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ROBBERIES: BAND THEFT AUTO
August 25, 2016 9:22 am

 

With the internet allowing music to be at our finger tips without having to pay for it, many bands tour around the country in packed vans as their only way to make real money. Touring is fun. Going to places you’ve never seen, playing your music to screaming fans every night seems like the dream right? Bands take all their gear, clothes, computers and money and lock it in their vans, thinking it’ll be safe while they go play a show for their fans. By end of the night they come outside and expect to get in their cars and go to the next city. This is when they realize that they’ve been robbed. Everything is gone, from passports and cash to computers and irreplaceable items. This is when touring can go from a dream to a nightmare.

Small independent bands seem to be the biggest target for these types of robberies. Most of these bands reluctantly set up Gofundme pages (an online website where people can donate to a cause) and make posts looking for their stolen gear asking others to keep an eye out for the gear in pawn shops or craigslist.

While fans rally around the bands and support them the best they can, unfortunately most of these cases go unsolved.

Despite all of the difficulties they’ve faced, the outpouring of support can give some bands an optimistic outlook on the situation, while others don’t have the same outlook. Hip-Hop artist Spose, who was robbed in St. Louis, vowed that he would never go back to the city after having his computer and musical equipment stolen. “I had a lot of worked saved to my computer, and some personal things, including pictures of my family,” the rapper said. He wrote on his Facebook page; “I’m done with St Louis, if you want to see me perform in the future come to Chicago or something because St Louis is dead to me.”

It’s hard to imagine having your livelihood stolen right out from underneath you WHILE you are either on your way to the job, or inside DOING the job. For some, it can be devastating, as they may never get back personal items, like a first guitar or computer full of demo tracks. If you see something, speak up, and ALWAYS do what you can to support artists who put their entire lives on the line  to bring music to you. The least you can do is buy some merch!

SCHOOL ’94 EXPLORES NEW DIRECTIONS IN “BOUND” EP
June 10, 2016 12:35 pm

The music of Swedish 4-piece band School ’94 builds an ethereal soundscape, incorporating driving pop-rhythms and cascading synth, characteristic of classic indie/dream pop. That said, the music doesn’t leave you with a shoegazed wall-of-sound sensation. 

The tonalities are crisp, and the transitions are easy to follow. You almost find yourself waiting for the music to reach an apex, and when the sonic wave breaks, you settle back into the song and Alice Botéus’s propulsive vocals. 

School ’94 hails from Gothenburg, Sweden and is a part of Luxury Records. On Jun. 8th of this year the band released Bound, a six track EP, which includes the popular single “Common Sense.” If purchased through Bandcamp, you receive unlimited streaming of the EP through the Bandcamp App, as well as the option for a quality download in MP3 and FLAC file formats. 

Listening to “Bound,” it’s clear that the band has evolved from their 2014 EP Like You, which is rooted in more characteristically indie, subdued melodies that leave you with a sensation similar to bands like The Drums. Even so, this initial sound behooves School ’94 in the early part of their progression as a band.

In Bound, especially in the EP’s title-track, School ’94 embraces the rock element in their music, drawing on heavy-hitting riffs and a sound that flits around the edges of garage rock bands like Fuzz

Still definitely rooted in indie origins, School ’94 is exploring the edges of the dream pop and alt-rock genres. Their sound is buoyant and refreshing in a realm that many bands get stuck in a rut of repetition and imitation.

School ’94 provides a contrast with the more spirited tracks on the EP with songs like “We Turned Out To Be Lovers,” which emphasizes mellow, bass-centric tones. The sweeping vocals and gentle melodies pick you up and carry you through the song, as if the music is preparing you to dive into the next track. 

“Bound” just feels natural, like the band is giving us an insight into their world, rather than forcing out a particular style of music. 

The EP is available online where you can also buy a 12’’ heavy sided vinyl that contains both the “Bound” EP (side A), and the “Like You” EP (side B).

5 HUNKS FROM CHICAGO: WELCOME THE WALTERS
February 11, 2016 10:56 am

Hunk: noun | a handsome man with a well-developed physique.

The Walters are a Chicago 5-piece that posses two qualities: nostalgia for 1960s pop rock and a large dose of irony.  The self-described “hunks” have dubbed their sound “cardigan” rock.  In addition to an active touring schedule, they also claim to be a minor league baseball team that adheres to a strict exercise regimen, although any supporting evidence of such activity is lacking, or at least invisible on the internet. The album cover for their self-released Young Men EP, released this past December, displays The Walters in white turtlenecks, holding a giant blank check. It’s difficult to get passed their facade.  However, once you peel back the layers, you’re left with saccharine sweet vocal harmonies, stripped down guitar riffs, and a steady rhythm section underpinning tightly composed songs.

walters

Uplifting music can be a bit unnerving at times. At face value it’s difficult to take in overt happiness in contemporary music as genuine. Fact: the modern world is scary. With smart phones constantly buzzing in our pockets, and an endless stream of information assailing us from all angles, whether via social media or email, we’re exposed to tragic and disheartening news at an alarmingly rapid clip. With song titles like “Sweet Marie,” “Hunk Beach,” “Goodbye Baby,” and “I Love You So,” The Walters’ feel-good vibe harkens back to a time when music was much simpler.  Comparisons to Beach Boys as well as 50s ‘doo-wop’ groups are befittingly abound.  Although skepticism is understandable at first, their accessible and catchy music makes it easy to reminisce a bygone culture of innocence and naivety.

