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Band/Artist Profile Concert Review

Quarters of Change at Cat’s Cradle — 01/22/23

Quarters of Change is an alternative-rock indie band from New York City. As a quartet from the lower east side, they are helping to bring forward a new wave of NYC alt-rock. The band, formed in 2017, is composed of Ben Acker, Attila Anrather, Jasper Harris and Ben Roter. 

What started as a group of high school guys playing music together has turned into a touring band with an exponentially growing fan base. The band’s debut album, Into the Rift, was released July 2022. The 11-track compilation exemplifies their versatile alternative sound. Four months later, they released the deluxe version with three additional tracks, one of them being a personal favorite, “Blue Copper.” 

With songs like “Jaded,” “Ms. Dramatic,” “Sex” and “Die in Your Arms,” they showcase this versatility in sound. They switch between electrifying guitar riffs, catchy refrains, groovy drum beats, upbeat tempos, and slow melodies. 

The band has had some newfound success in the past years with contributions from legendary producers Tom Lord-Alge and Mikey Freedom Hart. They have also had some songs, “Kiwi” and “T Love,” featured on indie and alternative rock Spotify playlists which have helped to expand their listeners. 

Quarters of Change North American tour poster
Quarters of Change North American tour poster

The first time I saw QOC was when they opened for Laundry Day in April 2022 at Irving Plaza in New York City. The show was almost sold out and the crowd was lively. I had no idea who they were at the time and was just there for the ride. I was impressed by their stage presence and vocals, but what made me an instant fan was the mesmerizing guitar riff in the crowd favorite, Kiwi. 

Now, Quarters of Change is currently on a North American headlining tour. Luckily, I was able to secure tickets for the Cat’s Cradle date before the sell-out. 

I had bought three tickets to go with friends earlier on in Jan., while coincidentally in Manhattan on a trip. 

On the day of the show at Cat’s Cradle’s back room, my friends and I settled in for the concert right next to the stage. Being familiar with Cat’s Cradle already, I was excited about the intimacy of the performance. 

The opening support, Savoia, an alternative indie rock band also from New York got the crowd going with their eccentric performance from the lead singer and their danceable songs. I enjoyed Savoia’s set and found myself doing some head-banging, although I felt some tracks were repetitive in structure. 

Yet they still successfully got the crowd warmed up for the main show. The crowd was mainly college-aged individuals and a semi-alternative scene.

QOC came out on stage to open with “Chloe”, a catchy song with a broken-hearted tone. Many of the songs the band performed were from their new album, Into the Rift.

While “Ms. Dramatic” and “Dead” seemed to be the two crowd favorites of the night, the audience was singing along and dancing to every song. It would be fair to say that the majority of the crowd was established supporters of the group already. 

The group also played iconic hits “T Love,” “Rift,” “Blue Copper,” “Sofia,” “Kiwi” and “Depression”.  

The lead vocalist, Roter, brought high energy and amazing vocals into the performance, while Acker and Harris played clean guitar and had great flow and Anrather carried with his beats. 

Despite being cut short on time by the venue, the group managed to play two more songs for the fans which was notable. The crowd definitely appreciated the gesture.

The band members were very kind and took the time to talk to fans as well as Leksie Fetrow and myself, the WKNC reps, after the show. We sat outside and chatted for a good 30 minutes with members of both Savoia and QOC. All of them were super sweet and carried a great presence off the stage as well. 

Overall, my friends and I had a lovely time. We sang, danced and thoroughly enjoyed the concert. I would definitely love to see Quarters of Change and Savoia again sometime soon.

Thanks for reading, 

Maddie H.

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Band/Artist Profile

Rock Over Wesley Willis, Rock On Chicago

I write songs because I like to write songs. It’s my life. I had to do what I had to do.

Wesley Willis, in an interview with Nardwaur the Human Serviette

Wesley Willis was a Chicago native diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1989. Despite this diagnosis (in fact often empowered by it), Willis devoted his life to his music and his drawings, some of which became his album covers. Over the course of his career, he performed as the lead of his punk rock band, The Wesley Willis Fiasco, many solo acts, and even collaborations with more well-known artists such as Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, who signed him to his label “Alternative Tentacles”.

