DREAMERS at the Irving Theater in Indianapolis (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)
When I saw DREAMERS perform at the Irving Theater in Indianapolis last March with the Kickback, it was the perfect storm — a show with no promotion on a sleepy Sunday night with non-stop rain and no audience other than myself and the bands. “If you ever wanted to see an entire concert just for you, this is your night!” Nick Wold joked from the stage, and while it was disappointing few saw it, the band proved from that point they were capable of putting on a great performance in any situation.
Fast-forward to the pending release of their latest album This Album Does Not Exist, due out via Fairfax Recordings on August 26th. A kinetic example of pop confections of the finest order, this album plays nonstop cool from the first notes of “Drugs,” a propulsive mix of Wombats-esque dance backdrops with vocals that echo the credible hooks of Guided By Voices, even as the overall result of the DREAMERS sound is something completely on its own plane. “Wolves (You Got Me)” is already a legitimate hit, and I’d be surprised if “Never Too Late To Dance” and “Come Down Slow” don’t soon join it on radio stations terrestrial and streaming alike. Even having seen them live, knowing the depth of their catalog and the number of songs they already had with hooks capable of worming their way into the brain, the new album proves surprising in that there’s not a dud here.
Even in a world of single-serve pop, these songs are best consumed in quick succession with the top down and the volume at 11. Pleasure is only guilty if you make it so, and the only thing wrong with this album would be passing it up.
The Slappies may seem like they’ve been rocking their way around Indianapolis forever, but that’s only because the various members of the band have played their parts in all manner of other local punk mainstays, including Smash and Grab, Gay Black Republican, and God only knows how many others. I’ve been in the city since late 2014, and I kept hearing people say I should seek them out live, and though I haven’t yet that’s soon to be rectified after hearing this album.
Though I don’t have the official first-hand evidence to back the claim, even a cursory listen to Rockümockery makes it clear these guys all know their element, and they’re comfortable in the studio as well, laying down thirteen tracks that showcase what I can only imagine is a blisteringly fun experience. “Beer Time,” “Social Retard,” “Monster Truck” and “”My Own Way” open the album on blitz of raw energy that plays fast and loose with melody and turns of phrase, daring you to look away. You won’t. Even the choice of cover material is inspired, particularly the cover of Ellen Foley’s “Torchlight,” featuring memorable guest vocals by Toni Bennett, which had me hitting repeat as I researched her contribution to the album.
Catch yourselves a Slapplies show and then grab this from the merch table afterwards, you’re sure to be looking quickly for the follow-up. The real disappointment is that this gem has been available all year and no one’s been spreading the word … well, hop on the “Hear! Hear!” bandwagon: The Slappies rock, and this album’s a keeper!
The band’s album currently can be purchased at shows in person
and at Indy CD and Vinyl, as well as select Karma locations in central Indiana.
If out of state, hound Rich on Facebook to build a website, already!
When I covered the finals of this year’s Battle Royale at Birdy’s, I was impressed to see that the much-vaunted Tracksuit Lyfestile lived up to all the musical hype. “An instrumental combo featuring trombone distorted through a varied set of live FX pedals, the band brought a hard rock edge to what is still a highly experimental sound,” I wrote at the time in NUVO. Combining tight metal guitar riffs with adventurous experiments in instrumental looping built upon, among other things, live trombone, makes a Tracksuit Lyfestile show something to behold.
The same holds true when listening to the band’s debut E=MC Hammered, though listeners should certainly knock their expectations up a notch as the level of musicianship is impeccable. Headphone listening at its best, Tracksuit Lyfestile encourages you to rock the fuck out at a live show, and then sit back and pick the music down to its bare elements at home, reveling in how they build these acid soundscapes.
Tracksuit Lyfestile live at Birdy’s during the Battle Royale Finals (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)
From the opening build of “Hurricane” the music grabs your attention, and then the band holds it through the little things; the “Hey! Hey! Hey!” choruses of “90/10,” the thundering wall-of-sound that is “Lunar Lounge,” and the crowd-pleasing “Beat It” cover being stand-outs. By the time they place us back gently on the ground with the staccato crunch and intricately melodic “A Vigorous Joe Pesci,” a return visit is a foregone conclusion. Just as soon as one can get online to find the band’s ‘Band In Town’ page, that is, because once you’re hooked you’ll want to see them live just to know for sure it isn’t just a bunch of studio trickery.
