Sunday, June 30, 2013

REVIEW: Future Primitives - Songs We Taught Ourselves

The Future Primitives are a garage rock/proto-punk trio from Cape Town, South Africa. The band consists of Johnny Tex on guitar and vocals, Heino Retief on bass and backing vocals, and Warren Fisher on drums. I received this record from Casbah Records, who've sent us some good garage rock/rockabilly like Owen Temple Quartet and Mesa Cosa, so I was inclined to pay attention. It looked like an album of covers, so my expectations were a bit modest. And I am blown away by this record and this band. They're playing in a bit of the same territory as some other WYMA favorites like The Allah-La's and Ty Segall. Their approach is a bit more, uh, primitive, but at the same time they sacrifice nothing in the way of musicianship - the bass really drives things along here, while the drums and guitars are free to go on all sorts of wild flights. 

Songs We Taught Ourselves is their second album, and not only is it well-played and well-recorded (even given the self-imposed limitations, the sound is very true), it's a bit of a Nuggets/garage rock education, which is nectar to us at WYMA. Given our year-long dedication to revisit a 60's garage rock classic every single Friday, it's as though the Future Primitives picked 13 of their favorites just for us. And of course, education that's fun gets us involved. The album is a bit of a trip through garage, punk and primitive psychedelic rock history, featuring songs by Captain Beefheart, The Mummies, Link Wray (yes, "Rumble"), The Haunted, The Milkshakes and others you may or may not know. But it's for sure you will want to know them all by the time you've finished with this record.

Here's "She's Mine" - originally released by The Children of Darkness on Royce Records in 1966:

And here's "Everybody Up", a surf gem from Fender IV:

Fender IV were a band from Baltimore who moved to California in 1965 because... well, just listen to this stuff. Where would you go?

And perhaps my favorite track on the record - a cover of "We Sell Soul" by The Spades. The Spades were Roky Erickson's first band:

Why is a band from South Africa playing this stuff? Because they can, and once you've listened all the way through, I think you will agree that they should. I could listen to this record for a long, long time and not get tired of it. To play stuff this simple, this primitive, and still make it interesting is not an easy thing. 

Songs We Taught Ourselves is available from Casbah Records on Bandcamp - follow the links at any of the tracks and make yourself happy, and supply yourself with an absolutely slamming soundtrack for your next beach or backyard party.

Future Primitives website

Saturday, June 29, 2013

New UK Prog/Psych Discovery: Kitten Pyramid - "Uh Oh" from forthcoming debut album

Kitten Pyramid is a prog/psych outfit from the UK - they've recorded a debut album and are sharing an advance track, "Uh Oh". This is pretty exciting - great guitars, strong vocals and serious prog rock moves with psychedelic touches. For now, this is the only track to stream:

They've got everything in there - horns, piano, screaming lead guitar with feedback - and it all comes together. They are working with respected UK producer Nick Brine (Beta Band, Oasis, Stone Roses, Coldplay to name a few) and he's done a good job capturing their sound and pushing the limits, I think. As further background, here's a 2012 video for their song "Crazy Diamonds" - slower-building but still a nice combination of prog and psych:

If you've read our blog for a while, you know how much we revere artists able to incorporate several of the four P's (prog, psych, punk and pop) in the same song. That translates to pretty high hopes for Kitten Pyramid.

Kitten Pyramid website
Kitten Pyramid Facebook

The Soul Corner - Darlene Love "Lean On Me"

There is this terrific article in the current New Yorker Magazine about the singer Darlene Love. Love is one of the subjects of a new documentary getting excellent reviews "20 Feet From Stardom" about great backup singers.  We will see this film at our first opportunity and you should too.

Meanwhile, check out this recent performance by Darlene Love of "Lean On Me" on David Letterman. Wow.

I cannot get my head around the fact that Phil Spector had Love sing the vocal on the classic 1963 hit "He's A Rebel" but then credited the song to the Crystals.  

Darlene Love is perhaps best known for one of the great Christmas pop songs of all time, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)". But here's my favorite, also from 1963 "(Today I Met) The Boy I Want To Marry":

And her she is with one of her bigest fans, Bruce Springsteen:

It's Darlene Love appreciation day here at the Soul Corner and WYMA.

