VICIOUS ROOSTER – Single Review: “About A Revolution”

Vicious Rooster is the music project of Argentine-born and now Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, musician and producer Juan Abella. Drawing inspiration from some of his favorite bands like Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes, Guns’n’Roses and Alice in Chains, his music is a rousing blend of classic and Southern rock, folk, blues and grunge. Both his guitar playing and vocals sound like he’s from Nashville or Austin, rather than Argentina.

Juan’s had a love of music since his childhood growing up in Argentina, where he began learning to play guitar at the age of ten. In 2016, he left his business career behind and relocated to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a musician and study music business at the renowned Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Using songs he’d previously written about his experiences of feeling lost during the transition from his past life to his move to L.A., as well as some new compositions, he released his debut album The Darkest Light in 2017, an ambitious and impressive work featuring 12 tracks and running over an hour in length. After a three-year hiatus, he returned in August 2020 with a darkly beautiful Southern rock single “The Moon is Dancing”, then followed three months later with the powerful bluesy rocker “Something Goin’ On”. (You can read my reviews of both singles by clicking on the ‘Related’ links at the end of this post.)

Now Vicious Rooster returns with a new single “About A Revolution“, which he describes as “a cosmic introspective ride that encourages listeners to reinvent themselves and gather the strength to achieve their dreams.” He further elaborates: “Just like for many people, the pandemic allowed me to reconnect with songs and emotions that had remained dormant. There were no excuses for not paying attention to them and the time has come to give them the shine they deserve. ‘About A Revolution’ was part of a group of songs that I recorded in 2015 that had never seen the light until now.”

The song is a rousing Southern Rock banger, and once again, Vicious Rooster lives up to his moniker, delivering an electrifying barrage of scorching bluesy riffs guaranteed to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. He’s an amazing guitarist, coaxing an intricate array of lush and powerful sounds from his six-string that are truly mind-blowing. Also worth noting are the wonderful organ at the beginning of the song, as well as the outstanding percussion throughout. Juan’s colorful, emotive vocals are great too, rising and falling in perfect sync with the intensity of the instrumentals.

The lyrics essentially describe his own personal life-changing decision to leave his past life in Argentina behind and pursue his music dreams in L.A.:

Break your chains and start again
You know how hard it can be
When you feel nothing is real
Find a way to keep control
You got some debts to payoff
Take some time to see
But in the end you'll get where you want to be

You've moved on, you're leaving your past behind
Don't look back, there's nothing in the world to find
Just focus on where you want to go
And stay away from things that hurt your soul
Keep reaching for the dream you're fighting for

“About A Revolution” is a great song, and another superb single that further establishes Vicious Rooster as a rock star on the rise.

Follow Vicious Rooster on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream his music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud

Purchase:  Bandcamp / Amazon 

THE MARIGOLDS – Single Review: “Smash and Grab”

The Marigolds are an alt-rock group based in Liverpool, a city rich in music history and the birthplace of many a band. I’ve featured more artists and bands from Liverpool than I can recall, and The Marigolds are the latest. They formed in 2018 when bassist/vocalist Joe Green and guitarist Joe Morgan met at the University of Liverpool, and bonded over their love of such acts as Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Weather Report, Stevie Wonder and Tame Impala. Drummer Lucas Pidgen was soon added to the mix, and they began writing songs together and playing gigs in and around Liverpool. Their rather bucolic sounding name stands in contrast with their music, which is an intense, high-energy blend of punk, funk and psychedelic elements, delivered with blistering riffs, crushing bass and fierce vocals.

The guys released their terrific debut single “Magnetic” in May, which was well-received by fans and music publications alike. Now they’ve returned with an explosive new single “Smash and Grab“, which dropped July 12th. The song’s title is a fitting description, as the song literally blasts through the speakers, laying waste to the airwaves and sending shivers up and down our spines. Wow, these guys really know how to rock! The song opens with Green’s deep, gnarly bassline, then erupts into a hard-driving, fast-paced onslaught of Morgan’s scorching, fuzz-coated riffs and Pidgen’s smashing drumbeats that never let up for a single moment.

Green’s vocals are downright fearsome as he wails and screams the lyrics touching on themes of insecurity, loneliness and poor self-esteem, viciously railing against those who are making him feel this way: “It’s a smash and grab at my feelings! Eat me, cause I feel numb. Just tear into my flesh cause I’m so done. Consume me, and swallow me whole. Keep me inside you in that deep, deep fucking hole!” Two and a half minutes into the song, the tempo abruptly shifts to a frantic punk groove that’s even more intense than before. Now Green screams with such ferocity, it’s a wonder he has any vocal chords left! I’ve written about some pretty hard-hitting music lately, but this song blows them all out of the water, and I love it!

Now that restrictions against live performances have lifted in the UK, the guys are excited about returning to the stage and sharing their new songs at their first scheduled gig on the 7th of August at Jimmy’s Liverpool.

Band photo by Joseph Conlon.

Connect with The Marigolds:  FacebookTwitter

Stream their songs: SpotifyApple Music / Soundclouddeezer

New Song of the Week – BEALBY POINT: “Talk To Me”

After being unable to perform live or even see one another during most of 2020, Vancouver, Canada-based alt-rock band Bealby Point are having quite a productive 2021. Starting with the release in February of their debut single “I’m So Bummed Out Right Now” (which I featured in a Fresh New Tracks post), they followed up in April with their second single “Telescope”. On July 15th, they dropped their third single “Talk To Me“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week. All three songs will be included on their forthcoming EP, due out later this year.

Named after their favorite beachside vacation spot, Bealby Point consists of four childhood friends, Jack Armstrong (lead vocals), Jordan Studer (bass), Clayton Dewar (lead guitar) and Zack Yeager (drums). Drawing inspiration from fun times spent at Bealby Point, the guys aim to create music “that captures the most cherished memory of your favourite summer and turning it into the perfect sound.” Their buoyant, high-energy garage rock sound has earned them favorable comparisons to The Strokes.

As with their previous singles, “Talk To Me” was recorded with veteran producer Matt Di Pomponio. About the song, the band explains “It’s about balancing heavy emotions with stifled logic – doing something you have reason to believe is wrong, but it feels right because you want it. The track follows a pair who previously revealed their intimate feelings to each other. Now, they have closed off their real feelings and resist the urge to speak from an open heart, in order to save themselves from the perceived consequences of revealing their true thoughts. They long for things to go back to how they were.”

The song opens strong with a wonderful swirling guitar riff, accompanied by a superb rhythm section, courtesy of Zack’s assertive thumping drumbeats and Jordan’s prominent chugging bassline, which is fucking fantastic! The dual guitar work by Clayton and Jack is brilliant, highlighted by what I’m guessing is Clayton’s blistering guitar solo in the final chorus. Jack’s colorful, emphatic vocals are marvelous, with a hazy lo-fi quality that reminds me a bit of The Strokes lead singer Julian Casablancas, even when they soar to a falsetto. We can feel his exasperation when he implores his partner to just communicate with him in an open and honest fashion: “Talk to me and I’ll talk back. I never lied to you. I don’t want that. But if you have to lie to me then I’ll lie back. And that’s the back and forth I can’t stand.”

“Talk To Me” is a terrific song, and with three excellent singles to their credit, Bealby Point have firmly established themselves as one of Canada’s best indie bands. Hell, they now rank highly among my own favorite indie bands as well. I look forward to hearing their upcoming EP.

Band photo by Sam Fazio, and single artwork by Quinlin Gustin.

Follow Bealby Point:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudYouTube

Purchase:  BandcampiTunesAmazon

RUBBER CLOWN CAR – Album Review: “Go.Do.”

One of the more uniquely fascinating acts I’ve written about in my nearly six years of blogging is Rubber Clown Car (I love their name!) Based in the far western Chicagoland suburbs, the band is the brainchild of singer/songwriter and ace guitarist Dirk Prysby, a wildly imaginative, creative, and all-around nice guy. His songs often feature zany titles, but with deeper lyrics touching on the minefields of love, relationships and this crazy thing called life. As I’ve previously noted, his quirky, off-kilter vocal style wouldn’t get him very far on The Voice or American Idol, but it’s incredibly endearing and well-suited to his eccentric songs. Besides Dirk, Rubber Clown Car includes Fred Beasley (drums, backing vocals, guitar) and Tony Pantalones (bass, keyboards and everything else). Their eclectic alt-rock sound has been compared to such acts as XTC, Bob Mould, the Damned, the Who, GBV, the Replacements, and Matthew Sweet, with one reviewer describing them as “the Beatles on Quaaludes”.

Formed in the mid-2000s, Rubber Clown Car started out making fairly straightforward music drawing from rock, grunge and punk elements. Their first release was the excellent 2006 album Make the Noise, featuring one of my favorite of their songs “Home in the Suburbs”, a no-holds-barred commentary on the American Dream. They subsequently began incorporating more psychedelic and alternative elements into their music, which can be heard on their follow-up 2008 release Music “They” Don’t Want You To Hear, with songs like “The Boy With the Plexiglas Head” and “Gene Pool Party”. Since then, they’ve been quite prolific in their output, releasing ten more albums and EPs, featuring clever titles like Jesus is not a WeaponCake Solves Heartaches, Let’s Go Bowling and Slave to the Algorithm.

In May 2019, I reviewed their brilliant eighth album Horse Logic, an ambitious and trippy tour de force featuring 18 tracks ranging from rock to psychedelic to blues to ballads, and everything in between. Two years later they’ve returned with their latest album Go.Do., which dropped on May 28th, and I’m finally getting around to reviewing it. The delightful album features 11 tracks, including seven original songs and four covers – the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Long Way Down”, the Association’s “Never My Love”, the Gin Blossoms’ “Found Out About You” and the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride”.

The album opens with “Everything to Everyone“, a terrific guitar-driven banger, fortified by a fast-paced punkish groove punctuated with gnarly psychedelic guitars. The lyrics speak to the futility of always trying to please everyone: “You bend over backwards with your head up your ass. Nothing in the world kills attraction so fast. You give and give and give and ask not in return. And wonder why you’re alone, won’t you ever learn?

Among the album highlights for me are “The Math in Her Head“, with it’s slow, infectious guitar-driven melody and Tom Petty vibe. The lyrics address a woman who’s reassessing her feelings about the relationship, and not for the better: “She’s doing the math in her head. I’m starting to wonder, is it something I said? She won’t talk to me. She won’t talk to me. She won’t talk to me anymore.” Another song that seemingly channels Tom Petty, with a bit of the Beatles and Jayhawks thrown in for good measure, is the hopeful “What If“, with lyrics written by Natalie Rose, who also provides backing vocals. “What if I said ‘I loved you’? Would you say that you loved me too? What if I said I need you? Would you say that you need me too?

Dirk’s skill for writing cheeky lyrics and hard-driving bangers is nicely showcased on the rousing “Out of State Plates“, my favorite track on the album. The song touches on the joys and perils of playing the field, and how it sometimes gets you into trouble: “Out of state plates keep me coming back for more. Out of state plates keep me coming back for years. Out of state plates got me running out the door. Out of state plates probably make me lose my mind. She’s coming round in a wedding dress. I probably should have been a little clearer I guess.” I love the song’s frantic punk-like beat, thunderous percussion and intricate, mind-blowing riffs that set the airwaves aflame! The way the guitars fade out in a wave of distortion and reverb is fantastic.

