Savage Republic, Zakoor, Vieux Farka Touré, Lera Lynn, Nicotine Dolls, Bear’s Den, All Get Out are among these press releases for May.
Savage Republic – “Stingray”: A fuzzy wall of guitars for a surfy-psychedelic instrumental à la Dick Dale, captured in a beach-theme video. This is a track from their upcoming album “Meteora,” out on May 20 in North America via Mobilization Recordings. Hailing from the Los Angeles underground of the 1980s, Savage Republic forged an astonishing reputation for themselves as art-post punk-industrial pioneers. Throughout the 1980s, their five albums combined with their legendary live performances blurred and distorted the boundaries of post-punk, industrial, and soundtrack music – all wrapped up beautifully in Bruce Licher’s innovative graphic design. After 1989, the Republic went quiet. 13 years passed before they would briefly resurface for a US reunion tour in support of the reissue of their five studio albums. In 2009, Savage Republic decided to raise their game. With the departure of Greg Grunke, multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer Kerry Dowling joined the band and they’ve never looked back since! The current four-piece lineup (Thom Fuhrmann, Ethan Port, Kerry Dowling, and Alan Waddington) has taken the band’s discography to a whole new level with their bombastic live performances. “Meteora” features some of Savage Republic’s best work yet. Self-recorded in a secret cavernous location, their mix of tribal textures, political anthems and Morricone-esque surf instrumentals once again transport the listener to faraway lands at turns both haunting and beautiful. One of many highlights of Meteora is the pandemic-inspired piece “Unprecedented” (gifted to the band by Wire’s Graham Lewis) that is sure to become a staple in their setlist. This longest-lasting lineup of Savage Republic has infused all the power of their legendary live performances into a cinematic sonic dreamscape.
Zakoor – “Life Cycle”: A breezy, laid-back, almost summery track driven by jangly acoustic guitars, swirls of synth, and melancholic vocals. This is the title track of an album released today by Austin-based indie rock project Zakoor. The new LP was done almost entirely over text and email chains over the course of the past year, Life Cycle takes Zakoor’s infectious approach to indie rock, flavored with 90’s grunge, and pairs it with legendary producer Paul Kolderie’s (Pixie’s Surfer Rosa, Radiohead’s The Bends, Hole’s Live Through This) touch. “Life Cycle” is the artistic product of months spent in pandemic isolation. The lyrics draw on themes of love and death and accepting nature’s indifference towards our finding happiness. Each song on the LP tackles a certain difficult theme such as living, trusting, loving, joy, despair, dignity, and meaning itself – plus, the punchy drums and jangly guitar riffs make each song an instant vibe. It is the culmination of the sounds and feelings that swept over its writers over the last two years of pandemic isolation. The lyrics draw on themes of love and death and accepting nature’s indifference towards our finding happiness (case in point: pandemics). Each track attempts to probe a little deeper into the meaning of Big Things like living, trusting, loving, watching Netflix, scrolling Instagram, joy, despair, dignity, and meaning itself for those endeavoring to be–and feel–alive at this moment in time-space. Zakoor has been fortunate enough to work with Paul Kolderie as producer and mixing engineer on all three releases. Paul activated each track with energy and expertise and afforded Zakoor’s listeners with the kind of ear candy one can get lost in.
