Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 14

Indie rock, indie pop, indie dance, and indie blues rock! We explore three records on this Album Review Saturdays, not sure we’re ever going to be able to define what exactly it is that categorizes a band or artists into this mold, but the great part is such diversity in sound, delivery and experience!  So, let’s dive right into indie sounds, as these two bands and one artist are sliding in and out of this vast genre with sudden radio love or play in soundtracks to television shows or even most recently, commercials.  One guarantee here for all, if you’re remotely interested in any of these mentioned albums below, the live shows should be very good!

Secret MachinesThe Moth, the Lizard and the Secret Machines

Let’s start this one off by saying the indie word here is followed more-so by the word, Alternative. They might have been considered more Alternative over indie at the start of their band’s career, but that’s because of the couple catchy harder driven songs that were served up on alternative airwaves, but they are still rather off radar, and independent in their ability to non-conform with what might be a record label need or want. They have always been (for me) a band deliberately attached to the pressure and drive of bass and percussion, and this album seems to have continued the tradition while amping up the atmospheric and layered instruments, hence maybe driving that indie sound (farther from current radio).  The slow to mid-tempo vocals around it continue to have that indie, eerie effect, except “Last One Out,” which is purely instrumental.

I point out the instrumental out because it does seem to be a marker for a drive to slightly somber edge as the band begins to bring the album up to the climax where the sonic heaviness and layering become much more engaged, and urgent, even in the background of “Run Out the Silver Light,” which is acoustic at its basis.  This is what I was expecting from Secret Machines; anticipating a music pay off as the album continues.  So, let’s label it Indie-Alternative with hints of shoegaze vocal, intentful guitar feedback, extreme bass and percussion leading a very good march to moderate rock sonic madness, which kind of unfolds like a deliberate indie movie with a great payoff in ‘The Finalizer” listening.

Footnote: The Secret Machines have songs in the Manchurian Candidate (movie), Across the Universe (movie where they cover The Beatles’), Mr Robot (TV Show), Legion (TV Show), and Life (TV Show).

 

The Band
  • Brandon Curtis – Vocals, Bass guitar and Keyboards
  • Phil Karnats – Guitar and Backing vocals
  • Josh Garza – Drums

 

The Moth, the Lizard, and the Secret Machines Track Listing

1. There’s No Starting Over
2. I Think It’s Light Outside
3. You Want It Worse
4. Even Out the Overflow
5. Last One Out
6. The Answer
7. Crucifixition Time
8. Run Out the Light
9. The Finalizer

 

 

 

Portugal. The ManChris Black Changed My Life

As forementioned in our “That’s Your Band Name,” Portugal. The Man is not from Portugal.  They are from the far reaches of indie pop rock and dance via the groove, beat and wholesomeness cool vibes and vocal harmonies of big sound entertainment – and they use all kinds of eras to make it all work!  They adhere to no formula that we can understand; much like a Food Network professional whipping up some wild six course meal in one hour that somehow all comes together without a blender. Yeah – true story! We got psychedelic pop with organ grind. We’ve got De La grooves homages and playfulness with great titles and a dose of Cee Lo’s soul dashed like hot sauce here and there! Electronic explorations and all kinds of toms and percussions to bring to boot with rock guitars creating all kinds of interesting feedback and sound fills.  Lyrically it keeps you on it and entertained while realizing the grim state and the need for better things, bending vocal styles and guest appearances. The song “Dummy” with Got a keep it movin’ — keep it groovin, and If this is the last dance you can count on me! And then there is Cheer up Charlie Brown, the end is near from “Ghost Town.”  The simple word choices and phrases are not deep, but they’re immediately understood as much as they are intended to probably not be complex – because everything else in sound is!

The production is detailed, like a Flaming Lips record. The sound is deep, flowing, and tuned to really give your ears a modern day work out between the lyrical content and the spectacular musicianship. This is a multiple listen record that just shines better and better each listen. You’ll know because you’re suddenly hearing the violins you missed and more.  The final categorical placement is harder here, as there are elements galore.  Simplify it, right?  Indie Pop-Rock.

Footnote: Portugal. The Man have songs in TV Shows: Shameless, Vampire Diaries, The Rook, Arrow, The Good Doctor and more. Movies: Ghosted, Poms, Carrie, The Report and Love, Simon.  Commercial: Taco Bell.

The Band
  • John Gourley- Guitar
  • Zoe Manville – Vocal percussion
  • Eric Howk – Guitar
  • Jason Sechrist – Drum Kit
  • Kyle O’Quin – Synthesizer
  • Zachary Carothers – Bass

 

Chris Black Changed My Life Track Listing

1. “Heavy Games II” (featuring Jeff Bhasker)
2. “Grim Generation”
3. “Thunderdome [W.T.A.]” (featuring Black Thought and Natalia Lafourcade)
4. “Dummy”
5. “Summer of Luv” (featuring Unknown Mortal Orchestra)
6. “Ghost Town”
7. “Time’s a Fantasy” (featuring Jeff Bhaske)
8. “Doubt”
9. “Plastic Island”
10. “Champ” (featuring Edgar Winter)
11. “Anxiety:Clarity” (featuring Paul Williams)

 

 

Ayron JonesChronicles of the Kid

Mr Jones, let me introduce you to the music multiverse, if there are those in the rock-blues community that might not have had the pleasure being aware of the talent put forth on this new record.  Ayron Jones is a guitarist and singer-songwriter that seems to be able to blend elements of grunge, rock, hip-hop, soul and blues into his overall finished product.  However, Chronicles of the Kid, has two that are leading the charge here, rock and blues! And the first three songs are crushing it hard, making your ears take note of, not only the hard rock musicianship, but the straight-out lyrical empowerment being served up!  “Strawman, Blood in the Water,” and “The Title” (which could be an entry track for a professional sports team), have that catchy quality that rival your favorite hard rock radio band.  Nothing wrong with that!

When we get to “My America” we’re starting to see the Lenny Kravitz in him, although we’ve still not lost the hard rock — it’s maybe moved a bit more grunge, but it’s still flaming hot, which was the one constant throughout this very personal recording.  The record never loses his hold on that guitar and the ability to make it scream or whine or riff, despite the vocal style he’s throwing down.  Maybe the comparison of Gary Clark Jr., isn’t too far off base.  Then there’s off-the-rails fun, too, like “Filthy.”  This one’s beyond a throwdown — it’s a hit to the dome, as they say!  I could go song by song, but I’ll let you take the ear-wheel and enjoy for yourself!

Ayron Jones has landed a thoroughly cool, hard rocking, blues smashing, lyrical introspection that’s utterly enthralling, inviting, and easily accessible, which will probably turn some rock snobs off, but they make no mistake — they will probably continue their closet listening in their black laced thong.

Footnote: Ayron Jones has opened for all kinds of acts; Living Color, B.B. King, Theory of A Deadman, Slipknot, Janelle Monae, Train, Run DMC, and Patti Smith to name a few, so while we couldn’t find any songs on tv or movies — that’s coming very soon folks!.

The Band
  • Ayron Jones – Vocals, Guitar and Bass
  • Evan Flory-Barnes – Bass
  • Kevin Bressler – Drums
Chronicles of the Kid Track Listing

1. Strawman
2. Blood In The Water
3. The Title
4. Otherside
5. My America
6. Living For The Fall
7. “Filthy”
8. Get High
9. The Sky Is Crying
10. On Two Feet I Stand

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