Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nick Waterhouse - Time's All Gone

Jim Desmond just profiled a fine work from JD McPherson, and emphasized his love and appreciation for music of the '60s.  So it seems to be an excellent time to post my review of Time's All Gone by California's retro guitar-slinger, Nick Waterhouse.  Nick doesn't mine the '60s garage scene or the mid '60s soul scene.  He goes back to the late '50s and early '60s R&B.  The sound features Nick's shredding guitar and raw, immediate vocals, both of which hit all the right stylistic and emotional notes and are more effective for being indifferent to session musician perfection.  And it features a great rhythm section, smooth back-up vocals, and a couple of dirty saxophones.  Ladies and gentlemen, this isn't a mimicry of your parent's music, this is roadhouse R&B from the American south.  You listen to it and feel it.  It seems to me that in the background there could, or should, be the sounds of a couple courting, a couple fighting, and maybe a few broken glasses.

For a sample of the music from Time's All Gone, here is one of the top tracks, "Some Place" --

Nick Waterhouse's music is drenched in tension, sexy vibes and muscular horn and guitar riffs. But overall, it is vibrant, fun music.  It has enough polish to have style, and enough lo-fi and loose threads to be immediate and real.  I understand that with his live band, the Tarots, the effect is breathtaking.

Here is one of my favorite songs from the album (and a great video, IMHO): "I Can Only Give You Everything" --

Time's All Gone is out now on the Innovative Leisure label.  This is my late night summer soundtrack, and it could be yours.

Nick also runs Pres Records, which has released material by another of my recent favorites, Allah-Las.  In fact, Nick produced "Catamaran", one of the tracks on that group's excellent spring EP.

Twitter ( @nickwaterhouse )
Innovative Leisure (label)
Pres Records

New Discovery: JD McPherson - Signs And Signifiers

I love 1950's and 60's American music. Love it, spend a great deal of time listening to soul, early rock, garage rock, R&B, classic country. But somehow the current and often popular "retro" acts generally leave me cold,  just too uninspired and unemotional. And when I do find a contemporary act whom I dig working in a traditional style, it's more often than not a late bloomer like Charles Bradley, or say Bettye Lavette making a comeback record.
But the Alabama Shakes aren't the only new act bringing back the real R&B. JD McPherson, an art teacher from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma has made one hell of a debut record Signs and Signifiers. Here's the insanely catchy lead track and single "North Side Gal":

And as good as it is, "North Side Gal" is not the sole high point, as this entire CD cooks, swings and just gets it. JD's giving away a free download of "Northside Gal":

McPherson's a terrific singer with great phrasing. His band has just the right loose feel, complete with bass slaps, great piano work, toe tapping drum fills, and a fleet of vintage Cadillacs' worth of great guitar sounds.
Signs and Signifiers simply leaps out of the speakers. Check out this title track with its killer guitar hook intro, updating both Bo Diddley, and more modern rock licks like Johnny Marr's "How Soon Is Now?":

The CD reminds me less of any of its particular influences like Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Buddy Holly than it does say Dave Alvin, artists with the deep respect for classic sounds, but with their own voice and spirit.

McPherson has been quoted as being just as big a fan of The Ramones and Wu-Tang Clan as he is of any '50's blues or rockabilly artists, and that deep musicality really shows here.

Rolling Stone is streaming the entire record here:

You can listen once but then you gotta go buy it. I promise you it sounds particularly good played loud with your car windows down.

McPherson is on tour now and lucky for me, pulling into Portland this Saturday at my favorite bar in town, Bunk Bar. This is good.

Get this record. Summer's here and the time is right.

PS I Love You - a couple of new videos from Death Dreams

PS I Love You has released one of the best records of 2012, Death Dreams. I reviewed it here, and if you want to save the wear and tear of clicking your mouse to read my review, let me just tell you that it is shred-tastic.

They've released an official video for "Princess Towers", which I thank Rocksteady for alerting me to:

And here's a live in-studio version of "Saskatoon" released by their label, Paper Bag Records:

I like their style - it's two-person heavy rock, but the style leans more toward Crazy Horse than Black Keys or White Stripes... and I think the guitar is just fantastic...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Discovery: Skyline Pigeons - House of Mysteries

Skyline Pigeons is Santa Barbara/Los Angeles, California-based sisters Roxanne and Caroline Teti. The record features pectacular vocal harmonies, and a variety of rock styles from garage country-rock to shoegaze... They were inspired by the experience of losing their home to the Santa Barbara wildfires and starting over - a lot of emotion, and a real sense of having to work to evoke that which has been lost.

Here's the video for the song "Lucid", full of lilting vocals, strong piano lines and understated electric guitars:

Their debut album, House Of Mysteries will be out on June 5. They have made two songs available to download, the jagged, guitar-based "Tennessee" and the piano-based ballad "Lucid".

You can buy it at their Bandcamp site:

REVIEW: White Fence - Family Perfume

Tim Presley is a hard working man.  More than that, Tim Presley is an inspired man.  As a member of Austin, Texas garage/folk rock group the Strange Boys, he has participated in recording music over the past few years that other artists would be proud to call their own.   He has been a member of space rock group Darker My Love.  Under the name White Fence he released two albums before this year, and he combined with Bay Area workaholic Ty Segall this spring to produce the wonderful garage rock album Hair (our review here).  Those of us who are mere mortals would be inclined to rest, and most of us would have long exhausted our inspiration.  However, as White Fence, Presley has released the double album, Family Perfume, on the Woodsit label.

Family Perfume is 28 tracks of glorious psychedelic, lo-fi garage rock, evocative of early Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, Kevin Ayers and the Beatles psychedelic work.  Sometimes dreamy, sometimes poppy, sometimes California acid, and sometimes a few different approaches in the same song.  "Swagger Vets and Double Moon" is an acid/glam jam --

The pop side is well represented by "A Hermes Blues" and "It Will Never Be", the latter of which is reminiscent of the Kinks.

And a woozy acid folk approach in "King of the Decade", from Vol. 2 --

With 28 tracks, and an experimental approach, it is quite likely that not every track will connect with every listener.  But there are an abundance of gems, and relatively few that struck me as more ordinary.  Of course, I'm a fan of Syd Barrett psyche/folk anyway.  Frankly, I looked at the couple of lesser tracks as transitional moments.  Overall, the album displays a masterful ability to craft melodies, and, at the end of the year when I revisit this album in relation to other albums, I expect that it is going to rank highly.

Volume 1 of Family Perfume was released digitally and on vinyl in early April; Volume 2 was released in those same formats in mid-May.  A CD comprised of both volumes also is available.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

REVIEW: Craft Spells - Gallery EP

Craft Spells Gallery EP continues, rather than departs from, the sound featured on the band's 2011 debut, Idle Labor.  And that's fine with me.  There may come a time when Justin Vallesteros and his musical pals need to tweak their sound or direction to please themselves and their fans.  But at the moment, the template still delivers aural pleasure.

"Still Left With Me" begins  Gallery EP with a fast-paced, upbeat melody and an clean, effective hook.  Even Vallesteros' sometimes laconic baritone brims with life.  The track wouldn't be out of place in the New Order portfolio.

The second and third tracks, "Warmth" and "Burst", respectively, are aptly named.  The former conveys a Radio Dept. level of intimacy, while the latter is a pop song brimming with life.

As a whole, the EP is a high energy amalgamation of shimmering guitars and synths, and insistent rhythms.  The subtle differences from Idle Labor are improvements--more intricate, fleshed-out songs and, generally, a more upbeat vibe.  Even when Justin is gloomy, there is a danceability and undeniable vibrancy to this music.  If you already liked Craft Spells, you'll want to add this to your collection.  If you haven't tried them, this is a good place to start.

I understand that for purposes of composition, Vallesteros is Craft Spells.  For performances, the group is Vallesteros, Jack Doyle Smith, Javier Suarez and Andy Lum.  Most of the members are based in Seattle, but I recently read that Vallesteros is living in San Francisco at the moment.

Gallery EP was available May 15 on Captured Tracks.

Twitter ( @craft_spells )

Introducing:Deathline, and new single "Ten of Clubs"

Deathline is a London duo (by way of Sweden and Japan) with an arresting sound.  It combines noir post punk sonic fury with electronica and garage, and it all sounds a bit dirty.  That is, it sounds dirty in a very good way.  The band is releasing their new single, "Ten of Clubs" now, and for a limited time it is free at Bandcamp and Soundcloud (links to both are provided below) along with three remixes of the song.  Sample "Ten of Clubs" and remixes here:

Deathline are Jennie Werlemar (lead vocals/bass) and Kaoru Sato (guitar/programming/vocals).  They released a kick ass rock album entitled SixtyNine in 2009 (listen here), and they've been working the tour circuit and honing their sound since then.   Jennie and Kaoru recently recorded in California with Josiah Mazzaschi, who has worked with Smashing Pumpkins and Built to Spill.  Those sessions produced "Ten of Clubs".  The sound is dense and full of fury and swagger, and Jennie's husky vocals have drawn valid comparisons to Nico.

Download and enjoy. You have nothing to lose but your innocence.

Website (Tumblr)
Twitter ( @Deathline )

Monday, May 28, 2012

REVIEW: The Dentals -- Tennessee

We love music here at When You Motor Away.  We also love beer.  So I was delighted to find in my inbox a 13-track album of excellent guitar pop with many references to beer.  And what better time to profile the album than a holiday weekend in the US.

The group is The Dentals, and they are from Switzerland.  However, the album was recorded in Tennessee, and was named after the place of its birth.  Thus, we have a Swiss band with a name that evokes teeth, releasing an album named Tennessee  Any questions so far?

The gentle pop opener is not about beer, but the band couldn't resist referencing beer in the title: "A Song Not About Beer" --

The second and third tracks, "I Am an Artist" and "King Without Crowns", boast a more upbeat tempo, but continue with endearing melodies and wistful vocals somewhat reminiscent of Seattle indie pop band Tullycraft.  Both are among the better pop songs I've heard this year.  Now, I already liked this album before I heard the fourth song, "I Love You Even More", but the refrain in that track distilled in a short phrase the essence of true love: "I love you even more than beer".

You won't be surprised to learn that The Dentals are a band with a sense of humor.  Additional tracks are titled "Heading for the Door Again", "Not Every Idiot Knows How to Drive A Car" (a bit confessional, this one, as apparently the lead vocalist is not a good driver), "I Am Well But You Are Paul Weller" (originally named "Scotland Made Me Fat"), and, after 12 tracks, a final track simply named "B-side".

In "Career for Beer", the boys muse about the working world --

The dentals are Fabio (guitar, vocals), Roman (guitar), Jonas (bass), and Dave (drums).  The group was formed in 2002.  They describe their brand of music as Alco-pop, and while they admit that they haven't really accomplished anything as a band, they point out that they haven't really tried, either.

"Give Me A Second Chance" shows the band can put a bit of muscle in their pop --

The album was released on May 25.  There will be a release party on June 29, 2012, in Lucerne, Switzerland. That is a long way for many of us to travel for a party, but I'm hoping the WYMA private jet will be available. I expect that the party will feature quite a bit of beer.

It's summer, treat yourself to fun pop that justifies your beer habit.  You deserve it.


Aggie Doom's new Single, Bring Me the Head

On days like this, I love my job.  I really love my job.  I get to listen to new music that is interesting and exciting, and then tell you about it..  And I really am excited about Bring Me the Head, the new two-track single from Glasgow's Aggie Doom.

It seems to me that the starting point for Bring Me the Head  is minimalist '60s garage rock.  Then add a dose of voodoo glam and you've got something quite striking--primitive, insistent rhythms, music and lyrics with a fangs-exposed and claws-out edge, and some very nice girl-group harmonies.  But unlike their garage rock second cousins, Aggie Doom   allows a lot of space in the music, which builds tension without ramping up the volume.  Some have called it "darkwave", and I think that is a good tag.

So, be our guest and take the single for a spin.  The entire run-time is about 6:15, and you wouldn't want to miss the B-side, "Cakewalk".  If you're like me, you'll want to allocated enough time to replay it a few times.

Aggie Doom  are Claudia Nova, Scott Caruth, Hillary Van Scoy and Joan Sweeney.  The band has drawn comparisons to Bush Tetras, Romeo Void and Keenex, and while I can understand the comparison, I think this band takes their own path with a higher dose of atmosphere and less emphasis on punk.

At the moment the single is available only in a limited run of 300 vinyl 7" records. One hopes that broader distribution or, even better, inclusion in an EP or LP happens in the future.  The label is the small, Livingston, Scotland label Soft Power Records.   The folks that run the operation clearly have a good ear for emerging bands, as their groups have featured on these pages more than one would expect given their size.

Soft Power's Bandcamp page for the single
Soft Power Records

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Download the new single from White Violet - "Lays Around Lazy"

White Violet is a country-rock foursome from Athens, Georgia led by Nate Nelson. The group consists of Vaughan Lamb, Brad Elliott, Josh McCauley and Nelson, who's already got several solo records out. Their debut album, Hiding, Mingling will be out in August, but for now they have released the song "Lays Around Lazy". It's a pretty piece of what's usually referred to as "Americana" but you're free to apply your own label... just give it a listen. You can download it here.

The album will be released on a new label, Normaltown Records, which is an imprint of New West.  I'm definitely looking forward to hearing the rest of this record... and to whatever else Athens, GA has in store for us...

New Spanish Old-School Punk Discovery - Penny Cocks: Do It Cock

Pennycocks are a Spanish punk band, and when I say "old school" I do mean old school. This is pure revival music - beholden to a classic punk style and very well-executed. In a way, it reminds me of old stuff like Gen X, and newer revival stuff like Rancid, which is an extreme compliment coming from me.

Pennycocks are Adri, Marc, Ignasi and Pablo - Ignasi and Pablo are straight-up skinheads! Check out their music at Soundcloud:

You can find out more or order the record at the BCoreDisc website.

REVIEW: Czar -- Vertical Mass Grave

 I will cop to being the slow kid around here.  I swear to god, most of the other guys who write for this blog are constantly posting stuff so brand new it really makes me wonder whether they're camped out in hipsters' showers so they hear the stuff as it's performed for the first time.  Then I remember that hipsters generally do not bathe, so I still have unanswered questions.

But I have standards of some sort. And as we hurtle down life's highway headlong into the middle of 2012, if I come on here and review an album from late 2011, it had better be mighty damned great.  Such is Vertical Mass Grave, the debut full-length from a terrific Chicago-based metal band called Czar.  I knew of neither the band nor the album a few weeks ago. Then I came across the video for the album opener, "Family Crest." It's hard to remember, but I'm pretty sure I had bought the album before the song had finished.  Just unreal -- see for yourself.

This record is as primal as you're likely to hear, yet at the same time it's intensely musical. The musicianship is stunning -- heavy on minor keys and iron gray, industrial overtones -- and, to me, feels like the City of Chicago. Three of the album's ten tracks are instrumentals, and the phenomenal closer, "Redeemer", flows through four minutes of Don Caballero-type prog mixed with Russian Circles slam before the vocals kick in. You folks who are fans the serious guitar noise of fellow Illinoisians Hum will definitely hear the influence of Matt Talbott, who recorded and engineered the album at his analog studio Great Western Record Recorders.

Go ahead and have another listen -- this time a nicely made live video from the Abbey Pub, which was posted back in April. Had I discovered this when it was released last year, it would have pushed most of my year-end best-of list down a notch.

Czar website on Cracknation Records

Czar on bandcamp

Friday, May 25, 2012

Frenetics - Free song from Broken Hand EP

Frenetics is a high-energy British punk band. One thing I've discovered over the years is that a good punk band absolutely needs a good drummer, and these guys have a great one - in addition to slashing guitars and the snotty vocals you'd expect. But the whole thing has a little bit of a sheen to it. Check out the video for lead track "Ella":

It's an interesting combination of punk and glam, at least to my ears. You can download the song free here, and the EP will be available June 11 via Bright Lights Management.

Porcupine's new single - Witness to A Chase Scene

Today, we are continuing our series on releases by good indie rock bands from La Crosse, Wisconsin. The first post in the series was by our blogfather, John, who posted last year about a split 7" on which one of the bands was La Crosse-based Porcupinelink ).  Today's featured La Crosse band is.......Porcupine!  The reason we are featuring the band again so soon (in addition to their quality music) is that they just released a three-track single, and will be releasing an LP soon.

The single is titled Witness to A Chase Scene.  the title track will be included on the album, but the two B-sides are only available on the single.  Here is "Witness to A Chase Scene" --

One of the B-sides, "Evil Twin" --

The band is Casey Virock (vocals/guitar), Dave Reinders (bass/guitar), and Jeff Bahr (drums/backing vocals).  The single can be obtained through Hang Up Records.

The upcoming album Sensation of Being Someone, and we'll have more information about it in the future--unless they relocate from La Crosse.

Bandcamp for "Witness to a Chase Scene"

The Soul Corner - "Open the Door to Your Heart"

One of the things we try to do here at the Soul Corner is bring to your attention lost gems you might not know. You youngsters likely will not recognize the name Darrell Banks, but his 1966 hit "Open the Door to Your Heart" is an unforgettable soul pop classic with a perfect vocal. This You Tube has no photos of Banks or live footage, but it's the best sounding clip of the original version I could find:  

And someone you will know, Mr. Jackie Wilson, did a very fine cover version:

Banks died in 1970 when he was shot by an off-duty Detroit policeman in a domestic dispute.

Introducing: Jake Mattison

Boxing is a tough profession.  The participant must train relentlessly, and faces a fearsome beating, and potential long-term damage, even in victory.  Jake Mattison was in that world, left that world, and began working in an open air market in Manchester, UK.  From there, his talent as a singer-songwriter was recognized, and he commenced a new career in another tough profession.  Even with all the talent and all the "extra" factors in your favor, success is not assured.  And Jake isn't a pretty boy with a cute haircut; he is a former boxer who is deaf in one ear and only has partial hearing in another.

But I really, really think that Jake is someone you should listen to, someone you could consider supporting in his journey in his new profession.  Why, because the man can write a song, and he can sing a song like few others.  Yeah, he can really sing a song.

A number of modern vocalists claim to sing "soul", and a number of them actually do so, to a greater of lesser degree.  But Jake's voice has the combined tone and grit, and underlying passion, that define soul.  Gloss can be bought, flash can be bought.  Soul has to be real.

"Sorrow" is Jake's new single, release on June 4 on the Laissez Faire Club label.

We'd like to share with you this video of Jake covering Gil Scott-Heron's "Home Is Where the Hatred Is" --

Laissez Faire Club
Facebook for Laissez Faire Club

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Eugene Francis JNR - "Necronomicon" - video and free download

Eugene Francis Jnr. plays high-energy electronic rock with big drumbeats, lots of synths and catchy vocals - not unlike what you might recall from Depeche Mode. He's ready to release the first single from an album, Death And Das Love Bytes, due out in the fall of 2012. Here's "Necronomicon":


The single will be available for purchase on June 11.

Eugene Francis Jnr Website

REVIEW: The Eversons - Summer Feeling

Those of you in the northern hemisphere may not be surprised to see that the title of a guitar pop album released in late April is Summer Feeling.  But the (hypothetical) alert reader will consider that The Eversons are from Wellington, New Zealand, where April is the part of the calendar sliding towards winter.  Then said (hypothetical) alert reader might want to know that the boys in the band are fans of Jonathan Richman (the title of the album is derived from one of his songs), and then consider some of the song titles: "Could It Ever Get Better?", "Kick Him Out", and "Terminally Lame", for example.  So it seems that everyone's expectation meter should be set a "fun" when enjoying this great guitar pop.  We get Beach Boys harmony, Richman humor (perhaps humour, in this case), and Pavement fuzz rock. I find it a winning combination.

A good starting point is the opening track, "Could It Ever Get Better?" As the lead singer muses about whether his life will get better in the future, his mates assure him that it never gets better.--

"Kick Him Out" begins with the little matter of kicking a boyfriend out of the home, and ends up with said boyfriend (technically an "ex" at that point I should think), buried in the back yard --

"Terminally Lame", is the lament, albeit a poppy one, of a loser --

The Eversons are Mark Turner, Tim Shann, Blair Everson, and Christopher Young.  Summer Feeling is out now on Lil Chief Records.

So much for fun.  I'll leave with some completely serious advice about marriage (yeah, right!).  The chorus includes such gems as "you don't understand, you're an unattractive man", and "you'll be alone all your life" --

You can stream (and, ahem, purchase) the entire album at the Bandcamp link below.  And just to clear the air, I never said that the boys have an occult shrine to Richman in their clubhouse.  I didn't say that they don't, either.  Let's just agree that if anyone asks you about it, you didn't hear it first here.  Please--I have a family.

Twitter ( @theeversonsband )
Lil Chief Records

Fear of Men releases B-side to upcoming single

In early March we noted the release of "Green Sea", the A-side to the upcoming single from UK band Fear of Men.  The B-side, "Born", now has been released as well.  While is retains the band's dark-tinged approach evident on prior recordings, it continues the transition to a tighter pop sound revealed on the A-side.  We expect good things from this band, and they always have delivered.

Here is the track:

The single will be released on vinyl only on June 18 by the Sexbeat label.  The run is limited to 300 copies, so I expect it to be sold out.

If you would like to stream evaluate both tracks, here is the Bandcamp stream for the single:

Twitter ( @fearofmen )
Pre-order link

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blind Pilot - Free download from We Are The Tide, Summer tour info

Blind Pilot is touring in support of We Are The Tide and supporting the Shins and Dave Matthews at some of the dates - their easy, loping rhythm, piano/keyboard and acoustic/electric guitar combinations, and especially the sweet harmony vocals are definitely going to be welcome sounds to the Shins fans out there.

Here's a video of them performing the lead track "Half Moon":

And here's a free download of "Keep You Right":

On tour all summer, supporting the Shins and Dave Matthews Band - and appearing at Bonnaroo and Newport Folk Festival. If you haven't heard them yet, I'd recommend it - and you ought to have an opportunity.

5/25/12 - Les Schwab Amphitheater (supporting The Shins) - Bend, OR

5/25/12-5/28/12 - Sasquatch! - George, WA
5/28/12 - Red Butte Garden Amphitheater (supporting The Shins) - Salt Lake City, UT
5/29/12 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre (supporting The Shins) - Morrison, CO
5/31/12 - Harrah's Council Bluffs (supporting The Shins) - Council Bluffs, IA
6/02/12 - Molson Amphitheatre (supporting Dave Matthews Band) - Toronto, ONT CANADA
6/03/12 - Blossom Music Center (supporting Dave Matthews Band) - Cuyahoga Falls, OH
6/05/12 - Webster Hall - New York, NY
6/06/12 - The National, Richmond, VA
6/07/12 - Neighborhood Theatre - Charlotte, NC
6/07/12-6/10/12 - Bonnaroo - Manchester, TN
7/06/12 - The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA
7/07/12 - The Fonda Theatre - Los Angeles, CA
7/08/12 - Belly Up Tavern - Solana Beach, CA
7/10/12 - The Crescent Ballroom - Phoenix, AZ
7/11/12 - Santa Fe Sol - Santa Fe, NM
7/13/12 - La Zona Rosa - Austin, TX
7/14/12 - Kessler Theater - Dallas, TX
7/15/12 - Fitzgerald's - Houston, TX
7/17/12 - Mercy Lounge - Nashville, TN
7/18/12 - 20th Century Theatre - Cincinnati, OH
7/20/12-7/22/12 - Firefly Music Festival - Dover, DE
7/23/12 - Interlochen Center for the Arts - Interlochen, MI
7/25/12 - The Opera House - Toronto, ONT CANADA
7/26/12 - Corona Theatre - Montreal, QC CANADA
7/27/12 - Port City Music Hall - Portland, ME
7/28/12 - Newport Folk Festival, - Newport, RI
8/12/12 - Mishawaka Amphitheatre - Bellvue, CO

Some Notes on Restorations and Signals Midwest

I've made no secret of the fact that I thought the self-titled album by Philadelphia's Restorations was as good as any album by any band anywhere in 2011. Well, now I can report that their live show is every bit as powerful as what they do in the studio. These are guys who, in a live setting, give off the feeling that they've just been released from detention. They're happy to be there, they like the songs they have to play, and they play it like they mean it.

The photo above, taken by Agatha Donkar (check out her excellent work here and here), is from the set they played Saturday night at Durham's Motorco Music Hall as part of the release party for local heroes Red Collar and their new album Welcome Home (out in physical form in June on Tiny Engines -- I'll have a review soon -- its top shelf). My daughter and I arrived early because we had to leave early, and had the pleasure of getting to meet Jon Loudon, singer/guitarist for Restorations (pictured center, above), as well as Will Miller, one of the masterminds of Tiny Engines, which is building a roster stocked with some of the best bands in the country -- including both Restorations and Red Collar.  Both are fantastic guys, and it would be easy to support them even if they weren't currently doing what they do better than anyone.

We also had the great pleasure of seeing a set by another Tiny Engines, band, Cleveland's Signals Midwest. I'll have more on them in a future post, but trust me, you need to put them on your list of bands to catch live.  It's genuine punk music that's melodic, but it would be something of an injustice to call it pop. Check it out for yourself -- this is from a split 7" released earlier this year with California's The French Exit:

But back to Restorations -- I was happy to hear that these guys are energized by the universal acclaim for last year's record, and are planning to keep things going for the foreseeable future to see how things unfold.  To that end, they've got a 7" coming out next month called "A/B". The front song of that record, "A", is streaming over at AltPress, and could well be the song of the year, with beautifully sung and interesting lyrics winding between columns of power chords.  It doesn't get much better.

Restorations Tumblr page

Restorations Bandcamp page

Signals Midwest Tumblr page

Signals Midwest Bandcamp page

Tiny Engines Records

Tiny Engines at Bandcamp

Introducing: Snoqualmie

Snoqualmie is the project of Victoria, BC native Blake Enemark.  Enemark's musical history includes stints as a guitarist for BC bands Forestry and We Are the City, among others.  Allegedly, this album has its genesis in Enemark's obsession with the former television series, Twin Peaks.  Alert readers may recall that the signature waterfalls used in that series is Snoqualmie Falls, locate east of Seattle.  While not a formal band, the project included several additional players: Danny Costello; Simon Haisell; Josh Daignault; and Colin Nealis.  The resulting self-titled album (available May 1) spreads over the folk rock, indie pop and alternative country landscape, and probably can best be called "Canadiana".  I think it is a good album, and is worth your time listening to it.

You can stream the album here, and buy it at the Bandcamp site.

Here is the trailer for the album:

Twitter ( @snoqualmieee )

REVIEW: Wess Floyd - Foxhole Confessions

Wess Floyd had an album he wanted to get off his chest.  In fact, he told me that he'd been living with the album for several years.  And now, titled Foxhole Confessions, it is out for the world to judge and he asked me to represent his work to you, the When You Motor Away readers and music jurors.  May it please the court, I will present my client's case to the jury.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what do we have before us?  We have authentic, gritty rock and roll, plus Americana soul, and delivered with a southern accent. It is an honest album that reflects real life, real loves, real tears and real triumphs.  But even with the bad times, Foxhole Confessions does not endeavor to drag down your spirits.  Not in the least.  The stories here burst with the passion to keep going, and the energy to keep going well.

I often eschew live clips when arguing my client's music to the jury, but this is music born to be live (or at least on a car stereo at night with the windows down).  So allow me to introduce as evidence the album track "Hot Headed Rebels", played with the Daisycutters live at The Basement in Nashville (this was recorded at the album release party in December 2011)  --

Here is the album's opening track, "Record Player", live from The Basement in Nashville.  Even when singing about a failed relationship, the song amuses and rocks us.

Wess is a southern Alabama boy, but he's bounced all around the south, and a bit of the west, trying to make it.  There has been a lot of work, and a good share of near misses.  But now the story is on the streets and in our stereos

"Williamsburg Nights" live at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville --

So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is why rock and roll is made, this is why you listen--to hear the raw stories of life spun in a way that entertains us, leads us to bob our heads and move our feet.  To share the moment with friends.  And Foxhole Confessions is a worthy part of that rock and roll fabric. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the only possible life-affirming verdict is "yes".


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Beaver Nelson - Macro/Micro - an album and film, out June 19

Beaver Nelson is a typically literate Texas troubador, with all that entails - the wry humor, the sly wordplay, and especially the easy way with a song that sneaks up on you.

He's got an album - Macro/Micro - coming out this summer, but it's not just an album. Nelson's vision for this project was also visual, so he's produced an album-length film that you can buy, or, if fortunate enough, watch him perform live in front of the film. Here are the first tour dates:

May 31, Cactus Café, Austin, TX
June 13, Hotel Havana, San Antonio, TX
July 12, Listening Room, Jacksonville, FL
July 14, Living Room Concert (MusicWorks), Chattanooga, TN
July 15, Ducks Unlimited Complex, Memphis, TN
July 16, Proud Larry’s, Oxford, MS
July 17-18, Celebrity Lounge (Eldorado Resort Casino), Shreveport, LA

More to come...

Beaver Nelson Website

Orca Team - new video for "Too Busy To Love Me", album out in June

Orca Team is a trio playing in a style they describe as "1960s Post Punk Beach Party"... I like the bouncy bass, and the vocals are pretty good. Here's the video for "Too Busy To Love Me" from the upcoming album Restraint.

They're on Athens, GA label HHBTM Records.

A free track from Collider

Good news, Collider has a new track, and they are giving it away free!  Those of you who trust me have already nodded your heads and begun to download.  A couple of you suspicious types are saying "wait a minute, who is  Collider?"  I'll give you the answer to that question below, but at least click on the tasty nugget of garage rock and listen while I do so.

Collider is James (guitar, vocals), Simon (drums) and Adam (guitar, bass, vocals).  James and Adam also are associated with Tye Die Tapes, whose artists we have featured several times lately (e.g. Sun Sister and Slowcoaches).  The band advises me that they have a number of songs prepared, so we can expect more good things from them in the near future.

By the way, none of the guys in the band own up to being the model in the cover art displayed above.  While modesty is a virtue, we believe there should be an open relationship between artists and their fans, so perhaps we should all vote for James, Simon or Adam and spread the rumor that the winner is, indeed the model.  The winner's mother will be so proud!

Tye Die Tapes

REVIEW: Various Cruelties - Various Cruelties

One thing becomes quite clear upon listening to the debut self-titled release from Various Cruelties, Liam O'Donnell has a pop star voice.  Of course, a pop star voice doesn't always mean a pop star career will follow, just as pop star careers have been captured by lesser voices.  But the evidence provided by Various Cruelties suggests that Liam has the voice, the ambition, and decent and developing song-writing chops, so we'll put an upward arrow next to his name and cheer from the sidelines.

The first Various Cruelties song I heard (I think it was a bit over a year ago) was "If It Wasn't For You", which is the third track on the album.  It showcases one type of song that this group executes perfectly--a romantic song that ebbs and flows between the verse and the dynamic chorus:

Liam is originally from Leeds, although he is based in London now.  Some of the tracks on Various Cruelties  were composed before the band was formed, others are more recent.  He describes his music as "Mod Goth Soul", although at times in the past we've used "blue-eyed soul".  The materials I reviewed in the course of this post did not reveal the names of the other members of the band.

"Great Unknown" is another tension/release track, but goes even bigger in the chorus --
You know that I've been here before, 
Packing up my suitcase, 
One foot out the door, 
We've said it all before, 
We're dancing on the ashes, 
We don't spark anymore.
Cause everything feels too familiar, 
But some things you just never seem to know.

Do we fade out, or burn like the sun, 
Do we let it or go or hold on, 
Do we see this through together as one, 
Do we go it alone into the great unknown?

It should be noted that many of the songs have a similar tempo and structure, starting as a low key vocal with sparse instrumentation and then building between 0:40 and 1:00, then following a similar verse chorus structure.  That really isn't a problem for me, as I really enjoy Liam's voice and I think he wrote good songs.  However, some listeners might be tempted to intersperse their favorite songs from the album on playlists with other material.  In any case, I think that the material throughout the album is strong, and several tracks are knockout pop tunes: "If It Wasn't For You", "Chemicals", "Great Unkown", and "Neon Truth.  Overall, I'm impressed with this debut.  If you like pop/soul, you should give it a chance.

One of my favorite tracks, "Neon Truth", closes the album --

Twitter ( @v_cruelties )

Monday, May 21, 2012

Introducing: Pure Bathing Culture

A tried a few different titles for this post, but they all seemed evocative of an advertisement for something related to swimming, beaches or beauty products.  But Portland, Oregon's Pure Bathing Culture make great, shimmering pop, and are well worth giving a chance.  Enjoy the delights of "Ivory Coast" --

Pure Bathing Culture are Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille.  They play guitar (Daniel) and keys (Sarah) in Vetiver, but began writing songs together in 2009.  In 2011, they moved to Portland and formed this band.  They have recorded their first EP, which is out on May 22.

"Silver Shore's Lake" --

Pure Bathing Culture has signed with Father / Daughter Records, a small label run out of home offices in San Francisco and Miami.

Bandcamp for purchasing the EP
Father / Daughter Records

The Solvents - The World Is Not A Vampire: Lost, Demos, Outtakes, Unheard

First heard of The Solvents, a duo from Port Townshend, WA, early last year and was captivated by the wistful, sweet sound of Forgive Yr. Blood. The Solvents are Jarrod Bramson and Emily Madden, and I'm glad to announce two things: First, they've just released an album of outtakes - The World Is Not A Vampire: Lost, Demos, Outtakes, Unheard; and second, a full album is due out later this summer.

You know how it is when a band you like releases an album of outtakes and demos - this is no different. I find this band utterly charming in nearly every way, from the wistful vocals to the strings that back the acoustic or electric guitars, and of course, the quality of the songs with their slightly off-kilter titles.

Here's the song "Unslaved and Unrenowned (Mexico Demo)":

It's released as a name-your-price download via MASA Records, the compilation donates all proceeds to KPTZ, a new community radio station in Port Townsend at which Bramson is a DJ.

REVIEW: Mummy Short Arms - Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse

In one of my favorite buddy movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, our train-robbing protagonists were accustomed to evading harm or capture at the hands of sheriffs, marshals or detectives hired by the railroads.  Escape simply was taken for granted.  Then, the railroad hired a persistent son-of-a-bitch who didn't give up, who trailed them aggressively and with purpose.   Then followed several scenes when Butch and Kid again discovered that they hadn't shaken their pursuers, and they turned to each other and said "who are these guys?"

No, the point here isn't how many virtual tomatoes we're going to award Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  The point is that in writing about pop music, we're always listening for new sounds. But while there is a lot of really good stuff coming out, it isn't often that several times while listening to a new album I say to myself "who are these guys?"  However, such a moment occurred in my first listen to "Smuggling Cigarettes" by the opening track of  Mummy Short Arms debut LP, Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse.  And the moment was repeated several more times in the course of the album.

So, we'll begin at the beginning, with "Cigarette Smuggling" (which activity, according to the lyrics, was only the 'back up plan') --

The Glasgow band released "Cigarette Smuggling" in May 2011.  In November 2011 they released "Change", which The List rated as the single of the month.  Both of those tracks are among the eleven included in the Scottish psychobilly that comprises Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse.  The album seems to me to be a twisted form of cow punk, filtered through the souls of Captain Beefheart and the Velvet underground (the Americana focus is revealed by the titles of many of the tracks --."Where's The Mortuary", "Rusty Jose", "Whisky Avalanche", "Tom Mix", "Coyote Surprise", and "Searching for A Body").  And all of it is performed with energy and competence, and characterized by James Allan's unique vocals shouted, snarled and moaned over the arrangements.

Here is the smashing single, "Change", which shows that the band is more than capable of staying sufficiently between the lines to pen a pop hit --

Mummy Short Arms is Cameron Findlay (bass), Craig Brown (guitar), Dean McClure (synths), Fraser Gillies (guitar), James Allan (vocals), Stuart Brown (rhythm guitar and percussion), and Gary Pinkerton (drums).  The album is released today on Glasgow's wonderfully named Flowers in the Dustbin label.

I'd share one of my favorite tracks, "Whisky Avalanche", but it isn't available for that purpose yet.  However, here is the album closer, which now has been released as a single: "Silicone Dream" --

Treat yourself to a "who are these guys" moment or two.  Take Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse for a spin.  And remember, cigarette smuggling is only the back up plan.

Flowers in the Dustbin (Website)
Flowers in the Dustbin (Facebook)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Pharmacy - Josephine EP, new album due Summer 2012

Discovered and wrote about the pop/punk stylings of The Pharmacy back in January here.

They've got a new EP out, Josephine - four songs, two of them alternate versions of the title track. They're still playing an endearing lo-fi pop/punk style inspired by good old garage rock. I might go so far as to describe it as a lo-fi take on the Kinks, albeit postpunk. Good stuff.

Check it out for yourself, with a couple of free songs:

And more good news - they'll be releasing a full album - Stoned And Alone - this summer.

Here's a video for "Pines", a song from Stoned And Alone.

REVIEW: The Son(s) - Leviathan

The Son(s) have more than a bit of mystery about them.  We don't know how many people are in the band.  It seems there were three at one point, and there still is a Karl.  But the other two may no longer be with the project.  We do know that the band's new mini-album (six tracks) Leviathan is an impressive expression of introspective folky, dream pop.

 Leviathan begins with the gentle, plaintive "Roaring Around the House"; the vocals are fragile and supported well by simple guitar and organ.  Then we transition to the vampy "If I Hear You Talk Apostrophes Again..." --

"Cocksure Boys" dials it back from "If I Hear", but I think it is my favorite track on the album.  "Half Lived" is dreamy and semi-psychedelic, with a full arrangement.  The final two songs are "Shot Out of a Cannon" and "There is No-One to Thank".  They both follow the dreamy approach of all the tracks except the second, but "There is No-One to Thank", in particular, is a very well realized pop song.

The album is released on Glasgow's Olive Grove Records, and is available on tape, with a free digital download to the purchaser.  The entire album can be streamed here:

Olive Grove Records

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A man and a loop pedal

Adam Stafford is a Glasgow-based musician and film maker.  We profiled him last year when he released his fine solo album, Build A Better Harbour Immediately.  One of the tracks was "Shot-Down You Summer Wannabes", a bit of Scottish doo-wop.  Here is a video of his performance of the song.  Note that the entire song is Adam's voice, and the deft use of a loop pedal.

Stafford's Page at Wise Blood Industries

Friday, May 18, 2012

Introducing: The Labelmates

We're introducing The Labelmates rather than helping you to "get to know them", because we really don't know much about them either.  The band lists Glasgow as their location.  They have a Facebook page, which tells you very little, and a Soundcloud page, which gives you a nice demo track that you can download.  There also is a Myspace page, which is an interesting artifact, because who uses Myspace these days?  They describe their music as mellow surf, and the demo below supports the description.  We hope there is more in the future.

"Pretty Girls Make Waves" is the free demo --

And a tip of the When You Motor Away motoring cap to Lawrence McCluskey (Strawberry Whiplash/Bubblegum Lemonade) for alerting about this band.

The Labelmates

The Soul Corner - Eddie Floyd "Knock on Wood' (feat. Donald "Duck" Dunn)

I have been reading so many thoughtful tributes to Donald Duck Dunn this week, and the number of great records the guy played on is amazing. And what a range of artists - Muddy Waters, Isaac Hayes, John Prine, Jimmy Buffett, Joan Baez, Duane Allman, The Staple Singers, Tom Petty, the list goes on and on -

Somehow the Soul Corner has not previously included this one, the Eddie Floyd classic "Knock on Wood":

And you get a Soul Corner bonus this week, a second Donald Duck Dunn classic, and one of my all-time favorites, a true desert island song for me.  "Ain't No Sunshine" with Bill Withers giving us one of the most soulful vocals of all time, backed by some wonderful bass playing by Duck Dunn:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Rocksteady's Seattle concert pick of the weekend

My concert pick of the weekend is the show at The Comet Tavern on Sunday night.  The bill includes local band Koko and the Sweetmeats and San Francisco's The Mallard.  The opening act is Telemesser.

Koko and the Sweetmeats play a tasty brand of psychedelic blues/garage rock, and you can try a bit from their show last fall at the Columbia City Theater:

The Mallard released one of my favorite albums of the year so far, Yes On Blood, and play a surfy garage rock with delightful sonic embellishments.

I hope everyone has a good time.  However, do not buy Greer too much beer if that neighborhood of Capital Hill is scheduled for trash pick up the next day.  Trust me on this.

A new single from Black Whales - "Vietnam"

One of the earliest exchanges I had with the Blogfather, John Hyland, after I started writing for this blog was about the shame that a band as good as Seattle's Black Whales wasn't on a label.  Their June 2011 album Shangri-La Indeed was excellent (our review here).  The psychedelic garage/folk rockers have returned this year with a digital single entitled "Vietnam".  The song is hazy, fuzzy, psyche  masterpiece.  It also features cover art from the band's frontman, Alex Robert.

"Vietnam" was released yesterday, and you can stream the single here in your choice of Soundcloud or Bandcamp.  You can purchase the song via Bandcamp, or at iTunes.

Black Whales are Alex Robert, Alan Foote, Davey Brozowski, Ryan Middleton and Dave Martin.  They will be playing the Sasquatch Festival at the Gorge, in Washington, on May 26 (scheduled for Noon on the Yeti Stage).

Twitter ( @blackwhales )