Featured Song & Video: VOX EAGLE – “No Sleep”

 

Australian indie electro-psych pop duo Vox Eagle have been busy guys since forming in 2015. Andy Crosby and Luke Hamel, who make up Vox Eagle, spent time traveling throughout the U.S., writing and recording songs for their upcoming EP, scheduled to drop on May 26 (which I’ll be reviewing just prior to its release). They’ve released two amazing songs thus far, “No Sleep” and “Come Over,” along with a video for “No Sleep” that I’m featuring now.

The infectiously catchy song is steeped in lush atmospheric dream-pop grooves, with swirling synths floating over an irresistible bass-heavy dance beat. Andy’s smooth vocals occasionally rise to a stirring falsetto as he croons: “Is it any wonder? The current pulls us under. No sleep no sleep for the wicked no./ I keep on counting sheep. Days into nights, nights into weeks. Out of sight, out of mind, never mind.

The beautifully-filmed and entertaining video shows the guys performing the song in the Mojave Desert (just an hour or so from my home in the Coachella Valley), driving to Las Vegas and cavorting about the Strip at night, not getting any sleep!

Connect with Vox Eagle:  Facebook /  Twitter
Stream their music:  Soundcloud / Spotify
Purchase it:  iTunes

Video Premier: CARBONWORKS – “Monaco”

CarbonWorks is not your typical band. It’s more a collective of talented session musicians really, headed by its creator and guitarist Neal Barnard – who also happens to be a world-renowned medical doctor. Based in Washington, D.C., the band’s music is a unique fusion of rock, contemporary classical, jazz, blues and avant-garde, giving their sound an uncommon breadth and depth. With delicate melodies over driving rhythms, blues overlying classical strings, and frequent use of non-English lyrics, their songs defy categorization. Regarding the band name, in an interview with the website All Access Music, Barnard explained: “Well, ‘The Beatles’ and ‘The Rolling Stones’ were already taken. And at the base of it all, we are carbon, and these are our works.

The band released their debut self-titled album CarbonWorks in December 2016 to rave reviews, and have been releasing a new video of one of the album tracks every month or so. Their latest is a stunning video for the equally stunning instrumental track “Monaco.”

Musically, the electrifying song features Barnard playing a Steinberger guitar, an unusual instrument with no head and almost no body, built from a single piece of graphite/carbon fiber. It has a whammy bar which allows him to make the siren-like descending sounds on the track. Also featured on the track is the dan tranh, a traditional Vietnamese instrument that’s similar to a Japanese koto, played by Chau Nguyen. It sits on a stand like a piano and is played sort of like a harp. The other musicians playing on this track include Allegra Havens on violin, Jeff Phelps on cello, Shea Roebuck on bass and Mike Stetina on drums.

Barnard stated he was inspired to write the song while in the Monaco train station, “when over the loudspeaker came a little four-note chime to announce a message about upcoming trains. And those four notes got stuck in my brain and eventually became a song. You’ll hear Chau play them.”

The music video was actually filmed in the beautiful principality of Monaco. Barnard is shown starting on a run before dawn, then the camera films scenes of what he would observe from his own eyes as he runs the course of the Monaco Grand Prix. The video goes back and forth between footage of the race track and scenes of the band performing the song. At the end of his run, he collapses in front of the Chapel of Sainte-Devote—the hazardous corner where many Formula One cars have crashed or spun out.

To learn more about CarbonWorks, check out their website.

Connect with them:  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram
Stream their music:  YouTube /  Spotify /  Soundcloud
Purchase:  iTunes /  Amazon

Featured Song & Video: CRYSTAL CITIES – “Who’s Gonna Save Us Now”

Every once in a while you hear a song for the first time and it’s instant love. That was my reaction upon first hearing the breathtaking new single “Who’s Gonna Save Us Now” by Australian band Crystal Cities. Musically and lyrically, the song is absolutely stunning, and it’s arrangement and production are flawless.

Based in Sydney, Crystal Cities is Geoff Rana on vocals & guitars, Jared King on bass & backing vocals and Daniel Conte on drums. The guys call their music “Dream Rock that sounds like Death Cab For Cutie had a War On Drugs with The Beatles.” It’s a perfect description of their music style.

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The beautiful video was directed by Vittoria Merlino-Dentice and, as explained in notes for the video, is “set in the 1940’s, [and] follows the journey of two young child compadres as they escape from their well-to-do life, exploring the Australian countryside, and searching for truth from a perspective of innocence and vulnerability.

Connect with Crystal Cities:  Twitter /  Facebook /  Instagram

Stream their music:  Soundcloud /  Spotify /  YouTube

Purchase:  Bandcamp /  iTunes

Featured Video: FOUR COLOUR GHOSTS – “Freak” live

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I recently discovered the alternative rock band Four Colour Ghosts, and once I heard this incredible live performance of their song “Freak” I became an instant fan. Hailing from Teesside, UK, the band is comprised of AJ (Lead Vocals/Guitar, Lewis Jeffreys (Lead Guitar), Paul Brown (Bass/Vocals) and Rob Moore (Drums). Their dynamic, wide-ranging rock style is influenced by such greats as Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, Foo Fighters, Stereophonics, Guns n Roses, and Joe Bonamassa. As they humorously state on their Facebook bio – “We are the band that your music teacher warned you about, the band your neighbours bang on the wall for, the band you want blasting on your car stereo.” Yes, yes and a big yes to all that!

This live performance and the blistering guitar work remind me of Cream at their best. Take a listen and be prepared to have your senses dazed!

Connect with Four Colour Ghosts:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram /

Stream their music: Spotify / YouTube / Soundcloud

Purchase it: iTunes

 

Featured Song and Video: CALLING ALL ASTRONAUTS – “Life As We Know It”

UK band Calling All Astronauts are a London-based three-piece who play complex and dark politically-charged Electronic Goth Post-Punk music.  They’ve established a reputation in the alternative underground not only because of their often provocative lyrics, but also their ability to mix electro, rock, goth, post-punk and dubstep into their amazing music style. Band members include vocalist/songwriter/programmer and producer David B, guitarist JJ Browning, and bassist Paul “Buzz Saw” McCrudden

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In a divergence from their usual darker sound comes their latest single “Life As We Know It.” Taken from their superb highly topical album Anti-Social Network, it’s a really outstanding EDM track featuring gorgeous synths and chiming guitars set to an addictive driving beat. David’s rough monotone vocals contrast with the smooth clear instrumentals, creating a bit of tension that adds to the overall quality of the track. I liked it so much upon my first listen that I had to feature it on this blog.

The terrific video produced for the track features a beautiful young woman dancing to the song in various indoor and outdoor settings, as well as a few other women shown dancing in brief scenes. I promise you’ll end up hitting replay.

To learn more about Calling All Astronauts, check out their website, follow them on  Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Stream their music on Spotify and purchase on iTunesAmazon, Bandcamp or EBay.

Featured Videos: WHALE HOUSE – “Red Sun/Think of Me”

As I’ve stated before on this blog, there is so much great rock music being made by so many talented artists and bands today, that I’m sometimes overwhelmed by it all. And every once in a while, I discover a band that stands out from the crowd by virtue of their incredible musicianship and sound. Whale House is such a band. Hailing from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, they describe their sound as ” a sublime blend of Noise & Melody.” More accurately, their dynamic sound has elements of experimental, grunge and psychedelic alternative rock.

Whale House was formed in 2009 by Clayton Brice and Caleb Price, both on vocals, guitar and bass. The duo released a 3-track EP From the Traps in 2011.  Drummer Chris Dunn joined the band in 2013, and they subsequently released Stand Out. They followed up with their superb highly experimental 5-track EP The Negative Space in 2015, and dropped the excellent single “Freeway” earlier this year. Now they’ve released two new videos for their awesome songs “Red Sun” and “Think of Me.”

The electrifying videos were produced by SCOSH Films as Collaborate Forever Live Sessions filmed at Ambient Inks print shop in Eau Claire. Involved with production were videographer Scott Kunkel, photographer Kyle Lehman, sound engineer Steve Norwick and Bryan Hanna on mastering.  The videos were filmed using movable walls and lots of fluorescent lighting, creating an otherworldly vibe. The guys all wearing sunglasses adds an edgy sense of mystery.  I really like the videos for several reasons, one of which being that I enjoy seeing the band actually performing their songs, rather than act out some odd story line like in a lot of videos.

