Roscoe Tripp is not a man but the moniker of a Washington, DC musical collective that has just released their second EP titled A Cage Made of Tin.
Roscoe Tripp is a fairly new band, having been formed in late 2022 to play “raw, heartfelt music” using styles from indie to punk to country. Their sound features aspects of artists like Bright Eyes, Pavement and Elliott Smith. Thematically they hope to reveal genuine emotions while embracing vulnerability and brutal honesty, but with an infectious playfulness to leaven the sadness.
The band calls their new EP “a story of growth and collaboration for the band. Gone are the songs written and recorded solely by lead singer, Greg Fine; instead we find writing partnerships and guest musicians that complement Fine's intense style.” Recording took place at Cue Recording Studios in Falls Church, Virginia, with mastering by Dave Blackman at Hiltongrove in the United Kingdom.
“A Cage Made Of Tin” was positioned at the top of the playlist to “alert listeners to the band’s evolving sound.” For a new listener like me, their sound evokes Julian Casablancas and possibly Lou Reed, with a jumpy, somewhat cluttered alternative rock arrangement. The chorus is a big surprise as huge guitar chords are matched with samples of a jet engine winding up; a great trick I’m amazed nobody’s tried before! Melodic guitar lines and more vocals are added as the song continues, using up even more precious sonic space. The drums are working overtime with paramilitary rolls, along with appropriately spacey synth lines by Kenny Carkeet and bass playing by guest Eric Scott.
“Such A Pretty Girl” is actually a remix by guitarist Masterjee Bumbu of an older song written by founder Greg Fine. However it came about, it’s an amazingly cool single that draws you in like a warm blanket. The guitars are shimmery, the bass is fuzzy and inventive, and the drums again play triple time beats with added percussive sounds. The chorus is so nice that I found myself singing harmony parts as I walked in the park! Plus I’m always a sucker for unabashed love songs for pretty girls just because they’re pretty.
“Carry It Over” is another Fine original with work on the bridge and chorus by Bumbu. This one deals with a sad moment just before Fine’s father died of pancreatic cancer. Almost deleted because it was deemed too depressing, it’s actually quite celebratory with vocals and ringing guitars that recall The Killers or The Strokes. I love the chorus lyrics “I wish that we could carry it over / and never be sober / never come to our senses.” The song comes to a sudden, unexpected end right in the middle of a beat.
The almost-final track and lead single is called “Big Dreams” and features the songwriting of guitarist Tony Vitez. This one features “unrelenting guitar heaviness” and melodies that the band likens to Radiohead. Like the previous songs this one has an especially strong, dramatic sing-along chorus. The second verse features OI-style chanting (“Fight! Fight!”). Ringing lead guitar lines bring the tune home.
“Mind How You Go” is a minute-long concluding instrumental that could be playing from an anteroom of the Haunted Mansion, until the rock guitars kick back in for a short riff-fest slathered with Germanic police sirens. It comes and goes so quickly that you wonder what it’s about, but apparently it’s sort of a teaser for future music from Roscoe Tripp.
These are great songs from an evolving group that may well be just markers in time for greater things to come. But for now it’s an excellent listen and worth a spot in your playlists. Check it out!
Darren Sullivan and Josh Dylan Peters form the duo Darren Sullivan and the Littoral Drift. Sullivan handles music production and songwriting while Peters focuses on drum arrangements and rhythm. They have been collaborating for several years. They recently released Verdure.
This album showcases a diverse blend of punk rock, heavy metal, folk, electronic and indie experimentation. It features prominent vocals and includes spontaneous, energetic jams. The lyrics explore themes of love lost, grief, celebration and rebirth.
There are a whopping fifteen songs on the release and it starts with “Eliza” which is a sort of spirited and off kilter song. Some of it feels punk but other elements are quite inventive especially the bass sound. It got my attention.
“California Poppies” is very different. It’s soft, melancholy and contemplative. I loved this ambient and lush sound. The guitar work is fantastic and so are the vocals. Their softer side continues with “Rock n’ Roll Life” and the guitar work was intricate. I was reminded of The Red House Painters on this song. They get more into rock mode on “The Last One.” It's an interesting song a little funky. It also feels submerged in reverb laced guitars. I thought the syncopated bass lines were fantastic.
“A Sailor Story” was one of my personal favorites. The drumming here was nuanced and really drove the song. There are also some soaring lead guitars. This song has a slight Radiohead type feel to it.“Leave It Alone” was cinematic and I heard some orchestral strings in there. It’s another side to their talent. “Said It The Same” was slick. I really liked the juxtaposition between the soft vocals and kinetic drums.
As the album progressed I thought there were a number of standout songs. “No Discord”, “A Larger Lad” and the 70’s funk on closer “California.”
This is a very eclectic release. The songwriting is original and there are a lot of original ideas. Recommended.
Stone and Snow is a highly decorated folk/indie rock duo from Cincinnati, Ohio, that has released five albums to date including the brand new E.P. titled Delicate and Wild. Karen Bridges (vocals/keyboards/percussion) and Clint Thomson (vocals/guitars/harmonica/banjo/mandolin/percussion) began their collaboration in 2012, creating songs with thoughtful lyrics and close harmonies. They named themselves Stone and Snow as a tribute to the mountain landscapes of the West.
Stone and Snow’s music includes bits of folk, indie rock, swing and soul. One of its many recent kudos was being named “Best Folk/Soul Artist” at the 2022 Richmond International Film & Music Festival. If the duo has a mission statement, it has to do with “elevating women in music” by hosting performances for women artists, collecting data on the gender balance in their local music scene, and being involved in the “Girls Rock!” franchise.
The current album was said to be recorded after “personal struggles for both songwriters, including pandemic divorces and a relocation from Illinois to Ohio.” Recording actually took place in a barn studio on a hill in Lebanon, Ohio by Grammy-nominated producer David Mayfield, who also adds upright bass, backing vocals and percussion in addition to mixing. Mastering was by Adam Boose of Cauliflower Audio in Cleveland.
The opening track “Cruel” was a top entry in the 2020 NPR Tiny Desk Contest, and it’s immediately clear why. The band’s sound is big yet intimate; an amazing mixture of acoustic guitars, piano, bass, simple percussion and especially a thick choir of voices spearheaded by the amazing pipes of Karen Bridges. Bridges has a true country voice, a sweet combination of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Dolly Parton. The barn studio really does sound like a barn, which is partly how the thick “ball of sound” effect comes about.
“Moonrise” is the album’s lead single (they call it “a beautifully simple, yet haunting love song to the moon”) and sounds like it. The gorgeous chord sequences and interlocking harmonies grab you immediately. This is the kind of song you’re certain has been a Hit in the past, and will probably sound that way well into the future. The natural reverb of the barn really makes the vocals sound like they echo off into forever. I feel like I’m hearing an uncredited string section as well, which adds a whole other flavor to the track.
For “Who Am I” a lone banjo heralds a tune where Bridges moves a bit closer to the mic for a bravura performance with the kind of continuous lyrics that sound like a journal. Thomson joins in for more incredible chorus harmonies on the haunting refrain “Who am I to you, baby?” Thomson takes a few solo banjo moments that sound either tuned low or using gut strings. The percussion is thump-y and creates some amazing audio reflections within the barn.
“Wait” is said to be the last song the duo wrote before the pandemic hit, which makes it ironic as the song’s intent is to project hope and reassurance in the face of disaster (“The war’s been sitting heavy on my mind… the garden grew weeds and the trees blew down”). Harmonica leads the way into the tune, which features the duo’s stellar harmonies from the very first line. The piano has a full, ringing sustain that blends seamlessly with the stringed instruments and the singers. Musically and structurally this song has antecedents in Nanci Griffith or Emmylou Harris. Thomson has a fine voice but even in harmonies it’s hard not to be amazed by the range and power of Bridges’ singing.
“The Hardest Part of Loving You” is described by the band as “an honest look back on the years of a marriage that collapsed during the pandemic.” Whether this song is autobiographical doesn’t matter (though it’s interesting to contemplate). The arrangement here is a sort of bluegrass blues with twangy strumming, clapping percussion and slightly distorted harmonica (there’s a bit of Fleetwood Mac Rumors here). The idea of the song certainly rings true for most of us: “It's like living on a one-way street../ The hardest part wasn't loving you, It was loving me.” The vocals get bigger as the song peaks, celebratory in a way that reminds me of Bonnie Raitt. It also sounds like anyone who was in the room got to sing along!
The final track “Outro” is placed to look “Into the unknown, leaning towards the devil we don’t know.” It’s a short, dramatic and sweet coda where the singers can’t help but question where they’re headed and if they’re alone in this journey. Just two minutes but quite effective in leaving us wanting more, both from this record and life itself.
These artists are amazing and the real deal. There’s times I wish the barn wasn’t quite so boomy but the quality of the songs and performances pretty much wipe out those concerns. Great music, just waiting to be heard!
Mark Winters is a Texas-based singer/songwriter who’s just released a new single titled “Boundary Layer (Radio Remix).” With a degree in Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Winters is a bonafide Rocket Scientist and says his math and science backgrounds guide his musical explorations. He likes his songs to “take complex things such as emotions and express them in a way that's easy to understand.”
Winters calls his genre “rock with a positive vibe” and says his biggest influences are John Mayer, Tom Petty and Jason Mraz. His musical roots encompass rock, blues rock and pop. He says his music starts from “a place of poetry and creative inspiration” to which he applies his rocket scientist brain to find structures “that help me explore that initial burst of inspiration and feeling.”
Winters’ debut album Slipstream was released in 2019 to great reviews, placement on hundreds of playlists and over a million streams worldwide. This was followed by the Boundary Layer album, which features the original version of the title track. The newest version of “Boundary Layer” is called the “radio remix” and I’ll be checking out both of them.
To start with the original “Boundary Layer,” it kicks right in with a bright, guitar-centric sound that reminds me of the British Invasion bands. This shouldn’t be surprising as Winters owes a debt to Tom Petty who was certainly well versed in that sound! Vocally Winters has an effervescent, almost giddy delivery. It’s not a pop star voice, but it’s got tons of personality and even a touch of nerdy-ness that you might expect from a scientist. Lyrically there’s references to science-type stuff (“Pushing at the supersonic speed…”) but the song is clearly an ode to the long road one takes to finding one’s true self. There’s some really nice harmonies at the end.
For the new version, Winters immediately pushes the chiming electric guitars further back in the mix (with a dollop of reverb) and brings new acoustic guitar and piano tracks upfront. I may be crazy but it feels to me like the vocals are a new performance where Winters has toned down the giddy quality for a more measured, radio-friendly sound (if it’s actually the same vocal track, never mind!). There seems to be more melody to his voice and less playacting. For the chorus Winters introduces a “Hey! Ho!” chant right out of The Lumineers. There’s more variety to his electric guitar grace notes with cool coil-reverb sounds, like dreamy shimmers. There’s a nice, short Fender-sounding guitar solo, too. The dramatic build toward the end is even more dramatic, with a neat moment where all but the vocals drop out (it’s an old trick but it works!).
There’s qualities in both versions of this song that I like, but this new Radio Remix will certainly catch your ear and it does the original song proud. Be sure to check out more of the Winters catalogue as he’s the real deal and worth watching!
Grand Rapids, Michigan, singer/songwriter John Sanger created a mantra to deal with our everyday trials and tribulations: “Life didn’t come with a playbook so don’t be hard on yourself.” He’s sold me just with that awesome quote, but of course there’s so much more; specifically his four new singles “Cirrhosis of the River,” “Daises,” “Lemonade” and “Sit N Spin.”
Sanger’s songs are said to reflect “Americana themes we idolized as children contrasted with the reality check of adulthood.” During difficult life moments, Sanger ponders his childhood affinity for the wonders of the Great Lakes “which soothed the occasional nights of lonely dreams and daily struggles.” Musically his influences encompass a wide range of talents including rockers The Kinks, Elvis Costello and The Band; bluesmen Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker; and folk-country artists Woody Guthrie, John Prine and Johnny Cash. If you need a single label I’d definitely go with Americana.
Lyrically Sanger’s songs embody relationship experiences, changing paths and the celebration of life’s victories; also having the wherewithal to reflect on, laugh at and enjoy this ride we call life. I’ve spent some time in West Michigan and specifically Grand Rapids so I feel like I have a head start on where Sanger’s coming from!
Of the four singles here, “Cirrhosis of the River” has the most amusing title (and the hardest to remember correctly!). After a cool opening riff played on both acoustic and electric guitars, Sanger evokes a bygone time fishing in the river with too much alcohol, a splintering ramshackle boat and cigarette ashes in his beer can. Atop a bluegrass bed of American Steel guitar, jews harp and winsome background cooing, Sanger sings with enthusiasm and authenticity and paints word pictures of fishing days as vividly as anything by Norman Rockwell. I’m guess the “cirrhosis” of the title could describe either the boat or the gastro-intestinal distress of its drunken crew.
“Daises” starts with a stark, trap-like drum beat. Quickly proving he’s no one trick pony, Sanger blends gorgeous guitars, autoharp, piano and his own soulful lead vocals for a folky love song. This is the kind of song where it’s tough to pinpoint exactly where the chorus starts, as it seems to float organically within the verses, but I’ll pinpoint the moments where an uncredited female voice shares heartrending harmonies with Sanger. Structurally this song reminds me a lot of R.E.M.’s “Wendell Gee” (one of my very favorites). Toward the end Sanger takes a modest harmonica solo. I love the line “You’re my favorite broken record… so dancing, we’ll keep swaying to that old time radio.”
With “Lemonade” we’re back to uptempo bluegrass with a snappy one-two beat and a riff that’s distant cousins to “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” On this track Sanger really lets his voice guide the track, effortlessly taking control and letting the backing instruments follow along. There’s more harmony chorus vocals with his female vocalist, then a bracing lap steel solo. This is another love song but more along the lines of “I don’t know how you put up with a jerk like me” and resigning to making “sweet lemonade” from lemons.
“Sit N Spin” describes a chance meeting at the local laundromat within a rock-country arrangement with sharp guitars, ace percussion and more of Sanger and company’s great vocals. This one feels more like a live band standing and playing but with an overlay of interesting Beatles-like production choices and Paul-like yodeling. It’s so good that three minutes doesn’t feel anywhere near long enough!
These four songs are an incredible introduction to this artist and he’s out there waiting to be discovered. Check him out!
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In the tapestry of time's dance, Heather Lynn, an artisan of melodies, unfurled her debut opus "Can't Go Back" in the year of 2020. Like a whispered secret, this lo-fi folk symphony wove delicate vocals and the soulful strum of guitar, crafting an enchanting minimalist sonnet.
Thereafter, she offered "What's Going On With You," a song adorned in lavish hues. In this opulent fusion, the heartstrings of pop intertwined with the roots of country, blossoming into a fully arranged tapestry of sound, where every note was a color and each rhythm a brushstroke. Yet, in the garden of her artistry, a bloom of incomparable allure blossomed — "Love Of Your Life," her latest song.
This song is a celestial dance of passion and yearning, gracing the senses like a sweet caress from a distant star, leaving an indelible mark upon the soul. Thus, within the lustrous gallery of her creations, where each opus tells a tale of emotions untold, "Love Of Your Life" stands as my cherished canvas, forever embracing the essence of Heather Lynn's artful soul.
Among its luminescent threads, the slide guitar weaves an enchanting spell, drawing hearts into its magnetic sway, yet it is the siren-like vocals of Lynn that form the heart's melody, ever the center of this harmonious tale. With every beat, the composition flows like a gentle stream.
And lo, the craft of production and engineering emerges as a maestro's touch, elevating the sound to a realm of sonic pleasure. As if a painter adds layers of vivid hues, the result is an ear-pleasing canvas that delights the senses. Thus, "Love Of Your Life" stands as a testament to the skillful artistry of Heather Lynn.
Crushpoint, the hard rock band hailing from North Texas, has carved out a distinctive musical style and charted their own course. Their music blends scorching desert rock with the raw emotions of the plains, resulting in a sound as tough and unyielding as granite. With their groove-infused guitar and bass, powerful lyrics, and expansive drumming, Crushpoint offers a complete rock experience that is both timely and authentic.
Having immersed myself in the musical labyrinth, today's rendezvous leads me to an expedition through their latest creation - a symphony baptized as "Heartache." The opus commences with a guitar riff so electrifying that one can sense it propelling into flight, a tempestuous anticipation awaiting release. Soon, the rhythmic heartbeat of drums and bass intertwine, propelling the composition into an abyss of escalating fervor, like a surging tempest that refuses to relent.
The vocals are delivered in an almost stoic way and they also become more fierce and open up as the song progresses. I was blown away by the incredible drumming on this song. The whole band is just tight and on point.
Within the symphonic tapestry, at the song's very core, a celestial dance begins - a phaser-infused breakdown, a celestial waltz of shimmering tones. Like the fractals of a dream dissolving into the ethereal mist, it crumbles into the embrace of distorted white noise, a cacophony of cosmic whispers. Yet, this is not the band's final bow; from the embers of sound, they reemerge with an unyielding sense of purpose. A sonic renaissance unfurls, and now, they possess the reins of the stereo field, orchestrating a grand opus of obliteration.
This song was pretty incredible. It’s the type of song that grabs your attention and doesn't let go till the journey is over. If you need a jolt and don’t have any coffee around this song should certainly help. Fans of metal should love this. I did. Recommended.
Fashion Invasion is an electronic pop band that was formed in 2008 by Bryan Galvez in Placentia, California, to combat what Galvez saw as a sameness and lack of substance within popular music. He picked the name Fashion Invasion to “invade the music scene with my love of the fashions and music of the 1980’s.” His newest single is called “TV World (Rerun)” and is available on most streaming services.
Galvez describes Fashion Invasion as “an electronic pop band that fuses the songwriting craftsmanship of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s with modern production ethics, sprinkled with ’80s nostalgia.” His primary influences are Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, The Human League, Pet Shop Boys and New Order, along with older bands like The Beatles, Def Leppard and Van Halen. His newest track combines “’80s nostalgia with modern futurism, with anthemic melodies and a dreamy atmosphere featuring chill beats and ethereal soundscapes.” Recording and mastering took place at the Fashion Invasion home studio in Los Angeles.
I first played this track before reading any of the biographical info, and it took me back to the ’80s in a split second. Human League came to mind immediately, though it also sounds like any number of those classic electronic dance beat bands. The song is rooted in a fairly simple techno-bass riff but the harmonizing synths that follow are quite beautiful in that chilly digital way.
At any moment I expect to hear the line “Don’t you want me Baby?” But instead the vocals kick in filtered through a classic Vocoder effect. Artists as diverse as Laurie Anderson and Neil Young have explored this tool, and it does have a cool and unique sound, but honestly you always need a lyric sheet in its presence (thankfully you can find that on the Bandcamp page). As can be expected from the title, Galvez is singing about “The TV World” which is made up of “Antenna, VHF, UHF, vacuum tube…” Clearly it’s not just Fashion Invasion’s music that’s retro, as I doubt many young people would know what those terms even mean! But it’s an engaging musical journey with fun melodies. I especially like when the beats go double time around the two-minute mark.
As far as adding modern elements to ’80s synth pop, I don’t really see how that’s in play here. But as an admittedly nostalgic look back at a unique and lost era, Fashion Invasion has hit the nail squarely on top. Grab your eye shadow and check it out!
Steven Starley is a musician from Herriman, UT, who has been playing music for decades. Starley mentions “I enjoy writing and recording music in my personal home recording studio. After I build the instrument stems, I write the lyrics.” Fair enough. Starley recently released “From The First Day.”
With its positive and uplifting energy, this song radiates pure joy. The delightful composition embraces a fusion of keys, bass, drums, airy pads and more, creating a mesmerizing symphony of sound. The vocals seamlessly blend into the mix, adding an enchanting allure. Lyrically, the song paints a vivid and romanticized picture, evoking feelings of love and wonder.
The vocalist beautifully croons, "From the first day in that small town cafe, I could tell we would be much more than friends. Everyday, all you do is amaze, as if you could see through my soul." The vocal melodies are irresistibly catchy, and the song exhibits exceptional structural brilliance. Notably, the captivating guitar solo stands out as a testament to remarkable artistry, reminiscent of the mesmerizing lead work prevalent in the ‘80s. Its length and masterful execution leave a lasting impression, captivating the listener from start to finish.
I would say in general this song has a clear ’70s and ’80s type of flavor from the production to the songwriting. That being said, the song seems to have a contemporary appeal as well. There’s also a mix of rock and pop on this song that Starley is able to carve out with precision.
This isn’t the only song Starley has to listen to. If you listen and enjoy this I recommend checking out some of his other songs.
Coming off his full length album Gentle Orchestra recently released “Jus Money.” The song is a certified single and upon my first listen I was addicted to the melodies. I thought the theme of this song felt relevant for the times we live in.
Suffice it to say I think most people are worrying about money. The cost of living has gone through the roof and this song sort of playfully flirts with these themes. It’s a well done juxtaposition. On top of that the artist also seems to singing about a “gold digger.”
The infusion of the organ, drums, and bass contributes significantly to the song's robust and vibrant aura, seamlessly blending with the captivating palm-muted guitar and expressive vocals. The irresistible groove and subtle variations in dynamics completely engrossed me, immersing me in its profound message. Through poignant lyrics, the artist fearlessly delves into the complexities of contemporary relationships and the harsh realities of financial instability, effectively highlighting the profound impact on their life. Their candid acknowledgment of lacking material wealth adds a layer of depth to the song's narrative, boldly challenging societal norms and expectations.
The hook is undeniably infectious and each section seems to rise higher. “Ain’t no love in here eyes Jus Money MONEY” felt like a mantra.
The song is under three minutes by man and it hits all the right points. It’s clever, the production is fantastic and I wanted to listen to it again after I heard it.
I also have to mention the video which went along with the song. The animation fits perfectly with the song and captures the tone.
Gentle Orchestra brings the good once again. So go watch the video right now. You won’t regret it.
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