Tag Archives: Independent Music Promotion

Introducing…The Boy From The Crowd

In an East London gutter, something deep, primal and most definitely weird is stirring.

The Boy From The Crowd Cocktail: take a pinch of Delta blues, mix with some edgy surf rock, shake (don’t stir) with a hefty dose of punk attitude and some good old-fashioned rock n roll swagger. Infuse with tension, blend with menace and you’re starting to get a flavour of the rich and potent firewater served up by The Boy From The Crowd.

When singer/songwriter/guitarist Vinny Piana met drummer Vegas Ivy at the crossroads of rock, noise and badass, there was no way things weren’t going to get ugly. Here were two brothers from another mother, separated at birth it seemed, so closely were their musical inclinations aligned. Determined to be guided by their primal instincts and play music with guts, spirit and uncompromising integrity, the pair embarked on a fearless mission to discover tough new ways to rock the blues.

Vinny’s songs often reflect about choices we make and how they lead us to bliss or sheer disaster, how we so often make the disastrous choice despite every fibre of our being screaming at us not to. Born in the south of France, Vinny toured Europe and the UK as a guitarist with various bands and wrote soundtracks for independent movies including Sundance favourite LoveSexy before setting his sights on a new but long-cherished project. He had the ideas, he had the nerve – all he needed was a beat.

Vegas’ pounding voodoo drums proved to be the perfect base for Vinny’s twisted songs and dirty blues dream. The big man was ready for a new challenge and with Vinny’s mercurial, deeply unstable guitar carnage, he’s found it.

Between them the pair have forged a fractured new direction in alternative music that finds a weirdly winding path that leads from Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf through Captain Beefheart and Jon Spencer… all the way to The Boy From The Crowd.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, News

Introducing…The Age Of The Universe

For ages, men have been gazing at the night sky, wondering at the beauty and mystery of the universe. We don’t really consider it, being so busy living through our daily routines, but if you think about it, the entire concept of this existence is even wilder than the most imaginative science fiction work.

The Age Of The Universe set out to capture these fascinating thoughts and visions through their own blend of alternative rock.

The band’s debut studio effort, Singularity, is an unpredictable and uncompromising cocktail of punk, alternative rock and psychedelia: think members of Pink Floyd jamming with someone from Muse and Black Sabbath. They have recently revealed the lead single, Alive, which is accompanied by a video directed by Grzegorz Telenga and Krzysztof Wróbel.

This is in-your-face and inspirational rock music that lingers on the echoes from the 70s yet looks forward to a creative and personal future.

The Age Of The Universe’s album, Singularity, is available to buy now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, News

Direct Divide Release Their New Album, Bridges

Direct Divide have recently released their new album, Bridges.

Direct Divide

Direct Divide Bridges album artwork

Direct Divide is a band with diverse origins. Their music is a product of what they draw from their experiences and where they’re from, whether it be the lights and chaos of Las Vegas, the sombre Seattle winters, the Sao Paulo beaches, the San Francisco fog and now the burning hills of Los Angeles. For Direct Divide, melody reigns supreme with a combination of powerful female vocals, electric violin, classically influenced piano and progressive guitar with a dose of heavy rock drums and bass.

Their songs reflect the feelings of people striving to communicate in a vast world full of distractions and technology, merging Vivaldi and Hans Zimmer with steep walls of guitars and drums, revelling in soundscapes and layers of melody. Whether it is navigating the excitement and nervousness of instant infatuation in Meteors or the pain of long distance in Persephone, Direct Divide write music that audiences can fit their own experiences to.

Head songwriters Razz and Kevin have been composing and recording together for three years. Guitarist Kevin generates ideas at a prodigious rate and Razz puts the emotions of the music into words, melody and harmony. Valdemar adds energy and attitude with his drums. Their grunge rock specialist Gabe rounds out the modern production mix on bass.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, News

Gustavo De Beauville Releases Debut Solo Album, Volume I

Gustavo De Beauville is a self-taught artist, musician/guitarist and producer from Airdrie, Alberta. He has contributed to bands, games, film and now, his first venture into the solo world with his debut instrumental CD, Volume 1. This new album is a collection of instrumentals, ranging from epic and atmospheric post-rock to electronic and industrial sounds. You can listen to Volume I in full here.

About his unique musical style, De Beauville said: “I feel most alive when creating music. As a self-taught artist I appreciate the effort and dedication it takes to make technically sound recordings. Since I work best alone, necessity has driven me to embrace multiple instruments. It was through approaching these from my own perspective that forged my sound.”

