Sunstack Jones – s/t

Liverpool’s Sunstack Jones have long been one of my favorite indie bands over the last 5 or 6 years. Hints of 60’s psychedelia, nods to 90’s Britpop, and meticulous attention to detail make for an engaging listen. The band operates as a collective, something that has been part of their modus operandi since day 1. Christopher Jones is on vocals / guitar joined by Richy (drums), Lorcan (guitar), Dave (vocals / guitar), and Jules (bass). The band have a number of releases to their name, all evoking nostalgia, coastal drives by sunset, and life’s regrets. The latest self titled LP takes these traits and perfects them.

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Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

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At their peak of popularity, Oasis were the biggest band…in the UK. Though they had a few hits in the US, they never broke the US market like many expected them to in the mid 90’s. Driven to success with the double-edged sword of talent & sibling rivalry, it all fizzled out in 2009 after a pre gig fight between Liam and Noel Gallagher. Critics mocked their reverent worship of The Beatles, but I admired it. Is it really so different from the latest crop of post-punk bands who worship at the altar of Joy Division? At their best, Oasis could hang with The Beatles. At their worst, they were left in the dust by The Rutles. Where does a band go when it all crashes down?

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Hyena Motorcade – Hyena Motorcade

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The self titled album. What does it mean? Some bands use it to reset expectations, pointing forward to a new direction. Other bands use it to trim away the excess of the earlier releases, streamlining the sound for a mass audience. What I like about self titled releases from bands like The Beatles and Metallica is that they ended up becoming memorable with the band’s discography (yes, The Beatles before I was born). I’m not 100%  sure what to say about Weezer’s 3 self titled records, but Peter Gabriel’s 4 self titled records are all brilliant in their own unique way. How about if you are a new-ish band on the scene? If you are Hyena Motorcade out of Los Angeles, you offer up an EP that showcases the band’s many strengths.

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Natalie Merchant – Natalie Merchant

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Natalie Merchant straddles multiple genres, never comfortably fitting in any scene. With the 10,000 Maniacs she veered from post-punk / folk to jangle pop. With her solo works she found even wider acceptance with her radio ready, alternative pop sound. Personally, seeing Natalie Merchant in concert in 2001 for the Motherland tour was a highlight among the hundreds of shows I’ve been fortunate to catch. She owned the stage and made her audience feel the depth of the words she was singing so passionately. Motherland was her last record of original material for over a decade – 2003’s The House Carpenter’s Daughter was a covers album, and 2010’s Leave Your Sleep was an album of lullabies dedicated to her daughter. Finally, we have a new album of original material – 13 years after the last album of original material (and that one happens to be my personal favorite solo record from Ms. Merchant). So, how’s the new record stack up? Read on…

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Nothing – Guilty Of Everything

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The ghosts of our past can be ignored, viewed through rose-colored lenses, or confronted head on. Philadelphia based Nothing were founded by Dominic Palermo in 2011 shortly after he spent time in lock up on a few charges relating to a fight. Singer for a hardcore band (Horror Show), jail, a few years away from music – not the ideal career path for a musician trying to break on through (to the other side). Strangely enough, turning an introspective eye to the past has lent Palermo’s music a depth that can only come about by tackling the issues head on. Fortunately for us, we are left with what should be a contender for one of the finest albums of 2014.

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Zephyr Reign – Tempus Fugit

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“Zephyr Reign are a 5 piece Alternative/Rock band from South Wales.

With a list of musical tastes and backgrounds ranging from indie to rock to good old fashion rock n roll the band Zephyr Reign show no limitations with their writing ability and style. With music influenced by bands such as The Who, Oasis, The Clash and The Manic Street Preachers (to name a few) the band mixes alternative rock and classic rock together. The vocals are a mixture of modern and older (Sing your head off ) lyrics that have a definite touch with the real people of today. The band features Geraint Roberts – Vocals/Guitar, Matthew Griffiths – Guitar, Neil Rossiter – Guitar, Gareth Davies – Bass, and Barrie Davies – Drums.”

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Amy Hill – Place of Mind

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I have to be honest – I’ve always had a weak spot for female acoustic folk type music. I think it began in the early 90’s with the release of the first Jewel record, Pieces of You. I bought the CD well before any of the songs were played on the radio (what a hipster thing to say) and fell in love with almost 3/4 of the record. So began my pursuit of following female artists that followed that mold – folk based with insanely catchy melodies and lyrics that resonate. To be honest, this is a hard position to straddle – what works for some artists can easily come off as boring music paired with bad poetry (no names, it is all in the eye of the beholder). Amy Hill hails from Brighton, England and her debut album, Place of Mind, is an album that recalls early Jewel while retaining its own unique charm.

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