FEATURED SONG: Moxxie’s “Phantom” will haunt your soul


Moxxie kicks 2016 to the curb with a deftly resonating new track that is nothing like anything you’ve heard on their debut. Like an echoing, layered ghostly take on Natalie Merchant channeling Prince in the afterworld, Jessie Phelps showcases that when it comes to leading the vanguard of vocalists in the region, she’s got absolutely nothing to prove.

This is a winning single that’s all hook, a repetitive mantra that demands replaying as you won’t soon sneak that ethereal tune out of your head. Rock on, Moxxie, rock on.

The band has an upcoming show at the recently remodeled Hi-Fi in Fountain Square on February 18th with the Stampede String Band and Tracksuit Lyfestile. I recommend you get a ticket! Because if you’ve seen them live before, you haven’t heard them live doing anything quite like this.


Greenfield native Craig B. Moore releases “Thin Blue Line” to raise money for local police charities


Greenfield’s own Craig B. Moore has partnered with C.O.P.S. (Concerns for Police Survivors-Indiana Chapter), the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department (to help purchase protective vests for officers), and the Rush County Sheriff’s Department (to help purchase 2 K-9s for the dept) as he releases his latest single, “Thin Blue Line.”

The single, which is available for sale at iTunes, Amazon and GooglePlay, speaks directly to the families of police officers who have lost loved ones in the line of duty. As Moore told me in a recent interview:

“The story behind the song is that my brother-in-law, Officer Joshua Brinson, had penned many thoughts about the increasing number of fallen brothers in uniform around the country. In his thoughts he wrote how devastating it must be for the family of these fallen officers as well as how it affects the officers who continue to work the Thin Blue Line every day and night. He asked me to take his journal and create a song in an attempt to capture the strong emotions a family may feel when being told their officer, their hero in blue, has lost his/her life in the line of duty. Not only the emotion of pain, but also the overwhelming sense of pride in knowing he/she was serving and protecting all of us so we can live out our life in peace.”

All proceeds, 90 cents for every 99-cent download purchase, will go directly to the above-referenced charities, Moore says. For more information, you can visit a Facebook page Moore has set up to promote the single, where you can reach out to him directly.

ALBUM REVIEW: Tracksuit Lyfestile – “E=MC Hammered”




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!

PAPERBACK WRITERS: The Novelists ‘Break The Script’ for new single “Soul Sucker”


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 websiteBreaking The Script is out June 3rd.

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.

INTERVIEW: The Kickback

The Kickback (Credit: Jim Vondruska)

Billy Yost has spent the last few years really priming fans of the Kickback with information about what it’s like to really be on the road these days. And he’s a fountain of information. Hell, after we got done talking last week, he had to call me back just to clarify that he had indeed listened to Alanis Morisette’s “Ironic” at least fourteen times that day. Because that’s just who he is.

Never a band to merely sleep through the interminable road trips, Yost and company record a great deal of what goes on in the van during those early morning drives. Just last week the band celebrated the release of the 100th episode of their “DISASTOUR” podcast, and as they work toward the eventual release of that long-awaited full-length debut, they continue to play Geography defying series of live shows that bounce them throughout the country. Judging by live videos like this oneor this one … the result is something fans really should be celebrating this night before Thanksgiving.

Yost sat down to talk to “Hear! Hear!” about the band’s songwriting process, what fuels the band’s live performances, and just how big an impact being from a small town plays in how they relate to fans.  You can listen to the full interview at the link above.

The band will be at Indianapolis’s Melody Inn tonight, so get your tickets if you haven’t!

CONCERT REVIEW: Alien Ant Farm (The Vogue, Indianapolis, 11/21/14)


Dryden Mitchell lets it all hang out at the Vogue in Indy. (Photo: Jonathan Sanders)

Though the opening acts on the bill more then exceeded expectations, Dryden Mitchell and Alien Ant Farm hit the stage at the Vogue in Indianapolis to play for a crowd well versed in their blend of early ’00s alternative rock, and wound up bringing the roof down.

The setlist heavily favored the band’s breakthrough album ANThology, but for good reason — the platinum album featured hits “Movies,” “Courage,” “Wish,” “Sticks and Stones” and the showstopping Michael Jackson cover “Smooth Criminal,” all of which were played for fans who knew the songs in and out. Mitchell still has the stamina and showmanship to give these songs life in a way which is more than just nostalgia. By the time he tore into a three-minute showstopper version of “Smooth Criminal,” which blended in the vocals to “Finally” by CeCe Peniston, it was clear nothing had been left on the table.

And the songs the band did focus on from upcoming album Always and Forever, due out in January, built on the reputation they’ve earned for earnest appreciation for the music that’s come before, while remaining willing to experiment with their sound. “Homage” seems a hit in the making, putting the band’s influences on display while pushing their music to a new generation of fans who will surely devour ANThology, TruANT and Up in the Attic just as readily.

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ALIEN ANT FARM – “Smooth Criminal”

ALIEN ANT FARM – “Wish” + “Forgive and Forget”