Friday, November 22, 2019

Record Reviews: Blushing, Trillion, The Suncharms, Lunar Twin, Stellarscope, Selenes

Deep dives into newly recorded works serves as primary motivation for this month's DaveCromwellWrites Features. While some new-to-this-site artists receive close listen analysis (inspired by the guiding hand production work of a respected, previously featured sonic master), others found their way in by simply reaching out. Oftentimes the most basic and sincere forms of communication and recognition yield the best results. That level of respect fuels a reason-to-care motivation leading to an ultimate appreciation of each individual recorded achievement.

Based out of Austin, Texas, Blushing makes modern dreamgaze music that pays homage to the 90's era sound originated by bands like The Cocteau Twins and Lush. Built around the female frontline of Michelle Soto (guitar, vocals) and Christina Carmona (vocals, bass) the four-piece band is completed with husbands Jake Soto (drums) and Noe Carmona (guitar). Their ten track debut LP was recorded, mixed and produced by Elliott Frazier of Ringo Deathstarr. Elliot's work with his own brilliant band has been featured on this site numerous times, with a complete review of their last album here. Employing his studio abilities with Blushing's songwriting, playing and vocals has made for a winning combination and receives a full track-by-track review now as well.

Opening track “So Many” starts out in an understated manner, with gently strummed, flanged guitar chords providing initial instrumental focus. Female vocals soon emerge out of wind-rush tunnels and celestial space, delivering lines “when the weight of the world is not enough to motivate.” Bright cymbals and drums enter the mix at a minute-and-a-half, providing a pulse under the lyrical story that continues to unfold. It all advances to build for another minute before a huge ambient expanse is opened, filling in across the entire sonic field with deep space guitar and punched-up percussion.

Stomping right out of the gate on tom-toms and more aggressively strummed, chorused guitars, “Dream Merchants” take an introspective look at the mind during (and after) sleep. “When you wake up - Feel your dreams around - They can change your mind - Leave it all unwound.” Extended note guitar squalls snake their way through significant segments of the track, providing a segue to overlapping vocals that approximate the quick fluctuation of a dream-like state. “Taking you places that you’ve never been - Not really sure if that’s what you intend,” ultimately leads to “Giving you what you needed to begin - They can change your mind.”

A churning percussive undercurrent and chiming guitars provide the instrumental springboard for “The Last Time.” There's a light and airy feel to the vocal presentation on the verses, while the choruses come on more forceful over a rubbery bassline and rat-a-tat percussion. Of particular note is the dreamy mid-point interlude that unfolds in cascading layered voices. Elements of the bands Lush and The Cocteau Twins come to mind while listening to this.

Chiming open note chords and thumping toms provide the opening textures for retro goth feel “Control.” Soft whisp female vocals float into the progression, stating “can't control you – You're not around. Can't escape the bind you found.” Bolder guitar strokes delivered in quicker time usher in the change “I'll wait for you – you cling to me – we look away – to set us free.” Opulent layers of voices cascade together in subsequent passes through, occasionally emphasizing flatter vocal notes (Minor? Fifth? Seventh notes?) revealing more complexity than initially anticipated. Bass guitar gets a featured moment just past the midway point, before rumbling toms and retro guitar textures join in.

Riding an immediate rhythmic curve that enunciates the first four syllables of each verse sentence (“we'll – for – get – they”, before the full band crashes in on the final word “know”), “The Truth” emphasizes big, bold strokes. Vocals cascade and blur into a swirling mix of instruments, with a clearly defined chorus stating “I know why you're like this. I feel how it returns. Can't say that I blame you. I know how this will end.” After two passes through the songs mid-point features a dreamy Lynchian passage (complete with ghostly background “Ahhh ahhhh's) declaring “Get used to it. Get used to the end. Just take the deal – and feel something real right now.” A brilliant guitar passage leads the song out to its conclusion.

-  -  -

A beautiful, elongated e-bowed guitar line serves as the centerpiece on “Pressure.” Underneath that dominating sound, the band thunders along as dream-gaze vocals “going on – a run around again – looking for the answers” hover just above the submerged line. The pace and intensity quickens and a frantic guitar figure surfaces before the low rumbling fade-out.

-  -  -

A gentle 1-2-3 waltz pattern introduces the Cocteau Twins influenced “Sunshine.” With vocal lines echoed in rapid succession (and lower toned, “flatter” harmonies) the nod of recognition to Liz Fraser and Robin Guthrie's innovative style is unmistakable. The layering and tonal quality of the female voices also bring to mind one of Ringo Deathstarr's own layered masterpieces - “Guilt.” A balance develops between specific guitar-bass chords alternating with floating lyrics “when I was down - you went away. Now you’re back - Sunshine stay.” A lovely minute-and-a-half instrumental coda lifts everything skyward.

Listen to that track here:

Regret and longing are the lyrical themes of the gently starting and powerfully finishing power ballad “Running.” Its carefully measured intro allows for a clearer vocal style on delicate introductory lyrics. A handful of weighty 90's era Projekt Records artists like Love Spirals Downwards, Soul Whirling Somewhere and Loveliescrushing come rushing back to mind while listening to this. This story of love never attained - “I'll never know – all that could've been – and the moment is gone – there won't be another day” is riddled with regret over “the words I didn't say.” A powerful chorus leaves some room for hope with the sentiment “If you want me to – I'll give it all for you. If you want me to – I'd lose it all for you.”

Romantic dreampop is the order of the day on the swirling”Me With You.” With shimmering downward strumming on it's dynamic intro, a spacious bass and drums only segment is soon met with brightly struck guitar figures before concise, poetic lyrics begin. “Could it be that you’re too far. Could it be that I’m not where you are. Pull me closer to you now. Holding on.”

A momentary dramatic pause is held as voices rise, before a more forceful chorus arrives. “Out of nowhere I fell in love. I don’t know why you couldn’t see. Out of nowhere I fell in love.I don’t know why I couldn’t keep.” Leading back into the downward driving intro chords. There an audible quality to the tone and combined females voices on this (mostly) pop song that reminds of (and this is meant in the most complimentary way) The Bangles. Yes, the Susanna Hoffs band. There was a distinct quality to the way that group harmonized, and elements of that are perceptible here as well.

Digital delay provides sonic effect on the introductory notes for final track “Her.” As the full sonic spectrum rapidly fills with a powerfully leading bassline and echo-canyon snare drum shots, extended length guitar lines fill in over top. Verses come in hushed tones, with percussion pulled back deep into the mix, leaving voice and guitar as primary focus. Those dynamics allow for fuller band enhancements under penultimate lines “there would never be enough time with you. I’ll take comfort in the days that we knew.” A final minute-and-a-half instrumental lift-off serves as the ultimate statement on the albums gorgeous sonic quality overall.


Catching up with old friends and making new one's too!

*  *  *  *  *

Making it's way onto the DaveCromwellWrites landscape is the six song EPWhen I Wake” from Sydney, Australia's Trillion.  The five piece unit released this magnificent record in 2019, establishing a level of dreampop and gazey songcraft celebrating that style's enduring universal appeal. Each of the songs has been given a deep listen and now receives a detailed Cromwell analysis.

From the opening notes of intro (and title) track “When I Wake,” the listener is immediately immersed into a multiple layered guitar-centric dreamgaze world. One might expect this with the band listing not one, not two, but three active guitarists participating in this musics creation. Drums and bass soon enter the mix, providing a muscular undercurrent. Dual male-female tandem vocals deliver lyrics while a wall of pitch-bended guitars churn relentlessly underneath. The tracks midpoint ushers in a solid change, before heading back into the initial charging progression. There's room for riffing over top of that, creating ear-pleasing melodies before the eventual fade-out.

Reverberated canyons are the guitar texture approximations on the more deliberately measured “Slow Down.” Vocals come in that quieter, reverential style that Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead did (and still do) so well on those classic Slowdive recordings. Gentle floating waves of guitar riffs are fortified by a commanding bassline and strong drumming. A lovely downward progression change develops halfway through, leading to an aggressive instrumental segment that brings “Ummagumma”-era Pink Floyd to mind. As the original, shuffling progression returns, softly sung lines like “take the time to shine” surfaces against angelic higher register background vocals.

Buzzing bee guitars and quick paced percussion are the order of the day on “Circles Around Me.” Swirling like an angry hive bearing down on a field of flowers, space is given for some brief vocal lines before the colony sound returns. Snaking guitar lines are woven in over top, reinforcing the necessity of the bands triple guitar approach. There's an atonal quality to the meshing of voices and bee-buzz guitar wash that creates an additional level of satisfaction. Not content to stop there, a jacked-up instrumental segment features emphatic guitar lead forays over throttling bass and drums.

Open note chords and deep rumbling drone usher in the dreamy “Walk Away.” That low pitched bass is distinctive, giving the track a bit of Jesus and Mary Chain feel. The bass gets busier on instrumental interludes that feature sinewy guitar lines weaving their way over top. Female vocals are pushed more prominently in the mix, with the male counterpart providing the shadow harmonies. Clocking in a minute shorter than the previous three songs, there's an overall poppier feel to this one.

The My Bloody Valentine-esque pitch-bended, overdriven guitars return on “Gone In Your Smile.” Vocals roll out in similarly submerged fashion, with the bright snare drum and cymbals paying perfect homage to the brilliant Colm Ó Cíosóig. The track is somewhat closer to the just-before Loveless MBV, with it's structured pop leanings enhanced by coming levels of murk and mayhem.

Final cut “Houhui” takes a decidedly different approach with the tracks opening strains sounding like a high pitched violin-like instrument. Overdriven guitars come floating in underneath and slowly take over the entire sonic spectrum. It's orchestral in feel and beatless – with those initial high pitched tones reappearing in the mix, providing a melody of sort on top of modulating glazed and gazey guitars.
-  -  -

Keep up to date with all things Trillion via their bandcamp, which provides links to all of their social media platforms.

*  *  *  *  *

Contributing a newly recorded track to the Amsterdam, Netherlands label fadeawayradiate records latest F.A.R. OUT curated digital compilation (now their third), The Suncharms finds their song in perfectly matched company of fellow upbeat pop (with a hint of psychedelia) artists.

Exploding out of a whip-crack snare drum and cymbals-on-bass-drum intro, “Jet Plane” takes off on a instantly catchy guitar riff loaded with nostalgic charm. The kind of upbeat melody that immediately embeds in your soul, bringing to mind carefree days of sun on your face and the promise of new adventures. A briskly strummed acoustic guitar churns away underneath, adding depth to the bass guitar and drums already in full flight. Vocals come on with a touch raspy, life-having-been-lived experience, weaving a tale of flyover air travel and the stories embedded within them. The bridge change arrives a minute in, with the dominant melody guitar line matching the vocals in note-for-note equal measure. “I am watching sunshine as it bursts through the rain” serves as just one lyrical metaphor depicting a feel good sensation. While that can't-miss hook-laden guitar riff cycles through again, additional sonic elements begin to find their way into the mix.. What sounds like a pedal-steel guitar is audible on the following verse, where the vocals are delivered in a softer, more conversational way. The final :45 second instrumental end-out keeps that happy feeling going, capping off a near-perfect three and a half minute pop song.

For further info on The Suncharms, check out their bandcamp link here.

*  *  *  *  *

Making their long awaited return to the DCW universe are the pacific coast darkwave duo Lunar Twin.  Having previously covered their 2017 record “Night Tides” here, advance tracks are now being released in anticipation of a brand new album. The Cromwell dive down into one of those tracks follows below.

Soft piano introduces the near five minute in length track “Electric Lights.” A deep, introspective voice begins to sing in that up-close-in-your-ear style that Mark Lanegan mines so well. “It's past 4 am, still sittin' here. Drinkin' in (held in elongated vowels) the atmosphere.” Orchestral components materialize underneath, initially with lush keyboard strings and marimba-toned, sharp-struck melodies. Another buzzy synth tone materializes into the mix, providing one more counter balance to an ongoing mystical lyrical story. Inserting subtle, but noticeable structural changes allows for descending chord progressions augmented by deep, distant percussion. However, those changing undercurrents serve only to intensify the continuing lyrical story over top. At three minutes in, a more traditional drum progression commences, providing additional balance via a bona fide “beat.” That soon drops out, returning primary focus to lyrics stating “you're still a stranger” and “there is no imminent danger.” With the beat returning, vocal lines still flow: “rest with the sunset – sweet like the ocean – you can live forever and dream – electric like me - Electric light dreams.”

The forthcoming full length album “Ghost Moon Ritual” will be released in Vinyl, CD and Digital formats on February 16th, 2020 via the duos new imprint Tropical Depression/Desert Heat.

Follow the lead up to that release and everything else about the band here.

*  *  *  *  *

On Wednesday November 13, 2019 3 Robots Records and Popnoise Fest presented a night of ambient and sonic explorations by Puerto Rican artists at Muchmore's in Brooklyn.

Performing on this night was an acoustic set from Sin Tribu (aka Warren Santiago); experimental ambient soundscapes from Boston, MA's Federico Balducci; a post ambient acoustic project by Héctor Caolo of pioneering shoegaze band Un.Real dubbed Sueño con belugas as part of the Selenes collective; a gazey set from Panophonic - the noise-pop project by Tom Lugo of Philadelphia’s post-punk/indie rock band Stellarscope; and DJ Meviu§ playing shoegaze, dreampop, indiepop in between sets.

Stellarscope have a new album on the way, scheduled for a January 2020 release.  Their first single "Sweet Surrender" is available now, and the track impresses on a number of levels.

Quick rhythmic tom-tom fueled drumming sets the pace as deep resonant guitar chords chime down in bold strokes. “Waiting on something, other than the dark days of life” is the opening lyrical refrain. Guitar and bass kick in at a more frantic pace, with quick strum buzzing guitars in constant motion. In under a minute the tracks essential hook is reached with the lines “Oh, I will never tell you lies. Oh, I will never let you down.” Those vocals are stylized and delivered with a diction and processing effects that bring to mind Peter Murphy's classic output. The instrumental delivery is far more forceful however, driving forward to its hyper-charged conclusion.

Listen to the track right here, with links to the many other band related resources here.

3 Robots Records is making available for free download a newly released album titled SELENES

The album is a collaboration between friends and colleagues from the independent music scene in Puerto Rico. It was put together by the artists sending tracks back and forth over the internet, recording, mixing and adding ideas in this modern way music is now often made. The name SELENES comes from the word “Selas” which describes the light and brightness emanating from the moon. In ancient Greek mythology, Selene is the name used to describe the moon goddess.

There is a wonderful, dreamy atmosphere to all of the tracks. Gently strummed flanged guitars and dreamy female vocals come wrapped in vast surroundings on the particularly standout track “Lead the Fire.” A male harmony vocal joins in on the delicate chorus, providing counterpoint to it all. Comprised of ten tracks in total, many are purely instrumental sonic explorations into a dream-like state. It's introspective music, but there are enough structural changes on a number of lengthier tomes (with “Planet Vortex” and “Surface Vibrations” in particular) to more than hold the listeners interest.

*  *  *  *  *

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Featured Reviews: The Stargazer Lilies, Paragon Cause, TREMENDOUS, Pontus Gunve

October finds the Cromwell microscope focusing on eagerly anticipated new recorded works from artists either previously featured here, or having collaborated with a much reviewed influential source, along with first time entries to this site.  All of these records show musicians taking their creative ideas (many honed through live show performances) and forming them into high-quality studio recordings.

With brand new album “Occabot” set for release on November 1 via Rad Cult Records, The Stargazer Lilies re-imagine their previously established heavy stoner-doom/dreamgaze sound, aided by producer Tobacco (aka Tom Fec) of Black Moth Super Rainbow. Those sound manipulations applied to the bands initial compositions and recordings add a level of distortion and “dirt” previously unheard on SGLs previous works.

Opening track “Magenta Sunrise” is introduced via layered, hummed vocals and ceremonial backing textures. Kim's hushed voice begins with the words “darkness falls” among a the slow-moving, reverential swirl. Anyone raised in a religious environment (Midnight Masses/Church pipe-organs) could certainly connect this sound to those reference points, as the track moves towards it's title line. Percussive undercurrents begin with the second verse as the full, explosive effect of voices and walls of sound-washes lift everything to a heightened state, providing the sonic equivalent of watching the morning sunrise from a perfect visual location. 30 seconds or so of de-tuned guitars serve as an interesting coda to it all.

The second song in “Monsters of Your Thought” is one the band has been showcasing live over the last year. Those experiences witnessed moments of explosive ambiance before giving way to John's slightly-warped guitar tones (captured in this clip here ). The nearly 6 minute official album track, however is introduced with those promised “smudges and saturation” provided by producer Tobacco. The live-in-the-studio feel soon commences (especially the sound of the drums) as the warbly horror-movie sonics are joined by Kim's whispered vocals. Structured around a 1-2-3, 1-2-3 waltz time-signature, the vibe is all “Carnival of Souls” haunted Merry-Go-Round. That's not to say they're aren't elements of “gazey bliss” wafting through scratchy thickets of fog, and much of that can be attributed to Kim's rising melody vocal lines. Elements of David Lynch's Julie Cruise/Chromatics/Au Revoir Simone fanaticism creep into this particular track, suggesting it as a possible contender for future inclusions into that off-kilter world. At approximately the 3 minute mark, a particularly “snakedriven” guitar solo emerges along with now more clearly audible bass guitar, leading the final verses out.

The bands heavy, stoner-rock qualities – so prevalent in their live show – are fully captured here on third track “Foreverless.” It's still wall-of-sound washes, however – tempering those traditional low-toned guitar-bass textures and riffs (so prevalent with “heavy” music) by adding gazey dreampop elements. Kim's vocals are processed to a point that begins to resemble Belinda Butcher on My Bloody Valentine's quintessential “Loveless” tracks. Once again, John steps out with a solo, this time emphasizing a higher register scale. The songs distinctive heavy-chugging riff makes it's presence felt one last time before meeting a clever, studio-enhanced ending.

Elements of MBV-like distorted guitar swells and hushed vocal qualities are further displayed on the five minute mid-point track “Blows My Mind.” Recessed shimmering walls of sound lay a bed for Kim's rising vocal melody, subsequent bass notes and eventual lively crash-can drumming. The noisy, near-shapeless undercurrents are unrelenting while additional melodic vocals layer over top in a slow-motion, dream-like state. A new melody eventually emerges via John's elongated-notes guitar solo, culminating with dive-bombing squall as the other instruments drop out. Kim's synonymous meditation on state of mind (“blows my mind?” “it is my mind?lost my mind?”) ushers in the tracks thundering conclusion.

Things take another turn, with the band dipping into the weirder end of the pool on “Living Work of Art.” Distant rustlings and buzzy synths are met with tambourine rattle as Kim begins her tale that morphs from single to doubled vocals. Production twists are audibly noticed on word endings that quickly dip and truncate. Brief synth notes momentarily flash across the sound path. Along with all that strangeness is a perceptible bass progression and vocal melody that drives it all along as a fully-structured song. While percussion here is electronic (with hisses and pops over any traditional drums) space is created for another Cep guitar foray over the returning bright tambourine shake. The final 30 sections finds John playing an emotionally stirring guitar refrain that is ultimately swallowed up by a swirling radioactive churn.

Deeper levels of de-tuned and warped sonics usher in the six-and-a-half minute sprawl “Dizzying Heights.” Momentary clean guitar strokes emerge, twanging out basic structure while layered voices create an off-kilter balance between distant high notes and intimate whispers. With basic drums lumbering into motion the hazy vocals morph the word “heights” into alternately sounding like “hearts.” Halfway in, John unleashes yet-another blistering squall of mayhem from his guitar that continues to push the envelope on that instruments capabilities. Voices weave back in for one more pass through before the rushing winds return, leading to a final warbly coda.

Irregular auditory compositions continue with the seventh track “Let's Kill Time.” While Kim's vocals start immediately, the initial slow crawling undertow is touched by percussive structure once drums and cymbals enter the mix. An instrumental melody-line comes on warped and twisted, like a vinyl album left out in the sun. Creeping forward at a languid pace, whooshing walls of sound blend seamlessly with ghostly voices and rising melodies that peak, then dive before it all ultimately subsides.

The guiding manipulative hand of producer Tobacco – so prevalent throughout this entire album – is most apparent on the introductory minute of final track “Icarus Sun.” As Kim sings the opening lines, what sounds like a mellotron George Martin might have used on The Beatles increasingly experimental recordings shares space with hand-manipulated tape warping. “Someday – I'll be with the one – in the land of the Icarus Sun,” Kim sings – ultimately reaching a desire that “I will dream that my work here is done.” Bright cymbal timekeeping with slow steady drums and rooted bass notes provide the undercurrent for one more extended note guitar foray. As other instruments and effects drop away, a single bass guitar leads the track to fade-out.

Previous features on The Stargazer Lilies can be found on this site HERE - HERE - and HERE.

*  *  *  *  *

Combining dream pop, indie, electronic, industrial, trip hop and alternative rock with soaring, passionate vocals, Canadian musicians Jay Bonaparte (guitarist/songwriter) and Michelle Opthof (vocalist/keyboardist/lyricist) record together as Paragon Cause. Their latest EP “Lies Between Us” was produced by long-time DaveCromwellWrites favorite Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes (with over a decade of his work covered here). This brand new six song EP has Mr. Wagner's instantly recognizable digital fingerprints all over it, while never obscuring Jay and Michelle's dominant creativity.

Opening cut “Someone Else” kicks off the record with an ominous deep synth-bass line and crack-slap electronic percussion. A fuller one-time keyboard stab ushers in rich female vocals declaring “It’s what you get for listening, listening to someone else.” As that initial stabbing keyboard chord returns, buzzing synth countermelodies emerge, ultimately giving way to inverted vocal melody lines stating “Running just to catch on up, No time for trouble now.” The entire effect is an intoxicating blend of modern doomy synth rock (the NIN model that has been updated by the likes of fellow Canadians Odonis Odonis) and storied female-fronted classical rock like Renaissance. That latter reference showing on minor-key vocal hook “time for hesitation” and particularly via the supercharged chorusing on “It's never gonna be enough.” Those impressive vocals also bring to mind Amy Lee's early work with Evanescence.

A more recognizable Sune Rose Wagner groove is instantly felt on the driving 60's-meets-90-s vibed “Save Me.” Nobody delved into the Beach Boys spirit better than The Jesus and Mary Chain did on *their* classic tracks, and Wagner's own legacy in that regard is firmly etched on rock history. Paragon Cause adds their own unique qualities here via poignant lyrical hook “to the place, to the time, where you believed – Your('re) superior” (holding long and impassioned on those final two words). An utterly catchy and beautiful song that would fit splendidly on the soundtrack of any coming-of-age, romantic movie or tv show (much in the same way Sune's The Raveonettes music was perfectly matched for popular mid-2000's dramatic television series “Gossip Girl.”). Reaching the “you cannot save them all – All for nothing” hook serves to unleash a torrent of flashbacks reminding what made nearly every one of Mr. Wagner's songs so special, via instantly recognizable guitar counter-melodies.

A diverse feeling of styles is woven through the structural song components of “Separate Lives.” Against an industrial slap-sizzle percussive beat and shimmering guitar chord progression, female vocals declaring “your never far” come floating in with Stevie Nicks-like urgency. That opening 30 seconds is suddenly met by buzzing, distorted guitars that provide a fuzzy Rave-On backdrop for the lyrical story unfolding. Icy synths shear through the mix as “ separate lives” and “ different ties” point to “what lies between us,” (revealing the album title's source). Speaking about a devolving relationship that goes from “kinder eyes” to “lies . . . changing forms” and how “everyone sees it – when will you?

Straightforward measured rhythms are offset by half-time counter-melodies on “I Waited.” Vocals come in dramatic fashion, carefully delivering in deep-toned qualities a series of poetic lines seeking answers. “Forgive me for my unbelief” leads to “I can't rely on what I see” further on to “I may not understand nothing.” It all leads to a beat-less interlude of bright-distorted guitar strokes and the vocal declaration that “maybe this time, I'll break the constant” while acknowledging a certain level of “insanity shows through.”

A brief listen-in to the studio recording process (overheard words “you ready to start this?”) kicks off the trip-hop beat for “Kick Me (When I'm Down).” Gentle guitar and synth strings provide rich textured backing for lyrics “wouldn't it be nice if we all played fair.” Those increasingly sumptuous vocals are further enhanced by glistening keyboards, along with a phrasing style that takes everyday words and makes them more musical. For instance “Wouldn't” becomes “hoooodinit” and “absent intentions” becomes “ssssab sint 'tan-chuns” - creatively merging vocals with the swirling sounds around them. Clocking in a over six minutes, this is by far the longest track on this record. With it's twinkling icy shimmer running throughout, elements of The Cure's more epic “Disintegration” tracks come to mind. A nicely textured, lower-toned rhythm guitar enters the mix, adding welcome roughness to it's overall sparkling sheen. “Even with the best of intentions” the repeated musical line goes - “you still kick me when I'm down.”

A back porch, delta-blues, country-vibe permeates final track “Drop Me In.” With sparse toe-tap beat and single hollow-body sounding guitar providing backdrop, sweetly sung female vocals present lyrics stating confidence and hope. The addition of bright tambourine jingle and multi-layered harmonies add composition weight, leading up to a tender mid-point change stating “something's not right, I can feel it.” A gentle finger-picking solo ushers in one more subtle change that asserts “I know you're coming back to me.”

Pick up a copy of this EP in your preferred choice of formats HERE.

A full 12 song LP from this period's combined Sune Rose Wagner sessions will be out in 2020, with the promise of additional collaborations between the band and producer on new recordings following that.

For further background reading, check out this classic Raveonettes album review HERE.

*  *  *  *  *

Emerging out of the UK's growing glam-rock revival scene comes Birmingham's TREMENDOUS. Drawing their influence from the classic 70's era bands like T. Rex, Bowie's Spiders From Mars, Sweet and Slade, the band are now set to release their debut album “Relentless” early next year. Leading up to that has been a series of advance singles, with their latest “Copycat Killer” now available and streaming right here.

The first explosive notes of chugging, crunchy rising guitar chords finds the song-title chorus embedding itself in your ears. “I go outta my head, I go outta my mind” is the initial soulful plea. “Now she's in for the kill, and claws out for mine” lays out a clever feline metaphor. Melding hard-edged guitars with precise pop, the bridge is reached under:30 seconds in with “I bite down on my fear, she climbs my warning sign. Now the cat's out the bag, it's our lives on the line.” More clever cat-related wordplay continues throughout this raucous, good-timey rock song, with the lines “Headlines cry over this milk spiller. With nine lives she's a new shock thriller. Got me chasing my tail and my heart doing time. See this cat's got my tongue and shivers my spine.” A rising chord progression appears behind the chorus in the final :15 seconds that leads into a crisp chunky chord punctuated ending.

The track will be fully available on all the popular streaming services like iTunes and Spotify starting on November 22nd.

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

*  *  *  *  *

New York City's Pontus Gunve is an accomplished musician, producer, film score composer and large scale art project sound designer. Originally from Sweden, he has been releasing instrumental music as PHWG for over a decade now. With three full albums and a live EP under his belt, his latest work “Black Hole BBQ” has just been released and is now available to the public.

The ambitious and sprawling nearly 13 minute opening track “Shelagh's Quest” (with brief sci-fi story spelling out both the song's and overall album titles meaning in opening frame text) quickly morphs from outer space ambiance to precise guitar riffing and the eastern-style percussion of tablas that has become this artists signature sound. More traditional classical instruments like Cello enters the mix , providing a momentary interlude before PG's sinewy riff emerges once again. At two minutes in, a new melody arrives, adding a circular keyboard line syncopated against an additional guitar figure before drummer Tripp Dudley is showcased. With that an entire rhythmic shift occurs emphasizing muscular trap-kit percussion and heavy metal riffing. It's a glorious section of prog-rock at it's finest, with PG taking solo flight in emulation of role model Steve Vai.

Eric Allen's Cello is formally introduced allowing for that classical musician's momentary star turn. As the pace quickens, PG shows his dual level of guitar work, first the soling, then visual cuts to equally important rhythm guitar work. Splitting the screen into 4 panels, attention is focused on the precise interplay of drums, cello and the two levels of guitars. This incredible quality of prog-rock brings to mind the deep dive done on this site into the similarly accomplished TAUK (which can be found here).

After 5 minutes a softer instrumental interlude is attained with Katie Thode's flute surfacing for both video and audio recognition. Crunchy guitar chords and busy synth lines join the fray, with Modular Synth specialist Ian O'Brien now receiving spotlight attention. Thematic outer-space imagery is intertwined with live on stage footage, allowing for bassist Chris Kelly's ephemeral nod. A significant movement commences with approximately 4 minutes remaining, emphasizing seamless transitions in both audio and visual imagery. The final minutes combine all that has previously transpired here in rapid-fire fashion for a gloriously lavish conclusion.

Find out how to acquire this music HERE.

*  *  *  *  *

Saturday, September 14, 2019

PREMIERE: Alice Limoges “YellowStone” Video, Album Review: SickWalt "Shove n' Love"

Two distinct musical styles get the feature treatment here this time around, showcasing a wide spectrum that inhabits this genre we define as “rock music.” Alice Limoges is a musical storyteller combining pop, jazz, rhythm and blues with rock and a healthy dose of soul, while the hard rocking SickWalt pushes the boundaries of rock and punk, both creating their own unique hybrid sound.

Presented here on DaveCromwellWrites is the premiere of Alice Limoges brand new video for her latest single “Yellowstone.” Released today Saturday September 14, 2019, the song and video rolls out a gorgeous blend of dazzling sight and sound wrapped around a strong lyrical message of setting yourself free. Initially inspired by the bold adventure taken via a Himalayan mountain expedition in India last year, the enlightenment gained from that extreme and difficult undertaking served to inspire this song and video's creation.

Originally hailing from the Northeast coastal state of Maine, Alice now calls New York City home. While the city that never sleeps might be the place to further your musical career, there's something to be said for the wide open spaces and natural beauty of places outside busy urban centers. Disconnecting from electronic communication devices and focusing on our planet's undeveloped beauty is an important message in these high tech times.

-  -  -

Recorded at Right Angle Studios in NYC, the song (and videos initial imagery) focuses on Alice's piano chords and melody, immediately creating the sensation of an unfolding journey. The destination of Yellowstone Park is quickly shown, followed by quick cuts of car travel and then Alice herself singing the song in recording studio style. “Lets go out to Yellowstone - Drop it all and drive tonight and on through the morning” she sings as her accompanying musicians on drums, bass and guitar are shown in quick succession.

-  -  -

Those three instruments provide a solid underpinning combining a light-touch indie-rock backbeat to the softer feel jazzy guitar and piano chords. As for the vocals and lyrical content – while recent comparisons to Fiona Apple and Sarah McLachlan are certainly in the ballpark, Alice's hybrid sound of pop, jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and soul bring to mind the talents (and vocal tone stylings) of legendary New York “folk singer” Laura Nyro.

-  -  -

Like most quality songs residing in the pop realm, the track gets to it's dominant earworm hook in under a minute with the dramatic statement “If we leave right now - by what hour - Will they notice we went - That I didn't pay my rent - I've got these city blues - Got myself to lose - And I'll get lost soon” resolved by the lovely turn-around (and back into the verses groove) “If I stay.” The video enhances all of this further with the most stunning natural images that is the everyday majesty happening outside of city life in big sky country USA.

-  -  -

Check out this inspired song and breathtaking new video from Alice Limoges here:

Follow Alice on her Official Website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

*  *  *  *  *
New York City's SickWalt delivers a heavy, hard rock sound that fuses a similar energy and lyrical ethos found in the most influential punk bands. With WaltSick Walt” on vocals, and Matt Middleton on guitar, the band’s current lineup includes legendary drummer Eric Arce (who has played with notable punk bands The Misfits and Murphy’s Law) and bassist Rob Buckley (previously with the equally illustrious Cro-Mags). With two EP's under their belt, a full-length album “Shove n' Love” will be released on September 20th.

Opening track “Demand The Stage” comes out blazing from the very first note, with slashing power chords, locked-in bass guitar and drums, a riff straight out of the Angus Young playbook drives everything forward. “You're always whining on and on,” Walt sings - “yeah who you were and now you're gone.” Delivered in a vocal style that draws from dynamic front-men like Rollins, Danzig, Bon Scott and Brian Johnson, the lyrics burn at those unwilling to seize the day. “You're talkin' trash like you mean it – the saddest part is you dream it – when no one listens you scream it – and you don't know.” Key Hook Line : “You don't know – you're a know it all” - which is repeated right through the end-out.

Check out this killer track right here

An aggressive syncopated drum pattern and searing precision guitar riffs kick off the barely over two minute “Die Like Belushi.” With those riffs initially placed between the vocals lines guitars are soon run continuously throughout. This early Stooges vibe takes a sharp turn midway with a slowed-down tempo change enhances by thundering drum fills and momentary bass guitar emphasis. While that heavy progression stomps along, quick-stop space is provided for Walt to drop in lines like “meet me on the corner of 8th and Avenue D.” The opening maniacal progression returns full throttle with the ultimate, sobering statement “when I die like Belushi, excess is what I bleed.”
Song For Johnny” introduces a slightly western, cow-punk feel and lyrical content that brings to mind the work of a band like Social Distortion. It's still very much in the rock genre, while hinting at the twangy undercurrent often found in the now classic recordings of X and The Gun Club. An impressive chugging guitar and rolling drum mid-section eventually bursts into a searing guitar solo that would not sound out of place with any big time southern rock band. It ends on a triumphant note with the lyric “that train is mighty.”
Other cuts like “Million Dollar Man” chug and stomp like the best of AC/DC. There's that Bon Scott/Brian Johnson hybrid level again in the way Walt's vocals drop between crunching Angus Young style chords. Straight ahead 4-on-the-floor drumming on the verses gives way to slithering bass, leading into a sinewy guitar solo. “My strength come from the inside” Walt sings, indicating the necessary component for the confidence needed to “strut like a peacock.”

Tapping into the aggression that served The Sex Pistols so well on their “Never mind The Bollocks” debut album, “Punk Almighty” is unleashed with similar force.  “Rebellion is your nature. Attitude is the norm," Walt sings.  "Adolescent uprising. Spitting in the face of danger. . . . now a poster on my wall. Wasn't always clear. The truth hurts sometimes.  DIY is the mantra – violence is the guise. Anarchy the common theme, a wicked mind arise. So much more than the music, we keep a state of mind."   The Chorus delivers a triumphant statement:  “All hail the punk almighty, you gave us a place to stand. Turning children in to men. All hail the punk almighty, you took me to the promised land. All hail the punk almighty, you gave us everything you can.” A roll call of influential artists get name checked with Joe Strummer, Wayne Kramer and Iggy Pop earning special mention.

Ten songs in all, the full-length long-player comes out on September 20th.

SickWalt will play an album release show on the 20th at The VNYL- Vintage New York Lifestyle 100 Third Avenue New York, NY 10003.  Find out all the details about it HERE.

*  *  *  *  *