Friday, June 7, 2013

REVIEW: Tijuana Panthers - Semi-Sweet

Some music fans consider a surf guitar to be gimmick to be experienced seasonally and regionally, or as background to certain film or TV presentations.  I feel sorry for such narrow-minded souls. My view is that surf guitar is one of the most exciting presentations of rock music, whether as an instrumental jam (The Ventures), with female vocals (La Luz), combined with garage rock (Cool Ghouls) or as the base for Dick Dale's entire, wonderful, career.  It is the Sriracha of guitar music.  So, with that settled, we move on to our review to kick off the weekend.

With a surf guitar and pulsing garage-punk heart, Southern California's Tijuana Panthers seasons the mix with some jangle and retro pop.  There is plenty of reverb, and the trio trades lead vocals duty.  I suppose it could have been a train wreck ... err, wipe out -- I can't even consistently make a good sandwich with that many ingredients.  But, in fact, Semi-Sweet has raced its way to prominent spot on my most often played albums for May and June 2013.  Given its summery sound and jaunty appeal, it likely is in for a long stay on my playlist.

The album begins in the garage rock mode with "Above Your Means".  The following track, "Tony's Song" is more powerpop, with a bit of surf guitar in the foundation.  In addition to being a good song, the video gives us a story with a sword fight.  I love sword fights!

"Wall Walker" steers us back into the garage/surf territory, where we more or less stay for the remainder of Semi-Sweet.  An excellent example is track four, "Boardwalk", which provides a touch of doo wop vocals over a mid-tempo surf arrangement.  Summer songs don't get much better than this.  And the band knows when they have a good thing, as they reprise the song as the album closer.  That isn't lazy, it is a killer smart final impression.

The songs are good, and all are home grown but for an excellent cover the The Nerves "One Way Ticket".  But whether jangle popping or punk garaging, the sincerity and passion share the limelight with the melody and hooks.  The title is Semi-Sweet, but having it in your record collection is totally sweet.

Tijuana Panthers are Chad Wachtel (vocals, guitar), Daniel Michicoff (vocals, bass) and Phil Shaheen (vocals, drums), and they are from Long Beach, California.  The band was formed in 2006.  Semi-Sweet, their sophomore album, was released on May 28 via Innovative Leisure.

Twitter ( @TijuanaPanthers )
Innovative Leisure

NEW SONG: Whales In Cubicles - "Disappear"

Whales In Cubicles is the project of singer/songwriter Stef Bernardi, a Brit who met the other two band members, Alex and Jamie, when he was in the US, at a Dismemberment Plan show in DC. He's returned to the UK and they formed this band, and have generated some buzz over there. This song is to be followed by an album in the fall. This single, "Disappear", is all we have for now, but we like what we hear - good guitars, nice harmony vocals and good pacing in the rhythm section:

This is a big guitar rock sound - recommended if you like Foo Fighters... and stuff like that. Does anybody remember Creeper Lagoon? I always liked those guys. Anyway...

Tour dates:
13th August - Bristol, UK - Start The Bus
15th August - Bournemouth, UK - Sixty Million Postcards
16th August - Brighton, UK - Sticky Mike's Frog Bar
21st August - Leeds, UK - Oporto
25th August - Manchester, UK - Night & Day (Bank Holiday Special)

If you wanna keep track of them, here's their website:

Whales In Cubicles 

REVIEW: Fortress Social Club - Dreamin' The Life

Fortress Social Club is an LA-based collective of creative, productive pop musicians led by vocalist Shawn Harris and guitarist Mykul Lee who record at The Fortress, a well-respected studio in Los Angeles, and who wear their influences and their intentions proudly on the outside. Whether it's British Invasion rock, the guitar jangle and choruses of 70's American power pop, some surf, doo-wop, or a bit of punk backbeat, they hold nothing back in their quest to make catchy music designed to make you have fun. Try this: play "I Had to Laugh" at your next gathering.

Here's the video:

At the risk of using "Beatlesque", well, hell, that one's just absolutely Beatlesque, in the most delightful way. It's Beatlesque in the way some of the best music of The Hollies and Big Star was. Fortress Social Club has a way with a nice variety of pop hooks, guitars and choruses - you'll find yourself nodding, bobbing and singing along as the stuff grows on you. As a rock vocalist, Harris is a star - sort of a cross between Marc Bolan and John Lennon. And Lee's guitar is in the grand California surf-rock tradition of artists like Dick Dale. But there's so much more than just guitar and vocals going on, and that's what makes this album so much fun to come back to. Horns, harmonicas and even a British lady doing a countdown, they've thrown in everything but the kitchen sink.

Here's the lead track "Business By Day, Business By Night":

It's pop/punk - definitely further along toward the pure pop side, but with enough backbeat and swagger to make me recommend it to those of you who like your guitar pop flavored with punk, surf, glam and similar leavenings. And a lot of the songs on this record just swing with abandon. Fortress Social Club are talented, and clearly having a great time. And that's when some of the best albums are made.

The album's out June 18.

Fortress Studio Website
Fortress Social Club Facebook

Preview: Superchunk "I Hate Music"

WYMA loves Superchunk. You love Superchunk. Everyone loves Superchunk and for damn good reasons.

On August 20, the venerable (how is that possible?) North Carolina quartet will release their 10th LP, I Hate Music, on Merge Records, the label that Superchunk's Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance built into an indie powerhouse.

Here's a preview / teaser video of the record:

And here's one song "FOH":

The good people at Merge were kind enough to send us an advance copy this week and we'll post a full review closer to release date.

But trust us, I Hate Music is good. It's very good. "FOH" and every other song there will have you grinning from ear to ear and ready to jump around the house.

It's hardly a surprise that Superchunk has made another great record, but it's excellent news and one more reason to look forward to summer.

Superchunk on tour:

Jun 07 Chapel Hill, NC – Local 506 (Mac solo) w/ The Bats
Jun 20 Calgary, AB – Sled Island @ Republik
Aug 22 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West^
Aug 23 Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle^
Aug 24 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle^
Sep 02 Seattle, WA – Bumbershoot
Sep 03 San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore w/ Mikal Cronin
Sep 04 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre w/ Colleen Green
Sep 06 Portland, OR – MusicFestNW @ Crystal Ballroom
Sep 07 Chicago, IL – A.V. Fest and Hideout Block Party
Sep 23 Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater#
Sep 24 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer#
Sep 26 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club#
Sep 27 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom#
Sep 28 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom#
Sep 29 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club#
# w/ Spider Bags
^ w/ Parting Gifts

Our North Carlina readers should get down to Local 506 in Chapel Hill tonight to see Mac open for WYMA heroes The Bats coming all the way from New Zealand.

Visit to pre-order the LP and for a sad announcement from Laura Ballance regarding her absence from the band’s upcoming tour.

Friday Nuggets - "I Need You" The Kinks (and The Rationals)

If we wanted to be honest and present the very best '60's garage rock songs for our weekly Nuggets feature, we'd be presenting a Kinks song nearly every Friday. The British legends spawned entire continents of imitators, and they in many ways defined the garage rock sound. Plus they wrote better songs than just about everyone else.

Event their B sides were perfect. Like "I Need You" from 1965:

I grew up in Detroit thinking the song belonged to local band The Rationals who had a regional hit with it in the same year. This version appears on the compilation that inspired this weekly feature here at WYMA:


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Radar Brothers - new video for "If We Were Banished", from Eight, Western tour info

The Radar Brothers' latest album, Eight, has been out since January, and we reviewed it and liked its combination of psychedelia and cranked-up guitars (WYMA review here).

Here's a new video they created for lead track "If We Were Banished" - a sideways take on the tried-and-true car-trip video, with a beautiful visual to close it out:

And in keeping with the California theme, they're touring out West:

June 12 Los Angeles, CA The Satellite*
June 13 San Francisco, CA Cafe du Nord*
June 14 Davis, CA Sophia’s Thai Kitchen*
June 16 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge*
June 17 Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern*
June 18 Boise, ID Neurolux*
June 20 Englewood, CO Moe’s Denver*
June 23 Austin, TX The Mohawk*
June 25 Phoenix, AZ The Crescent Ballroom
June 26 Tucson, AZ Club Congress
* = w/ Ola Podrida

Read more, or buy at Merge Records.

New track from Deep Sea Arcade - "Granite City"

Sydney five-piece Deep Sea Arcade are bringing their psychedelic pop to Europe this summer, beginning in London next week.  To launch the festivities, they dropped their new single "Granite City" earlier this week via New Music Club.  The music is appealingly trippy and I expect that they will be very entertainment at summer festivals.

Here is "Girls" from their 2011 LP.  A rock band interested in girls.  Who saw that coming?

Here is a tour poster showing the dates.  If you are in Europe and interested, check their Facebook page from time to time as dates may be added.


The Solicitors - Made to Measure

Close observers of these pages may be wondering whether getting our attention is easier if there is a legal reference in the name.  I assure you that although four of the six of us have law degrees, we have made no conscious decision apply professional courtesy when making editorial decisions.  But good is good, and The Solicitors are good enough to have our attention regardless of their name.

The Melbourne four-piece is an international assembly, with members from the US, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia.  The music is well written, uptempo punky new wave, with a decided bite to the lyrical content.  Well, most of it; "Feeling is Believing" is a vampy slice of roadhouse R&B.  They claim to inherit the spirit of London's Stiff Records, and I think they can back it up.  Their debut recording, the Made to Measure EP, is available as of June 14 on Popboomerang Records.  All five tracks are cracking good, but I've included three for your evaluation below.  You can stream and purchase the entire EP at the Bandcamp link.

The Solicitors are Lee Jones (vocals/lyrics/songwriter), Rob Grasso (bass), Laf Zuccarello (guitar) and Matt Ells (drums).

Popboomerang Records

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Listeners familiar with GRMLN's previous effort may be surprised by Empire, as I was.  Explore was a gentle album of wistful dream pop.  Empire is a rousing rock album with pop craftsmanship and some punk touches, and is hitting all the right notes around my house, car and yard (my not-entirely-sincere apologies to my neighbors) for the start of summer.

GRMLN mastermind is Yoodoo Park, who is but 20 years old and a student at UC Santa Cruz.  I don't want to overly gush, but in my opinion this guy is a major talent.  Whether he is channeling Superchunk "Hand Pistol" or screaming "don't break me down" on a early garage tune ("Cheer Up"), or tossing off '70s glam riffs ("Summer Days") the songs have the right combination of polish and grit supporting delightful hooks.  I'm predicting this one will contend for a spot on my year's end list.

Acoustic version of closing track, "Dear Fear" --

To record Empire, Park enlisted his brother, Tae San Park (bass) and Keith Frerichs (drums).  The album was released on June 4 via Carpark Records.

Carpark Records

By the way, GRMLN is touring to support the album.  I intend to catch the 7/18 show, so look sharp lads.

06/14 Los Angeles, CA - The Smell
07/16 Portland, OR - Doug Fir *
07/18 Seattle, WA - Rendezvous *
07/19 Reno, NV - Chapel *
07/21 San Francisco, CA - Cafe du Nord *
07/22 Bakersfield, CA Sandrinis *
07/23 San Diego, CA - Soda Bar *
07/24 Long Beach, CA - Fingerprints (In-store)
07/26 Los Angeles, CA - The Echo *
07/27 Pomona, CA - The Glasshouse (Viva! Pomona)

* = w/ Tijuana Panthers

New Punk Singles from Skinny Girl Diet and Ethical Debating Society

Skinny Girl Diet is a three-woman band playing a slight variation on classic, hard/fast punk. It's wild stuff...they keep the needle in the red with the guitars, drums and bass behind some nice harmony vocals, then push it a little bit higher with some serious screaming in the choruses. Here's "Homesick":

Ethical Debating Society is playing in a similar style - just a little bit off to the side of SKG... slashing guitars, lots of screaming, male/female vocals that are like a tortured parody of Cindy and Fred. Here's "Creosote Ideas":

These are UK punk bands, releasing this split 7" on Athens, GA's HHBTM Records. If you're here often, you may recall HHBTM punk artists like Tunabunny, Joanna Gruesome, Bam Bam and Muuy Biien - we think you should support this label because they're doing excellent work. The 7" is in the works, and due out later this month.

HHBTM Records

Reverberation #65

Tasty musical morsels from the past 50 years curated by our friends at Reverberation Radio.  Heavy emphasis on 60's and early 70's.  We start with the father of Turkish RnR,  Erkin Koray shows it is not an oxymoron.  Kick back and enjoy and open some doors to the musical unknown.

Reverberation #65
1, Erkin Koray - Mesafeler
2. Anthony More - Judy Get down
3. The Rolling Stones - Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind
4. Spur - All Over The World
5. Thee Midniters - Chicano Power
6. White Fence - To The Boy I Jumped In The Hemlock Alley
7. The Cave Dwellers - You Know Why
8. Knightsmen - Fever
9. Night Beats - A Night With Nefertiti
10. Scott Walker - 30 Century Man
11. The Byrds - Why

New Brazilian Shoegaze Discovery: The Sorry Shop - Mnemonic Syncretism

Of all the varieties of music we cover at WYMA, I would say garage rock and noise pop/shoegaze - you know, heavy heavy guitar sounds/effects with treated rhythmic harmony vocals, or variations on that - are the two widest-spread. We have gotten garage rock from all over the world, and shoegaze from as far away as Australia, Turkey and now Brazil. Today's entry is The Sorry Shop, a rock band from Rio Grande, a small town in Brazil. And it's really, really good stuff. Their latest album, Mnemonic Syncretism, is a blast from the not-too-distant past, and carries echoes of The Jesus & Mary Chain, Swervedriver, and Catherine Wheel, to name a few.

Here's opening track, "Star Rising" - great guitars, low harmony vocals:

And here's "Rooftops of Any Town" - a little more upbeat, with some hard drumming and exhilarating squeals of guitar feedback:

Finally, "Know Me Right" - my favorite track, and the fullest-sounding, with a real wall of percussion sounds and the best vocal tracks on the record. This song is a treasure:

You can download it free courtesy of the band at their Bandcamp site, or read more at their Facebook. Really good music, for free, from a young band with a lot of promise for the future... what more could you ask for?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

REVIEW: Hot Club of Cowtown - Rendezvous in Rhythm

Hot Club of Cowtown is known for its virtuosity, and its sort of Continental approach to Western Swing music. One of the most listenable, talented and unique bands on the Texas scene, they have taken what might seem a logical step with their new album, Rendezvous in Rhythm. This is an album consisting completely of Gypsy songs and American Songbook standards played acoustically and recorded in the hot jazz style of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.

Recorded last July at the Zone Recording Studio in Dripping Springs, Texas, it features the band’s take on '30's standards in the style of Reinhardt and Grappelli including “Crazy Rhythm,” “Minor Swing,” “Dark Eyes,” “The Continental,” “I'm in the Mood for Love,” “Douce Ambiance,” and many more.

They live in Texas, and, again, are as good as anyone currently alive at Western swing, but their focus here is much wider than even the big state... “We recently took a band vacation to the Gypsy Festival at St. Maries de la Mer in the South of France,” says the band’s fiddler and vocalist, Elana James. Other band members are Whit Smith, guitar player and vocalist, and bass player Jake Erwin.

“Our band is fiddle, guitar, and bass, and they can do anything together. We’ve always played a combination of hot jazz and Western swing, but it’s been really a joy to finally distill part of our essence and serve up a record that is purely jazzy,” says James. With their familiarity, both with one another and this material, it's natural that they would employ a live recording technique. Smith: “We went back to our way of having everyone in the room together. We recorded it live, right there next to each other so we could hear each other play. I play acoustic on it — not big news, but usually in the past, I would play a mixture of electric and acoustic and sometimes overdub the electric guitar or vice versa. The majority of this album is the three of us there and playing acoustic. We tried to capture the feel of our live shows as much as possible.”

The descriptions of their virtuosity will make sense once you've listened, or had a chance to see them play. But be assured their music is warm and human, too... they've created an album that is absolutely charming - and hot and swinging at the same time - likely, at least in part, the result of the live recording technique. I find that I prefer the slower, more melancholy stuff like "I'm Confessin'", but on several of the tracks they start out slow and pick it up - check out "Melancholy Baby" and this one - "Dark Eyes" - one of the album tracks:

This album is a delight. If you like hot jazz, you need no further description than to glance at the song titles or multiple references to Grappelli and Reinhardt. If you like well-played acoustic music, you don't need to know a thing about hot jazz or gypsy music to enjoy this record - just as a familiarity with Bob Wills was not necessary to enjoy their previous releases. You can learn more, view tour dates (they've got some very wide travel planned), buy or listen at their website.

Hot Club of Cowtown Website

Teen - Carolina EP

If what you hear here is what you get live, Brooklyn's Teen is an act to put on your summer concert calendar (easy for me, they'll be in town next week).  The tracks on their new Carolina EP were crafted to be played live, so the instrumentation is more direct than the layered noise pop of their 2012 LP, Limbo.  But the rewards for the listener are no less.  The band is an energetic, cohesive machine and Teeny Lieberson's vocals may bring to mind Kate Bush.  And there is a certain appealing swagger to Carolina.  Not an "in your face" swagger, but a "look at what we can do" swagger.  And such confidence is well earned as Teen displays impressive versatility over the course of five tracks.

The lead track is dense, urgent post punk track, while "Circus" bears the upbeat rhythms and variety suggested by its title.  "Cannibal" is an unassuming gem -- a pop delight hiding behind a frightening name.  "Glass Cage" is a musical cornucopia with dream pop, and some sludgy post punk.  The psychedelic "Paradise" (stream available below) may be the most fully realized track on the EP, with vocals, keys and guitar swirling around a rubbery bass and driving percussion.  What Carolina shows us is that we may not be able to predict what Teen will do next, but that it will be worth listening to.

Teen is Teeny Lieberson (vocals and multiple instruments), Lizzie Lieberson (keys), Katherine Lieberson (drums) and Jane Herships (bass).

Carolina EP was released on May 28 on Carpark Records.  Teen is touring now to support the EP.  Many of the shows are on the same bill as Eleanor Friedberger, whose new album also is worth your time.

Twitter ( @_T_E_E_N_ )
Carpark Records

Monday, June 3, 2013

Alessi's Ark - new video for "Tin Smithing" from The Still Life, now out on Bella Union

WYMA wrote about The Still Life, the new album from London's Alessi's Ark (Alessi Laurent-Marke and her rotating supporting cast of musicians - her "ark") in April (WYMA review here). I loved the variety in styles, her voice and found her accent sort of charming, and recognized the obvious rapport she and Now It's Overhead's Andy LeMaster had in the studio.

The lead track, "Tin Smithing", is a good example of her sound - the vocals that are simultaneously ethereal and earthy. Here's a video recently released for that song:

The album is out now (released Apr 30) on Bella Union Records.

"Natural Disaster" from Kent Goolsby

I don't know how many dusty back roads Kent Goolsby has traveled, but his voice appears to have logged a lifetime's worth.  And I mean that in a good way.  Here is "Natural Disaster", which will give you a taste of his album, Trophies of Youth, which is scheduled for release August 6 on This Is American Music.


"The Road I Know", new song from Azure Blue

This is the kind of romantic, pristine pop for which Sweden is justifiably famous.  "The Road I Know (featuring Julia Vero" is the first release from Azure Blue's new album, Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt.

Azure Blue is the solo project of Stockholm musician Tobias Isaksson.


NEW SONG: Sheen - "Lovelust" - free download

London-based six-piece band Sheen has released "Lovelust", a breezy guitar pop song with a light, pretty vocal by Aneta Wrzos:

Unless you live in London, I'm afraid this is all you're gonna get for a while. They've got a few live dates this summer, then plan a proper single release later this summer, then who knows? It's good stuff - in the tradition of The Smiths, a melancholy but light vocal over some light but substantial guitar.

Here's a previous video, "Hey" - another ethereal vocal, another bit of sweet guitar pop:

Tour dates:
14th JUNE – LONDON – Old Blue Last
20th JULY – SHEFFIELD – Tramlines Festival

Sheen Facebook

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Can't Let Go" from Catwalk

Catwalk (Nick Hessler, Arin Fazio and Sheridan Riley) was featured on these pages about 18 months ago (link).  This post is a bit of a tease, but the song is as well.  It also is a taste of what we can expect from Catwalk's next album.  Will it be soon.  We hope so.


Introducing Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas

We love garage bands here at WYMA and we love soul music. Combine the two, and we get very happy.

Jessica Hernandez is from Detroit, and by Detroit I mean Detroit, not its leafy suburbs. Detroit, the famously gritty city where musical magic happens, where soul music rocks, and rock music has an R&B foundation. The city where both "Going to A Go-Go" and "Kick Out the Jams" were written and recorded.

And Jessica Hernandez is a proud carrier of that rich musical tradition. She's a rock'n'soul powerhouse blessed with an unmistakable voice and charisma to burn. Here she is singing "Caught Up":

"Caught Up" is one of 3 songs on her introductory EP Live at The Magic Bag. She is backed by the Deltas, a first rate versatile band that can rock, bring it down, and knows its way around soul and avant Detroit jazz. These Detroit boys truly have Ms. Hernandez' back. And they have a sax player, which we consider a very good thing. Listening to this makes me imagine what if Amy Winehouse had been more centered as a person and backed by a real outfit like The Drive-By Truckers?

Next up, the funky "Sorry I Stole Your Man":

Last but certainly not least, she slows it down to great effect, on "Young, Dumb and Drunk":

By now, you are hooked, wondering how is this woman and this band not famous, and how can I see them. You can go see Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas now:

Summer 2013 Tour

       6/8 – Cincinnati / Northside Tavern (Girls and Boys Night)
·       6/9 – Louisville / The New Vintage Showcase, w/ The Junkyard Dogs
·       6/10 – St. Louis / Firebird, w/ Moon Jr. and Indian Blanket
·       6/11 – Kansas City / Riot Room, w/ Blank Tapes and Beach Day
·       6/13 – Detroit / The Fillmore, w/ Metric, Family Of The Year, Serena Ryder (Riverfest)
·       6/19 – Oklahoma City / Conservatory, w/ The Sheiks and The One Seven Four
·       6/20 – El Paso / Garage Tequila Bar, w/ The Iveys
·       6/21 – Tucson / Hotel Congress
·       6/22 – Las Vegas / Beauty Bar
·       6/24 – LA / Satellite
·       6/25 – Phoenix / Last Exit Live, w/ The Sun Punchers
·       6/26 – Costa Mesa / Detroit Bar, w/ The Abigails
·       6/27 – San Diego / The Griffin
·       6/28 – Santa Barbara / Muddy Waters
·       6/29 – Long Beach / Alex’s Bar, w/ The Abigails
·       6/30 – Oakland / The New Parish
·       7/3 – Portland / Doug Fir Lounge, w/ Guantanamo Baywatch
·       7/4 – Bellingham / The Green Frog
·       7/5 – Seattle / The Crocodile CafĂ©, w/ The New Futures
·       7/6 – Bend / Les Schwab Amphitheatre, w/ Y La Bamba
·       7/9 – Boise / Neurolux (Radio Boise Tuesday)
·       7/10 – Salt Lake City / The Bar Deluxe
·       7/11 – Denver / Lost Lake Lounge
·       7/12 – Omaha / Slowdown
·       7/14 – Madison / High Noon Saloon, w/ The Family Business and The Earthlings
·       7/27 – Detroit / Oakaloosa Festival

Our strong advice here from WYMA headquarters - climb on this bandwagon while there is still room. And do not miss Jessica Hernandez if you live near or can get to any of the 26 cities above.

Do you want to know more about Jessica Hernandez, her family, background and attitude? This 5 minute feature is engaging and well worth a look:

Purchase the EP here: ITunes- Live at The Magic Bag
Expect a debut LP later this year. Rest assured, WYMA will be all over it.

Facebook page
Twitter @DetroitJess

Bonus videos for historical context: