Sunday, December 29, 2013

From Denmark: Communions!

The same folks that released Dokument #1, a collection of music documenting the Copenhagen scene (which features Iceage, for one) have put out a seven-inch by Communions, one of the bands featured on the compilation. If Dokument #1 is any indication, Denmark's array of music isn't far off from what we've got here in the U.S. -- where Iceage is a tough grimace of a hardcore act, Communions would fit well on a label like Slumberland, blending '80s new wave influence with lo-fi production and harmonious vocals.

Speaking of, have a look at Iceage's set for Dokument #1, which took place in February 2013. (Warning: terrible sound) (Warning #2: They're young and adorable)

New Terry Malts!

And they'll be at the Satellite on January 10. Woo!

Warthog: Too good for their name

NYC hardcore band Warthog have a seven-inch coming out on January 7! And it'll be available here.

Something old (the Chain Wallet Sessions demo tape, 2012):

I prefer "Shit," myself.

Solander, from Sweden!

Here's a nice one out of Sweden, perhaps for fans of Kings of Convenience or José González; Solander's third album, Monochromatic Memories, will continue an ongoing project by a male/female duo of multi-instrumentalists who incorporate banjo, cello and loops, and will lead into a 2014 European/U.S. tour. Lead single "All Opportunities" is at once melancholy and lush, but for something a bit more, say, folksy, have a listen to their 2009 record, Since We Are Pigeons.

Slum Sociable: The soundtrack to your very quiet party

In November, Slum Sociable released an eponymous, limited-edition (now-sold out) cassette and digital album; the jazz-influenced release should appeal to fans of Madlib and comes from Melbourne-based Mojikit Records.

Purchase the digital album here. I'm late to the party, but this cover also happened.

Somethin' Outta Mexico! Lorelle Meets the Obsolete.

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete are a multi-instrumentalist duo out of Guadalajara, named in the same method as Florence and the Machine, or Echo and the Bunnymen (Lorena Quintanilla = Lorelle, Alberto González = the Obsolete). Perhaps in the spirit of Mazzy Star's latest appearance, the trippy, hazy LP Corruptible Faces was released earlier this year, and even after a tour, the band is already set to release a new record in February 2014. If the above track is any indication, Chambers will be more lively, perhaps a more human, sharper update on Krautrock, heavy on guitars and hypnotizing in rhythm. I'm really fucking excited.

Also, this is a marvelous video. Purchase the seven-inch here.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger!

This is one in a series of posts that will serve as a really, really last minute effort to promote some of the better music I've gotten my hands on over the last month or two; this release by Foligno, Italy-based trio Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! in particular is one I've been mulling over for the last couple months, if only because lead single "Twins" caught my attention and then I found myself listening to the full record, disappointed somewhat that the band tried so fervently to imitate American indie rock and succeeded to the extent that there's little to refer to as special.

However, Forever Young is, on further listen, notable for its energy -- there was something familiar about the record that I couldn't quite pinpoint, and about fifteen minutes in, it occurred to me that I felt wowed by their speed, the same way I'd once been astounded by lo-fi Domino Records band The Beautiful Newborn Children (who, of course, were once shoved into a hole of obscurity and are now a mere thing of a moment past). There's Nicola Vedovati, whose drumming is simply nonstop, and sister Joan, whose bass drives each song forward. Diego Masciotti's vocals are poorly recorded, distant, but undoubtedly live, and his guitar jangles to the tune of a giant mess. As a whole, this recording is messy, but it's the stuff of a fantastic live performance, and given such, it's an excellent teaser.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Need more Cuntz in your life?

A couple months ago, Melbourne-based Cuntz released an appropriately brash, revolting, spirited album of punk rock, their second in 2013. Solid Mates comes only eight months after Aloha, which drew comparisons to the Birthday Party but was performed with too much of a grin to be in darker leagues.

Something old, speaking in relative terms:

The return (or beginning?) of Katie Bulley.

Remember the Barettas? Katie Bulley is off and out on her own, and has just released an acoustic single with rockabilly spirit and lyrics, as well as an accompanying video. "Chasing" is the lead release from her debut solo LP, Lone Wolf, due early next year.

Flowers and Dog Legs!

Female-fronted UK band Flowers, who're still quite new, have just released new demos, and they're fabulous and reek of the late '80s.

Alternately, this one, the first in the Oddbox Records 100 Club series, was released in October and sold out in seven-inch form:

Speaking of the Oddbox 100 Club, a Dog Legs seven-inch will be released in a limited edition of 100 come Feb. 23, 2014. This one reminds so very much of late '90s British all-lady band Budget Girls and more recent British lady band Wetdog.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Go, Letha, Go!

Letha Rodman Melchoir, several years in, is still fighting cancer. While going through rounds of radiation, giving in and finally settling on chemotherapy, and sporting a purple mohawk, she's also recorded an album and made a video to accompany it. See here:

Her record, Handbook for Mortals, was released last month and can be purchased from husband Dan Melchior's website.

If you haven't yet read through Letha's Happy Hospital Funtime Blog, I very much recommend that you give it a visit and read as much of it as possible. She tackles all of the honest, gory parts that come with cancer treatment, the scary parts that so many people gloss over and are afraid to be let known when giving the timeline from diagnosis to remission. What really separates her from so many others who've written about their experiences, however, is that all the honesty is spoken with an amazing sense of humor that paints her as positively brave. Her battle has been nothing short of terrifying to read about, and it's gone on for approximately three years -- what began as a rare case of clear cell sarcoma (read about the asshole doctor who diagnosed her) became stage IV melanoma, and so began a series of never-ending tumors and experimental treatments. Please help her out if you can.

On a related note, husband Dan Melchior also released an album this year, K-85, and all proceeds from its sale will benefit Letha's care, and the couple's living expenses. As of right now, 25 of the 400 limited edition vinyl copies remain and can be purchased from Dan's website.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The return of Christine Leakey!

Hey! Remember Christine Leakey? Two years later, she's released a new seven-inch and video, and has a new album in the works, due next year.

