When you think of bands from Halifax, Nova Scotia, if you don’t draw a blank, then you probably think of the 90’s grunge era bands like Sloan, Superfriendz and Thrush Hermit. You probably don’t think of jangly neo-psychedelic music and you most certainly wouldn’t think of bands like the Church, the Dylans, the Dentists, the Sneetches or Ultra Vivid Scene. Well, Monomyth are here to re-put Halifax on the map and change any previous ideas about what goes on up in the Canadian Maritime provinces.
The band have just released their debut album Saturnalia Regalia! on Mint records. It’s an accomplished record with great some great song featuring lush harmonies. The band features three songwriters in Seamus Dalton, Josh Salter, and Graeme Stewart, but they have a similar aesthetic and high quality which keeps the album engaging and interesting. Since this record arrived in the mail last week it’s been on constant rotation. Its bright songs and nods to obscure psychedelic bands without sounding too obvious make this one a keeper.
The Proper Ornaments have finally released a proper debut album. After last summer’s download only download only release on Lo which compiled their previous EP on No Pain in Pop,their debut single on Make a Mess, and some odds and ends the duo of James Hoare and Max Claps have employed Slumberland Records to issue their album Wooden Head. James Hoare who’s main band is Veronica Falls and also moonlights in the Ultimate Painting is a busy guy these days. For the Proper Ornaments he’s teamed up with Argentinian and one-time Andrew Loog Oldham protege Max Claps.
The duo met in a shop that Hoare was working at while Claps’s girlfriend attempted to steal a pair of boots. It’s amazing what a shared love of the Velvet Underground can overcome. Named after a Free Deign Song, they get a lot of comparisons to the Beach Boys, the Left Banke and Love. But if you ask my I think they sound like the Chills.
Wooden Head is nearly as good as their No Pain In Pop EP, but I don’t know if I think that because the EP had five astonishingly good good with no filler. It was easy to take in while Wooden Head is bigger and requires more time to consume. The record is astonishingly good, it just requires more time to your head around. Hoare and Claps sing in unison on nearly every song. Their melancholy, sparse psychedelic songs have a sing-song quality that makes them both comfortable and haunting at once. Each unassuming song buzzes into your ears to create endorphin rushes, but music being like a drug it takes more to recreate that initial high each time.
As the 7″ single seems to fade into the sunset, it’s nice to see some labels haven’t given up on the format. France’s Croque Macadam and Requiem Pour Un Twister are still believers and they’ve just released a couple beauties.
Psychedelic tricksters Forever Pavot are lead by Emile Sornin, based in Paris and have much in common with Jacco Gardner and Soundcarriers. Their first single is cinematic, bucolic psycheldia that rustles the leaves and bundles the hay and makes birds chirp all on a widescreen. It has great organ swirls and galloping bass that will have you seeing a kaleidoscope of dusty colors. It’s a wonderful record and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that a label like Trouble in Mind would be interested in putting out their next record over here in the States.
Cheap Riot are also from Paris, but their debut single is all about punks and mods. They owe a dept to the Television Personalities and the Buzzcocks. Part Time Vacancy has a great little riff and a pithy chorus that you can’t get out of your head. I also love the punky bridge with ooh-ooh’s. It’s a a fun record that should be required playing at any part, even a party of one.
After last year’s Plumes compilation caught us up on what the Ginnels had been up to over the course of their previous three albums, they are back with album number four, A Country Life. Plumes was a sublimely excellent collection of songs separating the wheat from the chaff. A Country Life is a richly stalked silo of brand new songs that leads me to believe there never was any chaff in the Ginnels catalog.
A Country Life paints a bucolic scene with its psychedelic, hazy, jangling songs. Previously Ginnels records were mostly Mark Chester solo affairs, but on A Country life he’s got some help on drums and guitar making this more of a band effort. To tell the truth it isn’t vastly different from before, which is ok since before was quite good. Songs like Woodlands and Car’s Parked and Honestly and Not What You Think are upbeat jangling affairs that are inviting and fun. The quieter, gentler ones like the Great Escape and Settle Down and Ashton Memorial are perfect for kicking up your feet after a long day in fields, or in front of the computer.
The Ginnels fourth album is pretty little thing. Recommended to fans of Elliot Smith, Apples in Stereo, early Divine Comedy, the Feelies and Teenage Fanclub with a good appreciation for tricks of the light and other subtleties of the countryside.
Quick, how many animals can you spot on the cover of Jacco Gardner’s Cabinet of Curiosities? I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time studying the cover of Jacco Gardner‘s debut album which came out on Trouble in Mind earlier this year while listening to it. Mind altering substances, be they Gardner’s songs or something else, help you find more creatures, some real and some imagined. The record is a sound & site to behold.
