The new release from JC Townsend dubbed "GhOStS" is an almost angelic, acoustic drive singer songwriter track that keeps undertones of alternative rock beneath its skin.
Vocal harmonies fill the air and whirl around you as you listen like the ghosts for our pasts Townsend sings about.
At times the track feels like a drinking song passed down through the years. A group of men at a pub somewhere decades ago singing along in drunken embrace.
There is something very pure and fulfilling about the song as its progression and melodies begin to warm you. Almost like a story that comes to a close at the end, you feel satiated.
"GhOStS" is a wonderfully performed song that brings to mind Simon & Garfunkel or Elliot Smith at times as the track keeps you floating just above the ground.
There is something beautifully haunting about this song but I think that's part of the point of its existence.
With a powerful track like this one, we had to have a sit down with Townsend to talk shop.
Check out our interview with JC Townsend HERE.
Wildlife Moon has been releasing a string of singles throughout this year and the most recent and awe inspiring is "Mirrors Of Each Other".
The track brings a beautifully ambient neo-folk style with feels of Pink Floyd, Elliot Smith, and Nick Drake all thrown into a pot, boiled and seasoned, and damn does it taste good.
This single has dream-like vocals and scattered bending sounds flowing through its atmosphere at all times.
It's easy to see this as the soundtrack to a scene in a film and upon its first listen you feel like your walking alone in a forest. The sung peaking through the trees. Being taken back by the beauty of it all.
"Mirrors Of Each Other" is cinematic and has a way of surrounding you and letting you fall back into it fearlessly.
A perfect counterpart to other singles released in 2020 like "You Don't Have To Hide" and "Darkness", the new single is a wonderous time.
We wanted to sit down with Wildlife Moon to talk about where it all comes from. So we did just that.
Check out our interview with Wildlife Moon HERE.
An Interview With Occult Stereo
The new album coming from Occult Stereo is a masterfully woven display of audio visualizations and textures.
Plasma is a 6 song EP built on an array of sound bending cinematic landscapes.
The record feels like the place you get to as you wake up. Still in a fog and clinging to an alternate reality.
Utilizing synths, vocals, and stringed instruments along with live and digital percussion stirred and brewed to a strange perfection.
Fusing in rock and grunge with these elements creates something out of this world.
We had to sit down with Occult Stereo to find out more about this release.
TSWS" Okay let's start with the Plasma record. This album has a variety of genre bending sounds including pop, rock, acoustic, and more. Where did this come from?
OC: This album is like a sonic collage or weird alchemy. Occult Stereo (OS) initially started as a side/solo project focused on experimental guitar noise, ambient sound exploration, and live improv with guest musicians/friends.
Similar to my main band Impuritan (http://www.impuritan.net), specific genre isn't a direct consideration. "Genre-bending" emerges from a desire to capture different sounds, tones, and moods. I like the term "experimental rock" because it implies a freedom to defy conventional expectations. There are consistent psychedelic or drone-like elements throughout the album, some parts are guitar-driven noise rock, at other times vocals and electronics take the forefront. It all kind of blends together.
"Plasma" started as a collaborative recording idea in February 2019. I reached out to friends/musicians across the USA and Europe - some who I've had previous bands with, others whose music I enjoy. Many seemed excited about it, so I recorded core tracks on guitar, bass, vocals, synth, drum machines, and live loops that I then shared.
The remaining effort was largely improvised by all - some people recorded their tracks in my San Francisco studio, others contributed from their individual locations/studios. The last creative phase was me in "mad scientist" mode, editing and mixing to create finished songs.
TSWS: The record feels very ethereal and cinematic at times. Did it take you long to create this? Did it come out how you expected?
OC: I like your descriptions. It definitely took many months of recording & tracking, plus gathering others' contributions. "Plasma" ended up being 6 songs.
Mixing was split into pre- and post-COVID. Three songs were mixed by Donny Newenhouse & me at El Studio (where great bands have recorded & mixed - Trans Am, Feral Ohms, Carlton Melton, Terry Gross). Once COVID struck, I finished the final three mixes myself at Distant Spore Audio (my SF studio).
Mixing the final ingredients into something cohesive took longer than actually recording it. The album just released on Nov. 6, 2020 - so it feels like it took a while! So much has happened during that time...
