Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chanukah round-up of rockunroll

Really delighted to share a new song from Dan Melchior, whose All At Sea gets released next week.

A few months back, Michael Galinsky wrote a beautiful tribute to Dan's wife, Letha Rodman Melchior, for Rumur (featuring a ten-minute video very much worth watching). Letha passed away from cancer this past September, but her own second album, Shimmering Ghost, was completed shortly before her passing, and is now available for pre-order. It will see a January release. Having gotten a taste of new music by both Dan and Letha, it really does seem that the two had had a chance to influence each other's art while at home together over the last several years. And I'm glad for it -- the results are quite stunning.

Erase Errata are making a comeback -- Lost Weekend will be their first record in nine years, out Jan. 20, and the first taste of the album is showing a wild evolution, much more polished than where they began a decade and a half ago. The self-released Lost Weekend was recorded in Iowa City and is available for pre-order here.

Speaking of excellent lady-bands, this was the year of Sex Stains, yet another Allison Wolfe-fronted act, quietly making their way in and around Los Angeles throughout 2014. They are what the Slits ought to have been when they reformed an approximate decade ago, and they're an adequate replacement for the Mika Miko-shaped hole in L.A. that developed when Bleached became a band.

And speaking of bands partly named for sex, Minnesota punk band the Sex Rays have got a seven-inch out today, undoubtedly intended to fulfill the longing for new music by fans of Spider Fever and Beehive and the Barracudas.

Finally, making a return in 2015 are Wellington band the Eversons! They wish you a merry Christmas in the meantime.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Things are happening in New York.

Oh, swell, more Girlpool! They've got two more Mondays left of their free Monday night residency at the Echo in Los Angeles, and "Alone at the Show," posted above, is now part of this here compilation tape to be released by the Le Sigh. There'll be a release party for it at the Silent Barn in Brooklyn on Dec. 21, and as noted via the link: For those of you that can't make it out to the launch party, the zine and tape compilation will be available for purchase online on Monday, December 22nd. We will post the purchase link once it is up for sale.

Speaking of Brooklyn, Exploding in Sound has just released an EP by Kal Marks, Just a Lonely Fart (think rickety old man, not methane), and it's not far off from '90s rock fronted by Bingo Gazingo. Give 'er a try.

Ah, hell. Christmas - Part II.

Halfway to Christmas means another crop of Christmas songs. Next on the list, and perhaps the best of the 2014 holiday season, is Marika Hackman's "O' Come, O' Come, Emmanuel," which is actually part of this Christmas compilation, whose profits will benefit breast cancer awareness organization CoppaFeel! The English singer's version of the traditional hymn is stunning, and perhaps the thing that best highlights Hackman's voice to date.

The Christmas offering will cap off approximately two years' worth of build up to Hackman's debut full-length record, We Slept at Last, due Feb. 16 on Dirty Hit. My only gripe with Hackman is nothing to do with her and everything to do with the press release surrounding her upcoming record. From said announcement:

Marika Hackman is an artist who is more likely to quote proto-feminist ghost stories such as the Yellow Wallpaper than align with audience expectations of a woman prepared to “sing a few nice songs with a pretty voice and then forget about it”.

Clearly she’s made of more substance than her contemporaries.

A captivating vocalist and incredibly attractive individual who is more interested in challenging perceptions of what songwriting can or should be in modern times, to bring us a greater sense of truth and understanding of current issues, from the forms of the past.

As her label, is it necessary to point out that she's attractive? Particularly after mentioning that she's got substance and isn't just a pretty girl with a pretty voice? Maybe this sort of press is meant to hark back to her modeling career with Burberry, but it's tiring to alternate between only seeing attractive musicians and hearing it pointed out how surprisingly talented an attractive musician is in spite of being attractive.

Moving on.

These aren't directly applicable to Christmas, but on the topic of fall/winter holidays, Neil Pennycook of Edinburgh's Meursault has been releasing new demos throughout December, under the name Supermoon, and he's calling the whole package a Month of Black Fridays. Made apparent by his hashtag choices on Soundcloud: #Terror, #Sad, Band. There will be an official Supermoon album out on Song, by Toad in 2015. As Toad understands it, anyway.

Finally, a proper-ass Christmas track. Here's upright bassist/singer Kate Davis covering "Blue Christmas" alongside Postmodern Jukebox, who have a wide range of videos featuring vintage-style covers of modern pop songs. You may know them from their version of "All About That Bass," or their cover of "Royals," featuring Puddles, the Sad Clown with the Golden Voice.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bringing retro back -- again!

There should be all sorts of groaning to do over Surf Rock is Dead -- the terribly named Brooklyn band's surf rock debut single, building on Brooklyn's beaten-to-death reputation for irony, or better yet, releasing their first surf rock single in December, when only those of us experiencing drought are suited to the genre. But it's a good start, beautiful guitar tone, a pleasant hark back to the earlier part of Obama's presidency, when the Soft Pack were still the Muslims. Looking forward to the debut EP by Surf Rock is Dead; as of right now, the duo is brand new and still relying on Facebook in lieu of a website.

Vaguely of the same melodic rock category is Philadelphia-based Literature, whose second album Chorus has been released on Slumberland, now an extremely genre-consistent label. Here's a taste:

London O'Connor, playing it cool

So, this London O'Connor kid wrote a song about romance and then directed a video from the perspective of someone who starts getting involved in sexy time, and honestly, the whole thing feels like it was created by someone who had sex once in his 20s and then felt the weight of the world and said, "my god, I need to write about what this feels like, stat."

O'Connor just did a nifty little interview with Mass Appeal and said the following: "Some labels actually hit me up after I put out 'Oatmeal' and I gave them a fake manager’s email. It was, like a mix of Bob Dylan, and Bob Clampett (the guy who made bugs bunny), and then [I] just let all those emails go in an inbox unanswered. Because I don't need them right now. [...] I’m working on building a world right now instead of building a linear album."

Here's "Oatmeal," then, something he released in October alongside a GAME in which you travel through or get hit by doors and shoot (pew-pew-pew!) at remote control units.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Trigger Warning: Christmas

Chanukah begins in a week, so it seems this is the official holiday countdown. So it seems.

The first bit comes from London's Fire at Night. They make use of proper jingle bells!

Next, something from Los Angeles's very own 8mm (Eight Millimeter). This one's quite nice and reminds of Poe's cover of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." Remember Poe?

Couldn't not share this addition to the ol' inbox; Rabbi Steven Blane shares a song that is all-encompassing and relevant to the entirety of the holiday season. Wait for his shout out to Kwanzaa!

And perhaps even more kitschy than "Gonna Light the Lights Tonight" is the fresh holiday album from Roman Coppola, whose Molto Groovy Christmas is a hark back to the gaudy Italian Christmas of the '60s. My favorite is his version of "Feliz Navidad."

The end of Gravenhurst

It's been a weeklong hiatus since last post; in the last seven days, Eric Garner's murderer was set free, leaving an entire country baffled, and in somewhat more obscure news, Nick Talbot passed away. Talbot, a writer, was better known to me (and many, surely) as Gravenhurst, an English musician who created delicate, melancholy folk for Warp Records.

I'd first learned of Gravenhurst in 2004, whilst working the obligatory college radio gig, and having received a copy of Flashlight Seasons for consideration, I immediately felt gripped, and of course included it in rotation. I couldn't not. In an excellent recent interview with Nothing But Hope And Passion, Talbot reflects on Flashlight Seasons in part by saying, "There are some overly-sentimental and mawkish moments on Flashlight that are a bit embarrassing," but there's nothing embarrassing about the record -- it is music that is constructed as simply as it ought to be, his voice understated, his lyrics intelligently written, stories about things like murder and emotional isolation. The world needed more literate songwriters to begin with, but we now need an additional one to compensate for the loss of Talbot.

At this moment, no cause of death has been released for the 37-year old's premature death, but I can't help but feel the same sort of disbelief and heartbreak I felt upon learning of 31-year old Jeff Hanson's death, which was also initially clouded in mystery until an autopsy revealed a drug overdose. The soft, introverted style with which Hanson sang probably added somewhat to the romance of his death, and surely the same could be said of Talbot. But this isn't where I speculate about suicide or overdoses or undiagnosed heart conditions, or pretend that death is in fact romantic. Instead I will mourn the early end of a career, marked by the 10-year anniversary of Flashlight Seasons and its re-release as part of a celebratory bundle, for which a promotional teaser of sorts had been put out just two weeks ago.

Here's one last, wonderful bit.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two exciting returns, from the north!

Here's that B-side to the Coathangers' cover of the Gun Club's "Sex Beat," the first recording from These Arms Are Snakes in five years. The Lost Sounds cover is quite true, albeit less glamorous than the original Alicja Trout-fronted version.

Speaking of comebacks -- have you spent several years wondering, "What is Terry Six up to lately?" He's returned to music after a hiatus, his last project being the Nice Boys, and he and King Louie Bankston (once a songwriter for and original member of Six's original band, the Exploding Hearts) have joined up after a decade apart in order to record a new seven-inch, which I'd somehow missed in September. Terry & Louie are now releasing music via Six's brand new Tuff Break Records, and according to the San Francisco-based The Bay Bridged, "the label is 'a way to facilitate control of The Exploding Hearts’ legacy and put them under my and the other families’ roof.' Plans are in the works to release a second Terry & Louie 7-inch, an Exploding Hearts singles box set, and more in 2015." Exciting to have him back and see the former Exploding Hearts working together again!

Kooooky things.

BBQ/Mark Sultan has just released a new single, to be released on Italy's Wild Honey Records in a pressing of 500, and has additionally put out a previously unreleased track that he'd recorded a couple of years ago as a one-man band. Buy his stuff here.

As for something a bit wackier -- new Qui video!

And their winter tour includes an enviable supporting slot with a newly reunited Babes in Toyland, (already sold out) at the Roxy on Feb. 12.

12/04 Las Vegas, NV @ The Double Down Saloon
12/05 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theater (w/ Moving Units, All Leather)
12/06 San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick (w/ Moving Units, All Leather)
12/07 San Francisco, CA @ The Hemlock
12/09 Boise, ID @ Neurolux
12/11 Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
12/12 Portland, OR @ The Darkplace
12/13 Arcata, CA @ The Alibi
02/12/15  Los Angeles, CA @ The Roxy  (w/ Babes In Toyland)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Oi! It's Christmastime!

It's nearly Thanksgiving, which means...time for Christmas! Hard Left are something of a novelty super-ish group based in Oakland, featuring a few onetime members of the bands that founded Slumberland Records, and they've got a little California mini-tour scheduled for mid-December:

Dec 11 – San Francisco, CA – Knockout w/Terry Malts
Dec 12 – Sacramento, CA – Cafe Colonial w/West Lords
Dec 13 – Long Beach, CA – The Prospector w/Fartbarf & Feral Kizzy
Dec 14 – Los Angeles, CA – Cafe Nela w/Terry Malts & Spokenest
Dec 15 – Oakland, CA – 1-2-3-4-Go! w/Quaaludes

Admittedly, they're a pretty decent imitation of British oi!

Comin' from Atlantis

Israel-born, Berlin-based, awfully young band Soda Fabric will release their debut LP, Atlantis, next spring, as a follow up to 2013's Tears on the Beach EP. In celebration, let's revisit some of their videos!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Don't mess with Jesus

In May of this year, just prior to Danish music festival 13 Torches for a Burn, intended to celebrate Posh Isolation, a Copenhagen-based label co-owned by a now-21-year old, Highland Park venue Church on York was shut down due to having been deemed an illegal venue. The festival got moved to Los Globos in Silverlake at last minute, and now there's a short documentary on the unfortunately timed weekend. Happily features a good bit of Iceage footage.

View it here.

Old favorites, new projects

First, John Reis has a new project! Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake is putting out Modern Surf Classics, a tribute to surf music and films of the '60s and '70s, on Jan. 27, (obviously) on Swami Records. The Blind Shake is a trio sans bass that once served as Michael Yonkers' backing band, lucky bastards.

There'll also be a tour this spring!

2/12 -- San Francisco, CA -- Bottom of the Hill
2/13 -- Los Angeles, CA -- The Satellite
2/14 -- Long Beach, CA -- Alex's Bar
2/15 -- San Diego, CA -- Casbah
2/19 -- Minneapolis, MN -- Turf Club
2/20 -- Milwaukee, WI -- Shank Hall
2/21 -- Chicago, IL -- Empty Bottle
2/25 -- Brooklyn, NY -- St. Vitus
2/26 -- New York, NY -- Mercury Lounge
2/27 -- Washington, DC -- Rock & Roll Hotel
2/28 -- Philadelphia, PA -- Underground Arts: Black Box

Pitchfork just released a short documentary today on Brian Chippendale and Greg Saunier, two of the most brilliant living drummers, respectively of Lightning Bolt and Deerhoof. Saunier in particular is a fantastic interview subject, nervous tick, terrible laugh and all. And what Saunier says of Lightning Bolt?

"The first time that I heard Lightning Bolt, that I most loved about them, was that, finally, I was hearing a band that wasn't appropriating an older style. it sounded like it was invented from absolute scratch [...] they were gonna build it up, cavemen-style, from a stone and two twigs or something."

Totally worth your twenty minutes, and goes hand-in-hand with a limited-edition vinyl release of an album the two created together, recorded in 2013 at the almost-defunct Death by Audio.

Dirt Dress, local to Los Angeles, once sounded like every other band in the greater Silverlake area that was just learning how to handle instruments and attempting to become a proper band. Have a listen to 2007's Theme Songs as proof. Today, they were featured on KXLU's Part Time Punks and cited as a post-punk band that've been around for a long time. As of this week, they've got a new EP providing a point of contrast from what they once were. It also just so happens that they'll be at the Echo in Los Angeles this Sunday (Nov. 23) for their record release show.

Better yet, revisit their demos from 2010 to see how the evolution has been bridged:

Samples from both hemispheres

Several years ago, I'd mourned the assumed end of Skywave and wondered what had become of them, only to discover that the end of Skywave meant the start of A Place to Bury Strangers. Already, 2015 will mark the fourth album by A Place to Bury Strangers, Transfixiation, due Feb. 16 on Dead Oceans. Here's the lead single from the album, further proof that the band can essentially do no wrong. (Also! They'll be at the Echo in Los Angeles on Mar. 15.)

Kim Deal is predictably fabulous at 53 and has an EP coming out! The video for "Biker Gone" boasts a rather original plot and is the only video to come to mind that features a buffet.

Thee Gold Blooms, while not original in concept, are part of that fabulous rock movement in Australia mentioned on previous occasions, and would fit beautifully on the roster of Orange County's Burger Records, what with their breezy, lo-fi surf-rock sway and grainy vocals. They hail from Perth, and "Katie-Sue" will be released Dec. 5 on Pavement Records, an LP to follow in January 2015.

And, finally -- remember the Eversons? That wickedly funny band out of Wellington, New Zealand whose every song seems to be about their frontman pitted against the rest of the group? Everson Mark Turner has got a new band, The Emilys, and though this isn't necessarily the strongest first release possible, speaking musically, it's a collaborative project among visual artists and looks to be promising in the video arena.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Two new videos outta Australia!

The first comes from Melbourne-based favorite Total Control, a video for "Flesh War" off this year's fantastic electro-post-punk album Typical System.

The second comes from Ilias, an Australian/Algerian Sydney-based solo artist making good use of IMAX footage who claims an influence in Ennio Morricone, and who will surely appeal to fans of John Frusciante. The following comes from this year's All the Way Up.

In addition, the artist known as Ilias has kindly written the following:

Before the curtain is pulled, I decided to donate ALL PROCEEDS from future sales of my music towards helping the refugee & humanitarian crisis in Syria. With winter coming, 7 million displaced & 3.5 million refugees scattered overseas, this is one of the worst human tragedy in decades & they certainly need the money more than I do. 

You can help by buying one of my albums directly on my site: 

Music for you = help for them. ALL MY SALES until the end of the year will be donated to the UNHCR relief effort. You can also learn more on the situation & donate directly by visiting the UNHCR site


Powder Blue, reminding you to remember Saskatoon

Nice new offering here from Powder Blue, an (almost) all-lady band out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -- this lovely blend of dark shoegaze, grunge and ethereal harmonies might bring to mind Azure Ray, Is/Is, or Psychic Love, and could easily have been recorded in any of the last three decades. They're in the midst of touring Europe and have a new EP, II, set for release on Dec. 8.

Here are a couple of older samples with which to get familiar.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Meet Bully!

Bully is a perfectly retro-sounding alternative rock act from Nashville that brings to mind Juliana Hatfield and former tourmates Superchunk. The Bully EP just got released on Oct. 21 and it's a rehashing of the best parts of the early '90s, playfully flirty without being overtly sexual, guitar rock that isn't overwhelmingly so. Would love to see them join members of the Exploding in Sound roster for a tour one day, though they don't appear to be leaving the middle of the country any time soon:

1/19/15 - Louisville, KY - Zanzabar *
1/20/15 - Champaign, IL - Highdive *
1/21/15 - Indianapolis, IN - The HI-FI *

* w/ Strand of Oaks

Howls, chants, glocks: Johanna Glaza

London-based multi-instrumentalist Johanna Glaza is not for everyone, as her mildly new age method is well aligned with Joanna Newsom and the albums of Kate Bush that aren't The Dreaming or Hounds of Love. But this single is quite stunning, two wintery and gentle ballads that make use of the piano's upper register and demonstrate a dreamy, wide vocal range. The "Paper Widow" single gets released on Nov. 30 and is a beautiful follow-up to this summer's Letter to New York, from which the following came:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Wombats, they're arriving!

Was just wondering what the Wombats had been up to when news of a warm-up tour came out, including word of a stop in Los Angeles, to prep for a third record.

And because animated videos are nice:

Burger, reppin' Fullerton

In which we learn that Chad from Meatbodies is Ariel Pink's doppelgänger.

Jumping across the seas, retrieving music along the way

A lot of good, poppy rock has been coming from Australia as of late; the newest bit to arrive comes from Brisbane-based Born Joy Dead, who remind of all the wonderful indie rock things we listened to during college (assuming college was ten or twelve years ago), big, powerful drumming and harmonized vocals worthy of a drunken sing-along.

Speaking of bands from way out yonder, Laverge (ah, creative name, yes) hail from Valencia, Spain, and they sound like a decent imitation of Queens of the Stone Age.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tour begins tonight!

Buzzcocks - The Way

Admittedly, Buzzcocks were never necessarily a band with an urgent message; they weren't political, they didn't address complex feelings or concepts in a way that felt terribly gripping; they mostly offered simply put songs about unrequited love or hopelessness over basic pop punk chords (except, perhaps, the Steve Diggle-sung "Love is Lies," though even this is more or less of a similar formula). And as an older, former coworker once explained about their live shows, "there were always tons of girls at Buzzcocks shows."

If there's any common trait among punk bands that've either reunited or stayed together over a span of thirty or forty years, it's that they often wind up sounding like a cover band mimicking themselves, comprised of very competent session musicians. This could be the result of changing lineups so often. In the case of Buzzcocks, Steve Diggle and Pete Shelley remain, their most recent members having arrived only upon the most recent album or two, after a string of changes long enough to fill a baseball team.

The newest Buzzcocks record was produced to sound just like their live set plays out at a large venue -- big, booming drums that echo and battle against treble-heavy guitars -- and rightly so, because The Way very much resembles the sort of thing a band records after thirty-eight years of keeping up a punk image. Excellent material for a lively show, but little urgency or substance to compete with their reason for beginning as a band years before. The Way is entirely upbeat, little distinction to be made among tracks, and this follows along with the delight Diggle takes in playing rock star, though Shelley's voice has (understandably) lost its flamboyance and giddiness to match Diggle's enthusiasm. It'd be a wonderful surprise to see the band try something new, if only to show that there's real purpose in staying together and creating after two generations' time, and Shelley did experiment while branching out on his own for a bit, but the band is astute in their awareness of what people expect of them, and songs like "It's Not You" quite literally maintain the "I'm on my own now/what am I living for" content of the stuff that got them going in the first place. The newest is a bit tired, but it's a predictable delight.

Purchase The Way.

Monday, November 10, 2014

All that and Angelyne, too! (for Los Angeles only)

Ariel Pink's Tantalising Tinsel-Town Take Over

Delicious Donuts and Delectable Ditties (Nov 11)
Eat pink donuts from Donut Friend while enjoying a full playback of pom pom
El Prado Bar [1804 W Sunset Blvd] 7-9pm

Get Groovy at Gimme Gimme (Nov 13)
Listen to a DJ set by the one and only Ariel Pink
Gimme Gimme Records [4268 York Blvd] 6-7pm

Pretty in Pink. Permanently (Nov 14)
Get your nails done, only in pink, by LA's top manicure artists
Permanent Records [5116 York Blvd] 5-7pm

Luxuriously 'LA' Limo Listening Luau (Nov 15)
Ride in style in our pink stretch job and enjoy LA's finest sites with pom pom on the system
Origami Records [1816 Sunset Blvd] 12 noon
RSVP required but doesn't guarantee entrance.

Ariel Pink's Pom-pom-igami (Nov 17)
Free Two Boots pizza, a special appearance by Angelyne and other guests, music, drinks + more
Origami Records [1816 Sunset Blvd] 5-8pm

Sunday, November 9, 2014

L.A. missed out.

Friday afternoon, prior to joining We Were Promised Jetpacks at the Fonda Theatre, the Twilight Sad performed an acoustic set at Origami Vinyl in Echo Park, and no more than ten or twelve people were there to hear it. The whole set was brilliant, and this was part of it. Forgive the terrible video quality and have a thorough listen. These acoustic sets are a testament to how genuine of a singer and storyteller James Graham is and will be in the long term, and it's a crime that more people weren't present here to witness him singing firsthand. What he delivers and what this band creates together are nothing short of magic.

As an aside, Graham did a meaty interview as well as a fantastic photo feature on greater Kilsyth for Drowned in Sound a bit over a week ago.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lemuria: still keeping the alternative genre alive

Here's a new something special from '90s-ass alt-rock band Lemuria! "Foggy Smoke" is the B-side of an upcoming 7-inch that will be packaged with Turnstile Comix #3, "a 40 page comic book about Lemuria's harrowing 2001 tour through Russia, based on true events and illustrated by Mitch Clem and Nation Of Amanda."

Only 2,000 pressings of the record will be initially available! Pre-orders available here. Officially released Dec. 16.

They're touring, too!

Every advance ticket purchased for these dates comes with an exclusive Lemuria 7-inch.

11/21 - McAllen, TX @ Cine El Rey #
11/22 - Corpus Christi, TX @ The NASA #
11/23 - Houston, TX @ Fitzferalds (Upstairs) #
11/26 - San Antonio, TX @ 1011 #
11/28 - Austin, TX @ Red 7 (Inside) #
11/29 - Albuquerque, NM @ Gasworks #
11/30 - Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room #
12/1 - San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar #
12/2 - Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room #
12/3 - Fresno, CA @ Stummers #
12/4 - Oakland, CA @ New Parish #
12/5 - Portland, OR @ Slabtown #
12/6 - Seattle, WA @ Corazon #
12/7 - Boise, ID @ The Crux #
12/8 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court #
12/9 - Denver, CO @ Hi Dive #
12/10 - Lincoln, NE @ VEGA #
12/11 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry $
12/12 - Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen $
12/13 - St. Louis, MO @ Demo $
12/14 - Indianapolis, IN @ Hoosier Dome $
12/15 - Cleveland, OH @ Mahalls 20 Lanes $
12/16 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose $
12/17 - Toronto, ON @ Adelaide Hall $
12/18 - Rochester, NY @ The Bug Jar $
12/20 - New York, NY @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar $
12/21 - Philadelphia, PA @ Boot and Saddle $
12/22 - Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter $
12/23 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat Backstage $

# - w/ Into It. Over It.
$ - w/ Prince (no, not THAT Prince)

The newest Ariel Pink -- inspired by...Madonna?

Monday, November 3, 2014

New stufffff

This is brand new, a good and true cover, and the Coathangers have come a decent way since "Nestle in My Boobies." It's also going to be the A-side of a 7-inch split with These Arms Are Snakes!

New Cherry Glazerrrrrrr...available here (this is where we keep talking 7-inch releases).

Suicide Squeeze is on a roll this year -- Atlanta-based Dasher also has a 7-inch available through the label, and though singer/drummer/brainchild Kylee Kimbrough allegedly first found inspiration in Patti Smith (the whole package, not necessarily the music), this is a really solid hybrid of post-punk and hardcore, and what makes Dasher really spectacular is that Kimbrough is a woman who'd easily pass for a male vocalist. It's refreshing to hear a female vocalist who not only doesn't sing "cute," "pretty," or "quirky," but who can beat men at their own game. This is a hell of a find.

Also, watch Kimbrough wear her influences on her sleeve:

Finally! Here's a trailer for what will be the very last Dirty Beaches record, an instrumental called Stateless that gets released tomorrow.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Everywhere, Scandinavians.

New track from Copenhagen's Communions, who visited Los Angeles this past spring as part of Danish music festival 13 Torches for a Burn. Here's the B-side to a 7-inch that's scheduled for release on Nov. 10.

Amason are a group featuring: Pontus Winnberg (Miike Snow), Gustav Ejstes (Dungen), Petter Winnberg (Little Majorette), Amanda Bergman (Hajen, Idiot Wind), and Nils Törnqvist (Little Majorette). Little hints of Dungen, Kate Bush's "Running Up that Hill," and Broadcast are present. But then, they've got small surprises in store, like the dapper offering below. See them at the Echo in Los Angeles as part of a free (!) residency on Nov. 3.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Trotskies-era music.

This Trotskies track reminds an awful lot of fellow Melbourne act Total Control, and represents the first bit of an EP to be released in the spring of 2015. The band is not dissimilar from other groups influenced by the darkest of the '80s, Interpol et al., which of course has been done to death, but they're quite a soothing listen, what with that driving beat and smooth synth wall.

Their sole release to date, from 2013:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A mess'a songs to cheer on the fall season

The Scotsman recently published a piece questioning whether the Twilight Sad are doomed to be the choice of critics and musicians, never to see any major acclaim from a proper fanbase, but critics and musicians are people with favorites, just as non-critics and non-musicians are, so if this is the case, very well. Still, there are a lot of people missing out on a brilliant act.

Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, their fourth, gets released in one week.

From Year of the Flesh, its second single, by Icelandic Denmark resident Snævar Njall Albertsson. This new Dad Rocks! album is grand and beautiful, all brass and intricate finger-picking and completely, wonderfully predictable for a Scandinavian release.

Boy + Kite is an Austin-based band, rather reminiscent of acts like Death Cab for Cutie and American Analog Set and quite a lot of softer, mildly technical rock acts that were popular in and around 2004. They've got an EP out today called Blueprint.

Benson, Minnesota-based Tiny Moving Parts have got this video in which they release bobble heads into space and track their movement via GPS. The story is quite fantastic:

"On August 13th from our home in Benson, MN, we sent three bobble heads replicas of ourselves into space using a 600 gram weather balloon. The 2 hour flight was captured by a GoPro camera enclosed in a styrofoam cooler alongside a GPS tracker and a stack of heat packs to help brave the -60 degree F (-15 C) temperatures. The spacecraft reached a height of over 80,000 ft (24,384 meters), capturing the Earth's curve and the beauty of a world just beyond our grasp. About 2 hours into its journey, the GPS stopped sending us signals. We drove all over the farmlands of Minnesota with the slim hopes of it turning up somewhere. Eventually, we gave up and lost hope. It wasn't until October 10th, almost 2 months later, that we received a call from a farmer, our new friend Kurt, almost 50 miles away who found the pack while combing through his bean farm."

They're currently touring with Dads (not to be confused with the aforementioned Dad Rocks!) and will be at the Echoplex in Los Angeles on Nov. 11.

Finally, some brand new Vaadat Charigim! It sounds completely different from the stuff of their debut, not as dreamy, but much trippier, lazier, more -- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? -- and precedes a new record that'll be released on Burger Records in spring 2015.

And, last but not least, a brand new video from L.A.'s own Girlpool, animated by Catleya Sherbow. The Girlpool EP gets released Nov. 18.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Not re-inventing the wheel: Native America

New Orleans four-piece Native America is picking at the end of the Shins' Oh, Inverted World, with a rather reliable brand of fuzzy, retro guitar pop. There's no reinvention happening here, no innovation, and while they seemingly aspire to the dreamy, not-yet-psychedelic magic of the British Invasion period, they're unmistakably American, and unironically sunny. What Native America does well is tried and true, but lyrically and vocally, "Naturally Lazy" (below) almost reminds of the honesty of Belgian Fog's Robert Dale.

Grown Up Wrong gets released on Inflated Records on Nov. 18. They also go on tour, starting tonight!

10/17 Montevallo, AL @ Eclipse
10/18 Memphis, TN @ house show
10/19 Nashville, TN @ Stone Fox
10/20 Greensboro, NC @ Hellraiser Haus
10/21 Brooklyn, NY @ Trans Pecos (8:30 pm)
10/21 New York, NY @ Cake Shop (10:30 pm)
10/22 Brooklyn, NY @ Drom (6:45 pm)
10/22 Brooklyn, NY @ Grand Victory (10:25 pm)
10/23 Brooklyn, NY @ Muchmore’s (10:30 pm)
10/24 Brooklyn, NY @ Radio Bushwick (2:15 pm)
10/24 New York, NY @ The Delancey (5:15 pm)
10/25 New York, NY @ Piano’s (9:15 pm)
10/27 Boston, MA @ TBA
10/29 Providence, RI @ Dusk
10/30 Baltimore, MD @ Sidebar
10/31 Washington D.C. @ Paperhaus

Farewell, summer.

Summer's been over for nearly a month, but it's essentially always summer to an extent in Los Angeles (except when it isn't), and shiny, chipper pop always seems appropriate here, at least when our bands aren't making the effort to appear dark and mysterious. Which is often. So here we are, mid-October, and there's not much Halloween spirit to go around -- take a drive and you'll see very few decorations out, not really much evidence of the season. It seems perfectly appropriate, then, to celebrate this non-fall with (ironically NYC-based) Jack + Eliza, a duo whose instrumentation is similar to (L.A.-based) Girlpool, and whose sunny style would smoothly provide transition between the Mamas and the Papas and Best Coast on a summery mixtape. Jack + Eliza just released the No Wonders EP, available at their website.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The east coast, by way of New Orleans

Ex-Breathers, Ovlov, Gnarwhal and Woozy have got a four-way split coming out on New Orleans-based Community Records on Nov. 18. The Ex-Breathers track is bonkers, classic hardcore, and can be heard at Impose. The new Ovlov, above, is an inch into sludge territory, almost Melvins-adjacent.

The split will be available for sale at Bandcamp! More here:

Girlpool and Slutever just released a split today!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Revisiting Ummagma

A couple months ago, I had the chance to talk a bit with Shauna McLarnon of Ummagma, a project between Canadian McLarnon and her Ukranian husband Alexander Kretov, right as the two were sorting out a way to get their family out of the Ukraine and back to Canada as the prospect of a draft started looming overhead. Said conversation resulted in this post, and McLarnon has since left Ukraine, sans Kretov.

In the month to follow, Ummagma released an album in conjunction with Moscow act Sounds of Sputnik, a debut for the latter called New Born. The album featured a combination of five original tracks and remixes of "New Born" and "Light Scheme" that ranged from club-ready (Oleg Mezherovsky) to relatively downtempo (OMD) to the rather MGMT-style closer by Mind Movies, who offered perhaps the best contribution to the second half of the album.

Mind Movies will be contributing a remixed track to the upcoming Ummagma release Kiev - The Remixes, based on "Kiev," an auditory ode to the Cocteau Twins from 2012's Antigravity that now runs parallel to the violence currently occupying Ukraine. Kiev - The Remixes gets released on Emerald & Doreen Recordings on Oct. 31.

From New Born:

Thank god for Girlpool

Amen for Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, an impossibly young duo from Los Angeles rebelling against the hordes of L.A. groups going for dark, sexy, dreamy, mysterious. Bands that go for the mysterious vibe really don't have much of anything interesting going on, in truth.

Girlpool, nothing more than guitar, bass, and honesty, are what riot grrrl was built on, and first single "Jane" is the perfect feminist follow-up to the Peppermints' "Nancy," which already, sadly, seems long forgotten. You can pre-order their Girlpool EP (released Nov. 18) here prior to visiting their Monday night residency at the Echo in December!

Psst -- they're playing with Slutever on Dec. 1.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Oscar #Worldpeace, hopefully not prompting a trend of stage names with hashtags


It's not often that a pop act gets to boast about its clarinet, but the instrument is rather sensual, understated, and underused, and so it's with a bit of enthusiasm that I get to mention Kinkajous, the work of London-based French duo Adrien Cau and Benoit Parmentier, whose electronic-jazz fusion is dreamy, dramatic, and worth so much more than a background soundtrack. Their first EP gets released October 18.


I had the opportunity to see Meatbodies during their supporting slot for Buzzcocks last month in Los Angeles, and though they're a relatively small name and perhaps best suited to a smaller setting, they fared quite well in filling the stage of the somewhat large Fonda, and in an oddly fantastic pairing, they provided excellent contrast to the polished power pop of Buzzcocks with a Castle Face-style mish-mash of zippy, lively, unpolished rock 'n roll.

Anything already written on Meatbodies mentions head Meatbody Chad Ubovich's time spent in FUZZ, as bass player alongside Ty Segall. The ties to Segall are largely apparent by the influence both he and Meatbodies have gained in Segall labelmates and comrades Thee Oh Sees; live, the guitarists of Meatbodies mimic the cartoonish movement of John Dwyer and the exaggeratedly Tiny Tim positioning of Petey Dammit, and one can really only review their style with a vocabulary fit for the comics: zip, zoom, yip, pow! The likeness is not only in appearance -- the psychedelic "Plank" and "Tremmors" could easily have fit onto Segall's Twins, while "Mountain" could've followed "Block of Ice" on The Master's Bedroom. It'd be all too easy to call Meatbodies a ripoff, but they're too genuinely good at what they do.

You can stream all of Meatbodies at NPR this week!

Here's the 7-inch version of "Mountain," off last year's split with Ty Segall.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Shall I Say Quois!

Somehow missed out on the 2013 debut of the Shall I Say Quois, which features former Headcoatees Miss Ludella Black and Kyra Rubella, as well as Miss Nurse Julie (Musicians of the British Empire). Thrilled to see that the women associated with Billy Childish are still celebrating '60s Britain.

Methodist Centre: A favorite new-old discovery

Monday, September 22, 2014

100% of the digital proceeds of these suckers go to the Ariel Panero Memorial Fund at VH1 Save the Music, which still (!) works to restore instrumental music education in American public schools.

Orenda Fink is coming to Los Globos in Los Angeles on Sep. 27. But her new video only makes me nostalgic.

Yep! It's-a gonna be worthwhile!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New lady-things

New Is/Is is about to be released on Tuesday, and the band is down to Sarahs Rose and Nienaber, now based in Portland. Shadow Days is the last bit of of Minneapolis they've got in them, though one would assume the entire thing had been recorded while in Joshua Tree on a west coast tour (one track was) -- this is the captured mood of Sarah Nienaber's side project, Web of Sunsets, hazy and dreamy and low key and not at all like the dark, rebellious stuff of Is/Is' previous releases. Speaking of Web of Sunsets, they're going on tour next week.

Speaking of moody and dreamy and lady-voiced, here's one by Morning Birds, actually based in Los Angeles. I'm not generally one for remixes, but they're offering an EP with five (that's right, five) of 'em. Available here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

From Dan Melchior: 

Letha is now receiving hospice care (which involves a nurse visiting once a week, a cfn visiting twice a week, and me, my mother and various friends doing the rest).

It's really not ideal. A hard slog for non professionals with the most intense of emotional attachments - - we will keep going, and keep trying to make Letha feel as secure and loved as possible - she deserves everything she can be given, as she is the sweetest soul I have encountered in this lifetime. Love, Dan.

I don't think I've ever felt so compelled to get personally involved with someone I've never met -- I'd first heard of Letha while looking up information on one of Dan Melchior's albums a few years back, sometime in early 2011, and discovering his wife's blog, about her experiences with cancer treatment. I read every post and remained caught up all the way through her last post; her storytelling method has been funny and conversational in spite of the topic, and all the while you could really tell that she has known all along what the outcome would be, the outcome of a major move, proximity to some of the country's best doctors, to experimental treatments and x-rays and inexplicable headaches. 

Much like the way you might feel when getting sucked into a novel, getting attached to its characters and then crying in real life when you turn the page and find out that one of the characters has died or experienced some sort of tragedy -- this is how compelled I have felt to follow along with Letha's experience. Except she's very much not a character, which is why the hospice ending to the story finds me so incredibly disappointed. All the effort she and Dan put into making her well, and in the end, stage IV cancer is still stage IV cancer. The toughest part about this story is knowing that a husband will lose his wife.

It should seem silly for me to have started this Give Forward page when a fund had already been started for her -- the previous fund linked directly to her Pay Pal account and so it seemed like an extra step to start a new account. But Give Forward allows you to see what's been given whereas a Pay Pal account does not, and when the donations provided are not viewable to the public, the public has no way of knowing that donations have slowed, and it may very well be the case that when you think the recipient is doing well and good, they might not have received any financial help in weeks or months. So Give Forward and its tracking system allows potential donors to see that momentum is either there or gone, and has hopefully served to motivate donations that otherwise might not have come in. $5,000 is great, but it's not a lot spread over a span of two or three months. That said, thank you to everyone who has helped them out.

And, since this is a site for music, here is the first released track off what will surely be the last album by Letha Rodman Melchior, Shimmering Ghost.

Edit: If you make a donation of at least $5, you can forward your email receipt to; you will be sent the download link for the recording of this live benefit show by the Little Black Egg Big Band (featuring Steve Gunn, Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, James McNew, Letha Rodman Melchior and William Tyler).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sliding the Same Way

David Thomas Broughton was someone I developed a liking for when I unexpectedly befriended an album of his close to ten years ago. His unconventional voice, somewhere between Antony Hegarty and Scott Walker (but not, you know, young Scott Walker), is somehow simultaneously jarring and elegant, but brings neither the gender ambiguity of Hegarty nor the "I've gone and left the real world" quality that Walker now seems to possess.

"Although I'm an unshaven boozer I do all my drinking in town" is an odd chorus with which to harmonize, but I think it sums up Broughton somewhat well. He is confrontational and, at least through his music, comes off as a loner as genuinely as one can, but you feel like he can hold his own; you never feel the need to sympathize with him. Were moving to South Korea not something that geeky American white men do when they're finding themselves, and were it not for the fact that music tends to be an outlet for what doesn't come out in real life, I'd also say that there's a hint of something dangerous or ill or otherwise off in Broughton, and this is the thing that separates him from all the other folk (or "folk") songwriters out there, that it scares me a bit to think about all the people he might be under the façade of songwriter. And in a strange way, I don't want this documentary about him to come to fruition, because it will realistically burst the myth and show a very normal man who happens to be a good storyteller.

Sliding the Same Way is a collaboration with London-based, female a cappella ensemble Juice, who come the closest Broughton can get to a backing band without overshadowing his subtleties. The trio adds a fairy tale-like quality to Broughton's songs -- maybe this is what Joanna Newsom was good for, maybe Vashti Bunyan as well. And maybe this speaks to the fact that there is no replacement for feminine energy, which is all over this record. The presence of Juice creates imagery, of wooded forest, elves and fairies, all the things that ought to be embarrassing to conjure up but somehow aren't in this context. But then there's "Been a While," where Juice purr their way beneath "I asked the winter/the winter he said/'I may chill you but I don't wish you dead'/then why do I lay here in the ground?"

And further still, Broughton's tone, the one that says he has nothing to lose -- the very thing that makes you curious and then keeps you feeling uncomfortable all the way through -- this remains the driving force behind the record, despite the graceful women behind him: "I will glass everyone/all you pricks in this bar/it may not be the promise I had intended."

Matthew over at Song, by Toad, who's releasing this album, also happens to be a blogger and marvelous writer, and this is what he as music blogger, publicist, and label owner happens to say about Broughton's new release:

This album has everything on it which made me want to work with David in the first place, most obviously that incredible ability to make ostensibly small shifts in mood which can take you from weird to confrontational to playful to heart-breaking and right back again in the blink of a an eye. Just as you steel yourself for something abrasively strange to happen, you get something layered, melodic and beautiful. And just before it all gets too heavy, brief, almost throwaway little ditties like Woodwork crop up.

Pre-order Sliding the Same Way, which gets released on September 22.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Last call to donate through Give Forward

It's Friday night in Los Angeles, which means that this blog post will ultimately get buried. Most of my neighbors are off and celebrating Shitty Beer Night, as they should be. But I want to 1) tell anyone who's donated to Letha Rodman Melchior's medical fund that you're a true mensch, and 2) put out what will likely be a final request for donations to the fund, as there is now just over one month left in the fundraiser period. Dan Melchior has indicated that Letha will be entering hospice at home, which is wonderful in the context of comfort, but, you know, an unfortunate turn. Their fundraiser page at Give Forward has just about hit the $5,000 mark, which is fantastic. But their living expenses and health care will require a bit more of a push for the time being, so anything you can offer would help enormously -- even $5-10 donations will add up to something significant. Truly.

Donate to Letha Rodman Melchior's medical fund by clicking here.

Additionally, there will be a couple of benefit shows in the coming month to help support Dan and Letha's living expenses and Letha's medical bills. Please go if you live nearby!

Aug. 30, 8pm
The Union Bar & Grill
18 W Union St, Athens, Ohio 45701
Blam Blams / Ghost Stories / TBA

Sept. 17, 8pm - $10 suggested donation
Emporium Arcade Bar
1366 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60622
Mr. Ma'am / Melkbelly / Beat Drun Juel / Soddy Daisy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'll Be Your

This track by The Tallest Tree is essentially the auditory equivalent of gentrification -- it's twee, tame, whimsical. It's white people paying $6 for toast with homemade jam. It's 34-year old women wearing bangs and vintage cardigans, playing kazoos, riding bikes, pretending to be six. It's incredibly mild. But it's sweet, and it sums up the husband-wife team comprising the band:

We met a couple years ago when Armando's band, The Oats, was playing in Canada. 
And that's when Armando fell in love with Dawn.
Every time Dawn came to visit Mexico City, we would write a new song.
Now Dawn and Armando are married.

New Twilight Sad is here!

And it's a hark back to Forget the Night Ahead.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Walkin' Bicycles

Quite happy to receive this one, the third single off Him That Wills The Way, which will be released August 11 on Highwheel Records. Walking Bicycles are like a hybrid of Jane's Addiction and Death From Above 1979; they're also energetic, middle-aged, and have origins in Arcata, CA. (They're now Chicago-based.) Among a sea of EDM, and pop music made by countless women who sound like Lykke Li -- really, there's an entire sea of Lykke Li out there -- this is quite a refreshing find.

Also related: the story of their guitarist's incarceration for possession of marijuana.

Two songs for a hearty laugh

Here's the newest by Seattle-based Relays, for you unsentimental types.

Also, one from the Chicago-based Oscillator Bug -- it's like Oneida and Half Japanese and Devo all rolled into one giant mess!