Tragic Hero – The Gutter Daisies Tackle Public Perception of Mental Illness, Depression on ‘Celebrity Suicide’ Single

The Gutter Daisies call out society and the media for an ongoing obsession with public figures experiencing mental illness and depression on “Celebrity Suicide.”

With a raw, honest sound, The Gutter Daisies vigorously confront society’s deep fascination with a celebrity’s personal tragedy.

The Los Angeles pop-punk trio of Doug Rockwell (vocals, guitar), Miles Franco (bass) and Mike Diggs (drums) explodes with frustration about the public’s and the media’s treatment and exploitation of mental illness and depression on their latest single, “Celebrity Suicide.”

“We all grew up dealing with anxiety and depression. I feel like nowadays it’s even more common because of social media. It can be a great platform, but it’s also an extremely vain one that has created a false reality that’s unfortunately become an extension of actuality. It’s a place where everyone sees other people’s ‘best of section’ and then automatically assumes their own lives will never be as glamorous,” Rockwell said.

Celebrity Suicide” opens with deep-tone, grungy guitars and quickly transforms into a rage-filled power protest as Rockwell angrily sings, “I wanna be like my idols/All fucked up in the brain/I could see it play out/Won’t play my songs while I’m around/Unless my life goes down the drain.”

“The same goes for the media. Paparazzi look for people’s weakest moments so they can sell that to media outlets so they can then bring in ratings. It’s all about making a fortune and not so much about the misfortune. ‘Celebrity Suicide’ is a song about just that with some sarcasm sprinkled on the wound,” Rockwell said.

Celebrity Suicide” is the first new track The Gutter Daisies have released since covering The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” in 2018. Their energetic banger of a cover nicely pays tribute to the legendary hip-hop and rap-rock trio’s 1994 classic.

“We were looking for a song to cover that everyone would know no matter who they were, but we didn’t want it to be something you’d hear a run-of-the-mill cover band playing at a local bar,” Rockwell said. “We also wanted it to represent us as a band. ‘Sabotage’ is pretty punk rock, and as soon as it was suggested, we knew we could make it our own without disrupting what the original song had already accomplished.”

Continue reading “Tragic Hero – The Gutter Daisies Tackle Public Perception of Mental Illness, Depression on ‘Celebrity Suicide’ Single”

Here Comes the Sun – Hello Forever Radiates Broad Spectrum of Sounds on ‘Whatever It Is’ Debut Album

Hello Forever emits an eclectic mix of sounds of their full length debut, “Whatever It Is,” out Friday.

Hello Forever brings eternal sunshine to musical minds.

The Los Angeles art pop collective brilliantly emits abundant ‘60s-infused rays of doo-wop, jazz, skiffle, R&B, classical and baroque rock throughout their sparkling 12-track, full-length debut, “Whatever It Is,” which drops Friday.

“It’s about acceptance and equanimity, and it’s about making peace with yourself,” said Samuel Joseph, Hello Forever’s lead vocalist. “It wasn’t a choice or decision. I find that when I try too critically to control the music, it doesn’t work out. The things that came through on the songs came on their own.”

Along with bandmates Gabe Stout, Andy Jimenez, Joey Briggs, Molly Pease, Anand Darsie and Jaron Crespi, Joseph spent 200 days in bedrooms and borrowed studios throughout Santa Monica and Castaic, Calif., to create and record elaborate arrangements for a sunny collection of concise pop songs.

“Some songs I wrote in five minutes and recorded the entirety in a single session. Other songs took a little longer than that,” he said. “I was doing everything I could to serve the creative process. It was awesome having the time and places where I could write and record these songs.”

Hello Forever’s scintillating “Whatever It Is” adventure starts with “Some Faith,” a two-minute head trip filled with high-tone energetic guitars, lush mash-ups of Beatles and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies and sticky pop melodies – “I saw you in the light for the first time/Heaven cried ‘open’ and rained down on me/It was love, it was love/Why’d it terrify me?”

“‘Some Faith’ is about trusting your feelings or at least learning to trust your feelings when you care about somebody,” said Joseph about the band’s first single and video.

Another heartwarming track includes “Anywhere is Everywhere” with upbeat Vampire Weekend a capella-like vocals intertwined with soaring sha-la-las – “I would love anyone just to feel it/And I won’t question who I’m loving/I won’t question who I’m loving/I’ll just love, just love, just love.” The track’s video also features Hello Forever painting blank canvases while gathering in the bright California hills. Continue reading “Here Comes the Sun – Hello Forever Radiates Broad Spectrum of Sounds on ‘Whatever It Is’ Debut Album”

Folk Visionaries – Alice Howe, Freebo to Perform Friday at Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Cafe

Alice Howe will make her Black Crystal Cafe live debut Friday in Ann Arbor with Freebo. Photo by Robert M. Ring

With a new tour and full-length debut album, Alice Howe will bring her 2020 vision to Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Café Friday.

The Boston singer-songwriter will make her first live appearance at the intimate 48-seat music club with world-renowned bassist Freebo, who’s performed with Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

“Freebo and I have been working together for the last three years. He produced my last record, ‘Visions,’ which came out in May of last year, and he and I have been touring together a lot. For this show, we’re billing it as he will be my special guest, so he’ll do an opening set, and then he’ll back me on the bass,” said Howe about her set with Freebo for Friday’s sold-out show.

“It’s really fun because I get to sing harmonies on his songs, and it’s a really collaborative thing that we’ve put together that just works out really well for both of us. We’re excited to take that to Black Crystal.”

Howe forged a fateful partnership with Freebo nearly four years ago at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference. After meeting and chatting with him, she went through her record collection at home and discovered his musical collaborations with Raitt, Young and a host of other rock legends.

“That was a very cool moment for me where I realized, ‘Wow, I’ve met somebody,’ and we had a lot in common as far as our taste in music and production styles and singing styles and all this stuff was so in line with each other,” Howe said. “I grew up listening to the era of music that he really came up under, so for me to meet somebody from that time was like, ‘Oh my god, I felt like he was sent to me.’”

Having Musical ‘Visions’

Those similarities quickly led Howe to enlist Freebo as her musical mentor, collaborator and producer for “Visions,” a 10-track, introspective folk-blues expedition filled with striking originals and smashing covers from Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Taj Mahal and Bob Dylan. It’s a gorgeous extension of her 2017 debut folk EP, “You’ve Been Away So Long.”

For “Visions,” Howe relocated from Boston to Bakersfield, Calif., to record her full-length debut with Freebo, Fuzzbee Morse (electric guitar), John “JT” Thomas (keys) and John Molo (percussion). In fact, her creative expedition begins with the nature-inspired “Twilight” and includes a much-needed Michigan winter sonic escape to a serene world dotted with dirt roads, sunlight, ocean and trees.

Continue reading “Folk Visionaries – Alice Howe, Freebo to Perform Friday at Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Cafe”

Guiding Light – Mason Summit Illuminates Dark Wintry Days with Latest ‘Round January’ Single

Mason Summit will release his fifth album, “Negative Space,” on April 3. Photo by Spencer Shapeero

Mason Summit brilliantly shines on the darkest January days.

The Los Angeles indie folk rock singer-songwriter thaws the winter blues with his latest magical single, “‘Round January,” which drops today via all streaming platforms.

Summit’s track fuses sorrowful acoustic guitar strums and delicate drum taps with vibrant electric and slide guitars – “I hope one day I can tell you this won’t last/And be right/Cuz I know how you get when the sun sets early/But there’s a better way/There must be surely/But maybe you’ll make it out alive/Maybe you’ll just survive.” It’s also ideally suited for a fruitful collaboration with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Nels Cline.

“‘Round January” single artwork – Cover by Spencer Shapeero

In a sense, Summit’s exquisite combination of acoustic, electric and slide guitars represent the warring emotional factions within us. Deep inside, there’s a hope that wants burst through, but the darkness fights back with a vengeance.

“It’s specifically the month my dad died, and it’s also when I introduce the song now, and what makes it more broadly applicable to different people’s lives is seasonal depression. I probably experienced that unknowingly since before my dad died, you know the melancholy of those months, especially like the line, ‘when the sun sets early,’” said Summit, who also struggles with the lack of daylight in winter.

“It was just instant depression for me. It made me tired all the time, and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I don’t have it as bad as a lot of people, but it definitely influences my mood in a disproportionate way.”

Two years ago, Summit penned “‘Round January” as a response to a songwriting class prompt at the University of Southern California (USC).  The prompt required students to write a song to their eighth-grade selves.

“And that was a week when a lot of people brought in some heavy stuff,” said Summit, a songwriting senior who will graduate in May. “It was just so provocative, and so I was thinking back to eighth grade, and middle school in general is when people tend to be struggling and trying to find out who they are.”

For Summit, the track also advocates the importance of therapy in tackling seasonal depression and other mental health challenges. He came from a family that believed in its long-term healing power.

“When I got to school, I met a lot of people who didn’t come from that and ended up having a lot of undiagnosed issues. They just didn’t know how to deal with it, and it took them so long to have the courage to go to therapy or go to a psychiatrist and start treating their illness with therapy and medication,” Summit said. “Whereas I had already started to sort that out by that time, there were actually specific people in my life I was writing it for as well as myself.”

Continue reading “Guiding Light – Mason Summit Illuminates Dark Wintry Days with Latest ‘Round January’ Single”

Power Chord – Ania Shreds Big and Bold in New ‘Doors Close’ Video

Ania studies guitar at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

In her latest video, Ania shreds her way through the streets and stages of Los Angeles.

The heavy metal singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso released a gritty new video today for “Doors Close,” a 4.5-minute banger filled with fast alternate picking and arpeggios against a raw bassline and driving drumbeat.

“We wanted to show a modern rock band playing, and we went around LA and filmed in public places and highlighted the rock-grunge scene,” said Ania, a University of Southern California (USC) guitar student. “We also filmed some of it at USC in our songwriting theater where we have a tiny stage and wanted to showcase that we can play instruments, have fun and rock out.”

Ania eloquently demonstrates her electric guitar chops alongside USC classmate and drummer Megan Adcock on stage while simultaneously wandering the nighttime streets and sitting in front of a rainbow-colored graffiti wall. Bassist Carson Rhode also plays on the track, but isn’t featured in the video.

While the “Doors Close” video artistically captures dingy LA nightlife, the single politically tackles the complications of Catholicism in Ania’s native Poland.

“I just wanted to write a song that changed the key signature, and it’s funny because the song is about Adam and Eve and how the whole Catholic thing is very weird,” Ania said. “We grow up, and we’re like, ‘Wow, religion is just kind of fake,’ and everyone has a different perspective.”

Ania developed her own perspective about religion and music after moving from Koszalin, Poland to Chicago with her mother at age 15. While growing up near the Baltic Sea, she watched Polish MTV and longed to play electric guitar.

“I didn’t play instruments until I moved to the States because where I come from in Poland we never had music schools,” Ania said. “It would be impossible to play electric guitar or be in a rock band. There was one music school, and all the kids that went there had been trained since they were four years old.”

Continue reading “Power Chord – Ania Shreds Big and Bold in New ‘Doors Close’ Video”

Favorite Worst Enemy – Grass Bat Tackles Inner Demons on Latest Synth Pop Single

Grass Bat’s Noel Herbert has released three synth pop singles in 2019.

For Grass Bat, the biggest victory includes defeating the powerful Demogorgon lingering within his own version of the Upside Down.

The Los Angeles synth pop singer-songwriter obliterates his inner demons on his latest infectious ‘80s-inspired single, “Favorite Worst Enemy,” or “FWE,” which dropped Oct. 25.

The track features soaring synths mixed with echoey vocals as Grass Bat prepares for an epic 3.5-minute battle of the mind – “It’s rushing through my blood like you’re my only friend/My heart’s beating fast like you’re the only one/You’re the only one/I know you’re my favorite worst enemy.”

“I felt like I was holding on to these demons, and I was dealing with depression. It’s a lot of what I’m talking about in the song, and I don’t know if I knew that upon writing it,” said Noel Herbert, aka Grass Bat. “After listening to it and realizing this is what was going on in my head at the time, I was holding on to things I should be able to let go. The only times I felt free from it was going out and dancing and getting my head out of the negative space.”

Influenced by Detroit techno and new wave, synth pop icons The Cure and Depeche Mode, “Favorite Worst Enemy” serves as a cathartic mechanism for tackling personal struggles and eliminating the stigma of mental health.

“This is something I haven’t been talking about. I haven’t been open until very recently. I’m going through avenues like therapy, and I just want people to know this is a normal thing,” said Herbert, who relocated to Los Angeles last year after growing up in metro Detroit. “It’s super important that I feel like I let not just my audience know, but as many people as possible who are dealing with this kind of stuff.”

Continue reading “Favorite Worst Enemy – Grass Bat Tackles Inner Demons on Latest Synth Pop Single”

Bullish Pop – Tauri Grabs Musical Experimentation by the Horns on ‘Time 2 Kill’

Los Angeles’ Tauri delivers an experimental fusion of indie pop and R&B on her latest single, “Time 2 Kill.”

With deep synths, quirky lyrics and funky basslines, Tauri hits an indie pop bullseye on her latest single, “Time 2 Kill.”

The 3.5-minute single eloquently weaves accessible elements of indie pop and R&B with avant-garde electronic rock to forge a growing experimental sound emanating from the West Coast.

It’s akin to combining the mainstream appeal of Lorde with the progressive, industrial sounds of Muse and Nine Inch Nails. Throughout “Time to 2 Kill,” Tauri creates a forward-thinking track devoid of pretense.

“We weren’t afraid to get really weird with this one, and a lot of people are responding really well to it,” said Nicole Orlowski, aka Tauri, who co-wrote the track with Alex Monasterio and Liz Gavillet. “This only encourages us to be super weird.”

Weirdness does run rampant on “Time 2 Kill,” but in a refreshingly lyrical way. The track opens with catchy lyrics – “Pen names/Switch blades/Turn real fast/But you’re driving in the slow lane” – and even references an “Easy Bake Oven.”

“It was kind of nightmare to put together actually because we were trying to put it out a lot faster than it ended up happening. We all sat down and spitballed it, and it came from this loose concept of a love story about a trust fund kid,” Monasterio said. “The idea behind the ‘Easy Bake Oven’ lyric relates to somebody trying to get something without actually doing the proper grownup work for it.”

“Time 2 Kill” also features vocals inspired by Bikini Kill and a heavy industrial synth section, which cleverly anchors the two indie pop sections on both sides.

“For such a period of time, we thought the song wasn’t going to function based on how our previous singles had done,” Monasterio said. “They have their moments definitely, but they’re much more contained. They have their tangents, but they don’t necessarily say ‘fuck it’ quite as much.”

Continue reading “Bullish Pop – Tauri Grabs Musical Experimentation by the Horns on ‘Time 2 Kill’”