Alternative Rock

New album: I Feel Fine || The Cold In Every Shelter

If you sound as classic emo as this, a paradoxal band name can feel strangely comforting. But perhaps I Feel Fine is just a statement to discourage further interrogation – we’ve all been there in the past 18 months. Anyhow, Brighton (UK) based I Feel Fine’s debut full-length The Cold In Every Shelter is a generous release. This is not a throwaway collection of songs that were quickly recorded over the weekend. No, here is a band that clearly spend a lot of time refining their songs, adding elements and cool instrumentation. It makes for a record that reveals new parts to enjoy with each listen.

Admittedly, I dismissed the record after a quick first scan, but fortunately my fellow ATW blogger Dennis made me revisit the record. The Cold In Every Shelter is the kind of record where the rewards depend on the time and attention you are willing to spend on it. And once you do, you cherish the escapism it provides. The cathartic group vocals obviously stand out (not all vocals on the record are the full band singing their hearts out, yet it does feel that way), and the tasteful instrumentation provide such a tasteful backdrop. The Cold In Every Shelter is a soothing record that prepares you for the colder, wetter and darker seasons. And, dare I say it, you don’t need to be into emo to enjoy this record. RIYL: The World Is Beautiful And I Am Not Afraid To Die, The Hotelier, Hostage Calm. Oh, and make sure to watch I Feel Fine’s video for Selfsame, it may be the best looking video I’ve seen all year.

The Cold In Every Shelter is out now through Venn Records (UK), Smithsfoodgroup DIY (Netherlands), Friend Of Mine (Japan), Pundonor Records (Spain), Refresh Records (United States), Midsummer Records (Germany), and K-Nardage Asso (France).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Divine Horsemen || Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix

On their 1981 album A Minute To Pray A Second To Die, The Flesh Eaters sang about Divine Horsemen (“Their hearts are in the right place // Right in the palm of my hand”). After disbanding his band a few years later, Chris Desjardins (a.k.a. Chris D.) continued with Julie Christensen on a new punk / folk project, which took its name from this song. In 1988, after a few LPs, Divine Horsemen ceased to exist, but the two L.A. musicians remained in touch, and after 33 years (and The Flesh Eaters’ recent reunion) they now have even released a collection of all-new recordings. It was worth the wait. For their new full-length Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix, the singers reunited with onetime Divine Horsemen guitarist Peter Andrus and bassist Robyn Jameson (he tragically died following a street assault, after which his spot was taken over by Bobby Permanent), and in addition drummer DJ Bonebrake (X) and keyboardist Doug Lacy were recruited. The record contains original songs, influenced by European folk, Spanish flamenco, and murder ballads, but also a number of covers, such as the beautiful track Any Day Now by Tim Lee and Susan Bauer Lee (Tim Lee 3), and 25th Floor by Patti Smith and Ivan Kral. This is fine fine folk rock, where the distinctive vocals form a fascinating combination, and the experienced musicians understand how to give a song power and emotion at the same time. RIYL Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Scientists, The Dream Syndicate, The Wave Pictures.

Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through In The Red Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || In The Red

New album: Pist Idiots || Idiocracy

I was quite infatuated with Pist Idiots 2019 Ticker EP (how good is Roundhouse?!), and I am happy the band’s highly anticipated debut full length Idiocracy is finally here. And (spoiler!), the record instantly won me over. Idiocracy sounds like the logical next step for the band. Pist Idiots may sound more nuanced and polished on Idiocracy but they don’t give up any of the intangibles that worked on their previous material. Here’s a band that knows how to find the sweet spot between aggression and melody. Pist Idiot’s brand of indie rock’n’roll is gritty, vibrant and full of swagger, and even the lower paced songs (such as album standouts She Yells Jack, Juliette) feel alive and kicking. The choruses of the band, frequently accompanied with memorable lines (“She’s got a new haircut, I wonder if she’s got that old boyfriend”), hook their way in your brain.