Surprisingly, The Walters are still unsigned. They’ve steadily picked up steam in their native Chicago, performing at a handful of local venues and events. Even more impressive, a handful of their tracks reached ‘viral’ status on Spotify, quite an accomplishment to boast for a relative unknown. It wouldn’t come as a shock if The Walters signed a recording contract in short order. They have the creative output, and a marketable brand to boot.

If you’d like to acquire some of their tunes, look no further than The Walters’ Bandcamp page. While it’s always a nice gesture to chip in, both of their EPs are available at “name your price.” They’ve also uploaded a slew of supplemental tracks onto their SoundCloud.

BLANKO BASNET; MORE THAN A GREAT 20’S BOOTLEGGER NAME
October 29, 2015 10:06 am

During the week-long Indie blog ‘gasmfest known as CMJ, I was lucky enough to be my friend’s +1 to the Domino Records showcase. It was lovely. As soon as we got there, we were happily surprised to learn about their open bar situation and took advantage of it because in this economy, one must go where the bargain takes you.

While we’re at the bar, a band comes on and two songs into their set, it feels as though we’re listening to a Real Estate tribute band, which is something that’s been happening more and more recently. We start calling them Basically Real Estate. Once they finish, I’m buzzed enough to start outwardly saying, “Thank you! We are Basically Real Estate, you’ve been great!” The person sitting next to us, patiently dealing with my dumbness throughout the set, finally turns to me and informs me that the lead singer of that band was, in fact, the lead singer of Real Estate. What a small, derivative, world.

blanko

Blanko Basnet is by no means in the Basically Real Estate category, but there’s no denying a few key DNA strands that make up the band’s sound. The gentle cooing of Joe Hall’s voice is the most immediate similarity here, but then the smooth jangly rhythms prominent in Blanko’s self-titled LP make the connection even stronger.

But what makes Blanko Basnet such a fun and captivating listen is how they deviate from the pleasurable rhythm those foggy beach rock bands are able to cultivate. Before forming Blanko, Hall fronted Hammer No More The Fingers, a really fun band with straightforward hooks and impressive guitar chops that make each song a guessing game to see where the tempo goes. Hall brings a lot of those qualities to this project and it makes for a melding of styles seldom seen for this style of music. It keeps Blanko Banset from falling into easy listening territory.

Each song off Blanko Basnet has a unique wrinkle that forces you to be present when listening to them. It can’t just be played as background music while studying, when all of a sudden realize you listened to the entire album once the silence hits. Do not expect songs to have choruses consisting entirely of “ooohs” and “aaaahs” like some ribbon cutting ceremony attendee. There will be moments that jump out at you. “Forest” and “Oysters” each have a great build to them, while the two instrumentals on the album, “Father” and “Face Plant” offer the most sonic variety by far. Breakbeat drum kits and acoustic guitar plucking somehow make sense together on those songs, it’s weird.

Although it’s a genre that’s fine as is for the most part, it’s nice seeing a band like Blanko Basnet gently shaking up the status quo of the Basically Real Estate world. Perhaps it can inspire Mr. Basically Real Estate himself (I know I can Google his name, I’m just being lazy. Fine, I’ll look it up right now… It’s Martin Courtney) to branch out. Martin Courtney needs you, Blanko Basnet!

SAY YES TO WAY YES
October 22, 2015 10:02 am

Founded in 2010 in Columbus, Ohio Way Yes has been making waves.  Starting with their 7inch release Oranjudiosoon after an EP Walkability, lastly they released Tog Pebbles in 2013.  They claim on their Facebook info that ‘the band set out to create feel good music with a dark twist.’ and they did just that.  This dark, wispy yet electro-pop sounding four piece paints the picture of addiction and suicide dancing together on a Saturday night.

If I could choose a close cousin to their sound, I would have to say it is a good mix of Panda Bear and Animal Collectives sound.  Both musically and vocally, as it seems the singer has a wide array of vocal techniques and fast moving music to back generally every track.

Tog Pebbles took a minute to grow on me (so did Feels by Animal Collective) but proves to be one of those albums to keep around for good.  It houses the same clever antics of both aforementioned bands such as singing about darker and deeper things while making the listener feel happy at the same time.  A way to alleviate painful memories in a seemingly non-painful way.  Ultimately the BEST part of this album is the lyrics which are available on their bandcamp page.  The song that hits me right in the feels is called “Bloodline” in which the lyrics:

“Wish I could say that I knew ya,
Back before you were gone.
Wish I could say that I knew ya,
When you had your head on

But there’s a demon in the blood line,
That slowly ate away your mind.
A demon in the blood line,
That makes you no family of mine. ”

I have always been intrigued by the power music like this holds, and the contrast of emotions that it evokes. It’s something I’ve never personally been able to recreate so it drives me crazy in the best possible way.  I will have this album on repeat and be using some of these lyrics as a status sometime very soon.  Listen to Way Yes as soon as you’re near speakers!