Monday, December 31, 2012

Introducing: Safe Houses

Safe Houses is the new project of Dave Richards and Paul from the now defunct Scottish band Fiction Faction.  While the former band played energetic electro-rock, Safe Houses drives further into the synth pop realm.  Dave and Paul have made three tracks available for "name your price" download.  I think they show a lot of promise -- give them a try.


Friday, December 28, 2012

The Soul Corner - Bettye LaVette "Let Me Down Easy"

This week we feature one of our all time favorite soul singers, performing earlier this month. At age 66, Bettye LaVette still runs circles around just about any singer of any genre you can name. Her ability to throw herself into a song, dig deep into the writing and her life, her emotions, is the very essence of soul music.

Her story is a wild one, nearly tragic, but after decades of disappointments, misfires, bad choices,  scoundrels, broken promises and broken dreams, Ms. LaVette never quit performing and recently finally found some measure of success. Her remarkable story is told in an unflinching manner in her new autobiography A Woman Like Me, which I highly recommend.

"Let Me Down Easy" was released in 1965 as Bettye's second single and charted at #20 on the R&B charts. But there was no follow up and so the song, like LaVette herself, faded until her resurgence in the last 10 years. It is now a cornerstone of her live performances, a monster, as seen here in London a few weeks ago:

Here she is singing the song on the Shindig! TV show in 1965:

This will be our final Soul Corner as an every Friday feature, though if we stumble into a great soul song video, we will post as a bonus Soul Corner. We will start a new feature every Friday in 2013, so continue to look for some choice old nuggets right here each week.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Introducing: Frantic Chant

I must confess that I'm one of the music fans that is welcoming the resurgence of psychedelic music.  It is coming from Texas, California, Australia, New Zealand, France, Finland, Denmark, England and of course, Scotland.  Today's introduction is a fine Edinburgh band with a psychedelic/shoegaze bent -- Frantic Chant.  They give you a generous dose of what they do well on their new single, Colour, which is released today, December 27, on Dog Got A Bone Records.  It is a two track record with the title track providing nearly eight minutes of a, well, colorful musical trip.  The B-side, "With All Our Friends" lowers the pace and volume, but takes us further down the rabbit hole.  As a collector has been through more than a couple editions of psychedelic music, I assure you that Frantic Chant could slip into a '60s soundtrack with no challenge to their credentials.  And I mean that as a high compliment.  I can only hope that a new album is in the works.

The band is listed as O'Hara on bass, Stazy on voice and guitar, Nick on guitar, and Col McGregor on drums.

"Colour" is available as a download and a limited edition CD from this Bandcamp link.

Frantic Chant released a full length entitled The 51st Best Band in Edinburgh in June 2012.  You can stream it below, and download it from Bandcamp.

Dog Got A Bone Records - Facebook

REVIEW: Various Artists - Alive At The Deep Blues Fest

We've been listening to these great Alive/Naturalsound artists all of 2012 - each album has its own pleasures, but what unites them, in my mind, are a joy in playing and the serious chops that are hallmarks of great blues and rock and roll.

Back in the summer, seven members of Alive's roster joined 19 other bands for a summer BBQ festival in Bayport, MN and the results were recorded and, fortunately, produced into an album by Jim Diamond. Here's the tracklist:

River Water - Buffalo Killers  
It's a Shame - Buffalo Killers  
There is a Bomb in Gilead - Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
The Red, Red Dirt of Home - Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
Traveling - Brian Olive  
Bonelle - Brian Olive  
Hold On Me - Radio Moscow  
Little Eyes - Radio Moscow  
24 Hour Blues - Left Lane Cruiser  
Rambling on My Mind - Left Lane Cruiser  
Three More - John The Conqueror  
Be your own Invention/Stranger Dig - Henry's Funeral Shoe
Henry's Funeral Shoe - Henry's Funeral Shoe
From the psychedelia of Buffalo Killers (expansive, sweet-sounding) and Radio Moscow (heavy, raging), to Bains' roaring gospel/blues-based Southern rock, to Olive's mix of blues and sweet SoCal pop, Alive embraces variety. Here's Brian Olive:

Left Lane Cruiser, John The Conqueror and Henry's Funeral Shoe are playing hard blues, and it really shines through in a live setting. Here is the Welsh brother duo Henry's Funeral Shoe:

This is a record that happily does double duty: It's a great document of what sounds like one of the best summer music festivals I've ever heard of, but it's also a really good label sampler. If you're still looking for a way to spend that iTunes or Amazon gift card, this record is a good option, and it will open up seven other worthy possibilities...

Here is a free download of a live version of The Buffalo Killers' "It's A Shame" from the Fest:

Monday, December 24, 2012

18 New Christmas Songs from Summersteps Records - Free Downloads!

From Summersteps Records, home of Kid Icarus and Eww Yaboo (whose combination of garage and grunge we extolled last year), comes a very generous Christmas music compilation/label sampler.

A combination of originals and standards, it's got a little something for everyone - and definitely a few cuts you will want on your Christmas mix. Favorites on first listen include "2000 Miles" by straws, a well-played shoegaze with resonant female vocals, Kid Icarus' "On Boxing Day" - which really just rocks, and the sweet power-pop of Langor's "Yantsor, the Candy Cane Maker"... but you may favor other tracks on here, including a spare, acoustic version of "Last Christmas" by Geez Louise which restores the plaintiveness that you'd think the song ought to have, if you did ever think about it. By the way, once I did spend the time to think about this song (rather than just scream and twist the dial as I do when Wham's version comes on), I kind of wished I hadn't... I mean, why write a song to someone who dumped you LAST CHRISTMAS? Anyway, it's a nice little ballad, as is Obvious Dolphin's take on "White Christmas".

2 for Christmas Eve

The Chris Stamey / Chorus Project post from yesterday helped me recall this fine Christmas song of Mr. Stamey's from 2010: 

And in special honor of the events that will take place this evening, here are my 2 favorite versions of one of my all time favorites, "Run Run Rudolph". First, the 1958 original from the one and only Chuck Berry:

And this killer version from across the pond, by Dave Edmunds:

Merry Christmas!

Post - Cavalcade

We've featured songs by POST (Yeah, try to Google THAT! Thanks, guys.) a few times.  They are a very good young Glasgow/Manchester band, and we expect big things from them.  They are selling physical copies of an EP titled Cavalcade at their live shows.  The really good news as they've also made it available on line for those of us not living in the UK.  It is on Bandcamp for name-your-price.

Stream it here:


Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Bing Crosby", a special Christmas song

What is an element of Christmas more essential than Bing Crosby? Well there are not many, but certainly one is helping out the less fortunate. Combine those two, add some great musicians and talented young singers, and you have something special.

The Chorus Project "Bing Crosby":

And this gets extra points for actually being a new and original Christmas song and a fine one at that. Produced by the great Chris Stamey, whose latest effort with the dBs will sit high among my best of 2012 list, due to be posted here in early January.

The Chorus Project is a group of 25 high school age singers from the Chapel Hill, NC area. All proceeds from the sale of this single, the Chorus Project's first release, go to support programs and the scholarship fund for Community Chorus Project, as well as to KidZNotes, a music program for low-income children in Durham, NC.

Available for purchase for just $1 at Bandcamp:

Merry Christmas from WYMA.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

More Free Christmas Music - Gnartivity Scene: Lo-Fi Carols from Gnar Tapes

More of our artist and label friends are in the giving mood, and we're happy to share with you. Gnar Tapes, a Portland-based label, has given us several of our favorite new lo-fi fuzz rock artists in 2012, and here at Christmas time, they're giving away a compilation featuring several of their artists, including Emotional, whose new album Feeling was recently reviewed by Rocksteady here. Emotional contributes "I Wanna Be Your Dradle" (sp?), based on the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated".

The theme might be best embodied by White Fang's freewheeling yet laid-back reggae take on "Jingle Bell Rock": "Jingle Bell Rasta". Or perhaps by one of the fuzziest cuts on the record -- Love Cop's take on "Christmas (Please Come Home)" called "Christmas (Let's Get Stoned)". Get it? I don't have to draw you a picture, do I?

The liner notes disclose: "Recorded at Gnarnia in Carpet Cafeteria - November 23 - December 3, 2012." So you can be fairly certain that they didn't overproduce this sucker.

Check it out and accept their generous gift:

Free EP from Queen Jane

Late last month we profiled Queen Jane, a good young band from Cumbernauld, Scotland.  They have an energetic, Afro-pop inflected sound that we found quite refreshing.  For those who liked it then, or who are just discovering it now, you are in luck.  From now until Christmas, the lads are offering their new Romantics EP as a free download (we tried to negotiate a better price for you, but the group held firm at free and could not be moved).  If you sleep on this offer, you will regret it.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas From The Buffalo Killers and the Bohannons!

Christmas is almost here, and we have a few presents for you!

Check out this heavy, psychedelic cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" by Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers:

And this cover of the old Beatles' fan-club-only 1967 song "Christmas Time":

They are happy for you to have these songs free of charge, in the spirit of the season.

And here, also available for free download, is a new song by Chattanooga's The Bohannons, "Christmas in Vietnam":

Here at the end of 2012, I want to give a special salute to the Buffalo Killers, whose 2012 release Dig. Sow. Love. Grow. was reviewed here, and to the Bohannons, whose Unaka Rising was reviewed here. If you're looking for fierce blues-based rock music, these are two artists you ought to spend some time with as you look to spend the iTunes gift card or (hopefully) Grimey's (or other local music retailer's) gift certificate you will receive next week.

It is possible both will be featured on a WYMA Blog Best of 2012 list, coming the week of Jan. 1...

Black Tambourine covers Ramones

This ranks as one of the really great musical ideas of the year.  The beloved noise poppers Black Tambourine, while reunited recently, decided to record covers of five Ramones songs.  And the recording is available at Bandcamp in physical form on Slumberland Records or name-your-price on digital.  Well, Merry freaking Christmas to all of us!

I realize that the cell phone and French Press coffee maker may be a better overall inventions, but this ranks as a seriously good idea.

Black Tambourine is Pam Berry, Archie Moore, Brian Nelson and Mike Schulman.  Additional vocals by Jenny Robbins and The 'Rinettes (Rose Melberg, Dee Dee, and Jenny Robbins.

Slumberland Records page for Black Tambourine

The Soul Corner - "She Shot a Hole in My Soul"

We've got a fairly obscure one this week, but a song that I've loved since first hearing it at "beach music"  parties in North Carolina 25 years ago.

From 1967, Clifford Curry, "She Shot a Hole in My Soul":

It's got the call and response, some terrific horn lines, a perfect vocal and a greasy guitar sound at the beginning that I've always wished there were more of.

No less an expert on southern soul-pop than the great Alex Chilton, whose birthday is Dec 20, covered "She Shot a Hole in My Soul" with the Box Tops:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Alex Chilton

Alex Chilton would be 62 today.  His influence in music has been evident for over 40 years.  He started in music as the 16 year old lead singer in the Box Tops.

After the Box Tops, Chilton formed Big Star, a group whose influence can be heard in Cheap Trick, The Replacements, Teenage Fanclub, R.E.M.. and The New Pornographers. The band’s first album, “#1 Record,” in 1972, did not come close to fulfilling the commercial promise of its title, nor did the followup releases “Radio City” and “Third/Sister Lovers.” But their music – gentle and introspective songs like “The Ballad of El Goodo” and “September Gurls,” and exuberant anthems like “In the Street” – had a profound impact on generations of pop and indie acts that followed.

The Replacements sang a tribute to Alex and Big Star with the lyrics:   “Children by the million / Sing for Alex Chilton / When he comes ’round / They sing, ‘I’m in love / What’s that song? / I’m in love with that song.’”

Echoing the Mats - I'm in love with these songs.



REVIEW: The UV Race - Racism

Racism, from Melbourne's The UV Race, arrived just in time to be considered for a highly coveted spot in my year end lists of favorite albums for the year.  And with pop songs twisted through varying degrees of punk, post-punk, new wave and glam, and a not inconsiderable dose of near insanity, it is a worthy contender (What? You expected The Bieber to beat them out on my list?).  Diverse both thematically and musically, its laudable constants are energy, entertainment and quality songcraft.

Here is "Unknown Pleasures", one of the tracks I consider a standout --

"Life Park" is another absolute winner of a song, but the album is full of the them.  "Be Your Self", the opening track, veers to the prog side on the band's well crafted admonishment to accept one's own identity --

Some songs are slinky vamps, some feature spoken word segments, and all of them feature the band's depictions of memorable characters or not-completely-suburban observations of modern life.  Well, that and ferocious percussion.  And if it all is embellished by handclaps, horns, or an angry guitar line, so much the better.

I would be remiss if I didn't give you a taste of UV Race's punkier side --

UV Race lists its members as Marcus, Georgia, Ally-Pally, Sea-Snake, Emily, Daniel, Moses and Alexandra.

And let's end with the twisted triumph of "Gypsy King", featuring horns and the line "ain't life a pig".

Racism is available through Fuse in Australia and In the Red Records in the US.

In The Red Records
Big Cartel for UV Race

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday radio from Soliti

One day after I review yet another smashing Finnish band in Soliti's stable, they choose to issue a sampler, so you get great music from the frozen north two days in a row.  The excellent collection gives you songs (in some cases remixes) from their bands,  and I think that if you log in to Soundcloud (which can be done via Facebook) you can download the songs.  In any case, you can stream the collection to your heart's content.

Soliti Music
Twitter ( @Solitimusic )

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

REVIEW: Big Wave Riders - Life Less Ordinary

Big Wave Riders are one of the many excellent bands to emerge from Finland recently.  With a sound that encompasses multiple genres of guitar-based rock and pop, with echo and other effects, surf rock touches and even dance rock, their 2012 LP, Life Less Ordinary, is a bold and self-confident announcement that the band is not to be ignored.  And if you like fuzzed-out guitar, hazy vocals and rock anthem hooks, you'll love these guys.

Sample Life Less Ordinary with the infectious opening track --

A good example of the group's refusal to play between the lines others might expect of them is "Sunny Season" -- a delightful guitar and synth dream pop song that verges on dance rock territory --

A group this competent, and this willing to follow their own muse, seems to me to be well positioned for success in a music world in which tastes are fickle.  And as an opening statement, Life Less Ordinary can only be regarded as a triumph.

Big Wave Riders are Teppo (vocals/guitar), Aleksi (bass/backing vocals), Anssi (guitar/backing vocals/keys), Pete (drums), and Lauri (sax/synth/guitar).  The band was founded in 2010, and issued an EP in 2011.  Their music is released on Finnish label Soliti.

Artist's webpage at Soliti Music
Soliti Music

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wake Owl - remix of "Gold" by Noah Lenox/Magic Sword

Wake Owl is a new folk rock artist (Colyn Cameron) - with a single, "Gold" our currently, and an EP Wild Country, expected out in January.

We featured the single on initial release here, and here is an electronic remix of "Gold" by Noah Hyde:

It's an interesting take on the song, and the added effects don't detract from Cameron's vocals, which to me are the strongest part of the song.

REVIEW: The Colourful Band - The Colourful Band

Edinburgh-based singer songwriter Ian McKelvie is a man with a talent for writing songs that tell stories and express emotions simply and concisely, and then wrapping them in a folk rock wrapper that makes it warm, familiar and exciting.  The genius isn't it trying to contrive the most interesting story or express the greatest love/rage/sorrow; it is in expressing the story you have in a way that people want to hear it.  Some guys and gals have the knack -- like Billy Bragg, Sixto Rodriguez,  and Paul Westerberg.  Add Ian to that list.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that he is graced with a velvet voice.

Ian previously issued a couple of critically well received EPs in 2009 and 2010, but this is his first LP with his collaborators known as The Colourful Band.  The album is a collection of the best songs he has written over the past few years, including songs from the EPs and a tune that featured on the soundtrack of a BBC series, recorded at Chem19 and Gargleblast studios.  Here is one of my favorite songs on the album, "New Town Girls".  I think most of us can relate to it without even having been to Edinburgh.  Depending on where you live, you can just substitute the appropriate local geographic reference -- upper east side girls, Rodeo Drive girls, South Beach girls, Back Bay girls -- I expect you have the picture in mind.  And it ably displays Ian's knack with a song.

The eleven tracks on the album include energetic songs, such as three of the first four tracks, "Always the Summer" (name checking Joe Strummer in a clever way), the rousing "Are You Waiting?" and "Easter Road" (which begins "She's been thinking about having a baby and he's been thinking about joining the navy and I, I just wanna be somewhere else"), and slow, reflective tunes such as "Getting Famous Is Easy", "Hollow Lonely Heart" (showing his crooner chops and admitting his passion for Scarlet Johansson), "I Want to Go Home" and "In the Meantime" (which may remind the listener of James Taylor or Tom Rush).

You can stream Easter Road at the Soundcloud link below, but alas I have no clip for the majestic "Into the Bright Sun From Shadow", but you can stream a segment here.  And you should stream it.  In my view, it is one of those songs that prompts a listener to bump an album up an entire grade.

The Colourful Band (at various times) are Dave Curry (drums), Jon Tyler (guitar), Fraser Stewart (drums), Ian McKelvie (vocals, guitar), Steve Tonge (bass), and Dave Steel (drums).  The Colourful Band is out now on Vet Records.  I expect non-UK fans can source it at digital outlets.  And Amazon in the US offers the MP3s for $7.99.

Twitter ( @McKelvie_Ian )
Amazon link for album

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wild Cub - new video for "Thunder Clatter"

We've been following this Nashville electro-rock duo for most of 2012, and thought you'd like to have a look at their latest video - for the song "Thunder Clatter" from Youth. This song leans heavily in the Afro-pop direction that's caught on among young rock bands in the last couple of years - the difference being, to me, the vocals here are fuller.

Our review of Youth is here, and if you search "Wild Cub" on our site, you can see some other videos as well as a few free song downloads we've featured. The visual part of art is pretty important to these guys - lead man Keegan Dewitt is also a film composer. Wild Cub is a very impressive new band - it's all good but I especially like Dewitt's vocals.

Friday, December 14, 2012

REVIEW: Emotional - Feeling

Emotional is the name of the solo project of Brian Wakefield of San Francisco band Melted Toys.  Its debut album Feeling was recently released via Portland, Oregon label Gnar.  And please believe me when I tell you that Feeling is one of the most intriguing and satisfying indie pop albums I've heard this year.  Is is lush, melodic, hook-filled and inventive.  Brian loves his reverb, echo and other psychedelic effects at least as much as he likes his jangling guitar.  This is an album that encourages you to sit back and let images of hazy sunny California afternoons flood your mind.  Sample it here with "I Hate the Sun" (with UK artist Keel Her (Rose Schafeller) guesting -- there will be more on her music later this month).

Emotional - I Hate the Sun ft. Keel Her from Gnar Tapes on Vimeo.

There is a lot of technology in the effects, but the atmosphere remains lo-fi, chill, and a bit warped.  Feeling has become my go-to relaxing music lately.  I don't think that will change soon.

The entire ten-track album only costs $7, so I think it ranks as one of the holiday bargains.  Stream the entire record here and judge for yourself.

Gnar Tapes

The Soul Corner - The Fantastic Johnny C, "Boogaloo Down Broadway"


If you are going to be a one hit wonder, make it good, and while you are at it, have a memorably awesome name.
And The Fantastic Johnny C and his 1967 classic "Boogaloo Down Broadway" certainly fit the bill.

Johnny Corley was working in Philadelphia and singing in church when he got discovered by local producer Jesse James, who recruited him to record "Boogaloo Down Broadway".  Reportedly, James  played the resulting unreleased recording for a friend of his who said, "Oh man, that's fantastic. What are you going to call this guy?"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Introducing: The Holiday Crowd

Fans of indie pop should become familiar with Toronto's The Holiday Crowd.  Their most recent release is the double A-side single "Sick Days".  The record is available on Shelflife Records in the US and New Romantic in Canada.

Both "Sick Days" and flip side "Born Under A Different Sign" boast upbeat arrangements with excellent vocals that may remind one of Morrissey or Ian Curtis in a buoyant mood.  This is great driving music that never fails to put me in a good mood.

The Holiday Crowd is Imran Haniff (vocals), Dave Barnes (drums), Alex Roberts (bass), and Colin Bowers (guitar).

"Never Speak of it Again", from their January 2012 release Over the Bluffs --

Shelflife Records
Twitter ( @theholidaycrowd )

Introducing: Hunk!

Would you like some Hunk! for the holiday season?  I suppose you are the picky type and you want more information before committing.  Well then, Hunk! are two young ladies and one young man from Ireland (Galway, Cork and Kerry, to be specific).  Sundra and Niamh founded the band and later added Ger to pound the drums.  On aural evidence, this crew likes lo-fi, fuzzy guitar pop and is unafraid to make some noise.  Their debut into your world comes via Livingston, Scotland's Soft Power Records, which is releasing a two-track single on December 17.  Note that the record will be available only on a very limited basis: 100 cassettes with a download.  Whether separate downloads are available after the cassettes are gone, I do no know.  Listen to the tracks below, and if you like them contact Soft Power soon, because their stuff sells out quickly.

Bandcamp link for single
Twitter ( @hunkband )
Soft Power Records

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

REVIEW: Trapped Mice - Winter Sun

Winter Sun from Edinburgh's Trapped Mice wears its heart on its sleeve.  And the heart is bruised, melancholy, angst-ridden, uncertain and perhaps a bit scared, although redemption raises its wary head from time to time.  But the music is beautiful none the less, and it is performed with power and sincerity.  And the discerning listener will find humor among the gloom, especially if your sense of wit is best enjoyed like your Martinis.

I'm under no delusion that this music will hit the sweet spot for every listener, as appreciation requires buying-in to the palpable intensity and, ultimately, the vocal style of Ian Tilling.  But at its best, it is the kind of music you drop everything to hear.  Try it out with the song which, for me, is the centerpiece of the album -- the lovely "Mona Lisa".

The genre could loosely be described as chamber pop or alternative folk, but there is a bit of a rougher edge which many have compared to Texas band Okkervil River.  The themes include endings and transitions, and overall the album has a wintry feel that echos the name of the record.

The band is Ian Tilling (vocals and guitar), Dave Friend (guitar and keyboard), Brian Pokora (bass and ukulele), Lucie Miller (violin and keyboard), and Barry Jackson (drums).  While they previously issued a couple of EPs, Winter Sun is their debut album.

Winter Sun was recorded on Ian's computer in his bedroom, but was professionally mastered.  While the result may seem a bit lo-fi, that approach seems to fit the material.

The album is out now on Armellodie Records.  You can stream it in its entirety below.

Twitter ( @trappedmice )

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New video for Boomgates' "Flood Plains"

I was very impressed with Double Natural, the 2012 LP from Australia's Boomgates (WYMA review) released on Bedroom Suck Records.  I have a good excuse to mention them again, as they have released a video for the lead track, "Flood Plains".  Here you go --

Boomgates - Flood Plains from Nathan Ceddia on Vimeo.


REVIEW: The Bixby Knolls - Near And Undear

Bixby Knolls is an LA-based heavy rock band led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Curt Barlage and features the talents of drummer Sammy Fayed, bassist Christian Morales and guitarist Cesar Saez De Nanclares. It's LA glam rock, and Near & Undear features some rock influences any soul-loving hard rock band would be proud to claim: Roxy Music, The Four Tops, The Clash, Joy Division, The Stones, New York Dolls, Primal Scream... as lead man Barlage claims: “Our record reminds us of Bobby Gillespie and Joe Strummer in a fist fight.” Sometimes you can hear a band and guess what's in their record collection. If a band is willing to tell you up front about their record collection, what's left but to assess whether they did it justice?

Lead track "Supervised War" is heavy as can be, all tribal drumbeat, glam noise guitar and disaffected vocals. Next up is "Through The Cracks" (available for download here) - a slow-burning song with about 2:00 of drums and chanted vocals with a couple of savage guitar breaks:

"It's All A Lie" is a soul/psych/fuzz workout, and "Runnin' And Runnin'" (in my estimation, the best song on the record) juxtaposes a ridiculously catchy Four Tops drum/bass line and soulful Barlage vocal with another hypnotic fuzzy guitar lead. This is some very fun music, which leads to the obvious question, how would this come across live? By way of answer, here's a video of "Running And Running":

"Reina Del Mezcal" brings in some Tex-Mex organ, but again it's backing very strong fuzzy lead guitar and Barlage's R&B-meets-glam vocals... as well as several changes in tempo. "Waking Up The World" and album closer "Want It All" turn up the punk influences - calling to mind New York Dolls as well as Jim Carroll Band (remember them?). "Autumn Will Fall" is a little more straightforward rock song with, again, plenty of good guitar work, perhaps even a bit of jangle.

Over the course of the record, the band plays with these and other influences, always with Barlage's strong vocals up front, a rock-solid rhythm section of Fayed and Morales, and slashing riffs from Saez De Nanclares and Barlage. In terms of the completeness of their self-proclaimed list of influences, I'd say they could proudly add Alejandro Escovedo (especially in light of his side projects Buick McKane and The Nuns) It's an exhilarating journey over the course of 11 songs that ensures The Bixby Knolls will be worth keeping an eye on.

REVIEW: King Post Kitsch - Repulsive Sunsets EP

If it takes When You Motor Away to lead the coverage for Repulsive Sunsets EP, the new release from King Post Kitsch, then we'll do it.  And we'll take the point position with our usual disregard for our personal safety, as well as the rules of spelling, grammar and common sense.  We only care about the music anyway.

Where was I? Oh yes -- Repulsive Sunsets EP.  The first essential thing to know about the music fashioned by Glasgow's Charlie Ward and his musical-alter-ego-which-has-developed-into-a-real-live-band King Post Kitsch is that the songwriting really is a cut above most of what is out there.  And the really remarkable thing about that quality is that Charlie manages aggressive garage stompers, acoustic folky songs, and everything in between (well, no disco or EDM yet) with convincing mastery. Perhaps this effect is at least partially due to Charlie's work as a sound engineer, or perhaps it is the inevitable outcome of a dark arts ritual (the latter is beyond or expertise since our goth intern failed to return from a latte run).

The second essential thing is the ability of Charlie and the band to assure you that they are all-in on the music.  If you're going to devote the time to listen, they are going to play with passion and drip sweat to make it worth your while.  Would you like to sample it?  Of course you would.  Here is the lead and title track -- dare I suggest that it is a thinking man's garage anthem?

The second track, "Every Face", displays the band's restraint, and serves as a bridge to the the moody and faster-paced "Blood and Glitter".  In this track, the spare instrumentation -- first a repetitive guitar line and then a piano -- frame and highlight the lyrics.

With track four, "Make the Same Faces Whether Fuck or Fight", we are in garage-stomper territory with a a roots freak-out on guitar and a bit of distortion.  The lyrics are simple, but one of life's simple truths doesn't necessarily require footnotes, does it?

The EP closes with an acoustic version of the title track.  A little percussion and guitar and a solo vocal performance which allows you to appreciate the lyrics.  And those lyrics -- a large dose of delicious bitterness wrapped in a pretty song.  It really provides a fine close to the album.

And this brings us to the final essential thing about King Post Kitsch -- when you get finished exploring this EP, his 2011 LP The Party's Over, and if you were lucky enough, some of his prior work which isn't available now, you'll wish that Charlie stopped eating, drinking and trying to live a life because we need more King Post Kitsch.  I think he's being a wee bit selfish.  However, with a live band for the first time, this release has the feel of a coming out party, so let's cut the debutante some slack as I think there is more to come.

Repulsive Sunsets EP is released by Edinburgh's Song By Toad Records, and it is out now.

Bandcamp (for prior LP and a single)
Twitter ( @kingpostkitsch )
Song By Toad Records

Monday, December 10, 2012

New Americana Discovery - Joey Kneiser: Moonlight For The Graveyard Heart

Glossary's Joey Kneiser has an EP, Moonlight For The Graveyard Heart coming out tomorrow (Dec. 11), and it's a very enjoyable piece of Americana. When I say "Americana", think beyond just "anti-Nashville" and include in your universe artists like The Band. Because (and I know this is a very strong statement) this 5-song EP reminds me of some of Rick Danko's work, both in the Band and his solo stuff.

Kneiser's got a very pleasant but slightly off-kilter croon, and on this disc has created five really enjoyable slices of well-sung folk-rock. Lead track "So Many Midnights Ago" features pretty sparse instrumentation backing his plaintive wail about lost times and forgotten people - really, just an acoustic guitar and some synthesizer for the first 2:30, then the song fills out into a lush piece of pop that calls to mind Wilco's Summerteeth or something similar (which, in turn, if we're honest with ourselves, calls to mind lush 70's pop like ELO). The second cut, "Born With A Black Eye" starts out in the lush pop territory, with some gentle, meandering guitar sounds - the song reminds me quite a bit of an old favorite, "Moonlight Mile". Given the album's title, I don't suppose that's entirely a coincidence.

Enough with the comparisons to album rock titans of the '70's... take a listen... and for $4 you can take it with you and listen any time you want.

I really like this record, and a little more each time I listen. Score another one for This Is American Music.

REVIEW: Dignan Porch - Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen

If you are a frequent reader of these pages, you already will be familiar with two bands that we think are recording excellent psychedelic rock, Radar Eyes and Bare Mutants (both from Chicago, by the way).  Add to that list, with star if you please, London's Dignan Porch.  You can be sure that this group has the hazy psychedelic sound completely dialed in, and any doubters need only listen to the evidence on their sophomore LP, Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen.  The astute fan may note that the album was released on Captured Tracks several months ago.  Yes, it is true that I'm late on this review, but my delay was unavoidable and involves matters of national security.  More or less.  And in any case, this post is in time for your year-end lists and holiday shopping, so I think we are good here.

Dignan Porch originally was the solo recording project of Joe Walsh.  The current line-up consists of Joe Walsh on guitar and vocals, Sam Walsh on lead guitar, Hayley Akins on keyboard and vocals, Ben Goodwin on bass and Stephen Keane on drums. In addition to the psychedelic element I noted, there are bits of shoegaze, and at times when the keys kick in I detect a resemblance to Inspiral Carpets.  And they display a great ear for both atmosphere and melody while never forgetting the hooks.  If you like fuzzy, lo-fi psychedelic rock, this may be your first choice.

Try out their great sound on tracks "Pink Oil" and "Sad Shape" --

If you want to stream the entire album, or buy the digital via Bandcamp, here is the link.  I believe the vinyl may be sold out.

Twitter ( @DignanPorch )
Captured Tracks

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Introducing: Matt Norris & The Moon

Today's weekend introduction is Edinburgh-based folk rock band Matt Norris & The Moon.  The band's origins date back to 2009, when Matt Norris and Tom MacColl met while attending university in Edinburgh.  The group was completed with the addition of Dave Law, Helen Cookson and Dale Birrell.  Their style includes multi-part harmonies and a full arrangements featuring guitars, fiddle, drums, flute, accordion, stand up bass, keys, and trumpets.  Listening to this band is improving my rainy Sunday by a considerable measure.

"Roots Below" is the lead track on their This Kingdom EP, which was released earlier this year on 17 Seconds Records.

This video for EP track "Shadow From the Sun" includes clips from Edinburgh's Hogamanay celebration.

Here is a stream of the entire EP, which is available at the Bandcamp link.

Twitter ( @mattnandthemoon )

Friday, December 7, 2012

REVIEW: Mike Cooley - The Fool On Every Corner

In a way, it's nice to have an album from a member of the Truckers extended family that isn't their usual Life-Changing Event. Mike Cooley's new live disc, The Fool On Every Corner, is anything but that - it's a good time, but rather than hollowing you out, it kind of makes you smile. It's well-played, well-sung, and above all, fun.

First of all, Cooley's a terrific acoustic guitar player - and most of the music on here is finger-picked. In addition to the overall high level of the playing on this record, there is some really pretty, almost delicate playing on some of the songs - check out the intro to "Loaded Gun In The Closet".

Second of all, he's (as you already know if you're familiar with the Truckers) a very entertaining country vocalist. Examples on this disc abound - "Marry Me", "Three Dimes Down" (including a detour where Cooley has a little fun with that song's similarity to the Bob Seger standard "Rock And Roll Never Forgets") and a cover of "Behind Closed Doors", just to name a few.

But third, and to me a reason I'd keep coming back to this record, Cooley's a pretty engaging guy. Funny, bright and quick on his feet, he peppers the concert with well-placed commentary as well as responses to audience shout-outs. Describing his trepidation at facing an audience alone, with nothing between him and them but an acoustic guitar and a mike: “When you don’t do it normally, it’s terrifying. I try to relax, but I’ll probably never be able to sit down in a chair on stage as easily as I sit down on a toilet behind a closed door. That’s the goal—somewhere in between,” he deadpans. “I set the bar high.”

The songs that make up The Fool On Every Corner were recorded by longtime Drive-By Truckers’ producer David Barbe during a three-show run last March, beginning with a two-night stand at The Earl in Atlanta and closing at The Melting Point in Athens. In addition to the songs mentioned above and some DBT favorites like "Carl Perkins' Cadillac", there's a new song: "Drinking Coke and Eating Ice".

Self-deprecating, talented and funny, Cooley has added a very enjoyable chapter to the growing legend of the Drive-By Truckers... he'll be on tour, solo acoustic, in 2013. I'd recommend catching him if you get the chance.

The Soul Corner - Clarence Carter "Slip Away"

I saw my man and WYMA favorite Charles Bradley this week, and he and his great band tore it up as usual. Fantastic show.

A highlight was a perfect cover of the 1968 classic "Slip Away":

"Slip Away" was recorded at Rick Hall's FAME studios with the great Muscle Shoals house band shortly before that band left to found its own studio a year later.

I dig the wah wah guitar here and love that the silky smooth sound of the song nicely offset its rather nasty lyrical intentions.

Clarence Carter was one of few soul singers of his time who was a college graduate, earning his degree from Alabama State College in 1960 after studying at the Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega.  

Carter performed for decades and never failed to include "Slip Away".  
I can't believe I waited this long to include this one in the Soul Corner - thanks for the suggestion Charles Bradley! And here is the one and only Mr. Bradley performing "Slip Away" earlier this year:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wild Cub - Free download of remix of "Straight No Turns" from Youth

Nashville electro-rock duo Wild Cub has another song for you, a free download of a remix of "Straight No Turns" by Kisses:

We've featured these guys before, including a review of their debut album Youth here. It's full of warm electronic music with lead vocalist Keegan DeWitt's soulful vocals. If you like this cut, the album's well worth checking out. If you already have it, consider this a bonus!

New Power Pop Discovery: Young Rival - Stay Young

Young Rival is a Canadian (Hamilton, Ontario-based) band playing some extremely catchy, but at the same time fairly edgy, guitar rock. I categorize it as power pop, and that's the easiest genre to identify it with, but the stuff really has a different feel to it, in the same way The Strokes and The Raconteurs do. It's guitar pop and enjoyable for all the reasons guitar pop is, but with some edges and angles thrown in for fun.

The first song, "Black Popcorn" is a perfect example - a punked-up take on Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" backbeat with what turns into a very jangly guitar line, and finally some harmony vocals take it all home.

The catchiest song on the record is "Give Me Two Reasons" - channeling Fountains of Wayne, Eric Carmen and old Beatles 45's to make an irresistible little song (and a freaking hilarious video):

Have they got your attention? Here is "Nothing You Know Well":

Also, a free download of that one is available:








And, finally, "Black Is Good"... maybe you will understand why I'm coming up with The Strokes as a touchpoint:

The band consists of Aron D'Alesio on vocals and guitar, Noah Fralick on drums and John Smith on bass, and they make no pretense about their love of British Invasion pop... and they even get a little psychedelic here and there, so I'll go ahead and invoke the Zombies too.

This is a terrific record which has grown on me each time I have listened - catchy from the first time I listened, but revealing itself as more than just a retro garage revival record... Sort of along the lines of Nick Waterhouse and The Allah-La's, a band that is taking great influences and making them its own.

Read more at the Young Rival website.

REVIEW: Parakeet - Shonen Hearts EP

The Shonen Hearts EP is the debut offering from London's Parakeet.  The band is a project of  Mariko Doi, bassist from Yuck, James Thomas, drummer from The History of Apple Pie, and guitarist Jon Jackson.  Those other bands are ongoing, and I don't think that Doi and Thomas have abandoned their mates, but Parakeet gives this trio a chance to explore different musical expressions.  Specifically, Shonen Hearts EP is a scuzzier and punkier take on the noise pop and psychedelia spectrum.  The energy and noise, with Doi's pop vocals riding the aural wave, make for a fun listening and a debut that leaves us interested in the next offering from Parakeet.

Here is the video for the title track --

The intent to provide riffs with harder edge is evident on opening track "Toumono", and "Bananafish" rocks just as hard, albeit with a bit less distortion.  "Shonen Hearts" is the showcase track, in my view, a great bit of psychedelic pop.  Closer, "Darumsanga" is a excellent combination of alternative rock and punk, perhaps like Dinosaur Jr fronted by the Slits.

You can stream the entire EP here:

Twitter (@parakeetband )

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Free EP from The District Attorneys

The spring 2012 LP from Athens/Atlanta band The District Attorneys impressed us quite a bit (our review here).  Drew Beskin, Chris Wilson, T.J. Mimbs, Walker Beard and Frank Keith IV dish out soulful singing, crunchy guitars and hooky melodies that go down just right.  Apparently, the boys are in a seasonal mood, as they have recorded Jr., a four-track EP.  It is good, and it is available free!  You can listen here, and you can download at Bandcamp.  You may also want to go back and investigate Slowburner if you missed it this Spring.  It is out on the This Is American Music label.

This Is American Music

REVIEW: Finn LeMarinel - Violence

Neither acoustic folk nor singer songwriter genres are my primary focus.  But some works just demand space on a blog devoted to helping bring deserving musicians a wider audience.  Violence, by Glasgow's Finn LeMarinel, is such an album.  What makes it special?  Certainly, part of it isFinn's wistful high tenor and distinctive guitar style, with a syncopated tapping that gives some songs a Brazilian feel and generally adds depth to the arrangements.  But the songs themselves, rich in imagery and intimate in feel, are the stars of the show.

Finn's art isn't just what he does with his voice and fingers.  It is what he doesn't do.  Violence has a confident sense of space, and what space can do to emphasize the sound.

You can stream the entire album here.  If you like it, hit the Bandcamp link below.  The label is Ubisano.

Finn also is the frontman for the indie rock band Trapped in Kansas.

Twitter ( @FinnLM )

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Introducing: Paper Boats

A bit of post punk 80s guitar/synth pop and a full measure of dream pop is the appealing recipe for Guilford, UK's Paper Boats.  Only formed in early 2012, they already have a five-track debut EP, Youth Values, available on their Bandcamp site.  There is a bit of The Cure in this lot, and I mean that in a good way.

If you like that, you may be interested to know that the opening track is available to download at the band's Soundcloud page (link below).

The members of Paper Boats are Grant Williams, Tristan Fisher, Jason Wood, Rupert Harvey, and Ellie O'Shea.

Twitter ( @PaperBoatsUK )