Archive for January, 2022

January 20, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – selfpity

Thursdays with J.R. is our new weekly column from lifelong musician and lifelong-er music fan J.R. McIntire, drummer of Arctic Char and multi-instrumentalist on more projects than we have bandwidth to list.

Sometimes beauty can come in small, short yet noisy packages. Take “Dead Dreams” by Canada’s selfpity, my spin of the week. Guitars wash over you quickly as the music starts on a collision course towards your brain. “You are alone” cuts through the mix as the first line of lyric. I believe they are doubled with a lower octave track that creates one collective sound for most of the song, certain lines poking out at you for added effect. The drums at first seem simple and punchy, yet tight and fitting. However, when the song really opens up in the middle there are ghost notes and snare work that shines through. These are either analog or whomever programmed them has a drummer’s ear. Waves of guitars swirl around and upward while the bass dives into the tonal depths of the mix to drive everything forward. Altogether it works to create a beautiful, upbeat yet dark noise.

January 20, 2022

The B-Side: Instant Smile

If you have a deep affinity for synthy side of 80’s alternative like we do, then there’s probably no more appropriate band name in existence than Instant Smile. Be still our art school dance party hearts! “Love’s Petri Dish” sounds like a lost early Depeche Mode classic, back when Dave and the boys weren’t quite as glum. Don’t get us wrong, we like the glum stuff too( which is apparent to anyone who has spent much time on our site), but this is a blurpy, blippy ray of sunshine for people who don’t spend much time in actual sunshine. We’ll always love a love song for the outsiders, and this is no exception. Instant smile indeed.

January 19, 2022

The Midweekly – Arctic Char

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

There’s something churning in this flavorful stew of hard rock. Flashes of silver, like the steel of guitar strings, pulled out of the icy depths. Thrown onto a crackling fire, hot as the electricity in those amps. And sitting around it, cooking up what they’ve caught and created, a group of good-timers enjoying it all. That group is Arctic Char, and the stew is their self-titled debut. It’s an album that hauls out many sizes of rock and roll, from classic sounds to modern, and there’s no mistaking that midwestern heart from these Indiana boys. Groovers reminiscent of the 60s and 70s pioneers. Screechers cut from the hair of 80s and 90s metal. Even a blues number, or indie rock ballad here and there. You can hear the patience in the production process. Tight and polished. The instrumentation mostly speaks for itself, but also with help from some studio seasoning, to keep it spicy. Things get pretty wild in the lyrics. Adventurers, giants, and even cannibals pop up in these stories. But there are regular people, too, with regular people problems. The ingredients of great rock tunes. When the songs are biting, the stew is plentiful, and it’s ready for your consumption. 

January 19, 2022

Wordless Wednesdays

Wordless Wednesdays is our new weekly column where we spotlight the best new instrumental tracks.

In the immortal words of Gwen Stefani, “don’t speak.” Just listen to these two fantastic instrumental tracks from Go To Space Die and Lehel P. after the jump.

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January 18, 2022

Tuesday Tip-Off: Russian Cowboy

It’s been a long, long time since we’ve heard a slice of tasty cowpunk, a genre that saddles up and straddles the twang and imagery of outlaw country with a roots punk sound and attitude for a sound that is good, bad (to the bone) and ugly (like the face you make when you’re rocking out like nobody’s watching). Riding to the rescue to bring hope to these dusty old speakers is Bloomington, Indiana’s Russian Cowboy with their album A Slow Migration West. Simply put, this isn’t just a welcome new addition to the tradition set forth by bands like The Blasters and The Gun Club, but a release that stands shoulder to shoulder with the greats of the genre. Why are you still reading this? G’on get! Get on over to their Bandcamp page and grab a copy before we call the marshal on you!

January 17, 2022

Mike’s Monday Muse – Phương Tâm

Mike’s Monday Muse is where friend of the blog, roots DJ, house show organizer, Bloomington Music Expo czar and all around nice guy Mike McAfee picks one song a week to share with the people.

As a wartime teenager, Phương Tâm performed in the Saigon nightclubs becoming one of Vietnam’s first successful rock-n-rollers. Tâm gave it up for love eventually fleeing Vietnam with her husband to California in 1975 where they raised a family. Incredibly, Tâm never shared her past fame with her children. Her daughter, Hannah Hà, found out in 2019 after being contacted by a Vietnamese film producer asking to use her mom’s music in a movie. Hà was inspired to find her mom’s tunes, which led to the fabulous 25-song compilation called Magical Nights: Saigon Surf Twist & Soul (1964-1966).

January 17, 2022

Week Starter – Colatura

Week Starter is our new Monday column where we give you a new song to kick the working week in the ass & help you power on through.

Today’s Week Starter is less of kick in the ass as it is a supportive nudge. “Team Sport” by Colatura is more of a gentle push out the door into yet another gray wintery pandemic day, but one that carries enough sunshiny melodies to keep you warm all the way to your destination. We’re suckers for boy/girl vocals over a perfectly crafted indie pop song (see our lifelong devotion to Canada’s greatest band Stars) and when you add in a cute video that offers alternative uses for an urn? Forget about it. This is the energy we want to carry into the week: light on our feet and laughing at somber settings.

January 14, 2022

Friday 5×5

Friday 5×5 is our segment where we give you five new tracks to check out and give ourselves the challenge of describing said tracks in only five words.

Today we keep it brief while sharing new tunes from Youth Sector, Conor Garrison, Maddy Brown, Unconscious Prophet and Kareem Rahma.

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January 13, 2022

Thursdays With J.R.- Death Hags

Thursdays with J.R. is our new weekly column from lifelong musician and lifelong-er music fan J.R. McIntire, drummer of Arctic Char and multi-instrumentalist on more projects than we have bandwidth to list.

This week I was lucky enough to spin the new single “Spiral” from the Death Hags. It’s a dreamy yet driving song that leaves you wanting more. (Luckily there is a great deal of Death Hag content on their Bandcamp if you feel the way I do, and you will). I always go in drums first, its my curse. The drums are dry and tight with a driving four on the floor beat that never lets up or gets too busy. When you expect
large hits of treble laden cymbals they simply aren’t there, the mix gives that honor to the reverb-
soaked vocals who nail the part. The vocal mix is front-forward and pleasing to the ear (especially in
headphones). Guitar is spot on tone wise and muted when pertinent. Nothing really goes over the
edge, just gets to the ledge, and begs the ear for the next track. Leaves you wanting more. The bass
mixes well (synth or analog) and keeps the drive on the road and keeps it smooth. (Don’t worry I car tested, had to with all this driving talk. It passed). Gave me east coast shoegaze vibes yet differentiates itself with the driving drums and bluesy guitar. This was my first spin of the Death Hags and I will be back.

January 13, 2022

The B-Side: Suave Colione

Fitting in a reference to just about every major sitcom from the 80’s-00’s, “Sitcom Love” by Suave Colione isn’t just a stroll down memory lane for those raised on network television, it’s also a bop. A smooth R&B influenced hip-hop number with the kind of hook that stays with you, and Colione’s flow is confident and comfortable, never feeling forced or rushed. Together with the lyrical source material, relationship ideals as taught by TV couples, it creates a love song that reads real enough to avoid feeling too gimmicky – something that certainly would’ve been the case had this premise been tackled by a lesser artist. It grooves, its fun, its Must Hear TV.

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