Tarpeian Rock

May 22, 2014 at 10:16 pm | Posted in Black Lodge, Music, Seattle | 4 Comments
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Protomartyr, Grave Babies, Unnatural Helpers at Black Lodge, Seattle | 20 May 2014

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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.

stream: Protomartyr – Come & See (from Under Color of Official Right on Hardly Art)

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2012: My Year In Records

January 3, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Posted in Albums, Best of, Lists, Music | 1 Comment
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Here’s the list of my favorite albums outside of Seattle for 2012. You may think it’s late, but you should know I got it done before the Russian New Year. Kevin Shields, you still have a few more days.

exlovers

1. Exlovers – exlovers (Young And Lost Club)

Exlovers had my favorite single of 2011 and now my favorite record of 2012. Their debut album is a dreampop masterpiece that was a long time coming from this London band. I didn’t think I would ever hear a record this accomplished after the shoegaze/dreampop heyday of the 90’s. I hope that this album being criminally ignored by nearly everyone does not deter this amazing band from persevering and making another one.

You’re So Quiet:

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2. Tyvek – On Triple Beams (In the Red)

This is an off the rails punk rock concept album about Tyvek’s hometown of Detroit and its urban blight slowly being turned back into an agrarian based metropolis. On Triple Beams sees Tyvek living up to the promise of their early singles and then exceeding it.

Wayne County Roads:

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3. Boomgates – Double Natural (Bedroom Suck)

The half sung half spoken delivery of Eddy Current Suppression Ring frontman Brendan Huntly may be an acquired taste for some, but combined with Steph Hughes’ sweet croon and songs that bring to mind the brilliance of the Go-Betweens Double Natural is a sure winner.

Flood Plains:

hospitality
4. Hospitality – Hospitality (Merge)

Hospitality effortlessly do cocktail jazz, indiepop and smooth pop, but you get the feeling that they are pulling their ideas from a larger pallet that includes some things that you wouldn’t expect like Steely Dan, Randy Newman and Todd Rundgren to name a few and that is what makes this record sound so familiar but different at once.

Eight Avenue:

FrankieRose
5. Frankie Rose – Interstellar (Slumberland)

Frankie Rose sloughed off the distortion and kicked it into hyperdrive on her second album. Slick space-age pop that I imagine if we still had a Space Shuttle program, would be playing in the cockpit on every lift off.

Night Swim:

Cate Le Bon
6. Cate Le Bon – Cyrk (The Control Group)

The Welsh chanteuse melded Velvet Underground with Kevin Ayers to come up with the best psychedelic record I heard all year.

Falcon Eyed:

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7. Cats on Fire – All Black Shirts to Me (Matinée)

Pop music rarely sounds this elegant and regal. All Black Shirts To Me is an assured jewel in the Cats On Fire crown.

It’s Clear Your Former Lover:

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8. Bored Nothing – Bored Nothing (Spunk)

Seems like anything coming out of Melbourne in 2012 was worthy. Fergus Miller’s (aka Bored Nothing) take on bedroom pop went from sad and introspective to blissed out dreampop. More than just another bedroom pop record and more than worthy.

Popcorn:

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9. Sea Pinks – Freak Waves (CF)

Girls Names drummer Neil Brogan is not only prolific, but talented as well. Sea Pinks third album is their best yet. Freak Waves is a jangly take on the classic Beach Boys model.

Lake Superior:

lawrence-arabia
10. Lawrence Arabia – The Sparrow (Bella Union)

New Zealand’s James Milne knows how to do orchestral pop. The Sparrow is his third album as Lawrence Arabia and it’s a moody, pensive and playful feast of the ears.

The Bisexual:

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11. Terry Malts – Killing Time (Slumberland)

San Francisco punks delivered a debut record full of blitzkrieg pop. Every song is no holds barred sing-along sweaty mosh pit.

Nauseous:

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12. Bäddat För Trubbel – Värdighet (Punks Only)

Not speaking a word of Swedish did not stop me from loving Bäddat För Trubbel’s second album. They employ influences like Eddy Current Supression Ring and Blumfeld and they aren’t afraid to have a guy who plays saxophone the band. True punks!

Det här jobbet:

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13. The Intelligence – Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me (In the Red)

Mad thinker Lars Finberg upped and moved his band from Seattle to LA. The only thing I can complain about is that they don’t play Seattle as much any more. Otherwise, the Intelligence deliver another fractured masterpiece.

Techno Tuesday:

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14. Deep Time – Deep Time (Hardly Art)

Formerly known as Yellow Fever, Austin, Texas duo Deep Time’s self-titled first album after their rechristening is a pure minimalist’s delight.

Bermuda Triangle:

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15. Gap Dream – Gap Dream (Burger)

Gabe Fulvimar’s Gap Dream is a wonderful debut. Kind of a psychedelic droner’s pop paradise.

Feast of the First Morning:

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16. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold (Dull Tools)

Parquet Courts deliver a taut cow punk record out of seemingly nowhere. The proverbial new kid in town Andrew Savage formerly of Fergus & Geronimo moved to Brooklyn, started a new band and came up gold.

Yonder is Closer to the Heart:

Eternal-Summers

17. Eternal Summers – Correct Behavior (Kanine)

Eternal Summers seem to grow leaps and bounds with each release and Correct Behavior continues their upward trajectory. Nicol Yun’s songs get better and bigger sounding and when she lets the drummer have some like on Girls In the City it’s like the frosting on the cake.

Millions:

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18. The See See – Fountayne Mountain (The Great Pop Supplement)

The See See go on a wondrous psychedelic tour de force on their second album. Fountayne Mountain is the sound of a band peaking. Drug reference intended.

Automobile:

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19. Super Vacations – Heater Pt. II (Funny Not Funny)

I love how after I listen to this album I feel like I have to wash the filth from body. Richmond, Virginia’s Super Vacations know the ins and outs of getting down and dirty and this record is an expressway to those dirty depths.

Faded Leather Jacket:

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20. Pop Singles – All Gone (Vacant Valley)

More Melbourne goodness in this year’s list. Pop Singles’s debut record was an unexpected surprise and the best heart-on-the-sleeve-jangle-pop record of the year.

All Gone:

toughshits

21. The Tough Shits – The Tough Shits (Burger)

Don’t let Philadelphia’s Tough Shits fool you. They want you to think that they’re a bunch of irreverent slackers, but their mothers know that their tender pop loving hombres and this record is all the proof you need.

Cats and Dogs:

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22. This Many Boyfriends – This Many Boyfriends (Angular)

The debut album from Leeds’ This Many Boyfriends is love song to records, love songs and misfits. Sometimes songs that are meant to be funny wear off quickly, but this album isn’t too funny for its own good. It’s merely poignant.

Tina Weymouth:

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23. Strategy – Strategy (Peak Oil)

Portland, Oregon resident Paul Dickow has many personas. His album using the Strategy moniker was a playful take on electronic music that took notes from Ultramarine and Yello in the way it incorporated pop songs with dub, kraut and weird.

Sugar Drop:

GrassWidow
24. Grass Widow – Internal Logic (HLR)

San Francisco trio Grass Widow finally embraced their full pop-selves on album number three. Internal Logic was brilliant for the way it juxtaposed minimalist instrumentation with lush harmonies.

Milo Minute:

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25. Peoples Temple – More for the Masses (Hozac)

Either I’m still drinking the Kool-Aid or Lansing, Michigan’s Peoples Temple are. Their second album ups the dose and rattles the psyche. The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request was a good psychedelic record. Peoples Temple start with that blueprint and out psych the Stones and everyone else for that matter.

Nevermore:

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26. Chain and the Gang – In Cool Blood (K)

On Chain and the Gang’s third album leader Ian Svenonius gets a little more playful. He shares vocals with new member Katie Alice Greer and records the entire thing in mono. Kind of throwback but these ears, timeless.

Free Will:

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27. Crushed Stars – In the Bright Rain (Simulacra)

In the Bright Rain lives under gray skies and rains down melancholia and cascades of guitars to beautiful effect. Being lonely, sad and out of sorts hasn’t sounded this good since the At Swim Two Birds album back in 2009.

Brighter Now:

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28. Prissy Clerks – Bruise Or Be Bruised (Forged Artifacts)

The debut album from this Minneapolis was a sweet bite of 90’s indierock slathered with twee and powerpop condiments. Sweet, sour and definitely hot!

Death Wish:

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29. Literature – Arab Spring (Square of Opposition/Austin Town Hall)

Former Austin and now Philadelphia band Literature are well read in the details of adrenaline fueled jangle pop. They deliver a wide eyed beauty in their debut album Arab Spring.

Push Up Bra:

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30. Mac DeMarco – Mac DeMarco 2 (Captured Tracks)

On his second album, Montreal’s Mac DeMarco delivers a batch of skewed guitar pop gold. He seems be to posses the songwriting sensibilities of Nilsson, Lennon, Ayers and T Rex and he may be just as eccentric as them too.

Cooking Up Something Good:

Ex-Insulating Agents

March 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Ex-Lion Tamers, Music | Leave a comment
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Detroit’s Tyvek are not your typical punks. Back in 2007 on their What’s Your Rupture double single they indirectly posed the question: Why did Tyvek Go to the Whole Foods? It was kind of like asking why did the chicken cross the road? Were they hungry? Did they have spray paint in their bags? Jobs? We’re they planning to do some damage?   There was no point in even pondering. It was what it was.

Tyvek’s  discombobulated trajectory continues after albums on Siltbreeze and In the Red a new single has emerged on the French label Les Disques Steak.  It’s three songs that continue to keep you guessing. Inter City Walks is my favorite with it’s manic riffs and Kevin Boyer’s vocals to match. You know that inter city walks are not strolls through the park.  It’s more of a running from cover to cover as you try to get from point a to point b as the guitars fall apart.  Now that I really think about it, I doubt that there’s a Whole Foods within 20 miles of Tyvek’s house. There may be a 7-11.  The more important question is should you cross the street to get this new single?  Most definitely, mail order if necessary!

Place your order for the new Tyvek single from Les Disques Steak

Getting Ready for Flu Season

October 13, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Music, Serendipity | 1 Comment
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I got my flu shot today, so I’m feeling pretty invincible. The only thing that could infect me would be the following five songs which have been on repeat in this order throughout my day.  Not sure how this short play list came to fruition. I just live in the moment and don’t question higher powers.

Seattle’s Brent Amaker and the Rodeo have make a good case for doing an entire album of Kraftwerk covers with their version of Pocket Calculator.  This song is not on their new album Please Stand By that comes out next week,but they might play it at the Crocodile next Thursday for their record release party.  The only thing better than listening to this cover on my computer with headphones would be listening to this cover at the Crocodile while scantily clad girls wearing pasties dancing around on stage with Mr. Amaker and the Rodeo, which I’m sure is bound to happen.

mp3: Brent Amaker and the Rodeo – Pocket Calculator
The new album from Brent Amaker and the Rodeo Please Stand By is out next week on Sparkle and Shine.


Hailing from somewhere up in the great white northern Canadian province of Alberta, Myelin Sheaths finally answer Mudhoney‘s Touch Me I’m Sick with a blast of rock that is part Cave Weddings and part White Wires.  What is their answer?  “I’m not afraid of getting sick!” The boy-girl vocals are totally contagious.  I think I’m sick.

mp3: Myelin Sheaths – Everything Is Contagious
You can pre-order Myelin Sheaths self-titled debut from Southpaw.

I won’t go into how Weekend are from San Francisco and have named their album Sports, but I will say that End Times which first appeared on a split single with like-minded Frisconians Young Prisms on the Transparent label is a blissed out wall of sound that reminds me of Slumberland veterans Lorelei.  Well, what do ya know, Weekend’s debut album is due on Slumberland next month!

mp3: Weekend – End Times
Weekend’s double debut LP Sports comes out November 9 on Slumberland.

When I saw Tyvek a few weeks back here in Seattle I remarked to myself how much they reminded me of Wire.  The teaser song from their In The Red debut does absolutely nothing to dispute that assertion.  What we have here is ex-lion tamers hoisting the pink flag and succeeding.

mp3: Tyvek – 4312
Tyvek’s second album Nothing Fits can be orderd direct from In the Red.

