BEFORE I LOSE CONTROL: Lebanese performer Jay Wud is the best guitarist you haven’t heard

It only takes a single listen to Jay Wud’s single “Low” to know you’re listening to someone who knows his modern rock music, someone who should be better known here in the U.S. than he is. The Lebanese singer-songwriter, based in Dubai, has worked regularly with producer Howard Benson (Motorhead, My Chemical Romance) and has been influenced by the likes of Steve Vai and the Foo Fighters. He’s toured the world supporting Guns ‘n’ Roses and Aerosmith, building a reputation for being a versatile guitar presence with electrifying vocals and the stage presence to draw in even the most jaded fan. “Low” is centrally featured on an upcoming EP which he hopes will introduce him to American audiences.

Check out a live video below of “Masquerade” which features Malikah, known as the Queen of Arabic hip-hop. To learn more about Jay Wud, check out his official website and Facebook page.

ARTISTS TO WATCH: JEFF The Brotherhood

Nashville rockers JEFF The Brotherhood are ready at last to release their follow-up to 2012’s Hypnotic Nights! Whether the three-year wait was worth it remains to be heard, since as of yet the only new track I’ve heard is “What’s A Creep” (posted below). But the new album Wasted On The Dream was co-produced by Jake and Jamin Orrall with Joe Chiccarelli, who has produced many of my favorite records including the Raconteurs’ Consolers of the Lonely and the White Stripes’ Icky Thump, as well as several classic albums from seminal Mexican garage band Cafe Tacuba. So I have high confidence that this album is going to have more than enough raw rock to get people excited about the state of 2015’s new music. As the band states in a recent press release:

Wasted on the Dream is the first JEFF The Brotherhood album to showcase the band’s recent evolution into a full-blown ROCK outfit: Jake plays six-string guitar (as opposed to his custom-made signature 3-string model), Jamin plays a full kit and Jack Lawrence (of Dead Weather and Raconteurs fame) plays bass on the entire album. The album also features guest contributions from Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, Diarrhea Planet guitarists Evan Bird and Emmett Miller, and a flute solo by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. To accommodate their bigger sound live, JEFF has expanded to a highly voluminous, balls-out twin guitar monster of a quartet.

The album drops March 10th, and will include the following tracks:

  1. Voyage Into Dream
  2. Black Cherry Pie
  3. Cosmic Visions
  4. Mystified Minds
  5. Melting Place
  6. In My Dreams
  7. In My Mouth
  8. Karaoke, TN
  9. Coat Check Girl
  10. What’s A Creep
  11. Prairie Song

THE LIVE WIRE: Burn The Army

Burn The Army live at the 5th Quarter (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Burn The Army live at the 5th Quarter (credit: Jonathan Sanders)

It has been a full twenty-four hours and I am just now technically getting all my hearing back after the blazing firestorm Indianapolis’s own Burn The Army set loose at 5th Quarter Lounge. For three guys playing mostly instrumental metal, there’s no discounting how hard they worked out there to keep the crowd in a frenzy. Extra credit is due to their drummer, described by other band members as “a prodigy,” who was a whirling dervish out there, proving there’s no need for a gigantic 30-piece kit for a drummer to really pull out all the stops. He has to be seen and heard to be believed. Which you can do, by checking out their new song “Eidolon,” which they debuted, and we captured in HD, last night!

ARTISTS TO WATCH: Gayle Skidmore

Gayle Skidmore (credit: Dennis Andersen Photography)

It’s so rare to stumble upon a singer-songwriter with such a rich textured voice as Gayle Skidmore. Such voice is a warm layering of the folk of Anais Mitchell coupled with the stinging depth of Amanda Shires, one perfectly worthy of two songs as varied as those she just released: “Rag Doll” and “Barrel, Trigger, Gun.” As a direct follow-up to her latest, a full-length LP and coloring book combo called Sleeping Bear, Skidmore — a six-time San Diego Music Award nominee — chose to record two fan favorites from her popular live sets.

“Rag Doll” is the sparest of the two, a guitar-based melody structured to lend full support to Skidmore’s vocals as she sings of the casual abuses we all endure as we fight against our baser instincts, striving to live sin-free even as we are the product of our own maker. The lyrics are staggeringly evocative:

I wear a covering
Chosen for me by a higher being
But he made me all full of dreams
That I may never find and never be

I am a rag doll sewn by a blind man
To keep him company and make him happy
But he sewed me all full of flaws
And now I’m breaking you just because

“Barrel, Trigger, Gun,” meanwhile choses to showcase Skidmore’s hidden Tori Amos, a song built on a simple series of piano arpeggios upon which a steady backbeat of bass drum and hammering effects provides a stage for a positively cinematic piece of performance art. “I was so easily persuaded to do wrong; a little kick was all it took to come undone,” she sings powerfully. “I was just trying to have a little fun but I’m the trigger, you’re the gun.” As the song fades into a wavering final echoed bass note, a return to the song’s opening seconds is immediately mandated.

Based on these first two tantalizing tastes, I assure you I’ll be digging deeper into Gayle Skidmore’s catalog while hoping she chooses to make Indianapolis one of her next tour stops. When she does, buy a ticket. I am sure you won’t leave disappointed.

THE LIVE WIRE: Cabin Pressure

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Cabin Pressure, live at the 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

I was pleasantly surprised to catch Cabin Pressure as the opening act for much heavier bands Catalytic and Fleshsuit at the 5th Quarter Lounge last Friday evening. Their blues-tinged blend of alternative rock is at full effect on songs like “Hard To Breathe,” which sounds like Soundgarden filtered through Aaron Hiatt’s Toadies-by-way-of-Matchbox 20 inspired vocals. Those are imperfect comparisons, but the videos below speak for themselves. The band, which has played the Indianapolis scene since 2012, has undergone major lineup shifts since losing a guitarist and gaining a new bass guitarist. From guitarist Joe Enger:

“We were working on pre-production when our other guitarist left and we added Kevin on bass. The dynamic has changed so we decided to start from scratch with the new lineup. Aaron used to play bass and sing. Kevin is a friggin beast thoughAaron wrote some really great bass lines and alot of what Kevin is doing is what Aaron wrote. But Kevin has taken them next level and freed up aaron to really push his vocals. When we’re done. there’s gonna be 3 and 4 part harmonies on most of the songs you heard tonight.

They’ve clearly handled the shifting roles in a way that will allow Cabin Pressure to grow into a top-notch draw in the area. I can’t wait to hear these guys play again, potentially as the headliners instead of as “opening act.” Until then, the two videos below will have to do.

Follow Cabin Pressure on Facebook!

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CABIN PRESSURE – “Hard To Breathe”

CABIN PRESSURE – “Offering”

ARTISTS TO WATCH: The Ramettes

The Ramettes

 

There’s plenty of room to get in on the ground floor as a fan of the Ramettes, an incredibly good band from Broad Ripple in Indianapolis which not nearly enough locals have yet heard. If you’ve been to the Melody Inn regularly you may have caught the band before. If you haven’t, you’ll at least get a shot to hear them play a half-hour set March 28 as part of Punk Fest 2015 at Indianapolis’s 5th Quarter Lounge.

Barring that, you can check out “Train Track Suzy” below, which I think showcases their sound perfectly. The Ramettes offer up a fuzzed-out take on 60s psychedelia and distorted 80s lo-fi, anchored by organ work which echoes Jefferson Airplane even as the vocals hint at a more distorted Liz Phair or Kim Gordon. The deceptively simple hook swims beneath the surface ready to strike at any moment. Hear it once and you’ll have to hear it again just to revel in these 150 seconds of near-perfection. You can hear this and three additional songs (I highly recommend “The War”) at MFT.

THE LIVE WIRE: Catalytic

Catalytic's own Dustin Strole during the band's set at 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis

Catalytic’s own Dustin Strole during the band’s set at 5th Quarter Lounge in Indianapolis

If you didn’t already read my profile of Indianapolis’ next big thing in melodic metal in this week’s NUVO, go check it out! Then crank the volume up on your computer speakers and let Catalytic take over your brain for these two tracks in one video: “Saving This Day” and “Evil Will Fail”. The band opened their blistering set at Indianapolis’ 5th Quarter Lounge with these two, and from there it was a quick free-fall into an intense show no one in attendance is going to soon forget. I heard several people commenting later that it was the band’s strongest set to date, which bodes well for a band I feel deserves major label attention and a fast-track to national recognition.