Friday, July 20, 2018

THE BASH DOGS - "LET'S ALL SING ALONG"

Collage by Karen Lynch

The difference between The Bash Dogs and their rock 'n' roll counterparts?  Those bands rock, The Bash Dogs bash!  That theory holds true on their latest single, "Let's All Sing Along."

Born in raised in sunny Southern California, the Dogs take up the torch of their forefathers The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and other acid-soaked psychedelic staples.  Their main goal?  To make every song and jam feel like a party on the beach.  These guys know how to craft mind-bending grooves that get you peaking upon impact.


On "Let's All Sing Along," the band takes us on a roller coaster ride that rivals that of the Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour," with each verse increasing in intensity and pure raucousness.  Their energy and excitement shine through and the listener has no choice but to drink the kool-aid.  The highlights for me include Ray Manzarek-style fuzzy organ riffs, melting mellotron lines, and a twinge of xylophone in the final verse. 

When you inspect the lyrics you'll find the Dogs really do promote inclusion and love.

Sing every language is a secret song
Let's all sing along
Sing neither one of us is right or wrong
Ahhhhhhh

This release marks The Bash Dogs' fifth single release in 2018!  We can only hope that more is on the way!

RIYL: The Doors, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Mystic Braves, Sugar Candy Mountain 




Wednesday, July 18, 2018

FALCON JANE - "GO WITH THE FLOW"

Collage by Phibstuff

Are you seeing what I'm seeing? asks Falcon Jane in this smoky single, "Go With the Flow."  Self-described as "plez rock" -- which I assume stands for pleasure -- vocalist Sarah May delivers a lithesome performance that feels like the first sip of a stiff drink in a hazy dive.  The tracks' warm bed of lush synthesizers and spacey guitars bounce along the simple progression with a quiet grace.  

Despite the easy-going exterior, there's an underlying tension in the track.  The most poignant and sullen lyric comes at the button of the chorus.  May expresses her uneasiness with the status quo, but she keeps on being told not to fight it and to just go with the flow.  With an unwavering resolve, she croons, And I'm used to it.  

It's an unsettling resolution full of conflict but sometimes there is no clear answer to our doubts.  We're forced to pick our battles of when to stand up and when to go with the flow.

Stay tuned for Falcon Jane's new record, Feelin' Freaky, out August 3rd.

RIYL: Mazzy Star, Nap Eyes, Helena Deland, Men I Trust




Tuesday, July 17, 2018

COCO REILLY - "DEFINE YOU"

Collage by Karen Lynch

Nashville singer-songwriter Coco Reilly recently dropped her mesmerizing debut single, "Define You."  Mixing one part Angel Olsen croon with one part Cate le Bon psychedelia, Reilly manages to add her own take on the classic country serenade.

She explores the beginnings of a happy-go-lucky romance that is teetering on the edge of reaching full bloom.  The instrumentals follow suit, blossoming from twangy western ballad to a full-blown far out trip.  Is this love story real or all a hallucination?  The slide motifs slowly warp into mind-bending backward guitar, extending the jam into a "Magical Mystery-esque" realm.  Reilly's audacious embrace of the strange and mysterious are what makes this tune so intriguing.

Check out "Define You" below.  We'll surely be on the lookout for more from Coco Reilly.

RIYL: Angel Olsen, Cate le Bon, Jess Williamson, Quilt, Jane Weaver


Thursday, July 12, 2018

RF SHANNON - "TOOTH ACHE"

Collage by Karen Lynch

RF Shannon is the solo project from Austin-based musician, Shane Renfro.  "Tooth Ache" is the opener to his new sun-soaked LP, Trickster Blues.  Creaking in slowly are the sweeping strokes of a jangly guitar.  As the band falls into place, suddenly a clear desert landscape comes into view.  As if embodying the indie Clint Eastwood, Shannon glides between country blues, psychedelic folk, and even crosses the border into shoegaze. 

Demo'd in Marfa and recorded in Lockhart, Trickster Blues, has Texas cowboy flowing through its veins.  "Tooth Ache" sets the stage and tells a tale of a wandering vagrant who talks of "back roads" and hiding "skeletons."  Inspired by empty countryside drives, this is the perfect backroad song.

Continue the trip with the full-length, Trickster Blues.  Out now!

RIYL: Jess Williamson, Cut Worms, Ray LaMontagne,  Jonathan Wilson


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

LUNAR VACATION - "DAYTIME"

Photo by Karen Lynch

This groovy new jam comes from Atlanta band, Lunar Vacation.  Self-described as "dreamy pool rock," they bring a pleasant mix of breezy analog-sounding synths and surfy guitars together to create intoxicating tunes that want to make you bop.  Seems apropos for summer.

"Daytime" takes its cues from most great songs about unrequited love by combining happy-go-lucky melodies and backbeats with sullen, melancholy lyrics.  With a relatively composed approach to heartache, the band attempts to distract us from these doldrums with dizzy spells of hallucinogenic synth lines.  This is what sets these newcomers apart from their female-fronted indie rock peers.  Their slight foray into sophisticated stonery psychedelia feels like a more refreshing take on the innocent sounds of a young band. 

Check out the rest of their hazy new EP, "Artificial Flavors."

RIYL: Alvvays,  Jay Som, Triathalon, Fazerdaze




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

JESSICA LAUREN - "AMALFI"

Collage by Karen Lynch

London-based pianist, Jessica Lauren, has been an active member of the modern jazz scene since the 1990s.  Admittedly, I hadn't heard much of her music until very recently and I'm ashamed to say that now because it's absolutely timeless.  Lauren's latest release, Almería, is a soft reflection into Mediterranean-inspired jazz and soul sounds that harken back to '60s world legends like Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66 but with an even more expansive Afro-Beat influence.  

"Amalfi" is the perfect example of this with it's bouncing bossa nova backbeat and hypnotically catchy piano line that echoes on as the band rests for an 8-count.  The vocal melody careens next to a whispering flute line that bops and up and down effortlessly, then breaking into a soothing harmony over the groovy electric piano that holds the beat together.  The chord changes are exciting and keep the listener guessing with each new movement.

 Gliding like a feather, "Amalfi" feels like a cool breeze on a sunny day.  It's relaxing and inviting, coaxing the listener to put away any troubles in favor of a coastline drive.  Even if jazz isn't your thing, Jessica Lauren's "Amalfi" will make you feel right at home with her minimalist arrangements and melodic songwriting.  

Check out her full-length, Almería, out now!

RIYL: Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66, Ernie Hawks & the Soul Investigators, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Yazmin Lacey


Thursday, July 5, 2018

RIP RICHARD SWIFT PLAYLIST



We lost one of the most innovate musicians this week.  Richard Swift passed away on July 3rd, 2018 at the age of 41.  He leaves behind an incredible mark on indie rock music with a wide variety of incredible credits to his name, working with acclaimed acts like The Shins, The Arcs, Foxygen, Damien Jurado, Tennis, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Kevin Morby, and the list goes on and on...

Swift created a signature sound that blended lo-fi retro production with a uniquely contemporary flare.  In the age of generic, glossy pop producers who embellish with gaudy techniques and state of the art equipment, Swift was the champion of the DIY method and quickly rose to become a producing mastermind.  He left his imprint on any record and create a soundscape full of depth and heart.  Here are my Swift Essentials:

 1. RICHARD SWIFT - "LADY LUCK"

"Lady Luck" is the definition of cool and perfectly illustrates Richard Swift's style in one song.  The galloping drum and bass intro can't be beaten.  Triumphant piano hits accompany Swift's barrage of soaring falsetto harmonies.  The verse displays Swift's signature fuzzy vocal tone while still somehow feeling so incredibly pure.





2. SHANNON SHAW - "FREDDIES & TEDDIES"

Swift's final credit comes on Shannon Shaw's solo debut, Shannon in Nashville, alongside bandmate and friend Dan AuerbachCredited with the drum/percussion track, we feel Swift's presence from the rip.  The backbeat rollicks in setting the pace for this minor-key jam.  Swift excels at propelling those he's backing up into the stratosphere, adding licks on the synthesizers, piano, and background vocals.





3. KEVIN MORBY - "DRY YOUR EYES"

After the news of Swift's passing, indie stars began posting tributes all over social media.  One of the most touching came from Kevin Morby who recalled Swift sitting on the recording of "Dry Your Eyes."  The two created a melancholy masterpiece where Swift once again inspires those he works with to do great things.  This track is a beautiful, simplistic tune that feels like two friends letting the tapes roll.





4. VALERIE JUNE - "SHAKEDOWN"

Contemporary folk-blues songwriter, Valerie June, turned to Richard Swift on her second full-length, The Order of Time.  Swift signed on as producer, mixer, and also performed drums & keys on the record.  One of the high notes is the energetic 2-step, "Shakedown. "  The staccato electric piano hits, fuzzy solos, and earthy background vocals elevate June's songwriting and provide a lush bed of tones for her incredibly versatile vocal style.




5. DAMIEN JURADO - "A.M. AM"

Good friends, Richard Swift, and singer-songwriter Damien Jurado have collaborated on multiple projects throughout their equally illustrious careers and on Jurado's 2016 effort, Visions of Us on the Land, he recruits Swift to be his producer on this elegant and psychedelic spiritual journey of a record.  This the third in an epic trilogy of albums sees Jurado utilizing Swift's expertise to create an otherworldly sonic realm reminiscent to that of fellow Seattle-natives, Fleet Foxes.  "A.M. AM" is a flourish of spacey synths, chugging drums, and a cavalcade of angelic vocals.  Swift gives us a taste of his timeless vision.





6. SPRINGTIME CARNIVORE - "NAME ON A MATCHBOOK"

Greta Morgan called on Richard Swift for three songs from the Springtime Carnivore self-titled debut.  A match made in heaven, "Name on a Matchbook," feels like a lost track from Swift's 2009 retro-pop masterpiece, The Atlantic Ocean.  With reverb-y whistles at the start, and Morgan's crooning vocals taking center stage, Swift provides the ammo to ensure she floats atop the track with a throwback delay and epic backing "ahhs."





7. FOXYGEN - "IN THE DARKNESS"

Possibly one of the best creative teams of Richard Swift's career came when he took the reigns of Foxygen's flawless psychedelic-pop odyssey, We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.  Foxygen songwriter, Jonathan Rado, held Swift in a heroic light and he got the chance to befriend him on this project that turned out to be a perfect melding of the minds.  Kicking off the record, "In the Darkness" showcases both Rado & Swift's melodic strong points and sets the tone for the tripped out opus. Swift is able to tame the wild and debaucherous band known for their offstage antics, and organize Rado's ideas into a cohesive album of pure gold that to this day, serves as the crowning achievement for the band.





8. MARCO BENEVENTO - "DROPKICK"

Esteemed pianist, Marco Benevento, made a career on his virtuoso stylings and epic jams.  After a string of LPs showcasing his progressive instrumentalisms, Benevento got the courage to start singing and writing more pop-oriented tunes.  He turned to Richard Swift to help him produce a more "indie-minded" record, that he aptly named Swift.   Single, "Dropkick," shows Marco's new sound in the best light possible as Swift takes his ramblings and adds texture to the hooks and brings a more dynamic layer.  Just another case of Swift making his friends sound the very best they can.





9. RICHARD SWIFT - "MG 333"

Although there are other records that could be mentioned (Tennis, The Shins, Cults, The Arcs, etc), my last two picks come from my favorite Richard Swift record, Walt Wolfman.  This is the voice of Swift I love the best.  It's innovative, raw, deep, wonderful and strange.  "MG 333" plays almost like an instrumental jam, with a sputtering drum/percussion groove that feels like an ode to CAN's "Vitamin C."  Swift's crooning falsetto lines fuzzy around from side to side and overlap creating a hazy of soulful goodness.  The last minute of the tune drops so pleasantly into a fast-paced lo-fi video gamey sample that bops and boops until the track fizzles and fades.  I can't think of anything more pleasing.





10. RICHARD SWIFT - "WHITMAN"

"Whitman" is, in my opinion, Swift's most expansive display of pop creativity.  Playing out like a contemporary Harry Nilsson track, he sings an ode to the literary great, Walt Whitman.  Striking with such sincerity Swift sings, "Trying hard to do what you did, what you did."  It's such a pure expression of admiration and love and he does it in the best way he knows how.  The vocal line is pure Swift with his gorgeous signature falsetto backings that croon along with the melody.  It hurts to have lost such an incredible talent, and I can only hope that in the future someone will sing a tribute song to Richard Swift the way he does for Walt Whitman here.




Check out my full Richard Swift playlist here: