Saturday, August 31, 2013

NEW SONG: Los Campesinos! - "What Death Leaves Behind" from No Blues, due Oct. 29

Welsh rockers Los Campesinos! are feeling generous - they're giving away the rocking song below, an advance track from their upcoming album No Blues. It's got just about everything you want in a rock song - a tough, steady rhythm section, heavy guitars, swirling keyboard sounds and strong, heartfelt vocals that are fairly spat out. It's kind of straight-ahead guitar rock, and definitely recommended if you like the heavier rock stuff of Elliott Smith, Jason Molina or Damien Jurado. Check it out and download below:

Los Campesinos! consists of Kim, Gareth, Tom, Jason, Rob and Neil. The album will be out Oct. 29 on Wichita Recordings. Read more, follow and pre-order at the links below:

Los Campesinos! website
Wichita Recordings

NEW SONG: The Royal Oui - "When You Lose Your Mind" (from Forecast EP, out in Oct.)

The Royal Oui is a Vancouver-based duo playing a style of folk that features acoustic guitar with reverb, minimal percussion and some spectacular vocal harmonies. Ari Shine and Adrienne Pierce have recorded individually for some time, and together as the Royal Oui since a little while after they married in 2008. This is really beautiful stuff - her high, light vocal and his understated style mesh well together, and based on this song, they create a highly evocative sound behind the vocals. Here's "When You Lose Your Mind":

And here's a little video teaser for the EP:

Listen, learn more, check out tour dates at their website or the label, File Under: Music.

The Royal Oui website
File Under: Music

"Dixie Motel Two-Step" 7" by Clearance

Clearance! Clearance! Clearance!  Well, good people of the Interwebs, clearance prices just don't come any better than free.   To be more precise, prices for Clearance EPs don't come any better than free.  And right now, the fine lo-fi guitar pop of Dixie Motel Two-Step can be downloaded from the Bandcamp link for that very, very attractive price.  If you would like a vinyl artifact with accompanying digital download, you can accomplish that transaction via Bandcamp as well.

Clearance are Mike Bellis (guitar and vocals) and Arthur Velez.  They originally started playing around Ann Arbor, then wisely moved to the City of Big Shoulders.  Their engaging sound reminds me of Kiwi greats The Clean and The Bats, as well as some of the wonderful pop coming out of Melbourne lately (Boomgates, Dick Diver, Lower Plenty).  I assure you, the market has undervalued Clearance, and you are the beneficiary.  Four winning songs, one low price.  What do I have to do, press the button for you?


REVIEW: Poor Lily -- Vuxola

I've been on a long hiatus from this locale -- in fact, much longer than I'd intended. There's some stuff I've been listening to that I really want to write about, and a few weeks ago I was working through them in my brain, trying to think of whatever pointless crap I could to seem clever -- you know, same ol' same ol'. And then everything got sidetracked when I got this album. I've been trying to write a review of this record for at least the past three weeks. I can't write something about the other stuff I've been listening to -- I need to write about this. Because Vuxola is as good a hardcore punk rock album as we've seen in the recent past.

Poor Lily is a trio from somewhere -- I don't know, I've looked and looked -- but I think probably from Long Beach, because they've soaked up the whole SST thing like they grew up in Spot's garage. They're loud, snotty and brash, blowing through 19 songs in about a half hour just like they're supposed to. Singer Adam Wisnieski has the presence and delivery of the great punk frontmen. In the lower registers he channels (but doesn't mimic) D. Boon. At times he has a Biafran tremolo. When he's at full volume, though, which is most of the time, he's got a malevolent exuberance that's all his own. Even when he's yelling noises instead of words, it's a beautiful thing.  Check out "Railroad Spike"--

As you can tell if you listened above, these songs are anything but facile three chord Ramones knock-offs. About 2 minutes into the record (which is about 20 seconds into the second track), Wisnieski does eight measures of a bass riff that's (to me at least) a loving homage to Mike Watt. It's the sort of thing that, with seventeen and a half songs to go, makes a person smile and think "these guys know what they're doing, and this will not be a waste of time." It gives you the sort of confidence you get when the pilot comes on the intercom after takeoff and doesn't sound loaded.

Drummer Dom Biaocco and guitarist Max Capshaw are terrific at creating a perfect blend of the musical and the caustic, again, eschewing the easy stuff and going for more demanding, interesting fare. You can hear it on the fantastic "Justice Kennedy Has a Cold", which, as far as I can tell, is the first song about a Supreme Court Justice since Fugazi's "Dear Justice Letter" from Steady Diet of Nothing. That's 22 freaking years!

And have you got 40 seconds to spare? I put this song in this review because of my sophomoric love of songs with cussing in them. It's even better when they're great songs, like this.

Vuxola is one of those rare records where hearing the obvious influences doesn't detract in the least from the overall originality of the sound. It was released by the band on August 13, and you can listen to the entire thing at the Poor Lily website. Better yet, you can buy the damn thing (CD or download) for five bucks! And you should, because this is a special album and you're just going to waste that money on something stupid otherwise. I don't mean to sound like your mom but face it, you always do. You can buy their ep and their first album there as well.

What the hell, here's one more.

Friday, August 30, 2013

REISSUE: John Coltrane - Afro-Blue Impressions - Expanded 40th Anniversary Edition

There's nothing like a John Coltrane record. As much as I enjoy Parker, Miles, Evans, Rollins and others, at some point when I want to listen to jazz, it comes back to Coltrane. A lot of the reason is the music he made with the quartet on this wonderful reissue of Afro-Blue Impressions: Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison. But apparently they were even better, even more transcendent, live. On these recordings, you hear the greatness the band achieved in the studio on cuts like "Naima" and "My Favorite Things", but you hear something more - I think it is the spirit of discovery, the restlessness when a band this good has truly mastered its art and is looking for new territory to explore. According to the producer of this reissue, Nick Phillips: “When you compare and contrast the performance of a composition that was released on the original album to a different performance of the same composition from among the bonus tracks, it perfectly illustrates just how restlessly creative Coltrane and his band were. Each song was a springboard for unpredictable improvisation and boundless creativity.”

This quartet, like a lot of my favorite rock bands, played together perfectly - knowing when to "lay out" or take a back seat, and though they were clearly creating music according to their own muse, somehow they had an almost perfect sense of how to keep their audience fully engaged - how hard, how far and how long to push solos.

From the Pablo presser announcing this release: Afro Blue Impressions represents an anniversary within an anniversary. By the time Norman Granz launched Pablo in 1973, he’d already stockpiled several years worth of previously-recorded tour performances in his vaults, including these sets from Stockholm and Berlin in late 1963 (October and November, respectively). This new two-disc reissue of the classic Coltrane Pablo album — originally released as a double LP in 1977 — arrives just a few weeks ahead of the 50th anniversary of the original concerts. In addition to the nine tracks that appeared in the original Afro Blue Impressions double album, the reissue also includes three bonus tracks from the Stockholm date: “Naima,” “I Want To Talk About You,” and “My Favorite Things.”

“These tracks brim with the wonder and the power of discovery,” says Neil Tesser, author of the new liner notes accompanying the reissue. “At this juncture, the Coltrane Quartet existed in a state analogous to quantum mechanics . . . Each new performance yielded new insights. As the musicians gathered this data and sifted through it, they would arrive at the polished theories underlying the eventual masterworks to come, such as the album Crescent and the monumental suite A Love Supreme — achievements that would then launch a new age of chaotic discovery, on such albums as Om, Sun Ship, and Meditations. How much those recordings will resonate on their 50th anniversaries will likely engender some controversy; Coltrane didn't live long enough to complete the journey that began with them, and the jury remains out, even decades later, regarding the impact of that work. But history long ago weighed the import of his work in 1963, when his music stretched and struggled its way toward becoming Coltrane’s iconic stylistic statement.”

The reissue is out now (released on Aug. 20).

Pablo Records website

New tracks from Frankie Rose

In recent years we have been listening and watching Frankie Rose evolve from the garage end of the noise pop spectrum with Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls to the somewhat glossier, though still reverb-heavy, pop of her first solo efforts to the new wave pop of last year's Interstellar.  In advance of  Herein Wild, her third album under her name, and first for the Fat Possum label, Frankie has released album tracks "Street of Dreams" and "Sorrow'.  The former is a cover of "Street of Dreams" by goth punkers the Damned.  In my view, Rose meets the original artists part way, infusing modern elements while adding a haunted cast to her version.

"Sorrow" seems to me to be a further exploration of new wave, with strings adding additional depth and gloss.  It is one of those pop songs that draws a satisfied sigh from me.


