New Music Tuesday: Rocket 3: What’s the Frequency [Album]

 

Oh, where is the time going? Has it really been four years since we last visited the world of the indie-pop sensation that is Rocket 3? It is certainly a tough task to imagine such a possibility when I think about the fact that their debut album, Burn, is still in regularly rotation in my life. I couldn’t imagine going too long without hearing the wonderful front woman, Ramune Nagisetty, singing every so sweetly about ever so wonderful things. But alas, time has moved on, and with that move has come an all new record from our favorite feel-good and empowering trio.

On their sophomore release, What’s the Frequency, Rocket 3 brings us a whole new batch of amazing tracks featuring their classic pop-sensibilities with a noticeable, and well deserved, since of accomplishment for what they have already given to the world. They know what they are capable of, and they continue to prove it by perfecting the brilliant sound they have already manufactured so wonderfully. Because, with this release, they have a bit of a secret weapon to add to the mix….the saxophone!

Yes, the brilliant saxophonist Gavin Duffy has been thrown in the mix, and has only added to the brilliance that is Rocket 3. This is clearly evident in what may be the album’s best, and definitely catchiest, track “Hip Shot” that I could (and have) seriously put on repeat for an unprecedented amount of play throughs, and you know, just walk around and breath! Within this singular track we even get a perfect sax solo from Duffy, which I’ve always said we could totally use more of in this world!

From beginning to end, What’s the Frequency is an overall perfect album. From the jingle-jangely opening track “I Choose Love”, right down to the closing track that is all about goodbyes known as “Evershine”, Rocket 3 has only continued to prove why they are a mainstay in the world of indie-pop and they are going to be around giving way good vibes for quite some time. And we should be damn thankful that they are willing to do so!

Rocket 3’s What’s The Frequency will be available wherever you get your music on July 28th. Check out the band’s website for details!

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New Music Tuesday: Maniac – Dead Dance Club [Album]

I will admit, I truly have not only been listening to enough music lately, let alone enjoying just about any of it. I have definitely be voiding myself of anything that sounds remotely “fun” or somewhat “enlightening”. But, every once in a great while I try my hand at feeling well once again, and sometimes I am very fortunate in that a brilliant band like Maniac may come across my digital desk. And all feels right with the world once again! I’m not saying it happens often, but it has for sure happen on my latest road to “wellness” through music.

Maniac is a L.A. based & light-hearted punk rock that blends beautiful vocal hooks with hard hitting guitar riffs that ripple through your ear lobes like a discarded Pringles can pushing through the ocean waves. Their sophomore album Dead Dance Club is one of those rare gems of an album that can be listened through in its entirety without a single second of boredom or yearning to move on from their sound. Each track on the album seems to embody its own spirit, its own personality, yet each one has a familiar feel to the last. I’ve found it pretty rare to come across a band like Maniac, who seem to know exactly what they are doing, and what they want to convey, but at the same time are not afraid to take some chances and have a fucking field day whilst blending old school go-go-go punk with a modern freak pop sensibility.

I’d be hard pressed to choose a stand up track on this album, but gun to a labrador puppy’s head, I’d have to say that I have some kind of special affection for “Children of the Dirt”. I’ve found this short but exciting track that really exemplifies just what Maniac is all about, and what they are trying to convey with Dead Dance Club. It has a simple chorus, a deep-throated bass line, and even a nice little guitar solo. Seriously, a chorus as simple as “Children of the sun/children of the moon/children of the dirt” says so damn much even if it really says so little. I can’t help but love it. “Living In Stereo” has a similar vibe as well, I must add. Shit, I could really go on and on about each track individually. But for your sake, I shall not.

Yeah, I have to say that I really needed to hear a band like Maniac these days. I could ramble off a laundry list of other bands that they somewhat sound like, but I have the distinct feeling that I would instantly regret doing so, and would most likely be entirely wrong. Let’s just call Dead Dance Club a fantastic album that I am certain to continue enjoying for quite some time. Maniac has created one of the finest albums of 2018 thus far, and I will be eternally grateful to this creative masterminds for making my year!

Photo by Zach Mcaffree

Dead Dance Club is available now Hovercraft/Dirt Nap Records. Check it out HERE.

And if you are reading this from the west coast, be sure to catch Maniac at one of these (probably) fine establishments:

06.14.18 – San Francisco, CA @ Light Rail Studios

06.15.18 – Corvallis, OR @ Bombs Away

06.16.18 – Portland, OR @ Green Noise Records (6 pm) AND Lay Low Tavern 

06.17.18 – Tacoma, WA @ The Valley

06.18.18 – Bellingham, WA @ Boscoe’s Tavern

06.19.18 – Vancouver, BC @ The Astoria

06.20.18 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon

06.21.18 – Portland, OR @ Blackwater

06.22.18 – Eureka, CA @ Siren’s Song Tavern

06.23.18 – Oakland, CA @ Golden Bull

 

New Music Tuesday: Justin Nozuka: Run To Waters [Album]

It has finally happened folks! We are not even half way through the year, and the most perfect album of 2018 is already upon is. I am actually surprised by how not surprised I am that it is our new friend Justin Nozuka who would grab the title. We already spoke pretty highly about one of his recent E.P.’s, Low Tide, which is merely 3 tracks of Run To Waters. 3 other tracks comprised his other E.P., High Tide, and throw in 5 new cuts, you have Run To Waters which is not only one of the most beautifully written albums I have ever heard, it also has a sound so crisp and spiritual in a way that so many others have tried to give to us in the past, but never truly hit the mark. But, I am here today to say this…..Justin Nozuka’s Run To Waters is that absolutely perfect soul-infused, singer/songwriter album that you have been looking for over the last couple of decades at least. This is album is an emotional rollercoaster brilliantly cut into 11 parts to enjoy at your own pace.

In the months passed, I have heavily confessed my admiration for Run To Waters’s highlight track, “Warm Under the Light”, but I feel like I have to reiterate this message….this is an absolutely perfect song. The entire playlist of this album is a highlight in its own right, but I simply have not gotten over just how much I adore this track. And the beautiful simplicity of the sun soaked “No Place In Mind” simply cannot be denied. It holds the same brilliant tone of being a wonderfully written track placed within a perfect pop sensibility that is impressive and enlightening. Same goes for “All I Need” and….well, each and every track could get its own paragraph. Let’s just commence to the fact that this is an absolutely perfect able. I simply cannot find a fault in this playlist, and I can’t imagine how anyone really could.

The way that Justin Nozuka uses his voice as what feels like just another beautiful instrument to an amazingly memorable melody is absolutely mesmerizing and just a full on delight to have penetrate your heart through your ear canals. I have been aware of this man’s gift for over a decade, but I am still so compelled by the absolutely incredible growth that he has shown since I was fortunate enough to revisit his work. Just Nozuka will surely go down in history as one of the finest singer/songwriter’s of this era. And Run To Waters will definitely be a signature highlight of a career done absolutely right.

Run To Waters will be available wherever you purchase music on May 18th, 2018. Pre-order your own copy right HERE, and trust me, you are going to want to get on this!

And because I adore it so damn much, here is another look at the official video for the incredible track “Warm Under the Light”:

New Music Tuesday: Gerry Spehar – Anger Management [Album]

First and foremost, I have to be honest when I say that I was sadly uninformed when it came to the genius of the great Gerryy Spehar…..until now. Now, I am slightly informed, and feel as though I need to know so damn much more. This is because of the idea that if his amazing record Anger Management is any indication of what this man has been doing throughout his career, then I have definitely been missing out over the years. I now consider myself a HUGE fan of Gerry, based on the contents of the album I am here to talk to you all about today.

Anger Management is the modern equivalent to all of those old and beautiful Woody Guthrie-esque protest songs that are held dearly in the annals of history. And while those old folk songs are definitely special for very good reasons, Gerry Spehar has creating something uniquely different, and actually a bit more impressive in my own opinion. Gerry blends classic old timey folk songs with a brilliant seasoning of blues and rock & roll, and even a bit of a country ballad feel at times, that makes for an album that is not only important to our current political climate, but also sounds absolutely amazing! While I do appreciate a good protest song for its basic nature, it always has more of an impact when there is immense talent involved. And Spehar is definitely an extremely talented singer and musician, as well as a mesmerizing songwriter.

Whether it is a slow paced and gut-wrenching ballad like “A Soldier’s Spiritual”, the high-speed satirical folk ditty “Thank You Donald”, the 90’s alternative like cut “Except For the Bomb”, or the seriously funky, blues-driven “Bitch Heaven”, I am here to tell you that Gerry Spehar’s Anger Management is without a doubt one of the best albums you are going to hear in 2018. And even more so, this music is absolutely timeless and should be the catalyst for people to listen to 100 years in the future to truly understand what these days were like. This is a perfect album with a perfect message, and most importantly, it is an absolute joy to listen to!

Gerry Spehar’s Anger Management will be available on May 18th wherever you find music. Check out his WEBSITE for more details!

New Music Tuesday: Justin Nozuka – Low Tide [EP]

It was almost 10 years ago when I was coerced into seeing a show at Berbati’s Pan in Portland, Oregon by my lovely wife during a short stint back in the Pacific Northwest after I had just spent an unprecedented amount of time in what will be an undisclosed region of the world (hint: it was very hot.) My lovely wife had somehow come to learn of this Justin Nozuka character, and his recently released album, Holly, that was apparently so good. So to appease the misses, I said sure, let’s do it.

Little did I know that almost a decade later I would still be thinking about this show, for so many different reasons. For one reason that has absolutely nothing to do with Justin Nozuka, who is literally the title character of this piece, it was his middle act of the program, a little group known as The Gabe Dixon Band. Long time readers of the TWS know that we love Gabe and everyone affiliated with the GDB at that time. We’ve interviewed Gabe, we’ve discussed The Wood Brothers (featuring Jano Rix on drums), and I am currently drinking a vodka tonic out of a Gabe Dixon Band novelty cup that I purchased at this very show I attended in PDX. Yes, that has nothing to do with Justin and his amazing work, but it felt right to mention that everything is circling around on this crazy earth, and so many things seem to consistently come circling back around in the most beautiful way possible.

So, getting back to the Mr. Nozuka, I also became a huge fan of this 18 year old kid that I was previously unaware of prior to that warm September night. He had such a presence. He was compelling. He wasn’t entirely charismatic, but he put on a hell of a show. I remember thinking that this guy will go on to do amazing things, and I should really stay in touch with what he is doing. I listened to and loved his debut album, Holly, for months, and just knew that he was going to matter to me for a very long time.

And then I lost it.

I honestly don’t know what happened. I just sort of fell off. The fault is all mine. I have since gone back and enjoyed everything he has done in the last ten years. But,  I will say, I have not enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed his last two EP’s, High Tide & Low Tide. Sweet mother of all that is holy, that young kid I saw a decade ago has grown and is now creating some of the most amazing work I have ever heard.

Low Tide specifically is a product of full blown excellence that has made me wonder what the hell I have been doing with my life. “Warm Under the Light” is just about as perfect a song can get. There is a subtle darkness amidst its light hearted direction. It is catchy, yet insanely personable and has that perfect mix of catchiness combined with very specific nuances that are just so damn appealing. And then we get a song like “Reverie”, which is just about the fasted 6 minutes I have ever experienced. It is an absolutely beautiful track that has the pop appeal of a 3 minute song, but packs so much life and beauty into a piece of music that I could listen to for the rest of my days.

It is truly a beautiful experience listening to Justin. And as much as I loved Holly back in the day, I have to say that I am genuinely pleased with the direction that he has gone. He has grown as musician, and as a person. And it only makes sense, really. The world has changed a lot his the summer of 2008. So many things have happened. And Justin’s growth as a human being is evident, and compelling. The kid that I saw perform around the corner from VooDoo Doughnut’s all of those years ago has grown into a full blown man with some experiences to share. And he is doing it absolutely perfect.

And should you find yourself on my side of the pond, Justin is doing a whole bunch of shows across Europe this spring. Find him in a city near you:

Justin Nozuka Tour Dates – Europe & UK

APR 4 – Ideal Bar, Copenhagen, Denmark
APR 5 – Ingensteds ,Oslo, Norway
APR 6 – Kägelbanan, Södermalm, Sweden
APR 8 – LantarenVenster, Rotterdam, Netherlands
APR 9 – Stadschouwburg, Groningen, Netherlands
APR 10 – 013 Poppodium, Tilburg, Netherlands
APR 11 – Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
APR 13 – Kulturclub Schon Schön, Mainz, Germany
APR 14 – Frannz Club, Berlin-Friedrichshain, Germany
APR 15 – Béi Chéz Heinz, Hanover, Germany
APR 17 – Papiersaal, Zurich, Switzerland
APR 18 – Konzerthaus Schuur, Luzern, Lucerne, Switzerland
APR 21 – Backstage, Paris, France
APR 22 – Sticky Mikes Frog Bar, Brighton, United Kingdom
APR 23 – The Garage, London, United Kingdom
APR 25 – Thekla, Bristol, United Kingdom
APR 26 – The Castle & Falcon, Birmingham, United Kingdom
APR 27 – The Wardrobe, Leeds, United Kingdom
APR 28 – Northumbria Institute 2, Newcastle, United Kingdom
APR 30 – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, United Kingdom
MAY 1 – The Caves, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
MAY 2 – Night People, Manchester, United Kingdom
MAY 3 – The Sugar Club, Dublin, Ireland
MAY 5 – Ohibo, Milano, Italy
MAY 6 – Monk Club, Rome, Italy
MAY 8 – Razzmatazz 3, Barcelona, Spain
MAY 9 – Moby Dick Club, Madrid, Spain

 

High Tide, and Low Tide are both available now. Check out Justin’s WEBSITE now for details. Check out the official video for “Warm Under the Light” right here:

New Music Tuesday: Andrew Sheppard: Steady Your Aim [Album]

Well, it feels like this is going to the year of the amazing country infused singer/songwriter. We kicked off the year featuring The Wood Brothers, and now we have something insanely special to share with you all. Today we are featuring an amazing album from a guy who instantly stole my musical heart. His name is Andrew Sheppard, and his album Steady Your Aim is a prime example of a truly soulful cat who can, to put it bluntly, write the fuck out of a song!

I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Steady Your Aim, I was just looking to give it a chance. And god dammit if I didn’t give a little gasp of fear when the playlist ran through to competition without even realizing. So, I ran through another listen. And then another. And then another. And….you get the point. While some may wish to strip down Sheppard’s work as a collection of Country melodies, I feel very strongly that this is a wrong assumption. There is an essence of rockabilly and old school guitar screeching business that is undeniably strong throughout Steady Your Aim. And the songwriting! Sheppard writes songs that are deliberate, thoughtful, and quick (every song is under 4 minutes!). And he does it flawlessly!

The title track, “Steady Your Aim”, is an obvious hit single. But, to ignore a more hardcore track like “Lies As Cheap As Whiskey” or twangy “Here at the Bottom” would simply be irresponsible. Steady Your Aim is an album loaded with perfectly written melodies for every mood imaginable. Whether your filled with booze and joy, or dealing with darkness (with booze?) there is something here for you. It’s early in the year, but I have to call it…..Steady Your Aim will be known as one of the best albums of 2018. No arguments.

Steady Your Aim will be available for download or however you listen to music on March 23rd. Check out andrewsheppardmusic.com for details.

New Music Tuesday: The Wood Brothers: One Drop of Truth [Album]


“What I really love about this record is that each one of these songs has its own little world. There are diverse sounds and vibes from one track to the next.” – Oliver Wood

The Wood Brothers has always been a band that has fascinated me for some of the most obvious reasons. In a world wrapped in obscurity and absurdity, sometimes it is nice to return to some good old fashioned blues-laced rock and roll. And when it comes to putting out solid old school meets new age blues, there simply is no other group out there doing it as well as The Wood Brothers. I will always remember being absolutely floored by their performance at Pickathon in 2012, and was obsessed with their 2015 album Paradise. But, I have to say here and now, I truly believe that One Drop of Truth finds The Wood Brothers at their absolute best. This album is so perfectly varied in sound and style, yet continues with the same brilliant sound that their fans have come to expect.

Whether they are getting just a little bit funky on “Sparkling Wine”, or bringing on the heavy hearted blues on “Laughin’ or Crying”, there is something on One Drop of Truth for just about everyone. There is a “just a little bit country” feel to this playlist that is undeniably appealing. “River Takes the Town” is an amazing display of the songwriter ability of The Wood Brothers, and should likely hit a soft spot for anybody who has found themselves in a relatable incident. As Oliver Wood said himself, these tracks are very diverse. But, I would argue that there is a sensibility about them that makes them absolutely specific to their own. Which is a damn good thing. If I were hard pressed to choose a “favorite track” on the album, it would probably have to be “Happiness Jones”, but this is from the viewpoint of a lyric loving guy. I love the idea of wisdom through hard times, and I haven’t heard a song so brilliantly describe something of this nature so well, in so damn long.

I know it is very early in the year, but I can safely say that  One Drop of Truth is the best thing I have heard this year, and I am certain that this sentiment will ring through all the way into the upcoming winter, and well beyond.


One Drop of Truth will be available on February 2nd wherever you find music. Check out the band’s website for more details.Wanna see the Wood Brothers’ magic live and in person? You can find them at a city near you:

Jan. 25Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theatre
Jan. 26Washington, DC – Lincoln Theatre
Jan. 28Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
Jan. 30Albany, NY – The Egg
Jan. 31New York, NY – Irving Plaza
Feb. 2 – Portland, ME – State Theatre
Feb. 3Boston, MA – House of Blues
Feb. 9Miami Beach, FL – Groundup Music Festival
Feb. 21Phoenix, AZ – MIM Music Theater
Feb. 22Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up
Feb. 23Los Angeles, CA – Fonda Theatre
Feb. 24San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
Feb. 25San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
Feb. 27Arcata, CA – Kate Buchanan Room
Feb. 28Ashland, OR – Southern Oregon University
Mar. 1Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
Mar. 2Seattle, WA – Neptune
Apr. 11Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
Apr. 12Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre
Apr. 13Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre
Apr. 14Chicago, IL – Vic Theatre
Apr. 15St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
Apr. 17Cincinnati, OH – Taft Ballroom
Apr. 18Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
Apr. 19Indianapolis, IN – The Vogue
Apr. 20Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theater

 

Check out the lead off single for the One Drop of Truth, right here: