Saturday, October 26, 2013

Food Court - Smile At Your Shoes EP

The Venn diagram for Sydney's Food Court finds their sound at the intersection of punk, garage pop and grunge.  To my ears, the grunge is mostly evident in the growling guitars, while the remainder of the delivery is more of a joyous garage pop.  The band recently released a six track EP titled Smile at Your Shoes.  Take it for a test spin with the title track.  If you like it, check out the Bandcamp link, where you can stream the entire EP.  You also can buy it at the Bandcamp link, but in any case the title track is a free download.

Food Court is Cristian Campano (vocals/guitar), Lewis McKeown (bass/vocals), Dan De Santis (guitar), and Nic Puertolas (drums).  Smile at Your Shoes was recorded in Melbourne by Mark Doman and mixed and mastered by Mikey Young.


What a great song: "Hacienda Motel" by Pickwick

We cover a lot of good albums, EPs and singles here, but I think there is room to just showcase a great song, new or old, separate release or not.  Today's choice is "Hacienda Motel" by Seattle band Pickwick.  The song is the third track on their 2013 LP, Can't Talk Medicine, and for me it was the standout track on a solid album.  What makes it a great song?  It is the whole package.  The individual performances are great, from the Memphis soul opening featuring the bass, drums and keys, to Galen Disston's superb vocals, to the restrained guitar.  The arrangement is interesting and builds well.  And the lyrics draw you in from the start:
That whore she left you bloody
On the motel lobby floor
Even though she took your money
You know she needed more 
Here is the official video:

We didn't review the album when it came out (our request to PR was ignored - perhaps I should have said I was from Pitchfork and promised to deconstruct the lyrics), but if you like "Hacienda Motel" I suggest that you check out a few more songs.  I think it is a very promising debut album.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Panama - Always EP

The Always EP is an electro-pop record with three danceable tracks of uplifting melodies and tasteful production.  The artist is Perth, Australia's Panama, a four-piece fronted by classically trained pianist Jarrah McCleary.  If you are like me, you'll find the EP interesting and relaxing.  You'll also fine that it is available for "name your price", which means that for most of you it can be acquired for the same amount to pay to subscribe to this, the best music blog on the planet.  We are all about value.


REVIEW: Star Anna - Go to Hell

On her solo release, Go to Hell, Seattle's Star Anna channels the voice of a raw, tortured angel.  Betrayed, disappointed and, at times, angry.  Bruised, at least on the inside, she is as real as real gets.  She may have had a few knocks, but she isn't a loser. And amid the betrayal and regret, there is hope.  Star works the intersection of the gritty end of Americana, country blues and honky tonk.  She writes good songs, picks excellent supporting players and then unleashes her wonderful vocal instrument -- powerful, emotive and always sounding like it is on the verge of breaking.  I think if you were to commission acoustic scientists to come up with the perfect voice for this kind of music, the laboratory would send back a note simply stating "Star Anna".

Star Anna has released a trio of excellent prior albums, the third with her backing band under the name Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs (our post for Alone in This Together), and for those records she sang and played guitar.  For Go to Hell, Star concentrates on vocals.  Her main collaborator was Ty Baille, who co-wrote, produced and played piano and keys.  Jeff Fielder played guitar, Julian McDonough drummed, William Moore was on bass, and Jacques Willis provided vibraphone on the title track.

Go to Hell includes songs that will be familiar to her more country oriented fans (for example, "Electric Lights" and "Mean Kind of Love") and rockers ("Let Me Be", "Smoke Signals" and "For Anyone").  She shows her pop chops on the grand "Everything You Know", and for "Power of Love" Star hits a groove I'd call honky tonk pop.  And sometimes, she is pure fun; check out the live version of track nine, a Tom Waits cover.

I don't generally note the endorsements of others in my reviews, but in this case I'll make an exception and point out that Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready is an outspoken admirer (and frequent accompanist), and Duff McKagan of Guns and Roses and Velvet Revolver is a notable supporter as well.

The opening track -

The title track -

Live version of Tom Waits' "Come On Up to the House" -

Go to Hell was released in late September via Spark & Shine Records

Spark and Shine

Lee Bains III And The Glory Fires - Can a Rock Band Be TOO LOUD?

"Too Loud For Texas?" No, that's not a song, it's a judgment rendered by the sound engineer and management of a venue called "Live Oak" in Ft. Worth, TX. Earlier this week, Southern rock and soul shouters supreme Lee Bains III And The Glory Fires played a show at this place and got into a bit of a tussle with management. The Facebooks and the Twitters are lighting up with back-and-forth, he-said-she-said, and I'm not here to place blame or render judgment on one party or the other. I am, however, here to observe that having your travelling rock and roll band declared "TOO LOUD" is the kind of publicity money can't buy.

Our interaction with Bains has been mostly one-sided. All of us at WYMA love the music of this Alabama band, and it has showed over the last couple of years. Back in early 2012, we got a preview of their album There Is A Bomb In Gilead via the Alive/Naturalsound comp, Where Is Parker Griggs? - and immediately fell in love with it. Here is the introductory piece I put up then: New Rock/Soul Discovery: Lee Bains III And The Glory Fires. You will note the use of adjectives like "screaming". Again, this is not a coincidence or accident. The music is best heard loud, and it's made to be played loud. I say, mostly one-sided. Lee did send a short note of thanks, which to me is usually the mark of a well-raised dude.

At the end of 2012, we heaped on the praise once again. Here is JD's list -- note his mention of their "fantastic bar band vibe". Here is mine -- quoting myself (I can do that, it's my blog): "Out of Alabama comes a dynamo, a hard-rocking force of nature who manages to combine punk, country and R&B to great effect. The Dexateens were really good, but Bains has upped the ante here – he’s a great shouter who can switch gears and sing straight-up soul music, backed by a great southern rock band." And finally, JD was inspired to post about their live show in Portland recently. Again, "tore through... with abandon" is mentioned in a positive light.

However, at the Live Oak in Ft. Worth, there is apparently also a "restaurant section" and Bains' band managed to clear that sucker out, which launched the series of events described in this online article from (they're rightfully proud of the ruckus their boys raised deep in the heart of Texas). You can certainly read more about it, including various points of view, at the Facebooks and Twitters of the band and the venue. There are some entertaining comments, for sure.

Here are a few videos of the guys in action:

(Given my choice between seeing a band at "Live Oak" or "Bluesklubb", I think the choice is somewhat clear)

In the end, all I guess I'm saying is: if you want loud, you get it with Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. They are the very essence of truth in advertising. No pretense, no artifice, just good, honest, LOUD rock and roll. If you want a chance to see a band that is too loud for Texas, and you live in the Southeastern US, you are in luck. Don't sleep on this:

Friday, October 25 – Houston, TX – Rudyard’s*
Saturday, October 26 – Baton Rouge, LA – Chelsea’s*
Wednesday, November 6th – Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle+
Thursday, November 7th – Knoxville, TN – Pilot Light+
Saturday, November 9th – Whitesburg, KY – The Summit
Monday, November 11th – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge w/ Wyldlife, The Brooklyn What
Thursday, November 14th – Birmingham, AL – Bottletree+
Friday, November 15th – Nashville, TN – Stone Fox+
Saturday, November 16th – Chattanooga, TN – Sluggo’s+
Friday, November 22nd – Athens, GA – 40 Watt – BACKING UP SWAMP DOGG!!
Saturday, November 23rd – Atlanta, GA – The Earl – BACKING UP SWAMP DOGG!!
Friday, December 6th – Little Rock, AR – White Water Tavern – Holiday Hangout!
Saturday, December 7th – Huntsville, AL – Flying Monkey
* – with Austin Lucas!
+ – with PUJOL!

Or if you live in another part of the country and want to hear them, you can get the record from Alive/Naturalsound. Just make sure you don't put a bunch of foam or curtains around your speakers. You deserve to hear these guys in their natural state. L-O-U-D.

"Lucky Too" from Males, free download!

As we noted last week, the double LP from New Zealand's Males is being released by Fishrider Records on November 1.  To help convince you to pay attention to the album, the guys are offering the single "Lucky Too" as a free download.  An excellent pop song with soaring vocals, it is priced to move to your collection immediately.

The album, Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales, will be released on CD and digital initially, and vinyl will be available a few weeks later.  Vinyl collectors should note that only 300 copies will be pressed.

Fishrider Records

Friday Nuggets: "Can't Seem To Make You Mine"

The Seeds 1966.jpg

I know we featured The Seeds here once before on Friday Nuggets. But if you are spotlighting a garage rock classic every week, The Seeds deserve two. Or at the very least, "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" cannot be overlooked.  

"Can't Seem to Make You Mine" was The Seeds first single, released in 1965, and it failed to make the charts. But while people have been making great garage rock in the following 48 years, it never got any better than this one.  

The deliberate pace of the song, the great guitar sounds, the slurred vocals - what more could one possibly ask for in a garage rock song?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

REVIEW: Wilder Maker - Year of Endless Light

Year of Endless Light is a tremendous achievement - a series of recordings made by Wilder Maker (front man/vocalist Gabriel Birnbaum) in a period during which he set off on a trip that was intended to sever his ties with New York for good, then decided to come back to Brooklyn with a renewed commitment to making music there. The album was recorded with engineer Elio DeLuca at The Soul Shop in Medford, MA.

Recommended highly for fans of heavy folk/country/rock like Bonnie Prince Billy, Richard Buckner and Neil Young, this album is just about overwhelming in its scope and breathtaking in its execution. Birnbaum's got a background in free jazz, and that's certainly borne out here. There are contrasts between the Crazy Horse-meets-Bob Weir jam of "Float Us Through the Barroom" and the quiet, beautiful "Hangs Hooks", with its delicate dual vocals, quiet instrumentation and ambient storm sounds. In the end, it's all of a piece - the music is all anchored by his very human, earthy voice.

"Float Us Through The Barroom":

"Song For the Singer" is another epic-length work, featuring plenty of changes and wonderful guitar work - I hear traces of the ragged folk-rock of Fairport Convention, or Richard Thompson solo, but with a rhythm section that turns on a dime. It would have to, to support the guitar flights on this one. “Slow Life” features quiet interplay between acoustic guitar and horns behind Birnbaum's lead and Katie Von Schleicher's vocal harmonies. It's a beautiful song:

“Invisible Order” is another long, creative tune - featuring some strange vocal effects (looping Birnbaum's vocal back on itself just a bit), saxophone noodling and guitar feedback. Birnbaum's jazz background surfaces over the last half of the song, essentially a trumpet/piano interplay, featuring Birnbaum’s brother Adam sitting in on piano. “Lullaby” and "Holy Night" close the album. They are quieter songs, featuring some pretty trumpet work and more inspired harmony vocals between Birnbaum and Von Schleicher.

I've had this record for a while, but was having trouble describing it adequately. I am certain that I've failed, but it's the kind of album people who like good country-rock, folk-rock with an edge, and any kind of inspired singer/songwriter work will just have to hear to believe. It's a staggering, expansive album with enough conventional guitar work to support the wilder flights into improvisation - and, honestly, Birnbaum's tremendous vocals would be more than enough to make it worth your while.

Wilder Maker website

"I'll Be Honest" from The Spook School

The Spook School makes somewhat regular appearances on these pages.  I assure you that they are not blackmailing me due to their possession of scandalous pictures of me.  I think they throw away all the photos I send them.  No, they are frequently featured because they make good music (and have a good sense of humor).    Today's focus is on their double A-Side, "I'll Be Honest" / "Will You Always Be My Friend" 7".  Released on Fortuna POP!, the first side is an energetic song with garage punk flourishes - perhaps a touch of The Buzzcocks.  It concerns the narrator's discovery that some friends knew more than others about certain aspects of the narrator's life.  "Will You Always Be Me Friend?" is a more twee/C86 song about figuring out how relationships work.  The 7" vinyl comes with a digital download.

This is good pop music from a band that deserves some success.

"I'll Be Honest", via stream and video:

"Will You Always Be Me Friend?", via stream:

The Spook School also has released an album titled Dress Up on Fortuna POP!  You may stream and evaluate it here.  "I'll Be Honest" is included on the album, but "Will You Always Be Me Friend?" is available only on the double A-Side single.

The Spook School are Nye Todd (guitar), Adam Todd (guitar), Anna Cory (bass), and Niall McCamley (drums).  They reside in Edinburgh.

Fortuna POP!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Falling Down the Stairs" from Blank Realm

Brisbane's psychedelic pop group Blank Realm has released "Falling Down the Stairs" from their upcoming album Grassed In, to be released in 2014 via Fire Records.  An energetic slice of slacker pop on a foundation of garage rock organ, I think the track portends very good things for the album.  I even wanted to get up in dance, but then I remembered that I am still at the office.  Oh well, I'll play it again when I get home.

Blank Realm are siblings Daniel, Luke and Sarah Spencer, and Luke Walsh.  They have released records on Fire Records internationally, and Siltbreeze and Bedroom Suck in Australia, including the well-received Go Easy earlier in 2013.


Blank Realm consists of three siblings, Daniel, Luke and Sarah Spencer, and Luke Walsh.

SISU - Blood Tears

It is interesting to discover how different spinoff projects can be from the original group.  Sometimes the new project isn't dramatically different, but gives a musician a chance to do it their way.  In other cases, the new project reveals a surprisingly different take on pop music.  SISU, the band formed by Dum Dum Girls' drummer Sandy Vu is an excellent example of the latter.  On the recently released Blood Tears, Vu, a talented multi-instrumentalist, weaves a captivating tapestry of Gothic dream pop and synthwave.  The album is a adept blend of contrasts.  Vocal harmonies have a soft touch over the often bass-heavy arrangements.  Soft sounds contrast with loud sounds.  Dreamy arrangements are slashed by a Siouxsie Sioux-style vocal abrasion.  Ultimately, it is dream pop for people whose dreams are a bit tortured, perhaps more echoing The Cure more than Slowdive.

On Blood Tears demonstrates the key characteristics to making it apart from Dum Dum Girls.  First, Vu is a good vocalist and songwriter.  Second, she has assembled a band that helped her turn those songs into something distinctive and enjoyable.  Third, she is an able frontwoman.  This album is a delight from start to finish, and I recommend it.

SISU, which is the Finnish word for extreme perseverance, is undeniably Sandra Vu's.  For Blood Tears, she wrote the record, played instruments, sang and produced.  Additional musicians were Ryan Wood, Nathanael Keefer and Lars Stalfors.  Fellow Dum Dum Girls member Julianna Medeiros joins the band for live shows.

Blood Tears is out now on Mono Prism Records.  The label is a relatively new collective for artists in various media.


NEW SONGS: A Twofer from Fleeting Youth Records - Big Bill and Basketball Shorts EPs on one cassette, out Oct. 29

Austin cassette label Fleeting Youth Records has launched, with a frenetic twofer featuring two Austin pop/punk bands as its first release due out on Oct. 29.

Here's "Temporarily Happy" from Big Bill - starts out with a bit of a surf beat, transitions into a pure punk backbeat, all with a properly snotty vocal and two guitar explosions. That's a lot in 1:41!

Here's "Peter Venkman" from Basketball Shorts - they feature more of the classic Ramones-style singalong vocal harmonies and speed drumming throughout, with some guitar reverb thrown in for good measure. Catchy:

The cassette (and digital version available via Soundcloud or Bandcamp) will feature the complete EP's: Big Bill's A Hard Day's Bill and Basketball Shorts' Total BS.

