Midway and Buried in Records- Part 1

This week we are featuring some of the best records of the first half of 2013. I don’t think I’ve done a mid-year roundup before, but this year is not typical. It’s on a trajectory to overwhelm any attempt at a year end list so I’m splitting it up. Some of the albums I’ve mentioned on these pages, others I’ve been keeping to myself. Everyday this week I’m going to feature seven records that deserve your or someone else’s attention. Here are the first seven.
hookworms

Hookworms – Pearl Mystic (Gringo)
What do you get when you combine the 13th floor elevators with the Spacemen 3. I’m sure many bands have tried this approach, but none have ever succeeded as wildly. At this point Hookworms are sitting on top of the best record of the year.

stream: Hookworms – Since We Have Changed

boat
BOAT – Pretend To Be Brave (Magic Marker)

When D Crane sings in the song Problem Solvers “We’re just another average America band” with such earnestness that you wonder if he’s thinking about throwing in the towel. Think about it, what if Boat were average? The masses would like them and they’d be rich. I like to think of them as standing on the top the belle curve fighting off the hordes with their indelible pop and unbridled charisma.

stream: BOAT – Problem Solvers

mantles
The Mantles – Long Enough to Leave (Slumberland)

The Mantles hark back to a to the 60’s and the Byrds. They are like the Greene and Greene of current day rock and roll. Architects of a back to basics approach that adorns with earthly tones to create a thing of beauty. When I heard that the  album was to be produced by Kelley Stoltz, I had it pegged as a winner from the start and yet somehow it still exceeded my expectations.

stream: The Mantles – Hello

bleached
Bleached – Ride Your Heart (Dead Oceans)

“After that last Best Coast album, you probably thought the SoCal girl group beach thing was played out. I did, but then along come former Mika Miko sisters Jessie and Jennifer Calvin with their new band Bleached. Just to get past your initial eye-roll they need to be pretty good. They would have be a little different and bring something new to the game, right? I think Bleached realize this and they justify their sound by infusing it with some twang and dust. Like they’ve lived the seedier side of L.A. and maybe even been to Bakersfield more than a few times.”

stream: Bleached – Looking For a Fight

lovefromlondon
Robyn Hitchcock – Love From London (Yep Roc)

“If you would have said to 20 year old me that I would someday think that a record made by a 60 year old guy was was one of the best records of the year I would have scoffed at you and said disdainfully that I don’t do old guy rock.”  I was an idiot when I was 20.

Stream: Robyn Hitchcock – Be Still

songs
Songs – Malabar (Popfrenzy)

A band named Songs is questionable, but luckily I didn’t let their poorly chosen name stop me from listening to to this fine psychedelic pop album. Parts of it remind me of Game Theory, but being Australian they probably have been influenced by the Go-Betweens and the Triffids. This is their second album and it drips confidence and probably would have been a hit back in the major label heyday garnering a US deal and tons of play on college radio in a college town near you.

stream: Songs – Boy/Girl

sleaze
The Sleaze – Tecktonik Girlz & Other Hits (Floridas Dying)
You often hear the argument that punk rock is played out, or worse dead (shudder). Usually I don’t argue, because it isn’t often that I hear a new punk band that isn’t. The Sleaze are here to tell you that ain’t the case and renew your faith in the underbelly of rock n’ roll. The Minneapolis band’s output has been sporadic since unleashing their killer debut single Smokin’ Fuckin’ Cigs back in 2008, but the Total Punk label has corralled these foul mouthed, snot nosed adolescents and gotten them to put out an 8 song 12 inch.

stream: The Sleaze – Tektonix Girls

The Sleaze

thesleaze

There have been some great punk rock reissues this year. The Big Boys and 100 Flowers come to immediate mind, but up to now there hadn’t been a great new punk rock record this year. You often hear the argument that punk rock is played out, or worse dead (shudder). Usually I don’t argue, because it isn’t often that I hear a new punk band that isn’t. The Sleaze are here to tell you that ain’t the case and renew your faith in the underbelly of rock n’ roll. The Minneapolis band’s output has been sporadic since unleashing their killer debut single Smokin’ Fuckin’ Cigs back in 2008, but the Total Punk label has corralled these foul mouthed, snot nosed adolescents and gotten them to put out an 8 song 12 inch.

I love the colicky delivery and the high pitched nasal vocals and the adrenaline fueled guitars. Tektonix Girls is the easy highlight of this set. There are two versions of it on the record, the hyper version that leads off and then a slightly restrained version that concludes it. In between are 6 more songs that will leave you no desire to go back and revisit punk rock history because all you need is right here.

stream: The Sleaze – Tektonix Girls (from the Total Punk 12″ Tecktonik Girlz & Other Hits)

The Sleaze are officially broken up and have been since 2010, but they just played SXSW in March, so who knows what that means…Hopefully to be continued.

Dead But Still Alive


photo from sare bear’s Flickr photostream

Vancouver, BC’s Dead Ghosts have a portfolio of obscure seven inch singles to their name, but it’s almost like they don’t want you to know about them, preferring to release records on obscure European and Iowan labels.  They seem to favor flying under the radar.  Hopefully all of that is about to change with the release of their first feature full length album.  Packed full of foot-stompers, the Dead Ghosts self-titled debut on Florida’s Dying is easy to like, especially for garage aficionados.

Garage, you say with a hint of dread in your voice? At this late date in the year one might be growing tired of the lo-fi garage sound that seems to have been done and overdone ad nauseum, but the Dead Ghosts sneak one in under the wire with a few twists to quell the nausea.  While they do mine some depleted veins of beach and surf, the Ghosts also like to douse their garage with a healthy dose of western twang and sprinkling of soul.  Fergus and Geronimo have nothing on these guys, but where Fergus & Geronimo’s strengths lie in their ability to infuse soul into their garage, the Dead Ghosts like to add a bit of Johnny Cash, Bo Diddly and even a little spaghetti western a la Ennio Morricone. The best songs on this record are the ones where the garage, soul and twang get all balled up like  a tumbleweed.  When it happens, your garage hang-over turns into the hair of the dog that bit you.

mp3: Dead Ghosts – Off the Hook

Buy the vinyl of Dead Ghosts’ album from Florida’s Dying.
For the invisible version try Amazon.