I assure you, it isn’t. Tracksuit Lyfestile is the most original band I’ve heard come out of the Indianpolis scene since I’ve moved here — call them the Cake of Naptown; they’ll inspire many, but few will be able to outright copy them. And that’s a very good thing!
The band will release the brand new album E=MC Hammered at the Melody Inn on july 15th with support from Moxxie, Coup d’Etat and Midwest State of Mind! Not many better spots to catch a live band in any city …. and for only $5!
I hear a lot of country music these days, but it only rarely takes me back to the country I grew up on — the Randy Travis, Keith Whitley, John Anderson school of neo-traditionalist twang that dominated before Garth Brooks ushered in the era of pop/rock country. I can tell you, though, I’m keeping both ears out for new information on Shane Owens, a songwriter whose latest single “Country Never Goes Out Of Style” has earned the legendary Travis’ seal of approval. His appearance in Owens’ video for the song is his first in a music video since his stroke in 2013.
“Shane brings it all…vocal, writing, performance, and passion,” Travis said in a recent press release. “He has paid his dues, remained committed to traditional country and brings you a song with a heart and a story.”
Owens spent more than a decade on the fringes of the country universe, indeed paying his dues while playing country nightclubs throughout the south, before back-to-back record deals fell through due to labels folding. The sense is he had the chance to season these songs through those hard times on the road and by tasting failure in Music City, so the resulting album Where I’m Comin’ From — produced by another country legend, former ACM Producer of the Year James Stroud — bears all the earmarks of a potential winner.
“This new song means so much to me,” explains Owens. “It really talks about the way I was raised and the way I live my life today, so it means so much to have Randy join me in the video and talk about my music in that way. It was truly an honor.”
You can see the video below:
In this era of instant gratification, it’s hard to maintain a sense of mystique about an artist. We’re at least three decades removed from the era when labels would release a band’s single with a “white label” in order to avoid giving radio programmers too much information, which allowed some interesting artists to gain airplay without overexposure.
So it’s refreshing to occasionally stumble on a songwriter about whom I can find little information, but whose song speaks for itself. In the case of Ethan Burns’ debut single :Homeward,” which echoes hints of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” in its bare delivery, less is more. The song is supported ably by a strong rhythm section, and Burns’ deep throaty vocals glue themselves to your brain on first listen, demanding frequent repeats. The California songwriter’s roots are in the working class, which shows through in his strong yet subtle delivery, making this a real keeper, particularly for a first single.
“Homeward” is perfect for rolling the windows down and cranking your car’s speakers to ten. Give your neighbors something to talk about! Better yet, when they come up to ask, show them this review. Let’s make this one the perfect unexpected summer viral sensation!
With cliffhanger storytelling, multiple lead singers and signature four-part harmonies, there’s a lot that lines up between local Indianapolis act Against The Clocks and Reno’s own up-and-comers The Novelists. Back in 2013 the band debuted The Novelists Book Club, a subscription service that gave fans two new songs a month, culminating in the release of Book One, which was the first of two full-length releases of ‘book club’ tracks. And now, with their double-disc album Breaking The Script on the horizon, they unleash “Soul Sucker,” a single with propulsive hooks and those strong harmonies out front of a rollicking piano-rock melody. “Can’t you hear them calling out your name?” they sing compulsively on the chorus as guitars wail. I definitely hear something worth following with this band, and if they come through Indianapolis in the future, you’d be crazy to pass up the chance to hear them live.
To learn more, visit the band’s official website! Breaking The Script is out June 3rd.
LA’s The Quarantined
Lead singer Sean Martin hasn’t necessarily mastered Zach de la Rocha’s rare brutal intensity, but Los Angeles rap-rockers the Quarantined make up for it with their apparent sincerity. Bringing together this generation’s current rage against the machines of police brutality and governmental incompetence with crunchy guitars and ferocious political thought, the band carries on where The Battle of Los Angeles left off. “They’ll put two in your dome!” Martin growls, while adding a few of de la Rocha’s patented “Oohhh”s, suggesting the band may still hew a bit too close to their sources of inspiration, but there’s a lot here to appreciate. “Feeding You Lies” and the band’s album Antiquate Hate suggest a new generation is ready to competently take up the rap-rock protest mantle.
Stream the mp3 here, and watch the exclusive debut of their video for “Feeding You Lies” below!