Eastern France is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think about heavy rock bands. However, our pick of the week is just that: a heavy rock band from Nancy, France.
Blondstone is a band that might be hard to classify into a category smaller than just rock. I suppose you could file it into the doom rock category, or some subset of that. And it does have some elements of doom. But it also has elements of groove rock. For a great example, just listen to “Oulala.” The bass line in this one will get you moving for sure. This song kind of reminds me of Deep Purple, especially since it is punctuated with some screams that would make Richie Blackmore proud.
This band isn’t afraid to change tempo pretty dramatically even within one song. In “On Your Own,” the verse is pretty groovy, but then in the chorus the band gets both faster and louder. I imagine that experiencing this song live would be pretty interesting. I imagine that in the chorus, a circle pit would form and bodies would start slamming into each other.
This band also dives a little into psychedelic sounds, especially in “Daze Me.” The instrumental breaks in this song sound a little trippy with some fuzzed-out guitar.
However you want to classify it, Mass Solace is a really good rock album. Like any good rock album, this one begs to be played loudly. Seriously, don’t be concerned with your neighbors. Crank the volume as loud as you can handle it because this is rock n roll, baby! And you know what they say, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” Mass Solace is available now.
A couple days ago, I posted about the new release from The Creeping Ivies. That same day, an introductory message came from Witching Waves. The band introduced itself as “great, noisy indie punk.” Oh, and it’s a duo. And if you have read this blog at all, you know that a noisy indie punk duo is going to catch my attention more often than not.
And sure enough, I was hooked immediately on hearing the primitive rhythm at the beginning of “Concrete.” Add a fuzzy guitar part and really cool harmony vocals, and let’s just say that resistance on my part was futile.
This band really brings to mind 80s bands like Killing Joke. This has the same sort of dark mood although Witching Waves leans a lot more toward garage punk than Killing Joke. This band is noisy, fuzzy, loud, and primitive. I ask you: what’s not to like?
Oh, and for all you other bands out there…we are always accepting submissions. I’ll never know if I like your music if you don’t give me the chance to hear it. Take a lesson from Witching Waves, who reached out to me and ended up as our pick of the week.
Bands, let me address you for a moment before I get to my review of Parallel Play. You have a number of ways to catch the attention of me and other potential listeners before we even hear a note of your music You can have a good band name (I have commandments about this), or cool cover art. Or like Parallel Play from Dallas, you can have a provocative album title like Take Your Pants Off. Now, while that name is eye-catching in any case, it is particularly eye-catching because I have two boys (the older of which is almost five) who frequently think that pants are optional.
This album was introduced to me this way: “bluegrass instrumentation in a rock band formation produced by Salim Nourallah (The Old 97′s) and engineered by Brian Lucey (The Black Keys).” Is there any wonder why I was intrigued? The mention of Old 97s was particularly interesting when I heard the first song “When the Trail is Cold.” This certainly features bluegrass instrumentation, but the energy (and the drums) remind me of Old 97s.
Another band that comes to mind when I listen to this band is Yonder Mountain String Band. Yes, I realize this is not a string band. However, it’s not just the melodies but also the harmony vocals that remind me of Yonder Mountain. “Take These Hands” is a good example of a song that falls into this particular category.
And hey, if you look at the track list, you’ll see a familiar song title: “Found out about You.” That’s right. This band covered a song by Gin Blossoms, and it did a fine job. Also, I have to give the band points for vocabulary in “She Smiles Upside Down.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a band use the words philander and odious in the same song.
There is really a lot to like on this album. It’s a bluegrass sound with a rock n roll beat. It features some really solid musicians and amazing harmony vocals. If you like any of those things, give Parallel Play a try. Take Your Pants Off is available now on Bandcamp.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I like best about doing this is being introduced to music from all over the world. Man Goes Human is a band from Delhi, India, that sent me a track. I’ll admit that I don’t get a lot of music from India, so I thought it was pretty cool that this band took the time to reach out to me.
“Fading” is a little different than a lot of the music I feature here, but it’s a good song. I don’t know that I could summarize the sound very easily, but then we have time, right? It starts with a pretty mellow guitar part. Then the vocals come in, and the vocals are really like another instrument. They’re very clean and beautiful. From there, it kind of takes on a psychedelic sound as layers of sound build. The most amazing thing about this song is the similarity to Led Zeppelin right around 4 minutes into the song. This is almost like three songs rolled into one. It is adventurous, complex, and melodic. If you like your music with layers of sound, check out this song by Man Goes Human.
I’ve read a lot of band introductions in my time. Some are utterly forgettable. Others are immediately captivating like this one: “Don’t Turn Your Fucking Back On Me is a riotous 90 seconds of glorious, tightly wound rock n roll, taking pot shots at the corrupt politicians that deign to believe they lead us.” That is how The Pulsebeats (from Santander, Spain) introduced its three-song EP.
Let’s just say that riotous is a great word to describe the first track of this EP. Take some loud guitar, add a bass line that would fit just as nicely in a rockabilly song, and some drums that will get your feet tapping. Then add some shouted vocals that call out politicians, and what you’ve got is one riotous song that begs to be blared out of windows and sung at the top of your lungs. Not to mention a song that should be played at political speeches everywhere.
If anything, “White Little Horse” is just as much of a sonic punch as the first track. This is a good example of how a song can sound retro and modern simultaneously. The band manages to incorporate some trashy 60s guitar sounds into it while still making it sound like a modern song. Also, there is a bass solo in this song that will rumble your guy.
This EP is only eight minutes long, but these guys pack a lot of rock n roll into eight minutes. There’s no messing around. These guys get right to the rockin’, and blast it for a couple minutes before the song comes to an end. If you like hard-hitting rock n roll, check out The Pulsebeats. Don’t Turn Your Fucking Back on Me is available now on Bandcamp.
It’s not every day I get a message from an alternative rock band in Vienna, particularly one that seems like a U.N. meeting. Siren Call makes its home in Vienna, but its members come from Bulgaria, Hungary, and the U.S. Needless to say that the message I received piqued my interest enough for me to check out the band’s single “Comfort Zone.”
Now, before I get to the music, I have to say that I don’t really enjoy the term alternative rock simply because I always wonder “An alternative to what?” But if the term alternative puts you in mind of 90s rock, then you’re definitely on the right path with this song.
This is a good, melodic rock song that reminds me of bands like The Connells (although The Connells didn’t have a female vocalist). It has that same sort of even, melodic feel to it. Vocalist Yvonne Lace (bass) also hits you with some really good lyrics like “Don’t be one of them robotic slaves of Friday night.” Sound advice. It’s true that I don’t normally feature bands based one song, but it’s a good song. Don’t just take my word for it. Give it a listen and see what you think.
Welcome to another pick of the week here at Incognito HQ. This is my weekly post featuring a new or upcoming release – regardless of genre – that catches my attention.
A message about Sudden Death of Stars arrived in my inbox from Ample Play Records, and the description that “they sound like monks playing modern day Velvet Underground, Os Mutantes and Pentangle” caught my attention. Can you blame me for that? When I checked it out (note: I make an honest effort to listen to every submission I receive), I was immediately struck by one thing. Sure the melody of “Inside Out” is super catchy, but more than that, it would be hard to explain it to someone. (Maybe I’m weird for finding that appealing.) It’s one part 60s garage, one part French mod, and one part psychedelic although that is far from a complete description. If I had to describe it in one word, it would be groovy.
The other song I heard is “Halcyon Days.” This one is much easier to describe. This is pure psychedelia with layers of sound, including the vocals. This is another groovy tune that will make you want to put on your half-moon specs and your favorite fringed vest while you listen.
If you’re a fan of psychedelic rock or music that defies easy description, then Sudden Death of Stars is a band you should get to know. The new album Unrevealed Parts of the Unknown will be available from Ample Play Records on 10 March.
Welcome to another Incognito pick of the week. If you’ve never checked it out before, this is where I cast genre aside and present something that I really dig.
This Nashville band sent me a message inviting me to check out the new song “Around Town.” So I did. Now before I get into the sound of this band, allow me to say that in its introduction the band referenced Appalachian roots and that “Switchmen boasts the sounds of unapologetic, Shotgun-Fed Rock ‘n Roll.” I have to be honest, loyal reader, I would not have known what shotgun-fed rock n roll sounds like if I hadn’t listen to this song.
If you’re looking for a good baseline comparison for this band, Five Horse Johnson is a good place to start. However, that’s a pretty incomplete comparison. Sure, this band works a groove as well as Five Horse Johnson and has the same sort of growling vocals, but it puts a little more southern rock and blues into it. Instead of sitting here and telling you how awesome this song is (and it is), I’m just going to invite you to listen to it yourself. After all, don’t you want to know what shotgun-fed rock n roll sounds like? I’ll tell you one thing: I can’t wait to hear what this band does next.
Around Town will be released on 4 February.
Welcome to another pick of the week here at Incognito. This is our weekly feature of a new album we think you should check out. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
First off, I have to congratulate this band for having such a great name. I come across a lot of that vanish from my memory as soon as I hear them. With Booze & Glory, the band name gets right to the point…just like the band’s music. If you’re looking for subtlety, keep looking. Booze & Glory is about as subtle as a punch with brass knuckles. Speaking of which, if a movie ever needed music for a brawl in a dark alley, Booze & Glory would be the perfect choice.
I did find a pleasant surprise on this album. Sure, this is some hard-hitting street punk, but “Down and Out” is a perfect song for Feel-Good Friday. The message of this song is that you know who your real friends are because they’re the ones who stick by you even when you’re down and out. Thank goodness for that. Granted, we don’t need a song to remind us of that, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to get that message no matter where it comes from.
This is real simple. If you like hard-hitting, raucous street punk, the album from Booze & Glory will fit right into your collection. For me, this record is an early candidate to make my list of favorite albums of 2014. As Bold As Brass will be available from Sailor’s Grave Records on 28 January.
Well, it’s Wednesday and here at Incognito that means it’s time for our pick of the week. This is where we highlight some new music from any genre and anywhere.
I didn’t go out searching for Bitch Queens. An email was sent to me about this punk band from Basel, Switzerland. Before I get to the music, I have to tell you that I make an honest effort to listen to every submission I receive here at Incognito.
After receiving the message, I checked out the band’s songs on Soundcloud. And I’m glad I did. This band plays some seriously loud punk rock and these guys can shred on the guitar. Just listen to that work toward the end of “Gimme a Kiss.”
“Woe Is Me” is a song with the classic theme of forgetting what you did the previous evening. The guitar in this song carries not only a furious sound, but also a furious energy. Of course the other musicians don’t exactly lack in the energy or volume departments either.
Check out the tunes and video for yourself. If you like good old-fashioned punk rock, you will dig Bitch Queens. I do, and I hope to hear more from this band.