Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Early 2020: Live Shows at The Bitter End, Rockwood Music Hall, plus New Recorded Music

The emergence of a new year frequently provides opportunities to branch out in search of fresh ideas or previously untapped resources. Artists who have established an awareness level of their work now receive a closer look, experiencing both recent live shows as well as current featured recordings. Emerging from that comes an occasion to look back into previous decades history and influence. Additionally, new tracks only recently released are featured here, allowing the first month of 2020 to reflect on a rich and storied past against the most current endeavors.

Kira Metcalf is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter whose been crafting a uniquely introspective lyrical style of music since her early teenage years.

Catching Kira's short-notice, folky solo performance live show at Rockwood Music Hall on January 5th showed an artist making the most of her time in the spotlight.

While the bulk of her material lyrically explores the emotional aftermath of loss and heartbreak, there is an uplifting quality to her melodies and lively delivery, preventing everything from becoming too morose.

Her latest single release “Cheap Kind” came out this past summer and continues to serve as fully produced introduction to her musical world.

The song sits equally well in a single voice and acoustic guitar atmosphere of Rockwood's solo show setting, with the official recordings fuller band and bigger vocal production providing additional creative insight.

Initially ruminating on the loss of an earring against a single chugging electric guitar, the full band crunches in on signature line “this is why you always buy the cheap kind” giving the track a rougher 90's Nirvana-esque grungy feel.

While the drums clack like Dave Grohl-on-Butch-Vig's-production (and wonderboy mix-masterer Chris Krasnow might have something to do with that) and guitars chug hard, Kira's voice remains the dominant element throughout.

Through the course of a single vocal line segment “this is why I'm scared to try, afraid I'm only going to lose” the singer displays a wide range and impressive variety of inflections.

Hard-edged guitar riffs are given space between the lyrics, maintaining an underlying Seattle-grunge vibe.

There's a serpentine element in the way lyrics like “this is why you ought to stay a stranger – feign allure then slink away to waste before you get into trouble” are set against first rising atmospherics, then driven by throbbing bass guitar.

A tasty angular lead guitar interlude keeps the 90's Flannel vibe alive, until Kira comes back with one more initially quiet verse, creating metaphor on the difficulties of keeping things together.

Listen to the track "Cheap Kind" on Spotify, which can be easily accessed via her Official Website.

Kira holds the distinction of being the first Deli Local Artist of the Month for 2020.

Be sure to catch her during the Winter Madness Tournament at Our Wicked Lady.

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The internet age we currently live in is a wonderful place to make contact with people and become “virtual friends” with them. Those e-relationships can go on for many years (even a decade) without actually ever coming face-to-face. So it's always cool to eventually meet up with someone you've been cyber-interacting with for years.

That is precisely what occurred when musician and long-time e-friend Bill Dwyer came down from the more northern city of Boston to play New York's venerable nightclub The Bitter End on Sunday, January 5th.

Interacting on Social Media in all the casual, everyday usual ways, Bill's music had already made it's way onto the DaveCromwellWrites reviews two years ago in January, 2018.

At that time there was a distinctly folky element in the bright chiming twelve-string acoustic guitar backed returning-home road song.

This night, however saw Bill supported by his trio with Alex Casanova on bass guitar and Rich Stannard on drums added to his now electric guitar.

Similarly, his full-band presentation on single “South Caroline” takes his previously established 'Americana' approach and enhances the storytelling with more complex instrumentation.

“I'm leavin' – I'm leavin' this time – to South Caroline,” Bill states against strong opening piano notes. “Long way down the rails South Caroline.” There's a subtle gospel feel to it all, before the rest of the band joins in, pulling everything closer to an Allman Brothers Band vibe. A chorus of female backing vocalist bring the gospel back in a heavy way, with “woooo wooooo's” abounding. While Bill vocally emotes and churns away on his rhythm guitar, a Les Paul armed guitar-gun-slinger rips tasty licks in front of Marshall stacks.

Check it out here:

Bill and the band rolled out a brand new song "And There You Are" on this night, dedicating it to his girlfriend Holly back in Boston.

