Tags: Boyracer, Debt Offensive Records, Kent State, Paranoid Futures, Sonic Youth, Swervedriver, Times New Viking
This week I was blasted out my post turkey malaise while listening to Chromewaves Radio. Out of my cheap earbuds came some of the best possessed white noise I’ve heard in ages. Kent State, not the Ohio one but the Los Angeles one hit a sweet spot that is somewhere in the red and poking its bony elbows into Sonic Youth, Swervedriver, Boyracer and Times New Viking territory.
Earlier this year the band released The Wrong Side of History which collects all of their cassette only releases onto a single slab of vinyl. The album is also up on their bandcamp site as a free/pay what you like download. Yes, to some noise annoys, but Kent State can deftly bury a melody just beneath their squall or stash a bass line somewhere deep under their maelstrom and make you feel like you’re floating on a bed of spikes just above the fray. Bleeding ears never felt so good.
Tags: Ennio Morricone, Ravi Shankar, Serge Gainsbourg, The Limiñanas, Trouble In Mind, Velvet Underground
In French, the ground floor of a building is not the first floor it’s the rez-de-chaussée. The first floor is the second floor and so on.So if you’re on the third floor in France, you’d be on the fourth floor in the US. The Limiñanas have just released their third album. It really is their third album, the French don’t count albums like the floors of buildings.
The Limiñanas are not quite classic french pop. More like classic french pop through a haze of hashish wafting from a dark room filled with strange characters smoking from hookahs. Walk out for a breather and the brightness temporarily blinds you as you squint to adjust to the undulation of the sea breaking on the beach. The Limiñanas record in their Mediterranean cocoon and take in the unique sights and sounds of their surroundings and mix them better known quantities like Velvet Underground, Serge Gainsbourg and Ravi Shankar to make records that sound partly like the place they live and partly of some made up world that only exists in their imaginations. Costa Blanka is an album with a unique sense of place. Put it on and be transported to that place, rez-de-chaussée…premier étage…étage supérieur.
Tags: Blow Pops, Fishrider Records, Let's Active, Males, Prophet Hens, Tommy Keene, Wannadies
Power pop ain’t exactly a path to riches and fame. There are hundreds of powerpop bands littering the footnotes of rock history. So when I hear a band described as powerepop I fear for their future. So for their sake let’s not call Males powerpop. How about helium powered pop?
Males being a band of males from Dunedin, New Zealand. Because of this mere fact you might be expecting me to be spouting off comparisons to a myriad of Flying Nun bands, but you would be wrong, at least in this case. Their hyper active pop songs remind me more of the Wannadies, Blow Pops, Tommy Keene and a little bit of Let’s Active. Based on that kind of lineage it’s fairly obvious that pop hooks come at you a quick pace and they don’t let up. Their nine song record is packed full of two minute pop candies that fly by so fast that you barely have time to go through addiction or the subsequent withdrawal. My main complaint is that it’s over too fast. Maybe one more verse on a couple songs would help it stick to your ribs better. As it is, I keep it on repeat and listen to it twice instead of once to get a longer lasting effect.
Fishrider Records also of Dunedin, who you may remember put out the excellent Prophet Hens record earlier this year, have just released the record on CD, vinyl and digital. You could call it an album if this your introduction to them. Other trainspotters will note that it actually compiles a previous EP, a single that never came out on Manic Pop and fresh set of songs not heard before. In any case the nine songs are now available in one convenient package. Now if I could just figure out what the singer is singing on the chorus of So High. It sounds like “I’ve been getting academic ulcers.” If that is the case, it’s perfect study music for those all-nighters.
Tags: Blank Dogs, Chastity Belt, Childbirth, Cold Beat, Fad Gadget, Grass Widow, Neo Boys, Pony Time, Tacocat, The Normal, Total Control, Wire
Cold Beat and Childbirth at Cairo, Seattle | 9 November 2013
Everything about the neighborhood in Capitol Hill where Cairo the tiny clothing store, art space and music venue is nestled screams density. Try to park a your car near the place and you will likely be driving in circles for a while. Try to get a good spot in the back room of the of the space in the shop where bands play and you’ll either be on your tip toes trying to sneak a peak of the band or resign yourself to just hearing them play.
Cold Beat packed them in like sardines to the back room at Cairo last night. Lucky for me I’m tall, so I was able to sneak peaks of the San Francisco band while doing ballet moves.
Cold Beat are led by Grass Widow bassist Hannah Lew. Lew, taking a respite from Grass Widow, is exploring the darker regions of post punk that Grass Widow seems to be veering more on the trajectory of their last album and the Milo Minute single where they covered both Wire and Portland’s Neo Boys. With Cold Beat she takes a slightly more colder synth approach, employing influences like Fad Gadget and the Normal with some current day Blank Dogs and Total Control.
The set included both Worms and Year 5772 from band’s debut EP just out now on Lew’s own Crime on the Moon label as well as bunch more similar sounding speed induced and harmony drenched rushes or adrenaline. Sitting on top of one of the amps behind Cold Beat there was a box that was labeled goth. I don’t think they let the goth out of the box, but the speedy dark harmony laced songs threatened it at every turn.
stream: Cold Beat – Worms (from the Cold Beat 12″)
Seattle’s self-described super-group Childbirth capped off the evening. Childbirth are the illegitimate offspring of Chastity Belt, Tacocat and Pony Time. They’re sort of a punky joke band. Actually that’s exactly what they are. Looking like they just snuck out of Swedish Hospital, they played with hospital gowns on and had songs like I only fucked you as a joke and Breast Coast.
I missed the first band of the night Display because I was driving around looking for parking. You can read an interview that Hannah Lew did with the SF Bay Guardian about Cold Beat here.
Tags: Jesus and Mary Chain, Pop Will Eat Itself, Ramones, Randy Records, Slushy
You might remember back in the mid 1980′s Pop Will Eat Itself asked What’s so fuckin’ good about candy? Nearly 30 years later Chicago’s Slushy make you forget about the Mary Chain with their own ode to Candy. Well you sort of forget. It’s jangly and sparse like that Scottish band’s acoustic ballads but has a muscle edge to it that also reminds you a little of the Ramones. Honestly how can you go wrong with a set of credentials like that. Flip the record to its B-side Pocket and they mine a more overt powerpop vein. Remember how the Ramones put leather jackets on the Beach Boys’ surf and sand and then the Mary Chain put a storm cloud of feedback on top of that? Slushy put a cherry on top.
Tags: Archers of Loaf, Couple Skate Records, Dinosaur Jr, Grunge, Hausu, Naomi Punk, Pacific Northwest, Slack Motherfuckers, Sugar, Swervedriver, Weed
At first I thought Weed were grunge. Maybe I thought it because they’re from the Pacific Northwest, Vancouver, BC to be precise, and their guitars rain torrents down on you. Their singer can also let loose with a monster scream, but also sound like he really means it…but not too much. You know, the cool kind of caring, emphatic but disaffected.
Then I thought better about the grunge thing, not knowing if they owned flannels or could grow facial hair in large amounts and they looked too young to have lived through the 90′s or if they did they don’t remember it. Yes on second thought, Weed aren’t really grunge, they’re more noisy slacker rock with a bit of 90′s shoegaze. like Dino Jr and Swervedriver with a little bit of Sugar. Who knows, if they existed back in the day they may have been offered a huge major label deal because they kinda sound grunge, and many bands were signed for lesser reasons.
As it is in these times, nobody signs to major labels especially a bunch of noisy popsters scraping the sky and tunneling the depths of rock with a great record like this.
You can stream Weed’s debut album Deserve in its entirety at the band’s bandcamp page.
Catch Weed live on the West Coast.
NOV 7 - Vancouver BC: Em Carr Parking w/ Cindy Lee, Kiss Painting
NOV 8 - Seattle WA: Heartland w/ Vats, Thee Samedi
NOV 9 - Portland OR: Recess Gallery w/ Hausu
NOV 10 - Eugene OR: Bonaroo Tattoo w/ Martian Manhunter
NOV 11 - San Francisco CA: Vacation w/ Permanent Collection
NOV 12 - Los Angeles CA: Almost Holden Gallery w/ Gangrene Gang, Mutant City
NOV 13 - Temecula CA: The Dial w/ Crisis Arm, Underpass
NOV 14 - Tuscon AZ: Topaz w/ Prom Body
NOV 15 - Las Vegas NV: Hellpop!
NOV 16 - Stockton CA: D Thrift Store w/ Surf Club, Monster Treasure, Satan Wriders
NOV 17 - Olympia WA: Old School Pizzeria w/ Naomi Punk, Broken Water, Vexx
Tags: A Frames, Captcha Records, Pere Ubu, The Fall, The Intelligence, The Lights, Yves/Son/Ace
When we last checked in on Seattle’s Dreamsalon, they were calling themselves Evening Meetings. After Erin Sullivan left, the remaining three Min Yee, Craig Chambers and Matthew Ford rechristened their pop noise machine Dreamsalon.
It’s a different name but Dreamsalon’s new album Thirteen Nights is essentially the band’s second album as it is forged in the same post-punk furnace as the Evening Meetings album. Thirteen Nights is tight and intense. The songs are sparse, built around a solid rhythm of Ford’s drumming and Yee’s bass. Chambers fills out the songs by raining sparks sparks down with both his guitar and roughhewn voice.
It’s fairly obvious listening to Dreamsalon that they were influenced by the Fall and the Fall of course are still around and making records, but they don’t make them like this anymore.
Tags: Day Rayvies, Galaxy 500, My Bloody Valentine, Popfrenzy, Ringo Deathstarr, Slowdive, The Boo Radleys
Why did Melbourne shoey-dreampoppers Day Ravies name themselves after the Kinks’ Ray Davies? Because Dave Davies wouldn’t have worked.Day Ravies as a name works, although every time I see the name the old man in me reverse the letters back to Ray Davies. What also works is the rayviedayvies debut album Tussle. Some songs are dreamy, some songs are shoey, some are jangley and some just plain ol’ pop.
As indicated by its kaleidoscopic cover, Tussle is a cornucopia of sound, a feast of aural pleasures. It overruns the cup with great songs that are influenced by Slowdive, Ringo Deathstarr, and the Boo Radleys to name a few. The band have three songwriters and singers, which provide a diversity to their sound, yet all three like loud guitars, space and Galaxy 500. Best shoegaze-dreampop record of the year honors goes to the Kinks, I mean Day Ravies!
Tags: Crystal Stilts, Echo and the Bunnymen, Sacred Bones, Slumberland, The Doors, Velvet Underground
Crystal Stilts at Barboza, Seattle | 15 October 2013
Crystal Stilts played to a dark room with blurry images projected onto a white sheet at the back of the stage last Tuesday night at Barboza. They seem like a band of recluses and would probably prefer to perform in complete darkness. Front man Brad Hargett still seems a bit awkward as the center of attention and guitarist JB Townsend still likes to lurk in the shadows, but there was just enough darkness and just enough light in their performance to make it great one.
They lunged into their set with Spirit in Front of Me the first song on their new album Nature Noir. It owes more than a little to Velvet Undergrounds‘s I’ll Be Your Mirror and All Tomorrow’s Parties. In fact, Crystal Stilts sound one Nico short of becoming the VU. I doubt Hargett would take it as a compliment, but his monotone is closer than I thought to Nico’s , so maybe all they need is banana.
The new album doesn’t have any obvious singles, but it is their most accomplished and varied record yet. It sees them deftly using strings on a few songs making it reminiscent of the Bunnymen‘s Ocean Rain in parts which is new for them. Of course they didn’t have a string section this night being so far away from home, but they didn’t really need one. The band were in a zone. With the lights off and the focus on the music, the band were shadows on the stage and they liked it that way. The set mixed favorites like Crippled Croon, Sycamore Tree, and Love is Wave in with the new slower more confident sounding songs like Star Crawl, Future Folklore and Worlds Gone Weird. This night was by far the best I have ever seen the Stilts play.
The band still come off as tenuously comfortable on stage, but this time the awkward tension was softened by the dark and intimate confines of the venue. Some bands wither with age the Crystal Stilts continue to lurch into new dark psych corners and scramble new cloudy nebulous heights both on record and in person.
Tags: Kelley Stoltz, Sub Pop, Third Man Records
Kelley Stoltz @ Chop Suey, Seattle | 7 October 2013
Poor Kelley Stoltz, dropped by Sub Pop after three records, played to a nearly empty Chop Suey last Monday night. I know Seattle is not a pop town and it skews more toward beard and flannel rock, but I really thought that there were more than ten folks in this town that are big enough fans of Stoltz’s near flawless pop to get off of their butts on a Monday night and come down for show. Alas, my faith in the human race and my city’s pop tastes continue to deteriorate. Even though he doesn’t have many fans in Seattle, he is a pillar of the San Francisco scene. Drumming part time for Sonny and Sunsets, producing the latest Mantles album and generally being pillar of the DIY community.
Stoltz had a full band with him (including a saxophone) and was in a gregarious mood despite the turnout. He kicked off the set with Pine Cone, which is his Fred Neil number and his ode to trying to get a pine cone through airport security. He mixed in some other oldies including Every Thought of Coming Back from Below the Branches with songs from his latest album Double Exposure which came out earlier this month on Jack White‘s record label Third Man. Stoltz has been churning out great pop for years and it doesn’t look like his well is running dry yet. The new songs were the highlights. The Johnny Cash bass of Are You My Love, the icy cool Double Exposure and the sweat Marcy all more than filled empty room. I was hoping to get to hear him play Kim Chee Taco Man the quirky first single from the record and Inside my Head the droney number that ends in something of a glassy Harold Budd/Brian Eno ode, but Stoltz being the showman, knows how to leave them wanting more. He closed his set with an energetic cover of the Compulsive Gamblers girl-group inspired Think It Over which saw him put down his guitar and totally go for it. A real blast!
Near the end of the set two frizzy haired guys were dancing in front of the stage. They were enthusiastic, but Stoltz deserves more than two geeky guys dancing in front him and a third one writing about the show.
stream: Kelley Stoltz – Are You My Love (from Double Exposure out on Third Man Records)