Four Fresh New Tracks

I’m sent so much new music each week that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with it all, let alone write about every single, EP or album that enters my inbox or various social media messaging platforms. With that in mind, I’ve decided to try posting a weekly digest containing several new tracks, so that I can feature more artists. For my first such post, I’m including some fantastic new songs by (in alphabetical order) Blue Vines, Oli Barton & the Movement, Tobisonics and Vanity Fear. All four tracks are timely and topical, addressing issues relating to politics, sexual harassment and the pandemic.

“Disavow” by Blue Vines

Blue Vines is the music project of New York City-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nick Gonzalez, who makes innovative indie music with punk-rock elements. In August 2019, he released his wonderful debut EP Fever Dreamy, which I reviewed. He’s just dropped a terrific new single “Disavow” that was inspired by his contempt for Donald Trump and those who enable his unrelenting mendacity and lies – a sentiment I strongly share. With a fervent sense of frustration, Nick laments “Do I need special glasses for your alternate reality, or just adjust my moral compass? Cause it’s this lack of character that knows just how to make me scream. All at once cowardly and pompous.” The track has a bouncy, mid-tempo vibe with some pretty cool jangly guitar work.

“Get Out” by Oli Barton & the Movement

London-based Oli Barton & the Movement are a favorite of this blog; I’ve written about them numerous times since first featuring them in May 2017, and their brilliant songs “Kinky” and “44” both ended up on my 100 Best Songs of 2018 list. The band is headed by singer-songwriter Oli Barton, and includes Ryan Wilson on lead guitar, Jamal Lagoon on rhythm guitar, Marco Paone on Bass, and Josh Needham on drums. With a winning combination of talent, creativity and personality, their eccentric style of alternative rock is a crazy-good mix of post-punk and psychedelia, fortified with touches of funk, grunge and pop.

Their latest single “Get Out” is a deliriously catchy pop-rock song with a decidedly darker message. The song addresses sexual harassment and assault against women within the music industry, and seeks to raise awareness of this issue that Barton and the band feel quite strongly about. All proceeds from streaming during the first month after its release will go to the charity organization Women In Music. “Get Out” is the lead single from their long-awaited forthcoming album pipe dreams, and it’s a fantastic banger with a driving dance beat so irresistible, it’ll have even the most committed wallflower up and moving! I love Barton’s colorful vocals, and he’s in fine form here as he belts out the lyrics urging women to get themselves out of abusive situations. I love it!

“Military Industrial Complex” by Tobisonics

Tobisonics is a longtime alternative electro-pop artist, composer, songwriter and music producer based in Luxembourg. I’ve previously featured him twice on this blog, most recently this past March when I reviewed his single “All These Things”. Now he returns with a powerful new single “Military Industrial Complex“, a politically-charged electronic track featuring important speeches by Presidents Eisenhower and Trump. 

Like Blue Vines, Tobisonics was angered by recent actions of President Trump, namely his incendiary Rose Garden speech on June 1st in reaction to the Black Lives Matter protests. Here, he juxtaposes Trump’s speech with Eisenhower’s 1961 Farewell Address warning of the need for perpetual vigilance to safeguard the liberties of the American people against the military industrial complex. Tobisonics explains: “I’d finished the production back in July and was looking for the right artist to add vocals, but then I remembered Eisenhower’s Farewell Address. The contrast between the dignified, nuanced, and hopeful tone of his speech and the macho, antagonistic and fatalistic language of Trump’s speech was so striking, I knew I had to put them together.” The result is an immensely compelling track featuring a dramatic and pulsating groove that magnifies the chilling words contained in the speeches.

“Virus” by Vanity Fear

Vanity Fear is an outstanding cinematic rock band based in Columbus, Georgia that I recently learned about when they followed me on Twitter, and I have to say their music was a revelation at first listen. Drawing on influences ranging from alt rock and metal to pop and hip hop, their music is dramatic, sweeping and harshly beautiful in ways that call to mind such bands as Evanescence, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater and Linkin Park. Vanity Fear was founded in May 2019, and consists of husband and wife Brandon Diaz and Heather Gevonovich, Matt Hardy, Jeff Cobb and Kyle Netherland. In their brief existence, the prolific band has already dropped two full albums Vanity and Fear in 2019, an EP Faith this past June, and several singles, the latest of which is “Virus“. It’s the first single from their forthcoming EP Optophobia, and it’s magnificent. I love this song more with each listen!

