The Inaugural Monthly Top Ten List

You may have noticed that I’ve been struggling to keep up around here: fewer and fewer posts, overflowing in box, long beard and unclipped nails. In an effort to get back on track and clean myself up I’m going to try and start doing a top ten list for each month of things that I’ve neglected to post about in the past month. Well, I’m already behind seeing as it’s October and I’m doing a top ten for September. Before it gets any later, here are ten things from the last month that merit some recognition.

1. The Aislers Set at Neumos

Aislers Set at Neumo's, Seattle

The Aislers Set breifly reunited for the Chickfactor 20th anniversary shows back in 2012. I saw that show and it was good, but seeing them a couple weeks ago in Seattle was even better. This was a brief West coast tour celebrating the reissue of all three of their LP’s from the 90’s (Slumberland & Suicide Squeeze). Linton and company were in top form this night performing their glistening pop that never got old.

2. The Intelligence at Lo-Fi

The Intelligence at the Lo-Fi, Seattle
Sadly the Intelligence are no longer based in Seattle, so the opportunities to see them live have greatly decreased since Lars Finberg’s migration to L.A. Other things have changed as well, This is not your kid brother’s Intelligence. Although this was a release party for reissue of their first LP Boredom and Terror (In the Red), they played a bunch of new songs that featured a powerful rhythm section and meaty jam sections to them. A far cry from the bedroom tape hiss of that first record. No, they haven’t turned into Phish, but they’ve evolved into something even more formidable than before. Can’t wait to hear the new album!

3. Fresh Hop Beer

It’s harvest time and up here in the pacific NW, and that means hops. Fresh hop beer is made with hops just picked off the vine and when it’s done right, it’s a fruity mouthful of flavorful beer. You have to be quick though, because it’s made in limited quantities and it goes fast. Recommended ones that I’ve tasted this year include Fremont’s Cowiche Canyon, Fort George Fresh IPA and Schooner Exact’s Amarillo Fresh Hop. Still hoping to get a taste of Bale Breaker’s Piled High!

4. Erik Blood – Cannons Vol. 1 
Erik Blood, the guy that made a shoegaze record about porn has switched gears slightly into electronics and motorik beats. His new four song EP (free to download at his bandcamp) features Mahogany’s Andrew Prinz and Shabazz Palaces’ Ishmael Butler.

5. Fat White Family – I Am Mark E Smith 
I was nonplussed over Fat White Family’s debut album last year, but this new single has got my attention. They may be claiming to be the Fall front man, but they sound like they’ve been hanging out with David J and Daniel Ash.

6. Primitives – Spin-o-Rama 7″ 
The Primitives have a perfect pop single in Spin-o-Rama. It’s Bright and sunny. It’s got hand claps. It’s under three minutes and leaves you wanting more. You hear it once and you can immediately sing it. I defy you to to find a more immediately infectious song that’s come out this year.

7. Go-Betweens Box Set – G Stands for Go-Betweens (Domino)

Just the other day I was pining for someone to reissue the Go-Betweens catalog on vinyl, since I never see them in the used bins. I should have been more specific in my wishing and added that they be individually released and affordable. Domino announced last week that they are planning a box set containing the first four Go-Be’s LP’s and four CD’s of rare stuff. It’s due to be released in January of 2015 and it’s only $160. Looks like I’ll still be scouring the used bins. Oh well.

8. Tacocat – Bridge To Hawaii (Hardly Art)
In between listening to and singing songs from Frozen my daughter will sing or play Tacocat’s Bridge to Hawaii. The first time this happened I did a double take and couldn’t figure out where she heard it. I like to think she heard it from me, but with kids these day’s you don’t want to ruin it for them by letting them know you like it too.

9. Butter the Children – True Crime 
When Brooklyn’s Sweet Bulbs split up after releasing one stellar self-titled LP, two bands immediately emerged from their ashes. The Butter the Children sect (Heaven’s Gate is the other sect) continue the warbly, spazzed-out guitar attack of Sweet Bulbs and feature Sweet Bulbs singer Inna but she’s more forward in the mix which I think makes for a unique and better combination. The band put up their album on bandcamp as a free download. I don’t know if this means they gave up trying to get it released by a label, broke up, or are simply a benevolent noise pop band.

10. Flowers – Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do (Kanine)
I wasn’t sure after the first few listens to Flowers debut album. They seemed to have toned down the noise for something more subtle. Recording with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler the London trio won me over with their minimalist approach that evokes the sparseness of Young Marble Giants, the smart intensity of the Spinnanes and the melancholy melodies of Everything But the Girl.

Fell from a Cloud: Eternal Summers, Bleeding Rainbow & Zebra Hunt at the Sunset

Eternal Summers, Bleeding Rainbow & Zebra Hunt at the Sunset Tavern, Seattle | 8 September 2012

Someone yelled out in between songs of Eternal Summers set Saturday at the Sunset, “I just want to move to Roanoke!”  Nicole Yun deadpanned back, “Be careful what you wish for.” Yun and her band Eternal Summers are from Roanoke, Virginia, so it wasn’t exactly encouragement. Even so I can see the potential attraction. These days southern Virgina is dotted with attention deserving bands like White Laces, Super Vacations, Young Sinclairs and Wild Nothing, but Eternal Summers are my favorite. The bounty in the South right now reminds me of late 80’s when there was a highway of great pop from Mitch Easter‘s Drive-in studio in North Carolina all the way down to REM‘s hometown of Athens, Georgia.

Eternal Summers second album Correct Behavior deftly combines the sweet pop of Belly, moodiness of the Cure, attitude of Smashing Pumpkins and the angular bounce of Pylon. Behavior is a huge leap forward from their debut Silver in both songwriting and production. It’s one of the year’s best records and the trio ably put on a show to rival the record.

Now officially a trio, which according to Mr. Robert Forster (I am in accordance with and Eternal Summers prove),  the purest form of rock and roll expression. They ripped through an hour long set that did not have a single let down. Millions, You Kill, I Love You, Prisoner, Wonder and Disappear all delivered the goods. Drummer Daniel Cundiff even snuck in his ace Girls In the City. Yun’s singing easily rivaled the squall created by the band and she is also no slouch on guitar either. Many of her leads sounded like there were two guitarists. My only complaint about the show was how sparsely attended it was especially for a Saturday night. Has word not gotten out about how great this band is, or has everyone moved to Roanoke?

mp3: Eternal Summers – You Kill (from Correct Behavior on Kanine)

Eternal Summers are on tour with Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow (né Reading Rainbow). Previously a duo they’ve expanded to a four piece and kind of reinvented their sound. I like the new direction, it combines the 60’s Topanga Canyon with effects laden guitars similar to territory that the Telescopes were exploring in shoegaze heyday of the early 90’s. Look for a new album from them early next year on Kanine.

stream: Bleeding Rainbow – Pink Ruff

Seattle’s own Zebra Hunt opened the show. Their Dunedin sound by way of Ballard, which I can’t get enough of at the moment, sounded great. They played all three songs from their darling bandcamp EP and threw in a very appropriate cover of the Clean‘s Oddity. Like I needed another reason to like these guys.

Young Prisms Almost Nearly There

Young Prisms at the Comet, Seattle | 25 February 2012

According to the how-to book on shoegaze there are a couple things that a band must posses to be considered descent. You must hero worship Dinosaur Jr. The guitar wizardry of J Mascis is well known and many of the early shoegaze bands noted him as influence. Second, you must have great bass player. You might think this to be counter-intuitive, but anyone can buy a bunch of effects pedals and pipe their guitar through them, but you need something solid to drape those washes of guitars over.

Young Prisms can put check marks next to both of those items. Saturday night at the Comet, the quintet crammed themselves onto the Comet stage with the lead guitarist sporting a Dino Jr cow t-shirt. Check.  As they began to play the bass is up in the mix, almost too much, giving the twin guitar attack something to hang itself on. Check.

I’ve liked a lot of the records that Young Prisms have released to date, but I haven’t really loved one. That is all about to change when the band  release their second album In Between on Kanine at the end of March. They’ve tempered their noisy side and allowed the dreamier parts of them to take over. In Between has distinct and obvious shoegaze influences, but it also has a more straightforward pop element to it. There are songs like Gone that remind me of Velocity Girl‘s Simpatico album, maybe because when guitarist Matt Allen sings he sounds like Archie Moore. Others have some keyboard flourishes that bring a slight Cure feel to them. So it’s not all Kevin Shields worship in the Young Prisms camp, there’s a diversity of influences evident in their songs.

Live, many of the above nuances weren’t identifiable. Main vocalist Stefanie Hodapp doesn’t have a strong voice and she was often overpowered by the rest of the band. This might not have been a problem in a place with a better sound system that could separate the vocals out from the rest of the mix a bit more.  Seeing them live you also realize that nearly all of their songs are about the same tempo. They would benefit greatly by having one or to Twisterella’s , Duel’s or Soft As Snow But Cold Inside’s to liven it up a little more. Those are minor complaints, they generated a formidable maelstrom that more than held my interest. Their new album is a winner and with more touring I bet these new songs will get their show legs. I’m a believer, all I needed was good bass player and a Dino Jr. t-shirt to confirm.

Stream: Young Prisms – Floating In Blue (from In Between)

Eternal Summers Wanna Be Your Tugboat Captain

For some reason, I keep seeing the Eternal Summers described as sunny, beachy garage rock.  The music blog police should be retracting blogger’s licenses for such egregiously erroneous statements.  I doubt that Eternal Summers have ever recorded or played on a beach or in a garage.  They are more reclusive basement rock, probably preferring to play in only damp basements under the light of a single pull-string bulb instead of natural light.

After a 10″ EP released earlier this year on Chimney Sweep that caught my attention, the Roanoak, Virginia duo follow it up with their first album Silver which is to be released on Kanine Records on September 28th.  Listening to Silver I hear a ton of influences and most of them are early 90’s references.  The Spinanes come to mind first, but maybe because the Spinanes were a boy/girl, guitar/drums duo too. Nicole Yun has a big strong voice that implants her easy melodies quickly into your long-term memory. Sometimes she sounds exactly like Bridgette Cross, and her ringing, jangling, well spaced guitars reinforce the Unrest comparisons and invite some Young Marble Giants too.    Their name may give the impression that they revel in sunshine and chase the summer round the globe, but their sound belies a moodier disposition, one that secretly wishes for gray skies, and constant drizzle. Weather that provides the perfect excuse to sit alone at home listening to these songs on a gray day, like you use to do with Galaxy 500, Throwing Muses and the like.

mp3: Eternal Summers – Dye

mp3: Eternal Summers – Pogo

Head over to Kanine Records to order Silver and the digital single Pogo which comes with two exclusive B-sides one of them a Beatles cover.

In other Eternal Summers news, they have recorded a version of  the  Guided By Voices song A Salty Salute that can be found on the new Guided by Voices tribute tape on Wild Animal Kingdom…which appears to be sold out already.