From her fingertips: 

When I was a teen, I would creep down the stairs once my family was asleep, and under dim light I would quietly play improvisational spooky mood music on my mom's synthesizer. I was most drawn to making up somber creepy toned sounds and circus ditties on keyboards. It's just always been this way since my Great Grandma Jones gave me her 1940s Italian chord organ. 

Th' Whale and th' Warbler

The Whale and the Warbler is perhaps one of the most refreshing submissions I've received as of late; led by Conor McCann, they're a group ranging from six to eight people, based out of Rochester, NY, blending folk and big band in a way that ought to be bothersome on description, but, as it turns out, has much more musical depth than the bands to which they will likely be compared (I'm looking at you, Mumford).

Thanksgiving was recorded in a church, and this recording environment is undoubtedly present in the album's feel. It's like autumn leaves falling, like watching a crowd of people while completely alone, like a wedding, like the anticipation of change. It is at once somber and jolly, lively and soothing. The abundant, occasionally dissonant brass (and very occasional swing) is what sets it apart from so many other folk albums. It mumbles and it crashes, and will make you feel all sorts of things.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The other Heathers.

I absolutely adore this seven-inch by Los Angeles trio Heathers (who are actually soon to take the stage at a Part Time Punks-presented Television Personalities/Wedding Present covers show in tribute to the late John Peel). Deeming themselves "miserablist guitar pop," Heathers are one part Britpop, one part Slumberland-style shoegaze, and one part revivalists of the above (think Pains of Being Pure at Heart). They've got a brand new drummer, and they're so new that their first interview took place just over a week ago.

Heathers will be at the Silverlake Lounge this Tuesday, November 5.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Italy is also part of the '90s revival! Here's Be Forest.

There's a brand new single by Italian band Be Forest, "Captured Heart," off the album Earthbeat, which arrives February 2014. While its unconventional time signature and percussion style are quite nice, I'd like to backtrack to a single that came out a month ago, because it's a bit musically superior and has a solid shoegaze bite to it, reminding of the hazy surf of the late '80s and early '90s that has so strongly been making its return, topped with a barely-there female whisper that could easily have come from Hope Sandoval or Harriet Wheeler.

You can buy this seven-inch at Bandcamp. It's really fucking marvelous.

...with Unconditional Arms

Here's one by Oakland musician Jeffrey Wright, recording under the name Unconditional Arms, as part of a record meant to celebrate the recent birth of his son. The influences are all there, and Wright is the first to admit such; the love of late '90s/early '00s post-rock is all too apparent, but he contributes to the genre quite nicely, and these instrumentals are anything but devoid of authenticity of emotion. Even his pseudonym is dedicated to his newborn son. Speaking of, the kid has good taste in hats.

Stream or purchase Kinship via his website, and check out Wright's other band.

Friends, meet Relays.

This may or may not be the first and last time I feature electronic music of any sort on this site, but my friend made this stuff. And I'm pretty damn proud of 'im. More than ten years in the making, coming to you from Seattle, he's the dude formerly known as 2005 EMP Sound Off! finalist Handshakes.

Madlib: Encouraging the Masses to Look up "Zamrock" on Wikipedia

Madlib is nothing new, but this lead single off his upcoming Rock Konducta Vol. 1 is, as always, a nice departure from other things he's done but is very much recognizable as his own (see his brilliant work via Yesterday's New Quintet, for one). Old news, but he's all Oxnard's got, and Stones Throw hints that the new record will be influenced by '60s and '70s psych rock and funk. New record due in December.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Palehound is here! Palehound is here!

"Vandalize my body if it helps you sleep soundly"

I've essentially taken the month off from music in order to indulge in the disgusting habit of pre-Halloween horror movie marathons -- more specifically, my nights have been spent looking at Michael Myers for approximately four hours at a time. But the thing to pull me out of this rut was yesterday's release of Palehound's debut EP on Exploding in Sound. Nineteen-year old Ellen Kempner's final product, after that preview we got of "Pet Carrot," was somewhat surprising; she'd started drawing a number of Liz Phair comparisons, and this is certainly fair, but my first impression of Bent Nail on the whole was a nostalgic reminder of Lifted. Kempner's got too much backbone and quirk to be labeled a folk artist, but much like what Conor Oberst accomplished on "Waste of Paint" eleven years ago, she goes acoustic several times over and comes off as nothing less than raw.

There are unconventional chord choices and rhythms at times, and she possesses a '90s spirit, that "it's all cool" vibe, which is somewhat puzzling given her age. But there's nothing phony about anything here, not a bit. While I'd have found an ideal album to be more like "Drooler" and "Pet Carrot," and perhaps a bit less singer-songwriter, Kempner is the talented performer most college musicians aspire to be. Moreover, now that it's apparent that she's the cooler Taylor Swift, the girl we all want as our BFF, I'm just as excited about her future output as she is about life.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

No one's favorite Golden Girl?

Once-Vermont-based, now-Brooklyn-based Blanche Blanche Blanche will release their debut as a full band on Wharf Cat early this November. You can pre-order it here. From Life or Death PR:

Sarah Smith and Zach Phillips are nonidiomatic lyricists practicing Open Session Rock. Since 2010 they've written and recorded seven full length records on multitrack cassette, released on NNA, Night People, Feeding Tube, La Station Radar and OSR. Breaking Mirrors is their first album recorded in a professional studio with a live band (consisting of drummer Jo Miller-Gamble, bassist Adam Steck, and guitarists Quentin Moore and Colin White) following the traditional period of demoing and rehearsal.

Lumerians, BOOBS! and fish rape.

My first and last experience with Lumerians was a by-the-book psych jam on stage at the Echoplex, and five years later, they've got more of the same to offer. The Oakland band leans heavily on Krautrock, psychedelia and (self-labeled) space rock energy, and this (NSFW) video, made in promotion of last month's release The High Frontier, is a fair representation. Said video also features the easiest birth since Brooklyn Decker in What to Expect When You're Expecting. 

Purchase The High Frontier.

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's Friday! New music! In a nutshell!

Here's the sexy, new, non-rockin', Turtles-soundin' new song by the Dirtbombs. Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey comes out on In The Red on September 17. Available for purchase here.

Here's a track from Raccoon Fighter. It sounds like the Angus soundtrack. More from them here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Palehound is now a thing.

Hullo! Here's one from Palehound, the musical pseudonym of 19-year old Ellen Kempner, another solid find from Exploding in Sound. Kempner's Bent Nail EP gets released October 22, and this debut single takes a few cues from influences out of the '70s and beyond.

Before she was Palehound, a very teenage Kempner was based in Connecticut and released a record under the name Kempa. See below.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Morrrrre from Alias Punch.

Hey! Remember Alias Punch? The band from Florida with a trippy, trippy video and single out? They've got a new single and an upcoming tour.

Sept. 3: Orlando, FL - The Peacock Room
Sept. 5: Sarasota, FL - Ringling Underground
Sept. 6: Ocean Springs, MS - The Squeaky Lizard
Sept. 7: New Orleans, LA - TBA
Sept. 8: Memphis, TN - The Lamplighter
Sept. 9: Nashville, TN - Springwater
Sept. 10: Carbondale, IL - Lost Cross
Sept. 11: St. Louis, MO - TBA
Sept. 12: Chicago, IL - Township
Sept. 13: Chicago, IL - TBA
Sept. 14: TBA
Sept. 15: Detroit, MI - PJ's Lagerhouse
Sept. 16, Port Huron, MI - Schwonk Soundstead
Sept. 17: Canton, OH - Buzzbin
Sept. 18: Pittsburgh, PA - Howler's Coyote Cafe
Sept. 19: Buffalo, NY - House Show
Sept. 20: Syracuse, NY - Funk n' Waffles
Sept. 21: TBA
Sept. 22: Boston, MA - Radio Bar
Sept. 23: New York, NY - The Delancy
Sept. 24: Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Fireproof
Sept. 25: Philadelphia, PA - Kung Fu Necktie
Sept. 26: Baltimore, MD - TBA
Sept. 27: Washington DC - The Velvet Lounge
Sept. 28: Richmond, VA - TBA
Sept. 29 Chapel Hill, NC - The Cave
Sept. 30 Raleigh, NC- Slim's
Oct. 1: Charleston, SC - The Sparrow
Oct. 2: Athens, GA - Flickr
Oct. 3: Atlanta, GA - Wonderroot
Oct. 4: Atlanta, GA - House Show
Oct. 5: Tampa, FL - Plan B
Oct. 7: Orlando, FL - Will's Pub

Monday, August 26, 2013

Andrew St James grew up in a Bret Easton Ellis novel.

His musicianship is fabulous, and "Cassidy" very much recalls Irish folk, but the press release surrounding Andrew St James admittedly pegs him as an 18-year old San Francisco native who may or may not be kind of a dick.

“I am inspired by the odd characters that I call my acquaintances,” St James says of the colorful cast that inhabits the songs on his debut album Doldrums, set for release on September 24th.  Hip street folk, Irish immigrants and Mission hipsters star in songs that exist as soundtracks to hard-lived lives. They are tunes that speak with a frank realism and dark sense of humor to kids of St James’s age that are living in a mixed-up world.

“Despite its light qualities, ‘Cassidy’ is a dark song,” he says of the album’s first single, a tune that lives on the fringes of heartbreak.  “At the time I wrote it, a former lover of mine had returned to my city. I still loved her, but it was soon evident that she had no intention of seeing me.”  Of Doldrums, St James says that “This album is about growing up,” and adds humorously, “Granted, growing up for me consisted of rancid partying, rich girlfriends, and strange mission coffee shop poetry readings.”

The Eversons may or may not be creepy.

This single by Wellington, New Zealand-based band The Eversons, out on Lil' Chief as an extension of their 2012 record Summer Feeling, offers end-of-summer novelty appeal, is perhaps not the type of record you buy in a shop, and will certainly get old, quickly, but it's lovely for a laugh and has the same sort of giggle-appeal that the Wombats once had with "Little Miss Pipe Dream."

Admittedly, their videos are also good for giggle-appeal, and it's refreshing to see a band that gets a good bit of joy out of being happy. Listen and purchase here.

This one's an old gem:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ovlov - '90s Ramble, Part II

A few weeks ago, I rambled a bit about '90s nostalgia, and where Speedy Ortiz fits into the current revival in music and culture. I don't doubt that they're tired of getting pegged this way, but it's an unavoidable discussion that would otherwise remain an elephant. While on the topic, then, it's time to mention Newtown, Connecticut band Ovlov, who lost drummer Michael Falcone to Speedy Ortiz and remain part of their New England circle.

Last month Ovlov released am, a record that, on first listen, jumped to my list of this year's top three records (Speedy Ortiz's Major Arcana and Iceage's You're Nothing round out the trio). The comparisons are inevitable, but this is not to belittle Ovlov -- rather, the comparisons best serve to show what the band have been given and then improved upon. Their use of powerful minor chords on "The Well," blaring from Steve Harlett's guitar, echo the method of J. Mascis; the guitar solo on "Where's My Dini?" carries the same tone as Mascis' guest solo on Boston Spaceships' "Tourist UFO" (Let it Beard). The harmony between Hartlett and Sadie Dupuis on opener "Grapes" may recall the Rentals. And "Milk" and "Blue Baby" were, eighteen years ago, what I'd hoped Foo Fighters would be. They are Lou Barlow at his highest level of energy but lack his sad sack sensitivity.

Ovlov have been making records for several years, prior to the nostalgic trend to which they're being held, and they've gone through several lineup changes and been pared down to a trio of brothers. There's little originality in them, speaking broadly, but then, who has room to be entirely original at this point? am is as close as we will get to a flawless rock record in 2013.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Three bands, each worth a quick mention.

