Saturday, May 4, 2013

Overseas is a WYMA Supergroup!!! S/T album due out June 11 - pre-order (and buy download) now

Overseas is Will Johnson of Centro-matic, David Bazan (formerly Pedro the Lion) and Matt and Bubba Kadane (The New Year, Bedhead). Having raved about Bazan's most recent solo record Strange Negotiations (WYMA review here), and pretty much everything Johnson, Centro-matic and South San Gabriel have released (example: my 2011 Top 25 here), I am far from partial on this matter... but your independent research for this record will be simple and pleasant. Bazan and Johnson each take five vocals, and the songs are wonderful.

Fortunately for you, it's possible to visit their website now and hear one song from each: "Ghost to Be" from Johnson, which is slow-building and majestic (somewhat reminiscent of Mogwai) with vocals that, as always with him, get right to the heart; and "Down Below" from Bazan, which is upbeat, with some pretty aggressive guitars and his distinctive vocals.

Here's a video for "Ghost to Be":

This video was done by Kevin McAlester, who directed the Roky Erickson documentary You're Gonna Miss Me.

The physical cd/lp will be out June 11, but you can pre-order and get a download right now.

Buy at Undertow Music Collective

Friday, May 3, 2013

Val Ventura - new video for "Sun Down California"

Val Ventura is a LA-based singer/songwriter playing a very cool take on punk-pop. We recently featured "Sun Down California" - I especially love the staccato guitar/lyric interplay in the chorus. And here's a unique lyric video released to accompany the track:

Here's another track off the 3-song EP, "Forgotten":

REVIEW: Beaches - She Beats

Ahhh, these Beaches, they are fine Beaches!  They have something that will keep you moving, keep you pounding and leave you wanting more.  They ... [OK, this line of imagery could affect my year-end bonus and my editor is glaring at me.  What a grump -- he's probably never experienced any good beaches.] ...

Quite simply put, Melbourne's Beaches should be huge.  Their sophomore album, She Beats, emerges roaring out rock and roll's universal sweet spot.  Tightly constructed and multi-layered psychedelic and progressive rock with bold riffs and pounding percussion, but with enough hooks to avoid scaring the children.  Why aren't they huge?  I suppose living in the southern hemisphere has something to do with it.  The length of time between their first and second album may be a factor as well.  But the bottom line is that is you love the varied textures on offer from electric guitars handled by musicians with 'the gift', this is an album you cannot ignore.

Here is one of the poppier songs, which is included here both because of its quality, and because the video is wonderful.

And the stream version --

The breadth of the tracks on She Beats is impressive.  The band is as confident laying down prog rock riffs and venturing into Krautrock rhythms as they are with the psychedelic sounds for which they are known.  And while I'm not ordinarily drawn to instrumentals, "Granite Snake" has earned repeated plays from me.

"Distance" is one of the more shoegaze tracks from She Beats --

Beaches are Ali, Al, Antonia, Karla and Gil.  They were formed several years ago.  She Beats was produced by Jack Farley, of Twerps and Scott & Charlene's Wedding.  The album is out now on Chapter Music.

Twitter ( @Beachesband )
Chapter Music
Chapter Music on Tumblr

Friday Nuggets - "Open Up Your Door", Richard and the Young Lions

This is one of those beloved songs of my youth that has stayed with me, transporting me right back to being that 10 year old kid in Detroit discovering rock'n'roll, listening to the hits on the mega-watt Canadian radio station CKLW.

Richard and the Young Lions, from New Jersey, like many garage rock hitmakers from the '60's, were a classic one hit wonder band. "Open Up Your Door" was a regional chart-topper in New Jersey, Detroit, Cleveland and a few other markets, and is a big favorite of Little Steven's. I would wager that  young Bruce Springsteen never changed the station when this song came on the radio.

This video further takes me back to my adolescence as it comes from the Windsor/Detroit TV show Swingin' Time, which aired in the late afternoon and was hosted by legendary local DJ Robin Seymour ("The Bird"). I probably saw this when it aired in 1966.

"Open Up Your Door":

The Soul Corner - "What A Man" Linda Lyndell

We promised we would bring back the Soul Corner on occasion and here's our first one of 2013.

What triggered this is the fine current Australian film The Sapphires that features a terrific rendition of "What A Man", which sent me back looking for the 1968 Stax Records Linda Lyndell original, produced by Isaac Hayes:

All I can say is what a jam, what a jam, what a mighty good soul jam!

But until researching this today, I did not know that Linda Lyndell was white, endured all kinds of death threats from the KKK and others, and never performed the song live until 2003 at a Stax Records anniversary event. Did you know that there was a white girl from Gainesville, Florida who could hold her own with the best soul singers of the late '60's?

And here's the Sapphires film version:

Many of you may know the song from being the basis of the Salt-N-Pepa remake "Whatta Man" from 1993:


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Introducing: Magic Eye

Magic Eye is an Edinburgh four-piece that is collecting a fair amount of praise of late for their gorgeous, otherworldly dream pop.  It really seems simple - a steadfast timekeeper, delicate intertwined guitars and heart-melting vocals.  But we all know that hitting that sweet spot is all two rare, and this band does it.  The band has a cassette named Shredding on Heaven's Floor out now on Animal Image Search.  Two of the tracks are presented here, "Flamin Teenage" and "Japan" --

Here is a live performance of their song "Golden Circle".

Magic Eye - Golden Circle from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.

Magic Eye are Alex Johnston (guitar), Bek Oliva (guitar), Roma Galloway (vocals) and Francis Dosoo (drums).

Animal Image Search

REVIEW: Cosmonaut On Vacation - Let the Moment Land

Let the Moment Land, by Cosmonaut on Vacation, is an incredibly fun, amusement park of an album -- a confident, swaggering collection of '60s garage rock psychedelia and California space rock.  It rocks, shreds, echos, gets contemplative ("We Could Use A High Horse") and stretches out a seven minute instrumental jam ("Hallo(w) Gallo(w)").  The studio work, which I suspect is significant for an album like this, is excellent, and the entire proceeding benefits from that element that can be key, but often is forgotten:  A big dose of old fashioned rock attitude.

 Cosmonaut On Vacation is a product of the fertile Birmingham, Alabama scene, and was formed by former Through the Sparks and Stateside member Greg Slamen.  Through the Sparks seems to be on hold, but this album and Nelson's album under the name Dorado from earlier this year suggests that TTS' hiatus may prove to be a boon for us music fans.

Let the Moment Land is out now on This Is American Music.

This Is American Music

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Introducing: Sea Pinks

Belfast's Sea Pinks is the project of Neil Brogan, who also is the drummer for Belfast band Girls Names.  And he has help from his Girls Names buddies, as Neil moves to the guitar and mic, Clair Miskimmin moves to the drum kit and Girls Names frontman Cathal Cully moves to bass.  The band delivers achingly perfect jangle pop and moodier indie rock, and really should be much better known.  As a get acquainted offer (we must admit that we had nothing to do with it), you can download a new track below.

Sea Pinks has released three albums.  Freak Waves was released in October 2012, and if you are an indie pop fan, you owe it to yourself to try and find a copy.  There is a bit of a '60s British invasion vibe, a bit of a beach boys vibe, and maybe a bit of the Dunedin sound.  Overall, an infectious mix.

The band's second album is Dead Seas, which was released in September 2011.

The first album is Youth is Wasted, released in the fall of 2010.

CF Records

Reverberation #60

It's Wednesday and time to lock your ears on another tasty edition of my favorite regular curated playlist - Reverberation Radio,  The first cut is from the soundtrack of the eponymous movie "Werewolves on Wheels."  The movie was an outdoor theater fixture in the mid 70's.  I saw it at the Starlite along with "Revenge of the Cheerleaders".  To be perfectly honest, I remember little of the movie and even less about the soundtrack. My overriding memory is that the werewolves would have been no match for the cheerleaders.  The Ceyleib People include a youthful Ry Cooder.  John Martyn was an acoustic guitar god. Decades of alcoholism and addiction prevented him from achieving true greatness.  

