Friday, November 14, 2014

Pretty Sad - Pretty Sad EP

When it comes to perfect little pop gems, Shelflife is one of the most reliable labels in the world, and they've proved it again with the digital only self -titled release for joint Scotland-Denmark-England project Pretty Sad.  The original intent was to release these three songs on vinyl, but realities of production and the top-quality of the songs suggested that a current digital release was the correct approach.  With the band members in different locations, songs are drafted and exchanged via digital files rather than face to face in a messy flat, but that shouldn't matter a bit to listeners.  There is no A side here -- all three tracks are lead-off quality dream-pop songs.  The vocals soar, the guitars chime, ring and jangle and the bass rumbles.  The arrangements are full, even lush, but retain the punch you expect from a good indie band.  I've replayed the EP five times in a row in an attempt to rank the songs, and I just can't choose.

You can stream the entirety of Pretty Sad EP below.  If you are a guitar pop fan, you likely will be tempted to replay it several times.  But remember, if you hit the Shelflife link below, you can own all three songs for $3.  That should make your weekend a bit happier.

Pretty Sad are Victoria (guitar/vocals), Luke (bass), and Maxim (guitar).  They intend to release a full length album on Shelflife in 2015.

Shelflife page for release

Rolling Stones Friday: No Expectations

"No Expectations" was the last song in which Brian Jones played a meaningful role. It was recorded in June 1968 and Jones died a year later. His slide guitar defines the mournful mood of the song.  

It's an acoustic blues song stylistically recalling their hero Robert Johnson. Keith Richards plays an open tuning on acoustic guitar. The song was reportedly recorded while the band sat in a circle on the floor playing together.

The song hasn't been performed live very often by the Stones, perhaps because it is so closely associated with Brian Jones. Perhaps the most memorable versions of it are with Jones in the Rock and Roll Circus film, and this live version performed in London's Hyde Park at a free concert on July 5. 1969 staged as a memorial to Jones just 2 days after his death:  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

REVIEW: Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting

With today's post, James Hoare has been featured on WYMA with three different bands.  He is the lead guitarist for Veronica Falls, one of my favorite bands of the past few years (their latest album was number six on my2013 list ).  Earlier this year James and Max Claps released an excellent self-titled album from their project Proper Ornaments (review here).  Now James has teamed with Jack Cooper of UK band Mazes to form Ultimate Painting.  Apparently James and Jack became friends when Mazes and Veronica Falls toured together.  They took their name from a work of art from the '60s Colorado artists' community known as Drop City.

If you like either of James' other bands or Jack's Mazes, you likely be curious to see what the boys have created in this collaboration.  But my advice to all fans of guitar pop is to check out this album. Each musician contributed five songs, and you'll hear hints of their other projects But for my ears there is a good bit of The Feelies, The Bats and even a bit of The dB's, early R.E.M and The Velvet Underground.  With intertwined guitars the hooks are frequent, like a Cracker Jack box with as many prizes as kernels of candy-coated popcorn and peanuts, while the bass and drums provide a sturdy backbone to the melodies.  The set includes slower-tempo tracks and tracks with quicker tempos.  I personally connect more with the latter, particularly "Central Park Blues", "Rolling in the Deep End", "Jane" and "Ten Street" (stream below).  But the more languid tracks are packed with charm, as the title track (stream below) ably demonstrates.  And all of the songs work together like the elements of a painting.  Some are bolder and demand attention, while some perform a supporting, but critical role.

One final note is that this album is a "grower"  -- I liked it the first time I heard it, but I like it better each time I play it.  James and Jack compliment each other bring out the best in each other.  I hope the collaboration continues.  And I hope you get yourself an Ultimate Painting to adorn your life.

Ultimate Painting is out now in vinyl and CD formats via Trouble In Mind Records.

Trouble In Mind Records

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Double Negative" from Love of Diagrams

We've learned to trust Australia's mighty little Bedroom Suck Records to keep the underground alive.  One of their upcoming releases will be Blast, from trio Love of Diagrams.  Your first hint as to the aural joys of the album are found in "Double Negative".  Taught, urgent, perhaps a bit reckless, with understated vocals and an alt rock love of noise.  Another reason to look forward to the new year in music.

Love of Diagrams is Antonia Sellbach (vocals/bass), Luke Horton (vocals/guitar), and Monika Fikerle (drums).

Bedroom Suck

REVIEW: Cool Ghouls - A Swirling Fire Burning Through the Rye

Ah, the Cool Ghouls.  How cool are these ghouls?  Well, for one thing they are releasing a fall album and, despite their self-proclaimed status as ghouls, felt no pressure to release A Swirling Fire Burning Through the Rye on Halloween.  Perhaps the lesson is that cool, playful, noisy ghouls are welcome in any season.  It certainly is a lesson to which I can subscribe.  In fact, I'd endorse these guys to be the WYMA house band.  Why?  They check a large number of boxes critical for listening around here.  There is the garage rock base with reminders of the '60s and plenty of West Coast psychedelia layered on, and the guitars satisfy my yearning for a dose of jangle and a swath of acid with my garage rock.  The band's arrangements make the most of their multiple strong vocalists, and their delivery is energetic and infectiously focused on fun.  Recorded by fellow San Francisco musician Sonny Smith and mixed and mastered by Melbourne's Mr. Music Everyman Mikey Young, this sophomore LP is a powerful statement of the band's abilities.

The album kicks off with the energetic "And It Grows", with chunky, psych guitar riffs and soaring harmonies.  The following "The Mile" is a garage nugget featuring a muscular groove and ringing guitar accents.  The boys may not consider themselves retro, but this is one of those songs that reminds me of the Sir Douglas Quintet.  "What A Dream I Had" is a slower paced psychedelic track.  The proceedings shift back to the garage rock side of the ledger for the duration, providing my favorite songs of the set.  Running the table are "Orange Light", "Insight", the glorious anthem "Get A Feeling" (this one should be on everyone's party mix), "Across the River", the delightfully Byrdsian "Reelin'" and "New Moon", and the relaxed swing of "Sweet Rain".  They unspool like a band recorded live in a single setting, with increasing confidence and swagger.  In fact, I assure you that as good as the three songs embedded below are, to my ears they aren't even the best songs on the album.  From track four on this album races into garage rock gold standard territory -- a band that is instrumentally tight, focused and completely dialed in to their songs.  Make this album yours, and you'll get many hours of pleasure out of it.

A Swirling Fire Burning Through the Rye is out now via Empty Cellar Records.

Empty Cellar Records

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Hallelujah" from The Colourful Band

Ian McKelvie's The Colourful Band is preparing another album.  I find that to be excellent news, as I loved their 2012 album (review here) and ranked it among my top 50 albums of the year (link here).  I don't know when it will be released, but I can share with you the one album track that Ian has made available.  Enjoy!

In addition to Ian, members of The Colourful Band at various points in time are Dave Curry, Jon Tyler, Fraser Stewart, Steve Tonge, Sam Stevenson, and Dave Steele.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Video for Robert Scott's "Vertigo"

In mid-September we featured The Green House (review here), the latest solo album from The Bats' frontman Robert Scott.  It truly is a lovely album, showcasing Scott's excellent songwriting and including female vocals from Hollie Fullbrook (aka Tiny Ruins).  One of my favorite tracks on the album is "Vertigo", which is the subject of this new animated video.

The Green House is out now via Flying Nun.

Flying Nun
Bandcamp for The Green House