Friday, November 18, 2022

Captivating New Interview and Cutting-Edge Music Reviews

 An in-depth Interview and hotly anticipated EP Review kick-off this month's DaveCromwellWrites Features. Experiencing their debut New York City arrival fueled a lively and insightful interaction. No less important are two full-length, track-by-track reviews from trusted labels and artists. With one returning and another first-time creator receiving detailed analysis on their latest recordings, the quest to make sense of it all carries on without limit. 

When press releases about a new band called The Buckleys started showing up via email over the last two years, an appreciation for the music and image they were producing was instantly felt. The ear (and eye) catching track “Money” (the band's first worldwide release) was simply too good to ignore. Keeping an eye on their progress from that point on, the band is now back with a new EPTake It As It Comes.” Hailing from the southeastern coastal town of Byron Bay, Australia, the hardworking sibling trio of Sarah, Lachlan and Molly Buckley embody a wholesome quality combined with a touch of glamour and timeless cultural appeal. Raised in a musical family, they were all taught instruments and began singing together at an early age. An enlightening introductory video “Meet The Buckleys” sheds more details on that.

Combining elements of Pop, Nashville Country-Western and Indie Rock, initial press began calling their style “Hippie Country.” With that designation referencing a new look on what came before, their sound is the epitome of modern creativity. They took an immeasurable step forward after signing to Chris Murphy's Petrol Records label in 2019. The former INXS manager encouraged them to emphasize creative freedom above everything else. Having traveled and recorded multiple times now in the Country Music hub of Nashville, the band has been allowed to further spread their creative wings under the tutelage of Grammy-winning producer/engineer Chad Carlson. With the band recently coming to New York, Nashville and LA for press stops and personal appearances, I was honored to catch up with them for a face-to-face interview.

Meeting for in-person interviews are often on-the-fly events, with locations switching inside a 24 hour window. New York City's University Place was the designated neighborhood, with final destination at Tortaria Mexican Restaurant. We were able to secure their street-side private enclosure, allowing for a completely-to-ourselves, no distraction environment.

Running first into Reybee PR rep James Boss and Lachlan Buckley outside the enclosure, Lachie (as he is sometimes called) remarked on how he liked my t-shirt, which had a skeleton skull with tophat on it. He asked if that was “skeleton Slash” but I let him know it was simply a more seasonal image. However, the guitar-centric member of the band confirmed he was very much a fan of the GNR guitarists playing.  Moving inside the intimate space, both Sarah and Molly Buckley greeted us with warm smiles and overall friendly demeanor. The conversation was lively and casual, as we explored a variety of topics regarding the bands inception up through and including their current direction.

The band were featured at the end of October during the Byron Bay Film Festival where they premiered their new documentary, Take It As It Comes. Capturing their time recording current EP of the same name at East Iris Studios in Nashville, the docu is dedicated to their mentor, friend and guiding hand Chris Murphy (who sadly passed away in 2021). Some of the songs were also written in direct response to the devastating floods their home country has been facing. “Have you ever slowed down – stopped to take a beat – listened to the sound – of two hearts in harmony. Could we all take a step back – be thankful for what we have – lend a hand and stand together- through times of uncertainty” is how the opening lyrics go on the title track. The band explained how this sentiment refers to their hometown community coming together in a time of crisis.

Co-written by all 3 members along with rising Nashville star Jared Hampton of the band LANCO, Molly explained “we wrote this track at the very end, a day before we went in to record.” Noticing what sounds like a minor chord on the changeover word “uncertainty,” Lachlan confirms it and adds “it's actually a minor 7th.” Such is the subtle sophistication of their compositions. Asking who's voice is doing the “1, 2, 3 go” count-up bridge between gentle acoustic opening and the song's mostly upbeat remainder, Sarah states “that's Jared on there – we kept it from the original demo.”

More positivity is revealed with subsequent lyrics that go “I don't know where the winds blowing – I don't know where the road leads – maybe left is right and right is wrong – but maybe all we need – is to hold each other closer – is to love a little longer, and stop searching for a reason to divide and disagree.” That leads into the BIG Chorus “Take, Take Take A Look Around – the Clouds are gone, the Suns Come out. Gotta Take, Take,Take it as it comes – cause you might not get another one.” [With vocal steps rising ] “oh, oh, oh, oh – as far as I know – nobody knows – we make it up as we go.” [resolving the musical circle] “Gotta take it as it comes.”

Listen to this gorgeous song and view the accompanying video here:

Initial single and the EPs second track “Oops I Love You” is a bouncy pop-country gem that showcases all of the bands appealing qualities. Sarah's vocals deliver universally relatable lyrics with lines “Our love is overrated, promises break, I don't like complicated, the movies are fake yeah. Ain't it so lame how they all end the same damn way. Now I never believed.” Moving quickly to a vocal hook, Sarah and Molly harmonize “But You ooo ooo – taking me down – I don't know what to do – nowwwwww.” Leading into the most-catchy, earworm Chorus: ““Oops I love you, don't mean that I want to baby – Oops I kiss you, don't pretend you didn't want it – my mistakes are yours to take so please do .”

Second verse delves into the natural laws of attraction in this modern society, stating “So where the hell you from? And what were you thinking – walking in, messing up everything. If it's true, then why'd you do - I bet you do it on purpose. You think it's so cool. You're probably worth it.” The accompanying video features footage of them performing at East Iris Studios in Nashville, with Lachlan playing an angular, inverted guitar hook on the upper half of his double-neck guitar. The second pass through shows him playing the riff on the lower half. Asking him if the combined guitar is actually needed to cover different sounds, he confided “sure, the 12 and 6 string halves each serve their own purpose,” plus he added “it's also looks pretty cool.” A nod to Jimmy Page as visual influence in this regard was cheerfully acknowledged, though he cites Jimi Hendrix as his primary inspiration.

Watch and Listen to THIS wonderful track here:

Deeper tracks like “What Ya Gonna Do About It” opens with a forceful drumbeat, chugging bass-heavy low-end notes and higher register guitar accents (that have some kind of wiry effects on it). There's even an organ chord dropped in there for good measure. Sarah initially sings in a lower-pitched, intimate vocal reading, before changing over to a fuller, passionate voice. A rising step bridge to the chorus continues the feeling with lines ““Would you believe me if I told you that I loved you – would you try and stop me if I let you in – put your money where your mouth is – your mouth on my lips – yeah, I want your kiss.” On to it's captivating chorus: “So what'cha gonna do about it” [sung in harmony with background “oooh oooh oooh's”]. “It took you long enough so listen – I wondered when you figured it out.” Enhancing this chorus are three big descending progression guitar chords, prominently featured in the changeover to the next verse.

Fool Me” is a country-western ballad driven along acoustic guitars and rim-clack percussion. “I wonder where you are and I know I shouldn't – everyone's asking what we're doing. I don't know what to say – how about you?Sarah sings. “Everything moves it's own motion, watching you move has got me holding my breath – and you are too” she continues. The bridge rises with lines “This flame, it keeps burning – is burning – perfect (with the final word stretched out “perrrrrfeeeect”). Right into the smooth chorus: “Foooool me again – I want you to fool me again. Baby we are what we are – we both know what this is. I can't not let you in - So Foooool me, fool me again.” A song for those times when the fantasy and illusion of something more is good enough for now.

EP closer “Love Me Wrong” (which is currently topping the Australian Country Music charts) emphasizes an easy, breezy style, with high-end bended/reverberated guitar notes leading the way. “I've been waiting for the real thing,” Sarah emotes, “and it feels like this is it, yeah it could be” she continues. Clever twists on traditional themes, like the line “trying to fit a square into a round heart” create an endearing sentiment on loves possibilities. “You can't take it baby if you don't break it – I will give you all the space in my heart” becomes the singalong hook. With the ultimate request that you “DON'T love me wrong,” the songs title is a subtle deception. The charming addition of film clip audio adds one more appealing element to it all.

You can listen to Take It As It Comes on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, etc. here.

Other miscellaneous topics covered in the interview were things like current books being read. Molly confessed to presently reading Keith Richards outstanding memoir biography “Life.” That lead to lively chatter about it since I had devoured all 547 pages of it on it's initial release. Sarah mentioned to also being a fan of biographies, with “Julie Andrew, Blondie and Carole King” being the most recent coming to mind. Molly put forward that “Lachie is a surfer” as one might expect from growing up in the Bay community. “Yeah, I'm a surfer boy - a surf rat,” he chimed in. Sarah mentioned how they're “into fashion” which Molly quickly interjected “yes, we looooove fashion.” This was immediately apparent from one look at their very stylish, but not necessarily practical for walking around New York City shoes. The ladies acknowledged indulging in bit of a “Carrie Bradshaw, Sex In The City” appreciation in that regard.

It was a pleasure to interview this bright and talented band of budding superstars!

Keep up with The Buckleys on all the popular Social Media as well as Their Official Website.

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Back in May of this year, ambient dreamgaze collective Sueño con belugas were reviewed here on DCW for their introductory track “Normal” in anticipation of upcoming album “Memoria Cósmica.” With the release of that full eight song album, a chance to dig deeper into their sound is now available. While collaborative in both writing and recording, the prime motivator behind these “dreamers of whales” is Héctor Caolo Alvarez (known also as bassist and key member of Puerto Rican dreampop band Un.real).

The full album continues with that experimental concept first heard on “Normal,” which emphasizes collaboration between a number of like-minded musicians throughout Puerto Rico's independent music scene. Designing the recording to flow continuously like a single piece, each of the eight compositions come together for an uninterrupted listening experience. Opening track “52 Hz” floats along a gentle strumming of electric guitar, background drone and additional layers of brighter guitar notes. 

 A singular synthesizer textures takes over for it's conclusion, bridging into next cut “Agua Atómica.” At nearly seven minutes long, the albums lengthiest track evolves out of a mysterious shimmering undercurrent. A slow, chugging progression emerges after a minute in, with solid, easy-groove drumming and clarion bell guitars. Soft, sensuous female vocals commence, and the feel is like a deliberate journey desert terrains. The beat drops out momentarily, allowing the voices to elevate skyward. As the journey commences once more, full beat, background vocal layers and rough-edged guitar distortion all come together for a final push.

Caracol” rises slowly out of natural field recordings that lead into a spoken-word segment. Deep humming tones are blended with the sound of ocean waves and loops of unknown origin, paying homage to Brian Eno's more experimental ambient pieces. That leads into previously reviewed cut “Normal,” which features bold electric guitars, throbbing bass and cymbal-wash enhanced drumming. Heavy guitar and bass interplay provide strong rock and roll hooks between female voiced Spanish language vocals. Belugas can be heard swimming in the tracks final minute. “Fantasma” changes course with it's opening strains of gentle acoustic guitar. A whispery, near childlike voice begins to sing, as a rising pitch ambience builds from underneath. A dream-like lullaby feel permeates throughout, from start to finish.

Gris” comes on like a proper rock song, bass guitar driven with clearly defined guitar chord changes and precise drumming to match. A male-female vocal duet takes alternating verse lines, before coming together in richly textured vocal harmonies. A deep bass and drums instrumental midsection thunders along with higher-register guitar lines soaring over top. Those guitars are given an additional bass-and-drum-free segment, sounding like the kind of break The Smashing Pumpkins build into their songs. All the instruments return for the driving conclusion.

 “Detrás del Volcán” changes the tempo considerably, with an introspective, soft-vocal presentation. Open note guitar chords provide initial musical accompaniment, before gazey, quick-strum washes and a steady drum beat fill-in midway through. The final (title) track “Memoria Cósmica” extends out those “interludes, field recordings and cosmic experiences” promised in the liner notes. That eventually morphs into fuller guitar washes with ticking time-clock percussion. Low-end notes seems to double-down further on what Beluga whales might sound like, if we could listen in to them out in the deep oceans of our planet.

Listen in and learn how to acquire this magical journey here:

Previous Features on this artist can be found Here and Here.

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Bookending Big Stir Records first major album release of 2022 (reviewed here way back in January) is their final release of the year, “Sounds In English” by Sweden’s Richard Öhrn. Best known as the guitarist and one of the songwriters for the indie pop band In Deed, this release serves as his solo debut. Taking the “solo” designation to it's utmost extreme, Richard wrote, arranged, recorded, played all the instruments and sang all the vocals. Coming together over a period of nearly a decade (while also working on other projects) out of a home studio in the Swedish countryside, a penchant for retro sounds spanning the '60s through '90s can be heard throughout the 12 tracks. The album title refers to what you hear when listening to songs – the sound of the words, rather than it's literal intended meaning. It also points towards the English and American bands that influenced many of the songs.

Opening track “Seal Your Move” dives right into an early 1960's pop feel, with chiming 12-string electric guitars leading the way. Sampled mellotron flutes inject a folky chamber pop quality as the track progresses. The title refers to a chess tactic where one seals their next move in an envelope, to be opened when resuming a paused game. The poetic parallel is urging someone to delay their actions until they can think it over one more time. A beautiful Simon and Garfunkel vocal-harmony inspired “5th Month Announcement” follows, with gentle finger-picked acoustic and deeper electric guitar accompaniment. The “announcement” comes as the result of discovering a pregnancy half-way through term. Shuffling percussion, bass and additional guitar licks contribute to an overall flowing river feel.

An agile toms and snare drum fill introduces the speedy power-pop gem “Time's Not Running Out,” an homage to the American Merseybeat-influenced style of the '90's. Referencing the aftermath of a breakup, “It never ends the way it started, the past is for the broken hearted” provides clever lyrical insight. Some sweet, ripping guitar solos commence midway through, enhancing the sweeping, forward driving experience. Piano and organ figure prominently on the 1-2-3 waltz time signature of “The Coolest Manners.” There's fascinating bits of Beatles-y nuggets (circa “White Album”) woven inside it's structure, and a tasty rough and tumble guitar solo throughout the final minute. “Someone To Forgive You” accentuates that early 60's Merseybeat vibe, with 12-string acoustic and organ prominent in the mix. A wordy tale of regrets and dealing with the fallout from decisions made.

An inventive hand-clap loop and gentle piano melody sets “Love and Friendship” in motion. As the positive story of reconnection unfolds, a string section plays in the space where a guitar solo might ordinarily occupy.  While The Byrds “Bells of Rhymney” is evoked on the intro of “Take This Bottle,” it's their mentor Bob Dylan (and a touch of E. Costello too) serving as touchstone for the bulk of this track. The 12-string chime is apparent along with old-school acoustic piano. The chorus is perfect for a pub singalong, while vocal diction on lines like “now you're just a little bit too close” channels Dylan-esque phrasing. A circular snare-roll-to-around-the-toms drum pattern and distant reverberated clack sets up “Every Shade.” Minimal accompaniment under the vocals allows for lyrical focus on verses, and emphasis on the lush background harmony chorus. Measured slide-guitar forges an emotive element within the songs structure.

Alternating rising and descending piano chords serve as the rhythmic progression for “I Chose You.” Lyrically contending with end of a friendship (and not really knowing why), the songs title and associated words make clear who it was that initiated this relationship. There's a brass band backing to the New Orleans-meets-Country vibe of “Could Have Loved You More.” A particularly favorite line (and one that hits close to home) offers: “I don't dream – I only think while sleeping.” 

 Flamenco-style guitar and reverberated piano also factor into the overall experience. The piano driven “If I Could Read Your Mind” has an initial torch song feel, along with elements of Jeff Lynne/ELO emotive vocal/chord changes. Edgy guitars snake their way into the mix, adding an epic quality to the overall production. Final track “Spanish Moon” combines keyboard plucked strings with acoustic guitar and progressively ascending military-roll percussion. A fuller string sound ultimately emerges accompanied by the wistful fade-out line “someday you'll know.”

Previous Features on Big Stir Records Artists are found Here, Here and Here.

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