Saturday, April 7, 2012

On Tour - Cave Singers, supporting No Witch

Have been spending some time listening to No Witch, The Cave Singers' February release - a fine psychedelic rock record from this Seattle-based band which also features well-placed blues licks, and gospel tinges in the vocal choruses. Here's a free download of "Swim Club".

Here's the video for "Black Leaf" - really like the guitars on this one:

Black Leaf by The Cave Singers from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

Turns out they're going to be in Nashville April 17 - my thought is that this music - a very good rock trio with strong blues and psych elements - will translate well to a live setting. Last time they were in Nashville, they opened for Fleet Foxes at the Ryman. This time, they're headlining at The High Watt (part of the Mercy Lounge complex downtown) and you can click here to buy advance tickets.

Here are the rest of their April dates, in case you're reading this in, say, Montana, through the magic of the interwebs.

04/09/12 Pullman, WA - The BellTower w/ House of Ghosts
04/10/12 Missoula, MT - The Badlander w/ Butter
04/11/12 Bozeman, MT - The Filling Station w/ The Getting Up Early Boys 04/13/12 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry w/ Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo 04/14/12 Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club w/ Absolutely, Greatest Lakes, Icarus Himself & Slow Walker
04/15/12 Chicago, IL - Schubas
04/16/12 Louisville, KY - Zanzabar w/ Whistle Peak
04/17/12 Nashville, TN - The High Watt w/ Madi Diaz
04/18/12 St. Louis, MO - The Gramaphone w/ Bo & The Locomotive
04/20/12 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge w/ The Outfit
04/21/12 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court

Crocodiles - New Video for upcoming release Endless Flowers

I like the Crocodiles a lot - wrote about them in the early days of WYMA, and it turns out they've got an album coming out in June. Check out this infomercial:

Free download of "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) here via RCRD LBL.

Sounds great, heavy on the psych, punk and pop...

They're touring, too - if you see them, let us know what you think of the new stuff.

JUN. 11 AUSTIN, TX STUBB'S (outdoors)*

* supporting The Temper Trap

New Discovery: Detective - Basket of Masks EP

Detective is a very new Los Angeles based rock band featuring James Greer (Guided By Voices) and Guylaine Vivarat (Useless Keys, Tennis System), as well as Rory Modica (Useless Keys).

I like the guitars, especially the sort of suspension in "Monochrome Girl"... and the jangle, plus the ethereal female lead vocal on "Rhodesian Man".

You can pre-order a limited edition vinyl (with download included) at their Bandcamp site.

While you're at it, check out their February EP Very Fallen World.

Does that intro to "Rally Point" remind you of anything?

Detective on Twitter

Finally, I will take this opportunity to share with you Mr. Greer's website. He's an excellent writer, which is plenty enough reason to bookmark and read the thing. But he will also occasionally pull out a memory or MP3 from his days as part of Guided by Voices. And you can also follow him on Twitter.

Saturday mini concert: Mikal Cronin's Violitionist Sessions

The Violitionist Sessions are conducted in Denton, Texas. The format is three songs, and three questions for the artist(s). The session we're bringing to you this morning is San Francisco-based garage pop artist (and Ty Segall collaborator) Mikal Cronin. For this session, Cronin is on acoustic guitar, and he is joined by Ty Segall (acoustic guitar), Emily Rose Epstein (drums), and Chad Z (bass). We've brought you the concert in two ways: You can listen to the embedded player below; or you can watch the videos of the three songs. Note that the session is available for free download. If you click on the link to the session near the bottom of the post, you can read the questions and answers.

"Get Along"

"Am I Wrong"


The webpage for Violitionist describes it's mission as follows:
The Violitionist Sessions are 3 questions and 3 songs with bands from Denton and passing through Denton, Texas. The sessions are all recorded live in a living room with no overdubs and no fancy tricks. The goal is to document a moment in time.
This is what happened in Denton, Texas.

It sounds cool to When You Motor Away, and we hope you enjoy it.

Violitionist's Cronin Session
Violitionist -- Main page
Violitionist -- Facebook

Friday, April 6, 2012

New Folk/Punk Discovery: Eamon McGrath's "Instrument of My Release" from Young Canadians, out April 10

I suppose "folk/punk" can set you up for disappointment, but give a listen to this Canadian singer/songwriter, Eamon McGrath, who clearly has a lot to say and a desire not to be pigeonholed in one "genre". The common thread is his songcraft and his strong, ragged, affecting voice.

Here's a video of him playing "Machine Gun Cowboy" live:

I dig the feedback. The vocals are good, the band is good, lots of emotion there, but it's the feedback on the guitars that puts it over the top for me. I'm looking forward to hearing more from him.

Buy at White Whale Records

New song from Sea Lions

What did you do on March 31? Many of you probably don't remember--it was almost a week ago. Apparently, for at least part of the day, Adrian Pillado of California group Sea Lions stayed home. But he managed to record this cool "Love Song", and he has shared it with all of us.

If you want a bit more background on the Sea Lions, we posted this profile of them early in March.

I'm making a note to myself to be a bit more productive this Saturday. I'm feeling like a slacker.


REVIEW: Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is An Animal

It has been posited that music often reflects certain regional characteristics. Such would explain the somewhat dusty, country-infused rock of the south, the sunny, blissed-out indie of California, and the murky grunge of the rainy Pacific Northwest. If that theory is valid, then working on reverse from the music on My Head Is An Animal by Of Monsters and Men, Iceland is a wonderfully different and magical place. A place of diverse elements of equal influence, such as fire and ice, seas and mountains, that are accepted rather than resolved. Reflecting their place of origin, the album's 12 songs range between alternative folk rock and anthemic indie pop, loud and soft, happy and melancholy. And all of it sounds somewhat familiar but also somewhat delightfully new. The familiar is the swelling sonic wave of Arcade Fire, the energy of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, the intricate quirkiness of The Magnetic Fields and the delicacy of Fleet Foxes. What seems new is the way the band stitches it together to make a statement that seems uniquely their own. The female/male vocal interplay, rustic instrumentation, soft/loud dynamic and melancholy lyrics set off by joyous melodies aren't new inventions, but it all sounds organic, fresh, unforced and utterly sincere on My Head Is An Animal.

Here is the wonderful song (and subject of this excellent video), "Little Talks" --
"Little Talks"

Of Monsters and Men is based in Reykjavík, Iceland, and its members are Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, Ragnar þórhallsson, Brynjar Leifsson, Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson, Kristján Páll Kristjánsson, and Árni Guðjónsson. My Head Is An Animal is their first LP, and is released on Universal/Republic. However, the band already has gained quite a following. Favorites of the staff at taste-makers KEXP, and fresh off SXSW shows, the band commenced a massive 31 show tour of North America and Europe on March 20. As of this post, twenty-two of those shows already are sold out.

"King and Lionheart" begins as a simple folk song, but around the 1:37 mark it takes off for the clouds and takes you for a ride you won't forget --

My aim in this blog is to search for music that speaks to me and share it with readers who share my tastes and perhaps don't have the time or inclination to search themselves. I do not intentionally set out looking for "the next big thing". But I also can't ignore the possibility that Of Monsters and Men is the next big thing. And even if they aren't, they are great fun, and very, very good. The opening track of the album is "Dirty Paws" --

Our closing note is the lovely "From Finner" --

Twitter ( @monstersandmen )

The Soul Corner - The Spinners "I'll Be Around"

The Spinners, one of the most beloved of all the soul music vocal groups, have been recording and touring for 50 years. They hail from Detroit, started their career with Motown, and were known in Europe as the Detroit Spinners to avoid confusion with a British folk group.
But their zenith occurred in the 70's when they recorded in Philadelphia for Atlantic Records, and were produced by Thom Bell.
Here's "I'll Be Around" from 1972:

So many songs either feature someone who moans that their life is over because their girl/boy left them, or else we find the dumpee bitterly telling the dumper what a giant mistake they made. But in "I'll Be Around", co-written by Thom Bell, silky smooth lead singer Bobby Smith not only keeps his cool, but takes the high road, "bows out gracefully," but lets her know that if she changes her mind she can come back - "I'll be around." Good strategy my man.

"I'll Be Around" was the first in a mid-career string of mega-hits for the Spinners: "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love", "One of a Kind (Love Affair)", "Mighty Love", "Then Came You", "Games People Play" and "The Rubberband Man".

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New music from Honeydrum

Honeydrum has been one of my favorite lo-fi indie bands for over a year now. The quality digital and tape releases from the New Jersey group is among the best ear candy of its type, and their self-made videos are a visual treat. Honeydrum is releasing a new four-song 7" on AMDISCS in the middle of April called Stranger Calls. It will be paired with an EP on CD titled Do U Party and the two releases will only be available as a set. The songs are short in duration but long on pleasure, and have a nostalgia-inducing radio quality. It is a bit dream pop, a bit garage and a bit new wave. The stuff is great, and I'm not aware of anyone else doing what they are doing.

For a taste of the tunes, here is the concise pleasure of B-side, "Suddenly Heaven"

Suddenly Heaven - Honeydrum from honeydrum on Vimeo.

And here is the A-Side, "Stranger Calls" --

Honeydrum also is releasing a tape titled When the Young Are Gone, which is a compilation including many of the tracks they have released in the past year. It is available at the "Store" link below.

Twitter ( @Honeydrum )
Amdiscs (label)

Get to Know: Fawn Spots

Weighing in at the noise end of power pop, or perhaps the pop end of noise rock, York, UK's Fawn Spots are an exciting duo. Their fine Gravelines EP was released in February of this year.

Fawn Spots is Lee Bowden and Jonathan Meager, and apparently, they've only been a band for a bit over a year. Their music may remind you of Fugazi, Husker Du, No Age, Crocodiles and Japandroids, but even if it doesn't, I think you'll agree that the music is irresistible. There is a lot of potential here, and I'm going to keep an eye, and an ear, on it.

Hair Play EP (released October 31, 2011) --


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New song from The Raveonettes

Rocksteady74 favorite The Raveonettes are releasing a four-song EP Into the Night later this month. While waiting (impatiently) for that, we can enjoy the title track. Note that you can enter your email address to receive a free download of the song.

Twitter ( @theraveonettes )

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Video from Conduits - "Last Dirge" from Conduits

Conduits is an Omaha-based rock band with a full, expansive sound - shimmering guitars and slow-burning rhythm section fronted by haunting female vocals, in a style they don't mind referring to as "shoegaze" even though there's more than one style going on here.

They released their self-titled debut on March 20 (our review from January, along with a link to download album track "Top Of The Hill" is here) and they've released a new video for album track "Last Dirge":

This is one of the best albums I've heard this year - highly recommended.

Order at Team Love

Conduits Facebook

Dot Dash -- New video and free download

Washington, DC's Dot Dash released Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash, an album the we liked quite a bit last fall (December review). The foursome of Terry Banks, Bill Crandall, Hunter Bennett, and Danny Ingram has just released a video for album track "Learn How to Fly". And if you like the track, you can download it free at the Soundcloud link below. Enjoy, and if you like this punky jangle and power pop, check out the album. The label is Canada's The Beautiful Music, and I've linked to their website at the end of this post.

The video:

You can download the track at this Soundcloud link:

As a reminder of the quality of Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash, here is another track, "There and Back Again Lane" --

The Beautiful Music (label)

REVIEW: White Arrows - Fireworks of the Sea EP

I feel comfortable predicting that Fireworks of the Sea EP may be one of the most interesting three-track EPs you will hear this year. On it, Los Angeles band White Arrows pumps out their, lo-fi, electronic, psychedelic, world beat soul that they call "tropical crunk". That may sound confusing, it may sound interesting, and it may sound interestingly confusing. To sort it out, try the title track--

The front man for White Arrows is Californian Mickey Church. Mickey and his brother Henry were encouraged to be musical by their father, who had an interest in African percussion. Mickey moved to New York and earned a started the band in New York degree at NYU in shamanistic ritual. Perhaps due in part to his studies, he experimented with music that blurred lines. He recorded some demos and moved back to California. Somewhere along that timeline, White Arrows were born. The current members, in addition to Mickey, are Juice (J.P. Caballero, Mickey and Henry's half-brother), Henry Church, Steven Vernet, and Andrew Naeve.

The second track is "Coming or Going" --

Tropical crunk translates to psychedelic dance music to my ears. And it sounds very good. Put it on for the party.

"Get Gone" is the third track --

Twitter ( @WhiteArrows )

Monday, April 2, 2012

More free music from Hipster Death Squad

The wonderfully named Hipster Death Squad has appeared on this pages several times. Most of the previous versions have been exceptionally well-crafted electo-pop. However, the current offering from Mr. Glucki is delightful acoustic pop. Note that the second song uses the old Herman's Hermits Song, "Mrs Brown You Have A Lovely Daughter", as a launching pad. Really good stuff, and you can't get a better bargain than free.

Twitter ( @HpstrDthSq )

REVIEW: Strawberry Whiplash - Hits in the Car

Anyone who has followed the career of Glasgow's Laz (Lawrence) McCluskey knows he is a master guitar pop craftsman. For both his Bubblegum Lemonade project and our current focus, Strawberry Whiplash, he creates hook-filled melodies embellished by the jangle and fuzz of his guitar. And with Strawberry Whiplash, we get the added treat of Sandra's pitch perfect vocal delivery. Building on their foundation of three singles since 2008, Laz and Sandra have just released their first full length album -- Hits in the Car on Matinée Recordings.

The album comprises 13 tracks, arranged along the concept of the life of a relationship from the original pickup (the 59 seconds of "Do You Crash Here Often") to the final kiss-off (the touching "First Light of Dawn"). While a concept album is an ambitious task, especially for a debut, the duo are fully up to the challenge. Heard as a concept or as single tracks, you will be charmed and entertained. The songs are concise pop nuggets -- only one exceeds three minutes -- and they echo the influences of The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Shop Assistants, The Primitives and Phil Spector produced girl groups. "Picture Perfect" appears when the subject relationship still is on track:

Here is the breezy "Looking Out for Summer". Things still appear to be fine at this point.

One of the lovers appears to be infused with a touch of paranoia in track 7, "What Do They Say About Me?"

"Stop, Look And Listen" falls closer to the disintegration of the relationship, and was featured in our January profile of the group.

And as things slide further towards breakup, Laz and Sandra hit us with this glorious tumult of fuzzy guitars, reminiscent of their Glasgow forebears The Shop Assistants: "It Came To Nothing" --

Hits in the Car is the real deal--no poses or pretenses--just expertly crafted and delivered noise pop that exists for the right reason: They like to perform it and we like to hear it. Fortunately, unlike the relationship at the core of the album, you'll be able to listen to the songs over and over.

Twitter ( @StrawberryView )
Matinée Recordings

Sunday, April 1, 2012

REVIEW: Robert Pollard - Mouseman Cloud

Shall I rave about the perfection of album opener "Obvious #1"? Or the slightly more perfect perfection of closer "Chief Meteorologist"? Or the fun to be had savoring the wordplay in title track "Mouseman Cloud"? I urge you to listen for yourself and just try to pick a favorite. That's part of the fun of a new Pollard album like his current release Mouseman Cloud - trying to pick a favorite. It changes, you see.

"Obvious #1" is a fully realized pop/rock gem with one of the best vocals he's tracked in some time, and it was the track released in advance of the album (we posted it here). But it's nearly surpassed, on repeated listens, by the immediately following "Picnic Drums" - it's got multiple changes and an irresistible chorus to close out the song. "Mouseman Cloud" is another song with the trademark Pollard changes - I count 6 changes and the song is only 1:29! And go figure the lyrics - here's a representative couplet:

"Picture the oyster dip
Squeal for the oxygen drip"

"Dr. Time" is power pop at its best, tension release on the guitar lines, crashing drums racing along and a bombastic vocal in Bob's fake British accent - in a little less than a minute.

There's "Human Zoo", another power pop gem in 0:48, and "Bats Flew Up" which veers into glam territory. You get the idea - it's all here and it's all well done.

Often, reviewers will make note of the volume of Pollard's musical output, and make vapid statements to the effect that he needs an editor or should somehow pare it down. I get it, I do. But, unburdened by the shackles of "impartiality" (as though such a thing were possible in matters of musical taste), I would like to say for the record that the world owes him a debt of gratitude for taking the time to craft great records like this as often as he does. It is a lot to take in, but in my experience even the songs that don't grab me on first listen will come back and smack me later. Just listen to "Smacks of Euphoria" which on first listen sounds a little unfocused and meandering. But listen again, and pay attention to the gorgeous guitar line over the end of the song. And stick around for what is now my favorite song on the album: "Science Magazine" - it's just beautiful, as good a pop/rock song as you'll hear this year... or until he releases his next record, I suppose.

Buy at Rockathon

Robert Pollard Website