Catching Chook Race While They’re Around the USA

October 16, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Australia, Jangle, Music, Seattle, Shows | Leave a comment
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Taking on America with an extensive 25 date tour is ambitious for any band, but when you’re Chook Race, a little known three piece jangle pop band from Melbourne, Australia it’s downright impressive (and maybe a little insane). The band made its way into Seattle Wednesday night to play the Victory Lounge, a bar with no stage in East Lake. This is one band I thought I would never see in Seattle, but after self-releasing their first album, Chicago label Trouble in Mind signed them making their second LP widely available in the United States as well as this tour a reality.

Singer and guitarist Matthew Liveriadis has a slight monotone delivery, but drummer Carolyn Hawkins provides a beautiful juxtaposition with her backing harmonies. The trio played an energized and jangly set inspired by the Bats and Close Lobsters mixing soon to be jangle pop classics from their first LP with ones of a slightly more classic pop sound from their new second album Around the House. In their short existence the band already have a stash of A-list songs and they didn’t leave any of them out including jangly diamonds like Dentist, Time, Sometimes and Hard to Clean and Older. The band’s tight sound and laid back attitude easily won over the likely already won over folks in attendance and made us all appreciate the long trip they had made to get here.


Like minded Seattlites Zebra Hunt opened for Chook Race with a set that consisted almost entirely of new songs (Half Right was the only old one). Apparently the new album is nearly ready and based on this evidence I would agree. One song really stood out with its Feelies-like crazy rhythm, even slowing down and then rebuilding itself into something quite raucous. Zebra Hunt has still got it!

In the Pink

October 15, 2014 at 10:29 am | Posted in Albums, Jangle, Music | Leave a comment
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Northern Ireland doesn’t have a west coast, so I can only imagine that Sea Pinks are left to conjure sunny wide open California scenes through their music. Top Pink, Neil Brogan was originally the drummer in Girls Names but left that band to concentrate on his band Sea Pinks. For good reason, as he seems to have an endless supply of lush, jangle filled songs in his head. Sea Pinks’ music has an affinity with the US west coast due to Brogan’s smooth tenor which evokes the lugubriousness of the Beach Boys, combined with the guitars cracking with the dusty jangle of the Byrds.

Brogan’s boyish tenor could make him an honorary Beach Boy. It’s smooth and easy on the ears, lending a sense of melancholy to these otherwise upbeat songs. The new album Dream Tracks, their fourth, is not drastically different from the previous three, but in little ways you can tell that Brogan is stretching out as a songwriter and open to incorporating a more varied pallet of sounds onto his records. The inclusion of cello on songs like Dream Happening and Invisible Lines provides more depth to the sound, while Meat and Drink employs a undulating Stereolab-like bass which adds something new to the jangly Sea Pinks cannon. These additional embellishments mesh easily with Brogans top songwriting talent to produce what may be the best Sea Pinks album yet.

stream and purchase: Sea Pinks – Dreaming Tracks

Expert Alterations’ Finely Tailored Jangle

April 22, 2014 at 8:46 pm | Posted in Cassettes, indiepop, Jangle | 2 Comments
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expert alterations

You can only buy so many reissues of the Monochrome Set, Close Lobsters and Josef K, until you feel like you’ve been cheated. Actually no one has ever seen fit to reissue a Close Lobsters album. What the heck? Obscure and influential, these bands seem to generate a lot of interest from record collectors, but there are very few current bands that I could link to any of those bands.  That was up until a few weeks ago when I read this @poolhoneys tweet, and now thanks to Baltimore, Maryland’s Expert Alterations I no longer have that problem.

Playful bass lines percolate to your ears while moody vocals and jangly guitars abound on their self-released cassette/bandcamp EP that deserves to be more than just a cassette/bandcamp EP.The EP is five songs. The first two tracks Venetian Blinds and A Bell display some superb Scottish influenced power jangle, while Midnight Gardens could be a distant relative of the Monochrome Set’s He’s Frank.

This trio also released a split cassette with the equally excellent Wildhoney for the this year’s Baltimore Popfest. Between these two acts alone,  Baltimore has an indie pop scene to envy!

stream: Expert Alterations – A Bell (from their self-titled Cassette)


November 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Jangle, Music, Powerpop, Singles | 1 Comment
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You might remember back in the mid 1980’s Pop Will Eat Itself asked What’s so fuckin’ good about candy? Nearly 30 years later Chicago’s Slushy make you forget about the Mary Chain with their own ode to Candy. Well you sort of forget. It’s jangly and sparse like that Scottish band’s acoustic ballads but has a muscle edge to it that also reminds you a little of the Ramones. Honestly how can you go wrong with a set of credentials like that. Flip the record to its B-side Pocket and they mine a more overt powerpop vein. Remember how the Ramones put leather jackets on the Beach Boys’ surf and sand and then the Mary Chain put a storm cloud of feedback on top of that? Slushy put a cherry on top.

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

Paisley Boys Go for the Velocity Girl

September 23, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Posted in Jangle, Music, Paisley, Paisley Underground | 3 Comments
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Los Angeles’ Dream Boys remind me of time not long ago when the first Tyde album came out. I was surprised how a band from Los Angles were able to sound like direct descendants of Felt. Back then when record stores were the only place you could buy music there was what’s called an import section and a certain American record buyers would search that section out because that was where all the best jangly pop stuff came from.

I doubt that Dream Boys peruse the import section of their local record store. Is there a record store these days that even has an import section? In fact you could argue that they don’t need an import section for their influences. Their own back yard is overflowing with potential inspirations. The Paisley Underground scene of the 80’s and of course the ground zero of everything that is jangle the Byrds. Dream Boys have two songwriters one favoring the UK flavor, the other seems to prefer the LA flavor. So you get the best of both worlds here.

Whether you dig the sounds of the Tyde, Bif Bang Pow, Long Ryders, the Bluebells, Close Lobsters, Felt, the Three O’clock or the Byrds there is something for you on this album. It will remind you of any of the above, or it may make you search out some of those bands to find out how Dream Boys got here. No matter the direction of your approach, this exceptional album will satisfy. Guaranteed!

stream: Dream Boys – Sworn (from the self-titled album out on Art Fag)
You can stream the entire album at Art Fag’s soundcloud page and check out the video for the song Born Yesterday below.

The Spires’ Wide Open Jangle

September 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Posted in Desert, Jangle, Music, Ocean | 1 Comment
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Ventura, California’s Spires know how to create space in the midst of jangle. Their latest album Eternal Yeahs is a unique melange of Byrds mixed with some Television, some Church, Tyde and a healthy dose of Flying Nun’s patented Dunedin sound. It’s a something uniquely influenced by the dust of the Southern California desert and the pacific rim. Wide open dusty spaces juxtaposed with the undulating horizon of the Pacific ocean.

A lot of jangly bands give a feeling of claustrophobia with their sound, but The Spires brand of jangle inspires feelings of wide openness. One song is a mouthful of dust from the desert and the next has you walking off of the desert sand into the ocean break. I think it must be related living on the pacific rim and having wide open spaces at one’s doorstep.

They kind of remind of Seattle’s Purrs. A west coast band that continues to put out quality albums and stay fairly close to home. They also similarly possess unquestionable knowledge of their musical roots combined with impeccable taste with the know how to employ an expert pace and sprinkle quality throughout a long player. s. Eternal Yeahs doesn’t blow iit all in its first three. It sustains over the course of of 40 unforgettable minutes and keeps a lasting glow.

You can get a digital download or order a CD of the new album via the Spires’ bandcamp page. If you’re into vinyl, I hear their is a petroleum version of the album on the way soon.

stream: The Spires – Live At The Ghost Park

Messis On the Go

May 22, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Posted in Jangle, Music, Paisley | 3 Comments
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A few of you probably remember the Pop Art Toasters, the one-off project where Martin Phillips and David Kilgour made an EP that showcased the brilliance of the DoversWest Coast Experimental Pop Art Band, the Who and the Squires. Paul Messis is an obvious fan of these bands, but instead of doing covers, he’s creating his own future classics.

Mr. Messis hails from Billingshurst, West Sussex, 2013 but he sounds like he’s from some time-warped 60’s town. Back then guitars jangled more brightly, harmonies mattered and a turntable was in every home. Case Closed is Messis’ s second solo album. He’s also a member of the Higher State, has released a slew of other singles, collaborated with the Sufis as the Market Squares and has a single he released with Jessica Winter. The guy is prolific with his 12 string jangliness, but the quality of Case Closed doesn’t lead you to believe he’s spreading himself too thinly.

Not only does the guy write tons of songs, but he has his own label as well. It’s called Market Square Records. The excellent Market Squares 7-inch was the label’s first release earlier this year and their next release is a 7-inch by Roanoke, Virgina’s Young Sinclairs who are every bit as jangly and Who-loving as Mr. Messis himself.

stream: Paul Messis – Cased Closed (available from Paul’s bandcamp page)



Boning Up On Austin’s Literature

January 8, 2012 at 11:47 am | Posted in Albums, Jangle, Music | Leave a comment
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Jangle-pop could be my Achilles’ heel, and Austin, Texas band Literature‘s new album is like an arrow to my foot.  You may remember their Cincinnati 7-inch single from 2010 which was three songs of the jangly stuff.  Arab Spring is their first full length and they are obviously up to the task of keeping your attention for the length of an album. Every one of its 10 songs is an adrenalin rush with pop hook. There are so many good ones, I’m partial to the hyper manic Push Up Bra and Criminal Kids and the slightly more restrained title track and Grifted.

They have some similarities with Voxtrot, another jangle-pop band from Austin from a few years ago, but I like Literature more because they’re less Morrissey and Belle & Sebastian and more McTells, Bluebells and Cause Co-motion. If you are a fan of records on Captured Tracks or Slumberland these days, definitively check out Literature. Their album is up as free download at their Bandcamp site. Expect a vinyl release of it in February on Square of Opposition/Austin Town Hall Records.

mp3: Literature – Arab Spring

More Literature: The video for It’s Cruel which appeared on the Cincinnati 7-inch is an homage to one of the best actors of our generation.


Let the Drummer Have Some: Sea Pinks

September 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Jangle, Music | Leave a comment
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Earlier this year Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Girls Names unleashed their scorcher of a debut album. Its bright pop sensibility broke through clouds of gray that you would expect to find from a band that makes the northern reaches of the island of Ireland their home. Its a moody little thing that takes the soaring vocal cues from 60’s girl groups while the music tends towards 80’s post punk. Shake the Boggle container and and the letters that formed Girls Names now read Sea Pinks. The whole band move one space to the left (or right). Drummer Neil Brogan moves out from behind his kit to play guitar and sing while bassist Clair Miskimmin takes his place at drums and Girls Names singer/guitarist Cathal Cully becomes the bassist.
Sea Pinks have just released their first album in a super limited way of only 250 copies. It follows a cassette and a 12″ ep. Sea Pinks are of course cut from the same cloth as Girls Names, but Brogan’s songs have more of a 50’s rock n’ roll bent to them. The song Dead Seas takes it’s cue from Elvis Presley‘s Marie’s the Name of His Latest Flame (and the Smiths‘ Rusholm Ruffians?) and Harbour Shake shimmies like a sock hop. His guitar playing is janglier too. I bet he’s listened to a few Byrds records because Fountain Tesserae jangles like it was 1967.  The record also has some swagger in Oh London, Heir Apparent. Both brim with an infectious confidence that has made this record continue to grow on me. Sea Pinks won’t change your life with their jangly goodness, but they will make your life more bearable when you spin their record.

mp3: Sea Pinks – Heir Apparent (from Dead Seas on CF/ Records)

You can also download Sea Pinks’ Youth is Wasted album/demo for free at their bandcamp (It contains a cover of Felt’s Ballad of the Band).

Northern Portrait

February 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Posted in indiepop, Jangle, mp3 | 2 Comments
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Are you feeling a little dirty from listening to too much garage, punk, and lo-fi?  Well come on in, wash your greasy hands, take off your overalls and come into the parlour where the fire crackles and the hi-fi hums.  Don’t be put off by the smooth sounds coming out of the speakers or the tea and crumpets.  Try to refrain from demanding a PBR and have a spot of tea and a listen to  Northern Portrait‘s new album Criminal Art Lovers.  The songs are all Rickenbacker fueled jangling beauties, and  Stefan Larsen with his smooth tenor croon sounds like he is half Morrissey and half Frank Reader (Trashcan Sinatras).

Dear reader you must know that one can’t live on adrenaline charged shouted choruses alone.  Even if you think that you don’t need it, one listen to Northern Portrait’s debut will slip you into billowy haze of feathers and cause you to daydream of picnics in fields of daisies, or bicycling on the beach at sundown (or maybe it’s the tea).  Your life may not be such that those kinds of things are common day occurrences, but surely a kid can dream can’t he?  How do you get to that daisy field, or sitting room with the crackling fire, or the breezy beach at sundown you may ask?  It’s quite simple actually, more tea and Northern Portrait’s new album can take you there.

mp3: Northern Portrait – Criminal Art Lovers (from Matinee album Criminal Art Lovers)

mp3: Northern Portrait – New Favourite Moment (from Matinee album Criminal Art Lovers)

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