Friday, October 31, 2014

Wolf Girl - Mama's Boy

May I introduce Wolf Girl, a South London four-piece consisting of Chris, Carl, Becky, and Christabel?  They make incredibly infectious garage pop with male/female vocals, high energy, and wit.  There are jagged edges, and maybe even some jagged hearts, but the doo wop choruses hook you in and the vein of sugar binds it all together.  Their art is getting an official physical release via the cassette version of the five-track Mama's Boy EP.  Opener "Good For Nothing" and the following "Freudian Slips are racing twee at a punk pace.  "I Will Be" is a very sweet '60s-style nugget.  Rocking out in garage mode is the game plan for "Hear In Your Head".  The record's closing song, "Sampson", is the only song to break the two minute mark, and the only one that doesn't race at full speed.  But while all the tracks are good, "Sampson" also is the track that one might point to in predicting that Wolf Girl is a band that will have much to offer us in the future.

The Mama's Boy cassettes will be available from Soft Power Records.  Although the release date is November 17, the release is limited to 100 copies, and a record this good is likely to be snapped up in the pre-order stage.  Buy yourself a copy, wrap it in Christmas paper with your name on it, and sign "a secret admirer".

Bandcamp for record
Soft Power Records

Rolling Stones Friday: Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow

"Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow" has always been a guilty pleasure for me. It feels a bit tossed off, I have no idea what it's about, and overall it is not a great Stones song. The Stones themselves reportedly didn't like the final mix and believe the rhythm tracks got watered down to the song's detriment.

But regardless, I like the rumbling feel of the song, the horn lines (it's the first Stones song with horns) and the overall psychedelic vibe. And it's just catchy as can be and sounds great.

Here's the recorded version from 1966:

And we'll leave you with a terrific live version from the Ed Sullivan Show in 1967, with Keith on piano, Charlie playing it cool on the drums, and check out Brian Jones' suit!:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Los Tones - Psychotropic

Please don't tell Sydney's Los Tones that the '60s are over.  Please.  Their brand of bluesy, psychedelic, surfy garage rock is perfect for ears that crave such sounds -- like mine.  And now that the band has given us Psychotropic -- a full LP of the delicious stuff -- we can band together to protect this treasure and keep the pipeline going.  We can do it -- don't mention the date!

This is dirty, gritty, primal garage, the stuff you fell in love with when you first heard The Sonics' belt out "Psycho", "The Witch", or "Strychnine".  The band has released singles previously, some of which were featured here, but I believe that Psychotropic is their debut album.  It is available in digital, CD and vinyl versions.  All versions can be sourced, and the entire album streamed, via the Bandcamp link below.

Los Tones are Bodie (guitar/vocals), Shaun (bass/vocals), Leigh (drums/vocals), and Nick (guitar/vocals).  They recently completed a European tour.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tomorrows Tulips - When

When, the latest album from Costa Mesa, California's Tomorrows Tulips, is raw and lo-fi, with a '90s fuzz rock core and hints of glam and slow rock.  At times is sounds like a recently discovered trove of acoustic demos from the Velvet Underground or The Jesus and Mary Chain.  Perhaps the vibe could be called 'garage rock on codeine'.  I'm not going to pretend that everyone will read that description and exclaim "oh goody, that's for me".  It is, however, something I like.  The guitar tones are just right, and for me the album appealingly matches raw emotions with a raw sound.

The album begins with "Baby", a 1:11 garage glam burst.  The following "Surplus Store" is a throbbing mid-tempo song that manages to bounce along while creating a bummer atmosphere.  "Laying in the Sun" dials down proceedings another notch at the beginning, but offers a pleasing vocal hook.  Then it turns electric before returning to acoustic, while remaining languid.  Following tracks include rumbling lo-fi electric songs (for example, "When") and atmospheric acoustic tunes.  Some songs, such as "Favorite Episode", offer both.  For my tastes, "I Lay in My Bed" and "Glued to You", and "Plan It Peace" work the best, perhaps because they all remind me of TJAMC's The Power of Negative Thinking.  Tomorrows Tulips doesn't invent anything here, and their songs won't change your world.  And of course, it was never their intent to do so.  But I expect that they made the songs they wanted to make, and I'm happy to have them.  For me, after the opening track, the second half of the album is better than the first, but your experience may not be the same.

When was released on October 7 via Burger Records in the US, Strange Yonder in Australia and Ayo Silver in Europe.

Here are videos for "Baby" (NSFW) and "Glued to You" (NSFW), and the steams for "Glued to You" and "Papers by the TV" --

Burger Records (US label)
Strange Yonder (Australian label)
Ayo Silver (European label)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

REVIEW: Tangerine - Behemoth! EP

It isn't hard to be enthusiastic about the Seattle music scene.  Vibrant and varied, it offers indie pop, psychedelic, blues, metal, hip hop, electronic, pop, reggae, country and probably anything else your heart desires.  Not surprisingly, in Seattle and everywhere else a lot of gems get lost in the shuffle, and that's where we step in;  we champion the bands working for attention, and with the talent to deserve attention, rather plug someone with a big label contract.  But even given our self-selected mission statement (and our steadfast and noble refusal to accept the under the table money and perks offered to us by the major labels), some bands stand out as more ready for prime time, more deserving of major exposure, than others.  One of those bands is Tangerine.

