Saturday, July 13, 2013

New Shoegaze Discovery: Your Favorite Enemies - Youthful Dreams of an Old Empire EP

Canadian guitar rock band Your Favorite Enemies have released a 3-song EP, Youthful Dreams of an Old Empire on Hopeful Tragedy Records. They make compelling post-punk rock with psychedelic touches, you might call it shoegaze along the lines of Swervedriver, or just good old indie rock, a la Sonic Youth... whatever you call it, their guitar work, driving rhythm section and strong vocals are impressive on first listen and even more so upon repeated plays.

Here's the video for album track "A View From Within":

Here's "Empire of Sorrows", with a definite Sonic Youth feel at 6:00-plus with several inspired guitar freakouts, it's impressive:

You can learn more, or buy it at their website or Facebook.

Your Favorite Enemies website

Stones Throw Soul Tour - August West Coast dates

Great news for music fans out West - the Stones Throw Soul Tour is coming your way. This is the first time these Stones Throw artists have ever been on the road together. Label founder Peanut Butter Wolf will bring the DJ/video show, while Dam-Funk performs solo.

The Stepkids will perform tracks from their upcoming album Troubadour. Their smooth soul- and jazz-influenced stuff is, to me, fondly reminiscent of Steely Dan and The Crusaders, among others. Here's "The Lottery":

Myron & E (backed by The Stepkids) perform tracks from their debut Broadway, which we've just reviewed (WYMA review here). This is the perfect time to share another video of these guys:

I think there will be dancing, even if it's of the involuntary variety. These guys can play.

Fri 8/16 POMONA CA - Glasshouse.
Sat 8/17 PHOENIX - Crescent Ballroom.
Sun 8/18 TUCSON - Club Congress.
Tues 8/20 DENVER CO - Casslemen's.
Wed 8/21 SALT LAKE CITY - Urban Lounge.
Fri 8/23 PORTLAND OR - Mississippi Studios.
Sat 8/24 SEATTLE - The Crocodile.
Tues 8/27 OAKLAND - The New Parish.

Stones Throw website

New Folk Music Discovery: Jeremy Squires - "Oblivious" from upcoming album due in October

North Carolina singer/songwriter Jeremy Squires is new to me, and has a very impressive, delicate fingerpicking acoustic guitar style and a terrific voice. Here's a new song he made available last week:

This is in advance of his next album, When Will You Go, due out in October. I'm already looking forward to hearing more from him. You can learn more and listen to more of his music, including the offer of a free sampler in return for your email, at his website.

Here's another recent track he made available for download, a cover of a Damien Jurado song, "Sheets":

I hear echoes of other acoustic favorites like early Richard Buckner and, of course, Jurado's work. Squires is an impressive talent.

Jeremy Squires website

A Place To Bury Strangers - European Tour, new video

We reviewed A Place To Bury Strangers' latest album, Worship, about a year ago (WYMA review here). They've had success with it, and recently finished a US tour with Japandroids. Now they are planning a European tour in the fall.

Here's the tour trailer:

Tour dates:

Saturday September 14 - Leffinge, Belgium - Leffingeleuren Festival
Sunday September 15 - Lille, France - La Peniche
Monday September 16 - Cologne, Germany - MTC
Wednesday September 18 - Munster, Germany - Gleiss 22
Thursday September 19 - Groningen, Holland - Vera
Friday September 20 - Amsterdam, Holland - Bitterzoet
Saturday September 21 - Tilbourg, Holland - Incubate Festival
Monday September 23 - Berlin, Germany - Lido
Tuesday September 24 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Loppen
Thursday September 26 - Malmo, Sweden - Babel
Friday September 27 - Gothenberg, Sweden - Pustervik
Saturday September 28 - Stockholm, Sweden - Strand
Tuesday October 1 - Helsinki, FInland - Tavastia
Wednesday October 2 - St. Petersburg, Russia - Zal Ojidania
Thursday October 3 - Moscow, Russia - Plan B
Saturday October 5 - Kiev, Ukraine - Bingo
Tuesday October 8 - Warsaw, Poland - Cafe Kulturina
Wednesday October 9 - Krakow, Poland - TBD
Friday October 11 -  Ljubjana, Slovenia - Channel Zero
Saturday October 12 - Zagreb, Croatia - Mocvara
Sunday October 13 -  Belgrade, Serbia - KC Grand
Monday October 14 -  Skopje, Macedonia - MKC
Tuesday October 15 - Sofia, Bulgaria - Indoteeque
Friday October 18 - Thessaloniki, Greece - Mylos Club
Saturday October 19 - Athen, Greece - Fuzz Club
Tuesday October 22 - Lesse, Italy - Arci Rubik
Thursday October 24 - Rome, Italy - Blackout
Friday October 25 - Milan, Italy - Lo-Fi
Saturday October 26 - Verona, Italy - Interzona
Sunday October 27 - Winthertur, Switzerland - Albani
Monday October 28 - Fribourg, Switzerland - Fri-Son
Tuesday October 29 - Marseille, France - Le Cabaret Aleatoire
Thursday October 31 - Barcelona, Spain - Razzmatazz 3
Friday November 1 - Madrid, Spain - Moby Dick
Saturday November 2 - Cartaxo, Portugal - Centro Cultural do Cartaxo
Sunday November 3 - Porto, Portugal - Hard Club
Tuesday November 5 - Vitoria, Spain - Jimmy Jazz
Wednesday November 6 - Toulouse, France - La Dynamo
Thursday November 7 - Lorient, France - Les Indisciples Festival
Friday November 8 - Paris, France - Trabendo
Saturday November 9 - London, UK, Shacklewell Arms

