Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hideout Block Party & Onion A.V. Fest - Friday Sept 5 and Saturday Sept 6


Summers in Chicago are a gift from the gods. September is the peak month of the season. Temperate weather is ensured by Lake Michigan at its warmest. The days are easy and the nights dreamlike. A jewel on September's crown is the Hideout Block Party: Two Chicago stalwarts, The Hideout and the Onion's A.V. Club, are hosting the block party outside the Hideout for the third straight year. As always the fest will be family friendly and party ready.

You can buy tickets at Block Party Tix. Don't let the handling fee throw a curve at you. A good chunk of it will be going to local charities rather then enriching Ticketmaster. NOLA's Funky Meters, alone, are worth the price of admission. Every other band will be icing on the cake... and a tasty cake it will be.

Friday, September 5:

Death Cab For Cutie
Hamilton Leithauser
The Handsome Family
Bad Luck Jonathan (feat. Jon Langford)

Saturday, September 6:

The War On Drugs
The Dismemberment Plan
funky METERS
Mac DeMarco
Sylvan Esso
Valerie June
Empires
Plastic Crimewave Vision Celestial Guitarkestra


Here's a playlist to give you a sonic taste of what awaits you:




Music fans should not limit their visits to The Hideout to one time a year. The club is one of my favorite venues for one beer or a dose of good music. Checkout the calendar, and put it them on your rotation.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

REVIEW: White Reaper - White Reaper EP


White Reaper is a young group from Louisville, with a sound that should allow these guys to lay claim to a heck of an inheritance. If you've enjoyed indie rock music for a while (I'm old, let's say for a generation or so), you will remember great Louisville artists like Eleventh Dream Day, Rodan and Squirrel Bait... well, that's where these guys come from, both geographically and artistically. And just to keep you from having to go back too far in time, you can put them in your garage punk collection next to Jeff the Brotherhood, Ty Segall and Pujol, to name a few.

Here's "Cool" - hard not to love the retro-garage, almost Munsters feel to the video:





On some of the tracks, "Half Bad" and "She Wants To" for example, it sounds like someone took a Stooges template, cranked up the tempo and used it to build a power-pop soundtrack to a space cartoon:



I'm a little late with this review, but since Polyvinyl is still selling the records, you ought to take this opportunity to listen and learn more. It's only six songs, but every one is noisy, raucous and fun.

White Reaper at Polyvinyl
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"Dreams" from Kick To Kill

Glasgow's Kick to Kill is taking the deliberate approach to building a fan base.  They have been releasing singles from time to time for over a half decade, and waited over a year to follow up their Spring 2013 single "Avalanche" (feature here).  But finally we have "Dreams".  Also released by the Glasgow label Flowers In The Dustbin, the quartet continue to ply a razor sharp brand of post-punk featuring ominous tones, chilly synths and atmospheric production.  I like the track very much, and it reminds me that my only complaint about this band is how little music they produce.

Kick to Kill are Dave Cook (vocals/guitar), Harris Hill (synth), Lewis Macaulay (drums/vocals), and Ewen Shearer (bass).  "Dreams" is available in digital format from the label (see the Bandcamp link below for "Dreams and other KtK releases) and the usual other digital outlets.





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Bandcamp for "Dreams"
Flowers In The Dustbin

REVIEW: Billy Joe Shaver - Long In The Tooth


Billy Joe Shaver is a real treasure, and it's a good thing he keeps promises. Long In The Tooth is his first album in 7 years, and his best, I think, since 2001's The Earth Rolls On. The promise? Well, Shaver released a live album not long ago and appreciated the positive reception so much that he promised his next album would consist of all original songs. Shaver's songwriting is as good as country music gets, so this is a welcome development.

Shaver has often been known by the company he keeps, and this record is no exception: he's got Tony Joe White playing guitar, Leon Russell on piano, and sings a duet with old friend Willie Nelson. True to form, there's a little wink, one of those little turns of phrase that's so wryly true, it makes you wonder why nobody's written it before: "It's hard to be an outlaw/Who ain't wanted anymore":



The title cut is a silly but engaging song, Shaver's self-deprecating country-fried rap about being older and wiser, taking the good with the bad. And there is plenty of humor on the record, but as is usual with Shaver, there's more wisdom and pathos than you will find on country radio in a year's worth of listening. And we'd all be better off listening to Billy Joe Shaver more. He's at home in Nashville as much as Texas, but that's only because he knows the score and is willing to march to his own drummer. Check out "Music City USA":



Shaver calls this his best record ever. I'd say that's downplaying some of his earlier work, but he's right to be excited about how this one turned out. Every song crackles with his outlaw spirit and his ragged but upbeat vocals, the songwriting is some of his best, and the production and sequencing are excellent. Long In The Tooth is out now (Aug. 5) on Lightning Rod Records.

Billy Joe Shaver website
Billy Joe Shaver on Lightning Rod Records

Rolling Stones Friday: Miss You


I am traveling to New York City today so I had to go with one of The Stones' New York City songs. We'll overlook the fact it was recorded in Paris.

So as I touch down at JFK Airport, I give you "Shattered", with its makeshift lyrics (claimed by Jagger to have been written in the back of a New York City cab), punk rock sneer, and falling right in that transition of New York music from disco to rap. Yes kids, the Stones hit all the hot spots of 1977-78. "Shattered" from Some Girls:



My favorite part of the song has always been the rockin' bass line, which I only learned now in researching this entry was played by Ron Wood not Bill Wyman.

Here's an even more sped up and really fine live version from somewhere in Texas in 1978:


And I found a most unusual cover, so surprising I don't want say much so you can just discover it for yourselves:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Bluff" from Babaganouj

I love to suggest bands for you to keep your eye on.  Keep in mind that I make no pretense at accountability.  If you never hear of one of my recommendations again, at least you'll have heard a good song or two.  Not everyone has a career like the Rolling Stones where people pay to see your concerts after you've died ... Oops!  An intern just slipped me a note that the Stones are not, in fact, officially dead yet.  My mistake, but the point is that a band doesn't need to be famous, hooked up with a big label, or in the Hall of Fame to provide some joy for our lives.

With that preliminary business out of the way, I'd like to introduce you to a very promising guitar pop band from Brisbane, Australia.  They call themselves Babaganouj, and consist of two men and two women.  Their sound includes twee elements of classic C86 pop and a good measure of  '90s fuzz, but I hear a bit more sunshine from this band.  They previously have released an EP and a two-track 7", both of which are available to stream at the Bandcamp link below.  This is a convenient time to check out Babaganouj because they have just released "Bluff".  The song builds in a very satisfying fashion, and you may well agree with me that a lament about unrequited love never sounded quite this good before.



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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

REVIEW: The #1s - The #1s

Anyone interested in powerpop with great guitar licks, punk energy and a refreshing dose of brattyness?  Excellent -- a big show of hands!  I am all in for it myself.  And today it comes to us via Dublin's The #1s, who not only have delivered ten well crafted songs, but they have thoughtfully suggested a ranking for themselves in their name and their album title.  Of course, with a name like that one can't help but wonder whether they can live up to it.  After listening to The #1s a number of times over the last couple of weeks I will assure you that it lives up to my high standards.  The songs are fluid, with catchy hooks, plenty of bounce and lyrics that include the touchstones of quality writing from young songwriters: Humor; sentimentality; lust; and bravado.

You'll hear a bit of the Buzzcocks, The Undertones and The Exploding Hearts.  But to my ears The #1s seem more devoted to melody than those bands.  The result is songs that you are quite willing to play over and over as the hooks sink deeper into your brain.  The first four tracks all hit hard and fast, including single "Heartsmash" (stream below), but the boys show the ability to deliver a convincing slow song with "Girl", in the number five spot.  Then we are off to the races again with standout track "Sharon Shouldn't", and there is nothing close to a rest stop until the mid-tempo closer "Tell Me Why".  You likely will find yourself energized, alert, perhaps with an elevated heartbeat.  This is normal; you now have The #1s fever.  Get a drink of water, wipe your brow, and press repeat.  This one isn't leaving your player for a long time.





The #1s are Conor Lumsden (drums), Cian Nugent (bass), Eddie Kenrick (guitar) and Sean Goucher (guitar).  While they also play in other bands, I've grown fond of this one so I hope it continues to be a priority.

The #1s is released by Deranged Records.

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Preview: "Bitter Tears Revisited" (various artists)

Cover of original 1964 Johnny Cash album

We are waiting anxiously for the August 19 release of Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited, a re-creation of Johnny Cash's classic 1964 album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, Mr. Cash' compelling and unflinching look at the history of Native Americans in the United States. 

While we count the days, Sony posted an audio of the opening track from the record, "As Long As The Grass Shall Grow" by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Link here.  

If it's all this good, we're in for quite a treat, and given that the project was overseen and produced by Joe Henry, we have every reason to believe it will be.

Here's the track and artist listing:

1. As Long as the Grass Shall Grow Gillian Welch;David Rawlings
2. Apache Tears Emmylou Harris; The Milk Carton Kids
3. Custer Steve Earle; The Milk Carton Kids
4. The Talking Leaves Nancy Blake; Emmylou Harris; Gillian Welch; The Milk Carton Kids
5. The Ballad of Ira Hayes Kris Kristofferson; Gillian Welch; David Rawlings
6. Drums     Norman Blake; Gillian Welch; David Rawlings; Nancy Blake; Emmylou Harris
7. Apache Tears (Reprise) Gillian Welch; David Rawlings
8. White Girl The Milk Carton Kids
9. The Vanishing Race Rhiannon Giddens; Gillian Welch; David Rawlings
10. As Long as the Grass Shall Grow (Reprise) Gillian Welch; David Rawlings; Nancy Blake
11. Look Again to the Wind Bill Miller


Pre-order here at Amazon or iTunes

Update: Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas


Quick update:
USA Today posted an audio of "Sorry I Stole Your Man" from Secret Evil, a song we highlighted in our recent review.
Great song, well worth a listen. See the updated review here with link to the new audio.
Simple fact here: More available Jessica Hernandez music is better.
Pre-Order that CD and thank me later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

REVIEW: David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights - End Times Undone


End Times Undone is the new album by The Clean co-founder David Kilgour & the Heavy Eights. We've gone on endless rants here at WYMA about Kilgour, his band, his guitar sound, The Clean and the Dunedin Sound. Merge Records released The Clean's Anthology recently (more about that soon from us at WYMA), and on the heels of that stellar collection comes a new release from Kilgour's current band. End Times Undone is certainly connected to the Clean's sound - how could it be otherwise? - but it carries its own set of joys even beyond that wonderful, hypnotic sound. As on the previous albums, The Heavy Eights are Taane Tokona on drums, Tony de Raad on guitar and keyboards, and Thomas Bell on bass and keyboards. David plays guitar and keyboards.

We've previously shared "Comin' On":





The album opener “Like Rain” is equal parts psych and jangle, as has been the case with the best of Kilgour's music. He's a visual artist as well, and to anyone who becomes immersed in the chromatic sound of this music, that won't be a surprise. Like his music, his art combines elements of the overwhelming beauty and mystery of the world, with the result that you are overwhelmed but completely unable to pull away. I'm speaking for myself, of course. Kilgour albums get stuck in the stereo, in the best way possible.

“Christopher Columbus”, another track we featured about a year ago when we first heard about the plans for this album, is perhaps the highlight of the album. It certainly features the best guitar playing on the record - a few country-sounding licks, plenty of subtle interplay between Kilgour and de Raad.



I think the best things about Kilgour's work are the melodies and the subtle changes. Neither are easy to do well, and in fact, Kilgour doesn't claim to have figured this out. He credits his muse - in fact, explicitly in the song "Comin' On", calling himself a "pagan punk hippie". And on this album, perhaps a little bit more than on previous ones, the punk influence is apparent in the noise level and barely-controlled chaos of songs like "Crow" and "Down the Tubes". But always, this music comes back to melody - and few do that better than Kilgour.

If you'd like to listen before you buy, check out the stream and a nice short interview with Kilgour at Wondering Sound.

David Kilgour website
End Times Undone at Merge Records

Introducing: Aldous Harding

I expect that not many outside of New Zealand have heard of Aldous Harding, the recording/performing name of Hanna Claynails Harding, or of Lyttelton Records, the label that released her recent debut LP Stop Your Tears.  But if "Hunter" is an example of Harding's art, the anonymity is a greater loss to the world than it is to the artist or label.  The daughter of two musicians, young Hannah was discovered by New Zealand country artists Ben and Delaney Davidson, and also received assistance from Anika Moa.  Harding tells gothic stories as folk songs.  Harding's stories are captivating, but I think the real star is her vocals -- well measured, mature and with the perfect emotional tones.  She can deliver a multi-textured musical experience with only her voice and acoustic guitar.  Further adorned with a fiddle and other instruments, and you have magic.  Let the haunting video for album track "Hunter" be your introduction to Aldous Harding, and then be on the lookout for more.






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Lyttelton Records page for album

Monday, August 4, 2014

"If You Let Me Hold You" from The Solicitors

The Solicitors are the sound of the modern mods.  What does that mean?  It means that you'll hear influences of The Jam, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson.  But this Melbourne-based international collective isn't aiming for pastiche.  This just that their version of today's guitar pop includes an emphasis on infectious rhythms equal to a buzzing guitar and clever lyrics.  Their releases to date have earned them praise (including on these pages) and a following.  And I think they'll be a lot bigger by the end of the year, because their debut album will be released in October via Popboomerang Records.  You can sample the upcoming LP via album track "If You Let Me Hold You".



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"Let You In" from Terry Malts; new EP in September

If there is a reason to not herald a new release from the Bay Area's garage/powerpopers Terry Malts, I haven't heard it yet.  In fact, if someone asked me whether I thought the new Terry Malts release was any good, I think I'd answer "yes" even if I hadn't heard it.  And I wouldn't be worried in the least that I could be wrong.  So, I am happy to write that the band is releasing the Insides EP via Slumberland in September.  For now, I'll tell you that it is very good.  I'll have a bit more to write when I actually hear it, but for now, just know that it is good.

In all honesty, I can also tell you that the EP will be released in digital and vinyl formats, and that band will be on a mini-West Coast tour later this month with dates in Washington, Oregon California.  I can also share with you a little more evidence as to its quality: The EP track "Let You In".



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"My Only Friend" from Bad//Dreems

I find the music of Adelaide's Bad//Dreems to be thoroughly engaging.  It is melodic, unpretentious, aggressively energetic and a bit beer-soaked and sweat-stained (At least some of that reminds me of my undergraduate days, which is fine because the statute of limitations has run on all of that).  In September and October the band is playing dates in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide before traveling to the United States in October to preform at CMJ in New York and Culture Collide LA in California.  In advance of that adventure, they have released "My Only Friend" via Ivy League Records.  With hints of the brand of guitar pop for which their New Zealand neighbors are justifiably famous, the track is a fine introduction to the joys of Bad//Dreems.

Bad/Dreems are Ben Marwe (vocals, guitar), Alex Cameron (guitar), James Bartold (bass) and Miles Wilson (drums).





Bad//Dreems previously released their Badlands EP on Mirador Records.  To help you evaluate the band, I've provided three of the tracks below.  "Too Old" includes some footage of that gentle brand of Australian football.






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Sunday, August 3, 2014

"New Born" by Sounds of Sputnik (Featuring Ummagma)


Here's something new and different, but pleasingly familiar: Moscow-based shoegaze artist Roma Kalitkin, recording as Sounds of Sputnik, featuring a lush, full, guitar and keyboard-based sound. They call to mind influences like Mogwai and Twilight Sad, but claim inspiration in a more shoegaze sound (Swervedriver, Slowdive, etc). The female lead vocals are purposely ethereal and somewhat majestic, too. I'll let you listen and work it all out, as they have entrusted WYMA with the premiere of the streaming advance track, "New Born":





As well, here's another track - kind of returning the favor, a reworking by Sounds of Sputnik of Ummagma's "Lama":



It's a small world, indeed. This is in advance of a full album due out later in August - for more details, see the sites below:

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