New Song of the Week – ROADKEEPER: “Enemy Mine”

One of my favorite American indie bands is alt-rock quartet Roadkeeper, who since forming in 2018 have released a string of exceptional singles. Based in the eastern Texas city of Tyler, the band consists of songwriter/producer John Hetherington (vocals, synths, rhythm guitar), Trevor Tull (lead guitar), Nick Cogdill (drums) and Daniel Griffith (bass), all long-time friends. Roadkeeper is completely independent and self-produced, doing their recording, producing and mixing in John’s studio, and releasing their songs on their own label Equal Temperament. Blending dreamy shoegaze and dramatic psychedelic rock with complex melodic structures, they craft lush soundscapes that are a perfect backdrop for their intelligent, socially conscious, sometimes political, and always topically relevant lyrics that give us something to think about.

I’ve featured them three times on this blog over the past two years (you can read my reviews under ‘Related’ at the bottom of this article). I love all their songs, but two that stand out for me personally are “Old Man’s War”, a beautiful track about anxiety and worry over things, both real and imagined, and “Downs”, stunning song about impostor syndrome and not finding one’s place within the cultural and sociopolitical milieu. “Downs” went to #1 on my Weekly Top 30, and ranked #15 on my Top 100 Songs of 2020 list. Now they’re back with their 7th single “Enemy Mine“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week. While still featuring their dream rock elements we’ve come to love from Roadkeeper, the song is darker and more sonically intense than their previous singles, befitting the politically-charged lyrics.

The band doesn’t shy away from making their progressive-leaning views known, and states that the song “is about the far right radicalization of vulnerable young people in the U.S. by white nationalist professional pundits who are fed viewers and readers by algorithms on social media and YouTube. There is an organized effort to convert impressionable young people into radical white supremacists and encourage them to undertake radical action against marginalized people and progressive political movements. ‘Enemy Mine’ is about the dissonance between the perceived realities of radical white supremacists and that of everyone else.”

The track opens with ominous cinematic synths that build for nearly a minute, then pounding drumbeats ensue along with wailing guitars, only to calm back down as John begins to sings the verses in his beautiful falsetto. John and Trevor’s blend of jangly and psychedelic guitars are enveloped by shimmery synths, while Daniel and Nick drive the rhythm forward with their thumping bass line and aggressive drums. Everything erupts into an electrifying crescendo of wailing guitars, screaming synths and explosive percussion in the bridge, continuing through to the end of the track for a powerful climax to a gorgeous rock song.

 Even words we never say 
 Turn their heads from soft to something strange 
 Waiting on some kids to sign on 
 Twisting up their roots to point their sharp to Zion 
  
 Their undeveloped brain’s distastes 
 For things they’ve never seen are set in place 
 It’s such a shame 
  
 Bitter little loners 
 Look to those who look like them to find themselves 
 Born without a purpose 
 Led to think they’re worthless until now
 Feed their doubt 
  
 Give them some kind of god to worship 
 Weapons always find their way to 
 Enemies’ front lines 
 Spreading lies, blacking flags 
  
 Even if they hesitate there’s 
 No way that they’re ever coming back 
 Safe behind the soft glow waiting 
 Self appointed sergeants have their backs 
  
 Faceless basement 
 Terrorist replacements 
 Holy war, hiding places 
 The worst of them will steal our words  

The dramatic video, produced by Robert Woodward, shows digitally-altered footage of recent political protests juxtaposed with old footage of 50’s films, atomic blasts, space exploration and scenes of the band performing the song.

Connect with Roadkeeper:  Facebook / Twitter  / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / SoundcloudApple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

CRYSTAL CITIES – Single Review: “”Jenny, How Were We to Know?”

Ever since first hearing their stunning and critically-acclaimed debut EP Who’s Gonna Save Us Now in early 2017, I’ve been a huge fan of Sydney, Australia-based dream rock band Crystal Cities. With a lush, melodic sound they describe as “like Death Cab For Cutie had a War On Drugs with The Beatles” – all bands I love – it’s no wonder I would love their beautiful music too. The supremely talented and strikingly handsome trio consists of Geoff Rana (vocals, guitars, keyboard), Jared King (bass, backing vocals) and Daniel Conte (drums, percussion). I’ve previously featured them three times on this blog, and ranked their gorgeous single “Under the Cold Light of the Moon” at #10 on my Top 100 Songs of 2019. Their outstanding debut album of the same name, recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, also received widespread acclaim.

It’s an understatement that 2020 presented significant challenges to musicians around the world, and like many artists and bands, Crystal Cities have had to make the most of a difficult situation by being creative in terms of how they record and release new music. Accordingly, they made the bold decision to self-produce, record and engineer their second album Hold Me Close Hold Me Tight, as well as release it as ten individual singles, one at a time. Bassist Jared King explains their thinking behind this move: “I think content and momentum are two very important things to be aware of in the streaming-age. Releasing multiple songs all at once is wasted potential in my eyes. We’ve worked so hard on each and every track on this album so why not let each one have it’s time in the spotlight rather than getting lost in the noise of an entire album release all at once.”

Last August, they released their first single “Don’t Speak Too Soon” (you can read my review here), and followed up over the next few months with “Got My Back to the Wind” and “Shadow of a Doubt”. On January 1st, they dropped the fourth single “Jenny, How Were We to Know?“, and it’s another beautiful gem in an unbroken string of superb singles. The song has a somewhat dreamier vibe than the previous three singles, more in the vein of their earlier songs. But as to be expected, the beautiful melody, swirling guitar work, subtle bass and thumping drums are flawless, and I love Geoff Rana’s warm, pleasing vocals.

The song seems to speak about desire and the uncertainties of love, but the lyrics are intentionally ambiguous. Rana elaborates: “The meaning behind this song is something I’ve chosen to remain a mystery. Being a music artist in 2021, we’re encouraged to share every little detail about our lives with our audience. While this has opened up many opportunities for artists to have unique and personal interactions with fans – something which we encourage and take full advantage of in Crystal Cities – there are some things that perhaps should be kept to ourselves in order to set boundaries and protect and respect the privacy of other people… In this instance, I want the context of this song to be left up to the listener’s own interpretation.”⁣

Have a listen to this captivating song:

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Stream their music on Spotify / SoundcloudApple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes 

New Song of the Week – “Shame” by Saboteurs

Saboteurs is a terrific rock band from Lincoln, England who I first featured on this blog in June 2019 when I reviewed their superb debut album Dance With the Hunted. Now they’re back with a dark and hard-hitting new single “Shame“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week. Consisting of Ben Ellis (lead vocals/guitar), Rick Whitehead (lead guitar/vocals), Geoff Standeven (bass), and Pete Botterill (drums), they combine elements of alt-rock, grunge, post-punk, metal and folk with driving rhythms, intricate melodies, powerful instrumentation and intelligent lyrics to create music that excites and surprises us at every turn.  

As with Dance With the Hunted, “Shame” was produced, mixed and mastered by Hamish Dickinson at Phoenix Sound Studio, Notts UK. Angered by the failed libertarian response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and inspired by influences of bands like New Model Army, Biffy Clyro and Thrice, Saboteurs has created their most intense and brooding track yet. The song has a harder rock feel, with more pronounced elements of nu-metal and grunge than their previous songs. The band explains that the song “comments on the struggle within liberal democracies to reconcile the tension between civil liberties and the protection of society. And asks whether in fact, we are facing a Malthusian catastrophe as nature fights back against human population growth.”

The guys drive home their withering message with a furious onslaught of grungy riffs, crushing bass and thunderous percussion. The song opens ominously with spooky synths and distorted guitar chords, then we’re hit with a blast of buzz saw riffs and smashing drumbeats as Ellis angrily snarls “You sit around and say it’s a shame but you’re not us and we’re not them.” The dual raging guitars of Ellis and Whitehead set the airwaves aflame while Standeven’s powerful bass line drives the relentless rhythm forward, accompanied by Botterill’s speaker-blowing attack on his drum kit. By song’s end, I’m breathless. “Shame” is a blockbuster rock song, and it’s good to see Saboteurs back and in fine form.

