Thursday, July 7, 2011

REVIEW: Ty Segall, Goodbye Bread

Ty Segall's latest, Goodbye Bread, starts out with the title track, a little mournful, but with a nice ragged guitar strumming in the background... and it ends with "Fine", which slowly ramps up from a very psychedelic chorus ("Oh, you know I love, loving is what I do") to a raw guitar solo, before fading out with a finger-picked run behind Segall bidding us farewell...until next time.

Here's an acoustic version of the title track "Goodbye Bread":



In between, it travels here and there, with songs that meander and change, but always return to a ragged tunefulness. Honestly, and I may be alone here, Goodbye Bread reminds me of records like Jack Logan's Bulk, Syd Barrett's The Madcap Laughs or Guided by Voices' Bee Thousand: raw pop/rock that eventually, slowly but surely, becomes a record collection stalwart... deceptively lo-fi, but with subtle touches throughout that show a reflectiveness and work ethic you expect from an artist with staying power... somebody like, say, Robert Pollard or Don Van Vliet.

Interestingly, it's a very acoustic guitar-based record (with, certainly, some excellent electric guitar runs and a few fairly scorching solos, including the eventually out-of-control outro to song 9, "I Am With You"). A lot of the texture is supplied by reverb on the vocals. But, again, there is plenty of 60's Sonics-style garage-inspired guitar and anyone drawn to Segall by last year's Melted will find plenty of that good, dirty rock sound here too. It's not easy to try for "accessibility" while still teetering on the brink of pure noise, but it's a task Segall accomplishes here.

While perhaps not as instantly catchy as last year's Melted, this is a better record overall. I expect it to stay with me longer, and with an artist this young (he's 23) with this much work behind him already, that's a great sign.

Ty Segall - Goodbye Bread, at Drag City Records (listen to samples, buy download, vinyl or cd)

Ty-Segall.com (good luck finding anything here)

A quick pleasure: Tennis covers Brenda Lee

The Denver group Tennis covers Brenda Lee's "Is It True?"
Tennis - Is It True (Brenda Lee Cover) by yvynyl

Cool Video Thursday

Kibwe Tavares' Robots Of Brixton - featuring Hiatus-Linton collab Insurrection



A description of the project in his own words:
This was my final project in my Masters degree in Architecture. It was born from me exploring my relationship with race, class and architecture. I am from the area and I see the Brixton riots of 1981 indirectly a key driver into me going too uni and becoming/ an architect. So i wanted to retell the story with a Sci-fi twist without the associated 'baggage' of being a young black Londoner.

Tech wise, I did all the animation, modelling and CGI in 3DSMAX, compositing in After Effects. Filming on a cannon 7D, and tracking with PFtrack. I got help with the sound from the talented Mr Bennacer and DJ Hiatus... And that's it...

"L'age D'or" by Of Montreal.

of Montreal - "L'age D'or" NSFW from Consequence of Sound on Vimeo.


The video for "Gone Again" by Best Coast shows women shooting desserts at men. I don't know why.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Viva Voce - The Future Will Destroy You

I might feel bad writing about yet another Portland band, but my Portland output doesn't come close to WYMA's coverage of the Seattle scene or Scotland pop bands. And there are great bands here in my town, including today's featured artist - Viva Voce.

Viva Voce are a husband-wife duo, Kevin and Anita Robinson, with quite a musically rich geographic history, starting in Muscle Shoals AL, moving to Nashville, then settling in Portland. They are far easier to enjoy listening to than writing about because they are stylistically difficult to pigeonhole, which is just one reason to love them.

Labels like psychedelic, indie pop, folk, soul, noisy, ethereal and more all get thrown at them and all fit at some point. Even though there are just two of them, they play so many different instruments, they are able to constantly change it up and let the sound serve the songs. While very careful in their craft, and deeply steeped in musical history, the Robinsons don't take themselves too seriously either. Their sheer joy in making music comes screaming through the recordings and live performances.

Viva Voce's latest release The Future Will Destroy You, is as good a place as any to start. Every song seems to have its own completely unique sound and style. I can't say enough about Anita Robinson's beautiful singing, which sets them apart from the standard guitar-drums noise rock duo. Her guitar sounds are wonderfully at odds with her harmonious voice - noisy, clangy, harsh then melodic.

The title track is one of my favorite songs of this year. Here's the studio version in a wacky video done by one of their friends:



Here's a live in-studio version:



And an older song "Octavio":



And if all this weren't enough, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson have another band, Blue Giant. One might be tempted to call them the full rock band, as there are 4 members and they do kick up a racket. But they are just as likely to go acoustic and play a gem like this (dig Anita's slide guitar work):



Viva Voce Band web page: http://www.vivavoce.com/

New Discovery: Ceremony


Ceremony is new to me, although the former band of Ceremony's members, Skywave, was a noise pop/shoegaze band from a few years ago that, to my disappointment, dropped off the radar. The sound of the band boasts fuzzy, reverb-heavy guitars that remind this listener of My Bloody Valentine, A Place to Bury Strangers, and, not surprisingly, Skywave. In my view, the band is a welcome addition to the rock music landscape.

The members of the band are John Fedowitz, formerly of Skywave, and Paul Baker, and they are based in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Ceremony released a four track EP Not Tonight earlier this year on the Custom Made Music label. Here is the track "Take You Down":


And "Dreams Stripped Away":


"Stars Fall" was on the album Rocket Fire, released in April 2010.


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Recommended Concert DVD: Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway



I don't usually get excited about concert DVDs. Typically, they don't provide the feel of a live show, and don't have the production quality of a video. Generally they remind me of watching fireworks through a darkly tinted window with earplugs blocking sound. However, there are exceptions, and a prime example of the exceptions is Stax/Volt Revue Live In Norway. Many believe this concert was one of the best multi-artist soul concerts ever delivered. What makes this DVD so special is the collection of top '60s Memphis R&B talent performing on the same stage in one evening. And this is talent that most of you did not, and never will, have a chance to see live.

In early 1967 the Memphis labels Stax and Volt sent top talent to Europe for a three week tour. The subject DVD captures the concert in Oslo, Norway on April 7, 1967, near the end of the tour. Original master tapes were used to render the 75 minute concert for the DVD.

The concert begins with the foundation--Booker T. and the M.G.s--performing "Red Beans And Rice" and their big hit, "Green Onion".


After Booker and company finish their solo portion of the concert, The Mar-Keys and their horns join Booker T. and the M.G.s on stage for three tunes. With the backing band now comprised of The Mar-Keys and the M.G.s, the vocalists take turns thrilling the crowd. First is Arthur Conley, followed by Eddie Floyd. Both of them are fine performers and their efforts are well worth your time. But the next two acts take the concert to a whole new level.

Sam and Dave were top performers and the DVD fittingly showcases five of their songs from the concert. As much as I like all of the other artists on the bill, Sam and Dave's set is my favorite of the concert.


The concert closes with five numbers from the great Otis Redding:



The DVD has been available since 2007, but I don't think it has received the recognition that it deserves.

It is available from the Concord Music Group

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Music/Art Discovery: René Breton - Asleep in Green

René Breton is a project of Nashville residents Ryan Hurtgen (Lead Vocals, Piano) and Tobin Sio (Drums, Percussion), and in addition to the music, they've added art and the written word as part of the package. From their website: Asleep In Green is a composite, conceptual experience of insight and sound. Twelve songs, twelve short stories, and twelve drawings meld to take us on a modern, surrealist journey, which represents the subconscious mind during sleep. Visualized by René Breton’s Ryan Hurtgen, Asleep In Green inspires us to delve into the depths of self-reflection without an intended agenda. It invites each of us to get lost in its fantastical ideas of abstract fiction and subjectively experience its creative body as a personalized, waking dream.

I'm sorry, I really don't qualify as an art critic (hell, I'm not even a music critic), but the music is very good.

Here's "Botswana":



And here is the video for "Song For an Ancestral Alien". I really like the steel guitar in this one:



It's unusual and definitely rewards repeated listening... for example, check out the guitars when they get going on "Fifth Ace of Anchors" at René Breton Page at Iconic Music, layering in some keyboards and violins on the outro. You can listen to the whole thing, and if you like it, check out their website, they have several ways for you to buy:

René Breton Website

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 18: Plastic Animals; Seafieldroad

For a nice summer day (at least here in Seattle), we have some quieter stuff from Edinburgh for your consideration.


Plastic Animals is an Edinburgh act that describes its music as "noise pop and "alternative atmospheric punk sludge". I hear the noise pop, alternative and atmospheric, and the vocals are rendered in a haunting, somewhat distorted or damaged delivery that works very well with the music. I'm not sure what sludge means, so I won't offer an opinion on the applicability of that term.

The members are Mario Cruzado, James Lynch, and Dave Wark. The band was formed in 2006, but hasn't produce a lot of recorded music to date. However, Plastic Animals just released an EP, A Dark Spring, on July 1. Other recordings can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.


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Seafieldroad is Andrew Eaton-Lewis, a singer with the band Swimmer One. The Edinburgh-based musician records his solo efforts under the name Seafieldroad. The music is emotive, atmospheric piano songs that convey euphoria or melancholy, and is inspired by other singer songwriters such as Mark Eitzel, Momus, Jane Siberry, Suzanne Vega and Steve Reich. If you want hard rocking music, this isn't your artist. But if you want some thoughtful pop with a heart, you're home now.

Two song EP Cramond Island Causeway, available free and Bandcamp.


There Are No Maps for this Part of the City, the 2010 LP from Seafieldroad.


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Sunday, July 3, 2011

REVIEW: The Wooden Birds - Two Matchsticks

Former American Analog Set frontman Andrew Kenny has made his second full-length as leader of The Wooden Birds, Two Matchsticks. He never sang this much on American Analog records, but the vibe is fairly similar: surfy, understated guitar lines and easygoing song structure. Some of the songs are very catchy, some grow a little more slowly, but they're all well-done.

The first two tracks, "Folly Cub" and "Two Matchsticks" set the tone... chugging acoustic guitar over insistent percussion, and softly sung lyrics about being together and being alone, which is probably as close to a theme as the album comes:

I wrote another about two matchsticks holding hands
each saying to the other you won't burn alone anymore


Here's the video for "Two Matchsticks", recently premiered on IFC.com:



Kenny is joined on vocals by Matt Pond and Leslie Sisson, and they're a good match for one another and for this style of music. In the end, it's the guitars that carry the music, and in that sense, it's not far removed from Kenny's work with American Analog Set. Check out the guitar solo that starts at about 1:40 of "Company Time". It's a perfect encapsulation of what's going on here, and a perfect reason to enjoy this record.

They're on tour supporting the record, here are the balance of their tour dates:

7/08 - Chicago, IL @ The Hideout (21+)
7/09 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Founders Brewery (21+)
7/10 - Toronto, ON @ The Drake (all ages)
7/11 - Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo (all ages)
7/12 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott (18+)
7/14 - New York, NY @ Mercury (21+, 8pm)
7/15 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rock Shop (21+)
7/16 - Washington, DC @ DC9 (all ages)
7/17 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl (21+)
7/20 - Austin, TX @ The Mohawk (all ages)

Wooden Birds at Barsuk Records

Midnight World Pop Scout-21: Masquer; Underground Railroad; Shindu

Tonight's Midnight World Pop Scout feature bands from Sweden, France/UK, and, for the first time ever, Belgium.



Masquer is a Swedish duo consisting or Kicki Halmos and Pelle Lundqvist. They record on MSQR Records.
"Happiness"

Happiness from Masquer on Vimeo.



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Underground Railroad is a French band living in the UK. The band consists of Raphael Mura (vocals/drums), Marion Andrau (guitar/vocals), and JB Ganivet (bass), and they record on the UK label One Little Indian. Underground Railroad's 2011 album is an intense work about London and its characters from the view of non-natives.

"Russian Doll"

Underground Railroad - Russian Doll from underground railroad on Vimeo.



"Rude Awakening"

Underground Railroad Rude Awakening from underground railroad on Vimeo.


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Shindu are two guys and a girl from Belgium and they play upbeat synthpop. The band records on the Kitune label. The music is perfect for the dance floor, a summer drive or a beach party.

"Happy House"



"Dreams"



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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


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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.

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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"


"Subbuteo"


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.

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