With indie pop and rock being as overcrowded as they are in the present day, it’s becoming increasingly hard to stand out from the throng. Fortunately, the Cincinnati duo Bad Veins—Benjamin Davis on vocals/guitar and Jake Bonta on drums—have crafted an LP that’s sure to get them noticed, the 13-track The Mess Remade. With crisp but not too clean production and a bandolier of catchy choruses, the record benefits from a strong pop core that the duo uses as an anchor through which they can branch out in other directions. From synth-pop (“Dancing on TV”) to twee affectations (“I Turn Around”), to vocal performances that veer into musical theatre territory (“Rainbow Connection”), The Mess Remade is a pop album with an appealingly restless spirit. There are also some killer turns of phrase on the lyrical front as well: “I’ve got this soapbox / But I wish I had a crystal ball”, Davis sings on “Nursery Rhyme”.
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“Wannabe Cowboys” is an apt title for a song by a band that hails from Portland, Oregon. The City of Keeping it Weird isn’t exactly known for a thriving country/Western scene, and the thought of the Birkenstock-wearing crowd trying to fit in a proper honky-tonk is no doubt good for a laugh. Fortunately, the Portland rock outfit the Weather Machine isn’t out for such gauche posturing. Although elements of folk music are definitely obvious in the band’s music, unsurprising given the genre’s prominence in the Pacific Northwest, there’s several other elements at play in their sound that prevent them from coming across as trying to ape one specific style. For instance, “Wannabe Cowboys”, a track off of the Weather Machine’s forthcoming Peach LP, opens up with some nice distorted guitar that evokes classic rock. The tune’s chorus then brings a fiddle into the mix, adding an additional rhythmic texture that elevates what might have otherwise been an ordinary rock number. “Wannabe Cowboys” feels appropriately folksy without ever being phony.
Juxtaposing relaxed, introspective verses with a catchy, driving chorus, “Overboard” is the first tune to come forth from Pat McGee’s forthcoming self-titled LP. The record was in large part funded through Kickstarter, where fans showed their tremendous support for McGee’s vision through doubling the initial donation goal he set out for the project. Clearly motivated both by his own passions and by the enthusiasm of his supporters, McGee brought on a stellar cast of players to aid in making Pat McGee, including Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, Waddy Watchel, Danny Kortchmar, and Jeff Pevar. Other guest stars include John Popper, Paul Barrerre, and Pat Monahan.
Even in a world where new genre names seem to arise ex nihilo each day, one wouldn’t think that the phrase “Danish cowboy noir” would ever actually be an existing sound. Lo and behold, then, the murky little ditty that is “Lonesome Town”, a track off of Danish composer/songwriter Emil Friis’ new LP Sand in Your Eyes. As a regular composer of film music, Friis knows how to conjure a vivid environment, even one quite distinct from his native Denmark. “Lonesome Town”, as its name implies, evokes the scent of barroom whiskey and the pitter-patter of tumbleweed across an arid desert.
Rock & Roll Is A Beautiful Thing, indeed. As a part of this year’s Record Store Day, the Alive Naturalsound label will release a limited colored vinyl under that name, which includes 21 tracks of previously unreleased material, original album cuts, and cover songs. The artists represented include the Black Keys, Radio Moscow, T-Model Ford, the Bloodhounds, and as you can hear exclusively below, Buffalo Killers.
That Ohio rock group—whose second Alive Naturalsound outing, 2008’s Let it Ride, was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys—has offered up a cover of the Nerves’ “Stand Back and Take a Good Look” for this 2LP collection. In doing so, the band highlights their presence amongst a fine roster of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and psych outfits, all the while paying tribute to a classic band.
// Notes from the Road
"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.READ the article