Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Tall Ships (San Diego, CA) - On Tariffs and Discovery

Love them or hate them, one thing the concentrated power of record labels seemed to do was keep multiple bands from getting to the stage of releasing an album while still having the same name as another band doing the same thing... well, things have changed. Sometimes I will hear something, make a note to myself to look the artist up, and that's that. Later when I have time, I'll look 'em up and see what I think. Here's a case where the band I heard has led me not only to their own good music (check the immediately preceding post featuring Tall Ships from Brighton, UK), but to another really good band, as well - these guys from San Diego, CA USA.

New to me, though it's been out since February. This is a San Diego band, a trio: Steve Kuhn on guitars and vocals, Kyle Conwell on bass, guitars and vocals and Keith Andrew on drums and percussion. I like their sound, reminds me a little bit of Pinback, Modest Mouse, and maybe Eleventh Dream Day... you can check out a song for yourself at their label site (link below). Good stuff, well worth your time.

Here's a video of them performing (rehearsing) "Freight Train Riders of America" which is on the album:

Tall Ships at Minority Records

Tall Ships (Brighton, UK) - There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here

Love them or hate them, one thing the concentrated power of record labels seemed to do was to keep multiple bands, at least multiple bands at the stage of recording and releasing whole record albums, from having the same name. In this new DIY, fragmented music world where an artist is empowered to create, produce and market music on its own and there are full-service labels in cities all over the world, this was probably inevitable. I recalled hearing a track by a band called "Tall Ships", went online to search and found a really good band called Tall Ships in San Diego, California USA (see immediately following post). I wrote about them because I liked their sound. But, you know what? I was actually looking for this band, because the song that drove me to look into the band in the first place was "Plate Tectonics".

Here's the video for "Plate Tectonics" from There Is Nothing But Chemistry Here:

I'm sure that there are seaside communities all around the world full of young men who are entranced by the concept of taking to the sea on tall ships, and so there may be perfectly good bands with that name in New Zealand, Alaska and Maine for all we know. But the ones in Brighton, UK and San Diego, CA are both real good and we at WYMA don't think you should discriminate or make the mistake of thinking "I've heard one, I've heard them all". You've heard from the Californians, check out the Brits. Members are listed as Jamie, Ric and Matt.

Latest tracks by Tall Ships

Tall Ships (Brighton, UK) Myspace Website

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-25: Trwbador; Clams Casino; Top Girls

Tonight we visit Wales, New Jersey and North Carolina. Actually, you do. I've already listened to them and I'm going to run the Torchlight 8K.

Trwbador is a Welsh band consisting of Owain Gwilym and Angharad Van Rijswijk. They call their music folktronica. Trwbador have released two EPs, It Snowed A Lot This Year and Sun In The Winter EP. Their sound is a precocious wide-eyed wonder kind of pop.

Sun In The Winter EP by Trwbador

Clams Casino is the performance name used by Mike Volpe, from New Jersey, whose primary fame is in building backing tracks for rappers. However, he now is becoming known for his own more chilled out tracks consisting of his own beats and samples of other artists. He recently released the Rainforest EP on Tri Angle, and not long ago he released Instrumental Mixtape.

"She's Hot", from Mixtape

"Treetop", from Rainforest

"Waterfalls", from Rainforest


Top Girls is Evan from North Carolina, and he makes ambient, electronic, gaze pop, and soul music. What do all those terms mean, especially when mashed together? Click the play button below and find out.

Rise, released this month.

Attraction, released in June 2010.


Friday, July 29, 2011

The Soul Corner - "You're No Good"

The Soul Corner's following is small but loyal. And we aim to please. One of our most enthusiastic readers, a Notre Dame grad of course, told me just today about liking earlier posts with rich context, as when we unearth unheralded original versions or present overshadowed siblings.

So this week in a shameless effort to please our favorite fan, the Soul Corner presents both - an unheralded original version by an overshadowed sibling.

I'm guessing that few of you know the original version of "You're No Good" by Dee Dee Warwick. (Did Dee Dee Ramone take his name from her? I have no idea but it would be cool if he did). Yes, Dee Dee is Dionne's sister. That's a tough break right there. Good luck naming 5 better 60's R&B singers than Dionne Warwick.

Dee Dee's potential hit song was produced by the great team of Leiber and Stoller. It seemed to have it all going on.

But somehow the more pleasant and jazzy version by Betty Everett climbed higher on the R&B charts just months after Dee Dee's release in 1963.

Of course the mega-hit version was in 1974 by Linda Ronstandt. You know it and love it. And let's be clear here - Linda Ronstandt is a truly great singer. As good as it gets - Dionne Warwick good.

The song was later covered by Elvis Costello, Reba McEntire, Ike and Tina Turner, Van Halen, Michael Bolton and many others.

But Dee Dee Warwick's version was first, and not to be forgotten. When she proclaims "you're no good" or says "left a scar", there is no doubt she means it. And that whole party line of "feeling better now that we're through"? I'm not buying that.

Get to Know: We Are Augustines

One of my favorite bands a few years ago was Brooklyn-based Pela. I thought their LP, Anytown Graffiti was excellent and earned them the right to stardom. Regardless of the validity of my opinion, the public was not completely on message. As the group worked to record a follow up, a variety of tensions, including contractual and financial issues, pulled the group apart. The album wasn't finished, but the group was. The entire story is longer and more complicated, and is available on their Website linked below.

Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson of Pela stayed together, becoming over time, Augustines, and now We Are Augustines. The album they created is Rise Ye Sunken Ships, which was released last month as a digital only release on iTunes. "Book of James", which I've provided below, was written by McCarthy after his brother James, a diagnosed schizophrenic, committed suicide. In my view, it is the centerpiece of the album.

"Book of James":

The wonderful "Augustine", which gave rise to the band's name:

Most of the album was written while Pela still existed. The songs reflect the turmoils of the band, and the various components of McCarthy and Sanderson's lives. Both come from family backgrounds of substance abuse, and McCarthy's mother, as well as his brother, was schizophrenic. With that emotional weight, the album could have been a weepy morass. Instead, it is a triumph born of excellent songwriting and heartfelt performances. The songs are confessional, and speak to the potential for redemption. The sound has a blue collar, anthemic indie rock feel pleasantly reminiscent of Springsteen.

McCarthy and Sanderson have added drummer Rob Allen to the group. Oxcart Records is listed as their label.

We'll close with "Chapel Song", which has a more mid-tempo pop feel to it:

We Are Augustines "Chapel Song" from Matthew Mills on Vimeo.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 21: United Fruit; John Wean

We have standards this week. They may be arbitrary, but at least they are standards. To be one of the bands in edition 21 of the New Sounds of Scotland, the band has to have two words to their name. They also need to present a contrast in sound from the other band. The winners are hard driving alt rockers United Fruit, which has just released an album, and engaging indie poppers John Wean, which has released their first proper single.

Unsigned Glasgow rockers United Fruit get in your face. Not in a bad way, it's just that they are rockers of a type less often seen and heard these days, and they understand that an assault on your senses is the way this music is played. And oh, they play it well. United Fruit's recent album, Fault Lines, hits with a frenetic pace from the opening note, and doesn't let up. If there is any justice in this music world, this album will mark their breakout.

The members of United Fruit are
Iskandar Stewart (vocals and guitar), Stuart Galbraith (guitar and vocals), Marco Panagopoulos (bass), and Ross Jenkins (drums).


Glasgow-based John Wean are Conor Cartwright (vocals and rhythm guitar), Jude Smith (vocals and bass guitar), Stuart Anderson (lead guitar), and Simon Coakley (drums). The band has been honing their indie pop sound for a couple of years now, leading to the recent release of the single, "Desperate Dan (She Told Me She Was Single)". The song is classic indie about a boy falling for a girl who fails to disclose that she has a boyfriend. A tough boyfriend.

Desperate Dan (she told me she was single) from John Wean on Vimeo.

While their isn't much recorded output from John Wean at this point, I'm betting that we will hear more good tunes from them in the future.


Cool Video Thursday

"Summer Solstice" by Crystal Antlers

"Is It Me" by The Kooks provides a bit of a history lesson regarding old technology.

"Legacy" by Alcoholic Faith Mission

Alcoholic Faith Mission - Legacy from Bryn Chainey on Vimeo.

"Easy" by Pure X

Pure X - "Easy" from Malcolm Elijah on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New song - Joe Henry "Odetta"

The only thing better than a new Joe Henry song is the promise of a new Joe Henry full release. And this exclusive piece from NPR previews a new song, "Odetta" from an upcoming record called Reverie due out in October.

Of course we here at WYMA are totally in the tank for all things Joe Henry. But damn does this sound good. Joe explains the song to NPR in his own words, and it's always a treat to get a peek behind the curtain from an artist of this magnitude.

Joe Henry web page, where he has more to say about Reverie:

REVIEW: Boston Spaceships - Let It Beard

Sometimes, when considering Robert Pollard's recorded output, the word "sprawling" seems small. But let's start there... Let It Beard is big, real big. Kind of like the sound of a good '70's arena rock band, that big. Six listens through, and I still don't have a favorite song big... but the early candidate is certainly the four minute, sprawling (there's that word again, doing its best) "Tourist U.F.O." with its icing-on-the-cake J Mascis solo on the way out. "Hey, you got Mascis in my Pollard! No, you got Pollard in my Mascis!" But who's complaining?

Starting with the opener, "Blind 20-20", which changes at least four times in 3:03, this album is in fact a thrill ride and, as Pollard stated "a concept album about the sorry state of rock and roll"... the concept being, it would seem, "Let's quit screwing around with this precious crap and bring back the four P's". It's got all the ingredients of a great Pollard record: humorous double-take-inducing lyrical non-sequitirs, constant instrumental and tempo changes, razor-sharp guitars underpinned by a terrific rhythm section. Actually, in most cases it consists of Chris Slusarenko and John Moen underpinning, well, Chris Slusarenko, who does a great job both ways and is given credit for essentially pulling together the instrumental structure of the record. And please note well: Moen, who has played with Elliott Smith, Steven Malkmus and The Decemberists, is a hell of a rock drummer.

Other highlights include "I Took On the London Guys", featuring Steve Wynn on a very psychedelic-sounding lead guitar, "Make a Record for Lo-Life", which has a real Big Star swagger, "Let More Light in the House", which features a bit of prog art-rock - Soft Machine with banjos? Bob even sounds a little bit like Robert Wyatt to me on this one... "You Just Can't Tell" features some throbbing Colin Newman (Wire) punk guitar and "Chevy Marigold" will strike a chord with anyone who has a fancy for great blues-based rock music.

And to cover the Pop in the four P's, here's a nice ballad, "Christmas Girl", with a strong Pollard vocal and a sweet trumpet break :

Download Christmas Girl MP3

Pollard's fifth release this year is his best, and that is taking nothing away from the previous four, the Lifeguards' Waving At the Astronauts, Mars Classroom's The New Theory Of Everything and Pollard's Space City Kicks and Lord of the Birdcage. He's certainly in the zone with five quality discs just a little over halfway through the year, not to mention wrapping up the GbV Classic Lineup Reunion Tour. Folks, let's hear it for the Iron Man McGinnity of rock and roll.

Boston Spaceships Website

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

REVIEW: Motopony -- Motopony

I like bands that can describe their music in interesting ways. Seattle/Tacoma's Motopony describes their music as "glitch folk", "hard soul", and "hope and roll", and they sum it up as "Chief Seattle's revenge channeled through a hybrid engine drone". My translation is that Motopony plays indie pop with folk elements and a persuasive, but restrained, use of electronics. And on their recently released album, Motopony, they also are innovative and adventurous in finding ways to delight their listeners.

Motopony's flexibility is demonstrated by the first three tracks on the album. Album opener, "June", is an engaging dream pop piece reminiscent of Cloud Cult. The second track, the catchy "King of Diamonds", is the first single. Some have compared it to Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, but vocally and in terms of rhythm it reminds me of Rusted Root. In it, vocalist Daniel Blue sings of searching for something he realizes that he already has:

Motopony - King Of Diamonds from tinyOGRE on Vimeo.

"Seer", the following track, takes a very different approach, laying down a sinuous groove. While lyrically introspective, musically it is an invigorating bit of funk from the glitch poppers.

The band consists of Daniel Blue (vocals and guitar), Buddy Ross (beats and keyboards), Brantley Cady (lead guitar), and Forrest Mauvais (drums). Their ablum is on the tinyOGRE Entertainment label. The band presents many interesting facets: Excellent songwriting; a marriage of electronic and organic instrumentation; and unusual tunings. This debut album, and all of its components are a success, but it might be worth buying just for the gorgeous "God Damn Girl", which begins with the repeated phrase 'God damn girl your wounds are beautiful'. I don't have a studio recording of the song to share with you, but here is a version from a live show.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Richard Buckner - Our Blood ... streaming on NPR ... out next Tuesday

If you know Richard Buckner's music, you're as excited as I am about this release...

Here's the link to the NPR streaming site (which will probably be taken down after August 2)...

And here's a link to Buckner's website, with a tempting offer of a limited release bonus track, "Willow", if you preorder on iTunes.

On first listen, this is exactly what I'd hoped it would be and, like all previous Buckner records, so much more than I'd have reason to hope for. His voice, his guitar work and the arrangements are spare, haunting and absolutely beautiful. I can't think of anyone outside Neil Young who can use an acoustic guitar and his voice (with some hushed piano, slide guitar or synthesizer in places) to evoke this much feeling. For example, listen to the piano backdrop to "Collusion", and the overlay of piano, synthesizer and deep acoustic guitar behind his sparse vocals on "Thief".

Buckner will be touring with David Kilgour in the second half of August. Sounds like a great double bill to me... and these are already two of my favorite records of 2011.

REVIEW: Brilliant Colors -- Again and Again

In terms of geography, Brilliant Colors reside in neither Scotland nor New Zealand, but very roughly between the two in San Francisco. But musically the band seems to have one foot in the Creation Records/C-86 camp, and the other in the Blue Nun camp. The result on their new album, Again and Again, on Slumberland Records is jangly, noise pop bliss with a punch.

"'Round Your Way"

Brilliant Colors - 'Round Your Way from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

Again and Again is a developmental step for the three ladies that comprise the band -- Jess, Diane and Michelle. The more punk stylings of their earlier album often are embellished here by engaging melodies, warm guitars and confessional, wistful songs, such as "How Much Younger".

However, the punkier, and darker, side edges back into the mix with songs like "Back to the Tricks", below, or "Painting Truths".

Again and Again eschews traveling a broad spectrum of influences and styles to provide a cohesive, even disciplined, set of perfect summer music. And its been on daily rotation on the Rocksteady74 players since summer arrived in Seattle (which was less than a week ago, unfortunately).

By the way, album track "Cult Face" reminds me of The Shop Assistants, and that is a foolproof tactic for getting my attention.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

REVIEW: Joey Ryan and the Inks - Dennis Lane

Don't know exactly what they've got in the water in Minneapolis-St. Paul, but whatever it is, it's got folks making really catchy, melodic rock music. In addition to MN rockers Rogue Valley, who inspired a WYMA post earlier this week, Joey Ryan and the Inks (who were also featured on here a while back) have got a new one, Dennis Lane, coming out July 30. Extremely catchy and well-crafted, Ryan's band does pop-rock as well as anybody playing today.

In the reviews on the band's website, there are some comparisons to the Beach Boys, and I guess in terms of melody and the harmony vocals, there's a comparison to be made, but I don't think that's the first place I'd go for a comparison. To me, Joey Ryan and the Inks' music more calls to mind some of the great Southeast pop rock titans like the dB's, Let's Active and the Connells, and later, Superchunk. There's even a little bit of R.E.M.-style jangle.

Here's a video of them performing "Jester In the Wind" in The Current (Minnesota Public Radio, 89.3) studios:

Dennis Lane is a good listen from start to finish, bright and sunny in places, rocking in others, easy on the ears without being insubstantial. While very catchy on first listen, it stands up very well to repeated play. The songs are all well-done, the rhythm section is strong, there's a very pleasing variety of guitar sounds... and Ryan is a great singer for this type of music.

You can listen to "The Troubled Poet" from Dennis Lane, as well as several songs from the previous album Well, Here We Are Then, at the band's website:

Joey Ryan and the Inks Website

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-24: Amy Winehouse; Guerre; Bachelorette; Lindstrom & Christabelle

Edition 24 comes with two songs from Amy Winehouse, who died in London today, two young acts from down under, and a collaboration from Norway.

RIP Amy Winehouse. Troubled and undeniably talented, I see no point in blathering about the matter. She put out a couple of very good albums with a few brilliant songs. And "Rehab" is one:

And "Back to Black"

Guerre (AKA Lavurn Lee) is an ambient, electro-pop/soul beatsmith and singer from Sydney, Australia. He released the 7 track album Darker My Love in June 2011. Guerre's music seems perfect for those late, weekend night moments.

There also is a remix set of the album tracks available at Bandcamp.

Bandcamp (for the album)
Bandcamp (for various singles)
Soundcloud (many tracks)
Tumblr (main website)

Bachelorette is New Zealander Annabel Alpers. Currently living in New York, she calls her music "psychedelic computer folk". Her recently released album, Bachelorette, manages to combine girl group style pop and psychedelia on an electronic platform. "Blanket" and "Polarity Party" are from the new album. Bachelorette is released by Drag City in the United States.


"Polarity Party"

"Her Rotating Head" (from the 2009 release)

Drag City

Lindstrom & Christabelle is a two person Oslo, Norway act. Their music covers downbeat, dance and electronic psychedelic. The 2010 LP Real Life is No Cool included the smashing "Lovesick".

Friday, July 22, 2011

REVIEW: Black Wine - Summer of Indifference

This is our fourth piece featuring a band on the New Jersey-based label Don Giovanni Records. I'd say that's overdoing it, if the stuff wasn't so good. Black Wine has a very interesting sound (really, a combination and overlap of sounds) On their Bandcamp page they use the label "psych punk", which works for me, and really, I'd say they cover all four P's in different places. The band consists of Jeffrey Schroeck, Miranda Taylor and Jason Nixon, and apparently all three write and sing. Listening to Summer of Indifference, I find myself veering from Minutemen to Creedence to Black Flag as, if not influences, analogues. And they all apply, in different places.

If you're looking for some punk rock that somehow combines hardcore tendencies with pop-punk catchiness over the course of nine fairly short songs (longest just under 4:00, five under 3:00), this is well worth checking out.

Here's "Through the Foam"... I really like this song a lot, and I think it gives a good sense of their sound, their talent and why they remind me of the Minutemen:

And here's "End of Days" so you can hear Taylor's vocals, too. Check out the cannot have a good punk band without a great drummer:

Here's the Bandcamp site:

The album was released in late June, they're on tour currently with Brick Mower:

Fri. July 22-Wilkes-Barre, PA
Sat. July 23-Syracuse, NY
Sun. July 24-Buffalo, NY
Mon. July 25-Cleveland, OH
Tue. July 26-Ann Arbor, MI
Wed. July 27-Dayton, OH
Thu. July 28-Chicago, IL
Fri. July 29-Appleton, WI
Sat. July 30-Duluth, MN
Sun. July 31-Minneapolis, MN
Mon. August 1-Iowa
Tue. August 2-Milwaukee, WI
Wed. August 3-Bloomington, IN
Thu. August 4-Cincinnati, OH
Fri. August 5-Columbus, OH
Sat. August 6-Hanover, PA

Black Wine Facebook page

Don Giovanni Website

Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - "Green Onions"

Booker T and the MG's "Green Onions" is an all-time classic. It's 12-bar blues rhythm, clean Hammond organ lines, Steve Cropper's surf style guitar lines, Al Jackson's drumming and the song's perfect structure are so distinctive and memorable that the song is etched in our brains and an iconic moment in American culture. It's damn near our Beethoven's 5th. You almost forget it is an instrumental -- and wouldn't even the best lyrics and singing merely get in the way?

The title came from a cat named Green Onions in the cartoon Green Badger; the cat's style of walking is said to have inspired the distinctive organ line.

Here's a great live version that appears to be from a TV show:

And then there's this one from 1966 on the TV show Shindig:

New Sounds of Scotland-Part 20: Dolfinz; Maydays

This week's edition features two unsigned bands. But do not read "unsigned" as "just OK bands". Both bands are very good, and should have a good future. Trust me, I've been sent albums from recognized labels in recent months that are nowhere as good as the music from Dolfinz and Maydays.

First challenge is how to describe Dolfinz an unsigned band from Stonehaven, Scotland. My best effort is that they live in the garage band neighborhood, somewhat close to the border with the grunge neighborhood, and taking lo-fi transportation to work. However, I emphasize that Dolfinz are not just another garage band. Their songs are catchy; their guitars delightfully hooky. And as indicated by the name of the band and the titles of some of the songs, the boys eschew the over-seriousness that infects many young bands.

I would not be surprised to see this band's star rise rapidly, and you can get in on the ground floor by downloading any or all of six tracks at the Soundcloud link below. Apparently, among the lads' fine qualities is a useful generosity!

"Hot Pants"
HOT PAN†S by DðlfinZ

"Coral Reefer"



Maydays originate from Caithness in far northeastern Scotland, but apparently now reside in the Edinburgh area. The band has endured some lineup changes, but now consists of Joe (vocals), Swannie (guitar), Kev (guitar), Tittles (organ), Calvin (bass), and Darren (drums). Their music is well crafted indie pop. But you don't have to trust my opinion, you can listen to, and download, three songs below.

"Eternal Optimist"
Eternal Optimist by maydays

Routine by maydays

"Meikle Ferry Roundabout"
Meikle Ferry Roundabout by maydays


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Video Update: A Band's Just Gotta Have Fun....

Fruit Bats gave "You're Too Weird" from their new album Tripper this utterly awesome send up of 1980s era music videos. Chest hair, blow dry, wind machines, lace, porn 'staches and the works. It must have been fun to make, and it is fun to watch.

Cool Video Thursday

"Shake the Shackles" by Crystal Stilts

Crystal Stilts "Shake The Shackles" from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

"Do You Really Wanna Know" by Papercuts

Papercuts- Do You Really Wanna Know (OFFICIAL VIDEO) from Sub Pop Records on Vimeo.

"Sweet Tooth" from Kids on a Crime Spree

Kids On A Crime Spree - Sweet Tooth from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

"'Round Your Way" by Brilliant Colors

Brilliant Colors - 'Round Your Way from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

I don't know much about this one. It is listed as a promo, with the participants being Aestrid, Samantha Whates, Allert Aalders, Jesse van den Doren.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"It's a Burning Hell"

William Faulkner died and was buried in Mississippi 49 years ago last week, and William Styron went to his funeral. I have tried explaining to those who have never experienced it the sheer oppressiveness of high summer in the American South, and must always return to Styron's simple description of his friend's funeral:

"But the first fact of the day, aside from that final fact of a death that has so diminished us, is the heat, and it is a heat which is like a small mean death itself, as if one were being smothered to extinction in a damp woolen overcoat. Even the newspapers in Memphis, 60 miles to the north, have commented on the ferocious weather. Oxford lies drowned in heat, and the feeling around the courthouse square on this Saturday forenoon is of a hot sweaty languor bordering on desperation."

It surprised me when I learned that Raleigh and Oxford roughly share a latitude with Casablanca and Kirkuk, and the fact that I was surprised suggests to me that I must not have learned this in July. So with all respect to my blogmates, I do not think of breezy melodies and jangly guitars when I step outside in the North Carolina summer. In fact, the act of thinking itself makes me sweat. It inspires not lassitude, but frustration, anger and aggression. Thus, my July soundtrack would start off something like this:

Very few can do pure aggression like David Sardy, and that's why I'm putting two of his old band's songs next:

Killing Joke were doing aggro before just about anyone -- in fact if the dog providing opening harmonies in this song were still alive, it would be at least 210 (in dog years).

I hope David Yow lives in a cool climate. He's unsettled enough as it is.

My favorite current practitioners of the aggro craft are Allentown's Pissed Jeans. A buddy of mine from school was from Allentown. His name was Rom, and his first post-college job was driving a dynamite truck. Oh, and check out the angry sun in this video. Thematic consistency.

I'll sign off with classic Brainbombs (with nice Zep intro) -- "It's a Burning Hell."

Rogue Valley - False Floors (and three more just like it!)

Talk about ambitious... Rogue Valley is a Minneapolis-based rock band that in April released this record, which is described as the "fourth and final album (the Winter chapter) in a season album cycle".

It sounds great, and as with so much of the music I've discovered lately, I heard it on KEXP... "Onward and Over" was the song of the day podcast for June 21, 2011.

I'm looking forward to working my way through all four records, which are available for "name your price" at Rogue Valley's Bandcamp page:

And here's a video for "Cleaning Slates" from the Fall album, Geese in the Flyway:

Prolific, ambitious and talented, with a real good sound. If you like folk rockers like Joseph Arthur, Neil Halstead, The Kooks... do yourself a favor and give a listen.

Rogue Valley Website

New Music: A Few Recent Singles - Dum Dum Girls, The Drums, Discopolis, Veronica Falls

We've become aware of some new singles that might interest you, so we've collected them in this single post for your convenience.

"Coming Down" from Dum Dum Girls

The Drums
The Drums - Money by WorkItMedia

Discopolis with "Zenithobia"
Discopolis - Zenithobia by discopolismusic

"Come On Over" by Scottish/English Veronica Falls
Come On Over by Veronica Falls

Ballboy at Bandcamp

Yes, I know the title reads like an announcement that a sports mad child has elected to attend a bandcamp this summer rather than hone his skills at a sports camp, but that is just a coincidence, I assure you.

Our two prior posts regarding the music of Edinburgh's Ballboy (which can be found HERE and HERE) were well received. So when I learned that the band's sometimes-hard-to-find-in-the-US albums all are now available electronically through Bandcamp, we thought it would be information useful to pass on to the readers. The Bandcamp link is below, so have fun browsing, listening and choosing.

And just for fun, here is an embed of I Worked on the Ships. It is the Ballboy album with which I'm least familiar, but it contains a number of delightful songs.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Soundtrack: The History of Apple Pie

Unsigned London band The History of Apple Pie is a perfect addition to our mini Summer Soundtrack series. They feature a great indie sound with female vocals and uptempo melodies. The band consists of Stephanie Min (Vocals), Jerome Watson (Guitar), James Thomas (Drums), Kelly Owens (Bass and Backing Vocals), and Aslam Ghauri (Guitar). The single, "You're So Cool", was released on Roundtable Records in June.

"Science for the Young"

While the above tracks show the band's twee side, the following two versions of a couple of their songs demonstrate the ability of The History of Apple Pie to make some noise. The first is a chugging indie pop number called "Tug". The second is from a festival performance.

The History Of Apple Pie - Tug by The History Of Apple Pie


Monday, July 18, 2011

REVIEW: WU LYF - Go Tell Fire to the Mountain

Never let it be said that the Raleigh bureau of this far flung enterprise is avant anything. I pretty much learn about new music the way you do – over the internet. Every so often I’ll be lucky enough to see something live that hasn’t gotten properly appreciated on these here webs. That happened a few months ago with Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Within hours of that awesome set I had banged out what I assure you was going to be a groundbreaking post. I was going to be for UMO what Jon Landau was for Springsteen. Alas, you mix this Blogger program setup with a few beers and you eventually find that you have a new and unrelenting editor. So once I lost the post, I just said screw it and waited until they released their great new album to post about them. Actually waited until about a month after. Again, the Trailblazers are in Portland, not here.

So it is again with a measure of sheepishness that I crawl out from under my rock to make a pronouncement that is likely to generate a few “FRANCO STILL DEAD!” comments, and that is this: Manchester’s WU LYF have released a brilliant debut full length called Go Tell Fire to the Mountain that is more than worthy of the massive hype that has accompanied it. And although it’s been favorably reviewed by all the big names out there, I consider it my job to come through and authoritatively say, “Hey, those hipster d-bags were right this time.”

Check out the excellent tune “Spitting Blood”, here serving as audio accompaniment to a fan’s interesting, if violent, video interpretation.

According to the band’s entertainingly inscrutable website, the record was recorded in a church, and you certainly can hear the large space in the production. I’ve seen a dozen or so bands invoked to describe the music – from Arcade Fire (not really) to Explosions in the Sky (nice one). I’d also throw in Abe Vigoda, at least at certain of the more upbeat moments. More entertaining are the attempts to describe the vocals of Ellery Roberts – Issac Brock crossed with Tom Waits; Ian MacKaye crossed with Tom Waits; Tom Waits crossed with a drowning dachshund. Whichever of these is most apt, the combination is utterly original. This one is “Cave Song”.

There’s some good new live stuff from them that’s hit youtube in the past couple of weeks, suggesting that the band is a force onstage. Check all that stuff out, but don’t forget to buy the album. This is the studio version of the last tune, “Heavy Pop.”

The band website is definitely worth the petrol to get there.

Rockfour - The Beautiful World

Rockfour is an Israeli rock band that plays psychedelic guitar rock music. Just a little bit of backstory: In about 2000, they came to the states, were signed to the great psychedelic label Rainbow Quartz, went to Detroit to team up with Jim Diamond (Dirtbombs, White Stripes, etc) and produced two great albums in English. If you don't have them, please do yourself a favor and go get them.

[EDIT: please feel free to supplement my meager informational offering by reviewing their Wikipedia link, which is pretty comprehensive]

Now, it appears they have recorded their newest album The Beautiful World in Hebrew. It's terrific and if, like me, you find most rock lyrics to be secondary to the sound anyway, it's a great listen.

Check it out at their "Youtubeplayer":

If you have a strong desire to sing along and don't know Hebrew, fortunately there are five other really good Rockfour records for you to enjoy... from their early releases through the two Rainbow Quartz releases (Another Beginning and Nationwide), and their 2007 release on Cooking Vinyl, Memories of the Never Happened. Here's "Goes Around" form that record:

If you're fortunate, you might be able to scare up a used copy of For Fans Only, the fan club cd they put out containing great psych covers of bands like The Byrds, The Beatles, The Creation and Pink Floyd (check out this killer cover of "Astronomy Domine"):

Here's another Pink Floyd cover, "Arnold Layne":

They really are an amazing band, deserving of a much wider hearing. Do what you can...

Rockfour Website


New Sounds of Scotland-Part 19: Will Hanson; The Barents Sea

Will Hanson creates atmospheric and intense music with engaging pop sensibility. You'll probably hear elements of Nick Cave, The Delgados, Mazzy Star, Jeff Buckley and Portishead, all of which are among the many influences he cites in connection with his new album, Moving A Body, which will be released on August 22 by 12/26 Music. In advance of the album Will is releasing a double A-side, "Deathbed Conversion / The View From Ebury Bridge"

Hanson originally is from London, and spent time in New York as well. But sometime after the breakup of his former band, Proxy, he moved to Glasgow. I'm not familiar with Hanson's prior work, but I'm impressed with both songs on the double A-side.

"The UnGodly Hour"
The UnGodly Hour by Will Hanson


The Barents Sea is a post punk band from Perth, Scotland. The members are Grant George (vocals & guitar), Tom Mitchell (lead guitar), Kieran Andrews (bass) and Steve Cairns (drums). The band issued a free release in 2009. They released a single, "O’ Brother Of Mine", in 2010, and are working on an album and touring. Meanwhile, they will be giving away a free single "Born in a Ghost Town" in August. Here is a live version of that upcoming single.

"O’ Brother Of Mine", the debut single.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Modern Hut - "Wrong", new single out soon

Modern Hut is a new band featuring Joe Steinhardt of For Science, Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females and Fid of The Measure (SA), and they have released a two-song single. First song is "Wrong", which exhibits a definite Jesus & Mary Chain lean. The other song, "Life", features male/female vocal call and response over kind of a treated acoustic guitar sound, and some fairly dark lyrics... Siouxsie Sioux comes to mind, at least the way her vocals are done. Good stuff, and hopefully more to come.

Listen at Bandcamp, and see what you think:

Also, it's my understanding that you can see this combo if you're in the NYC/NJ area.

Modern Hut Tumblr Website

Modern Hut Bandcamp

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Midnight World Pop Scout-23: Lorelle Meets The Obsolete; Electric Wire Hustle

In this week's Midnight World Pop Scout we have just two bands. But the two bands are of great quality, and I know you'll forgive me.

Lorelle Meets The Obsolete is one of the more interesting discoveries I've made lately. The menu is noise pop, no-wave, psych from Guadalajara, Mexico, performed by Lorelle (vocals, electric guitar & electric bass) and The Obsolete (drums & percussion, electric bass, casiotone, electric & acoustic guitars). According to the notes from Bandcamp, they also had help from Hugo Quezada (supersonic pads, ring modulator, omnichord & electric bass treatment) for the On Welfare LP provided below.

On Welfare was released on May 24, 2011, on Captcha Records.

And here is a video for a live version of "Taken"

Lorelle Meets The Obsolete - Traveler (live at the Crack House) from LMTO on Vimeo.


Next on the bill is Electric Wire Hustle, which was brought to my attention by my fellow WYMA contributor, John Hyland. EWH is from Wellington, New Zealand. I'd describe the music as electronic soul with a bit of hip hop and trip hop. Nice groove, good vocals, good use of space and background. Their US, UK, European and Australian label is BBE. Their New Zealand label is Every Waking Hour. Their debut self-titled album has been out for a while. It isn't as well known as it deserves, but has received some very high praise.

Interesting video of the band in NYC:

Electric Wire Hustle_NYC from Foxtree Studio on Vimeo.

Here is the video for "Again"


'Perception' Electric Wire Hustle from Electric Wire Hustle on Vimeo.


REVIEW: Fan Modine - Gratitude for the Shipper

Press Photo 1

Fan Modine, based in Carrboro NC (adjacent to Chapel Hill), is singer-songwriter-guitarist-keyboardist Gordon Zacharias and an all-star cast of mostly local Tarheel musicians including ace guitar player Ash Bowie (Polvo).

Gratitude for the Shipper, Fan Modine's first new release in 6 yrs, is a lush pop joyride. It doesn't hurt to have the help of the Southern pop hall of famers - Chris Stamey producing and arranging the strings and horns, Mitch Easter helping out on guitars, and Peter Holsapple on steel guitar. For extra measure in regard to the Southern jangle pop history, the closing song "Waiting for the Distant Light" honors Big Star and the recently deceased Alex Chilton ("the star that shines so bright will reach us first").

This record should appeal strongly to the regular readers of WYMA's Scottish pop band series, although there is nothing low-fi going on here, as Gratitude for the Shipper is big, baroque pop in line with Belle & Sebastian and the Teenage Fanclub.

Every time it appears to be veering into territory a bit too er, twee, for my tastes, in come the great horn lines and big string arrangements, which give the songs a much more compelling sound and rich texture. And the big pop hooks are offset by Zacharias' sometimes dark and always interesting lyrical story lines.

You can listen to the entire release here, but I'd suggest starting with songs 2 ("Juju Road"), 6 ("Wormwood Scrubbs"), 8 ("Another Eventail") and especially the finale "Waiting for Distant Light", a compelling closer to a great pop record.

Band web page:

Online Concert: T in the Park

One of the largest of the summer festivals in the UK is Scotland's T in the Park. Here are some live performances from the BBC stage focusing on unsigned or relatively unknown bands. Several have been featured here before. We aren't showing headliners -- Beyonce doesn't need our help anyway. What nice people we are; a concert for your Saturday pleasure and you can watch it in your underwear.

Three songs from Bwani Junction. By the way, my personal view is that this guitar pop band has a great sound and a really good future. I'm looking forward to their debut album release later this year. It already has been recorded at Chem 19 studios by Paul Savage.

I'm remiss in not profiling Three Blind Wolves in my New Sounds of Scotland series. Here is a good set of their Americana influenced sound.

The set from Edinburgh's Kid Canaveral. Their 2010 self-release Shouting At Wildlife is being re-released this month by the Fence Collective.

Here is the set from the rockers Xcerts.

The Mars Patrol hails from Edinburgh, but now resides in London.

Friday, July 15, 2011

R.E.M. wakes up the astronauts

This video from the NASA web page is pretty cool:

Laura Stevenson and the Cans - Sit Resist

This is a very talented young Brooklyn band on New Jersey-based Don Giovanni Records (same label as recently-featured Screaming Females). Knocked out by the first run through, I wanted to give Sit Resist a few listens to see if it stands up... and it just got better.

Here's the video for "Master of Art"... like a lot of good artists, they aren't easy to pigeonhole, but everything they try seems to succeed. There's a bit of Spector "wall of sound" going on here:

And here's a link to download "Master of Art".

As I said, there's a lot of variety here. The common element is Stevenson's voice, which is clear, bright and stands out no matter whether the song is a rocker, a country or folk ballad, or even, in one case, what sounds like a sea chantey.

Highly recommended, and we should expect to hear more from this band as they gain a wider audience; they exhibit the kind of talent and work ethic that makes indie rock worth seeking out.

They're playing a few dates in the Northeast soon:

Thursday, July 28 - Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s (with Air Waves) - 8PM
Saturday, August 13 - Brooklyn, NY @ Europa - 6PM
Thursday, August 25 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s

For our European readers, good news... they're touring over there in September:

02/09/11 Berlin (DE), Lovelite
03/09/11 Dresden (DE), The Sound Of Bronkow Festival
04/09/11 Hamburg (DE), Astrastube
05/09/11 Koeln (DE), Tsunami
06/09/11 Paris (FR), Café de la Danse
08/09/11 Amsterdam (NL), Paradiso
10/09/11 Haarlem (NL), Patronaat
11/09/11 Southampton (UK), The Joiners
12/09/11 Cardiff (UK), 10 Feet Tall
13/09/11 Glasgow (UK), Nice’n’Sleazy
14/09/11 Nottingham (UK), The Maze
15/09/11 Manchester (UK), Castle Hotel
16/09/11 London (UK), Windmill Brixton
18/09/11 Grenoble (FR), Le Ciel w/ Nadeah
19/09/11 Zuerich (CH), Hafenkneipe
20/09/11 Padova (IT), Carichi Sospesi
21/09/11 Carpi (IT), Mattatoio
22/09/11 Martigny (CH), Les Caves du Manoir
23/09/11 Luzern (CH), Treibhaus
24/09/11 Dachau (DE), Kultur-Schranne
26/09/11 Erfurt (DE), Franz Mehlhose
29/09/11 Graz (AT), Forum Stadtpark w/ Handsome Furs
30/09/11 Celje (SI), Kino Metropol
01/10/11 Vienna (AT), Haus der Musik Festival

Buy at Don Giovanni Website

Laura Stevenson and the Cans Website

Free EP from Honeydrum: Pleasures of the Sun

One of our favorite lo-fi acts, Honeydrum, released their new EP today, and it is available for the attractive price of FREE.

Stream Pleasures of the Sun here, and download at the Bandcamp link below:


Old Stuff Friday - The Soul Corner - Donny Hathaway

The 70's get a bad rap. Everyone gushes about the great 60's stuff from the British Invasion to soul to garage rock and on and on. The Summer of Love, can you dig it? Sure, yeah.

But the 70's were not just disco and bad prog rock. Soul music became more experimental, more political, and in many ways more musical, certainly less formulaic. We've looked at some great 70's artists here at the Soul Corner - Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, etc.

As one highly informed Soul Corner reader suggested his week, it's time to shine a spotlight on the late Donny Hathaway - extraordinary singer, composer, arranger, keyboardist. Not a lot of soul or rock songwriters cite Stravinsky and Debussy as influences as Hathaway did.

Hathaway is perhaps best known for his duets with college classmate Roberta Flack, including "Where is the Love."

Here's a live version of "Everything is Everything" that shows off his deep soul and musical chops:

And for his gut-wrenching emotional vocals, check out this live cover of the Leon Russell classic "Song for You":

As many of you know, this story did not end well. Hathaway's death in a New York City hotel in 1979 was ruled a suicide. It followed a lifetime struggle with severe depression. But he left behind great work and a powerful musical legacy.