The May 2014 edition of the free Back of the Rack mixtape featuring up-and-coming musicians is finally out! And of course, here is the the article explaining a little bit about each act… Just click the button below to begin downloading the album and/or listen to each of this month’s songs below.
Reuben And The Dark – Rolling Stone
Genre: Indie, Folk, Rock
Hearing the words “Rolling Stone” might give most people a particular vision in their head, but the Calgary based Reuben & The Dark do well to stand on their own with this booming and hook heavy song. It’s a colorful tune, but not a lot of bright colors. In fact, mostly blacks and greys; think House Stark. It plays to that with a echoed chant ‘/Like a roll -like a roll/like a roll – like a rolling stone/’ which becomes a war like mantra as well as justification for the actions taking place within the story. This song still has the feel of a campfire sing-a-long in a way, but a fire that is on its last few crackling ambers. The break from the main riff takes us a step further into the woods with a guitar line that renders a young Tom Morello. The bass gives a bit of a pay-off and grooves the final verse along with stubborn percussion to leave breathing for the chanting that is the backing support. The quick return to the dark bridge is a great touch before finishing out the tune as it leaves the listener with reverb and soft humming to ease us into the next song.
Reuben And The Dark’s “Rolling Stone”
Simplifiers – The Only Thing About Love
Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico
Genre: Rock, Fuzz, Indie
This semi-80’s throwback by The Simplifiers entitled “Thing Only Thing About Love” has all sorts of fun and shiny quips of sounds that make this track quite attractive. The fuzzy synth walk down that fills the second half of the intro sets the mood for a
strange place, like a hidden dance club in a big city hidden inside a laundry mat. The vocals are a bellowing anthemic style. Instead of raising the mood in the chorus it lessens the warmth without taking out any energy. There are really nice sprinkles of music dust through-out the song. You can hear quick key phrases that appear once and are gone. The percussion mainly stays in the pocket but keeps a re-occuring high hat raise at the end of a bar to keeps to a systematic performance. The verses are full of long lyrical couplets that hint back to Gary Numan and his style of singing. To be named The Simplifiers this Mexico City based group gives us a song full of turns and complex sounds that is a firm juxtaposition to their name. Perhaps on purpose?
Simplifiers’ “The Only Thing About Love”
Neulore – Shadow of a Man
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Folk, Alternative
There is an Eastern feel just at the beginning of “Shadown of a Man” that preface a open wale to loosen up a song that is very lyrically strong by the Nashville based group Neulore. There are a few lines that are put together about as well as you could ask for as a listener. Long looping howls fill in most of the empty space between verses. One line says “…lets burn the boats back to who we use to be..” has me curious. It just sounds right when it is sung, but am I missing out on an old wives tale or something of the sort? The vocal melody paints most of the vibrance in the song and the percussion are a continuous crash of snare and kick. Songwriters Adam Agin and William Cook in their biography state that cinema has a lot to do with their inspiration musically, saying that certain songs take on certain scenes, like a movie. This song is a flare of illumination; “Light your torch and follow me” depicts a person who has seem to have found a secret and wants to show us. The song speaks of past innocence and that is possibly what they are wanting to burn the boat back to. Alas, “Shadow of a Man” is one that will linger in your thoughts.
Neulore’s “Shadow of a Man”
Armand Margjeka – Castles
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Genre: Folk, Singer-Songwriter
Amarnd Margjeka’s road weary voice and subconscious strumming start off a smooth tune named “Castles”. Priming bass fills the space before a quick and quiet verse stalls us just enough for the rhythm section to deliver a wake up call from the day dream that was the opening segment. The rhythm section also plays a few subtle beat changes in the middle of some bars to keep an otherwise lull moment in a song considerably stimulating. The song bounces steady and continues to add parts like a living organism. Every verse is layered more and more, very cake like, with round strings arrangements being used like frosting. The Albanian born musician is most likely classified as a folk singer, but there are a lot of other influences swirling around in this track that hint to other styles such as soul, pop, and maybe, due to his recent home, a bit of country. The Birmingham, Alabama based Margjeka is releasing his new album, Hummingbird, June 10th and will be playing a hand full of dates in support in New York, Birmingham, and Pennsylvania.
Armand Margjeka’s “Castles”
Deqn Sue – Magenta
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Genre: Pop, R&B, Electronic
A playful western piano riff starts this color infused electronic pop song that is correctly titled “Magenta”. At first you don’t know if it is going to be a dance or rock song with an opening section that adds by subtracting and can best be described as the white canvas. Singer Deqn Sue seems to be a filled crayon box of emotions and this song is the sorting out of these disturbances. Sue’s voice is explaining why being one shade of a color is close to impossible: “it’s not envy or jealousy, so it can’t be green/i’m a little bit scared but I won’t run/so I can’t be yella..”, but the song itself seems to be sifting through the crayon box as well. Each section of this song incorporates a new style or ‘color’ that adds but doesn’t necessarily alter the song in a significant way. The bridge can not be talked about enough. It goes from this dance forward club pink sound to a R&B blue with a flawless outcome. The bass jumps out of the speakers on this one, so listen up! Sue’s voice is powerful and no doubt can fill up a room with any note she would want to hit.
Deqn Sue’s “Magenta”
DZ Deathray – Reflective Skull
Hometown: Brisbane, Queensland
Genre: Metal, Fuzz Pop, Indie
Bring me the metal. Freddy Krueger nightmare guitars and sleazy vocals thicken this horror movie rock anthem by Australian born DZ Deathray entitled “Reflective Skull”. With a name like DZ Deathray, and hearing the opening notes for the first time, a picture of a cobweb infested hallway inside a rotting haunted house emerges, but then the vocals really take you for a spin. Where did that come from? Lead singer Shane Parson’s voice is the main entity that keeps a pop influence alive in the overall sound that keeps the group friendly and also reminds me of Perry Farrell. It hits slow and low in the verse like trashy punk, builds with a call and response pre-chorus worthy of top 40, and then drops into a head-banging dose of metal that should please any mosh-pitter’s thirst. Parson’s and drummer Simon Ridley together won Best Independent Hard Rock album in 2012 at the Independent Music Awards for their first album, “Bloodstreams”. Their forthcoming album, “Black Rat”, is due out June 9th with the duo crawling through Europe dropping their black magic pop into every innocent heart they can get a hold of. God help them all.
DZ Deathray’s “Reflective Skull”
Clintongore – I Need A Star
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Genre: Indie, Electronic, Synth Pop
Fairy dust and sparkles ignite this electronic love song by Clintongore called “I Need a Star”. A quick paced drum machine with obtuse synth accompany a pillow talk voice for a verse explaining the fervent love the singer has in a seemingly dis-interested boy. The chorus’ backbone is the heavy hitting guitar that is filled in alongside bright neon synths that come and go and then reappear with every new listen. Following a tongue rolling chorus by singer Sierra Frost a guitar solo lights up the mood like a Burning Man rave. Her voice gives the impression of timid curiosity with a flare for excitement. This is a song that you put on when the party needs to keep going. It conveys a passionate amount of party but also has a bit of a sensitive side. What she is singing about is a question of connection: “..so say goodnight and make my day..” You feel bad for her, but when she unleashes the chorus you start to think that maybe she’s gonna be ok after all.
Clintongore’s “I Need A Star”
Volcanoes – When We Melodise
Genre: Indie, Folk
The definition of Melodise is to make melody with strings and vocal tones in a continuous manner. “When We Melodise” by Volcanoes could ostensibly be described within this definition. An accompaniment of strings start the stirring of the smokey cauldron. An echoing light strum is the haunting structure and the plucks of vilions, cellos, and guitars shade a ambient thought-provoking moment. The song rises like cooked bread. The verse section brings in a new set of synchronized harmonies presenting words in a tone of importance, wisdom, and a bit of sorrow that act as additional ingredients to this melodise pot. Overlapping vocals bounce the proverbial ball between your ears that is all pleasing as a good game of Pong. The percussion is scarse, even when it finally enters three-fourths of the way into the song. The song keeps it spacing and breathes like it was recorded on the edge of a green mountain overlook. Hailing from Yorkshire, Volcanoes first record entitled Radiogeist will be released later this year.
Volcanoes’ “When We Melodise”
Jettison Tape – Ghostboxes
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Genre: Psych, Lo-Fi, Electronic
Crackled speaking and muffled giggling scary enough to make you turn on your night light start the spontaneous sound ride that is appropriately titled “Ghostboxes” by Canadian based musicians Jettison Tape. The timing is an almost constant state of change, maneuvering through sounds and spaces as if passing through the plasma of ghost bodies and hearing the music in their heads. Ambient synth converge with quick picking guitars as well as dance friendly percussion. No vocals can be found besides the opening line which is practically non-recognizable which forces the ear to focus on all the strange movements being made musically. It sounds more like a theme song to the first few minutes you wake up from your sleeping state and can’t figure out whether to brush your teeth, quit your job, or take a walk. It’s a very cinematic song. Maybe you’re not really sure what picture or scene it is painting for you but, regardless, there is a picture in your head. It’s difficult to pinpoint this song, which is a good thing. It just is what it is; a beautiful interpretation of sounds mixed to form some sort of congruent message. The song ends with a slow exit of instruments before the final scene: a spaceship shooting high above into the stars like a flash of light and out of sight. Not really knowing if it was there or not.
Jettison Tape’s “Ghostboxes”
Wax Roof – Get Through
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Genre: Hip-Hop, Instrumental, Soul
We didn’t know who Wax Roof was here at OurVinyl, but now that we do we want the rest of that the wax house so we can burn the roof down with it. “Get Through”, if it has a main purpose, is to move your body. It is the sexiest of the songs in this month’s Back of the Rack with parts of smooth jazz, candle-lit latin guitar, hip-hop beat machine, and New Orleans styled horns. This is a song you play on the days you lose your keys, screw up at work, run out of gas, and come home to an empty house and no girlfriend. A break-up in the bridge spins us like a we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore slow grooving storm. The guitar melody is so strong that lyrics seems like they would take away from the story being told. It does an amazing job of clearing your head like a No. 2 eraser. It suspends in a city sky full of scattered building lights, honking taxi horns, and tired souls heading home. It says so much with a simple conversation of instruments with “Get Through” being the perfect title for the song. The saxophone solo pierces into your temple and shuts up all the nonsense, whatever it is, that your are telling yourself. Listen to it, and then listen to it again. Then listen twice more.
Wax Roof’s “Get Through”
Written by Curtis Ford
Our Vinyl | Contributor
Album Cover by Jessica Yohn