Saturday, December 22, 2012

More Free Christmas Music - Gnartivity Scene: Lo-Fi Carols from Gnar Tapes


More of our artist and label friends are in the giving mood, and we're happy to share with you. Gnar Tapes, a Portland-based label, has given us several of our favorite new lo-fi fuzz rock artists in 2012, and here at Christmas time, they're giving away a compilation featuring several of their artists, including Emotional, whose new album Feeling was recently reviewed by Rocksteady here. Emotional contributes "I Wanna Be Your Dradle" (sp?), based on the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated".

The theme might be best embodied by White Fang's freewheeling yet laid-back reggae take on "Jingle Bell Rock": "Jingle Bell Rasta". Or perhaps by one of the fuzziest cuts on the record -- Love Cop's take on "Christmas (Please Come Home)" called "Christmas (Let's Get Stoned)". Get it? I don't have to draw you a picture, do I?

The liner notes disclose: "Recorded at Gnarnia in Carpet Cafeteria - November 23 - December 3, 2012." So you can be fairly certain that they didn't overproduce this sucker.

Check it out and accept their generous gift:




Free EP from Queen Jane


Late last month we profiled Queen Jane, a good young band from Cumbernauld, Scotland.  They have an energetic, Afro-pop inflected sound that we found quite refreshing.  For those who liked it then, or who are just discovering it now, you are in luck.  From now until Christmas, the lads are offering their new Romantics EP as a free download (we tried to negotiate a better price for you, but the group held firm at free and could not be moved).  If you sleep on this offer, you will regret it.







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Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas From The Buffalo Killers and the Bohannons!

Christmas is almost here, and we have a few presents for you!

Check out this heavy, psychedelic cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" by Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers:



And this cover of the old Beatles' fan-club-only 1967 song "Christmas Time":



They are happy for you to have these songs free of charge, in the spirit of the season.

And here, also available for free download, is a new song by Chattanooga's The Bohannons, "Christmas in Vietnam":



Here at the end of 2012, I want to give a special salute to the Buffalo Killers, whose 2012 release Dig. Sow. Love. Grow. was reviewed here, and to the Bohannons, whose Unaka Rising was reviewed here. If you're looking for fierce blues-based rock music, these are two artists you ought to spend some time with as you look to spend the iTunes gift card or (hopefully) Grimey's (or other local music retailer's) gift certificate you will receive next week.

It is possible both will be featured on a WYMA Blog Best of 2012 list, coming the week of Jan. 1...

Black Tambourine covers Ramones

This ranks as one of the really great musical ideas of the year.  The beloved noise poppers Black Tambourine, while reunited recently, decided to record covers of five Ramones songs.  And the recording is available at Bandcamp in physical form on Slumberland Records or name-your-price on digital.  Well, Merry freaking Christmas to all of us!

I realize that the cell phone and French Press coffee maker may be a better overall inventions, but this ranks as a seriously good idea.


Black Tambourine is Pam Berry, Archie Moore, Brian Nelson and Mike Schulman.  Additional vocals by Jenny Robbins and The 'Rinettes (Rose Melberg, Dee Dee, and Jenny Robbins.

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Slumberland Records page for Black Tambourine

The Soul Corner - "She Shot a Hole in My Soul"

We've got a fairly obscure one this week, but a song that I've loved since first hearing it at "beach music"  parties in North Carolina 25 years ago.

From 1967, Clifford Curry, "She Shot a Hole in My Soul":

It's got the call and response, some terrific horn lines, a perfect vocal and a greasy guitar sound at the beginning that I've always wished there were more of.

No less an expert on southern soul-pop than the great Alex Chilton, whose birthday is Dec 20, covered "She Shot a Hole in My Soul" with the Box Tops:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton would be 62 today.  His influence in music has been evident for over 40 years.  He started in music as the 16 year old lead singer in the Box Tops.



After the Box Tops, Chilton formed Big Star, a group whose influence can be heard in Cheap Trick, The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, R.E.M.. and The New Pornographers. The band’s first album, “#1 Record,” in 1972, did not come close to fulfilling the commercial promise of its title, nor did the followup releases “Radio City” and “Third/Sister Lovers.” But their music – gentle and introspective songs like “The Ballad of El Goodo” and “September Gurls,” and exuberant anthems like “In the Street” – had a profound impact on generations of pop and indie acts that followed.

The Replacements sang a tribute to Alex and Big Star with the lyrics:   “Children by the million / Sing for Alex Chilton / When he comes ’round / They sing, ‘I’m in love / What’s that song? / I’m in love with that song.’”




Echoing the Mats - I'm in love with these songs.



and




finally,




REVIEW: The UV Race - Racism


Racism, from Melbourne's The UV Race, arrived just in time to be considered for a highly coveted spot in my year end lists of favorite albums for the year.  And with pop songs twisted through varying degrees of punk, post-punk, new wave and glam, and a not inconsiderable dose of near insanity, it is a worthy contender (What? You expected The Bieber to beat them out on my list?).  Diverse both thematically and musically, its laudable constants are energy, entertainment and quality songcraft.

Here is "Unknown Pleasures", one of the tracks I consider a standout --



"Life Park" is another absolute winner of a song, but the album is full of the them.  "Be Your Self", the opening track, veers to the prog side on the band's well crafted admonishment to accept one's own identity --



Some songs are slinky vamps, some feature spoken word segments, and all of them feature the band's depictions of memorable characters or not-completely-suburban observations of modern life.  Well, that and ferocious percussion.  And if it all is embellished by handclaps, horns, or an angry guitar line, so much the better.

I would be remiss if I didn't give you a taste of UV Race's punkier side --



UV Race lists its members as Marcus, Georgia, Ally-Pally, Sea-Snake, Emily, Daniel, Moses and Alexandra.

And let's end with the twisted triumph of "Gypsy King", featuring horns and the line "ain't life a pig".



Racism is available through Fuse in Australia and In the Red Records in the US.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday radio from Soliti


One day after I review yet another smashing Finnish band in Soliti's stable, they choose to issue a sampler, so you get great music from the frozen north two days in a row.  The excellent collection gives you songs (in some cases remixes) from their bands,  and I think that if you log in to Soundcloud (which can be done via Facebook) you can download the songs.  In any case, you can stream the collection to your heart's content.


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

REVIEW: Big Wave Riders - Life Less Ordinary



Big Wave Riders are one of the many excellent bands to emerge from Finland recently.  With a sound that encompasses multiple genres of guitar-based rock and pop, with echo and other effects, surf rock touches and even dance rock, their 2012 LP, Life Less Ordinary, is a bold and self-confident announcement that the band is not to be ignored.  And if you like fuzzed-out guitar, hazy vocals and rock anthem hooks, you'll love these guys.

Sample Life Less Ordinary with the infectious opening track --



A good example of the group's refusal to play between the lines others might expect of them is "Sunny Season" -- a delightful guitar and synth dream pop song that verges on dance rock territory --



A group this competent, and this willing to follow their own muse, seems to me to be well positioned for success in a music world in which tastes are fickle.  And as an opening statement, Life Less Ordinary can only be regarded as a triumph.

Big Wave Riders are Teppo (vocals/guitar), Aleksi (bass/backing vocals), Anssi (guitar/backing vocals/keys), Pete (drums), and Lauri (sax/synth/guitar).  The band was founded in 2010, and issued an EP in 2011.  Their music is released on Finnish label Soliti.


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Monday, December 17, 2012

Wake Owl - remix of "Gold" by Noah Lenox/Magic Sword

Wake Owl is a new folk rock artist (Colyn Cameron) - with a single, "Gold" our currently, and an EP Wild Country, expected out in January.



We featured the single on initial release here, and here is an electronic remix of "Gold" by Noah Hyde:



It's an interesting take on the song, and the added effects don't detract from Cameron's vocals, which to me are the strongest part of the song.

REVIEW: The Colourful Band - The Colourful Band


Edinburgh-based singer songwriter Ian McKelvie is a man with a talent for writing songs that tell stories and express emotions simply and concisely, and then wrapping them in a folk rock wrapper that makes it warm, familiar and exciting.  The genius isn't it trying to contrive the most interesting story or express the greatest love/rage/sorrow; it is in expressing the story you have in a way that people want to hear it.  Some guys and gals have the knack -- like Billy Bragg, Sixto Rodriguez,  and Paul Westerberg.  Add Ian to that list.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that he is graced with a velvet voice.

Ian previously issued a couple of critically well received EPs in 2009 and 2010, but this is his first LP with his collaborators known as The Colourful Band.  The album is a collection of the best songs he has written over the past few years, including songs from the EPs and a tune that featured on the soundtrack of a BBC series, recorded at Chem19 and Gargleblast studios.  Here is one of my favorite songs on the album, "New Town Girls".  I think most of us can relate to it without even having been to Edinburgh.  Depending on where you live, you can just substitute the appropriate local geographic reference -- upper east side girls, Rodeo Drive girls, South Beach girls, Back Bay girls -- I expect you have the picture in mind.  And it ably displays Ian's knack with a song.



The eleven tracks on the album include energetic songs, such as three of the first four tracks, "Always the Summer" (name checking Joe Strummer in a clever way), the rousing "Are You Waiting?" and "Easter Road" (which begins "She's been thinking about having a baby and he's been thinking about joining the navy and I, I just wanna be somewhere else"), and slow, reflective tunes such as "Getting Famous Is Easy", "Hollow Lonely Heart" (showing his crooner chops and admitting his passion for Scarlet Johansson), "I Want to Go Home" and "In the Meantime" (which may remind the listener of James Taylor or Tom Rush).






You can stream Easter Road at the Soundcloud link below, but alas I have no clip for the majestic "Into the Bright Sun From Shadow", but you can stream a segment here.  And you should stream it.  In my view, it is one of those songs that prompts a listener to bump an album up an entire grade.

The Colourful Band (at various times) are Dave Curry (drums), Jon Tyler (guitar), Fraser Stewart (drums), Ian McKelvie (vocals, guitar), Steve Tonge (bass), and Dave Steel (drums).  The Colourful Band is out now on Vet Records.  I expect non-UK fans can source it at digital outlets.  And Amazon in the US offers the MP3s for $7.99.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wild Cub - new video for "Thunder Clatter"


We've been following this Nashville electro-rock duo for most of 2012, and thought you'd like to have a look at their latest video - for the song "Thunder Clatter" from Youth. This song leans heavily in the Afro-pop direction that's caught on among young rock bands in the last couple of years - the difference being, to me, the vocals here are fuller.



Our review of Youth is here, and if you search "Wild Cub" on our site, you can see some other videos as well as a few free song downloads we've featured. The visual part of art is pretty important to these guys - lead man Keegan Dewitt is also a film composer. Wild Cub is a very impressive new band - it's all good but I especially like Dewitt's vocals.