Friday, May 11, 2012

REVIEW: PS I Love You - Death Dreams

If you can get past the band name - which Hardy had some interesting thoughts on recently - you will discover some terrific rock music. I think the name has a pretty simple origin: somebody (perhaps a talent scout) heard Paul Saulnier play the guitar and yelled out "PS I love you on lead guitar!" Since that's too long for a band name, they shortened it.

Because the dude can play guitar. Last year, I posted a video of "Facelove", a song I heard on a podcast, and immediately went and found their previous album Meet Me At The Muster Station. I've been enjoying it - a really dense, immediate album full of good indie rock elements - and looking forward to their followup ever since.

Death Dreams ups the ante somewhat, and finds me searching for comparison points - do the guitars remind me of The Smiths? Yes, in places, but The Cure in others... and Television sometimes - but heavier than any of those in most places. "Sentimental Dishes" (video below) features a blistering lead, and is a good example of the kinds of sounds Saulnier is getting out of his guitar.

The vocals definitely remind me of the Tom Verlaine/Richard Hell (and going back a ways, Todd Rundgren) school of "haunted/nervous guy punk" vocals, and if you know what I'm talking about you know that vocals like that really require a strong lead guitar. And you know that punk-influenced bands do best when driven by a really strong drummer. PS I Love You features both - Saulnier on lead guitar and Benjamin Nelson on drums.

"Driving" is a decent descriptor. Some of the song titles, featuring place names ("Toronto", "Saskatoon", "Princess Towers") are indicative of an album perhaps written on the road. But more to the point, this is excellent driving music... the way Swervedriver, Dinosaur Jr. and Son Volt are great driving music.

Here is a free download of two songs:

Death Dreams is out this week. If you like guitar rock of any variety, but especially heavy guitar rock, don't hesitate.

The Soul Corner - Tyrone Davis "Can I Change My Mind"

"Aww, she didn't bat an eye, as I packed my bags to leave..."
Hindsight, being a little better in most cases, can cause us to look back with regret. Sometimes, that regret can hurt bad.
Tyrone Davis knows all about that in his 1968 breakthrough hit "Can I Change My Mind". Unfortunately, sometimes the answer to that rhetorical question is no. But Davis pleads his case here with eloquence and beauty and some monster pop hooks.

Tyrone Davis was born in Mississippi but moved to Chicago to start his music career. Prior to his string on hits, he once served as a personal chauffeur to bluesman Freddie King.
"Can I Change My Mind" reached #1 on the R&B charts immediately following Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and immediately before Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People". That is running with the big dogs right there.

Introducing: The Poppets

As long as I'm mining northern Europe lately, we'll head west from Finland to Gothenburgh, Sweden, to introduce you to the pop punk of The Poppets.  Comprised of Lina and Magnus, the group races through hook-infused sugar-coated garage pop.  Here is their two-track May 1 release, The Lost Highway --

I'll embed one more release, but I encourage you to click on the Bandcamp link below and explore the wealth of material the band has recorded.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Friends of WYMA - Circus Devils co-founder Todd Tobias - Medicine Show

Todd Tobias, integral part of later Guided by Voices, Robert Pollard's solo releases like Mouseman Cloud and founding member of Circus Devils (featuring terrific records like Capsized!), has released a solo album, Medicine Show. Self-described as a concept album about a "steampunk dystopia", it's got a variety of rock and experimental themes and tempos. In places it's fairly jarring -- almost reminiscent of some of Zappa's or Eno's more experimental work or "krautrock" like Neu or Can, but on songs like "The Long Fall" it's heavier than that, especially the guitar sounds. Tribal drumbeats and surf guitar predominate in places, and it's all pulled together pretty well... And there are some moments of beauty too - on album closer "Prayers To A Blind Sky", I'm reminded of some of Eno's and Bowie's instrumental works.

You know what else I'm going to do for you? I'm going to point you to a good review of the record. One of my best qualities is, I recognize my betters. Here is a review at Fluid Radio. In fact, if this type of music is your cup of tea, you may like to browse further in Fluid Radio's site.

Here's the video for "Manatoc Enters The City/The Long Fall":

And here is a free download of the song. If you like instrumental, experimental rock, I'd encourage you to check this out. You can learn more and order it at Todd Tobias's website.

Big Wave Riders

We've covered a few Finnish bands lately, and we covered a delightful British band named Big Wave, so it seems quite appropriate to introduce you to the Finnish band Big Wave Riders.  The Helsinki five piece of Teppo (vocals/guitar), Anssi (backing vocals/guitar/keyboards), Aleksi (bass), Petri (drums), and Lauri (keyboards/sax/guitar) are signed to the Soliti label.  They will be releasing an album this summer, but to sharpen our anticipation, they have given us this smashing new single.  If the rest of the album approaches the standard set in this track, I'll be very happy.

"Waiting In The Wings" is a soaring surfy shoegazy tune with a good dose of muscle.  And you can download it free.

Twitter ( @bigwaveriders )

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Guitar Rock Discoveries -- Vanity Theft with Enemies!, new albums and tour

Vanity Theft is a hard dance-rock band with an EP, The Right Amount of Distance, out this week. They're from Dayton, which puts them on the good side of When You Motor Away right off the bat. They are also three ladies who rock... big drum/bass, synths and a variety of electric guitar sounds, from straight-ahead riffing to some pretty well-played solos on songs like "Headstart".

They're on tour with Enemies! which is Aaron Lee Tasjan, a New York singer/songwriter playing a catchy brand of pop/punk rock - with some real big guitar riffs - seriously big, like Crazy Horse-big in spots. His album, also out this week, is Desolation Dream. My personal favorite song is "Born To Be You" which reminds me somewhat of Oasis or one of my favorite guitar rockers, Kevin Salem - and that's a compliment I don't throw around lightly.

Check out a few tracks at this soundcloud "Tour Player" set up by Tijuana Gift Shop to feature both bands:

Both bands have albums out this week, and their tour continues through early June. This strikes me as the kind of stuff that comes across very well live.

Vanity Theft / Enemies! Tour Dates
May 10 – Dallas, TX – The Prophet Bar
May 11 – Austin, TX – Darwin's Pub
May 12 – San Antonio, TX – The Korova
May 13 – Houston, TX – Fitzgerald's
May 15 – Albuquerque, NM – Burt's Tiki Lounge
May 16 – Tucson, AZ – Plush
May 17 – Las Vegas, NV –The Bunkhouse Saloon
May 18 – San Diego, CA – The Griffin
May 21 – Santa Barbara, CA – Muddy Waters
May 22 – San Francisco, CA – Hotel Utah
May 24 – Portland, OR – Backspace
May 25 – Spokane, WA – Redroom Lounge
May 26 – Seattle, WA – The Mix
May 28 – Boise, ID – The Shredder
May 29 – Salt Lake City, UT – Burt's Tiki Lounge
May 30 – Denver, CO – The Lion’s Lair
June 1 – Lincoln, NE – Knickerbockers
June 3 – Minneapolis, MN – 400 Bar
June 4 – Chicago, IL – Township
June 5 – Indianapolis, IN – Birdy's
June 6 – Columbus, OH – Kobo
June 7 – Cleveland, OH – Peabody's
June 8 – Dayton, OH – Blind Bob's

Introducing: The Torn ACLs

I realize that the name may make some of you wince, but The Torn ACLs are the name of the band, so you'll have to accept it.  And you'll have to accept it because the Seattle band makes really good, fun indie pop, with a touch of twee.  The Torn ACLs released EPs in 2009 and 2010, and the LP Make A Break, Make A Move was released in January of this year on Creeper Speak Records.  You can stream the entire album below, and if you like it, you can get all 12 tracks for $8.

The members of the band are William Cremin, Miles Ranisavljevic, Jason Tabert, and Tim McClanahan.  Their fame is growing around Seattle, but we would be selfish to not let the rest of you in on the band.

Twitter ( @TheTornACLs )

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

REVIEW: Torche -- Harmonicraft

How loud will your stereo go?  I learned today that mine's not nearly loud enough, and it's pretty much bothering the hell out of me. Here's the song that was on when I found this out:

This is the second track off of Harmonicraft, the new album by Miami's Torche, which was released last week on Volcom Entertainment, and it's my early favorite for song of the year.  It's great at normal levels, but it insists on being played at a volume that will give headaches to people the next zip code over. I'm thinking along these lines:

Torche defy any sort of easy genrefication. Metal? Yeah, no question there, but do you remember how folks used to call Blue Oyster Cult metal when they didn't sound a thing like Black Sabbath or Judas Priest?  And they even had that whole satanic thing going. Is Torche satanic? Well, not unless rainbows are satanic. The band apparently has called their music Doom Pop, and that's certainly helpful. But if we were to revert to a good old-fashioned hybridization, a cheap device we never do here at WYMA, I'd think Melvins crossed with Ted Leo would pretty much hit the nail on the head. There's a whole ton of melodic pop goodness here.

This album is something special indeed. Tracks of bar chords on top of other tracks of bar chords make me extremely happy, but there's a good deal more happening with the two-guitar attack of frontman Steve Brooks and new band member Andrew Elstner. It seems like there's more lead, but fewer solos than in the past, if that makes sense. Here's a great example of what I'm trying to get at:


As good as the guitars are, after a couple of listens I began to sense the propulsive energy of Rick Smith's drums and Jonathan Nunez on bass. It's easy to witness when you see the band live, but thanks to skilled production (and engineering by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou -- recently mentioned in these pages) these guys are heard at the forefront of several songs, most notable to me being "Skin Moth", for which I couldn't find a good link.  They're not exactly in the background of this scorcher either:

And for you folks who frequent this place because John named it for a Guided by Voices song, well, Torche earned their WYMA bona fides last year by way of their split 12" with South London noise collective Part Chimp. The three songs contributed by Torche all were covers of old-school GbV deep tracks, including "Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy."

While selling me a t-shirt at their last show in Raleigh on their tour with Corrosion of Conformity and Valient Thorr, Rick said he thought these three songs are now available for legal download. I'll be damned if I can find them, but I'll update with information if I'm able to figure out in which corner of the internets they are hidden. I'll see them again at Local 506 in Chapel Hill this Thursday, 5/10, so maybe check back Friday afternoon.

In the meantime, do yourself and your loved ones a huge favor and buy yourself a fat ass stereo, and then blow out its speakers with this fantastic new album.

Torche site

Torche on Facebook

Volcom Entertainment

TV Girl - The Wild, The Innocent, The TV Girl Shuffle

Pssssst! Psssst! Yeah, it's me--the guy standing over here in the trench coat.  Can I interest you in a mixtape of lo-fi, retro, fun-filled electro pop?  It is among the finest ear candy available, brought to us by San Diego's TV Girl.  Oh, and it is offered at your favorite price: FREE.  To download it, follow this link to the Sterogum site, and follow the directions.  Or you can download it free from the Bandcamp site linked below.  And speaking of Bandcamp, here is a stream:

TV Girl are Trung Ngo and Brad Petering.  You can get a free download of their earlier EPs (and you really should have them) here.  In case you are wondering why you should download their earlier EPs, I'll remind you that this is one of the tracks --

Twitter ( @tvgirlz )

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires - There Is A Bomb In Gilead - new live video, free download of live show.

If you've been lucky enough to score a copy of this record along the tour featuring Bains and The Alabama Shakes, you know what the rest of the world is about to discover - Alabama rocks. Absolutely, completely rocks. There Is A Bomb In Gilead is due out May 15.

Here's the band performing "Everything You Took", a sweet slice of rock and soul that showcases Bains' voice and the band's guitar attack.

Here is a free download of a full live performance - click here.

And here's my previous post describing just how terrific I think this record is. Rather than repeat myself, I'll just give you a nod and a link (to the previous post).

REVIEW: The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Aufheben

Aufheben is a German word meaning both "destroy" and "preserve". Anton Newcombe has said he loves the idea of artistic creation that involves destroying something to preserve it, like a sculptor might take a clay creation apart to invent something new.

Now sober for the past 2 years, Newcombe is utilizing aufheben to reinvent the Brian Jonestown Massacre. It's been nearly a decade since the documentary film DIG! captured BJM in all their decadent dysfunction, a truly gifted rock band out of control. But that image persisted, reinforced by many years of touring where people came out seemingly to watch Newcombe melt down, taunting and egging him on, and not infrequently getting their wish. At times brilliant, at times sad spectacle, and often in the same night, what got overlooked about the Brian Jonestown Massacre was the music. This was unfortunate because more often than not over 13 full length releases and now 20 years, this band has been remarkably good.

But give this band credit - they've kept what was great, cleaned up the mess, and moved forward both personally and artistically.  They have managed to sober up and not only still get down but do their thing even better.

Aufheben is a bold step for the band, a highly cinematic work, with many international influences, no doubt inspired by the band's frequent touring around the world, and Newcombe now residing in Germany. Newcombe says he was going for something that sounded like a movie soundtrack.

Aufheben has transcendental elements, some instrumental songs, and it sounds particularly good played loud on a long highway drive. And those who love Newcombe's frequent play on words on new song titles with well known musical touchpoints will not be disappointed here with "Blue Order/New Monday" and "I Wanna Hold Your Other Hand".

You can listen to the entire CD here:

Here's a terrific track "Stairway to the Best Party in the Universe":

One more, "The Clouds are Lies":

This CD also marks the return of guitarist and songwriter Matt Hollywood to the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The band did much of its best work with Hollywood. His more straight ahead garage/pop rock was always a perfect compliment to Newcombe's more echoey and out there psychedelia.  The band also recruited Will Caruthers (Spacemen 3).

I was inspired to review this record seeing them live in Portland last Friday. The show was spectacular - focused, professional, well paced, and all out rockin', the newer material highly effectively introduced around all the old hits. And 5 guitar players! Newcombe has gone through a very high number of personnel through the years, but has assembled a highly skilled and complimentary collective now.

I highly recommend catching this tour:
May Tue 8th - Denver CO- Bluebird Theater
May Wed 9th - Salt Lake City UT- Urban Lounge
May Fri 11th - San Francisco CA- The Fillmore
May Sat 12th - Los Angeles CA- The Wiltern
Thursday 17th May Metro Theatre, Sydney
Friday- 18th May ANU Refectory, Canberra
Saturday-19th May Forum Theatre, Melbourne - SOLD OUT
Sunday-20th May- The Gov, Adelaide
Tuesday-22nd May Astor Theatre, Perth
Thursday-24th May Hi-Fi, Brisbane
Friday- 25th May Level One-Newcastle Leagues Club, Newcastle
11 June 12 Berlin - Lido
12 June 12 Groningen - Vera
13 June 12 Rennes - L'Etage
14 June 12 Toulouse - Le Bikini
16 June 12 Spain - Azkena Rock Festival
17 June 12 Montpellier - Le Rockstore
18 June 12 Zurich - Abart
19 June 12 Bologna - Bolognetti on the rocks
20 June 12 Dudingen - Bad Bonn
22 June 12 Aarhus - Vox Hall
23 June 12 Copenhagen - Amager Bio
24 June 12 Oslo - Rockerfeller
25 June 12 Helsinki - Tavastia
26 June 12 Stockholm - Strand
27 June12 Malmo - Debaser
28 June 12 Amsterdam Bitterzoet
29 June 12 Nijmegen - Doornroosje
30 June 12 France - Le Rock Dans Tous Ses Etats
01 July 12 France - Eurockennes
03 July 12 Clermont - Ferrand, La Coopérative de Mai
04 July 12 Paris - Le Trianon
06 July 12 Scotland - T in the Park
07 July 12 London - Shepherds Bush Empire
08 July 12 Manchester - Ritz Ballroom
09 July 12 Birmingham - Academy 2
11 July 12 Tel Aviv - Barby
Thu Aug 16th Minneapolis MN @ First Avenue
Fri Aug 17th Milwaukee MS @ Turner Hall
Sat Aug 18th
Mon Aug 20th Atlanta GA @ Variety Playhouse
Tue Aug 21st Carrboro NC @ Cats Cradle
Wed Aug 22nd Washington DC @ 9.30Club
Thu Aug 23rd Philadelphia PA @ Union Transfer
Fri Aug 24th Boston MA @ Royale
Sat Aug 25th NY NY @ Webster Hall

REVIEW: French Wives - Dream of the Inbetween

Those of us that follow Scottish indie music have been hoping for a full length album from Glasgow's French Wives since they began capturing our hearts, and ears, in 2008.  Finally, via the Electric Honey label, we have Dream of the Inbetween.  And the album is just what we had hoped for.

French Wives make glorious indie pop.  The melodies please the ear and the instruments and vocals build into soaring anthems.  The songs are varied, packed with hooks, and convey an infectious sense of energy.  All five members contribute to the vocals.  And in addition to the typical drums, bass and two guitars, the band features a violin.  While their music always has been pop music, some of their earlier work contained folk elements.  But Dream of the Inbetween  is a pure indie pop album from the opening note.

Numbers, the second track on the album, is an example of the fine sounds produced by this band --

French Wives are Siobhan Anderson (violin, vocals), Chris Barclay (bass, vocals), Stuart Dougan (vocals, guitar), Scott WD Macpherson (guitar, vocals), Johnathyn Smith (drums, vocals). They all met while in college, and have only recently finished their studies.  Previously, they released a few singles and an EP.  The band was in North America this spring for SXSW and Canadian music week.

"Younger" is track nine.  It was intended to be a big track, and it succeeds --

Dream of the Inbetween was produced by Tony Doogan (who regular readers will recall also produced Hey Rosetta!'s album that drew our praise last week). It should be available at all the usual online places, including the band's Bandcamp site.  By the way, Electric Honey is the in-house label of Stow College, and released the first work from Belle& Sebastian.

"Sleep Tight" --

Twitter ( @frenchwives )

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Johnny Headband - 8-bit Nintendo remix of "And Then Again" from Who Cooks For You?

Somewhat playful, somewhat sizzling, Detroit new wave rockers Johnny Headband have released an interesting remix of "And Then Again", one of the best songs on their recently-released Who Cooks For You? (WYMA Review here).

And you can have the whole album - all they ask is that you enjoy it, and tell your friends if you do.

Second H. Sam - S/T EP out now

Second H. Sam is Italian lo-fi blues/psych rocker Samuele Gottardello, who has been lead singer in some pretty awesomely-named bands: the Hormonas from Venezia, the Buzz Aldrin from Bologna, and the John Woo, a punk wave band from the 2000s. To further entice you to give a listen, consider that he lists influences from Johnny Cash to Daniel Johnston to Syd Barrett to Fabrizio de Andrè.

It's a cinematic and expansive approach - definitely hear hints of spaghetti Western soundtracks in there -  and, at the same time, pretty sparse and lo-fi. Listen for yourself - here's a teaser for the EP, featuring hedgehogs, sneakers and Sam's bearded countenance:

You can listen to samples and order the EP at the website:

New Track from The Mokkers - "Wild Man"

I expect that like me, most of you got out of bed this morning and said to yourself "I hope Scott posts some new garage rock by a all-female German band".  But unlike the rest of you, I then said to myself -- "wait, I'm Scott".  So I got to work.

Here is a fresh track from The Mokkers.  And I mean fresh; it was made available four hours ago.