Saturday, November 9, 2013

Introducing: The Ocean Party

Melbourne's The Ocean Party is Jordan Thompson, Liam Halliwell, Curtis Wakeling, Lachlan Denton and the recently added Zac Denton.  All or most of the band have side projects, but they have managed to turn out three albums in three years.  The most recent LP is Split, which is available via Spunk Records (link is at the bottom of the post) in CD or vinyl formats, and from iTunes (link also provided) for a digital copy.  You can sample two of the tracks, "Quarter Life Crisis" and "Split" below.  In my opinion, both are excellent.

The band's sound is a relaxed slacker jangle, a bit wistful and very melodic.  In democratic fashion, the members take turns writing the songs and taking the lead vocals on their compositions.  I take it as a sign of that the band are well matched with each other that the results remain cohesive, and the quality high.

Spunk Records page for Split
Bandcamp for Split digital single
iTunes for digital download

Friday, November 8, 2013

"Vanessa" from Little Racer

One little label that seems never to put a wrong foot forward is London's Young and Lost Club.  They have just made available for free download "Vanessa", by Brooklyn's Little Racer.  The song is taken from an upcoming EP, and it is very good guitar pop.  Admittedly, I haven't been exposed to much material from this band.  But if "Vanessa" is representative of their songwriting and performance skills, they clearly deserve to be on a watch list.

Little Racer is Elliot Michaud (vocals/guitar), Ish Nazmi (bass), Wade Michael (guitar) and Dave Tedeschi (drums).

Young and Lost Club

Friday Nuggets: "Bad Girl" by Zakary Thaks

Zakary Thaks are a relatively obscure garage band from Corpus Christi Texas who had some regional success in the mid-1960's. 

Their signature song is a real proto-punk gem -- "Bad Girl" released locally in 1966 then picked up by Mercury Records. It later made its way to the Pebbles compilation which is how I found it.  It is super fast for that era and terrific in all regards. 

What is that film in the background of the "Bad Girl" video? Of course it's the 1969 Italian movie "Scacco alla Regina". It's truly amazing what we do for our readers here at WYMA!  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What A Great Song: "Fingers of Dawn" by The Bats

Soon to begin their fourth decade as a band, Robert Scott, Kaye Woodward, Paul Kean and Malcolm Grant remain the gold standard for perfectly constructed guitar pop.  "Fingers of Dawn" is one of the standout tracks from their 2011 album Free All The Monsters.  It also was one of the highlights of their show here in Seattle last June.  Presented here via this excellent video directed by Conor Bowden, it should make your day a good bit better.


REVIEW: Various Artists - A Sunday Matinee

For pop fans A Sunday Matinee is like finding a box of rare coins at the back of your closet.  Over the years some of you probably have wished you could have more of the pop gems you read about and sample here (and if you are slutty, on other sites as well), but have concluded that even when bundled in singles and EPs, it is too much trouble and too expensive.  Well, we have solved that problem for you. And by "we", I really mean Jimmy and Matinee Recordings (we're just the humble messenger).  What Jimmy has done is to celebrate Matinee's 15 years delivering quality pop by packaging 15 gems from many of the finest pop bands in one album.  Including bands from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, Brazil, Sweden, Seattle and other places, the one constant is the high quality of pop for which the label is known.  No band is represented more than once (although Glasgow's clever Laz McCluskey sneaks in on two bands), so the listener enjoys maximum variety.  There are no weak tracks.  In fact, there are no average tracks, just shimmering pop with affecting lyrics and some well-placed humor.

Although I usually don't bother to write much about the pricing of the music, Matinee is only charging $10 for the CD and $8 for a digital download.  If I weren't so lazy I'd retype those prices for emphasis.  If you are rushed for time (before ordering the album), I'll give you a couple of tracks to sample.  But you are well advised to stream the whole record.  If you like the kind of chiming pop in which Matinee Recordings specializes, get yourself an early Christmas present.  The release date is November 12, but you can order now from Matinee Recordings (links at the bottom of the post).

Australia's Bart and Friends -

Bolton, UK's Charlie Big Time -

Ireland's September Girls -

Here is a stream of the entire glorious collection -

Matinee page for album
Matinee Recordings
Matinee on Facebook

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"Hullabaloo" by Spread Eagle

Our friends at the We Can Still Picnic collective/label/promotional enterprise in Glasgow have picked up a new act called Spread Eagle.  We don't know much about the band, but we'll share what we know: One video and a Facebook site.  We look forward to more.

We Can Still Picnic on Facebook

REVIEW: Dollar Bar - Paddington Workers Club

Brisbane's Dollar Bar plays crunchy garage rock and blues rock with plenty of fuzz and plenty of pop hooks. And ten of their latest nuggets have just been released via Mere Noise Records on their second LP, Paddington Workers Club.  There is a lo-fi, pub rock vibe, but Dollar Bar cannot be dismissed as one-dimensional.  The musicianship is good, the three alternating vocalists are quite able, and the songwriting is varied and interesting.  And we give bonus points for humor.  While this LP doesn't have a song titled "Cute Girls Have The Best Diseases" (that was on their first record), this set includes "Hipster Mental Ward", "City Pricks Sitting Pretty", "Half the Bottle", and "We Won The War".

To my ears, there is a clear Guided By Voices strain in Dollar Bar's DNA, which makes them a natural for consideration here.  But the quality of their music earns the space on this blog.

Dollar Bar is Dale Peachey, Brendan Rosenstengel, Chris Yates and Patrick McCabe. 

Mere Noise Records

"Drive-Out" from Clearance, new EP in January

We (that is, me) introduced our readers (that's you) to Chicago band Clearance late in August (here) via their free EP Dixie Motel Two-Step.  A new EP titled Greensleeve is planned for January (pre-order link here).  These guys are garage, and pop, and a bit of godfather Pollard, and a bit of the Dunedin sound.  And it is all so familiar in a very good way.  Here is the crunchy "Drive-Out", which is the first taste of the upcoming EP.

Clearance is Mike Bellis (guitar and vocals) and Arthur Velez (drums), with help from Greg and John.  Please support them so they don't become wards of the state.


Sea Pinks - Exploded View EP

The new Exploded View EP from Northern Ireland's Sea Pinks is now available, and it is as good as I had hoped and expected.  Four tracks of jangling guitar pop with good melodies, and you can find welcome reminders of the early Creation records sounds here..  This isn't new territory, as fans of band from New Zealand, Glasgow, California and Seattle well know.  But are always happy to herald another band in this space, especially when it is done as well as Neil Brogan and his buddies do it.

The title track and "Magpies Eyes" are the two noisier tracks, with the latter displaying some appealing guitar muscle.  "PST" and "Pretty Pass" are gentler tunes that we haven't showcased on these pages before.  You can stream the entire EP below, but first we'll offer a taste with "Pretty Pass" --

There are limited physical copies available.  Digital downloads are available from Bandcamp, as well as Amazon, iTunes and other digital outlets.  Here is a stream of all four tracks --

CF Records

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

REVIEW: Shopping - Consumer Complaints

Consumer Complaints by East London's Shopping --  I like the name of the album, I like the spiky, choppy guitar and rhythmic arrangements, I like the shout-sing vocals of Rachel Aggs, I like the way that the thick, propulsive bass and drums glue together the vocals and guitar into an incredible groove, and  I like the attitude that evinces punk-meets-new-wave-meets-urban-noir.  It is 13 deliciously frenzied and jittery tracks that worm into your ears, and dictate to your feet.  The guy in the office below probably thinks I'm hammering an Ark to handle Seattle's winter rains - no, Doug, that's just me dancing to Consumer Complaints.

It is entirely possible that you haven't heard of Shopping before, but I urge you to give it a try.  You'll be glad you did.

Consumer Complaints is out now via Milk Records.  The band is touring in support of the album, and the remaining dates are:
NOV 6TH - LEEDS - Oporto Bar
NOV 7TH - NOTTINGHAM - The Chameleon
NOV 8TH - LIVERPOOL - the Kazimier
NOV 9TH - NEWCASTLE - Heart attack & Vine all dayer
NOV 10th - SHEFFIELD - Audacious Art Experiment

Milk Records

Monday, November 4, 2013

REVIEW: Circus Devils - My Mind Has Seen The White Trick and When Machines Attack

It's been two years since the last Circus Devils release, Capsized! so of course it's time for two albums in one day - 36 songs of Circus Devils hard/prog rock weirdness. Of all Robert Pollard's projects, Circus Devils seems to be where his hard rock muse spends the most time, but it's also the project with the most pure creativity. Evidence of the former - My Mind Has Seen The White Trick's "Deliver Ice Cream (You Must)" channels Motorhead in a delightful way, while "Mine" is a quieter track with some strange found sounds in the background, akin to something like "Ex-Supermodel" (to use a GbV reference, if that helps). And "Great Orphan" is just a big, strong ballad, proving that in no way are Circus Devils limited to bludgeoning you with hard rock or diverting you with strangeness. Sometimes in the same track, they transition from one to the other: "It Is Not Necessary" is a perfect example, where the hard stuff starts the track, then yields to the narrative, and both sides come together to close it out with a downright pleasant keyboard line behind it all. They are making delightful music on this record. In other words, Circus Devils are real. But, again, real strange. "Bird Zone":

The album features 19 tracks, and plenty of highlights - the electric piano on "Bird Zone", the guitars on "We'd Be Alright", the Captain Beefheart-inspired, unhinged weirdness of "Skyclops", and a sort of campfire singalong, "Eddie's Derangement" - love the acoustic guitar line in this one.

Obviously, a lot of the credit goes to his co-conspirator, Todd Tobias. And we've had evidence of Tobias' creativity apart from Pollard, too - we reviewed his album Medicine Show, and found many of the same strange and delightful characteristics that make Circus Devils' appeal so strong (and admittedly, to such a limited audience).

Along those lines, the second album, When Machines Attack, is the more "Circus Devils-y" of the two, featuring spoken word intro "Beyond the Sky" and a story line that seems to contemplate the uprising of our cars, perhaps in league with an alien race. The sheer terror in Pollard's voice in the next track as he intones the title "You're Not a Police Car" sets the tone. We would seem to be in line to be rescued (or attacked) by Bad Earthman, Craftwork Man (not Kraftwerk Man, though certainly there's plenty of krautrock influence all throughout the Devils' canon), Johnny Dart and Blood Dummies. Each song is a trip, and most of them are strange. Check out "We're Going Inside the Head of a Winner" - there is a nice Pollard ballad in there somewhere, but also plenty of strange effects and horror-movie elements:

The title track's an absolute keeper - it's one of the tracks that stands alone, even while serving as the pivotal track on this concept (?) album. And "Wizard Hat Lost in the Stars" is potentially that "all-time" Pollard ballad that will assume a spot on the never-ending playlist. It has echoes of "May We See the Hostage" from previous Devils record The Harold Pig Memorial, which is one of my favorite Devils tracks, or a GbV track like "Acorns and Orioles".

According to Sgt. Disco, the correspondent at the Circus Devils website, "The car is a metaphor here, in case that needed to be explained. The theme can be described as a trip into the present by way of the future. This is the opposite of a trip into the future by way of the present, something we all think we are familiar with." If you're willing to take the trip by listening to the album, this might make sense. Then again, it might not. But at least you'll have spent the time listening to a Circus Devils album, which is a good thing.

These records are out now (released 10/29) on Happy Jack Rock Records, and available at Rockathon and GBV Digital.

Circus Devils website
Circus Devils at Rockathon Records

"Holy Infinity" from GOVs

Josiah Birrell of Australia's Gold Coast is GOVS.  His writing and recording is a solo bedroom project, but he enlists friends to assist for live performances.  He has a knack for a good melody and just how to arrange it.  But what I find most noteworthy about young Josiah is his wonderfully expressive voice.  It has just the right combination of grit and velvet.  Try it out with the engaging "Holy Infinity" -

GOVS previously released a five-track EP which included the single "I've Never Seen A Ghost" (free stream and download of the single here), and it is available on iTunes.  GOVS plans an EP release in 2014, and will reveal several more tracks in the upcoming months.  For now, you can check out a few more tracks at the Soundcloud link below.


Introducing: Hockeysmith

After hearing "Meanwhile" last week, I decided to find out more about Hockeysmith, including the meaning of the name.  It turns out that the name is no mystery - the band is comprised of sisters Annie and Georgie Hockeysmith, from Cornwall, UK.  Their catalog is small, but the promise is big.  Here is "Meanwhile" -

They also have released a 12" called "Big Bang" via Backabelly, and you can check out the songs below:


Sunday, November 3, 2013

REVIEW: Males - Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales

Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales is the kind of record that could give a band a reputation.  Fortunately for all concerned, that reputation should be so positive that they could even share the news with their mothers.  The album is comprised of nine songs of hyper-melodic, adrenaline infused, garage pop nuggets, with big hooks and bigger choruses.  The guitar jangles and chimes while the meaty bass drives the tunes forward.  In my view, there isn't a weak song in the set.  "Lucky Too" and "So High", which already have been released, are Class A pop songs that keep prompting me to hit the replay button.  And "Weakness", "Madeline, "Marion Bates Thievery" and a few others are just a step behind.

Males are part of the fruitfully tangled web of young bands on New Zealand's south island.  Guitarist/lead vocalist Richard Ley-Hamilton also is a member of Kilmog, which also includes Robert Scott of The Bats and The Clean.  Males' bassist Sam Valentine also is the drummer for Trick Mammoth, and has played with Richard and Trick Mammoth's Adrian Ng in Mr Biscuits and Blonde Hash.

You can evaluate "Lucky Too" and "So High" below (and don't miss the video for the latter).  But your time would be well spend streaming the entire album at the Bandcamp link.  It would be even better spend buying it.

The record includes four new tracks, the previous single "So High" and the 2012 EP MalesMalesMales.  So technically it may be a double EP rather than an album, but I doubt any of us will lose any sleep regarding that distinction while we play the record over and over until it lies limp in the corner, begging for mercy.

Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales is out now via Fishrider Records.  If you'd like the digital download or the CD, click through to the Bandcamp link below.  Fishrider will have vinyl versions available soon, and can be pre-ordered now.  If you insist on using iTunes, it should be available their as well.  But digital fans should note that a digital download form the Bandcamp site brings 7 additional live versions of album songs performed at Sammys in Dunedin, New Zealand on July 19, 2013.

Fishrider Records

Idle Fret offers free EP to download

Serious Drugs is the name of perhaps the most famous song from Scotland's  iconic BMX Bandits.  It also is the name of a new movies about the band.  Happily, this little EP of songs associated with the band and or the movie, currently is available for free download.  The five songs include two from the BMX Bandits (the first of which is a joint effort with The Wellgreen), one from Lenzie Moss IFinlay Macdonald who was a BMX Bandit, among other projects), one from Nick Garrie (legendary psychedelic folk musician), and one from Cineplexx, which features Duglas T. Stewart of BMX Bandits and Norman Blake of BMX Bandits and Teenage Fanclub.

The EP has been made available by label and event promoter Idle Fret.

Bandcamp for DVD of movie
Lenzie Moss Bandcamp
Cineplexx Website
Idle Fret website