Vieux Farka Touré – “Flany Konare”: One of the typical throbbing melodies by acclaimed Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré and a track of his forthcoming album “Les Racines,” out on World Circuit Records on June 10. Of the track, Vieux says, “‘Flany Konare’ is a love song in the purest and most direct sense. It is about the tenderness and affection between lovers, the love that fuels everything else in life. It is a reminder to make time for love and to give your respect to love, for without it everything else we do loses its meaning.” The single is accompanied by a kaleidoscopic new video created by U.K.-based animators Double Vision and Malian photographer Kiss Diouara. Vieux is known as the “Hendrix of the Sahara” and is the son of the late “Desert Blues” pioneer Ali Farka Touré; “Les Racines” is Touré’s debut album on the label and his first since 2017. The title, which translates as “the roots,” represents a deep reconnection with the Songhai music of Northern Mali known as “Desert Blues,” made famous by his father via his own World Circuit releases decades earlier. The son of the late Ali Farka Touré, acclaimed as the finest guitarist Africa has ever produced, Vieux spent two years making Les Racines but the album had been gestating in his mind even longer. “I’ve had a desire to do a more traditional album for a long, long time. It’s important to me and to Malian people that we stay connected to our roots and our history,” Vieux explains. The lockdowns caused by the Coronavirus outbreak, which prevented him from touring, were turned to his advantage as he used the time to craft the most profound statement of his career to date. “Les Racines” is Vieux’s sixth solo album in a recording career that began in 2006 and which has taken in audacious collaborations with the likes of Dave Matthews and the jazz guitarist John Scofield, an album with the American singer-songwriter Julia Easterlin, and two records with the Israeli artist Idan Raichel as The Touré-Raichel Collective. “Early in my career people asked why I wasn’t just following my father. But it was important for me to establish my own identity,” Vieux says. “Now people know what I can do, I can return to those roots with pride and I hope a certain authority.” Recorded in Bamako in Vieux’s home studio, the timeless grooves of the album are steeped in the traditional music of West Africa. But the fire of Vieux’s guitar playing and the urgency of the messages in his songs add an entirely contemporary relevance. “We are nothing if we abandon respect for the past,” Vieux notes. “But we can also marry modernity with the strength of our traditions.” The ten songs, all original compositions, address a range of topics, traditional and contemporary. “In Mali many people are illiterate and music is the main way of transmitting information and knowledge,” Vieux explains. “My father fought for peace and as artists, we have an obligation to educate about the problems facing our country and to rally people and shepherd them towards reason.” In addition to the new record, Touré will be touring the U.S. throughout the spring/summer.
Lera Lynn – “Illusion”: A vast and diversified soundscape going from melancholic to almost upbeat, and haunted by Lera Lynn’s ethereal vocals. This is a single off her highly anticipated new album, “Something More Than Love,” set to be released on July 15. Lynn shares her feeling about the song: “It’s a rare and deeply beautiful feeling to think you could allow someone to get close enough to commit to each other in a really meaningful way. I’ve only ever had that feeling for one person and it felt like an idea that had been written into existence before me; like I was just following a path I was meant to take; such a beautifully alarming feeling that I struggled to believe it. ‘Illusion’ is the beginning of the story of “Something More Than Love” and is set against a backdrop of dreamy synths, punchy drums and bass, and the sound of my 60’s electric guitar.” Ahead of the release, she has also shared the official music video for the track. Produced and largely performed by Lynn and her partner Todd Lombardo (Kacey Musgraves, Donovan Woods, Kathleen Edwards), “Something More Than Love” was written following the birth of Lynn and Lombardo’s first child during the early months of the pandemic. Across these eleven tracks, Lynn chronicles this newfound experience—processing her intimate self-reflection and transforming them into an album that highlights universal themes of renewal, interconnectedness, surrender, and sacrifice. Reflecting on the record, Lynn shares, “A lot of people were making records during the pandemic, and all they had was time. But it was the opposite experience for us. We created this whole record while still in the fog of early parenthood, and we didn’t have the luxury of waiting for lightning to strike. We had to be focused and intentional,” and continues, “It doesn’t feel like a new direction to me. It just feels like a progression. My fans have come to expect a new experience with each new album. I think people are ready for this sound and this energy. I certainly am.” In celebration of the new music, Lynn is currently in the midst of an extensive nationwide tour supporting Penny & Sparrow.
Nicotine Dolls – “Till We Both Say”: A hooky pop song with emotional, vulnerable, and raspy vocals, a relentless beat, palm-muted power chords, and some sensual sax that brings an ‘80s vibe to the track. The band wrote this about the video for the song: “Our visual work is usually known to follow more of a narrative than a feeling and with this, I wanted to do something else. Create and ride the vibe of those first few weeks of dating someone, that obsessive need to just love someone. It’s that feeling that never lasts but it is a central life moment whenever it happens. Then put that up and over the soundtrack in our mind which is the band playing in that white space that then has all the memories projected into it. You watch the moments happen and then get to see the internal romancing of those moments. It’s a video that makes me want to find and feel and appreciate those things and I think that should always be the goal with these kinds of songs.”
Bear’s Den – “Frightened Whispers”: Strong vocals over a charming and multi-instrumental soundscape, and once again a saxophone added late to the game. The new song is the final track to be revealed ahead of the band’s fourth studio album, “Blue Hours,” set for release on May 13 via Communion Records. Of the song, Bear’s Den says, “‘Frightened Whispers’ is one of our favorites on the record. It’s been through a few iterations and has a really unique DNA as a song. It was a puzzle weaving all the different instrumental countermelodies together but the penny dropped for us when we got the wonderful Matt Douglas involved to play sax. He brought something really magical to the process, we can’t wait for people to hear it!” Band members Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones once again team up with producer Ian Grimble on what is one of their most personal records to date. The themes on the album include both self-reflection and mental health after both struggled with the latter in recent years. “It’s the main over-arching theme with this record,” Davie explains. “It probably speaks to our struggles and hopefully many other people’s too. Men are not very good at talking. We’re not really taught how to – men have no idea how to talk about this stuff, certainly to each other.” Despite the album’s challenging themes, it’s an album drenched in hope too. “We wanted this to be a celebration of music,” Jones continues. “I think that informed some of the bolder decision-making on this record. At a time when music was so distant, it felt important to make an album that sounded hopeful, celebratory, ambitious, and beautiful in spite of the heavy subject matter in some of the songs.” Jones adds: “It was almost like we needed to shout louder than before because we felt that there were more barriers between the audience and us. We needed something to transcend that.” The group also confirms an extensive run of the U.K., European, and North American tour dates, kicking off in early September.
All Get Out – “Sumter“: A moody pop-rock song going from upbeat guitars to stripped-down sad vocals, referencing temporary memory loss experienced by frontman Nathan Hussey’s mother. “Sumter” finds him offering up some self-aware self-recrimination about his attitude towards these hometown memories via a hefty nostalgic jangle. Lyrically, the track is the centerpiece of their upcoming album and is another reflection on the un-addressable things that still bother you from another era of your lifetime. All Get Out are excited to announce the Friday, June 3 release of “Kodak,” the band’s first full-length offering since 2018’s “No Bouquet.” An album centered around the concept of small-town living in America and how they — along with its people who stay behind — continue to remain frozen in time. “We wanted to make a record where I got my voice, as the writer, heard first – and then we tacked on everything else,” Hussey says. “It means this is more of a songwriter-y record, and that’s on purpose.” It’s a method that suits the introspective nature of the record perfectly. “A lot of the record came out to be about growing up in small towns that don’t move,” explains Hussey. “There are these little American towns that just haven’t evolved, and that’s on purpose — the way Bubba still has a Confederate flag on his pickup truck, or how friends and members of my family have perpetuated the small town thing of having kids at 18 and doing drugs. It’s just this cycle that keeps happening.” “This album is either who I am or where I came from or a combination of both,” says Hussey. “I’m very slow to evolve, and that’s part of the record as well. Not to get too meta, but it takes me a long time in life to get there sometimes. I don’t know if I manage to reconcile my past with my present, but it’s definitely been brought to attention – and that’s what was so important about this record.”
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – October 1972 (Volume 4, Number 5)
We leap ahead almost a year
A flatout triumph from a major performer
New Wave pop bliss out
I WISH I HADN’T GONE
a time-capsule type of roster
Creem -America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1971 (Volume 3, Number 6)
“Sure, we don’t pay much but then who else do ya know who’ll publish you?”
in the immortal words of Jason Isbell to me at Gov Ball a coupla years ago: “let’s do this…”
one of the great top tens of the 2020
old school Puerto Rican underground sounds
a masterful pop about loving a drug addict