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Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / YouTube
Purchase on Bandcamp / Apple Music

New Song of the Week – HEIST AT FIVE: “Faceless”

Ever since I first learned about the wickedly talented and undeniably charismatic electro-rock band Heist At Five, they’ve been one of my favorite indie acts. Based in London, the band has an international pedigree: front man and lead vocalist Oskar Abrahamsson is from Sweden, guitarist Jozef Veselsky is from Slovakia, bassist Marco Paone hails from Italy, and drummer Josh Needham is from England. Together, they play an aggressive, innovative style of alternative rock that borders on experimental, with complex melodies, intricate chord progressions, spine-tingling electronic and guitar-heavy instrumentation, and electrifying vocals.

I’ve featured Heist At Five a number of times on this blog, most recently this past August when I reviewed their single “Friday Night”. (You can read some of those reviews by clicking the links under “Related” at the end of this post.) With its jubilant Latin-flavored dance-pop vibe, the song is a bit of a departure from their typical edgy and harder rock sound, though it still features many of the stylistic elements and complex instrumentation that make their music so brilliant. The terrific song has spent the past 10 weeks on my Weekly Top 30. Now the guys return with an dark and explosive new single “Faceless“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week.

About the song, the band explains: “‘Faceless’ deals with an individual who struggles to form an identity, and tries to do so by piecing together scraps
of different characters. To capture the essence of this inner conflict, we invited people of different backgrounds and upbringings to collaborate, and create several layers of vocal overdubs that interpret the lyrics with contrasting emotions. The claustrophobic cluster of voices ultimately explodes in a bombastic chorus, which blends rock and metal with elements of industrial, hip hop and dubstep
.”

“Faceless” is the band’s most experimental and intense song yet, incorporating the aforementioned elements of rock, metal, industrial, hip hop and dubstep to create a volcanic eruption of sound. The song blasts open with Jozef’s distorted guitar, punctuated by an explosive torrent of staccato riffs, firing through the airwaves like a rogue machine gun. Marco lays down a pummeling bass line while Josh smashes his drums with all the power he can muster, driving the relentless crushing rhythm forward. All of this is accompanied by a swirling maelstrom of tortured and spooky industrial synths, adding even greater drama to the sonic mayhem unfolding before our ears. The exquisite production, mixing and mastering of the track was done by Simon Jackman.

I always love Oskar’s highly emotive vocals, and he nicely delivers here with a mix of menacing drones and impassioned wails that are downright chilling. Additional vocals contributed by Oskar’s sister Elin Abrahamsson, SERENA, ANGIE, Sean Frost and Peter Gentry serve to heighten the levels of tension and uncertainty.

“Faceless” is a brilliant song, and a testament to Heist At Five’s ongoing growth and maturity as a band. They continue to push the envelope through their fearlessness, superior songwriting and outstanding musicianship, and I eagerly await their next musical creations.

Follow Heist at Five: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase on iTunes / Bandcamp / Amazon

DYING HABIT – Album Review: “Until the Air Runs Out”

From the picturesque Isle of Anglesey in northwest Wales hails alt-rock band Dying Habit, who in mid-October released their debut album Until the Air Runs Out. Officially formed in 2016 after a few years of informally playing together, the band now consists of brothers Nathan (vocals & bass) and Mark Jones (drums), and Alan Hart (guitar). Influenced by some of their favorite bands such as Dead Letter Circus, Katatonia, Biffy Clyro, Therapy?, The Wildhearts and Karnivool, they play an intense and grungy style of melodic alternative rock with progressive undertones.

I’ve previously written about Dying Habit a few times on this blog, first in July 2018 when I reviewed their magnificent single “Unrealities”, then again this past May when I reviewed their single “Solutions”, one of the tracks featured on Until the Air Runs Out. (You can read those reviews by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post.) About the album, which dropped October 16th, band front man Nathan Jones explains: “Almost a year in the making, this album portrays our passion for music, grunge, and a 90s feel which has been given a contemporary makeover. It also explores the difficulties of how our world changed in 2020, as well as mental health, loneliness and how even in the darkest of times there is always hope.”

