Tags: Slum of Legs, The Fall, Tuff Enuff Records, Velvet Underground
You may remember Brighton’s Slum of Legs from their demo last year. I certainly do! The six piece avant indiepop group have just released their first single on Tuff Enuff records. The record has elements of the Velvet Underground’s Lady Godiva’s Operation and the Fall’s Sing Harpy. Like both of those bands, Slum of Legs ably combine dissonance and melody into a delicious stew. I especially love how they feature the violin in both songs. It gives a cathartic tension and melancholy not often found in strictly guitar, bass and drum bands. Begin to Dissolve slithers and stabs at once. It’s downright Hitchcockian in the way it builds up tension that culminates in a bloodbath of noise at the end. The flip side Razorblade the Tape starts with a warm jangle that morphs into a near-anthem with the huge refrain of the band chanting “I won’t let you get away!” Don’t let this single get away!
stream & buy: Slum of Legs – Begin to Dissolve
Tags: 12XU, Gotobeds, Pavement, Protomartyr, Wire
So at this point it’s looking like Protomarty‘s Under Color of Official Light is the record to beat this year. But, hold on a minute, coming up fast on the outside lane is Pittsburgh’s Gotobeds with their debut album Poor People are Revolting. Just by their name and the album title you know the band have a sense of humor and relish double meanings and have some smarts. You may be scratching your head wondering if it’s pronounced like Robert Gotobed or got to bed? Do the band hate poor people or are they trying to incite a riot? The Gotobeds seem to have an irreverent sense humor and they are adept at letting loose with angular jabs of impertinence.
In the song Jenna Rations there’s a part that references Lou Reed, followed by someone letting the singer know he’s dead and then a sample that sounds like Lou himself uttering an expletive. The Gotobeds move pretty fast and if you snooze you miss a lot. They will likely remind you of Pavement from the way they sound. They’re certainly as sharp as Malkmus, Kannberg and the gang ever were and they bring a certain mania to their songs that keeps you wondering if it will all come crushing down into a giant pile of debris. It doesn’t. In fact it blows away so much of the mundanity of today’s scene that it (along with Protomartyr) may actually restore your faith in rock n’ roll. Nah, but it’s good!
stream: Poor People Are Revolting
Tags: Cabaret Voltaire, Girl One and the Grease Guns, Jesus and Mary Chain, Squirrel Records, Ultravox
After last year’s brash and audacious noise-fest of a record Here Come the Catastrophe Machines, it would take something downright amazing to to top that single. Well, Brighton’s Girl One and the Grease Guns don’t quite top that acme but they come close with their latest slab of in-the-red, treble filled sucre. Bashed Beaten and Broken(Trip the Switch)/Made Out of Perspex features more claustrophobic industrial clamor to raise your blood pressure. They obviously have some Cabaret Voltaire and Ultravox records and the same model drum machine that the Jesus and Mary Chain used on Automatic. Bashed Beaten and Broken is the more mechanically inclined A-side with its frosty vocals and synthesizers while the flip Made out of Perspex has more hemoglobin pumping through its wiring. The group are on a hot streak right now. Don’t miss it.
stream: Girl One and the Grease Guns – Made out of Perspex
Tags: Mint Records, Monomyth, Sloan, Superfriendz, The Church, The Dentists, The Dylans, The Sneetches, Thrush Hermit, Ultravivid Scene
When you think of bands from Halifax, Nova Scotia, if you don’t draw a blank, then you probably think of the 90’s grunge era bands like Sloan, Superfriendz and Thrush Hermit. You probably don’t think of jangly neo-psychedelic music and you most certainly wouldn’t think of bands like the Church, the Dylans, the Dentists, the Sneetches or Ultra Vivid Scene. Well, Monomyth are here to re-put Halifax on the map and change any previous ideas about what goes on up in the Canadian Maritime provinces.
The band have just released their debut album Saturnalia Regalia! on Mint records. It’s an accomplished record with great some great song featuring lush harmonies. The band features three songwriters in Seamus Dalton, Josh Salter, and Graeme Stewart, but they have a similar aesthetic and high quality which keeps the album engaging and interesting. Since this record arrived in the mail last week it’s been on constant rotation. Its bright songs and nods to obscure psychedelic bands without sounding too obvious make this one a keeper.
Tags: Beach Boys, James Hoare, Love, Max Claps, Slumberland Records, The Chills, The Free Design, The Left Banke, The Proper Ornaments, Ultimate Painting, Velvet Underground, Veronica Falls
The Proper Ornaments have finally released a proper debut album. After last summer’s download only download only release on Lo which compiled their previous EP on No Pain in Pop,their debut single on Make a Mess, and some odds and ends the duo of James Hoare and Max Claps have employed Slumberland Records to issue their album Wooden Head. James Hoare who’s main band is Veronica Falls and also moonlights in the Ultimate Painting is a busy guy these days. For the Proper Ornaments he’s teamed up with Argentinian and one-time Andrew Loog Oldham protege Max Claps.
The duo met in a shop that Hoare was working at while Claps’s girlfriend attempted to steal a pair of boots. It’s amazing what a shared love of the Velvet Underground can overcome. Named after a Free Deign Song, they get a lot of comparisons to the Beach Boys, the Left Banke and Love. But if you ask my I think they sound like the Chills.
Wooden Head is nearly as good as their No Pain In Pop EP, but I don’t know if I think that because the EP had five astonishingly good good with no filler. It was easy to take in while Wooden Head is bigger and requires more time to consume. The record is astonishingly good, it just requires more time to your head around. Hoare and Claps sing in unison on nearly every song. Their melancholy, sparse psychedelic songs have a sing-song quality that makes them both comfortable and haunting at once. Each unassuming song buzzes into your ears to create endorphin rushes, but music being like a drug it takes more to recreate that initial high each time.
Tags: Bratmobile, Canada, Childbirth, Courtneys, Devo, Edmonton, Lo-Fi, Tee-Tahs, Undertones, Wire
Edmonton, Alberta’s Tee-Tahs are full of glammy, lo-fi goodness and a few other things. Their debut album comes as download or on cassette if you can catch them live. Their songs are basic, catchy and full of attitude, irreverance and humor. With a song called Slutfucker and another one about “kicking cans and breaking stuff, fucking guys in parking lots” Tee-Tahs seem to be kindred spirits with Seattle’s Childbirth. Both bands have loads of attitude and a knack for being frank, funny and in your face when singing about about sex from the female perspective.
Tee-Tahs take a more poppy, post-punk approach to their songs though. You can hear the Undertones (Fun Forever could be new the Teenage Kicks), some Wire and maybe even some Devo, making these songs get under your skin quickly. And they come quickly too, nary a one longer than two minutes. You’re sure to find yourself with whiplash as surefire hits like Rat Babe, Fun Forever, Okee Dokee and Slutfucker come in swift succession.
stream and buy the album: Tee-Tahs – Buzzkill
Tags: Lilys, My Bloody Valentine, Shoegaze, Slowdive, Wildhoney
With all of the excitement surrounding the Slowdive reunion, you would think folks would be tempted to delve into some great shoegaze happening right now instead of 20 years ago. I don’t know what the future holds for Baltimore shoegazers Wildhoney. Will they be revered on 10 or 20 years? Who knows and who cares, because right now they are the hottest bunch of pedal loving, hallucination inducing, blistering guitar benders going today. Their second single came out recently on Photobooth records and dare I say, it bests last year’s debut. Seventeen has a slight ‘Funky Drummer” beat, maelstrom of guitars and angelic vocals, it’s part MBV, part Slowdive, and some Lilys. Folks, singles don’t get much better than this.
The band are planning a full length for later this year, and plan to tour the East Coast as well. In the meantime you can buy the physical old school 7-inch single from Photobooth Records or the download from the band themselves.
Tags: Cheap Trick, Dirtnap Records, Flamin' Groovies, Seattle, Sugar Stems, The Bangles, The Nerves, Velvet Crush, Victory Lounge
Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Sugar Stems have just released their third album Only Come Out at Night but this is the first time they’ve been to the west coast to play. Last night in Seattle was the first night of their tour that will take them all the way down the west coast and back to Wisconsin. It was also the first night of the Capitol Hill Block Party, but you never would have known it in Eastlake. The Lo-Fi, Black Lodge and Victory Lounge had shows and the block was full of people spilling out into the street.
Even though the Sugar Stems don’t get out to tour often, they probably have really jobs that limit their opportunities to hit the road, the Victory Lounge was comfortably full of power pop fans ready for a rare treat. The band, a five piece on record was down to four leaving their keyboard player back at home, but they still brought the goods with them. Singer Betsy Heibler has an amazing voice. It’s crystal clear and cuts right through everything even the twin guitar attack of her band. Heibler played mostly rhythm on her snazzy looking Rickenbacker while Drew Fredrichsen played most of the leads and sang backing vocals and lead one song, Haunted. Bassist Steph Swinney Conard was scrunched in between the guitarists and the crowd left little space in front since the Victory doesn’t have a stage. Drummer Jon Heibler’s in his Flamin’ Groovies t-shirt and lanky frame lurching over his comparatively small kit reminded me a little of Rick Menck of Velvet Crush, though he didn’t get up between songs and come to the mike to banter about rock history and cool records.
Being the first night of the tour, the band was in a good mood and cranked out the songs at a rapid pace. Out at night is their third album and is no dip in quality from the previous two. None of the records veer too far off the powerpop path and the band packed their set list exclusively with upbeat rockers. The Sugar Stems are a great mix of Cheap Trick, the Bangles, the Nerves. Their songs seem to have many of the same ingredients of those popular energy drinks the kids like to sip. My head was still buzzing from their set as I walked out onto the crowded street. I wasn’t sure if it was their power packed set or the fact that I had forgotten my earplugs and got the full bottle of energy drink unfiltered and unfined.
stream & buy: Sugar Stems – Only Come Out At Night
Catch the Sugar Stems on tour:
07/26 Portland, OR @ Slabtown
07/27 Longview, WA @ Chinese Garden
07/28 Oakland, CA @ Night Light
07/29 Riverside, CA @ Mission Tobacco Lounge
07/30 Los Angeles, CA @ Redwood Bar
07/31 San Diego, CA @ Ken Club
08/01 Orange County, CA @ House Of Blues
08/02 Tempe, AR @ Time Out Lounge
08/09 Appleton, WI @ Mile of Music
08/22 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
Tags: Biff Bang Pow!, Brilliant Corners, Cinema Red and Blue, Comet Gain, Crystal Stilts, Felt, Ladybug Transistor, Lloyd Cole, Pale Lights, The Soft City
The Pale Lights debut album Before There Were Pictures was recorded by at Marlborough Farms by Ladybug Transistor’s Gary Olson. Head Pale Light Philip Sutton who has been in Comet Gain and more recently the Soft City, employs the help of Crystal Stilts bassist Andrew Adler to play guitar and solicits the talents of the Stilts Kyle Forester for some keyboard flourishes. Come to think of it, is is nearly a Cinema Red and Blue reunion minus Comet Gain’s David Feck.
Sutton who was also the Cinema Red and Blue drummer gets out from behind the drums and is front and center with his jangly guitar and friendly croon. The album picks up where their four song self-titled EP from 2012 left off. The album breezes into the room like a long forgotten friend. The elegant maudlin pop that the band excels at evokes bygone classics like Felt, Brilliant Corners, Lloyd Cole and Biff Bang Pow! Like an old friend, you feel like you already know these songs and you kind of do if you are a fan of these other bands. If you don’t it’s time to make a new friend. Say hello to the Pale Lights!
stream & buy: Pale Lights – Before There Were Pictures
Tags: A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Alpaca Sports, Carsick Cars, Cheatahs, Doug Tuttle, Hollie Cook, Katerine, Metronomy, Posse, Pow!, Quilt, Ramona Lisa, Talbot Adams, The People's Temple, Thee Oh Sees, Woodentops
You guys probably thought this was over. Nah, I was just giving everyone a day of rest. So now we are at the end of the middle of it. A little longer but packed full of worthwhile stuff. I left a few out, because…because why? Because I’m tired and I want to get back to listening to records.
Hollie Cook – Twice (Mr. Bongo)
Hollie Cook who is the daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook has mastered it on album number two. Her brand of tropical/pop/reggae/dub sounds so fresh that you will wonder why nobody has come up with this elixir before. Twice has lush orchestration, obscure samples, phat beats and always Ms. Cook’s simmering voice bringing everything to brilliant life.
stream: Hollie Cook – Ari Up
You’ve heard it before. Band reunites, makes album after 20 year hiatus. Album sucks. It’s enough to make you ignore your glory days. The Woodentops are here to show you that old people don’t suck. After calling it a day 22 years ago the band are back with a new album. Yes they’ve aged, but they’ve made a record that holds onto the manic energy of their first incarnation, while adding a gravitas that makes up for any spring they may have lost in their steps. Granular Tales surely isn’t’ the record they would have made as follow up to Woodenfoot cops on the highway 20 years ago. It’s most likely much better.
stream: Woodentops – Third Floor Rooftop High
Ramona Lisa – Arcadia (Terrible)
Ramona Lisa is Caroline Polachek of Charilift. Her first solo album Arcadia is entirely and electronic affair, but it doesn’t sound cold or stilted at all. It is spacious and playful with a similar aesthetic to a Kate Bush or Goldfrapp record. She’s also brought an A list of songs so this is anything but some throw away indulgence solo album.
stream: Ramona Lisa – Backwards & Upwards
Talbot Adams – Talbot Adams (Space Case)
Talbot Adams self-titled solo album is wall to wall quality. What kind of quality you ask. Quality in the caliber of Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Wreckless Eric. Thing is, it came out on a tiny label and got no press. People complain all the time that music sucks these days. It doesn’t suck you just need to dig because Columbia Records is not bankrolling artists anymore, so you are not going to hear this stuff on the radio or read about it on your favorite indie music web site. Shame.
stream: Talbot Adams – Nashville Avenue
Carsick Cars – 3 (Maybe Mars)
If you hadn’t heard China is rising. The sleeping dragon has awoke so it is only a matter of time before the country moves beyond exporting smart devices and cheap toys and starts exporting rock n’ roll. At the forefront of the invasion and hailing from Beijing, this Chinese trio make noisy grooving kraut influence rock. It certainly isn’t a homegrown sound, but they do it very well. Three (coincidentally their third album) was co-produced by the Clean’s Hamish Kilgour and former Spaceman Sonic Boom.
stream: Carsick Cars – 15 Minutes Older
The People’s Temple – Musical Garden (Hozac)
Musical Garden might be the best People’s Temple record yet. The Lansing, Michigan band’s brand of heavy psych-gararge- punk hits the right nerve sounding raw, unhinged and just about to take a sip of Kool-aid.
stream: The People’s Temple – Smooth Move
Posse – Soft Opening (BADH)
Posse’s second album Soft Opening is just about perfect in lonely, melancholy and druggy kind of way. It will likely remind you of great records from the likes of Galaxy 500, Versus and Acetone. Its sharp guitar and vocal interplay between co-singer-guitarists Paul Wittmann-Todd and Sacha Maxim compliment each other as if they’ve been playing together all their lives. It’s a record with a measured confidence giving you the impression that Posse are wise beyond their years.
stream: Posse – Interesting Thing No. 2
A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent (Lefse)
Every good band evolves of course, and A Sunny Day in Glasgow have progressed from being an airy shoegaze band whose songs sometime floated by without anyone taking notice to being a band that has retained its shoegaze roots but with a major focus on out and out pop. Singers Anne Fredrickson and Jen Goma combine their voices to create powerful attention grabbing songs while the rest of band provide big swirling and sweeping frameworks to hang their voices.
stream: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – In Love with Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing)
Quilt – Held in Splendor (Mexican Summer)
Quilt pluck strings from psychedelic era Beatles, unearth dusty jangle from the Byrds and sprinkle misty mountain vocal harmonies from Crosby Stills and Nash all over the place. The Boston band’s second album surpasses their good debut with a batch of psychedelic circle dances that sparkle and shimmer, effortlessly creating their own brand of psych with one foot in the past and other in the next star system.
stream: Quilt – Tired & Buttered
Katerine – Magnum (Riviera)
Katerine started out making indiepop, then moved onto electronic, got really weird somewhere in there, became an actor, started his own girl group and now has gone disco. Over here in the states there is a large group of folks who worship Serge Gainsbourg. His records get reissued on a regular basis, and he gets tribute records made to him. I can only imagine that after Katerine passes away the same thing will happen to his records. In the meantime you have to call France to buy any of his stiff. His latest Magnum is loads of fun and slightly ironic based on the cover, but it also has some great beats and more than its share of excellent songs.
stream: Katerine – Les Dictateurs
Alpaca Sports – Sealed With a Kiss (Luuxury/Dufflecoat)
Is it possible to like both the angry Sleaford Mods and Protomartyr and happy Alpaca Sports? Maybe I like too much stuff but in my house there is a place for both. This Göteborg, Sweden duo explore the unbearable lightness of being twee on their debut album. It’s full of sunny harmless sounding fun, but underneath there is pain, hurt and anger. Sounding sweet and harmless isn’t as easy as you think and neither is making a record this intelligent and catchy.
stream: Alpaca Sports – He Doesn’t Even Like You
Pow! – Hi Tech Boom (Castle Face)
Hi-Tech Boom sounds like it was recorded in the 80′s, but it is a commentary on the current state of affairs in the Bay Area. High cost of living and high salaried tech workers pricing everyone out and vanillafying the place. Pow! sound numb, robotic in their outrage. Like everyone these days they are desensitized to the absurdity of reality. Let this record numb you so you feel no pain as the rich eat you.
stream: Pow! – Fire Hose
This Metronomy might not be what you’re expecting. It’s full of downbeat bedroom pop. It takes a few listens to adjust to it being so low key and understated, but the rewards are long lasting. Aquarius is the immediate one, but Love Letters soon grabs you with it’s piano riff and then Factory sounding instrumental Boy Racers hits you unexpectedly. Reservoir soon follows and before you know it you even like the most difficult ones.
stream: Metronomy – Aquarius
Doug Tuttle – Doug Tuttle (Trouble In Mind)
Former Mmoss guitarist strikes out on his own into New Hampshire’s White Mountains and conjures a brilliantly understated psychedelic masterpiece. Sometimes he sounds like he’s been listening to some West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, but he never goes off on the benders that that band did. The psych with a strict adherence to pop.
stream: Doug Tuttle – Forget the Days
Thee Oh Sees – Penetrating Eye (Castle Face)
It’s a brand new Thee Oh Sees. Dwyer decided to split with the rest of his band, but when it comes to records that doesn’t really matter since he usually records everything himself. As far as Thee Oh Sees albums go this one veers towards the more mellow psych side of things, like a sister of the Casstlemania record. Except that it isn’t quite that simple since there are few corkers in this batch of songs as well which contributes to the nice balance between hot and cool which is something new for this band.
stream: Thee Oh Sees – Encrypted Bounce (A Queer Song)
Cheatahs – Cheatahs (Wichita)
Cheatahs come from London, but the four guys in the band are from Canada, Germany, the US and the UK. There are obvious similarities to Swervedriver on their debut album as well as Buffalo Tom, My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr. You may have to pinch yourself as you reach for your copy of Melody Maker to make sure that you haven’t warped back to the 90’s. Nope, you haven’t, but this is good enough to make you think you might have just for a minute.
stream: Cheatahs – Geographic