Saturday, February 23, 2013

REVIEW: Twin Library: Lowways

The first time we heard from Twin Library, it was as the result of a shared love of the music of Guided by Voices - and that's enough to make me want to check out a band. Here's a previous post I put up about them and their 2011 release No Summer/Shaking Hands.

This month, they have a new release, Lowways. By way of giving some incentive to check them out, they share a list of their music loves (and, perhaps, muses): Guided By Voices, Little Wings, The Velvet Underground, The Wedding Present, Ride, The Clean, Television Personalities, Robyn Hitchcock. That's good enough for me. It should be for you, as well.

Here's "The Surgery Never Left" - a sort of gently ragged guitar line that explodes into a squall of feedback about a minute in makes this one short, sweet and memorable:

Here's "Abandon Everyone" - a really pleasing slice of lo-fi folk/rock with strummed acoustic and quiet vocals that pulls in at least three of those influences they mentioned above: GbV, The Clean and Robyn Hitchcock... but where's that surf guitar come from?

It's so good, it's worth paying for... but their talent and productivity are outdone only by their generosity: you can have it for "name your price" at their Bandcamp page:

SXSW Preview: PAWS

To anyone that grew up on the great indie rock of the 80s and 90s (like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., Nirvana (yes, Nirvana was once indie rock), Built to Spill, and Pavement), PAWS has to be one of the most exciting and promising new(ish) bands in the world.  They and their freaking brilliant 2012 release, Cokefloat, were reviewed right here by our amazing Scottish explorer, Rocksteady74 (Scott).  So, I won't get into the details, but will say, if you like ANY of the aforementioned bands, then you should buy and pay double for this record.  Even at that price, it is a bargain.

On to the point of this post:  If there is a true "must not miss" band for me at SXSW this year, it is PAWS.  If you cannot see them at SXSW, then be sure to look for them in the first two weeks of March in D.C. (DC9), NYC (Cakeshop), Brooklyn (Shea Stadium and Glasslands), Philly (The Barbary), or Boston (Great Scott) in the early part of March.

(This is the third in my series of SXSW Previews.  Please check out Spider Bags and Rah Rah at SXSW as well.)


Introducing: Lost Weekend

Singapore's Lost Weekend plays a shimmering, jangly indie pop that is charming and infectious.  And they are offering six of their demos in Introducing ... Lost Weekend free on their Bandcamp site.  I recommend that you accept the generous gesture from Ribena, Mark, Arif, and Manny.  Sure, they are demos so there are a few ragged edges.  But the music is good and the price can't be beat.  In a few years when someone asks if you've heard of the great "new" band Lost Weekend, you can reply that your regularly listen to their demos from the early years.

Your test drive is "Mornings" --

If that works for you, here is the entire EP --

And thanks to Keith Tan of Obedient Wives Club for introducing When You Motor Away to Lost Weekend so that we can introduce them to you.  Musicians looking after their fellow musicians -- we applaud it!


REVIEW: Shout Out Louds - Optica

Swedish band The Shout Out Louds are playing electronic rock that is catchy, upbeat and very well-realized. I think their new release Optica will appeal to fans of The Arcade Fire and Franz Ferdinand. Often I see this referred to as "dance rock" and certainly there are dance-influenced aspects to this music, and at the same time, there are elements of nostalgia and reminiscing to the lyrics (much like Arcade Fire). Another touchpoint might be the super-slick, well-realized musical vision and intensely emotional lyrical content of Bryan Ferry.

Optica is their first album since 2010's Work, and upon returning from the tour supporting that album, they spent about a year and a half working on this, their next release. The Shout Out Louds consists of Adam, Bebban, Ted, Carl, and Eric, and they certainly put in the time and work to polish this record to a very bright sheen.

This is catchy music, hummable and memorable. You will find tracks like "Walking In Your Footsteps", with its flutes, becoming earworms.

Here is the album track "Illusions" - it's a very good example of all these influences coming together, and the components that make The Shout Out Louds' music so appealing:

We put up a post last month with two other album tracks here. And right now (through Tuesday), you can stream the whole thing via NPR's First Listen.

