Thursday, April 7, 2011

Centro-matic 24 song sampler: Free Download!

While we await Candidate Waltz (due out June 21, with tour starting the next day in Nashville), the band has decided to make a download available:

Free 24-song Centro-matic Sampler

I don't need it. I have everything they've ever released. But you do.

Meanwhile, here's a recent video of one of their new songs:

Centro-matic Website

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

REVIEW: Red Fang - Murder the Mountains

Our buddy Josh from Seattle has actually had beers with more WYMA guys than I have. In fact, the only time I've ever had beers with a WYMA person, Josh was with us. Excellent guy, and I've learned a ton about great music from him over the years. Anyway, it was Josh who first alerted me to the existence of Portland, Oregon's asskicking heavy rock band Red Fang. Like many, my first experience with Red Fang was through what is perhaps the greatest rock and roll video of all time -- "Prehistoric Dog." The "Prehistoric Dog" video, like the most sublime Greek tragedy, has all the elements of the human experience: fights to the death, shotgunning beers, puking, Olympian rock and roll, a 1967 Olds Cutlass (my first car was my dad's '69 Cutlass) and LARPers. It also has the greatest spoken (not sung) line in rock video history: "Hey Gandalf, nice dress!" What the hell, there's no sense being cute about it -- here's the video:

In early March of 2009 Red Fang took their two EPs and combined them into their first full length album. One night in early March of 2009 I went to a Modest Mouse show at Disco Rodeo in Raleigh with my daughter. It was so crowded and smelly and smoky that we left after the first band. My daughter felt guilty about wanting to leave, but not so much when I told her my plan was to drop her off and hit the Pour House downtown for a show with Red Fang and the superawesome Early Man. I completely lucked out. At the merch table I bought the Early Man EP (along w/ the just-released-that-day Red Fang) and asked the bass player to sign it for my daughter. I told him we'd been at the MM show. He asked how it was, and I told this longhaired metalhead that we had left because there were too many smelly hippies. He burst out laughing, and ran about the bar getting his bandmates to sign the CD for my daughter. Great guys, all of them, and both bands played phenomenal sets -- proving that there's no substitute for loud music in a small place. One of the best shows I've seen in the past few years.

If you watched the "Prehistoric Dog" video, maybe you'll identify with me when I say that I was worried about Red Fang. Think about it -- they hit that song so pitch perfect. It's a flawless rock song. Then they put it in the greatest video ever. And they didn't even have a full-length album. Where the hell did they get the budget to do such a professional production? Who paid the fooking LARPers? And despite that when glued together the two EPs made a very fine heavy music album, something made me think I wouldn't see these guys again.

Then a couple of days ago, the great website announced that a new Red Fang album was imminent. They also announced that it was streaming over at NPR. Red Fang? NPR? Isn't NPR the station with the announcers whose voices project at exactly the same amplitude of my car's engine? I believe I have tinnitus as a result of putting CDs in the car stereo after growing bored with stories about summer dance festivals narrated by Neal Conan.

So I've listened to the new Red Fang album, "Murder the Mountains" several times now, front to back. It might be my favorite album so far this year. "Prehistoric Dog" was not a fluke, I am happy to report. The new album is bursting with Iommian riffs propelling perfectly constructed 3 and 4 minute metal jams. I guess the exception, at least as to time, is the nearly 6 minute "Wires", which is the best song on the record. Check it out.

This album is still new to me, but I'm so blown away by it that I don't think I'm overstating to say that it belongs on the shelf next to Kyuss circa "Welcome to Sky Valley", or mid-90s Fu Manchu. The vocals (traded between guitarist Bryan Giles (no, not the ex-Brave/Padre, but thanks for asking) and bass player Aaron Beam) match up to those great bands in every way, in a wonderfully indulgent production by Chris Funk of the Decemberists. The album release date is April 12, but it'll be streaming at the NPR link above until then. If you're too tired to go there, here's another another great new tune, called "Hank is Dead"

and a nice live version of a scorcher ("Sharks") from the first album

And what the hell, here's my second favorite song off the first record, "Reverse Thunder"

Thanks Josh. And thank God we still have bands making music like this. Save your dimes between now and Tuesday.

Website: Red Fang (find MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, etc. here)

Papercuts: Fading Parade

Looks like Sub Pop signed this artist and re-released their earlier stuff in January, then this full-length in March. Sounds good, it's pretty hazy but with surfy reverb on the guitars and other effects that provide sonic depth, and a good rhythm section (he's called a one-man band, so maybe it's him, but the drumming is good, so...) When people talk about pop music with substance, this is the kind of thing I like to think they are talking about.

Here's the video for "Do What You Will":

Do What You Will

Papercuts | Myspace Music Videos

And here's another video: "Once We Walked in Sunlight":

Papercuts - Once We Walked in the Sunlight from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

And here's a free track at Sub Pop:

Website: Papercuts at Sub Pop

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spellbound in Seattle: Craft Spells -- Idle Labor

Despite only getting the first glimmers of spring here in Seattle, my summer soundtrack just became considerably more robust with last week's release of Idle Labor by Craft Spells. Craft Spells was founded by Justin Vallesteros, who is from the Seattle area, but until his recent move back was living in Stockton, California. He has been recording as Craft Spells for a few years and has a couple of 7" to his credit. Recording Idle Labor was a solo project, but he recently formed a band consisting of himself (guitar), Jack Doyle Smith (bass), Javier Suarez (guitar), and Peter Michel (drums) to play live and promote the album.

"Party Talk"

The style is jangly guitar chords over synth rhythms, with baritone vocals that have a haunting Joy Division/New Order quality. While I love nearly all of the music of my adopted city, I think the sound from Craft Spells is a welcome addition to the mix: A jangling, chiming counterpoint to alt-country and steel pedal guitar. I suppose there will be a tendency to burden them with a genre, and if so, it likely will be bedroom pop. But I argue that additional elements of new wave and modern production burst them out of the confines of bedroom pop. And I think that over time this band will resist the confines or any narrow category.

"Scandinavian Crush"

And the same song live, last weekend here in Seattle, to demonstrate how the sound becomes more guitar-oriented live.

As you can hear, in a live performance the guitar sound is predominant, resulting in a more organic sound.

"You Should Close the Door"

Idle Labor is on the Captured Tracks label, as is Beach Fossils, and the two groups have been touring together.

"The Frog Rose High"

And here is a jangly gem from the back catalog -- "Sun Trails"

Craft Spells Myspace

Craft Spells on Facebook

Sunday, April 3, 2011

REVIEW: Yuck - Yuck

"Why are they called Yuck?" asked the child, "Don't they want people to like their music?"

Of course they do, I thought, they're just being silly, having a little fun. And it occurred to me that, to a refreshing degree, this band is about the music and not the marketing. They're just playing what they like (and, by the way, what I like - don't know when I've come upon a debut that was so easy for me to love right out of the wrapper).

Throwing the guitar fuzz-laden "Get Away" and "The Wall" out there for starters, this band declares its intentions to honor the great 90's rock of precursors like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., and honor it they do. I also find some delightful similarities to a personal favorite, Centro-matic... a feedback/guitar explosion is never far away, and they're always very well-placed.

This record is impeccably sequenced. The feedback-drenched loud stuff flows right along into the gorgeous vocal harmonies and strummed acoustic of "Shook Down" (but, again, with jangling electric guitars never far away), and they do this to great effect throughout the record. "Holing Out": oh, man the guitars! and then "Suicide Policeman" is a beautifully sung ballad that reminds me of Wilco's "How to Fight Loneliness".

There is really nothing bad I can say about this record. I'd like to thank Fat Possum for finding/signing these folks, and especially the band: Ilana Blumberg, Max Bloom, Daniel Blumberg, Mariko Doi, and Jonny Rogoft, for making such an enjoyable record. And, keep it up, Matt Pence!

Here they are playing "Get Away":

Yuck - Get Away from Yuck on Vimeo.

And here's the b-side to "Get Away":

Doctors In My Bed by Yuck

Website: Yuck at Fat Possum

Website: Yuck Blog

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-8: Various Cruelties, The Weeknd, Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo

Our weekly exploration of pop music of various genres from around the world.

From the UK, our first act is Various Cruelties. I'm loathe to use the much overused "amazing", but to quote Sir Paul, baby I'm amazed. I absolutely love the soulful singing, 60s pop mix of surfy-rootsy guitar and strings.

Various Cruelties Website

Various Cruelties on Facebook

The next act is from Canada, and calls itself The Weeknd. If you follow other music blogs (a bit slutty of you, but I like that in a reader) you've likely read about them this week. Generally, the music is R&B style vocals from Abel Tesfaye and sounds from Doc McKinney and Illangelo. The release is called House of Balloons and the buzz is building.

The Weeknd website

The Weeknd on Facebook

Strut Records just sent out a notice that Orchestre Poly-Rythmo is releasing Cotonou Club, its first album in 20 years. This long running group from Benin West Africa has been playing since the late 60s. The music is a mix of Afrobeat, highlife, funk and soul with a bit of traditional West African music. Here the album track "Pardon":

And here are two older tracks:

Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo on Facebook

And just for fun, and because it is almost Sunday, here is some music with a reference to church from the 2007 album by Jamaican-born former US Marine, Shaggy:

Shaggy Website

Shaggy on Facebook

Son of the Tainted: "Operatic" from Exist * Resist

You never know where your next good music recommendation is gonna come from (well, unless you subscribe to this blog by RSS feed or something). I got a MySpace friend request from "Son of the Tainted" and after I listened to some of his music, happily accepted. Seems to be angling for soundtrack work, but this is very strong on its own. RIYL Mogwai, the National... powerful, brooding and very well-done.

Here's a YouTube video he posted:

There are three albums on SoundCloud, all rock instrumentals and all really good.

Exist * Resist by Son Of The Tainted

Son of the Tainted on Soundcloud

Son of the Tainted MySpace Page

Son of the Tainted Facebook

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Old Stuff: Advice for Living from Ballboy

I'm headed off to British Columbia for a few days to ski, so I've decided to turn over my duties to a guest poster. Since the advice received from Ballboy for Valentine's Day was well received, I thought it might be useful to mine that source for some more general advice on life and living. We here at When You Motor Away are all about self improvement. So let's turn it over to the readers and Ballboy

Reader: There is a clerk in the record store I frequent who is dismissive about my music choices. What approach should I take?

Ballboy: "Avant Garde Music"

Reader: I have a problem with this person who frequently argues with me about personal matters and I don't know how to extricate myself and get on with my life. Any suggestions?

Ballboy: Why yes, yes I do. I suggest saying "I Don't Have Time to Stand Here With You Fighting About the Size of My Dick":

It also helps to toss out some lines about guns and dead people just to make them a bit more unlikely to want to keep hanging around you.

Reader: I'm hoping that you can help me, Ballboy. I think I'm hanging out with the wrong crowd, but it seems so comfortable for me, and I keep thinking they'll change.

Ballboy: "You Can't Spend Your Whole Life Hanging Around With Arseholes":

Reader: Ballboy, I expect that even you can't help me with my unusual problem. My girlfriend and I are both cannibals, and we love each other but are a bit afraid of each other. Do you have any thoughts.

Ballboy: Simple, my friend, look your beloved in the eye and say "Kiss Me, Hold Me and Eat Me":

Reader: I think that my relationship with my girlfriend is running out of steam. How to I handle this?

Ballboy: I think honesty is important. Try telling her that "All the Records on the Radio are Shite":

I hope the readers find this helpful. Further inquiries can be addressed as follows:

Ballboy website

Ballboy on Facebook

Old Stuff Friday - the Soul Corner - the Rev. Al Green

Well hopefully this one needs little in the way of introduction. And I give a shout out to my pal who requested an Al Green Soul Corner. I sincerely appreciate that anyone is tracking this weekly exercise enough to make requests. (Regulars here, including our loyal readers in Denmark (hej dejligt at se dig her), please send the requests my way).

It takes next to no arm twisting for me to go with the Rev. Al.

So how do you select just one Al Green song? I picked one that slays me, knocks me dead every single time. And that is over 35+ years of more listens than I could possibly count.

Everything about this song is perfect - the lead vocal of course, the musicianship, production, background vocals, etc etc. And if you don't get a little stoked when that greasy organ comes in right at the top of the song, well I can't help you.

"Love will make you do wrong, make you do right.... Make you come home early, make you stay out all night long." Oh yeah.