I’ll admit that Brian Vander Ark’s vocals on the entirety of Villians soundtracked my early high school years, giving me plenty of reason to play the album and dozens like it on repeat as I navigated teenage awkwardness. Unfortunately the ’90s alternative rock scene wasn’t built on longevity, at least where myopic, aurally insensitive radio execs were concerned, and bands like the Verve Pipe, Harvey Danger and Semisonic never got the long-term traction they so richly deserved. It wasn’t that they couldn’t write another hit, but rather that radio and label honchos wouldn’t have known said hit if it broadsided them.
Thirteen years after their last full-length rock album, however, The Verve Pipe returns June 17th with Overboard, an album which relights the fire under their blend of well-crafted pop and catch-you-off-kilter rock. With “Crash Landing,” the album’s first promotional single, they show you really can’t go back again — this is no “Villians” or “Photograph” — but you can put a new spin on something and reinvent yourself in a way which is refreshing and well worth the listen. “I’m hearing words no one’s spoken,” he sings. “And I can feel my heart beat though I know it’s broken. Nothing is the way it seems, like being awake in a dream.” The chorus then crash-lands with an impact that launches this song instantly into the memory banks.
If you’re looking for the band to tread water through nostalgic carbons of what you heard while walking those sophomore hallways, you may be disappointed. But it’s refreshing to hear a band return after all these years, arriving with the verve to sound as fresh in the current musical climate as their alt-grunge did when we first heard it in the early ’90s. That the band’s songs feature hooks as brilliantly singable even after a decade and a half in limbo is the icing on the cake. Overboard is the most pleasant surprise of the summer so far, and it’s an album you shouldn’t miss.
This week on the “Hear! Hear!” and Now podcast I sat down to talk with Justin Jahnke, the brains behind Midnite on Pearl Beach, to discuss the band’s album Lamplighter, which officially came out this week. Stay tuned after the interview to hear “Name of the Game,” Justin’s favorite track off the album, in its entirety.
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Si, soy un perdedor, but I’m loving how much fun Slippertails are making out of my eternal nostalgia for early-90s alt-sludge.
These New Jersey-ites have soaked in everything that made Beck’s Mellow Gold and Nirvana’s Bleach so mind-bendingly addictive and they’ve put it through a punk-rock blender, creating a photocopy of their own “Garden State of Mind.” However you look at it, songs like “Hip New Jerk” require one to immediately forego the headphone treatment, instead blasting these sludgy, instantly deep-grooving tracks to the masses, demanding they pay attention.
You can stream the entire album now on the band’s Bandcamp page, and you should do so quickly, for There’s A Disturbing Trend serves to showcase just how good modern alternative music can be when you forget about trends altogether and simply rock. Now that’s a novel idea!
Don’t be afraid to Crash and Burn this Christmas, thanks to Four Nights Gone album giveaway on Bandcamp
I featured their single, “Crash and Burn,” on this site last September, writing that “everything about the song would have been a smash hit if it’d been released in 1998, but there’s nothing here which sounds out of place in 2011 either.” But if you missed all the fun that is Four Nights Gone, they’re still looking to win you over. For two days only, you can stream and then download their full five-track EP Crash and Burn for free at Bandcamp, though only 200 copies will be given away for free December 24th and 25th. Here’s your chance to hear solid alternative rockers on their way up — if “The Scars Remain,” their latest single, is any indication, they’re definitely ready to jump to that next level.
With a self-titled EP and rocking Oasis-inspired track “My Heroes Are Dead,” The Rebel Light shines brightly indeed
The first thirty seconds of “My Heroes Are Dead,” the latest single from Los Angeles-based The Rebel Light, flashed me back so abruptly to classic Oasis, I could all but smell the beer spilled during a Gallagher brothers’ throwdown. No that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you, but it definitely sets the aural scene.
The band recorded the album completely on their own dime, tracking vocals in their bathroom and the drums in a woodshed, “in the spirit of all that is indie and good” as they succinctly put it. Whatever your musical tastes may be, this four-track EP, available at Noisetrade on a “name your own price” basis, has more than its share of great hooks. Just like a musical dealer, they reel us in with free product and then jack up the price once they’ve got us on the hook. “Heroes” in particular is so unrelenting in its addictive qualities, I’d mainline it if I could only find a bloody vein.
I’ve been listening to Justin Soileau’s magnificent new self-titled album for several weeks waiting for the right opportunity to write something about it, and it took a listen to “Loneliness and Wine” to open the floodgates. This song encapsulates exactly what makes Soileau’s music such an engaging listen. Blending the seemingly effortless hooks of Will Hoge with whipcord-smart lyricism which rivals Josh Ritter, the song delivers on repeated listens, much as the remainder of the album does. If you haven’t had the chance to hear him, check it out. You won’t go back disappointed.