Saturday, April 20, 2013

New Garage Punk Discovery: Eight Knives - Maiden Names

If you're familiar with the music in Nashville and Memphis, you're aware that there are terrific garage rock/punk bands in both cities. For your information, it's statewide... Here's some hard rocking garage punk from Chattanooga's Eight Knives. They've recently released their debut album Maiden Names - it's available at iTunes and you can listen to the streams on Bandcamp or Soundcloud, with a vinyl release scheduled for sometime in May. For now, you can download the single "Levels & Lovers" for free. Here's a video of them performing it live:

And here's the track, with the download option:

Here's one of my favorite cuts, "Tokyo Poison" - the right combination of punk energy, blues-rock swagger and the added touch of a lilting ska rhythm:

This is really terrific stuff - recorded in Nashville at Battle Tapes Recording. And one last thing: if you like this music and would like to see them on the bill at Bonnaroo, you can actually help make that happen. Go to this link and vote: Eight Knives Bonnaroo Vote. Power to the people.

Friday, April 19, 2013

New Lo-Fi Synth Dreampop Discovery: The Tablets - "Vladimir" from The Tablets, due in June

The Tablets is a one-woman project of Liz Godoy, and it's both catchy and unusual. She incorporates a lot of familiar pop moves - the punk backbeat on some of the cuts, the fuzzy, sort of shoegaze guitar which almost (but not quite) overwhelms the vocals - but she approaches it from a slightly different angle, incorporating more synths and electronic beats than is usual in this type of dream pop. She's originally from Mexico (though a resident of Brooklyn now), and incorporates some Mexican dance/pop influences, too... It's a very interesting combination.

Check it out for yourself - here's a video of "Vladimir":

And here's the title track:

A new video is promised each week in April - and again, the album (with an accompanying live EP) is scheduled for June 4.

The Tablets Website

Crystal Shipsss - Crystal Shipsss EP

Crystal Shipsss is the project of Berlin based Dane Jacob Faurholt.  The music is charming idiosyncratic noise pop and psychedelia, and it is embodied in his new, five-track self-titled EP.  The first track is the poppy "Where the Wild Things Are" (You Tube below).  "Crushing Like A Skull" slows the tempo and takes the listener to the more psychedelic side.  We head back into noise pop territory for the fine third song, "Listening to Devil Town", which is available for streaming below.

Track four is the lovely "Dusty Vinyls".  The EP closes strong with "Night of the Creeps", my favorite song on the record.

Jacob is assisted by William Kudahl Sørensen and Evelyn Marie Malinowski.  The Crystal Shipsss EP is available on May 6 via Three Ring Records in the US and Raw Onion Records and Mouca in Europe.

Jacob previously released two records, one a 10" vinyl/digital and the other a in the cassette/digital format.  You can try "Un Huh" from a previous release here --

An LP entitled Dirty Dancer is planned for September release.

Three Ring Records
Raw Onion Records

New EP from September Girls

As we follow Dublin's September Girls from label to label, writing about each tasty slice of fuzzy guitar pop, the ladies might suspect that we are stalking them.  Let me put that little matter to rest -- we are stalking them (just enter their name in the site search box, and the evidence is striking).  But only in a music journalistic sense, not a creepy sense.  And we have a zero phone hacking policy (at least until our IT department stops playing video games and does some work).

The latest installment is the two-track Talking EP, released April 22 on Cork City's Art For Blind label.  It is available on vinyl with a download code.  The A-side is an organ driven garage tune, while the B-side is a hooky pop-oriented song.  Which is best?  You don't have to choose.

Bandcamp link for EP

Friday Nuggets - "Nobody But Me", The Human Beinz

Boasting didn't start with hip hop. The Isley Brothers in 1962 had a minor hit with "Nobody But Me", which was reworked in 1968 by The Human Beinz, a garage band from Youngstown Ohio.

This is a garage rock/blue eyed soul classic. Kids all over the US and UK would count the number of "no"s in the opening after the distinctive drum with guitar reverb intro. It also worked in all the popular dances of the day (shing-a-ling, skate, boogaloo etc.) much like Wilson Pickett's 1966 soul classic "Land of 1000 Dances". The Human Beinz became on of the great one-hit wonders of the 60's.

