Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Babies - My Name/The War single

Record Store Day is today. It is an event that we here at When You Motor Away fully endorse, and we encourage you to make a trip to your favorite store and check out the specials. If you have children, please take them along and introduce them to the pleasures of musical artifacts.

In sorting through all of the wonderful music specially created or packaged for this Record Store Day, I decided I'd highlight the single My Name/The War by Brooklyn's The Babies. It embodies the elements that make Record Store Day special. It is good music. It is specially released for the event. It is a special collection because the recording of these tracks actually predate the other work by The Babies that is on the market. And the label, Bad Paintings, is a small British label with which you may not be familiar.

The Babies include members of Woods (Kevin Morby) and Vivian Girls (Cassie Ramone), and we've written about them before on these pages. The two tracks on this single are delightful, raw, lo-fi noise pop, and I'm happy to add them to my collection of The Babies' recordings.

The single is released worldwide on 7” vinyl (500 copies only), cassette (50 copies only--I expect that the cassettes are sold out as of the time of this post) and digitally as of Monday, April 23. You can stream the tracks here:

Bad Paintings
Soundcloud for the single
The Babies on Facebook
The Babies on Tumblr

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Next Shiny Thing- "Live from Philadelphia"

Dick Clark died this week. America's oldest teenager made it to 82. Dick had become a caricature, particularly to those who did not grow up with him. Those of us who grew up with American Bandstand understand the major impact he had on youth. Rock'n Roll was often dance focused. The girls in my neighborhood would run home at 4 to watch American Bandstand, Hoosier Favorite, Where the Action is, and other shows to learn the new dances. They would dance down the street, dance at the park, dance at the pool and dance at home. The sound track was usually provided by the low fi of a black and white TV or pocket radio. American Bandstand was the national clearinghouse.

From the NYT obit: “It meant everything to do Dick’s show,” Paul Anka said. “This was a time when there was no youth culture — he created it. And the impact of the show on people was enormous. You knew that once you went down to Philadelphia to see Dick and you went on the show, your song went from nowhere to the Top 10.” One of the first dances I remember was The Stroll. This song was written after the dance became a favorite on American Bandstand. Every TV market had its own dance show. The national influence of ABS can be seen with kids in Idaho dancing to the original ABS theme song and doing The Stroll.

Some of his shows bordered on the absurd. Check out Dick and "The Pink Floyd."

Dick's interview with Jefferson Airplane answers the question, "Do parents have anything to worry about?"

Dick and Ed Sullivan were the first nationally syndicated shows to consistently break the defacto segregation of network variety hours. Both consciously ignored the backlash of southern network affiliates. Per the Museum of Broadcast Communications, ABS provided "American television broadcasting with the most visible ongoing image of ethnic diversity until the 1970s.” Dick should be remembered for his contributions to music and society.

Introducing The Sun Electric Band

We here at When You Motor Away are always happy to discover, or be discovered by, another band that is as fond of jangly guitar pop and garage psychedelia as we are. So we are very happy to introduce The Sun Electric Band. The Manchester band consists of Ross Charnock, Iain Till, Scott Russell, Ciaran Coyle and Greg Chiche. The have released a few singles in recent years, the oldest two of which are available to download on their Bandcamp site. This month The Sun Electric Band released their debut album, Want to Feel Like EP, on their own Take Care label.

The songs on display here remind me of Teenage Fanclub, and I think they promise good things for this band. The first two tracks are very good guitar pop (I especially like "Orange Grove"). The third track expands the jangle to encompass a psychedelic edge. In the fourth and fifth tracks, "Looking for A Girl" and "Round the Bend", the band expands their palette to laid back, California country rock vibe. But you don't have to rely on me, you can stream the entire EP here:

2011 single track "About a URL" is very good, and very free --

Twitter ( @SunElectricBand )

The Soul Corner - special edition: Levon Helm

"If it doesn’t come from your heart, music just doesn’t work.” Levon Helm (May 26, 1940-April 19, 2012). 

We've never attempted here at the Soul Corner to define soul music. According to the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying." 

But of course, one of the most wonderful things about music is that wherever it arises originally, once it moves into the air, it can be absorbed and even transformed by anyone anywhere who dares to listen.

And few absorbed soul music more profoundly than Levon Helm. Raised in the heart of the South in a town the name of which sounds like it came out of a novel - Turkey Scratch, Arkansas - Helm understood the struggles and emotions of the South. He went on to make his own style of powerful, transformative music that blended R&B, country, rock'n'roll and soul.  

If you are too young to know Levon Helm, please read some of the many articles that were published following his death Thursday. His work with the Hawks, The Band, Bob Dylan, and as a solo artist is some of the best Americana music ever made. 

Helm is properly revered a tremendously gifted, passionate and original drummer and vocalist.

But enough from me, let's honor one of the most soulful musical artists of all time by listening to the "funky secular testifying" in this amazing song:

Here's Levon singing a shared vocal on what is arguably the greatest Motown cover song: 

Levon Helm made music from the heart and he will be missed.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Dream-Pop/Folk Discovery - Carrousel: 27 Rue De Mi'chelle, out May 1

Fronted by Joel Piedt, and featuring Rob Polischuck, Malee Bringardner, Patrick Chin, Erich von Hinken, and Landon Lee, Florida-based dream-pop/folk outfit Carrousel have spent 2-1/2 years working on their debut, 27 Rue De Mi'chelle, and for all that, it does not have an "overworked" feel. To the contrary, it flows nicely and reveals itself nicely upon repeated listening.

Piedt says they were inspired by Brian Wilson and, while a lot of pastiche-pop artists make that claim, I think the quality of this release bears out that statement. It's extremely well-made and pretty complex in terms of song structure, but like all good pop music, it's also extremely listenable. Simply put, there are some really beautiful songs on this record.

Check out a couple of the songs, available from the band for download. Here's "14", which starts acoustic and builds into nearly a dream-pop wall of sound behind Piedt's winsome vocals. And here's "Where Do We Go From Here?", for which the oft-used term "symphonic" is perfectly apt.

And here's a treat from the band, two alternate versions and the finished product of the video for the song "14". The video features a concept that has never been done before: one side of the screen backwards (as a performance) and one forward.

Reverse side:

Forward side:

Finished video:

I'm impressed with the scope of the undertaking, but even more with the quality of the music.

Get to Know: Indian Wars

Indian Wars is a Vancouver, BC psychedelic/"country crunk" outfit consisting of Brad Felotick, John McMartin, Dave McMartin, Fraser With, and Craig Pettman. They released Walk Around the Park LP in 2011. Test drive it with "Tuscaloosa Bar" --

The album was released on the Bachelor, Psychic Lunch/CMRTYZ labels. You can stream the entire album below, and purchase it through Bandcamp or via the links to the label.


"Through the Woods"

I think the music is good. I also suspect that these guys put on an entertaining live show.

Walk Around the Park

Bachelor Records page for album

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Slacker/Country/Indie-Rock Discovery: Futurebirds - Seney-Stovall

My first exposure to this Athens band, which is playing a nice mixture of country-rock with a lo-fi indie lean. Here's a promo video about their upcoming live album, Seney-Stovall (named after the historic church in which they played the show) that's featured on Oxford American. If you click through to the OA article, there's an opportunity to download the song "Megachills". And this is a good time to mention that the Oxford American puts together some of the best music issues I've ever seen from any magazine.

You can also stream their 2010 album Hampton's Lullaby here:

Here's a video from a previous EP, Megachills:

Country-rock kind of like Neil Young and Crazy Horse was country-rock. Meandering, loping, going easy into the sunset with pedal steel and piano, and then just blistering away with electric guitars. Highly recommended, and I look forward to hearing more from them.

Seney-Stovall is going to be in limited vinyl release for Record Store Day.

New Pop/Rock Discovery: Loquat - We Could Be Arsonists, out April 24

Loquat is a San Francisco-based band playing sweet, shimmering, sometimes jangly pop/rock music...

Here's the video for lead track "Timebending", a super-catchy song that gives you a good sense for what this band is about:

The songs are well-written and arranged, and her vocals are flawless.

Listen to the title track at Under The Radar.

Here's lead singer Kylee Swenson onstage proving backup vocals for Jesus & Mary Chain at SXSW 2012:

They don't sound much like Jesus & Mary Chain, but it's obvious the Reid brothers know good vocals when they hear them. Available now at iTunes, physical copies available April 24. You can preorder at their website:

Loquat Website

New video from the Allah-Las

We haven't posted about the Allah-Las since, well, Tuesday, which I think is admirable restraint. However, we can't ignore their new video for the title track of the their EP, "Tell Me".

REVIEW: Allo Darlin' - Europe

If the world of pop music were fair, Europe, the new sophomore LP from London-based foursome Allo Darlin' will make them famous. Of course, the world of pop music isn't characterized by fairness, so we'll just do our best to tell you why this album should soar. Allo Darlin' produces the intelligent brand of indie pop which is the trademark of bands such as The Lucksmiths, the Go-Betweens, Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura. Moreover, frontwoman and songwriter Elizabeth Morris possesses a rare, crystalline voice reminiscent of Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays and Wendy Morgan of the Popguns. I can think of no better introduction to the music than to introduce you to the sweet, jangly deliciousness of "Capricornia", which I consider one of the best pop songs of the year so far.

Europe delivers a collection of upbeat melodies, wistful and literate songs and excellent musicianship and vocals. This is at the top of the twee side of indie pop. So if -- like me -- you relish that sound, this album should be on your list.

Allo Darlin originally was the solo project of native Australian Elizabeth Morris, who moved to London in 2005. Additional members were added in 2009 and 2010, bringing the project to its current lineup of Morris (songwriting, vocals, uke and guitar), Paul Rains (guitars, lapsteel, vocals), Bill Botting (bass and vocals), and Mikey Collins (drums and vocals). The band's debut album was deservedly well received, but everything about this album -- including the songwriting and performances -- is a step up.

"Tallulah" is a track on which Morris goes back to her roots--just a girl and her uke:

Allo Darlin' - Tallulah from Will Botting on Vimeo.

Europe was released this week by Slumberland Records in the US and Fortuna Pop in UK/Europe.

Twitter ( @allodarlinuk )

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Video from First Aid Kit - Conan appearance

First Aid Kit (who we recently reviewed here) appeared on Conan recently, performing "Emmylou":

No studio tricks, no overdubs, just great vocal harmonies and a real feel for the song. Not hard to see what all the fuss is about.

They are on tour - Coachella this weekend (no, no HoloGram Parsons, sorry) and then back to Europe to finish up, including several dates opening for Jack White.

New Blues/Swamp Rock Discovery: Brother Dege

Brother Dege is Legg Dege, a Louisana native who I might compliment by calling him the resonator/slide guitar playing version of Warren Haynes, has an album coming out later this year. For now, he's made available a free download of the song "Wehyah" which will be on that album. Click here to download "Wehyah".

Here's some more of his music - you might already be familiar (Mike Rowe's a fan):

And here's a video for "Black Is The Night":

REVIEW: Allah-Las - Tell Me (What's On Your Mind) EP

Avid readers of my 2011 year end list may recall (assuming both of you remain in alive and in sound mind) that I didn't include any singles or EPs. I'm announcing that my 2012 list likely will include at least one EP. Sure, it only comprises four tracks, but I figure that if the EP is played three times in a row the listener gets 12 tracks (I'm relying on the accounting department for the math here--I was a history major), and I've never been able to play the Tell Me (What's On Your Mind) EP by Allah-Las fewer than three times in a row. Try a live version of the title track --

This music isn't fuzzed out indie hipster reinvention of '60s psychedelic and British Invasion; this sounds like the best distillation of the real thing. Trust me, I know the era well, and Tell Me (What's On Your Mind) fits like my old 501s.* The EP consists of three tracks with vocals, and a surfy instrumental titled "Sacred Sands".

"The Long Journey" --

Allah-Las are Miles, Pendrum, Spencer and Matt. The EP is released today by Pres Records. I checked and it is available on Amazon.


*Editor's Note: The fit of Rocksteady74's '60s 501s is used for artistic purposes and should not be confused with a factual statement regarding whether Rocksteady74's 501s still fit, and certainly shouldn't be taken as an assertion that there is anything artistic about Rocksteady74's appearance in said garment.

Pres Records

Monday, April 16, 2012

REVIEW: The Just Joans - Buckfast Bottles in the Rain

The delightfully named Buckfast Bottles in the Rain by The Just Joans is a concept album. Thematically, the album is about a teenage boy living in a small town and dreaming of a more exciting life, and follows him through his college years to the point where he realizes some of the charms of his earlier life. Musically, the album is a pop album that straddles folk, indie pop and even music hall, all delivered with a thick Scottish accent. Here is one of my favorite tracks, "Five Beer Bottles":

The band is from Motherwell, UK (Scotland) and is named after a column in a Scottish newspaper. There currently are five members -- David, Katie, Chris, Allan, Doog, and Fraser -- although many of the songs were crafted more than five years ago when the band was just David and Chris.

Here is the charming "What Do We Do Now?" --

The 11 tracks on Buckfast Bottles in the Rain tell classic coming of age stories with the author's own idiosyncratic twist laid out on a beautiful musical tapestry. This is a very nice album to spend some time with, perhaps with up to five bottles of beer. It is released today by weePOP! Records.

For our US readers, Buckfast is a sweet, fortified wine with a high alcohol and caffeine content. Its reputation in Scotland is similar to that of Thunderbird or MD 20/20 in the states, and is thought by many to be the choice of drink for underage drinkers and those prone to anti-social behavior.

weePOP! records

Crocodiles - new video for "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)"

Here's a video Crocodiles have released to accompany the track "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) from their upcoming album Endless Flowers:

This is a terrific song - among all the elements you have to have to play noise pop like this well, the Crocodiles have them all: a propulsive drummer, hypnotic harmony vocals and noisy, jangly guitars. Really looking forward to this record, due for a June 5 release on Frenchkiss Records. Previously, we posted about the upcoming album, a teaser video the band has released and a free download of this song. Here's a link to the post.

Father Sculptor - Ember / Blue (single)

I recently shared some tracks from Glasgow's Father Sculptor, and they deservedly proved quite popular with the readers of these pages. For those of us with good taste, today is a happy day because the group has officially self-released the Ember / Blue single.

I think this is one of the more promising debut singles of the year. It is comprised of two tracks. "Ember", is an achingly beautiful song that begins as a chamber pop piece and ends as a soaring anthem. "Blue" is a taut, jangly song built on an insistent rhythm and commanding baritone vocals, and I expect that New Order would be proud to have it on their resume. And the generous Father Sculptor has made the single available for free download at their Bandcamp page, so it seems to me that there isn't much of a decision for you to make.

I'll also note that the cover art for this release, and the other recordings on the group's Bandcamp page, is really good as well.

For me, the main unresolved question is the identity of the players. I spend a lot of time listening to music from bands that are just finding their way and, despite not internet or live presence until recently, this band is well past the newborn stage. Yet their website shares no personal details apart for what you can glean from the photographs--a fondness for a bit of beverage and a spot of cross-dressing (their may be a link to the beverage consumption). I asked my friend Johnny, for whom I sometimes play my new music when he popped in last weekend if he could link Father Sculptor with any of the Scottish groups I'd covered in the past. But all Johnny wanted to do was talk about his year in Portugal. So, no solution from Johnny, and he drank my beer.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Irish Math Rock Discovery: Cast of Cheers - "Animal"

The Cast of Cheers is an Irish math-rock band playing a frenetic, skittering brand of music. They've got an album, Family, coming out in June, having already released a few songs. Here's a lead track, "Animals":

And here's an earlier song, "Family" - released back in January as a 7" single:

Tu Fawning - new song out now, album A Monument out May 15

Tu Fawning is a Portland-based group - Corrina Repp, Liza Rietz, Toussaint Perrault, Joe Haegee - playing beautiful, majestic, icy rock music in the vein of Sigur Ros, but with Repp's clear strong vocals front and center. They've got an album, A Monument, due out in May.

Here's a video for the song "Anchor":

You can download a copy of "Anchor" at this link, courtesy of their label City Slang Records. What I've heard so far sounds good - I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of this record.