Satellite Twin – ‘extended cassette single’

14369968_1214613525268334_30199722943073127_nHigh Speed Rock and Roll

Gubbey Records – September 30, 2016

A few Fridays ago, Satellite Twin put out a new cassingle, simply titled ‘extended cassette single.’ The cassette features a couple new original tracks, as well as a cover of “Push” by The Cure (though it’s not available via streaming services). These songs go by quickly, so I’ll try to be quick, too.

“Ignitor” fades in, falling into its groove almost immediately – fleshed out with fast moving drums, thumping bass, and bent notes on guitar. The vocals come in with a shout, lasting for less than a minute before the instruments take back over, carrying the song to a quiet, ambient outro. The second track, “Shock,” sounds a little more like the songs on The Mechanical Hearts EPtheir great release from last year. It’s divided into a few more distinct sections, and has a little longer to play out than “Ignitor.” The emotional highlight of the song is around the 4:10 mark – a shouted bridge with all instruments driving forward before leading right back into a reprise of the track’s intro without a moment of hesitation. As a whole, the songs here are a little more intense than the tracks on The Mechanical Hearts EP,  and they seem to get to the point just a little more quickly. The recording sounds even better here than what I heard their prior releases, too – it’s really nice to have a couple new really solid songs from Satellite Twin.

Tracks I Liked: Ignitor!!, Shock!!!

Ben Southworth – October 16, 2016 – Kenwick Place

Bryan Minks and the Kentucky Sons – Last Will and Testament

a0602957227_10Existential Alternative Country

Self-Released September 2, 2016

Bryan Minks has been a prominent member of the Lexington country // Americana music scene for several years now – you may know him for leading the long-standing band, Those Crosstown Rivals. But where TCR are a diesel-powered, punk-influenced group, the Kentucky Sons channel a more standard modern country sound. Their music is laid out by some member in common with TCR, as well as some new folks – fleshed out with acoustic guitar, fuzzy electric guitar, bass, drums, fiddle, as well as the occasional slide guitar and female vocals.

Many of the songs on Last Will and Testament deal with some fairly heavy stuff: loneliness, regret, and longing for the past. You can hear this well on “Borrowed Time” which is laid out with lots of slide guitar and fiddle, with a repeated chorus of ‘time is all I got left, and there ain’t none to borrow.’ “Cover Me in Hay” is a new take on a TCR song I first heard in 2012, and it’s interesting to hear it in this different light – stripped of the ‘cow-punk’ style it had on Kentucky Gentlemen, it’s quite a bit more somber and serious, but expands on the original song with some more depth and emotion. The standout on the album is “Proud,” a track that nearly hides how dark and lonely the lyrics are with the upbeat sounds in the instrumentation. The song (which has a video you can see here) deals with depression and the desire to make your loved ones proud – ‘I was cold long before my body was ever found, I was a ghost long before you put me in the ground’ are some of my favorite lyrics on the album.

The musicians on Last Will and Testament play with some great chops, and Sneak Attack’s Jason Groves does an excellent job capturing and balancing them all. I’ll admit: I was surprised by the emotion and darkness on this record, but impressed by how Bryan Minks approached the subjects so honestly and straightforwardly. Last Will and Testament is a great sounding record which grapples with some of the big, heavy stuff in the human experience.

Tracks I Liked: Reckless and Free!, Borrowed Time!!, Beautiful Soul!, The Answer!, Proud!!!

Ben Southworth – October 8, 2016 – Kenwick Place

Imaginary Towers – Revive EP

imaginarytowers_revive_ac_bigElectronic Ambient Bedroom Pop

Self-Released – September 6, 2016

Revive starts off quietly with the sounds of crickets chirping and a fire crackling, patiently layering electronic piano and low-key digital drum beats. It feels like the appropriate setting for modern life in rural Kentucky – Imaginary Towers hails from Vine Grove, tucked just south of Fort Knox and home to just over 5,000 people. Though the first track is instrumental, “YRUSO” introduces electronically affected vocals asking “why are you so tired and unhappy” and “why are you so restless and angry” before the singer turns the question towards themselves. “1994” has the catchiest vocal melody of the five tracks, mixing distorted keyboard with clean and clear vocals that reflect on the optimism of childhood, singing “you would never know it now, but there’s a part of me that stayed behind in 1994.” Things slow down even more on “Desire,” parking the vocals a little further back in the mix and allowing the mixture of synthesizers and drums to gently swell and retreat like waves on a shore. A sample of a child speaking places the final track, “Revive,” back into the mindset of the innocence of youth – it remains a quiet and simple track that fades out softly with the sounds of rain and a resonating piano. Revive is brief and quiet, but sets a strong, definite mood for its duration. For those who enjoy low-key, ambient electronica, you’re likely to truly enjoy the music here by Imaginary Towers.

Tracks I Liked: YRUSO!!, 1994!!!, Desire!, Revive!

Ben Southworth – October 2, 2016 – Kenwick Place

Palisades // Big Fresh – Signal Delayed


Power Pop // Electro Sci-Fi Pop

Self-Released – September 30, 2016

One of my favorite things about Lexington’s music scene is the way that so many musicians are determined to work together. They play in each other’s bands, they record on each other’s albums, and in the case of Signal Delayed, they put out albums together. In preparing for this write-up, I spoke to Scott Whiddon of Palisades, who said: ‘For me, this project represents everything I wanted Palisades to be: community, collaboration, creativity.’ Make no mistake, I wont pretend that Lexington is the only city where musicians are nice to each another – I’m just grateful, because I imagine that not every city is so lucky.

The first side of Signal Delayed is a pair of power pop songs from Palisades. The first of which, “Pretty Thief,” is familiar sounding (if you’ve listened to Palisades previously) – it’s full of bright guitars, a super quick and catchy chorus, and uses every bit of its runtime for something a little different than what came before it. “Tough Shakes” is a fair bit grungier and moodier than the more sugary pop that Palisades have produced in the past. Most of the lyrics of are more spoken than sung, the guitars are weightier than usual, and the lyrics have a little more bite than usual. That said, the production on these songs is at a place I haven’t heard from Palisades before – all the instruments are rich, well-balanced, and crystal clear (plus, the organ sounds on “Pretty Thief” adds a nice bit of light-hearted texture).

As far as I know, this is the first new recorded music from Big Fresh in a good while (since Moneychasers came out in 2011, maybe?) In case you’re not familiar with Big Fresh, it’s a long-running collective of musicians fronted by John Ferguson that has been around since 1998. The songs on the second side of Signal Delayed are funky, synth-heavy, and sci-fi flavored. “Atlantis” is quick, but punchy and in your face with a buzzing synth in the front of the texture and echoey vocals singing things like “we launched a rocket in space, we blast a hole in your face.” “Night Driving” is the perfect foil to the song preceding it – the quiet, low-key groove of the chorus is much more mellow and has the perfect feel for a song about driving at night. The many members of Big Fresh are orchestrated richly on this track, with horns and keyboards imitating vocals, a very well-chosen soundbyte, and drums helping to direct the song through its course.

If you’re a lover of Lexington music, it’s a no-brainer to find yourself a copy of Signal Delayed. It’s two great bands (whose collective members are likely in ten or more bands between them), four great songs, and I hear it’ll even be available on red vinyl! You can pick it up when you see both bands this Friday at The Green Lantern, or grab a copy the next time you stop by your favorite local record store.

Tracks I Liked: Pretty Thief!!, Tough Shakes!, Atlantis!, Night Driving!!

Ben Southworth – September 24, 2016 – Kenwick Place


Doctor Girlfriend – Silent Screen

drgfNew Wave(y) Art Rock

auralgamiSOUDS – August 27, 2016

It is really difficult to pin down the sound on this album. If David Byrne and James Murphy made a record together, recruited Colin Greenwood to play bass, and fleshed out the texture with keyboards and saxophone, it might sound something like this (maybe?). The first four songs on Silent Screen assail your ears with unrelenting momentum and sound – crunchy basslines, bright guitars, bongos, accelerating breakbeats, and vocals sometimes past the point of shouting. “Boy to Do” exemplifies this perfectly – it’s armed with an opening guitar riff that will undoubtedly get stuck in your head, and a bass that sounds like its powered by a diesel engine. By the time the album reaches its midpoint, your ears are ready for a bit of relief, and “Crystal Girl” provides exactly that. The song pumps along with a a quiet electronic beat, warbling guitar, and much calmer vocals that stretch themselves into beautiful falsetto, singing much more tender lines like “she danced right through my mind tonight” and “crystal girl, wont you dance a while with me.” The single, “Photograph,” follows directly after – a song that starts mellow and relatively quiet before growing into an angular, dense, psychedelic track drenched with saxophone. “Stutterstep” is dizzying in its combination of syncopated guitar and swirling synthesizers, and has one of the best grooves of the entire album by the time it reaches the chorus. The album ends with the grandiose, smoky slow-jam, “Babydoll,” complete with weighty drums and vocal harmonies as the chorus sings “you’re not my babydoll.” At just over a half-hour, Silent Screen is over before you even know it, but it manages to be absolutely unique and interesting from the very beginning – absolutely worth at least a few listens.

Tracks I Liked: Trouble!, Boy to Do!!, Crystal Girl!!!, Photograph!!, Stutterstep!!, Babydoll!

Ben Southworth – September 18, 2016 – Kenwick Place