Monday, April 30, 2012

September Girls - "Wanting More / Secret Lovers" single

September Girls are five young women from Dublin, who are bringing their own version of fuzzy, reverb-drenched, garagey girl group sounds to the masses.  Today they are releasing their single "Wanting More / Secret Lovers.  Both tracks are provided below for your consideration.  I think it is charming stuff--give it a try.

The members of the band are Sarah, Lauren, Jessie, Caoimhe, and Paula.  The single is released on Soft Power Records, based in Livingston (Scotland), UK.

Soft Power Records

REVIEW: High on Fire -- De Vermis Mysteriis

Hey, all you internet reviewerati, you don't need to bag on a band's last album in order to buttress your suggestion that their new one may be the album of the year in its genre, or album of the year in any genre.  So cut it out with High on Fire, dammit. Snakes for the Divine was one of the best records of 2010. Hell, it even made my top ten. And if you bothered to read my comment on it then, you know what you didn't see in there?  Any whining about production. And you know who else didn't whine about production back then? You and everyone else.

Snakes is a great album, and everyone agrees or should agree with that.  But it's not nearlly as great as the Oakland trio's new one, De Vermis Mysteriis, released earlier this month on eOne Music (f/k/a Koch Records). Here's the evidence, in the form of the title track:

Well, it's not whining about production on some other record to note that a good deal of what makes De Vermis Mysteriis so enjoyable can be traced to producer Kurt Ballou, who is becoming as respected for his knob twiddling as he is for being a member of metal-hardcore titans Converge. My theory of what happened in the studio is not complicated. Hof frontman Matt Pike is one of the great guitarists of his generation. Ballou, who is a terrific guitar player himself, decided to kick back and let Matt play. With this approach, that apocalyptic grandiosity we're accustomed to gives way, in great measure, to oldschool tube amp grooviness, all supported by the thunderous rhythm section of Des Kensel (drums) and Jeff Matz (bass). You hear it all over the record, but maybe the clearest example of the beauty of Ballou's approach here is in the opening and then the solos in "Madness of an Architect."

I bought this album the day it came out, and the feeling I had early on -- that this very well could be the finest album of Matt Pike's 20 year Sleep / High on Fire career -- has gained traction each time I've put it on. There's great new-sounding stuff, but like the best metal, the soul of the music never strays far from the core. You see this in a song like the opener, "Serums of Liao," which in structure and certain themes strongly recalls what is to me the greatest metal song of the past 10 years, "Brother in the Wind" from 2005's Blessed Black Wings.  Have a listen:

I don't have the cred to be suggesting this or that metal album for inclusion in the canon, but dang folks, if skull-splitting perfection is what you're looking for, I believe you've found it.

High on Fire

HoF on Facebook

REVIEW: Hey Rosetta! - Seeds

Hey Rosetta! packs a lot into an album.  Seeds has crunchy rockers, folky pieces, anthems and introspective musings. And most importantly, it has a lot of really good songs.  So good, that I'm more than a little surprised that Seeds hasn't received an avalanche of positive press.

So what is the sound of Hey Rosetta!?  Tim Baker's excellent vocals have a melancholy tone reminiscent of Beirut,  but the songs themselves soar joyfully on a full, almost ornate, indie pop tapestry.  In addition to drums, bass and acoustic and electric guitar, the band boasts a violin and cello.  While the band has drawn comparisons to fellow Canadians Arcade Fire, to my ears the better comparison is British band Fanfarlo, although I think Hey Rosetta! may have a wider sonic range.  Try album track "Yer Spring" --

Hey Rosetta! is from St. John's, Newfoundland.  The members are Tim Baker (vocals, guitar), Adam Hogan (guitar), Josh Ward (bass, vocals), Phil Maloney (drums, percussion), Romesh Thavanathan (cello), and Kinley Dowling (violin).  While their prior recordings are similar, Seeds reflects an expansion of the bands sound.  There is more variety in the structure of the songs, and a greater willingness to rock from the opening note.  I can't say whether the approach reflects greater confidence, but if it does, it is justified.

The reflective musings of "Bandages" --

Seeds is released today on Sonic Records.  It was produced by Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub, Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, The Delgados and many more).  It already has been nominated for a Juno prize in Canada.

New Sum (Nous Sommes)

Overall, this album is warm and uplifting.  It seems to me that if I feel good and energetic every time I listen to and album, I've got an album that will be on my year-end list.  This is such and album.

A live acoustic version of "Welcome" --

Twitter ( @heyrosetta )

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Unsigned Finnish Prog/Punk Discovery: Weepikes

From Finland, by way of Miami, comes Weepikes.Weepikes proclaim their style of music "Pronk" which I suppose, can be interpreted to mean the place where prog rock meets punk. The band consists of Pasi Peni - vocals, guitar, Jyrki Lehto - guitar, Tomi Nuotio - bass and Ari Reiska Lehtinen - drums. They've got an interesting history, and they tell it best themselves:

Weepikes came to being in Helsinki, in 1994. The band was active for three years and called it a day in December 1997 at the 10th anniversary party for the legendary Bad Vugum label.

