Saturday, April 23, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-11: The Rayographs; Morning Favorites; Jamaican singles

The Rayographs are Astrud Steehouder (guitar & vocals); Jessamine Tierney (bass & vcoals) and Amy Hurst (drums & vocals). They play a their own take of bluesy psychedelia with more than a touch of garage. Their first LP, Rayographs, will be released next week.

"Space of the Halls"

By the way, the band seems to be somewhat indifferent to whether "The" appears before "Rayographs". But don't confuse this band with "Rayograph" (singular), as that is a different artist.

When a fairly new band draws comparisons to Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, The Pixies, and Throwing Muses, and their recorded work is likened to Nick Cave's Tupelo, I'd be crazy not to take notice. And so would you, dear reader.

Live performance, October 2009


Last year French group Morning Favorites released an album entitled The Five Red Flags. Here is the single "Every Single Day":


Members of the group are Remi Denis, Maxime Morredu, Romain Villard, and Jean Marc Wenger. The music is psychedelic pop. Check out "Closed Up in a Star" on the Myspace link below.

Myspace (with more songs)

And now for a modern reggae set from Jamaica. First, Shaggy, Mr. Vegas and Outlaw Josey Wales laud "Sweet Jamaica". The video was filmed in 14 parishes on the island.

Next is the sweet voiced Gyptian in "Nah Let Go".

(Baby) Cham, with Bounty Killer and Mykal Rose, in "Stronger".

Friday Old Stuff -- Archers of Loaf / C.O.C.

Despite, or maybe because of, a healthy crop of new bands emerging from the Chapel Hill - Raleigh - Durham scene the past few years, we've also had a bit of a renaissance in these parts, with brilliant recent albums from area titans Superchunk and a reunited Polvo. Hell, there even have been multiple sightings of the great 90s punk band Pipe. Still, I think most of us were shocked a few weeks ago to read in the music press that Archers of Loaf had made an unannounced reappearance, playing a set at the Cat's Cradle as the opener for Raleigh's The Love Language.

Even so, there wasn't a whole lot of reason to believe it might be a full-blown "we're getting the band back together" sort of thing. Eric Bachmann has quieted down (some may say "matured"), and gone on to create a beautiful, separate music legacy with his Crooked Fingers project. In fact, the last I had heard, he had moved away from Chatham County and was living out west somewhere -- probably with a bunch of damned hippies or something. Then last week it was announced that AoL will be playing a nationwide tour this summer. So is it too much to begin hoping that this will be more than a nostalgia trip, and that we'll be seeing some new material making its way into their sets? Go see them and find out.

I think my favorite Archers song is "The Lowest Part is Free" from the EP "Vs. the Greatest of All Time." It's a pretty acerbic take on the music industry circa 1995 ("got nothing to say and you say it anyway").

And here's "Might", from "Icky Mettle". Can one, in two minutes, better capture the sound of the Chapel Hill scene in '94 than this?

It's coming on 30 years since a hardcore punk band called Corrosion of Conformity played its first shows as a band at the old Fallout Shelter at 2 S. West Street here in Raleigh. A lot has changed. The Fallout Shelter was replaced by a neighborhood gay bar in the mid-90s (I know the owners and they're great folks), and Woody Weatherman's parents' jewelry store a half mile up Hillsborough Street closed a couple of years ago and is now a Loco-Pops. Some things haven't changed. The Roast Grill is still across the street, and still has the old Coca-cola sign with the big block letters advertising "HOT WEINERS"-- all the more amusing given the "new" tenant across the way.

And COC changed as well. These changes were not only in the lineup (and there were many of those), but also in musical direction, as they seamlessly became one of the better metal bands in the 1990s. With "Blind", "Deliverance" and "Wiseblood", COC could point to a five year output of groundbreaking music that has been matched only rarely in any decade. I don't know that it's accurate to say COC ever "broke up", but last year they began playing shows as a trio again for the first time since the 80s. The lineup of Woody Weatherman, Mike Dean and Reed Mullin last played together in support of the 1985 album "Animosity", but are back in the studio recording an album of new material. They are also back on the road, playing last week in Holland at the Roadburn Festival (curated by Sunn O)))) (yes I spent some time wondering what to do about closing that previous parenthetical).

Here they are last week playing "Holier" from "Animosity".

Here's the classic "Big Problems" from the "Clerks" soundtrack.