As one half of the metal/rock duo The Unravelling, he won the 2010 Alberta Metal Award for Best Production as well as a nomination for Best Track for his work on the full-length CD, 13 Arcane Hymns. 13 Arcane Hymns received wide acclaim, receiving nods from Metalsucks, Metal-rules.com, Pure Grain Audio and Scene In The Dark. Gustavo wrote the music and produced the album (with mixing/mastering by Casey Lewis of Echo Base Studios) while Steve Moore contributed lyrics/vocals.

The new album Volume 1 is available at CD Baby and Bandcamp. Gustavo is currently planning a series of follow up solo releases as well as working on new material with The Unravelling.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, News

Monks Of Mellonwah – Turn The People Album Review

Australian indie quartet Monks Of Mellonwah are set to release their new album Turn The People on March 7 through Gatcombe Music Pty Ltd. Throughout 2013, Monks Of Mellonwah released songs from Turn The People in three volumes. The first volume, Ghost Stories, consisted of tracks Ghost Stories, Vanity and Sailing Stones. The second volume, Afraid To Die, features songs Afraid To Die, Alive For A Minute, Downfall and I Belong To You. The final volume is yet to be released.

Having been compared to the likes of Incubus, Muse and The Black Keys, Monks of Mellonwah are definitely a band to watch. While the vocals by Vikram Kaushik are very similar to that of Incubus’ Brandon Boyd, Monks of Mellonwah do have their own unique musical style that cannot be compared. And as ever, this unique sound is as present on Turn The People as on previous EP releases Neurogenesis and Sky and the Dark Night.

Turn The People starts with Ghost Stories Intro – a soft yet haunting track featuring tones that are gradually accompanied by a relaxing drum beat. It’s a brilliant introduction to this fabulous record. It breaks you in gently and leaves you hanging on for more.

From the first note on the guitar of Ghost Stories, you can instantly recognise the record as belonging to the Monks of Mellonwah. Kaushik’s vocals sound mature, they sound different from his vocals on Neurogenesis, for example. His vocals seem cleaner in a way. The chorus, “Turning and burning the apple falls so far from the tree/I cannot take it/It’s burning a flame inside of me” is incredibly catchy and will have you singing along in no time. Kaushik’s vocals are particularly good; they are dramatic and sexy, especially at end of chorus when he holds “me”. Ghost Stories has addictive guitar riffs, vocals and lyrics, “In the forest/Saw the lightning/Bolts and they were scared away/Its cataclysmic/This L.A violence/Holy roller/ Hurricane/I hardly knew/Tried to lose her/ This forest seems to know my name/No horizon in this forest/Only violence takes the stage.” The music builds to become more dramatic throughout the song too.

Vanity is more upbeat and more light-hearted. The track kicks starts with distorted yet sexy vocals once again, “Vanity/Vanity/You’re stretching my insanity/Insanity…”. Vanity feels like a mix between Fall Out Boy and Maroon 5 which is surprisingly brilliant. Vanity has elements of the sounds heard on Maroon 5′s, Songs About Jane. The guitar riff in the chorus screams Maroon 5 while the drum beat and guitar riff towards the end lends itself towards Fall Out Boy as do the vocals throughout. It has that refreshing feel which will instantly have you tapping your feet to the beat.

Tear You Hate Apart is a previously unheard track and sees electronic sounds seep into the record for first time. It sounds more artificially produced than the previous tracks. The drum beat creates this artificial sound. Kaushik’s high pitched vocals are spine-tingling, allowing him to show off his range. It’s a track with a narrative and is quite an emotionally exposing song, “I was lying there that night/When your daddy fell and died/Everybody wept and cried/You just kept your hands with mine/Nice to know I failed you again/I’m sinking, stumbling I don’t know the way/Nice to know you’ll all be OK/My only question/What remains of me?” The lyrics are brilliantly written uncovering a sad side to this energetic band. Tear You Hate Apart shows a deeper side to the writing of this band like their previously released, I Belong To You.

Monks of Mellonwah

Monks of Mellonwah

Pulse keeps with the electronic influences Monks Of Mellonwah have added to their music. There’s an underlying synth melody repeated throughout the song. Pulse has more of a pop feel to it due to this electronic sound. It is more uplifting in its melodic vocals but the lyrics remain less optimistic, “My soul will always be cold/When we run/We find some sun/I don’t feel what’s real/In all the same old things”. Even though some of the lyrics might not be particularly cheery, the chorus is uplifting in its vocal melody. You can almost picture listening to this track’s chorus on a beach in Australia.