In the fall of 2010, it was decided that the Weepikes story needed another chapter. Except for the drummer, the lineup was the same. In late 2010 a message hit the band's MySpace inbox out of the blue and from across the pond. It was sent by legendary engineer/producer/musician Kramer, the man behind the Shimmy Disc label, part of bands such as Bongwater, Shockabilly, Ween as well as The Butthole Surfers, and producer for Galaxie 500, Low, Half Japanese, White Zombie, Urge Overkill and 22-Pistepirkko... among others. Kramer was full of praise for the band's EPs, released in the 90s on Bad Vugum and Trash Can Records, and wanted to work with the band. New songs were recorded in Helsinki over the summer of 2011. Kramer mixed and mastered them in Florida at his own Noise Miami studios. The fruits of this cooperative labor are available for all to hear in 2012.

In conclusion, to have this arrive at a blog where Robert Pollard, leader of the Circus Devils, is quoted right on the masthead is serendipity. No other way to describe it. If any of the names in this post make you sit up and take notice, download and give this a listen and tell all your friends about Weepikes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New track (free download) from Johnny Hickman, new album Tilting due out in July

Johnny Hickman, co-founder of Cracker, has a solo album, Tilting, coming out July 3 on his label Campstove Records. In advance, check out this great song "Measure Of A Man" that he's made available for free download:

In addition to this, he's got a summer tour as part of the reunited Cracker, and in 2013 he and Lowery will be getting together to record another Cracker album. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to hearing this.

Johnny Hickman Website

Friday, April 27, 2012

New Video: Will Johnson -- To Copeland Lines

Over at the Centro-matic site, earlier this month they put up a new video of Will Johnson singing "To Copeland Lines" at a recent performance at Frank (purveyors of artisan sausage) in Austin. Man, what a beautiful song. Check out the site for all kinds of cool stuff, including Will's artwork, the schedule for Will's living room tour occurring next month, and a free 24 song sampler that one might call A Young Person's Guide to Centro-matic/South San Gabriel. There's also a link to the Transistor Six website, where you'll find more audio tracks from the Frank show, along with other good stuff. For you lazy folk, here's the Transistor Six link. Have a great weekend.

Get to Know: Slowcoaches

Slowcoaches are Heather, Matty, and Sam, a Leeds, UK, pop punk/slack metal band.  Their six-track  EP, We're So Heavy, recently was released by Tye Die Tapes.  You can get a feel for their energetic sound from track "54" --

If you like what your hear, check out the rest on this Bandcamp stream.  The first run of the cassette version of the EP already is sold out, but a second run is planned for July.  The digital version is available at the Bandcamp site.

Tye Die Tapes

Introducing Sun Sister

As we welcome, actually demand, the onset of summer, our thoughts naturally turn to music appropriate for that season.  One new discovery that fits the profile is  Sun Sister, a band from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, but rostered by UK label Tye Die Tapes.  The band consists of a female vocalist, Stacy Baird, and three male musicians, Greg Prendergast, Dan Stocking, and Greg Tellier.  Their music is a really nice mash-up of indie soul and dream pop/shoegaze.  Their album will be released on Tuesday, April 30, but you can stream all four tracks below.  Give it a try, I think you'll enjoy it.

Twitter ( @SunnSister )

The Soul Corner - Bettye Swann "Make Me Yours"

I am traveling this week to my nephew's wedding in Highlands, NC, and making a quick stop in Athens GA on the way. So I did a little research to find an artist from one of those towns. Of course, neither is a hotbed for soul music, Highlands being a mountain resort town of mainly second homes, and Athens of course the hotbed of college rock.
But did you know that R&B legend Bettye Swann, originally from Arcadia LA, lived in Athens for awhile after her string of soul hits in the late '60's-early '70's? She later relocated to Nevada where she had a productive career in education and still resides.
Here's a terrific song, Bettye Swan's classic "Make Me Yours," which topped the R&B charts in April 1967:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ringo Deathstarr needs your help...

Austin's terrific psychedelic guitar rock band Ringo Deathstarr is working on a followup to 2009's Colour Trip, and they have made a video to ask for your help in getting it made via PledgeMusic.

This pledge trend, essentially offering fans the opportunity to become patrons of their favorite bands, it is very interesting.

If you like this kind of music (think Jesus & Mary Chain, Swervedriver), I can think of a lot worse places for you to place $10.

REVIEW: Suckers - Candy Salad

The candidates for summer soundtracks are starting to surface.  It may seem early to you, as we haven't quite breached the May page on the calendar, but in the worlds of publishing, fashion and cinema everything is prepared well in advance of the season, so maybe summer albums in late April are just in time.  In any case, while looking for your soundtracks you shouldn't ignore Candy Salad, the sophomore release for Brooklyn's Suckers.  Full to the brim with hooks, melodies, sonic frills, and impeccably crafted songs, the album is unfailingly entertaining.  It clearly is pop music, but has an undercurrent of tribal rhythms and doses of experimentation.  I might suggest that Suckers bridge the gap between a mainstream pop band and Yeasayer or MGMT.  Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that they are more disciplined and less uptight than Arcade Fire.  But regardless of the description, it is good music.

Here is the wonderful "Chinese Braille", live at SXSW -- 

Suckers are  Pan, Quinn Walker, and Austin Fisher, all originally from Connecticut.  They formed the band four years ago, and released their debut album, Wild Smile, in 2010.  Candy Salad was released on April 24 on Frenchkiss Records.  The band begins a month long American tour on May 1.

"Turn On The Sunshine" --

The band has the enviable ability to craft songs that are both energetic anthems yet convey a genuine sense of warmth, as evidenced by "Figure It Out" --

Twitter ( @sssuckersss )

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New live video from Conduits - "The Wonder"

Conduits, the delightfully "shoegazey" band from Omaha we have previously reviewed here, has created a new video for the song "The Wonder":

There are other videos and a few free downloads available at the review, and also at this link. They have a great guitar rock sound.

New Spanish Psych/Stoner Rock Discovery: Cuzo - Alquimia Para Principiantes

Cuzo is a Spanish power trio formed by Pantaleón (guitars and keyboards), Pep Caravante (drums) and Fermín Manchado (bass). They proudly claim allegiance to Hendrix. And they aren't fooling around. Pantaleón swings a mighty axe, and every part of the power trio supplies a lot of power. Along the lines of the Experience, all three players are capable of carrying a solo, and the drums and bass can quickly go from underpinning the music to flying along on top of it while a heavy guitar riff is repeated. The music is tough, smart and fast - really good hard rock. Like fellow WYMA favorites Radio Moscow, these guys also claim allegiance to Blue Cheer. If you are looking for psychedelic rock with your heavy rock, look no further than "Mi Otro Yo" (My Other I?) with its Pink Floyd-inspired "whale sounds" guitar sounds leading in and out of a heavy instrumental. This is really good stuff, especially if, like me, you consider English lyrics optional...

Here's a recent video of them performing the title track:

Listen for yourself at their Soundcloud page:

 Find more at Cuzo's website or click here to buy. There's an iTunes link, in case you don't want to fool around with the Spanish instructions.

Introducing Cool Ghouls

Today's new-face-in-the-crowd for our WYMA readers is San Francisco's Cool Ghouls.  The band consists of Cody Voorhees, Pat Thomas, Ryan Wong, Pat McDonald, and Alex Fleshman, and they play a loose and energetic version of garage and '60s guitar pop.  While they aren't yet signed to a label,  they apparently have an album recorded and intend to release it this summer.  Based on what I've heard over the internet, I'm looking forward to the album.

Here is a three-song set loaded into Soundcloud by guitarist Ryan Wong.  I don't know whether any of these songs will be on the album, but I think they are good tunes.  If you like songs, you can download them for free.  I especially like "Hot Summer", a great '60s-style indie pop tune with a vampy rhythm.

A few more tracks are available to download at their Facebook page, which is linked below.  In addition, the "Recorded Music" tab at their website has two EPs available.  Finally, here is a video of a gallery show for which they were part of the entertainment.

RVCA: THIS IS US from Benjamin V. Ho on Vimeo.

Website (Tumblr)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Canadian Country/Indie Rock Discovery: Cuff the Duke, In Our Time EP free download (with GbV cover!)

Cuff the Duke is an "Americana" indie rock band based in Toronto, recording on Paper Bag Records - the same label as WYMA favorites PS I Love You. Sonically, Cuff the Duke is mining the same territory as bands like Whiskeytown and Wilco.

They've generously made a six-song covers EP available for free download and, trust me, you are going to want it... if for no other reason, than to hear their lovely version of GbV's "Smothered In Hugs".

Here's the video for the song "Count On Me" from their recent full-length Morning Comes, released in Canada in the fall and in the US in February.

What I've heard, I like - and plan to get hold of the whole album soon. The EP is terrific!

Cuff The Duke Website

REVIEW: Ty Segall & White Fence - Hair

What we've got here is a garage/psychedelic summit meeting--San Francisco's Ty Segall and Los Angeles' White Fence (Tim Presley) have produced one of the year's indie rock burners: Hair.  Some tracks are more in one genre camp than others, but at its core this is an album with a foot in lo-fi garage rock, and a foot in psychedelia of the Syd Barrett vintage. And a wonderful combination it is.  A listener quickly gets the feeling that there were no rules or templates for this recording.  The boys plugged in and the music took them where it had to go.  We're just the lucky beneficiaries.

The album has eight tracks.  Ty and Tim co-wrote some tracks, individually penned others.  Each of them played multiple instruments.  The collaboration is exciting and fruitful, and I sincerely hope that more will follow.  Here is "I Am Not A Game" --

To complete your test drive, we have a white hot live versions of "Scissor People" and "Time", recorded for the Incase Room 205 sessions --

Hair is out on Drag City today, April 24, and is available on vinyl, CD and digital download.

Drag City page for Hair
Ty Segall's Facebook
White Fence's Facebook
White Fence Art Collective

"Fear Inside" EP from Clockwork Era

While punk rock is an enduring form of popular music, it seems to me that modern punk more often springs from the pop punk portion of the spectrum.  However, if you crave the brand of '70s punk--infused with anger and aggression--and then overlaid with a post punk soundscape, you will be a fan of Fear Inside, the new EP from London's Clockwork Era.  The vocals may remind you a bit of The Fall's Mark E. Smith, but Clockwork Era distinguishes their effort with a palpable element catharsis riding wild waves of buzzsaw guitar and pounding percussion.  It consists of four tracks and is over in 15 minutes, but it is a great ride and it will leave you wanting more from this band.

You can watch the video for the title track below --

Clockwork Era is Jason Lipscombe and Cat Gray and they list their hometowns as London and Newcastle.  The Fear Inside EP is released this week on Radical Noise Records.

Here is the Bandcamp stream for the EP --

Twitter ( @clockworkera )

Monday, April 23, 2012

New single from Exlovers "This Love Will Lead You On"

I trust that I didn't cause any panic. This isn't necessarily a recording from your ex lovers. It is a recording from London band Exlovers.  The band is releasing the LP Moth soon, and I'm very much looking forward to it.  In the meantime, we can enjoy "This Love Will Lead You On", the first single from the album.
Exlovers are Pete, Chris, Brooke, Laurel and Danny, and they are signed to Young and Lost Club label.

Twitter ( @exlovers )

REVIEW: Tom Williams and the Boat - Teenage Blood

When You Motor Away is supportive of ventures undertaken in working breweries.  In fact, we very much would like to locate our executive offices in such an establishment.  Regrettably, negotiations intended to fulfill that dream broke down when we asked to be provided a daily ration of product, while our putative landlord had in mind that instead we would have to pay some sort of rent.  So here we sit in our respective, soulless glass towers, grumpy and more than a bit thirsty.  Accordingly, we are very happy about Tom Williams and the Boat, because their music makes us feel good, and happy for Tom Williams and the Boat, because they actually record in a working brewery in the Kent countryside.

The band was formed in 2007, and released their debut album in early 2011.  Teenage Blood, the band's second album, has just been released on the Moshi Moshi Records/Wire Boat Recordings labels.  The songs on the album span Americana, English folk rock, and more direct indie rock.  The music is rich and varied, and the professionalism of the performers is evident on every track, from the wistful ballads to the stomping anthems.  And speaking of stomping anthems, here is the worthy  title track --

The members of the band are Tom Williams, Anthony Vicary, Geri Holton, Chris Stewart, Josh Taylor, and David Trevillon.  They made a good album--give it a spin.

Track 5, "My Bones" --

Twitter ( @tomwilliamsboat )

Review: M Ward - "A Wasteland Companion"

I am drawn to musicians who seem to be "old souls" - tasteful artists with their own unique style inspired by many decades of highly varied sources. They are not retro, hard to pigeonhole, as much of the present and future as the past, timeless. We've written about many old souls here at WYMA, including Levon Helm, Joe Henry, Tom Waits, Lisa Hannigan, and most recently, Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes.
M Ward is one of those old souls with his gentle evocative voice, beautiful guitar tone, masterful melody writing. His work incorporates elements of folk, blues, country and rock, and everything in between, plus a healthy dose of the Beatles.  

Mr. Ward's brand new and 7th release A Wasteland Companion (Merge Records) doesn't break any radical new ground, but in places is a slightly more polished and poppy effort. And the pure pop is done to great effect, as here on "Primitive Girl", which recalls in its quality some of the great mid-era Elvis Costello radio singles such as "Veronica" and "Every Day I Write the Book":

"Primitive Girl" is not the only piano-based song, with both Ward and Howe Gelb playing piano here.

Here's a terrific animated video and another pop gem, "The First Time I Ran Away":

She and Him fans will enjoy two duets with Zooey Deschanel, "Me and My Shadow" and "Sweetheart", the latter a radically rearranged Daniel Johnston cover.

As always, Ward is perfectly supported by very capable players, tasteful arrangements and spot on production.

If you have somehow missed the boat on M Ward, this is a fine place to start. Ward is a talented artist with a clear sense of what he is trying to do. A Wasteland Companion is great stuff from start to finish.  

Artist web page, where you can listen to the CD:

Holy Esque - self titled debut EP

Pat Hynes (vocals/guitar), Keir Reid (keyboard), Hugo McGinley (guitar) and Ralph McClure (drums) are Holy Esque, a relatively new Glasgow band with a rapidly brightening future. The band was formed a little over a year ago by the four teenagers. They built buzz through some internet-released demos, and by early 2012 hit the studio to record.  The product of those sessions is the band's self-titled debut LP, which is released today.

Holy Esque's sound is a big, indie rock sound, with pulsing rhythms, layered sound tapestries, sonic distortion, uniquely aching vocals, and the ability to effectively merge the melody with the rocking fury.  Perhaps think of Joy Division fronted by Feargal Sharkey of  The Undertones.   All four of the EP tracks are excellent, but if I had to pick favorites they would be "Prophet of Privilege" and "Ladybird Love".  The only track available for me to embed is the fine, previously released as a demo,  "Rose" --

However, "Ladybird Love" can be streamed here.  And "Prophet of Privilege" can be streamed here.

Holy Esque EP track Listing:
Ladybird Love
Loneliest Loneliness
Prophet of Privilege

The EP is available in digital form from iTunes.  Physical copies will be available at live shows for a period of time, and then made available for purchase via mail.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Johnny Headband - Who Cooks For You, out this week

Emerging from Detroit with a healthy dose of dance, psych, pop and punk influences is Johnny Headband - a group built around the brother team of Chad and Keith Thompson - Chad being a recording engineer of some repute, and Keith being also the bass player in Electric Six.

Here's the video for the first song they released, "Over There":

Johnny Headband - Over There from Johnny Headband on Vimeo.

And here's the second song, "And Then Again":

Johnny Headband - And Then Again from Johnny Headband on Vimeo.

As I said, a lot of influences, including a very strong (and welcome) resemblance to Beck in places - I like the vocals and the music is catchy as heck. I find their music funky in several different ways.

And guess what? You don't have to take my word for it. These guys just want to get heard... so go download it, and tell all your friends.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Babies - My Name/The War single

Record Store Day is today. It is an event that we here at When You Motor Away fully endorse, and we encourage you to make a trip to your favorite store and check out the specials. If you have children, please take them along and introduce them to the pleasures of musical artifacts.

In sorting through all of the wonderful music specially created or packaged for this Record Store Day, I decided I'd highlight the single My Name/The War by Brooklyn's The Babies. It embodies the elements that make Record Store Day special. It is good music. It is specially released for the event. It is a special collection because the recording of these tracks actually predate the other work by The Babies that is on the market. And the label, Bad Paintings, is a small British label with which you may not be familiar.

The Babies include members of Woods (Kevin Morby) and Vivian Girls (Cassie Ramone), and we've written about them before on these pages. The two tracks on this single are delightful, raw, lo-fi noise pop, and I'm happy to add them to my collection of The Babies' recordings.

The single is released worldwide on 7” vinyl (500 copies only), cassette (50 copies only--I expect that the cassettes are sold out as of the time of this post) and digitally as of Monday, April 23. You can stream the tracks here:

Bad Paintings
Soundcloud for the single
The Babies on Facebook
The Babies on Tumblr

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Next Shiny Thing- "Live from Philadelphia"

Dick Clark died this week. America's oldest teenager made it to 82. Dick had become a caricature, particularly to those who did not grow up with him. Those of us who grew up with American Bandstand understand the major impact he had on youth. Rock'n Roll was often dance focused. The girls in my neighborhood would run home at 4 to watch American Bandstand, Hoosier Favorite, Where the Action is, and other shows to learn the new dances. They would dance down the street, dance at the park, dance at the pool and dance at home. The sound track was usually provided by the low fi of a black and white TV or pocket radio. American Bandstand was the national clearinghouse.

From the NYT obit: “It meant everything to do Dick’s show,” Paul Anka said. “This was a time when there was no youth culture — he created it. And the impact of the show on people was enormous. You knew that once you went down to Philadelphia to see Dick and you went on the show, your song went from nowhere to the Top 10.” One of the first dances I remember was The Stroll. This song was written after the dance became a favorite on American Bandstand. Every TV market had its own dance show. The national influence of ABS can be seen with kids in Idaho dancing to the original ABS theme song and doing The Stroll.

Some of his shows bordered on the absurd. Check out Dick and "The Pink Floyd."

Dick's interview with Jefferson Airplane answers the question, "Do parents have anything to worry about?"

Dick and Ed Sullivan were the first nationally syndicated shows to consistently break the defacto segregation of network variety hours. Both consciously ignored the backlash of southern network affiliates. Per the Museum of Broadcast Communications, ABS provided "American television broadcasting with the most visible ongoing image of ethnic diversity until the 1970s.” Dick should be remembered for his contributions to music and society.

Introducing The Sun Electric Band

We here at When You Motor Away are always happy to discover, or be discovered by, another band that is as fond of jangly guitar pop and garage psychedelia as we are. So we are very happy to introduce The Sun Electric Band. The Manchester band consists of Ross Charnock, Iain Till, Scott Russell, Ciaran Coyle and Greg Chiche. The have released a few singles in recent years, the oldest two of which are available to download on their Bandcamp site. This month The Sun Electric Band released their debut album, Want to Feel Like EP, on their own Take Care label.

The songs on display here remind me of Teenage Fanclub, and I think they promise good things for this band. The first two tracks are very good guitar pop (I especially like "Orange Grove"). The third track expands the jangle to encompass a psychedelic edge. In the fourth and fifth tracks, "Looking for A Girl" and "Round the Bend", the band expands their palette to laid back, California country rock vibe. But you don't have to rely on me, you can stream the entire EP here:

2011 single track "About a URL" is very good, and very free --

Twitter ( @SunElectricBand )

The Soul Corner - special edition: Levon Helm

"If it doesn’t come from your heart, music just doesn’t work.” Levon Helm (May 26, 1940-April 19, 2012). 

We've never attempted here at the Soul Corner to define soul music. According to the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying." 

But of course, one of the most wonderful things about music is that wherever it arises originally, once it moves into the air, it can be absorbed and even transformed by anyone anywhere who dares to listen.

And few absorbed soul music more profoundly than Levon Helm. Raised in the heart of the South in a town the name of which sounds like it came out of a novel - Turkey Scratch, Arkansas - Helm understood the struggles and emotions of the South. He went on to make his own style of powerful, transformative music that blended R&B, country, rock'n'roll and soul.  

If you are too young to know Levon Helm, please read some of the many articles that were published following his death Thursday. His work with the Hawks, The Band, Bob Dylan, and as a solo artist is some of the best Americana music ever made. 

Helm is properly revered a tremendously gifted, passionate and original drummer and vocalist.

But enough from me, let's honor one of the most soulful musical artists of all time by listening to the "funky secular testifying" in this amazing song:

Here's Levon singing a shared vocal on what is arguably the greatest Motown cover song: 

Levon Helm made music from the heart and he will be missed.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

New Dream-Pop/Folk Discovery - Carrousel: 27 Rue De Mi'chelle, out May 1

Fronted by Joel Piedt, and featuring Rob Polischuck, Malee Bringardner, Patrick Chin, Erich von Hinken, and Landon Lee, Florida-based dream-pop/folk outfit Carrousel have spent 2-1/2 years working on their debut, 27 Rue De Mi'chelle, and for all that, it does not have an "overworked" feel. To the contrary, it flows nicely and reveals itself nicely upon repeated listening.

Piedt says they were inspired by Brian Wilson and, while a lot of pastiche-pop artists make that claim, I think the quality of this release bears out that statement. It's extremely well-made and pretty complex in terms of song structure, but like all good pop music, it's also extremely listenable. Simply put, there are some really beautiful songs on this record.

Check out a couple of the songs, available from the band for download. Here's "14", which starts acoustic and builds into nearly a dream-pop wall of sound behind Piedt's winsome vocals. And here's "Where Do We Go From Here?", for which the oft-used term "symphonic" is perfectly apt.

And here's a treat from the band, two alternate versions and the finished product of the video for the song "14". The video features a concept that has never been done before: one side of the screen backwards (as a performance) and one forward.

Reverse side:

Forward side:

Finished video:

I'm impressed with the scope of the undertaking, but even more with the quality of the music.

Get to Know: Indian Wars

Indian Wars is a Vancouver, BC psychedelic/"country crunk" outfit consisting of Brad Felotick, John McMartin, Dave McMartin, Fraser With, and Craig Pettman. They released Walk Around the Park LP in 2011. Test drive it with "Tuscaloosa Bar" --

The album was released on the Bachelor, Psychic Lunch/CMRTYZ labels. You can stream the entire album below, and purchase it through Bandcamp or via the links to the label.


"Through the Woods"

I think the music is good. I also suspect that these guys put on an entertaining live show.

Walk Around the Park

Bachelor Records page for album

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Slacker/Country/Indie-Rock Discovery: Futurebirds - Seney-Stovall

My first exposure to this Athens band, which is playing a nice mixture of country-rock with a lo-fi indie lean. Here's a promo video about their upcoming live album, Seney-Stovall (named after the historic church in which they played the show) that's featured on Oxford American. If you click through to the OA article, there's an opportunity to download the song "Megachills". And this is a good time to mention that the Oxford American puts together some of the best music issues I've ever seen from any magazine.

You can also stream their 2010 album Hampton's Lullaby here:

Here's a video from a previous EP, Megachills:

Country-rock kind of like Neil Young and Crazy Horse was country-rock. Meandering, loping, going easy into the sunset with pedal steel and piano, and then just blistering away with electric guitars. Highly recommended, and I look forward to hearing more from them.

Seney-Stovall is going to be in limited vinyl release for Record Store Day.

New Pop/Rock Discovery: Loquat - We Could Be Arsonists, out April 24

Loquat is a San Francisco-based band playing sweet, shimmering, sometimes jangly pop/rock music...

Here's the video for lead track "Timebending", a super-catchy song that gives you a good sense for what this band is about:

The songs are well-written and arranged, and her vocals are flawless.

Listen to the title track at Under The Radar.

Here's lead singer Kylee Swenson onstage proving backup vocals for Jesus & Mary Chain at SXSW 2012:

They don't sound much like Jesus & Mary Chain, but it's obvious the Reid brothers know good vocals when they hear them. Available now at iTunes, physical copies available April 24. You can preorder at their website:

Loquat Website

New video from the Allah-Las

We haven't posted about the Allah-Las since, well, Tuesday, which I think is admirable restraint. However, we can't ignore their new video for the title track of the their EP, "Tell Me".

REVIEW: Allo Darlin' - Europe

If the world of pop music were fair, Europe, the new sophomore LP from London-based foursome Allo Darlin' will make them famous. Of course, the world of pop music isn't characterized by fairness, so we'll just do our best to tell you why this album should soar. Allo Darlin' produces the intelligent brand of indie pop which is the trademark of bands such as The Lucksmiths, the Go-Betweens, Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura. Moreover, frontwoman and songwriter Elizabeth Morris possesses a rare, crystalline voice reminiscent of Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, Harriet Wheeler of The Sundays and Wendy Morgan of the Popguns. I can think of no better introduction to the music than to introduce you to the sweet, jangly deliciousness of "Capricornia", which I consider one of the best pop songs of the year so far.

Europe delivers a collection of upbeat melodies, wistful and literate songs and excellent musicianship and vocals. This is at the top of the twee side of indie pop. So if -- like me -- you relish that sound, this album should be on your list.