It’s an ambitious work, featuring 13 tracks and running a total of 46 minutes. There are quite a few gems here, and I’ll touch on the ones that most resonated with me. Kicking things off on an ominous note is “The Prey“, a dark track with heavy stab-like riffs of grungy guitars, spooky synths and a grinding, wobbly bass line, all of which succeed quite nicely in creating a menacing vibe. I really like the instrumentals a lot, and my only criticism is that Nathan’s vocals are sometimes overpowered by the music, making it difficult for me to understand much of what he’s singing.

Lost On You” is a great example of Dying Habit’s superb songwriting and musicianship. I love the meandering melody that goes from a moody, Nirvana-esque groove to a dramatic crescendo, highlighted by a torrent of fiery buzz-saw riffs. I cannot gush enough over Alan’s phenomenal guitar work, and Nathan does a great job on both bass and vocals here as he sings of his frustration to a partner who doesn’t value or appreciate him: “I will never burn these bridges / What are we hurting for? All my reasons, all my conscience, must be lost on you.” The beautiful track “Solutions” speaks to feelings of regret over past mistakes and hurts inflicted toward others, and yearning to make things right but not fully knowing how: “Whatever my mistakes were / Whichever lies I told / The heat is overwhelming but my skin’s remaining cold / This serenity engulfs me yet the world keeps passing by / I long to find solutions.”

I like when bands leave unintended sounds at the beginning or end of their songs, so the belch heard at the beginning “The World’s Too Big For Us” is perfectly fine by me. That said, it’s a terrific progressive grunge rock song, with a chugging start-stop groove, highlighted by a cacophonous mix of super-gnarly and distorted guitars, heavy throbbing bass and spacey synths. Along that same vein, “Red Lines” delivers a wonderful fantasia of grungy as hell riffs, accompanied by pummeling bass, Mark’s crashing percussion and wild psychedelic synths that make for a dramatic and fascinating track.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Out of My Hands“, an enchanting song where the band shows their softer side. The chiming guitars are simply gorgeous, and accompanied by a subtle bass line and just the right amount of percussion that allow the guitars to shine. Once again, it’s hard to make out many of the lyrics Nathan sings, but the exquisite instrumentals more than make up for it.

The title track “Until the Air Runs Out” is another great track that’s heavy on progressive grunge vibes. The song starts off with dark, ominous sounds that conjure up images of an impending battle in a sci-fi movie, then a driving, bass-heavy rhythm ensues along with wailing buzz-saw riffs as Nathan begins to sing. As the song progresses, Alan introduces an upbeat melodic riff that ends things on slightly more optimistic note. “Scared of the People We Love” is a moody six-minute-long tour de force, with an extended instrumental segment that nicely showcases Dying Habit’s outstanding musicianship and skill at playing as a tight unit. And the mesmerizing melody, stunning guitar work, and hypnotic drum beats on album closer “Nowhere to Run” are fantastic.

I must admit that I’m generally more a fan of melodic and dream rock than heavier grunge or progressive-style rock. Nevertheless, I still have a great deal of respect and appreciation for those genres, and do enjoy a fair amount of it. Dying Habit have packed quite a lot of complexity and nuance into their songs, and it took a couple of listens for me to fully get into Until the Air Runs Out. But once I did, I fell head over heels in love with this excellent album. I’ve been following this band pretty much since their beginning and I’m so proud of them. I know they worked hard on this album, and their skill and dedication for producing quality music really shows.

Nathan is also a talented visual artist, with a number of remarkable paintings to his credit. Inspired by their lyrics, album, lockdowns, and anxiety, he created this wonderful abstract oil painting titled ‘Until The Air Runs Out’:

Connect with Dying Habit:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream/Purchase their music:  Apple Music / Spotify / Amazon

THE IVINS – Single Review: “Bloom”

Predictions that rock is a dying genre have been made for years, and despite the fact that not much of it seems to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 chart anymore, there’s still a lot of really great rock music being produced by musicians in America and around the world. One act doing their part to keep rock alive and well is Nashville, Tennessee band The Ivins. Consisting of brothers Jim and Jack Ivins (with Jim on guitars & vocals and Jack on drums), Hatton Taylor on lead guitar, and Regan Akers on bass & vocals, they make a hard-hitting, guitar-heavy style of rock they refer to as “Loud Alternative”. I’ve featured them twice on this blog, first in June 2017 when I reviewed their phenomenal debut album The Code Duello, then again in April 2019 with the review of their single “Certain”. (You can read those reviews by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post.)

Earlier this year, they released a beautiful cover of Halsey’s song “Graveyard”, then followed in July with “Composure”, a song addressing personal serenity and overcoming anxiety that was written and recorded remotely during the COVID-19 quarantine. Now they’re back with “Bloom“, the second in a series of singles they plan to release every two months for the foreseeable future, and which will be featured on their forthcoming second album Conditions. 2020 also saw The Ivins earn a nomination for Best Alt Rock band at this year’s Nashville Industry Music Awards, and Jim Ivins spearheaded a Nashville-centric collaborative album called Quarantunes, which featured more than 50 Nashville musicians, including members of Florida Georgia Line, 3 Doors Down, Daughtry, Tonic, Relient K, CKY, Accept and The Dear Hunter. 

“Bloom” is another rousing banger, with an onslaught of jangly and reverb-soaked gnarly riffs delivered by Jim and Hatton’s dual intertwining guitars. Regan drives the powerful rhythm forward with his pummeling bass line while Jack smashes his drum kit with his signature brute force. The blistering guitar solo in the bridge is terrific, as are Jim’s fervent vocals as he sings of his love and devotion to someone who makes him a better person: “That you are with me is just all I need to know. You are the water that makes all my dead leaves grow and cleansed them from poison to thrive in bloom.” He told me that the song was inspired “from personal experience in being a very lost person kind of floating through life, and how it really only takes one person and one connection to turn everything around.

Connect with The Ivins:  Website /  Facebook /  Twitter /  Instagram
Stream their music:  YouTube /  Spotify /  Apple Music
Purchase it:  iTunes /  Amazon

FOUR THOUSAND MILES – Single Review: “Demon on the Run”

Four Thousand Miles is a unique rock band with an international pedigree, in that each of its four members are from a different country, hence their name ‘Four Thousand Miles’. They started out as a collaboration over the internet, and grew to become a music project after finding that each of their own unique styles blended well together. The four band members are Alex Fearn from Liverpool, England on vocals and rhythm guitar, Lionel Pacreau from Bordeaux, France on lead guitar, Alex May from Atlanta, Georgia, USA on drums, and Liam Sibbald from Prestatyn, Wales on bass.

They’ve gathered together on a number of occasions in Liverpool to record music and film videos, and released their excellent debut single “Lonely” this past Valentine’s Day. The followed up in April with “Reflections”, which I reviewed, and are back with their third single “Demon on the Run” which dropped on Halloween. Like their previous singles, the song was mixed and mastered by Simon Jackman at Outhouse Studios in Reading, Berkshire, and delivers more of their outstanding hard-hitting melodic rock. 

The guys are all terrific musicians, and really up their game with “Demon on the Run”. It’s a beautiful rock song, with stellar dual guitar work by Pacreau and Fearn, highlighted by gorgeous chiming guitars in the verses alternating with bone-crushing riffs in the choruses. Sibbald drives the powerful rhythm forward with a deep, pulsating bass line while May smashes his drum kit with impressive force.

The heartfelt lyrics are a plea for help from someone experiencing an emotional breakdown, feeling isolated and alone in their struggle to try and overcome their demons. Fearn’s powerful vocals rise to the occasion as he passionately wails “Do you know, do you know at all, what it feels like to lose control? Do you know, do you know at all, what it was like when I needed a miracle, to help myself. There was nobody, nobody else. I was lost and scared, but never running away. A miracle. Nobody else was saving me from myself.

Follow Four Thousand Miles: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream/purchase their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Amazon

New Song of the Week – DISCIPLES OF BABYLON: “Liberty”

Los Angeles-based alternative rock band Disciples of Babylon were one of the very first acts to follow me on Twitter back in the fall of 2015 when I was just starting out as a new blogger. The four band members – Eric Knight on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Ramón Blanco on lead guitar, Gui Bodi on bass and backing vocals, and Chris Toeller on drums – all of whom are gracious and kind, subsequently followed me too. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them perform live three times at various venues throughout the L.A. region, so needless to say I have a special fondness for them.

I first featured them on this blog in January 2016 when I reviewed their debut EP Welcome to Babylon, and wrote about them several more times in 2017 and 2018. (You can read some of those reviews by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post.) Now, three years after the release of their fantastic debut album The Rise and Fall of Babylon, which they premiered in October 2017 at the legendary Viper Room on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, Disciples of Babylon returns with their politically-charged new single “Liberty“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week.

Eric and the band feel quite strongly about the subject of social justice, and The Rise and Fall of Babylon forewarned us about the beginnings of civil unrest stemming from the growing toxic political divisiveness in America. In a previous interview, Eric explained the impetus behind the album: “These are precarious times we live in. The Rise and Fall of Babylon signifies something that I feel has been a long time coming. Babylon, meaning the USA, is slowly spinning out of control and entering into vast turmoil. I feel we are at the beginnings of a revolution. one of which the likes we’ve never seen before. As a nation, we are no longer viewed in the regard we once were. The title reflects this shift and quite possibly a prelude of what’s to come.”  

Now, three years later, he explains the band’s inspiration behind their new single “Liberty”: “We have now entered the perfect storm. The great divide that this country is currently facing is deeper than ever before. We have a government that is corrupt and has run amuck with impunity, with a global pandemic that has just exacerbated and accelerated everything tenfold. Our mission as a band has always been to be a mirror and write about our observations on what the world is showing us, but at the same time being a beacon of hope, strength and unity.”

The lyrics were written by Eric, who wrote the music along with band guitarist Ramón Blanco. The track was produced and mixed by drummer Chris Toeller, engineered by bassist Gui Bodi along with Alan Sosa and Rup Chattopadhyay, and mastered by Joe Bozzi (U2, Van Halen, Imagine Dragons). The dramatic lyric video was conceived by Eric and created by Shane Richardson.

“Liberty” is a powerful anthemic battle cry from the band, urging us to stand up to injustice and divisiveness, and to resist those in power who continually work to tear us apart. To drive home their message, the guys unleash their arsenal of sonic weaponry to create a crushing monumental soundscape befitting the seriousness of the subject. Each band members’ strong musicianship is on full display here: Ramón rips through the airwaves with an onslaught of snarling grungy riffs while Chris smashes his drums with greater force than I’ve ever heard on their previous songs. And ever the master bassist, Gui drives the song’s explosive rhythm forward with a fearsome pummeling bass line that cuts straight to our cores.

Eric’s an outstanding vocalist, with the ability to stir our emotions with his powerful unbridled passion, and he’s in fine form here. He sings the verses with a heartfelt fervency that beautifully conveys his anguish over the current situation, then launches into soaring impassioned wails in the choruses that, combined with the thunderous instrumentals, cover me with chills. I also love his and Gui’s soaring vocal harmonies.

I’m so happy Disciples of Babylon are back, and “Liberty” is one of their best songs yet!

 
This war has come into our doorstep
The price for love of country
There is no retreat
Our chains are forged here
The brave the bold is our decree
 
They’ll say, this is our destiny
We’ll raise our hands for amnesty
 
We all want liberty
We all want liberty
I will fight for liberty
Or give me death
 
Divide us and conquer
Was that your goal
You’ve got your wish
How does it feel
 
They’ll say, this is our legacy
United in arms till victory
I will fight for liberty
 
We all want liberty
I will fight for liberty
Or give me death
 
We all want liberty
We all want liberty
I will fight for liberty
Or give me death
Oh I will fight for
 
If you can’t save me
Heaven help us now
The battle cries out
 
 

Follow Disciples of Babylon:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Reverbnation / YouTube
Purchase:  iTunes / Amazon Bandcamp

100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #69: “Dizzy” by The Million Reasons

The song at #69 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the magnificent “Dizzy” by Chicago alternative indie rock band The Million Reasons. The song was released in July 2018, and I loved it at first listen. (I love this band and all its members too, as they’re as gracious and kind as they are talented.) The Million Reasons released their debut EP The Runaround in 2017, but “Dizzy” was my first introduction to them. The song made me an instant fan, and I’ve followed them closely ever since. At the time “Dizzy” was recorded, the band consisted of Scott Nadeau (vocals and guitar), Ken Ugel (guitar), Mike Nichols (guitar) and Colin Dill (drums). Bassist Jason Cillo joined the band later in 2018, and sadly, Nadeau left the band in 2019, but was replaced by an equally great vocalist Taylor Brennan.

The song is about a relationship in which both parties are blinded by an obsessive and possibly irrational desire for each other. Musically, the song is a slow burn. It starts off with an enthralling guitar riff that immediately pulls us in with the promise that something really beautiful is about to unfold, and as the music swells into a soaring anthem, we’re not disappointed. The instrumentals are incredible, and Scott Nadeau’s powerful, expressive vocals are perfection. By the time the final chorus arrives with Mike Nichols’ jaw-dropping screaming guitar solo and Nadeau’s raw, impassioned wails, I’m left covered in goosebumps and gasping for breath. This is truly one of the most beautiful rock songs I’ve ever heard.

The stunning video showing the band performing the song was directed and edited by Stephanie Battista.

YARD OF BLONDES – Single Review: “Do You Need More?”

From humble beginnings in France as a folk pop duo making mostly acoustic music, Yard of Blondes have faced some of the same challenges and struggles as many young artists and bands experience since relocating to Los Angeles in 2014. Now a four-piece, they’re finally on an upward trajectory and making a name for themselves with their exciting and edgy style of alternative rock. The band is comprised of the hard-working French-born singer/songwriter and guitarist/vocalist Vincent Walter Jacob and bassist/vocalist Fanny Hulard, guitarist Burak Yerebakan, originally from Turkey, and Northern California native Forrest Mitchell on drums.

I’ve previously featured Yard of Blondes twice on this blog, first in July 2019 when I reviewed their marvelous bilingual single “Je veux danser tout l’été”, along with two alternative versions, then again this past February when I reviewed their single “Lowland”. (You can read those reviews by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post.) Now they’re back with “Do You Need More?“, the third single from their forthcoming debut album Feed the Moon, due for release early next year. The single and album were produced by Billy Graziadei (Biohazard, Powerflo), mixed by Michael Patterson (Nine Inch Nails, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) and mastered by Maor Applebaum (Faith No More).

In a recent interview with music blog TrueStyleMusic, Vincent provided some background on “Do You Need More?”: “It was one of the first songs we wrote for our upcoming album, and it’s the song we always play first at our shows. It’s a song that seems very straight forward, but it evolves into a more complicated piece as Fanny is adding more and more layers of vocals, and as we end up breaking the installed routine with some surprisingly heavy bridge. Regarding the lyrics, it’s also a tricky song. It feels like a love song at the beginning, but it’s actually a toxic love story where one gaslights another, and it ends up with kind of a Stockholm syndrome situation.

The song is a rampaging beast, storming through the gates like a bat out of hell with furious riffs of grimy guitars and a thunderous barrage of explosive rhythms. Fanny’s throbbing bass line propels the song forward while Forrest keeps pace with his pummeling drumbeats. Meanwhile, Vincent and Burak are busy laying to the airwaves with their aggressive, intertwining guitars, delivering chugging riffs of shredded distortion that threaten to blow out the speakers. Vincent and Fanny’s expressive vocals rise to the occasion, becoming downright feral in the chorus as they wail “Do you need more? Do you really need more? Gimme, gimme, gimme some more! I want it all!” Finally, everyone spent, the song fades out in a hum of reverb.

If the three singles released thus far – “You and I & I”, “Lowland” and “Do You Need More?” are any indication, Feed the Moon is guaranteed to be a terrific album.

Connect with Yard of Blondes:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple MusicSoundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Amazon