Welcome to the Back of the Rack! Every month we compile a ten song mixtape of up and coming artist as well as bands whom maybe you haven’t had a chance to listen to yet. January’s BOTR is filled with great tunes including a punk rock love song, a smooth singing songwriter from across the pond, a Denver based group that puts you right next to the river, and an Austin based rock band that will have their song in your head all day. And of course much more!
Diarrhea Planet – Babyhead
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Genre: Indie Punk
Is it just me or is Diarrhea Planet steaming all over the internet? “Babyhead”, from their forthcoming effort “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams” is a punk garage shut-up-and-listen rock song. Is that some Ace Frehley or maybe The Darkness in some of those licks? It’s awesome. Everything about it screams garage rock, but the lyrics tell a love story of a girl who wants to change a guy. In a recent interview, lead songwriter Jordan Smith stated that, “It’s the only love song I’ve ever written.” Which makes sense because even with the lyrics the crunchy hair metal licks, four electric guitars, thumping bass, and sporadic drumming sounds more like a love song worthy of a moshpit. \II/.
Paperbird – Blood & Bones
Hometown: Denver, CO
Genre: Indie Folk
‘Sweet river flowin’ – please take my soul – my blood and bones’. What a line. Between the opening lyric and the bluesy laid back guitar riff the song settles into a flowing rhythm unfolding a number of sections that gives me the impression that some distance has been traveled… dare I say, down a river? Paperbird’s “Blood and Bones” has warm harmonies that are a combo of low brass instruments and soprano “Ooo’s”. The chorus is so likeable, the words draw out a little behind the beat and builds to a satisfyingly full finish. An ambient guitar solo is quickly followed by a scatted vocal bridge (hell yes!) Throughout the song, backing harmonies are of just as equal importance as the other instruments which seems to add to the ‘flowing river’ theme. The cherry on top is the gospel finish, just like a closing hymn in church.
George Ezra – Budapest
Hometown: Bristol, UK
To get the most out of George Ezra’s “Budapest”, before hitting play, think about that one person whom you love so dearly that you would drop everything immediately if that needed you. From its initial chord, ‘Budapest’ gave me the feeling it was written on the road. The almost too steady chord progression and bass are the wheels that keep this track rollin’ down the long and winding road. His lyrics name off all of the things in his life that are special to him and then proclaim, “But for you, woo, I’d leave it all”. That line is an exceptionally crafted hook when you hear him sing it. It’s simple, but something doesn’t have to be difficult to be good. There is a dreamy synth accompanying quiet electric power chords to add just a bit of flair, but his soulful and honest voice is the focal point. From Bristol, this still new artist is primed for some traction.
The Boxing Lesson – Endless Possibilities
Hometown: Austin, TX
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
I am a big fan of the intro in The Boxing Lesson’s “Endless Possibilities”. The initial 30 seconds put me in the beginning of a Scooby-Doo episode… and then boom! Saxophone out of nowhere! Thank you. A movement then takes place musically where the sounds slowly begin to break up and then reverberate like a ripples in water when a stone is dropped. When the bass comes into the mix I get a visual very much like the picture above; an alien ship blasting off and then cruising slowly over a highly populated city – at lunchtime. The lyrics appear almost out of nowhere and are dealing with overarching and epic themes of life. The song seems to be talking about the submersion people can feel in life just because of all the possible outcomes and the hopelessness that can come from that. But fear not, when life gives you lemons, just rip a kickass guitar solo. There is a contemplative bridge for the listener which gives you the chance to soak up everything you just heard.
Kaiser Chiefs – Misery Company
Hometown: Leeds, UK
Genre: Industrial Rock
Echoing guitar, dirty bass, and a splash of organ really gets Kaiser Chiefs industrial tune going. The Transylvania sounding organ gives this song its creepiness, but the hysterically laughing chorus gives the song its insanity. “Misery Company” has everything you want in a dark and playful song. It’s like the theme for a Halloween roller coaster ride at the fair. The second verse has this quiet off-balance back up vocal who is playing off the lyrics in the song and adds to the impression that the singer is talking to himself. Very Patrick Bateman of him to do so. The band, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, England are a four piece and, with songs like this one, have an arena ready sound. It’s fun to imagine what that laughing chorus would sound like with 20,000 fans singing along. HAHahahaAHAhaahahAHah!!
Knox Hamilton – Work It Out
Hometown: Austin, TX
Genre: Indie Pop
Knox Hamilton’s “Work it out” is one of those tunes that has everything you want in a radio friendly pop song. It will undoubtedly give you the ‘head bobs’. It has a ridiculously catchy chorus, it has an intro that comes flying through the sky dripping star tears onto you before whisking you away on a magic carpet ride over the Caribbean. That carpet ride really gets started with the echoing synthesizer and beachy guitar picking just before the verse. The fast paced acoustic guitar in the verse helps calm down the speed of the song but certainly never really lets off accelerators. After 2 minutes of blissful rocking the gang invites you to a soft landing back on the ground, most likely near a beach.
Isle of Rhodes – Islands
Hometown: New York City, NY
Genre: Indie Rock
Juxtaposed to the title of the song, Isle of Rhodes’ “Islands” is far from an isolation inducing track. The song has a very simple and powerful delivery. The lyrics are super straight forward about how truly unified man by taking a few steps back and viewing the cycle of life overall. It’s true folks, we’re all connected like the interwebs. The goosebumps usually kick in when the chorus screams “and no man is an island”. This could best be categorized as a rocking lullaby for kids from ages 6-Adult. Aside from the song, I also highly recommend the music video that plays out a wonderfully imaginative story of a bearded and island bound man who finds a very unusual way back home. The best part of the characters day? I’d say riding a shark bareback while getting a massage from a giant squid.
Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons – Hurricane
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Genre: Country Pop
“Hurricane” by Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons is a grimy Texas country pop song transplanted to Angela’s hometown of Ohio. The lyrics tells a saucy story of a girl who, as PG-13 as I can, really misses the ‘comfort’ of an older gentlemen who seems to share personality traits with massive weather storms. Perley’s voice is just as seductive and enticing as the distorted blues guitar and the cries she gives before ‘you’re like a hurricane’ gives me glimpses of epic 70’s and 80’s number one’s but with a little more twang. It never gets out of control and stays on point, so the continuity helps with the idea of a swirling storm of a song. Ending the song there is this nice and abrupt stop to the tune which put the imagery in my head of how a tornado can just abruptly disappear like it was never there. Was it on purpose? I don’t know, but it was a nice touch.
Graham Colton – Born To Raise Hell
Hometown: Oklahome City, OK
“Born to Raise Hell”, besides a great grooving song, is a such terrific dark story of a man causing a lot of trouble in loved one’s lives. The trouble he is causing is not this break a beer bottle, smoke a cigarette indoors, drink Old Crow instead of Jack Daniels stuff that you might pick up from the title. No, this guy is doing some messed up shit. It spans his entire life – as a kid when “his stepfather made him cry” which in and of itself is vague and off putting, his teenage years of misdemeanors and jail time, and all the causes that add to the effect of his girlfriend later being ‘found lifeless and bound, behind a tavern’. Dark stuff, certainly, the melancholy ‘Lalala’s’ and kids toy rhythms make the whole song feel not right, maybe like that of a mind of a tortured kid. The music vs. the lyrics make this song very ironic. You get more out of it with every listen. Also, he is friends with Wayne Coyne. Your argument is invalid.
Guardian Ghost – The Wilderness
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Genre: Ambient Rock
What a beautifully ambient song to end this month’s Back of the Rack. “The Wilderness” by Guardian Ghost is a chilling and honest song that wears its heart out on its sleeve. Simple acoustic picking is intertwined with breathy elongated lyrics and a very jazz based drum beat that ties the verse and chorus together nicely. Usually, I am not a fan of anything with auto tune, but the placement is surprising to the listener and sounds like an echo effect was added which is so haunting and pretty at the same time. I think the verses are where this songs really hits its stride. It’s saying a lot, like the song has a weight you could measure; it feels like 35 extra pounds on your chest. And just as quickly as it began, poof, it ends.
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Written by Curtis Ford
OurVinyl | Contributor