Sounds x Review: Korpx // I Want to Live! (Again)

From the comfort of his living room, indie artist Charles Korpics, better known by his stage name Korpx, has been producing a plethora of syrupy smooth tracks. Just in the past seven months, Korpx has self-released three EPs and two singles. His most recent single, I Want to Live! (Again) stands out among the succinct catalog.

The instrumental track begins with a lazy and brooding guitar that thickly disguises a rising anthemic synth. A lush four on the flour backbeat then bridges the gap between the song’s turbulent intro and its cream-like verse section. Hinted melodies and an airy production-value give the laconic single a sense of motion.

This single by Korpx is sonically eclectic with an unfettered accesbility. His entire catalog would fit right in with any ‘beats to study/relax to’ playlists or shuffled through the deck of any devout emo listener’s daily mix. The influence of alt legends Tycho and Modest Mouse are just as easily distinguishable as the guidance of emo-revivalist outfit Algernon Cadwallader.

The composer’s formula is simple, natural, and pleasing. Korpx flies through the creative process by the seat of his pants, writing, and recording every instrument of every song in the same session. After slapping a vintage-looking photo from his childhood over the top, the results are uploaded to his YouTube channel and eventually onto streaming platforms. Without release dates, Facebooks ads, or suffocating label management, Korpx manages to keep himself steadily above the rushing current of today’s music scene. A concoction of synths, strings, and Instagram posts are all Korpx needs to stay afloat.

From his living room in Upstate New York, Korpx continues to deliver tracks that would make any study listener slump deep into their chairs with ecstasy. His EP Village Of is now streaming on all platforms, hear it below.

Sounds x Words: Before They’re Famous//All Systems Go

     To take something small and give it action, reaction and finally, more importance—that is what drives artists to create, that is what inspires a generation. The social expectations associated with modern life can be a startling revelation to some, as we continue to grow and recognize the eye-opening power that a culture possesses and all its innate capabilities to profess emotions, images and messages into the innermost sanctums of the heart and soul. Me and most to all of the other scholars out there would whole-heartedly agree that the arts are paramount in defining and shaping a culture, made evident from the headlines on newspapers and blogs and the music made popular at the time. It is up to us, as people who exist in time and space, to mark our place in the fabric of the universe. While one could scream into the void to state their existence, others choose to use their music as a mode to channel their feelings, thoughts and emotions into emotional data that the listeners receive as a song, fit with melodies and lyrics that provoke or incite us to feel or act a specific way. Emotions and music — you can’t have one without the other.

In a recent conversation with All Systems Go, a pop-punk band of cool young dudes based out of southern New Jersey, we talked at length about the difficulties of being a collegiate musician and how that has played into their musical career. ASG vocalist and guitarist Matt Pezza attends Rowan University‘s MBA program alongside bassist August Baptista, who is also attending Rowan and working to complete his B.A. in Computing and Informatics. Drummer Joe Codispoti goes to Millersville University in pursuit of a BSE in Music Education and guitarist Devin Kollmar works in the area full-time. The four of them said that their gigs are usually seasonal (summer/winter) in the form of tours (8-12 shows at a time) but that this year promises to be a year for the books.


 

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All Systems Go: Devin Koller, guitar/vox (left); Joe Codispoti, drums (center); Matt Pezza, vox/guitar (center right); August Baptista, bass (right)


You guys have members pursuing degrees across three different universities. What kinds of difficulties have you faced as student-musicians since you started as a band?

August: I’ve had a bit of a tumultuous school life over the last five years, and in the time we’ve been together as a band, I thankfully have only been in full time classes for one semester. Joe by far has had the most work to do as a student and musician and I can’t even begin to describe how much we appreciate what he’s given us.

Matt: Collectively I think our biggest difficulty is we can’t really be active in the music scene year-round. August and I are both balancing work with classes at Rowan/Rowan College at Burlington County, Joe is student teaching two hours away at Millersville, and Devin has an irregular work schedule. Our peers have noticed we do a ton of planning in advance, and this is the main reason why. When we are all home we put a ton of effort into the band but it’s been like this since the beginning and there have been a ton of slow spots.

Joe: I think one of the biggest challenges that we’ve faced has been staying active and ‘on the map’ during the semester. We do most of our gigging in the summer and during the winter months when colleges are on break. While classes are in session, we try to stay relevant by posting a lot on social media, booking gigs (Matt does that), getting some writing or recording done to prepare for those gigs, and just generally keeping in touch and planning ahead as much as we can. The other challenge for me is my location. The other three guys are all local to the South Jersey/Philly area throughout the year, but I’ve been completing my Bachelors at Millersville University, just outside of Lancaster, PA. If we do want to gig or record while classes are in session, I have to drive four hours round trip to come back to New Jersey and then make it back to Lancaster for classes on Monday morning.

Devin: College was hard, I did not succeed.

Album Cover

Your last album, Garden State Skies was released earlier this year. What can you tell our readers about writing/recording this? What was the inspiration?

August: When it comes to recording, we went in almost completely clueless. We bought some equipment we didn’t need, had to backtrack, recorded everything in quick bursts of time. If you’re gonna record a full album, either do some heavy research or find a studio. Matt had to spend weeks of his own time trying to clean up the songs before we sent them to our producer, and ultimately our producer did his thing anyway. Writing wise, the ideas came from some of our old high school band, just re-imagined to fit our lives at the time. Matt wrote a lot of the songs from his experiences away at school. It’s a collection of experiences, and it meant a lot to us to put it out there. It took way longer than we ever thought, but the feedback and support has been tremendous.

Matt: My songs on the album were inspired by things that I think most college kids can relate to: Mario Kart, secret crushes, breakups, being drunk at crowded parties, and also experiences living overseas for a semester. The recording process was fun until we handed in the tracks to be mixed and realized we did a ton of things wrong, which led to mixing complications and delays. However, once we sat down and listened to the final product we were satisfied. We put in the work and now our music is finally out there.

Joe: The recording process for Garden State Skies was long and tedious. We tried to remain self sufficient throughout the process, only sending our recordings out to be mixed. We handled the recording, editing, and mastering responsibilities. But the end product is a fun and energetic 9-track album about living life as a young 20-something in suburban New Jersey. We’re happy with our debut album and we’re looking forward to making our music even better for our listeners going forward.

Devin: When it came to the writing process of our first album, it was all constant pen on paper.  There where many ideas built up from our time away from each other as well as new personal experiences. As a result we were able to get an album ready for studio (pre-production) within no time.  As for the recording process, it was a long and impatient wait.


As seen on your social media pages, you cover classic rock songs as part of your setlist. Who are your greatest influences and why? What song(s), if any, are your favorite to cover?

August: My personal greatest influences are Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge of blink-182. I can’t even begin to explain how much I’m a fan of theirs, I even have a blink-182 tattoo! We definitely mix in some older stuff, and I think my all time favorite cover that we do is “Interstate Love Song” by Stone Temple Pilots. We’ve been playing it solidly for 8 years now, and it’s always been a hit.

Matt: My two greatest influences are entirely different from one another. My favorite band has always been A Day to Remember, and I feel like you can hear some of that in our music. Lyrically I’ve always been a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen. My dad first got me into music when I was a little kid and would always play “Born to Run” in the car. To this day I think Bruce has to be one of the best storytellers in the music world. And my favorite cover of ours is “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down.

Joe: We take a lot of influence from pop punk groups like blink-182, Green Day, Yellowcard, and State Champs to name a few. However, we also mix in a bluesy rock and roll flavor into our music. Our lead guitarist is a big fan of Led Zeppelin, and I imagine that’s where that comes from. We also each have our own personal tastes that influence our sound. For example, my biggest influences as a drummer are Zac Farro’s playing with Paramore and my experiences playing jazz drums in school.

Devin: When it comes to the music that we write if its rock and roll then it’s an influence. We grab sounds from many bands across the pop-punk genre including Blink-182, Green Day, The Story So Far, Mom Jeans and many more. Even with all the influences we do our best to try and bring to the table sounds that have never been heard before.


You guys are currently recording a 5-track EP that includes songs that either didn’t make the final cut to Garden State Skies, or that you wrote while you were waiting to complete the album. What’s the concept for the record?

August: To me, the concept of the record draws from the post-college life. GSS had a lot of roots in college experience, and the situations we wrote about on this EP are about what comes next. Mostly about girls because hey, it’s pop punk, but on a much stronger level. It even features a song our drummer Joe wrote, which is going to be awesome because this is his first real experience writing with us.

Matt: The album was more or less me or Devin instructing the rest of the band how to play our finished ideas, but for this EP all four of us built each of the songs from the ground up. Similar to the album, the songs are fully based on personal experiences. There’s no central concept to the record either, which has made choosing a title all the more difficult for us. Still, if I had to decide on an overall theme, I’d say “high points and low points.”

Joe:  There wasn’t really a concept picked out going into this album. We wrote each song first, then tried to find some similarities and themes to tie everything together. All of the songs are about expressing powerful emotions, so currently the concept is strong feelings and lack of a stable middle ground. This will be more solidified when we actually decide on a title.

Devin:  This upcoming EP is what I’d like to consider our adolescence. With a more developed and mature sound it feels good to have music that we are extremely proud of and that holds up to a modern standard of rock n’ roll.   


What is your most memorable show and why? Any gigs coming up that might outshine that memory?

August: Hmm. Over the winter we played a show at The Barbary in Philly with 3rd Time’s a Charm, Ditz, and Dead Robins and it was just an absolute blast. It’s always wonderful to play a local show like some of ours at Curran’s in Palmyra, where we’ve had some big draws. I’m looking forward to any of our summer shows because we have so much more material to share with the people now.

