THE LEGAL MATTERS – Conrad (interview)

Beautiful melodies. BEAUTIFUL MELODIES. Beautiful vocal harmonies. BEAUTIFUL VOCAL HARMONIES. Like The Beatles, like Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Andy, Chris and Keith.

Short Term Memory is my favorite. Is it a political song or is it a description of what you feel if you walk down memory lane?


 

Andy: Its mainly about how forgettable things can be these days. A lot of music and film are very dumbed down to be as simple as it possible can. Then I was thinking about his great it would’ve been to be around in the 60s and 70s. So many great bands back then. I do think there is an insane amount of great music today, it’s just not what you hear on the radio. So I guess, in a way, it’s an anti-pop culture song.
 

She is talking more birds less bees. That’s a wonderful line. Do they make you happy if they pop up? Or don’t they pop up? More labour of love?

Chris: Well, we certainly wouldn’t be anywhere without the birds and bees. They do indeed make us happy when they appear. The idea behind this song had more to do with the fear of the unknown in regards to the furthering a relationship knowing well that true concerns lie in waiting.

 
The harmony vocals are great. How did you record them?
 

Andy – We approach the harmonies as an instrument itself. The lead vocal always get laid down first. Then we discuss the areas we feel that background vocals will fit best. Then we try a few things one voice at a time. It’s almost like a puzzle that we are putting together.

 


Will Conrad become what Eddie is for Iron Maiden?


 

Chris- we love that! Conrad has really taken off – we love him and he really seems to be connecting with people everywhere. We may need to consider creating a 50ft Conrad to stand behind us on the stage while we perform. Grand idea!
 

How will you promote Conrad?


Keith: We have the amazing “Omnivore Recordings” with us on this one, so we will do anything we can to help them bring “Conrad” to the masses! We also have our first full band live shows planned, so maybe we’ll be bringing that show to your town!
 

What about all these great reviews? Surprised or were you confident you had created something special?


Keith: we were pretty sure that we created something special, but it’s always a relief when it turns out other people agree with you. It was a lot of months between us finishing this one and it coming out, so it’s a welcome release to let the world meet “Conrad”!

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Brijitte West & The Desperate Hopefuls – From NY with Love (interview)

New York all over. Sweet Sweet Music talked to Brijitte West about From Ny with Love. Americana Punky Rock & Roll.

You have a way with words, these storytelling songs sounds like they come very natural to you. (That’s a compliment). Do they?



Hey thanks for the compliment! I do love to tell stories, I think the most engaging songs are the ones where the listener can follow a storyline and imagine a character. Once I think of an idea for a song it usually comes really easy. It sometimes feel like the song was already written somewhere in the universe and I am just the vessel to receive it. 

From NY with Love … it has that end of 70s NY sound. Was that where you were after?

Well if you look at my history it’s the sort of sound that I am known for. I don’t usually go after anything. I think it is just what I do naturally. The backing band plays that sort of style naturally as well. I am hoping with my next record I can do something different. 

I first read about your music in the Classic Rock magazine. That’s a big magazine. Are these type of reviews important?

Yes,  they are important and I am really  that a giant like Classic Rock will review a timey release like mine! 


How will you promote From NY with Love?

We dont have a huge budget so we will do as many shows as we can.

I never type your first name correctly at once 🙂 what about that?

yes I have a unique spelling!

How did you record NY with Love?

We recorded it at a studio near London called The Brook. We recorded all the drum tracks in one day! The whole album was recorded in about four days. We had to be quick because of financial restraints. I hope it doesnt sound like a rush job!!!

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BABY SCREAM – Life’s a Trap (interview)

… it could be a good soundtrack if you u r going to make a short ride to the Liquor Store on a Sunday afternoon.



Sweet Sweet Music talked to Juan Pablo Mazzola about Life’s a Trap. Power Pop from Argentina.

Songs like ”The Ballad Of Music Biz” and “Life’s Better When U’re High” could have been big rock songs, I guess but the acoustic approach … even better. What do you think?

Well, yeah….the state of music in the year 2016, lol….

I believe it all became too “hipster”, too “shallow” and don’t have a long beard, I do listen to the records I buy….so..it was already complicated 20 years ago, today’s already dead, the real stuff is only made by fans and for fans.

I write these songs out of pure love for music, which was my escaping tool when I was 13 and it still is.

I’m a “song” guy, so I really like acoustic songs, “Life’s Better When U’re High” was inspired by The Jayhawks.

You have your own way with words. You can recognize if a lyric is yours from a mile. How about that?

Ha, thanks for that! 
I always try to come up with stuff that sounds like me, I actually write in the same way I usually speak.

Life’s a Trap will be released on cassette. Perfect mixtape for …. ?

Probably for shooting yourself in the head, haha, no that’s just wrong, sorry for that.
Really…. if you wanna listen to Classic Power Pop stuff while drinking a beer, or maybe it could be a good soundtrack if you u r going to make a short ride to the Liquor Store on a Sunday afternoon.

Uh, well, what about mixtapes … She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

Jellyfish – Baby’s Coming Back.

Black Sabbath – Planet Caravan.

Cheap Trick – Didn’t Know I Had It

Aerosmith – No More, No More.

John Lennon – I’m Losing You.

If she can deal with that, then that’s it, she’s the one….which is actually what happened! 

What’s up for the next couple of months? 

Probably touring Brazil, and playing a few more gigs in Argentina, then xmas, 2017…we’ll see what the future brings, maybe I can go back to Europe in March and stay there for a long while (really crossing fingers here)

How will you promote Life’s a Trap?

Kinda hard really, trying to get reviews, radio airplay, playing as much as I can….same ol’ same ol’….always so hard.

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LA PANTHER HAPPENS – For The Night Crawlers (interview)

dadaism, surrealism, garage rock, soul, surf, country and western, power pop


Sweet Sweet Music talked to Jhohn Arlie about La Panther Happens’ new album For The Night Crawlers.

“In my fist I hold your cobra ah ah and a lock of your cherry cola hair.” That line from Weird to Me makes me smile and wonder all day?


… to be honest, in the same way Roky Erickson ‘s lyrics do …



Nobody Does it like Roky. I know some people who listen to his music and say something like ” Yeah, vampires, demons, aliens, … cool ” , but when I listen I experience supernatural suffering. 13th Floor Elevators were not of this earth. 

I also enjoyed the album he made with Okkervil River. My personal favorite is Good Bye Sweet Dreams. Those lyrics are simple, haunting, and profound. 

The name, the artwork, the video for Year of Tarantula … inspiration seems to come from a lot of different art forms. Does that make sense?


Yes, My head is all over the place. I draw from many influences: dadaism, surrealism, garage rock, soul, surf, country and western, power pop. I can’t imagine being in band that focuses on one style. I would feel soulless

Blonde on Blonde on my Living Stereo. What about Dylan winning the Nobel Prize? 



Congratulations to him. I know thhe award carries controversy and heavy criticism, but I say good for him and Godspeed.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

I like this question ! 

1. Bob Dylan- She Belongs To Me ( I love the line he sings about her egyptian ring )

2. Gris Gris- Mademoiselle of The Morning- Greg Ashley is one of a kind. A criminally underrated songwriter. His solo records are top notch

3. Big Star- Blue Moon ( A touching song recorded during a chaotic time in Alex Chilton’s Life. I am a Big Star freak )

4. Harlan T Bobo- Stop ( Another incredible songwriter. I wish I could write songs like him ) 

5. Reigning Sound- Not Far Away ( I always want to pick up my guitar and write a song when I listen to Reigning Sound )

How did you record For the Night Crawlers?

We divided the songs into two sessions and recorded & mixed at High/Low recording in Memphis, TN. It was an honor to record with Pete Matthews and Toby Vest. 

