Monday, August 31, 2015

"Modern World" by Future Elevators

When I think of electro-pop, Birmingham, Alabama doesn't spring to mind.  But after listening to "Modern World" by Future Elevators, I need to adjust my expectations.  The song features shimmering synths over a chill groove and playful vocals.

Future Elevators are Michael Shackelford, Alex Mitchell, Ramy Noureddini, Matt Devine, and John-Mark Dorough.  Their debut album will be release in 2016 by label Communicating Vessels.


"Sometimes Accidentally" by The Goon Sax

Monday mornings can be a bit rough, so it is greatly appreciated when the early emails bring treasures like the new single from The Goon Sax.  They are three high school students from Brisbane -- Louis Forster, Riley Jones and James Harrison -- and recently became the first band that Melbourne's Chapter Music signed based on an unsolicited demo.  Chapter will release the band's debut LP, Up To Anything, in 2016, but are sharing their good fortune with the single "Sometimes Accidentally".  The song is a charming little almost-love song, with vocals that will remind you of The Go-Betweens and instrumentation and melody that will remind you of The Pastels.  I think that is a smashing combination that will work on the rest of the days of the week as well.

The single is a digital release.  See links below.

The Goon Sax
Bandcamp for "Sometimes Accidentally"
Chapter Music page for "Sometimes Accidentally"

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Lizzy Mercier Descloux - Press Color

Press Color is an interesting slice of rock music history.  It also is a very good, and excitingly different, album.

In 1976 Lizzy Mercier Descloux and her then boyfriend Michel Esteban left France for the big time scene in New York City.  Working in punk rock journalism circles, as well as performance art and poetry, they made a lot of contacts, and ultimately broke up as couple while retaining an artistic relationship.  Lizzy formed the band Rosa Yemen with Michel's brother Didier and began to perform and record.  In 1979 Lizzy, Didier and two others recorded Press Color in ten days.  While a group effort, it was decided to release the album under Lizzy's name.  Her drive, and her adventurous and unconventional artistic expression made her the the natural frontwoman.  Her work was intensely visceral and rhythmic.  Words were chosen for their sounds rather than for the meaning or grammatical sense.  The arrangements often had a jazz feel, featuring Lizzy's self-taught minimalist guitar lines and danceable Afrobeat grooves.  The naive approach arguably pushes this music towards the punk rock category, but Lizzy's indomitable spirit and vivacity pull it back to no wave and experimental pop.  Listening to it for the first time is like opening a window to let fresh air into the room.

Of course, you would expect that an album like Press Color could only be found in rare used vinyl bins.  And until now, you would be correct.  But Light In The Attic Records has released an extended version of the album.  The release includes Press Color and other songs recorded by Descloux (including one with Patti Smith).  It is available as a CD or two-LP vinyl plus mp3s.

Light In The Attic Records
Light In The Attic page for release

Friday, August 28, 2015

West Thebarton Brothel Party - West Thebarton Brothel Party EP

It is the weekend, so it it time for a brothel party; specifically, time for a West Thebarton Brothel Party EP.  I learned of this band via "Misophonia", a kick ass garage anthem about the condition of not being able to tolerate certain sounds.  I then was overjoyed to discover that the song was but one of six on the debut EP from West Thebarton Brothel Party.  And although it seems to me that the referenced condition could be quite troublesome, I assure you that none of the songs will invoke the malady in any of our readers.  Loud, fuzz-soaked garage driven by multiple guitars, inspired gang percussion and on the edge vocals (a bit of Glasgow's Mummy Short Arms on that score, which is a compliment Ray), the edge-of-chaos vibe leaps from the speakers.

The EP comes out of the gate racing with the grand fuzz track "Billions".  By the time I was part way through the following "Chemotherapy", I was crediting the band, producer and engineer for creating a set of songs that captured the energy of a live performance while still providing decent fidelity.  The third song is the previously mentioned "Misophonia", which is my anthem for the summer, and thereafter until some other song manages to take it down.  "Touchy Feely" is all fuzz, noise and energy and if you can't shout, you can't play along.   "Two-Bit Loser" is a gritty blues jam that I expect is an absolute crowd-pleaser in live shows.  The EP closes with an ode to cricket player "Glenn McGrath".  And in case you are wondering, it is the kind of ode that produces smiles, not tears.  You may, however, shed tears if you don't get this record and you find yourself a bit short of appropriate music for your next party -- or your next tailgater.

And as a bit of housekeeping, if my wife is reading this I've never been to a brothel party and I have no idea who Ashley Madison is.

West Thebarton Brothel Party is out now via Mirador Records in digital and 10" vinyl formats.  Hit the Bandcamp link below for details.

Bandcamp for EP
Soundcloud for EP
Mirador Records

Acid Tongue - I Died Dreaming

Most of us probably woke up with at least four dollars that could be spent to make your day a bit brighter.  And what could make your day brighter than a four-song EP from a new band with a great sound?  (By the way, that was a rhetorical question, I really don't want to hear your perverted, sordid hopes and dreams that President Ted Cruz will probably make illegal just before the mass baptisms.)  Today's gem is I Died Dreaming from Seattle's Acid Tongue.  Leading off with your and my favorite song of the month, "Lately", the EP delivers soul-influenced retro '60s garage pop, country rock, blues rock with touches of glam and psychedelic rock.  Four guys with a great vibe going and we hope to hear more from them.

There isn't a lot of information about Acid Tongue, although it includes members of other Seattle bands Fox and the Law, the Mama Rags and Dark Hip Falls.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Pop snuff-it" by Andrew R. Burns & The Tropicanas

Our dear friends at Andrew R. Burns & The Tropicanas have another tasty snack of dreamslop headed our way on October 17 via Glasgow's Flowers In The Dustbin.  You can sample the goods below with lead track "Pop snuff-it".  If you pre-order the three-track record you'll get an immediate download of the song.

Bandcamp for release
Flowers In The Dustbin

"We Go Back" by Chinah

While we still have to wait for the debut EP from Chinah, the Danish trio has given us another song to help the passage of time.  With assured vocals, rich synths and a mellow R&B vibe, "We Go Back" is my Thursday delight.  The band's label is No. 3 Records, and our coverage of their debut song is here.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Ui Yia Uia" by NO ZU

When faced with a decision about which elements to include in their new single, "Ui Yia Uia", NO ZU considered a menu of synths, deep funk beats, semi-human chanted vocals, horns, bass from ten fathoms deep, and various other bells and whistles.  They then said "yes" to the entire menu.  The resulting track is hard to describe, but it is easy to like.  Mysterious, funky, energizing and yes, a bit weird, it is just what the doctor ordered if you thought things were all sounding a bit alike around your homestead.  If fact, that may be your doctor grooving out in the corner over there.

The single is out via Chapter Music, which also will be releasing the bands next LP, Afterlife, early in 2016.

Facebook for NO ZU
Chapter Music page for single
Bandcamp page for single

Joey Kneiser and Kelly Smith - Live From The Standard Deluxe

Very few people reading this were at the Standard Deluxe in Waverly, Alabama on July 18 (OK, most of us have never been in Waverly at any point).  But there was some music magic in the air that night.  Joey Kneiser (mainstay of Glossary, the best heart-on-the-sleeve, booze-soaked southern rock band you may not have heard of) and Kelly Smith (also a Glossary vet and Joey's ex) decided to record a live show at The Standard Deluxe in Waverly.  While I like to choose my own words here, I'll borrow what another wrote about the event - it was capturing lightning in a bottle.  The trade off for not having a professional studio, multiple takes and computer editing is more than compensated for by the raw emotion and electric atmosphere that is evident in the record of the evening.  Two excellent performers with years of history singing together played a set of old Glossary tunes and songs from some of Joey's solo work for an appreciative audience.  Live From The Standard Deluxe is available in digital and CD formats.  See the Bandcamp or This Is American Music links below, or visit your usual digital sales outfit.  You also can stream the entire album at the Bandcamp link, which should help you decide that you need a dose of Joey, Kelly and The Standard Deluxe in your life.

The Wildness, Joey's next studio album, will be released by This Is American Music in late November, featuring Joey, Kelly and a full band.

This Is American Music page for release

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"Oh Me Oh My" by Big Strong Brute

Paul Donoughue is a Big Strong Brute, or so he calls himself while being musical.  He released the five song Good Work EP in July.  It has received some good press and in my view has earned every kind word directed its way.  The record's epic break-up song, "Oh Me Oh My", is being released as a single, and we are using that event as an excuse to feature Big Strong Brute tonight.  The song begins simply but builds in intensity and drama over its five-and-a-half minute running time.

I also highly recommend you spend some time with the EP.  Paul is an deft songwriter, especially for such a big strong brute, so you are in for a treat.  You can stream the entire record at the Bandcamp and Soundcloud links below.  I've included the clever "Wedding Pages" and charming "The Roleplay" from Good Work below, but I assure you that I was torn about which songs to choose, as the opening "Wait" or "Heavy Mountain" could have carried the load as well.

Bandcamp for EP

Nevski - Nevski

My French is quite rusty (the sound in the background is my high school french teacher snorting an 'it was never not rusty').  But language barriers aren't important here.   Just press 'play' on the self titled EP from France's Nevski and treat your ears to some of the most charming indie pop you've heard in a long time.  The record, their debut, consists of four tracks.  The first and second, "En Angleterre" and "Alligator", respectively, are wonderful nuggets of upbeat pop.  The third and fourth are slower and dreamier, but no less interesting.

Nevski are Rodolphe (guitar, piano, vocals), Quentin (guitar, vocals) and Simon (drums).  The EP is released by Out of Map.  You can find the digital or CD via the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for EP

Monday, August 24, 2015

David Cloud and the Gospel of Power - Today Is The Day That They Take Me Away

David Cloud's brand of garage rock is unique and refreshing.  Dave and the band growl and grind while spinning offbeat tales with swagger, humor and lust.  There was drone and distortion, and a strong core of rootsy rock and roll. That his brand of genius was just a bit too out there to strike a chord with mainstream audiences isn't surprising, although it is lamentable.  And since Dave died in February, time has run out on fame and fortune during his lifetime.  But Fire Records has released his final album, all 28 tracks in the aptly named Today Is The Day They Take Me Away (which, it should be noted, is the name of one of the songs on the album).  There is so much more Dave Cloud music, but this is a great place to start.  It is a rare collection, one part beat poetry, one part party rock, one part experimental roots.  You may not find another one like this one.

Dave resided in Nashville, and was an actor and read books for the vision-impaired as well as pursued his music.  His Gospel of Power crew included a rotating collection of local worthies
Today Is The Day That They Take Me Away is available now as a digital or CD release. It is expected that vinyl will be available soon.

Fire Records page for release

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Genius" by Love Sport

Last December we were excited about the Go!!! EP from Finland's Love Sport (review here).  The quartet has our attention again, as they will be releasing a new six-song EP, Almost Doesn't Mean You Made It, in early September via Helsinki label Soliti Music.  The first song to be shared is "Genius", and it is a free download.  With guitar lines reminiscent of Pavement, Avi Buffalo and The Shins, it is a delightful marriage of slacker pop and jangle pop.

Bandcamp for Go!!! EP
Soliti Music

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party" by Courtney Barnett

"Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party" is the latest single from Courtney Barnett's wonderful recent album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Think.  We could just give you and audio stream, but we have something much, much better: A video of Barnett and her band performing the song outside the Camden tube station in London.  So, enjoy the video and check out the tour dates below to see if you get lucky.


8.21.15 - Pukkelpop - Hasselt, Belgium
8.22.15 - Lowlands 2015 - Biddinghuizen, Netherlands
8.23.15 - Green Man Festival - Wales, UK
10.20.15 - Hollywood Bowl - Los Angeles, CA *
10.21.15 - The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA
10.23.15 - Madison Square Garden - New York, NY *
10.29.15 - Club Quattro - Umeda, Japan
10.30.15 - Liquid Room - Shibuya, Japan
11.05.15 - Bodega - Wellington, New Zealand
11.06.15 - St. James - Auckland, New Zealand
11.07.15 - Foundry - Christchurch, New Zealand
11.21.15 - Postbahnhof am Ostbahnhof - Berlin, Germany
11.23.15 - Bürgerhaus Stollwerck - Cologne, Germany
11.25.15 - The Forum - London, UK
11.26.15 - The Forum - London, UK
11.27.15 - Wulfrun Hall - Wolverhampton, UK
11.29.15 - ATP Festival - Prestatyn, UK
11.30.15 - The Ritz - Manchester, UK
12.01.15 - O2 Academy - Liverpool, UK
12.02.15 - O2 ABC - Glasgow, UK
12.04.15 - O2 Academy - Bristol, UK
12.05.15 - Gaite Lyrique - Paris, France
12.28.15 - 12.31.15 - Falls Festival - Australia
01.07.15 - Astor Theatre - Mount Lawley Wa, Australia
01.08.15 - Southbound Festival - Busselton Wa, Australia
01.16.15 - Enmore Theatre - Newtown, Australia
01.22.15 - Palais Theatre - Melbourne, Australia

* w/ Blur

"King Grudge" by The Legendary House Cats

A few weeks ago we brought to your attention (link) The Legendary House Cats.  The (mostly) solo project of John Girgus (of Aberdeen, Languis and Non Ultra Joy) which explores the intersection of shoegaze, post punk and electronica.  The Cats' latest offering is "King Grudge", written and performed by Girgus and Chris McRitchie.  The arena-sized track explores the rocking side of The Legendary House Cats' sweet spot, and it is a great way to start the day.  Check out the stream below and if you like it, it is $1 at the Bandcamp link.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Pinstripe Pigeon Band - Sound Asleep EP

The Pinstripe Pigeon Band combine pop and electronic with a playful current of funk and hip hop accents.  Their latest offering is the Sound Asleep EP, which was released earlier this month.  It is the sixth record for the band from Preston in Northwest England, and it delivers three bouncy tracks with loads of energy and charm and two more relaxed tunes.  The band's showcase components are their broad and expert instrumentation and Kristy Harvey's vocals.  The album's opening and closing songs are presented below in video form.

Sound Asleep EP is out now as a digital download.


"Ambitions" by Søren Juul

Søren Juul formerly recorded and performed as Indians, releasing the 2013 Somewhere Else and scoring a key scene in the movie The Fault Is In Our Stars.  After living in the United States for a while he is back home in Denmark and recording under his own name.  On September 4 he will release a self-titled EP via 4AD.  The first song to be shared from the record is "Ambitions".  A work of fragile beauty with unfolding  layers of sound building to a euphoric finish, it suggests that the EP should be on everyone's wish list.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Royal Headache - High

My God this is a good music!

I was tempted to have that simple declaration stand as my review, but as a lawyer I am bound by a secret and sacred oath to never let seven words tell the story when I can use many dozen.  And that is fine, because High deserves the time to needed to provide more detailed praise.  If lightning strikes and the pop music world momentarily becomes fair and just, this album will provide Royal Headache with fame and fortune.  While we all suspect that won't happen, you can all do your part and get yourself a copy.  It still won't make the band rich, but the intangible rewards to you will last a long time.

Musically, the band builds on its unique indie rock sound from their debut - punk fury with vocals that bear evidence of both the straining shout of punk and the emotional and sonic range of Memphis soul - by dialing back both the pace and the volume for a few songs.  But make no mistake, while Royal Headache trades in songs with a pop core, the performances are taut, urgent and full-blooded.  Thematically, the album deals with love and relationships.  And it deals with those topics will clear-eyed appreciation for the lust, longing, sadness, uncertainties, fulfillment, and loss that are part of the package.  Supposedly, frontman Shogun has said that the songs are about someone he no longer sees, which adds yet another tone to the emotional charge of the set.

The album begins with the the high voltage "My Own Fantasy".  And if that song about the hollowness of the rock sex-god lifestyle was the only song on the album, followed by twenty minutes of Shogun saying "check" into the mic, I'd still recommend it.  But the truth is that it isn't the best song on the album by a long shot.  In fact, it is rivaled by the urgent plea of the following "Need You", and lapped by the showcase love anthem and title track (stream below).  The chugging "Another World" continues the frenetic pace.

The fifth song, "Wouldn't You Know" provides the album's biggest change of pace.  The mid-tempo arrangement begins with a dusty spaghetti western feel and evolves with cinematic scope while discussing the uncertainty in making a commitment.  But the throbbing and biting "Garbage" brings the volume and fury back to previous levels.  "Love Her If I Tried" is a wonderful dose of garage soul about a failed attempt at a relationship.  Track 8 is "Caroline" (video below).  I love "Caroline" -- it is one of my three favorite songs on the albums and is a pure dose of feel good rock.  "Little Star" is the rebirth of the Buzzcocks (and we could all use some Buzzcocks in our life).  "Electric Shock" is the perfect closing track:  90 seconds of punk aggression and wry commentary.  Lights up, everyone leave the area with their bodies vibrating.

If you are still reading this review rather than playing the clips and buying the album, I have failed a bit here.  I'm going to go drown my sorrows, but before I go, I again urge you to get High.

Royal Headache is Shogun (vocals), Shortty (drums), Law (guitar) and Joe (bass).  High is out now via What's Your Rupture in vinyl, CD and digital formats in most of the world, and on the band's own Distant and Vague label in Australia.  The band currently is touring in North America; the remaining dates are provided below.

What's Your Rupture site for US purchases
Rough Trade site for UK purchases

Wed. Aug. 19 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle 
Thu. Aug. 20 – Detroit, MI @ UFO 
Fri. Aug. 21 – Toronto, ON @ Silver Dollar
Sat. Aug. 22 – Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola
Mon. Aug. 24 – Boston, MA @ The Great Scott 
Tue. Aug. 25 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade 
Thu. Aug. 27 – Baltimore, MD @ Windup Space 
Fri. Aug. 28 – Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA 
Sat. Aug. 29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Palisades 

"Otherworldly Pleasures" and "She Takes Me There" by Promised Land Sound

On September 28 Nashville's Promised Land Sound will release For Use And Delight, their second album, via Paradise of Bachelors.  The musical growth of the band's young members is evident on the two album tracks shared below -- "Otherworldly Pleasures" and "She Takes Me There" -- which present a wide range of rootsy psychedelia.

Paradise of Bachelors

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"The Past and You" by Expert Alterations

Baltimore trio Expert Alterations graced these pages recently for Slumberland's vinyl release of their self-titled EP (review here).  The band will release their debut LP You Can't Always Be Liked via Kanine Records on October 30.  The fine lead track is a post break up song that eases the impact of bitter recriminations with appealing C-86/Dunedin style jangles with a refreshingly aggressive rhythm section.  This is great stuff and we are looking forward to the album.

Expert Alterations are Patrick Teal (guitar/vocals), Alan Everhart (bass), Paul Krolian (drums).

Kanine Records
Pre-order page for album

Woodpigeon & Norman Blake - Brutish Birds

The delightful singles club wiaiwya-7777777 is releasing their next nugget, Brutish Birds, which brings together the Woodpigeon and Norman Blake.  Woodpigeon is Mark Andrew Hamilton, a Canadian who started out making music in Edinburgh, and also has recorded in Canada and Austria.  I believe he resides in Canada at this time.  Norman Blake is, of course, a founding member of Teenage Fanclub and has been involved with various other projects, including BMX Bandits, Boy Hairdressers.

The music resulting from this collaboration may best be described as '70s California pastoral guitar pop fused with UK folk rock.  The two songs are delicate and measured. with hushed vocals and spare acoustic instrumentation.  But they also have a dark emotional current and intriguing layers.  Both these artists frequently combine with others to create new and interesting music.  We can only hope that the results of this effort prompt them to continue to explore what the relationship can bring to our ears.

The Brutish Birds single is out now via WIAIWYA -- see the Bandcamp link below for details.

WIAIWYA website
Woodpigeon website
Woodpigeon on Facebook
Woodpigeon on Twitter
Teenage Fanclub website
Norman Blake on Twitter

Friday, August 14, 2015

Introducing: Briana Marela

Briana Marela is a talented young singer-songwriter who creates airy soundscapes with her voice and a formidable array of electronic assistance.  Her forthcoming album is titled All Around Us, and will be release this month via Jagjaguwar.  The album was recorded in Iceland by Alex Somers, who also recorded Sigur Ros.  At times her sound is ethereal, as if fairies were singing for us, and at times it has a more substantial chorale atmosphere.  But for me, the effect is always uplifting and peaceful.  And that is a very nice thing to discover.

Below we have a stream of "Take Care of Me" and a video of Briana's live performance of "Surrender" at KEXP's studio.

Bandcamp (for 2012 album)

The Creeping Ivies - The Witch House EP

Do you remember, or have the old timers told you about, clean, pure old-fashioned pop music in the style of Pat Boone?  You know, white bucks, trim haircuts, clean and sweet lyrics and inoffensive themes.  Well, thank Odin -- The Witch House EP from Glasgow's The Creeping Ivies is nothing like that.  What it is, is three tracks with garage rock grit and authentic punk bite, dripping sexy grooves and switchblade-in-the-boot swagger.  It is loud, stylish and confident statement from the trio, and gives all of us fuel for our late summer and fall party mixes.  The title track is masterful garage rock, driving, pounding and hook-filled.  Put it on, and the dancing most definitely has started.  "Only the Moon" is a rhythmic slice of garage pop with twanging guitar solos and handclaps.  The closing "Bye Bye Babe"  is the sound of a girl group fronting a surf band in a California garage on a summer evening in the mid '60s.  And if that sound doesn't excite you, maybe you should head over to the Pat Boone bin.

The Witch House is available now as a digital release from Flowers In The Dustbin; see the Bandcamp link below.

The Creeping Ivies have released two albums in the past, and will be releasing the compilation Your New Favorite Garage Band later this year.  The current line-up is Becca Murray (vocals/guitar), Ian Duncan (drums), and Christy Taylor (bass).  The band originally was incarnated as a duo, but the drummer moved overseas and Becca recruited Ian and Christy.

Bandcamp for the EP
The Creeping Ivies' Bandcamp
Flowers In The Dustbin

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Skellums - Clarion Call EP

Liverpool's Skellums have decided that the world needs a four-song EP of  fuzzy pop songs played with exuberance and full of wry observations about life.  Was that a good idea?  I certainly think it was.  Like life, the resulting Clarion Call has a few ragged edges, but the pop sensibilities are real, the observations sincere, and the overall effect is quite charming.  In my opinion, the reflective "The Avenue" and the upbeat "Monsters" are the best of the record.  But all four tracks are keepers.  And speaking of keeping, the digital download is available for "name your price" at the Bandcamp link.  A CD will cost a bit more.

Skellums are Roberts, Watson, Crichton, and Courtney.  The EP is released via the band's own Rent & Debt Records.  This band has a good sound, and I hope they stick around.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Holy Motors - Heavy Flow EP

I just learned of this release very recently, but I have moved it to the head of the publication list because (1) it is very good, and (2) with a limited run of 100 tapes (purchase includes a digital download), copies will not last very long.  The band is Glasgow's Holy Motors, and the release is the five-song Heavy Flow EP.  Proceedings commence with the urgent post punk of the title track, featuring a throbbing rhythm and dark, swirling tones.  The following "Oskar And Alma" retains the racing pace for a fusion of dream pop and new wave.  "One Dead World" changes the pace for an offering of Americana-tinged folk rock that sounds like a darker version of the first album from Seattle's Young Evils.  "Goods News" is a pacy '90s-style alt rocker.  The closing "Valley of Decision" is a heavy slice of blues rock.  This is upfront indie rock, well-conceived, played with vigor, and shaded in color spectrum from very black to medium gray, with a wink to keep you from having nightmares.

Holy Motors are Hillary Van Scoy, Tom Rennie and Joel Stone, variously members of Ubre Blanca, Seconds and Blood Of The Bull.  Heavy Flow is available now via Soft Power Records.  "One Dead World" can be streamed below, or go ahead and stream the entire EP.  If you are interested in the cassette, hit this Bandcamp link.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Moon Types - Know The Reason 7"

Sweden produces more than its share of jangling guitar pop bands, but we are always delighted to learn of another one.  The latest to please our ears is Stockholm's Moon Types, a quartet skilled in the art of jangling indie pop and power pop, with an interesting hint of country in the arrangement.  If you are like us, it will only take a listen to the title track of their new Know The Reason 7" to become a fan.  It touches all the necessary elements for a great jangle pop song, and then puts frosting on the confection with a trumpet.  The other two tracks on the single, "Nothing's Holy" and "Do It All Over Again" will continue the welcome assault on your pleasure center, with perfect doses of dusty, melancholy, California jangle.  Pour yourself a nice summer beverage and relax under the moonlight with Sweden's Moon Types.

Moon Types are Jesper Klein, Stephen Naron, Jesper Nyren, and Josefin Klein.  Know The Reason is available now from Jigsaw Records in vinyl and digital formats.  See the Bandcamp link for details and to stream all three tracks.

Bandcamp for Know The Reason

Ultimate Painting - Green Lanes

As I understand it, Ultimate Painting is an accidental group.  James Hoare of Veronica Falls and Jack Cooper of Mazes were on tour with their bands, met and clicked musically.  After noodling around for fun, they decided to record.  The resulting 2014 self-titled release was deservedly well-received (our review here), prompting James and Jack to reconvene in James' bedroom and record Green Lanes.  The new songs reveal two adept songwriters whose styles mesh very well together.  And while the pairing may have been accidental, there is nothing accidental about the music.  The emphasis is on summery, psych-tinged pop melodies featuring appealing harmonies and excellent intricate and jangling guitar lines.  Both artists are vocalists and guitarists, and both contributed songs to the album.  This allows each of them to take lead vocals on their own compositions while the other takes the lead guitar role.  It also means that the stylistic differences in their generally complementary songcraft precludes the danger of 'sameness' that can affect some guitar pop albums with a single composer.  The first song streamed below is Cooper's "(I've Got The) Sanctioned Blues", and the second is Hoare's "Break The Chain".   We also have the live performance in KEXP's studio, and a clip of Hoare's wonderful "Sweet Chris".

On Green Lanes Jack and James eschew fireworks for songs that grow on the listener and continue to deliver satisfaction long after the first listen.  In fact, you may just want to make this album your life soundtrack while getting to know it.  You won't be disappointed.

Green Lanes is out now via Trouble In Mind Records, which is building a very impressive catalog of releases this year

Trouble In Mind Records

Monday, August 10, 2015

La Luz - Weirdo Shrine

Students of cinema may remember that one of the defining moments of Dorothy's time in Oz was when her wayward pup prompted her to look behind the curtain and discover the truth about the Wizard.  The lesson, which is repeated throughout the movie, is that things aren't always what they seem.  Listeners to Weirdo Shrine, the new album from La Luz, should similarly look below the surface.  The pretty harmonies and incredible surf guitar are easy to take at face value.  But the rewards are richer if you also dive below the surface.  And there is a lot below the surface of Weirdo Shrine.  Swim past the backbone organ riffs and a dynamite, if sadly unsung, rhythm section (seriously, Li Pino's drumming gets better with each outing), and bathe in the deliciously dark waters.  Thematically indebted to a graphic novel titled Black Hole and shaded by the band's own narrow escape from death in a highway accident a couple of years ago, the songs offer a plenitude of dark corners to explore.  But just when all the weighty themes threaten to hold you down like a surfer caught under a crashing wave, you ride to the crest again on the buoyant rhythms and transcendent guitar.  And that makes sense to me.  This is a band that has grown musically, matured after experiencing touring and near death, and most likely grown together personally.  So now they are at a point when they can tackle themes in a manner that celebrates and fully appreciates being alive.  The album is called Weirdo Shrine, but with reference to the title of their debut - It's Alive - perhaps it should have been subtitled We're Alive Too).

Oh, and if you don't give a damn about themes and such, this is a cracking good surf rock band.

The album was produced by lo-fi garage rock wizard Ty Segall, with plenty of fuzz and a live to tape feel.

La Luz is Shana Cleveland (guitar), Marian Li Pino (drums), Alice Sandahl (keyboard), and Lena Simon (bass).  Weirdo Shrine is out not via Hardly Art.

Hardly Art

"America Says Hello" from The Chills

The Chills, fronted as always by Martin Phillipps, one of indie's best tunesmiths, will release Silver Bullets on October 30 via Fire Records.  The album is the band's first LP of new material in 19 years.  Silver Bullets can be pre-ordered, but for now you can enjoy album track "America Says Hello".  The song is classic The Chills' songcraft, with melody, hooks and drama.  I think the album will be a good one.

Pre-Order from Fire Records
Pre-Order on Bandcamp

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Wimps - Super Me Ep

Dave Ramm, Matt Nyce, and Rachel Ratner are Wimps.  And Wimps are punks.  If you have any doubt whether that is true, devote your ears to the slightly less than ten minutes of concise, angular, staccato punk spread out over the five tracks of Super Me.  Veteran musicians with a keen understanding of what makes punk work, and a maturely slacker perspective  for their music, this is the stuff to jump-start you whenever your you needs a jump-start.

Super Me is a digital download on Bandcamp and a cassette release from Kill Rock Stars.  And if you want more, the band plans an album release later this year.

Bandcamp for Super Me
Soundcloud for Super Me
Kill Rock Stars' order page for cassette version

Friday, August 7, 2015

"Wild Life" from Kevin Hunter

A couple of months ago we shared "Fire Burning" from Los Angeles producer Kevin Hunter (link).  Kevin has offered a second track, "Wild Life", which also is a free download at the Soundcloud link.


Jesus and Mary Chain - Live At Barrowlands

The Jesus and Mary Chain are one of my all-time favorite bands.  The Glasgow band's discography includes six LPs recorded between 1984 and 1998, and over a dozen compilations.  But their most talked about album, and the one that deservedly made them a band to watch, was their 1984 debut Psychocandy.  Over its 14 songs the combustible William and James Reid dished out their vision, comprised of  elements of Phil Spector's wall of sound, The Beach Boys, and The Velvet Underground.  Only in their case, the wall of sound arrived via the power of the guitar amps and, at times, a tidal wave of distortion.  For those of us that loved it, it was the perfect package of rebellion and pop music.  It wasn't anti-commercial -- the lads wanted to make it big and in my opinion deserved to make it big -- but it was uncompromising.

Three decades after arriving on the pop music scene, the Brothers Reid and some talented players gathered at Glasgow's venerable Barrowlands to play Psychocandy in its entirety.  The resulting Live At Barrowlands contains the entire performance of the original album, as well as the additional songs the band played that evening, including "April Skies", "Head On" and "Some Candy Talking".  For a live album, the sound mix is remarkably good, and three decades on the band still brings the heat and the melody.  Of course, if you were only to own one album from The Jesus and Mary Chain, it wouldn't be this one (likely unusually, for me it would be The Power of Positive Thinking, a B-sides, demos and rarities compilation).  But if don't already own at least some of the band's music, you aren't likely to still be reading this.  If you are a fan of the band, however, this album is a treasure, and not just for nostalgic reasons.  The performance that night has all the vitality and immediacy of a band in their prime.  Is was fiery and masterful, and give many fans the opportunity to experience a live-recorded performance from a band that you may never have been able to see live, and in any case didn't see a performance with this set of music.  For fans of the band, this is a necessary addition to your music library.

The album is available in CD, 2-LP vinyl and digital formats from Demon Music Group.

Album trailer:

Demon Music Group

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Have Gun, Will Travel - Science From An Easy Chair

You can take Science from an Easy Chair from Florida's Have Gun, Will Travel as another excellent addition to the catalog of southern rock typified in the recent decade by Drive-By Truckers.  Or you can take it as one of the few well executed concept albums; one on which the songs stand up artistically by themselves and in service to the overall theme.  But whatever you do, take the album.  It is that good.  It is southern rock, muscular pop, epic folk and Americana/country blended into a fantastic tapestry of music.

But what, you ask, is this business about a "concept"?  The concise answer is that Science from an Easy Chair is based on Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1916 Antarctic Expedition and commemorates its centennial.  The title of the album is taken from a book about popular science that the Shackleton's crew read aloud on the expedition.  When pitched to the label bosses at This Is American Music, one doesn't know whether the response was (1) Right, we've been hoping to release an album about that, (2) Oh shit, but if I say no you'll post the photos of me that you took after the Florida-Auburn game my senior year, (3) OK then, but we're even for the time I dropped your new fishing pole in the lake, or (4) I didn't catch what you said, let's talk later when we're sober.  But it doesn't matter, because in addressing a historic event of incredible hardship, endurance, bravery, teamwork and survival, Science from an Easy Chair embodies the spirit of the event in a highly entertaining and memorable fashion.  It should be noted that Shackleton's expedition is a launching platform, rather than a script, as the album actually appropriates the historical event to also tell a story of a band struggling to succeed in the music business.  Various aspects of these twin expeditions are told with via adept storytelling and inventive instrumentation, and with palpable clear-eyed sincerity.

I only have a few clips for you, so I will urge you to accept that in the case of this record, hearing is believing.  Try the songs below, and if they lead you to think I may be right about this album, stream it at the Bandcamp link.  I think you'll find it worthy of a portion of your music budget.

Have Gun, Will Travel is founder Matt Burke, Scott Anderson, Danny Burke, and Jean-Paul Beaubien.  Various other worthy musicians contributed as well, and are listed in the credits on the Bandcamp page.  Science from an Easy Chair is out now via This Is American Music and is available in vinyl, digital and CD formats.

This Is American Music

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"Bad Feeling" by Skin and Bones

Skin & Bones honed their sound busking in Southern California.  The core of the group is Taylor Borsuk, who sings and plays guitar, and Peter Blackwelder, who plays the violin both in conventional and less conventional ways.  For live shows, they sometimes call upon Amir Oosman (drums) and Bruce Stone (bass) to flesh out the sound.  Their sound is bluesy, folky, and lo-fi.  A particularly good introduction is the band' new single.  Why is it a good introduction?  Two reasons: (1) Very good song and very well performed; and (2) Free download.  We have the Soundcloud stream with a download button below, as well as a video of Taylor and Peter performing "Bad Feeling" and "Fire".  You also can check out their 2013 LP Someday Soon at their website link (the digital download is 'name your price').  Personally, I have a good feeling about this "Bad Feeling".

Soundcloud for Bad Feeling

Video for "Mr. Music" by Peter Astor

A few weeks ago I wrote about Peter Astor's new two-song single Mr. Music (link), which is released via Fortuna POP!  I love the title track, so I don't need much of an excuse to post it again.  My chance came today when the label published a video for the song, starring Pete Astor in the flesh.  Enjoy!

Fortuna POP!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Seconds/JOYA Split LP

No parent likes to make choices that favor one child over another, and I imagine it is the same with ethical label bosses as well.  So we applaud our friends at Soft Power Records, who resolved the dilemma of whether to release an EP from Glasgow band Seconds or London band JOYA by releasing both.  At the same time.  On the same record.  So world, welcome the Seconds/JOYA Split LP.

Seconds are Hillary Van Scoy, Josh Longton, Richard McGowan, and Joan Sweeney.  Some or all of the players have been on these pages before, but in other projects such as Aggie Doom and Blood of the Bull.  As Seconds, it was love-at-first-song ("Crawl Space") for me.  Propulsive drumming, throbbing bass, vamping keys, snarling guitar bursts and chanted female vocals.  The themes are smeared portions of grit, darkness, lust, longing and sweetness.  There is nothing shy or restrained about their six contributions, and nothing subtle about the music's affect on your limbs.  You simply cannot sit still for these songs, and you'll likely play them more than a few times.  Without a doubt, this is a band I want to see live.

On their half of the album, JOYA produce an appealing brand of straight ahead, 90s-style guitar rock with some slacker vibes.  You know the types, they never appear like they are trying real hard while they do what they do better than you do.  Don't hate them, it is their burden to live up to their promise.  This band is very versatile, and has a bright future.

Half the tracks are available to stream below (I couldn't resist), and the entire album can be heard at the Bandcamp and Soundcloud links.  However, don't think long about this one, as the LP is only available on vinyl, and there are only 250 copies.

Facebook for Seconds
Facebook for JOYA
Bandcamp for album
Soundcloud for album
Soft Power Records
JOYA on Bandcamp
JOYA on Twitter

Monday, August 3, 2015

Introducing: The Legendary House Cats

I suppose if the world were entirely fair, we wouldn't need to introduce legends, but we suspect that some of you may be unfamiliar with The Legendary House Cats, so here we go.  The Legendary House Cats is the solo project of John Girgus,  A Los Angeles-based songwriter, guitarist and producer, Girgus also is a member of Aberdeen, Languis (subject of this recent post) and Non Ultra Joy.  He also has collaborated with a number of other bands, including The Luxembourg Signal, whose 2014 debut LP was well received here.

It seems to me that The Legendary House Cats work the intersection of shoegaze, post punk, atmospheric rock and electro-pop.  Guitars layer on top of a keyboard and percussion foundation, with melodic vocals riding the sonic wave.  And Girgus recently offered an excellent introduction via the two-track Kind Words single.  The title track is an soaring shoegaze song with a relentlessly driving backbeat.  The accompanying "Falling From So High" is a dynamic reworking of a Languis song that appeared on the recording linked in the previous paragraph.

If you are interested in buying the single, hit the Bandcamp link below.  You also can explore other releases from The Legendary House Cats at the Bandcamp page.