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)