Coming on in a welter of heavily overdriven ascending riffage, Montreal’s ORCHAD’s (pronounced ‘Orchid’, obviously, and consisting of vocalist Julian Hannas and lead guitarist Justyn Vynn) new single ‘Critically Ashamed’ is a screamer of an alt-rock anthem with a deeply, bone-movingly danceable groove underlying the hard-rocking guitar sound. There’s an old-school metal-ness to the basal riff, something thrashy and San-Fran sounding lurking under the modern rock tone, driving and energetic before dropping down to a dense flanged arpeggio, Hannas’ super-strong vocal carrying the verse between the powerchord frenzy of the earworm chorus.
Vynn shreds and divebombs on the solo without ever sounding contrived or dated, with a bluesiness that belies his sixteenth-note runs and twiddly licks, before the singalong ‘woah oh oh oh’ playout groove. Overall ORCHAD manage to mix modern pop sensibilities and catchiness with an undeniably rock sound and a little bit of hip hop funk; on the basis of this, ORCHAD have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about, critically or otherwise.
Check out the stunning (and very pink) video for ‘Critically Ashamed’ on YouTube. Follow ORCHAD on Facebook and Instagram.
Kicking off with a beautifully overdriven, edge-of-break-up Tube Screamer-esque guitar tone and kicking drums, Godzukey’s ‘Alibi’ is a proper old-school grungy rock track, all laconic vocals and doomy, portentous bass and guitars. There’s an occasional hint at Mudhoney in the voicing of the fuzzed-up repeating guitar motif, some gentle nods to early Pearl Jam or Mother Love Bone, and a serious bit of guitar-hero shredding from Conrad Bylsma on the playout solo from around 3’30”. Singer/songwriter Jonas Briggs has a perfect early Foo Fighters/Nirvana/Alice In Chains vibe going on around the vocal delivery, but it should be said loudly and clearly: this isn’t simply a retro-reworking of Seattle’s great and good.
There’s a freshness here, too, a contemporary take on that West Coast sound which presumably comes from the creative kick of new connections and neoteric projects. Briggs and Bylsma reconnected to form Godzukey recently, after years of not playing together, recording the EP from which ‘Alibi’ is taken from the ‘music Briggs was carrying around in his head’, and that novel vibrancy comes through in the rawness of the track’s delivery. In Godzukey Portland, Oregon, might just have spawned a new baby monster.
Alt-Rock newcomers Running Alive’s debut album ‘Dreams from Outer Space’, featuring the lead single ‘Affluent’ has finally dropped and proven that maturity in the industry is far too overrated. It’s easily one of the most dynamic Alt-Rock releases we’ve heard this year. At the age of 13-years-old, the members of the powerhouse trio smashed the misconception that it takes decades of experience to offer nuance through music.
With biting metal energy melding with grungy yet melodic Indie tones which pay ode to the Alt 90s, Affluent is an undeniable testament to the artists ability to bring intense authenticity to the airwaves. It’s visceral, it’s intuitive, and you’ll feel every ounce of the angst-fuelled emotion merging with your own.
After hearing Affluent, I felt far more confident about the future of Alt-Rock. I have no doubt that this won’t be the last we’ll hear from Running Alive. Get them on your radar.
You can check out Affluent along with Running Alive’s debut album via Spotify.
“The Fair-Weather Friend Blues” is the conceptually subversive Alt-Country Rock single from one of the most promising West Australian artists around right now, Siobhan Cotchin.
Instead of adding yet another breakup track to the airwaves, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter offered brave introspection through Fair-Weather Friend Blues which put a brand-new twist on the heartbreak narrative.
There’s always a stigma around the admission that you’re lonely and don’t have a friendly shoulder to cry on, which is probably why you won’t hear many Country Rock tracks about fake friends on the radio. But the artist used the power of her powerful introspection to offer compassion to anyone in the same position. After hitting play, I found an infinite amount of respect for her resiliently bold style and even more excitement over her potential.
With plenty of soul-paralysing moments offered by the extremely masterful instrumentals, it is easy to see why she’s rising up in the charts.
You can check out Siobhan Cotchin’s single by heading over to Spotify.
‘Caving‘ is another masterful effort from the fast-rising UK act National Service who are signed to the legendary Indie label Fierce Panda.
National Service are a London based Indie-Post Rock band who have an energetic style and posses a real flair in their sound. With a strong and spectacular style, they drive in speeding hot with supremely style and vivid vocals that really impress. The superlative groove sticks in your head and melody will be stuck in your head for ages.
This is all about not being too hard on yourself in 2020. You are tired and a bit sick of everything. Your sleep patterns are not what they should be and you are not feeling normal. We all need to cut ourselves some slack and realize that it’s one day at a time at the moment.
With a vocal delivery that is so honest and each word means something, no effort is wasted here. The driving guitar riffs gets you in the mood to dance in your lounge. This is top quality track and you can see why this is a much-heralded outfit.
