The world of music is much like anything else when it comes to overall activity and how it relates to the time of year. January is usually pretty far removed within the doldrums of quiet, but luckily the pace starts to positively shift and accelerate once February gets a head of steam going.
And luckily for those of you who count yourselves as OTBEOTB readers, that means more features to peruse!
For today’s commentary, we return to artist Randi Fay, who’s on the cusp of releasing her concept album Intuition February 20th. Previously I evaluated the title track from the upcoming LP, now its time to take the vitals of its sibling single “Firefly” to get more of a sense of just what Fay’s concept is all about.
In comparing the two songs off the bat, the musical approach of “Firefly” certainly fits within the same melodic framework and audio-centric story teased at by “Intuition”. It has a fresh, exuberant rush of boisterous, retro 80’s layering mixed into a swelling pulse reminiscent of swirling K-pop, all while still maintaining a unique dance-floor identity.
Don’t let that immediately upbeat nature fool you into thinking this endeavor is only about fun however. Beneath that danceable, rhythmic frenzy lies a sobering lyrical commentary that attempts to discover what’s real and genuine in a world dominated by Instagram filters, like quantities, and ego-boosting smoke and mirrors.
All in all, the contrast between the two opposing sides makes for the best metaphor to truly send the point across home plate.
Much like the song “Intuition”, “Firefly” also has a strong sense for big, constellation-soaring hooks as well as easily ingratiating charm. Fans certainly won’t walk away disappointed.
It’s now the month of February, which is right about the time we Northeast folk can JUST begin thinking about digging out from under winter’s stern, unflinching grasp. And unfortunately, while we are making some progress prying up the season’s fingers, the mood in the air remains an inflexibly grey, lethargic blandness.
Thankfully we have the fiery energy of bands like Mohawk Bends to help melt away some of those frigid blues. The indie rockers recently dropped the sprawling, thrashing hammer of single “See What You Do To Me”, which soars on a wave of arpeggio-ed guitars, massively fun hooks, and confidence oozing out of every pore.
It’s the kind of song at first listen that demonstrates strong musicianship without needing to take itself too seriously. And that’s long been one of the beauties of straight up, not-grown-in-a-test-tube rock n roll. While I can appreciate the next clever set of poetry set to intricate melody as much as the next music listener, sometimes it hits straighter to the point to take screwed-over heartbreak, add a teaspoon of nervy, flexing guitars cranked up to 10, and let the passion and talent take care of the rest.
This Austin-based outfit manages to pull that all together and then some with “See What You Do To Me”, which blends together sounds from the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Collective Soul, The Whigs and Oasis while still maintaining the nature of its own identity. And that’s one of the most important things to achieve here, when you can make a listener come back based on your approach to musical creativity, not because you just sound like group x, y or z.
The realm of rock is always in need of more worthy ambassadors, and thankfully Mohawk Bends seem up to the challenge with a track like this in their arsenal.
I recently found myself introducing a significant seismic shift into the expanding universe otherwise known as my existence. Namely, by deciding to alter my circumstances and start a new job that’s far removed from my old stomping grounds in media. The decision’s involved making a lot of significant alterations to my life and has left me wondering just what this next choice of a fork in the road has in store for me in the long run.
To be honest, the further outward I travel in that regard, the more I realize there’s a lot to unpack in the hypothetical possibilities.
Those unknown pages are exciting yet somehow dizzying and terrifying all at once, and that internal struggle of feeling makes tackling the present… less than pleasant from time to time. Especially for someone who’s fought chronic anxiety for years now with varying degrees of success.
But luckily, before each fresh morning of my newly-occupied time begins, I am given a small window of a commute for music and melody to come crawling on in to keep me company. The guest stars involved in the event usually rotate quite frequently too.
For a while it was Bruce Springsteen’s 2019 solo effort Western Stars. While I didn’t make a Top 10 album list for the year just expired, The Boss certainly would have made a cameo for this one as this record thrives on one of Springsteen’s main specialties: character songs.
While my car cuts a knife through backwoods, fields and scattered homes set against a rustic terrain, it’s easy to be transported away into the world of Western Stars. For one thing, there’s its engrossing stage of lovelorn daredevils (“Drive Fast (The Stuntman)”), past-prime cowboys (“Western Stars”), and aching nostalgics (“Moonlight Motel”). There’s also Springsteen’s ever-present ability to paint a vivid audio portrait for the listener that’s about more than just the story embedded at the surface.
Inside all those actors, the 70-year old New Jersey native injects honesties that include love, loss, insecurity, the struggles of blue collar living, and plumbing the dark depths of emotional turmoil. And while I never imagined making a segue between these two artists, many of those creative adjectives are also present via another cameo of my weekday listenings: rapper Mac Miller and his 2020 work Circles.
Circles was completed by producer-at-the-helm Jon Brion and recently released following Miller’s untimely demise from an accidental drug overdose in 2018. Like Western Stars, Circles is similarly a brilliantly flawed slice of humanity, not to mention another sort of seismic shift for its creator.
When Miller first came on the scene I remember him coming off as a stereotypical white frat-boy rapper, and as a result an attraction to his work never occurred for me. My car trips with Circles have caused me to bury that presumptive judgement however, as very sadly Miller seemed ready to show us a varied, evolving vision of himself creatively that we now can only get a glimpse of.
For example, album tracks like “Everybody” and “That’s On Me” ditch the hip-hop for a touch of The Beatles filtered through Elliott Smith’s Figure 8, with Miller showing a likable capability as a vocalist. Meanwhile, the title track is a gently meditative intro that slices deep into the cartilage of the musician’s blossoming display of vulnerability. Miller also hits familiar rap signposts with “Complicated” and “Blue World”, but despite the tone shifts the album’s focus remains on looking inward no matter the darkness.
I applaud artists willing to stare into the harshest parts of the mirror, not only for the courage of revealing truths in themselves but for placing those constellations in the sky for their listeners to find too. My experience in this case may be as simple as a few moments spent in the car before a long working day, but albums like Circles and Western Stars make those daily efforts easier to handle.
That’s because artists like these and so many others openly exorcise their fears, worries and anxieties in a way that, when we connect to it, feels like it slays the demons for us a bit too. I can think of few better ways to make the busy weeks just a little bit lighter.
One of my favorite segments to incorporate here on the digital pages of this website involves getting to pull back the curtain and exclusively debut new music for you all to enjoy.
That’s because, on one hand, there’s a certain type of privilege in getting to say you’re the “first” to hear something you want to tell others about. Not to mention, there’s also a particular level of creative trust involved in getting an artist to decide you’re the right person to champion the initial flag flight of their latest gestating endeavor.
And in the land of this freelancing hobbyist of melody I fancy myself to be, that’s a pretty special honor to receive.
But I digress. Today we’re here to discuss and celebrate the premiere of Rändi Fay’s new single “Intuition”. It’s not only the second teaser off of her forthcoming February 20th full-length LP of the same name, it’s also being dropped in tandem with a brand new music video you’ll see here as well in just a matter of paragraphs.
At first glance, as a new release “Intuition” has a vibe like the first initial tendril-ing of the freshness of forthcoming spring as we still sit prone in the doldrums of yet another January winter. The track carries a lightly bright, upright sparkle of waving up-and-down synthesizer grooves that buoy the steady pep of Fay’s vocal in a layer of sunny, well-crafted electronica pop veneer.
But, despite having an arrangement reminiscent of a slice of spacey, 8-bit throwback, “Intuition” still has a straight-up knack for the basic structural heart of what makes a pop song so infectiously memorable. In fact, shortly after my first several listens to the song, I found its themes of love and connection rolling around and around in my head like a thought refusing to be let loose well after the final notes had faded.
And in our world the way it’s been today, we could all use a little more of those topics in our lives. Get your little dosage right here by watching the music video below.
Jonray and Barbara are a couple from Texas who make up the synth-pop duo Moonray. The pair recently released a music video for a sweet new single called “No Stranger to Love”, which possesses both a sprightly bubble in its rhythmic stride as well as an easily-affable ear-worm of a song structure.
As pop tunes go, the pair have a clever knifing knack for the genre as the track is filled with the exuberance of a Jukebox the Ghost with a touch of The Postal Service’s modern sprawl.
This tale of weathering the storm of a reeling romance in just 3 minutes, 20 seconds has an added, non-scientific chemistry as well when you consider the connection of its narrators. Maybe that’s just some type of coupling-induced placebo effect talking at this moment. Regardless, Barbara and Jonray give off an easy, familiar comfort with each other in this tandem as they meld and intertwine seamlessly within the spreading arrangement.
Try NOT to get it stuck in your head, I dare you.
View the lyric video below for “No Stranger to Love”, which is an understated yet equally perfect swipe-right match that wins over the heart of this song.
A big part of the vibe of this track are its synthesizers, which helps spark an infectious beat that carries the melodic backbone. To further elaborate on just how they incorporate these instruments into their music, I will now turn it over to the duo in Moonray, who were ever-so kind enough to tell us a bit more about it, and how “No Stranger to Love” came to be.
Being fans of Prince, Madonna, David Bowie, The Human League, Depeche Mode, amongst others, we always felt that synthesizers were magical, creating soundscapes of unlimited sonic capabilities.
When we first started playing together, synthesis was somewhat new to us. Our first live set up included a Moog bass synth and a Dave Smith polysynth. Once we got our hands on some knobs, the curiosity started endless possibilities of how we could create music with synthesizers.
We started researching and learning about other synths and what some of the greats used. We dived deep into some of the synth pioneers including Laurie Spiegel, Dave Smith, Tom Oberheim, and Bob Moog (who Jonray shares a birthday with). Did you know that synthesizers weren’t commonly used in pop music until the early ’60s? The first synthesizer, which was called the Telharmonium, was invented around the late 1890s and was enormous, weighing around 200 tons. Let’s just say this began a small synthesizer obsession and we began saving up to buy some of the iconic reissues that have been released, such as the OB6 and the Model D.
We later found out about “Switched-On” here in Austin. Filled with many vintage and new synthesizers, we decided to pop in for a visit and by Golly! There it was, right there in front of us, an Oberheim OB-Xa (pictured below) from the ’80s, which was used in Prince’s “Purple Rain” album. It is also most commonly known in Van Halen’s “Jump.” Instantly recognizable magic. After listening and playing with it for an hour in downtown Austin, we were blown away and knew we had to have it. We rushed home, gathered every piece of gear that we could let go of in order to trade in for it. This began a wormhole.
Welcoming the new synth into our home, we immediately wanted to compare it with the reissue OB6. We found them to be extremely different and although today we still love the OB6 and use it for live shows, the vintage synthesizer seems to have a lot more charisma than the newer ones. Maybe it’s the fact that they naturally detune more because they didn’t have the advanced technology we have today with such precise control. They are imperfectly perfect. Our desire even lead us to a 1,200 mile journey to Wisconsin in our van to pick up an extremely rare Prophet 10, pictured below.
We do enjoy having both worlds just as a painter likes to have color options ranging from warm to cool. In our studio, having access to both vintage and modern synthesizers offers us the best of both worlds. There are so many different ways we use our synthesizers—as a bass, a drum, a ripping lead, an orchestral symphony, an arpeggiated sequence, a white/pink noise mimicking wind or ocean, there are endless possibilities. That’s what makes it so much fun. Sometimes we like to turn on multiple synthesizers and let them drone for meditation.
One of our favorite things to do is to travel and write some arrangements via midi with a small midi keyboard such as the Yamaha Reface and Arturia Keystep. We then bring the data back into our home studio and that’s where the real fun begins. We are able to send that data to our choice of various keyboards and sculpt the sound with both hands on the knobs. Some of our synthesizers like the CS-80 do not have midi so, therefore, we usually require four hands, one will play while the other sculpts. We do rely on the reissues for our live performance but primarily use vintage synthesizers and drum machines in the studio.
