Tags: Erik Blood, High Dive, Hungry Pines, OCNotes, Shabazz Palaces, Turn-Ons, Vox Mod
Erik Blood at the High Dive, Seattle | 30 April 2016
Way back in 2008 two notable Seattle bands broke up. After four albums the Turn-Ons who were a top notch shoegaze band well ahead of the shoegaze revival released their final album Curse. The other band, the Hungry Pines released their only album that same year. It had some great guitar drenched songs and tons of potential. Erik Blood was a member of the Turn-Ons and he went on to release the under-appreciated and under-heard the Way We Live the following year. Irene Barber of Hungry Pines formed a new band XVII Eyes. Then in 2013 they both sang on Vox Mod‘s SYN-ÆSTHETIC and the following year Barber again contributed vocals to follow up The Great Oscillator. The results were astounding as you can hear on the track Flight of Fancy.
Erik Blood’s new album Lost In Slow Motion picks up where Flight of Fancy left off. It is an Erik Blood album, but Barber is so woven into the grooves of this album they could call themselves a duo. With Barber in the fold Blood has taken the shoegaze of his earlier records and added even more ethereal elements that are reminiscent of 1980’s 4AD to create his most fully realized album yet. Similar to one of those French producer geniuses like Bertrand Brugalat or Hector Zazou, Blood lets his collaborators take the spotlight. Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces and OCnotes provide vocals on a track each and Barber is featured throughout.
Saturday night at the High Dive in Fremont was the record release show for Lost In Slow Motion. On the album cover Blood is dressed in a black coat, hat and mask and Barber has the top half of her face painted red and the bottom white. Taking wardrobe inspiration from V for Vendetta, Seattle’s Ohnonos and Reykjavik’s Bjork, the duo emerged onto the stage dressed identically to the album cover. It was a stunning entrance as they were joined by OCNotes who sings the album closer and highlight Out This Way. Blood painted a Prince symbol on the projection screen at the back of the stage and then played the entire record with the exception of the Butler track. It was choreographed with a laptop as their backing band, but it didn’t take a way from the performance. Though Barber and Blood were eye catching and even their dance moves were tight, it was the music that was the most gripping. The guazy bed of strings and electronic sounds provided lush support for their guitars. The performance was more evidence of the Blood’s newfound well of ideas and felt like a natural extension of both the music and art of the brilliant Lost In Slow Motion album.
Tags: Bentcousin, Donna Summer, Kirsty MacColl, Orange Juice, Shangri-Las, St. Etienne
Bentcousin are a brother-sister (twins actually) duo Pat and Amelia who seem way to young to remember St. Etienne, Orange Juice and Kirsty MacColl but ably bring all three to mind on their self-titled debut LP. Their songs are full of spunk, spite and wayward coolness. The siblings seem like they were born to be pop stars. They write smart pop songs that swagger and swoon.
Their cover of Dinosaur Jr‘s Freak Scene is so original it barely sounds like a cover. In fact I bet if you heard it somewhere not knowing it was a cover you’d be hard pressed to recognize it. Elsewhere on the record Baby You’re My Jesus sounds like Vic Goddard getting together with the Shangri-Las recording at Edwin Collins‘ place. Rock & Roll Me wants to be Donna Summer baking a cake and leaving it out in the rain. Another highlight Uncertain has the tenderness and bravado of a Kirsty MacColl song and a great line about the Slits and the Go-Go’s.
For some this record might seem like it’s all over the place, but for any lover of pop music it will quickly endear itself. It happened to me and it’s now one of my favorite records of the year.
Bentcousin’s album is out on Team Love Records.
Tags: Field Music, School of Language, Seattle, The Crocodile, Week Of Wonders
Field Music at the Crocodile, Seattle | 29 March 2016
After six albums Sunderland, England’s Field Music finally made their Seattle debut Tuesday night at the Crocodile (though David Brewis played the Nectar Lounge back in 2008 with his School of Language). The band are often compared to XTC and Steely Dan, and could be accused of being a musician’s band. Meaning that you need to be a musician to appreciate them, and to be honest as I looked around the room that night it looked like I might be a minor and younger music nerd compared with many in the crowd. So this show was a long time coming for many Field Music fans, but well worth the wait
The Brewis brothers are supporting their latest and possibly best album yet Commontime which contains a new lightness of being that gives a new dimension to the band. They sound like they’re having more fun and of course there’s the added funk element. How much funk you ask, well Prince is a fan and the brothers have admitted to looking to both Beyoncé and Hall and Oats for inspiration. That was evident right from the start as the band blasted into the Noisy Days Are Over with its looping base. It was obvious that Field Music were here to have fun. It featured Peter on guitar and vocals and his brother David on drums. They would take turns on guitar and drums throughout the night. I kept changing my mind about which was the better drummer and which the better guitarist. Both of them seemed to in a jovial mood with lots of banter between songs and encouraging of hecklers. At one point they were invited to karaoke after the show, but declined saying they only did Michael Jackson BAD at karaoke.
Other highlights in the set included Disappointed and It’s a Good Thing from Commontime, Let’s Write a Book from Measure, If Only The Moon Were Up from their debut, and A House Is Not a Home from Tones of Town. It was a perfect combination of old and new in front of a truly appreciative audience. One of the best shows of the year to accompany one of its best albums.
The Quietus has an insightful interview with the Brewis brothers.
The setlist from the show:
The Noisy Days Are Over
Let’s Write A Book
Don’t You Want To Know What’s Wrong?
A House Is Not A Home
It’s A Good Thing
Who’ll Pay the Bills?
Them That Do Nothing
If Only The Moon Were Up
How Many More Times?
Just Like Everyone Else
(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing
Give It Lose It Take It
Tags: Boyracer, Emotional Response, Ginnels, Gold-Bears, Ladybug Transister, Love, Summer Cats, Superchunck, Tangible Excitement!, Teenage Fanclub, the Lucksmiths, Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls
I’m usually not a fan of split singles or split releases due to the strong possibility of having to pay twice as much for half of what I want, but if ever there was a split release that shoots a that theory to shit it is this Ginnels & Tangible Excitement! split 12″. Tangible Excitement! is Scott Stevens of Summer Cats, Stew Anderson of Boyracer and Mark Monnone of the Lucksmiths along with some help by the likes of Gary Olsen (Ladybug Transistor), James Hoare (Ultimate Painting/Veronica Falls) and Jeremy Underwood (Gold-Bears). It’s an all-star lineup with a performance to back up their stats. Opener Northland Food Court has a Love Forever Changes vibe to it courtesy of its Mexican tinged acoustic guitar riff and Olsen’s trumpet. It’s a stunner and worth the price of admission, but there’s more. Baby’s Seen This Scene Before has the sound of an indiepop classic and Effectively Wild is the almost Boyracer-like with it’s buzzy guitars knocking another one out of the park.
There’s no time to catch your breath unless your’re slow to the turntable to flip the record because the Ginnels side ain’t no minor league fare. Mark Chester is a prolific fellow who has a number of releases on cassette and recently a few on vinyl via Tenorio Cotobade. Here we get three great new Ginnels songs. Easier When I’m Gone has a chorus that is part Teenage Fanclub and part Superchunk and easily get’s stuck in your head. Whew! Reason To Be Helpful might just be my favorite Ginnels song yet with its thumping soulful bass, cool lazy guitar riff and super furry vibes. This is one split release you need to buy two of so you can file one under Ginnels and the other under Tangible Excitement!
Order up your copy (or copies) over at Emotional Response.
Tags: Beat Happening, Dischord, Electrelane, HHBTM, Pixies, Sleater-Kinney, Soft Power, Th' Faith Healers, Wire, Witching Waves
Full of buzzing noisy guitars that trace their lineage back through a jagged line connected by th’ Faith Healers, Pixies and Wire, Wichting Waves second album Crystal Cafe is sure to of interest for folks who like noise rock with gashes of melody and ambient interludes. The band have professed a love of Sleater-Kinney, Dischord Records and Beat Happening and there is certainly a DIY aesthetic to their music. It’s raw sounding but their talent shines and rounds a lot of the rougher edges. Opener Twister features a swirling riff and Emma Wigham singing. Seeing Double switches to Mark Jasper singing /shouting. Back and forth it goes at a herky-jerky pace with a couple instrumental interludes that give you some time take stock and reflect right in the middle of the maelstrom.
If Kurt Cobain were still alive I could see him championing Witching Waves either by sporting a WW t-shirt or mentioning them in passing during an interview. As it is, they’ll have to rely on a few blogs and the digital underground to pass the word on about how great this is.
Tags: Australia, Jonathan Richman, The Feelies, The Go-Betweens, The Goon Sax, the Lucksmiths, The Pastels
In Australia a goon sack is the membrane inside box wine. Box wine not having the reputation for quality, gets purchased not to be appreciated, but to get wasted and conveniently after you’ve drank it all the sack can be used as pillow. The Goon Sax are a Brisbane trio of underagers that probably have to get their older friends to buy box wine for them or maybe they get paid for gigs in box wine.
Funny in-joke name aside, the band have some other qualifications like their songs and Robert Forster’s son Louis is a member. He and his buddies James Harrison and Riley Jones may be young in years, but they make a sublime catchy racket that belies their age. Obviously fans of Jonathan Richman, the Lucksmiths, Feelies and the Pastels the Goon Sax debut album is full of jangly fun that could only be created by a bunch of kids young enough not to know better. In a few years they’ll probably be too self-conscious to write songs about getting a haircut to look like Roger McGuin, Edwyn Collins and David Byrne or worrying about holding sweaty hands.
Knowing that the progeny of a Go-Between is in the band will have you comparing a song like Susan with Karen or Lee Remick, and you’re sure to find some similarities. After that’s caught your attention though, the Goon Sax have more than enough qualities that set them on their own path like their sweet naivety, Harrison’s touching little anecdotes that are part Jonathan Richman and part Paul Kelly, and their ability to write a chorus that will stick with you long after you’ve taken off your headphones.
The Goon Sax Up To Anything is out on Chapter Music in Australia.
Tags: Number One Cup, Pavement, Seam, Seattle, Swell Maps, Versing, Wire, Youth Riot Records
Versing blasted their way into my life early last summer at the Sunset in Ballard. Their Wire meets Pavement, meets Number One Cup meets Seam meets Swell Maps elixir is a combination often tried but rarely done well enough to actually contribute to the plot line. Right out of the gate Versing have written a new chapter to the story. Protagonists in their story include jagged guitars rumbling bass and choruses that have you hoping for a quick sequel. Nude Descending is their seven song debut EP that blazes a trail through the boredom inducing clutter of today’s new bands who just merely play music.
Tags: Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas, SmartGuy Records, Total Control, Velvet Underground
SmartGuy records, the ones who brought you singles by Total Control, the Boomgates and Rat Columns have a new single. Leon Stackpole of Ooga Booga‘s fame using just plain old Leon has just released a four song 7-inch.
The Ooga Booga’s were some weird combination of garage, kraut and disco, but here Leon strikes out down a more pastoral introspective road. Where the Ooga Booga’s sounded like a party band, Leon’s new four song EP is like the comedown. He gets some help on guitar from Ooga Booga’s cohort Mickey Young. All four songs have a Velvet Underground feel to them. Angry Again is dissonant VU, Sentimental Stranger is the sleepy Sunday morning country VU and Eat Sleep and Spy is the pop single buried in the rough. Quality stuff!
Tags: Dreamin' Wild, Hopkirk & Lee, Jim Sullivan, Moontown Records, Moose, The Clientele
Melbourne, Australia’s Dreamin’ Wild take some of the bohemian elegance of Jim Sullivan, the mysterious delight of Hopkirk and Lee, the shimmering lugubriousness of the Clientele and the playful beauty of Moose and combine it into one of this year’s great seven inch singles. Doncaster Shadow has a timeless quality about it that you don’t hear too often anymore. They could break up and disappear tomorrow and would have accomplished more than most bands do in a lifetime. Such is the wonder of making just one brilliant single.
Tags: Barrington, Cathys, Contrast, Diet Cig, Gooch Palms, Lime Crush, Moon Types, No Ditching, Ras G, Slum of Legs, Terry
1. No Ditching – Inseparable (Art For Blind)
This five piece have attitude and hooks in spades. Their Inseparabel single is a DIY pop – punk masterpiece in the mold of Bratmobile, Siddeleys, The Razorcuts and Talulah Gosh.
2. Lime Crush – Graveyard (Fettkakao)
Vienna, Austria’s Lime Crush’s debut single was raw punk brilliance.
3. Gooch Palms – Trackside Daze (Urinal Cake)
Australia’s Gooch Palms channel the Ramones and Beach Boys into the number three single of the year.
4. Diet Cig – Sleep Talk (Father/Daughter)
If Small Factory’s Alex Kemp is not the Diet Cig’s spiritual guide then I’m getting senile.
Sidewalk was a swirling hypnotic slice of perfection.
6. Slum of Legs – Doll Like (Tuff Enuff)
The violin riff evoked the Velvet Underground without aping the VU on this excellent second single from Brighton’s Slum of Legs.
7. Ras G – Other Worlds (iNSect)
Brilliant dub madness from Los Angeles’ Ras G.
Former Clor front man Barry Dobbin took his time after Clor ended, but Feverhead was worth the wait.
9. Terry – Talk About Terry (Upset the Rhythm)
Tally ho to this excellent single!
10. Moon Types – Know the Reason (Jigsaw)
Sweden’s Moon Types employ some country, some psych and some pop which are the basic ingredients of many great singles.
11. Cathys – Hysterical Monument (Self-Released)
Sydney band the Cathy’s employing late period Felt to brilliant pop effect.
The Suburban Homes – Conformity In the U.K. (Total Punk)
Lowtide – Julia (Lost & Lonesome)
Bruising – Emo Friends (Beech Coma)
First Base – You’ve Got a Hold On Me (Hosehead)
Foam On The Daydream – Cloe’s Lung (FreakScene)
The Noble Krell – The Velvet You (13 O’clock)
The Death of Pop – Gardens (Too Pure)
Patois Counselors – Clean Skits (Negative Jazz)
Dear Tracks – Wildflower (Track & Field)
The Fallen Leaves – Out In a Forest (Market Square)
The Ghost Ease – Quit Yer Job (Cabin Games)
Les Chausettes – Kate (Punk Fox)
Destiny 3000 – Go Away (RIP Society)
The Young Sinclairs – Change Your Mind (13 O’clock)
Night Flowers – Slee (Dirty Bingo)