Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Little More Dark with Tai Tai Alibi

Hey guys, it's great to be back! I've been searching for a while now for a new group whose sound captures what I think of when I hear the words alternative and grunge. I feel like I haven't been focusing on this genre as much as I have on others in the past couple months, and though I've written about some great metal and hard-rock groups, there's a certain alienated twinge missing from the mix.
Though it's not 1992 anymore and many would argue that the whole alienated grunge thing was over the top, and just hyped to sell more albums after the Seattle explosion, the term nonetheless expresses a certain reserved feeling and detachment that still resonates with me, if not with many others too.
So it is on an excited note that I share with you all this group, Tai Tai Alibi, an alternative-grunge foursome from Hong Kong, China. Composed of lead vocalist/guitarist Tim Hills, lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Collins, bassist/vocalist Rafe D'Aquino, and drummer Matt Cartwright, Tai Tai Alibi are a dark and brooding force to be reckoned with. With a particular sound and swagger that I haven't seen in a while, Tai Tai Alibi's songs are simple, melodic, hardcore, and almost romantic in their innate alienation. Maybe that's what these guys were going for when they wrote these tunes, maybe not. That's just what I get from the music when I listen to it, and it's a feeling I really dig.
I see that these guys only have a few plays in their Myspace, and that's definitely something that confuses me. Even if they were to break up and move on to new projects tomorrow, I would most definitely want these songs on my iPod. There's just something that's excellent about them. But enough of this, I'll just pick from the lot and let you guys do the rest.
"A Little More Empty" is a song that has the perfect intro for this entire setlist. A song of a grunge nature with a metal-like buildup, "A Little More Empty" clearly showcases Tai Tai Alibi's mighty rhythm section that rests just behind their melodic stage. Cartwright's drumming is indiscriminate and soldiers on through D'Aquino's bass notes with a resigned intensity that makes the base of the song strong and forceful. D'Aquino, meanwhile, is solid on his bass, as his lines carry quickly, but altogether romantically right to the chorus. Collins' guitar notes are eery and almost resigned in nature, but still strong and sharp enough to rip right through me. A nod, no doubt, to Jerry Cantrell's technique of making the guitar mesh with the vocal undertones in a haunting, yet beautiful sonic bid. To add to the haunt and chill behind the guitar notes, though, Hills' vocals fit just right. An asset on his guitar just as much as with his unique vocals, Hills takes these guys higher, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Tai Tai Alibi sparked a whole new post-grunge revolution.
Things are harder-edged and more intense with TTA's next number, "Lost in You." With a reserving drum intro by Cartwright, I'm immediately impressed with Collins' guitar notes. They're hot while at the same time not burning through me in too much of a metal way. Perfectly alternative and grunge in their planning and execution, the guitar notes are only furthered by Hills' chords. D'Aquino, meanwhile, is on the side, in a sort of secretive place, preferring to add to the song without taking over and making things too bass-heavy. While Hills continues to impress me with his peculiar vocal dynamics, I'm struck the minute that Collins lets go with a beautiful solo. Maybe this sound isn't pure Pearl Jam or Soundgarden, but it's a beautiful mix of the two with a tasty Alice in Chains polish on top. A song you definitely don't want to miss, "Lost in You" is a fantastic number, fit for any live performance or album release.
"Strawman" is a song reveling in creepy awe and dripping in eery self-awareness. Most certainly a perfect song for any Halloween or haunted house occasion, "Strawman" showcases just how versatile Tai Tai Alibi can be. Though I'd love to hear this song blasting loudly at me live, in a funny way it also would work for an indie flick. The chorus just has one of those guitar progressions that draws you in while the rhythm section surrounds you in crashing waves that fill your senses. Tai Tai Alibi outdo themselves here, and impress me again and again. "Strawman" is definitely one of my favorite songs on their setlist, and a song I would hardly be surprised to see on any demo recording. Oh, and the solo by Collins is just sick.
It still remains a mystery to me why these guys have so few plays on their Myspace page. True, grunge and alternative-rock seem to have taken a backseat to emo-punk and pop-rock in the last few years, but still there can be no denying the talent when a group like this emerges. The spirit of '90s alternative lives on in group like Tai Tai Alibi, and that's something I'd glad for. I have no doubt in my mind that these guys will find their audience, and that when they do, they'll be an underground phenomenon. It's just something I can feel in my bones. Brilliant.

Sounds Like: Alice in Chains, Bush, Collective Soul, Candlebox

Key Tracks: "A Little More Empty," "Lost in You," "Strawman," "Cycle"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Short Break

Hey guys. So you've all probably noticed that I have posted in about one month, and for this I just wanted to tell you why. As you all know, sometimes I need a break to recharge, and this was certainly one of those times. I'm sorry I didn't give you guys any notice, but I was truly burned out for a while and just needed to think about other things so I could get my head back.
The good news though, is that I spent a lot of the time doing brainstorming on how to make NewRockNews43 bigger and better for your guys, so let's just say there are some plans in the works. They won't be quick and will probably take some time, but the wait will be worth it, I promise. Also, I've spent the last four weeks finding new groups for you guys that will completely make up for my time off. Every one of these artists has something special, and will most certainly bring something great to NRN43. I intend to post my first new article on Friday, so make sure you check in!! It's gonna be great guys. Thanks for your patience, and as always, thanks for reading! It's good to be back!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Riding in the Motorcade

