Side Saddle

Last post was back in August. (!) Folks, I'm a teacher by day, blogger by whenever I have damn time from the job that pays the bills...

Indie rock seems to be taking a dive into the electronic sides of things lately. I can't complain, but there is never a substitute for actual instruments being played. Side Saddle create indie rock with an Americana twist. Their EP Young Professional came out in back July and this band should be on your radar for their musicianship, melodies, and subject matter. A good place to start is their epic track, "Legs for Days." Besides its intriguing title, this song encompasses the phrase "Wait for it," as it builds and builds to  a massive climax. It's a blistering break-up tune with lead singer Ian McGuinness calmly singing about the bitter end of a relationship by plainly saying "if you want to go, hit the g-damn road because staying here with me is not making you happy." 

While the lyrics will leave a red mark, the music sets a 'calm before the storm' with peaceful organ flourishes and slide guitar building to a chugging, reassuring climax with McGuinness finding resolve in another woman whose "legs go on for days." Side Saddle perfectly mix singer-songwriter aesthetics with indie Americana. Dive in to the beautifully shot "Legs for Days" video below and get lost in the story before trying other tracks on for size. 

Legs for Days-


Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

"Sing like your life depended on it." Someone must have told Nathaniel Rateliff that once, and he decided to do just that ever since. Music lovers will be forever grateful because Rateliff and his band, the Night Sweats, provide rollicking, propulsive soul music reminiscent of Otis Redding. Their sound may be a throwback, but its modern edge refreshingly lacks polish. It is this raw, devil-may-care attitude that runs through the tracks of their debut and made me an instant fan. 

When Rateliff sings about needing a drink with such emotion and abandon on stand-out track, "S.O.B.", I went looking through my liquor cabinet to help this man out. What may seem like a profane hook is in fact a desperate plea to ease the pain of a broken heart. 

Backing band The Night Sweats provide harmonies, handclaps, and horns that transport the listener to another period when actual instruments(!) were used to make music. Never before have I heard a band with such presence than The Night Sweats. Nathaniel Rateliff will not be to everyone's taste depending on how well you like the stylings of fellow throwback artists like Fitz & the Tantrums and Leon Bridges, but those comparisons should not deter anyone from experiencing the sheer force of nature that is Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. 



Color Palette

Modern and melodic-minded electro-rock band Color Palette provide a blast of synths reminiscent of The Killers at their very best. Lead singer Jay Nemeyer's vocals have a tendency to blend into the lush music to become a perfect compliment. This Washington D.C. based band so far only has a couple of songs to reach listeners' ears, "Seventeen" and the excellent "Heartless," with the latter providing a couplet that's the final nail in a relationship's coffin: "All our moves become so calculated/What's the sense in giving love it's not reciprocated?" 

Color Palette paints quite a sound with several musical influences to be heard. It will be nice to see what else these guys have up their sleeve. Look for their debut EP to come out early next month. 




Banjo seems to be winding down on its 15 minutes now that the granddaddy of the folk rock movement, Mumford & Sons, has gone electric. It's nice to know that there's still life left in it yet with Dillon Hodges aka Firekid. This Alabama native recently signed with Atlantic Records and is busy working on a full length LP set to release in August. He's released a live album with only 4 songs, but they're enough to know that this Kid will be, ahem, on fire. 

"Magic Mountain" begins with driving force amid a purposeful guitar line before becoming fully realized in its blast of a chorus with Hodges singing about the joy of your childhood memories. Hodges' vocals are distinctive with great range with a slight Phillip Phillips vibe going on. (Why Six Flags has not gotten ahold of this song for their promotions is beyond me. It's screaming to be heard en masse.)

Firekid displays a knack for the folk rock genre in the few songs I've heard, but something tells me we have only scratched the surface of what he has to offer. 

Magic Mountain- 



Long time gone...I've been digging.

Iceland has given us Bjork. (Thanks?) But Iceland has also now given us Kaleo. Upon first listen this band is quite a mixture. Going from the sensitivity of early Coldplay and the delicate vocals of Bon Iver to the ground stomping of Mumford & Sons all in one song. Lead singer JJ Juliusson breathlessly goes from his falsetto to gritty soul on the standout track "All the Pretty Girls." This song starts with a simple acoustic guitar and builds and builds to a powerhouse climax vocal with Juliusson practically pleading with a  lover to "lay me down." (Marcus Mumford would be proud of such passion.)

Check out their pure blues rock on "Broken Bones" and "Rock 'n' Roller" to get a sense of their more rollicking side. With a move to Austin to record some new material for an EP due later this year, Kaleo seem to be poised to make 2015 a banner year. Their single "All the Pretty Girls" is currently free on iTunes. 

All the Pretty Girls-

Rock N' Roller-


Young Braves

Releasing an EP, touring, and songwriting, on top of schoolwork leaves little room for my students to complain about having too much to do. The UK's Young Braves are juggling all of that and building buzz along the way. They released their self-titled debut EP last fall and it showcases a band with potential and the talent to back it up.

The single "For the Day" is propelled by lead vocalist Ollie Scott's knack for melody. With its shimmering guitars and songwriting maturity, "For the Day" is a nice yet unfulfilling first taste of the alt-rock band. I actually dug a little deeper and found much stronger tracks. "Youth" and "Long Time Coming" are more forceful and give a greater insight into what Young Braves are made of, with the latter finding Scott urging a change in his current relationship. ("We won't get that far living like we are.")

Young Braves have the skills to become a force to contend with and have much to say on their debut EP which is a reminder that sometimes youth can equal insight. 

For the Day-


Lawrence Trailer

Sometimes I'm in the mood for an "everything and the kitchen sink" type of production and other times, simple is best. Lawrence Trailer is the latter. Armed with an acoustic guitar and intricate melodies, Trailer is a seasoned singer-songwriter that should be on your radar. 

"Savannah" is particularly strong track (especially for this Georgia-raised guy). Trailer sings about giving up and heading to this "Georgian town" but decides to give love another final shot, "We brace for the bottom, while we face being alone." The vocals on this song are Trailer's strength, singing every note in a beautifully raw, heart-wrenching tone. 

It's on his new single, "Old Love" where he hits me in the feels however. Trailer shifts the tempo a little on this track and ratchets up the emotional heft. He wishes his about to be married sister and his brother (with whom very little is spoken but much is said) "old love." It's a very sweet sentiment especially since my baby sister is getting married later this year. Trailer does a fine job mining life's smallest moments and turning them into heartfelt journeys. 

Old Love-