Here’s to the folks who scour the internet for hidden beauties like this album from Melbourne, Australia’s Glaciers! Living Right is a fine piece of jangly goodness that deserves a wider audience. It came out last year on bandcamp, but has recently been released on vinyl by new Spanish label Meritorio Records.
The eleven songs on Living Right evoke the Railway Children and early records by their fellow countrymen the Church. The songs have an easy, mellow vibe that is slightly melancholy but brilliant and breezy. With only one record, these youngsters have plunked themselves right into the long lineage of shimmering jangle pop bands, many of which are long forgotten by most folks. Thankfully there are bands in far off corners of the world who still make this beautifully sublime kind of thing and others who feel it necessary to press it onto vinyl.
The first Tender Age single reminded me of Felt’s Ignite the Seven Cannons. it was methodically austere and moody. The Portland band are back with their second single that shows them tweaking things just a little to deliver a warmer and more ethereal sounding record. In other words they’ve turned up the shoegaze dials on the guitars. It’s still good, but different from their first single and veers into the same sonic territory as the Wildhoney album from earlier this year. It also begs the question, how many more records do I need to buy that sound like My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse and Slowdive? I guess one more wouldn’t hurt.
It seems as though Baltimore has had a minor outbreak of excellent indiepop bands. You might remember the recent singles from Wildhoney and the EP from Expert Alterations? Get ready to add another band to the contagion. Crimson Wave have just released their debut 7-inch single on Accidental Guest records. The A-side Say has a detached melancholy that rides over you the way Scrawl did on records like Velvet Hammer and Smallmouth and an infectious quality in the vein of Bleached. On the flip side Calling You the guitar playing has a pace and sense of space that also brings to mind more languorous side of Felt. For a first single, this is subtle,accomplished and compelling stuff!
The Pale Lights debut album Before There Were Pictures was recorded by at Marlborough Farms by Ladybug Transistor’s Gary Olson. Head Pale Light Philip Sutton who has been in Comet Gain and more recently the Soft City, employs the help of Crystal Stilts bassist Andrew Adler to play guitar and solicits the talents of the Stilts Kyle Forester for some keyboard flourishes. Come to think of it, is is nearly a Cinema Red and Blue reunion minus Comet Gain’s David Feck.
Sutton who was also the Cinema Red and Blue drummer gets out from behind the drums and is front and center with his jangly guitar and friendly croon. The album picks up where their four song self-titled EP from 2012 left off. The album breezes into the room like a long forgotten friend. The elegant maudlin pop that the band excels at evokes bygone classics like Felt, Brilliant Corners, Lloyd Cole and Biff Bang Pow! Like an old friend, you feel like you already know these songs and you kind of do if you are a fan of these other bands. If you don’t it’s time to make a new friend. Say hello to the Pale Lights!
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!
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.
Crushed Stars‘ album In the Bright Rain has been haunting me for past two months. Based on the music and the photo on the inner sleeve Todd Gautreau is a dour fellow, but he does dour with class. Gautreau who is 90% of Crushed Stars has created a low-key masterpiece that combines the melancholy bookishness of Lloyd Cole, the cascading guitars of Felt and the refined elegance of the Blue Nile.
He writes, sings and plays most everything except for drums where he employs the help Jeff Ryan of War on Drugs and St. Vincent. Using Ryan as the drummer makes this album sound less of a bedroom sad- fest and more like a wind swept, rain in your face travail. Every song is a slow gauzy veil that drapes itself over you as you listen. You try to doff each one but, they stay with you, their sadness and their delicate beauty.
Crushed Stars have been around for over 10 years (this is their 5th album) and Gautreau also records as Sonogram. In the Bright Rain is the acme of Gautreau’s career thus far. I have a few favorite songs on the record, but they change depending on my mood. Rays of them pass through and they glisten a little differently on every listen. It’s a record who’s stunning melancholy weaves its way into your conscious resulting in a sublime pleasure.
I have been amassing a ton information that has come to the tipping point where I have to let it out. Some of this may have been tweeted, but who remembers anything they read on Twitter? You possibly have heard half of it, but then maybe you haven’t. Here’s the mid-summer digest of the finest kiss music news.
Allo Darlin’ set to release new single
Last week Allo Darlin’ announced the release of a brand new single due in August. You can hear it and pre-order it over at their bandcamp. It’s a picture disc and contains one song about former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman and one song about the Wu Tang Clan which is a cover of another Hayman band the French. How’s that for confusing?
Art Museums Break Up
After a short but fruitful run San Francisco’s Art Museums have said their splitting up. According to their Facebook page, they just couldn’t handle it anymore. They had recently released two 7 inch singles one on Slumberland and another on Yakamashi. I don’t know about you, but I could have handled a few more records from them. So long Art Museums. See you in the funny papers.
I stopped by the Crocodile the other night to see Blouse. So far the Portland new wavers have released singles on Captured Tracks and Sub Pop with an album due this fall on CT. Their singer was totally going for the 80’s vibe with her poofy feathered hair and white pleated slacks. Their short set (25 minutes) much better than their fashion sense, playing light airy sounds accented with muscular Cure-like bass lines.
Chicago band has a Brain Idea, Sound Like the Clean, Name Their EP after CCR
I’m kind of possessed this week by the new EP from Brain Idea on Mexican Summer. It’s part Clean, part Kraut, of course the Clean always have had a Kraut element to their sound so maybe it’s all Clean. Whatever, it’s good. I just ordered their first album that came out on Permanent last year.
