Monday, May 31, 2021

fanclubwallet - Hurt Is Boring EP

 

My opening sentence was going to be that the five songs on Hurt Is Boring should be sufficient to make any listener a fanclubwallet fan. But in reality the title track, the previously released single "Car Crash In G Major" probably will do it. If you still are on the fence, the following "C'mon Be Cool" is more than sufficient to put you over. Moreover, there is no drop in quality in the remaining tracks. The melodies are consistently addictive, and the artist's performance rocks out with just the right balance of attitude and nuance.

fanclubwallet is the project of Canadian Hannah Judge, who productively used time dealing with an illness to create this debut EP. Love, heartache and, of course, boredom are the topics du jour, and her treatment of them is deft and engaging. By the way, the project was named for a Dennis the Menace wallet that belonged to her father.

Hurt Is Boring is out now in digital and cassette formats.


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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Ducks Ltd. - Get Bleak EP


 Late last year we featured a four-song EP titled Get Bleak by a Toronto band named Ducks Unlimited. Accordingly, you might be inclined to think we are lazy in featuring the Get Bleak EP today. But we have a good explanation. First, the Toronto duo have tweaked their name and now are known as Ducks Ltd. While we have no inside knowledge, our legally trained minds suspect that the organization Ducks Unlimited may have objected to a band using their name. A bit sad, if true, given that little confusion was likely to occur (even acknowledging the mind-boggling penchant for certain segments of the population to become confused). But that is the way that the world works.

The second reason is that the band has joined the Carpark Records roster, and the label has released an expanded version of Get Bleak. The EP now boasts a robust seven tracks of Duck Ltd.'s indie pop creations. And what creations they are! The themes can be a bit heavy, although leavened with humor, but the jangle pop guitar tones are bright. This updated version further enhances the obvious talent and promise of the original, and is a welcome springtime addition to our soundtracks. Moreover, it is a great reminder of just how good the original release was.

Ducks Ltd. are Evan Lewis and Tom Mcgreevy. Get Bleak is out now in digital and vinyl formats.



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Friday, May 28, 2021

Sam Gellaitry - IV

 

Scottish producer and composer Sam Gellaitry has released the digital version of his new EP IV (the vinyl version comes in June), following the three EPs he released between 2015 and 2017. Well regarded as a master beatmaker, Sam steps up to the mic for the first time in this recording, and hits the bullseye vocally as well. IV consists of four tracks focusing on four different emotions. And all of them sparkle and dazzle with musical color. Last month we posted the excellent lead single "Duo" (link), so we will give you two of the other tracks today.

IV is released via Sam's Viewfinder Recording imprint via FFRR Records/Parlophone.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

KAPUTT - "Movement Now" / "Another War Talk"

 

Some bands just have charisma, and Kaputt is one of those bands for me. With the staccato rhythms, wiry guitars and you-can't-ignore-us volume, the music is in the listener's face. But the hooks, hypnotic vocals, sharp lyrical content and, of course, the sax, wrap it all up in a compelling, thrilling package. The Glasgow band's latest offering is two-song single "Movement Now"/"Another War Talk", and it is just as described. Manic energy that begs you to leave your comfortable sofa to see them live, and good music that rewards the effort. Punk? Art Rock? No-Wave"? Perhaps No-Wave Art Punk. But whatever, it is good and as the lyrics say -- I want more.

Kaputt are Cal Donnelly (guitar/vocals), Curtis Halling (guitar), Chrissy Barnacle (vocals/sax), Tobias Carmichael (bass), Rikki Will (drums), and Emma Smith (percussion). "Movement Now" / "Another War Talk" is out now via Upset The Rhythm, available in vinyl or 'name your price' digital download.

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"Dogshot" by Skydeck

"Dogshot" is the new single by Melbourne duo Skydeck. The title is Australian sports slang for a late hit when the recipient is distracted or looking in another direction. The song is not about sports, but the title is apt for the actual theme, which is the exploitation of people in the gig economy. The song has a thumping, aggressive beat and angular guitar accents resulting in a cynical, angry vibe.

In conjunction with the release of "Dogshot", Skydeck has announced the August 27 release of new album Coupon. The album will be available in digital and vinyl versions via Dinosaur City Records, Osborne Again, and Kingfisher Bluez (North America).

Skydeck is Dominic Kearton (Pregnancy/Dom Roff) and Mitchum Clemens (Ciggie Witch/Shark Alarm). Their 2019 debut album Eureka Moment was nominated for the Australian Music Prize.

"One Thing's For Certain" by Wojtek the Bear

We think the upcoming July album Heaven By The Back Door from Glasgow's Wojtek the Bear is going to be a stunner. The first single, "Ferme la Bouche" (link), offered a slice of Philadelphia-style soul. The second single is "One Thing's For Certain", and to our ears it is even better. With strings and a wall of sound back beat, it is a triumph of '60s-shaded melancholy pop.

Heaven By The Back Door will be out July 16 via Last Night From Glasgow.


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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

"Butterfinger Hands" by Carpet Burn

 

We have a carpet burn and we are thrilled about it. Wait -- that didn't come out as we intended. Ahem, starting over: We have a new single from Carpet Burn and we are thrilled about it. The name of the song is "Butterfinger Hands", and you can listen via the amusing video or stream the song via Bandcamp. "Butterfinger Hands" is representative of Carpet Burn's approach to music -- idiosyncratic, humorous, and a bit absurd (and sometimes more than a bit). The single is out now, and is taken from their four-track 7" I Can't Believe It's Not Carpet Burn, which will be available June 18 via Spoilsport Records.

Carpet Burn is Amanda, Kayley, Louis, and Tam, who are members of other Melbourne bands such as Girlatones, Permits, Tam Vantage, Gutter Girls, Blonde Revolver, and Plastic.

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Spoilsport Records

"Clay Pigeon" by binki


 Wednesdays can be hell. But today I devised a hack to wake up my sleepy, fuzzy self. Yes, "Clay Pigeon" by binki is just the jolt I needed. The NYC-based son of Kenyan immigrants, the artist has a direct but accessible style and infectious energy. If I had to label it I would call it 'funk punk'. "Clay Pigeon" is from his upcoming Motor Function EP, which will be released in August via Fader.

Monday, May 24, 2021

"NLMN" by Corduroy



Hailing from Norrköping, Sweden, Corduroy is a four-piece dream pop band whose self-titled debut album will be available in a few weeks. It promises to reveal their penchant for reverbed guitars and indie pop melodies. Our first exposure to their music comes via single "NLMN", which the label describes it as "[a] really heavy track that is a perfect soundtrack for running in a lukewarm summer rain, and avoiding a lightning strike in the head." As runners, we are all in for a good soundtrack for running in the warm summer rain. But to our ears this is simply a top quality guitar pop song, sounding like Swedish-dream-pop-meets-'80s/90s-Manchester-guitar-pop. And that is the sound of a sure winner.

Corduroy is Amanda Wallin, Olle Rosén, Martin Boström and Serafim Kristjansson. The album will be released the first week of June via VÅRØ.



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"Who Owns Pain?" by Dag

 

Last week brought another single from the upcoming Pedestrian Life by Dag. "Who Owns Pain?" has an appealing pop vibe with affecting vocal back ups that add a good dose of warmth. It seems to us that this double LP from the Australian trio is going to be packed with many and varied treasures.

The band currently consists of singer songwriter Dusty Anastassiou, who began Dag as a solo project, and Dan Ford and Dave McMillan.

Pedestrian Life is out June 25 via Bedroom Suck Records.

Cave States - Julie Says

Cave States is a St. Louis-based trio playing literate guitar-based Americana music. On the title track, they take an arresting, kitchen-sink approach to the instrumentation. On "Julie Says", the band starts out with a fully Spectoresque wall of sound - a piano, a drum machine in place of a snare crack that leads into a couple of amplified drum fills that precede each heartfelt vocal chorus. It’s a lengthy track that features a lot of different sonic approaches as it goes on, including a female voice singing wordlessly that takes over the last minute or so of the track. The approach on this song seems calculated to fill it with a lot of emotion. This befits what sounds like a morality play carved out of an argument between two friends that, in retrospect, looms very large to the writer. Here’s the video for “Julie Says”:




 
 Also on this 3-song EP are two softer, acoustic-based tracks with terrific vocals, reminiscent of the Jayhawks to me. Check out "Gone Are the New Days" and "Time for Telling": 
 

The pedal steel on "New Days" is well-placed, providing a wistful backdrop to the nostalgic lyrics. The EP is full of well-done touches like that, including some soaring vocal harmonies on the choruses of each song. These guys are talented, and experienced, veterans of several Missouri-based Americana acts. The group consists of Danny Kathriner, Chris Grabau, and Todd Schnitzer. They all sing, and Kathriner wrote “Julie Says”. The music was produced at Schnitzer's studio, Popscreen. It's available to stream and buy now (5/21) via Bandcamp or the band's website, as well as on your favorite streaming service. 


