Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Psych Discoveries: Smoking Trees and Sir Psych

If you like Tame Impala (and, really, who doesn't?), I'd encourage you to go check out The Smoking Trees and affiliated act Sir Psych. The Smoking Trees, near as I can tell, consist of Martin Nunez - who I believe is Sir Psych, and Al Rivera - L.A. AL. The Smoking Trees is referred to as a duo. I expect the identities will become more clear, because I expect to hear more from these two in the days ahead.

This stuff is a lot of fun - lovingly put together with all kinds of psychedelic effects. There are delays, overdubs, washed-out guitar sounds and plenty of reverb.

The title track to The Smoking Trees' album Acetates is a perfect way to sample their sounds, and it even contains a short "intermission". Most of all, it contains some terrific guitar work:

Another track - "See" -  lots of reverb on the vocals, chaotic drumming and some wild guitar work:

As for the Sir Psych album, The Popsike World of Sir Psych, it's a wilder affair - more effects, less guitar, but no less enjoyable. It's structured as a sort of tour of '60's "Swinging L.A." - and the conceit works pretty well... but of course, it wouldn't if the music wasn't so good.

Here's a video for "Every Colour I Know":

And here's "In A Popsike World":

The album contains 18 "base" songs and another 16 alternate versions and previously unreleased song including alternative versions of some of the Smoking Trees songs.

This is a tremendous achievement for two guys... It's derivative, yes, but derivative of some great, great stuff.

Sir Psych Website

Sir Psych Facebook

New Jazz "Version" Discovery: Daniela Nardi's Espresso Manifesto - Macchiato67 - Via Con Me Remix EP

Italian-Canadian singer/songwriter/producer Daniela Nardi and her project Espresso Manifesto have recently released an album of Paolo Conte songs, and to take the tribute a little further, on Feb. 14 will release a sultry, super-cool EP: Macchiato67 – Via Con Me Remix.

The EP is a collaboration with Italian DJ-Composer Gerardo Frisina (Schema/Ishtar). The Macchiato67 EP consists of 3 tracks – a Club Mix, a Vocal Remix and an Instrumental Remix.

Nardi says of her choice in working with Frisina, “I really love the Italian lounge scene and have been a fan of Gerardo’s work for some time. I thought it would be really cool if I could introduce a new generation to the works of Paolo Conte. By adding the treatment that we did to the tracks, it helps bring a freshness, new life and if anything further show how timeless Conte’s tracks are when you can make a remix out of it and it sounds like a contemporary track.”

This is a great discovery, to me - the music is terrific, but I always find it interesting and fun to discover alternative versions - a way to kind of see or hear the artist at work. And the music certainly swings.

Daniela Nardi's Espresso Manifesto Website

"Water Damage", new song from Dick Diver

I profiled Melbourne's Dick Diver on these pages a couple of months ago (link).  I remain impressed with their cool vibe and organic, jangly style of guitar pop.  I'm happy to report that the band will deliver an LP titled Calendar Days in March on the Chapter Music label.  In advance of that release, they are sharing track "Water Damage".  Featuring a delightful guitar introduction, trading male and female vocals and a gentle melody, it prompts me to wonder whether we can skip February.

Artist page at Chapter Music

REVIEW: Pia Fraus - Silmi Island

Pia Fraus is a shoegaze and dream pop band from Estonia, formed in 1998 by art school friends.  Over the following ten years they logged a numerous hours performing and miles touring, and recorded four LPs.  This month, old fans and potential new fans can experience the bands' best tracks from 1998-2008 on Silmi Island.  There are 13 tracks on the vinyl album and 15 on the CD/Digital; all tracks have been remastered.

Pia Fraus' sound is characterized by dense, layered textures of guitars, synths and vocals, although when called upon the rhythm section steps to the fore (for example, "You Look Fine", below).  And their production decision to bring the boy girl vocals up in the mix and penchant for varying the pace and intensity of the tracks give them a distinct and welcome place in the dreamier end of the shoegaze spectrum.  Most importantly, while capturing the sonic approach of their shoegaze forebears, Pia Fraus never ignored the hooks and melodies that make songs memorable.

One of my favorites --

An excellent example of Pia Fraus' dream pop style --

The members of the band are Eve Komp (vocals and synth), Kärt Ojavee (synth), Rein Fuks (guitar and vocals), Tõnis Kenkmaa (guitar), Reijo Tagapere (bass), and Margus Voolprit (drums).  Former members included Kristal Eplik (vocals) and Joosep Volk (drums).

Silmi Island is released by Shelflife Records in the US and Seksound in Estonia, and is available on vinyl and CD as well as digital download.

Shelflife Records

REVIEW: Cuddly Shark - The Road To Ugly

The Road to Ugly is a heady stew of punk, country, alternative folk, and indie rock from Glasgow's Cuddly Shark. The trio pulls no punches.  The songs are, for the most part, brief, straight-ahead blasts of energy with talk-sing vocals.  The social commentary also is straight ahead, almost brutal, but it all comes across with a genuine sense of fun.

"Overpriced" displays the band's punk side --

Cuddly Shark are Ruth Forsyth (bass), Jason Sinclair (drums), and Colin Reid (guitar and vocals).  The band was formed in Elgin, in the Scottish Highlands.

"The Devil In You" begins as a folk song, but breaks into a county punk stomp before the one minute mark.

And for some punk fun, here is "Body Mass Index".  The title to the album is taken from a lyric in this song.

The Road to Ugly is out now on Armellodie Records.  If you like your rock on the punk side, with humor and a bit of country, this is an album to check out.

Twitter ( @cuddly_shark )
Armellodie Records

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Oceanography - "Drinking Water", new track from Parachutes of Plenty EP

Oceanography is Oakland's Brian Kelly - he's playing rock music that's exhilarating: simultaneously earthy and soaring. His voice is strong and they lay down a heavy bass and drum rhythm under the guitars and keyboards. They're not reinventing rock, and it's not real complicated stuff... they're just playing it really well. Kelly's the main driver here, but he has help from a cast of players including drummer Kathleen Richards and organist (and engineer) Scott Barwick.

From "American Cars", which starts out with a squall of guitar feedback, to "Drinking Water", which builds a little more slowly, they've put together a wall of sound that should appeal to folks who like good guitar rock.

The EP came out in December, and the band has made this single available for free download:

Video for "Napoleon Holiday" - this one has a little more majestic pace to it:

This is really good stuff - these five songs definitely create some expectations.

Oceanography website


Not So Guilty Pleasure - Steve Marriott

In a parallel universe  I post a daily acknowledgement and celebration of a musician's birthday.  Today was the birthday of one of the finest rock 'n rollers I ever had the pleasure of seeing in person.  Steve Marriott would have been 66.  As the front man of two hit bands - Small Faces and Humble Pie-  he was one of the exemplars of blue-eyed soul.  Each band was widely recognized as being among the tightest live bands in rock history.  Two musicians were recruited to replace him when he left Small Faces.  Ron Wood and Rod Stewart were the musical replacements for one man.  Get out the air guitar, turn  it up to 11 and enjoy one of the greatest RnR or R&B tenors/shouters.

With Small Faces:

With Humble Pie and Peter Frampton (yes that Peter Frampton.)

More Humble Pie:

Laura Stevenson - new track "Runner" now, album due in April

If you've been with us a while, you may recall Laura Stevenson and the Cans' Sit Resist - we raved about it back in 2011 (WYMA Review here and Best of 2011 - with delightful video for "The Healthy One" - here).

Great news from their label Don Giovanni, a new album is due in April... and they've released an advance track now. And no surprise, it's terrific - jangly guitars, upbeat rhythm and her clear, bright voice:

You can buy the song in a limited edition EP at Don Giovanni's website.

New Restorations Album in March! New Song NOW!

Philadelphia's Restorations is one of my very favorite bands of the past few years. The band's members came together out of disparate, yet punk, pasts, and truly have created their own sound -- a careening, anthemic twin guitar foundation interspersed with Jon Loudon's grainy vocals and a brutal rhythm section. Their stellar 2011 self-titled full-length was at the top of my list for that year, and last year's 2 track release A/B was on the shorter-than-full-length-best-of list for anyone who did one (and you can check that out and buy it here).

This year finds the band signed to LA's SideOneDummy Records, who have announced that there's a finished, mastered album ready to hit the streets in March. And if we're lucky enough to see a headlining tour on the heels of the release, don't miss them. A week or so ago they posted a terrific new song, "New Old", which you can hear below. It'll get you on the bandwagon.


"Dance Bear" single from Snakadaktal

The title track to "Dance Bear", from Melbourne's Snakadaktal, is the best slice of dream pop I've heard in a long time.  Dreamy but distinct lyrics, engaging melody and an irresistible rhythm, it reveals a band with excellent composition skills and confidence in their performances.  The other A-side "Air" is a delightful pop tune with male and female vocals taking turns.  While more subtle than "Dance Bear", it also is, perhaps, more impressive in structure and execution.  The songs are available as a double A-side single from London's excellent little Young and Lost Club label.  Young and Lost Club also has made available as digital downloads "Chimera" and the Chad Valley Remix of "Dance Bear.  Those downloads can be accessed at the Soundcloud link at the bottom of this post.

You can stream all four tracks below --

Snakadaktal is Joseph (guitars), Sean (vocals, guitars, synths), Barna (drums), Phoebe (vocals, synths), and Jarrah (bass).  The members are barely out of high school, but have toured extensively in their native Australia.  "Dance Bear" sold over 10,000 copies in Australia.  It is being released in the UK by Young and Lost Club next week.

Twitter ( @snakadaktal )
Young and Lost Club

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

REVIEW: Wake Owl - Wild Country EP

Wake Owl is singer/songwriter Colyn Cameron, native of Vancouver and current resident of Portland, along with Aiden Briscall (violin, electric guitar), Josh Daignault (bass, clarinet), and Andy Shauf (drums, clarinet). Their new EP is out today (Jan. 29) on Vagrant Records.

We've written about them before - since first discovering them back in the fall (WYMA Post here) and again recently, when the video for the lead track, "Gold" was released (WYMA Post here).

And for another take, here's a remix of "Gold" by Noah Hyde/Magic Sword:

What we liked about that first song, and now the rest of the EP, is Cameron's strong clear, voice and the clarity with which the group plays. Like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Wake Owl put everything right up front - nothing is obscured, and it all fits together well.

Here they are performing "Gold" recently - proof, if needed, that Cameron will be able to bring his strong but delicate music across in a live setting:

You'll be able to catch them live in February and March:

You can now buy the EP at iTunes or at Amazon.

Swamp Dogg is off the Leash - Again.

Not all reissues suck.  Some are great.  Two reissues from soul iconoclast and Nixon enemies' list member Swamp Dogg (aka Jerry Williams) will be released by Alive Natural Sound Records. They are reissuing  Swamp Dogg's newly remastered first two records from the early '70s: Total Destruction To Your Mind and Rat On! on March 5th. This music will be available on black vinyl or CD.  Swamp Dogg is offering fans free downloads of "If I DieTomorrow" (from Total Destruction To Your Mind) and "Creeping Away" (from Rat On!).

Swamp Dogg wears many hats - performer, songwriter, arranger, anti-war activist and producer.  His own words help us understand why record companies had difficulty embracing the man: “Commencing in 1970, I sung about sex, n*ggers, love, rednecks, war, peace, dead flies, home wreckers, Sly Stone, my daughters, politics, revolution and blood transfusions (just to name a few), and never got out of character. He did not get put of character when he created what has been described as one of the 10 worst album covers of all time: 

So as another original,  Lord Buckley, so eloquently stated:  "Hipsters, flipsters and finger-poppin' daddies knock me your lobes."  The first taste is free. His music is rock, it's country soul, it's classic R&B and it's funk.  Take away the impeccable Stax horn arrangements and it's stone cold classic country.  Enjoy.  Rat on brother, Rat on.

The following sounds as if it were written for Otis Redding, George Jones or Charlie Rich. Swamp Dogg is Everyman.

Introducing: Pageants, and their new single

Long Beach, California's Pageants formed a couple of years ago when founding member Rebecca Coleman left Avi  Buffalo.  Originally a duo, Pageants now are three, with Coleman (vocals and guitar) joined by Devin O'Brien (guitar) and Dylan Wood (drums).  An album release is planned for later this year, but they are whetting our appetites with the two track single, "Musings of the Tide/August Moon".

The title track features a delightfully crunchy guitar and Coleman's clear and warm vocals.  It is the kind of song that whispers "you love me, don't you?" as it worms its way into your ears.  "August Moon" features a more languid rhythm and an almost Americana vocals.  Overall, the single displays stellar vocals and a great melodic sensibility.

Based on this single alone, our wait for the album would be impatient.  But we've listened to a couple of demo tracks on Soundcloud, as well, and our impatience is only increased.

Link for purchase
Twitter ( @pgnts )

REVIEW: The History of Apple Pie - Out of View

Guitarist Jerome Watson and vocalist Stephanie Min began The History of Apple Pie as a bedroom project, posting their output on Myspace.  When their songs attracted attention from labels and agents, they added members and a proper band was born.  Although attracting considerable buzz, the five-piece took its time to refine its sound and work on songs, while releasing the occasional single to meet the demands of a growing fan base.  And now, in the form of the ten-track Out of View, it is time for the coming out party. Or, if you will, to take the pie out of the oven.

The first thing that should be understood about this album is that quick and simple assumptions and comparisons are likely to be wanting, if not false.  Despite the group's name, the poses in some of the promo photos, and the sugary vulnerability of Min's lead vocals and Kelly Owens backing vocals, this group is no twee fuzz pop band (although "You're So Cool" (video below) is, undeniably, a pop song).  And yes, the sound reflects a respect for Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Ride and Lush.  But the major chords, energy, pace, and those sweet vocals again, provide distance from those rock ancestors.  So, while tracks like album opener "Tug", "Do It Wrong" and "Glitch" burnish the band's reputation for shoegaze and distortion, tracks like "See You" and "Mallory" illustrate that the reality of The History of Apple Pie is more complex.  And more entertaining.

The album's second track, "See You", has been released as a single, and is my current favorite --

If the listener isn't all-in after "Tug" and "See You", the poppy 'dance-gaze' of "Mallory", which also was released as a single, should seal the deal.  It serves as a summary of the album: Melody, noise and energy in an appealingly sweet package.

"Warrior" and "Glitch" ably demonstrate the band's rock chops.

The History of Apple Pie is based in London.  The complete line-up is Stephanie Min (vocals and guitar), Jerome Watson (guitar), James Thomas (drums), Kelly Owens (bass and backing vocals), and Aslam Ghauri (guitar).  Out of View is out today, January 29, on Marshall Tell Records.

Twitter ( @thoapband )

Monday, January 28, 2013

REVIEW: Radar Brothers - Eight

The Radar Brothers' latest album, Eight, starts out quietly enough, with an almost whispered baritone vocal... but it doesn't take long for the guitars to kick in. And they really never let up, throughout the 43:00 plus of the record. There is an interesting juxtaposition of the amped-up guitars and the laid-back vocals throughout the record, and as noted, the trend begins on the first track, "What If We Were Banished"...

It's a little reminiscent of Mark Eitzel or The National, but I think it rocks harder than those, and certainly gets more psychedelic. In fact, there are times on this record (parts of "Couch", "Disappearer") that remind me of Pink Floyd. "Ebony Bow" is gorgeous - the guitars, piano and overlaid vocals all combine to give the sense of drifting along, not being in a hurry, and enjoying the journey.

It's a very interesting record - all the songs are around 4 minutes long, all are mostly midtempo, and the vocals are, for the most part, pretty sleepy... except for the 3:08 "Time Rolling By", which has got some serious giddyup, both in tempo and the volume on the guitars. And the song is more than half over before the vocals kick in. It's a good change of pace, and a very good rock song.

If what you're looking for is a record that combines well-played rock and alt/country with great guitars and occasional psychedelic flights, you will want to spend some time with this record.

Radar Brothers at Merge Records

Introducing: Bored Spies

One tactic for keeping on top of good emerging music is to pay attention to what bands you like are paying attention to.  And paying attention to what members of bands you follow do when they aren't with those bands.  Recently John advised me that the twitter feed for a Singapore band I follow, Obedient Wives Club, stated that their guitarist, Cherie Ko, was releasing a single with her project Bored Spies.  Knowing that the hardworking Ms. Ko (who also has a solo project called Pastelpower) was involved in the band was sufficient reason for me to track down the release.  The fact that one of the members may be named Panther was also a good reason (I didn't have time to look for my copy of the Blog's rules, but there may be a rule that we have to profile any band with a female vocalist and a bass player named Panther; and if we don't have such a rule, we should).

By the way, the full band is Cherie Ko (guitar, vocals and keys), Orestes Morfin (drums) and Panther Lau (bass).  Another source states that the band consists of Ko, Morfin and Sooyoung Park.  Apparently the members hail from Singapore, Korea and Canada.

The A-side of the single is "Summer 720".  The track begins with crunchy, psychedelic guitar and then transitions to a summery, mid-tempo pop track featuring Cherie's sweet vocals.  The B-side is "沙鼠E", which is an atmospheric dream pop tune that gathers steam very nicely over its three minute run.  With this slim introduction, familiarity with Ko's prior work, and the knowledge that they have been invited to play a Spain's Primavera Sound Festival in May,  I'll score this band as one to watch.  But even if you aren't inclined to track bands, this single stands on its own merits.

Twitter ( @boredspies )
Facebook for Pastelpower
Facebook for Obedient Wives Club

REVIEW: Dolly Varden - For A While

Why are Midwesterners so earnest? Could it be that the lack of mountains or ocean together with brutal winters and hot, humid summers bring a dose of humility? Or perhaps the landscape triggers a need to adopt an approach to life that is forgiving and generous in spirit?

I honestly don't know, but somehow a band as grounded and earnest as Dolly Varden could only hail from the Midwest, in their case, the capital of the Midwest, Chicago.

Dolly Varden, led by husband and wife Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen, has been making music since the early '90's, received great press, developed a devoted following, but never achieved the success that might have awaited this 5 piece band. And on their new release, For A While, it's clear that they accept that and are secure in who they are and what they do. And what they do is write and perform unusually well structured and thoughtful songs, moving comfortably from folk to alt-country to jangle pop ("Walking the Chalkline Again") to rock ("Done (Done)"), all exceptionally well done and with a distinct Midwestern wholesomeness that is completely at odds with the cynical and insincere age in which we live.

