One fateful day, Geoff Hornby made a seismic shift in sound.
The Paper Bags singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist traded his acoustic guitar for an electric one and ventured into Delta-inspired blues.
“The current sound – bluesy garage rock – was something that had been brewing inside me for a long time, since the days of playing with The Johnny Timbers during and right out of high school. I wanted to make kind of a blues-infused Nirvana record. And I had grown tired of the acoustic troubadour act – it was time to get heavy,” said Hornby, who lives in Southgate.
Hornby intricately fuses heavy-duty blues with raw, underground garage rock sensibilities on his latest five-track EP, Shifting Metaphor, with drummer Jason O’Dea. The gritty Paper Bags project quickly seeps into the thematic crevices of acceptance, anticipation and appreciation across timeless, authentic tracks inspired by Hornby’s favorite authors.
“As far as those themes, I didn’t intentionally write about any of them. I try not to write with so much intention anymore. It’s all going to get interpreted differently in the end anyway. When I write a set of lyrics, I start with a basic line or idea and just see where it takes me. I feel like most of the time they write themselves and take on a life of their own,” he said.
“Three of the tracks on the album were inspired by novels I’d read in the last few years – “6,000 Stars” was inspired by Graphic: The Valley by Peter Hoffmeister, “Thank You” by Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, and “Butterflies” by Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov. And “Always The Same” is tinged with some concepts found in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche.”
Out now via all streaming platforms, Earth to Astronaut freely flows through indie rock mountains, art punk hills and garage jazz canyons to form a new fertile sound. Through these multi-genre peaks and valleys, atypical song structures and varied tempos, Alluvial Fans’ second album deeply explores the spaces between distorted, mosh-worthy cathartic freak-outs and quiet, sentimental and reflective moments.
“Sometimes your mind goes, and you find yourself jumping from place to place. And that’s sort of how my mind was working at the time and how it has been just kind of scattershot, and now I’m more aware of that. I wanted to represent that kind of fragmented or abstract thought in the lyrics, and in sum, I wanted to become more precise,” said Drew Bartosik, Alluvial Fans’ vocalist-guitarist.
“For the past two years, I’ve been practicing meditation and trying to become more self-aware and mindful of my thoughts and how I act in my environment. Things now are becoming more focused and cohesive for song ideas, and I wanted to highlight the vulnerability in that respect.”
Bartosik and his Alluvial Fans bandmates Gilad Granot (bass) and Ollie Elkus (drums) venture deep beneath the Earth to Astronaut surface to examine a juxtaposition of themes, including technology and nature, independence and interdependence, and reflection, solidarity, and devotion, over 10 expansive, metaphysical tracks.
From ‘Blowouts’ to ‘Droves’
Together, they weave an erratic, yet refreshing jazz-punk-garage-rock fusion on their latest single, “Blowout/Future Games,” which starts with light cymbal taps and delicate electric guitar and quickly erupts into a frantic musical cataclysm.
During the “Blowout” section, Bartosik eagerly shouts, “Yeah!/You never look me in the eyes these days/You’re so far gone/You’re so far” and memorably repeats, “Two for my friends/One for myself.” The first half also serves as a scintillating ode to the Detroit-Hamtramck indie rock scene.
Next, “Blowout” seamlessly segues to the mellow, thoughtful “Future Games” section with light drums, calm vocals and easygoing electric guitar strums. Bartosik quietly sings, “If the future’s playing games with me?/Who is the player playing games?/It’s just the future playing games with me/It’s just the future playing games.” Here, Alluvial Fans questions the uncertainty that lies ahead, especially in an unthinkable year like 2020.
A surge of emerging artists has become “immune” to the coronavirus.
That “immunity” arrives in the form of new music inspired by or released early to cope with the ongoing pandemic. This week, Quick Tiko and We Three combat the coronavirus on different ends of the creativity spectrum. Here are two freshly-pressed singles repeating in our ears, minds and hearts.
Quick Tiko – ‘Virus’
Quick Tiko, a new punk-garage rock duo comprised of The Sneeks’ Niko Matsamakis (guitars, vocals) and Timo Radwan (drums, bass, guitar), recently dropped a new raw, propulsive banger called “Virus.” It’s akin to early Kings of Leon, think “Aha Shake Heartbreak” and “Because of the Times” with extra spunk and rough edges.
A feisty two-minute track, “Virus” erupts into whirring, echoey guitars, pounding drums and driving bass as Matsamakis rowdily sings, “And now I’m petrified/La la la, don’t go outside/Whoa ho, I will stay inside/I ain’t going out to say goodbye/And now I’m super-duper high/Feelin’ kinda paranoid/Thinkin’ if I go outside, maybe I’m a catch a virus.”
“Stay inside people! Save lives! I was singing about exactly what was on my mind. I’d rather stay inside than possibly die. Timo and I wrote that song in one day, roughly a week ago. We wanted the recording to capture the energy and anxiety we’re feeling as best as possible,” Matsamakis said.
Luckily, Quick Tiko effectively practices social distancing with Matsamakis residing in metro Detroit and Radwan hunkering down in Toronto. The duo met at Michigan State University and wrote and recorded a ton of tracks when they were roommates back in 2016.
“Now we both just have all the time we need to chill in our respective home studios and record. For ‘Virus,’ I recorded some guitars and vocals, sent it to Timo, who then laid down the drums, bass and another guitar part. We’ve already been working on a couple more songs with this method of recording – hopefully to be released soon,” Matsamakis said.
Quick Tiko also plans to release a video for “Virus,” which will include separate quarantine video footage of Matsamakis and Radwan that’s compiled by artist and friend Colin Knighton.
We Three – ‘I Wanna Love Somebody’
We Three eloquently embraces the dark side of loneliness on their lighthearted new single, “I Wanna Love Somebody,” which dropped Friday via Palawan Productions.
The McMinnville, Ore., pop-rock sibling trio of Manny Humlie (guitar, vocals), Bethany Blanchard (bass, vocals) and Joshua Humlie (keys, drums, vocals) tackles the negative, troublesome thoughts that wreak havoc on lonely, anxious minds.
“I Wanna Love Somebody” allows We Three to proudly raise their sonic lightsabers in retaliation against incessant worries of lingering solitude and paralyzing self-doubt. It’s time to silence the “sith” of pessimism and welcome the “jedi” of optimism.
“This song is about the feeling in the pit of your stomach as you are going to bed where you feel like you are unworthy and never will be loved. The concept of ‘I think I’m gonna die alone’ is a feeling we have all had. It is a really dark thing, but we wanted to convey it in a lighthearted way that connects people when they are feeling like that,” said Manny Humlie, who originally appeared on “America’s Got Talent” with his siblings in 2018.
The track soars with vibrant electric guitars, quick finger snaps and bouncy synths that harmonize instantly with Manny Humlie’s quick, cheeky vocals, “I figured it out while I’m in the ground/There’s no kinda lining/Just laying around and counting the cracks/All in the ceiling/Just fooling around and breaking it down/To find a meaning.”
Deep beneath Jonathan Something’s vintage-inspired rock lies the complexity and beauty of the human psyche.
The Brooklyn, Conn., singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer explores the dichotomy between a person’s emotionally turbulent interior and their serene façade on his latest release, “Outlandish Poetica,” which dropped last week via Solitaire Recordings.
Throughout “Outlandish Poetica’s” honest, eclectic and thought-provoking nine tracks, Something, aka Jon Searles, purposefully mixes upbeat, electrified ‘60s-fueled music with ironic, contemplative lyrics. It’s a clever and humorous way to musically and lyrically characterize the growing conflict most people experience when they mask their true self.
“I think I’m sort of a self-deprecating human being as a whole, and I think it’s an interesting vibe. I think a lot of people take themselves a little too seriously when it comes to music,” Searles said. “I like stuff that I can get a good laugh out of, especially stuff with dry humor, and on the surface level, wouldn’t necessarily be funny, but when you take it into the context of how they’re saying and what they’re saying, it packs a little punch.”