Ella Atlas – The Road To Now

Ella Atlas features Stephen Masucci on guitars, bass, and keyboards, and Tarrah Maria on vocals, guitars, and keyboards. Stephen’s name might be a bit familiar to those who follow the indie scene – as a member of The Lost Patrol and The Lovely Tangibles, he has made his mark on the scene with his Twin Peaks worthy musical styles. Tarrah co-wrote some of my favorite songs by The Lovely Tangibles, so I knew this had the potential to be a match made in heaven. The duo have influences ranging from Pink Floyd to Ella Fitzgerald and have a dynamic that is uniquely their own. The Road To Now is their debut album, arriving just a month or so after their 1st single. The band more than delivers on their promise – this is a striking debut album that will reward listeners after repeated spins.

When The Gods Are Fading is the 1st single from the band and fittingly, it opens the album. A slow fade in to an ethereal lament of love & loss. A dreamscape that sets the tone for the entire record. I love these lines “When the war is done / Paradise isn’t safe / Will you believe now?”. Waking Up does the slow fade in trick again with the song announcing its arrival with a glorious wave of white noise, surf guitar, and impassioned vocals. A tone poem dedicated to uncertainty, this is one of my favorite songs on the album. “I used to hear the trumpets / You were right / Nothing’s ever certain”. Horses On The Run 1st appeared on an album by The Lovely Intangibles and was a co-write with Tarrah Maria. Here, Tarrah sings her heart out performing the tune. Again, this is a standout track – an instantly memorable moment on the album. Calm gives way to the storm – an explosive chorus that is begging to be played on the radio. Can’t Go Back is a sad lament to the end of a relationship, the music & words expertly evoking a sense of loss. Shades of Cocteau Twins on this song. Skin And Bones closes the record on a strong note – in some ways, it encapsulates all the band’s strengths. Emotive vocals, strong lyrical content, and music inspired by – but not tied to – the sounds of shoegazing. “If you’re feeling like you’re haunted / Come and dance with your ghost”

You can follow the band on Facebook and buy the album on Bandcamp. It is a debut worth seeking out – enchanting, unique, original. You’ll hear shades of Stephen Masucci’s earlier work with The Lost Patrol and The Lovely Intangibles but it feels like this partnership with Tarrah Maria has brought something different to the mix (not better – different, in my best Eddie and the Cruisers impersonation). Seek out Ella Atlas – follow them, support them. You won’t regret it.

Verdict: promising debut

For Fans of: Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Luna, Slowdive, Lush, Ivy

Tracks:

  1. When The Gods Are Fading
  2. Red Kingdom
  3. Hotel You
  4. Waking Up
  5. Horses On The Run
  6. Breaking Ice
  7. Something To Be Desired
  8. Blindful & Bliss
  9. Can’t Go Back
  10. Leave Me In Blue
  11. Skin And Bones
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Ummagma – Frequency

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Ummagma hail from Peterborough, Ontario – about 80 miles northeast of Toronto. The town’s nickname is “The Electric City” because it was the 1st town in all of Canada to use electric streetlights. In the present day, the town is where technology & manufacturing coexist comfortably.  Fittingly, the duo of Shauna McLarnon and Alexander Kretov offer up an intoxicating mix of electronic & organic sounds. The Ummagma story begins in Moscow in 2003 where Alexx and Shauna were residing. The met at an acoustic guitar concert and quickly the relationship became a personal & professional union. Alexx handles composition, instrumentation, arrangements, and vocals while Shauna handles vocals, composition, and lyrics. The music recalls bands such as Lush, Cocteau Twins, and Kraftwerk but the overall vibe is one of originality. The background of the band members has a great deal to do with that uniqueness – Alexx hails from the Ukraine and began making music in the wake of the USSR collapse, while Shauna hails from the Yukon, Canada and began composing music while spending time in Siberia, Moscow, and northern Canada. Frequency is the band’s new EP and it is the strongest offering from the duo yet.

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Galaxie 500 – Strange

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Galaxie 500 followed up their impressive 1988 debut album Today with 1989’s near perfect On Fire. The tunes were stronger, the lyrics more cutting. It remains the highlight of the band’s all too brief career – Dean Wareham’s affecting unconventional vocals in tandem with his Velvet Underground inspired guitar riffs, Naomi Yang’s slowcore bass, and Damon Krukowski’s perfect drums displaying a band perfectly in sync. Strange is the 4th song on the album and perfectly encapsulates the Galaxie 500 experience. Warbling, slightly out of tune vocals working hand in hand with infectious guitar & bass riffs. The emotional havoc emanating from Wareham’s vocal delivery is a rewarding & exhilarating journey. The lyrics alternate between philosophical & ordinary, tying the two together as one. How can anyone know what someone’s impression is of you or if it lines up with your self view? That’s my take on it, and the song has served me well for years.

Why’s everybody actin funny?
Why’s everybody look so strange?
Why’s everybody look so pretty?
What do I want with all these things?

I went alone down to the drugstore
I went in back and took a Coke
I stood in line and ate my Twinkies
I stood in line, I had to wait

The Lost Patrol – Chasing Shadows

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It’s been about 18 months since we last heard from New York City’s The Lost Patrol. 2013’s Driven was a masterful record, indebted to 80’s post-punk with a side of noir. It was one of my favorite records of 2013 and I was curious about how the band would follow it up. In 2014 the band still features Mollie Israel on vocals alongside multi-instrumentalists Stephen Masucci and Michael Williams. New to the band is Tony Mann on drums, who lends the new tunes a rawer feel in comparison to previous records. The record is a “grower” in the classic sense of the term – each spin reveals a new layer of beauty. It is the strongest offering by The Lost Patrol to date and pushes the band forward whilst retaining everything that has made them great thus far.

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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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The Lost Patrol – Driven

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ec·lec·tic

/iˈklektik/

Adjective
Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

So says some reputable website on the world wide web. In my experience though, this term can come off as damning praise. “Oh, don’t mind him – he’s a bit eclectic”. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure you’ve heard the term in the same way. Not always true, mind you – just my experience. I’ve always been drawn to people, authors, and musicians who embrace an eclectic approach. (True Confession: I love Sandinista! by The Clash). There’s something about the all-encompassing approach that I really enjoy. New York City’s The Lost Patrol are a band that use an eclectic approach to great effect.

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The Phantom Light – Sky Lanterns

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“The Phantom Light name originates  from a 1935 film of the same name which follows the disappearance of two lighthouse keepers stationed on the desolate coast of Wales. It’s a haunting early example of the work of the visionary director Michael Powell, and resonated with founder members frontman Anthony Jones and drummer Matty James, who had grown up staring out from the shorelines of Swansea”

The above statement from the bands biography conjures up all sorts of imagery in one’s head. The sea can be a source of solace in times of great stress – it can also play the role of reminding a fragile human of the power of Mother Nature. Remember kids – we can love the ocean, but the ocean doesn’t love us. It just is. The Phantom Light take inspiration from the sea and their surroundings in Wales (that’s the part of the UK that isn’t Scotland, Northern Ireland, or England). The music at time recalls bands from the classic era of the Shoegazing scene (Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine) whilst also displaying the uncanny ability to provide melodies in abundance. At times throughout this stunning EP I was reminded of early Genesis (Peter Gabriel era) and late 70’s era Magazine. Whatever you want to call this mix of styles, one thing is certain – this is a record that belongs in your collection.

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