I know I gave you guys something special with Cloé Beaudoin's new EP a few days ago, but I figured why not introduce these guys this week too since I've been listening to them non-stop for about ten days now. To those of you out there reading from Australia and New Zealand, they won't seem as new as I might assume, because from what I've heard and read, they've been on their local rendition of Top of the Pops. That's a name I'm definitely familiar with, being a hardcore Busted fan, so I immediately know what that means. For us here in the States though, and indeed the northern hemisphere, they're fresh and new, and I can't wait to dive right in.
Motorcade are an indie/pop-rock four-piece hailing from Aukland, in the island nation of New Zealand, and as such, are a first here. I've had bands from Australia, Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, and even Sweden, but New Zealand is a first. Either there aren't as many good artists there (which I highly doubt) or I'm just having a hard time finding them all (which is much more plausible), but whatever the case, Motorcade's sound is premiere for its genre, and a breath of fresh, crisp air in the realm of indie rock. Now things have become overrun with groups like Phoenix, who are just too synthe-looped for my taste, but these guys hit it out of the ballpark with their old-school indie-rock that crosses new-age prep with classic garage grit. Comprising members Eden Mulholland (vocals and guitar), Geordie McCallum (guitar and keys), Scott Sutherland (bass), and Will Mulholland (drums), Motorcade's style is poppy and catchy, with enough of a great rhythm section to give it a real rocking punch. Think Vampire Weekend's prep-polish meets 1990s' garage-pop smirk. And maybe it's just because I'm American, but the accents these guys have only add to the overall indie tone behind the music.
Riding on the success of their acclaimed self-titled and Into the Fall EP's, Motorcade have just recently finished the debut, full-length album effort in the form of Holy Moly. If nothing else this album continues the indie-pop sound that I'm really beginning to love, and that they must have hooked fans of their EP's with. Devoid of the filler and lack-luster tracks that typically surround the one or two good songs on a debut effort, Holy Moly drives from one song to another with a passion and intensity that is fun and quirkily romantic in the best ways.
The title track on Holy Moly is, more than anything, an infectious song. With a fun, dance-around beat and quirky, light-hearted lyrics that make you happy to be alive, Motorcade blast this one out of the park with a single swing. Eden Mulholland's vocals are preppy and funny, and his guitar fits seamlessly with McCallum's notes and keys. The melody in this song would definitely save it if it were drowning, but happily that's not the case. Will Mulholland's drums are a straight kickback (pun intended) to the prep-rock beats of 1990s and Vampire Weekend, and coupled with Sutherland's bass, bring a contagious dance tone to the song. With a chorus that's simple, funny, and almost geekily cute, Motorcade strike solid gold with "Holy Moly." If this isn't the lead single that brings these guys international attention, I'll eat my shoes. Rarely are there songs where everything is right, but this is certainly one of them. Most bands never get close to a breakthrough single, and here Motorcade seem to have invented the idea for it. Brilliant.
Now I don't know if this next track is from Holy Moly too, but if it's not, and I find out that they wrote this for just an EP, I'll just be blown away. "Tightrope Highway" is just fantastic. It's got the driving guitar rhythm and notes provided by Eden Mulholland and McCallum, and on top of that, McCallum's keys augment the melody of the song in the best way possible. Mulholland's voice is high and noteworthy, as Will Mulholland and Sutherland take care of the drums and bass, respectively, providing an indie-pop stage and beat for all the notes and melodies to dance around on in the quirkiest of ways. Like with "Holy Moly," "Tightrope Highway" gets bragging rights for a fantastic music video. In an age where music videos have become sex-centered and shallow, Motorcade show they can still have fun in a geeky way and make indie-pop cool to listen to. Most certainly a five-star track if there ever was one.
"Oldest Trick in the Book" starts with a great melody from McCallum on his keys, and Eden Mulholland's voice is more alternative-rock here, owing to a more hard-rock-inspired drumbeat. Besides the guitar notes and rhythm which make this song cheerful to listen to, one thing that certainly stands out here are Sutherland's bass lines which add a certain edge to the song. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand, thousand times: great bass players make already great bands earth-shattering in their effect, and here Motorcade show just how well it can work. One of the most underrated instruments, the bass gives soul to a song, and in an indie-prep-rock song like this, that only serves to make it better. Aside from outstanding musicianship, though, I must applaud Motorcade for such a great concept of a song. They prove again and again that songs don't need to be complicated and ground-shaking; if they have a funny concept that people can relate to, they'll be successful. I absolutely love what the Mulhollands, McCallum and Sutherland have done here.
I could go on and on about Motorcade. I find myself popping my head to the rhythms and melodies of "Commandeering" and "My Friends" just as much as to "Holy Moly" and "Tightrope Highway." But if I go any farther I know I won't be able to do these guys justice. Soon people will talk about Motorcade in the same breath as Vampire Weekend and Radiohead, and I can't wait to be the one to say, "Told ya so."
A solid four-piece that can pride themselves on great musicianship and a slew of brilliantly crafted songs, Motorcade are now on my radar and won't be leaving for a very long time. If you like anything indie or prep-pop, or are just looking for some feel-good music to listen to in this beautiful autumn weather, Motorcade are your guys. It seems to me right now that no sunny, autumn day would be complete without "Holy Moly" or "Oldest Trick in the Book" playing in the background. Check these guys out, they'll definitely take you for a drive.

Sounds Like: 1990s, Vampire Weekend, Radiohead, Talking Heads

Key Tracks: "Holy Moly," "Tightrope Highway," "Oldest Trick in the Book," "Commandeering"

Check out Motorcade more at: and!/pages/Motocade/11404192852?v=wall&ref=ts

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