It’s a bit of a shame that the song The Rembrandts are best known for is I’ll Be There For You. Sure, it’s a fun song, but it’s also something of an anomaly when compared to the rest of their catalog. Those familiar with The Rembrandts know that members Danny Wilde and Phil Solem take their work seriously; something reflected in each song. What I’ll Be There For You doesn’t showcase, catchy hooks notwithstanding, is their effortless ability to tell a heartbreaking story within the confines of a three-minute pop tune. In Johnny Have You Seen Her from 1992’s Untitled Wilde sings:
If you could look inside this tortured heart of mine
You would see the pain I’m goin’ through
Can you look me in the eyes and tell if I am blind?
Maybe then I might believe you
The heartbreak is audible on Happiness from 2001 release Lost Together.
Life goes on….at least that’s what they say
Though dreams may die…they never fade away
Yesterday is gone forever-Would you trade tomorrow for today
I had given up all hope, of ever feeling like I had
In the days of our perfection, before everything went bad
When I think of all those heart aches…it amazes me, no end
We could rise to this occasion…find our happiness again
Locked in time…together in the past
Our innocence…was never meant to last
So we share our final sunset…and we go our separate ways
I had given up all hope, of ever feeling like I had
In the days of our perfection-before everything went bad
When I think of all those heart aches…it amazes me, no end
We could rise to this occasion…find our happiness again
Find our happiness again
Find our happiness again
Belonging to a unique class which holds content in high regard, The Rembrandts are adept at weaving longing and melancholy into instantly memorable songs, much like the Gin Blossoms, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Marshall Crenshaw, and Ben Folds. True storytellers write the songs that speak to the masses; they write the songs people turn to during the most important moments. Songs such as Save Me from the duo’s eponymous 1990 debut speak of the loneliness and despondency everyone feels at some point:
I’m all alone, when the sun, goes down
What I wouldn’t give, to have someone around.
The nights are endless, and dreams, are few
But when they come, well they never come true
The songs we’ve cited are a few of our favorites and may give the impression that The Rembrandts are brooding all the time and it’s true that they take their work seriously. Thankfully they don’t take themselves terribly seriously. You may recall the video for I’ll Be There For You which saw Solem and Wilde’s rock star video shoot being invaded by the cast of Friends. Most recently and in the same spirit, the pair teamed up with James Michael Tyler (aka Gunther) from Friends to film a new video for the theme song to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the series and announce its arrival on Netflix. While many artists in a similar situation would shun so much attention for a one-off, uncharacteristic song, Wilde and Solem seem to embrace their place in pop culture history and play along with the lighthearted intentions of the song- even after all these years. Such playfulness seems to indicate that even with multi-platinum sales and a Grammy nod, both of which have found their way to the band, ultimately everything Phil Solem and Danny Wilde do is about the music and sharing it with as many people as possible.
Delve into The Rembrandts extensive catalog and get exclusive versions of some of their songs available for free download on the band’s official website
Keep up with their most recent tour dates HERE
The Rembrandts are great at interacting on social media! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter
Now onto some music…
***For some interesting info on how The Rembrandts came to be involved with ‘Friends‘ and the origin of I’ll Be There For You, check out this great feature at AV Club
Every so often we feature an artist whom we struggle to classify. Having just released his second record as a solo act, Jesse Valenzuela certainly falls into our Artists We Love category, which aims to shine a light on some of our favorite new(ish) music that we can’t wait to share with our friends. That seems easy enough but when you consider that in his other gig, as guitarist and chief songwriter for Gin Blossoms, he’s amassed multi-platinum sales, gotten a Grammy nomination, gone on several world tours, and done television appearances that number well into quadruple digits he seems pretty well established. Our Underappreciated Artists features have always focused on artists whose overwhelming talent never received the public reception of which it was worthy, which also doesn’t entirely apply to Valenzuela. So here it is, our first ever Underappreciated Artists We Love hybrid. To honor the longevity of career and contribution to music but also make a lot of you aware that Jesse Valenzuela also has a solo career you may not know as much about. Onwards and upwards ~XO
For over twenty years Jesse Valenzuela has written many of the songs you know by heart. The songs that served as the background music to your fondest memories, your heartbreak, your joy; the soundtrack of your life. Perhaps unknowingly, most people can sing along to songs he’s written or collaborated on as they’ve become the songs that just kind of exist in the ether. Songs such as Gin Blossoms 1995 hit Til I Hear it From You are still mainstays twenty years later and the band still tours consistently throughout the year and continues to release new material.
2002’s Tunes Young People Will Enjoy seemed like a natural evolution from Gin Blossom to solo artist. It had the expected jangle and catchiness, but with more of Valenzuela’s personal influences at the forefront. Tracks like Spark and Lucky Stars anchored a record which, for the most part offered the sweet melancholy that has come to be expected from Valenzuela. Andale Pues, on the other hand, seemed to show that without the confines of a band and its vetting processes, Valenzuela was willing to push boundaries further than many people realized.
Hotel Defeated is very much an expansion of that mentality. With songs that are influenced by a myriad of styles and artists, it’s as if Valenzuela realized he could make exactly the record he wanted to make. Released on June 22, Jesse Valenzuela pulled out all the stops on his sophomore solo effort making an album which is an amalgamation of Americana, blues, rock, pop, and a splash of mariachi (for good measure).
Sound of Temptation is a bluesy affair with subtle notes of Brian Setzer’s guitar, while Keep Falling could easily fit in on a Ryan Adams record with Valenzuela crooning: “But if you’re asking I’d just as soon stay home with nothing to do. I lie here in your bed, radio on, I keep falling in love with you.” Tragic Hero proclaims: “Here’s a little tragedy that goes like this. It starts sweet enough with a little kiss. Before too long, you’re craving her like water, you’re craving her like air.” Blue Town and Lightning Bar Blues provide all the jangle-pop hooks few deliver as well as Valenzuela, but the album’s title track, a collaboration with fellow Tempe music icons Lawrence and Mark Zubia, is the most varied on the album. Melding lyrics in English and Spanish and accompanied by mariachi folk guitar, this song is best listened to while drinking margaritas on a summer evening. The album draws from genres and styles that may not symbiotically work together but Hotel Defeated presents as a fluid, cohesive record that gets better with each listen.
Jesse Valenzuela is currently on tour with the Gin Blossoms. Check out their tour schedule HERE
There’s currently no info on a solo tour but to get the most current information follow Jesse on Twitter HERE
Check out his music on iTunes and CD Baby
Here’s a throwback to one of the times I met Jesse backstage at some festival or event or similar.
If you have a few minutes to spare, check out this songwriters showcase
Puro Instinct come from Los Angeles, California. They are sisters, Piper and Skylar Kaplan. Piper is the singer, and Skylar plays the lead guitar. When their debut studio album, Headbangers in Ecstasy came out in 2011, Skylar was sixteen and Piper was twenty-three. Let that sink in, their lead guitarist was sixteen. It is simply amazing that these riffs came from a sixteen year old. They are mostly very skilled riffs, and even if not all the songs are amazing, they are all good. They have great vocals, great solos, and great build up through the songs. The female vocals have a lot of high notes, but they are more Natalie Merchant or Dolores O’Riordan and less Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos, or Sarah McLachlan.
The first album was produced by Ariel Pink and R. Stevie Moore. They have a very poppy, 80’s sound and a sappy California attitude. Headbangers in Ecstasy is a great album title. Isn’t the point of music, to work a feeling into a better one? The songs very much follow the title’s warped emotional trend. “Escape Forever”, “Slivers of You”, “Silky Eyes”, “Everybody’s Sick”, “Luv Goon”, and “Lost at Sea” all do this. “Escape Forever” may be the best, and most complete song. “Silky Eyes” is also one of the better songs, and has a good solo. Some of the other songs from the album are “California Shakedown”, which shows the attitude and has a great guitar riff. Perhaps it points at rich people who do drugs, hence shakedown. “No Mames” has a good bass line and is a really strange song. Then there is “Vapor Girls”, which is surreal sounding.
All along the way are these slightly unnecessary radio interruptions done by R. Stevie’s voice, under the title KDOD. Lastly, “Stilaygi” may be the second best overall song, to “Escape Forever”. It’s 80’s themed like many of the songs. More importantly it is incredibly clever, and Ariel jumps in at the interlude to say “You are still my yagi.” A stilyagi is a russian hipster effectively, and is the perfect topic for a song. They really make the right point about “hip” culture, when Piper sings, “When you look around in the U.S.A. today, because it doesn’t seem like the kids have much to say.” Why do we need pop culture to tell us what’s cool? Everyone should have a voice.
Bottom line, even if you don’t get the glam rock female romance thing the music is more than good enough to make up for it.
There are some new songs on
, such as “6 of Swords”, but no new album announced.
The B-Side, “Sunburn” is also really good, but impossible to find for download.
Here are some of the better songs:
(“6 of Swords” is a New Song)
Buy their music on ITunes,
and follow them on Facebook.
I just think this is a great picture.
The lovechild of Dinosaur Jr’s original bass player Lou Barlow, and John Davis, including members Imad Wassif, and Russ Pollard. The name The Folk Implosion is a play on the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Primarily acoustic, the lyrics involve the struggles of settling down, midlife, frustrations, and philosophy. The music has a simple construction, it’s solid music, good for coffee shops. When compared to Dinosaur Jr., it’s different, but less thunderous, and energetic feeling. Whereas everyone knows Dinosaur Jr. is almost epic. If nothing else, a band like this can be notable for providing the technically perfect versions of musical patterns we all already know, because there isn’t much on top of the riffs, the listener focuses on the small adjustments. It’s not minimalism, but close, it’s graceful. Musical minimalism doesn’t really exist, it was created as an anti-genre. The drumbeat in “Insinuation”, the bass in “Sputnik’s Down”, and the guitar in “easy” all do this detailed approach I am describing. The albums are Take a Look Inside The Folk Implosion, Dare to be surprised, One Part Lullaby, and The New Folk Implosion. They also gained some fame from doing the soundtrack to the 90’s movie Kids by Larry Clark.
You can buy their music on ITunes ,
listen on Spotify
and here is the album The New Folk Implosion for sale on Bandcamp.
“You know it’s blinding, searching for a fine spring, and I’m finding that it aint worth a damn thing”, goes the opening line of “Creature of the Night”. A cliche, but maybe this is what Kansas Bible Company is all about, the journey, as a jam band obviously, but also as a theme. They come from Goshen College, in Indiana, a small Mennonite art school, and they really show the close knit small town social vibe. The influence of rural religion on the band is obvious, the songs really indicate a sense of dissonance, and disillusioned moral frustration. They are a 12 piece band, with 5 horn players, it’s symphonic sounding, the songs involve guitar, but the horns generally take over loudly at some point.
They have two albums so far. The first album, Ad Astra Per Aspara(Through hardship to the stars in Latin), is mainly a songwriters approach with piercing lyrics, and loud choruses. “Gondor Primulon” is great, “Young Professional”, “Creature of the Night”, “Zombiefaced”, and “Moderation” are also good, all covering social issues. In “Moderation” he quips, “Nothing is free-er than the unmade bed.” The lead track, “How to build a planet” is different, with more youthful wonder, and a seize the day attitude. To promote Hotel Chicamauga they made a “Jesus the Horse Thief” 8 bit video game, seen below, it’s really good. The “Desert She Screams”, “Rooster Crow”, “Sunglasses”, and “Witches and Wizards” which is more upbeat than many of their songs, all make interesting songs. In “Sunglasses”, he says “Walk with us, we are a culture”. Then there is the Surf Rock Trilogy ep, which is currently free, three rock type songs. There is an EP coming out soon, titled, Dads Day Dad Daze. They also do a really good cover of Sam and Dave’s “Hold on, I’m coming”, with two singers, like the original. Seen here on youtube,
“Black Books” is mediocre, with lyrics that are clever but over the top. At the end of the song though, you hear a similar wailing to Sam and Dave. They break into this great line, “Our mission is this, we seek the truth, but I’ve squandered my time in the kissing booth and what is the truth if not a perception from anothers eyes that answers a question, and what is the truth if not a confession from a misled boy during cross-examination.” “Jesus, rock my soul!“. ect.”
One of the more interesting things about them is watching them perform, each focusing on their own instrument while all trying to sound in unison. Unlike most modern bands the horns play a big role and the twelve members on one stage are trying to stay out of each others way. The band members are as follows: Jake Miller, Jeff Yoder, Nathan Morrow, Nate Klink, Luke Yoder, Jacob Yagu, Martin Isaac Lederach, Michael Ruth, James Green, Jake Snyder, Charles Frederick, and Rafael Chavez. Jake Carl Miller is the lead singer and a guitarist, he brings energy. Jake’s approach may be somewhat raw and simple, boldly throwing uncommon issues out there because he finds them important, but make no mistake they are societal issues, not just personal. Drugs, moderation, loneliness, and “Young Professional”, no these are all too societal. What makes a good decision? Who decides the morals? The bible? The law? The tv? Peer pressure? But, bottom line, rock out to your joy, and your pain.
Buy their music on ITunes, Bandcamp and follow them on Facebook
Here is the “Jesus the Horse Thief” Video Game.
The Firebird Band, created by Chris and Riley Broach, now featuring Chris Broach and Steve Znavor of Life at Sea, have a unique instrumental approach, like The Monochrome Set, or Wire. They come from Braid, the band Chris Broach is known for, a dark noisy affair. Braid is one of the original alternative bands coming out of the 90’s, but isn’t exactly the typical sappy band of that scene. The vocals in the Firebird Band are sometimes more volatile than typical rock, or even soul type pop. However, for the most part, you can’t hear the influence of Braid in The Firebird Band, which is primarily a techno, and rock blend. They are a deep, soul wrenching, techno which creates a vibe you could listen to doing just about anything. The seamless blend of guitar, and keyboard makes it work.
Their first album, The City at Night creates a feeling just like that, like a few lights, a friend, and a walk is all you need. Which is especially cool because there can be something depressing about the city at night. The most worthwhile songs off of it are as follows; “Art”, which has really good acoustic guitar, and “Satellite Delay”, in which the lyric “hey, this is living, hey this is just what you wanted.” stands out. “Next Wave” is saying you don’t need to immediately move to the next wave, asking no new wave, no fun? Lastly, “Obsessive Compulsive” has a really interesting guitar line, but isn’t all that polished, it’s like a pop song. What is more relevant is that it’s lyrics describe psychology as worship.
The other two collections out there are, The Firebird Band Suite Archives, and The Setting Sun, and It’s Satellites. The former features more complete songs, and no keyboard. These are some of the best songs; “Letter” has a very alternative take, with lots of drums, “Science vs. Luck” has highly intricate instrumental work with cynical lyrics, “Southshore Drive” is a tribute to Chicago, “September” has maybe their best line, ”you forget about your legends, and your heros, and make your own”, and “Cannonball” builds on a really good bass line, and is like a typical alternative pop song. There are some b-sides out there, “Wish” is an interesting track, some of them are kind of messy though, with some interesting drum takes maybe.
The Firebird Band could appeal to anyone as rock. However, the type of people who would most appreciate them is those who can follow their political lyrics. There is a new album coming out in 2014 on Chris Broach’s own label, Lucid Records.
Buy their music on iTunes
Follow them HERE and on Facebook.
(Chris Spedding-Video Life)
(The Kinks Cover)
(Title track Off of
Chris Spedding is an incredibly skilled lead guitarist. He plays fast, clean, is very creative, and adept at solos. Known for his trademark Gibson Flying V guitar, which has a warm, loud, but not overly distorted sound due to the limba wood it uses. There was a quote on AllMusic which said, to paraphrase, that Chris Spedding’s lack of stardom in America was not for lack of commitment. Though his self titled album(1976) did well, featuring, “Motorbiking”. He also had many singles, “Video Life”, and ‘Jump in My Car”, originally by the Ted Mulry Gang, “Save the Life”, and I’m not Like Everybody Else.” are notable hits.
Just as often Spedding was a studio session guitarist for many of the more popular musicians of the 60’s through 80’s. From Paul McCartney to Tom Waits, Chris Spedding did it all. He contributed to Tom Waits’ most defining album, Rain Dogs, played on Coming from Reality by Sixto Rodriguez, played with Brian Eno, and produced the Sex Pistols first demos. He was a part of Battered Ornaments, Sharks, as well as The Wombles; a band created for a children’s show where the members dressed up in silly costumes.
Now to the music: Perhaps his most well known song, “Video Life,” has one of the most unique riffs I know, a great 50’s bassline. I tend to think he’s talking about escape from the mundane, and love, of course- “Got to take evasive action, got to do it pretty soon, for fear of aerial warfare right here in your room. Video life, tune in, make the image clear, video life, baby, baby, I love you so.” “Jump in My Car” has one of the better feel good riffs but awful lyrics. “Get Outta My Pagoda” has a good solo type riff and angry lyrics; “Fi, Fie, Fo, Feeble, I smell the blood of the English People” Chris raves during this song. It’s about an argument in a temple or home. Also, who has a pagoda? His cover of The Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” is defining for Chris Spedding and “The Crying Game” may be his most poignant song because it covers a topic not often covered. The resolution, or cost, of pain over the years: “I’ll ask the moon, and maybe he’ll explain. Why there are heartaches.” he sings. “She’s My Friend,” “Wild Women,” and “White Lady,” all cover love. Last but certainly not least, we have “Wild in the Streets”. Always sensitive, but he flashes his rawness here, “Your teenage jive would be a mess running wild in the streets.”
As for albums, Chris Spedding, Cafe Days, Just Plug Him In!, Pearls, One Step Ahead of the Blues, and The Very Best of Chris Spedding are all good. Just Plug Him In! is a compilation and The Very Best of Chris Spedding is just that.
Overall he’s a great guitarist, good singer, personable, with clever but depressing, and over sensitive lyrics, 50’s bass, Elvis influence, and a talented performer. Chris Spedding may see himself as a late bloomer and his last few albums have gotten sadder. Johnny Marr is on his upcoming album, Joyland, and there is also a book called “Chris Spedding: Reluctant Guitar Hero.”
You can follow him HERE
Buy Chris Spedding’s music on iTunes
It’s time to share our top posts of the year that was 2015. As has been the trend for us, last year saw continued growth in our readership, subscribers, and global reach. I know I say this every year and it’s probably redundant but Thirty Roses began with me very honestly thinking not a single person would ever look at it. That it’s read by thousands of people around the world is truly humbling and I can’t thank you enough.
The last year saw fewer posts since we’ve been increasingly busy with our consultation work. That said, we saw more traffic than ever on Thirty Roses. Here were the top posts from 2015:
5) Our first Underappreciated Artists/Artists We Love hybrid was a huge success! We’re glad you loved it as much as we did. Underappreciated Artists/Artists We Love: Jesse Valenzuela
4) The 4th most popular post of last year and the most popular Underappreciated Artists ever! Reread this and go listen to The Rembrandts. If you aren’t familiar with them, becoming a fan should be your New Year’s resolution. Underappreciated Artists: The Rembrandts
3) Still a popular article after all this time: Grief and Resilience or: How Heartbreak Led Me Back to the Music Industry
2) Because people saw this at the end of the DJ Slugo article, this came in second. What You Need to Know About Pay to Play
1) Not only the most popular post of last year, the most popular post ever on Thirty Roses. While there were a few other outlets that wrote about DJ Slugo’s pay to play scheme, we were the only source that had copies of actual email correspondence Slugo sent to artists. We’re grateful our artist friends trusted us with their story and appreciate all of the sharing of this article. By far, our number one story of last year:
DJ Slugo Fired From Spike Lee Film For Pay to Play Scheme
Kansas Bible Company is gaining press with articles in Nashville Cream and Paste and has a recent EP out called Dad’s Day. No LP announced, but as they are touring, they are building credibility in the rock industry which is fickle to all but the most hardworking bands, no matter the talent, and they have talent.
In order from the Dad’s Day EP:
Elysees 99,84 has a really nice moaning guitar and some clever vocals over building drums.
Losing the Feel is a classic 70s rock song and is fitting for the Dad’s Day title, as everyone “loses the feel” at times as they grow older.
Everything Blue is great, and may even be the best with a somber but optimistic attitude. “That was the old you, this is the new me. I could be the drugs you’re abusing“, Jake Miller croons.
Finally, Stone in the Water has a video which was recently featured in Paste magaine.
That’s right, it’s Dad’s Day, the myth of men relaxing, or the rather difficult jump from being a kid to learning to be happy vicariously in making meals for your kids.
That said, we love Fathers Day, and even more so everyone loves the feeling of freedom a Kansas Bible Company song emulates. Be it the nature theme in the “Stone in the Water” video, or just the spirit of 10 people playing horns. Living for the sake of living. Not worrying about all the technology in front of you and knowing life is naturally difficult. The psychedelic experience of life.
If you missed our Underappreciated Artists article on Kansas Bible Company, check it out HERE.
Find their music on Bandcamp
Find their tour dates here on their Official website
Then check out this surreal Christmas song they did with the artist Sol Cat