Friday, March 22, 2013
One of Glasgow's brightest young bands, Holy Esque, is releasing a new single on March 25. The trio provides a big, post-punk sound and distinctive, anthemic vocals, and this single lives up to our expectations.
And here is the video for the track --
We understand that an album is in the works, and we expect great things from it. You can check out more of their output at the Soundcloud link below.
Holy Esque are Pat Hynes (vocals/guitar), Keir Reid (keyboard), Hugo McGinley (guitar) and Ralph McClure (drums).
This week's Nugget comes to us from the great rock'n'roll city of Cleveland and the great rock'n'roll year of 1965.
The Outsiders had a fuller, more pop sound than much of the garage rock of the time, with excellent vocal harmonies, and added strings and horns. But underneath was a terrific garage rock beat and a super tight foundation. They had great hair too (check out the bass player in video below!).
Here they are singing over the recorded version on a 1966 TV show:
This song has always been a favorite of mine.
Today we introduce you to new band Free Time via their debut single, "Nothing But Nice". The band was founded in New York by Australian transplant Dion Nania. Nania's prior band was Panel of Judges, and he also worked with Aussie bands Scott and Charlene's Wedding and the Twerps when they were in the US. For me, "Nothing But Nice" has that great guitar sound displayed by bands from the southern hemisphere such as Australian bands The Go-Betweens and The Triffids, and the Flying Nun stable.
The members of Free Time are Dion Nania (vocals, guitar), Mike Mimoun (drums), Jonah Maurer (guitar), Adrienne Humblet (bass).
The debut album will be released by Underwater Peoples Records on May 28.
Label page for Free Time
Underwater Peoples Records
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Once upon a time (way back in the ancient early-'90s) there was a British band with the delightful name Bulldozer Crash. They played indie pop of the C86 and '90s Britpop variety, and they played it very well. And that is relevant because Chris, the head of Seattle's Jigsaw records -- a man possessed of excellent musical taste (which is the same thing as musical taste that reflects mine) -- compiled a 19-track retrospective collecting just about everything worth having from a productive period for Bulldozer Crash. The album, titled Today Will Be Yesterday So Soon: 1991 - 1993, was released in October 2012. If you are as fond of this genre as I am, you will be (1) highly impressed with the quality of the songs, and (2) dismayed at the band's lack of fame. I've picked out a three-song set for you (tracks 3-5 of the album) plus one from later in the album to show you the quality. You can stream the entire album at the Bandcamp link below. By the way, it is available as a physical CD and digital download, and the digital is only $7.
The primary members of Bulldozer Crash were Stephen Maughan and Marc Elston. Marc also was in Liberty Ship. Maughan was in Kosmonaut and heads a fanzine and CD-R label named This Almighty Pop!
Facebook for Bulldozer Crash
So-called "bedroom pop" usually is distinctively restrained, often precious. But Autumns proves that it doesn't have to be that way. With a microphone and his laptop, young Christian Donaghey, of Derry, Northern Ireland, creates his own "bedroom wall of sound". As of April 15, two tracks are available on a cassette single (and/or digital download) from Soft Power Records. The first track, "Keep On Sinking", is an eerie musical ride featuring pounding drums and atmospheric vocals drenched in feedback and distortion. The approach changes for "Who Would Have Thought", as the wall of sound parts enough to allow a roots guitar riff to become the focal point of the proceedings.
This is gloriously, wantonly damaged pop, and quite intriguing.
The physical release is limited to 100 copies, so we are bringing you early word in case you'd like to pre-order.
Soft Power Records
Twitter ( @AutumnsBand )
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
One of my favorite releases so far this year is the self-titled debut by Glasgow/London band Golden Grrrls (review here). As their US tour commences, a video of album track "Take Your Time" has been released. Of course it isn't as good as seeing them live, but it still provides a taste.
Golden Grrrls - Take Your Time from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.
I woke up this morning at said to myself "why don't we get more Rickenbacker 12 string music?" Now, you'll think I'm making that up to provide a journalistic crutch for my review of an album featuring a Rickenbacker 12 string. But the truth is a bit sadder. I wake up many mornings asking myself that question. So the odds were good that when Seattle band Shake Some Action! released Full Fathom Five, I'd have the right lead in. Sometimes, you just get lucky.
Lucky, indeed! Shake Some Action! headman James Hall's 14-track self-release may well end up being the power pop album of the year. And while our panel of judges award James bonus points for a group named after a Flamin' Groovies song, I suspect that he won't need that boost. The touchstones are there for your ears: Echoes of the early The Who, George Harrison's 12 string for the Beatles, Roger's unforgettable work for The Byrds, and the Hoodoo Gurus from James' native Australia. But James doesn't just deliver the jangle, he has written some very good songs with strong melodies and memorable hooks. To demonstrate the quality, I picked four songs at random so you can evaluate the album for yourself. Enjoy!
You can stream the entirety of Full Fathom Five here. But your time might be better spent purchasing the album so you can take it with you wherever you go.
Twitter ( @shakesomeaction )
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The Byrds were folkies who went electric and influenced generations of musicians which followed. The Byrds' power pop harmonies flowed directly from their folk roots. For many, The Byrds were David Crosby and Roger McGuinn and no one else. The Byrds were always Gene Clark for me. There were the twelve songs on their first album; Gene Clark wrote five of them of them and Bob Dylan wrote four. No Clark - no Byrds. Clark was with The Byrds only two years, but during that time he wrote the two of the songs which defined The Byrds as among the most influential in American music. Here are two defining songs penned by Clark for their first album, Mr. Tambourine Man. "Eight Miles High" has been covered by many different bands and artists, including, The Ventures, Leathercoated Minds, Lighthouse, Leo Kottke, Roxy Music, Ride, Robyn Hitchcock, and Husker Du.
Byrds bass player Chris Hillman stressed not only Clark's songwriting skill, but also his onstage charisma: "People don't give enough credit to Gene Clark. He came up with the most incredible lyrics. I don't think I appreciated Gene Clark as a songwriter until the last two years. He was awesome! He was heads above us! Roger wrote some great songs then, but Gene was coming up with lyrics that were way beyond what he was. He wasn't a well-read man in that sense, but he would come up with these beautiful phrases. A very poetic man--very, very productive. He would write two or three great songs a week". "He was the songwriter. He had the "gift" that none of the rest of us had developed yet.... What deep inner part of his soul conjured up songs like "Set You Free This Time," "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better," "I'm Feelin' Higher," "Eight Miles High"? So many great songs! We learned a lot of songwriting from him and in the process learned a little bit about ourselves. At one time, he was the power in the Byrds, not McGuinn, not Crosby—it was Gene who would burst through the stage curtain banging on a tambourine, coming on like a young Prince Valiant. A hero, our savior. Few in the audience could take their eyes off this presence." "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" upped the ante and further defined Gene Clark's lyrical gifts.
Clark's songs made people want to make music and and share in the joy of performing. Here is a recording of "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" from '66 by MRQ (Modern Rock Quintet), a group of 16 and 17 year olds from South Bend, Indiana. Barely old enough to drive - a great song helped them make great music.
The other was "The Virgin:"
This version is 46 years old and a reel to reel recording of a live gig on all 5,000 watts of WJVA AM1580.
After leaving the Byrds, Clark joined forces with Doug Dillard followed by the Gosdin Brothers. After poor selling, yet critically acclaimed, albums with both. Gene Clark went solo. His second solo album was White Light - also known as Gene Clark. The album was a source of inspiration for the guitar players in the dorm. A couple tracks were always being played by someone. "For a Spanish Guitar" has been on my personal rotation forever.
The other was "The Virgin:"
Omnivore Records is releasing Here Tonight: The White Light Demos on March 26. These recordings are Gene Clark at his purest - acoustic guitar and a clear voice. Of the tracks, six ("White Light," "For a Spanish Guitar," "Where My Love lies Asleep," the Virgin," "Because of You," and "With Tomorrow appeared in the final version of "White Light" Two (“Opening Day” and “Winter”) appeared in final form as bonus tracks on a 2002 reissue of the album. Three songs ("For No One", "Please Mr. Freud," and " Jimmy Christ" have never been issued in any form.
This music is an impeccable example of a singer/songwriter at the top of his game. You can buy it at the Omnivore Recordings Website.
CD Track List:
1. WHITE LIGHT
2. HERE TONIGHT
3. FOR NO ONE
4. FOR A SPANISH GUITAR
5. PLEASE MR. FREUD
6. JIMMY CHRIST
7. WHERE MY LOVE LIES ASLEEP
8. THE VIRGIN
9. OPENING DAY
10. WINTER IN
11. BECAUSE OF YOU
12. WITH TOMORROW
The components are simple: A guitar, a drum machine, and a woman with songs and a voice worthy of singing them. But I think we all know that many such combinations may not result in something that resembles art. Fortunately, on her new EP for Hardly Art, Sock it to Me, Colleen Green's version of the combination approaches magic. Green takes the twee, DIY garage ethic of The Vaselines, Beat Happening and Tiger Trap, combines it with some '60s girl-group vocals and sentiments, and then warps it into a unique package of rhythms, power chords and an angel's voice. The lyrics deal with real life in an un-jaded, accepting manner, and with a refreshing economy of words. Green, an unapologetic lover of weed, calls it stoner pop, but I caution anyone about dismissing it based on a two word description.
I was sold on this disc by the opening track. She performs it live below:
Green covers good boyfriends, bad boyfriends, the urge to withdraw from people and "Heavy Shit" (track 7) with clear eyes and a sense of humor. And even when the lyrics are dark, they don't beg for sympathy; Green knows we've all been through it too. The melodies and chord progressions are simple, but they are packed with earworm potential, and I've found myself humming them at various times over the past couple of weeks.
Green is from Massachusetts but resides in California. Her past recorded output was a well-received mixtape titled Milo Goes to Compton and a few shorter releases. She also has drawn some cartoons.
Sock it to Me is out now on Hardly Art. And it is quite completely, art.
Twitter ( @colleengreen420 )
Hardly Art page for Colleen Green
You know how sometimes people will get into hypothetical music discussions? "What if Jimi Hendrix had lived?" was always my favorite one, but there are infinite possibilities. Adrian Younge, an acclaimed hip-hop artist, producer and soundtrack composer, had one of his own (and I'm paraphrasing here): "what if someone like RZA had produced the Delfonics?"
The difference between most of us (me, certainly) and Younge is this: Younge actually has the talent, the wherewithal and the connections to make something like that happen. On Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics, he and William Hart (the original songwriter and possessor of that unforgettable falsetto) make an album that sounds, in places, like lots of music that might have been made over the last 40 years, but could have only been made now, by one of the greatest soul singers of all time and a rising star in the hip-hop and nu soul world.
Here's a free download:
Learn more and buy at Wax Poetics' website. And, though I know I've done it before, I will take a moment to rave about the music discovery and especially the quality of the writing in Wax Poetics magazine. If you're unfamiliar, you've got a treat in store. Pick an issue, any issue, and check it out.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Jason Molina died over the weekend. He was just 39 years old. He was exactly the type of artist this blog was started to promote - smart songwriter, edgy, unpretentious, hard to categorize but rooted in Americana and rock'n'roll, outside the mainstream.
Molina grew up in Lorain, Ohio. He attended Oberlin College. In was insanely prolific. In just 15 years, he released 19 LP's and 7 EP's. Most of them were released under the band name Songs:Ohia, which then morphed into Magnolia Electric Co.
His peers were Will Johnson, Jim James, Glen Hansard, and in a bigger sense Neil Young.
I never met Jason Molina and only know a few of those 19 LP's, but liked what I heard a great deal. I don't know exactly how he died, but news articles from today mention organ damage, rehab and the like. Academics reading this may chalk it up to yet another example of the Myth of the Romantic Artist, but I don't much care about abstract theory today.
This great songwriter existed in our midst, he made some magical music for us, he suffered, died and was buried. And unfortunately that's the end of the story in one very real sense, though the music lives on.
Here's a taste of what it was all about:
A very fine piece by Stephen Thompson was posted at NPR's site today: Jason Molina a folksinger who embodied the best of the blues has died
His band's official web site is well worth a read. And it's not too late to discover, appreciate, buy and fall in love with Jason Molina's music.
I have a royal headache over the fact that I missed the January 2011 release (2012 in the US) of Royal Headache from Sydney punk/garage band Royal Headache. These guys are shockingly good. They play fast and loud, like a good garage punk band should, and they play well, like a bad we feature here should. And they are further distinguished from the crowd by the soul-like stylings of their lead vocalist, Shogun. The other members of the band are Law (guitar), Joe (bass) and Shortt (drums).
Royal Headache was recorded by Mikey Young (who also recorded the great Dick Diver album we reviewed last week). It was released by R.I.P. Society in Australia and What's Your Rupture? in the United States.
There is a '60s retro feel to this one --
I featured the fine New Zealand band The Shifting Sands in January (our review here), and noted that I would have ranked their album Feel in my top albums for 2012 had I been aware of it in time. The band has released a video for the second single to be released from that album, "Worth Our While". I think you will enjoy it. The animation is by Veronica Brett.
By the way, we understand that The Shifting Sands will have a new album this year.