Tags: Buffalo Tom, Cheatahs, Dinosaur Jr, My Bloody Valentine, Ringo Deathstarr, Swervedriver, Teenage Fanclub, Witchita Records
Cheatahs at the Tractor, Seattle | 23 February
There was a shoegazing dilemma this past Sunday night in Seattle for those of us with a penchant for music made using loads of guitar effects pedals. Option A was for the hot and cool brand of noisy tremolo pop of Austin’s Ringo Deathstarr at El Corazon, and the B option was London based grungy flannel clad gaze of Cheatahs over at the Tractor? Having already seen Ringo Deathstarr a few times I went for option B.
Cheatahs come from London, but the four guys in the band are from Canada, Germany, the US and the UK. Their debut self-titled album is just out on Witchita and follows up the Extended Plays record from last year that compiled their first couple EP’s. There are obvious similarities to Swervedriver in the same way that back in the 90′s Gene looked to the Smiths for inspiration. Like was the case with Gene, I’m sure that Cheatahs have their detractors for sounding too derivative, but when you’ve got the songs to back up your boast of sound it goes a long way in quieting any detractors. As loud as they are with their feet on the pedals they drown out the babble anyway. Beyond Swervedriver and some Dinosaur Jr, you can hear Teenage Fanclub and early Buffalo Tom. I’m not going to kid you, these guys are full on 90′s revivalists, but they make it fun and throw in some switch-ups to keep it interesting.
The show itself was a blast. It felt like I was at a Dino Jr or Swervedriver show 20 years ago. The two guitar players Nathan Hewitt and James Wignall slashed and dove around on stage and dialed up nebulous waves of feedback on every song. Fall may have been the highlight of the night with its My Bloody Valentine-like guitar refrain, but really every song was blisteringly good. Northern Exposure, Cut the Grass and Mission Creep were nothing to sneeze at either. All the songs revved at optimal RPM and at one point I pinched myself to make sure it was real. Realness was confirmed as I walked out of the Tractor with my ears ringing.
stream: Cheatahs – Fall (from Cheatahs out now on Witchita)
These are the remaining US tour dates for Cheatahs:
27 Feb, Los Angeles Echo
01 Mar, San Francisco Brick & Mortar Music Hall
01 Mar, San Francisco Amoeba Records
04 Mar, Brooklyn, NY Baby’s All Right
05 Mar, Philadelphia Boot & Saddle
06 Mar, Washington U Street Music Hall
Tags: Beat Happening, Fishrider Records, Heavenly, Occultation Records, Pastels, The Bats, Trick Mammoth
Earlier this week construction workers were digging a big hole for a new building in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle and discovered the eight foot tusk of a 2,000 to 60,000 thousand year old mammoth. The giant tusk was excavated and is now safely at the Burke Museum here in town, but many questions are still left unanswered. What was this creature doing in Seattle 50,000 years ago? What was the music scene like? Was there any indiepop? Is the tusk real, or was it perhaps, a trick mammoth?
I don’t know if there have been any recent mammoth bone discoveries in New Zealand, but they’ve got a pretty good Trick Mammoth down there. From Dunedin and certainly not prehistoric this trio sounds like they know their history. Taking inspiration from the Bats, Pastels, Beat Happening and Heavenly these indiepop archaeologists piece it together quite nicely. Their debut album just out on Fishrider in New Zealand and Occultation in the UK is full of dainty delights that brush away the dirt. I especially like the way vocalists Adrian Ng and Mille Lovelock blend together like butterfly wings fossilized in ancient sediments. This records is a beauty that is well worth preserving.
You can stream the record at Trick Mammoth’s bandcamp page.
Tags: Apples In Stereo, Beatles, Byrdes, Byrds, Can, Crosby Stills and Nash, Lee Scratch Perry, Mamas and the Papas, Neu!, Stereolab
Quilt at Barboza, Seattle | 10 February 2014
Listening to Quilt and reading about them on the internet you get the initial impression that they are 60′s revivalist hippies. On their sophomore album Held In Splendor the Boston band pluck strings from psychedelic era Beatles, unearth dusty jangle from the Byrds and sprinkle misty mountain vocal harmonies from the Mamas and the Papas. The trio of Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler, and John Andrews are all songwriters which adds to the variety of their sound on the album. They also have voices that allow them to harmonize like Crosby Stills and Nash which are often the focus of their sound. A couple interviews with the band touch on them being into chanting and even some dub. So I was expecting a show accenting their ability to harmonize. I wasn’t expecting a tendency for taking their songs into motorik and dub territory. What are good guitar solos on record turned into hypnotic grooves and made the songs take on new lives during their set last night in the Barboza basement.
