Saturday, January 19, 2013

Shout Out Louds - new video for "Walking In Your Footsteps" - Optica due out Feb. 26

Swedish pop band The Shout Out Louds feature catchy dance-rock, and are close to releasing their first record in about three years, Optica. On this track, some flute is added in to enhance the kind of '70's disco feel:





Here is "Blue Ice", a single that is available to buy now, with a non-album B side:



Here you can listen or buy "Blue Ice" on Soundcloud:



The album will be out February 26 on Merge Records.

Update: The Parson Red Heads (3 live songs)













WYMA favorites The Parson Red Heads recently went into a theater in Portland for a very well filmed live recording, view here:

The Parson Red Heads from The Portland Sessions on Vimeo.

The three songs are: "Times", "Peace in the Valley", and "Long Way Back". The latter two were on the Murmurations EP but will also be available on the new expanded re-release version of Yearling coming out next week. "Times" is brand new and unreleased.

Great pure pop, as always. If you missed our feature story on the Parson Red Heads from 2011, here it is: Yearling feature.

Artist web page: The Parson Red Heads


REVIEW: Blooper - Long Distance EP


Seattle's Blooper is Adriano S., Chris Quirk and Darrin Ruder.  We highlighted them last March in a post about the Seattle scene, and then profiled their Go Away EP in May (link).  They are back in the spotlight with another dose of their crunchy, hooky garage pop -- the four-track Long Distance EP.

The EP begins with the aggressive guitar assault of "You Won't Miss Me", which may remind you of The Yardbirds.  It is only 2:11, but it doesn't even that long to hook you in for the duration.  "Shaky" delivers a bit more of a '90s slacker vibe.  The guitar remains prominent but trades the crunchy chords of track one for some jangly distortion.

"All the Time" begins with a drum solo, and transitions into a garage anthem.  The EP closes with "Not Up To Me", which to my ears is the most pop-oriented track on the album, but remains in the garage vein that this group does so well.

So there you are -- four tracks, fewer than 17 minutes of delightful, danceable garage pop to shake away the winter chill.  Try before you buy below --






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Friday, January 18, 2013

PLAYLIST: Blaze's Best of 2012

The final Best of 2012 playlist.   Nearly a day's worth of new music.  Turn it up to 11.


REVIEW: The Breakup Society - So Much Unhappiness, So Little Time...


Ed Masley, singer, songwriter, and guitarist of Phoenix and Pittsburgh's The Breakup Society, has been writing some of the best hooks and lyrics in rock since, at least, the early 90's.  From the early days of his previous band, Pittsburgh's The Frampton Brothers, through The Breakup Society's 2004 masterpiece, James at 35 (which remains near the top of my best of the 00's list) and 2007's Nobody Likes a Winner, Masley has consistently rewarded listeners with addictive and unforgettable melodies, thoughtful and witty lyrics, and characters whose stories are compelling and, frequently, heartbreaking.  The Breakup Society's new release, So Much Unhappiness, So Little Time..., is no exception and is an early 2013 "must have" record.

From the opening title track through the thundering epic sadness of "She Doesn't Cross Against the Light," So Much Unhappiness is just about everything that is great about rock and roll (which, to me, can pretty much be summarized as follows:  catchy melodies, guitars, memorable lyrics, guitars, a great drummer (in this case, Bob Hoag), and an occasional piano and bittersweet love song.)  With elements of Elvis Costello, the Zombies, and the Kinks, and even bits of the Beatles, each track draws you in quickly and then rewards you for sticking around and paying attention.

The title track kicks things off with a surprisingly not completely unhappy message:  "love is all around you/would have found you/but its also blind/and you'll find/that only you can leave your tears behind" and reminds us "don't let the good times slip away."  The second track, "Your Invitation to Quit," (video below) is a pounding and bittersweet breakup song which is equally relevant to the breakup of a band (like, maybe, The Frampton Brothers) or of college sweethearts.



