Monday, October 16, 2017

Significant Features: Wireheads Return!

As expected by now, the newest Wireheads record relies on rambling and riffs, all sorts of little earworms and passively rolled-out lyrics. Opener "Technical Man" sees Dom Trimboli declaring, "What a wonderful world/one can still write when one never learned quite how to spell/I've got a number two addiction and I'm spitting out fiction with the most incredible diction." Would love to call him the Ma$e of Australia but his drawl is about tied with the pace of Courtney Barnett's. If this were hip hop it might be lazy, but the delivery has more of a coolness to it, a we're having a party and you can join or not something or other about it. It's no surprise that they'd record an album with the Bill Murray of independent music, Calvin Johnson. That they did, as with 2015's Big Issues, and you can hear him muttering all over "Technical Man."

Lightning Ears has got a great deal of variety to it, and this record is all over the place, but Wireheads also seem to run much more smoothly than when they began. You can hear the stomp of Adam Ant's "Physical (You're So)" on "Beaches with Significant Features," and sure, Trimboli wouldn't sound so sexy slurring "I wanna date ya, baby." He's instead thought up a rhyme that only an Australian's accent could enunciate, and ends each line like he's about to give up on the song.

There's "Pluto Was a Planet," backed by a chorus of shouty children and which naturally recalls, "When I was a child/Pluto was a planet/it was a named by a little girl/for the god of the underworld/right after she died/it was reclassified," making it mildly historically inaccurate. And there's "Nathan J. Roche," a tribute to a writer whom those of us in the U.S. are probably frantically looking up now that we know he's "amazing, like Aurora Borealis." [Indeed, it might be true that he's amazing; Paris has apparently treated Roche "like a wayward stranger with a steel pan on a shoebox and a heart of fool’s gold."] There's just so much information to inspire all the stories on Lightning Ears, and while it may not be the type of poetry that'll have you unpacking it for months, it's clever without sacrificing any of the bits that make it a fun listen.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Reppin' Burbank: Midnight Sister

It might be true that everyone who made Los Angeles wacky, creative and exciting in the '80s and early '90s is now living in the San Fernando Valley, and if it's true that Midnight Sister are from Burbank, they may be some indication that the Valley will continue to be the thing that helps wacky L.A. live on in spite of L.A.'s majority transforming into the same old. Having witnessed them live prior to hearing this recorded debut, my initial thoughts about Midnight Sister were that they were like a great late 1970s act -- theatrical, with hints of disco and Klaus Nomi and Kate Bush and eccentric for the sake of it. But this record, Saturn Over Sunset, has so much more going on that prevents it from being an exercise in nostalgia.

There's jazz drumming, brass, ominous strings, a wide variety of instrumentation, storytelling, waltzing. They're fronted by a mime? Yes, fronted by a mime. Juliana Giraffe also sings like Simone in Pee Wee's Big Adventure speaks [which is to say that her voice is deep and often clips off, proving that less is indeed sometimes more]. In hindsight, they are everything I hoped Fast Piece of Furniture would be, and Saturn Over Sunset is a record that will hold up beyond the year. Moreover, their youth is promising; with the ages of the core band a respective twenty-three and twenty-seven years old, it'll be marvelous to see how they age as musicians if they're already this daring.

Monday, September 4, 2017

That side part, though: Tom Brosseau

Since my last time checking in with Tom Brosseau, he's recorded an album with the great John Parish [as was the case with 2007's Cavalier], continued making appearances in Santa Monica rather than more centrally located venues in Los Angeles, and, ah, released a couple more records. He's got precisely one nostalgic style to stick to; if he had any ounce of sex in him he might've been Jeff Buckley, but there's none, and so he's nothing more than a wholesome face with a God-fearing voice that might've made you ask, at some point, the big Holly Golightly questionIs he or isn't he? After a dozen releases, it's plain that he really is this pure.

Treasures Untold is a live set recorded in Köln, originals as well as classics by folks like Jimmie Rodgers and of course, Hank Williams. And some of the dialogue here illustrates perfectly how well he's studied his heroes in order to replicate their spirit. Including the occasional yodel. He's an odd fit for any scene in his home of nearly fifteen years, but it's awfully nice to run across an odd fit now and then.

He's on a little jaunt around the U.S. right now, and this tour includes a stop in -- yes -- Santa Monica.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Autumn, I can taste you

Mirah and Jherek Bischoff are obviously musical soulmates, but now there'll be a record of their collaboration credited to Mirah, with Bischoff rearranging some of her older songs for strings. The song selection comes from a variety of her albums prior. Particularly eager to hear a new arrangement of this beaut.

Relatives in Descent might be one of the year's most anticipated records on this end [and why not, with this list of inspiration sources?]

For the under-forty crowd: Devin McKnight, guitarist of this band and this seemingly shorter-lived band, has his own project, called Maneka. Funnily, this project sounds an awful lot like Vivian Fantasy. They've probably never met.

The Fresh and Onlys are returning to tour! And there's a new record coming out later this month, which received some production help from Kelley Stoltz and Greg Ashley (thank the sweet Jesus, Greg Ashley's getting work). With these kinds of friends providing guidance, this might be a rare Fresh and Onlys record that doesn't have layers for miles. But it's peppy.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A few previews and then some

Chicago's Melkbelly has a record coming out October 13, called Nothing Valley, and "Kid Kreative" is the video where dude gets to be Full House-era Olsen twins for two minutes.

What's JG Thirlwell been up to? He's now Xordox, and he's got a new album called Neospection. Ninth death to Foetus, it appears!

James Graham is essentially incapable of making a misstep, and between Twilight Sad records he's gone and recorded a new project with the strange and beautiful Kathryn Joseph as well as the man who produced her 2015 record. (Honestly, said producer appears to be the official producer of Glasgow, going off his client list.) These three are called Out Lines and they make their album debut on October 27. This record's concept is marvelous.

From DIY Mag: The entire record has been inspired by conversations James and Kathryn has [sic] with users of Platform, a multi-arts and community space in the east end of Glasgow. They translated the stories that they heard into the album’s lyrics, while Marcus helped to steer the sound of the record.

London's Skinny Pelembe finally has something coming out; the Seven Year Curse EP is making its appearance on August 11. Another debut!

If you happen to be located in a more English part of the world, this launch is happening.

Monday, July 17, 2017

She knows the shimmy and the twist and the boogaloo: Saba Lou!

Maybe it's common knowledge that King Khan is the father of two daughters. In fact, he wrote a fun little song for his older daughter, Saba Lou, which appeared on December's Three Hairs and You're Mine.

Just seventeen in 2017, Saba Lou has released her own record, and it's the stuff of your Charlyne Yi dreams. The lovely thing about this record is that she's grown up surrounded by minor garage rock heroes, even has a few of them on her record and got Jared Swilley of Black Lips to write the album's liner notes, and though Swilley makes allusions to "Budget Dad," King Khan's name is nowhere to be found on the album's press release. Dad's here and there, behind the scenes, but the album's all hers.

Her singing may be thin, the way a teenager's voice ought to be thin, really, but it works perfectly well given the simple nature of the songs, and she does a lovely job as a storyteller. Her early childhood adventures seemed to be hinting at a future not unlike that of King Khan and his circle, but Saba Lou's gone the opposite route, playing softly and sweetly, lyrically approaching bigger topics. Some of us used our journals to ask similar questions when we were teenagers, though her record sounds much nicer -- and perhaps emotionally healthier -- than most of our journals probably read. If anything, Planet Enigma makes me envious of anyone who gets to take part in this musical family.

She's come a long way, too.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

It's 100 degrees and we're sleepy. Here's some good stuff to listen to.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Peter Perrett: Hard to say no

It's already been said, here and in a few other places, that we're all tickled to see Peter Perrett alive in 2017, making music or otherwise. But now that How the West was Won has been out for a week and we've had a chance to absorb it a bit, it can be safely said that he's still writing the best love songs around, and singing them in the same voice he would've used forty years ago. "An Epic Story," "Man of Extremes" and "C Voyeurger" are the love letters anyone would be happy to have written to them, though surely, most of us would have given up wishing and hoping by the time we'd become someone's wife of forty-seven years.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

One of these is not based in L.A.

If this doesn't make a star out of Lias Saoudi, what will?

Though it doesn't quite translate here, as a live act, Los Angeles-based Midnight Sister are sort of everything that was wonderful about musical guest performances on SNL in the '70s. Like a Klaus Nomi/Kate Bush hybrid, backed by some really excellent session musicians. Well, if Kate Bush were one to literally do the Macarena on stage. Marvelous mix of disco and yacht rock. Horrified that this is the way to describe such an interesting band.

Samira Winter basically nailed it on the head in trying to create a song influenced by "The Breeders, Weezer, and the 90's film 10 things I Hate About You" [sic]. Being in a band can be so dull, boo hoo.

There's a fun little one-man label that just came about in Fullerton last year, called Neck Chop, and many of the label's releases will probably be popping up here now and then. For now, here's part of a new release by Mark Cone, who's essentially achieved what the Screamers sought to do. Also have a look at his appearance on Highland Park TV, an appropriate reminder of what local access channels were/are good for.