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.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Taking a break from the same ole

How often does the drummer come out from behind his or her kit? Oh. Yes, well. Looking forward to the second album by drummer/producer Karriem Riggins, set for February 24. These are some spiffy instrumentals to start with.

In November, Greg Grease of ZULUZULUU put out a gorgeous EP that's soothing, heavy on bass, and lyrically relevant, if not heartbreaking. This is understanding freedom.

"I ain't trying to stay broke in the cycle/We just wanna live free and die old"

"Will I make it to the morning/am I still breathing/or lose my life for petty tickets/
I was only speeding"

Last year's mF deM was a free collection of MF DOOM tracks borrowed by deM atlaS (Christ, remember when the token crazy girl in junior high used to type in alternating upper- and lower-case letters on AIM?) He paired decently, though he's by far the most energetic man on this page, and perhaps the type of guy that Greg Grease is speaking to. Sorry, deM. Last month, deM atlaS put out a new song that has more...chill. And though I admittedly haven't thought about Rhymesayers in something like ten years, he's given reason to reconsider the label and give them another look and listen.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Monday, February 6, 2017

None of them are American

Brazil's Boogarins are one of the better live acts circling about right now, and they'll be in Los Angeles this Friday with fellow Brazilian Samira Winter, whose (local) band Winter is also a marvelous live act. Lots of hair, lots of weed, surely, and if the Bootleg Theater gets it right, lots of lights. If you're nowhere near L.A. or have better things to do, they just put out this assembled live EP and were kind enough to match donations to the ACLU while Bandcamp donated their sales on Friday.

This is an old thing, at least in the context of music, but it's a beautiful old thing. Forever-crush Bry Webb and fellow former Constantine Will Kidman recorded this cover and released it last fall. One day, he'll return to the U.S. One day.

In November, Song, by Toad had the good sense to put out a brief new record by Meursault (Neil Pennycook's Supermoon project may have been short-lived). So here's a song off it. Quite nice. As the label's Matthew Young calls it, it's #not fucking folktronica. Useful tag, as they've essentially eliminated the electronic whatsits several years later. Here's "By Gaslight," which reminds a bit of Clearlake or Doves (remember 2005?).

Well, look at this poor timing. There's already a Meursault full-length LP headed for release later this month. They're getting quite decent at cover art. Here's a piece of that, then.

Sam Wisternoff has made his way through these pages over the last ten years, under the name SJ Esau, and though he's previously made exciting stuff that sounds like no other, he can also boast that he never makes the same record twice, and now he has something a bit more soothing and piano-based, in collaboration, under the name Landslide Purist. Get Your Hopes Down came out in December.

And something from the always-thoughtful Vaadat Charigim, who recorded in Tel Aviv a peek at their next album, expected to arrive this year. If you look closely you'll see Dan Bloch's nod to Froth, courtesy of a past tour stop in Los Angeles.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Tuning in

It's been quiet the last ten days, as we [yes, the royal "we"] have spent our few free hours marching, reading, and writing letters to members of Congress, as well as whoever has the unfortunate task of reviewing correspondence sent via In the span of a single week, the U.S. has been thrown into a state of disarray, and we've already sucked the rest of the world into our messy whirlpool of intolerance and unrest.

Given all there is to be concerned with at present, it seems silly to go on posting music like it's business as usual. But the truth is that we need to be excited about music right now. Art is the ultimate form of free speech; it allows you to speak in protest, to share insight, to educate and encourage further research. It might've been a song that taught you about a part of the world you didn't know existed, explained a part of history that got skipped over in your high school textbook, or addressed a current event head-on in a way that the media couldn't begin to touch. And when a song can't teach you all you need to know in the span of four minutes, it can spark a reaction of urgency and make you eager to read up.

Moreover, art keeps us sane. We need to protest what is not right, and we need to stay informed. But we are nothing without our health, and we cannot build up the energy to speak loudly if we don't shut off the switch now and then, giving ourselves the chance to quietly listen and stimulate that need to speak loudly. The music posted here, this week, next week, next year, will not always be politically relevant, but taking the time to listen to what's here, or elsewhere, is a chance to enjoy what someone else has taken the time to create, and frankly, anyone who contributes to our well-being or creates a product that brings us happiness, or challenges us, is doing their part. Let's shut ourselves off for a few minutes a day to let those creators do their part. And let's continue to buy their work so they can keep creating.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Slipping into 2017 after the bell's rung

Hey! There's a new Pile record coming! A Hairshirt of Purpose comes out on Exploding in Sound on March 31 and there's going to be a tour this spring and Pile's finally coming to the west coast. Tour dates are on their Bandcamp page, as is a lovely deal to get eight downloads of their releases for $45. Thanks again, Exploding in Sound.

Tenth Court is a label out of Brisbane that's been boasting a small but mighty lineup over the last few years (see: Wireheads), and it's really delightful to see them representing bands like Pious Faults, who have the energy to put out a quick, concise, energetic punk album that keeps it tidy, in the vein of Wire's Pink Flag but with perhaps more blatant masculinity. At fewer than six minutes, one might even be inclined to call this self-titled EP a rip-off at $3 (terrible cents-to-seconds ratio when you can purchase a four-minute song for a dollar in most cases, wink), but it's just such a fun little listen.

Haven't received too many submissions from the Netherlands over the last decade, so ladyband Dakota is a nice start. The Amsterdam-based band might appeal to fans of Feist or Jay Som or Warpaint, and they're being marked as "Cali dream pop" (a rather trite genre if you actually do live in Southern Cali, made more so by the fact that no one who lives here calls it Cali). But the Leda EP gets more and more hazy and dreamy as it goes on, which is just how an album should progress, and these few songs are sung sweetly.

New Cherry Glazerrrrrrrrrr. And there's a humping scene filmed in the bathroom at Two Boots.

Really, though, this video is everything we need this month.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Goal for 2017: More Marching Church

One of the social outcomes of the November general election is the way in which American leftists now criticize and coach ourselves, telling each other in both hindsight and anticipation that we ought to be fighting like conservativesto be the unrelenting, uncompromising, more confrontational versions of ourselves. There's no way of knowing until it happens whether this will result in the U.S. (and surely, the internet) becoming one giant, overwhelming bucket of passion, tearing us in all directions. But by George (!), we'll all have clear cut stances to put out there and fight for. The same might be said of musicians, or any artist, really. You can preach the word if you please, whatever the word is, but be passionate, be convincing and convinced, be mighty.

Marching Church is the more recently active project of Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, frontman (or, as Lias Saoudi might call it, posturer) of Copenhagen's Iceage. Marching Church runs parallel to Iceage; it's also drawn comparisons to Nick Cave, and with good reason. As with the transition from Birthday Party to Bad Seeds, this is what happens when a fighting spirit ages out of punk rock and into piano ballads. It's the songs of the Twilight Sad as performed by members of Killing Joke, with tumbling drums, looming violin, and Rønnenfelt's tortured soul up front. Exception being, perhaps, the single "2016," which is what the Waterboys might've become if they'd run with what they were in 1988.

The project has a European fearlessness to it: unafraid to pour out, to not just mimic the style of but embrace the passion of its past musical heroes, to shout the loudest not out of arrogance but out of desperation. American punk doesn't act with this sort of desperation, and perhaps it's never needed to. But that's neither here nor there. Rønnenfelt and his work consistently walk the line between artsy and militant, with urgent force. If this wasn't the most exciting album of 2016, it was certainly one more in a string of thrilling releases led by a commanding presence. Madly in love with this one.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Slurping away at 2016 with a very tiny spoon

Th' good ol' month of January will likely be spent catching up on all the music missed in 2016; when we [certainly, the royal we] were busy spending last year catching old favorites like PJ Harvey and Wreckless Eric and the Cure, or slogging away at proper job, or panicking, we were also busy missing new goodies. So here's part one of a little roundup of fun records and project announcements missed 'round these parts last year.


Vexx - Wild Hunt EP

Wild Hunt begins like Damned Damned Damned and ends like (GI); it's speedy and fun and gory and violent and supports the possibility that great, unmarketable punk albums will be coming out of Olympia -- and shouted out by women -- until the world caves in. Look for the Runaways cover that beats the Runaways at their own game by a long shot.

Purchase Wild Hunt (M'Lady's Records also has a ridiculous number of great reissues for sale, by the way)


Hellrazor - Satan Smile

Hellrazor is a minor super-ish East Coast group that includes Mike Falcone (drummer of Speedy Ortiz) on guitar/vocals, Jon Hartlett (bassist of Ovlov) on drums, and Julian Wahlberg (guitarist of the Screw-Ups) on bass. They have the same essential harkback to grunge that many of their sister acts around New England bear, but the perk that seems to come with having a guitarist as bass player -- think Stranglers here -- is that the bass on this album is so fucking fat. Yes.

Purchase Satan Smile via New Professor Music (based in Los Angeles?!)


And countering some of the current shit of the world is this marvelous project thought up by Waxploitation's awfully well-connected founder Jeff Antebi, a book of stories written by contemporary musicians and accompanied by art. Its sale will benefit several different child literacy nonprofits. But the best part of this project, perhaps, is the choice of narrator in each of its promotional videos. Here are a couple favorites thus far in promotion of Stories for Ways & Means:

Ah jeez, and there are signed prints for sale!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

When Kristin Hersh returned

A few weeks ago, Kristin Hersh walked into a live set in Los Angeles that ought to have been quite the clusterfuck; she'd skipped soundcheck, used long tuning pauses to show for it, destroyed her G string (the funniest string, at least), and killed time while her producer attempted to replace said string. But she'd marvelously passed these tests of character, and kept a straight face throughout, gracefully transitioning between the stories that complemented her lyrics: post-fight drives in the snow, pieced-together bar chatter, Throwing Muses' recipe for hooker gazpacho. She's warm and witty and likable and the type of person you hope always gets her due, and it's fulfilling to see that she's figured out how to make her career sustainable.

As she mentioned to Vanyaland last month, "Right now with the music business toppling onto its face it’s a good time to open up your product to other media [...] people pay money for that while they won’t really pay for music anymore." Other media refers to her partial transition from musician to writer, following up two full-length books with a five-book deal and promoting an album that's paired with a book of essays and memories, Wyatt at the Coyote Palace. She figured this thing out years ago.

In three decades, her voice has transformed into a mish-mash of a child and everybody's smoking aunt, and while she's bold and tough with a full band behind her, she sounds a little terrified and reluctant when she's on her own. But some of the best writers are the ones who observe and record what is rather than making up stories from scratch, and she's an excellent writer, keeping tabs on the funny and frightening moments and turning her notes into something that [perhaps hopefully] passes for abstract poetry. So it's no wonder that she sounds like she's in hiding -- she's sharing the type of stuff she's always written about, but telling us openly that it's not in fact abstract.

Wyatt runs long and is very much of her time [the '90s], but it's Kristin on display as a versatile musician, a skilled guitarist, and above all else, a proper writer, in ascending order.

Not only can you purchase Wyatt at the Coyote Palace, you can sponsor Kristin's work in exchange for rewards like concert tickets, albums, and the chance to join her in the studio.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Hamburg saves Christmas!

Tan LeRacoon has gone and made the best new Christmas song since Mariah's masterpiece. It's naïve and timely and idealistic, the understated anthem for peace and unity when it's most appropriate and most needed. Which makes it consistent with Tan's idealism and long-term hopes. The single also includes a new mix of "Hurt pt. 1" from this year's Dangerously Close to Love and a brand new, mildly bluesy instrumental that creeps along. Really marvelous seven-inch worth going after this season.

Purchase the loveliest Christmas single of the year.