SATIN – Album Review: “Origami Heart”

Satin is a Los Angeles-based alternative rock band, whose music is influenced by a range of rock subgenres, including but not limited to classic, alternative, progressive, hard and even Southern rock. Fronted by singer-songwriter and guitarist Robert Cross, the group also includes David Bucci (lead guitar), Scott Wintermute (bass) and producer Tim Frantz (drums, keyboards). Cross also plays keyboards and synthesizers. They released their debut album Drop Dead Gorgeous in 2019, and on September 2nd, dropped their follow-up album Origami Heart, which they’ve asked me to review.

The album’s fairly long with 13 tracks, many of them addressing the minefields of love and relationships, and the heartache and pain that result when love dies or things go terribly wrong. But for the most part, the band lives up to their Satin moniker, delivering honest, relatable lyrics with pleasing melodies, tight rhythms, outstanding guitar work and Cross’s mostly laid-back vocal style.

Case in point is the pretty opening and title track “Origami Heart“, with it’s gently upbeat Southern rock vibes. The sweet lyrics celebrate the euphoria of feeling strong romantic love for another: “Oh I can’t escape the joy of being close to your nape. Feeling the softness of your skin as I catch your scent as I breathe in. As I fold you in my arms like an origami heart.” But the euphoria turns to sadness on the lovely Tom Petty-esque “Sabotage“, as Cross laments about how his actions damaged his relationship beyond repair: “It didn’t happen by accident. It didn’t come without cause. But I’ll never hold you again, as our love’s come to end. Yes I’m a master of sabotage.”

Continuing on that theme of feeling remorse, the dark “My Every Nightmare” speaks to the negative outcomes resulting from one’s self-destructive behavior: “Somehow it seems that by chasing my dreams, I made my every nightmare come true.” And on “Useless“, Cross sings of his sad realization that it’s now too late to make up for his bad behavior: “Cuz it tears at me from the inside out, knowing I was so naïve and clueless somehow. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that any love I have for you is useless now.”

Satin dip their toe into prog rock on the stunning “In This Wonderland“, one of my favorite tracks on the album. The layered jangly and psychedelic guitars are gorgeous, and the bass and measured percussion are perfection, flawlessly transitioning from subtle to tumultuous. The lyrics are filled with fairy tale references to describe feelings of losing touch with reality, unable to make sense of anything anymore: “Madness descends and surrounds me like a prison cell, As harlequins all around me chase white rabbits and dragon’s tails. This nonsense is hard to believe So forgive me if I don’t understand Cuz nothing is quite what it seems In this wonderland.”

They channel their harder rock side on “My One and Only“, where they let loose with a volley of heavy riffs and driving rhythms. Similar to “My Every Nightmare”, the lyrics speak of being unable to escape from self-destructive behaviors: “I constantly find myself wasting my precious time engaged in actions destructive to me. Deep down I know I’ve been holding on to something selfishly. My one and only love.” “Music Box” is a brief but grandiose cinematic instrumental interlude that immediately segues into “Love to Be Loved“, a lively head-bopping rocker about wanting another to love you as much as you love them.

Another favorite is “Move On“, a beautiful anthemic ballad with stirring orchestral strings and twangy guitars that lend a bit of a Western feel in the vein of great songs like “Wichita Lineman”. The poignant lyrics speak to coming to terms with the fact that a relationship is over and that it’s time to let it go and move on: “Those times went by so fast and now they’re gone. Left with the right choices and the wrong. And I’ve spent a long time waiting… And now it’s time to move on.”

Album closer “Fearless” ends things on a decidedly pessimistic note. The biting lyrics are somewhat ambiguous in that they could be directed by the singer toward another or perhaps to themselves: “Could you take a look at the lines on your face and recognize them as your own? Could you realize the scars, they can’t be erased? They only get worse as you sit there alone within your home. And there’s not a thing you can do to save your soul. Fearless as you are, you’re still out of control.” This song has a bit of prog rock feel as well, with interesting time signatures and dramatic guitar runs.