This is a good live clip of "Wise Blood" from a show in Spain. Woody can really shred.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Old Stuff: Neil Young with Dylan and The Band: "The Weight" from Wolfgang's Vault

Wolfgang's Vault is really an amazing website. You truly never know what you're going to find on there, and the updates are well worth subscribing to. Here's an example:

Concert Summary

Bob Dylan - guitar, vocals
Neil Young - guitar, piano, vocals
Tim Drummond - guitar
Ben Keith - pedal steel guitar
Rick Danko - bass, vocals
Garth Hudson - keyboards
Levon Helm - drums, vocals

Following the outstanding performances that proceeded it, this closing All-Star set from the 1975 Bay Area S.N.A.C.K. benefit had a lot to live up to. With a lineup that featured Neil Young and Bob Dylan, backed by two members from Neil's group, the Stray Gators, and three from the Band, one would expect this to be an incredible set. In some respects it certainly is, but the lack of rehearsal opportunity and technical problems prevent it from being the extraordinary performance it had the potential to be. This is not to say that there's anything less than enjoyable about the set, but it's more of an example of great musicians getting together for the sheer fun of it than a demonstration of collaborative innovation. The performances are loose and ragged, but definitely not without their charm.

Listen to more Neil Young at Wolfgang's Vault.j

It seemed fitting on an Old Stuff Friday to give these fine folks a plug, just in case there's anyone coming across our blog who doesn't already know about Wolfgang's Vault.

REVIEW: The Raveonettes - Raven in the Grave

The Raveonettes have always sounded both fresh and familiar, an updated swaggering sound that evokes fond personal memories and more generalized feelings of excitement and a hint of danger. The familiar is easy to understand because there is a decided retro feel to the reverb and distortion of the instrumentation and the boy-girl vocals. The freshness derives from the care in production and musicianship, as well as the evident intensity in the delivery.

For me, the world conjured by The Raveonettes' previous albums was the world of warm summer nights and running a Dodge Charger through the 1960s-1970s from town to the waterside bar at the Chain of Lakes (my kids aren't reading this, are they?). The only sure promise was cheap beer and the chance of checking out the other sex. But there was the chance of more--loving, fighting, crashing. Some nights ended happy and some did not, but all ended with stories.

So now we come to the 5th album from Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo, Raven in the Grave. The first single and opening track is "Recharge and Revolt". The beginning is recognizably The Raveonettes, but after the introduction, the synths swell up and provide a carpet of sound to carry the song.

The second track,"War in Heaven" begins with spare instrumentation. When the vocals drop in, they are soft and haunting. Several tracks later in the album take this approach as well. But whether the song is fast or amped up, or slow and soft, the music is enveloping and gorgeous.

The third track, "Forget that You're Young", is worthy of being a single. It has a bit of the bounce of previous work from the band, but feels more restrained and a bit sad:

To my ears, this album continues the magic that is The Raveonettes, but that doesn't mean it is the same. It still is night music, but generally it is slower and darker. It evokes coming home well after midnight, tired and driving slowly while peering though the fog. Or talking with friends about disappointments or opportunities past, friends that didn't make it that far or who might not make it much farther. The generous use of synths, in addition to the characteristic careful guitar work, enhance the somber atmosphere.

"Ignite" is one of my favorite songs on the album:

It isn't that album I thought it would be, but I very much like the album that it is.


Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - Ray Charles

Is Ray Charles a soul, blues, country or a jazz singer? Yes.

Whatever genre or style of song Ray attempted, he redefined it as his very own and infused it with an astounding amount of soul.

I'm watched many Ray clips this week looking for just the right one, a wonderful if damn near impossible task. My conclusion: We could select a Ray Charles video every Friday for the next year and have a great series here. While we have to go with just this week, we will stretch our usual limit of just 1 song to 3 songs, as after all, this is Ray Charles.

First, up, "My Bonnie" reportedly recorded live in Brazil in 1963. Love Ray's vocal and David "Fathead" Newman's sax solo:

Next up, the classic "Hit The Road Jack" from the same concert. The Raelettes backing is terrific, especially the searing solo vocal by Margie Hendricks, one of the great all time moments in American music ("You ain't got money, you're justa no good!").

One more, the original recorded version so perfect we're going with that. Again, Margie Hendricks' vocal is slamming. Here's the great Ray Charles, tearing it up in the Soul Corner, on "(Night Time is) The Right Time":

Thursday, April 21, 2011

REVIEW: Ringo Deathstarr - Colour Trip

Oh, man is this good. Texas band with a retro-pop sound and a goofy name; have I heard that before? Yes I have...though I'm pretty sure they don't share any members with the great Deathray Davies, perhaps John Dufilho's band name was an inspiration of sorts... Ringo Deathstarr prove once again (if proof were still needed) that originality is overrated. What are we hearing? Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, sure, but it's really well-done.

They released a self-titled album in 2007, a single in 2009, and this album Colour Trip in February 2011. They're hitting on all cylinders: short songs, short album, lots of fuzz and great female lead vocals (Alex Gehring), offset by an occasional duet with male lead vocalist Elliott Frazier. These folks deserve a wider hearing. Tell all your friends.

Ringo Deathstarr Facebook

Ringo Deathstarr at SVC Records Website

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Morning Jacket: Circuital, due out May 31...

My Morning Jacket has a new one due out soon, in case you haven't heard... Looks like it is timed, coincidentally or not, to lead right into Bonnaroo... Follow this link to sign up and receive a free download in your mailbox.

And here's the video, such as it is...

Song sounds pretty good, that guy sure can sing and they've got some pretty good guitars on this one. Looking forward to it.

New Sounds of Scotland--Part 10: Penguins Kill Polar Bears; Johnny Reb

It seems that a large percentage of bands these days celebrate "the bear". We have Grizzly Bear, Bear Bones, Bear Driver, Panda Bear, Panda Su, and so on. Well, these lads from Edinburgh buck the ursine trend by unabashedly celebrating the little known bear killers--penguins. Penguins Kill Polar Bears describes their genre as loud, vocal post punk. You may notice a similarity to The Twilight Sad. They are signed to Mountain Halo Records in the UK and Dromedary Records in the US and have released a couple of EPs. The band sports a twin guitar attack, plus bass and drums. The members are Ben Proudlock, Gavin Cormack, Kieran McGuckian, and Fraser Sanaghan.

"Sapling" is a new video that will be released on May 23rd:




Johnny Reb is a Glasgow pop band. Their album, The Portugal Years, was recorded near the end of 2010. The band is Matt Mellor (vocals/guitar), Felix Bucklow (drums), Phil Hunter (bass), and Joe Bucklow (lead guitar). I think I'd describe the sound as punky Celtic (think Mike Scott's Waterboys) indie pop, but if you need another opinion the producer called it "Dire Straits on speed". But labels aside, I really enjoy the album and hope you will as well.

The biography on their Facebook page is amusing, but perhaps not 100 percent factual.

Bandcamp -- Free download of album

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 9: Little Eskimos; Zoobizaretta; Nevada Base

We're happy to present three excellent bands from Scotland today:

What do you do when suffering from heartbreak? If you're Kevin Harper, you write a bunch of kick ass songs, find some bandmates and found Little Eskimos. In addition to Kevin, the band may consist of Alban Dickson, Neil McCulloch, William Shearer and Nick Cheetham. Then again, it may not. The Facebook page is somewhat contradictory on that point.

"Merry Christmas My Dear"

Merry christmas my dear by Little Eskimos

Little Eskimos self-released Are You Still With Us, and are working at writing and playing new music. They are based in central Scotland.

"Get Yourself Together"

Regardless of the impetus for starting a band, this is not music for moping. It is good indie rock, and I wish the band good luck.

"Broken Heart Brigade"

broken heart brigade by Little Eskimos

Soundcloud (six songs)

Zoobizaretta is a Glasgow indie pop group with a big sound and male/female vocals. Their entire album, Foam & Leachate, is embedded below. I especially like the second track, "Something New". However, I sincerely recommend the entire album; it is note perfect pop music.

The band members are Matt Clark, Marlous Peterse, Lynsey McCabe, Ali Simpson, Jay Simpson, Toby Ross, Wull Swales.


Another band I expect to hear, and hear more of, in the future is Glasgow's Nevada Base. The band members are Albert, Andy, Gus and James. The play unabashed electro pop/rock. They remind me a bit of Depeche Mode, and seem destined to provide the soundtrack for many a dancefloor. I don't know much about them but their new single, "Love in My Mind", is very good. It was filmed at Glasgow's famed live venue -- King Tut's Wah Wah Hut and is released this month on the Flowers in the Dustbin label.

"Spacer Woman"

Here is a Soundcloud set of their songs, including a few remixes:

Releases by NevadaBase

Flowers in the Dustbin

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Emerging Seattle Bands: Tea Cozies; The Lonely Forest

Garage rock/British indie rock Tea Cozies aren't signed, which is a shame. The band consists two females and two males -- Jessi Reed, Brady Harvey, Jeff Anderson and Garrett Croxon -- and has its origins in Colorado, although Seattle now is home. The band released a 5-track EP in 2009, and then an LP entitled Hot Probs. The single below was released earlier this year and the group is working on their second LP.

"Dead Man's Sister", a download of which is available at Bandcamp

Dead Man's Sister from Tea Cozies on Vimeo.


The Lonely Forest is a rock band from Anacortes, Washington, on the shores of Puget Sound. The members are singer/guitarist/keyboardist John Van Deusen, guitarist Tony Ruland, drummer Braydn Krueger, and bassist Eric Sturgeon, and they formed the band as teenagers in 2005. The band won a best new band competition, gigged extensively, played the Bumbershoot and Sasquatch festivals and played a sold out show at Seattles Showbox venue. They are signed to Trans Records, the label founded by Chris Walla, producer and a member of Death Cab for Cutie.

"We Sing in Time"

"Woe is Me" from the 2009 release:

KEXP inStudio 26.2 - THE LONELY FOREST from More Dust Than Digital on Vimeo.