A Weekend of Driving Langorously


It was a three day holiday weekend here in the U.S. and that means one more day of doing whatever it is you prefer occupying your time with on a regular weekend. In my case you might be surprised to hear that it wasn’t listening to records, because frankly who has the time to sit and listen to vinyl during the waning days of summer? I was listening to music though. Being an American raised in the rural hinterlands of the Midwest my preferred method of listening to music is in the car with the windows down and the sun shining if possible.  So here is my past weekend of highlights in the car. Admittedly this post would have been much better if I would have thought to snap photos at random points from the driver’s side, but that kind of thing is illegal and a might bit dangerous. So better off safe and boring from the photo perspective. It’s all I can do to remember a turn signal sometimes when a good song is turned up loud on the car stereo.

I had listened to the new Tyde record (nice Scott Walker reference on the cover!) a few times sitting at a desk doing work and it didn’t really connect except for the single The Curse In Reverse in which Tyde main guy Darren Rademaker is aided by former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler to startling good results. But as I crossed the Ballard Bridge with the sun hitting me through the windshield Nice To Know You blasted out of my windows and I immediately got it. This record is not supposed be listened to in an office or a basement. It needs sunshine, wind and at least 35 miles per hour. I was doing an errand, but I passed my turn on purpose to keep listening. Luckily the record only has seven songs on it so I didn’t waste too much petrol.

Later that night I had to run to grocery store to gather some food for the grill. It takes about two songs to get to the store which is just about perfect for a 7-inch single. Often when I’m heading to the store I’ll pick something that I’ve just put onto my phone. In this instance it was the new Hozac single from Soft Candy. The Chicago band sound like LA Paisley Underground and must be fans of  the Rain Parade. The rolling psychedelia of Bixarre Luv Pyramids had me in such a daze that I almost rolled through a red light. I screeched to a halt (I was only going about 10 mph) in time to allow an elderly couple to cross Market Street. I Waited for the light to turn green and as it did the wonderful Kinks like piano of Song for Ellie Mae percolated from the speakers and carried me into the parking lot of the store. Damn I forgot my shopping list!

Late morning on our way to a trail head for a hike in the Cascades we are driving east on the I-90. It’s turning into a good day as the sun begins to burn off the clouds. Of course I’m starting to feel guilty about all of this driving. If I lived on a ranch, I’d take a horse and a Bluetooth speaker, but Seattle doesn’t have any ranches so here I am behind the wheel again listening to Portland’s Verner Pantons who continue the Paisley Underground theme of the prior evening’s trip to the grocery store only they subscribe more to the Long Ryders’ slant of psychedelia. It’s sort of dusty sounding and it makes me wonder if cowboys carry Bluetooth speakers with them on their horses these days, because I can’t think of a better way to listen to this record than on a horse somewhere around Winchester, Washington. As it is, songs like Little Boat, Melancholy Girl and Sarah Saturday get us to the hike much faster than NPR’s Weekend Edition could ever hope to.

A long weekend always has a comedown and needs a soundtrack and by this time I had been in the car way too much but it’s the last hurrah of summer and who wants to be inside? Not me. Earlier in the spring I had trimmed the apple tree in my back yard and there was a pile of wood waiting for just the right night. As I said earlier I don’t own a horse, but I do own a Bluetooth speaker and it was in my back yard as the cool nigh air was kept at bay by the snap and crack of the fire pit. What better soundtrack to fire, stars and general serenity than the new Mild High Club LP  Skiptracing? This group of Los Angeles followers of Steely Dan and High Llamas know how to relax, or at least put their listeners into a state of relaxation. How good? So good I could barely bring myself to put another log on the fire as the soothing sounds of Chapel Perilous floated through the air. Luckily I have a kid or two to do the heavy labor and the repeat button close at hand.

Crates Full of the People’s Temple

“That moment when you’re listening to an LP and you think, This is cool and all, but I’ve got crates FULL of stuff like this” said Mick Collins of the Dirtbombs earlier this week. I’m guessing many of you have this same problem. I know I do. Maybe I’m becoming jaded or maybe I’ve just met my lifetime quota for certain genres of music. I love lo-fi garage rock, but I really do have crates full of it, so it’s gotta be pretty good for me to really like it.

I’ve got the first two albums from Lansing, Michigan’s the People’s Temple in my crates and their third album Musical Garden recently released on Hozac is their best one yet. Arguably these temple lads aren’t doing garage rock per se. The heavy riffs could cause some to recall Led Zepplin or Black Sabbath. Their bluesy bravado may bring to mind the Rolling Stones.  They’ve got a mystic quality like Van Morrison, while their compact intense songs have a punk inspired brevity. Musical Garden rolls all of it into one exceptional record. The People’s Temple have over the course of three albums set the bar even higher for all other garage rock inspired bands to get into my crates. Good luck everybody else.

stream: The People’s Temple – Male Secretary (from Musical Garden out on Hozac)

If you’re on the east coast you can catch them on tour right now.

Fri 5/2 – Atlanta, GA – 529
Sat 5/3 – Mobile, AL – Alabama Music Box
Sun 5/4 – off day
Mon 5/5 – St. Augustine, FL – Nobby’s
Tues 5/6 – Jacksonville, FL- Shantytown Pub
Wed 5/7 – Orlando, FL- Wills Pub
Thurs 5/8 – working on DIY Gainesville show
Fri 5/9 – Tampa, FL – Tropical Heatwave Fest (New World Pub)
Sat 5/10 – Miami, FL – Churchill’s Pub
Sun 5/11 – Savannah, GA – Congress St. Social Club
Mon 5/12 – Raleigh, NC – Slim’s
Tues 5/13 – Asheville,NC – Mothlight
Wed 5/14 – Boone, NC – Boone Saloon
Thurs 5/15 -Columbus, OH- Double Happiness
Fri 5/16 – Lakewood, OH – Mahall’s –
Sat 5/17 – Lansing, MI – East Lansing Art Festival

Midway and Buried in Records – Part 4

It’s Thursday and part four of the midway round-up. Feeling overwhelmed yet? I am. I don’t know if I can make it to Friday. If you’ve been following along, I hope you’ve found at least one thing that tickled your toes enough to buy a record or at least like them on facebook. A like on facebook or a follow on twitter is like money in the bank for bands, right? Getting money for your records is so old school. These days it’s all about social networking your record so that share prices for the internet fat cats increases. So go do your part.

Vision Fortune – Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune (Faux Discs)

There are many reasons to love this record. First the cover is a total red herring. If you buy this expecting Spanish troubadours or Mexican narcocorrido then you’ve got a surprise in store for you. The song titles are all roman numerals and there is a side F and side V. Nothing is as it seems as the first buzz of guitars kicks off the album sounding like the beginning of Anthrax by Gang of Four.  It only gets better from there as it envelops you and you don’t know if you’re listening to XX, XIII or XIX and you don’t care. This is an album meant to be listened to in its entirety of full effect with each song leading into the next, but I’ll put one below to stream anyway. You can stream the entire thing here.

steam: Vision Fortune – XXII

The Prophet Hens – Popular People Do Popular People (Fishrider)

The Chills are back after more than a ten year hiatus, but the big news out of New Zealand this year is the Prophet Hens first album. Taking the Chills torch and running away with it.

stream: Prophet Hens – Easy As The Sun

Heavy Times – Fix It Alone (Hozac)

Fix it alone sees this Chicago band reigning in their intensity just a little, but don’t let that give you the wrong idea. They’re all the better for it. This is a highly melodic and highly intense album that brings back golden age memories of Husker Du and the noisier Flying Nun band like Gordons but not afraid to snag a riff from the Chills and let it fly.

stream: Heavy Times – Tradition Of Abuse

Lady – Lady (Truth & Soul)

Lady is actually two ladies, Terri Walker and Nicole Wray who have silky smooth voices and a penchant for 60’s soul. Classic soul albums are still being made and not just by guys who were there in the classic times like Lee Fields and Charles Bradly, but youngsters like Lady.

stream: Lady – Sweet Lady

Wax Idols – Discipline & Desire (Slumberland)

Surprisingly it turns out that Wax Idols music DNA, contains strands of the Sound, Chameleons, Comsat Angels, Christian Death, and Love and Rockets. After a debut album that leaned to the cut and dried garage punk, Discipline and Desire leans decidely to the dark side of pop and is infinitely more interesting and engaging. It’s what all sophomore albums should be, a major improvement and fearlessly forging out in new directions.

stream: Wax Idols – Sound of a Void

We Are Loud Whispers – Suchness (Hardly Art)

It was kind of a bummer when I came to the realization that there would never be another Arthur and Yu album, and we all know that people are still not giving up hope for another Postal Service album. We Are Loud Whispers is not quite either one of those but since Sonya Westcott of Arthur & Yu is one half of We Are Loud Whispers it’s not a stretch in that direction. Combine the spare electronic backdrops provided by Ayumu Haitani and you have a stretched reference to the Postal Service. In any event this record is full of understated beauty that deserves some of your valuable attention.

stream: We Are Loud Whispers – This Time

Ex Cops – Ture Hallucinations (Other Music)

“New York City’s Ex Cops don’t dress in police uniforms (thankfully), and they don’t sound anything like you would expect a band calling themselves Ex Cops to sound like. Well, at least not what I imagine a band of ex cops would sound like.” Their debut album True Hallucinations is an exquisit dreampop/shoegaze record.

stream: Ex Cops – You Are a Lion, I Am a Lamb

Full Time Punks: Wax Idols, Terry Malts and Wimps at the Funhouse

Funhouse, Seattle, 10 November 2011:

One of the best punk albums to come out this year is Wax Idols‘ No Future.  The Oakland, California band’s debut is influenced by late 70’s early 80’s classic punk period bands like the Buzzcocks, and the Avengers. What makes it so great is that it isn’t just punk by numbers. The record is enhanced with a gothic influence that makes it not only rock, but haunt as well. It’s got punk style anthems with call response choruses, but it also has lighter side that is plain old classic pop. Wax Idols is band in name but really the moniker for the songs of the intense, passionate and always entertaining Heather Fortune.
Live Wax Idols are a four piece band with an all girl front line of guitars and bass and a guy on drums. Fortune demonstrated disaffected confidence as she and her band delivered punk their punk anthems fast and hard with barely a breath or word between songs. Even with a second guitarist, Fortune still played all the lead parts. Only putting down her guitar for their final song when the band was joined by Terry Malts guitarist Corey Cunningham for a cover of Christian Death‘s Romeo’s Distress. This allowed her to become more animated, grabbing a bar across the top of the stage and lean out toward the audience. If there were more people packed close to the stage I bet she would have dove into them. Fortune obviously know her history. She has even taken a punk moniker in changing her last name from the given Fedewa to Fortune the way so many of  the legendary punks of the past. Wax Idols are a product of the rich west coast punk history that remains largely unexplored by today’s current scene and they  give good cause to keep those history books up to date.

stream: Wax Idols – Dead Like You (from No Future on Hozac)

Wax Idols are on tour with fellow Oaklanders the Terry Malts. Prior to becoming a punk trio they were the Magic Bullets. After some kind of catharsis they saw the punk light and haven’t looked back. They crashed through their highly melodic catchy Ramones like set. It was fun, but would have been more fun if there had been a pit of sweaty punks slamming. That goes for the Wax Idols set too. Hopefully if both bands keep at it they’ll start to draw enthusiastic crazy tatood punks the way the Spits and Thee Oh Sees do.

Stream: Terry Malts – Something About You (from the 7 inch on Slumberland)

The first band of the night was Seattle’s Wimps. Wimps are pretty new (so new they don’t even have a web site), but the band is made up of veterans. Singer and guitarist Rachel Ratner also fronts the duo Butts and is a member of Partman Parthorse. Bassist Matt Nyce is in Consignment who have just released their first album on GGNZLA. I don’t know if drummer Dave Ramm has another current band but he was a former drummer for the Intelligence, which is kind of like saying he was a former guitarist in the Fall. Wimps kind of sound like Ratner’s other band Butts mainly because she sings and plays guitar in both, but Wimps aren’t as jokey. Super catchy short punk songs with crisp guitar that sounds like it is influenced by early 80’s Dischord records. Good stuff.

I didn’t stick around for all of the final band Dude York. They’re from Seattle too. Their first song was called Fuck City and it occurred to me while they were playing it that Fuck City is a much better name for a band than Dude York.  They kind of reminded me of  Too Much Joy with their jokey banter and revved up power pop.

Waxing Idolic

That old saying you should never judge a book by its cover is totally wrong in the case of record sleeves. The latest batch of Hozac singles arrived at my doorstep last week and the one that jumped out at me was the Wax Idols single. Its clean lines and grainy photo made it seem like it was 30 years younger than it’s 2011 copyright. In actuality this record was born in the present day San Francisco garage scene. Heather Fedewa who has spent time in Bare Wires and Hunx and His Punks is the main idol employing the help of members of Sic Alps and Dreamdate the Splinters. The A-side, All Too Human reminds me a little of the Runaways with it’s confident swagger and chorus of Fedewa pining about being someone’s lover that drips with both lust and regret. Its crashing drums, ringing guitars and vociferous chorus make for an intense and satisfying three minutes. See for yourself.

mp3: Wax Idols – All Too Human (Get your copy from Hozac)

In a Jewelbox: Fergus & Geronimo, Seapony and Idle Times

Fergus & Geronimo, Seapony & Idle Times at the Jewelbox Theatre, Seattle | 4 March 2011

I wasn’t expecting much from Fergus and Geronimo last night at the Jewelbox Theatre after being underwhelmed when I saw them a year ago at SXSW, but as luck would have it I was anything but underwhelmed.  The tiny Jewelbox is one of my favorite places to see a show in the city. It’s been around since the 1920’s. It is an intimate place to see a band holding about 100 people, with good sound. Besides the location a few other things had changed for Fergus and Geronimo in the last year besides the obvious, like Jason Kelly’s new haircut.  They’ve recently released an album on Seattle’s Hardly Art and re-jiggered their band with a new bass player and guitarist both of which were top notch.

The four piece fit snuggly on the small stage with Kelly behind the drums full-time (another change from the last time I’d seen them). They seemed right at home, exchanging friendly banter with the audience and showing off some humorous new songs: one about roman numerals (video below) and another about their guitarist getting hit on by a very inebriated woman. They also threw in a cover of Devo‘s Girl U Want, did some Powerful Lovin’,  their ode to Blind Muslim Girls and voila my impression of their live show is totally 180’d. Crazy how good a band can get in a year, they were a blast.

Newly signed to Hardly Art, Seattle’s  Seapony took the middle slot of the night.  I had seen them a while back and neglected to blog about it, but what I took away then was that they sounded good, but needed a drummer.  The same thoughts came to mind as I watched them last night, and the fact that they’re really shy. I don’t think they said anything except “this is our last song”.  Their songs are really good and twee, but the no drummer thing is kind of distracting to my aesthetics.  It’s early days for Seapony so we’ll see how things progress. They’ve got some great songs, I’m sure the delivery will come.

Openers Idle Times rocked my socks off, and if I would have ever gotten around to doing a best Seattle records of 2010, their self-titled debut on Hozac would have been near the top. Damn my indolence.

Here are the remaining Fergus and Geronimo dates go see ’em:

03.09.11 – Portland, OR – East End
03.10.11 – Oakland, CA – The New Parish
03.11.11 – Sacramento, CA – The Hub
03.12.11 – Los Angeles, CA – The Troubador
03.13.11 – Tucson, AZ – Sky Bar (free show)
03.14.11 – El Paso, TX – LIPS Lounge
03.15.11 – Marfa, TX – Padre’s
03.17.11 – Austin, TX – Force Field PR Party @ Shangri-La – set time TBA
03.18.11 – Austin, TX – Sub Pop / Hardly Art Showcase @ Red 7 – 12:15am
03.19.11 – Austin, TX – Hardly Art Pizza Party @ End of an Ear – 2:30pm
03.19.11 – Austin, TX – Panache showcase @ Mohawk (inside) – 10:30pm
03.23.11 – Nashville, TN – The End
03.25.11 – Richmond, VA – Strange Matter
03.26.11 – Baltimore, MD – Golden West
03.27.11 – Washington, DC – Comet Ping Pong
03.28.11 – Montclair, NJ – The Meat Locker
04.01.11 – Philadelphia, PA – The Ox
04.02.11 – Brooklyn, NY – Death By Audio

