Hitting play on Bleak Plaza was a good idea. The Denver based group’s debut album kicks off with an immediate hit of energy on the title track “Fire in The Olfactory”, and it doesn’t soon let back on the acceleration. Track 3 “Say It and It Dies” brings a satisfying change of pace via catchy driving beats that transition from garage-y slacker rock to swirling kraut rock. These moods are complimented by clever motifs in the lyrics such as “when we’re dancing in the dark do you really care what the lyrics are…”.
Furthermore, this album will never bore you with stale grooves and patterns. Track 4 “Some Things Happen” starts off with a funky no-wave-esque groove that drops into a agony-tinted heart pounding finish to the song.
The second half of Bleak Plaza continues with the same pattern of passionate noisy pop songs with dynamic genres layered on top. The tight driving feeling of “Night of Vampires” is reminiscent of “Hard to Explain” by The Strokes. It brings a similar lovely feeling of driving in a car in a city filled with neon lights.
The final song “Until I Untie” quickly became my favorite track off the record (because I’m an absolute sucker for any simple powerful pop song such as this). In addition, the guitar tones are on point with perfect EQ, drive, and modulations. This song will make you feel as scared as you did the first time you felt that classic teenage reflex of pure romance squeeze your chest.
Bleak Plaza wastes no time in fulfilling its purpose of delivering an eclectic stream of toe tapping lo-fi power pop that will make you feel like you’re falling backwards into a swimming pool filled with nostalgic goop. I sincerely hope that this Denver based group will come play in SLC soon. This one will definitely be in heavy rotation in the rock/indie and Midday Mix shows right here on K-UTE Radio.
As a long time fan of the LA alt-rock band, Bad Suns, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit down and talk to them about their newest album Disappear Here. Along with that, I was also able to interview the band about their current tour, as well as ask a few questions about their previous album, Language & Perspective.
My first encounter with Bad Suns was in 2014 when I ran into their music online. I quickly fell in love with their songs, and after a couple months I received their Language & Perspective vinyl as a birthday gift. Their catchy hooks and energetic songs make them the perfect band to sit down and jam out to, but they also don’t shy away from music that focuses on more serious issues and contain a lot more lyrical depth.
I met up with the band at The Complex on February 28th; the winter weather was still lingering as fans huddled up in a line outside of the venue. I met up with the band inside where I was able to meet all of the members. I was first introduced to Christo Bowman (Lead vocals and guitar), then Gavin Bennett (Bass), Ray Libby (Guitar), and Miles Morris (Drums).
After we all sat down, I asked the group about their newest album, Disappear Here, and how their sound has changed and evolved from their first album, Language & Perspective.
“We felt in a lot of ways that Language & Perspective feels like the first couple of dates with a person; you present yourself the best that you can, showing the best sides of yourself, but with Disappear Here it’s kind of a bit more like falling in love…There’s more vulnerability there and it goes a bit deeper, but at the same time it’s still the same person,” Christo explained.
While Language & Perspective is still one of my favorite albums, it’s easy to tell that Disappear Here feels more confident and structured while still maintaining their original sound.
I then asked the band about the album title itself, Disappear Here, and how the name came about.
Christo explained, “We were in the studio and I was reading the book Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, which is one of my favorites, and there’s a billboard that appears in the narrative a few times that says ‘Disappear Here.’ I remember we were thinking of album titles…and it kind of encapsulated everything we wanted it to. It’s like instructions too, to an extent, it’s like sit down, put your headphones on, and disappear here.”
For myself, music has always felt like an escape, but with the track list for Disappear Here it’s very easy to follow the album’s directions; just sit back and get lost in the music.
Lastly, I talked to Bad Suns about their most recent tour. Coincidentally, Salt Lake City was their first show on the list, so I asked them about what they all looked forward to the most when performing live on their tours.
“I was talking to my uncle just the other day about this. It’s a really cool real life manifestation of your hard work. It manifests itself into people physically spending their time to go buy a ticket or drive to the show; it’s really encouraging.” Ray explained.
Christo chimed in, “Yeah it feels like the reward aspect of what we do…It’s one thing when we put a record out, and it’s great to see that people are listening to it…but you don’t really get the full picture until you come to a show and you see a room full of people singing along to the entire record and you go ‘Oh wow, this is real, these people are actually spending time with our music,’ and that’s just an incredible feeling.”
It was definitely really nice to see how humbled the band was to be playing live, and as a fan, I was definitely humbled to be able to sit and interview them.
If you’ve never listened to Bad Suns before, make sure to check out the song below. Sadly, they’ve already passed through Utah, but if you’d like to see them in the future during the rest of their tour, be sure to check out their tour dates for this Summer!
This first release of the two volumes, which will be catalogued together as the band’s fourth record, takes on the Yin of Chinese philosophy – the Yang to be taken care of in vol. 2. Roughly translating to “the shady side of the hill,” the Yin in vol. 1 is used as a vessel to take on a more grim subject matter, moving through night and dark, bumping into ideas like how vague and black the world can be. This is all according to the duo themselves, Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada. They found themselves in the darkness of a Portland winter at the start of making this record, and having ended in the season of infectious scents that is a northwestern spring, they thought it would only make sense to evolve this record as winter to spring, night to day, dark to light – Yin to Yang.
Pigeonholing themselves in the genre of what they call “repeat-o rock” (their incessant repetition and uncompromising loop of riffs provides a cadence that probably first attributes to punk legends, Suicide) they surface their dark contemplations, batting off with “The Death Set.” Setting the stage for rest of the record’s ambience, the track contains relentless fuzzed out guitar, a beat you can coolly nod your head back and forth to, synths attacking from all directions and soft, yet demented, gospel-like vocals that keep you in tune with the evolution taking place. “Cold Fear” and “Will of the Devil” bring on more of the same allowing the band to flex their commitment and show that if something gets stuck in their heads it won’t be over for at least another five minutes. But it’s when we get to “Creepin” that perspective shifts a bit and listening to it you feel like you could be on some coastal highway zipping along the beach in a convertible. Ironically, given the dark tones and discrepancy of light within the rest of the album, this will probably be the composition that sticks with you come the end of the album. However, I might only think that because we are in the dead of winter and I could really use a beach. “Cross-Town Fade” and “Cult of Moloch” are great tracks that alleviate the bite from a cold breeze; the former surfaces the likely influence of Suicide bringing out old-school drum machines that compliment the playful synthesizers that might sound familiar if you’re into the Brooklyn art project Japanther, and the latter elevates the band to their most tenacious mode demonstrating a duel of two soloing guitars above the atmosphere of drum machines and fuzzed-out-guitars-on-repeat.
Vol. 1 comes to its conclusion, and where it will pivot to the Yang and sunny skies in Vol. 2, in “White Rose.” The track channels in with sound of ambient winds, almost like air moving through an indefinite valley, void of time and consequence, until the beat kicks in and you remember that you’re listening to a song. The song itself moves in and out of its gospel, clashing synths and guitar solos, but never let’s that beat stop. Not for a second. Not until the ambient winds return after 10 minutes and it fades away under the stiff breeze, and you’re once again lost. The winds push through the valley, revealing to your mind that they will come again, like all seasons – winter, spring, summer, fall, winter again – and that life is just a repetition of rotation of earth. Like the beat, the winds fade away and you’re back from void, but with all of this still realized, and it’s the moment this record ends that you understand that a good life isn’t a lack of repetition, but rather, an excess of variation that you can fade in and out of.
It’s TRV aka The Realest Vegan aka The King of Soundcloud Finds, back with a list of what I’m listening to this week. First off, another hit from the jazz group gone electronic production trio, 3lo, this time with their spin on Rae Sremmurd’s Black Beatles, aptly titled Bl5kBtls. The song takes an interesting, future bass inspired twist on the chart topping hit from 2016 (ignore the poorly photoshopped album art, this song is sick trust me).
Tennyson has been one of my favorite artists for a long time, and in celebration of his upcoming concert at Kilby Court (which you should definitely check out), I had to throw in Like What? An audiophiles delicacy, this track first pleases your senses, then takes you on a journey as you search for post-production perfection. It’s weird, raw, and groovy.
Quickly Quickly’s Trilogy is an electronic masterpiece produced solely by a highschooler out of Portland, OR. The progression of themes in this song proves this kid doesn’t mess around, displaying his musical prowess over his peers. His musical progressiveness in this emerging electronic sub-genre puts him leaps ahead and makes him a must watch as he rises through the ranks of soundcloud’s greats.
To round off this week’s finds, we’ve got a super funk collab from Tall Black Guy and Darondo. Doing other collaborations with rising artists like Masego and Rommel Donald, Tall Black Guy has a refreshing retro-groove influenced sound that’s already earned a timeless place in my books. If you’re not riding Tall Black Guy Railway, you better hop on soon.
I hope you guys enjoyed this weeks tracks. Hit me up on twitter @K_UTETRV and let me know what you’ve been listening to!
The Velvet Underground was an American Rock band from the big apple. It was formed by Lou Reed and featured John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Angus Maclise. The Velvet Underground was managed by Andy Warhol for a spell, and was the house band for some Warhol events from 1966 to 1967. Warhol insisted that Nico, a German singer, collaborate with TVU at some point, and after a year of working on the album, it was finally released by Verve Records in March of 1967. The album cover is famous for its Warhol flare: a yellow banana sticker with “Peel slowly and see” printed near the tip of the banana. Consumers who peeled the banana skin found a pink, peeled banana beneath.
Although they had almost no success during their existence on the shelves and streets, the Velvet Underground is now recognized as one of the most influential bands of the rock era. Their album featuring Nico that debuted in 1967 was called “the most prophetic rock album ever made” by Rolling stone in 2003.
After TVU moved on from Andy Warhol as manager, they made White Light/ White Heat, which was often referred to by the band as an album that reflected, “consciously anti-beauty”
From “Who Loves The Sun”, which sounds like a mix of the Smiths and the Beatles, to “Femme Fatale”, which sounds like a melancholy tune from a coming-of-age comedy-drama movie by John Hughes, The Velvet Underground has a wide span of music. While “Pale Blue Eyes” acts as a quiet lullaby to a lost lover, “Sister Ray” is a 17 minute rock anthem to drugs, violence, and transvestism. In 2013, Velvets fanbase spiked with the death of Lou Reed. Today, The Velvet Underground is an “oldie but a goodie” and is more popular than they ever were in the 1960s.
Tegan and Sara are identical twin sisters from Alberta, Canada who were once just teenage girls creating demo tapes in their high school’s recording studio. They created their first professional demo the year they graduated high school after being awarded free studio time in a Garage Warz band competition in Calgary. Tegan and Sara released their first album Under Feet Like Ours independently in 1999 before signing with Neil Young’s Vapor Records.
As they continued making music they gained more and more recognition. The White Stripes covered their song “Walking with a Ghost” from their 2004 album So Jealous. Their 2007 album The Con was co-produced by Jason McGerr of Death Cab for Cutie and Matt Sharp of Weezer. Two years later their album Sainthood sold 24,000 copies its first week and in 2012 Closer sold 49,000 copies its first week reaching number three on the Billboard’s Top 200 Albums.
This year they released their new record Love You to Death that is an 80s style pop album with a modern edge and catchy lyrics. Their featured single is called “Boyfriend” about being best friends with a straight girl, catching feelings and not wanting to keep it a secret anymore. Tegan and Sara are both openly lesbian and have made use of the spotlight to become prominent advocates politically and socially for the LGBT community. In 2014 they were even honored in the Outstanding Music Artist category at the 25th GLAAD Media Awards.
Being an indie pop band they have a more carefree vibe, even in a song like “That Girl” about things getting tough and not being enough there is still a sense of positivity. This type of music has a niche audience because of its throwback style and its glam pop feel. Tegan and Sara’s own fashion sense is a bit androgynous and on the album cover their faces are obscured but their dark short hair gives them a 90s Winona Ryder look except for the bright, bold eye makeup which is seemingly an homage to artists like Boy George or David Bowie.
The song “Faint of Heart” has Madonna-esque vocals and the quintessential 80s hand clap that you might be familiar with. In the music video for this song, kids are at a lip sync battle wearing outfits reminiscent of Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Grace Jones. This album pays tribute to the eccentric and talented artists who have paved the way and are an inspiration to the young people who admire their work.
Tegan and Sara are on the Fall 2016 Tour and will perform at In The Venue 219 S. 600 W. Salt Lake City 84101 on September 22 at 6:30 pm.
Ivouries is the solo project of singer and multi-instrumentalist Jaxon Garrick. A Sandy native, Garrick has dreamed of being a musician since he was 12 years old. Music plays such a big role in his life he practically considers it a religious feeling. “Music is something that is so much a part of me that I guess I use it cathartically almost,” he said.
With the release of his new EP, Garrick is setting himself apart from other artists by infusing mellow vocals with hypnotic experimental beats. He mainly plays the guitar, but is not afraid to pick up another instrument as long as it can contribute to what he’s working on. Lately, Garrick has been captivated by synthesizers. “The possibilities and sounds you can create with analog and digital synthesizers are endless and I wish they were more appreciated!” During the writing process of his EP, Garrick’s life was changing and he found solace in his music. He said he found inspiration in Bon Iver and the way he isolated himself to make a record.
The EP starts off with the song “I Just Want It”, which chronicles the complicated relationship between two people. He sounds frustrated with the relationship he is in and doesn’t know what to do. The song sounds almost dreamlike through the verses when he ponders the actions of the other person.
Another track that deserves recognition is “Regret It”. It almost transports you back to the 80s with heavy synths that play throughout the song. Garrick revisits his themes of relationships and heartbreak as he sings about the heavy burden of a breakup. Towards the end of the song, he truly shows off his guitar skills by playing an impressive solo.
Listening to the EP, a song that really stood out to me is “Run Rill” because of the softer, acoustic rhythm it has that differs from the rest of the tracks. The soft ballad tells the story of two people wanting to get away from everything and starting over. It was refreshing to hear this track because of how stripped down it sounded compared to his other songs.
Ivouries definitely has a unique blend of sound mixing together hip-hop, indie rock, and electronic. It’s no surprise considering Garrick names artists like Lorde, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Grimes as his influences to name a few. “I really respect artists who have somewhat of an anxiety to always be thinking about how they can reinvent themselves. Never really settling or zoning in on one sound.”