Brooklyn group Butter the Children have released one of three tracks from their True Crime EP, to be released August 20 on Downtown Records. The group is dark, and may appeal to fans of Is/Is or Wax Idols, but this single appears to have some sort of a foundation in pop, and demonstrates a band that may serve as a follow-up to a more accessible group, like the Soviettes.


Minneapolis-based stoner rock band Huge Rat Attacks have just released Organic Babies, their third record. The sludgy album will appeal to Melvins fans, but it's got influences in general late '80s/early '90s grunge and would just as easily fit into the neverending chain of noisy psych bands that came out of Los Angeles six or seven years ago. The album feels somewhat lazy and anti-climactic, but is an accessible starter record for anyone looking to transition gradually to metal.


The lack of volume provided to Amber Quintero's vocals on "I'm to Blame," from Los Angeles-based Boardwalk, may be an indication that Quintero can do little more than carry a tune. The song's production is odd, guitar up high and vocals turned low, everything else accordingly where it ought to be. But then, this unconventional production is what allows the song to be labeled dreampop and actually create a hypnotic state, using that guitar as an unexpected focal point. Their debut record will be released on Stones Throw on October 15.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The return of Kim Lenz and the Jaguars!

Follow Me will be released on August 20th, 2013 via Riley Records.

And there's a tour!

07/29 Indianapolis, IN @ Birdy's
07/30 Louisville, KY @ Third Street Dive
07/31 Lombard, IL @ Brauer House
08/01 Rochester, MN @ Thursdays on First
08/03 Winnipeg, MB @ River City Rumble
08/05 Grand Rapids, MI @ Tip Top
08/06 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
08/07 Auburn, MI @ Callahan's
08/09 Rochester, NY @ Abilene
08/10 New York, NY @ Joe's Pub
08/12 Vienna, VA @ Jammin' Java
08/13 Raleigh, NC @ Pour House Music Hall
08/14 Atlanta, GA @ Smith's Olde Bar
08/16 Dallas, TX @ Double Wide
08/17 Austin, TX @ Continental Club
08/22 Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
08/23 Bellflower, CA @ Spike's Bar
08/24 San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar

Friday, July 12, 2013

Speedy Ortiz are too young.

At this point, I think it's a bit necessary to clarify something about the 1990s. There's a noticeable '90s revival right now -- naturally so, seeing as something was doomed to follow the '80s trend that wouldn't die, which occurred over a span of, say, eight years. At present there are a number of bands bringing back grunge and sludge and alt rock, the broad soundtrack to Urban Outfitters' revisitation of floral dresses and rompers, god, those fucking awful rompers. Pissed Jeans did a fantastic impression of the Jesus Lizard; Polvo, Refused, and Eve 6 reunited (yes, really), 'zines made a comeback, and Speedy Ortiz is perhaps the first band to successfully draw realistic comparisons to Helium.

The strange thing about this '90s revival is that it's largely being embraced by 20-somethings -- anyone older will remember how terrible they looked in 1992, and then that the decade was capped off with Limp Bizkit and Vertical Horizon dominating mainstream radio. But the 20-somethings, born in the '80s, or even the early '90s, are pushing forward a false nostalgia, and now that it's cool to mimic '90s music trends, we're coming out and saying how much we love all the bands that inspired the currently influenced versions, and pretending we've been fans of Dinosaur Jr. or Polvo or the Jesus Lizard all this time. Obviously, this is bullshit. I was nine years old in 1993, and while I watched an unthinkable amount of MTV at the time, the truth is that I spent my afternoons hoping that Duff would finally get around to showing that Gin Blossoms video I'd been waiting four hours to see.

We love the '90s because we remember that Ren and Stimpy was the best cartoon around, perhaps of all time, and because Huffy had a super sweet Street Rocker bike, and because we were children and generally a bit oblivious to how ugly our clothes were. So today, when we talk about bands that sound nostalgic, and we cite their influences as though we've been listening to said influences for twenty years, it's generally a lie, and the truth is that most of us under thirty have really only become fluent in internet research.

All this in mind, I'm one of many reviewers whose first impression of Speedy Ortiz involved comparisons to Polvo, Helium, even Veruca Salt -- and no, these shouldn't be dismissed, because a comparison is really just a simple way to summarize a sound so that potential fans can be swayed in either direction when there's not much time to dedicate to sifting through music. But what hadn't sunken in until this week's release of their first full-length, Major Arcana, is that I don't love the band's music because they remind me of favorites from years past; I love their music because they bring out the same feelings of excitement and angst and empathy that I feel every time I discover the original thing, even if twenty years late, as an adult.

The Sports EP touched on the humiliation of high school basketball, and the distance between Sadie Dupuis' narrator and the person who had once filled a gap in her life -- Dupuis' lyrics are born out of insecurity, and she puts out a certain amount of vulnerability for us to do what we will with it. This vulnerability is consistent with both her education in poetry and the '90s appeal of Speedy Ortiz. Weren't the '90s about being a loser? The cartoons, the movies, the songs -- everyone had the opportunity to be a self-perceived misfit, and then capitalize on it. But her lyrics are genuine, and they've been carried from a genuine place. And while Major Arcana is quite possibly the loudest and ballsiest of the band's releases to date, "No Below" is perhaps its highest point because you get the sense that the narrator of the aforementioned "Curling" has made a return, and that Dupuis is not quite through recalling "this one friend."

Just buy the record. Major Arcana is available here.

Speedy Ortiz is also featured on a tribute compilation of the early recordings of Lilys. Acquire the whole damn thing here.

Naturally, they're also touring:

07/12 – Kalamazoo, MI @ Milhouse
07/13 - Chicago, IL @ Coach House
07/14 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cause Bar
07/15 – St. Louis, MO @ Melt
07/16 – Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
07/17 – Omaha, NE @ The West Wing
07/18 – Denver, CO @ UMS Festival
07/19 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Salt Haus
07/20 – Boise, ID @ The Red Room
07/21 – Portland, OR @ Habesha
07/22 – Olympia, WA @ Hot Tub House
07/23 – Seattle, WA @ The Comet
07/25 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
07/26 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Bar
07/27 - Los Angeles, CA @ Pehrspace
07/28 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
07/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ Last Exit Live
07/31 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory
08/01 – Denton, TX @ J&J’s Pizza
08/02 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk
08/04 – New Orleans, LA @ Circle Bar
08/05 – Birmingham, AL @ The Forge
08/06 – Atlanta, GA @ 529
08/07 – Athens, GA @ Farm 255
08/08 – Charlotte, NC @ The Milestone
08/09 – Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
08/10 ­– Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
08/11 - Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong
08/12 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
08/13 – Philadelphia, PA @ Golden Tea House

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The arrival of Is/Is!

Choir Croak Out Them Goodies favorite Is/Is has released a new 7-inch for "Hunter" in preparation for a new EP and summer west coast tour. "Hunter" is somewhat of a departure from their last LP, III, which was '90s-inspired, lo-fi grunge, and instead touches on the psychedelic dreampop movement that ran through the Echo Park/Los Angeles scene over the last six or seven years. But they've got so much more backbone and polish than the majority of what's been released in L.A. the last few years, and they appear savvy enough to evolve without abandoning their fanbase.

Finally, they leave Minnesota! Tour dates/locations to date:







8/19 ▶ SPOKANE ◄ TBA



8/22 ▶ PORTLAND ◄ CLUB 21











Vaadat Charigim: At last, an LP.

Burger Records just acquired the debut full-length by Tel Aviv shoegaze band Vaadat Charigim, and will be releasing The World is Well Lost on casssette (Indiana label Warm Ratio will release the record on vinyl). It's a stunner, a cohesive blend of all the '80s-inspired, swirling guitar pop-rock previously released as a stream of singles throughout 2012, and this is its latest video.

"Ze Beseder Lefahed" ("It's Okay to be Afraid"):

Friday, June 21, 2013

Time to meet Alias Punch.

The video below accompanies the most recent single by Orlando-based trio Alias Punch, a spacey surf/garage rock group that, quite refreshingly, not only has a sense of humor but highlights it. It would be all too easy to label the band a tribute to Man or Astro-man?, what with the pseudonyms and guitar freak-outs, but Alias Punch stand on their own as a group blending retro with current, geek irony with serious appreciation for its references, wacky kitsch with kitschy horror.

I had the opportunity to ask a few questions of guitarist Jasper Bleu, who informed me of the following prior to carrying out the interview:

  • Alias Punch will be touring the eastern half of the country in September and October.
  • They will be releasing a seven-track album this year.
  • Drummer Arkie Jay, heard on all previous releases, has been replaced by Eddie Graves. This is how Alias Punch announced his arrival:

Choir Croak Out Them Goodies: How did the members of Alias Punch meet?

Jasper Bleu: Dusty [Mondy] and I met in high school in Tavares, FL. Our first interest was film but we started writing songs acoustically together under the name The Bent Cigarettes. We discovered that playing music was more immediately gratifying than making films, so we decided to go with that. We later changed our name to Alias Punch and decided to "go electric" and got ourselves a drummer. As it turns out, Arkie [Jay, original drummer] went to the same high school as us as well. We met Eddie [Graves] in 2008 and he became our drummer in 2013.

CC: "Halloween '93" is, at more than thirteen minutes, your most ambitious single thus far. What made the band decide to go on an all-out jam this time around, and will the song be a stand-alone single or will it be part of your upcoming album? 

JB: We wrote "Halloween '93" years ago and it was supposed to end up on A New Shade of Blue but we didn't get around to recording it until 2012. It was originally written on acoustic guitar and bass and we just kinda combined a bunch of ideas we were having. We didn't set out to make a thirteen-minute song, that's just kinda how long our creativity lasted. It is a stand-alone song, but we have plans to release a 10" with "Halloween '93" on one side and "Snakeskin" on the other.

CC: Who made the "Halloween '93" video and how was the footage collected?

JB: The video was made by all three of us. We got the footage from old public domain movies and vintage TV commercials, as well as the occasional home video that people upload. is a hell of a place.

CC: Where were the band members on Halloween 1993? 

JB: I was a pirate, and Dusty wasn't allowed to celebrate because of his strict upbringing.

CC: Do you all currently have day jobs outside of the band?

JB: Yes, we have to. Dusty works as a bartender, I'm a pizza delivery driver, and Eddie works at Margaritaville! [!!!]

CC: Orlando isn't exactly known for slop rock. How would you generally describe the music scene there, to anyone who's never been, and what bands, aside from yours, should I look into?

JB: Orlando has a lot of different things going on, particularly in the Mills 50 district. There's usually two to three good shows going on every night. The scene has had its ups and downs over the years but right now I'd say it's on the upswing. Some good friends of ours are Tam Tam The Sandwich Man & The Magical Sugar CookiesJarl Q and His Twin Brothers 3, Yogurt Smoothness, Sterling Schroeder, The Woolybushmen, Thee Wilt Chamberlain, The Moon is a Disco Ball, Maximino, Zap Dragon and the Attack, Telethon, The Sexcapades, The Dark Sixties, Wet Nurse. I could go on and on but that's just a little taste for you.

CC: I got a kick out of "Snakeskin" -- how did the band get paired up with the movie of the same name?

JB: We had a friend that was helping some guys at Full Sail make a short film, and we were asked to make some music for it. We wrote the song in like an hour. The film is not very good. Dusty and I also make an appearance in the film. Dusty falls down at a party wearing a crown and I'm in the background with a camera filming my hand.

CC:Who is your favorite Golden Girl?

JB: I like Dorothy, Eddie likes Blanche, and Dusty likes Sophia.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Will Stratton tribute album and fundraiser!

Singer-songwriter Will Stratton has made several appearances on these pages; most recently, as part of my list of 2012's best records (Post-Empire). Also previously noted here was his battle with stage three testicular cancer. Happily, I can now write that he has won, and is in the process of selecting a cover for his fifth album, tentatively named Gray Lodge Wisdom, which he's been writing during the recovery process. The single downside to his recovery, however, is that since the good news has been announced by his family, donations to his medical fund have ceased, and as of March 31, his fund has raised an amount just over $23,000. This is generally a decent amount of money; however, if you are underinsured and require specialized treatment (in the U.S.), $23,000 may only be a fraction of what is required to get well. He has been through several major surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy, and in order to be treated, had to leave behind a job and relocate for the better part of a year.

That said, a number of his musician friends collaborated on a covers album in tribute. All funds collected from the digital purchase of this album will go directly to Will's account in order to assist him with his medical debt. Purchase below, or purchase one of his original albums via his own Bandcamp page.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Damon Albarn in Mali, and an update to an ongoing international crisis

On May 19, the New York Times published a piece regarding the ban on music which followed a relatively recent occupation of northern Mali by militant Islamist group Ansar Dine, citing a Guardian article from October 2012. Previously, the Guardian had stated:

An official decree banning all western music was issued on 22 August by a heavily bearded Islamist spokesman in the city of Gao. "We don't want the music of Satan. Qur'anic verses must take its place. Sharia demands it," the decree says.

The ban comes in the context of a horrifically literal and gratuitous application of Sharia law in all aspects of daily life. Militiamen are cutting off the hands and feet of thieves or stoning adulterers. Smokers, alcohol drinkers and women who are not properly attired are being publicly whipped.

The Northern Mali conflict began in early 2012 with the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) looking to make Azawad, part of northern Mali, independent of the Malian government. The MNLA, run by Tuaregs, took control of Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu after Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré was overthrown in a coup d'etat, and proclaimed Azawad's independence -- however, Ansar Dine sought to enforce Sharia law, and Ansar Dine and MNLA fell into their own conflict, resulting in Ansar Dine's takeover. As of January of this year, the French Army was called in to help the Malian government regain control, and launched Opération Serval to intervene on the Islamist takeover of Konna from the Malian army. Chad came in, the U.S. sent troops to Niger, bordering Mali, in order to assist the French, and set up a new air base to conduct surveillance against Al Qaeda. Bringing us up to speed, in July 2013, the UN will launch a 12,600-person Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to restore democratic governance and the presence of an election process.

This is a very complicated conflict and the role of MNLA has shifted several times. What is certain, however, is the food insecurity brought on by the conflict; on April 29, the Guardian reported that the UN claimed "282,548 people [are] registered displaced in Mali, and almost 50,000 refugees are in Burkina Faso and Niger, and 74,000 in Mauritania." This, in addition to Algeria closing its border to Mali and cutting off another food route. The Guardian also wrote that "one in five households faces food shortages categorised as 'severe' in northern Mali, and 'extreme' in the Tessalit and Abeibara districts in the Kidal region," partly a result of "herders [being] unable to use traditional pastures and water points," and the departure of NGOs, which typically "created employment for local people, which brought income, and invested in food security" via purchase of seeds, fertilisers, water pumps and fuel for irrigation.

It now seems an appropriate time to look back at Mali Music, a 2002 album led by Damon Albarn, then asked to play Oxfam ambassador, in collaboration with a number of Malian musicians, including kora player Toumani Diabaté and Afel Bocoum, nephew of Ali Farka Touré. Released eleven years ago, at the height of Gorillaz' popularity and just prior to Blur's return with Think Tank, Mali Music was a British effort that never really got much mention in the U.S. It was made using a back-and-forth process that involved Albarn traveling to Mali with a melodica and playing casually with Malian musicians, returning to London to edit the music, and sending his work back to Mali for vocal additions. The result is a combination of efforts that could have easily worked on a Gorillaz album ("Le Relax" in particular) and those that appear virtually untouched by his hand, such as the beautiful "4am at Toumani's" and the brief "Kokanka Sata Doumbia on River." And while it'd have been great to see a record with more of the latter -- which means that, yes, the record was successful in piquing my interest in Malian music -- the fussed-with tracks are nothing to scoff at and contribute to a cohesive tribute, rather than serving to point out the differences between Western and West African cultures.

During last year's conflict, Albarn returned to Bamako, Mali, to again collaborate with Bocoum. The music to result would aim to help raise awareness of the country, as well as funds for Oxfam relief of food insecurity brought on by a combination of drought and the mass exodus to an already-struggling Niger, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso.

Mali Music - 4 A.M. at Toumani's
Mali Music - Ko Kan Ka Sata Doumbia on River
Purchase 2002's Mali Music

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Itsa Mixtape That I Didn't Make!

What better way to return from a hiatus than with a mixtape from the always-excellent Speedy Ortiz? The Massachusetts-based band has made a Massachusetts-themed mixtape for Impose Magazine, and it's nearly perfect, inclusive of the Swirlies, Helium, and Bel Biv DeVoe. Meanwhile, they've got a debut full-length due out on Carpark Records on July 9.

1. Deluxx Folk Implosion “Daddy Never Understood”
2. Swirlies “Pancake”
3. Big Bear “Song 16”
4. Come “Secret Number”
5. Heatmiser “Busted Lip”
6. Drop Nineteens “Winona”
7. Sneeze “Dark Elf”
8. Grass Is Green “Somebody’s Something”
9. Sebadoh “Punching Myself in the Face Repeatedly, Publicly”
10. The Gutters “Lobotomy”
11. Blake Babies “Girl in a Box”
12. Bell Biv Devoe “Gangsta”
13. Helium “Pat’s Trick”
14. The Cars “My Best Friend’s Girl”
15. Morphine “I’m Free Now”
16. The Barbarians “Moulty”
17. Wicked Farleys “Fitchburg, MA”
18. Cave In “Moral Eclipse”
19. Spore “Number One”
20. Jonathan Richman “Twilight in Boston”

Friday, April 19, 2013

Come see Kaleidoscope!

English '60s psych group Kaleidoscope has reformed (in the Smashing Pumpkins sense), and 67-year old frontman Peter Daltrey will be taking his touring act, currently listed as Kaleidoscope (UK) and now inclusive of members of groups like Winter Flowers and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, to the U.S. The tour has kicked off in California, and they'll be at the Satellite in L.A. this Saturday, as well as the Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice on Sunday.

They needed to accept donations via Kickstarter in order to start their tour, so come support them.

April 20 - Los Angeles, CA - The Satellite
April 21 - Venice, CA - Del Monte Speakeasy
April 22 - Las Vegas, NV - The Bunkhouse Saloon
April 27 - Austin, TX - Austin Psych Fest

The return of Kaleidoscope also coincides with the March release of a limited edition book of the collected lyrics of Peter Daltrey's work via Kaleidoscope and Fairfield Parlour.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dead Trend may or may not be joking.

It's actually not surprising when there's some crossover between music and literature; I've gotten a number of fiction recommendations from Kurt Cobain and Pete Doherty, loved the writing of Richard Hell and Jim Carroll, not to mention the memoirs of others. And then, there are the bands who've provided me with history lessons where school quite sadly failed, like Zounds and Stiff Little Fingers. For people who create such simple music, a number of punk and rock musicians in particular tend to be quite literate, intelligent, and eager to share knowledge and ideas.

Next on the list, then, is an interesting case of the writer-turned-musician, Mike Fournier, who e-introduced himself to me as the writer of the Double Nickels on the Dime portion of the 33 1/3 series, and who also, perhaps not coincidentally, has taught college-level English and punk rock history. In the last couple of years, Fournier attended grad school at the University of Maine, started drumming for a band, published his debut novel, and used said band as a subject within said novel. Thusly, the group transformed from a fictional subject to a real-life effort, and their 2012 EP and tour served to promote the book -- it's all very Spinal Tap.

This band, Dead Trend, have decided to become a thing of the real world, and now that they've decided to eliminate the punch line, they're releasing a record as themselves (erm -- at very least, this one isn't said to have been "originally released 4/1987"). False Positive wears its influences proudly and well, and fuck if this isn't the closest anyone's come to recording an update on Black Flag's Damaged. In fact, "19th Hole" is a perfect hybrid of "Six Pack" and "TV Party" to the extent that I'd be asking for cash, were I Greg Ginn. But we need Dead Trend right now, because there's an unfortunate dearth of humor in current music, and they have a lot of potential to fill the proverbial hole.

Dead Trend are releasing one song off the album per week, leading up to its release on May 7.

Sixty-five dollars for a pastel shirt. Double-knit trousers for fifty more. Hundred dollar putter in your rental cart. My case of beer costs five bucks at the store. 

To drink all day, I don’t need a 19th Hole. 

A Speedy Ortiz single so new it hasn't been released yet.

The new Speedy Ortiz single is their best yet! And it comes out as a seven-inch in a limited edition of 500 (200 of which will be "half piss yellow, half blue"), two weeks from now.

Pre-order the "Ka-Prow!" seven-inch.

See them on tour in April:

4/14: the sinclair (cambridge, ma) w/ pissed jeans, cottaging
4/18: suny purchase (purchase, ny) w/ lvl up, suns, nude dudes, lawns
4/19: il motore (montreal, qc) w/ the this many boyfriends club
4/20: pressed (ottawa, on) w/ ashleys
4/21: the shop under parts & labour (toronto, on)
4/22: homegrown hamilton (hamilton, on)
4/23: the garden bowl (detroit, mi) w/ young squares
4/24: secret daytime bbq (lansing, il) w/ carbon leak, empty isle
4/24: subterranean (chicago, il) w/ geronimo!, kangaroo
4/25: the chameleon (cincinnati, oh) w/ weakness, tweens
4/26: 222 ormsby (pittsburgh, pa) w/ legs like tree trunks, ribbons
4/27: wbarbq @ barnard college (new york, ny)
4/27: shea stadium (brooklyn, ny) w/ aye nako, big ups
4/28: zinefest/ladyfest @ the flywheel (easthampton, ma) w/ potty mouth, starvation dance, boy toy

Kinski - Cosy Moments

My first bit of exposure to Kinski took place in Seattle around 2003, which is perhaps when they were best suited to be discovered. Already, ten years ago, they were established adults, circulating around something of a non-scene; it’s sort of unclear why they never developed the large cult following that other instrumental and post-rock bands have achieved, though perhaps it has something to do with the labels to which they’ve signed—would you attempt to market prog or psych rock to the Sub Pop or Kill Rock Stars audience? They have a crowd, somewhere, but they’re misfits in their Pacific Northwest setting. [...]

(Read the full review at Your Flesh.)

Purchase Cosy Moments.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Some would surely argue that the world is in need of a new Bob Dylan, and on first listen (and glance), it'd have been easy to point to Matthew Daniel Siskin, a singer-songwriter going by the name Gambles for the last eight months. As Gambles, Siskin will release an EP, his first, called Far From Your Arms (May 7, GMBLS). His voice is rough, his music simple. He may not have any anthems on hand, but he's a poet of sorts, and this is a funny thing, considering he's the founder of a design company and has admitted to a decline in the attention paid to words.

This was written on the road between Minneapolis and Chicago, recorded in the car, same trip, and performed on his Chicago tour date immediately thereafter:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Greg Ashley Covers Leonard Cohen.

I've always struggled to get into Leonard Cohen; a bit of my trouble might have to do with the way I discovered him. As a kid of about eight or nine, my dad had sat me down to watch a live performance of his, and twenty years ago, as a child, I'd found Cohen a bit of a serious cheeseball. A decade later, I'd wound up in college, where it suddenly became trendy to love Cohen -- get stoned and drink coffee and listen to a scratched-up vinyl copy of Songs of Love and Hate, what have you. The whole thing was a bit too college for me. I was too busy collecting Billy Childish records and working on my snark to sit and discuss the poetry of "Chelsea Hotel No. 2," anyway. It should also be mentioned that, seeing as Cohen's voice is more that of poet than singer, I'd always considered him more a songwriter than a musician, the ideal writer to see his music performed by others. But I never cared much for him.

Skipping ahead, then. I've been following former Gris Gris and Mirrors brainchild Greg Ashley for close to a decade, from the beginning of the Gris Gris and beyond its end, and since his brief return in the form of a mini-tour with King Khan and the Gris Gris in 2011, he's been more or less quiet, save for a bit of production work here and there. As it turns out, however, he's come out with a new release, a full cover of Leonard Cohen's 1977 album Death of a Ladies' Man, and since November 2012, Ashley's version has sat quietly on Bandcamp, more or less waiting to be found, or not.

The concept of Greg Ashley covering an album filled with brass, jazz and disco, paying tribute to a record with Phil Spector's name written throughout, is somewhat curious, as Ashley's presence tends to be rather small. He's an awkward, quiet performer, and on record, a delicate guitarist. So here he is, now a man of his early 30s, playing relatively loyal to Cohen's recording, trying with all his might to growl through his teeth. His covers are true, and I'm happy for his return, but I'm not all that eager to hear him sing "Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On." Maybe this will be your thing.

Stream and purchase Death of a Ladies Man.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Julian Lynch - Lines

Thank god for Julian Lynch - were it not for him, the Orange You Glad title would've gone horribly neglected at one point.

Madison, Wisconsin-based Lynch, overeducated creator of something like noise-folk or baroque-pop, what have you, has got a new record shipping out on April 5, called Lines. At this point, genres are just silly, and Lynch is the kind of artist that most music reviewers will drive themselves bonkers over in attempting to describe. Myself included. So what can be said about Lines is that it's dissonant, yet it's apologetically hushed and mild, and it's halfway between Greg Ashley and Gene Defcon.

Listen to and then buy a copy of Lines.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

At last, Molly Drake.

Back in October 2007, I had the opportunity to visit the Egyptian Theater to see the Nick Drake documentary A Skin Too Few, presented in part by Drake's sister, Gabrielle. During the event, Gabrielle played a tape of piano recordings by her mother, Molly, taking care to note Molly's influence on her son's music and acknowledging that a collection of her recordings would eventually see the light of day. More than five years later, Molly Drake's home-recorded music is available to the public.

Listen to samples of the album here.

Last weekend, WNYC re-broadcast a marvelous podcast about Nick and Molly Drake, originally recorded in April 2012. Have a listen at

And, truly, buy this record.

Bleached - Ride Your Heart

What made Mika Miko shows such a blast—and I’ve come to realize that a lot of men didn’t see their appeal—was that, as a 5-foot, 2-inch, 21-year old girl, being able to dance in a room full of other 21-year old girls, without having to worry about getting trampled on in a circle pit, allowed for fun without the safety concerns of a male-dominated punk show. Pussy reasoning on my part, but it’s the truth. And it was unfortunately rare to see a group of girls get up and do what boys had been doing for thirty years, making stupid punk rock about mundane topics without worrying about being pretty. Maybe “Turkey Sandwich” was their “TV Party.” So it’s a shame to see that the Clavin sisters have since hopped on the Dum Dum Girls train, with traditional girl group lyrics, and mini-dresses on stage (perhaps influenced by Jennifer Clavin’s time in New York while singing for Cold Cave). [...]

(Read the full review at Your Flesh.)

Purchase Ride Your Heart.

The Mary Onettes - Hit the Waves

A few different music scenes co-existed in the 1980s, and the first couple records by the Jönköping-based Mary Onettes sparked a number of comparisons, most notably to the happier side of The Cure, and with a strange amount of accuracy, to a-ha. But there was a certain authenticity that kept the Mary Onettes from sounding kitschy or ironic. The band’s 2007 eponymous debut in particular, wrapped in a booklet of dark, glossy nature shots, found its influences bouncing from song to song, drawing inspiration from glum, generic 90s post-Britpop (“Pleasure Songs”), Echo and the Bunnymen (“Lost”), and Pornography-era Cure (“Void”), all within the first twelve minutes of the album. [...]

(Read the full review at Your Flesh.)

Purchase Hit the Waves.

Wax Idols - Discipline and Desire

The jump from 2011′s No Future to 2013′s Discipline and Desire is a major upgrade, and a prime example of how collaboration can aid a band’s output rather than hurt its creative process. Primary member and songwriter Heather Fedewa/Hether Fortune, at only 25, has already taken part in a handful of bands, been a dominatrix, dated a cult rock star (the late Jay Reatard), and developed enough confidence and self-assuredness to spew a stream of arrogance and “you don’t get my art” arguments throughout her social media feeds. She carries herself with the cockiness and androgyny of a leader respectively beyond her years, and beyond traditionally-defined femininity. For someone so obscure, she’s quite a somebody. And she is extremely self-aware. [...]

(Read the full review at Your Flesh.)

Purchase Discipline and Desire.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Twilight Sad returns! Again!

Lucky us - there's a new Twilight Sad B-side, from the sessions of No One Can Ever Know, released last year. Just to remind, they're also repeating a tour with Frightened Rabbit, as of this very week, and are touring as a stripped-down three-piece, per the request of Frightened Rabbit. So incredibly worthwhile.

3/08 Seattle, WA Showbox
03/09 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre
03/11 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
03/12 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up
03/13 Los Angeles, CA Music Box / Fonda
03/14 Santa Cruz, The Crepe Place *
03/15 San Francisco, Rickshaw Stop *
03/18 Denver, CO Gothic Theatre
03/19 Lincoln, NE Bourbon Theatre
03/21 Minneapolis, MN Varsity Theater
03/22 Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theater
03/23 Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
03/24 Nashville, TN 3rd and Lindsley
03/26 Cincinnati, OH Bogarts
03/27 Lousville, KY Headliners Music Hall

*Headlining Dates.
All other dates with Frightened Rabbit.