Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 20 – Lowry Lane, Onism E, Martin Saint, The Zangwills

With so much new music being released, it’s time for another Fresh New Tracks post. Today I’m pleased to present four outstanding new singles by, in alphabetical order, German singer-songwriter Lowry Lane, New York City-based indie rock band Onism E, Canadian singer-songwriter Martin Saint, and British alt-rock band The Zangwills.

Lowry Lane – “Wasting Time”

Lowry Lane (born Paul Friebe) is an earnest, thoughtful and talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Regensburg, Germany. Influenced by a vast spectrum of acts ranging from Sonic Youth, The Velvet Underground and The Cure to Nirvana, The Strokes and Kurt Vile, Lowry creates their own unique brand of alternative indie rock. We’ve followed each other on social media for more than five years, and I’ve featured them several times on this blog, most recently in October 2021 when I reviewed their excellent debut album Lonely War. An ambitious and deeply personal work, the album touched on dark subjects like relationship troubles, personal loss, addiction and mental health, while still offering glimmers of optimism.

Lowry has just released a new single “Wasting Time“, a song that seems to be about the passage of time and making the most of it – or not: “Is stealing time really a crime? Running on empty, while others have plenty. Our hearts may be shattered, our souls may be scattered. We’re still alive and kicking, the clock keeps on ticking. So take me home to places that I’ve never known. Take your time. Yeah, I’ve been wasting most of mine.” The song has a bit of a Kurt Vile feel, with a meandering laid-back groove, highlighted by Lowry’s intricate textured guitar work. I love the elastic ‘rubberband’ sound of their guitar, which nicely contrast with the wonderful chiming riffs. The swirling synths and snappy drum fills are great too. Their smooth vocals are delivered in a casual monotone, yet still sound impactful. I love the endearing artwork for the single, which is from an old photo of Lowry as a child.

Onism E – “It’s Not Over”

Indie rock band Onism E is the brainchild of California-born, Texas-raised and now New York City-based singer-songwriter Eline Chavez (the term “Onism” can be defined as “The awareness of how little of the world you will actually experience.”). In addition to Eline, the band includes Chris ‘Lefty’ Vargas on guitar, Magnus Timbre on bass, and Raj Arenas on drums. Since the release of their debut single “Love You More” in August 2019, they’ve dropped several more outstanding singles, as well as an album Survivors in February 2021. This past May, they released a brilliant single “Lin Manuel“, inspired by Eline’s struggles of trying to make it as a musician during the uncertainty of the pandemic (read my review here). The song spent three months on my Weekly Top 30 over the summer, peaking at #13.

Now they’re back with “It’s Not Over“, a lovely uplifting single, accompanied by a beautiful heartwarming video, that celebrate the strength and resiliency of the human spirit, and that, together with love and support, we’ll make it through the dark times. Musically, the song features a gorgeous blend of twangy and shimmery guitars, accompanied by a subtle bassline, thumping drumbeats and lots of crashing cymbals, and finishing with a blast of distorted guitars before fading out. Eline’s beautiful, fervent vocals are filled with emotion and a vulnerable sense of urgency as she sings “You had this idea that the world isn’t all blue. It’s all kinds of colors, most I never knew. But sometimes love is blinded by the dark. And sometimes it feels like healing takes too long to start. But no one is being left behind. No baby, I’ve got you. There’s no me without you. This river will guide us through. It’s not over. No, we’ve just begun.

Martin Saint – The Law

Martin Saint is a singer-songwriter and guitarist based in Montreal. Active in the local music scene for many years, he’s also currently the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Montreal-based alt-rock band The Ember Glows (whose recently-released EP Where Spirits Play, I reviewed last month), and was previously front man for the band Citylake. He’s released a fair amount of music as a solo artist, including a spoken word EP Fly Tales in 2019, an album One Word Away in January 2020, and the EP Last New Year’s Eve in March 2021. On November 4th, he dropped his latest offering “The Law“, a rearranged cover of the Leonard Cohen original. While Cohen’s original has a slow, almost mournful feel, with sparse instrumentals and a gentle backing female chorus, Saint speeds up the tempo a bit, adds mysterious cinematic synths, a more pronounced beat, and lots of multi-textured guitars. Some of his guitar notes, which go from shimmery to chiming to twangy reverb, are absolutely stunning. His warm, smooth vocals are both sultry and comforting, and as I noted in my The Ember Glows review, remind me of the late Scott Walker.

People have speculated as to the song’s meaning, but Cohen’s use of the words ‘law, arm and hand’ in the lyrics –  “I’m not asking for mercy. Not from the man. You just don’t ask for mercy while you’re still on the stand. There s a Law, there’s an Arm, there’s a Hand. I don’t claim to be guilty. Guilty’s too grand. There s a Law, there’s an Arm, there’s a Hand” – suggest it’s about morality and judgement, whether by oneself or by a higher power, and paying for one’s crimes, whether you feel remorse or guilt for them or not. In a 1985 interview, Cohen said “I always felt this was a ‘post-guilt’ song. There is an age of guilt, and we are in the age after. Guilt is too inflamed an emotion, even for us today…” Others have said it speaks to the chains of love, and the preordained rules which we must follow, no matter how painful or difficult they might me. Whatever it’s meaning, I think Saint does justice to Cohen’s song.

The Zangwills – “Backpatters and Shooters”

Last, but most certainly not least, are British four-piece The Zangwills. Based in Cheshire, they consist of the immensely talented Jake Vickers (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ed Dowling (bass), Sam Davies (lead guitar) and Adam Spence (drums). Their exciting, highly melodic music is outstanding, with a maturity of songwriting and musicianship as fine as many top big-name bands around today. Though they’ve been actively making music since 2017, when they were all still in their teens, I didn’t learn about them until summer of 2021, when I was blown away by their magnificent single “Never Looked Back”. I reviewed the song, and loved it so much that it went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30, and ended up at #24 on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list.

They followed with another beautiful single “The Feeling” this past February, and on November 11th, they dropped their latest single “Backpatters and Shooters“.  Like their previous singles, the song was produced and engineered by Mark Winterburn and mastered by Ben Booker. And let me say that I was every bit as stunned when I first listened to it as I’d been with “Never Looked Back”. Wow, what a gorgeous song it is, with a haunting piano-driven melody and some of the most achingly beautiful guitar work I’ve heard in a while. Those lush, twangy guitar notes, combined with that haunting piano and glorious sweeping synths, have me covered in chills with every listen. Then there are Jake’s beautiful emotive vocals, which have an incredible vulnerability as he croons the lyrics addressing the pursuit of love and how love far outweighs the importance of anything else: “You know that I’d be the first to plant roses in your face, and frame beauty with beauty. And though I’m dying of thirst, I’m still running in your race. With the men who pat my back, and the men who would shoot me. And when I look up, if I squint I see love. But it’s never that much, and no it’s never enough.” I love this song, and I love this band!

WINACHI – Single Review: “Heaven in Hell.A”

British electro-funk/soul collective WINACHI are all about fun and having a good time. Their infectious sexy grooves – which they describe as “swaggering Mancunian tenacity spliced with smooth Californian G Funk soul” – are guaranteed to have you shaking your ass with a smile on your face.

Based in and around Manchester, WINACHI originally formed in 2015 as The Winachi Tribe, and have undergone a few personnel changes over the years. They’re now comprised of founding members Liam Croker (lyrics and vocals), Antony Egerton (keyboards, programming) and Inder Goldfinger (percussion), along with Andy McKay (lead guitar), Richard Ritchie (bass) and Paul Lawrence (drums), all accomplished musicians with diverse musical backgrounds.

I first learned about them in Spring of 2018, around the time they released their funky dance single “Transition”. I instantly loved it, as well as all their subsequent releases, and have featured them on this blog more times than I can remember (you can find links to some of those reviews under “Related” at the end of this post.)

WINACHI has collaborated over the years with musicians and producers in both the UK and Southern California, and this past March, Liam, Antony and Inder returned to Los Angeles to work with producers John X (who’s worked with such artists as David Bowie, the Rolling Stones & Reeves Gabrels) and Joe Hirst (Ian Brown, Bloc Party). Together they recorded the single “Heaven In Hell.A“, which they released along with an entertaining video on Halloween. The song is the lead single from their forthcoming full length debut album Sympathy For The Future, due for release next year. The song and video were recorded and produced at the Earthstar Creation Centre in the L.A. community of Venice.

Musically, the features a delicious signature WINACHI dance groove, over which they layer thick drum-bass beats, spooky psychedelic synths, and lots of funky guitar. Liam’s distinctive vocals, which sit in a sweet spot between sultry and raspy, perfectly complement the music’s mysterious, yet lighthearted, vibe.

As to the song’s meaning, my take is that it speaks to the seductive nature of Los Angeles (Liam loves the city) and how, despite its many shortcomings, it’s also a magical place that can really get under your skin. (I lived there for eight years in the 1980s, and have a conflicted love/hate feeling for it myself.) He uses a demonic she-devil woman as a metaphor for L.A.’s seductive, intoxicating power: “The city’s heart is burning, hotter than the sun, The life you taste upon your breath is the proof you’ve had your fun. The city’s pulse it’s beating to the rhythm of her drum. You know she’s gonna love you, as long as you keep breathing. Once you’re in hell and under her spell, then you know that you won’t be leaving.”

The video, written and directed by Tom Muhl, shows the three members of WINACHI arriving at a party, whereupon they meet a man played by John X and a woman played by Frankie Clarke of L.A. band Frankie + The Studs. They give the guys little black pills that appear to be in the shape of a devil’s head, and soon after ingesting them they start tripping out, with the other party attendees appearing to be zombies with skeletal faces. The guys escape in a car, roaming the nighttime streets of L.A., where they continue to encounter more skeletal demons, and eventually, Antony become a zombie himself. The next morning, Liam is shown chilling on a beach, seemingly relieved that last night’s events appear to have been just a nightmare. But then, he sees the she-devil standing nearby, holding an hourglass and shrieking with macabre laughter.

