Late Night Cardigan – Happy Truman

latenightcardiganSong of the Day

“Happy Truman,” by Late Light Cardigan, begins deceptively. You think, “Oh here’s another Ingrid Michaelson clone.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But before you can consider whether the world really needs another Ingrid Michaelson, the guitars and drums kick open the door and you’re hit with a blast of cool fresh power pop. The song is propelled by the voice of Kacee Russell, who provides lead and harmony vocals. This is one of those voices that you hear for one verse and say, “Oh yeah, that’s a good one.” The sheer exuberance of the singing, and the tightness of the harmonies, are a wonder.

A couple of points to ponder: the band doesn’t employ a discernable bassist, and there’s no guitar solo where you expect the guitar solo to be. But I’m happy to dispense with both bassists and solos: the song works. I appreciate the stripped down arrangement; there’s no shortage of power, punch, or melody.

Late Night Cardigan is based in Memphis, a city that doesn’t get enough credit as a generative point for new music. The band comprises Kacee Russell (guitar, vocals, and lyrics), Stephen Turner (guitar and music), and Zach Mitchell (drums). ”Happy Truman” is from the band’s self-named five-song EP released today, on the first day of Spring. On their Bandcamp page, they describe their music as “sugar rush anxiety rock.” And on their Facebook page, they tell us, “Hey we have a bunch of songs about anxiety check it out.” But this isn’t shoegazing emo fare. It’s driving, guitar-based pop that happens to be about emotional conflicts.

Worth noting: the professionalism of the recording. The EP was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jesse Mansfield at The Crypt. I’m not a sound engineer, but I’m pretty sure that getting those harmonies sounding tight isn’t easy. And the band members have obviously been in a studio before.

You can help support deserving independent musicians like Late Night Cardigan by visiting their Bandcamp page and downloading their EP. And be sure to Like them on Facebook.

Bonus Track: Being an experienced stalker, I turned up this excellent song, “Losing Hope,” from Kacee’s solo EP, Big Ole World, released in 2014.


Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band – Opinions

stevelipsticksSong of the Day

“Opinions,” by Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band, kicks off the way every great song starts: with a simple, memorable guitar hook. We’re then launched into a fat slice of chunky rock and melodic pop that finally gives way to old-school dueling lead guitars. In a world where “pop music” equates to “synthesizers,” it’s good to know that someone is making pure, guitar-based music that sticks in your head instead of bludgeoning your head into submission.

Steven Lipsticks is Stefano Rossetti of Bologna, Italy. His Magic Band is also Stefano Rossetti with a little help from his friends. Stefano writes the music and lyrics, and plays most of the instruments. We featured Stefano’s last full-length effort back in 2015. In that review, we asked the question: “Why isn’t this guy famous?” Someone who can knock out a great song like “Opinions” deserves to be known by a large and appreciative audience.

Stefano described his previous album, the self-named Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band as “12 catchy songs blended with a lo-fi attitude, 60s garage and punk-rock, britpop and psychedelic folk.” In our review, we noted the maturity of the songwriting and said that “the overall feel is a throwback to the album-oriented music of the mid-70’s, when you put the needle down on the edge of the vinyl and didn’t lift it off until you had to turn the record over for Side 2.” Those same words apply to “Opinions.” This isn’t a demo or your typical bedroom recording. It’s a well-crafted effort, one that I was happy to stumble across in Bandcamp’s New Arrivals.

Recordings by Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band are available for streaming and download on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. And be sure to follow Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band on Facebook, and YouTube.

For a more in-depth view into the world of Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band, check out our 2015 feature of his previous album, which includes an extensive Q and A. Stefano was kind enough to answer our questions about everything from influences to equipment, to recording methods.


FreeThinker – Pineapple Sticknpoke

freethinkerSong of the Day

“Pineapple Sticknpoke” by FreeThinker has a classic feel and sound that will be tattooed on your brain after the first listen. Or, in my case, after the first infinity listens. I’ve been blasting it over and over all afternoon, much to the chagrin of the cats.

“Pineapple Sticknpoke” has a beautiful, original melody over simple chord progressions that are instantly familiar. The star of the show is the voice of Molly Giessing. At this point, being a Certified Music Journalist, I am supposed to insert an Obscure Reference, either comparing Molly’s voice to that of someone of whom you’ve never heard, or comparing a certain element of her singing to that of a famous person of whom she sounds nothing like. I’ll just say that, when I heard “Pineapple Sticknpoke,” I thought Erika Wennerstrom, Joan Jett, and Brittany Howard. That’s good company, but it’s an injustice since Molly Giessing’s singing is unique, full of abandon and excitement that will suck you in and make you smile..

FreeThinker, based in St. Louis, is Molly Giessing (vocals, guitar, synth), Cody Diehl (drums), Elijah Burns-Wilton (bass and synth), and Chris Murphy (guitar). “Pineapple Sticknpoke” is from their third LP, Peaches ‘n Cream Pt. 1, released in August 2017. It seems I’m a bit late to the party, having just discovered FreeThinker today. So sue me. Their sound has been described as “Motown psychedelic rock,” but I think the band’s soulfulness and power are rooted farther south, in Muscle Shoals. Among their influences, they list Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala, and The Strokes.

Peaches ‘n Cream Pt. 1 is available on Bandcamp. You can support deserving independent musicians like FreeThinker by listening to their songs and downloading your favorites. All albums and singles can be streamed on the band’s Soundcloud page.

Be sure to visit FreeThinker’s web site, and follow the band on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.


The Coffin Fits – In the End

coffinfitsSong of the Day

“In the End” by The Coffin Fits will leave you scratching your head – or whatever body part it is you scratch in these situations – and asking, “What the heck is this?” We have surfy guitars, a blasting Hammond B-3ish organ, a shoegazey vocal, punky energy, and a lyric that could have been lifted from a country-western torch song. It’s a great mess and that’s what makes “In the End” a great song.

The Coffin Fits are (is?) based in Austin, Texas, where the lines that divide genres were rubbed out many years ago. Willie Nelson, a traditional country crooner, became a rock star, Stevie Ray Vaughn joined David Bowie’s band, and hipster college students dance to German polkas. The Coffin Fits fit right in. The band self-describes as “a garage band whose songs spread out across a variety of genres from surf and psychedelic, to punk and folk rock.” Sounds about right. I’ll bet this is a great live band. Hearing the final guitar solo on “In the End” would be worth the entire cover charge.

“In the End” is from The Coffin Fits’ new album, Death and Texas, released March 17. The album, and six other albums by The Coffin Fits, are available on the group’s Bandcamp page. You can support deserving independent artists like The Coffin Fits by listening to their songs and downloading a few of your favorites. Or download the entire album! And be sure to follow The Coffin Fits on Facebook.


Mike Herz – The Chain

mikeherzSong of the Day

Last night we had the pleasure of seeing Mike Herz at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York. Mike performed most songs with a band, and the show was recorded for a future live album.

Our review of Mike’s Overgrown album was one of our first posts way back in November, 2013. In that far distant time we observed that Mike Herz was not a daydreamer, but a man chasing a dream.

The daydreamer sits at a desk pushing numbers around and thinking it would be really cool to sing with Stevie Nicks. He accomplishes his goal several times each day as he toils down the freeway on his commute, singing along to the Fleetwood Mac songs that seemingly comprise the entire playlist of 93.7 The Arrow. And yet, thirty years later, all he has to show for his effort is thirty extra pounds on his waistline, a feat matched by Stevie Nicks.

Mike Herz, the man chasing his dream, grabs the best available singer and makes a run for it. Thirty years later he may not have made it much beyond the county line. But at least he gave it a damn good try and got as far as possible within the allotted time.

We are happy to report that, in a little more than four years, Mike has made it considerably farther than the county line.

“The Chain” was, for me, the highlight of an amazing show. This is a first-degree tearjerker, displaying Mike’s has ability to translate his own experiences into songs that address universal human conditions. Love, life, and loss are themes that every songwriter relies on. But “The Chain” tells us of the inherent inevitability of that loss, and exposes us to the fear that we can do nothing to prevent it.

It has been a privilege to see and hear Mike’s musical growth and evolution. While he always had the words, the singing, the song structure, the overall musicianship have improved greatly since Overgrown. I’m looking forward to the next album, and to seeing how far beyond the county line Mike Herz will get in the next thirty years.

Mike’s music is available for download on his Bandcamp page. Be sure to visit his website, and follow him on Facebook, and Twitter.


River Fury – Jewels of the City

jewelsofthecitySong of the Day

It’s Friday, time to get the weekend started. You’ll need some good tunes to get through the next few days, which is obviously why you came to Reverb Raccoon: to find the best new music from independent musicians. Today’s feature comes to us from London, a nice place to enjoy a steak and kidney pie washed down with a pint of room temperature ale. It’s also a nice place to discover new music like “Jewels of the City” by River Fury.

“Jewels of the City” has an interesting 80′s-pop-meets-indie-rock feel. The echoing vocal harmonies – with plenty of overdubs – give the track a sheen over the grittier guitar and rhythm track. It’s an adventurous, compact glow of energy coming in at less than three minutes and ending with a jazzy piano.

“Jewels of the City” is the first single from River Fury’s debut album, Five Year Plan, due to arrive in April. River Fury is Patric Nutton (vox/guitars), Dan Howe (vox/guitars), Callum Hayes (bass/vox), and Andrew Gallop (drums). On their Bandcamp page, they describe themselves as “London based (but partly Melbourne grown),” and list as their influences bands as diverse as The Cure, Joy Division, and Queens of the Stone Age.

We “met” guitarist Dan Howe a couple of weeks ago (through emails) when we featured “Winter Seasons In My Mind” by Blue Collar Romantics. Dan is the principal songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Blue Collar Romantics, with Callum Hayes contributing backing vox in the studio. Dan and Callum were previously in Sweetheart of the Rodeo, a band with a more rootsish, Southern American sound than River Fury.

“Jewels of the City” is available for download on River Fury’s Bandcamp page, as well as on all major streaming sites including Soundcloud. Unlike many of the artists we write about, who rarely surface from the bedroom in their mom’s basement, River Fury makes themselves easy to find. You can visit their website, and you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 Bonus Track: “Heart of Mine,” by Sweetheart of the Rodeo, from 2013.