Tag Archives: Cayucas

Sheppard EP Review

sheppard

Sheppard – Geronimo EP Review

Riding a huge wave of success fresh on the heels of their smashing breakthrough hit single, “Geronimo” I was intrigued by this fresh six-piece Brisbane, Australia band.

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As the catchy lyrics bounced around in my head, I had an instant thirst to hear more. Were they a one-hit wonder, or rather an artist that truly deserved a spot on our new music radar?

It didn’t take long to get my answer. This band has “it” and we are going to be listening as their sumptuous pop rock dominates the alternative rock airwaves for years to come. If you’re not nodding your head, tapping your feet and smiling incessantly when listening to this band, you just don’t have a pulse, because the Geronimo EP is absolutely filled with poppy, cheerful indie-pop rock that’s a blast to listen to.  And, let me be clear, this is not toss-away bubble-gum rock, this band has plenty of artistic talent.

In Australia, they are dominating the charts, but in the US, most of us have only heard “Geronimo,” the title track from this EP. It’s an addictive rocker that is all over the radio. Tribal beats, soaring synths, clever guitar riffs, powerful vocals and dreamy boy/girl harmonies. It’s probably the best effort on the EP, but all of the other tracks are compelling in their own way, as well.

“Flying Away” is a fun rocker, with the best vocals on the EP. Powered by great keys and hard-driving drums, it’s got a bit of a harder edge at times, but at its essence is another catchy pop rock hit-in-the-waiting. Next, we hear a more tender offering, “Smile,” a bouncy pop tune with purely Australian female vocals. I absolutely guarantee that this intoxicating tune finds it’s way onto American commercials in short time.

The EP closes with a more diverse offering. “Something Missing” is performed at a lower key, but is just as captivating. Acoustic guitars dominate, and the song features a slick surf guitar feel. It brought back pleasant memories of RARA’s Farm favorite’s The Mowgli’s and Cayucas. Good, good stuff!

It’s excellent pop-rock, if you’re one of our fans more into heavy rock, you probably won’t love the EP, but fans of Indie rock and Alt rock need to get Sheppard on their radar. After sampling the music, I’m anxiously awaiting a full-length from this band, and am quite curious to see how this fun invigorating music translates live on stage. In the meantime, I’ll be wearing these four tracks out, and suggest you grab them below, and do the same.

Bombs away…

Rock On!
Cretin

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Top Rock Albums of 2013

The Best Rock Albums of 2013

(Also, make sure you check out our Best Rock Songs of 2013)

Lots of strong music again this year across the rock music landscape, but truthfully, there were only a handful of superb albums from start to finish.  I’m not sure that’s really a bad thing, as in today’s digital download world, an album is less important as the delivery mechanism for excellent music.

My list is a lot different than all of those at the big time websites. That’s because they’re smarter, and I have better taste in music.  Check out the list and let us know what we missed; and if you’re new to RARA’s Farm, we are Rock And Roll Animals, and this is where we hang out, and we’d love to have you join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or right here in the Comments section.

Just like our list of the Best Songs of 2013, each album is linked to iTunes if you want to check it out or purchase it.

Here’s our Top two dozen:

Bonus Selection: Where the Kids Are – EP – Blondfire – Not technically an album, but every one of these four songs is superb. Hopefully we’ll see a full-length soon from this dynamic brother-sister combo who mix good old American rock with Brazilian influences.  Best tracks: Waves, Where The Kids Are, Hide And Seek. (Read the RARA’s review here)

24. Damage – Jimmy Eat World  – There’s something to be said for consistency. These four Arizona lads have been together for eight albums and twenty years. Their sound has softened and sweetened a bit, but it’s still good stuff. Best tracks: Lean, Book Of Love, I Will Steal You Back.

23. The 1975 – The 1975 – It’s not perfect, in fact, I feel the music is a little slicker and less raw than I’d prefer from these lads from Manchester, but there’s some creative artistry for sure from Matthew Healy and the band. Best Tracks: Chocolate, Sex, Girls.

22. Paramore – Paramore – The band’s first Farro-free effort, as brothers Zac and Josh left the band after their third album.  The music revolves around Hayley Williams’ vocals, but it also offers a refreshingly rougher sound at times (as well as some fluffy stuff I typically skip over). Best tracks: Fast In My Car, Now, Anklebiters.

21. The Next Day – David Bowie – Bowie is back with his 24th studio album. It’s a nice offering, hearkening back to some of his earlier sounds. Pop rock songs, with meaningful lyrics about our world today. Best tracks: Day, You Will Set The World On Fire, The Next Day.

20. By the Lamplight – Larry and His Flask – Hillbilly, Cajun punk at its finest. These guys have a unique raucous sound and are an absolute blast, a different kind of blast for sure, but that’s what we love about rock ‘n roll. Best tracks: Pandemonium, Home of The Slave, Out Of Print. (Read the RARA’s review here)

19. The Bones of What You Believe – CHVRCHES – Just love Lauren Mayberry’s vulnerable vocals, but there’s a lot more to this trio from Scotland. One of the best new Alt-Rocks on the scene this year. Best tracks: The Mother We Share, Lies, Under The Tide.

18. Revolution – Jupiter Falls – The album highlights the band’s diversity; at times they sound like 70′s or 80′s classic rock, current era Alt-hardcore, or turn of the century metal. Fantastic guitar work, memorable licks and powerful vocals throughout. Best tracks: Forgiven, To The Point, Story Of A Liar. (Read the RARA’s review here)

17. AM – Arctic Monkeys – This, their fifth album is a showcase for guitarist Jamie Cook and continues to show their evolution as a band.  Not their best effort ever, but still excellent Alr-rock with a snarl.  Best tracks: Do I Wanna Know? R U Mine? Mad Sounds.

16. Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies – Volbeat – Heavy metal with a rockability twist from these Danish rockers. Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano makes a great first impression for this band that is rocketing up the heavy metal scene. Best tracks: My Body (Young The Giant cover), Lola Montez, Pearl Heart

15. Reflektor – Arcade Fire – Without a doubt, my most anticipated release of the year. It’s a bit pretentios, and not as good as their previous offerings, but there’s plenty to like on this one as the Montreal rockers continue to push their limits. Best tracks: Normal Person, Flashbulb Eyes, Afterlife.

14. Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold – One of America’s best metal bands continues to evolve. A bit more commercial than their earlier stuff, but they don’t sacrifice any of their core values. Best tracks: Acid Rain, Hail To The King, This Means War.

13. Night Visions – Imagine Dragons – This is actually a late 2012 release, but we didn’t listen until this year when it became the most successful new Alt-rock offering in years. Best tracks: Hear Me, It’s Time, Demons.

And, our Top Dozen:

12. Signed and Sealed in Blood – Dropkick Murphys – These blue collar Irish punk rockers continue to defy expectations. In this, their seventeenth year, they release their most main stream offering. A few big hits on a very deep album. Best tracks: : The Boys Are Back, Rose Tattoo, Burn.

11. The Sticks – Mother Mother – From the stark opening notes of the ethereal “The Omen,” this album grabs your attention and locks you in for a forty-eight minute journey through genre-defining rock ‘n roll. Best tracks: Bit By Bit, Let’s Fall In Love, Dread In My Heart. (Read the RARA’s review here)

10. Shangri La – Jake Bugg – Bugg’s distinctive voice is not for everyone, but I love it, and the way the 19 year-old churns out poppy punk-infused ditties. Best tracks: Slumville Sunrise, What Doesn’t Kill You, Me An d You.

9. Bigfoot – Cayucas – The album, the brainchild of singer Zach Yudin, has an absolutely distinctive Alt-Rock sound highlighted by a cool sixties surf vibe that dominates their intriguing ethereal debut. Best tracks: Cayucos, High School Lover, Will The Thrill. (Read the RARA’s review here)

8. Vessel – twenty one pilots – This duo has a sound all to themselves. A little ukulele, killer drums, sweet keyboards and Tyler Joseph’s infectiously unique vocals power the band’s first major label release. Best tracks: Migraine, House of Gold, Holding On To You.

7. Twistification – The Last Royals – It’s an absolute blast to listen to as this duo just churns out fun, catchy rock tunes. Still cannot fathom why this one did not explode on the music scene, with a half-dozen potential hits on the album. Best tracks: Friday Night, All Over Again, I Hate California. (Read the RARA’s review here)

6. I Love You. – The Neighbourhood – No album this year starts off as strongly as this one. The first three songs are all stellar tracks.  The rest of the album is pretty damn good. A slinky dirty and absolutely addictive debut. Best tracks: Sweater Weather, Female Robbery, Afraid.

5. Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend – In general, it’s a bit more stripped down than their excellent first two albums, but there are exceptions, like the rollicking Diane Young that make every song a sonic surprise. Best tracks: Diane Young, Unbelievers, Everlasting Arms.

4. Waiting For the Dawn – The Mowgli’s – This album is a masterpiece. It’s a cool summer groove just overflowing with sweet rock ‘n roll gems and in a refreshing change from much of the music dominating today’s airwaves, The Mowgli’s offer up a host of tracks about love, hope and unity. Best tracks: San Francisco, Time, Emily. (Read the RARA’s review here)

3. Melophobia – Cage the Elephant – The term melophobia means fear of music, but there’s nothing to fear on this release. On this, their third album, Cage The Elephant continues to evolve as one of this country’s premier rock bands. Their 2011 release, Thank You, Happy Birthday was our album of the year, this one was close…  Best tracks: Spiderhead, Telescope, It’s Just Forever. (Read the RARA’s review here)

2. Blunderstone Rookery – Stephen Kellogg – I used to be annoyed reading through these lists and finding an author who spotlighted a little known artist near the top of their list. Now, I’ve done it myself, but this album from an uber-talented singer-songwriter is absolutely deserving of its lofty ranking. The collection of songs is as creative as it is supremely enjoyable. It’s a rambling tour through Kellogg’s memories and a great listen.  Best tracks: Thanksgiving, Good Ol’ Days, Forgive You Forgive Me. (Read the RARA’s review here)

1. Tape Deck Heart – Frank Turner – This was almost pre-ordained. Turner is a former punk front man turned rock ‘n roll troubadour. He’s a talented vocalist, guitar player and maybe the best lyricist in the business.  Tape Deck Heart is a rare marriage of stirring song-writing and creative passionate music. Turner is a talented poet, sincere story-teller and tremendous musician and this album is the first time he’s put it all together. Fabulously diverse stuff that demands attention. Best tracks: Four Simple Words, Recovery, Good & Gone, Oh Brother, and many more… (Read the RARA’s review here)

So, there you have it, the best rock albums of 2013. Let us know what you think. What did we nail? Where did we fail? And, make  sure you check out our Best Songs of 2013, too.

Rock On!
Cretin

Best Rock Songs of 2013

2013 best rock songs

The Best Rock Songs of 2013

(Make sure you check out our Top Rock Albums 0f 2013)

2013 was a year packed with interesting entertaining rock offerings.  Most commercial radio seems fixated on synth-driven, watered-down, safe music for the masses.  At times, I’m a sucker for that stuff, too, but far more often, I enjoy my rock with a little guitar, as you’ll see below…

Click on the sing titles to check out and grab your own copy of each song.

Bonus Track: Golden, Holly Maher – Our own BrokenBirdie sums this one up perfectly: This Nashville native “really knows how to mix sassy and sweet perfectly…” Maher is not an easy fit into our rock ‘n roll genre, but she’s a blossoming singer songwriter with lots of potential.

24. What Doesn’t Kill You – Jake Bugg – Garage rock 21st Century style. This 19 year-old has a great sound, sometimes punk, sometimes folksy, and this is the best offering from his second album.

23. Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys – Really like the guitar intro on this one, and just love the focus on Alex Turner’s vocals, which are his best yet.

22. Safe and Sound – Capital Cities – An example of the synth and drum machine recipe that dominates today’s airwaves, but this one is creative and catchy. 

21. Harlem – New Politics – A bit of a guilty pleasure. Bubble gum rock, but it’s got infectious lyrics and a memorable guitar riff that you’ll never get out of your head.

20. High School Lover – Cayucas – This one has a slick late 60′s surf rock feel which fits this band from Santa Monica perfectly.

19. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend – It’s a great showcase for Ezra Koenig’s vocals, and unbelievably, this is actually the band’s highest charting song of their career.

18. 17 Crimes – AFI – This one is carried by Adam Carson’s drums. It’s got a great singalong chorus about a nasty topic. I should have moved this up to #17 just for the symmetry.

17. Recovery – Frank Turner – It’s fun catchy song with deep meaningful lyrics from one of today’s best rock ‘n roll poets from Tape Deck Heart, one of this year’s best albums.

16. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood – The first single off of their debut album I Love You and it was a breath of fresh air on the Alt-Rock scene. The first of two tracks from the West Coast band on the list.

15. Wake Me Up – Avicii – My wife rarely turns me on to excellent new rock, but this is an exception. This one makes a great driving song, but it’s excellent in any environment and crosses so many musical genres. Love the music bed…

14. Drive Me Home – The Reason – A big rocker from a veteran Canadian band who sound like Kings of Leon, just with a little more talent and a lot more passion and less pretentiousness.

13. Deal with the Devil – Pop Evil – Reminds me a bit of Alice and Chains which is always a good thing. Love Leigh Kakaty’s vocals, but the music from his band mates is even better.

12. Diane Young – Vampire Weekend – Bit of a different feel, where Koenig’s vocals highlight early; and then the song masterfully devolves into a clever mash-up of sounds eerily reminiscent of the late 80’s dance remixes from Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

11. Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold – Best hard rock band around, and this song is a prime example why. Searing guitar solos, hard driving rhythm and killer vocals.

10. Cut Me Some Slack – “Nirvana” featuring Paul McCartney – OK, I named the band… It’s Dave Grohl’s fantastic contribution to Sound City. Paul bringing back haunting “Helter Skelterish” vocals accompanied by the living members of Nirvana, and it works amazingly well.

10. Waves – Blondfire – It’s a great summer vibe, and a tune that highlights the beautiful vocals of Erica Driscoll and an absolutely mesmerizing groove.

9. Bit By Bit – Mother Mother – One of today’s most underrated bands, and this provocative quirky song is the best one from their fantastic album The Sticks. It’s aggressive Alt-rock with a unique blend of boy-girl vocals.

8. Lola Montez – Volbeat – Killer guitar work from new addition Rob Caggiano (Anthrax) and an excellent spotlight for Michael Poulsen’s powerful and distinctive vocals.

7. The Boys Are Back – Dropkick Murphys – Bagpipes and a rousing chorus power this rocker. Just love Ken Casey’s beautifully ragged and harsh vocals. It’s Irish rock at its best, well almost…

6. House of Gold – Twenty One Pilots – Ukelele driven ode to Tyler Glenn’s mother featuring his quirky but perfectly fitting vocals as this duo continues their ascension into rock stardom.

5. Rose Tattoo – Dropkick MurphysThis is Irish rock at its best. Tender mandolin opening with more of a classic Irish story teller vibe and a memorable chorus. They also released a version with Springsteen on vocals as a Boston Marathon victims’ fundraiser which is just as good as the original.

4. Thanksgiving – Stephen Kellogg – It’s a masterpiece, a ten minute masterpiece, but worth every second of it. Poignant, meaningful lyrics, passionate vocals and superb music. This one should become the definitive Thanksgiving song.

3. San Francisco – The Mowgli’s – A positive, happy, upbeat song, and it’s just fun as hell. This octet delivers a wall of sound, and the music is simply addictive. A great song made better by the great vibe.

2. Afraid – The Neighbourhood – Jesse Rutherford’s vulnerable vocals and deeply introspective lyrics are fantastic, and the song is absolutely great. It is the highlight track from the band’s excellent debut I Love You.

1. Four Simple Words – Frank Turner – This one starts with soft piano accompanied by acoustic guitar, then evolves into a raucous punk rock throwdown. It’s everything wonderful about rock ‘n roll wrapped up into one song. Oh, and the lyrics are perfect, too.

 

There you have it. My list… What did I miss? Let me know in he comments below, and make sure you Follow Us on Twitter and Like our Facebook for rock music updates all year long.

Rock On!
Cretin

Sweet Summer Rock Sampler


RARA’s FARM’s 2013 Songs of Summer

Here you go, the first rock ‘n roll summer sampler, RARA’s FARM style.  Twelve new rock songs that should either get you in the mood for summer, or if you’re already there, be part of your 2013 summer soundtrack.  You can click on the title to download the tune for iTunes, or make the leap of faith and download all dozen at the end of the article.  You’ll see a heavy tilt to bands from the West Coast and from The Great White North.

Take a look/listen and let us know your thoughts.  Special thanks to occasional contributor Chris Carey who recommended a few of these selections.

Bonus track: It’s Time (iTunes Session) – Imagine Dragons – You’ve all heard this one before, but not like this. A very cool acoustic version.

Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker – A definite country feel to this Old Crow Medicine Show remake. Think this one will be the song that defines the Summer of 2013.

Summer Paradise (feat. MKTO) – Simple Plan – A softer side to these Alt-Rock veterans, but another cool song.  This is one that has a nice reggae/ska feel to it. Our first of a bunch of Canadian acts on the list.

Waves – Blondfire – When we reviewed this EP, we noted that this track was the perfect song of summer. Listen yourself and see what you think of this LA-based brother/sister duo. EP Review here

San Francisco – The Mowgli’s – They actually took their name from The Jungle Book character, If that isn’t enough, it’s a fun, poppy rock song with a lot of interesting musical “stuff” going on thanks to the eight piece band from So Cal.

High School Lover – Cayucas – This one has a slick late 60’s surf rock feel which fits this band from Santa Monica. The entire Bigfoot album has a similar vibe. Check out our album review, too.

Awkward (EP Version) – San Cisco – Another fun tune, this one from from last year, and a guilty pop-rock pleasure. Love the boy/girl vocal trade-offs from these Aussies.

Art & A Wife – Rah Rah – another Boy/Girl vocal combo from North of the border.  It’s a cool rocker from this Saskatchewan sextet, with a nice mixture of rollicking good times and tender vocals. Oh, and let’s not ignore that their name is oh so close to ours.

Harlem – New Politics – Simply stated, it’s good old fun pop rock. Great singalong verse and a cool memorable guitar riff from this Denmark import.

Only the Brave – The Last Royals – A fun summer love song from Eric James and Mason Ingram off of a fantastic debut album. Check out our Twistification review.

Michigan Left – Arkells – Love this band’s guitar and retro alt-rock sound. This one is actually more than a year -old, but new to my ears.  Love the chorus which conjures up nice INXS memories. Yup, Canadians, too.

Born To Ruin – Wildlife – Love the big drums that kick off this tune, and the song is just a damn good time from that point on. Another impressive young Canadian band.

Drive Me Home – The Reason – Let’s close with this big rocker which begs comparisons of a more hip Kings of Leon. Good stuff.

As a bonus, here are two more nice choices, and songs which are also appealing fundraisers for good causes.

Thanks, let us know your thoughts below, and remember to Like Us and Follow Us while you;re here.

And now, the entire RARA’s FARM dozen:


Cayucas – The New Sound of Summer


Cayucas Bigfoot Album Review

Once I learned that Cayucas is a hip Southern California surf town, I immediately understood the derivation of this intriguing band’s name. The band, the brainchild of Zach Yudin, has an absolutely distinctive Alt-Rock sound highlighted by a cool sixties surf vibe that dominates their intriguing debut album, Bigfoot.

Cayucas - Bigfoot Album Cover
Cayucas – Bigfoot Album Cover

“Cayucos” kicks off the Bigfoot and nicely sets the tone.  It’s a catchy tune that just drips with Southern California cool.  It’s a creative song that just gets better with every playing.  Yudin’s superb writing coupled with Richard Swift’s fantastic production help set this song and the entire album apart from anything else on the market today.

The first single from the album, “High School Lover,” is a captivating microcosm of the album. It’s part Beach Boys, part Vampire Weekend, and 100% original and entertaining. The song features tribal drum beats, fun vocals and catchy lyrics, creating a stripped-down addictive gem.  It’s the spotlight selection on an album that is going to be a 2013 summer highlight.

Two other excellent tracks are “A Summer Thing” and “Will the Thrill.” The first actually conjures up classic images of the late 60’s music of The Crystals with a modern twist, and the latter a more comfortable alternative rock groove with a slick surf guitar. On these songs and throughout the album, we see creative diversity that sets Cayucas apart from anything else on the market today.

Bigfoot should appeal to anyone looking for a cool summer album and is destined for the same breakthrough success we experienced with Jack Johnson’s 2001 debut and Vampire Weekend’s first effort in 2008.  It’s a distinctive and polished debut destined to be a summer staple for years to come.

Check it out and buy it on iTunes below.

Rock On!
Cretin