Saturday, December 6, 2014

"The Lights In San Francisco" from Colourful Band

A few weeks ago we shared the news that Edinburgh's The Colourful Band was preparing a new album, and posted one of the tracks (here).  Ian McKelvie, Mr. CB himself, was in the states recently (I hope the surfing was as good as you hoped, Ian), and at the end of his trip he sent me the link to another as yet unreleased track.  It is called "the Lights In San Francisco", and it is a really nice tune.  So thanks very much, Ian.  But as you've now had your little vacation, get back to work and finish the album.



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Friday, December 5, 2014

"Ain't Horrible" from Crepes

Crepes are Tim Karmouche, Nick Robbins, Pat Robbins, Jackson Dahlenburg, and Maceo Wood.  The Melbourne-based band makes relaxed, earworm intensive guitar pop.  The plan is to release an EP on the Deaf Ambitions label in 2015, but to let everyone know the quality that is coming, they have shared "Ain't Horrible".  A breezy tune with some hints of Dick Diver and the venerable Go-Betweens, I think Crepes will be a welcome addition to the scene.



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Wreckless Eric - The Hitsville House Band '12 O'Clock Stereo'


This is just what you'd hope for if you stopped in a road house looking for the kind of food a road house doesn't ruin and the kind of beverage that led you to choose a road house rather than a place for which you'd choose food.  The band is on the stage, sweating and pouring their hearts into the performance.  The music is all over the spectrum -- garage, indie rock, blues, and soul.  You hope they play long sets because you want to hear a lot more of it, and you hope you can sleep in your car for a while before you drive because as long as the band plays, you are going to stay.  And that means you may have a few more drinks.

Eric Goulden, aka Wreckless Eric is an English rock and roll treasure.  Fire Records previously  reissued two excellent mid-career albums from Wreckless Eric, 1989's Le Beat Group Electrique and 1991's The Donovan of Trash, but this one -- The Hitsville House Band '12 O'Clock Stereo -- is my favorite of the Fire WE reissues so far.  Recorded on analog equipment in mono in France with Parisian sidemen Fabrice Lombardo (bass) and Denis Baudrillart (drums), the newly dubbed Hitsville House Band recorded 12 tales of the type you should hear in a road house, either from the stage or at the bar, with enough precision to be worthy of the music and enough rough edges to do justice to the themes.  We don't need to discuss styles, genres or production.  Quite simply, this is rock and roll, and you are here because you love rock and roll.  This album didn't get the love it deserved when released in 1996, despite the efforts of John Peel, but thanks to Fire Records, you have your chance.





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RIP: Ian McLagan (Faces, Small Faces etc.) 1945-2014

Ian McLagan: May 12, 1945 - December 3, 2014 
It's been a very tough week for great rock'n'roll musicians as we lost both Bobby Keys and Ian McLagan.

I never met Ian McLagan, but I have friends who knew him and they all rave that he was the best guy in the world. And he certainly came off that way when I saw him perform solo at a very small Portland club earlier this year - wonderful storyteller, warm presence, highly appreciative of his audience, and oh so musical.

McLagan's piano and keyboard work, generally on a Wurlitzer electric or a Hammond, is some of the tastiest and most memorable in rock history. 1970's FM radio was nearly defined by the incredible energy of The Faces "Stay With Me" - check out this live version that doesn't have much footage of McLagan but just listen to those keys leading the song's rollicking sound!:

     
McLagan was born in England and joined the Small Faces in 1965.  One of my favorites moments in the Small Faces catalogue is "Afterglow (Of Your Love)" driven by McLagan's powerful Hammond playing:


Am I the only one who can hear some future Big Star in "Afterglow (Of Your Love)"?
 
One of my favorite Faces songs was written by McLagan and Rod Stewart, "Bad n Ruin" released on Long Player in 1971:

Another Faces classic done here live and so well is another McLagan-Stewart composition, "Three Button Hand Me Down":

We could just go on and link Faces songs until tomorrow without getting tired of hearing them. But McLagan did so much more. He played with too many artists to name, including many of the best in the business: Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Westerberg, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Bragg, Lucinda Williams and Jackson Browne.  McLagan fronted various of his own bands and made some great solo records, including one this year, United States that included this sweet and wonderful song "Love Letter":


He had been living for quite awhile in Austin TX USA and became a fixture on the rich local music scene there.

McLagan published an autobiography, All the Rage: A Riotous Romp Through Rock & Roll History, in 2000, and added to, appended and reprinted it in 2013.

He was one of rock's truly guys and we here at WYMA are truly sorry to see him go.

Rolling Stones Friday: RIP Bobby Keys


Bobby Keys died this week at age 70. Certainly one of if not the greatest sax player in rock and roll history, Keys' saxophone brought a tough and dangerous edge to the Stones' sound. His blistering one take, 30 second solo in the middle of "Brown Sugar" only added to the song's raw sexuality and is etched in every rock and roll fan's brain:


Keys played a major role on Exile on Main Street, especially "Rip This Joint". Gonna raise a little hell indeed:


We covered one of Keys' signature moments "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" with its amazing extended saxophone jam by Bobby Keys on Rolling Stones Friday earlier here at WYMA.

Keys was a native Texan, once ran a nightclub in Florida owned by Ron Wood, and was most recently living outside Nashville when he died. While best known for his work with the Stones, with whom he both recorded and frequently played on tour, Keys also over the years recorded with all four members of the Beatles after their breakup (including John Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Through the Night", you remember that sax line), The Who, B.B. King, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, many many others including in 1961 when Keys was just a kid with Dion and the Belmonts on "The Wanderer", and this absolutely amazing live version of "The Letter" with Joe Cocker and his Mad Dogs and Englishmen in 1970:


We will certainly miss Bobby Keys. We'll leave you with a live version of "Miss You" from 1994, with Mr. Keys absolutely tearing it up:



Big loss for rock and roll and the world's greatest rock'n'roll band.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

REVIEW: Total Control - Typical System


I will confess to being a bit tardy on covering Typical System, the second album from Melbourne's Total Control.   I had heard that there would be a delay in the US release this summer, so I put it aside and focused on other things.  Because it is a smashing record I returned to it from time to time, but it wasn't until recently that I realized that my post still was in draft.  Totally my fault, but what are you going to do -- sue me?

Typical System covers a broad swath of post-punk, synth pop and chillwave, mostly, but not completely, with a gloomy, atmospheric veneer.  But in addition to the trappings of gloom, these songs are infused with a sense of power and energy.  Perhaps at first listen it seems like a slice of the '80s, but upon closer inspection it just takes the bones of post punk and then constructs a fresh temple of dark, swirling atmosphere for the modern man or woman.  There is plenty of guitar and synths, but appropriately the bass and drums are high in the mix, pile-driving the songs into your brain.  And the gloom doesn't mean that it is devoid of humanity.  From the lyrics, playful synth frills, to bouncing bass lines and other sonic touches, their is warmth, heat, and perhaps some sardonic humor.  Even the most industrial of tracks, "Hunter", has a palpable soul, and the ten tracks speak of an artful balance.  You would be hard pressed to find another album that is this primal, yet this sophisticated.

You will see this album high on a number of year end lists, and absent from most.  It is that kind of album.  It will have a spot on mine.






My understanding is that the core members of Total Control are Dan Stewart (vocals) and Mike Young (synths/guitar) and they have recruited Zephyr Pavey (bass), Al Montfort (guitar), David West (guitar) and James Vinciguerra (drums) for Typical System.  The album is out now via Inertia in Australia and New Zealand, and Iron Lung Records in the remainder of the world.

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Boyracer - Pete Shelly EP

Punk popping Boyracer has had a long career in the creases of the indie world.  Their work has been released by Slumberland, Sarah, Jigsaw, HHBTM and others, and the band has released over 800 songs sing 1991.  Apparently, that golden pension plan available to all indie rockers have vested, because the Pete Shelly EP is said to be their final release.  While I find that news sad, at least they are going out on a high note.  To be more exact, many high notes, many low notes, some percussion, some snarl, and all of it as loud as you like it.  None of us would have it any other way.

For the Pete Shelly EP, Chief Boyracer Stewart Anderson is joined by his spouse Jen Turrell and guitarist Matt Green.  The title track starts off proceedings with a song that is as close to an anthem as you likely will get with crash pop.  Replay it a few times - you deserve it.  "2nd Wave Mod" is a footstomper with sneering vocals, pounding drums and sawing guitars.  "The Kind of Man You Really Are" features a snaky groove.  Jen takes the lead vocals for the more indie pop, and very tasty, "Jump".  Play it loud, and play it proud.  Farewells don't have to be sad.

The record is released by Emotional Response Records, which is a label run by Stewart Anderson and Jen Turrell, who together previously ran the labels 555 Records and Red Square.  You can buy the vinyl or the digital download, and either one gets you two digital bonus tracks.  You can order via Bandcamp, but Stew and Jen advise ordering though their website at the bottom of the post, as it will be less expensive.



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Jen and Stew's Website

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Winebox Inquiry - The Winebox Inquiry


I'm guessing that most of you aren't familiar with The Winebox Inquiry, and that is understandable.  Apparently it is the solo project of William Daymond, the drummer for Wellington, New Zealand band Terror of the Deep.  But if you are a jangle pop fan, you are going to want this seven-song album and pray for more.  Be forewarned, it will set you back 'name your price', but it will be well worth it.  You'll hear a bit of California, a bit of UK in the '60s, and a bit of '80s Dunedin.  Sample below, and then get on it.







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REVIEW: The Popguns - Pop Fiction

In my opinion, Brighton's beloved The Popguns were at the head of the class for guitar pop in the late '80s and '90s.  The intertwined guitars were loud, but not abrasive, and as regular readers here know, if I compare another female vocalist to Wendy (Morgan) Pickles, I am giving her one of my higher compliments.  As a fan, you tend to regard such a band as an old friend, but frozen in time.  You visit them from time to time, fall in love with the music all over again and bask in the memories of time and place.  If the band reunites years later, you feel joy about the possibilities of new music, but trepidation that the magic may be gone, abilities and inspiration eroded, and motivations compromised.  Those worries are understandable, and all too often fulfilled.  Happily, however, they do not apply to The Popguns, or their stellar new album for Matinee Recordings, Pop Fiction.  The very evident genius of this group is that they know what they do very well, and they keep doing it better.  There are new songs and, years down the road, new perspectives.  But when you have a vocalist like Wendy, excellent guitarists and top flight songwriting, the strategy cannot be questioned.  And stitching it together is the confidence and sincerity of the performances.

The album opens with strength -- the ringing guitars and floating vocals of "City Lights" evoking an the end of the day and the promise of the evening.  The pace picks up with the appealingly chugging "If You Ever Change Your Mind", telling a story of almost-not-quite-maybe-never mind love (I think most of us can relate to that).  Track three is the buoyant lover's plea, "Lovejunky", which we reviewed when it was released earlier this year as a single (review here).  Next is "Still Waiting for the Winter", a thoroughly captivating addendum to their long ago hit "Waiting for the Winter".  Wendy sings "if you're still waiting for the winter, then you already missed her / And she's never coming back again / Yeah I heard that she's OK, still a world away / Were you hoping for the rain?", and then closes with "I felt the coming of the winter, my heart began to shiver / Cos we're never coming back again / We're already on our way, half a world away / never coming back again".  It is one of my favorite songs on the album.

"Alpha Romeo" is a melodic and bittersweet cautionary tale of fame and life on the road, apparently inspired by American musician Chet Baker.  "Out of Sight" and "Not Your Night Tonight" dial it down to contemplate love and relationships after the lustful teens and 20s.  In the former the narrator muses about whether her long distance lover thinks of her when they are apart.  In the latter, she advises a hopeful suitor that she isn't interested.  The pace picks up again for two songs that also seem paired.  In "Leaning on the Backline" Wendy takes a wistful look back at old times and past friendship.  In "Something Going On, over buzzing guitars, the narrator expresses irritation with an long ago acquaintance who seems to want something in which she has no interest.  Fittingly, the closing track, "I'll See You Later", tells of a woman who calls time on a relationship as she looks forward to the possibilities of the future; meanwhile, the band rocks out.

Pop Fiction finds The Popguns supremely accomplished, fully inspired and on top of their game.  The album is available in CD and digital formats from the ever tasteful Matinee Recordings.  If you want to stream it before you buy it, hit the band's Bandcamp link below.









The Popguns are Wendy Pickles, Simon Pickles, Greg Dixon, Pat Walkington, Tony Bryant, and Kate Mander.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dirt Dress - Revelations EP

The Revelations EP consists of four tracks of upbeat, forward-pushing post punk from Los Angeles' Dirt Dress.  The guitar, bass and drums are fleshed out with synths, and the harder edged approach of prior efforts now has a bit more pop and gloss.  All four songs are very good, but the centerpiece is the title track.   "Revelations" is a bubbling, earworm of a pop rock song that digs into your brain and won't let go.  Stream the Soundcloud link for the track below or watch the video.  If you like it, stream the EP a bit further down the post.





Stream the full EP here --

Dirt Dress are Noah (guitar/vocals), Jose (bass), Sasami Ashworth (guitar/synth), and Tabor Allen (drums).

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Joy from Odd Box Records


The holiday season has just begun and perhaps you already are feeling financially trashed.  Odd Box Records is here to cheer you up.  They have prepared Odd Box 2014, a ten-track album compiled from their releases during the year.  For a limited time, the record is available for 'name your price' download, so it could be one of the better deals you'll see for a while.

The songs are from groups such as The Wolfhounds, The Hundredth Anniversary, Tyrannosaurus Dead, Ace Bushy Striptease, and Anguish Sandwich, and the general descriptors would be noise pop, garage, and lo-fi.  The songs are energetic, swaggering and rocking.  You'll find some new bands to like, and if you love any of them you can delve into the Odd Box Records site and do some personal shopping.


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Astronauts - Four Songs

When you read in a label's late-in-the-year press offering that one of their artists has followed up a release of a few months ago with a four song EP comprised of songs that didn't fit on the album but were 'just as good' as the songs included, human nature invokes a certain skepticism.  It is the same defense mechanism that gives you a warning flash when the salesman tells you that the brown sharkskin sports coat looks like it was made specifically for you, and would look great with the 'never go out of style' square toed dress shoes on the nearby rack.  The thing of it is, sometimes those kinds of proclamations are correct (not about the square toed dress shoes, however, just toss them -- please).  You see, the new Four Songs EP from Astronauts -- the folk, indie and electro-pop project of Londoner Dan Carney -- really yields no ground to the excellent Hollow Ponds (our review here).

Carney's songs are soundly structured and affectingly melodic.  But for me, their most striking attribute is their perfect balance.  He infuses his works with the exactly correct measure of airiness, weight, space and layers of sound.  The record's opening track, "Only Son" is one of my favorites.  Carney sets the stage with a droning but brightly colored riff, with his vocals low in the mix.  I can't really explain why, but the song strikes me as euphoric, and I never fail to hit the replay button a few times.  The following "Lion Tamer" begins with darker tones and a more experimental pop arrangement.  The delicate vocals and harmonic backing vocals float over the skittering beats, suggesting an inexpressible darkness and anxiety.  "Think On" has rightly been compared to the work of Elliott Smith and Nick Drake.  On an EP of well constructed songs, this one may be the centerpiece of the songwriter's art.  The closing "Death from the Stars" is an instrumental dream pop song that deserves to find a cinematic scene worthy of its contribution to the soundtrack.

Four Songs EP is available now as a digital download from Lo Recordings and various digital retailers.





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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fourteen Stories Tall / Twisting the Knife from Pale Lights

Brooklyn's Pale Lights released Before There Were Pictures, an LP of chiming, jangling guitar pop in May.   When I discovered it in July, I opined that it was one of the better jangle pop albums of the year (review here), and nothing since then has dissuaded me from that view.   The quartet probably could have be forgiven if they rested on the laurels of that release, but instead they are closing out the year with a fine two-track single, Fourteen Stories Tall / Twisting the Knife.

For me, the obvious touchstones are the Go-Betweens and some of the early Flying Nun bands such as The Bats.  Both songs have bright tones and appealing melodies, although the lyrics paint a different picture.  "Fourteen Stories Tall" advises a woman to leave a man that doesn't treat her right, while "Twisting the Knife" asks a man why he hasn't left a woman who has done him wrong.  Great stuff, and a great little digital single that will brighten your holiday season for $2.





Pale Lights are Phil Sutton (rhythm guitar, lead vocals, songwriting), who also has been a member of Comet Gain, Andy Adler (lead guitar) from Crystal Stilts, Lisa Goldstein (drums, vocals), and Maria Pace (bass).  For this single, the band also received contributions from Suzanne Neinaber (backing vocals) and Kyle Forester (keyboards).

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