You might remember Pesaro, Italy’s Brothers In Law released their first single around this time last year. The band are back and set to follow up that stellar piece of pop with their first album, Hard Times for Dreamers to be released on 30 January on WWNBB and CF-records. The first single from the album is called Leave Me (Shadow II). It’s a darting guitar laden slice of perfection that hits the heights that the Kitchens of Distinction and House of Love use to routinely inhabit. Have a gander above at the video for the song which was filmed by Ryan Ohm.
The guys are planning to be at SXSW in March and are asking for a little help with funds to get there. If you are flush with cash and dig great crashing guitar dreampop then head over to their site and send them a little donation. Every little bit helps and you can pick up a nice parting gift as well.
Every 20 years comes the nostalgia. So the 90’s wayback machine seems to kicking into full throttle this year with too many bands to name looking back on that decade for inspiration. Swedes by way of the UK with an Italian name Francobollo have got their slacker poses pretty well perfected at this very early stage of their career. How early? Cassettes and CD-R’s early, but they’ve got a handful of songs that take some of the weirdness of Braniac and Beck, pave it over with slackness add some of their own Euro eccentricities and come up with newly minted lovable weirdness. I say weird, but in this day and age, it takes quite a lot to be weird. Francobollo are more like your geeky, off-beat little brother who has come up with something to match.
I remember the first time I saw the Lucksmiths live. I was living in Washington, DC and the band was over playing their first ever DC show. It was at the Galaxy Hut in Arlington, a tiny bar where they clear away a few tables to allow bands to play when they have bands. It was around the time of A Good Kind of Nervous, their third album and the first one to be released here. I also remember they had a new single they were selling too, their first single for Matinée, the Untidy Towns 7″.
Not sure what to expect, I had dragged my girlfriend, my sister and her boyfriend along to the show anyway. I don’t remember if the place was packed, but it was pretty full, and with people who may or may not have been fans of the band. The Lucksmiths proved to be charming fellows as I recall and their jovial infectious songs and personalities easily engulfed the tiny room. Tali sang and played drums standing up and with brushes!? Marty played his guitar like he was in the Wedding Present and Mark’s bass playing had a groove and adroitness to it that belied their twee songs. Marty was the main songwriter and he had a clever way with words that could bring the mundane to life. I hopped aboard the Lucksmiths train that night and never got off.
I had the opportunity to see them play and few more times over the years but I was still kind of bummed they never made it back to the States for a farewell tour after announcing that they were calling it a day. As a farewell to everyone that couldn’t make it to their farewell shows the band have released a DVD of their final show at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne. It features a cover painted by Mark Monnone, 30 plus songs few special guests and top quality sound. The DVD also contains a short film that follows the band on their run-up to their last shows and final recording session. So if you missed those final shows, or have been a fan but never had the opportunity to see them live, it is your good fortune that the Lucksmiths are not camera shy. So, darling roll the window down, come round if you’re not too busy and get your copy today from Matinée here in the States or Lost and Lonesome in Australia.
Seattle’s Webelos have just released their first album, Shadow Seasons. It’s a quirky little critter that took a few plays to make an impact, but since that awkward first meetin Shadow Seasons and I have become quite comfortable with one another. Webelos sound like they could have been on Teenbeat back in the 90’s when Unrest and Eggs were around. The record is half instrumentals, that the band really let loose on, creating little groovy numbers that are perfect for a little two-step in the kitchen. They incorporate a vaguely TeenBeat/Factory groove with their tightly wound rhythms while at the same time maintaining an element of nerdiness to their songs that at times reminds me of the Monochrome Set. This record is total fun in a music geek kind of way (they have a song called Yo La Mango), but even if you’re not one of those, the Webelos’ Shadow Seasons has way about it that could thaw the coldest of hearts and at the very least will put a bounce in your step as you walk over the frozen tundra. Scouts honor!
The Babies at the Funhouse, Seattle | 5 January 2011
So the Vivian Girls broke up right? I know they haven’t but at this point it almost seems like a foregon conclusion. Usually when a band calls it quits and they start individual projects you hope that each of the new bands will be equal to or greater than the original band. That never seems to happen, but with the Vivian Girls that definitely seems to be the case. The evidence so far: Frankie Rose‘s album from last year was excellent. Katy Goodman’s La Sera project put out a winning single and Cassie Ramone’s new band the Babieshad two great singles and now they’ve got an album waiting in the wings due on the Shrimper label early next month.
Wednesday night at the Funhouse the Babies brought their Appalachian tinged indiepop to town. The Babies are fronted by Ramone and Kevin Morby who plays bass in Woods. They both play guitar and share vocal duties. Ramone’s singing showed a confidence that is somewhat lacking in Vivian Girls. In fact she sounded downright inspired and her version of the woman down a holler belting out songs may be one of my favorite parts of the Babies’ songs. The other favorite part was Morby’s guitar playing. His adept picking style added to the rollicking mountain sound the band have.
