Wednesday, April 30, 2014

REMIX: Boardwalk posts Julia Holter remix of "I'm to Blame"

Boardwalk, the LA dream pop duo consisting of Mike Edge and Amber Quintero, released one of my favorite albums of 2013, so I'm inclined to pay attention to anything they send along... They're on Stones Throw, a label that has taken the remix/collaboration to a whole new level, so it makes sense that they would share one of the remixes of that album's best song, a stripped-down and rebuilt take on "I'm to Blame" made by LA musician Julia Holter. You can check it out here:

Then, if you've got the time, the talent and the inclination, you can grab the Boardwalk stems in a zip file here, and make your own remix. Then you can post it to the Stones Throw group on Soundcloud. There are three already!

Can I make a confession? I liked the original quite a bit, and I doubt it can be improved upon.

But I am glad to see so many folks like Boardwalk's music enough to make these things.

Boardwalk website

"Hungry A Long Time" from Donovan Blanc

A few weeks ago we featured "Minha Menina", a wonderful Brazilian-flavored guitar pop gem from the new group Donovan Blanc (here).  The band, consisting of former Honeydrum members Joseph Black and Raymond Schwab, have released the second track from their upcoming June LP.  "Hungry A Long Time" is a jangly treasure, and will call to mind the Dunedin sound of The Bats and The Clean, and '60s guitar pop.

The debut album is out on June 24 on Captured Tracks.  Mark your calendars.

Captured Tracks

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

REVIEW: The Shackeltons - Records

Already a passionate band with a furious, straight-ahead postpunk style, The Shackeltons seem to have drawn power (and, to my ears, grace - no, majesty) from singer/songwriter Mark Redding's personal journey of late. As the band was growing in stature between 2006 and 2010, he learned that his mother was ill and eventually, he took time away in order to be with her. As is the case so often, a decision made for the right reason, is often proven right for many other reasons. Redding's mother appears on the record in a couple of recordings which strike a just-right tone surrounding the angular guitar noise, squalling sax and pounding rhythms. But it's the passion evident in this music that shows how Redding came back to rock and roll with a renewed spirit and, in that, he honors his mother greatly.

Of course, if the music wasn't so thrilling, this would just be a nice story and, while Redding would always be admirable for risking his music career to attend to his mother, we would probably not know about Records. This album is a tremendous accomplishment - heavy, ferocious, and somehow at the same time heartfelt and emotionally full.

Here's "Call Call" - raging guitars compete with a resonant saxophone over the latter half of the track:

Here's "California", probably the heaviest track on the record:

Here's a video for "The Ache". There's a band I was reminded of during this one, and it's not a comparison I make often - The Minutemen:

I've also seen Pixies comparisons, and perhaps that's apt - you can hear it somewhat in the bass rumble, frantic-sounding vocals and overall heaviness of a lot of the material. But The Shackeltons are their own band, having matured a ton between their debut and this long-awaited followup. Records is available now (out Apr. 22) on Think Loud.

Shackeltons website
Think Loud Entertainment

REVIEW: Elephant - Sky Swimming

The London duo Elephant, consisting of  Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchbeck, have pulled off a difficult feat.  In Sky Swimming they have created a well-balanced 12-track set of dream pop/beach pop/chamber pop of a style that often is charming in the 7" or EP format, but just as often can lose steam as an LP.  But more than that, they have addressed disintegrating relationships while in a real time parallel their own relationship was breaking.

All the components on the album are tasteful, with just the right amount of restraint and bubbling melody to make this the perfect accompaniment to floating in the pool or drifting the evening away on a sailboat.  But the purpose and drive shine through with the careful infusion of strands of '60s pop, the emotion of the performances and the evident overall care in which the songs are arranged.  It may be a soundtrack to a figurative breakup.  It could be the soundtrack to your breakup.  But dammit -- it still is a seductive listen, and an album you'll return to all summer.

Sky Swimming is out today via Memphis Industries.

Memphis Industries

Daleth Karl - People/People Dub

Daleth Karl is a talented "new school" roots reggae artist.  He has resided and performed in the UK and France, both solo and with the now defunct group Idrenites.  His first release for Bristol's Sugar Shack Records is the People 7".  The CD version is a two-track recording, and is a limited run of 100 numbered copies.  The tracks are "People", featuring Joe Peng, and "People Dub (RSD Mix)".  A purchase of the CD comes with a download of those tracks and three other mixes.  You can stream the title track and one of the mixes below.  If you like them I encourage you to hit the Bandcamp link and stream all of the tracks.  I was impressed with each of the dubs/remixes.  The base tune is uplifting, and each mix adds its own individualistic twist.

The People 7" was released yesterday by Sugar Shack Records, which in conjunction with its sister labels in Bristol remains one of the finest sources of reggae on the planet.

The dub -

Bandcamp for record
Sugar Shack Records


Monday, April 28, 2014

REVIEW: Strange Talk - Cast Away

The songs on Cast Away, the new LP from Melbourne's electro poppers Strange Talk, are radio friendly and commercial/jingle-ready, but don't be a hater.  These guys simply have a knack for hooks and melody.  And digging a bit below the surface, the band appears to have written a batch of tunes that encapsulate the spirit of summer - drives with the window open, beaches, pools, vacations, flirting, dancing, and looking up at the stars.  For many, putting this record on your player may turn into a several month commitment.

And while an album full of electro-pop always raises the danger of sameness, Strange Talk has skillfully mixed up the approach.  The album starts out brightly with the title track, then the club-ready "Picking Up the Pieces".  "Eskimo Boy" and "Climbing Walls" dish out thick electro-funk, while the throb of disco infuses "Falling In Love".  "Another Day" displays the band's dream pop chops.  They soar on "Young Hearts", yearn on "So So La La" and even roll out a slow burner, guitar solo and all, on "Come Back Home".  And my favorite of all is "Morning Sun", a gloriously good track with a synth riff that happily recalled for me a riff from "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals.

Cast Away is out April 29 via Wind-Up Records.

Strange Talk are Stephen Docker (vocals, keys), Gerard Sidhu (bass, keys), Travis Constable (drums), and Gillan Gregory (guitar, keys).  According to the band, they are a classically trained violinist, a dance producer with a DJ background, and two funk/soul musicians.  Perhaps not the precise mix you would expect, but there is no reason to question the results.

Wind-Up Records

Doll/Candy Darling from Trick Mammoth

The worldwide economy requires continual exercise of thoughtful commerce to stave off the forces of evil and delay armageddon.  I'm sure you all want to do your part, but sometimes need a little guidance.  So you sit in front of your computers with dollars/pounds/Euros/futures contracts for barrels of oil clutched in your hands waiting for prudent spending suggestions.  I live for these moments where I can be of service to humanity.

Today's suggestion for sustaining global commerce and the advancement of humanity is Doll/Candy Darling from Trick Mammoth.  I've been a big fan of the band for some time (most recent post here), so it is no surprise that I'm enthusiastic about another record from the  Dunedin, New Zealand trio.  But in my view, this little release confirms my opinion that Trick Mammoth not only is a good band at the moment, but that it is a band with the potential to reach greater heights.  Doll/Candy Darling is two tracks of sweetly melancholy jangle pop that I think rank among the best songs this young band have created.  "Doll" is a sad song buoyed by a energetic melody, Millie's lead vocals and Millie and Adrian singing the chorus.  "Candy Darling" is an affecting jangle pop tune featuring Adrian's lead vocals.  Very few bands can layer the sweet and the sad as well as this one.  Trick Mammoth are Adrian Ng, Millie Lovelock and Sam Valentine.  Millie and Adrian both play guitar and sing, Sam drums and they all take turns playing bass.  Other bands for the three members include Males (Sam), Mavis Gary (Adrian) and Astro Children (Millie).

They are being released as the second installment of 2014's wiaiwya-7777777 7" picture disc singles club, and will be available in vinyl and digital formats.  If you pre-order you will receive an immediate download of "Candy Darling", which can be streamed below.

Perhaps a bit of background with respect to wiaiwya-7777777 is in order.  It is a London-based club devoted to the format of the 7" record.  You can subscribe to the entire 2014 series or purchase individual releases.  However, individual vinyl purchases of each release are limited to 77.  Subscribers to the 2014 edition will receive seven picture discs that in the aggregate provide an illustrated seven step guide to releasing vinyl records.  The other bands/artists will be Clemence Freschard,  The Leaf Library, The School, The Secret History, The Human Hearts, and Eagle Owl.

Trick Mammoth on Tumblr
Facebook for Trick Mammoth

Sunday, April 27, 2014

NEW SONG: The Donkeys - "Blues in the Afternoon"

San Diego's The Donkeys have been featured on WYMA before, a short review of their album Born With Stripes (review here). They'll be releasing Ride The Black Wave in June, and in the meantime have given us this advance track, a short, gently psychedelic number that's extremely pretty and atmospheric:

It features the laid-back vocal style they have made so familiar, some jangly guitar and sweet keyboard sounds. Really looking forward to the new one, their first for Easy Sound Records. It's available for pre-order, and they're going out on tour after the release too. More at their site or the Easy Sound site, below.

The Donkeys website
Donkeys at Easy Sound Recording Co.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

NEW VIDEO: Wild Cub - "Colour" from Youth

We've been enjoying the soulful vocals and rhythmic dance-rock of Nashville's Wild Cub for a while now - first wrote about them prior to the release of their debut album Youth in August 2012, here.

Starting as a duo of Keegan Dewitt and Jeremy Bullock, they've grown to five: Keegan DeWitt (vocals/guitar), Jeremy Bullock (guitar/synths), Dabney Morris (drums), Harry West (bass), and Eric Wilson (keys/synths). They have continued to tour, impressing audiences nationwide, and their album was picked up by respected indie label Mom + Pop. Now they have a video for album track "Colour":

The video is intended as a companion piece to the one for "Thunder Clatter":

They're back out on tour this summer, playing festivals, a Conan appearance in May and some touring in support of Vampire Weekend. You can read up on all of it at one of their websites, below. It occurs to me that these guys are a nice companion to Vampire Weekend - similar rhythmic approach, but not exactly the same sound. Where VW is very airy, I find Wild Cub earthier, and a little bit darker... though the music is plenty upbeat and exhilarating.

