PARTISAN – Single Review: “Oxygen”

Partisan Oxygen

I’ve been following Manchester, UK rock band Partisan for a couple of years, and I love their music. Like many bands, they’ve undergone a few personnel changes since their formation, but their music has remained consistently good. Partisan is now made up of Stuart Armstrong on guitar and vocals, Dan Albon on bass, and Leo Stanfield on drums. I previously featured their fantastic single “Juggernaut” on this blog two years ago, in the summer of 2016, and that October had the pleasure of meeting them when they performed at the legendary Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip. They’ve released several excellent tracks since then, and in May they dropped their latest single “Oxygen.

The new track nicely delivers more of their signature high-energy melodic rock. It opens with sounds of sirens in the distance, then Albon lays down a bass riff as Armstrong’s punchy guitar and Stanfield’s snappy drums enter the proceedings. Tasty intricate guitar riffs ensue along with heavier percussion, all the while anchored by Albon’s subtle bass line. Armstrong’s fervent vocals are positively sublime. I really love his distinctive tenor voice, which is a major component of Partisan’s unique sound that sets them apart from any other band.

My take on the song is that it seems to be about realizing that a relationship one took for granted is worth salvaging. That there’s enough oxygen – love – for two for the relationship to survive. “I was too blind to see. I was too drunk to feel. Denying ourselves the truth. There must be enough to breathe. Oxygen release. / Let me be the one that saves you. / Let me be the one to keep you breathing.

The dark, brilliant video shows the band performing the song in a dank, filthy room in a decrepit old building. As the song progresses, dust and smoke permeate the room as the walls begin closing in on them, sucking out the oxygen. By the end, Armstrong is shown trapped and curled up in a tightly enclosed space. An interesting side feature in the video is that among the various photos on the wall is one of a smiling President Trump (who can suck the oxygen and joy out of a room like a Harry Potter Death Eater). His photo is eventually shown pierced with darts. That brought a big smile to my face!

Catch Partisan at one of their upcoming shows in and around Manchester:

June 5             Gullivers, Manchester
June 30           Save the Children Charity event
Sept 27           Sonder Festival, Manchester

Connect with Partisan:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  iTunes

GOODNIGHT JAPAN – Single Review: “Rush”

Goodnight Japan single

Goodnight Japan is a three-piece band from Sydney, Australia with a distinctive sound they colorfully describe as “Shoegazy bedroom-pop dreamscapes to punchy post-punk laced with dirty whisky blues.” Formed in 2016 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Abel Ibañez and bassist Gemma Conroy, drummer Joel van Gastel joined the band a year later to complete the lineup. All three of these talented individuals are involved in other projects as well – Abel is founder and co-editor of ERRR Magazine, Gemma is also known as the international model Meluxine, as well as a science journalist, and Joel is also drummer for Australian rock band Jenny Broke the Window.

When I asked Abel about the band’s unusual name, he explained that he used to have a band with his brother in Mexico City, where they were born and raised, and his brother came up with the name. “It was a bit of a joke at the beginning, because we would fantasize (of course) playing to big audiences in big arenas or stadiums and starting the concerts with a “Goodnight America” or “Goodnight Russia” and then “Goodnight Japan.” And then he decided that Goodnight Japan was going to be the name of our band. And we played a couple of gigs in Mexico under that name. I later formed another band –also in Mexico– and used that same name but in Spanish and a bit modified: we were Adiós Japón (Goodbye Japan).  Some years later, when I came to Australia and started playing with Gemma, I told her the story about the name and she just loved Goodnight Japan, so we took it back.”

They’ve just released a lovely new single “Rush,” a touching song with a pleasing mix of fuzzy guitar, humming bass and gentle percussion, all set to a toe-tapping beat. Abel’s heartfelt vocals have an earnest vulnerability as he sings the poignant lyrics that speak to someone who keeps resisting committing to a relationship, pleading with them to get off the endless cycle of indecision and just let love in:

You say you don’t want to rush 
You say you don’t want to break 
You say you don’t really care 
No you don’t give a damn 
People keep losing their minds 
Going ’round and around on this ride 

But this time let go 
‘Cause this time I’ve got you 
But this time let go 
‘Cause this time I’ve got you 

They’re currently recording more songs to be included on their upcoming EP, and I’m eager to hear them. In the meantime, you can catch them at one of these upcoming shows in New South Wales:

June 15   The Townie, Newtown, 9 PM w/Deep Space Supergroop & Trouble Cruise

June 29  Botany View Hotel, Newtown, 9 PM w/Jonas Nicholls & Deep Space Supergroop

July 28  The Record Crate, Glebe, 7 PM w/E for Echo x DARBY

Connect with Goodnight Japan on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream “Rush” on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

TRUE THE GRAY – Single Review: “Greet Your Tragedy”

True the Gray is a metalcore band based in Denver, Colorado. Formed in 2016 from the ashes of metalcore band Me Against Sunrise, True the Gray consists of Peter Vaughn (guitars, vocals, percussion, keys) and Scotty Wilson (vocals, guitars, percussion). The guys are friendly and engaging, referring to themselves as “Just two friends making heavy, passionate music that features references to Transformers, chicken and rice stuffing, and crematoriums.” Works for me! They released a very respectable debut self-titled EP True the Gray in 2016, and now follow up with a face-melting, emotionally powerful new single “Greet Your Tragedy.”

The guys explain that the song “is about someone on the verge of madness, trying to hang on to what semblance they have of their former selves. An anthem for mental health.” It opens with a gritty distorted guitar chord, setting an ominous tone for things to come. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose as the song erupts into a maelstrom of bone-crushing staccato riffs, wailing distortion, and massive, ear-piercing percussion. These guys mean business, delivering a relentless onslaught of furious instrumentation that elevates the track’s emotional impact nearly to the breaking point. Their chilling vocals range from savage growls and furious screams to impassioned soaring harmonies. By song’s end, we’re left dazed and spent.

“Greet Your Tragedy” is a brilliant, flawlessly-crafted track, with compelling lyrics and superb instrumentals, vocals and production values. The guys really up their game on this mind-blowing powerhouse of a song, and it’s their best work yet.

Connect with True the Gray:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify /  Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  iTunes 

Top 30 Songs for June 10-16, 2018

1. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (4)
2. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (1)
3. THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino (2)
4. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (5)
5. HANDYMAN – AWOLNATION (3)
6. &RUN – Sir Sly (6)
7. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves (8)
8. THOUGHT CONTAGION – Muse (9)
9. BROKEN – lovelytheband (7)
10. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads, Unlikely Candidates (10)
11. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons (11)
12. DEVIL – Shinedown (12)
13. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (13)
14. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (16)
15. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (14)
16. UNWIND – John Defeo (17)
17. FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE – Robert Delong, K.Flay (18)
18. COLORS – Beck (19)
19. FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys (23)
20. SILVER LINING – Mt. Joy (21)
21. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (22)
22. GUIDE YOU IN THE DARK – RECKLESS JACKS (15)
23. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (27)
24. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (26)
25. QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT – Bastille (27)
26. WITHOUT WALLS – Lyia Meta (20)
27. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement (29)
28. FRACTURED NATION – Future Theory (30)
29. THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile (24)
30. THE NIGHT HAS AN ALIBI – Wons Phreely + the Horses (25)

BLACK BEAR KISS – Single Review: “Hooks”

hooks-single-cover

Black Bear Kiss are an Indie/Alternative Rock band from the West Midlands & Shropshire, UK. Formed in 2016, the band includes Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on lead guitar, Rob Jones on guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums. In the creation of their dynamic rock sound, the band draws influence from legendary blues rock bands The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, 90s Grunge, and more modern alt-rock acts such as The Black Keys, Jack White, Kasabian and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In April, they released their debut single “Hooks” – aptly named because that’s exactly what the song does to us the moment we hear it.

The infectious track starts off with a simple riff set to a catchy drumbeat and thumping bass line, then Leech’s smooth vocals enter the proceedings. Everything ramps up in the rousing chorus, with Leech’s vocals growing more impassioned as he nearly wails the lyrics, accompanied by an explosion of more aggressive guitars and heavier percussion. The backing vocals in the chorus are especially good, and everyone in the band are in perfect sync on their respective instruments. It’s a great track, and an impressive debut for a Black Bear Kiss, who seem to have all the ingredients in their line up for playing some awesome rock’n’roll the way it’s meant to be played.

Connect with Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream “Hooks” on  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on  iTunes

CENTURY THIEF – EP Review: “Deaf Beneath the Waves”

Century Thief is a six-piece indie folk/rock band based in Toronto, Canada.  Drawing from influences like Broken Social Scene, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Wilco, and Elliott Smith, they’ve developed a melodic, unconventional and captivating sound. Thanks to an impressive array of instrumentation, including brass, woodwinds, keys, guitars, bass and drums, as well as lush vocal harmonies, their music has a rich orchestral quality, yet is very accessible and down to earth. A sound engineer in Montreal once described their sound as “trash lounge folk prog rock” – a fitting description they liked so much they use it in their bio.

Century Thief

Century Thief is comprised of Michael Legere (guitar and vocals), Kathryn Kearns (keys, woodwinds and vocals), Omar Shabbar (guitar and vocals), Dante Matas (bass), Adam Reid (brass) and Colin McNally (drums). They released their debut EP Reverie in 2015, and this May dropped their stunning new EP Deaf Beneath the Waves. The band provided a bit of background about the EP to webzine Live in Limbo: “Deaf Beneath the Waves is about coming to terms with your place in the world. The songs interrogate past patterns of behavior, and struggle to light a path forward. The EP is a nostalgic inquiry into mortality, futility and the desire to find meaning and purpose in life and love. It was recorded at a farmhouse in Madoc, Ontario.”

The first track “406” is a hauntingly beautiful but melancholy song about acknowledging the hurt one has caused another in a relationship, and wanting forgiveness and a second chance: “How could I mess up this bad? Please forget these mistakes I have. And I can’t stop thinking about you.” The track starts off with an enchanting, almost magical intro, with delicate xylophone and strings, then acoustic guitar and keyboards are gradually added along with lovely harmonizing vocals. The instrumentals expand to include moody trumpet, fluttering flute and smooth percussion as the track builds to a climax. It’s a gorgeous song whose melody stayed with me long afterwards.

You Are Here” is a beautifully moving track with a bit of a jazzy vibe. Lovely keyboards and trumpets take a starring role, and Legere’s vocals are really wonderful as he sings about feeling unsure of how to continue in the relationship: “I’ve been pacing around the same ideas. Haven’t worked before, this time I’m not sure.” The backing vocal harmonies are sublime.

The band states that the third track “Science of Solace” is “about waking up submerged in a lake and deciding whether to return to the surface, to grow some gills and start a new life, or just sink into the next world.” It has more of a pop song feel, with Kathryn’s charming vocals dominating, backed with an extended horn riff, pleasing tempo and some discordant synth sounds.

All three tracks are marvelous, and over far too quickly. Century Thief is an amazingly talented group of musicians, and we need to hear more of their innovative music, hopefully soon!

Connect with Century Thief:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp / iTunes

Top 30 Songs for June 3-9, 2018

1. PINK LEMONADE – James Bay (1) 4th week #1
2. THIS IS AMERICA – Childish Gambino (2)
3. HANDYMAN – AWOLNATION (3)
4. BAD BAD NEWS – Leon Bridges (5)
5. I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING – Two Feet (7)
6. &RUN – Sir Sly (4)
7. BROKEN – lovelytheband (6)
8. ZOMBIE – Bad Wolves (9)
9. THOUGHT CONTAGION – Muse (10)
10. CELEBRATE – Dirty Heads, Unlikely Candidates (11)
11. WHATEVER IT TAKES – Imagine Dragons (8)
12. DEVIL – Shinedown (15)
13. SAY AMEN (SATURDAY NIGHT) – Panic! At the Disco (14)
14. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY – Blue October (16)
15. GUIDE YOU IN THE DARK – RECKLESS JACKS (13)
16. HUNGER – Florence + the Machine (26)
17. UNWIND – John Defeo (19)
18. FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE – Robert DeLong, K.Flay (20)
19. COLORS – Beck (22)
20. WITHOUT WALLS – Lyia Meta (18)
21. SILVER LINING – Mt. Joy (24)
22. LIFE TO FIX – The Record Company (25)
23. FOUR OUT OF FIVE – Arctic Monkeys (29)
24. THE JOKE – Brandi Carlile (12)
25. THE NIGHT HAS AN ALIBI – Wons Phreely + the Horses (17)
26. RED MOON SKY – Face of Stone (28)
27. SIT NEXT TO ME – Foster the People (RE)
28. QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT – Bastille (30)
29. 44 – Oli Barton & the Movement (N)
30. FRACTURED NATION – Future Theory (N)