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Review: Noah Gundersen – Lover

Noah Gundersen Lover

I’ve interviewed Noah Gundersen two times in the past and both conversations centered around his restlessness concerning his art. The first time I spoke with him, ahead of the release of 2015’s Carry the Ghost, he told me how his debut album, the previous year’s folk-steeped Ledges, no longer reflected who he was or the music he wanted to make. In 2017, when we chatted about his audacious, adventurous third LP White Noise, it was the songs from the spiritually fraught Ghost that he was ready to move on from. “I just think I’m perpetually dissatisfied, which can be really frustrating,” he said. “But it also drives my creativity and my desire to do better and to make things that are better than what I’ve made in the past.”

On his fourth record, titled Lover (and released on the same day as an album by Taylor Swift that shares the exact same name), Gundersen seems perhaps more comfortable with letting his restlessness slide than he ever has before. The collection is at once both unique from everything he’s ever made previously and packed with songs that call back to previous moments from his catalog. There are raw acoustic songs that feel ripped from the cloth of the traditionally-hewn Ledges. Lead single “Robin Williams,” with its fractious electric guitar chords, plays like a twin to Carry the Ghost’s first single and lead-off track “Slow Dancer.” “Out of Time” initiates flashbacks to the Radiohead influences that blossomed all over White Noise. The entire Noah Gundersen toolkit, it seems, is fair game on this album.

Review: Sleater-Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold

Sleater Kinney

When setting out to record their ninth studio album, Sleater-Kinney began pondering with the idea of working with Wilco singer Jeff Tweedy on the follow-up to No Cities to Love. However, once S-K began the writing process and collaborating with St. Vincent, the band loved this new and exciting direction too much to pass up the chance to have St. Vincent produce the entire album. Once considered one of indie rock’s most reliable bands for their steady work ethic, Sleater-Kinney found themselves at a late-career crossroads. Do they make a similar sounding record to what their audience had come to expect, or push themselves to their creative limits by reinventing what their band could become? The latter is what came to fruition here on The Center Won’t Hold: an electronically expansive record that tinkers with modern sounds and state of the art production elements.

Western Settings – “Another Year” (Song Premiere)

Western Settings

Today I’m excited to bring you the premiere of Western Settings’ new song, “Another Year.”

For those unfamiliar with the band, they are an incredible punk rock band from San Diego, California, and this second single is a strong representation of the band: solid punk rock with ear-candy hooks.

Lead singer and bassist, Ricky Schmidt, is as endearing as ever on the song, and the dual-guitar attack from Dylan Wolters and Will Castro allows the track to soar to new heights. If you’re into punk music, this band is one to watch as the year unfolds.

The song is available for streaming below, and the album is available for pre-order now on Bandcamp. It will be released on September 6th.

Review: Ra Ra Riot – Superbloom

Ra Ra Riot - Superbloom

When preparing for their fifth studio album, Superbloom, Ra Ra Riot mentioned in several interviews their intention to create an album worthy of lasting impact and an enjoyable listening experience. Front-man Wes Miles co-wrote two of the twelve songs with former Vampire Weekend guitarist Rostam Batmanglij, and in doing so, helped expand Ra Ra Riot’s repertoire and sound in general. Miles mentioned in an interview that the band wanted a “DIY, demo mindset” to many of these songs, yet Miles decided these demos that were recorded in his parents’ house were strong enough to be considered the final versions.

One of the first things listeners will notice on Superbloom is how the simple song structures and sounds make for a great experience. This breezy collection of twelve songs are all well thought out, and make a lot of sense cohesively as an album.

Review: Oso Oso – Basking in the Glow

Oso Oso Album Art

My first thought when I heard “The View” – the second track on Basking in the Glow but first in earnest, with a full band and a chorus (the latter of which will prove to be very important on this record) – was that it sounds like it’s from 2003. A pop-punk song from 2003; from a major label band, and a song that would have stuck. We’d still know all the words today.

I guess whether this is a compliment or not depends on your feelings about 00s mall punk, but I absolutely mean it as one. More importantly, it seems that Jade Lilitri – the man behind Oso Oso – would take it as one, or at least isn’t afraid of hearing it. The harmonies, the bouncy chorus, the bridge that drops into half-time, they all feel crafted with such deliberate nostalgia, reverence even, for that era of punk. That’s the common musical thread of the record, all the way through – I hear, at different times, flashes of Dashboard Confessional, Saves The Day, All-American Rejects. (These are less cool influences than the ones I’ve seen critics assign to Oso Oso in the past, like Death Cab For Cutie and Built To Spill; then again, the way that nostalgia cycles means a whole generation listening to this is probably more attracted to the former than the latter.) Perhaps oxymoronically, though, it doesn’t feel like we’ve heard it before – it’s not a copycat, and most of the time you can’t pin it down to whom exactly it sounds like. It would have been an entry in the canon of that time in its own right, and it deserves the same in its own time too.

Review: Cowboy Diplomacy – The Get Down

Cowboy Diplomacy - The Get Down

On the lead single from Cowboy Diplomacy, “The Get Down” rocks with the urgency of roots-rock bands such as The Revivalists and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, with mostly favorable results. The song itself is built around the guitar licks of lead guitarist Billy Boswell and lead vocalist/guitarist Ian Cochran, and some foot-stomping percussion from drummer Matt Whilden. After the introductory lyrics kick in, a blast of horns and good vibes fill out the single introducing Cowboy Diplomacy to the world.

My Yearly Pitch for Becoming a Supporting Member

Each August I do an evaluation of how this website’s running, how our traffic numbers are doing, and what kind of revenue we’re bringing in from advertising, merch, and from our supporting members. It’s not the most fun part of running this website, but it’s one of the necessities to make sure we’re still on the right track and to assess the website’s viability for the upcoming year. I use this time to figure out what kind of freelance work I’ll need to schedule out for the rest of the year, as well as what projects I can focus on during the last quarter.

Based on these calculations, I am exactly 90 supporters short of this website hitting my goal for the year.

That means if 90 more people sign-up to any tier of the supporter membership by the end of this year, I’ll be sitting right where I want to be and it’ll be a massive weight off my shoulders. My plan, if I can hit these numbers, is for my next big project to be a rethinking of the homepage. I have wireframed a refreshing of the main website’s design, and that’s what I’d like to tackle next.

So, this is my yearly pitch to everyone that reads this website: if you like reading the news and content during the week, like reading the newsletter each Friday, and/or like reading or participating in our community, please consider becoming a supporting member. Every tier gives you the same perks: no ads on the website, dark mode, extra features in the forums, and it basically comes down to about seven cents a day.

Thank you to everyone that reads this website every day and for helping to make it what it is. I try not to post about this sort of stuff all that often, but once a year I like to try and update everyone on where we’re at and how everything is currently working out.

Review: Holy Holy – My Own Pool Of Light

Holy Holy - My Own Pool Of Light

Holy Holy is no longer content with being known as “another bunch of blokes onstage rocking,” according to guitarist and producer, Oscar Dawson. With their third album, My Own Pool Of Light, they’ve banished the traditional rock music they’re celebrated for. In 2017, the duo’s sophomore album, Paint – a guitar-based album immersed in new-wave glory, peaked at #7 on the ARIA Australian Albums Chart, with lead single “Darwinism” becoming the most-played track on Australian national youth radio station, triple j. Two years later, Holy Holy is driven higher and further.

My Own Pool Of Light contains the best collection of stories in Holy Holy’s career. The propulsive bass featured in previous tracks like “Willow Tree” is much more prominent, directing the unyielding rhythm of the hit single, “Faces.” The duo, alongside permanent drummer Ryan Strathie, employs drum loops and sampled beats. For the first time, Carroll opts to pitch-shift his vocals. Holy Holy have also brought in some good friends, including Gab Strum (Japanese Wallpaper) on synths, and back up singers, Ainslie Wills and Ali Barter. From the powerful opening drums and synth-laden mourning of album opener, “Maybe You Know” to the quietly devastating closer, “St Petersburg” Holy Holy graciously shift from their past; while promising another luscious, fulfilling journey.

Review: Of Monsters and Men – Fever Dream

Of Monsters and Men

Now three albums into their career, Of Monsters and Men have all but abandoned their happy-go-lucky and charming takes on indie rock in favor of stadium-ready pop anthems on Fever Dream. The first lyrics on the LP are telling as lead singer Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir opens with, “I see color/Raining down/Feral feeling/Swaying sound/But I don’t know what you want.” The entire record is filled with much brighter moments than we have come to expect from the Icelandic band, and this album turns out to be their best to date.

Coming off of two successful records in My Head is an Animal and Beneath the Skin, Of Monsters and Men could have very well made a similar sounding record for their third effort. However, never ones to be complacent with what they have accomplished before, the band took it upon themselves to push themselves to their creative limits on Fever Dream. Co-produced by the group and under the trusted tutelage of Rich Costey (Frank Turner, Foster the People), Of Monsters and Men have fully embraced the pop underlining that were embedded in their earlier work and made a record worthy of the size of the venues they are playing this fall.

Review: Night Riots – New State of Mind

Night Riots

The state of the world we are living in requires many outside distractions to cope, live, and find a way to be happy in general. On New State of Mind, Night Riots provide plenty of lush musical landscapes to help remind us the beauty of well-crafted pop-rock songs with deeper meanings behind each track. Now that their new record has arrived, Night Riots seem poised for making a significant statement in the music scene with an album that sounds simultaneously professional, dynamic, and captivating all from the first listen.

Never a stranger to the darker tones and mystery surrounding the after-hours nightlife that were presented in their earlier material, New State of Mind is surprisingly bright. Led by the atmospheric album artwork that finds the cover model finding the beauty within herself, there are several songs with massive textural feelings and dual meanings within them. The album was co-produced by Eric Palmquist (Thrice, Bad Suns) and Night Riots, and the production elements showcase a band painting with broad, colorful strokes; never afraid of taking a calculated risk along the way.

Review: Sum 41 – Order in Decline

Sum 41 - Order in Decline

On their seventh studio album, Order in Decline, Sum 41 wastes little time in describing the state of the world we are living in. And they do a great job of summarizing the feeling of growing up in a country where the leader seems to suck the life out of everything that we once held so dear. Sum 41 have delivered their late career masterpiece and they have never sounded better in this mixture of punk, metal, and rock that pulsates with immediacy and a strong call to action from their fan-base. The styles they have teased and tinkered with over their career come to full fruition on this record that finally realizes the band’s full potential.

Even from the first few riffs delivered on “Turning Away,” Sum 41 rock with a confident swagger found in scene mainstays such as Green Day, while still showcasing vulnerability and a human element behind their words. Deryck Whibley sings in the first powerful chorus, “I’m turning away/Because I feel like I can’t go on, while we’re living in this lie/And when all of my faith is gone, I don’t even want to try/There’s nothing that you could say, that could ever change my mind/And will all of these steps I take, it’s giving me back my life.” There’s a lot to unpack here, as we know Whibley nearly lost his battle to alcohol addiction and had a long road to recovery to fight for his life, much less his career as a touring musician in a successful band. Whibley sounds re-focused, refreshed, and doesn’t appear to want to let his new outlook on life go to waste any time soon.

Review: 311 – Voyager

311 - Voyager

As a life-long 311 fan, I approached Voyager with more optimism than most. I looked forward to each of their releases every other summer and would typically be one of the first ones to purchase their new music on the street date. Over time, even as my taste in music gravitated towards punk/emo-tinged rock, 311 remained a band I would find myself coming back to as spring came to a close. With multiple summer tours packing amphitheaters across the US, 311 have always benefited from a patient listening base. This album should do little to change their devout fans’ opinions on the direction the band is going. The fact remains that at thirteen albums in their career, they may have played things a little too safe on Voyager.

Review: The Covasettes – It’s Always Sunny Above The Clouds

The Covasettes

The Manchester-based indie rock band, The Covasettes come bursting onto the music scene with the brightly colored EP It’s Always Sunny Above the Clouds. With it’s Care Bear-styled cover art, I was initially unsure of what to expect from the band that I was introduced to. However, The Covasettes quickly won me over with the core influences of Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, and Coldplay that are felt warmly as they create a wonderful collection of songs. The four-piece band is comprised of lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Buxton, lead guitarist Matt Hewlett, bassist Jamie McIntyre, and drummer Matt Buckley, and their chemistry as a unit comes across undeniably on this record.

Interview: Sean McCall of twentythreenineteen

twentythreenineteen

Philly indie rockers  twentythreenineteen just released their debut full-length on Know Hope Records. It’d be easy to call XXIIIXIX an emo album, but that’d sell the band short. They pull from pop, electronic, and even ambient as much as they do emo and emo-adjacent music, and it makes for one of the genre’s most creative and refreshing albums in a long time. I recently had the pleasure of speaking to bandleader Sean McCall about the writing of the record, which is currently available for streaming and purchase.

The Podcast Worm: Inside Star Wars

I started The Podcast Worm with the intention of keeping it up regularly. The first one went live around 9 months ago now, so clearly, that didn’t happen. However, much like Halloween Unmasked, Inside Star Wars was a podcast that really caught my attention.

Mark Ramsey is the host, who has teamed up with Wondery for multiple series that dive into certain movies like Jaws and Psycho. I haven’t listened to those just yet (but I have plans to). With Inside Star Wars, I was able to learn things about the cast that I didn’t know before.

The Best Albums of 2019 (So Far)

The Best of 2019 - So Far

It’s crazy to think another mid-year list is in the books – the first six months of 2019 have flown by. Thankfully, there has been plenty of music for us to discuss, debate, love, and share. Once again, the Chorus.fm is an unique list – a diverse one that beautifully shows off the collective, eclectic taste of our staff and contributors. So without further ado here is our favorite twenty albums of 2019 thus far – we’re excited to see what the next six months have to offer.

Note: You can share your own lists in the forums and clicking the artist name and album title will take you to the album’s streaming page featuring quick links for all streaming services.

Interview: Tanya Batt of BATTS

BATTS

Tanya Batt is many things. First off, she’s a proud Gecko mum. Then, she’s a musician, an actress, she nannies, and she even works in a theatre. You wouldn’t know it by glancing at our table in the busy Melbourne café, The Hub, but Tanya Batt – who performs under the musical moniker BATTS – played a show in a packed Hamer Hall just a week earlier. Hamer Hall is one of Melbourne’s most beautiful venues, a room Tanya never thought she’d play in. Following a string of concerts as a special guest for Sharon Van Etten (“Sharon is the best. She watched my sets from the side of the stage”), Friday night saw Batt end her album launch shows with a special hometown performance.

Review: Two Door Cinema Club – False Alarm

Two Door Cinema Club

On their fourth studio album Two Door Cinema Club fully embrace the 80’s synth and colorful pop that they hinted at on 2016’s Gameshow. False Alarm paints the Northern Irish indie rock band as a group that is willing to take calculated risks and have a blast while doing so. Whereas other artists may find their comfort in a familiar sound from album to album, Two Door Cinema Club have little issue with experimenting with a variety of new ideas and fresh takes on their songwriting.