Matt: I think my most memorable show was playing a full night at Curran’s in Palmyra in winter of 2018. That bar was pretty much where we got our start at open mics. I’ll always prefer original sets over full cover band nights, but being the house-band for the first time, and also for a packed house was really cool. Right now I’m just excited to start playing shows again so I’m most looking forward to playing Harper’s Pub in Clementon at the beginning of our June tour. The venue itself is really cool and the past few times I’ve been there (whether it be for an ASG show or watching other bands) it’s always a fun time.

Joe: To me, one of the most memorable shows was when we played The Trocadero Theatre in Philly on a Sunday at the beginning of the summer of 2018. If I remember correctly, this was our first gig in Philly, which was a big step for us. It was also the first gig of the summer after I came home from school, and I remember feeling happy to be back behind the kit with the guys. Oh… and we also ended up lugging my drum set down a few blocks of Chinatown because I parked in the wrong parking garage. I think I’d definitely describe that part as memorable! I’m looking forward to playing an outdoor show in Lancaster, PA this summer. I’ve had the pleasure to practically live there over the past four years and it’s such a great area and an amazing music scene.

Devin: For me the most memorable show has to be our very first show.  After not only walking away from music for a while but also the close friends I use to make the music with, it felt surreal to be sitting on a stage again in front of an audience. Once the show came and went I was eager for nothing more then show after show after show. 

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In a sentence, how would you describe your local music scene?

August: “Love the local scene.” There’s some absolutely fantastic bands out there, and we’ve made some really great friends over the last year. Sweep Echo, Drive Theory to name a few.

Matt: “Every aspect of our music scene is wonderful.” I’m glad that we’ve been able to be a part of it these past few years.

Joe: “The local music scene in South Jersey/Philly has lots of variety and is growing rapidly.”

Devin: “Our local music scene is almost like a family.” We find ourselves constantly either playing with bands that we have already played with or attending some of the amazing shows put on in the tri-state area.  We’ve made many friends along the way and I’m looking extremely forward to meeting many more talents and especially some peculiar characters.


Anything else you want our readers to know?

August: Thanks for taking the time to read about us, and I hope you’re looking forward to our EP as much as we are.

Matt: Thanks for reading the article and supporting our music! If you want to see us live, our next run of shows starts June 1.

Joe: I encourage everyone to check out their local music scene. I didn’t until I was a part of it with ASG, and I had no idea what I was missing. It has been a cool journey learning to become a fan as well as a performer, and I’ve seen so many great live shows in the past few years. I hope that you enjoy our music and take something out of it, whether it’s a deep emotional connection or just a big smile. Thanks for reading about us and maybe we’ll meet you at a show sometime.

Devin: If you love music, don’t lose it–you may find it to be your light in the dark.

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All Systems Go goes on a 2-week tour this Saturday. Be sure to check them out and follow them on social media as they rock up and down the east coast.


2019 Tour dates:

6/1 – Harper’s Pub, Clementon NJ

6/6 – Time Out Entertainment, Barrington NJ

6/7 – Station One Center for the Arts, Lancaster PA

6/8 – Bourre, Atlantic City NJ

6/11 – Rack’s Pub, Atco NJ

6/13 – Bourbon & Branch, Philadelphia PA

6/14 – The Stanhope House, Stanhope NJ

6/15 – The Boardwalk, Ocean City NJ 

Sounds x Words: Before They’re Famous//Tetrafuze

TetraFuze started this musical journey in the spring of 2018 with only some guitar riffs and the idea to record an album. With four members who differ in many different ways, from musical background and influences to playing styles, it is hard to define this band as one true genre or subgenre. The closest I can describe is a powerful commercial alt-rock sound, like a indie fusion project in your neighbor’s garage, like a zebra who doesn’t know he has stripes, or like 311 but better and with a fresh, young outlook on life.

Frontman Landon Randall grew up with classic thrash and grunge as his greatest influences; drummer Tyler Secrest has influences across the board from contemporary jazz to Breaking Benjamin; guitarist Kaylon Grimsley has a background of alternative influences including Muse and the Arctic Monkeys; and bassist Travis Collins, who cites his inspiration comes from bands like Tool and Three Days Grace.

To put things in perspective, Tyler is currently a student at Pittsburgh State University, and Landon is a finance major at the University of Kansas. Despite having hectic schedules during fall and spring semesters, coming together to “fuze” their four different playing styles is always a priority. Student-musicians can, and in fact, do, practice effective time management skills in order to make rehearsals work with studying, playing gigs while finishing their degrees.  

A small moment later and I was able to get a conversation with Landon to talk about the band, the release of their album, Welcome Home and what the music scene in Kansas is really like. 