Initially building off a descending open note riff and full chord punctuation, the tune settles into an easy groove rock n' roll stroll. “And there you are – just like a star,” Bill sings in a raspy folk-blues manner. With a steady, precision drum pattern keeping things tight, the bass guitar walks that progression out behind Bills clean-strummed guitar. Returning to the opening 4 bar descending riff, Bill and the band chug through that good-vibe progression one more time.

Check out that just released video here:

The venue Bill and his band played on this night deserves it's own special focus, as The Bitter End is New York's longest running rock club.  Established in 1961, it has been going now for 59 years with no end in sight.

Original owner Fred Weintraub opened it as a showcase venue for emerging folk music and comedy acts.  Bringing in manager and talent booker Paul Colby early on (becoming the clubs full-time manager in 1968), Colby would eventually become the owner and name most associated with it's six decade existence.

Immortalized on the walls above the bar and throughout are a number of notable performers from both the comedy and music world.  Woody Allen, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan being some of the most recognizable.  That early first decade of the clubs existence catered to stand up comedians and folk musicians under Weintraub, until he turned over operations and ownership to Colby, to pursue a career producing movies.

On the opposite walls are glass encased photographs displaying highlights from some of the most influential moments in the clubs early history.

The above photos serve as a late 1960's, early 1970's history lesson.

This classic shot of a very young Bob Dylan performing there is impressive on a number of levels.

Paul Colby looking dapper as the Every Brothers perform up against that famed brick wall.

More glass-encased goodness shows a signed George Carlin headshot, as well as quintessential Patti Smith and Bob Dylan photo together.

Which rightfully shares a place of prominence on the cover of Paul Colby's 2002 book, The Bitter End: Hanging Out at America's Nightclub (also framed and under glass on the wall).

Since the publication of that book, other notable events occurring there include none other than the notorious Stefani Germanotta's early days (as a 19 year old in 2005), and then coming back triumphantly as Lady Gaga in October of 2016.

There probably isn't a more iconic venue in all of New York City than The Bitter End

With the city awarding it landmark status in 1992.

The perfect setting to meet up with and listen to one more in a long-line of working musicians who continue on in that spirit of live performing.

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SINthetik Messiah is an electro/industrial bass artist from Louisiana who recently put out a Name Your Own Price benefit compilation to generate funds for disabled veterans.  All the proceeds of funds committed to this digital album will go to DAV - Disabled American Veterans: a leading non-profit organization that provides a lifetime of support for veterans of all generations and their families.

DAV is a wonderful organization dedicated to helping the most deserving and neediest people out there.  They help subsidize veterans' needs in temporary housing, work programs, employment assistance, utilities support, transportation to appointments, hospitals and therapy sessions, and supportive assistance in dealing with substance abuse and rehabilitation issues.

SINthetik Messiah is the working "band name" for the equally mysteriously named sound designer Bug Gigabyte.  Based out of the bayous of Louisiana, he is the main composer, producer and engineer for all of these recordings.

“I would like to thank all our Military Veterans. Our country and/or government hasn’t done enough for you in return. I'm simply just want to raise awareness of that. My love and respect goes out to the ones who protect our lives for the greater good.To my international fans, when your brother,sister,mother or dad serves for their country and they come back to you, be there for them, help them heal, help them get back to a normal life.” - Bug Gigabyte (SINthetik Messiah)

The compilation consists of early demos and remixes of material the artist has been working on. Opening track “A Bitter End” is a somber acoustic guitar and vocal only rumination. Follow-up track “Make You Cry” adds piano notes, electronic percussion and Gregorian Chant backing vocal chorus for more passionate upfront vocals to be layered over. The collection fully hits it's stride with the driving Industrial Bass cut “Survive.” Dipping into rhythmic elements and similar pacing as Nine Inch NailsReptile,” a more orchestral sound emerges with the synths approximating flutes and violins. 15 tracks in all, a number of variations in electronic music styles include Dark Electronic Pop (“Sex and Violence”), Electronica (“Can You Feel” - with vocal enhancements in the Tobacco/Black Moth Super Rainbow mold), Experimental Dubstep (“A Better Tomorrow”) as well as Dance subgenres Hiphop, Trap, Witch and Breakcore.

Get the album here and go on a fascinating sonic journey while contributing to the worthiest cause.

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Coming out of the gate with a vengeance in 2020 are new found DaveCromwellWrites faves The Carvels NYC. Catching their live show and recent recorded music back in May of 2019, an instant kinship was felt with (and for) the the bands mastery of classic-era downtown NYC original roots rock and roll sound.

An initial review of that live show (and recordings) found it's way into This Feature, which ultimately garnered the band inclusion in this sites annual end of the year Best Of wrap up as well. Meanwhile, the band has subsequently signed on with Die Laughing Records and is preparing to release a new 3-song 7-inch vinyl EPLate Night Heart” this Valentines Day.

The song and accompanying video combines an upbeat, chugging track with the band members playing in front of Top Cat junk yard cartoon images. Telling a tale of surviving younger days in the city, frontwoman Lynne Von Pang's lyrics couldn't ring more true. Blessed with a powerful, appealing voice, clever lyrical turns like “when you're born in hell you can't fall from grace” and “nothing lasts forever but you never were together so, you can't fall apart” show an intelligent approach to this good time rock and roll.

Check out this super fun video here:

The Carvels NYC have a show this Saturday, January 25 at Otto's Shrunken Head in New York City's East Village at 10 pm with no cover charge.

With a tour of Southern California soon to follow.

To connect, email:

For full credits, thanks and more information please go to

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Another band making it's initial appearance on this site over the past year were the Birmingham, UK based glam-rockers TREMENDOUS.

Being duly impressed with their single release at that time (the catchy earworm "Copycat Killer") also earned them inclusion with a Best Of 2019 distinction.  With their debut album "Relentless" due out in early 2020, the band is now offering a new unplugged version of their first (2018) single release "Like Dreamers Do." 

This acoustic guitar only accompaniment eases the pace somewhat from the original full band version, breathing an intimacy in it's reading, while still maintaining vocal intensity. Subtle lyrical shifts are apparent this time through. Opening lines now focus more on the individual than the couple. It's now “she stares outside that window pane into space” rather than “we stare outside this lonely place, into space.” However, the pleasurable payoff is still a wonderfully brilliant chorus “She (or We) dream(s) of a million things to do. As she (or we) stare outside and dream like dreamers do.” Additional highlights emerge with lines like “smoky surface disguise life – taking place” (where the emphasis on those last two words exhibit a rich and powerfully passionate voice). An interesting descending guitar figure creates a subtle change towards the end, emphasizing a true songwriters touch on this compact two and a half minute song.

Listen here:

The band is offering this acoustic version as a free download, and can be had by sending an email to: likedreamersdomp3@gmail

Keep up with TREMENDOUS on all their social media outlets here: 

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Friday, December 20, 2019

Best Of 2019: New Music Reviews

As the year 2019 comes to a conclusion, the time to reflect on music reviews composed and compiled by your truly is once again upon us. Original work that appeared here exclusively shares space with Dave Cromwell written reviews published monthly over the past year at The Deli Mag.  For the second year running a loose chronological timeline is somewhat held to for the “DaveCromwellWrites Best Of 2019.”

The early roots of rock and roll are on full display in NYC's Screamin' Rebel Angels sophomore album “Heel Grinder.” Out via this year launched Hey-Lo Records, the full-length was released on 1/24.  Fronted by dynamic, flame haired, tattood and glamorous Laura Palmer, the spirit of Little Richard, Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline are embodied within those 13 recorded tracks.

Lead single “Oh! My Soul” in fact covers the legendary (Little) Richard Penniman, infusing it with it an additional level of barrelhouse, juke joint boogie-woogie. The accompanying video (which can be viewed here) features red-hot Laura and her equally alluring “conjurers” tapping into the spirit world via tarot cards, magic potions, ouija boards and adorable Chihuahau puppies!

Deeper tracks touch on elements of rockabilly (“Hands Off,” “Iris”), early Sun Sessions era Elvis (“I Believe”) and a blusey stroll, torch song raveup (“Something on your Mind”).

Info on their upcoming show A Night of Rockabilly, Rhythm and Blues w/ Screamin' Rebel Angels can be found here.

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Brooklyn psych rock duo GHXST released their latest digital album “Gloom” at the end of 2018.

Playing a select number of hand picked shows at that time, they culminated the new year showcasing that material at the 2019 SXSW music festival.  Lead track “Hunger” immediately establishes a dark, slow-burn foreboding that places emphasis on deep-end howling guitars. Dreamy female vocals come adorned with a level of unsettling doom that David Lynch finds so appealing.

Additional tracks like “Ocean is a Desert” and “Vaquero” continues that vibe while adding elements reminiscent of a band like The Kills. “Bad Blood II” introduces a pulsating electronic synth progression, while “Ride” digs down into a bass-tone heavy groove that A Place To Bury Strangers frequently resides. Final track “Heatwaves” incorporates bended slide-guitar along with its apprehensive vocal delivery, dark ambiance and snaking progression.

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New York City's Lower East Side of Manhattan and the borough of Queens share a unique historical place in the annals of punk rock's evolution ever since The Ramones burst on the scene in the mid 1970's.

That same gritty, blue collar toughness can be found in today's like-minded and similarly situated rockers GIFTSHOP. Their latest EPBig In Astoria” (a February 16th digital release) delivers five searing tracks of updated power-punk with pop styling that would make Joey, Johnny, DeeDee and Tommy proud.

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Equal measures of industrial rock guitar electronica, seductive vocals and fashion model glam come woven together in the music of Turbo Goth. As popularity continues to grow in both their native Philippines and adopted home of nyc, the duo of Paolo Peralta and Sarah Gaugler impressed this past March at another official SXSW showcase.

A new album titled “Master Force” is in the works, with first video single “Love Will Be All There Is” delivering impressive results. High quality close-up imagery focuses on guitar strokes that sound like synth bursts inbetween Sarah's sensual vocals and alluring visuals.

It's forward stomping progression, bass-buzzing crunch and Paolo's slo-mo hair-flying movements are tempered by Sarah's flirtatious come-hither vocals and fashionable tattood figure. Picture a less-pop (and much cooler) Ariana Grande fronting a band like Ministry as a starting point for what this band has to offer.

Catch the band live in the new year on Saturday, January 18 at The Cobra Club in Brooklyn

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Innovative Norwegian artist Mortiis has created a unique catalog of music that dates back to the early 1990's.  Emerging out of the Black Metal scene, Håvard Ellefsen developed a solo project for the longer form music he was creating, complete with a dark and mythical image to accompany it.  Those early releases would see him co-founding a genre known as “dark dungeon synth” with significant solo records released between 1993 and 1999.

Those 90's era releases make up what is known as his Era 1 material, which encompasses extended ambient musical pieces that are equal parts cinematic and beat driven. After touring this solo material throughout Europe, Russia, Australia, Mexico and South America, Mortiis performed his Era 1 material in USA and Canada for the first time in 20 years earlier this year.  Engaging in an email interview with the artist just prior to his arrival on North American shores for those shows, a number of questions presented allow for a further look into this musical universe.

The artist is now set to release “Spirit Of Rebellion,” a re-interpreted expansion and continuation of the 1994 Era I classic Ånden som Gjorde Opprør on January 24th, 2020 via Omnipresence Productions / Dead Seed Productions.

A new video for the track “A Dark Horizon” has been unleashed and can be viewed here.

Additionally, MORTIIS will be returning to North America for an Era I headline run in early 2020,supported by avant-garde black metal hybrid T.O.M.B. The 15-date strong US tour kicks off on January 24th at The Whiskey Junction in Minneapolis and finishes on February 9th at San Louis Obispo's The Graduate(NB the last date is without T.O.M.B.)

Tickets to all shows are on sale now at:

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Dreampop continues to evolve in a variety of interesting and often unexpected ways. Brooklyn's Teen Body has taken this classic staple of introspective rock and added an emo element to it all. The results are quite intoxicating on their 2019 released album “Dreamo” via NYC label Broken Circles.

As the album title combines those two descriptive genres into one single word, so does the music represented on the eight songs it contains. “Fell Off” immediately strikes a wistful mood through melancholy chords and Shannon Lee's sweet vocal delivery. “Act Yr Age” opts for a more angular progression to support its over six minutes in length and lyrically dense story on the complications of romantic interaction. “Ballad of Tomboy Jerry” continues the record's pattern of initially restrained instrumentation that ultimately builds to a crescendo combined with Ms Lee's singular voice. Another vocalist eventually emerges with bassist Xela French providing the storytelling on “The Draag,” while both singers shine in tandem on the uptempo “Validation.” The penultimate title track pulls all of these elements together via exultant guitar hooks, deep resonant bass, slow-groove drumming and those emotive tandem vocals. Access “Dreamo” via the currently popular listening services here.

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The music of Sophie Ellis Bextor has been featured here at DaveCromwellWrites for the entire ten years of it's existence. However, initial interest in her recorded works and live appearances pre-dates the creation of this site by eight years. In 2001, official website forums served as the gathering place and proving grounds for ambitious writers and excited fans alike to discuss their best-loved artists. At that time Sophie was enjoying rising popularity in her home country England as well as throughout Europe and Australia, riding a wave of back-to-back hit records, “Groovejet” and “Murder On The Dance Floor.” Appearances on the legendary long running music show Top Of The Pops (frequently shown in the USA on import channel BBC America) helped to create pockets of loyal State side overseas fans as well.

In 2019 the time came for Sophie to look back on her storied career and celebrate it with her greatest hits album “The Song Diaries.” Not content to simply cobble together a collection of the already recorded tracks that typically constitutes a “greatest hits” album, Sophie embarked on a bold journey of re-recording every song from scratch and placing them in an orchestral setting. That ambitious undertaking resulted in 15 chronological order hits spanning from the very first solo single through all six of her studio albums (this now being her seventh) along with four bonus tracks encompassing significant historical reference points and/or enhanced alternate takes.

The entire detailed track-by-track review of Sophie Ellis Bextor's “The Song Diaries” can be found here.

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There's a lot more “hot pink” than anything really “satanic” in the songwriting and provocative live show of Hot Pink Satan.  Formed by the seductive Mollie Black (a/k/a Clea Cutthroat) and sonic maestro Jeremy Creamer (a/k/a allinaline – we all have multiple names now it seems), the duo strikes a perfect blend of industrial rhythms and sexually charged attitude.

Providing the musical blueprint for their wildly magnetic live show are a number of electrifying songs off of recent full-length release “Spells.”

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Pioneering psychedelic space rockers The Telescopes touched down in Brooklyn at The Knitting Factory in 2019 and put on a one of a kind hallucinogenic show. In the midst of their “Exploding Head Tour” (named after their current album “Exploding Head Syndrome”) founder and frontman Stephen Lawrie enlisted support act The Cult Of Lip to flesh out his live band. What transpired was a wave of swelling sonic drone where the structure of fully complete songs would emerge inside of. Rounding out noteworthy DaveCromwellWrites reviews at this time were deep-dive analysis of Dinowalrus, Odonis Odonis, Public Memory, The Carvels and The Hell Yeah Babies.

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Combining elements of pop, jazz, soul and heavy rock into an appealing progressive mix sees Brooklyn's Kleptokrat expanding local alternative rock parameters. Their 2019 released sophomore EP “Momentarily, to Grace” boasts five impeccably recorded, genre-twisting tracks. Soulful horns and sweet, jazzy female lead vocals establish the mood on opening song “The Great Leap Forward.”

Over the tracks four minutes, precise, angular structures give way to floating ambient interludes that merge together with beguiling charm. “Jumping Ship” applies those light and airy vocals to a lyrically dense story of relationships coming undone, punctuated by heavy bass, sax and drums. “Kleptocito” further adds touches of latin rhythms to what becomes an over five minute instrumental tour-de-force. Final cuts “The View at Bethlehem” and “Body in the Room” bring back those engaging, honeyed vocals over alternately dreamy-to-frenzied compositions.

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Animated band movements playing along with their explosive two-minute power-pop song is a can't-miss combination, and that's just what you get with Kissed by an Animal's 2019 release “The Good Times Are Here Again.”  Guitarist/vocalist Dima Drjuchin applies the technique of Rotoscoping to live action footage while adding a steady flow of flames, hearts, flowers, skulls, birds, bunnies and more to the Peter Max style psychedelic imagery.

Self-directed and drawn over in Adobe Animate, the track is a power-pop treat with crunchy guitar, hard-edge drumming and a fluid bassline. The first hook is reached just :30 seconds in via a descending progression that goes “sometimes hard to be a friend when the good times are here again.” An even bigger hook arrives with the chorus stating “when no one see's you, no one is holding you back,” that get's turned into “there IS no holding back.”

The riff breaks lean towards the heavy and tight Dinosaur Jr variety, adding a dramatic accent breaks and a touch of pitch-bended warped guitar tones. Big dreamy background “ahhh's” lift it higher into near dream-gaze territory.

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Explosive drop-D grunge-metal guitars and thundering drums introduce the August 2019 Citris single release “Hell Is a Place on Earth.” Written and performed by Angelina Torreano (guitar/vocals) and recorded/mixed and mastered by Chris Krasnow (who also contributes drums/bass and guitar) the track is a heavy rumination on personal failings against larger global issues.

Too selfish to die, too right to be happy, too weak to be leaned on. Leave it to me to destroy everything that is good,” the singer laments The title line chorus benefits from vocal layering, adding a big-studio sheen to that hook, as well as additional lines “give me your love, then take it away.” A pivotal statement arrives a minute in when the instruments drop out for the solo vocals declaration “I don't look back in anger.”

While that progression cycles through again (with alternate lyrical content), a sophisticated angular, prog-metal break emerges around the 3rd minute and takes the track to it's conclusion. This initial release served as an introduction to the full-length album “Delusions of Glamour,” which is out now on all digital platforms.

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Brooklyn dreampop band 4Vesta released their digital EP “Light and Chemicals” in 2019, underscoring the timeless appeal and continuing influence of a style created in the early 1990's on emerging musicians nearly 30 years later. Featured opening track “Evening Star” serves as an homage to the pitch-bended, layered guitars and submerged vocals on Kevin Shields' MBV masterpiece “Loveless.”

In fact, the songs title hearkens back two decades earlier to the guitar-looped ambiance of Fripp and Eno's 1975 album of the same name. This new track moves at a deliberately melancholy pace before exploding into forceful walls of guitars and voices, synonymous with a blissful state-of-mind. More discernible male vocals appear on “Full Spectrum” approximating Neil Halstead's low-key approach with Slowdive. “Autophase” doubles-down on the warped and warbly atmosphere, striking a middle ground between Colm O'Ciosig's Loveless contribution “Touched” and some of Ringo Deathstarr's recent output. Final track “Sea Plastic” serves up a five minute meditation on churning guitar textures, ethereal vocals and distant percussion. The EP is available for streaming on Spotify.

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Releasing their brand new album “Occabot” on November 1, 2019 via Rad Cult Records, The Stargazer Lilies re-imagined their previously established heavy stoner-doom/dreamgaze sound into something new.  Paragon Cause released their latest EPLies Between Us” in 2019, combining dream pop, indie, electronic, industrial, trip hop and alternative rock with soaring, passionate vocals. Emerging out of UK's growing glam-rock revival scene, Birmingham's TREMENDOUS released single “Copycat Killer” in 2019.

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Creating their own quirky blend of noisy dual-guitar dreampop, Russian Baths shared their latest single “Wrong” in advance of their debut full-length album “Deepfake.”  A crisp, syncopated drum pattern and bassline set up momentary jolting guitars, introducing soft-spoken lyrics “what's that effect you hear? Keep it in control.”

Elongated vocals emphasize the songs title with the refrain “I – was – wrong,” as atmospheric guitar textures rise in the background, momentary exploding, at other times chiming like town square bells. A sonic ascension begins midway through this nearly 5 minute track, creating a wall of hammered guitar chords against the single word songtitle “wrong.” One more quite plateau is reached, as clean dual guitar interplay engages over a simple, basic drum beat. Deepfake was released on 11/8 and is available now everywhere.

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Based out of Austin, Texas, Blushing released their ten track debut LP this past September. Australia's Trillion put out their six song record “When I Wake” in MayEngland's The Suncharms contributed their track “Jet Plane” to an ongoing compilation series in November.  Pacific coast darkwave duo Lunar Twin have been advancing tracks in anticipation of a brand new album “Ghost Moon Ritual.”  Puerto Rican musicians Sin Tribu (aka Warren Santiago), Boston, MA's Federico Balducci, Héctor Caolo's Sueño con belugas, Tom Lugo's Stellarscope, 3 Robots Records SELENES and Meviu§ all feature in the DaveCromwellWrites Year End Best Of review.

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