Tag Archives: New Music

Pacific Radio Has The Catchy Tunes Your Playlist Craves

7 Mar

 

Quick Editor’s Note: Please help the Music Court welcome a new writer to the ever-growing Music Court mold; Kylie Banks. Kylie will be reporting on some excellent tunes, so keep an eye out for her posts. – Matt

It may be cold in LA (as a Floridian, I consider anything under 60 degrees freezing), but you better believe I’m already creating my summer playlist. And Pacific Radio is definitely on it.

I got a chance to see Pacific Radio at It’s A School Night!, a live show that the Hollywood venue Bardot puts on every Monday night. My friend Zoe and I decided to see what this band was all about. And I’m thrilled we did.

I first noticed lead singer Joe Robinson’s leggings. I’m not sure if I’ve ever see tighter leggings, and, to be honest, I’m not sure I ever will. But even tighter than the leggings was this foursome’s set. Even though I hadn’t heard a single song from this band, their performance had me dancing like a maniac before the first song even finished. After their energetic set, I knew I had to sit down and listen to their discography.

The only disappointing aspect about the Kitchen Table EP was the length – at only four songs, it leaves you wanting more. The first track “Kitchen Table” is incredibly catchy, with the band singing about a tape deck thrown out a window. Of all the songs on the EP, this was the song that I couldn’t get out of my head for days after the live show. Though the second track “Katie” is about unrequited love, it’s upbeat, fun and completely relatable. Additionally, as a transplanted Angeleno with the occasional bout of homesickness, the song “LA Is Pretty (But It’s Killing Me)” has a special place in my heart. I especially loved the violin they incorporated-I’m a sucker for rock bands that bust out the strings for slower tracks. The last song, “Tight Jeans,” is the perfect track to blare for a night out on the town. This song was amazing live-the entire band joined in for the chorus of “Nah Nah Nah’s!” And it wasn’t long before I did, too.

If you’re interested in hearing your new summer soundtrack, check out the Kitchen Table EP below:

-Kylie

Bonomo Impresses With Evolved Folk Sound In Newest Album Phases

25 Feb

Take a step into serenity mixed with melancholic happiness when you take a listen to Bonomo. Phases characterizes an individual’s journey and meaning of home, memories, and self. Comparing to the lovely sounds of Copeland and Iron & Wine, Bonomo crafts an exemplary sound within his album that’s on the path of evolving, filled with humility and authenticity. The duo characterizes alternative folk with a new sound in the album Phases. Their lead single Water, really shows this unique sound by the effective uses of the variety of instruments in their sound. Think Devendra Banhart meets John Mayer and you have Bonomo. Although two different genres, a mix of such sounds proves auditory greatness.

Art Decade Transforms Symphonic Rock

27 Jan

Art Decade

Whenever I first hear a band that does not conform to the bromidic classifications of a normal rock genre, I immediately explore some category to place the band in, although such a fastidious task is often misguided. Not all bands fit any category though. Such is the case for Boston-based Art Decade, the spawn of the Berklee School of Music mixed with pop overtones.

Art Decade is different, and I like change. Different, though, is only one part of new, exciting music. The tunes need to be good. Fortunately, Art Decade has this covered. On my first listen through their debut album, Western Sunrise, I was immediately shocked by the maturity and complexity of the compositions, but this confusion was satisfied when I observed the talent producing the music (more on this later).

Art Decade is to the 21st century what Electric Light Orchestra/Queen was to the Classic Rock genre. ELO and Queen were some of the pioneers of Symphonic Rock bands of the 1970s. This sub-genre evolved from the Progressive Rock movement (encompassing such bands at the Moody Blues and Emerson Lake & Palmer). Symphonic rock, though, took the sound of Prog/Rock and focused attention to modeling classical compositions and instrumentation and musical complexity. ELO, led by the venerable Jeff Lynne, took this concept and added pop melodies. Thus, the music was intelligent and accessible. Queen also emerged from Prog/Rock and added its own flavor on Symphonic Rock.

Flash forward to the late 20th century and early 21st century, and power/pop bands like Fun, Muse, Guided By Voices, Fountains of Wayne, and Keane bathe listeners with a wall of pop rhythms. Fun, specifically, focuses on creating a world of theatrical pop, an ode to the upbeat sounds of ELO and Queen.

Art Decade has combined Symphonic Rock and Power Pop into an amalgamated super genre of Classical Rock/Pop, which, although some may label it as Indie, is far more compound. The music is multifaceted and intelligent. It is effervescent and enjoyable. It has elements of hard rock, classical music, pop, and a whole lot more pushed into tracks, like a clown car of material – 15 clowns get out and you are wondering how the band fit so many elements into their music. And its clean. It is so tight and well manufactured. It is skillful.

It also makes sense considering that Art Decade’s guitarist/vocalist/arranger Ben Talmi grew up on a diet of classical music and attended Berklee School of Music.

“A strong musical education can do many things to a musician, oftentimes people become jaded with their acquired musical knowledge, becoming frustrated with the state of popular music and its general lack of musical depth,” said Talmi in a press release for Art Decade’s debut release. “Others are unable to escape the education and end up producing very indulgent and selfish music. I truly hope to take what I have learned and apply it in a very mature way.”

“Western Sunrise” is a multifarious piece that implements several classical elements into waves of remarkable instrumentation and mellifluous sounds culminating in a repeated diapason; all wrapped up neatly by a powerful vocal and music video that plays with the ocean motif and a colorful, pointillism-like construction. Oh, and it’s accessible for all ears. The song features so many elements that at some points I think I am listening to Trans-Siberian Orchestra and at other points I think I am listening to Keane. The music oscillates with such precision. I must credit the entire band for this magical composition.

Here is the Pt. 2 of “Western Sunrise,” another sprawling symphonic piece that flows with creative strings, vocals, piano, and other instrumentation. In some ways I am reminded a bit of Paul McCartney’s work with Wings. 

I am excited to hear more from Art Decade, a band that I’m sure you all will be hearing more about in the future.

Check out their website, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Dunwells are Doing Just Fine

3 Oct

The Dunwells

Every band goes through a point early in their career when they must make a decision on whether or not their music is worth being pursued. It’s a dreaded decision.

That point in the Dunwells’ young career came when the well ran dry and they were without consistent shows. A fortuitous UK tour, an invite to perform at the Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis (which they took advantage of and flew in across the pond for despite their lack of funds), and the subsequent winning of the ‘break-out band’ title at the conference, turned around the favor of the British folk band, and since then, dare I say, they are doing quite well.

The Dunwells are one of the more intriguing bands I have profiled in a while. They display an authentic brand of organic Americana (despite their Leeds roots) and their powerful harmonies trump folk contemporaries like Mumford and Sons. The band also demonstrates a keen interest in creating variety in their music. Acoustic ballads much akin to Justin Nozuka or even Eric Hutchinson are followed by toe-tapping, riff-smashing Tom Petty-like songs. If I have one criticism with several folk bands today, it is with their lack of variety. The Dunwells crush that convention and then let their skillful harmonies do the rest of the talking.

The band was formed by Joseph and David Dunwell, two brothers and former solo performers, in October of 2009. They recruited friends and local musicians to complete their band, eventually ending up with a lineup that consisted of them, Jonny Lamb (drums), David Hanson (lead guitar), and Jonny Lamb’s cousin Rob Clayton (bass). They released their debut single (“Elizabeth” – below) in 2010 and it achieved moderate chart success. Eventually, they were recognized for all the skills mentioned above. It just so happened it came by way of former Cutting Crew keyboardist Tony Moore, who spotted the band and invited them to the folk festival in the United States which then led to them being signed by Austin, Texas-based label, Traffic Records.

The Dunwells released their sweet debut Blind Sighted Faith on February 14, 2012. They are now making their rounds touring, and recently were showcased on the Jay Leno Show (their television debut) in August of this year.

This is a great sample of why I am so high on this band. This is one of those acoustic ballads I mentioned before. At first listen, I was blown away by the Backstreet Boys harmonies. Seriously, they are that smooth. But do you know what’s scary? There are no effects added to this piece. This is purely acoustic. They are naturally this talented. The song itself is soothing and constructed well. The vocal interplay later in the song is fresh and skillful. It is actually difficult to not like this song.

And then BOOM. You are hit square in the face by a song that you could swear is by another band (until you hear the harmonies). The blues-saturated, powerful folk/rock song features instrumental breakdowns, vocal repetition, and a damn effect-driven electric guitar solo. It is an example of a band that knows hard work, exasperation, and, well, good music. No, great music. The inter-connectedness and fortitude supporting the band is refreshing, and I am excited to hear more from them in the future. This is most certainly a band to watch.

Find out more about the band by following their Facebook or Twitter. You can also check out their website

Stargroves Knows What the Snowman Learned About Love

18 Sep

Cover songs can go one of two ways. Stargroves’ cover of Stars’ “What the Snowman Learned About Love” goes the good way. This new collection of New York City musicians, led by singer/songwriter Teddy Watson, took on Stars’ folk/electronica song, and while keeping its innate structure, transformed the arrangement to include a large collection of instruments. This engaging amalgamation of sound makes Stargoves’ version a true tour de force, and, in my opinion, on par with the original – which I am including below this paragraph.

The cover also helps introduce the band, whose first Youtube video is this piece. The band was in the recording studio during the summer with producer Jeremy Sklarsky (Freelance Whales), and they plan on releasing some singles in the next few months. If this cover is any indication, this a band you are going to be hearing a lot more about. The music is skilled, passionate, and exciting. Here is the line-up that you see in the video:

Core Band:

Teddy Watson: banjo, guitar, vocals
Enrico De Trizio: keyboard, synth, accordion
Bryan Percivall: bass, backing vocals
Charlie Rauh: electric guitar, backing vocals
Oskar Häggdahl: drums

Extended Roster:

Jesse Stacken: toy piano
Concetta Abbate: violin, viola, mandolin
George Lykogiannis: harmonium
Sarah Goldstone: melodica

And the video:

First off, I respect any song that begins with an accordion, which is awesome. The song picks up with banjo, upright bass, viola, keys, drums, and an odd consortium of other instruments. The created sound is original and attractive. Watson’s voice is smooth, lullaby-esque, and pleasant to listen to. The talent just effuses from the video. A skillful cover, and a great indication of things to come for a band I am now quite excited to follow!

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