Super Wild Horses

This whole go back to the 90’s thing isn’t just for guy bands. Amy Franz and Hayley McKee of Melbourne, Australia duo Super Wild Horses are conjuring the recent past on their debut album 15 just released on Hozac in the States and Aarght! in their home country.  Its bouncy rhythms have a playful Tuscadero feel to them, though I don’t think Super Wild Horses are as hopped up on sugar as Tuscadero were back in the day.  Fifteen also owes a little to the Columbus, Ohio trio Scrawl.  On the more somber songs with the their sparse guitar and drum arrangements and general disposition, they might have you believing that they actually splintered from the Scrawl family tree somewhere in the recent past. Marcy May’s songs in Scrawl often dealt in heartbreak and loss and Scrawl’s sound was often described as sparse and dour, but they could also be accused of rocking out as good as any boy band. On 15, songs like Goldentown and We Don’t Believe It evoke that bleakness, but let a ray of sunshine in, something Scrawl rarely did.

Fifteen was recorded with Eddy Current Suppression Ring‘s Mikey Young who also recorded their six song EP on Aarght! that sold out pretty quickly last year.  His deft hand dresses up the record just enough but not too much, letting the songs and voices of Franz and McKee through.  The ladies are heading over to the US for a string of dates that have them selectively hopping across the continent and inexplicably skipping  Seattle.

mp3: Super Wild Horses – Goldentown (from 15, buy it from Hozac)

mp3: Super Wild Horses – Mess Around (from 15, buy it from Hozac)

mp3: Tuscadero – Heat Lightnin’ (from The Pink Album)

mp3: Scrawl – Charles (from Smallmouth)

mp3: Scrawl – Prize (from Velvet Hammer)

mp3: Scrawl – Reuters (Wire cover from Simple Machines 7″/compilation)

Find some scrawl records here.

Super Wild Horses Tour Dates:

September 16: Brooklyn, NY – Cameo Gallery
September 17: Phildelphia, PA – Cha-Cha Razzi
September 18: Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
September 19: Chicago, IL – Permanent Records
September 23: Memphis, TN – Gonerfest
September 27: New Orleans, LA – Saturn Bar
September 28: Austin, TX – Beerland
September 29: Austin, TX – Club 1808
October 1: San Francisco, CA – The Hemlock Tavern
October 2: Davis, CA – Maximum Freedom Festival

The Cave Comes Alive

Ty Segall & Idle Times at the Comet Tavern, Seattle | 28 June 2010

Prior to Melted I was on the fence about Ty Segall. After seeing him at the Sunset Tavern a few years back opening for Thee Oh Sees and Intelligence, I was kind of amazed how he played guitar, drums and sang all at once, but I thought the songwriting on his first two albums was  monochromatic and sonically they seemed a little flat. It was all  three chord jams that pegged the VU meter in the red. Listening to his self-titled debut or Lemons all the way through could be monotonous and a little bit mind numbing. Somewhere along the way Segall eschewed the garage for some acid.  Last year’s Reverse Shark Attack record he did with Mikal Cronin  and the single on Trouble in Mind (that included a cover Echo and the Bunnymen‘s Do It Clean) hinted at a move toward something a little different.  His third album Melted which came out earlier this month on Goner meets those heightened expectations and  is leaps and bounds ahead of than anything he’s done to date.  It’s got this rich garage-y psychedelic sound, and sees Segall hitting a sweet patch with regards to his songwriting.  Melted boasts songs so good they could make you start believing all of the wunderkind accolades this guy was getting early on are valid.

