Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Dirty Blues Discovery: Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg - Painkillers

James Leg, who sings dirty blues in a voice that makes Tom Waits sound operatic, and Left Lane Cruiser, who play dirty blues as a duo, have combined forces to release Painkillers, an album of, you guessed it, dirty blues. It seems every generation rediscovers the glory of the blues, and this one is no different. Whereas the Stones worked with Howling Wolf and Clapton covered Robert Johnson and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, these cats are mixing their "original" blues with some later generation stuff.

It was recorded in Detroit, and with the involvement of Jim Diamond and Alive/Naturalsound Records, the pedigree is impeccable... but check out the song lineup.

Covers on this record include "Little Red Rooster", "Shake It" and "Come To Poppa":

But it also includes some pretty inspired choices: "Sway", "When The Levee Breaks", and "If 6 Was 9". These are not as you have heard them before... to say the least, and in their stripped-down, dirty versions is a combination of reverence toward the progenitors of the blues and a spirit of pure enjoyment that is rare to find.

This is a fun record for anybody with a taste for the blues.

Buy at Alive/Naturalsound Records

Friday, July 6, 2012

Duck Migrations: The Mallard on tour in July and August

It is July, the sun finally is out in Seattle (residents, please be calm -- a couple of hours a day for a few weeks is not harmful) and one of my favorite young bands, The Mallard, is swinging through the Pacific Northwest to begin their multi-state campaign to win your hearts.  It represents a great chance to see the band (now a foursome) play the songs from their great debut, Yes On Blood (our review here) and new ones for the second album.  Their brand of surfy, echo-garage rock is just right for a night out. I've seen them live, and they are worth the effort.

Here is the final track of Yes On Blood, "You Got the Critics" --

The dates and venues are as follows:
06/16/2012 Brick and Mortar w/Burnt Ones 
07/08/2012 Doug Fir Lounge Portland OR w/wimps
07/09/2012 Funhouse Seattle WA w/wimps
07/10/2012 The Manor Caldwell ID 
07/11/2012 Zoo City Missoula MT 
07/13/2012 The Aquarium Fargo ND w/Blind Shake 
07/14/2012 Turf Club St. Paul MN w/Blind Shake 
07/15/2012 Empty Bottle Chicago w/Blind Shake + Terrible Twos
07/17/2012 Frank’s Power Plant Milwaukee w/Blind Shake 
07/18/2012 Gabe’s Oasis Iowa City IA 
07/19/2012 Replay Lounge Lawrence, KS 
07/20/2012 Hi Dive Denver CO 
07/22/2012 Bootleg Theatre Los Angeles CA w/Magic Trash
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 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

And from the debut album, "Fog" --

The band is helmed by vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Greer McGettrick, and includes Dylan Tidyman-Jones (guitars/keys/vocals), Dylan Edrich (bass/guitar) and Miles Luttrell (drums).

They even grew up and got a video:

Oh, the T-shirt designs are pretty cool, too.

Castleface Records

Introducing: Driving Mrs. Satan

Driving Mrs. Satan is an band from Belfast, Northern Ireland, with a novel idea: Take heavy metal songs and present them as indie pop.  The members of the band are Claudia Sorvillo (vocals), Ernesto Nobili (guitar), and Giacomo Pedicini (double bass).  In my opinion, it is a fun concept, but more important, it is good music.  Try out their cover of Black Sabbath's "Never Say Die" --

And they haven't forgotten the importance of AC/DC to the heavy metal genre, so here is "Hells Bells":

I'll close with the band's cover of Helloween's "I Want Out". I'm especially fond of this one.

The music of Driving Mrs. Satan can be found at the band page at several of the links below, so I encourage you to explore, and to keep these metalheads in mind.

Twitter ( @DrivingMrsSatan )

REVIEW: The Semis - High On Pop EP

The Semis are a rock band from Tampa/St. Pete consisting of Billy Summer (who writes, sings, plays guitar and bass) and Kyle Lovell (drums). I don't qualify "rock" in any way, because to do so would be to minimize what they're doing. As I've observed in a previous review, they tend to veer from Stones raunch to clean, pretty, summery power pop (sometimes in the same song), and the common denominator is frontman Billy Summer's absolutely devastating way with a hook.

Whether it's any of the truly tasty guitar licks on songs like "Burn Your Eyes Like The Sun" and "The Smart One", or the rapturous vocals on the title track (currently my favorite song of 2012, by the way), The Semis define catchy... but without ever losing the edge that leads you to believe these guys could keep an Ybor City dive, or a bar full of SEC frat boys, rocking, dancing and hair-throwing along through a night of rock. That's a rare quality. To me, it puts Summer in a pretty small group with artists like Will Johnson, Jim James and Robert Pollard -- able to make a ridiculously catchy, poppy song, almost on demand... but also able to deliver razor-sharp rock with a pounding rhythm section and old-school guitar solos to keep things from getting too sweet.

As far as musical labels, you could call some of this psychedelic and you're never far from a power-pop breakout, but there are shoegaze elements in some of the guitar work - the way it's layered, mostly. And there are times this stuff, especially some of the solos that take flight, really reminds me of Crazy Horse.

Much like the Henry Clay People (read Scott's recent review), and personal favorite Centro-matic, I believe the Semis deserve a lot more exposure. Bands like this make wading through all the "other stuff" worthwhile. I've had the five songs on High On Pop on almost constant repeat for the last two weeks, and haven't tired of them yet.

Here's a link to download the EP. It's "name your price". Although I understand the reasoning behind offering to let you have it potentially free -- as a foretaste of a forthcoming album -- you really should pay for music this good. But hey, you're on the honor system. Me, I just want them to keep making music.

And today's your lucky day... Billy has also made the previous album Decapitator Blues available on Bandcamp. You can read my review if you would like, or you can just go ahead and download and listen for yourself.

Keep The Semis on your radar...

The Soul Corner - Some Kind of Wonderful

Here's a rocking jam from 1967 by a band out of Rochester NY, the Soul Brothers Six.

Of course you probably know the Grand Funk Railroad cover from 1975, which isn't too shabby at all, especially as these rock band covers of great soul songs go. They stay very true to the original and more than pull it off.

The Fantastic Johnny C also recorded it in 1968. Another winner.

Can I get a witness?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

New EP from Saint Max and the Fanatics

Saint Max and the Fanatics is Max Syed-Tollan, a young man from the Galloway region of Scotland.  Max describes his music as offbeat pop, but while that description is undeniably accurate, it doesn't begin to convey the scope of his work.  It seems to me that the songs offered on this self-titled EP range from exuberant indie pop to a style I would call contemporary Celtic cabaret, which may bring to mind Morrissey.  But whatever you want to call it, it is captivating and entertaining.  Understand, for a young man, Max has a lot to say, and he says much of it to music.

The EP includes five tracks, which can be streamed in full below, but we will take an individual look at three of the songs that I think demonstrate his musical range, compositional skills, sense of humor and deft touch in telling a story.  Our spotlight first shines on track three, the beautiful ballad "Wonderful Life" --

The energetic pop side of Max is ably represented by the following two tracks.  "A Life Worth Living", which is the lead track of the EP, is a rollicking pop tune that careens on the edge of going out of control and smashing the glassware; it is a fun ride.

Fun, did I mention fun?  Good timing that is, because the third track I'll bring to your attention is the excellent indie pop track with a wicked sense of humor: "Die Annie Die" --

Max has the musical talent and a great voice, and he appears to have the necessary dose of ambition.  I think he's one of the ones to watch.

Max's EP released on July 16.  If you are one of our UK readers, you can hear the Saint live on Saturday, July 14, at The Captain's Rest in Glasgow.  The album was recorded at Glasgow's venerable Green Door Studio.  The Fanatics are, for the most part, Max himself on vocals, guitar, bass and keys.  But the album also credits Muir Steele (guitars and bass), Elliot Waterhouse (brass), Fraser Gibson (brass), Ewan McCall (brass), Scott Murphy (brass), and Scott Duff (drums).

You can stream the entire EP here on Bandcamp.  If you prefer Soundcloud, here is the link.

Multiple songs on Soundcloud
Twitter ( @saintmaxmusic )

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

RIP Andy Griffith: A Short Appreciation of His Contributions to the World of Music

I realize this is a music blog, but for some reason the news of Griffith's passing inspired me to want to share a few things with you...

Griffith was inspired to a career in the arts by his early love of music, and his first role was as folk singer/demagogue Lonesome Rhodes in 1957's A Face In The Crowd:

But of course, he was born and raised in North Carolina, and his best-known work was based there... and music was always a big part of the show. I was always partial to the version of the theme song with words:

And, heck, remember the Darlin's? (The Dillards) One of the best intersections of comedy and music ever - great, great stuff:

REVIEW: The Henry Clay People - Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives

A new album from Southern California's The Henry Clay People puts a bit of the old spotlight on the relationship, don't you know.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't mean our relationship with the band, which is a mutual twitter following and us telling everyone to buy their albums while they become rock and roll millionaires and fly in private jets to their tax haven mansions.  No, I mean the relationship of the WYMA crew about the band.  You see, if Bob Pollard's many artistic platforms comprise the spiritual inspiration for this blog, The Henry Clay People are the noisy, energetic heart where all of our tastes overlap.

It began a number of years ago when I was driving to work listening to Seattle's KEXP, and I heard the song "Something In The Water".  In my typical, debonair lawyer fashion I said out loud "that's a great f**king song".  KEXP taunted me over the next few months by playing that song, as well as "This Ain't A Scene" and "You Can Be Timeless", while I unsuccessfully tried to source the album, For Cheap or For Free, from a curiously unresponsive label.  I also began singing the band's praises on an alumni website that includes all of the eventual contributors to WYMA, and they enthusiastically embraced (in a figurative, mostly platonic fashion) the band.  Meanwhile, I eventually procured three of their albums, and John was moved to start this blog by a vision of Bob Pollard in his mirror while shaving one morning.  So now we are in a happy place to celebrate another album from The Henry Clay People.

Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives finds the band fine-tuning their signature rock sound while exploring the margins of rock and roll's impossible promise of eternal youth.  I say "fine-tuning" rather than polishing, because this music is, at its core, garage rock with reminders of The Replacements and Pavement (in sound, more the former than the latter for my ears); the smart band doesn't over polish that sound, and this is a smart band.  This album also continues the band's characteristic vocal approach, consisting of sing/speak lead vocals and call and response participation from the rest of the band.  The results are anthems that invite the audience to join in the chorus.  There can be no better first taste to the sound and spirit of the album than its  title track --

So, there we are.  In a day and age when much of the energy and thrust in pop music is based on synths and drum machines, and embracing and reinventing every musical form from the past 60 years except, it seems, rock, we have The Henry Clay People carrying the rock standard.  The album is tight and fast--11 songs in about a half hour.  And the boys deftly sidestep the deadly indie rock mid-tempo jungle, with most of the tracks lending themselves to fist pumping and jumping around.  Even when discussing the mid-20s pain of having to move home in "Hide", the perspective seems to be that of a young man looking around, rather than a full adult looking back.  Life may not be all skateboards and girls, but no one is admitting defeat.

That isn't to say that the band doesn't record fine slower songs, as evidenced by "Friends Are Forgiving" --

But the key to this all may be in a comment that Joey made about the album.  He said that they wanted to make an album that would have excited them as teenagers, but the route to doing so was to stumble a bit recently and direct their teenage angst at their allegedly unimpressive 20s.  That is the sort of concept that could have gone roadkill on a hot summer highway.  Fortunately for us, and the band, they stuck the landing.  In gratitude, I can only hope that they have as much fun making and playing this album as I do listening to it.

And for a fun closer, here is a live version of "Anymore / Any Less".  This recording seems to represent an advance in touring procedure wherein the band doesn't bother to leave the tour bus.

The Henry Clay People are Andy, Harris, Eric and Joey.  Andy and Joey are brothers, and have been with the band from its inception. Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives is out now on TBD Records.  You should be buying a copy.  Now.

Twitter ( @henryclaypeople )

Soul Corner - Special 4th of July edition

The United States of America has contributed many great things to the world, and here in the US, we celebrate many of them today - democracy, freedom, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. And it's a a fun holiday in no small part because in many households there are 2 other elements to the day - American music and barbeque.

And so today we give you some of America's finest, live versions of a few quintessential soul songs, festive and celebratory.

And speaking of dancing, we can't forget the Motor City:

Maybe this one can help you beat the heat that is bearing down on much of the country right now:

Now let that guitar fall in:

The man himself, America's great musical ambassador, Ray Charles:

We'll close this dance party and hopefully inspire the music for your own celebration with one of America's true legends, James Brown, just absolutely killing it here from 1965:

Happy 4th of July from all of us here at WYMA.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Update: Lisa Hannigan and Joe Henry

WYMA loves and supports both these artists. And a few lucky cities, including mine, got to see Mr. Joe Henry and the lovely Ms. Hannigan perform together recently. Along they way they did some impromptu recordings. This very recent recording from Portland:

The Railway Club

The Railway Club is a British chamber pop group that makes music that makes you feel good.  It is a public service, and it is very welcome.  Their debut single "Broken Strings", with B-side "Angel in the House", is available on July 9 as a digital download and a limited run of cassettes via Tiny Lights Recordings.  The band is preparing an album for a hoped-for August release.

Here is the A-side for the single:

The band is from the coastal town of South Shields, and its members are Martin Francis Trollope, David Garrick, Richard Milburn, Carmen Green, Glenn Coyne and Grant Lagan.  It appear that one or more of them have a sense of humor, because their Facebook page contains the following description: "Music played by a collection of people who wouldn't look out of place sleeping on the floor of a train station."

Here is the B-side:

Digital copies of the single will be available from Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, emusic and Amazon.

Twitter ( @railwaymusic )

Sunday, July 1, 2012

REVIEW: A Place To Bury Strangers - Worship

A Place to Bury Strangers, the noise pop foursome from Brooklyn, has this week released Worship, a dense and darkly hypnotic album that will bring back fond memories of Joy Division, Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine... but this band is not simply following influences.

They take it in several different directions - "And I'm Up" is a really accessible guitar rock song, whereas lead track "Alone" features some pretty primal industrial drumming and "Mind Control" calls to mind something like a more aggressive Bauhaus. In fact, lead singer Oliver Ackermann definitely calls to mind Peter Murphy, an old favorite.

The variety in guitar sounds, and Ackermann's vocals, make this more than just another industrial noise rock record, and well worth checking out. It even veers into psychedelic territory on "And I'm Up"... We posted the advance track and the video for album track "You Are The One" on WYMA previously here.

And courtesy of their label, Dead Oceans, you can download "You Are The One" here.

And here's the video for "So Far Away":

And a live video (of an older song, "Burning Plastic") from a European appearance:

They'll be back out on tour the rest of the summer:

07/16/12 - Columbus, OH - The Basement
07/17/12 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
07/18/12 - Indianapolis, IN - White Rabbit
07/19/12 - St. Louis, MO - Firebird
07/20/12 - Lincoln, NE - Bourbon Theatre
07/21/12 - Denver, CO - Underground Music Showcase
07/23/12 - Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge
07/24/12 - Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
07/25/12 - Charlotte, NC - Tremont Music Hall
07/26/12 - Washington DC - Rock & Roll Hotel
07/27/12 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg (Record Release)
07/28/12 - Philadelphia, PA - TBD
07/29/12 - Boston, MA - Middle East Downstairs
07/30/12 - New Haven, CT - The Space

A Place To Bury Strangers Website

New Dinosaur Jr. Song: "Watch The Corners" from I Bet On Sky, due out in September

Pretty exciting news - Dinosaur Jr. is touring later this summer and into the fall, and has a new album, I Bet On Sky, due out in September.

You can stream the advance single now at Rolling Stone. And you should - it sounds great.

Pretty excited about this album and seeing them on tour this fall. Farm was a terrific record -

- no reason to expect less this time.

Here are the tour dates:

Tour Dates:
07/06/12 Des Moines, IA: 80/35 Music Festival
08/25/12 St. Louis, MO: LouFest 2012
09/24/12 Toronto, ON: Lee's Palace
09/25/12 Toronto, ON: Lee's Palace
09/26/12 Toronto, ON: Lee's Palace
09/27/12 Detroit, MI: St. Andrew's Hall
09/28/12 Cincinnati, OH: MidPoint Music Festival
09/29/12 Champaign, IL: Pygmalion Festival
10/01/12 Nashville, TN: Mercy Lounge*
10/02/12 Atlanta, GA: Variety Playhouse*
10/03/12 New Orleans, LA: Tipitina's*
10/04/12 Austin, TX: Mohawk*
10/05/12 Houston, TX: Fitzgerald's*
10/06/12 Dallas, TX: The Prophet Bar*
10/08/12 Flagstaff, AZ: Orpheum Theater*
10/09/12 Santa Ana, CA: The Observatory*
10/10/12 San Francisco, CA: The Fillmore*
10/11/12 Eugene, OR, WOW Hall*
10/12/12 Seattle, WA: Neptune Theatre*
10/14/12 Salt Lake City, UT: Urban Lounge*
10/15/12 Denver, CO: Bluebird Theater*
10/17/12 Omaha, NE: The Waiting Room*
10/18/12 Minneapolis, MN: Cabooze*
10/19/12 Madison, WI: Majestic Theatre*
10/20/12 Grand Rapids, MI: The Orbit Room*
10/22/12 Bloomington, IN: The Bluebird*
10/23/12 Cleveland, OH: Beachland Ballroom*
10/24/12 Millvale, PA: Mr. Smalls Theatre*
10/25/12 Washington, DC: Black Cat*
10/26/12 Charlottesville, VA: Jefferson Theater*
10/27/12 Philadelphia, PA: Union Transfer*