We Were Strangers, I Believe

We Were Strangers

I Believe, by We Were Strangers: This one is easy to sink into and get lost in. I made it through twice before I paused to wonder what, exactly, was going on here – were the rich piano tones and lush strings disguising a dark tale of love and kidnapping? Or being kidnapped by love? The answer, as it turns out, is somewhere between “maybe” and “kind of,” depending on how you feel about settling on one person; per singer and chief lyricist Stefan Melbourne, it’s about “letting yourself commit to someone, and sustaining that.” Also appearing on this track: James Kenosha (drums and piano) and Lins Wilson (cello). Kenosha, who initially heard the songs when Melbourne posted them under the name The Works of Isaac, also acted as producer. The band is from Manchester, but their first show will be at the Bedroom Bar in London on February 25th; check it out if you’re in town.

Friday Morning Jam: Smoking Ghosts, Maybe Tonight I’ll Find You

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Ok kids, let’s start this weekend off right, with Maybe Tonight I’ll Find You, a jaunty noir-inflected romp about looking for true love in mildly unsavory places by Smoking Ghosts, featuring Liana Lewis Agredo. It’s from their new EP, Flores De los Muertos, which is, on the whole, quite good. Refreshing is probably the best word for it; I heartily recommend it

HT Heartache, Sundowner

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Sundowner is the second record from HT Heartache (Mary Roth), of Los Angeles, CA. And, for a record named after a biker gang, it’s surprising mellow. It’s also awesome: there isn’t a single song that’s filler, not even one note out of place. I like to put it on in the evening and sink into it like a warm bath. Ok, a warm bath with strong noir undertones that – just to totally mix metaphors here – if it was a person, very likely wear red lipstick and would regularly be asked to surrender all of her knives. She wouldn’t, of course, she’d just hand over the ones people can see. But they’d try. The first song is Trenton, and it sets the tone for the whole record: meditative, melancholy, sharp and lovely: These next two are just my favorites. Soft Rain, for the velvety texture of the interplay of her voice and the melody: And Darkside, because it’s the most up-tempo tune on the record, and fun to sing along to:

Video: New London Fire, For My Own

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For My Own is the first release from New London Fire‘s upcoming record Echoes in the Dark. Stylistically it picks up where The Dirt The Blood The Faith left off – Americana leavened with an indie rock sensibility – though tonally it’s a little darker. The first two times I listened to it I thought it was a mournful meditation on a lost relationship, the third time through I was like . . . hold on, is this a murder two-step? Not a lot happens in the video, and I mean that literally, it’s a little under three and a half minutes of home-movie style footage of what appears to be the back of a dude sitting on a wooded hill and staring at a lake. I spent a little bit of time wondering which lake – Central Park? one in Jersey? Upstate? – before deciding that ultimately it doesn’t matter. The anonymous lake is a metaphor, for the time the lovelorn spend with their attention turned inwards. Or else it’s where the narrator dumped the body. Well, whatever the lake means, or doesn’t, I definitely want to hear the rest of the record, and the story.

2014: A Year In Pictures

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A year of rock n’ roll, in pictures, including two shows from late December 2013, which I shot after I posted last years’ Year in Pictures. Tonight I’m headed out to dance the New Year in with Erasure (!); have fun and be safe, y’all, and I’ll see you on the other side. The Districts, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, Dec. 30, 2013 The Felice Brothers, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, Dec. 30, 2013 Team Spirit, Irving Plaza, New York, NY, Dec. 31, 2013 Andrew W.K., Irving Plaza, New York, NY, Dec. 31, 2013 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, NGHBRS, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, States and Kingdoms, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, Frank Iero, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 001, The Gay Blades, Maxwell’s, Hoboken, NJ, Jan. 10, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, Fred Mascharino, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, States and Kingdoms, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, Geoff Rickley, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, Frank Iero, St. Vitus, Brooklyn, NY, Jan. 18, 2014 Fadeaway Friends Benefit 002, I Hate … Continue reading

Video: Jameson, Breathe Your Last

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This is the video for Breathe Your Last, by Jameson (Jameson Burt), from his new EP Carnivore. It considers, visually, the battle between artist – writer, in this case – and demons, and artist and self, and contains some weird Fight Club-style bloody violence and Blair Witch-style shaky footage of one man’s mind coming apart at the seams. There is one extended scene with words melting off a blackboard that is seriously the stuff of nightmares for anyone who keeps little piles of scribbled chunks of story and notes-to-self laying around. On the plus side: our hero does climb out of the nightmare pit at the end and presumably lives to fight (and scribble) another day. Some thoughts about Carnivore as a whole: I’ve been listening to it on loop for the last couple of days, and it is the kind of record that 1) will stand up to that kind of test – I have yet to get bored with it and 2) blooms under that kind of scrutiny. Breathe Your Last has a distinctly Americana sound, but the rest of the songs don’t really; they shimmy all over the indie rock spectrum, borrowing from a variety of genres … Continue reading

Two Songs From: Junkie Thrown

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Junkie Thrown (Sanna Holmström) is from Göteborg, Sweden, and she combines crystal-sweet vocals with delicate guitars and the occasional heavy hypnotic beat. I spent most of last night listening to her YouTube uploads on endless loop; that includes her tunes as well as one by a friend – Sun Lions Army, by Sea Lion – and you can replicate that experience if you like, or you can listen to just her stuff, below. Fairy Christmas Day is . . . not your typical Christmas song. It’s Christmas through a haze – a haze of what, who knows – disappointment and alcohol, maybe – but it’s also somehow soothing. And then there is Circus of Our Misery, as an example of her non-Christmas fare, which has a delicate melody over a dark, thudding undertow.

Two Songs From: Nahko and Medicine for The People

Photo by Miko Walczuk

Nahko and Medicine for the People, led by Nahko Bear, are from Portland, Oregon, and are less a band and more an artistic collective that happens to play music. Really, really good music, that you could wedge into any number of genres, including world music, indie rock and inspirational. I came across them the other night when I fell in (yet another) Soundcloud hole, and I am very glad I did. This is the video for Budding Trees, from Dark as Night, which at this juncture is my favorite song of theirs, and I think it also serves as a good introduction to the band and their wider community, because it literally is the band and the community singing together. Not a show, however; they’ve used a broad assortment of footage, some amateur, some probably not, to show the tune winding through different lives. And this is Nahko Bear all by himself, doing their most recent single Wash It Away as part of a Gondola Session: Speaking of Soundcloud: This is their page, and you should go and just listen to the whole thing.

Split: Joyce Manor, Tame and Toys That Kill, Times We Can’t Let Go

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November has come to a close. Novels have been written; moustaches, of various degrees of amazingness and horribleness, have been grown and shaved; turkey has been eaten; in some locations, the first snow has fallen. Here at NTSIB, I’ve been doing NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month. I’ll do a masterpost later, but: there’s been a lot of music. Go back through the archives and see what you’ve missed. To finish out, here is the Joyce Manor/Toys that Kill split, set to be turned loose upon the world later this week, via Recess Records. If you like Ramones-style punk, these bands are for you. Joyce Manor, Tame: Toys That Kill, Times We Can’t Let Go: They’re also touring the West Coast together later in December.