Monday, August 31, 2015

It Came From ReverbNation - The Ripple Music-ReverbNation Playlist Part 1: featuring Tennessee Stiffs, The Black Marbles, NMBR11, Axis/Orbit and The Losing Kind

Welcome waveriders.  Once again the good folks at ReverbNation asked us to participate in a promotion for their millions of bands and artists.  Who ever was interested had 60 days to submit one song to us.  I then promised that I'd go through each submission and write a quick line about the 20 that caught my ear.

2480 artists submitted from all genres.  Originally, I only wanted to review heavy rock stuff, you know, Ripple Music record label kinda stuff, but wouldn't you know it, I simply fell in love with some of the voices, songs, craft and melodies of some very surprising (to me) submissions. I don't really lean towards Country/Americana, yet the Tennessee Stiffs grabbed my ears and refused to let go. I've been bored with too many emo-ish pop bands and intended to skip the whole scene, but a talented young signer/songwriter named Danielle H was way, way too talented to ignore.  Not looking for any indie, folk or alternative yet you'll find amazing songwriters/performers like Lauren Marsh, Gentlemen and Scholars and NMBR11 on the list.  That's not even to mention some of the amazing bands that crossed my computer, like StoneCoats, Ophelliah, and Axis/Orbit.  Way too many to name here.  And despite the fact that ReverbNation ranks submissions by how many fans, facebook/followers they have, etc, I intentionally ignored those rankings and often started at the bottom of the list where the funky as all get-out, bluesy hip hop of PR Stunt was just waiting to be found.

Its a very mixed, eclectic playlist for all kinds of moods.  In other words, it's what the Ripple Effect is all about.

My apologies to all the others who submitted.  Some of these cuts were brutal for me.  It was a brutal process, listening to each and every one of the 2480 submissions and trimming it down.  Once I got the list down to about 100 the process trudged to a snail's pace.   I wanted to keep them all, but simply couldn't.  Often it wasn't that a submission wasn't worthy, it just may have been not what I wanted to write about at this point in time.  Case in point, The Black Marbles, who I passed over the last time I did this, but jumped out at me this go around.

So, without further ado, the Ripple Music ReverbNation playlist, part 2.  Part 1 played (find it here) a bit back, Part 3 plays next week.

Tenessee Stiffs - Waiting to Collide 

Ok, I'm taking this right off the band's webpage, because it's just damn perfect.  "They seamlessly blend Americana, blues, rock, folk, alternative country, and a myriad of other influences into a powerful and provocative product they call "Death Folk." Late night writing sessions soaked in whiskey gave the group a sound all their own. Cara’s melodies range from hauntingly beautiful to wildly soulful. Blended with Lee’s foot-stomping rhythms and gravelly vocals, the two take the “Beauty and the Beast” standard to heart."    I don't know about the whole "Beauty and the Beast" part, because I think both of their voices are simply damn perfect, but man, when they harmonize, and overlap each other . . . unreal.  The term "achingly beautiful" was coined just to describe this band.  Yes, it's country, or Americana, or acoustic indie, or . . .Death Folk.  It's all of the above and it is simply a perfect, and perfectly beautiful song.  Haunting.  Gritty.  Powerful.  Moving.  Infinitely listenable.

I think the band is pressing up their first album.  That will definitely be one to look out for.

The Black Marbles - Free Your Mind

Moving on from the Americana end of things, but keeping it gritty, we got the Black Marbles and their roughed up, garage pop of "Free Your Mind."  Keeping it moving and soulful in the style of groovy 70's rock, inspired by bands such as Bad Company, Free, Humble Pie and the Faces.   I know Sweden is capable of cranking out just about any music dreamed of, but nothing about this band sounds like it comes from Gothenburg.  It just bleeds dirty garage rock with soul and verve of the south.  A taste of the bayou.  A shot of whiskey.  Bar Band for the next major fist fight.  "Free Your Mind," is a rocking, groovin' burst of a good time and not to be missed.

NMBR11 - Please Forgive Me

After the Tennessee Stiffs and now NMBR11, you might think that I got a thing for that painfully beautiful, poignant mixture of female vocals riding across a tune of stark Americana . . . and I guess I do.  Remember, I'm the guy who hates country, mainly because it's lacking in soul.  So, I'll fight you to the death that this ain't country, cause what NMBR11 do is just about as full as soul as you can get.  Sure the song is gently acoustic, and beats at a leisurely crawl, but that doesn't mean it's not powerful.  Don't be fooled.  The fantastic guitar work of Bernard Bulhack interweaving with the angelic, aching vocals of Yeshiva is all about the power. The power of expert songwriting and musicianship.  The power of emotion, and pain, remorse and hidden places.   Dark, country, gothic American is the name of the game here, and it's just about as evocative and moving as anything you're gonna find.  Amazing vocals, poignant acoustic and weeping edges of slide guitar.  When Yeshiva sings, "Please forgive me, I was wrong,"   Man.  If she was singing to me, all defenses would simply melt and I'd forgive her for the next 1,000 things she may do.   A beautiful, spellbinding song.  

Axis/Orbit - Around

Now I know Axis/Orbit.  Or I thought I did.  These cats sent me their 3 song debut a while back and more recently they sent me their finished full-length album.  I hadn't listened to it yet.  Looks like I gotta fix that real soon.  I seemed to remember Axis/Orbit being rather form-free psychedelic jamming, but man, that's not what's going on here.  Yes, the fuzz and acrid haze are still here, but this is burst of pure crunchy, punchy garage psych.  A killer chorus, some nasty fuzzed-out riffs and a killer, swinging beat.   Their reverbNaton page goes on to list all the standard stoner rock influences from Sabbath to Clutch to Corrosion of Conformity, but damn, I'll tell you, that's not what this song is about.  I know stoner (I do run a stoner rock/heavy rock record label) and what we got here is smack dab up the other love alley of my life, and that's straight from the garage.   And in my opinion, the band is better for it.  With the confines of the song, the band is punchier and more straight forward than I remember them being and simply cranking out a party good vibe.  

The Losing Kind - Loser

Punk.  Straight up, right from the gutter, blood and spit punk rock.  Well, in this case, turns out the "gutter" is right up the 80 freeway from me in Vacaville.  Not a place I ever associated with a punk rock scene (or any music scene for that matter) but maybe that's about to change.  "Loser" is all flailing buzzsaw guitars, snappy verses and addictive gang choruses, just like the best of punk.  Energy, vitality and rawness.  Perfect.  But there's also some serious chops here. The drums stay right in the pocket without getting sloppy and the bass and guitar run through some nice paces keeping the song rushing forward.  Best of all, we're not stuck listening to whiny emo vocals here, but good guttural punk throats.   "Three time loser on a winning streak" may be the lyrics here, and I'll tell you, if this song is any indication, that winning streak is about to keep on going.  

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