Friday, March 6, 2015

Languis - Other Cities EP

Languis' Other Cities EP is not a new release -- the Pehr label had that honor in 2006.  But the tastemakers at Shelflife Records have arranged to mark the tenth anniversary of the record's conception by reissuing the EP in a limited run of 250 10" vinyl copies (plus one bonus track provided digitally).   Why is this so special?  Do yourself a favor and plug in some earphones, listen the the swirling psychedelia, pumping rhythms, and gentle harmonies on the Soundcloud clip below.  Then imagine how it will sound on vinyl over your home system.  The washed out sound, warm melodies and full production make an magical set of positive and emotional songs.  Buy it and play it for someone you love.

Alejandro Cohen and Marcos Chloca founded Languis in 1991 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  By the time Other Cities EP was conceived and recorded the band had added Stephen Swesey of Tristeza and John Girgus of Aberdeen.  I believe the band now is based in Los Angeles and is working on new recordings.

Shelflife Records

Thursday, March 5, 2015

REVIEW: The Stones - Three Blind Mice

The bloodlines of New Zealand's The Stones are deep on these pages.  They were featured directly as one of the four bands on the seminal Flying Nun release Dunedin Double, which Flying Nun and Captured Tracks reissued last April (our review here).  There also was an indirect reference with our coverage of those two labels' reissue of Bored Games' Who Killed Colonel Mustard because one of the members of that band, Wayne Elsey, founded The Stones with Jeff Batts and Graeme Anderson.

Wayne's decision to shut down Bored Games and form The Stones was born of his desire to have a band the sounded more like South Island contemporaries The Clean.  And the reverb, twang and jangle coupled with adventuresome songwriting, consider it mission partially accomplished.  However, if the band were mere followers, they wouldn't merit this compilation and we wouldn't be writing about it.  In fact what The Stones did was more important than sounding like The Clean.  They fused rock attitude and garage energy with innate, and sometimes progressive, pop smarts and an inventive and disciplined rhythm section.  Moreover, they had a rock swagger and an aggressive edge, and in their couple year run they displayed incredible promise. Yes, there was a bit of The Clean in the sound, but as noted by contemporary Dunedin musician Shayne Carter, there was a bit of VU and Joy Division in the mix as well.  Sadly, their official recorded output consists only of the songs on1982's Dunedin Double and their own EP, Another Disc Another Dollar, in 1983.  And then it was breakup time.  The restless Elsey then played in Doublehappys, before dying in a train accident in '85.

Three Blind Mice compiles the songs from Dunedin Double and Another Disc Another Dollar, and adds nine live performances from '82 and '83 which have never been released previously.  The package includes liner notes penned by Shayne Carter (who in addition to being in Straightjacket Fits, was in Bored Games and Doublehappys with Elsey), design and illustrations from Alec Bathgate and Chris Knox (Toy Love).  The compilation was curated by Bruce Russell and mastered by Tex Houston.  Yes, this is a slice of music history, but much more importantly, it is a large slice of rare and delicious music.

Three Blind Mice is available on CD and vinyl, and as a digital download from Flying Nun and Captured Tracks.  Note, however, that the nine live tracks will not be on the vinyl version.

Flying Nun Records
Captured Tracks page for release

Love of Diagrams - Blast

Melbourne trio Love of Diagrams was active in the '00s, touring the US twice in mid-decade and releasing three records, the last of which dropped in 2009.  Nearly five years later they traveled back to the states to record with Steve Albini in Chicago.  The product of that effort is Blast -- twelve tracks of muscular post-punk.  Female vocals ride the waves of fiery, fuzzy guitar work and dominating bass and percussion.  In terms of references one might suggest that it sounds like Sonic Youth covering Siouxsie and the Banshees, or Siouxsie and the Banshees covering Sonic Youth.  This is music that rumbles in your chest cavity and cleans out your head (and everyone who knows me knows my head needs periodic cleaning, so there is a public service aspect to this).

Music is more satisfying when it sounds like the musicians are enjoying delivering it, rather than tearing in from their tortured flesh.  In the case of this album, it is evident that Love of Diagrams had a blast recording Blast.  Catch the thundering joy.

Love of Diagrams is Antonia Selbach (bass/lead vocals), Luke Horton (guitar/vocals), and Monika Fikerle (drums).  Blast is released via Bedroom Suck Records.

Band blog
Bedroom Suck Records

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

REVIEW: Sonny and the Sunsets - Talent Night at the Ashram

Talent Night at the Ashram works on so many levels for me.  As always with Sonny and the Sunsets, Sonny Smith's observations about his life, real or imagined, or the life he witnesses, real or embellished, are both interesting and interestingly stated.  The guitars always sound great.  And the overall tone of the songs have the right dose of ramshackle, adding texture to the well-formed core of the tune.  That the ideas are so vividly fleshed out isn't surprising when you learn that the original concept was a feature length film, which then morphed into an album.  So you can close your eyes and think of yourself as listening to someone singing you the screenplays for a series of televised short stories.  Although filming the dog swimming in the narrator's beer might have been a director's challenge.

Some albums are conventional thematically, but psychedelic in tone.  Talent Night at the Ashram is mostly '60s inflected indie rock in tone, but more than a little psychedelic and just plain off the wall thematically.  And in all honesty, the execution suggests that Sonny's way is the best way to do it.  He is one of the more inventively entertaining artists on the scene, and this album shows that his star is continuing to rise.  This album is highly recommended.

Talent Night at the Ashram is out now on Polyvinyl Records.  For this outing Sonny and the Sunsets is Sonny Smith, Shayde Sartin, Ian McBrayer, Garret Goddard, Kelley Stoltz, Rusty Miller, and probably a few others.

Bandcamp for the album
Polyvinyl Records

"Broken Hands" from Fraser A. Gorman

Fraser A. Gorman takes his own damn time.  His debut LP is to be released this year, but he drips a delicious track on us every now and then to let us know what we aren't getting until he is good and ready.  We've previously featured the wonderful "Book of Love" and demo for "Darkness is Coming" here (link), and now we have the video for "Broken Hands", in which our intrepid hero discovers the world via the magical properties of his new rug, and discovers and immutable fact about the limits of magic when pitted against hungry goats.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Video for "Haze of Youth" from Zebra Hunt

One of my favorite albums of the year so far is City Sighs, from Seattle's Zebra Hunt (review here).  The band just released a video for the stellar album closer "Haze of Youth", with scenes from some of their local urban hunting grounds.  Great song and a fun video.

Bandcamp for City Sighs

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"All I Need" From Little Secrets

Today we are sharing a featured single is "All I Need" from a little secret band, aptly named The Little Secrets.  The Liverpool consists of Stacy Jo (vocals) and Kevin Dixon (guitars/mellotron), who co-wrote the song, with assistance in the studio from Colin Lloyd (guitar), Dean Hampson (bass), and Chris Campbell (drums).  "All I Need" is an infectious slice of girl-voiced indie pop, released in late January and gathering airplay around the global.  It adeptly splices together the girl group sound of the '60s with modern indie pop sensibilities.  If this duo has more in the tank like "All I Need", they should do well.  The single is out via Edge Hill University's The Label Recordings, and you can find it on iTunes and Amazon.

The Label Recordings (background)