Saturday, December 31, 2011

REVIEW: WATERS - Out In The Light

Released in September, Out In The Light is a hard-rocking album with plaintive vocals and some terrific guitars. Here's the video for "For the One", the lead track and my first exposure to the record via KEXP's song of the day podcast:

This album has a big, bracing rock sound. Singer/songwriter is Van Pierszalowski, who was frontman in Port O'Brien until they broke up in 2010. This band is a group of musicians he met in Oslo during his hiatus between Port O'Brien and this project. Sounds like they were meant to find one another... this record has the feel of a band that's been together for years. Especially enjoyable are the guitars throughout, and the vocal choruses on "Take Me Out To The Coast" and "Out In The Light" - but the whole album is terrific.

Here's a video for "Back to You" - love the feedback:

If you like well-played guitar rock with anthemic choruses, I highly recommend giving this a listen. (artist website)

WATERS on TBD Records

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Soul Corner - Marvin Gaye duets

It's the last Soul Corner for the year. This has been a ton of fun. For next year, I'm debating whether to stick with the Soul Corner or switch to a new feature we'll call "Bob Dylan Friday". Please give me any feedback you have on that in our comment section below.
Reviewing what I've covered this year, I realize I've been light on my very favorite soul singer, Marvin Gaye.
So let's see a couple of his great duets:
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" with Tammi Terrell:

And "It Takes Two" with the criminally underrated Kim Weston:

One more with Tammi Terrell, "Ain't Nothing like the Real Thing":
Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Country Rock Discovery: Martha Berner And The Significant Others - Fool's Fantasy

This is a real good country rock band, a little bit reminiscent of the bands Steve Earle put together on all those Twangtrust records, and she's got a strong, clear voice. In a sea of "half decent" female singer/songwriters, I think she really stands out.

Here's a video for the song "Cry", which was released significantly in advance of the record:

And you can listen, preview and buy it right at her Bandcamp site:

This record came out December 13, and she's headed out on tour soon.

Martha Berner website

Martha Berner Facebook

Alex Chilton was born today; RIP Alex and Big Star

Two of the greatest pop songs ever written, and they had plenty more.

September Gurls:

This one is also my favorite Christmas song:

Fine and pure of voice.
And we're gonna get born now.

Rehab? Not The Jolly Boys

While some of you are nursing Christmas hangovers, or contemplating a New Year's hangover, I thought I'd share the wonder version of Amy's "Rehab" from The Jolly Boys. And by the way, their 2011 LP Great Expectation was one of the best world music releases of the year. This is early Reggae, emerging from Mento and other styles and without the Rasta trappings.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lo Fi Garage Surf Punk Discovery: Low Times - split EP w Eets Feats

Here's a San Antonio band with a great retro garage sound... they've released a split single with two of their songs on it:

A Texas band that openly cites the 13th Floor Elevators as an influence - that's just about guaranteed to endear them to me. Give a listen.

Get to Know: Allah-Las

Skanky, surfy, electrified Southern California surf rock? Yes, please. We'll take a double. Introducing the Allah-Las: Miles, Pendrum, Spencer and Matt. The sound is a Nuggets-era analog throwback to .45s made by guys practicing in their garages. And I really, really hope we get more of it from these guys.

"Catmaran", from their recent single for Pres Record Co and produced by Nick Waterhouse. The physical copy is sold out, but the track may be available in digital form.

The other track on the single is "Long Journey" --

Here is a 2010 song, "Don't Wanna Hear No More" --

Pres Records

Monday, December 26, 2011

Punk discovery: Porcupine/Metal Ghost split single, out now on Big Action Records

Porcupine is a punk-inflected indie rock band from Wisconsin recording on a Minneapolis label - and they have released a split single with Metal Ghost, a German indie rock band. Yes, the world is getting smaller. It's all good stuff - Porcupine's guitars remind me of "old school" indie rock, with a jazz influence (are they old enough to be influenced by the Minutemen?) and both rhythm sections are solid. We'll keep an ear out for more from these two...

Listen and download here:

Porcupine Website

Get to Know: Jack James

Jack James is a Glasgow musician who makes an intriging brand of alternative folk/lo-fi rock. In addition to Jack's voice, the primary instruments are banjo, acoustic guitar, bass, piano, harmonica, and slide guitar. His most recent album, Leaving Town, was released this month. He previously home-recorded and released Quarter-life Crisis in 2010), and Lights Off, Headphones On in 2009.

Jack's focus on the type of music he is recording sprang from an interest in the works of Dylan, Neil Young, Elliott Smith and Damien Jurado. His goal is to create simple, honest stories. I only recently became exposed to Jack's music, but one listen to Leaving Town and I was hooked. Here is the album opener, "We Best Be Off" --

And the closing track, "Driving to the Coast" --

Jack James appears to take great care in the way he uses language to tell his stories. Here is an example of his craft from the title track, "Leaving Town" --
Wait until she's asleep
Find no evidence of me leaving
Pack my things into the car
Say my goodbye, that wasn't hard
Everything fits in the backseat
Your heavy coat trapped underneath
Although you left some behind
You're lighter now, pay it no mind

Travelling light, packed a full car, it's midnight
Not far to go, welcome to your new home
Can you tell what the difference is?
No matching sets of hers and his
But you've got two of a kind
And you're lighter now, pay it no mind

You can watch me talk and learn how to walk the walk
Steal my turns of phrase, my hair, the clothes that I wear
Become another version of me, the best version I can be

Your mood is heavy and your face relaxes
You can't raise a smile when the waitress asks you
If there'll be anything else
Your order lets her down, you never meet expectations
So you buy something else
But now you've got too much and something you don't want
Your problems coming to life in a roadside shop

You can watch me talk and learn how to walk the walk
Steal my turns of phrase, my hair, the clothes that I wear
Become another version of me, the best version I can be

You can watch me walk

You can stream "Leaving Town" in its entirety here --

Twitter ( @jackjamesmusic )

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Thanks for stopping by.

Introducing: Happy Particles - Under Sleeping Waves

Giving birth to an album on Christmas Day is, to say the least, a bold move from a marketing standpoint. But props to Glasgow's Happy Particles audacity for releasing Under Sleeping Waves today. (For those prompted to wonder about my audacity, or lack of a life, I will note that this post was filed a couple of days ago, and I'll be sleeping when it appears on the internet and then skiing while you wonder why Aunt Martha is still presents polka dot ties to all the males every year.)

Happy Particles' component particles are Gordon Farquhar (drums, percussion), Al Doherty (guitar, bass), Steven Kane (guitar, vocals, laptop, piano, glockenspiel), Graeme Ronald (bass), Ricky Egan (guitar), and James Swinburne (rhodes piano, saxophone). Their music is a surprisingly pleasing combination of indie pop and Sigur Rós-style experimental pop. If I was required to pick only one genre tag, it probably would be shoegaze, but after listening to the album, that description seems inadequate.

Certain tracks of Under Sleeping Wave are available to stream here:

Twitter ( @HappyParticles )