Enjoy a 32 minute sonic break from your work-a-day world.

Night Beds - "Ramona" from Country Sleep - and Summer US Tour Information

Night Beds is Nashville resident Winston Yellen, and he's just released his debut album Country Sleep. He's got a terrific voice, and is making gentle country rock that really showcases his singing. It's a bit reminiscent of solo Jim James, a gentler version of My Morning Jacket. I would say anybody who enjoys The Shins and Fleet Foxes ought to check this out.

Here's "Ramona" - it just sounds like a hit to me, with the upbeat intro, the gently layered vocals in the quiet chorus, and the way it builds back up to a full country-rock sound. Just beautiful:

Here's an amazing vocal by Yellen - "Even If We Try":

And a download of "22" is available via the label, Dead Oceans - click here.

Night Beds will be making their way around the country, starting with a show in Nashville at the Mercy Lounge May 24 - full tour information here.

Night Beds at Dead Oceans

Night Beds Facebook

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Guitar-Pop Discovery: Fire Island Pines - 1915 EP

Fire Island Pines is a six-piece band from Cornwall, UK playing a style of guitar pop that, whether upbeat pop tunes or slower ballads, is all light and catchy - guitar-based, but with some nice horns thrown in for added brightness. The vocals call to mind Lloyd Cole, which is a definite plus to me. They've just released a 3-song EP and it is perfect summer pop. Check out the first track, "1915" - I love the way it opens with a single guitar line, then just completely opens up wide and bright:

Here's the second track, "Midwest" - this one's a little more understated, the guitars and the horns more muted, and whereas it builds up to a fuller guitar sound, it even has a full stop in the middle whereafter it changes to a sort of sad ballad again, then builds back up only to fade out. Extremely well-crafted:

And, finally, "Cherry Grove" - a little more upbeat, with some tension/release on the guitars:

I'm impressed - they have a way with a pop hook on guitar, horns and vocals - and looking forward to a full album's worth from these guys. This three-track EP is available on Manic Pop! Records in the US or you can buy the digital download or order an orange vinyl directly from the band over there: Fire Island Pines Bandcamp. Go over to the right on the Bandcamp link, and they've got one of their previous releases, Bratislava EP, available for free download.

REVIEW: Burnt Ones - You'll Never Walk Alone

You'll Never Walk Alone, the sophomore LP from San Francisco's Burnt Ones doesn't bother to choose whether it is garage, glam or psychedelic album.  It is all three, in varying degrees depending on the track.  It also is an album that is thematically introspective and dark, but generally vibrant musically.  It starts out with the stately 80 seconds of "Glitter Death", but then kicks into gear with "Web" psychedelic song featuring a bouncy bass line.  The garage/glam strain gets even stronger with "Freak In The Fog", then turns a bit more psychedelic again with "Hologram Dropouts" and "Vision Forever".  But the glam that always is bubbling at least near the surface takes center stage in standout track "Fountain of Youth" --

"Clock" is a glorious, triumphant slice of glittery psych-pop.  Then "I Care - I Don't Care" takes the glittery psych-pop and layers on a bit of bubblegum.  "Getting Brighter Blues" and "Country Mouth Honey" have quieter moments, but never leave behind the confident drums and bass, chunky guitar riffs or soaring harmonies.  The album closes with the "Move On", an excellent tune performed at a slow tempo but which always seems ready to bust loose.

It seems to me that in infusing life into the San Francisco garage scene Burnt Ones have added some spice from the T. Rex and Mott the Hoople section of the cupboard.  And from the vantage point of my listening chair, the choice of seasoning seems inspired.  I'm a garage rock fan, but I must admit that often a garage rock album is as good as it is going to get in the first listen.  The varied textures and quality songwriting of You'll Never Walk Alone result in a garage rock album that allows for increased appreciation with repeated listens.

Burnt Ones are Mark Tester, Amy Crouch and Brian Allen.  You'll Never Walk Alone is out today on Burger Records.

Burger Records

Preview: Joseph Arthur "All The Old Heroes" (from upcoming LP "Ballad Of Boogie Christ")

Joseph Arthur writes gorgeous folk-rock songs with terrific lyrics. His work over 9 full length CDs and a host of EPs is uniformly strong.

But if this advance track from his upcoming CD Ballad of Boogie Christ (due June 11 on the Lonely Astronauts label) is an indicator of things to come, we could be looking at one of 2013's best releases.  And we certainly now have one of the most effective videos I've seen in quite awhile.

"All the Old Heroes":

Play this video 2-3 times and elevate your spirit. I can't get enough of this song!

If you aren't familiar with the music from this Akron Ohio native, now residing in New York, there's a free (!) download of his 24 song LP Redemption City available here: Redemption City.

Artist web page:

Monday, April 29, 2013

REVIEW: Guided by Voices - English Little League

By now, especially if you pay attention to the comings and goings of Robert Pollard and Guided by Voices, you may have already heard 5 of the 17 tracks on English Little League, and you're wondering what kind of sonic delights GbV have given us to accompany them. You won't be disappointed. 

The opening track is "Xeno Pariah" - one of the previously released singles that's jangly and short and sweet. It's a classic Pollard guitar pop track with at least two expansive yet economical guitar lines and bass/drum work that's perfectly-played - in and out in 2:03, almost before you can shake your head and wonder, again, how the hell he keeps coming up with these:

And, as on albums like Alien Lanes, it melts into the following track "Know Me As Heavy", which features slurred vocals from both Sprout and Pollard over meandering guitar lines that, about 45 seconds in, build to a hard rock frenzy, including the first appearance of cowbell that I can recall since "Rhine Jive Click"! (did I say "Auditorium"?)

Next comes one of the creamiest, catchiest Sprout tracks ever - one of the singles, "Islands (She Talks In Rainbows)" - it's British Invasion guitar pop with impeccable vocal harmonies:

Followed by a proggy Pollard single, "Trash Can Full of Nails" - but of course, not all proggy, as it features a jangly chorus:

Followed by a guitar/vocal track "Send to Celeste (And The Cosmic Athletes)" - it's played pretty much as a demo for about the first 1:15, then the drums, bass and full guitar sounds kick in as it builds to a crescendo, strips back down to guitar only behind more stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and builds to about a 20-second full-band outro. Like a lot of great GbV songs, it's composed of what sound like three or four separate songs that are woven together seamlessly. And if all you pay attention to are the singles, you'll rob yourself of the fun of discovering a different favorite track on each listen - like the next track, a Sprout psychedelic guitar jam "Quiet Game" that finds him sounding, to me, a bit like Syd Barrett... yes, it will be my favorite at some point. As will the next one, one of the singles, "Noble Insect". It is nearly an epic GbV track - interestingly, it starts out very much like a vintage Tobin Sprout track, until a Pollard vocal kicks in: "Japan/Japan/Japan/Friction in Japan..."

It's got a simple rhythm and the lyrics are pretty spare, with the emphasis being on several rising and falling guitar lines, some swelling keyboards and Pollard's pronunciation of the lyrics... each repetition of line finds him emphasizing a different word or sound. On the album, of course, something this bombastic would want to be followed by an acoustic snippet like "Sir Garlic Breath" - where Pollard, over a couple of strummed guitar lines (one acoustic, one electric) is intoning random lyrics about "five little girls wrapped in pearls" and the apparent hero of the song: "cloven, woven, Sir G". It's all a bit reminiscent of a song like "The Old Grunt", and of course a perfect fit on a GbV record with five singles.

That's eight tracks of the 17 on the album, and I assure you each one will be a favorite upon one of your passes through the album - as will any of the next nine. Hell, who even gives you eight good songs on an album anymore? You know, it's funny. If you're one of those people who doesn't believe in "the album" anymore - you can certainly get more than your money's worth buying the singles. In fact, you might never know what you're missing. But you will be missing some amazing stuff. Get the singles, but get the album. And the next one, and the one after that...

Guided by Voices at Rockathon

GBV Digital

New song "A Heartbeat Behind" from Spectrals

Spectrals are Yorkshire-bred vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Louis Jones, his brother Will, and from time to time other musicians.  His debut album of northern soul flavored guitar pop was well received generally, and here.  I also caught the live act, and was impressed with the sound and the band's connection with the audience.  In advance of the summer release of Sob Story, their sophomore LP on Slumberland Records, Spectrals have shared one of the album's tracks, "A Heartbeat Behind".  The track has a roosty feel with a bit of a Big Star power pop swing to it.  The album was recorded in San Francisco under the direction of former Girls collaborator Chet JR White.  The results so far sound fantastic and I'm looking forward to this album.

"Milky Way" is another track that will be included on Sob Story --

Twitter ( @_spectrals )

REVIEW: Dupree - Nuestro Camino

Dupree is an Austin, TX based trio -- a bit of a throwback -- playing an upbeat take on the Hammond B3-based blues/soul instrumentals of artists like Jimmy Smith and Booker T & The MG's. This week they are releasing Nuestro Camino, and anybody with a taste for instrumental rock, blues and soul ought to check it out.

The band consists of Mike Flanigin, Jake Langley, and Kyle Thompson, and they play at the Continental Club in Austin on a regular basis. I imagine their live groove is something to behold, because the one on record sure does swing. Partly, I suppose that is due to the fact that this record was produced by Spoon's Jim Emo, live in a single take, to 2-track tape with no overdubbing or "fixing it in the mix" possible. The results are delightful, with some amazing B3 runs throughout, perhaps nowhere as soaring as on the 6:00 "All Or Nothing At All".

Here's a short video they made about the making of the record:

Here's "The Turtle":

Langley's guitars on here are great too - you'll be put in mind of the West Coast jazz of Wes Montgomery, particularly on "KC", which also features some tremendous runs and held notes on the B3 - as you listen, you can picture a crowd being played into a frenzy by this stuff.

Eno is not only the producer of this record, he's created a music label and distribution system, named, after his studio, Public Hi-Fi Records. You can buy physical copies (including, no kidding, a white 8-track tape!) from Public Hi-Fi here, or you can buy the digital version here. The digital contains four more tracks, including the fast-paced jazz piece "Cookin' at the Continental" and the delightfully mellow "Nightcap" - so maybe get an 8-track for your pleasure van or muscle car, and a download to carry around on your phone.

REVIEW: Rollin Hunt - The Phoney

Rollin Hunt has made an album that is easy to like, but a bit difficult to categorize.  Although Hunt earned his reputation as a lo-fi wunderkind, on The Phoney he teams with producer and multi-instrumentalist Doni Schroader to shape a wide scope hi-fi version of his musical vision.  The boys take soul and pop starting point, and then warp it through dream pop and experimental electronic frolics and samples.  It is unpredictable, but never jarring.   And the satisfaction for the listener comes from both the delightful sounds and the joy of being surprised.

The Phoney is available April 30 in digital and on CD and vinyl from Moniker Records, and can be ordered via Moniker's Bandcamp page (linked below).

Moniker Records
Moniker Records' Bandcamp

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Post - Cavalcade

Yes, I know that we wrote about Cavalcade, the debut LP from POST last December (link).  But POST officially launched the album Friday at Glasgow's Nice N Sleazy, so we're taking the opportunity to again bring it to your attention.  Why? First, it is that good.  Dance rock, post punk, power pop, thick bass, exciting guitar lines and other goodness packed into seven tracks.  Second, it is available on Bandcamp for "name your price".  Third, this Glasgow/Manchester three-piece consists of good people and and they hang out with a good bunch of musicians who strive to keep the arts alive -- the We Can Still Picnic collective that includes Wake the President and Casual Sex.

The album opener --

"New Play Thing" screams 'hit dance single' --

By the time the album gets to track four, "New Built Fears Love", any label scout worth his PBR should be texting his boss.

POST is Graham Wann, Craig Forbes and Adam Florence.

You can stream the Cavalcade at Bandcamp, but our advice is to hit the "buy" button and lay a little love on POST.


REVIEW: Vandaveer - Oh, Willie, Please

Vandaveer's new album Oh, Willie, Please requires a strong constitution. Not the music, the music is terrific. Vandaveer's core is a duo - Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin - and they are both terrific vocalists, with a real knack for the type of clear, evocative singing that folk ballads require. But the subject matter... well, it was only a matter of time, I suppose, before someone came up with an all-murder-ballad album. Inspired by their participation in The 78 Project (which featured other WYMA favorites and may inspire a post of its own on WYMA at some point), Heidinger and Guerin moved forward with just that in mind.

In addition to Heidinger and Guerin, the band on this album also features J. Tom Hnatow (These United States, The Mynabirds) and Phillips Saylor (Stripmall Ballads, The Shiftless Rounders) with steel string, resonator and pedal steel guitars, banjos and pianos. And these tragic, timeless ballads are played and sung impeccably, with intricate harmonies between Heidinger and Guerin, and lots of beautiful interplay between the string instruments. The pedal steel on "The Knoxville Girl" and the resonator on "Banks of The Ohio" and "Mary of the Wild Moor" are particular highlights, but it's all at a very high level.

Heidinger takes the lead on the first few songs, and he's got a great voice for this material. Not an otherworldly tenor like Ralph Stanley (whose "Pretty Polly" duet with Patty Loveless may be familiar to some readers), Heidinger's mid-range vocal supplies a sense of gravity that makes this collection of songs very "earth-bound", for want of a better description. It's an approach that a whole album of material like this calls out for. Guerin takes the lead on "The Railroad Boy" and she's got a clear, ringing voice that can occupy the lower register as it does on this song, but the higher one on some of the duets. She does a wonderful job with this song and her other lead "The Drunkard's Doom", which are really beautifully sung. Heidinger's vocal highlight, in my opinion, is "Poor Edward" which, having more spare instrumentation, relies more on the singing, and to great effect.

Here's the video for "Pretty Polly":

And you can listen, and download it here:

The album is rich, full and as well-played as any folk album I've heard in years. The inspiration of America's historical folk recordings that drove Vandaveer to make this record is obvious in the theme, the truly amazing vocals and the depth of emotion that is evoked. In listening, you are left with the sense that this band will be a tremendous live presence... and they are heading out on tour to support the album next week - more info here. The record is out Tuesday (Apr. 30) and you can learn more, or order the record from their website.

Vandaveer Website

Introducing: Kill Surrrf

Glasgow may not be the first place to look for surfy guitar music, but the unsurfing lads of that fair city's Kill Surrrf deliver a satisfying dose.  Starting out as Johnny Lynn's bedroom project, Kill Surrrf now is a four-piece and playing gigs.  They are unsigned, although they may have some small releases out on Number4Door and Shoot Yr. Foot Records.  They have material on You Tube and Soundcloud for you enjoyment, and I've provided a few choice entries below.  I fully appreciate that predicting success for a pop group is an activity with a low success rate.  But Mr. Lynn appears to have a real knack with a pop song, and the band seems quite able to my ears.  I look forward to more from these guys.

Kill Surrrf is Johnny Lynn (vocals/guitar), Thomas Dornan (guitar), Steven Warnock (bass/backing vocals), and Michael Gahagan (drums).