Fleeting Youth Records website

REVIEW: Galleries - No Miracles

Glasgow's Galleries are a self-described "epic pop" band, and I must say the fellows have a keen sense of what they do: Pop songs on an grand emotional and sonic scale.  And to me, the most remarkable thing about their recent LP, No Miracles, is that it is among the most accessible collection of post-rock songs.  The melodies are engaging, the vocals are excellent (with some inspired falsetto), and the songs are adeptly structured to build to the maximum impact.  This music can be tricky, because it can be overdone or maudlin.  But if you give Galleries a chance to prove their craft to you - and I've made it easy for you with three songs below - I think you'll find that the band has exceptional balance.  Everyone needs some epic pop in their collection, and this album really hits the spot.

Galleries are David Mcadam (vocals/programming), Ross Prentice (guitar), Adam Hall (bass), and Andrew Black (drums).


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New Joanna Gruesome video - "Sugarcrush"

Well, this is a very silly video. But it's a good excuse to continue to bombard you with the dirty, sweet, sweet sounds of Welsh noise pop outfit Joanna Gruesome.

My review of their album Weird Sister (released Sept. 10 on Slumberland) is here. Short version: It's awesome and you need it. And you can read more, and find tour dates, etc. at their site.

Joanna Gruesome at Slumberland Records

REVIEW: Saint Max and the Fanatics- Saint Max Is Missing and the Fanatics Are Dead

It seems to me that young Max Syed-Tollan absorbs various musical influences, runs them through his special secret Saint Max musical blender tool thingy, and turns out energetic, intriguing, and refreshingly joyful pop music.  It also is rather noisy, but I'm quite sure that is a good thing.

I first learned of Max when he was performing over a year ago as Saint Max of Galloway.  The teenager has since moved to Glasgow, acquired a band, and now performs as Saint Max and the Fanatics.  Their debut LP, Saint Max Is Missing and the Fanatics Are Dead, was released this week.  And from the opening track, "Soul Surrender", it is very clear that this is not your normal debut.  There is no evidence of the "gee, we wonder if anyone will like us", or "let's hold back a little to see if this is what people want".  No, this is more like Joe Strummer and company deciding ... well ... fuck it, this is what we are, love us or leave us.  We get Max's swooping vocals, frenetic choruses and horns (yes, real live horns) all pushed to the red line.

And all the confidence, swagger and upbeat energy works to sell the music.  The effect of the brass sometimes evokes soul and funk, sometimes ska, and sometimes mariachi, but it all fits in the context of the composition.  With the considerable energy devoted to the tempo and instruments, a listener could be forgiven for initially overlooking the lyrics.  But that would be a mistake as young Max has a good eye for a story and a knack for phrasing it.  It appears that he has complied a bulging songbook in his short life, and is eager to get it on tape.

Max and the gang are equally entertaining when they dial it back for a music hall style singalong, as is ably demonstrated by "Ode to a Teenage Heartthrob".  The song is a smashing combination of The Libertines, Edwyn Collins, The Smiths and Elvis Costello.  And if Max invokes that many references, it seems to me that the sound is undeniably Max's to claim.

And our young narrator isn't above a taunt, as in this country-influenced stomper: "I shall go to heaven / and you shall go to Glasgow".

And here is perhaps the most conventional pop song on the album, the grand "She Sings a Lovely Lullaby".

The Fanatics include Eliot, Fraser, Muir, Scott, and Aldo.  Saint Max Is Missing and the Fanatics Are Dead is out now on Armellodie Records.

Bandcamp for album
Armellodie Records

"Low" from Young Fathers

Edinburgh's Young Fathers continue to impress with their creative blend of pop and hip hop.  Their third LP, Death, is scheduled for release in early 2014.  The first release from that record is "Low", which is available now as a digital download (free, if you pre-order Death).  The trio of Kayus Bankole, Graham Hastings and Alloysious Massaquoi just keeps getting better.


NEW SONG: "Much" by Typefighter

Here's some catchy, upbeat garage rock from DC-based Typefighter. Their album The End of Everything is due out in early 2014, but they've made this track available for you to listen right now. It's a wild ride, up and down in tempo, but always very full-sounding. They bang on the guitars over the last minute or so - having built up to a big finish, they do not disappoint:

Learn more, keep up with their progress, check back for tour dates at their links below.

Typefighter website

Monday, October 21, 2013

"So High" video from Males

Most of us who love popular music keep lists of upcoming releases we are thinking of buying.  I humbly submit that one entry on your list should be the double EP Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales from Dunedin, New Zealand's Males.  The record will be released in November by Dunedin's Fishrider Records.  To whet your appetite, here is the just released video for the track "So High".  Low budget, high creativity and very entertaining.

Males are Richard Ley-Hamilton and Sam Valentine (who also is a member of Trick Mammoth).  They both are males.  The double EP will contain their previous EP, MalesMalesMales, the single "So High" and a new EP, Run Run Run.  Our introductory post about Males is here.

Fishrider Records

"Breathe In" by Japanese Wallpaper

Although only sixteen, Gab Strum - also known as Japanese Wallpaper - has been releasing his electronic music for a few years.  His latest effort is "Breathe In", which is the first single from his upcoming EP, is a delicate work of restrained beauty. The track features the vocals of Wafia, and will be officially launched in about a week.  I think this is an electronic artist to keep your eye on.


Have a little time for Casual Sex?

I introduced our uninitiated readers to Casual Sex several times earlier this year (herehere, and here).  The Glasgow band, now a foursome, consists of Sam Smith (vocals/guitar), Edward Wood (guitar), Peter Masson (bass), and Chris McCrory (drums).  They arrived in the US last week to perform at the CMJ Music Marathon, and are playing dates with Franz Ferdinand.  Their final US show is in New York tomorrow night.  Then they have two dates in Canada, and return to Europe.  The remaining tour dates are listed below after the interview and music clips.

I think that Casual Sex is an exciting band, primed to make a splash, and I wanted our readers to have a chance to learn a bit more about them.  I submitted a few questions to the band, and Chris McCrory consented to answer them.  The interview is immediately below.  After reading the interview, you can watch the video (and/or stream) a song from their upcoming EP which will be released by Glasgow's We Can Still Picnic label.

WYMA: How did the band begin?
CS:  Casual Sex began with Sam as a studio project at The Green Door Studio in Glasgow. Sam and Ed met years ago and I met him and Pete when I'd just finished recording an album there with my old band. He gave me a demo CD! I liked it, joined the band and that's how it began.

WYMA: Does everyone still have a job other than Casual Sex?
CS:  Ed has just quit his job and Sam and I both record bands for a living at The Green Door Studio, Glasgow and Shady Lane, Erskine respectively. 

WYMA: Are the songs composed by one or more individuals, or as a group?

CS:  The songs come to us in several ways. I think it's important to keep things fresh and not stick to one set way of working. Some songs could be written and recorded within two hours at a rehearsal. Another could come from a single band member and we'll work it up into a full arrangement together. Casual Sex are a creative collective, it's very open and we like it that way! 

WYMA: In the wake of several well-received singles, your first EP is being released.  Please tell us a bit about it.  For example, when, where and in what formats will it be released?   Does it contain the singles, new songs or both?

CS:  The EP has 5 new tracks and if you've seen us live then you might have already heard one or two!  We've also just put a video for one of the tracks, "Nothing On Earth" up on YouTube [WYMA: We have embedded the video below]. The EP is being released as a limited edition 12" on WCSP records on November 11th. You'll be able to buy that in good record shops in the UK or if you're elsewhere you can buy it direct from us from our big cartel store. It'll also be available on all the usual digital outlets. 

WYMA: If one song on the new EP is going to make you famous, which one is it?

CS:  Hmm, I have no idea. The fickle world of fame has never really occurred to us when making music, so you can decide for yourself when you hear it! 

WYMA: To my ears, your music has a distinctive sound.  But every band is going to sound a bit like one or more other bands.  If you were required (such as in an interview with a music blog) to name four other bands with which you think you should be grouped in terms of sound or style, which bands would you put on that list?

CS:  That's no fun! We'll leave that up to you to decipher!

WYMA: What is the grand plan?  Albums? Major labels? Private jets? Diversification into whisky distilleries?

CS:  We rate releases and touring on a scale we devised, The 'Roxy Music' Scale. I'm sure you can imagine the kind of glamorous points that feature on that scale, and I'm quite sure our aim is lofty. Whisky distilleries? There's an idea..! We were contemplating investment banking as a group while waiting in the rather long line at US Customs. However, we can confirm that an album is definitely on the way for 2014. 

WYMA: I noticed that you intend to be back in 2014 for SxSW.  Congratulations!  Do you intend to add other dates and see more of the US?

CS:  Thank you, the USA is good. We're like giddy children here. And yes, we intend to add some more dates in exciting places around then. It's all secret right now though, otherwise it'd spoil the fun!

 WYMA: Your label is Glasgow's We Can Still Picnic.  How did you choose them?

CS:  We never chose them, they chose us! Glasgow's very tight-knit, everybody knows each other and they're a good label who we share tastes with, so naturally we just gravitated towards each other. 

WYMA: You undoubtedly have caused pain, heartache and embarrassment to the fans who entered the band name in a search engine on a work computer to find out more about you (at least, that is the story given to the boss).  Have you considered providing compensation, or at least a public apology?

CS:  Absolutely not! We like our name! I will say that I have seen couples questioning each other's 'taste' in the comments section of our Facebook page before however, and that was rather amusing. Though, everybody knows how to use Google now, right? Google Chrome has an incognito mode by the way if you really must cover your tracks!

WYMA: What are you listening to in the tour van, and who decides what you will listen to?

This tour is too young to have a band favourite as of yet! Ed had Barry White singing with Pavarotti playing when he was in the shower this morning, that was cool. We're generally easy going when it comes to what's playing. Though from experience, trying to force My Bloody Valentine on unappreciative band mates isn't a good idea. 

WYMA: Since our focus is on new bands, or at least bands that are not yet well known, we have to do a bit of digging to find worthy artists for our pages.  To do that, we pay attention to music recommended by bands that we follow.  What up and coming bands would you recommend to us?

CS:  Me and Sam have just finished producing the new album by Asian Babes, they're from Carlisle in the UK and I think people should pay more attention to them. Fortunately, they're going to be on the next We Can Still Picnic compilation LP. Kill Surrrf are another grossly under appreciated band from Glasgow. I've just produced their new EP for a cassette label, Number4Door and it should be out in the next couple of months. They have a knack for lazy, lovelorn pop hooks (I think they should make an album of 'slow dances' for high school proms) and I'm rather excited to start working with them on their debut LP when I get home.

WYMA:  Thanks for the recommendations.  We covered Kill Surrrf in April (here), and will look forward to more from that band.  We'll check out Asian Babes, but that may require Incognito browsing.  What living bands or artists who are no longer recording or performing do you wish would begin playing music again?
CS:  I'd be interested to hear Brian Eno do something that isn't generative and/or ambient again. Although generally I think once bands are gone, they should stay gone and make way for something new. Think of all the interesting new music we could have coming to the fore if it wasn't saturated with reunion tours. Somebody should start a band with a defined and finite lifespan, who are contractually obliged to split up on a given date, never re-issue their records and never reform. That would be cool. 

WYMA:  Thank you very much, Chris.  We appreciate our time with Casual Sex.

CS's Big Cartel page
We Can Still Picnic on Facebook

22 October Hammerstein Ballroom New York
23 October QC Metropolis Montreal
24 October Kool Haus Toronto
8 November Stereolux Club, Nantes
9 November Theatre Barbey, Bordeaux 
10 November Boule Noire, Paris 
22 November Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow
29 November Hoxton Bar and Grill, London
20 December Mad Hatters, Inverness
31 January Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh 
1 February Nice n Sleazy, Glasgow
7 March SXSW, Austin Texas

Sunday, October 20, 2013

REVIEW: World's End Press - World's End Press

At first glance, World's End Press stand comfortably in the middle of that big intersection of dance rock, synth pop, baggy Manchester, and electronic dance music.  Perhaps imagine that Happy Mondays merged with Cut Copy and reinvented themselves for the DFA roster. Yes, big beats, pulsing and shimmering synths, soaring vocals get your feet moving and blood pumping.  And a few tracks demonstrate the band's ability to slow it down and make it quiet.  But whether dancing under the colored lights or listening intently in the candlelight, you'll find it all performed with a keen sense of what makes a pop song work.

But in fact, it is even more than that.  World's End Press are masters in using the mode of dance music, and its various iterations over the years, to make distinctive and memorable tracks.  The first four tracks showcase their versatility, and command of the range expression available for dance music.  They Melbourne quartet then slow the party down for "Vanguard", a soulful piano ballad.  But the beats per minute ramp up for the following "Reformation Age", one of the album's showcase tracks.  Perhaps a bit too moody to be an all-out party anthem, it is well-conceived synth pop with a building groove.  Dark disco may be as good a label as any other.

The following "Deadbeat Sweet" features a dirty bass groove for a bit of mid-tempo dance noir, and has become one of my favorites on the album.

Proceedings slow again for the quirky electronica of "Chewing Gum Prayer".  "Your Time Will Come (I)" provides another dose of intriguing electronica, but "Your Time Will Come (II)", "Natural Curiosity" and "Out" beg for the disco mirror ball to commence spinning again.

To say that this is dance music to take seriously isn't meant to deny the fun, but to emphasize the high level of craft.  Or, to put it another way, it seems to me that this group respects its audience, and puts in the time and effort that respect deserves.

World's End Press are John Parkinson, Rhys Richards, Sashi Dharann and Tom Gould.  World's End Press was released October 4 via Liberation Music.

Liberation Music

New Garage Rock: "Rosy" by INVASIONS

INVASIONS are a Canadian garage rock band who wears a ska/Clash influence proudly. They've just released a song, "Rosy" for you to check out:

Here's an earlier song, "Ballad of the Faithful" - a little slower tempo, but similar guitar, backbeat and some Farfisa-style keyboards:

And a video of them performing "Cursed Comfort", just so you can see they bring it across live, too:

They're putting out their debut album this week - based on these songs, hopes are high. They'll be playing an album release show and several other dates in Canada soon - you can read all about it at their website - links below.


New Brit-Pop Flamenco Discovery: Mike Hughes - "That Girl Is Misery"

Here's something new... Mike Hughes is a Yorkshire singer/songwriter - a real troubador who can stand and deliver with his acoustic guitar and big voice. But he also serves as frontman of his own band playing an intriguing mix of folk-rock and, of all things, flamenco. Here's his single, "That Girl is Misery":

His team describes it as "Apocalyptic Gospel Blues" - okay by me. Intriguing for sure - looking forward to hearing what else he's up to. If you'd like to hear more, you can get a free EP at his website - link below.

Mike Hughes website

REVIEW: Azure Blue - Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt

At its best, synth pop is emotionally satisfying music.  It lifts the listener's spirits, extends horizons and makes the world seem a bit brighter.  And Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt from Azure Blue is synth pop at its best.  Vintage synths and driving drum machines form a platform for Tobias Isaksson's soft vocals.  The synths are layered tastefully for maximum emotional impact, providing the background and emphasizing the melody.  And at the end of the day, the success of synth pop comes down to the melodies, and on that score Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt excels from start to finish.  There is a nostalgia-inducing similarity to the Pet Shop Boys and New Order, although in Isaksson's hands the result feels more atmospheric and romantic.

This is one of those albums that present a challenge when trying to pick representative tracks.  I picked out five candidates, and played them over and over, reluctant to reject any of them.  I finally settled on the following three: The more restrained "Willow and Pines"; the captivating and sparkling "Sunset"; and standout track "The Road I Know".  If you only have time for one, I suggest "The Road I Know".

Azure Blue is the solo project of Sweden's Tobias Isaksson.  This is his sophomore album, following 2012's acclaimed Rule of Thirds.  Isaksson's previous projects include Irene and Laurel Music, as well as stints as a popular DJ.  Beyond the Dreams There's Infinite Doubt is out now on Matinee Recordings in the US and on the internet.  In Europe, the album is out via Hybris/Fika Recordings.

Matinee Recordings
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