Saturday, July 2, 2011

Henry Clay People: This Is a Desert, New EP out now

Glad to see some new music from this California band. They've put out two of my favorite records of the last couple of years: For Cheap Or For Free and Somewhere On the Golden Coast, and their ability to walk the line between a laid-back slacker ethos and rocking out is rare and delightful.

If you aren't familiar, give this a listen and go check out their first two records too... very highly recommended by the whole team at WYMA, if I recall correctly.

Here's a video featuring what looks like a real fistfight between the brothers in the band, set to one of their new songs, "The Winter Song":

The Henry Clay People - THE WINTER SONG from vbkid on Vimeo.

And here's an opportunity to hear and download "California Wildfire":

Factoid for today: Did you know that HCP are on the same record label as Radiohead?

Henry Clay People Website (Links to Facebook, Twitter and online store)

TBD Records Website

Emerging Northwest Band: SEACATS

SEACATS are from Kelso, Washington, which is between Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Their sound is indie guitar pop/crunchy power pop. But there are synth grooves and plenty of varied backing vocals fleshing out the songs. The band has released two previous EPs, and in May released their first LP, Metal Music. For the most part, the songs are irrepressibly upbeat.

SEACATS consists of Mike Davis, Josh Davis, Cody Graves, Joey Britten, and Julian Ledgerwood. The Davis brothers and Graves produced the LP themselves, and the band acts as its own manager. Thus far, they have eschewed the old fashioned burden of a record label.

Stream Metal Music


Friday, July 1, 2011

Old Stuff -- Stone Roses

By 1989, when the Stone Roses began gaining traction in the States after the release of their self-titled first full length, the word 'groovy' had long since been banished from the vernacular. But let's be honest with ourselves, when you strip away the cornyness, is there another word that comes close to describing the Stone Roses? It is the very essence of groovy. The psychedelic bass lines created a perfect foundation for the alternatingly bluesy -then- new wavy guitar, all covered by Ian Brown's effortlessly cool vocals (he's the Mancunian Lou Reed, dontcha know?). Check out the video of "I Wanna Be Adored" (sorry if there's an ad involved -- it'll be worth it).

Here's "Waterfall", another of the best songs off that classic album.

For me, that first Stone Roses album was the high point of the Madchester scene. Exhibit C in support:

Alas, the Stone Roses suffered a bitter, and bitterly early, split, but were good enough to leave us another very fine album, even if they made us wait 5 years for it. Here's my favorite tune off that one.

Honeydrum: Another Free Lo-Fi Delight

We featured New Jersey's Honeydrum earlier this year in a post that contained a number of free lo-fi downloads. The band recently advised us that it is releasing an EP on Amdiscs, Pleasures of the Sun, later this month. In advance of the EP, they are releasing two singles, and the first, "Cruise Control" is now available. It is a good summer tune, with the woozy, slightly distorted approach I appreciate from Honeydrum.

Here is the video for the track:

Honeydrum - Cruise Control from honeydrum on Vimeo.

If you prefer to just listen to "Cruise Control", here is your chance. And if you like it download it free at Bandcamp:

If, like me, you like what you here, check out the Tumblr and Bandcamp sites for more music and videos.


Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - Arthur Conley (and Clarence Clemons) "Sweet Soul Music"

We're headed into the July 4 holiday weekend. Confession: July 4 is my favorite holiday of the year. British readers fear not, it is not some jingoistic "USA! USA!" nonsense. No, I like it because it is a holiday without the stress or strain of gift buying, anyone dying for my sins, bland turkey dinners, people dying in wars long before my lifetime, none of that heavy stuff.

The weather is good, I get to sleep late, BBQ and spend the day drinking great Oregon beer and listening to American music. There will be no Who, Stones, Smiths or Jesus and Mary Chain played around my house this weekend. It'll be CCR, James Brown, R.E.M., Replacements, Jayhawks, Ray Charles and many more.

So the day deserves a fitting Soul Corner selection, one we've been holding in our hip pocket for awhile, patiently waiting for just the right moment. And here it is: Arthur Conley from Atlanta GA with his great name-dropping 1967 classic, "Sweet Soul Music", which was produced by and co-written with Otis Redding. The tune was lifted from a Sam Cooke song called "Yeah Man".

It's all great, every second of this song, but pay particular attention to the bass lines, among my favorite ever.

And in honor of the beloved and very sadly departed Clarence Clemons, we're also sending out this live version showing a very fit Bruce Springsteen and the Big Man.

To our US readers- Happy 4th of July! To our friends overseas, thanks for reading and we leave you with one just one simple question: Do you like good music?

REVIEW: Admiral Fallow -- Boots Met My Face

In early April, I profiled Admiral Fallow in the 8th edition of our New Sounds of Scotland series. I am writing about them again because their very good album, Boots Met My Face, which was released in the UK in 2010, was released in the United States and worldwide on June 28. The wonderfully titled album was produced by one of the best producers in the game in the UK, Paul Savage of Chem19 (formerly drummer of The Delgados).

The music is orchestral folk rock, and to my ears, it is superior to similar albums that received more press such as the 2010 release from the Mumford gang. The "ear worms" in the tracks never seem contrived, and the vocals are strong and heartfelt. The album balances nicely between slower tempo songs and stompers. But it also extends beyond the folk rock idiom to travel in territory in which you find Arcade Fire or Fanfarlo. The result is a very satisfying album that begs to be replayed because of its varied gifts. However, you don't have to guess at whether I'm correct in my assessment (or the assessment of the reviewer for the BBC who called it "the best album of folk-goes-indie-with-a-Scottish-accent since The Great Eastern" -- you can stream the album below to evaluate it. "Squealing Pigs", "Subbuteo", "These Barren Years", "Taste the Coast" and "Four Bulbs" are among the highlight tracks.

The band is fronted by singer-songwriter Louis Abbott and also includes Kevin Brolly, Phillip Hague, Sarah Hayes, and Joseph Rattray. Instrumentation includes guitars, piano, clarinet, flute, and upright bass. The band formerly were known as the Brother Louis Collective, but acquired their new name last year.

If you don't have time to stream the album, enjoy a couple of tracks.

"Squealing Pigs"


Boots Met My Face is a self release. In addition to record stores (remember them?), the album is available from Amazon or the Lo-Five site linked below.

Lo-Five site

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fucked Up -- Live @ King's - Raleigh - 6/28

I like pulling for the good guys. I swear that as a kid, when a western would be on TV, I'd pull for the Indians. Sure, this made me a loser, but it was formative as well, so stay with me. I never drafted Albert Belle or Barry Bonds on any of my fantasy baseball teams. If I ever were to have the choice forced on me of drafting Barry Bonds or Wil Cordero, I would ask, respectfully, if Chad Curtis was still available. Chad Curtis was better than Wil Cordero anyway.

I remember when I was a lot younger I once went out on a date with a beautiful girl. Because I was not good at talking about much else, the conversation drifted to music. My date, in a rapturous voice, related to me the time she had front row seats to see Billy Idol. The highlight for her, at least to hear her tell it, was when Billy Idol hawked up a big loog and spat on her. I may be making up the loogie part of it; it may have been a Roberto Alomar special, but the point stands that Billy Idol considered it acceptable behavior, as a soon to be forgotten overrated leaking bag o'douche, to expectorate on this fetching young lass. My thought was that if this had happened to me, I'd have jumped up on that stage and killed his scrawny ass. The salient point for me, though, was that I didn't want to go out anymore with this person. Understand, good reader, that at that age I was too naive and innocent to ponder the possibilities inherent in dating a person for whom being spat upon was -- just a second please while someone redirects the narrative.

You know, Fucked Up is about the least fucked up looking band you could imagine. They almost all have collared shirts, for goodness sakes, and until Damian Abraham removed his shirt before the third or fourth song of the set, there was not a tattoo to be seen. And yet, these are the people responsible for some of the most powerful and abrasive critically acclaimed music to hit the scene in the past half decade. "The Chemistry of Common Life", released in 2008, was at the top of most of the credible 'best of year' lists, as well as some less credible, including being number one on my own 2008 list.

