Tags: Drums, Slumberland, Veronica Falls
A ton is being written currentlyabout Veronica Falls and their new self-titled debut long player and for good reason, it is easily one of the best pop records of the year. If you are a fan of the autumnal sounds of the 60′s like the Mama’s and the Papas and Simon & Garfunkle, lightning fast jangle similar to the Bats or early Wedding Present, lyrical darkness that verges on goth, the innate ability to incorporate the psychedelia of the 60′s into a pop song and still make it danceable the way the Stone Roses did on their first album (yes, it’s that good) and have not heard this album then see about correcting that as soon as possible (details below).
Veronica Falls were in Seattle last week to open for the Drums at the Crocodile. The four piece band slashed through their set to a nearly packed Crocodile. I’m pretty certain that the majority of the people were there for Drums, but they got an unexpected treat while waiting around. Singer and guitarist Roxanne Clifford handles her big red hollow body Fender guitar like it is an appendage she was born with, moving it about and strumming the hell out of it. Her playing is perfectly timed with other guitarist James Hoare to create a jangly web of bliss inside the listener’s head. She’s a great front person too, with confidence and a classic indie look. I bet Stuart Murdoch is ringing her up so he can photograph here for the next Belle and Sebastian cover. The songs sounded great live with the harmonies from both Hoare and drummer Patrick Doyle standing out over their little maelstrom of strumming.
Doyle and Clifford were in Sexy Kids and the Royal We together while Hoare played in Your Twenties, and that previous experience is evident in their playing. They’re a young band, but they seemed like old pros playing with seasoned confidence. I guess confidence is easy when you know that you’ve got a gold mine of great songs.
Here is some video of a new song they played:
Order the album on CD or vinyl from Slumberland.
Tags: Slumberland, Talk Normal, Weekend
Weekend and Talk Normal at the Crocodile, Seattle | 26 September 2011
I’m not sure why this show was booked at the Crocodile. With only a handful of people showing up to see Weekend and Talk Normal, someone had to lose money. This show would have been much better for all in involved in a smaller place like the Comet, Lo-Fi, or Sunset. At any of those places, it would have seemed like enough people showed up to see them. At the Crocodile it was conspicuously empty. This didn’t seem to phase either band in the slightest. Weekend filed on stage, switched on their red lights and smoke machine, turned up the bass amp to 11 and proceeded to pummel all 25 of us.
Sometimes a band pummels in the right way and sometimes it’s not. I wanted San Francisco’s Weekend to do it the right way. Their records do it correctly, balancing just the right amount of noise and melody, but Monday at the Crocodile it was mostly noise devoid of any melody. Weekend feature bass guitar prominently in all of their songs, but live it overpowered everything. I moved around to see if it was where I was standing (there was a lot of space to move around), but the mix was the same. The guy would sing, but you couldn’t hear it. The other guy would play guitar but you could barely hear it. Everything was overwhelmed by out of control bass. Last year at the Vera Project they seemed to have a better handle on their live sound, or maybe I just had higher expectations for them the second time around. Their new Red EP is a leap forward for them. The songs are less buried and a more nuanced atmosphere is created than on their album from last year. Hell, you could even dance to Hazel. Any nuance flew out the window Monday and it was replaced by sheer volume, making it hard to tell one song from another. Kind of a bummer.
stream: Weekend – Hazel
Openers and tourmates Talk Normal come from Brooklyn and can trace their roots to their city’s rich No Wave past. The duo of drums and guitar created a respectable cacophony in the cavernous Crocodile. Screwdrivers were insterted into the necks of guitars and drums were pounded in rhythmic patterns. Not being a conoseur of No Wave, I can only assume that this made for a great set.
stream: Talk Normal – Lone General
Tags: Devon Williams, Slumberland
Devon Williams brought his Euphoria tour to the Comet Tavern last night. His new album (his second) just out on Slumberland is full of intricate and lushly textured songs. The guy obviously is a student of the 80′s. Euphoria is an understated winner that I recommend heartily to fans of the Church, Modern English, East River Pipe and the Icicle Works. It’s an easy record to like combining Williams’ big sounding songs with his plaintive delivery that strips them of any pretentiousness.
As I was standing in the somewhat redesigned Comet (the place actually has a stage with space for an entire band can stand) watching them play, a couple things came to mind. I liked the extra muscularity that his five piece band brought to the songs even though some of the instrumental flourishes, had to be given up in the live versions of the songs. The second was how much they reminded me of Prefab Sprout. Not that Mr. Williams sings like Paddy McAloon, but his songs have this undeniable sense of hope and optimism while at that same time sounding sad. Sounds crazy I know, but it’s a great trick if you can pull it off as a songwriter and Devon Williams did exactly that last night. He and his band played a for about half an hour and seemed to enjoy every minute of it and the handful of us in the audience did as well.
Both songs are from Williams’ album Euphoria, available now from Slumberland.
Here are the remaining dates for his west coast tour:
THU 9/8 – Sacramento, CA @ Luigi’s Slice Fungarden
FRI 9/9 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place
SAT 9/10 – Los Angeles, CA @ House Show
SUN 9/11 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
Tags: Slumberland, Weekend
If you’ve already heard the new song from Weekend that slipped out last week you know that the San Francisco band have shed a few layers of white noise to further reveal their pop skills. Oh, we knew they had the skills from their previous efforts, you just had to work a little to realize them. Hazel is from their forthcoming EP on Slumberland and doesn’t pull any punches or bury any hooks. It hits you like a smack in the face. A new shoegaze classic to make you stop pining for the old days.
Stream: Weekend – Hazel
Tags: Allo Darlin', Art Museums, Bart and Friends, Blouse, Brain Idea, Capitol Hill Block Party, Captured Tracks, Castle Face Records, Deadbeat Beat, Felt, Fine Arts Showcase, Geoffrey O'Connor, Green Pajamas, Gustaf Kjellvander, Hausu, Lost and Lonesome, Medical Records, Monnone Alone, Pizzafest, Slumberland, Swimsuit, The Servants, Tiny Microphone
I have been amassing a ton information that has come to the tipping point where I have to let it out. Some of this may have been tweeted, but who remembers anything they read on Twitter? You possibly have heard half of it, but then maybe you haven’t. Here’s the mid-summer digest of the finest kiss music news.
Allo Darlin’ set to release new single
Last week Allo Darlin’ announced the release of a brand new single due in August. You can hear it and pre-order it over at their bandcamp. It’s a picture disc and contains one song about former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman and one song about the Wu Tang Clan which is a cover of another Hayman band the French. How’s that for confusing?
Art Museums Break Up
After a short but fruitful run San Francisco’s Art Museums have said their splitting up. According to their Facebook page, they just couldn’t handle it anymore. They had recently released two 7 inch singles one on Slumberland and another on Yakamashi. I don’t know about you, but I could have handled a few more records from them. So long Art Museums. See you in the funny papers.
Portland band Blouse played the Crocodile
I stopped by the Crocodile the other night to see Blouse. So far the Portland new wavers have released singles on Captured Tracks and Sub Pop with an album due this fall on CT. Their singer was totally going for the 80′s vibe with her poofy feathered hair and white pleated slacks. Their short set (25 minutes) much better than their fashion sense, playing light airy sounds accented with muscular Cure-like bass lines.
Chicago band has a Brain Idea, Sound Like the Clean, Name Their EP after CCR
I’m kind of possessed this week by the new EP from Brain Idea on Mexican Summer. It’s part Clean, part Kraut, of course the Clean always have had a Kraut element to their sound so maybe it’s all Clean. Whatever, it’s good. I just ordered their first album that came out on Permanent last year.
It Was Only a Matter of Time: Flexis Are Back
Castle Face the San Francisco label part-run by Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer have just unleashed a book of flexis. Bare Wires, Blasted Canyons, Thee Ohs Sees, The Fresh & Onlys and Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin each contribute a song spread across Five 7 inch flexis discs. It comes packaged in a ringed notebook and it ain’t cheap at $30. I thought flexies were supposed to be cheap. They use to come stapled inside of magazines and sounded like crap on your turntable. I’m assuming the quality of these is slightly better.
