The Mowgli’s: Sound the Drum

Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, I quickly learned to hold the idea of community loosely. Throughout my childhood, there was never a sense of certainty; friendships were as lasting as puddles in May.  But that perception recently shattered when I discovered the seven members who make up the band, The Mowgli’s. Within seconds of listening to the first track on, Sound the Drum, I immediately felt like I became a part of something much, much bigger.

“Hi Hey There Hello,” is an appropriate and inviting way to open a record. Katie Jane Earl’s vocals are sweet and pleasant, reminding me briefly of quirky New Girl, Zooey Deschanel. Yet, this song is not Katie’s alone to sing, for she is joined by one of the other three singers in the band. And while I’d love to tell you specifically who it is (it could be Michael Vincze, Colin Dieden, or Joshua Hogan), for the moment, let’s appreciate that the individual characteristics of each singer come together to create a united voice, strengthening the overall experience of the track. Unlike most bands, who tend to center its focus on a singular vocalist, The Mowgli’s embrace the communal, allowing for the listener to instantly join in without any reservations; one almost feels like they’re simultaneously part of the band and an audience member.

In subsequent tracks, The Mowgli’s musical community is expansive and everlasting. There’s a vivacity that brims from each note, reminding me of the energy found on the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack. Even when the tempo slows as in, “Carry Your Will,” that vigor never rests.

With catchy chords, it’s easy to get lost and forget about the words. Luckily, I stopped myself from running through imaginary meadows and found, “Time.” It came to me like a soft summer breeze, and I felt absolutely relieved from the heat of living. While the lyrics are written from the first person perspective, the emotions explore a wish that seems inevitably universal: “I get so down about this world sometimes. I cannot understand people, no. Not at all. But I hope to see a hope a change in man. I hope to see us love one another and I know, we can.”

For those of you who are waiting to experience the warm sound of the San Fernando Valley, Sound the Drum debuts today! Be sure to catch the sunshine with The Mowgli’s at their album release show at the Roxy, May 8th.

American Gospel: Tall Tales Vol. 1.

 

Instead of taking 12 separate ideas and throwing them in the ring, Gregg DellaRocca of The Republic of Wolves set out on his own to embody a solo project called American Gospel and put out a concept record, Tall Tales Vol. 1. This can be looked at as DellaRocca’s baby as it’s almost 100% him as he took on all the writing, almost every instrument heard and all of the production. DellaRocca created a record that’s a little folk, a little retro and a smidge of Nirvana…? Explanation later, of course.

The thing with tales, whether sung or read, is that they may not be interpreted the way the creator intended. One could listen to Tall Tales Vol. 1 on repeat and come to a different conclusion every time, but for me it was a tale of someone who’s lost, hurt and searching.

He sings to an up Postal Service-like beat, “I looked all around. Where’d you go?” The music might’ve been saying one thing, but the lyrics told another tale. But something else stood out as key factors in interpreting the tale of DellaRocca. “The Hanged Man” sounded like some song I’d heard on repeat on the radio a year prior, but that wasn’t why it made an impression. The title, “The Hanged Man” is a tarot card often associated with letting go, sacrifice or reversal. So what I heard right from the start was this man searching for something or rather someone, but then giving up on it. Then my college English skills were thrown a curve ball when “I’ll Never Let You Go” began.

The concept may’ve been lost to me, or maybe it wasn’t, but the music whether or not I got “it” doesn’t matter when it comes to the actual music. The Postal Service was an obvious comparison, but the spurts of folk thrown about added needed layers to help this record stay above sea level. And then Nirvana? “Hunting Boar” had an uncanny vocal resemblance to Lee Koch from the second season of The Voice when he sang Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box.” Both are unable to be categorized, but so different that you want more and really can’t pinpoint why.

Three years, two recording locations and one man later, American Gospel’s Tall Tales Vol. 1 was born, and will make its debut May 15th. Interested parties ready for a page turner can get a hard copy, or do the modern dance and pick it up from iTunes or BandCamp.

The Danks: Are You Afraid of The Danks?

A Sunday afternoon reliving youth, watching Balto then taking a break to pour my thoughts about The Danks’ Are You Afraid of The Danks? It was a trip of muffled lyrics cascaded through Indie rock that fans of Vampire Weekend and Discovery would dive into without a second thought.

After “What We’re Doing,” “Who Knows?” was a delight as the lyrics came across clearer. But it was the raspy Coachella “No Radio” that took the lead at the start of the record. Once you trudge through the trio that kick things into gear, you’ll reach the one that would be the spoiled sibling if these were my children, “Die Young.” Instantly instagram photos of James Dean given that “old timey,” “I’m totally a photographer” look comes to mind as the youths blasting this tune come together to agree that now is the only moment that will ever matter.

As far as the rock side of Are You Afraid of The Danks? head over to “Automocar.” It’s starts off heavy, but rounds out. Then skip ahead to “374,” because that’s where you’ll find the rock anchor, holding things down at the end of the record.

The Danks’ Are You Afraid of The Danks? is available for guys and gals on May 22nd on Hidden Pony Records. Then if you’re dying to see them once you’ve checked them out and are in the Toronto area, you can see them at the Hidden Pony Records showcase for the North By Northeast Music Festival on at the Drake Hotel on June 14th.