Saturday, June 4, 2011

Moon Duo: Mazes

Just last week, I was wondering when we'd get something new from Wooden Shjips, a psychedelic band from SF I discovered last fall. Yeah, I know, you already knew about them...

Going over a few recent KEXP podcasts, I discovered a Kevin Cole podcast (Vol 249, "Hey Ho Let's Go") that contained this song:

Lo and behold, that's Ripley Johnson, the lead guitarist from Wooden Shjips! Moon Duo has been making music for a few years, and this is their latest, released March 29 on Sacred Bones Records.

Moon Duo- Mazes by sacredbones

Here's a live in-studio performance on KEXP from last year.

Had seen their name, probably on double bills with some other bands I like, but this is the first I've heard of their music, and I like it a lot. If you like Neu, Sonic Youth, Velvet Underground, or maybe the place where those three would theoretically overlap, you ought to check out Moon Duo. Really good music, made with care and some incredible guitar work.

Moon Duo Myspace

Moon Duo Website

Midnight World Pop Scout-17: Jacques Green; Woven Bones; Circle Pit

Welcome to the 17th edition of our quick exposure to pop around the globe. This week we have an act from Canada, and we've done some lazy scouting via a label in my back yard, although it has given us bands in Australia and Brooklyn.

"Another Girl" from Jacques Green is a stunning track from this Canadian R&B/House artist. I know little about Greene other than he is from Montreal and records on the LuckyMe and Night Slugs labels.

There are a number of quality songs at the Soundcloud link below.

Recent tune "Rinse"

Rinse, march 24th by Jacques Greene


Now we have a home delivery of psychedelic garage/noise pop from Woven Bones. Woven Bones are from Austin, Texas but relocated to Brooklyn. They have released a couple of songs for Hardly Art Records, and will be releasing a full length for that label later this year. They previously release records on the Sweet Rot Records label, among others. I love the sound this band makes.

"I Gotta Get"

"Creepy Bone" is a previous release for Sweet Rot Records:

Artist Page at Hardly Art Records

Circle Pit is a duo formed a few years ago in Sydney, Australia by Angela Bermuda and Jack Mannix. For live shows the group expands to include Harriet Hudson, All Haddock and Jeff Lewis. In the United States, Circle Pit is signed to Hardly Art Records, a subsidiary of Seattle's Sub Pop.

Following is the video for their single, "Speed Limits":

Here are two songs, "Slave" and "Honey", which show the band's slowcore, goth face.

Circle Pit - Slave / Honey by hardlyartrecords

The band has a poppier face, as well, demonstrated by "Another Trick":

Artist page at Hardly Art Records

Emerging Seattle Bands: Sports

You may be under the delusion that the life of a music blogger is all high pay, limos, private jets, fancy parties and beautiful companions. And of course you'd mostly be right. But some bands, the very people we are striving to launch into their own world of limos, private jets and groupies, make it harder. Yes, I'm looking at you, Sports. Put "sports" in a search engine and see what you get. And I don't even like baseball!

However, I forgive this Seattle electro rock outfit because they sound so damn good. Here is "Every World Is A World of Your Own":

Sports lists their record label as Crash Symbols, but they don't provide much other information.

Here you can stream their 8-track album, Sports (nice, I can search for "sports" "sports"), which was released in April.

If you like the sound of this album, it is available at the Bandcamp link below for name-your-price.


REVIEW: Robert Pollard - Lord of the Birdcage

Bob Pollard's poetry put to music? Reminds me a bit of the song "Factory of Raw Essentials", 1:25 of meandering, beautifully-sung poetry from 2002's Universal Truths and Cycles of which I never tire... when Bob wants to put the lyrics front and center, it usually yields results like that... and this:

"I got a smashed middle finger
Let me explain that
Big kids were shooting the rock
It was a nine pound rock
I tried to stop the rock
You can’t stop the rock
It rolled over my finger
Crushed it like a grape..."

You can't stop the rock. True, and ain't that a great thing? Here's a nice explication of this song at No Ugly Babies.

This record definitely meanders and it is nowhere near as focused as the Lifeguards or Boston Spaceships discs he released earlier this year... but that's kind of the point of poetry: exploration of the sounds and relationships of words. Considering the words themselves, not so much what they mean, but how they sound, can be a very rewarding way to listen to Pollard. It's just a little more obvious here.

And it finishes strong, with "Holy Fire", an angular rocker, leading into "Ash Ript Telecopter", which just rocks.

Here's another one of the rockers, "Aspersion":

Listen in its entirety at Spinner.

Buy download at GBV Digital, and CD at Factory of Raw Essentials. Or do what I did, go by your local record store and buy a copy. Reward them for stocking Bob's records.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - The Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band

The Soul Corner has been to Chicago, traveled down South and nearly set up residence in the Motor City. So it's time we head to the West coast.

And man does this bring back memories for me. When I was a young kid in 1969 and "Do Your Thing" came on the radio, you could guarantee the parents were turning it down and sending you the disapproving look. I think that whole jungle thing made them a little nervous.

This cooks, starts with an easy sunny day vibe, then just gets down. Love the crazy guitar sounds in the last minute.

Let's give Charles Wright and his crew one more, "Express Yourself", with a fun video that should put a smile on your face as you head into the first weekend of June, dare I say, almost summer:

Lo-Fi Goodness: Crystal Swells

Up the road a bit from me is Vancouver, British Columbia. The music scene up there mostly is a mystery to me. But if Crystal Swells are any indication, I'll have to pay more attention. The sound is garage/noise pop, and is played with plenty of energy. This may be the perfect soundtrack for your end of the week pints. Hey, I think I'll try that...

You can stream their entire six track January 2011 release, Goethe Head Soup, here. If you like it, it is $2 US at the Bandcamp link below. And it may be worth it just for the name of the album.

They also released an album, Crystal Mountain Girls, in 2010. A link for a free download of that album is at the Bandcamp site.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cool Video Thursday

Domino Records has released this video for "Breaking Fun", which will be the first single from Mirror Mirror by Sons and Daughters. As you can hear, in this album the band is moving towards the more minimal style of its earlier work, Love the Cup and The Repulsion Box.

From Is Tropical, this one takes me back to childhood:

IS TROPICAL - THE GREEKS (official music video) from EL NINO on Vimeo.

And here is "Zorbing" from the debut album by Stornoway. Anyone feeling a bit dizzy?

Finally, a nice video from The Onion's AV Club about Ardent Studios.

Memphis: Ardent Studios - Home to Big Star, The Replacements, Isaac Hayes, and more

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

REVIEW: Steve Earle - I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, CD and Novel

Having beaten drug addiction, imprisonment, divorces and untold struggles, Steve Earle is making up for lost time. His string of records over the past 15 years has been extraordinarily good, for my money better than the music that made him a star 25 years ago.

He’s acting on TVs shows The Wire and Treme. He married the gifted country singer Allison Moorer and they have a new baby. And now he has published his first novel, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) with the same title as his brand new CD (New West Records).

Earle’s newest music hits on all his favorite touch points – folk, country, rock, Cajun, Celtic, bluegrass. He is quick to credit Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark as his mentors, and that type of story based, careful writing remains Earle’s strength.

Not surprising for a guy in his mid-50s releasing his 14th studio record, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive does not break new ground or see Earle reinvent himself. Why would we want that? Instead, we get a series of very well crafted songs, with Earle’s writing at the top of his game. He brought in T Bone Burnett to produce, a major break from Earle’s usual self-production. Burnett, in turn, brought in an A list of musicians – including Greg Leisz, Sara Watkins, T Bone himself on guitars, and perhaps most importantly, the great Jay Bellerose on drums. The recording was done very quickly, in less than a week, and has a warm, organic, live feel. Every song is a strong one and the writing here is simply outstanding.

Here’s the lead track “Waiting for the Sky to Fall”:

And just because he’s in love, a new Daddy, in the best shape of his life, and artistically hitting on all cylinders, Earle hasn’t gone soft or given up his unflinching political voice. There’s a raging anti-George W. Bush rant (“Little Emperor”), and two about the ravaging of South Louisiana (“The Gulf of Mexico” and “This City”).

If you have ever enjoyed Steve Earle's music, but not checked in awhile, I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive is well worth getting. If you are a younger reader here or somehow missed the boat on him but enjoy Americana music, it’s a perfectly fine place to start.

I’m about 2/3 of the way through the novel and loving it. I went to see Earle read from I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive at a local bookstore last week. He was warmer, funnier and more self-deprecating than I expected (somehow I had him pegged as an artist I love who I would be well advised not to approach if I ran into in an airport). He says he was inspired by the Harry Potter series, by which I think he meant to create something that moved freely from the real to the fantastical. Here we have the ghost of Hank Williams Sr. lurking about starting conversations, a well meaning drug addled fake doctor, a mysterious young Mexican girl who seems to be performing miracles, very realistic street and drug scenes, all set in San Antonio in 1963. The Kennedy assassination is worked in there too. It’s raw, real, funny, and warm in an odd way. Life, death, love, loss, redemption, it's all there.

Good writing is good writing, song or novel. Steve Earle is making the most of his gifts and proving he can do it all.

Link for the novel:

Artist web page:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Globes - "A Stitch Couldn't Save the World" from Future Self

Maybe this isn't new to you. But it is to me, so here you go. Globes is a band from Spokane, Washington that plays rock music. They released an album, Future Self, on May 10, featuring the excellent song "A Stitch Couldn't Save the World". [UPDATE: The band's management sent a link to this official video which premiered on "My Old Kentucky Blog"].

Listen at MySpace:

Future Self by the Globes

Download the track "Stay Awake"here, or "A Stitch Couldn't Save the World" here, and visit their label, Barsuk Records, to buy the music and learn some more about their ongoing tour.

They're touring this summer with Archers of Loaf, the Get Up Kids and some other acts. These guys are pretty good, and seem like just the type of up and coming band to upstage a headliner. Bet the headliners tinker with the volume on their speakers...

Emerging Northwest band: Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside

A fresh and delighting new discovery is Portland, Oregon band Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside. The band has a retro sound that fuses jazz, big band, blues and classic pop. And if you give the album a listen below (you're a bit of a fool if you don't), you'll discover that it all sounds a bit dirty, too, which is no criticism in my mind. As you'll discover, Sallie has a really big voice and the band is a very good set of musicians.

Here a video that travels through time and genres:

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside - I Swear from Matthew Ross on Vimeo.

Sallie moved to Portland from North Carolina in 2006; the band was formed in 2008. The members are Sallie Ford, Jeff Munger, Tyler Tornfelt & Ford Tennis. The band's full length, Dirty Radio, was released on May 23rd. And you can give it a trial spin here:


Monday, May 30, 2011

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 16: King Post Kitsch; The Spook School

Our lead off act today is Charlie from Glasgow, um, I mean King Post Kitsch. The King's music seems to me to be lo-fi noise/garage folk, and I enjoy it quite a bit. Here is the title song of his new album, "Don't You Touch My Fucking Honeytone". By the way, for those of you who lead sheltered lives, a Honeytone is a type of portable amp with a belt clip that a street musician might carry around (What? You thought I was going to explain another word in that song title?).
King Post Kitsch - Don't You Touch My Fucking Honeytone by Song, by Toad
His Majesty records on Matthew Young's Edinburgh label, Song By Toad Records. The album is available at Matthew's site.

And if you'd like to listen to more of His Majesty's musical musings, you can listen to Some Call It Hell, But Its Home, his previous EP, here. And it is available free at the Bandcamp link below.


A band that is quite new to me but seems quite promising is Edinburgh "indie-pop-rock 'n roll"outfit The Spook School. The band consists of Naomi Todd, Adam Todd, Anna Cory, and Niall McCamley. As of this point, they are unsigned, but the band's nice two song EP is available for streaming here, and for hard copy purchase or name-your-price download at their Bandcamp site:

And if you buy the CD, the gang would like you to know:
They're all individually numbered, so you can say "I was there man! I liked them before they sold-out and did that advert where they ate McDonalds in the back of a Mercedes with Rupert Murdoch whilst kicking a small dog until it died a slow and painful death."

Their entertaining Website