Midweek Muse: Otis English - Redspencer - Hand Habits - Carroll - Pepperhead

Otis English - Trigger.

Background promo - This past August, Otis English made his debut with “Young Kids, Old Love,” a breakout hit that quickly climbed to #1 on Hype Machine, was added to Spotify’s New Music Friday among other coveted playlists moving the song into both the Global and Top 20 US viral charts, and was part of Apple Music’s “Best Of The Week,” giving the song a cumulative 1M streams to date.

With his upcoming single, “Trigger,” scheduled for release on October 24th, Otis continues to speak to the darkness within while simultaneously dragging you into the light. With a big voice, beautifully twisted lyrics and a natural storyteller approach to performing, Otis has arrived in time to replenish the current well of truly meaningful artists. If his voice doesn’t break your heart, his lyrics, a window into his strange and nomadic history, definitely will.

Otis’ upbringing was far from ordinary. His history reads more like a chain of mishaps and tragedies than it does the upbringing of a songwriter. From accidentally burning down his childhood home to watching his father’s health drastically deteriorate while living out of his car, Otis doesn't glaze over the negative and the challenging parts of life. Instead, he takes those experiences and makes them bloom into beautiful melodies. With a pen and a guitar, he turns discomfort into something beautiful and relatable.

This wanderer now sets out a bold, new adventure. Otis will be releasing his debut EP in collaboration with indie label Crooked Paintings. This upcoming collection of songs is cinematic, but unapologetically gritty in the best kind of way. It’s catchy, inspired, and exactly what you want to hear from an artist who demands your attention, not with antics, but with honest, insightful stories and an undeniable voice. Facebook here.

Our second song feature for Otis English and this time with 'Trigger'. Last time around (back in August) we spoke of  "unrestrained commitment and very distinctive vocals" the latest song confirms that was no one off. Trigger adds passion and power to the equation and it's no surprise the song is getting a good number of plays in just a couple of days.


Redspencer - Rainbows.

Background - In late 2013, rural-born brothers Dave and Aiden McMillian traded the sun-drenched plains of northern New South Wales for the rich cultural tapestry — and comparatively dreary weather — of Melbourne. 2015 sees the two siblings (alongside Andre Franco on bass, and Alex Buchanan on guitar) continue to draw influence from their provenance in Redspencer.

The four-piece’s eponymous debut EP is a hark back to the band’s humble beginnings, evoking images of balmy, mid-summer drives along the coast with the windows down. The sunny, reverb-swathed guitar- pop of lead single ‘Happy Slow Riverbends’ captures that image to a tee, rousing comparisons to the likes of Spoon and Real Estate. Latest single ‘Fuss’ (taken from their forthcoming debut LP) however, channels the trademark non-chalance of ‘90s cult-classics Yo La Tengo — complete with jangling guitars and mellow harmonies, blanketed with layers of groggy analogue synth. Below the surface lies the poignant musings of songwriter Dave McMillan, whose lyrics have been described as “existentialism for the everyman”. It makes for an undeniably arresting, and at times, all too earnest combo.

Despite only having a four-track EP to their name, Redspencer have already garnered avid praise from the likes of NME, CMJ, Triple J, Indie Shuffle, and Time Out New York with ‘Ride It Out’ included at #14 in their Best Songs of 2015. With festival appearances at Brisbane’s Big Day Out, By The Meadow, Camp Casual, and Laneway Festival’s annual Live Music Safari – not to mention tour supports with Guantanamo Baywatch, The Preatures and Holy Holy – to their name, Redspencer are soon to be firing on all cylinders as they gear up for the release of their keenly anticipated debut album. Facebook here.

The new single 'Rainbows' is taken from the forthcoming album 'Perks'. Easy going vocals and harmonies are backed by an equally relaxed guitar lead music arrangement. Sometimes the most catchy songs are the ones that don't over do the layers, I think this song, is a case in point.


Hand Habits - All The While.

Background - "Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits, is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Upstate New York. She has been putting her time in on the road and in the studio over the past two years with  pacific northwest band Mega Bog, and the Kevin Morby Band, making an impression on everyone she comes across with her natural charisma and uncharted talent as a multi-instrumentalist. But let Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) be her open invitation to the world to step inside and take a much deeper look into who Duffy actually is. Tracked in an Upstate New York living room, then finished in her current home in Los Angeles - it is appropriate that this album was recorded by Meg herself - for Meg, who has an acute ear for detail, has touched every corner, has seen every vision 'til its end. 

Because of this, Wildly Idle feels incredibly intimate, like a secret between her and the listener. It hits soft, like warm water, and before you know it it is all around you - a bath, and Meg's whisper has made its way inside you. Like many bedroom-debuts before it (The Microphones, Jessica Pratt, Little Wings, Grouper)  let this be the first of many to come, for Meg has music in her touch - and this is only the beginning. But let us not look to the future now, but instead stand alongside her, our trust in her will, both humble before the void, with her first chorus as the mission statement; 'hold you like a flower, hold you like an hour glass'."- Kevin Morby. Facebook here.

A gentle guitar lead introduction swiftly followed by Meg Duffy's dreamy vocals takes the listener into 'All The While'. The song is melodic and develops in power, without losing the sensitive calm feeling, which may sound like a contradiction, in which case please listen and see if you get my drift.


Carroll - Talking To My Own Mirage.

Background - Carroll have recently upped sticks and moved from Minneapolis to Philadelphia to sleep on people’s floors and write their new album As Far As Gardens Go. Produced by the band and mixed by Jon Low (he’s worked on things for The National and The War On Drugs), their second full-length release is due for release on November 11th via Shattered Orb.

First taste of As Far As Gardens Go is found in the form of "Talking to My Own Mirage," (aka the first song to be lifted from the album). Here’s what Carroll has to say about the track:

"Talking to My Own Mirage’ is meditation on the distances that separate all of us. A song about accepting the pull of the unknown and embracing its consequences. People drift and we’re left staring down infinite copies of ourselves, floating above it all in effortless tandem". Website here.

Upcoming shows:
October 29 - Brooklyn, NY at Elvis Guesthouse w/FRAME
November 11 - Philadelphia, PA at The Barbary
November 12 - Philadelphia, PA at Sofar Anniversary Show
December 2 - Philadelphia, PA at All Nite Diner.

'Talking To My Own Mirage' mixes delightful vocals with a vibrant soundtrack that is comprised of sweeping guitars and synths and a vibrant rhythm. Totally catchy, if the album reflect these traits the band deserve to be noticed.


Pepperhead - See Through You.

Background - Sydney based alternative rock band Pepperhead got together in 2015 quickly writing and recording their debut EP 'The Housefox Sessions' and making their live debut in 2016, rocking the legendary Annandale Hotel. The first single ‘See Through You’ is no-nonsense alternative modern rock at its finest. A pop, punk, grunge masterpiece, each listen highlights a new muse making it hard to pin to a specific genre or comparison ‘sounds like’.

Close your eyes and you could imagine a Debbie Harry-fronted Ramones at CBGB’s in the 70s, at the same time, the EP evokes a “Foo Fighters meets the Strokes” sound and style, making it modern, different yet familiar and instantly catchy. Louisa Thomas (vocals) says, “‘See Through You’ is one of the first songs we wrote and therefore a straightforward choice for our debut single. Its also a pretty good benchmark for our live sound which we really wanted to capture in recording, and a massive thanks goes to Ryan at Housefox Studios for getting it down.”

'The Housefox Sessions' EP was recorded at Housefox Studios on Sydney's Northern Beaches by Ryan Miller, mixed by Shane Edwards at Karma Sound Studios in Thailand and mastered by Rick O’Neil at Turtlerock in Sydney. Pepperhead is Mark Trevena (drums), Dan Walker (bass), Kieron Haycock (guitar) and Louisa Thomas (vocals). "The Housefox Sessions" EP will be released 28th of October. Website here.

'See Through You' is typical of the straight down the line rock songs to be found on The Housefox Sessions EP. As you can see on the video for their first single, the band just get on and play, doing their thing, without any pretentiousness. This is one fine rocking EP.