Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day, II:

I have always loved Irish music - JD already put up the Chieftains, so I won't repeat that, but I sure do like them... St. Patrick's day is a great excuse to put up my favorite song by Thin Lizzy, "Southbound"... still my favorite Irish rockers:

And this guy isn't even Irish, but he certainly got in the fookin' spirit for this song:

Happy St. Patrick's Day

All of us here at WYMA are either of true Irish ancestry or else were claimed in the Irish spirit by virtue of attending The University of Notre Dame.

Plus I own an Irish Terrier, Renny, the king of all canines.

So today we honor the Irish, whose literature, lore, and certainly music are among the very best in the history of civilization. Everything I love about Ireland comes through in the music - generous spirit, sympathy, humor, hope, ability to process sadness, the pubs and strong sense of community, and a deep love of the landscape and sea. And yes, the voices.

So here are a few of my favorites.

We'll start with a pub performance by the grand traditionalists, the Chieftains, and some friends:

Here's a thoroughly contemporary pop song, still deeply rooted in traditional Irish music, from my favorite Irish lass, Lisa Hannigan, who I will continue to push here at WYMA until everyone who has ever visited this site buys her latest CD Passenger:

The great Van Morrison with a stunning live performance of "Into the Mystic":

I uncovered a fabulous live version of one of my favorite songs of the 80's, "Fisherman's Blues" by the Waterboys, which truly captures the Irish spirit I love so much:

And of course no St. Patrick's Day musical tribute can be without Shane McGowan and the one and only brilliant, besotted and beloved Pogues. Though from London, their post-punk interpretation of traditional Irish music is deservedly revered and legendary. Here's a handful of songs, 14 minutes worth from a 1984 TV show, before they hit it big but when Shane still had it all going on:

To our readers, an Irish toast from WYMA:

May neighbours respect you,
Trouble neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And heaven accept you.

Get to Know: Mi Mye

This post has a dual purpose. First, it exposes you to the music of Mi Mye, which is the recording name for Jamie Lockhart. Second, listening to the following two albums from Mi Mye demonstrates the effects of personal circumstances on art. And the comparison is all the brighter because as a vocalist, Lockhart is utterly convincing.

Originally from Skerray, in northern Scotland, Lockhart began recording around 2003. Now residing in Yorkshire, in 2010 he released the album Senc to the Shaking. The album is sunny in sound and disposition, an indie/dream pop album with layers of sound and, overall, an uplifting feel.

However, Lockhart has since suffered a divorce, and chronicled it in the recently released The Time and the Lonleyness. The album ably reflects the pain and regret.


Friday, March 16, 2012

New Folk/Rock Discovery: Professor Penguin, "Pirate" (from upcoming release Planes)

Professor Penguin is a London-based nine-piece band playing a terrifically melodic brand of folk/rock. Good vocals, understated chiming guitar and gentle beat, but with a nice release at the end via a pretty good guitar solo. Check it out:

The single will be available Monday (3/19) and the album is due out early in April.

Professor Penguin website

"Dead" by Waterworld

Waterworld is a project of members of a number of Manchester bands, apparently including Waiters, Sex Hands and Sir Yes Sir. As far as I know, they don't have a website of any sort, and I don't know if they have any long term plans (they played a gig in January). But they have provided this artifact, the reverby "Dead". It is presented here as a soundtrack to a Three Stooges cartoon.

The Soul Corner - "Skin Tight"; Ohio Players

Sly's birthday yesterday got me thinking about the great rock'n'soul era. And low and behold, the team at the Soul Corner research institute worked through the night to uncover this magnificent video, which has more good things going for it than I can list here - crazy Sun Ra/priest outfits, Japanese subtitles, the horns, the hair, the phrase "skin tight britches". Feel free to add your own favorite element here in comments below.

The Ohio Players were the party. [aside: I would feel so much better about the whole "the Ohio State University" nonsense if I thought they lifted it from the Ohio Players, but I'm guessing not]

The Ohio Players formed in 1959 and toiled away until a string of hits starting in 1974 - "Skin Tight", "Fire", "Love Rollercoaster", etc.

Further evidence of the industrial Midwest as home to the best mixologists of guitars and beats. Dayton is in the Soul Corner today.

Get to Know: Sleuth

Our jangle scouts (we employ top people) have discovered Sleuth, four musicians from in and around Vancouver, BC. The members are Julian Bowers (drums and some strings), Oliver McTavish-Wisden (keyboards), Jesse Easter (bass), and The Lion in Love (guitar and vocals). We expect that a Rickenbacker is involved in the proceedings. Songwriting generally is credited to a J. Lastoria. Is J. Lastoria also The Lion in Love? I suppose that if they had wanted us to know, they would have said so.

Sleuth released Brave Knew Nothing last spring. The physical copies are sold out, but I believe that digital downloads remain available. You can stream its jangly delights here:

And these two songs from a recent live performance are available to download:

Twitter ( @SleuthTheBand )

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the Ides of March and Sly Stone

Happy 68th birthday to Sylvester Stewart - aka Sly Stone. Sly and his family of funksters were only eclipsed in influence on popular R&B and Hip-Hop by James Brown. The Family Stone included Larry Graham on bass. Larry's slap bass attack has been imitated since he came on the scene. I was lucky to see Sly. His mental demons and cocaine addiction made him wildly unpredictable. He was as likely to miss a concert as perform. On July 27, 1970 Sly and the Family Stone were to appear at a free concert in Grant Park in downtown Chicago. The first band (Fat Water) started playing at 3. The second band came out at about 4. The announcer kept on giving us updates about Sly's progress to the concert. At about 6:30 they announced Sly had cancelled and a riot broke out. 150 people were arrested, 25 were injured including 10 policemen. It was the last free concert of the summer.

Sly's music has stood the test of time. You will notice the tell tale signs of cocaine abuse under Sly's nose in a number of the vids. In true funk fashion, every take is different - often devolving into extended jams.


and even more to remove the specter of Ides:

Free your ass and your mind will follow - George Clinton

Get to Know: Father Sculptor

A music blogger looking for good new talent gratefully receives emails and links to new postings, aware of the limitations of publicly available information. So here we present Glasgow band Father Sculptor--a band that reveals little of itself other than its current location and a few very good songs.

Of course, bands usually don't pop onto the scene without history, whether collective or individual. And one hears things--things about bands about which one is enthusiastic (for their quality music and rebellious attitude towards public relations), and recently blogged, dropping out of the scene. And then one hears things about bands formed and, despite their brief existence, being johnny-on-the-spot with recording-quality material. One can't help but wonder whether this is a birth or a resurrection.

But while mystery remains, we can share two Father Sculptor recordings with you. The first is the magnificent "Ember", a slow-burner that matches its name, which will be released as part of a two-track single in April. The second is January upload of two excellent songs, "Velvet Fall" and the demo for "Two of Swords". In my view, these recordings feature excellent songwriting, broad musical range, dramatic vocal presentation and a somewhat melancholy atmosphere. I'm very much looking forward to more from Father Sculptor.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Jangle Discovery: Desario - Mixer

Desario is a Sacramento-based jangle rock band with excellent guitars, and hooks aplenty, throughout Mixer, their second record. I really enjoy the quick pace of "Develop Destroy", the big guitar hooks of opener "Cement Sneakers" and the jangle of "Call Out Your Rivals" and "Occasional Monsters" - that one's got a really nice hook in the intro. The band consists of John Conley (vocals / guitar), Jim Rivas (drums / percussion), Mike Yoas (guitar / synths), and Mike Carr (bass).

Here's the video for "Victoria Island":

You can learn more, and buy it, at Test Pattern Records' website.

New videos from Veronica Falls and Violens

This post is brought to you by the letter "V".

Veronica Falls' self-titled debut was one of my favorite albums of 2011. This band has a sound I absolutely love and I'm always hoping for more. We now can celebrate a new song from the foursome, "My Heart Beats".

Veronica Falls - My Heart Beats from Army Of Kids on Vimeo.


Brooklyn trio Violens are releasing their new album, True, in May on Slumberland Records. While waiting for the big package of fuzz, reverb and new wave sheen, we can enjoy this video for album track "Der Microarc" --

Violens - Der Microarc from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.


Seattle Showcase: Blooper and The Creakies

Here are two Seattle bands that likely will be new to you, but have a good sound and promising future.

Blooper is a Seattle powerpop trio whose members areAdriano S. (guitar/vocals), Darrin Ruder (bass/vocals), and Chris Quirk (drums). If you are reminded of Teenage Fanclub while listening to their music, they will be flattered. Their new single, "Secret Song", available for free download:

Ballard Avenue EP was released last July. It also is available free.


Seattle noise pop duo The Creakies consists of Lily Kerson and Tori Wolffe. They recently released the Redwood EP. Give it a play --

This collection of live performances was released last November, and is available to download free:


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

No Waves/No Ass single by FIDLAR

LA band FIDLAR is releasing "No Waves/No Ass", a two track single on the Mom+Pop label, to coincide with their invasion of SXSW. FIDLAR's music is an energetic blend of garage, punk and surf, and I recommend it. Here is a live version of the A-side:

You can stream the B-side, "No Ass" here, and you can download it free from the band's website.

FIDLAR is Brandon, Max, Zac, Elvis. By way of fun background, here is a stream of the band's April 2011 album, DIYDUI.

Link for purchasing the single

"Paw Prints", a single by Tango in the Attic

Scottish band Tango in the Attic is having a busy year. Currently at SXSW, they released the single "Paw Prints" yesterday (it is available to download free). The single is taken from their second LP, Sellotape, which will be released April 23. The band features a full, adventuresome sound with elements of garage and electro-rock. Here is "Paw Prints":

Jordan Craig, Jonathan McFarlane, James Crook, and Paul Johnson formed Tango in the Attic in 2008 at Edinburgh University. They currently live a bit north of Edinburgh in Glenrothes.

We will cover the album next month, but to tease you a bit, here is a live version of album track "Swimming Pool". I think this is going to be a good album.


Monday, March 12, 2012

New Stuff: The dBs (and important SXSW info)

The dBs, new stuff? Those late 70s-early 80's giants? That seminal American power pop band, the bridge between Big Star and the mid-80s explosion of great American bands like R.E.M., the Replacements, The Plimsouls, The Connells, etc.?
Yes those very dBs are releasing a new full length CD called Falling Off the Sky on Bar None Records in June. Here's a video for a righteous new storm trooping rocker "Revolution of the Mind":

And in preparation for their SXSW appearance later this week in Austin, Bar None let a couple more tracks out today.
Here's a page where you can hear "That Time is Now" and see where and when the dBs are playing in Austin this Friday, if you are lucky enough to be making the trek:

The best news in all this is that the reunion lineup includes all 4 original members, including Chris Stamey, who sings lead on "Before You Were Born":

After Stamey departed in 1982, Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby and Gene Holder continued the dBs and made some very good records, flirting with breaking out bigger with mini-hits like "Spy in the House of Love". But few bands have achieved the artistic heights reached on the two records made with Stamey - Stands for deciBels and Repercussion.

Even though they had unjustly abysmal record sales, the dBs had an indelible influence on virtually all American power pop that has come after them, including, whether the kids even realize it or not, the young pop bands that WYMA regularly brings to your attention. Certainly the Parson Red Heads are much in their debt and part of the team with Stamey having produced their most recent CD Yearling.

For those of you who are not familiar with the work Holsapple and Stamey did together, here's a taste with one of my favorite songs of all time:

We will do a full on review when the record nears release date. But I really like what I hear.

Band web page: There's a very thorough and interesting biography of the band in there for anyone who wants the full story.

Two new songs from PreTeen

We profiled San Francisco band PreTeen last October. If the lads were dedicated to pleasing us, they would have released an album by now, but for some unfathomable reason, they haven't. But while traveling to our therapist to deal with the disappointment and the crushing winter blahs, we do have two recently uploaded PreTeen songs.

Here is "Cool Your Jets" --

And "Nora Jane" --

I feel better now--no need for the therapist. Thanks, PreTeen!


REVIEW: Damien Jurado - Maraqopa

Damien Jurado's Maraqopa is a haunting, beautiful record. The treatments on the vocals, the juxtaposition between a loping, easy pace and some searing electric guitar (which is played almost as backdrop, seemingly to create a sense of unease) and the overall quality make this one of the best records of 2012.

Yeah, I guess it's folk. I certainly understand why any release from Jurado is going to carry that label, but this thing is so much more layered, has so many different ways to grab you than just the lyrics and an acoustic guitar, that the label seems inadequate. But what do you call it? Perhaps citing Ennio Morricone, Stephen Stills, Stevie Wonder and Buffalo Springfield as influences might at least grab your interest enough to get you to give a listen. I hope so... this record certainly deserves it.

Here's the video for "Nothing Is The News" - love the reverb on the vocals:

And here's a free download of "Nothing Is The News".

The next song, "Life Away From the Garden", recreates the Eden motif from "Woodstock", and you can certainly hear CSNY as a touchpoint... but with a children's chorus. Later, "Museum of Flight" takes a Jurado falsetto on the chorus and layers it on top of treated guitars, an easygoing rhythm section and a well-placed piano. The last song, "Mountains Still Asleep" reminds me very much of the similarly layered Neil Young (Buffalo Springfield) song "Expecting to Fly"...and that's pretty high altitude for a singer/songwriter.

In places you will hear folk, psych (including the searing guitar solo behind "Nothing Is the News"), country rock, gentle '70's style soul and a wall of sound approach... but throughout you will hear Swift's creativity and Jurado's haunting voice, and the soundscape they create here do justice to both.

Damien Jurado Website

Damien Jurado Twitter