Wild Cub at Mom + Pop Music
Wild Cub website

Song By Toad 2014 Sampler

The title of this gem from Edinburgh's Song, By Toad Records is straightforward enough -- Song, By Toad Records 2014 Sampler.  But the subtitle is "Because the world is WRONG about music", and it sums up the maverick approach that label boss and blogger Matthew Young takes toward his music.   He records and releases music that matches his tastes, and is upfront about rejecting the conventional wisdom when he thinks it is wrong.  The foregoing isn't intended to suggest that Matthew's tastes are narrow (as you can determine for yourself by streaming the album below).  Matthew embraces the quiet and the noisy, but he likes his pop literate and sincerely executed.

So, here is the deal.  You provide Matthew with your email address, and you can download ten songs from records that Song, By Toad Records will release in 2014.  The album technically is "name your price", so an additional donation will not get you in trouble with The Man.  I have covered many of these artists and will cover others in the future, so I can endorse the quality of the music.  Sample two of the tracks below, and if your interest is aroused, stream or download the entire album.

"In Heaven" by Naked --

"Ilona You Should Still Be My Vampire Attendant" by Virgin of the Birds --

Full album stream --

Song By Toad blog
Song By Toad Records

Discovery: Shovels and Rope

I saw the Drive-By Truckers in Portland Thursday night, and they were spectacular, the songs from their great new album English Oceans (WYMA review here) coming across very strong live.

One of the many joys of the evening was the opening band Shovels and Rope, a husband and wife duo from South Carolina. Okay, let's come clean here - my buddy Patrick Meigs, public school educator extraordinaire, whose music taste I trust, urged me to write about this band maybe a year ago now. Their debut record, O' Be Joyful,  came out in 2012, ages ago in the blog world. So please forgive us for being embarrassingly late to the party, utterly without excuse. But hey, as a boss of mine liked to say, you can only start where you are. And where we are is declaring Shovels and Rope one of our most striking music discoveries in quite some time.

They are so distinctive, a two piece somehow achieving a wall of sound. They meld folk, gospel, classic country, Southern rock and the blues. They are rough and raw, rocking, and yet make beautiful sounding music. Cary Ann Hearst is a compelling lead vocalist, but Michael Trent joins her on every song, and the duet has striking and remarkably strong harmonies. The songwriting is sublime both musically and lyrically. And they are so very Southern, following in the tradition of great Southern rock duos the Flat Duo Jets and Chickasaw Mudd Puppies.

Check out Shovels and Rope singing "Birmingham":


Live they were more raucous than these videos suggest.  Check out "Gasoline", first of 5 tracks you can stream here, including 2 different versions of "Gasoline" (and don't miss song 2 here you Nick Lowe/Elvis Costello fans):

Buy the record, see them live, don't laugh at us for being late.

Shovels and Rope official web page.
Twitter: @Shovelsandrope

Friday, April 25, 2014

Introducing: The Amazing Snakeheads

Glasgow's The Amazing Snakeheads make uncompromising , intense, roots flavored rock and roll.  Their ten-track debut album, Amphetamine Ballads, will be released by Domino Records in late July, but we thought a brief introduction might be appreciated.  The band are Jordan Hutchison (drums), Dale Barclay (guitar, vocals) and William Coombe (bass).  Here are the first two singles from Amphetamine Ballads.  There is a bit of the Link Wray rootsy menace, and a bit of the Iggy and the Stooges feral rock and roll.

Domino Records

Rolling Stones Friday: Out of Time

"Out of Time" is a particular favorite of mine, with its terrific melody and overall  great feel. It was recorded in 1966, and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham. The original 5 minute version (1st video below) was released on the 1966 UK album Aftermath, then a shorter version put out in 1967 on the US release Flowers.  The song was very distinctive for its time due to the prominent marimba part played by Brian Jones.  

"Out of Time" has been covered a great deal, starting in 1966 when a British soul singer named Chris Farlowe had a #1 single in the UK with this terrific version produced by Mick Jagger:

And the great Ramones included "Out of Time" on their all covers record Acid Eaters:

The best performance of the song I ever experienced was by Elvis Costello and the Imposters, who played it on the Spinning Wheel tour when the needle fell on the the word "Time" at a show I saw in Portland a couple years. Love Elvis's vocal here from a recording in 2012:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bored Games - Who Killed Colonel Mustard (EP)

Today we present another Record Store Day release from Flying Nun which may still be available.  Who Killed Colonel Mustard is a limited edition 12" vinyl reissue of an EP released by Flying Nun in 1982.  Consisting of four tracks from Bored Games, the project of 17-year old Shayne Carter and mates Wayne Elsey, Fraser Batts, Jonathan Moore and Jeff Harford.  The band broke up after recording the songs, but before the EP was even released.  Carter went on to form The DoubleHappys and Straightjacket Fits, of which Elsey also was a member.  Elsey also formed The Stones, who provided four tracks to the wonderful Flying Nun release Dunedin Double.  Moore later served a stint with The Chills.