I’m not sure if the packed house at the Comet cared whether or not Segall was branching out as a songwriter or not. They mainly cared about getting their PBR’s and rocking out. The bar seemed a little overwhelmed for the thirsty mass of Ty Segall fans on a Monday night, but Segall was more than obliged to provide the jams for the rocking out part.   The set was sprinkled with a couple new songs, some older ones, but mostly concentrated on the new album. He set the bar high early on with the song Imaginary Person. While good on record, this song really shined displaying its huge unabashed pop hooks. Segall looked all California, with his sun bleached Surfer Joe locks and his laid back, rocker attitude. He sweetly dedicated songs to his muses, his home state California and the girl at the merch table, but forcefully delivered the garage jams. The set ended with Caesar, the song from Melted that features piano and Thee Oh Sees’s John Dwyer of going nutty on a flute. There was no piano or flute at the Comet just a killer song with a huge chorus and a room full of sweaty Ty Segall fans wanting more.

mp3: Ty Segall – Imaginary Person (from Melted, destined to be one of the better albums of the year)

Seattle’s own Idle Times opened as a three piece and sported a new drummer.  Leo Gephardt who is usually in the band only stepped out of the crowd and played guitar for one song, leaving Brian Standeford to handle all the guitar and vocals the rest of the time.  This downsizing didn’t seem to alter Idle Times’ ability to rock out. In fact, I think every time I see Idle Times I’m more impressed by them than the last.  To me, their songs evoke Led Zepplin and Bad Company without being too obvious. Their first full length is due soon from Hozac and is something you should keep your eye out for.

Under the Paving Stones, the Beach

As they say in La France: Quelle surprise! The two singles currently on the street from The Liminanas were something of a surprise to me for a couple reasons: It’s not often that you hear a band wrapping Stereolab, Ye-Ye, surf, and a bit o’ that wall of sound thing into a soufflé and; You don’t expect to hear a band like that on Trouble In Mind or Hozac. Both labels are Chicago based and known for their grimey punk singles, not the beaches of the Mediterranean. The band call Perpignan, France their home.  Perpignan is a short drive, or bus ride to the beach, which seems to color the bands music.  The b-side to their Trouble in Mind single evokes sunsets, crashing waves and bonfires.  The a-side would more likely be found in a disco than the beach.  The spoken dialog reminds me of listening to how to speak French tapes, only there’s groove a mile wide that will make you want first Dance and then start speaking French. The perfect hot and cold single.

mp3: The Liminanas – Je Ne Suis Pas Trés Droguee (order your copy from Trouble In Mind)

The second Liminanas single out on Hozac is a little more in line with the Garage/Spector sounds of the day, but no less agreeable.  This time singing in English, the band go for the jugular with Baby I’m Dead, and then switch back to 60’s Ye-Ye style for the b-side.  Trouble In Mind are promising to release the band’s first album later this year.  It will be the first 12 inch from the exclusively 7″ singles label to this point.  A Liminanas album could quite possibly be a genius move for both the Liminanas and Trouble In Mind.  In the meantime, get these two singles and count the days until the album appears.

mp3: The Liminanas – I’m Dead (order your copy from HoZac)

France Has the Bomb

regardez! france has the bomb
Photo from France Has the Bomb’s myspace

France Has the Bomb apparently chose their name because they wanted something that when you heard it, you wouldn’t immediately know what they sound like. It worked. Based on their wasn’t sure what they’d be like, but since they just put out a single on Hozac I had a pretty good idea.   Based in Minneapolis, but with roots in Chicago their sound straddles influences from both of those cities. Their songs have lots of scratchy, jagged guitars and vocals front and center. They’re certainly not trying to hide behind any of that lo-fi distortion du jour.

To date they’ve got two singles, one on Dusty Medical that was released last year and one on Hozac that was put out at the beginning of this year.  Both remind me of the 80’s midwest postpunk scene and bands like Bitch Magnet and Big Black from Chicago and Husker Du from Minneapolis.  The band are working on an album according to their MySpace, no word yet on when and where it will be released.

mp3: France Has the Bomb -Invisible Angle (buy the Hozac Single)

mp3: France Has the Bomb – World of Mirrors (buy the Dusty Medical Single)