Here’s just the track itself:

While in Los Angeles last March, WINACHI played a gig at the landmark club The Mint, which, other than for a couple of brief closures, has been in almost continuous operation since 1937. I had the pleasure of finally meeting Liam, Antony and Inder, and seeing them perform some of their songs that I love.

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

BARBARA – Single Review: “Waiting Outside Alone”

Since bursting onto the British music scene at the beginning of 2021 with their wonderful debut single “BRB”, pop duo Barbara has built a loyal following with their pleasing retro brand of, in their own words, “soft, syrupy progressive fop pop”. The music project of Henry and John Tydeman, two charming brothers from Brighton and Hove, England, Barbara describes their sound as “a bit of 70s US AM radio, a dash of English music hall, the effortless catchiness of a Broadway musical, a sprinkling of sequined power pop, luscious Disney strings and glorious golden harmonies.” Listening to their feel-good music, I’d say that’s a perfect description I cannot improve upon.

They followed “BRB” with three more singles, including the delightful “Rainy Days in June” (which I reviewed last November), as well as their debut five-track EP Mildly Entertaining this past April. Now they’re back with a terrific new single “Waiting Outside Alone“, which drops today, November 9th. As with their other songs, John and Henry sang vocals, with keyboards played by Henry, guitar by Dean Llewelyn, bass by Jack Hosgood and drums by Lawrie Miller. The song features their signature sunny vibe, with a bouncy, toe-tapping 60s groove fueled by subtle bass, snappy drums, a colorful mix of chiming and gnarly guitars, and cheerful synths, punctuated by some tasty organ notes. But the highlight for me are John and Henry’s beautiful lilting harmonies, which are quite marvelous. I love how well their singing voices complement one another.   

In sharp contrast to the song’s carefree, upbeat sound, the thoughtful lyrics touch on a darker, more serious subject. Barbara explains “The lyrics reflect an intense, youthful frustration; ‘Waiting Outside Alone’ both calls out the reactionary elements that have come to dominate British politics, and laments the sidelining of young people from the fractious national debate.” The same can be said about American politics. “Waiting Outside Alone” is song we need today, and I love it.

Everywhere we walk about, we stop to talk about people, and places and things,
It’s all we want to think, kick up a stink about people, that wait in the wings by the side of the stage, in the words on the page of the editorial, the dictatorial view,
Shouldn’t the commentator’s comment be true?

Where did the chancers, dreamers, blue eyed schemers,
Men in suits and window cleaners go?
Ooh, wo, ho, oh, oh


Coz I’m waiting outside alone,
And the rest of the world don’t know,
That it breaks me down, the way those clowns are treating me, keeping me, waiting outside alone

Everywhere she goes she says she’s making this country’s case and staking her well-found reputation on stiff upper lips and soldier songs

Stiff upper lips won’t save the men in suits and badger baiters oh,
Ooh, wo, ho, oh, oh

Coz I’m waiting outside alone,
And the rest of the world don’t know,
That it breaks me down, the way those clowns are treating me, keeping me, waiting outside alone

Coz I’m waiting outside alone,
And the rest of the world don’t know,
That it breaks me down, the way those clowns are treating me, keeping me, waiting outside alone

Do I have to be on my own?
Ooh woo ooh ooh ooh
Ooh, woo ooh ooh
Treating me, keeping me….

Connect with Barbara: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music: Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / YouTube

Krosst Out featuring OnCue – Single Review: “Anesthesia”

Photo by Tavish K and artwork by Melotika

Krosst Out is a Canadian singer-songwriter and rapper now based in Toronto, who I’ve been following since early 2017. I’ve written about him and his music numerous times over the years, including a review of his debut EP Life of the Party, an outstanding work that examined the darker aspects of party life, along with the sex, drugs and alcohol abuse that often go hand in hand (which you can read here) as well as a review of his brilliant autobiographical album Phone Calls With Ghosts, (which you can read here). That album is a decidedly bleak work addressing youthful mistakes, broken relationships, and the reality that nothing will ever again be what it once was.

OnCue is a singer-songwriter and hip hop artist originally from Connecticut and currently based in Los Angeles, who started rapping at the age of 11 and recording music when he was 13. His difficult childhood and family life have been a huge inspiration to his songs, which often get very personal. He raps about the struggles he went through and how he’s overcome them. From what I can tell, the prolific artist released Cueyfornication in 2009, a mixtape featuring his lyrics set to the instrumentation of several Red Hot Chili Peppers classics, and sung by a collection of hip hop artists. He released his first solo single “Feel Tall” in 2011, and has since dropped four albums, three EPs and numerous singles. On October 19th, he released his sultry single “Ultraviolet”, a significant stylistic departure from his usual hip hop/rap sound, and will be dropping his new EP Bench Pressing My Ghosts on November 18th.