Apparently, Pist Idiots are already quite popular in their home country (Australia). With the sheer power of Idiocracy, I can see their succes spread globally. Yeah, I need this in my collection, and hopefully affordable copies will soon turn up here in Europe.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Sweet Crisis || Tricks On My Mind

To be honest, after listening to Sweet Crisis‘ full-length debut album Tricks On My Mind when it came out on a packed release day last month, I put it aside. It simply didn’t click with me enough to pay more attention to it, to add it to my want list, to write about it. For some reason the record blasted out of my speakers again this week, and now it did hit me. Strange how that works, but I think the band understands it, because their lyrics for standout track Ain’t Got Soul (video below) is consistent with this: “Rollin’ around, looking for the next big thing // Taking my time , to listen to everything // Then comes a new face, searching for a quick glimpse of fame // The radios drowned, playing the same old thing, over and over and over again.” I now realize that these new faces – Leo Robarts (vocals), Piers Mortimer (guitar), Matt Dudurym (bass), Dom Briggs-Fish (keyboards), and Joe Taylor (drums) – may soon no longer be able to go out on the street without sunglasses and a cap.

Sweet Crisis are a soulful blues rock band from the UK, with an “American” sound that is most reminiscent of the later own work of The Black Keys (also: a mix of Free, Donny Hathaway, and Led Zeppelin). They themselves cite classic rock and soul music of the 70’s as their main influences (they previously did a creditable cover version of Oh Well, in tribute to the late guitar legend Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac), but although they stay true to that quality, their energetic, powerful songs fit very well in 2021. Give it a listen, and if it doesn’t catch on right away, try again later.

“If it ain’t got soul, I don’t want to know, don’t want to know // If it ain’t got soul, I don’t want to know, I just don’t want to know”

Tricks On My Mind is out now on vinyl LP through Headline Records. Add to wantlist: Discogs

New post: The Hornets || Heavier Than A Stone

In 2016, Italian friends Stefano Francia (guitar / vocals), Alberto Francia (bass / vocals), Giovanni Artioli (guitar / vocals), Andrea Rovituso (drums) formed The Hornets, from a shared love for rock ‘n’ roll, and to justify the purchase of a 1988 Chevrolet Van. Although their playing together was initially just for fun, they spent many hours behind their instruments before releasing their full-length debut album Heavier Than A Stone this summer. It was worth the effort, it was worth the wait. Influenced by 70’s classic rock and 80’s hard rock, to which they add touches of blues, garage, glam, and psych, they stand on the shoulders of Thin Lizzy. Heavy guitar riffs, great hooks, choruses to roar along with your fist in the air – nine strong new songs for those who love rock ‘n’ roll too.

Stream the full album below.

Out digitally and on vinyl LP through Go Down Records.  Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Dazy || MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD: The First 24 Songs

Be careful what you wish for. Earlier this year, I wrote about Dazy. I mentioned how I hoped James Goodson, who is the artist/music publicist/podcast host behind this one-man band, would someday release his best work on a LP. There is no LP yet, but we do get a digital/cassette compilation of all of the songs Dazy has recorded so far, including three new songs. And that’s a lot: MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD has 24 tracks of hook filled fuzzy ’90s alt pop. What stands out even more than the quantity of Dazy’s output is its consistent quality. Good luck in finding a filler track among these songs. Don’t just take my word for it, here are some blurbs from Bandcamp supporters that I fully agree with:
“It’s brand new music that makes me nostalgic. That’s why we listen, isn’t it?” (Foobella)
“It’s like someone passed the 90s through a filter so only the best bits were left: fuzzy guitars and massive hooks.” (Mark Grassick)
“We are witnessing the beginning of something truly great.” (Captain_Codeine)

MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD is out now on cassette at Convulse Records in a limited run of 50, which of course is already sold out. Fingers crossed that this gets pressed on vinyl eventually.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Cruzados || She’s Automatic!

American rock band Cruzados released their self-titled debut album in 1985 and their second LP After Dark in 1987, scoring hits like Motorcycle Girl and Bed of Lies. Some 30 years after their breakup in 1990, their co-founder bassist/songwriter Tony Marsico brings back Cruzados, with a new lineup featuring vocalist Ron Young, guitarist Loren Molinare, guitarist Mark Tremalgia and drummer Rob Klonel. They even have a third album out: She’s Automatic! is a collection of 11 new original songs, dedicated to the memory of fallen Cruzados members Chalo “Charlie” Quintana, and Marshall Rohner. Older and wiser, but just as enthusiastic as in the good old days. This is bluesy rock ‘n’ roll with gritty vocals, hard-hitting drums and heavy guitar riffs, which radiate the joy of playing.

Out now on CD and vinyl LP through Scamco Records. Add to wantlist: Cruzaodos || Discogs

New album: Grady Strange || Getting Stranger

Grady Strange (Grady Wenrich) began writing and recording his own music after discovering a 4-track recorder that once belonged to CBGB’s Hilly Kristal at a garage sale in Asbury Park. At the time he lived in New Jersey, now in Los Angeles, with his partner and frequent collaborator, Mackenzie Howe (she also makes great music herself, under the moniker of Pet Dress), and their dog named Dolly Parton.

Getting Stranger is Grady’s full-length debut album, featuring ten intense slacker rock ‘n’ roll songs filled with big hooks, and whirling guitars, a DIY project recorded on that legendary 4-track (Howe provided sax and backup vocals). Previous hit single I Listen to Your Radio Show at Night is missing, but the new tracks are just as much fun. Compelling melodies, surprising tempo and instrument changes, keen lyrics about life, death, love, and hate (“I’m a part of everything and I am nothing // Everything means nothing when you are everything” – from She Found the Way), vocals that enhance the feeling of courage to be free in the moment – heavy and light at the same time. Strange is good, I really love this record. RIYL Kurt Vile, JEFF The Brotherhood, Bass Drum Of Death.

Stream the full album below.

Getting Stranger is out now digitally, on cassette and vinyl LP through Perpetual Doom.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Perpetual Doom

New album: Acid Dad || Take It From The Dead

In 2018, American alternative rock band Acid Dad released their self-titled debut album, a record I really liked when it came out. In the meantime, the band has been building a new studio space and vision, and now here’s their second LP, Take It From The Dead. To be honest, it took me a while to appreciate the new songs, but they got under my skin and now I can’t live without them. With influences ranging from 90’s neo-psych, modern post-punk, shoegaze and 70’s rock-n-roll, Acid Dad has crafted an album that’s dreamy, colorful, hypnotic and addictive. Give this record some time to mature, it’s worth it.

Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Greenway Records and Levitations’s label The Reverberation Appreciation Society.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Fantastic Cat || Fiona

To the huge roster of good songs with girls’ names in the title – Allison, Angie, Barbara Ann, Beth, Sweet Caroline, Debra, Gloria, Iris, Jolene, Lola, Long Tall Sally, Darling Nikki, Mandy, My Michelle, Peggy Sue, Proud Mary, Rosalita, My Sharona, Valerie, and so on and on – New York four-piece Fantastic Cat now adds a really nice one. All women named Fiona can dream away for a moment that it is being sung to them: “I’m gonna miss you until I’m with you again” (watch the lyric video below or click here for the live version). This is the great alt-country / folk-rock debut single from this new supergroup, made up of critically acclaimed NYC songwriters Brian Dunne, Anthony D’Amato, Don DiLego, and Mike Montali (there‘s a Spotify playlist with their solo work). After this first single, an album by the four instrument-swapping and harmony-trading friends is also on the way. The Very Best Of Fantastic Cat reportedly mixes electrified 60’s folk and 70’s AM radio gold with 80’s heartland rock and 90’s alt-country. One to look forward to!

Out now digitally and on a limited edition 7″ vinyl EP through Velvet Elk Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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