Here's a video they put out in the spring for a Record Store Day release, Strange Moon. The song is "Don't Burn the Fires":

More info, including tickets and more music to listen to, at their website:

A Place To Bury Strangers website

More Gnar/Burger Awesomeness from Japan: The Boys Age - Fake Gold

Here's another slice of strange from Gnar Tapes and Burger Records - The Boys Age is a pair of musicians from Saitama, Japan who produce some pretty unique and delightful stuff. If you can deal with the strange vocals - there's a combination of an affect and an accent that sort of push the vocals into another time zone - and the consistently lo-fi nature of the instrumentation, you're in for a real treat. On this record, Fake Gold, there are elements of all kinds of rock music, old and new - on about my fifth listen, I came up with a mental image of Syd Barrett and Willy Wonka collaborating under the supervision of Phil Spector - but even though that is a strange and nonsensical description, it still fails to describe all the fun that's going on here.

Here's my favorite track - mainly because of the interplay of the vocals, some truly fantastic psychedelic guitars and delightful chimes - "Fake Gold Pt. 1 Wonderful Life":

Here's "I Wish For God's Sake" - starts out with an insistent guitar line that will be familiar to any indie rock fans, and some dreamlike reverb effects and Kaznary Mutoh's unusual vocals combine to push it into the real of pure delight:

Here's "Gigantic Stamp" - a little more uptempo, and a little more British Invasion feel to the drums and guitars, but again, the vocals are up front and very, very unusual:

I think a lot of people will either love or hate this, as it is truly strange. In the words of Gnar's attempt to describe this stuff: "Think Magnetic Fields meets The Pixies meets Beat Happening". Yeah, sure... that's at least as good an attempt as my Barrett/Wonka/Spector. Either way, you must hear to believe. And you can check it out at Gnar Tapes or Burger Records.

Gnar Tapes
Burger Records

Cool Ghouls release video for "Queen Sophie"

One of my favorite albums of the year so far is the self-titled debut LP from San Francisco's Cool Ghouls (review here).  So, an announcement that they have made a video for one of the album tracks, in this case "Queen Sophie", is sufficient reason to again highlight the album.  But I'm even happier to do so because the video is great fun.  Filmed in a rented Victorian house in San Francisco with the assistance of various friends, it features (in addition to the music), semi nudity, making out, bathroom stops, beer, buttocks crushing balloons, and other slices of life (well, someone's life -- not mine) shot with a GoPro mounted on a model train.  Enjoy!


"Do You Right" by The Rosy Crucifixion, album to follow

Glasgow's The Rosy Crucifixion has a sound I quite like.  It probably is best described a as a mix of American roots and garage.  But whatever you call it, it is good.  The band has released "Do You Right", which is a track from their split vinyl LP with The Wharves, which is set for fall 2013 release via Scotland's Soft Power Records.


Friday, July 12, 2013

New Stoner Skater Rock Discovery: Jovontaes - Roll The Dice

I don't know what the connection is between Portland, OR and Lexington, KY but it's a good thing there is one. Recently Gnar Tapes (Portland's hard-working slacker rock label) sent us a great record from Lexington's Street Gnar, and now they've sent Roll The Dice, a new tape from Jovontaes, credited as a "mysterious and prolific psychedelic skate burner unit from the minty hot streets of Lexington, KY", and Gnar describes it as music "made by skater stoner weirdos for skater stoner weirdos." Or just about anybody who appreciates rock that both rolls and slows its roll. I'm telling you, this will absolutely grow on you. The pounding drums with a punk backbeat, the surf or slashing psychedelic guitars, it's calculated to put you in a great mood, with or without any enhancement.

Here's "Burto Fernl":

Here's "Know the Now" - definitely echoes of Dick Dale:

Great surf or party jams, or just good listening... and this is just one of several good Gnar/Burger projects we've seen this summer.

Gnar Tapes
Burger Records

NEW SONGS: 7" single from Wormburner - "Today Might Be Our Day" b/w "Parliaments on Sundays"

Wormburner is a New Jersey band playing an energetic take on garage rock/post-punk.They'll have their new 2-song single available July 16, but you can check it out and pre-order the viny now. Here's the a-side "Today Might Be Our Day":

The sentiments in the songs will be familiar to fans of New Jersey's favorite rock and roll sons - working class concerns like smoking, drinking and getting the dishes done. From the b-side, "Parliaments on Sundays":

"drag for drag and drink for drink /
piling up like dishes in the sink /
or Parliaments on Sundays"

Wormburner consists of  Hank Henry - Vocals, 12 string acoustic guitar, Paul McDaniel - Electric guitar, Bass guitar, Tambourine, Alec Senese - Bass guitar, Terry Solomone - Electric guitar, Acoustic guitar, Moog synthesizer, Percussion and Jim Spengler - Drums. Former Luna guitarist Steve Eden contributes some scorching work to "Parliaments on Sundays", too. These two songs are my introduction to them, maybe yours too... but I expect we'll be hearing more.

Wormburner website
Negative Fun Records

New Electronic Discovery: The Slasher Film Festival Strategy - Crimson Throne and Wet Leather

The Slasher Film Festival Strategy is the long running experimental project of South Carolinian Christopher Ashley, and reflects a variety of influences that have led him to produce dark ambient and drone compositions that hint at horror and science fiction. This project has two new releases in 2013: Crimson Throne (Foreign Sounds) and Wet Leather (Mirror Universe) harnessing the power and inspiration earlier releases, but pulling new energy in minimal electronics, experimental dance, coldwave, and horror/sci-fi soundtrack composition.

Crimson Throne is ostensibly the story of Space Shuttle Ambition, which was NASA's fourth operational spacecraft launching on February 3, 1987- the first manned space flight to Mars. Dubbed Operation Crimson Throne, the goal of the mission was to terraform Mars for potential colonization of future human inhabitants. A crew of seven successfully landed on the red planet on September 6, 1987 and all contact was lost a mere 18 days later. Whether intentional or not, Ashley's done a masterful job of capturing that big drum sound of so much music (especially soundtrack music) that was popular in the time of this event. I'm reminded of Eddie Murphy, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Seagal soundtracks - music that is now seen as sort of manipulative and big and obvious, but - wait a minute, that was the point in the 80's! It's a compelling listen and... well, I won't spoil the ending for you. But it's kind of scary.

Here's a video for "Thermal Event" from Crimson Throne:

And here's the track "The Slasher" from Wet Leather:

Both of these are out now, available at the sites below. Ashley's site is a Tumblr which displays the dizzying array of musical projects he has had a hand in.

Christopher Banks Ashley website
Mirror Universe Tapes (for Wet Leather cassettes)
Slasher Film Festival Strategy Bandcamp (for Crimson Throne downloads or vinyl)

REVIEW: Ginnels - Plumes

Among our goals at WYMA is bringing to your attention good music that may not receive much publicity or radio play.  Of course, to do that we have to find the artists.  And one way to find under-the-radar artists is to pay attention to recommendations of other artists.  I discovered Irish artist Ginnels, the performance name chosen by Dublin musician Mark Chester, via a recommendation of one of his songs from Seattle band Zebra Hunt (whose Beaches EP is a solid-gold nugget (review here). And I am very glad that I followed the recommendation, as GinnelsPlumes is a very impressive collection of jangle pop that I suspect will be on my year-end list.

Mark Chester also plays in Grand Pocket Orchestra and No Monster Club.  Ginnels is his solo project, although he enlists the assistance of a few musician friends for live performances.  The influences suggested by the music are The Byrds, The Bats, The Feelies, Robyn Hitchcock and Guided by Voices.  The arrangements are dominated by acoustic or jangly electric guitars, and the melodies are eminently catchy and upbeat.  The material on Plumes is collected from three prior releases and some tracks previously only available online.  But since most of you are likely unfamiliar with Mr. Chester's work, I suspect you will find the music as fresh and exciting as I do.

The most difficult aspect of covering Plumes is choosing the songs to showcase the album.  The quality is sufficiently high and consistent that I could have chosen any four and felt that I'd done the material justice.  However, I wouldn't want you to miss out on the delights of "Stink It Out", "Bateau", "Heathwaite Wood", or "The Childish Lane Story", so if you like the clips below, go to the Bandcamp page and stream the album.  It is likely to be among best 34 minutes of your day.

Plumes is available now via the young Spanish label Tenorio Cotobade.  The best way to find it is hit the Bandcamp link below.  A purchase gains you a vinyl LP and a digital download.

Soundcloud for two earlier sets

REVIEW: Cornell Campbell Meets Soothsayers - Nothing Can Stop Us

Strut Records is on a bit of a winning streak. In the last few months, we've been sent two tremendous reissue projects, but this time they have a brand new recording by the original Gorgon, Cornell Campbell, one of the greatest vocalists in the world, paired with one of the hottest Afro and reggae soul outfits in Europe, Soothsayers, led by Robin Hopcraft and Idris Rahman. The pairing is the result of a chance meeting between Bunny Lee and Soothsayers' Robin Hopcraft in Kingston, Jamaica early in 2011. Cornell Campbell Meets Soothsayers is the name of the combined entity, and the album is Nothing Can Stop Us.

After Campbell and Hopcraft met, they set up a session at Bunny Lee’s studio in West Kingston, at which was produced “I’ll Never Leave,” a beautiful track that's an homage to Campbell’s island home country in Parish of St Elizabeth. I'd say this is my favorite track on the album, but it's hard to pick a single favorite as the overall quality is excellent. Here's "With You My Heart Belongs" - it's got a nice, smooth dub track and an even smoother Campbell vocal:

Here they are discussing their meeting, and the project:

In addition to some truly great reggae vocals and dub rhythms, the album contains some fairly creative touches, from a sort of afro-pop approach on the title track (as well as a few others) to some sizzling guitar on several tracks and terrific horns throughout. As well, it's just about a perfect balance between uptempo reggae numbers and sweet ballads that are perfect for Campbell's voice, including the outstanding lovers' rock track "There's A Fire".

For anyone who is familiar with Campbell from his older work and may be concerned as to whether he still sounds great, have no fear. His voice is in excellent form and he's found some truly kindred spirits in Soothsayers, who are known for their work with Johnny Clarke, Maxi Jazz (Faithless), Keziah Jones and more, as well as their work on the London leg of the ‘Fela!’ musical during 2011.

Here's their dub version of the album track "Ode to Joy (Babylon Can't Control I)", titled "Babylon Can't Dub I":

The album is part of the Inspiration Information series on Strut Records, and is out this week (July 9).

Strut Records Website
Soothsayers Website
Soothsayers Facebook

Friday Nuggets - The Golliwogs "Fragile Child"

In the mid-60's when what would later become known as Creedence Clearwater Revival were starting out, they were known as The Golliwogs and had a much more basic garage rock sound. Early on, big brother Tom Fogerty was on vocals, but soon little brother John took over and they sounded like this:

Not long after, John assumed songwriting and producing, refined their sound, they changed their name and took off. But they started as a garage band like so many found in every corner of America in 1966.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

REVIEW: Jashwha Moses - No War On Earth

Jashwha Moses is no newcomer to roots reggae -- his first single was released over three decades ago.  But the UK artist is on a prolific run.  A year after releasing a full length retrospective of his work from 1978-2003 on Bristol Archive Records, he is back with No War On Earth.  Released on Sugar Shack Records, No War On Earth features nine vocal tracks and six dubs, produced under the direction of Mikey Taylor-Hall.  The set contains delights both expected and unexpected.  In the former category, the album features excellent vocals and strong, conscious lyrics.  And the dubs are magnificent -- spacey and atmospheric.  In the latter category, the album contains examples of vocal manipulation, layering and effects that go beyond the traditional dub reggae arts.  The result is a roots reggae album for modern times.

The album mostly consists of new material, although former releases "Jah Time Has Come" and "Steel" have been included in slightly reworked form.  In addition, Bob Marley's "War" is transformed into "Good Over Evil" on this album.  What impresses me most about Jashwha Moses is that three decades into the game, he sounds as focused, driven and, yes, hungry as he did in the early '80s.  No War On Earth would be a good album if a man of Moses' vocal abilities just put in a decent effort on nine vocal tracks.  But this album is so much more -- a vibrant package of music that affirms that conscious reggae lives on.  We don't give numerical rankings to albums here, but in my view this album is "essential" for the modern roots reggae collector.

The quality of the dubs on this album are well demonstrated by this dub of the title track--

Jashwha and his band also put on a great live show.  Here is a performance of "Good Over Evil" --

No War On Earth is out now on Bristol's Sugar Shack Records.  It is available on CD and via digital download.  Sugar Shack and its sister labels are simultaneously giving life to the historically strong Bristol reggae scene of past decades, and rejuvenating the current reggae scene.  As fans, we are grateful.

Bandcamp for album
Sugar Shack Records

Coma Cinema - Posthumous Release

Listening to Posthumous Release, the second album from Mat Cothran performing as Coma Cinema, is like paging through an artist's sketch book.  There are lines, shapes, and scenes.  Some are more developed that others, but the stories aren't fully detailed and the colors aren't all there.  Whether that bothers you depends on how you like to approach music.  If you want the full story laid out for you, perhaps with a screaming guitar solo after the killer line just to remind you that you heard something important, you may not be drawn to it despite its charming arrangements.  But if you like hearing a suggestion of a scene or event, and then letting your imagination tell you the story, then this album is a rewarding listen.  It seems to me that such an approach sometimes was required to appreciate the work of Mark Everett as Eels, and of Elliott Smith.

I encourage you to stream the tracks below.  I assure you that the album stands up well to repeated listens.

Posthumous Release was produced by Jason and Brad of TV Girl.  It is out now via Fork and Spoon Records.

Fork and Spoon Records

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

REVIEW: Myron & E (Featuring The Soul Investigators) - Broadway

We first heard of Myron & E with the Soul Investigators a few months back when they released the lead track from their new album Broadway - the album is on  Stones Throw and was released last week (July 2). It is sweet, sweet soul music through and through - simultaneously old school, and young and fresh. Myron Glasper is from LA, Eric "E da Boss" Cooke from New Jersey, but they met in the Bay Area, while working with Blackalicious. Cooke was the tour DJ, Glasper sang backup. They have fairly extensive music histories individually, but together they really shine.

Previously featured on WYMA (post here), "If I Gave You My Love" was the first track to be released from the latest sessions. That one's got some great horns, a Motown drum beat and their contrasting vocal styles.

The opening track is a soul ballad, "Turn Back", and they have great voices for a soul ballad - kind of along the sweet style of The Stylistics or Delfonics. This is one of those projects that makes so much sense when you listen to it, it's amazing to think of the coincidences and circumstances that led them, and the backing band, The Soul Investigators, to come together. Here's a live video of them performing album track "On Broadway":

As great as the vocals are, the band supplies the perfect basis for them - guitar lines and horns ride on top of a super-tight rhythm section. The drum and bass are so good, you may find yourself focusing on the drums or bass alone, on songs like "Everyday Love". Then again, there are terrific soul touches everywhere - the strings and flute on "I Can't Let You Get Away", the old-school soul guitar intro on "Cold Game" and the psychedelic guitar and keyboards on "Back N Forth". Here's a live performance of "I Can't Let You Get Away".

This album is wonderful, and we have Stones Throw to thank for bringing it to us. And courtesy of Stones Throw, here's a non-album track, "Clap Sing":

Learn more, listen and buy at Stones Throw and Myron & E's Facebook page. And stay tuned for more information about the upcoming Stones Throw Soul Tour, featuring these guys and other label acts like The Stepkids, Dam-Funk and label founder Peanut Butter Wolf.

Stones Throw website
Myron & E Facebook

REVIEW: Midnight Juggernauts - Uncanny Valley

Is seems to me that when an album is named for a phenomena relating to a certain point on the continuum on which humans' affinity for robots turns to revulsion as robots appear most human, there is a good chance that the band thinks carefully about the details.  And while electro-pop is, for me, a genre usually enjoyed in bursts of several songs rather than full length albums, I was intrigued enough to give Uncanny Valley by Melbourne's Midnight Juggernauts a chance.  What I learned is that, indeed, this is a band that is good at the details.  The ten tracks of eminently danceable pop contains bright hooks, lush backgrounds, driving rhythms and hazy vocals.  The emotional temperature varies been eastern bloc icy (there is a bit of a Soviet fixation that I haven't had the inclination to probe), but the balance of elements is perfect throughout.  What is even more remarkable is that the album seems to have a depth of time to its sonic palette.  By that I mean that I hear touches of old analog disco and new wave pop with the more modern dance features.  Perhaps Midnight Juggernauts' practice of using traditional rock instruments and playing them through pedals, samplers and other effects contributes is partially responsible, but I'll stick with my thesis that this trio pays attention to the details.  In my view Uncanny Valley should be on the 2013 "essential" list for electro-pop fans, but is recommended for anyone with an interest in the genre.

I believe that this video for "Sugar and Bullets" was created by a fan.  The track will prompt your feet to move completely unbidden:

Midnight Juggernauts - Sugar and Bullets from Ava Yutsuko on Vimeo.

Here the lads indulge their Soviet bloc hobby --

Uncanny Valley is the third LP from Midnight Juggernauts in seven years.  Recorded in France and Australia, it was released this week via Paris, France label Record Makers.

Record Makers

New EP from Turnpike Glow - Fünke Pop

Turnpike Glow is an Italian/UK guitar rock band we have featured on WYMA before (WYMA review here). Founders Giuseppe La Mela (vocals/bass/keys) and Sandro Schiena (vocals/guitar/keys) are joined by Anthony J. Hutchinson (drums) and Tom P. Griffiths (guitar/backing vocals), and the group's wildly creative, eclectic, try-anything approach reflects both the band members' creativity and the variety in their backgrounds.

They're back with a new EP, Fünke Pop (named after Tobias, as they are Arrested Development fans) and it features more of their upbeat rhythms and all kinds of guitars - skittering leads, afro-pop influenced runs and even some electric guitar solos. The vocals are somewhat reminiscent of other European pop bands like Phoenix, or in places the psychedelic approach of the namesakes of this track, "Her Flaming Lips":

Explaining the inspiration of this song, Schiena said: “The story of this girl is essentially the way The Flaming Lips’ music and live shows make us feel. There’s a really powerful message of love that comes across when you listen to their songs or attend one of their shows, which we wanted to capture in this song.” I think the spirit of the Flaming Lips is also captured in the EP's opening cut "Heels In Madrid", a song about enjoying being lost in a great city.

The record was released last week (July 2) and they've made it available to stream or buy at Bandcamp.

Turnpike Glow Facebook

Introducing: Gateway Drugs

Gateway Drugs are Liv Niles, Gabriel Niles, Blues Williams and Noa Niles.  The Los Angeles band plays psychedelic pop, and they play it well.  A five-track EP of demos is available at 'name your price' at the Bandcamp link. Below is a stream and video for one of the songs, "Cemetery Flings".  I don't know any more about them, but I like their music and hope that there will be more.

"Till You Come Home" also is on the demos EP --


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

NEW SONGS: Week of Wonders - "Piggybacks" single

Week of Wonders is a new project of Leif Anders, former member of Orca Team. This new band formed in January 2013, playing music they call "tropical punk". I certainly get the tropical part, and perhaps there's some punk in the skittering nature of the rhythm section. But the vocals and guitars (which to me have an Afro-pop lean) are melodic as heck, which is something this band has in common with Orca Team. Both Scott (here) and I (here) featured Orca Team previously on WYMA, so this successor project is certainly welcome here, too.

Here's the video for "Piggyback":

And here's the b-side "The End of the Day":

They're on Athens label HHBTM Records.

Week of Wonders Facebook

REVIEW: Tedo Stone - Good Go Bad

Not yet familiar with Tedo Stone?  I can't fault you.  A month ago I had never heard of Mr. Stone either.  But when I received Good Go Bad from the lovely folks at Atlanta's This is American Music, I paid attention.  And while the national music press hasn't been rushing out with reviews, I think they are missing the boat here.  After listening, I happily resigned myself to rearranging my publication schedule to make room for it.  There is genuine talent here, and this would be a good time to catch the Tedo wave.

So what is compelling about Good Go Bad?  On major positive is the vocals.  Tedo is blessed with a soulful, high-timbre croon that is captivating and warm.  The band, Stone -- Clay Houle, Frank Keith IV, and Grafton Tanner -- can buzz, riff and chunk like a mix of '70s rock and classic southern rock, but they dial it down adeptly for slow tempo numbers, relying on restrained arrangements and Stone's voice.  In fact, despite some writers emphasizing the '70s rock influence, to my ears the entirety of Good Go Bad has more of a soulful storytelling vibe than a hard hitting rock album (although I'm left with no doubt that this band can shake the walls of a live venue).  Overall, there is a plenitude of diversity on display, and this group is consistently impressive at any volume or speed.

The album begins with "Big As The Ocean", featuring a percussion introduction and then layering in the vocals and guitars.  It is an assured beginning, and displays the band's talent to rock.  The proceedings dial back for the title track, which wears its southern influence on its sleeve --

The third track, "Taste" showcases much of what is so great about this album.  It has the swagger of T. Rex, melodic guitar riffs and some psychedelic swirl--

The next few songs showcase the restrained soulful storytelling.  I think the best of them is "Back Again", which is presented here in a video of a live acoustic performance.

One of my favorite tracks is "High", which relies on excellent vocal supported by an intriguing drum beat and an organ --

The album ends well, with three strong tracks -- "Time", "War" and "Downtown"

Good Go Bad is out today on This Is American Music.

This Is American Music

REVIEW: Robert Pollard - Honey Locust Honky Tonk

Robert Pollard's 19th solo outing is Honey Locust Honky Tonk. As has been the case for quite some time, Pollard is perfectly willing to get his Circus Devils in his Pollard, or his Boston Spaceships in his GbV. There is a certain amount of cohesion within some of the projects, given the changes in personnel, but in reality, the creativity and imagination of Robert Pollard is the base upon which every single one of these seemingly hundreds of albums is built.

Honey Locust Honky Tonk is a Robert Pollard solo album, in the same vein as previous great Pollard solo works like Kid Marine and Waved Out, and the good news is, it's of that quality, too. But like any really good Pollard project, the album features a number of curveballs. "He Requested Things," and "Circus Green Machine" are abstract, mostly acoustic numbers, but not entirely - the opening track features some nice rock guitar and an impassioned Pollard vocal:

"Suit Minus the Middle" and "Who Buries the Undertaker" are brief, rocking and upbeat, and the latter song will probably be my favorite song on the album at some point. But neither is as upbeat as the bouncy, poppy "She Hides in Black" - the rhythm track to that one wouldn't be out of place in Hall & Oates' catalog, but it also contains a heavy dose of prog, as does the song immediately following, "Her Eyes Play Tricks on the Camera". Like I said, curveballs... "Find a Word" is melodic and beautiful, with a nice acoustic guitar line, but also an undercurrent of menace. As with the six albums he released last year under various names, there are just about 17 potential favorite songs on this album, and plenty of killer one-two punches he's so fond of delivering... an example being the short, acoustic "Shielding Whatever Needs You" into the single "I Killed a Man Who Looks Like You", a pretty, country-inflected acoustic ballad:

That one sets up the last three tracks: the full-sounding singalong "Real Fun Is No One's Monopoly" and the well-sung ballad "It Disappears in the Least Likely Hands (We May Never Not Know),"  The longest track on the record, the majestic ballad "Airs" does a nice job of summing up the proceedings.

Apparently Honey Locust Honky Tonk is an album title that he's been waiting to use for 20 years. Can you imagine being productive, creative and fecund enough to keep a title that whimsical in reserve for 20 years? I recently saw an interview with a couple of rock musicians, one of whom described the difficulty he has in coming up with new ideas after having written over 200 songs. Robert Pollard writes 200 songs for breakfast. And the question remains: how can they all be so good?

It's out today (July 9) on GBV, Inc. and available via Rockathon.

Robert Pollard website

NEW SONG: The Vickers - "She's Lost" b/w "All I Need"

From Florence, Italy comes psychedelic rock outfit The Vickers, who've just released a two-track single accompanied by a trippy video. The front side, "She's Lost" features a subdued intro with sort of a motorik drumbeat onto which they layer all kinds of guitars - surf guitar, psychedelic solos - and spacey, reverb-laden vocals:

Here's the b-side, "All I Need" - a little more jagged on the drums and the guitar intro, but still featuring nice reverb on the vocals and psychedelic guitar work:

It's reminiscent of Tame Impala (the vocals mostly) and some of my Paisley Underground favorites, The Rain Parade (especially the guitars)... all good stuff. Looking forward to hearing more. Until then, here's one more song, a very good cover of "She Said She Said". In addition to good psychedelic chops, they've got excellent taste:

The band consists of Andrea Mastropietro on guitar and vocals, Federico Sereni on bass and vocals, Francesco Marchi on guitar and vocals, and Marco Biagiotti on drums and backing vocals. You can learn more, or follow a link to buy the music, at their website or Facebook.

The Vickers website

Monday, July 8, 2013

REVIEW: Dirty Streets - Blades of Grass

Formed by Thomas Storz (bass, percussion), Justin Toland (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Andrew Denham (drums, percussion) the heavy blues-rock power trio Dirty Streets now calls Memphis home (they're originally from Mississippi). Ardent Studio in Memphis is where they recorded their new album Blades Of Grass. They share a label with WYMA favorites Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, and have opened for them. That was certainly enough to earn a listen, and from there, the deep groove, guitars and pianos are plenty of incentive to stick around for the whole album.

Here's the album opener, "Stay Thirsty", from which you'll absolutely get a Jeff Beck Group vibe - check out the guitar/piano interplay about :45 into the track... it reminds me of an old favorite, "Goin' Down":

The free download of that one may still be available.

Here's the title track - in addition to the way the rhythm section boogies, check out those deep, heavy guitar tones and the interplay with the vocals, which call to mind both psychedelic rock and blues at the same time:

The band already has two independent releases under their belt, including an album with renowned Memphis producer Doug Easley (Grifters, GbV, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Reigning Sound - just to name a few). They also recently toured with labelmates Radio Moscow. If you like heavy blues rock, and some of the other Alive/Naturalsound bands we've featured in the past (Radio Moscow, Lee Bains, John the Conqueror), this will please you. You can learn more and buy at Alive/Naturalsound, or get the limited edition color vinyl at Bomp! Records.

Dirty Streets Facebook
Alive/Naturalsound Records
Bomp Records

New song from Terry Malts, album on the way

Killing Time, the debut album from the Bay area's three-bay garage band Terry Malts was one of my favorites last year (my 2012 list), so I'm very happy at the news that we will have their sophomore release Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere, in September on Slumberland Records.  To remind us why we care, here is "I Was Not There", a track off the upcoming album:


REVIEW: Jason Isbell - Southeastern

The strong statement made by Jason Isbell on Southeastern starts even before you open the CD. The black and white cover photo is a close-up of Isbell's face looking straight into the camera.  He appears  serious, clear eyed and present, as if to say: "Here I am, fully prepared to give you my best and be held accountable for my past, present and future."

And the title Southeastern - after going through alcohol rehab, traveling the globe performing and surviving quite a difficult life journey - reflects the homestead and foundation of the 34 year old singer-songwriter. Southeastern is self-released, recorded in Nashville where Isbell resides, produced extremely well by Nashvillian Dave Cobb and in all regards remaining honest to Isbell's Alabama roots. Southeastern reflects a man both humble and supremely confident is his ability to make music. And this renewed focus makes Southeastern by far the best of Isbell's career.      

The CD begins with "Cover Me Up" that has a sound as stark and direct as the gaze of the cover photo.  Isbell has never sung better and the bittersweet acoustic music is striking and right on.

Next up is "Stockholm", a plea to go home and find love and redemption:

That's Kim Richey on background vocals.

The highlight of highlights here is "Traveling Alone":

"Traveling Alone" has been haunting for me for weeks since I first heard it. So much pain, beauty and truth here. Hitting bottom and getting up and crawling back. I love the overall sound, especially the fiddle (by Amanda Shires whom Isbell married earlier this year). It's a truly perfect country rock song that's got it all - great chorus, terrific bridge, and memorable lines like "So high, the street girls wouldn't take my pay. She said come see me on a better day, and she just danced away." 

I am similarly stuck on "Flying Over Water", a rock song which hooks you with the opening line: "From the sky we look so organized and brave." More redemption and searching for connection and love. 

It's harder Southern rock you want? You'll love "Super 8" featuring WYMA favorite Will Johnson (Centro-matic, etc.):

"Super 8" has the strong but unadorned, direct rock'n'roll sound I kept hoping to hear from Jason & the Scorchers, the prototype Southern alternative rock band whose producers and record companies kept taking them down suburban metal rabbit holes in the mid to late 1980's, it seeming like somehow none of them had the good sense that Isbell and Cobb show to just follow the The Band's blueprint. Isbell wears his Southern literature and Southern alternative rock roots on his sleeve, but he takes the genre to heights it has rarely seen. 

And on it goes - all 12 songs here are remarkably good. Isbell's 3 prior records all had some fine songs that realized on the promise shown when Isbell burst on the scene contributing "Outfit" and the title track to the Drive-By Truckers' Decoration Day in 2003. But Southeastern is a big step up for him - Isbell puts it all out there and makes a bold, career defining record that places him firmly within the company of his most talented peers like Steve Earle, Patterson Hood and Ryan Adams.  Isbell is a careful writer with a great eye for detail and a Springsteen-esque knack for finding the way to deliver the right line at the right time to say a lot in few words.  

And while this record certainly deals with Isbell previous alcohol demons, it is not some self-absorbed 12 step exercise. To the contrary, the themes of the difficulties of life, mistakes we make, redemption and love are told so well that they become universal and far more than any one man's journey. 

Southeastern will easily make my top 10 list for 2013. 

Here's an excellent feature story from the New York Times on Isbell and the background to Southeastern: Jason Isbell Unloaded

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Mixtape EP - Free download from The Dirty Nil - including GbV cover!

Hamilton-based punk band The Dirty Nil has just released a new 4-song mixtape EP - they're covering some outstanding punk and garage rock from The Misfits, Iggy Pop, Guided By Voices, and Merle Haggard. Merle Haggard? Well, honestly, songs don't get much more punk than "Mama Tried". Haggard blurred the line between country and rock, and in the history of rock lyrics, the line "I turned 21 in prison" is one of the all-time best:

Here's "Game of Pricks". There was exactly zero chance I wouldn't post this thing - their cover is really good. Energetic, with good guitar tones and vocal harmonies:

And here's a video for "Zombie Eyed", a song from their split single we shared earlier this year (WYMA post here):

The Summer Mixtape and the previous single are available for "name your price" or free download at Bandcamp. And The Dirty Nil is definitely on our radar.

If you're in Canada, make note of their "Assholes of Summer Tour":


The Dirty Nil Bandcamp

REVIEW: Twin Peaks - Sunken

College football fans know that the corridors of Chicago-area high schools are a second home to college football recruiters.  Perhaps the music industry should take the hint.  ("I like your fingers, kid. You've got quickness you just can't coach.  I'd live to see you in a Sony sponsored soft drink advert ...").  It won't work for everyone in the industry.  Due to a misunderstanding about a punch bowl and a bottle of Everclear at my senior prom, I'm not exactly welcome in secondary institutions.  But Autumn Tone Records seems to have torn a page from the pigskin recruiters.  We very recently covered The Orwells, Chicago-area kids recently out of high school who have just released their second record on Autumn Tone.  And we're coming right back to you with the even younger Twin Peaks, who are releasing their eight-track album Sunken via Autumn Tone on July 9.

Ace purveyors of fuzzy garage anthems, Twin Peaks chugs, shreds and, quite simply, gets the old blood racing through the veins.  But don't dismiss them as one dimensional.  The performances betray excellent musicianship and the layered arrangements indicate a band that is both serious and sophisticated about their craft.  My guess is that the band's versatility is one of the attributes that will help them survive in this business.  Four teenagers who can convincingly shake the garage walls and then knock out a note perfect slice of fuzz that approaches dream pop are guys that I think we can expect to thrill us for years in the future.

Twin Peaks - Fast Eddie from RYAN OHM ▲ on Vimeo.

Twin Peaks is Cadien, Clay, Connor and Jack.

Autumn Tone Records

Introducing: The Orwells

Sometimes you just want rock and roll.  But being picky, excuse me, "discriminating", you don't want it too generic.  You want the attitude and noise, but you want some hooks, some sense of melody, song craft and (why not?) a sense of humor.  Where would you find such a thing?  Well, Elmhurst, Illinois might be a good place to look (yes, WYMA even hits the suburbs from time to time).  And in Elmhurst, we find The Orwells -- five guys that like their rock with streak of slacker and a jolt of punk, which is more than enough to make for a very interesting Other Voices EP.  The record is out now on Autumn Tone Records, and consists of five tracks.  There are two versions of the title track (one of which can be streamed below), "Blood Bubbles" (which is presented with a twisted video below), "Head", and a live version of "Mallrats".

Other Voices follows the bands 2012 debut LP Remember When, which was recorded when the members of The Orwells were still in high school.

The ORWELLS - Blood Bubbles from Eddie O'KEEFE on Vimeo.

The Orwells are touring with FIDLAR this fall.  Check the dates below and see if you are in a lucky city.  Alas, I am not.

Autumn Tone Records
iTunes link for EP

The Orwells On Tour with FIDLAR
9/20/13 - Santa Barbara - CA - Velvet Jones
9/23/13 - Tucson, AZ - Club Congress
9/24/13 - Phoenix, AZ - The Crescent Ballroom
9/26/13 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
9/27/13 - Kansas City, MO - Czar Bar
9/30/13 - Columbia, MO - Mojo's
10/02/13 - Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
10/07/13 - New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jacks 
10/08/13 - Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon 
10/14/13 - Nashville, TN - Exit/In 
10/18/13 - Toronto, ON - Hard Luck 
10/19/13 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore 
10/23/13 - Cambridge, MA - The Sinclair 
10/24/13 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom 
10/25/13 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church 
10/26/13 - Washington, D.C. - Rock and Roll Hotel 
10/28/13 - Pittsburgh, PA - The Smiling Moose Upstairs 
10/29/13 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop 
10/31/13 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean 
11/01/13 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon 
11/02/13 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry