The Flock: Indie Rock – Raccoon Lagoon, State of Nature, The Color Forty Nine, Werwe, Houston Heard, FINE POINTS

*This first paragraph is a copy of a previously written synopsis of the point behind the new section, The Flock.*

We have two goals here with our blog and our podcast; we want to help you find a bunch of new artists that you love, and we also want to support those artists. We came up with a new idea for a post where we take a genre, and give you a few artists within that genre. That way, it helps everyone. If you come here because you love one artist, you’ve got five more that you’re probably going to love now. That helps you load up your playlist with tracks that will impress your friends, and it also helps the artists hit untapped markets and possibly network with likeminded artists they didn’t know existed. Without further ado, I present “The Flock.”

ARTISTS LOOK HERE: Caleb and I have started a Facebook group that we want to turn into a place for artists from around the country to find likeminded bands to fill shows out, find shows, and really just a community made by artists to talk about the industry. If you’re interested in joining that, CLICK HERE.

Raccoon Lagoon – “Tomorrowism”

Starting out this edition of The Flock, we figured we’d show you guys something a little different than what you usually see here. We love psych rock, but not a lot of great psych rock really rolls across our table. I’m not sure why, but those are the facts. Enter: Raccoon Lagoon. The video plays around with one picture for the duration of the song, and it never gets old. With gritty guitar and ethereal keys, Raccoon Lagoon has created a track/video that serves a very specific and trippy purpose.

State of Nature – “Someday Afternoon”

No strangers to the blog, State of Nature hits yet again with a genre bending track that melds funk and indie rock. With funky licks and smooth vocals, State of Nature takes a look at the casual relationship.

You think it’s going to be another love song with the opening line, “I love the way that you can bend and wrap around me much better than my clothes could ever do,” but then it dives into how alcohol influences their decision to meet up and the need to keep an emotional distance. Side note: That opening line is one of the coolest I’ve heard in a while. The lyrics are on point, but the vocal inflection on the word do speaks to the nature of the relationship: playful and definitely sultry. We are only becoming bigger fans of the indie rock band, and they land home with another great song for us.

The Color Forty Nine – “Storyteller”

I’ve watched this video so many times now. I still don’t really know where to start because I’m just so enamored by it. The music itself gives me a lot of different vibes, but the strongest one is probably My Morning Jacket. That said, I truly think this is difficult to classify in a good way, in a this is truly unique sort of way. Before we get to the actual video, let’s dive a bit into the lyrics:

“Ooh, but I have something to say
Feel like something is on the way

Your house of worship has locked the doors
Though many came here, there’s many more
were turned away

Oooh, but I had something to say
Oooh, we’re not worth it in any way

Storyteller, on the fence
Won’t you tell us
How it ends ”

Now these lyrics are very ambiguous. I would say due to the church reference, and the subject of the video itself, there seems to be both a critique of religious people today, and also a question to the Storyteller, who in this scenario could be God, or someone speaking “for God” asking what’s next? How does this all end? There seems to be a definite feeling from the speaker in the song that part of the story seems to be getting lost, or blocked.

Now I definitely want to hear some interpretations from you guys on the video. I see a man getting made up, at first I think in some sort of drag, but then it seems like that’s not quite it. He goes to a closet where he types on a typewriter, which works into the story feeling blocked or hidden trope from before. Then he gets presented on a stage, sings some more, and dances. I think all of that still fits into the questions I asked before, but I also think there’s maybe some sort of meditation on what it takes to get a message out going on here. Can an artist just dress normal and sing his heart out and be heard? Or does he need to be made up, with elaborate backdrops? 20 years ago, you could still presumably just be a good songwriter and rise to the top. Now? I like to think that’s still true, but it seems more and more there has to be an elaborate gimmick to go along with it. Maybe this song is talking about all the storytellers who never get an audience because of shallow reasons? I don’t know. I’ll continue to watch this video many more times into the future. It isn’t an immediate answer, and, I’m so thankful it’s not.

Werwe – “Different Tune”

Ah man guys. How good is this song? This song kind of gives me a mix of Jimmy Eat World and Modest Mouse. I also really dig the lyrics of this song. It seems to be calling up these nostalgic images, which is pretty normal, but then he kind of shows off how he’s different from back then, and he’s going to do his own thing. This works perfectly into his bio:

“Different Tune” is the first single from Werwe’s upcoming Birthday EP to be released on June 19th 2018.

On his new project, Philadelphia based singer-songwriter Steven Martinho set out to create the music he’s always wanted to make – skillfully crafted pop that remains unpretentious and fun.”

So, I never heard what he was creating before, but I’m glad he’s making the music he wants to make, because I’m really connecting with it.

Houston Heard – “My Divine (a little demo guy)”

As mentioned in the title, this is more of a demo than a fully polished album track like some of the others, but his voice shines through excellently anyway. He says he wrote this song about someone in your life who kind of sucks, but you always kind of root for them. Let’s dive into some of the lyrics:

“Would it kill to take some time for what I say, that’s okay
It’ll go in one ear and out the other anyway

My divine
Your kindness will come in time”

I don’t know about you guys but this sort of relationship is one of the most painful many of us will ever experience. It can get increasingly infuriating when you try to give them advice, that they don’t take. It takes a really patient person to stick with them after the first 5 or so times of being ignored. I know I’m not that patient.

FINE POINTS – “Ready and Able”

This song just jumped off the page at us. Or jumped out of the speakers, or whatever you want to call it. This song features Hannah Moriah with absolutely beautiful harmonies. It is the second single off their upcoming album Take Shape, out July 13, 2018 on Dine Alone Records. Their genre is technically described as “Narco Pop” and they’ve landed tours with many in the genre, including: White Fence, The Warlocks, and the Fresh and Only’s. I didn’t really know much about the genre, but apparently it is primary stories set around drugs and drug smugglers, and was originally a primarily Mexican genre? That’s from a quick google search, so it could be wrong. All I know is I love how smooth the vocals work in this song, and it gives me some vibes from a lot of classic rock, with modern indie vibes. I’m pretty much always sold when a rotation of vocals and callbacks can work together and the best play to find that in this song is around 3:00 min mark until the end. If you are on the west coast, don’t miss them in July:

Performance Dates:

July 17 – Olympia, WA  @ Le Voyeur Cafe

July 18 – Seattle, WA  @ Sunset Tavern

July 19 – Portland, OR  @ White Owl Social Club

July 20 – Berkeley, CA  @ The Starry Plough

July 21 – Visalia, CA  @ Cellar Door

July 22 – Los Angeles, CA  @ HiHat

 

-Caleb and Seth

Did you know we do a podcast? It’s true. You can check out the latest episode here.

TOTD: How Great Were The Robins – “Blind Faith”

How great were How Great Were the Robins? Pretty great. Okay, I know, I’m sure most people make that same cheesy joke, I’m almost 30 now; even though I have no kids, my dad jokes are kicking in. It’s so good to hear from How Great Were the Robins again. Again you say? Yeah, again. They were on our podcast back in March for one of our 2 episodes on the theme of Lost. You can find that here: Episode 10: Lost (part 2)

But enough about our past love affair, let’s talk about the present. Their newest track “Blind Faith” has absolutely blown me away. Let’s dive into some of the lyrics.

“Stay close and play a song that I know
It will drive me through the right door
At night we all have our Blind Faith
Be kind, tell me the way before sunrise
We strive and flutter like butterflies when
At night we follow our Blind Faith

We moved to a room in the suburbs
Where there’s room for our minds
You told me to not be afraid of the unknown
Of seeing the edge of the world”

So I like that it’s somewhat ambiguous who is being spoken to in this song. It’s someone the speaker loves and knows, and looks to for guidance. Even in the face of the unknown, or the edge of the world, this person or spirit animal or whatever is calming the speaker into the dark, because in the dark, all we really have is our blind faith. That could be seen religiously, or it could just be seen as all the sorts of negative emotions or thoughts that tend to crop up when the sun goes down.

I think the prettiest sentiment in the whole song is “Stay close and play a song that I know”. I don’t know about you guys, but since you’re reading a music blog, I’m going to assume you have some similar experience; when I am feeling down, or lost, or out of sorts, a familiar song is one of my most important crutches. I am so glad to add this song to my library so that I can also play a song that I know next time the darkness threatens.

-Caleb

Want to hear more? We’ve added this song to our June TOTD Spotify playlist. 

 

TOTD: Miserable Chillers “Un Canto a Galicia”

Anyone here like The Smiths? or The Cure? I hear elements of both in the newest single from Miserable Chillers off their upcoming split with Sun Kin (out July 27). This song features Cat Lopez on vocals. The title of this song seems to be a nod to Julio Iglesias who wrote a song with the same title as a nostalgic remembrance of his home country. The thing you need to know about this upcoming album’s concept, is it’s about real life conversations between Kabir Kumar (Sun Kin) and Miguel Gallego (Miserable chillers). They met online, and shared a lot of the experiences as immigrants and first generation kids in America. You can see some of these sentiments reflected in the lyrics:

“what’s the sun feel like in Spain?
we’re in a cafe, it’s afternoon
i smell fish and lemon.
we can sit in the shade!

Suppose our hearts are unblossomed flowers
and when they bloom what color do
you think we’ll see?
la de da! la de da!

How might it perfume the air?
I can’t wait to kiss you there
will we recognize it?
la de da! la de da!

every night when i sleep
i pray it comes to me in dreams
an image or a vision
something i can keep!”

Without knowing the full background, I would’ve assumed the song was about a long-distance relationship, which it is, but obviously with some more intricacies than that. Miguel describes the record as: “The music they made reflected their own conversations; about anxieties induced by social media, their misgivings and fears about making art in a time where a tidal wave of history seems poised to crash down on us, and the need to hold on to faith that another future, however difficult it may be to imagine, is possible.”

In a time that is both very free artistically, and very conservative and scary socially, this is an album I think we can all empathize with, and it’s off to a great start with this song.

-Caleb

Want more music? Find this song and more on our (almost completed) June TOTD spotify Playlist.

 

New Release Friday Morning Commute: Drona “First Word Problems”

“They got some first world problems
Credit cards to solve ‘em
Daddy’s paying for all their bits
Ivy league and Gucci kicks ”

Good morning first worlders. I hope you’re ready to get potentially triggered haha. We have this excellent single from Drona that really puts first world problems on trial. My favorite part of this song is how dressed up the message is. It’s a relatively upbeat track with smooth vocals that presumably those who are being sung about (if they aren’t listening too closely) would be bumping to. I hope no one finds my next analogy offensive, but this song thematically took me back to middle school and rocking out to “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” by Good Charlotte. Yeah, yeah, Good Charlotte sucks, we get it, but when I was 14, that song captured my angst about a subset of people that seemed very villainous to me (and honestly, the 1% still seems pretty villainous to me on the whole).

Press Release: “First World Problems” is a single from Drona’s upcoming EP “The Third World Season.” The song recounts Drona’s experience of moving from India to the U.S. at the age of 17 and the differences in cultures he encountered. Some of the lyrics in the song are direct references to other pop artists (such as “Pills in Ibiza” – Mike Posner, “Lovers from places that you can’t imagine” – Taylor Swift, “Tell me what you want tell me tell me what you want” – Spice Girls) and others are just first world problems that people seemed to have. “First World Problems” is a catchy and playful pop track that seeks to bring a unique perspective to the conversation from a part of the world that is often either ignored and/or stereotyped.

 

Obviously Drona’s background adds a whole new element to the track. In doing some research for this, I actually found out that “first world”=rich countries is actually a misnomer, and it has more to do with location/alliance than anything. Here is a helpful map and brief description from this Quora page:

  1. “First World – American Influenced, Democratic-Industrial Countries.
  2. Second World – Eastern part of the Communist Socialist Industrial States.
  3. Third World – States who have not aligned with any of the above two spheres or simply called Non-aligned Countries.

Being, the leader of the non-aligned movements, India always described as the ‘Third world country’. It never means, India is poor.

By sharing the above information, I want to call out, being an economic giant “India should still be called as 3rd world country”.

India had and will have so many gains, by maintaining this ‘Non-aligned Movement’. India will still be called as 3rd world country in years to come.”

 

I think the beauty in the fact that that Quora page is even necessary kind of illustrates a big point in the song and in Drona’s transition. “First World” countries automatically think they are superior. It’s easy to call to mind our loving President’s “shithole countries” comments from a few months back (or weeks?, years? time doesn’t really operate like normal under this president).

Let’s let Drona’s lyrics wrap this whole thing up shall we?

“So tell me what you want what you really really want
A villa on the french riviera with a Yatch or a plane – whichever’s more expensive
Houses in New York, and London, and Paris
Lovers from places that you can’t imagine
Thinking of all this is making me tired ugh

The struggle is real

We can’t get enough
Of their shiny stuff
I guess I can’t remember
When I had
So much to have
And they make us laugh
With all their fake feuds fake news ”

 

-Caleb

 

TOTD: lennard rubra – “Pina Bausch”

 

I don’t know what your day is like, but it is rainy and slow here in Providence, and this song is a perfect soundtrack to this sort of day. The lo-fi vocals allow you to fill in some gaps yourself on what it might be saying, and the guitar/bass line work is a nice mixture of chill and melancholy.

Hailing from Emilia-Romagna, Italy, lennard rubra reminds me of a mixture of Tame Impala and Youth Lagoon. His EP, named “Escapismo Primaverile” translates to “Spring Escapism” in English. I would say, even without knowing all the lyrics, the song certainly feels like spring escapism.

-Caleb

 

The Flock: Folk and Singer Songwriter – Jeremy Voltz, I Am Soyuz, Kelsi Walker, Bad Flamingo, Gina Cimmelli, Sam Shaky, Lena Fjortoft, Mike O’Malley + Beastie Band

*This first paragraph is a copy of a previously written synopsis of the point behind the new section, The Flock.*

We have two goals here with our blog and our podcast; we want to help you find a bunch of new artists that you love, and we also want to support those artists. We came up with a new idea for a post where we take a genre, and give you a few artists within that genre. That way, it helps everyone. If you come here because you love one artist, you’ve got five more that you’re probably going to love now. That helps you load up your playlist with tracks that will impress your friends, and it also helps the artists hit untapped markets and possibly network with likeminded artists they didn’t know existed. Without further ado, I present “The Flock.”

ARTISTS LOOK HERE: Caleb and I have started a Facebook group that we want to turn into a place for artists from around the country to find likeminded bands to fill shows out, find shows, and really just a community made by artists to talk about the industry. If you’re interested in joining that, CLICK HERE.

Jeremy Voltz – First

We are starting off this edition of The Flock with an absolute stunner. This is Jeremy Voltz’s debut single, and it is really incredible stuff. There are times where you get to hear an artist from the very beginning, and you think to yourself, “This is about to happen for them.” With emotive and honest vocals, First has a simple and thought provoking message; ask for help if you need it and help when you can give it. With a vocal range similar to chart-toppers like Hozier and James Bay, I can pretty much guarantee this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Jeremy.

I Am Soyuz – Alone

With the second track, we get into Swedish artist, I Am Soyuz, and her song that is essentially the antithesis of the above track. The chorus makes the song seem like Felicia, the person behind I Am Soyuz, would rather deal with stuff on her own, not really looking to the outside world for help.

Don’t talk to me stranger
Just do me a favor

Don’t share your joy or sorrow

As an extrovert to the nth degree, I have a feeling that Felicia and I may not be the best of friends, but I’m absolutely in love with her music.

Kelsi Walker – Breathe

I swear I thought this was a deep cut track from Julien Baker. With similar vulnerability, but a timbre that’s all her own once she gets to the buildup, Kelsi Walker pulls back the top on depression and heartache, letting listeners know that there is a light. I was actually talking to a close friend earlier tonight about this exact sentiment. We may not know the right words to say to people, but the important thing is that we say something. We let them know we are there. Depression feels like you’re brain is exhausted from yelling into a vacuum where nobody cares or listens. The important thing is to start a dialogue. This song gives you that starting point.

Bad Flamingo – Lord Knows I Tried

Give a man a mask, and he will tell you the truth. -Oscar Wilde

Masked banditos, person on the left and person on the right (no, seriously. Check their website bio.), are the truth we all need right now. With a rambling melody and honest lyrics, Lord Knows I tried is a track that is made for riding horses into sunsets. Or the scene where the protagonist tries to deliver on promises they haven’t kept. Or scenes where the protagonist realizes that their fight is futile in the face of change. Really, this song belongs anywhere in gritty dramas. Speak of the devil, their music will actually be in an upcoming tv series called Yellowstone that will have all of the aforementioned scenarios throughout the series. Bad Flamingo is already finding a foothold in a major market television series, so get on now so you can be the one to tell your friends about our new masked friends.

Gina Cimmelli – midnight

“i just want to leave the earth
and all its gravity
find new friends in the stars
and sleep for eternity, all eternity

i’m not the strong one
not when it’s said and done
ruined our lives
shouldn’t come as a surprise”

Such a beautiful and haunting sentiment with this one. The vocal stylings of Gina Cimelli are so airy and spacey, which makes “midnight” a perfect track for me. The lyrics fit, but it’s also the entire atmosphere that makes you feel both the magic and loneliness involved in being up late at night, whether you are with someone else or not.

 

 

Sam Shaky – Ghost

Sam Shaky has a voice that feels ethereal but tangible at the same time. His track, Ghost, is a well-written track that could be about anything from an unforgiving breakup to losing a loved one, and if you have been reading the blog for any length of time, you know that we love ambiguity in lyrics. The song leaves the meaning open to interpretation, and uses Sam as a vessel to guide you to your own conclusions.

Lena Fjortoft – Mr. Snow

Besides having perfect album art, Lena also has an incredible voice that is equal parts moving vibrato and steadfast pitch. She straddles that line between folk and crooning country, dipping into both throughout the track. Mr. Snow is a love song… well… it’s about love. And death. Mostly about love though, right Lena? Definitely.

Who am I kidding? We love dark songs here at B-Side Guys, and this track is right up our alley! Bring us all of your death songs, Lena.

Mike O’Malley + Beastie Band – Goblin

I love concept albums. Growlers is that, but takes it a step further. Most concept albums have the lyrics or the instrumentation focus on a specific theme or element. Growlers is something really interesting, and it’s probably unlike anything you’ve heard before. In the words of Mike O’Malley, Growlers is “four songs written on the mandocello on the theme of bad masculinity, patterned on the theory of the four humors. Orchestrated in mosaic – a billion tiny instruments playing tiny parts, like debris underfoot in an awful little room.”

With tight harmonies and honest leads, the vocals work harmoniously with the instrumentals, forming a composition that floats into a new genre that may only be occupied by Mike O’Malley +Beastie Band: orchestral folk.

 

-Seth and Caleb

While you’re here, feel free to poke around the blog. I recommend checking out the podcast and daily features first.

Mid Day Music Blast: Mel Bowen – “On The Wrong Side”

“Looks like summer has finally arrived/ and now the rivers are all running dry”

Man I love me a good horn section. That was the first thing that stood out to me about Mel Bowen’s lovingly crafted track “On The Wrong Side”. If I can direct you to one place in the song worth revisiting again and again, go check out 2:30 or so. There’s a smooth guitar solo that perfectly captures the emotion of this song. So what is that emotion? To me it seems like a cruel irony. “Seems like winter’s getting harder each year” is what immediately follows the summer line I quoted at the top of the article. So it seems to be a damned if you do, damned if you don’t sort of introspection. We hate winter, and it’s coldness, we hate summer and it’s drought inducing heat. We are constantly “on the wrong side” of the proverbial fence, and every time we hop it to the other side, the grass suddenly starts flourishing where we once were.

This irony is how I imagine many of us feel at different points in our lives, I know I have. The solution? Well if I had a good one, I’d be writing self help books and making millions I suppose (of course, even if I had a bad one I could probably do that, *ba dum tss*). But the only thing I’ve ever had help me out of one of those seasons is to stop looking over the fence and try to find any beauty I can underneath my feet. i.e. try to appreciate what’s right in front of me. This is obviously a lot easier said than done. If you liked this track, don’t forget to check out Mel Bowen’s EP “Everyday’s a Holiday’ wherever you get your music.

-Caleb

Another place to find Mel Bowen is on our June TOTD Spotify playlist. You can find that right here.