Saturday, May 11, 2013

Introducing: Jake McKelvie & the Countertops

Some of you may be wondering whether we have branched into kitchen sales in order to pay for bandwidth.  Rest assured that even though John was an English major, our accounts either are in order or we've given up on them.  The "countertops" reference here are a band from Keene, New Hampshire.  As they describe themselves, "you've got your ordinary surfaces, and then you've got your Countertops".  So there you go, they are special, and they know it.

And what do we get with Jake McKelvie & the Countertops?  A delightful amalgamation of alt-folk and roots rock.  The songs emphasize storytelling, and the vocals remind this listener of Langhorne Slim, which is a good thing.  And the stories are ones to which most of us can relate from personal experience or, if we are too shy about admitting our own foibles, the experience of "some guy we know".  If I had a local pub to which I could walk tonight, this is the band I would like to find playing tonight.  But I don't, so I'll listen to the album.

And speaking of the self-titled album, you can stream the entire record at the Bandcamp link.  And if you are really paying attention, you can acquire the download on a pay-what-you-like basis.  Happy Saturday night!

And a tip of the WYMA motoring cap to Matthew Young of Edinburgh's Song by Toad blog for introducing us to Jake McKelvie & the Countertops.


The Bats are coming to the US

For the benefit of our US readers, I will once again mention that The Bats are venturing from New Zealand this summer.  Here are the dates and locations.  I'm happy, because there is a Seattle stop, and our Portland contributor, Jim, is happy because there is a Portland stop.  If the local dates were on a weekend we probably would watch together, but despite the high pay associated with indie music blogging, we have day jobs, so travel isn't feasible.

The Bats are one of my top five favorite band, so I sometimes forget that not everyone is familiar with their charms.  Here is a new video for one of the songs on their 2011 album, Free All the Monsters (our review here), which was my top album of 2011.

And here is another of the many great tracks from that album --


Friday, May 10, 2013

New Single from Vic Godard & Subway Sect

Vic Godard is a veteran.  He formed Subway Sect in '76 and their debut was released in '78.  They toured with The Clash, and with Altered Images as their sound morphed into a more pop approach.  Meanwhile, band members came and went.  Vic retired from music from about the mid '80s until '92.  Since then, he has produced a couple of albums.  With the encouragement and assistance of Edwyn Collins, a pop star who understands survival better than just about anyone, Vic and his current version of Subway Sect has released a new single on Collins' Analogue Enhanced Digital label for Record Store Day 2013.  Consisting of of two tracks, "Caught in Midstream" and "You Bring Out the Demon In Me" reveal that Vic Godard & Subway Sect is no nostalgia act.  The pop sensibilities and songwriting still are masterful.  Quite simply, this is great music.


New Reggae/Dub Discovery: Stones Throw & Dub Club - Signs & Wonders In Dub

On the heels of the wonderful Lions album This Generation, comes another full blast of Jamaican awesomeness, by way of LA, on Stones Throw Records. Stones Throw and the Los Angeles-based reggae club night Dub Club have joined forces to release a scorching compilation of all new recordings by Jamaican sound system legends entitled Dub Club: Foundation Come Again.

The man behind this project is Tom Chasteen, a Los Angeles club promoter, DJ and producer. It was a revelation for Chasteen when he discovered that the artists who made the classic reggae 45s he was playing each week were still out there and ready to perform. He started tracking them down and flying them in to Los Angeles to play at the Dub Club.

Chasteen, along with Jamaican artist Tippa Lee, jointly produced Foundation Come Again. In addition to (and preceding) the release of Foundation Come Again, Stones Throw will release two dub albums from Dub Club: Signs and Wonders in Dub and Bubble Dub. Both include dub versions of several tracks from Foundation Come Again and were mixed live to tape in one take by Chasteen.

Chasteen says, “Dub is not just a contest to create the heaviest ever bassline, but a subtle carving away at a piece of music. The dubs on this record also keep one foot in the dancehall, where dub where was born and raised."  Both Signs and Wonders in Dub and Bubble Dub are being released exclusively on vinyl with hand screen printed in various colors and limited quantities.

Here's "Beware Dub":

This is a tremendous record - if you like dub, dancehall or any variety of reggae at all, it is something you will be very happy to get your hands on.

More to come, as we get a chance to hear Bubble Dub and Foundation Come Again. You can learn more, including viewing pictures of the screen printed album covers, at Stones Throw's website.

