Friday, March 21, 2014

REVIEW: Tripping the Light Fantastic - ... Is Tripping the Light Fantastic

One of the great secrets of the indie pop world is the existence of Jigsaw Records.  They scour the world for all manner of pop records, and generally will have in stock wonderful stuff you won't find elsewhere.  And if you live in the US, you can avoid international postage on the great releases Chris, the Jigsaw CEO, brings back from his trips abroad.  And not content to bring you delicious pop from other labels, Jigsaw runs its own label as well, and we think it is worth writing about.

Today's focus is the Hamburg, Germany outfit Tripping the Light Fantastic, and their debut album ... Is Tripping the Light Fantastic.  The band was formed in 2001, and assumed its current name in 2008.  Their past releases include several singles and an EP.  With a large line-up consisting of Frauke Brammer, Adrian Adam, Cornelius von Tiedermann, Henning Kasbohm, Jil Hesse, Johannes Huhmann, Leif Gutschow, and Tilman van der Leeden, the band can deploy male female voices in multiple combinations.  Musically, they appear related to the Glasgow guitar pop of The Pastels and Orange Juice, but  as you might expect with a collective this size, Tripping the Light Fantastic benefits from the infusion of a number of musical personalities.  The ten tracks include jangle pop, ballads, sugary noise pop, vampy piano-driven tunes and a bit of chamber pop.  There is a lot of fun here, and the digital copy is only $7.  Take THAT, iTunes!

You can purchase a digital copy or a CD at the Bandcamp link below, as well as stream the entire album.

Bandcamp for album
Jigsaw Records page for album

Rolling Stones Friday: Wild Horses

The Rolling Stones write some damn fine ballads too, and it's about time we feature one.

"Wild Horses" was recorded in December 1969 in Muscle Shoals Alabama and released on the Sticky Fingers LP in 1971. Memphis legend Jim Dickinson played piano on the song. Mick Taylor's country-flavored lead guitar is particularly effective.

It's one of The Stones' most enduring ballads. Here's an acoustic version done as a video in 1995:

The first release of the song was actually in 1970 when Keith granted his friend Gram Parsons the right to cover it on The Flying Burrito Brothers' LP Burrito Deluxe:  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Cadillac Girl" from Only Real

It seems to me that it is time for the northern hemisphere dwellers to start collecting songs to comprise your warm weather soundtrack.  Today's suggestion is "Cadillac Girl" from Only Real, the performing name of Londoner Niall Galvin.  Mr. Galvin wasn't on my radar, but I have become very fond of this song.  It features woozy instrumentation and a unique delivery that conveys slacker charm and an appealing confidence.  It will be available digitally on April 14 from Harvest Records in the US and Virgin EMI in the UK.  And if you like his work, you may want to track down last year's Days in the City EP.

Harvest Records
Virgin EMI Records

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

REVIEW: Somos -- Temple of Plenty

The debut album from Boston indie-punk band Somos will be released next week on Tiny Engines. Temple of Plenty is nearly equal parts loud and melodic -- happily tilting a bit toward the former -- and is one of the best records I've heard this year. The engineering and production (by Jesse Cannon and Mike Oettinger, who worked on the fantastic new (and to-be-reviewed) Morning Glory album) favors a guitar sound that Donald Trump would label "Yoooge!", supporting the stately, powerful vocals of bassist Michael Fiorentino. Have a listen to "Domestic":


The guitar work (Phil Haggerty and Justin Hahn) shifts naturally between cascading power chords and linear, melodic leads, reminding me of some of my favorite songs by Restorations (whose first album was released by Tiny Engines). And Evan Deges's drums flat out speak for themselves.

Oh, and, you know, it's Lent. My Lenten sacrifice this year is to try to be more patient with the parade of freaking morons who I encounter on a minute by minute basis in my everyday life. So, in an effort to comport myself in a manner consistent with this sacrifice, I'll reject the impulse to disparage the plebeian, whitebread tastes of those of you who haven't picked up this album by the end of business next Tuesday -- heck, you can even pre-order here. I'll also mention that I'm looking forward to next Thursday night, when Somos will be playing at the excellent downtown Raleigh venue Deep South -- The Bar. They're hitting the road next week, so make sure you go see them when they come to your godforsaken backwater hellhole.

MAR 21 - Providence, RI @ AS220
MAR 22 - Queens, NY @ Hollis Woods Community Church
MAR 23 - Oaklyn, NJ @ Studio Luloo
MAR 24 - Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
MAR 25 - Alexandria, VA @ The Lab
MAR 27 - Raleigh, NC @ Deep South - The Bar
MAR 28 - Greensboro, NC @ Carolina Theatre
MAR 29 - Atlanta, GA @ Wonderroot
MAR 30 - Augusta, GA @ Dirty Kids Den
MAR 31 - Tallahassee, FL @ Cuddlepunx Riot House
APR 01 - Tampa, FL @ Epic Problem
APR 02 - Pembroke Pines, FL @ Talent Farm
APR 03 - Orlando, FL @ Wills Pub
APR 04 - Gainesville, FL @ Looseys
APR 05 - Wilmington, NC @ Orton's Underground
APR 08 - Stroudsburg, PA @ The Living Room
APR 10 - Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East (Record Release) w/ The Hotelier, Choke Up and Grandview
APR 11 - Amherst, MA @ The Pub
APR 12 - Albany, NY @ The Icehouse w/ Save Ends
APR 13 - Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar w/ Save Ends
APR 14 - Cleveland, OH @ Now That's Class w/ Save Ends
APR 15 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean w/ Save Ends
APR 16 - Flint, MI @ TBA w/ Save Ends
APR 17 - Pittsburgh, PA @ The Roboto Project w/ Save Ends
APR 18 - Doylestown, PA @ Siren Records w/ Save Ends
APR 19 - Copiague, NY @ The Wood Shop w/ Save Ends

Here, check out another great song from the album:


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

REVIEW: Tony Molina - Dissed and Dismissed

Don't you hate it when you hear that some album that dropped with little fanfare, limited availability is now both completely unavailable and a must-have masterpiece? (and while I'm thinking about it, will someone re-release Nectarine No. 9's Saint Jack? Thanks in advance!)  Apparently, such things bother the good people at Slumberland Records as well, because on March 25 they are re-leasing the delightful powerpop record Dissed and Dismissed by Tony Molina.  Originally issues on a limited run of vinyl in 2013, the album now will be available on vinyl, cassette and digital formats.  Pick one, pick all, and the The Tony will be with you always.

Tony is involved in hardcore projects as well, but Dissed and Dismissed displays his connection with the sounds that make Guided by Voices, Teenage Fanclub and The Feelies so beloved by their fans regardless of the genre of the day on the pop music scene (even including one GBV cover).  All that doesn't mean that Tony is just replicating history.  He is thematically and lyrically adventurous, perhaps even subversive.  The songs are concise, but so sharp and well-formed that the length seems just right.  They seem like AM radio blasts from bands whose names you can't quite remember but whose work you loved.

This album may well be the stuff of legend around the campfires after Armageddon.  And maybe not.  But you'll enjoy it thoroughly regardless.  Besides, most of us  won't survive Armageddon.  If you're like me, you've been stockpiling beer, not food.  I'm just hoping to escape my library fines.


RIP: Scott Asheton (The Stooges)

Scott Asheton died on March 15 at age 64.

In 1967, in Ann Arbor Michigan where his family had moved a few years before, Scott and his guitar playing brother Ron, along with two other school pals, Dave Alexander and James Osterberg Jr. (a/k/a Iggy Pop), formed The Stooges. And it is fair to say that Scott Asheton and his band mates changed the course of rock history. The Stooges primitive, super aggressive sound took '60's garage rock to its most extreme, forming a blueprint for generations of punk and garage bands to follow.

While there have certainly been "better" drummers than Scott Asheton in terms of technique and innovation, no one could have suited The Stooges proto-punk approach more skillfully. Deceptively simple, relentless  and uncompromising - Scott Asheton in many ways led was The Stooges as much as Iggy Pop did.

Listen here - "Raw Power" indeed:

Following The Stooges break up in 1974, Scott Asheton played with many bands and artists, among them Sonic's Rendezvous Band (featuring MC5 alum Fred "Sonic" Smith), The Scott Morgan Band, Sonny Vincent, Captain Sensible, Destroy All Monsters, and Iggy Pop. Following Ron Asheton's death in 2009, Scott, along with Iggy Pop was the only original member of The Stooges to play in their various festival and other shows in recent years.

Here's The Stooges in 2003 in their first show on their Detroit home turf in 29 years -- chaos ensues, but Scott Asheton keeps the beat, pulverizing the skins, as true and tough as rock'n'roll gets:  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our St Patrick's Day Toast to You

Let us not let St. Patrick's Day pass without a visit from Ireland's finest young singer, the great Lisa Hannigan. This one "Safe Travels" from her fine and most recent CD Passenger is our toast to all of you today:

REVIEW: Appletop - Brave Mountains

The sun is out, the temperatures are getting warmer and I think Spring is creeping in.  So my musical appetite requires some sunny sounding power pop and southern influenced rock.  Where would I find that?  Well, at the moment, I'm finding it on Brave Mountains, the new LP from the French group Appletop.  Yes, a French group on a Scottish label playing American-style alt rock with a bit of a country flavor.  We are citizens of the world.

Channeling '80s and '90s British and American guitar rock, the riffs are chunky and jangling, the harmonies soaring -- this trio has their finger on the pulse of timelessly appealing indie rock.  In fact, I would suggest that if you heard a few of these songs in isolation you might wonder whether you were listening to recently discovered unreleased tracks from Teenage Fanclub or Pavement.  The set includes muscular rockers, anthems, and slow-burners.

Appletop are Olivier Cancellieri, Pierre Cristofari and Nicolas Faou.  They formed the band in 2008, and previously have released shorter records and an debut album.  With this album, they demonstrate that the deserve worldwide exposure.  Test out two of the great tracks below.

Brave Mountains is out now via Armellodie Records.

Armellodie Records