Detroit Deadbeat Beat
Felt: Gone But Not Yet Forgotten
Felt have been defunct for 22 years now, but way down in the depths of the internet they never went away. A couple years ago the San Francisco band Girls interviewed Lawrence for Magicrpm and just recently the Charlatans‘ Tim Burgess was interviewed over at The Quietus about them. I didn’t know that Burgess was such a superfan. He drops a few debatable nuggets like the idea that She Lives By The Castle was written about St. Etienne‘s Sarah Cracknell. If you are a Felt superfan you probably already know about the book written by JC Brouchard called Felt : Ballad of the Fan.
Fine Arts Showcase’s Gustaf Kjellvander Dies
Sad news from Sweden a few weeks ago, when Gustaf Kjellvander died unexpectedly in his sleep. He was only 31 years old. Kjellvander lived in Seattle until he was 15 when his family moved back to Sweden. He made some great albums as the Fine Arts Showcase. My two favorites were Radiola and his Rough Bunnies covers album Sings Rough Bunnies.
Green Pajamas Go To Green Pajama Country
Seattle’s Green Pajamas are back with album number…I lost count. No matter, this time they claim to have gone country. The first song from the record, Pass Me Another Whiskey doesn’t sound particularly country. It just sounds good.
Hausu Continue the Northwest’s Flirtation With British New Wave
Led by former Seattleite and underage organizer Ben Funkhouser and his Edwyn Collins-esque croon, Portland band Hausu‘s ringing guitars and smart sound bring to mind Collin’s former band. They also claim to be influenced by Bruce Springsteen, but what red-blooded Amercian isn’t (whether you want to be or not)?
Australian Record Label Presents Two New Records From Two Old-Timers
Lost and Lonesome has just put out two records, one by former Lucksmith Mark Monnone who is going by the moniker Monnone Alone called Pink Earrings. Not surprisingly it sounds kinda like the Lucksmiths, expect Monnnone sings. While you’re checking that out, be sure to consider the latest from Bart and Friends. Bart Cummings of Cat’s Miaow and the Shapiros ended his long silence last year with Make You Blush is back again with a 10 inch EP called Stories With the Endings Changed.
Get Your Medical Records
Much has been written about Medical Records here in Seattle, but I’m not sure if the word has gotten out beyond Seattle and in the know circles of ”classic synth, cosmic disco, wave (cold/new), and future music” aficionados. So far, the Seattle label specializing in reissuing nearly forgotten synth records, has released eight albums by Guyer’s Connection, OGI, Der Plan, Chrisma, Deutsche Wertarbeit, and Alexander Robotnick. All the records are limited to around 500 copies, and come in some very pretty shades of vinyl. Many are already sold out so head on over, have a listen and see what’s left.
Geoffrey O’Connor Comes Out of the Crayon Fields
Crayon Fields frontman Geoffrey O’Connor takes a break from his band to cut loose and get icy cold and synthy. The first song is a study in cool, suave and sophisticated. Can’t wait to hear the whole album. It’s called Vanity Is Forever and is out in September.
Fests and Parties
The Capitol Hill Block Party is this weekend in Seattle. It’s three days beginning this Friday. I’m heading up on Friday for sure, and may go Saturday (the afore mentioned Hausu play Saturday) as well depending on my ability to tolerate large festivals. A festival more my size is the third annual Pizza Fest which takes place Funhouse August 4-6. The line-up is pretty sweet if you’re into garage, punk and fun. Not sure if they’re having a pizza eating contest like last year, but I’m sure you’ll be able to get a slice along with a Rainier and some ringing ears.
Servants Are Served Up Again
Captured Tracks has a pretty relentless release schedule so keeping up can be a chore. Glad to see the label doing god’s work in releasing long lost gems from years ago in addition to the many new bands they release. The Servants ran with the C-86 crowd and actually were on that now legendary cassette. The band’s Cherry Red compilation has been long out of print, so Captured Tracks has picked up the slack and just released a record that collects the majority of their recorded output. It’s called Youth Club Disco.
