Latimer House – “Birdcage Walk / Until Then”

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The Fall is always my favorite time to discover new music. Perhaps it has something to do with the relaxing feel of the cooler weather, but it seems to get me excited for new music and new bands. Recently I have been falling for the indie pop sounds of Latimer House. The group have just released a phenomenal 7-inch single for “Birdcage Walk,” with the b-side “Until Then,” which you can purchase on translucent  red vinyl. 

Upon first listen to “Birdcage Walk,” I was already head over heels. Singer Joe Cook’s Prague accent is very prominent, which is a nice departure from the norm. They remind me of a foreign Bishop Allen, which I adore. The guitar hooks are vibrant and memorable and the mandolin makes a perfect add-on in the song. Getting into the b-side “Until Then,” Latimer House provides a bit of a different approach, with punchy guitars and a few sing-talk lines. Making its way into the track is a slight horn section, that gives the song an extra ‘oomph,’ so to speak. The song’s sonically alluring tones are definitely an added bonus.

Latimer House have recently released their new record, All the Rage, via their own label Honk Records. Be sure to check out the Summery / Strokes-esque track “Splash!,” as well when you head over. Chiming guitars and heavenly harmonies. What more can you ask for? It is well worth the listen!Check out Latimer House “Birdcage Walk,” HERE.

Check out Latimer House “Until Then,” HERE.
 
Grab the latest record, All the Rage, via Bandcamp

QVALIA Releases “This Is The Color Of My Dreams”

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Immediately drawn in by the name, meet QVALIA. Newcomers to the New York scene, the group formed in 2014, and have just released their debut album, This Is The Color Of My Dreams, earlier this week. My ears were certainly pleased, that’s for sure. 7-tracks fill the record, and my only regret is that there aren’t more songs…just yet at least.

Invoking a bit of CHVRCHES flare, QVALIA sure does deliver. The catchy and brilliant piece “Sound the Alarm,” kick off the record with a powerful force of synths, pianos, and ASTONISHING vocal work from singer Michael Hazani. Tracks such as  “Breach,” offer a new twist on a nostalgic 80s sound. The musicianship seems extremely smooth and appears to come naturally to the band.

“Stardust,” takes the record down with darker undertones which are wrapped in the arms of sugary harmonies and heart-wrenching vocals. “I Won’t Let Go,” brings the dance party back into full force, which is a track I have been blaring endlessly from my stereo speakers. The instrumentation is stunning on every level and it is almost hard to believe the band have only just begun.  This is the work of seasoned musicians. “The Feel of Not to Feel It,” and “White Bones” evoke the sounds of the 80s without hesitation as it recalls powerhouse synths that are prominent and unforgettable. Closing out the record is “150,” a slow and heartfelt way to end the collection of songs. Check out QVALIA’s This Is The Color Of My Dreams, as it will not disappoint.

 

Grab the album on Bandcamp HERE

Watch the album trailer HERE.

Introducing: Rival Empire

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Recently I have discovered a stellar group hailing from Chicago, IL by the name of Rival Empire.  Creating a synth-pop meets indie rock meets electro dance sound all of their own, the group takes a page from such bands as Cut Copy, The Killers and Friendly Fires, with a dab of Duran Duran to boot. Rival Empire have recently released their video for “Reagan’s Rancho Del Cielo” which had me immediately hooked and ready to dive into the recent self-titled full length.

On Rival Empire, the record features 13 electrifying tracks that subtly blend genres, to create a dance party on its own terms. The record opener “Cameo Crush,” stopped me dead in my tracks. The vibrancy of guitars and synths that blend are surrounded by singer Steve Rivera’s smooth and prominent vocals. Songs like “Casio Crush,” which bursts with modern sounds and 80’s nostalgia respectively, helps set the tone for the record.

An immediate stand out song and favorite proves to be “Calling Me,” which takes the record to a whole new level. The dreamy vocal combinations with slight harmonies are heavenly and is laced with melodic hooks. Songs like “Good Love,” “Tidal Wave,” and “Open Fire,” add a deeper, darker element to the album, while  “Reagan’s Rancho Del Cielo,” and “High Fashion,” take you on wild musical journey. “Call the Adapter,” and  “Paybacks a B___h” adds a funkier element into the album, making a nice transition in to blending genres. Something that Rival Empire does flawlessly. “Calling Me (Orchestral Remix)” closes out the record, making Rival Empire, an album to remember for 2014.

Grab the album on BANDCAMP

Check out the video for “Reagan’s Rancho Del Cielo” HERE.

Album Review – Voxmirage

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Voxmirage is the group you have been looking for. Recently releasing their debut album on July 15, the duo are about to take the world by storm. The self-titled record is filled with 13 glorious tracks that recall new wave influences such as Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode. Made up of members Mike Streng (Vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards), and Aaron Nicholes (Drums, Keyboards, programming, backing vocals and bass), they create quite a unique and brilliant sound. The record is also stunningly mixed and produced by Ken Stingfellow of  The Posies and R.E.M. respectively., and mastered at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London.

Kicking off the record is a short, sweet, and synth filled song that is simply titled “Intro.” This piece immediately sets the tone for the record. “All I Want Is You,” combines lush harmonies and dark sounds alongside a swirling bed of synthesizers and guitars. Streng’s vocals start to standout immediately, which carries throughout the entire record. His voice is very powerful, and evokes great emotion on the set on of songs.

“I Can’t Take It Anymore Than This,” continues the greatness of the record, with honest and heartfelt lyrics. Streng’s vocals are soft yet pierce your very soul. Streng’s vocals are dreamy and haunting all at once. Taking the record down a notch is “Hold On,” which showcases the softer and gentler side of the band. Laced with synthesized strings, the vocals chime in to launch a whole new musical aspect of the record. “Never Go Away,” shares a bit of a 90’s retro feel, in a flattering way. The vibrant and danceable aspect of the track is brought to life with lovely twee-like harmonies and punchy acoustic guitars.

“She’s Going Away,” brings a darker synth sound into the album, with a bit of welcomed industrial flare. The tracks on this record quickly prove that Voxmirage are not only skilled, but can bend and combine genres without flaw. “Want Me Too,” and “Just a Fool,” the latter featuring backing vocals by Ken Stringfellow, displays the group’s softer and subdued side on the record. Again the harmonies grace these tracks, which made them an immediate favorite for me. “Just for Tonight,” adds a whole new element into the record with engaging vocals, and an array of instruments welcoming even the slightest trumpet. “On I Go With You,” brings out another beautiful side of this record, as Streng’s vocals are heavenly.

 Bringing back the dance aspect of the record with a punch is “Favorite Son.” Flooded with enchanting synths, this piece will surely get you onto the dance floor and it clearly showcases the group’s knack for writing a great pop-esque song. Up next is “Go Insane,” which is Voxmirage’s take on Lindsey Buckingham’s classic song, which somehow manages to upstage the original with their incredible rendition. It brings all of their musical talents into the spotlight. Closing out the record is “I Know What Scares You.” The piece brings together various different elements we found throughout the record, bringing everything to fruition.

Voxmirage’s Voxmirage is a brilliant debut album that will certainly launch the duo into the spotlight. With heavy hitting and memorable tracks, each piece on the record somehow manages to outdo the other. Hopefully we hear a lot more of Voxmirage in the future. This is only the beginning….and the beginning is great.

 

Stephan Nance Surprises with “A Troubled Piece of Fruit”

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Stephan Nance is an extremely unique breath of fresh air. Only 10 seconds into his debut release, A Troubled Piece of Fruit, you will find yourself immediately hooked. One of Oregon’s greatest kept secrets, Nance blends the perfect element of charming pianos and a voice that can truly stand on it’s own. Stephan could very well be the lovechild of Jukebox the Ghost and The Decemberists, which is truly a compliment.

Opening the album is the intriguing piece “I Am Not a Stranger Here,” where a jaunty piano perfectly meet melodies combined with Nance’s quirky yet sugary pop voice. The listener will already believe that they are in for something special…and they are. “Cuddlefish,” proves to be a cute love song with the ocean as it’s playground, using different fish as imagery as he pulls in his catch.

The album takes a melancholic turn as the track “Spring,” enters into the picture. The heartbreaking song is gorgeously done and will pull on your heartstrings immediately. As soft strings enter into the piece one can really feel the emotion in Nance’s voice. The love song journeys through time as “Fall” is the next masterpiece on the record. Not as gloomy as the prior, the subject matter is deep as it is full of regrets and a pass that he wishes he can do over. This song speaks to masses as we all have done things we wish we could change in life.

Firecracker,” picks the pace back up with a prominent guitar which borders on the blues. Nance’s bright piano and harmonious voice enters with a burst of energy, and ends up being a fun play on words throughout. “Made in Vermont,” chimes in with a lovely horn section, as Nance’s voice proves to be beyond infectious in this song.

Paid By Weight,” starts off heavy and continues throughout, as each note of the piano is felt within, every thump of the drum’s foot pedal sends a shiver down your spine, and every pronunciation of each word lingers on Nance’s tongue. Up next is the catchy tune titled “Immunodeficiency,” which will have you pressing the repeat button more often than not. “The Song I Didn’t Write,” has the quality of a seasoned songwriter, which is very prominent throughout the entire record. One would find it hard to believe that this is Stephan’s first release. Each track is carefully crafted and meticulously thought out, and it shines throughout.

One-Way Sea,” is a fun tune that is reminiscent of Jamie Cullum, without the jazz, which is beyond ideal if you ask me. Nance’s voice knows it’s limits and he uses it wisely, as it flawlessly fits the piece. “Resurrection,” is a personal favorite on the album, as the choppiness of pianos and guitar, and even vocals at time, are contagious. His vocals standout more so in this track that any other, as he seems to have a bit of fun with them. Thisimpressive piece proves to be a show stopper, as does the following “Japanese Garden/Jardin Japonais,” The song tells an interesting tale about what appears to be a dream of Japan, with an amazing twist, as Nance starts to sing in French! The surprise is exquisite as it appears more than once in this outstanding track and is guaranteed to send chills in your veins.

Closing out the album is the viral sensation, “Song for Losers,” which is the most adorable geeky song that you will ever hear. The track will have you dancing around your room, brush-microphone in hand. This can be the national anthem of geeks everywhere, and it will make them stand up and be proud. This is the perfect end to the record, which I wish would never end.

Stephan Nance is destined to go far with a Trouble Piece of Fruit, as it is a brilliant introduction to this astounding singer and songwriter. Keep an ear out for Stephan Nance. It will be a name that will be making waves very soon, if it hasn’t already by the time that you read this. I urge you to check out this record, as it will change everything that you know about modern music; and that’s a good thing.

R.I.Y.L. : Jukebox the Ghost, The Decemberists

Listen: Stephan Nance Bandcamp

Get Ready to “Take Off” with GAMBIT – Opens for VHS or Beta – 5/17/12 @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC

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Gambit is the brainchild of Lyle Kamesaki, a name that you will soon remember in a matter of one single listen to his flawless album, Take Off and Landing. Already selling out high profile venues

such as the Mercury Lounge and Webster Hall (with Hot Chellae Rae) this year and last, Gambit is literally ready to take off. Graduating from Harvard in 2004 the wiz kid started work at a capitalist real estate firm. Though six-figures and a beach house on Long Island had him living comfortably to say the least, life was not exciting enough for the young Gambit as he took to music; what he says is his “true calling.” Eager to learn how to make himself a great musician, Gambit succeed, and succeeded fast. Learning how to write, play and record, Kameaski will fool even the seasoned of music industry veterans as what you are about to experience is a sound and quality of a musician wise beyond his years. Take Off and Landing took a long three years to complete as Gambit wrote and recorded during his free time after work and into the early hours of the morning. A documentary of a true artist’s struggle with not only life, but perhaps his feelings as well, comes to life in this gorgeous ten song album.

Opening the album is the infectious track “This Town,” which is already a great taste of what is to come. Gambits gorgeous and catchy voice, heavy but bright guitars and unforgettable drum beats takes you on a ride. “Maybe,” is right behind with dreamy pop vocals and charming hand claps. “Wake up and run like hell,” seems to be a bit autobiographical for Gambit, as his honesty begins to shine through the record. Male harmonies accompany his sultry vocals, which blend with fuzzy synths, creating a wall of sound like no other.

A church organ brings in “All the Time in the World,” a charming love story of a boy to New York and to a what may appear to be the love of his life. One of the most beautiful elements of this album is the stories that Gambit tells. Every piece is a new chapter in the record which truly comes from his heart. The listener can automatically tell that he has poured every bit of himself into every song, without doubt.

Strong female vocals chime in for “Lovers in the Basement,” which is a nice surprise that adds an added energy to the album. While the track seems to blend a burst of pop, things turn a full 180-degrees with the gorgeous and string-filled “I’m Sorry,” that takes the listener on a tearful journey.

“Change in the Feel,” lifts the record up again, with it’s dark overtones, slight and bright piano, and Gambit’s echoing vocals. “Things Aren’t So Bad,” is a catchy tune that will have your ass up in dancing in no time. Perfect for a house party, or the Bowery Ballroom. “Ask Yourself,” proves to be your ideal Friday night music. The trance beat and harmonious vocals blend to create your new favorite song for sure. “My, My, My,” is a bit reminiscent of electro pop act VHS or Beta, Gambit’s dreamy synths and harmonic overtones, are surrounded by his lustful voice. With a slight hint of female vocals from behind, the listener will be in awe of what is offered. Closing out the album is “Alibi,” a haunting piece that can sum up this incredible record. Truthful, beautiful and game changing.

For lucky fans in New York, you can see Gambit take the stage at the Bowery Ballroom on May 17th opening for the legendary VHS or Beta. Take Off and Landing is a stunning record that will leave you craving more of what Gambit has to offer. Mark my word, by the end of 2012, Gambit will be a name that everyone will know. Here’s to honest, heartfelt music and an album well done. Get ready to take flight with Gambit.