Archive for ‘Thursdays With J.R.’

June 30, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – Little Killer Bears

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.

Mr. Petty said it best.  “The waiting is the hardest part”.  This weeks track “Waiting” by Little Killer Bears wasn’t hard at all.  The song is gentle though full of emotion within the lyrics.  I really like how the song opens up with acoustic and electric guitars intertwining like they can in a beautiful, Americana style groove.  The drums are simple but direct the song train down the track.  The chorus makes you wait, and is over before it begins.  This song also has a guitar solo, and a good one.  I love guitar solos, they just rule when done right.  This one is done right.  I hear shades of older American rockers in the shadows but never fully copied.  I hear Bruce, even Johnny Cougar influencing this song.  What a great name as well, Little Killer Bears, yes!  The song builds to said chorus and solo only to leave you Waiting and hanging on the last note.  This one begs for a second listen or for the next song on the album.  I think I’ll go listen to some more of the tiny savage teddys as this is something I can get into.  Great work from a solid band.

June 16, 2022

Thursdays with J.R. – Boss Rush

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.

Welcome to the “Vagabond Inn,” our dirty little hotel room for this evening.  This just happens to be the name of this week’s track.  Husband and Wife duo Boss Rush hail from Alabama but for this track/video we spend the night in a hotel room jamming out with the duo.  The room feels familiar as the group sets up their instruments and begin to lead us along the fuzzy trail of guitar and drum rock.  Love the vocals, clean and powerful.  There is bass on the track but no player in the video.  It really makes the verses sing as the second one adds chorus washed guitar before the fuzz blast returns in the chorus.  The song comes down in the bridge with a droning up beat rhythm that glides into a syncopated beat on the toms.  The chorus washed guitar returns as we rush back to the final chorus.  Nice, tight rock and roll.  The song and video end with the hotel room phone ringing.  I wanted to pick up the line, I want to hear more.  Great song Boss Rush.  Already stuck in my head.

June 9, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – Femegades

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’s letter is F.  F is for Femegades but also for FUCK this song has a stiff but poignant message and I absolutely love it.  The track that spun me into self-reflection as a father to three daughters was “Speechless”.  The recording is pure and clean though fuzzy and ripping throughout.  Lyrics come harsh, brash and honest as that capital F we spoke of.  The subject matter of “but not ALL men” and the likes of those that hide behind that trope loads lyrics that question the intentions and actions of said men.  Lines like “that joke about her down on her knees” and “you watched while she didn’t consent”.  The catchy chorus sarcastically taunts the notion that not all men are like this, at least until their daughters are of age.  The bridge and breakdowns are packed with tight and pulsing drums as she brings it home repeating “eyes wide shut, not all men”.  I really enjoyed the modulated chorus that rounds out the tight, simple yet brilliant original riff.  Bringing the key up a notch is a novel yet satisfying way to bring a song to an end.  This song will make you think about what you say and do, music should do that, especially with a message that’s unfortunately so topical in today’s world. I guess I’m here to say thank you, Femegades.  Great tune. 

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June 2, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – Rupe

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.

“Growing Up Is Strange” from Rupe gently spun in my ears this week.  The acoustic guitar began our journey, before dry almost electronic or programmed drums come in, again, gently.  They’re solid and hold down the song nicely.  There’s an ominous synth or organ hiding in the background of this song for the entire duration.  It’s a beautiful hum and white noise that carries you through.  “I never thought I’d see the day when you would call me back” gently streams from the vocalists throat.  How can we SEE a call?  Its environment I say, and this track is heavy with it.  There’s a climax or crescendo that sweeps across the track as more layers of guitar and keys join the journey.  The electric guitar glides in and out, making you swoon for more.  Not really much bass in the mix, but you don’t miss it.  It’s there, just light.  The build holds steady and just as you’re about to go full in, the song ends leaving you wanting more.  I suggest a second listen as the journey is quite fulfilling.  Don’t let its gentle side fool you, this is a solid tune, very groove laden.  Would recommend. 

April 14, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – Vincent Coomans

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.

I usually don’t look for this type of music, but it often hits my plate whether I seek it or destroy it.  I couldn’t have been happier this week when “Must I Always” by Vincent Coomans hit the submission box.  Coomans hails from Belgium and is often compared to Sufjan Stevens.  I am not one for comparisons but the warm coronet lacking highs and washing over you as the song starts doesn’t hurt as it sounds straight off Illinois by the said Stevens.  Coomans’ music tends to have themes of distance, grief and desire as his bio proclaims, bringing him closer in the musical ether to such musicians as Elliot Smith, Bill Ryder or even Damien Jurado.  Coomans sets himself apart I would say with his own “sound” only pulling slightly from said influences.  I knew within seconds I wanted to review this as the ambient sound alone takes you to somewhere that you aren’t quite sure of, even as the tune dissipates upon completion.  The warm brass floods you with what sounds to be a ride cymbal slowly being washed across with mallets.  I could be way off but that’s what I hear.  It almost washes into a low note resembling a far away alert or warning siren.  Droning a far-away familiarity only lending to the alien environment.  Hopeful piano starts to fall from the fingers as Vincent’s voice trickles out ever slightly but with weight.  The vocal part brings you into the room we’ve been in sonically the whole time the walls just felt bigger before his vocal presence.  He immediately plays with space, jumping between notes like landing on stones poking their dry heads from a creek bed, keeping our ears as dry as they can be, all the while moving progressively downstream.  His lyrics talk about ropes holding him down, fights in the car and an all-around troubled life all the while they beg for what to do while ever asking in finalization “Must I Always”?  His falsetto in what I would call the “chorus” combats the frequency the coronet occupied once more, and they ride beautifully together in their vocal canoe.  The song builds with strings again sounding like a siren blaring on a radio in a far off room down the corridor.  He begs again but slowly “at least for a little while”.  I want to be in that car, in that relationship, what happened?  Really simple yet atmosphere heavy tune.  I immediately ran out to his page and started absorbing all I could get my ears on.  His bio says he performs as a trio as well, which is always fun to see live, and I would love to do so.  I quite enjoyed this music and am glad to be back at it.  

March 24, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – Odd Sweetheart

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.

Morse code and reverb-laden guitar fades into your ears as you’re gently guided into the soundscape ahead.  This week my ears traveled afar with Odd Sweetheart and their track “Structures”.  The full groove kicks in at around 40 seconds and you get whirlwind hi hats and thick yet well mixed bass tone.  Simple yet holds the original groove the Morse code directed in.   The vocals drip out of the singer’s mouth with emotion but a simplicity of singing it a thousand times.  Voice is crisp and weathered, I feel the story.  Imagery of rib cages being torn apart may make you think we go to distortionville, you’d be wrong.  The guitar stays really clean the entire time, some overdrive, delay and as previously mentioned, reverb.  It gives it a garage-indie sound that you aren’t expecting when the song starts.  I appreciate the groove quite a bit, the drummer is very tight and tasteful.  Bass drum and guitar in tandem as you soar through structures of the mind.  Tight and short, with a neat instrumental composition to round out the ending.  Don’t judge a song by its intro, you may miss a trip as good as this one!  

March 10, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – The Macks

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.

A guitarist goes flying right to left doing the “Chuck Berry” and just when you think it’s time to “Be Goode”, The Doors open wide with an organ blasting groove.  Just as you slip into a 60’s cocktail the actual verse jabs you from the left with precision but swagger; vocals almost dripping out of the singer’s mouth.  This is all in the first 15 seconds.  “Spin My Head Around” by The Macks clocks in at a cheeky 2:22, but as you can read, it’s a jam packed two two two.  The sound is familiar in the best way, like you’ve heard them in a theme song to your favorite binge watch whose intro you go out of your way NOT to skip.  Drums sound vintage and tight.  Tightly produced parts.  Vocals have a great mix, lends to the sound each part is going for.  Singer is committed to each part.  Guitar is clean, nice use of pan in mix.  Bass also solid and is tight with drums in a way that makes the knee jerk changes again sound familiar instead of sloppy.  I’d almost say this is punky but its so poppy as well, in a way that grunge could be, not a pop-punk way.  Does that make sense?  If so, continue.  Song breaks down into a rock bridge that is very modern but also legit to the throwback vibe of the song before wrapping you back to the first tight verse.  We travel back into the organ and the song ends symmetrically.  Very satisfying to my hyperactive ears, they enjoyed the journey through time, even if it was short.  Need more?  The Macks have a good deal of content to offer, excellent album art as well, check it out here.

February 17, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – Dinner and Whiskey Next Week

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.

Visually, I was ready for what Dinner and Whiskey Next Week had in store for me this week.  Black and white images of a sunken-eyed rascal being pulled downwards into a black hole dawning the cover of their album Gravitational Pull.  The music did NOT disappoint. Just like the careful, what seem to be hand-drawn art dawning the cover the music is also hand crafted with the utmost patience.  “Just Like a Doll” opens with clean and thick dissonant guitar, plucked with precision, laying down the groove before anything else comes in.  Drums slow but also thick join the experience.  A slow droning tambourine brings in the guitar swells perfectly as we travel the first verse.  Vocals are gentle and clear.  Great mix and lyrics, the imagery it conjures is imaginative but relatable.  Chorus opens slowly but doesn’t hit immediately.  Drums drone and open further with vocal harmonies filling up the sonic space before the guitars let loose.  The chorus is powerful but still beautiful.  Nice use of reverb in the vocal tracks, they all give space to come together as one in the end.  The second verse builds into second chorus with more guitar layering and swells than our first time around, building a nice dynamic foundation.  I believe its mostly guitars here though they traverse into synth-sounds which is quite pleasing to the ear.  Brings you up and down with the song while listening.  The bridge brings an agreeable tension, delayed vocals and extreme hi-hat and tom work drive into a bountiful noise-finale.  A wall of guitar and vocals bringing you all the way up and leaving you there until the song ends.  This band is my cup of tea, and I was quite pleased.  Give them a sip and find out how tasty they are for yourself.

February 10, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – LIJO

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’s submission was creative and different.  I don’t know about you but that checks a few boxes right off the bat for me.  I spun LIJO’s “Spell” and this three minute and forty second vocal layer cake really grabbed my sweet tooth.  As with most vocal predominant songs you always expect an instrument, beat or sample to possibly come in and when it does its very simple yet super effective.  Pure vocals for the most part.  I suggest giving your brain a second listen once you realize that to really absorb the structure and complexity of this tune.  It opens with, you guessed it, vocals.  Sparse and environmental at first, they build a foundation and through line for the song.  Very little reverb, clear and crisp with the lyrics cutting through.  Layers begin slightly with harmonies doubled beautifully but still no wave of reverb, crisp and clear.  Good midrange on the recording, not always easy to do with vocal mixing.  Her breaths in are percussive, you feel them.  The first time we get the chorus it immediately feels familiar.  Second verse hits with  what sounds like a cello that cuts hard before the second round of the chorus.  The same deep low-end sample brings in the third verse.  The last chorus has the sample, which is what you’ve wanted all along, you just didn’t know it yet.  The music and vocals crescendo into the final line of lyric, “someone else’s spell”.  Very beautiful yet dark tune about what sounds like possible loss of a relationship.  The lack of reverb tail is seriously impressive, the song is very clean which can be a mixing and editing challenge.  I really dug this tune, again give it a few spins, it really got me second time around.  Great use of winter imagery the song feels cold and dark yet beautiful and honestly, catchy.

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February 3, 2022

Thursdays With J.R. – Kyoto Kyoto

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.

I really can’t put into words how awesome a trio can be when in step and on the same page artistically.  I got the privilege of hearing such a trio this week with the track “Grangbeen” by the London UK based Kyoto Kyoto.  This song really played to my musician’s ear and took me down quite the rabbit hole of nerdery.  I will try to put some sort of digestible framework around this piece of sonic explosion.  Let’s just separate each piece of the puzzle, that will keep this under six billion words, yeah.  Well, if you’ve read anything of mine so far you know I like drums so let’s start there.  They are fantastic.  They sound great, the drummer is tight, solid, has bass and snare drum chops and doesn’t push it even when the song gets chaotic.  There are big breaks where the dynamic shifts quite drastically and the drummer is in step for the ride.  It opens with a breakbeat that is relentlessly and deceivingly difficult to keep steady, they nail it.  I am most impressed by the mature and tasteful choices in fills as the song crescendos, it continues to drive and build, increasing the anxiety without being all over the map.  Great off time cymbal hits in the end groove.  When the bass solo kicks in it comes back around to its part and lays into the groove until the song lets you go.  The bass guitar tone is perfect, you can hear the attack, but it has a warmth that really lends to the groovy parts.  When it comes time to get loud it fits, when it comes time to solo (the bass solo alone is worth the spin) it resides comfortably in the mix.  Tip of the hat to the EQ work, and for having a solo, solos rule.  Guitar is nice in beginning, chords and nice picking patterns that hold tight with the drum and bass.  A chorus watery pattern leads us into the wall of metallic waves, that leave you surfing into the abyss of chaos that lurks ahead in the repeating pattern building and building into the sweet release of our first groove.  This time the bass as we spoke of, rips a nice little solo, guitar almost fades out while the song ends.  Vocals are sparse but quite fitting, they slowly talk their way into the first groove and into a very intentional repeated phrase before we hit that metal surf and ride until Solotown (*unfortunately Solotown as of now does not exist, will update if that changes).  They are reverb laden but not as much as you may expect, a change from my recent spins.  Really liked this song and this band, it’s on their newest EP Mirror Flexing Jaw which just came out.  Highly recommend, check it out here.

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