Welcome all you green wearing music lovers! We have yet another Back of the Rack that is oozing with solid jams that will go along nicely with a pint or two in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, or while you are watching some NCAA basketball . It will be enjoyable any other day or month afterwards as well. But we digress, this month’s edition discusses God (but not in the knock-on-your-door-and-tell-you-about-Jesus way), some space inspired indie-rock, and a healthy dose of an all-instrumental group that will keep your body bopping. Plus more… Enjoy! (to download the album just click the button below)
Hometown: San Francisco
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Rock n Roll
“Galaxy Punk” is a space storm whirlwind created with intergalactic themed guitar tracks, extended howls, and universal clapping that affix to the snare for a huge kick in the Spaceballs. (That enough space jokes for you? There’s more.) Sleepy Sun, the five-piece San Francisco group really take charge of the ear as soon as you start listening. The open and slightly slower chorus is the resting place in the song before pushing it back to hyper drive with Millineum Falcon lead guitar before ending with a fall from grace ending. In the background there seems to be a swirling of sorts which lends to this star woven punk sound. The group met while students at UC Santa Cruz, and you can hear their musical roots descend into the old school California psychedelic rock style – but with a contemporary kick in the pants!
Sleepy Sun’s “Galaxy Punk”
Hometown: Calgary, Canada
Genre: Singer Songwriter, Indie
Francis Cheer is the brain child of John Gerrard, and “You and I” is a story about him and his love as well as a comparison on their relationship juxtaposed to Peter, who is the verses main character. The lyrics tell the story of Peter finding a good woman and finding a ‘decent ring’ and telling her ‘decent things’ before sadly losing her and then finding his way again ‘believing he was saved’. Real rays of sunshine this song is, eh? So the story is a wide angle view of a crushed attempt at love for poor Peter, but the chorus introduces a couple who seem to thrive with a very simple approach to love: “You and I were always wasting time.” The idea is something worth thinking about as well, where true lovers do not need to make an effort to say “decent things” because they’re too busy having fun, or, “wasting time”. The backing harmonies are active throughout the song before a pseudo ending – then a finale that stirs the song like a big cauldron of home made vegetable soup.
Francis Cheer’s “You and I”
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Genre: Indie rock
Campfire Ok’s “When You Have Arrived” is an epic arching story of success and what it means to the individual. It begins in a stir of intense echoed piano chords before curtly stating ‘We’re on a hunt for people like you”. The lyrics describe the frustration of self growth and the lack of illumination that can come with furthering yourself. “Tell me how you know when you arrived” – it’s a line that I think everyone can relate to. But do we really ever arrive? Discussions for other days… The song does not change dramatically but more so gradually. The upright jazzy bass, splashy shaker and dense tom drums awaken after a “heavier dose of your deja voodoo” line that will catch you off guard with a very pale female voice whispering it in your ear. We are pleasantly surprised when the break down brings us to a Creole Trumpet solo that sounds like it was recorded on Canal Street at 5 a.m.. That is the one-two punch for this track along with a honest lyric hook.
Campfire OK’s “When You Have Arrived”
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Genre: Alt country, Americana
It has been said that everybody is in too big of a hurry to enjoy anything anymore. The Maldives would probably disagree. “I’m Gonna Try” is a slow moving and thought provoking tune that listens just as good the 74th time as the first. The lyrics are stretched apart and the space is filled with simple questions both large and small. – “Who are you?”, “How do you do?”, “Why do we die?” It is almost as if he is speaking to God, who better else to answer the questions the Maldives have set before us, no? The delivery of the vocals adds to the ambiance and allows the listener to settle into the lay-z-boy the song has pulled up. This song is something you would want to hear right when you wake up or before you go to bed. They have been described at ‘alt-country-transcendant’ and that triad is about as accurate as you can get. Picture a Tennessee born Dalai-Lama wearing Vans. Their third album, “Muscle For The Wing” is definitely worth the listen.
The Maldives’ “I’m Gonna Try”
Hometown: Western Wisconsin & Los Angeles, California
Genre: Singer songwriter, Pop rock
This easy-riding Americana song by Nick Shattuck, called “Your Heart”, is driven by a growling whisper vocal and snappy drums with a touch of tambourine to thicken up the larger sections. Not to mention, a bridge that incorporates gospel styled back-ups which breathe a bit of new life before dropping down to the verse. Violin can be heard creeping around the room like a house fly. Nick is from Western Wisconsin but now resides in L.A. The song’s lyrics are based around the idea that love can be quite confusing at times, to the extent that it can slip into your regular day actions. He makes a great point worth repeating: ‘You can’t find your way without your soul.’ The Midwest inspired songs on “Up Late, Dreaming” are intimate folk-indie notions put in a way that’s easy to listen to.
Nick Shattuck’s “Your Heart”
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Genre: Indie rock, Americana
“Dread Fearsome” is quite an interesting notion formed by the four-piece Indianapolis based group, Bonesetter. The first line pulls you in with ‘if I were a God I’d be a dread fearsome God’, which, in and of itself is stimulating. Is God scared of his own power? Even further, if this character was God, he’d still run to her and hold her until the world died. (Thanks a lot, God!) But that type of thinking is pride fueled anyway, and that proves to be true when the crunch of electric guitars and crying violins enter the stage right as the plight and reality soaked chorus makes its first appearance. The ending section touches on the god theme with echoed godly wordless howls and surf styled lead guitar fill the space alongside syncopated drumming and modest rattlesnake like shakers. And a sudden ending to a song which can be viewed as a large analogy to life; there is no good way to end it. So it goes.
Bonesetter’s “Dread Fearsome”
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Genre: Progressive pop, Indie rock
Odd Owl has your head bobbing from the first second with its tune “The Way Home”. There is a very similar feel to ‘Old Man’ by Neil Young but with a Spanish pizazz. The third line when she says, “and it makes me think of You” is the moment I’m talking about, did you hear it? This is not a bad thing at all, considering Neil was a bit of a odd owl himself. This track breathes really well. It’s evenly separated between quick and fun licks, story board lyrics, very pop-catchy doot-doot’s, and then spacey notes that gives the song a chance to settle in like a bed sheet floating back down to the bed. Carmen Caruso, lead singer and writer, is a classically trained musician and it shines through with an array of constant slight shifts alongside ukele plucking to further fill-up the sound. Very much like an odd owl, the song has strange pieces, but it can still fly.
Odd Owl’s “The Way Home”
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee & London, England
Genre: Rock n roll
Steelism brings the thunder with this throwback funk euphoria they have named “Midnight Fetz”. Steelism is interesting for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that they are an instrumental group. Some people possibly see this as a handcuff, but they seem to embrace it whole-heartedly. It forces them keep the music attractive, which is exactly what they achieve. The lap steel played by London native Spencer Cullum, Jr. is the natural part taking place of vocals, and it carries off the listener on a wordless story of sounds, which can sometimes be more compelling than a memory of your old dog. After trying to come up with something fancy, all I can think to say about – collectively – the lead guitar, drums and bass is that they are simply nasty. The bass and drum are pumping man-sized amounts of blood through a big funky heart at an alarming rate. The looser parts are still punchy without being boring. There are moments where you can hear flange earthling ambiance (lap steel possibly?) to make you listen for it again and then poof! It’s gone. There is a wonderful slight of hand ending with a complete break down build back with the original riff that Galactic would approve of. Look out for these guys.
Steelism’s “Midnight Fetz”
Hometown: Dublin, Ireland
Genre: Indie rock, Progressive pop
Tara’s “Stars” has an unraveling beginning like balled yarn rolling across the floor. The bass and drums keeps the song moving at a quick pace, but you can still groove to this song. The first verse makes you feel like you’re swimming in a pool of plasma. It has a lot of energy around it. Building a second level of vocals, Tara, uses a turntable styled scratch effect over the words “Shine my light” like a spin dial that jazzes it up. The band does not let up once they reach the booming chorus. Tara is in the same field as, say, Florence and the Machine, but she is using different attacks of music with a slightly grungier and post modern outcome. The Australia based artist now lives in Dublin and there is no doubt that this setting will surely bring on newer and more absorbing sounds. I’m thinking a 40 person golden harp orchestra. That. Would. Be. Awesome.
Hometown: Columbia, South Carolina
Genre: Singer songwriter
“Hold on Hurricane” comes from singer/songwriter Cancellieri, otherwise known as multi-instrumentalist Ryan Hutchens from Columbia, SC. The acoustic guitar is a cyclical riff that sets up nicely for a song which is lyrically focused. But don’t take away from the instruments however, there is some subtle organ, synth, and a steel guitar that sounds a tad inebriated, and it fits perfectly. My favorite line is the ending one: “I can’t sit on a cloud without falling through”. It’s a human flaw when we’re talking about the ability of angels like this song, and it just sounds so sad for some reason but that makes it a great line to leave the listener lingering on. The lyrics are talked out as to where you must listen a bit harder which reminds me of an old saying, “If you want someone to listen to you, lower your voice, don’t raise it.”
Cancellieri’s “Hold On Hurricane”
Written by Curtis Ford
OurVinyl | Contributor
Album Cover by Sarah Grace Moorehead