Rubber Clown Car does a fine job on the four covers, but my absolute favorite is “Found Out About You“. Their interpretation is slower and more introspective than the original by the Gin Blossoms, with Dirk’s lovely acoustic guitar and plaintive melancholy vocals providing the only sounds we hear. The result is a beautiful and deeply moving song that really captures the heartbreak and disappointment expressed in the lyrics in a way the Gin Blossoms’ version did not (though I do love their original too).

Another standout is “Great Guns“, a grungy, psychedelia-tinged tune about a woman’s fears and paranoias that led her to buy a gun for protection. Dirk serves up dark and heavy riffs dripping with gnarly distortion, brilliantly conveying the disconnect between the woman’s fears and her false sense of security that owning a gun brings: “She bought a gun. She liked the way it fit her fingers, and she’s #1. She’ll never feel this way again cause Great Guns are coming round./ She found a way out of her problem situation.” 

Album closer “Mannequin Casino” starts off with tribal drum beats, then launches into a reverb-soaked barrage of grungy psychedelic guitars and trippy vibes. My take on the song’s meaning is that it’s about being abandoned by a lover at the Mannequin Casino, which seems to be a metaphor for a dead, lonely house without love or even the presence of an honest human being. Dirk laments “Something was wrong, you couldn’t find a way to say it. You couldn’t make me understand. All alone at night at a Mannequin Casino. What goes at night at a Mannequin Casino? Something just ain’t right at this Mannequin Casino.

Go.Do. is a very fine album, and while I don’t think it’s quite as strong or innovative as Horse Logic, Rubber Clown Car nevertheless delivers more of the offbeat alternative rock we’ve come to love and expect from them. The outstanding guitar work, catchy melodies and relatable lyrics all make for a fun and thoroughly enjoyable listen. 

The wonderful album artwork was created by Logospilgrim, a talented and lovely writer, artist, singer and fellow blogger from Canada who’s a friend of both mine and the band. Check out her blog at https://logospilgrim.com/

Connect with Rubber Clown Car on Twitter 
Stream:  Spotify / Soundcloud
Purchase:  Bandcamp  / iTunes

ROADKEEPER – Single Review: “Take the L”

From the moment I first heard their single “Old Man’s War” back in the spring of 2019, I’ve been a big fan of Texas alt-rock quartet Roadkeeper. 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 thought-provoking lyrics. Formed in 2018, 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

I last featured Roadkeeper in January when I reviewed their magnificent single “Enemy Mine” (which spent more than four months on my Weekly Top 30). The song is a scathing attack on far-right white nationalist professional pundits who radicalize vulnerable young people by feeding them propaganda on social media and YouTube. Continuing in a similar vein, on June 24th, they dropped their 8th single “Take the L“, which addresses the ongoing immigrant and refugee crisis along the US/Mexico border, which has had an especially profound impact on Texas.

Written during the Trump administration and recorded in the Biden administration, the song shines a light on the fact this issue hasn’t gone away with the change in the White House. In an article in the webzine Clash, John explained “The song serves as an important reminder that the two major political parties in the US are just punting this issue back and forth to one another, so when is real change going to happen?

Roadkeeper never fails to amaze me, and with “Take the L”, they once again deliver an exceptional single. The layered mix of psychedelic and shimmery guitars are gorgeous, backed by sparkling atmospheric synths and thumping rhythms, all creating a melodic and captivating backdrop for the powerful lyrics. John has a wonderful and mellifluous singing voice, and here his smooth vocals remind me at times of Mark Foster (of Foster the People) as he laments “Just take the L and go, so we both get our way. We’ll burn at both ends and say ‘Who started it anyway?’. All these stolen kids who die in their sleep don’t mean anything.”

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

Video Premier – MORGENDUST: “Easy Way Out”

Since forming in 2018, Dutch indie band Morgendust have been building a loyal following both at home and abroad on the strength of their outstanding brand of alternative rock music. The Zwolle, Netherlands-based quintet is comprised of Marco de Haan (lead vocals, guitars), Ron van Kruistum (guitars, backing vocals), Iwan Blokzijl (keyboards, backing vocals), Dario Pozderski (bass, backing vocals) and Job Noordmans (drums & percussion). All are talented and accomplished musicians with years of collective experience playing in other bands and as session musicians, imparting their music with a maturity and worldliness that comes from having lived on this earth for a while and experiencing the joys and pains of life, love and relationships. Through intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, they tell stories that everyone can relate to, and package them with exquisite rock melodies and beautiful instrumentation.

In September 2019 they released their stunning debut EP Storm Will Come, then followed up in 2020 with a string of excellent singles: “Alien”, inspired by the story of band member Dario, who as a young man fled his war-torn homeland of Bosnia, “Sundays”, a moving song exploring feelings of choking from a lack of freedom due to abuse of power by others, contrasted with a sunny melody, and “Hands”, an uplifting tribute to all the craftsmen and women around the world who take care of us, using their hands to make, build, create and heal. (You can read my reviews of the EP and two of the singles by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post.)

On June 11th, they dropped a terrific new single “Easy Way Out“, and today I’m happy to premier the marvelous video they produced for the track. The band says the song is “about former lovers, premonitions and escape routes”, with lyrics inspired by Jonas Wergeland, the main character in the trilogy by Norwegian writer Jan Kjaerstad. Marco explains further: “After reading the first novel, around the end of the nineties, I got in touch with him via email. We had a nice conversation about his books and plans. In this trilogy (The Seducer, The Conqueror, The Discoverer), a man looks back on his life and all the women, music and art that made him the man he is today. A lot of my reading experiences fell in place. You never get out of a relationship easily, you always take something out of it, or with you. At least yourself. It defines you. The mantra ‘Stop wasting time’ has become a motto, but easier said than done… So this song was waiting to be released for another project I did with Ron, a long time ago. Luckily, Iwan brought it back to life with fresh new sounds, but the composition, structure and intention of this song stayed intact.”

“Easy Way Out” was produced by Morgendust, mixed by Iwan Blokzijl (who also created the artwork from a photo by Alain Hermans), and mastered by Erwin Maas. The song has an upbeat retro 80s vibe, with Ron’s animated guitar, Dario’s thumping bassline, Iwan’s colorful, swirling keyboards and Job’s lively drums, all melding together perfectly to create an exuberant wall of sound. Marco has a vibrant and warm singing voice, and his plaintive vocals are especially nice on this track. The guys clearly enjoy making music together, and their playful sense of humor shines through in the fun black and white video showing them performing the song in a very tight space. I love it!

I came to you with nothing but my heart in hand
It took some time to realize, I didn’t understand
I ignored the warning signs in my head

Stop wasting time

I‘ve served all different queens and each one had its flaws
To learn to be obedient in absence of the law
And learn about the warning signs in my head

Stop wasting time
Stop wasting time
You’ll never get the chance

We never agreed to allow
There is never an easy way out

I came to you with nothing but my heart in hand
All this time I realized, I didn’t understand
Living with the warning signs in my head

Stop wasting time
Stop wasting time
Stop wasting mine
You’ll never get the chance again

We never agreed to allow
There is never an easy way out
There is never an easy way out

Follow Morgendust:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / YouTube
Purchase: BandcampAmazon

Jack Droppers & the Best Intentions – Single Review: “Welcome to the Party”

Michigan seems to be a wellspring of great music, and over the past two months I’ve written about several artists from the Great Lake State, including Dawning, Au Gres and Michigander. I’m now pleased to introduce a fourth, the delightfully-named Jack Droppers & the Best Intentions, who just released their heartwarming new single “Welcome to the Party” on April 9th. The song is the fourth single from their forthcoming third studio album Dad Rock, due for release on June 18. As I always do when reviewing an artist or band’s music for the first time, I listened to their back catalog to get a better feel for their sound, and I have to say that I really like every one of their songs, even their live performances, which sound as good as their studio recordings.

Based in Grand Rapids, the six-piece is fronted by singer-songwriter Jack Droppers, with the Best Intentions consisting of Laura Hobson (tambourine, backing vocals), Devin Sullivan (guitar, backing vocals), James Kessel (keyboards, backing vocals), Garrett Stier (bass, backing vocals), and Josh Holicki (drums). Their wonderfully infectious and lively brand of Heartland rock’n’roll has drawn comparisons to such acts as Dawes, Delta Spirit, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and Bruce Springsteen. And it’s that Springsteen comparison, along with the recent birth of Jack’s first child Naomi, that inspired their new album’s cheeky Dad Rock title. The single and album were produced and mixed by Jake Rye and mastered by Mike Cervantes (both of whom also performed similar duties on the records by Dawning, Au Gres and Michigander).

Jack states that “Welcome to the Party” acts as both thesis and conclusion for the album, “as it invites this child into a world that is sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrible, and often both at the same time. This song is perhaps the most personal song on the record (it’s the only time I’ve ever had to stop recording vocals cause I was crying big old dad tears). It is a song that was written for Naomi before she was born but was also written for you as we eventually step out of this strange season and begin to ask, ‘what does it mean to be alive?’ The song (like the record as a whole) arrives at this question and offers no quick answers but the steady refrain that ‘you are so loved, so you can always sow love‘.”

The song is both inspiring and beautiful, opening with a stirring four-part vocal harmony backing Jack’s lovely, heartfelt vocals that immediately made me think of The Killers’ Brandon Flowers. Like Flowers, Jack has an emotive vocal style with a strong vulnerability that’s quite endearing. The melody and lush instrumentals are gorgeous too, with jangly guitars accompanied by strings, mellotron, vibraphone and trumpet (which was played by Jared March at a separate studio and later added to the track, with the band never actually meeting him in person). It’s a wonderful song, and I love this band.

The sweet cover photo of Jack holding Naomi was taken by band member James Kessel.

Follow Jack Droppers & the Best Intentions:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicAmazon

Purchase on Bandcamp

THE LEFT BACKS – Single Review: “The Feeling”

The Left Backs are an indie rock band originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland and now based in Liverpool. They were formed in 2015 by three lifelong friends Lucas Macpherson (vocals and bass), Max Lozowsky (guitar) and Benjamin Watt Doak (drums), who later relocated to Liverpool to attend university. Influenced by some of their favorite bands The Strokes, Nirvana, The Libertines and The Ramones, they make infectious, high-energy punk rock. Their songs have received airplay on BBC Introducing, and they’ve had the pleasure of performing at Threshold Festival and the renowned Sound City in their adopted home of Liverpool.

In 2017 they released their terrific debut EP The Morning After the Night Before, then followed with a number of singles, the latest of which is “The Feeling“, which dropped March 26th. With the pandemic lockdown preventing them from recording in studios, the guys decided to create their own studio in their apartment so they could record and produce their music themselves. Their last single “Welfare Lady” was the first to be recorded in their home studio, and “The Feeling” is the second. About the single, the band states “‘The Feeling’ comes at just the right time, not only dropping a couple of days before some UK social restrictions are lifted, but also it’s upbeat sound coupled with it’s feel-good nostalgic imagery make it the perfect soundtrack to the summer months being just around the corner.”

The song is a rousing, grunge-soaked banger, featuring a bombastic torrent of gnarly guitars dripping with reverb, giving it a lo-fi, yet intense, garage rock vibe. Max lives up to his name as he shreds his guitar to the max, letting loose with a blistering solo in the bridge, while Benjamin smashes his drum kit with equal fervor. Lucas lays down a punishing bass line as he wails the sparse lyrics “You know the feeling. But you can’t remember when. You want to feel it again!” It’s totally badass from start to finish!

