Tags: Kisskiss Karate Passion, Les Disques Steak, Love Boat, The Beets
Not much is known about Kisskiss Karate Passion. On humid summer nights on a certain street corner in Bordeaux town, if you look up from the sidewalk you might notice a man sitting on a windowsill wearing a wife-beater and smoking cigarettes through a cat mask. Some notice and continue walking, but you being a sucker for French honky-tonk are mesmerized by the songs wafting from the open window.
They sound kind of punk, kind of folk, and seem able to kick up a pile of dust. Where did this masked fellow find this amazing record? He must have been down South. South being Spain or Italy. Did he get it on some beach where the Ramones and Beat Happening played on some dream bill long ago? Or was it just last week when the Beets and Love Boat rumbled somewhere?
Albums like this materialize from the steam coming up from the streets in far off places every now and then. They are rare, so you decide to ring the buzzer and hope this guy isn’t a psychopath.
Tags: Apples In Stereo, Feelies, Grand Pocket Orchestra, Neutral Milk Hotel, No Monster Club, Salako, Tenorio Cotobade, The Bats, The Clean, The Ginnels
Mark Chester may be one of the most prolific fellows you’ve never heard of. He’s released three albums in past three years under his solo moniker the Dublin, Ireland based Ginnels (Ginnels, according to my Merriam-Webster is a narrow passage way between two buildings). His last album was the sprawling 20 song Crowns which Chester said was inspired by records like 69 Love Songs, Sandinista and Bee Thousand. The problem was that all of the releases were digital only with the exception of one which was also released as a cassette. If you release a record into the ether does anyone hear it? Sure, a few people do but is it taken seriously? Can you truly love a digital download?
Chester no longer has to worry about questions like those because the Spanish label Tenorio Cotobade has just released Plumes on vinyl. Plumes collects songs from all three of Ginnels albums and slaps them onto a big piece of plastic so you can consummate your love these songs which have much in common with the likes of the Apples in Stereo, Salako, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Bats, and the Clean. Chester seems to be a bottomless well of them too. It’s like Like some mad scientist injected him with a serum that produces highly melodic, introspective, jangly compositions. Chester though adds a touch of weariness to this formula that makes them hold more weight than your standard caffeinated New Zealand loving indie band of today.
Tags: Chapter Music, Dick Diver, Eat Lights Become Lights, End of Time, Jeffery Drag, K, Paul Messis, Rocket Girl, State, The Great Pop Supplement, The Shivas, Useless Eaters, Wimps, Woodsist, Woolen Men
Part five of five of the mid 2013 album round-up is finally here. A little late as the this year’s National IPA day took precedence yesterday to actually putting this final installment online. Rest assured though, I was of very sober mind when considering all of these records.
Dick Diver – Calendar Days (Chapter Music)
“Blue, laid-back, playful and breezy. They will make your heart ache. In fact, they could have put a sticker on the cover stating: Warning. May cause slight bouts of melancholia.” Feeling this bad never felt so good.
stream: Dick Diver – Calendar Days
The Shivas – Whiteout (K)
The Shivas can stretch from Thee Oh Sees style romps to shimmering surf rides to Freakwater style country numbers. Whiteout is a wonderfully varied and accomplished album from a group of young Pacific Northwest punks.
stream: The Shivas - Thrill Yr Idols
Every now and then I like to put on a record that makes me feel like I am floating in space. Ladies and gentlemen, this record creates zero gravity with its motorik grooves that you will put it on repeat to avoid re-entry.
stream: Eat Lights Become Lights – Modular Living
Useless Eaters – Hypertension (Jeffery Drag)
Seth Sutton finally decides to stop recording into a boombox and the results are more than satisfying. It’s not just sound quality, he’s also upped his songwriting. Hypertension a huge leap in quality and already a classic punk record in my book.
stream: Useless Eaters – Hypertension
Woolen Men – Woolen Men (Woodsist)
Portland’s Woolen Men are only a three piece, but they pack the power of four or five. All three members sing which leads me to believe they all write songs, but they’re all well versed in the same school of rock. Their songs can sound like early REM, Wire, the Clean and dB’s.
stream: Woolen Men - Mayonnaise
Paul Messis – Case Closed (State)
Paul Messis is an obvious fan of the Dovers, West Coast Experimental Pop Art Band, the Who and the Squires, but instead of doing covers, he’s creating his own future classics.
stream: Paul Messis - Nickels And Dimes
Wimps – Repeat (End of Time)
“Wimps songs adhere to the three chords and a cloud of dust rule. They’re raw, immediate, self-deprecating and fun. And who doesn’t need humorous odes to naps, intoxication, bad jobs, and the general banality of life to crank up when you need to forget about your sucky life?”
stream: Wimps – Slept In Late
Tags: Ex-Cops, Faux Discs, Fishrider, Hardly Art, Heavy Times, HoZac, Lady, Other Music, Slumberland, The Prophet Hens, Truth and Soul, Vision Fortune, Wax Idols, We Are Loud Whispers
It’s Thursday and part four of the midway round-up. Feeling overwhelmed yet? I am. I don’t know if I can make it to Friday. If you’ve been following along, I hope you’ve found at least one thing that tickled your toes enough to buy a record or at least like them on facebook. A like on facebook or a follow on twitter is like money in the bank for bands, right? Getting money for your records is so old school. These days it’s all about social networking your record so that share prices for the internet fat cats increases. So go do your part.
Vision Fortune – Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune (Faux Discs)
There are many reasons to love this record. First the cover is a total red herring. If you buy this expecting Spanish troubadours or Mexican narcocorrido then you’ve got a surprise in store for you. The song titles are all roman numerals and there is a side F and side V. Nothing is as it seems as the first buzz of guitars kicks off the album sounding like the beginning of Anthrax by Gang of Four. It only gets better from there as it envelops you and you don’t know if you’re listening to XX, XIII or XIX and you don’t care. This is an album meant to be listened to in its entirety of full effect with each song leading into the next, but I’ll put one below to stream anyway. You can stream the entire thing here.
steam: Vision Fortune - XXII
The Prophet Hens – Popular People Do Popular People (Fishrider)
The Chills are back after more than a ten year hiatus, but the big news out of New Zealand this year is the Prophet Hens first album. Taking the Chills torch and running away with it.
stream: Prophet Hens - Easy As The Sun
Heavy Times – Fix It Alone (Hozac)
Fix it alone sees this Chicago band reigning in their intensity just a little, but don’t let that give you the wrong idea. They’re all the better for it. This is a highly melodic and highly intense album that brings back golden age memories of Husker Du and the noisier Flying Nun band like Gordons but not afraid to snag a riff from the Chills and let it fly.
stream: Heavy Times - Tradition Of Abuse
Lady – Lady (Truth & Soul)
Lady is actually two ladies, Terri Walker and Nicole Wray who have silky smooth voices and a penchant for 60′s soul. Classic soul albums are still being made and not just by guys who were there in the classic times like Lee Fields and Charles Bradly, but youngsters like Lady.
stream: Lady – Sweet Lady
Wax Idols – Discipline & Desire (Slumberland)
Surprisingly it turns out that Wax Idols music DNA, contains strands of the Sound, Chameleons, Comsat Angels, Christian Death, and Love and Rockets. After a debut album that leaned to the cut and dried garage punk, Discipline and Desire leans decidely to the dark side of pop and is infinitely more interesting and engaging. It’s what all sophomore albums should be, a major improvement and fearlessly forging out in new directions.
stream: Wax Idols - Sound of a Void
We Are Loud Whispers – Suchness (Hardly Art)
It was kind of a bummer when I came to the realization that there would never be another Arthur and Yu album, and we all know that people are still not giving up hope for another Postal Service album. We Are Loud Whispers is not quite either one of those but since Sonya Westcott of Arthur & Yu is one half of We Are Loud Whispers it’s not a stretch in that direction. Combine the spare electronic backdrops provided by Ayumu Haitani and you have a stretched reference to the Postal Service. In any event this record is full of understated beauty that deserves some of your valuable attention.
stream: We Are Loud Whispers – This Time
Ex Cops – Ture Hallucinations (Other Music)
“New York City’s Ex Cops don’t dress in police uniforms (thankfully), and they don’t sound anything like you would expect a band calling themselves Ex Cops to sound like. Well, at least not what I imagine a band of ex cops would sound like.” Their debut album True Hallucinations is an exquisit dreampop/shoegaze record.
stream: Ex Cops - You Are a Lion, I Am a Lamb
Tags: Big Deal, Born Bad, Castleface, Fin, Hockey Dad, La Femme, Legs, Log Lady, Lost and Lonesome, Monnone Alone, Mute, The Courtneys, The Purrs, Warm Soda
The pile is getting a little lighter, but I’m still buried. Welcome to part three of the first ever mid-year round-up of 2013′s best records.
La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin (Born Bad)
“La Femme are dark wave surfers from Paris that ride waves of synths and guitars into a globally warmed tropical Berlin.This groop has read their share of le Carré spy novels, had their fill of Ventures records, probably have an original pressing of Les Visiteurs Du Soir by Mathématiques Modernes, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they listened to the Intelligence since they share a label with them in La France.”
stream: La Femme - Amour Dans le Motu
The Courtneys – The Courtneys (Hockey Dad)
The Courtneys debut album is snotty, adolescent fun that reminds me of Tuscadero, Tacocat and Bratmobile. The record is full of super melodic and slightly shambolic songs. It’s nothing new under the sun, but it is so consistently good which is something that is somewhat rare under the sun.
stream: The Courtneys – Insufficient Funds
The Purrs- The Boy With Astronaut Eyes (Fin)
“The Boy With Astronaut Eyes is the Purrs’ sixth (or seventh) album and it may be their best since The Chemistry That Keeps Us Together. Bassist and songwriter Jima has come up with a great batch of songs that rivals Chemistry’s top shelf stuff. The songs are dusty, gritty, cosmic and road-ready. They feel like futuristic wild west space tales.”
Legs – Pass the Ringo (Log Lady)
Oakland band Legs have a melancholy 60′s vibe and they add in an 80′s indie jangle to come up with a winning combination. I have no idea what Pass the Ringo refers to. If it means pass a plate of food that looks like what’s on the cover, no thanks. If it means putting on this record and kranking it up then yes please. Bonus points for writing the companion piece to the Tyde’s Go Ask Yer Dad in their song Go Ask Your Mother.
Stream: Legs – Go Ask Your Mother
Monnone Alone – Together At Last (Lost and Lonesome)
“Mark Monnone’s first solo album stays firmly in Lucksmiths territory, good songs, some slightly silly lyrics, a few serious lyrics and a general good time. He also finds some new inspiration and stretches out a bit to ensure that it doesn’t sound like a total retread.”
stream: Monnone Alone - The Business World
Warm Soda – Someone For You (Castleface)
We knew that Mathew Melton was capable of pop goodness from his previous band Bare Wires, but Warm Soda sees him honing his powers to killer effect. Some For You is like the Raspberries mixed with Teenage Fanclub and King Tuff. The hits keep coming and coming on this record.
stream: Warm Soda – Jeannie Loves Pop
The boy girl duo Big Deal know how to do big pop hooks the same way the boy girl duo Joy Zipper use to do. Crunchy hooks draped with all of the accoutrements of big production that is reminiscent of early 90′s and the work of Butch Vig. Big sounding production more often than not is a mistake, but Big Deal writes songs that beg to sound big.
stream: Big Deal – In Your Car
Tags: Aarght!, Cherry Red, Daughn Gibson, Girls Names, House of Love, Jacco Gardner, Little Black Cloud, Myron & E, Ooga Boogas, Slumberland, Stones Throw, Sub Pop, Trouble In Mind, Universe People
Welcome to day two of the half year round-up. Giddy-up! Here are the next set of seven records from the first half of this year that I think deserve your attention. It’s kind of an eclectic bunch but in at least one warped world they go quite well together.
Myron & E – Broadway (Stones Throw)
It seems like it’s been ages since those first couple Myron & E singles came out. I had nearly lost hope of them ever releasing an album, but the wait was worth it. Broadway is more than worth the wait, evoking Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On which is no easy feat. The Motor city may be bankrupt, but its soul legacy keeps paying dividends. Top notch stuff.
stream: Myron & E – They Don’t Know
Daughn Gibson – Me Moan (Sub Pop)
Part of Me Moan sounds like Gibson grew up with the Stuart Copeland and Stan Ridgway song Don’t Box Me In on repeat. The other part sees Gibson reading from the same book as Dan Bejar was on Destroyer’s Kaputt. Both parts consist of lush and sweeping 80′s inspired pop from a unique voice.
Stream: Daughn Gibson - The Pisgee Nest
Universe People – Go To the Sun (Little Black Cloud)
Descending from the Intelligence family tree, this Seattle trio fronted by Australian ex-pat Jo Claxton deliver serrated pop that teases and caresses before puncturing skin. This very sharp record deserves way more attention than it has received, because it’s pretty damn brilliant and would look fine next to your Intelligence, Fall and Dolly Mixture records.
stream: Universe People – Druids
Girls Names – The New Life (Slumberland)
The new life sounds like dark era Cure (Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography) without being too obvious. It didn’t immediately grab me, but its hypnotic bass and vocals has made gradually overcome my conscious and now The New Life is my go-to record when the need often comes to zone out into the horizon which is quite often.
Stream: Girls Names – Drawing Lines
Ooga Boogas – Ooga Boogas (Aarght!)
Ooga Boogas have not left their garage roots, but the garage has been remodeled or converted rather. The record walks the line between ECSR and Total Control and sidesteps into Velvet Underground, Tubeway Army, the Fall, Modern Lovers and the Soft Boys territories.
stream: Ooga Boogas – A Night to Remember
House of Love – She Paints Words In Red (Cherry Red)
House of Love guitarist Terry Bickers acrimoniously left the band during the recording of the band’s second album. Since then he mad ammends with HOL frontman Guy Chadwich and they made a reunion record Days Run Away back in 2005. It was ok. Eight years later they’ve record a follow up that is immediate, elegant and while not quite reaching the heights of their debut it feels like they’ve recaptured the fire that blazed in their creative partnership.
stream: House of Love – Holy River
Jacco Gardner – Cabinet of Curiosities (Trouble In Mind)
Dutch wunderkind pulls out all the psychedelic stops on his debut album. Amazing harmonies done to the backing of exquisite chamber pop backing. If you ever thought that the Left Bank sounded too effeminate and that Syd Barrett was too zany Gardner strikes just right balance.
stream: Jacco Gardner – The One Eyed King
Tags: Bubblegum Lemonade, Math & Physics Club, Matinée Recordings
Santa Barbara’s Matinée records has a double feature of 7-inch singles for your summer listening pleasure. First up is Seattle’s very own Math and Physics Club returning with one of their more upbeat tunes in recent memory and a very eye-catching Tae Won Yu cover to boot. I think I like it when singer Charles Bert sounds a little pissed off. In fact I prefer it. Long Drag is still definitely indiepop, but it veers off the twee highway when Bert sings I’m not the one who shut you I’m not the one let you down. He sounds hurt, let down, and vengeful and he even swears! This is not the Math and Physics Club your parents knew and they are all the better for it! More like this please.
stream: Math & Physics Club – Long Drag (7-inch/download out on Matinée Recordings)
Scotland’s Bubblegum Lemonade offer up the second feature. This one is full of 12 string jangling goodness. It’s not a huge departure from previous efforts, but when you excel at honey sweet pop goodness why depart. Have You Seen Faith has the Byrds jangle and adds a little of the Stone Roses more melancholy side to the equation. Bonus points for writing the answer to Heavenly‘s Cool Guitar Boy in the obviously titled Cool Guitar Girl on the b-side.
Tags: Field Music, Les Cox (sportifs), Pea Sea, School of Language, Sea Records, The Week That Was
Chris Rollen of Les Cox Sportifs infamy goes by Pea Sea when he hangs out with the Brewis Brothers. He has apparently been hanging out with them quite a bit because there is a Pea Sea album called The Debatable Land that Rollen recorded with Field Music as his backing band.
It features a couple of Les Cox stand-out songs Dead Beat Formula and Mixing Up the Cordite re-recorded by Pea Sea. It’s nice to hear different less bombastic versions of those songs, but the new songs are really the meat in this pea soup. Rollen was influenced by Silver Jews and Smog. Unlike David Berman and Bill Callahan Rollen’s voice is not a baritone or a monotone, but he can write a lyric that will stop you in your tracks. I still am partial to “I’m gonna turn to jazz and turn into my dad” from Dead Beat Formula, but he gives Berman a run for his money in Pinocchio Nose a story song about the dangers of smoking (The dangers aren’t what you think). He also can do pretty quite well. Come Over is a beauty with it’s acoustic guitar and sad string arrangement.
You can hear the Field Music influence in the songs as well. The sparse clean sound that you are familiar with if you are a fan of Field Music, The Week that Was and School of Language is present and makes the album an aural delight. The Debatable Land is a solid record that tempers the eccentricities of Les Cox Sportifs and adds a little (but not too much) folksiness both of which contribute to its long-lasting likability.
Not to worry Les Cox Sportifs are still going, they’ve just released a new EP that was also recorded by David Brewis. The Bath Bomb EP is available from their bandcamp page.
Tags: Circles, France Has the Bomb, Ponys, Toy Love, Versus
Circles are from Chicago. Their facebook page says they make pop music for educated, upper-middle class, pretentious white people. Maybe they’re marketing themselves to the wrong demographic. They should think about going for the lonely old guys who buy too many records in hopes of finding fulfillment.
I should leave the marketing up to the 40-somethings who use How Soon Is Now to sell cars. If your looking for some new music with good blood lines check out Circles. They are fronted by Srini Radhakrishna of France Has the Bomb and Melisa Elias from Ponys. They dial down the intensity of their former bands a bit and share vocal duties on their debut six song EP. It presses all the right buttons with lots of guitars, organ and shared vocal duties. The songs are erudite (they made me google Marcus Garvey) and have a 90′s indie feel, a little like Versus from their glam-rock Secret Swingers era. They also do a killer version of Toy Love‘s Photographs of Naked Ladies that surpasses the original with Elias singing the chorus as an androgynous English robotic making it sound weirder and sexier. Good stuff.