Saturday, September 3, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-30: Little Dragon

We only have one band on the MWPS this week, but in terms of potential, they are worthy of carrying the burden by themselves.

Little Dragon are from Gothenburg, Sweden, although the lead singer, Yukimi Nagano, is from Japan. The other members of the band are Fredrik Wallin, HÃ¥kan Wirenstrand, and Erik Bodin. Their sound stitches together electronic, R&B, new wave and experimental pop. After building buzz for months, they released the album Ritual Union in late July.


"When I Go Out"

"Little Man"


New Bloody Hollies video for "I Dream of Bees"

From the upcoming album Yours Until the Bitter End, to be released on 9/13.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Soul Corner - Sam and Dave - "Hold On, I'm Comin'"

How could we go for 30+ weeks of the Soul Corner and not include Sam and Dave? Well kids, the long wait is over.
And have we got the classic live performance for you, from the 1966 Stax-Volt European tour. Backed by Booker T. Jones, Donald "Duck" Dunn, Steve Cropper, and Al Jackson Jr, and a killer horn section, Sam and Dave throw down here! Be sure to watch all the way through. And what slacks those fellas are sporting! You may think you know the song but you have to experience this live version:
The track was produced and co-written by Isaac Hayes. Legend has it that Hayes was trying to hurry his songwriting partner David Porter from the men's room while they were starting to write the song, when Porter bellowed out "Hold on, I'm comin'."

New Single and Video: Veronica Falls - "Bad Feeling"

We recently learned of a new single from the UK band Veronica Falls. "Bad Feeling" is released on Slumberland Records in the US and Canada. The release is accompanied by a video directed by Philippa Bloomfield, which we've provided below as it is an enjoyable way to experience the song. Veronica Falls is Roxanne Clifford, Patrick Doyle, James Hoare and Marion Herbain. Their sweet spot is well crafted, great sounding pop songs with a dark cast. They will be releasing their self titled debut album later this month.

As for "Bad Feeling", I like this song quite a bit. It has a good melody with a nice jangly delivery and insistent rhythm. The vocals have quality that remind me of the 60s, but it a good way. If this is a representative taste of the album, I'm looking forward to eating the whole thing.

"Bad Feeling"

Veronica Falls - Bad Feeling from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

How about a cool video from Unnatural Helpers?

Unnatural Helpers is a Seattle band comprised of drummer/singer Dean Whitmore and apparently whoever's calendar is clear on that particular evening. They have a lovely raw noise that's sort of a cross between late-era Bumpyface and the Unicorn Knuckles. To be candid, I am pretty sure no band ever has used either of those names. Do you remember those Tool videos for the songs on "Undertow"? Well, I don't know if this was done by the same guy, but if so, thanks to the warden who let him out to start scaring little children again.

"Girl in the Window"

That tune is ample evidence of the awesomeness of their 2010 album Cracked Love and Other Drugs, a 15 track, 26 minute exercise in garage. Here's another, earlier tune with that urbane UH vibe, aptly entitled "Gettin' Classy".

Unnatural Helpers on Facebook
and on Hardly Art Records

Mogwai to release new EP, Earth Division on September 13

Following on the heels of Mogwai's excellent Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will (WYMA review here), we're looking forward to their previously-announced four-song EP, Earth Division, due out September 13.

According to the band, these aren't outtakes from Hardcore Will Never Die..., but new songs, representing "a creative departure from the band’s trademark cinematic mantra of pulverizing, scorched guitar riffage, into a more recontextualised domain of hazy electronic distortion, accompanied by spiky wafts of violins, violas, cellos and double bass and jagged keys."

But just in case you haven't got Hardcore Will Never Die... yet, here's a chance to download "San Pedro":

Mogwai Website

Emerging Seattle Band: Pickwick

Not to get too confessional with all of you virtual strangers, but I'm genuinely remorseful that, as a Seattle-based music blogger, I haven't presented this band to you before now. In addition to exuding quality, and a personalized take on a respected genre, Seattle's Pickwick wins the highly coveted "Best Reinvention" prize from When You Motor Away. The band now presents a R&B/neo-soul oriented version of indie pop along with some of the best vocals I've heard lately. However, when formed in 2008 Pickwick had an alt country sound, and then they tried their luck as a folk act. While struggling to attract a following in those musical spaces, the lead vocalist, Galen Disston, was inspired by Sam Cooke recordings to try a musical style that allowed greater vocal range. The happy result is represented in this live recording from January of this year:

Live From The Basement - Pickwick from Sound on the Sound on Vimeo.

Apparently, enthused by Disston's vision for a new direction, the rockers dug into Stax and Motown recordings. In my view, the result isn't a cover of those great old sounds, but the Pickwick version of those sounds. Yes, the rhythms and vocals are R&B and soul, but there still is an indie rock edge and jangle to the proceedings. I like the result a lot, and hope it helps them stand out.

Here is their March 25, 2011, release, Myths, Vol. 3:

In addition to Disston, the band is comprised of Michael Parker, Garrett Parker, Matt Emmett, Cassady Lillstrom, and Kory Kruckenberg. The band is working on an album intended for release in 2012. I'm not aware of any label in the picture at this point.

Myths, Vol. 2 from December 17, 2010:

Myths, Vol. 1 from November 2010


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Get to Know: Jacuzzi Boys

Miami's Jacuzzi Boys are a punk/grunge band with an emerging pop sheen. The band consists of Gabriela Alcala (vocals/guitar), Diego Monasterios (drums) and Danny Gonzalez (bass). The guys released No Seasons in 2009, and just followed up with the very good Glazin' on Seattle's Hardly Art label. The buzz for Jacuzzi Boys is building, and they have toured with King Khan and the Shrines and more recently attracted the notice of Jack White, performing a show at his Third Man Records in Nashville.

Here is the title track to the new album:

Jacuzzi Boys - Glazin from komAwald on Vimeo.

The poppier "Koo Koo with you":

My take on Jacuzzi Boys is that the first album was interesting, and this one is quite good. They guys are tightening up in the right places and spreading their wings in the right places. I look forward to more sounds from this band.

Something with a weightier sound -- "Cool Vapors" (about the joys of an air conditioned ride):

And just for fun, "Smells Dead", one of my favorites from their first album:

Jacuzzi Boys - Smells Dead from John McSwain on Vimeo.

Hardly Art

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lo-Fi Goodness: Fear of Men

A few months ago we introduced our readers to the delightful lo-fi, fuzz pop band Fear of Men. Happy for us fans, the band just released the two-track single Ritual Confession/Spirit House on Italian Beach Babes Records. Both tracks are worth your time and consideration. We've provided a video for the first, and an Bandcamp link for both. By way of background, the band is Jess, Dan, Lin, and Antony -- two men and two women -- and they are based in Brighton and London.

"Ritual Confession"

And apparently Fear of Men is having a productive month, as they also recorded this cover of The Chills' iconic "Pink Frost".


Monday, August 29, 2011

REVIEW: Male Bonding -- Endless Now

Tomorrow SubPop is releasing Endless Now, the second album by London three-piece punk outfit Male Bonding. It’s been available via stream for the past few weeks, and has drawn some mixed responses from the reviewerati. Some are breathlessly heralding it as a towering punk-pop triumph, using words like Husker and Dinosaur. Others are calling it predictable and samey. One went so far as to use the word “inarticulacy”. Yes, apparently such a word exists, and there is at least one writer who thinks that it can be employed to describe another’s being inarticulate without any irony at all.

Well, I am here, in a cloak of humility, to resolve this question once and for all. Endless Now is an extremely good, and maybe a great album – one of my favorites I’ve heard this year. Its songs crackle with that perfect blend of pop goodness and punk crash. And although I make no secret of loving a bunch of yelling and screaming, the vocals and harmonies of songwriter/guitarist John Arthur Webb and bassist Kevin Hendrick are the antithesis of that. They float blithely above the noisy fray, as if Brian Wilson were subbing for Lee Ving (okay, maybe a bit of a stretch). Still, listen to the bass intro of the first track, “Tame the Sun”, and then when the rest of the band explodes into the song, see if you can resist headbutting your dog.

I listed Male Bonding’s first album, Nothing Hurts, among my favorites of 2010. In an earlier post I rhapsodized, being the wordsmith that I am, about the band’s “freaking great drummer”, Robin Silas Christian. As on the earlier album Christian’s manic banging is given its proper, prominent place in the recording mix, and, it would appear from this video of “Before It’s Gone”, one of my favorite of the new songs, in the live mix as well.

You can stream the entire album at, but you’d be better off if you just went ahead and bought it.

Male Bonding on Facebook

New stuff - The War on Drugs- "Slave Ambient"

I was in Montreal for a work conference last week and had dinner at this terrific little boulangerie/bistro. They were playing some great music, so I asked the bartender for a good place to hear live music. He sent me just down the block.

I walked in this great little club, paid my $7 and asked who was playing. They answered "The War on Drugs". Local band? "No," they said, "from the States." Philadelphia, as it turns out.

They killed me! I thought I had stumbled on 1965 Bob Dylan in England going electric for the first time, but fronting Echo & the Bunnymen.

How did I not know this band? Blocked them from view because of their name? (I fell in love with the band, but can't imagine myself ever liking that name).

Very sadly, I was running out of Canadian $, and the ATM there wouldn't accept my card, so I couldn't buy Slave Ambient, their brand new CD. But they introduced many songs as being from Slave Ambient and they all sounded good, so I'm vouching for it and will be buying it as soon as I get back home.

I raved about another Philly boy, Kurt Vile, earlier this year, with a bit of a similar psychedelic sound (though The War on Drugs rock more), and now I'm thinking maybe there's something going on in Philadelphia that I'd better start paying attention to.

I'm not sure exactly what WYMA's beat is, but The War on Drugs is right there. Certainly all the many Centro-matic fans here at WYMA should like this band.

Read more about the band and see tour dates at their web page:

New Discovery: Matt Bauer - Jessamine County Book of the Living

Matt and I are neighbors (he's from Kentucky - although he apparently is currently a resident of Brooklyn), but I've only recently discovered his music. It's absolutely stunning orchestral folk music and his voice is reminiscent, to me, of Richard Buckner's.

Here's a video for "TICS 1979":

TICS 1979 by Matt Bauer from matt bauer on Vimeo.

And you can download the song "Black Horses" here.

And here's a link to hear and download some live stuff from appearances on WFMU in NYC.

Highly recommended for fans of Buckner, Tom Waits, Gillian Welch, Papa M... the kind of artists with the talent get a rock feel out of acoustic instrumentation and a measured pace.

Matt Bauer Website

Sunday, August 28, 2011

David Lowery Extravaganza and free MP3 of Unreleased Track!

If you like David Lowery and his CVB and Cracker CV, and you happen to live out West, well, I've got great news for you.

Lowery and his bandmates from both groups will be rolling into the Joshua Tree region of California next month to co-host their 7th annual Campout music festival.

Campout will take place September 15th, 16th and 17th at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace in the High Desert of Southern California. The locale of this fest ties in perfectly with Cracker’s own history as their signature album Kerosene Hat was recorded here back in 1993 in the now-closed movie soundstage next to the Palace.

And not to overwhelm you with good news, but here's a free MP3 from David: "Cages", an outtake from his solo release The Palace Guards, released in February of this year.

It's great to see one of my all-time favorite artists engaging in all this activity. Key Lime Pie in its entirety! There are other tour dates leading up to the Campout, check out the Cracker Website for dates and locations.

Cracker Website

Camper Van Beethoven Website

And I can't resist sharing this snippet from Cracker's website, under Latest News:

"Cracker in Vail Colorado. Trophy Wife Contest!

Cracker Full Band with special guest Michael Urbano on drums. The "official" story is Frank Funaro is playing a festival with his old band The Del Lords in Spain that week. But unofficially it's because Frank hates Gerald Ford. Sad but true. See we are playing in the Gerald Ford ampitheatre. Frank refuses to set foot in the place. Most people remember Gerald Ford as our 38th president but few people remember that Gerald Ford had a really great garage rock band back in the early 80's. Gerald Ford opened for The Del Lords once at CBGBs in New York and totally upstaged them. Ford closed his CBGBs set by attacking the Cambodian island of Koh Tang and repeatedly banged his head on the door of Marine 2. The Del Lords had to follow that. Tough crowd!"