And if the song alone weren't enough, the icing on cake is this Addams Family TV show video (her name is Carolyn Jones by the way):

Thursday, April 18, 2013

RIP Scott Miller - The Game Theory, Loud Family

Indie pop lost one of its seminal artists today when Scott Miller died. His bands Game Theory (1980s-1990s) and Loud Family (1990s-2000s) didn't sell millions of records, but they had fanatic, devoted followings and a major influence on other bands.  

And more than just an artist, Scott Miller was a fan. If you want to know anything about music from 1965-1999, here's a great place to start:

I could repeat Scott Miller's history but here's a great summary: 

Scott Miller died way too young, and this is a sad day in a very sad week.

"Hustle", by Law Holt

One of the greatest joys about writing for an indie music site is discovering an artist that not only was unknown to you, but probably isn't widely known generally.  Such is the case with Edinburgh artist Lauren Holt, who performs under the name Law Holt.  What I do know is that on "Hustle", she reveals an intriguing talent, as well as providing a striking visual twist in the accompanying video.  She also is associated with the talented gents Young Fathers, whose Tape One LP was reviewed here in January (link).  I think good things are emerging from the Edinburgh scene.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013


It is Wednesday and time stray from the straight and narrow - a place my fellow posters have only a passing experience with - and take a sonic road less traveled.  Here is the weekly aural push in the back from our friends at Reverberation Radio.  It starts with Keith of 98.6 fame.  Keith was the real thing and a guilty pleasure for me - guilty pleasure shared with Frank Zappa.  Zappa signed Keith to a recording contract after Keith left Mercury Records. Use this playlist as the starting point on a treasure hunt with guaranteed treasures.

Introducing: Beaches

Ali, Al, Antonia, Karla and Gil comprise Melbourne's Beaches.  They have been together for several years and have toured the US a couple of times.  Oh, and their Facebook page states that they like beer, which may mean they are related to me.  Beaches' sophomore album She Beats will be released on May 3 by Australian label Chapter Music.

"Send Them Away" is crunchy power pop while "Distance" is more shoegaze.  Both suggest good things for the album.

Chapter Music

Playlist March 2013 - When You Motor Away

We have culled the wheat from the chaff.  455 curated picks for you listening pleasure in March; over 1,000 for this first quarter of 2013. More than reason enough to check out free Spotify.

New Folk/Pop Discovery: k.s. Rhoads - "Orphaned" from The Wilderness EP

I've really been enjoying the music of Nashville's k.s. Rhoads - he's got a big sound and a good voice. And though I don't usually get too concerned with the lyrics, he can sure turn a phrase. Sample lyric:

We work ourselves wretched for one old wood coffin,
if life doesn't get you, love will finish you off

Though the voice is not the same, he reminds me a bit of Billy Bragg. Some very pleasing music combined with some very serious, maybe subversive lyrics. Here's the video for "Orphaned":

Here's another track from the album, "Harvest":

It's creative stuff - the beats, the string interlude, the whistling all combine with his vocals to make a sound that is both catchy and lasting. On other tracks, the piano and vocal are accented, and his songcraft and voice carry those, too. The EP is The Wilderness, and it's available now (released Mar. 8). A couple of free song downloads are available at his website, as well as more info about previous releases.

k.s. Rhoads Website

New Guided by Voices singles: "Noble Insect", "Waves of Gray" and "See You Soon"

Guided by Voices has released the fifth single from English Little League -- "Noble Insect" is a hypnotic Pollard vocal (repeating a mantra "Japan" and variations thereon) over a similarly hypnotic and sort of creamy Sprout instrumental. The result is, predictably, hypnotic. 

In keeping with the other singles in this series, Tobin's got billing just about equal to Pollard - on this one the Sprout number is a pretty piano song: "Waves of Gray".

Finally, there's a Pollard 1:30 nugget - raw, featuring piano and vocals that are lovingly "messed-with" rather than polished. The song's called "See You Soon" - a fitting title from our hero, who's finally going to unleash the entirety of English Little League on the world April 30. 

Can't hardly wait. I'm not sure which is the greater pleasure: getting five singles (plus B-sides) in advance of the record, or the anticipation itself...

Buy at GBV Digital or iTunes, you know where that is.

Single Release - Stone Gossard

Everyone loves Pearl Jam for many reasons, not least among them the great guitar sounds and chords of Stone Gossard.
Well good news - Gossard has a solo record Moonlander coming out in June and there's a stream  available of the single "I Want Something Different" here at Pearl Jam's web page:
Stone Gossard - Moonlander

Another Seattle favorite of ours Pete Droge played on the record and assisted with production. Various Seattle rock royalty like Matt Chamberlain and Matt Cameron also appear.

Every week. another song will be available to stream at the the link above.
Worth keeping an eye on.


REVIEW: Sound 'n' Pressure Story (various artists)

Turn off your phone, block out some time on your calendar and grab your headphones.  It is time to experience the Sound 'n' Pressure Story.  Even without knowing the history, this album is a treat simply for the aural pleasure provided by these stellar digital roots and dub tracks.  The production is crisp and the bass bottomless.  But I think you'll appreciate the collection even more when you realize that these tracks have been hotly sought for some time, and have never before been so available.

The tracks on the Sound 'n' Pressure Story emerged from the digital dub movement in Britain that began in the late '80s.  The instigator was DJ Anthony Cummins (also credited as TC Bassman, Tony C and TC Montana), joined by friends and reggae fans Mark Evans (Suffurah) Adam Holden (Fish) and Hamish Brown (All Nation Rocker).  They released four 12" singles, and had a fifth ready to go when the project ground to a halt due to lack of funds and other distractions.

This compilation includes all the finished tracks from the label, the dub plate "No Man Curse" and its dub version, and a song Tony wrote for a movie soundtrack -- "Theme From 'Move The Posts'".  All the tracks have been remastered and the sound quality is superb.   I've included a few of my favorite tracks to provide you with a sample of the quality.  You also can stream the album at the Bandcamp link below.  As I've written before about Reggae Archive Records, they have great taste and provide excellent music that you just cannot find elsewhere.  It doesn't matter whether you had been familiar with this period of UK reggae, if you like dub roots reggae, this compilation is essential.

The album was released on March 11, 2013 in CD, vinyl and digital formats by Reggae Archive Records.  Use either of the links below.

Reggae Archive Records

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

REVIEW: Street Gnar - Kenwicked

Street Gnar is Lexington, KY resident Case Mahan. Kenwicked is named after the Kenwick neighborhood in Lexington, where he records and resides. It's a bewitching record - hypnotic and washed-out, with some mellow bass, guitar and electronic drum sounds, and with Mahan's quiet, treated vocals achieving a sort of bluesy quality in places. He's got a tremendous sense of melody, too.

Here's "Double R, G":

And here's a long, really pretty instrumental, "Curves" - in places reminiscent of The Cars, but much more mellow and stretched-out. He gets into a pleasing groove, and just sort of plays it in a repeating loop, while playing some subtly different guitar lines at two different levels (at least I think those are guitars):

And the title cut, the last song on the record, another terrific instrumental that starts out in a sort of quiet krautrock groove, building upon a quietly insistent bass line that, frankly, is its own reward:

Mahan's clearly got a talent for taking some small hook and building it into a theme, and then a full song that draws you in and makes you want to just hit "repeat". You can buy it at the Bandcamp page by clicking through any of the tracks above, or you can visit Gnar Tapes' website.

New video from Bwani Junction

Edinburgh's Bwani Junction is preparing their sophomore LP, and they are releasing the track "Civil Wars" as a single.  In this video you'll learn that the civil war refers to domestic trouble incurred by lead singer Rory.  The other three members of the band -- Dan, Fergus and Jack -- play roles in the video as well.  The video is fun, and the song is a great bit of guitar pop that whets our appetite for the album.


REVIEW: The Greyboy Allstars - Inland Emperor

California jazz/funk veterans The Greyboy Allstars have released their fifth album, Inland Emperor. The band consists of original members Karl Denson, Robert Walter, Elgin Park and Chris Stillwell, plus Aaron Redfield. Denson plays the saxophone, and it really ends up being the centerpiece of a lot of this record, including the first track "Profundo Grosso" - a funk/jazz/rock track that makes me smile and think of the Zappa classic "Peaches en Regalia".

The second track, though, is centered around a very good falsetto vocal performance by John Bigham -"The Bitch Inside Me". But it's back to the sax for track three - "Multiplier", which could almost be a Steely Dan cut, except I don't recall any of their horn parts ever sounding like Denson's sax on this one.

Here's "Better Get A Jump On It" - a deep groove contrasted with some whimsical blips and pops and some almost robotic vocals:

There are vocal and instrumental tracks, and equal weight is given to both. "Old Crow" features terrific vocal harmonies and a groove that wouldn't be out of place on an old Crusaders record. "Bomb Pop" is a 6-plus minute instrumental where the rhythm section underpins horn and guitar excursions that nearly fly out of control, but somehow stay connected to the groove. Not surprisingly given that each band member has impressive credits of his own, there's variety in instrumentation, variety in composition and leads, and variety in song length - all of which contribute to make this album one that grows with each listen. Capping it all off is an interesting juxtaposition: the longest track on the album, the pensive, almost psychedelic soul of "Diminishing Blackness" followed by the rocking, rollicking "Trashtruck" - which makes a statement with guitars and keyboards over top of a heavy rhythm section, and backing some of Denson's wildest sax work.

The best thing about this album, to me, is that it consists of 11 very good songs - songs that are capable of standing on their own over the 40 minutes-plus of this record. One can imagine each of them serving as a taking-off point for plenty of jazz improvisation, and the Greyboy Allstars are certainly capable of that, but even if you don't have a chance or the inclination to see them live, you get a full dose with Inland Emperor.

REVIEW: The Laurels - Plains

If you are one of the many pop music fans welcoming the resurgence or psychedelic shoegaze, Sydney, Australia's The Laurels are offering the next important installment.  Their debut album, Plains, was released in Australia last year, but it is getting its US release in advance of the band's appearance at Austin's Psych Fest later this month.  I can think of no better introduction than the opening track, the appropriately titled "Tidal Wave" --

What is evident from the music is that the brand of shoegaze performed by The Laurels is a good several notches upstream from the shoegaze standards in terms of complexity, variety and intensity.  The songs range from dreamy to menacing to drone psychedelia to stoner rock.  But the muscular guitars don't come at the expense of melody and a solid rhythm foundation.  Moreover, unlike the stage presence of original shoegaze bands whose onstage demeanor gave name to the genre, The Laurels are known as dynamic performers.  In fact, they once were nominated best live act in Australia.

The Laurels are Piers Cornelius (guitar and vocals), Luke O'Farrell (guitar and vocals), Conor Hannan (bass) and Kate Wilson (drums).  Plains is out now on the Rice Is Nice label.

Twitter ( @theelaurels )

Monday, April 15, 2013

New video from Ski Lodge

The New York band Ski Lodge has been on my mind a bit lately, as every one of the few tracks I've heard have been very good.  We featured them twice recently (here and here).  Below is the new video for their track "Just To Be Like You" --


REVIEW: Father Sculptor - Faith & Violence EP

It takes an impressive bit of musical agility to sound both retro and fresh, but it is a skill that Father Sculptor has been flashing since they first started leaking tracks about 13 months ago.  One can break down the song components to '80s synth and guitar bands, The Smiths and others.  But in my view that is a bit of a 'can't see the forest for the trees' venture.  The important point is that this band displays an undeniable gift for dramatic, even cinematic pop songs, featuring authoritative basslines, thundering percussion, soaring tapestries of keys and guitars and one of the most compelling and emotive vocalists working the indie stages.  The songs are on a grand sonic scale, seemingly too big to be confined by walls, but still manage to convey intimacy.

Father Sculptor was founded in Glasgow (some or all of the members may be in Manchester or London now).  They released singles over the course of the spring and summer of 2012, and compiled them in the VI EP last fall.  Today, they are unleashing the Faith & Violence EP on their own label -- IX Hispana Records.  The record is comprised of five tracks that convincingly announce that this band deserves your attention.  It begins with the mid-tempo "Basilica", a memorable track that begins with grand musical statements and then transitions to a lovely but melancholy song.  The second track, Sault, is seemingly a brighter affair, featuring an upbeat, calypso rhythms and jangling guitar.  But the lyrics tell a different story, apparently questioning the worth of striving to attain love --

The melancholy aural palate and slower pace returns for the stately "The Swim".  Its lush soundscape envelopes a core of sadness.  A fine track in its own right, it serves as a foundation for the increased pace and intensity of the following two songs.

And then there is "Lowlands" which, in addition to likely being the best song on the EP, is featured in a video that wins our 2013 award for the most creative use of a sweetened breakfast cereal in a music video starring pretty women in underwear (and if you don't think that is a real award, you fail to understand both out artistic interest in pretty women in underwear and our long-time affection for breakfast).

"Swallowed in Dreams" is, for me, the perfect closing track for this record.  With its throbbing bass, ringing guitar and swooning vocals it seems to sum up what Father Sculptor is about.  There may be sadness and regret in the lyrics, but it all sounds quite triumphant.

Father Sculptor is Thomas David (vocals), Felix Bucklow (drums), Joseph Bucklow (guitars), Philip Hunter (bass), Matthew Mellor (keyboard and vocals).  Faith & Violence EP is available on vinyl (the limited edition version of the vinyl is already sold out) and digital download.  Hit the Bandcamp link below for details.

You may note that the band's releases are accompanied by excellent artwork, which is produced by drummer Felix Bucklow.

Bandcamp for Faith & Violence EP
IX Hispana Records
Bandcamp for prior EP ("VI")

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New NYC Punk Discovery: Pedico - "Nixon Now"

If you like punk rock, you will love the music of Pedico - fast, loud and melodic, it embodies the best qualities of the punk/surf/beach aesthetic you will remember from all-time great punk rockers like The Ramones. It's built on some terrific drumming - especially on the first two tracks - fast guitars and tight vocal harmonies, and these guys do the loud, fast punk thing quite well.

Here's "Nixon Now", which gets it done in 1:34. As Mama Ramone's boys once proved, if you can get it done in a minute or so, why hang around any longer?

And here's "Bachelor Pad" - for a change of pace, they spend a little time in the lo-fi grunge area (think Wavves, Ty Segall) before heading back to Ramones territory for the chorus:

This record is a freaking delight - get it now.

One more - a little out of season, maybe, but tell me you don't have room for a punk version of a Chuck Berry Christmas song.

New Power-Pop Discovery: The Almighty Rhombus - The Almighty Rhombus EP

The Almighty Rhombus is a Canadian power-pop group from Sudbury, Ontario, but they play music that makes you think of warmer places - or at least warmer times. This five-song self-titled EP is pure pop, catchy and very enjoyable. Here's "She Didn't Want Me" - a happy video full of sausages and face-plants to accompany a super-poppy song:

And here's "Even Though" - a little more upbeat, bouncier:

They've made the EP available for "name your price" at Bandcamp for the next few days, I'd advise grabbing a copy while the price is so reasonable. 

Here's another video for a song from a previous release, "Standoff" - love the interplay between the piano and the guitar riffs starting about 1:30 in:

Introducing Deathcats!

Deathcats!  sounds like it could be a death metal band.  In fact, it appears to be three university students from in and around Glasgow who make rough and ready garage/surf rock songs.  There are hooks, melody, energy and a fair bit of focused noise.  In other words, they have a recipe that we are quite willing to consume.  I don't know if it is because they are dodging the landlord or it is a fashion statement, but they perform in balaclavas.  Deathcats! -- James, Harv and Scott -- expect to have an EP ready this summer.  Presumably, they also will have some summer weight balaclavas (perhaps in a nice seersucker fabric?).

The first three songs that Deathcats! wrote are enshrined in Shred or Dead!, which was released last October.  The songs are good, and they are free, so you might want to visit the Bandcamp link and become a cat owner.  If you want to try them first, here is track two, "I Know I Say I Love Being Single (But I Cry Myself To Sleep When I Think About You)" --