The recently released follow-up, "David Comes to Life", is a self-proclaimed rock opera. I must admit that after several times through, I haven't yet picked up the thematic aspects, but that might be because I'm too caught up in its overall brilliance to even care. The album's 18 songs stand on their own. The layered guitars are dense, beautiful and loud, such that I’m still hearing new things weeks after buying the album. The production is excellent (maybe a little more drum noise) but, again, it's the songs themselves that really put this on a level with some of the timeless albums we keep going back to. It's almost like they know it, too. The beginning of "Ship of Fools", sounds like a dead-on nod to "Pride" from Husker Du's "Zen Arcade". Check it out:

And I actually had a point with those first paragraphs. This band is the good guys. I knew before going that the group included a bunch of serious-minded, thoughtful folks. Damian, who has been taken to task for citing Ian Stuart of Skrewdriver as an influence, recently offered a convincing and impressively antiquarian explanation of the roots and extent of that influence. The guy's clearly put a lot of thought and passion into his creative efforts, and yet, when you walk up the stairs at Kings, there he is greeting everyone with a huge smile, as if he's surprised anyone even showed up.

Their set was about 75 minutes long, and included significant chunks of the current and last albums, but also a nice window into the past. The band was incredibly tight, and although the mix was not perfect, in the songs I knew I could pretty much hear most of the guitar parts. Not that that mattered in the larger scheme of whether it was a great show. It certainly was, and the playing was excellent. The drummer, Jonah Falco, was incendiary.

Damian, who hasn't the most subtle delivery, led the charge, with forays into the audience and even a full trip to the back of the club, where he climbed on top of the bar and screamed his lungs out (not to be distinguished from his other efforts) while the rest of the band dutifully kicked out the jams from 40 feet away. On the way to the bar, he hugged or high-fived pretty much every person in the place (I confess some misgivings at being happy that I was only high-fived). His repartee with the audience was both incredibly humble (a thousand thank yous) and hilarious (noting North Carolina's status as the home of Ric Flair, he concluded by saying, 'fuck irony, I love wrestling'). Here's another tune off the new album, which you need to buy.

I'll mention the opener, Double Negative, a hardcore band from Raleigh, only to say that I'll need to do a separate post about them because they were unreal. Think 7 Seconds with some speedmetal thrown in. This ought to do for now:

Folks, take a good, long listen to Fucked Up, because they're going to be cited as a major influence by the best bands twenty years from now.

Here's one of the best songs off "The Chemistry of Common Life".

Fucked Up myspace page

Double Negative myspace page

Cool Video Thursday

I've featured Dirty Beaches on the Midnight World Pop Scout page, but I'm happy to find another way to put this artist in front of our readers. Here is his video for the single "God Speed".

DIRTY BEACHES "God Speed" from la station radar on Vimeo.

"Lofty Ambitions" by Discopolis, that hot young Scottish electro-rock band I've featured several times this spring.

Since an album of Buddy Holly covers has been released, let's celebrate by playing "Rave On", as covered by M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel.

From Young Jesus, an unsigned four piece from Chicago, "Chicago Alone Pt. 2".

Chicago Alone Pt. 2 from The Visualistas on Vimeo.

The new video for "Perfect Day", by Cassettes Won't Listen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boston Spaceships: Let It Beard, out August 2

Robert Pollard's music descriptions and song titles are more entertaining than most people's actual music... and then there's the anticipation of hearing Pollard's power trio (Chris Slusarenko and John Moen plus Pollard) fronted by guest guitarists Colin Newman (Bob playing with the guitarist from Wire!), J Mascis, Steve Wynn, Mick Collins, Dave Rick and Mitch Mitchell.

Here's the announcement: "A 75-minute thrill ride through the many forms Pollard has mastered in his three decades of writing and recording, Let It Beard is the White Album meets Quadrophenia meets Jesus Christ Superstar meets Same Place The Fly Got Smashed.

Robert Pollard has called the epic double-LP 'a subconscious concept album about the sorry state of rock and roll.'

1. Blind 20-20
2. Juggernaut Vs. Monolith
3. Tourist U.F.O.
4. Minefield Searcher
5. Make A Record For Lo-life
6. Let More Light In The House
7. You Just Can't Tell
8. Chevy Marigold
9. Earmarked For Collision
10. Toppings Take The Cake
11. Tabby And Lucy
12. (I'll Make It) Strong For You
13. A Hair In Every Square Inch Of The House
14. The Ballad Of Bad Whiskey
15. I Took On The London Guys
16. Red Bodies
17. A Dozen Blue Overcoats
18. Pincushion
19. Christmas Girl
20. Let It Beard
21. The Vicelords
22. German Field Of Shadows
23. Speed Bumps
24. No Steamboats
25. You In My Prayer
26. Inspiration Points
A. Shove Thy Neighbor
B. Human Amusements At Hourly Rates
C. Man Of A 1000 Worlds
D. Inspiration Point"

Link to Factory of Raw Essentials for pre-order.

Bring it on...

REVIEW: Saints of Valory - Neon Eyes

I expect that most readers of this, or any other US-based music blog, are aware that Austin, Texas is a great music town. And one of the things that makes it great is the fact that the music scene there provides fertile ground for a stream of emerging acts. One of the new bands that has attracted our attention is Saints of Valory. Consisting of Gavin Jasper (lead vocals and bass, from Brazil), Godfrey Thomson (guitars, from California), Gerard Bouvier (drums, from France), and Stephen Buckle (keyboards, from Canada), the band has been compared to Coldplay, The Killers and Kings of Leon. Although I agree that Saints of Valory shares qualities with each of those band, I think their melodies are more playful and uplifting.

In the fall of 2010, the band recorded a six track EP, Neon Eyes, in Austin. The album begins with the engaging "Cover Girl", which bounces along on a hooky melody and a catchy sing-along chorus. The album trends toward the rock side after the opener, showcasing the band's range. Overall, the tunes on the album impress me in two important respects. First, and most importantly, they simply are very good, well crafted songs. Second, the quality of the delivery is top notch. Gavin has a major alt-rock voice, distinctive and emotive, and the instrumental performances are unhesitatingly ready for prime time. If you see this band soon, you'll probably see them in a small venue, and be happy that you did. But I think these songs will easily transfer to bigger venues. And this band may get the chance to prove it.

"The Bright Lights" is one of my favorite tracks, and here is a live version:

By way of contrast, here is an acoustic version of the album's first track, "Cover Girl".

Here is a stream of the Neon Eyes (please ignore the fact that two of the songs are labeled "demo", as I am assured by the band that they are the final versions).

Saints Of Valory by ozonemm

The band is playing a few gigs in the northeast, Florida and Texas this summer. Check out their Facebook page for details.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ikebe Shakedown: "Tame the Beats" from Ikebe Shakedown

This Brooklyn-based large (well, 7-member but sounds much bigger) funk/afrobeat combo does it right... The horns are tight, the rhythm section is right in the pocket... They've recently released their first, a self-titled full-length on Ubiquity Records.

Here's the title song to their 2009 EP, "Hard Steppin":

If you like Budos Band and the Dap-Kings, I recommend you give this a listen... heck, buy it. And spread the word.

Ikebe Shakedown Website

Kudos to Kevin Cole and KEXP. I am consistently discovering high-quality music on their podcasts, including the most recent one: "It's a Beautiful Thing" from June 17.

In praise of the Flat Duo Jets

This blog has been a big booster of the Black Keys, White Stripes, Raveonettes and much of that primitive bluesy rock'n'roll, as we should should since it's great stuff.

But let's go back shall we, not all the way to the deserving original bluesmen, but to the immediate forebears.

I lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in the late 80's-early 90's, which was a great time to be there as Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, Polvo, Metal Flake Mother and many more created a vibrant and exciting local scene. But as one of my favorite all time men's room graffiti declared at the time: "Dexter rules this town, albeit with a shaky hand."

Dexter being the legendary Dexter Romweber, head rooster in the Flat Duo Jets - a possessed wild man with a incredible guitar sound and a singing voice to die for. His drummer Crow was the best, and the two of them were all you needed. The two cooked up more soul and rock than most people could digest. Along the way, they sometimes added a bass player or another instrument but it wasn't needed.

Dex is still kicking around, in fact coming to the West Coast later this summer. Which is what got me thinking about the great Flat Duo Jets.

If you know of them, you know what I'm talking about and will enjoy this trip. If you are uninitiated, check them out:

Emerging Seattle Artist: Allen Stone

Allen Stone has described himself as a songwriter who wants to be a soul singer. You can evaluate his chops here, but I think the man can sing soul. Overall, I'd call his style "indie-soul" or acoustic soul. However, I expect that with a full band the sound could be closer to the soul/R&B end of the spectrum. He isn't shackled to a label at this point.

Here is "Unaware", live from his mother's living room.

Stone is from Chewelah, Washington, in the northeast portion of the state (I live in Seattle and I had to search on the internet to locate Chewelah). Apparently, he splits his time among Seattle, LA and New York these days. I understand that he has been touring on the west coast, and he is playing the Crocodile here in Seattle on July 8th. In and interview I read recently, he said that he has an album recorded using Raphael Saadiq’s band. To me, that sounds quite promising.

Here you can stream his EP, Take One Session, Vol 1, which is available for free download.

There also is a link on the Bandcamp page to an earlier EP, called "Vol 2".


Monday, June 27, 2011

New Centro-matic video: "Iso-Residue" from Candidate Waltz

What can I say? Got to see 'em play it last week, just can't say enough about how good it sounded live... Scott's keyboards and harmony vocals, Mark's and Matt's rock-solid foundation and Will's vocals and eventual guitar shredding. There's a Hall & Oates quality to this one, and I mean that as an absolute stone-cold compliment.

See them live:

Tuesday 06/28 – North Star Bar – Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday 06/29 – Great Scott – Cambridge, MA
Thursday 06/30 – The Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
Friday 07/01 – Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
Saturday 07/02 – Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH
Sunday 07/03 – Schubas – Chicago, IL
Tuesday 07/05 – Euclid Records – St. Louis, MO @ 5pm (Will Johnson solo)
Tuesday 07/05 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
Thursday 07/07 – Dan’s Silverleaf – Denton, TX
Friday 07/08 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
Saturday 07/09 – Cactus Records @ 1pm (Will Johnson solo)
Sunday 07/10 – Waterloo Records @ 5pm (full band)
Sunday 07/10 – The Mohawk – Austin, TX

Centro-matic website

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 17: PET; Strawberry Ocean Sea; White Heath

Edinburgh band PET calls their style of music "heavy feather pop" which some of you of dim wit might find unhelpful. Well, I'm not going to explain it to you, so you'll just have to listen. Alright, since you're begging, its somewhat drone indie pop-gaze. The band members are listed as Alexa, Matt, Pete, Dylan and Casey, and so far they haven't favored a label with their signatures.

Stream EP What You Building?

"Bench Connection"

"Cut In Half"


Strawberry Ocean Sea are from Glasgow. The members are Jonny Skinner on vocals and guitar, Greg Kenney on guitar, Richie Bell on bass and vocals, Stuart Kennedy on keys and vocals and Cobo on drums. There is an unmistakable '80s rock feel about this music that will evoke Echo and the Bunnymen, and perhaps Joshua Tree era U2. And with four vocalists, twin guitars and keys in addition to the usual rhythm section these guys can soar. At this point, they are unsigned.

"Today's the Day"
Today's The Day by StrawberryOceanSea

"Under the Moonlight"
Under The Moonlight by StrawberryOceanSea. Uploaded with BandPage by RootMusic

"Down by the River"
Down by the River by StrawberryOceanSea. Uploaded with BandPage by RootMusic


The Edinburgh band White Heath are an indie pop group that released their album Take No Thought for Tomorrow in May on the Electric Honey label. The band seems to want to engage your heart and mind, in addition to your ears; check out their interesting blog linked below.


White Heath is Adam Pearson (electric and acoustic guitars), Mark Rowley (bass trombone, ukelele), Craig Salter (bass guitar), Sean Watson (vocals, custom bass drum), and Alastair White (piano, synthesizer).


White Heath's Blog

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Just to make matters worse for the night / We destroyed everything in our sight. . . . -- CENTRO – MATIC - 6/25/11 @ Local 506, Chapel Hill

We did fine.

There are two types of people in this world – those who love Centro-Matic with all their soul, and those who, for reasons that may be excusable, just haven’t listened to them enough. Anyone who’s clicked on this site more than a couple of times knows the love is deep ‘round these parts. I think part of the shared orthodoxy on this band is that, as good as they sound on record, they’re even better live. Part of that is that you just won’t find a more likeable group of guys out there (bassist Mark Hedman, pulling merch table duty Saturday night, spent 5 minutes trying to make sure I got the right size shirt for my 9 year old). Of course, the main reason is that they turn it up and flat out rock onstage.

Let me tell you, there’s no artifice employed to get Will Johnson’s voice to sound as perfect as it does on their recordings. Given its proper place in the live mix, just above the roiling guitars and pounding rhythm section (and Glen and the Local 506 crew had it perfect Saturday) his voice can be an overpowering force. And multi-instrumentalist Scott Danbom’s backing harmonies might be that secret ingredient that makes it all work as well as it does. But that’s all true on their recordings too. The thing that makes them so good live is that all that stuff has to be cranked up to be heard over the drums and bass. I’m not a drummer, and I don’t know if Matt Pence gets mentioned when a bunch of dipshits gather together to talk about great drummers. But all you have to do is listen to the second song in the set, Distance and Clime’s “Fountains of Fire”, to know he’s an uncommon talent. He can do the really cool complicated fills and the tasteful understatement (and he does both in that song). So even though they don’t do songs like “Repellant Feed” anymore, Matt and Mark still will happily put a hurting on those eardrums.

Speaking of songs, the set featured a lot of the well-worn mainstays they’ve been playing on most of their last few tours, leaning heavily on Love You Just the Same and Fort Recovery and working in four tunes off the excellent new record, Candidate Waltz. The new songs sound great live, working great with the older stuff. I’d have to say the only disappointment was that I can’t think of a song in the set from their fantastic last record Dual Hawks (but it was hotter than hell’s front doorknob in there, and I for damn sure wasn’t keeping a list). Highlights, though, were many, including “Patience for the Ride”, “Mighty Midshipman”, “All the Talkers” and the always breathtaking “Supercar”. (I saw them open for the National at the National Theater in Richmond a couple of years ago, and in my Joe Spectator view, “Supercar”, played through that venue’s wonderful PA system, punched an audience full of unsuspecting National fans right in the gut.) They finished with “Only in my Double Mind” from the new album.

David Bazan, who our visionary leader (that would be John) tells me toured with Will Johnson last year, played a terrific set interspersed with unassuming, yet hilarious stage banter after the Centro-Matic set. It was a fortuitous, one-time pairing, and Centro-Matic will go back to headlining from here out, with fellow Dentonite (Dentonian? Dentonese?) Sarah Jaffe opening. Go see them, and get there early. Sarah’s voice is heartbreakingly beautiful, and definitely not something you’re going to hear every day.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? Go see them. I’ll even help out with dates (and throw on a couple of videos below):

Tuesday 06/28 – North Star Bar – Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday 06/29 – Great Scott – Cambridge, MA
Thursday 06/30 – The Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
Friday 07/01 – Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
Saturday 07/02 – Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH
Sunday 07/03 – Schubas – Chicago, IL
Tuesday 07/05 – Euclid Records – St. Louis, MO @ 5pm (Will Johnson solo)
Tuesday 07/05 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
Thursday 07/07 – Dan’s Silverleaf – Denton, TX
Friday 07/08 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
Saturday 07/09 – Cactus Records @ 1pm (Will Johnson solo)
Sunday 07/10 – Waterloo Records @ 5pm (full band)
Sunday 07/10 – The Mohawk – Austin, TX

Here's a nicely recorded version of "Flashes and Cables" with only 350 views for some reason:

And here's a video for "Call the Legion in Tonight" from 2000's All the Falsest Hearts Can Try (learn the handclaps -- that's important):