MARCH 2014

BABY BABY- BIG BOY BALLER CLUB- GOSPELOR- Kind of a rap/rock thing but not really. Vocals are abrasive but these guys have some good melodic sense to them. Right now I’m listening to “Can’t spell cinch without the ch” and smiling. I’m either going to become a groupie or toss this thing out the window today. Stay tuned….

DROWNING CLOWNS- ALL THATY’S EVER COVERED OVER- CREATIVE LIFE SUPPORT RECORDS- This Pittsburgh, PA band (Go Pirates!) band has been at it for a while and they seem to go for the mood/jammy Pink Floyd/Radiohead sound. That particular sound is not a sound I like very much but these guys take it seriously and seems like something the masses would like. www.drowningclowns.com

LA FONT- DIVING MAN- NEW PROFESSOR MUSIC- Quarter from L.A. who’ve gotten a fair amount of hype on this, their debut record. Yes, it’s a throwback , you’ll hear elements of Pavement, Camper Van Beethoven and , in some of the guitar work, Built to Spill. I like the opening “Sensation’ and the title track a lot and while the rest is solid, I think leader Danny Bobbe and his chums have a better record in ‘em. Just you watch. www.newprofessormusic.com

MAHALYA- ELECTRICSPACEAGESWEETHEART- SERIAL LOVER RECORDS- Cd cover says band name is spelled like above but the label site says Mahayla. I’m confused. Anywho, this is a batch of 11 ironic indie rock tunes (the first song is called “Bestie” and song 3 they mention Kristy McNichol) plus they do a Neil Young cover (“If I Could Have Her Tonight”). Nothing groundbreaking here but fun and listenable. www.serialloverrecords.com

JOSH MATTHEWS- CO-PATRIOT- SELF RELEASED- Sophomore effort from Nashville-via-NYC songwriter. On the surface this seems like straight folk music but there’d also oddball spoken word, word=-jazz, beats, blips and some scratchy stuff, too. Can’t say I’ll ever listen to it again buy the guy IS doing something different here. www.joshmatthewsmusic.com

STRATA FLORIDA- MADE OF STARS- SAINT MARIE RECORDS-
VENSAIRE- PERDIX- SELF RELEASED
- Nice all-over-the-map 8 song affair (the band’s debut full-length, produced by Scott Colburn) with begins with drifting folk then enters glistening pop territory and then into something odder (ethnic gunk). When I see stickers that say “RIYL- Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear” there’s no need to be alarmed, it’s better n’ that. www.vensaire.com

ELI YOUNG BAND- 10,000 TOWNS- REPUBLIC NASHVILLE- A publicist has been sending me stuff on this label, it’s pretty much straight , commercial country music and while it’s not my bag I like it a lot more than some hipster knucks trying to rip off Animal Collective. The band is from Texas, it’s their 4th release and the leaders are Mike Eli and James Young. Opening line to this record, “I got a little drunk last night” and I did like the straight pop of “Dust.” www.repiblicnashville.com

MARCH 2014

CALLOW- BLUE SPELLS- NXNW RECORDS- This is the duo of Red (vocals /guitar) and Sami (percussion/keys/vocals) doing moody, post rock kinda stuff. It says RIOYL- Black Heart Procession” on the sticker and that’s accurate. I’m not a huge fan of BHP though so I didn’t love this, but do like their heart. www.callowmusic.com

KAIROS- THAT WHICH DOES NOT- FIN RECORDS- Kairos is the work of one Seattle-ite Lena Simon who has been in several other bands. In here she focuses more on electronic pop that’s occasionally dancy. Not totally my thing but taken in small doses I like it (only two songs here). She likes Blondie, too. www.finrecords.com

KITTEN GRENADE- S/T- BREAK UP RECORDS- This is the San Francisco du of Ben and Katelyn who profess to only use their voice, a drum set and a uke (“and other stuff sometimes”). I could use words like charming, poppy, homespun , folky….and hey, I just did. Not sure if these guys have ever played the SF Pop Fest but if not I think they’d be a perfect fit. Hope they tour. www.kittengrenade.com

RANDALL DOUGLAS MATSON- VICTORY FOR A DUNCE LONELY OCHRE RECORDINGS- This is an extension of the Old 3C label outta Columbus, OH. I guess RDM has some releases on that label but I’d never heard him before. These are ragged, 4-track singer-songwriter tunes that occasionally evolve into near country music. Not bad but not totally my bag either. www.old3c.com

KALLE MATTSON- SOMEDAY THE MOON WILL BE GOLD- PARLIAMENT OF TREES- Man, I like this. Young Canadian dude (22 or so and from Ottawa) on his 3rd record already. This one is about his mom’s death 5 years ago but the songs are dense, heavy….but melodic, too. Definitely magnum-ish in some ways. Wise beyond his years…..find this. www.kallemattson.com

ORCHESTRA OF SPHERES- VIBRATION ANIMAL SEX BRAIN MUSIC- FIRE RECORDS- I hated almost every second of this. Like Stereolab on ‘ludes (and I LIKE Stereolab). Squiggly in the worst way possible. www.firerecords.com

OVERLAKE- SIGHS- KILLING HORSE RECORDS- Debut record by Jersey City’s Tom Barrett and Lysa Opfer who’ve created a mini masterpiece here of hazy and melody. Professing a love of MBV, Sonic Youth and Pavement (they they’ve got good taste) they’ve whipped up 9 songs, each with a different personality. My two favorites include the mossy “Back to the Water” and the zippier “Fell Too Far. “ Dive in, water’s fine. www.killinghorserecords.com

RACE CAR HEARTS- SILENT MOMENTUM- ZIP RECORDS- Debit record by UK singer/songwriter Chris Perrin who apparently first picked up the guitar at 14 years old. He’s released a few eps and this is his debut long player. I hear soaring Brit pop on most tracks. At times his voice reminds me of the guy from Coldplay but most of these songs are hooky (“Lights’ and “In Dreams” especially). www.racecarhearts.com

HAYLEY REARDON- WAYFINDING- KINGSWOOD RECORD- Real young (or she looks that way, anyway) doing nearly honky tonk stuff. she’s good too (and she doesn’t hail from Austin, Atlanta or Birmingham, nope….Boston) . I hear some cello here and some slide guitar there (“Fishin’ Blues”…a Taj Mahal cover). 7 songs and very good. www.hayleyreardon.com

RIGBI- VISIONARY- SELF RELEASED- This North Jersey bunch, who’ve apparently been at their rock game for quite some time (over a decade), do a nice mix of indie pop, dream pop and even something folkie mixed in for good measure. 7 songs. Nice. www.rigbimusic.com

VEGAS WITH RANDOLPH- RINGS AROUND THE SUN- CAGED GIANT RECORDS- This Washington, DC are bunch have been churning out tasty power pop for the last few years. I think this is the 3rd disc they’ve sent me and it’s at least as good as the 2 others, maybe even. They’ve refined their sound with crisp guitars and sharp hooks (think Fountains of Wayne). “Salt Water Taffy” and “Cool Things” are but two of my faves here. www.vegaswithrandolph.com

XIU XIU- NINA- GRAVEFACE- Geez, way to eff up perfectly good Nina Simone songs. This was horrible. www.graveface.com

 

FEBRUARY 2014

BROTHER DEGE- HOW TO KILL A HORSE- GOLAR WASH LABS AND RECORDS/ PSYOUTHERN - Soulful freak from the deep South whose name is Dege Legg (think about that for a minute) with a penchant for slide guitar. Not my bag but probably someone’s. www.psyouthern.com

FELIX CHAMPION- S/T- SELF RELEASED- 4 songs from this bunch from Glasgow that would fit into the emo category. The vocals were a real turn off for me but the guitars sound good that I think fans of the Promise Ring might dig. www.facebook.com/felixchampionband

FELSEN- I DON’T KNOW HOW TO TALK ANYMORE- SELF REELASED- Felsen was a gas. But seriously folks, this is solid-mid-tempo pop from this Bay Area band already on their 4th record (never heard the first three but now I want to). Give ‘em a chance, they’re Felsen. www.felsenlovesyou.com

LITTLE ANCHOR- FLOATING BRIDGES- SELF RELEASED- This band has been getting lots of hype recently and with good reason. The guitars have some bite, there’s plenty of hooks and the vocalist, Alexa Cabellon, seems like there’ some sultry under all of that sweet. My favorite is the gorgeous “Carolina Waits.” www.thisislittleanchor.com

THE MARTHA’S VINEYARD FERRIES- MASS GRAVE- KIAM RECORDS- Fairly new band that features both Bob Weston (Shellac) and Chris Brokaw (The New Year, etc.) . Wish it was a bit more melodic but this is minor-key stuff though check out “She’s a Fucking Angel (from fucking heaven)”. 7 songs. www.kiamrecords.com

RANDALL DOUGLAS MATSON- VICTORY FOR A DUNCE- OLD 3C/ LONELY OCHRE- Looks like this is 2 records on one disc. 9 songs each,

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE- HOLIDAY DREAM: SOUNDS OF THE HOLIDAYS VOLUME 1- GOOD RECORDS/CHERRY RED- Only a day late and a dollar……yup, Dallas’ finest sons do a record (and dvd) full of beautiful, orchestrated, sweeping X-mas songs. Surprised they didn’t do it sooner, honestly. www.cherryred.co.uk

MATTHEW SAWYER- SLEEP DREAMT A BROTHER- FIRE RECORDS- Formerly Matthew Sawyer and the Ghosts (not sure what happened to the ghosts) who offers up 10 songs of moody art/chamber pop that are influenced by Greek mythology. I can respect the guy for his unique take but not sure if this will ever end up in my cd player again. www.firerecords.com

SLEEPERS WORK- NO TURN BEFORE THE SHORELINE- PRIMARY RECORDS- Sleeper’s Work is the nom de plume for William Flynn, a Brooklyn who apparently spent decades perfecting his craft to create NO TURN… I hear beats, bumps, jumps and some stutter steps too. He has also been described as a “jazz conservatory survivor.” www.primaryrecords.com

SURF CITY- WE KNEW IT WAS NOT GOING TO BE LIKE THIS- FIRE RECORDS- I had heard this sophomore effort from this New Zealand band was a bit of a letdown after their terrific debut and….well, it is. The basic formula is the same , chugging, hooky, noisy pop (think The Clean) but the songs just aren’t as good. Some of it has grown on me but not way I was hoping for. www.firerecords.com

THE SWIMMING POOL Q’S- THE A & M YEARS: 1984-1986- UNIVERSAL MUSIC- I still want to hear these guys but this did not play.

RYAN VANDORBRECHT- BEAST OF LOVE- SELF RELEASED- Really wanted to like this as on the cover pic Ryan’s got an impressive moustache. The first song didn’t do it but song #2, “Great American Life” did as did 3rd song,. “I ain’t coming home tonight.” Ryan and his pal Rian Lewis both play like a hundred instruments and their homespun Americana sounded damn good to these ears. www.ryanvandorbrecht.com

WILD NOTHING – EMPTY ESTATE ep- CAPTURED TRACKS- Stop gap ep (7 songs) from Mr. Jack Tatum and pals. I like the artwork , very 80’s and of course his music is very 80’s too. Moodier and not as hooky as past stuff (listen to the weird instrumental “On Guyot”). Good but not great. www.capturedtracks.com

Kidd Oblivion still tells you the truth…

NATHAN ANGELO – OUT OF THE BLUE – SELF – White, imitation soul music flown in directly from 1985. Predictable in every way possible and guaranteed to squash your boner within minutes of listening.

THE APPLESEED COLLECTIVE – YOUNG LOVE – EARTHWORK – Baroque, folky-country not unlike a Catskills version of the Squirrel Nut Zippers or the Kings County Queens. There was a rash of these corny-ass bands in the early 00’s and I thought we were finally past this. Sadly, the Appleseeds keep the dream alive.

SCOTT BARKIN – FLIGHTLESS BIRD – SELF – I can say with great confidence that this cd is playing in a coffee shop in Prescott, AZ at this very moment and that some middle-aged Dad is bobbing his head to it thinking “yeah, I’m still hip.” Kudos for the cartoon penguin cover art though – I love penguins.

BIPOLAROID – TWIN LAGUAGE – GET HIP – Thanks to Get Hip for providing the first listenable record of this issue! This is a solid garage-psych unit with a heavy Syd Barrett vibe (esp. in the vocal dept.). Other moments recall some Rain Parade, Asteroid #4, older Beachwood Sparks and the Bevis Frond. Good-to-great. Legit.

THE BONGOS – PHANTOM TRAIN – JEM – 2 words: holy shit. This record (which was unreleased for nearly 30 years) is a virtual how-to guide for making an 80’s record / perfect soundtrack for a John Hughes movie. Seriously, the production of this record should be studied. And then destroyed. I love the Bongos though because guitarist James Mastro went on to open Water Music studios in Hoboken and bassist Rob Norris saved me from being homeless one summer. So, yes.

DAVID BOWIE – THE NEXT DAY – COLUMBIA – Hey another David Bowie record! Sweet! It sounds like another David Bowie record – except for the Tom Waits impersonation on “Dirty Boys.” I do give him credit for not putting his face on the cover for once – go Google the discography and tell me I’m wrong. Not a bad effort for an over-produced 70 year old dude. Yeah, old Davy Jones can still belt it out like a champ. And on the real – he’s a super nice guy.

CRUSHED STARS – FAREWELL YOUNG LOVERS – SIMULACRA – The ‘Stars play what we in the industry call some “classic” indie-pop. Elements of Belle and Sebastian rub up against an ethereal Radiohead / National foundation with a Galaxie 500 twist. It’s mostly a bummer-record, but there are a few upbeat moments to be had. Not bad, if you’re feeling nostalgic. Wink.

LIZZIE DAVIS – LATITUDES – ALIGHT – Music for forlorn, female graduate students who have never done drugs or looked at porn and are even too white-bread to get into St. Vincent or Regina Spektor.

THE DELTA MIRROR - BETTER UNSUNG – LIGHTWAVE – Switches between sub-par electronic ballads that want to sound like slow U2 or Trent Reznor film music and mid-tempo, bleep-bloop trickles - with appropriate soundbytes naturally. From Los Angeles (where else!?). Need I say more? Yawn.

FIELD STUDY – FEVERLAND – NMR – Clean, Canadian singer-songwriter indie-pop from the former frontman of the band Parlour Steps. Recorded and packaged nicely, with standard, attractive layout & colorful design. If you’re looking for the middle of the road, you’ve found it.

FIGHTS – MUSIC FOR VILLAINS – SELF – From the press release: “The band’s name is an acronym for – Formal Institute of Great Hits Tunes.” Yeah, ok. First of all, that’s stupid. Second, no one knows who you are or gives a fuck. Third, the songs themselves are obvious, regurgitations of some other band’s marginal interpretations. So, yeah, thanks for this.

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE – HERE’S TO THE GOOD TIMES, THIS IS HOW WE ROLL – REPUBLIC – In a continued effort to test my sanity and find the point at which my head will actually crack open and my melted brain will ooze out like black lava, Editor-n-chief “Little Timmy Hinely” has graced me with the so-bad-it’s-borderline-genius-or-a-hoax new southern rock band FGL. In short: this record is an insult. It’s actually partially to blame for why the entire world hates us. File under rape-y, CMT bullshit. Sub-category: Tim’s a dick.

THE FOOL - S/T – REVOLA – The Fool was an art collective in the late 60’s that somehow became famous enough to know the Beatles and fully exploit the shit out of that. They painted Lennon’s Bentley, decorated the Apple Records building as well as George Harrison’s house etc. Plus, they got to make a record! This record. And what a record it is. If you distilled all of the terrible, hokey, annoying, flower-power hippy bullshit from those days, squeezed it into a solid black turd and then flattened that turd into a playable record-album – you would have this album. More detail? Ok, try to imagine Captain Beefheart, with his balls cut off, singing for the Incredible String Band, speeding on acid and cult-chanting into the apocalypse. Get it? Thank “god” Black Sabbath finally came along to trample this garden party. Awful.

ADRIAN KRYGOWSKI – ROAM – SELF – As country / roots-rock names go, Krygowski is pretty atypical and his back-story is equally unlikely. It’s your classic “cubical drone for Verizon quits his job after a union strike, writes some songs in an empty little league baseball park and then moves to Nashville, makes a record and becomes a touring musician,” narrative. You see folks, it really is that easy.

MELT BANANA – FETCH – ZAP – Tokyo’s Melt Banana have been playing their own brand of freak-out hardcore / noise rock since fucking 1992! And lead-shrieker Yasuko Onuki is one bad-ass chick that seems like she’d cut a motherfucker in half. This shit is just relentless, not unlike their career, and they show no signs of mellowing or slowing down – at all. I’m not gonna listen to this everyday, but it’s pretty fucking killer. I mean, look how much profanity they made me use! Christ!

NO JOY – WAIT TO PLEASURE – KEMADO – Although they bounce around a little bit, I would say that No Joy would ultimately classify as “classic brit-pop.” There are space-y tracks, dance-y tracks, noisy tracks – all of which reminded me a bit of Lush. You can insert any of the scores of other names you remember from the early 90’s heyday and make a case for them being influences. It gets better as it goes as well, so all you kids with zero-fucking-attention-spans should try to hang in there a little bit. Ok?

SCARY CHERRY AND THE BANG BANGS – GIRL – SELF – Cartoon/ joke glam-punk band from LA (of course) that’s a combo of the Donnas, the Dandy Warhols, the Offspring and Spacehog. They have the dumb punk names (Tony Coke, Minx the Jinx and of course Scary Cherry herself ) and all the other played-out clichés that you can think of. Worst of all – the lyrics. Stuff like this sullies the good name of punk rock but, sadly, Kim Fowley probably still jacks off to it.

SCHOONER – NEIGHBORHOOD VEINS – POTLUCK – I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like there’s been a lot of talk lately about the death of what used to be called “college rock.” Well, here’s an argument against that. Schooner is quintessential “college rock.” If you don’t know what that means then look it up on Wikipedia.

TRENTALANGE – SAME ILLUSION – COCO TAURO – Leading the charge into the latest indie-culture sub-genre: Phantom of the Opera indie-pop.

 

JANUARY 2014

AUTISTIC YOUTH- NONAGE- DIRTNAP- Straight-ahead, hard-hitting punk from this Portland bunch who’ve been at it for a decade. Nothing too crazy here, just good old meat and potatoes punk with good songs and plenty o’ hooks. The Dirtnap label is nothing if not consistent. www.dirtnaprecs.com

THE BIG SWEET- BICYCLE NIGHTS- SELF RELEASED- If you think that the football Hall of Fame is the only thing to come out of Canton, OH well, you’re wrong. A tight, nifty jangle pop band named the Big Sweet also hail from there and the band, leader Sam Regas and pals sound like they’re influenced by all of the good stuff (Big Star, GBV, etc.). Dig this. www.facebook.com/thebigsweet

BLOUSE- IMPERIUM- CAPTURED TRACKS- Sophomore effort from this NYC trio of Charlie on vocals (she’s a she) and Jake and Patrick on instruments and it’s not too different from their debut. Oh sure, a little less pop on here and more mood (with psych tinges). Start with “Eyesight” and “1000 Years.” www.capturedtracks.com

BOARDWALK- S/T- STONES THROW – Lots of folks seem to be doing this blissed-out, gauzy, dreamy pop these days, well add the LA duo of Mike Edge and Amber Quintero to the list. This isn’t all good sounds though, the band has their songwriting chops down, check out “What’s Love?” and “As a man” for starters. www.stonesthrow.com

BOOGARINS- AS PLANTAS QUE CURAM- FAT POSSUM/OTHER MUSIC- Ok, I know this much, the band is a couple of Brazilian teenagers who are definitely influenced by Os Mutantes. Apparently Fernando and Benke were messing around in their basement and then got discovered. AS PLANTAS QUE CURAM, the duo’s debut, has loose wires hanging all over it but enough interesting bits (and good songs) to qualify it as a curiousity for sure. It’s fuzzy and colorful and should be heard. www.fatpossum.com

DEADCAT- TRANSIENTUALISM- PSYCHO ARMY- For fans of Battles, which isn’t me. www.psycharmy.com

THE DIFFERENCE MACHINE- THE PSYCHEDELIC SOUNDS OF…- PSYCH ARMY- See Deadcat above but this is more Dr. Octagon/Kool Keith-ish rap. www.psycharmy.com

DUOLOGUE- SONG & DANCE- KILLING MOON RECORDS- Hated this the first time through nut it’s slowly growing on me. London 5-some who offer up some glitchy pop that reminded me of Radiohead one minute and Depeche Mode the next. My pick to click is “Zeroes.” www.killing-moon.com

HEAD SHY- LA BELLE EPOQUE- SELF RELEASED- Triple EP by this Austin band who don’t sound like an Austin band (as if the city of Austin has a specific sound). The sounds are mostly quiet and dreamy (think Mazzy Star) and the drummer plays a doumbek. Wait….what? www.headshy.com

HEADSTONES- LOVE & FURY- FROSTBYTE- Canadian hard rock that might appeal to fans of Limp Bizkit or Kid Rock. If you like this record I hate you. www.headstonesband.com

HELEN LOVE- DAY-GLO DREAMS- ELEFANT- For two decades now this British band (with, yes Ms. Helen Love on vocals) have been cranking out chirpy, kitchy songs with a cheap synth, xylophone, etc. Opening cut ‘We Are all the Lo-Fi Kids” is the perfect opener which then kicks into the title track. They get a bit tender on “Our Mum and Dad” but otherwise, this is all kooky fun. As it should be. www.elefant.com

KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS- AT HOME- CASCINE- Greek duo (the band name is a pun on their hometown) who offer up a bit of a mess on their debut LP (after few eps). I guess you could call this dream pop (think of a druggier Cocteau Twins) but musically some of the songs are dense when they should be more minimal and at time vocalist Sarah P.’s vox grate on the nerves (mine anyway). There are some good tunes in the bunch tho’, start with ‘Recollection” and go. www.cascine.us

KING KHAN & THE SHRINES- IDLE NO MORE- MERGE- Psychedelic garage bunch led by one half of King Khan and BBQ Show, they seem dot get a head of steam after their debut WHAT IS? but then when KK and BBQ reformed it seemed this was on hold. IDLE NO MORE is all blasting horns, cool keyboards and good vibes. You could do a lot worse than spin this at your next party (or bring the band to your house, live they are righteous). www.mergerecords.com

LANTERNS ON THE LAKE- UNTIL THE COLOURS RUN- BELLA UNION- I learned of a new genre while reading a review this sophomore effort by this bunch, “cinematic indie.” Ok, I’ll take it. Yes, the songs on UNTIL THE COLOURS RUN are grand and swooping (at times majestic, too) but hey, it’s no FUNERAL (Arcade Fire’s debut). Solid though, and I do like the girl singer’s (Hazel Wilde) voice. www.bellaunion.com

CATER LEBON- MUG MUSEUM- WICHITA- Third Long player from this flowery folk princess. I do not mean to imply that this is coffeehouse folks but it is whispery and a bit whimsical, too. Was trying to think of who she reminded me of then Lisa Germano came to mind. Nice stuff, don’t love it but like it for sure. My pick to click, “I Think I know.” www.wichita-recordings.com

LO FINE- WANT IS A GREAT NEED- ASR- Massachusetts bunch led by the elusive Kevin O’Rourke whose been honing his Lo Fine craft since 1998. I liked the last record I heard by them a few years back and this one seems just as good. The songs unwind and unfold and are Very Elliott Smith-y (if I may make a real general comparison). www.lofine.bandcamp.com

PANTALEIMON- THE BUTTERFLY ATE THE PEARL- GRASS GIRL MUSIC- Pleasant surprise from this UK songwriter Andria Degens and this is her 5th lp under the Pantaleimon name. On this one Will Oldham sings on one tune and Aussie legend Hugo Race is all over the record. The songs meander and take their time at every turn. Time and space becomes meaningless while this is on. www.pantaleimon.com

PAPER AIRPLANES- SCANDAL SCANDAL SCANDAL DOWN IN THE WHEAT FIELD- AIR HOUSE- Kansas trio who gets lots of help on this record. Originally self released in 2008. It’s a bit folky with bits of experimentalism (pop , too…lots of cello, violin and trumpet). Wanted to hate it as pretentious but this is pretty unique. Me no hate, me love. www.airhouserecords.com

THE PARANOID CRITICAL REVOLUTION- CRIMSON CANVAS- SELF RELEASED- A band that sounds just like you would think a band with the name THE PARANOID CRITICAL REVOLUTION would sound. Roger sings and Reg plays guitar and the drums are programmed. These guys hate EVERYTHING. www.theparanoidcriticalrevolution.com

POTTY MOUTH- HELL BENT- MARSHALL TELLER/ OLD FLAME- Four college women from Northampton, MA take their name from a Bratmobile record and grind out 10- songs complete with heaps of attitude and melody. Abby, Ally, Victoria and Phoebe aren’t rewriting the book of rock music but they are injecting some ‘tude into it. My pick to click is “Wishlist” thought most of this is real good (fans of Tiger Trap will dig it). www.oldflamerecords.com

THOMAS RHETT- IT GOES LIKE THIS- VALORY MUSIC COMPANY- Scruffy, 23 year old son of Rhett Atkins offers up his debut record that I wanted to hate but it’s not too bad. It’s pop country like a lot of what comes out of Nashville (with goofy lyrics) but hey, I’ve heard a lot worse. www.thevalorymusicco.com

SECRETARY- S/T- SELF RELEASED – Raise your hand if you remember the terrific band Summer At Shatter Creek from the early 00’s? Well, this is Craig and Em from that band along with some other friends. Only three songs here but it’s got that haunting/dreamy sound like the best S.A.S.C. I hope they plan on recording more and touring, too. www.secretaryband.com

UP THE CHAIN- SEEDS & THORNS- SELF RELEASED- Singer-songwriter stuff from a Philly guy named Reed Kendall. He says his biggest influence is Conor Oberst but I hear a modern-day James Taylor. Needs a little more bite of my liking. www.upthechain.com

CHRIS ZURICH- BLACK INK- SELF RELEASED- Low-key folktronica from a Philly dude who was once in a Mars Volta cover band. Not my cuppa tea. www.chriszurich.com

V/A- YOU BE MY HEART: A BENEFIT FOR 826 VALENCIA- SELF RELEASED- This is a benefit comp for 826 Valencia which help foster creating writing in kids. Terrific lineup of bands with Horse Feathers, Fruit bats, Mark Kozelek, the Spinto Band, The Finches, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Marissa Nadler, Letting Up Despite Great Faults and many more (17 songs in all). A most excellent comp and a great cause. www.youbemyheart.com

 

DECEMBER 2013

65’S- I GOT YOU- PYRRHIC VICTORY RECORDINGS- North jersey band who had a full-length out on Dromedary a few years ago come back with 4 more songs. Gritty guitars and gravelly vocals and while the first song, “Have You Been Saved?” was too metal for me I like the other 3 songs. Caveman rock. www.pyrrhicvictoryrecordings.com

BLACK BOOKS- S/T- BELIEVE RECORDINGS- The Big Music (hey, they are from Texas) by dudes who toured with the Flaming Lips and create a big atmospheric, gauzy brew that I wasn’t super into (though I could see this growing on me) but lots of folks are so who’s right, me or them?

CHROME- HALF MACHINE FROM TH SUN: THE LOST TRACKS 1979-’80-KING OF SPADES RECORDS- Early, gnarly stuff form this San Francisco duo of Helios Creed and Damon Edge. These guys were a huge influence on Steve Albini/ Big Black. Are you man enough?

BLAIR CRIMMINS & THE HOOKERS- SINGS-A-LONGS- NEW RAG RECORDS- Some ragtime, some Dixieland jazz , some swing and a ton of energy from this well-dressed dude form Atlanta who gets a whole host of folks to help out (the Hookers?). My fave here is “Run that Rabbit Down” …these dudes have ENERGY. www.blaircrimminsandthehookers.com

DANIELLE BRADBERY- S/T- REPUBLIC NASHVILLE- 17 year old Texas who won this year’s season of The Voice. What more do you need to know, really? It’s typical pop country stuff that while she has talent (ok, a nice voice) it’s nothing unique. www.republicnashville.com

CHEROKEE RED- S/T (SELF RELEASED) This Pennsylvania band calls what they do dream pop and while it is dreamy (w. female vocals) it’s more folks, I think. Some said RIYL Fleetwood Mac and that sounds apt to me (I like some F.M. stuff) and a little Beach House-y, too. At times it’s so light you think the song will float away. www.cherokeered.bandcamp.com

THE DELTA MIRROR- BETTER UNSUNG- LIGHTWAVE- LA hazies led by Chris Acosta and the last time we heard from them was on 2010’s MACHINES THAT LISTEN, their debut) and they reminded me a little of Black Books (see above). At least in the same ballpark, no? Maybe Wrigley Field? www.myspace.com/thedealtamirror

THE DODOS- CARRIER- POLYVINYL- Record #5 by this San Francisco duo of Meric Long and Logan Kroeber. This record was apparently influenced by the death of one of their friends and co-horts so the record is understandably subdued. While not my fave Dodos’ record (that would be VISITER) there’s still some strong songs on here like the bounce of “Confidence” and the gentle, “The Current.” www.polyvinylrecords.com

DOSH- MILK MONEY- GRAVEFACE- This multi-instrumentalist guy Dosh, who happens to be the drummer for Andrew Bird, is a sound scientist, creating atmospheric soundscapes via loops and plenty more. I can usually only take this stuff in small doses (though there is a fair amount of melody here). 7 songs, including the last one which is just shy of 25 minutes. Like a modern day Phillip Glass? www.graveface.com

DROWNER- YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL I FORGIVE YOU- SAINT MARIE RECORDS- More ace shoegaze from this fine Texas label and this band, Drowner hail from Houston themselves. Glistening guitar walls shoot down from above with some dreamy female vocals over the top. Fans of Slowdive and Lush will dig this. Well done. www.saintmarierecords.com

EROS AND THE ESCHATON- HOME ADDRESS FOR CIVIL WAR- BAR NONE- North Carolina via Nebraska duo of Kate and Adam apparently packed all of their worldy possessions in a motor home and shot across the country to Greensboro, NC to raise their child an record a record. On HOME ADDRESS FOR….they create a swirling pop dream with obvious nods to MBV (and not unlike current folks like Beach House). The fuzz is maxed out and there’s plenty of gorgeous melodies to be found in these tunes. This review should be longer bit I have to go. I like this. www.bar-none.com

FUTURE LOVES PAST- ALL THE LUCIOUS PLANTS- COMMON WALL MEDIA- I don’t know much about this whole Common Wall Medica collective except that I dig every release they seem to send me. This one is no exception, it’s got a ton of melody but the rhythms are dancy (and anyone who knows I’m usually no fan of dancy). They’ve got the songs too. www.commonwall.com

RYAN K. HAMLIN- RUN- CENTER SOUND RECORDS- Raleigh, NC dude offering up 5 songs on this debut ep. Americana-ish folk olk with some twang, not bad, but too lightweight for me. www.centersoundrecords.com

THE HARMED BROTHERS- BETTER DAYS- FLUFF & GRAVY- This is real good, bluegrassy Americana from a few dudes (and I believe 2 of them are brothers). A bit in the Uncle Tupelo vein….you’d swear you’ve heard some of these songs before but all are originals. “Sky Cracked a Smile” is my fave here but several others are close. Jump on this bandwagon NOW. www.fluffandgravy.com

HAUSU- TOTAL- HARDLY ART- I like most of the stuff on the Hardly Art label, including this, but this one got lost in the shuffle. These Portland kids seem to be influenced by 80’s/90;s stuff like Mission of Burma, Sonic Youth and Fugazi. I like what they’re doing with those guitars and the inventive songs demand repeated listens. www.hardlyart.com

HELLSHOVEL- HATED BY THE SUN- SLOVENLY- Glad to see the Slovenly label is still around, quietly releasing records year after year (and maybe quietly isn’t the best description). This Montreal bunch reminded me of the Black Lips with that wobbly, shambling, psychedelic garage sound. My pick to click here is “Pixie Dust’ but most of this is real good. www.slovenly.com

HUNX AND HIS PUNX- STREET PUNK- HARDLY ART- Another one that got lost in the shuffle (unfortunately). This Bay Area bunch, led by Seth Bogart (Gravy Train) and Shannon Shaw (Shannon & the Clams) rips through 12 snot rocker tunes in 20 minute. The songs are in your face as are the lyrics (“I got bad skinnnnnn”). I need more. www.hardlyart.com

LAS KELLIES- TOTAL EXPOSURE- FIRE RECORDS- Argentinian trio who went from more spaz punk jams to……reggae? Yup…this record was produced by Dennis “Blackbeard” Bovell and has a real dubby sound to it. Raise your hand if you remember The Slits? www.firerecords.com

MELT-BANANA-FETCJH- A-ZAP/REVOLVER- This Japanese band has been at it for two decades but this is their first record of new material since 2007 (they did do s live record in 2009) and they still sound as psychotic as ever (mostly the vocals). High-energy cuts like “The Hive” and “Vertigo Game” show they’re still on their game. www.a-zap.com

MYPOIC- WE WERE HERE- SIMULACRA- This is an, to quote the press kit, “Ambient instrumental project of Texas-based drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Ryan.” But this is full-band, not just Ryan and fans of this kinda stuff (Not me) will eat this stuff right up. As Ryan also stated, “It’s literally about doing something before it’s too late.” You know, I like this guy Ryan, I’m gonna keep listening. www.simulacrarecords.com

NO JOY- WAIT TO PLEASURE- MEXICAN SUMMER- Sophomore effort from Montreal shoegaze freaks that’s old now (this one came out in April). They expand upon their fine debut (2010’s GHOST BLONDE) by diving even deeper into the quagmire where guitars can’t not love each other. Can you say tremolo? www.mexicansummer.com

POMPEYA- TROPICAL- NO SHAME- It IS ironic that a band from Moscow (Russia, not Idaho) would name their record TROPICAL but there you have it. The band kicks through 12 pleasant, summery disco pop tunes, songs that are real easy to like. Thus kind of stuff can be real hit or miss with me but this was hit. www.noshame.com

ST. LENOX- THAT OLD TIME RELIGION- ANYWAY RECORDS- Electronica (or is this folktronica/) from an NYC via Columbus dude. Not what you’d normally expect from the Anyway label but this is good. This ep is a preview of the forthcoming full-length. My pick to click is “To Be Young Again.” www.anyway-records.com

DEVON SPROULE & MIKE O’NEILL- COLOURS- TIN ANGEL RECORDS Two Canadians, O’Neill was in The Inbreds (who I liked) while Sproule, though this is her 7th records, I had never heard her before but she has bit of country croon. This is real laid back , like REAL laid back. Good songs, though , my pick to click is “You Can’t Help It.” 10 songs in all. www.tinangelrecords.co.uk

MALCOLM TENT- NADA CHANTS- GOLD STAIN RECORDS- And Atlantic City’s punk rock accordionist Malcolm Tent is still throwing his cog into the machine. 13 more songs and on this releases he’s joined by other A.C. luminaries like Adam Berardo and Dion on drums. Songs like “Realin,” “Always Around” and “Decade Dance” will have you expand your definition of punk. www.facebook.com/pages/malcolm-tent-punk

TRENTALANGE- SAME ILLUSION- COCO TAURO- I wasn’t into the previous record by this Seattle-ite and not too into this one either. She has talent (she even designed the cd package) and I dunno, I like El Perro Del mar (who this reminds me of but this was not mah thang. www.trentalangemusic.com

WAU Y LOS ARRRGHS!!!- TODO ROTO- SLOVENLY- 60’s retro band from Spain crankin’ out howling basement garage rock. I can’t sing along, but who cares, they have a guitarist, organ player, rhythm section and a vocalist who sounds like he needs to go back to the rubber room once the band is done. www.slovenly.com

 

NOVEMBER 2013

THE ANATOMY OF FRANK- PANAGEA- SELF RELEASED- What you might think will be a simple folky record (from the opening banjo) building into some much grander and more atmospheric by This Virginia band. Also, this record is a grower something that will take you several listens to grab all of the nuances. I know I didn’t get them all on my one listen. Radiohead fans will appreciate. www.theanatomyoffrank.com

CHIC GAMINE- CLOSER- LUCKY FOX RECORDS-All-female bunch from Canada doing a sort of stylish, soulful pop that has some echoes of jazz and even 60’s girl groups. The band is talented and while I did like some of the harmonies this wasn’t my cuppa tea. www.chicgamine.com

GENE CLARK- HERE TONIGHT/ THE WHITE LIGHT DEMOS- OMNIVORE RECORDINGS- I’m not sure how this record got lost in the pile of cds but , yes, these are demo versions of songs firm Clark’s 1971 solo record. Even after having spent time in the Byrds (and leaving us in 1991- RIP) this guy is still underrated. A beautiful collection of songs straight from the heart (Clark knew no other way). www.omnivorerecordings.com

COASTWEST UNREST- HIGH TIMES ON LOWLY STREETS- RECLAIM RECORDS- Rootsy/Americana band from last Vegas (now there’s a sentence you won’t see me type very often) but this trio (along with an added cellist/backing vocalist) and you’ll hear plenty o’ violin and harmonica and the sweet vocals of Noah Dickie (I’m assuming that’s his bro Josh on percussion). The songs are good and this band could be (no, IS) going places. www.reclaimrecords.com

DIARRHEA PLANET- I’M RICH BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS- INFINITY CAT- Nashville, bunch (with the awful name) who like rock music. No, I mean ROCK MUSIC. I’M RICH is chock full of what sounds like meathead guitar rock upon the first listen but further inspection shows a penchant for hooks. And yes, they do have a song called “Hammer of the Gods” (truth). I heard live they slay, too. www.infinitycat.com

DRAMADY- ANSWER ONLY TO THE SEA- COCHON RECORDS- Portland duo of Amanda (on bass and sax) and Zachery on drums, keys and vocals…they’ve got some loops too). This is their 2nd full-length but now I want to hear the debut. This is interesting yet sugary pop that really POPS (and I love sugar). “Go Home” is what I’m usually told by friends but these two aren’t talking to me. At least I think not. www.myspace.com/dramadypdx

ELUSIVE PARALLELOGRAMS- FRAGMENTS- SELF RELEASED- I was expecting some kind of spare, Ambient tunes from this Milwaukee bunch but this is more of a mish-mash of a few genres (pop, prog, electronic, shoegaze). 6 songs (plus a hidden 7th track) with song titles like “Lucidity,” “Semantics” and “Absolution.” Yup, they’re nerds. www.elusiveparellelograms.com

ESCONDIDO- THE GHOST OF ESCONDIDO- KILL CANYON- Nashville duo of Tyler on many instruments sand Jessica on vocals and they seem to hit that sweet spot right where Mazzy Star, Ennio Morricone, Neko Case, Mojave 3 and Calexico all collide, chat, have dinner then all go to bed. Yup, ALL OF them (hey, it’s big bed). I’ve got a download of this buy I’m buying the real thing. Oh yeah.

ROBBIE FULKS- GONE AWAY BACKWARD- BLOODSHOT- Hard to believe that Chicago’s Robbie Fulks has only (“only”) been at it since the mid-90’s….seems like he started in the 70’s. Fulks is back on his original label, Bloodshot and this 12-sonmg record is mostly ballads and it was produced by none other than Steve Albini,. A win all the way around. www.bloodshotrecords.com

EZRA FURMAN- THE YEAR OF NO RETURNING- BAR NONE- I had never heard of this singwer0-songrtier before but he had a backing band the harpoons for a few records. I keep reading comparisons to Dylan but I hear more of a Gordon Gano influence. The guy definitely seems pretty unique and is following his own music. This took a while to grow on me but it has! www.bar-none.com

DAN HUBBARD- LIVIN’ IN THE HEARTLAND- DEAD LETTER RECORDS- Middle American songwriter who’s got the long hair, the acoustic guitar , the photo of himself in the cornfields and a record named LIVIN’ IN THE HEARTLAND. Fans of John Cougar Mellencamp. It’s lightweight, nice and pretty harmless. www.danhubbard.net

AIDAN KNIGHT- SMALL REWARD- OUTSIDE MUSIC- This record, the sophomore effort from a talented Canadian songwriter, is one of those ones that I know I will love once I put the time in. It’s low-key and imaginative with streaks of gorgeousness everywhere. It opens with the 7-minute “Dream Team” and goes from there with Knight’s band laying it all down perfectly. www.outside-music.com

MIDNITE ON PEARL BEACH- LAMPLIGHTER- SELF RELEASED- Louisiana resident Justin Jahkne basically is MOPB and this is drowsy, soulful pop along the lines of a My Morning Jacket. At times the songs were a bit too trippy for me and not really moving the song forward but overall it wasn’t bad. “Modern Gods” is my pick to click. www.midniteonpearlbeach.bandcamp.com

JOHN NAGLE- DISTRACTIONS- SELF RELEASED- Jazzy, soulful pop with those whispered, beatnik vocals that I hate so much. Some who thinks Tom Waits is too weird might dig this. I did not. www.welovejohnnagle.com

PAINT FUMES- UCK LIFE- SLOVENLY- With a band called Paint Fumes, and it being on the Slovenly label (and a picture of a band member vomiting on the inside cd jacket…I think it’s real, too) you know it’s gonna rock and be sloppy as all get out. You’d be right on both counts. Now I have to see these guys live and hope they play some of those screeching, one-note guitar solos. Yeah! www.slovenly.com

SAID THE WHALE- HAWAII- HIDDEN PONY- 4th record by this Vancouver, BC bunch and while I never heard the first 3 I may need to do some digging as this is really good. Nothing real heavy here, it’s pretty lightweight but those who know me know I DO NOT mind lightweight. The songs are good, the hooks a plenty, what’s not to like? www.hiddenpony.ca

NICHOLAS TREMULIS ORCHESTRA- FOR THE BABY DOLL- SELF RELEASED- Wow, I feel like a fool for not having heard of this guy before but he’s apparently released his firsdt record in ’85 (and many others since). Chicago-based dude kicks out a nice 11-song set here with nods to swampy r & b and some gritty Americana, too. Fan of Nick Cave will appreciate. Well done. www.nicholastremulis.com

WIRETREE- GET UP- SELF RELEASED- Another strong record by this Austin, TX quartet. I never heard the first two but really dug the previous one. They do a nice mix of roots pop with some jangle pop tossed in and strong songwriting. Leader Kevin Peroni should be a lot more well-known than he is. Make this guy famous, will ya’? www.wiretreemusic.com

 

OCTOBER 2013

56 MEN- LANDING LIGHTS- ZIP RECORDS- 2nd release by this Northeast bunch (first for the Zip label) that was produced by Smash Palace’s Stephen Butler. If you know the Zip label then you know it’s all about hooky power pop , mostly of the 1980’s variety (even though the band is current). My pick to click is the zippy “If You Can’t Tell Me.” www.ziprecords.com

THERESE AUNE- BILLOWING SHADOWS FLICKERING LIGHT- RED EYE TRANSIT RECORDS- Dark, chamber pop from this Norwegian who gets boatload of folks to help her out on this record. Despite the amount of instruments it sounds a bit spares and the vocals sound so far away yet it’s all steeped in beauty. Recorded in Iceland. Intriguing. www.redeyetransit.com

DEATH VALLEY RALLY- THE STARS SHINE BRIGHTER AFTER MIDNIGHT- PLANTING SEEDS RECORDS- Nice…..more catchy, fuzzy pop via the Planting Seeds label. I think this quartet might be from the label’s home in Virginia Beach. Only 6 songs on here but not a bad one in the bunch. For fans of Ride and Velocity Girl. Gimme more. www.plantingseedsrecords.com

FIALTA – SUMMER WINTER- SELF RELEASED- I had never heard of this California band before (comprised of two couples) but I hope to hear more. SUMMER WINTER is chock full of smart, hooky pop that most band wish they could write. They sound like a band who could be in Allen Clapp’s Mystery Lawn Music stable. I like this. www.fialtamusic.com

THE GOOD INTENTIONS- TRAVELING COMPANION- DRUMFIRE RECORDS- You’d think this quartet, led by songwriter Rick Shea came down the hill form laurel Canyon but nope, they call the UK home and even have some awards under their belt. This is a strong batch of songs led by the band’s secret weapon: autoharp/accordionist Gabrielle Monk. Good stuff. www.drumfirerecords.com

RICHARD X. HEYMAN- X- TURN-UP RECORDS- Heyman is one of those guys who has been on the scene for decades and while adored by power pop fans but has been unjustly ignored for years. I’m guilty too as I have heard very little of his music over the years but most of the tracks on here are terrific, hooky, punchy (and occasionally) tender pop music. For fans of Matthew Sweet or Velvet Crush. The guy can write an excellent pop tune. www.richardxheyman.com

NICK JAINA- PRIMARY PERCEPTION- FLUFF & GRAVY RECORDS- Jaina is a low-key Portland songwritie3r that I always forget about until one of his records plops into my po box, I listen and then realized how underrated he is,. PRIMARY PERCETPTION’s 11 songs mixes his off-kilter pop aspects along with some meatier gunk. Nice. www.fluggandgravy.com

LEVERAGE MODELS- S/T- HOMETAPES- Hey, if the back of your record makes comparisons to OMD, Scritti Politti, Robert Wyatt, A Certain Ratio, ABC, This Heat, etc. then I’m probably gonna like it. It did and I did. www.home-tapes.com

LILY- LIFE OF LILY- SELF RELEASED- A Brit who moved to NYC, graduated law school and acts in off-Broadway productions too. Can she bake a cake too? Not sure but this 10-song record is full of harmless pop, some folky but most a little more upbeat (lots of piano). The next Jewel? www.musicbylily.com

LOVERS- A FRIEND IN THE WORLD- BADMAN- Quirky, electro pop from three gals who call Portland home. This is their 7th record (??!!) so they’ve been honing their craft for quite some time. I was expecting bad riot grrrl but most of this is nice. I can even dance to it and I don’t dance. Well, sometimes. Maybe. www.badmanrecordingco.com

TOM MCDERMOTT- BAMBOULA- MINKY RECORDS- New Orleans guy who dabbles in it all, Cajun, Creole and a touch o’ Dixieland jazz music. Dude is a hell of a pianist and while this type of music isn’t my bag the guy is a real talent. Liner notes by van Dyke Parks. www.minkyrecords.com

MIGRANT KIDS- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Austin via Detroit band who it says are influenced by David Lynch, which could b a good or bad thing. Here’ it’s…well…both. Once opener “Act 1” kids in from the murk it’s all good but some of the other gunk was too steeped in oddball studio fuckery. Yeah, I said fuckery. www.migrantkids.bandcamp.com

MORNINGBELL- BOA NOITE- SELF RELEASED- They hail from Florida, this is their 6th record and they have a guy in the band named Chris Hillman (the only one in the band not to have the last name Atria but it’s not THAT Chris Hillman). This band has a nice mix if, well, everything. I’ll be REAL general here and say it reminded me a bit of Arcade Fire. I’m out. www.morningbellonline.com

THE PSYCHED- S./T- SLOVENLY/ BLACK GLADIATOR RECORDS- You know the Slovenly label isw known for good taste in hammering garage punk and The Psyched is no exception. These 9 songs are like a jackhammer to your brain. You ever have your brain jackhammered? I have and it was cool but I think I like this record more. Yup, MORE. www.slovenly.com

SHANNON & THE CLAMS- DREAMS IN THE RATHOUSE- HARDLY ART- had been wanting to hear this Bay Area trio for a few years now and finally did on this 3rd release. I wasn’t blown away but the songs on DREAMS IN THE RATHPUISE have certainly grown on me in the few months I’ve had it. They mix 50’s rock n’ roll with current day garage and I do like Shannon Shaw’s coarse vocals. Was hoping for more hooks, mebbe next time. www.hardlyart.com

RATHBORNE- SOFT- DILLETANTE- At first I thought that this was Luke Rathborne’s METAL MACHINE MUSIC then realized that I had a defective cd. Damn you!

WALTER SICKERT & THE ARMY OF BROKEN TOYS- SOFT TIME TRAVELLER- SELF RELEASED- Bunch o’ freaks from Boston led by the dread-locked Walter Sickert who resembles Rob Zombie, but seems to be more influenced by Tom Waits. I can definitely respect this band’s ambition, the music wasn’t my thing but they put it all in….everything they had. www.armyoftoys.com

SLOWPOKE- S/T- SELF RELEASED- “Slowpoke is fast becoming one of the most sought after country rock bands in Ontario today!”- from their Facebook page.

SPECIAL BEAT- LIVE IN JAPAN- BAD FISH/ CHERRY RED- 22 song set (with an accompanying dvd) of a Special Beat gig in Japan in 1992. This was the band that was Ranking Roger along with a few of the guys from Fun Boy 3 and some other folks. Completists already have but the rest of you , it is high-energy (‘natch) and worth some listens. www.cherryred.co.uk

THEE OOPS- HAPPY CHARLIE ep- SLOVENLY- I already discussed jackhammering your brain (see The Psyched review above) these miscreants hail from Sardinia (part of Italy…yeah, I had to look it up too) and this is more like classic hodcoah, fast n’ bulbous. Plus they cover the Beastie Boy’s h/c (1982) classic, “Egg Raod on Mojo” so you know they’ve got good taste (a song like “Hope You Die Tonight” proves that). Go! www.slovenly.com .

SCOTT TOURNET- VER LA LUZ- SELF RELEASED- Guitarist for Grace Potter & the Nocturnals releases a solo record. The songs that are overall pretty hooky but pretty harmless as well. Not bad. www.scotttournetmusic.com

TOWNES VAN ZANDT- SUNSHINE BOY: THE UNHEARD STUDIO SESSIONS & DEMOS 1971-1972- OMNIVORE RECORDINGS- These demo are right around the time of two of his strongest records, HIGH, LOW & INETWEEN and THE LATE, GREAT TOWNES VAN ZANDT. It has 28 songs spread across two discs including an alternate mix of “Pancho & Lefty” (no strings or horns) as well as the title track, “T for Texas,” “Blue Ridge Mountains,” “Mr Mudd & Mr. Gold” and plenty more. Fans both high and low need this one. www.omnivorerecordings.com

THE VIBRATORS- GREATEST PUNK HITS- MVD AUDIO/ O-RAMA- Long-running UK punk who have been at it since the beginning of time (If you have not heard their terrific 1977 debut, PURE MANIA, then by all means get it). This has a bunch of their early cuts re-recorded in ’91 along with some extras. Not bad but get the originals. www.mvdaudio.com

 

SEPTEMBER 2013

THE CHAPIN SISTERS- A DATE WITH THE EVERLY BROTHERS- LAKE BOTTOM RECORDS- Those dreamy Chapin Sisters are back with a full record (14 songs) of Everly Brothers covers. Basically the two gals with acoustic guitars and their lovely voices (I hear pianos and drums too). Oh sure, they do “Cathy’s Clown,” “So Sad” and “When Will I Be Loved” and plenty more. I like this….real nice. www.thechapinsisters.com

CITY SOCIETY- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Melodic , bedroom pop from one man, Rich Cupolo. For fans of Magnetic Fields and Trembling Blue Stars. Yeah! www.citysocietymusic.com

CORESPONDENTS- LAND OF THE LOW PEOPLE- SELF RELEASED- Freaky folk with a hint of that cowboy stuff in there. Some call is gypsy music, I call it way out there but interesting and hey, this bunch definitely follows their own music. My favorite song title: “Chicha Latte.” www.corespondents.bandcamp.com

DECADES- W/T- WHITE GIRL RECORDS- Terrific Canadian quartet who seem to take some cues from Joy Division and also the Chameleons UK, too. The songs are dramatic and soaring with confident vocals, lots of flanged guitar and a punishing rhythm section. This deserves a listen and then some. Superb. www.whitegirlrecords.com

ROGER ENO and PLUMBLINE- ENDLESS CITY/ CONCRETE GARDEN- HYDROGEN DUKEBOX- Roger (yup, Brian’s brother) and Plumbline (Will Thomas) construct 10 experimental pop songs that are at times gorgeous and other times way, way out there. Not something I’d put on at a party but perhaps perfect for my next séance! www.hydrogendukebox.com

HAILER- ANOTHER WAY- FIRST EDITION- Aussie bunch seemingly right in between the nu rock of Arcade Fiore and their forefather Bruce Springsteen. A few of these 11 tunes were snoozers but tracks like “Anyway I Can” and “Postcard” are fist-pumping anthem. Now if they can do a whole record of cuts like these. www.hailer.com.au

CLAY HARPER- OLD AIRPORT ROAD- TERMINUS RECORDS- Oddball experimental blues/jazz from this pizzeria own form Atlanta. The cover looks a bit like the ‘stones EXILE ON MAIN STREET but musically this wasn’t my thing. www.terminusrecords.com

TODD HERFINDAL- RIGHT HERE NOW- SINGLE RECORDINGS- Another terrific pop record from former Meadows frontman Herfindal. I enjoyed 2008’s COLLECTIVE but this is even better. If you like Petty (or even Dylan’s poppier stuff) then Herfindal will be your new hero. www.toddherfindalmusic.com

THE ICARUS LINE- SLAVE VOWS- AGITATED RECORDS- 6th record from this long-running LA band who have no doubt been Stoogified upon their first listen to FUNHOUSE. SLAVE VOW’;S 8 SONGS are like four guys sucker-punching dinosaurs. Go! www.agitatedrecords.com

JASON ISBELL- SOUTHEASTERN- SOUTHEASTERN RECDORDS- Well, it’s not the masterpiece that HERE WE REST was but heck, any Isbell record will be a damn good one as the guy is one of our country’s best songwriters. And no 400 Unit (bassist Jimbo Hart is not on this record). Hmmm… www.jasonisbell.com

JUNIOR ASTRONOMERS- DEAD NOSTALGIA- SELF RELEASED- The “R.I.Y.L.- At the Drive In, The Strokes, Modest Mouse” was no selling point for me and after listening I was right. www.juniorastronomers.com

OURS- BALLET THE BOXER- SELF RELEASED- This sounds to me like what they hyped as “alternative music” in the early 90’s and god knows I hated that. www.ours.net

THE PURRS- THE BOY WITH ASTRONAUT EYES- FIN RECORDS- I’ve heard a few singles and I think their last full-length but had no ideas this Seattle psych-pop bunch are on record #7. On THE BOY WITH… the band gets a chance to spread out and let it all hang out but I think with these guys I like them in small doses. Like the the terrific “Rotting on the Vine.” More 7”s! www.finrecords.com

NADINE SHAH- LOVE YOUR DUM AND MAD- APOLLO RECORDS- Moody, gothic ballads from this debut record by the NYC singer songwriter. She has already garnered lots of acclaim (7.9 on Pitchfork) and grabbed comparisons to PJ Harvey and even Nick Cave. Who am I to disagree. www.nadineshah.com

SMALL MULTIPLES- S/T ep- SELF RELEASED- Two pals from NYC, Craig and Eli are Small Multiples. On this 5-song debut ep they fly all over the place from tweaked electronic music (“Makeup”) to something much prettier and soaked in melody (“Side by Side”). The goofy artwork on the cover had me thinking I was gonna hate but nope, liked it in fact. www.smallmultiples.bandcamp.com

JACK WILSON- SPARE KEY- FLUFF & GRAVY RECORDS- Austin via Seattle singer-songwriter who channels his inner (outer) Neil Young (the acoustic stuff) and Brian Wilson (on opening track “Timbertown”). This however is a record he had to write after a shooting in a Seattle club left a few of his friends dead and Wilson searching for answers. No sure if he found them but SPARE KEY is a passionate and gorgeous record that deserves repeated listens. www.fluffandgravy.com

 

AUGUST 2013

BRENT AMAKER AND THE RODEO- YEAR OF THE DRAGON- FIN RECORDS- This motley crew, who I think hail from Seattle have been at it for quite some time (this is either record 3 or 4) and this might be their best batch of songs yet. Johnny Cash isn’t here any longer but that’s ok as B.A. is carrying on in that tradition and the Rodeo are ready, willing and obedient. I still need, NEED to see these guys live. Unless you’re on something, you’ll dig it. www.finrecords.com

STEPHEN BAKUR- SOONER THAN LATER- SELF RELEASED- Nice set of melodic pop songs by this dude, who I’d never heard of but he’s no youngster, that’s for sure. Nothing too rockin’ here, just an attention to songcraft. Not great but definitely solid and worth a listen.

COKE WEED- BACK TO SOFT- SELF RELEASED- I kept reading Galaxie 500 comparisons and I don’t really hear that but I also heard some Paisley Undergrounds nods to and that I do hear and some Hope Sandoval in Nina Donghia’s vocals. Some JAMC, too. “Stony and hypnotics? Yeah, that’ s accurate. www.cokeweed.com

THE COLORPLATES- AGONY AND ECSTASY- GREEN MONKEY RECORDS- Subtitled “Post-punk art rock, Seattle, 1979-1982” so there you go. The Green Monkey label has been unearthing some old Pac NW artifacts like this. This goes from straight-ahead rawk (opening title track) to stuff more like no-wave (“Call on Me #1”) and everything in between. 21 songs….interesting. www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

DELBERT & GLEN- BLIND, CRIPPLED & CRAZY- NEW WEST RECORDS- This is Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark , two long , tall Texans and apparently they last made a record 30 years ago (both have been in the biz a loooong time). This is a rollicking, bluesy set of tunes with plenty of piano (heart and soul, too). Not my favorite genre of music but if I’m gonna hear it , I do wanna hear it from the best. www.newwestrecords.com

THE EXPLOITED- EXPLOITED BARMY ARMY: THE COLLECTION- PRESS PLAY/ CHERRY RED- 20 song collection by Scotland’s most notorious punks. The Exploited, and their infamous vocalist Wattie, loved to be hated. This 3-chord , buzzsaw punk never goes out of style and songs like “Punk’s Not Dead,”, “Dead Cities” and “Dogs of War” still pummel today. www.cherryred.co.uk

DUQUETTE JOHNSON- RABBIT RUNS A DESTINY- COMMUNICATING VESSELS- Thought I recognized the name then realized that this is the former bassist for Alabama heroes Verbena. They got off that music merry go round quite a while ago and Johnson has instead taken 3 years to record this at times haunting debut that’s sort of noir folk. Glad he stepped out and stepped up. www.communiatingvessels.net

SVAVAR KNUTUR- OLDUSLOO- DIMMA- The title means “Way of waves’ and this is the third solo record by this Icelandic songwriter. Initially I was reminded me of a (kind of) perky Sweden , Jens Lekman. The guy is a terrific songwriter and if you go to his webpage you’ll see a pic of him feeding a baby goat! Nice guy, good songs (and my pick to click is (“Baby , would you marry me?”). www.svavarknutur.com www.dimma.is

LEE KOCH- WHOLE HEART- SELF RELEASED- Apparently this guy was on a season of THE VOICE (a show I’ve never seen) but didn’t make it (thank god). The guy is a huge Bob Dylan fan ansd while a lot of WHOLE HEART is a bit on the lite side his heart seems to be in the right place. www.leekochmusic.com

MICHAEL & THE LONESOME PLAYBOYS- BOTTLE CAP SKY-BLACKWATER RECORDS- You know, I know Michael and his crew are mainstays on the LA roots scene and while I liked his previous record, this one didn’t quite catch me. I don’t think the hooks/songwriting were there (apparently most of these songs were written form the hospital where main guy Michael Ubaldini was suffering from endocarditis). Yup, this one didn’t grab me,. www.rocknrollpoet.com

MIDNIGHT FACES- FORNICATION- SELF RELEASED- BROKEN FACTORY RECORDS- Every once in a while I’ll be psyched to listen to a cd because of something I’ve read then I go to play it and the cid is …..broken in half. That is what happened here. Damn. Here’s a review of it: http://thesoundofconfusionblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/midnight-faces-fornication.html

TIM NOYES- IN HANDS- SELF RELEASED- Low -key pop music from the main man behind New England band Aunt Martha (I’ve never heard of them either). He has a pleasant voice and there’s melody in there……didn’t love it but it wasn’t bad. www.timnoyesmusic.com

OCTOBER GOLD- BRIDGE OF THE SUN- SELF RELEASED- October Gold is the Montreal duo of Kit and Aliza both a musical and romantic couple. They get a host of friends to play on this (cello, flute, mandolin, piano, etc. etc.). This is folky roots music with touches of classical (no surprise with all of those instruments) and at times reminding me a bit of Low. Explore. www.octobergold.com

THE OF- OH , IT’S THE OF- GREEN MONKEY RECORDS- A weird amalgam of new wave, Zappa, experimental and new wave that I absolutely hated. This couldn’t come out of the cd player fast enough. www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

RARE MONK- SLEEP/ ATTACK- Hard-to-categorize Portland band who mix some sweet pop with Pixies-ish sour and even some hazy electronics , too. Not really my thing but hey, I give the band props for following their own path. www.raremonk.com

CLAUDIA RUSSELL- ALL OUR LUCK IS CHANGING- RADIO RHYTHM RECORDS- Terrific batch of songs by this bay Area songwriter on her 4th record. It’ has a world-weary feel and reminded me a bit of Iris Dement’s stuff (even her vocals, a little bit). The playful title track was my pick to click. www.claudiarussell.com

SLIM LORIS- FUTURE ECHOES ANSD PAST REPLAYS- SELF RELEASED- Not a person but a band and one from Sweden, at that . One review called these guys “Mumford and Sons with balls” (I laughed and honestly, I have never heard Mumford and Sons). This is pleasant, folky pop with some touches of Americana tossed in. Main songwriter Mattias Cedarstam seems like he might be a star if he lived somewhere else. Well done. www.slimloris.com

STAR & DAGGER- TOMORROWLAND BLUES- 333- All-female hard rock/metal band from New Orleans. Not my thing but the bassist Sean Yseult, did used to be in the original White Zombie. So there’s that.

CHANCE WIESNER- TAKIN’ A CHANCE ON LOVE- TEN DOLLAR RECORDING CO. – Quirky, freaky folky pop from this dude I’ve never hear of. I was expecting something unbearable but this guy is a unique soul with a penchant for pop hooks. I thought this was destined for the sell pile but I’m keeping it. www.facebook.com/chancewiesnermusic

V/A- KORDA KOMPILATION 1- KORDA RECORDS- I hadn’t heard of this label until recently but once I saw that The Ocean Blue and Jim Ruiz Set were on it I had to check ‘em out. This is only 8 songs and aside from the two mentioned above also includes cuts by The Starfolk, Typsy Panthre , as each band has 2 songs. Swingin’, sophisticated pop from their door to yours. www.kordarecords.com

 

JULY 2013

A SECRET POLICEMAN’S BALL- TEENAGE CRIMEWAVE- MVD AUDIO- This is an odd mix of 90’s alterna rock, goth, and some weird dips into ambient territory. Not my things at all but they do have some funny song titles (“A Flock of Beagles”, “Stairway to Upstairs”, etc.). www.mvdaudio.com

BLUE CHEER- ROCKS EUROPE- RAINMAN RECORDS- This 2-cd set is 60’s rock band Blue Cheer (original members Dickie Peterson and Paul Whaley are still here) taped in Germany in 2008. Time or age doesn’t seem to have affected them at all as this still rocks to high heaven. They of course do “Parchman farm” and “Summertime Blues” (plus more). Disc 2 include 2 new studio cuts. Heavy. www.rainmanrecords.com

THE BOTTLE KIDS- SUCH A THRILL- KOOL KAT MUSIK- Not a band, but the work of one guy, Eric Blakely. This is chugging power pop in the vein of Paul Collins Beat. I wasn’t blown away by the songwriting but I did love a few tunes, namely “Yes You Can” , the wiry title track and the poppin’ “Revisit the past (who says you can’t).” www.koolkatmusik.com

MARSHALL CHAPMAN- BLAZE OF GLORY- TALLGIRL- At 64 years old (and 13 records) I’m embarrassed to say I have never heard of Marshall Chapman (a woman). It’s a rootsy, bluesy stomp and she gets help from Todd Snider and Will Kimborough and it’s a strong batch of songs. www.tallgirl.com

MATTHEW EDWARDS AND THE UNFORTUNATES- THE FATES- LAST TAPE RECORDINGS- Edwards was the former leader of San franc band The Music Lovers (Le Grand Magistery) but has a new combo that just as swoony, melody oriented and eclectic. It’s baroque pop (think The Zombies) with some terrific songs. Superb production job by Eric Drew Feldman (The Pixies, etc.). Pop fans of all shapes and sizes take note! www.lasttaperecordings.com

THE GREAT DISMAL SWAMIS- S/T- RZO RECORDS- Quartet from Richmond, VA who crank up the noise on this debut cd. 12 songs go by in blur with some supreme fuzzed-out guitar work and a general attitude of snottiness. If Ken at Dirtnap Records is looking for a new ban to sign he could do a lot worse than this bunch. www.thegreatdisnamswamis.bandcamp.com

THE HOWLIN’ BROTHERS- HOWL- READYMADE RECORDS- 3 guys, beards, porkpie hats, banjos, and yes, this is bluegrassy, folky blues. On record this stuff doesn’t do a lot for me but live I’ll bet they bring the roof down. Plus one of the vocalist bugged me (the one who sang lead on “Hermitage Hotstep” but I dug the other one). www.howlinbrothers.com

JAVELIN- HI BEAMS- LUAKA BOP- Two gent (cousins actually) who make goofy, catchy electronic pop music that’s hard not to like. It’s not really my bag but I do understand why/how it would catch on. It’s catchy, fun and has some funk to it. Better n’ Passion Pit. www.luakabop.com

JEREMY - LOVE EXPLOSION- JAM RECORDINGS- The prolific Jeremy Morris is back at tit, though this one is from 2012, with 12 more pop songs in his patented style that mixes the melody of the Beatles (his favorites) and the jangliness of The Byrds (check out “Save Me From Myself”). Don’t worry if you missed this one, he has another one coming around the corner (he always does). www.jamrecordings.com

JEREMY- FROM THE DUST TO THE STARS- JAM RECORDINGS- Another one from Jeremy (see above) this 7-song on is one of his prog/psych releases. Opening cut “The Great Escape” is nearly 16 minutes long (as is the last cut and everything in between tops the 7 minute mark). I prefer his jangly pop stuff but you’ve gotta give the guy props for his talent. www.jamrecordings.com

KINGS DESTROY - A TIME OF HUNTING- WAR CRIME RECORDINGS- Heavy doom metal bunch form NYC, guitarist Carl Porcaro used to be in Electric Frankenstein (and Killing Time). If Black Sabbath reforms and is looking for an opening act, well, I’ve got one for you. www.kingsdestroy.com

TIM LEE 3- DEVIL’S ROPE- COOL DOG SOUND- I’m really glad this ex-Windbreaker Tim Lee is still putting it out there (w./ his wife, Susan Bauer Lee and drummer Chris Bratta). The guy pretty much defines what the spirit of rock n’ roll is. This was recorded at three different studios but sounds strong and cohesive. The think title track is my favorite here. www.timleethree.com

MARA DONIS- ALTERED TUNINGS- ALTONE RECORDS- These guys have a total 90’s alternative sound which was a sound I tried to stay far away from. At times Pearl Jam-ish. Not mah thang. www.altonerecords.com

SPACE WAVES- YOU CAN RIDE A BEAM OF LIGHT LIKE A MUSICAL STRUM- MINDWAVE- Portland trio (two thirds of which is husband/wife team of Kelly and Sarah Bourland). Who crank out trippy odes to both Hawkwind and Spacemen 3 (maybe Suicide, too). A few of the songs drone on bit too much for me but most of this rides the magic carpet all the way to the clouds and back (in the best way possible). www.facebook.com/spacewaves

SUSAN SURFTONE- TOO FAR- ACME BROTHERS RECORDS- When I think surf music I think either the masters (ie: The Ventures, The Sandals, etc) or the 90’s garage surf band (Phantom Surfers, Satan’s Pilgrims,etc.) and this is , well, neither but closer to the former. It wasn’t bad but I can’t say it got me revved up in any way or that I’d wanna reach for it again. www.susansurftone.com

TEA LEAF GREEN- IN THE WAKE- GREENHOUSE RECORDS- San Fran band known primarily in jam band circles which would have immediately put me off but I listened and most of this is good. “Penny Saved” had some nice soul melody going while “Someday’ was straight rawk. I liked more of it than I expected. www.tealeafgreen.com

TREETOP FLYERS- THE MOUNTAIN MOVES- PARTISAN- You might think these 5 hail from laurel Canyon but you’d be wrong. This band hails from the UK but nail that folky Americana sound. Everything from CSN to America (opener “Things Will Change” is pure Beckley). The songwriting lags in some part but most of this is solid. www.partisanrecords.com

YOUTH LAGOON- WONDROUS BUGHOUSE- FAT POSSUM- I enjoyed Trevor Powers 2011 debut, THE YEAR OF HIBERNATION but this sophomore effort, not so much, thought it is growing on me. “Mute” and several others would be great if they were like half the length (most of these songs are 5 minutes plus). It’s some hazey fantazey pop with forays into weird experimental territory (w/ the emphasis on mental). Enter at your own risk. www.fatpossum.com

VARIOUS ARTISTS- THE MUSIC OF NASHVILLE: ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK (SEASON 1/ VOLUME 2)- ABC STUDIOS/BIG MACHINE RECORDS - A soundtrack to the 2nd season of the hit ABC show (I’ve never seen it) but the actors in the show, like Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere and Sam Palladio all sing their own songs (among others) and it’s,……gulp, really good. Especially Hayden’s take on Patty Griffin’s “We Are Water’ and Sam’s turn at “Gun for a Mouth (written by David Poe). Ok, will give the show a whirl. www.bigmachinerecords.com

 

JUNE 2013

THE BAND PERRY- PIONEER- REPUBLIC NASHVILLE- Country pop (or pop country) from a trio of siblings (vocalist Kimberly Perry and her two younger bros on bass/drums). Not exactly sure how/why this ended up in my po box but it’s not really bad. Not totally my things but I do like Kimberly’s expressive vocals. www.republicnashville.com

RANDALL BRAMBLETT- THE BRIGHT SPOTS- NEW WEST- 9th record from longtime blues/r & b musician Bramblett. He apparently raised $30,000 from a Kickstarter campaign to fund the record. This genre of music isn’t my favorite but Bramblett has really crafted a very listenable record here, at times beautiful and moving and other times raving up. www.newwestrecords.com

BRIDGES AND POWERLINES- BETTER- DAISY PISTOL- I like this! I put it in at work and my work product instantly got better (ok, actually I stopped working while it was on). The band is four dudes based in BKNY and they’ve got a love for Archers of Loaf, with the songs to back it up. The six song titles are all parts of Brooklyn (ie: “Park Slope,” “”Williamsburg” etc.). Go find this, now. www.daisypistol.com

BRIGHTON, MA- OH LOST- FAST PLASTIC RECORDS- Yes, yes, the band is called Brighton MA but they are based in Chicago. I didn’t realize until now, reading the press sheet that two o the guys used to be on one of my favorite Chicago bands, the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. I enjoyed their previous record (2008’s AMATEUR LOVERS) and OH LOST is even better. They specialize in emotional, at time acoustic pop songs that are hard to define but intriguing to listen to (I’ve read people compare them to both Bob Dylan and the Flaming Lips but I don’t hear either of them in their music). They’ve got the tunes. www.brightonma.net

THE COMPUTERS- LOVE TRIANGLES, HATE SQUARES- ONE LITTLE INDIAN- Ok, so this band has two previous records that I’d never heard but from what I’ve read it sounds like those records were more of the punk/hardcore variety. I would not have been able to tell from listening to LOVE TRIANGLES, HATE SQUARES. Don’t get me wrong, this has an energetic, aggressive sound but this is more soulful and swings s bit more than more h/c records I’ve heard (and I love old school h/c) as the band claims influence from both Small Faces and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. The songs come at you fast n furious and honestly, they are really hard not to like. www.indiean.co.uk

LINDA DRAPER- EDGEWISE- SELF RELEASED- Another fine, fine record from this NYC folkie who has been around over a decade and her last 4 or 5 records have come out on the Planting Seeds label. On this record she grabs inspiration from both Nick Drake and Johnny Cash, among other (and covers The Beatles, too). Her voice has never sounded better and EDGEWISE is another lovely record. www.lindadraper.net

ELECTRIC BIRD NOISE- DESERT JELLY- SILBER RECORDS- The work of one Brian Lea Mackenzie (with Silber head honcho Brian John Mitchell on vocals) who has been at it for over a decade. An interesting clashing of Brian Eno and New Order (hell, there’s even a song called “Peter Hook”). He doesn’t go for the obvious and in listening you may even learn a thing or two. www.silbermedia.com

FATHER PRESIDENT- FAKE IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT- LIGHT RAIL RECORDS- San Francisco trio who proudly wear their influences on their sleeves (in this the case pavement and The Pixies). They crank out 12 songs here with a fair amount of hooks and obviously like the sound of guitar and if you asked ‘em to play all of SURFER ROSA form start to finish I bet they’d do it. www.facebook.com/fatherpresident

GREG FRIEDMAN- CAN’T TALK NOW- POPULUXE RECORDS- San Diego via Baltimore dude who apparently on his debut got compared to folk types like Elliot Smith and Nick Drake and while some of CAN’T TALK NOW reminds me of that (ie: “Hear This Sound”) most of it more They Might Be Giants or even Ben Folds. My fave here is “Best I Can Do.” www.gregfriedmanmusic.com

GRAHAM REPULSKI- COPART- BIG SCHOOL RECORDS- Release #9 from this NJ bunch who just keep releasing music (good music at that). They are able to recreate the GBV of PROPELLER/VAMPIRE ON TITUS. It’d a cd but they have a side a and side b. Nice. www.bigschoolrecords.com

HERO & LEANDER- TUMBLE- TAPETE- Ebullient pop music, the kind that I should love but I don’t. I do LIKE it though. They hail from Essex (UK) and reminded me a bit of Squeeze. My pick to click here is the oncoming sugar rush of “Collider” but they’ve got a handful of chewy pop nuggets here. www.tapeterecords.com

DILLON HODGES- RUMSPRINGA- SELF RELEASED- Uber-talented Americana dude Dillon (who is now based in Nashville ) is a flat-picker. What does that mean? Not 100% sure but I guess it is his style of playing. And in addition to the geetar, and banjo he also plays a mandocello. Dude can write excellent songs, too. I’m impressed. www.dillonhodges.com

HUMAN EYE- 4: INTO THE UNKNOWN- GONER- Detroit nutjobs whose last record on Sacred Bones showed off a their weirdo space rock roots. 4:INTO THE UNKNOWN sounds like 9 different versions of “TV Eye.” Can’t say I loved it but they, they have a song on here called “Alligator Dance’ and that counts for something. www.goner-records.com

INFECTIOUS GARAGE DISEASE- S.T- NEGATIVE REACTION RECORDS/ MVD- Late 80’s metal-tinged hardcore from Northern California (sac). At 43 songs they give (gave) DRI a run for their money. I couldn’t deal. www.negativereactionrecords.com

LORNA- HEART OF WIRE- WORDS ON MUSIC- Another gorgeous released from this Nottingham, UK bunch led by husband/wife of Mark and Sharon Rolfe. This is their 5th release overall and 4th for the Words on Music label (a label which believes in quality over quantity…ie: they don’t release a ton of records but the ones they do are usually terrific). This is slowly building pop music, at times chiming like Camera Obscura and other times moodier, like American Analog Set. Mostly fragile and beautiful. www.words-on-music.com

GRAHAM MACRAE- DUNDREARIES- A MAN A PLAN A CANAL- Sophomore effort form LA singer/songwriter MacRae. He gets help in production and play from former Mighty Lemon Drops dude David Newton (who seems to be a lot of places these days….a good thing). Some of DUNDREARIES is singer/songwriter-y while other times it’s more pushing pop. He seems to have a knack for both and is coming straight from the heart. www.amanaplanacanal.com

MANDATE HEAVEN- MARK MUSIC- KOALA SYNDICATE- Long-running Syracuse, NY band led by the elusive Greg Pier. I believe this is record #11 (I never heard the other 10) but I want to. MARK MUSIC is chock full of lazy, hazy, gauzy guitar explorations that go places you could only dream of (like Niagara Falls). At times Dino Jr.-ish. www.mandateofheaven.bandcamp.com

LOUIS MATTEO- PATCHWORK PATTERN- NEON CASTLE RECORDS- Colorful patchwork record cover (as title suggest) and wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this NYC via Ohio dude (Berklee School of Music grad too, woo woo). Matteo plays almost everything on here and I hear some nice, chiming hooks shine through. The songwriting isn’t 100% there but this isn’t bad. Good job. www.louismatteo.com

MEMORYY- ELECTRIC CITY- SELF RELEASED- Former Kitten Berry Crunch guy Shaun Hettinger bails from LA, heads to NYC (and has a Wham! Obsession) and crafts a debut under the name Memoryy. This is an interesting mix o’ synth pop and funk (with some ambient tossed in). “Nostalgia” is my fave here but this one is strangely intoxicating. www.memoryymusic.com

ARICA ROSE & THE …’S- LUCKY- POPROCK RECORDS- Dreamy, torchy folk pop with a hint of what makes Calexico so special on these 6 songs. I’d never heard of Ms. Rose before but man she has an exquisite voice and while all five songs are quite special, “Microscope” is my pick to click here. Lovely. www.arricarose.com

STRATOCRUISER- SITTING PRETTY AT THE END OF THE WORLD- ZIP- Chapel Hill, NC bunch who have been at it for a decade, bashing out their own brand of chunky power pop. This was released with heavy heart as the band lost drummer Matt Brown to an undiagnosed illness. Meaty, beaty big and bouncy. www.ziprecords.com

TALLAHASSEE- OLD WAYS- SELF RELEASED- Boston via Providence band who’ve released a few other records prior to this and have made a mark for themselves with a real nice, laid-back batch of songs. Opening cut “Old Brown Shoes” is an excellent tune (and the single off the record) while a few others make their mark as well. www.tallahasseeband.com

WHOA BEAR- S/T -SELF RELEASED- Apparently these dudes (Beau and Adam) were in some folky Americana and wanted to bust out. They felt like that style of music was putting a constraint on their energy and out came WhoaBear. Here they mix rock, rap and some electronica. Most of this wasn’t my bag but I did like the jump “Rock Em’ Up!” and a few others. www.whoabearmusic.com

LUKE WINSLOW-KING- THE COMING TIDE (FEATURING ESTHER ROSE) - BLOODSHOT- Luke had studied music everywhere from Michigan to Prague and everywhere in between. This is an interesting mix of blues, country, jazz, ragtime and even a touch of Hawaiian. He is, of course joined by honey-voiced Esther on most (all?) songs and while not completely my bag, THE COMING TIDE is an interesting stew of songs. www.bloodshotrecords.com

V/A- MADE IN ICELAND VI- IME (ICELAND MUSIC EXPORT) Yup, the 6th installment (don’t worry, I never heard the first 5 either) of the best music Iceland has to offer. 19 tracks from a bunch of bands who names I can’t pronounce. Cuts by Dikta, Sin Fang, Nora, Tilbury, Steed Lord and plenty more.

SHORT REVIEWS BY MARY LEARY!

I CAN LICK ANY SONOFABITH IN THE HOUSE- MAYBERRY- (SAD CROW)- Michael Dean Damron’s band makes solid, classic rock that sounds a lot like Springsteen to me – basically, a good thing. I have a feeling that folks in his current hometown – Portland, Oregon – are wise to ICLASITH’s shows, which are probably pretty rousing. They’ll have to wait a month or so for another show - Damron’s on tour as a solo through June21.www.icanlickyanysob.com MARY LEARY

RUTH MOODY- THESE WILDER THINGS- (RED HOUSE)- Moody’s dulcet vocals are given a restrained backdrop on this predominantly quiet, introspective set. Also known for her work with the Wailin’ Jennys, Moody’s accompanied by bluegrass and roots-based players, as well as Mark Knopfler. That she manages to subdue Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” will or won’t be a selling point, depending on your orientation.www.redhouserecords.com MARY LEARY

STILL CORNERS – STRANGE PLEASURES- (SUB POP)- Pretty much anyone who isn’t heavily medicated – or Forrest Gump – would say that life isn’t really a box of chocolates. But with Strange Pleasures, Still Corners has made an album functioning as the audio equivalent. And while these tracks may not be as strange as the title might lead one to believe, “cinematic chocolates” applies, off and on, with Tessa Murray’s alluring voice riding the waves; big or small. www.subpop.com MARY LEARY

 

MAY 2013

THE AARDVARKS- SINKER, LINE & HOOK: THE ANTHOLOGY 1987-‘99- CHERRY RED- Four Brit chaps who dressed straight out of the 60’s but existed in the late 80’s and 90’s. Their sound? You guessed it, 60’s mod-garage pop with plenty of heart and passion (sense of humor, too). This comp cherry picks 25 of their best cuts and plenty of informative liners in the booklet. www.cherryred.co.uk

STEVE ADAMYK BAND- THIRD- DIRTNAP RECORDS- Third record (duh) but the 2nd for Dirtnap from this Vancouver, BC band led by, yup, Steve Adamyk. Not a whole lot different than their previous which is to say breakneck tempos with (usually) strong hooks. You like The Ramones? If yes then you’ll most likely dig this. www.dirtnaprecs.com

DAVE ARMO- POETS ON THE WALL- SELF RELEASED- 3rd record by So. Cal storyteller folkie who moonlights at an attorney. The spare folkie stuff I wasn’t too into but when he cranks it up a bit (as on the terrific “It Has Been So Cold in California”) it works better , at least for me. www.davearmo.com

THE BAD LOVERS- ACTIN’ STRANGE- Chunky garage rock from Austin, TX with an emphasis on chunky. You like creamy or chunky? Jif or Skippy? Ritz or Saltines? Goodnight. thebadlovers.bandcamp.com

THE BEAUMONTS- WHERE DO YOU WANT IT?- SAUSTEX- Lubbock, Tx bunch who all wear ten gallon hats and have ZZ Top beards. They seem to enjoy a good time too with songs like “I Like Drinkin’” “I Like Women,” “I Deserve a Drink” and my fave, “Toby Keith (is the ugliest woman that I have ever seen.)” It’s cowpunk from cowpokes and will your next party-starter. www.saustex.com

SANDERS BOHKLE- GHOST BOY- SELF RELEASED- Layered , swirling pop music, that’s heavy ion the emotion and not totally unlike Sufjan Stevens but even more haunting. “Lights Explode” is my pick to click here and while some of it is a bit too much for me (ie: “The Loved Ones” most of GHOST BOY is pretty strong. www.sandersbohlke.com

BROADHEDS- S/T- DANGERBIRD RECORDS- This band is led by former Eulogies leader Peter Walker and he picked up a bassist who has played with Beck, NIN & M83 , the drummer from Earlimart and the sax player form Fitz & the Tantrums . Sorta The Ramones meets James Chance (it’s the sax) and if these guys existed in NYC circa ’77 they’da bene packing ‘em in a CB’s. www.dangerbirdrecords.com

CAMERA- THE PANIC AND THE PERMANENCE- SELF RELEASED- Fairly interesting post-punk (think Joy Division) but the singer lost me. www.cameraband.com

COBALT CRANES- HEAD IN THE CLOUDS- ANTICC RECORDS- Tim and Kate met, listened to some punk n’ garage records together then began making music. In that order, I think. HEAD IN THE CLOUDS is a nice mix of shoegaze, shitgaze, nu gaze and any other kind of gaze you can think of. I like the songs, “Salvation” is doing it for me right now. Now I wanna see ‘em live. Like, right now. www.cobaltcranes.com

THE COPPER GAMINS- LOS NINOS DE COBRE- SAUSTEX- Two dudes raised in the wilds of Mexico but who devoured a healthy diet of American blues music and they come out of the gate a crashin’. 17 songs nudge up against one another, slug it out and then make up. Calling ‘em Mexico’s Black Keys might be a bit obvious but fairly accurate. www.saustex.com

CHRISTINA COURTIN- VARSITY- HUNDRED POCKETS RECORDS- Julliard grad who plays violin but offers more bouncy pop on here sophomore disc. Think early Juliana Hatfield but the difference is I’m having a hard time getting past Courtin’s vocals. She has a good melodic sensibility and can write the tunes but yeah, those vocals. … www.hundredpocketsrecords.com

CHURCHWOOD- 2- SAUSTEX- More rock from the Lone Star state with former guys from 80’s bands Ballad Shambles/Hand of Glory adding a bit o’ twang to the proceedings with enough wired n’ weird moments to appease even the most friend Texan (or American). Deep fried. www.saustex.com

COMO ASESINARA FELIPES- COMENZARA DE NUEVO-KOOLARROW RECORDS- Yo la tengo.

CY DUNE- NO RECOGNIZE- FAMILY TREE RECORDS- Cy Dune is the nom de plume of Seth Olinsky from Akron/Family. It’s wigged-out electric gunk from a former freak folker. 6 songs in 15 minutes. Is it out there? You bet your sweet ass it is. www.familytreerecs.com

THE DEER TRACKS- THE ARCHER TROLOGY PART 3- TCG- I see enough blonde hair in the photo that they look like the lighter half of Abba and this duo IS Swedish). Ok, so I missed parts 1 and 2 but I’m assuming they were like this….plunky, swoony, electronic pop dance music. Kinda. Got it?

DESIGN- ONE SUNNY DAY: SINGLES AND RARITIES 1968-1978- RPM/CHERRY RED- Coming from the same sunny school that educated folks like The Free Design and The Cowsills comes this British 6-piece who may even be MORE ebullient than their pop brethren (hard to believe but true). As the title indicates this 20-song comp catches all of their singles and rare bits on one handy disc and will brighten the most dreary of days (Seattle and Portland folks take note). www.cherryred.co.uk

DIRTY FENCES- TOO HIGH TO KROSS- VOLCOM- Brooklyn via Boston trio going straight back to NYC in the 70’s when guitarists like Ramone and Thunders were all the rage (even though those two probably hated each other). It’s meaty and thick….bring the extra sharp steak knife. www.volcom.com

EKSI EKSO- ARCHFIEND- SELF RELEASED- Boston “art-pop” trio on record #3 (it’s their first one produced by Scott Solter) with an homage to serial killer HH Holmes (never heard of him either) . The tunes are ok….cinematic, dramatic, unique. Not my chosen genre but if you love The National then you will dig. www.eksiekso.com

EX-CULT- S/T- GONER RECORDS- This Memphis bunch were formerly known as Sex Cult but that name was already taken (and it sounds as if this band got a cease and desist letter to they took the S away and became Ex-Cult (better name anyway). 13 songs shock shave and electrocute and you’ll still want more. Produced by Ty Segall. www.goner-records.com

MARGARET GLASPY- IF & WHEN- STORY SOUND RECORDS- California bred/NYC base singer-songwriter who offers up 5 songs here of spare folk (her on guitar/vocal and a friend on harmonium). Her voice take some getting’ used to be she is unique and has her own style. Like a female Antony, perhaps? www.mglaspy.com

GRAY YOUNG- BONFIRE- ONWALKS MUSIC- I first read it as Gary Young, the old Pavement drummer. Nope this band is a trio from Raleigh, NC create shimmer guitar anthems for the 00’s set. Yes, I DID just yes the word shimmering. You’re welcome. www.facebook.com/grayyoungmusic

WAYNE HANCOCK- RIDE- BLOODSHOT RECORDS- W.H. is one of those guys who sounds like he’s been around forever but I’m actually a year older than him (gulp). On record #8 (#5 for Bloodshot) and RIDE is a nice mix of straight country, gruff blues, honky tonk, rockabilly and the like. Not my favorite songwriter workin’ this genre(s) but solid nonetheless. www.bloodshotrecords.com

HOME BY HOVERCRAFT- ARE WE CHAMELEONS?- SELF RELEASED- Interesting bunch of Dallas, TX who crank out some well-done orchestrated pop with a few unique left turns. Vocalist Seth Magill reminds me a bit of the guy from The National (Magill’s wife and sister are both in the band, too). This is the band’s debut but they seem way more seasoned. www.homebyhovercraft.com

IL SONGO DEL MARINAIO- LA BUSTA GIALLA- CLENCHED WRENCH- Loose, prog rock from a trio that includes Minutemen/firehose dude Mike Watt and two Italian cats. Not a lot on here interested me but then again I’m no musician as if I was, I’d probably appreciate it more. www.clenchedwrench.com

JAMAICAN QUEENS- WORM FOOD- NOTOWN- A little bit of everything here from ` this Detroit duo who mine the cellars of pop, techno, electronic, dub and the like and come up with an intriguing winner. Not necessarily my chosen genre but well done. “Kids Get Away’ seems to be thee song to play/dance to/wish dishes to. www.jamaicanqueens.com

JIM OF SEATTLE- WE ARE ALL FAMOUS- GREEN MONKEY RECORDS- No last names here…..this guy has apparently making music for 30 years but this I his first release. It’s all over the map but most of it is melodic in an oddball , off-kilter kinda way. I started out hating it then I ended up really liking it by midway through. He even covers a Rancid song (“Black Lung”). Unique and worth checking out. www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

KAZYAK- SEE THE FOREST, SEE THE TREES- SELF RELEASED- 6 songs of organic, folky stuff by this Minnesota bunch. To be real general I would compare them bit to My Morning Jacket . Not my favorite kind of stuff in the world but these guys have talent and are not afraid to take chances. www.kazyak.com

STEPHEN LAWRENSON- OBSCURIOUSITY- KOOL KAT MUSIK- More sweet , sweet pop tunes from this guy I’d never heard of but hey, it’s on Kool Kat Musik which is a mark of quality, for sure. “Words to Say” is the Beatle-esque tune (ok, there are a few of those) and “Small White House’ is Beach Boys-y tune but my fave here is the title track. Stephen played everything here himself too. Good stuff. www.koolkatmusik.com

RICH MCCULLEY- THE GRAND DESIGN- SELF RELEASED- More pop gold from So. Cal dude Rich McCulley who’s been writing/recording music for quite some time. This is his 6th record and his music fits right in that soft spot between power pop and roots rock. He has a real way with a hook and tunes like “The Most Beautiful Thing” and “Troubles behind” are among his best. Elvis Costello fans take not. www.richmcculley.com

MOXI- IN MY DREAMS- CAT BEACH MUSIC- Lush, hazy, gauzy pop from a woman who at times reminds me of Cat Power, Feist and a touch of Kate Bush, too. Certainly listenable and then some. www.moxilovesyou.com

NEW AMERICAN FARMERS- BRAND NEW DAY- BIG BARNCAT RECORDS- This cd had a crack in it and thus, would not play. Kinda bummed as it looked like ti might be some breezy Americana but now I will never know. www.newamericanfarmers.org

NEW MEXICO- MALPAIS- SELF RELEASED- San Diego bunch who later between jangly indie rock and moody, post rock (whatever that is). Leader Robert Kent’s lyrics certainly aren’t bad , maudlin poetry but on the other hand, I have no ideas what he’s singing about. Do you? www.newmexicoband/bandcamp.com

NORWEGIAN ARMS- WOLF LIKE A STRAY DOG- BIG SCHOOL RECORDS- Two dudes and a few homemade instruments, N.A. is the duo of Brendan Mulvihill (on vocals/mandolin) and Eric Slick on percussion (he’s also in Dr. Dog). You can maybe call them a less-redneck Doo Rag (minus the vacuum cleaner). Nice, low-key folky tunes…..someone called ‘em “elf rock” and I like that description the best. Best listened to while eating Lucky Charms, got it? www.bigschoolrecords.com

ROBIN O’BRIEN- DIVE INTO THE END OF THE WORLD- LUXOTONE- Dark, moody folk rock that was not my bag AT ALL. I did not like this (but it is worth noting that Kevin Salem played on it). www.luxotone.com

PICTURE DAY- EVERY DAY IS- SELF RELEASED- St. Louie quartet who play pretty basic rock/pop. I hear elements of Guided by Voices in a few tunes (especially “Immaterial”) but otherwise nothing great here. It is solid tho’….maybe they will make a jump to greatness ala Nada Surf. Could happen. www.facebook.com/pictureday

PISSED JEANS- HONEYS- SUB POP- Aggro , noisy, grunting Pennsylvania quartet who return with their 4th record (3rd for Sub Pop) with heavy, bludgeoning guitars and vocalist Matt Korvette who sounds even MORE constipated on this record. Everyman punk for EVERY SINGLE MAN (and you gotta see ‘em live you just gotta) .www.subpop.com

THE SHILOHS- SO WILD- LIGHT ORGAN RECORDS- Four dudes (ok, so one’s not a dude) doin’ 60’s pop and very well I might add. Reminds me a bit of The Apples in Stereo (for a current comparison) and The Kinks (for a not so recent one). They know how to write songs too which is, an added bonus.

SKIGGY RAPS- SATELLITES- BEATS BROKE- Dutch-born rapper that I wanted to hate because, well, he’s Dutch-born rapper with a goofy name but honestly, the songs are too damn catchy to hate. One song after another Skiggy delivers. This is good, for reals. www.beatsbroke.com

SMOKE FAIRIES- BLOOD SPEAKS- YEAR SEVEN RECORDS- Female duo from the UK who have garnered some hype both here and across the pond but this I the first I’ve heard them. This record was issued in the UK last year and is finally seeing the light of day domestically. Wispy, bluesy folk music that could have been record in 1967. Both jack White and Richard Hawley are fans, you should be too. www.smokefairies.com

THE SPELL- HA HA, VWAH LAW- SELF RELEASED- Long Beach, CA bunch on their debut record who deliver a unique sound where shards of electro clash with rock (I hear strings too). They didn’t skimp on the songwriting either as cuts like “Where Are We Going?” and “”One in a Million” slip into a warm groove but with cajones’, too. Well done. www.thespell.bandcamp.com

STRFKR- MIRACLE MILE- POLYVINYL- Portland, Oregon indie-electro act (also known as Starfucker) doing a similar thing to MGMT or Cut Copy, though not as good as either….but not bad either. Both “Sazed” and “Leave It All Behind” are dance floor anthems and there are prob a few more on MIRACLE MILE. Not my chosen genre but these guys do it well. www.polyvinylrecords.com

SWEET KNIEVEL- COLLAPSIBLE- SELF RELEASED- Athens, GA almost-instrumental jam band led by Jonathan Brill. Some of the keyboard work was cool but that funky , noodly guitar is not my thing at all. I’ll pass. www.sweetknievel.com

TEN FOOT POLCECATS- UNDERTOW- HILLGRASS BLUEBELLY RECORDS- Was hoping for some good old-fashioned rockabilly but this was more harmonica blowin’ blues. They do it well but just not my thing. www.tenfootpolecats.com

CHANDLER TRAVIS THREE-0- THIS IS WHAT BEARS LOOK LIKE UNDERWATER- Hard to categorize pop songs form Incredible Casuals guy Chandler Travis (also in The Catbirds). He covers both NRBQ (I. Casuals were once described as NRBQ-Jr) and The Beatles but otherwise , a bit too esoteric for me. www.chandlertravis.com

T.V. MIKE AND THE SCARECROWES- WEEKS TO DAYS- SELF RELEASED- A few ex-Hoosiers that ended up in California wound up meeting each other and crating some music (along with a Rogue Wave in tow). What came out was 10 loose n’ goosey Americana tunes that have a real loose feel to them but are solid songs too. www.bravescarecrowe.com

UNSUDDENLY- DON’T WASTE THE MYSTERY-SELF RELEASED- 6 songs from the heart and mind of Will James, a guy who was apparently a corporate executive and threw it all away for a career as a musician. Elements of indie rock, post rock and electronica collide in a world of dreams and fragments. Well worth checking out. www.unsuddenly.com

WAX IDOLS- DISCIPLINE + DESIRE- SLUMBERLAND- I dug this Bay Area band’s 2011 NO FUTURE (on the HoZac label) and quite frankly was surprised to see them on Slumberland. Leader Hether Fortune has a real band behind her and the sound has gone from more fuzzy punk to something much darker and more sinister. Opener ‘Stare Back” is pure swirling turmoil (“Formulae”, too) while “Sound of a Void’ adds more melody and a steady beat and the songs waver between these two styles. One of my faves here is the driving “The Scent of Love” with that lovely, shrieking guitar. Only 2 records in and they seem like true trailblazers. www.slumberlandrecords.com

SHANNON WHITWORTH- HIGH TIDE- SELF RELEASED- 3rd record from this South Carolina native Whitworth offers up 10 dreamy/dusty tunes (including a Dire Straits cover). Lotsa beautiful tunes on this one but my fave are the superb title track and the bouncier “You Are in Love.” www.shannonwhitworth.net

YACHT ROCK REVUE- S/T- PLEASE ROCK- 7 dudes from, I’m assuming Athens, GA, are apparently a tribute band to 70’s lite (yacht) rock. Now don’t get me wrong, I do have a soft spot in my heart for soft rock from that decade but this is bit much. They ever cover Toto’s “Africa.” I’m both repulsed and strangely drawn to it, weird huh? www.pleaserock.com

SHORT REVIEWS FROM MS. MARY LEARY!!