The two recently teamed up to record a superb new single “Anesthesia“, which dropped November 4th. OnCue is one of Krosst Out’s all-time favorite artists, so it was a dream come true when he said yes to collaborating on the song. The track was written by Krosst Out, and produced by his long-time collaborator Jor’Del Downz, and mixed and mastered by Taabu. Starting with a rather unsettling but hypnotic skittering beat, they layer darkly beautiful and ominous synths to create a haunting cinematic soundscape for the compelling lyrics about fragile mental health.

Krosst Out says “Anesthesia” is sung from the “point of view of an introvert that has a million thoughts per second and can never seem to concentrate. U feel like ur underwater most days and can’t clear your head. This song is for anyone feeling like they’re drowning or underwater and can’t make it up.”

The song opens with the chorus, beautifully sung by OnCue “I just need one more cig just to feel numb. I just need one more hit just to feel numb. My heart done froze baby comatose.” Then Krosst Out raps the verses describing his need for relief from the emotional trauma and pain he’s feeling: “Every now and then I, need to clear my head. I really really feel like I need anesthesia just to help, cuz I’m checking out from these emotions. And I need that shit in heavy doses. I don’t wanna feel a fuckin’ thing. No love, no pain…” I’ve always admired his rapping and freestyle skills, and though there’s clearly structure to these verses, his flow here is outstanding. “Anesthesia” is a terrific song!

Connect with Krosst Out:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp

Connect with OnCue:  FacebookTwitterInstagram
Stream his music on SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud YouTube

COLUMBIA – Single Review: “Disorder”

Artwork by Stay Focused Photography

I’m back in Wales (having just featured Welsh singer-songwriter Caitlin Lavagna last week) to shine a spotlight on indie rock band Columbia, who released their new single “Disorder” on November 4th. The Cardiff-based act was formed in 2019 by long-time friends Ben Rowlands (lead guitar) and Craig Lewis (vocals/rhythm guitar), who had been in a handful of other bands both together and separately over the years. They released their debut single “Fall Into the Sun” at the end of 2019, followed by a number of singles over the next two years. While in the process of recording their debut album Embrace the Chaos in 2021, they brought on bassist Aron Stenning to complete their current lineup.

Columbia released Embrace the Chaos in March 2022, garnering positive reviews from both music writers and fans. They celebrated its release at a sold-out show at The Moon in Cardiff, and have since performed at such renowned venues as Camden’s Fiddlers Elbow, The Dublin Castle, and SWNDfest at The Bunkhouse, Swansea, as well as playing on several This Feeling shows supporting The Shakes and The Kairos (another band I’ve previously featured on this blog). The band will be performing this weekend at the sold-out Shiiine On Weekender 2022 festival at Butlin’s Minehead Arena in Somerset. Their set is scheduled for Saturday, November 12th.

Photo by Stay Focused Photography

Recorded at King’s Road Studios in Cardiff and produced by Andrew Sanders, “Disorder” marks a new direction for Columbia. Not only is the song their first to be written by lead guitarist Ben Rowlands, (their previous songs have been written by Lewis), it’s also their most powerful track yet. Sanders has called “Disorder” “the biggest sounding track I’ve made with a band“, while the band cheekily notes that the song’s “incredible wall of sound makes you wonder where on earth Ben has been hiding this behind his calm and quiet demeanour?

The song is a darkly beautiful, cinematic anthem. Opening with ominous sounds of police sirens and helicopters circling overhead, suggesting unrest in the streets, our ears are suddenly hit with a barrage of gnarly guitars, grinding bass and thunderous drums, accompanied by Lewis’ commanding vocals. I love the song’s portentous swirling melody, and the intricate guitar work – punctuated here and there with delicate acoustic notes, only to explode into a wailing solo in the bridge – is spectacular.

My take as to the song’s meaning is that it speaks to the addictive nature of public protests and disorder in the streets, how easily people can become attracted to them by the adrenaline rush from participating in such events that usually involve intense anger and/or passion for a particular cause. We’ve seen how these public protests can sometimes feed upon themselves, growing larger and out of control as crowds grow and tempers rise: “I’m breaking the silence. I feel my fear running. Don’t want to believe it, but everything is changing The colors are fading, the sound around me rising, climbing higher and higher and higher. I feel it, I need it, the streets are in disorder. Addiction, a feeling I couldn’t ever be there. I had it, I want it. The streets are in disorder, climbing higher and higher and higher.

“Disorder” is a phenomenal track, nicely showcasing Columbia’s continued growth as a band.

Connect with Columbia: FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple MusicAmazon Music

Purchase on BandcampAmazon

Top 30 Songs for November 6-12, 2022

The beautiful “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” by Beach Weather remains my favorite song again this week, while Steve Lacy‘s “Bad Habit” holds at #2 for a second week after spending two weeks at #1. “Cracker Island” by Gorillaz featuring Thundercat moves up a notch to #3, while “Party4One” by Canadian artist dwi, and “The Echo” by British singer-songwriter A.A. Williams, each climb two spots to #5 and #6. “Sisters” by Irish artist pMad enters the top 10 at #10. Debuting this week are the sultry and cinematic “Unholy” by British singer-songwriter Sam Smith, featuring German singer-songwriter Kim Petras, which enters at #27, and “sail away” by Los Angeles-based alternative pop trio lovelytheband, at #30 (I find it interesting that some artists and bands spell their names and songs in all lower-case letters).

  1. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (1)
  2. BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (2)
  3. CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (4)
  4. MY BABE – Spoon (3)
  5. PARTY4ONE – dwi (7)
  6. THE ECHO – A.A. Williams (8)
  7. BOY – The Killers (5)
  8. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (6)
  9. WET DREAM – Wet Leg (10)
  10. SISTERS – pMad (11)
  11. THESE ARE THE DAYS – Inhaler (12)
  12. SPIT OF YOU – Sam Fender (14)
  13. SNAP – Rosa Linn (19)
  14. WHITE HORSES – Art Block (15)
  15. CREST OF THE WAVE – Foals (16)
  16. I LIKE YOU (A HAPPIER SONG) – Post Malone & Doja Cat (17)
  17. WEIRD GOODBYES – The National featuring Bon Iver (18)
  18. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (9)
  19. TONIGHT – Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig (21)
  20. TEK IT – Cafuné (13)
  21. TIPPA MY TONGUE – Red Hot Chili Peppers (23)
  22. NATURAL BORN KILLER – Highly Suspect (25)
  23. I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU – The 1975 (26)
  24. OFFCUTS – Mount Famine (27)
  25. I.N.V.U. – Kid Kapichi (28)
  26. SHADOWS IN THE DARK – The Star Crumbles (29)
  27. UNHOLY – Sam Smith featuring Kim Petras (N)
  28. BITTER – Wild Horse (20)
  29. SCARED TOGETHER – Silversun Pickups (30)
  30. SAIL AWAY – lovelytheband (N)

THIS HEART I SURRENDER – Album Review: “THIS: FOUNDATIONS”

One of my recent music finds is an alternative rock band from Wisconsin with the rather endearing name of This Heart I Surrender. The other day I happened upon their debut album THIS: FOUNDATIONS, which dropped October 21st, and made the wise decision to give it a listen. I immediately liked it, so much so that I reached out to the band to let them know I would be featuring it on my blog.

Combining elements of emo-punk, metal and alternative rock, they create melodic, impactful rock music that sounds at once familiar, yet distinctly their own. Listening to their music, I hear an eclectic range of influences from bands like Sum 41, Bring Me the Horizon, Aerosmith and Blink-182, to name just a few that come to mind. According to their bio, “blaring guitars, strong vocal melodies, and beat thumping drums is what This Heart I Surrender is all about; the powerful hooky melodies and ear-candy moments will have you coming back wishing the song was longer.” After listening to their album, I can’t argue with that!

The engaging and talented four-piece consists of lead vocalist Jourdan Westenberg, drummer/beat maker Jairius Stolar, lead guitarist Kyle Conner, and bassist/guitarist Will Peters, who joined the band while recording of the album was underway, but ended up playing bass on all the tracks. (Unfortunately, the band already had photos taken of themselves before he came on board, hence the inclusion of only three band members in their photo).

THIS: FOUNDATIONS opens with the beautiful and cinematic neoclassical “OVERTURE“, which sounds like it could be part of the soundtrack to a fantasy adventure film or series like Game of Thrones. This overture was composed by This Heart I Surrender with the assistance of Larry Moore, who band vocalist Jourdan described as ‘a master of synthesized orchestration’. Indeed, Mr. Moore co-wrote, arranged and played the orchestral string parts for the entire album. Jourdan added that nearly every track includes an element of strings, and was intended as the connecting “sound” between songs.

Thinking it might be a concept album of sorts, I also asked about the album’s title, to which Jourdan responded: “If I had to describe the theme of the album it’s in the title. This is our first full length album, and we titled it ‘Foundations’ because it’s the foundations of us starting out. Our sound. Our style. All of it. A lot of the songs [touch on the idea] of a new beginning and being tired of the same old same old. Taking risks and moving forward toward something new.”

“OVERTURE” directly segues into “RAISE IT” a powerful and stunning rock anthem, featuring added vocals by Garett Rapp of Illinois metalcore band The Color Morale. The inspirational song is a clarion call to arms against forces who lie and distort the truth for the purpose of keeping us divided and fighting each other: “Falling short when we need to stand up strong. Why do we keep on deciding wrong? Faceless victims in the night, not knowing where the demons hide. So raise it up, raise it up! Let us spark a revolution today!” Jourdan and Garett’s dual vocals complement each other nicely.

Themes of love and loss are addressed again and again on the album. “THANK YOU” is a beautiful song of thanks to a loved one who’s no longer around, but who had a major part in shaping who we are now. Jourdan has a great voice, and his plaintive vocals are heartfelt and filled with emotion as he sings “I never expected to lose you. I never thought I’d say goodbye. I know there’s a promise to see you. I cling to that hope with my life. But until that day. All I can say is ‘thank you’. Thank you for all that you were for me. Thank you for everything.” And on “STAY“, he pleads for someone to stay with him and help him through a rough patch.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “MORE THAN A MELODY“, a gorgeous song that starts off as a gentle ballad with breathtaking acoustic and chiming guitars, then transitions into a stirring anthem, highlighted by soaring vocal harmonies and a terrific solo in the bridge. The lyrics seem to address a troubled relationship, and trying to remember the things that brought you together in the first place: “Remember what you are to me. You’re more than a melody? You’re more than a song. You’re more than a moment that’s fading along. Are we caught up in our mess? Broke in all that stress. Forgetting just who we are. We won’t forget.”

DEATH OF IT” is a fast-paced rock song, with driving rhythms and bold, jagged riffs. The lyrics speak of never giving up on your dreams, and to keep moving toward your goals: “I’ll keep my mind on this. I won’t give up or quit. Rushing, rushing around, don’t let my feet hit the ground. Never stop moving. Oh, this is the death of it.”

WELCOME TO COMPROMISE” has a bit of a Blink-182 feel. thanks to its lively groove and Jourdan’s fervent vocals. The bittersweet lyrics speak of reminiscing about a lost romantic relationship and what could have been: “I’ll always miss you and I won’t forget you. I’ve been wondering how you are, and how you have been. I’ve been wishing to go back relive the moments. Though I miss you, you’re always with me.

True to its title, “HAUNTING” is a hauntingly beautiful song, both musically and lyrically. Once again, I have to bring attention to the stunning guitar work, as well as the arresting melody and Jourdan’s commanding, emotion-filled vocals. The song is about struggling with emotional demons, and fighting to overcome them: “My demons haunt me no matter where I go./The war is raging and it’s never letting go. Sometimes I hold my head and wish that it would stop. Seems like a cycle that will never end at all. It’s all the same, haunting me. So let it rain./This isn’t who I want to be.”

Closing track “DAYS OF GOLD” speaks to those who are struggling day to day, hoping there’s something more for them in this life: “Back at it again repeating my steps. Still waiting for an answer if there’s one at all. Still sit here in the grind, thinking I’m made for more. I’m not looking for some glory, just a different story. I’m done with the same thing tonight. I’m holding on for a new light. I don’t know tomorrow, but still I will wait for a better day.” The song is a brilliant rock anthem, and I love how it closes with beautiful orchestral strings, bring the album full-circle. The guys really show us what they can do here, blowing our minds and dazzling our ears with their impressive musicianship, while Jourdan digs deep into his core, summoning all the passion he can muster to deliver a spine-tingling vocal performance. Watch and listen to them create musical magic:

THIS: FOUNDATIONS is an outstanding album, and a triumphant debut for This Heart I Surrender. All the hard work and effort they put into it really shows, for which they should be quite proud. It’s my honor to support them.

Connect with This Heart I Surrender: FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream their music: SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudYouTube

CAITLIN LAVAGNA – Single Review: “Night Bus”

Sometimes the most compelling lyrics are born from adversity and pain, which is certainly the case for the beautiful new single “Night Bus” by Welsh singer-songwriter Caitlin Lavagna. Born and raised in the picturesque Rhondda Valley, with strong Gibraltarian roots, the multi-talented and lovely singer-songwriter, musician and actress has had a life-long love for music and the arts, with a special passion for percussion and drums. Her vibrant vocal style is heavily influenced by some of her favorite artists like Sting, Stevie Nicks, Florence Welch, P!nk and Adele. 

Photo by Akta Photography

In July 2021, Caitlin released her marvelous debut single “How Not To Start a Fight”, which I reviewedNow she’s back with her second single “Night Bus”, which is every bit as good. In addition to singing both vocals and backing harmonies, she also played drums and percussion on the track. And from what I was able to gather from her Instagram post about the song, fellow Welsh musician Mark Croft played guitar and bass, Joe Rodwell programmed synths, and Lucas August Mendes produced, engineered and mixed the track. 

The song was inspired by her experience of moving to London for the purpose of furthering her music and acting career, and the disappointments and struggles she faced while there. She elaborates: “‘Night Bus” is about being a young creative in a big city with life getting in the way of that creativity. Working 40 hours a week, burning money on everything apart from your career, going around in circles and seeing the worst of a city you thought would give you your big break. As a young Welsh Actor Musician, I experienced this recently when deciding to finally leave London and move home to the Rhondda. It was a difficult time, because after all, everyone says you won’t be successful unless you’re in the City. That was not my experience at all. I was so tired. When I did have time, I would be burnt out from work or supporting other musician and actor friends in shows and gigs I couldn’t really afford to go to. I hope people can relate to this track and that it provides them some comfort and escape. It is both angry and triumphant with a catchy melody and beat!

I like how the song starts off slowly, with Caitlin’s lovely pensive vocals accompanied by gently-strummed guitar notes and airy synths, then gradually builds into a dramatic sweeping anthem. The sparkling synths, thumping bass and lively guitars are superb, but just as with “How Not To Start a Fight”, the highlight for me are Caitlin’s commanding impassioned vocals, as well as her exuberant galloping drumbeats that give the track such incredible energy and force. It’s a wonderful track.

I’m feeling sad
Sad girl on the train 
I feel so bad
It’s coming back again 

Come to London City 
When you cry you look so pretty
It’s a waste that no one looks at your face 
When I close my eyes that’s when I feel like I’m alright 
When I’m awake then I get lost in the space 

I’m so tired…

Fist fights
Laddered tights 
Dancing under fairy lights 
Thought I was doing fine 
Night bus 
Reckless 
Everybody look at us 
But not in the morning light 
Woahhh 
Eighteen 
Daydreams 
Circling my bloodstream 
The City that swallowed me up

I learn my lines 
I turn up to play 
I show up on time 
Reject me anyway

Come to London City 
When you cry you look so pretty
It’s a waste that no one looks at your face 
When I close my eyes that’s when I feel like I’m alright 
When I’m awake then I get lost in the space 

I’m so tired…

Fist fights
Laddered tights 
Dancing under fairy lights 
Thought I was doing fine

Night bus 
Reckless 
Everybody look at us 
But not in the morning light 
Woahhh 
Eighteen 
Daydreams 
Circling my bloodstream 
The City that swallowed me up 

Woahhh

(So tired of the City) 
Fist fights
Laddered tights 
Dancing under fairy lights 
Thought I was doing fine 
Night bus 
Reckless 
Everybody look at us 
But not in the morning light 
(So tired of the city)
Woahhh 
Eighteen 
Daydreams 
Circling my bloodstream 
The City that swallowed me up

And I try and I fail and I try and I fail and I try 
(Fist fights
Laddered tights 
Dancing under fairy lights)
I get up again
And I try and I fail and I try and I fail and I try 
(Night bus 
Reckless 
Everybody look at us)
I get up again

And I try and I fail and I try and I fail and I try 
(Woahhh) 
In the City that swallowed me up

Connect with Caitlin:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream her song:  Spotify / Apple MusicYouTube

WE KILLED THE LION – Album Review: “Boogie Shoe Blues”

We Killed the Lion is an alternative hard rock band from Chicago I recently learned about when their keyboardist Stan Tencza reached out to me about reviewing their new album Boogie Shoe Blues. Along with Tencza, who also plays keyboards for Chicago alternative/progressive rock band Polarizer (whose album Love from the Underground I reviewed last November), the other band members are Brian Lorenc on guitar & vocals, Joe Gunia on bass & vocals, and Leonard Warren on drums. Formed in 2011, their heavy sound is infused with elements of stoner rock, grunge, psychedelic blues and even a bit of doom to darken things up a bit.

They released their self-titled debut album We Killed the Lion in 2012, then followed two years later with an EP One Way Ride, then a second album Circle of Stars in 2017. After a four-year hiatus, they began work on Boogie Shoe Blues, and dropped the first single “Final Stand” this past April, followed by “Southern Death Trip” in August. Today (Halloween), along with the album’s release, they also release a new video for “Snake Bite”. Though Boogie Shoe Blues contains only eight tracks, three of them are more than six minutes long, making the album feel more substantial than eight tracks would suggest.

Let me state up front that I don’t normally gravitate toward this type of grungy hard rock, however, I listened to the album several times with open ears and an open mind, and found lots to like about it. Opening track “Final Stand” is a fine representation of their signature brawny, dark and dirty sound. The guys get right down to business, grabbing us by the throat with a barrage of grinding buzzsaw riffs, bolstered by a deep, chugging bassline and explosive, pummeling drums that never let up for a second. Lorenc and Gunia’s dual echoed vocals sound ominous as they belt out the violent lyrics speaking of going into battle with an entity that was once an ally but now a bitter enemy: “All out of patience, love turned into vengeance. Run away in fear. Spilling out the blood, spitting out the bones, scratching out the eyes. Pray for your last breath, we’re making our final stand.”

The video for the song shows the band breaking into what appears to be an underground club, whereupon they perform “Final Stand”.

While several of the album’s tracks deal with darker topics, a few others touch on pleasures of the flesh with playful lyrics. On “Come on Get Down“, they sing of showing a hot woman a good time: “Little girl I want to take you downtown. Wanna go for a ride? Get in my backseat and spread your mind. I’m gonna show you a good time.” The song’s a sultry banger, with fantastic gnarly guitars that frequently break into a bone-chilling wail, accompanied by Gunia’s throbbing bassline, Tencza’s aggressive keyboards and Warren’s thunderous percussion. And on the sexy “Peach“, they tell a woman exactly what they have in mind: “I wanna sit on your front porch. I want a sip of your ice tea. I want to gaze at your orchid, yeah. I want to taste your peach meat.” I love the song’s deep, bluesy bassline and sludgy guitars.

Dirty Bones” is a speaker-blowing feast for the ears, with more of those fearsome buzzsaw guitars, and ditto for “Southern Death Trip“, with some of the dirtiest riffs I’ve heard in a long while. The album’s title comes from the song’s lyric “Got the boogie shoe blues.” And just when I think the guys have thrown everything in their sonic arsenal our way, they continue to amaze with the psychedelic monster “Rocket“. The song opens with an onslaught of screaming distortion, followed by a thick, lumbering bassline as the guys begin to sing. Things eventually settle into a tumultuous mix of wailing and grungy riffs, pummeling drums and heavy keyboards, that lumbering bassline still keeping the menacing groove.

I think We Killed the Lion would be a great band to see live, and I really like that their videos show them performing their songs, rather than attempting to act out the narrative of the lyrics (which sometimes works well, but more than often falls flat). The cool video for “Southern Death Trip” shows them performing the song wearing fluorescent body paint.

The last two tracks, “Pick Me Up” and the epic “Snake Bite“, have somewhat of a progressive feel, and feature their signature reverb-soaked psychedelic guitars, thick bass and booming percussion. The latter track is spectacular, highlighted by spine-tingling piercing guitars and some really terrific keyboard organ work by Tencza.

To sort of expand on what I stated earlier, this album grew on me with repeated listens, and I’m truly impressed by We Killed the Lion’s strong songwriting and musicianship. If you like your rock music on the heavier side, with elements of psychedelic, grunge, blues and doom, you will enjoy Boogie Shoe Blues.

Connect with We Killed the Lion:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudYouTube

Purchase on Bandcamp

Top 30 Songs for October 30-November 5, 2022

Photo by Kirsten Barnett

It’s not often I fall in love with a song the moment I hear it (it usually takes a couple of listens for most songs to grow on me, even from artists and bands I love), but I fell head over heels for the gorgeous “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” by Beach Weather the instant it hit my ears. I’m certain I’ve listened to it over 100 times on Spotify! Interestingly, the song was originally recorded in 2016, and was featured on their debut EP Chit Chat. After releasing a second EP What a Drag, the band went on hiatus as the three members – Nick Santino, Reeve Powers, and Sean Silverman – relocated to different cities and began working on their own solo projects.

They reunited late last year, and began recording their forthcoming debut album Pineapple Sunrise, featuring their single “Unlovable”, which dropped August 11, their first release in five years. In the meantime, “Sex, Drugs, Etc.” went viral on TikTok, and started getting airplay on AltNation and alternative radio stations. I was immediately struck by the song’s dreamy melody, Nick’s captivating vocals and the guys’ beautiful harmonies, and it debuted on both the Billboard Alternative Airplay and my own Top 30 chart in early September. Now, after hovering in the top 5 the past few weeks, the song takes over the #1 spot on my Weekly Top 30. It’s also now #1 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart. “Floating on my low-key vibe” indeed!

In other chart developments, Wet Leg‘s delightfully cheeky “Wet Dream” enters the top 10, while the lovely “SNAP” by Rosa Linn is this week’s biggest upward mover, climbing seven spots to #19. Four songs enter my chart this week. Debuting at #26 is The 1975‘s “I’m in Love With You”, replacing “Part of the Band” which dropped off the chart; “I.N.V.U.” by British band Kid Kapichi at #28; “Shadows in the Dark” by the amazing duo The Star Crumbles at #29; and “Scared Together” by Silversun Pickups at #30.

  1. SEX, DRUGS, ETC. – Beach Weather (2)
  2. BAD HABIT – Steve Lacy (1)
  3. MY BABE – Spoon (3)
  4. CRACKER ISLAND – Gorillaz featuring Thundercat (6)
  5. BOY – The Killers (4)
  6. HERE TO FOREVER – Death Cab for Cutie (5)
  7. PARTY4ONE – dwi (9)
  8. THE ECHO – A.A. Williams (10)
  9. PLEASE WRITE RESPONSIBLY – Granfalloon (7)
  10. WET DREAM – Wet Leg (11)
  11. SISTERS – pMad (13)
  12. THESE ARE THE DAYS – Inhaler (14)
  13. TEK IT – Cafuné (8)
  14. SPIT OF YOU – Sam Fender (17)
  15. WHITE HORSES – Art Block (18)
  16. CREST OF THE WAVE – Foals (19)
  17. I LIKE YOU (A HAPPIER SONG) – Post Malone & Doja Cat (20)
  18. WEIRD GOODBYES – The National featuring Bon Iver (22)
  19. SNAP – Rosa Linn (26)
  20. BITTER – Wild Horse (16)
  21. TONIGHT – Phoenix featuring Ezra Koenig (27)
  22. SUPERMODEL – Måneskin (12)
  23. TIPPA MY TONGUE – Red Hot Chili Peppers (25)
  24. BONES – Imagine Dragons (15)
  25. NATURAL BORN KILLER – Highly Suspect (28)
  26. I’M IN LOVE WITH YOU – The 1975 (N)
  27. OFFCUTS – Mount Famine (30)
  28. I.N.V.U. – Kid Kapichi (N)
  29. SHADOWS IN THE DARK – The Star Crumbles (N)
  30. SCARED TOGETHER – Silversun Pickups (N)