the mouthpiece in conveying DED’s distaste. Bearing themes of disgust for the conveyor-belt machine of the modern music industry and all things ingenuine, vocalist Joe Cotela leads the wind-tunnel dynamic of this thrashing headbanger by employing a refreshing variation vocal styles that push the affect of the track over the listener’s head and through the roof. Through verses of this track, the transitions between intense, horrifying whispers to screams representative of classic “metal” reveals DED’s talent within their wheelhouse – But Cotela’s switch to a resounding pop-format chorus marked by vocals more reminiscent of modern alternative rock display the band’s versatility in managing a tidal wave of emotion as it pulls back and forth, over and over.

“Eyes Sewn Shut” is closer to a standard nu-metal/metalcore screamer, with lyrics like “I won’t be silenced, don’t make me violent / You get what you deserve”. This track continues DED’s message of rejecting the reality forced upon the many by the few, and like “A MANNEQUIN IDOL (Lullaby)”, features a chorus that has leanings toward modern alternative rock laced between its slamming accompaniments from guitarist David Ludlow, bassist Kyle Koelsch, and drummer Matt Reinhard.

Mannequin Eyes is DED’s first release since 2017 breakout album MIS-AN-THROPE, which pushed the ceiling with a sky-high stream count from the moment of its inception. Prior to the album’s debut, the group released three singles in anticipation: See “FMFY”, “Anti-Everything”, and “Dead to Me”.

DED is set to release another full length album in 2020. Starting March 24, the group will tour with In This Moment, Black Veil Brides and Raven.

Keep up with DED here:
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yumi zouma, truth or consequences

yumi zouma, truth or consequences

Indie pop wizards Yumi Zouma’s highly-anticipated new album, Truth or Consequences, was released today via Polyvinyl Record Co. Produced by Yumi Zouma themselves with mixing by Jake Aron (Solange, Snail Mail), TOC is chock-full of contemplation, duality, and the hard truth wrapped in a soft blanket.

The album is the group’s third but the first at their new label home at Polyvinyl Records. The narratives? Heartbreak (both platonic and romantic), emotional distance (both real and imagined), disillusionment, and being out of reach, and while there are rarely definitive answers to any of these tough subjects, there’s an undeniable release that comes from speaking your truth (even if it’s just to yourself).

Lead single “Right Track / Wrong Man” hits YZ’s sweet spot, giving listeners that trademark dancing-through-a-dream, shimmering sound that they seem to deliver so consistently and with such ease. Synths bubble behind Burgess and Simpson as they weave their way through smooth-toned beats with their sweet and feathery vocal blend. According to front woman Christie Simpson, the song stems from “a place of uncertainty- of not knowing if you should stay in a slightly unfulfilling relationship, or branch out and make the most of the youth you have left”, a problem that many young people feel burdened with after having spent a considerable chunk of their fleeting time be young with one person. Simpson talks about this track better than anyone else could, finishing the statement with a sentence that could serve as their slogan; “This is our dance floor anthem to the confusion of living through your twenties.”

“Lonely After” is a dream pop riddle of self-discovery. The contemplative opening track somehow manages to be a sparkling ode to pop while feeling as though it’s enveloped in a cloud, unbelievably soft and blurry around the edges in the most satisfying way. It floats across the auditory senses, pulling listeners in to get wrapped in the blanket of indie dream-pop comfort that is Truth or Consequences.

“Southwark” dances across twinkly piano melodies and breathy vocals. “Sage” steps off the white and fluffy clouds that Yumi Zouma exists in and floats into the starry night sky, delicately monotonous vocals over a driving synth-beat feeling like the soundtrack to late night drives and contemplation.

“Cool for a Second” is a lyrically sharp bright spot of synth pop that almost never happened. Bassist Charlie Ryder gave some background on the album centerpiece in a statement. “The song was demoed in Los Angeles and then long forgotten, destined for the scrap heap. A spark of inspiration from Josh in the introduction reestablished that for us, the most conspicuous of melodies are often hidden in modest beginnings.” It touches on isolation and the ensuing fallout in a letter to the past, and provides YZ fans with another one of those your-twenties-are-confusing-as-hell dance floor anthems that most lost souls in that time of their life could desperately use. Look no further, 20-29 year olds, we have the music for you!

Yumi Zouma has a talent for shielding hard truths with soft tones, providing glimpses into lucid romanticism across a dreamscape of dance-able beats and poignant lyricism. Truth or Consequences is a testament to the success of the band’s approach – a united body of melody that mines the spaces in between.

Yumi Zouma’s Truth of Consequences is out March 13th via Polyvinyl Records.

YUMI ZOUMA TOUR DATES
03/07 – London, UK @ Rough Trade East (In-Store)
03/10 – London, UK @ Moth Club [SOLD OUT]
03/12 – Washington, DC @ DC9 # [SOLD OUT]
03/13 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right # [SOLD OUT]
03/14 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle # [SOLD OUT]
03/18 – Austin, TX @ The Parish [SXSW]
03/19 – Austin, TX @ Seven Grand & Las Perlas [SXSW]*
03/19 – Austin, TX @ Banger’s [SXSW]
03/20 – McAllen, TX @ Cine El Rey @ DREAMS
03/21 – Dallas, TX @ Blue Light @ NSFWknd
03/24 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop #
03/26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge # [SOLD OUT]
03/27 – Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge # [SOLD OUT]
03/28 – Boise, ID @ El Korah Shrine @ Treefort Music Festival
03/29 – Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Festival – Main Stage
# w/ Magdalena Bay
* DJ set

the districts, you know i’m not going anywhere

the districts, you know i’m not going anywhere

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.

the goners, good mourning

the goners, good mourning

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.

whiskerman, kingdom illusion

whiskerman, kingdom illusion

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.

TOUR DATES
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)