Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nick Curran and the Lowlifes - Reform School Girl

What with all the revivalist movements that’ve happened – come now, surely there’s something new to invent! – I’d approached Nick Curran with some hesitance. He could be any scrawny white kid out of Whittier who dons a patch of chin hair and idolizes the rockabilly movement that’s become somewhat stale at this point. Maybe he is that guy. Scratch that – he's not that guy, he's from Maine. But he’s got something that a lot of rock and roll revivalists don’t have, and it’s the ability to really mimic his heroes. This isn’t said scrawny white kid doing a smooth, swingin’ cover – it’s said scrawny white kid doing a nearly flawless Gerry Roslie wail, and a cover of “Tough Lover” that’d have Etta James herself raising a thick eyebrow.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, the title track is the weakest on the record, and comes closest to the sound of that modern imitation that’s been attempted so often of late (see Jail Weddings, the Pipettes). A couple of tracks could be done without, maybe, but then, Elvis was a bit cheesy, too. Curran plays a thick guitar, thanks to a solid family background in rockabilly and rock and roll, and wails with a believable toughness. Reform School Girl, rough around the edges, sharpened with brass, could’ve been pressed on vinyl fifty years ago (Curran uses vintage recording equipment, natch), and it’d sound just as well.

Also, he has cancer of the tongue! Support that voice while he's got it.

Nick Curran - Kill My Baby
Preorder Reform School Girl

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stiff Records - The Last Compilation...Until the Next One

This is a solid collection of pop off London's Stiff Records, a promo copy of the 1980 compilation that somehow neglected to list Lene Lovich on its tracklisting. Shame. Anyway, this features a spirited yet toned-down cover of Gene Pitney's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," the first single from all-lady post-punk group the Mo-dettes, and an admittedly dated pop track from Any Trouble, who released a new record on Stiff most recently in 2007, just a year after the label got back up and running. Also featured is Wreckless Eric, who re-signed to Stiff in the last couple of years with his wife, Amy Rigby, and who remains perhaps my favorite artist on the label (really now, who can resist the sloppy charm of "Reconnez Cherie" or "Brain Thieves?").

It'd be a crime to not give mention to the liner notes, credited as such:
Potted biographies 'n' puerile blather knocked out at incredible speed on a dodgy typewriter by Tony Rounce

Rounce himself says, of compilation closer "Smash It Up":

We've used the version from their wonderful Chiswick album 'Machine Gun Etiquette' here - it's twice as long as the single, and twice as much fun!!!

So true! Perhaps more entertaining is his note about the Mo-dettes, though, of whom he predicts:

(1)The Mo-dettes will make many more great records...
(2)Their bank balances will improve drastically as a result...

No, I don't believe his instinct was spot on. But the Mo-dettes could knock out a catchy tune.

Side A

Dexy's Midnight Runners - Dance Stance
Lew Lewis Reformer - Win or Lose
The Cure - Jumping Someone Else's Train
Madness - Bed and Breakfast Man
Any Trouble - The Hurt
The Mo-dettes - White Mice
John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Lene Lovich - I Think We're Alone Now

Side B
A. More - Judy Get Down
Lori and the Chameleons - Touch
Wreckless Eric - Hit and Miss Judy
The Chords - Maybe Tomorrow
John Cooper Clarke - Evidently Chickentown
Motorhead - No Class
Cockney Rejects - Flares 'N' Slippers
The Damned - Smash It Up

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sir Harry Lauder - The Immortal Harry Lauder

Much of the time I find myself sifting through a lot of new releases and struggling to enjoy the bulk of what I find; it may in fact be the case that at this point, with it being so easy to start a band and release music, there simply are too many choices, making it difficult to find music that's suited to you when you could truly look in any direction and find something. This isn't a profound point – it's been said many times before. Mostly by other luddites, I think. All these options don't get me excited about new music, nearly as much as they make me want to hole up and get comfortable with my tried and true records, the ones that felt special when I purchased them, and the ones I continue to take pride in owning.

That said, I was very lucky to have received a USB turntable this past Christmas, and to break up the process of trying to find the right words to describe a new band here or there that I'm not quite sure I'm mad about, I'm going to start uploading some of the vinyl that's been occupying my living room and going unnoticed. I'd spent a few hours and approximately 20 percent of my paycheck each month sifting through the vinyl bins at local record stores during college, quickly building up a collection, and at the time, it was a rewarding process to find a gem because I could share it during a weekly radio show (whether listeners liked it or not, really). Since then, all these finds have been sitting. No more of that, then. I'm excited to share what's here and anticipate a few geek-out sessions.

The first record to share, then, is The Immortal Harry Lauder, credited to “Sir Harry Lauder with Orchestra.” Sir Harry Lauder was a Scotsman born Henry Lauder in Edinburgh in 1870, the son of a potter, who allegedly was at one point the highest paid performer in the world. He entertained Scottish troops in France throughout WWI, during which his only child was killed, and used concerts to raise money for charity, leading to his receipt of knighthood in 1919. He retired in 1935 but entertained troops during WWII, and died in 1950. This is marvelous if your favorite song off the Mary Poppins soundtrack is “I Love to Laugh.” It should also be noted that Lauder rolls a hearty “arrrr.”

According to this article from a 1930 issue of TIME:

Sir Harry Lauder, Scottish clownster, stepped out of a bath tub in a Chicago hotel, slid, flip-flopped, broke his right ninth rib. Continuing to fulfill remunerative engagements, he said: "Bathrooms be a wee bit dangerous at times."

Harry Lauder – There is Somebody Waiting For Me
Harry Lauder – Oh, How I Weary, Dearie, For You
Harry Lauder – Breakfast in Bed on Sunday Mornin'
Purchase The Immortal Harry Lauder (vinyl, iTunes)

The Deepsea Goes/The Yummy Fur

Oraoneiroi came out last August, and the Deepsea Goes have got a show coming up tomorrow night at Pehrspace. Hurrah!

They sound nothing like their claimed influences – you'd be hard-pressed to find any My Bloody Valentine in there, though if all other reviews written are going off the band's Blogger-listed interests, I suppose it should be noted that one would be hard-pressed to pick up on the vibe of Dirty Dancing, as well. There's a good lot of sloppy vocal thrash in the ultra-masculine style of Matt Korvette (Pissed Jeans), particularly on tracks like “There is No Space,” and some sloppy, thrashed-up guitar on tracks like “There is No Elevator.” Actually, come to think of it, there's some sloppy, thrashed-up guitar all throughout. How nice, for consistency's sake.

Their lyrics aren't poetry much, but what holds them together well is their minimalism; this brother-sister duo are a vicious pair, and things really pick up on this record at “There is No Home,” balls-out punk rock, though “There is No Stop” is a highlight for its constant crash and – among the rubble of feedback – conscious melody, which disappears into a wall of noise and then transitions back in by the album's next track. That same guitar keeps barreling through during “There is No Start,” but “There is No Light,” a mere track forward, is pure sludge. They're not missing a damn thing. Good stuff for fans of Pissed Jeans and the A Frames (yum, the noisy side of Sub Pop!).

The Deepsea Goes – Oraoneiroi (stream for free, or download for as low as five bucks)


The Yummy Fur plays the Echo tonight at 10pm! From the Echo's website:

Scottish cult legends, THE YUMMY FUR, featuring members of FRANZ FERDINAND and THE 1990S, play their first and only-ever LA show to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of their demise! (And to prepare for the reissue of their entire back catalogue by the fine What’s Your Rupture? label this spring!) This is one of only five shows the band are doing in the U.S., and their first shows in well over a decade.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Still here...still here...

Happy new year, all.

First up, another bit of brown-nosing in promotion of Song, by Toad Records. Lovely lads Meursault released two new singles via the label last month, complete with appealing artwork and such, and while I'm not too mad about the electronic touches, the band is marvelous when stripped down as simply as possible; "William Henry Miller Part One" is Meursault at their best, then. I'm also not sure I could effectively build on what the Toad himself has sent, so for informational purposes:

The singles each contain a song from Meursault's December 2008 album Pissing on Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues as well as a full version of "William Henry Miller [Parts One and Two]" respectively, re-recorded with new band members Pete Harvey (cello) and Phil Quirie (electric guitar) on board, and with guest vocals from Dan Willson from Withered Hand and Bart Owl from eagleowl.

William Henry Miller himself was a politician in the 1800s, and possibly a hermaphrodite, which may have been related to his desire to be buried face down, forty feet beneath a gigantic mausoleum in Craigentinny.

Meursault - William Henry Miller Part One

Speaking of releases on Song, by Toad Records, he's also got a split 12” with Loch Lomond and the Builders and the Butchers, the latter of whom are a Portland-based folk rock band, set to perform at Spaceland in Los Angeles on January 14.

Loch Lomond – Field Report
The Builders and the Butchers – Vampire Lake (unfashionably late to that bandwagon, I see)
Purchase all of the above.


In less fortunate news, I learned from a friend that Lhasa de Sela passed away from breast cancer at 37 once the new year began. If you haven't heard any of her records, she was a tremendous talent who got better and better with every release, a folk singer of several languages. Her last, Lhasa, was brilliant, not to mention worth a few tears. The record was devastating for its lyrics of lost love, but even more so once realized that she wrote and recorded these songs while ill, knowing that the record might have been her last, and that lyrics to songs like "I'm Going In" were actually more to do with death than initially thought.

Press release posted to her MySpace page, here.


And to end this post with a sandwich heel of happiness, download the new Will Stratton song here:
Will Stratton - Bluebells (left click or else!)