In addition to being rare, I think this record is special because the songs are unusually good, especially for high school students, and because it presents a more punk approach to indie rock than many of the better known Dunedin groups of the period.  You can stream all four tracks below.  The record can be ordered from Flying Nun in New Zealand or Captured Tracks in Brooklyn.

Flying Nun Records
Captured Tracks

REVIEW: Fear of Men - Loom

While there is much complaining about modern pop music, and to be fair, much to complain about, at some point we need to face the untidy fact that in order to have music we want, we have to provide full support to that music when it is available.  And by support I don't just mean telling a friend and streaming an album on Pitchfork Advance.  Buy the album; attend the shows; buy a copy of the album for a friend who will like it.  And yes, this little lecture has an ulterior motive.  I've been advocating Fear of Men since I first heard some demos a few years ago.  They now have a debut album, Loom, and I very much would like it to be the first of many.  A number of artists are purposeful in their art, thinking through the message to be conveyed.  A smaller number of artists are top class songwriters, packaging the message efficiently, appealingly, and with emotional resonance.  What makes Fear of Men so special to me is that they score high in both of those categories, and then deliver it with glistening, thoroughly enthralling melodies and sweet vocals that would capture ears even without the other qualities.

Jess Weiss' lyrics directly address weighty themes without sentiment or romance.  A former art student, as is co-founder and guitarist Daniel Falvey, art and literature inform her view of the world and the music she writes.  Water, risk and sleep/dreaming also feature prominently, and the world view, although not quite despairing, is decidedly melancholy.  Because Weiss favors first-person storytelling, the album has an unusual intimacy.  The overall thematic effect is literate without being pretentious, and anxious without being neurotic.

Musically, the arrangements feature bright melodies and energetic playing; a listener might find similarities with the Smiths, Lush, or Veronica Falls.  Ultimately, the band relies on Weiss' voice to sell the song, and it is trust that is well placed.  Her soaring, affecting vocals and Falvey's shimmering guitar are treasures.  In addition to Weiss and Falvey, Fear of Men include drummer Michael Miles and bassist Becky Wilkie.

Kanine Records

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Introducing: Deers

Deers are a lo-fi, surfy guitar pop band from Madrid.  Founded by Ana Garcia Perrote and Carlotta Cosials, they now are a foursome.  All we have to judge them on are two demos, which are available to stream and download below.  And what do they reveal?  That these ladies know how to construct a very catchy song.  And given the low, low price, I don't see any reason for all of you to add these songs to your summer party mix.  Your guests will like the songs, your party will be better for it, and when people ask who the group is you can take credit for discovering an emerging band from Spain.


"For You" from Gold-Bears

"For You" is your first taste from Gold-Bears second album, Dalliance, to be released by Slumberland Records on June 3.  The Atlanta band features former Plastic Mastery frontman Jeremy Underwood and Clinton Callahan, Sam Jacobsen, Scotty Hoffman and Sean Zearfoss.  I think the band has a distinctive sound, bringing punk energy to jangle pop.  "For You" is an appealing song, and I'm looking forward to the album.

Bandcamp for prior release
Slumberland Records

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nick Batterham - Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat is the third solo album from Nick Batterham, once a member of the early 90s band The Earthmen.  Second Lovers was released in 2010, and Closing Time at Yah Yah's was released early last fall.  The material for this album has been accumulated over time, as Batterham has said that he saved his happier songs so they could be released together.  And from that you can tell that Lucky Cat does not follow the contemplative, downbeat path of its predecessors.  It is power pop and pure pop, and shows that when Nick is happy, he is indeed happy.  Moreover, he can make those around him happy.

Lucky Cat is out now via Popboomerang Records.


Bandcamp for album

"You Made Me Do That" by Cruising

"You Made Me Do That" is a delicious bowl of lo-fi garage rock with a party sprinkles on the top.  And you don't get to think about it very long because Soft Power is only manufacturing 100 cassettes of the single.  "Oh" you say in that arch manner of yours, "surely the song will be on a later release".  Well, maybe.  But you can't be sure because Cruising isn't a regular band.  Adopting the names Dick Vortex, Benzedrine Black, Sex Grimes and Dan Handle, some members live in Belfast and some members live in Dublin, and they are in other bands such as Girl's Names, September Girls, Sea Pinks and Logikparty.  The official release date is April 28, and you can order now at the Soft Power links below.  Or you can miss out and occasionally play the Soundcloud stream below and wish you'd ordered the cassette.  Your choice ...

Soft Power Records
Soft Power Records Bandcamp

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Wars" from San Mei

Recording as San Mei, Emily Hamilton earned our attention with her "Brighter" release in 2013 (here).  The next bid to capture our hearts from the young lady from Gold Coast, Australia, is "Wars", which will be released on May 12 via London label Tidal Wave.  Listen and make up your own mind, but after hearing the soaring melody and dynamic soft/loud arrangement, I think our only reasonable tactic is to surrender.

