Emily Keener - Rips - Spirit Bunny - Northern National - Vulgarians

Emily Keener - Light & Sound.

Background - Emily Keener is a eighteen-year-old singer/songwriter from Wakeman, OH. Since her exciting journey into the Top 12 on NBC’s The Voice, Emily has been writing and recording diligently in an effort to capture the energy of this most transformative year.

Emily started playing the guitar when she was 11 years old and began writing songs when she was almost 12. A natural curiosity and passion for music quickly got her performing frequently and writing constantly. Almost 6 years later, she has written over 100 original songs and released three EPs and two LPs. Her songs are distinctly original, and the ideas she manages to express in them belie a soul that seems to be much older than seventeen. Before training with renowned vocal coach, Joan Ellison and master guitarist, Tony Schaffer, Emily was entirely self-taught and thrived on the time she spent locked away with a guitar and a notebook.

Quote From Emily: "'Light & Sound' was so much fun to create. The open space we filmed in and the lighthearted lyrics really meshed together well, and I was very happy to have friends working on it with me. The director, Andrew Schaeffer (Monocle), is a stand-up fella and he does great work. Kassandra Lee choreographed her dance routine, and performed it wonderfully. The whole video has an easygoing charm and it always makes me smile.” Website here, Facebook here.

The lyrics feel as if you are listening to one side of someone else's conversation, and they are supplied in a delicious, melodic manner that is captivating from the start. Add in the imaginative sound track and 'Light & Sound' really is a refreshing and original piece, with a video to seal the deal.


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Rips – Malibu Entropy.

Background - Brooklyn based Rips have quickly built a reputation amongst NYC showgoers, winning them over with their virtuous melodies and sheer ferocity amidst an endless flurry of shows. Their songs may channel late '70s New York City bands like Television and The Feelies, but Rips propels these references into something new. 

Their self-titled debut, produced by Austin Brown of Parquet Courts, is eleven tracks of buzzing guitar riffs driven by a charged rhythm section, all set under lyrics that are actually worth a damn.

Rips (the record) takes cues from the moonlighting era of rock, while delivering a set of songs distinctly fit for the modern age. Once described as a “hyperreal rock n’ roll group”, the phrase “borne forward ceaselessly into the future" is more what they’re going for here. So break an old habit. Let your hair down (or up). Rips will take you there. Facebook here, Label here. Tour dates on Beehive Candy's tour page.

'Malibu Entropy' is an impressive two and a half minutes of timeless rock, resplendent and sincere, the band calmly turn up the power when required, the vocals for me have that late 70's NYC band feel as mentioned above. There is an emotional under current that clinches it for me, the album is on my wan't list.

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Spirit Bunny - Disco Horseride Montage.

Background - Arriving brashly via circuit-bent Casio keyboards and buzzing Commodore 64 synths, Brisbane experimental pop three-piece Spirit Bunny have just released their cacophonous self-titled debut LP (Detonic Recordings), premiered through Grain Zine. Spirit Bunny will also kick off a six-date LP launch tour at Canberra's Lobrow Gallery tonight, to be followed by Sydney, Melbourne, Wollongong, Adelaide and Brisbane.

Though Spirit Bunny work predominantly with "retro" instruments, their frenzied, motif-driven sound is anything but. Despite the lack of guitars, Spirit Bunny's chaotic blend of broken sound bears as much in common with noise-guitar-pop bands as dark synth-wave groups. Recorded in drummer Cameron Smith's studio Incremental Records (Velociraptor, Deafcult, Danyl Jesu), the album has so far received praise from industry figures at FBi, 4ZZZ, 3RRR and Who The Hell, and plenty of airplay on the wings of singles Amen Skew (current), Disco Horseride Montage and fan favourite Marshmallows.

A DIY band through and through, a Spirit Bunny debut full-length release was perhaps always inexorably fated to explore consumer culture as a central theme. Intermittent cut-and-paste lyrics are paired with discomforting corners of sound to both criticise and celebrate the way we consume. By way of protecting each physical copy of their album with a bright cardboard case, hand-painted by the band, Spirit Bunny's ethos is apparent before a listener even removes the vinyl from its sleeve. Facebook here, Bandcamp hereTour dates on Beehive Candy's tour page.

The opening track from Spirit Bunny's brand new album is 'Disco Horseride Montage'. It's a wonderful introduction to a highly creative collection of material. What could so easily slip into chaos, actually comes to order with the sonic disarray, building into one fabulous song, go check the album for more.

