Tuesday, July 31, 2012

REVIEW: Langhorne Slim & The Law - The Way We Move

Portland, Oregon-based Langhorne Slim is one of those musicians who should be widely known and appreciated.  His Americana blend of folk, bluegrass and indie is affecting and catchy.  He writes good songs and performs them passionately.  So, is he famous?  Probably not, but that's show biz!  However, lack of fame doesn't deter When You Motor Away, which specializes writing about quality artists that haven't yet exploded on the big time.  Lanhorne Slim's latest album is The Way We Move, recorded by him and his current band, Langhorne Slim & The Law, and released last month on Ramseur Records.

Langhorne Slim knows his way around a ballad (take the time to find his "I Love You But Goodbye" from an earlier album; here's a You Tube link: link),  and this album contains several tracks, including "Song for Sid", that will burnish his reputation in that vein.  But, in my opinion, The Way We Move hits its highest points on the rollicking numbers.  Check out the title track --

Slim is a raw, soulful troubadour with a bit of punk attitude.  Thematically, the core of this album is loss -- the end of Slim's five year relationship, the death of his grandfather, moving out of his Portland home.  But emotionally, the music is vibrant and life-affirming.  And it is performed by a tight and energetic band.

"Great Divide" --

Slim's original name is Sean Scolnick, and he was raised in Pennsylvania and graduated from the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College.  He and his collaborators have released several albums over the past 12 years or so.  The current line-up is Langhorne Slim (vocals/guitar), Malachi DeLorenzo (drums), Jeff Ratner (bass), and David Moore (keys/banjo).

Live performance of "Salvation", one my my favorite slower-paced Langhorne Slim songs --

Twitter ( @LanghorneSlim )

New Psych/Punk Discovery - Two Bit Dezperados/Beat Mark Split 7" on SMFSP Records

We've featured a few earlier releases from SMFSP (Shit Music For Shit People) Records, the Lisbon/Turin-based label - Second H Sam and Strange Hands, to be specific. Now we're happy to share their latest, a crazy split single featuring Two Bit Dezperados' combination of psychedelia and tropicalia, and French group Beat Mark's near-shoegaze sound, with buzzing guitars underlaying male/female vocal harmonies:

Highly recommended if you're looking for something new, but delightfully evocative in the vein of Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles and Crystal Stilts, to name a few. It's out August 3, and you can buy it from Shit Music For Shit People online.

Introducing: Golden Grrrls

Golden Grrrls are a Glasgow/London-based three piece that is earning a growing acclaim in critical and fan arenas.  If I'm allowed to vote, and I think I am, I think they are great.  They have an album coming out on Night School Records in October, and a split 7" with California's Sea Lions very soon.  To give you a sample of their tasty sounds, here is the New Pop/Red Sea 7", which was released last November, and is available for "name your price" at the Bandcamp link below.

There is a delightful loose, lo-fi, Beat Happening vibe about this band, but with a bit more aggression in the tempo and arrangements.  I expect that they are very entertaining live.

The band is Ruari MacLean (guitar/vocals), Eilidh Rodgers (drums/vocals), and Rachel Aggs (guitar/vocals).  There are more songs available for streaming at the Soundcloud link below, and available for download at reasonable rates at the Bandcamp link.


Monday, July 30, 2012

"Frances", new song from Father Sculptor

True to their promise, Father Sculptor has released another track -- "Frances" is available to download free as of today, July 30.  This track both reveals the group's breadth and, I expect, puts the sword to the notion advanced by some that Father Sculptor are a reincarnation of the Smiths.  Sure, the melancholy and melody are there.  But the scope if the work is massive.  "Frances" features gorgeous synths, pounding drums and anthemic vocals, changes of pace and a palpable tension, building to a exhilarating climax.

The gang have promised another gift in two weeks.  Mark your calendars.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

First Aid Kit - new video for "Blue"

First Aid Kit has released a third video in support of their recent album The Lion's Roar (WYMA review here):

After playing Newport Folk Festival, they've got a few more US dates (including one with Alabama Shakes, you lucky Chicagoans) before returning to Europe to finish up their touring for a while (check out dates here).

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Will Johnson (Centro-matic) - Scorpion, new solo album due out Sept 11

Great news - a new release from Denton, TX artist Will Johnson - a solo record (with help, of course, from some of his talented friends, including Centro-matic bandmates). Scorpion is due out September 11 on Undertow/Thirty Tigers.

For this project, Johnson has decided to cut out the middleman and self-release the album direct to fans via Undertow Music/Thirty Tigers. Scorpion was recorded in the wooded outskirts of Denton, Texas, at the studio of longtime bandmate, producer and engineer Matt Pence. Also lending their skills to Scorpion are multi-instrumentalists Scott Danbom, Howard Draper and Magnolia Electric Company’s Mikey Kapinus.

Unlike Centro-matic’s Candidate Waltz or Johnson’s last solo album Vultures Await (both of which were written well in advance and recorded using carefully conceived arrangements), Scorpion documents the genesis and germination of its songs. “A lot of them,” Johnson says, “Were written in the studio, right then and there, in the moment. I enjoy capturing those initial gut reactions in songwriting. It doesn’t always work, but when it does — you capture the song in such a raw, unique form.”

You can get a download of the lead track, "You Will Be Here, Mine" - just click here. It's vintage Johnson - languid, slow-burning, with some terrific guitar supporting one of the most soulful voices in rock music.

Johnson is hitting the road this fall in support of Scorpion, with his friend and New Multitudes collaborator Anders Parker, playing a mix of traditional club shows and intimate acoustic living-room sets.

FRI Sept 14 - Waverly, AL @ Living Room Show
SAT Sept 15 - Birmingham, AL @ Living Room Show
SUN Sept 16 - Atlanta, GA @ Living Room Show
MON Sept 17 - Athens, GA @ Living Room Show
TUE Sept 18 - North Carolina area @ Living Room Show
WED Sept 19 - Baltimore, MD @ Living Room Show
FRI Sept 21 - Philadelphia @ Living Room Show
SAT Sept 22 - Brooklyn, NY @ Living Room Show
SUN Sept 23 - NYC @ Mercury Lounge
MON Sept 24 - Boston, MA @ Living Room Show
TUE Sept 25 - Montpelier VT @ Living Room Show
WED Sept 26 - Buffalo, NY @ Living Room Show
THU Sept 27 - Cleveland, OH @ Living Room Show
FRI Sept 28 - Chicago, IL @ Schuba's
Sat Sept 29 - Saint Louis @ Off Broadway
Tue Oct 2 - Dallas, TX @ Texas Theatre
Wed Oct 3 - Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald's
Thu Oct 4 - Austin, TX @ Cactus Cafe

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Soul Corner - Bobby Womack "The Bravest Man in the Universe"

A first at the Soul Corner - a brand new release. But it qualifies for our Friday feature because it comes from a classic artist, Bobby Womack, and is damn soulful. You may be able to pick up a free download for it like I did today by walking into to your local Starbucks and finding their card with the iTunes Song Pick of the Week. "The Bravest Man in the Universe" is the title track from Womack's new CD.

Some of you, like me, may love, while others not, the modern production here, but the man sure can sing and play guitar. The song and entire new CD was produced by UK electronic music pioneer Richard Russell and Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz).

Womack of course played with a host of great artists, including Aretha, Janis Joplin, and on Sly and the Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On.  He wrote "It's All Over Now", popularized by the Rolling Stones. He had worked with Albarn previously, contributing on some Gorillaz music.

Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New (and free) song from The Louche

This Manchester band has appeared on these pages in the past (here and here), but not as The Louche.  You see, when we wrote about them in 2011 they were Louche FC.  Before then, the were known as The Bicycle Thieves (please note the difference between 'known as the bicycle thieves' and 'known as bicycle thieves', as we do not want to be accused of libel).  One hopes that the current name sticks, because it would be a shame to build up a fan base and then confuse them.  And they are in danger of building a fan base, because their string of excellent past songs has been well supplemented by current offering: "Salt".  Here is the video:

Dense, guitar-driven and melodic--just what we like.  And if you like it too, here is a download:

The Louche is comprised of Kyoko Swan, Luke Byron Scott, Adam Dawson and Dave White.  Their label is Sways Records.  I would say that I've been waiting patiently for an album, but that would be half untrue.  We are waiting...

One of the older tunes, "Romantic" --

Twitter (@louchefc )
Sways Records

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brooklyn band The Babies will be releasing their Our House On The Hill LP on the Woodsist label this fall.  To whet our appetite, a two track single will be available on August 14.  You can listen to the excellent A-side, "Moonlight Mile", below --

The B-side for the single is "Places".

The Babies were founded by Kevin Morby (who also plays with Woods) and Cassie Ramone (of the Vivian Girls), and has expanded to include Justin Sullivan and Brian Schleyer.  I'm a big fan of their loose, lo-fi approach, and "Moonlight Mile" has me eagerly anticipating the release of  Our House On The Hill.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

REVIEW: The Blakes - Art of Losses

When I read that The Blakes had left Seattle for their Maine motherland to record their third full length album, I was concerned.  Sometimes sequestration in a different environment can produce great works, but it also can lead to insular product, inscrutable to all not involved.  Well, I'm happy to report that all is well.  Art of Losses is an excellent album -- A wide spectrum alt rock/garage pop thesis and, in my opinion, the most consistent of this band's career.

As suggested by the title, the theme of the album is loss, and dealing with loss.  But rather than allow their inspiration to weigh down the proceedings, Garnet Keim, Snow Keim and Bob Husak have used it to push themselves artistically.  The title track provides a fine introduction to the album's sound --

The Blakes have always been a straightforward band.  The sound is stripped to the basics rock, with crunchy guitars and powerpop vocals, both of which honor their '60s influences without mimicking them.  But straightforward doesn't mean limited.  A primary reason I think that the band have been one of the consistently best over the last decade is their ability to coherently and entertainingly express themselves in a variety of styles -- from swampy, bluesy and booze-soaked to dreamy and melodic.  I'll provide a few examples, below.

In "Sea Fishing (Slow It Down)", The Blakes craft a swaggering slice of rock that wouldn't be out of place in the Rolling Stones catalog.

A raunchy, bar-band sing-a-long side of the band is exemplified by "Paralysis" --

Yet, the band is fully comfortable writing and performing a sincere, high quality indie pop song, such as "Old Gal" --

That The Blakes have not yet captured a wider audience is a shame.  But for those of you who didn't know about them before, now you have your chance to grab the work of one of the country's finer bands.  This is your chance.  Don't screw it up.

Twitter ( @theblakesband )

New (and free) songs from The Mouse that Ate the Cat

The Mouse That Ate The Cat is a Glasgow indie electro-pop band consisting of Brian Henderson (vocals and synths) and Colin Keenan (guitar).  They appeared on these pages a few times in 2011, and have earned a return trip owing to their ability and extraordinary generosity.  On the latter point, we have several sets of free songs for you to enjoy and, if you like them, download.  Enjoy!

The latest release is the this two-track single --

And here is a single from May, also available for free download --

And if you act now, here is the very free two-track "Lightbulbs" single --

Twitter ( @TMTATC )

Monday, July 23, 2012

New single from The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes will be releasing Observator, their new LP, early in the fall on Vice Records.  For those of us interested in the upcoming delights to be found on the album, the single "She Owns the Streets", became available this month.  The song celebrates individuality and punk attitude.  Apparently it was written about a street dancer named Loan Tran, who also stars in this video made to accompany the track.

As expected, it appears that we can expect another album full of ear candy from my favorite Danish expats.  Is it bad form to wish fall to come along sooner?

Twitter ( @theraveonettes )

REVIEW: Eternal Summers -

Eternal Summers were known for their lo-fi, jangly, dreamy, punk infused sound through their earlier EPs and debut album.  Correct Behavior is the band's sophomore LP, and its first recorded output as a three piece, as Nicole Yun and Daniel Cudiff have added bassist Jonathan Woods.  With the broader sonic complexity comes a slightly different and more sophisticated sound.  Perhaps my best effort at a description would be a combination of The Sundays and Ride -- "dreamgaze" anyone?  But heavier rock sounds still creep in to provide a distinctive accent to the proceedings.

The additional power and complexity is ably displayed on the opening track, "Millions" --


In tracks like "I Love You", "You Kill" and "Summerset", the dream pop influence dominates the proceedings.  But tracks like "Heaven and Hell" demonstrate that the band is comfortable in the shoegaze segment of the spectrum --

My favorite track is the crunchy power-pop anthem "Wonder" --

Correct Behavior is a satisfying album.  It delivers hooky, full-bodied dream pop, and the music is diverse enough without losing cohesiveness.  Moreover, I think it establishes Eternal Summers' bona fides as a band with the chops to evolve and gather fans in the years to come.

Kanine Records

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New video from Crocodiles - "Endless Flowers"

Here's a new video from the Crocodiles for the title cut from their latest album Endless Flowers (WYMA review here):

Their combination of noise, guitar buzz, and sweet, almost doo-wop vocal harmonies really grabbed me... If by chance you don't have this record yet, I'm not sure what else you might be waiting for. Perhaps you were looking for a crazy video... and maybe this did it for you.

Soul Corner RIP - Bob Babbitt

 Motown Funk Brother Bob Babbitt, one of the great soul music bass players, died Friday in Nashville at age 74.

Babbitt was recruited to Motown by the legendary James Jamerson in 1967 and brought a rock edge, creating some of that label's most memorable hits: The Temptations "Ball of Confusion", Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)", Smokey Robinson's "Tears of A Clown" and Edwin Starr's "War".

Babbitt's resume is way too long to recount here.  He even played behind Frank Sinatra. But few songs have opened with a better bass line than this one we previously featured on the Soul Corner (Soul Corner - Cool Jerk):

Here's Babbitt playing in the Funk Brothers documentary film (good shot at 1:19 mark) supporting Joan Osborne on one of my all time favorite Motown tributes:

And for my money, having played on this song alone ought to have earned Bob Babbitt Hall of Fame status:

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Soul Corner - Gene Chandler "Nothing Can Stop Me"

Gene Chandler is one of the all time great Chicago soul artists, with a long career as a performer, writer, producer and record company executive. Of course, "Duke of Earl"(1961) is an all time classic. But I am very partial to his 1964 hit "Nothing Can Stop Me":

Alright, okay, you get "Duke of Earl" too:

New Country Rock Discovery: Murder By Death - "I Came Around", from Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon (out 9/25)

Murder By Death is a Bloomington, IN-based outfit playing a raucous blend of indie rock and barroom country. The band consists of singer/songwriter Adam Turla, Sarah Balliet on cello and Scott Brackett on backing vocals, piano, trumpet, and accordion, Dagan Thogerson on drums and Matt Armstrong on bass. The lead single "I Came Around" has a rollicking feel backing Turla's John Doe-meets-Nick Cave vocals:

The album is available for preorder via Bloodshot Records website, or via the band's Kickstarter page, with some pretty elaborate packages available. Either way, you get the single as a free download.

New single from ExLovers

Last month we reviewed Moth, the excellent debut LP from London's ExLovers (review here).  On Monday, July 23, the band are releasing album track "Emily" as a single on the Young and Lost Club label.  The track is both beautiful and melancholic.  Here is accompanying video, which the band directed and shot themselves while in Japan.

Here is a sound file of the track --

I think ExLovers are one of the truly exceptional indie bands to debut an album this year.  If for some good reason, such as losing all of your money speculating on commodities futures, you haven't acquired Moth yet, you can get the single to have a piece of the band until those investments pay off.

Young and Lost Club

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New video from PS I Love You - "Toronto"

Here's a new video from WYMA favorites PS I Love You, for album track "Toronto".

If you haven't already, you can read our review of Death Dreams here. Short version: We like it, and PS We LOVE the guitars.

REVIEW: Pale Sunday - The Fake Stories About You and Me

I make quite an effort to keep my eyes and ears open for that great indie guitar pop sound.  I'm accustomed to finding it in Scotland, England, Sweden, Finland, California, Seattle, New Zealand, Australia, and even Singapore (if you haven't listened to Obedient Wives Club, you are missing a treat).  But we get by with a little help from our friends (phrase trademarked by Rocksteady74 LLC), and in this case, the friend is Jimmy at Matinee Recordings. Thanks to Jimmy, we know about  Pale Sunday -- A Brazilian power pop/twee pop four piece whose The Fake Stories About You and Me EP continues Matinee Recordings' 2012 string of high quality releases.

"Happy (When You Lived Here)" is a lovely, jangly melody that may remind you Belle & Sebastian both in sound and in melancholic sentiments.  It also is available for free download.

The robust guitars and plaintive vocals of the second and third tracks, About Your Life and That's the Way, earn fair comparisons to Teenage Fanclub's powerpop portfolio.   The EP closes with the gentle Winter Song, on which piano and strings are added to the accompaniment.

Pale Sunday has chosen it's influences well, and executed its own interpretation of the genre in an excellent and affecting fashion.  And their shimmering pop arrangements and warm harmonies make The Fake Stories About You and Me EP a perfect record for your summer collection.

The members of Pale Sunday are Luiz Gustavo (bass/vocals), Sineval (guitar), Tiago Fuzz (guitar/synths), and AZ (drums/backing vocals).  Several of their previous releases can be streamed at their website and purchased from Matinee Records, the links for both of which are below.

Matinee Recordings page for Pale Sunday

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

REVIEW: Ozarks - Ozarks

If you enjoy Flaming Lips and Jason Lytle (Grandaddy), I probably don't need to tell you any more about Robbie Augspurger and Eric Lee's Ozarks than to say you will definitely like it. If you don't, you may want to give this a chance anyway... there are more Hollies, Beach Boys, Beatles and other 60's/70's-inspired pop/rock moments than you can count. Actually, Augspurger wants you to count them...

I’ve been obsessed with recording music since I was about 13 years old, when I read The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn. I loved that book and must have read it over 20 times until finally, its binding disintegrated. The dream of my youth was to get a mixing console so I could de-construct the Beatles’ mixes, until I discovered I’d need the master tapes to do that. So instead, I analyzed their stereo mixes one channel at a time on my dad’s old quadraphonic hi-fi system, trying to pick out sounds I’d never heard before.

That’s another thing we wanted to try with this record—have people pick out the references we make in the music. We thought it would be a funny thing to do.

Funny, maybe. Definitely enjoyable. This is a fun record that, like the work of Lytle, Coyne (and dare I say, Brian Wilson?) really rewards repeated listening. In addition to the baroque keyboard and vocal elements, check out the guitar lines on songs like "Out Of Tune" - a country-sounding break early on, and some sweet slide guitar later, with reverb laid on top. Every song reveals moments like this once you give them the chance.

Here's the video for album track "Pyramids of Love". Looks like Andy Kaufmann, sings like Wayne Coyne:

And you can download Pyramids of Love here.

As a non-album bonus, here's a video for Ozarks' cover of the Beach Boys' "Til I Die":

It's out now on Wil-Ru Records.

New EP from We Are John Wean

We Are John Wean are four guys who write and play songs about girls, life, girls, love and girls.  The  band was formed in 2009, and currently is based in Glasgow.  Earlier this week they released their EP New York Doesn't Love You.  The songs feature melody and hooks, and, in the title track, a modern love story with Facebook stalking.  And here it is --

And if you just want the audio:

The band is Conor Cartwright (vocals/rhythm guitar), Jude Smith (vocals/bass guitar/piano), Stuart Anderson (lead guitar), and Simon Coakley (drums), and they are from Uddingston.  They first caught my eye, or ears, with their humorous single "Desperate Dan (She Told Me She Was Single)" in which the narrator ponders his upcoming demise at the hand of the boyfriend of the girl he recently slept with. I marked them as a band to follow, and nothing on offer in the EP has changed my opinion.

Twitter ( @JohnWean )
iTunes (UK)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Spanish Folk Rock Discovery: Maria Rodés - Sueño Triangular​

Maria Rodés is a Spanish singer/songwriter who is creating some of the most beautiful pop music I've heard in some time... touching on folk, alt/country and even some gently rocking soul, but with an almost supernatural voice in front of all the tempos and arrangements.

Here's the lead track "Te Vi" - gently picked acoustic guitar, lush keyboards, and that voice:

And here's the second song "Cae Lo Que Fuego Fue", which features a gently rocking second half, and serves as a good example of the variety and quality of her songs on this record:

Here's "Mirall" - the vocals, again:

It's out now on BCore Disc.

REVIEW: The Young Evils - Foreign Spells

In the timeless battle between good and evil, good often triumphs.  But as we grow up, we learn that there are times when evil wins.  Such is the case in the current Seattle indie scene, where the current  winning act is evil.  Or, to be more precise, The Young Evils.  And in the case of this band, we find ourselves in the position of cheering for evil.

The band was founded by Troy Nelson (guitar/songwriter/lead male vocals) and Mackenzie Mercer (female vocals), who met working in Seattle's Easy Street Records.  Cody Hurd was in the band near the beginning as well.   In 2010, they released Enchanted Chapel, a delightfully good debut LP full of energetic guitar pop and well-crafted ballads that cracked my list of top 20 albums for the year.  They are back, now as a five piece, with the four-track EP Foreign Spells.

Like its predecessor, Foreign Spells features fast paced songs with male/female vocals that sometimes are sung in unison and sometimes dueling.  However, for this release Troy's songs have a more complexity and a far darker shade, and the band's sonic palette is fuller.  They aren't yet in The Raveonettes territory in terms of sound and style, but they are discernible distance closer than they were two years ago.  And it should be noted that while Mercer's vocals were a standout on Enchanted Chapel, her gifts are even better showcased in her boyfriend's current set of songs.

Here is the single, and probably the best track -- "Young Animals" --

In addition to Troy Nelson  and Mackenzie Mercer, The Young Evils are Cody Hurd (guitar), Michael Lee (bass), and Eric Wennberg (drums).  Faustine Hudson played the drums on the EP.  The band's performance on the EP is tight and confident, and I think that Foreign Spells will serve as an excellent springboard for their continued development.

If you can't find a physical copy, or just like the digital route, Foreign Spells is priced to move on Amazon and Bandcamp.

You can stream the entire EP on the Bandcamp link below.

By the way, the busy Mr. Nelson also is a DJ at Seattle's influential KEXP (web listening link here), where he holds down the Friday 9pm to Saturday 1am slot and subs in the mornings for John Richards from time to time.

Twitter ( @TheYoungEvils )

New song from POST

POST is a Glasgow/Manchester we've been following enthusiastically for some time.  Just yesterday they released a proper single New Play Thing on the Blue Fur and We Can Still Picnic labels.  It is a very infectious vamping tune that will remind you of Franz Ferdinand (or, if you go back that far, Josef K).  And I have no doubt that there will be dancing feet to this track.  You can give the record a test spin with the promotional video right here.

The CD version of the single is available in stores in Glasgow, Manchester and London.  Digital copies are available in the usual digital outlets.

POST is Graham Wann, Craig Forbes, Adam Florence and Chris Elkin.  They have shows planned for Glasgow and London in the fall, and are planning to add August and September dates.  If you like these guys, and I highly recommend them, follow them through their website and Facebook pages, because the chose a name that is sure to frustrate those who try to research them via Google or other search engines.

We Can Still Picnic - Facebook

Monday, July 16, 2012

Video of PreTeen's performance of "Irene"

As readers here know, I'm very fond of the music of San Francisco band PreTeen.  I recently became aware of a video for their live performance of "Irene" from last November, so I am sharing it with you.


Introducing: Orca Team

Seattle/Portland act Orca Team boasts an interesting and somewhat unusual sound that I describe as a mid-fi, semi-restrained surf pop with plenty of reverb and prominent bass lines.  Oh, and it sounds great.  They currently are on tour with dates in the eastern and midwest United States, and a few dates further west.

Their latest release is the 11-track Restraint album that they released last month.  Here is a video for one of the album tracks, "Too Busy to Love Me" --

You can stream it the entire album here.  If you're like me, you'll find the songs worming their way into you brain.

They have several other releases to their credit, which can be explored at the Bandcamp link below, and sourced via Bandcamp or their label, HHBTM Records (Happy Birthday to Me Records) in Athens, Georgia (link below).

The members of Orca Team are Dwayne Cullen (drums), Jessica B. (guitar), and Leif Anders (bass and vocals).

HHBTM Records

New song from Father Sculptor

One of our most popular discoveries this year, and a personal favorite of mine, has been the talented Glasgow group Father Sculptor.  The lads have decided to follow up their excellent spring record Ember/Blue by releasing a single every two weeks through the summer.  And here is the first -- "Rhein", available July 16.  As with the spring release, this track features a beautiful melody, multiple sonic textures and a building tension.  Quite simply, it represents topnotch songcraft, and it continues to make the case that Father Sculptor, despite their recent entrance stage right, yields to no one in the ability to create emotionally evocative pop music.  Rarely does music make you feel so good about feeling melancholic.

And as a remedial lesson for those who are late to the WYMA party (sorry, you missed all the free beer), here are the aforementioned "Ember" and "Blue".

This band is building an impressive body of work, and if you are going to let anyone play your heartstrings with their guitar pics, these are the guys you'll choose.  Check back every fortnight; we intend to be along for the ride.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Free song from Black Whales

One of my favorite Seattle Bands, Black Whales, has made their recently released single available for free download for a limited time.  "Vietnam" is a good song, so get busy.


The Soul Corner - Bettye LaVette "You Don't Know Me At All'

I had the great pleasure of seeing Bettye LaVette at the Portland Bluesfest last Saturday. It was a gorgeous hot day on the downtown Portland riverfront. Bettye, playing while the sun was beating down on the stage at the hottest point of the day, thanked people for coming and said "I wouldn't stand out there in this heat to see Jesus walk on the water."
And while Bettye didn't quite walk across the Willamette River, she did remind me why she's my favorite living soul singer. She can belt out the rough soul rockers and then bring every last ounce of sympathy out of a ballad. And Bettye's stage presence is brassy, funny and utterly candid. If you run into at her and end up chatting her up, ask her about a night out drinking with Lucinda Williams.

This song, co-written and originally recorded by Don Henley, was performed at a similar summer festival and gives you a great flavor for both LaVette's attitude and performance chops:

And speaking of Lucinda, here's Bettye doing "Joy":

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Introducing Teenage Burritos

I love the lo-fi girl group garage sound of Teenage Burritos.  We have two of their songs for you to enjoy, but first indulge me as I tell you what I know about them.  They are from San Diego, and the members are Kirsten on guitar, Rachel on drums and Emily on guitar.  As for other information....um...have I mentioned that they are from San Diego?  I guess I have.  OK, then, listen, enjoy, and look for more from this band.

Actually, we do have a bit more information.  The band will be releasing a tape in a few weeks on Burger Records.  We think Burger Records has good taste, and we know that we have good taste, so that gives you two votes for Teenage Burritos.  As for whether burgers and burritos are a good combination, that's a matter of individual preference, but it may cause you to increase your supply of condiments.

Burger Records

Through the Sparks - Alamalibu

I love summer soups.  You know the kind -- chilled with a bit of spice and lots of different ingredients. It seems it can be a great template for an album as well.  Exhibit A, is Alamalibu (June release on Skybucket Records), the recent EP from Birmingham, Alabama's Through the Sparks.  

The band's intent to blend styles is signaled by the EP's title, a mash-up of their Alabama locale and the legendary Southern California beach community.  Then note that wonderful album art with a crustacean riding on top of muscle car.   But these guys aren't just about flashy PR.  The important thing -- the music itself -- is a welcome summer concoction of crunchy southern indie and sunny west coast power pop.  Here is lead track "Brion Monchus" --

Through the Sparks was formed in 2003, and has several LPs and previous EPs under their belt.
The band is new to me, so I can't compare previous efforts.  However, this EP promises you music born of two enduring styles, and ably delivers it.  I highly recommend Alamalibu for your summer soundtrack.

"Warring Arms" --

"Angel Fix" --

Skybucket Records

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New single from Shambles Miller

Shambles Miller is a Glasgow indie folk musician who has featured on the blog previously.  He returns today because he has released a two-track single entitled Confessions.  Released on Monday, the limited edition CDs already are sold out, but regular CDs and digital downloads remain available.  If you'd like to take if for a test drive, here it is --

In addition to a fine sense of melody (and an accent Americans may find a bit thick), Shambles' songs tend to be characterized by a deft sense of humor.  In that vein, and as an added feature, we've linked to another fine blog on which Shambles reports his experiences with speed dating (speed dating).

