Daniel Euphrat is the mastermind behind the eclectic Timmy Sells His Soul outfit. Each song is so uniquely distinct and different from the last it’s like listening to a more pop version of Mr. Bungle though without the busy backdrop. Dripping wet with indie-pop incredibleness, “Name and Form” jumps from genre to genre but always boasting a terrific array of textures. His off-key vocals range from somewhat spoken yet muffled to melodic crooning. A huge array of electro influences are smashed up behind his voice. “Seeds” finds Rachel Springer Dunbar lending vocals amid a chaotic stew of IDM and melodic indie pop harmonies. “Knife and Bowl” evoke a kind of melancholy – something this album doesn’t seem to lack in – but with an industrial-pop edge ever so slightly creeping upwards. I couldn’t begin to tell you who he may be influenced by because so many things happen throughout the listen which is a good thing; I highly doubt it’s easy to pigeonhole someone like Timmy Sells His Soul. “Vicious” sounds like something you’d hear off of Metropolis Records while “We are Surplus” could be easily heard at your local coffeehouse with its low-key indie-pop flavors. Rangy and yet authoritative in what he’s trying to deliver and accomplish, “Name and Form (Black)” is a dark beauty but one that demands your utmost attention. Highly recommended.
Posts in category unsigned bands
Bob has been writing and performing under the moniker Bob Villain for some time now; and while I have yet to see him play live from what I’ve been told it’s truly a sight to be seen as he apparently shredded it up nicely at the Velvet Lounge in DC some time ago. This release was put out on the Seven1878 Imprint label based in Strasburg, VA. His singer/songwriter style evokes visions of one of his main influences in Evan Dando (Lemonheads) but on “Dark Side of the Room” he reaches out for a more experimental and abstract path. Often his lyrics evoke a range of emotions but always convey a certain raw quality which so many of the slickly produced pop sensation crap lacks in earnest. The recording quality is definitely above the standard bearers one expects from the apartment / basement scenes which is a great change of pace. His voice traverses from an edgy howl to a gruff melodic style throughout the album. He adds elements of harmonica to his rhythm guitar. What’s perhaps most compelling is that unlike so many singer/songwriters who pepper their album with a handful of punts, all of the songs on this quick listen are tight, well-written, and seem rather like a natural fit for his style – nothing’s forced at all. The honest approach is evident throughout and the album also features a collaboration with labelmate Christopher Feltner. Well done and I’m looking forward to a live show and a follow-up. Hit him up on his facebook and peep his bandcamp now.
After all these years, I’m super stoked that Moes Haven is still doing what they do. Lo-fi creativity wrapped in bubblegum lyrics and a damn awesome amount of creativity, Moes Haven has a ton of accomplishments next to their name including a 24-disc album that runs an entire day, over 1500 songs to their credit, and a career that has spanned a decade and a half. Have they made tons of money? No. Are they super famous? No. So what. What Moes Haven is, is an awesome indie rock band that sheds all stereotypes and just flat out writes songs. Not everyone is a hit but you’d be surprised to find out that the vast majority of them are damn well-written singer/songwriter masterpieces. For “Stromboli’s Alarm Clock” they wrote 200 songs, choosing the most polished and then set about recording them. Matt Farley (keyboards, vocals) and Tom Scalzo (guitars) once again deliver a fun-filled album that begs repeated listens and most importantly inspires even an old jaded dude like myself to reassemble the DIY studio in the basement. Thanks guys!
DC-based trio Death by Sexy got their name when Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal fame was playing a pinball machine at the Black Cat in D.C. and suggested the moniker to the group who was struggling with the first perennial question all bands have to suffer through. “Curse the Curse” is brand name rock-n-roll that doesn’t sweat the small stuff and could care less if the devil is in the details. Instead the group flaunts their grungy hard rock sound that reminds one of pre-“Nevermind” Nirvana. Big drums, big guitars, and big bass licks that smack each cheek (face or ass? You guess). The vocals aren’t trying to punish you with rock yelps but instead focuses on being as melodic as the Ramones. Fun high energy focused rock-n-roll in the local area that has a lot of humor and doesn’t take anything too seriously and to be honest shouldn’t be taken very seriously either.
Rick Sell’s The Atlantic Manor continues to pave the way for DIY indie rock. While the band has always and unfortunately flown under the radar, the group always seems to be masterful when it comes to crafting the perfect pop gem. They have never sacrificed sound or quality despite being a self-avowed lo-fi artist. Now on their eleventh album, The Atlantic Manor has turned the page with a focus on surreal and cerebral music. Occasionally gravelly voiced, Sell (ironic last name much?) paints his canvases with self-portraits that are introspective and curious. A bevy of noises and oddities saturate each tune without being distracting, instead ladling up the pop feel and serving it to the folks fortunate enough to stumble upon them. I am gracious that I have had the pleasure to not only review the band but hear such terrifically built albums like “The World Beneath This World Is Brightening”.
Lesson 1 for those of you in unsigned bands hoping to get review coverage and notice in the music industry – first impressions are key. And no I’m not just talking about the fact that the first 30 seconds of your first song should be killer (that’s a no brainer folks) but it’s the little things, like the look-n-feel of your packaging. Some bands subscribe to the notion that they should put airplane size bottles of booze in there (awesome and much appreciated, keep ‘em coming!), others have cute 8×10 press cuts (yawn, please no more brick wall photos, thanks!), and then the inventive take it from the very first look – what and how you pack your music that’s sent via the mail. Get Laid nailed it – excuse the pun. Not only did they use Simpsons stamps, which is universally noted as ‘awesome’ but they put their vinyl in a decorated package. Going that extra mile means the world and shows that you really REALLY want folks to open it up to see what surprises lay inside. “Pretty Weathered” is a female-fronted proto-punk, spazz, and crusty indie rock outfit that deploys intriguing stop-and-go guitar chugs while firmly nodding to their hardcore brethren. “Decca A.D.” is oddly a B-side but could be their lead track. Easily mistaken for D.C. era post-hardcore and dare I say, emocore, Get Laid is one up-and-comer that everyone worth their salt in the music biz and Regular Joes who just want to be in the know for the next best band. Love it.
These are the endearing stories that makes being a music reviewer that much more rewarding. Jon Troast is a paycheck-to-paycheck musician who recently completed a 100 Concerts in 100 Days tour, performing in gracious people’s living rooms. The album is a melting pot of Americana, pop-rock, folk, and indie singer/songwriter fare. Blessed with earnest lyrics with working-collar melodies, Jon Troast’s “Living Room” is a testament that struggling musicians can get by if they try hard enough, self-promote the right way, and frankly get out there and perform in front of people. Oh did I mention he doesn’t plan on charging for his shows in 2010, but just will rely on album sales alone to get by? So what are you waiting for? Help a man out and be rewarded with gift of strong songwriting and the wordplay of a true traveling minstrel.
Watch a video of Jon playing at a barn:
I wish I could have found the cover art for this album somewhere, because on it, Jes Falcon does his best Mick Jagger pouty lip impression and it prepares you for exactly how horrid “Purest Falcon” is. Well I hope the photo that I did find of Jes Falcon does it some amount of justice. Just go to his site for more hilarity and potential mockery. The “singer”/”songwriter” (that’s in heavy, HEAVY quotes) is based out of Amsterdam, I have one wee suggestion for Mr. Falcon – please find the nearest “coffee” shop and do a lot of drugs. I can’t emphasize the importance of this action for the rest of your “career”. And when you think you’re sobering up or gearing up to try to write more music just go back. You need to forget that your music ever existed and was ever written – I know I certainly hope to and quickly. I actually think I need to give my eardrums a bath in alcohol after listening to “Purest Falcon”. Maybe this was his idea of a joke? Now that X-Mas is gone, I’m bummed that I don’t have the opportunity to bestow what would perhaps be the world’s best gag gift onto anyone. Ah well there’s also next year!
Rotten Bark – Chillin’ Out (Teenage Love Story) Part 1
Dear unsigned bands, do NOT ever send your material, unsolicited or otherwise, requiring a signature. That will just piss off whomever is in receipt of your package. And to open it up to find a plea that they need help from people just like myself, is well, hilariously ironic. But despite the aggravation of my mailman giving me warning slip after warning slip regarding signature, I promised to listen with an open-mind. Good thing I did! Polish pop-punk that is in the vein of California sunny pop-punk you’d hear at any mall or skate park. The EP is short at only three-songs but very strong nevertheless, perhaps strong enough to even get them signed to an indie label at some point soon. The single is “Chillin’ Out (Retarded Knight)” and at sub-three minutes is perfect for the attention span deficit mall punk fans out there. The recording is spot-on, sounding extremely professional, and yes they sing in English; also their harmonies are ridiculously catchy with nice foot-stomping rhythms – pretty much everything that a great pop-punk band needs in their favor. Definitely not something incredibly new by any stretch but in this genre, does it really matter?
Listen to their cover of Blink 182’s “First Date” at YouTube. Is it really a surprise that they’d cover Blink 182 (that’s a rhetorical question for those of you sucking down the cough syrup a bit too much these days).
If you’re an avid reader of Smother over the years, you’ll note that one year was spent reviewing a dozen albums by indie alternative rock outfit Moes Haven. Quirky pop tunes that laugh in the face of the serious. Found in the mail package along with the CD was a DVD of their new indie flick, “Monsters, Marriage, and Murder in Manchvegas” – a hilarious b movie set to the tune of horror thriller, peep the trailer here. But back to the music – this is a collection of some of the finest moments of Moes Haven, though why they didn’t include the track that they wrote for me is beyond me! Adventuresome songwriters that have somehow completely scared off that disease known as ‘writer’s block’. Awesome guys, awesome.