Marker drawing of Chicago featuring multiple skyscrapers and a government building.
Drawing of Chicago by Wesley Willis, Photo courtesy of Daniel X. O’Neil, under Creative Commons

Songs for the Strange

Much of his music, especially his solo work, has a very distinctive song structure and sound. His Technics KN keyboard tended to be the only instrument used during his performances, where he used various presets altered in some way for each song. One preset in particular, featured on “Rock N Roll McDonalds,” was used for over 40% of songs on his 3 “Greatest Hits” albums.

There are also several recurring themes in Willis’s lyrics based on his own experiences with schizophrenia, both imagined and physical. Several songs call out fast food companies for selling fattening food. Others recount his outbursts on the Chicago bus lines or in church. Still others are entirely devoted to praising artists and people he loves (platonically and romantically). A concerning number of his songs tell of people being arrested for murder and other felonies.

I believe that all of Willis’s songs reflect some fear of his. He may worry about his own weight. He may worry about being sent to jail because of his outbursts. He may fear losing the love of people he adores. Additionally, many of his songs are highly explicit and violent, likely stemming from his paranoia such as “I Wupped Batman’s Ass” or “Suck a Caribou’s Ass”.

Nearly every song ends with the phrase, “Rock over London / Rock on Chicago,” and the slogan of companies such as Folgers, Wheaties, and Mitsubishi.

A Man Beloved

Wesley Willis was well known in Chicago during the 1990s among his fans for his honest, heartfelt songwriting, even if the music can be repetitive. He famously greeted and left people with a headbutt, leaving a permanent bruise on his forehead.

Star representing the musician Wesley Willis on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue.
Star of Wesley Willis on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue. Photo courtesy of Christopher Bahn, under Creative Commons

In fact, his entire body was distinctive to people who saw him. Not only was he 6’6″, towering over most people, but he had multiple scars over his face from an attack by a stranger and that bruise on his forehead. This attack was only one of many traumas he experienced during his lifetime, the most notable of which is probably his aunt robbing him of $600 with a gun to his head.

Regardless, he was compassionate to his fans and the people he sings about. His music was incredibly original if nothing else, and most people who went to his shows seemed to be enjoying his music for what it was, not as “so bad it’s good” music.

If you want to explore Wesley Willis’s music, I suggest listening to his “Greatest Hits Volume 1” album and watching his interview with Nardwaur below.

Video interview between Wesley Willis and Nardwaur the Human Serviette on YouTube.
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Band/Artist Profile New Album Review

The Ups and Downs of Turnover

Turnover, once emo, once indie rock, now synth pop has been through many dramatic changes.

Their newest album, “Myself in the Way” has certainly been the biggest change yet. For better or for worse, Turnover has stepped entirely away from their humble emo-rock roots and is evolving into a highly synthentizer oriented band.

Past Work and Criticism

To give some history, this is not the first time Turnover has had a genre shift. Their 2019 album, “Altogether” was quite controversial due to their sudden departure from indie rock.

“Altogether” is provided many new sounds and tones from Turnover that throughly diversified and matured their overall discography. Although it was a shift, it still referenced their previous work.

However, “Altogether” was poorly received in comparison to their previous albums, “Peripheral Vision” and “Good Nature”.

In Pitchfork’s review of “Altogether” they claimed, “Turnover shot themselves in the foot at the get-go. They hoped for an album that was simple, but the banality that manifested instead was a pretty inevitable side effect.”

I as much as I enjoyed the sounds that emerged in “Altogether”, I was surprised to see them step even further away from their more popular genres.

“Peripheral Vision” was an undeniably solid indie rock album. They finally came into their voice in this album, it is hard to imagine them stepping away from it. In stead of doubling down and producing another solid rock album, they decided to explore. I don’t blame them for that.

“Altogether” was a successful exploration. “Myself in the Way” took that exploration a step too far– the result creating an unfamiliar band that is hard to connect to.

“Myself in the Way”

I have been a fan of all of Turnover’s work up until this newest album.

They have stripped themselves of all the authenticity and skill seen in “Peripheral Vision” and “Altogether” and replaced it with a hollow mess of synthesizers and autotune.

The album has been described as a blend of dream pop, disco, funk, and synth pop. Simply no reference to their perilous genres they have spent their entire careers developing.

I appreciate and admire artists that defy expectations and try something new, but Turnover is not building upon their strengths. They have ignored their best moments and amplified their worst.

For example, Turnover’s lyrics have always been on the borderline of genuine or hollow– and unfortunately the lyricism in this album is quite a disappointment. Track, “Fantasy” is the prime example of this,

“What’s your fantasy
I’d really like to know
What you’re thinking about
When your smile starts to show”

To highlight a positive, track “Wait Too Long” was a favorite on the album. Although it had very distracting, conflicting backing tracks, it was nice to hear a nice bass line and some reference to the sounds in “Altogether”.

One of the failures of Turnover in their previous work and in this release, was inserting unnecessary instruments into their songs. In track, “People That We Know” there is a rambunctious, bold trumpet line.

In the right song with deliberate placement– brass lines can take a good song to a great song. Although, in this scenario it is too timid to be the highlight yet too frequent that it takes away from the song.

To summarize, this album was disappointing and distracting.

This album truly made me doubt the overall skill of this band. Was he success of the past few albums just a fluke? Have they abandoned their roots entirely? I sincerely hope not.

Final Thoughts

I am quite interested to see how this album will be received by the general public.

Turnover has been one of my favorite bands for quite some time, but has lost some of that love in this release. I sincerely hope they return to some of the sounds in their past.

However, bands change and music change. If this is the new avenue for Turnover and this is the genre that brings them passion– so be it.

If you would like to hear more of Turnover and see them perform, they will be touring at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro Dec. 15.

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Band/Artist Profile Classic Album Review

“Black Shark” by Hammer No More The Fingers

I was first introduced to Hammer No More The Fingers during my discussion with Jeremy Leonard, NC State architecture professor and former WKNC DJ.

Emerging in the mid 2000’s, this band is pure indie rock power.

As I learned within my discussion with Jeremy, there was limited means or finding new and underground artists just a decade ago. WKNC was a leading platform for finding under exposed artists and local bands such as this one.

One of the initial break-throughs for this band was at WKNC’s very own Double Barrel Benefit.

Not only is this band musically extraordinary, but it local to the triangle area– emerging from Durham, NC.

Members, Duncan Webster, Joe Hall and Jeff Stickley formed the band after their graduation from UNC Chapel Hill and East Carolina University in 2007.

They thrived in the local Durham scene. Later touring across North Carolina and the US.

Upon listening to their discography, I was surprised we are not talking about them more at WKNC and beyond.

To highlight some of their success, I will be doing a dive into their 2011 album, “Black Shark”.

Ambitious, robust and high energy, this album will not disappoint.

“Black Shark” Review

“Black Shark” by Hammer No More The Fingers cover art

This band is a great example of the power and versatility of a guitar, some drums and a voice.

This three piece band is able to create such rich and fulfilling tracks through timeless elements and skill.

Right out of the gate, “Atlas of an Eye” displays their indisputable harmony and skill together. There is a clear distinction between bands that have been performing together for years and those that collided recently.

This trio has been performing together since 1994– giving this album confidence and harmony that can only be achieve through consistent collaboration and time.

One aspect I adore about this band is the vocal harmonies they achieve. Especially in opening track, “Atlas of an Eye” they achieve some beautiful vocal layering and echos. This layering is reflected in overlapping waves of strings and percussion.

Simply a great opening track. It builds so much momentum for the album to come.

Track number 3, “Shark” was the true hook for me in this album. The chorus is so strong. This track alone captures the energy and style of Hammer No More The Fingers– simple elements, unhinged skill.

I love that this band does not over complicate their lyrics. This is true for every song, but I particularly love the lyrics in “Shark”.

Further into the album, “It’s About Caring” has some of my favorite guitar lines. This track has very melancholy vocal work, giving the album an angsty, emo rock undertone. This weighty angst is contrasted beautifully with heavy guitar.

The strings are the star in this track.

Continuing the outstanding guitar work, prior track “Steam” is high energy and well balanced. All three band members shine here. This track feels like the true climax of the album– although every track competes for this title.

“Steam” has some the best moments of collaboration in the album.

This collaboration results in the highest energy in the album. The ending section combines all the strengths of the band– vocal harmonies, strong guitar and solid drums.

Simple elements executed with excellence.

Final track, “Fingernails”, is perhaps the most perfect ending for such a well crafted album. It provides low and high energy moments to lift the listener out of the album while reflecting on the best moments.

There are many tracks on this album that I did not mention, but they are truly all fantastic.

Concluding Thoughts

Many leading indie rock artists tend to over complicate music. In our modern world, there are so many resources and endless elements that can both enhance and diminish music.

Bands like Hammer No More The Fingers give a refreshing reminder that great music can be achieved without any excessive elements or fancy tools.

The true excellence in music comes from the passion to create and collaboration.

If you would like to listen to more of Hammer No More the Fingers, they have two other fantastic albums, “Looking for Bruce” and self titled, “Hammer No More the Fingers”.

There are simply and unbelievable about of talent within the triangle area, look forward to more local band reviews in the near future.

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Band/Artist Profile

Four Fantastic Woman Led Bands

This goes without saying, but there are an unfathomable amount of talent within the music industry.

These four bands in particular have brought me a newfound appreciation for the skill, creativity and diversity of women voices in the indie rock world.

Although this is just scratching the surface, these selections have been frequenting my queue time and time again. Ranging from punk, pop, emo and psychedelic, these bands exemplify some of the upcoming voices in the indie world. I hope you enjoy.

Warehouse

Colorful blocky patter on navy background
“super low” album cover art by Warehouse

Warehouse is an Atlanta based indie rock and punk band.

What sets this band apart of all others is the richness and power of Elaine Edenfield lead vocals. Stripped and rugged, her androgynist voice taps into grudge influences while holding an identity entirely of its own.

Warehouse notes Pylon, another phenomenal female led punk band from Georgia, as being one of their most prominent influences. Warehouse embodies the experimental essence of Pylon in a renewed timeliness.

With talented strings to match, this band hits hard. Below are some of my favorite tracks by Warehouse:

Super Low“, “Oscillator” and “Succession.”

Lime Garden

Blurry dark figure walking in red light
“Bitter” cover art by Lime Garden

This pop rock quartet from Brighton is energetic, explorative and simply spectacular. Lime Garden is made of drummer Annabel Whittle, guitarist Leila Deeley, guitarist Chloe Howard and bassist Tippi Morgan.

These four ladies each bring a different musical background to the table, together forming a sound greater than its individual parts. This variety of musical background brought a lot of challenges for the band, but ultimately resulted in a richer, layered sound in their releases.

This band utilizes synthesizers beautifully, highlighting only the best parts of their sound without drowning out the pure instruments. Below are some of my favorites:

Bitter” and “Sick & Tired.”

Sweet Pill

Image is a painting of a person's face, painted red, gripped by two hands, painted light blue.
Sweet Pill, “Where the Heart Is” album art

Sweet Pill is an alternative emo band from Philadelphia. Lead singer, Zayna Youssef has quickly become one of my favorite voices after their newest release, “Where the Heart Is” earlier this year.

Dynamic and powerful, Zayna provides a refreshing voice to the musical world. Listening to this band is simply stress relieving.

Lyrically they are aggressive and confident. Lyrics that are carried beautifully through Zayna’s vocals. She has so much emotion and strength within her voice– the classic angst of emo bands is replaced with unapologetically bold passion through her performance.

With strong bass and drums to match, Sweet Pill provides a striking performance for our listening pleasure:

Blood,” “Where the Heart Is” and “Cut.”

Goat Girl

Colorful landscape with lots of little creatures and monsters
“On All Fours” album cover art by Goat Girl

This quartet from London provides a mix of psychedelic, pop and rock elements in their genre bending discography.

Members, Lottie Cream, L.E.D, Holly Hole and Rosy Bones, combine their passion for music and social activism to produce songs that highlight society flaws and shortcomings. In their 2021 album, “On All Fours”, is an exploration into some of these societial themes.

Goat Girl creates music that is both deeply meaningful and contagiously energetic.

In their earlier releases they have a more angsty and heavy lyricism and musical style that is matured in there newest album. This dichotomy is really refreshing in their overall discography. Here are some of my picks:

Creep,” “Mighty Despair” and “Pest.”

