Loved Ones – Wasted

Loved Ones – Wasted

“Wasted,” by Loved Ones, is a cool lo-fi affair combining elements of country, dream pop, post rock, and surf. If that sounds like a real mess, well, you might be right. You’re probably right. But it’s a very interesting and adventurous mess.

“Wasted” springs to life with a solo bass, soon joined by a snare that has “Property of Kenny Buttrey” stamped on the head. The guitar covers a wide swath of stylistic real estate, charging at the end into full Surf Mode. The real hero here is the vocalist, delivering lines that could have been lifted from a country ballad with a dynamic strength that sounds a bit like Ryan Adams on the days when the speed outpaced the depressives.

As a Certified Music Journalist, I am required to inject at least one Obscure Reference into each review, and here it is: the guy in the foreground of the album cover is wearing a Neil Young Zuma T-shirt. I used to blast “Barstool Blues” every morning just to annoy my roommate, who accused me of only liking singers who can’t actually sing. Not true: I like Loved Ones’ singer, and he seems to be doing pretty well for himself.

I don’t know anything about Loved Ones, other than that they are from Asheville, NC and are probably a three-piece band. There’s also a Loved Ones in West Kirby, UK and The Loved Ones in Philadelphia as well as the defunct The Loved Ones in Australia. I assume this is a different lot. Whoever they are, “Wasted” is from their new three-track EP, Goldenrod Demo. It’s strictly a DIY project and, as the name implies, lacks polish. But the songwriting and vocal talent, and the creativity, are evident. It’s worth a listen or two or three.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Loved Ones by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. Now this is where I usually say, “And be sure to follow … on Facebook.” But I don’t have any contacts for Loved Ones. Oh well. Just listen to their music; it will all work out in the end.

Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band – Steven’s Problems

Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band – Steven’s Problems

I have a problem. My problem is that I’ve been sitting here for over an hour trying to write this opening paragraph. I had a really good one about a legless man in a wheelchair rolling the wrong way down a freeway feeder road (I actually saw that last week), but I threw it out because this is, you know, a family publication. So now we’re sending in the second stringers…

I have a problem. I can’t decide which photo to post on Instagram that will make me look hip and super cool. The problem is that I have so many from which to choose. I think the one of me in the Armani suit leaning casually against my new Lambo captures just the vibe I’m seeking, but my Salvatore Ferragamo shoes aren’t buffed quite to perfection. And speaking of Italians (that’s what professional writers like myself call a “transition”), Steven Lipsticks is Italian and he has a problem, too. I’m not sure of the exact nature of the affliction, but it seems to involve his family. In describing the situation, Steven rhymes problem, water, and Johnny Rotten and that alone earns him a Gold Star.

“Steven’s Problems” is two minutes of wonderfully stripped-down guitar-based pop and rock. Steven possesses the gift of pairing not-too-gritty guitar tracks with memorable melodies, yielding a genre-straddling sound that floats somewhere being the orbits of Tom Petty and Green Day. His Bandcamp tags include alternative, anti-folk, garage, lo-fi, psychedelic, punk pop, and slacker rock. I’ll take punk pop for $500, Alex.

Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band is Stefano Rossetti, who provides all of the instruments and voices. The last time we checked, he was recording everything in his apartment (what is now known as a Domestic Recording) using a Telecaster and a borrowed bass and why doesn’t my Telecaster sound like that? Regular readers of Reverb Raccoon (that would be my wife, my cat, and the Peruvian spammer who visits every day) are already familiar with Stefano’s Body of Work. We featured his self-titled debut album back in 2015, and “Steven’s Problems” is his third Song of the Day following “Opinions” and “Stay Awake, No More Dreams.

In our 2015 review we asked the burning question, “Why isn’t this guy famous?” We are happy to report that Stefano is now one click closer to becoming a household word. “Opinions” was featured on MindFart, the podcast of English comedian Dave Bailey. Mr. Bailey was especially complimentary of the band name, and suggested that after thinking of Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band, Stefano should have taken the day off. On his Facebook page, Stefano notes that the English term “mindfart” does not have an Italian equivalent. I always suspected that the Italian brain functioned more flawlessly than ours. I mean, they thought up Sophia Loren and the Vespa scooter, though it took Micheal Angelo sixteen tries to paint the roof of that church. It’s a joke; don’t @ me. And I’m sure it makes absolutely no sense when translated to Italian.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band, who will probably be famous someday, by visiting his Bandcamp page, listening to his songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. And be sure to follow Steven/Stefano on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google Plus, and Soundcloud.

Two Songs by Noah Roth

Noah Roth – 800 Miles and Only A Phone Call Away

Regular readers of this blog (both of them, if we include the cat) are familiar with the musical genre known as Underwear Music. For those of you keeping score at home, Underwear Music is music that a person writes and records while sitting on a bed in their underwear following the unsatisfactory conclusion of a Relationship. Like all forms of music, there are sub-genres and micro-genres of Underwear Music. For example, there is Pre-Breakup Underwear Music, which celebrates the incipient breakup (or, more typically, the incipient Getting Dumped) that everyone can see coming from half a mile out, like a hundred-foot-tall bowling ball steamrolling toward you down the gravel path of your heart. With “Sweetheart,” Dog Mom created Next Level Underwear Music, a micro-genre of Pre-Breakup Underwear Music that not only anticipates the breakup, but potentially causes the breakup. And Steven Lipsticks reports that with “Stay Awake, No More Dreams” he created Euro-Underwear Music, a more civilized variety in which he kept his pants on during the recording process.

Which brings us to “800 Miles” and “Only A Phone Call Away” by Noah Roth, two fine examples of LDR Underwear Music, songs that describe the heartache and misery that schleps along beside you 24/7 like a giant, stinking slug whilst you drag yourself through that miasmic chimera known as the Long Distance Relationship. While some will argue that LDR is not true Underwear Music, that’s like saying that Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis should not appear in the same Ken Burns documentary. Besides, I’ve already invested 285 words into the premise that these songs are Underwear Music, and I’m not about to turn back now.

Whatever you call them, these are excellent, well-written songs. Like many of the tracks that are featured in these virtual pages, the performance isn’t perfect (Underwear Music, by virtue of its bedroom origins, rarely is). But I’ll put the songwriting, by Noah Roth and Asher White, up against anyone’s. As a Certified Music Journalist I am obligated to inject at least one Obscure Reference into each review. Otherwise, someone will come to my house and yank that coveted Music Press card from the hatband of my fedora. So we’ll say that “Only A Phone Call Away” brings to mind the slightly campy work of Christopher James on his cult-classic album In the Month of May.

“800 Miles” and “Only A Phone Call Away” appear on Noah Roth’s 2016 album Eyes Wide Open, Staring at the Sun. Noah came to our attention when his noise rocker, “Beater,” appeared on Sematary Forever, a compilation album released last week by Sematary Records. Eyes Wide Open, Staring at the Sun is a rather remarkable album, recorded when Noah was seventeen. It’s always slightly annoying when young people are so talented.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Noah Roth by visiting his Bandcamp page, listening to his songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. He has a ton of music on there; surely you can find something you like (and don’t call me Shirley). And be sure to follow Noah on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Rowan Kerrick – I Can’t Make You Love Me

Rowan Kerrick – I Can’t Make You Love Me

So I’m in my office listening to “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Rowan Kerrick. And my wife comes in from the kitchen and asks, somewhat incredulously, “Is this a Nobody?” Now, first of all, I don’t write about Nobodies. I write about great musicians of whom the world is largely unaware. But the implication underlying the question is that someone with Rowan Kerrick’s tremendous voice – which my wife could detect from the kitchen over the buzzing exhaust fan and a sizzling skilletfull of corn fritters frying in fatback (actually, she was baking a nourishing chicken pot pie, but Truth is no stranger to Fiction) – is surely known to a greater portion of the world than are many of the artists we feature, whose fame currently extends slightly beyond their bedroom closet. In other words, Rowan Kerrick has a voice that will knock the stuffing out of your Christmas goose.

With her interpretation of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” recorded live at Your Mom’s House in Denver, Rowan Kerrick re-imagines the sorta schmaltzy Bonnie Raitt hit into an edgy, sultry late-night text, the last one that is sent before deleting the contact and blocking all replies. Except the next day you unblock the number and ponder what you missed.

Describing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” on her Facebook page, Rowan writes, “I never understood this song until I experienced my first real heart break. This song taught me that a good song doesn’t need to be complicated or intricate or provocative or even clever to be good. It just needs to be honest. And that’s all I ever want to be as a writer, singer, artist, and person.”

As a Certified Music Journalist, I am obligated to inject at least one Obscure Reference into each review. This one perhaps is not that obscure: it’s a safe bet that Rowan learned to play guitar by listening to Neil Young records.

We previously mentioned Rowan in our News of the World feature, four years and a lifetime ago. Our assessment then: “In the era of wispy-voiced Joni-Mitchell-Meets-Nora-Jones female singers, Rowan stands out as a throwback, more old-style belter than New Age whisperer.” And we said Bones, her album released in April 2014, “comprises 12 tracks, all very good, all cut through with the hard edge of just-beyond-heartache.” I’m going to double down on that evaluation. In light of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” it’s obvious that I got it right (good job, Me).

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” is a precursor to the July release of Rowan Kerrick’s new EP, Foolish, produced by Justin Gerrish. A single, “Your Song,” will drop this coming Friday. A record release show and party will be held at The Bakery in Denver on Friday, July 6.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Rowan Kerrick by visiting her Bandcamp page, listening to her songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. And be sure to visit Rowan’s website, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Bonus Track: “Needle and Thread,” a fantastic track from Bones. This one will send chills down your spine.

HOTEL – You’ll Never Know Me

HOTEL – You’ll Never Know Me

Sometimes I ask my wife for help in writing these things. Sometimes I ask my cat for help, but tonight Fluffy had a previous engagement to stare out the front window at the bugs on the other side of the screen. So when I ask my wife what I should say about this song, she said, “Just tell them it’s a good song.” I’m going to turn the volume up a stroke – this blog goes to 11, you know – and say “You’ll Never Know Me,” by HOTEL, is a very good song from a great singer.

“You’ll Never Know Me” is dirt simple, lo-fi bedroom rock: just a couple of guitars, one acoustic and an electric with the chorus pedal – like this blog – turned up to 11, and a vocal that is defiant with just enough charm to make it beautiful. There’s a statement of fuck you independence here. If you ignore it, you’re missing the point of the song. But at its core, “You’ll Never Know Me” is power pop with a classic riff.

HOTEL is… well, I dunno who HOTEL is, other than a youngish person who makes, to quote the Bandcamp profile, “angsty bedroom rock in Nashville, Tennessee.” I’m not sure about the angst; I don’t hear it. I hear a person who is very confident, especially on the musical side. Like many new artists, HOTEL may have a slight identity issue name-wise. There are at least ten artists on Bandcamp recording under some variation of “hotel,” including a hip-hop Hotel in Memphis and a captialized improvisational version in Tokyo. Oh well, all the good names were taken a long time ago. For those of you keeping score at home, this is the HOTEL with the good voice.

“You’ll Never Know Me” was released last month as a single. It reappeared today in the new Sematary Records compilation, Sematary Forever. It’s an interesting 11-track collection featuring a plethora of musical styles. Like HOTEL’s voice and the number of songs on the album, my vocabulary goes to eleven. In addition to “You’ll Never Know Me,” we recommend “Beater” by Noah Roth (get ready for some noise rock!), “Mood Ring” by Graves, and “Blue” by Dog Mom, which we previously featured as a Song of the Day.

You can support deserving independent musicians like HOTEL by visiting the artist’s Bandcamp page and downloading your favorite tracks. Which, in HOTEL’s case, would be all of them. Also check out the releases from Sematary Records, “a record label focused on giving Queer and POC youth a larger platform to distribute their art.” There’s some good music in there.

Be sure to follow HOTEL on Instagram. And follow Sematary Records on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Tired Eyes – Despite Your Doubts

Tired Eyes – Despite Your Doubts

“Despite Your Doubts,” by Tired Eyes, is the soundtrack to the movie that plays in the heads of (infinity) former couples, the movie filmed after the breakup, when the screenwriter lets everyone say the things they wish they had said when it actually happened, and no one feels bad about how it ended, and only Good Songs remain on the cassette tape that is furtively removed from the box once a year and played as a reminder, not of What Could Have Been, but of Who We Became.

And as Glynnis O’Connor pauses before walking down the jetway to board the plane for Detroit, she places her hand on Robby Benson’s shoulder (for this is 1973, when non-passengers could still enter the gate areas) and says…

I probably won’t be there when you’re 21
And despite your doubts
You’ll always mean something to someone

You gave me Saint Valentine
I’ll give you Joan of Arc
And American Football in the dark

“Despite Your Doubts” is one of those unapologetic Pop Songs, full of melody, harmony, major chords, twangy guitars, and understated keyboards. There’s a tastefully-plucked banjo in there somewhere, tastefully-plucked being the only acceptable type of banjo. The lead vocalist carries the show, delivering her lines with an irresistibly simple sincerity.

As a Certified Music Journalist, I’m obligated to inject at least one Obscure Reference into each review. If I don’t, they’ll take away that little “Music Press” card that I slip into the hatband of my fedora. Today’s Obscure Reference is: “Despite Your Doubts” brings to mind the songs of Golden Teardrops, a similarly sunny retro duo from California that we have featured twice, here and here. Tired Eyes and Golden Teardrops both convey a wonderfully accessible musical sensibility, the former more 70’s influenced with a sprinkling of Fleetwood Mac, the latter happily rooted in the prior decade.

Tired Eyes is Ellie and Liam from Boston in Lincolnshire, England and… And I guess that’s about all they want you to know about them because that’s about all the information they put out there. I think I’ve written about them before, or at least my cat has. Liam may be Kid Chameleon. Fluffy posted a Song of the Day about “Chasing Rain,” a track from his latest EP, Prelude to Blue, back in March. Ellie sang harmony on the track. I did not know this before I chose “Despite Your Doubts” as the Song of the Day. Good to know the cat and I have similar tastes in music.

You can support fine independent musicians like Tired Eyes by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. And be sure to follow Tired Eyes on Twitter.