Castle Face the San Francisco label part-run by Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer have just unleashed a book of flexis. Bare Wires, Blasted Canyons, Thee Ohs Sees, The Fresh & Onlys and Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin each contribute a song spread across Five 7 inch flexis discs. It comes packaged in a ringed notebook and it ain’t cheap at $30. I thought flexies were supposed to be cheap. They use to come stapled inside of magazines and sounded like crap on your turntable. I’m assuming the quality of these is slightly better.
Another band on Twitter hips me to another new cool band. Seattle’s TacocaT tweeted the other night how Detroit’s Deadbeat Beat are their new favorite band. A couple clicks later, they’re mine too.
Felt: Gone But Not Yet Forgotten
Felt have been defunct for 22 years now, but way down in the depths of the internet they never went away. A couple years ago the San Francisco band Girlsinterviewed Lawrence for Magicrpm and just recently the Charlatans‘ Tim Burgess was interviewed over at The Quietus about them. I didn’t know that Burgess was such a superfan. He drops a few debatable nuggets like the idea that She Lives By The Castle was written about St. Etienne‘s Sarah Cracknell. If you are a Felt superfan you probably already know about the book written by JC Brouchard called Felt : Ballad of the Fan.
Fine Arts Showcase’s Gustaf Kjellvander Dies
Sad news from Sweden a few weeks ago, when Gustaf Kjellvander died unexpectedly in his sleep. He was only 31 years old. Kjellvander lived in Seattle until he was 15 when his family moved back to Sweden. He made some great albums as the Fine Arts Showcase. My two favorites were Radiola and his Rough Bunnies covers album Sings Rough Bunnies.
Green Pajamas Go To Green Pajama Country
Seattle’s Green Pajamas are back with album number…I lost count. No matter, this time they claim to have gone country. The first song from the record, Pass Me Another Whiskey doesn’t sound particularly country. It just sounds good.
Hausu Continue the Northwest’s Flirtation With British New Wave
Led by former Seattleite and underage organizer Ben Funkhouser and his Edwyn Collins-esque croon, Portland band Hausu‘s ringing guitars and smart sound bring to mind Collin’s former band. They also claim to be influenced by Bruce Springsteen, but what red-blooded Amercian isn’t (whether you want to be or not)?
Australian Record Label Presents Two New Records From Two Old-Timers
Lost and Lonesome has just put out two records, one by former Lucksmith Mark Monnone who is going by the moniker Monnone Alone called Pink Earrings. Not surprisingly it sounds kinda like the Lucksmiths, expect Monnnone sings. While you’re checking that out, be sure to consider the latest from Bart and Friends. Bart Cummings of Cat’s Miaow and the Shapiros ended his long silence last year with Make You Blush is back again with a 10 inch EP called Stories With the Endings Changed.
Get Your Medical Records
Much has been written about Medical Records here in Seattle, but I’m not sure if the word has gotten out beyond Seattle and in the know circles of “classic synth, cosmic disco, wave (cold/new), and future music” aficionados. So far, the Seattle label specializing in reissuing nearly forgotten synth records, has released eight albums by Guyer’s Connection, OGI, Der Plan, Chrisma, Deutsche Wertarbeit, and Alexander Robotnick. All the records are limited to around 500 copies, and come in some very pretty shades of vinyl. Many are already sold out so head on over, have a listen and see what’s left.
Geoffrey O’Connor Comes Out of the Crayon Fields
Crayon Fields frontman Geoffrey O’Connor takes a break from his band to cut loose and get icy cold and synthy. The first song is a study in cool, suave and sophisticated. Can’t wait to hear the whole album. It’s called Vanity Is Forever and is out in September.
The Capitol Hill Block Party is this weekend in Seattle. It’s three days beginning this Friday. I’m heading up on Friday for sure, and may go Saturday (the afore mentioned Hausu play Saturday) as well depending on my ability to tolerate large festivals. A festival more my size is the third annual Pizza Festwhich takes place Funhouse August 4-6. The line-up is pretty sweet if you’re into garage, punk and fun. Not sure if they’re having a pizza eating contest like last year, but I’m sure you’ll be able to get a slice along with a Rainier and some ringing ears.
Servants Are Served Up Again
Captured Tracks has a pretty relentless release schedule so keeping up can be a chore. Glad to see the label doing god’s work in releasing long lost gems from years ago in addition to the many new bands they release. The Servants ran with the C-86 crowd and actually were on that now legendary cassette. The band’s Cherry Red compilation has been long out of print, so Captured Tracks has picked up the slack and just released a record that collects the majority of their recorded output. It’s called Youth Club Disco.
Michigan’s Swimsuit have just released their debut album. Besides having my favorite cover of any record this year, it contains some pretty good songs as well. Yeah, reverb heavy surf inspired music is kinda played out, but give them a break, you can only surf on a great lake if there’s a big storm.
Tiny Microphone Finally Gets a Non-Cassette Release. Still Wait For Vinyl
You may remember Tiny Microphone from a few years ago when we did the One Last Kiss redo. Tiny Microphone is Kristine Capua (also of Very Truly Yours). Tiny Microphone are like twee-shoegaze and I mean that in the best way. Up until now you could only get her Home album on cassette from Italian label Best Kept Secret, but now Japanese label Happy Prince has released it on CD. Expect a vinyl version to come along in another three years…