Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Electro-rock Discovery: Nervous Curtains - Fake Infinity

Nervous Curtains are a Dallas trio playing some pretty evocative and somewhat creepy electronic rock featuring drums, keyboards and vocals reminiscent of Wall of Voodoo or maybe Ultravox. Very intriguing stuff...

Here's a free download of "Wired To Make Waves" - click here.

And you can listen to the rest, and decide for yourself, here:

Friday, August 10, 2012

REVIEW: Ugly Winner - Inside Your Wave

San Jose, California's Ugly Winner are playing at that terrific 90's indie ethos, and playing it quite well. Quiet/loud, tension/release, a pounding rhythm section and some truly memorable guitar work - it's a recipe for 9 tracks' worth of enjoyment.

They're a four piece: Takashi Makino (Guitar/vocals), Todd Flanagan (Bass), Nick Lopez (Drums) and Maxwell Brokenhagen (Guitar). The two guitars are definitely a plus, as Ugly Winner features a very full, evocative sound. It's lo-fi in a way, with the vocals buried a little bit, but the sound is far from lacking. Check out the lead track, "Fret One (Grow Old)" here:

A review of the song titles: "Thoughtful Spots", "Perfect Nothing", "Secret Song" - might lead you to guess that Makino's songwriting is all about taking you somewhere else. And you'd be right. The songs are long and dense, and really surround you with a heavy sound. There's feedback (check out the opening of "Fret One (Grow Old)" and no shortage of overlapping guitar work. And this being a California band, you'll find surf elements as well. Check out "TCBAHS" (lyrics contain the repeated phrase "This could be a heartbreak song") for some of that. But it's never completely straight ahead, and the influences aren't just recycled. This is thoughtful, very well-crafted rock music.

In places, it is definitely reminiscent of Sonic Youth and in places, it reminds me of some of the faster, early Guided by Voices - maybe "Cut Out Witch" or "Auditorium" - you know, a big sound, but delightfully lo-fi for all that. And I'd be remiss not to mention the resemblance between the excellent bass work and San Pedro's good old Minutemen... All this is to say, I really like this record and am optimistic about their ability to deliver this sound live...

Check out this video for "Senses Safe":

And you can download the song here:

The music is definitely underpinned by a reverence for punk's golden age... check out this video of them performing closing track "Ha Ha":

It's out now (released July 20) and if you're out West, you might have a chance to catch them live:

08.11.12 - Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
08.12.12 - Santa Fe, NM @ Better Day
08.13.12 - El Paso,TX @ Lips Bar
08.14.12 - Tempe, AZ @ Long Wongs
08.15.12 - Phoenix, AZ @ TBA
08.16.12 - San Diego, CA @ Tin Can Ale House
08.17.12 - LA, CA @ Origami vinyl(Early Show)
08.17.12 - LA, CA @ Warehouse Party(Night Show)

The Soul Corner - Joe Tex "The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)"

Joseph Arrington Jr., born and raised in a small central Texas, town, became known as Joe Tex and had a string of hit singles in the '60's and '70's, including the novelty "Skinny Legs and All".
But his best work was done early in his career, when he blended gospel and deep soul, and sang some amazing ballads like this week's featured soul single - from 1966 "The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)":

Tex had a colorful life that included a longstanding feud with James Brown who once shot a gun at him in a nightclub. Tex died of a heart attack on August 13, 1982 at age 47.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Heavenly Beat - Talent

Perhaps a prisoner of my own tunnel vision, if I had been asked to guess about the sound of the music created by John Pena, formerly of the Beach Fossils, for his independent project, I'm quite sure that I wouldn't have suggested bright, synth-based melodies with blissed out summery arrangements.  But that is what Heavenly Beat delivers on Talent, Pena's debut LP for Captured Tracks.  With vocals evocative of Sweden's The Radio Dept. and tones reminiscent of Seattle's Beat Connection, this album delivers a note-perfect summer soundtrack.   Here is the official video for track "Tradition" --

As soon as I heard the album, I knew what to do with it.  I packed some beverages, loaded on to the When You Motor Away powerboat and headed out for some late afternoon and early evening wake surfing and cocktails with Heavenly Beat providing the perfect background.  There is even some Latin rhythms to liven up the proceedings.

You can stream the entire album below.

It seems that Pena has been recording as Heavenly Beat since 2009, and has released a 7" and a few singles.  However, Talent is my introduction to the project.  And a welcome introduction it is.  I can only hope that John has another treat planned for next summer.

Captured Tracks

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

REVIEW: Buffalo Killers - Dig. Sow. Love. Grow.

Blues-rock purveyors Alive/Naturalsound Records have done it again - they've brought you another act that, while hitting all kinds of pleasurable retro touchpoints, is playing its own take on all that old stuff. Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers combine influences like the organic guitar work of Crazy Horse and the earthy rock rhythm work of The James Gang into a whole that, if not greater, certainly honors the sum of its parts.

Lead track "Get It" (available for free download here, from is a straight-ahead heavy blues rocker, well-played, with a heavy guitar base over some rocking piano work and some twangy, psychedelic vocals. It's a very engaging combination, but it's far from the only trick in their bag. Next one, "Hey Girl", is more melodic and slower-paced, building over an extremely simple vocal line with some engaging guitar effects (and a couple of well-placed solos). The third song, "Blood On Your Hands", and especially "Those Days", bring back wonderful memories of James Gang Rides Again, but again, they're their own band. The slide guitar in "Rollin Wheel" - well, I'm channelling Duane Allman. Not sure if that's what they intended, but it's a good thing either way, especially when paired up with some of those psychedelic vocals. Brothers Zachary and Andrew Gabbard share vocal duties and play the guitar and bass.

Here's a good video of them performing "I Am Always Here", a good example of their style and evidence that they can deliver in a live setting:

And special mention is warranted by the excellent drummer Joseph Sebaali. At every turn, while the vocals, guitars and piano are moving here and there, he forms a rock-solid and rocking base. Songs like "Those Days" especially benefit from his skill. There are quick changes and hairpin turns, and it all comes together organically, in large part to Sebaali's work on the bottom.

We first heard these guys on the wonderful Alive/Naturalsound compilation Where Is Parker Griggs?, and while that means we are perhaps late to the game on Buffalo Killers, we are happily working our way through the back catalog. For me, this stands as their apex.

This is a terrific, and very welcome, record. You can listen, for now, at Relix.

It's available to buy at Alive/Naturalsound and Bomp!

They'll be on tour, too (with more dates promised soon):

08.10 Louisville Glassworks - Louisville, KY
08.11 Canal Street Tavern - Dayton, OH (Dig. Sow. Love. Grow. Record Release Show!)
08.16 The Glasslands - Brooklyn, NY
08.17 Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar - Buffalo, NY
08.18 Happy Dog - Cleveland, OH
08.23 UltraSession - Cincinnati, OH
10.02 20th Century Theatre - Cincinnati, OH w/ The Sheepdogs
10.04 Grog Shop - Cleveland, OH w/ The Sheepdogs
10.05 The Shelter - Detroit, MI w/ The Sheepdogs
10.07 7th St. Entry - Minneapolis, MN w/ The Sheepdogs

Introducing: The Bronze Medal

Since the Olympics are in London, it seems an appropriate time to introduce the UK's The Bronze Medal.  Rory O'Gorman, Chris Hiller, Daniel Rogers, Mike Barnett and Robin Southwell are masters of melodic anthems that build over their course to captivating conclusions.  Four of their creations have been released on their self-titled EP, which can be streamed below.

Twitter ( @Thebronzemedal1 )

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New song from Holy Esque - "Tear"

Holy Esque is one of the most talked about new bands in Scotland this year.  We covered their excellent debut EP recently (reviewstream), and now we have their latest song - "Tear".  Here us the video:

It is available for free download below:


Monday, August 6, 2012

Introducing: KiDD

KiDD is Glasgow's Stuart Kidd.  he is busy and he is talented.  He drums for Johnny, the project of Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub and Euros Child of Gorky's Zygotic Mync, and Stevie Jackson (whose non-solo gig is with Belle & Sebastian).  He also has recorded a couple of EPs as KiDD for label The Barnes Society.

Stuart also has played with Stevie Jackson, Marco Rea, Roy Moller and Lorne Cowieson in The Store Keys and as one half of The Wellgreens.  Their split 7" is below.  The Wellgreens also released a full album a couple of years ago, and you can check it out at the link at the bottom of this post.

The Store Keys and The Wellgreens --

Twitter ( @Stuart_Kidd )
The Wellgreens

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Two Gallants new album due out Sept. 4, new song available now

Two Gallants have an album coming out September 4, The Bloom And The Blight. Their first in several years, it features a more aggressive pop/rock sound but with the close harmonies and solid songwriting you'd expect. Here's the trailer for the album:

Here's "My Love Won't Wait", free to download:

If you like what you hear, you can pre-order at their website.