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Northern National - MoneyBlind.

Background - Offering a southern vibe to alternative music, Dallas, TX based band, Northern National is setting sail for stardom. The five-piece rock band formed in August 2016 and released their debut EP, The New Age, later that year. Produced by Dan Stringer (X Ambassadors, Ms. Lauryn Hill), The New Age features 5 indie-rock gems, including their debut single, "Love Is Fire", which caught the attention of Spotify.

"Love is Fire" was featured on Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist and charted on Spotify's Viral 50 worldwide. Music curators such as Topsify, Filtr, and even Coca-Cola, have also featured the song on their playlists.  Since the release of The New Age, Northern National's songs have been streamed over 700,000 times and counting.

Sonically, Northern National has been compared to bands such as X Ambassadors, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Kings of Leon and Imagine Dragons. With an ever-growing fan base across the US, they aim to set out on their first national tour this year. The band considers the legendary House of Blues in Dallas their second home and have played festivals such as SXSW and Red Gorilla. Northern National has shared the stage with notable artists such as Andy Grammer, Echosmith, Mat Kearney, MAGIC!, and more. 

Their latest single, “MoneyBlind”, released in April of 2017, proves that the group has a good head on their shoulders and is ready for the next step in their career. Teaming up with producer, Dan Stringer once again and mastering by John Davis of Metropolis Mastering (U2, Lana Del Ray, Royal Bloods), the single seamlessly bridges the gap between southern, indie, & alternative rock in a little under four minutes. “To us, “MoneyBlind” is a reminder that however much success we achieve - to not sacrifice the people, morals, and loved ones that matter most in your life. The road might be slower, but it’ll be worth it in the end,” the band states. Website here, Facebook here.

High calibre alt rock with some refined and melodic vibes ensures 'MoneyBlind' is quick to get noticed. Indie and southern rock flavours creep in through the vocals and a slick burst of guitar magic.

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Vulgarians - Of Humdrum Consumption.

Background - Hull’s Vulgarians are sharing their thunderous new single ‘Of Humdrum Consumption’ – the second track to be taken from their new EP titled Almost-Instinct, Almost True due out on May 5th 2017.  Produced by MJ of Hookworms (TRAAMS, Eagulls, Pulled Apart By Horses), the EP is to be closely trailed with a full UK headline tour (full dates below) throughout May taking into account a date at London’s Old Blue Last on May 23rd. 

Speaking about ‘Of Humdrum Consumption’ frontman Ryan Wilson-Preen says; “In many ways the song sounds more typical of an earlier Vulgarians’ track in regard to the discordant feedback but shows an indication that we’ve moved forward and can write something more. We’ve finally allowed our Krautrock fascination to be absorbed into a new, vulgar life.”

Following a chance encounter after a gig at Brudenell Social Club last year, Hookworms’ frontman MJ invited Vulgarians to record their next EP at his Suburban Home studio in Leeds, also offering up his production services. Speaking about working with MJ, Wilson-Preen says: “We’re all really big fans of his work with Hookworms and he’s also produced many of our favourite records. We knew he could certainly add his experience, but also bring his music knowledge to the table.”

Taking its title from work by Hull poet Philip Larkin, Almost-instinct, Almost True finds Vulgarians in their most pulse-quickening but focused form, demonstrating a marked progression in sound from their previous release. There is a heftier emphasis upon the bass and groove within songs; bassist Jodie Smith and drummer Connor Cheesman find a progressed alliance in the rhythm section that plays into Vulgarians’ newly found sleaze. Whilst shades of the Morphine, Sonic Youth and Jesus and Mary Chain records which soundtracked the writing of Life’s Successful Death still show, Almost-Instinct, Almost True is driven by the same barbed energy propelling influences from Rowland S. Howard, PiL and Iggy Pop. Hands Around The Waste’ is the finest example of Vulgarians’ musical and lyrical dynamic. Split down the middle in two contrasting demeanours, the song finds the humour in a taxi drivers’ dark stories, incongruously mixing monumental choruses with sparse verses. Facebook here, tour dates on Beehive Candy's tour page.

Full of anxiety and sounding oh so close to the edge, 'Of Humdrum Consumption' is a feast of punk panic, that somehow manages to mix passion with noise and arrive with some remarkable hooks, you just have to play it again.

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