I’ll be honest, it took a couple of listens for this album to really grab me, but once it did, I came to more fully appreciate the many nuances of the music, as well as the album’s fine arrangements and production values. This is why I’m a strong believer in giving music a chance before hearing it once and quickly dismissing it. So listen to Origami Heart with open ears and an open mind, and hopefully you’ll come to like it as much as I do.

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Stream/purchase their music:  SpotifyApple MusicBandcamp

SHIPS HAVE SAILED – Single Review: “Breathe”

Los Angeles-based alternative pop-rock duo Ships Have Sailed have long been among my favorite indie acts, and I’ve featured them on this blog a number of times over the past three years. (You can read those reviews by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post.) Consisting of singer-songwriter and guitarist Will Carpenter and drummer Art Andranikyan, they write thoughtful, uplifting lyrics, which they adorn with dreamy melodies and sublime arrangements, and deliver with outstanding instrumentation and Will’s stunning vocals. They’ve released quite a bit of music over the past eight years or so, and have been on a particularly creative streak since the beginning of 2019, starting with their gorgeous single “Escape”. They’ve subsequently released five more excellent singles, their latest of which is “Breathe“, a beautiful song of optimism and strength that dropped January 27th. The song was written by Will, Art and Kelsey Mira Duennes, and produced by Will. The exquisite strings were played by Dan Hange.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Will in person on two occasions, and follow him on social media, where he frequently connects with his followers and posts positive and hopeful messages. He sometimes opens up about his own fears and insecurities, which I and many of his followers can certainly relate to. He was inspired to write “Breathe” by reflecting back on his own dysfunctional family and difficult upbringing, as well as the incredible resilience people have shown throughout the pandemic that’s upended so many of our lives. He told the webzine Earmilk, “’Breathe’ is the exploration of what our traumas and our inner demons can do to us over time…how they can isolate us from those we need the most, and how they ultimately have the potential to be our biggest downfall.” The song urges us to step back and take a deep breath, face our personal demons and traumas with a clear head and the belief that we can – and will – get through this.

All Ships Have Sailed songs are wonderful, but I have to say “Breathe” immediately ranks among their finest. It starts off with a gentle, atmospheric feel, highlighted by hauntingly beautiful piano keys accompanied by gorgeous shimmery guitar, ethereal synths, finger snaps and subtle percussion. Will breathily croons “All those secrets we keep inside / Run, run, run, hide, hide, hide until we stumble in the dark of our lies.” The song expands in the bridge into a dramatic anthem with soaring strings and thunderous percussion, the emotion in Will’s vocals rising along with the music as he fervently sings “Heart is racing, running for the light, I got to keep on breathing.” The music eventually calms back to the languid, soulful vibe we heard at the beginning, and by song’s end I’m covered with goosebumps, always a sign of a beautiful song that touches me deeply.

I’ve shared both Spotify and Soundcloud links of the song, so take your pick!

Follow Ships Have Sailed: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / Pandora
Purchase:  iTunes  / 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

Guest Post – “Could This Be The Most Overlooked Rock Band Ever?” by The Alternative Mixtapes

This is a guest post by fellow blogger The Alternative Mixtapes, who has a terrific music blog https://thealternativemixtapes.com/. Based in the UK, he’s an excellent writer with great taste in music. Like me, he features a lot of talented indie and up-and-coming artists, so do check out his blog.

Could this be the most overlooked rock band ever?

Twenty years ago, finding new music was much harder than it is now. These days, between social media, great music blogs such as EclecticMusicLover, and AI-generated playlists based on your listening patterns, it is actually difficult to miss anything related to your favorite music genres. Back then, websites dedicated to alternative rock were scarce, streaming over dial up connections was a joke, and the closest thing to social media was, perhaps, MSN. MySpace wasn’t even a thing yet.

Believe it or not, Amazon was a pretty decent source of new music those years because it could recommend you albums bought by customers who had purchased something you liked. This was how I discovered Radford, who almost instantly became one of my favorite bands. I remember the first song I heard from them was “Closer To Myself”, and I immediately got hooked on Jonny Radford Mead’s voice and the song’s innovative –at the time– bridge. And yes, the band was named after the middle name of its frontman.

The band was formed around 1998 in Los Angeles after Jonny emigrated there from Oxford, UK, and met guitarist Chris Hower, bassist Bobby Stefano, and eventually drummer Kane McGee. After signing with RCA records, they released their self-titled debut album in the year 2000, which in addition to “Closer To Myself”, featured other great tunes such as “Don’t Stop”, “Fly”, “How Does It Feel?” and “Fall At Your Feet”. The album had moderate success with some of the songs being featured in movie soundtracks (“Closer To Myself” was featured in Clubland and Never Been Kissed, and “Fall At Your Feet” in Teaching Mrs. Tingle). “Don’t Stop” even peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.

Unfortunately, RCA went through some restructuring and Radford got dropped from the label, causing them to go on hiatus. Luckily for us, in 2004 the band returned with a sophomore album Sleepwalker, released by Universal Records. It was even better than the previous album, but due to a lack of promotion by the label, it sold poorly. The highlight of the album to me was “Fake a Smile”, a beautiful song with really outstanding lyrics, but the album had other gems such as “Dead Heart”, “Out of the Dark” and “Anything”.

After another hiatus, the band returned in 2006 with a digital-only 5-track EP called “Black Out Of The Sun”. The only defect this EP had was that it was like 10 songs too short. The first track “Stay With Me” is in the running for Radford’s best song, but other great tracks on this EP are “Open Your Eyes” and “Now It’s Over”. Unfortunately, these were the last songs Radford ever released, at least so far.

Jonny Mead Radford has a music studio in L.A. today and he is a member of two bands today: The Blind Love and Princess Princess, but he’s taken the backseat in both of them, so it doesn’t scratch the itch of wanting new Radford music. To make things worse, Radford’s discography is not available in any of the major streaming platforms, so unless you own the albums, it’s not easy to listen to them today.

I run a music blog in which I recommend songs and add them to my “mixtapes” (playlists) in one of those streaming platforms. I’ve been dying to include Radford in any of them but I’m unable to do so because their songs are not available (although their album Sleepwalker seems to be available only in the U.S. on Spotify and Apple Music). Fortunately, Jeff gave me the opportunity to talk about Radford here on this great website and I’m thankful for that.

Without a doubt, Radford was and still is one of the greatest overlooked bands. I wish they had been more successful at the time, maybe they would have released more albums had that been the case. In any case, I hope you enjoy their music as much as I do. 

THE RARE OCCASIONS – Single Review: “Alone”

I recently got a notification in my inbox for the new single “Alone” by an indie rock band called The Rare Occasions. Being the dutiful music blogger that I am, I gave it a listen and liked it so much that I started delving into their impressive music catalog. Well, I’m happy to report that I love their music and am now a big fan. Fashioned with colorful melodies, sparkling arrangements, exuberant instrumentals and endearing vocals, but with contemplative and often biting lyrics, their songs are immediately memorable and deeply addictive. It’s not surprising they have a sizable following; their song “Notion” has been streamed over 1.7 million times on Spotify, with another six of their songs garnering between 100,000-800,000 streams.

With origins in Providence, Rhode Island and now based in Los Angeles via Boston, The Rare Occasions was formed by childhood friends Brian McLaughlin and Luke Imbusch after they moved to Boston to form a band. They soon met bassist Jeremy Cohen and guitarist Peter Stone, and with McLaughlin on vocals and Imbusch on drums, their lineup was complete. In 2013, they released their debut EP Applefork, then followed up a year later with Feelers. Their song “Dysphoric”, one of the tracks from Feelers, won the ‘Song of the Year’ award in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. They released more singles and a third EP, the wonderful Futureproof, in 2016.

Fiercely independent, the band has always recorded and produced all their own music, getting help only with final mastering. Wanting to devote their full energies and earn a living from music by doing studio session work and songwriting, they relocated to Los Angeles in 2017, and would go on to record their exquisite full-length album Into the Shallows, which they released in 2018. After a national tour to promote the album, The Rare Occasions saw the amicable departure of guitarist Peter Stone. Now forced to reinvent themselves as a three-piece, they continued writing and recording new songs featuring, in their own words, “three-part harmonies, wall-of-sound instrumentation, and a pointed sense of cheekiness.”

