Marty McKay – Sin’s Disciple

Marty McKay Pride

Zurich based musician Marty McKay delivers a fusion of rap and rock in the same vein as Linkin Park and Alec Empire.

‘Sin’s Disciple’ is an ambitious concept album looking in depth at the seven deadly sins. McKay presents himself as one who chooses to stand up against the evils of captitalism, using music and lyrics as his weapon against the machine.

The album is slickly produced, which scratching in all the right places and female backing vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on an Evanescence record. It’s moody, with a large helping of brooding darkness.

‘Can’t Get Enough’ channels sounds similar to those used by the Gorillaz, while single ‘Emptiness Returns’ opens with an unsettling edginess that would fit very nicely on the soundtrack to the film 28 Days Later. The percussion part is atmospheric and industrial, with a wheezy, crackling snare that drives the track along towards the explosive guitars in the chorus.

The vocals and guitars are consistent throughout – McKay has defined a clear sound he is after and sticks with it. What is most interesting about the record is the parts behind the mix which become clearer on closer inspection with headphones – clicks, vocal tweaks, bleeps, and scratches.

It’s certainly a challenge to use music to get your message across. Years ago Rage Against The Machine eventually stepped back after they felt their agenda wasn’t being truly listened to. If McKay’s message found within ‘Sin’s Disciple’ is able to reach and challenge people in the way he is passionate about, then it will have done its job.

The Striped Bananas – Lady Sunshine

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“Through Duncan’s sunglasses is the darkened world of psychedelic music that is birthed through his guitar. Chantelle’s thunderous bass playing and angelic singing make her a contrast within herself. The bearded drummer, Lowden, smashes his drums with so much tribal fury his hands often turn crimson red.”

The Striped Bananas’ second album ‘Lady Sunshine’ is a psychedelic wash of harmonies and swaying tunes. Opening into track ‘Hymn To Sunshine’ certainly borrows from the Beatles’ ‘Because’, and leads into the first main track with a bright beauty.

‘Dark Peace’ is a jangly number awash with sitars and wailing vocals, slightly reminiscent of Chad and Jeremy’s obscure but classic psych-folk on ‘The Ark’, while title track ‘Lady Sunshine’ moves towards a more modern psychedelic approach, incorporating distorted guitars alongside the bouncy tremolo, organ, and tambourine. A nice touch is the ‘la la la la’ part to the chorus underpinning the vocal line ‘Let your light out’.

‘Wednesday Morning’ moves in a more acoustic direction. The bass section remains prominent and strong through out, and the slide guitar adds a pleasant country feel to the track.

At the mid point of the album, ‘Black Velvet’ offers a more jaunty and upbeat sound, with its flittering bassline, grimy distortion, and insistent drums.

It’s on ‘Oasis Of Time’ however, where the experimental nature of the band really shines through, with its opening sample, wailing theremin, off kilter guitars and stuttering vocals. It brings with it a sense of dread and intrigue.

‘Mistress Of Existence’ opens with an explosion of distortion, driving down the road at 100mph. The track makes good use of the ‘wall of sound approach’, with the guitar and bass parts playing in unison on the mid sections.

Closing track ‘A Kiss (Or Two)’ ends the album by returning to the concept theme of Lady Sunshine with a low-key folk number which is all acoustic guitar and sleigh bells. It’s a touching end to a fascinating album.

Ain’t No Other – Never Really Broke

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“Ain’t No Other is a 12 year underground artist from Virginia that released his first project in winter of 1998. A.N.O. has always stuck to the creed of original music to compliment his light shallow voice bringing his style to life.”

Album opener ‘Devour’ is a dark brooding number carried along with the hip-hop beat and distant vocal yelps that fall away into the darkness. The female vocal offers a beauty to the track with the smouldering “lose control” mantra.

On ‘Stay Away (Selfish)’ the female vocal opens the track with a dubstep flavour before the beat kicks in and A.N.O. starts to deliver his signature sounds. “They say life’s about what you make it / I wasn’t quick to commit but I didn’t make it.” Thematically it stays dark, with the female “Stay away” against the male “Do you really want me to go?” repeats to create an unsettling feel.

‘Whose Birthday Is it?’ features a parping house organ and party ideals: “Whose birthday is it? Shots on me.” while ‘Royalties’ winds it back with a smooth vibe, all lounge pianos and strings.

Later on in the album there’s a lo-fi feel to ‘Hard On Myself’, with some melancholic lyrics “All I got is God and myself / I know, man, I’m hard on myself.”

