Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bored Games - Who Killed Colonel Mustard (EP)

Today we present another Record Store Day release from Flying Nun which may still be available.  Who Killed Colonel Mustard is a limited edition 12" vinyl reissue of an EP released by Flying Nun in 1982.  Consisting of four tracks from Bored Games, the project of 17-year old Shayne Carter and mates Wayne Elsey, Fraser Batts, Jonathan Moore and Jeff Harford.  The band broke up after recording the songs, but before the EP was even released.  Carter went on to form The DoubleHappys and Straightjacket Fits, of which Elsey also was a member.  Elsey also formed The Stones, who provided four tracks to the wonderful Flying Nun release Dunedin Double.  Moore later served a stint with The Chills.

In addition to being rare, I think this record is special because the songs are unusually good, especially for high school students, and because it presents a more punk approach to indie rock than many of the better known Dunedin groups of the period.  You can stream all four tracks below.  The record can be ordered from Flying Nun in New Zealand or Captured Tracks in Brooklyn.

Flying Nun Records
Captured Tracks

REVIEW: Fear of Men - Loom

While there is much complaining about modern pop music, and to be fair, much to complain about, at some point we need to face the untidy fact that in order to have music we want, we have to provide full support to that music when it is available.  And by support I don't just mean telling a friend and streaming an album on Pitchfork Advance.  Buy the album; attend the shows; buy a copy of the album for a friend who will like it.  And yes, this little lecture has an ulterior motive.  I've been advocating Fear of Men since I first heard some demos a few years ago.  They now have a debut album, Loom, and I very much would like it to be the first of many.  A number of artists are purposeful in their art, thinking through the message to be conveyed.  A smaller number of artists are top class songwriters, packaging the message efficiently, appealingly, and with emotional resonance.  What makes Fear of Men so special to me is that they score high in both of those categories, and then deliver it with glistening, thoroughly enthralling melodies and sweet vocals that would capture ears even without the other qualities.

Jess Weiss' lyrics directly address weighty themes without sentiment or romance.  A former art student, as is co-founder and guitarist Daniel Falvey, art and literature inform her view of the world and the music she writes.  Water, risk and sleep/dreaming also feature prominently, and the world view, although not quite despairing, is decidedly melancholy.  Because Weiss favors first-person storytelling, the album has an unusual intimacy.  The overall thematic effect is literate without being pretentious, and anxious without being neurotic.

Musically, the arrangements feature bright melodies and energetic playing; a listener might find similarities with the Smiths, Lush, or Veronica Falls.  Ultimately, the band relies on Weiss' voice to sell the song, and it is trust that is well placed.  Her soaring, affecting vocals and Falvey's shimmering guitar are treasures.  In addition to Weiss and Falvey, Fear of Men include drummer Michael Miles and bassist Becky Wilkie.

Kanine Records

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Introducing: Deers

Deers are a lo-fi, surfy guitar pop band from Madrid.  Founded by Ana Garcia Perrote and Carlotta Cosials, they now are a foursome.  All we have to judge them on are two demos, which are available to stream and download below.  And what do they reveal?  That these ladies know how to construct a very catchy song.  And given the low, low price, I don't see any reason for all of you to add these songs to your summer party mix.  Your guests will like the songs, your party will be better for it, and when people ask who the group is you can take credit for discovering an emerging band from Spain.


"For You" from Gold-Bears

"For You" is your first taste from Gold-Bears second album, Dalliance, to be released by Slumberland Records on June 3.  The Atlanta band features former Plastic Mastery frontman Jeremy Underwood and Clinton Callahan, Sam Jacobsen, Scotty Hoffman and Sean Zearfoss.  I think the band has a distinctive sound, bringing punk energy to jangle pop.  "For You" is an appealing song, and I'm looking forward to the album.

Bandcamp for prior release
Slumberland Records

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nick Batterham - Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat is the third solo album from Nick Batterham, once a member of the early 90s band The Earthmen.  Second Lovers was released in 2010, and Closing Time at Yah Yah's was released early last fall.  The material for this album has been accumulated over time, as Batterham has said that he saved his happier songs so they could be released together.  And from that you can tell that Lucky Cat does not follow the contemplative, downbeat path of its predecessors.  It is power pop and pure pop, and shows that when Nick is happy, he is indeed happy.  Moreover, he can make those around him happy.

Lucky Cat is out now via Popboomerang Records.


Bandcamp for album

"You Made Me Do That" by Cruising

"You Made Me Do That" is a delicious bowl of lo-fi garage rock with a party sprinkles on the top.  And you don't get to think about it very long because Soft Power is only manufacturing 100 cassettes of the single.  "Oh" you say in that arch manner of yours, "surely the song will be on a later release".  Well, maybe.  But you can't be sure because Cruising isn't a regular band.  Adopting the names Dick Vortex, Benzedrine Black, Sex Grimes and Dan Handle, some members live in Belfast and some members live in Dublin, and they are in other bands such as Girl's Names, September Girls, Sea Pinks and Logikparty.  The official release date is April 28, and you can order now at the Soft Power links below.  Or you can miss out and occasionally play the Soundcloud stream below and wish you'd ordered the cassette.  Your choice ...

Soft Power Records
Soft Power Records Bandcamp

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Wars" from San Mei

Recording as San Mei, Emily Hamilton earned our attention with her "Brighter" release in 2013 (here).  The next bid to capture our hearts from the young lady from Gold Coast, Australia, is "Wars", which will be released on May 12 via London label Tidal Wave.  Listen and make up your own mind, but after hearing the soaring melody and dynamic soft/loud arrangement, I think our only reasonable tactic is to surrender.

Tidal Wave (label)

Luxembourg Signal - Distant Drive

It is excusable to not be familiar with The Luxembourg Signal, but it should interest you to know that the band brings together members of Aberdeen, Fonda and Trembling Blue Stars.  With members in London and Los Angeles, band practice may be a little tougher to arrange than is normal, but the results crafted by Johnny Joyner, Beth Arzy, Brian Espinosa, Betsy Moyer and Ginny Pitchford are sublime.  Distant Drive is but a two-track single consisting of the title track -- which is likely to be on many summer playlists -- and "Wishing Pool".  The record is released on April 22 by Shelflife Records as a limited edition 7" vinyl and as a digital copy. Shelflife will be releasing a full LP for The Luxembourg Signal later this year.

The touchstones of dream pop and C86 are evident, but based on the these tracks The Luxembourg Signal is a noisier, more muscular brand of guitar pop than fans of the members' other band might expect -- perhaps more Popguns that Trembling Blue Stars.  And once you hear it, you will have no complaints whatsoever.  This could well be one of your new favorite bands.

Shelflife Records

REVIEW: TEEN - The Way and Color

TEEN takes its name from lead singer Teeny Lieberson, a multi-instrumentalist who formerly played with Here We Go Magic.  But it could also be called the Lieberson Family Band, with Teeny's sisters Lizzie and Katherine on keys and drums, respectively.  The current lineup is completed by bassist Boshra AlSaadi. Signed to Carpark Records, the band previously has released a debut album titled In Limbo and the Carolina EP.  I saw the band perform in June of 2013, and I was impressed with the quality of their songs, on-stage chemistry and, after a brief conversation with Teeny, their genuine joy at experiencing positive reactions from fans.  Accordingly, I was very interested in hearing their new LP, The Way and Color.

And what is the verdict?  Quite simply, the verdict is "success"!  In my view, The Way and Color is a notable step up for an already promising band.  Combining glossy indie pop, sharp progressive dance pop and slick R&B sounds, this album is exactly what TEEN needed to do to in order to be taken seriously by a wider audience.  The psychedelic and girl-group elements from their past are not totally abandoned, but they are clarified and refined, subjected to razor-sharp songwriting, tight vocal performances and a top-class rhythm section.  This is a well-crafted, energetic pop album to supercharge your springtime.

The Way and Color is available on April 22 via Carpark Records.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Summer's Gone" by Proper Ornaments

Less than a week after featuring a side project of Roxanne Clifford of Veronica Falls (Baggy Attitude, here), we have a song from a band that includes James Hoare of Veronica Falls.  Proper Ornaments also includes fellow singer/songwriter Max Claps, and Daniel Nellis (bass) and Robert Syme (drums).  As the band has signed to Slumberland Records (US) and Fortuna POP! (UK) for its upcoming album, Wooden Head, I was expecting good things.  And based on the delightful "Summer's Gone", it may well exceed my expectations.

There is some interesting backstory about Argentinian Max fleeing to London to dodge a commitment hearing and meeting James during an attempted shoplifting, but that can wait for the review of the album closer to its June release.  For now, rejoice in the arrival of a band that plays West Coast psychedelic jangle pop with a DNA strand from the Velvet Underground.  And here you thought that kind of sublime only existed in your dreams!

Slumberland Records

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Running Wild" from La Sera, free download

Katy Goodman, aka La Sera, will release her third album on May 13 via Hardly Art.  Our second hint of what to expect on  Hour of the Dawn arrives via "Running Wild".  A racing 3 minutes of poppy garage punk, it is a very good song, and it is a free download!   I'm looking forward to the album.

Hardly Art page for La Sera

Review: Flor

Somewhere I have a cassette Revisioni released in 1993 by the Italian band Flor de Mal, which came to my attention because Natalie Merchant and Peter Buck played on it. Flor de Mal opened for R.E.M. and Radiohead at a stadium show held in their home city of Catania in 1995.

I haven't thought about them in a long time, though Revisioni was terrific. Bur after nearly a 20 year break, the band, shortening its name to Flor, has released a new self-titled LP on The Prisoner Records.

The single "Li Per Me" is fantastic, the sort of jangly rock that this blog and its readers favor whether from New Zealand, Scotland or in this case Sicily:

Flor is a trio - singer-songwriter-guitarist Marcello Cunsolo, Enzo Ruggiero on bass, and drummer Paolo Santagati.

You can listen to the entire LP here:

We are glad they are back.

The Prisoner Records. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Record Store Day pick #4: Tayla Lynn - Coal Dust 7"

So far my Record Store Day picks include a golden piece of Dunedin history (here), a wonderful fuzz pop collaboration (here) and a tasty chunk of alt rock (here).  And now we have my country pick -- Coal Dust, a 7" vinyl EP from Tayla Lynn.  This is just the sort of release that Record Store Day should present to music fans: Emerging talent; excellent songs and appealing packaging in a limited run.  The three tracks include "Coal Dust", a duet of "Honkey Tonk Girl" and an alternative version of "Coal Dust".  The title track is an heartfelt tale of growing up in the Lynn family.  It is a beautiful song, and worthy of leading off any record.  But with its acoustic arrangement and Gospel touches, the alternate version of "Coal Dust" currently is my favorite on the EP.  However, there is no denying the duet is about as special a song as you'll find on Record Store Day, as Tayla is joined by her Grandmother, Loretta Lynn, on an energetic version of one of Loretta's iconic songs.

Here is a recent live performance of "Coal Dust" --

Nashville fans should take note that Tayla will perform on April 19 at Ernest Tubb's Record Shop in Nashville (1 pm).

Tayla Lynn formerly was a member of Stealing Angels.  She is based in Seattle, and recently signed to Nashville's Victor House Records.  A six song EP is planned for this summer.

Victor House Records - Facebook

Record Store Day Pick #3: "Porcupine - I See Sound EP

I grew up in the Midwest, and sometimes nothing fits the mood like Midwest-style rock and roll.  What, exactly, does that mean?  It means rock with chunky chords, muscular rhythms and lead guitar runs that offer no apologies, played on a template of bar band rock and roll and blues rock that makes anyone from the '70s think the world hasn't totally passed them by.  And it isn't just throwback nostalgia -- you heard it in Swervedriver and Queens of the Stone Age as well.  I've found that when people refer to "rock", this is exactly what they mean.

But who does that anymore?  Well, for one, La Crosse, Wisconsin's Porcupine.  John and I have both featured this band several times before.  They are back again with a limited vinyl/digital Record Store Day release via Riot House Records.  It consists of six tracks of the music that satisfies your urge for full-blooded rock, with hints of British Invasion and psychedelia.  This trio writes good songs any executes them to perfection.  Casey Virock (guitar, vocals), Dave Reinders (bass, vocals), and Ian Prince (drums) don't aim for what is fashionable, they aim for what they know they like.  And they have been building a fan base doing just that, so there seem to be a lot of music fans that like it as well.  If you want rock on Record Store Day, think Porcupine.

Here is the link for digital pre-order, and here is the link for vinyl pre-order.

Riot House Records

NEW SONGS: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires - "The Weeds Downtown" and "The Company Man"

It's fitting to share this newest track from Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires on a Rolling Stones Friday, as I find more than a trace of "Rocks Off" in it. Lee may be the most compelling front man in rock music today... we've certainly been on board with them since their first track came across our transom back in 2012. Sub Pop did a smart thing, because The Glory Fires have the potential to be the kind of "niche/mass appeal" band that label has served well in the past. The punk attitude and the classic rock riffs would (well, usually do) sound stiff or hackneyed in others' hands. Here, they're just evidence of the, well, glory of Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires.

The album is entitled Dereconstructed. Like WYMA favorites R.E.M., these guys are showing their Southern roots, and their erudition, right up front, and holding them up for examination... with a healthy helping of junkyard outsider art on the cover.

Here's "The Company Man" - revealed last month via YouTube:

The album's out May 27, but you can pre-order now via Sub Pop and get some goodies.

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires Website
LB3 at Sub Pop

Rolling Stones Friday: Sympathy For the Devil

This one is especially for our many Catholic readers on Good Friday -- "Sympathy for the Devil", the Stones compelling hypnotic samba, looking at history through Lucifer's eyes, referencing Christ's crucifixion ("Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate").

The lead track on Beggars Banquet (1969), "Sympathy for the Devil" represents a high water mark for the Stones in terms of both bold creativity and sheer musical power. The song was reportedly written by Mick Jagger.

In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Jagger said, "I think [Sympathy] was taken from an old idea of Baudelaire's, I think, but I could be wrong. Sometimes when I look at my Baudelaire books, I can't see it in there. But it was an idea I got from French writing. And I just took a couple of lines and expanded on it. I wrote it as sort of like a Bob Dylan song."    

The song has so many memorable elements, notably the "woo-woo" background vocals (reportedly belonging to Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, and producer Jimmy Miller), Nicky Hopkins' rhythmic piano, the Latin jazz drums of Charlie Watts, and the congas (Rocky Dijon) and maracas (Bill Wyman). Inspired musicality in all regards.

Here's the studio version:

There are a great many live versions out there, notably the footage from the tragic concert in 1969 at the Altamont Speedway in California, but the best performance I came across was this one, recorded in 1969 in London's Hyde Park, Mick Taylor by then with the band:

Thanks to Frank Fahey for suggesting this song on this day. We're always open to your requests and suggestions for Rolling Stones Friday. We still have 36 weeks and thus 36 Stones songs to feature here at WYMA in 2014.