Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Garage Rock Discovery - The Ettes, "Teeth" (also SXSW info)

The Ettes, one of a growing number of nifty garage bands working in Nashville these days, have a new 7" and accompanying video... they've enlisted the help of the Turbo Fruits, another of those Nashville garage bands (and Useless Eaters, a Memphis cohort):

"Teeth" is the opener from The Ettes' latest album Wicked Will. It's limited to 700 copies on three colors of 7" vinyl, and features the previously unreleased "Safely Down the Road" on the B-Side. There are 175 copies on Red Vinyl, 175 copies on Gold Vinyl and 350 copies on Black Vinyl--the band will have all three colors with them in Austin. Or you can order it on their website, linked at the end of this post.

Speaking of which, their SXSW schedule:

3pm - Blurt party/Dog Fish IPA @ Gingerman Pub (301 Lavaca St.)
11pm- Eastside Tone Sessions (301 Chicon St. Suite F)

4:05pm - Riot Act Media Part at Swan Dive (651 Red River)
12am - Krian showcase at the Iron Bear (121 W. 8th St.)

10pm - Beyond Race/Perfomer Magazine/EiPR party at The Lodge (411 E. 6th St.)

12 PM: Quantum Collective/Thrillcall at Whole Foods rooftop

And here's another song from Wicked Will, "Excuse":

Psych, fuzz, garage... what more could you ask for?

The Ettes website

REVIEW: Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker & Yim Yames - New Multitudes

Time for the other half of the long-lamented but incredibly fecund Uncle Tupelo diaspora to have its go at the Woody Guthrie catalog. Where Jeff Tweedy and Wilco chose to team up with British busker/troubador Billy Bragg on the excellent Mermaid Avenue records, Jay Farrar grabbed three kindred American spirits: Anders Parker (Varnaline), Will Johnson (Centro-matic and South San Gabriel) and Jim James (My Morning Jacket), and they've made a similarly excellent record that reflects the expansiveness and, in a very real way, the loneliness of Guthrie's American journey.

Here's Anders Parker singing "Old L.A." - this track is pure California:

And here's Yim Yames with "Talking Empty Bed Blues" - he also sings "My Revolutionary Mind" in which Woody is found longing for a "good leftist woman":

Johnson's songs kind of split the difference between the sweet and sad South San Gabriel ("Chorine My Sheba Queen" and "No Fear") and the guitar-slinging, feedback-drenched work of Centro-matic ("VD City", a raging, tragic song on which Johnson's excellent vocal puts a suitably forlorn touch).

And Farrar, well - let's just say if you buy this record because you like Son Volt and Farrar's other work, you won't be disappointed. He's one of those artists who never sounds much different... and for good reason.

I'd have to believe that these four artists, having built their music careers the way they have - writing their own music, seeing the country through a windshield as they built a base of support, and having fans identify very strongly with the sound and sentiment of their music - found it very easy to inhabit the persona of Woody Guthrie... and to write great music behind the lyrics. This is a really good record, and I feel fortunate - four of the best singer/songwriters working today, for the price of one record.

New Multitudes Website

Buy at the Undertow Music site - check out some Centro-matic while you're there.

"Meet the Golden One/LUV" by Burnt Ones

San Francisco trio Burnt Ones are releasing a new 7" on Burger Records. The tracks are "Meet the Golden One" and "LUV". "Meet the Golden One" is a delicious slice of boogie rock, and is presented for your pleasure in this following video. You can judge for yourself, but these tracks suggest to me that this band is about fun. I feel like throwing a party just so I can book them to play at it.

The group consists of Mark Tester, Amy Crouch and Brian Allen. The 7" is released on two labels, Burger Records and Gold Records. If you don't mind the digital form, it only cost $1 on Bandcamp.

Here are both tracks from Bandcamp:

Burger Records

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

REVIEW: Jonathan Segel - All Attractions

All Attractions is an old-school California rock album with some terrific guitar work from the multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Segel, part of what was always great about Camper Van Beethoven.

The record was started by Jonathan working with fellow Camper Van Beethoven bandmate Victor Krummenacher on bass and guitar, and their SF Bay Area cohorts former King Missile/Moth Wranglers' Chris Xefos playing some bass and doing the recording and mixing, and John Hanes on drums. The lead guitar on the track "I Know You Know Me (Hey You)," you'll say "this sounds familiar" and you'd be right. It's Brett Netson from Built to Spill. This record carries a lot in common with BTS records - long songs, impeccable chops and good melodies.

The first song, the 8:30 "Ever and Always", starts off with about a 5:00 instrumental introduction, reminiscent of maybe "Interstellar Overdrive"... and the album takes off from there. It's heavy on the psychedelic guitars, well-played and Segel's understated vocals grow on you. But the guitars grab you from the start. That's what you'll come back for.

As a bonus, there's a 7-song EP called Apricot Jam which is included if you buy a physical CD. From Jonathan's website: "After the last basic tracks were recorded for the accompanying CD All Attractions, John Hanes (drums), Victor Krummenacher (bass), Graham Connah (organ) and Jonathan Segel (guitar) jammed for several hours. These were 6 tracks, which started there, taken home and made into composition out of the improvisation, (which is always super fun.)"

Read more about what Segel's been up to, and sample more of his music, at the Magnetic Records website, or check out downloads at Bandcamp:

If there's anybody out there who still likes extended-length guitar rock songs, this record is good news. Out today, and recommended.

"Telling Lies", by Evans the Death

Today's single spotlight is on "Telling Lies", from the UK's Evans the Death, a tight band with incredible female lead vocals. With its fuzzy and chiming guitars, the A-side manages to pull together C86 and Creation Records influences with a good dose of Pixies-style rock. The B-side is "Morning Voice" is a softer, nearly partially acoustic affair with an appealing '60s slow-dance vibe. It nicely highlights the band's versatility.

Evans the Death, which is named after the undertaker in Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, consists of Katherine Whitaker (vocals), Dan Moss (guitar), Olly Moss (guitar), Lan McArdle (bass, vocals), and Rob Mitson (drums). Their UK label is Fortuna Pop!, and their US label is Slumberland Records.

Here is the just released video for the title track:

We understand that a full length will follow, and based on the strength of "Telling Lies", we look forward to it.

Twitter ( @evansthedeath )
Slumberland Records
Fortuna Pop!

"Zenithobia", by Discopolis

Probably the hottest electro-rock outfit in Scotland is the young trio known as Discopolis. The band's new single, "Zenithobia", was released on March 5 on Kids Records. These guys were good a year ago, and the quality and maturity of their music is impressive; I predict big things for these lads.

Fergus Cook, Laurie Corlett and Donald Dave Lloyd are from Edinburgh. Additional tunes can be streamed from this Soundcloud link.

Twitter ( @Discopolisuk )

"This City", by The Last September

Edinburgh-based The Last September released their latest single, "This City", on Monday, March 5, and they have made it available for free download at their Bandcamp site. The title track is a taut post punk/indie rocker. The B-side is very well-done folk/Americana tune.

"This City"

The group consists of Pete Deane, Dave Bishop, Calum MacLeod, Jos Collins, and Rich BB.


Monday, March 5, 2012

REVIEW: Vigo Thieves - Heart & Soul (Part 1) EP

On Heart & Soul (Part 1), Scotland's Vigo Thieves display an explosively big sound, reminiscent of Simple Minds and U2. Everything is big--the beats, the synths, the guitars, and the high-flying vocals. Of course, that all works only if the band is good. But these guys are very good. You want proof? Try "Heartbeats", an anthem likely to make many 'top songs of 2012 lists' --

VIGO THIEVES - HEARTBEATS from Vigo Thieves on Vimeo.

The band consists of Stevie Jukes (vocals and guitar), Barry Cowan (guitar and vocals), Gordon Phipps (bass), and Al Jukes (drums). They released the Love is Dead EP. As the title of Heart & Soul (Part 1) implies, the album is being released in two stages, with Part 1 coming out today on Hijacked Records. Part 1 has six tracks. The first track, "Wide Awake", is an instrumental. Track two, "Steal Your Heart", is a taut, emotionally charged post punk song.

Track three, the above "Heartbeats", and track four, "Love Is Dead", are built for the stadiums. Do I like the ambition? Yes, I do.

"She's On Fire", the fifth song, dials it down only incrementally. The final track, "Steal Your Heart Pt. II", is the album's soulful ballad, and very much worth the wait.

Here is the trailer for the album:

Vigo Thieves' Heart & Soul (Part 1) is an impressive package--soulful verses, big choruses, good melodies, excellent musicianship and flawless production. I'm enjoying it; and I'm looking forward to Part 2.

Twitter ( @vigothieves)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

New Stuff: Summer Twins

Summer Twins Cover Art

I saw a very cool new band last night, Summer Twins, who opened for Peter Case / Paul Collins. Despite the 3 decade difference in age between the two bands and when most of their respective songs were written, Summer Twins' shimmering, well-crafted pop fit in well with the classic Plimsouls and Nerves power pop.

Which is not to suggest Summer Twins are a self-conscious throw back. Their stuff will remind our readers of some of the contemporary Scottish pop covered by Rocksteady 74 here, as well as young American pop bands we like, especially The Parson Red Heads and She and Him.

Here's "I Don't Care", the opening track from Summer Twins brand new self-titled debut:

Summer Twins were formed in 2008 by sisters Chelsea (vocals, guitars) and Justine (drums) Brown from Riverside, CA. They absorbed well their California pop music history, especially the Mamas and Papas and Lovin' Spoonful, as well as the Phil Spector girl group sounds of The Shirelles and Crystals. It comes bouncing out of them very naturally and infectiously, complimented by the varied textures and guitar sounds of Marcio Rivera, while bassist Danny Delgaldo brings a Motown bottom to the party.
Chelsea is a confident frontwoman with a winning stage presence; if you like pure pop music at all, it would be impossible not to surrender to the joyous vibe that jumps out of her and her band.

Here's a video of an earlier song not on the record but that certainly captures their sunny spirit "The More I Think of You":

My favorite live song was the set closer "Pickin' Daisies", with some full on psychedelia and a whole lot of guitar hooks:

If this stuff doesn't put a smile on your face, you should maybe see a doctor.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Don't Let Your Unattractiveness Make You Self-Conscious"

I remember watching an episode of the Munsters in which Herman said that to Marilyn (the "normal" daughter). At the time, my friend Mike acted like it was one of the funniest things he had ever heard.

Later that week, he was trying to introduce himself to a young lady at an establishment, when I guess she expressed her disinterest in a way that made him pull out his favorite Munsters line... and he got to wear what was left of her drink.

And what's more awesome than that? Well, maybe this Anacrusis cover of the Munsters theme...

Great New Songs! Future of the Left / High On Fire / PS I Love You

Man, what a week for tantalizing music announcements! I had to have seen ten things that made me go 'hells yeah' for one reason or another, but I've forgotten all but three of them, and before I forget those, I figured I'd better throw them up here.

Just so you know, we aspire to be more than merely an aggregator blog. We want to be what they call in managementspeak a "value add." This can be through incisive music analysis, or by throwing in a trenchant quote from Antonio Gramsci or Shirley Hemphill, or even a half-witty remark here or there.

I got none of that for you today, but in an attempt to justify my station among the rarefied echelon of music people above me on the blog masthead I have interspersed this post with pictures of Udo Dirkschneider. Udo is nearly as famous for his stature as he is for his leviathan vocal prowess. In the photo above, he is standing ten feet in front of the rest of his band. Below, he is whipping the crowd into a frenzy at a recent show at Madison Square Garden, or Hammersmith Odeon, or someplace.

I have written or said before, maybe even here, that Mclusky is one of my all-time favorite bands, and that Future of the Left is one of my favorite current bands. Andy Falkous is an artistic treasure in the tradition of Swift, or Wilde. When I try to think of a more modern counterpart, it's hard to ignore the recently departed Christopher Hitchens for that Falkonian blend of wit, culture and spleen. After all, it was Hitchens who said of Francois Mitterand, "One cannot eat enough, to vomit enough, at the mention of his name." And of the then-recently departed Jerry Falwell, "If he had been given an enema, he could have been buried in a matchbox." Falco, for his part, said Gareth Brown's mom is a ballpoint pen thief.

Here's Udo squeezing out a song with his current band, U.D.O.

Falkous's post-Mclusky project Future of the Left replaced its bassist and added a guitar after touring their excellent second LP, Travels With Myself and Another. Last year they released a very nice EP and now have announced that the next full length, The Plot Against Common Sense, will be released on 28 May through Xtra Mile Recordings. This week they posted the first video from the album, "Sheena is a T-shirt Salesman", over on NME. Check it out HERE.

Udo sometimes moonlights as a security guard. He doesn't need the money, he just likes authority.

High on Fire put out one of my favorite albums of 2010, and this week announced the follow-up, De Vermis Mysteriis, will be released on 3 April by eOne Music. Start saving your semoleons because that's less than 5 weeks. They also posted a bonecrunching song, "Fertile Green", over on Pitchfork. I might be able to embed it here, but there's a nice short writeup by Brandon Stosuy over there, and he's always good to read.

Seriously, the also-recently-departed Ronnie James Dio, at 5'4", towered over Udo. And yet comparing the two as vocalists, Ronnie James is the dwarfish one, and Udo is the titan. And I deeply love Ronnie James -- did you ever listen to Mob Rules (the album, not the band)? Hoo boy.

PS I Love You was a fantastically bad romantic comedy from 2007 starring Hillary Swank, and a fresh-off-300 Gerard Butler (what the hell were you thinking man?). Believe it or not, the film also had Lisa Kudrow, and was stillbad. This movie was so bad that one critic called it "more uneven than an emery board," and you know that critic had been saving that chestnut of a simile for the right moment for years.

Despite his Teutonic origins, Udo is not afraid to show the pensive, slightly crosseyed side of his personality.

It is only in that context that one's reaction to the band naming ability of Benjamin Nelson and Paul Saulnier, of Kingston, Ontario's PS I Love You, goes from, "what a stupid band name" to "what a freaking great band name!" Kingston may be famous for being the home of Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller andCarolina Hurricanes defenseman Bryan Allen, but it should be nearly equally proud of the awesome amount of beautiful noise this young duo have cranked out over the past couple of years. John posted a great song off their excellent 2010 album Meet Me at the Muster Station last January. A couple of days ago they posted a new song over on Pitchfork called "Sentimental Dishes", which will be on their new full-length, Death Dreams, out 8 May on Paper Bag Records. It's a fantastic song, and well worth the parsec it would take to get over to Pitchfork, if in fact parsec were a unit of time rather than of distance.

When Udo saw this photo, he yelled, "anatomisch korrekte!" and then headbutted his publicist in the sternum.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Soul Corner - Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (feat. Teddy Pendergrass)

We wrote last week about the 1970's Philadelphia soul sound, Philadelphia International Records and the Gamble-Huff team, which got us thinking about that era. I've always been and remain far more of Memphis soul and Motown guy. But let's give Philly its due.

Here's perhaps my favorite single from there, "The Love I Lost", by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, with a truly spectacular lead vocal by the late Teddy Pendergrass, a Philly native son.

Davy Jones

Davy Jones, a member of the Monkees, died Wednesday of a heart attack near his home in Indiantown, Fla., just months after he, Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz had completed a tour marking The Monkees’ 45th anniversary. He was 66. It is a case of you had to be there. When the Monkees first appeared in the fall of 1966, many heaped scorn upon them because they were “made for TV.” and did not play their own instruments or write their own songs. Soon they became everyone's guilty pleasure. Each Monday night for the next two years, people would tune into NBC to see the comical trials and tribulations of four young musicians who tooled around in a tricked-out car called the Monkeemobile. 

Jones, the onetime child star of the British musical stage, quickly became the group’s heartthrob. With his boyish good looks and endearing British accent augmented by a strong, Broadway-trained singing voice, it was a role he would play for the rest of his life. Born in Manchester, England, on Dec. 30, 1945, Jones had been a child star in his native country, appearing on television and stage, including a heralded role as “The Artful Dodger” in a London production of the play “Oliver.” When the show came to Broadway, he earned a Tony nomination at age 16 for the role, a success that brought him to the attention of Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems Television, which created “The Monkees.” At 5-feet-3 inches, he was by far the shortest member of the group — a fact often made light of on the show. But he also was its dreamboat, mirroring Paul McCartney’s role in the Beatles.

The Monkees used some of the best pop songwriters of the period. Neil Diamond, the Boyce-Hart partnership, Jack Keller, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Harry Nilsson, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and many other highly regarded writers had songs recorded by the Monkees. The cream of LA session artists – the Wrecking Crew – worked on the Monkee sessions. Dr. John, Leon Russell, Carol Kaye, James Burton, Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine and James Burton were just a few of the musicians who were the core of the Crew. Their chops graced recordings from the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Nancy Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel and the Mamas and Papas.

In the final analysis, the Monkees were central to many pop classics. Here are three songs Davy sang lead on. The first is "Valleri" with a memorable opening lead and more by Glen Campbell:

"Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" reached #2 on the pop charts.

The biggest hit he sang lead on was John Stewart's "Daydream Believer" which reached #1.

Rhino Records released a double disk of the Monkees' Greatest Hits. Buy it or burn it.

Get to Know: Sea Lions

To all the jangle pop fans that frequent these pages, I have an apology. It seems that I have been remiss in covering the debut LP from Oxnard's Sea Lions. The band released Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask last fall on Slumberland Records, and I'm just mentioning it today. I'll give you a bit of background while you listen to this track from the album--

"I Should Be Sleeping"

Sea Lions were formed in 2007 by guitarist/vocalist Adrian Pillado. The remainder of the current line-up is Matthew Urango on guitar, Kyle Zufolo on bass, Katie Chavez on Tambourine, and Alex Forbes on drums. Apparently, in the early years the band experienced a bit of genre-hopping as Adrian worked out how he wanted to express himself musically. Where he has settled, and it is displayed to great effect on this album, is the C86 jangle sound. They do it well, and they do it sincerely. It is a sound of which I never tire, and the Sea Lions are a welcome and fresh addition to the stage. Look out for these guys, they are keepers.

To try more sounds from the band, here is a three-track album sampler from Slumberland Records:

Album page at Slumberland Records

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gardens & Villa - Gardens & Villa - free download, upcoming tour info

Recently got a listen to Gardens & Villa's self-titled 2011 release, and I'm impressed. It's got elements of prog, new wave and funk, but lo-fi, with an acoustic base and falsetto vocals... it's pretty soulful and definitely a grower.

My interest was drawn by upcoming visit to Nashville (March 23 at High Watt - 18+ show), but they're touring all over, including SXSW. Tour info available at Secretly Canadian.

Here's the video for "Spacetime":

"Spacetime" by Gardens & Villa from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

And here's a free download of "Black Hills".

Looks like a group of California kids making really cool music, working their way across the bottom half of the country this spring. Check 'em out if you can.

Gardens & Villa Website

Gardens & Villa Facebook

Gardens & Villa Twitter

REVIEW: We Have Band - Ternion

In Ternion, We Have Band brings us another twist on the synth pop template. Not quite cold wave or chill wave, but not the new wave dance outfit of their 2010 debut, I guess I'd call in melancholy wave. Don't misunderstand me--this album has plenty of hooks, great melodies and bursts of energy. But there seems to be a sadness and intensity that renders the album intimate and, perhaps, a bit unsettling. But unsettling can also heighten interest, so the entire experience may benefit from this approach. Here is the official video for the darkly dance-able "Where Are Your People?".

The band can slow things down, as well. And when they do, the raw emotion is palpable. Here is an acoustic version of album opener, "Shift" --
Here is a very cool acoustic version of album track "Shift" --

We Have Band can still push the new wave buttons superbly, as demonstrated by "Visionary", which could fit into the New Order catalog. And the following track, "Watertight", is melodic and upbeat.
"Visionary" has a distinct New Order vibe.


We Have Band is comprised of Thomas WP, Dede WP, and Darren Bancroft, and they are from the UK. Ternion was released on the Naive label this week. The LP and iTunes purchases include expanded material which is intended to be a deconstruction of the main album. The main album itself uses a prior album by The League Unlimited Orchestra as an inspiration and launching pad. Obviously, this is an ambitious, even risky, endeavor. There may be fans of the debut album unwilling to accept the additional depth offered here. But I think the risk was well taken. We Have Band has proved that they can be more than re-interpreters of fine dance grooves. They want to be known for more, and they've earned that chance.

Twitter ( @wehaveband )