Tags: A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Crocodile, Dreampop, Kate Bush, Lefse, Review, Seattle, Shoegaze
A Sunny Day in Glasgow at the Crocodile, Seattle | 12 July 2014
A Sunny Day In Glasgow are not from any single place as the band’s six members are split between Philadelphia, New York and Sydney, but funny enough not Glasgow. They are also a very different band than the one that made Scribble Mural Comic Journal back in 2007. Ben Daniels is the only surviving member of that first album. Daniels is the band leader and writes most of the songs. His band’s fourth album Sea When Absent still sounds like a Sunny Day In Glasgow, but it is also is quite different.
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 a pop band with shoegaze roots with songs that capture your attention. Previously the vocals mostly consisted of a lot of sighing, but that has been drastically changed. Singers Anne Fredrickson and Jen Goma with their strong, passionate vocals power the band and are its focal point.
The Crocodile’s back bar was full for this early show on one of the sunniest and hottest days of the year. For the opening band Oh! Pears the garage door was up, keeping the place relatively cool. Unfortunately they pulled the door closed before the start of A Sunny Day In Glasgow causing the mercury to rise in the packed room (the pizza oven in the back didn’t help either). No matter, the band incorporated tribal rhythms, washes of guitars, subdued electronics and earnest and soulful vocals to send breezy waves of pleasure out into the room nearly making forget the beads of sweat.
The biggest change and best thing about the current incarnation of a Sunny Day in Glasgow is how they have rethought the vocals in their music. They still like a lot of guitars but Fredrickson and Goma both have strong voices and their performances last night made me think that this band could take shoegaze beyond the niche genre that it is. One of my nieces who likes stuff like Aaliyah, Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé often laughs at some of the music I listen to saying that they sigh instead of sing. Sunny Day in Glasgow aren’t sighing any more. They are making big pop songs that threaten to break into the mainstream.
If you are one to judge a record by its sleeve, the grey beach photo of Blooper‘s new So Very Small EP might give you the idea that this is downer surf pop. That’s not far off. Think Jack Nitzsche‘s the Lonely Surfer, a little Hoodoo Gurus and some Smithereens. This is a downer surf pop record made under the grey skies of Seattle.
The EP kicks off with the fretful Go Outside that reminds me of the Smithereens Blood and Roses. Track number two Tinted Windows pumps up the adrenaline quite a bit and is a chip off the same block from which last years You Won’t Miss Me came. Bummer, the third track, sees Blooper in full on Link Wray mode. It’s got tons of reverb and twang, is loads of fun and no surf mix tape should be without this classic sounding instrumental. The final song Coming Home buzzes and crackles with British Invasion vibes and West Coast sun rays, effortlessly blending anxiety and repose.
So Very Small may not blast into your pleasure center as quickly as Blooper’s first couple singles, but it shows a new more complex face of the band and I think it might be their best one yet.
Tags: Buzzcocks, Cheap Riot, Croque Macadam, Forever Pavot, Jacco Gardner, Requiem Pour Un Twister, Soundcarriers, Television Personalities
As the 7″ single seems to fade into the sunset, it’s nice to see some labels haven’t given up on the format. France’s Croque Macadam and Requiem Pour Un Twister are still believers and they’ve just released a couple beauties.
Psychedelic tricksters Forever Pavot are lead by Emile Sornin, based in Paris and have much in common with Jacco Gardner and Soundcarriers. Their first single is cinematic, bucolic psycheldia that rustles the leaves and bundles the hay and makes birds chirp all on a widescreen. It has great organ swirls and galloping bass that will have you seeing a kaleidoscope of dusty colors. It’s a wonderful record and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that a label like Trouble in Mind would be interested in putting out their next record over here in the States.
Cheap Riot are also from Paris, but their debut single is all about punks and mods. They owe a dept to the Television Personalities and the Buzzcocks. Part Time Vacancy has a great little riff and a pithy chorus that you can’t get out of your head. I also love the punky bridge with ooh-ooh’s. It’s a a fun record that should be required playing at any part, even a party of one.
stream: Cheap Riot – Part Time Vacancy
Tags: A Frames, Dragnet Records, Dreamsalon, Dutchess and the Duke, The Fall, The Intelligence, Universe People
Last year Seattle’s Universe People released the very high quality Go To the Sun. Since then Universe leader Jo Claxton has seen her entire rhythm section change. In this new space time continuum Universe People feature drummer Min Yee (Dreamsalon, and A-Frames) and bassist Kimberly Morrisson (Dutchess and the Duke). Their second album is called Universe People Are Coming To the Dance.
Above is the premier of the video for The Modern Girl. It is directed and edited by Claxton and filmed by Kelly Burton who worked with the band on their two previous clips Vampire Prison and Druids. The Modern Girl a clinic in how to do minimal sharp pop right with dissonant elements of early Fall and the Intelligence but with always an eye towards melody. Claxton writes sparse angular songs that will elbow you in the ribs with their sharp riffs, and then continue to keep you off balance with their wry humor. The video is a pin-ball epic in which Claxton attacks Yee and brawls with Morrison. Thankfully they both survive which is more than I can say for former bassist Kellie Payne who was killed in the Vampire Prison video.
Universe People’s second album Are Coming To the Dance is available now digitally on bandcamp. For you vinyl enthusiasts, there are plans for a vinyl version on Dragnet Records later this summer. You can also catch them live next month in Seattle, and Portland.
7/10 Sunset Tavern w/ Amen Dunes
7/19 Foggy Notion (Portland) w/ Appendixes
7/22 Chop Suey w/ Magik Markers
Tags: Cure, Kelley Stoltz, Mickey Young, Rat Columns, RIP Society, The Church, Wire
How many sweet spots lie between Wire‘s 154 and Of Skins and Heart by the Church? By my estimation there are at least a few hundred and Rat Columns‘ second album hits a good many of them. The San Francisco by way of Australia band have just released their second album Leaf on Australia’s RIP Society records. It was recorded in San Francisco at Kelley Stoltz‘s Electric Duck Studios. Main Rat David West employed the aid of both Stoltz and Mikey Young (Total Control & Eddie Current Suppression Ring) to make the record.
Where the first Rat Columns album was murky and dense, album number two sheds opaqueness for sunnier realms and glistens in the pop sun. The first song Straight to hell with its shinny and shimmering guitar immediately lets you know that this Rat Columns album is a more immediate infectious beast than its predecessor. The second song Another day with its Cure-like synthy intro and bouncing bass reinforce the fact. You can just imagine Kelley Stoltz swinging by the control room while the band were recording and yelling ‘more pop’ and then sneaking in and dialing up the pop knob just a tad on each of these songs. There were hints and traces of pop genius on the previous album Sceptre Hole, but Leaves goes far beyond anything I was expecting. It still has some mystery to it and can be obtuse in parts the way Wire pushed the boundaries of art and punk on 154, but at its heart it’s in love with jangly bittersweet pop that the Church excelled at on Of Skins and Heart. A great unexpected record.
stream: Rat Columns – Another Day
stream: Rat Columns – Fooling Around
You can stream and buy the download of the album from Rat Columns’ bandcamp. If you’re in the US, Goner has vinyl copies for sale, or if you prefer you can order from RIP Society in Australia. Also, don’t miss Rat Columns on tour later this summer:
29-Aug FRI – SAN FRANCISCO w/ COLD BEAT
30-Aug SAT – OAKLAND
31-Aug SUN – SACRAMENTO
3-Sep WEDS – PORTLAND w/ RUBY PINS
4-Sep THURS – VANCOUVER w/ RUBY PINS? GET IN TOUCH!!!
5-Sep FRI – OLYMPIA w/RUBY PINS
6-Sep SAT – SEATTLE w/RUBY PINS
7-Sep SUN – BOISE w/ RUBY PINS
10-Sep WEDS – ST PAUL
11-Sep THURS – CHICAGO
12-Sep FRI – ANN ARBOR/DETROIT
13-Sep SAT – PITTSBURGH
14-Sep SUN – NEW YORK CITY
16-Sep TUES – BOSTON
17-Sep WEDS – PHILLY
18-Sep THURS – RICHMOND @ GALLERY FIVE
19-Sep FRI – LEXINGTON w/ IDIOT GLEE
20-Sep SAT – MEMPHIS w/ IDIOT GLEE
21-Sep SUN – HOT SPRINGS? w/ IDIOT GLEE
22-Sep MON – DALLAS w/ IDIOT GLEE: Three Links – Deep Ellum, TX, 2704 Elm St
23-Sep TUES – AUSTIN w/ IDIOT GLEE
26-Sep FRI – TUSCON / PHOENIX-TEMPE??? GET IN TOUCH!!!
27-Sep SAT – SAN DIEGO
28-Sep SUN – LOS ANGELES? GET IN TOUCH!!!
Tags: C-86, Close Lobsters, Shelflife Records
“Things will never will be the same” sings Andrew Burnett on the A-side of the Close Lobsters‘ new single. Maybe not quite the same, but the more things change the more they stay the same. The seminal C-86 compilation that the band appeared on has just seen a reissue that extends that cassette into a three CD set and Paisley, Scotland’s Close Lobsters who have been dormant for some 20 odd years (their final album Headache Rhetoric came out in 1989) have just released a brand new 7″ single on Shelflife records here in the US.
Time has not altered the sound of their bittersweet wall of jangle an iota, nor has it diminished their knack for writing adroit pop songs. The two on this single sound like they could have come from the lost follow-up to Headache Rhetoric. Now Time is a six minute epic that walks a fine line down memory lane without really looking back. The flip side is something of a love letter to the United States with Burnet landing in the canyons of NYC in ridiculous heat then setting out on the road on a bus to Chicago. The dusty guitar solo in the middle almost makes you feel the hot breeze in your face.
Who knows if this single is one-off thing or the start of Close Lobsters phase II? I’m just still pinching myself that this new single even exits. Welcome back fellows!
Tags: Chapter Music, Crayon Fields, Double, Geoffrey O'Connor, Roxy Music, The Cars, Trevor Dickson
The first thing you notice about Geoffrey O’Connor‘s new song Her Name On Every Tongue is that he steps it down an octave. In his band Crayon Fields and on his first solo record he employed his falsetto much of the time. I almost didn’t recognize him the first time I heard the song. I like it though. The lower octave provides more gravitas.
Her Name On Every Tongue has hints of Heartbeat City by the Cars, as well as some nice refined euro smoothness a la Roxy Music and Double. It also has similarities with Trevor Dickson‘s Summer Legs from last year. It glides like a bead of water down the side of your perspiring cocktail as you lounge in the shade of a palm tree somewhere on the Riviera.
Tags: Big Country, Famèlic Records, Girls Names, The Cure, Univers
Barcelona based moody rockers Univers released their debut album last month. It is a soaring and fuzzy beauty full of cascading guitars and sullen vocals. They could be Spain’s version of Girls Names, southern cousins of early Cure or even Big Country minus the e-bow/bagpipe guitars. The band have flown under the radar here in the States probably because they choose not to sing in English and their records don’t get released over here, but you the savvy internet user of 2014 can find out about bands like this with the simple click of a hyperlink. They played SXSW earlier this year to little fanfare. I found out about them by fortuitously reading about them on Brooklyn Vegan and Cloudberry Cake Proselytism on the same day. I clicked a link, listened, and bought the record.
Even though L’estat Natural is all sung in Catalan , Univers speaks the universal language of big guitars and lots of reverb which is more than enough to make this record compelling even for non-Catalan speakers. The dual guitar attack and driving rhythms make it really chug along even if the slightly monotone vocals every once in while threaten to derail it. It’s a fun, solid album and recommended to fans of any of the aforementioned bands.
L’estate Natural is available from Famèlic Records.
Tags: Girls Against Boys, Grave Babies, Hardly Art, MC5, Nick Cave, Protomartyr, Spray Paint, The Chameleons, The Fall, The Stooges, Tyvek, Unnatural Helpers, Urinal Cake Records
Protomartyr, Grave Babies, Unnatural Helpers at Black Lodge, Seattle | 20 May 2014
Detroit post punks Protomartyr played the Black Lodge in Seattle Tuesday night. This was their third time in Seattle, but only the first time I had the pleasure of seeing them. After sold out singles and the band’s debut album No Passion All Technique selling out of multiple pressings on Urinal Cake records, the band have followed it up with Under Color of Official Right on Hardly Art. Where Techniques was a lo-fi punk record, the new record keeps the punk attitude and intelligence while adding in better songs and better sound.
Label mates and localites Unnatural Helpers and Grave Babies began the evening’s intensities with two quality if workman-like sets. When the time came for Protomartyr, there was no big entrance or formality for the band, they merely stopped setting up and started rocking. No pomp, no circumstance, just the goods. In Protomartyr’s case the goods are frontman Joe Casey barking over his very good band. The solid rhythm section (besides being really good, drummer Alex Leonard was wearing a Spray Paint shirt) laid down the law which left Casey and guitarist Greg Ahee to fill in the picture with their riffs and rants.
Protomartyr write gutter anthems. They write about the underbelly of society and coming from Detroit they have first hand knowledge of the downtrodden. Detroit and Detroit rock is in their veins. They employ the abrasive qualities of the Stooges, MC5 and Tyvek (Kevin Boyer was the original Protomartyr bassist) while incorporating the likes of the Fall, Girls Against Boys and Nick Cave into their brew. Their first record was recorded on the cheap while their new one has a noticeably better budget. Live they veer toward the budget sound of the first record but that rawness keeps it vital. I like how Casey dresses in a double breasted blazer and a button up shirt but sings like he’s dressed in rags. The juxtaposition catches your attention and you wonder why this mad man is dressed up. Besides looking quite good, Casey is the kind of songwriter that will have you looking stuff up in your encyclopedia. He’s smart, he dresses up and he rocks. I also loved Ahee’s endlessly inventive guitar. Casey gets a lot of attention for his lyrichs, but Ahee’s guitar really took these songs to the next level beyond just another garage band.
Before the show I had heard from numerous people about how Protomartyr were a jaw-droppingly good live band. They did nothing to make me think otherwise. My only complaint would be that Casey’s vocals weren’t as clear as the recorded songs, but that’s what the album is for.
Tags: Beating a Dead Horse, Galaxie 500, Meat Puppets, Neighbors, Pavement, Posse, REM, Versus
Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. In the case of Posse, they decided to forego the process of trying to get signed to a record label and started their own. It’s called Beating a Dead Horse Records. The first album that the fledgling label put out was of course their own album. It’s called Soft Opening and it’s their second album. Actually Posse put out their own first record too , but that was two years ago, before BADH.
Soft Opening is nearly perfect. While the trio is based in Seattle, they sound like the wide open dusty roads of the desert that lies on the other side of the Cascades. The songs have a lonely, melancholy and druggy feel to them similar to Acetone and Galaxie 500. The guitars seem to be inspired by Dean Wareham’s watery, lackadaisical sound while the playful boy-girl vocals create some healthy sexual tension. Both Paul Wittmann-Todd and Sacha Maxim play guitar and sing while Jon Salzman is solely relied upon to keep the beat. Posse keep things tight, putting only eight songs on the record. Maybe they thought keeping it short would circumvent short term attention spans in this internet age, but Posse are good enough that they could have snuck another one in and nobody would have hit the skip button.
For its second release BADH have just put out Neighbors third album Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? The record’s title made me get out my Raymond Carver books and reminded me of when Paul Kelley and the Messengers named So Much Water, So Close to Home after one of the well known Northwest author’s short stories. Neighbors write songs that straddle Pavement’s Range Life, REM’s Harborcoat and the Meat Puppets’ Up on the Sun. Like those bands, there is more to their sound than what is on the surface. Beneath the psychedelic, country sheen you can hear the influence of Gang of Four, Wire and the Wedding Present. The band smartly pulled the best tracks from last year’s tour only cassette Power Country and included them here. Muscle Girl on Muscle Beach which features some sweet guest vocals from Lexi Lee, and Hot Jack get things off to a rocking start. Muscle Beach . Newer songs Loretta and Heather have a twangy angular feel to them that hints at the band getting better and progressing into new territory. After cassette and download releases it’s nice to see that Neighbors have finally released an album on vinyl for posterity.
Beating a dead horse have a small catalog and don’t seem to be in a hurry to grow fast. It’s more of a means of documenting themselves and their friends. Sounds like a good business plan to me.