Earlier this month, The Fratellis lit up the stage at a sold-out Paradise Rock Club in Boston. Their latest album, We Need Medicine, is full of tight songs that flash their rock and roll roots. To those unfamiliar with their breakout debut, Costello Music¸ The Fratellis came onto the scene perfectly embodying raucous, whipsmart noisepop over five years ago. But as Jon Fratelli explains, at one point he was consumed with pleasing the massses. “I think with [sophomore album] Here We Stand, we had one eye on that, yeah. The other eye was on trying to prove too much at one time, which is a lethal combination.” But now, he realizes the importance of staying true to their craft. “With We Need Medicine, I only wrote to please myself and with the recording we only played for ourselves—it’s a far more productive way to live.” And that approach works: the boys sold out venues as soon as they announced they would headline them. It’s a feeling that The Fratellis never get tired of. “It’s genuinely been overwhelming. Not only with regard to ticket sales, but with the reactions so far at the shows,” explains Fratelli. “It’s a level of warmth from fans I’m not sure we’ve experienced before.” Currently, the band is in the UK finishing up a tour that ends mid-December. But don’t expect any trademark whiskey-induced antics from Jon Fratelli on the road. “I’ve given up whiskey. I had a good run, but it had to come to an end.”
Hunters’ debut, self-titled album, is a throwback to Blink-182’s original work back in the ’90s. The first thing that you will notice about the record is the garage-band, distorted sound that so many punk bands of the era adopted. You’ll find yourself head banging and reminiscing about the days when people wore lots of black, baggy jeans and combat boots. It’s definitely worth a listen.
The album itself, Hunters, capitalizes on the heavy guitar and drum sound that links it back to before its time; in short, it’s a perfect album to remind you of the good ol’ days.
This LP is diverse in its sound, mood and distortion levels. It can be heavy, emotional and fun all at once. It’s an album that shouldn’t be missed, and you can definitely expect the band to grow even more from this point on.
(Mom + Pop Records)
Engineered & Mixed by Greg Norman at Electrical Audio
Mastered by John Golden at Golden Mastering
Produced by Hunters
“Indie-punk-rock hearts reverb”
Joanna Gruesome is female fronted lo-fi indie pop from across the pond. This is a 7” EP – so only two songs, but definitely worth a listen.
Side A is an up-tempo pop rock tune called “Do You Really Wanna Know Why Yr Still in Love With Me?” A good solid 3-minute rock song filled with a lot of guitar and pounding drums.
My only possible complaint here is that there’s so much reverb and mud on the lead vocal that it’s a little hard to make out the lyrics. This track ends with a double time finale and then it’s on to Side B for “Lemonade Grrrl” (please note the three r’s). This track is a little more “punk” sounding than the A Side, but still definitely more indie-rock than “Mohawk.” The reverb-laden vocals continue throughout. Again, Lan MaCardle’s voice sounds great, I only wish it was a tad more articulated and slightly higher in the mix. Word is Joanna Gruesome has a full-length album in the can and ready to go. It should be interesting to see what this group delivers next.
Why The Abrasive PDX 3-Piece Turned Its Drummer Into Their Frontman
Gaytheist. Say it out loud. OK, did you get that out of your system? Spin labeled them as “unfortunately named,” which we think it absolute hogwash. One of the most abrasive, unique and dynamic vocalists to hail from the Pacific Northwest in recent memory, Jason Rivera has known his fellow band mate Tim Hoff [bass] for over 20 years, and Nick Parks [drums] for more than a dozen, but the group only formally got together in 2011. Now, just two years later, they’ve just released their latest LP, Hold Me…But Not So Tight on Good To Die Records, a killer follow up to their previous effort, Stealth Beats.
Who leads the creative process for the band – is that mostly you?
It’s me in so far as I write music at home, and I’ll show up at practice with my ideas. Tim and Nick will flesh it all out so we have an actual rock song.
Can you take us inside your songwriting process?
