Wednesday, November 30, 2011
cos my daddy was a preacher but he was a junkie, too /
i grew up on whiskey and God so i’m a little bit confused /
i didn’t know it was so easy to let this world get its hooks into you
And here's an acoustic in-store of her performing "More Like Them", the song that caught my ear on a KEXP Song of the Day podcast:
Folks, she's 21. And the best part, she's hooked up with the great alt country label Bloodshot Records. You can download an MP3 for "Can't Change Me" and check it out for yourself.
Lydia Loveless at Bloodshot Records
There is a saying in Austin--"keep Austin weird"--and Austin's The Strange Boys do nothing to counter than sentiment. After two promising LPs in 2009 and 2010, The Strange Boys And Girls Club and Be Brave, respectively, the band has released Live Music ("Live" is pronounced like "give", not like "hive") on Rough Trade. While the music remains idiosyncratic, it has settled into an amalgamation of garage, folk, shuffle blues and countrified R&B. While all of that might sound a bit, well, strange, the gang pulls it off quite delightfully. The band sounds tight and the performances seem confident. As I listened to it I was reminded of Mungo Jerry, and that actually is a darn good comparison to have, in my book.
The first single and opening track, "Me and You" --
Ryan Sambol and Matt Hammer began The Strange Boys in 2003. Hammer left in late 2009, and the current line-up is Ryan Sambol (guitar, lead vocals, harmonica), Philip Sambol (bass), Greg Enlow (guitar), Mike La Franchi (drums), Jenna E. Thornhill DeWitt (saxophone, backing vocals), and Tim Presley (backing vocals).
The Strange Boys have improved with each offering. They've always displayed energy and talent. But more important, on Live Music we hear the sound of a band finding their own voice. The elements are nothing new, but the way this band uses them makes their contribution seem unique and refreshing. Give them a try.
"you take everything for granite when you're stone"
The second song, "To Use Another", is driving guitar rock that's easy to like, as it chugs along at a measured pace, breaking out into a couple of guitar freakouts:
There's plenty of sonic variety and obvious talent, and I expect this record to make my year end Top 20 (there's a hint for you to stay tuned - my list won't be as long as Rocksteady's but hopefully it will help you find some stuff). Here's the album closer, "Sapphire Noise", which has a kind of Eleventh Dream Day vibe going on:
Listen or buy at their Bandcamp site:
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I profiled British musician Simon Bish earlier this fall. I'm impressed with the quality of his guitar pop and his dedication in plugging away despite the absence of a commercial breakthough. Simon has a new album, All Aboard With ... Simon Bish, which is released on Simon's own Pop Noise Records. In my view, All Aboard is 11 tracks of excellent jangly indie pop. Here is the album's opening track, "You Ran Away" --
Simon has a special offer for you. If you go to Simon Bish's website, and click on the "free CD" box, there will be a contact box where you can provide your name and address. Simon then will send you a 30-track deluxe version of All Aboard With ... Simon Bish, including the original album, an EP, outtakes, demos and other selected songs. If you like jangly guitar pop, I can't think of a reason not to take this opportunity to become more familiar with Simon's music.
Here are two more tracks to listen to while you fill out the contact form:
"Meet Me There"
Monday, November 28, 2011
Denver popsters Tennis are releasing a new album named Young & Old in February 2012 on the Fat Possum label. The album was produced by Pat Carney of the Black Keys. However, to keep themselves on our radar they are releasing a double A-side 7" on December 6 on the Forest Family label. The lead track is "Origins", which also was produced by Carney.
Origins by tennisinc
To my ears it is less '50s-'60s pop and a bit more indie rock. It will be interesting to hear what the duo gives us on the new album. The other track on the 7" is "Deep In The Woods" and was self-produced.
Twitter ( @TennisInc )
Forest Family Records
Saturday, November 26, 2011
We invite you to become familiar with the band's music--the September and December EPs and the November single all are embedded below. If you like them, you can download them free. That may be the best Black Friday weekend sale you get today.
No One Is An Island--
Here is The Break-Up Single from November 2011--
The December release, Big City Nights, is available free now--
A tip of the cap to Lloyd, founder of the Peenko blog from Glasgow, which is how I found out about this band.
Twitter ( @HpstrDthSqd )
Aussie garage rockers Bleeding Knees Club produce euphoric garage rock with just the right doses of swagger, sneer and sleaze. And they are very good at it. The band is "Alex Wall, Jordan Marlane and Matt Woods". They remind me of the Black Lips, but whether you agree or not, I think you'll enjoy them.
Teenage Girls by Bleeding Knees Club
I by Bleeding Knees Club
Twitter ( @bleedingknees )
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I've lauded Glasgow's glorious dirty surf group She's Hit a few times this year, including this review of their excellent debut album, Pleasure. Their label, Re:Peater Records, recently advised me that Pleasure is available for digital download on the major sites, and for streaming on Spotify. A link to the US Amazon page for the album is here.
And in case you're hesitating, here is the official video for one of the album tracks, "Part One". And if you've already bought the album, enjoy the video--you deserve it.
She's Hit on Soundcloud
Re:Peater Records on Bandcamp
Another Re:Peater Records album that impressed me greatly this year is Luck by Jacob Yates & the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers. I loved it when I reviewed it, I love it now, and I'll love it when I make my year-end list. For the readers who want a bit of Luck, but didn't get a physical copy or purchase from Bandcamp, this album also now is available via the major on-line sites and Spotify. The US Amazon link is here.
For a reminder of doom wop sound of JYatPGLP, here is album track "Can't Stop".
Here is album track "Mary Hell" live at Stereo in Glasgow last Sunday night.
Re:Peater Records on Bandcamp
Palmz is from Santa Cruz, California. The members of the band are Lexie Corfiatis (vocals, guitar, bass), Devin Eiring (drums), and David Conner (guitar). The delightful "Teenage Heartthrob" is from their 2009 release X-Ray of Fun.
Here is a single they released this past June and March, respectively:
The three-person POW is from San Francisco. Their only release on Bandcamp is the two-track Pretend There, which you can enjoy below. They spice up the garage punk with a sonic synth blast.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Not that it was noticed, but the jealous exigencies of the real world jammed me up good for 5 or 6 weeks of the past couple of months, such that I couldn’t post anything. All that time I was listening to a few new things that I’m hoping to get around to writing something about in the next couple of weeks, but on a daily basis I felt myself being pulled into one record I just couldn’t get out of my head – not that I was trying. It was the new album from Eugene, Oregon's Yob, called Atma, a five song, 55 minute maelstrom that I swear, if you give it the time and attention it deserves, will be on your year-end list regardless of where your music tastes currently dwell. It was released a couple of months ago by Profound Lore.
I’m not so naïve as to expect that the regular visitors to this forum come here to get a metal fix, and despite that I’ve deeply loved the genre since I was a pre-teen, I confess to being a philistine when it really comes down to it. Still, I’m probably listening to as much metal now as I have since I was a kid, when my steady diet of Zeppelin, Sabbath and Priest abruptly gave way to Killing Joke and then to punk, causing me, with few exceptions, to lose touch for the next 15 years. Thank goodness life is long.
Yob is the creative outlet for Eugene singer-guitarist Mike Scheidt, and the band has released five studio albums since 2003. They are variously categorized as doom, sludge, or stoner metal, in that their songs are not 3-minute Converge-style metalpunk amalgams, nor are they the 6 minute solo-filled scorchers so well-covered by the likes of Matt Pike and Trey Azagthoth. This is not to suggest Mike Scheidt is less than a brilliant guitarist. He demonstrates several times on this album that he’s fully capable of a gripping solo, but the most fascinating and rewarding guitar work on Atma can be felt in the tension Scheidt creates between the low-register bar chords and the bright bursts of sound that flash out of the sludge. He has credited his Brent Monson guitar for the beautiful sound he is able to get on the record – and it is uniquely beautiful.
These songs take time to develop, and they take several listens to know, but they are thoughtfully composed by an artist who has considered every measure. I am well aware I’m asking a great deal of a reader to request that he or she listen carefully to a ten minute song from a genre he or she doesn’t give two craps about, but I’m going to throw a couple of them up here and urge you to pour yourself a drink (a big freaking drink, these are long songs), isolate yourself, and let the noise take over. If, after a couple of minutes, you feel like turning it off, what you really need to do is shut the hell up and turn the volume a couple of rotations higher.
This is the album opener, “Prepare the Ground”, which starts with a primal chord progression leavened with that Monson sunburst, and then progresses into something highly violent that will make you think the guitar is actually fighting back . This video is from a live show in Spain a couple of months ago, but the sound quality was bad, so they subbed in the album version. Doesn't match up perfectly, but it's better than looking at an album cover for the whole song. Enjoy it.
The newly renovated Neptune Theatre in Seattle's University District hosted The Posies Saturday, November 19, with supporting acts Star Anna & The Laughing Dogs and Curtains for You. I'll address the headliners first. From time to time one reads of The Posies being a power pop act, or a pop act. But for me, their set was a satisfying reminder that The Posies are a rock band, albeit a rock band with very well developed pop sensibilities. The band was a four-piece, with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow--both excellent, and enthusiastic, guitarists--ably supported by a bass player and a drummer. And with the bass was well up in the mix, a mic inserted in the kick drum, and Jon and Ken providing a near constant electric assault, the Neptune was rocking. That isn't to say that The Posies eschewed their well-renowned vocal harmonies, or that there were not some quieter moments. But for most of the evening the harmonies rode a very robust musical wave.
I didn't try to keep track of a setlist, but I recall that we heard tracks from the newest album, Blood Candy, as well as Frosting on the Beater standards "Solar Sister" and "Flavor of the Month". Frosting on the Beater is a favorite of mine. Not only was the music first rate, but along with Teenage Fanclub's slightly older A Catholic Education and the somewhat later early albums by The Delgados, we could enjoy rock with pop vocal stylings and clever songcraft. However, the one of the true joys of The Posies is that they continue to refine and evolve, and the concert would have felt incomplete if the evening had just been a nostalgia exercise. And since the live version of a song rarely sounds the same as the studio version, I was especially happy to hear recent songs that I'd only hear on CD before the evening. Rest assured, they sounded great.
The Posies set was more than generous. I think it clocked in at 1:45, with a short break after about an hour. It is hard to pick out highlights, but I particularly enjoyed "Flavor of the Month", "Solar Sister" and "She's Coming Down Again". And it was a nice change of pace when only Ken and Jon were on stage to sing together, as it gave the harmonies a bit more space.
The Posies still put on a good rocking show, and I was amazed at how well they transition between songs and blend together with no obvious communication. You'd be well advised to consider them if they are appearing in your neighborhood.
STAR ANNA & THE LAUGHING DOGS
I reviewed this band's most recent album a few months ago, so I was interested in hearing them live. I walked away even more impressed with their live show than I was with their very good album. Star Anna's vocal delivery is a stunningly good, and the band is excellent, individually and as a unit. The band consists of a drummer, bass, keys, and lead guitar, with Star Anna playing the guitar on many tracks as well (for the record, the line-up is Star Anna, Justin Davis, Travis Yost, Keith Ash, and Ty Bailie). The sound generally is a country-noir rock sound. But it seems to me that the set rocked out more than the album, which pleased me and provided the perfect warm up for the headliners. If this band has the ambition, and necessary bit of luck, I think folks outside of the Pacific Northwest will be hearing a lot from them.
CURTAINS FOR YOU
The first band, Seattle’s Curtains for You, were completely unknown to me, and I'll have to admit that I didn't pay a lot of attention to them during their first few indie rock standards. They were energetic but I didn't feel very connected to them. However, a few songs further into the night I began to enjoy their performance. All are very good musicians: Peter Fedofsky (keys, vocals), Mike Gervais (lead guitar, vocals and some sax), Matthew Gervais (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave Lawrence (drums), and Nick Holman (bass, vocals and some horn). As their set evolved, they demonstrated vocabulary of musical expression far beyond that of an indie pop band. To be fair to these guys, and since I'm based in Seattle, I'll have to give them another look.
The Spook School is an Edinburgh indie/pop band with a delightful sound an always amusing blog (linked below). They just released a very nice two-track album entitled Are You Who You Think You Are?
Twitter ( @spookschool )
We profiled Scottish two-piece Dolfinz earlier in the year. They are on our radar again with a two-track 7" Teenage Doom / Nosebleed 7", a very good fuzzy, punky noise pop set.
A Berlin Heart is a medical device used when a heart is failing. It also is the name of a Glasgow band that doesn't really want us to know any more about them at this point. Berlin Heart -- the band, not the medical device -- has released this wonderful bit of dark, minimalist, dirty surf to get us in the mood for the holidays. The name of the song is Blanket Over Sky. By the way, the song is released on Re:Peater Records, who also released the She's Hit and Jacob Yates & the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers this year.
Berlin Heart on Bandcamp
Re:Peater on Bandcamp
Re:Peater on Facebook
Monday, November 21, 2011
In last week's review of Fully Cocked by Bwani Junction, I wrote that the album was available on Amazon and iTunes. It appears that a barcode error resulted in that information being correct. However, the error has been corrected and the album is available for digital purchase at both sites.
We proposed to sacrifice a virgin in atonement for the error, even though it wasn't our fault. But no one at the WYMA offices, including contributors, staff and interns, is a virgin or even admits to knowing any virgins. Accordingly, in the manner of the best bureaucratic operations worldwide, we have resolved to never speak of this matter again.
Here are a couple of links you might find useful.
Bwani Junction - Facebook
Seattle's Seapony isn't relaxing despite their busy recent history. The band was formed in 2010, released Go With Me, their first LP, on Hardly Art Records in late spring 2011. Since then they've toured and made some videos, and now they are recording again. On November 22, Hardly Art is releasing a two-track 7". The A-side is "Sailing" and the B-side is "I Saw You". Here is the Soundcloud player for "Sailing"--
Seapony - Sailing by hardlyartrecords
And, if you prefer Bandcamp, here is the Bandcamp player for "Sailing"--
To my ears, "Sailing" is unmistakably a Seapony song, which certainly is not criticism. However, the sound has been embellished by hand claps and xylophone which add nicely to the overall effect.
Twitter ( @SeaponyBand )
Hardly Art Records
Sunday, November 20, 2011
And here's Will performing "Devil On The Interstate Line" from his EP Little Raider, also released earlier this year:
If you don't have either or both of these records yet, well, I don't know why. If you do, tell your friends.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Brain Idea is from Chicago, which is a bit surprising because their sound would fit perfectly with the Bats, the Clean, the Verlaines and other acts on the venerable New Zealand label Flying Nun. To my ears, that's a sound that always is welcome.
The members of the band are Ben, Joe, and Grant, and they released a five-track EP, Cosmos Factory, on the Mexican Summer label earlier this year. They released a nine-track album on Permanent Records in 2010 named Survival Scrolls.
"Oh I'm Free (Earn Your Card)", from the EP --
"Days Blown Away" from Survival Scrolls --
EP page at Mexican Summer
Friday, November 18, 2011
Youth Lagoon (Seattle musician Trevor Powers) is playing some beautiful, languid lo-fi indie rock. He's not afraid to stretch out on the guitars or to slow it down and let the song grow almost of its own accord. Vocals are not clear or up front, but they support the overall sound well... almost like Doug Martsch's in Built to Spill. I'd recommend Youth Lagoon for anyone who's a fan of Built to Spill - there's not anywhere near the guitar attack, and some keyboards and synths are substituted for raw guitar power, but like a lot of Martsch's work, there's some sparse beauty and excellent playing.
Enough with the comparisons... check out track 2, "Cannons" and tell me if it's not one of the prettiest rock tracks you've heard this year, and track 5 "Day Dream" and its repeated guitar line and primitive chanted vocal "oh oh oh's".
Here's the video for "Montana", a typical slow-builder with dense keyboards and handclaps and a nice melody:
This record impressed me with its approach and the variety of sounds created, as well as Powers' obvious talent - the focus on creating something beautiful out of the tribulations of life is clear, and it serves him well as this is a very pretty record.
Youth Lagoon at Fat Possum Records
Sometimes I wonder whether a soft, mostly acoustic album can hold my interest. Then an album like The Spectator & The Act by I Build Collapsible Mountains comes along, and I wonder how I could have wondered. Over the past few weeks this has been the album to which I turn late at night, with the headphones on, connecting with emotions and personal space after a day of playing lawyer, dealing with other duties or straining to be "on" in engagements where I really don't feel like it. That isn't because the album is peaceful or soothing (although musically it is both of those), it is because it is an album to get lost in, to really pay attention to the words, phrasing, and underlying emotions.
