Indie Roundup (#CancelTheJunos Edition) | 19 Songs To Maximize Your Midweek

Wrap up your Wednesday with Horseneck, Royal Volts, Kool Keith and plenty more.


Horseneck push buttons, Royal Volts keep their head down, Kool Keith and Thetan share their dreams, Mayflower Madame swallow and more in today’s Roundup. So, let’s take stock, shall we? SXSW: Cancelled. Coachella: Postponed. Pearl Jam: Staying home. Countless other tours and shows: Axed. Juno Awards: No problem enabling a pandemic and endangering people as long as they get paid. Fucking shameful — but about what you’d expect from CARAS. #CancelTheJunos

1 | Horseneck | Matt Lauer’s Secret Button

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Post-hardcore/sludge collective Horseneck is pleased to unveil the official new video for Matt Lauer’s Secret Button. The track comes off the band’s Fever Dream full-length, self-released late last month. Notes guitarist Anthony Paganelli, “The song was written pretty fast. We wrote the riff and outline for the songs in a couple hours. [Drummer] Jess [Gowrie] had an idea for lyrics and vocals so she wrote the lyrics to this song in basically one night. We all definitely feel like this is one of our harder headbangers. Lyrically, it’s about someone who leaves a path of careless destruction and pays for it in the end. Then there is the realization that you don’t always get a second chance, then the bad person is atoning for their sins in the end… someone who’s made some terrible life choices and has reached the end of their life and looks back in regret. The name of the song was something that we saw on the news, obviously.”

2 | The Royal Volts | Head Down

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Nova Scotian rock ‘n’ roll underdogs The Royal Volts leave bruises with their incendiary second recording Hard Landings (March 13). Containing six highly-concentrated tracks — including the lilting working-class rant Head DownHard Landings runs the gauntlet of rock ‘n’ roll idioms, flawlessly shifting between bluesy howlers (Bad Thing), incidious earthmovers (Shake), drag-strip boogies (King of the Road) and epic electric rave-ups (I Feel You and H.E.A.V.Y.). Produced by Jon Landry (The Stanfields, The Town Heroes) and mixed by Darren Van Niekerk (Matt Mays, Deep Dark Woods), Hard Landings is a perfect picture of a young rock band at its most dangerous — hungry and with nothing to lose.”

3 | Kool Keith x Thetan | Bad Dreams

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Legendary Bronx, New York City-based rapper Kool Keith and Nashville powerviolence duo Thetan present their collaborative Space Goretex LP, approaching release on April 10. The album features guest appearances from members of Gwar, Three 6 Mafia, Dwarves, Lost Dog Street Band, and more, and this week, a tripped-out visualizer video for the track Bad Dreams has premiered. Kool Keith states with the new single, “Bad Dreams is the perfect split personality alias collision song.” Offers Thetan’s Dan Emery, “This song haunted me throughout production. I kept coming back to it adding different things. Extra layers, weird sounds, all that. Every time I would end up stripping it back down to the fundamentals. I did this probably seven or eight times.”

4 | Mayflower Madame | Swallow

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Psychedelic post-punk outfit Mayflower Madame present their darkly sinister single Swallow, the second taste of their new album Prepared for a Nightmare, a dark and distinctive blend of post-punk, shoegaze and psychedelia. The accompanying video for Swallow was created to visualize the mood of the song, using both symbolic images and color effects. It was directed by Astrid Serck and filmed in Oslo and Niagara Falls. “Musically, we would describe Swallow as a combination of shady psych-pop and shoegaze with elements of surf and post-punk. Those who are already familiar with our previous work might say it shows a new, more pop-oriented side of the band, but still definitely recognizable as Mayflower Madame,” says frontman Trond Fagernes. “Swallow is a love song – it’s about the dependence and fragility one might feel in a relationship – involving both a fear of and a desire for submission.”

5 | Live Well | Classes

THE PRESS RELEASE: “New York emo-rockers Live Well have just dropped a new video for Classes. The song appears on the band’s brand new 2-song EP Winter Jawn. Frontman Paul Masbad: “It would’ve been easy for us to stay home, However, we worked so hard on this tour. Just because SXSW is canceled doesn’t mean the city is just going to shut down. There are lots of gigs that have [been] canceled, but there are still other people wanting to celebrate, throw shows and bring people together. We’re going to be playing dates all around Texas, as well as the Midwest, South and so on. “The best we can do is just make sure we’re washing our hands and taking on the best infection prevention practices. Lots of vitamin C and being more aware.”

6 | Protomartyr | Processed By The Boys

THE PRESS RELEASE:Protomartyr announce their fifth album, Ultimate Success Today, out May 29. Ultimate Success Today continues to further expand the possibilities of what a Protomartyr album can sound like. Along with today’s album announcement, the band shares the video for their first single Processed By The Boys. “The re-release of our first album had me thinking about the passage of time and its ultimate conclusion,” says singer Joe Casey of Ultimate Success Today. “Listening to No Passion All Technique again, I could hear myself hoping for an introduction and a long future, but also being cognizant that it could be ‘one and done’ for us. So, when it came time to write Ultimate Success Today, I was reminded of that first urgency and how it was an inverse of my current grapple with how terribly ill I’ve been feeling lately. Was that sick feeling coloring how I felt about the state of the world or was it the other way around? This panic was freeing in a way. It allowed me to see our fifth album as a possible valediction of some confusingly loud five-act play.”

7 | Lou Canon | Ancient Chamber

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Following the success of her sophomore release, Suspicious, Lou Canon has continued to cultivate her distinct, noir-pop sound. Her May 29 album Audomatic Body is a collection of songs reflecting on the evolving nature of relationships; the struggle to stay together, the wax and wane of passion, the ways that sensuality can change as years go by, an ode to the human experience. Audomatic Body includes several of Canon’s friends and collaborators, including Ariel Engle of Broken Social Scene/La Force, Hayden, Tim Kingsbury of Arcade Fire and Brendan Reed of The Unicorns/Arcade Fire. Parts of Audomatic Body were recorded with Grammy-winning producer Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire, Timber Timbre, Basia Bulat) in Montreal, while others were made in home set-ups at a little cabin in the Russian River, up north in Grey County, in Prince Edward County and in Toronto. Check out the first single Ancient Chamber.”

8 | Tim Burgess | The Mall

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Having last month announced his new album I Love The New Sky, releasing May 22, Tim Burgess today shares a little charmer of a video for new single The Mall. Of the track Burgess says: “The mall is like a state of mind — everything and nothing is there. It induces a kind of torpor. Even the process of going between floors is assisted by moving staircases. Shop windows are hypnotic but you don’t have to take part in anything. Malls are a great leveller — class and status disappear. They are like a waking dream, an altered state. A kind of limbo. Plus they are handy if you need new shoes or a doughnut.”

9 | The Seshen | Wander

THE PRESS RELEASE: “San Francisco Bay Area band The Seshen has shared a new video for Wander from CYAN. The album is accompanied by a short film that will be released on April 1. The film conceptualizes a striking storyline comprised of four chapters, which proceed in the following song order: Wander, Dive, Faster Than Before and Don’t Answer. The short film begins with Wander, as singer-lyricist Lalin St. Juste stands alone on a beach. She closes her eyes and becomes transported to a different time and place, where she laughs and smiles with four other women. The Seshen is led by St. Juste and multi-talented bassist and producer Akiyoshi Ehara and features drummer Chris Thalmann, keyboard/synth player Mahesh Rao, percussionist Mirza Kopelman, and sequencer Kumar Butler. Together, they draw on a variety of inspirations, ranging from electronic to R&B, to craft their soulful, edgy, and transportive sound.”

10 | Matt Evans | Full Squid

THE PRESS RELEASE:New Topographics is an aqueous collection of drum driven, ambient adjacent, hypnotic soundscapes that radiate from a liminal zone between the physical and the digital. Following an impulse toward percussive abstraction, Matt Evans (Tigue, Bearthoven, Man Forever) collages the sounds of writing, typing, morse code and others — swirling sonic byproducts from our communication systems — with percussive improvisations and synthesized “creatures” to trace imagined landscapes in a sea of noise. Synthetics and acoustics cross currents, unifying rubbery harmonies, wandering melodies, and incidental noises into a dreamy cybernetic ecology.
Here’s what Matt says about his new single Full Squid: “The title refers to a state of being more than the cephalopod itself, a zoomorphic phrase for the experience of drumming at the precipice of presentness. Full Squid was born from a kind of personal meditation, a ‘spiritual’ performance practice that attempts to bend a typical sense of time through stream-of-consciousness playing pushed to the brink. It’s a drummy dive into a sound stream of crackling creatures, wiggly drones and globby ink-splatter harmonies, without coming up for air.”

11 | Darius | Leap of Faith

THE PRESS RELEASE:Leap of Faith is taken from Swiss Post-Hardcore/metal band Darius‘​ second album Voir, out April 17. About the song: “This song has been the first composed and the last recorded. The big ending riff was meant to be played on a bass. We decided that two basses instead of one could be fun and we also added some synths. This special setting put this song under a different light than the others, and that’s the reason why we postponed the recording to the very end. In a way, this tune became some sort of an ugly duckling. But when we finally jumped in it and realised that after this one it was over, we had to give everything we had.”

12 | Pavey Ark | Close Your Eyes And Think Of Nothing

THE PRESS RELEASE:Pavey Ark, the Hull-based band that have already played several major UK festivals: Glastonbury, Cornbury, and Bearded Theory, are set to release their debut album on March 20. The album intertwines reflections on internal and external life, with Thomas musing on the enormity of first-time fatherhood, dreams of escaping the rat race, the push and pull of relationships past and present, all while conveying a sense of tentative hope for the future. They’ve just shared the title track (itself a line from the Jam song Private Hell) that sees Thomas dreaming of “blissful ignorance.” Close Your Eyes and Think of Nothing recognises the difficult complexities of humanity, but finds hope, love, and beauty as the key to survival time and again.”

13 | Jarrod Dickenson | Ready The Horses

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Storytelling is something of a Texas tradition. Tall hats and even taller tales are woven into the fabric of The Lone Star State, and Waco native, now Nashville-based songwriter Jarrod Dickenson, can spin a yarn with the best of them. Known for his soulful vocals and ability to blend a variety of instruments and influences into one signature sound, Dickenson returns on May 22 with the release of his new album Ready The Horses. Today, he shares the first single, Way Past Midnight, and its accompanying animated music video, created by multi-faceted artist, director, and cinematographer Jefferson Elliott. As Dickenson’s personal album favorite, he describes the track’s dynamic layers as perfectly aligning in the studio. “This was one of those magical moments in the studio where everything just came together. It’s equal parts gospel and grease. It’s about late nights in seedy dive bars. The possibilities, the thrill, the chase… and the comedic reality of how those nights tend to end up,” Dickenson explains, “Recording this tune was pure, unadulterated joy.”

14 | RAC | Stuck On You (ft. Phil Good)

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Grammy-winning producer and songwriter André Allen Anjos, known as RAC, has announced the upcoming release of his new album Boy on May 8. He has also shared the first single from the record, Stuck On You (ft. Phil Good). “The core of the song felt so honest and relatable,” writes RAC. “No matter where you are in life, I think it rings true. Phil is so good at capturing big ideas in concise ways and I wanted the musical side to mirror that.”

15 | Charlotte Cornfield | Fruits Of My Labor

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Last month, celebrated songwriter Charlotte Cornfield announced a new four-song EP, In My Corner, which features two originals and covers by Lucinda Williams and Yo La Tengo. “The idea was to have some fun exploring rhythm and space in the studio without overthinking the little details that one tends to stew over while making a record,” says Cornfield. Today, she is sharing her cover of Lucinda WilliamsFruits Of My Labor. “When I first heard this song, I was so struck by the poetry of it,” says Cornfield. “Each verse is its own stanza, and the music just lifts the words to the fore. At first I just wanted memorize the lyrics, which was a beautiful exercise in and of itself, but I loved singing it so much that I started doing it at my live shows. It felt natural to record it. I feel like this song really represents where I’m at in life right now: resolved in some ways, moving on, just trying to enjoy it.”

16 | Oracle Sisters | Asc. Scorpio

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Parisian trio Oracle Sisters return with new single Asc. Scorpio, a swaying astral pop stomp of surrealist vignettes. Their first new music of 2020, Asc. Scorpio is a taste of their long-awaited debut EP due for release later this Spring. The idea of the song was born when Lewis (lead guitarist) was stung by a scorpion in Jamaica. The bite travelled back to Paris, along with the scorpion which he caught and smuggled through customs. Sat down with Chris (lead vocals) one afternoon over a drum machine, an acoustic guitar, the newly erected scorpion shrine and a sudden astrological epiphany, they got to writing Asc. Scorpio. Initially inspired by A Tribe Called Quest, they built upon the drum machine, layering their now signature three-part harmonies and reverb drenched guitars over the beats.”

17 | Sylo | Ginny

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Raised in Toronto, ON, Sylo (formerly Sylo Nozra) has a take on R&B inspired by his environment. He was born into a Korean family with religious roots. This inspired him to sing as a child in church services, leading him to learn several instruments at once. Sylo’s musical talents were further enhanced by his older sister who played ’90s R&B and hip-hop to full effect. Once he learned how to apply his inspirations onto his own productions, he became driven to write and perform his own songs. His new single Ginny is a smooth, groove-driven R&B track about the cycles of addiction.”

18 | Vincethealien | Rodeo Star

THE PRESS RELEASE:vincethealien is an outsider pretending to be on the inside. Desperately trying to understand people, love, sex and pain — while desperately needing to stop trying. His music is the record of his mission to find a planet, a people, or just a person, to connect to. Reminiscent of Kelela, Brockhampton, Solange, Thundercat, Sampha and Frank Ocean, with an adept focus on harmonies and vocal craft. Rodeo Star is the debut track from this independent artist. While it may come across as a lesson in lap dancing, there’s something about his vocals, as they ooze their way over the grimey-stripclub-stage of a track, make it… darker? sadder? sexier?”

19 | Vlad Holiday | Phonograph

THE PRESS RELEASE:Vlad Holiday shares the second single Phonograph, from his upcoming debut EP Fall Apart With Me. “Phonograph is about giving everything you have to a love that you know can’t last, which to me is everything in life that I love. It romanticizes the past but is very aware of it. I wanted the production to reflect that. The song revolves around an extremely dark guitar tone, sprinkled horn stabs, and a Phil Spector-esque percussion loop, recorded on tape and slowed down. I imagined the groove to feel very laid back but also quite uplifting in moments.”