Friday, January 31, 2014

"Silences" from Holy Esque

We've sung the praises of Holy Esque a few times in the past, and the word is beginning to spread.  The Glasgow band is playing SxSW in Austin, Texas in March, and their new single, "Silences" is being released worldwide digital on February 10.  Featuring an appealing brand of urgent guitar pop with a big sound and distinctive vocals, I expect the band to make a splash in Austin and with their upcoming album.  Listen to "Silences" and see if you agree.

Holy Esque on Tumblr

Rolling Stones Friday - Salt of the Earth

On many days I would say that Beggars Banquet is my favorite Stones album. It's a remarkably original work, one very much reflecting the chaos of 1968, yet timeless in its startlingly fresh sound and ambitious musicality.

And while Beggars Banquet had its share of hits ("Sympathy For the Devil", "Street Fighting Man"), today we're going to feature this truly classic album's closer, "Salt of the Earth":  

Brian Jones' drug habit left him out of most of the recording, which required Keith Richards to pick up the slack. Richards' acoustic guitar work throughout Beggars Banquet is outstanding, but nowhere more striking than on "Salt of the Earth", also just the 2nd Stones song to date then where Richards took the lead on at least a share of the vocals.

The lyrics on the surface praise the working man, hardly a unique topic in rock and roll. But the song is far more effective and memorable for the Stones' realization that their superstardom has left them at a disquieting distance from the tough daily lives of the masses:

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier; 
Spare a thought for his back breaking work....

And when I search a faceless crowd  
A swirling mass of grey and black and white
They don't look real to me 
In fact, they look so strange  

The song has rarely been performed live, but here's a truly heartfelt and terrific duet performed by Jagger and Richards at the immediately post-9/11 New York City benefit for the victims and first responders:

We will certainly come back to Beggars Banquet on some subsequent Friday later this year.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

REVIEW: Running Red Lights - There's A Bluebird in My Heart

The quality of the music on There's A Bluebird in My Heart gives no hint to the long, torturous road traveled by Running Red Lights in getting to the point where they could release an album that reflected their craft.  And I think that is a major credit to this Toronto-based band that this debut makes any discussion of the back story superfluous - the songs eloquently announce a pop band worth paying attention to.  There's no evidence to be found of "of the moment" templates such at slacker pop, urban R&B and electro pop.  This is classic pop/soft rock/folk rock that has delighted fans in every decade from the '60s onward.  But it is anything but languid, as evidenced by the energetic "Under the Wire" and the moody "Dear Liza", which prompts favorable comparisons to Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac .

There's A Bluebird in My Heart ably showcases the band's ample talents.  They have excellent male and female vocals, top class musicianship and obvious chemistry.  But equally impressive is the songwriting.  There is plenty of variety, and the band isn't afraid to showcase the charms of a song with an acoustic presentation.  But irrespective of approach, each track seems crafted as if it will be the showcase single.  Of course, each listener will have favorites, but none of the tracks can be dismissed as filler.

Try out three of my favorites below, and then stream the entire album on Bandcamp.  It will brighten your day.

Running Red Lights is Scarlett (vocals/guitar), Dave Puzak (guitar/keys), Kevin Howley (vocals/drums/guitar/sampler), and Jeff Clark (bass/vocals).  There's A Bluebird in My Heart is available now via the Bandcamp link below.  Here is a two song sampler available for download until February 14.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"A Long Walk Home For Parted Lovers" by Yumi Zouma

A new track from New Zealand expats Yumi Zouma has become a weekly event, and one that I quite look forward to.  Actually, " A Long Walk Home For Parted Lovers" is the rare Yumi Zouma track that qualifies as an "old" track, as it was on the internet many months ago and disappeared.  Its reemergence suggests that the track will be included on the band's EP, which will be released February 11 and is available for pre-order from Cascine.  With an upbeat melody and a dose of funk coupled with cool and sassy vocals, it is a track to treasure.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Two acoustic tracks from Dick Diver

Melbourne's Dick Diver captured the top spot on my list of top albums for 2013 (list here) with Calendar Days, an affecting and accessible look at ordinary life. The wonderful folks at La Blogotheque filmed the foursome playing "Gap Year" and "Lime Green Shirt", two of my favorite songs from Calendar Days in a cemetery.

Calendar Days is released via Chapter Music.

Chapter Music

Reverberation #96

An early treat from the folks at Reverberation Radio.  It's their usual curated mix of 60's psychedelia, garage, early world  rock combined with Music recorded and played by bands who treasure the era.

Reverberation #96

1. NickWaterhouse - Sleepin’ Pills
2. Nicolas Nils& Les Murators - Faudra Compter Avec Moi
3. Status Quo - Pictures of Matchstick Men
4. Angel Dámazo - Como Las Aguas Del Rio
6. The Young Sinclairs - Problems
8. Teta Lando - Muato Wa N’Gingila
9. Marricks - Trains
10. Allah-Las - The Other Place

Wimps - Party at the Wrong Time EP

Seattle's Wimps dish up four tracks of infectious, high-powered. punky garage pop on their new EP, Party at the Wrong Time.  With a classic three piece set up of drums, bass and guitar, and Rachael Ratner's staccato vocals, this group knows that the key to landing a punk song is to jump in with both feet, deliver as if your life depended on it, and then get out in under three minutes.  They prove themselves pros, and from the beginning of "Secret Message" through the final notes of  the title track, it is a fitting soundtrack for your party.

Party at the Wrong Time is out now via Help Yourself records.  There is a limited run of 300 7" vinyl (digital download included), and it is available as a digital download only. Click over to the Bandcamp link for ordering details and to stream the entire EP.

Wimps are David Ramm, Rachael Ratner, and Matt Nyce.

Help Yourself Records

Monday, January 27, 2014

Internet "radio" show from Fire Records

I'm a big fan of Fire Records, which is celebrating its 30 years of releasing great music.  So I was happy to learn of this stream of tracks selected from Fire Records releases curated by James Nicholls and John Foster.  Whatever your taste, you are likely to find something you like, and something you need.

Tracklist: Artist/Song Title
Smudge - "Mr Coffee Man"
Lives of Angels - "Imperial Motors"
Full Ugly - "Hanging Around"
Fawn Spots - "Recorder"
Divorced - "Weirdo Boss"
Bardo Pond - "Here Comes The Warm Jets"
Iceage - "You're Nothing"
Dennis Jones - "Sometimes"
Josephine Foster - "I'm A Dreamer" 
The Wolfgang Press "Hang On Me (For Papa)"
Mission of Burma "Trem Two"
Dirty Beaches "ELLI"
Lower Plenty "Work In The Morning"
Bitch Prefect "Adelaide"
The Zombies "She's Not There"
The Moles "Lonely Hearts Get What They Deserve"
Blank Realm "Reach You On The Phone"
Las Kellies (Featuring Ian Svenonious) "Two Types"
Boomgates "Laymens Terms"
Beach Fossils "Calyer"
Thee American Revolution "Blow My Mind"
Half Japanese "U.S. Teens Are Spoiled Bums"
The 6ths (Featuring Mary Timony) "All Dressed Up In Dreams"
Peaking Lights "Hey Sparrow"
Keel Her "Riot Girl"
Spacemen 3 "I Love You"
Unrest "Isabel"

Fire Records

Through the Sparks - Invisible Kids

There are a number of shining lights in the Birmingham, Alabama music scene, but one of the brightest is Through the Sparks.  The collective has been releasing and performing music since at least 2007, although I believe all the members have other projects as well.  Through the local label Skybucket Records, the band has released a retrospective.  Included are tracks from prior releases, some of them in a live recorded version.  There are so many good tracks, that choices for your consideration were hard, but I settled on a live version of "Brion Monchus" (from their Alamalibu album, named after Jody Nelson's recording studio), and a psychedelic cover of The Rolling Stone's "Ruby Tuesday".  You can stream (and buy) the entire album at the Bandcamp link below.

Are you looking for a "house" band?  That is, the default band to cue up when you come home from work and pour a beverage?  I submit Through the Sparks.

Through the Sparks are Jody Nelson, Greg Slamen, James Brangle, Shawn Avery, Grey Watson, Nikolaus Mimikakis, Thomas Mimikakis, Michael Shackelford, and The Chad Fisher Horns.

Skybucket Records


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Nasimiyu - dirt. EP

With five tracks, multiple instruments, and various styles, in twenty minutes Minneapolis native - and New York City resident - Nasimiyu Murumba has played a worthy gambit for critical attention in the pop world.  It is a glorious mix of rhythms, varied instrumentation and intriguing creativity.  If I were going to make an album teaser I'd probably start with an concept involving a multiple ring circus.  You can stream the entire dirt. EP at the Bandcamp link below.  If you like it, it is available to download for "name your price".

Asimiyu provided vocals, drums, piano, beatbox, percussion, glockenspiel, flute and organ.  Kalmia Traver provided sax.  Naughty Professor contributed horns.  Andreas Gustafsson played bass.  Ainsley Matich provided Tuba.