Friday, June 28, 2013

May 2013 - When You Motor Away Spotify Playlists

The music keeps on coming.   The playlist for May 2013 is a 643 song sonic sampler for the month.  Hit play and put it on shuffle.  The second Spotify playlist is for the first 5 months of 2013.  Our ears have collectively listened to 2,800 tracks.  A summer playlist by anyone's standards.Enjoy the fruits of our passion.

May 2013 - When You Motor Away

 2013 - When You Motor Away

Reverberation # 68

Reverberation Radio is a weekly gift which keeps on giving.  This week is a trip into a dreamworld spanning decades and continents.  Click on the artist's name and find out more from other web sites.

1. Tashaki Miyaki - Somethin Is Better Than Nothin (alt. version)
2. PEAKING LIGHTS - Beautiful Son

3. Paul Messis - The Problem With Me

4. Floating Action - So Vapor
5. The Blank Tapes - Brazilia
6. Eden Ahbez - Full Moon
7. Panbers - Haai
8. Sir Victor Owaifo - Happy Day From Me To You
9. Longmont Potion Castle - Turtle Pleasure
10. Smash - We Come To Smash This Time
11. Pink Floyd - Country Rain

New Folk/Roots Discovery: Betse Ellis - High Moon Order

Kansas City fiddler Betse Ellis has released her second album, High Moon Order. She founded and played for the last several years with alt-country band The Wilders, but on this album she's pulled together a group of musicians in service of her own sound. It's a striking sound - unvarnished vocals, absolutely fiery fiddling and a variation in tempos from quietly beautiful to ferocious, especially on the upbeat punk number "The Complainer".

There are also nods to influences both subtle and overt, an example of the latter being the inspired cover of the Clash's "Straight to Hell":

Here's a live radio performance of the solo instrumental "Queen of the Earth and Child of the Skies" - just beautiful:

The original songs are strong, and the musicianship is never less than stellar. This is a diverse, well-played, really terrific album - highly recommended if you like cowpunk outfits like The Old 97's and Whiskeytown, or other female country/folk artists we've featured here, like Tift Merritt and Bonnie Whitmore. High Moon Order is out now on Free Dirt Records via Trade Root Music.

New song, "Here She Comes", from Ghost Wave, album in August

The primary purpose of this post is to feature "Here She Comes", a smashing song from Ghost Wave. The track features assured, exuberant guitars, and a great bass line high in the mix.  There is a bluesy rock and roll vibe that suggests a good dose of justified swagger.  As I wrote to several of my co-contributors, it sounds so dirty in a very good way. But the subtext here is that Ghost Wave will be releasing their debut LP, Ages, in the US via Flying Nun in late August; it is out today in the band's New Zealand home.  Based on the taste we get from "Here She Comes", we are very much looking forward to the album.


Friday Nuggets - "I'm Gonna Make You Mine", The Shadows of Knight

Big week for our friends in Chicago with their exciting Stanley Cup victory.
So who better to be this week's Friday Nuggets entry than the Shadows of Knight who ruled the garage rock roost in the Windy City in the mid to late '60's.

Here's my favorite:

They were best known for their cover of "Gloria".

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New video from Fortress Social Club - "Business By Day, Business By Night"

We reviewed Fortress Social Club's debut album recently (WYMA review here) and loved their chops and impeccable pop sensibilities. Nowhere are these qualities more evident than on the lead track "Business By Day, Business By Night" - I heard in their music echoes of The Beatles and the Kinks, interpreted through a post-punk, surf-rock filter. And they are happy to carry the L.A. theme to its logical conclusion with a video featuring a bowling matador version of The Dude. Check it out:

Business by Day Business by Night from Fortress Social Club on Vimeo.

The album is out now and you can check it out and learn more at their website.

Fortress Social Club website

Fortress Social Club Facebook

REVIEW: Neighbors - I Love Neighbors

Seattle's Neighbors crank out crunchy and jangly power pop and garage rock with just the right dose of melody and pop sense to hold it all together.  Moreover, they have a certain appealing confidence.  The listener gets the sense that the knows that they can write and perform, and they certainly know that they can bring the noise.  However, to seal the deal, they are providing a digital download of their new EP, I Love Neighbors, at the attractive introductory price of "name your price".  I think that is very neighborly of them.

The EP consists of five tracks, and the quality is so uniform that I had trouble deciding which track to include in this post.  "Accessory" won the prize, but I encourage you to check out the entire EP at the Bandcamp link.  This brand of melodic up-tempo garage is too rare these days, especially when done this well.

For the EP, Neighbors consisted of Jose Diaz (vocals, guitar, production), Nathan Anderson (drums), Jacob Jaffe (bass), and Adriano Santi.  There were rumors that Adriano was decamping for California, so he may or may not still be a participant.


REVIEW: Holy Folk - Motioning

Los Angeles quartet Holy Folk is a collaboration between songwriters Keith Waggoner, Josh Caldwell, Ryan George and Jonathan Hylander. The band began in 2009 with Caldwell and Waggoner, who at the time, played together in the band, Les Blanks. George and Hylander joined the effort in 2012 and began contributing material to what would become Motioning. Somewhat similar to fellow LA residents The Fortress Social Club that we reviewed recently, Holy Folk grew from a studio collaboration into a rock band with a lot of variety in style and tempo, a ton of talent and a way with pop hooks. There's something about studio musicians getting together to put their own ideas on record - they bring not only a familiarity with different styles, but a real sense of purpose that shows through in the music. All four of them write, and that contributes to the variety of sounds and styles on Motioning.

The opening track "A Moment Here" is reminiscent of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band or The Band, with pedal steel, banjo, violin and slow and easy harmony vocals in a song about reaping and sowing.

"Time Lapse" has a more pop style, with more synths than the opener, and soulful vocal harmonies that would not be out of place on something by Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren.  Track 3, "All's Forgotten" is an uptempo country rock tune with emphasis on electric guitar, piano and a pretty much straight-ahead rock vocal. And the record carries on in similar fashion, swinging back and forth from up- to down-tempo, some songs featuring swells of strings and others more straight-ahead rock instrumentation. The common factor, other than the overall high quality of the songwriting, is that most of the songs feature some terrific vocal harmonies. It's clear that these four enjoy working together, and that makes for a very enjoyable debut record.

You can get a free download of “Jump The Rails”, which gives a good example of the uptempo stuff - with some real rock energy, good piano work and those great harmonies. And here they are performing it live on AXS Live:

Holy Folk is absolutely a band to watch. It's not often a debut album arrives with this kind of variety, quality and assuredness. Motioning is available now - you can listen to it, and learn more, at their website.

Introducing: Astro Children

And now we bring you Astro Children.  No, Astro Children isn't a new morning cartoon or underground comic book.  It is a band from Dunedin, New Zealand, who appears to believe that music should be fresh, fun, relatively unrestrained, and young at heart.  (In addition, of course, to making them, us and everyone else involved with the indie music industry fabulously wealthy.)  And one doesn't need to read the band's mission statement and core principles to discern their intent -- just watch the video for "The One We Start With", the opening track from their self-released EP Lick My Spaceship.

Lick My Spaceship is the kind of record that can make you look foolish trying to describe it, but I have a job to do, and I'm going to do it (my insurance is fully paid-up).  To my ears the songs have a punk/garage core with predominant shoegaze and psychedelic delivery.  I particularly like how the noisier numbers have some rough edges and a touch of chaos; I suspect these kids are great fun in a live show.  However, "Interlude is a charming, all-too-brief, bit of sonic noodling.  And the acoustic "Humiliation (Encore Song)" is a highlight track, so as a public service, we have embedded a stream of it below.

The band's sense of humor is evident in the sing titles.  The opening track is "The One We Start With".  "Interlude" is an interlude.  "Humiliation (Encore Song)" is the song to be played when the crowd brings you back for an encore.  Track six, "The Really Loud One", really is.  The closing track is "Shoegaze", and you can imagine it played by the band standing in one place and staring at their shoes.

Astro Children are Millie Lovelock (also of Dunedin band Trick Mammoth) and Isaac Hickey.  Lick My Spaceship is available at the Bandcamp link below in limited edition physical form or for $7 (US) as a digital download only.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Richard Buckner track - "When You Tell Me How It Is" from Surrounded, due out Sept. 3

Richard Buckner's been working on a followup to Our Blood, entitled Surrounded, and it will be out in September. He's released one track, "When You Tell Me How It Is" - it features some new sounds, for Buckner, but of course the main attraction is his impassioned vocal style:

Apparently the recording process included Buckner adopting some new, unfamiliar equipment -- a Suzuki QChord electronic autoharp and an Electro-Harmonix POG2 pedal -- to create the basic tracks. In his words: “The best outcomes happen sometimes when I’m unfamiliar with the tool that I’m using (imagine MacGyver wearing a dog cone).”

Looking forward to hearing this one.

New video for "Just One" by Free Time

We wrote about the self-titled debut from Free Time recently.  The New York area band has published a video for album track "Just On".  Rather than hire a professional camera crew, they outfitted themselves with Go Pro cameras and filmed a bit of their day.  Enjoy!


REVIEW: Palms - Palms

If you seek something utterly engaging, new and different yet anchored to something familiar, you are directed to seek out the self-titled debut of Palms, an L.A.-based quartet consisting of Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno and former Isis members Bryant Clifford Meyer (guitars, keyboards), Jeff Caxide (bass, keyboards), and Aaron Harris (drums, electronics). It's got a big, almost overwhelming sound and doesn't fit neatly in any of your usual genres. The rhythm section is booming, and blends with the synths to supply almost all the sound sometimes, and at all times it supplies a strong underpinning to the music. At different times Meyer's beautiful, almost crystalline guitar tones are out front, or they share the spotlight with Moreno's majestic vocals.

In a way, I'm reminded of an old favorite, Bad Brains - the pace is obviously different, as Palms' songs are much more slowly paced and certainly more atmospheric. But to me, there are similarities: the fullness of their sound, the sound of some of Meyer's guitar tones and certainly the way Moreno's vocals are treated, do remind me of Dr. Know and H.R. And Bad Brains was another genre-busting act with a history of playing different kinds of music that sounded exactly like nobody but themselves.

Here's the "single" - the slow-building, blasted, beautiful "Patagonia":

The album consists of six songs, the shortest of which is the 5:44 "Tropics" and the longest the 10:00 "Mission Sunset". The first song, "Future Warrior", is all L.A. - in fact, the beginning of it is a bit reminiscent of the Wang Chung soundtrack to "To Live And Die in LA". And running short of adjectives to describe this record, I'd add in "expansive" and "cinematic" - maybe that is a function of them being residents of Tinsel Town, but whatever it is, this is certainly an album you can get lost in. It's out now (June 25) on Ipecac Records.

Tour dates:

July 10           San Diego, CA         Belly Up Tavern
July 11           Santa Ana CA           The Observatory
July 12           Los Angeles, CA      The Troubadour   SOLD OUT
July 13           San Francisco, CA    Slim’s
July 29           Los Angeles, CA       Hollywood Bowl (w/System of a Down)

New songs from Snakadaktal, album in August

Melbourne dream pop band Snakadaktal will be releasing their new album, Sleep in the Water, on August 2 via Australian label Liberation.  Two of the tracks, "Ghost" and "Hung On Tight" now have been released.  You can stream both of them below, and we also have included the video for "Ghost".  We first wrote about Snakadaktal in January to highlight their excellent four-track Dance Bear single for London's Young and Lost Club (link here).

"Ghost" is a mellow, dreamy trip with female vocals teasing over a slow but playful arrangement.  "Hung on Tight" has a faster tempo and a more urgent atmosphere.  I anticipate that Sleep in the Water will be very good.

"Hung On Tight" was the first release from the upcoming album --

The band will be touring in July and August in support of the album, but our Europe and US readers would have to travel, as all dates are in Australia.

Liberation Records

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NEW SONG: Eyes And No Eyes - "If No One Else Saw It" b/w "Flying Machine"

Eyes and No Eyes is a London-based folk rock band with an engaging sound - on these songs they feature an almost delicate sound, mostly acoustic at start but building with drums, guitars and strings to a bit of a crescendo, before being consumed by, in their words "an Italian tape echo unit named Melos". They apparently met at art school in Brighton, so yeah, they're creative. And talented.

Here's "If No One Else Saw It":

And here's "Flying Machine", which starts quietly, this time with electronics behind the vocal, to which they add strings and rock sounds about 1:30 in.

They've got a full album out soon, but these two tracks are available now, for "name your price" - you can click through either of the Bandcamp tracks above to get it, or order a special edition vinyl.

The group consists of Tristram Bawtree on vocals and guitar, Becca Mears on cello, Thomas Heather on drums and Marcus Hamblett on bass. They are also working on an electronic side project EP exploring the extinction of birds, fish, languages and technology. The EP is more in the conceptual tradition of Matmos and Kraftwerk, using keyboards, drum machines, found sounds and samples.

New Chicago Indie Rock Discovery: Hospital Garden - Mover

Hospital Garden is a Chicago hard rock band. They have an aggressive approach, a heavy rhythm section, and wailing guitars with feedback, and two good rock vocalists - one male, one female. The group consists of Lucas Hollow on guitar and vocals, Sarah Carey on bass and vocals and Erik Rasmussen on drums. 

Here's a video for album track "What To Do" - Hollow and Carey do a nice job harmonizing on the vocals and this one's at a little bit more measured pace than some of the other tracks (but with plenty of guitar noise):

Here's another vocal by Hollow, "Half of It":

Here's "Null", with Carey on lead vocals:

In their music there are echoes of a lot of good indie rock bands (Sebadoh, Eleventh Dream Day, Pixies, to name a few that I hear). Mover was released a few weeks ago (May 21) on Forge Again Records.

REVIEW: Haiku Salut - Tricolore

Haiku Salut constructs instrumental indie pop from classical, folk, electronic and experimental elements.  And I urge you not to reject sampling the charms of their LP, Tricolore, even if some of those elements are not found among your usual musical fare.  This is music played with intelligence, passion, craft and wit.  The players are capable of noodling on small scale, and blasting with wide-screen cinematic grandeur.  Without the need for lyrics they can convey love, confusion and sadness.  Well, they do have an assist with song titles such as "Sounds Like There's A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart" (ouch, I've been there).  Instrumentation includes pianos, glockenspiels, accordions, ukuleles, and electronics.  One of the revelations is how well the electronic contributions mesh with and complement the more traditional instruments, while adding an element of playfulness.

Tricolore is a promising debut from an inventive band, and I expect we will hear more good things from them in the future.

The group consists of Gemma Barkerwood, Sophie Barkerwood and Louise Croft, and are based in Derbyshire.  They also had the assistance of other musicians in making Tricolore.  The album is released by the How Does It Feel To Be Loved label, and is available in vinyl, CD and digital formats from the Bandcamp link below.

And by the way, the band is too kind to leave us adrift as to the pronunciation of their name, so their have guided us on their website.  Repeat after me: High-coo Sa-loo.

How Does It Feel To Be Loved

REVIEW Charlie Whitehead - Raw Spitt remastered

 Alive Natural Sound Records continues to reissue music I thought had been lost forever.  Today's release is the Swamp Dogg (reviewed by WYMA  here, there and everywhere) produced Raw Spitt by Charlie Whitehead.  Swamp Dogg's acerbic wit and naked irreverence made it difficult for any of his productions to gain airplay on black radio stations, let alone on the mainstream airways.

"Offbeat" called Charlie Whitehead (aka Raw Spitt) "The greatest unknown soul artist of all time."  The term "greatest" is overused in music and generally is a warning that a major hype is about to take place.  Most of the time the artist is neither great nor unknown.  Too often the reason the artist is unknown is because they are, at best, competent, not great.  Charlie Whitehead is both great and unknown.  His time in the spotlight was so ephemeral that he cannot be considered as merely "forgotten." I remember a drive from the North to Florida where I was treated to an AM rendition of two songs:  "I Dig Black Girls" and "Call me Ni***r." Both featured a great tenor voice, classic Southern Soul horn arrangement, gospel backup, and a loopy keyboard backup which sounded like Booker T on acid.  It was played on WDIA - the classic soul station in Memphis.

WDIA's 50.000 watts of clear channel was my early morning go to for the latest in Southern and Country Soul.  I would get to hear the latest from Stax first on WDIA.  I never could find out who recorded these songs.  I would walk into record stores and be greeted with incredulity when I described the subject matter or my "remembered" titles of the songs.

I had forgotten about these songs until I was treated to an advance copy of Raw Spitt.  I was immediately taken back over 40 years in the Soul Time Machine.  Classic southern soul with tinged by the Dogg's sociopathic distrust of mainstream society.  It stands the test of time.  The original recording has been remastered and expanded to include 5 new songs.
1. Put A LIttle Love In Your Heart
2. Raw Spitt
3. Call Me Nig*er
4. The Freedom Under Certain Konditions Marching Band
5. Rider
6. Who Do They Think They Are
7. I Dig Black Girls
8. This Old Town
9. Sweet Bird Of Success
10. Excuses
11. Between The Lines (bonus track exclusive to CD)
12. Predicament 2 (bonus track exclusive to CD)
13. That Ain't My Wife (bonus track exclusive to CD)
14. Synthetic World (bonus track exclusive to CD)
15. Hey Jude (bonus track exclusive to CD)

Here is one of the songs I heard while screaming through the hills of Kentucky in the Spring of 1971.

Here's another with Charlie and the Swamp Dogg Band featuring the Swamp Dogg Horns.

So fre your mind, lace up your dancing shoes, get your freak on and order Raw Spitt today

                                         ORDER HERE

RIP: Bobby "Blue" Bland; January 27 1930 - June 23 2013

Robert Calvin Bland, better known as Bobby "Blue" Bland, died Sunday at the age of 83. The loss of Bland and George Jones in such a short span leaves a gaping hole where the great singers used to be.

Bobby Blue Bland was one of the all-time best R&B vocalists, with a voice that could move on a dime from silky smooth to powerful, and convey an entire emotional life of hard knocks in a single line. Frequently compared to Frank Sinatra, Bland was a singer's singer, with impeccable tone and timing. Van Morrison frequently cites Bobby Blue Bland as one of his favorite singers and biggest influences.

Bland had a string of hits in the '50's and '60's, but my favorite is "I Pity the Fool" from 1961:

 Bland was born in Tennessee but moved to Memphis with his family at an early age and got his start there. He paid some serious dues on his way up, serving as a driver and aide to Junior Parker and BB King. BB King though remained very loyal to his protege and the two frequently performed together when King made it big.

Perhaps Bland's best known song is the frequently covered "Turn On Your Love Light", also featured in the Blues Brothers movie. Here is Bland's original version from 1961:

And one more, "That's The Way Love Is" (1963):

REVIEW: Kevin Harper - Kingdom of Wires

You probably haven't heard much about Kingdom of Wires by Kevin Harper, and that doesn't reflect well on the music press (including me, given that the album was released on March 18).  Ranging from indie rock to crunchy power pop to southern rock to country-inflected guitar pop, this album could be one of the best "American" rock albums of the year, even though it is from Glasgow.  I listened to it a few times when I got it, and liked it a lot.  I listened to it this week and revised my initial opinion upward several levels.  Quite simply, Mr. Harper is an excellent songwriter, and a very good performer.  I was fan of his prior work as the frontman for Scottish band Little Eskimos, but the growth from that project to this one is extraordinary.  You can test it for yourself with tracks one and two, below.

One of the many enjoyable attributes of the album is that Harper maintains a fast tempo for most of the tracks, allowing the listener the illusion of a live performance.  And it is quite clear that he loves the sound of electric guitars, which puts him in our camp from the beginning.  But the results are no less enjoyable when he dials back to mid-tempo, as with track six, "I Was A Sailor", "Oxygen" or "Majorette".

The guitars ring and soar, the vocals tell sincere tales, the rhythm section drives it all along.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is American rock and Glasgow.  It has my high recommendation.

The album is out now, and can be sourced at the Bandcamp link below.