Tidal Wave (label)

Luxembourg Signal - Distant Drive

It is excusable to not be familiar with The Luxembourg Signal, but it should interest you to know that the band brings together members of Aberdeen, Fonda and Trembling Blue Stars.  With members in London and Los Angeles, band practice may be a little tougher to arrange than is normal, but the results crafted by Johnny Joyner, Beth Arzy, Brian Espinosa, Betsy Moyer and Ginny Pitchford are sublime.  Distant Drive is but a two-track single consisting of the title track -- which is likely to be on many summer playlists -- and "Wishing Pool".  The record is released on April 22 by Shelflife Records as a limited edition 7" vinyl and as a digital copy. Shelflife will be releasing a full LP for The Luxembourg Signal later this year.

The touchstones of dream pop and C86 are evident, but based on the these tracks The Luxembourg Signal is a noisier, more muscular brand of guitar pop than fans of the members' other band might expect -- perhaps more Popguns that Trembling Blue Stars.  And once you hear it, you will have no complaints whatsoever.  This could well be one of your new favorite bands.

Shelflife Records

REVIEW: TEEN - The Way and Color

TEEN takes its name from lead singer Teeny Lieberson, a multi-instrumentalist who formerly played with Here We Go Magic.  But it could also be called the Lieberson Family Band, with Teeny's sisters Lizzie and Katherine on keys and drums, respectively.  The current lineup is completed by bassist Boshra AlSaadi. Signed to Carpark Records, the band previously has released a debut album titled In Limbo and the Carolina EP.  I saw the band perform in June of 2013, and I was impressed with the quality of their songs, on-stage chemistry and, after a brief conversation with Teeny, their genuine joy at experiencing positive reactions from fans.  Accordingly, I was very interested in hearing their new LP, The Way and Color.

And what is the verdict?  Quite simply, the verdict is "success"!  In my view, The Way and Color is a notable step up for an already promising band.  Combining glossy indie pop, sharp progressive dance pop and slick R&B sounds, this album is exactly what TEEN needed to do to in order to be taken seriously by a wider audience.  The psychedelic and girl-group elements from their past are not totally abandoned, but they are clarified and refined, subjected to razor-sharp songwriting, tight vocal performances and a top-class rhythm section.  This is a well-crafted, energetic pop album to supercharge your springtime.

The Way and Color is available on April 22 via Carpark Records.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Summer's Gone" by Proper Ornaments

Less than a week after featuring a side project of Roxanne Clifford of Veronica Falls (Baggy Attitude, here), we have a song from a band that includes James Hoare of Veronica Falls.  Proper Ornaments also includes fellow singer/songwriter Max Claps, and Daniel Nellis (bass) and Robert Syme (drums).  As the band has signed to Slumberland Records (US) and Fortuna POP! (UK) for its upcoming album, Wooden Head, I was expecting good things.  And based on the delightful "Summer's Gone", it may well exceed my expectations.

There is some interesting backstory about Argentinian Max fleeing to London to dodge a commitment hearing and meeting James during an attempted shoplifting, but that can wait for the review of the album closer to its June release.  For now, rejoice in the arrival of a band that plays West Coast psychedelic jangle pop with a DNA strand from the Velvet Underground.  And here you thought that kind of sublime only existed in your dreams!

Slumberland Records

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"Running Wild" from La Sera, free download

Katy Goodman, aka La Sera, will release her third album on May 13 via Hardly Art.  Our second hint of what to expect on  Hour of the Dawn arrives via "Running Wild".  A racing 3 minutes of poppy garage punk, it is a very good song, and it is a free download!   I'm looking forward to the album.

Hardly Art page for La Sera

Review: Flor

Somewhere I have a cassette Revisioni released in 1993 by the Italian band Flor de Mal, which came to my attention because Natalie Merchant and Peter Buck played on it. Flor de Mal opened for R.E.M. and Radiohead at a stadium show held in their home city of Catania in 1995.

I haven't thought about them in a long time, though Revisioni was terrific. Bur after nearly a 20 year break, the band, shortening its name to Flor, has released a new self-titled LP on The Prisoner Records.

The single "Li Per Me" is fantastic, the sort of jangly rock that this blog and its readers favor whether from New Zealand, Scotland or in this case Sicily:

Flor is a trio - singer-songwriter-guitarist Marcello Cunsolo, Enzo Ruggiero on bass, and drummer Paolo Santagati.

You can listen to the entire LP here:

We are glad they are back.

The Prisoner Records. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Record Store Day pick #4: Tayla Lynn - Coal Dust 7"

So far my Record Store Day picks include a golden piece of Dunedin history (here), a wonderful fuzz pop collaboration (here) and a tasty chunk of alt rock (here).  And now we have my country pick -- Coal Dust, a 7" vinyl EP from Tayla Lynn.  This is just the sort of release that Record Store Day should present to music fans: Emerging talent; excellent songs and appealing packaging in a limited run.  The three tracks include "Coal Dust", a duet of "Honkey Tonk Girl" and an alternative version of "Coal Dust".  The title track is an heartfelt tale of growing up in the Lynn family.  It is a beautiful song, and worthy of leading off any record.  But with its acoustic arrangement and Gospel touches, the alternate version of "Coal Dust" currently is my favorite on the EP.  However, there is no denying the duet is about as special a song as you'll find on Record Store Day, as Tayla is joined by her Grandmother, Loretta Lynn, on an energetic version of one of Loretta's iconic songs.

Here is a recent live performance of "Coal Dust" --

Nashville fans should take note that Tayla will perform on April 19 at Ernest Tubb's Record Shop in Nashville (1 pm).

Tayla Lynn formerly was a member of Stealing Angels.  She is based in Seattle, and recently signed to Nashville's Victor House Records.  A six song EP is planned for this summer.

Victor House Records - Facebook

Record Store Day Pick #3: "Porcupine - I See Sound EP

I grew up in the Midwest, and sometimes nothing fits the mood like Midwest-style rock and roll.  What, exactly, does that mean?  It means rock with chunky chords, muscular rhythms and lead guitar runs that offer no apologies, played on a template of bar band rock and roll and blues rock that makes anyone from the '70s think the world hasn't totally passed them by.  And it isn't just throwback nostalgia -- you heard it in Swervedriver and Queens of the Stone Age as well.  I've found that when people refer to "rock", this is exactly what they mean.

But who does that anymore?  Well, for one, La Crosse, Wisconsin's Porcupine.  John and I have both featured this band several times before.  They are back again with a limited vinyl/digital Record Store Day release via Riot House Records.  It consists of six tracks of the music that satisfies your urge for full-blooded rock, with hints of British Invasion and psychedelia.  This trio writes good songs any executes them to perfection.  Casey Virock (guitar, vocals), Dave Reinders (bass, vocals), and Ian Prince (drums) don't aim for what is fashionable, they aim for what they know they like.  And they have been building a fan base doing just that, so there seem to be a lot of music fans that like it as well.  If you want rock on Record Store Day, think Porcupine.

Here is the link for digital pre-order, and here is the link for vinyl pre-order.

Riot House Records

NEW SONGS: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires - "The Weeds Downtown" and "The Company Man"

It's fitting to share this newest track from Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires on a Rolling Stones Friday, as I find more than a trace of "Rocks Off" in it. Lee may be the most compelling front man in rock music today... we've certainly been on board with them since their first track came across our transom back in 2012. Sub Pop did a smart thing, because The Glory Fires have the potential to be the kind of "niche/mass appeal" band that label has served well in the past. The punk attitude and the classic rock riffs would (well, usually do) sound stiff or hackneyed in others' hands. Here, they're just evidence of the, well, glory of Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires.

The album is entitled Dereconstructed. Like WYMA favorites R.E.M., these guys are showing their Southern roots, and their erudition, right up front, and holding them up for examination... with a healthy helping of junkyard outsider art on the cover.

Here's "The Company Man" - revealed last month via YouTube:

The album's out May 27, but you can pre-order now via Sub Pop and get some goodies.

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires Website
LB3 at Sub Pop

Rolling Stones Friday: Sympathy For the Devil

This one is especially for our many Catholic readers on Good Friday -- "Sympathy for the Devil", the Stones compelling hypnotic samba, looking at history through Lucifer's eyes, referencing Christ's crucifixion ("Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate").

The lead track on Beggars Banquet (1969), "Sympathy for the Devil" represents a high water mark for the Stones in terms of both bold creativity and sheer musical power. The song was reportedly written by Mick Jagger.

In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Jagger said, "I think [Sympathy] was taken from an old idea of Baudelaire's, I think, but I could be wrong. Sometimes when I look at my Baudelaire books, I can't see it in there. But it was an idea I got from French writing. And I just took a couple of lines and expanded on it. I wrote it as sort of like a Bob Dylan song."    

The song has so many memorable elements, notably the "woo-woo" background vocals (reportedly belonging to Marianne Faithfull, Anita Pallenberg, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, and producer Jimmy Miller), Nicky Hopkins' rhythmic piano, the Latin jazz drums of Charlie Watts, and the congas (Rocky Dijon) and maracas (Bill Wyman). Inspired musicality in all regards.

Here's the studio version:

There are a great many live versions out there, notably the footage from the tragic concert in 1969 at the Altamont Speedway in California, but the best performance I came across was this one, recorded in 1969 in London's Hyde Park, Mick Taylor by then with the band:

Thanks to Frank Fahey for suggesting this song on this day. We're always open to your requests and suggestions for Rolling Stones Friday. We still have 36 weeks and thus 36 Stones songs to feature here at WYMA in 2014.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New French Garage Psych Discovery: Les Rivals - Les Rivals

Les Rivals are a French garage rock outfit playing in a style that incorporates a 60's proto-punk approach with an intriguing 70's British punk influence. Like some of the other acts we've seen from Casbah Records (Mesa Cosa, Future Primitives, Owen Temple Quartet), they are proud of their raw, unfiltered attack, and rightly so. But there's more to the record - the 11 tracks here feature some variety, leavening the minimalist approach with touches like the reverb-laden twelve-string guitar on “Halfway There”, the sitar on “Take Me For A Ride”, and even oboe and harpsichord on “The Park”. "Falling From The Shelter" just swings, with keyboards and guitar jangle right up front.

Here is "Glory Days" - shades of Ian Dury and other classic 70's/80's British punk, delivered by what sounds for all the world like a Guy Ritchie character:

And here is "Police Station" - expansive, psychedelic and snotty, a great mix of punk and 60's garage rock:

This is out now, released in March on Casbah Records. We've learned to pay attention when we get something from these folks, and you should too.

Les Rivals at Casbah Records
Les Rivals Bandcamp Page

Baggy Attitude 7" Flexi Disc - Record Store Day pick #2

This two-track release from Baggy Attitude is my second Record Store Day pick.  I admit that technically this isn't even a Record Store Day release, but I'm not big on following rules.  It is limited and hard to find, we are close to Record Store Day, and I think it is very good.  That is enough for me.

Baggy Attitude are Roxanne Clifford from the brilliant UK group Veronica Falls and Jess Scott from the wonderful San Francisco band Brilliant Colors.  The songs are covers of "Don't Ask Me" and "Swimming Pool", which were penned by Chris Knox of Dunedin, New Zealand legends Tall Dwarfs and Toy Love.  The release is a 7" flexi put out by Wacky Wacko.  By the way, I can't take any great credit for discovering this release, as I found it mentioned in this indie music blog from New Zealand:  Pop Lib blog.  The man knows what he is talking about.

Wacky Wacko

Witching Waves - Concrete single

London duo Emma Wigham and Mark Jasper are Witching Waves, a garage band that has an unbridled, exciting sound.  The duo take turns on the guitar and drum kit, and they both sing.  The Concrete single featured here is a two-track cassette to be released in a super limited run of 100 tapes by our friends at Soft Power Records.  The title track is a straight ahead lo-fi garage rocker with jangling, scratching guitar, a steady beat and male/female vocals.  It isn't happy, but it is very captivating.  The second track, "Chain of Command", begins sweet and then explodes with pounding drums and snarling guitar.

Yes, just two tracks and fewer than eight minutes.  But it is enough to conclude that this is a band to watch.  And I think that another release for Soft Power is planned for later this year, so you won't have to yearn long.   But back to the present -- with only 100 copies available, you may want to jump on this one at the pre-order stage rather than wait for the April 21 release.

Witching Waves on Tumblr
Witching Waves on Soundcloud
Soft Power Records' Bandcamp page for release
Soft Power Records Website

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

REVIEW: Musi-O-Tunya - Give Love To Your Children

Give Love to Your Children is an amazing record, a medley of sweet soul, Afrobeat, funk and pure psychedelia (with some amazing, truly breathtaking fuzzy lead electric guitar). Musi-O-Tunya was a groundbreaking band at the forefront of a thriving mid-70's rock scene in Zambia, featuring artists who would go on to have very successful solo careers. Rikki Ililonga is a Zamrock superstar, as were fellow group members drummer Brian Chengala and guitarist Wayne Barnes.

Give Love To Your Children was their last album (and this package also features a few out-of-print singles to complete the story). In this fantastic record, you can hear the influences of Fela, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Cream - a host of soul and psychedelic rock influences, and on tracks like "When I'm Gone" and "Njala" they are particularly well-synthesized. The guitar work on "Sunkha" is sprawling, and along with a great horn section, makes an unforgettable noise. "Starving Child" features another great horn section, gentle rhythms, slightly more understated guitar and a suitably mournful vocal - it's impeccable, really.

Now-Again is known for the quality of its reissues, and this set from 1976 is certainly emblematic. As a taste, here is a free download of "When I'm Gone".

You can learn more and buy at Now-Again Records. The initial pressing is sold out, but the music is still available, as are other Zamrock reissues... and I'll try to be more timely in the future.

REVIEW: Chet Faker - Built on Glass

This sort of masterfully assured combination of R&B, electronics and chillwave is to be hoped for from the top producers and singers working Berlin, London and New York, and poorly imitated by the rest.  Except for the untidy fact that this Built on Glass is the debut album from Melbourne singer and producer Nick Murphy, working as Chet Faker.  The melding of components is not only seamless, but complimentary.  This is an electronic album that manages to be rich, warm, and captivating without resort to any gimmicks.  It is soulful and smooth, but with some interesting touches bubbling along just below the surface.  Try the "Talk Is Cheap", "Melt" and "1998" below to get a taste of the range on this album.  The first two are in the R&B camp, but "1998" stretches a bit further and hints as additional heights to be accomplished in the future.

Chet Faker has a high profile in Australia, built on a single previous EP and his live shows, so I wouldn't be surprised to read some skepticism regarding his ability to rise to the advance hype. Of course, that is an opinion that you can and will make on your own, but I find this to be one of the more satisfying electronic albums I've heard since Jon Hopkins' Immunity last year.  And if you want to experience Chet Faker live and you are in North America, I've provided the upcoming dates at the bottom of the post.

I'm at the point of my life when planning seductions isn't part of the schedule (it isn't that I'm unromantic -- it's just that world famous music writers don't have to seduce, we get seduced), but in listening to this album it occurs to me that this album would be the right choice for an intimate dinner of my specially prepared "catch a girl fish").


