Playlist: Verst Share Their Influences

Verst took some time to make up a playlist of their influences and why they picked each song. They released David Slain in November 2017. The album brings a nice blend of indie and space rock. You’ll definitely want to check it out if you’re looking for some laid-back, but rock driven music to listen to. Check out the playlist and the album below.

The Stooges – “Search and Destroy” 

This song is here for James Williamson’s guitar sound, for the full throttle mode and “fuck you” attitude of his delivery. When making David Slain with a Les Paul Custom and Marshall amp, I wanted very much to get a guitar sound as overwhelming and snarly as this. The way the leads come in and push everything out of the way, their abrupt exits. That is rock and roll.

Echo & the Bunnymen – “Show of Strength”

It’s difficult to pull one song from their catalog, but this one has everything I love about them. The dark cold war menace, Will Sergeant’s extremely cool Fender tones, the angular, arty simplicity and the way those guitar notes slowly bloom into feedback in the ending. And Ian’s voice, holy shit. I saw them many times back in the day, and I can say that NO ONE pushes a PA system like Ian did back in the day. His sound was just towering.

David Bowie – “Joe the Lion”

The Berlin era Bowie and Iggy stuff is at the very top of my list, always. The obviously volcanic eruption of creativity and innovation, the coldness and sense of place. This track is art rock at its best, replete with Fripp’s ever-violent playing, Bowie’s oblique and dystopic lyrics, his over the top vocal delivery that’s so typical of this era. A track like this reminds me not to try to be pretty or sensical. Fuck all that. Nail me to my car!

Judas Priest – “Dissident Aggressor”

This is their most arty track. The high vocal dubs are just insane. There is just zero bullshit at all in those menacing riffs, and the drumming is so propulsive. It has moments and corners. God, it’s good.

Queens of the Stone Age – “How to Handle a Rope”

This is another band with a vast catalog of bitchin tracks, so this is just an example. Their pummeling robotics, croony yet emotionally unavailable vocals, and darkly bristling guitar tones are a constant touchstone. We don’t play like this or make these sounds, really, but it’s a constant source of inspiration.

Slayer – “Jesus Saves”

This is my favorite track from my favorite Slayer album. I love the sections it has, and the fact that it starts “slow” by Slayer standards. When I hear it in my car, it makes me want to punch my dashboard. We aren’t a metal band, but I’m a metal fan. Usually ur-metal, but Slayer is an exception. I admire their purity of vision.

Black Flag – “Depression”

This tune is a hardcore masterpiece, especially the live version from The Decline of Western Civilization. There’s this little hitch in Ginn’s riff that just levers the whole song like a fucking trebuchet. Do you hear it? You can tell that the impulse behind it is pure childhood tantrum. It’s the same impulse that leads one to vandalize shit. Only a boy could make that kind of thing up. I’d love to sound this awake, is how I’d describe it.

Queen – “Dead on Time”

Here are some arty prog dudes playing their uniquely fruity brand of speed metal! Like all their fast ones, this track is so viciously happy and ADD. Sometimes I realize that all we’re doing with a tune is verse chorus verse chorus big ending, with all the same number of repeats of everything. Queen is the opposite of that. They deliberately subvert structure and repetition, so they remind me to tweak things. And then there’s the heavy-handed, hyperactive mixing. All of a sudden Brian May’s guitar pushes everything out of the way. There are no rules in rock, and these guys prove it.

Pavement – “Baptiss Blacktick”

What glee there is in a tossed-off song like this. The first couple Pavement albums were full of these blithely written, casually executed gems. But Malkmus was on fire and he just couldn’t miss. This song is like flaming snot, so droll and smart in a stupid way that doesn’t even study but gets an A anyway.

Slowdive – “Erik’s Song”

How many times can I try to approximate the feeling of this track? I think I try on every album. But there’s nothing like the original. It’s probably just new age music, but the parallax of sounds and melancholic mood are so cool. I could stare at a grey sky and listen to this for hours.

PJ Harvey – “50 foot Queenie”

This song kicks such major ass in so many ways. I loved how cold and violent she was on Rid of Me. And the obviously live sound of it. The lyrics are just crass and menacing. But funny! So good.

Liz Phair – “Flower”

This is the track that changed my world when I first heard it. And to this day, it reminds me to be real and to be myself. And to say shocking stuff when I can.

SoCal Spotlight: Glaare

Photo Credit: Nedda Afsari

Glaare took some time to answer our questions for our SoCal Spotlight. The band released To Deaf And Day in October 2017, which you can check out on Bandcamp. They’ll be playing a show at the Resident on January 17. Grab tickets for the show here and check out the feature below.

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
When the band formed: Late 2012
Members: Rex Elle (live bass/synth), Cameron Carlin (guitars, programming), Brandon Pierce (drums, programming), Rachael Pierce (vocals, merch-maker extraordinaire)

When did you first know you wanted to be in a band?

Sometime between The Downward Spiral and Antichrist Superstar.

How did the current lineup come to be?

Misery loves company.

With all the little pockets of music scenes in SoCal, how do you go about checking out the local scene and finding new bands to listen to or even perform with?

I can’t say that I actively seek out new bands. They seem to appear when they’re supposed to.

What’s your favorite thing about the SoCal scene? What’s one thing you wish you could change about it?

Southern California/Los Angeles is home to a lot of immensely talented people, some of which I get to call friends. This is something I try to remember when I’m on the hate side of my love/hate relationship with this part of the world. That being said, we need more venues and I wish the sun would go out.

There’s no doubt that this is a crowded place. So do you ever find it difficult to build up even just a solid local following? How does the band go about doing that?

We’ve been very lucky to have friends and family that have supported us from day one. A lot of blood and tears were put into this and I don’t think that goes unnoticed. Don’t play a show if you’re not going to try and shake people up a bit.

How do you handle the band’s social media presence? Where can the readers follow you?

@glaaremusic

Do you have a favorite SoCal spot to play? What makes it your favorite?

Zebulon is a fantastic, newer venue. I was thoroughly impressed with the sound, both onstage and off, and their fine selection of snacks.

What is the band working on right now?

Not losing our minds while preparing for tour and remembering to drink lots of water.

Review: Lizzy Farrall – All I Said Was Never Heard

Lizzy Farrall

Lizzy Farrall’s All I Said Was Never Heard fits right in with the likes of Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. The EP is intensely personal in the same way. Plus, Farrall’s voice is a refreshing one to hear. “Broken Toy” is fairly stripped down, which puts a huge focus on the vocals. The song is one about being alone and trying to get over someone. “I’ll forever be that broken toy on your shelf” is a powerful line. A broken toy on someone’s shelf is usually there because there’s some sentimental value to it, but maybe it’s not quite worth trying to fix.

“Pack Of Wolves” has more meat to the music, but it’s not overbearing. The drums are pretty sparse, never taking over in any sort of flashy way. While the music sounds simple, the lyrics are the more complex part of the songs. In this song, Farrall sings of being a lone wolf, so there’s a theme of being alone or feeling that way, at least.

The next two songs, “Better With” and “Better Off,” tie into each other nicely. At the start of “Better With,” the guitars are more driven and there’s a prominent bass line once she starts singing. Farrall’s voice meshes well whether it’s a full band behind her or something more stripped down. For such a quick listen (the EP is about 17 minutes), she packs in a good variety of songs. “Hollow Friends” closes out the EP with a similar vibe that “Broken Toy” started it with.

Lizzy Farrall is an artist everyone should at least give a listen to. She’s a skilled songwriter who deserves the attention. All I Said Was Never Heard is solid all the way through and is an EP I’ll keep returning to. If you’re interested (and I hope you are), you can grab yourself a copy via Amazon.

Monday Musings: Whatever A Spider Can

I started a new “job” today as editor of Whatever A Spider Can. I’m only putting that in quotations because it’s paid based on page views instead of an actual income and it’s fun, so it hasn’t felt like much of a job on day one. However, I’m still quite excited about it because now I get to do a ton of writing about Spider-Man and everything in that universe. Here are a couple of the articles I’ve posted today to kick off the relaunch of the site.

Brian Michael Bendis finished his run on Spider-Man

Brian Michael Bendis started writing Spider-Man comics back in 2000 with his long run on Ultimate Spider-Man. The series ran until 2009 and is a fantastic read. He’s also known for being the co-creator of Miles Morales, who has become quite the fan favorite. His work in the Spider-Verse didn’t end there, though. He also wrote Spider-Woman in 2009, which was a seven issue mini-series.

If you haven’t read any of his Spider-Man work, you’re definitely missing out.

Spider-Man’s next live action appearance and what to expect

In the trailer, Peter has the hair on his arm stand up when he senses trouble. Spider-sense is one of Peter’s abilities that gives him an advantage most heroes don’t have. In the comics, it’s been portrayed a variety of ways. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter wasn’t totally confident in his abilities and how to handle himself. Avengers: Infinity Warshows that he’ll continue to learn more about his powers.

Even though Homecoming came out in 2017, I’m already looking forward to what role Spider-Man will play in Avengers: Infinity War. 

You can find all previous editions of Monday Musings here.

Review: Toy Cars – Paint Brain

Toy Cars - Paint Brain

Toy Cars pack a lot of themselves into Paint Brain in just over half an hour. The albums starts with the title track and it sets the tone for the rest of the album. Each song tells a personal story and you can’t help but get invested in what the band is telling you. It’s as if you were just sitting around and getting to know them through various stories. When songs get that personal, it makes them enjoyable to listen to.

The band also has a consistent sound throughout the album. Even when a song slows down a bit, it gives off the same vibe that the faster songs do. The guitars certainly stand out in Paint Brain. In a song like “Swim,” the guitar is much quieter when the song starts, but about a minute in, it starts to hit a little harder. Plus, the full band fills out the song more. There’s a nice balance of knowing when to keep things simple with just the guitar and vocals and when to bring in the rest of the band. Instead of just having the song be one or the other, they make both work without making it feel like a totally different song.

The dynamics of the record make it a constant joy to listen to. You can tell that the band invested time into each of the songs. “Jimmy & Quinn” is an instrumental track that works as a nice bridge from “Erie” to “Tread.” It’s a relaxing little moment before going into the final two tracks.

I’ve been recommending Toy Cars to people quite a bit lately and it’s for a reason. This album is wonderful to listen to. With my podcast listening habits, I don’t come back to albums quite as often as I’d like, but I’ve already done so with this one. Give it a listen and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Playlist: One Flew West Share Songs That Shaped Their Sound

One Flew West

One Flew West picked out some songs from bands that influenced their sound. You can check out the playlist and why they picked each song below.

Frank Turner – “I Still Believe”

We’ve listened to Frank Turner for as long as we’ve been playing together, and his style has obviously rubbed off on us. His passion for rock and punk music helped shaped our perception of what music means to us as an artist.

Social Distortion – “Story of My Life”

This song symbolizes growing up with each other while being in the band, and how we’ve aged while being in a band.

Mumford and Sons – “Little Lion Man”

The first performances we ever had as a band were on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado.  We would street perform for tips, and this was one of the earliest songs we played as a group.  Mumford and Sons were a band that had an enormous impact on us when we formed our first band in high school.

Green Day – “Longview”

Like many other people, Green Day was the first punk band that really made an impression on us as kids.  Their use of simple song structure and loud choruses are something we take influence from.

The Killers – “Mr. Brightside”

The Killers are the band that we are influenced by in terms of melody and voice.  When listening to the Killers, its clear that Linden sounds a lot like Brandon Flowers.

The Spill Canvas – “All Over You”

This song gets an audience to bounce better than any song we’ve ever seen, and we’ve used this song as an inspiration when writing high energy songs.  We’ve also played with The Spill Canvas several times, and respect them a ton.

Tenacious D – “Kielbasa”

We have an incredibly moronic sense of humor, and we’ve written stupid songs like this for years, (although they never see the light of day).  We’ve also been known to cover Tenacious D at shows every once in a while.

Weezer – “My Name Is Jonas”

As much as we don’t like to admit it, Guitar Hero had a pretty big influence on us as middle schoolers in the mid 2000’s.  The incorporation of acoustic guitar into distorted alternative music is also something that we use in our own music.

blink-182 – “What’s My Age Again?”

This song could have been literally any song of off “Enema of the State,” but this one resonates with us a bit more.  In high school, we probably listened to this album every day.  Even today, we still listen to it constantly in the van.

Descendents – “Hope”

Easily one of the most important punk bands of all time, Descendants have had a huge impression on us.  We recorded our last album at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, which is owned and operated by Bill Stevenson (drums, primary songwriter).  It’s pretty much impossible to record in that studio, and not be inspired by all the classic punk records hanging on the walls. You can really hear it on Trial and Error, coming January 25th, 2018.

Book Review: Smoke City by Keith Rosson

Smoke City

Last year, Keith Rosson released The Mercy of the Tide. I dove into the book not knowing what to expect since he was an author I hadn’t read before. There’s always that moment when you try something new and you aren’t sure how it will go. However, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the book. When word got out that he had a new book, Smoke City, on the way, I knew instantly that it would be something I wanted to read.

Smoke City tells a tale of three strangers hitting the road together, traveling from Oregon down to Los Angeles, CA. Marvin Deitz is a complex character who has so much history to him that you never stop learning something new as you read through the book. Mike Vale is a bit more rough around the edges when we first meet him, but things smooth out along the way. Casper makes himself the third man on the road trip by hiding in the van before Mike and Marvin make it out of Oregon.

The three are an unlikely group, but that’s what makes the story so compelling. One wouldn’t think that a story that largely involves being stuck in a vehicle would be exciting, but the three different personalities and everything they see along the way makes it work. Not to mention, the “smokes” that are causing chaos in California play an interesting role.

What Rosson does is he makes you care about these guys who aren’t the best guys in the world, but they also aren’t the worst. Mike has so many problems piling up that it’s hard not to feel bad for him even if he had control over at least some of those problems. He writes these complex characters in a way that doesn’t feel dense. You aren’t getting everything all at once. Instead, things are coming piece by piece, just as if you were in the van with them and getting to know them. It’s a clever way to rope you in.

Smoke City is a journey. Three people who feel like they’ve hit rock bottom or just need a fresh start make a trip that changes all of their lives. Additionally, Marvin is a reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, which provides a separate storyline detailed in his journals. He doesn’t reveal why exactly he’s in LA until he tries explaining it to Casper at one of the studio parking lots. There’s always this anticipation with Marvin because he’s aware early on that he’s only supposed to have a limited time to live. The book keeps you on your toes and it all pays off in the end. This is a satisfying read, so be sure to check it out.

Smoke City is out on January 23, 2018 and you can grab a copy on Amazon.