Fellow American – ‘From Me to Shore’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this review, I’m going to be delving into the new six track endeavor from Fellow American, a six piece outfit hailing from Texas. Their latest endeavor, ‘From Me to Shore’ is a surprisingly elegant effort, perhaps even making a bold statement for the band’s signing to a label in the near future. Their eclectic blend of indie rock is nothing short of infectious, and the collection of tunes is a joyful romp through their original style. Let’s dig into it.

‘Monkey in the Middle’ kicks in the album with defiant force. Fellow American’s sound is incredibly sharp, which definitely gives them a leg up against most their independent counterparts. This isn’t a basement self-mix. This is a professional studio job, and a tactful one at that. The dynamic landscape of ‘Monkey in the Middle’ is chock-full of intricacy – I love the funky guitars, jumpy synthesizers, and catchy vocal harmonies. It’s a great track that defines Fellow American as a well-organized outfit. Each instrumental and vocal performance is on mark.

‘Curfew,’ the following track, is arguably an even better tune. It helps concrete the space that Fellow American occupies – indie rock with tinged with funky, west coast pop influence. The performances are absolutely stellar, especially with the tight percussion and equally solid electric guitar musings. ‘West,’ does, however, expand the palette of Fellow American’s offerings, providing an extension into their Jack Johnson-esque surfer, easy-breezy sounds. The comradery of the harmony vocals is spectacularly fun.

I’m incredibly happy at the midpoint of the record that Fellow American opted for a soft, introspective acoustic number with ‘The Current.’ This track is absolutely beautiful, and it’s also a welcome reprieve from the rocking nature of previous tracks on the record. A good rock band should always be able to strip down their sound to significant success. What’s even better? The band follows with ‘Black Ice,’ a drastically experimental track in comparison to tunes like ‘Curfew.’ I love the depth of their compositional strength on ‘Black Ice;’ it adds a whole lot of ‘oomph’ to the latter moments of the album.

‘Play God’ finishes out the album admirably, harnessing a psychedelic, falsetto sound that mixes nicely with their polished indie rock. Thus, it’s an excellent record – There isn’t a bad tune on this album. I particularly like the greater songwriting endeavors that Fellow American delves into on the last three songs. They’re an intriguing departure from the easy, seaside style of ‘Monkey in the Middle’ and ‘Curfew.’ The band balances both nicely, however, making ‘From Me to Shore’ a very well rounded effort.

http://www.fellowamericanmusic.com/

Fellowcraft – ‘Get Up Young Phoenix’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze back on Fellowcraft, a Washington DC based rock outfit that I delved into in April of last year. At that point in time, they had two incredibly unique singles that I lauded for their potential: ‘Learning to Love Again’ and ‘Long Gone.’ Now, they’ve got a full record chock-full of all that rocky goodness I loved about the first two tunes. Let’s talk about ‘Get Up Young Phoenix.’

It’s worth noting at the top of this piece that the album debuted on Jan 3, but may not yet distributed to every digital platform. If it isn’t where you typically find music, wait it out, it’ll be there by the end of February at the latest. That’s because the outfit released ‘Get Up Young Phoenix’ via CD Baby. That’s important, because it tells us one obvious thing: they’re still entirely independent and working without a label or distribution deal. That makes ‘Get Up Young Phoenix’ dramatically more interesting, because it’s very well produced.

‘Get Up Young Phoenix,’ the title and opening track of the record, is bluesy, rock wonderfulness jam packed into a succinct, exceptionally soulful package. I love the fuzzy distortion and raspy, intense vocals. It’s absolutely spectacular and sets the bar high for the rest of the album. Fortunately, the band delivers an eclectic offering soon after, such as the moody, more mellow ‘Glass Houses.’ “You steal my beating heart and you crack my bones,” the lead vocals croon over an emotionally heavy track. Disclaimer: I’m writing this track two days after a pretty serious romantic breakup. Thus, ‘Glass Houses’ hit me right in the feelings. That’s very good; it means Fellowcraft’s lyricism has meaning to it and can harness emotions, even if they aren’t ones you’d like to bury.

‘West Texas Blues’ commits to the blues style that the titular track toys with. This is straight up rock and roll blues: think very early Black Keys. With distortion, pumping percussion, and scratchy, equally-distorted vocals, ‘West Texas Blues’ is one of the finest exhibitions of blues I’ve heard in the independent scene in quite some time. Plus, it has a bass solo. Enough said. The following track, ‘Long Gone,’ was a tune I discussed last year. It’s still as excellent as it was then, stretching Fellowcraft’s instrumental borders will prowess.

‘A Thousand Sunsets’ has as introspective lyrics as the track’s title suggests. It’s a love track that feels optimistic, looking forward to a thousand sunsets, rather than the days behind where stones were hurdled at glass houses of emotion. It’s a welcome shift in mentality, one that comes perfectly before the mid-album overture, ‘The Dying of the Light.’ This atmospheric, swooning instrumental sets a perfect stage for the following track, which is the full ‘The Dying of the Light.’ The track explodes out of its overture, feeling a tad more experimental than the other tracks. (Perhaps not ‘experimental,’ but it definitely pushes the boundaries of Fellowcraft’s established sound.) It’s an excellent track, harnessing a Dylan Thomas line for its central purpose: do not go gentle into that good night.

‘Learning To Love Again’ continues the revolving of the emotional revolution kicked off by ‘Glass Houses’ on the second track. It’s a track many can relate to after a hardship or relationship: you don’t just bounce back. You have to learn to love and trust again. ‘Wedding Song’ seemingly rounds out this evolution, acting as both a declaration of love and a request for reciprocation. Again, Fellowcraft’s kicked me in the emotional balls since I just had a break-up on Friday. But hey, that means it’s damn good music. If it was cheesy or poorly executed, it wouldn’t do that to someone like me. ‘I Want It All’ and ‘The Last Great Scotsman’ finish it out wonderfully, though I do wonder if they would have been better elsewhere on the album, closing with ‘Wedding Song’ instead.

‘Get Up Young Phoenix’ is a genuinely amazing independent rock album. As Fellowcraft’s full length studio debut, it’s even more impressive. Check it out below and follow them on social networking for updates on their musings. They have a newsletter on their site that’s worth subscribing to as well if their music clicks with you.

https://www.facebook.com/FellowcraftBand

https://twitter.com/fellowcraftband

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_uzpCSjoZGDQrZ2CrKloXA

http://www.fellowcraftband.com/

https://www.instagram.com/thatfellowcraftband/

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/fellowcraft

The Couch Bombs – ‘Growing Pains’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on The Couch Bombs, an erratic punk rock outfit hailing from my hometown, Denver, Colorado. Their latest studio endeavor is ‘Growing Pains,’ a hard hitting, bombastic excursion through classic punk rock stylings. Clocking in at ten tracks, it’s a lengthy studio effort. It is, however, aptly short and wonderfully punchy. (That’s what punk should be, right?) Let’s dig right into it.

It surprises me that The Couch Bombs emerged out of the ashes of a ska band. They’re pretty damn sharp punk rockers; ska tends to be much more reserved, or at least, not near as intense. The group navigates punk remarkably well, though, slamming themselves into oblivion with harsh bar chord structures and quirky harmonies. It’s definitely aggressive punk rock, but it isn’t over the top or pretentiously angsty. ‘I’m On Fire,’ the opening track, exhibits this well, offering a short, fierce descent into punk musings straight out of 1978. I’d argue the lead guitar chops are much more fleshed out that typical punk rock, too. That’s refreshing; there is a musical prowess behind the noise.

‘Growing Pains’ starts to hit its stride on the second track, ‘The Art of Giving Up.’ I love the comradery in the room as the band harmonizes with the lead vocals. At times, the sound feels a bit like it was captured with a handful of room mics. It has an inherently garagey nature, which is, of course, entirely natural for punk. Some tracks, however, offer both instrumental performances and production techniques that are vastly sharper and more organized than other tracks. The brief ‘Detained’ may be the best example of this; the guitar banter is superbly executed and recorded.

‘’Merica’ and ‘Drank do fine jobs of showcasing some of The Couch Bomb’s oddball lyricism. I do think the lead vocals are undermixed, though, making some of those quips hard to interpret on your first few run-throughs of the record. There’s something so infectiously catchy about ‘Drank,’ which makes me absolutely adore its carefree style. ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ is just as lovable, too. In fact, the latter track does a nice job showing off the outfit’s musical chemistry. That tight percussion is right on beat with the rest of the instrumentation.

Ah ha! There’s a tiny bit of that ska band. ‘Growing Pains,’ the titular track, is arguably the finest track on the album. It’s lyricism is so wonderfully punky, the vocal mix is much stronger, and that ska-esque riff is absolutely fantastic. It’s worth noting at this point that The Couch Bombs did a nice of making this album consistently interesting – that’s admirable in itself. Punk efforts often fall victim to monotony, and you have to admit, punk can be less versatile than other genres. ‘Growing Pains’ is an excellent example of a punk album that’s coherent and cohesive.

‘Scapegoat’ is a nice track as well, but it does reside in the shadow of the epically good title track. ‘Shit,’ while comical, does fall short when measured against the quality of the rest of the tunes on the album. ‘Starts to Catch Up,’ however, is absolutely stellar, offering up the second best jam on the record. The finale of the album culminates everything I dig about The Couch Bombs into one concrete, snappy effort.

‘Growing Pains’ is an immensely good punk rock record. There isn’t a lot of quality punk rock in the indie scene right now, so it’s a welcome addition to the community. I think the album could have been even stronger omitting ‘Scapegoat’ and ‘Shit,’ but nevertheless, it is a fine offering of tracks. You can catch the band live in February and Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que if you’re local in Denver. For once here on the Spotlight, I’m very familiar with a band’s stomping ground – Check them out at Moe’s. It’ll be a great show.

Press Release – Kia Sleet – January 8, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – JANUARY 8, 2016

Kia Sleet Releases EP Alongside New Independent Film

Kia Sleet, a hip hop and soul artist hailing from St. Louis but now based in Brooklyn, has released a new four track studio endeavor that acts as soundtrack to ‘Because Cream,’ a new independent short film. The EP, entitled ‘TheCatalystN°1: Because Cream’ can be spun in its entirety on Sleet’s website and SoundCloud. (Found below.) The collection of songs is an eclectic fusion of Sleet’s talents and inspirations, thus crafting itself into as compelling an experience as the film it was designed to score.

‘Because Cream,’ which also stars Sleet, was directed by MoNae Mayweather. Presented by the independent label Respect The Cool,’ the film is broken into five distinct parts, beginning with ‘Memory Lane,’ which debuted on Jan 1. ‘Because Cream’ is an elegant take on a ‘coming of age’ story. Throughout the film, Sleet, the central character, is forced to look outside of herself to discover love, deal with its consequences, and then rediscover it in a most unlikely place. Actor and model Osei White stars alongside Sleet as her love interest and antagonist.

In an era of popular music that seemingly continues to create a void between longform artistry and radio-friendly singles, ‘TheCatalystN°1: Because Cream’ is a remarkably refreshing experience, as is ‘Because Cream.’ The excursion through soul-tinged hip hop and impeccable filmography is a defiant reminder that artists like Sleet are continuing to innovate through a variety of artistic avenues. Collaborating closely with Mayweather, Sleet has created a sonic and visual experience akin to some of the stronger longform music video pursuits of the past.

Fans can connect with Sleet via social media and her website, all of which are now showing ‘Memory Lane,’ the first part of the film. The other four installments are slated for periodic releases in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned via Sleet’s online presence.

‘Memory Lane:’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFnfH1c4UII

http://www.instagram.com/kiasleet

http://www.twitter.com/kiasleet

http://www.facebook.com/kiasleet

http://www.kiasleet.com

https://soundcloud.com/kiasleet/sets/the-catalyst-n1-because-cream

An Electronic Hero – ‘Isoipstar’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on ‘An Electronic Hero,’ the moniker of rising independent musician, Federico Foria. Foria’s sophomore studio endeavor under the alias has recently dropped, entitled ‘Isoipstar.’ The album’s title is derived from Greek roots, essentially making ‘isoipstar’ mean ‘the elevation reached by the spirit over aspirations and earthly fears. What exactly is this three track EP, then?

It’s a concept album about a spaceship whose crew is stranded on their vessel with nothing to do except move further away from home. This imagery is manifested musically through an array of genre inspirations. Though primarily electronic, tinges of soul and ambiance are most surely present. It’s refreshing to get a concept album that’s based in science fiction, especially an electronic one. Foria’s synthesizers and eclectic beats lend themselves well to the imagery. (Geek side note: the ‘plot’ of ‘Isoipstar’ is very similar to that of ‘Stargate Universe. They’re stuck on a ship that keeps moving farther away without control from the crew.)

‘Earth 1989’ introduces the album with fiery optimism. The ship is taking off from Earth, and there’s nothing but exploration and advancement ahead of them. It sets an intriguing stage that ultimately builds the crew up toward their inevitable failures. Foria is backed by an outfit of talented artists on these tracks, but to various degrees of success. I found the vocal sections of ‘Earth 1989’ feeling more than a bit awkward; they don’t fit alongside the poignant instrumentation very well. It may have fared better as an instrumental.

‘Fireworks,’ the following track, handles the vocals far better. They don’t feel oddly forced into the instrumentation: their soulful, dramatic nature mixes elegantly into the final product. In fact, I’d argue ‘Fireworks’ is the most stunning and compelling track of the three. That said, the finale, ‘After Universe,’ is an intensely good romp through superb composition and grovely, dark spoken poetry. (At times it feels Leonard Cohen or Tom Waits influenced.)

‘Isoipstar’ is a fantastic record. The first track’s vocals are a bit misguided, but the vast majority of its execution is absolutely fantastic. Spin it below and connect with AEH.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhTuk1kz9NcvVreIZLKLdTdQ5n04EPRjk

https://www.facebook.com/anelectronichero

https://www.youtube.com/user/AnElectronicHero

https://soundcloud.com/an-electronic-hero

BK Forever – ‘Selfish Lovers’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on a rather interesting artist hailing from Ontario. BK Forever, a twenty two year old aspiring hip hop artist, has recently released ‘Selfish Lovers,’ a track off his upcoming endeavor, ‘I’m Frozen In Time And Falling Behind,’ due out Jan. 24. Sung by Daniela Andrade and Caylee Mooy and mixed/mastered by C.L. McCoy, the tune is a surprisingly lovely pop-tinged hip hop track. Let’s dig right into it.

The female leads on ‘Selfish Lovers’ are the defining highlight of the track. Their voices are absolutely stunning; they’ve been mixed so perfectly by C.L. McCoy. I love the atmospheric landscapes that topple and rebuild themselves around the vocal sections, creating a masterful dichotomy between instrumental and vocal performance. The vocal manipulation on Andrade and Mooy is breathtakingly beautiful, elegantly harnessing a soulful pop influence on ‘Selfish Lovers.’

BK Forever’s rapped verses are quite tactful as well, and they mark pretty drastic tonal shifts throughout the song. ‘Selfish Lovers’ seems to be broken into distinct segments. The terrific female sung pieces are suave, slick, and soft. The tight, eclectic beats surrounding them are subdued, allowing Andrade and Mooy to take the spotlight. When BK explodes into the soundscape, the synthesizers expand and create a cacophony of sound. This contrast in the song is enjoyable and welcome, since it creates a multi-faceted listening experience that pops back and forth between BK’s hip hop and the sung pop sections.

‘Selfish Lovers’ is impeccably produced, well performed, and the instrumentation is immensely creative. C.L. McCoy did an exceptionally fine job mixing and mastering the pursuit, and the wonderful collaboration between all of the parties was fruitful. Spin it below on SoundCloud and check out BK’s website and Twitter.

https://soundcloud.com/bkforever/selfish-lovers-prod-dabin

http://bkforever.com

http://twitter.com/bkforevermusic

The Voices of Terror – ‘Once Upon A Nightmare’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on a unique independent outfit that describes themselves as ‘the new breed of hip hop.’ The Voices of Terror are an alternative hip hop duo from New Jersey. Consisting of Mike Walker and ‘Zero,’ the two create, write, produce, and record all of their own content. Their range of influences is intriguing as well, citing a mixture of traditional hip hop artists, metal bands, and rap rock bands. (Tupac, Jay Z, Linkin Park, Disturbed, etc.) Let’s talk about their new collection of songs, ‘Once Upon A Nightmare.’

   Yeah, that'll keep you up at night...
Yeah, that’ll keep you up at night…

‘Once Upon A Nightmare’ is a concept album of sorts, drawing upon heavy horror influence to create ‘haunting storylines’ and ‘unforgettable atmospheres.’ Needless to say, it’s a very dark record. It’s also quite creepy; the duo own their horror-tinged soundscapes with tact. The Voices of Terror also employ some dramatically cinematic production. This is, for the most part, a very successful endeavor for them. It separates them from the vast majority of independent hip hop. As I’ve said countless times on the Spotlight, I get inundated with about a dozen rap acts every week. Only a handful a month are worth writing home about. The Voices of Terror’s play for originality lends itself well to landing the duo into that category.

‘No Beauty in the Beast’ is a dynamic, intense opener that defines ‘Once Upon A Nightmare’ as an eclectic, hard-hitting effort. I love the orchestration, the classical, eerie organs, and the forceful delivery on behalf of The Voices of Terror. I get their Linkin Park influence now – it’s that arena-filling rap rock that the pinnacle outfit has championed for years. (To varying degrees of success, in my opinion.) I have no hesitation with stating that I’d rather listen to The Voices of Terror over Linkin Park any day, though, because they’re also elaborately infusing those other aforementioned influences into their sound. ‘Immortal Combat,’ for example, has a heavy dose of late 80s, early 90s hip hop styling. That, combined with some spine-tingling vocal pieces, makes for an incredibly satisfying second track.

It’s impressive that The Voices of Terror have produced this kind of music independently. Indie hip hop is plagued with poor production and lackluster creativity. More often than not, I’m met with pre-loaded Garageband beats and endless tropes when I queue it up. The Voices of Terror exhibit of level of production prowess that I haven’t seen in quite some time. I adore their willingness to delve deep into experimentalism and new ideas. In fact, I applaud it. The indie hip hop scene needs more of that.

‘Scarred’ does a fine job showcasing the duo’s equal prowess for songwriting, too. ‘Scarred’ is a track of despair and frustration, as are quite a few of these tunes. He’s got a heavy metal block pressing down on him, he’s tortured inside, and he’s struggling with an array of inner demons. It’s a bit depressing, to be entirely blunt, and I sympathize with whatever leads an artist to pen a song like ‘Scarred.’ (Unless it’s entirely conceptual and based off a character or fictionalized scenario, something that isn’t necessarily touched on in the record. The latter half does elude to this, though.) I think that brute honesty will make this album relatable for listeners. Hip hop can get so superficial and self-indulgent. ‘Scarred’ is anything but.

‘Tale of the Outlaw’ is an absolutely superb track. Again, I can’t get enough of The Voices of Terror’s complete willingness to genre-bend and try new things. ‘Tale of the Outlaw’ is an amazing feat of production, matched only by the sharp lyricism backing it. ‘Of Unsound Mind’ is an interesting effort, too, touching on the ‘voices’ influencing the songwriter. The album plays out a bit like an existential crisis – The Voices of Terror have created an excursion through pain, self-betrayal, and confusion. While this may not be the intent of the duo, I’d argue their music will likely hit on familiar cylinders for anyone who’s struggled with depression, mental illness, or tough times.

‘As The World Burns’ has one of the most compellingly beautiful, yet haunting introductions I’ve heard in a long time. It’s followed by an equally eerie sonic landscape. “Welcome to the apocalypse where all souls die,” the Voices of Terror declare before a classical vocal interlude, sung by what sounds like a young boy. I can confirm that The Voices of Terror accomplished one of their primary missions – I severely questioned my decision to spin this record in a dark studio at four in the morning.

‘The Dead are Coming Back’ seems to lock in a continuing theme of conceptualization on this album. The dead are rising following the apocalypse, which is then followed by the ceremoniously creepy ‘Rise of the Wolves.’ Finally, ‘A Glorious End’ seems to round out The Voices of Terror’s horrific musings. It actually would have been a fitting ending for the album, making ‘Hip-Hop Necrosis’ feel a bit anti-climactic. It’s a fine ending nonetheless, though.

The Voices of Terror have produced a hell of a record. Go spin in, and if I were you, I wouldn’t listen to it alone in the dark of the early morning like I did. (That’s a compliment – They nailed their atmosphere.)

votmusic.com
twitter.com/Voices_4_Life
facebook.com/voicesofterror

Catalina Shortwave – ‘Radio Voodoo: Songs from the Dark End of the Dial’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Catalina Shortwave and their sophomore studio endeavor, ‘Radio Voodoo: Songs from the Dark End of the Dial.’ Based in Connecticut, the indie garage rock outfit is striving to create ‘emotionally intense dark themes of love, betrayal, longing, and loss.’ Their pursuit is to achieve that through ‘intelligent and accessible’ music, and they’re continuing to tour the northeastern and mid-Atlantic US in promotion of the record. Let’s dig right into it and see how Catalina Shortwave stacks up against their indie counterparts.

The group had humble beginnings, starting in a cold, dreary New England basement utilizing barebones equipment that they describe as ‘begged for, borrowed, or stolen.’ They seem to have achieved quite a bit since then, a success that they attribute to their passionate songwriting and performances. ‘Radio Voodoo’ is a indie garage rock record in every sense of the genre. One could argue that it does what it needs to well, but the first few tracks do fall into the shadow of the latter half of the record.

The album opens up with ‘Your Old Letters,’ a raw, gritty rocker that’s akin to classic Black Sabbath or similar late 1960s classic hard rock. The riffs are solid, the production is tactful, and the vocal performance is intensely good. ‘Your Old Letters’ is a fine opening for the album, introducing Catalina Shortwave’s second studio effort as a forceful, but well-executed excursion through classic, yet oddly contemporary musical musings.

‘Your Old Letters’ does, however, fall a bit short in defining Catalina Shortwave as an individual entity. It sounds a bit like the rest of classic-tinged garage rock, failing to stand out on its own merit. ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,’ does suffer from the same issue in the beginning of the song, but it does begin to pave a more notable path towards new ideas. There’s a shimmer of punk influence here, at least, in the instrumentation. I adore the lyrics; they’re the first real show of that passionate delivery and songwriting. The middle-section of the record is spoken word, and it’s absolutely phenomenal. It’s one of the coolest, suavest rock deliveries I’ve heard in a long time. More so, it’s poetic. It’s remarkably well written, making the latter pieces of ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’ the defining moment of the beginning of ‘Radio Voodoo.’

‘Breakaway’ continues Catalina Shortwave’s trend of increasingly complex and original music on ‘Radio Voodoo.’ I love this, because while ‘Your Old Letters’ is an admirable effort out of the gate, it left a lot to be desired in terms of fleshing out the band’s identity. ‘Breakaway’ does this well, exhibiting some of the band’s prowess, especially that searing guitarist. ‘Darkstar’ does the same, but instead highlights an equally excellent bassist. ‘Darkstar’ is one of the most infectious rock tracks on the album – it’s a tune you’ll be returning to. (Again, I think my Black Sabbath comparison is apt here as well.)

‘Anne Boleyn’ is, however, the best track of the entire album. This punk-infused ballad is nothing short of spectacular. When you play this song… play it loud! It cements Catalina Shortwave as one of the most talented garage rock outfits out there right now. It’s worth mentioning again: this album gets better the deeper you delve into it. ‘Your Old Letters’ and ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’ don’t hold a candle to ‘Anne Boleyn.’ If I had to draw a comparison of the track, I’d align it with the kind of music The Pixies have been making in recent years.

‘Black & Blue’ is a good track, but in the wake of ‘Anne Boleyn,’ it does feel somewhat empty. I’m happy the album doesn’t end on it, but rather, the soft and somber ‘Blood Orange.’ That song is a close second to ‘Anne Boleyn,’ showcasing Catalina Shortwave as a band with more versatility than you’d guess. I’d love to see them dig into this soft style even more in future releases. Check the band out below and check out the album – it’s one worth picking up to kick off the new year with a bang.

http://www.catalinashortwave.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Catalina-Shortwave/667144919966061
http://twitter.com/CatalinaShrtwav