Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Are You Trending?" and "4AM" by Vessels

Leeds, UK has a storied history in electronic music.  One of the best bands of the current generation are Vessels.  Comprised of Lee J. Malcolm, Martin Teff, Tim Mitchell, Tom Evans, and Peter Wright, they are quite happy to blow your mind, and quite capable of doing so as well.  I first played their new single "Are You Trending?" an hour ago and I am yet suffering the effects of shock and awe.  Once you've made an attempt to get your head around that bomb, try the slower building but still sizzling "4AM".

Somewhat surprisingly given their current sound, the band originally played post rock, but with the 2015 release of Dilate, they carved out prime territory in the electronic space.


Randolf's Leap - Cowardly Deeds

When I started writing for this blog one of my goals was to help let the world know about the wealth of quality pop music put out by the residents of Scotland.  I have never regretted that decision as each year has brought plentiful pop joys in multiple genres.  Today I'm here to proclaim the virtues of an Cowardly Deeds by Glasgow's Randolf's Leap.  Quite simply this album, and the band that created it, are a prime exhibit for the quality of the Scottish music scene.  The melodies are bright, hook-laden and memorable, and they are adorned not only with the usual compliment of guitars, bass and drums, but also with keys, string and brass.  Yes, having eight people in a band brings rewards to the arrangements even if it complicates voting where to go for dinner.  The lyrics are literate, clever and thoughtful.  As a vocalist, frontman and songwriter Adam Ross is sincere and convincing.  And overall, the performance of the band is energetic enough to make it clear that this band really, really likes what they are doing.  Nor is Cowardly Deeds all joyously uptempo.  The band provides an good measure of more reflective tunes, providing nuanced and restrained background for Ross' musing on life's uncertainties.

Randolf's Leap's earlier recordings took the lo-fi, bedroom recording approach.  But this album has higher production values, and the results are well worth the extra time and effort.  Combined with the skilled contribution from the band and Ross' talents for penning well-considered comments and them dressing them up in bright pop wrappings, this is one of the better bands Scotland has to offer, and Cowardly Deeds is a worthy calling card.

The band are Adam Ross (guitar/vocals), Adam Florence (drums), Vicki Cole (bass), Andrew MacLellan (guitar), Heather Fox (violin), Pete MacDonald (keyboards), Ali Hendry (trumpet) and Fraser Gibson (trombone).  Cowardly Deeds is out now via Glasgow's Olive Grove Records.  One source to purchase would be the Olive Grove Bandcamp page which is linked at the bottom of this post.

Olive Grove's Bandcamp page
Olive Grove Records

Monday, May 23, 2016

"Orlando" "and "No More Parties In The Attic" by Exploded View

Exploded View is a multinational band working with Krautrock, dub, electronic modes of musical expression.  Fronted by UK-born and Berlin-based former political journalist Annika Henderson (vocals/synth), the band includes Martin Thulin (drums/guitar) from Sweden, and Hugo Quezada (bass/synth) and Hector Melgarejo (synth/guitar) from Mexico.  All of the members have participated in other well-regarded projects, and we expect exciting sounds from this collaboration.  Two tracks, "Orlando" and the previously released "No More Parties In The Attic" are out now.  The band's self-titled album will be out in August via Sacred Bones.

Bandcamp for LP
Sacred Bones Records

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Local Hero" and "Career Crisis" by Glaciers

Melbourne's Glaciers have been tantalizing us for several years with the occasional demo or single.  If it has meant to tease us, it has worked as planned, as our interest is keen.  We finally have the good news that June will bring Living Right, the four-piece's first LP.  The band will be addressing the challenges of growing into adulthood, swathed in the dreamy jangle and well-crafted melodies we expect.  Two songs from the album -- "Local Hero" and "Career Crisis" -- will give you a taste of the ace tunes that Glaciers can craft.

Glaciers are Nalin Dayawansa (vocals/guitar), Simon Crouch (vocals/guitar), Ryand DeCoite (bass), and Tom Coish (Drums).  Living Right will be released on vinyl and digital by Strong Dogs Records.  A cassette version will be available via Easy Summer.

Bandcamp for Local Hero
Bandcamp for Career Crisis

Friday, May 20, 2016

"But I'm Scared" by The Echo Session

One lesson that is reinforced with some regularity as we age is that good things can't be rushed.  Doing something worthwhile the right way is more important that rushing it out the door.  This is an important perspective in considering the upcoming single "But I'm Scared" by The Echo Session.  The band was signed by Glasgow label Flowers In The Dustbin in the last decade.  A subsequent recording session produced the 2009 single "Tell Me", as well as "But I'm Scared".  Although "Tell Me" was released and drew deserved praise for the quality of the music and its message of greed while the world reeled from economic melt down, "But I'm Scared" rested in unreleased limbo for seven years.

Now, in a labor of love, Glasgow's Flowers In The Dustbin has dusted off a live-recorded version of "But I'm Scared" and is offering it as a single in August.  While "Tell Me" understandably drew comparisons to the Kinks, "But I'm Scared" adds a '60s California folk rock sheen to the Kinks vibe.  It is one of my favorite songs of the year so far, and I very much wish the band would write some new music.  "But I'm Scared" can be pre-ordered now.

I've also provided a stream of "Tell Me" for your listening pleasure.

The Echo Session are Tam Maher (vocals/guitar), Alistair Morrow (guitar/vocals), Stuart Morran (bass/vocals), and Ryan Rimkus (drums/vocals).

Facebook forThe Echo Session
Flowers In The Dustbin page for The Echo Session

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Guru" by Coast Modern

Coast Modern is a Los Angeles duo comprised of Coleman Trapp and Luke Atlas, and we think they are about to make their way into a lot of summer playlists.  Their latest offering is the dancehall inspired ready-for-the-beach jam "Guru".  We also have included previously released "Hollow Life" and "Animals" to demonstrate that these guys have a full arsenal of sounds.  The guys played SXSW in March and are spending much of the rest of the year on the road.  The Bumbershoot appearance may get me to venture to Seattle Center on September 2.


Tour Dates:
05/22 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel *
05/23 – Richmond, VA @ The National *
05/24 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
05/25 – New York City, NY @ Terminal 5 *
05/27 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory *
06/10 – San Francisco, CA @ Popscene
06/14 – Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall #
06/15 – New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall #
06/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
06/18 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos’ South End #
06/20 – Charleston, SC @ The Music Farm #
06/21 – Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage #
07/08 – Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest
07/09 – Kansas City, MO @ Power & Light District #
07/11 – Indianapolis, IN @ Old National Center
07/12 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue #
07/13 – Chicago, IL @ Metro #
07/15 – Columbus, OH @ PromoWest Fest
07/18 – St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room #
07/19 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom #
07/24 – Detroit, MI @ Mo Pop Festival
08/01 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom #
08/03 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre #
08/05 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory #
09/02 – Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot
09/19 – Portland, OR @ Wonder ^
09/21 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore ^
09/25 – Denver, CO @ Gothic ^
09/27 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity ^
09/28 – Chicago, IL @ Metro ^
09/30 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix ^
10/04 – Boston, MA @ Royale ^
10/05 – Philadelphia, PA @ TLA ^
10/06 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^
10/08 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse ^
10/09 – Nashville, TN @ 3rd and Lindsley ^
10/11 – Dallas, TX @ Granada ^
10/12 – Houston, TX @ Whtie Oak
10/13 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s
10/16 – San Diego, CA @ Observatory North Park ^
10/17 – Orange Country, CA @ Observatory ^
10/18 – Los Angeles, CA @ Belasco Theatre ^
10/19 – San Francisco, CA @ Warfield ^
* = w/ B├śRNS
# = w/ The Wombats
^ = w/ The Temper Trap

"A Festival In 1995" and "Stolen Police Car" by Colourful Band

The Colourful Band is one of our favorite bands from Scotland.  The band is Ian McKelvie and various supporting musicians.  We featured their 2015 album Sometimes It Rains about a year ago (link), and their excellent self-titled LP back in 2012 (here).  While busy with careers, surfing and other distractions of life, Ian manages to find time to pen new songs.  We have two for you today, "A Festival In 1995" and its B-side, "Stolen Police Car".  The lead track is a nostalgic look back at, well, a festival in 1995.  The B-side is a slice of garage surf that sounds like what you'd get if The Jesus and Mary Chain were the tough guy cousins of the Beach Boys.  If it makes you want to go out and steal a police car, the band wants you to know that they disclaim any liability whatsoever.  And that disclaimer will stick.  Trust me, I'm a lawyer.

You will note the little download arrows on the Soundcloud widgets.  You also can find the songs on iTunes.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Ariana" by Mercury Girls

Some new bands need a few singles and EPs to find their sound and become the next indie "it".  And then there are bands like Mercury Girls.  The Philadelphia five-piece was only formed last year, but already is locked and loaded, radio and pop-fest friendly, SXSW-tested, and ready to show off to your best friends.  Their sound recalls C86 and Sarah Records, but digging down a bit I'd describe it as Veronica Falls and Popguns with a dose of Shop Assistant's Glasgow grit.  And if I name check three of my favorite bands of ye olden days in describing a newcomer, you can bet that I'm very high on that newcomer.

Slumberland Records, a label with well-demonstrated good taste in new indie bands, has signed Mercury Girls for their official record debut, the two-song Ariana.  The title track is a racing, rushing noise pop triumph with simmering verses, thumping rhythms and swelling choruses.  It is the kind of song that makes you instantly love a band.  The B-side, "All That Heaven Allows", could make a strong case for a double A-side designation for this record, if not for the strength of the leading track.  For its part, "All That Heaven Allows" burnishes the band's post punk chops and demonstrates that their arsenal is far more that perfectly sweetened noise pop.

Ariana is out on Friday, May 20 in vinyl and digital formats, and is available to pre-order now.  Mercury Girls will be playing Popfest in New York, and touring in the Eastern US.

Mercury Girls are Sarah Schimineck, Kevin Attics, Andrew Hagiwara, Chris Schackerman, and Kevin O'Halloran.

Bandcamp for Ariana
Slumberland Records

Eskimeaux - Year of the Rabbit

Eskimeaux is the recording and performing name used by Gabrielle Smith, a New York based songwriter and producer.  In 2015 she released the well received LP, O.K., and now has followed it up with a mini album titled Year of the Rabbit.  While O.K. was very much an experimental folk creature featuring very well-implemented studio processing, Year of the Rabbit takes a more mainstream pop direction and was recorded live with Smith's live collaborators Oliver Kalb, Felix Walworth, and Jack Greeleaf.  While one hesitates to predict what a talented and inventive artist will do in the future, I would offer that this version of Eskimeaux is very pleasing, indeed.  The record consists of six well-crafted slices of life, voiced with nuanced perfection. My favorites at this point are "Power" and "Drunk", but there isn't a dud in the lot.  As a mini album, it is over too quickly, but it demands repeats and you won't tire of it soon.

There will always be space in my music library for pristine pop that makes me smile and sigh, and plants earworm melodies in my brain.  And Year of the Rabbit is a good example of why I feel that way.

Year of the Rabbit is out now via Double Double Whammy.

Soundcloud for Year of the Rabbit
Double Double Whammy

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Death and Vanilla reissues

About a year ago Swedish electro-pop band Death and Vanilla reminded us how very good they are with To Where The Wild Things Are (our feature here).  The talented Maleen Nilsson and Anders Hansson craft sonic wonders with elements of psychedelic pop, baroque pop and minimalist experimentation.  Their work has been compared to Broadcast and Sterolab, but really is too broad in scope for such references to be more than starting points.  The duo loves vintage instruments and horror film music, both of which inform their recording, adding depth and tension to the sweet and bright elements common to electro-pop.

Before To Where The Wild Things Are Death and Vanilla had released a self-titled EP, a self-titled LP, and a two-song single titled "From Above".  Those early works are as excellent as they are hard to find, so listeners who only became fans last year have been unable to get their full dose of D&V.  However Fire Records is in the business of providing happy endings, and has now released all three of those earlier records.  Feast your ears on the sampler of cuts from the reissues below, and then stock your musical cupboard with Death and Vanilla.

Fire Records page for Death and Vanilla releases
Death and Vanilla's Bandcamp page