Friday, November 15, 2013

The Wharves / The Rosy Crucifixion - Split Vinyl 12"

I've been waiting eagerly for this beauty.  It features six tracks by London's The Wharves and six tracks from one of my favorite emerging bands from Scotland, The Rosy Crucifixion.  The Wharves make enthralling, spiky, dark-tinged psychedelic folk rock.  And The Rosy Crucifixion?  Conjure Link Wray rockabilly with female vocals and a meaningful infusion of caffeine and moonshine.  The vinyl will be released by Soft Power Records on November 25, but interested fans are strongly urged to pre-order as only 250 copies will be pressed.

The Wharves have drawn comparisons to Smoke Fairies and Haight Ashbury, although I think they have more urgency.  Their sound is big, for a three-piece, and having three vocalists undoubtedly contributes to that effect.  The lyrics and atmosphere are dark, but the music is compelling.  The band is Mairon Andrau (drums), Gemma Fleet (bass), and Dearbhla Minogue (guitar).

One of the best tracks "Thick Syrup", with thick bass lines underneath the harmonized, almost chant-like vocals.

The Rosy Crucifixion is Emily (vocals and guitar), Stuart (bass) and Conal (drums).  Of all the active bands I cover, this one makes the list of the top ten I'd like to see live.  They induce the same excitement that I felt when I first heard the Jacob Yates and the Pearly Gate Lock Pickers a couple of years ago (interestingly, an album recorded at the Green Door studio founded by Emily and Stuart).  Named after the Henry Miller trilogy and influenced by The Monks, The Fabulous Wailers, Link Wray, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and others, their six-song set here represents the perfect combination of fun and evil.  Emily's guitar twangs and her voice, as was stated by a musician who knows her, sounds like Patsy Cline's evil sister.  Stuart and Conal set down a rhythm that could easily past muster in a 1950s east Arkansas roadhouse.

Here is a cover of Freddy and the Hitch Hikers' "Sinners" --

The band's own composition, the rocking "Hot In Your Head" --

Bandcamp for Album
Soundcloud for Album
Facebook for The Wharves
Facebook for Rosy Crucifixion

REVIEW: Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas - Demons

We've been waiting for Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas' debut for some time, since singing their praises here at WYMA earlier this year. And Demons was worth the wait.

The Detroit native, blessed with a powerful and instantly memorable voice, backed by a versatile ensemble of great young players from the Motor City, defies easy categorization. Her bio cites Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello, and she draws comparisons to Amy Winehouse. But at the core here is an undeniable Detroit soul and jazz sensibility, modern and original in sound, honed in the many gritty clubs that Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas played in their hometown for a couple years before touring the country this year.

All 5 songs here have careful arrangements, neo-soul underpinnings, great horns parts and funky danceable rhythms. But mostly what they have is Hernandez's spellbinding voice.  If her singing doesn't raise your BPMs, time to see a cardiologist.

Here's "Picture Me With You (Carnie Threesome)":

Demons was released on Instant Records, founded and operated by Richard Gottehrer, who among many other things in his distinguished career, wrote "Hang on Sloopy", co-founded Sire Records, and produced everyone from Blondie and The Go-Gos to Richard Hell and Link Wray. Gottehrer has this to say about his latest musical discovery: "Every now and then a voice comes along that speaks directly to us through the music. I felt it the first time I heard Jessica and believe it’s only a matter of time until she touches us all."

Here's a live recording of "Caught Up", one of the tracks here:

Here's the title track:

Jump on this bandwagon now while there is still room.

Artist web page:
Jessica Hernandez Facebook
Twitter: @DetroitJess

Friday Nuggets: Death "Politicians in My Eyes"

If you somehow have missed the story of the band Death, I can't retell it here because it would be a spoiler to the great documentary film "A Band Called Death", now widely available. Any fan of punk rock, garage rock, or simply a tremendous story should see this film (

Here's all you need to know for now:
Three brothers from Detroit, Bobby (bass, vocals), Dennis (drums) and David Hackney (guitar). David Hackney wrote the songs and had the vision for the band as the fastest loudest rock band around, inspired first by the Beatles and The Who, and then by Alice Cooper and Detroit rock and roll. When you listen to them, you will hear American punk rock as you have come to know it (The Ramones, Black Flag and Bad Brains especially), except that Death made their only recordings in 1973. And no one heard them until recently. 

Here's "Politicians In My Eyes":

Please do yourself a favor and see the film "A Band Called Death". For me it is as much about siblings and brotherly love as it is about the birth of punk rock. A moving and very fascinating story.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Forgiven/Forgotten" by Angel Olsen

St Louis born and Chicago based Angel Olsen is releasing a new LP, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, on February 18 via Jajaguwar.  The first song released from the album is "Forgiven/Forgotten".  On the track, Olsen displays the vocal range for which she already has a reputation, but adds a rougher, rawer rock edge.  She wears it well, and we look forward to the album.

The album is available for pre-order.

Tour dates are as follows:

Fri. Nov. 29 - Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits
Sat. Nov. 30 - Orlando, FL @ Will's Pub
Tue. Dec. 3 - Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder at FSU
Wed. Dec. 4 - New Orleans, LA @ Circle Bar
Thu. Dec. 5 - Oxford, MS @ Lamar Lounge
Thu. Dec. 12 - London, UK @ The Forum w/ Neko Case
Tue. Feb. 18 - Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
Thu. Feb. 20 - New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge
Sat. Feb. 22 - Nashville, TN @ The Stone Fox
Sun. Feb. 23 - Fayetteville, AR @ JR's Lightbulb Club
Mon. Feb. 24 - Dallas, TX @ Three Links
Tue. Feb. 25 - Austin, TX @ Red 7
Sat. March 1 - San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
Sun. March 2 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex
Mon. March 3 - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
Wed. March 5 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Thu. March 6 - Vancouver, BC @ Media Club
Fri. March 7 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Sat. March 8 - Moscow, ID @ Mikey's Gyros
Mon. March 10 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge


REVIEW: Josephine Foster - I Am A Dreamer

I became aware of Colorado's Josephine Foster earlier this year, initially via favorable comments made online by other musicians.  To be honest, that isn't an atypical way for When You Motor Away to become interested in an artist since we focus on music outside of the mass market pop scene.  I experienced Foster's considerable talent first-hand when I heard tracks from her 2012 release for Fire Records, Blood Rushing.  Although it likely isn't a very analytic thing to say, her vocal delivery has an undeniable magic: Expressive, high register, compelling and seductive.  I wanted to hear more.  And as a fortunate coincidence, just as I started paying attention to Josephine Foster news, the lovely folks at Fire Records announced that they were releasing Foster's new LP, I Am A Dreamer.

I Am A Dreamer is an aptly named Americana tapestry.  Except for a cover of Vernon Duke's "Cabin in the Sky" and borrowing from Kipling for the lyrics to "Blue Roses", Foster wrote the album.  But like Foster's vocals, and perhaps in great part because of her vocal style, the album has the sepia tone of photo albums from the early 20th Century.  She is accompanied by a nine piece band, but the arrangements are restrained, at times appropriately sparse, and allow Foster's voice to take center stage.  The variety is delightful, from the country blues of "Sugarpie I'm Not The Same", the caressingly seductive "I Am A Dreamer", the lilting but sad "No One's Calling Your Name", the gentle masterpiece that is "Magenta",  and the humorous and absolutely delightful "Amuse A Muse.

It is dreamy, romantic, and thematically timeless.  And you owe it to yourself to lend it your ears.

I Am A Dreamer was recorded in Nashville.  In addition to Foster (vocals/acoustic guitar/harmonica), the performers were Micah Hulscher (piano/organ), John Estes (double bass), Tommy Perkinson (drums), Victor Herrero (electric guitar), Dave Roe (double bass), Chris Scruggs (steel guitar), Aaron Mortenson (drums), Jerry Pentecost (drums) and Gyða Valtýsdóttir (cello).

Fire Records page for I Am A Dreamer

Update: Casey Neill and the Norway Rats

Okay kids, we want one of our readers to win the contest being sponsored by one of our very favorite bands Casey Neill and the Norway Rats. We reviewed their new CD All You Pretty Vandals here, and now they have released a very fine video for the title track:

If you share this video link at your Facebook or Twitter page with #allyouprettyvandals, you will be entered to win various goodies such as vinyl test pressings of the LP, framed photos and other cool stuff.

Facebook - Casey Neill and the Norway Rats
Twitter - Casey Neill

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Fireworks - Runaround 7"

Are you kids out there trying to figure out how to do guitar pop with the right balance of crunch, noise, vocals and hooks?  The nice people from the The Fireworks have kindly recorded a tutorial for you - the three-track Runaround 7".  The title track has been receiving a lot of attention, and deservedly so.  Buzzsaw guitars, a driving rhythm section, layers of fuzz and feedback and perfect female vocals from Emma.  The second track, "With My Heart", continues in the same vein, but adding a male vocal counterpart to Emma's lead.  The record concludes with the gentle "Asleep", featuring Matthew's measured vocals and viola from guest Godfrey Salmon.

Quite simply, this is pop done right.

The band is Matthew Rimell (vocals/guitar), Isabel Albiol (bass), Emma Hall (vocals/tambourine) and Shaun Charman (drums).  Previous/other bands for the assembly include Pocketbooks (Emma), Big Pink Cake (Matthew), Things in Herds (Isabel), and The Popguns and The Wedding Present (both, Shaun).

The Runaround 7" will be available via Shelflife Records in a limited run of 300 vinyl copies, as well as digital download.  The release date is November 26, but if you want one of those vinyl copies, I suggest you act soon.

Fireworks blog
Shelflife link for album

The Candy Strypers - It Is Rocket Science

Manchester's Paul Hughes records and performs as The Candy Strypers.  His tag line is "sunny powerpop from a rainy city", and it seems to me that he has his part of the equation exactly right.  Paul possesses the rare ability to churn out song after song of jangling melodies reminiscent of the Beach Boys and The Monkeys with spot on harmonies.  We introduced Paul to our readers last year (here), but we are featuring him again because he released a new set of songs called It Is Rocket Science.  While staying within his sweet spot of melodic guitar pop, Paul delivers a fair amount of variety in terms of pace and atmosphere.

I'd be bringing It Is Rocket Science to your attention even if it were priced at standard LP prices.  However, if you follow the Soundcloud link below, you'll find that all of the songs are available for free download.  So as the days get darker and colder in the Northern Hemisphere, allow The Candy Strypers to make your life sunnier.


Recommended -- The Icarus Line - Slave Vows

A Quick Note: For various personal and professional reasons, none of them tragic or even really convincing, I've taken most of the year off from regular posting around these environs. Because a) I've heard a lot of excellent music this year; b) but doing full-on reviews of albums released in, say, March isn't very cool at all; c) I'm too lazy to do full-on reviews of all these albums anyway; and d) John has forgotten to disable my password to the site; I have decided to try to do a series of short notes about stuff I've heard in '013 that I really like.

So it would make some sense to start by recommending the brilliant July release by LA's Icarus Line, which is deep in the running for my album of the year. If you look for them online, music sites will genrefy them as "post-harcore" or some other such bullshit because no one seems to believe in the genre "purest distillate of rock and roll." At least anymore. Remember when fireman Sean Connery winked at that kid Kevin at the end of Time Bandits, and then Kevin turns around and sees that smoldering chunk of black concentrated evil in his parents' microwave? That's it right there -- The Icarus Line. The photo below was taken during one of the recording sessions for Slave Vows.

Frontman Joe Cardamone's lyrical themes haven't changed any since the band's 2004 classic Penance Soiree -- he can make Greg Dulli and Nick Cave seem Victorian by comparison. But what makes this record overpowering is the ritualistic sadism practiced upon the amplifiers. Shut the door and crank up the volume for the full effect of "Rat Ass":

The searing guitar is out front in the producer's mix on every song, and it makes for an incendiary experience -- at once deeply satisfying and unnerving. It doesn't get any more rock and roll than this.

The Icarus Line

Monday, November 11, 2013

REVIEW: Porter and The Pollies - Porter and The Pollies

What tends to happen in your neighborhood when various folks get together for a little support during times of healing, emotional repair, recovery or intense and turbulent reflection?  Hugs? Pot luck dinners? Guest speakers?  Hikes in the wilderness?  How about a nice expressive quilt?  Fortunately for us music fans, when Porter (aka Chris Porter) of Back Row Baptists and Some Dark Holler travels back from Austin to Alabama for a bit of mending time and joins up with the Pollies (previous review here), who reportedly also were in need of some propping up, the result is the distinctly more useful six-track Porter and The Pollies.  (apparently, the name Divorce Camp was considered and rejected).  And being the kind, supportive friends that they are, Atlanta's This Is American Music agreed to release the pain and catharsis for everyone to share.

What's on offer?  Ballads, rockers, blues rock, boot scooting and other delicious stuff, all with a proud country bent and a gruff and wounded southern accent.  The EP was recorded live with all the edges exposed, all the attitude and, at times, spite aired out, as is appropriate for a record with this genesis.  As Porter said, "We made it sad, and angry, and drunk."  The opening and closing track follow the slower paced, reflective path, with more crunch and pace sandwiched between.  You can stream the entire EP at the Bandcamp link below, but we're providing one of each for your evaluation.

The combined players are Chris Porter (guitar/vocals), Jay Burgess (guitar/vocals/producer), Chris James (bass), Reed Watson (drums), Daniel Stoddard (steel/keys/guitar/vocals), and Helen Gassenheimer (fiddle/vocals on "Rest These Bones").

And I feel compelled to say that we wish Porter and The Pollies well.  More broadly, we don't wish any bad luck on anyone.  But if it happens, we hope the talented folks take up an instrument and tell us about it.

Bandcamp for album
Facebook for Chris Porter/Some Dark Holler
Facebook for The Pollies
This Is American Music

REVIEW: Peak Twins - Peak Twins

Following on their singles and splits, Peak Twins have released their debut album via Bedroom Suck.  And the self-titled record underscores the duo's omnivorous approach to genre, and primary allegiance to showcasing  Joel Carey's vocals and Liam Kenny's guitar work.  The duo and their mates provide a slacker twist on '60s pop in songs like "Only One" and "So Long", the latter with a clear country heart.  They venture into stoner rock territory on "Salvation", and hit full stride on the downer psychedelic pop of "Got Woken Up" and "China White".  On the previously released single "Steppin' Off", Carey and Kenny channel Jagger and the Stones to delightful effect.  The closer, "500 Days", fittingly sounds like the vocalist of the prom dance is unwinding while the last couple shuffles in an embrace through the fallen balloons and streamers as the rest of the band packs up the equipment.

What makes this special?  For me, it is a combination of individual performing talents -- Carey is a strikingly good vocalist, Kenny is a very good and versatile guitarist and the backing band of Chad McLachlan, James Mannix and Ben Quici doesn't put a wrong foot forward -- good songwriting, and production work from Jack Farley that brought out the best in everyone.  Of course, it is all about the songs, and what really works here is that the influences, while apparent, are just guidelines that are warped, stretched and merged into a distinctive final product.  The highlights for me are the beautifully sad "China White", "Steppin' Off", "So Long", and the cover of Fred Neil's torch song "Dolphins".  You can try the latter three below.

Peak Twins - Steppin' Off from BSR on Vimeo.

The album is out now via Bedroom Suck in Australia.  UK fans will be able to buy through Fire Records.

Fire Records
Bedroom Suck Records page for Peak Twins

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Introducing: Birdcloud

There are various ways in which bands come to our attention.  We can read a review from another blog, get a reference from another band we respect, receive an email from a PR firm, label or the band itself.  Another way is to let it be known that you play humorous, dirty bluegrass and that when you tried out for some TV talent show the "judges" (noted musicians Klum, Stern and Mandel) all said the band were horrible.  Suddenly, I have an interest.  Moreover, the kind of people that fill the audience for that kind of show booed the band in the parking lot.  Now, I'm really interested.  Welcome to the wacky world of Birdcloud.

Makenzie and Jasmin are Tennessee girls who met in 2009.  They commenced to making music together and their sex-charged and trailer trash lyrics have been thrilling half the room and clearing the other half of the room ever since.  The two samples here include "Warshin' my big ol pussy 'fore I go to town", which is less than 1:30 running time, but the pithy message needs no more.  And at the end the ladies conclude "Just a' warship my big ol pussy should you want to go down".  Just a couple of well brought up southern ladies.  The other is the bloody, messy "Ice balls".