Wednesday, October 31, 2012

REVIEW: Sam Russell - The Year of the Cow



The Americana soul and doo-wop folk of Sam Russell and his collaborators, The Harborrats, have featured on this pages several times, but this appearance represents a little change of pace.  In The Year of the Cow, Sam has pared down the contributing musicians and recorded an album of folk music.  In essence, this is the first solo album in Sam's Blue Moon Bible project, in which he intends to record eight albums consisting of eight songs each with recurring characters.  The Year of The Cow is the sixth in the series, by my count (although, as a former history major, I disclaim any responsibility for counting accurately).

This approach emphasizes Sam's warm,  comfortably worn vocal delivery and the sincerity of the compositions.  And both the delivery and the quality of the songs are capable of the burden of carrying the album.  As the rainy season reaches the Pacific Northwest, and I look for musical accompaniment for my late night reflection, my choice these days is The Year of the Cow.  The overall effect is that Sam is singing his stories just for you.  And that is a very good way to spend some time.

Here are two of my favorites, "Monkey Trap" and "Mirage" --





If you would like to evaluate the entire album, you can stream it in its entirety at the Bandcamp site linked below.

The Year of the Cow was recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered in Seattle.  All songs are written by Sam except for the closing track, "Whatever's Left", which was composed by Zoe Muth.  The credits are Sam Russell (vocals and guitar), Ken Nottingham (upright bass and harmonica), Michael Spaly (fiddle, mandolin, banjo and percussion), and Daniel Walker (piano on "Whatever's Left").

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Duck Migrations, Part II - The Mallard flies East



San Francisco's psych/surf rockers The Mallard are on the move again.  Apparently rested after their summer west coast and Midwest swing, they are gracing the east in November.  It appears that they'll be done in time for The Mallard to eat turkey at home.  We made our feelings about the band's debut album, Yes On Blood, know earlier this year (review).  But in case you need a refresher, here is one of my favorite tracks from that album.



The Mallard also participated in a Velvet Underground tribute album curated by their label, Castle Face Records.  The limited run vinyl album was sold out at the pre-order stage, but individual songs are available for download.  The Mallard's contribution this smashing version of VU's "There She Goes Again".  Ahem ... note the download button.

I've seen these guys live, and it is worth your effort.

1/07 DC Comet Pizza and Ping Pong
11/10 Toronto Parts and Labour

11/11 Detroit Lager House
11/12 8ball Ann Arbor
11/13 Chicago Empty Bottle
11/14 Cleveland Case University
11/15 Cleveland Now That’s Class
11/16 Pittsburgh Garfield Arts
11/17 New York Cake Shop
11/18 Brooklyn Death By Audio

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Monday, October 29, 2012

REVIEW: The Ampersands - This Is Your Adventure Too


The Ampersands are a New York-based rock band playing power pop - really good power pop, smart and catchy a la Fountains of Wayne. On This Is Your Adventure Too, you will hear echoes of all kinds of indie rock you have enjoyed, and there's plenty of creativity and smarts on this record... name me the last rock record you heard with two 5-syllable words in the lead track?

Opening track "Exoskeleton" (one of the big words - the other is "photosynthesize", because, hey, why not challenge your listeners to think if you're talented enough to write this stuff?) is a very good example of the quiet/loud indie aesthetic, and of the creativity in their approach. This is a song about a guy who's decided that the way to keep himself from getting hurt is to construct a protective outer shell (and no spine!) The first verse is intoned quietly, nearly whispered, until the guitars ramp up and it's off to the races. The second track, "Try This", is a very good song - bouncy, catchy - a real delight, with lyrics that intersperse encouragement and mythological imagery, another example of these guys' pretty unique approach. And they're happy for you to have a copy of this song for your very own - click here to download.




And you can listen, read their thoughts, stream and buy the whole thing at their website. It's as good an album website as I've seen - like I said, these guys are smart, creative and imaginative. If you like your music catchy, but with a brain, this will be something for you to enjoy.

On the website, it's set up as Side One and Two, and there does seem to be a split - Side Two's songs are mostly ballads, except for the last song. It's a short instrumental that doesn't really sound much like the rest of the record. Not surprisingly to me, these cats named it "Outlier". Like I said, smart. Lead men Aaron McQuade and Jim Pace have the voices to carry the ballads, too - and you know that isn't always the case with power pop bands.

All told, this is a very entertaining record - a welcome development and one of my favorites of the year so far.

REVIEW: Plateaus - Plateaus LP


Marrying the harder-edged punk side of power pop with the better produced end of garage pop, and garnished with a dose of punk attitude and surf-rock riffs, San Diego's Plateaus have recorded one my favorite garage pop albums of the year.  The songs are brief, hook-filled, energetic and noisy.  The drums pound, the heavy bass fuzzes and the dominating guitars bring the distortion and reverb.  Try them out with one of the album tracks that previously was released as a single.



Plateaus are Kevin Gist Chris Rosi, Jon Greene and Elliot Moeller.  They have been building buzz on the west coast via their energetic shows and some well received 7" for Art Fag Records, which also is the label for this record.  This fall they toured with Colleen Green, and the hard-working guys both played their own set and served as Colleen's back up band.


Plateaus "Do It For You" (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO) from Dusty Dirtweed on Vimeo.

So, if you want to beef up your fall playlist with some muscle with hooks, this record is fully loaded with what you're looking for.



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Friday, October 26, 2012

Check out this cool video from Jamaica's Courtney John Project



When you update to the next version of ITunes and see that the genre list has been expanded to include "Rootstronic," you're going to thank us for having kept you ahead of the curve. That's what the cool kids are calling this startlingly unique blend of Kingston mashup and dubstep electronica you'll hear in the video below from the Courtney John Project. The sound may be new, but the creators are far from rookies. Courtney John, on the right in the photo, is becoming well known in his home country and the US for his Lovers Rock reggae, including 2009's critically acclaimed Made in Jamaica, released by Jamaican label FiWi Music. Steven "Lenky" Marsden (left) is is a Grammy-winning dancehall producer and multi-instrumentalist, while producer Nastasia "The Wizard" Hammond (center) recently teamed up with Nelly Furtado to do a dancehall remix of a song from the latter's brand new record. So check out this excellent song, "Soul of a Man," which will be on their debut album, The Future, to be released by FiWi at the end of January, '13.


REVIEW: Falling Trees - The Memories that Hold Us Together


I'm very fond of this kind of record.  What kind of record is that, you might ask.  It is a record that on the most immediate level dwells in the musical world of the past -- the Postcard, Sarah and Creation labels, the C86 sound, and production that is tasteful and competent by devoid of gloss.  But at a deeper level, it is a record made by musicians that are making the record that they want to make because that is the sound they want and their mates are the guys they want to play with.  Current musical tastes and charts just don't enter the picture.  So The Memories That Hold Us Together by Falling Trees is an album that takes you back to a wonderful era of guitar driven pop music.  And given that introduction, it is perfectly appropriate that the album is released on Exeter, UK's Pastime Records.



The members of the band are Andrew Padfield (lead vocals), Paul Stolworthy (rhythm guitar), Andy Botterill (lead guitar, bass, keyboards) and Chris Head (drums) and Andy Ward (additional drums).  The production duties were handled by Andy Fonda, drummer from C86 favorites, June Brides.

Track 3, "November Rain", boasts a bubbling bass line and has a relaxing vibe.


There is plenty of genuine emotions in The Memories That Hold Us Together, but it never beats you over the head, and it is all adroitly dress in hooks and professional craftsmanship.  The result is an album to savor and explore.

The closing track --


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Pastime Records
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The Soul Corner - Happy Birthday Bootsy Collins

Bootsy Collins of Cincinnati Ohio was born on this day in 1951. Funky doesn't begin to describe this unique character and monster musician.
Bootsy's bass playing is the blueprint of funk music.
Digging around on YouTube for Bootsy clips is a lot of fun and I recommend it.  Here's three I like a lot.
Bootsy out front "Stretchin' Out":


"Do That Stuff" by Parliament-Funkadelic on their legendary 1976 tour; keep your eyes peeled for Bootsy looking good on Halloween night:

And here is a young Bootsy backing up James Brown on an amazing live performance in 1971 of a great song featured earlier here at the Soul Corner:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Peter Buck Thursday

We here are big big fans of Peter Buck. And garage rock. And noisy guitars.
So we offer you this with great pleasure:

That's the great Lenny Kaye too.
From Peter's solo album, available on vinyl only, very limited edition. (yet another excuse to visit Portland where the record was released).
This isn't, um, fancy pants R.E.M. stuff.
For the live shows. he's calling this band Richard M. Nixon, which I find both hilarious and perfect for reasons I don't know how to articulate. Funny is funny.  And rock is rock.
And this is great fun.

Here is what Peter has to say about the record, James Brown and popcorn:
Peter flying solo

Single "Broken Minded" from the The Jar Family



The Jar Family are a seven-member "industrial folk" group from Hartpool.  The sound is a mix of folk, blues and roots, and has plenty of energy and passion.  They have released an EP and LP in previous years, and recently returned with the "Broken Minded"  and "Getting Better" -




Here is "Getting Better" -



The band is Max Bianco, Dali, Al Devon, Richie Docherty, Chris Hooks and Keith Wilkinson.  Their second full length album is scheduled for release in 2013.  Meanwhile, "Broken Minded" is available from iTunes.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Baffin Island - Baffin Island EP


A few years ago the members of Boise, Idaho band The Very Most and Glasgow's The Hermit Crabs collaborated on a song for a collection.  Simply because the centerpoint of a line between Boise and Glasgow resides on Baffin Island, the group also was named Baffin Island.  Although their original bands are on-going (we covered a fine EP by the Hermit Crabs last month) they combined again in 2011 to release an EP on EardrumsPop, and have just released a four-track self titled EP on WeePOP!. It is fine, sweet music that will remind you of Camera Obscura and Belle and Sebastian.  Suggested use: Background for getting close with someone else.

Stream "We Were Meant to Meet" here.

Baffin Island is Meanie Whittle (vocals, recorder, songwriting), Jeremy Jensen (guitar, bass, keys, vocals, songwriting), Jake Hite (drums), Chris Gilles (bass), and Jo Bunyan (keys).

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WeePOP! Records site for this release

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

REVIEW: The Maginot Band - Peace and Quiet EP


When I first became aware of The Maginot Band, they weren't The Maginot Band.  They were The Maydays (prior posts here and here).  I don't know whether the Caithness natives (far northeastern Scotland) are hiding from the law, or just dodging some ex-girlfriends, but the name has changed.  However, the lineup is remains the same, and they still make great music.  Their latest effort is the Peace and Quiet EP, which is out now on the When You Awake label.

With six members (Jordan Shearer - vocals, Calvin Wilson - bass/vocals, Kevin Swanson - guitar/vocals, Jamie Swanson - guitar, Liam Whittles - organ/piano, and Darren Coghill - drums), the band features a full sound with bright guitars and athemic keys and vocals.  The organ is prominent, and the overall sound is indie pop with a touch of psychedelia.  It is great listening, folks.

All the tracks are included for your evaluation below.  I have included the Soundcloud version of the lead single, "Slow Down Sundial", as well as the video because it contains a link for a free download.








You may stream and purchase the Peace and Quiet EP at the Bandcamp link below.




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Monday, October 22, 2012

REVIEW: Sugargliders - A Nest With A View 1990 - 1994



Begun by Melbourne's Josh and Joel Meadows when they were teenagers, Sugargliders were a DIY, mostly self-taught effort that produced honest, original, unpretentious pop songs about the things that mattered to them.   Nowhere in their catalog of ten vinyl singles and one album does the listener sense that a song was imitating some other group, or following a trend to capture chart placement.  They had a four-year run from 1990-1994, with releases on Summershine Records in their home country and Sarah Records in the UK and a stint living in the UK.  The Meadows brothers were joined from time to time by Marc Fulker (drums) and Robert Cooper (The Earthmen).  And then they were done.

Fortunately for we guitar pop fans, Popboomerand Records in Australia and Matinee Recordings in the US have joined to issue a 20-track compilation of SugarglidersA Nest With A View 1990 -1994.   Here is the trailer for the album, which provides snatches of the great music and photos of gig posters, band members, jacket covers and other memorabilia.



Warm guitars and clean, simple and affecting melodies.  This is a compilation that can fill your fall days with the music you need.  If you agree, the links are below.  But first you can listen to a few songs.  Go ahead, you deserve it.








Matinee Recordings
Amazon link for album
iTunes link for album

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Norwegian Punk Discovery - Honningbarna


A group of fresh-faced Norwegian teenagers who hew closer in sound to Fear than The Hives (not to impugn the Hives a bit), Honningbarna (Honey Children, in English) are making a tremendously promising splash. Check out their "title track":



They're currently preparing to tour Ireland and UK, and still working to complete an album which will apparently be released by EMI in the Spring. If you're in Ireland or the UK and wondering if you might want to see them, check this out:



And here's a video for "KLART BLIKK", made by 5th graders from Ve and Hånes elementary schools during an animation work shop at Kristiansand International Children's Film Festival 2011.



We hope to have more to share with you soon. They've nailed the old-school punk sound and between the buzzsaw guitars and shouted vocal harmonies - and the exclamation point provided by the unexpected cello front and center - it's both bracing and enjoyable.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review: Tift Merritt "Traveling Alone"


Tift Merritt burst on the Americana scene 10 years ago poised for stardom with a beautiful voice, a warm and irresistible persona, and a dynamic stage presence. But she never wrote "that hit", radio died, the music industry crumbled, and she was too smart, NPR-like and too hard to pigeonhole to break through in a Z95 / American Idol world.

Despite 4 critically acclaimed records, files full of fawning national press, national TV appearances and an Austin City Limits DVD, last year the North Carolina native found herself dropped by her major label and her manager, and back to square one, traveling alone as it were.

So Tift did a very smart thing - wrote a series of songs exploring feelings of things breaking down and things picking up, and went into a studio in her new home of New York City and quickly recorded them.  If you want to make a great record in just 8 days, my advice would be to enlist the A team like Merritt did here - one of the very best guitarists in the business Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Joe Henry), drummer John Convertino (Calexico), and multi-instrumentalist Eric Heywood.

The resulting Traveling Alone is the best overall work of Merritt's career, a deceptively simple record, warmly produced by Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, Laura Veirs). Martine puts the vocals front and center which is where they should be on anything Tift Merritt voice ever gets near. Merritt has learned to use her voice more subtly in better service to her songwriting, which has also steadily improved over the course of her career.

Certainly one of the highlights is the title track:

Also, the gently rocking "In the Way":

Tift does a great duet "Drifted Apart"with fellow Tar Heel Andrew Bird who matches her gentle voice for gentle voice like Roy Orbison singing with Emmylou Harris, simply beautiful:
(Sorry for no video above, but hey there are worse things in life than spending a few minutes looking at Tift Merritt sitting at a bar table).

One more, "Sweet Spot", this one live in a radio studio:


Traveling Alone will make a great many best of 2012 lists, including mine. Even the most casual fan of Tift Merritt needs to go buy this record now. And for anyone who has not discovered Tift Merritt before, this is the place to start.

Artist web page: Tift Merritt

New single from September Girls



Sarah, Lauren, Jessie, Caoimhe, and Paula comprise the Dublin group September Girls.  I am a fan of their fuzzy, reverb-heavy guitar sound and girl-group vocals.  We wrote about their previous release earlier this year ( "Wanting More"/"Secret Lovers" ), and are covering them again because they are releasing a new two track single on Monday, October 22.  The single is called "Green Eyed" and includes the title track and B-side "Danny Wood".  The release is on Scotland's small Soft Power Records, an indie label that applies their limited resources only to really good music.

We have both tracks for you to try here.  "Green Eyed" has a palpable dark tinge to it, and may remind you of The Raveonettes.  "Danny Wood" is a rousing indie pop song.  I love them both.


September Girls - Green Eyed from jessie ward on Vimeo.



The single is available in a limited run of vinyl, for which Soft Power Records is accepting pre-orders.  I do not know who will win the US presidential election, but I know that the vinyl run for "Green Eyed" will sell out.  You can buy it in digital format at the Bandcamp link below.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Soul Corner - It's Got to Be Mellow



Leon Haywood had this hit in 1967, the smooth "It's Got to Be Mellow":

The song is a beach music classic in the Southeastern US.  

Haywood is from Houston. He had some funk hits in the 70's and wrote Carl Carlton's hit "She's a Bad Mama Jama"
Enjoy this classic. 

REVIEW: Delay Trees - Doze


What if the Beach Boys had been a dream pop/shoegaze band from Finland?  They might have been Delay Trees.  Originally from Hameenlinna, Finland and now based in Helsinki, the group has just release their second full-length, Doze, on Finland's stellar Soliti label.  Try them out with showcase track "HML" is about their hometown --



On Doze Delay Trees launch from their pop song template into varied melodic dream pop improvisations.  The result is a melange of hazy, melancholic soundscapes that tugs at the listener's emotions and memories.  Each track boasts its own personality -- "HML" has a pop feel, "Dream Surfer" is dream pop, while others verge on the post-rock boundary.  "Future" simply rocks.  So it wouldn't be fair to any of them to declare a specific track to be typical of the album.  Its gentle nature means that it doesn't demand more than the listener is willing to give, but that means Doze is the perfect background for a number of situations, including a late night meditation or an afternoon in the sunshine.


The members of Delay Trees are Rami Vierula, Lauri Jarvinen, Sami Korhonen, and Onni Oikari.  The band was formed in 2007 and has released two EPs and one LP prior to Doze.



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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Single "Work It Out" by Twerps


Twerps is the second act from Melbourne that we are highlighting this week.  No, we're not in a rut, we're mining a vein of great pop music.  Twerps have a delicious guitar sound that evokes Yo La Tengo, Go-Betweens and the Flying Nun label bands.  They have followed up their fine 2011 release with the Work It Out 7".  The vinyl version is available October 23rd, but the digital is available now.

The 7" has three tracks, the title track and two B-sides.   The title track is a brilliant bit of guitar pop that stands up well to repeated listens.  I've provided the Soundcloud link and a Vimeo video for the track.  The Soundcloud link is reliable, but the video link only loads sporadically.  Here is "Work It Out" --


Twerps - Work It Out from Chapter Music on Vimeo.

Twerps are Marty Frawley (guitar and vocals), Jules MacFarlane (guitar), Rick Milovanovic (bass) and Pat O'Neill.  Rick also plays bass in Boomgates, which we featured a couple of days ago.

The band is touring the United States at this time.  I've provided the tour schedule below.

Here is one of the two B-sides:




Tour dates:
10/14 – Purchase, NY @ SUNY Purchase*
10/15 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie*
10/16 – Baltimore, MD ­@ Baltimore, MD*
10/17 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat*
10/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Public Assembly !
10/21 – Montreal, QC @ Le Cagibi *
10/22 – Toronto, ON @ Silver Dollar *
10/24 – Gambier, OH @ Horn Gallery-Kenyon College
10/25 – Chicago, IL ­@ Empty Bottle
10/26 – Northfield, MN @ The Grand Event Center †
10/27 – St. Paul, MN ­@ Turf Club
10/29 – Missoula, MO @ Ole Beck VFW Post
10/30 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
10/31 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar$
11/02 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
11/03 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Satellite
* = with Alex Bleeker
† = with Gap Dream
$ = with White Fang, Dignan Porch
! = Panache CMJ Showcase w/ Turbo fruits, Dent May, Dignan Porch, Mac Demarco, Vockah Redu

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Underwater Peoples

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Introducing PUPS



PUPS is Caitlin, Rose and Katie of Vancouver, British Columbia, and they play sweet, energetic indie pop.  The "Rose" in the lineup is Rose Melberg, whose stellar lo-fi pop credentials include Tiger Trap, Go Sailor, The Softies, and Gaze, as well as some solo work.

To introduce you to their music, they have two tracks for you to enjoy and download for free.  You know what to do ...








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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

REVIEW: Boomgates - Double Natural




What is a "double natural"?  One meaning refers to an obscure music notation.  Another refers to certain roll of the die in a game of craps.  But in the case of Melbourne's Boomgates, Double Natural means a debut album of well crafted songs performed with the relaxed assurance of musicians who seek to please themselves and support each other, with the confidence that the rest of us will appreciate it.  And it every respect that matters to me, it is a triumph.

Boomgates' existence may be evidence that the perfect way to build a supergroup could be to have a worthwhile goal other than being a supergroup.  The goal in this case simply was for a few friends already in other bands getting together to play for fun.  And apparently is was fun and the output was good, so a few more friends were invited.  The lineup coalesced with Steph Hughes (vocals and guitar) from Dick Diver, Rick Milovanovic (bass) from Twerps, Brendan Huntley (vocals) from Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Gus Lord of Teen Archer (guitar) and Shaun Gionis (drums).  A few 7" ensued and, some time down the road, they found the time to record an album.  This assemblage works so well because despite all of the individual talent, no one seems determined to call undue attention to themselves at the expense of the whole.  The music on Double Natural features Hughes' and Lord's wonderful loose, jangly guitars that sometimes remind me of Aussie greats The Go-Betweens and Lucksmiths, but sometimes sound like The Velvet Underground.  The drums provide a solid foundation and Milovanovic"s sinuous bass varies between rhythmic accent and a lead instrument (for example, a segment of "Whispering or Singing").  One of the most delightful elements is the vocal interplay between Brendan and Steph.  Sometimes they take turns, sometimes they sing together, and sometimes they duel in a call and response structure.  The varying structures alone are brilliant, but the different vocal qualities make it truly interesting.  Brendan's energetic style embraces both singing and talk-singing, and has a sardonic Camper Van Beethoven tint.  Steph's innocent, almost naive, approach contrasts perfectly to give a combined savory and sweet vocal delivery.  And the overall effect is of a series of conversations.

Track 5, "Cartons and Cans" is a song ostensibly about the suburban ritual of sorting recycling, but of course about other things as well.  The beginning chord progression will delight fans of 60s guitar pop, and perhaps remind you of a Sam Cooke favorite. Two minutes of pop bliss, right here --



The other bands of the members of Boomgates have different styles, and the album incorporates elements from all of them.  There are taut post punk moments, country stylings and a bit of 90s slacker to go with the jangly pop.  What ties it all together is the broken-in comfort of the songs and sincerity of the emotions.  Nothing seems forced or artificial; nothing seems like an attempt to try another genre -- it is all Boomgates.  For a taste of one of the more muscular jams, enjoy this video for "Whispering or Singing".  The first line references a freight train, and the remainder of the track delivers --



I certainly hadn't planned on Boomgates shouldering their way onto my playlist.  But the ten tracks here make one of the most compelling demands on my listening time that I've faced this calendar year, and I have no doubt that it will be on my year end list of most recommended albums.

Here is a nice video of a song from a show from April 2011.  If it fails to load, try this link.


Boomgates - Cameo @ Boogie Festival, Tallarook (23rd April 2011) from Carbie Warbie on Vimeo.

As to sourcing this music, the label is Brisbane's Bedroom Suck.  I've provided the link below, but I don't know what the prospects or costs would be for obtaining a physical copy in the States.  The album is a available in mp3 format from Amazon and the relevant link is below.  If for some reason you remain uncertain about the album, try a few samples on the Amazon page.  In no particular order, try "Cows Come Home", "No Excuses", "Hold Me Now", "Hanging Rock" ... oh hell, just try them all.


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Amazon link for Double Natural

Monday, October 15, 2012

New video - Tame Impala cover (by little kids)

Found this via a tweet by Tame Impala's label - Modular People. If you like, check out more videos by PS22's kids on their YouTube channel:



Our Tame Impala review, again, here.

New 7" from The Spook School


I'm a bit hurt, but not hurt enough to look like the dude on the cover art below.  Why am I hurt?  Because The Spook School didn't advise us that they were releasing a new 7".  I mean, what is the point of being a stalker, um, internet music blogger, if it doesn't entitle one to a bit of the old advance.  But release a new single they have - "Here We Go/Cameraman" was out on October 10.  I could sulk about it, but I am loathe to show weakness.  Besides, I really like this Edinburgh band's music.

Here is the video for the first track:



By the way, this release is out on Cloudberry Records, a US label that likes jangly guitar pop, so we are likely to check out their catalog soon.

And here is the stream of both tracks:

The Spook School is Naomi Todd, Adam Todd, Anna Cory and Niall McCamley.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

New video from I Am Harlequin - "Something Else"

This week finds the release of another imaginative video from Anne Freier, aka I Am Harlequin. This song features her distinctive voice and song style, deconstructing dance music along with what looks like a werewolf love story:



This is the latest from her EP Craze, which we've featured before on WYMA... click here to read more.


Free download and tour info - The Bohannons "River Above"

To further entice the undecided, I suppose, Chattanooga's powerful Southern rockers The Bohannons have a gift for you:



And if you're in the South, you're in luck. They'll be traversing their home state and working their way back via Arkansas and Georgia in November:

Oct. 27 The Honest Pint - Chattanooga, TN
Nov. 2 The 5 Spot - Nashville, TN w/ Shane Tutmarc, Little Bandit
Nov. 3 Maxine’s - Hot Springs National Park, AR  w/ LUCERO
Nov. 6 Smith's Olde Bar - Atlanta, GA
Nov. 7 New Earth Music Hall - Athens, GA w/ Lord Baltimore
Nov. 8 Radio Room - Greenville, SC
Nov. 9 The Wormhole - Savannah, GA
Nov. 10 Hummingbird Stage & Taproom - Macon, GA

In case you missed it, here's our rave review.


Out now on This Is American Music.



Friday, October 12, 2012

New Psych/Metal Discovery: Black Science - An Echo Through The Eyes Of Forever


Black Science is playing a wild psychedelic guitar rock, and on their album An Echo Through The Eyes Of Forever, they have done a thing guaranteed to endear them to WYMA's staff - they have covered a Guided by Voices song ("Hardcore UFOs").

It's noisy stuff with metallic guitars, although on the 15:00-plus album closer "Our Sentence Is Up", they bring in what I might describe as krautrock elements in between some full-scale guitar freakouts.

Check out the album here:



And their previous album Cosmodemonic And Beyond is available for "name your price" via Bandcamp - it sounds heavier to me - at least on first listen.





Recommended if you like guitars...



The Soul Corner - Martha and the Vandellas "Nowhere to Run"

Got my mind on my hometown of Detroit and the remarkable playoff clinching performance by the Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander as I write this Thursday night. So I had to go with a quintessential Detroit song this week.  
"Nowhere to Run" has all the best Motown elements - killer melody, crushing chorus, big big James Jamerson bass lines, the best drum sounds, and amazing lead vocal.


And if you think this song could have been made in New York or Hollywood, or anywhere other than the Motor City, take a look at one of the first music videos, made as the first Ford Mustangs rolled off the line in Detroit in 1965, with some rich background about the recording of "Nowhere to Run":

Introducing: The Tuts



Are The Tuts the female version of the Libertines?  I don't really have enough information to say.  But I think that this English band has great energy, charisma, engaging songs and, to be sure, a shambling but melodic approach to rock that does, indeed, remind this listener of the Libertines.  The line-up is Nadia Javed (guitar and lead vocals), Harriet Doveton (bass and backing vocals) and Beverly Ishmael (drums).  They released a four-track recording in July.  Below is the video for the lead track and stream of the entire EP.


By the way, the ladies helpfully explain that a "tut" is to express annoyance, impatience, or mild reproof.  As in "tut tut".





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Thursday, October 11, 2012

REVIEW: Tame Impala - Lonerism


Advance word about Tame Impala's second record Lonerism hinted that it was more keyboard-centric than the first record, Innerspeaker (which was extremely guitar-centric)... and while I suppose it is, there is plenty of great guitar work. This is an excellent record in every way - it's easy to identify parts you like (for example, "Feels Like We Only Go Backwards" might be my favorite song of 2012), but it's when you take the record as a whole that you recognize Kevin Parker's genius.

Here's that song (apparently, the second single off the record):



Echoes of Lennon, Waters, Rundgren, you name it... and absolutely delightful.

Here is the video for the single, "Elephant", a pounding rocker that melds Parker's Lennonesque vocals with a musical underpinning that reminds me of nothing so much as Marc Bolan:



Or check out the Motown drumming-into-heavy psych of "Apocalypse Dreams":



While it's all of a piece, there is plenty of sonic variety and it is far from repetitive. And while I loved the guitars on Innerspeaker, Parker has revealed himself to be the kind of artist you can trust. If you are willing to follow him on the journey that is "Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Can Control", you will discover the most wonderful keyboard and vocal effects, and it will lead you into the quiet, introspective "Sun's Coming Up".

Parker's willing to share his world - it's not as though he is a loner because he doesn't enjoy being with people. I think it is more because he realizes he has the ways and means to share his singular vision with those of us who are willing to go along... and for that, he is to be applauded.

Buy, listen, read at Modular Records.

"Shocker In Gloomtown" by The Breeders, with onlookers

I have a musical question: How the hell did I miss this?



Oh, well. Better late than never.

REVIEW: Lenzie Moss - Introducing Lenzie Moss



Lenzie Moss is the project of Finlay Macdonald, whose previous credits include Music and Movement, Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits and Speedboat.  Unsurprising for a man with that background, Finlay really knows his was around an electric guitar pop song.  Finlay has collected eleven of his best recent tunes and released them on his debut solo EP, Introducing Lenzie Moss.

And what songs they are -- timeless melodies backed by delightful arrangements, and featuring Finlay's engaging tenor.  The first track also is the first Lenzie Moss song I ever heard, "Kelvin British Summertime".  It is about late '80s Glasgow, mentioning meeting friends and liking Big Star, Dinosaur Jr and loud guitars.  The excellent third track, "Son of A Unicorn" slows proceedings down and injects a wistful mood.  But the guitar work accenting the lyrics is like a delightful song within a song.  "Where the Eagles Dare" ramps up the pace again.  But perhaps as is the case with any good pop, the proof is in the listening.  And I'm confident enough that this album speaks for itself, that I've embedded the entire stream below.



One of the attributes of this album that most pleases me is that it represents an artist comfortable in his skin.  He has a voice, a guitar, a few collaborators, and sometimes a piano.  There isn't a compulsion to toss in a dance number or layers of synths.  And not that there is anything wrong with the stuff that is not in the album, but those things aren't Finlay Macdonald, so they aren't Lenzie Moss.

The Bandcamp link below also contains the entire stream, and for the discerning music fan, the chance to grab a digital copy of Introducing Lenzie Moss.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

REVIEW: Revolt Revolt - Latah Nights

Revolt Revolt is a Boise- and Seattle-based guitar rock band - heavy emphasis on the guitars, but with a strong rhythm and some fairly prog-leaning bass lines... In fact, while I think they are closest in sound and approach to Built to Spill, I definitely get the comparison to Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and Guided by Voices, and in places I hear echoes of Jane's Addiction. But the guitars predominate, and that's just fine with me.

Revolt Revolt has released its second album Latah Nights, on the heels of a recent tour with Built to Spill, and this is definitely recommended to anyone who's a fan of BTS's sprawling guitar rock.


Lead singer Chris Bock has fronted the band since it first formed in 2007, but some of the members on this record are different from their debut album Chordata. This time around, it's Bock and Ben Brunn (original members), joined by drummer Ben Wieland of Jumping Sharks, and guitarist Ralph Mugot of Hungry for More.

Here is the video for lead track "Flares" off the new album Latah Nights:



This album is really a scorcher. Even when they stretch out on songs like the 4:56 "Gold" or the 5:16 "Hell Has Its Roads", there is no letting up on the excellent lead guitar work. Some of the songs are a little softer - "Sattelite" for example, is at a slower tempo and a little more acoustic-guitar based. But even on that one, there's plenty of guitar feedback.

Overall, Bock's vocals are a good counterpoint to the sometimes-meandering, sometimes-raging guitar leads. He's in the Neil Young/Doug Martsch area for the most part - higher register, really well-integrated with the band's overall sound.

Here's a video for an older song, "Golden Age":



This is an exciting band - to have undertaken a 43-city tour with Built to Spill with one album under its belt and a revolving membership, and then to have recorded an album as strong as Latah Nights portends very good things for their future.

The record was released August 21 on Spark And Shine Records.

New single from Fear of Men


Yes, it is that time again -- the happy occurrence of another release from Brighton's Fear of Men.  No, this talented lo-fi four-piece hasn't purchased ad space on the blog and, to my knowledge, has no blackmail material regarding me or the other contributors.  We simply think that they have a great sound and have a knack for creating songs that you want to hear over and over.

The latest effort is the two-track Mosaic 7", which will be available as of October 15 on vinyl.  The record is released by Too Pure, and can be pre-ordered.

The title track is somewhat different from past Fear of Men songs, as it has samples from an old church sermon interspersed with their retro '60s sound.  As usual, the harmonies and arrangements are solid gold.



"Your Side" features a wonderful bass line.



And the additional great news is that Fear of Men is planning the release of an LP collecting their singles in early 2013.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

REVIEW: PAWS - Cokefloat


I have followed Scotland's PAWS for over a year and a half, and been impressed with their energy and impressive skills.  But, whether due to my lack of proximity or lack of perception, I still wasn't prepared for just how good their debut album is.  Cokefloat will compete with a couple of other worthy contenders as the my favorite garage pop album of the year -- a year in which there is some pretty damn good garage stroking my aural passageways.

The album has scorching guitar riffs, impressive rhythm foundations, roaring vocals and very good songs.  The trio of Philip Taylor (guitar and lead vocals), Joshua Swinney (drums) and Matthew Scott (bass) have crafted material that reflects the last couple years of their lives, including the death of Phil's mother.  So there is sadness, melancholy and bare emotions.  But there is optimism and the entire record is bursting with life.

Here is the the first single from the album, "Sore Tummy" --



We bring you this video of a performance of the second track, "Jellyfish", to give you a taste of their live energy:



There are some fine slower paced moments among the 13 tracks on Cokefloat, including "Get Bent" and "Poor Old Christopher Robin".  But for me, the tunes that remain in my memory the longest at the faster paced ones.  Not that I have relied much on memory for this album as late, as I've left it in the daily rotation.






Cokefloat was recorded at Lightship95, a recording studio floating at a wharf on the Thames in East London.  This represents the band's first time recording in a professional studio, as all prior efforts had been home recordings.  The sessions were supervised by Rory Attwell of Test Icicles, and he deserves props for capturing the band's live energy.

As did Scottish artists Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks and The Twilight Sad before them, PAWS signed to Brighton's FatCat Records for this release.  The band is based in Glasgow, although the members come from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Tain.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

New Honky-Tonk Discovery: Denney And The Jets - Denney And The Jets


If you have an idea what a band called Denney And The Jets ought to sound like, perhaps based on your memory of that old Elton John song Chris Denney chose to name his band after, put it aside. These guys are playing pure country honk - a sweet reminder of old Stones country like "Sweet Virginia" or "Brown Sugar", or the Burrito Brothers (admittedly, those aren't terribly different when you get right down to it). And Denney and his mates are very good at it. There's a nice bit of reverb on the guitars on some of the tracks, stinging solos on others, some barrelhouse piano, and a very wild spirit to the whole proceeding. I swear, the lead track reminds me of nothing so much as an old Stones song with Keith on vocals... and the lead guitar work is in that neighborhood, too.

Check out this video of them playing "Fun Girls" at the Basement in Nashville:



The group's evolving membership is a veritable who's who of the Nashville garage punk scene:

Frontman Chris Denney began writing songs in the Spring of 2008, recruiting Wes Traylor (Natural Child), and Jake and Jamin Orrall (of JEFF The Brotherhood) to be the very first of his Jets. After each member parted ways to pursue their own individual careers, Chris signed on Daniel Pujol (eponymously of PUJOL) and Joe Scala. After Pujol's departure, Denney solidified the lineup by adding longtime friend Sean Cotton on lead guitar, Joe's little brother Evan Scala and most recently bringing in Ric Alessio on keys and sax. Denney and The Jets have turned songwriting into a full realized communal process and have grown in to one of the South's finest.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know we're crazy about JEFF The Brotherhood and PUJOL - and now we're falling for this band too. This EP was produced by Andrija Tokic, who also worked on the Alabama Shakes record.


At this link, you can download  "Fun Girls". And you can buy the 5-song EP via the record label Limited Fanfare here.

And if you are in NY/NJ, Boston, Pittsburgh or Baltimore, you might be in luck:

10.10.2012 - Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes*
10.11.2012 - Brooklyn, NY@ Williamsburg Music Hall *
10.12.2012 - Worcester, MA @ The Grind - Clark University *
10.13.2012 - Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar *
10.14.2012 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Thunderbird *

REVIEW: Generationals - Lucky Numbers EP



Generationals are a New Orleans band with indie rock sensibilities, a broad base of musical expression and a real genius for pop hooks.  Their latest effort is the three-track Lucky Numbers EP, which they self-released last week.  In addition to the title track, the songs are "Hazel House" and "Sale City".

The opening track is a vibrant, bright-hued nugget of dance pop that evokes the party spirit of the band's hometown.


The closing song, "Sale City", featuring a chugging dance beat and call-and-response vocals.  If "Lucky Numbers is the early beginning of a New Orleans party day, "Sale City" is late at night with the party at full throttle --



The core members of Generationals are Grant Widmer and Ted Joyner.  Other current members are Ben Jones and Eric Rogers.

Lucky Numbers EP is available at the usual digital outlets, such as Amazon and iTunes.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review: Sera Cahoone "Deer Creek Canyon"

Sera Cahoone is a Seattle-based singer-songwriter. She has named her very fine third record after the area where she grew up in Colorado. And Deer Creek Canyon is filled with images of searching, belonging, longing, and finding that sense of connection.
More than anything, what strikes me about this record is its intimacy. Cahoone draws you right in, makes you feel like she is speaking directly to you. Both the writing and the singing are exquisite. The overall sound is relatively sparse - acoustic guitar, banjo, drums, some bass, all of it well played and performed, with nothing getting in the way of the vocals.  Every song is a good one.

The title track:


Here's an official video for the song "Naked":


Deer Creek Canyon itself is a rich environment, dominated by scrub oak habitat, and once mining country, now connected to the suburbs of Denver, nor far from Columbine High School. No doubt a place that must have changed a great deal in Cahoone's lifetime, and far more so in her parents'. The sort of place that summons a great deal of your emotions, perhaps all the more so when you live 1,300 miles away in a large city in the Pacific Northwest.

I had not heard Sera Cahoone before, though she was a member of Band of Horses. On a quick check back to her prior solo records, Deer Creek Canyon sounds like a step up. There's a confidence to this record that elevates Cahoone to the company of some top flight Americana artists - Aimee Mann, Cat Power, Gillian Welch. If you appreciate Americana music, you are likely to be like me, very drawn to these songs and the sound of Cahoone's voice.  

Deer Creek Canyon is highly recommended, one of the year's best releases.

Artist web page: http://seracahoone.com/. See especially the tour dates in the month of November in the Western US, with opening band the Parson Red Heads, a favorite here at WYMA blog.

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Spanish Rock Discovery: Prats - Pla B


Prats is composed of former members of Spanish rock band Madee and The New Raemon, and the group is named after lead singer and keyboard player Marc Prats... This is well-made rock music, thoughtful and nicely-paced with some very lively guitar work in some of the songs and open space and delicate instrumentation that highlight the vocals in others.

Here's the video for "PlaDelirant":



And here is a live acoustic version of "Bestia somrient":



It's a nice mix of acoustic music (both guitars and piano), and electric guitars - and the vocals are evocative and expressive, even if they ain't in English (as I've said before - not an obstacle for me, if the sound is right). Prats reminds me of Peter Murphy as a vocalist, but the music sounds more like Coldplay - in a few ways, one of which is that it's so smooth you may not notice the quality of the guitar work on first listen. Give it a few spins...

Available on BCore Disc.

The Soul Corner - "Oh No, Not My Baby"

Maxine Brown hit the charts in 1965 with this terrific Carole King / Gerry Goffin composition.


That's Dee Dee Warwick on harmony vocals.

Many artists did later versions of the song, among them Rod Stewart, Manfred Mann, Cher, and the great Linda Ronstandt who stayed very close to the original arrangement and sound on her 1993 rendition:
One more from another one of the great all time singers:

You know you have yourself a truly great song when there are three versions out there that are this good by artists of this stature.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

REVIEW: Dwight Yoakam - Three Pears

For a lot of us who monitor the indie music world, it would be possible for Dwight Yoakam's Three Pears to get lost in the shuffle of excellent September releases - but that would be a shame. There's still nothing like a Dwight Yoakam album... has it really been 26 years since Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc.? More to the point, seven years since Blame the Vain, his last studio album full of Yoakam songs?

First question, to get to the point: is it worth the wait? The answer is an unqualified hell yes. The quality is, as always, excellent. Yoakam leaves no detail to chance - but the music never sounds overly "produced" - there's always an edge. Here's a live performance of the title cut, co-written with fellow celebrity and country convert Kid Rock:



Yoakam said he was sitting on that song for years and years, and had a thought to reach out to Kid Rock to see if he'd help finish it. It's not surprising that Yoakam had a song that another songwriter could help him finish in one sittting. There is nobody else who inhabits so fully the place where good country and good rock music meet...really, the place where both of them started out together in the 40's and 50's, and incorporates all the best features of both.

Check out "Rock It All Away" - a combination of Yoakam's pitch-perfect country vocals, a strong rhythm section and what sounds to me, like a very well-done reprise of the Velvet Underground "Sweet Jane" guitar lick:



On "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke" (a 50 year old Bakersfield guitar rave-up originally done by Joe and Rose Lee Maphis - if interested, check it out here), Dwight and his band really, really let go -



Apparently, it has been a live Yoakam choice for a while, which makes sense. But on the record, they really rock out, and let loose with a scream reminiscent of Bob Weir's in "St. Stephen". The scream reminded me of a time I saw Yoakam in concert, and he was introducing his version of "Some Dark Holler": "We're gonna do an old song I've known a long time. Heard it on my grandma's radio. A lot of people done it. The Grateful Dead done it. But we ain't gonna do it the way the Dead done it."

And yet, of course, Yoakam's a part of the California music scene in every meaningful way - not only has he covered the Dead and recorded songs they also recorded, but he got his start playing with California punk, rockabilly and rock bands... after giving himself a musical education in the Bakersfield style of country music.

And then there's his new musical compatriot Beck Hansen. Three Pears finds Yoakam paired with Beck, who I've thought of as a bit of a kindred spirit to Yoakam - if you doubt Beck's country bona fides, I urge you to go listen to his duet with Emmylou Harris on "Sin City" on the Gram Parsons tribute album Return of the Grievous Angel, and his cover of "Your Cheatin' Heart" on the Hank Williams tribute Timeless, not to mention his supersad, superslow Sea Change, a feast of sad vocals and guitar reverb.


But here Beck is bringing a razor-sharp pop sensibility that is very much in line with Yoakam's own. This really is a good pairing... Here is "A Heart Like Mine", the song produced by Beck:




Like the best of Yoakam's music, it rocks like a freight train and wails like a hurricane, while featuring pop touches - British invasion backbeat and guitar jangle - worthy of two of the very best craftsmen working in any branch of popular music these days.

There's "Missing Heart" - an absolute overdose of great pedal steel, the playful "Waterfalls", and the title cut, which Yoakam describes as having been inspired by John Lennon.
This is a great record, up there with the best work Yoakam's ever done, which means it's up there with the best work anybody's doing. It's likely to reside near the top of my list at the end of 2012.

Listen, read, buy: Dwight Yoakam Website