No Cruise Required to Appreciate These Glaciers

March 14, 2017 at 7:56 pm | Posted in Albums, Music, Vinyl | Leave a comment
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glaciersHere’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.

Buy a download or record of the Glaciers’ Living Right from Meritorio Records.

Cold Pumas Haunt in Overdrive

August 31, 2016 at 10:06 am | Posted in Albums, Music, Post-punk | Leave a comment
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cold pumas

The cover for the Hanging Valley, the second album from Brighton band Cold Pumas, looks like it is inspired by Salvador Dali. If you caught a glance of it in a record store or on line you might think that it was made by a group with prog rock tendencies and a penchant for mind altering substances. That take wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but if you were hoping for flutes and butterflies you might be in for a surprise. Long narrow shadowed bathtubs pink soap and odd falling vases aside, the Hanging Valley is a study in what happens when you start with angular post punk that gets co-opted by a motorik groove and then sometimes is doused with some ethereal washes of guitars.

LP number two is a decidedly stronger record with better songs and more varied sound. The band are clicking on this record and deftly pummel you with songs like Fugue States, the Slump and Slippery Slopes and then turn around an caress on A Change of Course and The Shaping of the Dream.  Like the best post-punk records the Hanging Valley has intensity about it that nearly overwhelms, but pulls back when it’s just at the brink.

Emergency Third Rail Power Triptych

May 13, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Posted in Music | Leave a comment
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girlsnames

Girls Names continue their upward trajectory by releasing an eleven minute opus called Zero Triptych. The Belfast band fly over a motorik beat that kicks up camel dust from an old trip that the Church took on Myrrh back in ’85 and then blasts off into a globular cluster of some nether region. Not bad for a song inspired by three panel paintings from the middle ages. Depending on your circumstances you might remember the Church and their song Myrrh. It was an obtuse song about wine, gold, personal favors, drum kits and the birth of Christ. Zero Triptch picks up where Kilby and company trailed off with the sound of aliens landing, obliterating space and time and taking us through a wormhole that dusts you with myrrh, frankincense and gold, skips over an obelisk, a couple monoliths and then leaves them all behind.

Word on the street is that this is going to be released only as a 12″ single and won’t be on their next album, so plan accordingly.

Crimson, Clover, Paisley and Monomyth

August 20, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Posted in 1990's, Albums, Canada, Music, Paisley, Psychedelic Pop | Leave a comment
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monomyth

When you think of bands from Halifax, Nova Scotia, if you don’t draw a blank, then you probably think of the 90’s grunge era bands like Sloan, Superfriendz and Thrush Hermit. You probably don’t think of jangly neo-psychedelic music and you most certainly wouldn’t think of bands like the Church, the Dylans, the Dentists, the Sneetches or Ultra Vivid Scene. Well, Monomyth are here to re-put Halifax on the map and change any previous ideas about what goes on up in the Canadian Maritime provinces.

The band have just released their debut album Saturnalia Regalia! on Mint records. It’s an accomplished record with great some great song featuring lush harmonies. The band features three songwriters in Seamus Dalton, Josh Salter, and Graeme Stewart, but they have a similar aesthetic and high quality which keeps the album engaging and interesting. Since this record arrived in the mail last week it’s been on constant rotation. Its bright songs and nods to obscure psychedelic bands without sounding too obvious make this one a keeper.

You can stream the entire album at the Monomyth’s bandcamp page and order up a vinyl copy over at Mint Records.

Rat Columns Emerge From the Murky Depths

June 13, 2014 at 9:21 pm | Posted in Albums, Australia, Music | Leave a comment
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ratcolumns

How many sweet spots lie between Wire‘s 154 and Of Skins and Heart by the Church? By my estimation there are at least a few hundred and Rat Columns second album hits a good many of them. The San Francisco by way of Australia band have just released their second album Leaf on Australia’s RIP Society records. It was recorded in San Francisco at Kelley Stoltz‘s Electric Duck Studios. Main Rat David West employed the aid of both Stoltz and Mikey Young (Total Control & Eddie Current Suppression Ring) to make the record.

Where the first Rat Columns album was murky and dense, album number two sheds opaqueness for sunnier realms and glistens in the pop sun. The first song Straight to hell with its shinny and shimmering guitar immediately lets you know that this Rat Columns album is a more immediate infectious beast than its predecessor. The second song Another day with its Cure-like synthy intro and bouncing bass reinforce the fact. You can just imagine Kelley Stoltz swinging by the control room while the band were recording and yelling ‘more pop’ and then sneaking in and dialing up the pop knob just a tad on each of these songs. There were hints and traces of pop genius on the previous album Sceptre Hole, but Leaves goes far beyond anything I was expecting. It still has some mystery to it and can be obtuse in parts the way Wire pushed the boundaries of art and punk on 154, but at its heart it’s in love with jangly bittersweet pop that the Church excelled at on Of Skins and Heart. A great unexpected record.

stream: Rat Columns – Another Day

stream: Rat Columns – Fooling Around

You can stream and buy the download of the album from Rat Columns’ bandcamp. If you’re in the US, Goner has vinyl copies for sale, or if you prefer you can order from RIP Society in Australia. Also, don’t miss Rat Columns on tour later this summer:

29-Aug FRI – SAN FRANCISCO w/ COLD BEAT
30-Aug SAT – OAKLAND
31-Aug SUN – SACRAMENTO
3-Sep WEDS – PORTLAND w/ RUBY PINS
4-Sep THURS – VANCOUVER w/ RUBY PINS? GET IN TOUCH!!!
5-Sep FRI – OLYMPIA w/RUBY PINS
6-Sep SAT – SEATTLE w/RUBY PINS
7-Sep SUN – BOISE w/ RUBY PINS
10-Sep WEDS – ST PAUL
11-Sep THURS – CHICAGO
12-Sep FRI – ANN ARBOR/DETROIT
13-Sep SAT – PITTSBURGH
14-Sep SUN – NEW YORK CITY
16-Sep TUES – BOSTON
17-Sep WEDS – PHILLY
18-Sep THURS – RICHMOND @ GALLERY FIVE
19-Sep FRI – LEXINGTON w/ IDIOT GLEE
20-Sep SAT – MEMPHIS w/ IDIOT GLEE
21-Sep SUN – HOT SPRINGS? w/ IDIOT GLEE
22-Sep MON – DALLAS w/ IDIOT GLEE: Three Links – Deep Ellum, TX, 2704 Elm St
23-Sep TUES – AUSTIN w/ IDIOT GLEE
26-Sep FRI – TUSCON / PHOENIX-TEMPE??? GET IN TOUCH!!!
27-Sep SAT – SAN DIEGO
28-Sep SUN – LOS ANGELES? GET IN TOUCH!!!

The Spires’ Wide Open Jangle

September 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm | Posted in Desert, Jangle, Music, Ocean | 1 Comment
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thespires-sashagreen

Ventura, California’s Spires know how to create space in the midst of jangle. Their latest album Eternal Yeahs is a unique melange of Byrds mixed with some Television, some Church, Tyde and a healthy dose of Flying Nun’s patented Dunedin sound. It’s a something uniquely influenced by the dust of the Southern California desert and the pacific rim. Wide open dusty spaces juxtaposed with the undulating horizon of the Pacific ocean.

A lot of jangly bands give a feeling of claustrophobia with their sound, but The Spires brand of jangle inspires feelings of wide openness. One song is a mouthful of dust from the desert and the next has you walking off of the desert sand into the ocean break. I think it must be related living on the pacific rim and having wide open spaces at one’s doorstep.

They kind of remind of Seattle’s Purrs. A west coast band that continues to put out quality albums and stay fairly close to home. They also similarly possess unquestionable knowledge of their musical roots combined with impeccable taste with the know how to employ an expert pace and sprinkle quality throughout a long player. s. Eternal Yeahs doesn’t blow iit all in its first three. It sustains over the course of of 40 unforgettable minutes and keeps a lasting glow.

You can get a digital download or order a CD of the new album via the Spires’ bandcamp page. If you’re into vinyl, I hear their is a petroleum version of the album on the way soon.

stream: The Spires – Live At The Ghost Park

So You Want To Be a Rock n’ Roll Star

August 25, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Posted in Music, Paisley, Paisley Underground, Singles, Vinyl | 1 Comment
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youngsinclairs

Remember when the Church consistently pumped out great record after great record in the early 80’s and got little to no acclaim? Then Under the Milky Way came out and suddenly everyone was like, “The Church!”

Roanoke, Virgina’s the Young Sinclairs continue to pump out the paisley in 2013. You Know Where to Find Me is their fourth 7-inch single this year and there is no let-down in quality found here.  One of these days they’re going to release their Under the Milky way and everyone is going to be all, “The Young Sinclairs!” The songs are there, but they don’t tour much and they’re from the backwater or Roanoke so consequently not very many people hear about them.

You Know Where To Find Me is a near perfect four song single from the band. Records like these seem to roll off their backs like water from a duck, and by my count they’ve got at least three Under the Milky Ways already.  I think that if they decided to really start to tour extensively people might start to take notice of this Roanoke band hiding out underneath the stars in Virginia.

A a small tour of the East Coast is in the works for fall 2013, here are the dates. No Seattle date yet. Bummer.

Sep 13 – Bazaar Consignments, Roanoke, VA
Sep 20 – The Well, Richmond, VA
Sep 21 – Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA
Sep 22 – Cake Shop, New York, NY

stream: The Young Sinclairs – You Know Where To Find Me (you can buy the single from Darla)

The Stevens Moving Into the Fast Lane

February 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Posted in 7 inch, Australia, Jangle-pop, Music | Leave a comment
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Even Stevens

Pop lovers who love melodic dissonance (aka jangle-pop) on vinyl rejoice. The fine folks at the Melbourne based Chapter Music are set to release the Stevens eponymous six song EP. In case you missed last year’s Finest-Kiss-Melbourne-Extravaganza, the Stevens are pure pop brilliance smack dab in the middle of that current brilliant Melbourne pop scene.

The band self-released the EP last year on on homemade cassettes, CD’s and downloads, but now it’s about to get released as a seven-inch single. That’s not all, the band are putting the finishing touches on an album they are recording with the ubiquitous Mickey Young which they hope to have out before the end of the year.

If you’re a Stevens freak (like I am) be sure to pick up  a copy of the the Vacant Valley compilation Rough End of the Stick which contains an additional Stevens song Turpin Falls.

Stream: The Stevens – I Look Back (The EP is available now from bandcamp and in April on vinyl from Chapter Music)

Boomgates Do It Naturally

September 27, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Posted in Australia, Music, Track-by-track | 1 Comment
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There is something about certain Australian bands and records: The Go-Betweens‘ 16 Lovers Lane, Paul Kelly and Coloured Girls‘ Gossip, the Triffids’ Born Sandy Devotional, the Church‘s Of Skins and Heart, the Lucksmiths‘ Warmer Corners, the Saints‘ I’m Stranded, Twerps‘ debut, Eddy Current Suppression Ring‘s Rush to Relax. A diverse set of albums, but all them have something about them that sets them apart and makes them distinctly Australian. They have a sense of  urgency and isolation, a poetry about them and a way of sounding laid-back while singing about intense and decidedly unlaid-back  topics in their songs.  Yes, you could argue that the Saints and ECR don’t sound laid back, but the Saints brand of punk had a sense of space and playfulness about it (especially on their second album) that set it apart from your typical punk band of the day.

The Boomgates debut album released earlier this month on Bedroom Suck deserves to be included in this list of great Australian records.It’s a ray of sunshine, a faded photo, a favorite tattered shirt, a perfect companion and a kick in the pants. So good, I had to go track by track to review it.

Flood Plain – could be about a relationship, the downfall of our civilization or simply about how some people inexplicably build their houses in flood plains. The take-away of course is don’t think it can’t happen to you because the next 100 year flood is right around the corner.

Layman’s Terms – This gets a dust off from last year’s 7-inch, but even I, who listened to this song way too many times on a 7-inch have not grown tired of this beauty that harkens back to the Go-Betweens beauty.

Cows Come Home – This one reminds me a little of a Bats or Magic Heads song (“Hold all the butter till the cows come home” anyone?). Steph Hughes voice is so sweet on this, Huntly’s spoken word part lends some gravity, and the line “Because I’m a hundred years old” lends a sense that this was written by an old soul

Natural Progression – The guitar riff sounds like a super slowed down ECR song. “I got stuck in a lift went down”. Huntly and Hughes sing the entire song together and there are parts where it sounds like he’s dominating and parts where she does. There are some great harmonies that remind me a little of Free Design and Veronica Falls. Self-doubt ensues, “I’m making mountains out of mole hills”

Cartons and Cans – A song about recycling? No, of course not.  “There are so many things I should do that should have already done.” The whistling is flawlessly done. Any band that can incorporate a whistling part and not make you cringe is operating at higher level.

Whispering and Singing – Side two kicks off with a freight train through the bedroom.  Huntly sing’s “Don’t know when you’re leaving” and it sounds like a train whistle while the rhythm section chugs along. Firehose wrote a song called Whisperin’ and Hollerin’. Whispering and Singing probably has nothing to do with Firehose, but it reminds me of them and this is a good thing. Boomgates are ragin’ full-on here.

Hold Me Now – Not the Thompson Twins song. This is a nice one, but it’s kind of a break from the full-on, no let up that this record has been to this point. Even a lesser song by the Boomgates sounds pretty good. Expertly sequenced to allow for a rest, and quite a nice siesta it is.

Hanging Rock – Jangly into. “I gave it all with my genuine leather, you gave me more with your 100% cotton blend.” Friends become lovers, pull their socks up to picknick at a Hanging Rock and then fall apart. Infatuation and those first moments. Newness and the constant search for that initial feeling. Fleeting. That’s why it’s so great. Anything that good and intense will never last. Well maybe it will if you pull your socks up and keep listening.

Everything – “All the dishes keep piling in the sink”, reminds me of my college days. Living with five other guys and no one would do their dishes. Man, it made me feel like dying old. The drums keep building and building while the guitars get more intense. Finally either someone dies or does the dishes. I’d like to think that he did the dishes before he died.

Any Excuse – Every album needs a great closing song. Actually does it? Does anyone listen to a record all the way through in a sitting. I do, and I appreciate it when a band has the sense to put a song at the end that sounds like it should go at the end. The guitar sounds like it was directly lifted from the Velvet Underground which is no bad thing. It also has a little bit of a honky-tonk feel to it.  Huntly ends up in a two minute refrain about turning the soil, watering your garden, giving it love, and watching it grow.  Amen!

The Boomgates album is out in Australia. If you live there hit up Bedroom Suck. In the States head to Goner or Amazon if you’re looking for mp3’s.

Crushed Stars, Rattlesnakes and the Apple Boutique

May 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Posted in Melancholia, Music | 1 Comment
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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.

mp3: Crushed Stars – Brighter Now (from In the Bright Rain on Simulacra)
[audio http://home.comcast.net/~finestkiss2/chansons/CrushedStars-BrighterNow.mp3]

A big thanks to the fine folks at Austin Town Hall for writing about Crushed Stars a few months ago.

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