Yes, tangerine is a lively color and a nutritious snack.  But Tangerine also is a Seattle band that deserves to be nationally known.  Their range is impressive, from pristine pop to west coast indie rock.  In Marika Justad (vocals/guitar/keys), Tangerine has a frontwoman with an incredible voice, powerful and equally capable of rocker girl mode or plaintive pop siren.  Her sister Miro (vocals/drums), provides vocal support, and counterpoint, as demanded by the material.  Ryan Baker (bass/vocals) teams with Miro as the band's rhythm section, and rarely do you hear a young indie band with a backbone so on point, so, well, consider it a party within the party.  Toby Kuhn (lead guitar/vocals) possesses a remarkable range of guitar skills, and delivers confident shredding episodes that solidify the band's rock credentials.  Moreover, the foursome seems tight knit, cohesive and, relevant in today's market, photogenic.

Of course, the foregoing positive attributes might not mean much without good material, but Tangerine also write excellent songs.  Their two 2013 EPs, Pale Summer and Radical Blossom, were stuffed with indie rock nuggets, with equal measures of ragged fuzz, sugar, gnarly rock and promise.  Today, the band self-released the Behemoth! EP, a seven-track fulfillment of that promise.  The ragged edges are trimmed a bit, but not so much that the band could be accused of abandoning rock.  The performances are tighter, and the material is expertly crafted.  Behemoth! starts out strongly with the bright and energetically chugging opening track "You'll Always Be Lonely", displaying the band's vocal and instrumental abilities, and loud-soft, fast-slow dynamics.  The following "Tidal Wave" dials back the volume but delivers one of the sweetest songs of the set, and notable vocal interplay between Mariko and Miro.  The previously released "Nothing Better" establishes the band's pop credentials in triumphant fashion.  "I Fell Down", the fourth song has a wonderfully retro sound, with Mariko's yearning vocal lead and Toby's garage chord accents.  Every time I hear it I'm tempted to ask someone to save me the last dance (you may now feel sorry for my secretary).  The fifth track, "Tiny Islands" is a bright slice of garage with pop flourishes.  "Runes" gives the rhythm section a chance to take the stage for the first minute and a half, and then the song explodes into indie pop perfection.  Album closer, "Northern Line", is four and a half minutes of delightful dream pop.

Three tracks are available to view/stream below.  But you also can listen to Behemoth! EP on Spotify.  And I urge you to do so because as good as those songs are, my current favorite tracks are "Tidal Wave", "I Fell Down" and "Runes".  For those who are as impressed with Behemoth! as I am, the record is available at the iTunes link below.  If you are lucky enough to attend a Tangerine show, there probably will be physical copies available as well.

iTunes link for EP

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shivery Shakes Three Waves & A Shake

Austin's Shivery Shakes are a breath of fresh air -- their Three Waves & A Shake delivers a bit of jangle, a bit of twang, a bit of roots rock, a bit of surf, and plenty of reverb and polish.  Although the lyrical content nestled in the nostalgic chords re-imagined for the slacker world can defy the happy sound, the songs bounce along with buoyant bass and energetic drumming.  So while someone might cry to the heartache and #youngguysproblems, it probably won't be the listeners.  In style of composition, the band seems to borrow a bit from fellow Texans Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, and Britt Daniel of Spoon, while coming across as an imitator of no one.  And given the quality of the songs, I think Roy, Buddy and Britt would be proud to be listed as influences.  As there are no filler tracks, everyone may have different favorites, but for me, "Hold On", the jangling "Remember When", and the '60s flavored "Summer Lover".   So play the tracks below and stream the entire album at the Bandcamp link.  I suggest that you may be prompted to hold on to summer a bit longer by buying piece of The Shivery Shakes.

The Shivery Shakes are William Glossup (vocals/guitar/bass/piano/vibes), Marcus Haddon (vocals/percussion), Andrew Penmer (bass) and Jack Thorton.  Three Waves & A Shake is out now via Punctum Records and Austin Town Hall Records.  The boys are touring a bit in November; the dates are listed at the bottom of this post.

Bandcamp for album (and digital download)
Punctum Records
Austin Town Hall Records order page for album


11.12.14 – Phoenix, AX @ The Lost Leaf
11.13.14 – Los Angeles, CA @ Ham & Eggs Tavern
11.15.14 – Oakland, CA @ We Are Scandinavia
11.16.14 – San Francisco, CA @ Amnesia
11.18.14 – Portland, OR @ Valentine’s
11.19.14 – Seattle, WA @ Victory Lounge
11.20.14 – Boise, ID @ The Crux
11.21.14  - Salt Lake City, UT @ Diabolical Records
11.22.14 – Denver, CO @ Savoy

Friday, October 24, 2014

Prom - Keeping Company EP

Brooklyn's Prom makes engaging dream pop, featuring soaring vocals and synths over a driving drum cadence and stabs of thick bass.  Your musical introduction to the band is available now via their just released Keeping Company EP, available on Crazy Heart Records.  I like to think of it as dream pop anthems for people who might like to dance a bit.  Making music that is cinematic, romantic and pulsing enough to move your feet is a talent to cherish, so we hope Prom keeps at it.  We've included two tracks below.  If you only think you have time for one, try "Switch On"; you'll likely try the other one as well.  You can stream the entire album at the Soundcloud link below.