Sure. For the most part I just sit with my guitar – I’m a hands-on writer, I can’t read or write music, so I start with a riff and slowly form the concept of a song, and then I’ll come up with a vocal melody. Usually, before I’m done showing [Tim and Nick] a song, Tim will immediately plug in some lines, and Nick starts thinking about some drum stuff; they’ll start writing their parts and eventually we’ll have a fully worked out song.
So you bring them the framework, and everyone adds their layers to it.
Yeah – with Gaytheist I try to write for our drummer. I’ve been in other bands where I try to write all over the place, and I wasn’t thinking about everyone’s strengths in the band. This time around, I knew Nick was just this amazing drummer who goes insane and plays so fast, and so great. Everything I write is so loud and heavy that it just complements his style perfectly.
Interesting – I would think most bands in your genre write with more of a guitar-based focus…
We’ll have things where I’ll be, ‘You know, this is kinda the same tempo as another song…’ and before I know it, Nick will write a new drum part for it to make it sound unique. He saves me a lot from having songs that sound the same.
I’ve been in a couple two-pieces before, so the idea of getting everything tight and unison is something I learned a while back. So I think it works well – our live sound features very loud amplification so we can be heard over the drums. I suspect Nick could kick us out and still pack places [laughs.] He’s our real frontman – when we set up live he’s up front on the stage. Tim’s an excellent musician; he plays bass in the band but he’s actually a lead guitarist. So his bass lines are very melodic and very full; he fills the space amazingly well.
So I find we can do these short little numbers and so much can happen in a minute, then we’re done. We keep ourselves entertained, and hopefully the audience, too.
Do you ever feel limited by having just three members?
I have in the past, but where I’m at now I’m very satisfied. And if I’m not satisfied, I have the ability to go put together something else and keep this going. But I’m so happy with the way this has been going, and we’ve been getting so much done that I’m really content right now.
For those of us on the East Coast who might not know the area so well, is the Pacific Northwest a scene in itself, or are Portland and Seattle and the stops in between separate scenes?
They’re separate scenes, but they need each other because the Northwest is so spread out…so you’ve got a three hour drive between Portland and Seattle, with not much else beyond that. We rely heavily on each other – it’s not like the New York area where you could play 20 different cities and still sleep in the same bed at night. But here, you get to know people in Seattle and Seattle people get to know Portland people and we help each other out…
The only thing I know for sure, when Stealth Beats came out, there was a little problem. Public radio flat out told the label they were hesitant to use our name. And someone brought up [the band] Fucked Up as an example. Fucked Up was getting press, and radio play – it was a very long, uphill battle for them, but they were doing it. I started this band under the pretense I’ve started ever other band, which is to have fun and not go crazy; although, this is the first project I’ve done where I’ve had other people coming to me with interest. And once [our label] Good to Die got onboard, we knew we’d have to start to get serious and think about things like whether our name would hurt us.
We may have lost opportunities we didn’t even know about [with our name]. But in a way, the name…I constantly see people online say it’s one of the best names they’ve ever heard. So in some ways it might be the thing that gets our foot in the door with [listeners]. It just might be the thing people need to take those 30 seconds to go on YouTube to listen to a song. You know, ‘What on earth could Gaytheist sound like?’
It’s actually pretty similar to our last album, since we recorded at the same studio. Stealth Beats was the best sounding recording we ever had, so we went back happily for the new one. We put the album together by just practicing the hell out of the songs. Money is always an issue, so we wanted to be ready for the studio and not waste time. This time around, it’s more involved than last [record], as far as the dynamics and changes, but I write a lot of music and we just like to jam on them. We got to where we had enough material to present a new album, and we hope you like it.
“I am inspired by the odd characters that I call my acquaintances,” 18-year-old singer-songwriter Andrew St. James explains. The colorful cast that inhabits his music hails, like St James, from the fog-enshrouded misty hills of San Francisco’s Twin Peaks.
“I recorded ‘Cassidy’ within twenty minutes of writing it,” St James says of the personal song about a former lover who returned to town, but didn’t want to see him. The track is the first single from his upcoming debut album Doldrums, out on Sept. 24th.
The video for “Cassidy” was shot at a variety of gigs around San Francisco, and neatly captures St. James’s raw energy at the Regency Ballroom on Van Ness, Brainwash Cafe, a little bar in Marin County, and on Valencia Street where he spots suspicious street folk and bike lane life-stylers.
Dead Confederate front man Morris added the initial T to his name in releasing his debut solo album, Audition Tapes, because it adds a touch more of the personal element that so viscerally exposes the relationships from his hometown. ”You’re just whoever you are,” Morris says.
He uses well the thoughts swimming around in his head to spark that connection all musicians must foster with fans to make an impact as an artist. Drugs, their use, abuse and effects litter this solo debut like a true cathartic shedding of skin, and the issues identified bridge the gap between styles of music and breed of fans. Tinges of country round out the release, but the central theme on Audition Tapes appears in its related content. “This album does have a pretty strong theme to it,” he adds.
Morris admitts he didn’t realize the songs tied together quite so well until he found one that was “not the same theme that a lot of the songs were, about my hometown, and reminiscing on my youth in the hometown I grew up in.”
He continues, “If they’re conscious enough to listen to the album, the people some of the songs are about could potentially recognize themselves.”
The most striking aspect of Audition Tapes isn’t its theme, but rather the presentation of the ten songs as moments in time. Morris explains that he thought about using his four-track recorder to capture rough takes of the songs, giving it more of a demo feel.
“I just wanted to do a bare bones recording to fit the style of ‘Audition Tapes,’ but then we thought about doing something filmed where we play all the songs,” he says.
Every year Morris looks through the Georgia Trust’s Places In Peril list because he has always felt intrigued by this country and by Georgia, he says. The first filmed song to be released will be “Beauty Rest,” which was filmed at Rock House in Thompson, Georgia. It’s a rough-cut video that visualizes the fleeting moments we each need to capture. “The album and the videos are both from a specific place and time,” Morris says. “We get to raise awareness to something I think is important.”
- GENRE: Ballad Rock
- HOMETOWN: Athens, GA
- ARTISTIC APPROACH: Quiet rock tinged with Southern slide and visceral emotion.
- URL: www.t.hardmorris.com
Why the Social Media Giant Will Become Your Most Essential Promo Tool
Twitter #Music is officially in the wild and available as an app in your favorite store or you can visit the standalone web version at music.twitter.com. Just to refresh your memory, Twitter #Music is a social music discovery and charting engine, meant to integrate with other platforms to share music in real-time. This is the result of the We Are Hunted acquisition that Twitter made last year. We Are Hunted specialized in aggregating data to chart emerging and Top 40 songs based on social media and prominent blog postings.
Let’s get all the basics out of the way. The app is free to download, free to use online, and you do not have to be on Twitter. However, having a Twitter account opens up a lot of integration with your own preferences and feed. Notably, as an artist, you do not have to be on Twitter either, just on iTunes, Spotify, etc. More on that later.
All of Twitter #Music is driven by songs, not albums. The layout is beautiful, with tiled Twitter profile avatars and a little 45rpm-looking player interface in the bottom left. You can instantly follow any of the artists. And, on mobile if you push and hover, you can see which of your users posted which song you are being served.
There are pull-down menus of categories:
“Popular” – new music trending
“Emerging”- hidden talent in tweets
“Suggested” – artists you may like
“#NowPlaying” – music tweeted by people you follow
“Me” – artists you follow
The last three categories are only functional if you sign in with your Twitter handle. This last one may be the most worthless because it only lists artists who are basically signed and on iTunes. I am looking at my Twitter #Music right now and on “Me” there are less than 20 showing, but I follow literally thousands of artists – it’s just that most of them are real musicians and bands…like you.
To be brutally honest, I’m “optimistically disappointed” with the launch. Many of us hoped for features such as in-stream radio, true independent discovery, free or ad-supported full song play, and so on. Having said that, it’s new, and I’m hopeful Twitter will refine it as they go.
The basic Twitter #Music only plays 30 second previews served by iTunes, so if you’re not on iTunes, you’re out – unsearchable. And I cannot tell you how deeply that pisses me off. Further, if a user wants to hear “Full Tracks,” they must have either a Spotify or Rdio Premium account (about $10/month). That means your music must be on iTunes to be found by most users.
To be fair, this is from the Twitter #Music F.A.Q.:
“Importantly, remember that it’s all about the music. To be heard you’ll need to have at least one track in one of the catalogs our users can connect to – iTunes, Spotify or Rdio. If you don’t see a playable track on Twitter #Music, email us to let us know.”
But I did not find this to be true. I searched for some artists I work with – all are on iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, AND I follow them, AND I have tweeted them as #NowPlaying and yet, nowhere can they be found.
I hope this is a “bug” to be worked out, but I fear the initial launch is slanted toward more lucrative major and mainstream artists.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
But wait; there’s hope! Many of us have sorted through the developer code and can see integration areas with SoundCloud and YouTube. If you read this space, you know that I insist you be on both. When (if) those integrate, everyone will be searchable. Also, Twitter is still Twitter. In a way, the fact that the app is separate, not inside of Twitter, is good. Sharing music properly is still important, as is building a fan base and communicating with them.
What I am ultimately pissed off about is that Twitter #Music is not keeping with the spirit of Twitter, which is immediate, real-time interaction; the police scanner theory that @Jack envisioned. If they are going to just push songs already on iTunes (or perhaps Spotify), that means those songs are done, mixed, mastered, ISRC’d, bagged and tagged for accepted digital distribution. I would only be able to hear songs that are at least months old; that’s not discovery, that’s being sold to.
That’s the exciting part of discovery, a song that was just uploaded, pushed into this world with millions ready to hear it. Twitter #Music could, and should, be the driver of ALL music releases. I hope they realize it soon, or the next startup will.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
-Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
Attention artists! We are planning a special print issue celebrating the diverse and wonderful visual art found in the indie/DIY music community.
If you are a musician who is also a visual artist, we want to hear from you, and potentially feature your work. Do you paint, draw, sculpt or create art in another interesting way? Let us know about it! Ideally, your art would represent something musical in nature, but this is NOT a requirement.
To have your work considered for inclusion in this issue, please follow these 3 simple steps:
1. Email email@example.com with the subject line: Art Submission for Performer
2. In the body of your email, you must provide answers to the following. Keep answers brief (1-2 sentences, max).
Your full name:
Band you are in (write ‘solo’ if you’re a solo artist):
Name of the piece you’re submitting:
Year it was created:
Medium (example: oil on canvas):
What does this piece mean to you?
How does your art relate to or influence your music?
3) Attach a hi-res JPEG or TIFF of the work you’re submitting, or provide a link at the bottom of the email where we can access a hi-res version (this method is preferred over attachments).
Submissions of low-res artwork or incomplete questions will be discarded. All submissions must be received no later than July 1, 2013. Show us what you’ve got!
**Special thanks to Tony Hollums for permission to use his piece “Violin,” featured above.**
Label-free and recently off-hiatus, The Hush Sound have done a lot of growing up for their digital 7-inch, Forty Five. We spoke with singer and guitarist Bob Morris in advance of the release about what it was like work on the band’s first release in five years.
Where are you guys at in the recording process? Is there more left to finish?
We finished about a month ago. We did four songs. We still have to tweak one of them, but we’re mainly getting back our third set of mixes now. It sounds really cool. This might be my favorite Hush stuff that we’ve done so far, so I’m definitely excited about it. It’s interesting to kind of see how everybody has grown up and changed since the last time we recorded together. Continue reading
Eternity of Dimming
(Quite Scientific Records)
“Indie Americana with guitars, banjos and saws (oh my!)”
If you like Frontier Ruckus, you’re in luck. You are going to enjoy this album. If, however, you are like some reviewers whose friends and fellow critics absolutely love Frontier Ruckus, but you have never understood why, this isn’t the album that’s going to turn you around. The band’s third full-length doesn’t take many departures from the first two and remains mostly a whole lot of singing by Matthew Milia – and only Matthew Milia.