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CD Review: Stolen Apple “Wagon Songs”

Italian band Stolen Apple came together back in 2008 after one band called Nest came to an end. The previous band would release two albums during its existence before calling it quits: Drifting in 2001 and Isn’t it? in 2007. And when the band’s time was over, Riccardo Dugini (vocals, guitar) and Luca Petrarchi (guitar) would search out musicians for their next project which would be Stolen Apple. The resulting band would include Dugini and Petrarchi, as well as Massimiliano Zatini on percussion and Alessandro Pagani on bass.

For nearly a dozen years, Stolen Apple has been creating their own brand of music. Together, the quartet draws inspiration from numerous forms of music: “From psychedelic rock to post punk; from folk to indie rock; from cosmic & post atomic rock to new wave; from country to italo disco.” This ever-changing blend of music can be found on Stolen Apple’s albums entitled When We Rise (2015) and Trenches (2016). Just recently, the band added one more album to that discography. The 2020 release from Stolen Apple is entitled Wagon Songs.

Wagon Songs from Stolen Apple begins with the track “Suicide”. With this track, the Italian band seems to be influenced by the likes of Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The track contains the same kind of musical approach as the Detroit group’s proto-punk sound back around 1969.  In fact, this track easily brings to mind the music of that band’s song “I Wanna Be Your Dog”. “Suicide” is a strong track that will easily appeal to those Rock and Roll fans looking for the “Real Deal,” and this is a straight-out Rock and Roll track for those looking for that.

Stolen Apple continues their album with one of the track “Renegade Sun (Brexit)”. The band takes their music into a much more current time. The music of this track comes with a style that blends together influences from the Queens of the Stone Age and those of The Black Keys. Those influences are used to create a track that is hard hitting and ready for today’s Modern Rock radio formats. Much like the previous song, the modern feel of the music on “Renegade Sun (Brexit)” will definitely appeal to the fans of hard hitting Rock and Roll music.

With the next track called “Masturbation,” Stolen Apple brings a little bit of the Italian side of the band into the music as they seem to flavor the song with just a little bit of the music found in a Spaghetti Western soundtrack. That Spaghetti Western flavoring added to a slightly New Wave Feel to the music ends up creating a track that is rather reminiscent of the eighties New Wave/Post-Punk band Wall of Voodoo, excepting maybe a little harder in its delivery. To go along with the slight Spaghetti Western flavoring in the music, the addition of a rather strong Italian accent in the lyrical delivery brings out more of that Italian base to the band’s music.

On the next track called “Out of Fashion,” Stolen Apple creates a track taking several different approaches at once. As the track begins, the slightly off-tone vocals mixed with the strong but gentle pace to the music created by the guitar, bass and drums create an easy approach to the song. Soon enough, however, the band picks up the energy level to the music. What occurs is a track with a strong Alternative Rock feel that blends together influences from the likes of Sonic Youth and Nirvana. The resulting track of “Out of Fashion” would easily fall directly into the Alternative Rock scene from the middle of nineties.

The Wagon Songs release from Stolen Apple continues with the track “Kid”. With this track, the band slows things down quite a bit as they explores a more Progressive Rock sound. The track finds the band drawing inspiration from Classic Rockers Pink Floyd. In fact, the Pink Floyd influence seems to be there is several ways. Among those ways is the fact that the track itself seems to have a strong musical resemblance to Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” track. The basic slow pace to the music of the track recalls Floyd’s style on that song. And then the accompanying strings add even more of a resemblance to Floyd’s song. Not to mention the extended length of the track which adds to the Progressive feel of the track. 

Before Alternative Rock became a radio genre, it was simply known as College Rock, music that would never have gotten played on Commercial Radio formats in the late seventies, early eighties. It’s within this concept that the track “Up Your Mind” from Stolen Apple falls. Bringing some of the influence from the early days of The Motels, Gang of Four, Wall of Voodoo and others from that era, the style of Rock and Roll featured on “Up Your Mind” is the type of music that would have felt right at home on College Radio in the early eighties. While not really commercial for the eighties, this would have been the type of song that would have gone on to influence the artists included in the early days of Alternative Rock. 

The latest release from Italy’s Stolen Apple comes to a close with the track “Easier”. During the first ninety seconds or so of the track, the band creates yet another track much like with “Up Your Mind” before it inasmuch as the song “Easier” features music that feels like it would have been right at home between the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties. With the instrumental feel of the music, the track draws some of its influence from New Wave music and some influence from Punk Rock of that era.  Adding the vocals in, the track ultimately feels like something from the Art Punk band Pere Ubu. 

Wagon Songs from Stolen Apple finds the Italian band creating very strong Rock and Roll through the album’s nine tracks. And with the various influences, styles and musical elements that the band draws from and includes in their music, this album is for anyone who enjoys Rock and Roll from any era from the seventies through today. 

To hear just a little bit from the Wagon Songs album from Stolen Apple , check out one of the very first tracks released to promote the release,  “Renegade Sun (Brexit)”.

To check out the Wagon Songs release from Stolen Apple on spotify, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: Automatic “Signal”

Los Angeles-based band Automatic came together when they met within the music scene of that city. Izzy Glaudini (synths, vocals), Lola Dompé (drums, vocals) and Halle Saxon (bass, vocals) are the three women who make up the band. It was back in 2017 when Izzy had been invited by Halle to plug her guitar into the bass amp. Since then, however, the band’s makeup changed from guitar-based to keyboard-based music when Izzy Glaudini decided to set the guitar aside and started jamming on the keyboards. With this version of the lineup, the three musicians draw their musical inspiration (as well as the name) from the band called The Go-Gos as well as others. Other influences to Automatic’s music come from the likes of punk bands like Bauhaus and others.

While Automatic draws some inspiration from Punk (due to several factors including the fact that Lola Dompé’s father is none other than Daniel Ash of Bauhaus), the band’s sound is much more closely related to Indie Rock with some New Wave flavor thrown in. You can call the band’s sound “electronic post-punk”. That sound can be found on the band’s debut album entitled Signal.

Signal from Automatic begins with the track “Too Much Money”. It’s the sound of Halle Saxon’s bass that starts the track off, with Izzy Glaudini’s keyboards adding a bit of Industrial Distortion to the background of the track. When Lola Dompé’s drums are added into the mix, the resulting track takes the listener back in time to the early days of New Wave when the bands like Ultravox and Kraftwerk were influencing the direction of Rock and Roll over in England. The unmistakable New Wave feel of the music is joined by lead vocals from drummer Lola Dompé and background vocals from keyboard player Izzy Glaudini that, together, recall bands like Bananarama and/or the aforementioned Go-Gos. While the track has a slightly dark feel, the quick pace of the music adds some lightness into the mix. “Too Much Money” is a fun listen, in a throwback kind of way.

Automatic continues their album with the track “Calling It”. Like with the previous track, the song begins with the pounding bass from Halle Saxon with a light drumbeat from Lola Dompé. The two musicians create a rhythmic pattern that is added to by atmospheric noise from Izzy Glaudini’s keyboards. That rhythmic pattern and atmospheric noise create a track of minimalistic simplicity as the vocals from Izzy Glaudini on the track are delivered in a sing-song, monotone manner. The lyrics about bringing a relationship to a close just adds to the darkness of the track. The song ends up being the type of tracks that would fit in with either New Wave artists and/or Alternative Rock artists.

With the track “Suicide in Texas,” the band creates another song with a rather simplistic feel to the music. Like with the previous track, “Suicide in Texas” contains a light delivery on the drums as well as atmospheric noise in the background. Along with the light percussion, the song features a strong bassline and swirling keyboards that constantly seem to loop upon themselves. This creates a track that has a definite Pop-like pace to the music and a beat that is rather infectious. That being said, however, the song is hardly the type of song that you would find on a Top 40 radio format. As a result, “Suicide in Texas” contains a sound that is both underground and listener-friendly at the same time, creating one of the more interesting songs on the album.

The next track, called “I Love You, Fine,” begins with a heartbeat-like pulse from Halle Saxon’s bass and a keyboard sound that comes with a slightly dark feel to it. The bass/keyboard sound is then joined by sonar-like pulse, which, combined together creates dark, foreboding music. It is with the inclusion of Lola Dompé’s drums that the song actually gains a little lightness to the music. When the band finally picks up the pace on the song, the track takes on a Post-Punk musical approach, making the track feel like it came from the late seventies/early eighties.

As much of the music contained on the Signal release from Automatic contains some influence from New Wave music from the eighties, it should come as no surprise that the band added a slightly robotic feel to their music on the title track of the release. The addition of the sound effects in the music on the song “Signal” also gives the song a mechanical feel to it. With the robotic feel to the drums and bass on the song, as well as the use of sound effect, the track “Signal” feels very much like it was influenced by the band Devo. The band even continues the mechanical feel of the music with the next track of “Humanoid”.

With the bass riff at the beginning of the track “Electrocution,” the band Automatic feels as if they are calling upon the influence of the group A Flock of Seagulls. The quick drumbeat even adds to that reference. But with the light keyboards at the beginning of the song, the track also feels like it was influenced by the likes of The Cure. The Call-and-Return feel of the lead vocals and background vocals in the refrain of the track adds a nice amount of depth to the track. You could imagine this track being played on College Radio back in the late eighties/early nineties.

The Signal album from Automatic comes to a close with the song “Strange Conversation”. The track’s heavy bassline and strong keyboards mix with keyboard player Izzy Glaudini’s vocals to create a track that feels like it would have come from the mid-eighties. In fact, the track would have felt right at home being played alongside either “I Could Be Happy” or “Happy Birthday” from the Scottish New Wave band Altered Images.

Signal from Automatic is a strong album, with the various influences from Alternative Rock and/or New Wave, and from bands like Kraftwerk, A Flock of Seagulls, The Cure among others. But with the music on the release alternating between Post-Punk, Industrial, and New Wave, the album is more suited towards those looking for Indie Rock than those looking for Top 40/Adult Contemporary music. If you’re a fan of slightly darker takes on music, this may well be the album for you.

For a taste of the music from Automatic, check out the music video to the band’s song called “Too Much Money”.

To check out the Signal album from Automatic on spotify, click on the album cover below:

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CD Review: Microcosms “Fairytale”

Sometimes you learn an instrument and then create a band. Sometimes you spend years playing one instrument only to find inspiration in another instrument. That was the situation with songwriter Andrew Tschiltsch who spent time playing drums for years before the desire to play guitar hit him. And once the guitar was in his hand, the desire to create his own songs hit. Tschiltsch spent a few years recording and experimenting with the way his music sounded before bringing Bryan Emer (bass) and Jered Pipenbrink (drums) into the fold. Together, Tschiltsch, Emer and Pipenbrink create the Chicago-based band called Microcosms. The band’s first release, Know My Body, came out a few years ago in 2017. And in 2018, the band released their latest EP called Fairytale

Fairytale from Microcosms begins with the track “Omnipotence”. The track begins with the entire trio creating a track that blends together straight-out Rock and Roll with some Prog-Rock influence to it. Soon enough, however, the feel of the track changes as Bryan Emer’s bass seems to be the instrument to focus on as the bass pushes the track forward. Both Tschiltsch and Pipenbrink use their instruments to support Emer’s playing. Eventually, the trio creates a song that contains a rather unique feel to it. Ultimately, the slightly off-key music of the track brings to mind the style of Frank Zappa, as both the music on the track and the playing of the band both seem to contain Zappa’s influence. The track’s lyrical content features a darkness as the lyrics describe a person who wants as much power as possible.

With the second track on the release, Microcosms creates a slightly more upbeat track. The track “Wrapped Up” features a musical blend that takes some Punk feel and mixes it with some straight Rock and Roll. What stands out on this track is the vocal delivery from singer/guitarist Andrew Tschiltsch. On this track, for whatever reason, Tschiltsch seems to be channeling Mark Mothersbaugh of the band Devo. The lyrics to the track also seem to contain a little influence from the Akron, Ohio band of Devo as the lyrics about wondering why the singer is so attracted to the person of interest that the lyrics are about. The band powers through “Wrapped Up” as the song doesn’t even last for two minutes before it’s finished. While the song is not one hundred percent influenced by Devo, the influence does seem to be there.

Microcosms’ 2018 release of Fairytale continues with the song “Flinch”. With this track, the band continues their pattern of creating songs that are inspired by older bands. On “Flinch,” you can almost hear the influence of the band Talking Heads in the music. It’s the slightly off-kilter feel of the music that brings the vision of the Talking Heads to mind when listening to the song, not to mention the way the lyrics feel as Andrew Tschiltsch delivers them. The Frank Zappa approach of the band on this track makes for a great track that goes well with the previous track of “Wrapped Up”. The overall feel of the track makes it perfect for any Alternative Rock radio station.

As the track “Strangle” begins, the listener finds themselves back in the nineties as the track has a style that is rather reminiscent of bands from the era. The track starts off with the sound of Bryan Emer’s bass. The riff created by Emer brings to mind something from the band Weezer. From there, the track features a style that blends Weezer’s influence with some Punk feel. The driving pace to the music of the track creates a strong, fun feel to the song. Like much of the EP, “Strangle” features lyrics about someone who has too much power. The lyrics deal with the singer trying to control his anger towards that person. The song feels rather at home in today’s political atmosphere.

The five tracks that make up the 2018 EP of Fairytale from Microcosms have a definite feel to them that helps to create a solid release. However, the five tracks also contain a different approach. This creates a solid EP with a good amount of variety in the Rock and Roll. While this EP was released not that long ago, the band continues to record. Stay tuned.  

 

To check out the music of Microcosms, check out the video to their single “Omnipotence”.

For more information, check out Microcosms’ PR Firm, Whiplash Marketing & Whizkid Management. Click on the logo below to visit their site.

 

 

 

 

Microcosms just celebrated the release of their latest single entitled “Forget Us”. Click HERE to check out my review of that track. 

To check out the Fairytale EP from Microcosms, click on the album cover below:

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Artists and Bands Features Free MP3s Reviews and Suggestions

An introduction to the ambassadors of the weird, the strange and the socially unconventional

If you like the idea of being entertained by an excellent genre bending band then you really do need to check out The Bohemian Embassy who are another fantastic band from Bath in the UK. They released an album back in 2012, Built For The Future, which is an absolute musical gem and a joy to listen to.

The Bohos

This band, affectionately known as the Boho’s defy any defined kind of genre pigeonholing. Their sound combines elements of alt pop/rock with occasional skiffle-ish and post punk connotations. This unique style along with their phenomenally well executed live sets has been getting the Boho’s plenty of praise from the likes of Cerys Matthews on BBC Radio 6 and has taken the Boho’s to some of the best live music venues in the UK as well as a Spanish tour. Since the release of Back To The Future the band have gained a new member on guitar and violin which expands their stupendous sound even further. In 2014 the Boho’s will be taking their fantastic sound back into Europe and also America..

If you fancy checking out the sound of The Bohemian Embassy then you can download track 2 from Built For The Future, Subject To Status’ as a free download.

The mighty Boho’s are about to release a new EP called Seek Love and have already released a single as a free download called ‘Look East’ from the EP.

seek love

The Boho’s main web page is HERE

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Artists and Bands Free MP3s Reviews and Suggestions

Festive Freebies For Your Pleasure

   The purpose of this little article is to list a selection of some wonderful independent bands, all of which have inspired and fuelled my passion for good independent/unsigned music. As it is the season of good will all of the bands who I have listed below have music available as free downloads. On the Bandcamp links where you can ‘name your price’, please do give something if you possibly can. This will help to keep the independent scene alive and of course be a bonus to the bands. Obviously spreading good word about all of these bands will also be a great help. All of us here at the Rockandrollreport wish you a wonderful festive season.

Animals & Men

  There is a saying that old punks never die which is very true although the same can be said for music enthusiasts and aficionados of all varieties.

  This spotlights a great little band called Animals & Men who are based in Frome, South West of England On August 24th 2013 Animals and Men released an EP, To Live And Die In The West Country in downloadable format and also on vinyl.

 This EP is a minor masterpiece in minimalist alternative punk. It is clear that each of the four EP tracks come directly from the heart of the band fuelled by their love and appreciation of the alternative post punk sound. These four tracks have a combined total play time of just under ten minutes making To Live And Die In The West Country a short but extremely addictive experience.  Animals & Men have recently made available a CD copy of To Live And Die In The West Country.

Links

You can discover more about Animals & Men HERE complete with free downloads of their excellent music. The Animals & Men Facebook page is HERE.

Eletrika

Eletrika were formed in 1998 by Claudio David. They are a Brazilian metal band who combines Brazilian rhythms and Portuguese language in their own unique style. Eletrika have a unique style which is simply amazing. In 2005 Eletrika re titled their album V.S.F. to S.O.B. This was re worked during 2009 into an English version calling it ‘V3.1beta’.

Eletrika combine a powerful metal sound complete with sharp breaks along with that beautiful fusion of Portuguese and English languages. S.O.B. is an excellent album in all of is formats and I cannot rate this highly enough. You can get the complete S.O.B. album HERE. There is a huge selection of Eletrika tracks available as free downloads, you can check this out on Soundcloud HERE. Hey are also on My Space and Facebook. Their Facebook page has a very large selection of tracks to listen to and/or download for free thanks to the generosity of Eletrika.

Fabric

 Fabric are another band based in the South West of England, they are from Bath. The bands roots date back further but Fabric named themselves in 2005. I saw them live couple of years ago and was entranced by their performance. Fabric create a stunning atmospheric form of light electronic/pop/rock which is very easy listening. They have a style which is somewhat magnetic. Once you start listening you are drawn into the music – especially when listening to their most recent album from 2011. This is called The Wait.

 The Fabric website can be found HERE. The band have kindly made their gorgeous music downloadable for free HERE. As always I urge you to show your appreciation and thanks, you could always be really appreciative and make a donation to the band via pay pal, there is a link for this at the bottom of the page. Fabric can be found on Facebook HERE.

Four Year Beard

  This article would be far from complete without mentioning the mighty Four Year Beard. This is a musical project set up by Mike Frank to allow him some escape from the musical and artistic restrictions of playing in a band. This project grew into a stable of artists all of which can be found on the website 7thandbleeker.com – I strongly recommend that you go there and immerse yourself into the vast amount of aural insanity which is available, a great deal of it is for free. Enter at your own peril though as you may never be the same again!

Halfsleeper

 Halfsleeper are relatively new band/musical projects who, to the best of my knowledge are based in Bristol, UK. I cannot tell you too much about them but their music is gorgeous form of light alternative rock. Halfsleeper are on Facebook and Bandcamp. You can name your price to download The Iowaska Demos three track EP through the Bandcamp link.

Hark

 If you are a fan of good dynamic solid and pounding heavy rock then you need to take a look and have a good listen to Hark. Welsh heavy power-rock trio HARK (Jimbob Isaac (ex Taint – Guitar, Vocals Nikolai Ribnikov (ex- Whyteleaf) – Bass, Simon Bonwick (ex- WHYTELEAF) – Drums) have finished recording their forthcoming Season of Mist debut album, titled Crystalline. This has been recorded at Monnow Valley Studios in Wales (Black SabbathRUSHJudas PriestPortishead), and mixed by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou (CONVERGE,High On Fire, KVELERTAK, YOUNG WIDOWS). Crystalline will be an absolute tour de force of a solid and heavy power rock album which will be released in March 2014.

Regarding the recording, front-man Jimbob Isaac has stated ’Fingers to the bone. That has been one of our mottos since HARK's inception, and it carried us through to the recording studio. Long days, little sleep and grim determination made this record the beast that we believe it to be. We pushed ourselves in all kinds of ways, and that commitment resonates throughout’. This rings so true when you listen to Harks first single, ‘Mythopoeia’. To give us a free taster Hark have made this single available as a free mp3 download through their Bandcamp page HERE. Their main site with European tour dates for 2014 can be found HERE. You can find Hark on Facebook HERE.

Gouranga

  Gouranga are a four piece heavy grunge outfit based in Bristol, UK. They have a solid grungy sound which is guaranteed to shake your foundations. They have two albums, the four track Nature’s Knife and the earlier seven track Keep Your Colours along with the single live track ‘Dinosaur Apathy’, recorded at The Cooler in Bristol during May 2011. You can name your price for all of this kickass music at Bandcamp HERE and find them on Facebook HERE

Los Criptozoos

 Los Criptozoos are a five piece melodic and fun punk band rocking out of Castellon De Plana in Spain. They where born in 2009 and in 2012 the band released their album La Danza Del Cadaver. This translates to ‘The Dance Of The Corpse’ and it is a superb piece of low budget punk jollity. The lyrics are all sung in Spanish which I love, I may not have much or any idea about what the songs are about but they are all extremely infectiously inflective. Los Criptozoos have this album available as a free download HERE and can be found on Facebook HERE.

POHL

 POHL are a powerful experimental rock duo based in Bristol, UK. Their style is a kicking combination of grunge, stoner and sludge with a hint of psychedelia. Their debut five track EP POHLSMOKER is available through Bandcamp. Once again you you can name your price HERE. You will also find them on Facebook.

Sicknote

  Punk has evolved in many ways, one stupendous and sublime example of this is Sicknote who are from Cardiff, South Wales, UK. They are a kind of techno rave dance shamanic punk revolution who, in a relatively short space of time have gained a huge following. The bands formation was an entirely fortunate but haphazard affair. A group of friends met an all night after party spot and decided to ‘wing it’ on stage just to see what would happen. From here Sicknote were born and they have been doing their ‘thing’ ever since. Sicknote have very sadly and recently lost one of their members, Dr Conker who was their dancer and spiritual guide. Dr Conker passed away in his sleep, RIP and dance on forever Dr Conker. Currently all live dates have been cancelled. You can get a great taste of Sicknote on their website HERE, there is a page there where you can download a whole pile of free music. Sicknote are on Facebook HERE, you know what to do!

The Bastard Fairies

  How could you not be intrigued by a band with a name as good as this? It was the name which caused me to check them out some while ago and if I had a Xmas tree in my flat then I would definitely have a bastard fairy on top of it! This band are a dangerous alternative pop band from L.A. who have a couple of stunning albums available as free downloads. Momento Mori is available through Bandcamp where you can name your price and Gutbucket Slims Blues Emporium is up for grabs in return for signing up to the bands mailing list. The Bastard Fairies can be found on Facebook HERE. If you like their music then I would strongly recommend you to also check out Well Hung Heart.

The Shanklin Freakshow

 The Shanklin Freakshow are a top notch steampunk industrial circus rock band who have been blasting out from their home on The Isle Of Wight, UK. Their sound has been shaped by the likes of Marilyn Manson, Insane Clown Posse, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie etc. Their music is big, bouncy and buoyant with a full circus rock sound. I would love to see the live act sometime, it has to be one wild stage party. If you like the sound of these guys then check out their website HERE, there is a music player at the bottom of the page where you can listen to and download their music from. A large selection of it is available for free.

Vodun

  Based in London, UK Vodun are a three piece afro, heavy psych soul outfit who would also slip into the stoner/sludge metal genre. Their seven track album Eat Up The Sun is available as a free download HERE, Vodun are also on Facebook.

 

Thanks to each of the bands mentioned above for their musical generosity and good will 

 

 

 

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Nasty Little Lonely (formerly Rock In Your Pocket)

The good city of Bristol and the whole South West region in the UK has a thriving music scene, the city of Bristol is packed with so many good music venues covering all styles and genres. And then there are the bands. One band band called Rock In Your Pocket was formed in Bristol back in 2009 and they caught my attention very quickly when I found their initial two songs ‘Ugly Face Of Rage’ and ‘Le Son De L’argent (Dirty Hands)’ online. Both of these songs have such a strong fusion of styles which entrapped my enthusiasm for this band. ‘Ugly Face Of Rage’ gels to form a plastic/elastic explosively punked up song. ‘Dirty Hands’ has also been used on the band’s debut album Gutterdub. Nasty Little Lonely are beyond pigeonholing into any specific genre or comparison but they are erogenously eclectic as they mix the power of punk and grunge into a flux with a dash of dub and a light spicing of guitar psychedelia.

Nasty Little Lonely