Saturday, August 30, 2014

The June Brides - She Seems Quite Free 7"

The June Brides are justifiably well-loved as one of the edgier C86-era jangle bands of the mid-80s, earning respect from fans, critics and peers.  But after an album and several singles and EPs, the group disbanded.  Frontman Phil Wilson released some solo material, and then withdrew from recording and performing for a couple of decades.  He returned to music in fine form in 2008 with the excellent LP for Slumberland, God Bless Jim Kennedy. The path has come full circle, and Phil and his recent collaborators Steve Beswick and Arash Torabi have now been joined by Phil's previous bandmates Simon Beesley, Frank Sweeney and Jon Hunter.  So, The June Brides ride again.  The reformed and rejuvenated Brides are now releasing the three-track single She Seems Quite Free.  The record consists of "Being There" and "She Seems Quite Free", both of which were written by Phil Wilson, and Simon Beesley's "I'm Undone".  Amazingly, they haven't lost a thing.  All three tracks are well written and the performances are excellent.  I suppose it could be helpful if I could choose a favorite, but I can't.  From the wistful jangle pop of the opener to the taut title track to the chugging melancholy of the closing song, I'd judge this to be a triple A-side single.  It seems to me that the pros are back in town.

She Seems Quite Free is available in North America from Slumberland, and in the UK/Europe from Occultation, see the links below.  The record is a digital download, but vinyl will be available as well and can be pre-ordered.

Slumberland Records page for EP
Occultation Records page for EP

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Stevens are touring the US

One of my favorite bands to emerge from Melbourne in the past couple of years is The Stevens.  Their debut LP, The History of Hygiene (review here), was released by Chapter Music and in my opinion should be in the collection of all guitar pop fans, but especially fans of Guided By Voices.  The band commences a US tour next week, so stateside fans have the opportunity to experience The Stevens in the flesh.  To help prompt music lovers to leave their couches and shuffle to the venue and drink beer while listening to Australian rockers, they have released an newly recorded song, "Thirsty Eye".  Their debut EP also is being released in North America by Kingfisher Records.

I nearly didn't publicize this tour after looking at the dates and venues and learning that my house didn't make the cut.  But more dates may be added, so I'l be a good soldier and, well, who knows?  Here are the dates, venues and other acts as of this week:

9/4 LA @ Los Globos w/ The Memories
9/6 SF @Hemlock w/ Scott & Charlene's Wedding
9/10 NY @ Cake Shop w/ Free Time, Ballroom
9/11 Brooklyn @ Baby's All Right w/ Ducktails
9/14 Brooklyn @ Death By Audio w/ Rat Columns
9/16 Baltimore @ The Crown
9/17 Cleveland @ Happy Dog w/ S&C Wedding
9/18 Detroit @ Garden Bowl
9/19 Lexington @ TBD w/ Rat Columns
9/20 Columbus@Double Happiness w/Connections
9/22 Chicago @ The Owl
9/23 Milwaukee @ Linnemans Inn
9/24 Minneapolis @ Hexagon w/ Naomi Punk
9/27 Memphis @ Goner Fest
10/3 Austin @ Hotel Vegas


"Jamais Vu" from The History of Apple Pie

As the release date for Feel Something, the sophomore album from The History of Apple Pie inches closer, the London band has provided another single.  "Jamais Vu" reminds us of what THOAP does so well, Steph Min's sugar-drenched vocals floating over focused guitar blasts.

THOAP is Sephanie Min (vocals), Jerome Watson (guitar), James Thomas (drums), Aslam Ghauri (guitar) and Joanna Curwood (bass).

Marshall Teller Records

Rolling Stones Friday: Dancing With Mr. D

Keith Richards once remarked that the Rolling Stones went to Jamaica in November 1972 to record Goats Head Soup because it was the only country that would let him in. The resulting record was far more laid back than its predecessor Exile on Main St

One of my favorites is the lead track, the dark and brooding "Dancing With Mr. D". I love the slow burn and groove of this one, fitting well with the death imagery:    

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Psychotropic" from Los Tones

One of our favorite psychedelic garage rock bands, Sydney, Australia's Los Tones, have laid another delicious tracks on our grateful ears.  "Psychotropic" as a swampy swing, a rock attitude and plenty of ragged edges found in the best tunes from the garage.  The song is taken from their debut album, which will be out in October.  If you can't wait, the single can be purchases at the Bandcamp link below.  Great stuff -- play it loud and proud!


Preview: Bumbershoot, Seattle, Aug 30 - Sept 1

The Replacements, 2013

It's not too late to get yourself to Seattle this weekend for one of year's most enjoyable festivals, Bumbershoot, now in its 31st year. It's held in the heart of that scenic and great city on the grounds of the 1962 World's Fair. There's an unusually wide variety of music, comedy (Eugene Mirman!), authors, and visual art, and even a family friendly series of offerings ("Youngershoot").

I'm heading up there Sunday for the privilege of seeing The Replacements (photo above) and an all star tribute to Big Star featuring original drummer Jody Stephens, performing the band's classic record Third / Sister Lovers  with Mike Mills, Ken Stringfellow, Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey, various other musicians of note and a 12 piece orchestra.

Festival headliners include Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Costello, Foster the People, Panic! At The Disco, and The Head and the Heart.

We'll report back on what we see up there, especially how the mighty Replacements, or what's left of them, performed.

Many bands we've covered here at WYMA will play at Bumbershoot, including Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, Red Fang, Los Lobos, Polica, Pickwick, and Lonely Forest.

Everything you need to know about Bumbershoot, from lineups for how to get tickets is at their web page:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

REVIEW: The Griswolds - Be Impressive

Be Impressive from The Griswolds is one of those albums that seems to have the ambition to live up to its name.  It has accessible melodies, big hooks, engaging choruses that invite you to sing along, solid rhythms with a touch of the tropical and tendency to provoke dancing, and energy to spare.  So, you ask, should I like it?  For my money, the answer is yes.  This is pop/rock that always has a place at the table.  Music doesn't need to have an edge, or a controversial point of view.  It can just be fun for those many, many listeners who want fun.  And Be Impressive is packed with an impressive amount of fun.  But more importantly, this debut album from four young Australians is about as smart and sharp as pop music can be.  And one of the many things I love about it is that you don't need huge studio budgets and teams of guest musician, hired hook specialists and beat producers to create music that you really, really want to hear when you turn on the radio or que up a playlist.

If you haven't heard The Griswolds, you might be inclined to think I'm overstating their case, so I invite you to take them for a test listen with their hit single from the album, "Beware the Dog".

The Griswolds seem to be on the right track for a long stay on the music scene, and they even have an appropriately named track to celebrate it.

The Griswolds are Christopher Whitehall (vocals/guitar), Daniel Duque-Perez (lead guitar), Tim John (bass) and Lachlan West (drums).  Be Impressive is out now via Wind Up Records

By the way, The Griswolds are in the United States now and you may be able to feed off of their energy at one of the remaining tour dates:
8/28 -- Albany, NY -- Hollow
8/29 -- Burlington, NY -- Higher Ground
8/30 -- Rochester, NY -- Montage Music Hall
9/3 -- Lansing, MI -- The Loft
9/5 -- Kansas City, KS -- Sporting Park
9/6 -- Tulsa, OK -- The Vanguard
The band will then resume touring in Australia.

Wind Up Records

Monday, August 25, 2014

"14 Years Young" from Food Court (free download)

When bands announce an upcoming record, you can be sure that they hope you remember.  Otherwise there wouldn't be any point.  Well, Australian garage rockers Food Court have announced that they will release their Big Weak EP in early November.  Are potential buyers going to remember?  I expect that the name of the band helps with a certain demographic.  They go to the mall, they get hungry, and they decide to go to the food court.  Hah! There is the reminder that the EP is coming.  But sometimes you need something more.

Well, Food Court has that something more.  They are giving away "14 Years Young", the first single off of Big Weak, as a free download on Bandcamp.  This indeed is the right stuff.  We download this raucous nugget of rock excellence, play it daily and remember, even crave, the EP.


REVIEW: Peter Escott - The Long O

The Long O is very intriguing album of somewhat idiosyncratic, keyboard-based ballads and experimental pop from Hobart, Tasmania's poet and musician Peter Escott.  It is true that his output as one half of Native Cats was keyboard-based pop as well, but it seems to me that the similar choice of musical weapons doesn't add up to more of the same.  Without his Native Cats conspirator, bassist Julian Teakle,  Peter's range of expression swings away from that project's dance-oriented tunes to something more insular and dreamy.  The piano, synth, melodica and a touch of guitar are his only tools other than his voice.  The minimal instrumentation leads results in a bounty of space around the chords and lyrics, which both lends power and creates a sense of distance.  There are no players other than Escott on The Long O.  And coupled with Escott's restrained delivery, the overall effect is as if discovering the song and piano man at the nightclub playing for himself after closing.  But rather than feeling like I'm getting leftover material not deemed good enough for the drinkers who stuffed bills in the tip jar, it seems to me that I'm getting the songs that actually mean something to the piano man.

The songs vary between brief snips and more lengthy works.  Some tracks such as "O", are decidedly experimental, while others, "Ship of Theseus" for example, is more meditative.  More straightforward pop is on offer with "My Heaven, My Rules", "No One", "Mealymouth", and "Believe In The Devil World".  For my money, "My Heaven, My Rules" is the highlight of the album and, in fact is one of my favorite songs of the year. Driven by Escott's piano, the song is a crooner's recap of a relationship, in which he points out that the other party never had to live by his rules.  "Mealymouth" is a dream pop creation, all appealing haze.  "Believe in the Devil World" is another delicious slice of cabaret, sung over a simple organ riff and drum machine.  You can stream three of those tracks below, but to stop there would deprive you of the power of "No One" and the quiet, meandering beauty of "Desmond's Song".

Peter Escott - My Heaven My Rules from BSR on Vimeo.

The more dreamy "Mealymouth" --

Bedroom Suck Records

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Introducing: Little Shoes Big Voice

Introductions are important for new bands.  While it is unrealistic to expect a fledging act to be fully realized from its inception, the songs have to be good enough to attract some fans and prompt the right people pay attention.  It seems to me that London duo Little Shoes Big Voice got it just right.  Jack Durtnall and Emily Harvey previously released the moodily engaging "Nightfall" without much fanfare, and now are following it with the gorgeous soul-infused electro-pop "Blue Veins".  Taken together, the songs make a convincing statement that this is a project to watch.