The track starts off tentatively, with spooky synths and an arresting drumbeat, then gradually builds into a gorgeous soundscape of glittery synths, haunting piano keys, skittering percussion and sweeping strings. The band has three great vocalists – Heather, Brandon and Matt – each of them contributing their own unique vocal textures to the mix. Heather and Brandon’s vocal harmonies are wonderful, while Matt’s impressive rapping/screaming later in the song adds drama and tension that takes things to a whole new level. The song’s lyrics speak to the uncertainties of life and our feelings of helplessness and vulnerability that have been laid bare by the pandemic: “Everything we thought was right is wrong. Yeah it’s all broken / Everyone’s talking, nobody knows.”

BLUE VINES – EP Review: “Fever Dreamy”

Blue Vines

Blue Vines is a young indie rock duo from New York City, comprised of singer-songwriter Nick Gonzalez on vocals, guitar and drums, and Andrea De Renzis on bass. A new act who only formed earlier this year, they released their debut EP Fever Dreamy this past August. It was recorded at Cobra Sun Studio in Staten Island, N.Y., engineered and produced by Gary Nieves Jr., and mastered by Josh Kaufman at Local Legend Recording in Grand Rapids, MI.

Fever Dreamy is rather short, running just under nine minutes total, but its five tracks are so musically intriguing and packed with deep meaning they made quite an impression on me. With their vibrant indie pop-punk sound, Blue Vines’ songs seem to touch on themes of youthful angst, romance and self-doubt. The titles of all five tracks are interesting in that none of them are actually included in their song lyrics, which themselves are somewhat ambiguous, requiring a bit of imagination and concentration on my part to decipher as to their meanings.

The EP opens with the 43-second-long title track “Fever Dreamy“, a sweet tune consisting of just a simple acoustic guitar melody and Nick’s lovely vocals as he searches for meaning in his life after a period of painful unrest and awakening: “Ill equipped inquisitor descending over everything I do. Shine your light upon a year laid bare, and salt the wounds.

Next up is “Lanch Party“, which seems to speak to the fears and anxieties one feels when becoming romantically involved with someone, worrying about whether they’ll still like you as they get to know the ‘real’ you: “Do you still regard the statue as a work of art, once you’ve spotted all the cracks? Maybe a work in progress? I’d settle for that.” The track has a bass-driven, kick-drum beat with flourishes of gnarly guitars, accompanied by Nick’s urgent vocals.

Great Kid! Don’t Get Cocky!” is a bouncy rock tune that seems to be about struggling to keep it together in an increasingly bewildering world: “Breaking, climbing up the walls, start shaking. Skin begins to crawl. A tin can phone between our padded rooms. I’ll forever call for you.” Nick’s layered guitar work and emotion-charged vocals are great. I’m guessing “I’m A Whole Damn Town” is about the healing power of love: “Call it whatever. Things of the heart could put back together and mend what was pulling apart.” To a frantic punk-rock beat, Nick lays down intricate riffs of swirling and jagged guitar while Andrea keeps a steady rhythm with a smooth bass line.

The final track “Big Knife” is a terrific post punk tune, with a rapid guitar-driven beat that gives it a bit of a Green Day vibe. The lyrics seems to express the crippling self-doubt many of us have experienced while growing up (or even later in life like I have): “Despite a focused regimen of mental calisthenics, I could never hope to comprehend what it’s like to feel settled”, but gaining comfort through the presence of a loved one at your side: “I’m always on the edge of hyperventilating. It’s your hand on my hand that helps me breathe easy again.” Nick pours the full force of his emotions into his vocals here as he goes from a heartfelt vulnerability to plaintive wails.

Fever Dreamy is an amazing little EP that packs a lot into its 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Every track is relatively brief, yet each one of them makes an indelible impact in their economical running time. We’re left wanting more as each song ends before launching into the next lively track. Nick and Andrea are fine musicians, and Nick is quite the poetic wordsmith and vocalist. I’m anxious to hear more from this talented duo.

The lovely artwork for the EP was created by Nick’s cousin Ryan Gonzalez.

Follow Blue Vines:  Twitter
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal
Purchase:  Bandcamp / iTunes / Amazon / Google Play