Originally interested in making satirical hip hop, New Jersey’s EdTang got his moniker combing his own name with one of his favorite groups: the one and only Wu Tang Clan. It didn’t take long, however, for the Asbury Park-er to drop his hip hop aspirations and take on a completely different musical direction – in this case, folk punk.
From the initial guitar twangs, the homegrown drum beats, and slightly weary vocals, it seems clear that Slim Loris are set on bringing back bona fide Americana in a big way. The indie rock outfit incorporates folk rock sounds into their music, and their sophomore album finds the band taking on a more put-together production style from their 2012 debut album, Down to Earth.
Are the 1992 Doc Martens and flannel shirts that are stuffed in the back of your closet whispering sweet nothings to you whenever you open the door? If so, the Black Clouds are a necessity in your life. The New Jersey band has been kicking around since 2004, taking DIY to a whole new level by recording, producing, releasing, and touring for their albums on their own. What’s more, the Black Clouds have managed to do what literally hundreds of bands attempt to do but fail at miserably – revive grunge from its heroin-induced coma.
Toronto’s Grant Lyle has long been making his mark on the Canadian music scene with his authentic version of acoustic blues. With already seven albums under his belt, Lyle has become one of the few ambassadors for classic rock in the digital age of music. His latest release, So There, employs a refreshingly classic sound that is complemented by his breezy and sing-along lyrics.
So There is straight up, no nonsense rock and roll, rooted in a sound of blues rock that is reminiscent of the styles of Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. With his world-weary vocals, perfect guitar picking, and bluesy melodies, Lyle’s style is so faithful to the blues rock blueprint that the album sounds as though it was recorded in the studio next to Clapton while he was recording Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs with Derek and the Dominos.
The album opens with the sticky reverb and spacey vibrations of “Impressions,” a three minute atmospheric instrumental that sets the stage for the rest of the blues tunes to come. The first song on So There is “Let It Out,” which can easily be mistaken for a Clapton cover.
Lyle has been in the music game for a long time, and his experience with production and songwriting is apparent on the album. Making sure not to pigeonhole himself into one category, Lyle builds on his standard of blues rock by branching out and taking elements from other genres to make his own distinct sound.
The talented quartet from Charlotte, North Carolina has been around since 2009 and, according to the biography on their official website, works hard to save the world “one rock song at a time.” Within the last few years, Grown Up Avenger Stuff has been steadily building up a solid fanbase and critical acclaim. The group has opened for a range of bands and artists as diverse as their own musical style, including Killola, Vanity Theft, Hunter Valentine, and Cursive. Their latest release, Sparkleton, eagerly follows on the heels of their 2012 critically acclaimed release entitled Alive. Their new album wastes no time in establishing the band as a force to be reckoned with in the music world, serving as a refreshingly tall glass of cool in an indie scene that is overloaded with new and sometimes similar-sounding music.
Marla Mase is truly a force to be reckoned with. The Renaissance woman has her hands in just about every cookie jar in the art world – singing, performing, spoken word, short stories, plays, monologues, and even erotica, because why not. With a strong fanbase all over the world, Mase has even carved a name for herself in the event planning world as the founder of PARTYpoopers and partySWANK, party planning companies for children and adults, respectively. Even with all these plates on her table, Mase still finds time to create mind-blowingly unique music that separates her from the sometimes homophonous indie/DIY music scene.
When my Oasis expert brother-in-law called Noel Gallagher’s new album “old man music,” I was a little wary about listening to it. But I have to say, if Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is “old man music,” then those are some pretty hip old men.
Although he’s freed himself from Oasis and the music style is reasonably different on High Flying Birds, the album is still very Noel Gallagher. His versions of Oasis songs have always been distinct and almost like a separate entity; that has been a unique aspect of the band that makes them disparate from many of their contemporaries.
They call themselves “flower punk” and that’s probably the best description anyone can come up with when referring to Black Lips. Formed in 1999 in Atlanta, the Lips are part of the garage rock revival movement that ushered in the 21st century. Along with groups like The Flaming Sideburns, The Hives, The Strokes, King Khan and the Shrines, The White Stripes, and Jay Reatard, to name a few, Black Lips have been imperative in helping produce the new old styles and sounds of garage punk.
Unlike their previous albums, even up to their 2009 release 200 Million Thousand, Arabia Mountain is a lot tighter in sound. This is probably due in part to Mark Ronson, who holds producing credits on the album. Arabia Mountain manages to keep the core throwback sound of the Lips, even though the record is much more cleaned up. Ronson was careful not to lose the idiosyncrasies of Black Lips in the production, and the result is an enjoyable record that still has the true Lips style stamped all over it.