Month: December 2015

Album Review: “New Cells” by Dead Boy Robotics

Dead Boy Robotics, a quickly moving electro-rock dark wave group from Edinburgh, Scotland, is the work of Gregor McMillan, Mike Bryant, and Paul Bannon. After releasing their self-titled debut EP back in 2011, the boys have laid down the synths and software that carried their first record so heavily. In exchange, they’ve picked up more tangible instruments, which in this day and age is becoming rarer. Their new record, New Cells, is defined by rich and charred bass and rhythm guitar lines, weighty drum riffs, and soaring vocals that deliver the lyrics with true conviction.

On this record the band explores introspection, fear, mistrust and end of the world all the while maintaining an incredibly unique punk-infused electro-rock dark wave sound. Each track gushes effortlessly into the next.

The opening cut, “Lost”, introduces itself initially as something the record is not. The first 35 seconds of “Lost” sound like the beginnings of an electronic record when all of a sudden the listener is launched onto the fast track to the heart of Dead Boy Robotics. From this point on, the record never looks back.

“Echo” maintains that tight grip, beginning with the darkest, roughest most unforgiving bass line. In fact, it’s refreshing how decadent and imperative the bass guitar is on this record. The bass guitar isn’t just offering cadence, tempo and rhythm, it’s directing the melody. Check out “Echo”:

 

The title track, “New Cells”, plays tricks on the ears and is one of my favorites. It is the perfect quantity of restraint and calm mixed with just the right amount of darkness, intimidation and volume. When listening on a good pair of headphones, the sounds bounce from ear to ear and slightly distorted vocals and a gentle rhythmic heartbeat lure you in until the song explodes.

The most passive track on the record is the track, “Spells”, which only appears subdued when compared to the rest of the album. It still upholds the intensity established at the start of New Cells. The concluding track, “Ships”, teases the listener with calm, echoing instrumentals and distant vocals but as is the Dead Boy Robotics’ way, these sonic ideas are fused with pounding drums and gritty guitars that leave the listener anything but bored.

New Cells and Dead Boy Robotics’ debut self-titled record are both available on iTunes. New Cells was recorded in Edinburgh at Tape, mastered in New York City and released on the label, Brothers Grimm.

Interview: Logan, Utah’s September Say Goodbye

After taking some time away from music, fans of Logan, UT band, September Say Goodbye begged them to play shows again. Unable to resist the enthusiasm of their fans and with new inspiration, this 6-piece alternative rock band has now released their newest and debut full length album, Some Beginnings End.  Recently, the bass player, Nick left the band so the six piece is temporarily a five piece that consists of Rachel Quillen and Zack Garner doing the Vocals, Colin Geslin and Brady Martin on the Guitar and Suzy Rashid on Drums.

I asked the band a number of questions that span everything from the stress of releasing new material, how 6 people can write music creatively and collectively and many other topics. Four of the six members took the time to answer my questions to give readers some serious insight into September Say Goodbye.

Before you get reading, check out my favorite track from their new record:

 

MFL: There was some time between the release of your debut EP You’re Lucky It’s the Weekend and your debut full length, Some Beginnings End. What happened in that time period between the two release? It seems there were some ups and downs!

 Rachel: We had some members coming in and moving out of the band. Our original drummer actually quit the night we released the EP, we are still good friends with him though.

 Colin: Our drummer from YLITW quit shortly after the EP was released, so we were in search of a drummer for a while and then we felt the need to add another guitarist. Add in the fact that we were paying for all the recording/mixing/printing for the ep out of our own pocket, it ended up taking close to 2 years. We were also trying to write new and entertaining music that our fans would actually enjoy and would be able to see the progression from our first try.

 Zack: We had some lineup changes during this time and also were trying to decide what tracks to bring over from the EP and writing the new songs that would be on the album. Also recording took a long time due to scheduling and the studio we were recording at switched locations half way through the project. Asbestos was found in the building and the studio was condemned. We ended up finishing the album in our producer’s basement.

 

MFL: How was You’re Lucky It’s the Weekend received both locally in Logan and Utah? Were there blips of recognition across the country as well?

 Rachel: I don’t know about across the country I know we sold a lot of copies and people told us they loved it, it was also reviewed really positively in SLUG magazine.

 Colin: We are pretty well known locally so the EP release show had a pretty decent turn out. People seemed to enjoy the EP, it was very well recorded from our buddies at Tuesday Sound Studio. The EP sold decently well at the show and on Itunes, which did garnish a few hits nationally.

 Zack: I think it was locally successful! We sold quite a few copies of the album and I think it was recognized as a big improvement from the EP. Also SLUG magazine in Salt Lake City gave them pretty good reviews which was pretty awesome to hear! And it was played a few times on the radio which was pretty cool!

 

MFL: Did the band feel different pressures when recording the EP vs the full length? I’m interested in whether there is more stress or pressure associated with releasing your first set of tracks (your EP) or mores stress associated with expectations for following releases.

 Rachel: The full length was really stressful because we were trying to finish it before our guitarist moved to California and we had some musical differences so the writing process was pretty difficult.

 Colin: I think recording the full length was way more stressful. The EP was sort of “Hey let’s get these songs we have on a disc for people to listen to.” We really had nothing to live up to as well. When we actually set out to record a full length album I think there was far more pressure. We were writing new music and our EP was pretty well received, suddenly we had all this pressure of putting out new songs that people would like as much. The volume of work itself was just so march larger as well.

 Zack: I think I felt more pressure because I wanted the full length album to go above and beyond the EP. I wanted to give better recordings and better vocals on my end, for the fans. I also wanted it to be bigger and better for myself as well. Just to be really proud of what was accomplished.

 

MFL: Tell me about the hiatus you took after the release of Some Beginnings End. What caused the break from September Say Goodbye and what inspired you all getting back together?

 Rachel: A couple members moved away, and we weren’t sure if we should continue it, but we got asked to play a few shows and we love to play so we put together some set lists and then essentially I think I remembered the magic of performing and I wanted to try to get it going again.

 Colin: After our CD released our drummer moved to SLC and our other Guitarist moved to California. We had done the replacing members thing before and it takes time. I think we were all sort of burnt out from all the recording and shows we had played up until that point. As far as Rachel, Zack, and I were concerned I don’t think September Say Goodbye was over after the show. I think we knew we’d be doing more but we all sort of needed a break. Our manager sort of pushed us along, he booked us a few shows the summer following our hiatus which sort of forced as to look for more people. We eventually were able to add Suzy and Brady who are both amazing. I think as a band we still have a bit more to say.

 Zack: Right after we released the album our drummer and one of our guitarist moved away and we weren’t sure if we were gonna continue on with the band. I think we were inspired to find some new members and keep working at it because we all love music and wanted to keep performing. That’s what it was for me at least. It’s hard to beat that rush of performing on stage in front of an excited audience. Also venues kept wanting us to play so it was hard to refuse.

 

MFL: Where did the tracks on Some Beginnings End come from? What inspired the lyricism and melodic content?

 Rachel: Myself, Zack and Colin write all the lyrics, most of the things I write come from an experience of some sort of sadness, but sometimes they are just love stories at the end of the world…..most times.

 Colin: Some Beginnings End is really a collective of everything September Say Goodbye. There are a lot of different styles musically, which came from simply having so many different types of people. As far as the lyrics go, I wrote the lyrics to two or three songs, and Zack and Rachel wrote the rest. The lyrics were mainly inspired by our own personal lives, there is no political agenda or some underlying theme, though when we took a step back and really looked at the lyrics and cd we discovered that most of the songs were about this boy and girl during the end of the world. There is a concept there if you listen carefully you can grasp.

Zack: I think the whole album to me feels like a love story at the end of the world. A lot of my lyrics I wrote were designed under this concept. I always wanted there to be elements of a softer side, and then the darker side of a world coming to an end. That’s what it was for me.

 

MFL: What is the songwriting process like with a 6-piece band? Is it something that happens collectively or are the ideas and work of one or two of you?

Rachel: It’s both, sometimes two people come with a nearly complete idea and everyone fills in their parts and sometimes we all start from scratch and see what happens, it doesn’t always work, but sometimes it is something amazing.

 Zack: The writing process has been different every time. Sometimes it’s me and Rachel coming up with lyrics that we then write music around. Some songs were created around a guitar riff. September Falls for example was almost completely designed by our drummer and bassist, besides the lyrics. It’s a collaboration of ideas, that we take one person’s ideas and then all build onto it.

 

SSG - Colin, Rachel, Zack, Brady, Suzy

 

MFL: Let’s rewind, how did the 6 of you come together and how did the dynamic or sound change when you lost your original drummer while trying to release Some Beginnings End?

Colin: Zack, Rachel, and I have known each other for years. Originally we just sort of wrote and played acoustic stuff, but eventually added Nick (bassist- Who is actually no longer part of the band as of 12/27/15) and Paden (our drummer from the EP). After Paden left we added Aaron and Preston, both people who tried out to be in the band. Once both Aaron and Preston left we were told about Suzy (our current drummer) by Rachel’s boss at work, and a few of us have known Brady (current second guitarist) for a while. I don’t think the sound particularly changed due to the loss of the drummer while trying to write Some Beginnings End.

Zack: Our original drummer left after the recording of the EP. And then our drummer for Some Beginnings End actually recorded the whole album with us and did play the release show. It wasn’t until after that show that we got a new drummer. Honestly most of us are connected from working at a local movie theater or were introduced by friends with people that worked there. A band of co-workers!

