Friday, December 13, 2013

No Monster Club - Foie Gras

Foie Gras, the new EP from Dublin's No Monster Club is fun, melodic, energetic and, quite often, satisfyingly noisy. Picking a genre presents some challenges, however.  It is pop that varies in approach from punk to sing-alongs.  But in all cases the songs are entertaining and well written, and given our modern ability to insert streams of album tracks, genre isn't real relevant.  It should suffice to say that this is indie pop that you will be happy to listen to.

Here is one of my favorites, the album closer "Those Little Bastards" --

No Monster Club is Bobby Aherne, Mark Chester, Paddy Hanna and Shane Murphy.  Foie Gras includes some new songs and a few singles they've released in the past year.

The album is available as a digital download or a cassette. See the Bandcamp link below and to stream the entire album.


Friday Nuggets - Pere Ubu "Non-Alignment Pact"

Pere Ubu, a recent photo above, have been doing their wonderfully unique and challenging thing since 1975 when they roared out from deep within the Cleveland underground with some of the most thoughtful, art damaged music the rock world had ever seen. Their outrageous and brilliant frontman David Thomas was as much a poet, performance artist and provocateur as singer. And against all odds, Pere Ubu, which is really Thomas and a rotating cast of always top flight avant garde rock musicians, are still doing their thing. In fact, as I write this I am preparing to go see Pere Ubu tonight in Portland right before this blog piece appears.  

This being a Nuggets feature, we will give you one from the very early days. While certainly not "garage rock" in the narrow sense of the word, Pere Ubu certainly was influenced by Captain Beefheart, The MC5, Lou Reed and plenty of stuff that loosely falls under the banner we salute every Friday here. Thomas once, as somewhat of a joke, referred to Pere Ubu as "avant-garage", and the term stuck.  

One of my all-time favorites of theirs is "Non-Alignment Pact" from their brilliant 1978 debut record The Modern Dance. What a chorus!  And the Tony Maimone bass lines are absolutely killer.  

Okay that sounds so good, you get one more, their very fist single "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" released in 1975. Trust me, nothing sounded like this in 1975, but you certainly heard it in Television, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Gang of Four and the wave of great avant rock that followed Pere Ubu:

If you wonder what Pere Ubu are up to today, Matthew Singer wrote this very fine piece in a Portland weekly this week previewing their show (link here).  Pere Ubu recently released its 15th studio LP The Lady From Shanghai.

Pere Ubu Facebook page

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Out of the Way" by The Good Sports

Nash, Jake, Andre, Liam and Lily are Brisbane's The Good Sports.  And good sports that they are, they have made some very attractively-priced songs available on their Bandcamp page.  Sample them with the British invasion-style garage nugget "Out of the Way", and then, if 'name your price' is in your budget, click on the Bandcamp link and enjoy the tunes.  And you could be a good sport and actually pay them something to reward their generosity.


FKA Twigs - EP2

EP2 is, as the title suggests, the second EP from intriguing UK talent FKA Twigs.  Both EPs were released on The Young Turks label.  EP2 consists for four tracks, the first three of which - "How's That", Papi Pacify" and "Water Me" - are presented below.  Since the visual presentation of FKA Twigs' songs is an important part of her art, we have used the video versions.  Musically, she has been compared to XX and downbeat masters Massive Attack.  The twenty-five year old moved from the country to London to pursue music and dance.  She originally performed under the name Twigs, but added FKA at the request of another artist already using that name.

We are advised that FKA Twigs is working on an album.  Watch the videos below and see if you agree that this artist is one to watch in the coming year.

The Young Turks

Video: Nick Jaina, "Don't Come To Me" (from the CD Primary Perception)

This video came to my attention this week via the Portland ballet circles that my daughter travels in. But you say - ballet?! - hold on man, we come to WYMA for the rock.

But we have eclectic tastes here at WYMA and cover a great deal of fantastic indie pop and singer-songwriter fare like Nick Jaina from Portland. Jaina's sixth and most recent CD Primary Perception is excellent.

In thinking about a video for one of the standout tracks from Primary Perception, "Don't Come To Me," Jaina got interested in the idea of incorporating dance and movement, a medium with which he has worked before.  So he enlisted the help of one of Portland's best dancers, Candace Bouchard, from the Oregon Ballet Theater, who has choreographed various dance performances in rock music clubs set to live rock music. The entire story behind the video is well worth reading here.

I like everything about this.

Read more about Jaina and purchase Primary Perception for just $6.74 at the web site of his fine Portland based record company, Fluff and Gravy Records.

Artist page:
Twitter: @NickJaina
Nick Jaina Facebook page

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

REVIEW: Lower Plenty - Hard Rubbish

Lower Plenty is a four-piece with a criminally low international profile, named after a Melbourne suburb in which none of members of the group reside.  Their debut LP, Hard Rubbish, was released in Australia in 2012 on Special Award Records, and at least one publication in Australia voted it album of the year.  Hard Rubbish received its worldwide release in 2013 when it was picked up by Fire Records and made available in April.  The album presents unique songs that are raw, melancholy, and sparsely arranged.  The result is an atmosphere that is dense, compelling, and hits harder than one would expect given the restrained instrumentation.  But full context to the atmosphere is left to the listener, because the sorrow, disappointment and desperation is hazily outlined and whispered over a short running time.  And somehow the songs manage to be more intimate as a result.  It is as if they fulfill the promise of the album title and cover art by leaving bleak, emotional debris in a desolate space for someone else to deal with.  Or to choose not to deal with.

And despite all of that, Hard Rubbish is melodic and full of moments of beauty.  "Strange Beast" is a haunting Lee Hazelwood-style tune with the reminder that loneliness is the biggest killer of all, but I've been obsessed with the beauty of the track since I first heard it.  Similarly, "Nullarbor" is another memorable track despite its downbeat themes of leaving, loss and letting go.  There are a few harsher tracks, such as "Dirty Flowers" and "Girls They Stick Together", and a few tracks that at least hint at sunlight.  For the most part, however, this is music for late nights quiet time or morning regrets.  The songwriting is top class, with deft lyrical touches such as "I was far enough away just to hear myself say goodbye" ("Close Enough"), "did you have to take all the love and leave the rest to no one" ("Grass").

The band is comprised of Daniel Twomey, Jensen Tjhung, Sarah Heyward and Al Monfort.  Their other bands include Deaf Wish, UV Race, Total Control, The Focus, and Dick Diver, many of which are far noisier than this project.  But for Hard Rubbish the quartet display a sure hand in dealing with quieter songs.  The set up is two guitars, drums and mechanical percussion with all four members taking turns singing.  The usually one-take recording often occurred around a kitchen table.  Given the band's location and its relaxed performing vibe, their self-applied label of "suburban country" seems apt.

I highly recommend this album for a place in your collection.

Label page for Hard Rubbish
Fire Records

Update: Radkey, new video "Stop Freaking Out"

Back in October we reviewed Devil Fruit, the new EP by Radkey, the astonishingly great young power trio from St. Josephs MO (review here).

One of the songs we praised there, "Start Freaking Out", had no audio or video we could link to at that time. But, good things come to those who wait and so here we have the new official video for "Start Freaking Out", which shows the band in its live glory.

As their Twitter page proclaims: "Three brothers on a quest to help save the world from false rock." We here at WYMA strongly support this noble quest!

They have some shows coming up very soon with Red Fang, and one with Ty Segall in March:

Radkey with Drop a Grand and Stiff Middle Fingers at Recordbar

Red Fang with Cancer Bats, Shrine, and Radkey at The Shelter

Red Fang with Cancer Bats, Shrine, and Radkey at Logan Square Auditorium

Red Fang with Shrine and Radkey at Triple Rock Social Club

Red Fang with Shrine and Radkey at Black Sheep

Ty Segall and Dum Dum Girls with Astronautalis, Blouse, and 8 more… at Club Dada

Radkey Facebook page 

Twitter: @Radkey

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"Sing / Hum" from Surf Bored

We introduced our readers to Surf Bored in mid-October (here) when the band released free track "The Urge".  Phase two of the four-piece's plan to conquer the pop music world has commenced with the release of another "name your price" track, "Sing / Hum".  The combination of sunny surf pop and soulful southern-accented vocals is a winning one.  The band plans a 2014 album release via This Is American Music, but for now you can enjoy "Sing / Hum" and "The Urge".

Surf Bored members are Jack Blauvelt (drums, omniharp and harmonica; from Dana Swimmer), John Riccetelli (lead guitar; from Dana Swimmer), Danny Hurley (backing vocals), and T.J. Mimbs (rhythm guitar and omniharp; from The District Attorneys).  All four members provide vocals.

To save you the trouble of looking for it, here is the October release.

This Is American Music

Introducing: Chorusgirl

London's Chorusgirl is Silvi, Caroline and Udo, and they play guitar pop with satisfying doses of jangle and grumble.  While there likely is more that one could know about them, there is nothing more that I know about them, so I'll just suggest you enjoy the two songs they have posted on Soundcloud.


Monday, December 9, 2013

REVIEW: The Stevens - A History of Hygiene

The Stevens are a band that quite clearly deserve to be covered on this blog.  Why?  Of course I think they make good music, so that is reason number one.  But a more specific reason is found in the type of music this Melbourne outfit plays.  This blog takes its name from the work of Ohio band Guided By Voices.  And the album I've heard this year that sounds the most like a classic Guided By Voices album without being an album by Guided By Voices (or one of Pollard's other projects) is A History of Hygiene.  The album is a treasure trove of lo-fi guitar pop, often with quirky titles.  Of the generous offering of 24 tracks, only four of them run past 2:30 in length and only one breaks the three minute barrier.  And for my money, some of the best are less than two minute - melodic, hooky and leaving you yearning for more.

The Stevens were founded by guitarists/songwriters Travis MacDonald and Alex Macfarlane.  The band now includes bassist Gus Lord (who also is in Boomgates) and drummer Matt Harkin.  They have a previous EP to their credit, which sufficiently impressed Guy Blackman of Chapter Music that he snapped them up for his label.  For this, their debut, the band seems to be following a very deliberate and specific path.  Their influences, which in addition to GBV probably include New Zealand guitar pop, some Brit Pop, and American '90s bands such as Pavement, are channeled into songs that are only lightly polished, and end just as the taste begins to become intense.  Most of them were recorded by Mikey Young in a single take and seem propelled by a certain anxiety (which also is reflected in some of the song titles).  But neither brevity nor one-take rough edges prevent the songs from leaving a lasting impression.  I think the staying power is due to interesting, if cryptic, lyrics, excellent and varied guitar tones, and a strong sense of melody.  And the band seems quite tight in their performance, so perhaps they simply need fewer takes than some others.

I've given you a sampler of songs below, but I encourage you to visit the Bandcamp link below if you like the tracks here, and try the whole thing.   This album hit quietly, but at some point the noise will give a wide audience.  You might as well get on the wave early.

The GBV strain is strong in this one --

The title of the album comes from the opening line of this song.

"Hindsight" was previously released as a single --

The History of Hygiene is out now on Chapter Music.  It is available in CD or LP formats from the label, or digital download at the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for album
Chapter Music

"Secondary City" by The New Tigers

Finland's The New Tigers were on these pages in September when we reviewed their great new LP, The Badger (see here).  They are back with a new video for album track "Secondary City".  The fine track is played under scenes of the band's hometown of Turku and film shot when they were visiting London last year.  If you don't have The Badger yet, this video should serve as your reminder.

The New Tigers - Secondary City from Appu Jasu on Vimeo.

Soliti Music

The Bennetts - Dreamkeeper

Ahhhh - the fuzzy, jangling guitars get me every time.  The delivery in this case is via The Bennetts, a four-piece from Athens, Greece, consisting of Fotis (vocals and guitar), Thanasis (guitar), Don Mondie (bass) and Akis (drums).  The ace explorers for all things indie pop at Seattle's Jigsaw Records have signed the band up for a seven-track release titled Dreamkeeper.

The arrangements stand as a testament to the theory that often the simple is most effective.  Fotis' vocals have a distinctive natural ache that infuses the songs with poignancy.  I have provided four of my favorites below (I had intended to limit myself to three, but couldn't decide which one to cut).  If you only have time for two, I recommend "Monday" and "Naples", which are classic guitar pop gems.  If  you want more than four, stream the entire album at the Bandcamp link below.  Dreamkeeper is a very nice album on its own, and is a strong opening statement for a band that should have a lot to offer in the future.

The album is available as a digital download for $5.  The CD plus a download code is $6, and a cassette plus download is $5.  See the links below.

Jigsaw link for physical copy
Bandcamp for digital copy
The Bennetts' Soundcloud