And how will you promote it?



We are currently distributing the album digitally. We released some handmade cds and cassettes in our hometown and will be releasing the album on Vinyl through Sound Pony Records. I have been making videos with my brother, Tim Shrum. Sending out copies to radio stations and blogs. Playing live as much as we can. Just doing whatever it takes to get the music out there. 

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JEREMY & THE HARLEQUINS – Into The Night (interview)

Kick Ass ROCK & ROLL from downtown NY. Sweet Sweet Music talked to Jeremy Fury.


Into The Night, the title track, is my favorite song of the year. No need to lie about that. Watch here!

Thanks. It was inspired by the girl I was dating at the time. To me, it’s about being away from someone you love and finding the strength to get to them. I think it could be about anyone or anything; going into the night and persevering. 

As for the lyrics, living in Manhattan, I don’t have a car and wasn’t actually driving when I had the idea for the song. The driving theme came from the pulsating guitar rhythm which feels like driving to me.

Rhythm Don’t Lie, Liitle Steven’s coolest song of the week. What about that?


It’s the closest song on the album to a ‘rockabilly’ standard. It’s pulled directly out of the late 50’s and because of that, I wanted to make the lyrics fun enough to keep the listener interested. There’s a sense of humility to the lyrics, at least that was my intention. It’s a fun rock ‘n roll tune, albeit, a bit self deprecating.  

How did you record Into The Night? It doesn’t sound like too much production (compliment!) or did it take very long to get that live feel (compliment too)?


We recorded everything analog to tape in a basement on Orchard St. in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It wasn’t even a possibility to overproduce it, so the sound and live feel comes out of the limitations of the recording. Every track on the record was recorded within three takes. We aren’t trying to brag or anything, our situation was that we had limited money and time, an analog basement studio, and five musicians who have been playing in bands for a long time.

You have a record company (Yep Roc), what does “having a record deal’ means nowadays? Times have change, they say 🙂

Well, for physical items (vinyl and CD’s), it’s great! They manufacture everything, distribute our music to record shops, help with all the marketing and publicity that comes with it. On the digital end, they can get better placement in digital music retailers, but realistically… every artist can get their music on Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, etc.  

Honestly, the best part about having a label is having a team of people push our music to more potential fans. The grandeur that used to come with being on a label is gone, and that’s not a bad thing. The ‘old’ industry model was really only about 60 or 70 years old anyway. And, the whole point of being in a band is supposed to be about making music and reaching fans. I think that’s still possible.  

Is it tough to write a song like For Angels?

No, haha. I don’t know. I don’t know what you mean by tough? Some songs take longer than others to write, but this one wasn’t particularly more or less difficult than any other track on the record.  

For me, I have to see the song first, and the entirety of this song was pretty clear from the minute I saw it. All the songs are already there, my job is to chip away the material that doesn’t belong. I think I read that in a fortune cookie.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?


1) The Slider – T-Rex

2) Long Tall Sally – Little Richard

3) You Never Can Tell – Chuck Berry

4) Donna – Richie Valens

5) Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow – The Shirelles
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GREG POPE – Guiding Star (interview)

Someone just said to me the other day “You know this is your best album, don’t you?”. No actually.




Great reviews! How does that make you feel? Also a bit strange?

Honestly I think having my albums reviewed at all amidst the sea of releases coming out each year is a real honor. I have been completely surprised at the reactions to Guiding Star. Someone just said to me the other day “You know this is your best album, don’t you?”. No actually. I just thought it was my ‘next’ album. So it’s nice and a bit strange. 

Was there a specific moment when you knew you were on the right track, making a great album?
I’m constantly working on new material but there’s usually a point when I realize I’m actually working on an album as opposed to a handful of songs. But I never know what people are going to like or respond to. And one of the challenges for me is just to not worry about that and make the music that I’m hearing in my head. 

How did you record Guiding Star?
I do most of my recording at my home studio. It’s basically an upstairs bedroom in our house. I’ve done plenty of “proper studio” recording in years past but for some reason the stuff I record at home just seems to resonate more with people. I do things a bit unconventionally in that I almost always start by playing the drums. I don’t use a guide track or a click, I just sit down and play drums with the song in my head. Once I’m happy with that performance I lay in the other instruments and vocals. I typically work quickly and I use a pretty basic set up. It’s all a very low-fi endeavor.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?
I think the aspect that has effected artists like me is the access to listeners world wide. It’s fairly common for me to hear from listeners in other countries and that is so exciting to me. I suppose the negative is the fact that it’s easier to make and release recorded music which has made it tougher to be heard or noticed.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?
Ugh. I don’t like her already. Do I really have to go out with her again?? And how will I explain this to my wife? But seriously, mix tape of some of my favorites…I might include:

Can’t Stand Losing You (The Police)
It’s A Wonderful Lie (Paul Westerberg)
The Kids are Alright (The Who)
Another Nail For My Heart (Squeeze)
Death of the Party (Keene Brothers)

What are your expectations? How are you going to promote Guiding Star?
My band (Greg Pope & The Popmonsters) is doing a few shows in the Southeast this Fall and we’ll be doing material from Guiding Star, my previous releases, as well as songs from my former band Edmund’s Crown. I’ll also be releasing a video or two. Stay tuned. 

My blog: http://www.gregpope.net
website: http://www.popmonster.rocks
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ANDY BOPP – Blisters and Thorns (interview)

The new record has such a classy sound! Power Pop with more than just a little bit of twang and a crystal clear production that makes your voice/storytelling really stand out.

Does that make sense?

Yes it does make sense. The songs are not as much story telling as they are situational and metaphorical. There are pop sensibilities, choruses, hooks, but it’s an attempt to move forward musically.


Does inspiration still comes easy? It sounds like a very personal record. Is it?


Yes this is a very personal album. Inspiration always works for me when it’s not forced.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?



The music industry doesn’t exist as I knew it in the past. In a way it’s exciting to do the DIY form of working the album yourself. Facebook has helped tremendously with ads and communication to the public.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?



My songs or others?

My songs:

Good day to the Night

Crane

Lowe

Whisper Softly

Limousine 
Other artists tape:
Goldfinger: Ash

Dear God: XTC

Up the junction: Squeeze 

Joe Jackson: Sunday papers

Chelsea: Elvis Costello 

What’s up for the next couple of months? How will you promote Blisters and Thorns?



Trying to tour the US and Europe.
Self promotion with an emphasis on house concerts.

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The bio on bandcamp says:

Baltimore legend Andy Bopp is no stranger to rock and roll, whether as a solo artist or in his bands: Love Nut, Myracle Brah, The Modern Ruins and The Bleaker Street Cowboys. Blisters and Thorns, Andy Bopp’s first LP released under his own name that includes new material, stands as one of the best albums of a journeyman’s career. The album is as catchy as his masterpiece, Myracle Brah’s Life on Planet Eartsnop. What sets this album apart from Eartsnop’s brilliant power pop is the seamless blending of genres, such as americana and power pop, creating a gorgeous, cohesive rock and roll album with lyrics that range from darkly introspective to deeply analytical.

SOMERDALE – Shake It Maggie (interview)

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Somerdale about Shake It Maggie. Read what Chuck, James and JJ have to say about this Power Pop GEM!

You get great reviews and your songs get compared to Badfinger, Cheap Trick and Slade. Was that where inspiration came from?

Chuck: We are big fans of classic 1970s power-pop, so it’s no surprise this album keeps getting compared to bands like Badfinger and the Raspberries. We’re also big Beatles fans. To me, Badfinger always came across as a heavier and sadder version of The Beatles. I suppose that combination of heavy instrumentation and sad lyrical themes on this album is what generates all the Badfinger references.

 

James: I would humbly offer that Badfinger seems an obvious influence. I think a good amount of our inspiration is British Invasion meets The Beach Boys, but we also have more contemporary influences like Fountains of Wayne, Elliott Smith, and Guided by Voices.

 

JJ: I think The Raspberries, KISS, Sloan and Guided by Voices are more like it.

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?


Chuck: The entire process is fun: writing the songs, rehearsing the arrangements and then recording and mixing the tracks. However, for me, the most exciting moment of the “Shake it Maggie” sessions was the recording of those epic harmonies that open and close the album. The three of us were standing around a single microphone and layering all those lush vocals. When we finished, we listened to the playback and it was one of those “WOW” moments. There was this enormous sense of joy and accomplishment.

 

James: The many creative risks that were taken which felt right and turned out better than we expected. We also tapped into the resourcefulness of two great studio engineers (Matt Weber and Daren Wicks) who knew that their opinions and contributions were highly valued.  

 

JJ: Spending time with your friends and doing what you love to do. That’s the most fun.

 

If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?

Chuck: “Excuse Me.” The lyric is universal. Here’s a typical guy in a typical relationship making typical guy statements. “Baby, I’ve made mistakes. I’m not perfect. I’m sorry. Please, remember, our relationship is special and nothing is going to get in the way.” Every guy can relate to that, right?

 

James: “Shake It Maggie.” It shows the band’s deft balance with heavy and light. It has lots of rich vocals, and a great story to tell about someone working her ass off to make her way. It’s a ripper!

 

JJ: “JJ’s Theme Song.” It’s an old song of ours, written about me, and it pretty sums me up in 2 minutes.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

James: I think it has brought more global reach, which is pretty inspiring to a couple of guys from Southern New Jersey, USA.

 

Chuck: The music industry has changed for the better. Social media has helped SOMERDALE tremendously. There is a fanatical group of power-pop lovers out there. The band has picked up fans in the UK, Sweden, Spain, Australia, Brazil … the list goes on. Bands doing what we are doing aren’t limited to a hometown audience anymore. Look, you discovered us all the way over in the Netherlands!

An awful lot has changed between the first album and the new one, I guess.


Chuck: What has changed most since our 2006 debut release “Friday Nite in America” is that EVERYONE – the three members of the band and our super engineers (Matt Weber and Daren Wicks) – we all are paying more attention to EVERYTHING that goes into bringing a song to life. Everyone involved is thinking more like a record producer. Whether we are saying it out loud or not, everyone seems to be asking, “How does this lyric, this guitar tone, this harmony vocal, this keyboard part, etc… contribute to make this SONG better?” There is so much going on in a three-minute pop song, and every moment needs to count.

 

James: The band has matured through many experiences to write better and better songs. We know what it takes to write a good song and we have a much better sense of knowing how to execute it well in the studio.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?



James: Are you going for romance or for the thrill?

Shake It Maggie, Waiting for You, Sugar Valley California, Coolest Kid in the Room and The News.

 

JJ: My 5 songs would be:

Guided By Voices – Your name is wild

Sloan – If it feels good do it!

KISS – Dr. Love

Dr. Hook – A little bit more

School of Fish – Euphoria

 

Chuck: Luckily, I haven’t been on a second date in ten years. Next question!

What’s up for the next couple of months? How will you promote Shake it Maggie?

JJ: We’re currently in the studio cooking up a little holiday treat. We will keep pushing Shake it Maggie through the new year and hopefully get it pressed on VINYL!

 

James: New releases, festival shows and more writing and creating

 

Chuck: SOMERDALE has generated a ton of momentum in the past six months. The band wants to keep the ball rolling. We plan on releasing an original Christmas song this November, a few new singles in early 2017 and a compilation album with a cross section of old and new material in the summer of 2017. Stay tuned!

THE SOONEST – Doors to the City (interview)

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Sweet Sweet Music talked to Young Lee about Doors to the City.

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I think your music will get compared to the Editors and Echo & the Bunnymen (jangle guitars, beautiful melodies and this dark voice). And maybe to one of my 2015 faves Line & Circle. What do you think? 
I think it’s great. I love the sound of jangly guitars mixed in with dark effected instruments to create a dark sound so those comparisons are spot on. What’s funny is that for the longest time, I felt very self conscious of my voice as it’s not what you’d traditionally consider a good voice. Originally, I had imagined a very different singer singing the songs but it just never worked out that way and eventually I started becoming more comfortable singing the songs myself. I still don’t like hearing the sound of my own voice but I think that insecurity has helped me focus a lot on developing melodies that grow with each listen and also putting in interesting harmonies that I think i might not have put in if I felt that I had a killer voice. 


What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?
It was when we decided to record the album ourselves and found an old church in San Francisco that was open to letting us use it to do a lot of the recording. It was an awesome experience first walking into the tall wooden chapel area and setting up the drums right in the middle. Hearing the drums in that kind of room gave it a boomy echo and reverb that we had always tried recreating in the studio using effects but never really quite could get the vibe. Spending those days figuring out how to best mic the drums and having the time to do a bunch of test recordings for a couple days before doing the actual recordings was a huge learning experience and gave us a new appreciation of the recording process. 
If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?
On the album? My Thoughts Are Brave. My Words Are Slow. The whole album is based on a story of a man who gets a chance to relive his important moments of his life and has the opportunity to change things so lyrics are mostly fictional but this particular song is more personal in nature. I think the title describes me pretty well in terms of my reaction in tense situations and the internal dialogue I constantly have with myself. Instrumentally, it has some of my favorite moments of the album. That chorus at the end is quite satisfying for me. 
From any album? That’s tough. I’ve gone through so many phases and there are so many songs that defined me at those times. My favorite song of all time that I could listen to endlessly would be Sigur Ros – Sigur 8 (untitled). It’s an epic of a song that I wish I could write and pull off. The pacing of it, melodies, and epic ending is everything I want in a song. It’s ridiculously long at 11 minutes but I can’t imagine it any shorter.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?  
It’s brought us the ability to hear music from all parts of the world and also let people hear our own music. With how easy it is to find music now, I’ve been able to listen to so many new artists that before I wouldn’t have even heard about before and I think that’s such a valuable experience. One big change that has bummed me out a little is how many people have shifted away from listening to entire albums and instead to only select songs from different artists. I get why it’s moving in this direction but for me, especially with working on this album, I truly believe that listening through an entire album was the only way to really get to know an artist. It gives you a view into how the band or the artist works and their mindset. So much goes into not only writing the songs but also choosing which songs go on an album, what order the songs should go in, how to transition from song to song, etc. Writing a bunch of songs in itself is no easy task but I think when an album is done right, it’s a very special experience listening through it. Listening to singles only gives you a limited view of who that artist is and again at least for me, it feels a little superficial. 
She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

I am terrible at dating. Actually, I don’t know that for sure as I’ve only been in two serious relationships including the one with my wife but I’m fairly certain that if I was not married and was in the dating game, I’d fail miserably. On that note, my songs would be: 
Gallant – Weight in Gold 

The National – Slow Show

I’m going to cheat and choose the three songs from the wedding

Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else

Cut Off Your Hands – Happy As Can Be (actually not a romantic song but who cares?)

An unreleased The Soonest track that I wrote for her and gave to her for the wedding. 
What’s up for the next couple of months? How will you promote Doors to the City?

We will be doing some small shows around the West Coast and releasing some live videos! Being a very DIY band, we have to be a little patient with the pace of things so we’re hoping that the response to the album is positive and helps open some doors for us. We’re going to start writing some new songs as well as continue working on our other projects. I just wrapped up scoring a film (weavingshibusa.com) and hope to jump onto another one soon.