It’s February Already, What Happened?

February 8, 2017 at 10:20 pm | Posted in Music, Records | 2 Comments
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I must admit, I’ve been distracted of late. I’m sure you all have been as well to some extent. Sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to write about this great new song you’ve heard, because you realize how unimportant it is in the grand scheme of things. That doesn’t mean I don’t save them up, and it doesn’t mean that I have stopped listening to music. If anything I’ve listened to more music lately. It’s a distraction and provides escape, hope and pleasure. So here are a couple handfuls of records that have gotten me through the first month of 2017.

In the it came out in December, who releases a record in December category.

Uranium Club

Minneapolis smart ass punks released album number two at the end of 2016. Minutemen/Firehose genius combined with Devo hyperactive geekiness. Too weird to be cool for some but right up my alley.

In the I totally missed it category

Quantic & Flowering Inferno ft Hollie Cook

Hollie Cook has album number three on the docket for this year, but at the tail end of last year the brogues hipped me to this little number she did with Quantic & Flowering Inferno. So good!

Gurr

The album In My Head by this Berlin duo was on a few best of lists and for good reason. Great indie pop that reminds me a little of the Blake Babies and the Breeders.

In the 7-inch single is not dead and they even sell out category
Field Route

We are only one month in and Field Route have already released one of the best 7″ singles. Bring it on!

Creation Factory

Another classic sounding 7″. Yeah I know the 45 is on its deathbed, but quality over quantity is the rule of the day. I think both of these records are sold out, but each can be purchased as a download.

In the who releases a record this good in January category

Rose Elinor Dougall – Stellular

Former Pipette took six years to follow up her solo debut, but it is worth the wait.  It’s swirling blend of the Horrors, Goldfrapp and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Rose doesn’t look very goth, but she certainly leans in that direction ever so slightly.

Priests – Nothing Feels Natural

This record has two personas. The A-side is funk-punk that is a cross of Pylon and the Big Boys, the B-side is the post punk cool down that gets moody and melodic. Thankfully the band put an Interlude to divide things up for those of us who can’t always be in front of our turntables.

Proper Ornaments – Foxhole

Album number two from this trippy Velvet/Chills loving band. Not sure they’ve ever surpassed that first EP, but I love to hear them keep trying.

In the genre bending category

Group Doeh & Cheveu – Dakhla Sahara Session
French punk weirdos Cheveu team up with Western Sahara guitarslingers Group Doueh in an unlikely match. It’s crazy and out there and one of the best records I’ve heard this year.

In the buried treasure gets reissued category

workshy

Animals that Swim

Back in the day when you had to read about records and decode whether or not it was something you might want to spend money, I read a review of Animals That Swim debut album and decided to take a leap. I instantly fell in love with their quirky little songs that painted imaculate pictures in my head about the downtrodden, mundane and odd things in life. Pink Carnations, Madam Yvonde, How to Make a Chandalier are all essential. With this reissue you get the original album as well as genius b-sides and unreleased tracks to boot.

I think they might have finally broken the US as you can buy a copy of this reissue from Target, though I’m not sure I’d recommend it.

Kate Jackson Behind the Wheel Again

July 6, 2016 at 11:10 pm | Posted in Albums, Music, Records | Leave a comment
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katejackson
photo by David Emery

It’s been nearly eight years since Kate Jackson‘s former band Long Blondes broke up. After the breakup she started working on a new album with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler. Kate then went off to Rome to focus on painting, leaving the Butler collaboration in a vault or on a hard drive collecting dust. At some point, encouraged by her pals she realized that she should finish the album that she had started with Butler.

It’s hard to believe that she’s been hiding these songs away for so long. Most artists would want to share songs as amazing and immediate as Metropolis, Stranded, Wonder Feeling and 16 Years. Some of them have elements of the hard crushing Long Blondes, while other are have a glamorous and cinematic feel to them. You can certainly hear Butler’s deft touches on many songs (especially love his guitar solo on 16 years).

Kate is self-releasing British Road Movies on her record label Hoo Ha Records (nice Scent of a Woman reference). It seems to have received a fair amount of press in the UK, but I haven’t heard many folks over here in the US talking about it. They should because it’s as good as anything she’s done prior.

Wild for Wildhoney

March 19, 2015 at 9:22 pm | Posted in Music, Records, Shoegaze, Vinyl | Leave a comment
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wildhoney

Shoegaze bands are a dime a dozen these days which is something I never would have predicted 20 years ago. So the genre lost the battle but apparently won the war, but sometimes the victors get a little cocky. Originally a derogitory term, bands now brandish that tag willy nilly without sometimes knowing what they’re talking about. One of the first and foremost things about the OG shoegaze was that at its heart there were always great songs. It wasn’t just noise. It was verses and big choruses. Bands actually wrote songs first and then bent their tremelo bars around them, instead of many of today’s poseurs who bend their guitars around nothing much.

There was a method of songs first reverb second. Baltimore’s Wildhoney adhere to that tried and true approach. Their debut album Sleep Through It is one of the best albums to come out in the shoegaze genre (or any other genre for that matter) in a while. This quintet of youngsters lean in direction of the more ethereal regions, looking to the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. The influences may be easy to spot, but they take them and make something slightly different, brighter and alluring. Fall In and Molly belong on any best of shoegaze mix. Their two previous singles (Seventeen and a re-recorded Super Stupid) make welcome curtain calls as well. They even throw in an instrumental tribute to Flying Saucer Attack. These kids know how to deliver quality noise drenched pop with a sense of history and an ear for melody. Do not miss!

The album Sleep Through It is out in the US on Forward Records and everywhere else via Deranged Records.

Bittersweet Pocket Symphonies

August 12, 2014 at 9:37 pm | Posted in Music, Psychedelic Pop, Records | Leave a comment
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proper_ornaments_front-8104

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.

stream: The Proper Ornaments – Magazine (Wooden Head is out on Slumberland Records)

Beating a Dead Horse

May 20, 2014 at 8:35 am | Posted in Music, Records, Scenes, Seattle, Vinyl | Leave a comment
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Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. In the case of Posse, they decided to forego the process of trying to get signed to a record label and started their own. It’s called Beating a Dead Horse Records. The first album that the fledgling label put out was of course their own album. It’s called Soft Opening and it’s their second album. Actually Posse put out their own first record too , but that was two years ago, before BADH.

posse

Soft Opening is nearly perfect. While the trio is based in Seattle, they sound like the wide open dusty roads of the desert that lies on the other side of the Cascades. The songs have a lonely, melancholy and druggy feel to them similar to Acetone and Galaxie 500. The guitars seem to be inspired by Dean Wareham’s watery, lackadaisical sound while the playful boy-girl vocals create some healthy sexual tension. Both Paul Wittmann-Todd and Sacha Maxim play guitar and sing while Jon Salzman is solely relied upon to keep the beat. Posse keep things tight, putting only eight songs on the record. Maybe they thought keeping it short would circumvent short term attention spans in this internet age, but Posse are good enough that they could have snuck another one in and nobody would have hit the skip button.

stream: Posse – Interesting Thing No. 2 (from Soft Opening on BADH)

neighbors

For its second release BADH have just put out Neighbors third album Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? The record’s title made me get out my Raymond Carver books and reminded me of when Paul Kelley and the Messengers named So Much Water, So Close to Home after one of the well known Northwest author’s short stories. Neighbors write songs that straddle Pavement’s Range Life, REM’s Harborcoat and the Meat Puppets’ Up on the Sun. Like those bands, there is more to their sound than what is on the surface. Beneath the psychedelic, country sheen you can hear the influence of Gang of Four, Wire and the Wedding Present. The band smartly pulled the best tracks from last year’s tour only cassette Power Country and included them here. Muscle Girl on Muscle Beach which features some sweet guest vocals from Lexi Lee, and Hot Jack get things off to a rocking start. Muscle Beach . Newer songs Loretta and Heather have a twangy angular feel to them that hints at the band getting better and progressing into new territory. After cassette and download releases it’s nice to see that Neighbors have finally released an album on vinyl for posterity.

Beating a dead horse have a small catalog and don’t seem to be in a hurry to grow fast. It’s more of a means of documenting themselves and their friends. Sounds like a good business plan to me.

stream: Neighbors – Loretta (from Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? on BADH)

Read more about Posse and Neighbors front man José Díaz Rohena.

Mark Monnone and the Art of Cooking Alone

June 20, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Posted in Australia, Music, Records | Leave a comment
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monnone

Mark Monnone, former Lucksmiths bassist, who usually wrote a handful of songs for each Lucksmiths album, and sometimes provided his services to the genre-hopping Still Flyin‘ has just released his first solo album, beating his former Lucksmith mates to the record bins. He’s going by Monnone Alone, but really he’s not alone. Actually it’s quite crowded.

Together at Last was recorded over the course of a few years, and employs the help of number of notable players including Linton of the Aislers Set, Hamish Kilgour of the Clean and Mad Scene, Kyle Forester of Crystal Stilts, Ryan McPhun of Ruby Suns and Gary Olson of Ladybug Transistor. Some of the record was recorded in Olson’s bucolic sounding  studio Marlborough Farms which I understand is not a farm in the sense of growing food, but more like a basement lab growing music.

Monnone’s first solo album stays firmly in Lucksmiths territory, good songs, some slightly silly lyrics, a few serious lyrics and a general good time.  He also finds some new inspiration and stretches out a bit to ensure that it doesn’t sound like a total retread. Echoing Days has a distinct Felt sounding guitar lead. Sunset Video Project is a trans-like song that has some obvious German influences and on mildly funky Business World Monnone he kind of sounds  like Joe Strummer. Ricochet is pretty duet with Bec Rigby of the Harpoons and he includes an obscure indiepop cover, the Bartlebees‘ When You’re Happy You Won’t Understand.

The record will most definitely ease any pain Lucksmiths fans may still be having from there not being a Lucksmiths anymore. In fact anyone lamenting that band’s demise, need lament no longer because Monnone Alone is a record that will fill that empty space left by by the dissolution of his former band.

stream: Monnone Alone – The Westerly Whip (from Together At Last out on Lost and Lonesome)

You can read Mark’s track by track run down of his record over on Mess and Noise, and be sure to watch Mark as a rowboat captain in the video for the song the Business World.

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