Allo Darlin originally was the solo project of native Australian Elizabeth Morris, who moved to London in 2005. Additional members were added in 2009 and 2010, bringing the project to its current lineup of Morris (songwriting, vocals, uke and guitar), Paul Rains (guitars, lapsteel, vocals), Bill Botting (bass and vocals), and Mikey Collins (drums and vocals). The band's debut album was deservedly well received, but everything about this album -- including the songwriting and performances -- is a step up.

"Tallulah" is a track on which Morris goes back to her roots--just a girl and her uke:

Allo Darlin' - Tallulah from Will Botting on Vimeo.

Europe was released this week by Slumberland Records in the US and Fortuna Pop in UK/Europe.

Twitter ( @allodarlinuk )

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Video from First Aid Kit - Conan appearance

First Aid Kit (who we recently reviewed here) appeared on Conan recently, performing "Emmylou":

No studio tricks, no overdubs, just great vocal harmonies and a real feel for the song. Not hard to see what all the fuss is about.

They are on tour - Coachella this weekend (no, no HoloGram Parsons, sorry) and then back to Europe to finish up, including several dates opening for Jack White.

New Blues/Swamp Rock Discovery: Brother Dege

Brother Dege is Legg Dege, a Louisana native who I might compliment by calling him the resonator/slide guitar playing version of Warren Haynes, has an album coming out later this year. For now, he's made available a free download of the song "Wehyah" which will be on that album. Click here to download "Wehyah".

Here's some more of his music - you might already be familiar (Mike Rowe's a fan):

And here's a video for "Black Is The Night":

REVIEW: Allah-Las - Tell Me (What's On Your Mind) EP

Avid readers of my 2011 year end list may recall (assuming both of you remain in alive and in sound mind) that I didn't include any singles or EPs. I'm announcing that my 2012 list likely will include at least one EP. Sure, it only comprises four tracks, but I figure that if the EP is played three times in a row the listener gets 12 tracks (I'm relying on the accounting department for the math here--I was a history major), and I've never been able to play the Tell Me (What's On Your Mind) EP by Allah-Las fewer than three times in a row. Try a live version of the title track --

This music isn't fuzzed out indie hipster reinvention of '60s psychedelic and British Invasion; this sounds like the best distillation of the real thing. Trust me, I know the era well, and Tell Me (What's On Your Mind) fits like my old 501s.* The EP consists of three tracks with vocals, and a surfy instrumental titled "Sacred Sands".

"The Long Journey" --

Allah-Las are Miles, Pendrum, Spencer and Matt. The EP is released today by Pres Records. I checked and it is available on Amazon.


*Editor's Note: The fit of Rocksteady74's '60s 501s is used for artistic purposes and should not be confused with a factual statement regarding whether Rocksteady74's 501s still fit, and certainly shouldn't be taken as an assertion that there is anything artistic about Rocksteady74's appearance in said garment.

Pres Records

Monday, April 16, 2012

REVIEW: The Just Joans - Buckfast Bottles in the Rain

The delightfully named Buckfast Bottles in the Rain by The Just Joans is a concept album. Thematically, the album is about a teenage boy living in a small town and dreaming of a more exciting life, and follows him through his college years to the point where he realizes some of the charms of his earlier life. Musically, the album is a pop album that straddles folk, indie pop and even music hall, all delivered with a thick Scottish accent. Here is one of my favorite tracks, "Five Beer Bottles":

The band is from Motherwell, UK (Scotland) and is named after a column in a Scottish newspaper. There currently are five members -- David, Katie, Chris, Allan, Doog, and Fraser -- although many of the songs were crafted more than five years ago when the band was just David and Chris.

Here is the charming "What Do We Do Now?" --

The 11 tracks on Buckfast Bottles in the Rain tell classic coming of age stories with the author's own idiosyncratic twist laid out on a beautiful musical tapestry. This is a very nice album to spend some time with, perhaps with up to five bottles of beer. It is released today by weePOP! Records.

For our US readers, Buckfast is a sweet, fortified wine with a high alcohol and caffeine content. Its reputation in Scotland is similar to that of Thunderbird or MD 20/20 in the states, and is thought by many to be the choice of drink for underage drinkers and those prone to anti-social behavior.

weePOP! records

Crocodiles - new video for "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)"

Here's a video Crocodiles have released to accompany the track "Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) from their upcoming album Endless Flowers:

This is a terrific song - among all the elements you have to have to play noise pop like this well, the Crocodiles have them all: a propulsive drummer, hypnotic harmony vocals and noisy, jangly guitars. Really looking forward to this record, due for a June 5 release on Frenchkiss Records. Previously, we posted about the upcoming album, a teaser video the band has released and a free download of this song. Here's a link to the post.

Father Sculptor - Ember / Blue (single)

I recently shared some tracks from Glasgow's Father Sculptor, and they deservedly proved quite popular with the readers of these pages. For those of us with good taste, today is a happy day because the group has officially self-released the Ember / Blue single.

I think this is one of the more promising debut singles of the year. It is comprised of two tracks. "Ember", is an achingly beautiful song that begins as a chamber pop piece and ends as a soaring anthem. "Blue" is a taut, jangly song built on an insistent rhythm and commanding baritone vocals, and I expect that New Order would be proud to have it on their resume. And the generous Father Sculptor has made the single available for free download at their Bandcamp page, so it seems to me that there isn't much of a decision for you to make.

I'll also note that the cover art for this release, and the other recordings on the group's Bandcamp page, is really good as well.

For me, the main unresolved question is the identity of the players. I spend a lot of time listening to music from bands that are just finding their way and, despite not internet or live presence until recently, this band is well past the newborn stage. Yet their website shares no personal details apart for what you can glean from the photographs--a fondness for a bit of beverage and a spot of cross-dressing (their may be a link to the beverage consumption). I asked my friend Johnny, for whom I sometimes play my new music when he popped in last weekend if he could link Father Sculptor with any of the Scottish groups I'd covered in the past. But all Johnny wanted to do was talk about his year in Portugal. So, no solution from Johnny, and he drank my beer.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Irish Math Rock Discovery: Cast of Cheers - "Animal"

The Cast of Cheers is an Irish math-rock band playing a frenetic, skittering brand of music. They've got an album, Family, coming out in June, having already released a few songs. Here's a lead track, "Animals":

And here's an earlier song, "Family" - released back in January as a 7" single:

Tu Fawning - new song out now, album A Monument out May 15

Tu Fawning is a Portland-based group - Corrina Repp, Liza Rietz, Toussaint Perrault, Joe Haegee - playing beautiful, majestic, icy rock music in the vein of Sigur Ros, but with Repp's clear strong vocals front and center. They've got an album, A Monument, due out in May.

Here's a video for the song "Anchor":

You can download a copy of "Anchor" at this link, courtesy of their label City Slang Records. What I've heard so far sounds good - I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of this record.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

REVIEW: Leigh Marble - Where The Knives Meet Between The Rows

Leigh Marble is a Portland-based singer/songwriter who will release on April 24 his third album Where The Knives Meet Between The Rows, an intimate, very emotional collection of songs written through a very challenging period of Marble's life. On songs like "Walk" and "Holden", the emotion is right on the surface, and on songs like the gentle, dirge-like "Evil" and the longer "Nail", the emotion informs the entire track.

Click here for a download of "Walk" the opening track - a slow building, country-tinged track that revives, for me, memories of the great Joe Ely... another sharp observer of the human condition and the triumphs and tragedies that make up a life.

"Jackrabbit" (download available here) is a masterpiece, a full-bodied country rock ode to hangers-on, or as Marble introduces the song "strippers and politicians". Your choice, I suppose. The song starts in a bit of a minimalist vein, like "Walk" with a quicker tempo, but in the chorus it really gets going as Marble sings over the top of a rollicking drumbeat, keyboards and guitars in full roar:

"Who's bought out shares of your loyalty
Let's follow the dollar and see
Who's waiting in the wings to collect
As their demands get more direct?"

Here's a video of a recent performance of "Pony":

Well-written and extremely well-played, this album is out April 24 on Laughing Stock Records. On this record he has help from Erin McKeown, and local Portland musicians Jesse Emerson (Amelia, The Decemberists), Matt Harmon & Kali Giaritta (of The Ascetic Junkies), and Rachel Taylor-Brown.

Leigh Marble website

Saturday mini concert: Bare Mutants live at the Empty Bottle

Chicago-area recording engineer Shimby McCreery has a passion for, and demonstrable skill at, recording live music. His "Live at the Empty Bottle" series is well worth checking out--follow the links at the Bandcamp page for this session or the "Main Bandcamp" link near the end of this post. The session presented here is the February 6, 2012, gig by Chicago band Bare Mutants, a band that also appeared on these pages a few months ago. And don't be surprised if this isn't the last time they are mentioned here.

Shimby gives you a full 37 minute set, so enjoy the concert!

Bare Mutants are Jered (guitar,vocals), Seth (bass), Pete (drums), Leslie (organ), and Jeanine (vocals, percussion).

Bandcamp for Bare Mutant's session
Facebook for Bare Mutants
Main Bandcamp Page for Shimby Presents: Live at the Empty Bottle
Facebook for Shimby Presents: Live at the Empty Bottle

Friday, April 13, 2012

REVIEW: PreTeen -- Squeeze

As the readers of this blog know, we really like championing bands that turn us on, and we can be somewhat insistent about it. We don't care whether the labels, radio stations or advertiser-funded press agree with us. One of the bands I've written about at least twice before in San Francisco's PreTeen. Their Keep It Nice EP from 2011 still is available free. Of course, because I told you to download it free last year, I expect you all did. If you didn't, you are unlikely to get credit from this course.

However, today's post is about the band's latest release, Squeeze -- eleven songs of endearing, loose, lo-fi guitar pop that I think is among the best non-chemical mood enhancers available today. For me, the music on Squeeze straddles garage, indie guitar pop and dream pop. The songs are well crafted to hook you in, capture your attention, and end long before their welcome is worn out.

Here are a few tracks to demonstrate the quality of the album, but the entire LP can be streamed below, and can be downloaded FREE at the Bandcamp link. By the way, as a listening tip I find that PreTeen's songs sound best with the volume turned up. The vocals are more accessible and since the music isn't abrasive, the listener is enveloped in the wonderful lo-fi fuzz.

"Maiden Lane"

"It's Fantastic"

You can stream Squeeze in its entirety here: