Tuesday, September 26, 2017

"Straight for My Heart" by Astro Children


Our favorite New Zealand children, Astro Children, are preparing a new album titled Turnpike.  Our first hint of the aural delights is "Straight For My Heart".  Aptly named, we think, as we tend to take this band's music to heart.  Astute readers will note that the song is available as a 'name your price' download.  The rest of you will wander around in customary silence.

Astro Children are Millie Lovelock (vocals/guitar) and Isaac Hickey (drums).




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Monday, September 25, 2017

Mick Trouble - It's The Mick Trouble E.P.

Legend has it that Michael Toomey-Head is a legend.  Well, maybe not a Michael Toomey-Head, but as singer-songwriter punk Mick Trouble, he and his band were tipped for great success in the early '80s.  Still then in his teens, Nick dropped out of sight.  Story over, another one bites the dust - right?  Well, not quite.  It seems that Mick discovered a high quality recording of his 1980 EP, It's The Mick Trouble E.P.  Somehow Flagstaff's Emotional Response Records prevailed in the high stakes competition to release the EP, and here we are with a four-track statement of pop punk excellence and talent too long out of our reach.  Fans of Nick Lowe and The Jam will appreciate the fusion of punk attitudes, sharp songwriting and melodic expression.  And in case anyone is wondering whether we can resist streaming a song entitled "Shut Your Bleeding Gob You Git", the answer resides below.

Of course, none of us can do anything about Mick bowing out of the industry when he did.  But this EP is really great stuff, and you now can have a thrilling artifact of the legend-to-be-that-was-not.  It will make you happy, then sad, and then happy again.  We recommend it.

The Bandcamp gets you digital.  Very limited vinyl is available via Rough Trade in the UK and Emotional Response Records in the US.





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Holiday Ghosts - Holiday Ghosts


We're here to discuss an album by Holiday Ghosts, a band from Falmouth, UK.  But even before cuing up the album, we began to ponder just what the name meant.  Are holiday ghosts the ghosts that specialize in haunting your holidays, despite your desire to 'get away from it all'?  Or are holiday ghosts the ghosts of your last disastrous holiday, here to remind you that you spoke too sharply to your spouse, failed to get the exercise you had promised yourself and drank your booze provisions for the week by noon on Wednesday (put your hand down, this isn't a confessional)?  I suppose it could be either, but we prefer a third alternative.  We like to think that holiday ghosts are nothing more, and nothing less, than ghosts on a holiday, having fun and enjoying each other.  After all, shouldn't hard working ghosts deserve some time off like the rest of us?

Of course, being analytical types we should offer some evidence for our preferred explanation.  Our evidence is the self-titled, 12-track debut LP by Holiday Ghosts.  Assembled from carefully curated bits of roots rock, garage pop, punk and a few touches of glossier material, you would be hard pressed to find many more joyful expressions of stripped down, just-for-fun, guitar pop in 2017.  Our first introduction was the frank and darkly witty focus on unsettled mental states, "In My Head".  Once we got the album we couldn't stop moving our feet to the garage pop of "Walk For Hours" and "Quiet Carriage", followed by the bouncing punk pop of "Airwaves".  The roosty strut "Staring At the Moon" (one of our oft repeated songs) leads to the aforementioned "In My Head".  "Paranoia" is our second dose of raucous punk, and we expect it is a staple of live shows.  The next song, the lovely "Truman Show", is the album's most pop song and, led by Katja Rackin's breezy vocals, hints that the band's range may be even wider than this varied album shows.

Garage rock is back on the menu with the racing "Nothing to Show (Nowhere to Go)".  It is followed by the standout "Sleep Through The Morning", which sounds like it was plucked off a nuggets compilation somewhere in the neighborhood of the 13th Floor Elevators -- and we mean that as a high compliment.  Next up is one of the album's most beautiful moments, "Ron Song".  We don't know Ron, or what he did to earn this song, but we hope he deserved it.  The mid-tempo, '60s shaded "At the Same Time, Every Night" is rapidly climbing our interior charts, but we'd have agree with the band's choice of closing with the garage rocker "Can't Bear To Be Boring", featuring a driving rhythm and Katja's talk-sing backed by the guys in chorus.  It is just the sort of song to bring calls for "encore".  And speaking of encores, you can stream Holiday Ghosts at the Bandcamp link at the end of this post.

If you haven't figured it our yet, we'll make it even clearer: This album is terrific.  We have had it on our daily rotation for over a month, and it isn't getting deleted now that we are posting the review.  The energy, songwriting, and performances all are stellar.  This is a smart band, but doesn't make a big show of telling you how smart they are.  You just know after listening.  And we have to give a special shout out for the excellent and varied guitar work on this recording.

Holiday Ghosts are Sam Stacpoole, who we first met as the frontman for The Black Tambourines, Katja Rackin, and Charlie Murphy.  Holiday Ghosts is out now via PNKSLM Recordings.  See the links below for details.







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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Food Court - Good Luck

We were out and about today, as is typical for a sunny Saturday in September.  We didn't get to the mall, but we did visit a Food Court, and look what we found!  We found Good Luck, Food Court's 11-song debut LP.  And if you like garage rock and fuzz pop, the good luck is yours as well.  Take a test drive below, and then load up at Food Court's Bandcamp for good party vibes for the remainder of the weekend.

Food Court are Cristian Campano (vocals/guitar), Lewis McKeown (bass/vocals), Dan De Santis (guitar), and Nic Puertolas (drums).  Good Luck is available now.  See the Bandcamp link for details.








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Friday, September 22, 2017

The Salient Braves - Delusions of Grandeur

Songwriter and listener alike are focused on the human condition.  Life is all about us, after all.  But that doesn't mean every songwriter can articulate the human condition in a way that is both entertaining and relatable.  And our advice is this -- when you find a songwriter like that, you keep him close.  We've been looking for our listeners, and we've found Matt Bailey.  Bailey is insightful, acerbic, and witty.  He takes a clear-eyed look at life, points at the scabs and scars while shedding a few tears or howling at the injustice, then invites us all to laugh.  And he isn't poking fun at the nameless unfortunates; these are first person confessionals set to music with no hint of shame or self-pity.  The result is nothing less than the timeless dance of poetic storytelling and melody.

And that brings us to Delusions of Grandeur, the delightfully named debut LP from Bailey's The Salient Braves.  A Barnsley-based band consisting of Bailey, Johny Nocash and Neil Ritchie, with some backing vocals by Dani, they provide the perfect support for Bailey's stories.  We could go on at great length about the song quality, but you can stream the album for yourself, and read the lyrics on the Bandcamp page.  However, just to give you a flavor, consider the brilliant opening lines, such as the following from album opener "Somewhere Sordid":
Why don't you tell me another lie 
like the one you did last night? 
you know I bought it 
and do you know that contagious disease 
you brought back from your visit to Greece? 
I think I've caught it 
You saw me standing there 
running my fingers through my hair 
a poseur without a care venue? 
Somewhere sordid 
Or take the complaint of the miscreant protagonist of "Guilty Until Proved Innocent":
Well I was doing nothing wrong I was.... 
just hanging around there for too long 
until the boys in blue came along oh no! 
the arm of the law was strong 
threw me into a cell and then proceeded 
to throw the book at me as well 
my mother said I'd never learn 
and now the wheels of justice slowly turn 
The legal system's crooked and all the coppers are bent 
so I am presumed guilty until proven innocent 
And you must try "They Must Have Seen Me Coming", which begins with 'Have you ever seen a grown man cry?'

Actually, you must try them all.  This is one of our favorite indie pop albums of the year, packed with terrific melodies and sincere performances.  You don't acquire music like Delusions of Grandeur because it is on top of the pop charts or because it reflects current styles.  You acquire music like Delusions of Grandeur because it is a sincere package of humanity, styled with poignancy and humor, that will give you satisfaction now and for years to come.  The album is out now via Broken Down Records.  See the Bandcamp link for details and a highly recommended stream of the album.








Live performance of "Bankok":




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Tropical Fuck Storm - Chameleon Paint b/w Mansion Family

In light of the havoc visited on North America by weather systems lately, the word "storm" probably invokes a cringe.  But today we're going to tell you about a storm you will like, a Tropical Fuck Storm.  A band from Melbourne, it was founded by Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin of The Drones, joined by Lauren Hammel of High Tension and Erica Dunn of Harmony and Palm Springs.  North Americans can get to know them over the next month as they play a baker's dozen of shows in the US and Canada (more details at the bottom of this post).  But the whole world can get to know them right now, because today sees the release of their debut single, Chameleon Paint / Mansion Family.  The first track is an intense commentary on the state of the world today that also manages to be an exciting slice of rock.  It is a combination of art, passion and politics that suggests that Tropical Fuck Storm already has hit a rare level.  The B-side is a cover of a song by fellow Melbourne band The Nation Blue.

The single is the first of a series of 7" releases planned by the band.  Each single will feature an original song by the band and a cover song.  The release are a joint project of Mistletone Records and Liddiard's TFS Records.








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North American Tour Dates and Locations:

With Band of Horses
Sep 26  Soul Kitchen, Mobile, AL  
Sep 27  Varsity Theatre, Baton Rouge, LA  
Sep 29  The Lyric, Oxford, MS  
Oct 1  George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville, AR  
Oct 3  Diamond Ballroom, Oklahoma City, OK 
Oct 4  Metroplex Live, Little Rock, AR  
With King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Oct 5  Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO  
Oct 6  Metro Music Hall, Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 7  Neurolux, Boise, ID
Oct 8  Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
Oct 9  Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
Oct 10 Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
Oct 12  The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA

The Persian Leaps - Bicycle Face EP

Around here we appreciate a band that is both good, and knows what they are good at.  The Persian Leaps are such a band.  The trio's specialty on the music side is refinement of the power pop and guitar pop of Teenage Fanclub, Guided By Voices, The Posies, and The Smiths.  Think powerful guitars with plenty of jangle and buzz, and arrangements with hooks thoughtfully packed in like the chocolate chips in your favorite overloaded gourmet cookies.  The band's specialty on the production side is the EP - - concise presentations of song sets that give maximum pleasure and end just a bit too quickly, causing an nearly involuntary press of the "replay" button.

It is fall, and fall brings us the band's annual EP release, this time the five-song Bicycle Face EP.  Interestingly, the name of the EP is taken from an fake 19th century medical condition invented to scare women from cycling.  Appropriately, the cover art presents a woman in 19th century dress standing next to a bike and wearing a 'don't mess with me' face.  And while the titular condition may be fake, the songs are real and vital.  The Persian Leaps are a band that understands momentum, and they explode out of the box and maintain the tension and energy through the final note.  Perhaps that is one of the things that makes the EP the perfect vehicle for their creations -- an LP may be too exhausting for the more fragile listeners.  In our view, this EP is The Persian Leaps' best work so far.  Since there are rumors that this might be the final record from the band, we strongly suggest you experience it.

The Persian Leaps is Drew Frosberg (vocals/guitar), Adam Brunner (bass/vocals), and Michael McCloskey (drums/vocals).  Bicycle Face EP is out today via Frosberg's Land Ski Records.  See the Bandcamp link below for streaming and purchase options.  By the way, lyrics are included on the Bandcamp page, which we appreciate greatly.






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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tidal Rave - Tidal Rave EP

If you like your guitar pop dark, muscular and melodic, you probably like a lot of guitar pop from New Zealand.  And specifically, you probably will like the music of Tidal Rave.  A five-piece from Wellington, the band has a little EP to display their talents.   A solid rhythm section anchors three vocalists wielding guitars very effectively.  We think you will like it.

Tidal Rave are Emmie Ellis (vocals/guitar), Esther Tempest (vocals/guitar), Kristen Paterson (vocals/guitar), Frank Eggleton (bass), and Charlie Camp (drums), which includes members of Fantails, Sweaty Betty, Kittenbank and Echo Beach.  Tidal Rave EP was recorded at the venerable, and allegedly haunted, Chick's Hotel in Dunedin, New Zealand.





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Terry Malts / Kids On A Crime Spree - Our Love


Life is stressful enough without having to make choices all the time.  Jenn and Stew at Emotional Response Records understand, and want nothing more than for you to live a happy, stress-free life.  So they aren't going to force you to choose between buys some music from Terry Malts or music from Kids On A Crime Spree.  Instead, they are offering Our Love, a four track split release with two songs from each band.  This is a dose of fuzz pop you won't want to miss.  Music purchase without stress?  Consider us your "safe space" for the day.





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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Clientele - Music For The Age Of Miracles


Seven years away from their last release of new material, and after dropping a greatest hits compilation, The Clientele has treated us to another album.  And in our view, Music for The Age Of Miracles ranks up with the band's best work.  Combining the pastoral vibe of psychedelic pop and the wistful vocals of the new romantics with swirling emotional currents and chamber pop arrangements, the album is a like a delightful set of nesting boxes.  Each time you listen is a fresh chance for discovery and a shift in perspective.  Unsurprisingly lush and layered, the songs invoke hazy daydreams and autumnal walks in the forest.  While the compositions are tightly constructed, they manage to give the impression of space and light, as if the players spontaneously chose what to do next.  Charming, beautiful and satisfying, this is not an album for indie pop fans to miss.  A few of the tracks are below, but you'll want to stream the entire record, which you can do at NPR First Listen (link).  You will discover that additional highlights include both the opening and closing songs.

The Clientele are Alasdair McLean, James Hornsey and Mark Keen, with Anthony Harmer joining for this album.  Music for The Age of Miracles is out Friday, September 22 via Merge Records.








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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"Green Doesn't Look Good On You" by Lord Willing

This is a public service announcement from Justin, aka Lord Willing, our friend in Los Angeles.  He wants you to know that "Green Doesn't Look Good On You".  And because you may be devastated by that news, and he doesn't want you to be sad, he has recorded this bluesy, soulful musical message to make it all more bearable.

And because good style advice can be hard to find, you may want to download this Lord Willing track from your favorite digital source.



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"Bad Boys" by Paddy Hanna

We haven't featured Ireland's Paddy Hanna here for a while, but his new single "Bad Boys" is a very welcome return.  Smart, slick, and oh so satisfying.  Enjoy it, and make note that 2018 brings his next album via Strange Brew Records.  Paddy will be touring in Ireland this fall.





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