Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Night RS74 Radio

Looking at my news feed on Facebook, I have a number of songs suggested by bands I follow. Some have posted their own songs, some have posted songs by others. So I said to myself, "Self, why don't you share these recommendations with the readers of the WYMA blog." So I have.

PreTeen are a San Francisco band we covered recently. They posted this very nice song, "About A Girl".

Phil Wilson posted this Phil Wilson Band cover of an unreleased song by Granite Shore--

Teens. from Boise, Idaho posted this song from the 60s by Peter & Gordon--

Scottish band Honey posted this song by another Scottish band, The Seventeenth Century--

Reggae star Shaggy posted this video for "For Yur Eyez Only" by Shaggy ft. Alaine--

New Discovery: Republic of Letters - Stories

Republic of Letters is a San Diego band playing Britpop a la Snow Patrol, Coldplay, stuff like that - heavy emotional content, very good lead guitars and soaring melodies.

Here's the video for lead track "Lost Chord" - a big-sounding track with galloping drums and chiming guitars:

And just this week, they released a new video for "Karma", for my money, the rockingest track on the record:

Republic of Letters Website (listen and buy)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Get to Know: The Blue Runes

Gabriel Albelo (guitars, vocals), Eugenio Jimenez (bass), and Ricardo Santana (drums) are The Blue Runes, a rock band with blues, roadhouse and psychedelic (check out "We Call Out the Birds") shadings. The band was formed in Puerto Rico in late 2010, and recently released the following five-song album.

In my view, the boys rock hard but they don't ignore melody.


The Soul Corner - Harlem Shuffle

Here's a great song that needs no introduction, though I suspect many of you have never heard this original version:
George Harrison reportedly called Bob and Earl's version of "Harlem Shuffle", released in 1963, his favorite song of all time. The song was arranged by a then unknown musician named Barry White who had been the bass player for Bob and Earl in earlier bands.

Love that groove. I appreciate the Stones bringing this song to a larger audience. Here's their version, wonderful, true to the original, but not better in any way in my view:
Shake a tailfeather baby!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Seattle Show: Seapony, Brave Irene; and Generifus

For readers who are in or around Seattle this weekend, we'd like to alert you to a show that includes a band we've written about this year, Seattle's Seapony, a band we probably should have written about at some point, Brave Irene, and Olympia, Washington's folk/pop Generifus. The show is sponsored by The Vera Project, which is located at the corner of Warren & Republican Ave N, in Seattle. The show starts at 7:30 pm, and only costs $10.

As a reminder of the sounds of Seapony, here is "Go Away"--

Seapony - Facebook
Seapony - Label page

Brave Irene is headed by Rose Melburg (of The Softies and Tiger Trap). They released a self titled EP on Slumberland Records earlier this year. Here is "Bank Holiday" from that album--

Brave Irene - Facebook

For a taste of Generifus, here is the album they released in February. It is full of delightful, carefree tunes. The band is the project of Spencer Sult, with Eli Moore, Karl Blau and others helping out.

Generifus - Website
Generifus - Bandcamp

Cool Video Thursday

I've been busy with other projects for the Blog, so we only have one new video this week, but I hope you'll agree that it is a good one.

Seattle soul rockers Pickwick sing an a capella rendition of 'Blackout' to the Suzzallo Reading Room at the University of Washington.

Pickwick - Blackout (Suzzallo Reading Room) from Tyler Kalberg on Vimeo.


REVIEW: The Windsor Player - The Windsor Player

The Windsor Player is a new group led by Troy Stewart, who plays guitar with Snow Patrol... he's recruited something of an all-star cast: Scott McCaughey (R.E.M., The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows), Gregg Williams (Sheryl Crow, Emmylou Harris), Jote Osahn (Elbow, Gorillaz), Chris Schleyer (Prick, Kidneythieves) and additional players Peter Buck (R.E.M., The Minus 5) and Richard Coburn (Belle & Sebastian, Snow Patrol).

The sound varies from well-played folk rock - song 1, "Release" - to country rock that calls to mind 70's stalwarts like The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and Poco - "Big Texas Sky" - to laid-back sprawling guitar rock on the 8-minute "Best Friend". The influences are good ones, and the vision of country rock is well realized.

Plenty of great guitar sounds throughout - rock guitar, acoustic strumming and pedal steel - are underpinned by a good rhythm section and augmented by strings, piano and mandolin (the aforementioned Peter Buck). There are even well-placed horn parts among the guitars on "Best Friend", too.

Closing track "Big Texas Sky" captures the ethos pretty well - big, sprawling and warm... You can listen and order at Windsor Player Website.

New Video from Black Keys upcoming album El Camino - "Lonely Boy"

Great video, great song... looking forward to this one, and grateful they are giving us a new record so soon:

You Got Your Punk In My Garage

I'm a shameless kind of guy, so I'll make no apologies for shilling You Got Your Punk in My Garage - The Best of the GaragePunk Hideout, Vol. 3, a delightful collection of punk/garage rock from bands you've likely never heard of. And yes, it is 22 tracks for $6.99. The album is released by GRGPNK Records which is a social network-based label created to release the Hideout Comp series. If you click to the Bandcamp page linked below, you'll be able to access other releases in the series.

I've listened to the compilation below, and a few others in the series. I highly recommend them to any garage rock fan.

GRGPNK Records website
GRGPNK Facebook page
GRGPNK on Twitter

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Midweek Roundup: Wet Nuns, New Cassettes, Glossary

This week's Midweek Roundup sounds like the first rainy day at a parochial school... but it's only rock & roll:

Wet Nuns is a Sheffield band that describes itself as "death blues". They've got a single coming out 11/11, which will apparently be available free at their website. They have a real heavy rock sound - reminds me a little bit of Motorhead. Here's a live video:

Wet Nuns Live @ The Bowery from Bowery Sheffield on Vimeo.

Here's "No Death"... more available to stream at Soundcloud:

No Death by Wet Nuns

New Cassettes, another British group, plays a punky style of dance-rock... check it out for yourself:

Download and Stream via Pure Volume:

And finally, here are a couple of entertaining videos from Murfreesboro, TN pop rockers Glossary - trailers for their new record, Long Live All Of Us:

Love the soul influences by way of their Memphis visitors - Jim Spake (Al Green, Alex Chilton) and Nahshon Benford (Snowglobe, Lucero)... Horns, percussion, falsetto vocals in spots, it's another good rock record from Tennessee. They're on tour, check out dates and more info at the Glossary website.

Get to Know: Sun Wizard

Vancouver, BC's Sun Wizard are James Younger, Francesco Lyon, Malcolm Jack, and Ben Frey. They play muscular, crunchy power pop with harmonized vocals, which usually is a winning combination around When You Motor Away. Earlier this year the band released Positively 4th Avenue on Light Organ Records, an excellent LP that unfortunately has been flying under everyone's radar. You can stream the entire album below. But first, we have a video the band shot for one of the songs:

Sun Wizard "World's Got A Handle" from Light Organ Records on Vimeo.

The Quit Acting Cold 7" was released in 2010, and shows the band's promise.

I think it would have been nice to discover these guys before the summer started, but better late than never. Enjoy!

Light Organ Records

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Witches - A Haunted Person's Guide To The Witches

They're out on a "Halloween Tour", and playing as good a variety of psychedelic garage rock as you will hear. This is a compilation album - I hesitate to use the term "greatest hits" because well, I wish more people knew about The Witches... so maybe "greatest songs"?

At any rate, this is just the kind of stuff you want to play on Halloween. Or anytime you want some good spooky rock, psychedelic and surf guitar and reverb... really, anytime.

Check out "Down On Ugly Street" and know their greatness:

The Witches - Down On Ugly Street by alivenaturalsound

They're from Detroit, so they share a birthright and a worldview with artists like Mitch Ryder and The Stooges... and they boast bass player (and founder) Troy Gregory (Dirtbombs, Killing Joke), John Nash (Electric Six, LCD Soundsystem) on guitar, and producer Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Von Bondies) on electric twelve-string. If like me, you missed them the first time around, this is the perfect way to catch up.

Here's a fan video for "On The Haunted Side of the House":

The Witches at AliveNaturalsound Records

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Pack a.d. - new video for "Haunt You" from Unpersons

I dig their album (review here), so I'm happy to share this new video from The Pack a.d., released in conjunction with Halloween:

Really good stuff, and keep an eye out for some more Halloween-inspired madness from the twisted mind and control panel of the great Jim Diamond.

Robin Bacior - "Ohio" from Rest Our Wings, out Nov. 1

Here's a new video from a very talented young artist, Robin Bacior:

ROBIN BACIOR | Ohio from Earth vs Space on Vimeo.

Pretty cool video, and I really like the way this song boogies. The rest of it is a little more acoustic in approach. She's got a bright, clear voice and a strong presence.

And you can download "Ohio" here, and listen to several other songs at her website.

Robin Bacior Website

REVIEW: Wake the President - Zumutung!

Exciting artists acknowledge their genre but don't allow themselves to be constrained by the work of others. This attribute is embodied in the music of Wake the President. They clearly embrace the musical template of the '80s Postcard records guitar pop, particularly Orange Juice, The Fire Engines and Josef K. But rather than look backward to make sure they paint within the lines, they stride forward on their own path. The result is Zumutung!, an exuberant, often cynical, and varied collage of emotional snapshots of the subject young men write about--girls. And it is one of my favorite albums of the year.

The core of Wake the President is Bjorn and Erik Sandberg. Twin brothers from Glasgow who have been building a reputation as musicians and promoters for at least the last four years. Erik is the lyricist and main vocalist; Bjorn is the guitarist and focuses on things musical. As with their first album, the Sandbergs have enlisted Paul Savage, producer extraordinaire (and former drummer of The Delgados) to produce Zumutung! at Chem19 Studios. The ten tracks the brothers have crafted for this album are sonically and emotionally diverse. "Elaine" (which is provided below) is the most straightforward indie pop song, and may bring to mind Belle & Sebastian. The albums first four tracks, "She Fell Into My Arms", "Your Expressions", "In Youth There Is Pleasure" and "This Is New" are at the more raucous edge of post punk guitar pop. "Sort of Blonde" is an acoustic music hall sing-along, and "Stockholm's Archipelago", the album's bittersweet closer, shows that Wake the President can nail the grand-scale post rock pop song. However, the sound of the album is nearly universally lively and engaging.

The counterpoint to the exuberant music is in the lyrics. Based on snippets of conversations with various women and laced with literary references, the lyrics present the pitfalls and turmoils inherent in looking for love, or an acceptable facsimile for love. For example, while "She Fell Into My Arms" will entice you to move your feet, the words suggest a cynical take on love:
The voice of the cock, or its flight overhead, it easily managed to shake off a dozen or so lovers that remained bereft, so here’s how I got into this mess: I saw the inscription in your blushing and when you fell into my arms, so willingly, that I wondered why I’d bothered at all.

You buy love, but you can’t afford the hurt that’s printed on the receipt and if affection is a one pound coin then why do you expect a hundred pence in return? She said, “We’re like a couple of ghosts that wander above”. And when you fell into my arms, so willingly, I wondered why I bothered at all.

"She Fell Into My Arms"

An even darker take on relationships is the "In Youth There Is Pleasure":
We don’t just need to be apart, we need a lifetime of it, I’ll admit.
As I unlocked the forbidden room, I was struck by how many corpses there were.
Boy meets girl, girl loses boy: boy opens fire on a choc-a-bloc street.

And the narrator in the delightful sounding "Elaine" explains that he is initiating the end of the relationship, although suggesting that his inadequacies are at fault. But the outlook isn't all gloom and doom. In "E.T." Erik expresses the hope that an ended relationship can be rekindled, and "Sort of Blonde" suggests at least the possibilities for love developing.

In my view, the approach to music and lyrics works perfectly on two levels. First, the album works as an engaging manifesto of guitar pop regardless of the lyrical content. But on another level, the music and lyrics work together to point out that the trips and falls of relationships are just part of the rhythm of life; you soldier on and a new adventure is around the corner. Of course, it is easier to accept all that if you are comfortable with cynicism and, maybe, a dose of paranoia.


Wake the President's first LP, You Can't Change That Boy, was a mostly lively, but sometimes gentle, textbook of indie pop. Both the music and the stories told were bold and well defined. For Zumutung!, there is a matured palette of expression. While still painted on the Glasgow indie pop canvass, the music is more varied and subtle; there are keyboards and choirs and even strings. And the lyrics match the music with more shaded tones; more areas where the import of direct statements is left unexplained. In my opinion, the additional nuance results in Zumutung! being more evocative and exciting than the excellent debut album because it implicitly invites you to flesh out the story in your own. A note about sourcing the album--Zumutung! may not be available in the States in physical form at this time, but I'm advised that it is available from Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. If you want the physical artifact, which is understandable, try contacting We Can Still Picnic, at the Facebook link or email me through this site and I'll put you in touch.

In their young lives, Bjorn and Erik Sandberg who form the foundation of the band have founded two record labels, Say Dirty and We Can Still Picnic, the second of which is releasing Zumutung!, collaborate with others to keep music and arts vibrant in their community, and have released two LPs and a few singles. I expect them to continue to contribute to music and the other arts, and I encourage everyone to support them.

Twitter ( @WakethPresident )
We Can Still Picnic (label's Facebook page

Sunday, October 30, 2011

REVIEW: Tom Waits - Bad As Me

Time to make room on Mt. Rushmore for one more American hero.

Bad As Me, and of course no one is as gloriously badass as Tom Waits, is the 61 year old artist's first release of new material in 7 years. It was well worth the wait.

Here's Waits' reaction, you judge how tongue-in-cheek, to the album being leaked over the internet prior to release date:

Bad as Me is completely in keeping with the chaos of the day - it clanks, wails, weeps and rages. If I had to describe it with a simple term, it's a rock'n'roll record. There is a groove, energy and major force to this effort. And even classic rockabilly, on the delicious "Get Lost".

It's restless, its characters cooped up and maybe moving across the country, or thinking their relationships are falling apart, searching, longing, in pain, and sometimes even at war.

If you are a musician, and your phone rings and its Tom Waits asking you to play on his record, you of course answer yes. So on guitars here we have Marc Ribot, David Hidalgo and Keith Richards. And wow do they bring it, amplify the deparate mood and get a great sound.

One highlight of Bad As Me is a raging rocker, "Satisfied". Waits, as usual speaking in first person, turns the typical young man voice of rock'n'roll on its ear, tipping his hat to the Rolling Stones classic "Satisfaction", but contemplating later age and impending death, and vowing to go out with a bang, while a now much older Keith Richards is a laying down the big rock riffs over a mile wide groove:

Before I'm gone
I will have satisfaction
I will be satisfied
Now Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards
I will scratch where I've been itching.

Instead of "I hope I die before I get old", Waits' brand of rock'n'roll here is more like "I am going to kick life's ass and yours too before I get old and die."

Here's the wild and wooly title track:

But just as effective and moving is this gorgeous ballad "Back in the Crowd" that merges mariachi and country music:

As sentimental as Waits can be, and I've always loved that side of his writing, he also presents here one of the harshest and most unflinching songs about war I've ever heard, "Hell Broke Luce", so brutal and real that it's as hard to look away from as it is to absorb.

Here's a terrific feature story on Waits and the making of Bad as Me from the New York Times: Tom Waits: Bad As Me - 10/23 NY Times Feature

And while we are at it, here's an interview Waits did with himself a few years back, one of my all-time favorite pieces of writing, hilarious and brilliant, and a must read:

Waits on Waits - 2008 interview from NPR's All Songs Considered Blog

Artist web page: