Funky as you like for Flynn! From Michigan's Third Coast Kings and 2014.
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
This gives an idea of what new stuff I've been listening to over the last month. Unfortunately, no Spotify access to the mighty new Ty Segall album Freedom's Goblin, my favourite record of January which I'll be reviewing soon.
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
One of my favourite tracks of the year thus far. Mika Dora the taster single for the new Amen Dunes album, entitled Freedom and out in March. In honour of a legendary Hungarian-born counterculture surfer. In the words of Damon McMahon, who is effectively Amen Dunes:
'Mika Dora was arguably the most gifted and innovative surfer of his generation and the foremost opponent of surfing's comercialization. He was also a lifelong criminal and retrograde: a true embodiment of the distorted male psyche. He was a living contradiction; both a symbol of free-living and inspiration, and of the false heroics American culture has always celebrated. With lyrics of regret and redemption at the end of one's youth,s and the song is about Dora, and myself, but ultimately it is a reflection on all manifestations of mythical heroic maleness and its illusions.'
The song just glides...
I have to admit that when starting listening through to Brighton's Dream Wife's eponymous debut album yesterday I was somewhat cynical. They seemed to smack to me of hype, something I'm always slightly cynical of and more so with the passing years, or else an art conceit which always walks a fine line. But listening to it I was won over by one thing or the other, mostly the quality of the songs, and when I came to the end of the record I duly listened straight through to it again.
They'll certainly remind you of certain things. I was variously minded of Yeah Yeah Yeah's Elastica, Girl Riot and other Punky concerns. Singer Alice Go's, nervy but energetic delivery recalled Cerys Matthews and even Life Without Buildings wonderful Sue Tompkins at various points. When they're at their most self-conscious, (and they are very self-conscious), they veer too close to Franz Ferdinand territory for my personal taste. But the band have a definite identity and ambition of their own and Dream Wife certainly isn't wanting for strong songs and something to say. The record did it for me for the most point despite being aimed at a much younger audience than me and I suspect it will grow on me more with further spins. So that's a thumbs up from over here.
Monday, January 29, 2018
Sunday, January 28, 2018
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Austin Texas Punk / New Wave band of the late seventies. They were refreshingly melodic and dynamic, something of a precursor for Mission of Burma. They only released a solitary 7 inch, the aptly, (for it's time), titled I Wanna Die Young. Newly anthologised for 2018 Recordings collects other studio and live recordings and is just out.
Friday, January 26, 2018
The current project of Krist Novolesic, bassist of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain's right hand man, Giants in the Trees released their self-titled debut album last November. It irrigates the same seeds as the best of the Grunge sound, a churning, dark, ominous but fertile noise, just as informed by Folk and Blues instincts and legacies as Metal and Punk ones. But most of all it minds me of the best moments of those Seattle associated bands, Screaming Trees, Soundgarden, Meat Puppets and yes Nirvana and what they should sound like twenty five years and more onwards. It's a joyous and understated achievement and it seems certain that Kurt himself would have approved.
Thursday, January 25, 2018
A new record that I can't post directly from but hope to be able to soon is This Is Glue, the excellent second album from New Zealand band Salad Boys. It's full of open hearted strumming in the noble tradition of The Chills, The Bats, The Feelies and early R.E.M. Twelve songs of melodic invention that prove, (if further evidence is needed), that the spirit of Rock and Roll is still alive and well, at least in The Antipodes.
Bobby Gillespie, who was an arbiter of taste back in the Nineties. And he was right. Partly because of the ridiculous rap in the middle of the song. Which was very, very Nineties.
Of course the passing of Mark E. Smith is a seismic musical moment. I confess that I was somewhat ambivalent when hearing the news as I have slightly mixed feelings about the man. However, looking back over the blog over the years a significant number of posts have been devoted to him or his band and some of their stuff I do rate very highly and am aware of how significant this moment is for many. So here are The Fat White Family.
You couldn't make this stuff up. New Yoik attitude is back with a new album from a duo called QTY who trace the line from Reed through Thunders, Verlaine and Casablancas and on from this to 2018 as if nothing at all has really changed since even though we know very well of course that it has.
Some of these songs come from their self-titled debut, released at the tail end of last year, some don't. In any case they're all of a piece. They all have that ready, lazy drawl that very much hangs out in the same schoolyard as The Strokes used to, as if one break time Casablancas had decided to form a band with Kimya from the Moldy Peaches. So while originality is an issue, hey it was an issue with The Strokes too but that was a large part of their ready, languid charm.
Well written songs, all as laid back as you could possibly want. All coffee shop cool and minor recreational drug habits. QTY won't change the world the way The Strokes did but they will make those who love this kind of stuff as much as they did the first time they ever heard it, rather happy.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Liminanas represent a certain idea of rebel cool that is beginning to look slightly tatty and worn at the edges now we're in 2018. It's not particularly difficult to define. Like Black Rebel Motorcycle, (who have also re-appeared recently with a new album), it all revolves around wearing sunglasses and black leather at all times and singing songs of existential cool that occupy the space between Suicide and The Velvet Underground and frankly don't take too many risks.
It's pretty clear what I'm talking about. Those two bands, The Stooges, The Ramones and Jesus & Mary Chain forged paths once upon a time. The likes of Raveonettes, Vacant Lots,Crocodiles, Black Rebel Motorcycle and Liminanas, (with their new album Shadow People) frankly don't. They create lifestyle music for people who like the idea of a dark edge.
Liminanas have the added advantage of being French. So they can chuck all of the dark magic of that language and most of all the indefinable allure of Serge Gainsbourg into the mix. These are the most attractive moments of Shadow People for me. I recommend the track Dimanche particularly. Elsewhere Anton Newcombe and Peter Hook guest and things tread water slightly and all the while the backing vocals go 'Na,na,na...', like the Mary Chain back in '86.
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Maybe it's the way that Shopping's new album The Official Body is growing on me so with every listen. Maybe it's the fact that Protomarytr's Relatives in Distress was my album of 2017. Whatever it is, it felt like time to post a Post Punk playlist of records released over the past couple of years that fit within that broad description.
So here are twenty songs from twenty bands that draw in some way from that rich source category. Joy Division, Pere Ubu, Gang of Four, Delta 5, Pylon, Josef K, Suicide, Devo, PiL, Simple Minds, The Pop Group, No Wave and other usual suspects feature somewhere in the DNA of most of these bands somewhere. Some of them play it relatively straight like Omni and Preoccupations. Some take it somewhere fresh and new like Palm, Ought and Algiers. Regardless of the approach all of these bands have something to recommend them. Add Australian's Total Control who haven't released anything for a while and you have many of the very finest bands around at the minute.
Perhaps it's the bleakness of our times that encourages this approach. Certainly we're living through strange days which encourage a leftfield perspective on the world. No need really for manifestos anyhow. I just hope you enjoy the playlist!
Preoccupations, ( formerly Viet Cong before objections from their audience led them to make a name change), have a new song called Espionage which illustrates their intense Post Punk thing well, (not a million miles from Interpol it might be said), ahead of a forthcoming record. Dance to the radio!
The soundtrack is a great mix of Seventies Punk and tunes from Dorothea's altogether different childhood days. Here's one of the latter.
I wasn't really sure what I thought about Tune-Yards new album I can feel you creep into my private life as I started listening through to it yesterday. Popular music has a long history of musicians charting the process of people effectively becoming machines, going back to Kraftwerk who probably did it all best and first. Tune-Yards initially seem like just another act to add to that tottering pile. However, I found myself warming to the record the longer I listened to it, mostly for the moments when humanity leaks from out of it leaving the listener feeling strangely disquiet. The ghost in the machine. By the end of it I was quite enchanted. The rhythms and melodies also become more oddly alluring the further through the album that you get and the invention behind the whole exercise became more and more fascinating. Certainly an exercise of ideas as well as beats in the grand tradition of Bowie, Eno and Byrne. Here are a couple of tracks from the record.
Monday, January 22, 2018
I had to put this on twice before I heard it once tonight at Rosie's this evening. But it was worth the wait!
The least attractive thing about the young British trio Shopping to me is their name. I look to popular entertainment for an escape from the mundane, not a reminder of its ubiquity. Everything else about them though is a delight, and most specifically their new album release The Official Body. It's their third since 2013 and it's a fizzy Post Punk treat. Very much following down the road that was initially paved by Delta 5, ESG, Au Pairs and Pylon in the early Eighties, they make something which has roots which are almost middle aged sparkly and new.
The Official Body is produced by Edwyn Collins, verily a Godfather of all this kind of stuff and he does a sterling job. Voices and instruments are neatly defined and delineated in the mix with the call and response between front pairing Rachel Aggs and Billy Easter a constant joy. Ten tracks in all, all of them drawing from the same source and dancing forward in that strangely Post Punky onstage hopping style towards spring.
Get Away, the opening song from Alabama band Belle Adair's latest record Tuscumbia is a glorious throwback. Starting off with beautifully realised group harmonies, you're minded immediately of Teenage Fanclub in their Bandwagonesque prime, channelling the spirit of Big Star's still quite timeless early Seventies records. The album drives on from there, all chiming melodicism and yearning, open hearted songsmithery. While Fanclub, Big Star, Byrds and Beatles inevitably haunt every groove of this album, it's lovingly and skillfully crafted, Belle Adair, (appropriately a 'B' band themselves), have written those songs those others somehow never got round to just for you.
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Features in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Illinois in a finely choreographed bar room scene. One of the best things Baez ever did and possibly the equal of the Band original.
The second album this year that really takes my fancy and as with Go! Team it hails from Brighton. A Pessimist is Never Disappointed, the incredibly fruitful and insightful blog listed on the right hand side of this page, directed me to the new one from The Fiction Aisle, Jupiter Florida. I'm incredibly grateful and am now doing my bit and commending the record to you. Thomas White, the guiding force behind the band has a credible indie CV in Brakes and Electric Soft Parade. Here he expresses a rather different and more thoughtful vision.
The Fiction Aisle are an elegaic concern. Musing on the passage of time and how life happens to us just as much as us being conductors of it. With a sound supplemented by woodwind and burbling almost eighties synth to augment the standard indie trimmings, the record pleasingly recalls the likes of The Clientele and Blue Nile, characters who were content to haunt the margins of the Pop World.
It's one of the more exciting albums to appear in 2018, a year that I've already complained has taken a while to get going, for me at least, musically. Jupiter Florida does its bit to make amends. A fine record with a quiet and achieved inner ambition.
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Twentieth Century Women, a film which came out last year focuses on California at the end of the Seventies. With a teenage boy surrounded by strong females and immersing himself in the Punk and New Wave experience, it's an interesting film with an interesting soundtrack.
In one memorable scene the Annette Benning mother character comes into the boy's room and finds him and a female friend listening to the first Raincoats album. She can't understand why anyone would want to and the conversation goes as follows:
'Dorothea (Benning): What is that?
Abigail: It's The Raincoats.
Dorothea: Can't things just be pretty?
Jamie: Pretty music is used to hide how unfair and corrupt society is.
Dorothea: Ah, OK, (sits on bed). So they're not very good and they know that. Right?
Abigail: Yeah. It's like they have all this feeling. And they don't have any skill. And they don't want skill. Because it's really interesting what happens when your passion is bigger than the tools you have to deal with it. It creates this energy that's raw. Isn't it great?
Dorothea doesn't respond.'
This conversation may never have actually taken place but it is a revealing one and illustrates well some of the films quite original concerns.
Indie guitar melodicism in the classic eighties Felt, early Primal Scream and Field Mice sense, Fits & Starts, the new album from Portland's A Certain Smile from late last year evokes an aching, poignant longing that we all remember from seventeen. It's all terribly skilfully done. Nine short songs in all so perhaps it falls slightly short of classic status but nevertheless while it jangles in the sun it does so with a determined sensitivity and delicacy.
Friday, January 19, 2018
Pitchfork, that avatar of modern hipster taste, gives Semicircle, the fifth album from Brighton's eclectic Go! Team, (just out), a somewhat desultory and damning review. It's old hat they smirk, the outfit haven't moved on since they first appeared the best part of fifteen years ago. This is strictly yesterday's news.
Well screw that. The record is a breath of fresh air, just what's needed as we wend our way towards the end of January that's been bereft of exciting new music to herald in 2018. Semicircle is an injection of freshness and vitality. I love what Go! Team do, they're a warm pick and mix of school gym vitality, hip-hop beats, exotic sountracks, cool as can be record collections and happiness spontaneity and positivity of the kind you won't find on the pages of Pitchfork too often frankly.
Very, very Brighton as anyone who will ever have lived there in their youth will recognise. It made me feel as if I was wandering the lanes. Just occasionally development is an overrated concept if you came upon the right formula in the first place and it still sounds fresh years down the line. Such is the case with Semicircle!
Khruangbin, Texan band with a Thai name and a definite fascination for things from that part of the World. This is a taster for their forthcoming album called Friday Morning which I thought it might be an idea to post on a... erm... Friday morning.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
In a January where very few records of note have stuck their head above the parapet, young London band Shame's debut album Songs of Praise is a worthy effort. The band have been putting out a succession of great sounding songs over the last twelve months or so and Songs brings many of them together. With The Fall, a clear and evident inspiration, they also remind me of The Wolfhounds, an eighties outfit who also took Mark E. Smith's bunch as a starting point but layered their sound with more melodic embellishments. Shame do something quite similar.
'My nail's ain't manicured. My voice ain't the best you've heard. any you can choose to hate my words...' sings their singer in One Rizla. It's all admirably flippant, choosing not to buy into the aspirational circus and happy just to be young and righteous while they still are. Quite right too! Songs of Praise doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it does appreciate and understand the miracle of its creation.
The West Coast Pop Experimental Band. As good an example of a certain sort of hipster taste as you could want. And here they come up with an utter gem of a Pop song.
Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
The wonderful Christopher Owens, formerly of Girls, returned late last year with a new band a four song EP called Vante. He's gone from Girls to Curls and bases himself on Haight Ashbury,San Francisco. One of the very few stars we have, and that's not measured in status but talent and allure, these songs don't yet capture the staggering impact of the last Girls album 2011's Father, Son, Holy Ghost but they do auger well for whatever comes next for Curls.
Gentle & Kind, joins the dots between Lennon, Chilton, Parsons and Nilsson, Owens strength is not just his knowledge of this stuff but his skill at re-crafting it, his ability to emote like it's still 1972. Emotion is slightly too shameless in lifting the riff and swing of Sweet Jane for its chassis for my liking. Nevertheless, Owens remains one that needs to be watched!
Monday, January 15, 2018
The jukebox at Rosie's at its best is a communal place and it was just that at the end of last night as regulars gathered at the end of the buskers session. The brothers Stu and Neil turned up late and this is a favourite of Stu's. A local song, as Lindisfarne are a Newcastle band, and frankly it sounded great!
Yet another Melbourne guitar band. Right now you get the impression that they're coming out of the taps. This, Sweet Bells Jangled from their 'fashionably late' second album from last year Time Catches Up With Milk Teddy, does indeed jangle sweetly, somewhere in the imaginary space between Teenage Fanclub and The Shins. The whole album is worthy of exploration.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
Seattle three-piece who've been recording and playing live since 2004. These two tracks come from last year and reported to be their last together. If so they're fine examples of how to go out at the very top of your game. There's an exploratory wonder and guile here that Patti herself or Sonic Youth would doff their caps to.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Lest we forget. Hearing that new Nap Eyes material encouraged me to revisit their glorious previous release Thought Rock Fish Scale. Here's what I wrote about that at the tail end of 2016.
Second portion of Nap Eyes today. Their two albums, from the last two years Whine of the Mystic and Thought Rock Fish Scale are really companion pieces. Fluid and free form within the confines of Indie Guitar music, they're a delight.
Mid to late Velvet Underground are the key influence here but Nap Eyes channel it cleverly in their own direction and it sounds very much a 2016 record. Slackers, but quietly confident ones.
Halifax, Nova Scotia's Nap Eyes, have new material forthcoming. Keepers of a sacred flame their first two records were stoner classics. And here's a wonderful taster for their new album, I'm Bad Now, due in March. They do that loose limbed, late sixties/ early seventies, Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman thing better than any band I know of on the planet at the moment. But this is no dewey eyed nostalgia exercise. These boys are classicists. An early marker is laid for 2018!
Friday, January 12, 2018
One fine album I neglected in the stampede last year was the self-titled debut album from American Singer Songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews. I can make amends early in 2018 with this taster from her second which is coming up the pike.
Thursday, January 11, 2018
There's nothing that the sad likes of me relishes more than unearthing a largely forgotten classic such as this. The Vertebrats were a Garage / Punk band, active in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois region between 1979 and 1982. This song, Left in the Dark was covered over the years by The Replacements, Uncle Tupelo and Courtney Love. It has a special, dark energy, full of the snarling invective of the very best of the Nuggets band upgraded for the following decade.