National Service are the type of band that you tell your friends about and wish you could see them in your local music bar. They transform powerfully like Optimus Prime as their new track unfolds before your eyes and ears, and you suddenly start to feel better and realize that things will be okay.
‘Caving‘ from North East London band National Service is an atmospheric single that seeps into your heart and doesn’t let go. They have a gift of sounding better and better as the song goes on, which is a true sign of a quality band. This is an important message of being kind to yourself despite what the world looks like right and a warning to not overthink anything too much. With a captivating sound that brings you close like a magnet on metal, you are locked into a sound that is so pleasurable for your sensitive soul, that needs a big lift. Luckily National Service are the elevator and we just need to walk through the door in order to hear this absolute gem of a new single.
“Honey, You’re Gonna Lose” is the latest single to be released by Pablo Leira Filgueira, an artist quickly becoming renowned for their tantalising infusions of Folk, Blues, Country, Pop and Rock.
There are some hints of Jack Johnson within the smooth lofty vocal notes, but in the instrumentals, the 21-year-old delivers nothing but authentic ingenuity.
The raw textures in the lo-fi production bring an inviting sense of intimacy to the release, Pablo Leira Filgueira doesn’t just offer his soul in Honey, You’re Gonna Lose, he makes it personal too. Hit play and prepare to be serenaded by their affably charismatic release.
You can check out Honey, You’re Gonna Lose for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud now.
The Ivins stirred up the Nashville sound with their Funk-riding take on Indie Alt Rock through their latest single ‘Bloom’. Expect sonic nuance and melodic angular hooks which will leave you lacerated as you fall into the sticky-sweet nectar which drips from their affably accessible sound.
With soaring choruses, tenderly imploring vocals which share the same soul-stroking propensity as the likes of Silversun Pickups, you can’t help getting engrossed by the familiar yet discernibly fresh mix of modern Indie and the timeless tones of the Alt 90s.
It’s hard to feel pessimisic about the future of the music industry when artists such as The Ivins offer such adrenalizing vitality in their sound. Get them on your radar.
Birch Riley gave us a taste of their highly-anticipated album with the monster of an Alt Rock hit “One Life to Live”. If you need frequent reminders that the sands of time are always slipping, this sonically electrifying hit from the Washington-based powerhouse will gladly hammer home the temporary state of your existence.
Despite the ferocity, there’s plenty of soul to be found in this viscerally enticing hit which was made for radio. With the vocals soaring as high as the guitar solos in the chorus, you can expect to be as adrenalized as the soundscape when you hit play.
There may be some Classic Rock touches to the single, but indisputably, there’s enough distinction and nuance in the deftly crafted track to assure you that Birch Riley are as authentic as Rock acts get in 2020.
You can check out Birch Riley’s single One Live to Live along with the rest of their interstellar album Fragments of Space and Time via Bandcamp.
‘Fighting The Man’ is the first track from Simon Husbands’ new debut album ‘POP’ – after “45 years of working with other artists”. As a taster for what’s to come it’s really rather good.
A classic ‘three-and-a-half minute’ pop song, all classic indie-rock in a supercharged 90’s Britpop/punk kind of way – Ash, maybe, Cast, or the Bluetones – with some classic rock flourishes to Husband’s Les Paul-swathed guitar playing, but there’s a definite Nick Cope of the much-missed Candyskins (and now the excellent CBeebies Nick Cope Popcast) to the vocals here, too.
‘POP’ the album is released on December 4th, but you can hear ‘Fighting The Man’ on Simon Husband’s website – and it’s a perfect taster for what’s to come.
While many are despairing about the state that 2020 has left the industry in, artists such as Allan Dawson have been orchestrating maps back to our sanity by offering unifying releases such as the lead single “Bubble” from their latest album “Reflections of Your Face”.
The Colwyn Bay, North Wales-based artist, producer and engineer independently wrote, recorded and mastered Reflections of Your Face during lockdown. It poignantly encompasses our shared yearning for better times, all the while, Allan Dawson utilises the ability to spin a kaleidoscopic colour wheel which paints the human psyche and the multifaceted struggles which will all need to endure while we’re still breathing. While some songwriters are able to exhibit a candid and raw feel with their lyrics, Allan Dawson uses intricate emotional detail to create soundscapes which are simultaneously inspiring and humbling.
Everything from the tone of Allan Dawson’s reflective vocals to the steady pace of the masterfully orchestrated Rock n Roll licks allows you to sink into the production with ease and allow the sonorous feel of the single to convince you that you’re not alone with your lockdown frustration. Even if you want to stick a butter knife in your lockdown companion’s ear, you’ll get the consolation that your embittered mood is one shared globally.
If you could imagine what Nick Cave would sound like if they adopted a more Classic Rock approach and found a resounding amount of compassion, you’ll get an idea of what is in store when you press play on this cathartically comforting release.
You can check out Allan Dawson’s single Bubble along with the rest of their lockdown-born album Reflections of Your Face via Spotify, SoundCloud and Bandcamp.