When you add in these latent krautrock and dub tendencies you have an unbeatable combination, and at times last night they seemed to lock into jams like they were Stereolab or Neu. Perhaps it was the addition of a fourth member bassist Keven Lareau to the band for this tour that has opened up this new dimension. When they weren’t harmonizing in two, three and four parts, they were jamming and sometimes both at once to chilling effect. Quilt’s brand of psychedelia was already pretty good given their songwriting ability and willingness to go beyond the stereotypical hazy laid back stoner vibe that is all too prevalent in much of this new wave of psyche, but this show put them into by themselves. Already exceptional the songs were put into whatever you want to call the next highest category (neu-super-metronom-psych). Quilt are one of the band’s to beat in 2014.
Quilt are on tour right now.
Feb. 11—Media Club—Vancouver, British Columbia
Feb. 12—Mississippi Studios—Portland, Oregon
Feb. 14—Bottom Of The Hill—San Francisco, California
Feb. 15—The Satellite—Los Angeles, California
Feb. 16—Soda Bar—San Diego, California
Feb. 17—Last Exit Live—Phoenix, Arizona
Feb. 20—The Mohawk—Austin, Texas
Feb. 21—City Tavern—Dallas, Texas
Feb. 22—Fitzgerald’s—Houston, Texas
Feb. 24—529—Atlanta, Georgia
Feb. 25—Local 506—Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Feb. 27—Boot & Saddle—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Feb. 28—Rough Trade—Brooklyn, New York
March 1—Great Scott—Allston, Massachusetts
March 2—Casa De Popolo—Montreal, Quebec
March 3—Drake Hotel—Toronto, Ontario
March 5—Stone Fox—Nashville, Tennessee
April 2—The Windmill—London, United Kingdom
April 7—El Lokal—Zurich, Switzerland
April 14—Berghain Kantine—Berlin, Germany
April 17—Charlatan—Ghent, Belgium
April 19—L’Espace B—Paris, France
May 2—Carson Creek Ranch—Austin, Texas
May 7—Subterranean—Chicago, Illinois
May 11—Showcase Lounge—South Burlington, Vermont
Tags: A Frames, Bay Area Retrograde, Castleface, Devo, Intelligence, Pow!
I apologize in advance that this post comes too late. You see, there seems to be this contingent of fiends that are obsessed with 80′s post punk synth. Because of this, the first pressing of the Pow! debut album is sold out. If you remember and like the Bay Area Retrograde compilation on Dark Entries that came out a few years ago, then this record is right up your alley. Pow! being from the same place, I bet that they either have that compilation or original pressings of Nominal State, Los Microwaves and Standard of Living. They surely have some Devo, A-Frames and Intelligence records in their collections as well.
Hi-Tech Boom sounds like it was recorded in the 80′s, but it is a commentary on the current state of affairs in the Bay Area. High cost of living and high salaried tech workers pricing everyone out and vanillafying the place. Pow! sound robotic in their outrage. Like everyone these days they are desensitized to the absurdity of reality. They try to hack the mainframe, but the problem is that their are no mainframes anymore. It’s all in the cloud dude. Zombi faced young people walk around staring into their smart phones. These are the same kids that will probably invent Skynet. This world is fucked. Or maybe it isn’t. Pow! exist!
stream: Pow! – Cyber Attack (from Hi-Tech Boom on Castleface)
Tags: Born Bad Records, Brainiac, Cheveu, Devo, Hawkwind, The Intelligence, Wall of Voodoo
I like weird and I like good and Cheveu fits that description. The French band has just released it’s fourth album titled Bum and it just might be their best and weirdest record yet. How could they surpass their cover of Vanilla Ice‘s Ice Ice Baby in terms or strangeness you ask? Ok, maybe Bum isn’t their overtly strangest album. Actually they dial down one kind of weird and dial up another kind. Before they came off as arty punks willing to graffiti over anything, on Bum they are more into a prog rock otherworldly weirdness. They take elements from bands like Hawkwind, Wall of Voodoo, the Intelligence, Brainiac and Devo and come up with something all their own.
You can stream/buy/download the record from Born Bad Records’ bandcamp page.
stream: Cheveu – Juan In a Million
Tags: Hardly Art, Tacocat
The new Tacocat song is called Crimson Wave. It sounds like a surfing song fer sure, but I’m not sure it’s really about surfing. Dissecting the lyrics I think I might have a couple ideas to what it’s about. It could be about algae blooms caused by dinoflagellates that give the ocean a red hue and make it dangerous to eat shellfish during certain months of the year. They do mention surfing these waves, so maybe they like living on the edge surfing with dinoflagellates and algae. It could also be they are fans of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. They do mention calling in sick to work because of the Crimson Wave. Is that code for being too bummed out about their team losing the Iron Bowl and the Sugar Bowls this year? Of course it could about that Tom Clancy nuclear submarine movie. There are communists mentioned in the song and sharks in hot pursuit. Hmmm.
Whatever this song is about, it sounds like good clean fun. I like it.
Tacocat’s second album NVM is out February 25th on Hardly Art.
stream: Tacocat – Crimson Wave
Tags: Chicago, Gurgles, High Llamas, Hookworms, Jim O'Rourke, Leeds, Prefab Sprout, Saltaire Recordings, Steely Dan
Gurgles are from Leeds. They’ve just released their first single and it’s quite a delight. It’s light and airy and full of life. Think High Llamas, Steely Dan, Jim O’Rourke, Prefab Sprout and Chicago. The keyboards pump sound out like they’re powered by a steam engine while the singing verges on new age gospel. I know. When I first heard it I wasn’t sure, but I found myself hitting play again and again, and the next thing I know I find myself buying the single. Recorded by MJ of Hookworms, so the sound is raw and bleeds a little to make this otherwise slick sounding record oscillate with just enough grime. What an opening salvo for this brand new band!
stream & buy: Gurgles – You Send Me Up / You’re Madder Than Me
Tags: Ceremony, Chameleons, Christian Death, Cure, Jesus and Mary Chain, Moon Sounds Records, Sweet Jesus, Weekend
This new Ceremony record has been hitting a sweet spot somewhere between Weekend, House of Love, Cure Christian Death and Chameleons. It came out at the very tail end of last year, so too late to make my favorite albums list, but you can’t hear it all in time. Ceremony are essentially a one man band based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is highly stylized stuff, from the album cover with its striped shirt sunglasses girl to the apocalyptic guitars and vocals. M.C. John Fedowitz has a voice that is slightly monotone, but it adds to the disconnected and lonely feeling his songs have.
Distance is their third album and the first to feature a human drummer instead of a computer and that human touch makes a huge difference. The songs have a Blade Runner feel to them already, but human drums make any replicant tampering undetectable as the guitars buzzsaw to your head and Fedowitz sounds as serious as a heart attack. Dark days are here. Now where are the flying cars?
stream and buy: Ceremony – Distance
Tags: Boat, Chastity Belt, Dreamsalon, Jetman Jet Team, La Luz, Math and Physics Club, Neighbors, Sean Nelson, The Purrs, Trevor Dickson, Universe People, We Are Loud Whispers, Wimps
The older I get the more I think that there should be a new music moratorium every January so that you can catch up on all of the stuff that you missed from the previous year. Yeah, I know that ain’t gonna happen. So here we are. It’s not quite mid-January, and here I am hoisting upon you dear readers one more 2013 list. I promise that this is the last one. It’s kind of a special one because it is my favorite records from my adopted hometown. If I didn’t live in Seattle some of these records would have been in my best albums of the year. Also, if I didn’t live here I probably would have missed some of these since you actually have to live in a local scene to hear the local scene. Here is the best stuff that I discovered through osmosis, going to shows, and reading local blogs and papers. Picking a favorite record from my fair city is like picking a favorite child. I love them all the same, at least that’s what I tell them.
Universe People – Go To the Sun (Little Black Cloud)
Universe People incorporate the sweetness of Dolly Mixture, the arty obtuseness of Wire, the irreverence of the Fall and humor of the Intelligence onto their debut album. This, in my book, is the perfect elixir.
stream: Universe People – Druids
Sean Nelson – Make Good Choices (Really Records)
In a year where major web sites seemed to publish Morrissey’s every move, former Harvey Danger Sean Nelson released his debut solo album that was as literate, sharp and self-deprecating as anything the Mozzer has done in the last 20 years. Throw in some cocktail jazz and some Zombies psychedelia and you have a pretty darn good album.
stream: Sean Nelson – Creative Differences
Dreamsalon – Thirteen Nights (Captcha)
Formerly known as Evening Meetings, the rechristened Dreamsalon tighten things up a little on Thirteen nights and aren’t afraid to let the hooks fly. Post-punk dourness that is part moody Echo and the Bunnymen and part piss and vinegar of the Fall through the lens of Seattle punk cognoscenti.
stream: Dreamsalon – In the Air
Trevor Dickson – Summer Legs (Swoon)
One of only two EP’s in this list of records, but well worth checking out. Trevor Dickson is in the Nightgowns, but here he takes a dash of Sinatra, some Joao Gilberto and some northwest ingenuity to come up with Summer Legs, one of the best songs I heard this year.
stream: Trevor Dickson – Summer Legs
La Luz – It’s Alive (Hardly Art)
Four girls from a city with barely a hint of sunshine and marginal wave action d make a timeless glassy sounding surf record. They sound like they’ve been doing this for ages. The guitars shoot the curl and the harmonies flash off the water like rays of sun in your ears.
stream: La Luz – Big Big Blood
Wimps – Repeat (End of Time)
The debut album from Wimps gives me the impression that they’re punk classicists. Repeat is the classic punk formula of guitar, bass and drum and a healthy sense of humor courtesy of Rachel Ratner’s knack for being able to make life’s disappointments still sound disappointing, but with in an irreverent humorous slant.
stream: Wimps – Slept in Late
Boat – Pretend To Be Brave (Magic Marker)
Sometimes when a band consistently releases great albums filled with hooky pop people start taking them for granted. Pretend To Be Brave is their fifth album of slightly fractured, eternally hopeful indiepop. BOAT continue to capture my imagination, I wish more people would allow themselves to be swept up into their brightly colored superhero world.
stream: BOAT – Interstellar Helen Keller
Purrs – The Boy With Astronaut Eyes (Fin)
The Purrs deliver again with another hallucinogenic masterpiece. Guitars swoop and dive in and out while singer and bassist Jima takes you on a ride in a derailed monorail to some seedy interstellar locale. The perfect soundtrack to navigating globular clusters.
stream: Purrs – Over and Out
Math and Physics Club – Our Hearts Beat Out Loud (Matinée)
Math and Physics Club have certainly been called twee, but on their third album they veer more towards soft rock and that is no bad thing. Kids these days have a penchant for Paul Simon and Cat Stevens records, and MAPC with their sweet and tender songs evoke those fellows while still keeping their indiepop/twee roots intact.
stream: Math & Physics Club – We Won’t Keep Secrets
Chastity Belt – No Regerts (Help Yourself)
Chastity Belt shocked the internet with their band photo that featured singer Julia Shapiro wearing a steak locked over her crotch. Based on last year’s Ponytail single, we already knew that they could be insolent and funny, but could they deliver a full album that sustained that brashness? Chastity Belt seem to not give a shit about anything except making good record,s and they’ve succeeded at that. Fuck everything else.
stream: Chastity Belt – James Dean
Jetman Jet Team – We Will Live The Space Age (Saint Marie)
Erik Blood better watch out, because Jetman Jet Team are coming up fast in his rear view mirror to try and usurp his shoegaze king of Seattle crown. Heavy MBVisms abound, but they also incorporate some of the whiteout techniques of Flying Saucer Attack and even some of that smoke and mirrors hypnotism employed often in 1970′s Germany. This is mind-expanding,tremelo bending, psychotropic miasma.
stream: Jetman Jet Team – Deep Space
Neighbors – I Love Neighbors (Self-released)
Poor Neighbors. This was scheduled to come out as a 10″ EP on Manic Pop Records, but the release date unfortunately coincided with the implosion of their record label. Left to their own devices, the band released this as bandcamp virtual record. That’s unfortunate because my record player would have gotten a real thrill playing this record which takes Pavement, REM, Camper Van Beethoven and the Wedding Present throws it into a blender and comes up with best smoothie I ever had.
stream: Neighbors – What You See In Me
We Are Loud Whispers – Suchness (Hardly Art)
Sonya Wescott who you may remember as half of Arthur and Yu made a trans-Pacific album with Ayumu Haitani who resides in Japan. While the obvious parallel is the Postal Service and the electronic blips reinforce that parallel, We Are Loud Whispers are more ear tickling and anthemic. I get the feeling that they’ve got a few Field Mice and St. Etienne records on top of owning everything that Morr records has ever released. Subtle and sublime.
stream: We Are Loud Whispers – Western Town