Alive For A Minute has a really wonderful deep bass line that starts the track. The bass line draws the listener’s attention to it leaving the drums being heard playing faintly in the background. This bass line is accompanied by the electric synth sounds and strings which add drama. Alive For A Minute is a song you’ll want to hear again and again. Kaushik has the sort of voice that sends shivers down your spine – you can hear his emotion and strength in every line of lyrics sung. This is especially true in the first verse, “Chasing away in a place where the light is all gone/Run around it’s over now the final seed is a no…”

Escaping Alcatraz is another previously unheard song from Monks Of Mellonwah. It’s a dramatic rock number with fabulous guitar riffs at the beginning. It’s quite a heavy song in comparison to the previous songs on the album. Escaping Alcatraz encompasses all this band’s enthusiasm and energy into one song. Once again, those string accompaniments appear in the incredibly dramatic parts making this song an explosion of sounds.

Sailing Stones brings the record back to the familiar sound of the Monks of Mellonwah. Sailing Stones really allows Kaushik to show off his vocal talents as the music is sparse during parts of the song which gives his voice the space needed to show it off. There’s an awesome Indian inspired guitar solo accompanied by dramatic strings towards the end of the song – every listener should hang on just to hear it.

Turn The People is the last previously unheard song on the album. It’s a ballad which sees Kaushik’s vocals accompanied solely by a piano at the start of the track before the synths take over. This is another track that perhaps takes Monks Of Mellonwah away from rock and more towards pop and mainstream. It’s a track with a lot of influences in it making it hard to place into a genre. Either way, it’s an interesting track with beautifully honest lyrics about love.

Downfall continues to build on the Monks of Mellonwah’s rock style as the fast guitar riff plays unaccompanied at the beginning of the song. Kaushik’s vocals are as pleasant as ever on Downfall showing off his soft voice that is naturally good. There’s no straining heard in his vocals. Afraid To Die succeeds Downfall. It starts with low tones and heavy bass with a punchy guitar riff in the forefront.

I Belong To You is a stripped back number with only an acoustic guitar and some soft electronic melodies present making this track the most relaxed on the record. The lyrics, “I still dream of a day of when I’m closer/When I become all that I can be/In my surrender in no conception/I still lose/In my ascension/There’s still no mention of you” are lyrics that can be related to. These lyrics sung with a lack of instruments emphasise the emotion behind this track. It’s still the best track Monks Of Mellonwah have released.

Sky And The Dark Night is the last song on the record and features all the songs from the progressive and experimental Sky And The Dark Night EP that was released last April.

Turn The People sees Monks of Mellonwah succeed in their mission. They set out musically not to repeat past styles yet rather to pave the future for alternative rock. In doing so, they take the pre-eminent sounds of 70s psychedelic rock and 90s alternative and blend it into something fresh and new. Their music is an adventure – not a destination. And this is exactly what Turn The People is – an adventure.

Turn The People will be released on March 7 2014.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Reviews

Marla Mase – Half Life EP Review

The eccentric and always surprising writer/performer/producer/singer/songwriter from New York City, Marla Mase, is about to release her new EP, Half Life. Just one year after her last full-length release Speak Deluxe, Marla has now signed with True Groove Records and, along with her label mates, signed a worldwide major distribution deal with The Orchard. Her new EP Half Life is due out February 25 2014. At once confrontational and completely vulnerable, the EP’s name is best explained in a quote by Junot Diaz, “The half-life of love is forever”.

Marla Mase said of the EP: “I wanted to go back to the personal. They say you can find the universal in the personal.” Half Life is streaming in full now on bandcamp ahead of its release later this month.

Marla is known for her provocative, raw performance style and intelligent lyrics. Her music ranges from rock n’ roll to experimental spoken word, funk and punk rock. She is backed by the Tomás Doncker Band. The Huffington Post featured her in 2013, saying “…her feisty message of peace and perhaps wake up the beast in all of us.”

Speak Deluxe was a 16 track CD containing human rights and feminist perspectives on tracks like Piece of Peace, Lioness, Scream and AnnaRexia, a reggae track featuring Garrison Hawk from Bill Laswell’s Method of Defiance. AnnaRexia is spearheading the StayImperfect Project or Love Your Butt Campaign, which Marla created to empower women to love themselves and their bodies. Proceeds from AnnaRexia go towards theprojectheal.org, a non-profit founded by two teenage eating disorder survivors, that raises funds for girls whose families cannot afford to send them to treatment.

Mase also developed The Speak Show, a multi-media concert/performance piece using music (from Speak Deluxe), spoken word, dance and visual imagery to explore the themes of confinement, sexuality, body image, trauma, oppression (internal/external) and freedom as a means of celebrating the raw reality of our human condition as expressed through the eyes, bodies, voices of women. It was booked twice for NYC Summerstage 2013 alongside major acts such as The Zombies, Dead Prez and Django Django.

Marla has her MA in writing and performance from NYU and is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Most importantly Marla is the mother to two beautiful souls.

So with all this experience of life, it seems strange how she’s chosen to call her latest EP, Half Life. But this EP is more than half full.

Track one Drown In Blue from the first note sounds like a Patti Smith track. The guitar and drums accompanied by Mase’s vocals “I’m on the move” is automatically Smith-esque, especially in regards to the vocals. Mase uses her voice in this track very effectively. The lyrics “I’m on the move” are sung in such a way as to demonstrate the angst and uncertainty Mase is feeling. Something is gaining on her and her vocals reflect the emotions attached to being chased by something whether it’s regret, fear or thought. The lyrics continue, “Got to keep busy/Or I’ll lose my mind/Walk fast/Talk fast/Work fast/Think fast” demonstrating this need to be constantly moving, to create distance between that regret, fear or thought.

Title track Half Life steps away from the rock influences and introduces Mase’s soul and funk influences. It’s a gentle track which sees Mase’s vocals transform from angry to seductive, soft and sensual. Half Life features a saxophone solo half way through which helps to enhance the soul and funk feel of this song which in turn aids the sensual meaning behind the lyrics. The spoken word, “I’m a practical woman/And I get what I want/I’m a practical woman/Who believes in magic, who insists on it/Not just in the night time but all the time/And not just with you/In everything I do” captures the essence of this track – a song about intimacy and love. It’s surprisingly different from the rest of the songs on the EP showing a much more relaxed and gentle side to the otherwise known as crazy and, as she herself has said, schizophrenic Marla. It’s probably the most enjoyable track on Half Life.

The Heart Beats sees country and blues influences seep into the EP. The Heart Beats is pure poetry – Marla discusses the need for humans to feel connected to and loved by one another. The track sees her talk about the heart as a body organ pumping blood around the body as much as it sees her talking about the spiritual heart of opening up to one another, accepting and belonging: “There are six billion people in the world, two billion of them are children…Each beating a hundred thousand times a day/Electrical circuits/Coexisting/Cohabiting/Co-joining/And the beats/They merge/They mingle/They seek out other beats/Yes the beat is always looking for itself/To be in rhythm/To be in sync/To be one/It’s our global soul calling…It has been said that love always finds its object and never stops until it does so/It has also been said that love is an act of freedom/Emancipating not ourselves but the other/Yes the beat is always looking for itself.” Mase ends the track with this single line: “We’re all in this dance together” summing up the idea behind this beautiful piece of poetry. The Heart Beats gets you thinking about the wider world and how many people there are all with their hearts beating at the same time. All those people in the world all living and breathing together. It’s a track that shows how it’s our hearts that bond us together in relationships, passions and in everything we do.

Gaping Hole brings a  light-hearted blues feel to the EP. It has pleasant uplifting melodies after a heavily philosophical track like The Heart Beats. It’s a brilliant track with  70s influences being easily heard.

The Half Life EP sees a reprise of first track Drown In Blue. The reprise version of Drown In Blue sees Mase sing backed by some blues acoustic guitar. It’s calming and preferable to the original version.

Hold Fast Your Dreams ends the EP and is a gentle and inspiring song to end the EP on. Hold Fast Your Dreams is jazzy and almost like elevator music. Mase’s vocals are airy and refreshing as she sings, “Hold fast your dreams/Within your heart/And keep them safe/In your world apart/With wishes that/Have not come true/Let hope and magic work for you/Hold fast your dreams” before she goes into spoken word. Another piece of beautiful poetry, “You see with one eye/Life was exactly as it was explained to her/But with the other/She saw into, through, above their world…” Mase’s spoken word on Hold Fast Your Dreams is so similar to Patti Smith, it’s a real struggle to differentiate between the two.

Marla Mase has outdone herself with this EP release. Although Speak shone, the Half Life EP shines ten thousand times brighter. The Half Life EP will be released on February 25 2014.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Reviews

Gumshen – Progtronica Album Review

Gumshen is a musical anomaly, truly merging elements of prog rock with modern indie, rock and electronica. Gumshen’s musical exploration is fueled by the love of artistic freedom. Their new album is Progtronica and is due out on February 11.

Gumshen are Ron Hippe (vocals, keys, guitar), Jan Ciganik (guitar), Dennis McCoy (drums, vocals) and Rich Hinklin (bass). From the beginning, Gumshen has been a band that embraces a wide array of musical styles. Influenced by Pink Floyd, Phoenix and pop, their sound transforms intellectually from modern to classic to progressive rock, pop and electronic dance, rap and funk, analogue to digital; usually within the same CD.

Gumshen started as a traditional guitar based rock band in a garage in north Seattle in the mid-2000’s under the name Menthol James. Guitarist Jan Ciganik escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia in the 80’s, found success in the 90’s Seattle grunge scene playing with the acclaimed band Ventilator produced by John Cale. Eventually he met up with drummer Dennis McCoy and others to form Menthol James. After a few line-up changes they were joined on bass by actor/musician Ron Hippe (broadway theatrical credits, Northern Exposure, Caspar Babypants with Chris Ballew).

The trio recorded a hard rock eponymous EP in 2007. The next year they changed their name to Gumshen for no particular reason and recorded their next EP, a grungy affair called Stew, with bassist and sound engineer Rich Hinklin (formerly of Jack Endino’s Reciprocal Recordings and currently a Sound Design Faculty member at The Art Institute of Seattle). This addition to the band allowed Ron to switch over to guitars and keyboards and expand the sound of the band.

Once the line-up was settled, the band soldiered through seven calendars of steamy summers and icy winters to practice, record and produce smart, eclectic EP’s each year and play alongside such bands as Minus the Bear and The Icons on stages such as the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon, Hempfest and the Bite of Seattle.

Their latest album Progtronica sees Gumshen shed all their many layers once more. Beginning track, Bell Ringer sounds like an 80s pop-rock track. Bell Ringer is a bit cheesy making it not such a good introduction track. There’s too much synth and this leads it to feel empty as a track – it needs more real sound. It’s repetitive – it sounds dated but not in a good way.

Stipulation helps to pick things up. There’s less synth and more real music. The vocals are also better – they’re stronger making the song sound fuller. Stipulation is a little Hello Goodbye inspired in places. It has an indie rock sound to it. It’s more uplifting than Bell Ringer as it oozes energy and a danceable beat. The lyrics “So glad you made it…” also aid this uplifting feeling.

Fine One To Talk features an acoustic guitar which brings a brand new sound to the record. The beginning lyrics are good, “You’re a fine one to talk/’Cause words disappear when you’re given the chalk/I will meet your demands/When angels and devils stop tying my hands.” Fine One To Talk is much more interesting lyrically than the previous tracks. It introduces Gumshen’s folk and acoustic rock influences. It’s a track that sounds completely different from the previous tracks demonstrating their better sound. Even if the other tracks seem disengaging, Fine One To Talk will get stuck in your head and allow you to come to terms with this band’s wide variety of sounds.

Liquid places this band straight back into the electronica genre. It’s a good song for sophisticated bars as it has that relaxing quality about it. It’s another song that proves the diversity of this band in making music. Up until this point on Progtronica none of the tracks have sounded the same. There’s strong lounge influences heard in Liquid making it an enjoyable track, especially when it comes to the instrumental parts.

Bait & Switch is very Dubstep inspired with Gumshen’s electronica influences being very apparent. It’s a rock/Dubstep track with little bits of Hadouken creeping in. The vocals and lyrics let this song down completely – they’re repetitive and a little boring. The dramatic music would be sufficient without the lyrics.

Progtronica shows off what Gumshen are all about. They don’t fit into one genre – their sounds are too diverse. Diversity can be a wonderful thing but Gumshen are hard to understand. Each song you listen to sounds like a completely different band – you can’t become familiar with this prog rock band in any way. They aren’t defined by any one thing. The songs are good not great but none of them can be easily linked to one band. In some ways this is amazing – this band is trying to completely break down the lines of restriction defining genres – but in other ways, this could be detrimental. People like familiarity, it makes them feel safe, and Gumshen lack this one quality. This isn’t to say that their rebelliousness to fit in isn’t appreciated and respected but Progtronica could do with being just a little bit more coherent.

Progtronica is due for release on February 11.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Music, Reviews