“Red Sun” starts off with a thumping bass line, then explodes with a barrage of shredded and swirling guitars and Dunn’s thunderous drums that instantly brought chills.  Brice and Price coax scorching hot riffs from their guitars, their commanding, intertwining vocals in perfect harmony. This is one gorgeous rock song!

“Think of Me” is more experimental and psychedelic, and everything about it is jaw-dropping amazing. Clocking in at 6 1/2 minutes, the song is a tour de force that astonishes from start to finish. First off, the buzzing bass line is monumental – seemingly powerful enough to slam you against the wall. Then come the hard-hitting, staccato guitar riffs that practically tear your face off, followed by more snarling guitars and pummeling drums that make your heart race. The guys’ vocals alternately smolder and scream, sounding a bit like Kurt Cobain, and guaranteed to raise the hair on the back of your neck.  By song’s end, I had to catch my breath. Wow, just wow!

Support these amazing musicians by by following them on Twitter,  Facebook  and  Instagram. Subscribe to their YouTube channel, and stream their music on Spotify, or purchase on Bandcamp or iTunes.

Featured Video: Romeo Crow – “For the Weekend”

A few months ago, I featured the multi-talented – and wonderfully charming – British singer/songwriter/filmmaker Romeo Crow on this blog (see the article here). Now, Romeo’s back with a great new song and video “For the Weekend.” The song’s about being frustrated and bored with a dull, mindless job that’s always making you look forward to the weekends – in other words, living for the weekend.  Romeo sings: “The only voice that matters here is the one that you can hear inside your head. If you wait for the weekend to get back all your living, you’ll find that it’s gone in a flash. Don’t wait for a lifetime to get back what you’re missing, you’ve got to pull your lifeline back.

The delightful video, which Romeo wrote, produced, filmed and stars in, begins with him sitting at his desk at work when he receives a phone call from someone requesting a file. He goes to a dingy basement storeroom to get it, whereupon he discovers various musical instruments.  Hesitating at first, he decides to take the plunge and act out his fantasies – his various rock star alter-egos play drums, guitar and sing –  until reality returns and he turns off the light and closes the storeroom door.

Musically, “For the Weekend” is an exuberant song featuring Romeo’s infectious, off-kilter vocals and phenomenal guitar-playing skills.  I’d love to hear him play “All Along the Watchtower” some time – hint, hint, Romeo!

Support Romeo by helping to promote this video by clicking here.  Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, as well as his website.

Radiohead – “Burn the Witch”

I love Radiohead’s new single “Burn the Witch” from their latest album A Moon Shaped Pool, released in May 2016. The song’s dark lyrics, hauntingly sung by Thom Yorke’s beautiful falsetto, sharply contrast with the gorgeous arrangement by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood and lush strings performed by the  London Contemporary Orchestra.

So too with the clever, cartoonish video, as Radiohead wanted it to contast with the song’s darker meaning. Directed by Chris Hopewell, the video uses stop-motion animation in the style of the 1960s English children’s television Trumpton Trilogy programs. It pays homage to the 1973 horror film The Wicker Man. (Wikipedia) An inspector is greeted by a town official and invited to see a series of unsettling sights, culminating in the unveiling of a huge wicker man. The official urges the inspector to climb into the wicker man, whereupon he is locked inside and the wicker man is set on fire. As the flames build, the townspeople turn their backs to the burning wicker man. After the song ends, the inspector appears to have escaped, with birds chirping happily among the trees.

Pitchfork writer Marc Hogan suggested that the use of the Trumpton Trilogy style, which portrays an idyllic, crime-free rural Britain, is intended to satirize the rhetoric of family values used by right-wing politicians such as Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and members of the UK Independence Party.

As a footnote, according to an article in The Guardian, the son-in-law of Trumpton creator Gordon Murray stated that the family had not been asked permission to use the style for the video, and saw it as a “tarnishing of the brand.” He added that they would not have allowed its use, considered it a breach of copyright, and were “deciding what to do next.”

“Where The Streets Have No Name” – Muse & U2’s The Edge

This live performance of “Where the Streets Have No Name” by Muse and The Edge from U2 at the Glastonbury Festival in 2010 is positively electrifying. Their combined energy and charisma is so palpable, and drives the audience to a near frenzy.