Get Comfortable with Math and Physics Club

December 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Posted in indiepop, Music, Seattle | Leave a comment
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Tae Won Yu's Cover for Math and Physics Club

Math and Physics Club have just released their third album on Matinee records. Recorded in the Dub Narcotic studio in the heart of (K)Olympia, Our Hearts Beat Out Loud sees the Seattle-Olympia band incorporating a more varied set of influences while still adhering to their sweet and tender indiepop aesthetic.  The band seems to have gotten their feet back under them after something of a lackluster sophomore album. It’s not that their rocking out now, to be sure Math and Physics Club have one speed – slow and easy.

Slow and easy and maybe a little subversive. Many famous crooners had dark sides to their lily-white public personalities and singer Charles Bert with his sweet tenor sings about getting drunk on cherry wine,  Ok maybe he doesn’t have a dark side like Bing Crosby, but hey, he’s singing about getting drunk.

The band paint the ten songs on this album using various brushstrokes. The album’s first song We Won’t Keep Secrets features a wonderful guitar lead that sounds like it was lifted straight from Paul Simon‘s Graceland. Though its title evokes the Smiths, I Know It’s Over starts off with a blast of harmonica that immediately brings to mind the Housemartins. The wonderful country-tinged story song Thank God I Met You is good enough to have been on Billy Bragg‘s Don’t Try This at Home. The most upbeat song on the record Long Drag was rightfully released as a 7-inch single earlier in the year. With its hand claps and spitefully delivered lyrics, it is the standout song on the album. The band even employ an anthemic quality to That’s What Love Is. In another band’s hands it might become U2-esque, but Math and Physics Club keep it in the armchair. Math and Physic club continue to deftly operate in their understated, slow and easy way and in Our Hearts Beat Out Loud have made a comfortable record with a few subtle surprises.

stream: Math and Physics Club – That’s What Love Is (from their third album Our Hearts Beat Out Loud)

Swervedriver Scawl and Scream Again

December 8, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Posted in Dub, Shoegaze | 1 Comment
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swervedriver

Swervedriver got back together five years ago for touring purposes but like many bands that reform they toured on the strength of their heyday not releasing anything new for the occasion. Now five years on from their reunion they have just released their first new song in 15 years. The obvious question about these sorts of things is always  should they have bothered?

Yes. A first glance at the cover and you notice that it slightly reminds you of the covers of their early EP’s like Son Of Mustang Ford and Sandblasted. So they obviously haven’t lost their knack for choosing an eye-catching cover.  The song Deep Wound seems to pick up where one of their best singles Last Day On Earth left off. The lazy scrawl and scream of the signature Swervedriver guitars are certainly there and Adam Franklin’s singing sounds like he hasn’t aged a day since Ejector Seat Reservation came out back in 1995.

Dub Wound the second track on the virtual single is a spacier and yes a dub version of Deep Wound.  Just as good as the guitar version I think, but you don’t have to decide because they come together.

This apparently isn’t akin to the Pixies one off Bam Thwok, Swervedriver say, according to their facebook page, that they plan to release an album sometime in 2014. Welcome back again guys.

stream: Swervedriver – Deep Wound

The College of Ruptured Ear Drums

December 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Posted in Music, Noisepop | Leave a comment
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kentstate

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.

stream: Kent State – Spahn Ranch (from The Wrong Side of History)

First Floor Hookah Lounge

November 26, 2013 at 10:20 am | Posted in La France, Music | 4 Comments
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Liminanas et la musique d'ascenseur
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.

stream: The Limiñanas – My Black Sabbath (from the Limiñanas third album Costa Blanka, available from Trouble in Mind Records)

Be a Male

November 15, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Posted in Music, New Zealand, Powerpop | 2 Comments
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males

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.

stream: Males – So High (from Run Run Run​/​MalesMalesMales on Fishrider Records)

I Am Your Density

November 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm | Posted in Cairo, Music, Seattle | 1 Comment
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Cold Beat and Childbirth at Cairo, Seattle | 9 November 2013

coldbeat

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.

stream: Childbirth – I Only Fucked You as Joke

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.

Candydiosis

November 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Jangle, Music, Powerpop, Singles | 1 Comment
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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.

stream: Slushy – Candy (7-inch single out on Randy Records)

Legal In Two States, But Not In Canada

October 31, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Music | Leave a comment
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weed_cover

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.

stream: Weed – Gun Shy (from Deserve out on Couple Skate Records)

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

Out of Evening Meetings and into the Dreamsalon

October 25, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Music, Seattle | Leave a comment
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DreamSalon3

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.

You can stream and buy the digital version of Thirteen Nights at Dreamsalon’s bandcamp page. A vinyl release is planned soon on Captcha Records.

The Shoegaze Shangri-La of Day Ravies

October 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Australia, Dreampop, Music, Shoegaze | 1 Comment
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Tussle

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!

Stream and buy Tussle at the Popfrenzy bandcamp page.
Read a short interview with the band over at Tonedeaf.

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