[Synth-Rock/Indie] Operators – Cold Light

Cold Light

It’s no great secret that sadly, here in 2016, the music blog world has devolved into an endless stream of click-baitey ‘news’ articles and an aggressive pissing contest of sorts between similar publications of who can post something first. So, not to be TMN’s resident grumpy music nostalgist or anything, but whenever tunes are missed on a writer’s initial radar and surface some weeks down the road, there has been an unsatisfying feeling lingering in many writers’ souls in that they “missed the boat” and no longer feel compelled to post said song as it may effect their ‘credibility’; even though they may in fact be completely infatuated with a song or album, thus quelching an opportunity of a share from someone who genuinely enjoys it. Which is a silly thing to think about anyhow, as many of us started primarily as enthusiastic music lovers who only ever covered the music we loved, and not the music that comes with the largest PR & publicity push. Phewww….

Basically, after the long winded and caffeinated semi-rant, what this writer is trying to say is that: “I’ve fallen madly in love with a band and tune which dropped a month ago; but I just have to share it with whomever will listen via my tiny, web-based soap box!” The tune and band here in questions is “Cold Light”, from former Divine Fits and Wolf Parade member Dan Boeckner’s latest project Operators. “Cold Light” plays like a breezy, early New Order single, but in place of Bernard Sumner’s tender refrain lie the passionate howls that have become Boeckner’s trademark over the years. Just captivating stuff to this writer’s ears really. Operators, which features Boeckner’s former Divine Fits bandmate Sam Brown on drums and Devojka on keys, recruited Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh (who also holds chief production credits on records for Viet Cong & Alvvays) as their chief sound engineer, and we think the results alreadyspeak for themselves. “Cold Light” marks Operators’ debut single from debut long-player Blue Light, due out 4/1 on Canadian imprint Last Gang Records (pre-order here), so until then, get your kicks by either catching them live on one of the many tour dates listed below, or by streaming Operators’ impressive lead single above.

2/26 – The Red Dog (Peterborough ON)
2/27 – The Grad Club (Kingston ON)
3/28 – Schubas (Chicago, IL)
3/29 – 7th St. Entry (Minneapolis, MN)
3/30 – Reverb Lounge (Omaha, NE)
4/1 – Lost Lake (Denver, CO)
4/3 – The Bartlett (Spokane, WA)
4/4 – Sunset Tavern (Seattle, WA)
4/5 – Fortune Sound Club (Vancouver, BC)
4/6 – Doug Fir Lounge (Portland, OR)
4/8 – Social Hall SF (San Francisco, CA)
4/9 – Bootleg Theater (Los Angeles, CA)
4/10 – Soda Bar (San Diego, CA)
4/11 – Valley Bar (Phoenix, AZ)
4/13 – The Sidewinder (Austin, TX)
4/14 – Three Links (Dallas, TX)
4/15 – The Raven Tower (Houston, TX)
4/16 – Gasa Gasa (New Orleans, LA)
4/17 – The Earl (Atlanta, GA)
4/19 – DC9 (Washington, DC)
4/21 – Baby’s All Right (New York, NY)
4/22 – Boot & Saddle (Philadelphia, PA)
4/23 – Middle East Upstairs (Cambridge, MA)

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No Hot Ashes – Goose [TMN PREMIERE]


“Goose” casually struts into your headspace with ease, carrying a confident aura that not only demands your attention but insists you dance along with it. The funny thing is, this is the very first release from this Stockport-based born four-piece, and we’re hard-pressed to believe it. The refined nature, the radiant vibrancy, the well-crafted lyrics – they’re just too damn good for a first release. But, as much as you’d like to think these cats are seasoned vets of the industry, they’re just coming up.

As usual, we’re overwhelmingly excited to bring you a first listen at this shiny, brand-new, and downright addictive act. Comprised of Isaac Taylor (vocals/guitar), Jack Walsh (bass), Luigi Di Vuono (guitar) and Matt Buckley (drums), No Hot Ashes are collectively influenced by legendary acts like Nile Rodgers and Johnny Marr, which can be heard throughout their funky iconic guitar riffs and well-defined pop sensibilities.

“Goose” is set to be released on February 23rd via Warrington label, Playing With Sound and will be available to purchase on iTunes and Spotify.

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[MP3 Playlist] Indie Dojo (February 2016 Round #4)


If there is one thing we love more than finding good indie music, it’s putting it all together in an Indie Dojo to share it will all of you. Sharing is caring and even Ninjas care.

’Blessed – One And Only’
’West AM – Lying in the Dark’
’Wildes – BARE’
’The Blanco
’Playwrite – Black Cloud’
’Billy Stonecipher – Embers’
’Andy Shauf – Jenny Come Home’
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In Memory of Viola Beach


The past few months have been nothing short of devastating for music lovers around the globe. From the attacks at the Bataclan back in November to losing legends like Bowie, Lemmy, Glen Frey, and Maurice White, it seems that we’re in a strange section of time where this art form is suffering from loss after loss at an alarming rate.

As you’re already aware, we hadn’t posted anything about any of those losses, as it’s not something we typically do. We don’t write about industry news, choosing to embrace new music that intrigues and excites us. Our hope is simple – we want to continue that life-long infatuation with music, and we do so through sharing our discoveries with you.

Today, we’re stepping outside our norm. Or, rather, I am.

Last August, I was introduced to a sensational new act and their debut single, “Swings and Waterslides.” It came to us from a PR firm that always brings sensational new artists our way, so it already had an alluring glow about it.

’Viola Beach – Swings & Waterslides’
I know The Music Ninja are big fans of Lisbon and this band are very similar; it’s the debut single from Warrington indie pop four-piece Viola Beach called ‘Swings and Waterslides’. – Supercat PR 8/18

The song instantly latched on with its playful guitar work, catchy hooks, and summery, feel-good vibes. I immediately accepted the offer, becoming the online premiere partner for the debut song from Viola Beach. From there, the song played over and over again at TMN HQ, so much so that I listed it as one of our favorite songs from 2015. Keep in mind, I could only choose 15 songs, so you can start to get the idea of how influenced I was by just a single track from this budding young band.

We kept in touch with the band’s publicist and manager closely, covering both of their next songs, “Cherry Vitmo” and “Boys That Sing.” With each release, we could feel the band picking up momentum, showcasing a next-level amount of talent that was set to cross over into the US by way of SXSW.

’Viola Beach – Cherry Vimto’
’Viola Beach – Boys That Sing’

This last weekend, things took a tragic, heart-wrenching, and deeply saddening turn. Members Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe and Jack Dakin and manager Craig Tarry passed away after a car accident in Sweden. The news came to us on a comment on our premiere, as fans scoured the internet, leaving their condolences wherever they could.

To say the least, we all were deeply affected by this. As bloggers, we feel a direct connection with the artists we write about, especially when they’re just emerging onto the scene. In a way, it feels like you’re a part of their team, quietly cheering them on from behind a glowing laptop screen. While we had never met in person, nor had spoken on the phone, there’s still this lingering feeling. In all honesty, it’s one of the reasons why we all keep doing this. It’s our tie to the bands we love and the industry we cherish.

All five of these young men had a tremendous career in front of them, boasting both the swagger and polish of a well-seasoned act. You only need a few listens through their handful of releases to know that their gift was cut far too short, leaving the world with a sizeable hole in its music-loving heart.

We highly encourage you to dive in and celebrate their music in whatever medium you’d like, whether it be here, on Soundcloud, Spotify, or iTunes. If you’d like to take your support to the next level, you can purchase Swings & Waterslides and help move them up the popular chart. Each purchase brings them closer to a #1 spot, introducing more and more people to the music they worked so hard on, and were so passionate about.

Until we see you on the other side, thank you for your contributions Kris, River, Tomas, Jack and Craig. We’ll cherish these songs dearly, holding the joy they bring us close to our hearts each and every time we listen.

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JR JR Steps Up to Help Families in Flint [Cadence & Cause]


If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been highlighting our friends over at Cadence & Cause for the past few weeks. Shift your eyes over to either side of the page and you’ll see what we’re talking about. If you’re still confused, just know this – they’re an online platform that connects musicians and their fans to worthy charities.

As we continue our support for their initiative, we’re eager to spread the word about their latest campaign. We’re going to go ahead and assume you’ve heard of JR JR, formerly Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. If you haven’t, we’ve curated a selection of our favorite songs in a handy playlist below.

Enchanting music and amazing live performances aside, today is all about what they’re doing to help with the Flint water crisis. To help fundraise for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, members Joshua Epstein & Daniel Zott have combed through years of memorabilia for a number of incredible sweepstakes through Cadence & Cause. On the top of our personal wish list is the hand-painted stone blazer from the music video of favorite JR JR tune, “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On the Dancefloor).

In addition to that extremely rare piece of memorabilia, the band is offering up a bevy of other collectables, including the sax used to record their first two albums, a massive JR stage prop, sweaters from a photo shoot, and tour-worn NASCAR jackets. All you have to do to enter to win is contribute the minimum contribution.

As concerned ninjas, music lovers, and fans of JR JR, we strongly encourage you to head over and contribute. Each time you do, you’ll be helping families in Flint who are dealing with this incredible hardship.

’In The Middle’
’James Dean’
’Revelation Blues’
’JR JR – If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor)’
’Hiding – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’
’Don’t Tell Me – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’
’War Zone
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’
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[MP3 Playlist] Indie Dojo (February 2016 Round #3)


When you need a break from the chaos or the silence or the craziness or the mundane. You know where to find us. Right here. Every Tuesday. For as long as the music carries us.

’Magic Bronson – Coconut’
’Gonzalla – Come On Hun’
’Alfred Hall Music – Safe & Sound (2016 Radio Mix)’
’Dutch Party Music – The Passenger’
’Valley Maker – By My Side’
’The Unknown Neighbour – Maybe Someday (Demo)’
’Kyson – You’
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[Cadence & Cause] An Inside Look at Youth on Record

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 3.57.50 PM

A few months ago, as we looked ahead into this friendly partnership with Cadence & Cause, we had the opportunity to visit with one of their featured charities, Youth On Record. Located in Denver, Colorado, this organization seemed right up our alley. Essentially, they provide music education to at-risk teens, all of which can be counted towards school credit.

On paper, we were already behind their mission, from the simple standpoint that we love seeing new musicians being influenced and inspired. We didn’t know how much we would love what they do until we went down there.

The space they’ve set up is a musician’s playground, complete with a full recording studio that includes a tracking room and vocal booth. Kids walk around playing a bevy of different instruments, joined by fellow classmates throwing down bars on whatever it is that’s playing. In every nook and cranny, you’ll find these developing musicians collaborating, talking at length about what their project should sound like. It’s impossible not to beam from ear-to-ear, enjoying every minute of what you’re witnessing.

We wanted to know more about what this place meant to the actual people who were benefitting from it – the students. On the day they were set to perform with Twenty One Pilots, we caught up with a few of the organizations best and brightest. Check out what Christian, Naimah, Shewit, Alex, and Justa had to say.

We’ve made it easy to support Youth On Record. You can find numerous campaigns on Cadence & Cause which feature music, merch, and memorabilia from artists eager to help this impressive cause. If you’re in Denver, you can volunteer for them, which we highly recommend.

A very special thank you to our friends at Blurred Pics for putting this video together, and to CRL CRLL for letting us use his song.

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