Tomberlin - Reina Mora - Mayflower Madame - The She's - Princess Chelsea - Basement Revolver - The Wolfhounds

Tomberlin - Seventeen.

Background - Tomberlin, the rising Louisville, KY-based artist, has released a video for "Seventeen," the latest from her deeply moving Saddle Creek debut album, At Weddings.

On her deeply moving debut album At Weddings, Sarah Beth Tomberlin writes with the clarity and wisdom of an artist well beyond her years. Immeasurable space circulates within the album's ten songs, which set Tomberlin's searching voice against lush backdrops of piano and guitar. Like Julien Baker and Sufjan Stevens, she has a knack for transforming the personal into parable. Like Grouper, she has a feel for the transcendent within the ordinary.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, and now based in Louisville, Kentucky, Tomberlin wrote most of At Weddings while living with her family in southern Illinois during her late teens and early twenties. At 16, she finished her homeschooling curriculum and went to college at a private Christian school she describes, only half-jokingly, as a "cult." By 17, she had dropped out of school, returned home, and begun to face a period of difficult transition in her life. The daughter of a Baptist pastor, Tomberlin found herself questioning not only her faith, but her identity, her purpose, and her place in the world.

"I was working, going to school, and experiencing heavy isolation," Tomberlin says of the time when she first began writing the songs on At Weddings. "It felt monotonous, like endless nothingness. It was a means to get through to the next step of life." In songwriting, Tomberlin found relief and lucidity she had trouble articulating otherwise. When she was 19, she wrote "Tornado" on her parents' piano, and began to develop confidence in her music. A year later, she had written enough songs to fill an album. WEBSITE.

'Seventeen' is a seriously good singer, songwriter track, with gorgeous vocals and a beautifully crafted musical arrangement that adds even more emotion. Very impressive, as is the whole album.


Reina Mora - Winter In June.

Background - After living the visions of other artists as the lead singer of numerous rock, metal and electronica bands, the well-traveled, long gigging L.A. based singer-songwriter who became Reina Mora chose the perfect moniker to capture her multi-cultural background and Latin-tinged vibe she brings to her fresh brand of alternative pop. The exotic national bird of Puerto Rico – where her parents were born and she lived for several years growing up – the Reina Mora is colored blue, yellow, orange and black and is known to sing all night long.

Reina offers a powerful and compelling introduction to her developing artistry with the release of “Trouble,” the sultry and sensual, yet eminently rockin’ lead single from her upcoming full length debut album Birds Eye View.

“Trouble’ is about taking control over your sexuality,” Reina says. “I wanted to write a song about being seductive and empowered as a woman with that sexuality and not be ashamed of it. I was a tomboy growing up and previously never spoke about sex in my songs, so in the spirit of the authenticity that drives the entire album, that was one of my inspirations. The others were the classic ‘Criminal’ by Fiona Apple and ‘Do I want to Know?’ by Arctic Monkeys. ‘Trouble’ reflects my influences, from the singer/songwriters I love to the Latin music I grew up listening to. Thematically, the trouble can go either way – either I am trouble or the guy is…I wanted to leave the interpretation open as far as who is seducing who.”

 As a songwriter and performer, Reina is no longer afraid to be authentic and reveal the dark challenges she and her family went through – including having all their possessions washed away when Hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico in 1998 and being homeless and moving from shelter to shelter with her mom when they first moved to Los Angeles. Produced by Omer Avni (Mary J. Blige, Jason Derulo, Alien Ant Farm), Birds Eye View is a rich, stylistically diverse collection of personal material that traverses the struggles and successes she’s experienced throughout her life. She dissects her tumultuous relationship with her family in the tribal flavored “War Dance” and conveys her love in “Brighter Sky” and in both English and Spanish with “Cielo Azul”. Reina’s favorite song is also her most personal: “Winter in June,” a raw, heartfelt tribute to her biggest inspiration, her grandfather. With its delicate percussion, swelling cello, and acoustic guitar, her tender vocals convey the pain she felt from his loss and the strength she gained from him. WEBSITE.

'Winter In June' is a folk tinged and heartfelt song. The music adds an element of traditional roots music vibes, the vocals just glide melodically above, and collectively they draw us into Reina Mora's world.


Mayflower Madame - Before I Fall.

Background - Mayflower Madame have just shared their new video for "Before I Fall". Mayflower Madame was formed in Oslo in 2010. They started rehearsing in a desolate industrial building where they had to share the space with a carwash company. Amidst the gritty surroundings, their hazy, smoke-laden sound seemed to be conceived naturally and the band soon recorded a four-track demo. Just months later, they won the award "Unsigned Band of the Week" on one of Norway’s biggest radio channels.

After nearly five years of playing a bunch of live shows across Scandinavia and carefully crafting their sound along the way, Mayflower Madame's debut album Observed in a Dream finally arrived in 2016. The album proved to be well worth the wait and it's dazzling display of darkly inflected post-punk swathed in shimmering psychedelia earned them rave reviews. Since then the band has toured both in Europe and North America. They have shared the stage with bands like Crystal Stilts, Night Beats, La Femme, Psychic Ills and Moon Duo, which further gives you an idea of their sonic landscape.

The 'Premonition' EP is Mayflower Madame’s first release since their debut and is also a forewarning for the upcoming second album - expected to be launched in late 2018. The band consists of Trond Fagernes (vocals/guitars/bass), Haavard Haga (guitars), Ola Kyrkjeeide (drums) and Petter Marberg (bass). FACEBOOK.

We featured the song 'Premonition' last month and 'Before I Fall' makes for a welcome follow up. The bands brooding atmospheric feel is all apparent again, with perhaps just a little more melody this time, the stark post punk style is becoming increasingly addictive. 


The She's - Ashes.

Background - San Francisco's The She's have shared the second video, "Ashes", off their first album in 6 years, "all female rock and roll quartet". About The Video: Directed and Edited by Max Freeland, Cameras by Robbie Julian, Trey Flanigan Assisting. Shot in San Francisco at The Chapel Special thanks to Stephanie Escoto. Starring: 20 artists/musicians including The She's, Megan Dabkowski, Colin Burris, Katiana Mashikian, Maya Bakaley, Marty Gray, Elle Carroll, Dylan Lockey, Trey Flanigan, Zachary Vito, Meg Webb, Chris Dunsmore, Molly Bolten, Sara Gibbs, Marisela Guizar, Kelley Coyne, Halley Lamberson. Members of Pardoner, World Smasher, Sirena Victima, dot Vom, Women's Audio Mission, Pllush, and many more!

"This video is very close to our hearts! First of all, we wanted our friends to direct, shoot, and star in the video.  We knew we just wanted to get as many people we loved into one video as possible. That was how the concept started. As a band we joke around about the "sassy" delivery of the words Sami gives, so we thought it would be really funny to see a bunch of our friends pretend to lip-sync the song. 

With the help of the director Max we all agreed to take a "picture day" angle with the video, kind of copying the intro of the TV series Freaks and Geeks, and asked everyone to sort of dress up like they would have in middle school (which we all know is not the best time for anyone's sense of style). In the end, we are just so happy to have a video highlighting friends of ours who are all talented in their own ways, and were nice enough to partake in all kinds of silly choreography and other shenanigans the day of the shoot. We hope watching the video people can tell just how much of a good time we all had making the video." - Hannah Valente (of The She's). FACEBOOK.

It was back in September last year that we featured 'Heartache' from The She's and 'Ashes' is another fine rocker which has some garage and punk feel to it. The video is an additional plus point to enjoy!


Princess Chelsea - I Love My Boyfriend.

Background - New Zealand synth pop musician Princess Chelsea (aka Chelsea Nikkel) is back with her fourth album The Loneliest Girl, due for release via Lil' Chief Records on 7 September. The first single from the album "I Love My Boyfriend" sounds like a garage rock trio who just discovered the Mellotron. The video was shot by Chelsea at her Auckland home in front of a green screen, cloning herself to create a band.

"I Love My Boyfriend" is about feeling attracted to somebody else when you're in a monogamous relationship. The narrator feels guilty about their feelings for another person even though they "love their boyfriend" and don't intend to act on it.  It's sung in a cheesy girly sort of way inspired by 60s pop songs with the word "boyfriend" in the chorus. However, the lyrics are pretty cynical, particularly in the spoken word section in which the narrator appears to make fun of their own feelings. The music emulates this contrast of sweet and sour with pretty harps and harpsichords set against a dirtier garage rock arrangement.

The Loneliest Girl was recorded by Chelsea between 2016 and 2017 in her home studio in West Auckland, New Zealand with production assistance from labelmate Jonathan Bree. Chelsea’s trademark arrangements featuring classic 80s Synths (Yamaha DX7, Roland D-50), ambient guitars, and orchestral instruments are all here but are presented in a more refined and simple manner than on her previous releases.

Stylistically The Loneliest Girl moves away the more uniform synth sounds of The Great Cybernetic Depression to more eclectic territory similar to her first release Lil’ Golden Book and certainly sounds like a record made by a lover of pop music across all genres from 60s girl groups to 80s power ballads, and late 80s acid house to 90s pop. Like her earlier work, adult issues are presented in a humorous and sometimes childlike manner, and this juxtaposition rather than softening the blow makes jarring social commentary hit harder. FACEBOOK.

Princess Chelsea returns with 'I Love My Boyfriend' accompanied by a clever and creative video. Her music never ceases to impress me, and with another album on the way, I expect there are a good number of other people, full of anticipation after this seductive tease of a song.

Basement Revolver - Knocking.

Background - Basement Revolver just released a new track from their anticipated debut LP Heavy Eyes. Knocking is probably the heaviest song on the album for me, personally. I often still can’t sing it without crying. I wrote it after writing my family a long letter that came clean about my past, and about some of the shit that I have been through. 

Hard things that left me feeling shameful, or like a disappointment to them – things that made me feel like I wasn’t the “good Christian woman” that they had hoped I would one day become. The letter came after a few years of hardcore wrestling and rebelling against what I believed in response to a traumatic event in my life. I got to a point where I didn’t recognize myself, or all the anger that I was holding inside. I basically kept telling myself that I was garbage, broken, unlovable, used and a whole other slur of things.

I think that knocking was my way out of that dark place. I told my boyfriend everything, and he just loved and supported me through it. I told my family everything, and they felt that they could understand me better. When it came time to talk to God about it (I’m sorry I don’t love getting religious, but it is where this song comes from and so I feel that I have to be honest about that), I felt grace, and forgiveness and acceptance. I felt like he/she had been standing there, waiting for me to get to a place where I was able to move on and forgive myself – and a place where I wasn’t angry or shutting God out. It reminded me of a story that I was told when I was a little girl and it is super cheesy (I think its in the Bible somewhere too) about God just standing at the door of our hearts, and knocking, waiting for us to open up - Songwriter Chrisy Hurn on "Knocking". WEBSITE.

It's just over two years since I first came across Basement Revolver and with this being our seventh feature, I am inclined to let the statistics do the talking. Needless to say 'Knocking' is as beautiful as it is personal, the album is indeed looked forward to with anticipation.


The Wolfhounds - The Anti-Midas Touch / Disgusted, E7.

Background - Spiky UK pop legends The Wolfhounds hit the vaults with 'Hands In The Till: The Complete John Peel Sessions'. Originally formed as teenagers in 1984, The Wolfhounds released four critically acclaimed LPs and numerous singles, appeared on the NME’s influential C86 cassette, extensively toured the UK and continental Europe, finally disbanding in 1990. The band reformed in 2006 at the request of St Etienne’s Bob Stanley to celebrate 20 years since the release of C86, and inflicted a severe guitar noisefest on an unsuspecting indiepop crowd at London’s ICA. Since 2012 they have been recording and releasing new material.

At the peak of media attention over the new bands promoted by the C86 cassette, The Wolfhounds recorded three four-song sessions for the BBC’s legendary late-night John Peel Show between March 1986 and January 1987, capturing all the excitement and youthful exuberance of a band just catching the public imagination. With an energy born of sweaty, rammed gigs in the function rooms of London pubs and a willful experimentation nurtured in suburban bedrooms and garages away from watchful eyes, The Wolfhounds blasted their raw live sound straight to tape with little in the way of overdubs or the more considered studio polish of their excellent albums.

Every song from these sessions is now gathered together on Hands In The Till, making a surprisingly coherent whole despite the heady disorganized thrust of the times and a couple of line-up changes in the meantime. More wiry and angular than most of their C86 peers, The Wolfhounds had more in common with The Fall than The Byrds, and "Hands In The Till" shows them at their caustic best.

The Wolfhounds are now (hyper-)active again, releasing two full-length LPs in recent years and performing at several popfests (including Berlin and New York) and Stewart Lee’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, as well as regular club dates of their own. The band continue to be more relevant than ever, grabbing their home country’s woes by the horns on the recent double LP, "Untied Kingdom or How to Come to Terms with your Culture" (which featured guest musicians from such bands as PJ Harvey, Gallon Drunk, Scritti Politti and Evans The Death), Hands In The Till is sure to illuminate such an expansive modern work’s precocious teenage beginnings, as well as providing the band’s contemporary listeners a nostalgic buzz – forever, a real all-ages show! FACEBOOK.

Two songs 'The Anti-Midas Touch' and 'Disgusted, E7' are shared as a taster from the bands John Peel sessions, set for release in full as 'Hands In The Till'. That it's all from over thirty years ago makes me feel my age, still never mind The Wolfhounds ain't getting any younger either, but those rock and roll genes are still keeping them active. With musical roots like these, they have had plenty to build upon.