Pack of Three: Alice Merton, Slothrust, Thirsty Curses

Fiery new wave disco rage pop. Crunchy stream of consciousness folk-punk. Jaunty, fun-loving indie pop.

That’s what we’ve set up for you in this week’s Radio Free Lightning Bug Pack of Three. Knock ’em down one by one by listening here.

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“Lash Out” by Alice Merton

Name: Alice Merton

From: Berlin, Germany (by way of many points on the map)

Sound: Upbeat guitar pop with a hint of PJ Harvey bite and Florence Welch attack, ready made for the dance floor

Story: Alice Merton was formally trained in composition in Manheim, Germany, although she spent her early life in Canada, with stops in the US, England, and Germany with an English dad and a German mum. How’s that for an international sensation? Recently, she’s done the rounds on North American TV appearances including Kelly & Ryan, and The Late, Late Show with James Corden, and has been listed as “one to watch” in Rolling Stone. This song featured on her latest EP No Roots, is about resisting the pull to fall in line with the expectations of others, instead forging a path of one’s own.

Links:

Official site

YouTube

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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“Birthday Cake” by Slothrust

Name: Slothrust

From: Boston, MA, USA

Sound: Folk-influenced alternative rock infused with punk rock spirit and stream of consciousness flow.

Story: Originally premiering on Consequence of Sound, this track from Bostonian-bred, LA-based indie rock band Slothrust (Sloth-rust as opposed to slo-thrust, friends), this cut as taken from the band’s upcoming record The Pact (out September 14, 2018). It’s one of a selection of singles that serve as a harbinger to that release. You can read this interview on Billboard magazine with creative lead Leah Wellbaum who talks about the new record, among other things. You can then hear yet another single of theirs, “Peach”.

Links:

Official site

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Spotify

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“Dimlit Cathedral” by Thirsty Curses

Name: Thirsty Curses

From: Raleigh, NC, USA

Sound: Cheeky, bouncy indie pop that doesn’t take itself so goddamn seriously, but seriously gets in your head all the same.

Story: “The only way to get these songs out of your head is with a bullet” says Thirsty Curses front man Wilson Getchell during the recording of the band’s newest record All Shook Up, which is out right now, friends. That’s kinda dark, maybe. But this tune helps to illustrate the point by its brightness, buoyed up by frenetic playing and affable delivery, not to mention a kaleidoscopic animated video that matches with the childlike energy of the music. The song and the rest of the record was produced by none other than Mitch Easter, he of Let’s Active and the early production chair occupier for a little band called REM.

Links:

Official site

YouTube

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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Which way do the musical winds blow for you, gentle wayfaring music fan? Tell me your tales in the comments!

Happy Listening!

Major Sings “Better With You In It”

With great panache and not just a hint of theatricality comes pop soul and r&b arbiter who goes by the name Major (his actual birth name, mind). This is his latest single, an anthem to love.

Have a listen.

This is a song that falls into the genre of soul music, I suppose. But there’s some traditional pop in there, too. It sounds to me like a showtune from a show that doesn’t exist – yet. “Better With You In It” is a love song in the old school. Yet too, it’s a tender expression of male affection free of bravado and posturing, even if Major’s effervescent personality that exudes self-confidence is very much in place. Not many could pull off a throne and crown in their video, and still manage to sound humble in the face of love.

This isn’t exactly Major’s first rodeo in the pop music game. In addition to his own career as a solo artist, he’s written tunes for other artists as well, including Ariana Grande. His song “Why I Love You” caught the attention of one Stevie Wonder, who declared it to be the “wedding song of the summer”. This cut, “Better With You In It”, is featured on his upcoming new record Even More, due out on September 7, 2018.

In the meantime, check out these links.

Official site

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Pack of Three: Modern Leisure, Freedom Fry, The Rad Trads

Melancholically languid indie rock. Gentle and easy folk-pop from America and France. Brown-sound inspired roots rock. It’s all here for you, questing music fans.

Lend me your ears, friends! This is this week’s Radio Free Lightning Bug’s Pack of Three.

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“Never Got The Buzz” by Modern Leisure

Name: Modern Leisure

From: Denver, CO, USA

Sound: Wistful indie rock that carries the weight of the world, yet is quietly content in doing so.

Story: Denver’s Modern Leisure is led by Casey Banker, who’s shared stages with Mazzy Star and the Lumineers, with the band he’s in realizing the same kind of spirit as each of those. This song was inspired by the idea of a spark that can exist between two people, yet often never seems to get off of the ground. Can you relate? The song is taken from the band’s debut record, Super Sad Rom Com.

Links:

Facebook

Spotify

Twitter

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“Tidal Wave” by Freedom Fry

Name: Freedom Fry

From: Los Angeles, CA, USA via Paris, France

Sound: Countrified folk-pop with glorious vocal blends and with pedal steel that comes in like a cool breeze on a summer day.

Story: Comprised of American Bruce Driscoll and Paris-born Marie Seyrat, Freedom Fry is the name of the band. The two met on the set of a music video and began writing songs together in 2011, with several singles and EPs since. This cut is a paean to love that is both desired and overwhelming at the same time. I am a convert, friends. And you will be, too. The new album is called Classic and is out right now.

Links:

Official site

YouTube

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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“Good Luck Unto Ya” by The Rad Trads

Name: The Rad Trads

From: New York City, NY, USA

Sound: “Rock of Ages” era The Band textures, complete with loads of brass and celebratory vocal arrangements.

Story: To contrast the ecstatic love song from Freedom Fry, this one is a kiss-off track, albeit and extremely joyful one. “Good Luck Unto Ya” is an anthem to the end of a relationship that is marked with more of a sense of relief than sadness. The track conjures up The Band to my ears, singing drummer and all (that would be John Fatum), but also the trad jazz-style horn arrangements. As of this writing, The Rad Trads are on tour, promoting their second and newest full-length release On Tap, which will be released on September 14.

Links:

Official site

YouTube

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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What think ye, good travellers of musical highways and byways? Don’t keep me in suspense! Share your impressions in the comments below.

Happy Listening!

 

The Shakes Play “With Every Moment”

Orange County, CA’s The Shakes mix indie-pop hooks with ambient textures, certainly evidenced by this track “With Every Moment”. The song just happens to be the title track to the band’s most recent EP With Every Moment, released last month. The song is inspired by real-life, and even shocking events, initiating a reassessment of what’s most important.

Listen here.

The inspiration for this song began with a traffic accident in which Sean Perry of The Shakes was indirectly involved, suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere. A car streaked past him on the right through an amber light. Another car collided with it, flipping the car over multiple times; the loudest sound he ever heard. With ensuing police and other emergency vehicles on the scene, and after answering questions, Perry made his way home with a new perspective on moments as they unfold.

As a result, the song concerns itself how each one is precious. This is not in a trite sort of way, but rather in the way that one comes to realize as one grips a steering wheel and looks out into an intersection full of metal and glass. The precious nature of moments is part and parcel to the reality that things can change suddenly from one moment to the next, sometimes with tragic consequences.

The 4-track With Every Moment EP is available now.

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Links:

Official site

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

iTunes

Spotify

 

The Foreign Films’ Bill Majoros: The Record Collector Speaks

Bill Majoros of The Foreign Films wants to create his own musical world. That sounds like a line out of a PR one-sheet. Yet it is apt to a greater degree than one might think when considering his most recent project, The Record Collector. This epic scale collection is a six-sided, 31-track magnum opus that encompasses the pop music gamut as filtered through an ecstatic, optimistic, and wistful sixties and seventies filter.

The Foreign Films “band” isn’t really a consolidated unit in the traditional sense. It’s more of a musical approach that plays into that very same drive to create a world in a way a movie director might. The songs are little foreign films imported from Majoros’ singular imagination.

The biggest vista on Majoros’ horizon since the beginning of the decade has been an epic-scale expression of that which inspired him to become a musician in the first place; records, specifically vinyl ones. That seemed like a pretty good place to start to realize a lifelong dream of creating a self-defining work, although perhaps not the path of least resistance in the digital age. Yet the seeds of The Record Collector began to germinate anyway.

To overcome the obstacle of its own scale, Majoros wrote, recorded, and released the project in digital form bit by bit, side by side, over the course of a few years. As of June of 2018, the full-fledged 3-disc vinyl incarnation of the album containing all 31 tracks plus a lavish package that includes extras is now available, along with streamed versions and downloadble MP3s. You can also buy the set in CD form at Kool Kat Musik.

I connected with Bill via email, and asked him about the inspiration for such an ambitious project, how he approached bringing it to life, and what it took to do it.

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Continue reading “The Foreign Films’ Bill Majoros: The Record Collector Speaks”

Pack of Three: The Almighty Rhombus, Scratch, Astari Nite

Very hooky guitar pop from up north in nickel country. Languid and compelling psych rock from two continents at once. And a subterranean dark wave excursion from the grim shores of … wait… Miami, Florida (???).

This is what it is to experience this week’s pack of three here on RFLB, friends.

Get your ears on!

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“Last Century” by The Almighty Rhombus

Name: The Almighty Rhombus

From: Sudbury, ON, Canada

Sound: Ebullient, guitar-driven indie rock with an audible smirk on its face, but always with your best interests in mind re: hooks a-plenty!

Story: An agenda is set with this song, the lead track off a new EP called Swish: to kick ass, which it does. There’s certainly a reason for that, given that Sudbury, Ontario’s The Almighty Rhombus has spent the last few years touring, experimenting with new approaches to writing songs, and road-testing material. This one is a band favourite, produced by Ian Blurton (The Weakerthans, Change of Heart, Jeen, et al) and is a clear reflection of their own amalgam of styles that range from punk to new wave to psych. Full disclosure: I’ve been a fan of this band for years, folks.

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

Twitter

 

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“I Don’t Mind” by Scratch

Name: Scratch

From: New York, NY, USA and Perth, Australia

Sound: Slow-burn psychedelic and hazy jam rock that takes its time working its way into your brain.

Story: What’s a few thousand miles between bandmates? Not much, according to Scratch members Ruzbeh Irani who calls Perth, Australia home and Avinash Lalwani who resides in New York. Thanks to technology and other means, these two childhood friends are able to make the kind of music that sounds just like a band that’s right there in the room with you. This song, one of their earliest compositions and a personal favourite of the duo. It’s one of two released recently (the other is “The Key”), both of which will feature on their upcoming debut record coming out sometime this year.

Links:

Official site

Facebook

Instagram

 

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“Sunday Queen” by Astari Nite

Name: Astari Nite

From: Miami, FLA, USA

Sound: Retro guitar and synth dark wave drenched in requisite late-seventies, early-eighties reverb.

Story: Incredibly not from a northern industrial town in Britain, but rather from sun-drenched Miami, Florida, revivalist post-punk trio Astari Nite pull out all the stops on a Peter Murphy/Bauhaus and early Cure-inspired sound. They have indeed shared stages with the aforementioned Murphy, plus the Psychedelic Furs, Andy Rourke, and Modern English. This is the lead track and single off of their new record Midnight Conversations, out now.

Links:

Facebook

Bandcamp

Twitter

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What do you reckon, dear listeners? Have you discovered your new favourite band? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Happy Listening!

Pack of Three: Jeen, Here Are The Lions, Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics

A vital rock-pop sock in the gut from a prominent songwriter for a selection of Canadian acts and solo artist in her own right. A dance-rock clarion call from an international music collective. And a funk-soul excursion from the deep south.

What is your flavour, friends?

Observe this week’s Pack of Three board of fare right here.

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“Any Moment” by Jeen

Name: Jeen

From: Toronto, ON, Canada

Sound: Hard-edged Breeders-like indie-rock with echo-drenched vocals and distinct pop hooks.

Story: Jeen (aka songwriter and musician Jeen O’Brien) when not writing songs for others (Great Big Sea, Serena Ryder, Hawksley Workman, and others) has spent some of her time in her attic self-producing her own records, recently with the help of friends and family on various instruments. Her newest, Gift Shop, is out soon with “Any Moment” as a single that serves as an infinitely crankable rock anthem to add to our summer playlists. The song is a snapshot of Jeen’s continuing self-education as an artist who constantly pushes herself. Look for the release of Gift Shop on September 14, 2018.

Links:

Official site

Facebook

YouTube

Twitter

Instagram

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“Unsatisfied” by Here Are The Lions

 

Name: Here Are The Lions

From: France and other geographical points

Sound: Electronic dance pop as informed by a melange of world music ingredients and positive protest.

Story: Here Are The Lions is a project masterminded by French musician, producer, author, and activist Bernard P. Boyer, founded in 2014 and since featuring a range of musicians from all over the world. The name Here Are The Lions is a phrase found on old maps, marking territories that are unexplored, and slightly dangerous. This is their newest single, an amalgam of dance rock and world music with an undercurrent of protest music. The new EP is out in September 2018.

Links:

Official site

Facebook

YouTube

Twitter

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“Broken Woman” by Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics

Name: Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics

From: Atlanta, GA. USA

Sound: Retro soul-pop full of wah-wah guitar, buoyant bass, sassy brass, and sultry vocals that’s appealingly unpredictable

Story: Singer Ruby Velle leads her merry band of soulphonics into musical territory tied to no single era, touching on many, while still managing to sound “classic” all at once. The band has shared stages with artists as far ranging as The Temptations, Erikah Badu, Feist, Kendrick Lamar, and Iggy Pop. This cut is featured on the upcoming record The State of All Things, and all a part of a mission to embody an earthy groove while also championing an informed awareness of the world at the same time. The new record is out now.

Links:

Official site

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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What say you, friends? Give me your impressions in the comments!

Happy Listening!