Sunday, May 16, 2021
Saturday, May 15, 2021
Tangled Shoelaces were sibling Stephen, Lucy and Martin Mackerres, and their neighbor Leigh Nelson on drums.
In the course of seven songs, one an interlude and one labeled an outro, Kendra Sells takes the listener on an exhilarating trip, and true to the title, it is all in your head. The one constant throughout the EP is her sinuous, fantastic voice. She is able to contort the vocals to fit all types of music - for example, the psychedelic soul of lead track “Your Cut”, a song that has plenty of musical twists:
Say call us when you’re dead if you’re just worried bout a cough
You don’t look like my daughter and you don’t look like my son
If they don’t see a problem then they don’t believe there’s one
Just cause they don’t see a problem doesn’t mean there isn’t one
“Nervous” is the newest song from Nashville’s Madi Diaz, and it’s a nice one. She’s got a clear, light voice and the song makes good use of the quiet/loud/quiet dynamic with both her voice and the electric guitar backing. The song seems to be describing the dangers of too much introspection, the kind that leads to solipsism, and probably we could use a warning like that these days:
I know why I lie to myself
I’m not really looking to get healthy
I have so many perspectives
I’m losing perspective I make me nervous
Friday, May 14, 2021
Thursday, May 13, 2021
New England's favorite politically oriented garage legends, The Prefab Messiahs, have a new album coming. Titled Music for Concerned Citizens, we expect it will be a sober guide to good citizenship. Or maybe not. But we do expect good music. The album won't be out until July, but timely album track "Bubble" is ready for your ears right now.
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
I really can''t shake my obsession with Melbourne-based Quivers, although truth be told I can't see any reason to try. Anyone who has paid attention to their releases so far presumably understands my view, and new single "Chinese Medicine" will only enhance appreciation of the band's melancholic but warm melodies and jangling arrangements. The video accompanying the release of the single is the work of Jordan Thompson of Melbourne bands The Ocean Party and Pop Filter.
Quivers are Sam Nicholson, Bella Quinlan, Michael Panton, and Holly Thomas. Golden Doubt will be released on June 11 via Spunk Records (Australia/NZ), Bobo Integral (Europe), and Ba Da Bing (North America/UK).
LVL Up's Mike Caridi's solo project The Glow has become a four piece band, and we think it sounds quite good. But you don't need to take our word for it because they have released a two song single. The songs are textured, melodic pop rock that sound like springtime to our ears. "Love Only" / "Heavy Glow" is out now via Double Double Whammy Records, and we recommend it to your ears.
The Glow is Michael Caridi, Kate Meizner, Nicola Leel, and Greg Rutkin.
Dope Sagittarius is a group led by Harlem musician Luqman Brown, playing an exhilarating blend of funk, rock and jazz, in a style that is pretty much unrestrained and without borders as to “genre”. The record was to be released in 2016, but due to Brown having a stroke and a lengthy recovery, and of course, 2020, the record encountered delays and obstacles, but is finally ready to see the light. And you are going to want to check it out, because you need this unrestrained, upbeat record in your life.
It’s a riot of sounds: layered synthesizers, drumbeats and vocal choruses behind Brown’s singing and the occasional rap break or guitar solo (somebody has been listening to their Eddie Hazel). It is mostly uptempo, with the funk and rock elements driving at a fast pace, until it slows down a bit for a ballad like “LaRonda” (but even that contains danceable elements). Check out the galloping tempo on lead song, “Alive”:
I take sort of a double meaning on this song - he states that it's about doing what you can against bullying, but hearing him sing "I'm living for today / watch the first step I take", given what he's gone through in the last several years, is to encounter a very high level of joy. Did I say that he's a hell of a singer? Well, he is.
The song "Black Empress" is faster, with staccato drum machine beats driving the tempo and a frenetic violin solo that moves up and back in the mix, with an extended rap about halfway through that delivers this couplet: "and damn if the karma didn’t boomerang / And you wish you had treated them better then you had" - the song is a warning, and the Empress an instrument of vengeance. As Brown says: "When I wrote this song, back in 2016, it was because I was fed up with the killing of unarmed Black people by police that year and throughout American history. Sadly, not much has changed since then. This is my way of saying that, if we can't stop this senseless killing, the world will end in chaos and violence”:
My favorite track is "Sacred Place", mainly because I think it's got his best singing. But the extended dancehall rap does add a bit of variety:
This is a great record, fairly bursting with ideas, eclectic musical approaches and, again, some great soul vocals from Brown. The music is available online, and the vinyl is out this week. Highly recommended.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Malmö, Sweden's Per och Olof is releasing a single each month of the year so far, which means that the fifth now is available for our ears. This one is titled "Händerna" (hands), and it is all rhythm and chorus. Sounds simple, but it wiggles its way into your brain and you can't help but bopping along with it and hitting 'replay' for a few more servings.
The single, and its predecessors, are out now via Rama Lama Records.
Guided by Voices’ latest album, Earth Man Blues, is variously described (by Robert Pollard, now the band’s sole songwriter) as a collection of rejected songs, but also a song cycle, the story of Harold Admore Harold. I’m not sure about the story cycle, but there are some of the trademark Pollard creations -- pastiche songs that change identity two, three or four times in a minute or two and make it clear that Pollard never runs out of ideas, never censors them, never throws them away and can always find a way to create a sort of miniature song cycle right in the middle of an album.
The first track, “Made Man”, is a great start, with an insistent sort of punk guitar line leading into a quick change into a short section with strings, then a fadeout with a shouted chorus over a quick, insistent guitar riff:
“I’m a fast ride”, he says. That thing changed three times in 1:21, and nobody does that like Pollard. Others in that vein include "Dirty Kid School", "Ant Repellant", "Sunshine Girl Hello" and the prog rock centerpiece here, nearly 6 minutes of Who-meets-Wire-meets-Pollard uniqueness, "Lights Out in Memphis (Egypt)", which even though it explicitly mentions Egypt, seems to make oblique reference to a great Memphis, Tennessee indie rock band that Guided by Voices has some history with. Coincidence? I doubt there are any coincidences, just words like "grifters" that are fun to say, represent some band history and are, well, newly societally relevant:
That's the way to pay tribute to some colleagues in a song. Maybe the Grifters are “trained alien sales reps for Aluminum Can Siberia in your home”, which is one of the fictional commercials in the fictional television network that frames this song.
As usual, there are some stunning pop songs here, full 2:00 to 3:00-plus guitar-led numbers, like “The Disconnected Citizen”:
Is that one about our polarized society, or is it simply about Harold's parents having trouble agreeing on anything? Probably, yes. It does have some of his best singing on this album. Other full-bodied "creamy" tracks include "Free Agents", "I Bet Hippy" and the GbV anthem of this album, "Trust Them Now", which is about as good a motto as I could come up with for Pollard and his band by this time. Just trust them.
What I'm saying is that this is another great Guided by Voices album. I expected no less -- from the beginning, Guided by Voices songs have been assembled in a way that seems uniquely suited to the socially distanced process employed here. (read more at grammy.com about the process) It's out now, and between this one and the imminent Cub Scout Bowling Pins, we will soon have a couple dozen new songs for them to add to the live show. Can't wait.
Monday, May 10, 2021
This is a terrific collection of Goodman demos, both solo and with a band. It’s a must-have for any Goodman fan, but more than that, it has the potential to have Goodman’s talent be exposed to a new generation, or to a wider population that may only know him from stories like the one about the perfect country song. You don’t know that one? Look it up, it’s worth the effort and it includes, in addition to Goodman, his friend John Prine and David Allan Coe, who ended up having a huge country hit with “You Never Even Call Me By My Name”. I’m just saying it’s a good thing to have a collection showcasing Goodman putting his songs down on tape the way he thought they ought to sound.
On this collection, there are 16 solo demos with just Goodman and his guitar, but they aren’t raw. They are well-produced and Goodman sounds good on all of them. There are also four band demos, all well-played, including some steel guitar on “Eight Ball Blues” and some electric lead, pedal steel and acoustic interplay on “City of New Orleans”:
Monday is a day to be bold, so I will say right now that Still Life, the upcoming album by California's Massage, will be one of the top ten indie pop albums this year. Yes, I know the year doesn't end for a long time and many releases are scheduled before then, but I have a feeling about this one. As the album will not be released until next month, this is just your introduction to the latest single, "Made of Moods". Irrepressibly upbeat with a breezy springtime feeling, I may just make it my first song of the day for the entire month.
Your preferred source for Still Life and the singles depends on your continent: Bob Integral in Europe, Mt.St.Mtn. in North America and Tear Jerk in Australia.
Massage are Alex Naidus, Andrew Romano, Gabi Ferrer, Natalie de Almeida, and David Rager, four of whom were members of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Do you like rock guitar? Then you will love this record. Peter Frampton’s guitar work doesn’t need any introduction, and neither do most of these songs. That said, the creativity displayed in his playing and in his band’s work make this an exhilarating listen, and certainly more than you might expect. There are some older, less “radio-exposed” choices from 60’s superstars that make a lot of sense as you listen to them, like Stevie Wonder’s “I Don’t Know Why”, Marvin Gaye’s “One More Heartache” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “If You Want Me to Stay”:
Some people can shrug off a disintegrating relationship like an old sweater. Other people let it consume them to the point that it takes over their lives. For the latter group, Glasgow trio Dutch Wine has written "Whisky". And to accompany it now have a companion video with a speakeasy theme. Good song, fun video. However, we hope it doesn't describe your current state of mind.
Dutch Wine are Luc Grindle (drums), Christopher Devine (guitar), and Calvin Smith (lead vocals and bass). "Whisky" is out as a digital single via Negative Hope Records.
Saturday, May 8, 2021
Dawn-Song is musician Nick Evans. His latest work is For Morgan, and it will be released later this month. The album consists of songs he has written and recorded in recent years, some of which are collaborations with other artists. I think that Nick's own description of his motivation for recording the songs is more poignant that anything I could write, so here it is:
I made an album of my songs with some wonderful collaborators over the last couple of years.
When I’m gone I wanted to continue to be able to sing for my son Morgan if he needed me.
My father published a small book of poetry before he died and if I’m missing him a lot I read a bit of it and I feel reconnected.
Friday, May 7, 2021
For me, "Big Deal" heralds the arrival of the 'real deal'. The real deal is Tiberius b, raised in Canada and living in the UK, the artist combines a flowing, confident pop sensibility with a Massive Attack and Portishead penchant for surging, punching rhythms -- all well illustrated by "Big Deal". The song is presented below as a stream and a video and, in my view, the video is well worth watching.
Tiberius b has signed to Mark Ronson's Zelig Records, and will release an album titled Stains via Zelig on June 25.