Saturday, August 13, 2011

Howling Bells: "Into the Sky" from forthcoming album The Loudest Engine

First I've heard of this band... and I'm happy to share it on here. The Australian-formed, London-based four piece comprising singer/ guitarist Juanita Stein and her brother Joel (lead guitarist), drummer Glenn Moule, and bassist Brendan Picchio, travelled to Las Vegas to record this record, which will be released on Cooking Vinyl on September 12.

Here is the first song off their forthcoming album The Loudest Engine, "Into the Sky". I like the sound, strong vocals and psychedelic guitars:

A little more to listen to at their website, looks like you can stream some more songs on there but I can't embed them here... it all sounds pretty good:

Howling Bells Website

Friday, August 12, 2011

Booker T Jones - "Green Onions", Live This Summer!!!

Hopefully it's not too late to get this in on a Soul Corner Friday...

Wandering around checking out some videos on YouTube, came across this live performance of the classic Jim blogged about a couple weeks ago, and it also gives me an excuse to post another link to this review of Booker's great new album, The Road From Memphis.

Here's the video... as Jim noted, this thing never gets old:

Booker T Jones Website

REVIEW: Strong Killings - Strong Killings

This is a Seattle-based punk power trio, and they have released a very well-done punk album... I don't hear any deficiencies at all: killer drumming, rumbling bass, great guitars throughout, and the vocals are, well, strong. As well, if you're tired of tinny-sounding, underdone punk records, you'll appreciate the production work that obviously went into this record. The lead track, "Annals of Animals," marries some amazing drumming with Jello Biafra-style vocals and adds in a scorching lead guitar over the last minute or so. Here's the video for "Annals of Animals". I was hooked from the beginning of this song:

Song two, "Licked, Nicked" is, oh, I don't know, Rancid meets Dick Dale? And "Winnebago" continues the punk backbeat/surf guitar combination to great effect. Next is "New Mexican Frontier" which made me smile and remember boon and Watt in their heydays, but again with a surf undertone for a little twist. There are a couple of instrumentals on here, and all the songs share one characteristic: they don't stay too long. "Winnebago" at 3:38 and "Worst Case" at 3:45 are the only songs much over 3:00, but you hardly notice. Here's the video for "Too Cool," at 3:04 the third longest song on the disc... there's a little NSFW language:

People tend to think punk is "easy" or that these musicians don't work that hard, but this record is evidence that, to do it right, nothing could be farther from the truth. If you like punk rock, and want to encourage the good stuff, get this record. And tell your friends.

Check out a few songs at Soundcloud:

Latest tracks by StrongKillings

Buy Strong Killings at Don't Stop Believin' Records

Soul Corner - Edwin Starr "War"

It saddens me beyond words that this song from 1969 remains so timely and in fact, especially so this week. WYMA is an apolitical forum, so I won't preach as the song and the news of this week speak for themselves.

But even if brave young soldiers and innocent people dying for nothing in Afghanistan doesn't move you for whatever reason, this song remains one of the defining moments of the anti-war Vietnam era. Originally written for the Temptations, but considered too "controversial" for their large mainstream audience, it was recorded by Motown bench warmer Edwin Starr. And he killed it.

"War" was then and remains one of the Vietnam era's signature protest songs.

From a musical perspective, it was a prototype funk song, and arguably Motown's very best melding of rock and soul.

But I sure wish it sounded more thematically dated.

Here's a live version with Edwin Starr with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, not the best quality video, but pretty cool nonetheless:


REVIEW: She's Hit - Pleasure

I think we all understand that there aren't a lot of new elements to pop music that are going to be discovered and played for us. But we can delight when a young band takes influences, good influences in this case, and fuses them into something different than what their contemporaries are offering us. In the case of Glasgow band, She's Hit, we get a scuzzy, dirty, noisy brand of garage rock built upon a foundation, in varying amounts depending on the track, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Stooges and The Birthday Party (a song of which provides our subject with their name), and hell, maybe Suicide and The Cramps, too. And it is topped by lead singer David Wilson's understated, louche but somewhat snarling vocals that seem born of Iggy and Mark E. Smith. As the band notes, their music has been tagged with a number of labels, but my favorite probably is "dirty surf".

The debut album from She's Hit, Pleasure, was released on June 20. It begins with the a cappella opening of title track "Pleasure", which tips the band's adventuresome nature and then its affinity for scuzzy noise. The next track is the standout "Shimmer Shimmer", which is perhaps the hardest edged song while still being very accessible:

She's hit - Shimmer Shimmer from Fiftyquidvids on Vimeo.

However, the band is capable of dialing down the noise -- although fortunately not the intensity -- to wonderful effect. Here is the dirty surf of "Part One", with guest co-vocalist Jen Paley:
Part One by She's Hit

She's Hit may have the coolest vibe going in Scotland. Part of it is their distinctive sound. Part of it is their bold decision to create their own label, Re:Peater Records, to give them control of their music. And part of it has to be the maturity of developing their songs adequately, despite the ability to rush out a record on their own label. Nor can one discount the affect of the band's friends and colleagues. While She's Hit lists five members, David Wilson, Mike Hanson, Philip McLellan, Cammy Wilson, and Fraser McFadzean (listed on Facebook but only as a guest on the album), they list as honorary members Scott Paterson (guitarist and vocalist of Sons and Daughters), Emily Mclaren, and Jen Paley (vocalist for the late Astral Planes). All of the honorary members played a part in the album, including Paley's vocals on three tracks. Paterson also is thanked for his "input, enthusiasm and advice". I like the boys' sense of humor, too. When faced with a harsh review of a live show, they responded with their own humorous improvement of the offending journalist's written product.

An good example of the reverb-drenched scuzzy sound found in several songs is "Re:Peater":

The album was recorded at the Green Door Studio in Glasgow. You can stream it below and buy a digital copy or a physical copy from the Re:Peater Records Bandcamp site linked below. Both the download and the CD include nine bonus tracks, which are remixes of album tracks. Of course, digital is easy, but you should know that the physical album is lovely, with artwork, design and layout by Iceland native Hrafnhildur Halldorsdottir.

Stream Pleasure here:

This album is completely under my skin, and I've been playing it nearly daily for weeks now. It is vibrant, noisy, dark and intriguing. Obviously, I recommend it.

Hrafnhildur Halldorsdottir's website

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Album Alert: Beirut - The Rip Tide

Zach Condon's Beirut is releasing The Rip Tide at the end of the month. On this LP, Condon's songwriting is said to be based less on imagination and more on personal experience and introspection. If you check around the internet, you will discover that music blogs and zines are praising the increased maturity of Zach's work, so I expect this album will be worth your time in listening to it. I know that I've liked what I have heard so far.

Here are two of the songs on the album.

"Santa Fe"

Beirut - Santa Fe by Revolver USA

"East Harlem"

Beirut - East Harlem by Revolver USA

And if you'd like to stream the entire album, the nice folks at NPR have you covered here.


Cool Video Thursday

Hunx and His Punx with "Lovers Lane"

"Vomit" by Girls

"Our Deal", by Best Coast

AM and Shawn Lee with "Dark Into Light"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

REVIEW: Acrasia - Acrasia

I try to be really careful about classifications when I start talking about subgenres of heavy metal music. This is because there's always some smartass nearby itching to correct me -- usually because I need to be corrected. When it's stuff I don't spend a ton of time listening to, I can get particularly facile in my categorizations. For example, when I hear guttural, horrorshow vocals or screams like someone who's just been clubbed in the nards and likes it, I generally think, 'oh, death metal.'

Such vocals are an acquired taste, to put it lightly, and that's fine, because it's an aesthetic choice. By this I mean that I can say with some certainty that these guys don't go home after a show and speak to their mothers in that tone of voice. It's cultivated. They are speaking to a very large and rabidly devoted community of music fans who are all in -- for them, the vocals are an indispensable part of the music experience.

I've never been dismissive of death metal because more often than not the music behind the vocals is intensely interesting. Nowhere will you find as many folks who actually have studied music theory and even composition than in this little corner of the rock and roll world. Ultimately, even if you can't get used to the singing (I generally can), the musicianship more than makes up for it.

So I'm probably not being as careful as I should be when I apply that term -- death metal -- to a very exciting band out of Raleigh called Acrasia. I throw that term out there because most of the time, vocalist Michael Rumple's singing sounds like the bellows of hell. Again, it's an aesthetic choice -- at several points during their self-titled full length, Rumple actually sings, revealing a powerful and far-ranging voice.

But is it death metal when you listen to the band winding through these complex and beautifully played songs and think that you could just as easily envision them putting out their next album on an old prog label like Relativity or the now-defunct E.G. Records as you could see them signing to Metal Blade or The End? I don't want to create an impression by saying they play art rock that their music is not apocalyptic and bonecrunching. It most certainly is both of those things. Check out album opener "Pulse", which will put any such concern to rest.

Here's the second song, "Waves Within", which will remind you of some of your favorite Isis tunes, albeit with much showier guitar work from Zach Dresher and Devin Janus (never a bad thing), and an aggressive foundation laid by bassist Blake Privette and drummer Alex Finn. Again, you can hear the band's progressive leanings burrowing in and out of the song. It's prog like Mastodon, but it's also prog like early 70s King Crimson.

The album is exceptionally strong from front to back, with superb production by Jesse Clark. Take a look at their bandcamp page and listen to "Contextual Relevance", which features a fascinatingly unforced saxophone part right in the middle of a cyclone of noise.

Then buy the whole danged album. It's cheap, it's great, and they deserve it.

New song from Avi Buffalo: "How Come?"

Two song vinyl 7" from Sub Pop by this terrific California band that really broke out last year. Sorry I'm just now posting this (apparently was released in late June), but maybe we're closer to an album release? Hey, a guy can hope.

Avi's self-titled 2010 album made the top 20 for both me and Rocksteady... pretty high, too.

Here's the song and a free download if you sign up for the mailing list:

Website: Avi Buffalo at Sub Pop

Lo-Fi Freebies: TV Girl

TV Girl are a lo-fi dream pop duo consisting of Trung Ngo and Brad Petering. They hail from San Diego and you can stream their most recent four-song EP, Benny and the Jetts below. And you can download it for free at their Facebook link below. The band also has a link to another free EP at Bandcamp. It is really good, chill, summer stuff.

Well, I've been so generous today, I may take the rest of the day off.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Now We've Got Trouble: Vintage Trouble - The Bomb Shelter Sessions

I'd describe Vintage Trouble as a throwback soul/R&B/rock and roll band. But really, why try to improve on the band's own description -- "Live-wired, straight-shootin, dirty-mouth'd pelvis-pushin' juke music ...." The band consists of Ty Taylor, Nalle Colt, Rick Barrio Dill and Richard Danielson, and were formed in early 2010 in Los Angeles by Taylor and Colt. The music produced by Vintage Trouble is exciting not because it is new or innovative, but rather because they take a classic American sound and faithfully and energetically bring it to date. And Taylor's vocals are an absolute knockout. The band has just self-released The Bomb Shelter Sessions. Give it a listen; it will remind you of that great Otis Redding era of American soul.

"Nancy Lee"

"Nobody Told Me"


Monday, August 8, 2011

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 23: The Mouse that Ate the Cat; Café Disco; The Moth & The Mirror

The Mouse that Ate the Cat a Scottish electro pop duo consisting of Colin Keenan, a former member of Drive By Argument, and Brian Henderson, who is the lead singer of The Dykeenies. The group is based in Glasgow.

Here is their 2011 two-track release:

And a video for the title track, "Falling Down"

"Calm" (live)


Café Disco are a relatively new Glasgow pop/alternative group. The band are Fraser Welsh, twins Paul and Rachael Swinton, and Clare Gallacher, the last three of which are only 18. They met at the Academy of Music & Sound in Glasgow, where the members are enrolled, and formed the band this spring.

"Terra Nova"


The Moth & The Mirror Consist of Stacey Sievwright, Gordon Skene, Louis Abbott, Kevin McCarvel, Ian Sandilands, and Peter Murch, some of whom also play in other projects (Sievwright in The Reindeer Section and Arab Strap, Skene in Frightened Rabbit, Abbott in Admiral Fallow and Song of Return and McCarvel in Smoke Jaguar). The group intends to release an album, Honestly, This World in October, but first have issued the following track, "Lights in the Sky".

"Lights In The Sky"