“The Strongest” by Andrea Desmond

Andrea Desmond is a singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. Here’s a cut off of her most recent EP, Brighter Than the Stars, released this past August.

Desmond was a one-time student of world-class songwriter Alan Menken, later to forge her own path via formal education and in playing a lot with bands in California and Nevada particularly before embarking on a career under her own name. She takes her musical influences from a range of pop songwriting schools, from Sia to Regina Spektor, balancing pop hooks against varied textures and emotional undercurrents.

In listening to this track, there’s a definite sense of hopefulness in a world that seems to make despair a default position. If it’s anthems for 2018 going into 2019 that you’re looking for, you’re on the right track here.

For more about Andrea Desmond, check out her official site right here.

Happy Listening!

 

 

Pack of Three: The Matchstick Skeletons, Teenage Wedding, Saint Slumber

Lemmy-meets-James-Brown blues rock. Dreamy, spacey indie pop. Acoustic and ambient pop balladry.

This is your Radio Free Lightning Bug pack of three for the week, friends.

Lend me your ears.

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“I Told Ya So” by The Matchstick Skeletons

Name: The Matchstick Skeletons

From: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Sound: Fuzzy and minimalist blues rock with a whiff of the funk that kicks your musical door in.

Story: This Vancouver-based duo comprised of singer/multi-instrumentalist Neu Mannas and drummer Matty Carolei is well-traveled and their sound hard-won. After recording and travels abroad with original outfit Head of the Herd, not to mention work in film composing and sound engineering on the part of singer and multi-instrumentalist Mannas, the two musicians set to work on becoming the kind of band they needed to be; one full of funk-inspired and metallic blues-rock underpinnings. This is their debut single.

Links:

Official site

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

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“Wow! Signal” by Teenage Wedding

Name: Teenage Wedding

From: Victoria, BC, Canada

Sound: Breezy and jangly indie rock that sidles up to you and demurely asks if you’d like to dance to the Stereolab song that just came on.

Story: Active on their native (and as it happens, my native) West Coast playing shows with Wolf Parade, The Courtneys, and others, Teenage Wedding throws all of their interests into a big melodic and lyrically quirky pot; science fiction, Broadcast, religious mythology, Sonic Youth, Carl Sagan, Jungian psychology all make appearances. This song, taken from their second record The Sophia of Teenage Wedding (out now), is about a dance craze beamed from outer space that results in the next stage of human enlightenment. How can you not get behind that?

Links:

Bandcamp

Facebook

Instagram

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“Infinite” by Saint Slumber

Name: Saint Slumber

From: “The suburban sprawl between Philadelphia and New York City”, USA.

Sound: Acoustic meets ambient pop with a bank of melancholy clouds in a late, early evening summer sky.

Story: Serving as the final track and third single on their upcoming EP Youth/2 (due out September 14th), this song is the result of a concentrated effort in getting back to basics with their sound; acoustic guitar, voice, minimal percussion, and a wash of electronic sound in the background. This song is their first “ballad”, also a concentrated effort to expand their range as they build momentum with increasing streaming of their music, and appearances at festivals alongside Dashboard Confessional, and others.

Links:

Official site

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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What do you think, music fans? Have you found your new favourite band today?

Tell me all about it, old school, in the comments.

And as always,

Happy Listening!

Ghost X Gardens Plays “Hittin’ The Bricks”

For those of you who think that there’s not enough sleaze ‘n’ horns in rock music these days, it is my joyous duty to introduce you to Ghost X Gardens’ latest cut, “Hittin’ the Bricks”, taken from the album Heartbreak Hotel Chelsea, out now.

Listen here.

Ghost X Gardens is the musical moniker of musician Adam Rushfield, who made himself a part of illustrious rock history with his new record. That is, he became a resident of the famous (or infamous – or both, really) Chelsea Hotel in New York City. That rock ‘n’ roll refuge has sheltered many a musical giant, from Leonard Cohen to Sid Vicious. This song is, in part, a call out to that history. But it’s a call out to another history, too.

Featured as an outro to this new song is a footnote and feature that puts a spotlight on unofficial matriarch of the Chelsea, Storme’ DeLarverie with whom Rushfield formed a bond while ensconced at the hotel. For those not already aware, DeLarverie is credited with throwing the first punch in a scuffle with police at the historic Stonewall riots in 1969, a key moment and vital turning point in LGBTQ history. On this track we hear her gentler side. These excerpts which are threaded throughout the new record exists as an “album within an album”, and representative of Storme’ DeLarverie last recordings before her death in 2014 at the age of 93.

These fascinating details aside, the sound of this song hearkens back to a distant, pre-gentrified New York, with humid horn arrangements and careening guitars, organ, bass, and drums, kicking everything off with an audible and generous quaff of some noxious beverage. This is an anthem to a night out in a dirty, dangerous town while adequately and appropriately stoned politely out of one’s mind. It’s a gloriously bleary journey on which the listener is instantly transported.

But with the outro and explanation of how Rushfield made a connection with DeLarverie, it becomes something else, too; an affectionate ode to a time of artistic exploration and self-discovery for the songwriter that converged with the end of an era for the historic Chelsea Hotel, too.

Sometimes rock ‘n’ roll swagger is best understood with a certain amount of melancholy.

To learn more about Ghost X Gardens, investigate these links:

Official site

Press page

Twitter

Instagram

Happy Listening!

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