I didn't have a specific result in mind for this album beyond having fun with the process. Some people are seasoned improvisers, others thrive more with structure in place - so I tried to ensure there here was an established song flow & vibe for sections before bringing others in. Beyond that, it's quite a unique album that I could not have made 100% myself.
TSWS: With such a wide array of sounds can you tell us what artists, or bands really influence you?
OC: My musical influences are too many to name (pick a decade...right?)
Ones I hear on this specific album: Amon Düül, Oneida, Sonic Youth, Coil, Dick Dale, My Bloody Valentine, Royal Trux
TSWS: This is quite an achievement musically. Is there any sort of advice you'd give to other aspiring artists out there trying to create and get heard?
OC: Practice music (or any art) a lot. Stay as prolific as possible. De-program your consciousness from mental pollution and social propaganda. Perform live frequently. Work hard at your creative goals but don't forget to enjoy yourself.
TSWS: What's next for you? Anything more in the works even now?
OC: Yes, always something in the works. My music projects & recording studio have a new home base in April 2021 - Athens, Greece. Time to be based out of Europe for a while, but will continue to visit & tour the US.
Solo-wise: definitely working on some new material that is much heavier/noisier and will be easier to replicate all-live organically (guitar, bass, vocals, synth, and live loops - with triggered bass samples + drum machines).
With COVID and no live shows currently, I've been improving a livestream setup to do more online shows, plus learning some video editing. I'm also taking on remote mixing projects for bands/artists' albums - I recently mixed Drumwolf's Free EP, a space-rock solo album from John Lee (Laytcomers, Impuritan).
TSWS: Is there ever a plan to perform live?
OC: Assuming you mean "Plasma" - it will probably never be heard live in its album form again. Too many people spread too far & wide were part of making it.
I've played stripped-down versions of these songs solo numerous times, which involves me playing live guitar, bass, vocals, and loops - but with sampled backing instruments (live drums, bass, and synth as on the album). It served a purpose to give the songs "live form", but pre-recorded backing tracks are honestly weird for me live. I much prefer live looping and triggering of bass or drum samples to thicken stuff up rather than performing with a "ghost band".
Both of my music projects - Impuritan and OS - have played many live shows & will continue to tour once a vaccine is out. More than anything, I look forward to playing music with others again - it's way more fun!
TSWS: What does someone like you do when you're NOT working on music?
OC: Enjoy time with my wife, loved ones, and my turtle Cruz. Meditate 30 minutes (or longer) a day. Eat good food + work out. Play video games.
TSWS: What else influences you to create that's non-musical?
OC: Film has always been a big influence, particularly (good) horror, (good) sci-fi and underground, cult, or foreign stuff. Connection to nature and relationships with other living things. Astronomy. Cannabis and coffee have their place too.
TSWS: Before we go, is there anything you'd like to express to fans of the music?
OC: To current fans: we appreciate you and thanks for enjoying the music. Reach out on social media, email, whatever - we love hearing from people. Come see us live when that's a thing again.
To not-yet-fans - here is some headphone listening for you (let your ears decide if you like it):
- Occult Stereo "Plasma" is out on 12" vinyl, digital, and streaming platforms: http://occultstereo.bandcamp.
- Impuritan has released 5 albums since 2011: http://impuritan.bandcamp.com
An Interview With Warbler BC
Warlber BC just dropped a brand new single called "Just What I Wanted" and straight from the get go it kicks in with bendy guitars reminiscent of Iggy Pop and The Stooges and transforms into rock anthem of sorts as it breaks into a classic punk feel with a twist.
One of the key elements that makes this track different is the percussion and the time changes surprising you around each corner.
The song has a deep rooted soul and feels almost like an Native American chant but in classic rock form. The track builds and bellows as it plays on and the hooks get embedded in your head.
Warbler BC has no problem letting his guitar rip and having a good time doing it.
We had to sit down with Warbler and have a chat about where this all came from and what's next for the artist. Here's what happened.
TSWS: So, let's begin with "Just What I Wanted". This track has a real deal classic rock riff and some different percussion, a blues feel and a genuine attitude. Where did this song come from?
Warbler BC: It comes from dead end jobs, methadone clinics, and correctional facilities. It comes from a system that is designed to break people. It comes from pushing people too far.
TSWS: This single feels like a step in a different direction from your other singles releases earlier this year. What made you start writing a harder rocking song?
Warbler BC: I have many harder songs that I have written. I am working on creating a strong and solid platform to release them from.
TSWS: How did this all really start for you?
Warbler BC: I lost everything I ever cared about. And the illusion of time and control becomes broken down. The field is laid bare, and there comes the realization that pain, suffering, and ones own fate are inescapable. Therefore, one must do what one was born to do.
TSWS: With the songs we've heard, there seems to be some different influences going on. What are your favorite bands? Who really influenced you musically?
Warbler BC: I like all music as long as it is well written and composed. My musical influences are too many to mention here, but the flame of love I carry for indie music has been fanned by artists such as Angel Olson, Phoebe Bridgers, Sharon Van Etten, and Kate Stables from This Is The Kit. I have also been very impressed by the work done by artists like Beck and Vampire Weekend.
TSWS: Do you perform most of the instrumentation on your own? Will you be putting anything together to perform live when the time comes?
Warbler BC: Yes. However, I am always looking for talented musicians to perform with, and to do collaborative works.
TSWS: What does someone like you do when you're not working on music?
Warbler BC: Right now I am compiling a book of excerpts from poetry that I have written. I also paint and draw. I used to box, but now I practice sword fighting with HEMA. Apart from singing, it’s one of the few things that clears my head.
TSWS: What's next for you as an artist? is there anything in the works even now?
Warbler BC: Something is always in the works. The next album is already being mapped out. And I am currently working on a song called Blood-born. It will be the next to be recorded in a studio.
TSWS: Before we go, is there anything you'd like to express to your fans?
Warbler: I will be at Herman’s Hideaway on Nov. 11th, and touring as much as possible during the current situation. If you find that the songs have meaning for you, and that they resonate with you, then follow me and we will continue on this journey together.
An Interview With The Agency...
The latest album release from The Agency... dubbed In The Haunted Woods gives you that warm feeling you get listening to bands like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds or Tom Waits.
Deep vocals and a dark undertone plays out super well with this record. As it unfolds it feels like you're listening to an old western concept album.
Touches of jazz and ambient rock fill the atmosphere and songs swell with intensity and whirlwinds of sound surround you.
Tremolo guitars and detailed storytelling creates somewhat of a different world as you listen on.
The Haunted Woods has a way of giving you the calm before the storm, and then the storm hits and you're thrashed.
The next track begins, and you get up and do it all again.
This is an absolutely astounding album to indulge in with headphones by yourself. Like a good film, the less interruptions the better. It's a massive piece of work to soak in but damn it's fun to do.
We wanted to sit down with The Agency... to find out where this came from. So that's what we did.
TSWS: Okay guys, let's start with In The Haunted Woods. This is a huge album and at times feels theatrical and ambient. Very cool genre bender of a record. Where did this come from?
The Agency...: Thank you. I like the term ‘genre bender’. It’s hard to say exactly where it comes from. Lyrically there is a lot of story-telling that maybe borrows from folk tradition. But sonically its even more ambiguous. We have such mixed influences and really want to explore them all and even try to get them all out on the same record. The other thing is that there’s four of us (Andy, Steven, Ben and me) that are the set line-up…but as a collective we can have as many as twelve on a recording or on the stage with us. We really try to encourage different people to leave their stamp. To create space for themselves on the songs. To start with I write the melody and lyrics but things bloom from there. It’s also taken us a long time to put this record together. We think its time that’s been well spent - to fuse all the layers of sound and introspection together that you hear on this album.
TSWS: Listening through the full album it almost feels like a concept record. Is that true?
The Agency...: We try to write albums around themes rather than concepts. So, ‘In the Haunted Woods’ is about being lost in all of its guises. In ‘To Fumble is Divine’ the narrator seems most literally lost, but the other tracks are more about feeling lost. There’s some pretty unscrupulous and misanthropic characters on the album, which is typical of our writing. I think one of the reasons people often feel lost is because they don’t take responsibility for themselves and their actions. ‘Affluent’ is a good example where the narrator seems to blame everyone but himself for the loss of one love while treating another in a pretty despicable manner. Sometimes people can’t see what’s in front of them. ‘Numb’ is the story of a banker going on the run, our ,mini-epic, and ‘Poor Robin’ is about a guy getting caught up in the middle of a political conspiracy. It tends not to end well for the characters on this album. That’s especially true of the last song ‘Two Strangers’ where an entire village is lead astray…it’s a meditation on human fallibility and mob mentality. Fitting given the current political landscape…
TSWS: You guys have been releasing music professionally since 2013 and have accomplished things most indie bands would love to. Is there any advice you'd give to aspiring bands or artists trying to get heard out there?
The Agency...: Well, we’ve listened to a lot of ‘industry advice’ over the last seven years, but have tended not to follow it. The old cliché about being true to yourself is really important. If you’re told to only write pop songs that last three minutes thirty seconds and to release as many tracks as you can to feed Spotify algorithms ignore it, unless you don’t really care about your art. Steve Lamacq just chose to play the track ‘Numb’ off ‘In the Haunted Woods’, which is a six-minute epic – if its good enough the music finds its reach. Also, consider that there is no easy money and that the whole shebang requires a lot of hard work. We always get PR type stuff ‘wrong’…it’s important to keep ‘stirring the pot’ with contacts and letting them know you’re there. We kind of disappeared while we wrote and recorded this album and are just super grateful that people seem to have picked back up from where they left off with us.
TSWS: How did all of this start for you?
The Agency...: We’ve all been in different bands for years before the Agency… Me and Steve were in our first band together as teenagers. We’re also of different generations…so I guess it started at different times to. The Agency… was actually an accident. I was working on songs for what I thought was a solo collection and got Andy, Garry (currently residing in Berlin) and Steve to help. Then it became apparent it wasn’t really a solo record but something more. I only started writing songs after I asked Garry to write with me. He said he wouldn’t write with me, but he would play if I wrote the songs. It was a bit of a challenge. By the time the second album, ‘Of Ghosts’ came around I was writing for a band and for ‘In the Haunted Woods’ we really seem to have found our sound. Hence, some pretty sonically different songs now sound like they belong to a collection.
TSWS: Did you used to play live? Will you get back to that when the time comes?
The Agency...: Yeah, we love to play a bustling live show and we were really looking forward to the album launch gig. We did a tour and played festivals in the summer after we released ‘Of Ghosts’. We’re planning to do something similar again to celebrate ‘In the Haunted Woods’. Obviously, the world is a bit changed at the moment, and all that is delayed for now – so we’re biding our time but plan to get back out there as soon as we can. In the meantime, its been livestreams on facebook and mosaic videos.
TSWS: So, there are a bunch of combined styles throughout your catalog. What bands or artists influenced you? ANy bands that really changed you?
The Agency...: I spoke to the others about this. For Andy the Beatles were a big influence and discovering them really changed the way he approached music. But Andy has dabbled and still dabbles in dance music and trance. Steve also digs the Beatles but mentioned Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd among his influences. He’s also a fan of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, which helps explain our occasional post rock tangents. Ben has been really getting into classic son g writers like Tom Waits, Elton John and Rufus Wainwright. My tastes are so varied. I used to DJ Jazz, Soul, Funk and House Music, but I also love good song writing. So I never stopped listening to Bob Dylan (I’d sneak Dylan songs into DJ sets at the end of the night) and at the minute I’m getting into Christian Kjellvander in a big way. Anyway, I guess you put all those influences together in the shaker and you get something like the Agency…
TSWS: What's next for you guys? Anything in the works even now?
The Agency...: Lockdown has been productive and I more or less have the sketches for another album. We’ve already been memoing back and forth…hopefully we won’t be quite so long between albums this time.
TSWS: What do you do when you're NOT working on music?
The Agency...: We work. Andy is soundman on film and television productions. I’m busy working on a PhD at the moment. Otherwise we pick up what we can that allows us to keep making music.
TSWS: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
The Agency...: We’d like to thank everyone for their support. We supper appreciate every listener – we’re a bit of a niche sound. And also, we promise to get the next record out for you all sooner.
An Interview With Olivia Castriota
The brand new release from Olivia Castriota dubbed I Need A Minute is completely loaded with colorful pop songs with soulful and passionate R&B vocal stylings and endless hooks.
A polished combination of radio ready choruses and powerhouse tracks showcase the artists knack for songwriting and natural ability for performance.
Castriota ushers along some killer attitude and brings that edginess to shimmering pop songs and it all totally works.
Songs like "Leaving You" hits the way a country song does with a slight roughness and twang that sticks while others like "Damaged" is more of a building indie-pop ballad that gets her unique and alluring vocal touch.
That's the thing with this record. The songs are amazingly well produced but it's her vocals that keep you coming back. Incredibly feverish and intense at times, and sultry others. Sometimes both at once.
This is a genuine pop album that contends with those in the big leagues. Olivia Castriota has certainly put herself on the playing field with I Need A Minute.
We wanted to talk with her about this release, so we did just that.
Here's What Happened.
TSWS: So Olivia, let's start with your single "Fixed". This is a passionate track and very emotionally driven. Where did this song come from?
Olivia: The Story:
The phone call lasted longer than expected. Forty-five emotional minutes later, I hung up and couldn’t get it out of my head. Normally, I don’t talk to you about this kind of thing, but that day was different. I couldn’t mask my feelings any longer.
You’ve never known me to be anything but happy, but lately internal waves of sadness, fatigue, anxiety, and nervousness overwhelmed me. I finally told you. I went from airplane mode to my unfiltered truth. Bluntly you uttered ‘we need to get you fixed’ and the call was over.
February 2019 is when ‘Fixed’ all started. I had just gotten off of a phone call that was extremely emotional and honest and the best way for me to personally process things is by writing, so that’s what I did. I wrote about the phone call and then texted Regan McCroskey, my go-to writing partner, and told her all about it. We went back and forth with a few ideas and demos for about two weeks and then as soon as I got to LA in March to work on the album, it was ready for production.
I played the demo for Sean, we restructured things a bit and discussed how it should feel and off we went! Sean is kind of this master of all trades, musically. He’s hands down the best producer I’ve ever worked. He’s like a machine. A man of few words but he doesn’t have to say much because everything comes through in the music. In ‘Fixed’ we wanted to capture a modern electro pop sonic direction while incorporating unique sounds to keep the listener's attention. We wanted this track to begin feeling cold, spacious, distressed and sad to represent my feelings of depression and uncertainty but then move into something bright and dreamy with more feelings of inspiration, empowerment, and hopefulness.
TSWS: The video for "Fixed" is intense! Did this take a long time to create? Did it come out the way you'd hoped?
Olivia: I worked with Azur X Vibes Productions on this video. We shot everything in Rhode Island in three days but of course the preplanning / editing is much more time consuming.
Yeah, the song is heavy. The video is heavy. I think the whole point of art is to make you feel. So hearing this song and watching this video is either going to make you say “is she okay?” (sidenote: this is a personal favorite quote that my family likes to ask me after almost every release, haha) or “oh my god, that’s exactly how I feel too.” And my hope is for the people that fall into the latter category that they see they aren’t alone.
TSWS: You have some incredibly powerful vocals. What artists influenced you for this? What artist really changed you?
Olivia: For this song I was really just influenced by the creatives directly around me who worked on the song. In a short amount of time we made something really captivating and special.
In general, I'm musically obsessed with Ed Sheeran, D'Angelo, Jessie J, Etta James, Christina.... any super soulful powerful vocalists really.
TSWS: How did this all begin for you?
Olivia: I started singing when I was a little girl. I taped magazine pictures all over my walls from floor to ceiling and would sing albums back to back to my "audience." I just always wanted to sing ever since I can remember.
TSWS: What does someone like you do when you're NOT working on music?
Olivia: Well, I almost never sit still that is for sure. So, it honestly might be easier to answer what don't I do! I love cooking, biking, running, drinking coffee, working on photoshoot sets, watching documentaries and trash reality TV, traveling. I like to keep busy!
TSWS: Will you be performing live when the time comes? Someday... when will that be?
Olivia: Nobody knows. But I have a killer show ready to go when concerts are back in action!
TSWS: What's next for you as an artist?
Olivia: I'm going to release a Christmas cover song! And keep writing and feeling my feelings through music. Let's see where that takes me.
TSWS: You've gained a great fan base with almost 40k followers on Spotify alone! What advice would you give to other aspiring artists out there?
Olivia: Don't stop. As an independent artist, all the responsibilities fall on you. If you don't do it, no one else will. It's exhausting to self-promote all day but as soon as you connect with someone who actually digs your music and what's to be a real fan, it's amazing. So, I just keep trudging forward and hope for the moments to fuel me through all the bullshit.
TSWS: Before we go, what would you like to express to your fans?
Olivia: Gratitude. Thanks for listening and feeling with me. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for the support. Thanks for being part of the journey. I'm only getting better with age, so fasten your seat belts and get comfy because it's a long ride.