The Resonars – No Exit (Q&A)

 

AllMusic writes: No Exit is another home-cooked, perfectly baked album that fits right in with previous albums. It’s loaded with brilliant songs, from the jangly Byrds-ian “Days Fade Away” and heart-tugging minor-key ballad “Dull Today” to the pulse-quickening power pop rush of “Louise Tonight” and the beat-group peppy “Fell Into a World.” Rendon claims to have had something akin to writer’s block — which helps to account for the many-year gap between Resonars records — but by the time the tapes were rolling it’s clear he had conquered it. He certainly was in full control of the sound, too. Each song has an immediateness that’s welcome in an age of gauzy production techniques, the arrangements are simple but powerful, and the guitars have a majestic crunch and chime that is hard to get at any price point. Rendon seems unable to put a wrong foot forward, and even after doing basically the same thing for so many years, the Resonars have yet to sound even a little tired. No Exit can be counted among their best work, which is saying a lot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Matt Rendon.

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin? 

Well – I record every song written but half of them end up on albums. There is a downloadable album on the Resonars Bandcamp called Apostasy, Impatience, Power & Volume that is a collection of rejected songs.

 

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

 

Yeah, I’m never satisfied with my songwriting so I try to listen to as much new music and new old music as possible. Lately, I’ve been working on condensing songs and writing more inventive bridges so they keep your interest from the beginning to the end.

 

 

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As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

In the early days, it was not comfortable. Now that I’m older I’ve become more open and honest and I no longer give a shit.

 

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

None whatsoever haha.

 

 

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

 

Resonars played a show in a boat in Stockholm and it was Isaac’s birthday. We all got hopelessly drunk but played great and it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing a gig.

 

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

Never. I have thought ‘I just recorded a hit!’ though.

 

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Oh yeah – we have our own studio so that’s always easier.

 

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

For us, meaning the Midtown Island circle of bands, we have a very supportive, encouraging environment. Lenguas Largas, Freezing Hands, Free Machines, Sea Wren, Anchor baby, Resonars, Harsh Mistress – they’re all made up among the same 10-12 people and each one is a talented songwriter, so when somebody has an album full of songs, the others get behind the project. In fact – we just started a record label called Midtown Island so we can have complete control of the release process.

 

Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?

 

Always! It’s the only thing I know how to do.

 

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

I think sometimes people expect something different from us aesthetically because of the sound – like dressing in Beatle boots, fringe, and striped shirts. This was particularly apparent in Spain when we played the Purple Weekend festival – there were so many bands dressed in their late 60s regalia and we show up in jeans and t-shirts like we just got off work. People were taken aback by us.

 

We’re a bunch of hicks from Tucson who, while making music steeped in 1960s influence, are fully aware of the time in which we’re living. Our country is a fucking mess right now and has been for a while – how that’s affected the well-being of friends and family is the main source of both my songwriting and that of my friends.

 


 

Tucson, Arizona’s Matt Rendon has certainly done his homework. Over the course of 22 years and six albums as The Resonars (seven if you count the Butterscotch Cathedral album; a one-ff psychedelic magnum opus released in 2015) for labels like Get Hip & Burger, Rendon’s musical vision has remained unwavering; a paean to a lost-era of analog recording, whip-smart, dynamic songwriting, and soul-stirring anthems to ignite generations. “No Exit” is his latest album as The Resonars. 

“No Exit” kicks off with the epic clang of “Louise Tonight”, which merges dive-bombing guitar licks and bombastic drumming, hinting at the controlled chaos of a modern day Townshend/Moon. Elsewhere, “The Man Who Does Nothing” evokes the shimmering harmonies of The Hollies atop a persistent backbeat, and tunes like “Before You’re Gone” “Beagle Theory” sidle up to a dreamy kiwi-jangle strong enough to make Martin Phillips jealous. Conversely, tunes like side two’s “All Those Hats” rages with an amphetamine-laced melodic tension reminiscent of The Buzzcocks or The Undertones. Rendon has consistently proven to have a knack for an everyman style of songwriting that doesn’t seem rote or tired, lacing his melodic vocal harmonies with that melancholic joy omnipresent in the best numbers by bands like The Beach Boys, Big Star or even Simon & Garfunkel’s pop hits.

Rendon typically handles all aspects of Resonars albums from the recording & engineering (at his own Midtown Island Studios) to the performance of every instrument, but for “No Exit” he employs the help of some friends & colleagues; Resonars live drummer Johnnie Rinehart plays on half the tunes, while sometimes live members Ricky Shimo & Travis Spillers play bass & sing (respectively) on two numbers. Despite being the first Resonars album in 5 years, Rendon shows no signs of stopping; He’s a rock & roll lifer, having been raised in a musical environment & osmosis thru older sibling’s rock fandom. Once it’s inside you there’s no escape. “No Exit”, if you will. 

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David Brookings and the Average Lookings – Scorpio Monologue (Q&A)

 

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Watch, listen and Buy

 

hoponpowerpop.com writes about Scorpio Monologue: It’s gripping but it also makes you wish you were drinking something with an umbrella in it. I guess what I’m trying to say is if I were quarreling with a lover and trying to cheer myself up with a windows-down-solo-drive to the beach, this is the album I would blast the whole way and I would cry my eyes out with a big smile on my face. 

 

Sweet Sweet Music talked to David.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

For me, it is usually comfortable, yes. I’m pretty open with my feelings, but I think writing songs for so long has helped me to be in touch with my feelings, and with what I want to say. Every once in a while though, something will surprise me emotionally. I was recording vocals for ‘Rainbow Baby’ (on the new record), and it’s about my youngest daughter. I got a little choked up singing about her. So it took me a few different takes to get through it in the studio

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller?

 

Haha. I would settle for turning it into a 500 seller. My idea is that people have to give new bands a try. I’m not new. Scorpio Monologue is my 8th record. But I guarantee you I am new to most people – so they just have to give it a shot, and I think they might like it

 

 

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Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

I always say that recording is the easy part. The tough part comes after that once it is released and you’re trying to promote it / get people to listen to it, etc. But that’s where Sweet Sweet Music comes in, lol.

 

 

 

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

I love playing live because you never know what’s going to happen at a show. I don’t know how many people will show up on a given night, or what new friends we’re going to make afterward, or what new band we might like that is also on the bill with us. So its always a new adventure, plus we try to mix up the songs in the setlist, so that’s fun too

 

Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’?

 

My answer to ‘What are you doing?’ would be that I work on both sides of the music industry, b/c my day job is working in the digital music business, but my heart is in writing songs, putting out albums, and playing gigs. So I feel like I’m sort of a double agent who can appreciate both sides of the music business. Absolutely yes, I’m proud to be a musician, and I’m proud to work in the music industry in general.

 

 

 

The Bobbleheads – Myths and Fables (Q&A)

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The Bobbleheads are an indie pop-rock band, formed in 2003 in San Francisco, CA. Their sound is best described as upbeat,but sly, hard-hitting pop with melodies that stay with you for days. But don’t confuse catchy with kitchy, they turn a tad serious on their new album, Myths and Fables.   

 

John Ashfield explains.

 

For every song you record, how many end up in the bin?

 

Many songs are written and tried out by the band, but only a few get considered to be recorded. A lot of these songs are demoed at home, but just never get too far. When a song works it’s really clear. The ones that work get recorded.

 

 

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

Well yeah! You are always trying out a new idea or approach… in some ways its still a mystery if it’s actually gonna work. When it does it’s exciting!

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

No, it is not. Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million seller? HA!!!! Just you wait and see! It’ll be groovy.

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?

 

Every gig is exciting and new really. It sounds ridiculous to say that but for me it’s true. You always want to win the crowds attention and keep it.

 

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

I always think every new song is!! Every time! You get a little more critical as the days go on.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Oh yeah. So many people are making cool music. It’s impossible to keep up, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. I am really thankful when anyone pays attention to our music!

 

Which 5 records, that everybody forgot about, would define ‘our time’ on earth?

 

This is a hard one. Things in popular music and pop culture are so fragmented. I remember being a kid in the ’70s and ’80s and there were songs EVERYONE knew. Now even big hits can sail under the radar of many. So, instead, I will list 5 songs that define my time on earth at this very moment. In no particular order!!! “You’re So Good To Me” – The Beach Boys, “Eyes Of The World (live 1982)” – Fleetwood Mac, “Man Blir Yr” – Gyllene Tider, “Senses Working Overtime” – XTC, and… there is always some new song that grabs my ear for a week or so.

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

You get to experiment with sound! You get to try out ideas out and then hear the results straight away. When it doesn’t work, you know it quick! It’s like playing dress up.

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

It feels like magic, making all that sound. Seeing people react to it feels great Always proud to answer ‘I am a musician’ to the question ‘what are you doing?’? Oh yeah. No shame in being a musician ever. I’ve defined myself as one

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

I believe in the power of a great chorus…

Johnny Stanec – Things Were Better, When (Q&A)

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Seventh full-length solo record from Youngstown, OH’s Johnny Stanec. Featuring ten new songs and a more straightforward rock and roll sound. For fans of hooks and harmonies.

 

 

 

 

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

I think that songwriting is hopefully always something I’m getting better at doing. Every time I finish a song or a record, I hope I’m putting something different into it to set it apart from the previous ones. Even if what I’m putting into that song is that it feels like it happened naturally and wasn’t something forced. It’s hard to judge your own work, but I like to think that with every release I get a little better at what I’m trying to do. I’ve released music at a pretty steady pace for the last twelve years, so I hope it’s a gradual incline as far as quality goes. I’d be happy if that never changes.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

Not really. I mean, I’ve written songs that are lighthearted and uptempo, which go down a lot easier than the songs that I’ve written that are slow, dark and acoustic; so it just depends. I just hope that whatever the case is, that the songs come across as honest and something people can relate to. It will always be weird waiting for some kind of reaction to a new record or trying to win over a crowd for the first time, but it’s something I like doing, so it’s just part of it.

 

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Absolutely, yes! There are just so many people trying to get your attention now that if anyone listens, it’s an accomplishment. I’ve never had a label or booking agent or any type of assistance getting my songs out there, so it’s always uphill. I suppose every time I release something there is a slightly larger group of people interested in it than the one before, but unless there happens to be some kind of breakthrough, it will always be difficult.

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

Every now and then you’ll be sitting around, strumming some chords and then all of a sudden you hear something in your head. Even though you’ve played those same four chords a million times, you hear them differently and a melody comes out. When that happens, it’s a good feeling. When I started writing for this last record (Things Were Better, When) I went into it with a few songs already written, but as they were being arranged it opened up some new ideas and then I wrote nearly all of the record in a few weeks. I can’t say if any of them are hits, but there is definitely something fresh about this set of songs. They were arranged with a band instead of just in my own head, so that definitely made a difference. The drumming is also very driving and gives the tunes movement. That’s a big factor. They sound urgent and immediate. None of them are longer than three minutes, which is a first for me. People should check them out!

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

I think lyrics, in general, are what set all songs apart. There are plenty of people who can come up with some kind of melody or arrange a song in some way, but it’s hard to fake lyrics. When the lyrics are weak, the song suffers. I like to think that I write better than average lyrics, so I hope people pay attention if they ever listen to my songs. Not everything has to be a massive statement of importance, but at least the lyrics need to be clear and clever. Something that shows the writer cares about what they are doing. If you can manage that, then that’s at least something to hang your hat on at the end of the day.