Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sweepin' Chimbleys: Fellow Fellow

It might be too bold to suggest that there's a turning point in music that took place somewhere around the rise of Neutral Milk Hotel; that pre- and post- dividing line paved the way for whimsy, and orchestral instruments in non-orchestral settings, and it made literacy king. It made room for Beirut, and the Decemberists, and perhaps should've made crossover artists out of jazz groups like Hot Club of Detroit. What kind of people claimed to pull influence from Sicilian funeral marches or drew attention to Bulgaria in the early 2000s? People dabbling in the vague genre of chamber pop, that's who.

Years later, it's still going here and there, and can be found in an unlikely place, L.A., via Fellow Fellow. Fellow Fellow shares a guitarist with Fell Runner [Steven van Betten], and is a seven-piece complete with trumpets and tuba and Wurlitzer, dabbling in waltzes and polka, all that good stuff. True to their predecessors, the band is led by a soft-spoken singer-songwriter [Cooper Wolken], and true to what it is to be a band in 2016, they are doomed to attract comparisons to those who've previously conquered this whole old timey fusion thing. But they're good at what they do.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Good Throb gives you a good shake!

London's Good Throb might be better at punk than half of its originators; thanks largely to frontlady KY Ellie, they boast a vicious delivery that seems to be missing in a good lot of American bands that give it a go. They've got the desperation that only comes with needing to spit something out urgently, and they've got the balls that post-punk acts like French Vanilla are so unfortunately lacking. This is what happens when a lyricist might have a sharp sense of humor but doesn't feel the need to hide behind it.

Ellie firmly says, "Give me validation" the way Poison Girls' Vi Subversa would say, "Now I feel just like my mother/her price is low," or Eve Libertine would say, "You take what you want when you want it." 

And they've come so, so far since 2013.

Good Throb is being very kind and offering their music for free. Be kind in return and purchase it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The damn summer's nearly over!

If you're a bit on the anxious side and looking for something to match the mania you feel, Montreal quintet Look Vibrant wants to meet you! No idea where they get their energy but they've kept this batty thing going for at least three years. They're musicians' musicians.

There's this nice band from Brighton that just joined FatCat Records and they have a seven-inch coming out on Friday!

Somehow managed to miss a new This is the Kit EP back in January. This is a nice bit off Rusty and Got Dusty, which also features a cover of “Les Plus Beaux.” Even having gone electric to an extent, Kate Stables continues to make some of the most stunning folk around.

Sharing the Brassland label with This is the Kit is Fusilier, a fella whose new single might stand out as the "which of these doesn't belong?" in this post. But he's exciting, makes dark stuff you can dance to, and gives the bass its due. And he's sassy as hell. Southerner living in New York, natch.

No joke, I've been standing next to Bratmobile/Cold Cold Hearts/Cool Moms frontlady Allison Wolfe at shows around Los Angeles for years (she likes Wreckless Eric and The Mummies, for the curious), and in all that time, her newest band Sex Stains somehow hadn't put out an album. That lull comes to an end in September! Sex Stains' debut is coming out September 2. One-minute single "Don't Hate Me 'Cuz I'm Beautiful" was floating around Soundcloud for a while and has since been replaced with You Tube audio.

It's also on their demo from last year. This is worth a little hurrah!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Another exercise in bumming out: Stove

Ovlov released a near-perfect rock album three years ago and then they ended on a swell note so that Steve Hartlett could release an album under the name Stove, for which he played all instruments. That break was short-lived, and Ovlov is once again performing together. But drummer Theo Hartlett released an EP as Flat Swamp earlier this spring, and Stove, whose Is Stupider wasn't entirely separate from Steve Hartlett's songwriting for Ovlov, already has an EP out, less than a year after his debut album's release.

So that EP, a cassette release called Is a Toad in the Rain, is performed by a full band, and is partly acoustic, partly programmed beats, and 100 percent unexpectedly, ah, chill. It would be easy to say that Hartlett went from emulating one '90s act to another with this Stove release, but for a more contemporary point of compare-and-contrast, it would likely appeal to fans of that recent Warik debut.

An exercise in bumming out: Snail Mail

The youth and androgyny in 17-year old Lindsay Jordan's voice is enough to bring Baltimore's Snail Mail into a relatively obscure position, as an American counterpart to onetime Sheffield act Standard Fare. [And if you're wondering what happened to Standard Fare, they split up and youthful/androgynous-sounding frontlady Emma Kupa released an album with Mammoth Penguins.]

Snail Mail is more mopey and less 2010s British indie pop than Standard Fare, and what Jordan particularly adds to the slow-paced grunge of Habit, outside of her tomboyish vocal quality, is the sort of harmless hopelessness that only seems to come when you're young and haven't yet sorted out the world in your mind. This is the perfect type of band to listen to at 17, and Snail Mail's followers will likely be extremely loyal and get them and eventually turn 23 and snap out of it. What's happening:

I wanna spend the entire year/Just face down

There's a weight and I feel it and it's pressing down/And it won't be for nothing/And it won't stick around/If it is about anything that I can fix/Then I'll see you on the other side if it really exists

Purchase Habit here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

This world ain't big enough for your feelings! (A couple of lady singles.)

If anyone brings to mind Emiliana Torrini circa 2005, it's Austin-based singer-songwriter Alex Rose. That is, until you hear the B-side of "Grandmothers," a folky breakup song that aligns words like coattails and contrails like only a millennial could and would.

And life isn't always full of whimsy. 
So don't fall in love! 
Don't fall to pieces! 
This world ain't big enough for your feelings! 

Enough of that, though. Here's the A-side.

Los Angeles band JODY just released a single yesterday (recorded at the soon-to-be-kaput Smell), and they are quite a lot catchier than the Fratellis-esque Jody from Australia. Look for them out and about in Los Angeles.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Celebratin' King Khan and BBQ

Yesterday, Mark Sultan posted a digital upload of the King Khan and BBQ Show's seven-inch for "We Are the Ocean," originally pressed in 2011. This is the A-side.

He also has a solo seven-inch coming out later this year, and this is the B-side. He needs money to buy a compressor! And he's going to be at Los Globos in Los Angeles on August 9.

Meanwhile, King Khan put out this beaut last week, and with it he sends this message:

To celebrate the new birth of the Invaders International...I offer it as a healing blessing to this very sick world...may this song get into your hearts and minds and may the world finally understand the suffering of others and try to mend the wounds rather than create new ones. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Going mad on a Monday

There's nothing original to say about a band that's not churning out anything original. But San Francisco's The Love Dimension [Ahem. The Luuuhhhve Dimension.] are solid at what they churn out, and what they churn out is properly retro surf rock that'll turn you into a dancin' machine. Plus, this video for "Together Again" will make you literally woozy!

[Brian Jonestown Massacre, etcetera...]

Ty Segall is like the James Franco of garage rock. Worth a buy, of course.

For those who enjoyed spazzy folks Terry or Wireheads, London's Dog Chocolate is in the same category but one point higher on Team Shouty-Crackers. They've been described as sounding "like a crowded room," and that about sums it up.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Catching up on spring and summer

Grey Malkin (Scottish goth-folk project The Hare and the Moon) and Michael Warren (Hare collaborator and psych artist) just released a stunning cover of Pink Floyd's "Jugband Blues" in honor of Syd Barrett's deathday. No easy feat without a Salvation Army band behind it, but marvelously done. Part of a tribute EP.

Bry Webb (dreamy fella, former Constantine) put out a 7-inch split with Chad Van Gaalen in late April, and this is his half of the record:

English post-punk group Primetime put out this little EP in May and it's doing a swell job of filling the gap left by the absence of Grass Widow and the Raincoats.

In late June, longtime PJ Harvey and Nick Cave collaborator (and dapper gent) Mick Harvey put out a third volume of Serge Gainsbourg covers, Delirium Tremens. It follows 2014 double album Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants, and Intoxicated Women will conclude the set later this year.

Wireheads to the rescue!

It's been another devastating week for the U.S., and so we find ourselves once again looking to Australia for comfort, and music in which to escape the now-constant reminder that we haven't yet sorted ourselves out.

Adelaide's Wireheads are a lovely group of weirdos whose songs show a good deal of patience; they're a nice combination of Suburban Lawns, the Fresh and Onlys, and Swell Maps, the sort of group that Gen X's misfits would've embraced and who probably would've belonged in Los Angeles thirty years ago. Less than a year after releasing their second record, made with perpetual weirdo Calvin Johnson, they've got Arrive Alive, a wacky adventure that boasts twenty musicians, two of whom play bicycle wheel.

This is a great, organized mess of saxophone and improvisations and beginning guitar abilities and shouty exclamations and all the things a band should be fearless enough to throw into the mixing pot.

Listen to Arrive Alive here, and purchase here if you're in the U.S. And while you're spending some time on Wireheads, sit down for a tiny literature lesson: