A lot can happen in the span of six years. The Star Wars saga can turn interesting again. Narcissistic nutcases with ghastly hair can assume commander-in-chief roles. The Chicago Cubs can even win a championship.
And Lightouts can ambush us all with the outta- nowhere stroke of genius that is Wake, their first long- player since 2013's Want.
Family commitments, geographic hurdles, vaporizing vocalists — all played a role in the unusually lengthy interval between Lightouts albums. Band leader Gavin Rhodes succinctly summarizes the downtime: “It sucks to say... but sometimes life gets in the way of rock 'n' roll.”
With the foursome — Rhodes (guitars, keyboards), Greg Nelson (lead vocals, guitars), Dean Perry (bass guitars), Josh Fleischmann (drums) — scattered these days between Brooklyn, Austin, and, uh, Peruvian Amazonia, getting the band together to lay down tracks isn't as simple as it once was. Add day jobs, kid-raising, ayahuasca experiments, and shaman-searching to the mix, and the risk of a logistical fiasco on par with corralling a thousand feral kittens gets perilously real.
Rhodes remained undeterred during the era between Want, which landed on several influential best-of-2013 lists, and Wake. After his creative partnership with Nelson went on hiatus mid-decade, Rhodes hooked up with Dead Kennedys singer Skip Greer for 2015's More Than Ever EP, which Rhodes released under the Lightouts name. Once Greer went back on holiday in Cambodia with his brand-name act, the stage was set for Rhodes and Nelson to reconnect and rekindle the spirit of their earlier work together. The rest is mystery.
Lightouts' finest feat on Wake, apart from the songs themselves, is making time seem to stand still. Eight of the record's ten tunes are brand-new — “Disappear” and “My My” have been revived and punched-up from their original single versions — but the sonic thread between Wake and Want is seamless. Even the records' titles read like companion pieces, separated by only two letters.
But even if Lightouts' sound remains (mostly) the same, Wake plays more concisely than the sprawling Want. The urgent pace hits early with nimbly chugging opener “Disappear” and continues on through “Celebrate,” the album's earworm of a crescendo. Along the way, “Yes I Dü” is a Hüskertacular wig-flipper, “Make Believe” grinds gracefully midway into the record, the major chorus in “Victory” backs up the song's big-talking title — and all three drop lyrical throwbacks to Want and its theme of weighing the true worth of certain desires within all of us. The band is tight as a Mason jar throughout, with Fleischmann and Perry locking in and careening around Rhodes' fluidly insistent guitar lines. Atop it all, Nelson's stirring vocals soar and dip like a hungry kingfisher, recalling a “Heroes”-era Bowie at the top of his emotive game.
A deeper listen to Wake reveals poignant September 11 recollections from a New Yorker (“Shake Your Sweet”), tempo shifts guaranteed to mess with your equilibrium (“Evil Hearted”), oblique references to seeing visions (“Wake”) and being miles away (“Lucky Strikes”), straight-up references to bailing out (“Disappear”)...there's no shortage of connect-the-dots material to work with here.
True to its title, Wake is the sound of Lightouts' rally from an extended nap. Or is it? Perhaps it's a funeral bell, a signal to mourn a loss — something the striking cover art evokes. Rhodes is banking on the first interpretation: He's on a creative tear these days, having amassed enough demos for another pair of albums, at least.
Time will tell — whether it seems to stand still or not.
Bio written by:
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
We Are The Arsenal
We Are The Arsenal is a 4-piece rock band based out of southern California Formed in 2006, the band has self-released 4 EP's and 1 full-length album. Most recently, the group released their most focused and mature album to date. "American Folklore," released on 3/26/13, explodes with seven tracks of guitar-driven, down-home rock & roll. Storytelling lyrics, shredding guitar solos, and powerful hooks collide to shape what has become the definitive We Are The Arsenal record.
Following in the footsteps of so many other iconic Orange County rock acts, WATA continues to carve their own niche in an ever-changing musical landscape. Over the last 7 years, this steadfast group of musicians has taken the state of being an unsigned band and turned it into an art form. Without label backing or funding, We Are The Arsenal has watched dozens of their peers fall by the wayside, while continuing to tour, release new music, and headline southern California's most prestigious venues.
Chief songwriter & vocalist Ryan Terrigno and Kansas City-bred Lead Guitarist Caleb Blacksher round out WATA's string section, while Bassist Alex Seielstad, and heavy-handed drummer Kris Dufour complete the rhythm section.
Jenna Earle is not your typical singer-songwriter. With a moody yet inviting soundscape that stems from her unique slide and open-tuning guitar techniques, her music couples distinctive lyrics and vibey production with sultry, almost haunting vocals. Born into a gypsy lifestyle, Jenna literally began her life on the road when her mom gave birth to her while traveling and she has been "off the grid" ever since. Spending her youth on a farm devoid of electricity and running water, Jenna's childhood consisted of one-room schoolhouses, bohemian parties and entertaining herself by listening to her parents and their friends play blues and flamenco music.
