Saturday, August 8, 2015

Wimps - Super Me Ep

Dave Ramm, Matt Nyce, and Rachel Ratner are Wimps.  And Wimps are punks.  If you have any doubt whether that is true, devote your ears to the slightly less than ten minutes of concise, angular, staccato punk spread out over the five tracks of Super Me.  Veteran musicians with a keen understanding of what makes punk work, and a maturely slacker perspective  for their music, this is the stuff to jump-start you whenever your you needs a jump-start.

Super Me is a digital download on Bandcamp and a cassette release from Kill Rock Stars.  And if you want more, the band plans an album release later this year.

Bandcamp for Super Me
Soundcloud for Super Me
Kill Rock Stars' order page for cassette version

Friday, August 7, 2015

"Wild Life" from Kevin Hunter

A couple of months ago we shared "Fire Burning" from Los Angeles producer Kevin Hunter (link).  Kevin has offered a second track, "Wild Life", which also is a free download at the Soundcloud link.


Jesus and Mary Chain - Live At Barrowlands

The Jesus and Mary Chain are one of my all-time favorite bands.  The Glasgow band's discography includes six LPs recorded between 1984 and 1998, and over a dozen compilations.  But their most talked about album, and the one that deservedly made them a band to watch, was their 1984 debut Psychocandy.  Over its 14 songs the combustible William and James Reid dished out their vision, comprised of  elements of Phil Spector's wall of sound, The Beach Boys, and The Velvet Underground.  Only in their case, the wall of sound arrived via the power of the guitar amps and, at times, a tidal wave of distortion.  For those of us that loved it, it was the perfect package of rebellion and pop music.  It wasn't anti-commercial -- the lads wanted to make it big and in my opinion deserved to make it big -- but it was uncompromising.

Three decades after arriving on the pop music scene, the Brothers Reid and some talented players gathered at Glasgow's venerable Barrowlands to play Psychocandy in its entirety.  The resulting Live At Barrowlands contains the entire performance of the original album, as well as the additional songs the band played that evening, including "April Skies", "Head On" and "Some Candy Talking".  For a live album, the sound mix is remarkably good, and three decades on the band still brings the heat and the melody.  Of course, if you were only to own one album from The Jesus and Mary Chain, it wouldn't be this one (likely unusually, for me it would be The Power of Positive Thinking, a B-sides, demos and rarities compilation).  But if don't already own at least some of the band's music, you aren't likely to still be reading this.  If you are a fan of the band, however, this album is a treasure, and not just for nostalgic reasons.  The performance that night has all the vitality and immediacy of a band in their prime.  Is was fiery and masterful, and give many fans the opportunity to experience a live-recorded performance from a band that you may never have been able to see live, and in any case didn't see a performance with this set of music.  For fans of the band, this is a necessary addition to your music library.

The album is available in CD, 2-LP vinyl and digital formats from Demon Music Group.

Album trailer:

Demon Music Group

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Have Gun, Will Travel - Science From An Easy Chair

You can take Science from an Easy Chair from Florida's Have Gun, Will Travel as another excellent addition to the catalog of southern rock typified in the recent decade by Drive-By Truckers.  Or you can take it as one of the few well executed concept albums; one on which the songs stand up artistically by themselves and in service to the overall theme.  But whatever you do, take the album.  It is that good.  It is southern rock, muscular pop, epic folk and Americana/country blended into a fantastic tapestry of music.

But what, you ask, is this business about a "concept"?  The concise answer is that Science from an Easy Chair is based on Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1916 Antarctic Expedition and commemorates its centennial.  The title of the album is taken from a book about popular science that the Shackleton's crew read aloud on the expedition.  When pitched to the label bosses at This Is American Music, one doesn't know whether the response was (1) Right, we've been hoping to release an album about that, (2) Oh shit, but if I say no you'll post the photos of me that you took after the Florida-Auburn game my senior year, (3) OK then, but we're even for the time I dropped your new fishing pole in the lake, or (4) I didn't catch what you said, let's talk later when we're sober.  But it doesn't matter, because in addressing a historic event of incredible hardship, endurance, bravery, teamwork and survival, Science from an Easy Chair embodies the spirit of the event in a highly entertaining and memorable fashion.  It should be noted that Shackleton's expedition is a launching platform, rather than a script, as the album actually appropriates the historical event to also tell a story of a band struggling to succeed in the music business.  Various aspects of these twin expeditions are told with via adept storytelling and inventive instrumentation, and with palpable clear-eyed sincerity.

I only have a few clips for you, so I will urge you to accept that in the case of this record, hearing is believing.  Try the songs below, and if they lead you to think I may be right about this album, stream it at the Bandcamp link.  I think you'll find it worthy of a portion of your music budget.

Have Gun, Will Travel is founder Matt Burke, Scott Anderson, Danny Burke, and Jean-Paul Beaubien.  Various other worthy musicians contributed as well, and are listed in the credits on the Bandcamp page.  Science from an Easy Chair is out now via This Is American Music and is available in vinyl, digital and CD formats.

This Is American Music

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"Bad Feeling" by Skin and Bones

Skin & Bones honed their sound busking in Southern California.  The core of the group is Taylor Borsuk, who sings and plays guitar, and Peter Blackwelder, who plays the violin both in conventional and less conventional ways.  For live shows, they sometimes call upon Amir Oosman (drums) and Bruce Stone (bass) to flesh out the sound.  Their sound is bluesy, folky, and lo-fi.  A particularly good introduction is the band' new single.  Why is it a good introduction?  Two reasons: (1) Very good song and very well performed; and (2) Free download.  We have the Soundcloud stream with a download button below, as well as a video of Taylor and Peter performing "Bad Feeling" and "Fire".  You also can check out their 2013 LP Someday Soon at their website link (the digital download is 'name your price').  Personally, I have a good feeling about this "Bad Feeling".

Soundcloud for Bad Feeling

Video for "Mr. Music" by Peter Astor

A few weeks ago I wrote about Peter Astor's new two-song single Mr. Music (link), which is released via Fortuna POP!  I love the title track, so I don't need much of an excuse to post it again.  My chance came today when the label published a video for the song, starring Pete Astor in the flesh.  Enjoy!

Fortuna POP!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Seconds/JOYA Split LP

No parent likes to make choices that favor one child over another, and I imagine it is the same with ethical label bosses as well.  So we applaud our friends at Soft Power Records, who resolved the dilemma of whether to release an EP from Glasgow band Seconds or London band JOYA by releasing both.  At the same time.  On the same record.  So world, welcome the Seconds/JOYA Split LP.

Seconds are Hillary Van Scoy, Josh Longton, Richard McGowan, and Joan Sweeney.  Some or all of the players have been on these pages before, but in other projects such as Aggie Doom and Blood of the Bull.  As Seconds, it was love-at-first-song ("Crawl Space") for me.  Propulsive drumming, throbbing bass, vamping keys, snarling guitar bursts and chanted female vocals.  The themes are smeared portions of grit, darkness, lust, longing and sweetness.  There is nothing shy or restrained about their six contributions, and nothing subtle about the music's affect on your limbs.  You simply cannot sit still for these songs, and you'll likely play them more than a few times.  Without a doubt, this is a band I want to see live.

On their half of the album, JOYA produce an appealing brand of straight ahead, 90s-style guitar rock with some slacker vibes.  You know the types, they never appear like they are trying real hard while they do what they do better than you do.  Don't hate them, it is their burden to live up to their promise.  This band is very versatile, and has a bright future.

Half the tracks are available to stream below (I couldn't resist), and the entire album can be heard at the Bandcamp and Soundcloud links.  However, don't think long about this one, as the LP is only available on vinyl, and there are only 250 copies.

Facebook for Seconds
Facebook for JOYA
Bandcamp for album
Soundcloud for album
Soft Power Records
JOYA on Bandcamp
JOYA on Twitter

Monday, August 3, 2015

Introducing: The Legendary House Cats

I suppose if the world were entirely fair, we wouldn't need to introduce legends, but we suspect that some of you may be unfamiliar with The Legendary House Cats, so here we go.  The Legendary House Cats is the solo project of John Girgus,  A Los Angeles-based songwriter, guitarist and producer, Girgus also is a member of Aberdeen, Languis (subject of this recent post) and Non Ultra Joy.  He also has collaborated with a number of other bands, including The Luxembourg Signal, whose 2014 debut LP was well received here.

It seems to me that The Legendary House Cats work the intersection of shoegaze, post punk, atmospheric rock and electro-pop.  Guitars layer on top of a keyboard and percussion foundation, with melodic vocals riding the sonic wave.  And Girgus recently offered an excellent introduction via the two-track Kind Words single.  The title track is an soaring shoegaze song with a relentlessly driving backbeat.  The accompanying "Falling From So High" is a dynamic reworking of a Languis song that appeared on the recording linked in the previous paragraph.

If you are interested in buying the single, hit the Bandcamp link below.  You also can explore other releases from The Legendary House Cats at the Bandcamp page.