Friday, August 18, 2017

The Ocean Party - Beauty Point

Seven albums in as many years is a prodigious feat for any pop band simply in terms of quantity.  But The Ocean Party isn't a band that deserves to be measured solely by physical weight or volume of their production.  This is a band that delivers style and substance in equal measure.  Six adept musicians provide multiple guitars, bass, percussion, keys, and even a sax (that always scores points with this old sax player), creating a sound that is rich and varied.  Moreover, with six talented songwriters, there isn't the pressure that often exists with other bands for one or two members to write an album's worth of worthy material.

The latest release, Beauty Point, finds the band with their sharpest writing to date, albeit with the somewhat more ambivalent perspective and broodier observations that tend to come with age and experience.  But darker shadings aside, the songs invariably sound gorgeous, and frequently feature uptempo arrangements.  Moreover, it is an endearing feature of this band that its members so ably help shape and refine each songwriter's compositions.  The friendship and mutual respect is palpable.  But that isn't just a guess, as I watched the band interact while waiting to perform their set at the Victory Lounge in Seattle this Spring on the final stop of a long tour.  This is a close knit group.

If, despite the multiple songwriters, The Ocean Party has a predominant style, it is a hazy guitar pop.  While not lo-fi (the production here is excellent), there is a hazy summer beach day vibe to a number of the tracks, although tracks like "Quiet Life" provide an anxiously taut, and thoroughly delightful, counterpoint.  It is nearly impossible to select representative songs to illustrate the content of the album because of the varied compositions and, more importantly, the uniform quality.  But select we must (it is an office rule), so we have a few here that struck me on the most recent front to back play of the album -- the fourth this afternoon.  In any case, we had to include "More To Run", as we think it is one of the top ten pop songs of the year ("Runaway" gave it a run in the office vote).  Beauty Point is a top ten album for us, without question.  But we encourage you to determine it for yourself by streaming it at one of the Bandcamp links below.

The Ocean Party are Jordan Thompson, Liam Halliwell, Curtis Wakeling, Lachlan Denton, Zac Denton, and Crowman.  Beauty Point is available from Emotional Response Records in North America and Spunk Records in Australia and New Zealand.  We have provide the relevant links below.

Emotional Response Records page for album (digital)
Emotional Response Records page for vinyl
Spunk Records page to order CD
Spunk records page to order vinyl
The Ocean Party's Bandcamp site for Beauty Point

"If I Really Loved Her" by Acid Tongue

If you are like us, there are certain bands you enjoy and you wish they would gift us with more music.  One such band for us is Acid Tongue.  Formerly of Seattle and not based in New York, they
are masters of a gritty, soulful version of psychedelic and garage rock.  Their previous output is only a couple of EPs, but in October they are releasing a full length titled Babies via Seattle/LA/NYC label Freakout Records.  Press play for album track for the band's version of a love song, "If I Really Loved Her", and learn why we care about this band.

The band will be touring heavily this fall.  The dates and locations are at the bottom of the post.

Bandcamp for Babies
Freakout Records order page for Babies

Tour Dates:
8/28 – Boston, MA – Zuzu Bar
9/1 – New York, NY – Berlin
9/2 – Brooklyn, NY – Alphaville
9/19 – Brooklyn, NY – The Gateway (Euro Tour Kickoff)
9/27 – Brighton, UK – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
9/28 – Hull, UK – ADELPHI
9/29 – London, UK – The Shackwell Arms
9/30 – Portsmouth, UK – The Birdcage
10/1 – Cambridge, UK – Blue Moon
10/2 – Bruxelles, BE – Le Chaff
10/3 – Mannheim, DE – Kurzbar
10/7 – Biarritz, FR – Savsage Festival
10/10 – San Sebastian, ES – DabaDaba
10/12 – Lisbon, PT – Damas
10/13 – Porto, PT – Mas Habitos (Babies LP Release Party)
10/14 – Sevilla, ES – Sala X
10/16 – Toulouse, FR – La Cave a Rock
10/17 – Imperia, IT – Arci Camalli
10/18 – Firenze, IT – Annibale Night @ NOF
10/19 – Roma, IT – Fanfulla 5/A
10/20 – Perugia, IT – T-Trane
11/3 – Reno, NV – Off Beat Festival
11/4 – Reno, NV – Off Beat Festival (2nd Chance)
11/17 – Seattle, WA – Freakout Festival
11/18 – Seattle, WA – Freakout Festival

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Rain Parade - Emergency Third Rail Power Trip / Explosions In The Glass Palace

I have a deep fondness for the sliver of musical history known as the "paisley underground".  Essentially, the style was jangle pop influenced by '60s garage rock and psychedelic influences.  Primarily a California-based movement in the 1980s, prominent bands included The Dream Syndicate, Green On Red, The Long Ryders, The Three O'Clock, The Bangles, and the subject of this post, the wonderful Rain Parade.  For me, the Rain Parade epitomized the sound, making beautiful music along the way.  I also thought the name was very cool, and an improvement over earlier label "The Moving Sidewalks".

The music of Rain Parade captured the delicacy of the best psychedelic pop, with economical melodic lines adorned with jangling guitars, solid rhythms and simple effects to tell dark shaded stories.  The songs were both appealing and imbued with a sense of mystery.  I've always regarded their first two albums, the nine-song Emergency Third Rail Power Trip released in '83 and the five-song Explosions In The Glass Palace released in '84, to be their best.  So I was thrilled to discover that Real Gone Music has reissued those records as a single album.  This results in one-stop shopping for a host of songs that established the outfit's reputation as standard bearers for West Coast psychedelic pop and still influences other bands.  The material has been remastered and the package includes extensive liner notes for the musical geek in all of us.

Real Gone Music page for CD

Agent blå - Agent blå

Every now and then it is a good idea to see what the teenagers are up to.  And in the case of Gothenburg teenagers Lucas Gustavsson, Emelie Alatalo, Felix Skorvald, Josefine Tack, and Arvid Christensen, they are contemplating the darker corners of life and turning their observations into a very fine album.  Calling themselves Agent blå (Agent blue) they dropped an impressively mature album of "deathpop" in June via Luxury Records and Kanine Records.  The album features ten tracks of post punk, Gothic indie pop, and dreampop (or is in nightmare pop?).  They can shake the walls, they can coo in your ears, and they can perform with conviction.  The kids are all right.

Bandcamp for album

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Swan's Beat" by David West with Teardrops

One of the October releases that we are eagerly anticipating is Cherry On Willow, by David West with Teardrops.  David West, an Australian living in New York, possesses an incredible musical pedigree, as a member of current bands Rat Columns, Liberation, Rank/Xerox, and previously with Burning Sensation, Lace Curtain,  and Total Control.  Recorded in New York, Glasgow and Western Australia, the album is already on regular rotation around the office.  You can have a taste here via the slinky "Swan's Beat".  It is very good, and there is a lot more where that came from.

Cherry On Willow will be out on October 20 via Tough Love Records.

Bandcamp for Cherry On Willow

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Depths (Pt. 1)" by Yumi Zouma

Today brings us the second song to be shared from Willowbank, the sophomore album from New Zealand's yummy Yumi Zouma.  Perfect for a sunny summer day, it helps us hang on to the final weeks of summer.  Or course, we'll be sad when summer is gone, but on at least when summer is gone we'll be closer to the October 6 release date for Willowbank.   The album will be released via Cascine, and the band will support it with tour dates in Europe, UK, and North America.  The dates are listed below.

Pre-Order page for Willowbank
Bandcamp for Willowbank

Yumi Zouma Tour Dates:
Fri. Oct. 6 - London, UK @ Omeara
Sun. Oct. 8 - Brighton, UK @ The Joker
Mon. Oct. 9 - Paris, FR @ L’Espace B
Wed. Oct. 11 - Copenhagen, DK @ VEGA Musikkens Hus - Ideal Bar
Thu. Oct. 12 - Stockholm, SE @ Debaser
Sun. Oct. 15 - Amsterdam, NL @ Sugarfactory
Wed. Oct. 18 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater*
Thu. Oct. 19 - San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop*
Fri. Oct. 20 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios*
Sat. Oct. 21 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza*
Mon. Oct. 23 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Tue. Oct. 24 - Washington, DC @ U Street Music Hall
Wed. Oct. 25 - New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge
Thu. Oct. 26 - Boston, MA @ Lilypad
Fri. Oct. 27 - Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz
Sat. Oct. 28 - Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha

Monday, August 14, 2017

Frankie Rose - Cage Tropical

In our view Frankie Rose's musical journey has led her to a very good place.  In terms of style, she has found a comfortable platform in the intersection of new wave, dreampop, and high gloss shoegaze.  In terms of content and attitude, she has reinforced confidence in her writing and performance.   The result is Cage Tropical, her new album for Slumberland Records.

Cage Tropical is a progression from Intersteller and Herein Wild, her two most recent albums and the first albums as she began to break away from the fuzz pop of her period with Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls, and first solo album under the banner of Frankie Rose and the Outs.  Perhaps writing the album in a different location and time -- during a difficult period struggling for success in Los Angeles -- was partially responsible.  But we are more inclined to believe that Rose has gained an enhanced appreciation for how to use all of the high production tools at her disposal to tell a story in a way that the story is still the focal point, rather than the gloss and full sound.  Make no mistake, the gloss, full sound, and Rose's otherworldly vocals shine to perfection.  There just is a lot of substance to go with it, as well as quieter moments delicately constructed by infused with crackling emotion.  The result is a record that is as intelligent as it is entertaining, and is a testament to the artist's continued growth and personal tenacity.

Cage Tropical is out now in all formats via Slumberland Records.

Slumberland Records


Public Service Broadcasting - Every Valley

And now for something rather different.  Public Service Broadcasting is not, as the name suggests, a public broadcasting system.  Rather, it is an electronic, multimedia pop project spawned by a multi-instrumentalist/songwriter and drummer calling themselves J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wigglesworth, respectively.  What is different about the duo, other than their names, is that the vocals on their songs are spoken word clips provided by guest performers, interviews or samples extracted from educational films and old news reports (hence, 'public service broadcasting').  Their latest album is Every Valley, a concept album about the rise and demise of the coal industry in Wales.  They moved to Wales to research and record the album, and interviewed residents and historians.  Now this may all sound a bit strange, but the interesting thing is that it really is a very enjoyable album.  There is a reason that they have been chosen to open for the Rolling Stones, among others.  Whether you are happy in your own musical rut, or restlessly looking for something new, Every Valley deserves your ears.

The music on Every Valley is dynamic, expansive and propulsive.  The unusually rendered vocals are captivating, informative, and include interviews with residents of towns in Wales affected by the shut down of the coal mines.  And it isn't only relevant to the coal industry, as dying industries in other places and in other countries have had a significant impact on the regions and their inhabitants. The joy here is that Public Broadcasting Service make the story compelling and topical without losing sight of the need to entertain.  Their work is meticulously detailed and performed.  In addition to archival samples, additional guest vocals are provided by Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers, and singer-actress Lisa Jen Brown, among others.

Every Valley is out now on vinyl, digital and CD formats via Play It Again Sam.

Play It Again Sam

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Cinema Red and Blue - Come Back To The City, Babyface / The Captain's Song

Completely out of the blue, here are two delightful songs from Cinema Red And Blue.  And who is that, you ask.  Well -- and thanks for asking -- it is some collection of conspirators from Comet Gain, Crystal Stilts and Pale Lights (at least according to legend and supposition) recording songs crafted by David Feck of Comet Cain and recorded with Gary Olson at Marlborough Farms (which may not be a farm and may not look as grand as the name, but it has birthed some really good music).   Phil Sutter, Kyle Forester, Andy Adler, JB Townsend, and Christian Townsend may all have been involved as well

The songs are the soaring, slightly retro guitar pop "Come Back To The City, Babyface" and the moodier "The Captain's Song".  These are slices of pop joy with a big heart.  I don't know when they were recorded, but they see the light of day now by reason of the sad demise of beloved indie pop label Fortuna POP!  While the label is closing its doors, it refuses to do so without delivering the promised goods to the subscribers to its singles club.  And this record certainly qualifies as "the goods".


"Do You Really" by Licks

Time for smooth. Really, really smooth.  We're talking about "Do You Really?", the musical love poem the Wellington, New Zealand songwriter and producer known as Licks wrote for his wife.  The song is just about perfect.  The only flaw is that it makes the rest of us look bad by not doing something like this for our significant other.  Thanks a lot, Licks.

"Do You Really?" is our now on Sunset Revelry, the label run by Alexander Reid of another New Zealand favorite around here, Honey.  The track is available at the Bandcamp link below or your other favorite digital platform.  Listen to more of Licks' music at the Soundcloud link below.

Bandcamp for single