Tetrafuze in-concert Credit: Hunter Crane

 

Tetrafuze–
I see that some of your members attend the University of Kansas and Pittsburg State University. What kinds of challenges have you faced as a band with their members pursuing higher education in different schools?

Landon: It’s more difficult to practice together when school is in session. During summer, it’s easy to get at least one rehearsal weekly, but during the semester we are lucky to get one in a month. It’s also difficult to schedule shows when our schedules are so limiting until the breaks.

You just recently completed your first full-length album ‘Welcome Home’. What can you tell our readers about the record?

It started off as a just for fun project that turned a little more serious as we recorded. We made it into a thematic album that follows a former soldier through a dark time in his life. The music itself is very diverse with anything from soft rock and blues to hard rock and metal. It is definitely an album we plan to build off of stylistically as we continue to make more music.

What was your last gig like? What does Kansas’ music scene look like?

Our last gig was a fairly good one. The turn out wasn’t as much as expected due to the snowy weather conditions, but those who did show up brought some amazing energy to the show. The Kansas scene is very overcrowded right now. There are very few venues and so many local artists looking for gigs that it is hard to get on a bill locally. That’s why we like to play out of state most of the time, because it is easier to book shows and more opportunities going that route.

Credit: Hunter Crane
Tetrafuze Credit: Hunter Crane

And as a follow-up question, what are your observations about today’s music scene as a whole?

There are so many good artists out there, and many do not get the attention they deserve. It can be difficult to get attention towards new original music with the over saturation of artists in today’s world. However, this pushes musicians to make the best music they possibly can, and from a consumer point of view, it’s a great thing.

You guys are signed to Sliptrick Records. How have they influenced you and how did you get to where you are today?

Sliptrick was a point where we decided to take our music a little more serious. Being on their roster has definitely opened doors that would be locked for us otherwise, and it continues to open new opportunities for us as we continue through our music career.

In your opinion, what role does social media play for musicians? Musicians in college?

It is crucial to push the image you want to give off and to grow your following. Having a good following with good number across the board, with likes, shares, and views, can make a musician’s life much easier, especially when booking shows.

What is a guilty pleasure song/band/album that you all share?

A guilty pleasure we all share is Muse’s latest album Simulation Theory. It is constantly playing in the van. The only other thing that I can think of is “Country Roads” by John Denver. That song plays every time we get back in the van after a show.

Credit: Hunter Crane
Tetrafuze Credit: Hunter Crane

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Following the completion of their Lighting the Fuze tour this past winter, the guys started and finished recording their second full length album, Soveriegnty of the Tortured and are in the process of booking new tour dates from mid June to the end of July.

Give their latest single, “Personal Purgatory” a listen right here

Sounds x Premiere: Natey G // No Penny

Natey G strolled into class this Wednesday packing a special hump-day delivery: his new music video for “No Penny.” The frat-star turned rap-star teamed up with producer Gregory Ross to release a slew of singles as follow up to Airplane Mode, his 2018 sophomore release. Although still an undergrad, the Weston, CT native has been steamrolling since his 2017 single “April Showers” put him on the map, dropping two singles this year alone.

The new track is as coltish as it is crass. The lyrics breach through beaming synths and drumfire hi-hats to crown the song like a court passing judgment: “Y’all just ain’t feeling yourself / It’s sad to see you ain’t gonna be real with yourself.” Its fervently blunt approach hits like a weaponized panic attack- Natey G chews up the listener and spits them back out before they’ve realized the song is over.

The video’s cacophony of glitches and jump cuts put the viewer on a breakneck acid trip to the center of Natey G’s mind- where pipedreams replace five-year-plans, and suburban streets sink down into subway systems. The hard to swallow lyrics and unrelenting rhythm section call for both a gut-check and a penchant spin of your stereo’s volume knob.

You can keep up with UConn’s favorite MC by following Natey G on Instagram.


Pasquale Liuzzi
Music Writer // LeftbankCollege

Sounds x Premiere: Toxic Holiday // backseat throwback

Toxic Holiday is channeling serious nineties vibes with their new music video “backseat throwback.” It’s vintage aesthetic and lyrical content recall the days before Bluetooth, when “home video” was part of the English vernacular. The indie-soul quartet from New Haven can usually be found playing various college campuses around Connecticut. You can follow them on Instagram here.

Pasquale Liuzzi
Music Writer // leftbankcollege

Sounds x Words: Before They’re Famous//Arcadia

My name is Andy Reed, and the idea is a simple one: what happens when you combine the drive for higher education with a never-ending Rolodex of band press kits and social media pages? With a cup of coffee and a great deal of patience, I look and listen for the next young somethings out there to give them a moment in color. Shine on you crazy diamonds, and let it be known that this is the moment in time before you were famous.


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With the rise of streaming platforms and the lackluster attitudes directed toward radio stations, the environment for independent bands is on the decline. The grunge-funk band Arcadia, composed of three undergrads at the University of New Haven, rings new light to the alt-indie sound with their lyrically-driven progressive style, bridging the gap between the Rolling Stones and Nirvana. Based in West Haven, Connecticut, this power trio produces a sound that resonates with anyone who likes a solid progressive breakdown like that of the White Stripes, or who can groove to a verse pattern similar to that of the Pixies.

The newest demo off their latest self-titled EP, “Do You Love Me,” has the colors of indie rock but waves the freak flag of classic punk music. Punctuated with rhythms that predate their time, Arcadia “doesn’t give a shit about your politics,” and clearly does so with their music.

After a few weeks of coordinating interviews, I was able to catch up with Arcadia to dish about the status of the DIY indie-punk space and what the Northeast music scene really looks like. Punk is still alive and well, it seems.

You’re a self-proclaimed grunge-funk trio from New Haven, CT. To those who don’t know, what is the music scene like over there? Any recent successes?

Arcadia: The New Haven music scene is awesome.  There are tons of DIY venues and basement shows, the community is very supportive and always makes the shows a great time.  As for successes out of Connecticut, I think it all depends on how you measure success. For us, even though were just starting out, we feel like we already have had more than we could imagine. We have people listening to our music regularly, coming out to our shows for us, and it feels awesome.

You sound something like Nirvana mixed with the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a dash of classic rock like the Rolling Stones, Kansas or REO Speedwagon. Do you agree/disagree? What are your influences?

Arcadia (from left to right): Michaela Sullivan (Bass), Chris Theurer (Vocals/Guitar), Tom Barvick (Drums)

Tom: Yeah I think that sums us up pretty well! The cool thing of this band is we all come from different areas.  I am from Boston, Chris is from New York, and Michaela is from New Jersey, so environmentally we all have different influences.  Musically, we also are quite diverse in what we listen to, while having a lot of common ground between us. I draw influences from a wide variety of artists, which I think helps a ton on writing drum parts for our songs, or helping out with the songwriting.  Some of my main influences are Filter, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Townes Van Zandt among many others.

Chris:
I really respect Kurt Cobain as a lyricist and songwriter, so his influence on me is pretty huge.  The Foo Fighters are also a big influence on me with how rocking they are, and the Chili peppers definitely influence me with their funkiness.

Michaela:
I draw inspiration from the RHCP bassist Flea and the Black Keys. The fact that the [Black Keys] are only two guys and they are able to create such a big rocking sound inspires me, and since we are only a three piece I take that as an inspiration that we can sound huge as well.

You’re working on releasing a full-length album this year. What does your writing/recording process look like? Any stories from the studio?

Tom: We are super excited to get our full length out there. The writing process typically looks like Chris coming into the room with an idea that he wrote acoustically, and then we jam it out as a band until we reach a sound that we like.  For the recording process, we are always determined to get the best product and work efficiently. We were lucky to be able to work with our friend Joey Stanca at Checkmate Creative* for this full length.
Having someone you are good friends with who also is really good at what they do is a great time. It makes for a fun setting because we were able to goof off and have fun, while ultimately all being focused on reaching the same goal. These late night sessions were fueled by many McDonald’s and 7/11 runs, and many shenanigans.  Some good stories from the studio would be: On the day we were supposed to start drum tracking, I was playing recreational flag football the night for fun, and some dude decided to take it too seriously and make it a full contact sport. He destroyed the cartilage in my index finger and I was in the ER the whole night, and we had to delay the tracking by a week.

In your opinion, is the university environment conducive for musicians? Why or why not?

Arcadia: Our university (University of New Haven) is definitely great for meeting like-minded people and meeting musicians, due to it being partially a music school.  So, yes certainly the right university will definitely be beneficial for networking and meeting people with different backgrounds but similar interests.
If it was up to us we would be writing and rehearsing and touring as much as we could, but obviously we also are here for an education, so we have to devote a lot of our time to classes and work.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge?

Tom: The biggest challenge for us, or any band in this current time, is getting our music heard.  We live in a great time where its easy to distribute music to streaming platforms, and more music is being put out than ever before.  However, that leads to challenges getting music heard because its easy to get lost in a sea of other things being released at the same time.  Its all awesome for sure, but definitely adds a challenge.

What happens now that the album is finished? What’s next for you?

Arcadia: We are just focusing hard on getting this album out and promoting it. We have worked really hard on it and want everyone to hear it and hopefully connect to it get something out of it.  We also are looking to play way more shows, and especially get out to other parts of the country, and hopefully the world.

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If you’d like to catch Arcadia on the road, their tour dates are as follows:

Tour Dates:
March 16 – Ted House, Allston MA
March 22, Boontunes, Boonton, NJ
April 13, Thee Sun, West Haven, CT
May 11, Cherry Street Station, Wallingford, CT
May 14, Tazraks, Naugatuck, CT

Sounds: Vern Matz // Cityscapes

Vern Matz, the result of an Ivy League collaboration based on the campus of Yale University, is a delicate, emotive blend of indie rock, folk, and alternative sensibilities, wrapped up in mellow rhythms and bluesy melodies. “Cityscapes,” their latest release, drifts naturally, like a leaf on a cool autumn breeze, moving along at an easy pace as lead singer Daniel Belgrad strings together a beautiful story.

“For now, it’s fine
Waste of our time
Out where the stars forget to shine.” 

“Hold your breath, it’ll all be over soon / Stuck inside this cage that’s built for you / Stuck inside this cage that can’t fit two,” Belgrad sings. The first release from their upcoming Bobblehead EP, “Cityscapes” is the perfect soundtrack to those January blues.

Stream “Cityscapes” here:

Sounds x Premiere: Banana Cream // We’ll Shine

Words by William

Banana Cream‘s “We’ll Shine” is a dreamy and ethereal lullaby. Its beeps and dings are the edge of falling asleep. You know that moment? You’re warm, surrounded and covered in blankets and pillows as you drift in and out of sleep. Reality gets a little fuzzy at that point — you’re in bed, but you’re somewhere else, too. You’re one foot in a dream.

For me, I get pulled back into a warm July day in 2013. I was sprawled out in the grass by a lake. Fish jumped, birds chirped, and kids laughed somewhere nearby while I read “Leaves of Grass.” This tune pulls me back to that moment, and the warmth of my bed can almost be mistaken for the warmth of the summer sun.

Banana Cream is the Commerce, California based lo-fi, bedroom music project created by multi-talented Will Gonzalez. He writes, records, mixes and produces for Banana Cream at his home studio.

Hear it below:

Sounds: Let Me Know x Banana Cream Boy

Words by William

I’m back in my bedroom and up in my head with Banana Cream. This dreamy bedroom pop project by Will Gonzalez is the sound of standing in the cold far past when you said you’d be home. Trying to cover a new tattoo. Delete a text message. Cover the liquor on your breath. Practicing to lie away the fun that occupied your night.

Gentle harmony and a heavy beat keep you moving while you fumble for your keys. Your immediate future looks grim, but it was worth it. You were you for just a little while.

Hear it below:

Wm

Words x Interview: The Nude Party

It’s Good and I Like It: 5 Minutes with The Nude Party’s Patton Magee

Words by Luci Turner

You formed in 2012 at Appalachian State University, and — six years later — are touring with The Arctic Monkeys and Jack White, two of the biggest rock acts of our time. How do you even begin to describe that?

We are super fortunate to have a full team of badass women working behind the scenes with us, namely our booking agent Kiely Mosiman and our management duo Cara Merendino and Amanda Soltis. They are the ones that have gotten our videos and our record in front of people like Jack White, and in front of the Arctic Monkeys.

The Arctic Monkeys and Jack both liked us enough to bring us on to play some shows with them. We’re really lucky and grateful to them for having us. We all put a lot of work and sacrifice into the band, and it’s really validating to get to play before legends like them, and then to see them play. Sometimes I get to thinking we are pretty cool — pretty good — then I see Jack White just absolutely dominate the attention of 5,000 people, and the way he seamlessly runs the show without a set list. He and his band are amazing. There’s usually a pretty good reason that thousands of people will turn out to see a band like Jack’s or the Arctic Monkeys. It’s ‘cause they’re fucking good. Seeing people perform like that reminds me we’ve got a lot of work to do. It stokes the fire under my ass.

You’re part of a new wave of psychedelic, vintage-inspired rock that’s growing beyond the mainstream media, a new type of “outlaw music.” How have you taken that sound and made it your own, and how does it feel to know that you’re successfully making music outside the fringes of what’s commercially popular?

I think the idea of mainstream music has kind of frayed out in the last decade. It seems to me there isn’t really one main genre surrounded by tiny subcultures anymore. There’s a lot of genres now, all with their own fanbases and cultures surrounding them. There are bands you’ve never heard of that sell out tours in big rooms, then, on the flip-side, there are major artists that everyone’s heard of, but neither you or your friends ever listen to. So I don’t think that we’re making music outside of the fringes. I think we inhabit one of many overlapping “bubbles,” but, like any artist, I hope we eventually transcend that.

The Nude Party listens like a mixed drink of Southern music from the 60s and rock groups from Laurel Canyon and England; who would you say has had the greatest influence on you, when it comes to writing and performing? Who would you say is the most surprising influence?

It’s probably no surprise that we love the Velvet Underground, Bowie, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Animals, all that really good 60s and 70s stuff. The amount of classic country we listen to might be surprising, and maybe that will bubble to the surface and start to influence us more in the next album. We also have this really great “bad country” playlist that we play in the van a lot, really shit songs that are fun to listen to: country-rap about dipping, disingenuous patriotic shit like Blake Shelton. Hopefully the bad country doesn’t show up as an influence!

What’s the creative process like? How did it change from Hot Tub to The Nude Party?

We’ve gotten better at playing our instruments, for one. We acquired instruments at the same time that we started the band, so, skill-wise, we really started at the bottom. But I think our style and skills are just enhancing and becoming more interesting over time. At first, we were excited just to be able to play a riff together. Over the past five years, we naturally raised the bar for ourselves with every record and show. Our influences have diversified.

We live in a time where rock music rarely tops the charts, but that doesn’t keep fans from packing into rock clubs, buying vinyl, and being just as devoted to their favorite bands as fans were in the 60s and 70s. Why do you think rock is so important, and how are you carrying on the legacy? On the other hand, how are you blazing your own path?

Other genres die out, but rock ’n roll just adapts and keep pushing. I don’t know where it gets its magic permanence from, I just know it’s good and I like it.

What’s your ultimate bucket list concert? Any band, any era.

I’d love to see Neil Young in any capacity, with any of his backing bands, or solo with an acoustic guitar and piano. He’s my favorite songwriter of all time.

Photo by Mike Belleme

Call for Submissions

The wheels of our existence turn on thanks to your submissions, shout outs, ‘tip’ emails (“YOU’VE GOT TO CHECK OUT THIS BAND”), friends in PR, and well connected grunge//hipster socialites.

And socialists.

Get in where you can fit in and send your submissions, tips, and socialite friends to editor@leftbankcollege.com.

Generally, we look for visual art, poetry and prose, music submissions, and artist//band interviews. But, we’ve been known to travel off the beaten path every now and again. All work must be original, because plagiarism isn’t fun for anyone. Extra points for weirdness.

 

Sounds: Fresh Brad x Inning

I bake a lot of bread during the summer which inspired me to write a song about leisure, love, and baking.

Everyone and their mama knows that I have this major ear-crush on Inning. Their sound is a full-body experience, the vocals touch your soul, the instrumentals stroke your ears, and everything just feels pure but also sad at the same time; and also complete.

Does that make any sense? Sometimes I feel like I’m just writing an online diary or talking to one of those modern internet therapists.

I guess that’s what music is anyway.

Inning got its start last fall at The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia (apparently it’s a really good school. fun fact: my uncle went there). The cool thing about Inning is that it sounds like a full band but it’s actually just the homie Evan Frolov, laying out his life and love and soul and everything from his Macbook Pro in his dorm to the internet waves. He’s deep and cool; understands complexities of life, but is able to make them feel so simple and soulful. Which is a fucking art.

I think that good lyrics come from the words spoken on the street. If I don’t say it in real life, I won’t sing it, unless I’m being ironic, but I haven’t smoked that much pot.

So the thing about this track is that unlike some other tracks of his that really hit home (Expensive Flights makes me cry), this track truly is just about his love of baking bread, and love, and leisure.

It’s a mix of what you get with Inning and that’s what I love about them. It’s accessible and fun; beautiful and sad; and leaves a little spot on your heart.

This review was not paid for, I just really like their music. Hopefully you will too …

Sounds: D.C. Party Machine x Inning

Charlottesville, VA indie rock group Inning – featuring songwriter/vocalist Evan Frolov – made their debut on Left Bank a few weeks ago with the shoegaze dream track, “White Girls, Black Jackets.” The second release and title track from Inning’s debut EP, The D.C. Party Machine EP, “D.C. Party Machine” is an equally dreamy track chronicling a new era of Frolov’s life.

Inspired by a stint as an intern in Washington, D.C., “D.C. Party Machine” is a love song to the city and the changes Frolov experienced during his time there.

“I felt proud of my accomplishments and confident in myself,” Frolov says. “It was a departure from the indie rock, awkward, slightly self-deprecating persona I had somehow acquired. But while in D.C., I felt respected. I was making money doing something I loved, and I was going to fancy parties. This song is an ode to adulthood, and a love song for D.C. and myself.”

Adept at painting a scene with great detail (I left my car on Wall Street / And I look cool with my shades on / And every blonde girl thinks I’m so tight / I wanna be there / I even try), Frolov has a unique ability to draw me into the song until I’m there with him, walking into a party with a bottle of rum in a brown bag because “I’m no boring birthday card.” I can’t be sure, but I might even love D.C.

Watch the music video to “D.C. Party Machine” here:

Sounds: Hearth Music’s Best of 2018 Playlist

Words by Kat Bula, Hearth Music

I’m delighted that Left Bank has invited me to introduce this playlist of a few of the amazing artists we at Hearth PR have had the honor of promoting this year.  As the firm’s newest publicist, it’s been a great chance to catch up on the ones I missed before I started at Hearth…and what a catalog! From gritty fringe country to poignant craft songwriters, from roots traditionalism to lush indie shot through with Arctic throat singing, here’s a sampling of 2018’s best:

J.P. Harris – “JP’s Florida Blues #1” 

Free Dirt Records had a big year this year, and fringe country artist JP Harris was kind of their flagship. A carpenter by day, JP’s lived a Woody Guthrie life, hopping trains and living in the mountains. But his new album taps into his wide Nashville network (and was produced by Morgan Jahnig of Old Crow Medicine Show).

Sunny War – “Gotta Live It”

One of our breakout artists this year, Sunny War came off the LA streets with a wildly inventive and virtuosic guitar style, and lyrics that were brutally honest views at life, love, and being black in America right now.  

The Rails – “Hanging On”

The Rails are like if Nick Drake and Coldplay had a fashionable British baby, but without any of the sentimentalism. They’re perfect for an angry walk around town, the soundtrack for your morning commute, or seeing your lover in a more honest light.  

Jonathan Byrd – “Taking It Back”

Byrd’s diamond-sharp songcraft is in turns slyly comedic, bittersweet, and vividly narrative.  Expansive electric guitar and cello convey the vastness and grit of the American West, home to many of the ranch hands, roughnecks, and other contemporary cowboys that populate Byrd‘s songs.

Vivian Leva – “Bottom of the Glass”

We still can’t figure out how Appalachian-country songwriter Vivian Leva, not even old enough to drink, could write a song that so piercingly describes a marriage gone cold. “Bottom of the Glass” sounds like a tears-in-your-beer instant-classic but chills our bones with its hard observations.

The Jellyman’s Daughter – “Oh Boy”

With stunning duet vocals and sweeping string arrangements, this Edinburgh duo seamlessly blends roots music influences with a contemporary indie folk sensibility and loads of heart.

3hattrio – “Faith”

3hattrio’s American Desert music has a wild and otherworldly sound, the product of three very different musicians merging their work together with the arid, high-altitude soil and shifting shadows of the Utah wilderness. Mixing the routine with the unusual, they fuse American folk music with outsider elements like autotune, psychedelia, and minimalism.

Beatrice Deer – “Takugiursugit” 

Beatrice Deer is wildly difficult to classify; not because she refuses to be, but because a cloud of mystery clings to each of her artistic endeavors (she is also a seamstress and educator). Her throat singing, in the vein of Tanya Tagaq, brings an eerie beauty to her releases that has earned her countless awards, such as the Canadian Aboriginal Music Award. Her latest record, My All To You, calls upon the strength of her native culture and womanhood.

Pharis & Jason Romero – “Sweet Old Religion”

Masters of acoustic tone; no other duo in roots music sounds like this. The songs on the new album tap into old world spirituality and the love of community.

Kevin Gordon – “Saint On A Chain”

Kevin Gordon is an anomaly as a storyteller. In Lucinda Williams’ words, “His songs are like short stories.” In the economy of words, Gordon is a savvy deal-maker, imbuing the final product with a value that is hard to come by in the broad landscape of contemporary music. Whether he has more in common with John Prine or Jim Jarmusch or Ovid or Walker Percy is a discussion that could be had over the course of a four-pint night in a muggy Nashville bar, but even then, it would be difficult to arrive at a conclusion. But in any case, as Buddy Miller says, “It reminds me why I love music.”

Leftover Salmon – “Show Me Something Higher”

Americana originals Leftover Salmon have been on the road for thirty years, but the music only grows brighter. Their new album features more contributions from each band member, taking them into new territory like horn-blasting R&B and reverb-drenched desert noir.

Sounds: Vern Matz // Shelby

Vern Matz formed at Yale University, where the members are currently finishing up their undergraduate studies. The bandmates met at a college party and instantly connected over their mutual admiration for Radiohead—it was like love at first sight.

Got this adorable track in from this Yale University band, Vern Matz. According to their Facebook page, they are “the lovechild of a philosophy student, an investment banker, and a boy with a David Foster Wallace tattoo.” Can I be 10 years younger so we can be friends?

Vern Matz’s eponymous debut EP was born out of several road trips between New Haven and Philadelphia. In a lot of ways, the EP is about Vern Matz coming of age—as individuals and as a band. Faced with finding a place in the world, the band shies away from those looming decisions and instead embraces a wistful indifference.

The single from their EP, “Shelby Park” is this amazing, smooth-sailing track that is very reminiscent of Wilco; and even brings back some old nostalgia from my own college days with Yellowcard and Dashboard in that slow and sentimental, but also catchy kind of way.

“As a band, we call the song Shelby Park — “Shelby”. Perhaps we are on a first name basis with the song because of how close we have grown to it; Shelby’s a big part of our lives now. But this wasn’t always the case. Shelby Park didn’t have it’s identity until it was done. It was only until after the song was complete that it really grew on all of us.”

Listen to the track here xx