If you haven’t figured it out, Gardner is something of a Dutch Syd Barrett at least in song writing style, hopefully not in acid taking regiment. The album is good but since Gardner played and sang the entire thing except for the drums, it can sound a little canned at times. That is why I’m looking forward to his date at the Barboza (aka Neumo’s basement) this Wednesday night with a full band. The already good songs will undoubtedly break free of their earthly shackles and become wild animals in the night. Hiding in the trees like on the cover leaping out at you from where you hadn’t the faintest idea they were lurking. No other mind alter substances required.
You can pick up Cabinet of Curiosities and/or his brand new single The End of August from his label Trouble in Mind.
Wed. Oct. 9 – Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Thu. Oct. 10 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux
Sat. Oct. 12 – Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar
Tue. Oct.15 – Washington DC @ Black Cat Backstage
Wed. Oct 16 – Oct 19 – New York, NY @ CMJ
Mon. Oct. 21 – Montreal, QC @ Le Divan Orange
Tue. Oct. 22 – Toronto, ON @ The Garrison
Wed. Oct. 23 – Hamilton, ON @ This Ain’t Hollywood
Fri. Oct. 25 – Detroit, MI @ Garden Bowl
Sat. Oct. 26 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Sun. Oct. 27 – Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog
I loved Talbot Adams‘ single that came out on Douchemaster almost three years ago. It was an understated affair that had elements of Guided by Voices and Simon and Garfunkel. After the break-up up his garage rock/power pop band the Black and Whites, Adams decided to go completely solo, writing and recording everything himself. He also dialed down the volume and sweat a little and recorded a set of acoustic based psychedelic pop.
Space Case records has just released two more fruits of Adam’s solo effort that acts as kind of a travel log. The A-side Red Diamonds finds the singer traveling across Canada and reminiscing about secret spots he’s come across in the great white north. Not Even Europe goes to the old world rhyming the sights in verse as he attempts to forget a bad relationship. His phrasing and slightly English singing accent brings to mind the Moles’ Richard Davies. No doubt, this is classic pop on par with some of the greats.
If you are not the record buying type you can get an entire album of Talbot Adams’ songs called Weekend that contains both songs from his new single, a couple from his previous one and a few more over at his bandcamp page.
If you would have said to 20 year old me that I would someday think that a record made by a 60 year old guy was was one of the best records of the year I would have scoffed at you and said disdainfully that I don’t do old guy rock. Apparently age has made me wiser and more open minded because Robyn Hitchcock‘s latest album Love from London is one of his best, and one of the year’s best. You may have noticed that there are a lot of psychedelic-influenced records that have come out this year and many of them have been very good. So there is a lot of competition out there, but Hitchcock’s bests them all and shows us that old dudes can be weird and spry at the same time.
Hitchcock himself has been quoted as saying “Rock and Roll is an old man’s game now.” From the looks of the crowd at the Neptune Tuesday night, there are still a lot of old men in the game and doing quite well or at least still getting out. There were a few youngsters in the audience, but I’m including myself in the that group, so no one was too wet behind the ears.
Being a huge fan of his new record I was excited to hear the new songs live, but Hitchcock had other ideas. Love from London was recorded in England with his English band which is mainly Hitchcock and Paul Nobel. Playing in his band in Seattle he had the Venus 3 (Actually it was the Venus 4: Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Bill Rieflin and Sean Nelson) with him. I assume they did not know any of the new songs because the only new one they played was Be Still. This was kind of a disappointment considering the strength of the new material, especially Stupefied, Devil on a String and Strawberries Dress which all belong in the pantheon of Hitchcock strange great songs. I suppose given the size of his oeuvre, one song from the new album is a lot, since many of his records got none.
He began the evening with an acoustic guitar and Sean Nelson at his side. They did a couple acoustic songs and then the rest of the band joined in an electrified the songs. Hitchcock was dressed in paisley and his baritone trolled the depths and pleasures of psychedelia. You and Oblivion, Airscape, Goodnight Oslo were some more highlights of the set along with his off the wall banter that involved ants moving to Portland people with crustaceans for hands. He did a couple Soft Boys songs. Queen of Eyes sounded amazing with Nelson’s harmonies and Buck’s twelve string and Kingdom of Love featured McCaughey recreating that song’s amazing bass part. They encored with Barret, Beatles and the Velvet Underground. It served as a kind of a history lesson, or just a reminder of where he’s still coming from. A strange familiar place.
Set List: Alright, Yeah | You and Oblivion | No, I Don’t Remember Guildford | Goodnight Oslo | Queen of Eyes (The Soft Boys ) | City of Shame | Up to Our Nex | N.Y. Doll | Madonna of the Wasps | Underground Sun | Be Still | Adventure Rocket Ship | Airscape | Kingdom of Love (The Soft Boys ) | Encore: Long Gone (Syd Barrett) | She Said She Said (The Beatles) | Heroin (VU) | I’m Waiting for the Man (VU)