Prom is Ella Zoller and Gabriel Stanley.

Soundcloud for EP
Crazy Heart Records

Rolling Stones' bassist Bill Wyman is 78 today.

Older than dirt and probably still dating girls younger than my sons. Bill has never received his due credit. The Stones are not just Jagger and Richard.  Jagger and Richard are notoriously renowned for "forgetting" to give Wyman writing cit. After Wyman quit the band in 1990, after nearly three decades service, Bob Dylan said:  "I'm not saying they don't keep going, but they need Bill," he said. "Without him they're a funk band. They'll be the real Rolling Stones when they get Bill back."

Before the Stones were just a funk band Wyman and Charlie Watts were the glue holding the band together. Listening closely to Wyman's bass lines is one of my RnR pleasures. Dig in and enjoy to a few of my favorites.

"Paint It Black' 1966 "I loved recording 'Paint It, Black,'" Wyman told Bass Player magazine. "When I laid on the floor and pumped the organ pedal with my fist, because I can’t play with my feet, that rhythm kind of made the record, because it was lacking something before I suggested doing that."

" Gimme Shelter" 1969 Wyman's bass is simple and perfect for the mood of the song. A sinister groove thanks to Wyman and Watts

"19th Nervous Breakdown" 1966    Wyman's r bass runs at the song's end are the exclamation point To a Jagger-Richard rave up on Bob Dylan. The song hit No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 2 in the States.

" Jumpin Jack Flash" 1969: In his autobiography 'Stone Alone,' Wyman gives himself credit for the main riff of the song. "We got to the studio early, there was just myself, Brian and Charlie," he explains. "I was just messing about at the piano and started doing this riff, da-daw, da-da-daw, da-da-daw, then Brian played a bit of guitar and Charlie was doing a rhythm. Mick and Keith came in and said, 'Hey, that sounded really good, what is it?'"

"Miss You" 1978: "I suppose you could say I created what was happening on 'Miss You,'" Wyman boasted to Bass Player magazine. "The walking bass, that octave bass thing. After that, just about every band in the world took that idea at the time and used it in a song."


Rolling Stones Friday: Not Fade Away

The Beatles famously modeled their name after Buddy Holly's band, while the Rolling Stones first US single, released in 1964, was a cover of Buddy Holly's 1957 hit "Not Fade Away".

I selected this song today just so I could show you this very early and amazing TV footage of the Stones:

Of course, Buddy Holly built "Not Fade Away" on a classic Bo Diddley beat, which itself was lifted from traditional "hambone" West African rhythm. And on and on it goes.

But look at the 1964 photo top above: The Stones almost look like Buddy Holly and the Crickets!:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Leisure Suite - Leisure Suite EP

Today's question for you is whether a band of which you were completely unaware before opening this post could become one of your favorite electro-pop bands by the end of the day.  Of course, the answer will depend on your individual tastes, but Leisure Suite certainly sounds like a solid candidate to me.  A three-piece from Melbourne consisting of Mitchell, Bridgette and Su, their music is a trippy guitar and synth-based pop featuring spare beats and Bridgette Le's sultry vocals.  Two of the tracks on this self-titled EP previously appeared as singles, but the EP is their first longer release.  The first two offerings, "Great Expectations" and "Ease Away" are downtempo, atmospheric songs.  The delightful "Haze" picks up the pace and could easily slot into the playlist for the dancefloor.  The introspective "Falling Under" circles back to the chillwave of the first two tracks, while allowing Bridgette to showcase her vocal prowess.  Thematically, the songs cover the expectations place on you by others, looking ahead to the future, and relationships that don't work,

While this introduction to Leisure Suite is but four songs deep, I think there is sufficient evidence to make this a band to which I'll pay attention.  The songs are well constructed with no ragged edges, and the band members evince genuine talent in their performances.  This is perfect music for fall afternoons.   Give it a listen below.

Leisure Suite is released by the re-born Deaf Ambitions label.  It is a digital release so you should be able to find it at the usual digital outlets.

Deaf Ambitions

"Sister" from Sharptooth

Nico Miller, Kate Miller, Jess Gunn, and Lauren Campbell are four women from the Highlands and Glasgow that comprise Sharptooth.  The Glasgow-based band's music seems to me to be fuzz-pop noir.  The haunting little tunes may not help you sleep tight if you listen to them before bed, but I think they are well done and compelling.  This past spring Sharptooth released the Cut Me Open cassette via Number4Door Records (digital copies remain available at the link at the bottom of the post).  Now the sharp guys at Fuzzkill Records are offering the band's latest track, "Sister" as a cassette and digital download.  With lo-fi, crashing guitars, an ominous lead vocal and haunting chorus, "Sister" makes a distinctive, and distinctly positive, impression.

Sharptooth on Facebook
Order page for "Sister"
Fuzzkill Records on Facebook
Link to previous EP

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Honest" by Oceans

Efe Tekkanat's prior musical incarnation as a punk rocker probably gave little hint of his promise as an electronica artist.  But based on the evidence provided by "Honest", his first single for Helsinki's Soliti Music label.  The 19-year old Finn, performing as Oceans, offers an insistent, eminently danceable groove, but includes R&B vocals that suggest Efe understands the value of adding warmth to his compositions.  We're looking forward to more from Oceans.

Soliti Music

REVIEW: The Luxembourg Signal - The Luxembourg Signal

Shelflife Records is one of the most reliably delightful little labels in our universe, so we are always willing to pay attention to one of their releases.  Their latest nugget is the self-titled debut album from The Luxembourg Signal, and guitar pop fans may well judge it to be one of the best releases this autumn.  Treading -- or maybe swaggering down -- the line between dream pop and shoegaze, with hints of '90s college rock, this band sounds like a Sarah Records band reborn with the benefit of added power sources and a more mature outlook on songwriting.  And that may be because, more or less, that's what this band is.  Members Johnny Joyner, Beth Arzy and Brian Espinosa, all of whom were with Sarah Records darling Aberdeen (and Fonda and Trembling Blue Stars), started The Luxembourg Signal with Betsy Moyer and Ginny Pitchford.

The ten tracks on The Luxembourg Signal are emotionally rich thematically and musically.  Arzy's perpetually youthful vocals remain a sweetly commanding focal point, while the guitars crash, thunder and soar in support.  The previously released second track "Distant Drive" heralded the guitar power that the band would deliver on this recording.  But the band's depth is revealed by the more pop oriented third and fourth tracks, "Heaven" and "She Loves to Feel the Sun".   Track five, "First Light", unspools like a delicious slice of Echo and the Bunnymen or Bauhaus, with shoegaze overdrive.  The sixth and seventh tracks, "Drowning" and "Wishing Pool", envelope the listener in waves of thick, jangling guitars. "Un-Phased" is a brief and gentle instrumental, and serves as a delightful lead-in to the driving dream pop "We Go On", which may ultimately be one of many fans' favorites on this album.  The album closer, "Let It Go" is a surprising and perfectly constructed jam, with near top 40 bounce and a delightful vocal hook wrapped in shoegaze.

The Luxembourg Signal is an LA-based band, although Arzy still resides in the UK so recording time together is limited.  I don't know what that all means for the future recording output from the band, but I do know that this first effort is amazingly good and I highly recommend it.

The Luxembourg Signal is available in digital, vinyl and compact disc formats.

Shelflife Records

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Braves - Seapunk

Braves are Alex, Kieran, Liam, and Simon, and they reside in Perth, Western Australia.  They think you should get to know their music, and they have made it easy for you -- their five-track Seapunks EP is available for 'name your price'.  Of course, we don't want you to waste your time, so we have bravely tested the album to make sure that it is up to our high standards.  We started at the beginning with the surf punk of the title track, the garage of "True Feelings", the dream pop of "Losing You", the jangling "First Train to Squaresville" and the garage jam of "I Don't Surf".  The committee then conferred, and concluded as follows:  THIS IS REALLY GOOD STUFF, SO STOP READING THIS BLATHER, GO TO BANDCAMP AND DOWNLOAD THIS ALBUM.  AND CONSIDER GIVING THE LADS A FEW DOLLARS SO THEY CAN BUY NEW GUITAR STRINGS AND BEER.


Introducing: Little May

CMJ Music Week brings new international talent to the United States every October.  Some just play in New York, while some book a few other dates.  Fortunately for many of us who can't make any CMJ shows, the bands often time a release to coincide with their shows.  One such talent we've decided to feature is Sydney, Australia's Little May.  The trio consists of Liz Drummond, Hannah Field, and Annie Hamilton, and their sound is a dark and atmospheric folk rock with hints of country.  Particularly because of the female vocals, harmonies and guitar-focused instrumentation, the band draws comparisons to First Aid Kit, Haim, and even late-70s Fleetwood Mac.  But I submit that such references are just general references, and this band is not just trying to follow anyone.  Little May write good songs with plenty of personality, and perform them in convincing fashion.  Not content to rely only on vocals, the trio delivers a full sound with big guitars and prominent percussion.  Their five-track Little May EP has just been released by Capitol, and you can stream it below.  We have also included the video for lead track, "Dust".

