Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Guitar-Pop Discovery: Fire Island Pines - 1915 EP

Fire Island Pines is a six-piece band from Cornwall, UK playing a style of guitar pop that, whether upbeat pop tunes or slower ballads, is all light and catchy - guitar-based, but with some nice horns thrown in for added brightness. The vocals call to mind Lloyd Cole, which is a definite plus to me. They've just released a 3-song EP and it is perfect summer pop. Check out the first track, "1915" - I love the way it opens with a single guitar line, then just completely opens up wide and bright:

Here's the second track, "Midwest" - this one's a little more understated, the guitars and the horns more muted, and whereas it builds up to a fuller guitar sound, it even has a full stop in the middle whereafter it changes to a sort of sad ballad again, then builds back up only to fade out. Extremely well-crafted:

And, finally, "Cherry Grove" - a little more upbeat, with some tension/release on the guitars:

I'm impressed - they have a way with a pop hook on guitar, horns and vocals - and looking forward to a full album's worth from these guys. This three-track EP is available on Manic Pop! Records in the US or you can buy the digital download or order an orange vinyl directly from the band over there: Fire Island Pines Bandcamp. Go over to the right on the Bandcamp link, and they've got one of their previous releases, Bratislava EP, available for free download.

REVIEW: Burnt Ones - You'll Never Walk Alone

You'll Never Walk Alone, the sophomore LP from San Francisco's Burnt Ones doesn't bother to choose whether it is garage, glam or psychedelic album.  It is all three, in varying degrees depending on the track.  It also is an album that is thematically introspective and dark, but generally vibrant musically.  It starts out with the stately 80 seconds of "Glitter Death", but then kicks into gear with "Web" psychedelic song featuring a bouncy bass line.  The garage/glam strain gets even stronger with "Freak In The Fog", then turns a bit more psychedelic again with "Hologram Dropouts" and "Vision Forever".  But the glam that always is bubbling at least near the surface takes center stage in standout track "Fountain of Youth" --

"Clock" is a glorious, triumphant slice of glittery psych-pop.  Then "I Care - I Don't Care" takes the glittery psych-pop and layers on a bit of bubblegum.  "Getting Brighter Blues" and "Country Mouth Honey" have quieter moments, but never leave behind the confident drums and bass, chunky guitar riffs or soaring harmonies.  The album closes with the "Move On", an excellent tune performed at a slow tempo but which always seems ready to bust loose.

It seems to me that in infusing life into the San Francisco garage scene Burnt Ones have added some spice from the T. Rex and Mott the Hoople section of the cupboard.  And from the vantage point of my listening chair, the choice of seasoning seems inspired.  I'm a garage rock fan, but I must admit that often a garage rock album is as good as it is going to get in the first listen.  The varied textures and quality songwriting of You'll Never Walk Alone result in a garage rock album that allows for increased appreciation with repeated listens.

Burnt Ones are Mark Tester, Amy Crouch and Brian Allen.  You'll Never Walk Alone is out today on Burger Records.

Burger Records

Preview: Joseph Arthur "All The Old Heroes" (from upcoming LP "Ballad Of Boogie Christ")

Joseph Arthur writes gorgeous folk-rock songs with terrific lyrics. His work over 9 full length CDs and a host of EPs is uniformly strong.

But if this advance track from his upcoming CD Ballad of Boogie Christ (due June 11 on the Lonely Astronauts label) is an indicator of things to come, we could be looking at one of 2013's best releases.  And we certainly now have one of the most effective videos I've seen in quite awhile.

"All the Old Heroes":

Play this video 2-3 times and elevate your spirit. I can't get enough of this song!

If you aren't familiar with the music from this Akron Ohio native, now residing in New York, there's a free (!) download of his 24 song LP Redemption City available here: Redemption City.

Artist web page: http://www.josepharthur.com/

Monday, April 29, 2013

REVIEW: Guided by Voices - English Little League

By now, especially if you pay attention to the comings and goings of Robert Pollard and Guided by Voices, you may have already heard 5 of the 17 tracks on English Little League, and you're wondering what kind of sonic delights GbV have given us to accompany them. You won't be disappointed. 

The opening track is "Xeno Pariah" - one of the previously released singles that's jangly and short and sweet. It's a classic Pollard guitar pop track with at least two expansive yet economical guitar lines and bass/drum work that's perfectly-played - in and out in 2:03, almost before you can shake your head and wonder, again, how the hell he keeps coming up with these:

And, as on albums like Alien Lanes, it melts into the following track "Know Me As Heavy", which features slurred vocals from both Sprout and Pollard over meandering guitar lines that, about 45 seconds in, build to a hard rock frenzy, including the first appearance of cowbell that I can recall since "Rhine Jive Click"! (did I say "Auditorium"?)

Next comes one of the creamiest, catchiest Sprout tracks ever - one of the singles, "Islands (She Talks In Rainbows)" - it's British Invasion guitar pop with impeccable vocal harmonies:

Followed by a proggy Pollard single, "Trash Can Full of Nails" - but of course, not all proggy, as it features a jangly chorus:

Followed by a guitar/vocal track "Send to Celeste (And The Cosmic Athletes)" - it's played pretty much as a demo for about the first 1:15, then the drums, bass and full guitar sounds kick in as it builds to a crescendo, strips back down to guitar only behind more stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and builds to about a 20-second full-band outro. Like a lot of great GbV songs, it's composed of what sound like three or four separate songs that are woven together seamlessly. And if all you pay attention to are the singles, you'll rob yourself of the fun of discovering a different favorite track on each listen - like the next track, a Sprout psychedelic guitar jam "Quiet Game" that finds him sounding, to me, a bit like Syd Barrett... yes, it will be my favorite at some point. As will the next one, one of the singles, "Noble Insect". It is nearly an epic GbV track - interestingly, it starts out very much like a vintage Tobin Sprout track, until a Pollard vocal kicks in: "Japan/Japan/Japan/Friction in Japan..."

It's got a simple rhythm and the lyrics are pretty spare, with the emphasis being on several rising and falling guitar lines, some swelling keyboards and Pollard's pronunciation of the lyrics... each repetition of line finds him emphasizing a different word or sound. On the album, of course, something this bombastic would want to be followed by an acoustic snippet like "Sir Garlic Breath" - where Pollard, over a couple of strummed guitar lines (one acoustic, one electric) is intoning random lyrics about "five little girls wrapped in pearls" and the apparent hero of the song: "cloven, woven, Sir G". It's all a bit reminiscent of a song like "The Old Grunt", and of course a perfect fit on a GbV record with five singles.

That's eight tracks of the 17 on the album, and I assure you each one will be a favorite upon one of your passes through the album - as will any of the next nine. Hell, who even gives you eight good songs on an album anymore? You know, it's funny. If you're one of those people who doesn't believe in "the album" anymore - you can certainly get more than your money's worth buying the singles. In fact, you might never know what you're missing. But you will be missing some amazing stuff. Get the singles, but get the album. And the next one, and the one after that...

Guided by Voices at Rockathon

GBV Digital

New song "A Heartbeat Behind" from Spectrals

Spectrals are Yorkshire-bred vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Louis Jones, his brother Will, and from time to time other musicians.  His debut album of northern soul flavored guitar pop was well received generally, and here.  I also caught the live act, and was impressed with the sound and the band's connection with the audience.  In advance of the summer release of Sob Story, their sophomore LP on Slumberland Records, Spectrals have shared one of the album's tracks, "A Heartbeat Behind".  The track has a roosty feel with a bit of a Big Star power pop swing to it.  The album was recorded in San Francisco under the direction of former Girls collaborator Chet JR White.  The results so far sound fantastic and I'm looking forward to this album.

"Milky Way" is another track that will be included on Sob Story --

Twitter ( @_spectrals )

REVIEW: Dupree - Nuestro Camino

Dupree is an Austin, TX based trio -- a bit of a throwback -- playing an upbeat take on the Hammond B3-based blues/soul instrumentals of artists like Jimmy Smith and Booker T & The MG's. This week they are releasing Nuestro Camino, and anybody with a taste for instrumental rock, blues and soul ought to check it out.

The band consists of Mike Flanigin, Jake Langley, and Kyle Thompson, and they play at the Continental Club in Austin on a regular basis. I imagine their live groove is something to behold, because the one on record sure does swing. Partly, I suppose that is due to the fact that this record was produced by Spoon's Jim Emo, live in a single take, to 2-track tape with no overdubbing or "fixing it in the mix" possible. The results are delightful, with some amazing B3 runs throughout, perhaps nowhere as soaring as on the 6:00 "All Or Nothing At All".

Here's a short video they made about the making of the record:

Here's "The Turtle":

Langley's guitars on here are great too - you'll be put in mind of the West Coast jazz of Wes Montgomery, particularly on "KC", which also features some tremendous runs and held notes on the B3 - as you listen, you can picture a crowd being played into a frenzy by this stuff.

Eno is not only the producer of this record, he's created a music label and distribution system, named, after his studio, Public Hi-Fi Records. You can buy physical copies (including, no kidding, a white 8-track tape!) from Public Hi-Fi here, or you can buy the digital version here. The digital contains four more tracks, including the fast-paced jazz piece "Cookin' at the Continental" and the delightfully mellow "Nightcap" - so maybe get an 8-track for your pleasure van or muscle car, and a download to carry around on your phone.

REVIEW: Rollin Hunt - The Phoney

Rollin Hunt has made an album that is easy to like, but a bit difficult to categorize.  Although Hunt earned his reputation as a lo-fi wunderkind, on The Phoney he teams with producer and multi-instrumentalist Doni Schroader to shape a wide scope hi-fi version of his musical vision.  The boys take soul and pop starting point, and then warp it through dream pop and experimental electronic frolics and samples.  It is unpredictable, but never jarring.   And the satisfaction for the listener comes from both the delightful sounds and the joy of being surprised.

The Phoney is available April 30 in digital and on CD and vinyl from Moniker Records, and can be ordered via Moniker's Bandcamp page (linked below).

Moniker Records
Moniker Records' Bandcamp

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Post - Cavalcade

Yes, I know that we wrote about Cavalcade, the debut LP from POST last December (link).  But POST officially launched the album Friday at Glasgow's Nice N Sleazy, so we're taking the opportunity to again bring it to your attention.  Why? First, it is that good.  Dance rock, post punk, power pop, thick bass, exciting guitar lines and other goodness packed into seven tracks.  Second, it is available on Bandcamp for "name your price".  Third, this Glasgow/Manchester three-piece consists of good people and and they hang out with a good bunch of musicians who strive to keep the arts alive -- the We Can Still Picnic collective that includes Wake the President and Casual Sex.

The album opener --

"New Play Thing" screams 'hit dance single' --

By the time the album gets to track four, "New Built Fears Love", any label scout worth his PBR should be texting his boss.

POST is Graham Wann, Craig Forbes and Adam Florence.

You can stream the Cavalcade at Bandcamp, but our advice is to hit the "buy" button and lay a little love on POST.


REVIEW: Vandaveer - Oh, Willie, Please

Vandaveer's new album Oh, Willie, Please requires a strong constitution. Not the music, the music is terrific. Vandaveer's core is a duo - Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin - and they are both terrific vocalists, with a real knack for the type of clear, evocative singing that folk ballads require. But the subject matter... well, it was only a matter of time, I suppose, before someone came up with an all-murder-ballad album. Inspired by their participation in The 78 Project (which featured other WYMA favorites and may inspire a post of its own on WYMA at some point), Heidinger and Guerin moved forward with just that in mind.

In addition to Heidinger and Guerin, the band on this album also features J. Tom Hnatow (These United States, The Mynabirds) and Phillips Saylor (Stripmall Ballads, The Shiftless Rounders) with steel string, resonator and pedal steel guitars, banjos and pianos. And these tragic, timeless ballads are played and sung impeccably, with intricate harmonies between Heidinger and Guerin, and lots of beautiful interplay between the string instruments. The pedal steel on "The Knoxville Girl" and the resonator on "Banks of The Ohio" and "Mary of the Wild Moor" are particular highlights, but it's all at a very high level.

Heidinger takes the lead on the first few songs, and he's got a great voice for this material. Not an otherworldly tenor like Ralph Stanley (whose "Pretty Polly" duet with Patty Loveless may be familiar to some readers), Heidinger's mid-range vocal supplies a sense of gravity that makes this collection of songs very "earth-bound", for want of a better description. It's an approach that a whole album of material like this calls out for. Guerin takes the lead on "The Railroad Boy" and she's got a clear, ringing voice that can occupy the lower register as it does on this song, but the higher one on some of the duets. She does a wonderful job with this song and her other lead "The Drunkard's Doom", which are really beautifully sung. Heidinger's vocal highlight, in my opinion, is "Poor Edward" which, having more spare instrumentation, relies more on the singing, and to great effect.

Here's the video for "Pretty Polly":

And you can listen, and download it here:

The album is rich, full and as well-played as any folk album I've heard in years. The inspiration of America's historical folk recordings that drove Vandaveer to make this record is obvious in the theme, the truly amazing vocals and the depth of emotion that is evoked. In listening, you are left with the sense that this band will be a tremendous live presence... and they are heading out on tour to support the album next week - more info here. The record is out Tuesday (Apr. 30) and you can learn more, or order the record from their website.

Vandaveer Website

Introducing: Kill Surrrf

Glasgow may not be the first place to look for surfy guitar music, but the unsurfing lads of that fair city's Kill Surrrf deliver a satisfying dose.  Starting out as Johnny Lynn's bedroom project, Kill Surrrf now is a four-piece and playing gigs.  They are unsigned, although they may have some small releases out on Number4Door and Shoot Yr. Foot Records.  They have material on You Tube and Soundcloud for you enjoyment, and I've provided a few choice entries below.  I fully appreciate that predicting success for a pop group is an activity with a low success rate.  But Mr. Lynn appears to have a real knack with a pop song, and the band seems quite able to my ears.  I look forward to more from these guys.

Kill Surrrf is Johnny Lynn (vocals/guitar), Thomas Dornan (guitar), Steven Warnock (bass/backing vocals), and Michael Gahagan (drums).


Saturday, April 27, 2013

REVIEW: Musical Chairs - Retraced: 1992 - 1999

The blissed out, lo-fi pop sounds of Musical Chairs began as Ian Schlein's bedroom project in 1988, and didn't become a full band until 1993.  The group was reasonably prolific in the studio in the '90s, but rarely performed live.  While never making a mark in the mainstream, the band earned a deserved following among indie pop fans.  In my view, their sound reminds me of Glasgow's iconic The Pastels, and no band sailing the indie pop waters can feel anything but satisfied with that comparison.

On Retraced: 1992 - 1999, Jigsaw Records gathers together all of Musical Chairs non-album tracks.  That's 32 tracks from 7"s, numerous indie pop compilations and the "unreleased" vaults.  The tracks include languid dream pop, upbeat jangle pop and even some energetic noise pop.  I'm impressed with the quality of the songs, and at $7 for 32 digital tracks, it feels almost illegal.

Bandcamp for album
Jigsaw Records

Friday, April 26, 2013

William Tyler Tour Info - Go See a Guitar Legend in the Making

William Tyler's Impossible Truth is one of the best records I've heard this year - as I said in my review, I feel it compares well to John Fahey, Skip James and the like. He's a guitar player's guitar player - regarded as one of the very best in Nashville. After touring with Telekinesis and Mount Moriah a bit this spring, he's headed out on tour for the summer, including an appearance at Bonnaroo, where I'm certain he'll gain a bigger following. It's fitting for an album as expansive as Impossible Truth, with tracks called "Country of Illusion", "Geography of Nowhere" and "Cadillac Desert" to send Tyler on a tour that takes him to the West Coast and back in less than a month.

Love this video where he talks about the making of the album, essentially spooling out the stream-of-consciousness lyrics he didn't put on the album of instrumentals:

Tour dates:

Apr 27 Bloomington, IN — Landlocked Music Free in-store performance at 3PM
May 31 Nelsonville, OH — Nelsonville Music Festival
Jun 13 Toronto, ON — The Garrison- Panache NXNE Festival Showcase
Jun 15 Manchester, TN — Bonnaroo Festival
Jul 19 Columbus, OH — Ace of Cups
Jul 23 Boulder, CO — Fox Theater
Jul 24 Salt Lake City, UT — Kilby Court
Jul 25 Boise, ID — Visual Arts Collective
Jul 26 Seattle, WA — Capitol Hill Block Party Vera Stage
Jul 27 Portland, OR — Mississippi Studios
Jul 30 San Francisco, CA — Rickshaw Stop *
Jul 31 Monterey, CA — Golden State Theatre Lobby
Aug 2 Los Angeles, CA — The Echo *
Aug 3 San Diego, CA — Casbah *
Aug 4 Phoenix, AZ — Rhythm Room *
Aug 5 El Paso, TX — Lowbrow Palace
Aug 7 Austin, TX — Mohawk Inside
Aug 9 Oxford, MS — Lamar Lounge
* w/ Daughn Gibson

New Liverpool Dance-Rock Discovery: Vasco Da Gama - "Brigadier" from Geography EP

Vasco Da Gama, a four-piece band from Liverpool, is playing some exciting music, stuff that I think is commonly described as "math rock" - bass and guitar lines that race back and forth, quick and nearly constant changes in time signatures and urgent, shouted vocals. They've just released an EP titled Geography, and are currently touring. The band consists of John Crawford – Vocals & Guitar, Chris Lynn, Guitar, Joe Falconer – Bass and David Kelly – Drums.

Here's "Brigadier":

Here's "The Greenland Problem", which seems to have a little bit more of a Latin lilt to it, but still explodes with the guitars and shouted vocals:

The EP is out this week (Apr. 22) and they're touring the UK:

Sat 27th – LINCOLN The Shed
Sun 28th – LIVERPOOL Kazimier
Wed 1st  – LONDON The Old Blue Last
Thu 2nd  – SOUTHAMPTON Avondale House
Fri 3rd  – LIVERPOOL Sound City
Sat 4th  – LEEDS The Packhorse

RIP George Jones - Listen, and try to hold it together. Good Luck.

One of my favorite George Jones moments comes from a duets album he released in 1994. In the worst ice storm in the history of Nashville, Tennessee, an amazing cast of music characters assembled in Owen Bradley's studio in Mt. Juliet, outside Nashville, to record new versions of established George Jones songs. The album, entitled The Bradley Barn Sessions, is a true joy, a real treasure. Jones was still in very fine form and obviously happy to show some of these young country and rock artists how a great singer approaches his work.

Liner notes from the session detail how much respect each artist had for Jones, and how he exceeded their admittedly lofty expectations. Keith Richards sang along with George on "Say It's Not You", and was quoted to observe that he was happy as a "pig in shit".

The musical highlight of the album, to me, is Jones' duet with Alan Jackson on "A Good Year For The Roses". When I heard the news today of Jones' passing, I reached for some of his music, and this one was the first I put on. I made it through George's rollicking, good-time duet with the great Marty Stuart - "One Woman Man" - but when it got to "Good Year", well... try it yourself:

If you want to listen to the album, you can get the MP3's at Amazon right now.

But my favorite George Jones song is not that one... luckily, another great collection of classic Jones honky-tonk was released in February on the terrific reissue label Omnivore - The Complete United Artists Solo Singles. It starts off with my favorite Jones song, "She Thinks I Still Care". There are not many lyrics in that song - perhaps the beauty is the simplicity, which gave Jones room to fill it with his impeccable phrasing - I could listen to the way he sings the word "She" over and over, as well as the clever way he rhymes "cheer" and "idea" without actually saying "idear". Sure, he had a voice as sweet as honey, but so do a lot of people. He knew how to sing! Just wonderful:

Other singers could not say enough good things about Jones.

Johnny Cash, asked who was his favorite singer, would respond: "You mean, other than George Jones?"

James Taylor: "He didn't sound like he was influenced by any other singers. He sounds like a steel guitar. It's the way he blends notes, the way he comes up to them and leaves them..."

Waylon Jennings: "If we could all sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones."

Elvis Costello claimed him as a principle influence, and recorded a terrific country album with a pretty faithful cover of "A Good Year For The Roses".

And Frank Sinatra called him "the second best white singer in America". Modest, that Chairman...

RIP, George and thank you.

Stubborn Heart - "Better Than This"

Stubborn Heart is UK duo Luca Santucci and Ben Fitzgerald.  They fuse the worlds of electronic grooves and pop soul.  In the middle of April they released Better Than This on the One Little Indian label.  The record consists of four tracks, the album version of the title song, "Do Tomorrow", the 'soft' version of the title song, and a Graham Massey remix of the title song.  Stubborn Heart isn't the only, or even the first, group to combine a traditional genre such as soul or R&B with electronica.  But their take feels fresh and interesting, with full understanding of the importance of the groove to give the track life.  Give it a try.

One Little Indian

RIP George Jones

George Jones is considered by many as the greatest country singer of all time.  From hardcore honk-tonk to ballads there was no one better.  I have often thought that if I could sing like anyone it would be George Jones.  He died today at the age of 81.  His longevity confounded many observers of country music.  His addictions were fodder for country gossip sheets from the 50's through the 80's and made him an annual choice in dead pools.  He was polpularly referred to as "No Show" Jones,  The peak of of his celebrity gossip status occurred during his short lived marriage to Tammy Wynette,  Here's a video overview of his career starting with early honk-tonk recordings.

Jones recorded "The Race is On" in 1964.  At this time he was deep in the throes of a apmhetamine addiction.  The eyes tell no lies.  Check his eyes in the following video.

Some more songs of pain, drinking and cheating.

One of many classic George and Tammy duets.

A tribute to Conway Twitty.

A fitting epitaph for George

REVIEW: Bored Nothing - Bored Nothing

Yes, the self-titled debut from Melbourne's Bored Nothing was officially released in 2012 in Australia.  But if an album drops and WYMA doesn't cover it, has it really been released?  Silly question, I know.  In any case, Bored Nothing now is released in the US and, in my nearly almost humble opinion it is a very good album.  Full to overflowing with slacker pop hooks, fuzz, haze and a rubbery bass -- it certainly is neither nothing, nor boring.  Even while sometimes exploring the boring nature of nothingness.

Bored Nothing is Fergus Miller.  Apparently he wrote the songs on this album over a period of a few years when he was traveling about, and the rootless, somewhat aimless existence influences the themes  in the material.  While those themes may not reflect your existence, his descriptions convey sincerity and understanding.  And the sounds are delightful guitar pop, from the Byrdsian "Shit For Brains" to hints of Pavement to echoes of Elliott Smith (e.g. "Get Out of Here").  Overall, the charm in Bored Nothing isn't in invention, it is in pitch perfect representation.  I like the album, and I look forward to more from Mr. Miller.

You can stream the entire album at the Soundcloud link below, but here are three tracks I particularly like.


Friday Nuggets - "Diddy Wah Diddy" (Captain Beefheart)

Stand back kids, genius at work here this week.
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band with a Bo Diddley song that they turend into a garage rock, bluesy stomp classic, "Diddy Wah Diddy" from 1966:

The Captain Beefheart story is a long one, but Don Van Vliet (1941-2010) is certainly a singular figure in rock'n'roll. An innovative musician blessed with a great voice of amazing range, Captain Beefheart as he was known, made a dozen wildly original and influential LPs from 1965-1982 before deciding to lay low. He and Frank Zappa were kindred spirits. Captain Beefheart, didn't sell a lot of records and was far from the mainstream, but was an inspiration to Tom Waits and many others.

As a bonus this week, we'll give you one from Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band's 1969 avant garde magnum opus. "My smile is stuck, I cannot go back to your Frownland":


Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Heavy Rock Discovery: Heavy Glow - "Headhunter"

Heavy Glow is playing heavy, heavy blues-influenced guitar rock - along the lines of WYMA favorites Radio Moscow, or maybe QOTSA or Foo Fighters, a bit of a blast from the arena-rock past. It's got a seriously pounding rhythm section and at least two punishing guitar lines going at almost all times. Here's "Headhunter":

It was released as a single, with "Mine All Mine" on the b side, in March:

This is in advance of an album due out later this summer. Highly recommended if you're looking for a new source of good heavy rock.

Heavy Glow Website

(Earmuffs, kids) New Fuzz Rock Discovery - Fuck Mountain - The Mountain Strikes Back EP

From Dublin comes (hey, kids, earmuffs!) Fuck Mountain. This is super-noisy distorted guitar rock that really hits the right spot when you're looking for something loud, angry and without pretense. Featuring great drumming, fuzzed-out guitars and vocals that rise and fall in the mix, I'd say this is recommended if you're a fan of Dinosaur Jr., especially early Dinosaur Jr. Check out "Snow Day" and be sure to stick around for the guitar solo about 3:00 in:

The second cut on the EP, "No Shame", is a little bit janglier. A little bit. Still plenty of distortion and pure punk vocals, though:

As a bonus, here's a video they released last year for "Central American Man":

This music is delightful, and the band name is so inspired I can't believe nobody else has thought of it before. They have two EP's available if you click through to their Bandcamp above, and promise there is more to come. The sooner the better...

New Guitar Rock Discovery: Pete Van Dyk & The Second Hand Band - "Rise The Falling Sun"

Pete Van Dyk & The Second Hand Band, of Hamilton, Ontario, are playing hard rock, somewhat blues-influenced, somewhat punk-influenced, with some wild lead guitar and really good vocals. Van Dyk has a really good rock voice - kind of a slightly more upbeat version of Mark Lanegan - the kind of voice commonly referred to as "whiskey-soaked", I believe. It's good stuff and sounds (and looks) like they'd be a lot of fun live:

The band, formed in 2010, has been through a couple of incarnations, the constant being Pete on lead vocals and guitar. Currently, it features Pete, Ed Van Dyk on lead guitar, J.D. Norwood on bass and Scott Carruthers on drums.

Pete wants you to have this song for free, presumably as a taster of a forthcoming album.

REVIEW: The Heliocentrics - 13 Degrees Of Reality

Coming on like a cross between Kraftwerk, Hendrix's more experimental, psychedelic stuff (think "Third Stone") and straight-ahead jazz/funk, Heliocentrics are a way-out British group - the collaboration of drummer Malcolm Catto and bassist Jake Ferguson, with guitarist Ade Owusu,  percussionist Jack Yglesisas, keyboardist Ollie Parfitt, Tom Hodges, Mike Burnham, Shabaka Hutchings, Danny Keane and Raven. They have released their second album, 13 Degrees of Reality -  it will be out Tuesday (Apr. 30) but you can have a free download of album cut "Wrecking Ball" - click link to download - right now, courtesy of Now-Again Records. Check it out:

"Wrecking Ball" is a long cut and a good sampler of what Heliocentrics are up to - Eastern and African influences merge with hip-hop rhythms, jazz improvisation and prog experimentation that wouldn't be out of place in some of Zappa's or Pink Floyd's work. But above all (and certainly underneath it all) Heliocentrics are funky. Another good example of the funk intentions, and their strong execution of those intentions, "Mr. Owusu, I Presume":

Frequently the songs sort of coalesce - "Mr. Owusu" is a perfect example - the opening sounds are sort of muted, chaotic - a guitar scratch here, cymbal there, and the beginnings of a bass line... then the bass line comes up and takes over the song, but the guitar part is played right in rhythm with the bass, building a devastating groove before the guitar and drums diverge into alternating solos. But nothing ever gets far enough from the beat to disturb the groove.

This is terrific stuff - there are several interludes, with found sounds (spoken word recordings, including the famous proclamation of "a new world order"), guitar and synth noodling - but the longer pieces are all self-contained, and each one sort of lives in a world of its own. As, really, do the Heliocentrics.

Heliocentrics at Now-Again Records

REVIEW: Shoc Wave - A Bristol Story (various artists)

I love albums like this -- a collection of songs by various artists in various styles, most of which I haven't previously heard or I'd heard by forgotten about. Shoc Wave - A Bristol Story  is billed as the story of Shoc Wave Records, however, at its most basic level it is the sound of a specific place, Bristol, and a specific period, the late '70s to the '90s, and styles or artists ignored by the mainstream pop world.

Shoc Wave Records was helmed by Gene Walsh, a Dominican immigrant, and Fitz Watson and Melford Gardener.  Its sweet spot was acts that were ignored by mainstream labels and unable to finance their own releases.  Reggae and soul acts were staple genres, but the releases included roots, dancehall, soca, lovers rock, disco and pop.  Clearly, quality was more important than genre.  Bristol Reggae Archives has collected 19 representative tracks for inclusion in Shoc Wave - A Bristol Story.

The album begins with two lovers rock tunes, including  "Mr. Guy" from Sharon Bengamin" --

Punky new wave/ska gets a delightful slot from The Rimshots' "Stuck In A Boat", which is one of my favorite songs in the compilation, and "I Don't Wanna Be A Hero" (a background note is that the lead singer of The Rimshots was Mike Darby, the man behind several Bristol labels, including Bristol Archive Records -- hey Mike, more Rimshots releases, please!).  Roots reggae is represented by, among others, this fine track from Bunny Marrett --

"Get Down (Cause I Love Your Body)" from Nite Watch showcases the label's disco side, as does "Dancing Easy" by Sweet Energy.   Ska is provided via Black Flames, and lovers rock from Buggs Durrant (ahhh, those horns!) --

Felix the Cat delivers dancehall nuggets.  Sweet Energy comes back with the bass heavy R&B cover of "Family Affair" (and I think it wears better than Sly's version) and the funky, groovy "One Day".  The tropical party that is Socca comes from "Live Jam" by Joshua.  Deep funk is represented by Haswell's "Prissy Miss Maybe".  Quite fittingly, the compilation closes with head man Gene Walsh's Calypso "Independence Fever".

I suspect that even Sly would appreciate this version --

Shoc Wave - A Bristol Story is out now, and is available on CD and digital download.

Bandcamp for album
Bristol Archive Records
Facebook for Bristol Archive Records

Video for "Mess Me Around" by The Babies

As readers may recall, I was impressed with Our House On The Hill, the debut LP by Brooklyn's The Babies (review here) and even ranked it in my top 50 for the 2012 (list here).  So I'm quite happy to bring you this video for album track "Mess Me Around".  The song is good, and so is the video, which stars the band members.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New video from Shout Out Louds for "Illusion" from Optica, new tour dates

We reviewed and shared some songs from  The Shout Out Louds' new album Optica when it came out in February - WYMA review here - and one of the songs most emblematic of their sound on this album is "Illusions". They've released a video for that one, and have some tour dates to announce...

They'll be taking their live-wire dance rock on the road - here are the stops for the early part of the summer:

May 7 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
May 8 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
May 10 New York, NY Webster Hall
May 11 Boston, MA Paradise
May 13 Montreal, QC La Sala Rosa
May 14 Toronto, ONT The Opera House
May 15 Detroit, MI The Magic Bag
May 16 Chicago, IL Metro
May 17 Minneapolis, MN Varsity Theater
May 20 Vancouver, BC Commodore Ballroom
May 21 Portland, OR Aladdin Theater
May 22 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
May 23 Los Angeles, CA El Rey
May 24 Los Angeles, CA El Rey
May 25 George, WA Sasquatch Festival

You can still listen or buy the album at Merge Records.

REVIEW: Ooga Boogas - Ooga Boogas

And for the guy in the back who shouted "ooga booga to you too, Scott", I can only say 'don't be so freaking immature'.

Yes,  Ooga Boogas by Ooga Boogas was released in February, and we are in the last week of April.  I don't even have the excuse that it was released by AARGHT! Records in Australia only and I'm in the US, because Goner Records in Memphis distributes the album as well.  And I can't use the excuse that it isn't worth writing about, because it is one of my favorite albums of the year so far.  So I'm going to use the excuse that the initial run of the album sold out, and was recently restocked.  And that part actually is true.  Conveniently true? Yes, but that's good enough.

OK, so what is Ooga Boogas about?  To my ears, this album seems to have a punk/garage base, particularly the rhythm section.  But if most bands performing in that genre color with a 24 crayon box on a standard canvas, Ooga Boogas are using the full 64 crayon set, and they are using it on your entire living room wall (and the adjoining hallway).  The songs spiral out into new wave (album opener "Circle of Trust"), boogie rock ("Oogie Boogie II"), garage stompers ("Archie & Me"), garage pop ("It's A Sign"), rock anthem (the closer, "A Night to Remember), even a twangy, country-tinged ballad ("Ecstasy").  The snaking groove of "FYI" will demand repeated plays. Taut post-punk track "Mind Reader" spits out what we've all said to a partner at some point - "I can't read your fucking mind", with perhaps a bit more bitterness than I can convey in mere words.  And then there is the eight minute funky sleaze of "Sex In The Chillzone", a song that would sound dirty even without lyrics.  If you are looking for a late night party dance tune just as assignations are being arranged, you'll want to consider "Chillzone".  Of the ten tracks, the only one that didn't thrill me was "Studio of My Mind", but that may be residual resentment of the former girlfriend who once responded to my failure to understand her "needs" with the comment "no brain, no pain" (I still wonder what she meant).

If you still need some convincing, below are a few clips, as well as a Power Point the band prepared to promote the album.

The Power Point:

Ooga Boogas formed in 2006, and previously have released a debut LP (2008's Romance And Adventure) and a couple of 7" records, and they toured the US once.  However, the relatively slight production doesn't appear attributable to sloth.  In addition to founding AARGHT! Records, the members have other musical projects (and, one presumes, lives).  Frontman Leon Stackpole has been playing in several other bands.  Guitarist Mikey Young is in Eddy Current Supression Ring and Total Control, as well as producing for Boomgates and Dick Diver, among others.  Bassist Richard Stanley also is the bassist for The Onyas.  And of course, running a label means devoting time to putting out other bands records.  And we note that the excellent art work for the album cover was provided by Barbra Lindstrom, the aunt of drummer Per Bystrom.

Aarght Records
Aarght Records on Facebook
Goner Records page for album


Another great curated sampler by the Allah-Lahs.  I never know what tangential search the playlist may send me off on.  The theme continues to be 60's and 70's treats combined with a few musical commentaries on 60's mind expansion by the Fugs, Tandyn Almer, and LSD-march.  As the Fugs sum it up in another classic song "It Crawled into My Hand, Honest."  Tandyn Almer wrote "Along Comes Mary" for The Association, and "Sail on,Sailor" for The Beach Boys.   In addition to his song writing talents, Almer invented a water pipe called the Slave-Master described in A Child's Garden of Grass as the "perfect bong."  

Chris Darrow's  first band Kaleidoscope included David Lyndley.  He later joined The Nitty Gritty Dirty Band as Jackson Browne's replacement.  In addition, Darrow was the leader of Linda Ronstadt's backup band.  His musical credits span the last 5 decades.

Take the dive.  Sit back and let this week's music crawl into your head.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Guitar Pop/Punk Discovery: Tullycraft - Lost In Light Rotation

Given that Tullycraft has existed in one form or another for nearly 20 years, you're welcome to scoff at my declaration of "discovery" - but I'm not lying. I was not familiar with Tullycraft and their punk-inflected, upbeat, poppy music and their tight vocal harmonies prior to receiving Lost In Light Rotation for consideration. It's been six years since their last release, and it appears the lineup has changed a bit, but I can say this lineup has got impeccable pop sensibilities, a strong sense of its unique musical style and chops to spare.

Example, here's the video for "Dig Up The Graves":

They set a brisk pace, and then seem to turn up the velocity even further on songs like "Wake Up, Wake Up" - the drums push the pace, and the guitars play fast and loose with the tension/release thing.

Here's the title track - kind of Apples in Stereo pop/punk pacing meets They Might Be Giants playfulness, again, with terrific musicianship:

The band's line-up includes Sean Tollefson, Jenny Mears, Chris Munford, Jeff Fell and Cori Hale. Tollefson's and Mears' vocals are terrific, whether they're trading leads or harmonizing, and there is some truly jaw-dropping guitar work throughout the record. My favorite song is probably album closer "Anacortes" - love the drumming on this one, and the chanting vaguely reminiscent of The Bay City Rollers' "Saturday Night" (there's that playfulness again) over the outro...

It's out on Magic Marker Records, or Fortuna Pop, today (April 23).

REVIEW: Will Courtney - A Century Behind

Resident of New Mexico by way of Austin by way of California by way of Nashville, Will Courtney, of Austin band Brothers And Sisters, has released what has turned into my favorite country record of 2013. A Century Behind is the kind of album you will find yourself coming back to, and enjoying a little bit more each time. Courtney's voice is reminiscent of Neil Young or Doug Martsch, the music more along the lines of A.M.-era Wilco or Varnaline, with some gorgeous acoustic strumming, pedal steel and keyboards echoing throughout the seven songs.

Here's the title track - I hear echoes of "Wild Horses" in the intro of this one, and really enjoy the way he sings the chorus, sort of behind the beat and letting everything take its time and sink in:

He's a terrific singer - hard to believe that most of these songs were recorded live, and some in single takes. It doesn't feel fussed-over, but it's damn near perfect. The band on this record is Will Courtney on acoustic, electric and baritone guitars, piano and keyboards, Zander Schloss on 12-string guitar, electric guitar and bouzouki, Raymond Richards on upright bass, electric bass, electric guitar, dobro, pedal steel and vibrophone, Franck Fiser on drums, Tim Butterworth on accordion and Kaitlin Wolfberg on violin.

Here is "There's No Answer" - a beautiful song that is, for now, my favorite on the album. There's just the right amount of reverb on the vocals, and the way it slowly builds, through a sweetly sung chorus, with the keyboards quietly rising, until the drums and baritone guitar kick in about a minute in:

And you can download "There's No Answer" - click here.

On the acoustic side, showcasing his voice and quiet strumming, here's a cover of "I'd Have To Be Crazy" by Texas troubador Steven Fromholz:

If you're familiar with the tradition of Texas singer/songwriters, and the legends of California country rockers like the Burrito Brothers, you will have a sense of Courtney's style. And you ought not miss this record.

Will Courtney Facebook

Will Courtney on Reverb Nation

New video from The Stevens

We profiled Melbourne's The Stevens a couple of months ago (link).  They are an exciting young band and we're looking forward to their LP release on Chapter Music later this year.  An EP that they recorded earlier is available on vinyl from Chapter Music and digitally from Bandcamp.  And they recently released this video for track three on the EP, "Teenage Satellites" --

Chapter Music

Black Roots - Black Roots

Released by Bristol Archive Records as a 2013 Record Store Day special, this is a limited edition re-issue of the critically acclaimed 1983 debut LP from Bristol's Black Roots.  Featuring eight impeccable roots tracks, Black Roots is likely to be snapped up by reggae lovers.  Here is standout track "Juvenile Delinquent" -- 

Black Roots is a vinyl-only release, and is limited to 500 copies.  One hundred copies will be individually numbered and have a special hand-printed sleeve.

Black Roots is active again and in fine form again, and has released a compilation, the On the Ground LP and a dub album in the past couple of years.  But this may be the last chance to get their original gem.

Bristol Archive Records
Black Roots on Facebook

New song from Surfer Blood

A few weeks ago we featured a song from Pythons, the upcoming LP from Surfer Blood.  Today, we bring you a second album track, "Slow Six".  All indications are that the new album will rock.


RIP: Richie Havens (1941-2013)

Richie Havens died Monday of a heart attack at the age of 72. He was a man of immense talent and spirit. He was one of the first musicians to truly move me when I first became a serious listener to popular music 40+ years ago in high school.  That voice conveyed so much emotion and real life as did every guitar note. Mr. Havens' simultaneously ferocious and beautiful acoustic guitar playing proved that neither "folk music" nor acoustic guitar left behind anything in terms of ability to stir the soul and send chills down your spine.

Havens first rose to major stardom in 1969 with his 3 hour set that opened the Woodstock concert, elongated because so many artists were stuck in traffic and couldn't get there. Even sharing the stage with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and The Who both in their absolute prime, no one at Woodstock played with more power than the bearded man from Brooklyn (later settling in Greenwich Village) backed by just an acoustic guitar.  He wrote and performed this now classic impromptu near the end of his Woodstock set as he ran out of material to play: 

To call him righteous, soulful and a great man would be true but wouldn't begin to sum up this artist. When there was a concert that stood for something important, chances are that Richie Havens was on the bill, as when 100,000 gathered for the Tibetan Freedom Concert of 1996.

Musically, Havens was a master interpreter, able to take a great composition and give it new weight and power under his open tuning guitar style and incredible voice. He had an especially good way with Beatles songs, "Here Comes the Sun" perhaps being his best known Beatles cover, done here live in 1971:

And his recent rendition  of "Tombstone Blues" from the film I'm Not There is one of my favorite Bob Dylan covers:

WYMA favorite Joe Henry produced Haven's "Tombstone Blues" and had this to say today on his Facebook page about the passing of his friend:

I am heartsick to have just learned of the passing of the great richie havens. he was and remains an enormous influence, as he has been for countless others. 

his gift was immense, and completely singular. his voice had the reach and authority of an ancient and towering cypress tree, and he offered it with unfailing generosity. his right hand at the guitar had the rhythmic force of a brazilian carnival drum corps, and was both powerful and viscerally intimate.

i had the honor of producing a track on richie for todd haynes' film on bob dylan, "i'm not there." richie blew through bob's "tombstone blues" with such joy and lyrical ferocity that todd felt inclined to create a role for richie in the film, and did.

on that day at sear sound in new york, richie was kind, buoyant, open, excited, and wildly focused; and i was so smitten to be in his company and at his service that i never fully ceased my nagging efforts to lure him back in for a full album. 

"i mean, do you know how easy it would be to make a great richie havens record?" i remember blurting out to him, almost as if i was speaking to another of his admirers. he simply threw his head back and laughed; nodded. 

yes, he knew.

it is a dream for me that will now must remain unfulfilled; but my gratitude for his life and work is complete. and i will linger with it.

godspeed, richie havens. you did your work here beautifully, and with love for all. 

Joe Henry, being far more articulate than me, leaves me little more to add, except to close with one of my favorite Richie Havens songs, "Follow" recorded in 1967:

Monday, April 22, 2013

REVIEW: Tropical Popsicle - Dawn of Delight

Tropical Popsicle's Dawn of Delight is one of the best "out of nowhere" records I've encountered in years. Released on the French label Talitres, this album features great psychedelic sounds from San Diego resident Tim Hines, veteran of the Stereotypes and Lights On. Hines has fleshed out the band with the addition of Kyle Whatley (guitar, organ, backing vox), Chase Elliott (bass and synths), and Ryan Hand (drums and rattles). In places reminiscent of old Pink Floyd, in other places reminiscent of The Jesus & Mary Chain, and with plenty of guitar jangle thrown in from place to place, it's hard to precisely categorize but easy to listen to.

The opening track is "Always Awake In Shadows" and it's drenched in reverb, tambourines and heavy keyboards:

If full-on guitar jangle is your thing, "Age of Attraction" is as good as it gets, and the transition from the insistent beat of the verses to the soaring vocals of the chorus is just absolutely wonderful:

Here's "Ghost Beacons"  - a tremendous accomplishment, as it combines the strands of post-punk, new wave, garage rock and hazy psychedelic sounds:

This record is a true delight - as light and airy in places as the sunniest bit of psychedelic pop ever made, and as heavy in places as, say, the Ramones or Jesus & Mary Chain.

Here's "The View From The Dihedral Wall" - combine the heavy psychedelic sounds with these lyrics, and see what happens:

The view is oh so clear 
From the Dihedral Wall 
We've lost communication 
and all depth perception 

4000 years 
Twin burning Suns 
The King of Ages 
The Bloodlines run… 

Take your ropes and Lanterns 
Into the idle Mansions 
where can we go from here? 
The mystery getting clear 

Out last week (April 15) and available via the Bandcamp links in the tracks above, or physical copies available at Talitres now.