 Bandcamp       

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Robert Finley - Sharecropper’s Son

 Robert Finley is an actual sharecropper’s son, and he has a hell of a story. Fortunately, for our purposes, he also is a hell of a singer. On Sharecropper’s Son, he displays a sort of vocal dexterity that sounds like the result of a lifetime of listening to and singing everything from gospel to country to R&B and guitar rock. I hear echoes of Al Green in the way Finley is unafraid to launch a high falsetto croon (like at the beginning of opening track “Souled Out on You” and most of “Country Boy”). 



 

But he’s got the sense to know when, and the talent to be able, to drop down into an guttural growl where the material calls for it. And on a lot of the songs here, he simply stands in front and sings like a rock and roll frontman in an R&B-inspired guitar rock band, only coming from Finley, lines like “working from can ‘til can’t” have a particular resonance that you don’t expect to hear from someone singing in 2021. And, again, he is a terrific vocalist and has the charisma and showmanship to lead a rock band. 

 As hard as it may be to believe, listening to him sing, he only took it up as a profession in his 60’s after military service and a lengthy career as a skilled carpenter, when due to a bout with glaucoma, he became legally blind. Finley has enjoyed the ability to get his stories out in the world: “One of the things I love about music is that, when I was a boy growing up in the South, nobody wanted to hear what I had to say or what I thought about anything. But when I started putting it in songs, people listened."

Here’s the title track, “Sharecropper’s Son”:


 

That one puts me to mind of something like “Lodi” or (not to be too “on the nose”) “Cotton Fields” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, with the kind of imagery that Fogerty used to do such a good job of drawing with his lyrics and fleshing out with his guitar sounds. Speaking of expressive guitar sounds, the producer of the album, and guitarist and co-writer on a lot of the material here, is The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. This record was recorded and produced at his Easy Eye studio in Nashville, and you can hear his stinging lead guitar as a counterpoint to Finley’s vocals at key moments throughout the record. It's out right now (released 5/21) on Easy Eye, and available to stream or buy physical copies at the links below. 



“Losing Control” by Poolside

Poolside is LA-based producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Paradise, and he has dubbed this music "daytime disco". I call it delightful, and am enjoying diving into his ouvre - a bounty of originals and remixes, including remixes of tracks by artists as diverse as Billy Idol and Jack Johnson. It's great stuff for walking in the sun or driving in the car on a nice day, or hanging out and imagining either of those activities. His latest is a collaboration with a German house music producer named Satin Jackets, a song called "Losing Control:

 

Here's another previously-released track from the new album High Season, "Around the Sun":
 

And a third, “I’m in Love With You”, with Neal Frances:
 
 
Delightful stuff that will improve your summer playlist. The album will be released this week (5/28) - you can pre-order, check out more songs and learn more at his website.

Poolside Music website

Saturday, May 22, 2021

“Bad Week” by Babehoven

Babehoven is a collaborative project of Maya Bon and Ryan Albert, who are based in Arlington, VT. Bon is originally from California but of Croatian descent, and claims that a lot of the inspiration for this project comes from having reunited with her father in Croatia and learning more about that culture. Regardless of the origin, this is distinctive music - sad and beautiful - and I look forward to hearing more from them. This single is out now, you can download or stream it, and the album is due out July 9. Babehoven website Bandcamp

"Concorde" by Melby


 If we are not mistaken, "Concorde" is the fifth consecutive single by Melby since the band's last album. While we are fond of, and tend to focus on, long playing records, we think this run of singles is proving an important point about Melby. Well, an important point in addition to good music. And that point is just how versatile, as well as talented, this Stockholm four-piece really is. The band has blended folk, psychedelic and indie pop to great effect in the last five years, but "Concorde" stands out as a smooth, sophisticated slice of pop, bringing to mind Yumi Zouma and Tennis, among others. This is a band that has no clear ceiling, and it is exciting to watch ... and listen ... to them grow.

Melby are Matilda Wiezell (vocals), Are Engen Steinsholm (back-up vocals, guitar), David Jehrlander (bass) and Teo Jernkvist (drums). "Concorde" is out now via Stockholm's Rama Lama Records.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Pink Chameleons - Peace & Love


Today we get another fine indie rock album from Finland. The title of the album is Peace & Love, and the band is Pink Chameleons. Just as chameleons can change their hue to match their environment, this Helsinki three-piece adeptly changes genres to match the songwriter's desired mode of expression. Paul McCartney's Wings album was an inspiration for this album specifically because the former Beatle tackled multiple genres. Based on the evidence, Pink Chameleon's ambition has been rewarded with a fine and varied set of songs. In my opinion, "Spacedog" is a perfect update of '60s garage rock/psychedelic nuggets genre. "Slow Me" seems to channel '70s guitar hero psychedelic rock, while "Horsewalk" lets the band give free rein to their country stylings. I also am particularly fond of the robust, but more guitar pop-leaning closer, "Rainy Days", and its twin sibling "Hot Dog". Variety is good, and Peace & Love is very entertaining variety.

Pink Chameleons are Paltsa-Kai Salama (vocals/guitar/keys/songwriter), Antti Sauli (bass), and Kimmo Godtfredsen (drums/percussion). Backing vocals on certain tracks were provided by Tytti Roto ("Run and Hide") and Joni Seppanen ("Hot Dog"). Sax on "Pink Crush" and "Slow Me" was played by Jussi Hurskainen. Peace & Love is out today via Helsinki's Soliti Music.




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Thursday, May 20, 2021

"Bulletproof" by Boyracer

 

Boyracer has 13 albums and various shorter recordings in their rear view mirror, with number 14 arriving in July. As you would expect, they know what they are doing. What is remarkable, however, is the extent to which head man Stewart Anderson and his current compatriots, Christina Riley and Matty Green retain their ferocious performance style and their direct, cutting lyricism. We have a taste of what the upcoming album will bring via new single "Bulletproof", and we are impressed and ready for more.

The new album is titled Assuaged, and is due July 5th via Emotional Response Records.

Emotional Response Records


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Lionel Boy - Lionel Boy


 The self-titled debut album by Lionel Boy is a highly satisfying mix of dream pop and chill, down-tempo grooves. It is a versatile soundtrack for driving to the beach, chilling at the beach, or sitting on your deck under the stars after a day at the beach. We previously shared "Flower Girl" and "Kam Highway", the songs that cemented our desire to hear the entire album. So we are providing you with three more tracks below. We think those five songs display the artist's pop sensibilities and innate chill vibe. It is a winning combination for your summer playlist.

Lionel Boy is Hawaii native, Long Beach resident, Lionel Deguzman. He previously was half of indie pop band Tigers in the Sky. Lionel Boy is out now via Innovative Leisure.




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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

"Tae the Poets" by Chris Connelly and Monica Queen


 "Tae the Poets" is the first release from a very interesting project titled The Birthday Poems. The project intends an 18-track album presenting a fictionalized romance between Scottish personalities Stella Cartwright and George MacKay Brown, as well as an exploration of their relationship with Stanley Roger Green. The artists are Chris Connelly and Monica Queen, with the former taking George's voice on the album and the latter taking Stella's voice. The title of the album refers to the poems that George would write for each of Stella's birthdays. You can read more at the link below, and we will write more about the album and distinguished artists Connelly and Queen when we feature the album.

"Tae the Poets" is a romping, stomping sing-along featuring Connelly as George MacKay Brown that brings a smile to my lips every time I listen. The accompanying video shouldn't be missed. It was filmed on location at Chicago's GMan Tavern. While I have lived in Chicago in the past, I never have been to that establishment. I now am feeling a sense of loss about that.

The Birthday Poems will be released June 15 via Jnana Records (Ontario, Canada).

"Recoil" and "New Destination" by Semihelix



Dream pop from Texas? You bet your boots and spurs. Austin's Semihelix dishes out hyper melodic and, on the two songs featured here, up tempo dream pop that have us eagerly anticipating their summer album release. And so you can appreciate our enthusiasm, here are the two singles from the album: The newly released title track "Recoil" and the previously shared "New Destination".

Semihelix is Geannie Friedman (guitar/vocals), Kevin Martin (bass), and Valdemar Barrera (drums). Recoil will be released by Mariel Recording Company.

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Buffet Lunch - The Power of Rocks

 

The Power of Rocks is an entertaining collection of stories cobbled together from observations of people, places and conversations. Consider it a buffet lunch of social snapshots, which seems appropriate as its creators are Scottish band Buffet Lunch. Eschewing a uniform mode of expression, the band adorns their compositions with a variety of distinctive rhythms, bursts of guitar and some more off kilter touches. The listeners know that they are in for a wide array of music in the first four songs. Album opener "Red Apple Happiness" boasts a carnival atmosphere (and a welcome sax accompaniment), while the following two tracks are intensely focused on the beat. The title track arrives as the fourth song and is a more relaxed, melodic and hook-filled offering. And so it goes, with entertaining (but not always linear lyrics), loads of energy and deft musicianship. The emphasis with this band, and in this album, is fun. And if the power of rocks is that it provides fun, I'm going to go collect myself some more rocks. My soundtrack while so engaged? The Power of Rocks, of course.

Buffet Lunch are Perry O'Bray (vocals/keys/guitar), Neil Robinson, (bass), John Muir (lead guitar), and Luke Moran (drums). The Power of Rocks is out now via Upset The Rhythm.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Mope City - Within The Walls

 Mope City's latest album, Within The Walls is an engaging listen, but also a demanding one. The Sydney band, which now is a four-piece, structures sparse slowcore tunes of bits of pop, and bits of experimental folk. At times, it seems like pop songs deconstructed so the elements are laid out sequentially rather than concurrently. At other times, it is more straightforward such as on "Covered In Might". However, this is music that is consistently intelligent, compelling and entertaining. Without being weepy or dramatic, it has a strong emotional core and its themes are unwaveringly delivered. Sample the offerings below and if you are intrigued, follow the Bandcamp link and listen to the entire album. It will be time well spent.

Mope City are Amaya Lang, Matt Neville Shaun Donovan, and Nick Johnson. Within The Walls is out now via Tenth Court.



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Various links for album

Riley Downing - Start It Over

 


This is Riley Downing’s first solo album - he has been playing with New Orleans' The Deslondes, but during the pandemic-induced shutdown found that he wanted to do some solo stuff. It started out with a two-sided single, on which he had some help from his band mate John James Tourville. From there it grew to a full album with Tourville as well as Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs and a number of ready Nashville session players. 

They put together a relaxed, smooth country sound behind Downing’s distinctive deep baritone. I get a bit of a Barefoot Jerry feeling from his singing, but the music isn’t as twangy as most of Barefoot Jerry’s - in that sense it is more reminiscent of JJ Cale, perhaps. That’s an intriguing combination and hopefully it makes you curious enough to check some of his music out. 

Here's "I'm Not Ready" - I like this song more each time I hear it. Something about the piano bit at the beginning, and the way his warm vocals just don't get too het up about anything, just gives a nice easy feeling. Though there is a bit of variety, this is a good taste of what the album's about:


And here is the title track, and a delightful, surrealistic video in a milieu that will be familiar to any music collector in Nashville (or who has visited Nashville):


The album is out now, on New West Records. And in a bit of a plug for the great folks at Grimey's, Riley signed some copies that they are selling on their website for local pickup.



“Hibernation” by Bosna

Bosna is a duo comprised of Prison Pete IV and Sticky Lenz. They’ve got a hypnotic sound, with the vocals, drum beats and rhythm guitar on a similar level and pace, and some plucked guitar lines as accents. It’s a bit reminiscent of Jesus & Mary Chain, with a little bit of a late-night jazz feel thrown in. Here is the song, which is part of an album due out this summer on Vienna-based label Numavi Records:


 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Tony Jay - Hey There Flower

 

I'm not going to pretend that I have long followed Tony Jay. In fact, I first heard of the artist this year when I read that Mike Ramos, whose alter ego is Tony Jay, and Karina Gill of Cindy were releasing an album together under the name Flowertown. Well, we covered the Cindy album (link) and Flowertown isn't ready yet, so I took the opportunity to dip my toe into the musical world of Tony Jay.

The album is titled Hey There Flower, after one of its songs. But in my mind the album is 'The Wonderful Musical Sketch Book of Tony Jay' (yeah, I know, I am never going to make it in advertising). What Tony sketches are concise commentaries on love, loneliness and a few things in between. His mode of expression is sparse, intense, and captivating. The arrangements are invariably lo-fi and slow tempo, blanketed with a fuzzy hiss. And it only took one listen to decide that it is a very special album. It has a '60s feel, albeit washed in an eerie slowcore machine. An ace example is "September Skies", which could be the 1965 'last dance' at the prom for the introverted students. I just love that song.

But then, I love a most of the songs. The vocals are hushed, matching the arrangements. And while it is low-fi, the recording evinces a confidence and sense of purpose, and hell with the people that don't get it. It is as if Azure Ray was playing Television Personalities. Ramos recorded them solo during the pandemic, but called on a lot of friends to add featured and backing vocals. Backing and featured vocals were provided by Karina Gill (Cindy), Griffin Jones (Galore), Kati Mashikian (Mister Baby), Alexis Harper (Al Harper)k & Hannah Lew (Cold Beat). While all of the guest vocalist clearly 'got' what Ramos was doing and amplified the songs, it also is clear that Ramos and Gill bring out top performances in each other. So watch for the upcoming Flowertown release.

Hey There Flower is out now via San Francisco's Paisley Shirt Records.

"Melted Car" (feat. Karina Gill)

"Hey There Flower"

"Ode to Little Bird" (feat. Alexis Harper)

"September Skies" (feat. Karina Gill)



Bandcamp for Hey There Flower

“Soul Love” by Jeff Parker and The New Breed (feat. Ruby Parker) + “Modern Love” by Jonah Mutono (Bowie tribute out 5/28)


We have two more tracks from the upcoming David Bowie tribute album, Modern Love, due out May 28 on BBE Music. First up is a new take on "Soul Love", from the Ziggy Stardust album. It's a joint effort between Ruby Parker on vocals and Jeff Parker, part of Tortoise and well-represented jazz guitarist on guitar. I really like the way Ruby interprets Bowie's lyrics, and the way Jeff sort of plucks the guitar line between verses, and then plays a jazz solo over about the last minute or so. There's also an instrumental version and it works, but Ruby Parker's wonderful singing makes this the definitive version, to me:


Next is a new version of "Modern Love". This one is by vocalist Jonah Mutono, and his singing is terrific, over a sort of ethereal repeated chorus and some muted instrumentals that seem designed to showcase his vocals. There is a nice guitar solo in the outro. Here is the video for "Modern Love":


What I love about both of these tracks, as well as the ones we shared recently, is that you can tell what an inspiration Bowie's music is to these artists. There's a joy that comes through on every track. This is a well-conceived and well-executed project.



“Shenandoah Shakedown” by John R. Miller

John R. Miller is a Nashville-based singer songwriter playing an invigorating combination of folk, country and rock music. His new track "Shenandoah Shakedown" is good - especially notable is the way his voice lays on top of an ever-changing instrumental bed - starts out with a fingerpicked acoustic, but builds with violin, mandolin and even an electric guitar run that is sort of scorching yet restrained at the same time. Everything's in service of the melody of the song, which is carried by his voice, which of course is telling the story. This is story music. Here's the video:
 

 

I really like the feel of this song. Miller has released two other singles, which look to be on this album as well: "Faustina" and "Looking Over My Shoulder". "Faustina" has some good steel guitar, and "Looking" has an intro with a sort of countrypolitan feel. The variety, and more important, the quality of these tracks augur well for the album. The track is available now, and the album Depreciated will be released July 16 on Rounder Records. 



Saturday, May 15, 2021

Tangled Shoelaces - Turn My Dial - M Squared Recordings and More 1981-84 (Reissue)

 

Sometimes when I see a band name I wonder whether there had been a decision to close their eyes and then name the band after the first object in view when eyes are opened again. So, it might be a 'car seat headrest', 'blue ocean', 'mountain' or mean uncle Bob - and I'm 'grateful he is dead' (only shortened to fit on the drum kit). Whatever, some of those names work and some don't. And of course, many or all may have been chosen for other reasons. But if a young Brisbane band in the early '80s chose their name by opening their eyes finding themselves looking at their tangled shoelaces, it would be all too perfect. Perfect, because they were kids aged 10-14 when they started the band. Moreover, the songs on the record featured here -- Turn My Dial - M Squared Recordings and More 1981-84 -- were recorded when they were 11-18 in age. The charming name is one thing -- and a very good thing -- but the quality of the music from musicians so young is truly remarkable.

Their music is relatively uncomplicated, but melodic, resolutely upbeat, sincere, versatile, and playful. Sure, is is naive at times, but that is honest expression for teens too young to enter a pub or get a driver's license. Moreover, the 22 songs on this compilation reveal a band whose members could write ace songs, play multiple instruments, and deliver a good show. That they broke up in 1984 when the oldest members were just 18 seems a shame, but they left a number of tracks which previously were issued by Sydney label M Squared. That album and other selected gems now has been reissued in digital and vinyl formats via Melbourne's Chapter Music. And having lived with this delightful playlist for a few weeks, we are extremely grateful that they did. It helped us all feel young again.

Tangled Shoelaces were sibling Stephen, Lucy and Martin Mackerres, and their neighbor Leigh Nelson on drums.




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Kendra Sells - All In Your Head

In the course of seven songs, one an interlude and one labeled an outro, Kendra Sells takes the listener on an exhilarating trip, and true to the title, it is all in your head. The one constant throughout the EP is her sinuous, fantastic voice. She is able to contort the vocals to fit all types of music - for example, the psychedelic soul of lead track “Your Cut”, a song that has plenty of musical twists:

 

 Another turn around the bend is "Call Me When Ur Dead", a pleasant instrumental with sort of a samba feel, which plays out as the singer fully executes a breakup. How many ways can you say "don't call me again"? Well, that's the deal here. She's singing it all the way out, because she wants to make sure this person gets the message:

   

 The key track to me on this record is "Wondering / Bad Doctorzz". This is the one where Sells delivers her eclectic musical talent with both barrels, and it is a true wonder. As mentioned, this record is all over the place, in the best way possible. From psychedelic soul to a Brazilian-tinged sweet-sounding breakup ballad to, what we have here, a track featuring a Black Sabbath guitar intro which leads into a slinky vocal in which Sells sounds like she is singing about a bad boyfriend ("It's a trap so don't pay him no mind / Cause he's used to getting his way all the time"), and then the music switches gears into some serious Bad Brains-style punk guitar noise, while Sells segues into singing about a real problem in a personal way:

Bad doctors build a repertoire of writing people off
Say call us when you’re dead if you’re just worried bout a cough
You don’t look like my daughter and you don’t look like my son
If they don’t see a problem then they don’t believe there’s one
Just cause they don’t see a problem doesn’t mean there isn’t one

credits


 

That probably works better than a study or a page full of statistics at getting you to pay attention to the fact that some people are not treated the same way as some other people by the health care industrial complex, because she sounds like she's singing from experience, with some real anger, and the music is bracing, so you're going to listen. 

This is an amazing record. What is most impressive, other than, again, her terrific voice, is the amount of musical ground that is covered in the course of essentially five full songs. I feel like she has more to say, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Sells. If you don't like your music in preset "genres" and squeezed into categories, you'll be rewarded for giving this one a try. 

"Another One" by Declan Welsh and the Decadent West

 

I've followed Glasgow's Declan Welsh and the Decadent West for several years, and am a big fan of the sound, passion, and willingness to articulate their political views (frontman Declan also is a poet, author, activist, and has Billy Bragg lyrics tatooed on his arm). Their last album was Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold, released in 2019. This fall will bring a new EP titled It's Been A Year, and the band will prime the pump by releasing three singles in the next few months. Happily, the first one, the pandemic inspired album closer "Another One", is already here. Mid-tempo but with a big sound, it is a fine first taste of what promises to be a very good record.

“Nervous” by Madi Diaz

“Nervous” is the newest song from Nashville’s Madi Diaz, and it’s a nice one. She’s got a clear, light voice and the song makes good use of the quiet/loud/quiet dynamic with both her voice and the electric guitar backing. The song seems to be describing the dangers of too much introspection, the kind that leads to solipsism, and probably we could use a warning like that these days:

I know why I lie to myself

I’m not really looking to get healthy

I have so many perspectives 

I’m losing perspective I make me nervous.

Here’s the video:


 

 This song, and several other 2021 singles, are on -ANTI and are available to download or stream via her website.