Single Review: “The Last American Virgin”

“The Last American Virgin” is the latest single from KATZ, a trio from Manchester, UK, self-released this New Year’s Day, as the first single of their upcoming EP to be released on February 3rd.

The band consists of Ben Williams on vocals and guitar, James Bradbury on lead guitar and bass, and Archie Wilkinson on drums.

The track is a bittersweet tale of lovesickness, inspired by the film of the same name, with an energetic mixture of surf-rock, indie pop and, punk, proudly DIY and Lo-Fi, as it was recorded “in an attic bedroom of a shared student house” according to the band, directly into cassette on a TASCAM 244, the venerated 4-track portastudio.

KATZ – fLTR: James Bradbury, Ben Williams, Archie Wilkinson.

It starts with a frantic guitar strumming of 2 chords for a short while, an almost metronomic drum joins in, then the first verse comes, summing up the song for us:

Dreaming of her

Wishing I could be with her

She sees other guys

Wish I could make her mine

The pace of the song is energetic, the urgency emanating from it is nothing short of infectious, standing in sharp contrast with the melancholy and disillusionment found in lyrics, like the chorus:

Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m not your type
why’d you have to tell me you’re mine
Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m not your type
why’d you have to feed me these lies

Towards the end of the song, the drums play a machine-like staccato and Ben lets out a wistful falsetto, almost like a lament, before ending the track with a final chorus.

The end result is a lively tune, a song that contains elements of a potential classic: a universal pop song theme, a relentless tempo, and tight musicians whose sound seems embarked on a mission, we won’t hear the last of them for sure.

Single Premiere: “Well Understood”

“Well Understood” is the latest single from Superflaw, the side project of Anthony Cunard, lead vocalist of Blanky, collaborating with Edward Madill from the band WYLA and Daniel Ryan, released Today January 25th as the last single from their upcoming album “Fictitious”, to be released this January 29th on Manor Records.

The track is a dirty slow waltz with a heavy bluesy edge, guitars take center stage and keep elbowing even while it’s Anthony’s turn to show up and share with us a cautionary tale of longing for the wrong person, almost as he’s headed into a deliberate car crash and he makes his best effort to keep his eyes open, as he sings in a raw, visceral howl:

and I tried so hard to avoid dependence throughout my childhood.
but I’m here with you now always up to no good.

Anthony delivers the lines in a somewhat drifting fashion, showing little regard for lyrical structure, giving the tune a stream-of-consciousness feel, as if he’s exposing an inner dialogue with us, the listeners:

and I tried so hard to show you that I could be anything you wanted.
but I’m here with you now and it’s well understood that we’ll be more later if were less in the meantime.

Superflaw – fLTR: Anthony Cunnard, Daniel Ryan, Edward Madill

In conclusion, the single is a wicked yet alluring slowcore ballad, the raw emotion overflowing from the murky guitars and vocals have a strange charm in their special, untidy way, and hard as we might try, we cannot help but keep coming back for more of this.

Single Review: “Keepsake”

“Keepsake” is the latest single from Permanent Vacation, the British/American acoustic duo based in Rome, self-released this January 20th, and it’s the last single out of their debut album, to be released this march on the Z Tapes label.

The track is another example of their characteristic blend of indie-pop and low-key folk, slow guitar arpeggios greet us politely, and a soft voice shares with us a melancholic lamentation:

Tell me you miss me and I’ll see you soon

Tracing your veins in the black of a room 

Taking up spaces wherever you move 

Fighting off this deep and terrible gloom

It’s a tale where the empty spaces take too much room to cope with, where the narrator keeps telling herself that someday her other will be back, while at the same time knowing fully well that it’s only a futile illusion.

The arpegios continue throughout the song, with the lyrics and the vibe creating the picture of the narrator dancing a slow, lone waltz with the memories of a long lost love, those feeling are expanded in the second verse:

I read your letter six times yesterday

Smoothed out each wrinkle and tasted your name

See you tomorrow but it never came

Been here a while but who can I blame? 

The narrator engages in emotional self-harm, poking into inner open wounds and making sure they won’t heal, at least not for now, towards the end another guitar enters the scene to add to the overall bittersweetness of the song.

The song expresses tastefully the feelings of loneliness that can exacerbate in winter, a fitting soundtrack for this troubled winter from this duo, who are commendable for their sincere and consistent output.

EP Review: “twomoonsaway – EP”

twomoonsaway, the 4-piece indie-rock band from Hillsborough Township, NJ are back with an eponymous EP, self-released last December 21st.

The band is composed of: David Panarese on vocals and guitar, Brandon Chu on bass, Carlee Ahart on guitar and Justin Tanis on drums (replacing Jake Laifer who’s playing on the EP), David and Brandon also share songwriting duties.

The EP is a collection of their distinctive sombre, short (ranging from 1:19 to 2:37 mins.), and deeply personal songs, exploring the painful and often sorrowful aspects of romance from a first-person perspective.

The opening track, “darkgreenspirits”, their debut single which was discussed here in detail before, deals with the end of a toxic relationship, and the pain that follows.

The following track, “Numbers”, takes a snapshot of a moment of anger and frustration at oneself, the writer feels anchored to a past the he cannot escape no matter how hard he tries.

The 3rd track, “Bullets” is a different take, the tempo gets slower, and we’re listening to a story of a missed opportunity, a seemingly random encounter that could have the potential to blossom into something, from the writer’s perspective at least, and for whatever reason it didn’t happen, all the while the song is shrouded in a big dark cloud of “what if”:

i guess it doesn’t matter

you were only there for a hour

i can’t remember your last name

but i can’t forget your face

My Highlight of the EP is the closing track, “Fall”, which takes a more voyeuristic approach, the tempo gets faster, more urgent, and the writer reads a log of sorts detailing the moves of a person he’s apparently watching, in a mix of pity and vindictiveness, from the moment the subject shares a decision with the writer, drunkenly stumbles home, to middle of the night, wondering whether to contact the writer or not, while the writer makes it clear that either choice will only torment him, leaving an open ending.

As expected from this promising band’s debut single, the music played here is clean and precise, the production of Mike Morello is well balanced as usual, the outcome of all of the above is a record that shows the band’s intentions in a wider, clearer way and is definitely a step in the right direction.

Single Review: “forgetmenot”

“forgetmenot” is the debut single of COSMO, the musical project of Cosmo Bellamy, a musician based in Manchester, UK, self-released last November 27th.

The track is a lovely example of lo-fi bedroom-pop duet with a subtle focus on the beats, it starts with a slow-tempo beat followed with a relaxing guitar strum, then subdued twin vocals make a polite entrance to center stage, bringing gorgeous melodic vocals contrasting with a melancholy-themed chorus:

Late on a Saturday
I’m tryna figure out
just what I want;
To forget you or not

Cosmo starts the first and only verse of the song, which is a small exchange between him a singer name Martha with both portraying a former couple reflecting on what went wrong with their love, with lines such as:

Silly me.
I guess I haven’t
figured out how to feel,

The track keeps drifting along with a series of soft breaks and repetitions of the bridge and chorus, only to climax in the last chorus, when both elements intertwine in a soft whirlwind of gorgeous vocal harmonies, and then a saxophone joins the tune, and keeps playing alone for a short while after the track is finished.

The track is catchy as it can be, the vocals and the way they were recorded and produced at times give the feeling of a hazy kaleidoscopic daydream, the elec piano and occasional synth pads add to the feel, it’s a track that won’t be forgotten that easily by anyone who is lucky enough to listen.

Single Review: “Honey Touch”

“Honey Touch” is the latest single from Charlotte Bumgarner, a singer-songwriter based in Tulsa, OK, released this December 11th on Manor Records.

The first word that popped in my mind within the opening seconds is “Sweetness”, the track opens with a soft synth pad chord, giving the sense of entering into a cloud, and when Charlotte’s delicate vocals slowly radiate, the cloud walls feel like aural cotton candy, the feeling only intensifies with the first lines:

honey touch, sweetest taste oh a sugar rush

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Charlotte Bumgarner

While the dreamy ambience keeps glowing in the background constantly, the lyrics take a bittersweet detour, especially towards the end, when Charlotte laments:

i can never let go of you or this feeling in my chest

feeling in my chest

After those lines are uttered, the music ends in a fadeout, the clouds fade away into the distance and we slowly drop down back into reality.

The single is a delightful example of Dream-Pop, the soft sounds and ambience took me on a brief sonic watercolor daydream, the ideal soundtrack for a winter sunset.

Single Review: “Caretakers”

“Caretakers” is the latest single from Permanent Vacation, the British/American duo based in Rome, and it’s the first single out of their debut album, to be released next year on the Z Tapes label.

The track is another showing of their signature brand of ambient-tinged minimalist indie-folk, it begins with a single acoustic guitar, whispered vocals enter the scene like a soft wave, delivering lines such as:

Go ahead and leave it out back

The price is always the same

We’ve been waiting for you

Like the end of the day

Guitar lines come and go, leaving a trail of sound behind them, as if trying not to disturb the soft vocals in their storytelling, gathering again towards the climax, where the lyrics are repeated, like a mantra:

You always said the same thing

And I kind of liked it like that

The lines keep being repeated well after the guitars fade out, giving a sense of a mantra on a low fire until it goes out too.

The tune transmits a strong feeling of reminiscing about those small and seemingly insignificant moments that for some reason keep popping back uninvited in our minds, give us a short burst of a warm feeling inside and a silly smile in our faces, a recurring theme in this duo’s distinctive music.

Single Review: “Wired/Weird”

“Wired/Weird” is the debut single of Beige Banquet, the project of London-based musician Tom Brierley released Today on the Just Step Sideways label.

Tom, formerly of Australian noise-post-punk band Noughts, brings us a first taste of his upcoming debut solo album, due to release in early 2021.

While still rooted in the post-punk territory of his previous work, this time Tom takes a smarter art-punk approach to his music, an angular track with repetitive guitar lines, sharp rhythm section, machine hand clappings and stream-of-consciousness lyrics such as:

Breath from last night gone

Indented bed sheets,

Stained with sweat,

And dark grease marks

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Tom Brierley – Beige Banquet

Keeping with the artsy approach, the chorus mirrors the verses, the music gets much denser, bringing the song to its climax while the lyrics are cut to a bare minimum:





The track ends with another climactic chorus only to reach an abrupt silence, finishing it with the same intensity as it began, leaving you wondering what hit your ears.

The outcome is a fascinating art-punk gem, an aural display of light and shadows, Tom serves here as an illusionist, hiding and showing elements at will, keeping us wondering what other marvels are still behind the curtain, just waiting to be exposed for all us to listen, I’ll keep waiting on the front row in anticipation.

EP Review: “II”

“II” is the latest EP from Dead Rituals, a band based in Naples, Italy, self-released last October.

While this is not a one-man band, Dead Rituals is centered around its frontman Andrea Caccesse, who also serves as its sole songwriter, producer and engineer, with a cast of collaborators, most notably vocalist Brita Penfold, who is featured in a couple of tracks.

The EP is composed of 3 tracks and an acoustic version of one as an added bonus, the 1st track, “Broken Memories” starts with an anthemic ambience, a driving and punchy drum kicks in, minimalist guitar lines join, and Andrea introduces himself, telling us a story of overcoming a negative and hurtful relation, punctuated by lines such as:

I don’t care if we lose it all.

‘cause after we’re gone, we’ll fade in the dirt.

After such intensity for the first to minutes, the track closes with a minute and a half of a slower, introspective segment, as if he teller is experiencing a brief period looking back in quiet reflection.

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Andrea Caccesse – Dead Rituals

The following track, and IMO the Highlight of the EP, “Slow Down”, is a more mellower tune with in an unusual 5/4 time signature, the mood is a little more upbeat, from the ethereal synths, and the plea for a respite with a sneaky twist between the lines:

I am taking my time Slow down,

slow down and come to me.

I need to lie down

I am already over the edge.

The 3rd track, “When The Lights Are Out” takes a turn into a broody direction, acoustic guitars come to the forefront to add to the melancholy of the tune, the ethereal synths keep lurking in the background but in a more sombre vibe.

The final (bonus) track is an acoustic version of “Slow Down”, not much to add to it, perhaps Andrea wanted the effort to end in a lighter note, who knows?

Each track was created in a different style and mood, at first glance, they appear to be seemingly mismatched, but what keeps it all together is the thematic thread, about the ups and (mostly) downs of being with someone, giving the listener a conceptual feel, and making the effort more cohesive in the process, the musicianship is top-notch, and combined with the decent production skills of its creator, the end result is a highly satisfying record from beginning to end.

Single Review: “Grace”

“Grace” is the debut single of Nate Adamson, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Vancouver, BC, self-released last October 2nd.

The relatively lengthy (5:32) track is an anthemic country-flavored indie-rock ballad, with gorgeous melodies, acoustic and lead guitars that strike the ear gently, providing a fitting background for Nate’s breezy vocals, singing subtly cryptic lyrics that maybe can be read as a love song, or a self-assurance declaration, or both:

What am I supposed to say?

Asking me why I ran away

Its better now, I’m glad you’re gone

Grace won’t be steering me wrong

The climax of the song is an intricate guitar solo at the final minute and a half of it, fading out into silence.

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Nate Adamson

The production values are well above average, every element is very well balanced, the guitars, the drums and the keyboards lie in harmony and give plenty of room to the vocals to flow.

The single brings to the forefront Nate’s multiple hats and talents, as a composer, as a vocalist, as a multi-instrumentalist and most importantly, as a producer, all done with flair that seems effortless for some reason, and all of it is condensed here into song for the world to listen, and it should.