When Bologna Turns Into Steak

Indie? Grunge Pop? Surf Rock? Try and wrap your mind around the genre of the hard hitting album, “Hung at Heart,” by The Growlers.

Frontman Brooks Nielsen provides the raspy vocals for this incredibly heartfelt album. From the get-go, the song “Someday” starts off the album with shimmering guitar riffs and smooth bass lines. This first track is a love letter to a significant other, promising better days and better meals.

“When tall boys turn into champagne,” Nielsen sings as the song continues to foresee how he wants to provide a better life for his loved one.

As a whole, the album is a perfect cohesion of love and lust.

With the track “One Million Lovers,” it’s hard not to see why this burden of love hangs so heavy on the heart of Nielsen. The song describes a love that possibly was lost or maybe a love that can’t be let go. Lead guitarist, Matt Taylor, provides upbeat strumming patterns with glimmering tones that will leave  you “…dreaming of her the whole day though.”

It’s hard to find a favorite song on this album, but one track that attention should be brought to is “Pet Shop Eyes.”  Nielsen’s charismatic attitude comes through in this song, explaining how he’s not buying into another girl’s advances due to the sad and blasé way about her. He compliments her looks but tells her to move along, even joking that her sadness has him on the verge tears.

All in all, if you’re looking for chill album to throw on in the background of your next party or if you’re looking for an album to make you feel at ease with your own personal strife, “Hung at Heart” is what you’re going to want play all the way through. The band has made an album that is danceable yet introspective at the same time. Released in 2013, “Hung at Heart” is reminiscent of late ’70s surf rock and blues.

Featured Image: “Hung at Heart” cover art, all rights reserved to The Growlers

Fleet Foxes is Back!

As the winter weather is fleeing and wildflowers are blooming, it’s only fitting to announce the following: Fleet Foxes has finally put out new music, after six years. Yes, in fact, is has been six years since the group’s last album, “Helplessness Blues,” came out. Listen to their new single, “Third of May / Odaigahara,” below.

If you are an avid listener of Fleet Foxes, you know that through the years their sound has definitely changed, along with lead singer Robin Pecknold’s voice. I was curious to find out if Fleet Foxes would go back to using a wide variety of instruments (“Blue Ridge Mountains“), as their newer sound features a really prominent yet simple lead guitar (“Helplessness Blues“). I think it’s safe to say that the group’s new song is a perfect mix of both old and new. It caters to the grandiose orchestration that many fans seem to love, but brings it back to a more peaceful, reflective sound towards the end.

What I loved most about Fleet Foxes’ previous music is that it seemed to be nature oriented. This song did not disappoint – it had plenty of nature metaphors. Throughout the nine minutes of this experimental track we’re being told the story of the relationship between Pecknold and another founding member of Fleet Foxes, Skyler Skjelset.

Fleet Foxes underwent member changes as well. For example, Joshua Tillman (also known as Father John Misty) was unable to join the band again, most likely because he’s doing his own solo tour. The group currently consists of Pecknold, Skjelset, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo and Morgan Henderson.

Here’s to going on road trips with new Fleet Foxes music at the top of our playlists! Their new album “Crack-Up” debuts June 16th and they will be at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on Sept. 23rd. I’ve been waiting six years to see them live, so I’ll be there (crying my eyes out)! Will you?

Ashley Bajet,
signing out.

Featured Image: Newsvibes.com

A Review of RAY BLK’s “Durt” Mini-Album

There’s thousands of lyrically straightforward pop and R&B songs saturating the roster of today’s new music, but it’s not exactly easy finding candid pop and R&B with good lyrics. Abstractions are frequently the direction that skilled songwriters prefer to lean into – they’re more interpretive, and therefore less susceptible to criticism – but at times, metaphors and symbolic imagery aren’t of any immediate use. At times, what we’re looking for are answers or content that resonates with us, plain and simple. But as history’s most horribly-written music has demonstrated, not all songwriters can balance poetry with straightforwardness, and it’s that lyrical disparity that makes us cringe and say “even I can do better,” as we’re driving alone in our cars, for once concentrating on a song’s words.

Thankfully, we have artists like RAY BLK, whose mini-album (aka a longish EP) Durt is a 25-minute representation of creative candor. Hailing from south London, RAY BLK got an early start on songwriting – she began at 14 – and today, the 23-year-old R&B singer is offering us what could be labeled as raw, artful ‘big sister’ storytelling, comparable to other young Londoners on the rise, like the soulful Jorija Smith. Those familiar with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill will notice the thematic similarities between Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Ray’s short, yet clever “Hunny,” while the album’s title track, “Durt” is a lyrically grimmer, sexier version of Kandi’s “Don’t Think I’m Not.” In collaborations with UK-based producer SG Lewis and English rapper Wretch 32, Ray explores ended relationships from positions of both melancholy and shamelessness, making for a diverse listening experience.

Durt was released on October 28, also available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. RAY BLK can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The featured image is promotional and belongs to its respective party.

Albums to look out for in 2017 (PART 2)

Last week on the KCR Blog, I posted a shortlist of albums scheduled for release in 2017. If you’re reading this on Thanksgiving Day, then your jeans are probably half-unbuttoned (or missing completely) as you moan about having eaten too much pumpkin pie. And if you’re tired of hearing your middle-aged cousins argue about the outcome of this year’s presidential election, then relieve yourself of some auditory pain and check out the older post, which you can find here.

As a note, these albums are listed at random.

TBA – Arcade Fire

Back in fall 2015, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler revealed the band was about “30 percent into a new record.” The album’s name (along with any other juicy details) remains a mystery, but after their last LP – a praised project that received too many accolades to count – Arcade Fire has set some pretty high expectations for itself. Reflektor (2013) was recognized to be ambitious, but not too ambitious – risky, but impressively so. It’s not common for a band to ceaselessly improve without faltering a few times, to share new music that always seems to outshines its previous offerings. But Arcade Fire are committed to go-getting, and whatever happens in 2017 (probably spring, they say) will probably continue the cycle of excellence. International, festival-loving fans will get the chance to see the Canadian indie rockers as they travel throughout Europe and the UK in June 2017.


TBA – Gorillaz

There’s two virtual bands that everyone knows about: Alvin and the Chipmunks and Gorillaz. However, the latter group is obviously more important, especially because its non-virtual members, British producers Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albram have reportedly completed another Gorillaz album, which, like Fleet Foxes, will be the band’s first in five years. The untitled 2017 release will follow The Fall, which was entirely recorded on an iPad during the group’s North American leg of the Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour. Receiving mixed reviews and no significant acclaim, the app-created record was still regarded to be Gorillaz-esque – unique and experimental. This time around, Hewlett and Albram are back to being in real studios, while iconic trip hop group Massive Attack and Chicago-based rapper Vic Mensa are rumored to feature on the forthcoming record.


TBA – Fleet Foxes

It’s been a half-decade since Seattle outfit Fleet Foxes released Helplessness Blues, a warm, feel-good folk record that defied the concept of sophomore slump. The album largely represented a new horizon for the band, whose eponymous first full-length lacked the talents of multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson, bassist Christian Wargo, and drummer and vocalist Joshua Tillman, all of whom were involved in the recording of Helplessness Blues. Aside from a line-up change, the group embraced a rougher sound, one that contrasted the pop of their debut, best demonstrated through tracks like “Winter White Hymnal.” One year after the acclaim of the sophomore release, things had changed yet again. Tillman decided to fully commit himself to soloing as Father John Misty (most recently putting out his I Love You, Honeybear LP last year), and in 2013, Fleet Foxes went on hiatus – until now, that is. Frontman Robin Pecknold has hinted that a new record is definitely in the making, and that it’s called Crack-Up, after an F. Scott Fitzgerald essay of the same name. Perhaps Crack-Up and all its supposedly craziness will be just as memorable as the writings of the Lost Generation member. Pecknold has also Instagrammed a previous of the new album’s artwork, but a release date hasn’t been announced.


Oczy Mlody – The Flaming Lips

In case you all didn’t know, The Flaming Lips have been really busy in the studio. Yes, they co-produced Miley Cyrus’ latest experiment, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, but they’ve also been working for themselves. January 13 will grace Flaming Lips fans with the band’s billionth – or fifteenth – album, Oczy Mlody (via Warner Bros.), which, judging by its title, will be 12 tracks of anticipated quirk. Already available for listening are “How??” and the record’s lead single, “The Castle.”