Southern-Tinged Psych Rock
Self-Released March 3, 2017
I caught the latter half of Bendigo Fletcher’s appearance on the latest episode of WRFL-Live! – they’re a relatively new five-piece from Louisville, Kentucky. I hadn’t heard of the group before, but enjoyed what they played that night on the radio. Their songs were spirited, loose, and unusually uninhibited. Somewhere, towards the end of their set, they mentioned they were playing a show over the weekend with Lexington’s Johnny Conqueroo, and that they’d be marking the occasion with the release of their first single – a song called “Sleeping Pad.”
The track is the first they’ve released as a band, serving to tide their fans over until the release of their debut EP (coming somewhere in the fairly near future, perhaps?) Ryan Anderson, singer for the group, paints a simple, comforting picture of lying down for a well-deserved rest. The bright verses are punctuated with verses full of momentum, which in turn give way to instrumental breaks on guitar and violin – all sections of the song have enough space to breathe and develop. Songs like this seem to come out quite a bit less often than those about dark, difficult subjects; though perhaps we could all use the occasional musical reminder of the importance of a good night’s sleep and proper self-care. The group, though new, have a great sound, cohesion, and positive energy – it should be interesting to see how their future plays out.
Ben Southworth – March 5, 2017 – High Street
Self-Released February 14, 2017
Brother Bee is a fairly recent project of Somerset’s Boone Williams, who you may know better from his work in electronic duo, Tiny Tiny. “Rely” is a step in a slightly different direction than the tracks on Tiny Tiny – there’s a familiar calmness in the air on this track, even more so than on other releases from Williams. The drum machines are dialed way back, making room for a pulsing synth bass, guitar, and vocal samples to make up the arrangement. Boone’s opening lyrics, “all the lines I never said, I saved them up to give to you,” express the feeling of finally finding the right one; at the midpoint of the song, “it’s my heart that you hold whenever I’m in your arms,” he reveals the vulnerability of being with someone else. All this leads to the simple, repeatable chorus, “so please rely on me,” where the song reaches its densest point of arrangement – layered vocals, echoing synthesizers, circular guitar patterns, all set upon a simple drumbeat. Much like other recent releases from Boone Williams, this track is clear, thick, and well-produced – those who have heard and enjoyed Tiny Tiny should like these sounds.
Ben Southworth – February 12, 2017 – Kenwick Place
High 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 EP, their 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
Self-Released January and February 2016
It’s time to check in with the last couple songs from Matt Duncan’s now-monthly free song project.
“Chutes and Ladders” – Not many musicians would be able to incorporate the sound of a harpsichord into a pop song quite as effectively as Matt has with this one. “Chutes and Ladders” is propelled through its verses by a steadily pumping bass, swelling horns, and rolled harpsichord chords. By the time the chorus comes around, it’s more a bouncing arpeggiated sound from things, even with tuned drums outlining the chords – Matt accompanies himself here, singing the main chorus in an impressive falsetto and the backgrounds several octaves below it. It’s a tough song to unpack the lyrics on, but it’s terribly, infectiously catchy.
“The Jordan of Strange” – This song is marked with the note “It probably goes without saying, but this one goes out to Ziggy.” It’s a song that seems clearly influenced by Duncan’s recent time spent in on Broadway as a part of the on-stage band in the revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. “The Jordan of Strange” is bold and big throughout, perhaps most of all towards the end as Matt sequences the chorus of “there’s so much more” up and up and up before resolving it with a resolute “to do!” It’s definitely recognizable as a Matt Duncan track, but it seems like there’s been a distinct, gradual, purposeful evolution into this from the “AM radio soul” sounds of Soft Times and Beacon.
Two more great songs here from from Matt Duncan – it all makes me wonder what he’s got in store for his mentioned full-length LP. He’s made some changes to his sound, but if these aren’t the songs he’s holding onto for an upcoming album, it’s tough to know what to expect. Either way, we’ve been treated to some really good stuff these last several months.
Ben Southworth – February 7th, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Atmospheric Synth Pop
Karate Body Records – January 21st, 2016
As a nice snow day surprise, Louisville’s Billy Nelson released his most recent single, following the release of “We Could Be Friends” last August. Much like the previous track, “Lord, You’ve Got the Nerve” is textured largely by atmospheric synths, pulsing drum beats, and Billy’s recognizable voice. And also similarly, the song feels somewhat frustrated. Where “We Could Be Friends” repeated “I could see us as friends,” here we’ve got lyrics like “you say you only want a friend, do I have to go through this again” – in fact, the former track sounds awfully good when played directly after this most recent one. The track’s art is vaguely reminiscent of the cover of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, mixed perhaps with the mood of Neon Indian’s most recent album, Vega Int’l Night School – the art suits the track very well. Things are hazy here, from the distantly roaring guitars, to the effected vocals, to the smoky synthesizers that swell loudly into the midpoint of the song. Though only two tracks have been released from it thus far, the upcoming Billy Nelson album (whatever it may be called) seems to be hinting strongly at its disposition – word is we can look forward to a full album from Billy later this year.
Ben Southworth – January 24th, 2016 – Kenwick Place