 

MFL: Tell me about what’s happened since the release of your new record in terms of live shows! Have you been playing much around Logan and Utah? Has a tour for 2016 been nailed down yet?

 Colin: We had a few shows over the summer, we played the State Fair and a few other small events. We’ve only have 1 show in Logan since the release of our CD. We aren’t planning any tours for 2016 because I think our focus right now is writing new music. We played the stuff from Some Beginnings End for so long that we want to give our fans something new to listen to and experience. We do plan on playing shows just not a tour.

 

Zack: The album was released in December of 2014 and we didn’t really get back to playing until the summer. At first we found people willing to fill in with us for just a show or two and made due with one guitar. Most of these shows were out of town in Salt Lake City or other surrounding areas. It wasn’t until the last few months that we played Logan shows and it was pretty cool at how fast it spread that we were back together.

 

SSG Acoustic Set at Granary Row in SLC - Colin, Rachel Zack

 

MFL: This is one of my favorite questions to ask. If you could tour with or share the stage with three bands, who would they be?

Rachel: Jimmy Eat World, Twenty One Pilots, Paramore

 Colin: For me the answer is Paramore, 30 Seconds To Mars, and probably Foo Fighters. I think our music is very heavily inspired by Paramore, at least a lot of what I write is. They have been my favorite band for a long time. 30 Seconds To Mars and Foo Fighters mainly because of Jared Leto and Dave Grohl respectively.

 Zack: The three bands for me would have to be, 30 seconds to mars, any 80’s rock band, perhaps Bon Jovi just cuz my mom would go absolutely nuts! And last but not least probably Coheed and Cambria cuz I’ve loved them since I was young and always envied their story concept that was spread over many albums.

 Brady: Blink-182, Incubus, Linkin Park

Thanks to the band for taking the time to answer my questions! You can find their new record, Some Beginnings End, on iTunes now!

 

 

 

Album review: “Heart Map Rubric” by The Fiction Aisle

Thomas White is no stranger to the music scene. He spent many years working with his brother, Alex White, in The Electric Soft Parade a project that showcased the brothers’ musical versatility. In addition to working with his brother, Thomas has explored solo work and other projects as well and now has expanded the force of his musical endeavors 5-fold from working with his brother and 10-fold from working alone. The Fiction Aisle is White’s latest project and is the work of 10 talented musicians.

 

Thomas White

Louis Macgillivray

Adam Kidd

Alan Grice

Jordan Duggie

Alex White

Gemma Williams

Holly Maya Fitzgerald

Craig Chapman

Heather Urquhart

 

The Fiction Aisle teased the world last year with the release of the single, “Blue” which included the original track and a fistful of remixes. Now the tease is over and you can enjoy a full 12 track record titled, Heart Map Rubric which opens with the team’s debut lick, “Blue.”

 

 

The record is lazy, subdued and patient from start to finish but despite the vocabulary I use to describe it, it’s far from dull. Every track is a sonic journey through jazz, alternative rock, lo-fi and lounge-core. Every track gives the band’s entire host of instruments a chance to shine. Every track blossoms with time, beginning simplistically, easy to digest then the layers of instruments develop thickly, and the innards of each track hold lovely surprises. For example, I thought I’d had “Sleep Tight” figured out until about 2:37 when the chord progression builds and nestles into a brief The Beatles-meet-Wilco interlude.

 

“Each and Every One” and “Fear” are pure and simple. They maintain their low key, lounge-core feel through the entire song while tracks like “What’s A Man To Do” and “The Colour of Morning” are more dynamic, they build up to heightened harmonies and layered instrumentals and fall gently back down, again and again. Then there’s the standalone, “Outskirts”, which to me is 6 minutes of100% alternative/indie soft rock, with no hints of jazz that decorate most of the other songs on the album. Then there’s the epic 8 minute, “The Sea Rolls on Forever.”

 

My favorite observation was when listening to “Love Come Save Me”, I heard something recognizable. The introduction of “Love Come Save Me” wreaks of Pulp’s track, “This is Hardcore” and it’s fantastic. The world needs a bit of reinvented Pulp and I was delighted when I heard a familiar trickling piano line.

 

 

Heart Map Rubric is record is a gem and I’m proud to have it sitting in my musical collection. The lyrics are simultaneously serious, comical, melancholic and celebratory describing love, lust, internal strife and reflection and they sit so very perfectly atop the rich and overflowing instrumentals.

 

The album is out now on Chord Orchard. You can buy it on iTunes, Bandcamp and Amazon now.

 

Gritty power ballad from, Syvia: “Anxious Animal”

In February of 2015, Brooklyn-based band, Syvia, released their latest full length, FWD. Excitingly, they’re teasing us with another mouthwatering single, “Anxious Animal.” Ruth Mirsky’s commanding vocals demand your attention while Richie Moyle pounds out a forceful drum line, Sheldon Cho lays down the bass and gives us those irresistible synths, and Frank Banisi’s wicked guitar riffs pull the track all together. It starts with that incredibly powerful drum line and takes off with reckless abandon:

“Anxious animal how’d you find your way into my heart? Now in my throat clawing all the power out.”

Despite the darker subject matter and the heavy nature of this song, to me I hear a celebration of someone battling that anxious animal that can consume us.

Over and over again Ruth sings what we try to tell ourselves all of the time when that beast of anxiety claws its way up into our once placid minds to keep it at bay:

“You will never be enough. you will never be enough, you will not amount to much, you will never be enough.”

You can download the track for free on Soundcloud now and you can catch them January 16th at The Piano in New York.

 

 

Keep your ears peeled for Syvia’s new EP coming this February of 2016.

London singer/songwriter, Freja, releases debut EP: “Ghosts”

20 year old singer/songwriter from London, Freja, has created a beautifully delicate debut titled Ghosts. Crystal clear, subdued and simple melodies cradle Freja’s flawless voice which carries a sense of vulnerability but simultaneously, the lyrical content has a sense of maturity. Ghosts is a bare boned, brave and brilliantly minimal set of tracks sharing stories of love, loss and Freja’s youth.

The EP opens with the track “Ghosts in the Snow”, where you meet Freja’s fluttering voice for the first time and discover her ability to tell stories in song of melancholy, reflection, and love.

Freja’s simple melodies and song structure leave many stones unturned for her which as a 20 year old releasing music to the world for the first time, is a wonderful place to be. The only way is up.

The EP is now available now on Amazon and iTunes.

EP review: “Whoever She Was” by ESTRONS

ESTRONS is the Welsh word for “aliens” or “strangers”, a description of how the individuals in this band feel day to day. No matter where they are or who they’re with, they always feel different. That is, except for when they (the band) are together. Together they are ESTRONS. The two members who compose the common thread of ESTRONS are Taliesyn Källström (vocals) and Rhodri Daniel (guitar) but they welcome other strange and talented musicians who rotate in and out of the band.

ESTRONS released their debut piece of work the EP, Whoever She Was, on December 11th of 2015 on Gofod Records. The EP holds four solid alternative-garage-grunge rock tracks including one whose lyrics are entirely in Welsh, “Ysbrydoli.”

The album cover features a beautiful photograph of a woman breastfeeding. The significance of this I’m unaware of but it’s a poignant statement as this act can (unfortunately) be looked down upon. This peaceful photo is in interesting contrast to the raw nature of the band’s music. The EP kicks off with the single, “Make a Man” a totally rich, primal and prolific track about a woman who has absolute power over a figure which she will surely “make a man out of.”

Following “Make a Man” is the slightly more subdued but equally as raw track, “Aliens.” This song sounds like a familiar story of frustration, heat, push and pull between lovers who despite their efforts, they’re too damn different. They’re aliens to each other.

 

“If you could change, I could change. It could be so sweet.”

 

 

Inserted in the middle of the EP is the more pop-oriented track that Taliesyn Källström sings in Welsh, adding a taste of the band’s culture and a slight break (though the break isn’t necessary) from the heavy grunge rock.

The EP says goodbye with the dynamic track, “I (don’t) want you” which overlays Källström’s rich vocals upon powerful stop and go drum beats and a completely infectious guitar riff that has a slightly distorted sound that gives it a synth-derived feel.

Collectively, these strangers have created something not so strange: a proud piece of work that’s sure to please even the most alien pairs of ears. You can purchase Whoever She Was on iTunes now.

 

 

Dream Vacation brings us their new self-titled EP

Dream Vacation is composed of four deeply inspired humans who happen to be able to communicate through music. Ray Silva’s (lead vocals) voice beckons you to listen, relax, pause to inhale. Gerry Matthews’ (bass and backing vocals) rhythm drives the melody, focuses feeling underlying their music with Morgan Terrinoni on guitar while Noah Alexander’s drums leaves the listener breathless at times. Together, these four fellows have developed a sound of their own which they title Dream Vacation which has managed to survive the ups and downs of their lives over the past years.

Immediately captivating, the EP starts with the glossy cut that assumes a hint of shoegaze, “Window Room”:

The EP was produced by none other than John Rausch who has worked with Taylor Swift, Florence + the Machine and even Pink. Read Dream Vacation’s message to their listeners below:

“We hope to inspire people to think and see things differently than they normally do.  And maybe even remember things they thought they forgot.  To feel more connected and sense that there is more kindness available than it seems.”

Have a listen to the rest of the EP on their Soundcloud page. That will keep your ears occupied until the EP is out on iTunes this spring.