Wherein I occasionally crawl out of my Sixties/Seventies “everything must be blues-based” mindset and come to the realization there are a couple of good new tunes (and bands) out there worth listening (and giving some space) to. Five tunes that prove that rock is very much alive and well. (Pictured – Josh Mover & the Shakers.)
First up, Born Ruffians, a Canadian three-piece indie rock (I hear about a lot of those) band originally from Midland, Ontario. To show you how in touch I am with current music, they have been around since 2004 (!) and have only recently come to my attention. Their new album, Uncle, Duke and the Chief will drop on Feb. 16th.
“I found this old voice memo on my phone from 2015 called ‘I miss you so much baby’,” says guitarist/vocalist Luke Lalonde. “It was just the chorus of ‘Miss You’ with vocal and piano, very early 60s vibe. I guess I just heard it on the right night when I had a guitar at hand and the rest of the song came very quickly.
I think the narrator is a mix of pure ego and emotional suffering. He thinks the people walking by him on the sidewalk actually care about him or are paying attention to him. This guy is sort of full of himself but he’s proud of his pain and his longing, he feels like it elevates him somehow and he wants to show it off.”
Regardless, “Miss You” is a hot number. Check it out. Sing along. There’s something new and old school about this at the same time:
Now a lot of what I hear is indie rock or neo-blues stuff. So it was refreshing to listen to something to which we can (happily) apply the “retro” label. The artist, The Random Hubiak, tells us that it is “for fans of such early 70s piano-based albums as Nilsson’s Nilsson Sings Newman, Randy Newman’s Good Old Boys, and Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection and Madman Across the Water, or contemporary artists such as Ben Folds or Rufus Wainright.” I’m also thinking I could easily hear one Mr. Joel of Long Island sing this.
Hubiak, it turns out, is from Asbury Park and recently played the Stone Pony. (I know there was some other dude that used to play there and got big but I can’t for the life of me remember his name. I’ll get back to you on that.)
So, you’re saying, how about a female voice in there somewhere? Ask and ye shall receive. This is a band named Caretaker fronted by a lead singer named Erin Pellnat who also does her own solo thing. Their bio says this:
“Caretaker is a rock band from Brooklyn that formed from the ashes of several other popular Brooklyn bands. They deliver high-energy rock songs that make you want to dance just as much as they make you want to punch a hole in your wall. Long after you’ve left the venue, their melodies will get stuck in your head and their memory will be burned in your mind. They are fronted by a real-life nanny.” (It took me a while to make the connection caretaker = nanny but I never said I was the sharpest tool in the shed.)
“”Swallow” is about being trapped in an unhealthy situation or relationship and needing to escape.” Great sounding band and to me, Erin’s voice sometimes swoops into Broadway territory and I say that in every positive sense. I love Broadway. But she’s got that growl too, you know? Dynamite singer. Check out the live version too. Erin’s got wings and apparently is not of this earth!
I’m a little behind on this one as it came out a few months back. But, I trust, better late than never. The band is the Lava Dolls. I like this write-up: “It’s light and dark, melodic and harsh. It’s quiet despair and primal scream therapy. Contrast strikes to your core and rips you from the mundane. Lava Dolls, if you please, are the sonic embodiment of that roller-coaster.”
The song is “The Lucky Ones,” a “schizophrenic party song for the Everyman. A “get up and give ’er” battle cry for those down but not out. It’s quick and dirty, like life. Intended to be played at maximum volume, or at least loud enough to drown the voices in your head.”
The band has the distinction of being produced by none other than Steve Albini who has produced many notables including both Nirvana (In Utero) and Pixies (Surfer Rosa.) If that isn’t street cred, I don’t know what is. The five-song EP was recorded and mixed, we are advised, in less than 4 days with no computers (entirely analog).
Watch out. We are in stage-diving territory here:
Last but far from least are Josh Mover & the Shakers, another indie band from … Canada! This time it’s Toronto. Their Facebook page advises us that, “Mover & The Shakers is the musical project of songwriter Josh Mover. Combining elements of dark indie pop with a dash of folk and a pinch of punk, their forthcoming EP debut “Into A Ghost” offers up a promising five song appetizer for hungry ears.
This tune is called “Box in the Sky” and I dug it from the first note. Starts off with a compelling, melodic lick. A song of … unrequited love?