Saturday, November 30, 2013

REVIEW: Surf Friends - Endorphins

Sun-kissed but energetic surf rhythms, fuzzed out sonic backdrops, steady grooves and harmonized vocals are on the menu for Endorphins, the new LP from Surf Friends.  It is the band's second album, and their first for legendary New Zealand label Flying Nun.  The album is fun, adventuresome and very satisfying.  And if the music world is right and just, it should earn the band new fans on distant shores.

The album leads off with the soaring fuzz and laser shots of "The Sea".  It is a song high on the list of those that never fail to induce a smile when I hear them.  The Auckland duo inevitably will draw comparisons to fellow Kiwi bands The Clean and The Chills with the next following songs, "Chance" and "Breakin".  And to be fair, there is more than geography and stylistic similarities at work, as Endorphins features a few contributions from David Kilgour.  "Mexico" finds the band exploring a bit of surfy drone.  If the Beach Boys had a side project as a garage band, they'd be proud to turn out a track like "Summer".  The middle of the album, with "Moving On" and the glorious sprawl of "Clean Deers" is a bit more space rock, but still displays the fine bones of their New Zealand antecedents.  "The Sea Outside" and "Cool" manage to suggest influences from both The Bats and The Velvet Underground.  I think the former is a sleeper track that over time will emerge as one of the standouts from this album.  The album closes with "Yourself", a 8:22 interplay of guitars and choruses over thick bass foundation.

Surf Friends are Brad Coley and Peter Westmoreland, armed with guitars, keys, drum machines, bass and a twin vocal delivery.  For two guys, they have a full and varied sound, and the able production from Nick Roughan captures all of the energy and immediacy of the songs.  I imagine The Jesus and Mary Chain could have sounded this way with a dose of happy pills and a new found appreciation for surfing.  Ah, what could have been.  But let's not dwell in the past, let's look to the future.  The future is our friend.  Specifically, the future is Surf Friends.

Test drive Endorphins with "The Sea" and "Chance", below.  We've also included the fine video for "The Sea".

Endorphins is out now via Flying Nun, and is available in CD and digital formats.  International fans can check out the link for Flying Out, below.

Flying Nun Records
Flying Out

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Superchunk "I Hate Music"

How did it happen that I took this long to review I Hate Music, Superchunk's excellent most recent CD? Time to fix that.

As we reflect on those things in our lives we are thankful for this weekend, let's be sure to put Superchunk on that list. I've followed this band closely since their formation in 1989 when I lived in their hometown of Chapel Hill, NC. Mac McCaughan was the super knowledgable and friendly young clerk at Schoolkids Records on Franklin Street who recommended always great new music to this older music critic who frequented the store.

I Hate Music is Superchunk's 10th record, and it holds up to their well earned legacy. It picks up where their previous effort Majesty Shredding (2010) left off, but with a strong theme of loss and a questioning of what does it all mean.

One of my favorite tracks here name checks Jackie Mittoo, the long deceased keyboardist and founding member of seminal reggae legends The Skatalites.

They released a fine video for "Me & You and Jackie Mittoo", by well respected filmmaker and fellow Tar Heel Phil Morrison:

"I hate music-- what is it worth?/ Can’t bring anyone back to this earth/ Or fill in the space between all of the notes/ But I got nothing else so I guess here we go…"

Where Superchunk seems to land on I Hate Music with these big mid-life questions is, let's get back to those people and things we love. In Superchunk's case, what they love is smart, tightly crafted, high energy American punk / power pop, and their loyal fans. And so they made a great 10th record, and off they went on a major world tour. "Cram into the back of a van, oh yeah/All of our friends with a plan, oh yeah...Whatever it takes/ Put up your feet on the dash."

Though they had to tour without bassist Laura Ballance whose tinnitus prevents her for playing live (kids, and that means you Lily my 14 year old daughter-drummer, wear those ear plugs!).

Even while Superchunk question the meaning of things on I Hate Music, they release a video for the song "Void" with a big dose of self-depreciation and a terrific sense of humor about getting older.

The other "official" video is an odd film, for "Staying Home", another exhilarating short blast of Superchunk power pop:

I'll leave you with one more, maybe my favorite here, "FOH":

Mac McCaughan wants to know how we're doing - "How's everything at the front of house?" Well Mac, we're kind of like you, up and down, getting older, experiencing loss. But we're finding plenty to love in life, and are especially appreciating those things that have given a lot to us through the years, such as music, and more specifically, Superchunk music.

You'll see I Hate Music again here at WYMA blog in a few weeks, when I publish my annual best of the year list.

Official web page:
Superchunk Facebook page
Twitter: @Superchunk 

Upcoming tour dates:

Nov 29-Dec 1 Camber Sands, UK | All Tomorrow’s Parties ‘End of an Era Pt. 2′
Dec 2 Leeds, UK | Brudenell Social Club
Dec 3 London, UK | Electric Ballroom
Dec 5 Copenhagen, Denmark | Loppen
Dec 6 Stockholm, Sweden | Debaser
Dec 8 Helsinki, Finland | Tavastia
Jan 18 Chicago, IL | Metro / Tomorrow Never Knows Festival
Jan 19 Madison, WI | High Noon Saloon – FRZN Festival
Feb 5 Dallas TX | Trees
Feb 6 Austin TX | The Mohawk
Feb 7 Houston TX | Fitzgerald’s
Feb 8 New Orleans LA | One Eyed Jack’s

Friday Nuggets: The Brogues "(I Ain't No) Miracle Worker"

We've got an obscure but amazingly great one for you this week.  The Brogues were from Merced, California and recorded just 6 songs, all in 1965. "(I Ain't No) Miracle Worker" made it to the Nuggets compilation which I where I heard it. It's a perfect '60's garage song. Here you go:

The Brogues broke up shortly after this recording when Eddie Rodrigues joined the Army.  Two members, Gary Grubb (guitar) and drummer Greg Elmore, later formed Quicksilver Messenger Service.

"(I Ain't No) Miracle Worker" was covered by various other garage bands, including Chocolate Watch Band, The Barracudas, and The Chestefield Kings, bands you just very well might see here on a future Friday.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Best Music for Thanksgiving?

I wonder if these guys have read WYMA blog? Some pretty funny stuff in here.
And they do mention Diarrhea Planet.

So what music do you listen to on Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

REVIEW: Various Artists - I Need You Bad

The west coat, and the Bay Area in particular, has a vibrant garage rock scene.  For those of us who are fans, this is a good thing.  But the proliferation of quality bands makes collecting a challenge.  It even makes finding and evaluation the music to decide what to collect a challenge.  So what are we to do?

Have no fear!  Sonny Smith of Sonny and the Sunsets (whose 2013 album should already be in your collection; our review here) has come to the rescue, curating a 15-track collection of some of the finest garage bands from San Francisco/Oakland, Los Angeles and Portland.  Admittedly, for I Need You Bad the definition of garage band may be a bit stretched, but the choice of bands and songs is of such quality that there will be no complaints.  Rest assured that there are no tunes written by a team of hired hook-generators and pixel pushers.  This music is hand written, hand made, and hand played.  Many of the bands have been on these pages in the past, and/or will be here in the future.  But for many of you, the album will expose you to at least a few bands you might not otherwise hear or have a reasonable chance to collect.  And most of all, I Need You Bad is a testament to the worth of a vibrant indie pop scene in modern music.

If you want to surprise and delight a music fan this holiday season, Sonny Smith may have given you your chance to shine.  Try these four tracks, or stream the entire album at the link below.

You can stream the entire album here: Stream of I Need You Bad.

There are 1,000 copies of "slime green" vinyl LPs available from Polyvinyl Records.  Burger Records are selling 300 copies on cassette.  The MP3s are available from Polyvinyl's online store as well as usual digital outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and Rdio.

Polyvinyl Records

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Burn Antares - Burn Antares

Hailing from the north beaches of Sydney, Australia, Burn Antares makes music that echos back to the melodic psychedelic rock of the '60s.  However, having influences from that period can be a good thing if you add a fresh perspective and do it well.  And a spin through this band's recently released self-titled album demonstrates just how well they do it.  As a first-time listener I was impressed at just how tight the band is.  I don't know how old they are or how long they've been together, but they sound like they have played together for many years and still enjoy every minute.  And then there are the vocals of Grace Farriss.  She has great pipes, an adept delivery and undeniable star appeal.  It seems she comes from a musical family, as her sister is in a band and her father, Andrew, was one of the mainstays of Australian legends INXS.

You can stream the entire album at the Bandcamp link at the bottom of the post, and download it for "name your price".  I have included a few songs here.  "Man's Eyes" quite simply is a great song, and the band has filmed a fun video to go with it.  The other two songs are "Head of A Liar (Disco Amnesia)" and "Treat Me This Way", which I think are the third and second best songs of the set.  For those of us that like psychedelic music, this album earns Burn Antares a spot on the list of bands to follow.

Burn Antares are Grace Farriss, Sean Casey, Daniel Murchison, Tom Hoglund, and Thom Eagleton.


REVIEW: Casual Sex - The Bastard Beat EP

Alright, everyone - time for 14 minutes of Casual Sex!  Oh? I hear some of you complaining that it hardly is casual if we are going to be watching the clock.  I think we have a bit of a misunderstanding.  I'm not getting involved in your sordid little personal sex lives; at least not without a proper introduction and a bit of flirting.  No, I'm writing about The Bastard Beat EP, the 14-plus minute release from Glasgow's Casual Sex.  The band isn't new to regular readers of these pages.  And given their inclusion in Spin's list of the top "see these" for SxSW 2014, their recent tour supporting Franz Ferdinand, and the favorable write-up in the Wall Street Journal (not a publication known for the promotion of sex, casual or otherwise), it is clear that the word is spreading.

The EP is comprised of five tracks characterized by Sam Smith's suggestive croon, dirty bass lines, angular guitars and drumming that likely will induce feet to move.  The themes walk on the sleazy side of the street, but with a wink and a sense of humor.  Lead track "Nothing on Earth" is a perfect introduction to this band's approach to pop.   Smith extols the virtues of a lover over staccato guitar and a uptempo groove.  It is presented here in this video produced by Glasgow's Partickular Films.

Side A is completed by "The Bastard Beat".  Side B includes "The Sound of Casual Sex", "Then Again", and "What's Your Daughter For?"  The songwriting is top notch, but songwriting only gets you part way to the finish line.  The winning is in the delivery, and the delivery displayed by Casual Sex suggests this team can go far.  The vocals and musicianship are excellent, which is what you'd expect from a collection of pros, and the sound befits a foursome which includes two professional sound engineers (Sam and Chris).  But even more impressive is their feel for the songs.  You hear the music, you feel the music, and it feels like it belongs.  You may not have realized that the absence of sleazy guitar pop was a void in your life that demands to be filled.  But listen to The Bastard Beat EP and the truth will win out.

Casual Sex are Sam Smith (vocals/guitar), Edward Wood (guitar), Peter Masson (bass), and Chris McCrory (drums).  The Bastard Beat EP is released via We Can Still Picnic.  The first five songs at the Soundcloud link below comprise the EP, albeit in a different order.

We Can Still Picnic on Facebook
Casual Sex's Big Cartel page (for orders)

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Perfect Heartache" from Delay Trees

One of the fine bands from Finland who have graced our pages is Delay Trees.  Their next album is Readymade, and it will be released in January, 2014, via Helsinki's Soliti Music.  We now have the first song from that record - "Perfect Heartache".  It features warm guitar tones and a building melody.  It suggests good things for the upcoming album.

You can stream and download "Perfect Heartache" below:

Delay Trees' Blog
Soliti Music

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Introducing: Carb On Carb

Auckland, New Zealand's Carb on Carb are Nicole Gaffney (guitar/vocals) and James Stuteley (drums/vocals).  The duo is touring in Asia at the moment.  But before departing they released the single "Eden Terrors", which is available as a free download.  A bit lo-fi and jangling, with a great tempo and a catchy pop feel, it is well worth your time to download it.

If you'd like to load up on some more carbs, here is a four-track EP they released in April.