Traams, walk the fine line of angular post punk and hypnotic motorik inspired grooves. You get the feeling listening to their debut album Grin that they were eavesdropping while the Wedding Present were recording Seamonsters with Albini, were in Stockton at Pavement‘s inception, have th’ Faith Healers Lido stuck in their van’s cassette deck, have drank at the fountain of Klaus Dinger, and hang out with the Hookworms. I know that last one is true since MJ of the Hookworms along with Rory Attwell recorded Traams debut album.
Grin is a blood brother of Hookworms’ amazing album Pearl Music. Singer and guitarist Stuart Hopkins has an unhinged voice that could go off the rails at any moment giving the songs an unpredictability while the underlying guitar bass drum hypnosis by way of spiral scratch grooves keep you tied to the tracks. The last couple of weeks as I’ve been tethered to this record I’ve felt like the cartoon damsel in distress tied to the tracks as Traams locomotive rumbles down the tracks. Are the Traams Snidely Whiplash or are they my Dudley Do-Right? Tune in next time for “This is the very last traam” or “Blogger on the tracks.”
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 – 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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.
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
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.