Sunday, June 29, 2014

A mess'a easy lo-fi

Here are two lo-fi, beachy acts that we can lump together quite smoothly. The first is Ladada, a fellow from Virginia Beach named Josiah Schlater, whose debut EP will get released August 5 on Gold Robot Records.

The next one is London's Proper Ornaments, who are about to release Wooden Head on Slumberland on July 8. Here are two from the record.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mankind, rippin 'em off

Stockholm's Mankind are quite young, and while "Blood, Sugar" essentially rips off the structure of Nirvana's "Aneurysm," sort of precisely, the band reminds me of how much I enjoyed Swedish pop and garage rock ten to twelve years ago [think Randy, Division of Laura Lee, T(I)NC]. Their publicist describes them as part of "an emerging scene reacting to the overwhelming EDM rains that floods every single garage here without mercy," and while my first instinct is to call them an imitation of a range of bands that were popular between about 2000 and 2004, a fair number of those bands were an imitation of a '60s aesthetic, and that was half a generation ago, anyway. So it's time for the kids, currently being fed all sorts of electronic whatsits, to get into something more energetic, as we did at the turn of the century. Here's an overdue introduction to Mankind:

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Just a reminder that this is ongoing. Anything helps! Also using this as an opportunity to mention that Dan Melchior und Das Menace's Hunger gets released on Tuesday.

Edit (6/24): I've set up a new donation page for Dan and Letha on Give Forward so that any additional new funds can be tallied (there's no way of knowing that donations have slowed if you can't see what's been given, unfortunately). All donations will be sent to Dan and Letha as they are received. You can also donate by clicking on that nifty little white button-thingy on the right side of this page.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world...

Another Song, By Toad release is out, this time a 12-inch split featuring David Thomas Broughton, Jonnie Common, Sparrow and the Workshop, and Siobhan Wilson, by whom a lead single has been released for free listening.

The selection comes partly from Matthew Young's Edinburgh-based Song, By Toad Records, and was drawn from the lineup of Aviemore's Insider Festival, where the recordings took place (at the nearby Inshriach House). You can find the record here starting July 14. The single track by Wilson and two by Broughton, which sandwich the album, are both the most stripped down and the standouts of the record.

Additionally! There will be an Indiegogo campaign launching tomorrow, to support a documentary on David Thomas Broughton. Have a look at this trailer, as well as a few words from filmmaker Greg Butler:

This is a trailer to music documentary currently being made about the eccentrically surreal performer and heartbreaking musician and songwriter David Thomas Broughton.

The film is in the early stages of production and this trailer was created after conducting the first five interviews. Since the trailer was first put together 12 interviews have been shot and included contributions from Shearwaters Jonathan Meiburg, Sam Amidon and David Shrigley. Many other interviews have been lined up over forthcoming months including Beth Orton, Liz Green and James Yorkston among others.

A crowd funding campaign is about to get underway so please pledge some money if you are fan of David’s work at all (from 23rd June on Indiegogo) So far I’ve put purely my own money into this project and I need some help if I am to make something really special and make the film that that David’s talent deserves.

The film should be completely shot by September and edited by the end of the year. Let me know if you can help me in any way shape or form, any help would be much appreciated and maybe even rewarded in a small way.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Well, now, this here thing is going on.

Weekend Pass: $24
Individual Days: Friday $8 (6pm - 12am)
Saturday $10 (1pm - 12am)
Sunday $10 (1pm - 12am)

If not sold out in advance, tickets will also be sold at the door.

Proceeds will benefit the California Justice Committee's campaign to house ALL veterans. 

The Vortex is located at 2341 E. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What's the blues, when you've got Greys?

Quite eager to hear this new record from Toronto-based band Greys, who are filling in where Les Savy Fav seem to have left off; they're getting comparisons to '80s/'90s groups like Fugazi and Nirvana, and the influence is there but certainly not stolen. Greys play confidently and merge grunge with the angular guitar style that seemed to dominate the indie rock world about ten years ago, but they're not the least bit inaccessible or intimidating. Hear, here:

And of course, tour dates:

6/18 Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha
6/20 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
6/22 Toronto, ON @ Edward Day Gallery
6/24 Windsor, ON @ Phog Lounge
6/25 Grand Rapids, MI @ Mulligan's Pub
6/26 Milwaukee, WI @ Ground Zero
6/27 Chicago, IL @ The Observatory
6/28 Minneapolis, MN @ Gen's Dental Office
6/29 Winnipeg, MB @ Union Sound Hall
6/30 Saskatoon, SK @ Vangelis Tavern
7/01 Edmonton, AB @ Wunderbar
7/02 Calgary, AB @ Broken City
7/04 Vancouver, BC @ Cobalt
7/05 Seattle, WA @ Victory Lounge
7/06 Seattle, WA @ Black Lodge
7/07 Portland, OR @ Habesha Lounge
7/09 Oakland, CA @ Eli's Mile High
7/10 San Francisco, CA @ Honey Hive Gallery
7/11 Fresno, CA @ Cafe Infoshop
7/13 Los Angeles, CA @ The Crest
7/14 Riverside, CA @ Blood Orange Infoshop
7/15 San Diego, CA @ Che Cafe
7/16 Phoeniz, AZ @ 51West
7/18 Salt Lake City, UT @ Shred Shed
7/19 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
7/20 Kansas City, MO @ Vandals
7/21 Lawrence, KS @ Replay Lounge
7/22 St. Louis, MO @ Lemp Arts
7/23 Nashville, TN @ Stone Fox
7/24 Kalamazoo, MI @ Cooper Mansion
8/08 Toronto, ON @ SHIBGBs

New Total Control!

Melbourne's Total Control will be releasing a new record on June 24 (Typical System will be put out by Iron Lung Records), and it's marvelous and streamable at Pitchfork Advance right now. I had the opportunity to see Total Control open for Thee Oh Sees in 2011, and they're very much not to miss if the opportunity arises! Here's a taste of their earlier releases:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Web of Sunsets is coming!

Sarah Nienaber of Is/Is and Gospel Gossip has got a third project going, a trio with Sara Bischoff and Chris Rose, in which there is no percussion and the "acid country" they're making is highly reminiscent of Mazzy Star, the first Will Stratton record, and the saddest phase of Cat Power. Which is to say they sound like the desert looks. And that Bischoff sings oh, so sweetly.

Web of Sunsets currently has 31 records left in a limited pressing of 500, and they are about to set off on tour to promote their brand new cassette.


06.20.14 – Minneapolis, MN – Eagles Club
06.21.14 – Lawrence, KS – Replay Lounge
06.22.14 – Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
06.25.14 – Los Angeles, CA – Hyperion Tavern
06.26.14 – San Francisco, CA – The Makeout Room
06.27.14 – Oakland, CA – TBA
06.29.14 – Eugene, OR – TBA
06.30.14 – Portland, OR – Valentines
07.01.14 – Olympia, WA – Le Voyeur
07.02.14 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
07.03.14 – Missoula, MT – TBA

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Carey Mercer isn't dead!

Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes has recovered from throat cancer, and Frog Eyes will now embark on a brief East Coast/Canadian tour in support of Carey's Cold Spring, which will be officially released on June 17 after initially being put up by Mercer on Bandcamp.

From Paper Bag Records: The label will also be releasing Carey Mercer’s book called Clouds of Evil, a collection of essays compiled for his son Ivan. Essay titles include: A Story about the Time I Broke Up Wolf Parade, a Popular Independent Rock Band, by Starring in Their music Video and accepting One Thousand of Their Dollars and a Few recollections of the Time my Band Frog eyes Went to Moscow.

August 14: Victoria, BC. Centennial Square
August 18: Detroit, MI. The Pike Room*
August 19: Toronto, ON. The Drake*
August 20: Ottawa, ON. Mavericks*
August 21: Montreal, QC. II Motore*
August 22: Boston, MA. Cafe 939*
August 23: New York, NY. Rough Trade*
August 25: Washington, DC. DC9*
August 26: Columbus, OH. Rumba Cafe*
August 27: Chicago, IL. Schubas*

* = w/ PS I Love You

Pre-order Carey's Cold Spring.

VANIISH (today)

There's a record out today by VANIISH, a dark San Francisco project from Wax Idols member Keven Tecon (featuring fellow Wax Idol Amy Rosenoff and produced by Monte Vallier, who worked on 2013's Discipline and Desire). As expected, Memory Work draws influence from the cold wave and new romantic stuff of the '80s, but then, that said, it's also somehow very much of its time. The obvious comparison is the early 4AD lineup, but with shoegaze and goth having made comebacks a few years ago, this will also hold up to those who liked Prosaics or the first Mary Onettes record.

Purchase Memory Work.

Brand spankin' new St Tropez

This new St Tropez track, "Maybe Nothing," is a trail of snare-heavy Caribou, "Leaf House"-era Animal Collective, and mid-career Radiohead all at once, over the span of a six-minute journey. They come from Oakland, CA, and will be releasing a full record this fall. Comparison by name means little, though, so have a listen to an additional something, also recently released:


Brooklyn trio DeGreaser has got a third record coming out June 17; it'll cost you $1,000 until its proper release. This stuff is horribly produced, sloppily recorded, and surprisingly accessible.

Find more stuff at their Bandcamp page. Yes, it all sounds like a years-old cassette tape.

Vexx: They're pretty vexxxy

Slightly oldish thing here, playing catch-up; Vexx is a band out of Olympia, WA, and their songs range from grungy (the slower paced "Strength") to what Bad Brains might've been, had they never found religion (and, you know, had H.R. actually been a white lady named Mary Jane). This is great, low-budget, lo-fi rock 'n roll from the part of the country that will always make great, low-budget, lo-fi rock 'n roll.

Vexx doesn't seem to be leaving the Pacific Northwest any time soon, but they do have a 12-inch for sale here.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Belgian Fog: Why not just change?

I recently had the chance to interview Seattle-based artist Robert Dale (Belgian Fog), who has yet to release a full album but is slowly building up a following, one track at a time. Quality over quantity, sure. A new Belgian Fog track has made its way, and building on this spring's "Loveless Way," it follows the theme of being endlessly trapped in a relationship out of passivity. Except this one is quite darkly funny.

I feel like a leper in my own house
I get all the perks of being alone when I'm not
And it'd feel good just not to feel
But hearing you talk is like having a radio on all the time
I want you to be what I thought of you before I ever knew you
I want you to be what I thought of you before you ever talked

Now you're just the body of an animal
Something I want but don't want to hold if it cries
I know I'm supposed to like your imperfections
But they're more annoying than they are endearing
So why not just change?

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New old things from Dan and Letha Melchior

Dan Melchior has put together a compilation of old things, and resulting from this putting together of things, John Dwyer's Castle Face will release Hunger, by Dan Melchior und Das Menace, on June 24. You can pre-order it here. Have a listen to "A Wizard Doesn't Need a Computer," one of its included tracks, at the AV Club's website or via WFMU (originally posted 2009).

I've written here about his wife Letha's battle with stage four cancer, and while she generally appears to be going through a better quality of life thanks to a change in medication, Dan and Letha could still use some assistance with paying the bills and getting her the necessary care.

How can you help?

1. Buy the previously mentioned Hunger, of which a portion will be directed to them.
2. Donate directly through the Letha Rodman Melchior Cancer Fund.
3. Purchase an album or several from Dan Melchior's record collection. The man's got good taste!
4. Purchase a solo album by Dan or Letha Melchior.
5. If you can't offer any funds, send Letha well wishes and check out her blog.

A couple more recent tracks:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Even more Frankie Rose.

While it seems Frankie Rose has taken part in a fair number of Brooklyn's indie rock bands since 2007 (Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts, her own Frankie Rose and the Outs), one can never be too busy with their passions. And so she's gone and formed yet another, only this time it's a true side project, Beverly, with collaborator Drew Citron. Debut Careers gets released July 1, on Kanine, and the video for first single "Honey Do" is not only well-matched to the song, perhaps inspired by a fan's interpretation of last year's "Cliffs as High," but completely captures the rebellious style I love so much about other similarly categorized bands like Is/Is.

Desperately missing: the musical guests of MTV's Jon Stewart Show

It's once again time to ask: what's Greg Ashley been up to?

The newest Greg Ashley record, Another Generation of Slaves, was finally released this past February on Trouble in Mind (the same folks who released a record by Ty Segall's FUZZ), and in promotion of it, Ashley gave an on-air performance on WBEZ.

Purchase Another Generation of Slaves at Trouble in Mind's website. Also have a listen to the work he's been doing with The John Brothers Piano Company, whose most recent album was recorded at Ashley's Creamery recording studio in Oakland:

Brand new Ovlov!

Little Big League/Ovlov split to be released August 1.

The return of Georgio Valentino!

Georgio Valentino, a Greek-American under a vaguely Italian pseudonym from Palm Beach who escaped to Brussels several years ago with only his books and his musical equipment, is the sort of musician doomed to settle for a cult following in the U.S. Were he still based here, he might be living on the East Coast, finding his way in a crowd with the likes of Jon Pfeffer and Sam Mickens, an individual desiring to create real art, fighting against trends. Maybe he'd be struggling to blend in with a now-non-existent rockabilly scene in L.A., realizing that this, too, is not quite it. He has an elegance that doesn't exist much here, except among out-of-place introverted men who quietly crave kink and wear buttoned-up shirts and say things like "m'lady," and he makes music that is too challenging for a casual listen. But then, there were a number of musicians who once embodied (or continue to embody) elegance -- David Bowie, Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music, Echo and the Bunnymen, Morrissey/The Smiths, Josef K -- and perhaps this list is indicative of why he's no longer in the U.S. He's easily suited for another time, another continent, the one he fled to.

I've just set him up to sound gimmicky, but he's actually got quite a lot of talent and appeal going. It's a shame that Valentino isn't well known here, despite a roster of albums and singles reaching back to 2007; his writing is demonstrative of someone who aspires to reach the greats, rather than compete with what's current. Mille Plateaux is a wildly ambitious double-album recorded in five countries. It is at once Ocean Rain and the scoring of Nino Rota, the depth of Valentino's dashing baritone matched only by Peter Murphy. If anyone were a proper vampire, it'd be Georgio Valentino, and this is meant as a sincere compliment.

Mille Plateaux on the whole has a dramatic, cinematic quality, the first of four album sides its most accessible. Opener "I Wish We Were Insects" is a standout way to enter a record, with a suspenseful intro and somewhat cryptic lyrics: "I wish we were insects/flying across the room/eating rotten fruit/best of all we'd only live a day or two." Lead single "I Won't Betray You" is a slowly progressing 17-minute ode to Chuck Berry thrown in the middle of this double LP, something of a daring move that features ten backing singers.

The organization of this album set is extremely calculated, each of four sides tailored to a specific theme, essentially its own EP. The album's fourth side offers the real surprise element here. Ο Γιωργος Jesús Παπανικολοπουλος Sings Piero Ciampi is in fact a brief selection of Piero Ciampi covers, sung (allegedly) phonetically (but convincingly) in Italian. Valentino lacks the weary quality of Ciampi's tired voice, but pulls off the tribute beautifully because he himself has a mature, crisp voice that could just as easily belong to a man who's been singing for forty years. One of Valentino's most interesting qualities is that he may in fact have a sharp sense of humor but appears, at least musically, to take himself extremely seriously, and where these covers could easily be interpreted for their originally kitschy quality, Valentino treats Ciampi's songs with the utmost respect, and performs them as though they were his own, holding them up high with delicate hands.

Truth be told, nearly everything about this record is fantastic, not least of all the fact that it resembles nobody else's work at present. Mille Plateaux is dark and sexy without being over the top; it is precise, it is intelligent, and it is an honest peek into Valentino's interests and influences. This should only be the first of several releases that you visit.

Stream Mille Plateaux and check European tour dates here.
Download Mille Plateaux here. (Vinyl to be released June 21.)