Saturday, May 5, 2012

Crocodiles - new song available - "Endless Flowers" (title cut from album due out June 8)

We're pretty excited about Endless Flowers, the upcoming release on Frenchkiss Records by psychedelic guitar rockers Crocodiles.

And even more so since we have the opportunity to share with you this free download of the title cut in advance of the album.

Previously we shared a video sneak peek of the album, then a video for the song "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9")... today it's a free song:

They're going to be on tour for the next month and a half, both Europe and US. Check Crocodiles website for dates and more information, including a way to preorder the record.

Stream of Holy Esque EP

When we wrote about the debut EP from Glasgow band Holy Esque recently (link), we only had one song to share with you.  The generous lads have now made the entire EP available to stream on Soundcloud.  In my view, it is one of the better EPs of the year so far, so enjoy!


"Green Sea" - new single from Fear of Men

Fear of Men has featured on these pages several times in the past 16 months.  They are, quite simply, one of my favorite lo-fi pop groups.  The group is Jess, Dan, Alex and Mike, two men and two women, split between Brighton and London.  They are releasing their second 7",  "Green Sea", June 18 on the Sexbeat label (pre-order link here).  I understand that they will be touring with Best Coast soon, as well.

The single a great showcase for Fear of Men.  Yearning, aching vocals, well-crafted instrumentation, urgent delivery and spot-on harmonies.  The band is developing rapidly, and while we enjoy this song, we really look forward to more in the future.

Soundcloud link for "Green Sea"
Twitter ( @fearofmen )

Friday, May 4, 2012

REVIEW: Strange Hands - Dead Flowers

Strange Hands is a garage rock band from Bordeaux, France, playing an engaging brand of lo-fi noise pop.  Struggling to come up with something to compare it to (my musical vocabulary being somewhat limited), I summoned "The Ramones and R.E.M. meet ? and the Mysterians at Roky Erikson's place". It is the most ridiculously catchy, dirty, snotty bit of psychedelic garage rock I've heard in years. It might end up being my favorite album of 2012.

So, are you intrigued? Here's a video for "Love Illusion":

All right, did you see that? Do you seriously need to read any more from me? Just go buy it. It'll be available next week at the website of their label, the charmingly-named Shit Music For Shit People (SMFSP for short -based in Italy and Portugal). It is a joint release with SMFSP and French label Azbin Records. You can listen to a few of the songs, and even download "Love Illusion", at their Bandcamp:

Seriously, I could go on about Ramones comparisons, Seeds influences, hazy "Nuggets" memories, early Elvis Costello (though their sound more resembles the punk of "Mystery Dance" it occurs to me that the band name could have come from a phrase in "Every Day I Write The Book"), but I'd rather just listen to some more Strange Hands.

Here's "Revenge of the Beggars" from their 2010 EP Dead Frozen Deer:

Here's a bonus: if you are into psychedelic art, Lucas Donaud, who is in Strange Hands and designed the album covers, has a website.

Introducing: Kissing Tigers

Do you like crunchy, jangly California indie rock with lots of hooks and soaring melodies? I expect that if you are reading these pages the answer is "yes".  So please be introduced to Los Angeles' Kissing Tigers.  They have put their talents on internet display today with the release of an eight song album titled Belmont Woods.  You can listen to the entire album, and purchase it, at the Bandcamp link below.  To give to a taste, we've included a couple of tracks below.

The members of Kissing Tigers are James, Eugene, Daniel, Mark, and Joel. With song titles such as "Fucking in the Woods" and "Her Socks Don't Fit", you can expect that a sense of humor rides along with the musical ability.


The Soul Corner - "The Love I Saw in You Was Just A Mirage"

A year plus into the Soul Corner and nothing from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles? Well we must fix that pronto.
When praised for the umpteenth time in the 1960's as America's best poet, Bob Dylan replied that he wasn't close to the best poet even working in pop music, pointing to Smokey Robinson.

And one need look no further than "The Love I Saw in You Was Just a Mirage" (1967) to see why Bob might say that. This song is amazing- great vocal, terrific musical performances by the Funk Brothers and a composition of the highest quality. Seldom has betrayal sounded so gorgeous.  Enjoy:

REVIEW: The District Attorneys - Slowburner

We admit that three of the contributors to When You Motor Away are burdened with law degrees, and two of us are still practicing (one has escaped).  Nevertheless, we assure you that our decision to review the recent full-length album from The District Attorneys is not due to professional courtesy.  The fact is, Slowburner is a damn fine album, and--as a debut--a remarkably mature and consistent album.  OK, you say, what does it sound like?  To my ears, the instrumentation reflects a measure of west coast jangly indie rock and an equal measure of crunchy southern guitar.  Similarly, the vocals include lots of sunny harmony, but a good dose of soul as well.  And there are plenty of hooks and a layer of grit.  It all works together because the songcraft and delivery are so good.

The District Attorneys are Drew Beskin, Chris Wilson, Frank Keith IV, T.J. Mimbs, and Walker Beard, five guys from Atlanta and Athens, Georgia, who formed the band in 2009.  They claim a wide variety of influences, including The Replacements, Beach Boys, Modest Mouse, Rilo Kiley and Fleetwood Mac.  I think it is a tribute to their talent that I only hear some elements of those influences; these guys are carving their own path.

I suppose after allowing me to babble about the band, I should reward you with a song.  So here is the first single from Slowburner,  "Confusion of Trust" --

And here is a live version of the excellent "California Fire" --

Slowburner was released on April 24 by the This Is American Music collective.  And I can't think of a more appropriately named label for the sound of this band.  Our Portland contributor, Jim Desmond, spent several days in Atlanta recently.  Being a diligent music journalist (and probably looking to submit an expense report to WYMA headquarters), he asked folks who the best young band down there is.  He reports that 75 percent replied The District Attorneys.  These people know something, and now we know it, too.

Bandcamp (earlier, free, EPs)
This Is American Music (label)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Spanish Blues-Rock/Boogie Discovery: Betunizer - Boogalizer

On Boogalizer by Spanish band Betunizer, the title is something of a declaration of purpose. They certainly do boogie. I'm reminded of The Minutemen and the Pixies, or going a little further back, maybe Captain Beefheart. Then again, there's that swing, the boogie - in the opening cut, "Cedric Ceballos" the drummer is definitely leading the way while the guitar slashes and the singer rages... and cowbell! On song two, "Silver Agers", it starts out very much like vintage Minutemen, especially as to the guitar intro.

Here's song three, "Imagina que matas a jota":

Here's a video of them backing Daniel Johnston on "Speeding Motorcycle":

And here's another live video of them performing "Rave en el chateau":

Betunizer is really good at keeping the beat. Perhaps that is the literal translation of "Boogalizer", a word I am unable to locate in any dictionary.

Check it out at BCore Disc.

Introducing: The Machine Room

Edinburgh's The Machine Room plays shoegazey, dream poppy, electro-pop, and they do it well.  They released their Love From A Distance EP earlier this year.  It only is four songs, but I think it promises a good future for this band.  The music has varied and interesting textures, compelling rhythms and plenty of hooks.  My favorite track is the dream pop song, "Your Head on the Floor Next Door" --

The members of the band are Adie, Cecilia, John, Ryan, Scott and Tom.  Apparently they were formed at Edinburgh's musically fertile College of Art.

The video for the third track, "Camino de Soda" --

You can stream all four tracks here:

Twitter ( @the_machineroom )

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Update: Joe Henry and Lisa Hannigan tour US together in June

Joe Henry (WYMA review here) rarely tours at all and Lisa Hannigan (WYMA post here) doesn't make it to the US all that much, but them touring together is beyond our dreams.

Expect duets and collaborations and magic. If WYMA had big money behind it, we'd be sponsoring this tour. Fancy tour buses, 1990 vintage Barolos, 18 year old Jameson's and 25 page riders for everyone!

11 US cities are very lucky:

June 8 - Chicago / Park West
June 10 - Toronto / Phoenix Concert Theatre
June 11 - Montreal / Coronta Theatre
June 13 - Boston / Paradise Rock Club
June 14 & 15 - New York / Highline Ballroom
June 16 - Philadelphia / TLA
June 17 - Washington DC / Sixth and I
June 19 - Los Angeles / The El Rey
June 21 - San Francisco / Great American Music Hall
June 23 - Portland / Wonder Ballroom
June 24 - Seattle / Tractor Tavern

Tickets are on sale for most of these shows now at Mr. Henry's web page:

Introducing: Big Wave

Big Wave is five guys and girls from Torquay, Devon, in the UK.  They play excellent jangly dream pop.  The Another Year or Two EP was recently released, and in June on Scottish label Soft Power (which is displaying excellent taste this year) will be putting out the group's 5-track release The Roots of Love (Come Tumbling Down).  The title track of the current EP is showcased in the nice self-made video below.  You can stream the entire EP, and download the title track free, at the Bandcamp link.

"Another Year or Two" --

Here is a stream of all three songs on the EP--

Twitter ( @wearebigwave )

New Guitar Rock Discovery: Soft Science - Highs and Lows

Sacramento band Soft Science has an absolutely irresistible sound - crashing Spectorish drums, ringing guitars and high female vocals - think of, perhaps, Juliana Hatfield fronting Teenage Fanclub or Swervedriver...

Members are Katie Haley - Vocals, Ross Levine - Drums, Mason Demusey - Bass and Matt Levine - Guitar. While it's a new discovery for me, this record came out almost a year ago.

Here's a video for "When Will You Come Home" - man, I love the feedback:

Here's "Closer To Me", which stretches out a little more, with some almost-country sounding riffs and great harmony vocals:

The contrast between the noise-filled instrumentation and the high, clear vocals creates the kind of tension that makes good noise pop - highly recommended.

This record is from Test Pattern Records, which features a few pretty good jangle bands (including Desario, who we featured recently). You can listen at Test Pattern's website.

Introducing - Wet Illustrated

Naming the Soft Boys and Guided by Voices as influences is sometimes rumored to be certain bait to attract a WYMA contributor.  Let me put the rumor aspect to bed--it is, in fact, a way to get our attention.  But to get on the page, we have to think the band does it well.  And the Bay Area's Wet Illustrated does it very well.  Tim Hellman, Chrys Nodal, Robbie Simon and Will Ivy play an organic, loose, psychedelic garage rock that really pleases my ears.

They have released recordings through Corvette City Records and True Panther Sounds.  Here is their 13-track October 2011 release, 1x1x1 --

There are some other recordings on the Bandcamp page.  In my opinion, they all are worth checking out.  This could be your new favorite garage band.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Mallard on tour (and new video)

As readers of this blog know, I think San Francisco's The Mallard is one of the most exciting young bands to debut an album this year. I loved their brand of rootsy, surfy garage rock and lauded Yes On Blood when it was released.  Greer McGettrick, Dylan Tidyman-Jones and Dylan Edrich are touring in late April, May, July and August.  Stops include the Pacific Northwest (yea!), the Midwest, and California.  The tour list is further down on in this post, so you can check to see if there will be a stop close to you.  Fortunately for me, they are stopping in Seattle twice.

The Mallard also has just released this Hannah Lew video for "Mansion", one of the tracks on their 2012 LP, Yes On Blood.  And here it is:

04/28/2012 Brick and Mortar San Francisco CA w/The Fresh and Onlys, Young Prisms
05/02/2012 Independent San Francisco w/Ty Segall, White Fence, Shannon and the Clams
05/16/2012 Brick and Mortar San Francisco w/Thee Oh Sees, Burnt Ones
05/18/2012 Northern Olympia WA w/The Wooden Men
05/19/2012 Portland, at the KNOW with Woolen Men and the Happening
05/20/2012 Comet Seattle WA w/Koko and The Sweetmeats
05/31/2012 Verdi Club w/Wet Illustrated, Swiftumz, Chris Thayer
06/16/2012 Brick and Mortar w/Burnt Ones, Cosmonauts
07/07/2012 Bottom of the Hill w/Blasted Canyons, The Maxines
07/08/2012 Doug Fir Lounge Portland OR w/The Wimps
07/09/2012 Funhouse Seattle WA w/The Wimps
07/10/2012 The Manor Caldwell ID
07/11/2012 Zoo City Missoula MT
07/13/2012 The Aquarium Fargo ND
07/14/2012 Turf Club St. Paul MN w/Blind Shake
07/15/2012 Panache Party Empty Bottle Chicago IL w/Blind Shake, Terrible Twos
07/17/2012 Frank’s Power Plant Milwaukee WI w/Blind Shake
07/18/2012 Gabe’s Oasis Iowa City IA w/Blind Shake
07/19/2012 Replay Lounge Lawrence, KS
07/20/2012 UMS Festival @Hi Dive Denver CO
07/21/2012 Burt’s Tiki Lounge Salt Lake City UT
08/08/2012 Tractor Tavern Seattle WA w/Shonen Knife
08/09/2012 Dante’s Portland OR w/Shonen Knife
08/10/2012 Bottom of the Hill San Francisco CA w/Shonen Knife
08/11/2012 Blank Club San Jose CA w/Shonen Knife
08/12/2012 Alex’s Bar Long Beach CA w/Shonen Knife
08/13/2012 Casbah San Diego CA w/Shonen Knife


REVIEW: Evans The Death - Evans the Death

With twelve high energy tracks full of hooks and melody, and lead vocals by a young indie pop diva in the person of Katherine Whitaker, London's Evans the Death is poised to make a strong bid for recognition with today's release of their self-titled debut.  The music is loud and poppy, and the album's 12 tracks reveal a band with an impressive command of the indie spectrum.  But there is no slavish mimicry of past heroes here, Evans the Death is merely showing their aptitude with the tools of the trade.  And because of their wide-ranging competence, they won't be lift in the wake as indie pop fashions change.  The songs also display a great lyrical dexterity.  A fine example of the quality this band delivers is the album's first single, "Telling Lies" --

Evans the Death takes its name from the undertaker in Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood (the play seems to be a popular source of inspiration as Lord Cut Glass is also named after a character in that work).  The band members are Dan Moss (guitar, vocals), Katherine Whitaker (vocals, keys), Olly Moss (guitar), Rob Mitson (drums), and Lan McCardle (bass) (original guitarist Matt Gill left the band following the album was recorded).

"Threads" --

Evans the Death gives the impression of a band that is brash, determined, and fully capable of taking the main stage.  The album is out this week on  Slumberland Records in the US and Fortuna POP! in the UK and Europe.

"I'm So Unclean" --

Twitter ( @evansthedeath )

Monday, April 30, 2012

September Girls - "Wanting More / Secret Lovers" single

September Girls are five young women from Dublin, who are bringing their own version of fuzzy, reverb-drenched, garagey girl group sounds to the masses.  Today they are releasing their single "Wanting More / Secret Lovers.  Both tracks are provided below for your consideration.  I think it is charming stuff--give it a try.

The members of the band are Sarah, Lauren, Jessie, Caoimhe, and Paula.  The single is released on Soft Power Records, based in Livingston (Scotland), UK.

Soft Power Records

REVIEW: High on Fire -- De Vermis Mysteriis

Hey, all you internet reviewerati, you don't need to bag on a band's last album in order to buttress your suggestion that their new one may be the album of the year in its genre, or album of the year in any genre.  So cut it out with High on Fire, dammit. Snakes for the Divine was one of the best records of 2010. Hell, it even made my top ten. And if you bothered to read my comment on it then, you know what you didn't see in there?  Any whining about production. And you know who else didn't whine about production back then? You and everyone else.

Snakes is a great album, and everyone agrees or should agree with that.  But it's not nearlly as great as the Oakland trio's new one, De Vermis Mysteriis, released earlier this month on eOne Music (f/k/a Koch Records). Here's the evidence, in the form of the title track:

Well, it's not whining about production on some other record to note that a good deal of what makes De Vermis Mysteriis so enjoyable can be traced to producer Kurt Ballou, who is becoming as respected for his knob twiddling as he is for being a member of metal-hardcore titans Converge. My theory of what happened in the studio is not complicated. Hof frontman Matt Pike is one of the great guitarists of his generation. Ballou, who is a terrific guitar player himself, decided to kick back and let Matt play. With this approach, that apocalyptic grandiosity we're accustomed to gives way, in great measure, to oldschool tube amp grooviness, all supported by the thunderous rhythm section of Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass). You hear it all over the record, but maybe the clearest example of the beauty of Ballou's approach here is in the opening and then the solos in "Madness of an Architect."

I bought this album the day it came out, and the feeling I had early on -- that this very well could be the finest album of Matt Pike's 20 year Sleep / High on Fire career -- has gained traction each time I've put it on. There's great new-sounding stuff, but like the best metal, the soul of the music never strays far from the core. You see this in a song like the opener, "Serums of Liao," which in structure and certain themes strongly recalls what is to me the greatest metal song of the past 10 years, "Brother in the Wind" from 2005's Blessed Black Wings.  Have a listen:

I don't have the cred to be suggesting this or that metal album for inclusion in the canon, but dang folks, if skull-splitting perfection is what you're looking for, I believe you've found it.

High on Fire

HoF on Facebook

REVIEW: Hey Rosetta! - Seeds

Hey Rosetta! packs a lot into an album.  Seeds has crunchy rockers, folky pieces, anthems and introspective musings. And most importantly, it has a lot of really good songs.  So good, that I'm more than a little surprised that Seeds hasn't received an avalanche of positive press.

So what is the sound of Hey Rosetta!?  Tim Baker's excellent vocals have a melancholy tone reminiscent of Beirut,  but the songs themselves soar joyfully on a full, almost ornate, indie pop tapestry.  In addition to drums, bass and acoustic and electric guitar, the band boasts a violin and cello.  While the band has drawn comparisons to fellow Canadians Arcade Fire, to my ears the better comparison is British band Fanfarlo, although I think Hey Rosetta! may have a wider sonic range.  Try album track "Yer Spring" --

Hey Rosetta! is from St. John's, Newfoundland.  The members are Tim Baker (vocals, guitar), Adam Hogan (guitar), Josh Ward (bass, vocals), Phil Maloney (drums, percussion), Romesh Thavanathan (cello), and Kinley Dowling (violin).  While their prior recordings are similar, Seeds reflects an expansion of the bands sound.  There is more variety in the structure of the songs, and a greater willingness to rock from the opening note.  I can't say whether the approach reflects greater confidence, but if it does, it is justified.

The reflective musings of "Bandages" --

Seeds is released today on Sonic Records.  It was produced by Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, The Delgados and many more).  It already has been nominated for a Juno prize in Canada.

New Sum (Nous Sommes)

Overall, this album is warm and uplifting.  It seems to me that if I feel good and energetic every time I listen to and album, I've got an album that will be on my year-end list.  This is such and album.

A live acoustic version of "Welcome" --

Twitter ( @heyrosetta )

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Unsigned Finnish Prog/Punk Discovery: Weepikes

From Finland, by way of Miami, comes Weepikes.Weepikes proclaim their style of music "Pronk" which I suppose, can be interpreted to mean the place where prog rock meets punk. The band consists of Pasi Peni - vocals, guitar, Jyrki Lehto - guitar, Tomi Nuotio - bass and Ari Reiska Lehtinen - drums. They've got an interesting history, and they tell it best themselves:

Weepikes came to being in Helsinki, in 1994. The band was active for three years and called it a day in December 1997 at the 10th anniversary party for the legendary Bad Vugum label.

In the fall of 2010, it was decided that the Weepikes story needed another chapter. Except for the drummer, the lineup was the same. In late 2010 a message hit the band's MySpace inbox out of the blue and from across the pond. It was sent by legendary engineer/producer/musician Kramer, the man behind the Shimmy Disc label, part of bands such as Bongwater, Shockabilly, Ween as well as The Butthole Surfers, and producer for Galaxie 500, Low, Half Japanese, White Zombie, Urge Overkill and 22-Pistepirkko... among others. Kramer was full of praise for the band's EPs, released in the 90s on Bad Vugum and Trash Can Records, and wanted to work with the band. New songs were recorded in Helsinki over the summer of 2011. Kramer mixed and mastered them in Florida at his own Noise Miami studios. The fruits of this cooperative labor are available for all to hear in 2012.

In conclusion, to have this arrive at a blog where Robert Pollard, leader of the Circus Devils, is quoted right on the masthead is serendipity. No other way to describe it. If any of the names in this post make you sit up and take notice, download and give this a listen and tell all your friends about Weepikes.