Artist Spotlight: THE MAYAN FACTOR

mayan factor collage names

As I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog, one of the redeeming qualities of Twitter is the astounding number of musicians and bands I continue to discover, a great deal of whom are really talented. One such band I recently had the good fortune of learning about is The Mayan Factor, a five-piece alternative rock outfit based in Baltimore, Maryland. They’ve been around since 2002, and after listening to their music I was perplexed as to why I’d not previously heard of them, because they’re phenomenal.

Their first release, the 2003 EP In Lake’ Ch, is a veritable masterpiece, featuring the powerful and stunning tracks “Warflower” and “Beauty and the Beast”. They followed up two years later with an equally stellar album 44. Then tragedy struck a hammer blow in 2011 when the band’s lead singer Ray Schuler died suddenly, leaving a void that sent the band and their fans reeling. They’d been recording songs for a third album Yesterday’s Son, which they went ahead and released in 2012. I strongly urge my readers to check them all out, because they’re fucking fantastic, and you’ll literally be the poorer if you don’t!

Not quite sure what to do after Ray’s death, the band considered going their separate ways, but the love and dedication of their fans persuaded them to soldier on. They eventually found another musician to be the band’s lead vocalist in Lenny Cerzosie Jr. Besides Lenny, who also plays rhythm guitar, the band lineup consists of Brian Scott (guitar), Kevin Baker (bass), Dan Angermaier (drums), and Jason Sage (percussion, backing vocals). Dan told me that Lenny has worked out very well as the band’s lead singer, bringing his own style to the mix. “Ray was unique. Lenny doesn’t try to be him. I think that’s why he works so well. He makes Ray’s words work for him.

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With their re-invigorated lineup, the band began writing new songs and in 2016, they released an epic single “Ascension“. Wow, this 7:13 minute-long song is a religious experience! Layer upon layer of gorgeous intricate guitars are combined with a strong bassline, exotic percussive synths and pounding drums to form an intense and lush soundscape, evoking the drama and color of an ancient Mayan ritual. Then there’s Lenny’s raw, passionate vocals, soaring to the heavens and adding to the chills already covering my body.

In January 2018, they released “Whispers“, a deeply moving song that was inspired by Lenny’s mother’s struggles of living with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or “Lou Gehrig’s disease”, which my mother-in-law also died from). Once again, the guitar work is stunning, and the bass, drums and synths are perfection, making for a formidable powerhouse track. Lenny’s fervent vocals at first remind me of Michael Stipe’s, but as the track progresses they grow more impassioned as he wails of the pain of watching a loved one gradually slip away: “I thought we had another day. Another day just passed away. Azaleas grow along the way. I thought we’d have another day. I’ll meet you in the other place. Heaven couldn’t stay away, Angels wouldn’t sing that day.”

Their most recent single “hOpe” was also inspired by Lenny’s mother’s battle with ALS. About the song’s title, the band explains “The definition of the word HOPE is ‘to cherish a desire with anticipation’, but the word truly takes on different meanings to each of us as individuals. However different the meaning of the word is to us, it all connects us together with the promise of change and the promise of light after darkness. Even though friends and family may not be with us, they remain as long as they are in our hearts. They speak to us but without words. We created this song as an anthem to those traveling through darkness of illness, grief and any type of difficult time.”

It’s a lovely, bittersweet song with beautiful jangly guitars, anchored by a sturdy humming bassline and pounding drums. Lenny’s passionate vocals have a raw vulnerability as he sings the poignant lyrics:

I remember the sound. 
Not the words but the sound of her voice 
trembling, trembling 
I remember the things she said to me 
All this life is lost into the night, too soon 

Tonight… 
I remember her eyes, so sweet so sweet 
Lovingly, so lovely 
Don’t let me fall, don’t let her fade

The beautiful animated video shows scenes of a young boy moving through a colorful dream-like landscape with what appears to be his grandmother and, in one scene, his grandfather.

They released a beautifully moving alternative video for “hOpe” that was shot in Mexico as a symbolic tribute to Lenny’s mother. It shows us the faces of #hOpe, of survivors who didn’t give up hope to keep living.

And so, dear readers, my hope is that you’ll give these songs a listen, and end up loving The Mayan Factor as much as I do. Not only do they make incredible music, but their resiliency and strong sense of humanity are admirable. They’re true survivors, and I hope they’ll continue making more great music for years to come.

Connect with The Mayan Factor on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes / cdbaby

BetaPSI – Single Review: “Psychosomatic”

betapsi psychosomatic

BetaPSI is the music project of Italian singer/songwriter/producer Barbara Benedetti. Based in Trieste, BetaPSI (also symbolized by the characters βψ) is a fascinating woman and artist who creates innovative alternative electronic rock music that’s thoroughly unique and unlike anything I’ve heard from any other musician. She provides a wonderful description of herself and her music in her bio that I can’t improve upon, so will just quote her words:

“I am β. an Italian songwriter. I grew up listening to all music genres, I love music itself. Suddenly, around March 2016, all the music I’ve listened to throughout my life, started pushing to get out… so here I am. I still don’t know how it works but my half neuron (I called it ‘Half’) started spiking music and lyrics. So I took my electric guitar and my bass, I bought a micro (micro, very micro) synth, and started torturing them. Then I learnt how Ableton works… it is a long story… the point is I’m a nut and weird so I started making songs. Due to the “features” above mentioned, all BetaPSI songs in some way are different from one another. They are all original songs, written, played with my beloved instruments, performed, recorded and mixed by BetaPSI aka me.”

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She’s also a gracious and generous artist who actively supports other artists, and is always open to working with them to combine their creative talents and produce fresh and exciting music. In her short time making music, she’s already collaborated with several musicians from around the world, including GJART (Spain), thommo (UK) and Vizualye (USA). She has also produced an astonishing output of music in her own right. One of her latest singles is “Psychosomatic“, a darkly thrilling EDM track about mental illness that she released on January 4th.

The song blasts open with an onslaught of grinding industrial synths, then a hypnotic driving beat hooks us in as BetaPSI’s eerie, seductive vocals enter the mix like a siren’s call, pulling us willingly into a swirling vortex of ominous sounds from which we’re powerless to escape. As the track progresses, she adds layers pf pulsating spacey and psychedelic synths and her own spooky echoed backing vocals, further amplifying the already menacing, otherworldly vibe. The result is an impressive EDM track that skillfully conveys the sense of a mind tortured by dark thoughts: “Call the doctor, take a pill. There’s no cure, the mind is ill.”

Have a listen to this brilliant song as you watch the great video she made to go with it:

Connect with BetaPSI on FacebookTwitter / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes / Deezer

Top 30 Songs for January 20-26, 2019

1. HURT PEOPLE – Two Feet featuring Madison Love (1)
2. HIGH HOPES – Panic! At the Disco (3)
3. GUIDING LIGHT – Mumford & Sons (2)
4. WANDER – Vox Eagle featuring Pierre Fontaine (7)
5. IN THE WATER – The Underground Vault (8)
6. BACK DOWN – Bob Moses (9)
7. MY BLOOD – twenty one pilots (5)
8. THESE ARE MY FRIENDS – lovelytheband (6)
9. DELTA BLUES – Jetstream (10)
10. FAST TALK – Houses (11)
11. YOU’RE SOMEBODY ELSE – flora cash (4)
12. THANK U, NEXT – Ariana Grande (12)
13. APOCALIPSTICK – Lazy Queen (17)
14. PRESSURE – Muse (18)
15. SUPERPOSITION – Young the Giant (19)
16. NEW BIRTH IN NEW ENGLAND – Phosphorescent (16)
17. LOVE IT IF WE MADE IT – The 1975 (20)
18. NORTHERN LIGHTS – Death Cab for Cutie (21)
19. SUNFLOWER (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) – Post Malone & Swae Lee (N)
20. “99” – Barns Courtney (13)
21. IN MY MIND – Draft Evader (14) 20th week on chart
22. WORST NIGHTS – Foster the People (25)
23. UH HUH – Jade Bird (15)
24. LIGHT ON – Maggie Rogers (26)
25. CHANGE – The Revivalists (27)
26. MAKE IT UP AS I GO – Mike Shinoda featuring K.Flay (22)
27. SIGUE CON EL AMOR – John Defeo (30)
28. HAPPIER – Marshmello featuring Bastille (23)
29. LOADING ZONES – Kurt Vile (24) 18th week on chart
30. POWER OVER ME – Dermot Kennedy (N)

STUART BLANCE – Album Review: “Utopia”

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Stuart Blance is a talented and thoughtful singer-songwriter from Perth, Scotland. (He also happens to be a terrific landscape and events photographer.)  He’s been writing and recording songs since 1999, and in 2001 he released his debut CD Utopia, an ambitious work featuring 13 tracks covering genres ranging from folk and Americana to pop and rock. In the years since, he has performed in venues throughout Scotland and also in London, and recorded several singles, three of which are included on his 2018 EP On Your Side.  Given the renewed interest in his music, Stuart felt the time was right for Utopia to be heard again, and so the album was re-released in digital form in December 2018, and I have the pleasure of reviewing it today. The songs all sound as fresh and relevant now as they did when they were recorded nearly two decades ago.

Stuart’s engaging music style is characterized primarily by gently-strummed acoustic guitar, often accompanied by percussive synths and occasional subtle bass notes. His contemplative lyrics touch on oft-covered subjects of life, humanity, heartache and pain, with the goal of sharing uplifting messages of hope and optimism. This is clear on the opening track “Lifeline“, where he urges us to stay true to ourselves in finding our way forward in life: “You’ve got it all, don’t throw your life away. And you’ll see where your path lies. Just follow your lifeline. The future lies ahead, it’s yours to keep.” So too on the title track “Utopia” a pleasant folk song where he extols the virtues of positive thinking and striving to be a good person: “You may be a dreamer, seeing good when it’s not there. Or maybe a believer in being kind and fair. Even if you’re feeling low, always try and smile.” And on Burnout“, he gently advises us to not push ourselves to the breaking point: “Slow down, take a short break. Just take your time. Enjoy the ride. You’re heading for a burnout.”

Several of the tracks on Utopia are really lovely and deeply moving. One of my favorites is “Memories“, a beautiful song with strummed guitar and delicate atmospheric synths that create a haunting, yet enthralling soundscape for Stuart’s calm, soothing vocals. He wistfully sings about revisiting past experiences that shaped his life: “Memories keep flooding back. Creeping into places that I haven’t been to in quite a while. Diaries kept for years on end. Words unheard for decades. Untold secrets brought to life. Oh I feel so at ease about these old memories. Won’t you please reminisce with me about these old memories?

Another favorite is “Slower Than the Flow“, a languid, hymn-like song in which he asks compelling questions for which simple answers continue to elude us: “Why do people go through life with their eyes closed? Why so many people without homes? Why can’t we take some time to look around us? Spare a thought and show someone you care. / Why must we fight like little children? Why must it always end in tears? Why is the root of violence in religion? When will the stigma disappear?

On the amusing “Fact or Folklore“, Stuart playfully ponders a number of fairy tale myths with droll satire: “Did Jack climb his beanstock, was Goldilocks so pure? She slept with the three bears, then went back for more. / Did Humpty Dumpty fall? I heard at first they shot him, then kicked him off the wall. / Climb over the rainbow, we’ll meet the Wicked Witch. She thinks that she’s scary, but she’s a stupid bitch.” And yet another personal favorite is “Anytime“, one of the most interesting tracks on the album from a music standpoint, and also the longest, clocking in at six minutes. The song opens with fluttering spacey synths which gradually fade into the background as Stuart’s pleasing layered acoustic guitar notes and smooth vocals enter the mix. The synths return to the forefront as the guitars fade, and continue through to the end as the song closes on a mysterious and atmospheric air.

Stuart switches gears in a big way on the final two tracks, replacing his laid-back folk persona with a punk-rock alter-ego. “Groovy People” is a simple but fun tune about partying with cool people in a hot club, delivered with chugging riffs of fuzzy guitars and a rousing drumbeat. Stuart’s vocals sound completely different here, with a bit of an early David Bowie twang. Even better is “Comin’ On Up“, where he really lets loose with hard-driving riffs of gnarly guitar and buzzing bass, set to a heavy thumping drumbeat. I really love this track, and want to hear more of this side of him! Some might feel these last two tracks don’t belong on what is otherwise an acoustic folk album, but I think it’s perfectly fine, and makes for a great, upbeat ending to an excellent work.

Connect with Stuart on Facebook / Twitter
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase through his website https://stuartblance.com/store and some songs are also available on Bandcamp

SARAH MAY – Single Review: “Because I Turned You Down”

Sarah May is a seasoned singer/songwriter and music producer based in London, England who’s been writing and recording songs since she was a teen. Only a month ago, in early December 2018, she impressed us with her release of a beautiful and haunting single “Nothing to You”. The song addressed the pain of unrequited love and being obsessed with someone who has no feelings for you, and showcased Sarah’s captivating, yet understated vocal style. (You can read my review here.)  She now returns with a new single “Because I Turned You Down“, a bold track with brutally frank lyrics that speak to female empowerment, specifically with regard to the expectations some men have about dating and sex. It’s an incredibly satisfying song from both a musical and message standpoint.

Sarah wrote the music and lyrics and produced the track, with mixing and mastering done by James Preston. The music consists primarily of subtle keyboard and percussive synths set to a thumping dance beat. As the track progresses, bits of spacey and wobbly synths provide added texture to the music, but still allow Sarah’s smooth, clear vocals to shine as she defiantly sings the no-holds-barred lyrics:

Can you try to understand
I don’t hate you just cause you’re a man
I just hate the way you think
And the way you treat women
Yeah, you’re simply a dick
To you it comes as a surprise
That a girl can go out drinking with the guys
And end the night in her own bed
Without giving you head in the taxi ride

Do you think that’s how you pull a girl
Buy her a drink and throw your cliche lines at her
Just cause I’m drunk, doesn’t mean that its okay
So take your hands off me, please pull yourself away

And because I turned you down, you say that I’m a bitch
I must be a lesbian or some kind of hardcore feminist
I should feel lucky that you showed interest in me
Cause I’m ugly, I’m not worthy of your time
I’m some kind of hippie freak

Connect with Sarah May: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream/purchase her music on Spotify / Soundcloud / iTunes

THUNDERIAN SUMMER – EP Review: “Misdirection of Self-Control”

thunderian summer ep art

Thunderian Summer is a five-piece band from the British Midlands who play honest, guitar-driven, blues-infused rock’n’roll, the kind you love hearing at the hottest club in town on a Saturday night. They don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, but are quite serious when it comes to crafting great music. The band members are DT (Dave Thomas) on vocals, Alex on lead guitar, Tim on rhythm guitar, Nic on bass, and Pabs on drums.  When I last featured them on this blog nearly a year ago, they had just released their debut EP By The Gun (check out that review). Now they’re back with Misdirection of Self-Control, a new EP that dropped January 4th, featuring six tracks they describe as “A Story of Excess and Reflection.”

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Getting right to down to business with the ‘excess’ part of the story, they kick things off with “Wind It Down” a ribald rock’n’roll ditty about getting it on with your hot babe. With his rough, seductive vocals, DT sounds downright lascivious as he croons the pretty explicit lyrics: “Wind it down, wind it slow, I took her out, I brought her home. She’s coming next, she’s getting wet. Wind it down, wind it slow. I took her high when I went low. Back and forth. Pretty little thing, she wants some more. / She’s my girl.”  Whew!

Things take a more serious turn with “Listen for the Shot“, a song that seems to be about coming to terms with a death of sorts – of a relationship perhaps? The guys deliver hard-driving riffs of fuzzy and jangly guitars set to fast-paced drums and deep, buzzing bass. The bluesy and deeply moving “Dark Times” recounts many tough moments in the singer’s troubled life, knowing those adversities have made him stronger, and holding onto faith that he’ll survive with enough love and support. The intricate guitar work is superb, but it’s DT’s raw, emotionally wrought vocals that are the highlight of this song, ripping at our heartstrings as he plaintively laments “They were dark times, dark times, darkest times of my life. / Shine your light on me. Your light is the only light I want to see.”

Next up is “Shake Your Sins“, a plea to someone on a downward spiral of drug abuse to change their self-destructive habits before it’s too late: “It looks like the drugs have taken their toll. Some misdirection self-control. Can’t you hear the ticking of the clock? Well don’t let it take your soul. / Your times are changing, they’re changing my friend. You better shake your sins.” Mournful jangly guitars and DT’s urgent vocals emphasize the powerful sentiments expressed in the lyrics.

Around the Sun” is an optimistic message that everything will be alright, delivered with hard-hitting, reverb-drenched jangly guitars and a high-energy rhythm section. DT passionately implores “Please hold my hand so tight. You won’t feel this pain much longer now. I know I can make it right. How much time do we have? When all is said and done, we’ve only got so many trips around the sun.” Everything builds to a crescendo of raging guitars and crashing cymbals as DT repeatedly wails “Hold my hand so damn tight!

Closing out the EP is the delightful “Pretty Pants“, a new studio version of the same song that was featured as an acoustic track on their previous EP By The Gun. This version is more melodic and fully-developed, with heavier instrumentation and stronger vocals. The song samples the Counting Crows classic “Mr. Jones” – using the great lines “And we will stare at beautiful women. Are they looking at you? No girl, they must be looking at me.”  It’s a wonderful track, and a fine finish to another terrific effort from Thunderian Summer. I really enjoy their style of rock that feels genuine, without gimmicks or overreach. Their straightforward lyrics are by turns entertaining, compelling and/or moving, delivered by some of the rawest, most passionate vocals I’ve heard in a while.

thunderian summer shows

Connect with the band: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on iTunes cdbaby

WESTERN JAGUAR – Single Review: “Disappear”

western jaguar disappear

Western Jaguar is an alternative indie rock band I’ve followed awhile, and I absolutely love their music. Hailing from the picturesque Fraser River Valley of British Columbia, Canada east of Vancouver, they combine the best elements of alternative rock and dream pop to create beautifully moving and memorable soundscapes they describe as “sad indie rock”. Like many bands, they’ve recently undergone a number of changes in personnel, and the current lineup consists of Jeffrey Trainor (lead vocals/guitar), AJ Buckley (guitar), Davis Zand (bass) and Dave Montgomery (drums).

They’ve dropped a number of stellar releases, starting with their debut EP Glacia in 2013, then followed two years later with the album Wayfarer, and a second EP Memorial in 2017, and I’m proud to say I own them all. (The guys have generously made their music available for a reasonable sum on their Bandcamp account, so do check it out.) In September 2018 they released a hauntingly beautiful single “Darker Days”, and started off 2019 by dropping a gorgeous new single “Disappear.” The exuberant song has more of a pop-rock feel than most of their other songs, but still features the signature reverb-heavy guitars, throbbing bass and high-voltage percussion we’ve come to love about their music.

About the song, Jeff Trainor explains: “The overall theme of the single centrally focuses on changes that have occurred in our band. Over the past year we ended up losing a few band members and having some changes to our lineup. It happens over time with a band, but I saw this as an opportunity to get into the head space of change. Through “Disappear,” I wrote about the perspective of this change as a sense of relief. In some occasions, losing someone or something can end up freeing you in a lot of ways. The song deals with the struggle of cutting that weight loose, but also the feeling of making that negativity disappear once and for all. Musically, it’s the most pop friendly track we have in our repertoire, but with that being said, we still [believe] the feel and style of it connects to some of our biggest inspirations such as bands like Foals, Catfish and The Bottlemen and Modest Mouse.

The song is fantastic, with a bold, complex melody that grabs and holds our attention from start to finish, and the instrumentals are stunning. The guys employ layer upon layer of richly-textured guitars, delivering a glorious and powerful mix of fuzzy, jangly and chiming riffs that bring chills. The throbbing bass and sparkling synths are perfectly balanced with the muscular drums that give heft to the track while still allowing the guitars to shine. And I especially love the little Foals-inspired riff in the bridge (being a massive Foals fan myself). Trainor’s vocals have an earnest vulnerability that’s really wonderful as he sings to someone for whom he no longer has strong feelings: “I just needed reason to stay. But you were gone. What was I supposed to do? There’s nothing left here for you. I’ll make you disappear.”

The stylishly-filmed video shows three of the charismatic band members performing the song in a chilly interior setting, as evidenced by the steam emitting from their mouths.

Connect with Western Jaguar:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

Top 30 Songs for January 13-19, 2019

 

1. HURT PEOPLE – Two Feet featuring Madison Love (2)
2. GUIDING LIGHT – Mumford & Sons (1)
3. HIGH HOPES – Panic! At the Disco (3)
4. YOU’RE SOMEBODY ELSE – flora cash (4)
5. MY BLOOD – twenty one pilots (5)
6. THESE ARE MY FRIENDS – lovelytheband (6)
7. WANDER – Vox Eagle featuring Pierre Fontaine (8)
8. IN THE WATER – The Underground Vault (9)
9. BACK DOWN – Bob Moses (11)
10. DELTA BLUES – Jetstream (16)
11. FAST TALK – Houses (17)
12. THANK U, NEXT – Ariana Grande (15)
13. “99” – Barns Courtney (14)
14. IN MY MIND – Draft Evader (7) 19th week on chart
15. UH HUH – Jade Bird (10)
16. NEW BIRTH IN NEW ENGLAND – Phosphorescent (19)
17. APOCALIPSTICK – Lazy Queen (20)
18. PRESSURE – Muse (23)
19. SUPERPOSITION – Young the Giant (24)
20. LOVE IT IF WE MADE IT – The 1975 (25)
21. NORTHERN LIGHTS – Death Cab for Cutie (26)
22. MAKE IT UP AS I GO – Mike Shinoda featuring K.Flay (18)
23. HAPPIER – Marshmello featuring Bastille (12)
24. LOADING ZONES – Kurt Vile (13)
25. WORST NIGHTS – Foster the People (28)
26. LIGHT ON – Maggie Rogers (29)
27. CHANGE – The Revivalists (30)
28. UNREALITIES – Dying Habit (21)
29. SUPERWOMAN SWAY – Brett Vogel (22) 18th week on chart
30. SIGUE CON EL AMOR – John Defeo (N)

HOUSE OF HARM – EP Review: “Coming of Age”

house of harm ep

It may be 2019, but the lasting legacy of 1980s post-punk and new wave (and all its sub genres) is very much alive and well, probably due in part to the fact it sounds so awesome! I know of several artists and bands whose sound is heavily influenced by the electronics-dominant music of bands like New Order, The Cure and Depeche Mode, to name some of the biggest acts from that period. One such band that I have the pleasure of featuring today is House of Harm, a duo from Boston consisting of Michael Rocheford on lead vocals & Cooper Leardi on guitar and synths. With just a casual listen, they could be unfairly labeled a New Order or Depeche Mode cover band, but a closer listen reveals the guys to be skilled songwriters and composers, crafting outstanding songs that easily hold their own against the aforementioned bands.

House of Harm released their excellent debut EP Demo in June 2017, followed later that year with a darkwave single “Isolator”, and in November 2018, they dropped their second EP Coming of Age, featuring four gorgeous tracks. First up is “Past Life“, a brooding but beautiful song that really channels Depeche Mode both instrumentally and vocally. The guys employ lush swirling synths, razor sharp percussion, and layers of richly textured, chiming guitars to create a magnificent shimmering soundscape.  Rocheford’s arresting vocals convey a sense of urgency and sad resignation as he laments “Let the past lay down tonight, I want it to, I want it to. Let the summer light catch your eyes. There’s someone new, someone new“.

About the track’s meaning, Rocheford told the webzine Vanyaland “The song is about spending time with someone you were formerly involved with and the struggles that come along with that.” Leardi added his feelings about the song: “‘Past Life’ was one of those songs that came to us like a lightbulb flash. All the elements were there. We were coming down from playing a string of shows, completely exhausted, and in one afternoon we wrote and recorded the whole song. It felt wrong to go back and change the magic we got that day, so the version you hear is just that. I can’t deny that there was a certain flavor in the air when we were working on it, something that reminds me of an ecstasy-fueled club in Ibiza or something… I think it puts us in a place and time, and that time is right now. I feel as though the song is there to say ‘We’re House Of Harm and this is what we’re about’.”

Always” is an updated version of a track that originally appeared on Demo. Leardi’s exuberant jangly guitars are the highlight here, accompanied by sparkling synths and wildly crashing cymbals. Rocheford fervently sings “You always keep it still. You always speak until. You always turn it around and smile in pain.” The marvelous title track “Coming of Age” features a powerful driving beat and a deeply resonant mix of swirling and moody synths that create a dramatic backdrop for Rocheford’s impassioned, soaring vocals as he implores to a former loved one: “And would you still run at the sight of me? And do you still you feel that you’ve thrown it away? And would you still lie, if I ever told you? And would you still say it’s a coming of age?” “Valentine” sounds a bit similar to “Coming of Age”, but with a frenetic beat that’s classic post-punk/new wave. If this bouncy, high-energy song doesn’t get you up and moving, nothing will.

Coming of Age is a wonderful little EP, and if you’re a fan of 80s post-punk/new wave, you’ll like this record. The arrangement and production are flawless, and the music and vocals sound clear and perfectly balanced. My only criticism is that with just four tracks, it feels rather like a teaser, leaving me wanting more. Perhaps that’s a good thing, as I eagerly await what House of Harm will grace our earbuds with next.

Connect with House of Harm:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

FEATHER WEIGHT – Single Review: “Volcano”

feather weight

Feather Weight is a fairly new band from Toronto, Canada who play music that incorporates elements of Garage Rock, Dream Pop and Psych. They’ve released only two singles thus far – their debut “Just Take the Pill” in May 2018, and “Volcano”, which dropped in late November – and I can unequivocally state I’m already a big fan of theirs. When their drummer Raymond Cara (who I know from his also being part of Toronto bands The Autumn Stones and Andrew LaTona & the Nightshades, both of which I’ve featured on this blog) shared “Volcano” with me the other day, it was love at first listen. In addition to Raymond on drums, the other band members include Alistair Bundale on lead vocals & guitar, Neil Culbert on guitar and backing vocals, and Jordan Quinn on bass and backing vocals. All are accomplished musicians who’ve been involved with other bands in the thriving Toronto music scene.

The song starts off with a subtle but intriguing little guitar riff, then a pounding drumbeat enters, leaving us anticipating what’s coming next. Suddenly, a gorgeous chiming guitar arrives, immediately engulfing our eardrums in a shimmering soundscape. The tempo adjusts to a gentle driving beat as more guitar is layered over the primary riff that continues throughout the song. Alistair’s passionate echoed vocals enter the mix and the result is a song so sublime it brings goosebumps. Given the perfection of this and their first single, I expect we’ll be hearing more fantastic songs from Feather Weight – and soon, I hope!

I asked Raymond about the song’s meaning and how they chose the vintage footage for the wonderful video. He told me it was actually from an old GM promo from the early 1960s for an electronics and car showcase. About the song’s meaning, he explained: “I would say a lot of the basis of this song deals with the pressure of human repression building up underneath and the process of liberating ourselves from that pressure. The way we framed the video is in a way to show a woman finding her liberation at a time when women’s roles were strongly defined by positions occupied in the home. I would think of this more though as an analogy for the meaning of the song rather than the actual point of the song. [But] even though we may find a sense of liberation, that doesn’t mean we are free. The human condition in the cultures and societies we have created foster isolation and alienation and cause many mental health issues, so at some level she is running a fool’s errand, so to speak.” Watch, listen, and prepare to be blown away by this marvelous song.

Connect with Feather Weight:  Facebook / Instagram
Stream their songs on Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes