Ghost Friends LTD: Acoustic Demos

Social Media: Facebook, bandcamp, soundcloud

Favorite Songs: Loser (demo), BUMMER (demo), Something About A Bear (demo), Back In Your Head (Demo (Cover)), Muscles the Ghost

Ghost Friends LTD have been around for almost a year now. They are a two piece comprised of Chris Monzon on guitar and vocals and Masie Allen on Drums and vocals. They do a lot of local shows around Reno at places like Holland Project. Their demo album are all acoustic (hence the name) while their live performances are accompanied by electric guitars with distortion effects and drums.

Although the songs are the same live as they are in the acoustic demos, the translation into electric music adds a ferocity to it while the acoustic demos are peaceful yet sullen. The listener may view the songs as a reflection of their own uncertainty. For example, on the song, Bummer, Chris sings about death being a bummer and how he is equally a bummer. Many times, our confidence lowers while our inhibitions get the better of us and we find ourselves making foolish mistakes. This is especially present in the opening lyrics to the lyrics to the track, “didn’t think I had the strength to dig my own grave.”

This album definitely has its happy moments like on the song Muscles the Holy Ghost. Before beginning the song, Chris and Masie are laughing together about narwhals and the song is very folky and sincere, talking about how you only need one important friend in your life. I look forward to future recordings from this band.

Advertisements

Bat Country: All Talk

Social Media: bandcamp, Facebook, soundcloud,

Favorite Songs: Contradictions, Marathon, Mac Dre, Oakland, Two Long Years, Vandalove

Bat Country has been around for a couple of years now. It is comprised of former Don’t Panic Members Shane Heimesinger/guitarist Shane Heimerdinger on guitar and vocals, Patrick Kelley on Ukelele, Mandolin, and Banjo, Jared on acoustic bass and trumpet whose last name I’m not familiar with. Other members include Jace on lead guitar and production and Cactus Head on drums.

This album has the peacefulness and elegance of folk music, but the gritty and abrasive undertones of post hardcore punk. In his songwriting, Shane channels the music of his hero, Pat the Bunny of Ramshackle Glory and Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains fame as well as Andrew Jackson Jihad. Bat Country even debuted this album while opening for Andrew Jackson Jihad in a show.

The songs tend to be about a dissatisfaction with the state of things whether it be loneliness in Tribute To Traina or the opposite in Contradictions, living in Reno with the song Oakland, uncertainty of self worth in the song Two Long Years, and attention whores in the song free hugs. It’s a unapologetic personal album that’s great for locals with mentions of smoking weed down by Wingfield Park and other places and instances that may seem familiar to the inhabitants of this town.

All the songs are composed well with Patrick adding nice fills on banjo, ukulele, and Mandolin, and Jared and Cactus Head providing a folk rhythm section that isn’t too heavy handed to drown out the lyrics and giving this album a full sound.

On the whole, this album reminds me of people’s attitudes toward living in Reno. Sure, it may be a let down, but its a let down we’re proud to call our own.

Handsome Vultures: Scraps EP

Social Media: bandcamp, facebook, Reverbnation, Tumblr

Favorite songs: All of them.

Handsome Vultures was the perfect combination of all the trending genres that have appeared in Reno thus far. Their sound combined the ferocity of punk and metal music along with folk and rock. Under their artist page on bandcamp, they considered themselves death folk which sums up the strength of their sound pretty well.

There was a lot of talent going into the collaborative works of Handsome Vultures with a couple members coming from preceding bands in Reno. On this recording, the members consisted of Skye Evans of Last to Leave and Jeffrey Knight is the drummer of Six Mile Station. The other members are Chris Stehman and Fil Xeno of Xenophobes and Jason Ricketts who was in Buster Blue. Finally, there was Ally Reith was in Avian Orphans and Lauren Baker.

Each of their songs has its own uniqueness to it. “High Tide” starts fast and goes into a heavy half time break. It has pirate feel to it that makes you want to drink and flail around the concert house when you hear it. “Broken Record” sounds like a hangover song because too much partying commenced during “High Tide.” Its’ sloshy and groany but has some very peaceful banjo and violin accompaniments. Jeffrey Knight delivers a heavy crashing beat on “Ishua,” which ends with a pounding violin and mandolin outro. This is where the drinking starts again. The final song, “We Wait, We Drop,” is in reference to their band name as they describes themselves as vultures dropping to pick off the dead.

Handsome Vultures was a great band for people who enjoy the local band Actors Killed Lincoln or more popular bands like Tom Waits or Mountain Goats, which they have actually done covers of. Just be sure you aren’t a recovering alcoholic when you listen to them and you should be good.

Last to Leave: Fare Thee Well

Social Media: Facebook, Reverbnation, bandcamp

Favorite Songs: Go, Anasazi, One of Those Long Name Traveling Songs, Never Say Goodbye

75206_662846813738357_2047600570_n

Last to Leave has been playing in Reno for about 8 years now, and their  music resembles the feel of this town very well. There music is a combination of folk, country, Americana, and punk music.

Knowing about the players backgrounds, I approached their music with a bit of wonderment and many a-ha moments where their musical and lyrical choices made much sense. Their saxophone player, Dalton Cason, adds a tranquil, if not almost anthemy vibe to their music, especially in the song, “One of Those Long Name Traveling Songs.” It reminded me a bit of the music of the ska band, Streetlight Manifesto, which me and Patrick used to listen to back in high school.

Their Accordion Player, Melissa McMorran helps to add to the earthy vibe of their tracks, especially in the song, “Go.” Her whole notes help to ground the often fast paced chords of Skye Evans’ guitar strumming and Patrick Kelley banjo plucking. Luke Knudsen is their drummer, whose reserved drumming style and use of brush sticks complements their style very well. He also briefly opens their last song, “Never Say Goodbye,” on his recorder with the melody of “The Shire Song” from the movie, “Lord of the Rings.”

Visceral, driven, and relenting; the soothing melodies of this vagabond band will surely resonate through Reno for many more years to come.

Actors Killed Lincoln: The Land is Unfamiliar

Social Media: Facebook, YouTube, bandcamp

Favorite Songs: Back of a Turtle, Chewy Chewy, Jump the Gun, Head of John The Baptist, Poseidon

If I were to take a train ride along the upper west coast, I would probably include Actors killed Lincoln in my playlist. They’re folk music has a real western American vibe to it, which is very fitting for a Nevada band. Their cover art even has a picture of a mountain desertesque landscape.They credit their sound as being a mix (or a typhoon swell if you will) of folk, punk, rock, and gypsy. All of these elements are present in their full sound.

Their members are comprised of Alan Lyons on violin, his brother Daniel  on accordion, Jenkins Robinson on drums, Matthew Kaminski playing cello and bass, Zachary Rees playing horn and sax, and vocalist/guitarist Kent Irwin.

Many of their songs are reminiscent of anthems with a quick steady beat accompanied by with plenty of woah-oh-oh sounds from backing vocals. The violin cello constantly hammer away at notes by the virtuosic Lyons and Kaminski, often going between fast paced triplets or sixteenth notes. This is the kind of music that classics such as “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” we’re built upon.

Irwin’s lyrics are often very visceral and profound, ranging from a tattered relationship where a couple constantly threatens each other with guns in the song, “Jump the Gun.” Other lyrics are very punky as in the song “Head of John the Baptist,” with lyrics like, “I saw god in the corner of the temple selling weed and eating poison apples, so I went to the king who was a real pastor and said how much will you pay me for the head of john the Baptist?” It is then followed by an explosive and climactic finish and screams from all of the band members before it’s finish. It only takes 1 minute and 57 seconds to deliver the intensity of the song before the big finish.

Each song on this record is brought forth by esteem and relentless energy from all of its members. I have had the opportunity to see these guys a couple of times and chose not to but I only wish I could’ve made it to one of their shows to see the amount of ferocity and stage presence that is encompassed in their tracks. They are an explosive American band, with their own punk applied taste to American music and are one of the many great bands in Reno that shouldn’t go by unnoticed.

Stabby Unicorn: Licking the Magic Castle

Social Media: facebook, bandcamp, twitter

Favorite Songs: Capacity, Camaro, I ❤ You Mr. Smith.

Stabby Unicorn is a really fun and unique band. They’re sound is reminiscent of the 1980’s with a sound the ranges from new wave to the more punky style known as dark wave. Bands that come to mind when listening to these guys include The New Order, Talking Heads, and The B-52’s. Stabby Unicorn is comprised of singer/guitarist Eric Foreman, his wife Daisy Foreman on drums, and their close friend Rhiannon Box, who plays keyboards and also provides vocals.

One of the great things about this band is that there sound can change dramatically from song to song. Some of their songs, like Brush the Face have a more somber tone, while other songs like Capacity are really upbeat and have that feel of surf punk. There song Camaro  starts off with some dark and wavy tones accompanied by Eric Foreman’s low pitched guitar wailing before he starts singing. The song is reminiscent of a couple that have a hard time communicating. “I don’t want to be on a different page. I don’t want to be the rage.” The drums then steadily increase as Eric Foreman’s guitar wailing because more sporadic and tantalizing.  Some of there other songs have a very familiar indie pop sound like “I ❤ You Mr. Smith” with fast and heavy guitar chords that sound like Arctic Monkeys or The Strokes.

Stabby Unicorn is definitely worth checking out if you get the chance!

Peace.

Brendan Aguiar aka Reno’s Biggest Little Music Nerd