Optica is out Tuesday Feb. 26 on Merge Records.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Spanish Hard Rock Discovery: Bullitt - So Many Ways

Echoes of the Wallflowers, Foo Fighters and '70s hard rock cascade throughout Bullitt's latest record, So Many Ways. Bullitt is a foursome from Sant Feliu with Xavier Calvet on vocals - while the music is fairly straightforward hard rock, his vocals are reminiscent of the emo of artists like Promise Ring - it's an interesting combination. As an example of the melange, check out "Back to the End":

They have incorporated violins and keyboards, but on the final 3-4 songs of the record, they return to what I am told is their previous form and rock very hard. Here's "Headblower":

This is an exhilarating listen - if you like melodic hard rock, it's worth your time to check out. Unlike some of the great Spanish stuff I've shared from BCore, these cats sing everything in English - so if that's been a barrier to you (it certainly isn't to me) - don't let it stop you this time.

Bullitt at BCore Disc

REVIEW: Popstrangers - Antipodes

A listener often has expectations from music.  Albums are written and performed in certain genres, and defined by the artists' style, desires and abilities.  But some works defy expectations and make a mockery of predictions.  In such cases, the listener needs to sit back and accept what comes.  To my ears, such is the music on Antipodes, by Auckland, New Zealand's young Popstrangers.  It tramples over category lines, giving us, for example, bits of alt rock and bits of indie pop.  The sounds are warped and stretched, the tempos altered, the volume ebbs and flows, and riffs contrast with droning and bursts of dissonance.  Atmospherically, the music suggests an isolation or "otherness" not uncommon with music from New Zealand.  And floating in and out of the music are Flyger's teasing lead vocals that can sound a bit unnervingly like Kurt Cobain.  The bones of this music are punk, with perhaps a touch of the classic New Zealand guitar pop.  The finished product has a more than a touch of the boldness that characterized the Pixies best work.  However, this music has too much of this young band's personality and vision to be anchored to one specific reference.

Popstrangers are New Zealanders Joel Flyger, Adam Page and David Larson -- a classic drums, bass and guitar line-up.  They released several singles on Dunedin's famed Flying Nun label, but have chosen Carpark record for their debut LP.  The album is out on February 26.

We have a stream of album track "Heaven" below.  However, unless your computer has good speakers, listen with earphones or you'll miss the textures that make this music special.

You can stream the entire album below --

Carpark Records

REVIEW: Galoshins - EP1 / EP2

Glasgow three-piece (or four-piece) Galoshins play an exuberant,  eclectic brand of aggo-pop, art rock, noise rock, and psychedelic rock and any other damn thing that pleases the three, or four, of them.  What can I say?  It doesn't hit you the way you think it will, and when you think you've figured it out, it changes again.  But at the end of the day you really don't mind because it is a fun ride.  The music comes in the oddly named EP1 and EP2.  The quirky name is the result of the fact that the release is comprised of two EPs (hence the titles EP1 and EP2) which were recorded separately but released together by Armellodie Records.  Together, they serve as a fine introduction to the varied noise and idiosyncratic but manifest art of the Galoshins.

Take the EPs for a test drive with the first and second tracks of EP1 --

Galoshins are Mark Macphail (vocals and keyboards), James Eyland (vocals and guitars), and Ruraidh MacLeod (drums).  The "other" member is their studio wiz, Iain Macduff.  The group has been together since 2009.

Here is "Devil in Us" from EP2 --

The release is available now, and trust me -- it is never staid, and never boring.   You can stream the entirety of EP1 and EP2 at the Bandcamp link below.


Friday Nuggets - "No Fun" The Stooges

Loyal readers of our former Friday feature The Soul Corner will recall my frequent forays into the great music city of Detroit. But Detroit isn't just the Chocolate City of soul. Not even Cleveland rocks like Detroit, so it's kind of amazing I've gone even a few weeks into this new Nuggets series without a stop in the Motor City.
Well we are fixing that right here right now with one of the legendary and certainly most influential garage / punk bands from anytime anywhere, the Stooges. Led by a fellow named Iggy Pop, perhaps you've heard the name.
We could go with a lot of their songs, and we reserve the right to come back to the Stooges in future Nuggets features, but none have a more primitive, badass garage rock sound than "No Fun":

"No Fun" was produced by John Cale, from their 1969 debut album The Stooges. It was the age of hippies and flower power, and this record just stomped on that pansy nonsense, killed it dead, Detroit style.
Rock and roll was never the same.  
Well come on, well come on, well come on!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kopecky Family Band - video for "Heartbeat", Kids Raising Kids out Apr. 2

Nashville's Kopecky Family Band is playing catchy pop-rock with really nice vocal harmonies - while not technically a family, they harmonize kind of like one. They aren't very good tennis players, though:

In case you aren't familiar with them, the band started on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville in 2007, and consists of Kelsey Kopecky (vocals, keys, bass), Gabe Simon (vocals, guitar, horns), Steven Holmes (guitar, lap steel), David Krohn (drums), Markus Midkiff (cello, guitar, keys), and Corey Oxendine (bass, guitar, horns).

Their new album, Kids Raising Kids, will be out on ATO Records April 2, but in the meantime they are going out on tour (including, of course, an appearance somewhere in Austin TX during SXSW):

MAR. 2              TUSCALOOSA, AL                        GREEN BAR*
MAR. 4              ATLANTA, GA                               THE BASEMENT*
MAR. 5              COLUMBIA, SC                             5 POINTS PUB*
MAR. 6              COLUMBUS, GA                           THE LOFT*
MAR. 7              SAVANNAH, GA                           STOPOVER FEST
MAR. 8              TAMPA, FL                                   NEW WORLD BREWERY*
MAR. 9              JACKSONVILLE, FL                      UNDERBELLY*
MAR. 11            AUSTIN, TX                                  SXSW
MAR. 12            AUSTIN, TX                                  SXSW
MAR. 13            FAYETTEVILLE, AR                      GEORGE'S MAJESTIC LOUNGE
MAR. 14            ST. LOUIS, MO                             OFF BROADWAY'S
MAR. 20            TERRA HAUTE, IN                        VERVE NIGHT CLUB
APR. 15            CLEVELAND, OH                           BEACHLAND BALLROOM**
APR. 16            LOUISVILLE, KY                            HEADLINERS**
APR. 18            NEWPORT, KY                              SOUTHGATE HOUSE**
APR. 19            COLUMBUS, OH                            THE BASEMENT**
APR. 21            INDIANAPOLIS, IN                         RADIO RADIO**
APR. 27            OMAHA, NE                                   THE WAITING ROOM**
APR. 29            KANSAS CITY, MO                        RECORD BAR**
APR. 30            BOULDER, CO                               FOX THEATRE**

Free Zombie Girlfriend!!!!!

No, we aren't offering you a girlfriend that is a zombie.  We have a relatively strict "no matchmaking" policy.  And we aren't asking to you join a movement demand release of an imprisoned female zombie.  What we are doing is alerting you to a free set of lo-fi garage rock from our favorite Hungarian rock band, which is, in fact, named Zombie Girlfriend.  The title of the offering is Our Secret Summer (Rarities 2011-2013) and it consists of 22 previously unreleased tracks.  There is a bit of variety among the tracks, but with the size of the offering, you can't help but find some gems.  I've included a few streams below, and if you are interested, hit the Bandcamp link near the bottom of the post.

Bandcamp for Our Secret Summer

New song from Young Galaxy, album to follow

In advance of the release of LP Ultramarine on Paper Bag Records on April 23, Young Galaxy has picked March 5 to debut track "Fall For You".  The record will include "Fall For You" and a remix by Ghosting Season.  You can stream it below --

"Fall For You" is the second release from Ultramarine.  "Pretty Boy" was released earlier this year.

The Montreal-based band is comprised of vocalist Catherine McCandless and Stephen Ramsay, Stephen Kamp, Matthew Shapiro and Andrea Silver.

We're looking forward to the album release, but for now we can enjoy these tracks.  And SXSW attendees can seek the band at that festival.


REVIEW: Paperfangs - Past Perfect

Featuring charming keyboard-based dream pop tunes with evident craftsmanship and interesting textures, Past Perfect by Finland's Paperfangs is a debut LP worthy of note.  The tones are remarkably clear (of course, it is Scandinavian pop) and warm, with plenty of vibrato.  The vocals are conversational and intimate, with a male voice taking the lead and the female voice adding depth by softly chiming in from time to time.  It is about as perfect for late night headphones listening as any album I've heard in a long, long time.