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Band/Artist Profile

Obscure Artists: Douglas Für

Douglas Für, based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presents one of the most compellingly raw and unhinged folk-punk sounds in the genre.

A former member of anarchist folk punk band Ramshackle Glory, Für is no stranger to neurotic rhythms and irreverent lyrics. With a solo career spanning between July of 2015 and August of 2016, Für plumbs the depths of his psyche to produce a curio collection of sounds across three solo albums.

Discography

Für’s three albums, the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow, Curses and Spells of Protection and Death Has 1000 Ears illustrate a strange sort of continuity in his independent work.

The jagged, lilting melodies of his first album carry into the energy of his second, where the only marked difference in sound is the album’s elevated production quality.

However, where the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow functions well as a standalone project, Für’s last two albums are directly connected.

Both share the songs “Curses” and “Sugar on Your Teeth,” though with distinctly different sounds. Curses and Spells of Protection presents a slower, almost sluggish narrative. 

In “Curses,” Für’s rust-tinged vocals seem to snag upon the edges of the accompaniment, an assortment of string instruments whose melodies seem to churn as the song progresses.

Conversely, “Sugar on Your Teeth” is frantic, maddened and markedly discordant. 

While the lyrics to “Curses” and “Sugar on Your Teeth” are the same in Death Has 1000 Ears, the delivery is completely different.

With a cleaner, clearer production quality, the album lacks the rugged edge of its predecessors. The tone is strongly jovial throughout with tinges of theatricism, a strong incovation of classic barroom ballads.

“Curses” is virtually unrecognizable between the two albums, with Death Has 1000 Ears presenting the song with a faster tempo and more lyrical delivery.

The same can be said of “Sugar on Your Teeth,” which presents a far tamer iteration of its original source material. 

Cover for the album the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow

Bad on Purpose

All the same, the entirety of Für’s work embodies a uniquely savage sound.

And by all technicalities, the music is bad. The vocals are coarse, the instruments often sharp or wailing. With the exception of Death Has 1000 Ears, the production quality is starkly lo-fi.

But therein lies what makes Für’s music so compelling. The self-made feel of Für’s work perfectly captures the core of the folk punk movement. His experimentation with the energy of classic folk sounds and the roughness of punk gives way to a strange, beautiful offspring.

His chaotic, discordant sounds express the basest of human sensations: rage, grief, passion and despair. He captures ultimate catharsis in what can only be accurately labeled as purposeful cacophony.

Douglas Für’s music is but a means of expression channeled through folk punk, a movement solidified in unyielding self-expression and imbued with a long history of tumult and resilience.

For fans of AJJ, or those who simply enjoy “bad” music, I cannot recommend Douglas Für enough. 

Recommended Songs: 

  • “Dead Twin,” “Sugar on Your Teeth” and “Shallow Cut” from Death Has 1000 Ears 
  • “the phantom wants to know” and “the phantom speaks” from Curses and Spells of Protection (ultimate favorites)
  • “cold steel” and “o’ nothing” from  the dried up rivers will be the mass graves of tomorrow
Categories
Band/Artist Profile

Profile of the Week: Alvvays

Toronto-based band Alvvays is keeping jangle pop alive. They create an extremely reverb-drenched, versatile sound that provides variety on every track but is still instantly recognizable as Alvvays.

Led by Molly Rankin on vocals and guitar, Alvvays consists of five members: Kerri MacLellan on keyboards, Alec O’Hanley on guitars, Abbey Blackwell on bass and Sheridan Riley on drums.

Alvvays emphasizes creating strong melodies rather than focusing on a specific genre. This allows for a lot of variety in each track but for their discography to be glued together by Rankin’s vocals and the bands instrumentals.

The immediately bittersweet sound created by the band is the glue that holds their discography together. As soon as Rankin begins singing on any given track, no matter how varied the sound, it becomes instantly recognizable as Alvvays.

Discography

Alvvays formed in 2011 after Rankin released her solo EP “She EP”. Their first full project was their self-titled debut album in 2014 followed by “Antisocialites” in 2017. Five years later, they are releasing their third album, “Blue Rev“, on October 7.

If you are in the mood for some bittersweet tunes on a rainy day, Alvvays has you covered. “Antisocialites” is a great place to start if you’re in the mood for an entire album.

“Antisocialites” is Alvvays’ sound honed like a sharpened sword. It’s jangly, guitar-driven and supported by sharp keyboard and drum patterns.

Alvvays, “Archie, Marry Me” music video

“Archie, Marry Me”, “Your Type”, or “Easy On Your Own?” are excellent starting places if you don’t have the energy for a full album. These tracks will instantly hook you on the bands sound and highlight each of their projects.

Their self-titled debut is not easily recognized as a debut album. “Alvvays” set the benchmark for Alvvays’ crisp sound that they have continued to live up to for almost ten years.

Their new singles for “Blue Rev” are promising a continued expansion of the sounds Alvvays encompasses. The tracks have that crisp, guitar-driven jangliness that can expected by Alvvays but bring in a pronounced Shoegaze element.

Conclusion

Each Alvvays song provides something unique to the band’s discography. This is a truly versatile band that can’t help but make a catchy song for a rainy day.

After a long five years, they are finally releasing their third album. Based on the singles, it is seemingly going to live up to the hype that has been culminated over time.

Alvvays starts touring in the United States on October 14 and “Blue Rev” releases October 7.

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Band/Artist Profile

Profile of the Week: Pinegrove

Something about Pinegrove stands out to me in a way that no other band does. For this reason, Pinegrove has become my most listened-to band in the past year.

Lead singer Evan Stephens Hall wants his listeners to think critically while they listen. Within the catchy, heartfelt songs and records are an entanglement of depth and meaning. As an avid climate activist, Hall uses his platform as a way to spread awareness about climate change and what we can do to stop it.

Drummer Zack Levine, guitarist Sam Skinner, guitarist Josh Marre, keyboardist Nandi Rose Plunkett, and bassist Megan Benavente make up the rest of the six-person ensemble. Each other these members help to create the flair that makes Pinegrove as special as it is.

Discography Highlights

If you’ve never listened to a Pinegrove record and want somewhere to start, “Cardinal” is what you’re looking for. In this record, I think they best exemplify their sound in its purest form. This album has Pinegrove’s most popular song and many of my favorites. It hits indie rock highs but is clearly rooted in Americana.

Pinegrove, "Cardinal" album cover
Pinegrove, “Cardinal” album cover

Starting with “Old Friends” and ending with “New Friends”, the message is clear: at its heart, “Cardinal” is about friendships, relationships and the movement through them. Evan’s down-to-earth and reflective lyrics are best put on display on this record.

“My steps keep splitting my grief / Through these solipsistic moods / I should call my parents when I think of them / I shoud tell my friends when I love them”

Pinegrove, “Old Friend” lyric

Released after “Cardinal”, “Skylight” is a great progression from that album. This record is less structured than their previous album but it shines because of it. The structure and instrumental progression become more free-form, allowing more room for the reflection that Pinegrove is famous for.

Pinegrove, "11:11" album art
Pinegrove, “11:11” album art

Their latest release, “11:11” is also excellent and provides a new flair that Pinegrove was in need of after “Marigold”. This album leans more into a country sound than anything else on their discography, clearly inspired by artists like the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Still full of the internal reflection they are famous for, Pinegrove also looks outward in “11:11”. This is their most politically charged album by far and focuses on many of the problems that our world faces.

“They’re trying to ignore it / We always knew they’d try / Today the sky is orange / And you and I know why”

Pinegrove, “Orange” lyric

Pinegrove Live

I have seen Pinegrove in concert twice. The first time I saw Pinegrove was back in October of 2021 at the Haw River Ballroom in Graham, NC.

This show was what got me hooked on Pinegrove. Evan Hall’s charisma and clear passion for the music he makes really did it for me. The entire band is so in-sync while playing and the highs and lows of every song hits extra hard live.

They had just released “Orange” for their new album and Hall, wearing a DSA shirt, took a moment to talk about the ongoing climate crisis and inform the audience of ways they could go about inciting change.

He took a similar break in his show a few months later in February at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC, an understandably more packed venue. This show was soon after the release of “11:11” and they played through the entire album.

Hearing each song live provided more depth and gave me more appreciation for each one. If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend going to see them live.

Conclusion

Pinegrove always shines a light where there could be darkness. Their songs touch on many things that in different contexts could seem hopeless but instead of basking in dread, they push forward.

Pinegrove has had a lot of personal significance to me in the past year. The hopefulness they inspire definitely helped me through some harder times. They are the first band that I ever saw in concert more than once for that reason.

Thematically and sonically, Pinegrove continues to grow and evolve. I can’t wait to hear whatever they do next.

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Band/Artist Profile Concert Review

Black Country, New Road at Hopscotch

I was sent by WKNC to cover the Hopscotch music festival. One of the main reasons I was excited to go was to see Black Country, New Road. But before we talk about the concert lets get into some background.

Black Country, New Road is a band from England and has gained a lot of popularity in the past couple of years. They dropped their debut album “For the First Time” in 2021 with critical acclaim and showed people they should be a band to look out for. Then in February of this year they dropped their second album “Ants From Up There” which created a large buzz due to the large amount of critical acclaim the album had.

But just as they had reached the highest point they had been at and it seemed they were at the top of the experimental rock world the band announced that their lead singer Isaac Wood was leaving the group due to mental health reasons. The band however decided to continue without their lead singer and instead have other members substitute for vocals.

Now this leads us to now, the band has decided to go on tour and for the tour they have decided to create all new music without their lead singer as the vocalist. So none of the songs are on the albums and no one has heard them yet. This is the main reason I wanted to go was to hear this new music. And let me tell you it was incredible.

It’s hard to describe the songs especially since I can’t hear them again and that you have probably never heard them but I’ll try my best. The songs feel the same as their first two albums and they still have that distinct sound. They’re still using the large array of instruments like saxophone, violin, piano, accordion, flute and more. They also had three different people on main vocals for different songs which was their saxophonist Lewis Evans, bassist Tyler Hyde, and keyboardist May Kershaw.

Some specific moments I enjoyed was the third song in the set had this super catchy saxophone riff that I could listen to all day. The song right after had the group using harmonies and all singing some parts at once which sounded incredible. One of the songs sounded like a whimsical stroll through a field which one of my friends described as Keebler elf music. This was very accurate due to the lead singer saying when the next chapters were coming in which gave it a fairy tale feel. They also had a song where the keyboardist was singing main vocals, playing keyboard and playing accordion all at the same time which makes absolutely no sense but it worked.

Hearing the music live made me so excited for their next project and I cant wait to see where the band heads next. I feel they are just getting started and I hope they continue their streak of great music.

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Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

“Ouroboros” by Suave Punk Song Review

Suave Punk is a great representation of modern indie roots. Suave Punk is Justin Kim, a fella who decided to sit down in his bedroom with a borrowed guitar, amp, and laptop and make some mystic music.

Since 2018 he has released an array of singles and an EP. Suave Punk’s discography is filled with heavy guitar riffs, relaxed vocals, and elements of shoegaze, grungegaze, and dream pop.

His most popular single, “Heat Death” caught my ears in 2021, and since I have been keeping up with his releases.

This new single “Ouroboros” did not disappoint; however, didn’t necessarily provide any new elements to his musical arsenal. I love seeing growth through releases, and although there wasn’t much experimentation in this track it’s clear his musical confidence is blossoming.

I really appreciated his lyrics in this track. He has a great voice and a great tone for the genre pocket he is fitting into. In his past work he really veils over the vocals with heavy strings and drumming, but I’m glad to see more of his lovely voice poke through here.

“I’m an ouroboros
No matter which way I go
I’m always trying again”

This theme of incessant self judgement fits excellently with the musical beats. The backdrop is repetitive, active, and grows throughout the track. This track is unified, succinct, and bold.

“You’re not safe from what you’re building
You’re not safe from what you do”

This track is definitely one of my favorites from Suave Punk. It provides a glimpse into the mind of Justin Kim, who up until this release has been allusive and understated.

It is great to hear more confidence in his voice, sound, and themes– I am looking forward to the releases to come. I’ll be waiting for a full album, till then, keep rocking Suave Punk.