Though relatively new to the local psych-rock scene, Brooklyn’s Spires have already begun to garner some well-deserved attention. Their song “Candy Flip” (streaming below here) takes direct aim at the late 1980’s “Madchester” era, capturing that vibe and sound with impressive results. Much like the Gallagher brothers looked to The Beatles for a framework to expand on, Spires takes The Stone Roses lead and builds their own playground out of it. “Comic Book” keeps the Manc-style vibe intact, pushing things forward with bigger production values like handclaps, big chorus ambiance and a solid percussive base. Sweet pop background vocals make this track perfect for the next coming-of-age film or tv soundtrack.
There is a transcendent quality to Brooklyn based Heaven’s latest single “Telepathic Love” - title-track of the psych rock trio's latest album. What sounds like a toy piano serves as the dominant “gotcha” hook, but there is so much more going on. Matt Sumrow’s soft yet sandpapery vocals immediately grab your attention, weaving imagery about having seen “the ugly and the beautiful,” and simply trying to “figure it all out.” Ryan Lee Dunlap adds seamless tandem vocals evoking the 1960’s era style of The Everly Brothers as well as more recent artists like The Raveonettes. There’s a powerful backbeat running throughout, courtesy of master sticksman Mikey Jones, which deftly rides under the more-sophisticated-than-you-initially-think chord progression. “There’s a bridge down telepathic love - the only way to show you” becomes the ultimate resolution of faith and wonder.
The recent debut album release “Habit Shackles” by Brooklyn’s Desert Stars presents a fresh approach to the ever-expanding psych-rock genre. Years in the making, an unsettling emotional beauty runs throughout the twelve fully realized tracks. “One Good Ear” rides along shuffling snare drum propulsion paired with an undistorted guitar progression before exploding into full band mode. While the lead vocals remain clearly focused here, background voices approximate angels floating in from the heavens above. “Normal Man” quickly evolves from a treated piano undercurrent to ominous guitar textures and cascading vocal layers. In addition to the brand new material, previously released tracks “Boys I Like” and “Past in the Trash” (both having videos made for them) are also featured on the album. The former emphasizes spacious percussive movement under static piano chords, ambient guitar and cathedral voices. While the latter drives on bass guitar, buzzing synths, handclap percussion and dream-pop vocal textures. An unanticipated harmonica solo adds a western flair.
There is a distinctly appealing quirkiness to the mysteriously named TKTTSM (say “ticketism”) and their self-titled debut album. Meticulously produced tracks emphasize detailed vocal placement over any kind of blurred mix. The cadence and phrasing of singer Johanna Stahley is frequently found residing somewhere between Florence’s Machine and Gwen Stefani’s more angular moments with No Doubt. An off-kilter bar is immediately set with opening song “Calisthenics,” whose lyrics juxtapose recreational chemical consumption alongside the benefits of physical exercise. “Plastic Fantastic” (streaming below and offered as a free download via their Soundcloud) playfully updates the style Dale Bozzio pioneered with 80’s MTV darlings Missing Persons, merging rock instrumentation with a dance singer persona. The acoustic guitar driven “I Wanted To” quickly progresses into heart-tugging dreampop, while the lyrically dense “Edumication” bounces between stream of conscience streetwise rhymes. Deeper track “Porcupine” ambitiously blends elements that at times reflect bits of The Cure, Grimes and even Paramore, making a single genre classification more difficult.
Brother acts have been a staple of rock music history since the very beginning of it all. From the Everlys to The Kinks' Davies through the JAMC’s Reids, The Black Crowes' Robinsons and Oasis’ Gallaghers, a rich tradition has continued throughout each new generation. Enter Andy and James Ralph and their wonderfully named band WRITER to the mix. Celebrating this alignment to the fullest, they’ve titled their debut album “Brotherface,” a lyrically observant, solidly rhythmic guitar rock record emphasizing superior songwriting.
The Digital Album can be purchased here
Leadoff track “Head to Toe” booms with percussive force and well placed buzz-bomb guitars, yet the space left open allows for emphasis to be placed on the voices and the story they tell. “Miss Mermaid” kicks the production value up a notch. The booming, live sounding drums are still there, but guitar layers are introduced and the voices are run through effects, creating an otherworldly sheen. There’s a Ska rhythm guitar progression alternating with a twangy western melody line. The under two minute “Swamp Fire Lake” pairs submerged vocal effects against a swampy delta blues, bringing to mind the rawness of The Kills first album. “Family Dinner” continues the loose tom tom and tambourine percussion motif, this time matched with guitars placing emphasis on the low end bass notes. “Barefoot Art” finds buzzy electronic keyboards pulsing like a telephone receiver left off the hook after the call has ended. Tambourine stands out as the primary percussive motion, providing ample space for the vocal storytelling. “Cash For Gold” pummels like The Velvet Underground through a Jesus and Mary Chain filter. The observatory lyrics “better find some gold and sell it quickly” underscores the instant money grab imagery we are bombarded with on a daily basis. “North Park Fairies” emphasizes clock ticking percussion (with the ever present tambourine) supporting further processed multi-layered vocals in a wide open spaciousness. Album closer “Dry Hands” serves as the big and bombastic finale. Heavily reverberated voices ride atop booming drums and hard plucked guitar notes. The mood is all vibe and texture. With “oh yeah, oh yeah” as the essential lyrical theme.
Here is a stream of the entire album:
The band also has made a wonderful visual stream for the entire album, which can be viewed here
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