Twitter ( @shamblesmiller )

REVIEW: Deep Time - Deep Time

The self-tiled release from Austin, Texas duo Deep Time manages a difficult feat: Nine songs of undeniably minimalist pop that still manage to give the listener good weight.  It seems to me that Jenifer Moore and Adam Jones accomplish that task by paying careful attention to the structure of the songs, and then providing a more robust rhythmic element via drums and bass that one would expect in a minimalist genre.  And ultimately, that prominent, almost tribal rhythm and Moore's vocals provide a otherworldly thrust that elevates Deep Time to a very interesting and satisfying listen.  Expect the unexpected, vocalizations that go beyond lyrics, and changes in tempo, volume and atmosphere mid-song.  While Moore's prior vocal work with the Carrots was more of the girl-group variety,  her contribution here is a shadow-tinged indie styling that reveals her to be a strong and innovative vocalist.

If you are the kind of pop fan that demands that an album choose its public face from the opening note and stick with it to the end, you'll likely appreciate, but not fall in love with this album (but if you are that kind of listener, you might not be reading this blog at all).  For those that like some surprises, and don't mind been asked to think a bit while enjoying a good song, you'll like this one.

This band originally was known as Yellow Fever, but were forced to choose a new name for legal reasons.  Deep Time was recorded in Austin and released yesterday by Hardly Art.

Hardly Art

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chelsea Light Moving - new Thurston Moore project

Chelsea Light Moving is the new project from Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, including in addition to Moore (guitar/vocals/songwriter), Keith Wood (guitar), Samara Lubelski (bass) and John Moloney (drums).

They've released a new song, "Groovy and Linda" - billed as a paean to the 60's counterculture scene in New York City, it features, in addition to some truly spectacular guitar shredding, the chilling repeated lyric "Don't shoot, we are your children"... You can download it free, courtesy of Matador Records, by clicking here.

Here is what Moore has to say about the song:

Not to be confused with the 1968 coffee house folk song by Tom Parrott (recorded for Smithsonian Folkways), this chug n’ shred burner is a psycho reflection of late 60s NYC East Village hippie idealism slayed and splayed in an Avenue B tenement boiler room. Groovy was the boy born James Leroy Hutchinson from modest American means and Linda was Linda Fitzpatrick, she from a privileged nuclear household, both runaways to the lysergic pulchritude of peace, love and marijuana. When The Fugs went on tour in 1967 ringleader Ed Sanders enlisted Groovy to care take his Peace Eye bookstore at a “secret location on the lower east side” (E. 10th St., actually). An incredible underground poetry bookstore/art gallery/hip hang out and orgy hook up scene, Groovy turned it into a barefoot mantra crash pad for all the beautiful zonkers and speed freaks of alphabet city. It was hard for even a grouch like Sanders to get too miffed at Groovy who actually believed in the wild animal dreams of hippie. Groovy was in love with Linda, a starry-eyed goddess nymph and they were the power flower couple of Tompkins Square. Tragedy flapped its nightmare wings and the two were found brutally beaten and killed bathed in blood and mystery amidst their tie-dye rags and rolling papers. It signaled the end of the fairytale that the media presented in day-glo color come-hitherness in the pages of Life and Look magazine. The following year Charles Manson and his dune buggy motherfuckers would exact an even farther cry of chaos and killing in the bamboozled hills of Los Angeles. We, Chelsea Light Moving, want to mantra the names of these two angels of beauty, regardless of the cynicism and naïveté of youth, for these are the charms of the soul. “Don’t shoot!!” ----- we are your children……


Thurston Moore

Here's the video for guitar shredder "Burroughs", which was released recently:

It's an intriguing and promising development, and it will be out on Matador in the fall.

REVIEW: Milk Maid - Mostly No

Milk Maid was founded in 2009 by Nine Black Alps bassist Martin Cohen.  Initially the venture was a side project to provide an outlet for his own songwriting ambitions.  The result was 2011's Yucca, an excellent mix of classic powerpop swathed in shoegaze and Jesus and Mary Chain distortion.  Mostly No, which is released this week on FatCat Records, represents a step forward in several respects, and not only in that Cohen has resigned for the Alps to concentrate on Milk Maid.  Cohen's songwriting on this album seems sharper and more assured.  And while both albums were home-recorded, Martin used the live shows following Yucca's release to test and refine the songs on Mostly No with the touring band.  It seems to me that the result is songs with more sonic range and more emotional swagger.  For all its good points, and there were many, Yucca had a bit of a bedroom recording feel to it.  A feel that I think Mostly No shrugs off despite its origins.  This may be a sophomore album chronologically, but the development it represents indicates that this band can compete with the Ty Segall, White Fence and others who are reshaping the influences that keep us coming back to rock music.

Here is the third track, "Do Right".  It is a terrific jolt of greasy, distorted rock and roll, and it is available for a free download --

Apparently, creating Mostly No wasn't without its difficulties, among them line-up changes and financial difficulties.  Perhaps some of the darkness in the album reflects its creation, but I don't want to give the impression that it is a downbeat listen.  It is lively, scuzzy and a bit psychedelic.  And it isn't devoid of positive messages.  Try "Summertime", a wonderful jolt of distortion with a suggestion that the desperate  hold on until summertime before considering suicide --

This is lo-fi indie, without synths or production gimmicks.  Mostly No just delivers pop songs with hooks, noise and feedback.  Is that what we wanted?  Well yes, yes it is.  And an additional bit of good news is that Cohen has begun writing Milk Maid's third album.

If you are collecting rock and roll this year, Mostly No has earned a spot on your list.

"Bad Luck" --

FatCat Records

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Glasgow Flower Show - Documentary

No, you haven't stumbled on a horticulture blog in error, this really is about music.  In mid-February of this year Glasgow label and multi-media collective Flowers in the Dustbin held a two day event celebrating the contribution of Flower's artists to the underground indie scene in Glasgow.  Flowers filmed it all for a documentary entitled The Glasgow Flower Show, and is launching the documentary with a 15 minute taster they call "the propaganda edition".  The propaganda contains contributions from  artist, bloggers, journalists, DJs and audience members, as well as clips of artists performing at the event.  Two of those acts, Kick to Kill and Mummy Short Arms have feature on these pages in recent months (and if we'd been aware of For Able's Yorkshire when it was released last November, we would have covered that as well).

Flowers in the Dustbin motto -- "be reasonable - demand genius" -- sets a high standard for the proceedings, and we think the event hurdles the bar with room to spare.  It certainly will be of interest to fans of Scottish indie, but we expect that it will appeal more broadly to those interested in music  We've embedded the propaganda edition below for your perusal.  And we'll immodestly add that the alert viewer will note at about the six minute mark a clip from this blog's review of the Kick to Kill release.

Twitter ( @FlowersDustbin )

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Dirty Blues Discovery: Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg - Painkillers

James Leg, who sings dirty blues in a voice that makes Tom Waits sound operatic, and Left Lane Cruiser, who play dirty blues as a duo, have combined forces to release Painkillers, an album of, you guessed it, dirty blues. It seems every generation rediscovers the glory of the blues, and this one is no different. Whereas the Stones worked with Howling Wolf and Clapton covered Robert Johnson and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, these cats are mixing their "original" blues with some later generation stuff.

It was recorded in Detroit, and with the involvement of Jim Diamond and Alive/Naturalsound Records, the pedigree is impeccable... but check out the song lineup.

Covers on this record include "Little Red Rooster", "Shake It" and "Come To Poppa":

But it also includes some pretty inspired choices: "Sway", "When The Levee Breaks", and "If 6 Was 9". These are not as you have heard them before... to say the least, and in their stripped-down, dirty versions is a combination of reverence toward the progenitors of the blues and a spirit of pure enjoyment that is rare to find.

This is a fun record for anybody with a taste for the blues.

Buy at Alive/Naturalsound Records

Friday, July 6, 2012

Duck Migrations: The Mallard on tour in July and August

It is July, the sun finally is out in Seattle (residents, please be calm -- a couple of hours a day for a few weeks is not harmful) and one of my favorite young bands, The Mallard, is swinging through the Pacific Northwest to begin their multi-state campaign to win your hearts.  It represents a great chance to see the band (now a foursome) play the songs from their great debut, Yes On Blood (our review here) and new ones for the second album.  Their brand of surfy, echo-garage rock is just right for a night out. I've seen them live, and they are worth the effort.

Here is the final track of Yes On Blood, "You Got the Critics" --

The dates and venues are as follows:
06/16/2012 Brick and Mortar w/Burnt Ones 
07/08/2012 Doug Fir Lounge Portland OR w/wimps
07/09/2012 Funhouse Seattle WA w/wimps
07/10/2012 The Manor Caldwell ID 
07/11/2012 Zoo City Missoula MT 
07/13/2012 The Aquarium Fargo ND w/Blind Shake 
07/14/2012 Turf Club St. Paul MN w/Blind Shake 
07/15/2012 Empty Bottle Chicago w/Blind Shake + Terrible Twos
07/17/2012 Frank’s Power Plant Milwaukee w/Blind Shake 
07/18/2012 Gabe’s Oasis Iowa City IA 
07/19/2012 Replay Lounge Lawrence, KS 
07/20/2012 Hi Dive Denver CO 
07/22/2012 Bootleg Theatre Los Angeles CA w/Magic Trash
08/08/2012 Tractor Tavern Seattle WA w/Shonen Knife
08/09/2012 Dante’s Portland OR w/Shonen Knife 
08/10/2012 Bottom of the Hill San Francisco w/Shonen Knife
08/11/2012 Blank Club San Jose CA w/Shonen Knife
08/12/2012 Alex’s Bar Long Beach CA w/Shonen Knife
08/13/2012 Casbah San Diego CA w/Shonen Knife

And from the debut album, "Fog" --

The band is helmed by vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Greer McGettrick, and includes Dylan Tidyman-Jones (guitars/keys/vocals), Dylan Edrich (bass/guitar) and Miles Luttrell (drums).

They even grew up and got a video:

Oh, the T-shirt designs are pretty cool, too.

Castleface Records