The lovechild of a studio experiment that was never meant to make it out into the wild, Los Angeles' American Royalty constructs an unlikely yet glowingly functional blend of dark garage rock and poignant electronica. This creative soundscape is topped off by the two vocal leads of Marc Gilfry and Billy Scher, whose pipes both seem to fall somewhere in the realm of where eerie and soul meet back on the other side; altogether resulting in one of the most innovative sounds to haunt independent music today.
The psychedelic blues-rock three piece has already begun making their mark on the road over the past year, turning heads in the touring circuit with their unorthodox stage set up, a penchant for sprinkling in reworked bits of both the classic and obscure, and an explosively energetic and entrancingly unique live performance.
This is Calvin Love: He started a punk band in the northern Canadian city of Edmonton at the age of thirteen. The oppressively long, dark, and cold winters kept him indoors making madcap music while summer nights found him tearing up the sleepy streets with rock ‘n’ roll fueled adrenaline. Friends would say he was born with a rebel heart.
After the early years, he left town and has been on the road for the last five years touring dive bars and clubs throughout the US, playing in various bands in and out of Los Angeles. During this time, he managed to create a collage of visions, sounds, and scattered tracks while writing and recording in his bedroom studio, motels, bus stations, or wherever the road happened to lead.
This is Calvin’s first foray into a solo career. Armed with a 4-track, mics, computer machine, keyboards and guitar, Calvin has laid down his debut record New Radar, due to be released this fall on Autumn Tone Records. With backing influences of pop and dance music of the 50’s and 60’s, as well as the punk/electronic/new wave of the late 70’s and 80’s, Calvin Love’s music is a sonic escape into psychological mysteries and enlightened tales of love and death.
For what it’s worth, Calvin’s interests lie in photography, aesthetics, the paranormal, technological adaptations, pirates, The Goonies, zombie apocalypse, Jarmusch, strange states, dancing girls, sleepless nights, D.I.Y., Iggy, Bowie, tombs, hitchhiking,
The New Division
The New Division began as a college dorm room project for songwriter John Kunkel back in 2005. After moving from Uruguay (where he resided for 18 years) to Southern California. Kunkel began experimenting with synthesizers after being heavily influenced by the sounds of Joy Division, New Order, and Depeche Mode. Originally, the name "New Division" was meant as an artist working title for songs that would never be released. Within a few months Kunkel developed a series of songs that attracted other fellow college students at California Baptist University. By the end of 2007, the one man New Division project had transformed into a four piece. Michael Janz (aka "Janzie" by friends) was the first member to be added after Kunkel discovered the two shared common interests in musical tastes. Shortly thereafter both began playing mini-shows in their college dorm which eventually attracted a number of students, including Brock Woolsey who would later be recruited for an on campus battle of the bands to play guitar. After succesfully acheiving first place, The New Division started gaining attention in their local city of Riverside, CA. They were asked to play at several local venues, including the well adored "Back to the Grind" coffee house. During one of their many shows at this location the band met Mark Michalski, who at the time was a dedicated fan of the group. Kunkel, seeing the need for an additional keyboardist recruited Michalski who later played an integral part in shaping the band's sound.
Currently, The New Division is John Kunkel (vocals), Brock Woolsey (guitars), Janzie (synths), and Mark Michaslki (synths). With over 300 songs in their "demo roster," the band is continually writing new material on a regular basis. "We believe the best way to make good music is to write a lot," says frontman John Kunkel. "I wake up every day with fresh ideas, and I seek out sources of inspiration. Sometimes, I'll write three songs in a day if I have the time. It's what I love doing. It's therapeutic."
While Kunkel focuses on the production and songwriting aspect of the band, the other members play a vital role in developing their live performance and sound. "We used to be crappy live, I won't lie," says Janzie. "But we've come such a long way from what we used to be. Whereas before we just plugged in an ipod and pressed play for certain tracks, we're now doing basically what Deadmau5 does with Ableton. The only difference is that we're a four piece, we're new wavish, and we sometimes use a live drummer [Kenny Wells]."
2011 may be the brightest year for the band to date. Already receiving critical acclaim for "The Rookie" EP, the band has big plans. Currently, the Californian outfit is working on a follow-up to the Rookie, possibly another EP. Their next single, "True Lies" will be available in April. Kunkel calls it their "best single yet." "It's quite a mixture of genres, but it blends hip hop with electro. It's very dark, but extremly catchy. Everyone we've showed it to says its their favorite."
Whether you're new to these boys, or you've been playing them on your ipod since their early days, The New Divison garners the respect of listeners who crave for nostalgia with a modern twist. They won't let you down.
People say there's something about brother music, an ingredient that makes the harmonies soar higher and the beats slam harder. It's not really something you can pin down or describe in words—it's something you have to hear. Whether it comes from siblings growing up sharing a room, or from a listener hoping for something different, Writer has it. The Brooklyn based duo Andy and James Ralph, bashes, crashes, strums and shouts its way through songs that are scummy cement floor odes to real life, sung through aquarium glass to the prettiest girls they'll never meet.
The band wasn't always just the brothers. The sonic limitations of being a duo didn't fit with their heavy vision, so James and Andy enlisted first one, then two, fellow musicians before realizing that they could make all the noise they needed on their own. This is perhaps most evident in their ultra frenetic live show, with James slamming away at a floor tom with a tambourine while pounding at the kick and playing a synthesizer—a true one man rhythm section—and Andy wailing into the mic and strumming his guitar or putting in time on keyboards. The brothers say they struggle with having only their own two hands to play with, particularly because they "try to record everything as close to live as possible," according to Andy, on a 4-track recorder in their house.
"A comfortable place between garage-rock and lo-fi surf-pop… these guys have definitely found a sound that works." - Filter Magazine
"...a Neil Young old vocal melody captured on a four track with sentimental scruff, some kinda dirty flanger, and SoCal fried noise aesthetics." - Impose Magazine
"A loud, scruffy bear hug of music, propelled by a refreshingly airy and organic drum boom paired with a liberally employed borderline haphazard tambourine shimmer." - Vice / Noisey