Friday, April 28, 2017

This stuff's made in Kansas City. Kansas City?

Today we celebrate Kansas City, Missouri, with something oldish and something newish. To start, Warm Bodies, a group who remind a bit of what the Peppermints once were, what with the squeaks and the squawks and the quick noise, but whose frontlady wears ultra-normal garb like shorts and overalls on stage as though she were a member of Mika Miko (also circa ten years ago).


We're also checking out a remaster of a 1979 release from Ric Gordon, who has released a variety of albums under his own Russian Winter Records, and had this to say:

"It's Ric from Russian Winter Records. We moved the label into a new home last month and I'm am excited to say we found a box of 50 original vinyl copies of my 1979 debut EP, Just Can't Get Enough, on the label shelves. So, we're re-releasing it, remastered in digital & CD format, plus making the 50 original vinyl copies available as well."

In the 38 years since recording this power pop record (I'm reluctant to call it punk or compare it to the Misfits, as he does, though it does have a touch of Voidoids to it), he's yet to settle on a sound, and this is apparent in the variety among his label, which includes synths and an album born out of busking, and a live recording of a "private concert for a very special lady." Have I mentioned that he also paints? But Just Can't Get Enough is a nice poppy gem to have dug up, and it's refreshing to be able to refer to Missouri. Maybe someone can tell this guy the Ric Gordon Band actually did exist?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Perhaps it's the Jew in me (and yes, it's taking up quite a lot of space in there), but whenever I hear something this aggro, I always hope the performers and their name are all for show and otherwise give genuine hugs and handshakes in real life. Upping the anxiety factor with a band like Rixe is that without knowing French, you've got no way of knowing whether they're uniformly shouty over their dinner being cold or whether they're on a mission to get some heads on sticks. This is the age of the smartphone, sure, when the entire developed world is passive and drowsy and has its collective head down, but one can never be too wary of a skinhead post-1980.

That out of the way, Rixe popped up in 2015, another marvelous example of Europe outdoing the U.S. in pure passion, and the French Oi! group has just released its third EP in three consecutive years. What they do well is walk the fine line of a genre that has plenty of potential to sound dated, instead injecting enough anger and urgency and (somehow) restraint that, thankfully, this doesn't sound straight off a Punk-O-Rama compilation. And maybe it is for show, but it packs a hell of a punch.

From 2016's Les Nerfs A Vif:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

In love all over again: Peter Perrett

The really great songwriters are usually the ones who die off early, and somehow, it's the junkies who tend to be some of the very best, smartest and funniest writers, with fantastic taste in music and literature (possibly best summed up in the final paragraph of this piece). Peter Perrett certainly and perhaps unfortunately fell into this category for many years, and he's a longtime favorite songwriter of mine, largely for his uncomfortable and beautiful and all-too-realistic takes on love and infatuation.

All things considered, then, what with the hepatitis and the drugs and the COPD and the gaunt Ronnie Wood face, he probably should have died a thousand times during the last forty years. But he's well alive, and he lets his wife run his Facebook page, which includes poorly shot photos of each other and tributes to Fidel Castro, sort of adorable. And now he's making a return, in collaboration with his sons, which actually appears promising. This is the album opener:

The modern day pop culture references are a bit strange and might date this first single in time, but musically it's a really lovely hark back to "If Not for You," and it's lyrically biting, and I'm tickled to say that Peter's voice has hardly changed a bit. Domino is releasing this solo record of the same title in June.

Monday, April 10, 2017

If they were any colder they'd be dead

Last year, Oakland's Marbled Eye put out an EP of sleepy, deadpan post-punk resembling the work of a few artists here and there, albeit a well-done example of how to be simultaneously retro and relevant without taking part in or ripping off the Castle Face scene. Though its cover art did look like a more minimalist version of something from the past, didn't it?

Anyway, Marbled Eye put out another EP just last month on Erste Theke Tontraeger (home to this gem) and it's a bit more of the same, though more of the same means angular guitar and bass, bare-bones drumming that drives each song forward, icy post-punk to counter the indulgent more-means-more glamorous pop trends that have permeated the music world over the last few years. When you're uncomfortable dancing and you want something you can stiffly sort of dance to, more of this is a godsend.

Purchase EP II. And if you're a musician looking for a studio, hire their bass player, who produced the first Marbled Eye release.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Everybody, making a return

In as much time as it took for Aldous Harding to promote her 2014 record and go nuts making tour appearances in the U.S., she's already gotten a new record set up with 4AD. And lucky her, it was recorded with John Parish, who is a brilliant complement to nearly anyone, really. Party will be out in May, and she's gone a bit chic, but its first single is just as beautiful as anything she's previously released. She still sings with guts, and though she's been on a constant tour and has already been in the U.S. twice during the last six months, she'll be returning in June.

(This will also be on the record.)

Full circle to an act that was once on 4AD: Celebration. Years ago, Celebration embodied their own name, putting a sound to the face of Mardi Gras, Carnival, Holi, anything with color and movement and vitality. In June, ten years later, they have a new record, their fifth, which will be arriving on Bella Union in June, and they've shared one of its tracks, which is decidedly less chaotic than the music they used to release. But it's lovely to see them still being the people and doing the thing, and they still go big, which is the most important thing one could ask of them.

Beans returns! At 45 he is still humorous and creative, at times thrilling, even, and he recently did a funny little interview with PopMatters to mark the simultaneous release of three albums and a book. He walks the line between novelty and not, and though he definitely could have filtered out some of these three albums to make two, it might be more accurate (and would lend him more appropriate credit) to say that he's a regular ol' dude who just loves Batman and sweet, sweet love.

Purchase Wolves of the World.
Purchase Love Me Tonight.
Purchase Haast.
Purchase all three of his new records as a bundle and get a free copy of his book, Die Tonight.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I just can't quit you (this week, anyway)

Hey! Girlpool was signed to Anti- and they're now using drums and this video was filmed in Echo Park and features the mouthy chick from French Vanilla as the other ginger. Can't help but be reminded of the time Patrice O'Neal said that white people love feeling bad.

This man-trio from Cardiff called Disjoy played their first gig with the excellent Diät about one year ago, since un-becoming Luvv, and made a record in the last few months which is meant to see the light of day any moment now. This is the best impression of Killing Joke you might ever run across, and that's meant as a compliment.

Here's the first song off the second record by Alex Napping, which comes out in May. They are a-okay with turtlenecks and are the not-exactly-solo project of Alex Cohen, who made this thing last summer and recently left Austin.

Neville Staple's not dying!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Received two spring-appropriate submissions from Sweden's PNKSLM (Punk Slime) Records; the first is just about a perfect sequel to the Concretes, and to an extent, Up Against the Legends, about half a generation later, called Hater. The Malmö band only formed a year ago, and singer Caroline Landahl sings with a casual, reluctant quality that one might use if she weren't quite used to being center stage. There's a bit of Victoria Bergsman in her, and possibly a touch of Harriet Wheeler as well. Perhaps this is imagined, but it always seems to be the case with Swedish pop bands that there's a limit to how much cheer they're capable of, and there's a certain cloud over this full-length debut, which is lovely and otherwise boasts a breadth of energy and emotion.

Purchase You Tried, and give last year's Radius a go.


And then there is ShitKid, 24-year old Åsa Söderqvist, whose "Sugar Town" is not a cover of the Nancy Sinatra classic but musically something of an update on the Budget Girls, and--Jesus Christ, she would have been a great fit for Damaged Goods twenty years ago. Would almost conclude that the above theory about melancholy Swedes has already been disproven, except she's been photographed in a trench coat. 

Purchase EP 2.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Warping and bending

Years after he put out this fantastic record as Olivier Daysoul, Olivier St. Louis has put out a stunning new EP, and in the span of two songs he jumps from smoothly singing, "The way you wear them heels make a grown man cry" to a kitschy piece that harks back to '70s funk. He's also got quite the impressive/ridiculous/ambitious beard! He'll be at the Regent Theater in Los Angeles this May, with Oddisee (who produced that great 2010 record of his).

Purchase Ever Since the Fall

Received a beautiful submission from Richmond, Virginia, called Vivian Fantasy, a lo-fi dream pop act and the musical alter ego of Danny Bozella. Serial Experiments 1: Pink Witch bends all over the place, and within it, you might hear everything from finger-tapping to jingling bells to the warping of cassette tape. It even sounds pink. Vivian Fantasy, meet your new best friends, Los Angeles' Winter and Chicago's Warik.

Purchase Serial Experiments 1: Pink Witch


The newest EP from Boston's Free Pizza came out last summer but is worth a mention, particularly as they've just made a video for "Slipping." Berlin, DE is miles better than 2014's Boston, MA, and a step in a more focused direction. It might build nostalgia for a pre-internet world, when lyrics might have been wacky and goofy but totally without irony or with a naive sort of humor, much in the way Jonathan Richman is goofy but completely pure, or the way a foreign-born songwriter might approach lyrics with the limited vocabulary to sing only what is absolutely intended. Nothing here is overdone, nothing.

"Maybe if I didn't care/maybe if I went upstairs/this water would fucking boil/but I sit here staring at the fire/'cause there's nothing I would rather see/than this water already boiling."

Purchase Berlin, DE

Monday, February 27, 2017

Under perfect control...Exploded View

While I might have spent years previous allowing a range of emotions to dictate my listening choices, I find myself craving, in 2017, nothing but music that is aggressively passionate. I want something that sounds dangerous and keeps me on my toes and makes me want to cry out with whomever is playing the means to the message, and so I've essentially spent the last two months listening nonstop to Iceage and Nina Simone.

Seeing as Marching Church's Telling It Like It Is made for a natural follow-up to Iceage's Plowing Into the Field of Love, it fit the criteria for early 2017 quite nicely, and of course led me down a spiral of records under Sacred Bones. Which is how we came to Exploded View, on six months' delay after the release of their excellent debut.

To an extent, Exploded View is dangerous the way Portishead was dangerous -- which makes sense, given the involvement of Geoff Barrow on Anika's solo record from 2010, and the lasting influence he may have had. You might hear all sorts of influences on this album, from the obvious Portishead recall on opener "Lost Illusions" to, strangely, Suburban Lawns on spooky surf number "Disco Glove." Anika's head voice isn't unlike that of Su Tissue at her most focused, only the music behind her is cold, spacey, at times militant, and quintessentially German.

She's backed by a great group of Mexico City-based producers, including Martin Thulin, who recorded the last Crocodiles record shortly after Exploded View. Had Broadcast not already had a run, it might be an accurate guess to say that any of their kitschy, mod, fantastic records could have been the next step beyond this icy debut from Exploded View.

Monday, February 20, 2017

She's yours, she's yours!

I've no doubt that Molly Burch is earning comparisons to all the others: Angel Olson, Zooey Deschanel within the bounds of She & Him, La Sera's Katy Goodman, or any other adorable, quirky, retro, sweetly singing millennial who apparently has enviable bangs, an accompanying guitar in hand (whether her own or someone else's), and is followed by a rainbow of reverb. We're still only a few years past the girl group trend, and this shift toward the solo act was a natural next step.

The obvious now stated, Burch sings the way women sing in Los Angeles at present, and Please Be Mine is the type of adorable, quirky, retro almost-country album about heartbreak that could only be made by someone who has spent a significant amount of time in Los Angeles. But this isn't an irritating collection of same-old as characterized by the adjectives above; Burch's voice is at its best when it shows guts, has a bit of ballsiness to it, and it'd be nice to hear this coming out of everyone in that group, the others. And for this, she has a versatility that could one day see her sharing similarities with anyone from Aldous Harding to Courtney Barnett. Please Be Mine is an easy record to listen to, but there are so many directions for her to turn from here, and I'll be eagerly watching.