Album closer ‘Taught You That’ begins with a swaggering brass section and draws things to a close with soulful female vocals, pulling together the overall smooth vibe found across the whole album.

Dropkick – Trapdoor

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“Trapdoor” is a eclectic mix of styles worthy of any party mix: Synth lead? Check. World music percussion? Check. Brass section? Check. Funk bass? Check.

Add to the mix duelling male/female vocals and we’re facing something in the arena of the B-52s and Dee-lite.

Vocally there’s plenty to keep the attention, with real variety in the melody and production.

The mystery of the song is the entire use of the ‘trapdoor’ conceit, wavering between a creepy addition to a dancefloor.

It’s on inspecting the additional mixes on the EP that the elements of the track begin to become more noticeable. The ‘Sleepy Mix’ opens with a more distant warbling synth lead and eventually explodes into some epic reverb, which then dissolves away again.

The ‘Dancing Mamie Mix’ introduces a more prominent house organ and a fatter sound overall with a pumping bass lead and celestial sparkles all over the track.

The ‘E39 Disco 3000 Mix’ has a real 80s vibe and a slight nod to the original Doctor Who theme, with a more live sounding drum fill which sounds really lovely against all the electronica.

The longer mixes are a nice touch as they give the track a little more time to breathe, considering the original comes in at three and a half minutes.

If you’re looking for a fun party track to add to your compilation, make sure you include Trapdoor by Dropkick, and throw in a couple of the remixes for good measure too.

Grab the Dropkick – Trapdoor EP at Bandcamp and check out the Facebook page too.

Skinny Cool Kid – No Risk

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“Skinny Cool Kid is a singer-songwriter from West Chester, PA and “No Risk” is his debut EP of 5 tracks. The album is a blend of rock, folk, and pop that provides thoughtful lyrics, gentle grooves, and white boy soul.”

‘Just Like Me’ skips along with its twangy blues, an uplifting track full of summery vibes and a jazzed out guitar part. It’s a modern take on some classic rock’n’roll styles.

‘All Over Creation’ heads in a more downtempo americana alt-rock direction, and when the piano part kicks in it becomes all kinds of lovely. The lyrics paint a thoughtful and somewhat melancholic picture.

Title track, ‘No Risk’, brings out the self proclaimed Elvis Costello influence, and that is no bad thing. There are even shades of Teenage Fanclub in there when the organ comes in on the chorus.

‘I Roll On’ moves ahead with more groovy guitar work. It’s a relaxed track, but doesn’t linger – the blues riffs make sure the track gathers no moss.

Closing track ‘Beyond An Orange Sky’ offers some snappy guitars with a drum part that punctuates the song throughout, easing off in the chorus with some wide cymbals and a panoramic wash of blues tones.

Skinny Cool Kid has produced an enjoyable set of tunes which ‘colour inside the lines’. Nothing to get offended about, but sometimes that’s just what you want at the end of a long day when you’re winding down.

 

Hemy and Marshall – Rise and Fall

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Aussie band Hemy and Marshall play some funky blues.

Their latest offering, the Rise and Fall EP offers some upbeat rhythms, and on lead track ‘Rise And Fall’ there’s an infectiously catchy chorus; “Lord above, I’ve got two left feet / Sell my soul to get outta this place / A one way ticket to nowhere”.

‘World I Live’ is classic road trip soundtrack even before the opening lyrics; “Finally get the weekend off / Drive off to the headland coast”. Keep your ears open for the brass section on the chorus and the honky-tonk piano – fun music to get swept away with.

‘Sanctify’ offers some slightly darker tones, again with a prominent piano part. When the chorus arrives, “Come get sanctified”, there is a strong gospel vibe, with Hemy’s vocals coming off as a kind of deep south preacher man.

If you’re after some straight-up rock and roll, Hemy and Marshall might just be what you are looking for, so why not give them a spin?

Electrician – Wet And Ripping The Lake In Two

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Neil Campau is a rare, rare breed.

While other artists tend towards heavy production and sparkle to gain attention, Campau (under the ‘Electrician’ moniker) opts to wear his heart on his sleeve and present his political, social, moral and spiritual views as a backdrop for the music.

“Since 2011, Electrician has been releasing singles showing the evolution in Campau’s songwriting from a focus on historical themes and politics to a more personal expression of his anarchist sensibilities. He explains the songs as “shadowy” and “intimate” and being about “death and destruction and friendship.””

The latest release, Wet And Ripping The Lake In Two, was

“conceived and created in a squatted house in the Ghost Town neighborhood of Oakland, California, in December 2013 and January 2014. The final mix happened at Laguna Seca, an RV park and race track in Salinas, California. All of these songs are about friends, family, betrayal, and love.”

The album begins with ‘Our Scalps Are Dry’, featuring a noisy synth wash that at times dissolves into pure white noise, with Campau’s nonchalant vocal sitting on top. It’s unsettling and intense, and perfectly encapsulates the feelings he expresses of dissatisfaction and a sense of loneliness. Further along, a house organ cuts through, pulsing energetically against the other frequencies and adding a melodic glue to the composition. Underneath it all, if you listen hard, a distant guitar offers its tones but never once forces itself into the mix. Touching.

After an abrupt end to the opening track, ‘I couldn’t feel safe’ couldn’t be more different – a fragile acoustic track that comes in at just over a minute that presents themes of domestic abuse, fear and breakdown of trust. Heartbreaking.

‘That’s How We Do It (Again)’ shuffles along with a lo-fi drum kit and an acoustic guitar with oblique lyrics: “Your breath blows through my fingers / Though my nails are made of glass / And they shatter in your eyes”.

Instrumental track ‘The Cave That It Lives In’ plays out as a drum solo with plenty of room in the mix, that gets increasingly frantic until it starts to resemble a packet of popcorn in the microwave, not unlike something Lightning Bolt would put out.

Closing track ‘You Can’t Kill Everyone’ is what you might call a ‘slow dance’ number. The chord progression, wistful vocals, and synth lead all work together to create a sense of nostaliga and melancholy.

Neil Campau gives such a genuine performance, and there is such integrity in his work as an artist committed creating art no matter what the cost. Get this album, and support him in all that he does. We need more artists like him.

The One2s – EP One

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The One2s deliver their own special brand of shoegazey post-punk with latest release, “EP One”.

‘Wide Awake’ blasts in with a riff that channels the Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy In The UK’. While the vocals carry a distinct punk/indie vibe, the music itself offers a playful urgency with its mid-point delay-ridden guitar solo and clattering cymbals.

‘Any Other Time But Now’  heads in a moodier direction, starting out with a tone not dissimilar to The XX. As the song progresses the guitarwork moves into some Pixies-esque yelps, all the while retaining a melodic sensibility.

‘Running Out Of Time’ continues with an up-tempo duel between guitar and bass which holds steady for the duration of the track. The energy of the song feels somewhere between early Strokes and the Stooges. The unrelenting drive fits well with the track’s title, as if the song itself is being played to meet a deadline.

Closing track ‘Alone’ opens with an introduction that wouldn’t be at all out of place on My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’, but it’s all misdirection – twenty seconds later the song sidesteps into a clean but consistently edgy chord driven power-pop track. It’s on this final track that the vocals establish the One2s as the deliciously post-punk, post-grunge, shoegazey outfit they are.

Sprightly Moans – Demos III

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When bands cite their influences, it can be easy to make quick judgements before even hearing the music.

Sprightly Moans make some fascinating and bold attempts at describing their sound. In their own words:

Sprightly Moans sounds like Jimi Hendrix, Lightning Bolt, the White Stripes, and The Bad Plus getting into a fistfight, and no one came out unscathed.

It’s not an unfair comparison. I’d probably throw Eddie Vedder into the mix for good measure.

Sprightly Moans are somewhat refreshing in style. In an age where ‘rock’ is arguably dying out, “Demos III” has a lot to offer: grit, creativity, and a sense of humour.

‘Blushes All Around’ splutters its way along (the White Stripes influence is immediately apparent on the staccato drums,) with a guitar riff reminiscent of Guided By Voices’ ‘I Am A Tree’.

The fizzing guitars continue on ‘I Wanna Be Afraid’, dragging the warbling vocals along almost against their will. This is noisy music that gives plenty of room to get lost in.

And after all that, the curveball is found in ‘Love Is Nothing Without Eternity’ – a beautifully delicate acoustic number with a Hawaiian vibe. It’s a preciously fragile song which wouldn’t be at all out of place on an indie movie soundtrack.

What sets Sprightly Moans apart against today’s landscape of weird indie bands is the way they have tailored their sound using several distinctly uncool methods (vibrato? really?) and presented it in a shockingly cool fashion.

To make their music all the more desirable, the physical CDs are released as highly limited editions with beautifully handmade artwork.

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