Suburban Dinosaur is the work of Gonçalo Trindade, a Portuguese guitarist living in Berlin. He deserves applause for his choice of his pseudonym, let alone his music. Suburban Dinosaur: isn’t that just the best name? Trindade is also prolific writer, with this latest EP, Mountains, being his third release so far this year.
Mountains features seven short, calming guitar tracks with light piano accompaniment. This is a slight deviation from some of Trindade’s usual output. His last release sits more within the realms of noise/drone, and I even found some earlier works jarring. But I prefer this ambient direction. Serene acoustic guitar never fails to nourish my soul, and this EP hits the spot just so. The songs feel relaxed, slightly sad and soothing.
These softly picked recordings are intimate enough to let you hear Trindade’s fingers as they slide along the strings. The sparse piano notes only add to the mood, sensitively used to enhance where needed.
Although the EP feels cohesive and boasts the same vibes throughout, there’s enough subtle differences to delineate between songs. It’s not all entirely acoustic. Second track “Contritum Pecus” employs a delayed loop, almost like a heartbeat. “Heartstrings #1” stands out for its strumming, compared to the other tracks, which are fingerpicked. Whereas “Intertitle(s)” features only piano.
It’s a short EP, but beautiful all the same. Certainly a lovely 20 minutes of music worthy of adding to your collection.
It has been quiet on the Barracks-front for some time, but now the Bay of Plenty band have returned with a different sound. Taken from the 2016 of the same name, Lovestay has been re-recorded acoustically. This stripped back version showcases Jared Ipsen’s stellar singing abilities accompanied by tender piano playing stunning guitar strumming.
The sparse new arrangement contrasts against Barracks’ usual post-hardcore style, but works well. Moody, chilling, and incredibly well produced, it serves to highlight the introspective nature of the song.
Will Not Fade has a wickedly funny chat with Jared and Tom to learn what Barracks have been up to lately, and get a better picture of how the world looks from their point of view.
‘Lovestay (Acoustic)’ recorded by Barracks at C&T Studios, 2016. Mixed and mastered by Nathan Sowter. Streaming video by Joe O’Connor. Cover art by Conor Coleman.
What have you been up to over the past few years?
Jared: At the end of 2016, we released the criminally underrated EP, em>Lovestay. Early 2017, we played a couple of big shows with Baroness and Alexisonfire in Auckland, and will probably ride those sweet waves for a while. After that, we were drummerless, so Hunter (bass / vocals) started learning how to play. We offered Jin an $1,000,000 advance to play guitar for Barracks. We weren’t interested in playing traditional guitar solos anymore, but there shouldn’t be, like, a rule of no solos.
Obviously opening for bands like Baroness and Alexisonfire has earned you someawesome bragging rights. Do you think you’re ever likely to go on tour with an overseasact as the support band?
Jared: I mean, that would require going on tour, wouldn’t it?
How do you make it work, with band members living in different towns?
Tom: We make it work like any family in an indifferent universe. But we still want to be there for each other… The occasional birthday card. A text sent to say “are you alive?” Or just a simple drum beat tapped out and recorded in the car at the traffic lights for the others to make a song out of. Regular people. Doing regular things.
Tell me your thoughts on music piracy. Is it even a thing anymore, now that streaming isso dominant? I ask because you featured predominantly on the Bittorrent site a few years back.
Jared: I think if someone is the type that doesn’t pay for music, they’re never going to pay for music, no matter how much they like it. For me, it was really the difference between people hearing our music for free or not hearing it at all. As far as piracy goes, one of the main ways that people rip music these days is straight from YouTube – we don’t have things like Limewire anymore. If people are just gonna do that, I’d rather them have a good sounding version that it be compressed to shit. Our last royalty cheque from streams was $6.79 for the quarter. Which then has to be split between five people. So you could say we’re doing pretty well.
This acoustic version is quite different from your other material. Are you officially sell-outs now, or did that happen long ago?
Jared: I think there’s an episode of The EPening where you can see the exact moment we sold out.
Tom: I’ve always wanted to sell out. I had to wait until the others gave up on their artistic integrity before joining me in the creative slums. But it’s nice to finally have company.
But in all seriousness, why an acoustic version of an old track, rather than a completely new song?
Jared: Last year we played a few acoustic shows and a live to air on bFM, and people really seemed to enjoy it – or at least they didn’t tell us they hated it, so it seems fair to make that assumption. We thought it would be cool to record a few acoustic versions of our songs because it’s easy and doesn’t take very long. We have around 10 new songs that we’re working on at the moment, we just haven’t quite gotten the bass tone right.
Lovestay was written a few years ago now. Do you still identify with the person you werewhen you wrote it?
Jared: Yeah, definitely. I’ve tried to keep a theme running through all the Barracks songs, so Lovestay is really just an extension of the ideas from Ghosts, especially in tracks like Fallaway. The EP is about growing up and my pathetic attempts at being as an adult, and I still suck at being as adult, and probably will do for quite some time.
Conor Coleman has his finger in a lot of pies. I can’t even keep up with all the musical projects that he is part of. He’s currently doing trap music. How did it come about that hedid the cover art for this release?
Jared: My sister took the original photo for the Lovestay EP over in France. I had been thinking about cover art for Acoustay when I scrolled past Conor’s photo in my Instagram and it was a perfect fit. Then, I slid in to his DMs and asked if we could use it. He said yes. Then I gave him my email address, and he electronically sent me a copy of the photo in the original resolution. After that, I put it in to Photoshop and cropped it into a square.
I adore your social media presence. Do you brainstorm funny things to post, or does it come naturally?
Jared: It comes naturally, unfortunately. All of the vlogs we’ve made have just come about from pointing a camera at each other while we hang out. It seems funny from the outside, but when you have to spend any amount of time with us, it can get pretty old.
What is the band’s consensus on Tenacious D? Is it good or bad to own multiple copies</strong of their CD? [Full disclosure: I’ve seen the D play live three times]
Jared: I mean, they’re fine. Say what you will about Jack Black but that dude has pipes, and obviously Kyle is a genius. I had one or two copies of their debut back in the day – it’s just one of those CDs no one remembers buying but every household seems to have a (two) copy(ies), like American Idiot. They’ve been nominated for Grammys and made movies and shit so it’s kind of hard to hate on them when they’re just doing their thing and having a good time. Wonderboy is a jam.
Tom: Personally, if somebody was in my car, going through the oooool’ CD Wallet looking for bangaz, and they stumbled across two copies of the ‘D, side-by-side, in the same wallet, I would be proud. Not only proud that I managed to convince someone to get in a car with me, but also that the lucky passenger could not only listen to the ‘D on non-stop rotate, but also hold the ‘D in their hand and appreciate the craftsmanship of that wee devil.
Why do you hate drummers?
Jared: They take too long to set up, they’re always playing around with other bands on the side, and you have to stop yourself from getting close in case they leave you again.
Tom: I wish Jared was a drummer so he would leave, too.
Do you prefer playing R18 or AA shows?
Jared: It’s a different vibe. As someone that’s been sucking at putting on AA shows for about 10 years now, I’m probably a bit biased toward them. R18 are usually pretty wild though, the only downside is making money for the Illuminati alcohol industry. The hard part of all ages shows lately has been getting people through the door – there aren’t too many young bands kicking around, so sometimes you just play to the other bands that are playing. We call it ‘communal band practice.’
Do you feel that the new Facebook react emoji things have helped you to express your feelings better?
Tom: It’s a step in the right direction, where people have kind of given up on written and spoken communication. Print is dying, nobody uses phones for talking anymore, and the average age level of spelling and literacy is decreasing. So it’s nice to see emojis step up to the plate and let people know how they feel – with zero effort given (either by actually expressing themselves in well reasoned, thought out sentences or, god forbid, letting somebody actually see their face). I’m rather looking forward to the next step in communication evolution where nobody does anything out of fear of being embarrassed or having their overall life rating decrease.
I think that something that helps Barracks stand out is the focus on melody. Is this a conscious effort to eschew the clichéd approach within the genre of trying to sound as heavy as possible?
Jared: I don’t think it’s been a conscious choice as such to be more emo – I’d say we’ve always been a post-hardcore band that have lumped ourselves in with heavier bands, out of necessity more than anything. With the size of our scene in NZ, it doesn’t really make sense to split all the bands up into single genre shows. Also, screaming is hard and hurts my head.
Does this new single signal a wave of new material to come?
Jared: Nah, probably not.
Tom: Jared’s overall nihilism gets me pretty jacked up, so I’m hoping to work with that and try disappoint him further with the doomiest riff ever created and maybe made into a song. Stay tuned. Just don’t hold your breath. Like, tune in… But keep the volume low so it doesn’t distract you. Then when you least expect it, maybe, just maybe…
What’s next for Barracks?
Jared: We’ve just started an alliance in Contest of Champions, so we’re going to be going really hard on that for a while, see where it takes us.
Tom: A new song. Please. Just anything. If anyone in Barracks reads this… I miss you guys.
Jared: If anyone would like to replace Tom as the guitarist for Barracks, flick me a text on 0279038596.
Beneath The Roots is the psyedonym of Brandon Enderson of Manchester, New Hampshire. Enderson teamed up with local sound engineer Zach Zyla to record this début acoustic pop-punk album, Chasing Light.
This is a truly raw recording, done in Zyla’s home studio. Not to say that it is poor quality, but you can really hear the steel strings of the guitar hum and vibrate as Enderson strums. It soudns intimate and close. Chasing Light is mostly a standard singer/songwriter affair of one man with a guitar, but each track adds something new to the mix.
We could use more of these small extras. Initially, it just takes switching up the strumming. During “Digging Myself Out” Enderson changes to high-pitched strumming, punctuated with a lush fingerpicked tail. Other moments, like delay pedal accents in “The Cross You Bare”, and the keyboards in “Whiskey Song” also help to make the songs shine.
The simple style works well, but when we hear drums come in during the fourth track it sounds so much better. And a fully fleshed out fifth track makes you wonder if they should have done the entire record as a band. I’m undecided about this. On one hand, the evolution that progresses throughout the album is nice, but on the other hand, the tracks with more production are easily superior.
One of my main gripes with pop-punk is the whiny nature of the vocals. Sure, I like Blink 182 as much as the next guy, and Into It. Over It. can do no wrong, but it’s not a genre I can tolerate too much of. That said, there are some vocal highlights interspersed here. The harmonies in “We Are Divinity” strike a good balance between passionate shouting and musical prettiness.
Some of these tracks remind me of A Day To Remember’s more stripped-back material. Good pop sensibilities, slightly whiny vocals, and calm yet enticing delivery.
Beneath The Roots have done well with this début album. Polished enough to sound good, raw enough to boast guts, and good, simple songwriting that offers just enough technical flourishing to stand out.
Auckland singer/songwriter Lydia Cole has just come home from a short Australian tour promoting her second album, The Lay Of The Land, which came out a few weeks ago. She’s in a weird state between excitement and exhaustion.
“On Monday I flew back. I did three shows in four days. It was kind of insane. I have never been more tired or thoroughly exhausted in my mind and body than I was this weekend.
“It was awesome though. Totally pays off and definitely worth it.” she hastily adds.
Image: Josh Yong
Cole will continue the tour locally across our three main centres over the coming few weeks, before emigrating to Berlin in a couple of months. She has spent the day trying to organise the logistics and equipment for her next few shows.
“The stress has been pretty insane over the past month, but I’m learning to break it down. I’m not sure about the details for the Wellington show, because I’m just thinking about this weekend, you know? I’ll worry about Wellington next week, which is the only way for me to cope with everything.
“At the moment it’s literally too much work for me to do. I did the Kickstarter, and there’s something like 260 people that I have to send CD’s or different rewards to. I’m definitely not up with all of that. Maybe half of the rewards are in boxes waiting me to package and address and send out.
“But I figure if those people have waited 18 months than they won’t be bothered about another few weeks … hopefully” she chuckles.
“I’ve never been this busy before. It’s like full-time plus. But I’m really grateful for it, because I know it doesn’t always happen that way.”
A new album
The Lay Of The Land is a stunning follow-up to 2012’s Me & Moon. She’s pleased with the album. Me & Moon left her anxious about what people would think, whereas this time around Cole is has had long enough to sit on the songs and is happy that they represent her well at this moment of time, and realises that they don’t have to define her forever.
“In the studio when I was recording it I was very anxious. And I don’t know if it was because I was subconsciously thinking that there was 260 people hoping to like this. The grassroots support from an array of people – the Kickstarter people – was one of the big reasons why I decided to go that way. Firstly: it was financial, but secondly: I don’t have a label or a publicist or anything – it was just me at that stage, doing my own thing – and I realised that doing Kickstarter was a way to have a few hundred people aware that I was going to release something. They’re waiting, so you already have a bunch of people on your buzz already. They’re loyal. They’ve invested with their money already and they’re likely to tell their friends and follow what you’re doing, so it’s cool.”
Cole had quit her job and sought contributions from her fans via crowdfunding site Kickstarter to help her fund the recording process. She managed to raise the $15,000 within only five days, and since recording the album a year ago has worked hard to piece together the package that has become her album. This has involved finalising the album art, creating music videos, having band rehearsals and waiting for the CDs and vinyl records to get pressed
When you look at what she has put out, you can understand why it has taken so long. Take, for example, the incredible stop motion video for “Telepathise”. Cole teamed up with ex-pat animator Timothy Armstrong to create this brilliant clip that is not only visually stunning, but complements the song so well. It took Armstrong a whole month to make, and could have easily taken three times as long.
There are so many intricate details in the video. Armstrong discussed at length with Cole what types of trees she likes and what animals she wanted featured. He painstakingly created the layered images atop a Lazy Susan table and spent a lot of time manipulating small lights to create the different effects you see in the video [example here].
Cole is also super excited about having vinyl copies of the new album available.
“I was living at home a few years ago with Mum and Dad and they had an old record player. I’ve got a small collection: Louis Armstong, Sufjan Stevens, Ryan Adams, Phoenix Foundation (fun!). Since I’ve gone flatting I haven’t had a record player and have had to shelf them, but listening to records is like making coffee for me. It’s a physical routine: you chuck it on, put the needle down and it’s more of a tangible moment to enjoy.
“Look, I’m not a big sound-y person and don’t understand technical stuff very much but I did have an inkling that the warmth and the textures – a lot of the synth sounds on this album – would suit a vinyl sound. It was real cool when the test pressing arrived and I chucked it on. It sounded so good – I think it really suits it. I’m stoked with that.
“And they’re selling really well at shows and online as well. I sold a whole bunch to people in Germany and all through Europe, which is awesome! Hopefully they all make it in one piece!”
Nic Manders on keys. Image: Josh Yong
Berlin represents a fresh start and new challenges. Going from support slots for big name artists and Silver Scroll award nominations to being a nobody on the opposite side of the planet.
“I’m very aware that I’ll become nobody. I’m excited to start afresh and meet people and go to gigs and busk and see who reacts to me on the street. I’ve always had Nic Manders produce my stuff, and he won’t be there. Over there I’ll be doing home recordings and stretching myself in that way as well.
“I’m a real big fan of sustainable and thorough growth. Like, chipping away at your character, chipping away at a project that means a lot to you instead of hoping for that overnight success that doesn’t actually mean anything. I apply that to my music and to my personal growth. I think that the slower you grow, then the more concrete that change will be.”
Connecting with musicians
We spend some time enthusiastically discussing the Sufjan Stevens shows we had each been to when he came last year. He embodies that type of musician Cole aspires to be like, just an upfront guy who is also a talented musician. She shares that these are the types of people she tries to share a stage with as well.
Luke Oram on guitar. Image: Josh Yong
“A guy called Chris from Christchurch is coming up to Auckland to support me. He messaged me on Facebook to say ‘Hi, here’s a link to my latest song on Soundcloud and I’d like to support you’. I really liked it. I’ve never met him and have seen no footage of him playing live so it’s like a fun little risk that I’m taking.
“In Australia it was real interesting trying to find people to support me. And I was lucky with that too. I got a couple of real cool people. I think musicians have pretty amazing stories a lot of the time so it was cool to bump into more people who have crazy stories.
“People who play music in similar genres to what I play – they’re writing from the heart and writing about stuff that matters to them. Usually when I click with someone like that it’s often on a personal level as well, so you make a really good friend out of that, which is nice.”
Authenticity is something Cole values. She presents herself as she is, flaws and all. She chooses not to wear makeup and her personal lyrics can leave her feeling incredibly exposed, but she’d prefer to be seen as genuine than perfect.
“When I was younger I thought that not needing a day job meant you’ve made it, but I’ve changed my perspective on what success means.
“Success to me is balance and health. The past little while I’ve been working part-time in a café, and doing music the rest of the time. The café work helps keep me social and personally healthy, and not going all crazy in my head. And it pays the bills. And that to me is success.”
Lydia Cole has four more NZ shows before moving to Germany to continue her personal and musical growth. With hundreds of people paying to help fund her music and a likely three sold out shows on this tour, it’s hard not to agree that she has done well for herself. We wish her the best of luck starting afresh overseas.
Hailing from France, Klone are a prog rock band signed with Pelagic-records. They have released an acoustic album Unplugged, acting as a pseudo greatest-hits. Sourced from their previous two albums, the songs stripped bare and performed acoustically take on a new life. Throw in a fantastic Depeche Mode cover of “People are People” and you have a curious proposition.
The songs were recorded live at Théâtre de La Coupe d’Or, with two exceptions recorded in the studio. They offer an opportunity to hear musicians with nowhere to hide.
I’d not heard Klone before writing this review, now based on the singer’s voice alone I want to hear more. This is not the first time a rock artist has taken their music and stripped away the bells and whistles to leave the pure songwriting on display.
The first artist that springs to mind for me is Alice in Chains with their infamous Live on MTV album and video. It shows a band ravaged by drug abuse, yet still capable of incredible art. The songs usually associated with distorted guitars and walls of noise become more delicate and nuanced and take on a new life.
Wow. That cover of “People are People” is good.
The stock footage video that they’ve cobbled together fits well with the musical content. Depeche Mode seem to be a consistent thread amongst bands that I like. One of those hidden influences woven into sounds of music that has taken the next step down that sonic road. From In Flames covering “Everything Counts”; Mike Shinoda‘s (Linkin Park) excellent remix of “Enjoy the Silence”; A Perfect Circle‘s and now Klone‘s cover of “People are People”. Each version demonstrates what people take from the band and how they honour it in their own style. Those covers listed above are so vastly different, yet they all honour the same band. It’s brilliant.
If there is one thing I could criticise about this release, is the lack of backing vocals. As powerful and beautiful as the singer’s voice is – it’s hard not to imagine it being better with harmonies or other voices to play off. I’m not expecting The Beach Boys levels of vocal harmonies, but something to add another dimension to what is a very solid vocal performance.
The musicianship receives top marks, there is nothing that stands out as distracting from the song. Not having heard Klone in “Rock mode” I’m now curious how the songs will translate. No doubt for fans of the band they will have the same nerves about hearing their favourite tracks done acoustically.
Well worth a listen, it’s a great low-key soundtrack for a weekend.
Klone’s new album Unplugged is due out on Pelagic Records on February 17 2017