Songs like Meet Me In the City and Breakin’ the Law were unabashedly fun and evoked something between Lee & Nancy and Kenny & Dolly and John & Exene. The duo were backed with a more than adequate rhythm section that included Justin Sullivan on drums (he played with Ramone in Bossy) and the Funhouse soundsystem must have had its tubes cleaned out over the holidays because it all sounded really good. Don’t let the country and Appalachian references scare you off, the Babies have their feet firmly planted in rock even though Ramone has temporarily foresaken girl groups and C-86. This collaboration between members of Woods and Vivian Girls teeters slightly more towards Woods territory and is all the better for it.
01/07 Reno, NV – Holland Show Space
01/08 Sacramento, CA – TBA
01/09 San Francisco, CA – The Hemlock
01/10 Oakland, CA – TBA
01/13 Los Angeles, CA – The Women House
01/14 Los Angeles, CA – The Smell
01/15 San Diego, CA Tin Can Ale House
I was kind of surprised at how blown away I was by Weekend last Saturday at the Vera Project even with technical difficulties (a blown fuse in the guitar amp) near the end of their set. The San Francisco band’s Slumberland debut hit the streets this week and they were in town supporting fellow label mates the Pains of Being Pure At Heart. There’s something about their waves of cacophonous noise that drill into a sweet spot in my brain. They have this uncanny ability to bury the melodies of their songs just deep enough to where you can barely hear them. You tend to hear the chorus and then the verse disappears down into the depths as each song seems to ebb a flow along the undercurrent of noise they create. Only a three piece, they are easily more than the sum of their parts with the bassist slightly nudging out the guitarists in the effects pedals category. Hope they decided to come back to Seattle soon.
It’s called Sports and it, umm sports the afore mentioned psychotic miasmic melodrama akin to the feedback soaked melodies of Psychocandy era Mary Chain, the hazy juggernaught of Swervedriver, the barrage of Bailter Space, the noisy syncopations of the Pale Saints, the basscentric uproar of Lorelei and goth tinge of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry. If that’s your thing then Weekend are your thing. Here’s their mining disaster song. Wonder if they’d consider covering the Bee Gees’ New York Mining Disaster 1941?
Allo Darlin’, Math & Physics Club, Special Places at Jewelbox Theater, Seattle | 29 October 2010
If there is a more perfect place than the tiny Jewelbox Theater to enjoy the precious pop of the likes of London’s Allo Darlin’ and Seattle’s Math & Physics Club and Perfect Places it likely only exists in my imagination or some storybook. After providing the secret knock to the theater door I entered into a Seattle’s small but familial indiepop world. Allo Darlin were a long way from home and I can only imagine here because of the enthusiasm of Three Imaginary Girls who booked the sold out show.
Allo Darlin’s album on Fortuna Pop came out earlier this year. It was recorded in the basement of the Duke of Uke shop in London, where people like Darren Haymen, and the Wave Pictures like to hang out and a place where Allo Darlin singer and ukulele player Elizabeth Morris probably had her choice of ukuleles to play while recording. Morris started off the set solo with a new song she called Talulah, that contained a line about listening to that Go-Betweens album on cassette. Usually I would assume that a song with an obscure reference to a Go-Betweens album would be lost on the audience, but I think it’s safe to assume that everyone in the room got it. The song was about as gentle and tender Allo Darlin would be this night.
The rest of the band then joined her on stage for what they referred to a slow-burn of a set. A slow burn according to the band is gradually turning up the heat as the night goes on. Their self-titled album on Fortuana Pop is fun and similar to Camera Obscura, but where Camera Obscura are stiff and standoffish on stage Allo Darlin’ are the types to put their arms around your shoulders and pogo with you until you’re out of breath. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bass player jump so high and still keep a beat as Mr. Bill Botting did. A good thing the place had a high roof because He and Morrise would get in sync on their jumping nearly every song and their verticals had to be about one and half to two feet. The band were definitely having a good time and everyone there to see them couldn’t help but have a good time too. Songs like Kiss Your Lips and If Loneliness Was Art raged full on almost making you question their twee roots. On the Polaroid Song they snuck in the chorus to the Bangles‘ Walk Like an Egyptian to everyone’s delight and the band’s as well as they were all grinning ear to ear. It was infectious, even after they left the stage and denied us of an encore, I couldn’t seem to wipe the giant grin from my face.
Hometown boys Math & Physics Club must have drawn the short straw back stage having to follow Allo Darlin, but their sublime understated set was a delight. This was the first chance that I got to hear the new songs from their second album I Shouldn’t Look As Good As I Do live. Maybe I pay more attention to guitars these days, but I don’t remember them sporting Rickenbackers. Both James and Charles had shiny and shimmering ones and they looked as good as they sounded. Another thing I noticed that I had either forgotten or never picked up on was how meaty and bouncy the bass lines were. Before the final song when Ethan Jones and James Werle switched instruments, Jones noted as he picked up Werle’s guitar how his kid brother’s friend said to him when he found out Jones was in Math and Physics Club how his favorite MAPC bass line was for the one song he didn’t play bass. I was hoping that they would have come back out with Allo Darlin for a rousing rendition of We’re So DIY with Elizabeth Morris singing the Ya, oh ya’s while Tullycraft were in the audience. No such luck. No encores from Math and Physics Club either, but I counted myself fortunate having seen them as their appearances around town are all too rare.
I shouldn’t complain, half of Tullycraft, Jenny & Cori opened the show as the Special Places. Jenny was sporting a newly acquired accordion which she said she just learned to play a few days before. The keys had stickers on them to remind her where to put her fingers as Cori pointed out after a false start. Their set was totally DIY and off the cuff, but their acoustic songs felt like a breath of fresh air wafting through the the tiny theater.
X and A Frames at the Funhouse, Seattle | 21 May 2010
The A Frames came out of their self-imposed hiatus, hibernation, AFCGT detour, or whatever you want to call it, and have regrouped sort of. Singer and guitarist Erin Sullivan, and bassist Min Yee are back but original drummer Lars Finberg is missing (actually he’s kind of busy with the Intelligence). Tommy Northcut replaced Finberg when he left the band to concentrate on the Intelligence after Black Forest, the third A Frames album. Northcut has been the drummer since, fits the A Frames genotype and is so good that you don’t really miss Finberg. On record, A Frames can come across heavy, dense, doom laden, and a bit sterile at times. Live, the blood pulses through the veins in Sullivan’s forehead as he grits the words through his teeth. He’s an imposing figure on stage, with his robot gray Rickenbacker and bleak subject matter, but the Funhouse was filled with too many friends this night for anyone to walk away thinking that the A Frames are all gloom and doom.
The band bantered back and forth with the audience, throwing out dedications, graciously accepting drinks and generally appearing to have a blast. The barren and bleak gave way to a more human and organic sound. Sullivan’s vocals were warmer sounding and Yee’s bass at times sounded like a Mack truck while at others as nimble as deer. Songs like Hostage Crisis, Nuclear, and Test Tube Baby showed their punk roots, slow burners like Abstract and Surveillance showed more of a looser side to the band and Calculate was just downright poppy. At times you could hear dub like sounds or surf guitar riffs that the band were careful to obscure in the darkness of their laboratory. I never had the opportunity to see A Frames in their heyday, I blame it on circumstance and ignorance, but after Friday’s gig at the Funhouse, my regrets of missing them the first time around were allayed by the tight white-hot set the played. The place was packed, and Seattle, or at least this subset of Seattle was glad to have them back.
Old (and I do mean old) Australian punks X were the headliners this night, but their set seemed uninspired. Admittedly I was never really a fan, but they didn’t do much to change my mind. They looked and sounded their age. The bassist played with his skull shirt wide open displaying his sixty-year old flab while guzzling beer from girls in the audience. Antics like that probably go over great on the Vans tours where 20 year old bands play to 20 year old punters, but this kind of display wasn’t going to win over a sober jaded old guy like myself.
The triple album 333 will be out soon on S-S Records, or go to one of these west coast tour dates to procure your copy:
05.20 Olympia @ Northern w/ Gun Out
05.21 Seattle @ the Funhouse w/ Walls
05.22 Portland @ Slabtown w/ the Estranged, Arctic Flowers
05.23 Davis @ KDVS’s Operation: Restore Maximum Freedom IX Fest
05.24 San Francisco @ the Hemlock w/ Hank IV
05.25 Los Angeles @ the Five Star Bar w/ the Lamps
05.28* Austin @ Chaos in Tejas Fest w/ the Ponys, Woven Bones, etc.
05.29 Denton @ Rubber Gloves w/ Video
05.30 Las Cruces @ the Trainyard w/ Far Corners, Real Blood
05.31 Phoenix @ the Rhythm Room w/ Earthmen & Strangers, Pigeon Religion
06.01 San Diego @ the Soda Bar w/ Christmas Island
06.02 Long Beach @ Alex’s Bar w/ Audacity
06.03* Los Angeles @ the Smell w/ Wounded Lion, Dunes
06.04 San Francisco @ the Bottom of the Hill w/ the Mantles
06.05 Oakland @ the Stork Club
I don’t normally post video’s, but this is worth watching. Wes Anderson is an obvious point of reference, but Anderson hasn’t made anything this funny since Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. It’s directed by Carlos Lopez of the Shackles with cameos by a bunch of the Seattle underground. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Butts and their Panty Exchange Video.
Sometimes it takes me a while to get the message, but I like to think that after a while I smart enough to figure it out, with a littlehelp of course. It’s 2009, but Sourpatch sound so much like 1992 SpinArt/Slumberland that it’s kind of freaky. Think I’m kidding? Take a listen and tell me you don’t hear parts Lorelei, Velocity Girl, the Swirlies and a little bit of Small Factory and Tiger Trap for good measure from this San Jose, California band. To date they have a self-released demo, a free EP courtesy of WIAIWYA’s virtual singles series and an awesomely fun video which you can see below. This flying below the radar thing is all about to change because Athens, Georgia’s Happy Happy Birthday To Me will be releasing the band’s first album early next year. If you take a look at you calendar, that’s not too far off.