Currently Scheduled North American Tour Dates:
May 13 Brooklyn, NY - Output
May 14 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
May 15 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
May 16 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
May 17 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
May 19 Toronto, ON – The Hoxton
May 20 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
May 22 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
May 23 Vancouver, BC – Fortune Sound Club
May 24 George, WA – Sasquatch Festival, George Amphitheatre
May 26 San Francisco, CA – The Independent
May 27 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
May 29 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy
May 30 San Diego, CA – Casbah
May 31 Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
Jun 01 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress
Jun 03 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
Jun 04 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
Jun 06 Dallas, TX – Club Dada
Jun 07 Austin, TX – The Parish

"Minha Menina" from Donovan Blanc; free download

This post offers you a free song, but also serves as a teaser for the debut album from Donovan Blanc, which will be released via Captured Tracks on June 24.  While the New Jersey band is new to us, its members are not.  Joseph Black and Raymond Schwab previously were in Honeydrum, a band which featured numerous times on these pages over the years.  The song is "Minha Menina" (trans: "My Girl"), and is a track from the upcoming album.  With soft vocals, jangling guitars and a nice melody, I think it suggests very good things for the upcoming album.  The vibe is relaxed, but not languid, and hints of Brazilian influences.  While it shares the attention to detail that marked Honeydrum's work, the sound is cleaner.   Stream it or watch the video below. The Soundcloud link has a download button.


NEW SONG: Centro-matic - "Salty Disciple"

This qualifies as the best music news of the week for me: a new track from Centro-matic is always cause for celebration. "Salty Disciple" is a long track with a few changes, and like Centro-matic's last album, 2011's universally WYMA-acclaimed Candidate Waltz, it contains some new sounds - a bracing keyboard fanfare right at the beginning, some growling guitar, and a sort of sly, understated, in places spoken vocal approach. Like so many of my favorite Centro-matic tracks, it starts off with a good Matt Pence drum intro and fills out into a terrific chorus. Yeah, it's a familiar musical formula, but there aren't too many artists doing the chorus better than these guys.

Lyrical snippet for reflection: "Maybe you were just plucking it out of books and not living it..."

The album, titled Take Pride In Your Long Odds, will be out June 3. I can't wait.

By the way, they'll also be releasing a double vinyl version of Redo The Stacks at the same time, but will have 30 copies available for RSD in Austin, and online beginning next week. Check the website to learn more.

Centro-matic website

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

REVIEW: Omi Palone - Omi Palone

Well, the self-titled debut LP from Omi Palone is an absolutely wonderful surprise, akin to discovering a lost set of tapes from an '80s recording session on New Zealand's south island with added hints of early R.E.M.  A baritone lead vocal with others singing in unison, a distinctive bass line and upfront drums adding a steely backbone for the twanging, jangling guitars and robust chords.  The music is melodic, enveloping.  The lyrics are pointed, intimate, concise, and the writer shows no fear of dark places or difficult themes.  The vibe is relaxed and confident, if a bit moody, but the band is tight.  There is a punk energy and pace underneath the jangling guitars.

There is no filler in this eight song sets, and I'd be hard pressed to find a favorite.  While I was listening to the album and writing this post I hit the repeat button several times for "Void", which sounds like it came from The Bats' Daddy's Highway and the energetic closer "Sleepwalk".  But I'd be happy to have any of the songs showcase the record.  This may be the coolest little album you'll hear this spring.

Omi Palone is Philip, Simon, Liam and Jack, and they are based in London.  Prior to this album they released a cassette and two split 7" records.  Omi Palone is a joint release by Faux Discx and Negative Space, and is available now.  There are limited vinyl LPs and digital downloads.

Faux Discx
Negative Space Records

Record Store Day: The Minus 5 "Scott The Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror"

Record Day should be a national holiday. Though at least it's on a Saturday. And it is this Saturday.
Certainly the grandest Record Day release that I've heard about is The Minus 5's 5 LP box set entitled Scott the Hoople in The Dungeon Of Horror. That's all new material mind you, and all vinyl, in fact colored vinyl.  55 songs, 5 LPs, The Minus 5 - capiche?

Look here comes one now - "All The Trouble I've Made":

The Scott in question here is Minus 5 ringleader Scott McCaughey (The Baseball Project, Young Fresh Fellows, R.E.M.). The dungeon in question is apparently the home studio in McCaughey's basement where for the past two years, he's been bringing in band members (including Peter Buck) and various visiting musicians to record a new song or three. The Hoople in question is of course Mott the Hoople,  who are one of the The Minus 5's inspirations.

One more: "Adios Half Soldier":

It being Scott McCaughey, we can expect smart songwriting, elements of garage/jangle rock/punk/British invasion, with keen wit and superior rock'n'roll playing from the likes of Peter Buck, Steve Wynn, many of The Decemberists, and various Portland and Seattle all stars.

We'll close with an especially great one from Scott The Hoople in the Dungeon of Horror, "Blue Rickenbacker Guitar", done live at this year's SXSW, with the sublime Ms. Linda Pitmon on drums:

Yep Roc Records - release info
Facebook - The Minus 5