Victory Season is the new project from Randy Cooper, the guitarist who was a founding member of the Texas Hippie Coalition – a band who specialized in their own brutal “red dirt metal” sound. Victory Season continues that path, their sound described as a southern hybrid mix of Mötley Crüe meets Pantera. I don’t know about you, but that description pulled me immediately – that’s a perfect mix. The band features Randy Cooper on guitars, Aaron “Ash” Starr on vocals, and a father / son duo on bass and drums – Duane Connaughton on bass and Tor Connaughton on drums. The band’s debut EP is an absolute killer statement of intent.
The EP kicks off with Light it Up – which has a brutal thrash vibe and doom-laden vocals that call to mind what a bastard child of the Seattle scene and Pantera would sound like. Absolutely brilliant, in other words. Be Kind recalls those halcyon days of the late 80’s metal scene. In fact, I can just envision this tune being played on MTV (remember when they played videos??). This song features Gary Jefferies helping the band out and it is an exercise in perfection. Strong melodies, laid back lyrics hinting at the good old days, and just has that “it” quality. A killer guitar solo caps the whole thing off. The acoustic workout Burn Tonight segues into the closer, Ghost Dance. This last song really encapsulates everything that the band excels at – uncompromising riffs, strong melodies, and impassioned vocals. A perfect way to close things out.
You can follow the band here. Keep an eye on their tour schedule to see if they are playing in a town near you – I know I’m hoping they make their way up to the Pacific Northwest.
Verdict: Stunning Debut
For Fans of: Pantera, Skid Row, Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Hellyeah
- Light it Up
- Cumin’ Home
- Be Kind (featuring Gary Jefferies)
- Burn Tonight
- Ghost Dance
Pale Pose is a new project out of Athens, GA (home to another mildly famous band know as R.E.M.). The project was started by Kyle Kendall as a one-man band indulging in a variety of styles deeply indebted to the underground. Tom Ashton of The March Violets and Clan of Xymox came on board to offer up his studio wizardry and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, I was already excited when I heard snippets of the album when it was sent my way for potential review, but when I saw The March Violets connection, I had to smile to myself. A few years ago, I desperately wanted to see The March Violets in Seattle but could not make the timing work. Life happened, the band is no more, and I missed out on a great opportunity. So, seeing Tom Ashton’s involvement whetted my appetite, you could say. And what an album this is! Doorways; The Exiter is a brooding, masterful debut release from Pale Pose.
I really like Ric Zweig’s story – he had a lengthy career as a Prosecutor, Criminal Defense Attorney, and Circuit Court Judge in the Miami, Florida region. Once he retired from his career, he returned to music. Over the last decade or so, he has released 5 albums that are imbued with a sense of the South Florida life. Breezy, catchy tunes abound. Box is a song that was written 15 years ago by Oski Gonzalez and one that Ric had always wanted to cut. The song revels in a laid-back atmosphere, perfectly suited to Ric’s strengths as a performer. Lyrically, it rejects the notion of today’s technology trappings – celebrating the simple life. There’s a twist in those words, if you pay attention closely. Love the emotive guitar solo in this recording as well. A welcome return.
You can follow Ric here. Check out his latest song and video, you won’t regret it.
For Fans of: Eagles, America, Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor
England’s Healthy Junkies play an intoxicating mix of punk, garage rock, with a healthy dose of theatrics. The band has been on the scene for a few years, centered around vocalist Nina Courson and guitarist Phil Honey-Jones. The current line up is rounded out with Dave Whitmore on bass and Adam Lewis on drums. Their back story reads like a novel: Nina ran away at 14 to Paris, fell in with hoodlums and eventually ran away to London where she connected with Phil. The rest, as they say, is history. Delirious Dream is the band’s 4th long-player and is their finest yet.
Washington D.C.’s Dot Dash have been churning out strong records at a steady clip for close to a decade now. The members of the band have been a part of some pretty well-known bands in the past – Julie Ocean, Youth Brigade, and Swervedriver, for a start – but Dot Dash is its own entity. A strong one, at that. A classic power pop trio that sounds both retro and modern in the present day, they are a gem in the indie music community. Comprised of Terry Banks on guitar & vocals, Hunter Bennet on bass, and Danny Ingram on drums, their latest long player Proto Retro is their 6th album and their finest yet.
It’s been about 4 years since we’ve last heard from New York City’s The Lost Patrol. A lot has happened in that time, including the resurgence of Twin Peaks. Mention of David Lynch’s masterpiece is apt, as I’ve always thought The Lost Patrol’s music would be right at home in that fictional world (Note: I live about 30 minutes from where the series was filmed). Atmospheric, emotionally resonant – The Lost Patrol have always operated in their own world. And it is a world that I love being in. Redemption serves as a reintroduction to the band, an EP of 4 originals with 2 remixes. You know, in the 70’s they’d call that an album. Anyway – all the elements that I love about The Lost Patrol are here – hypnotic vocals by Mollie Heckerling, dream like musical backing by Stephen Masucci, and assorted help from familiar names & friends. So how does it stack up to past efforts?
Redemption has been on constant repeat since I received the album – an embarrassingly long time ago (this review is long overdue). Opener Some Other Time is all eerie synths, mysterious vocals, and tugging at the emotional heartstrings. Perfection, in other words. But the 2nd song Your Own Medicine might be my favorite song by The Lost Patrol ever. 60’s girl group vibes, heartbreak, heartache, and an epic sound for the broken. “I’m gonna make you feel / Like you have no other choice / I wish I could make you hear / Nothing but my voice”. Lyrics that cut like a knife. Don’t Cry
is not a Guns ‘N Roses cover, but nevertheless it is a great song. It continues the girl group heartbreak vibe in stunning fashion. It’s Time continues the vibes, with an atmospheric guitar lick coursing through the song. The EP is rounded out with two remixes, which enhance the vibes quite a bit.
Verdict: Short But Sweet
For Fans of: Lush, David Lynch, Lan Del Rey, Cocteau Twins, Chris Isaak
Later Fortune is the brainchild of Philadelphia’s Chet Delcampo and Heyward Howkins – two indie artists who have made their mark with solo records that stood apart from the crowd by using intelligent lyrics married to ridiculously strong melodies. Chet Delcampo (real name Chris Madl) took his name from Steve Buscemi’s character in the Coen Brothers’ classic, Barton Fink. He’s released a few solo records and singles along with two records under the Hong Kong Stingray moniker. Indie rock at its finest. Heyward Howkins might be familiar to some of my readers as I’ve reviewed both of his solo albums. I really have always loved his folk / pop sensibility as filtered through historical anecdotes by way of his Philadelphia roots. A band formed around these two huge talents is a major force to be reckoned with.
The band started out as a way for friends to get together and record spontaneous collaborations. The idea of recording a song a month was thrown around, with the result being an album released at the end of 12 months. Sometimes the best ideas start out with the best intentions but lead to a different result. And here’s what we have – the brand new, debut single from Later Fortune. As an introduction to a new band, it is perfect. It makes an impact and leaves the listener wanting more. A 12 Year Audition is a low-key gem, hushed vocals and resonant, joyful melody that builds as the song progresses. Birds of Papau is an instrumental b-side, evocative in the atmosphere it builds over the course of 3 minutes or so.
You can pick up the record here. I’m really looking forward to what comes next from Later Fortune , this is an impressive debut.
Verdict: Stunning Debut
For Fans of: Mojave 3, Neil Young, Honeychurch, Simon & Garfunkel