FREE SONG: Left Lane Cruiser - "Juice to Get Loose" from Rock Them Back to Hell, out Sept. 17

Left Lane Cruiser, a Ft. Wayne-based dirty blues/punk duo, has released "Juice to Get Loose" for your enjoyment. It's a free download, in advance of their new album Rock Them Back to Hell, due out Sept. 17. If I tell you they are on Alive/Naturalsound Records AND that they worked with the legendary Jim Diamond, you know it's hard, heavy and full of bad-ass guitars. There's plenty of slide guitar, electric lead guitar and guttural growling - these guys have blues in their souls:

You may recall that we shared their most recent record, a collaboration with James Leg on a bunch of inspired covers - Painkillers. They're currently out on tour - you can catch this fiery concoction at the following locations in the days ahead:

Aug 30 @ The Green Lantern – Lexington, KY
Aug 31 @ The Muddy Roots Music Festival – Cookeville,TN
Sep 1 @ Zanzabar - Louisville, KY
Sep 2 @ Warm Fest / Broad Ripple Park – Indianapolis, IN
Sep 7 @ Pinestock – Churubusco, IN
Sep 14 @ Brandanza – Columbia City, IN
Sep 25 @ MOTR Pub – Cincinatti, OH
Sep 27 @ The Bohemian – Greenville, SC
Sep 28 @ North River Tavern – Sandy Springs, GA
Sep 29 @ Boondoxx – Nashville, TN
Oct 25 @ Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
Oct 26 @ Mojo’s – Columbia, MO

And they will be adding dates - read more, check back to see if they're coming to your town, and most importantly, buy the record if you want, at the links below.

Left Lane Cruiser on Facebook
Alive/Naturalsound Records
Bomp! Records (Vinyl)

Introducing: No Monster Club

No Monster Club is an Irish band who will be touring in the US in the fall.  As an introduction to their music, here is "La La Land", which was released  via the Cool for Cats singles club, and is available below as a free download.  We've also included the video for the track, which features a singing dog.  We all love singing dogs!

No Monster Club - La La Land from David Lester Mooney on Vimeo.

The band is Bobby (guitar), Mark (bass) and Paddy (drums).  You can find information regarding their fall tour here.

Here are the videos for a few older tracks --


Friday Nuggets - The Rivieras "California Sun"

College football season launches this weekend. So today we'll go with a truly great one that the Friday Nuggets staff has been holding back for just the right time. And that time is now.

Of course everyone knows that the most storied, successful and beloved college football team in the world is the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, inventors of the forward pass, home of the most Heisman Trophy winners, 11 national championships, etc etc etc. And I might incidentally mention, the alma mater of all 5 writers here at When You Motor Away.

But did you know that the home of Notre Dame - the oft-maligned South Bend Indiana - also produced  The Rivieras, who in 1964 recorded "California Sun", one of the all-time great garage rock songs?

The song was written and first recorded by New Orleans singer Joe Jones in 1961. Check out this Crescent City obscure original version:

While the Rivieras recording is by far the most well known, "California Sun" has been covered by a wide array of great artists - The Byrds, The Replacements, The Dictators, Dick Dale, Chris Isaak, Bobby Fuller, and Tommy James and the Shondells, to name just a few. But the best cover was done by arguably America's greatest rock'n'roll band, The Ramones, seen here doing an absolutely killer live version:


Thursday, August 29, 2013

REVIEW: Pond - Hobo Rocket

On their fifth album, Hobo RocketPond is playing heavy, psychedelic stoner rock and coming down unapologetically on the side of "heavy". They combine the meandering experimentalism of early Pink Floyd with rhythms and guitars reminiscent of much heavier guitar bands like Led Zeppelin, and they sometimes do it in one song (lead track "Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide?"). Then again, they're just as likely to break out into a heavy-booted glamfest like "Xanman", which seems to pay a bit of a tribute to T Rex, when it's not soaring off on wild guitar tangents.

It's an intense journey, for such a short album (34 minutes total). You'll follow Pond from the spoken word of the title track with Perth character Cowboy John on vocals (reminiscent of the heaviest Small Faces album Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, if Stan Unwin had been permitted to sing!), to the gentle psych of "O Dharma", which leads directly into the metallic stomp of "Aloneaflameaflower." My favorite track on here is "Giant Tortoise", which combines the album's trademark heavy stomp with equally heavy guitars, but takes several breaks to meander into psychedelic territory, and contains the strongest riffing on the album.

Hobo Rocket concludes with its longest cut, "Midnight Mass (at the Market Street Payphone)", a song that contains some of the prettiest guitar work on the record. It's a fitting closer, one that shows all sides of this talented, assured heavy rock band. The band consists of former Tame Impala bassist Nick Allbrook, Jay Watson, Cam Avery, Joseph Ryan and Jamie Terry. Allbrook describes some of their motivation: "It was the kind of mindset of finding our own little place in music, and being more of a functioning band, which is what makes it noisier and denser. This one we went as brutally hard as we would at a show. We wanted the songs to sound loose and live." If they got a little extreme (and they happily did), it may be a reaction to having been perceived as a "Tame Impala side project". Like a lot of productive band splits, this one has yielded two sources of terrific guitar rock. Hobo Rocket is out now on Modular Recordings (released Aug 6) and you can get a free download of "Giant Tortoise" at their website, or look up tour dates, or buy the record, at the sites below.

Pond website
Modular Recordings

REVIEW: Venom P. Stinger - 1986 - 1991

Seminal Australian punk rockers Venom P. Stinger are finally getting the reissue treatment they deserve.  The band, which featured Mick Turner (guitar) and Jim White (drums), who formed two thirds of the Dirty Three, Dugald McKenzie (vocals), and Alan Secher-Jensen (bass).  Playing a frenetic, hardcore version of punk characterized by rolling drums, twisted guitar licks, propulsive, rubbery bass and McKenzie's shouted/spoken vocal style, they seemed to me to be as much a multi-sensory experience as purveyors of songs.  Is is just me, or do the rest of you experience punk in the gut as well as your ears?

The 1986 - 1991 collection is via Drag City, and collects all of the band's vinyl releases from the referenced period on CD for the first time.  For the musical historians, the material includes all of the tracks from the Meet My Friend Venom and What's Yours is Mine LPs, the Walking About 7" and the Waiting Room EP.  In my view, the album collects all of the essential VPS material, as it covers the period for which McKenzie was the vocalist.  One hears and feels the energy, and senses the sweat.  As far as I'm concerned, if you are going to pick only one hardcore punk band, Venom P. Stinger is the intelligent choice, and 1986 - 1991 is a gift.  And listening to it, the essential genius of Venom P. Stinger becomes apparent.  The musicians really could play, and were more disciplined and structured than may have readily been apparent.  The music went to the edge, but never over the edge.  And there was a lot of very inspired performances under the noise.  This will be one of my favorite reissues of the year.

I think the best way to present VPS' work for your evaluation is via live performances.  Here are clips of two of the songs on the album, performed in the studio of Melbourne public television in 1988 --

"What's Yours Is Mine", the title track for one of the band's LPs --

Drag City

REVIEW: Fur Trade - Don't Get Heavy

Fur Trade is a duo consisting of Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat on synths/drums/vocals and Parker Bossley of The Gay Nineties on bass/guitar/vocals. Their new album is Don't Get Heavy, and it's an exhilarating, upbeat record with enough sonic variety and attention to harmony to keep you bopping for the entirety of its 41 minutes. They describe the sound as "yacht rock" - and I'm willing to consider that this may be an emerging genre. We've seen similar sounds from artists like Wild Cub, Beisbol and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. recently, all of them synth-heavy, drumbeat-based but featuring plenty of rock guitar and soul-influenced vocals. Not to pigeonhole, but I'm sometimes tempted to call all these "children of Steely Dan". Like Steely Dan, Fur Trade (and the others I mentioned) have a sound in mind and are willing to put in the work to get it, and don't feel constrained by "genre".

Here's a video for the title track:

Bossley himself describes the sound: “We take our shared love for soft pop from the 70’s and 80’s (Bowie, Sade, Hall and Oates), and add our own touch of modern grime and dirt in there.” It's obvious they pay a lot of attention to the sound - Bays: “Parker and I have very similar sensibilities when it comes to music that ends up in a sort of mad scientist being consumed by his experiments. I’m just obsessed with the blending of old equipment with digital sounds and the audio sculpting to us became just as essential as what riff or melody we were playing.” At the same time, though, they're creative and open enough in their approach to feature a decidedly lo-fi use of modern technology in obtaining the drum sound on "Voyager", one of the best tracks here. Bays said he was playing on a friend's drum kit, liked the sound he was getting so he recorded it on his iPhone - and claims that's the sound you hear on the record... albeit mixed in with swirling layer after layer of synths, guitars, multi-tracked vocals and effects.

Here's a live orchestral version of "Voyager":

Or you can listen to the album version at this link.

There are transcendent moments on this record - the entire second track, "Kids These Days", with its falsetto vocals and slightly off-kilter guitar line over a quietly insistent keyboard, is one.

Another is the last 3:00 of "In Between Dreams". There's something about the way the song (at 5:41 the longest track on the record) rides a quick tempo and treated vocals through the first half, then leads to a nice guitar line about halfway through, and they ride that the rest of the way through the song.

The record is out now on Last Gang Records (released July 23rd). You can learn more, buy a download or order at the links below.

Fur Trade website
Last Gang Records

"World Don't Shine" by Southern

Southern are siblings Thom and Lucy Southern, plus drummer Jack Prince.  Originally from Belfast, they currently reside in Liverpool.  The band have signed to Marathon Artists (Jagwar Ma) and expect to release their debut LP in 2014.  Despite their origins, their music has a southern blues feel to it, and features dueling male/female vocals.  I think Southern is a promising band, and I'm looking forward to the album.

Southern's first work for Marathon Artists is "World Don't Shine", which is presented in this video --

Here is previous track "Where the Wild Are" --

Marathon Artists

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

REVIEW: Golden Suits - Golden Suits

Golden Suits is Department of Eagles member Fred Nicolaus, a NYC-based singer-songwriter. On the self-titled debut Golden Suits, Nicolaus demonstrates a winning combination of literacy, thoughtfulness and warmth. In places, his style reminds me of the easy grace of Jack Johnson, though his voice is in a little bit higher register, and there's a good bit more variety in the instrumentation than on Johnson's work - including some nice, understated horns in places. Still, there's a sweetness to his sound that makes the connection for me.

We've previously featured two advance singles from the album - "Swimming in 99" and "Didn't I Warn You?"

Opener "Swimming In '99" is driven along by a simple, ticking beat, which serves to feature Nicolaus' warm vocals:

The album is the result of Nicolaus' eventful year, in which he went through a breakup, was displaced from his Brooklyn apartment by a rat infestation, traveled to Germany to learn about his grandfather's death in WWII, went broke, and lost forty pounds. He also cites his favorite writer John Cheever as an influence that affects every song on the record. The video above documents Nicolaus' attempt to buy every copy of a Cheever book in Manhattan in one day. As you might expect, there are a lot of books in Manhattan.

Here's "Didn't I Warn You" - a slow building, lush and beautiful pop song:

"You Can't Make Your Mind Up", like some of the other songs here, features a sort of metronomic beat in service of highlighting the vocals, lyrics and other instrumentation. There are also some ballads with simpler arrangements - again, featuring Nicolaus' vocals: "Restaurant Song" and "Little One", for example. The closing track is "Dearly Beloved", another song with a very full arrangement and female vocals in the chorus.

It's out now (released Aug. 20) on Yep Roc Records.

Golden Suits website
Yep Roc Records

Adelaide 7" from Bitch Prefect

We try to be a patient bunch.  While waiting for Bitch Prefect's upcoming LP, Bird Nerds, we have been listening to the opening track, "Drifting", which we featured recently (link).  And we've been reading our bird-related publications, Birds of Australia, Ducks Unlimited Monthly and Chicks of Spring Break Gone Wild.  Next week, fans get a bit more to tide them over - the release of the Adelaide 7".  Consisting of two tracks, the title track and "Better Next Time", it will be released by Brisbane label Bedroom Suck Records.  Both tracks also are on the upcoming album.

"Adelaide" is about the members of the band leaving their hometown of Adelaide for a bigger city --

The b-side is about drinking, family relationships, going to the races, and trying not to repeat past mistakes --

Bitch Prefect is Liam Kenny, Pat Telfer and Scott O'Hara.  Bird Nerds will be released on November 4 by Bedroom Suck Records.

Bedroom Suck Records

REVIEW: Ty Segall - Sleeper

Sleeper will be a surprise to music fans that only associate the prolific Ty Segall with shredding guitars.  On this album, the guitars are acoustic (except for a brief break out at the end of "The Man Man"), and what is shredded are the curtains that we tend to hang to mask our vulnerability.  And as invariably is the case, unplugging puts the spotlight on the songwriting and vocal subtleties.  The essential question being can one of the hardest working men in the business craft an album of songs that, without his trademark fuzz and slash, stand out as unique and worthy contributions to his catalog and and our record collections?  And the answer is "yes", without qualification and room to spare.  Lyrically, musically and emotionally the songs on Sleeper reel us in.  While the introspection doesn't result in a deeply confessional work, it is personal and affecting.  The accompaniment is never distracting, and even hints at influences from other rockers who have unplugged -- a Jimmy Page touch here, a Lou Reed touch there.

With Segall one cannot predict his upcoming direction, only that there likely will be many further projects.  But if past history is instructive, we may not often encounter the acoustic Segall.  So I encourage you to experience this one while you can.  It is worth it.

Sleeper is out now on Drag City.

Drag City

Remaining tour dates:
Thu. Aug. 29 -- Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg w/ VietNam, David Novick
Fri. Aug. 30 -- New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom w/ Chris Cohen, David Novick
Sat. Aug. 31 -- Chicago, IL @ Logan Square Auditorium w/ Mike Donovan
Mon. Sep. 2 -- San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall w/ Mike Donovan
Wed. Sep. 4 -- Big Sur, CA @ Fernwood Tavern w/ Mike Donovan
Thu. Sep. 5 -- Oakland, CA @ New Parish w/ Mike Donovan
Sat. Sep. 7 -- Seattle, WA @ Neumo's w/ Mike Donovan
Sun. Sep. 8 -- Boise, ID @ Neurolux w/ Mike Donovan
Mon. Sep. 9 -- Reno, NV @ Holland Project w/ Mike Donovan
Sun. Dec. 1 -- Camber Sands, UK @ All Tomorrow's Parties Festival

REVIEW: The Big Sweet - Bicycle Nights

Now that the kids in Canton, Ohio's The Big Sweet are 19 years old, they've released their third full album, and it's a wonderful journey through a variety of guitar- and power-pop styles. Their new one, Bicycle Nights, is partly a continuation of their sound, but it's partly a move in some new musical directions. The Big Sweet is Sam Regas (lead vocals, guitar, songwriter) Brad Berbari (guitar, keys), Matt McDonald (bass), and Drew Watson (drums), and their musical development is on full display here.

Considering that these kids were 15 or so when they released well-received Ultraviolet Rain (WYMA review here), we're not too surprised at the way they combine sweet pop with a dense, baroque approach (including strings and synths in spots) throughout this record, but we are certainly impressed. Again.

Here's "Somber Sighs" - as jangly as the guitars, and as sweet as the harmony vocals are, there's something more here:

It's guitar pop, and catchy as ever... but along with the soaring vocal harmonies and guitars, there are touches like the slightly dissonant piano and ripping electric guitar solo in "Casse La Fleur" and the almost wholly piano-based closing track "Pillars" that hint at a bit of time spent listening to the recent output of Wilco or some of the super-catchy "experimental" pop of WYMA hero Robert Pollard. Either way, those are good touchpoints for rock fans and trace a strong trajectory for the musical ambitions of these teenagers. The album is out now (Aug. 27) and is self-released. It's available via iTunes or CDBaby.


NEW SONG: Classroom Battles - "Call to Arms"

Balancing catchy electronic synth pop with soulful vocals, Classroom Battles (whose members reside between Ireland, France and The U.S.) has released this video for lead track "Call to Arms":

The band consists of Martin Clancy, Tigrane Minassian (lead vocalist, star of the video), Trish Kavanaugh and Vasileios Gourgourinis. Clancy is a former member of Witness Protection Programme. Kavanaugh shares thoughts about the interplay in their writing together: “Being Irish, I cannot write anything without telling a story. And Tigrane, being French, adds a very romantic and sometimes even strange approach to the writing. So our songs tend to have strong meaning. Some even have characters who we could recite their whole life story up to the point where the song takes place.”

And the story behind the video, as detailed by Minassian: “The cake represents all the things we’d like to do but never find the time or nerve to. The diner where he’s cooking represents all the things we have to do regardless of our dreams. In the end, we need both. We just have to find a balance, and even though that might ruffle some feathers, the result is most definitely worthwhile.”

This song is out now, the full EP This Week's Question is due out in September.

Classroom Battles Facebook

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Dream Pop Discovery: Gold - Losing Your Hair EP

Gold is a Calgary-based dream pop outfit featuring some absolutely beautiful guitar sounds, guazy vocals and a gentle, steady rhythm. They have just released a 4-song EP, Losing Your Hair, which is the result of a session they did last year with the late Chris Reimer of Women, who played drums on the songs that make up this record. The band characterizes this release as a tribute to Reimer:

"We started recording these songs in January 2012 with the intention of spending a couple of months demoing all of our material in preparation for a full length studio album. Our drummer, Chris Reimer, had brought over his beloved 4trk cassette deck, small mixer, and collection of microphones and we spent some days and nights together playing with gear. On February 21th 2012, Chris passed away unexpectedly in his sleep of a previously undiagnosed heart condition. This EP is an archive of the four songs we had completed with Chris on the drums and the console, and is dedicated with so much love to him and the inspiration he filled us with."

Here's a live performance of "Waters":

Gold - Waters from OCL Studios on Vimeo.

Stream the EP here:

This stuff will take you to a beach someplace - it's got that wonderful combination of reverb-laden guitar and ethereal female vocals our regular readers will be familiar with. Mostly because we at WYMA love that sound...

Band consists of Kaelen Ohm (The Shrapnelles), Rena Kozak, Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, Samantha Savage Smith, Snailhouse, Woodpigeon) and Matthew Swann (Extra Happy Ghost! / Astral Swans). I'm not too familiar with the rest of those bands, but this is really wonderful stuff so I am hoping they all make Gold their primary project and put out some more of this.

This record is on Mammoth Cave Records.

"Carolina" by Loon Lake

Loon Lake is a garage band from Melbourne.  In advance of the October release of their debut LP, Gloamer, they have released "Carolina".  In a bit less than four minutes the five lads give us an energetic and affecting lament about a girl walking out.  It is classic rock and roll fare, and a very good song.  I think it portends good things for the album.  Enjoy.


NEW SONG: "Mexico" by Mirror Travel

Mirror Travel is Tiffanie Lanmon (drums),  Paul Brinkley (bass and vocals) and Lauren Green (guitar and vocals) - an Austin, TX based trio formerly known as Follow That Bird. In that incarnation, they were considered one of Austin's most promising bands and supported both Bill Callahan and ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead on separate tours.

Due to issues with labels, finances, etc. (a by-now familiar story for hardworking young bands that tends to separate the strong from the weak), they regrouped, went into the desert of West Texas to record, and with a new band name - Mirror Travel - they have a full-length, Mexico, prepared to release in October. Here's the initial, eponymous track:

This is a terrific rock song with good guitars and a strong rhythm section throughout.  I love the insistent, semi-ragged guitar line at the beginning and over the outro, and the reverb-laced vocals, especially. It's introspective music, likely inspired at least in part by the location - south of the Davis Mountains and north of the US-Mexico border and traversed by wind that seems to come from a million miles away. Looking forward to hearing more of the album.

Mirror Travel website
Modern Outsider Records

REVIEW: Ghost Wave - Ages

Taking the more muscular end of the old Flying Nun sound from the '80s, and then blending in some '60s influences, a bit of '90s Madchester scene (e.g. The Stone Roses), blues riffs, Krautrock rhythms, and a delightfully heavy bass, Ghost Wave has successfully updated the sound for which their New Zealand home is known and appreciated.  Thus, that their debut LP, Ages, is released by Flying Nun seems to me to me to provide an appropriate link to the label's past and signal a forward push for a new generation of music lovers.

Overall, the sound on Ages is wired, taught and focused, but without any undue gloss.  The listener's attention is, invariably, drawn to the guitars, but the band is sufficiently disciplined to avoid the temptation to play guitar god at the expense of the song.  Nevertheless, the output has an urgent, aggressive, record-live-in-one-take feel, and that is a positive when the band evinces the confidence and cool of Ghost Wave.  For me, Ages is a ten-track shot of adrenaline.  My heart races, my feet move and I have had my dose of electric guitar that is (almost) as important as that double espresso.  Believe me -- when I start comparing a debut album to something as serious as coffee, you can be sure that I have detected talent.  Take a ride on the Ghost Wave, dear readers.  They deserve it; and you deserve it.

"Here She Comes" is the first single from Ages --

"Bootlegs" is the second release --

Ages closes with "Orb" --

Ghost Wave is Matthew L. Paul (vocals/guitar), Eammon Logan (drums), Mike Ellis (bass/vocals), and Jamie Kennedy (guitar).  Ages is released on Flying Nun Records worldwide, and Arch Hill in New Zealand.

Flying Nun Records
Arch Hill Recordings

Monday, August 26, 2013

"San Pedro", by Doprah

Christchurch, New Zealand's Steve Marr records and performs as Doprah.  His latest track, "San Pedro", featuring Indira Force on vocals, is a good introduction to his talent.  Distinctively atmospheric and inventively rhythmic with an insistent bass line, it has an urgency that much electronic music lacks.  You can listen to it here, and/or watch the video.  You also can download the track free at from the Bandcamp link.  "San Pedro" will be on Doprah's upcoming album, Wasting.

Here is the video for the track:

Doprah | San Pedro | Music Video from Julian Viktor Vares on Vimeo.


Buffalo Killers - release extended edition of Ohio Grass EP

Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers are still playing their heavy psychedelic guitar (emphasis on guitar) rock, and on Ohio Grass they're better than ever. They swing from the heavy, foreboding rock of lead track "Baptized", with its guitar attack that builds slowly to an overwhelming crescendo, to the sweet, reggae-influenced "Golden Eagle", and it's all festival-worthy hard rock. Here's "Golden Eagle", with some Crazy Horse-style guitar over the last 2:00 of the track:

"Hold You Me" continues in the vein I thought marked a lot of their previous release Dig. Sow. Love. Grow. - a style that is pleasantly reminiscent of the easy, loping boogie of The James Gang.

This is an extended version of a 6-track Record Store Day vinyl-only release with four new songs added, including live versions of "Hey Girl", "Jon Jacob" and "Move On". As you might imagine, their live sound is notable, too, and features extended guitar solos... even more guitar to love. Get it from Alive/Naturalsound, or read more at their website. It was released last week (Aug. 20).

Buffalo Killers website
Alive/Naturalsound Records

REVIEW: Don Cavalli - Temperamental

Don Cavalli is a French artist playing a combination of invigorating rock sounds on his second album, Temperamental. From psychedelic guitar rock to rockabilly to blues-rock to boogie, he travels far and wide in his quest to deliver an original sound. On the title track, I'm reminded of the spirit of joy that was present in Howlin' Wolf's best songs -- not to say he necessarily sounds like the Wolf, but there's something about his singing on this one that reminds me of the late great Chester Burnett.

This album is a most welcome combination of influences, tempos, styles and instrumental approaches - as unexpected as it is enjoyable. There's blues-influenced stuff like the title track, electro rock like “Santa Rita”, a bouncy R&B-influenced track like “Me and My Baby”, and some combinations that sound downright strange to my American ears: the rap and sitar combination featured in “Feel Not Welcome” and the banjo/Chinese rhythm of “The Greatest".

Most of the album is upbeat. Cavalli's clearly feeling pretty good, but he's not averse to delving into territory that sounds like it belongs in a Tarantino film on some of the stuff here: ‘Say Little Girl’ is a dialogue with Rosemary Standley, who warbles sweetly to offset Cavalli's guttural growl. The motorcycle tribute "Zundapp" must be heard to be believed - because why would you take my word for the fact that it is a combination of German motorik and American rockabilly?

I think this album is a fascinating trip into world music - both the influences rock and R&B have had throughout the world, and the influences that flow the other way. But on most of Temperamental, the sound rises above the level of mere influences or "soundalikes" to a level of bracing originality. I think Cavalli himself says it pretty well: “It sounds old, but not traditional. I do not follow; I just want to create my own thing.”

The album is out now (released Aug 13) on Everloving Records.

Don Cavalli at Everloving Records

July 2013 - When You Motor Away Spotify Playlists

The music is always playing in the back ground at my house.  I assume it is the same for my fellow bloggers and many of you.   The playlist for JULY 2013 is only 412 songs down by nearly 200 songs from last month's list.   We - as a group - have listened to everyone of these songs - and many more which did not make the cut.   If one of us isn't hooked, we don't review the group or the album.

Hit play and put  the list on shuffle.  The second Spotify playlist is for the first 7 months of 2013.  Our ears have collectively listened to over 3,200 tracks. A solid summer playlist by anyone's standards. You will automatically receive updates to the list  if you follow the year-to-date list on Spotify.  Enjoy the fruits of our passion.

                 2013 - When You Motor Away

NEW SONG: Babeshadow - "Lonely Morning"

Here's a super-catchy bit of Britpop-meets-doo-wop from East London duo Babeshadow. The single is out now (released July 29). Having started out as two childhood friends who honed their craft busking across the streets of Europe, the duo of Tom Cawte and David Thornley eventually played at Glastonbury, supported artists like Florence + The Machine, and headlined their own UK and Italian tours.

‘Lonely Morning’ is the first track taken from those sessions - true to what you'd expect from a duo consisting of old friends, their vocal harmonies are somehow tight and breezy at the same time. And there's great interplay between the rhythm and the light, cheerful guitar lines:

When we hear more, we'll let you know. You can read more, and buy music, at their website.

Babeshadow website

MusicfestNW - music event in Portland OR, Sept 3-8

Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas

Hey kids, it's not too late to get yourself to Portland Oregon for a terrific music festival. Read all about it here: MusicfestNW web page.

Appearing there will be many bands we like here at WYMA - Superchunk, Bob Mould, Ty Segall, The Head and the Heart, The Joy Formidable, The Baseball Project, Neko Case (photo below), La Luz, etc etc.

Neko Case

We are particularly excited about two bills that will appeal to readers of our Soul Corner - the first with Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas (top picture above) along with Cody Chesnutt, the other featuring Charles Bradley and Shuggie Otis.

Portland is a particularly good place to visit in September when you generally get near perfect weather.
And we have beer here too, lots and lots of very good beer.

Come on out.