Which isn't to suggest the songs are light or always particularly upbeat.  For A While is quite often stark and keenly observational, looking at people and situations as they are. The opening track, "Del Mar, 1976", is a conversational recall of growing up, with good memories of sliding down hills, and seeing Buck Owens perform at the fairgrounds, but also the singer's depressed Mom upstairs crying in bed, and an alcoholic lady next door ignoring her poorly behaved twin children. But Dawson's voice is a naturally warm and soulful one, which makes these reminisces come off sympathetic without any trace of regret or bitterness.

On "From Saskatchewan to Chicago," Dawson traces the migration of the men in his family, starting with his great grandfather heading out for California, through the current day to Dawson in Chicago. I am reminded of the Silos and another great Midwestern roots rock band, The Vulgar Boatmen, in Dawson's plainspoken telling of the journey, its ups ("fishing all summer in the river behind our house, I was singing to the trees, singing to the water") and downs:

My grandpa took a job as a teacher in New Mexico
It was the height of the Depression
Thee was nowhere else to go. 

Christiansen takes the lead vocals on the title track:

I particularly like "Temperamental Complement" a more experimental rock-oriented track, and the beautiful folk song "Mayfly" (snippets of which are highlighted in the interview linked in the following paragraph). Dolly Varden has had the same lineup since 1995 and their comfort and trust in each other is evident. Guitarist Mark Balletto seems to add just the right lead or pedal steel fill at just the right time. The record benefits greatly from being recording essentially live in the studio, the making of it discussed here:

True to their sincere Midwestern roots, Dolly Varden close the record with a song called 
"Thank You", a spirited romp that without saying so exactly just screams with the joy of the band playing together and for us.

For A While is a very warm, engaging record. You should buy a copy. Visit the Dolly Varden web page where you can read a write-up by Dawson on each song, and buy cd's and vinyl. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Postpunk Discovery: Tunabunny - Genius Fatigue

Tunabunny is a band from Athens, GA with a funny name and two female vocalists (Brigette Herron and Mary Jane Hassell), playing guitar-based, free-form jazz-influenced postpunk... that's a stab at a "genre", but it's rare that a band will be able to call to mind influences as diverse as The Pixies, Captain Beefheart, The Breeders and Sonic Youth - all in one record. Their debut, Genius Fatigue, is out Tuesday (Jan. 29) on HHBTM Records, and is highly recommended.

I featured them a while back, when I first heard them - happy to see that the album is getting released. For the hard-rocking side, check out "Duchess for Nothing":

Check out the great guitars on "Form A Line":

Heck, there are great guitars throughout this record.

Here is a recent video, for "Locusts" - from a split 7" they did in 2012 with Shrag.

REVIEW: Dead Leaf Echo - Thought And Language

Thought and Language is the new album from NYC-based dreampop/shoegaze outfit Dead Leaf Echo.  They are playing it very lush and loud - the guitars are spectacular, and it seems each song features more soaring leads than the one before. There is a series of songs in the middle of the record - "Internal", "Language of the Waves" and "Memorytraces" - each between 4:40 and over 6:00 - that remind me of nothing quite so much as the music of Swervedriver and My Bloody Valentine. The singer's voice is a bit reminiscent of Adam Franklin's, and the guitars soar, swirl and just kind of drown you in the sound.

They are new to me, but they have clearly been at this for a while - I am tremendously impressed with their playing, with the structure of the songs and most of all the quality of the music. It's headphone music, but I imagine it also comes across very well live - it's completely immersive.

The band has produced a video for "Kingmaker", the lead track from their upcoming album Thought And Language:

Kingmaker from dead leaf echo on Vimeo.

And here's the track:

Here's another video - a live performance of the album cut "Birth":

Thought And Language is due out in March, but you can listen to a little more of their music at their website now - and you should. This is a band with a very full, engaging rock sound.

Dead Leaf Echo website

New Blues Rock Discovery: Arc & Stones - Arc & Stones EP

Arc & Stones is a Brooklyn-based rock foursome (Dan Pellarin- Lead Vocals/ Rhythm Guitar/Keys, Ben Cramer- Lead Guitar/Vocals, Eddy Bayes- Bass/Vocals, Joe Doino- Drums) with a 5-song self-titled EP due out February 12. They have a strong rhythm section and Cramer can really wail on the guitar - it's all build around that and Pellarin's soulful voice. Here's the video for "Silence" - give this song time, it really builds and the guitar in the chorus is terrific:

And you can stream the song "Say Goodbye" here... similarly, it builds to a crescendo:

It's recommended if you enjoy the blues-based rock of Warren Haynes, Kings of Leon. or Gary Clark Jr., but this has more acoustic and slow-build components to it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

REVIEW: Goodman - What We Want

Goodman is Michael Goodman, a New York-based artist playing some terrific power-pop. On his recent release, What We Want, sometimes I'm reminded of Cheap Trick, sometimes Fountain of Wayne, and sometimes of slower and sadder stuff, maybe some Beach Boys ballads. The music is meticulously put together, all the parts in service of the whole sound - whether fast and catchy or slow and melancholy.

Here is the lead track (and the single, if I had to pick), "Night Person". It's upbeat, catchy and the vocal harmonies are right-on:

Another of my favorites (you see, I much prefer the upbeat stuff, even thought it's all got some melancholy behind it) is "Another Man":


And, to show you the slower side, here is "Yawning" - Goodman's got a really good grasp of all kinds of pop hooks. This one's got some swing, almost kind of doo-wop:

The record is out now, and well worth checking out. You can buy it at the Soundcloud via the links above, or at Bandcamp.

Playlist: Rich's Best of 2012

I'm new to this game, so I didn't prepare a 2012 year end "best of" list.  However, that didn't mean that I was not, for my own music geek self, preparing a Spotify list all year long.  In case you are interested, these were some of my favorites from last year.  Rock.


PLAYLIST: 100 Influential Albums

I was greeted this morning by a Facebook posting from the WYMA page.  The post announced
"When" owns 62 of the 100 Influential Albums.

I appreciate  the fact the creators of the list did not have the audacity to add the word "Most" to the title.  While not the most influential, it is a good list.  The quiz has gone viral - their website has crashed.  Here is a Spotify playlist with the bulk of the albums (1308 track/3 days) on the list.  Put it on shuffle and enjoy.

Review: The Traditional Fools - The Traditional Fools

Among Ty Segall's many past projects was the 2008 release by The Traditional Fools.  Comprised of Segall, Andrew Luttrell and David Fox, the trio's lone, self-titled album of lo-fi, thrashy, surfy garage sold out and has long been unavailable.  A 12-song set of mostly short, uncomplicated garage songs, the album rates high on energy and fun.  And thanks to In the Red Records, it finally is available again.

My preferred manner of consuming this music would be a beachside shack full of sweaty dancing fools, better to enjoy the primal scream and rootsy, surfy guitar of "Layback" or "Shredstick".  But I'll gladly take it any way I can get it.  It is lo-fi, dirty, and messy in all the gloriously right places.  If you are a garage rock fan, Traditional Fools isn't a historical footnote, it is a missing brick in your (garage) wall.

"Milkman" --

"Party at My House" --

In the Red Records

New Italian Garage Rock Discovery: Wildmen/Capputtini 'I Lignu - "Drunkula"

Italian garage rock outfit Wildmen will be releasing their first album on March 1, and you are gonna want it... as long as the rest of it is as awesome as "Drunkula", a single they released recently in combination with Capputtini 'I Lignu :

And here's a new video for another advance track, "Haters Gonna Hate":

Hell, I like the titles almost as much as the music... but I really like the music.

From our friends at Shit Music For Shit People (who released one of my favorite records of 2012 - actually #8 - Strange Hands' Dead Flowers). They're actually really nice folks and they think a lot of you, especially if you buy their great music. But would you pay as much attention to a label called "Nice Music For Nice People"? No, I didn't think so.

Friday, January 25, 2013

New song from Waxahatchee - "Peace And Quiet" from upcoming Cerulean Salt

This is one of the most-anticipated records I can think of - at least by me. Great voice, and those guitars! The album is due out March 5... and this teaser video for album track "Peace And Quiet" was just posted today:

And here's a track from the previous record, American Weekend:

A little more info from their label, Don Giovanni, here.

Tour dates:

01-29 Poughkeepsie, NY - Vasser College
01-30 Wilkes-Barre, PA - Crimson Lion Hookah Lounge
01-31 Ithaca, NY - Cornell University
02-01 Cohoes, NY - The Icehouse (house)
02-02 Burlington, VT - Wristwrens (house)
02-03 Newmarket, NH - Fuckingham Palace (house)
02-04 Cambridge, MA - All Asia
02-05 Easthampton, MA - The Flywheel
02-06 New Haven, CT - PAC
02-07 New Paltz, NY - Mosh Depot (house)
02-08 New York, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
02-09 Providence, RI - Squidamps
02-16 Purchase, NY - SUNY Purchase

Mogwai releases new track "Wizard Motor" from upcoming Les Revenants ST album, EP available now

Mogwai has supplied the score to a French zombie series, Les Revenants. Here is the first track, "Wizard Motor"...

The four-song EP is out now, the full soundtrack album is due out in February.

Mogwai at Rock Action Records


Literally, FIDLAR stands for "fuck it dog, life's a risk".  More broadly, it reflects the punk attitude and concerns of one of the better punk bands to recently emerge from Southern California.  Possessed of a range that includes redline-level hardcore and punk pop, and imbued with an understanding that if they write about what interests them, they are writing what their audience wants to hear, their self-titled LP nails the landing for the fans, and gives the finger to the critics.  The track titles include "Cheap Beer", "Stoked and Broke", "No Wave", "Max Can't Surf", "Wake! Bake! Skate!", "Blackout Stout", "Paycheck", and "Cocaine".  It may be simple, but it isn't a cliche if it reflects life.  And the quality of the compositions and performances reveal the musicianship to be well above the garage band status indicated by the lyrical themes.  FIDLAR, then ably walks the tightrope between serious musical chops and wish fulfillment for the skate/punk crowd.

"Black Out Stout" encapsulates what I like best about FIDLAR -- a great guitar riffs and a shouted, anthemic chorus discussing one of my favorite food groups.

The band's garage pop abilities are on display in "No Waves".  And that bassline never fails to make me happy --

And here we have the rapid-fire skate-punk anthem of "Wake, Bake, Skate" --

Given the genre, the final score for FIDLAR is determined by the fun quotient, and it earns a fist-pumping high grade.  It is out now on the Mom+Pop label.


Friday Nuggets - The Sonics "Psycho" (and "Strychnine")

A band so cool they named an NBA team after them!
The Sonics ruled the Seattle rock scene before Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain were born. And make no mistake, the Sonics were just as edgy and punk as any Seattle band to follow them.
They had a truly wild and revolutionary sound, though looked like nice boys from the Pacific NW.

This video of their classic song "Psycho" is crazy, such a period piece, I'm not sure what to say:

And The Sonics are so great, we will, only 3 weeks in to Friday Nuggets, break our guideline of one song per and give you a bonus song, "Strychnine", which I was introduced to by the smoking cover of this that is a staple of the Minus 5's live shows

Here's are the Sonics:  

The Sonics, with a mostly intact lineup, still perform today. You Portlanders should join me and go see them on Feb 15 at the Hawthorne Theater.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Art Rock Discovery: Gliss - Langsom Dans

Gliss is a Danish/American three-piece, and their new album, Langsom Dans, was released on January 22nd, 2013 via Modern Outsider.

Here is the video for "Weight of Love":

Gliss - Weight of Love from Gliss on Vimeo.

Members of the band are Victoria Cecilia, Martin Klingman and David Reiss. Langsom Dans was recorded in LA, and mixed by Michael Patterson (Trent Reznor/NIN, Beck, Ladytron) and mastered by Henrik Jonsson (Lykke Li, The Knife).

They move easily from dance rock like the 5:30 "In Heaven" to slower, atmospheric songs like "Black is Blue" with its slowed-down tempo and wavery guitar... almost like somebody slowed down some Jesus & Mary Chain and put a female vocal on top of it. If that sounds intriguing, well, that's definitely a good description of some of the songs on this record. "Blur" has a slowed-down drum and bass line with a languid vocal, the whole thing drenched in reverb. Cecilia's vocals are in places reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, and overall the music is very full and lush, and stands up well to repeated listens - I liked it more every time I listened.

Here are three of the songs - previously released as part of a two-song single in the fall:

And you can download album track "Blur" at this link.

Gliss Official Website

REVIEW: Hilly Eye - Reasons to Live

As a devoted, if not obsessed, Titus Andronicus fan, I must admit that I was a bit concerned when I learned that Amy Klein was leaving the band after the tour for The Monitor.  Why change something that was seemingly perfect?  Why risk harming, in any way, my favorite live band?

Thankfully, Titus' great performances with a new lineup in 2012 and the fantastic Local Business combined with the newly released Reasons to Live by Hilly Eye (featuring Klein on lead vocals and guitar and Catherine Tung on drums) (Don Giovanni Records) allow me to rest easy knowing that I did not lose a favorite, but gained one.

On Reasons to Live, Klein and Tung make beautiful noise together.  From droning, fuzzed-out guitar noise to angry and sometimes epic guitar rock, Hilly Eye's debut never disappoints.  Summoning the spirits of Sleater-Kinney, early P.J. Harvey, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth, and My Bloody Valentine, Reasons to Live excels at hypnotizing listeners and then jarring them back to reality with powerful and magical moments and riffs.

Importantly, this is not just noise rock.  Sure, the noise on this record is most immediately apparent, but what makes Reasons to Live great is what lies underneath the noise:  strong songwriting, Klein's skilled guitar work, and Tung's powerful and straight ahead attack on her drums.

Hilly Eye is a talented and exciting new band, Reasons to Live is an exceptional first effort, and I cannot wait to see what they do next.

Breaking Away by Being There now available in the US

One of my favorite albums of 2012 (my list of recommended albums is here) was Breaking Away, the debut LP from young UK band Being There.  In response to my review, a number of US readers expressed disappointment that it was only available in the US at a rather high import price.  However, we have good news for you -- the album now is available in the US on iTunes for $9.99 (link).

Being There puts their own great stamp on guitar sounds from the '60s, '80s and '90s.  Remind yourself below:


New Lo-Fi Psych Discovery: Gayze - Black Soul

And when I say lo-fi, I do mean LO... but great. Funny thing is, the cover art led me to expect a slick bit of shoegaze or dance-rock... and instead what spilled out of the speakers was a mid-60's Sunset Strip-inspired psychedelic freakout that reminds me fondly of that great Allah-Las record we featured in some of our "Best of 2012" lists. Plenty of reverb, and indecipherable lyrics - even better!

You can listen, and even download, the EP right here:

And you should... they've got three of the four P's nailed (psych, punk and pop abound). It's out now on Bleeding Gold Records.

New Pony Time song - "Because I Care"

We recently featured a review of Pony Time's terrific new punk/rockabilly album Go Find Your Own, and are happy that they are willing to share another of their songs with you:

This shows some confidence on their part, and I think it's warranted... give this a listen and I think you'll see what I mean.

REVIEW: Young Fathers - Tape One EP

We have covered numerous Scottish bands over the past three years, and we continue to believe that it is one of the most fertile music scenes on the planet.  The trio Young Fathers hails from Edinburgh, yet their music differs from the indie pop, folk rock and related genres in which the other bands we cover generally fall.  Comprised of vocalists Kayus Bankole, Alloysious Maasquoi and Graham Hastings (with Graham also serving as beat master/producer),  Young Fathers merge rap, hip hop, and electronic with a hooky  pop sensibility (and reportedly boy band dance moves) to produce a vibrant, expressive, realistically gritty yet hopeful urban collage that has me completely enthralled.

Reportedly the members met at a club in their teens.  Now in their early 20s, they have played a number of shows and released a few singles.  Their eight-track debut EP, Tape One, was released as a free mixtape over a year ago.  However, they recently signed to Anticon, which re-released the EP on January 22.  Featured track "Romance" boasts a pop vocal delivery over skittering percussion --

Young Fathers - "Romance" from anticon. on Vimeo.

"Rumbling" lives up to its name with an aggressive, up-front bass and drum supporting rap lyrics and a chanted chorus.  And there is a "tossing the caber" reference to Scottish culture.

Young Fathers - "Rumbling" from anticon. on Vimeo.

Opening track "Deadline" uses a droning bass note and tribal drumming with chanted vocals to signal Young Fathers' determination to follow their own muses.

This is an album painted in vibrant and varied colors.  You owe it to yourself to give it a try.


REVIEW: Camper Van Beethoven - La Costa Perdida

On the eve of their 30th anniversary as a band, it stands to reason that Camper Van Beethoven are not neatly fitting into any box. Even in their heyday in the late '80's, sharing arena show bills with R.E.M. and 10,000 Maniacs, on the verge of major stardom, and under pressure from their major label to deliver a radio hit, Camper Van Beethoven made mincemeat of musical categories and created wildly original music. 

La Costa Perdida honors their legacy. While many songs start with a familiar enough base of folk-rock, California pop or 70's hard rock riffs, they quickly introduce elements that take the songs in far more interesting directions, maybe a ska beat, or a waltz element or a Middle Eastern sound. For CVB, this is a tried and true approach, though it's far too quirky, and frankly, at times weird, though wonderfully so, to be called a formula.  

One song here in particular truly stands out for me - "Northern California Girls", which maybe started as their idea of a weird Beach Boys song, and then goes from there.

La Costa Perdida (translates as the lost coast) was written and recorded fairly quickly in Big Sur California and many of the songs introduce the sort of California hippies, outsiders and beautiful losers that lead songwriter David Lowery has always gravitated towards. That is on full display on "Too High for the Love-In" a shaggy dog story involving an acid trip, an angry wild bird loose in a living room, a viper bite, anti-poison venom, you know, the usual pop song kind of stuff. Meanwhile on that song, the band lays down some wild psychedelia of its own.

Lowery's outsiders, no matter how odd, are never mocked and generally are just keenly observed, with a mix of genuine curiosity and subtle sympathy.

The strength of Camper Van Beethoven, however, isn't the surrealistic lyrics or unpredictable structure  of the songs, it is the chops of the players and their unique chemistry as an ensemble. The songs were co-written by Lowery with bassist Victor Krummenacher, guitarist Greg Lisher and violinist Jonathan Segel, each of whom bring their own sensibility but just the right feel. Above all else CVB are a real band and at this point they really know what they are doing.

Another highlight is the lead track "Come Down the Coast", a gorgeous folk-rock song that might fit just as easily on a Cracker record, Lowery's more straightforward rock'n'roll band.    Here's a a recent live version:

Listen to "Someday Our Love Will Sell Us Out" here.

La Costa Perdida has 10 fine new CVB songs. Highly recommended.

Artist web page here, see especially tour dates, as Camper Van Beethoven especially excels as a live band.