Many have attempted to ape the My Bloody Valentine sound, but few can get it right and write a pop song at the same time. Austin’s Ringo Deathstarr may have done just that.  The first song from their debut record which isn’t due until early next year sounds like it was directly influenced by Isn’t Anything.  While you wait for next year, you can listen to Imagine Hearts and  you can track down Sparkler the Japanese only CD that compiles most of there EP’s and singles to date.  You won’t be disappointed doing one or both.

mp3: Ringo Deathstarr – Imagine Hearts
No news on who’s putting out Ringo Deathstarr’s Colour Trip. Head over to RCRDLBL for UK tour dates.

Best of the Rest: Favorite Albums of 2009

January 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Posted in Best of, Lists, Music | 1 Comment
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As I said previously in my list of top Seattle albums of the year, my favorite three records came out of Seattle this year.  Because of that, this list begins at number four.  Judging from the number of contenders I cut from this list, it was a pretty good year for the album.  They may not be selling like they use to, but more people are making them than ever before.  Here’s to a year in which it was truly a task to keep up.

4. Crayon Fields – All the Pleasures of the World (Chapter)

Album number two from Australia’s Crayon Fields tripped the light fantastic not tripped since the Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle.  Watery guitars and feathery strings mixed with precious vocals to make a record that I handled with care so as not to damage its frail pop songs.  That’s an exaggeration of course, but these songs will have you floating like a feather in the breeze.  Everything on this record is in it’s right place.  The Crayon Fields have attempted and intricate balancing act and gracefully succeeded.

mp3: Disappear

5. Brilliant Colors – Introducing the Brilliant Colors (Slumberland)

The cup definitely spilled over with C-86 inspired girl groups this year, but the Brilliant Colors were my favorite of the lot.  Instead of going for the twee-er side of things, they leaned more towards the punks with their Raincoats, Slits who were precursors to the whole C-86 movement. Every song on Introducing adheres to strict punk rock rules of  two minutes, super catchy, and blistering.

mp3: Absolutely Anything

6. At Swim Two Birds – Before You Left (Vespertine & Son)

Not since the Trembling Blue Stars’ Her Handwriting has their been a breakup album this raw, this heart-wrenching, this desolate, or this beautiful.  If you are Montgolfier Brothers fan, then Robert Quigly’s warm, melancholic voice will not be new to you.  If you are unfamiliar, then you will be enveloped by this record.  It has elements of Babybird, early Spiritualized, Simon Raymond’s unheralded solo album Blame Someone Else and some Blue Nile.  Before You Left is a slow burner, that will burn brightest on those lonely nights when you are all alone.  Sometimes sad albums are the best things to listen to when you are sad.

mp3: The Night We Ran Away

7. Obits – I Blame You (Sub Pop)

One part Hot Snakes, one part Edsel, one part killer rhythm section.  This album rocked like elder statesmen giving the kids a lesson in how to actually rock. It’s primal enough to get your blood pumping, but complex enough to keep your interest (all year long as is the case since this came out way back in March).  In a year where tons of  bands were at the beach making laid back sun in your face tunes, the Obits were kicking sand in everyone’s faces mixing Gang of Four funk with Dick Dale guitars.  Yow!

mp3: Two-Headed Coin

8. Tyvek – Tyvek (Siltbreeze)

It’s kind of funny, the amount of attention that this record’s cover has gotten.  It must be a real threat to a would-be punk’s sense of punk mentality to like a record who’s cover looks like it was designed by Nick Park.  To my mind post-punk was always a ton more interesting than anything punk ever wrought, and Tyvek are decidedly post-punk, pulling influences from disparate places to make a tour de force.  From the Joy Division like instrumental interludes to the Gang of Four-like guitars, or the way Kevin Boyer shouts out the address in the song Hey Una reminding me of Grant Hart’s 2541, or the two part Building Burning bringing back memories of early Fall.  Tyvek are the best parts of  geek, intellectual, punk, and they have a sense of humor.

mp3: Summer Things

9. Tap Tap – On My Way (Stolen)

If anyone has captured the essence and spirit of the Chills (besides Martin Phillips himself of course) it’s Thomas Sanders.  Sanders’ other band Pete & the Pirates were a top pick last year and I’m looking forward to their new album in the coming year, but Tap Tap nearly made me forget about his other band.  Tap Tap doesn’t sound a whole lot different from Pete & Pirates, except that it’s a little more moody and introverted with quiet vocals and slithering guitars.  On My Way will literally sneak right up on you and wrap itself around you.  Compared to this, the first Tap Tap record sounded like half finished demos.  Thomas Sanders really hitting his stride as songwriter.

mp3: El Gusano

10. Cerys Matthews – Don’t Look Down (Rainbow City)

Cerys Matthews, the former Catatonia singer has been quietly putting out solo albums since her band called it a day back in 2001.  Don’t Look Down is her fourth album and it’s really the first one I’ve taken note of since her Catatonia days.  She recorded two versions of the record with slightly different running orders and a few different songs  on each one.  One versionis sung in her native Welsh and and another in the more familiar English. No matter the language you choose to hear Don’t Look Down in, it’s a delight as Matthews goes from lush orchestral songs, to ones that sound like some long lost show tune,  to more straightforward pop numbers.  The album sometimes walks a fine line between sugary sweet pop and the vapid kind that seems to dominate the charts in the UK.  To my ears, it’s the former, and I can’t seem to get some of these songs out of my head.

mp3: A Captain Needs a Ship

mp3: Mae Angen Llong Ar Gapte

11. Jacuzzi Boys – No Seasons (Florida’s Dying)

On the surface, Florida’s Jacuzzi Boys appear to be just another garage tinged rock band, but upon further examination you start to realize that it’s a little bit more complex than that.  For starters this album was recorded at the Living Room, not a garage.  No Seasons has a distinct Feelies vibe.  Like the Feelies, Jacuzzi Boys like to whip their songs up into a maelstrom and they also seem to dig the Velvet Underground, Television and the Byrds. Just listen to Komi Caricoles and tell me I’m wrong.  But they also have a love of the 13th Floor Elevators that gives the record a more wild and unpredictable feel to it.

mp3: Komi Caricoles

12. So Cow – So Cow (Tic Tac Totally)

Technically this is a compilation or reissue, but really it’s the first many of us ever heard of Brian Kelly’s one man band So Cow.  Tic Tac Totally cherry picked the best tracks from Kelly’s self-released CDr’s and put them down on a slab of vinyl.  So Cow songs are short blasts of DIY pop, parts Television Personalities, Beat Happening and Pastels These 18 songs may grab, jar or caress you and sometimes all three at once.

mp3: Casablanca

13. Pants Yell! – Received Pronunciations (Slumberland)

It’s the little things that makes some things so special.  Little things like the guitars in the song Rue de la Paix sounding like Felt, the packaging with Japanese obi strip, or the crisp, yet simple production of this record.  Attention to detail is the bookish Pants Yell! forte.  They’ve simplified their sound a little, (gone are the horns of last year’s Allison Statton) stripping down to guitar, bass, drums and Andrew Churchman’s smooth croon.   A near perfect little record.  I don’t even mind it when Churchman sings “I never trusted Toby, or his long hair”.

mp3: Frank And Sandy

14. The Clean – Mister Pop (Merge)

You would think that with the number of times I’ve seen some new band get compared to the Clean that their latest album would have gotten more accolades, especially when Mister Pop is arguably the best album the band has made (remember that Compilation is just that, a compilation).  Mister Pop is the Clean at their most sanguine with all three members contributing top notch songs.  Asleep in the Tunnel could be one of my favorite Robert Scott songs ever, David Kilgour gives us the beautiful In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul and Are You Really on Drugs, while his brother Hamish contributes one his best in years Back In the Day.  Every song leads into the next, there are no non-sequiter instrumentals (Moon Jumper is perfect and integral) or throw-away half songs.  It’s a concise well thought out album that floats along putting you into a dream-like warm euphoric state.  At least it does me.

mp3: In the Dreamlife You Need a Rubber Soul

15. Taken By Trees – East of Eden (Rough Trade)

This has to be one of the best surprises of the year.  Victoria Bergsman had left the Concretes a few years back to go solo with her Taken By Trees project.  Album number one had many thinking (myself included) that although she had a great voice, she missed the songwriting of her former band.  No such doubts on album number two.  A complete rethink with Bergsman traveling to Pakistan to record East of Eden, and taking on an entirely different feel to anything she’s done previously.  Her child-like, angelic voice is still here, but this album of songs has a earthy eastern feel to it that doesn’t feel forced at all.  Her songs easily meld in with the eastern influences and at times are completely immersed, coming out all the better for it.

mp3: Anna

16. The Horrors – Primary Colors (XL)
I nearly didn’t pay this record any mind, because their debut was a non-melodic record with a bad a Birthday Party fixation.  Primary Colors is like the Radiohead’s the Bends, a sophomore album that leaves the debut in the dust.  The Horrors have moved on to more melodic territory, mining the rich vein of Chameleons, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, The Sound and the Comsat Angels, straddling the line of stadium rock, goth, and pop. Not only do they get the feel right, they do it with great songs.

mp3: Who Can Say

17. Real Estate – Real Estate (Woodsist)

This New Jersey band’s debut came off sounding like a long lost David Kilgour album (Sugarmouth or A Feather In the Engine anyone?). I don’t know where exactly in New Jersey Real Estate is from, but my guess would be somewhere along the shore where you can kick back around a bonfire on the beach after the sun has just set with the fire crackling and the constant rhythm of waves crashing to the sand.

mp3: Beach Comber

18. The Spires – A Way of Seeing (Bee House)
If you’ve hung out at this blog for any amount of time you’ve probably figured out that the Chills are one of my favorite bands.  With this album, the Spires pretty much made up for the MIA Chills.  It’s uncanny how much singer Jason Bays sounds like Martin Phillips and how the music takes on this jangly sing-song thing that Chills did so well.  A Way of Seeing is such an accomplished record that it’s hard to believe it was self-released.  Thank god for DIY!

mp3: The Afterlife

19. Girls - Album (True Panther/Fantasy Trashcan)
This record has a distinct 50’s vibe mostly due to Christopher Owens’ emotive voice.  He reminds me of Danny Zuko, this big masculine, leather jacket wearing guy with a voice that betrays his sensitive side.  Musically, it hops around a little more from Beach Boys to My Bloody Valentine and places in between. The style doesn’t really matter though, because every song is packed with memorable hooks, the best of which is the epic centerpiece Hellhole Ratrace.  A real beauty.

mp3: Hellhole Ratrace

20. Mannequin Men – Lose Your Illusion, Too (Flameshovel)
About ten years ago a band like the Mannequin Men would have been hailed as potential saviors of rock n’ roll.  Since rock doesn’t need saving these days, they flew under the radar.  The Mannequin Men like the Strokes before them and the Replacements before them can’t decide if they want to be snotty or sensitive. The album cover and songs like Rathole and WTF LOL argue for the former, but Exquisite Corpse and Judy go for the latter.  That’s what makes the Mannequin Men so essential, they can do both.

mp3: Massage

21. The Clientele – Bonfires on the Heath (Merge)

With each new Clientele record, the vocal reverb gets turned down further and the smooth pop thrills get turned up.  I remember back in the day, you would have to strain to understand Alasdair MacLean’s lyrics because  of the echo on his voice was so great.  The Clientele are the perfect example of a band that have developed into accomplished and confident musicians along the road of their career.  This is the fourth proper album, and I don’t know if I could say it is the best one, but it’s as good as any that came before which is saying something.  It has an autumnal sound and feel to it, but turning it up as loud as you can will enhance your ability to soak in the sounds and pleasures that Bonfires on the Heath serves out listen after listen.

mp3: I Wonder Who We Are

22. Summer Cats – Songs for Tuesdays (Slumberland)

One of my biggest musical regrets of this year was that I missed Summer Cats when they played in Seattle this summer.  It was a house party, and I can only imagine how they shook the joint with their energetic, anthemic indiepop.  This was the year that we finally got a full album from these feline Australians after many singles and eps.  Songs for Tuesdays plucked the best songs from their previous releases and injected some new songs as well as styles into the mix.  The ace Stereolab-ish singles Let’s Go and Lonely Planet are included, but there were new favorites to be found like the lovely duet In June, the Triffids-like Maybe Pile and St. Tropez. A record that is perfect any day of the week or year for that matter.

mp3: In June

23. Let’s Wrestle – In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s (Stolen)

These guys seem to get pegged as Fall fans, mostly because of Wesley Patrick Gonzalez’s off kilter, slightly tone-deaf vocals, but Let’s Wrestle are a whole lot goofier than the Fall ever were.  In the Court of the Wrestling Let’s is a strangely titled record, but it gives you an idea of this bands slanted and enchanted take on life. Decidedly lo-fi, lo-budget, but spot on.  Gonzalez has tons of bon mots, but the line No matter How many records I buy, I can’t fill this void could be the best lyric to describe record collector geek types ever.

mp3: I Won’t Lie To You

Freaks & Geeks & Punks

October 31, 2009 at 11:07 pm | Posted in Funhouse, Gigs, Seattle | Leave a comment
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Tyvek at the Funhouse | 30 October 2009

Freaks & Geeks

Are Tyvek punks, geeks, or moonlighting construction workers?  They’re most certainly the first two.  Frontman Kevin Boyer is a dead ringer for Bill Haverchuck but he can rock it like Nick Andopolis, and they could very well be the third for all I know. Maybe that’s why Boyer was the only Tyvek guy I recognized from the group that recorded the excellent self-titled album released on Siltbreeze earlier this year. The rest of the band could be back in Detroit unable to get away from their jobs for this west coast tour.  Tyvek last night at the Funhouse were a band that at times acted like this was the first time they’d ever actually played a gig together.  That’s probably because it was close to the case.  Not sure what’s up with the original line-up, or if this is the west coast version of Tyvek.   At one point the second guitarist’s chord to his amp came unplugged from his guitar, but he didn’t seem to notice and kept playing, luckily Chris from the opening band Sandy City noticed and plugged it back in for him.    A few songs later it took the drummer a few minutes to figure out the beat to a song Boyer wanted to play next.

Lucky for Tyvek that first and foremost, they’re punks because even with a band that seemed brand new they were able to get their point across.   While his band seemed a bit robotic (one of them was dressed in vintage Devo yellow jumper, industrial glasses and cone top), Boyer was a bundle of awkward energy.  Like his guitar playing, he would unleash his body in spasms jumping around and pogoing around the stage.  He’s got a voice that reminds me of a stoner version of Ian Mackaye (Minor Threat/Egg Hunt/Embrace/Pailhead/Fugazi).  He keeps it cool though, never really going into  the manic screaming that Mackay tends towards. It seemed that Boyer only really required minimal backing and I think he probably could have pulled it off as a solo gig because it was his singing and playing that were front and center of the show.

The Tyvek record is cool in the way it interlaces these Joy Division sounding interludes in between melodic old school punk rock songs like Building Burning, Hey Una and Summer Things.  The songs last night didn’t really jump out at you like they do on the record.  It was almost as if they were playing with one arm tied behind their back.  They were good, but I left with the feeling that I didn’t really see the real Tyvek.  I guess I have to go to Detroit for that.

mp3: Tyvek – Hey Una (buy their album from Siltbreeze)

Nov 1 – Funhouse (again) w /Blues Control – Seattle, WA
Nov 2 – THE EAST END w/LITTLE CLAW, WHINES, ASSS     Portland, OR
Nov 3 – THE HUB – Sacramento, CA
Nov 4 – HEMLOCK TAVERN – San Francisco, CA
Nov 5 – BOMB SHELTER HOUSE w/TRAWLER BYCATCH – Davis, CA
Nov 6 – VACATION RECORDS – Los Angeles, CA
Nov 7 – ACROBATICS EVERYDAY – Irvine, CA
Nov 8 – TBA in Tucson – Tucson, AZ

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