Friday, February 28, 2014

"Tongues" from PAWS

Cokefloat, the debut LP from Scotland's PAWS, was one of my top 20 albums of 2012.  I'm happy to report that they are back with their second album in early May.  The title will be Youth Culture Forever, and it will be released by FatCat Records.  The album was recorded in the States, and the band is embarking on a US tour in mid April (the dates and locations are at the bottom of this post).  The first release from the album is "Tongues", the stream and video for which are below.  Expect a bit more experimentation and a more dynamic sonic canvas this time around, but assume that there will be plenty of guitar and driving rhythms at the core.  I'm very much looking forward to it.


Fat Cat Records

Tour Dates:
04/16 Philadelphia, PA - Boot and Saddle
04/17 Washington, DC - Black Cat
04/18 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
04/19 Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
04/20 Montreal, QE - Il Motore
04/22 Toronto, ON - Lee's Palace
04/23 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
04/24 Columbus, OH - The Basement
04/25 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
04/26 Minneapolis, MN - 7th St Entry
04/28 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
04/29 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
05/01 Portland, OR - Doug Fir
05/02 Vancouver, BC - Electric Owl
05/03 Seattle, WA - The Crocodile
05/06 Santa Cruz, CA - Catalyst Atrium
05/07 San Francisco, CA - Independent
05/08 Santa Ana, CA - Constellation Room
05/09 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
05/10 San Diego, CA - Casbah
05/11 Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room
05/14 Dallas, TX - Dada
05/15 Austin, TX - Red 7
05/16 Houston, TX - Fitzgeralds
05/17 Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon
05/18 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
05/19 Raleigh, NC - Kings
05/20 Greensboro, NC - The Blind Tiger 

All dates w/ We Are Scientists 

Rolling Stones Friday: Heart of Stone

1964 was a wildly successful year for the Rolling Stones, including their debut on the Ed Sullivan show and a highly successful US tour. At the end of that tour, they went into RCA Studios in Los Angeles and quickly cut a number of songs, including one of my favorites from that era, "Heart of Stone".  Still at a time when they mainly did covers, the Jagger/Richards composition became their 2nd single to make the top 20 on the US charts and appeared on the UK version of Out of Our Heads (1965) and many later greatest hits and compilations packages.

Heavily influenced by the American soul music of the time, but also with a bit of a country flavor, the ballad is striking for its distinctive, somewhat discordant guitar sounds and tough, slow burn but building chorus: "But you'll never break, never break, never break, never break [pause, bam bam bam bam!] this heart of stone."

You get 3 versions, first the recorded original:

A lip synched TV version from 1965: 

And last but certainly not least, one of my all time favorite Rolling Stones covers, by WYMA Hall of Famers The Mekons on their 1988 album So Good It Hurts. Sally Timms fantastic vocal captures all of the melancholy of the song while twisting the gender issues:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Video for "Drove Down" by Full Ugly, album soon

Fully Ugly is a quartet formed by Melbourne native Nathan Burgess.  I've featured a couple of the band's songs in recent months, and was happy to learn that their debut LP, Spent the Afternoon, will be released on April 7 by Bedroom Suck Records.  I will review the album as the release date approaches, but today I'd like to share the video for the lead track, "Drove Down".  It seems to me that any album with a song like this will be anything but ugly.

Bedroom Suck Records

New song from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have released the "Simple and Sure", the first single from their upcoming LP, Days of Abandon.  The album will be out on April 22 via YeBo Music, and TPOBPAH leader Kip Berman has promised songs that are joyful and full of light.  I expect you'll agree that if "Simple and Sure" is representative, the band delivers on that promise.

YeBo Music

Declan Welsh - Glasgow In The Sun

Glasgow In The Sun is collection of songs about Glasgow, as viewed through the keen lens of young Declan Welsh.   Young Declan claims as influences Billy Bragg, Alex Turner and Jarvis Cocker, and both that list and his distillation of their lessons have earned my respect.  His tunes are good, his delivery entertaining.  But the real gems are the manner in which he phrases his observations.  Sample the EP with "I'll Never Leave This Place".  If you like it, stream the entire album, or visit the Bandcamp link and own it



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

For Abel - Greater Inventions

Here is a gem from 2011 that in my opinion didn't receive the attention it deserved.  The band is For Abel (although they once were known as Nacional), and the album is Greater Inventions.  Indie rock with folk rock stylings and plenty of passion -- political and otherwise.  The sound bears favorable resemblance to The Smiths, James, and The Wedding Present.  In other words, they are in that great tradition of Northern England post punk (but still somewhat punk) guitar band groove, of which I'm quite fond.  The members of For Abel are Robert Armstrong, Jonny McGiffen, Colin Healy, and Darron Foy.

The Band played SxSW once, and toured the UK several times.  I understand that they remain an active band, and intend to release an album in 2014 titled Wildebeest.  Greater Inventions is out on Glasgow's Flowers in the Dustbin label, and you can stream/buy it at the Bandcamp link at the bottom of the post.  Here are a few songs to stream, and a nice video for standout track "Yorkshire".

Facebook for For Abel
Bandcamp for Greater Inventions
Flowers in the Dustbin

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

You Beauty - Jersey Flegg

You Beauty is the fourpiece consisting of Will Farrier (vocals), Flyn Mckinnirey (bass), Jashua Phuah (guitar), Kino Verzosa (drums).  Hailing variously from Sydney, Wollongong and Mellbourne, and from other bands such as Absolute Boys, Mere Women , Hira Hira and Ohana.  Jersey Flegg, their debut LP, is about all things rugby league.  So if you are a rugby league fan, the album is a natural for you.  However, I submit that even if you pay no attention to that sport, you'll like the chunky rock riffs, lower-register guitar tones, authoritative rhythm section and storytelling on offer.  The songwriting is straightforward but the lyrics are vivid.  Not every story is happy, but they are interesting and the lyrics are provided for those who like to read along.  And this is a no-risk proposition, as the entire album is available for free download at the Bandcamp link below.



Choosing a palindrome for a band name is interesting enough, but when said palindrome is "taco" plus "cat", you go to the head of the class.  However, since you are here to read about music, rather than interesting names, let's get down to business.  TacocaT is three women and one man residing in Seattle who play an energetic brand of sugar-coated garage rock with plenty of humor (and a album title that nods to local legends Nirvana).  The songs cover parties, drugs, unnecessary snow days, anarchists, alien girls, catcalls ("Hey Girl") and menstrual periods (the surfy "Crimson Wave").   There even is an anti-ode to a Seattle bus line ("FU #8").  Those familiar with Seattle bands such as Tullycraft and the Fastbacks will smile at the similarities, but TacocaT are more stoned than the former and more pop than the latter.  There is some silliness, um, a lot of silliness, but the sound is fully professional and the harmonies addictive.  Moreover, when you unpack the glittery packaging there is some serious commentary about the lives of women, and you get bonus points for paying attention while you laugh.  With 13 songs inching just up to the half hour mark, none overstay their welcome.  Put NVM on repeat, and you have an hour-long party soundtrack.  Check out the sound below with the band's answer to the onset of a period and the desire for a footbridge to paradise.

TacocaT are Emily Noces (who also is the music editor for one of Seattle's alternative weeklies, The Stranger), Eric Randall, Bre McKenna, and Lelah Maupin.  The band has released a previous album and several shorter records (see the Bandcamp link below).  NVM is out now via Hardly Art.

Bandcamp (prior releases)
Hardly Art page for Tacocat

Deathcats / Fruit Tones: Thplit Tape

We were happy to feature Deathcats last April, and then again in early December when they released The Raddest EP on Fuzzkill Records (link here) .  Now they have teamed up again with Fuzzkill, and with Manchester band Fruit Tones, on a four track split tape called Thplit Tape.  And I have to give Fuzzkill a lot of credit here, this is an inspired pairing.  I wasn't familiar with Fruit Tones, but I now am a fan and I'd love to hear more from them.  Both bands have a bit of garage, a bit of punk and a bit of surf.  Oh, and there is a good dose of energy as well.  And most of all, these are DIY rock tunes that just make you feel good.  About the music, about the day, and about yourself.  They probably will give luster to your hair and tighten your abs, as well, but you won't care if they don't.  The only complaint I can muster is that a split with three songs each would have been even better.

I was going to pick one song from each band to showcase the quality of Thplit Tape.  But I was so fond of all four songs that I decided to embed two from each band (there is an additional song from Fruit Tones).  You can stream them below, you can stream them at the Bandcamp site, and order at the Bandcamp site or from Fuzzkill.

Bandcamp for thplit tape
Deathcats - Facebook
Twitter for Deathcats
Fruit Tones - Facebook
Twitter for Fruit Tones
Fuzzkill Records

Monday, February 24, 2014

REVIEW: Mozes and the Firstborn - Mozes and the Firstborn

I generally expect to find garage pop from band in places like Seattle, Austin, San Francisco, Fullerton, and even Melbourne.  But given how badly the Dutch kicked the world's collective ass in long-track speed skating this month, I shouldn't be surprised that my new favorite garage pop album is the self-titled release from the Netherlands' Mozes and the Firstborn.  Of course, it isn't a complete surprise because the record is released by Burger Records, which for me is ground zero of garage pop these days.

Mozes and the Firstborn is Melle Dielesen, Corto Blommaert, Raven Aartsen, and Ernst-Jan van Doorn, and they are from Eindhoven and Antwerp.  The band's name has its origin the animated movie Prince of Egypt, which Melle watched numerous times as a youth.  The band's music has its roots in the energy of youth and the DIY attitude and confidence that fuels the best indie music.  It is rock and roll that has no shame in showing its rough edges, or its influences.  And whether you are nodding to the garage of "Bloodsucker" or "I Got Skills", the sublime folky ballad "Skinny Girl", the British Invasion of "Peter Jr." or "What's Wrong, Mama", or the grungy "Time's A Headache", I suspect that you will have as good a time listening to the album as the band had in making it.  It really comes down to attitude. Just pretend you at at the Holland House after a Dutch sweep of another skating event, and the good times and euphoria will flow.

The band is touring in the US right now, and the remaining dates, including their SXSW show, are listed at the bottom of this post.

Mozes and the Firstborn is available in CD, digital and vinyl formats.  By the way, if you want more of Mozes and the Firstborn, here is their December EP.

Burger Records

Remaining tour dates:
Tue. Feb. 25 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Wed. Feb. 26 - Boise, ID @ Flying M Coffee
Thu. Feb. 27 - Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
Sun. Mar. 2 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Wed. Mar. 5 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill
Tue. Mar. 11-16 - Austin, TX @ SXSW
Fri. Mar. 21-22 - Santa Ana, CA @ Burgerama III

REVIEW: Jimbo Mathus and the Tri-State Coalition - Dark Night of the Soul

Jimbo Mathus is a veteran of a number of musical styles (The Squirrel Nut Zippers' swing and The North Mississippi All-Stars' blues, to name two), but judging by the contents of Dark Night of the Soul, all of that was prelude to this. And this is, by any measure, a great American Southern rock album. I hear echoes of The Band, Crazy Horse, The Allman Brothers and Leon Russell, but that is by no means an exhaustive list of influences and cohorts for this album, which is, frankly, a bit of a masterpiece.

In addition to his band The Tri-State Coalition, Mathus is joined here by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel of the Del-Lords (and any number of great country rock albums - The Bottle Rockets' Brooklyn Side and Cheri Knight's The Knitter, to name only two) and Drive By Trucker Matt Patton. The band is terrific, and as great as the guitars - lead guitars on the uptempo rock tracks and pedal steel on the country rock stuff - are, it's Mathus' singing that is front and center. And that's as it should be, because he is equally comfortable with soul shouting on tracks like "White Angel", country crooning on "Shine Like a Diamond" and full-on roaring as on "Burn the Ships" and "Fire In the Canebrake". Here's a video of the latter - more laid-back than the album version, but you can hear Mathus' terrific vocal:

Here's "White Angel" - a perfect example of the expansive nature of the music on Dark Night, and probably overall the best track on the album:

The album was made in Mississippi at Dial Back Sound, owned by Fat Possum’s Bruce Watson. Watson and Mathus apparently pared down 40 songs to the 12 that made this album, and are to be applauded, based on the 12 that appear on Dark Night. Sequencing, production, it's all done extremely well. Every song on the album is terrific - "Casey Caught the Cannonball" swings, "Hawkeye Jordan" rocks, and "Medicine" is an old-style blues along the lines of, say, Howlin' Wolf's "Goin' Down Slow". Really, this is just a great rock album. Call it Americana - in the sense that it encompasses a lot of American musical styles (blues, country, soul, rock), that description probably fits as well as anything. But, above all, be sure to call it rock when you tell people about it, because above all, that's what it does. The album is out now (released Feb. 18) on Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess Records.

Jimbo Mathus website
Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess Records