Alternative Rock

Gimme 5! Marc Ribler (Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul) Shares 5 Records That Influenced His Upcoming Record The Whole World Awaits You

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

I started reading Twilight Of The Gods this week, a book in which Steven Hyden explores the past, present and future of classic rock. Early in the book, Hyden calls classic rock a finite resource: “One day, it will disappear. Bands break up. Albums go unplayed and are eventually forgotten. Legends die.” Hyden has a point of course. Time does not stand still, albums are losing out to playlists, fewer and fewer bands sell out stadiums and it’s unlikely that current and future rock bands will come anywhere close to the lasting cultural impact of the classic bands from the ’60s and ’70s. But is that necessarily a bad thing? They’ve been saying that punk is dead since the late seventies, but to agree with that statement you essentially admit that you haven’t been paying attention. Ultimately,  there will always be musicians that will carry the torch of guitar music into familiar and unfamiliar territory. Which brings us to this week’s Gimme 5! which features an artist whose music celebrates the power of classic rock and soul.

Marc Ribler is a musician and producer who in recent years has been Steven Van Zandt’s right hand man in The Disciples Of Soul. Ribler also shared the stage with many Hall-Of-famers including Carole King, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Darlene Love, and Paul McCartney. On July 9th, Ribler will release a new solo record called The Whole World Awaits You (pre-order here). Busy as Ribler is with producing, performing and writing songs and jingles for others, it is a record that’s been long in the making – some of the songs were written as early as 2005. Little Steven became excited after hearing some of the early mixes and offered to co-produce the record and release it on his label Wicked Cool Records. Based on the early singles, it’s easy to see why: Shattered and Who Could Ask For More (watch the video here) are excellent throwbacks to the heyday of rock and soul, and both songs were picked as ‘coolest song in the world’ at the Underground Garage radio station. Not only that, these songs make my speakers sound better than ever – this is some well produced, mixed and mastered music. Below Marc Ribler shares five classic albums that he drew influence from in writing the songs for The Whole World Awaits You. Enjoy reading and listening!  [post continues below]

New album: Nevasca || Горки (Slides)

There was a time when you could pinpoint a specific style of music to a specific time and place. Nowadays, we live in a world that is so globalized that musical influences spread just as easily as a virus. So perhaps, I shouldn’t be surprised to hear Nevasca, a band from Northeastern Russia (St.  Petersburg), sound like an  authentic mid-to-late nineties emo band from the US midwest. Clearly, Nevasca have been living on a steady diet of Christie Front Drive, Mineral, American Football and Jimmy Eat World, and to be honest, there are worse proteins to use as building blocks of your own sound. The lyrics look like insane math equations to me, but I am really enjoying the music thus far. Definitely worth checking out.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Empty Head || Empty Head

Last month, Belgian alternative rock band Empty Head caught our attention with an awesome animated video directed by punk ‘n’ roll artist King Rat (Gilles Deschamps) for their single Cosmic Rave. That’s one of the all equally good four tracks on their self-produced and self-titled debut EP, released today. The music of the five long-time friends is inspired by the (anti-)heroes from the 90’s and their “Under The Influence” playlist features bands like All Them Witches, Viagra Boys, Idles, and Triggerfinger. So you know what you can do expect. These are powerful songs with tempo changes, raging guitar riffs, haunting melodies, and dark, philosophical lyrics. Watch and listen below.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Astro Chicken || Different Town

New Yorkers Barney Miller and his good friend John Laprade are both singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist and as Astro Chicken they released their new album Different Town this week, digitally and on vinyl LP via DETOX Recordings. They deserve a podium just for their optimistic song Good Times Are Coming. Barney explains: “As Beatle George said, ‘All Things Must Pass’. It’s a sentiment that helped get me though the past year. It’s gotten me through personal issues. Family, work. Almost anything. The fact is that whatever bad is happening in your life or in the world, it will not last.” You can see this record as a settlement with the dark year we all just lived through. Fortunately: “Nothing lasts forever, but love comes close.” And: “I still got you, and I’m still here too.” So many beautiful lyrics and strong songs on this poppy, accessible rock album. As long as this kind of good music is being made, there is hope.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Licking Rainbows || burp.

You know, there is an incredible amount of new music coming out all the time. And if something is really great, we actually want it in our collection. That is also the idea of this blog: sharing the records that are “wantlist worthy” and linking to where you can buy them. Normally we only write about “available” releases, but sometimes there are exceptions to that rule, simply because the songs are too cool to hide in a hard-to-find corner on the internet. A good example of this is burp., the debut EP by Swiss power trio Licking Rainbows (Livio Arcuri on bass / vocals), Kilian Zompa on guitar, and Tim Poggi on drums). These first 4 original tracks – the result of a year of creation, dedication and collaboration – are influenced by the 60’s sound of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Cream, to which is added a bit of modern energy. The band told me that a physical release is unfortunately not planned. So this is one you can’t buy but really should listen to; watch the video below for standout tune I Don’t Lie or check out the full EP on YouTube or Spotify.

New EP: Minus Hero || Songs About Leaving

Minus Hero are from Italy (w/ members Nofu, Twister, Bravo, Nappies, Daire, Think About), but they sound like an obscure ’90s US bands in the vein of Superchunk, Archers Of Loaf and Knapsack. Their new 10″ EP is part of the Blue Feelings collection of Flamingo Records. It’s called Songs About Leaving and the four songs on it deal with “melancholy, disappointment and alienation.” The record is far from a dread though. Minus Hero sounds inspired and heartfelt on the EP. It’s perfect music for a grey day.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Danny Carney Chainsaw Symphony || Blizzard of ’82

I was unaware of Blizzard of ’82 until a recent Instagram endorsement by Stateline Records pointed in its direction. It’s the solo debut of Danny Carney, who used to play in Roll The Tanks, but now operates under the moniker Danny Carney Chainsaw Symphony. Hard not to be intrigued by that name, and the same applies to his music. Press play on opening track Maraschino University and you’ll discover that this is not your average record. That song stays under 3 minutes, but it is layered and catchy despite its lack of a clear chorus. It even has a intense sax solo. And that’s just the first song. The second song (VCR) does have a clear chorus that is massive  and absolutely pop oriented, but the song also have the feel of a punkrock tune. Track 3 Glomar Blues somehow moves into ’80s hardrock territory, not unlike the direction A.F.I. took  mid-career. I could go on, but the surprises keep coming and I am not sure if I have the words to explain the sound of Danny Carney Chainsaw Symphony – nor do I want to spoil the record. It’s definitely indie rock, but it very much is its own thing. It’s diverse and eclectic but not incoherent. It’s loaded with hooks. It’s an exiting record to dive into and explore in full. Basically, I have no idea what Danny Carney is up to, but it works and I want more.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Danny Carney Chainsaw Symphony

New album: The Spaghetti Stains || Essential Ingredients

Last year, The Spaghetti Stains won a Level Up Grant from Triple J Unearthed. That money went into recording their self-released debut Essential Ingredients. The band members (Pantjiti, Emmah and Rose) grew up in GunaiKurnai Country (Gippsland), which (I Googled) is a gorgeous little region on the south-eastern coast of Australia. It’s easy to see a direct relation between that location and the sound of the band. Let’s call it surfy altrock, with straight up bangers alternating slower moody tracks. On their best tracks (No Wuckin’ Fay, Toast To The Coast, Caveman Diet), The Spaghetti Stains approach the level of acts like The Beths, Alex Lahey and Best Coast, and I have a sense The Spaghetti Stains are only going to get better. They have good taste as well, as illustrated in this entertaining 7 hour playlist of their musical influences on Spotify .

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Spud Cannon Shares 5 Albums That Influenced Good Kids Make Bad Apples

Spud Cannon photo by Juan C Quimper

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

This week’s Gimme 5! is a full band effort by Spud Cannon from Poughkeepsie (NY), who will release their third album on June 25th on Good Eye Records. That record is called Good Kids Make Bad Apples and has quite the backstory. It was recorded in 2019, with the band close to calling it quits due to internal struggles.  At a late minute surprise show, the band serendipitously discovered the perfect location to record their third album: The Vassar College (NY) campus squash courts. And so they did, sneakily entering the courts after midnight, setting up their gear and recording their own wall of sound until 6 AM, before anyone could find out about their endeavours – check out the band’s Instagram for background footage of these late night shenanigans.

Fast forward two years, and we finally are able to hear the results. My early thoughts: 1) despite internal band struggles, this very much sounds like a team effort and like the band actually had a lot of fun recording these songs, 2) The squash court as a recording studio…actually  works? Good Kids Make Bad Apples sounds huge, and has a roomy feel to it. The band wanted to approach the sound and energy of their live shows. I haven’t seen the band live, but that raw energy and authenticity is definitely there. The record does not feel overproduced in any way, and yet it is very much a pop record. The band credits Chris Connors at Concrete Sound for his great work mixing and polishing the songs which were all recorded in one take as a full band. That is, the band allowed no editing, so they played a song until they were happy with the take and moved on to the next. Some songs took time. To the band’s estimate they had to play album standout Juno 70 (!) times before being satisfied with the result. And yet, despite the sleepless nights on the squash courts, none of these songs sound tiresome: Good Kids Make Bad Apples is high on energetic and celebratory indiepop’n’roll with plenty of bite. Get a taste of the record with early singles Supersonic and Juno. Pre-orders for the record are up now (on red apple red naturally) at Good Eye Records or on Bandcamp[continues below]

New album: Harker || Axiom

Upon listening to Axiom, I had to revisit Harker’s previous record No Discordance to check if I misremembered the band’s sound. But no, Axiom is quite the sonic leap from No Discordance. What I loved about No Discordance was its heartfelled nature and how the band made up what it may lack in originality (to be honest, a superfluous quality to judge punkrock by) with top notch songwriting and execution. Axiom is a different beast, with the band expanding their sound in every direction. It’s more rock-oriented, it’s more varied, more dynamic. It manifests a band full of ambition and willing to challenge themselves. What particularly stands out on Axiom is the vocals. Harker already had a great singer in Mark Boniface, but on the new record  the harmonies with the rest of the band are a thing to behold – listen to Sigh Of Crows. On Axiom, Harker swims upstream, not sure where it will take them, and I’m curious to see how this record will be received by fans of their previous work – if reluctant, they should at the very least enjoy HellionFlex Yr Head and No Sun, three songs that in terms of that old school Harker sound are among the best they’ve recorded. I for one am rooting for the band to be rewarded for their effort. Axiom is out now through  Disconnect Disconnect Records (UK), Shield Recordings (Netherlands), Wiretap Records  (US) and Fixing A Hole Records (Japan).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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