Get Your Swimsuit
Michigan’s Swimsuit have just released their debut album. Besides having my favorite cover of any record this year, it contains some pretty good songs as well. Yeah, reverb heavy surf inspired music is kinda played out, but give them a break, you can only surf on a great lake if there’s a big storm.
Tiny Microphone Finally Gets a Non-Cassette Release. Still Wait For Vinyl
You may remember Tiny Microphone from a few years ago when we did the One Last Kiss redo. Tiny Microphone is Kristine Capua (also of Very Truly Yours). Tiny Microphone are like twee-shoegaze and I mean that in the best way. Up until now you could only get her Home album on cassette from Italian label Best Kept Secret, but now Japanese label Happy Prince has released it on CD. Expect a vinyl version to come along in another three years…
Tags: Blanch Hudson Weekend, Caged Animals, Caucus, Cloudberry, Devon Williams, Famous Class, Give It Ups, Grass Widow, HLR, Horowitz, Humms, Knock Yr Socks Off, Lucky Numbers, McDonalds, Motifs, Odd Box, One Fathom Down, Persian Rugs, Santa Monica Swim and Dive Club, Slumberland, State Capital, Tony Castles, Zebras
It’s been a busy few weeks out here in the upper left-hand corner of the United States. The singles have been coming in at a relentless pace. It was a long holiday weekend, so what better thing to do than to get caught up on listening to them. Here’s the low-down on the batch that were burning up my turntable this weekend.
Persian Rugs – Always All (Cloudberry)
Toronto’s Persian Rugs make up one of two singles from Cloudberry in this round-up. The A-side Always All has been swimming around the internet for a while. It has a seafaring keyboard intro that gives way to a simple guitar rif and a catchy chorus which of course, all singles should have. Though they don’t exactly sound like Ivy, that New York band does comes to mind here. The B-side is a slightly more country tinged affair but good as well. Buying the single gets you a download containing a total of five songs, three more than on the record itself.
Caucus – Wondering Ones (Cloudberry)
Caucus come from Japan, but you wouldn’t know it from hearing them as there is no detectable accent and they sound a little like early Pains of Being Pure at Heart or if you’re old like me, Poole who were on SpinArt back in the 90′s. Wondering Ones has breathy vocals and fuzzy guitars. Proving their appreciation and knowledge of their lineage, they choose to cover Rocketship‘s Love You Like the Way That I Used To Do on the B-side.
Odd Box Singles Club (Odd Box)
The first three singles from the Odd Box Singles Club arrived a couple weeks ago and they were worth the wait. Each single is a split between two bands. Blanche HudsonWeekend and Horowitz share the first one with their noisier, guitar drenched sounds. Single number two gives us the bratpunk sounds of the Give It Ups. The first song is shouted versus traded with sung choruses. The second asks the question, what kind of guy dates a girl named Knives? The Santa Monica Swim and Dive Club on the flip is a spin-off project of Saturday Looks Good To Me. False Start, My Heart is ok, but maybe a little to middle of the road indiepop for my tastes. My favorite of the first three goes to the Humms/One Fathom Down split. One Fathom Down do rowdy-surf inspired instrumentals. Nothing new, but both their songs shred. The Humms’ Jupiter is a perfect slice of acoustic British invasion pop. I believe that you can still subscribe to the singles club, just click on the link above.
Zebras/Motifs Split (Knock Yr Socks Off)
Speaking of the Rocketship, the Zebras evoke the Sacramento band’s sound a little on their split with the Motifs. The Zebras are from Australia and have released a couple albums on Lost and Lonesome. Desert Island shows them to be in fine form and making me hope for album number three from them. Sharing this tiny slab of wax is fellow Melbourne band, the Motifs. Words is a sugared up two minute hyper swirling pop song. No caffeine needed here. Can’t decide which side is better…
Devon Williams – Your Sympathy (Slumberland)
Los Angeles songsmith Devon Williams is about to release his second album, but before that he’s got this 7″ single for you. Your Sympathy starts out with a big sounding Icicle Works Whisper To a Scream sounding intro. Williams doesn’t let it get out of hand though as he has a way of putting you at ease with his heart-aching voice which has this tendency to remind me of East River Pipe.
Caged Animals – Girls On Medication (Lucky Numbers)
Another Brooklyn band? Shrug. Caged Animals‘ song Girls on Medication made me sit up instead of shrug. Lazy, druggy dreampop with a killer hook. The B-side and the other songs they have on bandcamp are more electronic and less enticing, leading me to believe that this is either a fluke or a new direction for them. Hoping it’s the later.
Grass Widow – Milo Minute (HLR)
Grass Widow have been quiet for a little while. The silence is ended with this self-released single. First off, I love the art on the sleeve. It looks like a the doodles of a clothing designer who likes guitars. The songs live up to the cover. Milo Minute may be the catchiest song Grass Widow have written to date and it benefits from having its volume turned way up. The flip side serves up two covers, one from the Neo Boys and the other being Wire‘s Mannequin. Mannequin is probably the second most covered Wire song (the first has to be Outdoor Miner). It’s no reinvention, but it differs with it’s harmonies and echoed vocals. Worthwhile!
Tony Castles – Juice (Famous Class)
Bill over at Sound Bites had the Tony Castles EP on one of his year end lists last year, describing it as Prefab Sprout-esque. Those two words are all I needed. This new single from the Brooklyn band has more of a post-rock sound to it evoking Field Music a little. Juice has a funky 80′s vibe and is quite good, but I think I like the pillowy downbeat B-side Heart In the Pipes better.
McDonalds – Name Names (State Capital)
The last time at the drive-thru we were sorted for e’s and wiz listening to McDonalds‘s debut single. Single number two is upon us and without he help of Factory or Martin Hannett. Amazing. This nderachiever, ramshackle rock is for fans of German Measles who like to dance.
Tags: Magic Bullets, Slumberland, Terry Malts
I wondered why the press release for the new Terry Malts single was so sketchy. All this stuff about them being mysterious and no one knowing who these enigmatic bay area punks were. It’s not like they’re wearing giant eyeballs on their heads when they play. So why the obfuscation? Are they trying to keep it a secret because their boss doesn’t like moonlighting? At first I thought it was a Weekend side project where they shoveled some dirt away from their melodies, but it turns out it’s a Magic Bullets side project where they shovel some dirt on top of their melodies.
Terry Malts are a trio of bullets who shed their Orange Juice affectations and don a punk rock leather jacket with Ramones and Redd Kross badges on it. The Go-Betweens were never considered punks, but the chorus of Distracted is a dead ringer for Lee Remick.
Tags: Case Studies, Crystal Stilts, Posse, Slumberland
Crystal Stilts, Case Studies and Posse at the Crocodile, Seattle | 11 May 2011
Brooklyn’s (by way of Florida) Crystal Stilts played the Crocodile this past Wednesday night to a sparse audience. Apparently their darker take on the pop song doesn’t resonate as well with the kids as their labelmates and neighbors the Pains of Being Pure at Heart brighter stylings who sold the place out a few weeks ago. Where the Pains are bright colors and glistening pop hooks, Crystal Stilts dredge around below the ground in the dark of night. Their second album In Love With Oblivion recently released on Slumberland is a more assured effort than their debut. JB Townsend’s guitars rattle, jangle and shatter with a Bo Diddly tenacity while singer Brad Hargett keeps his vocals murky making you dig just a little for the melody.
Oblivion doesn’t make you dig too deep with its abundance of hooks as their previous effort Alight of Night did. Its glistening guitar more often than not offsets Hargett’s caliginous musings. The band have never been ones to lead sing-alongs at their shows, opting to put up a distinct boundary between them and whoever shows up to see them play, and this night was no different. Crystal Stilts where there to play, oblivious to whether there were 50 or 500 people in the room which was good and bad. Good because there were only about 50 people there. They belted out a set of big moody songs that sparkled at times like a partly cloudy day in Seattle. Sun breaks came with the Felt inspired Half a Moon, the pop of Through the Floor, and single Shake the Shackles and then darkness reigned on Prometheus At Large and Flying Into the Sun. Bad because it seemed like their set was cut short by the band’s disaffection or their general awkwardness of just being on stage. Their music sounds intimidating, but to see them play, much of the mystery and malice that their songs conjure disappears because of their lack of a charismatic stage presence. They seemed uncomfortable playing to a mostly empty room and made a short night of it, only playing nine songs plus and encore.
I should not complain too much, because what they played sounded great. Evoking the Bunnymen, Velvets, 13 Floor Elevators and Felt at once is no easy feat, but it felt like it was phoned in. If you’re only going to play nine songs then why even bother with an encore? Just play 10 and leave the stage. Do it like you mean it and leave me wanting more. A band like Crystal Stilts who seem to not give a fuck about whether you’re there or not shouldn’t conform to the tired encore. If they would have done it like they meant it they would not have come back for an encore of Love Is a Wave. They would have left me wanting more, but as it was they left me wondering why they only played 10 songs and hoping they gain some charisma before they play Seattle again.
Jesse Lortz who was the Duke in the Dutchess and the Duke has a new moniker in Case Studies. I had seen him a couple months ago at Cairo with only an acoustic guitar and thought his new songs were ho-hum, but this time getting some help from 3/5 of the Crystal Stilts the songs seemed to have more of an impact. The performance felt more like a practice with Lortz coaxing the Stilts on to “try another one”, but it seemed like they were on the right track and left me hoping the Lortz employs a band when goes to actually record some of these songs.
Kicking off the evening were Seattle’s very own entry into the 90′s retread, Posse. Versus come to mind and that in and of itself should wet your whistle. The trio sounded amazing, and seemed totally comfortable on the Crocodile’s super high stage giving a shout out to their parents who showed up to see them play. If you haven’t checked them out over at their bandcamp page, what are you waiting for?
Tags: Girls Names, Golden Grrrls, Night School, Sacred Bones, Slug Guts, Slumberland
Today’s music is brought to you by the letter G*.
Golden Grrrls are a trio from Scotland who have just released their first 7-inch single on Night School Records in the UK. It’s an edition of 300 and sure to go quick as their noisy melodic boy-grrrl lo-fi sound is sure to pleasure at least 300 people’s ears enough into buy it. They kind of remind me of Sexy Kids which is no small feat.
Coming off of two EP’s and a split single with Brilliant Colors are Girls Names who hail from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Slumberland has scooped up the band for the US release and it’s not surprising since they have a similar dark sound to Crystal Stilts.
Speaking of dark sounds, Brisbane, Australia’s Slug Guts have a record called Howlin’ Gang out next week on Sacred Bones. Sounding like a more accessible Birthday Party or early Hunters and Collectors, their Hangin’ in the Pisser might just be the best song I’ve heard all week. Psychobilly goth is back with a vengeance.
Tags: Slumberland, Weekend
I was kind of surprised at how blown away I was by Weekend last Saturday at the Vera Project even with technical difficulties (a blown fuse in the guitar amp) near the end of their set. The San Francisco band’s Slumberland debut hit the streets this week and they were in town supporting fellow label mates the Pains of Being Pure At Heart. There’s something about their waves of cacophonous noise that drill into a sweet spot in my brain. They have this uncanny ability to bury the melodies of their songs just deep enough to where you can barely hear them. You tend to hear the chorus and then the verse disappears down into the depths as each song seems to ebb a flow along the undercurrent of noise they create. Only a three piece, they are easily more than the sum of their parts with the bassist slightly nudging out the guitarists in the effects pedals category. Hope they decided to come back to Seattle soon.
It’s called Sports and it, umm sports the afore mentioned psychotic miasmic melodrama akin to the feedback soaked melodies of Psychocandy era Mary Chain, the hazy juggernaught of Swervedriver, the barrage of Bailter Space, the noisy syncopations of the Pale Saints, the basscentric uproar of Lorelei and goth tinge of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. If that’s your thing then Weekend are your thing. Here’s their mining disaster song. Wonder if they’d consider covering the Bee Gees’ New York Mining Disaster 1941?
Here’s some blown out video I shot of Coma Summer: