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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chookrace

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.

zebrahunt

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!

A Belated List: Top 40 7-Inch Singles of 2014

January 11, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Posted in 7-inches, Lists, Music, Vinyl | Leave a comment
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If they keep putting them out, I’ll keep buying them and counting them down. Here’s my take on the 2014 singles scene. You don’t need eharmony to find a great single, just peruse this list.

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1. Wildhoney – Sixteen Forever (Photobooth)
Baltimore band’s second single is even better than their first. Effortlessly great shoegaze. Look out for their debut LP early in 2015.

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2. Charles Bradly & LaRose Jackson – Luv Jones (Daptone)
This one came out of nowhere and flew under most everyone’s radar. Charles Bradly and LaRose Jackson sound great together and the flip side has him sounding a bit like the Specials. A certified classic.

Primetime
3. Primetime – Tied Down (La Vida Es Un Mus Discos)
UK group influenced by Wire and Elastica, only they don’t steal riffs. Solid debut single that indicates greatness.

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4. Primitives – Spin-O-Rama (Elefant)
Classic 60’s inspired, sunny psychedelic single.The Primitives stormed back on the scene with this record.

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5. Giorgio Murderer – Primitive World (Goner)
Buck Biloxi’s alter ego obsessed with Star Trek. Insanely insane.

dayravies
6. Day Ravies – Hickford Whizz (Beko)

Day Ravies move beyond their shoegaze roots and move into full pop bloom.

bentcousin
7. Bent Cousin – Dizzy (Team Love)

Twins from Brighton mix a little bit of rap with indiepop. It shouldn’t work but of course it does since it’s right here at number seven.

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8. Gurgles – You Send Me Up (Saltaire)

Gurgles take Steely Dan and Prefab Sprout and turn it up so that it bleeds out of your headphones.

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9. Pang – Young Professionals (Grazer)

Bay area young professionals second single is glamorous sounding, jagged, Wire influenced brilliance.

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10. Primitive Parts – Open Heads (Sexbeat)

Members of Male Bonding and Sauna Youth, Primitive Parts excel in jangly power pop that reminds me of Modern Life Is Rubbish era Blur. Strong!

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11. Girl One and the Grease Guns – Bashed Beaten & Broken (Squirrel)

Alter egos of the Manhattan Love Suicides deal in old drum machines, synths and detached vocals with decided industrial slant.

suburbanhomes
12. Suburban Homes – The Suburban Home EP (Market Square)

Mysterious punks from the suburbs on written by Paul Messis and on Paul Messis’s label. Raw angry and very good.

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13. Close Lobsters – Kunstwerk in Spacetime (Shelflife)

The return of the Close Lobsters was a wonderful sound to behold.

courtneys
14. Courtneys – Mars Attacks (Hockey Dad)

The second single in this year’s countdown to feature a rap. Vancouver’s Courtneys follow up last years great debut with more of their good thing.

mantles
15. The Mantles – Memory (Slumberland)

The Mantles seem to be able to effortlessly write these dusty Byrdsian gems.

juniore
16. Juniore – La Fin Du Monde (Enterprise)

Suave, spaghetti-French pop that pulls in some Limiñanas along with a bit of Françoise Hardy.

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17. Crimson Wave – Say (Accidental Guest)

Former Wild Honey singer goes two for two with bands and singles. Her new band Crimson Wave is off to an auspicious start with this Scrawl influenced record.

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18. Flesh World – A Line In Wet Grass (Iron Lung)

Jess Scott, formerly of Brilliant Colors fronts Flesh World. A Line in the Wet Grass is a maelstrom with a pop song in the middle just struggling to escape.

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19. Slum of Legs – Begin To Dissolve (Tuff Enuff)

Slum of Legs combine dissonance and melody into a delicious stew topped off with a violin chaser.

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20. Hierphants – Nothing Neu (Goodbye Boozy)

Featuring members of Ausmuteants and Frowning Clouds,  you might expect Hierphants to sound like a garage band with Devo leanings and you would be right. Nothing Neu, but good nonetheless.

kingtears
21. King Tears Mortuary – Grease Trap (Vacant Valley)

Power pop from Sydney that recalls southern fried college rock from the 80’s. Surprised Mitch Easter didn’t have a hand in this.

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22. Ubertrager – Neben Mir (Great Pop Supplement)

Amazing how much this sounds like Broadcast. Otherworldly!

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23. Institute – Giddy Boys (Kartorga Works)

Debut single from Austin band sounding like their from Australia. The Austin Ausmuteants?

primitivepartstv
24. Primitive Parts – TV Wheels (Faux Discx)

Primitive Parts make their second appearance in the countdown. Quality and quantity. Lookout for their debut coming later this year on Trouble In Mind.

dreamboys
25. Dream Boys – Positive Arguments (White Iris)

Bluebells, Bif Bang Pow and Three O’Clock fans rejoice, Los Angeles’ Dream Boys follow up last year’s LP with more jangly goodness!

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26. Wimps – Distraction (Help Yourself)

Short, sharp punk from Seattle’s slackers in chief.

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27. Kelley Stoltz – Cross Your Mind (Stroll On)

Stoltz keeps cranking out classic pop whether you like it or not. The guy’s a machine. Dig the ode to Echo & the Bunnymen xylophone solo too.

nalda
28. When Nalda Became Punk – Indiepop Whatever (Shelflife)

From Spain, but riding a wave of Swedish Pop, When Nalda Became a Punk feature jangly guitars and life affirming choruses.

woolenmen
29. Woolen Men – Real FX (Loglady)

More tightly wound jangle from this Portland trio.

cheapriot
30. Cheap Riot – Part Time Vacancy (Croque Macadam)

A great debut single from punk-party mods who remind me of Television Personalities and the Buzzcocks.

cavern
31. Cavern of Anti-Matter – Total Availability And The Private Future (Peripheral Conserve)

The cover looks like something Jack Kirby might have drawn for the Fantastic Four back in the 60’s. Meanwhile Tim Gane continues his odes a future that never was.

paellas
32. Paellas – Cat Out (Self-released)

The formerly moody Paellas, shake the lead out and get downright dancy. New direction 100 percent approved.

thighmaster
33. Thigh Master – Head of the Witch (Tenth Court)

Jangly garage pop that is bound to not just to excite fans of Suzanne Somers but is likely to make fans of the Clean the Go-Betweens happy as well.

twerps
34. Twerps – Back To You (Merge)

More Australian pop you say. Yes  they just keep coming. Sounding a little like the Moles in the intro, this one is the lead single from the upcoming LP.

tenderage
35. Tender Age – Anything (Track & Field)

Portland’s Tender Age evoke’s Felt’s Ignite the Seven Cannons. Dark and dreamy.

sleafordmods
36. Sleaford Mods – Loan Shark (Apocolypso)

A bit more glitchy and more experimental backing provides great backdrop for another rant.

heathers
37. Heathers – Fear (Death Party)

Single number two from this LA band delivers more hardy jangepop. The cool thing about them is how funnel their very English influences (Wedding Present) into a very American sound (Replacements).

menace-beach
38. Menace Beach – Tennis Court (Memphis Industries)

Dreamy female vocals over scuzzy male ones and scuzzy guitars that delivers with a nice big chorus. Just what you should expect from a great single.

ausmuteants
39. Ausmuteants – Felix Tried to Kill Himself (Goodbye Boozy)

Prolific Aussi synth punks crash the party with this blistering guitars and head flexing vocals.

dickdiver
40. Dick Diver – New Name Blues (Fruits & Flowers)

New Name Blues sounds a little more experimental and less straightforward than their usual strummy goodness, adding in some saxophone to keep things interesting.

Close Lobsters Give Us Something To Smile About

June 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Posted in C-86, Jangle-pop, Music, Singles, Things You Thought Would Never Happen | 1 Comment
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LIFE112_Cover

“Things will never will be the same” sings Andrew Burnett on the A-side of the Close Lobsters‘ new single. Maybe not quite the same, but the more things change the more they stay the same. The seminal C-86 compilation that the band appeared on has just seen a reissue that extends that cassette into a three CD set and Paisley, Scotland’s Close Lobsters who have been dormant for some 20 odd years (their final album Headache Rhetoric came out in 1989) have just released a brand new 7″ single on Shelflife records here in the US.

Time has not altered the sound of their bittersweet wall of jangle an iota, nor has it diminished their knack for writing adroit pop songs. The two on this single sound like they could have come from the lost follow-up to Headache Rhetoric. Now Time is a six minute epic that walks a fine line down memory lane without really looking back. The flip side is something of a love letter to the United States with Burnet landing in the canyons of NYC in ridiculous heat then setting out on the road on a bus to Chicago. The dusty guitar solo in the middle almost makes you feel the hot breeze in your face.

Who knows if this single is one-off thing or the start of  Close Lobsters phase II? I’m just still pinching myself that this new single even exits.  Welcome back fellows!

stream: Close Lobsters – Now Time (The 7″ single is available from Shelflife Records)

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)

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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Dream_Boys

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.

A Record Store That Knows My Name

March 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Posted in Record Stores, Seattle | 1 Comment
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Seattleites have been blessed with quite a lot of good record stores, and most of them thankfully are still in business. Our luck in having so many outlets in the city to spend money on records may be tenuous at best, but as they say carpe diem.  That is exactly what Chris Mac has done by starting up a new record store / mail order.  The store is called  Jigsaw Records, and is due to open it’s doors here in Seattle this Saturday.  As I said, Seattle has more than its fair share of record stores, but up to now it did not have one that focuses on indiepop.  Jigsaw promises to do just that.  The store will sell records from small to tiny labels from around the globe, and it promises to be all things  “indiepop, power pop, indie rock, lo-fi pop, twee, and pretty much any other kind of fun pop music that we fancy”.  So, if you’re looking for a pop record from Europa, Peru, the Philippines, or Swaziland, Jigsaw is the new place to stop on your treasure hunt .  Not sure if there are any indiepop bands in Swaziland, but if there are I bet you’ll be able to pick up their 7″ single at Jigsaw.

The store opens this Saturday morning at 11am, with the grand opening festivities starting 7pm that night with Math & Physics Club making their return (has it really been two years since they last played) and D. Crane from BOAT playing.  The store is located in Ballard in the upstairs part of Resolution Audio and Video at 5459 Leary Ave NW, probably right next to Dissonant Plane another record store in the same space that specializes in drone, noise and death metal.   So while you’re filling up on sugar coated pop, you can also get your  allowance of death metal all in the same stop.  Talk about convenience.

mp3: Close Lobsters – In Spite of These Times (from Foxheads Stalk This Land)

If you’re interested to read more about the state of Seattle record stores, the Stranger interviews a handful of the city’s proprietors for an article in this week’s issue.  One of the questions they ask the group is would you open a record store now?  The article doesn’t talk about Jigsaw, but it would have been interesting to get the perspective someone doing just that.

What Is There To Smile About?

September 8, 2009 at 8:48 am | Posted in C-86, Reissues | 1 Comment
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Close Lobsters - Forever Until Victory

Allmusic describes them as neo-psychedelic jangle pop, the Trouser Press said they established a distinctive sound above the din of C-86 janglomania.  Others claimed they were part Orange Juicethe Church, Only Ones and Echo and the Bunnymen.   Whatever the case, Scottland’s Close Lobsters were stuff of which legends are made.  Unlike so many other bands that get labeled with the C-86 tag, the Close Lobsters were actually on that hallowed NME cassette.  Their song Firestation Towers was included on the compilation, and soon after they signed to Fire records and put out their first proper single, I’m Going to Heaven to See If It Rains.  Then in a matter of three years, Two albums, an EP and a bunch of singles, poof!  They were gone. Along with Animals that Swim and Moose, the Close Lobsters are one of those bands that I’ve always hoped for a reunion and a surprise new record.  A reunion doesn’t look too promising as lead Lobster Andrew Burnett has gone off in an enirely different direction with his latest project CLS Kunstwerk, but the Close Lobsters do have sort of a surprise new record coming.

Their two albums Foxheads Stalk This Land and Headache Rhetoric are well worth seeking out.  Foxheads was reissued a few years ago, but Headache Rhetoric is shamefully out of print.  Both of these records as well as the What Is There To Smile About EP still get frequent play in my house. I knew that there were a lot of stray singles, b-sides and compilation tracks that the band had released, and I’ve always hoped that someone would compile all these lost jems and put them out.  It seems that the band and their label have been thinking that there are enough people like me to actually go and release a record that does just that.  The CD is titled Forever, Until Victory!  It’s due to come out in October on Fire, and on it you can expect to get that C-86 track, first two pre-album singles  Going To Heaven To See If It Rains and Never Seen Before, nearly all of the What Is There To Smile About EP as well as stellar covers of Neil Young’s Hey Hey My My (Into the Black), the Only Ones‘ Wide Waterways, and Leonard Cohen’s Paper Thin Hotel.  If you already have all of these songs in one format or another, then maybe the fact the two of the Lobsters themselves (Andrew Burnett and Graeme Wilmington) have remastered all of the tracks.  Most likely if  you are a longtime fan this will fill in the gaps.  If you’re someone looking for and introduction to a great band from the 80’s this is good place to start.  Either way, there is lots to smile about.

Cheers to Cloudberry Cake Proselytism where I read about this reissue in his interview with Andrew Burnett.

mp3: The Close Lobsters – Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)

mp3: The Close Lobsters – Nature Thing

mp3: The Close Lobsters – D.D.I.R.N. (conspicuously left off of this compilation, found on the Great Fire of London compilation)

You can pre-order the Close Lobsters, Forever Until Victory from Fire Records.  See the full track listing after the click….

Continue Reading What Is There To Smile About?…

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