Little May's CMJ-related shows are as follows:

10/21 - Rockwood Music Hall - 10:30PM
10/22 - Rough Trade - 9PM
10/24 - Mercury Lounge - 10PM
10/25 - Pianos - 1:30PM
10/25 - The Delancey  - 12:15-12:40AM (late Saturday night)


Monday, October 20, 2014

Andras & Oscar - Cafe Romantica

Andras Fox and Oscar Key Sung enjoy solo careers, but also collaborate in making warm, romantic house and electonica.  Their 2013 EP Embassy Cafe for Dutch label Dopeness Galore introduced their music to the world, and has led to their full length, Cafe Romantica.  The tracks vary between seductive and reflective, with a sophisticated sheen to the grooves and bubbling melodies, highlighting that what really makes this collaboration special, in addition to talent, is the shared lightness of touch and subtlety of expression.  The duo eschews the rafter-shaking chorus and dirty drop and grind of much house music for something more suggestive of the little joys of moving one's feet with one's friends and falling in love.  The result is an album that is more than dance music; it is a sexy pop album that you can take with you and enjoy doing just about anything.  And I suggest that you can justifiably commend yourself on your good taste while doing it.

Cafe Romantica is out in Australia and New Zealand via Melbourne's Chapter Music, and is released in the rest of the world by Dopeness Galore.

Facebook for Andras Fox
Facebook for Oscar Key Sung
Bandcamp for album
Chapter Music
Dopeness Galore

REVIEW: Mark Martyre - Red Letters

Eight tracks of poetic folk and Americana (or is it Canadiana?) comprise Red Letters, the new album from Toronto poet and singer songwriter Mark Martyre.  The themes are personal and reflective and the tone is warm.  The minimal instrumental accompaniment of guitar, bass, violin, piano and, at times, accordion allows focus to center on the true stars of the songs, Mark's words, and his gravelly voice.  Most of the tracks are downtempo, but Mark ups the pace for personal favorite "I Wasn't Born to Lose You" and the piano romp of "My Baby's Gone A Flyin'".

My personal reaction to Martyre's album is that, at its most basic level, it is about textures.  Certainly and most obviously, those textures include layers of various instruments and Mark's voice.  But the most lasting impact is the emotional textures created by Mark's words, aided by his inflection, and use of space and timing to underscore the emotions.  True artistry is the ability to use restraint to emphasize the depth of feeling, and that ability is quietly loud on Red Letters.

Red Letters was released on October 14, and is available as a digital download or CD at the Bandcamp link below.


R.I.P. reggae legend John Holt

John Holt, one of the giants of Reggae's golden years, died yesterday in a London hospital at age 67.  A famed vocalist and successful songwriter, his career spanned his entry in talent shows when he was in the mid-'50s to his last album release in 2003.  As a vocalist, he enjoyed success as a solo artist, in duets, and in the group The Paragons.  Some may recall that The Paragons recorded the original version of "The Tide Is High", which later was a hit for Blondie.  While he recorded socially conscious and Rastafarian related material, he probably was best known for his romantic, "lovers rock" recordings.  To remind you of his talent, I've included clips of his Rocksteady hit for the Treasure Isle label, "Ali Baba", his lovers rock hit for Studio One "I Want A Love I Can Feel", and the original version of "The Tide Is High".

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Shine A Light" from Sampology, feat. Daniel Merriweather

Brisbane's Sam Poggioli is a breath of fresh air on the music scene.  As Sampology, he creates joy-infused dance music that pleases your ears and ignites your feet.   And he also creates wonderful visual accompaniment.  It seems that a US album is due in June of 2015, but Sam and two other collaborators are in the US now to play live shows, including several at CMJ.  The remaining dates are at the bottom of this post.  For an introduction to Sam's audio-visual talents, enjoy the video below for "Shine A Light", featuring Daniel Merriweather and Sam's visual creations.

Remaining Shows on Tour
Wed 10/22 | Sampology Ft. Tom Thum | CMJ x Beat Pie @ Santos Party House | 12:10 AM - 12:35 AM | NYC
Sat 10/25 | Sampology (DJ Set) | Aussie BBQ w/ Dune Rats, Gossling, Bad//Dreems and More@ the Delancey NYC | 12 AM - 2 AM | NYC

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rolling Stones Friday: The Last Time

"The Last Time" is officially credited as the first UK single by the Stones written by Jagger-Richards. The song was recorded in Hollywood, CA in January 1965 and went to no. 1 on the UK charts just a few months later.

Keith Richards much later admitted however, that "The Last Time" was lifted from a 1955 Staples Singers song called "This May Be The Last Time".

Here is the Stones version:

And the Staple Singers:

Larceny notwithstanding, Brian Jones' guitar riff in the Stones' version is one of the most distinctive of its era and a great moment in Stones history. It's a terrific single, one of my favorites.

And almost 50 years later, the Stones are still playing this song. Here's a recent live version from a 2013 show in Los Angeles:

"The Last Time" has been covered by many, including Bruce Springsteen, Arcade Fire, The Who and Bobby Bare (Sr.). But the band most associated with the song, other than the Stones, is the Grateful Dead who frequently covered it, including this slow building, excellent version from 1992: 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

REVIEW: Fair Maiden - Fair Maiden

The name Fair Maiden may not spark recognition in the portion of your brain that stores facts about music, but I suggest that listening to opening track "India", with Ellen Carey's ghostly vocals over a ominous tom beat will be enough to get you interested in the self-titled debut from this Australian band.  And the delights offered by the following seven tracks are varied indeed.  "Lord" is a dark, bluegrassy sing-a-long ("Lord, Lord summon me/bring charges to me now") in which Carey creates a narrator so certain of her hopeless state that it brings a smile; "Wait for You" is a sweet country love song, perfect for the hayride.  "Poison" is an atmospheric, slow-tempo cautionary tale.  The folk lament "Sad Song" features sparse instrumentation and otherworldly female vocals. "Blue Moon" and "Darlin" are re-imagined '60s pop, and if you are like me, "Darlin" will draw a few hits on the replay button.  The closer, "Lady of Fortune" is a chugging folk rock song that showcases the powerful harmonies of Carey and female collaborators.

The project started way back in 2008, with Ellen Carey, a veteran of several other bands, working on some songs.  They've incubated over time, and attracted other musicians -- Ellen's brother Joel Carey and Liam Kenny in the past, Steph Crase, Hamish Baird and Noah Renolds in the present.  The album's influences can be found in the folk and pop of the '60s, but Carey's eclectic songwriting, thematic choices and dark sense of humor result in a timeless and thoroughly enjoyable album.  Buy it, play it, it will make you happy.

Fair Maiden is out now via Bedroom Suck Records, and via Fire Records by arrangement with BSR in the Northern Hemisphere.  You can stream the entire album at the Bandcamp link below.

Bedroom Suck Records page for the album
Fire Records

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Back to You" from Twerps, new LP in January

In late January Melbourne's Twerps will release Range Anxiety, their first full length with North American label Merge.  In Australia and New Zealand, the album will be available via the band's Melbourne label Chapter Music.  To give fans a hint of the treats that await them, album track "Back to You" will be available as a single in early November.  This is classic stuff - a not particularly happy theme swathed in a breezy tune - and it is done with Twerps' usual fine style.  We expect excellence from this gang, and we get it.

Merge Records
Chapter Music pre-order page

REVIEW: Allo Darlin' - We Come From The Same Place

We have good news for fans of Aussie/Anglo foursome Allo Darlin':  On We Come From The Same Place, the band's new LP, the band delivers 11 tracks of melodic indie pop just as it has on its two previous albums.  And I think that is just fine and, in fact, the way it should be.  There is no reason to change an approach that results in the kind of songs that are perfect for a fall afternoon, kicking through leaves with the sun in your face and a hint of chill in the breeze.  The instrumentation is thoughtful and intricate pop, with a clean sound, but the centerpiece remains Elizabeth Morris' vocals.  With a tone similar to Natalie Merchant (10,000 Manics) and Wendy Pickles (The Popguns), a seemingly effortless delivery, and a natural melancholy, it is one of those voices that I'd love to have tell me stories all day.  In fact, telling stories about life and its little journeys in clear-eyed and unstinting terms is the songwriting specialty of Allo Darlin'.  There is humor and pain, and some rear-view mirror reflection, but the style is breezy and natural, so the overall effect is uplifting.

Your favorite song may reflect a thematic choice, or a preference between for the slower tempo songs such as "History Lessons" or the more buoyant tracks such as "Bright Eyes" and "Half Heart Necklace".  I'll just give you three representative tracks to sample, as in my opinion you can't go wrong with any of them.  If this band isn't on your radar, it should be.  And if this album isn't on your list, you should consider adding it.

Fans should note that Allo Darlin' is touring the US this October and has scheduled a UK tour for November.

Allo Darlin' is Elizabeth Morris (songwriter, vocals, uke), Paul Rains (guitar, lapsteel, vocals), Bill Botting (bass, vocals), and Mikey Collins (drums, vocals).  We Come From The Same Place is out now via Slumberland Records in the North America and Fortuna POP! in Europe.

Slumberland Records
Fortuna POP!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"The Prayer" from Jonny Telafone

Jonny Telafone creates his own brand of doom R&B, infused with haze, sex and impending its-all-going-to hell perspective.  His most recent major release was a 2012 four track 7" with and accompanying 20-track CD for Chapter Music (stream of CD available here).  His new LP, Romeo Must Cry, will be released via Chapter Music in 2015.  The first song available from the album is "The Prayer", which serves as a good introduction to Telafone's unique art.  We have both the video and the Soundcloud stream for you below.  If you want the track, it is available for $1 at the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for "The Prayer"
Chapter Music
Jonny Telafone's Soundcloud page

REVIEW: Sea Pinks - Dreaming Tracks

I cannot predict where I will find one of my favorite albums of the year.  Sometimes it is an eagerly anticipated release from a long favorite band.  Sometimes it is a new and exciting talent that hits the scene to broad critical acclaim.  And sometimes, as it the case with Dreaming Tracks, it is an album from a solo-project-turned-full-band.  Neil Brogan has been the drummer for Belfast's Girls Names.  But it turns out that Neil also has a way with the guitar, a knack for songwriting and some things he wants to express.  Of course, none of this is a complete secret, as he has prior Sea Pinks releases to his credit, including the fine Freak Waves of several years ago.  However, to my ears Dreaming Tracks represents a clear step up in writing, scope of expression, performance, and I dare say, ambition.

From the initial cello notes of the opening track "Dream Happening" (radio edit below without the cello opening), to the buoyant indie rock of "Art Imitating Life", to the hints of sophisticated '60 guitar pop of "Meat & Drink", to the taut, driving "Waiting for You (to Go)", to the 'big room' alternative rock psychedelia of "Magpies Eyes", to the dusty country rock of "Not Belonging" and "Wasted On You", Neil and his compatriots demonstrate a complete mastery of songs and and astutely blended styles. The guitar tones in particular are an absolute highlight: Resonant, gut-thumping chords; snaking leads; and authoritative bass.  Those who fell in love with Sea Pinks will find less fuzz and even a little less jangle than some prior recordings, but the trade off is a more mature expression of indie rock that should place this Belfast, Northern Ireland project alongside Allah Las in the conversation regarding the best current bands playing West Coast guitar rock.  If you only have time for one example to evaluate the truth of that statement, check out "Pacific Standard Time" below.

Writing about current music means I live with an album for some weeks, listening multiple times, writing up the album, and then moving on.  Time is short, so it is the rare album that continues to get regular play after I publish the post.  But Dreaming Tracks is one of those rare albums.  In fact, if writing about it meant I couldn't listen to it any more, you wouldn't be reading this because I'd still be "evaluating" the record.  Their Facebook page offers that the band is inspired by sea glass, bleached grass and ghost guitars.  I don't claim to know what that means, but paraphrasing Abe Lincoln addressing the issue of General Grant's excessive consumption of whiskey, if sea glass, bleached grass and ghost guitars inspire music like Dreaming Tracks, sent a shipment to all of the bands.

You can stream the entire album at the Bandcamp link below.

In addition to Brogan (guitar and vocals), Sea Pinks on this album are Davey Agnew (drums), Steven Henry (bass), Jonny Agnew (cello on six tracks).  Dreaming Tracks is available via CF Records, a small label in Belfast with a tasteful roster.  You can purchase a digital download or physical via the Bandcamp link as well.

CF Records

Monday, October 13, 2014

Kane Strang's "Winded" video

In August we featured (link hereTemporary album from Fishrider Records covering Dunedin, New Zealand's current music scene.  One of the tracks, Kane Strang's "Winded", is the subject of a recent video.  I like the song very much, and I'm happy for any excuse to again bring Temporary to our readers' minds.  And to remind to, the entire album can be streamed at the Bandcamp link below, which also is the link for New Zealand and Australian fans.  North American fans can use the Ba Da Bing link, and European fans should use the Occultation link.

Bandcamp for Temporary
Fishrider Records
Ba Da Bing Records order page

Free tracks on Hand Games mix #23

Hand Games is a Sydney, Australia outfit that does parties, tours, bookings, and, once a month, a downloadable mix of emerging Australian artists.  We've decided to feature their latest mix to give those artists, and Hand Games, a bit of exposure.  This mix has 13 tracks and I think a lot of them are quite good.

Hand Games on Facebook
Hand Games' website

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"You'll Always Be Lonely" from Tangerine, new EP coming soon

Tangerine is one of the top young indie pop bands around Seattle. and one that has the performing and songwriting ability worthy of broader renown.  With the demise of Tacoma label Fin, which released at least one of the band's 2013 EPs (review here), the foursome is self-releasing their new record, Behemoth EP, on October 28.  Here is your fist aural taste of the new material.  It is a very good song, and I assure you that such quality is typical for Tangerine.  Their songs have a west coast guitar pop sound, with a rock solid guitar, bass, drums, keyboard foundation and standout female vocals.  There is enough grit to make you pay attention, and enough polish to make you want them to stay around.

Mariko, Miro, Toby and Ryan should be the sunshine on your playlist.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Various Artists - Now That's What I Call Music 666

We have praised several releases by Glasgow's Fuzzkill Records on these pages, including records by Deathcats, Poor Things, Fruit Tones, Kill Surrrf, Asian Babes, and The Rosy Crucifixion.  And we are happy beyond reason to advise you that all those bands are on Now That's What I Call Music 666, joined by Pinact, Min Diesel, Psychotic Reaction and other bands from the northern UK.  The album was assembled to celebrate Fuzzkill's first anniversary, and as a limited edition cassette for Cassette Store Day.  The cassettes were snapped up quickly, but the record lives on.  This just may be the best collection of punk and garage music you'll hear this year, and Fuzzkll has generously made the digital download available for 'name your price'.  So you can get it free.  But a few bucks for the bands (and the Bandcamp streaming app) wouldn't kill you, you know.  There isn't much more to say other than I sincerely believe that this is an excellent collection of song from exciting young talent.  I suggest that you probably will like it more than most of the records for which you paid much, much more.

A few tastes --


Bandcamp for record
Fuzzkill Records on Facebook
Fuzzkill Records on Tumblr
Fuzzkill Record's on Twitter

Rolling Stones Friday: Live With Me

"Live With Me" was recorded in May 1969 and represented many significant firsts for the Rolling Stones - it was the debut song with the band for both Mick Taylor and Bobby Keys, and the only time Leon Russell recorded with the Stones. And Taylor and Keith Richards' trading off licks on the song (released on Let It Bleed) signaled a major stylistic change for the Stones, the beginning of a new sound and era for the band, and the beginning of their creative zenith.

