Gestures & Sound – Concert Review

The Mint showcased a variety of talent on its June 21 bill from pop-influenced singer-songwriters to hard rocking folk quartets. There was something for everyone on a busy night. The venue itself is very intimate with an up close and personal stage where patrons could enjoy a variety of food and drinks mere feet away from live performances.

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Emily James. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Singer-songwriter Emily James, originally from New York, opened the night by playing songs from her latest EP as well as some to be featured on an upcoming release. As she started singing her first song, it was apparent early on that her voice is the driving force behind her music. Along with bold lyrics and stellar performances on both guitar and keys, she used all her talents as she shared stories stemming from personal places in her life including the tale of “A Boy in Memphis” (which may or may not be based on a true story). Emily is a well-rounded musician and her voice alone is enough to get hooked on with striking similarities to the likes of Adele. She put on a good set that was well received by a full bar by the time she was finished. We look forward to seeing her again on stage and in the meantime, we have the recently released and tender “Emily James – EP” to listen to, which she collaborated with Grammy award winning producer Jacquire King and producer Ian Fitchuk.

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James Taugher. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Following up was the Bay area-native James Taugher, a Motown, funk extraordinaire who brought a full band to stage to rock out. The five-piece was a solid group that excelled with soaring guitar solos, groovy keys, eclectic drums and sure-fire basslines. James is very comfortable on stage as he was dancing and showing off his Hip-Hop inspired vocals that are tinged with soul. At one point, he split the venue down the middle and got one half of the packed venue to sing the first part of the catchy chorus and the other half to finish it off. His way with crowds could only have been refined through years of performances, and on this last date of his band’s tour, everyone was in for a treat. James’ energy was contagious as it flowed from himself to his bandmates and ultimately to the audience. It was a high-octane set that went far above all lofty expectations.

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Gestures & Sounds. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Folk indie rock band Gestures & Sounds took stage with the anthemic “Coach” that showed everyone what they were capable of. The mostly-Wisconsin band had moments of introspection followed immediately after by moments of rocking out, a combination not often seen by bands not sporting an electric guitar. With an acoustic guitar, melodic keys, and an intense rhythm section (not to mention the occasional harmonica), Gestures & Sounds managed to be louder and larger than the sum of their parts. Especially impressive was the drumming performance, as it took songs that would perhaps be considered tame in nature to the next level. The atmosphere at The Mint was lively and welcomed Gestures & Sounds, who returned the appreciation by putting on a solid set that shows what a group of guys who love for music can do.

Overall, the night was a fun time to be had by all. Attendees who stayed longer had the opportunity to enjoy Cult of Positivity and Nicholas Braun, establishing once again that The Mint is the go-to place for experiencing young, upcoming talent.

Bradley Wik – New Single Release

Bradley Wik and the Charlatans have released their new single “Some Girls (Still Love Rock N Roll)” off his upcoming album titled “In My Youth, I’m Getting Old…” scheduled to release on Sept. 15. For a classic rocker, check the track out here:

The sound of the song has rightfully drawn comparisons to Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and the Replacements. It harkens back to the time when bands got together in one room to record the familiar sounds of guitars, bass, drums and keys straight from live to tape for a real performance and connection to classic rock n roll.

The album’s namesake is about Wik’s battle with drugs and alcohol, failed relationships and personal struggles and acts as a product of coming to terms with his chosen lifestyle. The songs are also meant to have people relate to them, whether by helping remember their hometown, friends, lost loves, hopes or regrets. Wik’s songs are snapshots in life, from nights filled with dancing, drinking and laughter to dark nights of defeat.

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Image via Bradley Wik

Wik’s approach to his sound is to break away from modern conventions and to return to his rock n roll roots and all the rawness and organic power it has.

“It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be worth it,” Wik said. “What makes music great? The stories. And the moment where someone listening says, ‘that’s me.’”

To stay up to date with Wik, be sure to follow him on Soundcloud and his official website.

Brixton Typewriter – Solo Artist Interview

Hailing from Utica, New York, Brixton Typewriter is the do-it-yourself indie musical project by Sean Sisti, who plays all the instruments himself. He recently released his “Cold & Tired EP” in March. Check out the relaxing “Red” here:

Sean’s Brixton Typewriter is a musical outlet where he plays all the instruments himself, a task that is well within the realm of his talents. Sean got into music at a young age, taking piano lessons around age 6, playing cello at age 8, and getting his first guitar at age 10, which he said was the start of his musical journey.

“Music is in my blood–both my parents are musicians,” Sean said. “Numerous other family members and relatives are musicians so it makes sense that I picked up music at a young age.”

Sean wants to one day play in a proper band, a dream that perhaps formed after he saw his dad playing in his band. As early as the 5th grade, right after getting his first guitar, Sean and some of his friends tried starting up a band. Things didn’t quite take off but ever since then, Sean has wanted to perform music in some capacity, even as a hobby. Throughout the years, he has performed in the school orchestra and did a year of Jazz band in high school.

The beginning of Brixton Typewriter began when Sean got his keytar, which was packaged with a copy of Ableton Live 8 Lite.

“I took some time to learn the software, and just started recording,” Sean said. “By the time I had a few demos, I figured I should come up with a name to call the project. The name comes from the first two things I saw at my desk, a copy of ‘Live at Brixton Academy’ by Simon Parkes and a rusted old Remington typewriter. I liked the ambiguity of it–it left me a lot of leg-room. It didn’t suggest a solo artist, a band, a duo, etc. Looking back, I should’ve named it something different but I commit to my mistakes.”

Part of recording new music required getting a hold of new instruments, something that may have turned into an addiction. Sean tries to get a hold of as many instruments as he can whether they’re new or weird, and from anywhere he can, including from out of dumpsters. He has acquired a mandolin, a keytar, an accordion, a reed organ, and the list goes on.

“As for prowess, I never really spent a lot of time with one single instrument, I liked floating from one to the other, but that could also be the reason why I’m mediocre at everything,” Sean said. “Honestly, I’d rather be mediocre at many things than be pigeon-holed into one corner of music.”

Being able to record everything turned out to be easier than he imagined, and soon after Sean started created songs that he self-described as sounding like bits and pieces of other things coming out of a broken AM radio or a cassette player from across the room.

Sean’s approach to recording is to start off in a blank state and find either a sound, sight or feeling that serves as a foundation for building the song. This allows for every song to go in a unique path as experimentation and exploration are used as tools to help develop the final product. This approach can be heard on the first Brixton Typewriter’s debut EP titled “Sunday Night in an Attic” released in February 2016. The EP is a collection of experimental and indie rock tracks that range in an array of musical styles, from the opener’s “Closer to You” whimsical nature to the Western-inspired “Gunslinger’s Funeral.” The EP truly is a glimpse into Sean’s mind as he discovers his own muse.

“There have been very few times where I go in knowing exactly what to record,” Sean said. “If you do go in to record something specifically, nine times out of ten, you’ll come out with something different.”

Once the sight, sound, or feeling, or a combination of the three has been decided upon, Sean likes to draw inspiration from his favorite artists and then try emulating different genres. One song titled “Go In, Mr. Waits” has Sean emulating Tom Waits, a personal hero of his.

“As for the sight part, sometimes I’ll close my eyes and picture something and try to recreate that scene through music,” Sean said. “‘Route 13’ from ‘Cold & Tired’ is a good example of that. I closed my eyes and pictured a dark and winding road carved through a thick forest of pines. I wanted something cold and mysterious to represent that.”

Sean continued, “Feelings are probably the ones I utilize the most. ‘I Don’t Want to Go’ from ‘Human Resources’ is about the feeling of the end of a long journey, and not being ready to say goodbye. It’s a song of bittersweet farewells. It’s a really nice song and I don’t think my first recording of it does it justice.”

Brixton Typewriter’s second release was the album “Human Resources” in May 2016. Whereas the debut EP was an experimentation in recording and writing, the follow-up was built upon that foundation and focused on featuring songs that were fun to listen to with atmosphere to along with it. Sean said he dragged his friends and family to help in some areas, such as playing solos on sax, trumpet, and guitar.

“I loved doing it and I actually have been collaborating with more people recently so I look forward to the future in that respect,” Sean said. “Hopefully someday I can get a proper live-band going on.”

Brixton Typewriter’s third and most recent release “Cold & Tired” is an EP where Sean challenged himself to playing guitar better. He wanted to jump back into recording right after finishing his first album and did so by recording around 50 demos and excerpts over the course of a year. Once the themes of the songs started to form, a story began to emerge.

“’Cold & Tired’ is, at its literal, the story of someone dissatisfied with the world in its current state (‘Red’), hung up on the past (‘Class of 1998’), and who decides to liberate themselves from the corruption of the world and their own history to achieve some level of comfort or inner peace (‘Runaway’),” Sean said. “The mystery and hardships of the world outside their hometown become apparent and they try to escape once again, this time by trying to fall asleep (‘Route 13,’ ‘Insomniac’). Through a dream sequence filled with air-raid sirens and bombs (‘Grey Escadrille’), the protagonist realizes that their hometown is a safe haven, a place of nostalgia, love and memories and they start to make their way back home (‘Dreamer’). One of the hardest parts of writing instrumentals is saying everything you need to say by saying nothing at all.”

When creating the EP, Sean furthered his recording experimentation by trying new things, such as using a VST that had a soundcard for DOS games to get unique sounds out of and using an old clip from a Ronald Regan speech. Clearly, it’s an essential journey for anyone interested in something that’s unique, new, and perhaps even a little bit quirky.

Whether it’s collecting new instruments, trying new sounds, or gathering friends to record parts, Sean enjoys every part of surrounding his musical project. He said he enjoys recording new music because he gets to see his vision realized but also for other reasons.

“I also like the little parts, nailing a difficult riff, or writing a fun bassline, accidentally playing a wrong chord that sounds good or finding the right melody that makes everything perfect,” Sean said. “But, ultimately, it’s the reception I get from people who listen. That’s why I do what I do. My end goal is to make people feel something, feel nostalgia, pain, happiness, sorrow, and so on. I’ve had someone call one of my songs (I think it was the Epilogue from ‘Human Resources’) ‘hauntingly beautiful’ and that, to me, was an amazing feeling.”

Going on age 21, Sean is looking to take Brixton Typewriter to the next level. His plans include getting a group together to have the ability of capturing moments with bandmates that could not otherwise happen when recording and writing everything solo.

“Recording is nice because you have some element of control over the whole thing, but it only really comes together at the end,” Sean said. “When you play with a group, the results are instantaneous. This, I think, makes it a lot more soulful and exciting. Recording is very much a personal and emotional effort for me, and I think it’d be interesting to get a group together and just have fun, see where that goes.”

To stay up to date with Brixton Typewriter, follow the band on Bandcamp.

Blisterhead – EP Review

A brand-new Blisterhead EP titled “Border Control” is out now and that means everyone who enjoys 50s rock ‘n’ roll and 70s punk rock are in for a real treat. Check out the title track “Border Control” here:

Released on May 19, the new EP shows off why this band was well respected in the Swedish street punk movement. It was recorded live in The Panic Room Studio together with Thomas “Plec” Johansson and features fast-paced guitars and bold messages that fuse together and inject firepower through the EP’s four tracks. The theme throughout the EP questions the current situation for refugees in Europe and how the political world mistreats and excludes people, giving the EP a sense of purpose. The overall sound experience is exactly tailor made for fans of bands such as The Ramones, The Clash and Rancid.

The opening track “Border Control” immediately lets you know what you’re in for. It’s fast pounding drums and rhythmic basslines compliment swirling guitars and made-for-punk vocals complete with a catchy chorus. The song is an accurate portrayal of the EP’s sound and is a great opener to get listeners juiced up for what’s to come.

“Valley of the Dead” follows up with a prominent bass opening by bassist Andreas Emanuelsson. The lines “We will never be free” show the band’s lyrical approach of struggling against higher powers, a necessary ingredient in any punk revolution. Two songs in and Blisterhead does not disappoint in delivering quality choruses wrapped up in energetic performances by all band members.

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Photo provided by Blisterhead

The third track “Blood On Your Face” is also a head banger and it really shows off Erik Törnqvist and Kim Nilsson vocals and guitar work as they combine their talents by harmonizing well during the chorus. Closing the EP is “System Overload,” which continues the introspective lyrical approach that questions the government. “We’re all to blame for the mess we created” speaks true of the situation the EP tackles, and the bold nature of the lyrics really add depth to the songs. The guitar solo is this track is up-beat and the drums are as solid as they can be, leaving you with a feeling of wanting to listen to all again and again. Though the EP is short, it provides just enough to get you interested in checking out more of their discography if you haven’t already.

In the end, if you’re a true hard-core punk fan, it’s a no-brainer: “Border Control” is a definite purchase. Blisterhead is known for taking riffs and basslines from different eras and providing the best punk experience you can get in today’s world.

The vinyl issue is distributed by Dead Lamb Records (Ireland), Dirty Old Man Records (England), Rock Em Dead Records (England) and Punkebjartes Punkeplattor (Norge). Cramada is handling the digital release through Sound Pollution Distribution, Phonofile (Nordic countries) and The Orchard (worldwide).

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Blisterhead EP artwork

To stay up to date with Blisterhead, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Spotify.

Scott Ruth – New Single Release

Scott Ruth has released his latest single “Are You There,” a track produced by acclaimed indie folk musician Noah Gundersen. Check out the alternative rocker here:

Ruth is an L.A.-based singer-songwriter who finds himself for the first time not self-producing a project. He worked with Gundersen and engineer Andy Parks, allowing Ruth to have more creative freedom and a new perspective. The song was recorded at X Studios in Seattle, and follows the American songwriting style of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen while lyrically focusing on the void left behind in a past relationship.

“The song is about that feeling you get when someone who was once a huge part of your life, suddenly isn’t there anymore and all the things that go through your head,” Ruth said. “Wondering what they’re doing, if they’re feeling what you’re feeling.”

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Photo via Scott Ruth

Ruth was formerly a part of the L.A. indie rock band The Futures League where he provided bass. He has since furthered his craft as a multi-instrumentalist and producer. Last year, he released his solo debut “The Weight of It All” and toured extensively for it supporting Noah Gundersen as well as headlining his own shows.

“I’m now in a different chapter of my life, and I couldn’t be more excited to get the rest of these songs out in the open,” Ruth said.

To stay up to date with Scott Ruth be sure to check him out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and his own official website.