Saturday, December 24, 2011

Shelby Earl - new Christmas song: "This Christmas Is For Us"

One of our favorites from 2011, Shelby Earl, has released an original Christmas song. She's a terrific singer and it's a pretty song:

This Christmas Is For Us by shelbyearl1

If you missed it, check out Scott's review of Burn the Boats here.

Midnight World Pop Scout: The Weeknd -- Echoes Of Silence released, trilogy complete

Because it is always midnight somewhere...
This week's edition is single offering from Canada, but is part of a three piece project that has earned a lot of attention this year.

The final installment of the Weeknd trilogy, Echoes Of Silence has been released. The first installment was House of Balloons, which was released in the spring. The second installment was Thursday, and was released at the end of the summer.

This project of Abel Tesfaye, supported by Drake and others, is perhaps the most interesting R&B experimentation of the year. And this installment is better than the second installment. The first track is "D.D." --

Here is the entire mixtape, which can be downloaded at the artist website or Soundcloud links:
The Weeknd - Echoes Of Silence by The_Weeknd


Friday, December 23, 2011

Robert Pollard - video for "Love Your Spaceman", link to stream Let's Go Eat The Factory and fantastic old GbV track "Pantherz"

From 2008's Superman Was a Rocker, which by the way is not one of the six (or seven) great discs Pollard helmed this fine year. I say (or seven) because it appears you can now obtain Let's Go Eat the Factory, the new studio record from the GbV classic lineup. You can certainly go stream it at NPR.

Why post this now? Just because you deserve another chance to be exposed to the genius of Robert Pollard...

Updated to add link to great old GbV song "Pantherz" from the ACTUAL classic era, posted by Jim Greer via his great blog "North of Onhava":

Latest tracks by North of Onhava

Bookmark Jim's blog or follow him on Twitter, he will occasionally post great nuggets like this for limited times... and he's an excellent writer.

The Soul Corner - Christmas Edition

We'll start the Yuletide party off with one of my very favorites, the mighty Blind Boys of Alabama answering a very important question.

Then, the great Otis Redding with one of the most beloved Christmas soul songs.
My main man Marvin Gaye, making it mellow:

And finally, but certainly not least, Phil Spector's girls Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love kicking it up soul style for Christmas:
The Soul Corner wishes you and yours all the best this holiday season.

New Lo-Fi Discovery: Pear Traps - EP and single

Sorry it's taken me a while to get this posted, because I really like this band a lot. Lo-fi like old R.E.M., nicely buzzing and strumming along like the Feelies, the Bats or the Clean, it's catchy and the guitars are absolutely delightful.

Here's a video I found of "Come Home":

And here's a video of lead man Bryant Howe talking about his guitar rig:

Here's hoping they'll record an album or two in 2012, but until then this EP will do very nicely:

It's been out since the summer, but I just discovered it. "Discovered", that's funny. The Pear Traps sent it to me and Scott. Must have known what big fans of Human Television we are...

They're also offering a free download of their 2010 EP Basement Fidelity.

Get to Know: The Silver Factory

Combining the jangle pop of the C86 era with the more expansive scope of the Stone Roses, The Silver Factory is a welcome discovery for me. The band, consisting of Marc Johnston, Matt Vinall, Fran Feely, Luke Headland and Paul Hobbs, is from Leicester, UK, and is signed to Elefant Records.

Fran Feely founded the band in 2008 with an interest in the sounds of the aforementioned influences, as well as a few styles from the '60s (e.g., the Byrds and the Shangri-La's) and the Velvet Underground. In fact, the name of the band is a reference to VU 'godfather' Andy Warhol's studio. In October 2011 they have a released a four-track EP titled The Sun Shines Over You. Here is the title track --

"I'm Not Young Enough To Know Everything"

I think they have a very good sound, and I'm looking forward to more from them.

Twitter ( @SilverFactory1 )

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cool Video Thursday

We were happy to feature Bleeding Knees Club a few weeks ago. We now share their video for "Bad Guys" --

A favorite discovery in 2011 was TV Girl. Here is a live performance of the title track from their upcoming LP --

Olympic Swimmers with "Where It Snows" --

OLYMPIC SWIMMERS - Where it Snows from hollywood academical on Vimeo.

Allo Darlin' made this video of their recent tours to accompany their song "Tallulah" --

Allo Darlin' - Tallulah from Will Botting on Vimeo.

"Run Out of Morning" from The Loose Salute --

Scottish pop band Café Disco presents the video for their song "Terra Nova" --

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Get to Know: Dignan Porch

London's Dignan Porch consists of Joe Walsh on guitar and vocals, Sam Walsh on lead guitar, Hayley Akins on keyboard and vocals, Ben Goodwin on bass and Stephen Keane on drums. They play glorious lo-fi noise/dream pop and shoegaze. And they have a great ear for both atmosphere and melody.

Originally, the band was the recording project of Joe Walsh. They have released a single, an LP previously recorded by Joe (which can be streamed at the Bandcamp site linked below), and the EP Deluded, which is embedded in this post. Currently, the band is putting finishing touches on an LP to be released in 2012 by Captured Tracks.

"Like It Was"

"On A Ride"

Eight track EP Deluded was released in March 2011.

Twitter ( @DignanPorch )
Captured Tracks

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

REVIEW: The Little Kicks - The Little Kicks

Aberdeen, Scotland's The Little Kicks released their fine debut album Boxing Clever in 2009. Thus it has been a longish wait for the sophomore effort, the self-titled The Little Kicks, which was record in Edinburgh last summer and released in late November.

The Little Kicks play smart indie guitar & electro pop with an ear cocked to the dance floor. Check out "Anti Work Song" in the Bandcamp link below for a taste of the band's bouncier side (it is track two, following a brief intro piece). It may be the happiest groove you hear in a I-hate-my-job song.
The Little Kicks

The third song, "Before Today", is a catchy and tight indie pop song featuring guitars and synths.

"Making Big Decisions" -- track four -- is one of my favorites, and it is one of the two tracks most like the band's debut LP. I think that one of the reasons it grabs my attention is that the songcraft, vocals and jangly guitars all bring to mind a Texas band I loved in the oughties called Voxtrot. Interestingly, the writer and frontman for Voxtrot had spend time in Scotland studying.

"Loosen Up" is a synth-heavy track that builds gloriously from a spare beginning to club-anthem level. You can imagine the mirror ball spinning...

On the next track, "First Place", the band dials down the tempo and lets the intensity burn through the excellent vocal performance. The bit of brass in the background adds a delightful and unexpected bit of depth.

"Call of Youth" is the other song that is reminiscent of the band's debut album. Fittingly, it was released first as the album teaser. With its 60s up-tempo soul vibe, it is likely to be a favorite of many. And the band is offering it as a free download.

"Do Something New" seems to be pure, Postcard Records era indie pop. It is the lightest feeling track on the album, and likely to leave you with a smile.

"Far Too Honest", as was the case with "Loosen Up", begins with a slower tempo and the atmosphere created by the baritone vocals and synths, but then it ramps up with a Latin-style beat driving the song as the vocals increase in intensity. I think this track well-illustrates the talent of the band, because a track that could have seemed too heavy to end the album instead leaves the listen with a meaty final chapter.

By way of introduction, The Little Kicks are Steven Milne (lead vocals, guitar and keys), Scott Kelman (drums, backing vocals), Lewis Porter (bass), and Toby Brunning (lead guitar). The album can be sourced at Bandcamp, iTunes and Amazon.

I think this is a very good album. My only complaint is that, absent the intro, it is only eight tracks long. But in the holiday spirit, I forgive them.

Twitter ( @TheLittleKicks )

Sunday, December 18, 2011

REVIEW: 40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room

I’m sort of going back over the year and picking up things here and there that I missed along the way. I’m the least productive hamster on this particular wheel, so when John told us we need to get ‘best of’ lists up over the next couple of weeks, I sort of panicked. Heavens to Murgatroyd, last year my top 20 only had 17 entries. Even as I write this post, I don’t know how many albums will be on this year’s list, but I’m here to tell you that The Inside Room, by the London-based power trio 40 Watt Sun, is going to be way on up there.

The album was released in the US in July by Metal Blade. You know, you think Metal Blade, you think Slayer or Cannibal Corpse, which might lead to some assumptions about 40 Watt Sun that just don’t match reality. The five songs on the album, together amounting to around 48 minutes, are melodic and slow and drowning in distortion. They are expansive and beautifully arranged. There is no violence – not even any screaming. Singer-guitarist Patrick Walker’s baritone has a solid, unaffected timbre that gives the whole production a mature feel. Listen to the third track, “Between Times”, and I know you’ll agree with me that this is a good thing.

The band seems to have been classified, for lack of a better option, as doom metal, but this music is not apocalyptic. Certainly it is world-weary and forlorn, but every track on The Inside Room is an actual non-cheesy love song written in the first person. I’m usually a terrible cynic when I hear this level of emotion in any music, much less heavy music, and yet here it strikes me as fully authentic and a hundred miles away from ‘emo’. Here’s a nice (if you’ll pardon the missing first 30 seconds or so) live clip of the band playing the album’s opener, “Restless”, at a festival this past summer:

So maybe these guys are creating their own subgenre, something along the lines of ‘shoegaze metal’, because they’re much closer to a wall-of-sound band like Twilight Sad than the more traditionally ‘doom’ bands like Sleep or Candlemass. Whatever you want to call it, it’s pretty damn close to brilliant.

40 Watt Sun band home

40 Watt Sun facebook

Metal Blade Records

New Stuff - Black Box Revelation

Driving around trying to get some shopping done yesterday, a song I had never heard jumped out of my radio from local commercial station KINK here in Portland. "High on a Wire" by the Black Box Revelation:
As a teenager in Detroit and then as a young adult in Chicago, most of my music discoveries came via WABX or WXRT. But in the last 10 years as playlists have shrunk, formats narrowed and radio programming usurped by very conservative national conglomerates, commercial radio became predictable, boring and anything but a launching pad for new sounds.
Kudos to KINK for bucking that trend. They are actually playing a great deal more new music now than they ever did, not just hits, with some cool stuff that is somewhat edgier than their adult alternative history. I think they are owned by Clear Channel but they seem to have a lot of local autonomy.
Which brings me to today's discovery - Black Box Revelation from Belgium. I thought this blog had already pumped up every dirty rockin' guitar-drums duo there is, but no. Black Box Revelation has all the WYMA Blog ingredients - garage rock simplicity, great guitar riffs, and chock full of attitude and sexy swagger. Party in a box. Really, what's not to like about that approach?
Next up, the title track from their brand new CD My Perception:
A one minute teaser of the dangerously catchy single "Rattle My Heart" from the new record (full video not available in US per my Mr. You Tube police):

We'll leave you with an older track "I Think I Like You" that was licensed by the Pittsburgh Pirates, which means they have a much cooler music programmer than a certain football team that the WYMA staff follows:

Belgium, it's not just for great beer anymore.