Single of the Week: Mags’ “Basement”

Former Malones’ bassist Elliott Douglas has launched a raucous, garage-pop solo outfit under the moniker, Mags. And it’s absolutely great. Buffalo has a fine, recent history of putting out raw, Strokes-inspired indie pop, and Mags is here to further the collective.

“Basement” is as straightforward as it gets. Musically, lyrically, and stylistically, Douglas gets right to the point. Over the 2/4 hopping chorus, he belts “I know you can do better than me,” while the fuzzed guitars ring out punk rock chords. There are no questions, no ambiguity of what Mags is about: raw, pure rock ‘n’ roll. As the Rolling Stones put it, “I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.” And it’s that same simplicity that echoes through Mags’ “Basement.” This energetic, punk-meets-indie is sure to stick in your head and find its way into half of your playlists.


Recommended for fans of: The Strokes, Made Violent, Parquet Courts

Buy the single:
Follow the band:

Catch them live:
Oct 16 (tba)


EPs: No Vacancy (s/t)

Don’t be fooled by their age, this is a serious alternative pop/rock force that is slowly turning heads and garnering attention across WNY. Honestly, these guys are really, really, really good.

Now, I don’t need to say it, but I will. Judging from mere photographs, a lot of people may write the band off as a bunch of high school kids making loud music in their garage. They look like a million bands around the country doing the same thing (ever see that Weezer cover?). But before you make your auditorium talent show one off assumptions, actually listen  to this EP. Bask in the sunny, bass-driven “Chasing Reason,” dance to the instrumental, high-energy “Funk Song,” or wave your lighter to “Broken.” It’s all so great; however, the strongest track here, “Drown,” gives the greatest implications of not only what No Vacancy are doing, but where they’re going. The song’s obvious Cobain-influences are compelling. Living proof that Nirvana still affects kids the way they did back in the 90s. The ominous oohs and gradual buildup explode with Sosnowski’s massive riffing, crafting an alt pop instant classic. And Tuck croons and dives, with a monotoned hush, resembling a  laid-back Rivers Cuomo. His vocals are incredibly strong, and the rest of the bandmates’ are every bit as strong. This band has an incredible amount of potential, and if this EP says anything, it’s that their next release will be brilliant.

Recommended for fans of: Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Weezer

Buy the album:
Follow the band:

Catch them live:
Oct. 7-Waiting Room (Studio)

no vac

LPs: Mooses’ “Tales From the Elephant’s Nest”

It all opens with hazy plucked-out chords, and Cahlstadt’s one-of-a-kind vocals. The sound of lazy exhaustion, like the end of a long, adventurous summer. As the drums build and DeMartino’s beautiful lead lines escalate, we’re roped into Mooses’ world. And it’s a strange, beautiful, colorful world. The track is an odd way to begin an album, as it feels more in media res than an overture or grand opening, but Mooses aren’t exactly the kind of band to employ cliche techniques. When the dust settles, we’re graced with the opening falsetto oohs and chorus-effected guitars of “Bette Davis,” the album’s most ..pop.. moment. Showcasing Cahlstadt’s inflected vocals, the song drives you along through the Mooses’ psych pop exhibit at breakneck speeds for about three minutes and drops off into an abyss. In rebirth and rebuild, we’re pulled out of the abyss and back onto the road and accelerate forward.

“Bette Davis” isn’t just a song, it’s a journey.

From there, Mooses pull every influence from the bag and deconstruct 3/4 psych jams and post-punk bursts of energy, vasolating between Pink Floyd and the Pixies in one song (“Blackwash”). The trippy, fuzz-blues, acid jam of “In Case They’re Wonderin'” prove Mooses’ affinity for oddball synths and massive leads. The song is so overdriven that every instrument meshes together in a perfect burst of color and light. It’s blistering. Just blistering. And they’re “doin’ fine.” After its massive outro chords, “Psilovoir” comes to calm and comfort, like a lullaby in the aftermath of a hurricane.

“Tales From the Elephant’s Nest” is more than just an album. It’s a manifesto. A how-to book. If you’re going to write a psych/alternative/indie album, just do this exactly. Somehow, they’ve given us everything we know about music and made it sound like nothing we’ve ever heard before. It’s almost perfect in composition, in execution, and in relevance. It’s in another world. This is the album all other Buffalo albums this year will be judged by.


Recommended for fans of Tame Impala, Yuck, Flaming Lips

Buy the album:
Follow the band:

Catch them live:
Sept. 27- The EBC (Fredonia, NY)
Oct. 2- The Forvm (Buffalo, NY)

Single of the Week: Ellsworth’s “Lisa”

Following in the footsteps of Modern Baseball and The Hotelier, Ellsworth is resuscitating the genre that went so flat and lifeless in the last decade. With their raw energy and powerful tracks Ellsworth bring us back to the days of SDRE and American Football. Powerful drums, crunchy rhythms, searing leads, and Wheeler’s inflectious, infectious vocals on this debut single introduce what is and what will be Ellsworth. It’s raw and dirty, with enough energy to power Buffalo for a month. And it’s as strong as it is raw. Ellsworth have burst through the gate with “Lisa,” and it seems like there won’t be much to stop them.


Recommended for fans of:
Modern Baseball, Brand New, Sunny Day Real Estate

Buy the single:
Follow the band:

Catch them live:
Sept. 27- Rock the Commons (Fredonia, NY)- *EP RELEASE*


EPs: The Gentleman’s Quarrel’s “Sam”

I know it came out a while ago, but Renaissance hasn’t exactly been around very long (we’re on week 3 here), and no self-respecting review/blog could skip such an essential EP.

There’s something in the air when GQ performs. Some kind of ethereal energy that straightens every neck, fixates every eye, contracts every arrector pili, and stiffens every knee in the room. You won’t find kids staring at their cell phones or giving bad vibes when GQ has the floor. No one can look away. Maybe it’s Huntz’s wild-animal drumming, or Joe Bennett’s impossible basslines, or Killian’s angular, complex rhythm chords. The only thing that’s certain about the Quarrel is that they’re the tightest, most rhythmic indie rock trio to ever grace Buffalo. Technically speaking alone, there’s enough musicianship on this EP to tip Berklee upside down. But even before the musicianship, the composition is mind-boggling enough: tempo changes, odd-rhythms, and ear-tingling melodies all weave and warp and twist into one of the best EPs Buffalo has ever seen. With as much dance as its darkness, “Sam” walks the fine, fine line between the melancholy and the joyous. It’s like being miserable but rejoicing in the miracle that you have the capacity to feel such heavy emotion. Like Joy Division and Interpol before them, The Gentleman’s Quarrel effortlessly combine the tones of despair with the backbeats of celebration. “Sam” is an honoring of life, even the terrible things that happen in it. And we can all find ourselves in Sam.

I could honestly write for hours about why this EP is so undeniably wonderful, but it might just be better to let you find out for yourself. “Sam” will be your new best friend by the end of the day for sure.


Recommended for fans of: Interpol, Two Door Cinema Club

Stream the EP:
The Gentleman’s Quarrel – Sam – EP
Follow the band:


Single of the Week: Kill The Clock’s “Me Too”

Ever since I first saw Kill the Clock live at the YV2 Christmas show, they’ve been one of my favorite live bands in the area. From there, I saw them do an entire set of Beatles covers, don cowboy outfits, and play Strokes songs almost as well as the Strokes. Each of their songs have this inescapably lovable quality, like hearing all of your favorite music from high school all at once. And “Me Too” is no exception. From the intro staccato grooves to the massive power chords, “Me Too” is everything you loved about pop punk’s early days and everything you adored (pun very, very intended) about Brit pop’s late days. Morganti’s leads explode, and McCormick and Hoare’s back-and-forth put the band’s chemistry on display here. Despite forming just a year ago, Kill the Clock sounds like they’ve been playing together for years, and that’s largely due to Tutuska’s infallible drum prowess. If you can get past the muddy production, Kill The Clock might just suffice your need for an Oasis reunion.

Overall, the song excels in composition and musicianship, but you really have to see KTC live to know what it’s all about. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes for most local acts. But seriously, get to their shows. I guarantee you won’t regret it.


Recommended for fans of: Oasis, The Strokes, Blink 182

Stream the song:
Follow the band:

LPs: CrashFuse’s “Between You, Me, and the Lamppost”

It’s a strange world we live in, isn’t it?

Well, the music industry is even stranger these days. Ever since indie went pop, the whole rhythm (pun very much intended) of it all has been disrupted, and I really can’t tell you if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I also can’t tell you if it’s because of Nirvana or streaming services, but that’s pretty far from the point. Regardless, we wouldn’t have CrashFuse without it.

Since the indie pop explosion, countless bands have been trying to cut the crossover hit that alternative radio stations (Does Buffalo have the only one that isn’t XM?) adore and facebook fans plaster across their timelines, and most of the bands that achieve this end up one-hit-wonders.

Enter CrashFuse. This album could easily spawn 11 of those hits (track 7 is an instrumental interlude that may even be one of the best tracks here). With angular rhythm guitars, powerful drum tracks, spacey leads, Hornberger’s melodramatic vocals, and a few little acoustic numbers, CrashFuse have all the ingredients for a big hit here.

Now, many will say (and I tend to agree) that filling an album with all singles that have such a long run-time (the album clocks in at 45+ minutes) can detract from the fluidity and cohesiveness of a work. But, we’re not in 1995 anymore, and CrashFuse understand that. They’re catering to the audience that surrounds them. Whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, people are going to love this album. It’s perfectly tailored and masterfully executed to sell a LOT of copies. If CrashFuse doesn’t break out by next year, I’ll give up writing.


Recommended for fans of: Kings of Leon, Young the Giant, Foo Fighters

Buy the album:

Follow the band:

Key Track: “Sweet Routine”


EPs: Improbable Cause (s/t)

After my first week of doing grad school and working nearly full time simultaneously, I’m exhausted. Totally burnt out. And I can’t be the only one. Honestly, I’m having trouble not falling asleep on my laptop writing this review. So this morning when I woke up to write, these songs finally really caught me.

This is music for exhausted people. Young even belts it in the first 15 seconds. Underneath the summery pop-jams, stories of despair, weariness, and hope drive the songs from chorus to chorus. This all comes to life at “Crash,” the climax of it all. It’s as if Young is trying to reach out and touch her audience on the shoulder and say, “Hey. It’s okay, we get it and everything will be alright.”

Though it’s a pretty straightforward acoustic pop/rock EP, “Improbable Cause” is full of surprises. The rap-bridge of “Find the Line,” the noise-rock-inspired guitar solo of “Girl With the Jet Black Hair,” or Hannon’s Dave Matthews-esque backing vocals keep everything interesting here, each piece building to the whole theme of it all. This is an extremely well-written album, and I’m sure Improbable Cause will find its way to your final cookouts and last-ditch bonfires as summer begins to close. Winter may be on its way, but you can ride out every last minute of summer with these sunny acoustic jams.


Recommended for fans of: Dave Matthews Band, Of Monsters and Men

Buy the EP:

Follow the Band:

Key Track: “Crash”


Single of the Week: The Noble Company’s “Attic Band Blues”

I almost feel like I don’t really need to write anything. I mean, the title really says it all. So thanks for writing the review for me, Noble Company.

The Noble Company’s “Attic Band Blues” is a 3.5 minute rush of adrenaline from start to finish. Strokes-inspired garage blues guitars and fluid drum fills pulsate through the attic-band production, while McGowan howls line after line with ferocity and urgency. You can’t help but picture Jim Morrison convulsing on stage or Ian Curtis “dancing to the radio” when McGowan starts opening up here. And then it’s over.

This is one of the shorter reviews I’ve done here, but what else can you really say? This is an ultra-solid attic band blues track. No tricks, no gimmicks, just three and a half minutes of blistering blues rock. And maybe that’s all we really need.


Recommended for fans of: The Doors, Joy Division, The White Stripes

Download the song:

Follow the band: