Check 'Em Out

Check ‘Em Out: Lake Street Dive

                                                     Photo: Danny Clinch

To give you an impression on just how good this band are: I discovered them a week ago and have been listening to them non-stop.

The band was brought together by trumpeter and guitarist Mike Olsen 11 years ago, the other members being Bridget Kearny (upright bass), Rachel Price (vocals) and Mike Calabrese (drums). They originally wanted to produce traditional country music but swiftly elected their current style, described as “pop soul with rock and roll” – quite the combination, I think you’ll agree.

The band first showed promise when Kearny’s composition ‘Sometimes When I’m Drunk and You’re Wearing My Favourite Shirt’ won the Best Song in Jazz category at The John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2005. After self-releasing two albums (in this episode… [2006] andPromises and Promises [2007]), the band then signed with Signature Sound Records in 2010, releasing an eponymous LP that is upbeat – and a lot of fun – whilst also intricate. The album truly shows off the member’s individual talents, each being hugely proficient on their respective instruments. Rachel Price’s voice in particular is spectacularly soulful and demands attention from the very first note.

However, despite the band’s promise, the group briefly went on hiatus due to other musical projects and didn’t manage to commit to another release until 2012. The resultant EP, Fun Machine, featured five covers and an original; all the covers reflected the band’s distinctive style, particularly the Jackson Five’s ‘I Want You Back’.

Since then, the band has upped their game and begun to tour more frequently. In early 2013 they went into the studio to record another album, though it was not released until 2014 due to Price’s contract with another label. Regardless, the album (entitled Bad Self Portrait) is another high quality instalment to Lake Street Dive’s growing collection. It features some captivatingly slow tracks, such as ‘Just Ask’ andRental Love’, which are well worth a look.

I read a critic’s opinion somewhere regarding Lake Street Dive which stated that Price’s vocals are the main reason people should be sure that they listen to the group… but I could not disagree more. Yes, she does of course have an incredibly resonant voice, but without Mike Olson, Bridget Kearney and Mike Calabrese the magic would simply not be there. Without the full line-up there would not be half as many of the songs that define the band’s sound and captivate the listener to the point of musical ecstasy. The instrumentation is, and remains to be, fantastic and compliments the vocals in an organic and unique fashion.

Lake Street Dive is set to release their next album on February the 19th of next year: it is called Side Pony and hopefully there will be a UK tour to go along with it. If there is I implore you: don’t miss out! These guys are ones to watch, trust me.

Now y’all better know what to do by now: make your life that little bit better and Check ‘Em Out!

In Depth

Check ‘Em Out: Night Verses

Image courtesy of Graphic Nature Records

With only nineteen songs released the four members that make Night Verses (Douglas Robinson –Vocals, Nick DePirro–Guitar, Reilly Herrera–Bass, Aric Improta – Drums), have put together a stronger catalogue than some bands who’ve done twice as many and have been going for decades. This shows what an impressive group of musicians they are. Originally named The Sound Archives hailing from Fullerton, California the band originally consisted of DePirro, Herrera and Improta. But after being really impressed by them at a charity gig Robinson (former singer for The Sleeping) asked to become the vocalist.

The move was one that was made in heaven as it were. Being a fan of Robinson’s former group I know just how good a singer he is. With the band complete they got into the studio to record their first EP, Out of the Sky soon after the line-up was completed and was self-released via the Night Verses website on a free download. The four tracks run a total time of 18:51 seconds. It showed what the band could do; all the songs are sonically captivating. The opener From the Shadows Where I’m Low has you from the first echoed drum beat. Then going into an intricate guitar line and the bass comes in pounding along melodically. But then it kicks in to the chorus (without vocals). Then after this everything but the clean fantastic guitar plays and you get to hear Robinson’s vocals. After a few verses and choruses, it all breaks down and changes.

This part was for me where I realised that Night Verses were a very special band. A great guitar riff is played by Nick DePirro but cleverly it sounds like they are playing it from far away, so when the rest of the band join in it really hits you. Here Robinson shows how he can become an aggressive vocalist and it all locks together to create this masterpiece. The third track Be Happy With Yourself, I’m Staying Here in Hell is a brilliant emotional song. It really does connect with me for some reason again a quality that few bands possess. Out of the Sky was critically acclaimed winning the Extended Play of the year accolade from Punktastic’s Readers Awards. The building hype led to a UK tour with the Scottish Earth Rock band Flood of Red. Plus a slot on the Rock Sound Stage at the Hevy Music Festival that same year, alongside legendary New York hardcore band Madball. As all this was taking place Night Verses where working on their planned long play debut.

With an approximate 50 songs in the mix for the album the band had a lot of thinking and debating ahead of them. On the fifth day of 2013 the band headed into the Interlace Audio studio yet again with Kris Crummett, to begin crafting the album. First off the album has 15 songs. This move shows how bold the band is, they wanted to put fifteen songs together and so they did. In a climate where 10 tracks is the status quo, I would of have been perfectly content with 10 songs but the extra effort resulted in an eminence first album that has cemented itself as one of my favourite albums ever. With great melodies throughout mixed with heavier aspects, Night Verses are one of the few bands that pull the combination off to stunning affect. The great single Celestial Fires is just the tip of the iceberg to what kind of band Night Verses are. The musicianship is special, the band gel together so well. This record is a perfect example of why it is worth getting together with likeminded people in a small cramped room, getting sweaty and just playing your hearts out, resulting in an outstanding album that is overflowing with top music. It is emotional, full of riffs and beautiful melodies.Lift Your Existence was distributed on June 25th by Easy Killer (US) and via Southworld in the UK a month later. It was extremely well received both in North America and overseas. So much so that the recording was considered a contender for Album of the Year on various sites and music magazines.

As of September 10th this year Night Verses signed with Equal Vision/Graphic Nature records and have started to record the follow up album. With Ross Robinson producing who has worked with The Cure, Slipknot, Fear Factory, Korn, Deaftons and Klaxons. With the band saying that the new album will have more experimentation and a darker ambience than Lift Your Existnece.

Night Verses are easily one of the best bands to have hit the music scene in the last three years, and I am not scarred to say that there will not be many bands in this decade to rival their musical prowess. Check ‘Em Out.

Check 'Em Out

Check ‘Em Out: The Peach Kings

The Peach Kings where created when Texan born Paige Wood met Silver Lake, Los Angeles Native Steven Dies back in 2010. The two musicians had an instant chemistry, quickly coming up with a catalogue of songs. Coupled with these tracks was a fan base and excitement around the pair. So much so that they took home the first price at Alternative Apparel’s “2010 Unsigned Artist of the Year Awards”. Beating four other bands to do so.

Off the back of the win the band released their very first EP, Trip Wop in 2011. The three songs are: Easy, Little Things and By Your Side. As you may have guessed the songs are nice and chilled out, with the mix of clean guitars and laid back slow tempo electronic drums. Though they are not the fastest, riff laden songs they will still get stuck in your head. Especially Little Things (which is also a good motto to live by). This effort shows how effortless it is for these two to create together. Paige’s voice is great and Steven’s guitar is well placed. It showed a bright future ahead could be in store.

Again the talent shown on Trip Wop was only built upon on the double acts next instalment, Handsome Moves (2012). With this the band doubled the amount of songs. This obviously translated to twice the amount of greatness. Kicking Handsome Moves off is the super fun and groovy Fisherman. With a more distorted guitar and simply but effective drum beats really gets this extended play off to a strong start. Then on to the song Do For Me, Steven adds his vocals. It is a very good move as I personally think that it adds to the dynamic and along with Like a Stone where Steven also does vocals along Paige, are two off their strongest songs. Like a Stone is amazing, the guitar is great, the alternating of the vocals between the two members is brilliant (props to Mr Dies on this one he hits a high rather high note, after which I dare you to say that males can’t do falsetto well!!!); the lyrics are clever and well written. The build up is top notch, I love this track. Soon Will be and Lonely are the two stripped down songs off the EP they fit in and are a call back to Trip Wop.

The latest release was the Mojo Thunder EP in June of 2014. The lead track, Mojo Thunder, not only tremendous sonically but is also accompanied by an equally impressive video, I urge you to watch it. With this they add yet another element to their sound with a really cool keyboard line. Hold On follows Mojo Thunder starting off with a palm muted guitar line, then comes in the bass (my favourite part of the song). It flows rather well and will get you hooked. Say What is a special song to me because it falls into the rather small selection of songs that I will actually boogie to, only because it gives instructions on how to Line Dance in this case. Finally, rounding out the EP is Be Around. Their finest song for me. Lyrically it is a stand out because it helps to form imagery but also puts you in the boots of the person that Paige is singing about. The guitaring is fuzzy, warm and the way in which the band places clean sounds against the distortion is second to none.

All in all The Peach Kings are going places. This is shown by the never ending hype that they have gathered in a relatively short amount of time. The great news is that there shall be a full length album out within the next twelve months. So go and treat your self to one of the best up and coming bands around, The Peach Kings. Check ‘Em Out.