"Bathe to Glory" is a previously released single from the album --

The songs on Past Perfect are loaded with hooks.  Not the big, telegraphed hooks that swallows the rest of the song, but rather the delicate hooks that when you hear the song for the second time, you think "yesssss, it is this song..."  Here is the band in a somewhat moodier vein.

Paperfangs are brother and sister Jyri and Tarleena, respectively, and their friend Mikko.  They previously released two EPs, AAVVAV in 2012 and ePop006 in 2010.  Past Perfect is their first release for Soliti Music.  Ten perfect nuggets of dream pop to get you through the last of the winter.  You owe it to yourself to investigate Past Perfect.

Twitter ( @Paperfangs )
Soliti Music
Soliti on Facebook

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

UPDATE: Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray on tour, live tracks available

One of my favorite records of 2012 was Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray's We're From Here (WYMA review here, Top 50 here). I love the guitars and her voice... and their modesty (Yuma was tickled that I called them "guitar heros"). They are one of the hardest-working acts in rock, having recently finished up their extensive 2012 tour, and preparing to embark on their 2013 tour in support of the album (dates below).

They have made available a free download of a live cut from their Live at DC9 album, "Baby Blue":

And, in fact, you can download the entire live disc for "name your price" here... so consider it a virtual tip jar, or download it for free and then buy We're From Here. They're a hardworking band and they make killer music - we could always use more of that. Those tour dates:

3/22 - Caldera Tap, Ashland, OR
3/23 - Pine Cone Tavern, Brookings, OR
3/25 - Trillium, Hood River, OR
3/28 - John's Alley, Moscow, ID
3/30 - Crux Coffee, Boise, ID
4/5 - Steaming Bean, Telluride, CO
4/7 - Cowgirl BBQ, Santa FE, NM
4/9 - Adobe Bar, Taos, NM
4/11 - Pioneer Inn, Nederland, CO
4/13 - Ritual Café, Des Moines, IA
4/14 - Quencher's Saloon, Chicago, IL
4/18 - Zazoo's, Louisville, KY
4/19 - Southgate House, Cincinnati, OH
4/20 – Howlers, Pittsburgh, PA
4/23 - The Radio Bean, Burlington, VT
4/27 - Red Hook Bait 'n Tackle, Brooklyn, NY
4/28 - The Galaxy Hut, Arlington, VA
4/29 - The Black Cat , Washington DC
5/1 - Evening Muse, Charlotte, NC
5/3 - The Cavern, Russellville, AR
5/5 The Parish Underground, Austin, TX
5/10 - Taos Alehouse, Taos, NM
5/11 - Cowgirl BBQ, Santa Fe, NM
5/12 The Yucca Tap Room in Tempe, AZ

Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray Website

Reverberation #50

If it's Wednesday, it's time to switch the dial on your virtual radio to Reverberation Radio.  Reverberation #50 is another curated pastiche of tasty underplayed garage and psychedelic cuts.  This week the focus is almost entirely on mid- to late-60's psychedelia.  The major exception to the garage moniker is The Index. The Index - hailing from Grosse Pointe, MI, consisted of drummer Jim Valice and guitarists Gary Francis and John Ford (yes - the Ford family.)  All the tracks were recorded in a ballroom at a Ford Estate.  Their version of "Eight Miles High" is a gem.  "Israeli Blue" is the pick on this list.

1. Lynn Castle with Last Friday’s Fire - Rose Colored Corner
2. The Blue Things - Since You Broke My Heart
3. The Alarm Clocks - Yeah!
4. The Index - Israeli Blue
5. The Rainy Daze - In My Mind Lives a Forest
6. Syndicate of Sound - You
7. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Call On Me (demo)
8. The Left Banke - Dark is the Bark
9. Shagrat - Beautiful Deceiver
10. The American Revolution - Show Me How To Cry
11. The Hollies - So Lonely
12. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Here’s Where You Belong


REVIEW: Great Peacock - Great Peacock EP

Perhaps audacious to predict, but I think this self-titled five-track EP from Nashville's Great Peacock will rank among the better Americana releases of 2013.  And even if it doesn't, it will have introduced fans of the genre to a new talented player on the scene.  The band is comprised of Andrew Nelson and Blount Floyd, two former rockers who've dialed back the volume and rage.  Instead, to remarkable effect, they have ramped up the storytelling and emphasized joy.

The opening track also has been released as a single.  I don't usually expect to find anthems in this genre, but the boys most certainly have one in this song.

The second track, "Desert Lark" begins as a gentle acoustic tune, but builds delightfully as the voices soar, the bass dives in, and horns provided the counter punch.  The third and fourth tracks,  "Sailing" and "Family Home", respectively, reveal the duo's country folk chops with earnest aching vocals accented (I believe) by a  pedal steel guitar.  The album closes with the gentle acoustic pop of "Bluebird" -- a final life-affirming statement from the band.

Americana isn't an uncrowded field these days (nor is the roster of bands with two names, one of which is an animal, as the band is impishly aware).  However, the quality of the songwriting, sincerity of the stories, and honesty of the southern styling set Great Peacock toward the fore of the bands to which attention should be paid.  We're advised that an LP is in the works, which is good news.  In the meantime, Great Peacock EP will be released on March 5 by This Is American Music.

This Is American Music

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

REVIEW: Flowerss - Charm

From Test Pattern Records, a previous source of some terrific shoegaze music, comes Flowerss (Christapher Larsen, formerly of Buildings Breeding, along with Andrew Hoke (aka Bird Peterson). This is a terrific combination - the electronica of Hoke and the more laid-back California pop of Larsen combine to make a record that, while pleasant, is plenty catchy and builds slowly throughout to some fairly heavy sounds.

Their new release, Charm, is not easily categorized - it's kind of quiet, almost ambient electronic music in places ("Halo" and "Sun Dial", for example), but has got a component that borders on shoegaze, in places - the guitars swirl and get nearly overwhelming at times. Then, on songs like "Big Hands", it is clearly soul-influenced:

Overall, it's got a lot of the qualities you look for in good psychedelic music, and the variation in sounds and tempos only serve to hold my interest and confirm for me that Larsen is somebody I definitely want to hear more from.

Here's "Every Mile" - my favorite song on the record. It's pretty soulful and brooding, but pretty poppy at the same time:

And there's an alternate mix of the same song that brings up the beats a little more - and, interestingly, is three seconds shorter:

It's out Tuesday (Feb. 19), and you can listen and buy at Test Pattern Records

New video from Mister Loveless - "Punk Like Me"

From its 2012 release Grow Up, San Francisco's Mister Loveless has released a new video for their pop-punk anthem "Punk Like Me":

They invite you to download the song for free, well, for the cost of a tweet or Facebook like, at their website.

New demo from Honeydrum

One of our favorite lo-fi outfits, New Jersey's Honeydrum, will release an album later this year on Amdiscs.  But just so we don't forget them in the meantime, they have posted this wonderful little demo.  Will you like it? Of course you will.


REVIEW: Cheatahs - Extended Plays

Let's make a prime rock cocktail - take two parts aggressive shoegaze, one part '90s guitar god alternative rock (think Dinosaur Jr. and Sugar) and stir with solid chunks of pure pop.  We'll call it Extended Plays and attribute it to London's Cheatahs.  The result is exciting and refreshing, and more than a little bit noisy.  We'll warn you that you likely will want another.

Album opener "The Swan" plays up the huge guitars.  "SANS" and "Fountain Park" provide even more pace, while "Flake" brings pop melody to the fore. "Coared" features ringing guitars and a bit of psych pop feel.  "Ripper" and "Jacobi" continue the British '90s vibe, bringing to mind Teenage Fanclub.  I wouldn't have been surprised to find album closer, "Froshed", on a Ride album, and I would have liked it there as much as I like it here.    For this outing, the band has eschewed the slower side of shoegaze, but if you are looking for raw energy, this album provides it in seamless fashion from start of finish.

Cheatahs are Male Bonding member Nathan Hewitt, assisted by James Wignall (of Weird Dreams), Dean Reid and Marc Raue.  They hail from Canada, England, Germany and the US, and as far as I know they have no long history of playing together.  But I'm very impressed with how they have taken their influences and then pulled out the stops and had fun: More effects; more riffs; and more melody.  What isn't apparent is that Extended Plays is comprised of two four-track EPs released last year, SANS and Cored.  To my ears, the SANS tracks (the first four) sound more alt-rock/grunge while the Coared tracks are a bit more to the Brit pop end of shoegaze.

As cocktails go, Extended Plays is a short one - eight songs over less than a half hour.  But as most of us have learned, and usually the hard way, it is the punch the cocktail packs, rather than the size, that matters in the end.  You'll have no complaints about the punch from Cheatahs.

The album is out now on Wichita Recordings.  If you want to catch the band live, they will be at SXSW, and touring with Waaves and FIDLAR.

Twitter ( @cheatahssuck )
Wichita Recordings

Monday, February 18, 2013

REVIEW: Useless Eaters - Hypertension

First saw the name of Useless Eaters on a marquee somewhere in Nashville - The End? Kung Fu Coffee? Can't quite remember - just remember thinking what a great punk band name that was - memorable, and upon further inspection, emblematic of an extremely disturbing concept - kind of the same concept behind Fear's great song "Let's Have a War" (if you need a second to go look those up, feel free, but go ahead and start listening to the title track before you do).

The second time they crossed my radar was on the great Memphis punk music discovery blog Tiny Grooves.

And now, the third - they sent a copy of their new record, Hypertension, to our blog for review and I asked Scott to let me cover it. Because I like their sound. From the buzzing, upbeat "Addicted to the Blade" with its bouncing bass line and reverb-laden lead guitar line to the breakneck, all-out punk pace of "Death Gripped" and the punky but sort of sprightly "Wyte Girls", Useless Eaters' lead man Seth Sutton is pulling together some great punk, garage and guitar rock influences into a sound that's his very own. My favorite cut is probably the title track, "Hypertension"... Another favorite is "Smoke Alarm" - a Nuggets-style guitar rocker (Nuggets filtered through another 30 years of garage and punk), and the nearly-5:00 "Vertical Africa" is quite a journey.

Here's "Addicted to the Blade" - released in 2012 as a precursor to the album:

Being a punk-influenced garage rock band from Nashville, they are going to get compared by me to Jeff The Brotherhood, PUJOL and the Turbo Fruits, and if the comparison inspires you to give a listen, it's good as far as it goes, especially for songs like "Black Night Ultraviolet". That one's got plenty of cheesy love patter ("Let me get close to you, baby/ you are truly fascinating/ give me a taste of your honey" - inspired, perhaps, by Pepe Lepew?) married with a truly exhilarating guitar line and a very tasty solo leading into the last chorus.

It's pretty lo-fi and pretty engaging - if you've got a taste for the likes of Ty Segall and JTB, this ought to be a no-brainer. Out tomorrow (Feb. 19) on Jeffery Drag Records.

REVIEW: Veronica Falls - Waiting for Something to Happen

I suppose that no sophomore album comes easily, and I expect that Waiting for Something to Happen by London-based Veronica Falls is no exception.  But this quartet's talent for songcraft and understanding of what they do well allowed them to retain the engaging melodies and delicious harmonies of their debut, while managing a more expansive and immediate set of songs.  The band's debut, Veronica Falls, was one of my top albums of 2011.  But if I could find even a minor flaw with it, I'd suggest that it arguably was somewhat mannered -- as if the band wasn't will to risk a rough edge.  In contrast, Waiting for Something to Happen has some appealing ragged edges and a live performance feel.

Listen to one of my favorites while continuing to read --

For those not familiar with the band, it features intertwined female/male vocals with Roxanne Clifford providing the lead.  The guitars of Jame Hoare (who also provides vocals) and Clifford jangle and duel while Marion Herbain (bass) and Patrick Doyle (drums and vocals) provide a solid foundation.  Perhaps because of the vocals and jangle the band has frequently been describe as a C86 revival act.  I disagree.  To me, the vocals seem more rooted in the sophisticated folk rock stylings of the '60s (e.g. The Mama and The Papas; The Seekers; Laurel Canyon bands) than the naivetĂ© of C86.  And the more distinct interplay of the guitars on this album remind me of The Bats or R.E.M. to a greater extent than, for example, The Popguns or the Shop Assistants.

Here is one of the fine singles previously released --

Thematically, the album reflects the transitions, including from youth to adulthood, as reflected in song titles such as "Teenage", "Waiting for Something to Happen", "If You Still Want Me" (about a lover that is already gone), and "Everybody's Changing".  But my impression is that the band isn't particularly stressed about the changes.  They are observed, felt, and faces are turned forward.  As the band concludes on "Everybody's Changing": 'I won't look back'.  Even on "If You Still Want Me", the singers' final declaration that 'you could be happy / calling me back / if you still had me / you still want me / calling me back / you could be happy' seems to me to be more of a taunt than a request for another chance.

For me, the bottom line on music is determined on the visceral level, rather than on how a critical listener thinks the music compares to other work or projected developmental arcs.  What I want to know is whether I feel it in the gut when the guitars and bass wash over me, and whether I feel it in my head and heart when the vocals hit my ears.  The answer is that this music just plain works, and it works very well.

Veronica Falls are Roxanne Clifford (lead vocals and guitar), James Hoare (guitar and vocals), Marion Herbain (bass) and Patrick Doyle (drums and vocals).  Clifford and Doyle met in art school in Edinburgh and played together in Scottish bands The Royal We and Sexy Kids.  After moving south to London they recruited Hoare and Herbain and formed Veronica Falls.

Waiting for Something to Happen is out now on Slumberland Records in the US and Bella Union in the UK and Europe.

My final observation is that will all these bands forming in art school, and we've noted several just lately, does anyone ever paint or sculpt?  But I'm a music writer, so I can't complain.

Slumberland Records
Slumberland Records on Facebook
Bella Union

New Pop/Punk Discovery: Bam! Bam! - Golden Haze 2 EP

From HHBTM Records, which brought us 2012 favorites like Eureka California and Sweater Girls, as well as one of 2013's early favorites Tunabunny and Joanna Gruesome comes California's Bam! Bam! with their new EP Golden Haze 2Sort of disaffected, yet charming girl harmony vocals and simple punk backbeats combine with different guitar sounds - insistent indie rock riffs on "Something Awful" and a punk buzzsaw approach on "Golden Haze Two":

The 7 inch brings you two songs on each side, including a kind of Richard Hell-or-Iggy-inspired Calvin Johnson guest vocal on "Medicine".

You can order the 7" vinyl disc at HHBTM Records. This one comes with a download code, too.

Introducing: The Deep Red Sky

The Deep Red Sky is an Edinburgh quintet with a sound that ranges from urgent folk rock to indie anthems.  The expansive sound features three-part harmonies, guitars, percussion, keyboards and, of course, a glockenspiel.  The band is on the brink of releasing Plans, their debut album.  To whet our appetite, they have released "Zombies (Things Don't Stay The Same)".  I think the track ably demonstrates the richly textured music this band can produce.  If the rest of the album follows form, it could be one of the sleepers of the year.

The members of the band are Jamie Craighead, Jesse Stoddard, Jos Collins, Scott Cousins and John Alexander.  They are unsigned.

Twitter ( @thedeepredsky )

Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Noise Pop Discovery: Joanna Gruesome

Another super-catchy lo-fi garage rock discovery from HHBTM Records - Joanna Gruesome. HHBTM has the first 7" from this Welsh noise-pop band. There will also be an album out later this year on Fortuna Pop, but for now we can buy these two delightful cuts from our friends in Athens.

Stream "Lemonade Girl":

Boy/Girl harmonies and buzzsaw guitars - a delightful combination. You can order the limited edition vinyl from HHBTM here.

And from the comments section (Youtube poster named Andunemir), we got alerted to this great video:

New Guided by Voices singles: "Flunky Minnows" and "Jellypop Smiles"

Out this week (Feb. 19 in stores) from Guided by Voices, the first advance single from the upcoming English Little League. Side A, "Flunky Minnows", is a power-pop gem, a typically catchy Pollard minor miracle. Side B, "Jellypop Smiles," is a wistful acoustic number (acoustic guitar, recorder) in the vein of "Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory" or "Bright Paper Werewolves."

You can buy it - limited edition vinyl - at Rockathon. Digital version will also be available on iTunes and GBVDigital. It appears there will be a new single each week until English Little League is ready for release.

Introducing: Palma Violets

Palma Violets are a young London quartet who are starting to get a lot of press.  2013 brings a trip to SXSW and the release of debut LP 180 on Rough Trade Records.  Guitars, bass, drums, baritone vocals and occasional keys - simple stuff combined well.  They mean to play indie anthems into your heart, and I think they may do just that.

"Best of Friends"

The video for "Step Up for the Cool Kids" can be viewed at this link.