Friday, October 24, 2014

Prom - Keeping Company EP

Brooklyn's Prom makes engaging dream pop, featuring soaring vocals and synths over a driving drum cadence and stabs of thick bass.  Your musical introduction to the band is available now via their just released Keeping Company EP, available on Crazy Heart Records.  I like to think of it as dream pop anthems for people who might like to dance a bit.  Making music that is cinematic, romantic and pulsing enough to move your feet is a talent to cherish, so we hope Prom keeps at it.  We've included two tracks below.  If you only think you have time for one, try "Switch On"; you'll likely try the other one as well.  You can stream the entire album at the Soundcloud link below.

Prom is Ella Zoller and Gabriel Stanley.

Soundcloud for EP
Crazy Heart Records

Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman is 78 today.

Older than dirt and probably still dating girls younger than my sons. Bill has never received his due credit. The Stones are not just Jagger and Richard.  Jagger and Richard are notoriously renowned for "forgetting" to give Wyman writing cit. After Wyman quit the band in 1990, after nearly three decades service, Bob Dylan said:  "I'm not saying they don't keep going, but they need Bill," he said. "Without him they're a funk band. They'll be the real Rolling Stones when they get Bill back."

Before the Stones were just a funk band Wyman and Charlie Watts were the glue holding the band together. Listening closely to Wyman's bass lines is one of my RnR pleasures. Dig in and enjoy to a few of my favorites.

"Paint It Black' 1966 "I loved recording 'Paint It, Black,'" Wyman told Bass Player magazine. "When I laid on the floor and pumped the organ pedal with my fist, because I can’t play with my feet, that rhythm kind of made the record, because it was lacking something before I suggested doing that."

" Gimme Shelter" 1969 Wyman's bass is simple and perfect for the mood of the song. A sinister groove thanks to Wyman and Watts

"19th Nervous Breakdown" 1966    Wyman's r bass runs at the song's end are the exclamation point To a Jagger-Richard rave up on Bob Dylan. The song hit No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 2 in the States.

" Jumpin Jack Flash" 1969: In his autobiography 'Stone Alone,' Wyman gives himself credit for the main riff of the song. "We got to the studio early, there was just myself, Brian and Charlie," he explains. "I was just messing about at the piano and started doing this riff, da-daw, da-da-daw, da-da-daw, then Brian played a bit of guitar and Charlie was doing a rhythm. Mick and Keith came in and said, 'Hey, that sounded really good, what is it?'"

"Miss You" 1978: "I suppose you could say I created what was happening on 'Miss You,'" Wyman boasted to Bass Player magazine. "The walking bass, that octave bass thing. After that, just about every band in the world took that idea at the time and used it in a song."


Rolling Stones Friday: Not Fade Away

The Beatles famously modeled their name after Buddy Holly's band, while the Rolling Stones first US single, released in 1964, was a cover of Buddy Holly's 1957 hit "Not Fade Away".

I selected this song today just so I could show you this very early and amazing TV footage of the Stones:

Of course, Buddy Holly built "Not Fade Away" on a classic Bo Diddley beat, which itself was lifted from traditional "hambone" West African rhythm. And on and on it goes.

But look at the 1964 photo top above: The Stones almost look like Buddy Holly and the Crickets!:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Leisure Suite - Leisure Suite EP

Today's question for you is whether a band of which you were completely unaware before opening this post could become one of your favorite electro-pop bands by the end of the day.  Of course, the answer will depend on your individual tastes, but Leisure Suite certainly sounds like a solid candidate to me.  A three-piece from Melbourne consisting of Mitchell, Bridgette and Su, their music is a trippy guitar and synth-based pop featuring spare beats and Bridgette Le's sultry vocals.  Two of the tracks on this self-titled EP previously appeared as singles, but the EP is their first longer release.  The first two offerings, "Great Expectations" and "Ease Away" are downtempo, atmospheric songs.  The delightful "Haze" picks up the pace and could easily slot into the playlist for the dancefloor.  The introspective "Falling Under" circles back to the chillwave of the first two tracks, while allowing Bridgette to showcase her vocal prowess.  Thematically, the songs cover the expectations place on you by others, looking ahead to the future, and relationships that don't work,

While this introduction to Leisure Suite is but four songs deep, I think there is sufficient evidence to make this a band to which I'll pay attention.  The songs are well constructed with no ragged edges, and the band members evince genuine talent in their performances.  This is perfect music for fall afternoons.   Give it a listen below.

Leisure Suite is released by the re-born Deaf Ambitions label.  It is a digital release so you should be able to find it at the usual digital outlets.

Deaf Ambitions

"Sister" from Sharptooth

Nico Miller, Kate Miller, Jess Gunn, and Lauren Campbell are four women from the Highlands and Glasgow that comprise Sharptooth.  The Glasgow-based band's music seems to me to be fuzz-pop noir.  The haunting little tunes may not help you sleep tight if you listen to them before bed, but I think they are well done and compelling.  This past spring Sharptooth released the Cut Me Open cassette via Number4Door Records (digital copies remain available at the link at the bottom of the post).  Now the sharp guys at Fuzzkill Records are offering the band's latest track, "Sister" as a cassette and digital download.  With lo-fi, crashing guitars, an ominous lead vocal and haunting chorus, "Sister" makes a distinctive, and distinctly positive, impression.

Sharptooth on Facebook
Order page for "Sister"
Fuzzkill Records on Facebook
Link to previous EP

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Honest" by Oceans

Efe Tekkanat's prior musical incarnation as a punk rocker probably gave little hint of his promise as an electronica artist.  But based on the evidence provided by "Honest", his first single for Helsinki's Soliti Music label.  The 19-year old Finn, performing as Oceans, offers an insistent, eminently danceable groove, but includes R&B vocals that suggest Efe understands the value of adding warmth to his compositions.  We're looking forward to more from Oceans.

Soliti Music

REVIEW: The Luxembourg Signal - The Luxembourg Signal

Shelflife Records is one of the most reliably delightful little labels in our universe, so we are always willing to pay attention to one of their releases.  Their latest nugget is the self-titled debut album from The Luxembourg Signal, and guitar pop fans may well judge it to be one of the best releases this autumn.  Treading -- or maybe swaggering down -- the line between dream pop and shoegaze, with hints of '90s college rock, this band sounds like a Sarah Records band reborn with the benefit of added power sources and a more mature outlook on songwriting.  And that may be because, more or less, that's what this band is.  Members Johnny Joyner, Beth Arzy and Brian Espinosa, all of whom were with Sarah Records darling Aberdeen (and Fonda and Trembling Blue Stars), started The Luxembourg Signal with Betsy Moyer and Ginny Pitchford.

The ten tracks on The Luxembourg Signal are emotionally rich thematically and musically.  Arzy's perpetually youthful vocals remain a sweetly commanding focal point, while the guitars crash, thunder and soar in support.  The previously released second track "Distant Drive" heralded the guitar power that the band would deliver on this recording.  But the band's depth is revealed by the more pop oriented third and fourth tracks, "Heaven" and "She Loves to Feel the Sun".   Track five, "First Light", unspools like a delicious slice of Echo and the Bunnymen or Bauhaus, with shoegaze overdrive.  The sixth and seventh tracks, "Drowning" and "Wishing Pool", envelope the listener in waves of thick, jangling guitars. "Un-Phased" is a brief and gentle instrumental, and serves as a delightful lead-in to the driving dream pop "We Go On", which may ultimately be one of many fans' favorites on this album.  The album closer, "Let It Go" is a surprising and perfectly constructed jam, with near top 40 bounce and a delightful vocal hook wrapped in shoegaze.

The Luxembourg Signal is an LA-based band, although Arzy still resides in the UK so recording time together is limited.  I don't know what that all means for the future recording output from the band, but I do know that this first effort is amazingly good and I highly recommend it.

The Luxembourg Signal is available in digital, vinyl and compact disc formats.

Shelflife Records

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Braves - Seapunk

Braves are Alex, Kieran, Liam, and Simon, and they reside in Perth, Western Australia.  They think you should get to know their music, and they have made it easy for you -- their five-track Seapunks EP is available for 'name your price'.  Of course, we don't want you to waste your time, so we have bravely tested the album to make sure that it is up to our high standards.  We started at the beginning with the surf punk of the title track, the garage of "True Feelings", the dream pop of "Losing You", the jangling "First Train to Squaresville" and the garage jam of "I Don't Surf".  The committee then conferred, and concluded as follows:  THIS IS REALLY GOOD STUFF, SO STOP READING THIS BLATHER, GO TO BANDCAMP AND DOWNLOAD THIS ALBUM.  AND CONSIDER GIVING THE LADS A FEW DOLLARS SO THEY CAN BUY NEW GUITAR STRINGS AND BEER.


Introducing: Little May

CMJ Music Week brings new international talent to the United States every October.  Some just play in New York, while some book a few other dates.  Fortunately for many of us who can't make any CMJ shows, the bands often time a release to coincide with their shows.  One such talent we've decided to feature is Sydney, Australia's Little May.  The trio consists of Liz Drummond, Hannah Field, and Annie Hamilton, and their sound is a dark and atmospheric folk rock with hints of country.  Particularly because of the female vocals, harmonies and guitar-focused instrumentation, the band draws comparisons to First Aid Kit, Haim, and even late-70s Fleetwood Mac.  But I submit that such references are just general references, and this band is not just trying to follow anyone.  Little May write good songs with plenty of personality, and perform them in convincing fashion.  Not content to rely only on vocals, the trio delivers a full sound with big guitars and prominent percussion.  Their five-track Little May EP has just been released by Capitol, and you can stream it below.  We have also included the video for lead track, "Dust".

Little May's CMJ-related shows are as follows:

10/21 - Rockwood Music Hall - 10:30PM
10/22 - Rough Trade - 9PM
10/24 - Mercury Lounge - 10PM
10/25 - Pianos - 1:30PM
10/25 - The Delancey  - 12:15-12:40AM (late Saturday night)


Monday, October 20, 2014

Andras & Oscar - Cafe Romantica

Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung enjoy solo careers, but also collaborate in making warm, romantic house and electonica.  Their 2013 EP Embassy Cafe for Dutch label Dopeness Galore introduced their music to the world, and has led to their full length, Cafe Romantica.  The tracks vary between seductive and reflective, with a sophisticated sheen to the grooves and bubbling melodies, highlighting that what really makes this collaboration special, in addition to talent, is the shared lightness of touch and subtlety of expression.  The duo eschews the rafter-shaking chorus and dirty drop and grind of much house music for something more suggestive of the little joys of moving one's feet with one's friends and falling in love.  The result is an album that is more than dance music; it is a sexy pop album that you can take with you and enjoy doing just about anything.  And I suggest that you can justifiably commend yourself on your good taste while doing it.

Cafe Romantica is out in Australia and New Zealand via Melbourne's Chapter Music, and is released in the rest of the world by Dopeness Galore.

Facebook for Andras Fox
Facebook for Oscar Key Sung
Bandcamp for album
Chapter Music
Dopeness Galore

REVIEW: Mark Martyre - Red Letters

Eight tracks of poetic folk and Americana (or is it Canadiana?) comprise Red Letters, the new album from Toronto poet and singer songwriter Mark Martyre.  The themes are personal and reflective and the tone is warm.  The minimal instrumental accompaniment of guitar, bass, violin, piano and, at times, accordion allows focus to center on the true stars of the songs, Mark's words, and his gravelly voice.  Most of the tracks are downtempo, but Mark ups the pace for personal favorite "I Wasn't Born to Lose You" and the piano romp of "My Baby's Gone A Flyin'".

My personal reaction to Martyre's album is that, at its most basic level, it is about textures.  Certainly and most obviously, those textures include layers of various instruments and Mark's voice.  But the most lasting impact is the emotional textures created by Mark's words, aided by his inflection, and use of space and timing to underscore the emotions.  True artistry is the ability to use restraint to emphasize the depth of feeling, and that ability is quietly loud on Red Letters.

Red Letters was released on October 14, and is available as a digital download or CD at the Bandcamp link below.


R.I.P. reggae legend John Holt

John Holt, one of the giants of Reggae's golden years, died yesterday in a London hospital at age 67.  A famed vocalist and successful songwriter, his career spanned his entry in talent shows when he was in the mid-'50s to his last album release in 2003.  As a vocalist, he enjoyed success as a solo artist, in duets, and in the group The Paragons.  Some may recall that The Paragons recorded the original version of "The Tide Is High", which later was a hit for Blondie.  While he recorded socially conscious and Rastafarian related material, he probably was best known for his romantic, "lovers rock" recordings.  To remind you of his talent, I've included clips of his Rocksteady hit for the Treasure Isle label, "Ali Baba", his lovers rock hit for Studio One "I Want A Love I Can Feel", and the original version of "The Tide Is High".

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Shine A Light" from Sampology, feat. Daniel Merriweather

Brisbane's Sam Poggioli is a breath of fresh air on the music scene.  As Sampology, he creates joy-infused dance music that pleases your ears and ignites your feet.   And he also creates wonderful visual accompaniment.  It seems that a US album is due in June of 2015, but Sam and two other collaborators are in the US now to play live shows, including several at CMJ.  The remaining dates are at the bottom of this post.  For an introduction to Sam's audio-visual talents, enjoy the video below for "Shine A Light", featuring Daniel Merriweather and Sam's visual creations.

Remaining Shows on Tour
Wed 10/22 | Sampology Ft. Tom Thum | CMJ x Beat Pie @ Santos Party House | 12:10 AM - 12:35 AM | NYC
Sat 10/25 | Sampology (DJ Set) | Aussie BBQ w/ Dune Rats, Gossling, Bad//Dreems and More@ the Delancey NYC | 12 AM - 2 AM | NYC