Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Running Wild" from La Sera, free download

Katy Goodman, aka La Sera, will release her third album on May 13 via Hardly Art.  Our second hint of what to expect on  Hour of the Dawn arrives via "Running Wild".  A racing 3 minutes of poppy garage punk, it is a very good song, and it is a free download!   I'm looking forward to the album.

Hardly Art page for La Sera

Review: Flor

Somewhere I have a cassette Revisioni released in 1993 by the Italian band Flor de Mal, which came to my attention because Natalie Merchant and Peter Buck played on it. Flor de Mal opened for R.E.M. and Radiohead at a stadium show held in their home city of Catania in 1995.

I haven't thought about them in a long time, though Revisioni was terrific. Bur after nearly a 20 year break, the band, shortening its name to Flor, has released a new self-titled LP on The Prisoner Records.

The single "Li Per Me" is fantastic, the sort of jangly rock that this blog and its readers favor whether from New Zealand, Scotland or in this case Sicily:

Flor is a trio - singer-songwriter-guitarist Marcello Cunsolo, Enzo Ruggiero on bass, and drummer Paolo Santagati.

You can listen to the entire LP here:

We are glad they are back.

The Prisoner Records. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Record Store Day pick #4: Tayla Lynn - Coal Dust 7"

So far my Record Store Day picks include a golden piece of Dunedin history (here), a wonderful fuzz pop collaboration (here) and a tasty chunk of alt rock (here).  And now we have my country pick -- Coal Dust, a 7" vinyl EP from Tayla Lynn.  This is just the sort of release that Record Store Day should present to music fans: Emerging talent; excellent songs and appealing packaging in a limited run.  The three tracks include "Coal Dust", a duet of "Honkey Tonk Girl" and an alternative version of "Coal Dust".  The title track is an heartfelt tale of growing up in the Lynn family.  It is a beautiful song, and worthy of leading off any record.  But with its acoustic arrangement and Gospel touches, the alternate version of "Coal Dust" currently is my favorite on the EP.  However, there is no denying the duet is about as special a song as you'll find on Record Store Day, as Tayla is joined by her Grandmother, Loretta Lynn, on an energetic version of one of Loretta's iconic songs.

Here is a recent live performance of "Coal Dust" --

Nashville fans should take note that Tayla will perform on April 19 at Ernest Tubb's Record Shop in Nashville (1 pm).

Tayla Lynn formerly was a member of Stealing Angels.  She is based in Seattle, and recently signed to Nashville's Victor House Records.  A six song EP is planned for this summer.

Victor House Records - Facebook

Record Store Day Pick #3: "Porcupine - I See Sound EP

I grew up in the Midwest, and sometimes nothing fits the mood like Midwest-style rock and roll.  What, exactly, does that mean?  It means rock with chunky chords, muscular rhythms and lead guitar runs that offer no apologies, played on a template of bar band rock and roll and blues rock that makes anyone from the '70s think the world hasn't totally passed them by.  And it isn't just throwback nostalgia -- you heard it in Swervedriver and Queens of the Stone Age as well.  I've found that when people refer to "rock", this is exactly what they mean.

But who does that anymore?  Well, for one, La Crosse, Wisconsin's Porcupine.  John and I have both featured this band several times before.  They are back again with a limited vinyl/digital Record Store Day release via Riot House Records.  It consists of six tracks of the music that satisfies your urge for full-blooded rock, with hints of British Invasion and psychedelia.  This trio writes good songs any executes them to perfection.  Casey Virock (guitar, vocals), Dave Reinders (bass, vocals), and Ian Prince (drums) don't aim for what is fashionable, they aim for what they know they like.  And they have been building a fan base doing just that, so there seem to be a lot of music fans that like it as well.  If you want rock on Record Store Day, think Porcupine.

Here is the link for digital pre-order, and here is the link for vinyl pre-order.

Riot House Records

NEW SONGS: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires - "The Weeds Downtown" and "The Company Man"

It's fitting to share this newest track from Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires on a Rolling Stones Friday, as I find more than a trace of "Rocks Off" in it. Lee may be the most compelling front man in rock music today... we've certainly been on board with them since their first track came across our transom back in 2012. Sub Pop did a smart thing, because The Glory Fires have the potential to be the kind of "niche/mass appeal" band that label has served well in the past. The punk attitude and the classic rock riffs would (well, usually do) sound stiff or hackneyed in others' hands. Here, they're just evidence of the, well, glory of Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires.

The album is entitled Dereconstructed. Like WYMA favorites R.E.M., these guys are showing their Southern roots, and their erudition, right up front, and holding them up for examination... with a healthy helping of junkyard outsider art on the cover.

Here's "The Company Man" - revealed last month via YouTube:

The album's out May 27, but you can pre-order now via Sub Pop and get some goodies.

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires Website
LB3 at Sub Pop

Rolling Stones Friday: Sympathy For the Devil

This one is especially for our many Catholic readers on Good Friday -- "Sympathy for the Devil", the Stones compelling hypnotic samba, looking at history through Lucifer's eyes, referencing Christ's crucifixion ("Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate").

The lead track on Beggars Banquet (1969), "Sympathy for the Devil" represents a high water mark for the Stones in terms of both bold creativity and sheer musical power. The song was reportedly written by Mick Jagger.

In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Jagger said, "I think [Sympathy] was taken from an old idea of Baudelaire's, I think, but I could be wrong. Sometimes when I look at my Baudelaire books, I can't see it in there. But it was an idea I got from French writing. And I just took a couple of lines and expanded on it. I wrote it as sort of like a Bob Dylan song."    

The song has so many memorable elements, notably the "woo-woo" background vocals (reportedly belonging to Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, and producer Jimmy Miller), Nicky Hopkins' rhythmic piano, the Latin jazz drums of Charlie Watts, and the congas (Rocky Dijon) and maracas (Bill Wyman). Inspired musicality in all regards.

Here's the studio version:

There are a great many live versions out there, notably the footage from the tragic concert in 1969 at the Altamont Speedway in California, but the best performance I came across was this one, recorded in 1969 in London's Hyde Park, Mick Taylor by then with the band:

Thanks to Frank Fahey for suggesting this song on this day. We're always open to your requests and suggestions for Rolling Stones Friday. We still have 36 weeks and thus 36 Stones songs to feature here at WYMA in 2014.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New French Garage Psych Discovery: Les Rivals - Les Rivals

Les Rivals are a French garage rock outfit playing in a style that incorporates a 60's proto-punk approach with an intriguing 70's British punk influence. Like some of the other acts we've seen from Casbah Records (Mesa Cosa, Future Primitives, Owen Temple Quartet), they are proud of their raw, unfiltered attack, and rightly so. But there's more to the record - the 11 tracks here feature some variety, leavening the minimalist approach with touches like the reverb-laden twelve-string guitar on “Halfway There”, the sitar on “Take Me For A Ride”, and even oboe and harpsichord on “The Park”. "Falling From The Shelter" just swings, with keyboards and guitar jangle right up front.

Here is "Glory Days" - shades of Ian Dury and other classic 70's/80's British punk, delivered by what sounds for all the world like a Guy Ritchie character:

And here is "Police Station" - expansive, psychedelic and snotty, a great mix of punk and 60's garage rock:

This is out now, released in March on Casbah Records. We've learned to pay attention when we get something from these folks, and you should too.

Les Rivals at Casbah Records
Les Rivals Bandcamp Page

Baggy Attitude 7" Flexi Disc - Record Store Day pick #2

This two-track release from Baggy Attitude is my second Record Store Day pick.  I admit that technically this isn't even a Record Store Day release, but I'm not big on following rules.  It is limited and hard to find, we are close to Record Store Day, and I think it is very good.  That is enough for me.

Baggy Attitude are Roxanne Clifford from the brilliant UK group Veronica Falls and Jess Scott from the wonderful San Francisco band Brilliant Colors.  The songs are covers of "Don't Ask Me" and "Swimming Pool", which were penned by Chris Knox of Dunedin, New Zealand legends Tall Dwarfs and Toy Love.  The release is a 7" flexi put out by Wacky Wacko.  By the way, I can't take any great credit for discovering this release, as I found it mentioned in this indie music blog from New Zealand:  Pop Lib blog.  The man knows what he is talking about.

Wacky Wacko

Witching Waves - Concrete single

London duo Emma Wigham and Mark Jasper are Witching Waves, a garage band that has an unbridled, exciting sound.  The duo take turns on the guitar and drum kit, and they both sing.  The Concrete single featured here is a two-track cassette to be released in a super limited run of 100 tapes by our friends at Soft Power Records.  The title track is a straight ahead lo-fi garage rocker with jangling, scratching guitar, a steady beat and male/female vocals.  It isn't happy, but it is very captivating.  The second track, "Chain of Command", begins sweet and then explodes with pounding drums and snarling guitar.

Yes, just two tracks and fewer than eight minutes.  But it is enough to conclude that this is a band to watch.  And I think that another release for Soft Power is planned for later this year, so you won't have to yearn long.   But back to the present -- with only 100 copies available, you may want to jump on this one at the pre-order stage rather than wait for the April 21 release.

Witching Waves on Tumblr
Witching Waves on Soundcloud
Soft Power Records' Bandcamp page for release
Soft Power Records Website

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

REVIEW: Musi-O-Tunya - Give Love To Your Children

Give Love to Your Children is an amazing record, a medley of sweet soul, Afrobeat, funk and pure psychedelia (with some amazing, truly breathtaking fuzzy lead electric guitar). Musi-O-Tunya was a groundbreaking band at the forefront of a thriving mid-70's rock scene in Zambia, featuring artists who would go on to have very successful solo careers. Rikki Ililonga is a Zamrock superstar, as were fellow group members drummer Brian Chengala and guitarist Wayne Barnes.

Give Love To Your Children was their last album (and this package also features a few out-of-print singles to complete the story). In this fantastic record, you can hear the influences of Fela, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Cream - a host of soul and psychedelic rock influences, and on tracks like "When I'm Gone" and "Njala" they are particularly well-synthesized. The guitar work on "Sunkha" is sprawling, and along with a great horn section, makes an unforgettable noise. "Starving Child" features another great horn section, gentle rhythms, slightly more understated guitar and a suitably mournful vocal - it's impeccable, really.

Now-Again is known for the quality of its reissues, and this set from 1976 is certainly emblematic. As a taste, here is a free download of "When I'm Gone".

You can learn more and buy at Now-Again Records. The initial pressing is sold out, but the music is still available, as are other Zamrock reissues... and I'll try to be more timely in the future.

REVIEW: Chet Faker - Built on Glass

This sort of masterfully assured combination of R&B, electronics and chillwave is to be hoped for from the top producers and singers working Berlin, London and New York, and poorly imitated by the rest.  Except for the untidy fact that this Built on Glass is the debut album from Melbourne singer and producer Nick Murphy, working as Chet Faker.  The melding of components is not only seamless, but complimentary.  This is an electronic album that manages to be rich, warm, and captivating without resort to any gimmicks.  It is soulful and smooth, but with some interesting touches bubbling along just below the surface.  Try the "Talk Is Cheap", "Melt" and "1998" below to get a taste of the range on this album.  The first two are in the R&B camp, but "1998" stretches a bit further and hints as additional heights to be accomplished in the future.

Chet Faker has a high profile in Australia, built on a single previous EP and his live shows, so I wouldn't be surprised to read some skepticism regarding his ability to rise to the advance hype. Of course, that is an opinion that you can and will make on your own, but I find this to be one of the more satisfying electronic albums I've heard since Jon Hopkins' Immunity last year.  And if you want to experience Chet Faker live and you are in North America, I've provided the upcoming dates at the bottom of the post.

I'm at the point of my life when planning seductions isn't part of the schedule (it isn't that I'm unromantic -- it's just that world famous music writers don't have to seduce, we get seduced), but in listening to this album it occurs to me that this album would be the right choice for an intimate dinner of my specially prepared "catch a girl fish").


Currently Scheduled North American Tour Dates:
May 13 Brooklyn, NY - Output
May 14 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
May 15 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
May 16 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
May 17 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
May 19 Toronto, ON – The Hoxton
May 20 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
May 22 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
May 23 Vancouver, BC – Fortune Sound Club
May 24 George, WA – Sasquatch Festival, George Amphitheatre
May 26 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
May 27 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
May 29 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
May 30 San Diego, CA – Casbah
May 31 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
Jun 01 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
Jun 03 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
Jun 04 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
Jun 06 Dallas, TX – Club Dada
Jun 07 Austin, TX – The Parish

"Minha Menina" from Donovan Blanc; free download

This post offers you a free song, but also serves as a teaser for the debut album from Donovan Blanc, which will be released via Captured Tracks on June 24.  While the New Jersey band is new to us, its members are not.  Joseph Black and Raymond Schwab previously were in Honeydrum, a band which featured numerous times on these pages over the years.  The song is "Minha Menina" (trans: "My Girl"), and is a track from the upcoming album.  With soft vocals, jangling guitars and a nice melody, I think it suggests very good things for the upcoming album.  The vibe is relaxed, but not languid, and hints of Brazilian influences.  While it shares the attention to detail that marked Honeydrum's work, the sound is cleaner.   Stream it or watch the video below. The Soundcloud link has a download button.


NEW SONG: Centro-matic - "Salty Disciple"

This qualifies as the best music news of the week for me: a new track from Centro-matic is always cause for celebration. "Salty Disciple" is a long track with a few changes, and like Centro-matic's last album, 2011's universally WYMA-acclaimed Candidate Waltz, it contains some new sounds - a bracing keyboard fanfare right at the beginning, some growling guitar, and a sort of sly, understated, in places spoken vocal approach. Like so many of my favorite Centro-matic tracks, it starts off with a good Matt Pence drum intro and fills out into a terrific chorus. Yeah, it's a familiar musical formula, but there aren't too many artists doing the chorus better than these guys.

Lyrical snippet for reflection: "Maybe you were just plucking it out of books and not living it..."

The album, titled Take Pride In Your Long Odds, will be out June 3. I can't wait.

By the way, they'll also be releasing a double vinyl version of Redo The Stacks at the same time, but will have 30 copies available for RSD in Austin, and online beginning next week. Check the website to learn more.

Centro-matic website

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REVIEW: Omi Palone - Omi Palone

Well, the self-titled debut LP from Omi Palone is an absolutely wonderful surprise, akin to discovering a lost set of tapes from an '80s recording session on New Zealand's south island with added hints of early R.E.M.  A baritone lead vocal with others singing in unison, a distinctive bass line and upfront drums adding a steely backbone for the twanging, jangling guitars and robust chords.  The music is melodic, enveloping.  The lyrics are pointed, intimate, concise, and the writer shows no fear of dark places or difficult themes.  The vibe is relaxed and confident, if a bit moody, but the band is tight.  There is a punk energy and pace underneath the jangling guitars.

There is no filler in this eight song sets, and I'd be hard pressed to find a favorite.  While I was listening to the album and writing this post I hit the repeat button several times for "Void", which sounds like it came from The Bats' Daddy's Highway and the energetic closer "Sleepwalk".  But I'd be happy to have any of the songs showcase the record.  This may be the coolest little album you'll hear this spring.

Omi Palone is Philip, Simon, Liam and Jack, and they are based in London.  Prior to this album they released a cassette and two split 7" records.  Omi Palone is a joint release by Faux Discx and Negative Space, and is available now.  There are limited vinyl LPs and digital downloads.

Faux Discx
Negative Space Records

Record Store Day: The Minus 5 "Scott The Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror"

Record Day should be a national holiday. Though at least it's on a Saturday. And it is this Saturday.
Certainly the grandest Record Day release that I've heard about is The Minus 5's 5 LP box set entitled Scott the Hoople in The Dungeon Of Horror. That's all new material mind you, and all vinyl, in fact colored vinyl.  55 songs, 5 LPs, The Minus 5 - capiche?

Look here comes one now - "All The Trouble I've Made":

The Scott in question here is Minus 5 ringleader Scott McCaughey (The Baseball Project, Young Fresh Fellows, R.E.M.). The dungeon in question is apparently the home studio in McCaughey's basement where for the past two years, he's been bringing in band members (including Peter Buck) and various visiting musicians to record a new song or three. The Hoople in question is of course Mott the Hoople,  who are one of the The Minus 5's inspirations.

One more: "Adios Half Soldier":

It being Scott McCaughey, we can expect smart songwriting, elements of garage/jangle rock/punk/British invasion, with keen wit and superior rock'n'roll playing from the likes of Peter Buck, Steve Wynn, many of The Decemberists, and various Portland and Seattle all stars.

We'll close with an especially great one from Scott The Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror, "Blue Rickenbacker Guitar", done live at this year's SXSW, with the sublime Ms. Linda Pitmon on drums:

Yep Roc Records - release info
Facebook - The Minus 5

Monday, April 14, 2014

REVIEW: Doug Gillard - Parade On

Doug Gillard's latest work, Parade On, is a solo album, and when he says "solo" he means it. Apparently he created almost every sound on this record. He's played on a dizzying number of projects, always bringing guitar wizardry and a terrific melodic sense. This album is a logical step in his musical development, featuring as it does a wide variety of classic rock and postpunk sounds - not unexpected given his work in Lifeguards with Robert Pollard. Gillard has an easy way with the vocals here - nothing too grandiose, no fake British accent, just some engaging harmonies.

"Ready For Death", the opener, is upbeat and kind of Beatlesque - you could almost overdose on the jangle (in a good way):

Not to overdo the GbV connection, I think it's worth noting that Gillard spends plenty of time in all four P's, the most prominent being prog. But there's an underlying pop sense (a terrific one, really), plenty of psych and some punk elements - like his longtime playing and writing partner in Lifeguards and on the great Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department, Gillard serves all four major rock food groups to great effect.

Check out the prog/punk stylings of "Angel X". This video is from our friends at BreakThru Radio and if you stick around through the end of "Angel X" you will see some world-class Gillard shredding and a bit of the title track, performed live in studio:

In a similar vein are the longer tracks "Come Out And Show Me" and "Overseas", which also serve the purpose of giving Gillard plenty of room to stretch out and show off his guitar chops. And for fans of his expansive, varied work, that's going to be the highlight of Parade On, and is the main reason this one is not to be missed.

Parade On was recorded in New York City and Austin, TX, with Gillard playing every instrument except drums, which were played by George Duron and Travis Harrison, who also did some of the engineering. The album is out now (released 4/8).

Doug Gillard website

"Flesh War" from Total Control

Melbourne's Total Control is Mikey Young (of Eddy Current Suppression Ring, among other projects) and Dan Stewart (of UV Race).  "Flesh War" is the first release from their second album, Typical System, which will be released on June 20.  Fans of the band, myself included, have been eagerly awaiting the album.  Moving the perimeter of their music outside the punk orientation of some of their other projects, Total Control shapes a synth, post-punk and gloom sound that sounds pretty refreshing to my ears despite some echoes of the '80s.  Check out "Flesh Wars" and mark your calendars.

Tpyical System will be released outside of Australia/New Zealand by Iron Lung Records on June 24, and self-released in Australia/New Zealand on June 20.

Bandcamp (for certain previous releases)
Iron Lung Records
Iron Lung Record's blog

Record Store Day Pick: Dunedin Double

This week I'm going to highlight a few of the Record Store Day releases that I think are especially worthy of your consideration.  This is pick number one, and it is one of the easiest decisions I've made for this Blog.  Over the years numerous music writers from many countries have referred to the "Dunedin sound" and the influence certain Dunedin, New Zealand bands in the '80s have had over guitar pop globally.  Dunedin Double was one of the ignition points for this reputation.  Long unavailable, the Flying Nun label is repressing a limited edition vinyl the album for Record Store Day 2014 (April 19, for those of you who use calendars).

Over thirty years ago four Dunedin bands each recorded a side of a 12" for inclusion in a double EP to be released by Flying Nun (a fledgling Christchurch label founded by Roger Shepard).  The album wasn't assigned an official name, but it became known as Dunedin Double.  Reportedly, the tracks were recorded on a portable four-track in various apartments over two weekends.  The recording was lo-fi and DIY, but the music was vital and exciting.  It was the sound of young musicians with songs, intent and a naive confidence.  It was the essential sound of rock and roll.  The bands were The Chills, Sneaky Feelings, The Stones, and The Verlaines, each supplying three tracks except for the overachieving The Stones, which provided four.  While through the years both The Chills and The Verlaines became much better known than the other two bands, all of the contributions to this record are worthy.  And the case can be made that the songs from Sneaky Feelings and The Stones are to be prized especially because their works are harder to come by at this point.

The lead track of the A-side for EP 1 was "Kaleidoscope World", from Martin Phillipps' The Chills.  It is one of their better know songs, and one of my favorites from their catalog.  But tracks two and three, "Satin Doll" and "Frantic Drift" are sublime, demonstrating that this band is Exhibit A for chiming guitar pop.  I wanted to present videos of one or more of these songs, but Universal Music Group (which seems to universally hate enjoyment of music) has been disabling embeds of YouTube clips of The Chills' songs (heaven forbid that I write a post encouraging you to enjoy an artist with material to which UMG claims to have rights -- what the hell was I thinking?  And the dirty secret is that UMG very often doesn't even have the rights to the videos they prevent form being embedded).

 Sneaky Feelings, formed in 1980, was named after the Elvis Costello song.  At the time of this recording, the members were Matthew Bannister, David Pine, Kathryn Tyrie and Martin Durrant.  The band's scruffy charm is on display in "Pity's Sake", the first track of the B-side of EP 1 --

The Stones occupied the A-side of EP 2.  Their songs were, perhaps the most free-wheeling rock songs on the double EP.  I've provided more than two of the four, because their songs are hard to find, and this post will provide you comfort until your copy of Dunedin Double arrives.  The band's members were Wayne Elsey, Jeff Batts, and Graeme Anderson.

The Verlaines also get two songs here.  Why?  Well, their songs are that good.  Second, unlike The Chills, Universal Music Group (which seems to universally hate enjoyment of music) isn't disabling clips of The Verlaines' songs.

Dunedin Double is remastered, and is being released in its original format and limited to 2,000 copies.  I suggest that this is an album to covet, and if you wait, you may never have a copy.  I've provided links for Flying Nun and their US partner, Captured Tracks in Brooklyn.  You may be able to order from them, you may have to go to a record store.  Indeed, you may have to work for this one.  Sometimes things of value are like that.

Flying Nun
Captured Tracks