Shall we begin with the album's opening track? Here is "Face of Thunder Grin" --
IBCM is Scottish singer-songwriter Luke Joyce, who creates almost painfully introspective and insightful music of great beauty. Particularly notable is Luke's lyrical ability. He can evoke and clear image of a relationship and his emotions about it in a deft phrase or two. One of my favorite tracks, "Burn", includes the line "your eyes are graced with cross-hairs, and I am your kill". Here is a live version:
And here is the title track, "The Spectator & The Act", in which Luke sings
So hold me down by the wrist and by the crown
Don't give up on me
'Cause I hang by hooks and string
You left my bones dangling
'Cause I hang from hooks and string
And you can break me any way you want to
Squeeze my heart 'cause it doesn't feel at all
And you can break me any way you want to
Just tell me its love before my head hits the floor.
Joyce also is the front man for indie rockers The Gothenburg Address. I don't think he's abandoned that project, but IBCM is his platform to showcase his singer-songwriter side. More than that, the album seems to be an explosion of emotions, including longing and rejection. I hope it was cathartic for Joyce, because for the listener the result is a work of art and a musical treat.
The album was released in October on Seattle's Burning Building Recordings. It seems to be flying under the radar, which really is a shame. I urge to to turn down the lights and let this one wash over you.
Burning Building Recordings
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Rocksteady74's Seattle concert pick for this weekend is The Posies, supported by Star Anna & The Laughing Dogs and Curtains For You, Saturday November 19 at the Neptune Theatre. Why that concert on a good weekend for concerts? I'm glad you asked. There are three reasons.
Reason One: For over two decades, as The Posies and separately as solo artists and with other projects, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow have been making intelligent, soulful and sincere fusions of rock and pop. Their energy and passion for music and refusal to stand still artistically keep them relevant and entertaining. As a case in point, consider their fine album from 2010, Blood/Candy.
Reason Two: The Posies will play their seminal album Frosting on the Beater in its entirety Saturday night. Yes, "Dream All Day", "Flavor of the Month", "Solar Sister", "Burn & Shine" and the rest of that album will be on the setlist.
Reason Three: Rocksteady74 loves The Posies. The opportunity to see them in Seattle is too good to pass up.
1303 Northeast 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105-4502
Doors at 8:00pm; show begins at 9:00pm
The concert is presented by STG (Seattle Theatre Group). The link for the concert is provided below.
The Posies' Website
Seattle Theatre Group page for concert
Glasgow indie poppers Zoey Van Goey released their sophomore LP, Propeller Versus Wings on Chemikal Underground this spring. One of that album's most engaging songs is "You Told the Drunks I Knew Karate", and he band just released a fun video send up of the modern artistic martial arts movie.
The band's line up is Matt Brennan, Michael John McCarthy, Kim Moore, and Adam Scott.
Twitter ( @zoeyvangoey )
You know what it's like when you are finishing the last drink before bed on a quiet night, and you wish that you could squeeze the glass to get few more swallows? Well, that's the way I felt when I finished my first listen to Jacker from Chicago's Heavy Times. I wanted to squeeze another song or two from the player. It isn't that the album is ungenerous, there are 12 tracks. But they are short songs anyway and I really, really didn't want the album to end.
Here is a live version of one of my favorite tracks from the album: "Skull Hair".
Heavy Times are Bo Hansen, Matt Jacker, Mathew Horde, Luca Cimirusti. Their sound isn't easy to classify. It has the speed, aggression, and noise of punk and garage, but the guitar sound is has a dense fuzz and the guys can wring out convincing rock solos on top of the three chords. Moreover, the songs have engaging vocal hooks. Whatever one wants to call it, it is a winning recipe.
Jacker is Heavy Times second LP. It was released in late October by HoZac Records. If you like garage/punk pop with a heavy side of fuzz and vocal hooks, this album is just what you're looking for. (It's going on my workout playlist)
HoZac Records (artist's page)
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Twin Library is an Edmonton lo-fi rock band, and they have all the right influences - Guided By Voices, The Velvet Underground, The Wedding Present, The Clean - to grab my attention. And having grabbed it, they're offering a couple of opportunities to download their music and name your price. I recommend it - they're terrific. It's beautiful lo-fi music with definite Pollard influences. As I listen to more, you might see a review of their most recent full-length, Softer Seasons, on WYMA.
The Twilight Sad, Scottish masters of dense sound and deeply dark stories will be back with a new album, No One Can Ever Know, on Fat Cat Records in February 2012. As a big fan of the group, I'm looking forward to the release of the new album. To occupy us in the meantime, the band has released "Sick", the first official single from the new album. The 7" includes the track "Sick" and and "untitled #67", which may be a demo of another album track. Here is "Sick"--
Album track "Kill It In The Morning" was made available as a free download in September--
Twitter ( @thetwilightsad )
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Nashville garage punk wizard Daniel Pujol is making great primitive rock music, and is part of a burgeoning local rock scene. Well worth checking out, especially if you've developed a liking for folks like The Black Keys, JEFF The Brotherhood and Ty Segall...
Here's a free download from Saddle Creek Records:
And here's the video for the title track from his 2010 release Black Rabbit:
Very strong. Check out more - Daniel Pujol MySpace. Not a weak cut in the bunch.
Here is another welcome edition of the two-people-make-glorious-racket story. In this case it is a male guitarist (Andreas) and female drummer (Martinique) from Pretoria, South Africa who call themselves The Make-Overs. The band describes their music as "trashpop garage punk something" which, depending on the song, is likely to be an accurate description. Here is the video for the slyly named "Surf Bored", which is the A-side of the band's new 7" on Chicago's HoZac Records:
Also on the 7" is "Will It Ever Grow Back", presented here from a live performance--
This video for their song "What Did I Just Axe You" was posted last spring--
Monday, November 14, 2011
One can imagine a young band whose gig is invaded by an axe-wielding madman who commences chopping up the bar, tables and glassware to be a bit intimidated, and perhaps reconsider the wisdom of the venture (and perhaps wonder if all music critics are that bloody emotional). But Edinburgh's Bwani Junction are not that sort of young band. As I recall, they displayed the local paper's headlines of the incident on social media and named their label in honor of the incident. And today their Aksatak Records released the band's first album, Fully Cocked--a debut brimming with quality, confidence, personality, and some of the catchiest guitar pop songs of the year.
Bwani Junction are Fergus Robson (bass, keyboard and vocals), Jack Fotheringham (drums, vibraphone and vocals), Rory Fairweather (guitar and lead vocals) and Dan Muir (lead guitar and vocals), three 19 year-olds and one geezer of 20, all of whom were students at the private Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh. What originally drew me to the band was their sound, which has elements both familiar and exotic. The familiar is easily described--Bwani Junction is a Scottish indie rock band with the expected instruments (two guitars, bass and drums) and song structures. But a few aspects of their sound set them apart from their peers. First and foremost, Dan Muir's African-influenced lead guitar style. And don't assume that this is just a Vampire Weekend-inspired affectation. Dan learned the style directly from Rise Kagona, guitarist for Zimbabwe's Bhundu Boys, for whom his father had served as manager in the late '80s and '90s. Fergus' fat rubbery bass, typical in Afro-beat and reggae, heightens the world beat sheen. Rory's vocal delivery is understated and has the tone of a natural storyteller (embellished by an hint of Edwyn Collins warble). Jack's drums alternate between understated support and aggression.
Of course, all the that talent would still come short without good songs. Fortunately, Fully Cocked reveals the band to be quality songwriters, as well. Rather that reach for the grand scale -- and necessarily speak in platitudes necessary when teenagers aspire to The Grand Statement -- the band writes about what they know. Standout track "Two Bridges" begins "All the boys down Walker Drive / They don't seem so bad any more / Remember nights, little chilly nights / When they was knocking down our door? / Remember Lucy, she was all shook up / Make up running down her face / All she could do was stand and watch / You've got to be tough in this place". Even their foray into political commentary, the anti-war "Today's Crusades", focuses on their observation of troops in nearby barracks leaving for the middle east and returning with fewer members. While the songs often are based on a mid-tempo platform, they feature changes of pace, Dan's engaging lead guitar bridges, sing-a-long choruses joined by the entire band, and positive deliveries, resulting in music that both is varied and invites the listener into the band's world. These aren't songs you put on the pedestal and worship for their indie perfection; these are songs to which you dance, sing along and share with the band.
Bwani Junction hasn't released any videos for Fully Cocked as of this writing. Fortunately, the BBC did an admirable job filming the band's set at the T in the Park festival in Scotland this past summer. The clip features three excellent tracks from the album, "Roots Too Deep", "Today's Crusades", and "Two Bridges". The whole set spans fewer than 16 minutes and is worthwhile in its entirety, but if you only have time for a shorter taste, my recommendation would be to take in the last five minutes because, in my view, the third song -- "Two Bridges" -- is among the best five songs I've heard this year.
I also expect that you can listen to the tracks on Spotify, and snips of tracks on various sites. In addition to "Two Bridges", my favorite tracks include "My Body, My Mind", "Roots Too Deep", "Bianco's", "Today's Crusades", "Marlebone", and "Middle Meadow", roughly in that order.
Fully Cocked was produced by Paul Savage, truly Scotland's hottest producer, at Chem 19 Studios, and funded in part with a grant from the Creative Scotland and the remainder for the boys' pockets. It is released on Aksatak Records. At this point, physical copies are available retail only in the UK and continental Europe. However, Amazon has the MP3s available, and I expect iTunes does as well. You may be able to obtain a physical copy from Sterns Music, Avalanche Records or other sources.
For a final listen, here is "Bianco's", the album's opening track, live at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow--
One of Bwani Junction's peers on the Scottish music scene to told me that he wasn't surprised that a band this young could produce a debut LP, because in his estimation they probably have 30 quality songs already. And I am confident that a band that has this much going for them out of the gate will be on our radar for a long time. They have the songs, the charisma, the drive, and they are managed by a music industry veteran, Gordon Muir. Make no mistake, this Bwani Junction are Fully Cocked.
Twitter ( @BwaniJunction )
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Beaten By Them is an art rock band - at least that's what they sound like to me - with similarities to American Analog Set, but a bit more abstract. One thing they do well is to build their sound... on this four-song EP, People Start Listening, the fourth track "It Can Take You Higher" turns into something you might expect from Mogwai.
For a short EP, they cover a good bit of territory in terms of sound levels and tempo - this is worth your time to check it out.
Here's a video about the making of their most recent album, Invisible Origins. There aren't any videos from the current EP, but they are working on a full album so hopefully more soon.
Check out the EP here:
And here's a free download of "Nusla Nif" from Invisible Origins:
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Circus Devils is Robert Pollard, Todd Tobias and Tim Tobias. They're pretty dark - what would you expect a 'circus devil' to sound like? - and they really do rock. Over their history (nine albums!), I've detected a sense of homage and inspiration from dirty 70's rock, but they are in no way limited to one type or sound, a trait that carries through on this record. Track one, "To England The Tigers", is a dreamy instrumental, almost Enoesque (sorry, had to get an -esque in there). The second song, "Capsized!" is vintage Circus Devils - bringing to mind great psychedelic craziness like "Vegas" from The Harold Pig Memorial, but also maybe Tom Waits as the tour guide on a late night Jungle Cruise. But there is melodic rock music here, too - track three is the very catchy "Cyclopean Runways" (click to download)...
On some of the harder rock songs like the pounding "Leave the Knife Curtis", Pollard shouts over the racket, but on track 9, he whispers over a gently-played piano. The track is "Vampire Playing a Red Piano" and it's Pollard describing the contents of a series of boxes. As with so much of the Circus Devils' work, you are constantly being supplied with atmosphere and imagery: imagine finding yourself in, say, a dark basement, a stranger walking up to you and whispering "Those boxes over there on the floor contain paralyzing secrets"... one of which, it turns out, is a film labeled "Vampire Playing a Red Piano".
Circus Devils is real, and Circus Devils is Pollard at his most unrestrained (which, honestly, is really saying something). There is a track called "Double Vission" which sounds very much like a twisted parody of, say, a Foreigner song, complete with the sounds of someone puking - followed by a strange little instrumental, "What Wallace". If you stick with 'em, though, the Circus Devils' next song rewards you with what is best described as sweet, soulful soft rock - "Plate of Scales". And that, to me, is the point of Circus Devils. You gotta take the whole ride, and it's a blast, but not everybody is gonna get it.
To give you a sense of their aesthetic (and just because I like it), here's an excerpt from the "forum" on www.circusdevils.com:
Oslo Peters from Oslo, Norway: When is Circus Devils going to reunite the classic lineup and play Oslo again?
Dear Oslo: We are still the classic lineup. No personnel changes have ever been made. It seems you are confused on this point. Once we toyed with the idea of allowing a non-human to join the band. We will not go into further detail. All we can say is that there were bites that required stitches, and a really big diaper bill. To answer your second question, we will not play Oslo until we get paid for the last show we did over there, and have our equipment returned. In case you have not heard the story, we were attacked by the sound man at that show. He came at us during our set swinging a lead pipe and screaming in Norwegian. Naturally, we ran for our lives.
Do you want to buy it yet? Well then, go to your local decent record store (mine's Grimey's) or to GBV Digital.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Today it is my privilege to review an album notable for all the right reasons, including honest and insightful songwriting and top quality musicianship and production. However, if you are like me, the most notable aspect of the album is the vocals--almost unbelievably clear but redolent of heartache, passion and intriguing depth. Yes, Shelby Earl is one of Seattle's musical treasures, and if the music world is just, Burn the Boats will bring that realization to a wide audience.
A live version of one of the album's better tracks, "At the Start"--
In her early 30s, Shelby Earl worked in jobs in the music industry, including at Seattle's Experience Music Project, for years, but it has taken a while for her to decide to become a professional recording artist. Perhaps the extra time explains her ability to create songs which so well combines youthful hope and adult realism. The result is a remarkably complete debut, devoid of artifice and indifferent to trends. And it is well worth your time.
Album track "Under the Evergreen", live at KEXP's studios:
Burn the Boats was produced (and some vocals contributions) by Seattle indie stalwart, John Roderick, whose band The Long Winters put out some of my favorite Seattle albums in the last decade. it was released November 1 on Rachel Flotard's Seattle-based label, Local 638 Records.
Local 638 Records
Thursday, November 10, 2011
For your listening pleasure today, we bring you the sampler from Hozac Records, the self-described "Trojan Horse of rock and roll". Hozac Records is a Chicago label, founded in 2006, that has an interesting stable of garage/fuzz rock oriented bands, including the wonderful Wax Idols whose debut release we reviewed a couple of weeks ago (I'm still playing that one regularly, are you?). Hozac has LPs and singles, and the really great thing is that you can hear songs below and decide whether you like them. And if indecision strikes, just buy the sampler; life is good. Enjoy!
Fall 2011 by HOZAC RECORDS
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
BLACKBIRDS.mp3 by New Ruins
Here's a video of them performing "Crazy Annie". One of the things I especially like about them is their mastery of the tension/release in the guitar lines, which is featured prominently on this track. Also, three guitars!
If you like artists who combine a laid-back vocal style with all kinds of great guitars, don't hesitate. You can listen to a couple of tracks at their website:
New Ruins Website
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Fear of Men, one of my favorite emerging groups from England, has posted a new song called "Doldrums". I've shared the song with you below in both the Soundcloud and Bandcamp formats. You can listen to more of the group's fine songs at the Soundcloud and Bandcamp links below.
Doldrums by FEAROFMEN
Two people can make a lot of glorious musical racket. In the case of The Creeping Ivies, from Dundee, Scotland, the two people are guitarist/vocalist Becca Bomb and drummer Duncan Destruction, who formed the band in 2010 (disclaimer: WYMA has not checked birth certificates to verify the names of the members). The music is energetic garage/punk/60s throwback, and is sounds great to these ears. While The Creeping Ivies don't have a lot of music out there for us to evaluate, a group that list their influences as The Stooges, Bo Diddley, Johnny Thunders, Ramones, Velvet Underground, The Cramps, Hasil Adkins, and Link Wray has got more than a few steps in the right direction.
"Shake It Up"
Also from Dundee are The Hazey Janes--Andrew Mitchell, Alice Marra, Matthew Marra, and Liam Brennan. The Hazey Janes play muscular, crunchy indie rock. The gang recorded two albums before this year, but the second one was never released due to legal issues. Their third album, The Winter that Was, was released on October 17, 2011 by Armellodie Records.
Here is a single from the new LP: "Girl In The Night" --
And here is the Soundcloud option for the same track (available for free download)
Girl in the Night by The Hazey Janes by Armellodie
"Carmelite" is from the new album as well--
Monday, November 7, 2011
Rocksteady's Single Pick of the Week: The Louche FC - "Romantic" / "Rain and Thunder, Love Take Me Under"
One of my favorite little known bands from Manchester is The Louche FC. We featured them earlier this year and have been awaiting more music. The music this band makes pushes all the right buttons for me. On November 28 Sways Records are releasing The Louche FC's single "Romantic" / "Rain and Thunder, Love Take Me Under". While it isn't November 28 yet, the video for "Romantic" has been released, so I'm declaring it to by my single of the week.
You can stream both tracks from the single here:
And the band has made the following track, "Hands", available for free download.
The Louche FC - Hands by sways