Morning Commute – Culture Wars – “Bones”

Let’s get this morning started with a little energy. Culture Wars have such a great vibe to them that combines clean vocals with interesting alt. rock and synth elements. It reminds me a good bit of a band like Local Natives, but maybe with a little heavier vibe to it (see the short breakdown near 2:40 or so). One of my favorite things about Culture Wars is that they seem to lean into the creative process, without getting bogged down in the scientific way some modern music tech can halt your flow.

“We write the heart of every song using a couple of synthesizers just to get chords and melody. We’re not really technical guys. I still don’t know how to work half of these things; I’m basically just turning knobs until it makes a noise that I like,” Dugan explains. “We’re creating most of this on our laptops. A lot of our tracks have the appearance of a rock song, but underneath there’s all sorts of weird experimental shit going on. Like, we’ll strike a match and record that sound, and put it through a reverb plug-in, and stick it underneath a track so it sounds like a percussion instrument. Or we’ll record the sound of the rain outside on our iPhones, and we’ll put some reverb and delay on that, and use it as a texture.”

I think that’s a really cool way to look at all the new ways we can use technology in music. Use it, but don’t worry about doing the “right thing”, just keep playing until something inspires you. I know this song has me inspired to pull out my MIDI keyboard and play with effects all afternoon.

Bio: Leather clad Austin rockers Culture Wars “come blazing out of the gate with an addictive electro-rock sound and swagger” (PopMatters). Merging edgy, infectious song craft with inventive electronic textures, punchy guitar work, insistent melodic hooks and the commanding vocals of charismatic front man Alex Dugan, the band makes vibrant, bracing music that’s sonically adventurous yet effortlessly accessible.

 

Culture Wars’ self-titled debut EP (2017) saw its first taste of success, with their single ‘Bones’ rising to #43 on Alternative radio chart, meanwhile their previous single ‘Lies’ cracked one million streams. Culture Wars has quickly established themselves as a band with their own unique style and vibe, writing and recording both from home on laptops and in the remote setting of Sonic Ranch, located just 45 minutes toward the border outside of El Paso, TX. Alongside production by longtime friend and collaborator Robert Sewell, and mixing by Manny Marroquin (Kanye West, Imagine Dragons) and Alan Moulder (The Killers, Nine Inch Nails), Culture Wars have an extensively talented team behind them. The band return with their latest single ‘Let Me Down’ (2019), which Dugan says was created in “now-typical Culture Wars style, post-vodka and pickle shots at 2am at Sonic Ranch in Tornillo.”

-Caleb

Bonus Episode: Sam Damask (Grand Commander) Interview

Check out this amazing interview with Sam Damask where we discuss his music video for Grand Commander – Bad Bad Rabbit, Chiptune, being a solo artist, artistic integrity, video games, play a fun quiz, and much more.

Here is his music video for “Bad Bad Rabbit”:

-Caleb

Want more music? We’ve added this track and more to our July TOTD playlist on Spotify.

 

New Release Friday: HAUS Music, Ryan Svendsen, Jesse Jo Stark, Cara Hammond, Joe Garvey, The Millennial Club, The Little Miss, The Fey

Happy official Summer everyone! To kick off this most glorious season, we have a bevy of brand new summer related tracks for you to check out. Some of you may have come here because your favorite band shared this on social media, and please, do check their write up, but stick around for a while; if we have good enough taste to like your favorite band, I bet we have more out there for you too.

HAUS Music – “Rêves Ephémères”

Let’s get this started strong here with HAUS Music. This is another one of those songs we like to share where we don’t understand any of the lyrics (because we are stupid Americans) but the vibe of the song is so infectious that I don’t think I need to. Music is a universal language. Luckily I do have a little bit of background with what they are talking about:

“Mitchell says, “Rêves Ephémères translates to Ephemeral Dreams. It is an acknowledgment that stories that we invent for ourselves to carry us forward can and will just as often carry us somewhere we didn’t intend to go. For me it is a gentle reminder that happiness doesn’t come all at once at some point in the future; instead, it grows slowly over time. Don’t get trapped in a cycle of unhappiness thinking it can bring you anything but pain.”

There’s no doubt that this song is Ephemeral, whether you know every word that is being mentioned or not. I hope we can remember his message about happiness, and avoiding unhappiness throughout this summer.

Ryan Svendsen – “One Hundred Percent Ft. Jerome Thomas”

Have you figured out the beautiful thing about these lists yet? If you come in for one band, of a certain style, you may find another band of a completely different style to also add to your list. I think this song has to be on everyone’s list. Ryan Svendsen is a talented musician who has been featured on tracks by Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato, and here you can see his creative vision taking shape under his own direction. I have to say, it’s gorgeous. Like all the songs in this list, it is absolutely perfect summer music, and luckily Ryan released this just in time for the first day of summer. Let me encourage anyone who likes horns to go check out Ryan’s back discography. It’s perfect for chilling out, background for work, or a party. It’s multifarious.

 

Jesse Jo Stark – “Dandelion”

The first thing I thought when I heard this song was how anyone who likes Lana Del Rey will almost certainly get a kick out of Jesse Jo Stark. They have similar vocal styles, and musical accompaniment. With this song, Jesse Jo Stark sings about loving something that you shouldn’t, and how complicated that quickly gets. Anyone got any theories on the title? I mean obviously Dandelions are a nice yellow flower, but I also tend to think of the seed heads, and how quickly they can blow away. Maybe this relationship is more like the latter?

Cara Hammond – “How I Feel”

How about this amazing bluesy single from Cara Hammond? This is the first song off new EP called Nice Girl, coming out in the fall. When asked about the song Cara describes it as: “How I Feel is a very relatable song about love, loss and nostalgia,” explains Cara “I think the track picks up on those little details and memories which are present in all types of relationships, making it a very powerful song” I can certainly hear that. There is a  mention of going out to bars, just hoping to see someone and ask how they are, and a lot of that terrible feeling after breaking up with someone that was once important, and no longer feeling very important to them. Really heart wrenching stuff, wrapped in a beautifully sung package.

 

Joe Garvey – “What Your Time Is Worth”

Joe Garvey asks us an important question with this smooth funk/pop song: “Do you know what your time is worth?” He begs us to consider how quickly the time passes, even a nice 80 year life is too short. In an age of increasing technology, distraction, and hustle and bustle, it seems that time isn’t what it used to be. Are you using yours the way you want to? Are you wasting days? I read once that we have about 4500 days worth of free time, meaning not work, not sleep, etc. That’s a disturbingly low number. Do you know what your time is worth?

 

The Millennial Club – “Santa Barbara”

This track is the perfect summer track. It has the perfect amount of groove to it; it even has a little bit of a California Dre whine going in the background. According to their promo materials: “At an early age, The Millennial Club has managed to blend dance-inspired 80’s pop, beat-driven 90’s R&B, and emotional love-centered lyricism to shape their original Southern California sound.” I would say that says it better than I can. These guys are on the rise, and I could even see them breaking into a top 40 style market eventually. They mix everything I love about summer into one convenient package.

The Little Miss – “American Dream”

Usually I like to get into the lyrics and try to dissect them, put my own spin on the song, etc. This song is too important to not get the words straight from the artist’s mouth. I will say this though, the irony is something that you can taste in this song, and it doesn’t taste like apple pie. The American Dream is an afterthought, a delusion that people once had, a book that you never got around to reading, collecting dust in the attic. I think it should be, at least. The thought that the American Dream has to be this perfect series of check boxes is just a way to sell more ranch style homes and Coke.

“I wrote ‘American Dream’ at a time when the tension in our country felt palpable. This was five years ago. Now, seemingly more divided than ever, I questioned whether or not I should release a song that sounds so blindly idealistic. To be clear, “American Dream” is not an endorsement of this country as it stands now. I don’t think that it is unpatriotic to think that we can do better than this. The American Dream, as it has been fed to us – Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – has not delivered on its promises for many (if not most of us). So, while the song yearns for this made-up, sepia-toned time that never existed, it notes exactly that: that it never existed. We’re enchanted by our own, but very limited folklore – the pioneers, the Wild West, the civil war, the nuclear family, the moon landing, etc. We have romantic notions about who we are and who we’ve been, and it is tempting, for all of us, to want to wear those rose-colored glasses. But in order to become better, and in order to progress, we need to take off the glasses and take a good look in the mirror. We all want the same thing: to feel proud of the country we call home – we just need to accept the fact that it might be healthier to learn from our history rather than glamorize it. The lives of so many depend on it.”

 

The Fey – Contender

What is this?!? I seriously have no idea. It blends so many different genres into one crazy rollercoaster, and I loved every second of the ride. I read the bands description of their sound, and it reads as follows: “Dominantly a new age American rock-soul-r&b band, The Fey, also expresses a touch of the contemporary vibes of hip-hop and pop.” As a guy who listens to over 20 new bands a day, when you read a statement like that, you think, “Yeah, okay. Which part do you do well, though?” Most of the time it’s like a restaurant that has 50 menu items, and all of them are average. This is not most of the time. These guys know who they are, and they do rock, soul, r&b, hip-hop, and pop equally well. With strong guitar riffs and organs, smooth vocal runs, and a nice hip-hop verse, The Fey is the true definition of a multi-genre group.

 

-Caleb and Seth

 

As always, check out all of these tracks and more on our June Spotify Playlist. 

Video of the Day: The Go Rounds “Code”

Time to put your trippy pants on again. It seems like I’ve been sharing a lot of psychedelic sort of vibes recently. The first time watching through this video, you’ll probably find yourself just entranced by the visuals. There are interesting overlays. Moments where faces are singing over epileptic screen flashes. There’s really a lot to catch. It reminds me of a mix between 60s/70s special effects and getting caught between channels on old analog televisions.

Image result for the go rounds

Alright. Are you past the initial experience? It’s really cool in it’s own right, but you know how we like to get into the lyrics a bit around here.

“I don’t know what is wrong
But I could use a little warning
I don’t know what to do
So I will cry all in blue and gold

And hope that we can crack the code
Open up the covered eye
Tryin how to figure why
When again we’ll have the time ”

So maybe the trippy visuals do work quite well into it. The “Code” in the title seems to imply a want to crack whatever code is holding human intuition or intellect back. I assume “opening up the covered eye” refers to the 3rd eye. The fabled concept that we have an eye (sometimes referred to as our calcified Pineal gland) that would allow us to see parts of the world that normal consciousness can’t tap into. Some people may use drugs, meditation, prayer, etc. to tap into this eye, and crack the code. Maybe I’ll just use this song and watch the video until something clicks.

-Caleb

As always, we have added this song to our ongoing June TOTD Spotify playlist. Check that out here.