As I’ve stated previously, one of the many things I enjoy about having a music blog is learning about new indie musicians and bands who are making some really fine music. Another recent find is Los Angeles-based indie rock artist Forever X2, the music project of singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Peter Verdell, who drops his debut EP Forever X2 today, May 22nd. He recently wrapped up an April residency at The Satellite in Los Angeles, which was presented by the legendary L.A. alt-rock radio station KROQ Locals Only program, featuring numerous standout acts from the L.A. music scene.
In his bio, Verdell establishes that he “wants to play power chords. And sing with some fuzz on his vocals. And make music that both his modern brain and his teenage brain would be psyched to hear on the radio.” Well, after listening to the six tracks on Forever X2, I would say that he accomplishes his goals quite nicely. He wrote all the songs in his apartment in downtown Los Angeles, and recorded them in a hot, non-air conditioned garage in Silverlake (where I lived for a brief time back in the 1980s). Verdell sang all vocals and played all the music, including guitars, drums, and keyboards.
In describing his creative process, he explained “I wanted the songs to capture how I felt when I first started playing music. Informal and fresh, sweaty and loud. The EP is special to me for a lot of reasons. It was about as DIY as it could get, and I needed it to be that way. I needed this new band to be fun and fresh and for there to be as few barriers between my brain and the recordings as possible. I worked with two talented dudes on the producing and mixing (Ari Berl and Yianni EP from a band called Pink Skies), and they did a great job. I wanted the songs to feel new but also to feel like they could’ve been on rock radio in 1997. I don’t know how close I got to that, but I’m in love with how the songs turned out. I think they feel fresh and new but also kind of familiar.”
In advance of the EP, Forever X2 released each of the six tracks as singles, beginning in the Fall of 2018 with “Keep the Devil Waiting”, which was recently licensed for an episode of CBS’ TV series Seal Team. The song has a rousing post-grunge vibe with grimy guitars and tumultuous drums. I like how Verdell inserts bits of distortion and reverb into the mix, ramping up the tension and excitement. His fuzz-soaked vocals have a seductive quality, a perfect match for the gnarly music and suggestive lyrics “So give me your love in a hurry. And leave your bible in the nightstand.”
“Think About It” is a fun, sexy song, and one of my favorites on the EP. I love the strong bouncy beat, chugging riffs of fuzzy guitars, and playful, almost psychedelic synths. Forever X2 tries to convince his love interest to quit wasting her time with Hollywood poseurs and get with him: “You need a man like me, someone you ain’t had. Try first with a name and a handshake over jack and a cola. Think about it. Tell me what you’re missin’. A man with a vision, and babe I see you so good.” Lyrics just don’t get any better than that!
The third single “Walk the Ocean” is another great grunge-pop tune, and received substantial airplay on KROQ for several weeks. The infectious song, as well as the following track “Mad For Me”, are both catchy as hell, with irresistible head-bopping beats that aim straight for the hips. Forever X2’s intricate guitar work is really quite marvelous on both songs. “God Don’t Want” has a moodier vibe, with harsh industrial synths and percussion, deep, pulsating bass and heavier, more distorted guitars that reach ear-piercing levels later in the song.
The final track and most recently released single “Forever Times Two” is a darkly beautiful love song, and my favorite on the EP. According to the website Get Some Magazine, which featured the single, the lyrics were inspired by author Stephen King’s book 11.22.63, about a time traveler named Jake who attempts to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. For the song, Forever X2 specifically addresses the doomed love affair between Jake and a woman named Sadie, who in the book is accidentally shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, and dies in Jake’s arms.
The song is musically complex, slowly building in intensity as different instruments and sounds are gradually added in layers, creating a breathtaking and powerful soundscape for the deeply moving lyrics. Starting off with a sci-fi synth, a mix of percussive sounds – including drumbeat, hand clap and bell – ensue, accompanied by ominous synths and sounds of French police sirens as Forever X2 begins to sing in a breathy voice. As the music swells with warm keyboard synths, he sings “Softly calling. I’ve been waiting. I’ve been tracing lines to get back here Sadie. All my days, I’d trade ’em all over again. And I want to be with you ’til I’m gone.” Lush, swirling synths and chiming guitar are added as the music builds to a crescendo, at which point he repeats the lines singing as both Jake and Sadie. The music continues on, accompanied by his gorgeous soaring chorus, for a dramatic finish that leaves me completely covered in goosebumps.
Forever X2 is an outstanding EP, with six stellar tracks that beautifully showcase Verdell’s brilliant songwriting and musicianship. I love his sound and really enjoy listening to these songs again and again. I’m definitely adding this EP to my collection.