Dave Cope and the Sass – s/t (Q&A)

If it had been John Lennon and Eric Carmen who had gathered a group of songwriters around Laurel Canyon and not, for example, Joni Mitchell and David Crosby, then ‘Dave Cope and the Sass’ could have been made in the early 1970s .

The album is completely new and now we have trouble sticking a label on it. It is pop, westcoast, rock, gospel, etc., a mix that was common at the time, now this album is a special case. But it is also special because of the diversity of the songs, which are also all of high quality.

And I will make it even more complicated, if ‘Dave Cope and the Sass’ is ever transformed into a musical then it won’t surprise me either.

Your music gets compared to Big Star and The Raspberries. Were that your musical influences for this record?

This record was influenced by events and developments in my personal life guided by the musical aesthetic of 60s and 70s British and American rock, power pop and folk music.

Specifically, some of my biggest influences through the years have been The Beatles, David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Funkadelic, The Zombies and The Kinks (in addition to Big Star and the Raspberries as you mentioned).

 

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How did the album come together?

 

This album came together as a result of an early project I did known as Dave Cope and the English Breakfast. That project garnered great interest from a patron of the arts who basically gave us a one-album record deal to create another album similar to the English Breakfast stuff.

 

Most of the Dave Cope and the Sass album was recorded in my little home studio with me singing into a Neumann microphone, playing a Fender Stratocaster, a Les Paul Studio, or a Martin D 28 acoustic guitar, some bass (I play bass on a couple of the recordings), and various keyboard/midi parts played directly into Protools. After the initial tracks were completed, Ethan Rider (the bassist for most of the album) came over and knocked out his parts.

 

Then we went into Spice House Sound, a fabulous studio here in Philadelphia run by Alex Santilli, where our drummer, Fred Berman, tracked the drum parts ( I ended up playing drums on “High” but Fred handles the rest). We mixed the record at Spice House Sound and had it mastered by Ted Jensen. Hannah Taylor, a brilliant musician and artist living in Philadelphia did the cover art.

 

 

Seeing Things, that is such an amazing song. When and how did you realize you were up to something?

 

Seeing Things was written over the course of many years. I think I had the initial idea in 2008, maybe earlier, when I came up with the first part of the song. The form was different (the present chorus did not yet exist – just that first verse melody repeating over and over) To be honest, that old version was a bit boring and I wasn’t that excited about most of the tune at that moment. I left it alone for a long time.

 

Years later, when I came back to it, somewhat by accident, I had the proper perspective (and romantic inspiration) to finish it. So it was a combination of an initial spark that was left to simmer for a while, and the passing of time plus new muses and experiences.

 

Easy to imagine that Seeing Things, as From the Moment …, will be picked up by a gospel choir?

 

That would be very interesting if Seeing Things or From The Moment were performed by a gospel choir. I’d love to hear that! Who knows? 🙂

 

Now you get picked up by the Power Pop community. As expected?

 

I’m very happy to have been picked up by the Power Pop community. I’m happy that it’s found a home among fans of music that I’m a fan of too. I’m grateful that people are listening and enjoying this music in a time when this type of music isn’t really played too much on the radio or elsewhere.

 

There are so many options and styles out there these days, I wasn’t sure if this album would find a home. Most of all I’m glad it’s reaching people no matter the genre in which its classified. We’re just trying to spread some love with music and are thrilled to be able to have the chance to do so regardless of how people label the style.

 

Does that easy-going sound come naturally to you? What will 2020 look like for you?

 

Sometimes the easy-going sound comes naturally. Sometimes I have to work at it to get it just right. I’ve been writing songs for a while now so I have certain techniques and methods that have been improved upon over the years. Those techniques can really help in the writing process but it’s the presence of true inspiration that can make the difference between something that’s just ok and something that’s really cool.

So sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it takes a lot of work and maybe time and perspective to get the desired result.

 

What will 2020 look like for you?

2020 we’re playing a lot of gigs in our area and will hopefully play out elsewhere. We’re also going to go back in the studio and do some more recording. I’ll keep you posted…we have some new singles that we’d love to get out there as soon as possible. And as always, I’ll keep writing and trying my best to make good songs.

 

 

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Sweet Sweet Music’s Top 13 2019

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  1. Tullycraft – The Railway Prince Hotel

If the makers of Sesame Street ever decide to make a special episode for gifted children with a very good sense of humor, they should ask Tullycraft to make the songs for this. That may be a strange compliment, but just like that episode, the music from Tullycraft, and therefore also the songs on The Railway Prince Hotel, is quirky, unaffected, clever and without unnecessary frills.

Sean Tollefson and the other members of Tullycraft create a world of their own, (also) like Sesame Street. Anyway, go and see for yourself and be amazed how Billy Joel, Meat Loaf and Heavy Metal are part of something that they have nothing to do with at first sight. The Cat’s Miaow in a Space Suit, Midi Midinette, and Lost Our Friends to Heavy Metal are the highlights.

  1. Ronny Tibbs – Lone Fry

The first very good pop album of 2019 was Lone Fry from Ronny Tibbs. Lone Fry does not sound like a complete whole and that is not surprising because Tibbs recorded the songs he had written in recent years. This results in a good-tasting mix that sometimes sounds like 10CC, sometimes as Neil Finn, Joe Jackson, The Divine Comedy or (even) an obscure French electro-pop duo. 30-Year Old Boy, Mona Lisa and Watching Annie Over are the songs that you should definitely hear.

  1. Paulusma – Somehow Anyhow

Jelle Paulusma has toured the Netherlands a lot in recent years with Her Majesty, a CSN & Y tribute group, but he is best known as a singer and songwriter for Daryll-Ann (1988 – 2004).

Somehow Anyhow is his fifth solo album and, just like the four above, this one is again full of beautiful indie pop, worked out to perfection, with great guitar work, in a while-my-guitar-gently-weeps- kind of way. If you like Bent van Looy’s piano, you will like Paulusma’s guitar. Say Goodbye has a wonderful solo and Singer Without Song is the hit with the catchy chorus.

  1. Telekinesis – Effluxion

Michael Benjamin Lerner started out writing pure Power Pop melodies. Check out his debut, Telekinesis !. His music has evolved but he still writes catchy pop songs but he has now spit out the bubblegum. Effluxion was released early in the year. Now it’s December and I’m still playing the record. That doesn’t happen to me very often. I would put Cut The Quick in the jukebox. Power Pop mixed with a little synth-pop / electronica.

  1. Project: Ghost Outfit – Project: Ghost Outfit

Project: Ghost Outfit is Adam Shoenfeld, Bill Lloyd, Tom Petersson, and Keith Brogdon. They write that they are influenced by ’60s and ’70s classic rock and pop. This makes them their own inspiration. Funny. 7 songs, no bullshit, all 7 better than just about anything you’ve heard this year. Somebody’s Heart is the best. That is an ‘Instant Classic’.

  1. Taylor Knox – Here Tonight

The discussion, within the Power Pop community, whether The Cars is Power Pop or New Wave, will never end. Totally unimportant of course but nice. In the same way, we could all worry whether Taylor Knox is Power Pop or Synth Pop? On Here Tonight, Knox’s 2nd full record, you can hear both genres.

Speaking of The Cars, I can imagine that Ric Ocasek would have liked to produce the heavier, Weezer-like tracks, such as Little Creature and Happening. He didn’t do that, of course, and maybe that’s a good thing, there is now some air left between the notes and that does Knox’s music a lot of good.

Be sure to listen to City at Night, The Trees and the aforementioned Litte Creatures.

  1. The Warhawks – Never Felt So Good

I like it when it is not entirely clear to me whether I am listening to a Punk Rock band or a Power Pop band. Last year Culture Abuse brought me this wonderful confusion, this year it’s The Warhawks. Fierce melodies and innocent harassment go hand in hand. Nine songs that make me jump every time I hear them. And I hear them a lot. Miracle, Your Touch, and Nothing To Do are irresistible. Irresistible!

  1. More Kicks – More Kicks

‘British Invasion played with a Punk Rock attitude’. It has been done many many times before. Still, if done right it is irresistible. More Kicks, a trio (Sulli – vox/guitar; Kris – drums; Paolo – bass/vox) from London, does it right. 11 short songs and an intro, what more do you want? Nothing! Whatever may happen, at least listen immediately to You Left a Stain on Me, She’s a Reaction and the superior Ain’t That Just the Way.

  1. Johnny Stanec – Things Were Better, When

Johnny Stanec should be the talk of the town. Things Were Better, When contains 10 songs and all ten are extremely good. It’s all about ‘harmonies and hooks’, comparable to, for example, the music of Nick Piunti, although Stanec is and sounds a lot younger. It is fresh, it is sparkling and irresistible. A lot of beautiful songs have been written this year, but I seldom heard 10 in a row on 1 record. Things Were Better, When is such a record. One to cherish.

  1. Extra Arms – Up From Here

“Lost my wife, lost my house, lost my …”. Ryan Allen pretty much lost everything he loved. Not so strange that he sounds pissed off. He does not hide his own misery. On Up From Here, you hear no restrained anger. A year-long setback results in eight super powerful songs.

Yes, Extra Arms sounds like The Replacements but I can never quite sit out a record of The Replacements and I have listened to Up From Here endlessly over the last few months. F.L.Y. (Fuck Last Year) is a confession that you must have heard and the title track should be a hit. That is the first and the last song respectively, but everything in between is certainly just as good.

  1. The Resonars – No Exit

You don’t hear that much real Garage Rock anymore. The term is often used but just as often it turns out to be about 10 polished songs. No Exit is a Garage Rock record. Garage Pop maybe. Garage Power Pop is perhaps the best description.

Matt Rendon is a more self-confident person. You hear on No Exit that he does what he likes best. And why shouldn’t he? He writes one catchy melody after the other. Very good is good enough and much better was not made in 2019. Gone Is The Road and Before Your Gone are huge outliers but they are only slightly better than the other 9 songs. Fantastic!

  1. Anyway Gang – Anyway Gang

Sometimes you want to roll through the snow in your bare ass, other times you prefer to put on that comfortable old winter coat that has just returned from your dry cleaner. Listening to Anyway Gang feels like putting on that jacket.

This supergroup from Canada delivers a great album. The nine songs together form a feast of recognition. Power Pop, Indie Pop, and a little McCartney. Last year you heard on Sloan’s 12 that four different songwriters can push each other to new heights, which is also happening here. The differences take care of the whole.

Anyway Gang consists of Sam Roberts, Menno Versteeg of Hollerado, Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club and Chris Murphy of Sloan. I mean, that’s a real supergroup. Anyway Gang, that is both the name of the band and the name of the record, is great. 2019 was not my favorite Power Pop year but this record makes up for a lot, maybe everything.

  1. White Reaper – You Deserve Love

White Reaper is touring Europe in the spring of 2020 as the support act for Pearl Jam. That might be an example of how ambitious the band is. Another example of this was the title of their previous album: The World’s Best American Band, with the fabulously beautiful Little Silver Cross. That was also a great album. At that time White Reaper sounded like The Strokes on steroids. That sound has largely disappeared on You Deserve Love. I don’t think White Reaper will promote itself as a Power Pop band, but they are, and a very good one, perhaps the very best at the moment. At least they have made my favorite record of the year. This is how Cheap Trick would have sounded if Rick Nielsen was still in his mid-twenties. Real Long Time, 1F, and Might Be Right are three songs that define the power of Power Pop for me. It is catchy, good, tight, hard and incredibly melodic.

Taylor Knox – Here Tonight

‘Here Tonight’ sees Taylor Knox continue his power pop arc; crunchy, loud guitars mixed with powerful drums and catchy, anthemic hooks.

If you decide to listen to only one song today, let it be ‘Little Creature‘!

 

cover-here-tonight

 

How did this record come together?

 

About a month after I released my last record “Love” I started recording new songs. First I recorded songs at a studio in Toronto called Candle with producer Josh Korody, then I went down to LA and recorded some songs with Rob Schnapf producing. I play most of the instruments myself. Usually, the drums first but not always. A couple songs on this record I recorded the guitars to a drum loop and then did the drums after.   I’m always writing new songs so I just try to capture the ones I’m most excited about as I go along the best I can.  I try not to think about it too much, just do what feels good and sounds good.  Once I have enough good ones I put ’em out.

 

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

I started playing them for other people once I had around 10 or so started. Mostly playing for musician friends seeing what they liked and what they didn’t like.

 

 

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

 

I usually start between 5 and 10 other songs that don’t make the record in the end.  But don’t worry all of the best ones end up on the record. That ties into the last question cause I can’t always tell which ones of my songs are good so I rely on my trusted friends and producers to help me out with that part.

 

 

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

 

No, it’s awful! haha But it’s true that the more of your emotions you can share, the more people will connect to the humanity behind it and that’s what is the best thing about music.  So I try to not get in the way of expressing something real.

 

 

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

 

We had a really fun gig a couple of years ago at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg. We played in a cool basement at a bar called Molotov and it was packed and loud and sweaty and all the best things about a great live show. Also it was down the street from where the Beatles used to play in Hamburg so that was extra fun for us.

The Junior League – Adventureland (Q&A)

THE JUNIOR LEAGUE is the name under which singer/songwriter/ performer Joe Adragna works.

Adventureland is a rock album with great songs. Such a record that makes you move differently, that makes your day better … !

 

 

‘The influence of an assortment of bands ranging from the Sonics to the Troggs to Ram Jam to the Knack to the Fleshtones aren’t difficult to detect on Adventureland. But by breathing fresh air into the songs, the Junior League makes vintage genres new again. Here’s an album all good rockers should add to their collections.’, writes Something Else

‘Overall the songs are short and sweet, but most of all they are meant to be played loud.’, says PowerPopaholic.

 

JOEJL

 

 

How did this record come together?’, 

Over me. No sorry, that was a cheesy Beatle joke.

I had a bunch of songs I was working on, but it seemed a bit all over the place. Many of the songs were more in the vein of “Eventually Is Now”, the last record I put out. However, I had just as many short rock songs. I thought it would be good to take all the short rock songs and put them together. I had this picture I had taken of a Zipper ride, and I thought it would be cool to make a pop-rock lp that was the aural equivalent of a ride. Hence, “Adventureland”.

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

I send them to three people, usually. These three friends are people whose opinion I really trust and I know they will give me feedback. If they think it’s cool, it gives me a lot of confidence. Now generally, I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do–but I do enjoy having these three particular people who I respect and like a ton check it out.

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

A few for sure. I’d say there are always five or six per record that never get finished because I realize they are absolute crap.

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

Yeah, I’d say so. I think I’m becoming better at doing what I want to do. When I started with Catchy, I was riding a wave of excitement and made choices that, if I could rerecord some of the songs, might not have made. But it’s all part of the process. I think everyone wants to get better as they go along, and I think I have….

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

Well, sometimes. The songs aren’t usually about me, and in fact, a lot of them are about other people or situations that I sort of imagine myself in. I tend to write using first person a lot so it seems like it’s about me. I know which ones are and aren’t! But I do suppose that all of them because they have my take on those situations, expose my emotions to a degree. If they are about me, they tend to be about things that happened ages and ages ago, back when I was younger. I’m still working all that out, hahaha.

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

Sharing this interview with as many people as I can on social media

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

I have had many memorable gigs I have attended and played, but I have to say that playing with The Minus 5 this last summer was one of the best times I ever had on stage. Perhaps the gig I will most remember is playing with Scott McCaughey as a duo opening for Jeff Tweedy back in 2007 or 8. He asked me to play with him and I remember I just rehearsed my ass off for weeks to make sure I had everything right because as it was a duo, I really had to have my stuff together and I didn’t want to let him down. That was really amazing, those two shows. We sounded really good and I was happy I did a good job. I was very proud, actually! I always enjoy playing with Scott because he is the greatest personally and musically, and I was (and remain) terribly proud and privileged to do so. As far as JL shows? Probably opening for the Lemonheads, because I think Evan Dando is a top songwriter and singer.

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

A month ago. But my idea of “hits” is so far out of reality that it’s comical. I think Adventureland has loads of “hits” on it, waiting to be hits! Hahahaha.

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

Absolutely. I record all the time. I have another record about halfway done right now! But does anyone care? And I think you have to resign yourself to that if you are in my position. I do this because I have to. It is who I am, and I do it regardless of whether people will listen or not. I will say that things like this blog and other people who spread the word via reviews and such help out such a great deal, and I am grateful for that. I think that there is so much music out there, and everyone has the technology to record…I mean, you can make a record on your iPhone if you want. Think about how much music is thrown out there all the time…who can wade through all that? A lot of things get lost in the shuffle. I think the people who are really good self-promoters do well. I see that sort of thing all the time, and I wish I had that skill. I just don’t. I’m not too good about saying, “Hey! I’m great! Listen to me!” I just sort of quietly sit in the corner and whisper, “I have a new record out if you’d maybe like to hear it” hahahaha.

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 don’t know. I know when I listen to, let’s say, Sloan, I hear great playing, great arrangements and production, great singing, and great lyrics. Consistently. All the time. I also feel like I’m hearing all of my favorite bands and music in one convenient package. I’d settle for ONE of those things when people listened to my records, hahahaha. I just hope the people who buy it enjoy it. I can’t ask for more than that.

Cromm Fallon – Electric Bloom (Q&A)

 

‘While it’s certainly a varied album, garage is the overriding vibe throughout and is offered up with asserted confidence by Fallon’s casually delivered snarl. Tracks such as ‘East Bay’, and the leading single from the album, ‘Scars from You’, present the familiar tones of that low-slung classic American garage sound, reminiscent of some Iggy Pop, maybe with touches of Velvet Underground which regularly pop up throughout the record.’, writes RPM Online.

 

Sweet Sweet Music spoke with Cromm about his GREAT new record.

 

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How did this record come together?

 

This record came together after I released my first single on Rum Bar Records. After playing in various bands, my former bandmate and friend of mine, Aly (RIP), suggested I go solo. With the positive reception I received from the single from various sites and magazines, I had to focus on releasing what I would want for a perfect debut album. With my drummer, Aaron Archer, I was able to hit the studio and lay down some songs I already had written while writing new ones in the process. The songs you hear on the record span years of my songwriting from when I was 19 to a month before the album was finished.I didn’t go into the album wanting to be genre-specific so that’s why you hear elements of lots of types of rock n roll.

 

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Playing music in front of a crowd, what’s the fun about?

 

Playing music live is honestly one of the greatest feelings ever. I can forget about any sort of bullshit going on in life for those 30-40 minutes I’m onstage. Plus while I’m up there, I’m going to put on a show and go all out. Our live shows are more intense, louder, and noisier than the recordings for sure. I always look forward to touring, so book me and I’ll play your town.

 

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

 

Oh yes, for sure. There’s always room to try new things out. I already have new ideas for my next album that will include even more powerpop elements as well as some post-punk and soul in there. The more I write, the more I can expand these ideas.

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Oh definitely. Anyone has the ability to record an album and release it on all streaming sites. There’s so much music out there, and I’m always trying to seek it, but sometimes hard to find due to so many types of podcasts, blogs, streaming sites, etc. I feel like I’ve only listened to a fraction of some of the great new music that’s been put out even this year.

 

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

 

I’d be satisfied even 1,000 people gave the entire album a full listen. If you’re reading this, check the album out and see if you dig it!

 

 

Bryan Estepa – Sometimes I just don’t know (Q&A)

 

 

 

How did this record come together?

 

My current band of Russell Crawford (Drums), Brian Crouch (Keys), Dave Hatt (Guitars) and Dave Keys (Bass) reunited back in April 2018 after 2 years of me playing as Bryan Estepa & The Tempe Two. Though we have been playing as a band since 2013, we have actually never recorded as this lineup before. I was stunned at this so wanted to fix it asap. We jammed on a few of my new tunes and the chemistry was still there. We laid down a few of them, not so much to start a new album but just so we can have a permanent reminder of this great band’s sound. From there the album started to take shape.

 

 

 

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

 

It’s never completely comfortable for me but most songwriters draw on personal experiences and what is happening around them so its part of the process. Good or bad.

 

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

 

I’ll never forget watching You Am I play a blinder of a show at Selenas (Sydney) in 1998 and being completely in awe and reaffirmed how much I wanted to be a musician. Life-changing. Also can’t go past the 2 back to back shows of McCartney here in Sydney a few years back. Was a real dream come true to finally watch my hero play.

 

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

 

Funnily enough, that wasn’t too long ago. I wrote a song for a good friend of mine and after I heard her do it with her band, I started thinking that this could be a country radio hit! One can only dream, right?

 

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

 

I’m not sure if these records have been completely forgotten but I’ll flip this question a bit and give you 5 of the zillion albums that have defined ‘my’ time on earth (Note – this list changes on a daily basis!):

Revolver – The Beatles

Hi-Fi Way – You Am I

AM – Wilco

Greatest Hits – Wings

Either/Or – Elliott Smith

 

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?

 

My songs don’t really break new grounds, but I like to think of myself as someone who respects the art and process of songwriting. So my aim is to write honest and melodic songs that hopefully strike a nerve with someone somewhere in this world.

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club – End Over End (Q&A)

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Power Popaholic writes: Wow – if you like Cheap Trick, The Cars, Sloan or Matthew Sweet then you NEED to hear The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club. Power Pop Bliss!

And this is really not the only rave review. End To End is a great record.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke with William Giricz, lead singer / guitarist / producer for the album.

 

How did this record come together?

 

End Over End was blood sweat and tears figuratively speaking. A long and tortuous process in some ways, there were some songs in development even prior to finishing the previous album. Everything seemed to have to go through some evolution or other.

When there were 10 strong songs, it was time to hunker down and bring them to completion. From writing to production, there is a slurry transition, but there comes a time when the producer hat gets securely strapped on, and that’s when a lot of decisions are finalized.

When we finally put the album up on our Bandcamp page, Spotify, iTunes, etc. we had the collective sentiment ‘yeah; we’re really happy with this album’. But one of the most rewarding ways to listen has been dropping the needle on the vinyl version, pressed by Chicago’s very own, Smashed Plastic (and…shameless plug…available on our Bandcamp page).

 

 

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

We felt we had a good batch of strong songs as End Over End started to come together, so most of the feedback we sought was after the fact. We requested the opinion of our label, Big Blast Records, and a couple of close musical friends, as to which songs sounded the strongest.

We had various responses, but it seemed that “Christine You’re Mean” and “Starpower” drew the most immediate reaction. We’ve also had great feedback from some talented individuals who appreciated the more musically complex but equally hook-driven “Delusional In Love”.

 

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

 

There were about 10 tracks that were just about complete (and still may be seen in some other capacity at some point, perhaps a B-sides or something) that ended up falling just short. Other than that, there were tons of ideas ranging from little tidbits and riffs to bigger more formed concepts…I can’t tell you how many ideas of various kinds start as and often die as a crappy phone recording.

 

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

 

Liverpool…The Cavern Club! For us it was an adventure to a rock mecca with so much history, it really was incredible to be around these places where The Beatles cut their teeth as a young band. And, as we happily witnessed, Liverpudlians still have a love affair with rock and roll and powerpop in particular. By the end of what was referred to afterword as a “blistering set”, we felt we had connected in a real and meaningful way with these knowledgeable rock n rollers. What a blast that was!

 

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

 

The track “Get Up Get Up” fits the bill. There are some easily relatable themes lyrically, and the guitar in the verses became this central big Beatles-y hook. Put this together with a really positive message, and I think you have something that most people can get into.

I feel that “Here Is Today” fits here as well, a mountain of a song with some powerful lyrics and a dynamic middle eight, harmonies that rise and dive in majestic fashion. The catch is that it is deeper into the album, so it will require a little spotlight to guide listeners in that direction. We hope to somehow light the way.

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

I am a studio rat. The others in the band love it as well, but I can and do routinely geek out in the studio. I love the entire process of writing, recording/engineering, mixing, and production. For me, and I’d say for The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club collectively, all of these aspects of the song are really integral and interrelated. Mastering, however, is the magic we leave for the extremely skilled witch-doctors who practice such voodoo.

 

The Vapour Trails – See You in the Next World (Q&A)

The Vapour Trails are an Aberdeen based band influenced by their love of 60’s
stalwarts like the Beatles, the Byrds, Love, Buffalo Springfield, the Who and the
Kinks. You’ll also hear a healthy dose of later bands like the La’s, Stone Roses,
Rain Parade and the Smiths.
The Trails were formed in 2017 by father and son songwriters Kevin and Scott
Robertson. Kevin taught young Scott some guitar basics, who quickly surpassed
his dad’s meager guitar skills and set into his record collection for inspiration.
Before too long the two started writing songs, and the Vapour Trails were born.
The VT’s became complete with the addition of the indispensable Nicholas
Mackie on guitar and co-vocals, old friend Kenny Munro on drums, and the
newest Trail Chuck Milne adding his groovy bass to the mix.

BUY (FutureManRecords)

 

 

 

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

My son Scott and I write the songs for The Vapour Trails. Initially we record them as demos and store them on SoundCloud.  I can honestly say we waste nothing. Songs can always be improved or altered as time goes by. Sometimes a song sounds great from day one but in some cases, you need to go back to the recorded demo and enhance it. An example of this in our band is the title track from our new album ‘See You in the Next World’. Two separate unfinished ideas, one from me and one from Scott, were merged together to create one cool track. Nothing’s wasted!

When was the last time you thought “I just wrote a hit”?

Songs should always live up to a bands or songwriter’s own personal standards that will differ band to band or songwriter to songwriter. Our standards are set based on melody. We don’t strive to write hits but we believe all our songs are melodic and tuneful. All our songs are potential hits in our own minds haha. Maybe some other people would think they are good enough to be hits, who knows!

Is recording a record easier than getting heard these days?

Making music is at musician’s fingertips more than ever these days. Computer-based daws and plugins are easy to find and are pretty affordable. Talent is still required though to make good songs and most people need help with mixing, mastering, artwork, etc in order to make a full record. There are those who do the whole thing themselves but most need help. As for being heard, it’s hard without backers. Record labels, promoters, radio stations, etc are attracted to good tunes. I think the answer is to get good at the song making and along with a little luck, it will become easier to get heard.

 

Playing music in front of a crowd, what’s all the fun about?

Because Scott and I are songwriters who play in a band who play to crowds often, from the first note of every song written you’re wondering how it will sound live. Creating little symphonies in your head and imagine what it will sound like within a full band setting is part of the fun. The buzz comes the very first time you play a new song to a crowd. Gauging the response, feeling the tune click in a live setting and just getting the tune ‘out there’ is the final chapter in the whole process. The other buzz we get from playing to a crowd is that often crowd members dance to our music. We are like a 60’s dance band living in the 21st century haha!

With every song you write are you still learning to become a better songwriter?

The answer is a huge YES. Scott and I are always striving to get better at playing and writing songs. The day you think you know it all is the day you should look in the mirror and draw a letter ‘P’ on your forehead, ‘P’ for pretentious. I have so many heroes in music and to write one song anywhere near their standard would be the ultimate musical achievement.

 

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released August 2, 2019

The Vapour Trails is:

Scott Robertson – 12 string guitar, 6 string guitar, vocals, bass, keys
Kevin Robertson – Vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica, keys
Nicholas Mackie – Vocals, rhythm Guitar
Andrew Crossan – Bass
Kenny Munro – Drums

Like an upside-down version of the honky-tonk thing where the fiddle plays a higher harmony with the dark twangy Telecaster

 

THE ARMOIRES return with their keenly-awaited second album ZIBALDONE.  Sweet Sweet Music talked to the Burbank, CA band’s co-leaders Christina Bulbenko (vocals, keys) and Rex Broome (vocals, guitar).

LISTEN and BUY

 

 

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Things change. What’s happened since the recording of the last record and how did it influence the new one?

 

Absolutely everything changed. That’s true in so many ways, but to limit it to where The Armoires are as a band in this world… we released our first album in 2016 almost into a vacuum. We were totally unknown. It seems odd, because outside of the band we (Christina and Rex) have since then become fairly well known within the guitar pop community for all of the various things we’ve done as Big Stir, and while the band has played live a lot, there weren’t many recordings going out… we were working on what would become Zibaldone and Side Three but definitely wanted them to arrive as singular works that summed up the band as it is now.

 

The biggest influence of everything that changed over that time was becoming part of that community and having adventures within it. That’s apparent both in the large list of guests on the album and the lyrics which are often celebrations of our journey and our fellow travelers. The album is awash in the talent and wisdom of people we hadn’t even met when we did the first one but now seem like lifelong friends. That goes from Steven Wilson (Plasticsoul) who produced it with as much love and care as if it were his own record to the total heroes of ours who sing and play on it and give it so much texture. But we’ve also got the experience of having the same live band and doing a lot of live shows, so that maybe paradoxically it sounds so much more like “us” than anything we’d done before.

 

Your sound is different. You use the instruments a bit different than others in the genre? Is that what sets you apart?

 

Right, we aren’t a two-guitar four-piece! So many of our favorite bands are, but as a collective, we sort of feel a calling to do something a little different that plays to our strengths as individual musicians – consider The New Pornographers and The Go-Betweens as very key influences there. The guitar is prominent but there’s less of it than you might think and a lot of our new songs follow our live sound in that there’s only one guitar track or at most an overdubbed solo… the keys and vocals fill in a lot of the space.

 

The two cornerstones of our sound are both happy accidents. Christina and Rex’s individual voices are very different and oddly in similar ranges, so they blend in some pretty unique ways and discovering that is what got us started. The other accident is that early on, Larysa, Christina’s daughter, jumped into the band on viola, which aside from John Cale in the Velvet Underground is an uncommon instrument for rock bands – it’s lower and richer than a violin – and Rex plays almost exclusively electric 12-string, which is higher and brighter than most guitars. We really worked on the chemistry between the two and sort of invented a sound that is, at least formalistically, like an upside-down version of the honky-tonk thing where the fiddle plays a higher harmony with the dark twangy Telecaster. Which would have been a brilliant idea if we’d actually done it on purpose… but we think we’ve refined it into a secondary sonic signature that we really like.

 

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The new songs are always the best ones. What’s the best example of that? And why?

 

The Armoires had a lot of songs from the beginning, basically like 40 tunes that Rex and Christina had worked up to greater or lesser degrees, and only 12 made it onto our first album. The idea for the second record was to very quickly bash out the remainder of our live set in the studio for maximum immediacy, in the manner of some of our very favorite sophomore albums. But obviously, we took three years to finish it instead! And in that time naturally, new things took shape.

 

So the new recordings are a mixture of songs of wildly varying vintages that seemed to fit together sonically and thematically, although some are over a decade old (“Pushing Forty” shows its age as we’re both well past that mark!) and things that weren’t even written when we started recording, like the “travelogue” songs that bookend the record (“Appalachukraina” and “When We Were In England (And You Were Dead)”. We decided as we went along that songs, like wines, cheese, and people, mature at different rates and these were the ones that made sense together… some others still needed a little time to decide what they wanted to be when they grew up. They’ll show up on the next record, along with even fresher stuff, and we imagine that’s how we shall proceed from here on out… it’s just nice to imagine a future where we get to do that and have the panic of “what if we only ever get to do one album?” behind us!

 

What’s up for the second part of 2019?

 

Touring, although perhaps less than we originally envisioned… that may wait until next Spring if our current plans come together. Waiting to see how this baby is received by an audience we didn’t have last time around. And the promotional push that we’ve given to the other artists on Big Stir Records while crafting Zibaldone and waiting for our own turn. In every way 2019 will wind up being a watershed for the band and the label and we’re in the thick of it right now… we won’t really understand what’s going on now until the end of the year, and then we’ll have to sit down and figure out what just happened to us!

 

How easy is it to stay focused on your own music when Big Stir is growing and growing?

 

It’s both challenging and beneficial, really. Challenging in that, although we’re always together working on the community and business side of things, it’s easy to just think “we need to work on our own stuff but that can wait until tomorrow after we mail this bunch of records out and finish our pieces for Big Stir Magazine or do the press release for the next band in the Singles Series or”… it’s a long list. But at the same time being at the center of a community of great bands and writers and performers is VERY good for us… there’s a high standard to meet and when you’re on a label with Amoeba Teen or In Deed, you don’t want to come up short and look like the only reason your band is getting a release is because the singers own the business!

 

Inspiration is therefore always close at hand… we get very involved in the material we’re presenting from other bands and we can romanticize it being like a small-scale version of the great and productive friendly musical rivalries of the past, McCartney and Brian Wilson spurring each other to higher heights. Nothing that earthshaking, but the Big Stir bands listen to and steal from each other’s songs all the time, and our record certainly wouldn’t be as good as it is without us feeling a part of a living, breathing continuum of artists at the top of their game. Can we build something based on a Plasticsoul drum part, shoot for Michael Simmons-level harmonies, attempt to capture the way a turn of phrase from Blake Jones gets you right there, try to shape a 12-string riff up to Peter Watts’ level of elegance? Those are good targets to have close at hand!

 


 

The unique harmonies of Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome combine with jangling guitars, sparkling keyboards, soaring viola, and a singular sense of songcraft to create the essence of THE ARMOIRES. It’s sunshine pop with a kick, tapping the rich Southern California pop rock heritage from The Byrds to X and back to hits-era Fleetwood Mac, and melding it with a twist of English psychedelia and postpunk drive. The sweet and sour vocal sound gives life to Broome and Bulbenko‘s sophisticated lyrics – sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, always a bit mysterious. It’s a dreamlike combination of the warm and the unsettling that’s captured ears and hearts wherever The Armoires travel, and is as instantly recognizable as the pair’s visual profile: matching paisley attire, spectacles and platinum blonde hair. 

The band is widely known as the founders and leading lights of the Big Stir collective, a global concert series and record label dedicated to the musical community based around power pop and similarly styled melodic guitar rock. But The Armoires are an artistic force of their own, with a pair of new releases for 2019: the Side Three EP (out now), and the Zibaldone LP due in August, with a number of tour dates to follow. Reflecting the spirit of community and family the band represents, the new records are produced by Steven Wilson of Big Stir Records mainstay Plasticsoul and feature not only Christina and Rex‘s daughters (regular violist Larysa Bulbenko and touring bassist Miranda Broome respectively) but also a slew of guest appearances from their fellow travelers on the worldwide pop scene, including SpygeniusThe CondorsBlake Jones, The Corner Laughers, The Bobbleheads, Michael Simmons and more. The stalwart rhythm section of bassist Clifford Ulrich and drummer Derek “Kenny’s Plumbing” Hanna, longtime veterans of prior collaborations with Broome, provide the synergistic chemistry that makes the new songs hum with energy as The Armoires prepare for the next step in their strangely compelling musical journey.

The Successful Failures – Saratoga

 

NJ Indie-Rock/Roots band the Successful Failures 7th full length LP, “Saratoga”, features 11 new Mick Chorba tunes all about ghosts, mothers, gold stars, and Knoxville. Songs about going back to learn you can never go back. Rock and roll. 

releases August 30, 2019 

Mick Chorba: lead vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, keyboards 
Ron Bechamps: bass guitar, backing vocals 
Rob Martin: drums 
Pete Smith: electric guitar 
Greg Potter: electric guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

 

 

 

In conversation with Mick Chorba.

 

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

 

I write about a song a week….so for every song that makes it onto an album I have 3 that go to the bin. I think we are all better off this way!

 

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

 

Why of course yes! I always think my newest song is the most interesting, best thing ever and then at some point I hate it with all my heart. The songs that somehow avoid falling into disdain sometimes survive my wrath. I like to try out different strategies for writing songs and stealing from new and surprising sources!

 

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

 

I am not sharing my emotions…I create characters… I’m sharing their emotions. At least that’s what I tell myself and everyone else!

 

 

 

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

 

No idea. Need help with that. Anyone?

 

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

 

Now that I’ve been at this for a long time I realize that every show is an amazing opportunity to play music with my friends. I’m so lucky and appreciate every show.

 

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

“No White Knight in Knoxville” and before that “Love You So”

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

We recorded this new album differently.

 

We booked time in a big studio and did most of it live. I think this factor contributes to what I think is a really good record. It was a joy to record.

 

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

 

The Band’s self-titled album would express loss and joy and hope and defeat as good as any. The Replacement’s albums “Don’t Tell a Soul” and “All Shook Down” pretty much do the same.

 

 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

 

You never know what you’re going to capture…I like the mistakes best. Our song “Meal Parade” from “Captains of Industry….” for example. I actually started overdubbing my acoustic guitar over the drum part a measure too late and it totally changed the feel of the song and arrangement. On that song drummer, Rob Martin also played one of the drum parts on a stool that was laying around the studio which we thought was pretty cool.

 

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

 

You can physically feel the energy from an enthusiastic crowd and it makes it so much more fun. It makes a connection that is hard to describe but we all can feel it.

 

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?

 

For this new album listen to the way the instruments interact with each other… Listen to the sequencing of the album, the way one song leads to the next and lastly, the vocal harmonies and Pete Smith’s guitar parts are a lot of fun. There are stories in these songs I hope people can identify with.