Hello and welcome to the June 2013 issue of OurVinyl’s Back of the Rack – where we showcase some of the best new sounds in up-and-coming music. You may not have heard of many artists in this month’s issue just yet, but we’re pretty confident that after our introduction, this won’t be the last. We have something for everyone this month, so don’t be afraid to dive right in.
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Smooth Hound Smith – “Get Low”
Los Angeles, California/Nashville, Tennessee
Genre: Folk, Blues, Soul
Creedence Clearwater Revival is a big influencer of Smooth Hound Smith, a folk-blues trio that split their time between Los Angeles and Nashville. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Zack Smith and vocalist/percussionist Caitlin Doyle make up the band, who frequently record their own work. Using hard hitting percussion, distorted guitars, harmonicas, and vocals, Smooth Hound Smith take blues and folk to a weird yet inviting place. Take classic renditions of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll, throw it in a blender with the internet age, and Smooth Hound Smith is the cream that rises to the top.
Andy Shauf – “Hometown Hero”
“The Bearer of Bad News”, Andy Shauf’s most recent release, is the artist’s first full-length effort in over four years. Raised on a prairie in Canada, Shauf released his debut “Darker Days” in 2008, his EP “Waiting For The Sun To Leave” in 2010, and two years later, 2012’s “Sam Jones Feeds His Demons EP.” While Shauf’s sounds has been honed in and sounds better than ever, the mood of his work has taken a swing towards the darker in his latest release. Using a piano, drums, guitar, clarinet, and his voice, Shauf recorded all 11 tracks on his newest release in his basement, before being professionally produced and engineered. It’s a can’t miss.
Shakey Graves – “Roll the Bones”
Genre: Blues, folk
Shakey Graves’ flavor of blues and folk comes with a strong aftertaste of bizarre. From off-putting warping sounds at the beginning of this track, “Roll the Bones,” to the cover image of a man wearing the head of a cattle on the LP of the same name, it can be hard to figure out if you should feel relaxed and carefree when listening to the one-man show, or if you should be on edge. It’s safe to say Shakey Graves intended for these emotions to clash when listening, as if one was walking the tight rope between a fun dream, and a dreary nightmare.
Max Garcia Conover – “Evergreen Cemetery”
Genre: Indie, acoustic
Named Maine’s Best New Act in the Portland Best Music Awards last year, Max Carcia Conover has been making a stir with his third recording effort and first full-length album, “Burrow.” A finger-picking guitarist, Max Farcia Conover croons over “Evergreen Cemetery,” which can’t help but bring comparisons to Bon Iver’s most recent effort, “Bon Iver, Bon Iver.” “These songs are about digging in, or trying to, through the work that we do and the art that we make,” said Conover in a recent piece by his hometown paper, “The Post-Journal.” We think that description fits perfect.
Won Over Nothing – “Self Destruct Button”
Genre: Folk punk, rock
As per their Facebook page, Won Over Nothing makes “music to march to, in the street, brandishing a gas mask and briefcase. Music to curl up to, in a bathtub fully clothed with the shower running.” “Self Destruct Button” doesn’t deviate from this mantra, an anthemic single that seems to be a call to those with sleepy eyes and covered ears to the world that surrounds them. A hypothetical call to arms, “Self Destruct Button” gives a push in the right direction, urging us all to look at things a little closer. Some great guitar riffs, and Simon Trafford’s perfect vocals don’t hurt, either.
Over The Ocean – “Riverbed”
Genre: indie, rock
Formed in 2008, Over The Ocean looks to craft meaningful, stop-you-in-your-tracks music – stuff you know you need some quality headphones and a good stretch of unoccupied time to enjoy. Pulling influences from the likes of Radiohead, Tom Waits and Sigur Ros, “Riverbed” is off of the five-piece’s most recent effort, “Be Given to the Soil,” produced by the acclaimed Jeremy S.H. Griffith (Underoath, Gasoline Heart.) The release is on the darker, passionate side, opting for experimentation over catchy pop-hooks, defined nicely by the single featured here, “Riverbed.”
Matthew Barber – “Insanity or Death”
Genre: acoustic, pop
Unlike a number of tracks in this month’s issue, Matthew Barber’s track “Insanity or Death” is a more light hearted offer. The lyrics may not agree, as Barber laments the world he’s living in, but the guitar melodies and upbeat rhythm section beg to differ. Matthe Barber has released seven records in his decade long career so far, touring Canada, Europe, and the United States extensively through that time. Matthew Barber is just as likely to play live as a solo artist or as part of a band, though he does primarily do all of his own songwriting, including this track, “Insanity or Death.”
Sunjacket – “Grandstanders”
Opening with guitar drenched in reverb, Sunjacket’s “Grandstanders” soon widens into something more similar of math-rock band Battles, with quick, sharp, guitar bites and harmonic vocals filling in behind. The Chicago five-piece wrote and record a 4-track EP of sorts this February, featured as a four “album” download on their Bandcamp, coupled with some beautiful artwork. Having just formed a month earlier, the effort is an impressive one, with “Grandstanders” working as a cornerstone on the release.
Coyotes – “When We’re Gone”
New Orleans, Louisinana
Genre: Americana, indie
Described by Paste Magazine as “burn(ing) with confidence and swagger,” it’s hard to believe the three piece Coyotes was put together in Los Angeles. Their sound is a much better fit for their new hometown, New Orleans, where vocalist Duz Mancini’s signiture twang and “whiskey-soaked” vocals can shine. “When We’re Gone” plays as a great introduction to the band’s sound, showcasing their alt-country roots throughout. The band’s five track EP, released just this March, is available via their Bandcamp page.
The Invincible Summer – “The Edge”
Genre: pop, indie
Having been recently compared to hit groups like Fun, M83, Foster the People and Coldplay, The Invincible Summer has some big shoes to fill. The group certainly has the intellect to do so, as the group’s name was derived from a quote in Albert Camus’ literary staple, “The Stanger,” and they’ve shown some great promise in the music they’ve made so far, including “The Edge,” featured here. Stationed in Sydney, Austraila, the group plans to drop their first full-length LP later this year.
Alpine – “Gasoline”
Genre: indie, pop
Last but not least, Melbourne based six-piece Alpine crafts upbeat pop music with bright rhythms, entrancing synths, and exciting guitar work. The band is fresh off the release of their most successful work, 2012’s full-length effort “A is for Alpine.” The record received “Australian Album of the Year” from the influential “The Age Newspaper,” and debuted at #1 on the Australian iTunes charts. “Gasoline” doesn’t let down on the lofty expectations, a toe-tapper from the initial guitar lick through to the last note.
That’s it for June’s issue of Back of the Rack. We hope it’s the perfect kick-off to your summer this year, and the soundtrack to all of June’s parties, bashes, late-night walks, and romantic get-togethers. Don’t forget to check back in at the beginning of July, when we’ll refresh your earbuds with some brand new tracks for you to get down with. Until then, don’t forget to support your favorite artists in this month’s issue with social media follows, album downloads, and going to see them live on stage. See you next month!
About the Artist:
Ily Phelps is a graphic artist and illustrator living and working in Nashville, and has worked with OurVinyl’s Back of the Rack in a number of past issues.
Dean Goranites | Associate Editor