Saturday, July 16, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-23: Lorelle Meets The Obsolete; Electric Wire Hustle

In this week's Midnight World Pop Scout we have just two bands. But the two bands are of great quality, and I know you'll forgive me.

Lorelle Meets The Obsolete is one of the more interesting discoveries I've made lately. The menu is noise pop, no-wave, psych from Guadalajara, Mexico, performed by Lorelle (vocals, electric guitar & electric bass) and The Obsolete (drums & percussion, electric bass, casiotone, electric & acoustic guitars). According to the notes from Bandcamp, they also had help from Hugo Quezada (supersonic pads, ring modulator, omnichord & electric bass treatment) for the On Welfare LP provided below.

On Welfare was released on May 24, 2011, on Captcha Records.

And here is a video for a live version of "Taken"

Lorelle Meets The Obsolete - Traveler (live at the Crack House) from LMTO on Vimeo.


Next on the bill is Electric Wire Hustle, which was brought to my attention by my fellow WYMA contributor, John Hyland. EWH is from Wellington, New Zealand. I'd describe the music as electronic soul with a bit of hip hop and trip hop. Nice groove, good vocals, good use of space and background. Their US, UK, European and Australian label is BBE. Their New Zealand label is Every Waking Hour. Their debut self-titled album has been out for a while. It isn't as well known as it deserves, but has received some very high praise.

Interesting video of the band in NYC:

Electric Wire Hustle_NYC from Foxtree Studio on Vimeo.

Here is the video for "Again"


'Perception' Electric Wire Hustle from Electric Wire Hustle on Vimeo.


REVIEW: Fan Modine - Gratitude for the Shipper

Press Photo 1

Fan Modine, based in Carrboro NC (adjacent to Chapel Hill), is singer-songwriter-guitarist-keyboardist Gordon Zacharias and an all-star cast of mostly local Tarheel musicians including ace guitar player Ash Bowie (Polvo).

Gratitude for the Shipper, Fan Modine's first new release in 6 yrs, is a lush pop joyride. It doesn't hurt to have the help of the Southern pop hall of famers - Chris Stamey producing and arranging the strings and horns, Mitch Easter helping out on guitars, and Peter Holsapple on steel guitar. For extra measure in regard to the Southern jangle pop history, the closing song "Waiting for the Distant Light" honors Big Star and the recently deceased Alex Chilton ("the star that shines so bright will reach us first").

This record should appeal strongly to the regular readers of WYMA's Scottish pop band series, although there is nothing low-fi going on here, as Gratitude for the Shipper is big, baroque pop in line with Belle & Sebastian and the Teenage Fanclub.

Every time it appears to be veering into territory a bit too er, twee, for my tastes, in come the great horn lines and big string arrangements, which give the songs a much more compelling sound and rich texture. And the big pop hooks are offset by Zacharias' sometimes dark and always interesting lyrical story lines.

You can listen to the entire release here, but I'd suggest starting with songs 2 ("Juju Road"), 6 ("Wormwood Scrubbs"), 8 ("Another Eventail") and especially the finale "Waiting for Distant Light", a compelling closer to a great pop record.

Band web page:

Online Concert: T in the Park

One of the largest of the summer festivals in the UK is Scotland's T in the Park. Here are some live performances from the BBC stage focusing on unsigned or relatively unknown bands. Several have been featured here before. We aren't showing headliners -- Beyonce doesn't need our help anyway. What nice people we are; a concert for your Saturday pleasure and you can watch it in your underwear.

Three songs from Bwani Junction. By the way, my personal view is that this guitar pop band has a great sound and a really good future. I'm looking forward to their debut album release later this year. It already has been recorded at Chem 19 studios by Paul Savage.

I'm remiss in not profiling Three Blind Wolves in my New Sounds of Scotland series. Here is a good set of their Americana influenced sound.

The set from Edinburgh's Kid Canaveral. Their 2010 self-release Shouting At Wildlife is being re-released this month by the Fence Collective.

Here is the set from the rockers Xcerts.

The Mars Patrol hails from Edinburgh, but now resides in London.

Friday, July 15, 2011

R.E.M. wakes up the astronauts

This video from the NASA web page is pretty cool:

Laura Stevenson and the Cans - Sit Resist

This is a very talented young Brooklyn band on New Jersey-based Don Giovanni Records (same label as recently-featured Screaming Females). Knocked out by the first run through, I wanted to give Sit Resist a few listens to see if it stands up... and it just got better.

Here's the video for "Master of Art"... like a lot of good artists, they aren't easy to pigeonhole, but everything they try seems to succeed. There's a bit of Spector "wall of sound" going on here:

And here's a link to download "Master of Art".

As I said, there's a lot of variety here. The common element is Stevenson's voice, which is clear, bright and stands out no matter whether the song is a rocker, a country or folk ballad, or even, in one case, what sounds like a sea chantey.

Highly recommended, and we should expect to hear more from this band as they gain a wider audience; they exhibit the kind of talent and work ethic that makes indie rock worth seeking out.

They're playing a few dates in the Northeast soon:

Thursday, July 28 - Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s (with Air Waves) - 8PM
Saturday, August 13 - Brooklyn, NY @ Europa - 6PM
Thursday, August 25 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s

For our European readers, good news... they're touring over there in September:

02/09/11 Berlin (DE), Lovelite
03/09/11 Dresden (DE), The Sound Of Bronkow Festival
04/09/11 Hamburg (DE), Astrastube
05/09/11 Koeln (DE), Tsunami
06/09/11 Paris (FR), Café de la Danse
08/09/11 Amsterdam (NL), Paradiso
10/09/11 Haarlem (NL), Patronaat
11/09/11 Southampton (UK), The Joiners
12/09/11 Cardiff (UK), 10 Feet Tall
13/09/11 Glasgow (UK), Nice’n’Sleazy
14/09/11 Nottingham (UK), The Maze
15/09/11 Manchester (UK), Castle Hotel
16/09/11 London (UK), Windmill Brixton
18/09/11 Grenoble (FR), Le Ciel w/ Nadeah
19/09/11 Zuerich (CH), Hafenkneipe
20/09/11 Padova (IT), Carichi Sospesi
21/09/11 Carpi (IT), Mattatoio
22/09/11 Martigny (CH), Les Caves du Manoir
23/09/11 Luzern (CH), Treibhaus
24/09/11 Dachau (DE), Kultur-Schranne
26/09/11 Erfurt (DE), Franz Mehlhose
29/09/11 Graz (AT), Forum Stadtpark w/ Handsome Furs
30/09/11 Celje (SI), Kino Metropol
01/10/11 Vienna (AT), Haus der Musik Festival

Buy at Don Giovanni Website

Laura Stevenson and the Cans Website

Free EP from Honeydrum: Pleasures of the Sun

One of our favorite lo-fi acts, Honeydrum, released their new EP today, and it is available for the attractive price of FREE.

Stream Pleasures of the Sun here, and download at the Bandcamp link below:


Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - Donny Hathaway

The 70's get a bad rap. Everyone gushes about the great 60's stuff from the British Invasion to soul to garage rock and on and on. The Summer of Love, can you dig it? Sure, yeah.

But the 70's were not just disco and bad prog rock. Soul music became more experimental, more political, and in many ways more musical, certainly less formulaic. We've looked at some great 70's artists here at the Soul Corner - Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, etc.

As one highly informed Soul Corner reader suggested his week, it's time to shine a spotlight on the late Donny Hathaway - extraordinary singer, composer, arranger, keyboardist. Not a lot of soul or rock songwriters cite Stravinsky and Debussy as influences as Hathaway did.

Hathaway is perhaps best known for his duets with college classmate Roberta Flack, including "Where is the Love."

Here's a live version of "Everything is Everything" that shows off his deep soul and musical chops:

And for his gut-wrenching emotional vocals, check out this live cover of the Leon Russell classic "Song for You":

As many of you know, this story did not end well. Hathaway's death in a New York City hotel in 1979 was ruled a suicide. It followed a lifetime struggle with severe depression. But he left behind great work and a powerful musical legacy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, free download of "Honey Bee"

If you've been following along, you read Hardy's review of the Unknown Mortal Orchestra's album and live show recently... and hopefully you've already gone and bought it. But if you haven't, here's another taste for you, a free download of the song "Honey Bee" available from their label just for signing up for UMO's mailing list:

I happen to share Hardy's ardor for this band... Here's another song to listen to, "Ffur", complete with links to buy the album digitally at UMO's website. It appears that buying it there gets you three exclusive bonus tracks:

Go check out The American Scene

I have to admit I’m a sucker for a certain type of music that some people reflexively call ‘emo.’ At the same time, most of what we think of as archetypal emo drives me up the fooking wall. I don’t know, it may be some sort of defense mechanism, but there has to be something more than earnestness and vulnerability to get my interest. So I’m finding myself really liking a fairly new Berkeley band called The American Scene, wondering what it is that keeps me clicking on that sideways triangle, because it sounds a hell of a lot like, you know, what I was just talking about. Here’s a tune off their current EP, the 9 song “By Way of Introduction” (Pure Noise Records). See if you can figure it out. Dang, this is a lot of pressure.

Folks, that there is an excellent rock and roll song. I can’t resist loud sheets of guitar noise, and I really appreciate solid, not over-the-top vocals like this. It’s got a self-assured wistfulness to it, rather than a “holy-crap-if-she-doesn’t-come-back-to-me-by-god-I—will-torch-myself-like-that-monk-on-the-cover-of-that-rage-against-the-machine-album” that makes me reach for my Mclusky. Here’s another crunchy pop tune:

Bear Bryant once said, “Sure I’d like to beat Notre Dame, don’t get me wrong, but nothing matters more than beating that cow college on the other side of the state.” Although that has nothing to do with anything except to prompt me to point out that he never did beat Notre Dame, he also taught his players to “act like you’ve been there before.” And I guess the thing that sets The American Scene apart from the thousand other bands trying to do that sound is that these guys don’t seem to have to try too hard to be heard. It’s like they’ve been there before.

The American Scene on Facebook

Pure Noise Records

Cool Video Thursday

There is something about the summer season. We have a lot of good videos to share with you.

This video has plenty of inappropriate behavior, so naturally we thought all of you would enjoy it. The group is Bikini, the song is "A Cheerlaeder", and the video was created by The India Trading Company.

Bikini - ACheerlaeder from The India Trading Company on Vimeo.

"Chorus" from Cool Runnings

COOLRUNNINGS - Chorus from Rafael Bonilla Jr. on Vimeo.

My Grey Horse gives us "Waste of Air". These lads may merit a profile soon.

my grey horse - waste of air from Peter Butler on Vimeo.

Handsome Furs, "What About Us" (NSFW)

Handsome Furs - "What About Us" from stereogum on Vimeo.

I know that we posted the video for "Everything is Dancing" from Fair Ohs in a post about the band, but the video is good enough for a repeat here.

Everything Is Dancing from Fair Ohs on Vimeo.

"The Body" has an affecting juxtaposition of images from a band with the great sound -- The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

Our final video is the spooky presentation of "Go Outside" but Cults.

Go Outside, by Cults from Boing Boing on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Discovery: Fair Ohs

We bloggers are a hard working, underpaid crew--If it weren't for the money and groupies, we probably wouldn't even do it. So we really love groups that make our job easier. A case in point are Fair Ohs. This band's webpage even has a place for bloggers to click, and it leads them to a "blog tools" page. And from this resource, we learn that Fair Ohs are Eddy Frankel (guitars and vocals), Matt Flag (bass) and Joe Ryan (drums), and they are based in London. The band has a new single, the video for which is below, called "Everything Is Dancing", and it is available free at their website (link below). Fair Ohs are releasing their album in the states the last week of July on Lefserecords; it has been available in the UK since last week on High Honey Records (i.e. the band's own label).

