Saturday, March 19, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-6: Hudson Mohawke, Collie Buddz, GCorp and Lee Perry, Tamaryn

Hudson Mohawke is the name used by Glasgow producer/DJ Ross Birchard. He is signed to Warp records.

"Joy Fantastic"

Hudson Mohawke - Joy Fantastic (Warp Records) from Konx-om-Pax on Vimeo.





Collie Buddz is a Bermuda-based dancehall, socca and hip hop artist. This is his current album Playback

Here are two songs from a few years ago:

"Come Around"

"She Gimme Love"

Artist website with free album download

Is psychedelic dub a genre? It should be, and this should define it. Here, Birmingham's GCorp takes Lee Perry's "Disco Devil", and remixes it with vocals from Lee Perry himself and the German act Dubble Standart. Very tasty indeed.

GCorp Website

Tamaryn is a shoegaze/dream pop duo based in San Francisco. Vocalist Tamaryn was born in New Zealand. The other member of the band is guitarist Rex John Shelverton.

"Love Fades"



Friday, March 18, 2011

Make some time in your Friday for the Nipple Erectors

Last night was the final performance of the Pogues, and even though these last few tours have been all about what Johnny Rotten called the filthy lucre than about supporting new music, it still leaves this longtime fan a little misty. They were the band I most wanted to see before I depart for the sweet hereafter, and thankfully last week my daughter and I went to see their last DC show. Musically, they were tight as a drum, including the vocals. Unfortunately, Shane looks to be in pretty rough shape health-wise.

Seeing them made me think of when I bought 'Rum, Sodomy & the Lash' in the month after its release, having only read the reviews calling them an Irish 'punk' band. Playing it the first time was disappointing -- it didn't sound like the punk music I was listening to back then. Can you even play an accordion through a distortion pedal? It didn't take many spins, though, for the genius of that album to sink in. At some point back then I took some time to figure out what the deal was with this Shane MacGowan cat. I discovered, to my surprise, that he was not some woolly hibernian delivered to us from the Burren wilderness, but rather that he had been in a real punk band previously -- and a mighty damned good one at that. So check out the Nipple Erectors (later on they played simply as The Nips).

Late Blessings: Phil Wilson - God Bless Jim Kennedy

Many of us who are passionate about music keep and update lists. Lists of music we like, lists of music we want, lists of music for year-end "best of" posts. Despite such lists, sometimes my year-end list misses an album. Maybe I didn't hear it enough before the end of the year, or maybe I had it written down, starred and underlined on one list and neglected to transfer it to the master list (there may be too many lists around here). Both reasons exist with respect to God Bless Jim Kennedy by Phil Wilson (the former front man for the seminal 80s band the June Brides). In addition to Phil, the band consists of Arash Torabi and Andy Fonda, both of whom are solo artists, as well, with help from June Brides alums Jon Hunter and Frank Sweeney.

I'd heard a few tracks from the album in November 2010, the month of its release, and fully intended to follow up and listen to the entire thing. And I did--this week. How good is it? If I'd listened to the album in 2010 it would have made my top ten albums of the year. You know when sometimes you listen to an album and you hear a song that just makes you sit up and say "that's a really, really special song"? Well, that happened to me at least five times on God Bless Jim Kennedy. Moreover, those five special songs are surrounded by a whole album of good songs.

Let's discuss what the album sounds like, while you listen to the video for the final track, "I Own It":

If Phil had been playing it safe, the sound would have been either Postcard Records-era 80s indie pop, or, perhaps, slow-tempo singer songwriter pieces from an artist trying to remind his old fans that he had a voice. Well, God Bless Phil Wilson, because what we got instead is, to my ears, a joyous fusion of The Byrds and other 60s Los Angeles bands, and Big Star-like powerpop, with a more modern guitar pop finish. There are guitars, harmonies, some horns and a few well placed strings, a little flamenco guitar, and maybe a little hint of Roy Orbison. The album starts out strongly in the powerpop vein, has a strong middle and finishes with three songs (including the wonderful "Pop Song #23") that one reviewer termed the album's "Amen corner". As an instrument, Phil's voice isn't the instrument that his guitar is, but he is convincing and his bandmates provide excellent vocal support.

This is an band that is doing what it is capable of doing well, but it isn't playing it safe. Overall, I get the sense of joy -- upon listening, I'm convinced that this isn't a band that is saying "we need to get this done", but rather "wow, we get to do this".

My only regret in this review is that I don't have more album tracks to share with you. I highly recommend that you click on the Myspace link below and choose "Pop Song #32" to hear one of the 60s tinged highlights of the album. And while the format doesn't provide the audio quality necessary to truly appreciate the recorded product on the album, I've included a couple live versions of the album tracks for those interested.
"Three Days" (live)

"Up to London"

Phil Wilson Website

Phil Wilson Facebook

Phil Wilson Myspace

For those not familiar with Phil's career, his June Brides were an important part of the 80s guitar pop scene in the UK from 1984-1986. Their punky energy and jangly guitars planted a foot in each of the Josef K and Creation Records camps. They toured with The Smiths, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Mekons, and the Wedding Present. One LP stood at the top of the charts for a good while. Teenage Fanclub, Franz Ferdinand, Manic Street Preachers and Belle and Sebastian all consider the June Brides to be an influence on their work.

June Brides "Just the Same"

"Every Conversation"

Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - If You Want Me To Stay

Well the Soul Corner has arrived. I take this as encouraging: A dear friend of mine (he prefers the nom de plume "Anonymous") mildly chastised me this week for not yet getting to the Parliament-Funkadelic tree in the Soul Corner. All in good time my good man.

But we already had our choice set for this week and it was way too good to delay. This live stripped down performance of "If You Want Me to Stay" by Sly Stone reflects what a truly amazing artist and arranger he was.

This song has long been a particular favorite of mine, its vocal especially. I discovered this version this week and it is truly fantastic:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

One more for St. Patrick's Day

Kicking it old school. Love this vocal and musical performance.
For all the Colleens out there.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I didn't have anything planned for release today, but after listening to the radio I resolved to give the readers a few bands that are Irish, or have Irish connections, to celebrate the holiday. No traditional stuff, as there is plenty of that around today.

Them (Van Morrison with "Gloria"

The Undertones with "Teenage Kicks"

"Here Comes the Summer"

Stiff Little Fingers with "Alternative Ulster"

The Cranberries with "Dreams"

The Waterboys with "Fisherman's Blues". Yeah, Mike Scott's Scottish (and an all around good guy), but the band has Irish connections and has maintained them over the years, so we'll give them a slot.

The Irishness of The Pogues has been debated enough. They make the cut, and I don't have to defend it. Consider it a reminder to floss and brush even when you've been drinking.

Snow Patrol was formed in Glasgow where the members were attending school, but the original members were from Northern Ireland. This is a cover of the above Undertones song that was recorded for a John Peel memorial after he died a few years back. I think this is a good closer.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Sounds of Scotland--Part 6: Weather Barn, Two Zebras, Digital Jones

Weather Barn

Music from the regions of the US that produce oil often has a "country" flavor to it. Here is a band from the oil regions of Scotland (Aberdeen, which is the home base for much of the North Sea oil production) that reflects a bit of that style as well. The band's name is Weather Barn. Weather Barn consist of brothers Steve and Matt Morris, Iain Dallas and Daryl Rankin. One blogger described their music as ranging from twee pop to southern boogie. However, the bottom line is that it has hooks, harmony, energy and lots of guitar. I think they could go far.

Their latest release, a three song affair called Boat Ride, was available on line at the end of February. There is a Band of Horses influence evident in some of their music, but they are capable of a more uptempo approach as well (check out "Cinnamon Hill" at the Soundcloud link following the embedded music).

Park Hands by Weather Barn
The Boat Ride (Out on iTunes 28th March 2011) by Weather Barn
Band page at Kittiwake Records

Two Zebras

Danny McGuire records under the name Two Zebras. He self-describes the style as lo-fi powerpop, and I think he's got that right.

While the young Scot has been living in Canada, his distinctively hoarse voice retains its distinctive Glasgow accent. At this point, Danny is a one-man band. His plan is to move to Amsterdam so he can travel and perform in Europe. It is my understanding that the only available recordings are a double A-side released March 1 and containing the above "Dreams" and the following "Desperately Seeking Something", and a previously released Anecdotes EP.

Anecdotes EP


Digital Jones

Sometimes bands obviously using synthesizers get a bad rap, but I think that the flexibility in sound added by a synth should be embraced by the indie rock scene. Here is the interesting sound of Digital Jones -- live base, drums and horn, synthesizer and a female lead singer born to entertain.

The combination allows a small group to deliver a satisfyingly large sound in a club atmosphere.