The studio version:

An interesting live version from a British TV show in 1971:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Introducing: Girlpool

The ladies have of Girlpool have a lot of attitude.  In general, I think that is a good thing for musicians, but listening to "Blah Blah Blah" and "Jane", I know it is a good thing for this duo.  It takes some attitude to create a band with two persons, one on guitar and vocals and the other on bass and vocals.  And it takes talent to pull it off.  It seems that LA-based Cleo Tucker (guitar) and Harmony Tividad have the talent.  It has a roots garage feel that gets under your skin, but in a completely good way.  Girlpool has an EP coming out next month via Wichita Recordings, and we will discuss it when the release in closer.  For now, enjoy these two tracks.  Cleo and Harmony are touring in the US and Europe, and taking up a residency at The Echo in LA, over the next two months.  Check out the schedule at the bottom of the post and see if you can get lucky.


10/10 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg
10/17 - Philadelphia, PA @ Hazzard Hall
10/18 - Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio
10/19 - Brooklyn, NY @ Silent Barn
10/20 - Annandale-on-Hudson, NY @ Bard College
10/23 - Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio
10/22 - Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands Gallery
10/23 - Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio
10/24 - Brooklyn, NY @ Silent Barn
10/28 - Purchase, NY @ SUNY Purchase
11/5 - New York, NY @ Terminal 5
11/6 - Westbury, NY @ The Space
11/7 - Northampton, MA @ Calvin Theatre
11/8 - Ithaca, NY @ State Theatre
11/14 - Brighton, UK @ The Hope
11/15 - Glasgow, UK  @ Bar Bloc
11/16 - Sunderland, UK @ Pop Records (Free In-Store)
11/17 - London, UK @ Shacklewell Arms
11/18 - London, UK @ Rough Trade West (Free In-Store)
11/19 - London, UK @ Sebright Arms &
11/23 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
11/24 - Paris, FR @ Cafe Charbon (Free Show)
12/1 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
12/8 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
12/15 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
12/22 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo 


"Treading Water" from Breakage, featuring Detour City

With When Night Comes, Breakage's first album since 2010 scheduled for December release via Digital Soundboy, he has released this stellar track featuring vocals from Detour City.  James Boyle, working as Breakage, has traversed the electronic landscape leaving footprints in dub, drum and bass, and grime.  On this track the stars are the subwoofer, bursts of synths, space, and the vocals, with drums eliminated from the mix.  The result is arresting and affecting, and suggests good things will come with the album.

Digital Soundboy

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

REVIEW: The Vaselines - V Is For Vaselines

What does the triumphant return of The Vaselines -- and in my view V Is For Vaselines is a triumph -- mean?  A few things.  First, Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee simply have a talent for writing solid pop songs with an up-front aggression coupled with a sense of humor.  The 2010 release Sex With An X and V Is For Vaselines demonstrate that the songs they created in their first incarnation were not an accident of youth.  The arrangements were, and are, lean, and the hooks are in all the right places.  The performances are energetic and the themes have the right mix of observation and dry humor.  Eugene and Frances were born to do this.  Second, The Vaselines are proof that some pairings simply have more chemistry than others.  Several decades after breaking up as a band and a couple, this duo manage to sound fresh and excited about what they are doing together.  Perhaps part of the secret is that they share a perspective that rock music is a fun enterprise and an ability to tap into their inner adolescent.

And whether my observations are spot on or not, you really don't need to think about such things.  The fact is that V Is For Vaselines stands on its own merit as a rock album with punch, heart and polish completely without regard for past history or sentiment.  The power and drive of opener "High Tide Low Tide", "One Lost Year" and "Number One Crush", for example, would be just as exciting if the artists were teenagers from Glasgow with no history or notoriety -- as indeed they were over two decades ago.  But the success of this album is more than just songwriting talent and a better production technology.  While retaining their sly and naughty edge, evidence of maturity peaks through.  And dueling soon-to-be-ex-lovers in "Single Spies" and closing beauty of "Last Half Hour" reveal an ability to slow it down and deliver a very affecting mid-tempo song.  Upon refection, perhaps the greatest triumph is Eugene and Frances' ability to shrug off the weight of being accidental underground stars, anointed by Kurt Cobain after they'd disbanded the first time, and focus simply on providing excellent rock music.

This is an album you'll be happy to have now, a year from now and the year after that.  You can order through their website.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Hold Me" from Gold Fileds

"Hold Me", the new track from Australian electro-pop band Gold Fields gave me the opportunity to close my eyes and engage in some free word association.  The winners were smooth, mellow, happy, tropical, and rhythmic.  It's suitable for the dance floor and under the stars at the beach.  And all of that adds up to "winner" for me.

Gold Fields are Mark Robert Fuller, Vinci Andanar, Luke Peldys, Rob Clifton, and Ryan D'Sylva.