Since becoming a three-piece, they’ve released three singles, “Control”, “Set It Right”, and their latest “Alone” which dropped September 16th. It’s an infectious, anthemic banger, highlighted by an aggressive foot-stomping beat and explosive instrumentals. The thunderous mix of jangly and gnarly riffs, punctuating by lunging guitar notes, and driven by Jeremy’s powerful buzzing bass line and Luke’s smashing percussion, create an electrifying wall of sound that serves as a dramatic backdrop for Brian’s wonderful plaintive vocals. I especially love the soaring vocal harmonies in the choruses. It’s a fantastic song.

The lyrics are a defiant repudiation of an affluent and controlling parental figure who wants their son to toe the line and adopt their status symbol-based materialistic lifestyle, or face being cut off from the family fortune:

I take time kicking it down the line
I don’t know where I’m going where I’m going
I think twice before taking your advice
‘cause I can see your ignorance is showing

you say “real estate is what you need
a little place beside the sea
if you don’t fall in line
then you’re no son of mine”

so I swing my shoulder through the thick of it
and face tomorrow alone
because you own me and I’m sick of it
but you don’t own me no more

where’ve we seen this before?
the age was gilded; cronuts weren’t to blame
your world is purely transactional
why don’t you look around and think
before you blurt out gems like:

“jewelry is what you want
a sterling piece that you can flaunt
if you don’t fall in line
then you’re no son of mine”

so I swing my shoulder through the thick of it
and face tomorrow alone
because you own me and I’m sick of it
but you don’t own me no more

And here’s a cute video of them performing the song at their virtual release party:

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Purchase:  BandcampGoogle Play

SHIPS HAVE SAILED – Single Review: “Low”

Ships Have Sailed

Los Angeles-based duo Ships Have Sailed are one of my favorite indie acts, and I’ve featured them on this blog a number of times over the past two years. (You can read those reviews by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post.) Consisting of singer-songwriter and guitarist Will Carpenter and drummer Art Andranikyan, they can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned when it comes to producing outstanding songs. They play a pleasing style of alternative pop-rock characterized by beautiful melodies, thoughtful, uplifting lyrics, and sublime arrangements and instrumentation. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Will twice, and his kindness and warmth shine through in his engaging vocals.

They’ve released quite a bit of music over the past eight years, and have been on a particularly creative streak since the beginning of 2019, beginning with their gorgeous single “Escape”. I love that song so much that it ended up at #19 on my Top 100 Songs of 2019 list. They’ve subsequently released several more great singles, their latest of which is “Low“, a beautiful song of hope that dropped July 22nd.

The song opens with Will’s sultry vocals accompanied by a somber piano riff, then the music expands to include heavier guitar, lush synths, and Art’s lively drums, all set to an infectious, pulsating melody. Will’s pleasing vocals become more impassioned along with the music as everything rises to a dramatic crescendo before calming down at song’s end.

The lyrics speak of not giving up when you feel you’ve hit bottom, instead remaining optimistic and hopeful, and cherishing those special people in your life who give you love and support in your goal of getting back up. Ships Have Sailed never fail to deliver superb songs, and “Low” is another winning tune.

Livin’ like there’s no tomorrow,
I had a dream and then I chased it,
But if I could I’d do it over,
For all the sweetness that I’ve tasted.

But sometimes livin’ don’t come easy,
It’s like you’re walking underwater,
One day you’re feeling like you’re close to the top, yeah…
And then you wake up at the bottom.

So pick me up I’m feeling low (oh),
I’m so afraid of letting go,
So pick me up again I’m feeling so low,
I’m just trying to live my life with no regret,
Trying to get to the top but I’m not there yet,
So baby can you pick me up again?

Meet me at the stroke of midnight?
Let’s find a fantasy and fake it…
So we’ll remember all the good and the bad times,
A memory is never wasted…

So pick me up I’m feeling low (oh),
I’m so afraid of letting go,
So pick me up again I’m feeling so low,
I’m just trying to live my life with no regret,
Trying to get to the top but I’m not there yet,
So baby can you pick me up again?

Since I published this review, Ships Have Sailed released a wonderful animated video for the song that was created by Ben Panfil:

Follow Ships Have Sailed: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple MusicPandora
Purchase:  iTunes  / Google Play / Amazon

Song of the Day Challenge – Day 14: SHIPS HAVE SAILED – “Rise”

Song A Day Challenge

Sadly, all good things must eventually come to an end, and today is the 14th and final installment of the Song of the Day Challenge I’ve been doing over the past two weeks. The final day’s theme is “Your song of the day”, and my pick is the new single “Rise” by Ships Have Sailed. The Los Angeles-based duo consists of songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Will Carpenter and drummer Art Andranikyan, and I featured them twice on this blog last year when I reviewed their beautiful singles “Escape” and “Skin”. (You can read those reviews by clicking on the links under ‘Related’ at the end of this post.)

Like many of their songs, “Rise” is an uplifting song of resilience and hope. The song’s lyrics are particularly relevant given the current state of things as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has essentially upended everyone’s life. This past March, after much planning and preparation, Ships Have Sailed embarked on what was to be a 10-show tour across the Southwest with fellow L.A. band Quitting Whitney. After playing only the first show in Las Vegas, their tour came to an abrupt halt the next day as the COVID-19 outbreak suddenly began spiraling out of control. They were forced to turn around and head back to L.A., their tour and dreams in ashes. I had purchased tickets to see them at the legendary Troubadour on March 22, and needless to say was terribly disappointed.

Like all musicians and bands, Will and Art were forced to reassess their plans for the months ahead, and decided to release “Rise” as a single. About the song, Will explained: “In the midst of all the chaos that was happening around us, I felt oddly calm. I can remember realizing that our touring plans were likely done at least for six months and quite possibly longer, and knowing we needed to adjust. I’d had this song “Rise” finished for a minute, but it hadn’t really showed me where it belonged yet. I just sort of realized that it was here in this situation we’re all living through where it belongs…in the middle of this chaos, reminding us all that we can, and will, weather this storm.”

The song has more of an alt-rock feel than many of their recent songs, with gnarly synth bass grooves and more aggressive percussion. Will’s vocals are as sublime as ever though. Take a listen:

Follow Ships Have Sailed: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase:  iTunes  / Google Play / Amazon

ALL TAKEN – Single Review: “Doubt”

I’ve been following Los Angeles rock band All Taken for about three years now, and have featured them on this blog as many times, most recently last November (2019) when I reviewed their terrific rocker “Monsters Anonymous”. In January they returned with their latest single “Doubt“, and it’s another explosive banger. Comprised of Daniel Daghlarian (guitar, lead vocals), Avo Karapetyan (drums, backing vocals), and David Eye (bass), the trio are skilled musicians with the power to deliver scorching riffs and hard-driving rhythms set to infectious melodies.

“Doubt” instantly blasts through the speakers with a furious onslaught of gnarly guitars, throbbing bass and smashing drumbeats. Daniel thrashes the airwaves with some aggressive shredding action as he fervently wails the lyrics that seem to be about someone breaking him down and filling him with doubt about their true intentions: “I thought I heard you in my head. You make me think I want to be your friend.” The stop-start breaks inject a nice bit of tension to the track, and I love the little guitar flourishes Daniel adds to the mix. David’s bass and Avo’s muscular drums are fantastic as well. Things slow in the bridge to a melodic interlude as he laments “What’s gonna go and break me down today? The pull, the push, the push, the pull…“, only to ramp back up for a frantic finish. All Taken have delivered another stellar tune, further cementing their status as a rock band on the rise.

They’ll be performing at El Cid in Los Angeles on Thursday, February 27.

Connect with All Taken:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes / Google Play

ALL TAKEN – Single Review: “Monsters Anonymous”

All Taken is an alternative hard rock band based in Los Angeles. Formed in 2015 as a duo by long-time friends Daniel Daghlarian (guitar, lead vocals) and Avo Karapetyan (drums, backing vocals), they released their debut single “Burning Red” a year later. In March 2017 they followed up with their EP Accept This, which I reviewed, then later that year, David Eye joined the band as bassist. They released a fantastic head-banging single “Smells Like Mistakes,” in summer 2018, which I also reviewed, and on October 25th, just in time for Halloween, they dropped their latest single “Monsters Anoynymous“.

The hard-hitting song opens with fuzz-coated gnarly guitars, then explodes into a frantic barrage of hard-driving rhythms, anchored by a David’s deep, humming bass line and Avo’s muscular pounding drumbeats. Daniel lays down kickass scorching riffs that cover me with goosebumps while he fervently sings the colorful, horror-themed lyrics that speak to a loss of identity and self-worth – of feeling anonymous and invisible. It’s a great song, and I think All Taken continues to get better and better with each release.

Hey guys, I’m a zombie, been undead for weeks
My flesh is rotted and green
I crave brains and spleen
Just check out what happened last week

In the dark of the night , tryin to grab a bite
spot a meat bag looking so fine
I lunge at her and she screams
Oh my gawd are you from that zombie show?

I’m a spirit bound to this earth
Been struggling with my self worth
I used to love the scaring work
Now boos don’t get a second look

I’m not the monster I used to be
All these things tearing at me
What scares me is I don’t scare you now
What scares me is I don’t scare you anymore

Connect with All Taken:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes / Google Play

SHIPS HAVE SAILED – Single Review: “Skin”

Ships Have Sailed 2

I’ve been revisiting a lot of artists and bands I’ve featured earlier this year, as so many are dropping great new music. Another such band is Los Angeles-based duo Ships Have Sailed, whose beautiful and moving single “Escape” I reviewed this past February. I loved that song so much it went all the way to #1 on my Weekly Top 30! They’ve just dropped a lovely new single “Skin“, which I’m thrilled to introduce to my readers today.

Formed in 2012 by songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Will Carpenter, Ships Have Sailed has included a number of musicians over the years, but now consists of Will and drummer Art Andranikyan. They play a pleasing style of alternative pop-rock characterized by beautiful melodies, thoughtful, uplifting lyrics, and sublime arrangements and instrumentation. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Will twice now, including just last Friday, and his kindness and warmth shines through in his engaging vocals.

“Skin” is about pulling down our barriers and allowing ourselves to become vulnerable in order to more fully connect with others in deeper, more meaningful ways. Being vulnerable to uncomfortable emotions and pain in turn enables us to feel empathy and sympathy toward others. About the song, Will explains: “Has anyone ever told you that you need to grow a thicker skin? I can’t even count how many times people have told me that. But they’re essentially telling you to numb your feelings, and I think that our feelings and emotions are the essence of our humanity. The music I create wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t lean into my emotions when I’m writing, and so ‘Skin’ is my way of expressing that I’m content with feeling as much as I do…even if it hurts sometimes.”

Musically, “Skin” is more stripped down from their typical sound, with an incredibly pleasing folk/Americana vibe. The instrumentals consist primarily of lovely strummed guitars, including acoustic guitar by guest musician Steve Stout, accompanied by delicate, crystalline synths and Art’s gentle percussion. Will’s smooth, heartfelt vocals exude a tender vulnerability expressed by the poignant lyrics:

It may be thin, but I love it,
feel the pain, rise above it

We don’t have to wound each other,
you’re my sister, I’m your brother

Open heart, open eyes
let them in…this skin so thin

The beautiful, heartwarming video shows scenes of Will and Art walking various streets in Los Angeles, as well as Will getting a ship tattooed on his back at Golden Daggers tattoo studio, and several people in a range of emotional states posing for pictures at The Spot photo studio on Sunset Boulevard. It was directed and produced by Michael Easterling and Jaala Ruffman of Talkboy TV and filmed by David Parks.

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