Indie Rock

Portland artists playing CMJ: teenage phenomenon Grace Mitchell

The CMJ festival is currently on in NYC, and we stumbled upon a Portland artists that's taking part in it we never covered before: Grace Mitchell. The 18 year old certainly sounds a lot older and wiser than her age in her blues-electro-pop sophomore EP "Raceday," which was released just a few weeks ago. Her tracks certainly don't belong to the widespread "intimate female songwriter" category, but on the contrary possess almost invariably a bombastic pop element. It's really hard to believe a teenager can have a vocal delivery as confident as hers. 

Zach's CMJ Day 3: Second Child, Ezra Furman, The Grasping Straws, and French Horn Rebellion

Wednesday night at The Bitter End in the West Village started with the understated majesty of New York/Philadelphia quartet Second Child (pictured). Playing warm, folk-inflected songs that found notable beauty with the harmonizing of lead singer Alex DeSimine and bassist Alex Tremitiere, the band subtly moved the listener but didn't forget to straight-up thrill; their funked-up cover of David Bowie's "Fame" enlivened the previously focused crowd, several hoots and shouts flying out. While Dirty Projectors are probably more similar to them, it's exciting to see that Second Child can get loose like The Thin White Duke did on some of his earlier tracks. At Le Poisson Rouge, Oakland/Chicago rocker Ezra Furman finished his set with a gloriously riotous rendition of Arcade Fire's "Crown of Love," the gradual nature of that 'Funeral' standout reverting into sax-backed wildness and the green-haired Furman's lightning-quick guitar picks. Back at the End, New York four-piece The Grasping Straws drifted into slow, drum-marched songs that, particularly with frontwoman Mallory Feuer's drawn-out and bluesy vocals, recalled the lo-fi glory of early Cat Power. Taking their time rather than rushing towards easy shock, these tracks intrigued with their very patience and calm and, perhaps most importantly, were ultimately moving, their tumbling quality enabling the audience to both engage and reflect. Down on the Lower East Side, Brooklyn's French Horn Rebellion sent the evening out with feel-good dance tracks full of both jittering electronics and rubbery horns. Brothers Robert Perlick-Molinari and David Perlick-Molinari wore matching Glasslands T-shirts and, with their hip sways and head bobs, they seemed to throw a party not just for that lost venue but for the institution of live music itself. - Zach Weg  

 

Foxtails Brigade Release New Music Video - Far Away and Long Ago

The Oakland based art nouveau indie rock band, Foxtails Brigade has released a lovely and impressively shot music video for their new single, Far Away and Long Ago. This video has a crisp and touching style that is reminiscent of famed director, Stanley Kubrick´s film, Eyes Wide Shut and shares the same title as the 1918 William Henry Hudson novel. The video is sophisticated and compliments this new track´s artsong, classical vibe.

The dynamic, multi-talented group will continue an already busy 2015, having signed to OIM Records earlier this year, with their first full-band full-length self-titled studio record with producer Jeff Saltzman due out in March 2016.

Enjoy this music video for Far Away and Long Ago and make sure you make it to Foxtails Brigade´s upcoming show at Awaken Café on November 21st.

Album review: Bloodbirds - MMXIII

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Twenty-year veterans of the LFK/KC underground music scene, Mike and Brooke Tuley have played with a number of bands familiar to local rock audiences. Best known for their time with Ad Astra Per Aspera, they established Bloodbirds in 2011 with the intent of cutting loose and shaking things up.
 
And they have. Dense, dark—equal parts Fun House (Stooges), Spacemen 3 and Black Angels—Bloodbirds’ newest release MMXIII may also be their swan song, given the departure of bassist Anna St. Louis for Chicago. In some ways, it is St. Louis whose playing defines the band. Forward in the mix, and by no means shy, St. Louis plays with punchy authority, reminding of some of the other great “lead” bass players like Jon Entwistle and Peter Hook. Brooke Tuley is a powerful drummer; her parts are simple, but dead-on. She locks perfectly with St. Louis.  Mike Tuley plays on top of their aggressive foundation, a canvas for his arsenal of shimmering hammer-ons (“Modern Sympathy”), punishing riffs (“Did You Say”), and sometime dulcet tones (the comparatively clean Blue Mask jangle of “Convalesce”). Depending on the song, his sound can be metal harrowing or as ropey, surf-psychedelic as the theme from Repo Man.
 
About those songs: they’re functional, gripping, emotional soundscapes, not necessarily bound by pop hook conventions. They hit you with the shape-shift intensity of vintage heavy rock like Blue Cheer or modern darkness merchants like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Which is to say the focus here is not necessarily on hum-ability. Even allowing for that, it would be nice if the vocals had a dash less delay density and a bit more clarity in the mix. Lyrics and vocals on MMXIII are more about mood than meaning (or mood as meaning), stray lyrics emerging from the driving murk to arrest your conscious mind here and again.
 
The tough thump of “No Trains Coming Through” totally belies the song’s title. With Roky’s manic intensity, the song “Did You Say” features the ominous, repeated line “Did you say you want the end to come right now?” And the music echoes the sentiment. “Round Moon’s” cascade of guitar features some of Tuley’s most expressive fretwork, summoning up the incantations of bands like the Icarus Line and the guitar howl of the Stooges’ Ron Asheton. For an album that emphasizes a certain heavy-osity, MMXIII manages to shift mood and tone effectively.
 
Brothers and sisters, the Bloodbirds can make a show-stopping addition to anybody’s Psych Fest. Live shows may be few and far between, given the departure of St. Louis, but they have reunited in support of MMXIII occasionally and the members remain close friends and open to the odd gig. Go catch them if you have the chance.
 
—Steve Wilson
 

 

Waterfall Wash Release "Foreign Chords" Video

 East side indie folkers Waterfall Wash are helping us cling to the last bit of summer with a DIY lyric video for staff favorite "Foreign Chords," dropped earlier this year. Basically, two fruits enter; one frickin' adorable video leaves.

The fun, quirky video, directed by Dylan White, has all the makings of a perfect afternoon. There's Nerf gun double-crossing, hand-painted signs, cameos by friends (and some local talent) and a refreshing-beverage-off, all to a track you can't help but smile to. Boasting xylophone AND lap steel, "Foreign Chords" is full of personality, positivity and solid musicianship. 

Check out the video below and hear Waterfall Wash's recent episode of local tastemaker podcast Notable Nashville here! -Caroline Bowman

 

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