Other standouts include the John Wesley Harding co-written "The Way We Weren't," power pop anthem "Here Comes Floyd," and the sharp and biting "He's Supporting the War," which takes us on a ride through the mind of that guy at the bar who is "supporting the war and every mother who's lost/the little baby who used to say "I love you" every day/and he's accepted the cost."



I know it's only January, but given its consistent quality from start to finish, I have no doubt that So Much Unhappiness is and will remain one of the year's best and most entertaining records.

REVIEW: Pony Time - Go Find Your Own


Seattle duo Pony Time plays fast and loud - an intriguing cross between the Stooges-inspired garage rock of JEFF the Brotherhood, the primitive surf guitar of Dick Dale, the constant hard beat of Bo Diddley and bare-bones rockabilly. And if that sounds intriguing, by God, it is supposed to.

Pony Time is Luke Beetham on bass, guitar and vocals and Stacy Peck on drums. This is a terrific album, all sneering vocals, fuzzy guitar and drums that alternate between solid backbeat and wild flights and flourishes, often within the same song.



It is crazy stuff - the music is a lot of fun, and the songs (including the titles: "Hippy Shit", "Lesbian Mayor") are infused with a genuine punk sensibility. Whether the guitars start out fuzzy ("Kathleen Hanna") or build to it ("Hex On You"), they get there every time - and it's enchanting.

Here's "What If You Caught Me" - you can download it and decide for yourself. It's a good representation of their sound:



And here's the video for album cut "Geordie":

Pony Time - Geordie (Official Video) from Per Se Records on Vimeo.

Go Find Your Own will be out February 19 on Per Se Records.

Friday Nuggets - The Standells

When you talk about '60's garage rock, "Dirty Water" by the Standells has to quickly enter the conversation. It is one of the cornerstones of the entire sound. As overplayed as it is, ubiquitous at Boston sport stadiums and oldies radio, it still sounds great to me. Did anyone ever improve on this guitar sound? 
This appearance on the Mike Douglas TV show catches them playing "Dirty Water" live, along with a second song, "There's a Storm Coming", and some pretty miserable dancing from Diahann Carroll and ventriloquist Shari Lewis. 



The Standells were from Los Angeles, not Boston, and at one point included future Little Feat leader Lowell George in the band. The band performs to this day. 

Review: Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin - Reverse Shark Attack


It needs to be said, the best garage/psychedelic rock blast I've heard recently was recorded in 2009.  No, I'm not going over old, ignored submissions.  Reverse Shark Attack, a collectible nugget by Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin was a vinyl only release on the Kill Shaman label in 2009.  California's In the Red Label has taken mercy on those of us who don't happen to have this delightful artifact, and have re-released it.  The album is particularly interesting when viewed in light of the hyper-prolific careers of both collaborators since the album's release, as the signature elements were on display back then.  There are garage stompers that compel you to move your feet and effects-heavy psych, all with pounding rhythms and deft pop sensibility.

Dive in folks, it isn't just rock history, it is great music.





In The Red Records

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New video from LP - cover of Beatles' "Something"

Apparently this young lady, LP (Laura Pergolizzi)  is working on a full album which will be on Warner Brothers later this year. Currently, she's released a video of this Beatles cover. The ukelele, the beautiful, clear, fragile but overwhelming voice, and the incredible whistling combine to create something beautiful and unique:



And this is how "buried" in the quest for new, undiscovered music I am: I did not know who performed this song, or even that it was a song. I thought it was part of a commercial for something else. (Well, it was, but it was also a song). Her earlier hit, "Into The Wild":



If you're intrigued as I was, there are a lot more videos available - and a 5-song live EP. Looking forward to hearing that album, too.


New Prog Discovery: Horsehands, "Tin Horn" from Sirs (due out Feb. 5)

 
Horsehands is a Boston rock band playing a very dense, but catchy variety of guitar rock (or maybe post rock) - this song, "Tin Horn", features staccato bursts of guitar and a heavy, prog-rock rhythm section. The vocals are hard to describe - perhaps Robert Schneider (Apples In Stereo) through a megaphone? It all works together really well and I'm intrigued to hear more.

For now, you can download "Tin Horn" by clicking here.


Introducing: Night Engine, and single "Seventeen/Treat Me Like A Baby"


What is Night Engine?  The simple answer is that it is a promising young UK band with a new upcoming single "Seventeen/Treat Me Like A Baby".  The more complete answer is that this really is a band to follow.  Their music has the intensity and grit.  There is a bit of Bowie, a bit of Talking Heads, a bit of Josef K, and maybe some Fire Engines.  Rock for the urban noir, then, with a bit of funk undertones to give it some swing.




The members of the band are Phil (vocals & guitar), Dom (keyboards & vocal), Ed (bass & vocal), and Lee (drums).  The single will be released on February 18, but you can download "Treat Me Like A Baby" free at this link right now.   Night Engine will be touring the UK with Kaiser Chiefs in February and March.


This track was released in October, 2012 --




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REVIEW: Beat Mark - Move On EP


Paris' Beat Mark is one of those bands that can take some familiar styles, put their own distinctive stamp on them, and package them in a final product that is well worth spending time with.  Their latest effort, out in mid February, is a five song cassette (with digital download) entitled Move On.  It is available on February 15 from Soft Power Records, but we're giving you advance warning because Soft Power releases have been known to sell out in the pre-order stage.

On Move On the band reveals an impressive breadth.  The opener, "Between My Teeth", is predominately shoegaze, but includes a delightful dose of dirty guitar.  "Boxes" is a jangly, C86 guitar pop tune with male/female vocals, and currently is my favorite track on the EP.  "Decolorize" is a blast of grungy alt rock, but the female vocals add a sweet French twist.  The title track is a wonderful, immediate noise pop song with ringing guitars and a driving rhythm section.  And the EP ends with "The Way"  -- a building mix of C86 and shoegaze with a retro, almost '60-ish pop vocals.


For those interested in other material from Beat Mark, we wrote about a previous split 7" about six months ago (link).  The band also has reported that a full length is being released this month on UK label Ample Play.

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Soft Power Records

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

PLAYLIST: Mr Natural's Best of 2012

Another sonic overview of 2012.  Here is the third of the four Best Of playlists.  The fourth is coming soon.   I have all four lists in constant rotation. Over 24 hours of aural respite from the workaday world. Enjoy!


 

New Country Rock Discovery: Haley Bonar - "Bad Reputation"


Haley Bonar is a singer/songwriter from Minnesota with a light, clear voice and a way with country rock (or Americana, whatever you may want to call it). It's not just voice/acoustic - there is a gently chugging rhythm section behind her almost-fragile vocal, and some really nice washes of guitar helping move it along.

This 2-song EP sounds really good. It will have to do for now, but she promises a full album in the spring.

Listen here, click through to buy via Bandcamp:



And here's a video of an earlier song, "Silver Zephyrs":

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Video for "Vis-A-Vis" by Allah Las

This post is a completely shameless ploy to keep the self-titled album from LA's Allah-Las in the public eye ... errr ... public ear.   "Vis-A-Vis" is a lovely Byrdsian song from the album, and it gets the video treatment in this romantic tale of a traveling postcard.  The album was a top ten album on my year end list, and I think it deserves any accolades flowing its way.




If you want to read my review of the album, here is a link.  The album was released in the fall of 2012 by Innovative Leisure.






New single from The Lawlands - "Youth"


San Francisco rock band Lawlands sent us this single. They cite The National, Guided by Voices and Magnetic Fields as influences - seems pretty much right-on to me. I like the simple guitar line and the slow build... and singer Anthony Ferraro's voice definitely warrants comparison to Matt Berninger of The National.

They promise more music later this year, with this song available for download right now:

REVIEW: Guided by Voices - Down By The Racetrack EP (free track available now)


Guided by Voices has cranked out one for the faithful... and it's wonderful. Down By The Racetrack is a 6-song EP, a bit of a holdover from the team that brought us three of 2012's favorite records including my top disc of the year - The Bears For Lunch.

However, as those of us familiar with GbV know, "holdover" does not mean "less than ridiculously enjoyable." Because this thing is a joy - from the opener, "Amanda Grey", which is 43 seconds of Tobin Sprout's heavenly tenor over a string section, to the pounding piano and playful Pollard vocal of "Standing In A Puddle Of Flesh", they manage to fit all four P's in what looks to be a little less than 11:00 of playing time. Like previous GbV EP's Clown Prince Of The Menthol Trailer (7 songs, 10:24) and Fast Japanese Spin Cycle (8 songs, 10:22), it's short but full.

Highlights, to me, are the lo-fi, heavy rave-ups "Down By The Racetrack" (Sprout vocal) and "Pictures Of The Man" (Pollard vocal) but you know songs like "It Travels Faster Through Thin Hair" (with its "They Are Not Witches" guitar flourish intro, Pollard falsetto vocal, and acoustic/electric guitar interplay) will reveal their charms and become earworms like "My Impression Now" from Fast Japanese Spin Cycle or the original version of "Fair Touching" from Lexo And The Leapers. And who's to say we won't get any of these songs in a "full" version on a future GbV full-length? And even if we don't, any of them can become staples of the live set and deliver the kind of joy that GbV fans know and understand.

To that end, download and enjoy the delightful Pollard wordplay ballad "Copy Zero" for now, but be sure to get the whole thing next week.  Down By The Racetrack will be out Jan. 22 and is limited to 2,000 cd's and 1,500 vinyl copies. Currently you can pre-order at Rockathon Records.





In Dreams Lie Guilt - EP from Edinburgh School for the Deaf


Long-time readers of this blog are well aware of my affection for Edinburgh School for the Deaf.  The Scottish band plays a heady mix of C86 guitar rock, drone and distortion that they call "death jangle".  Their 2011 debut LP New Youth Bible (our review here) was highly ranked in my year end list, and I still enjoy listening to it.

Another LP from the band hasn't been forthcoming, but they have provided the five-track In Dreams Lie Guilt EP.  The record, which is available for free download, contains new versions of two of the tracks from New Youth Bible (the first and fifth tracks) and three other tracks.









Edinburgh School for the Deaf retain three of the for members who recorded New Youth Bible, and have added an additional guitarist and vocalist.  The current members are:
Aggie: Vocal, Chanteusing, Sprechgesanging & Chanting.
Alex: Abstract Guitar.
Ashley: Vocal and Sweeter Guitar
Grant: Bass Guitar & Shouting.
Jamie: Drums and Bangs.


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Monday, January 14, 2013

REVIEW: TV Snow - Red


TV Snow is an Australian rock band playing a very catchy variety of guitar rock. On their debut album Red, they demonstrate a real understanding of and facility with both indie rock and pop styles. They remind me in places (opening cut, "Call to the Siren" and "Boy Wonder" for example) of American South power pop bands like the dB's and the Connells. In fact, at times they very much remind me of the Connells - it's sort of eerie. Other songs have a little bit more punk attitude - "Animal" is a nice example of this with its jagged guitar line and disaffected vocals. But overall, this is very well-produced, very catchy stuff - the choruses in these songs really take off and soar.

Here is the exuberant "Downtown":



TV Snow consists of Sean Tyler on vocals and synth, Anthony Di Giovanni on lead guitar, John Mariani on rhythm guitar, Derek Wardrobe on bass and Garo Tanzi on drums. Sadly, the original bassist, Ben Linden (nicknamed "Red" and after whom this record is named) lost his life in a shark attack shortly after this album was recorded. I think they're to be saluted for carrying on - it's clear this band has a pretty bright future.

They could probably go in a couple of different directions... pure pop is certainly an option, as they really have a way with a chorus and don't mind loading in the synths - witness the ballad "I Will Dance". But I hope they retain the punk edge - to me, that makes them much more interesting than just a pop band. The transitions from one to the other are especially evident on "Plastic Painting" - lush vocal chorus into jagged guitar line, with a punk backbeat behind the whole thing.

Here's a snippet of their music in a video of them tracking some drums:



The record is currently available on iTunes, and due for wider release in 2013.

REVIEW: The Shifting Sands - Feel


Now that our 2012 year-end lists are compiled (my list here), it is the season for discovering the great 2012 music we missed.  And near the top of that list is Feel, by Dunedin, New Zealand's The Shifting Sands.  The album began as a solo project of Mike McLeod, formerly of the band Alpha State.  However, the project drew notable collaborators such as Dave Kilgour (The Clean and solo work), Robert Scott (The Bats, The Clean), Robbie Yeats (The Verlaines) and others.  The result is a psychedelic pop album that honors, but does not mimic, the great Dudedin bands of the past.  And if you are a fan of that sound, I suggest that this is an essential album for your collection.

To my ears, the songs on Feel fall into one of two styles.  The first is the more urgent guitar pop similar to that of The Bats. Opening track "Pixies, "Tonight" (which sounds like a long lost track from The Bats and is a free download) and "Worth Our While" are representative of this style.  And the video for the "Pixies" is pretty damn good as well) --








The other style is a dreamy psychedelic pop that reminds me of Syd Barrett in his more disciplined moments, or the folk-psych that helped make Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow so special.






The Facebook page for The Shifting Sands lists Tom Bell and Jake Langley as members, in addition to Macleod.

Feel was released in April 2012 on Fishrider Records.  You can stream the entire album here at the Bandcamp link below.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wake Owl - new video for "Gold", Wild Country EP out Jan. 29


We've recently featured the music of Wake Owl and it seems to be popping up elsewhere, too. It's exquisitely-played folk pop and Colyn Cameron's got a great voice, as well as a way with a chorus. The band consists of Cameron (vocals, guitar, keys), Aiden Briscall (violin, electric guitar - he also directed the video below), Josh Daignault (bass, clarinet), and Andy Shauf (drums, clarinet).

Check out the video for lead track "Gold":



The EP Wild Country will be available Jan 29 via Vagrant Records. It consists of six songs, including both the finished and demo versions of "Gold".

They'll be touring to support the EP:


FEB. 8              SEATTLE, WA                          SUNSET TAVERN
FEB. 9              PORTLAND, OR                        BUNK BAR
FEB. 14            MINNEAPOLIS, MN                   7th STREET ENTRY
FEB. 17            CHICAGO, IL                             OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK
FEB. 20            BOSTON, MA                            CAFÉ 939
FEB. 22            NEW YORK, NY                        ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL (Stage 2)
FEB. 23            PHILADELPHIA, PA                  FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH
FEB. 25            VIENNA, VA                             JAMMIN JAVA
FEB. 26            PITTSBURGH, PA                    BRILLOBOX
FEB. 28            NASHVILLE, TN                        BASEMENT
MAR. 3             KANSAS CITY, MO                   RIOT ROOM
MAR. 4             DENVER, CO                            HI-DIVE
MAR. 7             LOS ANGELES, CA                   HOTEL CAFÉ
MAR. 8             SAN FRANCISCO, CA               HOTEL UTAH
MAR. 9             SANTA CRUZ, CA                     CREPE PLACE

The Year of the Dog compilation - free download


Edinburgh radio show (with an associated label) Dogs Got A Bone asked their listeners to list favorite songs from 2012.  With the cooperation of the various bands and labels, Dog Got A Bone compiled a digital album of 12 of the top 20 tracks, and has made it available for free download.  Several of the bands have featured on these pages, and there are some real gems here.  So have fun.





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