Follow The Left Backs:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundclouddeezer

Purchase:  iTunes 

New Song of the Week – ASHRR: “Otherside”

Los Angeles-based alt-rock band ASHRR make some incredibly captivating music that’s strongly influenced by such acts as Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads and LCD Soundsystem. Comprised of singer-songwriter Steven Davis and artist/producers Ethan Allen and Josh Charles, the seasoned and highly-accomplished trio collectively have a long and impressive musical pedigree. Bringing together their diverse musical background and eclectic, wide-ranging experience, the three joined forces in 2018 after meeting through mutual musician friends, with the aim of collaborating to create the kind of music they all wanted to make. Charles explains “Our collective love of analog synth pop, classic new wave melodies and songwriting, and taking modern production to the limits, defines us. We all come from different backgrounds, which is what can be heard inside the music.” 

In October 2018 they released their beautiful debut single “Don’t Wait Too Long”, which premiered on NPR and garnered regular airplay on famed Los Angeles alt-rock radio station KROQ. They dropped their self-titled EP ASHRR a few months later, then followed in May 2019 with their outstanding debut full-length album Oscillator, which contained all the tracks from their EP, plus five new tracks. That October, they released an enchanting single “Sacrifice“, which I reviewed, then followed with three more singles, the latest of which is “Otherside“, which I’ve chosen as my New Song of the Week.

Released via Wehearnoise Records, it’s a darkly beautiful song that seems to address feelings of breaking free from the isolation of being in lockdown, and celebrating the joys of once again openly socializing with friends and loved ones: “Locked up inside another sundown, Let’s take a ride to the ghost town / I wanna be alive, shining on my face in the morning light. I still need you so…Come out in the open, meet me on the otherside.”

To convey their hopeful message of emerging from the darkness into the light, ASHRR builds upon a strong pulsating beat with a palette of bewitching darkwave synths in the style of Depeche Mode, then layers a rich mix reverb-soaked fuzzy and jangly guitars. The result is a brooding yet optimistic backdrop for Davis’s mesmerizing vocals as he sings the hopeful lyrics.

Connect with ASHRR:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple MusicYouTube
Purchase:  iTunesBandcamp

VEER – Single Review: “Red Tide”

VEER is a hard rock band based in the historic and charming Maryland capital of Annapolis, but their dark and aggressive sound would suggest roots in nearby Baltimore instead. Formed in 2016, the band consists of brothers Ronald (vocals and guitar) and Jon (drums) Malfi, Ryan Fowler (lead guitar), and Christian Mathis (bass). They hit their stride in 2018 with the release of their debut album Apocalyptic, Baby, which quickly made the Amazon Top 100 Rock Albums list. That same year, they won a Maryland Music Award for Best Rock Band, then went on to win Best Rock Song for their 2017 debut single, “Come Clean,” by the World Songwriting Awards, an international organization that promotes and recognizes songwriting in various genres throughout 129 countries around the globe. Their riveting live performances have earned them a loyal following in the mid-Atlantic region, where they’ve had the pleasure of opening for such acts as Buckcherry, Sponge, Fuel, Puddle of Mudd, Trapt and 40 Below Summer.

This past December they released their latest single “Red Tide“, which will be included on their forthcoming album Soft Machines, due out later this year. The song has a moody grunge undercurrent that – to my ears at least – gives it somewhat of an early Pearl Jam or Soundgarden vibe. The instrumentals are all fantastic, starting with layers of fairly intense gnarly guitars over a fuzz-coated shimmery riff that serves as the basis for the song’s ominous melody. Christian lays down a throbbing bass line in perfect accompaniment with Ryan’s moody riff, while Jon fervently attacks his drum kit, pounding out the powerful rhythm with impeccable timing. Ryan’s blistering guitar solo in the bridge is quite good too.

Ronald told me that the song is about “the repetitive nature of human beings, continually making the same mistakes over and over—be it in society in general or our personal lives.” His raw, impassioned vocals convey a strong sense of exasperation as he bitterly wails the refrain “I’ve been here before“. I really like “Red Tide”, and think it’s VEER’s best song yet. Have a listen, and let me know what you think.

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Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicYouTube