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.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Let's talk about Australia

After several years of posting their music, I've come to terms with the fact that every band coming from Australia is either a quirky, mildly folksy, coed group, or a sweaty band of men who survive on beer and meat and are soon due for haircuts. Maybe it's just difficult to find the stuff in between. Melbourne act the Stroppies are ideal if you've found Lower Plenty or Wireheads, or Terry, whom I've not been able to shut up about since they're such delights, all of them. And while I'd love to say there's some sort of trend among acts in which there are men and women singing in unison, essentially in monotone, folk with something of a punk-lite aesthetic, and a cartoonish element, all of these bands are basically linked by involvement from either Al Montfort or Mikey Young.

So the gist of this is that Mikey Young, whose name is stamped somewhere on the releases of many bands between Oakland and Melbourne, mastered this eponymous EP by the Stroppies, which is lovely for bopping up and down in your car seat and shaking your head from side to side like a member of the Peanuts gang at Christmastime. 

While we're at it, let's apply all of the above to Signs Are Rampant by Blank Statements, save for their much higher lady-ratio. Blank Statements share two members with the Stroppies, and their record was also mastered by Mikey Young and released on Melbourne's Hobbies Galore. If they'd been English, Blank Statements might've been a great fit for Damaged Goods, once upon a time.

You know what else Mikey Young has been up to? His debut solo record! If you're familiar with the synth work on the last Total Control record, this album won't sound entirely out of place. Your Move Vol. 1 comes out June 16. Now, why hasn't he begun scoring campy horror films, or for that matter, taken over duties on Halt and Catch Fire?

And finally, something on Tenth Court, not affiliated with Mikey Young. Small World Experience is a thirty-year old band whose first record in nearly two decades arrives on June 23. The music is not out of line with what bands like Lower Plenty (or any of the above acts) are creating now, and there are a great few bits of humor throughout the record -- the favorite here is probably "Table Talk," quite literally about the experience of sitting at the table for steak and kidney pie as a child and being told (as culminates in the chorus), "you're not going anywhere, finish your pie." Album opener "Sugar Beats" might actually be about the path to diabetes.

Musically, this seems to have guitar tunings similar to those used by Thurston Moore, and if anything, the sequencing seems a bit odd; there's no obviously climactic album opener or conclusion here, though the steady "Call of the Wild" might have been a more anticipatory start than "Sugar Beats." Still a reliably nice comeback record, though.

Here's a taste of what they were twenty years ago. Nineties as hell, no?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


We should all be grateful that this years-old song now has its own video and is on its way to making stars out of some very deserving kitties -- Nina, Sir Philip, Lolita, Tigger, Blackie, Miss Flea, Seymour, and Tsunami, who do their best to mouth the song's chorus. Check out the handsome fella at 0:30 and stay for the purrs.

Dion Lunadon of A Place to Bury Strangers has a record out (digitally) this Friday. The first single's title ("Howl") and the presence of a leather jacket on its Soundcloud background should be the biggest tipoff to the album's similarities, though Lunadon's record has a good amount of bite to it and some of the noise you'd come to expect from any member of A Place to Bury Strangers.

Story time: About ten ago, Oakland singer-songwriter Brian Glaze left me a note: "I hate B.R.M.C, B.J.M. Black LIps. Black Fucking Angles, and other Black shit!" [Sic, all of them.] But you know who doesn't hate Black shit? Dion Lunadon. This self-titled record is quite decent, especially through headphones, where you can hear the details in the recording; it's quick, snotty, extremely lo-fi, and might make you a bit nostalgic for the period about thirteen to fifteen years ago, when we had more "The" bands than we knew what to do with.

Argentinian Tall Juan has the mouthy approach of Richard Hell, minus the intellectualism, and he surely knows this -- look particularly to his cover of "Chinese Rock." There are also those heavy nods to the Ramones, which he's also in on, and a reference he's likely heard a thousand times. On the whole, Tall Juan Zaballa is a bit of a sexy fuck, a bit of a goof, a bit derivative, but he's entirely delightful. Oh, and Mac DeMarco's on this new album for a bit, on "Another Juan." Eh.

There's no beating around the bush. Montreal-based duo Co/ntry sounds the way man bun-era Thom Yorke looks when he performs.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Go Ask Aldous

The lucky thing about this new Aldous Harding record is that enough time has passed between the original New Zealand release of her first record and this second album Party, out this month, that half of its songs have been floating around the last year and might already be established favorites. And where the first one might've had you raining tears but also wondering why a New Zealand native sings like an Irishwoman in mourning, Party has all sorts of range and finds her toying with accents as though each song is worthy of its own character.

Her best offerings on this album are also a couple of the ones she had released earlier as intimate videos, "I'm So Sorry" and "What if the Birds Aren't Singing They're Screaming." You know, the stuff that may or may not be inspired by addiction of one sort or another.

"Freedom/balance/so many friends wish that for me"

"I got high/I thought I saw an angel/but it was just a ghost"

There's a great deal of performance in her art, and for a singer-songwriter, she does so much tip-toeing around the line between precious and brilliant, anchoring herself onto the side of brilliant just as you begin to wonder whether or not she's for real. And it's no wonder John Parish opted to work with her this time around -- she's a bit of an odd one, gives the impression that she has no female friends whatsoever, and while her music's nothing like that of PJ Harvey, she's got a similar quality, the one that has you questioning whether she's dead serious or having a long, quiet snicker about all the fun she's having by herself. Both are probably right.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Give 'em yer money!

Hullo there. Still listening to Pile's A Hairshirt of Purpose but digging into a few other things that will pop up around these parts shortly. In the meantime, the Hype Machine folks have begun to ask for money, and sure, there are certainly more worthwhile causes to donate to -- yes, please donate to animal sanctuaries and programs to keep people afloat and temporary housing to accommodate the city with the worst homelessness rate, and for fuck's sake, give all you can to the family of Sonny Vincent. (Really, truly -- his family suffered a terrible fire and have a never-ending pile of medical bills to deal with, as well as a long list of surgeries still ahead.) But if you've put in your share and happen to have something like $3 left at the end of the month, consider putting in a donation to the Hype Machine.

Choir Croak Out Them Goodies joined the Hype Machine nearly a decade ago; if you're not familiar, it collects the music posted by all of its registered blogs, and plops them down in one handy place for free streaming. As a member, you can save your favorite songs to a playlist, follow other members, and search for artists by name. It's free to use! Moreover, it's a great equalizer and doesn't give a damn whether your site is a one-man blog or a proper website with a full staff and a huge following; every site that posts music receives equal space for its posts to be seen. It allows you to discover new music, and to discover new blogs that feature music you enjoy, and it's been a damn godsend in providing a place for music discovery. Donate if you can. Clicky click click.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

When Pile came around

It took a while but the opportunity to see Pile in Los Angeles finally popped up a little over a week ago, which is quite lucky, as west coast visits don't generally happen. The group is made up of individually skilled musicians, including brilliant drummer Kris Kuss, perhaps the band's secret weapon, though what really stood out was the facial range of frontman Rick Maguire, who bore the terrified, deadpan grimace of Alan Huck and left little room to interact until the show was nearly over and he suddenly realized that it'd perhaps be the right thing to say a few words. On record, Maguire's voice projects a great deal of self-loathing, but when watching him, it becomes apparent that his voice simply projects -- flawlessly, effortlessly, out loud, with precise intent -- and it seems like a special treat to see him occasionally share a smile from the side of his face.

A Hairshirt of Purpose might be the easiest Pile album to latch onto thus far, and there are all sorts of marvelous details scattered throughout: the way the guitar riff on "Worms" mimics that on "Texas," the dour lines ("Not happy/not in love/but let's have a baby to save the marriage that we made up" and "So play in traffic/and have a kid/may every good deed be in self-interest" off "Leaning on a Wheel" are standouts). Rhyming "pathetic" with "eremitic," which is something only Fiona Apple could've pulled off up to now. And as has become standard with Pile, it contains no filler whatsoever, with nearly each song on the record being that song, the highlight you come to anticipate. In other cases, it'd be ridiculous to declare this one of the best records of the year, so early on, but there's no doubting that this one will be near the top of the list come December.

Just buy it all. There's not a bad one in the bunch.

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?