“No Stranger to Love” was created part in studio and part on the road over a period of a year. We wrote the music for it and revisited later on adding the lyrics. It began with drums and bassline using a TR-808 drum machine, a Moog Model D bass and a Dave Smith Prophet 10 Poly Synth. Although it began that trio, it ended up having 3 iconic drum machines: the Linn Drum (Madonna, Prince, The Human League), TR-808 on tons of hits and Oberheim DX Stretch. We ended up using the Moog Voyageur on the bass, Poly synths included: Jupiter 8, Oberheim OB-8, Jupiter 6, Roland VP-330 Vocoder, Roli (modern software-based instrument), and Rickenbacker 350 V63 Electric Guitar. The guitar was tracked with a line 6 Helix guitar processor outputted into a small 8’ Supro guitar tube amp mic’d with an SM57 and an ELAM 251. Vocals were cut with a Neumann U67 and a Telefunken C12.
Ultimately at the end of the day, you don’t need expensive gear or synthesizers to create a great song, they’re just tools and it’s about what you do with them. We even like to have options such as old Casios priced at $30 off of reverb.com. Even Korg makes an awesome analog like the Korg Minilogue that’s both affordable and amazing. It’s a favorite travel companion due to its size. That being said, as business owners of both Moonray and Moon Lab Studios, we are grateful to be able to offer these unique historical pieces to our clients and keep on creating music we can share. Some of our favorites include The CS-80, ARP 2600, Memory Moog LAMM Mod, Prophet 10, Matrix 12, Jupiter 8, and the modern ones: Moog One and The Schmidt, modern classics.
With the month of December firmly at our side, it’s time to start thinking about the next stage of the holiday season before we officially wind down 2019. Though for many by this point in time, the perspective has likely evolved from simply “thinking” of the forthcoming festivities. I’m guessing part of the mood has instead escalated to a frightened last minute, “Amazon and shopping list”-fueled, shaky-brandy-fever haze of equal parts perspiration and preparation.
Or… hopefully something a bit less extreme than that description was going for, but you get the idea.
Regardless, this post isn’t meant to reflect on such insignificant, commercialized matters. What I like to focus on instead during this period of time… is the pure aspect of simple joy. Whether the likes of Christmas, Hanukkah or just your own peace of mind acts as your guide, it’s important to snag every good vibe possible while taking the tour. Though it’s okay to be a Grinch too… at least sometimes anyway.
But to go back to that positivity, I can sense a wealth of it bubbling up in musician Rändi Fay and her cover of 90’s holiday tune “Grown-Up Christmas List”. The track’s arrangement is a sugarplum-sweetened send-up to that so-called “most wonderful time of the year”, with the rise and fall of a prime power-pop ballad soaked in a sheen of tinsel-like synths.
Despite the song having an edge that leans on the side of saccharine, Fay never steps over the line into the realm of corny and contrived here. Rather, the track’s sentiment of wishes for peace, love and harmony wear as well on her vocals as a familiar fall sweater. And in a world that can be quite scary in today’s day and age, that’s the kind of comfort we should never take for granted.
Now while we’re exploring this moment of such prominent holiday themes, I thought I would take this moment to turn things over to Rändi herself. She was kind enough to send over her own playlist of Christmas-themed tunes, read on to check ’em out!
Christmas music is so diverse, as is the spirit of Christmas. There are so many moods! And so many songs that I have performed, recorded and really enjoy! For this playlist, I focused on my experience of the season’s undercurrent of quiet love and anticipation. That is my favorite part of the holiday-unambiguous, honest, simple love. Candlelight and faith, sharing time, sharing hearts, or just sharing. I look forward to that all year! I added in a few Christmas songs that I have written-it is no surprise they effortlessly fall into this vein-and the songs that inspired my lyric and message.
Grown-Up Christmas List: Rändi Fay
I chose to record my first cover song in 7 years. If you know this song, the reason why will be obvious. It’s incredible! And eternally apropos. Can we collectively make our planet a more compassionate place by choosing kindness? That is my “Grown-Up Christmas List.”
2. One King: Point of Grace
The idea of four kings is so simple, fresh and beautiful. “One king held the frankincense, one king held the myrrh, one king held the purest gold, one king held the hope of the world…” I recorded this song on my “Noël” CD in 2012 and it is still one of my favorites on that project. Here is the original version by Point of Grace:
3. Some Children See Him: James Taylor
So sweet and true, through the eyes of a child, love is love. My recurring wish…
4. Joy Whispered: Rändi Fay
While writing this song, I tried to capture the vast span of culture present at the birth of Jesus- worldly kings, poor shepherds, heavenly angels all sharing their collective excitement of the birth of a child! But whispering their celebration so as not to wake him…Sweet and simple. Precious. Universal.
5. Merry Christmas Darling: Sitti
Being with the one you love-another Christmas wish. “I wish I were with you.” This is a very strong pull for me in the holiday, and the inspiration for my song “Evergreen.”
6. Song for a Winter’s Night: Gordon Lightfoot
Writing a love letter during a sleepless night through a winter snowfall, cold and dark. How telling is this sentiment: “I read again between the lines upon each page, the words of love you sent me…” Anticipation, heartfelt trust…When writing the lyric for “Evergreen” I wanted to touch at those communication gaps where hope fills in the blanks. And waiting through a storm with faith. You will come home. I recorded this song on my “Noël” CD as well, and it too is one of my favorites.
8. Blow Northern Wind: Midævil Babes
I absolutely love this one-the harmonies and clear tones are bewitching! Another inspiration for the mood and mystery I was hoping for “Evergreen.”
9. Evergreen: Rändi Fay
Haunting and sincere-this song is about waiting and faith and unconditional love. One of my earliest co-writes with my current producer and one of my favorites!
10. Wexford Carol: Libera
A continuation of pure tones, the simplicity of children’s voices, honesty. This whole album is stunning!
11. Mary, Did You Know?: Straight No Chaser
I have performed this song a hundred times and also recorded it for “Noël.” As a mother, it is very dear and near to me. I wonder what Mary knew? How could she possibly have grasped the potential and gravity in this child she just gave birth to? I love the fact that this song was written by a man, and I chose a version performed by men. The mystery is so great, crossing gender and generations. This song inspired “Little Babe.”
12. Little Babe: Rändi Fay
This song was a very powerful one for me to write. It is my attempt to answer the question in “Mary Did You Know?” From a mother’s perspective at the time of Jesus’ birth, I think all she knew was love and protection. How overwhelming those two simple emotions are at their core, when a new child comes into your life. You don’t think beyond it. You just want them safe in your arms forever.
Thank you for the chance to share some of my favorite Christmas and seasonal songs. Here is a link to the entire playlist- I am still populating it! I would love suggestions for some of your a little more obscure favorites!
Output 1:1:1 is a whisper-thin, gossamer industrial Bon Iver/Joy Division-send up of a musical project birthed north of the border in Toronto by artist Daniel Janvier. Output recently put out debut EP “Retroactive Rock Record” in November.
The collection of songs slowly unspools and relates its story as a minor-key claustrophobic, occasionally uncomfortable deep diving riptide. The space it creates as a result resembles the crumpled up-and-down heap of someone’s twist and turned car-spin psyche slowly being pulled under hazy waves of turmoil.
Tunes like “Issues at Track Level” take Janvier’s David Byrne-Morrissey fusioning drone of a croon and metaphorically presses it into the tousled scrapbook pages of something collected by Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich. There’s also just a sprinkle of slightly off-balance Tom Waits thump hollowing out it’s own space in the musical terrain. Yorke’s influence especially feels strong in other tracks like the title song, “Blue Jacket” and “The End Wave”. That’s not just from a vocal standpoint either.
While Janvier’s voice can certainly soar with a light delicacy, it’s the absolute desolation, longing and motivation in the tone of each of his declarations that sell the weight of meaning each track is meant to bestow. Half the battle separating a good vocal performance from a great one is just where the intention comes from.
I can hear a pitch-perfect singer with no soul, or a rugged, gasping ruffian who’s seen the weight of the world on their shoulders and worn it as an overcoat. Similarly, I can behold the words of pure poetry in a set of melodic lyrics, or I can simply be buoyed like a boat on a tempest by someone expressing pure emotion without need to place all the punch behind the words associated.
The latter comes to mind with “Retroactive Rock Record”, which takes its greatest strength from the simple power of feel. The lyrics do their part as well, but let it not be said that the musical artist can’t further color in their palette arrangement by simply mastering the conveyance of tone.
Since I first started this website as one of several small outlets for my creative efforts, I never imagined it growing to the point of having guests to come write alongside of me. But I’m proud to say we’ve reached that moment, and in my opinion it couldn’t be on a more appropriate discussion.
Angela Mastrogiacomo’s topic of introverts networking in the music industry and beyond is basically my life. Often it’s not easy to feel like an inward person in a field that’s so “public”, but you have to find the best strategies to help figure it out for the overall good of the career you want to find for yourself. Otherwise it makes climbing the hill that much harder, no matter what your profession is.
And as much as I like putting the microscope on the musicians I cover here on OTBEOTB, sometimes it’s just as intriguing to turn the lens the other way and expose the writer’s vulnerability as well.
I struggle with mastering these elements to this day, so I really recommend giving this piece a read. I know I plan on using plenty of these strategies myself! Now lets turn the floor over to Angela…
Talking to people is hard. I know it shouldn’t be, but for an introvert, simply talking to someone you don’t know, forcing conversation, having to think about what comes out of your mouth, can completely drain you to the point of exhaustion.
I envy the born extrovert who can bounce from conversation to conversation and feel energized by it instead of depleted.
But in the music industry especially, who you know is everything, and you can’t exactly build a network if you don’t talk to people. Which is why I knew when I started my business that if this was something I really wanted, I was going to have to make it work.
So I did what I always do—I made a plan.
I figured out how I could make networking work for me, and then I got out there and I tested it over and over until I found a series of strategies that worked. Now, I want you to take them for a spin.
I know getting out there as an introvert is hard. You want to build your career, you want to grow your community, and you want to connect, but sometimes it just feels totally overwhelming and you have no idea where to start.
This is where these strategies come in. Next time you’re about to head off to a networking event, review this quick list of strategies and see what works for you—you might be surprised!
Prepare a few topics
Trust me on this—if you’re not a natural conversationalist, prepare a few generic topics ahead of time to use once you get to the event. For instance, if it’s a general mixer for musicians and industry, a few of the topics could be “how did you get into the music industry” or “what brought you to (this city)” or “how did you get involved with (this group)?”
Just a couple get to know you questions can be enough to get you started, help you feel confident and prepared, and give you enough room to start a conversation, and then continue to build on it based on their answers.
This brings me to my next point—always listen intently to what the other person is saying. Not only because it’s rude not to, but because if you’re nervous about keeping the conversation going, a great way to make sure it doesn’t die is by listening to what the other person is saying, and following up on it with another question.
For example, if they say they came to the city for work but joke they stayed because of the food, you could follow up “I know, this city has the best food! My favorite place right now is X, but I’ve really been craving Mexican food. Any favorites?”
Bring a friend
I still remember my very first networking event. I was terrified and uncomfortable and my inclination was to just to stand in a corner and not talk to anyone. Thankfully, I’d thought ahead to bring a friend and it made all the difference.
While you don’t want to use your friend as a crutch, they can be a powerful tool for helping you work the room, especially if they’re more extroverted. It’ll give you the confidence to have someone you know and trust there, and it’ll take some of the pressure off.
Set a time limit
One thing that really helps me is setting a time limit. If it’s a 4-hour event, that doesn’t mean you need to go for 4-hours. Give yourself a time frame so that you know when that time is up, you’re free to go home and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
I’d recommend going about an hour into when the event has started, and setting your timer for whatever you’re comfortable with—but aim for at least 45 minutes.
The best part about a networking event is in the days and weeks after. Once you’ve made the connection in person, and grabbed their IG handle or email, then you can be sure to keep in touch by shooting them a “nice to meet you” email and following them on IG and being sure to comment every few days or weeks so you can keep in touch and begin to grow your relationship. When you go to the next event, reach out and see if they’ll be there, and if they are, make time to stop and chat for a few minutes. This is how you truly begin to build those relationships from acquaintances to real connections.
Instrumental-based music is a fascinating case study that really exposes the true nuts and bolts of a song and how it functions from a dictionary A-to-Z.. And that all gets started with the group’s players. Because for every high-power vocalist and scene-chewing frontman holding down the spotlight, there’s guys (and girls) playing pivotal roles like drummer, bassist and guitar player out there excavating their own bits of melodic truth.
While Robert Plant will always be Robert Plant, it certainly didn’t hurt to have Jimmy Page and the rest of Zeppelin around making sure the whole rocking production didn’t go sliding off one big crashing, musical cliff.
By letting the instruments handle the “singing”, I feel as though that grants a greater window into the true artistry gifted musicians present in their work. It’s a lot of time, attention, detail and PRACTICE to be good at the sound that you play and aspire to put out into the world. Then, once that happens, its the job of fans like myself to witness as much of it as possible and rave about it in writeups like this. As any good diehard does of course.
Luckily I have that privilege once again with the group I present you now: Dog Drive Mantis with the music video for their new single “Volta”, premiering right here on OTBEOTB.
While I must admit at initial introduction the band’s rather heavy-metal-sounding (and awesome) name and song title had me thinking of a slightly different sound, what I discovered left me impressed.
“Volta” begins as a dreamy, humming psychedelic lullaby as the band starts to settle into their groove. The track then proceeds to dip into moody, rising rock, Dave Clark 5 jazz-isms aided by some stellar saxophone lines, and a dipping, darting pace that keeps the track’s ultimate vision fun and excitingly upbeat. The boys in DDM seem to have a tight, well-honed chemistry together as well as they handle all the song’s rhythmic twists and turns with ease and spread a wealth of influences out on the table while doing it.
And when it comes to the video, while there’s still something to be said in art for productions in music, sometimes the best thing is simply being able to witness the live performance, unadorned. Getting to see those slivers of a show’s intimacy and/or bravado as though you’re right there in the room with that vibe. It’s also a sign that the talent you’re hearing isn’t staged or endlessly studio enhanced to sell a digital single. It’s a real, spiritual thing wrought from hard work and the love to create art.
So if you haven’t already, check out the electricity of Dog Drive Mantis and how it sparkles here. You won’t regret watching them go to work.
Once again, I am beyond excited to exclusively present another guest post for the band Silver Relics as they documented some of their experiences on a recent international tour. I have to give a big thanks to both Alex Sepassi and Justin Alvis as well as their crew for wanting to help create this, would love to do plenty more of this in the future!
Day 4: Night and Day Cafe : Manchester, United Kingdom : 6.30.19
Justin caught an early flight ahead of Howie, Brandt and myself into Manchester. We headed straight to our hotel to try and get some rest before our first ever UK performance. It was only about a 5 minute walk to the venue so we had plenty of time to explore the Night and Day Cafe located in the center of the city. This venue is spectacular. The type of place that makes you want to take photos.
Soundcheck was relaxed which gave us plenty of time to get to know a great group of guys and a fantastic band, Electric Cheese. The overall feeling I had from this place was that everything has to be earned. It’s not a very forgiving city until you’ve gained the respect of the locals. I don’t need to get into how many brilliant artists originated from Manchester. It’s understood. And if you aren’t aware of that then you sure as shit will once you walk by any venue. This city is home to many of my biggest influences, so to be a part of it, even for a day is amazing.
Shortly after soundcheck, in walks Mark Burgess and friends. Mark’s an extraordinary artist, writer and the frontman of The Chameleons, a legendary band with roots firmly planted in this city. It was a privilege to perform on this stage. Afterwards we received this review from Mark that we’ll forever appreciate:
Manchester Night & Day cafe
“On the recommendation of a friend I caught Silver Relics performing a set at Manchester’s Legendary Night and Day Cafe. Playing a debut show in the centre of Manchester is never easy at the best of times and Sunday nights are the not the best of times, but Silver Relics from New York definitely lit a flame under those present. I was pleasantly surprised and deeply impressed by this duo, comprised of real drums, and talented drums at that, a rock and roll guitar worthy of the name and some soulful vocals, what’s more there were a few seriously impressed Mancunians around me that shared that view. Some great, vibrant original songs augmented by a really fun cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Never Let Me Down ensured that everyone ended the night in good spirits and with huge grins on their faces.
Well played Silver Relics.”
Day 4: Success.
Day 5: Green Door Store : Brighton, United Kingdom : 7.1.19
We’re starting to get our asses kicked at this point. Not a lot of sleep and we’re about to do our 5th show in 5 days. Here we are on our way from Manchester to Brighton:
Everybody loves Brighton. We arrived when it was 75 and sunny. We linked up with our brilliant photographer, Kevin McGann, who happens to be one of our favorite people, so we already knew it was going to be another good night.
Green Door Store is below the train station in an old refurbished stable-turned-venue. The sound in this place was spectacular. Our label mates, Autorotation, put on an amazing performance to start off the night. They’re moody, sophisticated and inviting. We loved everything about this night, especially when we met with Chemlab frontman Jared Hendrickson. This man is amazing. He embodies everything I respect in a musician with the same type of confidence found in Mark Burgess. Here’s what he had to say about the evening:
“I just saw the Silver Relics, a band from New York, play their first show at the Green Door Store in Brighton, about an hour south of London. They’ve been playing dates around the UK and dropped into Brighton just before heading up to play the Old Smoke. I knew their songs from listening to their Generic album, but I really didn’t know what to expect from them live. Having performed in bands for years myself, a good live show is important to me.
Being able to perform with intensity and brio no matter the attendance is crucial too, and Brighton brought the challenge because the audience, though very enthusiastic, was small. Lame bands underperform when in-front of a small audience, but the Relics displayed utter professionalism by stepping up to the mic and ripping the lid off the Green Door. From their opening number, Fame, to their raucous closer, Cardiac, they roared through their tight set as if they were playing to an audience of a thousand.
The lights hazed and the colours boosted and the audience was hooked, cheering and whooping up a storm. Justin pounded his kit with a combination of precision and abandon that was a delirious pleasure to watch. Drummers aren’t always worth watching, but this guy was a show all on his own, ranging from delicate, intimate moments to all-out Grohlian bludgeon. Alex Sepassi is the perfect front man, simultaneously inviting and yet wrapped up in the world of his songs, his voice just the right mix of sandpaper and silk as he sashayed and swayed around the stage like the missing link between Keith Richards and the unbeatable Wilko Johnson.
With a sound that sets the pop perfection of The Kinks and The Beatles on a hard collision course with the dark dreams of “Pornography”-era Cure, the gorgeous sonic wall of bands like My Bloody Valentine and a lick of The Verve before they went right up their own asses, Silver Relics are perfectly poised to take the UK by storm.
Bring them back soon. I can guarantee the room will be packed after that show!”
Day 6: The Islington : London, United Kingdom : 7.2.19
1 a.m. train to London with Brandt and Howie. Justin’s staying the night in Brighton , which was a smart move by the way. London was the perfect place for our final show on this run. The Islington is a gem. We showed up to deliver the best of what we had. This performance was a challenge since we knew this one was going to be the last one until our next trip over. Justin and I love everything about the stage, so you can imagine how happy we were after 6 shows in 6 days. We were joined by our friends, Autorotation and Cyberwaste. It sounded and felt fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for a better spot to perform.
We learned so much on this trip. Performing “Generic.” in front of the people and the places that have influenced me since the beginning was so important to me. Important for us. Something happens when we strip away everything and we’re left with ourselves, our instruments and the people in front of us. We walked away knowing that this record and these songs are something we absolutely need to keep sharing with all of you.
Thank you to every one for your support and to those responsible for getting us here.