Saturday, March 2, 2013

New video from Wake Owl - "Wild Country" from Wild Country EP

We've written about Wake Owl for the last few months (WYMA review here). Colyn Cameron's distinctive, clear voice is nicely displayed over the mostly acoustic folk-rock. Here's a new video created for the title track of the EP:

Here are some upcoming tour dates:

MAR 03, 2013 --  Kansas City, MO -- Riot Room
MAR 04, 2013 -- Denver, CO -- Hi-Dive
MAR 07, 2013 -- Los Angeles, CA -- Hotel Café
MAR 08, 2013 -- San Francisco, CA -- Hotel Utah
MAR 09, 2013 -- Santa Cruz, CA -- Crepe Place
MAR 16, 2013 SATURDAY -- Austin, TX -- Patagonia / Austlandia SXSW
MAR 26, 2013 -- George , WA -- Sasquatch! Music Festival

The West - new single "Wild Hearts" from upcoming The West EP

The West is a female-fronted indie rock band playing some pretty catchy guitar pop with terrific vocal harmonies. They've got a 5-song EP in the works for a bit later in 2013, but for now, here is a song available to download for free, "Wild Hearts":

It's got the tiniest bit of a country lean to it, I think. But the focus is clearly, and rightly, on those vocal harmonies. Looking forward to hearing more.

REVIEW: Apple And The Three Oranges - Free And Easy: The Complete Works, 1970-1975

Apple And The Three Oranges was the moniker under which Los Angeles drummer/singer/songwriter Ed “Apple” Nelson most frequently recorded, and Now-Again Records has compiled his hard-to-find, sought-after singles into this comprehensive collection, Free And Easy. Though his session work for other jazz, soul and funk artist would fill a large volume, Nelson had a relatively short run as a solo artist, releasing a number of 45's in the early 70's. For years, Apple's stuff has been sought after -- lo-fi, out of print and rare, it seemed that most people would have to either bid high at auction for the vinyl, experience this stuff second-hand, or just borrow it. This compilation remedies that, and adds some great liner notes as well.

Here's an interview from LA Weekly with Nelson and Now-Again label head Eothen "Egon" Alapatt from 2010. And here's a pic from Nelson's visit to Now-Again's offices to sign some papers authorizing his music for this compilation in 2010:

Extra credit to all for their persistence, but mostly for the great quality of this package. Whether it's James Brown-style raps and psychedelic guitars of "Curse Upon the World", the totally funky beats, chicken scratch guitar and horns of "Down Home Publicity", or the lover's crooning of "True Love Will Never Die" and  "I'll Give You a Ring (When I Come, If I Come)", Apple's music fits squarely in the soul/funk canon of the 70's and this compilation of his work, complete with a lengthy interview in the accompanying booklet, is just terrific.

If you heard Apple's "Curse Upon the World" on the previous Now-Again compilation California Funk, you've had a taste of this and will definitely want the rest. If not, you are in for a real treat. It's done in typical deluxe Now-Again fashion. A free download of "I'll Give You a Ring (When I Come, If I Come)" is available here from the label. Free And Easy will be available Tuesday, March 5.

Free And Easy at Now-Again website

New single from Painted Palms

San Francisco's Painted Palms are cousins Reese Donohue and Chris Prudhomme.  Their Carousel 7" will be available on March 5 via Polyvinyl Records.  Side one is "Carousel", which will be on the band's upcoming album.  Side two is "Click", which can only be found on this 7".  These guys make great electro-pop for your headphones.  Give it a try.

Polyvinyl Records

Friday, March 1, 2013

New video from David Kilgour - "Diamond Mine" from Left By Soft

If you've been with us for a while, you know we're partial to some of the great New Zealand artists - and my favorite is David Kilgour. His guitar work is just wonderful, and nowhere is it better than on the long song "Diamond Mine" from his 2011 album Left By Soft (WYMA review here). Check out this new video, and tell me if you agree:

This album was #4 on my "Best of 2011" list - and I listened to a lot of stuff that year. If anything, I like it even more now. Those guitars...

Let's hope this means a new Kilgour album will be coming from Merge sooner rather than later. In the meantime, if you want to look at (and perhaps buy) some of his artwork as seen in parts of this video, you can do that at his website.

February - When You Motor Away

All the tunes which are fit to hear.....514 tracks.  Enjoy some of what we listened to and wrote about in February.  514 tracks - more than a days worth of listening pleasure.

Mount Moriah - new video for lead track "Bright Light", tour dates...

Mount Moriah released their latest album Miracle Temple earlier this week. It's a stunning accomplishment -- Heather McEntire's one of the best country singers we've heard in years, and Jenks Miller's guitar works wonders (WYMA review here). To celebrate they have released a video to accompany the lead track "Bright Light":

They're also heading out on a tour, supported on several dates by Merge label mates William Tyler, whose great new guitar epic Impossible Truth (due out March 19 -WYMA feature here) is summoning ghosts of John Fahey and Skip James, and Telekinesis, who have a new one due out in April. So on one bill, you've got the potential to see Mount Moriah's soulful country rock, Tyler's timeless and intricate guitar work, and the brash power pop of Telekinesis:

Mount Moriah on tour:

March 6 Charleston, SC Tin Roof
March 7 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbits
March 8 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub%
March 9 Atlanta, GA Drunken Unicorn%
March 10 Mobile, AL Alabama Music Box&
March 11 Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon&
March 13-17 Austin, TX SXSW
March 18 Chicago, IL Schubas
March 19 Detroit, MI Magic Stick Lounge
March 20 Toronto, ON The Drake
March 21 Montreal, QC Casa del Popolo
March 22 Boston, MA Cafe 939
March 23 New Haven, CT Cafe Nine
March 25 New York, NY Mercury Lounge
March 26 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s
March 27 Washington, DC DC 9
April 4 Winston-Salem, NC Phuzz Fest
April 12 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle
April 21 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge*
April 24 San Francisco, CA Bottom Of The Hill*
April 25 Los Angeles, CA The Echo*
April 27 San Diego, CA Casbah*
April 28 Phoenix, AZ The Crescent Ballroom*
April 30 Austin, TX The Parish*
May 1 Denton, TX Dan’s Silverleaf*
May 3 Birmingham, AL The Bottletree*
% = w/ William Tyler
& = w/ William Tyler & Dent May
* = w/ Telekinesis

"Lowlands", a new song from Father Sculptor

One of my favorite musical discoveries last year was Father Sculptor.  We featured all of their digital single releases, which were temporarily available for free download during the summer of 2012.  The particularly notable thing about the band is their ability to shape a pop song with an engaging melody into a emotional anthem.

Father Sculptor are preparing the Faith & Violence EP, which will be available on April 15.  The first track from that EP available to stream is "Lowlands".  And here it is --

Bandcamp for previous EP
IX Hispana Records2012’

Friday Nuggets - "Pictures of Matchstick Men", The Status Quo

Psychedelic rock from the 1960's was hardly exclusive to American bands, with great stuff also coming from the UK.  One of the most popular UK bands of all time, the Status Quo had many chart topping hits at home, but only scored one top 40 hit in the US, "Pictures of Matchstick Men" in 1967. It's a  distinctive song with a particularly memorable opening guitar line. Here is a terrific video from the Top of the Pops TV show:

The Status Quo were famously name dropped by one of WYMA favorite bands, Teenage Fanclub, in the opening line of their breakthrough song "The Concept" from 1991 (She wears denim wherever she goes, Says she's gonna get some records by the Status Quo...).

"Pictures of Matchstick Men" was covered by Camper Van Beethoven in 1989, in a manner quite faithful to the original.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Guitar Pop Discovery: James Younger - "Monday Morning" from upcoming EP

James Younger is playing guitar pop in a classic form - jangly and bouncy, with a vocal approach that calls to mind the Strokes. I really like the guitar lines on this song:

It's ridiculously catchy, and you can learn more (tour dates, etc.) at Light Organ Records. I am really looking forward to hearing more from him.

Introducing: Trick Mammoth

Here at When You Motor Away we are more into looking for the next big thing, or the kids who deserve a shot at being the next big thing, than we are in talking about anyone who already is a big thing.  And I feel pretty good about including Trick Mammoth of Dunedin, New Zealand.  They aren't a big thing now, but my taste says they deserve a shot and my instincts say they will make it.  Inspired by cinema, as well as literature, they paint a picture with lo-fi fuzz guitars and female vocals.  The band is going into the studio to record their debut album with Ian Henderson of Fishrider Records.  That fact alone attracts our attention, as Ian also recorded and released the Opposite Sex album that was one of my top albums of 2012 and played drums on the release from The Puddle that was in my top 50 for last year; and both releases came out on Fishrider Records.

However, while waiting for the results of the upcoming recording session, we can enjoy the "Baltimore" demos.  Each is downloadable for a "name your price" at Bandcamp.

Trick Mammoth are university students Adrian Ng (songwriting, guitar, vocals), Millie Lovelock (guitar, vocals) and Sam Valentine (drums).  Ng had been writing solo music as Trick Mammoth for some time when he and his friend Valentine met Lovelock at DIY practice space.  Valentine and Lovelock liked Ng's material and the trio agreed to work together.


Reverberation #51

This week's sonic flashback from the folks at Reverberation Radio includes the usual 60's psychedelia mixed with outsider country reminiscent of Hasil Adkins by Donald Adkins (wonder if it is an alter ego),  jangle folk by The Banana - recorded in Viet Nam by a group of GI's, early krautrock by The Inner Space and Can and topped of by raw soul by Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Johnny Love.  As Clean Gene once told me, "The best thing about flashbacks is they're free."  Enjoy.

Reverberation #51


Punk Rock Discovery: Slam Dunk - Welcome To Miami

Victoria, BC's Slam Dunk is a punk band. There being more than one type of punk rock, I'll leave it to you to come up with a hyphenated prefix. I saw one that said "soul-punk". Okay, sure. But punk, definitely. They've got a good sound -- great guitars, plenty of ska-flavored horns, shouted vocals and a killer drummer. Give this a chance and you won't regret it. Their second album, Welcome To Miami, came out in November 2012 and I must apologize for overlooking it in the year-end tumult. But better late than never.

They named their band after a basketball move. They named their album after a Will Smith song. And they put a nice painting of a beautiful dog on the cover of the album. Why did they do these things? While you're listening to this great record, you can ponder that. It's almost too much fun, as is the music.

Here's the video for "Dying Breed":

And here's "Fantasy":

They're playing at the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, ID with over 100 other bands, including Camper Van Beethoven, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Built To Spill and The Walkmen - and I predict they are going to have a lot of new fans after that. This stuff is pretty much irresistible.

Finally, because why not? - here is a link to a stream-of-consciousness interview with Canadian punk band Slam Dunk about some notable slam dunks.

You can learn more, or buy, at File Under: Music.

Introducing: Black Lizard and their single "Love Is A Lie"

Finland's Black Lizard has released the single "Love Is A Lie" from their upcoming debut LP.  The band is known for their psychedelic, shoegazy guitar attack with plenty of distortion.  I am reminded -- quite happily I might add -- of The Jesus and Mary Chain or Brian Jonestown Massacre, or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  I'm eagerly awaiting the album, but in the meantime, we all can enjoy "Love Is A Lie".

Black Lizard is Paltsa-Kai Salama (vocals, guitar), Joni Seppanen (guitar, synths), Lauri Lyytinen (bass), and Onni Nieminen (drums, percussion).

Soliti page for Black Lizard

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

REVIEW: Wimps - Repeat

It is time to introduce the readers of WYMA to Seattle's punk secret: Wimps.  I have wanted to to this before, but now the time is right because I don't have to rely on describing live shows, bootlegs or the old five-track demo collection.  The evidence is available to all on the bands' new LP, Repeat, which is out now on End of Time Records.   The songs do not require deconstruction or exhaustive search for hidden meaning.  This is straight-up, sincere punk.  Brief, loud, fast and full-bore punk.   Punk delivered with enough pop sensibilities to keep the themes from grinding you down (song titles include "Stop Having Fun", "Hello Frustration", and "Quit Your Job").  The personalized twist is that this band is comprised of adults, and the anxiety of actually having a life and knowing what responsibilities mean infuses a special depth, and a knowing wit, to the songs.

Check out "Stop Having Fun" --

I like a lot of different types of music, but I've always maintained that high quality punk is one of the most critical components to a good music collection.  And it is a special treat when it is performed by skilled musicians who understand the genre.  If you like punk, you like Wimps.

Wimps are David Ramm (drums), Rachel Ratner (vocals/guitar) and Mutty Nice (bass/vocals).

Twitter ( @TheseWimps )
End of Time Records

REVIEW: The Mavericks - In Time

Raul Malo is back where he started - with his mates in The Mavericks. Or, as he sings in the opening cut of In Time, "back in your arms again". The Mavericks seventh album, their first in 10 years, is a return to form (and it was always great form), and it explores all the familiar themes: memory, lost love, moonlight, jealousy and regret - but honestly, Malo could be singing the menu at Shoney's and it would be well worth listening to. The album pulls together rock, country, Tejano, Cuban and other musical influences - they're as impossible to pin down as ever.

Here's "Come Unto Me" from a performance at the 2012 Americana Music Festival in Nashville - tell me these guys don't rock:

For Malo, drummer Paul Deakin and multi-instrumentalist Robert Reynolds, keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden and guitarist Eddie Perez, the joy of playing together again is obvious. They start off in pretty high gear, with the guitars and drums revved up, Malo just swings and swings through that lead track, and the pace stays pretty sprightly throughout. There are a couple of torch songs - of course there are, there may not be any more qualified singers alive today - but we don't get the first one until track five, "In Another's Arms".

For me, the highlight is the upbeat stuff: "Fall Apart" and "As Long As There's Loving Tonight" feature some great guitar work and show that Malo, swinging like Elvis, can lead these guys through rock songs as easily as he can front a Dean Martin-style love song or something more akin to son or bolero. "Born To Be Blue" is a bouncing bundle of surf guitar, Malo's voice and a knockout rhythm section:

With Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yoakam having released albums in 2012, this becomes the third very welcome "Nashville outsider" release in less than a year. The success of those three in the 90's always seemed like proof to me that talent this good can overcome an unwillingness to stick to "the formula" in country music, and gave me hope that more artists like them might make it onto the radio.

It hasn't been a secret that the Mavericks were back together - this welcome news was revealed early in 2012, and they even played downtown at the Nashville July 4 fireworks show. But to have a full album this good makes for a most welcome comeback... In Time is out this week - you can read more, listen or buy at these sites:

Mavericks Website

Mavericks Facebook

New Shoegaze Discovery: Deaf Club - "Break It Slow" and free 4-song sampler

London's Deaf Club is playing atmospheric guitar rock with shoegaze and New Wave influences and really pleasing female vocals. In places it calls to mind stuff like The Cure and Slowdive, or perhaps more to the point, the Cure with touches of maybe Mazzy Star in the vocals. This free EP consists of their recorded output to date - and three of the songs have gotten a decent amount of radio play in the UK (with good reason - it's well-made, polished stuff). They're coming over to the US for SXSW - and maybe they'll add a few more dates in advance of their new EP, due out in April.

Here's "Break It Slow":

The band consists of Polly Mackey (guitar, vocals), Jac Roberts (guitar), Paul Bates (bass), Tom Ryan (drums). Mackey's voice is terrific, and they play together like a much more experienced band - I think they have a lot more good stuff in them. Here's a link to the topspin site to download the full EP.

Deaf Club Facebook

REVIEW: Cool Serbia - Cool Serbia EP

Those that know me well -- wife, bartender #1, parole officer, bartender #2, psychiatrist, bartender #3 -- are aware of my periodic funks about the demise of The Jesus and Mary Chain.  Well, I just received the biggest mental pick-up of the year when the self-titled EP from Cool Serbia hit my in-box.  Born in Austin, Texas from past members of Ringo Deathstarr, International Waters and Low Line Caller, and incubated in Brooklyn, the band features massively loud jangling guitars, walls of distortion, arena-level echoing drums, laid back vocals and enough '60s riffs to justify the term "doom wop".  Can anyone have any complaints? Anyone?  In fact, I have one: We could have used twice as many songs.  Thank God for the replay button.

Here is the second track from the EP, "Kill Someone" --

Cool Serbia are Raz Khandpur, Renan McFarland and Caleb Harmon.

A live version of the lead track --

The EP is available on March 5.  Check the pre-order link on their Facebook page or go to the Bandcamp page on or after that date.

Twitter ( @CoolSerbia )

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New song "Stone" from Coasts

We introduced our readers to the pop anthem goodness of Bristol band Coasts about a month ago (link) when they announced their "Oceans" single.  They now have shared "Stone", which is to be the final track on their debut EP Paradise.  The EP will be available on April 29.

Twitter ( @coastsband )

REVIEW: Toy Love - Toy Love double LP

Brooklyn's Captured Tracks label has begun re-releasing the back catalog of the venerable New Zealand label, Flying Nun.  The first installment is a double LP of material from Toy Love.  The brief lifespan of Toy Love was January 1979, when it emerged from another Dunedin band, The Enemy, to September 1980.  But their output was sufficient to fill this 28-track compilation, which includes all of their A and B sides, their demos, a live track and a radio jingle.  The package is said to include a booklet, photos and other interesting material.

Who were they and why were they important?  Taking the second question first, they were an good pop band with punk elements, and an exciting live band.  Moreover, they were an inspiration for the musicians that founded the famous New Zealand indie scene and, specifically, the Flying Nun label and the "Dunedin sound".

 As for the "who", the band was fronted by Chris Knox, and the other members were Alec Bathgate (guitar), Paul Kean (bass), Mike Dooley (drums) and Jane Walker (keys).  Knox and Bathgate soldiered on as Tall Dwarfs.  Kean went on to be the bassist for The Bats.

The pre-orders begin shipping the week of February 25.

The true test is in the listening, isn't it.  So here is "Swimming Pool" for your evaluation --

"I Don't Mind", fusing punk and jangle pop --

Here is a live version of the compilation's opening track --

Captured Tracks - Page for Toy Love double LP

Monday, February 25, 2013

New Dream-Pop Discovery: Blondfire - "Where The Kids Are"

Big beats, big guitars and big synths backing big-sounding female vocals - it's a catchy combination. This is Blondfire - they released an EP in the fall with this as the title song:

And here's "Waves" - on this one you can definitely hear the influence of their Brazilian heritage (father is American, mother Brazilian, and they grew up listening to plenty of bossa nova along with rock and pop):

They are brother and sister Erica and Bruce Driscoll - he's the drummer and she contributes guitar, keyboards and, of course, those instantly recognizable vocals. They'll be at SXSW and on tour with AWOLNation, and a full album is due out later this spring on Warner Brothers. You can listen to more at their website, and it's got links to buy the music, plus tour info.

Blondfire Website

New Single from Jamaica's Courtney John Project -- "Black Cinderella"

I was pretty well blown away by the last song I heard from this collective of Jamaican artists back in October. I did a profile of them and their song "Soul of a Man" that heralds a new Island music style -- a mix of warm Kingston mash up and cool dubstep known as Rootstronic.

In advance of their forthcoming full-length album, Future, the Courtney John Project have released a new single, a mesmerizing reworking of Errol Dunkley's 1972 hit "Black Cinderella." About once a month I feel compelled to talk about how much I love cover songs, and about Husker Du's version of "Eight Miles High" and so on and so on, but I need to do it again here, because this is such a daring, yet loving, reinterpretation.  The original musical theme continues intact, but shares space with more aggressive percussion and a bracing splash of piano and electronics. Ultimately, I wonder if this could have been pulled off without a singer like Courtney John, who was born and reared in reggae, and who has the instincts and pure vocal chops that make this effort sound fully realized and authentic.

Word is there'll be some more good stuff from CJP hitting the wires before the album release, so keep watching this space. We'll also post an album release date soon.

Courtney John Project website
Courtney John Project on Twitter and Soundcloud

"Boy", the new single from The Deadline Shakes

We've been following Glasgow's promising young indie band The Deadline Shakes as they inch towards their debut LP.  First we covered  "Sweeten the Deal", and then their single "Don't Be Too Cool".  The latest installment is the excellent "Boy" , which will be released by Flowers In The Dustbin on March 18.

If you would like to experience the track in video form --

The Deadline Shakes are Greg Dingwall (guitar/vocals), Iain McKinstry (guitar/vocals), Martin McLeod (bass) and Thomas Booth (drums).

Twitter ( @DeadlineShakes )
Flowers in the Dustbin

REVIEW: Pissed Jeans -- Honeys

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Henry David Thoreau

* * * * * 
"You know, there's nothing better than making yourself dinner and watching Thursday night TV. Also, I just got a computer. And I'm fanatical about doing the laundry. There's nothing better than a stack of fresh, clean clothes. Except maybe a good movie. You know that creepy-looking guy you stare at two seats behind you, thinking, who would come to a movie by himself? That's me."

Brendan Frederick Shanahan

     I think the conventional wisdom is that Thoreau is talking about desperation borne of the mundane, the crushingly prosaic everyman problems of everyday existence; how they divert us from our natural state of pursuing the heroic, of seeking the divine. And although I expect he's right that this is the way most men lead their lives, Matt Korvette, lead singer for Allentown-born and Philadelphia-based punk rock band Pissed Jeans, takes a different path. The tedium, you see, is his muse. On their just released fourth album, Honeys, his desperation is thunderous. 

      And, as will become obvious if you do yourself the favor of buying and listening to this terrific album, there is no mimesis in the art of Pissed Jeans. This is the point of including the passage from Shanahan above instead of some fancypants William Carlos Williams poem like "The Red Wheelbarrow." Don't come to this looking for metaphor. To quote the contemporary philosopher Tyrone Willingham, "it is what it is." When Korvette sings about cafeteria food in the song "Cafeteria Food," he really means cafeteria food, and he really does hope his project manager dies of cancer, just like he says. When he sings about choosing a health plan on "Health Plan," he really is talking about his health plan, a health plan with zero approved doctors. As you can see for yourself, there's no reason to get all existential about it: 

This is the most accessible Pissed Jeans record so far, mainly because all the songs are compact, taut little bombs of furious ennui. There's no noodling around, no self-indulgence. You still hear the Jesus Lizard influence all over the place, but you'll also hear occasional Nirvana-ish hooks, like on "Vain in Costume," which is probably my current favorite:

So you might be thinking to yourself, "Matt Korvette's a freaking rock star; how can what he sings be authentic? What does he know about white collar hell?" The easy, smartass response would be, "Well, what does Elton John know about brawling on weekends? or Can Barry Manilow even locate Cuba on a map?" The truth, though, is even better (well, better is sort of a relative term here). You see, Matt Korvette is only a rock star at night. During the day, he's a Philadelphia insurance adjustor. That's right, he's in that most hellish of hells -- the insurance industry. Feel his pain, and buy his band's album (it's out on Sub Pop).

Here's the best video I've seen in a year. 

Visit Pissed Jeans on Facebook and at Sub Pop.

REVIEW: Eat Skull - III

As a self-appointed music writer, I'm careful to remind myself that as much as a learn, there is much I don't know about the current indie scene, and faking knowledge is a fool's game.  So I'll admit at the beginning of this post that I was unfamiliar with a group from a few hours south of here -- Eat Skull of Portland, Oregon.  And that unfamiliarity probably contributed to my failure to review the album III before February 19, which is the day it was released by Woodsist.  Happily, I remembered the album and listened to it carefully this week, and even more happily, I think that III is an excellent album.  I've read descriptions of the band's music as noise pop, lo-fi scuzz rock, and a precursor to tinnitus. That may be more true of their prior two LPs but, as a breed, III is really a garage pop adventure of very high quality.  Sure, you can hear the muscle in the guitars from time to time, but the emphasis here is an boisterous, slightly ramshackle, pop tunes.  You can sample the album via the two tracks below --

Other favorites of mine on III include "Dead Horses" and "Catch Em Before They Vanish".

The album has a GBV DIY feel, but that isn't a negative for those of us on this blog.  Eat Skulls shows great breadth and imagination in entertaining us, but when restraint is needed, it is there.  Give it a try.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

REVIEW: Mount Moriah - Miracle Temple

Mount Moriah is Heather McEntire (vocals and guitar), Jenks Miller (guitar) and Casey Toll (bass). Their new album is Miracle Temple - and it is deep, soulful, gorgeous and completely arresting. It demands and rewards your full attention. At the outset, I feel a need to mention that, though they're not credited as band members, the album would certainly not be as full without the contributions of James Wallace on drums, piano and organ, Daniel Hart on violin and Allyn Love on pedal steel. At various points throughout the album, Wallace's drumming, Love's pedal steel or Hart's sweet strings supply absolutely essential transitions.

But of course the core of the band is McEntire, Miller and Toll - there are other players involved, but these three are the songwriters, and the overriding components of Mount Moriah's sound are McEntire's vocals and Miller's guitars. They've hit on what is, to my ears at least, an unbeatable combination: an evocative, memorable voice that sounds as if it was born to sing country songs and some of the best Southern rock guitar licks outside of an Allmans or Crazy Horse record.

This is a joyful, at times achingly beautiful record - it is almost overwhelming in places, it's so good. You'll find yourself bobbing your head in time, swaying along with McEntire's singing and leaning in to follow Miller through a guitar line that goes to familiar, yet unexpected places - for example, I absolutely love the echoes of Dickey Betts' playing on "Blue Sky" that kick in about 3:00 into "Eureka Springs"... though it seems unfair to single out one such moment on an album that is absolutely bursting with them. I mentioned Hart's violin - check out "I Built a Town" - the guitar is a bit understated, and this has the effect of allowing the strings to ramp up the emotion, into another heart-tugging McEntire vocal. On "White Sands", the guitars are just ragged enough to contrast with her light, beautiful singing (and Indigo Girl Amy Ray's gospel-tinged backing vocals).

Here is opening track "Younger Days" - a great start, and an apt example of the way McEntire's crystal-clear phrasing and Miller's guitar tones intertwine:

And here's "Bright Light" - a glorious Southern rock song with some wonderful piano from the aforementioned James Wallace:

The record is out February 26 on Merge. If this is not in my top five at the end of 2013, it will have been a year like no other. And if you have ever liked Southern rock, you are gonna want this thing.

SXSW Preview: Diarrhea Planet

Last year at SXSW, Patrick Stickles of the world's greatest rock and roll band, Titus Andronicus, suggested that we go see a band called Diarrhea Planet from Nashville, TN.  When it comes to SXSW, I don't trust the music advice of many people outside my immediate circle of trusted advisors (namely the guys on this site, my Dad, and The Midgetmen), but Patrick is about as knowledgeable as it gets regarding rock and roll (and most other things remotely related thereto), so I had to check them out.

Despite being worn out from three-days of strenuous and healthy exercise (Hi kids, nice to know you are reading Daddy's blog entries), I, along with the aforementioned Midgetmen, went out into the blinding Saturday at noon Austin sun and rolled into the dark, dank, and stanky concrete block prison that is Beerland to see our first show of the last day of SXSW 2012.  Right before the show started, a guy strolled in and bought two beers, which were served to him with the caps removed, as they always are in every bar I have ever visited.  But he was a rambler and only wanted them capped and to go!  In fact, he wanted to go so badly that he chugged his first beer, gave his extra beer to me, and left.  This was an omen.

Forty-five minutes later, I was completely rejuvenated and was a Diarrhea Planet fan.  Rarely, if ever, have I seen a bunch of guys have more fun pummeling a crowd of 12 people and each other with guitar madness.  Not unlike the the Andrew W.K. set a few days earlier, it was almost too much Rock to comprehend.  So many guitars, so much power, so much fun.

Like this:

and this:

If you like your rock and roll served up loud, with a huge side of fun, check out Diarrhea Planet.  Here are a few more tracks and their super nice video for "Warm Ridin'."

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