Video of the Day: Johnny Raincloud “White Noize”

Johnny Raincloud’s new video, White Noize, is one of those videos that you really want to watch, but then feel guilty for watching it. The song is all about how we are too dependent as a society on our phones, the internet, the white noise in our lives, and we don’t foster relationships like we used to. We have become addicted (foreshadowing, if you’re paying attention) to our devices, and Mike Stortz, the brain behind Johnny Raincloud, wants us to know that it is having detrimental effects on our society and our psyche.

Glued to their screens
Everybody drowns,
And they can’t see
Because they’re looking down

Now, the lyrics may be off by a word or two (or ten, let me know JR, and I can fix them) because I couldn’t find them written out anywhere, but the point is abundantly clear. As someone who just had to change the way that I work on the computer because of neck problems, I can absolutely relate to this. I know it isn’t quite what they’re talking about here, but that’s the beauty of music. It belongs to everyone once it’s put into circulation… ya know… except for the actual song itself and the copyrights and whatnot, but you know what I mean.

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Disclaimer: This part is where I compare Johnny Raincloud to another band.
I noticed on the band’s Bandcamp page that they make take offense to me saying they sound like anyone, but I’m going to go ahead and make a comparison. This Portland, Oregon trio sounds like another PNW band that everyone is familiar with: Modest Mouse. Now hear me out. I’m not talking about “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank,” hell, I’m not even talking about “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” (Although I wouldn’t say you’re wrong if you made a case for how Good News has similarities). I’m thinking they are an updated version of “The Lonesome Crowded West.” I mean, at that time Modest Mouse was a three piece set as well. Stortz and Isaac Brock have a similar off beat cadence when they sing, and can easily find themselves talking to you or yelling at you in the same measure. The guitar slides around the whammy bar before hitting you with staccato punches, and the bass and drum act as the glue to keep the vocals and lead grounded in something that isn’t too outlandish. I’m sorry if you guys don’t think people’s comparisons are accurate, but when I hear this song, it makes me want to listen to Convenient Parking. They have the cleaner production value like when Modest Mouse broke out, but they still keep that raw power alive that I loved from the earlier stuff. Take the compliment, guys. I really dig your stuff.

Fun fact about the video: They only used one 50 foot roll of film for their Super 8 to make the entire video, and the full project cost $40 to make.

 

-Seth

Mid-Day Music Blast: Glass Lungs “Casting Stones”

Spotify

 

GLASS LUNGS is a band from Brooklyn that blends indie and post-rock with celestial guitar sounds to create an atmospheric brand of “space wizardry.” What results is an attention to haunting vocal melodies, specialized guitar tones, and lush, ambient soundscapes.

This song immediately makes me think of Anthony Green and TTNG, maybe mixed with a little Dance Gavin Dance. While my teenage self listened to this genre exclusively, I have branched out to various other places in the last 10 years, but honestly, first loves die hard, and Glass Lungs wears the same perfume. If you are going to be in New York this summer, you have to check them out. They are playing the Knitting Factory July 8th and The Kingsland July 20th. I know if I’m in town I’ll be dropping by.

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“All you want to know is,

what are we destined for,

if this town is treason,

as the walls converge?”

 

I can’t help but feel like these lyrics are very appropriate for our times. One thing I remember about the Bush era of America was how good punk, post-punk, post-rock, etc. music got at capturing our frustrations. I think Glass Lungs have continued that tradition, whether or not they are talking about anything political at all. They’ve spoken words and harmonies to that feeling of angst that comes with being aware of the world burning around you, and wishing you had a bigger hose to try to put out the flames.

 

-Caleb

 

Morning Commute: Freedom Baby “I Want to Give”

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Good morning everyone. I hope you are waking up to a beautiful Memorial Day morning (or just a beautiful Monday morning if you’re outside of the United States). I figured for the Morning Commute on Memorial Day, we would talk a little bit about a band called Freedom Baby, and their song “I Want To Give.”

The fact that the word freedom is in the band name was completely planned, and definitely not total luck.*

This is just a normal Monday morning for the 8 piece Toronto indie rock group, but this is not a normal band. These guys have made something truly unique and special with this one.

First off, let’s get one thing out of the way. Yes, the song is almost 15 minutes long. I promise it won’t feel like that. I have listened to this song for over an hour in the past couple of days, and I love it every single time. If you aren’t sold from the very beginning with the vulnerable voice of Brianna Bordihn guiding you into your chair, holding you captive for the next 15 minutes, stick around until the 1:02 mark. If you don’t feel something at that point, you are a robot.

In what I would say are 4-5 separate acts throughout the song, a story unfolds of love, struggle, war, and heartache. The band uses their time wisely, crescendoing into cacophonous roars at times, and then brings you all the way back down to barely a whisper, creating dividers between acts but still maintaining a cohesive project better than most artists can do with a hard stop between tracks.

“And I’ll do just what I want 
Try not to fear consequence 
And try to live 
And I’ll contemplate my death 
While drawing in my final breath 
But not til then”

Existentialism is weighed in on, valuing being authentic over all else. Exploring the fact that death comes to us all, they plant seeds of self-examination in the head of the listeners. Whoever you are, be that person to the best of your ability, and try to live.

As a married man with one child and another on the way, there is also one of the most poetic lines I’ve heard in a long time in this song:

“Let our daughters look like you 
Let our sons be brave like you”

A seemingly simple message, it takes on a whole new life when you’re hoping for those same traits that you love so much about your spouse are passed down to your children.

I could go on about this song for a while, but it’s currently 3:08 am. I do want to continue this conversation though, and I’d love to do it with Freedom Baby on the podcast. Caleb has no idea I’m doing this, but I know he will be on board with this idea 100%. Our next podcast is on the theme of Creativity. I’m going to do everything I can to get Freedom Baby to do an interview with us that will go on that episode so we can talk about their creative process, the idea behind the song, and just about who they are in general.

These guys have officially joined my list of criminally underrated bands along with Ezra Bell, Tim de Vil, and Fire Chief Charlie. Enjoy your commute this morning. These guys are going to take you all the way to work (or at least 15 minutes into your commute).

*Freedom in the name of the band was definitely total luck. A Bob Ross happy accident.

-Seth