Saturday, August 3, 2013

NEW SONG: Saint Rich - "Officer" from upcoming Beyond The Drone


Saint Rich is composed of Delicate Steve bandmates Steve Marion and Christian Peslak. They play a muscular, sort of psychedelic/boogie guitar rock with dense interplay between two leads. They'll have an album Beyond The Drone out in October in the US and Europe.

Here's a short video teaser:



And here's a preview track to stream - "Officer" - influences are pretty clearly (among other things) 70's Stones and T Rex... that's a very nice acoustic-into-electric break beginning about 2:45 in and building momentum toward some guitar pyrotechnics over the last part of the track. I'm looking forward to hearing more.



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Saint Rich at Merge Records

Friday, August 2, 2013

REVIEW: BELLS≥ - Solutions, Silence, or Affirmations


Brooklyn-based BELLS≥Solutions, Silence, or Affirmations, shows a confident, tough and sometimes achingly beautiful approach to instrumental writing and performing. The pace is set throughout by former Jawbox drummer Zach Barocas, along with guitarists Stephen Shodin and Chris Ernst, cellist Gordon Withers and producer/bassist J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels, Office of Future Plans). D.C. bass duo Argos contributed basses on “Promenade.” Tom Broucksou is now the band's bassist.

Barocas and Robbins, who have over a 20-year friendship and collaboration in Jawbox and elsewhere, create a lively, muscular base for the music... and the guitars and cello interplay masterfully. This is music that will appeal to fans of instrumental rock of any stripe, especially the stuff that often gets labeled "math rock" or "post rock". It's fiery, but at the same time it exhibits a sort of quiet confidence and patience. On the opening track "Apostatic", as on most of the record, the drums set the pace throughout and create a framework within which the guitars sort of swing back and forth and the cello fills the sound. On "Brothers, Sisters" the cello and guitars at the outset are laid sort of quietly on top of the drums, until both swell up to fill the room about 2:30 in.

Here's "No More Water", which makes good use of the contrast between sound levels and tempos the band plays with:



And here's "Metatron" - which calls to mind, in places, a revved-up Mogwai track:



As you listen, it's clear this is a drummer's band, and the guitars and cello follow Barocas' lead and make one of the strongest records of 2013. It's out now (July 30) and available now via Bandcamp or all the usual outlets... though the band makes the statement that, to get the album they intended, with the interstitial pieces intact, you're best with the vinyl or the Bandcamp download. You can read more about that at their website.

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REVIEW: Béisbol - Lo-Fi Cocaine


Beisbol is a duo, brothers Jeff and Ryan Burian. Originally from Southern California, now based in Portland, they describe their sound simply as "pop rock music with synthesizers implemented within." But like a lot of one-line descriptions, that falls woefully short of capturing the joy in this music. It's summer pop, for sure, and very well-crafted, deftly combining yet hiding a variety of pop rock influences throughout the album. Songs like "Ready For Something" and "Disappear" have more than trace amounts of Steely Dan influences. "Disappear", with a falsetto vocal, is kind of mesmerizing:



Here's "Big Folk", a sweet, soothing instrumental:



Here's "Nothing Strange", probably the best, most fully-realized track on the album - and a newly-released video:

Béisbol - Nothing Strange from Emilee Booher on Vimeo.



It's a most impressive debut. There aren't many ways you could get sounds this smooth yet invigorating from just two dudes... it probably helps, them being brothers. It's out now (released in June) on Bad Cop Records. Looks like iTunes or Amazon is the way to buy, for now.

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"Headlights" by Tor Miller


I'd heard some buzz about young singer songwriter Tor Miller, but until today I hadn't heard any of his work.  But after listening to his first official single, "Headlights", I am a believer.  Accompanied only by a piano, Tor delivers a soulful, arresting vocal performance.  Still a student at NYU, by the time fall classes commence Tor will have performed at home and London.  This young man can write, and he can perform.  I think we will hear more from him.


Current tour dates:
08.07 - The Lock Tavern - London, UK
08.21 - The Lock Tavern - London, UK
08.27 - Rockwood Music Hall - New York, NY
09.12 - The Bitter End - New York, NY


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REVIEW: Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants - All Hat And No Cattle


The title of the new album by Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants - All Hat And No Cattle - is, of course, a self-deprecating use of an old saying ranchers would use to describe a small-time, big-talk rival: i.e., "all talk, no action". But Shifflett and his band, to stretch the metaphor, have plenty of cattle. They can really play this stuff.

As expected from a rock guitarist whose day job is with the Foo Fighters, Shiflett leads his band through some breakneck guitar workouts inspired by some of country's greatest guitar slingers - people like Don Rich. Here's the lead track, "Guitar Pickin' Man":



Here's a rollicking version of Del Reeves' signature honky-tonker, "Good Time Charlie's":



And the original track on here, "A Woman Like You" is fantastic, a guitar-based rave-up that simultaneously pays tribute to the Bakersfield sound of Owens and Haggard, and British-invasion guitar rock. The piano/guitar interplay over the last minute or so of "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" is just delightful, and reminds me of Southern rock favorites like Skynyrd's "Call Me The Breeze" or some of the Allmans' work on Brothers And Sisters.

But the revelation here is the true country nature of the proceedings... there is some great piano and pedal steel, and Shiflett's vocals have a nice twang to them on slower numbers like "Happy Part of Town" and "King of Fools", and on repeated listen, this stuff holds up very well in rotation with good modern traditionalist country music like Dwight Yoakam, Marty Stuart and Jim Lauderdale. Further, Shiflett's really dug into the canon to come up with some gems by true country music legends who aren't necessarily household names - folks like Wynn Stewart, Del Reeves and Jim Ed Brown ("Pop a Top"), as well as a fairly non-obvious Haggard tune, his first song "Skid Row". This and the way he varies the country influences and tempos shows that Shiflett isn't just fooling around with country music on this record - he's got it in his soul. He's onto something here, and I hope he'll keep it going.

All Hat And No Cattle is out now (July 30) on Side One Dummy Records.

Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants website
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"He Doesn't Even Like You" by Alpaca Sports


I don't have the time to provide citations, but I'm quite sure that science has proven that a disproportionate percentage of Swedes have the gene that leads to pristine, twee pop music.  Today's evidence is from Göteborg, home of Alpaca Sports.  The two-track "He Doesn't Even Like You" is available as a digital download; the limited edition 7" is already sold out.

The band has released a number of one and two track records which are available on their bandcamp page.


And for fun, here is the official video --

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Friday Nuggets - The Defectors "It's Gonna Take Some Time"

I am writing this just before I leave for a trip to Denmark. Hey Danish readers - leave a comment here of what I should be sure to see beyond the obvious either in Copenhagen or around Fredericia.

So I went searching for Danish garage bands and came upon quite a bit going back all the way to the mid-'60's.

But the video that really grabbed me was by a more recent band, The Defectors, from Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city, well known for its vibrant arts scene.  And if the Defectors are any indicator, then that rep is well earned!

Here's "It's Gonna Take Some Time" from 2004:


The Defectors are known as the "Evil Fuzz Kings of Denmark", which clearly is a language we speak here at WYMA.

The Defectors web page. 
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Drifting" from Bitch Prefect


Australian slacker guitar pop trio Bitch Prefect will release their LP Bird Nerds on November 4 via Bedroom Suck Records.  Will it really be "an encyclopedic exploration of time, space and rare Australian birds", as some have suggested?  I can't reveal that yet.  But I can share the video for "Drifting", which will be the opening track.  Seems to me that there may be some laconic musings on the cosmos.


Bitch Prefect - Drifting from BSR on Vimeo.

Here is a link to their early 2011 three-track EP which was released by R.I.P. Society Records.  Note that the third song is a free download.

Bitch Prefect is Liam Kenny, Pat Telfer and Scott O'Hara.  I believe they are residing in Adelaide.

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REVIEW: Spaceships - Cool Breeze Over The Mountains


Spaceships is a L.A.-based duo that plays, in their words, "noise-pop-bedroom-garage-punk". I'm happy to use their words, because they cover it pretty well. They've been compared to Times New Viking and Guided By Voices. Those are fine comparisons, if they get you to listen, and you do definitely get at least two of the four P's... but bear in mind that the lead singer, Jessie Waite, is a lady. She's great, by the way - very enthusiastic and charismatic. Kevin LaRose, the drummer, makes a ton of noise. Their new album is Cool Breeze Over the Mountains.

Opening track is "Little", and it sets the tone with crashing drumbeats and noisy guitar, with some sort of snarly vocals. It ends suddenly and leads into "Snow Mountain", which, while still lo-fi, is more majestically paced and heavier. The vocals on this one are plain, almost without affect - until about 1:00 in, when they get loud and insistent, and LaRose starts crashing around while Waite starts shredding. "New Wishing" is just an old-school loud/fast punk song, and it's very well done.



"Limit" and "Ghost" are a bit longer and "Limit" a bit sludgier, because about halfway through, why not slow down and anchor things a bit? "Limit" even has a guitar jam about halfway through. "Ghost" is probably my favorite track on the album, as it contains the urgent pace Spaceships is best at with enough changes in tempo and structure to keep things interesting... and it has a great little guitar hook that gets repeated a couple times throughout the song.

Here's a video, and a stream, for "Ghost":

Spaceships "Ghost" from Spaceships on Vimeo.



Everything on here features a bit of the punk/surf aesthetic, including plenty of reverb on vocals and guitars in places. Again, LaRose's drumming is terrific. Here's a live performance of the title track - love the repeated surf guitar riff in this one:



Spaceships is a good name for this band - a friendly, somewhat bumpy ride out of this world and back... The record is out now (released July 23) on Mock Records.

And here is one more treat - a live cover of AC/DC's "Big Balls":



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"Jukebox Dream" from Rebel Light


Sometimes what the summer requires is that you have some summer tunes.  You know, reinforce the vibe and maintain the mood.  Los Angeles band Rebel Light may have just what you are looking for -- an upbeat pop tune called "Jukebox Dream".  Stream it below, and if you like it click on the Bandcamp link, where the song is available for "name your price".  Since you'll tip your server with the beer the song prompts you to buy, it would only be fair to tip the band as well.


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New Video from William Tyler - "A Portrait of Sarah"


Nashville guitarist William Tyler's Impossible Truth is one of the best records of 2013... and one of the best guitar instrumental records since John Fahey's heyday. We reviewed it here, and have shared a few videos that were released as followups. In addition to his guitar work, Tyler runs a restaurant/music venue in Nashville, The Stone Fox. And he makes engaging, interesting videos, like this one for album track "A Portrait of Sarah". Made with Nashville filmmaker Michael Carter, it's an homage to the 1971 film Two Lane Blacktop, and once again Tyler's music serves as a cinematic inspiration.



Read more about Tyler and the album, listen or just buy it at Merge Records.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Big Big Blood" by La Luz (free download)


Seattle's La Luz is celebrating their recent signing to Hardly Art by offering a free download of "Big Big Blood".  The debut LP, It's Alive, will be released by Hardly Art in October.


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REVIEW: The Mallard - Finding Meaning in Deference


Yes on Blood, the 2012 debut LP from San Francisco's The Mallard was one of my top five albums of the year.  It was a bit of garage, a bit of surf, a bit of punk, and a lot of interesting rhythms.  Conceived and recorded by Greer McGettrick, The Mallard expanded to a live three piece to perform the tunes.  During 2012, while promoting Yes on Blood, Greer began writing the sophomore LP.  That album has become Finding Meaning in Deference, which was released this week by Castle Face Records.  Quite simply, this album is a beast.  A grand, snorting, charging beast.  While elements of the the garage rock ethos permeate the album, and some psychedelia creeps in, Finding Meaning in Deference is tough, unapologetic, angular post punk, with plenty of clang and well used dissonance.  It is taut, a bit nervous, and bursting with energy and spiky shards of glass.  And it is done so well that it prompted me to re-examine some albums previously released this year that trumpeted their post punk bona fides; after listening to Finding Meaning in Deference, most of them are left in The Mallard's furious wake.

I was only able to find one track to embed in this post, the album closer "Iceberg".   Fortunately, although the album boasts diverse song structures, "Iceberg" is fairly representative.  If you search the internet you may find a download of "Crystals & Candles" (a spiky post-punk coat of paint on solid garage rock bones -- add a psychedelic swirl garnish, and you have a delicious track).  If you want to sample other tracks, you can try Amazon or iTunes.  I recommend "React", "Just An Ending", "Gestur" and "Out the Door" for starters.

There is more than a twinge of regret in posting this review, as Greer disbanded The Mallard after SXSW 2013 and before this album was released.  So this would appear to be the last time I will write about one of my favorite bands of the last two years.

Did Greer, whose stage persona (while always professional) seemed to vary between reluctant and fierce,  burn out on performing?  Did she burn out in satisfying her obviously perfectionist recording muse?  Her statement said that she was sick of her songs and sick of performing them, and needed time away from the music scene.  I have met her, and she is an impressive young lady.  I hope she finds what she is looking for.



For this album, The Mallard was Greer McGettrick, Dylan Tidyman-Jones, Miles Luttrell and Danny Kendrick.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

REISSUES: George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers - George Thorogood And The Destroyers and Move It On Over


When George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers burst onto the national scene in 1977, roots rock music was all but absent from contemporary radio. But it seems as though each generation calls for a return to roots - and Thorogood's band was it for the "punk and disco era" of the late 70's. Sometimes a bar band is so good, so focused and so exciting that they are able to take their act to a national stage, and within four years, Thorogood's band was opening for the Rolling Stones - all this by interspersing originals with early rock tracks by Chuck Berry, Elmore James, Bo Diddley, Hank Williams and Jimmy Reed.

Whether it was a gimmick or a demonstration of stamina (probably both), George and the band embarked on their “50 States in 50 Dates” tour, traveling in a Checker Cab (flying only to Alaska and Hawaii).

From Rounder's announcement:

The Destroyers went on to continued and greater success after leaving Rounder, when the label entered a joint venture with EMI for George’s fourth album, Bad to the Bone, but their first two albums are the essence of everything that makes the band great. Recorded live in the studio, George Thorogood & the Destroyers and Move It On Over capture perfectly the energy of their live shows. There’s not a wasted note, and if George never aimed for the pyrotechnics of later blues rockers such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, the directness of his approach cuts straight to the heart of each song.

On July 30, 2013, Rounder Records will re-release Thorogood’s first two albums, 1977’s George Thorogood:

1. You Got To Lose (3:15)
2. Madison Blues (4:24)
3. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (8:20)
4. Kind Hearted Woman (3:48)
5. Can’t Stop Lovin’ (3:04)
6. Ride On Josephine (4:17)
7. Homesick Boy (3:02)
8. John Hardy (3:18)
9. I’ll Change My Style (3:57)
10. Delaware Slide (7:45)



and 1978’s Move It On Over.

1. Move It On Over (4:16)
2. Who Do You Love (4:15)
3. The Sky Is Crying (5:09)
4. Cocaine Blues (2:46)
5. It Wasn’t Me (3:54)
6. That Same Thing (3:05)
7. So Much Trouble (3:15)
8. I’m Just Your Good Thing (3:29)
9. Baby Please Set A Date (4:42)
10. New Hawaiian Boogie (4:34)



Thirty-five years later, these performances still ring true. Mastered from new digital transfers of the original analog tapes, these albums have never sounded better. If you were around when these first came out, the joy of hearing them in good digital format will make you happy. If you weren't and you like roots rock, well, you're in for a treat...

George Thorogood website
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NEW SONGS: Flamingo Bay - "Serpentine" b/w "Bleed" from upcoming album Loco Pony


Calling their music "Northern swamp rock", Flamingo Bay has the stomp, swagger and best of all, the guitar noise to make good on the promise of a Canadian band who entitle an album Loco Pony. Yeah, I didn't get it at first... but on my second listen, as the first track "Serpentine" hit about the 0:50 mark, I got it... Crazy Horse. The turnarounds in the song, the guitar riffs, the crashing drums - all of it is impeccably done but simple and just dirty as hell. And the vocals contain more than a passing resemblance to the great Alejandro Escovedo. If that's not enough for you to check these guys out, you probably hate rock and roll. Which is fine, but I just don't know what you are doing here. Here's "Serpentine":





Here's "Bleed" - which contains all the guitar swagger, but is more uptempo with a lot of punk energy, and some guitar feedback:



The band consists of Dillon Henningson, Kris Gies and Vince Rankin - a hard-working power trio with a ton of promise. This single is free for now on Bandcamp (just click through the links above), the album's due out in September - if you like guitar rock, don't waste any more time. Grab this gift from north of the border.

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REVIEW: Heaven - Telepathic Love


With today's release of Telepathic Love Brooklyn's Heaven have made their claim to be heirs to  Ride, and Spaceman 3 and The Jesus and Mary Chain in the Scottish act's more melodic moments.  The group is comprised of Matt Sumrow (Dean and Britta, Comas, and Ambulance LTD), Mikey Jones (Swervedriver, Big Sleep, and Snowden), and Ryan Lee Dunlap (Fan-Tan).  Sumrow and Jones have played together in Bolts of Melody, the project of Swervedriver's Adam Franklin.  This band is an opportunity for the guys to fulfill their shared musical visions.

And that vision is characterized by dense, melodic guitars, mid-tempo rhythms, vaguely druggy atmosphere and hushed, understated vocals.  Reverb, drone and fuzz are in good supply, but so is skill with pop melodies.  Thus, despite the classically heavy shoegaze/psychedelic sound, the songs remain accessible.  The result is a very promising debut.






My recommended tracks are "Colors In The Whites Of Your Eyes", "Telepathic Love", "Mountains Move", and "Once the Heartache".

Telepathic Love is out today on Goodnight Records.

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REVIEW: Jan Roth - L.O.W.


German pianist and multi-instrumentalist Jan Roth is a really impressive talent, and displays an interesting and varied approach on his debut album L.O.W. Roth demonstrates a facility with minimalist post-rock, piano jazz a la Brad Mehldau and cinematic, expansive music that falls between those touchpoints but somehow incorporates elements of prog and pop music, too. It's unique and always very listenable.

"Glühwürmchen" is a quiet start but a wonderful warm-up that showcases Roth's considerable piano skills and his facility with experimentation and with stretching and poking at the tempo and rhythm. "Einundzwanzig" is sort of cinematic - you can sort of picture a journey across a blasted landscape (or whatever type of landscape you might imagine). "Siebzehn" is one of the more upbeat, almost pop songs, but of course that is relative to the rest of this album:



"Kleine Freiheit" is reminiscent of some of the US jazz/hip-hop stuff from artists like Yesterday's New Quintet or The Bad Plus, or, again, Brad Mehldau. It's available for free download right now:



"Achtzehn" is perhaps my favorite song on the record, and showcases Roth's talent with using not a lot of notes to make some gorgeous music. Album closer "Regen" evokes more of a cityscape and is quietly beautiful, with only piano in the track. This is an impressive, sort of majestic debut. Roth has previously played drums live with German musician Tim Neuhaus at many of Hundreds' live shows. He has also played on many of Clueso and Max Prosa's records as well as countless jazz bands. L.O.W. is out now on German label Sinnbus Records.

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Math And Physics Club - Long Drag 7"


Math and Physics Club is a Seattle band I've been able to watch grow up (in an artistic sense).  I bought their debut EP in about 2005, and have happily enjoyed all of their subsequent releases.  Today, Matinee Recording releases the two-track Long Drag 7", which is the first record from the band since 2010.  Math and Physics Club songs have, in the past, tended to be twee, nerdy, romantic, humorous and self-deprecatory, as well as well written and boasting excellent melodies.  Nothing good from the past has been lost for Long Drag, but the title track presents an additional dimension -- a narrator who is angry and is willing to tell off his former lover.  The song is fast-paced, energetic.  Accompanied by staccato percussion and hand claps, he points out that he was holding up his side the relationship and she is the one who is failing to keep her end of the bargain.  It is a great pop song in every respect, but in particular possesses that killer refrain that makes the song memorable -- and reminds us of the power of music:  "My arms are shaking, I feel so naked.  It's my heart that's breaking in your hand.  But the song that's playing is my all-time favorite, and it just might save me in the end."





The B-side is "Across the Paper", a lovely twee song with clever lyrics sung wistfully to the accompaniment of ukuleles.  There is a bottom line here, and it is that this is one of the better 7" records you'll have a chance to buy this year.  And it is a great example of why singles are a wonderful way to experience new music.


The 7" was recorded at Dub Narcotic studios in Olympia, Washington, and precedes a new LP from the band.

Math and Physics Club are Charles Bert, Ethan Jones (who also is in Eux Autres), and James Werle.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Naked - Lie Follows Lie 7"


We are born naked, the undertaker prepares us for final rest naked, and moments in between we find ourselves naked.  When naked, we are defenseless, vulnerable, without trappings or extraneous distraction.  Edinburgh band Naked seeks to reveal that vulnerable, exposed element in music.  The band has just released their debut recording, the two-track Lie Follows Lie, on Song by Toad Records.  While two tracks is scant evidence to project a career arc, the songs comprising the single promise very good things for the future.

The title track is a icy, cinematic, reverb-heavy soundscape of guitar, vocals and percussion.  If it is dream pop, it is haunted dream pop.  "In Heaven" is a somewhat more traditional song, but yields nothing to the title track in terms of impact.  The vocals convey more emotion and the arrangement adeptly builds and releases tensions.  I love both tracks, but if I had to choose, I'd choose "In Heaven".



Here is the video for "Lie Follows Lie" --



Naked are Aggie, Alexander and Grant.  The members also have worked with Edinburgh School for the Death, which is one of my favorite Edinburgh bands over the last several years.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

New tracks from LUNGS "Faraway" b/w "Loner" - listen now, release date July 29


LUNGS is a British dream pop band, the project of former Guillemots guitarist MC Lord Magrão and vocalist Suzie Blake. They're due to release a 2-track single, ‘Faraway / Loner’ on July 29.

Here's "Faraway" - dreamy, really beautiful and kind of languidly paced. Blake's vocals predominate, and Magrao's soundscape is haunting:





Here's "Loner" - a bit faster-paced, and on this one Blake's vocals are urgent, almost shouted in places:



Looking forward to hearing more from them - and you can learn more, or order the single from Hero Records, at the links below.

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Lungs at Hero Records


REVIEW: Teenage Guitar - Force Fields At Home


A friend of mine is fond of expressing the sentiment that this is a very blessed time for fans of goofy, literate, well-crafted guitar rock... because we are fortunate indeed to share the planet with Robert Pollard and a number of record labels who are willing to let him release a seemingly unlimited number of records. Well, here we go again: Teenage Guitar is the name of this project, and the album is Force Fields At Home.

Teenage Guitar is mainly Robert Pollard, with some help from Greg Demos and Joe Patterson on drums and bass, respectively. All else is Pollard, and it's one of his more peripatetic releases, with a delightful variety of tempos and instrumentation. 

The opening track, "Court of Lions", is a fairly conventional Pollard guitar rock song with a strong vocal. The longest song "Come See The Supermoon" is one of the weirdest, and of course this album contains some of the ultra-short gems that Pollard and GbV fans are accustomed to expecting: "Strangers For A Better Society" and "Peter Pan Can" get to the point quickly, the latter with a double-tracked Pollard British-accented vocal, an insistent tension/release guitar line and just a bit of chaos. Taking the trend to what might be its ultimate conclusion, "Bars of Meaningless Matilda" is just a perfect :34 of guitar pop with no frills at all. This leads into a pretty, acoustic number "Harvest Whale" - with the pleasing sounds of acoustic guitars and vocals offset by what sounds like a struck spring or one of those giant plastic microphones.

Here's "Atlantic Cod", a majestic psych/pop song:


In short, the album covers the four P's and is a delightful mixture of oddities and delights - and being released on the same day as the previously-covered Honey Locust Honky Tonk, it merely confirms my friend's observation: these are special times indeed. 


REVIEW: Cuzo - Son Imaginaciones Teves


The roaring, driving sound of Spanish hard rock power trio Cuzo is back, and great news - they've lost none of their fire.

Here's the opening track, "Caída y Auge del Heavy Metal" - you could call the title a bit of statement of purpose:



And here's "Turbisofon", a heavy boogie/krautrock number with great drum, bass and synths:



The Spanish label BCore Disc has announced that, for a limited time, this and other releases are available for "name your price" on Bandcamp. Do not delay - this stuff will improve your collection immediately.