Everything Is Dancing from Fair Ohs on Vimeo.

A think one term applied to Fair Ohs' music is tropical post punk, with a lot of the tropical supplied by African guitar influences. The band started two years ago as Big Fucking Deal, then became known as Thee Fair Ohs, but subsequently dropped the "thee". According to the label, Everything is Dancing "is influenced by West African funk, 60’s Psycheldic Rock, Eritrean Guayla music, hardcore punk and East African guitar music, and a whole heap of Fleetwood Mac". I personally think those influences are absolutely fine, but more to the point, the music is wonderful. We can only hope that the youthful fling with name modification has come to an end, and Fair Ohs will settle down in a stable band relationship to nurture young recordings for our pleasure.

The first track on the album is "Baldessari":

Here is album track "Almost Island":

"Summer Lake", the album closer:

US Label for album

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Soundtrack: The Black Tambourines


You don't generally expect to find a surf band in Falmouth, UK, although if Brooklyn can have surf bands the Cornwall coast should be entitled to one as well. And you don't generally expect to find out about a surf band from a music blog based in Edinburgh (in this case, Matthew Young's Song By Toad). But here we are, discussing The Black Tambourines from Falmouth after I "discovered" them in Matthew's blog. First, a word about the terminology to describe the music. I don't think the music really is "surf music". The band calls their songs "beach punk", and that seems to be a pretty good term. There are indie pop, noise pop, crunchy power pop, buzzy garage and slacker rock elements, as well as a bit of surf. But whether you adopt that term or just call it surf music, it simply is good summer music that deserves exposure to as many ears as possible. (One note about the name, this is a new band, not a resurrection of the 1980s noise pop band, Black Tambourines.)

I've provided a lot of their music here. As far as I know, it is all the music they have released. If you don't have time for all of it right now, listen to "Let Me Down" from the Black Tambourine EP (which is the second of the two EPs below, as it is as fine an indie pop tune as you've heard in a good while. And on the first EP below, "Better Off Dead" is classic powerpop. I hear a bit of Orange Juice (especially with the slight warble in the lead vocals) and The Vaselines, but certainly more disciplined than the latter.

The Hombre EP was uploaded to Soundcloud about six months ago. Press play and keep reading (assuming you can simultaneously read, nod your head and tap your foot; air guitar is optional).

Hombre EP by The Black Tambourines

The band consists of Jake Willbourne, vocalist and bass, Paddy Staccpoole, vocalist and guitar, Jim Sibley, drums, and Josh Spencer, guitar. Apparently the guys met in the Truro College music program, and started gigging around Cornwall. Their first EP was recorded in a week.

The Black Tambourines EP is about a year and a half old.

And just for something chill, here is an acoustic version of their song "Vitamin D", which the band labels as Hawaiian:

Vitamin D (acoustic) by The Black Tambourines

Between the Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Blogger sites, their music is there for the downloading. Since the boys are generous and good, let as many of your friends hear The Black Tambourines this summer. It is the least you can do. Why these kids aren't signed to full tours and recording under contract, I really don't know. Perhaps I should start a label....

One of their surfier songs, "Tommy":

Band Blogger site

Monday, July 11, 2011

Screaming Guitar Discovery: Screaming Females

New to me, so you get to read a post about this New Jersey punk band, Screaming Females. Lead singer and guitarist is a female, not really screaming but certainly laying it all out there... Here's a live video of "Mothership"... 58 views, are you kidding me? Tell all your friends to watch this lady play the guitar.

Here's a download of "I Don't Mind It" from their most recent album Castle Talk, available via their website, where you can (should) buy this record. And here's another MP3, "I Do" from an EP called Singles, which also contains a cover of Cortez the Killer. Awesome. Maybe I'll get tired of their sound, but I doubt it. Punk rock with screaming guitars is pretty much the apex of civilization.

Also, here's some art created by the band for you to put in your punk rock cave:

Screaming Females Website

REVIEW: Sons and Daughters - Mirror Mirror

In their 2009 album, The Gift, Glasgow's Sons and Daughters emphatically proved that they could be a kick ass pop/rock band with a dense, danceable sound and soaring vocals from Adele. But what Sons and Daughters have done best, and most distinctly, in their career is the spare, percussive folk punk that built their resume through Love the Cup and The Repulsion Box. To my delight, the new Mirror Mirror (released in the US tomorrow on Domino Records) uses the band's roots as the foundation for an intriguing expansion. Accordingly, we get the driving bass and drums from Ailidh Lennon and David Gow, respectively, Scott Paterson's searing guitar, and the vocals from Scott and Adele Bethel. But that's just the start--the band and the album's producer, JD Twitch (Keith McIvor) of the club Optimo, have deployed vintage synths and sampled sounds (such as, to delightful effect, the sound of typewriter keys). Another noticeable development is an increased sense of space around the sounds to heighten the atmosphere. The effect can be stunning, as in the album's opening track, "Silver Spell":

Sons & Daughters - Silver Spell by DominoRecordCo

As expected, the album boasts melodies and vocal hooks. But at its core, Mirror Mirror is a tapestry of rhythms and space. I've always considered the rhythm section of this band to be excellent, if overshadowed in the past by Scott and Adele; on this album, they are stunningly good. The drumming is aggressive, even insistent, without overpowering the other players. And Ailidh's bass, track after track, powers the songs with a throbbing ebb and flow, becoming the heart of the album. The layers of rhythm continue with the synths and samples, Scott's guitar, and even the vocal performances. If I've got it right, I applaud the band and JD Twitch for the cohesive vision and masterful execution.

I'd love to write a track by track review, but most readers don't seem to want that level of someone else's musings about an art form that needs to be heard to be understood. And this is an album that needs to be felt, as much as heard. So I'll only add that the album is wonderfully dark, spooky, atmospheric and jittery. At this point, it is one of my top five albums of the year to date.

I'll close with two more tracks. "Rose Red" has become one of my favorites. It begins with a pulsing beat and Adele's fine vocals, with punctuation from Scott's guitar. But it builds to breathtaking acid rock climax. It's one of those songs after which you expect the band to rest vocal cords, replace strings and drum skins, towel off, and perhaps have a cuddle and smoke. Lyrics aside, the feel, pure and simple, is X-rated.

"Breaking Fun" is the third track on the album, has been released as a single, and is the subject of this fine video.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blitzen Trapper - new song "American Goldwing"

Blitzen Trapper have a new CD, American Goldwing, coming out on Sub Pop later this summer and a free download of the title track is available now.

The band continues to hone its Americana craft, adding warm piano and harmonica playing to its multiple guitars, and the always heartfelt and effective vocals of Eric Earley.

This band has improved every step of the way in its 10 year history, works hard, tours often and seems by all accounts a focused and very centered bunch. I have a strong hunch American Goldwing will be a high water mark for Blitzen Trapper and one of the top releases of 2011.

Here's two videos from the the 2008 breakout release Furr, the title track and "Black River Killer":

The Hunting Accident - "Hot Drum" from The Hunting Accident

The Hunting Accident, as they will tell you, is a band made out of the parts of other bands that broke up: Arlo and Piebald... Arlo released a couple of good records on Sub Pop, but broke up. I remember wondering what happened, because I thought they were very good and the music was downright catchy. I was not familiar with Piebald, but it looks like they had some tour dates with folks like Dinosaur Jr., so there you go...

And here they are, in 2011, making some really good rock music. Check out the first cut, "Hot Drum": good drumming with piano on the beat, well-timed guitar runs and strong vocals. Here's the video for "Hot Drum":

All the ingredients are there, all they need is listeners. And there's a four-song EP set to be released as a 7" record in August, but you can listen and download currently at Soundcloud. I do recommend that.

Ancient Fish by The Hunting Accident