The product of a musical family spanning many generations, Jenna was fortunate enough to appear as a featured vocalist on a Juno-nominated album by uncle Lenny Graf at the age of 11. Her music education was furthered after watching late-night jam sessions at smoky downtown jazz clubs and attending Selkirk College, where she earned a diploma in music composition. Jenna's latest EP was produced by Bill Bell (Jason Mraz, Justin Nozuka, Tom Cochrane) and reflects her wide-ranging influences from greats such as Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Robert Johnson.
Badman Recording Company
If neural physics has taught us one thing, it's that together, three female minds form a super brain. In the triad Lovers, Carolyn Berk, Kerby Ferris, and Emily Kingan balance, accentuate, and harmonize their unique talents. With animated honesty and unrelenting humor, Lovers enthusiastically draws an audience into the darkly colorful world of their hearts, where throbbing pop textures and a steady electronic pulse transform tender introspections into room-shaking anthems. The result is an expansive sonic landscape of colorful wonder and hope, and an interactive and engaging performance that strives to leave audiences inspired.
Since 2001 songwriter Carolyn Berk has established her unique voice under the Lovers moniker with four acclaimed, haunted, heart-broken releases. The addition of waveform artist Kerby Ferris and multi-talented instrumentalist, Emily Kingan (of the hardcore due, the Haggard) focuses three wildly ambitious and boldly sincere artists on hooky beats and interactive performance.
Badman Recording Company
Hailing from Malmo and Stockholm Sweden, The Bell are a three piece with a penchant for memorable melodies and drum machine driven, classic, alternative songs. Vocals and instruments are shared by the trio of Nicklas Nilsson, Mathias Stromberg and Jan Petterson. Though they live many miles apart, they co-wrote and recorded Great Heat together through e-mail, electronic file exchanges and Skype. Great Heat is the follow-up to their stri- kingly good 2007 release Make Some Quiet.
Badman Recording Company
The Builders and The Butchers
Alaska is a most unlikely origin for the five young men who comprise the Builders and the Butchers. Between 2002-2005, each of the members that would eventually form the band moved to Portland from Alaska pursuing music as a means of escaping subzero temperatures and the endless winter darkness. Soon after moving to Portland Ryan Sollee, singer songwriter and guitarist for The Builders, immersed himself in pre-1950’s American music, and started writing Southern Gothic themed story-songs “I was raised on Punk Rock but when I moved to Portland I discovered American Roots music, I felt as though there was similarities between the two styles. They are both genres that you cannot passively listen to, they almost evoke a response or an immediate reaction from you.”
It was a typical rainy Portland afternoon at Ray Rude’s house (who plays “drums” in The Builders), hanging with friends when Ryan decided to show them what he was working on. Something clicked that afternoon and within minutes everyone in attendance found something to play. Alex Ellis happened to have an old acoustic bass, and Harvey Tumbleson had borrowed a Mandolin, Ray sat down at the piano and they just started playing. Paul Seely joined the band a week later as a drummer and instrumentalist and the Builders and The Butchers were born.
Starting innocently enough as a fully acoustic rambling bunch, seeking out audiences on street corners and outside of venues, make no mistake this is not another story of busking come good, The Builders were not looking for money nor were they looking for fame, they were just playing the music they wanted to on their own terms. The band didn’t work out parts on these early songs, they were developed playing on the street, and this philosophy carries through today, by choosing to develop songs live or at rehearsal. Ryan Sollee says “Something special happens when we get in a room and try to work out a song. If I come in with a developed song it never seems to sound as good or it does not sound like The Builders.” In particular it was at these performances that Ray and Paul worked out their unique “deconstructed” drum style.
They played in the rain and cold of Portland winters until instruments were warped and broken, then one day the Builders sold out and booked a real show, then another, and crowds soon were seeking the Builders out. At the early shows it was hard to distinguish the band from the audience, nothing was mic’d or amplified, and seemingly everyone in the audience had a shaker, washboard, or were just beating on the wall and singing. All in attendance saw something special happening, a Portland audience was having fun, singing along and participating, the music demanded a celebration. Within a year, the Builders would win the Willamette Week’s “Best New Band of 2008” and Seattle Sound’s “Best Live Performers 2008” and completed supporting tours with the Helio Sequence, Brand New, Langhorne Slim, Amanda Palmer, Dax Riggs, Murder By Death and Port O’brien.
The Builders don’t pay homage to old America, they channel it. All of the basic instruments are there, acoustic bass, drum, guitar, banjo, and mandolin. They mix gospel, blues, and bluegrass and howl desperate story-songs that latch onto your brain and demand immediate attention.
The timeless sound of their songs, harkens back to a time long passed in music, but reflecting the dark times of the present. Their self-titled debut was released in 2007 and showcases the bands early raw sound. Their latest release titled “Salvation Is A Deep Dark Well” is a much more complete work showcasing the bands full potential. On Salvation, the Builders worked with producer Chris Funk from the Decemberists who brought with him a throng of expertise, patience, instruments, and some of the best musicians in Portland. Salvation record combines the immediacy of the Builders early work with more a developed songwriting, each one with its own personality and story to tell. In the vein of the Southern Gothic tales Ryan weaves stories of struggle with the usual cast of characters God, the Devil, soldiers, branches, wind, rain and hell fire. The record starts with a piano chord and an eerie wind escalating into the thunderous “Golden and Green”, stomp and grinds its way through “Devil Town” and “The Short Way Home”, to the Spanish tinged “Barcelona" and “Raise Up”, and the soaring chorus of “In The Branches”, ending with a lesson of hope in the gospel homage “The World is a Top”.
The story of “Salvation is a Deep Dark Well” is that there’s joy and celebration through the darkness, there’s light in the hardest of times, and when you reach the bottom may salvation light your way.
Bang Bang Boogaloo
The Dead Exs
"The Dead Exs' debut Resurrection has such an authentic vibe. It's a vibrant recording, but it also sounds like it could have been released at any time over the last forty years." - Jason Kundrath, Pop Break (Mar 22, 2011)
"With the current revival of rock music demanding its place among New York City nightlife, The Dead Exs are within the vanguard of this musical re-explosion. " - Garrett Prince, The Hurdy Gurdy (Jan 24, 2011)
Pattiillo is a producer with a credit list from Alanis Morrissette to the Hold Steady, The Black Crowes to the Beastie Boys and last year produced the Reni Lane debut for Universal Motown. Wirth has toured extensively in Europe and the US with various bands and was a member of the Warner Bros act Sweet Lizard Illtet.
Pattillo's love for the upbeat raw recordings of Howlin' Wolf and the garage rock of The Sonics inspired him to go back to his roots and record a true to life thrashing blues record.
Bar None Records
Breakfast in Fur
With the February 3, 2015 release of Flyaway Garden on Bar/None Records, Breakfast In Fur showcases their full maturation as a band, drawing on influences as varied as sixties pop, British IDM, avant-garde jazz, psychedelia, shoegaze, ambient music and punk. Recorded in various studios, living rooms, and attics throughout the Hudson Valley, Flyaway Garden is an intricate soundscape encompassing an eclectic mix of instrumentation and musical styles.
Moving around upstate New York in his early twenties, Dan Wolfe found himself living in a friend’s laundry room in Ithaca. It was here he began experimenting on an old four track recorder and developing the aesthetic that would later evolve into Breakfast In Fur. In the summer of 2007 Wolfe moved again and landed in the small mountain town of New Paltz, NY. Once settled, Wolfe began to devote all his time to late night/early morning recording sessions that resulted in a collection of layered, intimate pop songs with foundations in folk and psychedelic music.
Coaxed by a friend into taking a break from his reclusive music making, Wolfe met artist and musician Kaitlin Van Pelt at a party and soon afterwards shared with her the recordings he had been working on. Wolfe asked Van Pelt to sing alongside him on these tracks and together they finished the songs and produced hundreds of hand-made CD-R’s that they distributed throughout the Hudson Valley. They called their project and the eponymous EP that resulted “Breakfast in Fur.”Sonically the EP is a self-contained universe of jangly guitar, children’s toy sounds, layered percussion, droning accordion and soft, whispered vocals. Released as a 10”vinyl on Analog Edition Records in 2011, these recordings would be a starting point for the project.
Mike Hollis, a guitarist and one of Wolfe’s first friends and roommates in New Paltz, played live music with several groups locally and insisted they start a band to play Breakfast In Fur’s songs live. Soon Wolfe, Van Pelt and Hollis were writing new material and experimenting with various collaborators as they played shows around the Hudson Valley and New York City. Together with multi-instrumentalist Matt Ross and drummer Chris Walker, Breakfast In Fur started working on the recordings that would become their debut full-length album, Flyaway Garden.
While maintaining elements of the pastoral folk of their first EP on songs like “Portrait and Whisper”, Flyaway Garden also sees the band moving into more aggressive, punk influenced territories with tracks such as “Shape and Setting Stone”. British IDM and ambient music play a significant role on their newalbum, most notably in the electronic textures that accent, and occasionally envelop these recordings. Perhaps best representing Breakfast In Fur’s multi-faceted aesthetic is their cover of Neil Young’s “Cripple Creek Ferry”, which brings together their many musical influences into a single recording. At once a dreamy pop song, a pulsing work of dissonant electronic music, an homage to a classic rock hero, and a prog-rock mini-epic in three movements, Breakfast In Fur’s production of “Cripple Creek Ferry” is a highly original and complex recontextualizing of Neil Young’s song that both embraces the past, and moves far beyond it
As Wolfe told the Miscreant Fanzine about the lyrical content of their latest album, “the new record has a lot of songs about time and identity—like when you look at a photograph of yourself as a child... how are you that person? There’s a lot about that kind of feeling.”These questions of identity and the passing of time crop up all over Flyaway Garden. Tellingly the cover art features an illustrated version of Wolfe as a four year old overtaken by flowing layers of color.
Now performing live as Dan Wolfe, Kaitlin Van Pelt, Mike Hollis, Chris Walker and Pete Newman, Flyaway Garden marks Breakfast In Fur’s transition from the quiet bedroom folk of their first EP into the experimental psychedelic rock of their new album.
Bar None Records
You don’t just get there straight out of the blue; those haunting humming synthesizers at the beginning of “Paragraph Nights,” the melancholy piano chord changes, the emotional pull the song has on your psyche. It’s a process, you know? It comes from years of growth, experimentation, revision, looking at the scene from another angle, considering the possibilities. “Take a picture, make it last, make it different,” sings Dominic Angelella. And that’s very much the road DRGN KING has taken.
Our story opens with Angelella onstage at a North Philadelphia rock club, his hair flailing, his guitar strings rattling, his face beaming. It’s 2009 or thereabouts, and he’s performing with one of his old bands, a punky Americana group with such high energy, folks are hanging out after the show to shake his hand. A couple months later, a different venue, a different scene entirely – an eclectic hip-hop outfit, and there he is again, rocking out on guitar. Later still, Angelella’s face keeps showing up in band photos, on show flyers and venue websites. His enthusiasms run the gamut – experimental lo-fi psych, indie rock soul, arty grunge throwbacks. The question has to be asked - are you in every group in Philadelphia? He laughs, responds: No man, just a bunch of projects.
Meanwhile in South Philly, Brent “Ritz” Reynolds was holed up in a studio, making a name for himself as a young hip-hop producer. He cut tracks for The Roots, worked with Mac Miller and State Property alum Peedi Crakk. Reynolds knew his stuff and had the moxy for the hard haul of being a freelance recording guru. In early 2010 he and Angelella connected in a chance recording session, and the doors of possibility were blown open. Angelella’s songwriting would become a prototype for Reynolds to test out his lush, imaginative production skills into the rock world. Conversely, Reynolds’ studio alchemy would place Angelella’s broad-spanning tastes and musical interests under a single umbrella. You don’t have to be in a dozen different-sounding bands and call them a dozen different things. You can do it all, and call it DRGN KING.
DRGN KING debuted in a well-received warehouse show that fall. Angelella and Reynolds deemed the experiment a success, and kept it moving. Various musical collaborators were brought in, shows got played and new songs were written. Then they retreated into the studio, recorded, refined and recorded some more. Paragraph Nights comes after two years of nose-to-the-grindstone work, and its song are bursting with life, excitement, self-discovery, possibility. Listen to the pensive, introspective electronic pop of “Warriors.” It’s a nod to the community of artists and musicians in Philadelphia, and ruminates on crafting an identity through art: “People tell me I got no purpose,” Angelella sings. “They're not wrong but it's allright.”
Skip around and you’ll find a variety of tones and moods. The fierce industrial juggernaut “Barbarians” rushes at you with a surreal account of nightlife as a rite of passage, as well as a possibly damaging pursuit that just might fray one’s sanity. With haunting half-whispered, half-howled vocals and hammering drumbeats, DRGN KING pushes you to the edge, then carries you back. Earlier, the power pop riffage of “Holy Ghost” laughs and makes an anthemic march out of people projecting an identity onto Angelella – telling him he looks like the Christian Jesus.
With a massive beat and blissful refrain, “Altamont Sunrise” is a soaring number to carry you on your way – to other cities, to other countries, worlds apart from where we are today. A snapping snare drum and juggling bass line are your guides, while Angelella sings loudly and joyously with everyone in the room about taking the lessons learned and making something bigger and brighter on top of the ruins.
It's not a piece of music that DRGN KING could have written individually, or four years ago. Nor is Paragraph Nights a record that could have existed then. It’s an album about the journey, one that reflects as well as embraces it, channeling the trial-and-error process of music-making – and life in general – into something new.
Better Looking Records
Tristeza's unique perspective will earn the respect of open ears. Entrancing post-punk instrumentals infuse elements of Latin percussion and atmospheric guitars. One of the founding members was born in Tijuana, perhaps owing to the concept behind their name: life and death in the nimble waltz of Mexican calaveras, the joy and the sadness, la tristeza, the impossibility of one without the other. Like the old maríachís, ni de allí, ni de acá, they are between worlds, and eternally fighting the good fight.