WEDNESDAY: BOTTLE ROCKETS
The Bottle Rockets’ brand of populist, Midwestern, brawny rock ‘n’ roll is a sound so effortless, it’s easy to take their craft for granted; a sound so universal, yet unmistakably THE BOTTLE ROCKETS. With their 12th album, South Broadway Athletic Club, the quartet gives a master class in capturing the beauty of everyday life, and painting a portrait of ongoing hope. South Broadway Athletic Club is an album full of new experiences for the band. Singer/guitarist Brian Henneman meticulously crafts lyric-chapters straight from his well-worn journal. The album’s sharp-as-shit songwriting kicks off with “Monday (Everytime I Turn Around),” and the tough but tender “Big Lotsa Love.” The latter is built on engaging wordplay that takes the listener through the ups and downs of working through the world with someone you care about. In “Dog,” a jangly, Byrds-infused, unaffected but never cloying, tribute (with Henneman’s new weapon of choice: a chimey, 12-string Rickenbacker) to a favorite canine, he sings, “I love my dog, he’s my dog/ If you don’t love my dog, that’s OK/ I don’t want you to, he’s my dog.” The zen-like wisdom transcends merely a song about a pet and, rather, packs the message and life philosophy that, “Sometimes life is just this simple.” Sonically, The Bottle Rockets still find the quickest two-lane highway into the bloodstream. There are pulses through the rhythm section of Mark Ortmann’s made for FM radio, wall-of-sound drumming and bassist Keith Voegele’s deep and shapely lines. Throughout their entire career, The Bottle Rockets have managed to stay true to the rabid music heads as well as casual dial-turning everybodies. After 20+ years, they’ve come out on the other side stronger and more energized than ever before, proactively writing their own creative arc. Against the odds, the Bottle Rockets are a true American success story. Consequently, South Broadway Athletic Club is an album as relevant as their formative early work; political by not being political, re-affirming our greatest aspirations by focusing on the tiniest of truths.
Sounds like: Blue Mountain, Slobberbone, Robbie Fulks
Born out of the bustling indie rock-centric borough of Brooklyn, New York, Cape Cod-bred rockers Highly Suspect formed in 2009 around the talents of Johnny Stevens (guitar, vocals, synths) and twin siblings Ryan (drums, vocals) and Rich (bass, vocals) Meyer. A muscular, hard-hitting power trio in the vein of Queens of the Stone Age, Kings of Leon, Band of Skulls, and Royal Blood, the group issued a three-song EP (The Worst Humans) before heading into the studio with producer Joel Hamilton (Black Keys, Elvis Costello) to record their debut long-player. The resulting Mister Asylum, featuring the fiery single "Lydia," was released via 300 Entertainment in 2015. [All Music]
Sounds like: Dead Sara, Black Map, The Glorious Sons
A Germany-based, Austria-bred three-piece poised for their American debut, AudioDamn! make hook-heavy soul-pop shot through with the spirit of punk rock. With an undeniable chemistry that intensifies each song’s infectious energy, singer Oliver “Oli” Wimmer, guitarist Ali Grumeth, and drummer Daniel “Mudi” Mudrack share a passion for defying expectation and blurring genre. “We might sit down at the piano and write an R&B ballad,” says Grumeth, “and then go into the rehearsal room, turn into our own cover band, and just totally crush it into something much grittier.” With Wimmer and Grumeth collaborating on songwriting—and Grumeth serving as producer—AudioDamn!’s upcoming debut features the frenetic and fiery lead single “Lights Out.” True to the band’s unfettered creativity, the song began as an acoustic-guitar-driven ballad penned by Wimmer before morphing into a breakneck-tempoed track built on jagged guitar riffs, urgent harmonies, and lyrics that perfectly capture the torment of obsessive love. Meanwhile, “Radar” (a song slated for AudioDamn!’s upcoming full-length debut) started out as an a capella number from Wimmer, then warped into an ultra-catchy piece of R&B-pop, its harmony-laced grooves and Grumeth’s throwback-funk production brilliantly contrasting the heartache in Wimmer’s vocals. [...] Mostly made up of the material created during their time at school, AudioDamn!’s debut album shows off their sophisticated songcraft and production skills while also drawing on their razor-sharp instincts for melody and groove. At the same time, tracks like “Lights Out” and “Radar” reveal a musical appetite that never discriminates between genres. [In De Goot]
Sounds like: Secret Weapons, The Katherines, The Young Wild
Joe Fessler is an aspiring, indie artist based out of the Twin Cities. He was born in Kansas City, MO, but spent most of his life growing up in Minnesota. Joe showed an early interest in music. As a baby, he used to sit at the piano on his sister lap while she practiced and tried to follow her hands as they moved across the keys. He picked up the guitar at age 16 and taught himself how to play and sing some of his favorite covers of songs he loved. His natural ear for music soon led to music composition. Growing up wasn’t always easy – broken home, divorced parents, and all the struggles that go along with being an adolescent – and music became Joe’s outlet to the stress and uncertainty of everyday life. Any moment he could find, he played guitar and piano and sang. Through this daily ritual, he discovered songwriting, as a way of processing his life experiences and expressing them in a poetic way. Each song Joe writes is a unique story – one that is interwoven with his thoughts, beliefs, and reflections on life, relationships, and everything in between.The most important people in Joe’s life are family, friends, and God, and knowing how fragile life can be sometimes, he has learned not to take those he loves for granted. He has just completed his debut album, Worth It, a compilation of fresh, new songs about love, hope, truth, and finding happiness and purpose in even the most difficult moments.
Sounds like: Tyler Lyle, Korby Lenker, David Ramirez
FRIDAY: MOON TAXI
The members of Moon Taxi are no strangers to the stage. Hailing from Nashville, the five-piece formed in 2006 and set out to conquer the Southeast with their unforgettable live set. Nine years later, they’ve amassed over one thousand shows and released two albums, Cabaret (2012) and Mountains Beaches Cities (2013). Endless hours on the road in support of Mountains Beaches Cities allowed for reflection and collaboration like never before. The band, who all split song-writing duties, found themselves sharing personal experiences with one another, opening up about relationships, and becoming very aware of how powerful the human bond can truly be. This realization is heard throughout Moon Taxi’s third and most relatable album to date, Daybreaker. “To me it’s an album about facing the unknown, starting something new and realizing that the relationships you have with other people are what get you through life,” notes guitarist Spencer Thomson. [...] The album opens with the stadium ready first single ‘Year Zero’ and immediately envelopes the listener with echoing oh’s and ah’s, a swooning chorus, and soaring guitar riffs. ‘Year Zero’ is the perfect live sing-a-long; it’s meant to be heard with arms up, eyes closed, and bodies swaying in the warm summer air. “This album has summer vibes all over it,” says frontman Trevor Terndrup. The first song that was unveiled ‘All Day All Night’ is an excellent representation of that and is already making its mark with festivalgoers. “I want the listener to feel like they have stayed up all night with someone and that they are the only ones in the world experiencing the new day dawn,” he says. Daybreaker was released nationwide on October 2, 2015.
Sounds like: The Weeks, Fitz and The Tantrums, Grouplove
SATURDAY: THE KING KHAN & BBQ SHOW
The King Khan & BBQ Show are back, this time as the ‘Bad News Boys’ they originally wanted to be, the moniker and album title was the actual original name of the band circa 2003. Too late to actually change the name, they’ve lived through about every misspelling and rearrangement of the current name, possible. And, although confusing to reviewers and ‘fans’, there are two guys in the band, both writing, performing and singing: Arish ‘King’ Khan: guitar, vocals. His voice is the ‘snottier’ one. His guitar is the ‘lead’ one. Mark ‘BBQ’ Sultan: drums, guitar, vocals. His voice is the ‘smooth’ one. His guitar is the ‘rhythmic’ one. The drums are played live with his feet. Bad News Boys is the band’s 4th studio album, their latest since 2009’s acclaimed Invisible Girl. The boys had previously broken up in 2010 after a taxing stretch, culminating in an invite by Lou Reed to play the Sydney Opera House. There was a public (internet) break-up and freak-out, which carried over into the week after, in Asia. Words were said, brothers fought like brothers. It was the end of a stretch which brought the band all over North America, playing festivals like ‘Coachella’, starting side-projects like ‘Almighty Defenders’ (with brothers ‘Black Lips), touring Europe, Israel, Brazil, gaining legions of devoted fans internationally, and kick-starting the whole ‘doo-wop punk’ bullshit movement that still goes on today, without much credit. This is rock’n’roll. This is punk. This is early r&b. This is psych. This is doo-wop. This is garage. It’s all this and more, without trying to be anything. A misconception of the band is that they play a bunch of instruments, which are then overdubbed to get a particular sound in ‘the studio’. The truth is that they record live. Their ‘studio’ usually an apartment, or in this case, basement, and they are armed mostly with a 4-track cassette recorder. Their ethos is punk. Their mission is to revere rock’n’roll – the real stuff – enough, so that they are permitted to invoke its spirits and ghosts using magick, using their raw soul - for good or for bad - to evoke the smells and feelings that confuse and delight.
Sounds like: Mark Sultan, Black Lips, Oblivians
SUNDAY: JOHN MORELAND
John Moreland started writing when he was 10 years old, the same year his family moved from Kentucky, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he still lives today. He turns 30 this year, but he’s been slinging songs for more than half his life. He started fronting local punk and hardcore bands in high school. After graduation, he had an epiphany. “I’d just overexposed myself to punk and hardcore to the point that it just didn’t do anything for me anymore,” he says. The remedy? He ditched his music for his dad’s: CCR, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Steve Earle. [Artist Website] Moreland first debuted his name as a part of the Black Gold Band from 2006-2010, with a 2006 full-band demo, 2008's Endless Oklahoma Sky, and 2009's solo demo session falling in that time span before he decided to retire the Black Gold Band name. John continues to write and record music, and in 2010 released Things I Can't Control under his own name. Black Gold Band guitarist Wayne Wedge has returned to perform secondary guitar duties, and producer Stephen Egerton (ALL, Descendents) has been playing drums on the studio sessions. In 2010, Moreland was featured on the multi-musician studio project The Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton, along with members of Drag the River, Descendents, MxPx, and many others. [Last.fm]
Sounds like: John Fullbright, Jason Isbell, Sons of Bill
Blog by Gina Reis