Stones Throw Records

April 2013 Playlist

The volume of music we listen to keeps growing.  The When You Motor Away playlist for April has 684 tracks.  It is tasty pastiche of the of the newest and the older .  Use the link, put it on shuffle and kick back for the next few days.  We guarantee a musical "aha" moment.

Telekinesis - New video for "Empathetic People" from Dormarion

Telekinesis (Michael Lerner) has a new album, Dormarion, which was released a short time ago. We reviewed it here, and observed that Telekinesis has achieved something special in the combination of hard rocking and catchiness - nowhere more so than on this track:

On top (or maybe under) everything else, Lerner is a great drummer. I mean great.

Telekinesis on Merge Records

Friday Nuggets - "Heavy Music" Bob Seger and the Last Heard

Bob Seger turned 68 this week. Which got my thinking about me hometown hero.

Before Bob Seger reached mega-stardom as a Midwestern rocker who had a great way with what  became classic mid-tempo songs and ballads ("Night Moves", "Turn the Page", "Against The Wind"), he paid a lot of dues playing the club circuit around Detroit and Ann Arbor. And like so many bands of the era, he started as a garage rocker, loose and rough around the edges.

Many of you probably know "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man", a great song to be sure, but my early Seger favorites are his anti-war rant "2+2=?" and this Nugget from 1967, "Heavy Music":

Bob Seger continues to tour and fill arenas, and from all reports, put on a terrific show.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Kenny Feinstein - Loveless: Hurts To Love, a classic re-interpreted

Kenny Feinstein is the front man for Portland, OR band Water Tower - described as bluegrass punk. That's intriguing enough on its own but check out his current solo project, a full album cover of the My Bloody Valentine classic Loveless, titled Loveless: Hurts To Love, on Portland-based Fluff & Gravy Records later this year. He and his producer recruited Richard Buckner to help with the project, and that was plenty enough to get my attention. For now, here are a couple of samples of the music.

Here is the video for "What You Want":

And you can listen to "Loomer" at this link, courtesy of AV Club.

Feinstein has been talking about the record, and his process: "The goal was to play along on acoustic guitar with the record and have whatever part I created work perfectly with the original album.  I then realized I needed to share this with the world to help everyone understand this album," he says of his motivation behind the project.

"I forced myself to listen to Loveless over and over because I did not understand it.  I was confused by the sounds coming from it," says Feinstein of his initial reaction to the album.  "Finally, when listening to 'Loomer' while driving around a mall in Fort Lauderdale I had an epiphany during the chorus.  I could not tell if the sound was being made by a human, a synth, a guitar, a bass or anything, but I did not care, all I could gather was that it was the most blissful sound I had ever heard."

This is a pretty amazing piece of music - it's one of those acoustic albums that manages to really embody a rock & roll spirit - think of Neil Young's early acoustic stuff, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, and a lot of Buckner's work. I'm impressed and looking forward to listening to this in the days ahead. Stay tuned.

Kenny Feinstein website

Introducing: Young Aviators

Young Aviators are, John Markey, Decky McKay and Kyle Haughey, three guys from Ireland who have decamped to Glasgow.  Their music is a grungy indie rock with vocal harmony.  It seems to me that they understand the importance of energy, noise and a good hook in composing an engaging song.  Their three-track EP Hollywood Won't Feed the Kids was released on November 12 by Electric Honey Records.  The release includes the title track, "Hunting for Heaven" and "The Question Is".  The title track strikes me as a garage pop song.  "Hunting for Heaven" is high energy grunge, while "The Question Is" will satisfy your pop urges.

In addition, Young Aviators track "Forward Thinking" appears on a compilation released by Electric Honey to celebrate its 20th anniversary.  For those who do not know, Electric Honey Records is the label run by students in the music business course at Stow College in Glasgow.  Electric Honey has released early albums by a number of noteworthy Scottish artists, including Belle & Sebastian, Snow Patrol, Teenage Fanclub, The Pastels, The Delgados and Wake the President.

Electric Honey Music - Facebook

REVIEW: Cold Satellite - Cavalcade

Cavalcade, a new album from Cold Satellite, is a country-rock triumph, an accomplishment in the vein of the great Twangtrust stuff Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy used to do, or going further back, an album like Tonight's the Night... strong guitars, heavy rhythm and lots of emotion and sometimes rage in the vocals.

Lead singer Jeffrey Foucault is accompanied by Billy Conway (Morphine) on drums, Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T.) on bass, David Goodrich (Chris Smither) on electric guitars, Nashville session veteran Alex McCollough on pedal steel, and Hayward Williams, keyboards.  A special highlight are the guitars -- all over this record, but for me, especially the guitars on opener “Elegy (In a Distant Room)” - yet somehow with the Crazy Horse-meets-Keith Richards wall of guitars, they are able to bring your focus to the lyrics:

And check out the ballad “Glass Hands.” This is a great country song - and it serves to both give a brief respite from, and to highlight, the raging guitars on the rest of the record. Not to mention, Foucault's a terrific country vocalist:

All lyrics were written by contemporary poet Lisa Olstein, who is about to release her latest book of poems Little Stranger, on Copper Canyon Press, coinciding with the CD release. “It’s a cold collaboration. Once (Olstein) hands off the work, she doesn’t weigh in,” Jeffrey says.
I think it works - and repeated listens make the lyrics give up a little bit more each time. On first listen, bits of the words rise above the mix - and the effect is to make a striking juxtaposition between the all-out guitar rock and the poetic expression of the lyrics. And it's definitely a singer-songwriter record, it's just that the singer and the songwriter don't necessarily inhabit the same space. Check it out and see if you agree.

The album will be out later this month (May 28) on Signature Sounds.

Cold Satellite Website

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Reverberation Radio #61

Another Wednesday and another gift from the folks at Reverberation Radio.   I linked the band names on the playlist to bios on different music sites.

1. Noviciat de Soeurs Missionaires de Notre-Dame d’Afrique - Yesu Ka Mkwebaze
2. Davie Allan and The Arrows - 13th Harley
3. Julee Cruise - Floating
4. Alex Chilton - Hey! Little Girl
5. Alec Bathgate - Monkey Puzzle
6. Carl Simmons - Scotty Guffy Sings
7. Cleaners From Venus - Marilyn On A Train
8. Cherry Viewing A-GoGo - Kappore
9. Tin Tin 
- She Said Ride
10. A. Paul Ortega - Traveling Song

Introducing: Boa Constrictors

Joe Astle writes and, with his brother Jethro and other musicians, plays as Boa Constrictors.  It also seems that they record in the basement or garage of the Astle family home in or near Los Angeles.  But as we all know, rock comes in all sorts of packages and WYMA is a firm believer that most delights come from the part of the spectrum not inhabited by big label royalty.  You can sample some Boa Constrictors music below, and if you like it hit the Bandcamp link and decide what you'd like to pay.

One of several covers on the album is this version of a Jonathan Richman song --


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New video from Love Cop - "Hunger 4 Yr Heart" from Eat Your Heart Out

Scott happily shared a new video from Emotional, here's the yin to that yang: Gnar labelmates Love Cop (we reviewed their latest record Eat Yr Heart Out here) playing the hazy, lo-fi, jangly "Hunger 4 Yr Heart" to accompany what looks like a full day of eating and .. other stuff. Including dangerous stuff. Skateboarding and, at about 1:20, adding lighter fluid to an already-in-full-flame hibachi. I wish they wouldn't do that. I bet Gnar's insurance carrier feels the same way:

Gnar Tapes Website to buy Love Cop Cassette

New 7" from Emotional, "Pain 4 Pleasure"/"Hand For Hire"

Emotional, the project of Melted Toys member Brian Wakefield earned a spot on my top 50 in 2012 for the LP Feeling (review here), so I was interested to learn that he released new 7" on Gnar in February, and has a new video for the lead track.  Below are the video for "Pain 4 Pleasure" and a stream for the B-Side.  The record presents interesting contrasts as the title track is an intriguing experimental pop song with warped sounds and vocals low in the mix, while "Hand for Hire" has a summery, '60s pop vibe.

Emotional - Pain 4 Pleasure from Gnar Tapes on Vimeo.


Brian also released an 8-track album titled Ice Sculptor III, available from Gnar at this link.  You can test spin a track below --

Gnar Tapes

New Country Folk Discovery: Like A Rocket - "Reason For The Gun"

Like A Rocket, from Boise, is playing in the country-folk tradition of artists like The Bottle Rockets and Jay Farrar. On some of their earlier stuff, it was a country-rock shuffle, but this one, an advance for an upcoming EP, is a Woody Guthrie-style ballad:

More to come soon from these guys - enjoy this track for now, and stay tuned.

REVIEW: Mikal Cronin - MCII

Few artists fuse the power and exuberance of garage with the hooks and melody of guitar pop with the assurance and originality of Mikal Cronin.  But, then, in my view, Cronin is an emerging pop star, and I'm betting that MCII, out today on Merge Records, convinces a large number of pop music fans that I'm right.

What Cronin does well is, well, everything that is important.  He writes quality songs with hooks that stay with you, but with the restraint to never overdecorate the sound.  He varies and stretches his garage palate to provide sunny '60s-style pop (e.g. "Weight", "Shout It Out"), crunchy power pop (e.g. "Change", "I'm Done Running From You"), psychedelic ("See It My Way"), even a dash of country ("Peace of Mind").  And his wide angle lens take on garage leaves room for strings, acoustic guitar and piano.   He plays multiple instruments well, and performs with conviction.  And through it all there is a palpable sense of fun, of joy in making the music.  It isn't surprising that Cronin is most known for the harder edged garage rock from his work with his high school friend and long-time collaborator Ty Segall, but to my ears MCII has more in common with Teenage Fanclub (and Norman Blake's Johnny project)  than the San Francisco garage scene.

Cronin's talent isn't being revealed for the first time on MCII.  But this album serves as a coming out party, a well planned and adroitly executed statement that he belongs on the pop scene.  Don't be a wallflower - dive in.

Cronin plays most of the instruments for the album, but gets some guitar help from buddy Segall and Petey Dammit on a couple of tracks, drums on a couple of tracks from Charles Moothart and strings on two tracks from K. Dylan Edrich, late of the Mallard.

Merge Records

REVIEW: The Drones -- I See Seaweed

The Drones are the musical equivalent of a drunken pub brawl. The Australian band's songs careen between sullen musings and feedback-drenched eruptions, everything connected by sinewy leads and tribal percussion. Singer-songwriter Gareth Liddiard's delivery, especially his manic phrasing, sounds at times like Lux Interior without any of the Count Floyd campiness, and at other times like a besotted Peter Garrett. As a lyricist, Liddiard keeps the themes quite dark -- over the years his songs have considered, among many other matters, dead drug-addict girlfriends ("She Had an Abortion that She Made Me Pay For"), cannibalism ("Words from the Executioner to Alexander Pearce"), and a Joseph Conrad-esque view of white colonialism ("I am the Supercargo"). They have a significant and devoted fanbase in their home country. In a poll of Australian critics and music-type people, their 2005 song "Shark Fin Blues" was voted Australia's greatest song.  For what it's worth, the album that featured that song, Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By, made my own top 10 of the entire decade.  Despite their continued puzzling obscurity in the States, the Drones are one of the world's great rock and roll bands.

I had begun to wonder whether perhaps we'd heard the last from the band. Although 2008's Havilah was excellent, the later tracks on that album had a bit of an autumnal feel to them -- a sense of something winding down. Then in 2010, Liddiard released a mostly acoustic solo album, Strange Tourist. Although a very satisfying record, it was lyrically dense, in the manner of "Sixteen Straws", the final track on the 2006 Drones album Gala Mill. That song and album are nearly brilliant, but all things told, the former is really pretty much Liddiard solo. So I had started thinking that if the Drones weren't finished, maybe they would ease back into the more mid-tempo, nearly free verse narrative structures of Liddiard's latest work. Well, I was wrong.

I See Seaweed, the band's sixth full-length, was self-released in Australia in March, and to the extent one can say it about a group that has never made a bad record, this album is nothing short of a revelation. There is not a weak instant in these eight songs, and although only two of them are under six minutes long, nothing meanders. Intensity builds in the quiet moments, and either explodes in angry catharsis or gradually blooms into a roaring chaos. The title track, which leads off, uses dissonant guitar and piano to evoke an unease that, at the 2.20 mark, is crushed by a wave of power chords and a fatalistic chorus of "Ain't that just the way things are? / You always went too far." The song ends, after the third chorus, with an apocalyptic solo eventually yielding to a Hammond-sounding organ courtesy of newest Drone Steve Hesketh. It's a stunning track, but only a glimpse of what else is coming. Have a listen:

One of the best songs, "They'll Kill You", is an example of that slow build that catches one by surprise. Liddiard sings, about two minutes in, "Give me back my evil streak, and guarantee it stays with me." The progression between this lyric and the end of the song evokes the parable of the frog tossed into the pot of cool water just as the gas gets turned on. Liddiard and fellow guitarist Dan Luscombe create a roiling instrumental backdrop until the vocals give over to the beautiful, harrowing noise. Here's a terrific live version from a concert in Sydney last week (only 3 views as of this writing). The part from the five minute mark on is flat out thrilling.

Of course, when inclined to do so, the band will punch a listener in the face right at the start. In "A Moat You Can Stand In," drummer Mike Noga and bassist Fiona Kitschin lay a foundation for a textbook Liddiard vocal rant.

The finest moment of many, and indeed, maybe the band's finest moment, is "The Grey Leader," which starts off with a demented country-jazz vibe of twisted strings and broken-glass piano. After a pause, the instruments come together underneath Liddiard's tense vocal. It all builds for a couple of minutes, pauses, and then the song becomes something entirely different. Two softly pulled chords, repeated, evoke the climactic moment of "Dogs", from Pink Floyd's seminal Animals. Noga then detonates his kit, and is followed at once by everyone else. The piano is surprisingly at home in the turbulence that pushes the song to its molten, feedback-drenched coda.

You'll probably have to order a physical copy of this album if you're anywhere but Australia, but check out your independent record store nonetheless. I was able to buy my digital copy from Amazon toward the end of March. It's been a long time since something has monopolized my stereo like this album. I don't think I can overstate what a triumph it is.

The Drones Website


Monday, May 6, 2013

REVIEW: Wolf People - Fain

Wolf People are channeling Sabbath, Can, Fairport Convention... man, all kinds of stuff, but they make it their own. In fact, after spending significant time with All Returns, and struggling with a way to convey how awesome it is, and to let you know what kind of creativity, artistry, alchemy and recombination is going on here, I'm going to default to my memory of the first time I heard Television.

First of all, give a listen to the single. Here's "All Returns" - it's truly epic in its scope and flawless in its execution:

Lead singer Jack Sharp sounds like a voice from the history of British folk rock - and the band admits that they are fans of, in addition to artists like Fairport Convention, more obscure European folk rock. The best part about the Wolf People, as heard on Fain, is their heavy, heavy emphasis on the "rock" part. Yet they don't skimp on the folk part, and somehow they incorporate some heavy blues/rock - like the percussion and guitar riffs on "All Returns" for example. And sometimes they just, unashamedly and enthusiastically, boogie.

It's a fantastic record - not exactly like anything else you have in your collection, but with echoes of so many good things you may (hopefully do) have in your record collection. Here I'm reminded of John Barleycorn Must Die, there it's some of Led Zeppelin's more folk-leaning stuff ("Battle of Evermore", perhaps)... but never completely, and never to the detraction from what's actually going on here.

Listening to frankly amazing songs like "When The Fire Is Dead In The Grate" as it morphs from a dirge to a hard-boogie showcase, to, finally a twin guitar exhibition that would make Verlaine and Lloyd proud... makes me understand just a little bit more what Ahmet Ertegun meant when he said to Jerry Wexler about Television: "This is not earth music." Except that this is very much earth music - it's just not going to be easy to pin down. Fortunately, much like the genre-defying classic Marquee Moon, it's easy - very easy - to listen to. It's out now (released Apr. 29) on Jagjaguwar.

Tour dates for support of Fain:

Fri 3 - Sound City, Liverpool, UK
Thu 9 - Hare & Hounds 2, Birmingham, UK
Fri 10 - Sound Control, Manchester, UK
Sat 11 - The Exchange, Bristol, UK
Sun 12 - Blind Tiger, Brighton, UK
Thu 16 - Holy Trinity Church, Leeds, UK
Fri 17 - Think Tank, Newcastle, UK
Sat 18 - Stag And Dagger Festival, Glasgow, UK
Sun 19 - Portland Arms, Cambridge, UK
Thu 23 - PIAS Nite at La Fleche D'Or, Paris, France
Fri 24 - Zurich Kinski Klub, Switzerland
Sat 25 - Brussels VK, Belgium
Mon 27 - Gebäude 9, Cologne, Germany
Tue 28 - White Trash, Berlin, Germany
Wed 29 - Molotow, Hamburg, Germany
Thu 30 - Doornroosje, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Fri 31 - Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Sat 1 - Trix, Antwerp, Belgium
Mon 3 - Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London, UK

Oh, still here? Well, congratulations. Here's a spectacular Wolf People cover of Pink Floyd, recorded for a German compilation back in 2011:

Wolf People Website

Wolf People on Facebook

Stewart Lee's "non press release"

Sky Larkin - "Motto" from upcoming (yet to be entitled) album

Fast, urgent and rocking - this new song from Leeds, UK's Sky Larkin will put you in mind of some of the best stuff in your record collection - Pixies, Sonic Youth, maybe? This is a preview track from an as-yet-untitled album due out in the fall on Wichita Recordings.

They're on tour over in Europe, too, having just played the Live at Leeds Festival, after apparently getting to bless their hometown arena with a short acoustic set:

Sky Larkin - 'Bravo Dodo' - Live at Leeds Sessions 2013 from Moin Hussain on Vimeo.

21st York - Fibbers w/ Dutch Uncles
22nd Cambridge - Portland Arms w/ Dutch Uncles
23rd Bristol - The Fleece w/ Dutch Uncles
24th Southampton - The Joiners w/ Dutch Uncles
25th Norwich - Water Front w/ Dutch Uncles
26th Leicester - Handmade Festival
30th Birmingham - Hare & Hounds w/ Marnie Stern
31st Sheffield - Queens Social Club w/ Marnie Stern

1st Manchester - Ruby Lounge w/ Marnie Stern
2nd Glasgow - Broadcast w/ Marnie Stern
3rd Leeds - Brudenell Social Club w/ Marnie Stern
4th Bristol - Louisiana w/ Marnie Stern
5th London - The Garage w/ Marnie Stern
8th Long Division Festival, Wakefield

13th 2000trees festival, Cheltenham
20th Tramlines Festival, Sheffield
26-27th Fell Foot Sound festival, The Lake District

3rd Y Not Festival, Derbyshire
16th Beacons Festival, North Yorkshire

Sky Larkin Website

Introducing: The Wednesday Club


Well, it is Monday, so it must be the right time for The Wednesday Club.  Yes, you heard that right, The Wednesday Club.  If I were really professional about this, I would have waited for Wednesday because, you know, the name includes "Wednesday".  But I like these guys' version of guitar pop, and their sense of humor.  And what if the world ends on Tuesday?

The Wednesday Club is Adam J. Miller, Eddie Max Broady, John Perry and sometimes Jack Rutter.  Adam was in another, now defunct, band called the Manhattan Love Suicides that put out some great Jesus and Mary Chain style music in its short life.  The Wednesday Club project began nearly a decade ago, becoming a band and playing live by 2007.  Apparently, the project is a recording-only venture again (undoubtedly due to the excessive attention of groupies at their live shows).  They have six albums to their credit, the last three of which are on their own label,  Cath 'n' Dad Records.  The three songs below are from their most recent album, Passing Strange.  The album is available on a 'pay what you want' basis at the Bandcamp link below.  But since the proceeds go to the Motor Neuron Disease Association, you may want to consider paying a bit.

By the way, the Cat 'n' Dad label is worth checking out.  The albums are available on a pay what you want basis, with all proceeds going to the artist's charity of choice.

Bandcamp for Passing Strange
Cath 'n' Dad Records

REVIEW: Brass Bed - The Secret Will Keep You

Brass Bed is a Lafayette, LA band playing great pop rock with an edge. It's got some definite emo flavor to it, but it's more muscular than I remember most emo being - at least the guitars get pretty raging from time to time, yet they keep it plenty melodic. There's contrast between the "hey, life's tough" content of a lot of the lyrics and the upbeat tempo, but it's not like the band is holding back anything... from a gentle lead-in like the one on "Cold Chicory", they end up with a no-holds-barred guitar solo. And that one is dwarfed by the feedback- and reverb-drenched guitar work in "A Bullet For You" - check it out here.

This is another record that was made live to tape at Jim Emo's Public Hi-Fi Studios in Austin - Danny Reisch was the producer on this one. As we saw with the Telekinesis and Dupree records reviewed here a little while back, I think Public Hi-Fi is onto something. Let the band play and they'll give you something special.

Here's a video of "Please Don't Go" from a recent live performance in Austin - love the guitars:

Brass Bed - "Please Don't Go" Live at The Parish in Austin, TX from Makemade on Vimeo.

And here's the version on the record:

Probably the catchiest song on the record is "I'll Be There With Bells On" - you can download that one free - click here.

It's out now (released Apr. 23) on Crossbill Records.

Brass Bed Website

Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Prog/Punk Discovery: WTCHS - "Mr. Hands" b/w Thoughts On Air - "Harness"

WTCHS is another act we've come across from Canada (Hamilton, to be specific) - with an urgent, lo-fi heavy rock sound. Check out "Mr. Hands" - available as a free download on a 2-track single with a track from another band. Here's the WTCHS track:

And here's "Harness" by Thoughts On Air - it's slow-build art rock with a lo-fi element that is pretty endearing:

And, finally, here's a previous WTCHS track, "Adult Crimes" - 

This is terrific stuff - WTCHS would have fit in well with Fugazi or 

More WTCHS from Buzz Records.

More Thoughts On Air from Perdu.

REVIEW: Alessi's Ark - The Still Life

The Still Life is the third album from London's Alessi Laurent-Marke, who records with her revolving group of accompanists as Alessi's Ark. She has a light, clear voice and a distinctive way of varying rhythms. She's also got a French accent that serves her well when she wants to draw out certain parts of the vocals. Hard to describe, but fairly charming. In addition, she is clearly talented at building songs. On this album she's teamed up with Georgia producer Andy LeMaster, whose best-known work is with the Drive-by Truckers, but who has a vast well of experience for the precocious Laurent-Marke to draw on as she created this expansive, well-drawn album. Did I mention that she's 22 years old?

Here's lead track, "Tin Smithing" - a perfect example of her breezy vocal style and the inventive instrumentation she uses to build the album:

Here's "The Rain" - the acoustic guitar-over-beats is a structure she uses often, as it seems to do a good job of setting a base for her to get playful with the vocals, and for her and LeMaster to layer in all kinds of sounds:

The chorus that starts about a minute in is a good example of what I mean about the accent - the way she pronounces "good" draws some attention to a word that she uses very often on this record. In fact, I might say the theme of this record is good living, or the good life, as expressed in art. A song, or a still life painting, for example. The music has an engaging simplicity, but the depth of craftsmanship is revealed on repeated listening. You can stream the whole album, for now, at MTV Hive (click here).

The album is on Bella Union, released earlier this week (Apr. 30). Read more, listen to more, or buy it at her website.

Alessi's Ark Website


REVIEW: Creative Adult - Bulls in the Yard EP

Emerging from California's North Bay punk scene, Creative Adult has just released a legitimate claim as a band to watch.  Following its 2012 7", Bulls in the Yard EP showcases a band whose punk in garage assault leaves room for nuance and accents.  The title track starts the proceedings with an in-your-face blast of hardcore punk -- loud, aggressive, paranoid, cathartic.  The second track, "Consumes Itself" begins in a similar vein, but reveals a loud soft-dynamic, and a feel for sonic effects ignored by most punk bands.  "Chemical Glow" combines post-punk and garage with a manic pace.  And then the landscape changes with the mid-tempo post-punk Gothic delights of "Rushing Toward the Cemetery".  If Bauhaus were reinventing themselves as a garage band, they would sound like "Rushing Toward the Cemetery" and we all would be happy about it.

Murder City Devils meets Bauhaus and Joy Division?  Maybe.  But there is enough in these four tracks to suggest that this band could explore several different directions in the future, and do it well.

Bulls in the Yard EP is out May 7 on Run For Cover Records.

Here is a link to the Soundcloud stream for the title track.

Run For Cover Records

New NYC Indie Rock Discovery: Rare Books - Rare Books EP

Rare Books is NYC-based singer/songwriter Efrain Calderon, along with Kevin Fish and Brian Kantor. They've got a 5-song EP out now, and it's a good sampler of guitar and electronic pop, with a sweet ukelele ballad thrown in for good measure.

Here's "The Ball Dropped" - kind of reminiscent of the poppier side of Wilco, to me:

And here's "In The Snow" - pop music for sure, with some nice guitar sounds and, to me, influenced by 70's pop singer/songwriters like Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty:

Here's a video made previously for the song "Stand Next To Me" - here's where I think his self-admitted Neutral Milk Hotel and M Ward influences show through a little more:

I like both flavors - the upbeat pop and the stripped-down number, and look forward to hearing more from these guys.

Rare Books Facebook