Saturday, May 21, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-15: Discopolis; Drums of Death; TD Lind

Here is this week's edition of our series of pop music from around the globe. We scout, so you don't have to. We won't make this saintly, because if you're reading this you haven't been raptured.


Discopolis
The fine young band known as Discopolis presented a bit of a dilemma for me as I was unsure whether to place them in a New Sounds of Scotland post, or a Midnight World Pop Scout post. Ultimately, I decided that the music was more house and than it was shoegaze, but obviously that is a subjective decision and it really doesn't matter much as long as I bring them to your attention.
"Lofty Ambitions"

Discopolis - Lofty Ambitions by discopolismusic

Discopolis are Fergus Cook (synth/vocals), Laurie Corlett Donald (synth/guitar), Dave Lloyd (synth/drumsfx), and Louise Kernaghan (photograph). The band lists their style as "House/Alternative/Shoegaze", but also allows that it sounds like "digital fucking".

"Summer Nightmares"

Discopolis - Summer Nightmares by discopolismusic

This Edinburgh-based group is one of the unsigned bands chosen to play the T in the Park festival this summer. If you like their tracks above, check out the Soundcloud link below. There are seven tracks, all added this year.

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Another Scottish musician I've switched to the Midnight World Pop Scout roster is Drums of Death, who signs his checks "Colin Bailey". Bailey's music is released on the Greco-Roman label. He has actively gigged, recorded and remixed since 2008.

"Got Yr Thing and LFO of My Heart" live on the BBC:



Drums of Death performs with black and white paint on his face. Apparently there is a rumor that he is the object of a voodoo curse and his heart has been replaced by a drum machine. I'm personally not giving odds better than 50/50 on that one.

"Lonely Days" from his 2010 album, Generation Hexed:



"Everything All At Once"



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I think that this week we'll end with something a bit more mellow--music from the soulful TD Lind. Lind is an Englishman who has been living in Los Angeles for the past several years. He composed the score for a recent indie film called "Feed the Fish", which included songs from his album Call Me Sinner.

Here is "Goodnight from Hollywood", live from The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood in 2010:



Following is the trailer for his new album The Outskirts Of Prosper on the Dramatico label:



Mr. Lind is new to me, but I think he bears further investigation. What do you think?

Stream Call Me Sinner here:

Call Me Sinner by TD Lind

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - "Every Little Bit Hurts"

Following a bit on the theme of our recent Bettye LaVette post, here's another little known Motown artist with an amazing voice and singing style who got unfairly lost in the shuffle.

Brenda Holloway is hardly a household name. But you'd be hard pressed to name many more memorable soul ballads than this. What a vocal performance.

Friday Old Stuff: The Chills


The Chills, along with The Bats and the Clean, were part of the music scene that put New Zealand on the indie rock map. The Chills were formed in Dunedin by Martin Phillipps in 1980. The first three singles were "Rolling Moon", "Pink Frost, and "Doledrums" which, in addition to being stunningly good songs for a new band, defined the broad spectrum of The Chills' artistic range: Psychedelia; Folk; Pop; and Rock. The band's sound was characterized by chiming guitar hooks and vocal harmonies, but with a rock/indie edge.

"Rolling Moon" is one of my favorite songs from the band:



There were many line up changes in their journey; I recall reading that there were ten different versions of The Chills, with Phillipps being the only constant member. The original drummer, Martyn Bull, died of leukemia a few months after "Pink Frost" was recorded. The band had a successful European tour in the mid-80s, but two members resigned at the end of the tour. Phillipps added bandmates and recorded and lived in New Zealand and London. In 1992, Phillips ended The Chills. There were brief subsequent editions in '97 and 2004, but the albums produced didn't make an impact with the public. As noted at the bottom of this post, there is a current version of the band.

In addition to Phillipps and Bull, players over the 1980-1992 period included Peter Gutteridge, Alan Haig, Jane Dodd, Rachael Phillipps, Fraser Batts, Terry Moore, Peter Allison, David Kilgour (briefly), Martin Kean, Caroline Easther, Andrew Todd, Justin Harwood, James Stephenson, Gillian Dempster, Steven Schayer, Earl Robertson, Lisa Mednick, and Craig Mason.

"Heavenly Pop Hit", shows The Chills in their most pop mode:



Perhaps The Chills' best know song is "Pink Frost". The song was the subject of much discussion regarding whether the death discussed in the song was an actual death. Apparently it was a song about a dream of a partner's death, but the speculation that it concerned a real incident probably helped the song's popularity. This video is from a 1988 live performance:



I don't know how many of The Chills' recordings from 1980 to 1992 remain available, but New Zealand's iconic Flying Nun label released a compilation entitled Heavenly Pop Hits in 1994. It includes all of the band's singles from that period plus a few uptempo favorites of The Chills' fans.

My research shows that Martin Phillipps has formed The Chills yet again. The current members, in addition to Phillipps, are Todd Knudson, James Dickson, and Erica Stichbury. The website and Facebook links are below.

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Website for current version of The Chills

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cool Video Thursday: Boy Friend; Aidan Moffat and the Best Ofs; Hot Bodies in Motion

Here is the official video for "Lovedropper" by Austin band Boy Friend. The band consists of Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown, but I haven't had much time to find out more.

BOY FRIEND - Lovedropper (Official Video) from HELL, YES! on Vimeo.


This video is a couple of years old, but it is a favorite of mine. It pretends to be a You Tube fan recording himself miming to "Big Blonde" by Aidan Moffat and the Best Ofs. The joke is that the man in the video is former Arab Strap member, Aidan Moffat.



Of course, it helps that it is a good song.

Seattle band Hot Bodies In Motion has released the following video for their song, "Old Habits", about some guys working in a pizza shop who shouldn't have gone to work one particular day.

Hot Bodies in Motion - Old Habits from Zeek Earl on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cults


Do you like surf and garage guitar styings, primitive rhythm, lo-fi ambiance, 60s girl-group vocals and a dark, brooding atmosphere? If so, give Cults a try. Cults are Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin. The duo are former film students from California, but their current location as the East Village in NYC.

"Abducted"


The music is moody, sleek, a bit louche. Listen to "You Know What I Mean" below, and see if you agree with me that it could be the soundtrack for a prom in a remake of Blue Velvet. Phil Spector with a handful of 'ludes?

"You Know What I Mean"
Cults - You Know What I Mean by cultscultscults

There isn't a lot of information about them, but there are several more songs available on You Tube. And you can stream and evaluate Cults' not yet released 7" below:


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

REVIEW: Alela Diane & Wild Divine

I just discovered Alela Diane on the recent release of her 3rd CD Alela Diane & Wild Divine (Rough Trade Records). What a terrific singer and writer. Maybe I somehow missed the boat because she was often lumped into the "freak folk" scene, which I'm not totally sure what that is, but nonetheless never signed up for their newsletter. But this full band effort is quite varied stylistically. It's a rich, warm and very moving set of songs.

Expectations are a tricky thing in music - they can bring you in, push you away, make you give something much more of a chance, or give up on it more quickly. This record for me is the experience we've all had where some patience was greatly rewarded. I liked the record on first impression, but find it dialing in more with each successive listen. Now I can't put the CD away, am moving it from home to car to office.

Alela's singing is a rare combination of multi-octave technically great, emotionally expressive, tasteful, super cool, and never overdone. She delivers the song.

The production by Scott Litt (R.E.M., Nirvana, the Replacements, and a long list) is outstanding, using a filled out sound to capture the full expression of each song but still keep the focus on Alela Diane's strong, memorable voice.

My favorite songs here are not the slightest bit "folk" (not that folk songs or even "freak folk" songs are bad): - one is a gentle and perfect pop song, "Desire", two are country songs "Long Way Down" and "Of Many Colors" and "Heartless Highway" is this slightly jazzy slow groove with a killer vocal hook about two minutes in ("But I've got to get back, I've got to get back..."). Listen here:

There is some excellent guitar work here too by Tom Bevitori and Tom Medig, Diane's husband and father, respectively. It's a family affair.

Not many videos available to embed yet, but there are excellent studio performances of "Elijah" and "To Begin", songs from this CD here (see left column in link), along with a great deal of other artist info: http://www.aleladiane.com/
In the end, it's all about that voice. Truly special. Here's a taste:

Monday, May 16, 2011

REVIEW: David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights - Left By Soft

David Kilgour is rightly a guitar legend for his work with the Clean as well as his excellent solo albums. On his latest release, Left By Soft, the guitar takes front and center -- acoustic, electric, two and three guitar tracks on top of one another, and some spectacular leads. In addition, there's plenty of jangle. In fact, after about a 30-second intro in which the first track seems to be going in almost a heavy blues direction, the first chiming lead guitar takes off, and the record stays aloft from there on out.

There's some psychedelic guitar work on "A Break in the Weather" and a few other tracks, but most of it is pretty straight-ahead guitar rock, the kind of stuff you'd expect from Kilgour (as you would from, say, Neil Young and Crazy Horse and The Feelies) and it doesn't all sound the same so much as it all sounds absolutely wonderful.

To me, the highlight and centerpiece of the reocrd is the 6:10 "Diamond Mine", the 8th of 11 tracks. Composed of multiple overlaid guitar tracks, it's seamless and easygoing, but with fierce leads that take you here and there, while the band keeps things anchored. It's pure joy and a perfect example of the best of Kilgour's work.

Download "Diamond Mine" here:



If you're at all unfamiliar with his work, let me recommend Frozen Orange and The Far Now, both relatively recent releases. The Far Now has the same band on it. But I'd recommend all of it, including the old Clean records, because there are no low points.

In addition to Kilgour on guitars, the band consists of Taane Tokona on drums, Tony de Raad on guitar and keyboards, and Thomas Bell on bass and keyboards. They've made a wonderful record.

For a limited time, you can stream the whole release at Merge Records. Check it out.

Here's a strange little video of the song "Living in Space" that showcases Nashville, where Frozen Orange was partially recorded... no videos from the current album, yet.



David Kilgour Website

David Kilgour at Merge Records (2 downloads available)

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 14: Aerials Up; Cancel the Astronauts

In this edition, we are featuring two of the several unsigned bands selected to play the T in the Park festival this summer.


Aerials Up plays orchestral indie pop. They may remind you of the good parts of Arcade Fire, but with more hooks and less superfluous drama. The bands debut EP, Superglue, is available at their website.

Here is the trailer for Superglue, which gives you a good taste of their music:

Aerials Up - Superglue (promo) from Aerials Up on Vimeo.


Aerials Up members are listed as Kemy (lead vocals/guitar), Debbie (vocals/guitar/glockenspiel), Murphy (bass), Neil (guitar/vocals), Chris (drums), Cat (violin/vocals), and Ruth (cello/vocals). The large number of talented players allows the band to produce intricate music and, when necessary, a very full sound.

"All Your Mothers Daughters", live:



"First in the Fire" from their 2010 T in the Park performance:



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Edinburgh indie pop group Cancel the Astronauts has been a favorite of mine for a while. The members are Matt Riley, Kieran McCaffrey, Michael Craig, Neil Davidson, and Chris Kay.

"Funny for a Girl"



Cancel the Astronauts played their first gig in 2007, and they have released two EPs. They are promising an album later this year.

Stream the "Funny for a Girl" EP



And here is a deal that is too good to pass up -- Download their first EP for free here. The first song is particularly good, and funny. Darkly funny.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

REVIEW: Wye Oak - Civilian

Along the lines of artists like Centro-matic and Sparklehorse, Wye Oak traverses the line between carefully-assembled, really beautiful acoustic rock music and equally gorgeous (to my ears, at least) feedback-filled squalls of electric guitar, with some truly spectacular leads.

Throughout, Jenn Wasner's vocals are well-sung and very well-recorded. And like Centro-matic (I promise, this is both an apt comparison and a compliment), the drummer, Andy Stack, plays a huge role in anchoring the music. Check out his drumming on "Dog's Eyes", and the great keyboard work on the title track when it really gets rolling.

I liked this record when I first heard it, but have liked it more with each additional listen. If every song rocked as hard as "Holy, Holy" this would still be a spectacular record... but the variety in volume and tempo make things even more interesting, really make the record a little stickier. .

Here's the video for track 6, "Fish":

Wye Oak - Fish (Official Video) from City Slang on Vimeo.


And here's the title track with a link to their Bandcamp page:



Sometimes I will happen upon a band and develop an instant affinity for their style... such is the case here. And to discover the extent of their back catalog: two albums, 2008's If Children and 2009's The Knot, plus a 2010 EP My Neighbor, My Creator... well, that's an added pleasure and makes me all the more excited about this band. If you like good, honest, well-crafted rock that doesn't mind cranking up the guitars, check this out and spread the word. Wye Oak deserves to have more than just an "indie" audience.

Wye Oak website at Merge Records

Wye Oak Homepage