JASON BLUM- RADIO DIAL- (BITCHEN RECORDS)- Austin-based chef and singer/songwriter Jason Blum’s new album is all over the place. There’s beautifully textured Indie folk/pop that sort of recalls Jason Mraz and Amos Lee (“Thinkin’ About You”), some kickin’ classic rock (“Love Is a Blind Thing”), some folk rock tracks, and a couple with Latino or Spanish flavor. Sound a bit jarring? It is, in places. But in a downloadin’ world, maybe Blum doesn’t need to think about a more cohesive presentation. I hope he does, anyway, as an entire album of music like the best stuff here is something to anticipate. www.myspace.com/jasonblumMARY LEARY

FLETCHER- OPEN ARMS- SELF RELEASED- Open Arms intriguingly amalgamates several styles and genres; reminding me, at moments, of Oasis, U2, and Flaming Lips. Beats are often kinetic; anchoring odd time signatures. Songs build in ways recalling classic rock, ‘80s synth pop, and ‘90s-and-since emo. The Chicago-based trio seems to be finding its way to a newer, better brand of emo, or just a more melodic post-rock branch, on this moodily impressive debut. www.fletchertheband.com

FOREIGN TALKS- FOREIGN TALKS- EXPUNGED RECORDS- A group of young guys based in Vancouver, Wa., Foreign Talks has made a reasonably pleasant debut. Acoustic (or, sometimes, well-placed electric) guitar’s right up front with the sleepily sexy vocals delivering songs with nothing structurally new, or, for that matter, old (in the sense of well-written standards, classic rock, or kickin’ garage). Still, these kids will probably go far (at least in the world of increasingly shallow, unrefined listeners), based on their mashing of Indie pop, hip hop, singer/songwriter inflections, and contemporary soul pop (I guess that’s what it’s called), with occasional glimpses of a world beat sensibility. www.foreigntalks.comMARY LEARY

LOUIS MATTEO- PATCHWORK PATTERN- (NEON CASTLE)- Matteo leans just enough on shiny-brite production and orchestrated, anthem-ish effects to fall into the somewhat contradictory category (at least these days) of Power Pop for the Masses. There’s no reason we shouldn’t expect to hear Matteo’s plaintive tenor emoting this pleasant passel of songs at the mall (assuming we go to the mall) and on shows such as Gossip Girl and maybe Grimm (assuming that we watch Gossip Girl, and that we watch Grimm, and that it utilizes pop music). www.louismatteo.com MARY LEARY

METAL MOTHER- IONIKA- Taara Tati’s soft vocals float in and through synthetic beats and electronic sounds on Metal Mother’s latest, which Tati has said was influenced by Druid history and folklore. I find it overproduced. pretentious, distancing, and underwhelming. But can imagine a MM track being used on King of Thrones, or maybe a KOT video game. I mean, there’s a market for this sort of thing. www.postprimal.net MARY LEARY

MORNINGBELL- BOA NOITE- Gainesville, Fl. band Morningbell calls its sound “psychedelic rock” – making everything from Strawberry Alarm Clock to Blue Cheer seem suddenly old fashioned (well, maybe not BC – man, that band could rock). To these ears, Morningbell’s more about nervous beats, quavery vocals, creative mixing, and artsy titles, seeming more like descendents of Peter Gabriel or David Byrne than musicians that are likely to cause a head to go bang, although their sound – like it or not – bursts with (not necessarily engaging) creativity. www.morningbellonline.com MARY LEARY

SONOGRAM- HOW WE SAW TOMORROW- SIMULACRA- A new release from one of the most prolific electronica generators operating today; Todd Gautreau (also known for his somewhat more pop-orientated Crushed Stars). Extant genre classifications are a bit too limiting for Gautreau’s skillful sonic composition and production, which at times can lead to the alpha state known to deep meditators - while maintaining creativity and the ability to stimulate. www.simulacrarecords.com MARY LEARY

VANDAVEER- OH, WILLIE, PLEASE- This time around, the “alt folk collective” zeroes in on the macabre – every song’s about death, murder, etc. Which sounds somewhat creepier than it is. Vandaveer’s take on traditional folk/bluegrass is so artfully arranged, meticulously produced, and smoothly delivered (albeit with gritty, hick-style vocals), you have to listen carefully for the gothic shadows. Creepy or not, this is perfect accompaniment for the Femmes’ Hallowed Ground, as well as some of the tracks on Ralph Records’ seminal alt. folk collection, Potatoes. www.vandaveer.net MARY LEARY

 

APRIL 2013

AAIIEE- SE YOU IN SEATTLE- VINYL MANOR RECORDINGS- Seattle bunch who, if I’m to believe the press released have been around in some form or another since….1981?! Wow, that a long time and co-founders Jeff Larson and Johnny Vinyl are still in the driver’s seat and this 13 song record is a concept record about the 1962 World’s Fair. Songs like “Monorail” and “Space Needle USA” are interesting and unique to say the least (among others). You gotta check out their website, too. www.aaiiee.com

BAMBARA- DREAMVIOLENCE- EMERALD WEAPON- Three young dudes from Athens, GA who probably have damaged hearing by now. If not now, give it a few years. It’s mostly heavy noise guitar stuff (think Iceage) with an emphasis on noise, volume and bluster. This is their full-length debut following an ep in 2010 and they seem to be doing some really interesting stuff. I’ll go see ‘em live but I’m NOT forgetting my ear plugs. www.bambara.bandcamp.com

BLANK REALM- GO EASY- FIRE- More of this good n’ chunky music from Australia (also check out Scott & Charlenes Wedding). The record originally came out in a limited edition on the Siltbreeze label (and the Bedroom Suck label out of Australia) I guess they call it bluesy rock but whatever, it’s excellent, as the three Spencer siblings along with pal Luke Walsh create an incendiary scene with guitars catching fire. I don’t have an extinguisher, do you? www.firerecords.com

BROADWAY CALLS- COMFORT/DISTRACTION- NO SLEEP RECORDS- Record #3 from this Rainier, OR pop-punk trio whose last record, GOOD VIEWS, BAD NEWS was produced by Bill Stevenson up in Ft. Collins and this was two. If it seems like this is GOOD VIEWS part two, well, it kinda is. The songwriting is just as good if not better, hooks galore and a punchniness to all of the instruments that gives it the extra oomph. www.nosleeprecords.com

DRAZY HOOPS- THIS IS THE SOUND OF….- SLOW BURN RECORDS- The only record I remember by this guy was his ’98 debut STRAIGHT TO BLACK (on Shimmy Disc). He kept active in the 2000’s but I missed all of that. This is record #8 and it an odd mix of pop, electronics, folk and Americana but it works, in a weird way. Oh , and he cover Devo’s “Whip It” which is interesting to say the least. www.drazyhoops.com

FLETCHER- OPEN ARMS- SELF RELEASED- Young cats from Chicago (though two thirds of the band are Brits) offer up 6 songs that reminded me bit of UK buzz band The Kooks. The songs aren’t 100% there yet but close and pretty good. They’ll get better. www.fletchertheband.com

COLLEEN GREEN- SOCK IT TO ME HARDLY ART- Everything I read about this NYC gal who is heavily influenced by the Descendents I thought I was gonna love it but …..I didn’t. I did like opener “Only One” and the even more upbeat “Yr So Cool” but a lot o this I thought was just ok. They end with a cover of The Queers’ “Number One.” www.hardlyart.com

ISHI- DIGITAL WOUNDS- INTERNAL RECORDS- Electronic dance music from this Dallas, TX bunch who would seem outta place in that Texan town but what do I really know. I’ve never been to Dallas. I DO know that they need a new QB, Romo is getting’ them nowhere. www.ishimusic.com

POCO- ALL FIRED UP- SELF RELEASED- Yes, this is the same Poco that has been around since the late 60’s (originally formed with Buffalo Springfield castoffs Jim Messina and Richie Furay). The only original member left is Rusty Young (not Neil’s brother) and this is their first studio album since 2002 and it sounds like…well, Poco. Plenty of twangy guitar, pedal steel and the like, song aren’t bad either. www.poconut.com

SPECK MOUNTAIN- BADWATER- CARROT TOP- Dreamy, somnambulant rock from this Brooklyn, NY quartet who don’t change mush on their 3rd record here (the first one I heard was 2009’s sophomore efforts, SOME SWEET RELIEF). The sound ix textured, hazy and at times, quite melodic and they seem to be the perfect torch-bearers since Mazzy Star have left us (ok, so that was long ago, but still). www.carrottoprecords.com

VILLAGERS- AWAYLAND- DOMINO- A solo trip for Irish dude Conor J. O’Brien and while his debut was more like brooding folk , this is more of the same but adds elements of electronic music. The guys’s obviously got loads of talent but the debut did not resonate with me and AWAYLAND did nothing to change that. www.dominorecordco.com

AND A FEW SHORT REVIEWS BY MS. MARY LEARY!

Jason Blum- RADIO DIAL (BITCHEN RECORDS) Austin-based chef and singer/songwriter Jason Blum’s new album is all over the place. There’s beautifully textured Indie folk/pop that sort of recalls Jason Mraz and Amos Lee (“Thinkin’ About You”), some kickin’ classic rock (“Love Is a Blind Thing”), some folk rock tracks, and a couple with Latino or Spanish flavor. Sound a bit jarring? It is, in places. But in a downloadin’ world, maybe Blum doesn’t need to think about a more cohesive presentation. I hope he does, anyway, as an entire album of music like the best stuff here is something to anticipate. www.myspace.com/jasonblumMARY LEARY

KALEIDOSCOPE JUKEBOX- INFINITE REFLECTION- RHYTHM&CULTURE- An electronic/acoustic musician and remixer of artists including Thievery Corporation, Clint Carty (aka KJ) attempts a global village reach with this album, an ambition he fulfills more often than might be expected. This is the kind of pleasingly “ethnic”/drums-and-bass/textural/soft-vocals-in-your-psyche stuff that with a pair of headphones and a bit of something herbal could keep a body from leaving home, or the nightclub, for an unproductively long stretch. Umm… www.rhythmandculture.com MARY LEARY

SCOTT & CHARLENE’S WEDDING- TWO WEEKS EP- CRITICAL HEIGHTS- Bright, jangly guitars and talky vocals launch Scott & Charlene’s latest. Sound more or less like Craig Dermody’s last release? Um, yeah – still parked in the nuevo garage pop department that tends to be overdecorated/whiny/noisy/cutesy. Still, there’s an innocence to Dermody’s sound that has a bit of Jonathan Richman about it. And “My World” is a nakeder, hungrier rocker. Play it loud. www.criticalheights.com MARY LEARY

SOLVENTS-GHETTO MOON-BEE RESIN-A collaboration between Jarrod Bramson and his wife, Emily Madden. Careful violin and guitar playing form a base for mutual vocals that incorporate quiet psychedelia and almost palpable textures. It’s generally a bit tippy-toe for me, but maybe I haven’t listened enough – it would probably feel intensely evocative in a coffeehouse. Yeah, I think that would work. www.solventsmusic.com MARY LEARY

 

MARCH 2013

BILLY MACK COLLECTOR- BAD TURNIP- NOBODYS FAVORITE RECORDS- The new Ed’s Redeeming Qualities? www.nobodysfavoriterecords.com

THE BLACK SWANS- OCCASION FOR SONG- MISRA- Record #5 by this Columbus, Ohio bunch who darken the room up real quick like with their lovely but doomy folk music. Occasionally I thought I was listening to cover versions of “Lay lady Lay” but it was a different song. This is terrific. www.misrarecords.com

BLUE SKY RIDERS- FINALLY HOME- 3 DREAM RECORDS- Trio out of Nashville with one member just happens to be Kenny Loggins. Here he’s teamed up with couple Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman for some country pop. It’s slick and tuneful and some of the song titles are a bit too of the times (“How’s That Workin’ for Ya’?”, “You’re Not the Boss of Me”, “I Get It” etc.) but not bad. It’s not my cuppa tea but perhaps yours. www.blueskyridersband.com

DEADKILL- S/T- GOOD TO DIE RECORDS- The band sounds just like you would expect a band alled Deadkill to sound like (on a label that is called Good to Die). It’s ain’t twee pop. www.goodtodierecords.com

DIVA- MOON MOODS- CRITICAL HEIGHTS- Like a peppier Portishead? www.criticalheights.com

DONOTS- WAKE THE DOGS- OK GOOD RECORDS- German punk band who’ve been around for two decades (who knew) with at least a dozen records to their credit. A few of the tunes reminded me of a German-influenced Dropkick Murphys (just a bit) and one song features Frank Turner. www.okgoodrecords.com

ELECTROLIC- LIVE ON LAND- SELF-RELEASED- Bay Area duo of Scott Gagner (we’ve heard his music before) and Steve Enstad doing what they call “psych-synth-power-pop-home recordings.” On the more synth stuff it reminded me a bit of MGMT while on the lighter stuff I think the ghost of James Mercer was in the air. Well done, gents. www.electrolicsongs.com

EMPRESS HOTEL- HEAVY HALO- PARK THE VAN- This isn’t bad at all, some dudes from Lousiana got together and recorded 11 songs of likeable dance pop./ At times it reminded me a bit of the catchier Vampire Weekend numbers. “Baby Octopus” is my fave here but plenty o’ tunes to dig. www.parkthevan.com

FANG NOIR- I ACCEPT MY DEFEAT- NOBODY’S FAVORITE- Heavy rock from Worcester, MA (say Wuster). Jerry Fels might be effing with our punk rock heads but that’s ok because this stuff has cajones. “Mariah” rawks. Someonme said “like if Weezer’s third record was sung by Frank Black” but hey, it wasn’t me. Honest. www.nobodysfavoriterecords.com

LANNIE FLOWERS- NEW SONGS OLD STORIES- AARON AVE RECORDS- Texas songwriter dong some straight up pop tune that are Beatle-esque in nature. Plenty of hooks and while it’s not the most original batch o; songs you’ll hear it doesn’t matter, the melodies are strong and the guy has his heart in the right place. www.aaronave.com

GOSPEL CLAWS- PUT YOUR SUNSHINE AWAY- COMMON WALL- More interesting gunk from the Common Wall label (also check out terrific duo Bogan Via). These Phoenix drifter can get hazy n’ strut but they can also toss a 50’s doo-wopper your way too ((“I Move Around”). Reminded me a bit of Merge records The Rosebuds. All good. www.commonwall.com

HARLAN- NIGHT LOOP- SELF RELEASED- This is the work of one John Harlan Norris, who m, along with his pal Scott Campbell create a nice sonic backdrop for driving around at night with your headlights off and your blindfold on. The clash of electronic and real instruments is intriguing. I like this. Yeah. www.thestillbeat.com

I COME TO SHANGHAI- ETERNAL LIFE VOL. 1 & 2- TEXACHUSETTS- Two volumes (18 songs in all) by this Athems, GA bunch who favor moody washes of synth work (think Washed Out) over those instruments that have 6 strings (what are they called again). This is the soundtrack to your demented life. Yes…YOU. www.icometoshanghai.com

MAN MADE SUN- MORE A DEVIL THAN A GOOD- SELF RELEASED- A few of these guys resemble the singer from Rage Against the Machine (and that’s no compliment). I’ll give ‘em a pass because judging by their names they’re from a different country but this is strictly for Korn fans only. www.facebook.com/manmadesun

THE MARCH DIVIDE- MUSIC FOR FILM- DEAD LETTER RECORDS- Ok, so I never heard of Jared Putnam of his previous band The Conversation before. No big deal, right? Press releases always try to make you feel like you SHOULD have heard of them. Anywho, his new band, with the help of some friends is a nice little pop record veering between bouncy acoustic and something a bit more rock/pop. If I like it you’ll DEFINITELY like it. www.deadletterrecords.com

TOM MORGAN- ORANGE SYRINGE- FIRE- Dark, folk music from an Aussie who used to lead the band Smudge (and played a big part on a few Lemonheads records). On ORANGE SYRINGE he sounds like he’s aping another dark Aussie, Nick Cave but not nearly as good. This didn’t do a lot for me. www.firerecords.com

JACOB MORRIS- MOTHS- CLOUD RECORDINGS- Wow…this is one of those records I ignored because, well, I get sent so much other stuff that some stuff falls thru the cracks, but this is good. The guy hails from Athens, GA and has played with Patterson Hood. It’s charming, psych-folk-pop with strong songs and a genuine feel throughout. www.cloudrecordings.com

CARRIE NECOMER- KINDRED SPIRITS: A COLLECTION- ROUNDER- 19 song collection from coffee house folkie Newcomer. She’s been around for over 20 years (on Rounder for most of those years) so she’s no newcomer (hardy hard har) and this collection focuses more on her output in the 2000’s and songs on here feature duets with both Alison Krauss and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Not really my cuppa tea but she has a lovely voice and I’d rather listen to this than say Korn. www.rounder.com

TIM O’BRIEN & DARRELL SCOTT- WE’RE USUALLY A LOT BETTER THAN THIS (LIVE) - FULL LIGHT RECORDS- Two guys who I’d nerver heard of but did a little research and it seems like one has played with Robert Plant (Scott) and one with Steve Earle (O’Brien). There’s a lot of pickin’, strummin’ and croonin’ on this one. Bluegrass, county and blues all mashed up into one. Lots o covers, too. Real good. www.darrellscott.com www.timobrien.net

PEACE - THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH US- SUICIDE SQUEEZE- Sophomore effort from Vancouver, BC quartet who came down the highway to Seatttle for a record deal. Opener “Your Hand is Mine” is all cheer and pop but “The Perp Walk” vocalist Dan Geddes thinks he’s The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. Most of the rest of the songs (7 in all) do this sort of agitated duck walk. I’m still undecided on this one. www.myspace.com/suicidesqueezerecords

RAINY DAY SAINTS- ALL THESE STRANGE GHOSTS- GET HIP- I love this Cleveland’s bands 2006 released, DIAMOND STAR HIGHWAY. The band is sort of Paisley Underground meets The Byrds that occasionally gets a bit heavier. Leader Dave Swanson has played with GBV and many others and while this isn’t as strong as DIAMOND …. It still has its highlights (“She’+s Long Gone”, etc.). www.gethip.com

SILENT RIDER- S/T- SILENT RIDER MUSIC- Dark, electronic pop music done by a guy named Reed Kackley. I feel like he could be huge if given the right circumstance (maybe he already is and I’m just clueless). Nice. www.silentridermusic.com

TRUE HEARTS- S/T- KOOL KAT MUSIK- From the photos of the band members to the sound , it all screams early 80’s and that’s what this Houston, TX band was. An early 80’s power pop band that had lots of songs about girls. It’s not essential listening but certainly is worth hearing with a batch (11) of solid songs. www.koolkatmusik.com

WHY? -MUMPS, ETC.- ANTICON- Interesting trip-hop from two bros from way back when (actually Cincy) who are the best thing to happen to the city since the Big Red Machine won the last World Series (or since the Afghan Whigs split town). Then Pete Rose and Tony Perez. Now Yoni and Josiah Wolf. This is their Believe. www.anticon.com

SHORT REVIEWS FROM MARY LEARY!

MOPMOP-ISLE OF MAGIC- Full of lush atmospherics, Isle of Magic could be an updated, higher production-valued extension of Yma Sumac’s exotic ‘50s recordings. Since MopMop features percussionist Andrea Benini’s low, full-bodied vocals, it also reminds me of Eric Burdon on “Spill the Wine.” Lest this assessment slip into the Wayne’s World territory nipping at its heels, let’s just say this dense audio excursion seems made for a soiree under the stars. www.agogorecords.com MARY LEARY

TOM MORGAN-ORANGE SYRINGE-Pedal guitar swirls, crisp trap echoes, & other sounds evoking the American (or Aussie) frontier back the sung stories of a guy whose phrasing & inflections remind me of Mick Jagger’s. The tunesmith’s nice enough to interest ears beyond those already familiar with Morgan’s work with Smudge and/or Evan Dando.www.firerecords.com MARY LEARY

PICK A PIPER-S/T- Caribou drummer Brad Weber’s “organic electronic” project. With contributors including Angus Fraser, John Schmersal and Ryan McPhun, the full-length features low-key vocals that add froth to a rainbow of effects, with some club-friendly beats and a couple that shift into a slightly higher pitch, such as the sweet “Once Were Leaves.” At its best, as per the latter track, PAP goes well with Mice Parade, and with Broken Social Scene’s more evocative tracks. www.mintrecs.com MARY LEARY

 

FEBRUARY 2013

20/20- S/T/ LOOK OUT!- REAL GONE MUSIC- Essential two-fer from this long-revered power pop band. Superb song craft that was a lot like their contemporaries over in Zion , IL (The Shoes). Buy! www.realgonemusic.com

AUDACITY- MELLOW CRUISERS- BURGER- 2nd record by a bunch of young cats that call Fullerton, CA home (that’s where The Adolescents were from!). 10 tunes and very little b.s. If that’s a Viking on the cover it’s fitting…this is Viking rock! www.burgerrecords.com

DAVID BRONSON- STORY- SELF RELEASED- Of all of the bearded Cat Stevens-ish dudes this 22 years old songwriter might be the Cattiest (at time he reminds me of Elton John, too). He can sing, he can play, he can emote but sometimes that’s not enough to catch you. The guy has talent but it didn’t catch me. www.davidbronsonmusic.com

THE CAPSULES- NORTHERN LIGHTS & SOUTHERN SKIES- VESPERA RECORDS- This trio is the husband/wife of Jason and Julie Shields (w/ Kevin on drums) and they call it dreampop (and I usually like dream pop) but a lot of this was just kind of meh. A few strong tracks (Time Will Only Tell”, “With Signs Repeating”) but otherwise nothing to really get too excited about. www.thecapsules.net

MARK CROZER & THE RELS- PLANTING SEEDS RECORDS- Former Jesus and Mary Chain dude Crozier (also in the International Jetsetters) appears here with a new group (maybe not so new?) offering up 15 songs that mix jangle, fuzz, noise and dream pop all into one hypnotic stew. Some really terrific songs here (2 of my faves include “Killed by karma’ and “”I Need a Vaccination”, plenty more though). www.plantingseedsrecords.com

DREAM BOAT- ECLIPSING- CLOUD RECORDINGS- Longtime Athens, GA folks Dan Donahue and page Campbell (along with several other rE6/Athens-ites) create a haunting, dark n’ moody monsterpiece. Reminded me a bit of Beach House at times. “Sea to Sky” is timeless, peerless… www.cloudrecordings.com

HUSKY- FOREVER SO- SUB POP- Woodsy folk rock from Australia. You can think of them as Aussie’s version of Fleet Foxes (many have already said this). While the songs and harmonies aren’t bad they’re not as good as their Seattle brethren. I like ‘em more than Ferlin Husky, though. www.subpop.com

GARRET PIERCE- CITY OF SAND- NARNACK- Dark n’ mellow folk music from Mr. Pierce on this, his 3rd record. Even the song titles sound timeless: “Song to a Prostitute,” “”City of Sand,” “Statue Song,” “”The Golden Horse”, etc. This guy is good (and why wasn’t he playing in Santa Rosa when I lived there?). www.narnackrecords.com

TWO SHORT ONES FROM MS. MARY LEARY….

AIRSTRIP- WILLING HOLIDAYS FOR QUINCE - Airstrip’s power chord-driven, occasionally psych-spiked stew isn’t yet definitive enough for front guy Matthew Park’s brainchild to share stages with either the garage/psych bands it sometimes resembles, or the hard rock hitters who don’t always hit that much harder. Willing feels like a series of good (but not great) ideas that aren’t completely or ideally realized. But the word “yet” is pivotal, as Airstrip seems to have the ingredients that could help it evolve into a mighty, rock-based powerhouse, whether or not its music ever fits the “discomforting aesthetic” touted for the band on the HFC site: www.holidaysforquince.com MARY LEARY

RUBY SUNS- CHRISTOPHER-SUB POP- Ryan McPhun’s voice is perfect for Christopher's synth-based dance music -- a style that apparently won the New Zealander over during his Norwegian sojourn. For example, lead track “Desert of Pop” features his boyish tenor vocals over the smorgasbord of rhythmic bass lines, synth swirls/pops/ricochets, and thumpity thumps that seem inevitable in the genre that practically chants, “I wish I’d been born in – or never left -- the mid-‘80s.” If that sounds good to ye, head on over to the Ruby Suns club. I prefer Home Video for shakin' my groove to this sort of thang. www.subpop.com MARY LEARY

AND NOW….THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF….

I MEAN……A DRUM ROLL PLEASE……….IT IS……..TAH DAH!

Kidd Oblivion!!!

(He yells you the truth…whether you want it or not).

A CLEVER CON – MANNEQUIN LOVE – PLEDGEMUSIC – Pseudo-metal / Frat-rock rape anthems from NJ. Gross.

AIMEE BOBRUK – BA-BROOK – KICKSTARTER – Cut-n-paste laptop-pop warble’d out by Texan Bobruk that lands somewhere between Regina Spektor and Cheryl Crow. This disc will make some Old-heads feel a bit younger and ‘with it,’ while the youth will yawn. Produced by the bassist from forgotten 80’s band Glass Eye.

NIGEL BENNETT – TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES – ZIP – Someone call ex-Vibrators Nigel Bennett and tell him that we’ve filled this position already – with Jon Langford. Also, fire his photographer immediately. This is played-out across the board and sullies the Vibrators’ good name.

BRAND NEW TRASH – S/T – RANDEX – SF “trash-pop” that’s actually just low-budget roots-rock covering a TuPac song. Thank you, no.

CHALLENGER – THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH FOR ME – SELF – Yet another boy/girl, keyboard/drum outfit that can’t hold a candle to Wye Oak. This configuration plays modern, breath-y disco.

DOLLS ON FIRE – LADIES & GENTLEMEN – BANDCAMP – Imagine, if you dare, a combination of a 3rd rate Swearing at Motorists mixed with a 2nd rate 4 Non Blondes. Add to that some of the worst lyrics possible. Now, fall on sword. Bleed out.

JERRY FELS – EVIL IS THE ROOT OF ALL MONEY – NOBODYS FAVORITE – 2 words: Corny. Puns. Some examples: “Born in the USSA,” “Mothers hope your sons grow up to be bankers,” “I won’t get a FB page,” and “How do you know you know you know?” File under: waste of time/money/dignity.

DAN FRIEL – TOTAL FOLKLORE – THRILL JOCKEY – Swirly electronic noise set to a drum program that boasts being recorded on a 12 year old computer running OS9 on a 3 legged desk. If that’s supposed to count as ‘nostalgia’ it’s fucking pathetic. Someone please learn how to write a fucking song again. Please.

MATTHEW FRIEDBERGER – MATRICIDAL SONS OF BITCHES – THRILL JOCKEY – Waaah, my mommy was mean to me! Boo hoo hoo, poor baby. Spare me.

GAYTHEIST – STEALTH BEATS – GOOD TO DIE – Wins for best band name of the issue. Also, rocked the hardest. Well done.

HOWLING HEX – THE BEST OF – DRAG CITY – 4 words: Nasal, indie, circus-music.

JUDY KANG – S/T – SELF – This is basically keyboard programming and sampled beats underneath a little-girl voice and 10 tracks of violins. (There’s actually a picture of Kang holding her PINK violin and a Chihuahua on the cd jacket.) I completely lost my mind while listening to this and am currently under ‘observation’ at Bellevue.

ALSION MAY – EARNEST KEEP – WORKING BRILLIANTLY – Sweet, soft girl-guitar songs for forlorn college waifs that aren’t Goth, but aren’t joining a sorority either. Cd comes with scented candles, eye-liner and a dream-catcher.

MY RADIO – STARTS IN THE EAST, FALLS IN THE WEST – SELF – Points given for best artwork of the issue. Points taken away for having such over-blown, cheesy 80’s production. A lot of this reminds me of good bands like the National, Phoenix, Interpol and the Walkmen, but the production makes it sound like songs from the One Tree Hill or Vampire Diaries soundtracks. Woof.

NERD REVOLT – S/T – PLANETARY – NR are a synthesizer band not unlike Depeche Mode with whispering instead of singing and without a single, solitary hook. There are some interesting sounds in here, but the same can be said of the NYC subway system.

FRANZ NICOLAY – DO THE STRUGGLE – SELF – Self-described as “Pogues meets Arcade Fire” and it’s actually true. Here’s the catch though: they don’t have the musical chops, the vocals, the writing or the style of EITHER of those bands. So, it winds up being a lame impersonation that is almost painful.

PAN – THESE ARE THE THINGS I LOVE… - POST ECHO – I like Pan because they, like the Mercury Program, have the balls to be an instrumental band. I don’t like Pan because I’m pretty tired of anthem-y post-rock. I like Pan because they do instrumental, anthem-y post-rock really well. I don’t like Pan because they got their name from the Disney film Hook. Also, the songs are too long. I guess I don’t like Pan.

RABBITS – BITES ROTES – GOOD TO DIE – Heavy-as-shit, hardcore sludge-fest! This thing rivals the likes of Gooloo, Unsane etc – it’s fucking loud and scream-y and I kind of LOVE IT. There are probably only 1 or 2 days a year I could listen to this, but on those days – it’s perfect. RABBITS ROCK.

RTB2 – 2 – BANDCAMP – Contemporary, indie-damaged duo who owe everything they know to the Cars, the Knack, the White Stripes, Nick Lowe and Lou Barlow. It’s, at times, catchy and recorded well, but nothing new.

ROYAL TRUX – ACCELERATOR (REISSUE) – DRAG CITY – Hailed as a ‘masterpiece’ in 1998 (and probably a ‘classic’ now) the snarling, loopy, slop-fest that is Accelerator STILL doesn’t grab me. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. Sorry.

SELF EVIDENT – WE BUILT A FORTRESS ON SHORT NOTICE – DOUBLE+GOOD – Wins for best album title of the issue and, wait, HOLY SHIT IT’S MATH-ROCK! Whoa! It hangs right in there with classics like Polvo, Faraquet, Lefty’s Deceiver and A Career in Plastics too! I’m surprised to say that I enjoyed hearing some completely NON-dance-able, time-signature-defying music today. Hahahaha.

SOLOS – BEAST OF BOTH WORLDS – JOYFUL NOISE – Ok, let’s get something straight right now: The producer of this record is limey smarty-pants Guy Massey, and in his lists of production credits he includes Radiohead and the Beatles. Read that again. INCORRECT. He was an assistant on a Radiohead record and worked on 3 Beatles re-masters. That DOES NOT make him a producer of EITHER of those bands. That load of horse-shit seriously pisses me off. I mean, how can you, in good conscience say that you produced the Beatles? UGH, fuck that guy. Oh yeah, this Solos disc wouldn’t play in my cd player, so never mind.

SOUP DRAGONS – 20 GOLDEN GREAT – CHERRY RED – Holy crap, the Soup Dragons!? I feel like I’m in High School again! I’m probably blinded by nostalgia, but it’s good hearing this stuff again. Don’t get me wrong dear readers, it has NOT aged well – all of this Manchester-y stuff sounds ridiculous now. And YES, I know that the ‘Dragons were from Scotland, but you get my point. Anyway, it’s still fun and deserves a listen.

SWANSEA – OLD BLOOD – SOUNDCLOUD – This sounds exactly like college music-majors who now make soundtracks for mid-budget indie movies, which is precisely what it is.

WAX TAILOR – DUSTY RAINBOW FROM THE DARK – SELF – This wins for the worst album cover of the issue – easily. Also, it’s a “concept album inspired by the enchanted world of children that is a wandering path through psychedelic trip-hop and baroque hip-hop.” Ummm, yeah, right. You guys know that this is a punk and indie-rock fanzine right? Fuckin Hell, Hinely strikes again…

 

JANUARY 2013

KAIL BAXLEY- DOUBLE EP- FORTY BELOW RECORDS- South Carolina cat (who neighbor growing up was apparently James Brown) who has been perfecting his soul/blues/country influenced stuff for several years. This is two eps (10 songs total) . I need to listen more and let it really sink it but the dudes has an obvious talent. www.kailbaxley.com

MELISSA CRABTREE- THE DAY I FELL IN THE WATER- SELF RELEASED- Third record (her first one was a decade ago) by songwriter Crabtree and honestly, I thought I was going hate this just judging by the cd cover. And while musically it was what I expected (heartfelt strummy folk) the songwriting is good and I like her voice. So there you go. www.melissacrabtree.com

DRIVIN N’ CRYIN’- SONGS FROM THE LAUNDROMAT- NEW RECORDS!- This preceded the new ep (SONGS ABOUT CARS, SPAC AND THE RAMONES- the band is releasing 4 eps in a 12-month period). The first few tunes on here were too wanky for my tastes, but I liked both “REM” and the final tune ”Clean Up.” Worth it for those 2 tunes. www.drivinncryin.com

TOM DYER- I AIN’T BLUE ANYMORE- GREEN MONKEY- Interesting batch of bluesy tunes from Seattle guy Tom Dyer. His first record was released in ’83 and this is his 5th since 2009. A few choice covers (Captain Beefheart and The Sonics) and some hearty originals. Support true independent music! www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

ELEVATOR ART- TENT CITY- SELF RELEASED- A mix of styles y thus NJ –based band but none of them really work. I guess you could call it rock music…if you were really desperate. Thx to these guys I’m now giving up writing about music. www.elevatorartmusic.com

EL PERRO DEL MAR- PALE FIRE- THE CONTROL GROUP- First record in three years from Swede Sarah Assbring and she’s still bringing the dreamy synth pop with beats but the songs keep coming. She’s a tremendous talent and while I still like her 2006 S/T debut the most (tho’ it’s spookier) PALE FIRE has several high points as well. www.controlgroupco.com

ERIC LICHTER- ELKS IN PARIS- DIAMOND MARKET RECORDS- Seattle musician Lichter (who is also a member of the long-running Green Pajamas) apparently did a kickstarter campaign to get this thing recorded and released (produced by Ken Stringfellow) . While a few songs go off the rails most of ELKS IN PARIS is sweet pop music that’s lovingly rendered by all involved. www.elksinparis.com

EXDETECTIVES- FARHTEST STAR- POST PLANETARY- This is songwriter Faris McReynolds (we reviewed his other project last month in short review, One Finger Riot). This is more power-pop oriented with chiming melodies and I think there’ some sax blaring away. This is where Faris takes things form the bedroom to the stage. www.postplanetary.com

RONNIE FAUSS- I AM THE MAN YOU KNOW I’M NOT- NORMALTOWN- Terrific debut by this Dallas, TX songwriting (he had a few eps before this) on the new Normaltown Record (offshoot of New West Records). Fauss has real pain in his voice (and self-deprecation in his words) and his cry-in-your-bneer tunes are now cheesy or maudlin. Also on here is a cover o the burritos “Sin City.” www.normaltownrecordws.com

JESS GRANT- INNOCENT INVADER- SELF RELEASED- Seattle dude who used to be in Sugarcane Mutiny but has struck out on his own. I believe this is his sophomore solo effort and it’s laid-back alt country. Not a lot on here caught my ear, to be honest, but he did name the opening tune ‘Bigger than the Rolling Stones.’ www.jessgrantmusic.com

HAUNTED HEADS- S/T- DOUIBLEPLUSGOOD- Debut record from Oshkosh, WI’s bunch doing melodic pop/rock. I was initially reminded of the Promise Ring. I’d rather listen to this than a lot of the crap out there masquerading as music. www.doubleplusgood.com

HAUNTED WEST- POSTLUDE- HAUNTED WEST RECORDS- The pride of Wooster, Ohio offer up their debut record and I found it…..I dunno, mostly boring. Not sure what they’re aiming for her, I thought Calexico Jr. but apparently it has lots of “Old Testament imagery.” No thanks. www.hauntedwest.com

HAWKS- PUSHOVER- LEARNING CURVE RECORDS- Four dudes from Hotlanta with PBR in their guts and Killdozer and Bastards records in their collection. Reminds me of the good old days which really were good. Music fo the next Mayan end of the world thing. www.learningcurverecords.com

THE LOVELY BAD THINGS- NEW GHOST OLD WAVES- VOLCOM- 3 dudes (two are brothers) and a gal So. Cal bunch with some kinda ties to Burger Records (a plus in my book) doing spark, garage, surfy pop music…..kinda like a less pro Dum Dum or Vivian Girls maybe. Plenty o’ reverb (another plus!). www.volcom.com

LOVESKILLS- MULTIPLICITY- NO SHAME- 6 tunes from techie geek, Richard Spitzer. The sticker calls it “ambient r & b or post dubstep” and who am I to argue with that. Opening cut “Cover me” is full on catchy synth pop while on other cuts I hear the dubstep stepping in. I didn’t think I’d like it but I do. www.noshame.com

MUSIC FROM THE FILM- VI KOMMER TIL A FA DEG- ZERO MOON- I read that the title is Norwegian for “We’re going to get you.” This Maryland trio has been doing bent sound collages for a while not and this is as odd as they get. 22 “songs.” The new Negativland (or Resident)? www.zeromoon.com

PAWS- COKEFLOAT!- FATCAT- Young trio from Scotland who may have grown up stealing their parents Superchunk, Teenage Fanclub and Weezer records which is a nice way of saying they sound like Yuck and Wavves. 13 songs, melodic, punchy, sloppy, fun…I like it. www.fatcatrecords.com

THE SCHOOL- READING TOO MUCH INTO THINGS LIKE EVERYTHING- ELEFANT- Female-fronted UK bunch deliver another knockout here. Their debut, LOVELESS UNBELIEVER. While there’s nothing on here as good as “Let It Slip” it’s ok because READING still has plenty o’ pop punch. Fans of Camera Obscura will love. www.elefant.com

SCOTT & CHARLENE’S WEDDING- PARA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB- CRITICAL HEIGHTS- basically the work of one Craig Dermody (and I’m guessing a few friends) This band with the curious name hearkens back to the early 90’s when broken-hearted guys with their 4-tracks cranked up the noise and even write some terrific tunes from time to time. Man, gettin’ old sucks. www.criticalheights.com

RICH SHAFFER- IDIOT FLATS- SELF RELEASED- I was expecting some bad blues gunk but this is actually decent, mid-tempo garage rock (Stonesy at times) with some dirty guitar grit. 10 tunes and I think Shaffer played most (if not all) of the instruments. Good on ya’. tarock@epix.net

KEN STRINGFELLOW- DANZING IN THE MOONLIGHT- SPARK & SHINE- Busy guy Stringfellow plays with his own band The Posies plus The Disciplines, does solo stuff, and played prev. with the now defunct REM and Big Star. On this , his 4th solo out he tosses together elements of well….everything and most of the time, it works! My favorite is the dreamier, low-key stuff like “110 or 220v.” A lot to take in but a mostly strong outing. www.sparkandshine.com

SUIT OF LIGHTS- SHINE ON FOREVER- VISITING HOURS MUSIC- Indie rock lite from Joe Darone (he used to be in NJ’s Fiendz….I saw their shirts all over NJ in the late 80’s) and a bunch of pals. Some of it reminded me of The Shins while other times , I dunno, Seals and Crofts or the Allen Parsons Project. It didn’t really move me. www.suitoflights.com

THROUGH THE SPARKS- ALAMALIBU- SKYBUCKET- 5 more tunes from Birmingham, AL’s terrific Through the Sparks. Apparently the title is an ode to their former home studio. The songs are luish and organic (“Brion Monchus”) or riveting and direct (“Warring Arms”) or both (“Common Goals”). Just get it. www.skybucket.com

TURBONEGRO- SEXUAL HARRASSMENT- VOLCOM- If you, like me were worried that the mighty Turbonegro would be nothing without their vocalist Hank Von Helvete well, you have nothing to worry about. New vocalist Tony Sylvester (The Duke of Nothing) is more than able and the tunes still rip n’ roar. Well done. www.volcom.com

THE VIRTUES- REREPEATER- ZIP/ GREENROOM RECORD- Punchy, chunky power pop from where else, Sweden! This isn’t straight power pop though, some of it reminded me a bit of the more jagged Fugazi stuff (REPEATER?) . It’s got cajones and I like it. www.ziprecords.com

WE ARE THE WOODS- WHALES AND ROSES- SELF RELEASED- W.A.T.W. is Marcia, Tyler and Jessie. Three pals from Lancaster, PA who then went on to psych out professors at Columbia Univ. WHATLES AND ROSES is 10 songs of intriguing homespun folk-pop with plenty of whimsy. Yeah pal, I said WHIMSY. www.wearethwwoods.us

….AND A FEW BY MARY LEARY!!!

LULU GAINSBOURG WITH VARIOUS ARTISTS- FROM GAINSBOURG TO LULU- MBM - Whether the presence of celebrities and hipsters is a drawing card or turn-off for you, From Gainsbourg to Lulu is, for starters, intriguing. It’s interesting to hear what Iggy Pop, Scarlett Johansson, and Shane MacGowan do with Gainsbourgh’s certifiedly cool material. It’s the first release from Gainsbourg’s son, Lulu, was was five when his dad passed away in ’91. His star-studied bevy of friends also includes Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, Sly Johnson, and Rufus Wainwright. I can only imagine the catering tent. www.mbmrecords.com MARY LEARY

INCUBUS- THE ESSENTIAL INCUBUS- (EPIC/LEGACY)- Just about everyone knows how far Incubus has come from it early, underage days, when guitarist Mike Einziger had to pay for the first pressing of the band’s self-released debut. Whether or not it was part of your high school or young adult life soundtrack, The Essential Incubus, which highlights the band’s 1997-2011 tenure at Epic/Immortal, testifies to a seemingly inexhaustible wellspring of material. The two-CD collection includes tracks from all three EPS, and a Stealth soundtrack song unavailable till now, “Make a Move.” Also featured are “Black Heart Inertia,” and romantic ballads like “Dig” and “Wish You Were Here.” The band’s trademark, deep groove provides a consistent bloodline. www.legacyrecordings.com MARY LEARY

RAGE AGANST THE MACHINE- XX (20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION DELUXE BOX SET)-(LEGACY)- While Rage Against the Machine’s original headbanging legions may already have acquired/heard/seen many of the tidbits on this new, boxed set, the band’s incendiary force still attracts new followers. For them, as well as RATMs lovers still adding to their collections, this 20th anniversary set has assembled a 180 gram vinyl edition and CD of the band’s first, classic album, B-sides, footage from the 2010 “Battle of Britain” show in the U.K., a DVD of official music videos, a DVD showcasing the band’s first big concert at Cal. State North Ridge in ’91 and the ’94 PinkPop show, and live versions of “Bullet in the Head,” “Bombtrack,” and “Take the Power Back,” along with a CD of original song demos. Phew. And, oh yeah, a 40-page booklet with liner notes by Chuck D. Plus a poster. So there must still be quite an audience for RATM’s groundbreaking mash of hard rock with hip hop. 20 years after the band came up with it, the world’s not in a whole lot better shape. I guess that’s the good and the bad news. www.legacyrecordings MARY LEARY

DECEMBER 2012

BEAR COLONY- SOFT EYES- ESPERANZA PLANTATION- 13 songs by this Little Rock, AR band and this is their sophomore effort. I never heard thee debut but it sounds like I need to (judging by the reviews). The songs on this record are occasionally pulsing and hypnotic but also hazy and with some occasional scratchy electronics. Whatever it is it works. Trust and believe.

CROOKED COWBOY AND THE FRESHWATER INDIANS- ANNALOG AND HER HOPEFUL DIARIES- NEUROTIC YELL- Low-key gunk that spouts out experimental and psych-tinged stuff into some oddball spaghetti western that will have you thinking you’re on peyote (even if you don’t know what peyote is. Good luck there cowboy. neuroticyell@gmail.com

GRAPE SODA- FORM A SIGN- KINDERCORE- Hey, Kindercore is still around (or back)! One half of this Athens, GA duo is Mr. Ryan Lewis (drums) who runs the K-core label and the other half is his brother Mat (keys /vocals) . The music is all over the place form straight up rockin’ pop (“Smooth Rider”) to dubbier stuff (“Obvious Signs”) and everything in between. This is a good start. www.kindercore.com

THE GREEN PAJAMAS- DEATH BY MISADVENTIURE- GREEN MONKEY- More neo-psychedelia by this Seattle band (led by M<r. Jeff Kelly) who have been at it since 1984 (yup). This is a song cycle “The Fall of the Queen Bee.” As far as pop much goes it’s all over the map but holds together quite nicely. My fave here is “Ring Around the Sun.” www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

HIDDEN PICTURES- RAINBOW RECORDS- GOLDEN SOUND RECORDS- Terrific , bouncy pop form, this Kansas City band that I had never heard of before (hey, it happens). I wanted to review this months ago but alas, it didn’t happen for a myriad of reasons, but hey here is my short review and if it doesn’t scream BUY ME NOW! Well, it should. www.goldensoundrecords.com

HIGGINS- STRAIGHT A’S- SERIOUS BUSINESS- NY’s Serious Business Records has been quietly releasing some terrific stuff and the top of the heap is this band led by the elusive Kevin Fish. The hooks, whether they be overt or covert, are there and the songwriting is strong,. Fans of the three B’s (Beatles, Beach Boys and Byrds) will find plenty to like here.

THE HOLLYHOCKS- UNDERSTORIES- MYSTERY LAWN MUSIC- Bay Area band that was produced by Allen Clapp (and ion his MLM imprint) so I thought I’d love it but not exactly. It pleasant and breezy but it’s almost a bit too shiny for my liking. They do an interesting cover of Def Leppard’s “Photograph” and overall it’s listenable but I didn’t love it and I really wanted to. www.mysterylawn.com

HOPE FOR AGOLDENSUMMER- LIFE INSIDE THE BODY- MAZARINE RECORDS- Unique trio from Athens, GA doing field folk tunes with a mix of banjo singing saw, glockenspiel, etc. And the voices, oh those voices. www.mazarinerecords.com

ISIDORE- LIFE SOMEWHERE ELSE-COMMUNICATING VESSELS- 2nd record (first in 7 years) collaboration between The Church’s Steve Kilbey and Remy Zero’s Jeff Cain. It’s a subtle mix of Cain’s exquisite arrangements and Kilbey’s reflective vocals but it works most of the times, only going off the rails here and there. www.communicating vessels.com

ANDERS NILSSON- NIGHT GUITAR- SELF RELEASED- Six songs of just this Swede playing electric guitar and it ranges from mellow meditations (“Meet me in the Back Alley”) to full on RAWK (“Nocturne”) and ore experimental gunk. Maybe guitarists might find this interesting, but I’m no guitarist. www.andersnillsonguitar.com

ONE FINGER RIOT- FLY BY LIFE- POST PLANETARY- Straight up electronic synth pop by one Faris McReynolds. Not sure if this is a solo bedroom project or if he gets help (not much info on here) but it gets dreamy and occasionally funky and I can say this for sure, the dude’s got rhythm. www.postplanetary.com

RADIANA- S/T- PROJEKT- Creepy looking doll on the cover, bad artwork, awful band name lettering. The music? Not bad, dreamy pop with female vocals. www.projekt.com

RED CLOVER GHOST- S/T- GOOD SOIL RECORDS- Reared in the sticks of Western Maryland and now calling Virginia Beach home, the twin (identical) brothers named Gibb and Clint Cockrum (yup, that’s what I said) do kitchen-sink folk akin to Iron & Wine. My only problem is I thought it was gonns suck (not sure why ) and I doesn’t, these songs are good. Redcloverghost.bandcamp.com

LISA RICHARD- BEATING OF THE SUN- SELF RELEASED- Strummy acoustic stuff from this female with some good pop hooks. Kinda reminded me of some of Tanya Donnelly’s stuff. and she looks like an angel, too. www.lisarichardsmusic.com

JODI SHAW- IN WATERLAND- SELF RELEASED- I like the cover of the cd, a woman standing out in the open ocean with a bathing cap on but alas, the cd was split, nearly in two and would not play. www.jodishaw.com

SOLOS- BEAST OF BOTH WORLDS- JOYFUL NOISE- Solos is a collaboration between Hella guitarist Spencer Seim and singer/songwriter Aaron Ross. The songs are unpredictable and all over the map. I hear folksy stuff, sorta grunge and stuff that reminded me of Led Zeppelin, a bit (they also cover Michael Jackson’s “The don’t care about us”). This short review won’t do the record justice but give it a listen. www.joyfulnoiserecordings.com

SPENCER MCGILLICUTTY- ALL THE HAPPY PEOPLE- SPENCER HOUSE RECORDS- I loved this Mpls bands previous record (GAMES, their 2nd) while this one didn’t quite catch me the same way. Don’t get me wrong, ALL THE… has some terrific songs on it (“”Tell,” “1944 (think of me)”, etc.). They still do a nice mix of pop styles and this is definitely worth hearing, it just wasn’t quite GAMES. www.spencermcgillicutty.com

SPIDERBAGS- SHAKE MY HEAD- ODESSA- Chapel Hill, NC bunch who toss in a whole lot of styles into the blender (rock, garage, r & b, psych, etc.) put it on puree and out comes one heckuva record. Occasionally bringing to mind the spazz garage of the Black Lips but this bunch offers even more. Buy pronto. www.odessarecords.com

SHANNON STEPHENS- PULL IT TOGETHER- ASTHAMATIC KITTY- Bluesy, ragged folk from this Seattle mom who got her start in a band in Michigan with Sufjan Stevens (Marzuki). PULL IT TOGETJHER is 11 songs and they all seem to go off on their own path never standing still for too long. www.asthmatickitty.com

THE SUN PARADE- YOSSIS- SELF RELEASED- Interesting pop duo who cover a lot of ground on this debut record. 13 songs that occasionally swing like The Zombies while other tunes are more firmly rooted in the rock tradition. Not great but certainly worth hearing. www.thesunparade.com

THESE UNITED STATES- S/T- UNITED INTERESTS- You might think this alt-country boogie rock band hail from ‘bama or Georgia but nope, BKNY is where they call home (where else?). They seem to be having a good time first and foremost but I’ll take the Drive by Truckers over them anytime. I do like the origami type cd packaging though,. www.unitedinterests.com

ALLEN THOMPSON BAND- SALVATION IN THE GROUND- PALAVER RECORDS- Retro bunch seemingly going for the Laurel Canyon sound. A few cuts jump into bluegrass territory (“While I’m Young”, etc.). They should look into opening the upcoming Dawes tour. Nice stuff. www.allenthompsonmusic.com

DINAH THORPE AND HER FIVE WHITE GUYS- 12- SELF RELEASED- Coffehouse folk that is really bad. www.dinahthorpe.com

THE TOY DOLLS- THE ALBUM AFTER THE LAST ONE MVD- Sunderland, England bunch who’ve been around for 100 years. Ok actually a little over 30 and while they’ve had a million lineup changes they’re still led by Olga (Michael Algar) and still doing that cheesy, spazzy punk rock that they’ve always done. It’s fun, funny and usually entertaining. www.secretrecords.imited.com

JESS TURNER- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Slick, well-produced pop and if you think I’m gonna slag it just for that well, you’re wrong. While it’s not exactly my cuppa tea Jess Turner isn’t just another pretty face. She has the talent and the songwriting chops for folks looking for this pop lite kinda stuff. www.jessturnermusic.com

THE ULTRA VIOLET- WEDNESDAY ep- THE ESKIMO RECORD LABEL- Nice dreamy pop stuff from one Kesha Rose who gets help on production from the Black Watch’s Scott Campbell (and TBW’s John Andrew Frederick co-wrote the opening tune “Shut Up”). The title track and “Shut Up” are my two faves here. For fans of Lush, Ivy, Chicklet, ete. Nice. theultraviolet@hotmail.com

UNKNOWN COMPONENT- BLOOD V. ELECTRICITY- SELF RELEASED- Dark, moody pop by Ames, Iowa musician Keith Lynch. He played everything on this record (and did fthe digipak artowir, too). My picks to click are “Nowhere is Alone” and “Pendulum.” www.unknowncomponent.com

UNNATURAL HELPERS- LAND GRAB- HARDLY ART- Seattle quartet (who have been described as Mudhoney Jr.) with their 2nd record on the Hardly Art label. They own guitars and they like to use ‘em , too. They keep most of their songs under the 2 minute mark until the final hurrah, the nearly 10 minute “Julie Jewel.” Huzzah! www.hardlyart.com

RUBY VELLE & THE SOULSONICS- IT’S ABOUT TIME- GEMCO RECORDS- A 7-piece form Atlanta led by the vocals of, you guessed it, Ruby Velle (who’s Canadian). The band is heavily influenced by the soul music out of Georgia in the 50’s and 60’s and this is the real deal. The songs swing (even the sultry ones) and it’s hard not to get sucked into their groove. Tune in and turn on. www.gemcorecords.com

WAUMISS- SUBTLE FOR FLAMES- LITTLE RAMONA RECORDS- Experimental electronic music courtesy of North Carolina’s husband/wife duo of Clarque and Claire Bolmquist. Opening cut “Calling Mary Punch’ recalled the percolating punch of Stereolab while other tunes go into much fuzzier (and weirder) territory. www.waumiss.com

WILKINSON BLADES- 4:00 AM- SHIFTONE RECORDS- Nice batch of twangy tunes by a dude named Steve Wilkinson (who wrote or co-wrote most of the songs) . He remember to bring the hooks and while at times some of it seems a bit forced (in a Marlboro Man kinda delivery) again the songs are good. Cool cover of Nancy and Lee’s “Some Velvet Morning,” too. www.shiftonerecords.com

THE WONDER REVOLUTION- FIREFLY- AIR HOUSE RECORDS- Wichita, KS bunch with at least one member of the Appleseed cast doing dreamy/eerie/fuzzy gunk. At different times reminded me of Godspeed, Explosions in the Sky and Flying Saucer Attack. The title track is my pick to click here but a lot to like here. www.airhouserecords.com

YUSIF!- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Seattle songwriter who offers up 10 numbers about love, life and death. Yusif apparently writes about all of the tragedy he has seen (living in Kuwait during the Gulf War) and out it comes in these 10 rock/pop numbers. I didn’t like it at all, but apparently he has his fans. www.yusifmusic.com

 

NOVEMBER 2012

THE CRAVATS- THE CRAVATS IN TOYTOWN- 2-cd set (45 songs) of all of this UK bands recordings from the late 70’s/early 80’s. This is yip, jump music played by Stranglers/Joy Division fans but doesn’t sound like either. Scattershot vocals with bent guitar work and overly eager sax player all added up to an uncompromising, unique sound that’s now here for all to enjoy (an enjoy you’d better). www.overgroundrecords.co.uk

CUDDLE MAGIC- INFO NYMPHO- FYO RECORDS- Experimental chamber pop band from , where else, BKNY with cello, violin, guitars and the like, you know, all instruments you’ve heard before but these folks were trained in the conservatory and thus, this was not my bag. www.fyorecords.com

RYAN DARTON- I AM A MOTH- SELF RELEASED- Pleasant pop rock from a guy I’d never hear of before. The songs are well-written and occasional piano or cello flourishes end up on the tunes as well, which I liked. Nice. www.ryandarton.com

DECOMPOSURE- EATING CHICKEN- BLANK SQUIRREL- Decompsoure is actually Canadian electronic dude Caleb Mueller. He has 4 other full-lengths out but this is the first one I’ve heard. It’s a nice mix of pop elements including 80’s video game sounds, scratches and the like. “Oh Brother” is my pick top click and I’ma look for his other stuff. www.blanksquirrel.com

DELETED SCENES- YOUNG PEOPLE’S CHURCH OF THE AIR- PARK THE VAN- Independent band Deleted Scenes hail from Washington, DC and seem to be in the line with the Dirty Projectors/Animal Collective side of things. In other words, beats, hazy melodies, quirky rhythms, etc. This did nothing for me but I’m probably in the minority on this one. www.parkthevan.com

DEVEREAUX- CACTI PACE- SELF RELEASED- Only 5 songs here from W. Heyward Sims (aka Devereaux) but 5 superb songs in the Air and Daft Punk tradition with percolating keys and cool loops and samples. www.post-echo.com

DOLFISH- I’D RATHER DISAPPEAR THAN STAY THE SAME- AFTERNOON- 12 tunes recorded in the bedroom by this Cleveland dude Max Sollisch. The songs, especially Max’s voice, is very reminiscent of the Mtn Goats John Darnielle (with a touch of Daniel Johnston). If this was 1992 I would love this but now…not so much. www.afternoonrecords.com

DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR- WESTERN VIOLENCE- 11 FOOT POLE RECORD COMPANY- Instrumental quarter from Los Angeles who have been around for nearly 2 decades (had no idea). Despite their length, this is only their 3rd full-length and , like the others it mixes their unique blend of instrumental stew with forays into surf, rock, garage, spy/crime, etc. James Ellroy likes them and you might too. www.doublenaughtspycar.com

EFREN- WRITE A NEW SONG- SLO PRO RECORDS- Rollicking and rousing full-length from this Athens, GA alt country band in the vein of the Old 97’s and they’ve got the songs to back it up. “If my heart don’t fail me” swings with the best of them while “The Woods and the Wild” slows I down and adds more heart. Well done, gents. www.efrenmusic.com

JEREMY FISHER- MINT JULEPS- HIDDEN PONY RECORDS- Acoustic singer-songwriter stuff from this Canadian dude who’s been nominated for two Junos in his young career (this is record #5). The guy is good, the songs swing, his lyrics are strong an there’d melodies and plenty of toe-tappin’, too. Come on, give the guy a shot. www.jeremyfishermusic.com

STEPHEN KALINICH & JON TIVEN- YO TO MA SYMPTOMOLOGY/ SHORT CUTS TO INFINITY- FOOTHILL RECORDS- Two longtime music biz dudes 9who have apparently written songs for the Beach Boys, McCartney, Chilton, etc.) team up for a double album. Wasn’t sure what to expect but most of this sounds like bloozy, ‘stones kinda gunk. Didn’t hear a lot I’d wanna hear again but then again this was a lot to take and honestly, didn’t listen to all of it. www.foothillrecords.com

K-HOLES- DISMANIA- HARDLY ART- Howling basement scorch from this NYC trio featuring Jack Hines who was an early member of Atlanta’s Black Lips. It’s sorta swampy Cramps-ish stuff meets No-Waves (complete with a bent sax player). The record is mighty fine but I’ll bet live they slay. Not missing ‘em next time they are in Denver. www.hardlyart.com

DAN KIBLER- S/T- KOOL KAT MUSIK- Not sure if PA. native Kibler has been on the scene for a while or brand spankin’ new on the scene but the 12 songs on this record are all solid to very good in the pop with twang category (this Tom Petty, Jayhawks, and even occasionally Springsteen , as on “Another Day”,etc.). Solid pop (non-crap) songwriting is always appreciated in this house. www.koolkatmusik.com

KING OF SPAIN- ALL I DID WAS TELL THEM THE TRUTH AND THEY THOUGHT IT WAS HELL- NEW GRANADA- Dreamy pop/rock from this Florida duo of Matt Slate and Daniel Wainwright (the band was originally just Slate) possibly named after a Galaxie 500 song. They have a good pop sensibility and tunes like “Basement Fires” and “Green Eyes” (not the Husker Du song) are top notch, as are others. Nice. www.kingofspain.org

KONRAD- SHADOW BOXING- RADICAL TURF- Konrad is Jeffrey Konrad, a Rock Island, IL native who on the cover is holding a dummy and wearing a suit. Am I to believe that Konrad is really a ….ventriloquist? Nonetheless, with a heap on friends on different instruments he/they make an interesting little pop record here. Why has no one mentioned it or I writing about it? It’s surely worth hearing. www.radicalturf.com

LAWRENCE ARABIA- THE SPARROW- BELLA UNION- I keep hearing the names of artists I love in his reviews, names like Scott Walker , Serge Gainesbourg and the like. While I do give him props for his unique take on pop, I’m still not hearing a song that I want to hear again (“Like Your Wounds” was close). www.yeproc.com

MARK MALLMAN- DOUBLE SILHOUETTE- EAGLES GOLDEN TOOTH- After a trio of records on the Badman label it seems like Mpls (via Milwaukee) songwriter M.M. is now releasing records on his own. The guy has been described as a mad pop genius and the one time I saw him live he reminded me of a indie Billy Joel (for all the good and band that implies). These 11 songs run the gamut from good to bad but he;’ definitely worth checking out and is obviously dedicated to his song craft. www.markmallman.com

CHRIS MCFARLAND- BEAUTY AND UNDERTOW- END UP RECORDS- Austin-based songwriter McFarland offers up 5 songs on this debut and gets some help from the Rainier Maria folks. The talent is there but some days I can take or leave this kinda stuff and today I’ll leave it (tho’ tomorrow I may take it). www.chrismcfarland.com

THE MEMPHIS DAWLS- S./T WEP- KANGAROO RECORDS- 4 songs by this female trio from, you guessed it, Memphis. I dunno…I was hoping for something raucous and razzled but instead got haunting folk music. Again, not bad but not what I was expecting and sometimes that is a total letdown. www.thememphisdawls.com

EAMON MCGRATH- YOUNG CANADIANS- WHITE WHALE RECORDS- 3rd record this gruff an grizzled Canadian who seems to break out on this record (though honestly, I never heard the first two but can’t imagine them being better than this). If nothing else, the gritty, driving “Instrument of My Release” is one o my favorite songs of the year but there’s plenty more to like with McGrath’s pouring vocals and Crazy Horse-ish guitars. www.whitewhale.ca

MUD PIE SUN- WOODEN CIRCLE- REVOLVING BELL- 14 songs from a duo who last appeared 20 years ago (and I have never heard of them then). This is fuzzy, hazy, psychedelic (want more?) folk. I had a hard time getting thru each song so that’s not good, is it? Sorry gents (Tom and Steven) . www.mudpiesun.com

JANKA NABAY AND THE BUBU GANG- EN YAY SAH- LUAKA BOP- One Sierra Leone ex-pat and a host of Brooklyn-ites get down with a style of music called Bubu. Made popular by Nabay is his home country, he fled the war torn county and came to the USA to see fame and fortune (and have David Byrne notice him). The music is jumpy, percussive and, I’m guessing quite political. Maybe the New Yorkers love it but hey, I’m from Jersey. www.luakabop.com

KALEN NASH- UKRED- NORMALTOWN RECORDS- The lead singer of the band Ponderosa breaks out on his own on his solo debut and it haunting, spooky, at times ethereal. Every other review has mentioned Fleet Foxes and now so have I. Mostly acoustic folk with some occasional electronic flourishes and I’d say I like exactly 63.5% of this record. www.normaltownrecords.com

NAYTRONIX- DIRTY GLOW- PLUG RESEARCH- Naytronix is the solo project of Nate Brenner who plays bass for Tuneyards. I’m not much of Tuneyards fan and this didn’t exactly make my day either. I know the kids love this chill-wave stuff and I would too if I heard some god songs but alas…. www.plugresearch.com

THE NERVOUS WRECKORDS- LET THEM ALL TALK- SELF RELEASED- Three dudes (0k, on is a gal) from So. Cal (they mention that one is Brian Karscig from LOUIS XIV but never heard of either) who are shooting for the stars. On this debut they remind me of that first Strokes record only not as good. Ok, I did like “Ivy.” www.thenervouswreckords.com

NU SENSAE- SUNDOWNING- SUICIDE SQUEEZE- I love a band with an umlaut but hey, even if this Vancouver, BC didn’t have an umlaut I’d still like pretty ok. Razor sharp riffs , pounding rhythms and a female vocalist singing as if her life depended on it. I found them to be a bit Turbonegro-ish which is fine by me. This rules. www.suicidesqueeze.net

ONUINU- MIRROR GAZER- BLADEN COUNTY RECORDS- I’m gonna use the word again, for a 2nd time, yup…here it comes: chill-wave (though the creator of it, Dorian Duvall calls it “disco-hop”). I like catchy synth pop but there isn’t as much melody here as I’d like. Meh. www.bladencountyrecords.com

OKKERVIL RIVER- I AM VERY FAR- JAGJAGUWAR- My least favorite of the past three Okkervil records. www.jagjaguwar.com

PONG- LIVE AT THE CONTINENTAL CLUB- THE ROCK GARAGE- Some dudes from Texas bands like Ed Hall, Pocket FishRmen and ST#& get together and recorded a set at the C.C. on 11/14/09. I dunno, I hear echoes of Echo & the Bunnymen. www.therockgarage.com

POW WOWS- NIGHTMARE SODA- GET HIP RECORDINGS- You wanna know what’s going on in Toronto these day? Well, the Pow Wows are going on. Someone called ‘em flower punk and I’m not sure what that means but I’m gonna start using it thank you very much. For fans of the Black Lips and Thee Oh Sees. www.gethip.com

BRIANNA LEE PRUETT- THE STARS, THE MOON, THE OWL, THE COUGAR AND YOU- TIGER FRIENDS COLLECTIVE- Intimate, hazy, jazzy , at times coffeehouse folk that was awfully pretentious. www.tigerfriendscollective.com

REC CENTER- TIN YEAR- NEW GRANADA- Mostly the Florida dup of Michael and Susie (though Brian, Keith and others help out) who have apparently been around the block in the Tampa are bands. This vacillates between slow, moody pop songs and more upbeat jangly stuff. They do both really well so two thumbs up! www.newgranada.com

CHRIS RICHARDS AND THE SUBTRACTIONS- GET YER LA LA’S OUT- GANGPLANK RECORDS- Nice , chunky power poop (ala Cheap Trick or The Lolas’ and at time like GBV’s most melodic stuff) from this Detroit trio led by, you guessed it, Chris Richards. Nothin’ fancy , just well-written pop/roc tunes. www.gangplankrecords.com

THE SCENICS- DEAD MAN WALKS DOWN BAYVIEW- DREAM TOWER RECORDS- Ontario band, led by main songwriters Ken Badger and Andy Meyers who have had a decade layoff. They are also apparently legendary in some circles but I was not aware. To me this sounded like really average pop/rock with some occasional twang and a V.U. fixation. www.dreamtowerrecords.com

OCTOBER 2012

ANASTASIA- PACIFIC- SELF RELEASED- Coffee house hippy folk by this California whose “songs are inspired by her coastal influences growing up in the California town of Carpinteria and her time living in Chile.” www.musicanastasia.com

MICHAEL ANDREWS- SPILLING A RAINBOW- EVERLOVING- Soundtrack guy (DONNIE DARKO, etc.) who is also in the Greyboy Allstars (who I’ve never heard and with that name, I don’t think I want to) but this solo record is dreamy flowery pop with some solid to great songs on here. Srsly. www.everloving.com

ANIMAL PARTS- S/T- HUNGRY MUSIC- Canadian bunch (Toronto) led by the elusive Joshua Cockerill who used to go by his own name and now he and the boys are called Animal Parts. I hear Wilco influence as well as ol’ Shakey (Neil Young). “What Our Love Is’ and “King of Kings” are both excellent as are a few others. Nice. www.myspace.com/joshuacockerill

BEATEN BY THEM- KINDER MACHINES- LOGICPOLE- “A collage of sonic textures.” Hey, I didn’t say it someone else did. Sounds great, huh? www.logicpole.com

PETER BALDRACHI- BACK TO THE START- PRODIGAL SON RECORDS- Boston guy who looks like he could play a sinister criminal is any # of Hollywood films (character actor?). Musically, I thought had been around forever but his first solo record 2006, still though, this is good punchy power pop with plenty o;’ hooks and strong songwriting. Hollywood or a music career? You decide, Peter. www.peterbaldrachi.com

RICK BERLIN AND THE NICKEL & DIME BAND- ALWAYS ON INSANE- WHITEHAUS FAMILY RECORD- Boston “legend” (their words, not mind) who has released his 15th records here and well, I never heard the other 14. This ranges from obnoxious garbage (opener “(I’m a Slut”, “Karaoke”) to catchy, upbeat ska tunes like “Summer Roof” and “Hilary (Galway Girl)”. I’ll give the guy props for sticking it out but otherwise, no t my bag. www.rickberlin.com

BIG SCARY- VACATION- PIEATER- Melbourne (Australia) duo who have apparently made a splash at home and are trying to break here and elsewhere. Quiet/loud dynamic and while I didn’t like it the first time thru further listens have revealed a band with some good pop chops! Yes, I DID just say pop chops.

JHEREK BISCHOFF- COMPOSED- BRASSLAND- Ok, this Seattle-based musician has some famous friends willing to help out on COMPOSED (David Byrne, Caetano Veloso, Nels Cline, Carla Bozulich, etc.). This composed, recorded and mixed by Bischoff sounds beautiful and I’ll end it by calling it pretentious in the best way possible! www.brassland.org

JOE BLESSETT- CHANGING EVERYTHING…- JOE BLESSETT- Geez, 19 songs? Ever hear less is more, Joe? Plus it’s considered “Urban contemporary jazz” so this was sent ot the wrong po box. www.joeblessett.com

BOGAN VIA- WAIT UP- COMMON WALL MEDIA- 6 interesting pop tunes by this Arizona duo of Bret and Medeleine. Yeah, they do sound like Beach House so let’s get that out of the way right now but hey, I like this MORE than the latest B.H. record so how about that. The title track is my pick to click but all 6 of the tunes are worth hearing. www.commonwall.com

BRAINSTORM- HEAT WAVES- TENDER LOVING EMPIRE- Sophomore effort by this Portland bunch who add, yes, ladies a gents, a TUBA!! Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to hear a tuba? At least since the last Neutral Milk Hotel record. These guys are no NMH but they can still write an interesting song and HEAT WAVE has plenty of them. www.tenderlovingempire.com

BROKEN WATER- TEMPEST- HARDLY ART- Olympia trio on their 2nd record (first for Hardly Art) who with their droning, soupy songs immediately reminded me of Sonic Youth (with a touch of defunct Olympia band Unwound) and TEMPEST does nothing to change that and in the best way possible. Which means that TEMPEST is full of terrific songs. www.hardlyart.com

BUFFALO KILLERS- DIG.SOW.LOVE.GROW—ALIVE NATURAL SOUND- If the cover looks like an old Blue Cheer record, well, they are probably an influence on these heavies (and ex-members of Thee Shams) . Record #4 and they still kick out the jams in that mellow-yet-heavy, murky kinda way. Maybe like Neil Young fronting the James Gang. Capiche’? www.aliveenergy.com

CARROUSEL- 27 RUE DE MI’CHELLE- SELF RELEASED- Dream pop/folk band (their description and I can’t do any better) but this Florida duo of Joel Piedt and Brad Harris Fant. Initial listens left me limp but further listens have unveiled layers of beauty initially undiscovered. Diiv in. www.highspeedrecords.bandcamp.com

CHARLIE BIG TIME- DISHEVELLED REVELERS ep- MATINEE- 4 gentle pop tunes from this British duo who previously stuff out on Cloudberry and Series Two. On this record they’re a trio as Trembling Blue Stars’ Beth Arzy adds gorgeous backing vocals to the songs. My faves here are gentle “The Liberation of Love” and the more upbeat “Real Estate.” I hope a full-length isn’t too far off. www.matineerecordings.com

CHATHAM COUNTY LINE- SIGHT & SOUND- YEP ROC- Raleigh, NC quartet who recorded this live record at the Fletcher Opera Theatre around one single microphone. They possess plenty of terrific, heartfelt country/ bluegrass tunes and I’ve missed ‘em far too many times to count. Next time will be different, in the meantime I’ll keep SIGHT & SOUND close to my heart. www.yeproc.com

CHEERS ELEPHANT- LIKE WIND BLOWS FIRE- SELF RELEASED- Catchy indie pop from this Philly-based band who reminded me at times of 60’s smoothies like The Zombies while other times bringing to mind current posters like Real Estate. Regardless, the songs are there and I hope the fan base continues to grow. Cheers! www.cheerselephant.com

COLOSSAL GOSPEL- CIRCLES- AUTUMN TONE- Dreamy Southern Gothic songs from Stephen and Chris. Two guys from, ‘bama who decided to turn their shed into a recording studio. At times sounding like they’re from the heart o’ Dixie and other like, well, a few tunes reminded me of Beach House (no really). I like this and think (know) you will too. www.autumntone.com

HOLMES- COMPLICATION SIMPLIFIED- GROOVE GRAVY RECORDS- 4TH record from Roy Shakked (aka Holmes) and though he is the only member of Holmes the contributor list has many, many folks. The 14 songs on here range from bouncy power pop to more singer-songwriter material (think McCartney). The guy has talent, no doubt, but most of this didn’t tickle my fancy. www.sweetholmes.com

D.O.A.- WE COME IN PEACE- SUDDEN DEATH- Record # whatever from these Canadian legends (#14 actually though it seems like it’s their 30th or so) . Yup, Joey “Shithead” Keithley and umm…the other two guys are still rockin’ n’ reelin’ in Vancouver, BC. It’s political, it’s loud and it rocks, like any good DOA record. www.suddendeath.com

TINI GREY- SHADES OF GREY- SELF RELEASED- Like a Jason Mraz for the older set. Ugh. www.workingbrilliantly.com

 

AUGUST 2012

AUTHORITIES- KUNG PAO AU GO-GO- GET HIP- Stockton, Calif band that existed in the 80’s and early 90’s and apparently (from what I’ve read) never got the respect they deserved. These 13 songs were written back when but recorded in the past few years. I hear a TSOL influence in there. Eh…not bad but not great. www.gethip.com

THE BEACH BOYS- THAT’S WHY GOD MADE THE RADIO- CAPITOL- Well, what did I expect from one of my all-time favorite bands. A bunch of guys who are near 70 years old and 45 years past their prime. Having said all of that, it’s really not so bad (ok, the lyrics ARE bad). If you’re a fan it is worth a listen. www.capitolrecords.com

THE CONSTELLATIONS-DO IT FOR FREE- 429- Hotlanta, GA band who got some good press on their debut a few years ago (SOUTHERN GOTHIC) . Here they return with 11 new songs and they do the soul-pop thing pretty well (my fave is the barroom brawler, “Afterparty”) though a few moments hit the top of the lame-o-meter (“The Ol’ Speakeasy”). Live they could be a hoot. www.429records.com

THE DOC MARSHALLS- LOOK OUT COMPADRE- SELF RELEASED- Nice, organic country bump from a NYC dude name Nicolas Beuadoing (I want that last name as my own). OK, so you don’t see many horses in BKNY but this is the real deal. Pedal steel player too, they always get me. Nice. www.docmarshalls.com

DUNEBUGGY- S/T- LITTLE BLACK CLOUD- Mid-90’s NJ (Hoboken) band who broke up in ’96 with only 4 singles under their belt. This 11 song disc is their proper full-length, though it’s 15 years late. The song titles you do recognize on here are given different treatment with alternate recordings. This is sharp n’ snappy indie pop by a band that should be more well-known than they are. Good shtuff! www.littleblackcloudrecords.com

JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE- NOTHINGS’ GONNA CHANGE THE WAY YOU FEEL ABOUT ME NOW- BLOODSHOT- I was expecting a monster but this isn’t nearly as good as the two records that came before it. Get the brilliant HARLEM RIVER BLUES instead. www.bloodshotrecords.com

EDMUND II- FLOATING MONK- SELF RELEASED- Though Edmund Pellino has collaborated with plenty of folks (The Rosebuds to name one) this is his first full-length. It’s moody, folk pop with lots of beautiful sounds and well-written songs, too. “Riptide” is my fave here. www.mysppace.com/edmundthesecond

ETERNAL SUMMERS- CORRECT BEHAVIOR- KANINE- 2nd full-length by this Virginia duo who whip up a chiming, charming pop racket on CORRECT BEHAVIOR. I completely missed their debut and nearly blew this off but gave it one listen then I had to give it several more. You can’t deny punchy, catchy songs and chewy hooks and there’s plenty of that here. www.kaninerecords.com

GOLDEN BLOOM / THE MICHAEL J. EPSTEIN MEMORIAL LIBRARY- SWAP MEET- SELF RELEASED- In which two terrific NYC pop bands do two of the other band’s songs. GB doing MJ’s “Amylee” is terrific and MJ doing GB’s “You go on and on” is a fave too. BUY IT NOW. www.michaeljepstein.com www.goldenbloom.net

THE HEAVENLY BEAT- TALENT- CAPTURED TRACKS- This is the side project of John Pena who you might know as the drummer for another C.T. band, Beach Fossils. This band has less haze and is more of a straight-up synth pop record with Pena’s whispery vocals. Solid bunch of tunes, too. www.capturedtracks.com

HI ELECTRIC- S/T- EVANGELINE RECORDING CO.- Nice, fuzzy pop from this Memphis trio on a Bay Area label. A few things 1) most of the songs are really good 2) Dave Shouse of The Grifters played on this record, 3) It has a Bruce Licher fold-out cover (he’s the Independent Project dude) and 4) I love the label’s manifesto of “saving the Bay Area from hipster doofism.” Amen. Get this. www.evangelinerecordingco.com

THE HISTORY OF PANIC- FIGHT FIGHT! FIGHT- Catchy electro-pop form Detroit based Gerald Roesser (he used to be a member of Pas/Cal). 11 songs with all meat (tofu) and no filler

THE HIVE DWELLERS- HEWN FROM THE WILDERNESS- K- I wasn’t sure what to expect from K Records kingpin Calvin Johnson at this stage in the game. Beat Happening were awesome but that was 2 decades ago and the Halo Benders has their moments, too. His new band (this is their debut full-length) still has a cool primitive beat and a fun vibe, though I don’t find the songs as engaging as BH’s. Still, it has its moments as “Ride With me” and “Get In” are two of HEWN FROM THE WILDERNESS’ gems. www.krecs.com

JEREMY- GUITAR HEAVEN- JAM- If I had to cont all of the records that Jam Records head honcho Jeremy Morris has released, well, I’m not sure I can count that high. This record is 14 songs of acoustic instrumental music and while that might sound tough to take, it’s not. He’s a helluva guitarist and I hear everything from Leonard Cohen to John Fahey in here. Well done, sir. www.jamrecordings.com

JEREMY- ALPHA OMEGA- JAM- More jams from Jam Records guy Jeremy Morris (see above review). This is a spiritual power pop record, like it John Lennon was singing loves songs to God. Of the 12 songs 3 are over 7 minutes long and one is 14 minutes long (“Hallelujah”). Not my favorite of his records but still a pleasant listen with some strong songs. www.jamrecordings.com

AMANDA MAIR- S/T- LABRADOR-Glossy pop on the debut by this 17 year old Swede. Johan Angergaard (Acid House Kings, Club 98, etc.) wrote most of the tunes and they get help from some other Swedish posters. And while I’m a big fan of most (all) of Angergaard’s bands this left me feeling a bit limp. She has a terrific voice and there’s some good melodies but overall, meh. www.labrador.se

MICHAEL J. EPSTEIN MEMORIAL LIBRARY- FAITH IN FREE- SELF RELEASED- The song “Faith in Free” done in three parts (each one about three and a half minutes long). Not as pretentious as you might think as these guys have some talent. Forget this though, I want a new full-length. www.michaeljepstein.com

MYSTERY JETS- RADLANDS- ROUGH TRADE- Press release says this is the 4th full-length but I never heard the first 3, but now I want to. Most of this is jangly, organic pop with sticky hooks and a real loose fell all the way around. The pic of Texas on the cover is because these Brits recorded this record there (thus making it less synth-poppy , as I’ve read their previous stuff was). Nice

WHITE LUNG- SORRY- DERANGED RECORDS- Howling punk from this Canadian bunch (Vancouver, BC) who know a thing or two about turning on the after burners. 10 songs and vocalist Mish Way knows how to handle a mic. www.derangedrecords.com

THE WHITE WIRES- III- DIRTNAP- Canadian trio (Ottowa to be exact) with their (duh) third record here (2nd for the Dirtnap label). They play a sort-of chunky, punky power pop with Buzzcockian guitars and while the songs are decent to good, it was missing a plethora of hooks that most bands in this genre toss on in overload. www.disrtnaprecs.com

YOUNG PRISMS- IN BETWEEN- KANINE- I think my last review of these guys (their debut record) said something like, “Why are these guys not on Slumberland?!” I could say the same about this sophomore release as this Bay Are bunch go for the gold with a swirling mix of everything that made band like Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and Ride so darn good. 11 songs and not a bad one in the bunch. www.kaninerecords.com

 

JULY 2012

BABY WOODROSE- THIRD EYE SURGERY- BAD AFRO- Psychedelic garage rockers who hail form, you guessed it, Denmark! This is record #6 but honestly, I never heard the other 5. Still, if Hawkwinds tour bus crashing into The Stooges bus filled with Turbonegro members well…you’ll get awfully confused (so just listen). www.badafro.dk

CAFETERIA DANCE FEVER- DANCEOLOGY- HOVERCRAFT- 24 songs by this Portland quartet who specialize in fuzzed-out, off-kilter, off-key, banged-up (want me to keep going?) dance music for the cross-eyed set. If I ever have a party again, these guys are playin’ it. www.hovercraftpdx.com

COMPANY- DEAR AMERICA- EXIT STENCIL- Beards and baseball caps are the order of the day here on this Americana-tinged record. This is not wimpy folky record though (no Fleet Foxes on here) as these guys have no problems stompin’ on fuzz pedals and deliver a truly unique batch of songs that deserve repeated listens. www.exitstencil.com

THE CORDUROY ROAD- TWO STEP SILHOUETTE- SELF RELEASED- Banjo, fiddle, upright bass, that all can only mean one thing, country music! But ah, where is the pedal steel gentlemen? It’s country folk music played by guys who, from what I understand, know how to put on one hell of a show. I believe them. The songs are good and if they make a stop in Denver I’ll make sure to be there. www.thecorduroyroad.com

SAM DENSMORE- (KU-THAR-TIK)- SELF RELEASED- 17 songs (2 eps) from this Portland, Oregon songwriter who seems to dig Michael Stipe. This is a big gulp o’ songs and he probably should have released it as two separate eps but the guy has a good voice and some interesting ideas. www.reverbnation.com/samdensmore

EASTER ISLAND- FRIGHTENED- SELF RELEASED- Hazy, dream pop from Athens, GA and done well, I must say. Opener “Weekend” perfectly sets the tone of the whole records with some lovely guitars and distant melodies. They know how to capture your attention, that’s for sure. Nice. www.myspace.com/easterislandmusic

CRAIG ELKINS- I LOVE YOU- SELF RELEASED- This is the singe for that 90’s Philly band Huffamoose. I never actually heard them (hated the name too much) but this is nice, rootsy kinda pop. Elkin’s voice get a bit whiny for me at time but most of the songs are good. Best song title: “I can’t stop being a dick.” www.craigelkinsmusic.com

T. TEX EDWARDS- INTEXICATED- SAUSTEX- A mix of covers and bent originals on this 19 tunes by thus dude who resembles Jerry Jeff Walker (at least the drawing on the back…maybe it IS JJW?). It`s a real hit or miss affair but they did justice to the Kinks cove of “Death of a Clown.” www.saustexmedia.com

FALLON CUSH- APRIL- SELF RELEASED- Australian 6-piece doing a straight up rock/pop sound in the Tom Petty vein with hooky songs and a crunchy pop feel. Main songwriter Steve Smith seesm to know his way around a hook and this is pretty solid. www.falloncush.com

GABRIEL GANDZJUK- INVISIBLE LION- 4TH STREET RECORDS- Another songwriter for Portland who digs the old timey stuff, dresses sharp and seems to want to emulate songwriters like Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Not a bad place to be and the songs are pretty darn good. My old pal Cory Gray plays horns on this one (Corey plays with everyone). www.4thstrecords.com

B. HAMILTON- EVERYTHING I OWN IS BROKEN- PARKS AND RECORDS- Oakland, CA trio who bring the noise quite admirably on this debut full-length. Ryan Christopher Parks leads the charge here (and the band) and fires the opening salvo on the first tune, “Me and Margaret Counting Countdowns” and an doesn’t stop ‘til the final tune (the title track (“Fixing fucked up shit version”). Amen. www.parksandrecords.com

JASON HEATH AND THE GREEDY SOULS- PACKED FOR EXILE- STILL SMALL RECORDS- Heartland rock only this band is not from the heartland but from LA. In addition to Jason Heath , the keyboardist in the band is keyboardist Jason Federici (he also plays accordion to give the tunes and occasion Pogues feel) who is son of the late E Street Band member Danny Federici. The songs are pretty good but I like the Corduroy Road cd better (see review above) who are doing a similar thing. www.jasonheathandthegreedysouls.com

HEAVY BLANKET- S/T- OUTER BATTERY- Man, I thought that guitar work sounded familiar. It’s none other than J. Mascis. Apparently he had this band before Dino Jr (but maybe after Deep Wound). It’s heavy instrumental stuff. Real heavy as only J. knows how to play. www.outerbatteryrecords.com

SCHUYLER JANSEN- VOICE FROM THE LAKE- SCRATCH RECORDS- Canadian folkie (Saskatoon) who apparently has some other solo records out but this time he’s backed by rock band Foam Lake so the amps get cranked up a bit and there’s more melody than I expected. Co-produced by New Pornos John Collins. www.scratchrecords.com

KANDODO- S/T- THRILL JOCKEY- Simon Price from UK psych band The Heads strikes out on his own here with 9 tunes (ones called “Dagga”) with a droney set of noodly guitar jams. Space rock? Psych rock? Experimental? Mental? Call it whatever and though this kind of stuff normally isn’t my cuppa tea I liked the time and space. www.thrilljockey.com

MYKUL LEE- FORTRESS- SELF RELEASED- Low-key folkie who is now LA based (via Oklahoma) and I do hope his parents gave him that spelling of Michael and he didn’t change his name to that (cos’ if so I’d have to make fun of him). Lots of piano, hushed vocals, brushed drums, the guy has talent but it all begins to sound the same after a while. www.mykulleeparty.com

LITTLE, BIG- PINS AND NARWHALS—SELF RELEASED- If this band is trying to be Siouxsie and the Banshees well, they’re failing miserably. If they’re trying to be someone else…well, then write your own damn review. www.littlecommabig.com

IAN MCGLYNN- NOW WE’RE GOLDEN- SELF RELEASED- Mostly terrific, swirly pop stuff that occasionally reminded me of Nada Surf and The Posies (no surprise that ken Stringfellow produced it). Didn’t like the moodier gunk as much but there’s def. mor of the former . Need to check out his other two records. www.ianmcglynn.com

MICHAEL THE BLIND- ARE’S & ELS- ALDER STREET RECORDS- This dude, real name Michael Levasseur, has been here and there: Athens, GA, Nebraska and now , where else, Portland, Oregon. After three acoustic folk records he goes full-band on this one and the guy can write a tune. Still folky, but rousing and passionate! Good tunes. Go! www.michaeltheblind.com

MORITAT- CLILL BLANZIN- SELF RELEASED- Two guys and a gal from Chicago doing, (I’m gonna hate myself for saying it) Chillwave (there I said it). 8 songs and a few reminded me slightly of Broadcast. www.moritatmusic.com

DAVID RAMOS- SENTO LA TUA MANCANZA- FAKE FOUR- Avant garde (hate that word) folkie electronica. Four words that shouldn’t go together. N0 thank you. www.fakefourinc.com

JENN RAWLINGS & BASHO PARKS- TAKE THE AIR- WATERBUG- Friendly, folksy duo from , where else Portland, Oregon doing the old-timey folky thing. Jen sings and plays guitar while Basho sings as well and plays the violin. Not a ton of variety here but it’s ok, expect to see them at Pickathon next year. www.waterbug.com

RUBBLEBUCKET- LIVE IN CHICAGO- BKNY band doing a set (this includes a dvd of the gig too) at Chicago’s Double Door Saloon. OK, they have a horrible name and I wanted to hate this just based on that but the tunes are a mix of cheese pop and not too bad (I like the horns). Don’t judge a band by its name. www.rubblebucket.com

AMI SARAIYA & THE OUTCOME- SOUNDPROOF BOX- SELF RELEASED- They (“they”) call this stuff cabaret and who am I to argue (I like my Shirley MacLaine). Lots o’ musicians, lots of instruments, good songs and the vocalist (Ami) has an interesting set of pipes. They could/should/might be huge. Maybe. www.amisaraiya.com

THE SHROUDED STRANGERS- LOST FOREVER- IZNIZ- This Virginia duo (Aaron and Mike) formed in the 90’s and released one record in ’99 then called it a day. Until now. Now, based on the left coast (Oakland) and it’s an odd mix: some of it is spacey and experimental while other times soaring and poppy. I like the latter (‘natch) more but still not sure what I think of it all. www.shroudedstrangers.com

SHUTEYE UNISON- OUR FUTURE SELVES- PARKS AND RECORDS- 2nd record by Bay Area quarter who like guitar Nothin’ wrong with that) and there seems to be a Built to Spill influence here (some Sonic Youth, too). Songs take left turns when you expect right ones and these guys seem like the simply wanna play. www.parksandrecords.com

MARIEE SIOUX- GIFT FOR THE END- WHALE WATCH RECORDS- Gorgeous, homespun folk in the Joanna Newsom vein but I like this gal more. Has a whimsical, otherworldy feel without coming off a too twee or cloying. www.whalewatchrecords.com

SONNET COTTAGE- ANOTHER TIME- SELF RELEASED- Virginia trio of sisters Rachel and Torey Rissell (who both sing) while pianist Kent Heckaman holds it all together. Heckaman wrote all the music (lyrics too). The music is breezy and heartfelt and though ti gets a bit samey after a while, you could do a lot worse. www.sonnetcottage.com

SOUTHSIDE STRANGLERS- DEVILLED- SELF RELEASED- I guess you could call this stoner rock (if you want to get beat up) but basically it’s hard rock without much BS or fanfare. It rocks hard and a few of the tunes caught my ear (“The Raw Deal”, “The Blood We Bleed”). Dazed and confused. www.southsidestranglers.net

JENNIE LOWE STEARNS- BLURRY EDGES- SELF-RELEASED- Upstate New Yawka doing hushed, gentle folk with plenty of piano and strong vocals. She’s a talented songwriter to boot. Not your typical , coffee house folkie. “Pale Blue Parka” is my pick to click. www.jennielowestearns.com

STRANGLED DARLINGS- RED, YELLOW & BLUE- SELF RELEASED- Duo of George and Jessica, who, armed with some well-honed pals make a record that sounds like (and it’s been said before) Tom Waits fronting the Avett Bros. I like this kind of stuff more in a live setting than on cd. www.strangleddarlings.com

AMANDA JO WILLIAMS- THE BEAR EATS ME- NEUROTIC YELL- AJW hails from Hogansville, GA and this is her 2nd record. Her voice has an odd, childlike quality to it and I hear plenty of banjo on the record. It’s a mixed bag as some of the songs I couldn’t finish (“Morning Thunder”) while others I loved (“Keep the Animals”). www.amandajowilliamsmusic.blogspot.com

 

JUNE 2012

ALONE AT 3AM- MIDWEST MESS- SUBURBAN HOME/SOFA BURN- Cincy bunch (Go Reds!) with a gravelly-voice singer in Max Fender and an armload of good songs. My pick to click is “Weekends at the Cape” which adds swirling keys (courtesy of Sarah Davis, who also sings on here). If bands like the Drive-By Truckers and the rootsier Gaslight Anthem stuff is your bag then dive in. www.suburbanhomerecords.com


BROTHER JT- THE SVELTNESS OF BOOGIETUDE- SELF RELEASED
- Bethelehem, PA’s favorite son returns with his first record since 2008’s JELLY ROLL GOSPEL (Drag City). And JT (John Terlesky) is still out there confounding all who listen with a mix of sonic experimentation, straight up rock , bent folk and “other.” I miss the Original Sins but this was an exhilarating listen nonetheless. www.brotherjt.com


CFCF- EXERCISES- PAPER BAG
- 8 , minimal, instrumental tracks from Montreal’s Mike Silver (ok, so one has vocals). The songs are all have the word exercise in them along with a different description (ie: “Exercise 1 (entry)”, “Exercise II (school)”, etc.). Soundtrack music to the story of YOUR life. www.paperbagrecords.com


DELICATE STEVE- POSITIVE FORCE- LUAKA BOP
- I don’t get it but then again I don’t “get” Animal Collective or Dirty Projectors, two bands that Delicate Steve Marion gets compared to quite often. Music for musicians? www.luakabop.com


ELEPHANT & CASTLES- TRANSITIONS- PLUG RESEARCH
- This is Bay Area electronic/ trip hop dude David Reep breezing thru 11 ambient soundscapes (I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence). Not really my chosen genre but this dude does it well. www.plugresearch.com


EX DETECTIVES- TAKE MY FOREVER- POST PLANETARY
- Debut record by painter Faris McReynolds (who was in the band One Finger Riot). It’s pleasant music between folkier gunk and some occasional guitar that bite down (ie: “The Crown”). I wish the melodies were a bit stickier. www.postplanetary.com


FAWN- COASTLINES- QUITE SCIENTIFIC
- I like the band name, I like the record title, I like the cd cove and…I like the songs, too! This Detroit quartet reminded me a bit of the New Pornographers with punchy, catchy tunes and songwriting smarts, too. www.quitescientific.com


DOUG GILLARD- CALL FROM RESTRICTED
- 347- Though a few years old (form 2009) this 2nsd solo record form former Death of Samantha.GBV (and current nada Surf 2nd guitarist) is a terrific little rock pop record with sneaky melodies and terrific songs. www.douggillard.com


THE GOBLIN MARKET- BENEATH FAR GONDALS FOREIGN SKY- GREEN MONKEY
- This is Jeff Kelly and Laura Weller both of Seattle’s long running pop/psych outfit The Green Pajamas. As the duo Goblin Market they focus more on haunting, baroque folk and on this record they are inspired by the Bronte Sisters (Wuthering Heights, etc.). 12 songs here, my fave being “The Lock.” www.greenmonkeyrecords.com


HEAVY CREAM- SUPER TREATMENT- INFINITY CAT
- Retro garage rock by a few women and produced by Ty Sergall. Yawn. www.heavycreamband.blogspot.com


THE HOBART BOTHERS (W/ LITTLE SIS HOBART- AT LEAST WE HAVE EACH OTHER
- No sisters at all, this is in fact Jon Dee Graham, Freedy Johnson and Susan Cowsill doin’ a gritty mix of bluesy/r & b/country stompers and masterful folk. It’s a diverse collection for sure as silly as it is serious but well worth a listen. www.thehobartbrothers.com


THE LOVELY BAD THINGS- NEW GHOST- VOLCOM
- Catchy, simple, punky pop songs by these 4 young cats (one of whom resembles the dude from Wavvves…who they have probably opened for).


LEIGH MARBLE- WHERE THE KNIVES MEET BETWEEN THE ROWS- LAUGHING STOCK
- Dark, brooding (and occasionally pissed off) stuff form this Portland singer/songwriter on his 3rd record. Song titles include: “Evil”, “Nail”, “Inebriate Waltz.” Not for the faint of heart. www.leighmarble.com


GRAIG MARKEL- S/T- SELF RELEASED
- Long-running Seattle musician (who’s probably tired of people calling him Craig) with plenty of terrific records out (he is also in a band called Dead Ship Sailing) . This s/t release has 10 gorgeous folk-tinged tunes with Markel’s impassioned vocals and strong guitar playing. Seriously good. www.graigmarkelmusic.com


RICHARD MCGRAW- POPULAR MUSIC- SELF RELEASED
- Robert Downey Jr-lookin’ dude tackles 10 covers including an electro pop version of REO Speedwagon’s “Take It on the Run”, a folky version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” , a dreamy take on Rick James “Party All the Time” plus 2 by Leonard Cohen, a Bob Seger cover and a few others. What can I say, I like this. www.richardmcgraw.bandcamp.com


ME AND CASSITY- APPEARANCES- TAPETE
- Born in New Jersey, raised in Germany and I had no idea that this wandering folkie, Dirk Darmstaedter, had been releasing records on the Tapete label for a decade (had no idea the label has been around for that long). On here there’s nods to Dylan, the Beach Boys , Westerberg , etc.and while he has talent, it’s all a bit too radio-friendly for me. www.tapeterecords.com


MICHAEL & THE LONESOME PLAYBOYS- LAST OF THE HONKY TONKS- SELF RELEASED
- For a genre that I sure made fin of a lot I have really come to love country music (the real stuff). Michael & the Lonesome Playboys are the real deal. Pedal steel, heartfelt vocals, a real focus on songcraft. 14 honky tonk classics! www.rocknrollpoet.com


RHETT MILLER- THE INTERPRETER: LIVE AT LARGO-MAXIMUM SUNSHINE
- I thougth that this was a new record but found out otherwise (released in late 2011). Anywho, Old 97-er Rhett here tackles a bunch of covers in a live setting with only his acoustic guitar. He offers his takes on tunes by Petty, Dylan, Simon, The Kinks, The Pixies, Wilco, etc. I like Rhett, you should too. www.maximumsunshinerecords.com

NEVEREVER- SHAKE-A-BABY- SLUMBERLAND
- 5 more tunes form Slumberland’s only LA band (I think). Like their lp form last year, they’re still shaking along with a cool, retro pop sound (sorta Pipettes-ish). Most of my pals don’t seem to like ‘em, I do though. www.slumberland.com


PRIMA DONNA- BLESS THIS MESS- ACETATE
- LA 5-some doing a warmed over mix of Motley Crue, Green Day (who apparently they toured with according to the sticker) and TSAR (but not nearly as catchy). This isn’t terrible or anything but way to much pomp and circumstance and not enough hooks for me, www.acetaterecords.com


FRANKIE ROSE- INTERSTELLAR- SLUMBERLAND
- In which we see Frankie abandoning the girl group sound that she helped perfect (being a member of the Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls) and delve heavily into synth pop (think New Order) and even some space rock. It took a little while but these songs really grew on me and I’m glad I continued listening. www.slumberlandrecords.com


THE SEXY ACCIDENT- YOU’RE NOT ALONE- SELF RELEASED
- It seems like these Kansas City moodies just sent me something to review but here’s a new ep (3 songs where they got Steve Fisk to produce and I do like these songs more than that last thing I heard by them. I loved the 1920’s crackle of “I’m Just Trying to Help (me like you- redux)”. The hard work is paying off. www.sexyaccident.com


SHAKE THE BARON- GHOST HITS- SUPER DUPER
- Nice, mid-tempo jangly songs by this band I had never heard of before. From the cover thought it might be a Captured Tracks band but no GO. Vocalist Andrew Odell has a nice set o’ pipes while guitarist Jon Markson can spew the jangle. Good tunes, too. www.shakethebaron.com


THE SHINS- PORT OF MORROW- COLUMBIA- Honestly, The Shins lost me on that last record, WINCING THE NIGHT AWAY. On this, their 4th record, it seems more of the same, which is to say pop songs not nearly as good as those first two (classic) records. Aw well. www.columbiarecords.com


THE SOFT HILLS- THE BIRD IS COMING DOWN TO EARTH- TAPETE
- Seattle bunch who, one first listen, will bring to mind the gentle folk sounds of a band like Fleet Foxes but if you listen more closely these guys add some electronics but their harmonies are just as good as the ‘foxes. Not sure why some bands “make it” and some don’t but these guys sure should. www.tapeterecords.com


STANDARD FARE- OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF TOWN- MELODIC-
ERIC TOLLEFSON- THE POLAR ENDS- SELF RELEASED
- Half folk/half jam band dude who’s got a full band behind him and wows the crowd in Bend, Oregon. Strictly for the Dave Matthews crowd,. www.erictollefsonmusic.com


TORCHE- HARMONICRAFT- VOLCOM
- I wanted to hate this record or being some lunkhead , heavy metal piece of crud but these Floridians, while heavy (and heavy handed, at times) can lay down some good melodies. I could have done without the goofy lead guitar crap but I gotta say, I was at least partially impressed. www.volcom.com


WHITE ARROWS- DRY LAND IS NOT A MYTH- TURNOUT
- Bouncy trip hop with gurgling synths, percolating rhythms and a few nods to Vampire Weekend. I could probably like this a lot of I listened to it more as it is now, I only kinda liked it. www.votiv.is

MAY 2012

ALONE AT 3AM- MIDWEST MESS- SUBURBAN HOME/SOFA BURN- Cincy bunch (Go Reds!) with a gravelly-voice singer in Max Fender and an armload of good songs. My pick to click is “Weekends at the Cape” which adds swirling keys (courtesy of Sarah Davis, who also sings on here). If bands like the Drive-By Truckers and the rootsier Gaslight Anthem stuff is your bag then dive in. www.suburbanhomerecords.com

BROTHER JT- THE SVELTNESS OF BOOGIETUDE- SELF RELEASED- Bethelehem, PA’s favorite son returns with his first record since 2008’s JELLY ROLL GOSPEL (Drag City). And JT (John Terlesky) is still out there confounding all who listen with a mix of sonic experimentation, straight up rock , bent folk and “other.” I miss the Original Sins but this was an exhilarating listen nonetheless. www.brotherjt.com

CFCF- EXERCISES- PAPER BAG- 8 , minimal, instrumental tracks from Montreal’s Mike Silver (ok, so one has vocals). The songs are all have the word exercise in them along with a different description (ie: “Exercise 1 (entry)”, “Exercise II (school)”, etc.). Soundtrack music to the story of YOUR life. www.paperbagrecords.com

DELICATE STEVE- POSITIVE FORCE- LUAKA BOP- I don’t get it but then again I don’t “get” Animal Collective or Dirty Projectors, two bands that Delicate Steve Marion gets compared to quite often. Music for musicians? www.luakabop.com

ELEPHANT & CASTLES- TRANSITIONS- PLUG RESEARCH- This is Bay Area electronic/ trip hop dude David Reep breezing thru 11 ambient soundscapes (I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence). Not really my chosen genre but this dude does it well. www.plugresearch.com

EX DETECTIVES- TAKE MY FOREVER- POST PLANETARY- Debut record by painter Faris McReynolds (who was in the band One Finger Riot). It’s pleasant music between folkier gunk and some occasional guitar that bite down (ie: “The Crown”). I wish the melodies were a bit stickier. www.postplanetary.com

FAWN- COASTLINES- QUITE SCIENTIFIC- I like the band name, I like the record title, I like the cd cove and…I like the songs, too! This Detroit quartet reminded me a bit of the New Pornographers with punchy, catchy tunes and songwriting smarts, too. www.quitescientific.com

DOUG GILLARD- CALL FROM RESTRICTED- 347- Though a few years old (form 2009) this 2nsd solo record form former Death of Samantha.GBV (and current nada Surf 2nd guitarist) is a terrific little rock pop record with sneaky melodies and terrific songs. www.douggillard.com

THE GOBLIN MARKET- BENEATH FAR GONDALS FOREIGN SKY- GREEN MONKEY- This is Jeff Kelly and Laura Weller both of Seattle’s long running pop/psych outfit The Green Pajamas. As the duo Goblin Market they focus more on haunting, baroque folk and on this record they are inspired by the Bronte Sisters (Wuthering Heights, etc.). 12 songs here, my fave being “The Lock.” www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

HEAVY CREAM- SUPER TREATMENT- INFINITY CAT- Retro garage rock by a few women and produced by Ty Sergall. Yawn. www.heavycreamband.blogspot.com

THE HOBART BOTHERS (W/ LITTLE SIS HOBART- AT LEAST WE HAVE EACH OTHER- No sisters at all, this is in fact Jon Dee Graham, Freedy Johnson and Susan Cowsill doin’ a gritty mix of bluesy/r & b/country stompers and masterful folk. It’s a diverse collection for sure as silly as it is serious but well worth a listen. www.thehobartbrothers.com

THE LOVELY BAD THINGS- NEW GHOST- VOLCOM- Catchy, simple, punky pop songs by these 4 young cats (one of whom resembles the dude from Wavvves…who they have probably opened for).

LEIGH MARBLE- WHERE THE KNIVES MEET BETWEEN THE ROWS- LAUGHING STOCK- Dark, brooding (and occasionally pissed off) stuff form this Portland singer/songwriter on his 3rd record. Song titles include: “Evil”, “Nail”, “Inebriate Waltz.” Not for the faint of heart. www.leighmarble.com

GRAIG MARKEL- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Long-running Seattle musician (who’s probably tired of people calling him Craig) with plenty of terrific records out (he is also in a band called Dead Ship Sailing) . This s/t release has 10 gorgeous folk-tinged tunes with Markel’s impassioned vocals and strong guitar playing. Seriously good. www.graigmarkelmusic.com

RICHARD MCGRAW- POPULAR MUSIC- SELF RELEASED- Robert Downey Jr-lookin’ dude tackles 10 covers including an electro pop version of REO Speedwagon’s “Take It on the Run”, a folky version of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” , a dreamy take on Rick James “Party All the Time” plus 2 by Leonard Cohen, a Bob Seger cover and a few others. What can I say, I like this. www.richardmcgraw.bandcamp.com

ME AND CASSITY- APPEARANCES- TAPETE- Born in New Jersey, raised in Germany and I had no idea that this wandering folkie, Dirk Darmstaedter, had been releasing records on the Tapete label for a decade (had no idea the label has been around for that long). On here there’s nods to Dylan, the Beach Boys , Westerberg , etc.and while he has talent, it’s all a bit too radio-friendly for me. www.tapeterecords.com

MICHAEL & THE LONESOME PLAYBOYS- LAST OF THE HONKY TONKS- SELF RELEASED- For a genre that I sure made fin of a lot I have really come to love country music (the real stuff). Michael & the Lonesome Playboys are the real deal. Pedal steel, heartfelt vocals, a real focus on songcraft. 14 honky tonk classics! www.rocknrollpoet.com

RHETT MILLER- THE INTERPRETER: LIVE AT LARGO-MAXIMUM SUNSHINE- I thougth that this was a new record but found out otherwise (released in late 2011). Anywho, Old 97-er Rhett here tackles a bunch of covers in a live setting with only his acoustic guitar. He offers his takes on tunes by Petty, Dylan, Simon, The Kinks, The Pixies, Wilco, etc. I like Rhett, you should too. www.maximumsunshinerecords.com

NEVEREVER- SHAKE-A-BABY- SLUMBERLAND- 5 more tunes form Slumberland’s only LA band (I think). Like their lp form last year, they’re still shaking along with a cool, retro pop sound (sorta Pipettes-ish). Most of my pals don’t seem to like ‘em, I do though. www.slumberland.com

PRIMA DONNA- BLESS THIS MESS- ACETATE- LA 5-some doing a warmed over mix of Motley Crue, Green Day (who apparently they toured with according to the sticker) and TSAR (but not nearly as catchy). This isn’t terrible or anything but way to much pomp and circumstance and not enough hooks for me, www.acetaterecords.com

FRANKIE ROSE- INTERSTELLAR- SLUMBERLAND- In which we see Frankie abandoning the girl group sound that she helped perfect (being a member of the Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls) and delve heavily into synth pop (think New Order) and even some space rock. It took a little while but these songs really grew on me and I’m glad I continued listening. www.slumberlandrecords.com

THE SEXY ACCIDENT- YOU’RE NOT ALONE- SELF RELEASED- It seems like these Kansas City moodies just sent me something to review but here’s a new ep (3 songs where they got Steve Fisk to produce and I do like these songs more than that last thing I heard by them. I loved the 1920’s crackle of “I’m Just Trying to Help (me like you- redux)”. The hard work is paying off. www.sexyaccident.com

SHAKE THE BARON- GHOST HITS- SUPER DUPER- Nice, mid-tempo jangly songs by this band I had never heard of before. From the cover thought it might be a Captured Tracks band but no GO. Vocalist Andrew Odell has a nice set o’ pipes while guitarist Jon Markson can spew the jangle. Good tunes, too. www.shakethebaron.com

THE SHINS- PORT OF MORROW- COLUMBIA- Honestly, The Shins lost me on that last record, WINCING THE NIGHT AWAY. On this, their 4th record, it seems more of the same, which is to say pop songs not nearly as good as those first two (classic) records. Aw well. www.columbiarecords.com

THE SOFT HILLS- THE BIRD IS COMING DOWN TO EARTH- TAPETE- Seattle bunch who, one first listen, will bring to mind the gentle folk sounds of a band like Fleet Foxes but if you listen more closely these guys add some electronics but their harmonies are just as good as the ‘foxes. Not sure why some bands “make it” and some don’t but these guys sure should. www.tapeterecords.com

ERIC TOLLEFSON- THE POLAR ENDS- SELF RELEASED- Half folk/half jam band dude who’s got a full band behind him and wows the crowd in Bend, Oregon. Strictly for the Dave Matthews crowd,. www.erictollefsonmusic.com

TORCHE- HARMONICRAFT- VOLCOM- I wanted to hate this record or being some lunkhead , heavy metal piece of crud but these Floridians, while heavy (and heavy handed, at times) can lay down some good melodies. I could have done without the goofy lead guitar crap but I gotta say, I was at least partially impressed. www.volcom.com

WHITE ARROWS- DRY LAND IS NOT A MYTH- TURNOUT- Bouncy trip hop with gurgling synths, percolating rhythms and a few nods to Vampire Weekend. I could probably like this a lot of I listened to it more as it is now, I only kinda liked it. www.votiv.is

 

APRIL 2012

ARCHER BLACK- FORGIVENESS IS A WEAPON- POST PLANETARY- Former Autumns guy Dustin Morgan returns with an odd collection of , well, I guess you could call it orchestral pop since there’s like 100 musicians on the record but it’s weird, arty and moody. I didn’t hear one song on here that I wanted to hear a 2nd time. www.postplanetary.com

BUILDINGS- MELT CRY SLEEP- DOUBLEPLUSGOOD- Mpls trio who roar out of the gate on the opening song, “Rainboat” and pretty much don’t take a breath until the end. The songs reminded me a bit of another Twin Cities band named Husker Du though their songs on this aren’t as melodic. Other times it reminded me of The Unsane at their most jarring. Bring the earplugs. www.doubleplusgoodrecords.com

CANYONS -KEEP YOUR DREAMS- MODULAR- Sydney, Australia duo who might fall under the synth-pop umbrella but that’s a mighty big umbrella as elements of psych, prog, Krautrock, electronic and the like pop up more often than not. Not my bag but acid gobblers will eat this stuff up. www.modularpeople.com

THE COPPER GAMINS- S/T- SELF RELEASED- 2 dudes, 5 songs, a huge White Stripes influences and all of the writing on the cd , except for the song titles, is in Spanish. Real raw and primitive. They cover a Mississippi John Hurt song and do a traditional “Old Lady Sittin’ in the Dining Room.” Did I say this was RAW? www.saustexmedia.com

ANI DIFRANCO- WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? – RIGHTEOUS BABE- Record #16 from Ms. DiFranco and first one in three years. Same old Ani. www.righteousbabe.com

ELIKA- ALWAYS THE LIGHT- SAINT MARIE- Elektra pop duo form, where else , BKNY. M83 comparisons are fairly accurate though Elika’s songs aren’t as good. They have the sound down now let’s work on the tunes. www.saintmarierecords.com

LUX- WE ARE NOT THE SAME- SELF RELEASED- Seattle duo of David and Leah and judging by the cover I thought it was gonna be a goth mess that I was going to hate. Surprise though, this is nice fuzzed-out , melodic pop . I hear a definite Jesus and Mary Chain influence (they also cite Sonic Youth, New Order and others) and they do a Black Tambourine cover! Surprise!

MARK MANDEVILLE & THE OLD CONSTITUTION- S/T- NOBODY’S FAVORITE- New England guy Mark is joined here by pal Rianne Richards as well as a cast of players (aka- The Old Constitution) including dobro, pedal steel, piano etc. The sound is a real home spun country record with terrific songs. www.nobodysfavoriterecords.com

MANOOGHI HI- SILENCE- MOWLAWNER- Eclectic Pac NW band who were described as more than a few reviews as “prog rock meets indian rhythms. I’ll pass. www.manooghihi.com

NIGHT GENES- LIKE THE BLOOD – SELF RELEASED- Idahoian Eric Ingersol apparently traveled the world to record this latest record. The songs are downbeat and low key and his vocals out Nick Cave even the man himself. It’s not bad but not really my bag. www.nightgenes.com

ONE FINGER RIOT- COME DRAG ME DOWN- POST PLANETARY- No, not a punk ban but just the opposite . Moody, oddball pop done by one man, Faris McReynolds. It has some electronics and synth work and at times reminded me of Starflyer 59. Meh. www.onefingerriot.com

OY VEY- RECESSION GIRLS- SELF RELEASED- Sophomore effort by two New Hampshire dudes who came out of the womb together (or damn close to it) and create a dark , brooding homage to the 80’s with glittery electro pop. It could be a soundtrack to a movie that you wish had a better soundtrack. www.ovveyband.com

ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS- THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL- FIRE- This was released on the Smog Veil record several years back and no it gets its own reissue. This pre-Pere Ubu band cut its teeth in Cleveland back in the 70’s and on here they cover The Stooges, Stones, Velvets and probably a few other. Good n’ grimy and well-worth hearing. www.firerecords.com

SAD LITTLE MEN- I’LL BE THE OCTOPUS- SELF RELEASED- Heavy percussion from this Portland (who I’d never heard of) who reminded me at times of Claps Your Hands Say Yeah. The oddball rhythms and flat vocals just didn’t do it for me. www.sadlittlemen.com

SILVERHAWK- THE FOREST FOR THEE TREES- SELF RELEASED- Folky/country stuff that any fan of Grams Cosmic Americana could certainly appreciate. It’s not all cosmic though as a few tunes they crank up the fuzz, but good (“So Complex”, etc). www.myspace.com/silverhawkband

ABBY TRAVIS- IV- EDUCATIONAL RECORDINGS- Hollywood native who was once in the Lovedolls and has seemingly played with everyone. She has 3 previous records that I never heard but this one, the one she calls her “glam” record has some nice classic rock nods as well. No song titles listed on my advance copy but tune 3 sure was nice. www.abbytravis.com

WATER LIARS- PHANTOM LIMB- MISRA- These 10 songs recorded by St. Louie native Justin Kinkel-Schuster’s were done in 3 days. It sounds like Neil Young on both the heavier stuff as well as the more low-key acoustic material. He pours his heart and soul into these tunesand thye deserve your attention (as well as your hard-earned dough). www.waterliarsmusic.com

 

MARCH 2012

THE 2 BEARS- BE STRONG- DFA- Dance music by one guy for, Hot Chip (Joe Goddard) and his pal (Raf Rundell) and they dig deep through a few decades of dance music, rap, dub, electronic, pop, etc. for a truly unique stew. My pick to click os “Bear Hug” but this whole thing is solid. www.dfarecords.com

BHI BHIMAN- BHIMAN- BOOCOO MUSIC- The son of Sri Lankan immigrants, reared in St. Louis and weaned on Seattle grunge music. Bhiman thankfully didn’t go that generic route and instead followed his own muse into a sort of hybrid Dylan territory with folk leanings and a unique voice. Interesting. www.bhibhiman.com

BLACK GIRLS- HELL DRAGON- WORTHLESS JUNK RECORDS- Richmond, VA bunch who instead of grinding you down the some punk rawk instead go for a more polished soul/pop sound but have the tunes to back it up. The record covers are a bit tweaked too, just the way I like it. www.worthless-junk.com

CARSIE BLANTON- IDIOT HEART- SELF RELEASED- This sassy Philly-based gal (who’s lived all over the country, apparently leaving home at 16 for the west coast) has a bit of Caitlin Rose’s sweet voice inside her and like Ms. Roses she has the tunes and confidence to keep movin’ forward. Well done, my dear. www.carsieblanton.com

DROWNER- S/T- SAINT MARIE- You normally don’t think of Houston as being a hotbed for atmospheric/shoegaze stuff but that is where this band hails from. Leader Darren Emanuel’s guitars speak many languages while vocalist Anna Bouchard drifts into Liz Fraser territory. Dreamy. www.saintmarierecords.com

FIRE IN THE HOLE- (SARA ISAKSSON & REBECKA TURNQVIST)- SING STEELY DAN- ZIP- Two Swedish gals tackle a few songs from the Steely Dan catalog (ok, they do 12). It’s basically their voices and a few different pianos so it give the songs a bit of a haunting feel. I dig their versions of “Do It Again” and “Gaucho.” www.ziprecords.com

DOUG GILLARD- SALAMANDER- PINK FROST/BIG TAKEOVER- I think I reviewed this one a few years back as well (see Occasional Flickers below) this is former Death of Samantha/GBV dude Doug showing his songwriting side with 14 well-crafted pop tunes with a range of emotions. Dig in and make sure you have the proper cutlery. www.bigtakeover.com

JENNY GILLESPIE- BELITA- NAROOMA- Gentle, enchanting folk in the Maria Taylor vein. At times her voice gets a bit too coffeehouse for me but she’s got talent. 5 songs. www.jennygillespie.com

HEY ENEMY- THE WRONG SONGS TO RIGHT WRONGS- PREDESTINATION- A flaming drum kit on the cover and a band named Hey Enemy can only mean one thing…metal! OK, so this UK bunch aren’t exactly metal, it’s more like noisy, punk/metal/blues and while not my thing, they do have a song called “Uncle Shingles” so that was cool. www.heyenemy.com

JONQUIL- POINT OF GO- DOVECOTE- The UK’s version of Vampire Weekend. They claim influenced from both Earth, Wind & Fire AND The Smiths and that is a-ok with me. www.dovecoterecords.com

THE LIFE- ALONE- GREEN MONKEY- Long forgotten Seattle band that was named “Best new NW band in 1987” but I have to admit that during that year they were not on my radar. This is a 2-cd set that features their long lost debut as well as a 17-song second disc that was gonna be their 2nd record. Basically hard rock with some moody overtones and solid songwriting. www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

THE OCCASIONAL FLICKERS- SCATTERED SONGS BY…- PLASTILINA- I think I may have reviewed this one about a year or so ago, not sure but hey, it’s on the Plastilina label which is a mark of quality. I think the band is one guy from Greece making some pleasant, light-hearted pop music. The guy knows a sticky melody and what to do with it, too . www.plastilinarecords.com

RALFE BAND- BUNNY AND THE BULL (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)- GHOST SHIP- This is nice….a soundtrack to a movie I have never seen (apparently directed by Paul King of the Mighty Boosh fame). It’s real laid back with lots of piano but also strings an horns, almost sounds like it could have been done by Calexico. I need to rent the movie now. www.bunnyandthebull.com

KAYLN ROCK- PASSENGER- SELF RELEASED- Talented singer/songwriter from NY who doesn’t forget the importance of the song. What I mean is that she doesn’t drone on and on like a lot of folk singers do. Plenty of variation to go along with the talent and some strong arrangements, too. www.kaylnrock.com

SICK FRIEND- THE DRAFT DODGER- BIRD AND FLAG- Wasn’t sure what to expect out of this duo with the random name but these two know how to write a good pop tune. One sings and plays guitar while the other plays synth and drums and I like it more than the black keys, so there. www.birdandflag.ca

Kidd Oblivion reviews, March 2012

KEVIN ABERNATHY – SCRAP METAL BLUES – SELF – Busch-league blues-rock from three old white guys. A ‘Flying V’ covered in tinfoil? Really? Not even trying…

ASTRONAUTALIS – THIS IS OUR SCIENCE – FAKE FOUR – An unsettling mix of slick pop and strip-club backing tracks with white-boy from Florida “rapping” over it. I think you know what I think of this.

ALERT NEW LONDON – YOUTH – SELF – It took 5 people 15 months in 6 studios and (literally) 39 effects pedals to make this record, which James Baluyut could’ve crapped out by himself, drunk, over one weekend - as a joke.

ABBIE BARRETT – THE TRIPLES VOL. 1 – SELF – Three completely unremarkable ‘female singer-songwriter’ tracks that drag on long enough to make it feel like a full-length disc. Behold, the artist!

BIG TREE – THIS NEW YEAR – SELF – Try to imagine Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians playing outtakes from Sting’s “Dream of Blue Turtles” album, but trying to make you believe it sounds like Fleet Foxes.

BUILT LIKE ALASKA – IN TROUBLED TIMES – FUTURE FARMER – Clean, toothless indie-pop that grew up on Earlimart and Death Cab and is tailor-made for hip TV show end-credits.

CHRISTINE COCHRAN – SOMEONE I’LL NEVER MEET – SELF – Absolutely dreadful, fake, affected female pop that is straight outta 1994, complete with embarrassingly bad lyrics that range from Buddhists to plastic surgeons, tattoos, TV shows and ‘when her lease is up.’ Seriously, who fucking cares? Insulting.

DUCHESS SAYS – IN A FUNG T – ALIEN – A French-Canadian incarnation of the Kills, Death Set and Land of Talk squeezed through the Six Finger Satellite filter with an affinity for the B-52’s as well as babes in Toyland. Fucking rips! Congrats on making the first decent record of this issue!

EAST BAY RAY – THE KILLER SMILES – MVD AUDIO – I can not slag East Bay Ray because the Dead Kennedys were definitely important to me growing up, and his guitar playing is totally influential to tons of punk bands. So, I’ll just say this: I was hoping for more.

EX NORWEGIAN – SKETCH – DYING VAN GOGH – 4 words: Hot Chick Bass Player. Note for the next record: Bongos have no place in indie-rock. That is all.

GLOSSARY – LONG LIVE ALL OF US – LAST CHANCE – 1988 Elvis Costello covering 1986 John Mellencamp. Your call.

GOOD INTENTIONS – SOMEONE ELSE’S TIME – BORONDA – Americana/country from Liverpool England. Buy this for your boss or any one of your middle-aged friends – they’ll love it.

GRAND ATLANTIC – CONSTELLATIONS – SELF – Anthemic, Australian indie-rock recorded in an abandoned insane asylum that sounds like Nada Surf meets the Screaming Trees! I like it despite the fact that they sold a song to “Gossip Girl.”

JOHN WESLEY HARDING – THE SOUND OF HIS OWN VOICE – YEP ROC - DAD MUSIC.

IRIE TIME – IN ANOTHER TIME – INHERENT – Hey everybody! C’mon and say it with me! IT’S IRIE TIME, MON! Woohoo!!!

JUPE JUPE – REDUCTION IN DRAG – SELF – 40 year-olds trying to make music for “the kids” that ends up sounding like a limp, hollow husk of Depeche Mode.

KENSINGTON – BORDERS – ZIP – A Dutch version of Interpol, if Interpol could actually sing.

LADYBIRDS – SHIMMY SHIMMY DANG – DEPARTURE – Nice dose of rock-a-billy skronk here akin to the Detroit Cobras, Knitters, Holly Golightly, Denise James and Cave Catt Sammy. Just enough clean, and just enough grit.

MILK CARTON KIDS – PROLOGUE – SELF – Roots-y acoustic duo that are basically fay, male impersonators of Gillian Welch. They found the need to list the models and years of their acoustic guitars in the liner notes, as well as who “cares for them.” Subsequently, I had to hate them.

MOMMYHEADS – DELICATE FRICTION – DROMEDARY – For the record, I didn’t like their corny, ELO/Queen pop back in the 90’s and I still don’t. Isn’t it bad enough that we must continue to endure the likes of They Might Be Giants and Of Montreal? Enough already.

PALADINO – S/T – SELF – Straight-up Americana that’s every bit as good as John Doe’s last offering and way better than the last Eddie Spaghetti’s last record for sure. Plus, they have a cute chick playing upright bass, so there you go. I’m sold.

JESSE PAYNE – BUFFALO – CAPTURE – Exceedingly listenable combo of Americana and subtle indie-pop. There’s a little twang, a little ‘high lonesome,’ and a distinct but pleasing singing voice all of which are recorded impeccably. I like this a whole lot more than Bonnie Prince Billy. Very nice.

PEOPLE GET READY – S/T – QUITE SCIENTIFIC – David Byrne told me to like this so I do.

SHIRK CIRCUS – THIS BAND WILL DESTROY YOUR LIFE – DROMEDARY – Ah, the pride of Nutley, NJ… Years ago I was in a band with a complete fucking asshole guitar player and we played a show with these guys. There’s even a picture from that gig in the insleeve to this thing! Hahaha. Well anyway, back in the day we would call this “alternative” or “college rock,” though I don’t know what you’d call it now. I DO know that they recorded the basic tracks in 1996, the vocals in 2007 and it’s been released in 2011, so what does that tell you about this record? Also keep in mind that they opened for my shitty band, so that doesn’t bode well either.

SMALL SUR – TONES – SELF – Hushed indie-pop that is lush and gorgeous hailing from my home-town of Baltimore, MD. This fine group is very reminiscent of a Low and Red House Painters mash-up – in the best possible way. Guest turns by the Wye Oak folks and a warm, crystalline recording quality make for a lovely listen. Well done, home-ys.

JESSE SPARKS – EP – LUCK MEDIA – Ooh, a grammy nominee! Oh boy. To be blunt, this is a breathy, unremarkable, pseudo-sexy, adult-contempo lounge act with a bass player named Warlock and a singer who is “sponsored” by a cosmetics company. Seriously, get the fuck out of this magazine.

STRATOCRUISER – SPARK – ZIP – Here are some dead-giveaways that a record is gonna be awful: 1. Absolute afterthought, disc-makers cover art (honestly, made zero effort). 2. Bald drummer with a goat-tee and two bass drums (someone’s compensating). 3. Song titles like “adult situations,” “pray love remember,” and “best actress.” 4. The press kit states that the band is popular in “major markets” like the Jersey Shore. 5. The band name is Stratocruiser. You’re welcome.

TOTAL BABES – SWIMMING THROUGH SUNLIGHT – OLD FLAME – Punchy, blown-out pop-punk that’s on par with Harlem, nearly lives up to the Ergs and wipes the floor with Wavves. Great band name too, bravo.

VICTORY AND ASSOCIATES – THESE THINGS ARE FACTS – SEISMIC WAVE – These guys love “anthemic” punk rock as much as they love Kickstarter! They wrote 11 “anthems” on this record! And one of the “anthems” is for Occupy Wall Street! The main theme of their “anthems” is to “get tough, and get through it!” Thanks for all of those “anthems” V&A! What would I have done without you guys?

WHISKEY SAINTS – 24 HOURS – UNEMPLOYED – Los Angeles’ answer to the Bottle Rockets with lyrics written by a 14 year old. (I’m guessing.)

REBECCA ZAPAN – NEST – SELF – Super cutesy, ukulele-driven hipster-mom-folk. (Yet again, I invent a genre and will get no credit for it.) Anyway, Rebecca is a sweetheart and a lot of the record is quite pleasant, but it also makes me feel a little puke-y. You know what I mean? A little too sweet and cutesy.

ZOLA JESUS – CONATUS – SACRED BONES – Electronic, teenage-girl goth music that would be perfect for a Prom full of sad girls with horn-rimmed glasses and retainers who all got stood up by their dates.

JANUARY 2012

13 GHOSTS- GARLAND OF BOTTLE FLIES- SKYBUCKET- Moody, Birmingham, AL band who you can’t really call “alt country” (even if you want to). Some of the song leave me limp but others bring it home like the epic “I Have Brought Fire” and the schizoid “Wicked Drink.” I want to dig their entire records but never do but….they still intrigue me. www.skybucket.com

THE STEVE ADAMYK BAND- FOREVER WON’T WAIT- DIRTNAP- The name might conjure up images of a bad blues band but nope, this is typical Dirtnap fare which = good! Catchy, zippy songs with plenty of hooks and some cajones, too. www.dirtnaprecs.com

BENEATH WIND AND WAVES NON-ETRE- SELF RELEASED- Folk pop with beats and an ethereal quality to it. It’s the work of Shawn Lawson Freeman and at times reminded me of both Elliott Smith and Sparklehorse though not as good as either. But not bad. www.shawnlawsonfreeman.com

BING SELFISH- SELFISH WORKS- MESSTHETICS/HYPED2DEATH- This is 1982 release (originally a split between the El Frenzy and Noise Method labels) that Chuck from H2D found 125 original vinyl copies of (with “numbered, new jackets”). The music is unique and unpredictable with flourishes of horns. Oh sure, there’s guitars, bass and drums too, but those almost seem like an afterthought. You won’t hear much like it this year or any year, really. www.hyped2death.com

THE BRANDT BRAUER FRICK ENSEMBLE- MR MACHINE- KT- Minimal soundscapes from a German trio known for minimal soundscapes. They’re talented, they’re unique but not my thing. www.k7.com

BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE THE SINGLES COLLECTION 1992-2011 – A RECORDS- 22 song spread out over 2 discs by this , well, I guess you could call ‘em an institution (in more ways than one). The band is Anton Newcombe’s vision and h d no idea they’d been around for 20 years! The guy always amazes me with all of the amazing songs he’s written, many of them on here. No, really (start with opener “She Made Me” and keep on going). www.brianjonestownmassacre.com

BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS- S/T- AQUI ESTAMOS- Nice bouncy pop gunk with a hint of rootsiness to it. From Raleigh, NC. 4 songs. www.aquiestamosrecords.com

COLOR RADIO- ARCHITECTS- MAPLESS- Swirly pop with an experimental edge to it. In the Blonde Redhead vein. www.myspace.com/colorradio

DEATHTRAP AMERICA- S/T- SELF RELEASED- He has a Mohawk and a slim goatee while she dresses in black and has lots of tattoos but surprisingly the music the two create is pretty normal gritty rock. www.myspace.com/deathtrapamerica

ROBERT DEEBLE- HEART LIKE FEATHERS- SELF RELEASED- Seattle-ite who recorded here in Portland at Type Foundry (w/ Adam Seltzer and Dylan Magierik) with a host of musicians. They’re essentially folk songs with evocative acoustic guitars, shuffling drums, meowing cello and Deeble’s expressive vocals. Gorgeous. www.robertdeeble.com

JON DEROSA, ANCHORED ep- SILBER- I read a review where the reviewer compared DeRosa (of the band Aarktica) to UK tunesmith Richard Hawley (one of my faves) and he was spot on with that comparison (though hailing from 2 very different places). Then I noticed on this ep that DeRosa covers The Chills (another all-time fave) here, doing justice to “Submarine Bells.” Beautiful. www.silbermedia.com

DARE DUKES- THUGS & CHINA DOLLS- STARLAND- Savannah, GA traveler who definitely has a Sufjan Stevens flavor to him (plenty o’ banjo) though I’m not into Duke’s vocals (too squeaky). Still though, the subject matter is interesting and the song swill take you places throughout the deep south. www.daredukes.com

GRAND & NOBLE- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Punchy duo (though they add drums and lead guitars on about half the tracks) as Jon Elling sings and strums while Scott Stukel adds piano, bass, keys and strings and they can shift from plaintive one moment to gunning it the next. The songs are good and these two may be goin’ places. www.grandandnoble.net

GROSS MAGIC- TEEN JAMZ- FAT POSSUM- Horrible cover art, surprised it’s on the F.P. label, honestly. Anywho, this is the work of one dude, Sam Somethingorother form Brighton, England who has a bit of a Marc Bolan fixation…and maybe an Ariel Pink one , too. The songs are catchy as all get out but are they good? Umm…lemme get back to you. But they ARE catchy. www.fatpossum.com

MARK HOLLAND (JENNYANYKIND) ROUGH CUTS- MACKPAD- This is Mark from Jennyanykind (also Jule Brown) offering up 11 laid-back pop cuts with jangly guitars and relaxed rhythms (Dean Wareham helps out a bit here). Mark plays nearly everything on here and the songwriting isn’t rough at all but top notch. www.myspace.com/mrkholland

HONEY HONEY- BILLY JACK- HONEY HONEY/LOST HIGHWAY- Nope, not form the wilds of West Virginia or Tennesseee but from good old L.A. The duo of Suzanne and Ben create some nice down home tunes with her honey-voiced pipes and his well-worked banjo. It has a real old world feel and it totally works. www.losthighway.com

HUMAN SWITCHBOARD- WHO’S LANDING IN MY HANGAR ANTHOLOGY 1977-1984- BAR-NONE- Unique Ohio band who a pal gave me a vinyl copy of years ago and they deservedly, finally get a reissue treatment. You’ll hear elements of bands like the Velvets, Joy Division, Pere Ubu (David Thomas produced some of their stuff) Talking Heads, Burma, Pylon etc. with their oddball rhythmic stew that has more pop hooks than you’d think. Essential. www.bar-none.com

THE HORRIBLE CROWES- ELSIE- SIDE ONE DUMMY- Not nearly as good as the Gaslight Anthen. www.sideonedummy.com

ICARUS HIMSELF – CAREER CULTURE- SCIENCE OF SOUND- New band from, National Beekeeper Society’s Nick Whetro. I’m not always sure what the guy’s on about but he has seriously love for Bowie and quite frankly. Doesn’t give shit what you think of him. And, come to think of it, neither do I. G’night.

THE KING KHAN EXPERIENCE- SCION A/V PRESENTS- SCION AUDIO VISUAL- Not sure if this is a real release or what (I found a bunch of freebees of it) but it is the same Khan from BBQ and the Shrines. This 9-song collection lacks the caveman wildness of those previously mentioned outfits. It was free so I:m not gonna bitch too much and live they probably(hopefully) still deliver but this just seems really….normal. www.scionav.com

KNOCK ‘EM ALIVE- THE ADVENTURES OF JOHNNY GRAVITY- STOOP DREAM- This is the work of one guy, John Q. Gruber and he has a few other records out (that he has been nice enough to send me). This is a 3-song cd with a bonus track. Opening cut “You Still Listen to Disco” has a radio announcer intro then bursts into nice 70’ss pop while the other 3 cuts are all unique in their own right (and hooky!). Nice. knockemalive@gmail.com

JENS LEKMAN- AN ARGUMENT WITH MYSELF ep- SECRETLY CANADIAN- Jens is the consummate entertainer (especially in a live setting) and while this 5-song ep isn’t his best work this is completey worth it for the rollercoaster title track (“New Directions” is darn good, too). www.secretlycanadian.com

LONEY DEAR- HALL MUSIC- POLYVINYL- A more stripped down, moodier affair on the 5th record by Swede Emil Svarnagen. Personally I like the grander music (especially on LONEY, NOIR and DEAR JOHN). When I reach for one of his records, it will be one of those. www.polyvinylrecords.com

LOS LOBOS- TIN CAN TRUST- SHOUT FACTORY- Absolutely horrible. www.shoutfactory.com

THE LOWER 48- WHERE ALL MAPS END- SELF RELEASED- Wow, this Portland via Mpls trio (2 dudes and a girl) really impress on this, their debut full length. Strummy acoustic guitar with strong vocal harmonies really impress and the songwriting is straight from the heart. “Into the Woods’ and “Interlude I” are my two faves but not a bad song on here. www.thelower48.com

THE MAMA’S AND THE PAPA’S- IF YOU CAN BELIEVE YOUR EYE AND EARS- SUNDAZED- Not sure how long this has been out of print but once again the mighty Sundazed brings it again. Classic reissue in a nice fold out digipak and liner notes form David Fricke (though I don’t, believe any extra songs). www.sundazed.com

ROY MOLLER- PLAYING SONGS NO ONE’S LISTENING TO- THE BEAUTFUL MUSIC- Scottish guy on a Canadian label playing music that is uniquely American! Moller apparently grew up in Edinburgh but these 10 songs waver between 60’s garage pop and more Americana influenced gunk. The songwriting is strong and boy do I love that old-school organ. www.thebeautofulmusic.com

MARCO PANELLA- IN THE AGE OF BATTERIES- AUGER DOWN- Off-kilter pop from a unique lyricist but his vocals are…well, not very good. The whole things seems bit off but he probably wants it that way. Wait, what was I talking about again?

EDWARD ROGERS- PORCELAIN- ZIP- I have always liked British expat Edwards work in the Bedshit Poets. I have always wanted to like his solo material just as much but always come up short. PORCELAIN is a pleasant collection of 11 songs some spare and sad (“Nothing Too Clever” while he has some fun with the others (“Love with the World”). Solid, but not stupendous. www.ziprecords.com

ROLLO TIME- VICTIMS OF THE CROWN- SELF RELEASED- Sophomore effort by this Chicago (Downer’s Grove, actually) band led by the talents of Jon Raleigh who never met a Beatles song he didn’t like. The songs/tempos vary but most are mid-tempo and hooky with nods to the Fab Four as well as others more recent stuff (I hear some Pulp in there, I swear). “Sick and Tired” is my fave here but there’s plenty to like, really. www.rollotime.com

SAVAGING SPIRES- S/T- CRITICAL HEIGHTS- Hmm…..here is an interesting little record. Not sure what to make of it, exactly. I hear droney guitars, far away voices, loops, cello, acoustic guitars and the like. Apparently an air of mystery surrounds the band and no one knows who they are. Hmm…. www.criticalheights.com

SKYTONE- SHINING OVER YOU- THE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC- These 10 songs from this Canadian (Ottawa) band are all over the pop map. The band isn’t afraid to add different elements into the tunes. The record opens with the straight rock/pop “We Are One” while “Rat Race” adds some Northern Soul and “Never No Never” adds some hints of reggae. Not bad but not my fave TBM release. www.thebeautfulmusic.com

SOLEY- WE SINK- MORR MUSIC- Delicate electronic pop from this Swedish gal (full name: Soley Stefansdottir) who is a member of Seabear and Sin Fang (don’t worry, I haven’t heard of them either). The vocals are certainly unique, sorta like a Swedish Lisa Germano with higher pitched piercing while the musical backdrop is a mix of electronic and acoustic. Compelling to say the least. www.morrmusic.com

DEVON SPROULE- I LOVE YOU, GO EASY- TIN ANGEL- Coffee house piano folk pop that seems a bit too weird for the normies to like but not odd enough for the freaks to dig so that leaves this Canadian female off and able to follow her own muse. Which she does. She has a lovely voice. www.tinangelrecords.co.uk

THE SYLLABLE SECTION- IMPROVISATIONALS ep- SELF RELEASED- The work of one dude, Matthew T. Marquardt who obviously makes music for himself as this is as experimental as it gets. These are compositions not songs, pal. syllablesection@gmail.com

TODAY THE MOON, TOORROW THE SUN- WILDFIRE- GREYDAY- Moody, atmospheric dance rock./pop that is minimal one moment then swirling and full the next. They do it well but not my bag. www.greydayrecords.com

TURF WAR- YEARS OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY- OLD FLAME- What was once a solo project from singer John Robinson turned into a full fledged band. The band hails from Atlanta, got Ian from the Black Lips to produce and upchuck 11 catchy garage rock tunes. The songs are easy to like and I’ll bet live they blow the doors off. www.oldflamerecords.com

EVAN VOYTAS- FEEL ME- DOVECOTE- 5 songs from this rural PA guy gone all L.A. on us. Sorta right in between where Of Montreal meets Prince. That falsetto…oh, that falsetto. www.dovecoterecords.com

WESLEY WOLFE CYNICS NEED LOVE TOO – ODESSA- North Carolina dude who recorded every note of these 10 songs by himself (and apparently lathe cut each vinyl; copy on his own machine (??!!). It wavers between downtrodden folk and some chirpier pop (“Stranded with You”) plus some icier, moody gunk as well. Worthy of a listen or 10. www.odessarecords.com

YOUNG ANTIQUES- A MAN, NOT A BIOGRAPHY- TWO SHEDS- I dunno but Atlanta seems to currently be the bullseye for garage, punky poop stuff and this bands fits right in. They have a few other records out but this I the first I’ve heard ‘em. At times unhinged like the Black Lips and others more mid-tempo doing a sorta Springsteen thing (“Biography”). Most of the songs are worth hearing. www.twoshedsmusic.com

YOUTH LAGOON- THE YEAR OF HIBERNATION- FAT POSSUM- The work of one guy out of Boise, Idaho, Nathan Powers. You’ll hear some o the fragility of a Perfume Genius) with a dash of Sparklehorse (esp. in Powers’ vocals) but with a hint of psych and a good pop sensibility. Umm….did that make sense? If not then I’ll sum it up by saying it’s good. www.fatpossum.com

ZOUNDS- THE REDEMPTION OF ZOUNDS- OVERGROUND- Apparently an old Rough Trade band (began in 1977) centered around the talents of anarcho punk Steve Lake. The band’s sound sounds more regular work though a bit grittier than the usual fare but you have Lake’s bent ramblings to give it some flair. Not a great record but a solid one nonetheless and definitely worth a listen. My fave here is the soaring “Supermarche.” www.overgroundrecords.co.uk

Kidd Oblivion Tells you the truth…

ABYSSAL CREATURES – SOCIAL AWKWARDNESS – SELF – A clumbsy, clunky mix of limp twee-pop and horrible club/dance music. I have decided to rename them “Abysmal Creatures.”

ABSTRACT ARTIMUS – RITE OF PASSAGE – DIRE LIFE – Music = a JV version of KISS and poorly recorded Black Sabbath. Vocals = a JV version of Skynyrd and Crash Test Dummies.

ALKALINE TRIO – DAMNESIA – EPITAPH – I always thought these guys were the Al Kaline Trio which would be much cooler than this, but oh well… This music is well-suited for reality TV background tracks or frat-house rape parties.

ANAM MILA – RESET – SELF – Pseudo-intellectual, female adult-contemporary soft-rock that is preachy, whiny and incredibly annoying. This is the kind of girl that thinks going apple-picking is fun.

NICOLE ATKINS – MONDO AMORE – RAZOR & TIE – Normally I would make some snarky comment about the radio-friendly over production of songs obviously written with the intention of being bought and sold commercially, but this chick looks fucking crazy, and she’s from Asbury Park, NJ so I’m not sayin’ shit.

THE BERRYS – FAIRMOUNT STATION – UNKNOWN – Dear Berrys: the Continental Drifters want their record back.

BLACK WIDOWS – LIVE ON KXCU – VITAL GESTURE – Killer, agro surf-rock played by guys who always wear black hoods? Abso-fucking-lutely!

BOY+KITE – GO FLY – SELF – Incredibly well recorded and mixed record by these Austin youngsters that effortlessly merge’s old and new-school indie-rock into a big Pavement-Death Cab-Ride-Broken Social Scene sandwich. Helluva debut.

JC BROOKS & THE UPTOWN SOUND – WANT MORE – BLOODSHOT – Super solid Chicago soul. (That’s some alliteration bitches.) Dig it.

CHOCOLATE HORSE – BEASTS – STABLE – After 20 or some-odd years of writing for various fanzines I think I’ve earned the right to categorically refuse to review a band that decided to call themselves Chocolate Horse.

CIVIL TONES – CITY STOOPIN – PRAVDA – Meters/Booker T rip-off that doesn’t come close to the likes of the Diplomats of Solid Sound or the New Mastersounds’ impersonation of this music. Go buy Booker T Jones NEW Lp instead – it kills.

COMET GAIN – HOWL OF THE LONELY CROWD – WYR – Whoa, the CG is still around!? No shit? Well lemme tell you, they throw down some excellent, catchy guitar-indie-pop circa 80’s New Zealand-style on this slab! Immediately recalled the likes of the Bevis Frond, Verlaines, Chills, Vaselines and even a little Axemen. Nicely nicely.

DOWNPILOT – NEW GREAT LAKES – TAPETE – More sullen, boner-killing music by some band who once had a song on the “One Tree Hill” TV show. I fell asleep while it was playing, awoke angry and had to immediately start drinking gin to counter-act this record.

THOMAS DOLBY – A MAP OF THE FLOATING CITY – TRANSMEDIA – Everyone’s favorite goggle-wearing, fart-synth master has returned from the 1980’s with a new slab of milk-toast drivel that is LITERALLY the soundtrack from a video game, and is peppered with lyrics like “she sold brassieres at Sears.” No, I’m not kidding.

FOREST FIRE – STARING AT THE X – FATCAT – Just because a band played a show with the Walkmen (once) doesn’t mean that that band is any good. It just means they probably know someone in the Walkmen. For the record, I don’t like the Walkmen either. So there.

GLAMBILLY – WHITE BBQ SAUCE – SAUSTEX – Hilarious Texas bar-rock band that look like the Goo Goo Dolls and aren’t worth the gum stuck to the Reverend Horton Heat’s boot. The only saving grace is that the bass player rocks a DiPinto bass, which still doesn’t make up for their stupid name or leopard skin collars.

GOLD BEACH – HABIBTI – SP – Hey Gold beach, did you ever hear the saying “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus?” Well, it’s solid advice and you should try it sometime. Also, you can’t use the word “Beach” in your name anymore – too many bands have already done that.

HALLOWEEN ALASKA – ALL NIGHT THE CALLS CAME IN – AMBLE DOWN – Hollow, apathetic rip-off of Postal Service or +/- by four dudes who obviously prefer Sting’s solo records to any indie records their girlfriends must play for them. Yawn.

JIM JONES REVUE – BURNING YOUR HOUSE DOWN – PUNK ROCK BLUES RECS – Above average bar-rock that really wants to be like Jon Spencer’s Heavy Trash but just doesn’t quite cut it. They seem to be really into “rocking.”

THE LINDSAY – DEEP IN THE QUEUE – ANYWAY – This record was a great surprise blast of scratchy indie anthems straight outta Columbus OH. The Lindsay take their cues from 60’s staples like the Who, the Standells and the Creation and mash them together with current favorites like Times New Viking, 11th Dream day and the Asteroid #4 - all to great effect. Yessir I approve.

ROBIN O’BRIEN – THE EMPTY BOWL – LUXOTONE – Suburban mom strums Lilith Fair-esque “soul stylings” in the coffee house located in the dead strip-mall of her doomed suburban town.

THE PACK A.D. – UNPERSONS – MINT – Girl-On-Girl White Stripes.

PERILS OF PENELOPE – THIS PRODUCT IS NOT A TOY – GAW BASTARD – This is old school, 3 piece, instrumental math-rock a la Del Ray, Polline, Very Secretary, Mercury Program, Faraquet etc. I like.

PINE HILL HAINTS – WELCOME TO THE MIDNIGHT OPRY – K – Campfire songs for white people with Masters degrees.

PINEY GIR – JESUS WEPT – GREY DAY – Sorta-slick girl-country like Cheryl Crow doin Wanda Jackson covers.

GABRIEL MILLER PHILLIPS – ONE FOR THE CROW – SELF – Eric Matthews for people who don’t like Eric Matthews. There are some creepy-cool moments on this that are worth checkin out.

PROPHETS AND KINGS – S/T – SELF – Hazy, drum-programmed indie-disco that’s perfect for drug-addled, bi-sexual, ADD 20-somethings to grind to. I’m old, I’ll pass.

THE QUALIA – MEMORIAL GORE – UNKNOWN – I like and respect the fact that this guy started a band in order to counter-punch all of the Dave Matthews-style bands that existed in his town. I also like his obvious affinity for Devo, Wall of Voodoo and Oingo Boingo. However, he sounds exactly like the singer from They Might Be Giants which kinda wrecks it for me. Pretty good synth-pop though folks…

REMORA – SCARS BRING HOPE – SILBER – Electronic Gothic Folk Sludge. I just invented a new genre.

RICH ROBINSON – THROUGH A CROOKED SUN – CIRCLE SOUND – This is the uppity younger brother/guitarist from the Black Crowes and while this record is thin, predictable and fairly terrible, it’s still waaaaaaaay better than anything the Crowes have crapped out over the last 10 years.

SAMIAM – ORPHAN WORKERS – NO IDEA – This is a collection of outtakes, live cuts etc. from these late 90’s arena-punkers. I never paid any attention to the slew of bands that got signed after Green Day made it big, so this was actually new to me. It’s funny to think that a major label paid for this! Anyway, if you like that “sound/style” then this will probably make you all nostalgic for Woodstock ’94. Plus, the band’s “personal thoughts” written in the liner notes make them seem like swell guys. Golly, isn’t punk rock nice.

MARK SULTAN – WHATEVER WHENEVER – IN THE RED – Straight-up and stone-cold beach/garage rawk from one half of King Khan and the BBQ show. Kills.

ROCKY VOTOLATO – TRUE DEVOTION – BARSUK – Acoustic-based indie singer-songwriter fare. If you like the early Josh Rouse or Matt Pond stuff crossed with the bleakness of a Bonnie Prince Billy album, then you will gladly cry in your beer while this record revolves in the background.

 

DECEMBER 2011

SCOTLAND BARR & THE SLOW DRAGS- WE WILL BE FORGOTTEN- SELF RELEASED- Portland musician Scotland Barr (Scott Barr Moritz) died last year of pancreatic cancer but this 2-cd collection shows his superb talent for writing alt-country gems. Disc 1 is Barr’s vocals while disc 2 is a slew of guest vocalists and their cosmic Americana touched many folks in the Portland area and beyond. RIP Scotland. www.scotlandbarr.com

BLACK GIRLS- S/T- WORTHLESS JUNK- A hearty/heady brew of glam, soul and disco from 6 dudes who call Richmond, VA home. For fans of Of Montreal. www.worthless-junk.com

CAMILLE BLOOM & THE RECOVERY- NEVER OUT OF TIME- SELF RELEASED- Talented Seattle-ite who is very difficult to pin down. One moment she’s rocking your sock off while at other times she’s darker and more pensive. Not totally my cup of tea, but I will say one thing, she is talented and never seems willing to go the easy route. www.camillebloom.com

BODIES OF WATER-TWIST AGAIN- THOUSAND TONGUES- This LA band led by David Metcalf and his wife Meredith, are not afraid to take chances. This is a nice mix of grand pop (that was more present on their earlier records) and something a bit more off-kilter. “Mary , Don’t You Weep” Is a perfect example of the latter (when David sounds a bit like Bowie/Ferry). Give this one time and gems will slowly unveil themselves. www.bodiesofwater.net

MIKAL CRONIN- S/T- TROUBLE IN MIND- SF dude who plays bass in the Moonhearts and is pals (and a collaborator) with Ty Segall (Thee Oh See’s John Dwyer plays flute on this) who has released an electic little record here, Beach Boys one minute into fuzzier territory the next. Not sure why it took me so long to listen to it but I’m glad I did, it’s good. www.troubleinmindrec.scom

DIGITALISM- I LOVE YOU , DUDE- V2- Dance music with big, fat hooks and plenty of attitude. I’d call it neo-electro but I don’t know what neo means,. Just buy it.

DUBOIZA KOLEKTIV- WILD WILD EAST- KOOLARROW- A mix of reggae, hip hop and Balkan music. I wish I was kidding. www.koolarrow.com

HOT CLUB MURPHY- 12 MINUTES AT THE….- HYPED2DEATH- Chuck (H2D Prez , CEO and janitor) digs under every nook and cranny to find these obscure bands. This bunch, led by Robert Storey existed in the UK in the early 80’s and this is available as a 7” (limited to 457 copies) . The music? Well, what you might expect from former members of The Homosexuals and This Heat: rumbling, crispy, creepy, cascading and , well interesting to say the least. Come on, be adventurous! www.hyped2death.com

THE ICONS- APPOINTMENT WITH DESTINY- GREEN MONKEY- Seattle bunch who have apparently been around for years (or maybe just got back together). Some of it sounds a bit clunky (like the opener “You’re the One”) but then some sounds awesome (like the ripping “X-Ray”) and most of this falls into the latter category. I dig the parody of the old Groundhogs record, too. www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

LITTLE DRAGON- RITUAL UNION- PEACEFROG- Basically a vehicle for Swedish-Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano who has been recording (and guesting on other folks records) for the last decade. This is a melding of r & b, soul, electronic and new wave and on top of it all is Nagano smooth-as-frosting vocals. Not my thing but probably a lot of folks (thing,). www.peacefrog.com

NATURAL CHILD- 1971- INFINITY CAT- Stoner garage psych rock from 3 young dudes who obviously love the green (no talking about money here). Tongue-in-cheek this may but , but still not as good as Blue Cheer. www.infinitycat.com

NEXT STOP: HORIZON- WE KNOW EXACLTY WHERE WE ARE GOING- TAPETE- Please wake me when this is over. www.tapeterecords.de

OHBIJOU- METAL MEETS- LAST GANG- 3rd record by this Toronto-based – 6 piece (started by two sisters) . Ok, despite the title there’s no metal here (big sigh of relief) on the contrary, this is swoony, folky pop music that swirls and gleams. I was in no way prepare for this, this is good, I wasn’t expecting good. www.lastgangentertainment.com

PEOPLE LIKE US & WOBBLY- MUSIC FOR THE FIRE- ILLEGAL- The two folks involved in this (Vickie Bennet who is People Like Us and John Leidecker who is Wobbly) are apparently two very well respected sound collage artists. I have not heard of them but then again, I know very little of that scene. This record is 17 “songs” with tape loops, samples, voice and the like. Interesting. www.illegal-art.net

SLOPES OF DISTANT HILLS- S/T- LUXOTONE- This “band” is the work of one, guy, Andrew Maurer, armed with his voice, acoustic guitar and a keyboard he creates 11 musical nuggets. It’s really easy to like as most o it is pleasant and melodic. I like it an think you might too. www.luxotone.com

THE SOFT MOON- TOTAL DECAY ep- CAPTURED TRACKS- After a relatively poppy debut record Luis Vasquez returns with 4 more songs only this time the mood is much darker. Here bent synths stick their necks out and this is definitely more Suicide than Joy Division. The song titles are as follows; Repetition, Alive, Total Decay, Vision. Good luck getting some sleep tonight, www.capturedtracks.com

THE SPECTRALS- BAD PENNY- SLUMBERLAND- More jangly goodness from the Slumberland label. This is the work of UK music geek Louis Jones who plays everything on here ‘cept drums which were played by Will Jones, who may be related to him. Produced by former Spacemen 3 dude Richard Formby and Stephen Duffy designed the cover. Come on people, is that not enough name dropping to get you to purchase it? You need more? Ok, Louis has frizzy, flaming red hair (songs are good, too). www.slumberlandrecords.com

THE STRANGE BOYS- LIVE MUSIC- ROUGH TRADE- Austin, TX cowpokes who let go of the grunting scorch that greased through their first two records for a more r & b soaked affair. This time there’s more piano but the tunes still move thanks to a cohesive unit and let’s not forget Ryan Sambol’s slurred, hiccupy voice. Lots to like here but “Punk’s Pajama” is my my fave. www.roughtraderecords.com

SUPREME DICKS- BREATHING AND NOT BREATHING- JAGJAGUWAR- Eclectic bunch of freaks who slid under the radar for years and I thought would have been long forgotten about but am damn glad they aren’t . The music is that strange meeting place of frazzled noise, gong head psych and freaky folk but they make it work. All of it. www.jagjaguwar.com

TWIN SISTER- IN HEAVEN- DOMINO- I’m still trying to figure out why some folks like this. www.dominorecordco.com

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO CANDYLAND- KNOWS YOUR SINS- RECESS- This is Todd formerly of FYP and Toys that Kill (and the head of Recess Records) new band. Well, not so new anymore but thisese15 songs choogle by in 35 minutes and along the way you’ll hit elements of punk, garage, indie rock, surf and the like. A thoroughly entertaining listen….this is excellent! www.recessrecords.com

WILD FLAG- S/T- MERGE- Better than Sleater-Kinney and Helium combined (but not The Minders). Looser, catchier and more fun and live, they all dance, shimmy and shake (‘cept Janet) and it’s a blast. The record is merely good but live is where they really deliver. Ok, that my 2 cents. www.mergerecords.com

 

NOVEMBER 2011

BLITZEN TRAPPER- AMERICAN GOLDWING- SUB POP- On the 6th record by this Portland bunch they dive headfirst into , gulp, ……70’s boogie rock. They do a good job of it and who knows, if I gave this more listens I might even fly the Foghat flag (doubt it , though). www.subpop.com

THE CHERRY BLUESTORMS- TRANSIT OF VENUS- ROUNDHOUSE- This LA trio has been at it for a few years and tho’ this record is from 2007 It’s still worth reviewing in this batch of new reviews. Vocalist/percussionist Deborah Gee has strong yet sleek vocals (think Chrissy Hynde, at times) while guitarist Glen Laughlin eeks out righteous riffs that are a cool mix of rock, pop and psych. Tune in but don’t drop out. www.thecherrybluestorms.com

DELICATE CUTTERS- SOME CREATURES- SKYBUCKET- Sophomore effort from this female-led band who took their name form a Throwing Muses song. It’s unique art pop with lots of fiddle and vocalist Janet Simpson’s unique confident wail. Well worth your precious time. www.skybucket.com

DIRTY MITTENS- HEART OPF TOWN- MAGIC MARKER- This Portland band, who had only self-released an ep about 5 years ago, return with their debut it they head in a different direction on HEART OF TOWN. Exploring avenues of soul and dance pop. I miss the playful spirit of their earlier days but on “This Here Year” (and a few others) it does make a return. Also, I’m hit and miss on Courtney Morrissey’s vocals on this record (“Let It Go” = miss). Not sure about this record yet. www.magicmarkerrecords.com

THE GREEN PAJAMAS- GREEN PAJAMA COUNTRY- GREEN MONKEY- Yup, this is the same Seattle band led by Jeff Kelly who have been at it for nearly 3 decades and had records out on Parasol to Green Monkey to Camera Obscura (not just a band). This has the band tackling , yup, country music but adding their own otherworldly slant to it and it’s REALLY good. Believe it. www.thegreenpajamas.net

JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT- HERE WE REST- LIGHTNING ROD- Though I’m a big Isbell fan I didn’t get this (released in April 2011) ‘til recently. It’s great. www.lightningrodrecords.com

IVY- ALL HOURS- NETTWERK- For me Ivy have always been a diamond in the rough, a sophisticated pop band that only cool people (and no idiots) liked. On here, their first record since 2005, they delve more into the electronic dance pop that they had previously only touched upon on other records. It’s not my bag and I miss the sprightly pop (which makes an appearance here on “Make It So Hard” ) of prior records. Hope it’s not another 6 years in between records. www.nettwerk.com

THE Ks- RED NUMBERS RISING FASTER- SELF RELEASED- Ok, any band that had s a full-time sax (alto , no less) player qualifies as a party band. This NYC bunch like to have fun and can also rock your socks off. The songs are pretty goofy, but fun and occasionally have some bite. My favorite song: “Black Bubblegum.” www.theksband.blogspot.com

BRIAN KEENAN- TODAY THIS YEAR- SELF RELEASED- Local boy makes good. This is the solo debut from Proud Simon’s main songwriter Keenan. It’s a solid listen all the way through with a few excellent songs (opener “From Scratch:” is great). Both he and his band need more listeners and more respect as both are severely underrated. www.briankeenan.com

THE LAST CONSPIRATORS- WARPARTY- DRM- his band is led by former Morons vocalist (and Sundazed Records employee , Tim Livingston. He’s been on the scene forever and you can tell as the 10 songs on WARPARTY range from gutsy punk to more jagged post punk to more bluesy/psych (“American Son” sounds like it colulda benena Love cover) while “Crash” slinks into elements of dub. This was released in 2007 but regardless, a fine, fine listen. www.lastconspirators.com

LITTLE HORN- 12- WHALE HEART- Gritty folk form an Atlanta band who should go on tour with Brian Keenen (see above). Just do it, it might be a funky adventure.

MALE BONDING- ENDLESS NOW- SUB POP- Another older release (came out in March) but this smokes. From the name I was expecting some gritty post punk but this is smooth, melodic rock ala Fluf (remember them?) that really does rock. www.subpop.com

THE MIGRANT- AMERIKA- SELF RELEASED- A Danish gent named Bjarke Bendtsen was so enamored of America that he showed up her with an acoustic guitar strapped to his back and not much else. Traveled around , played shows and, oh yeah, recorded a record in Texas. This is dreamy pop with airy melodies and a real sense of pouring his heart out (for reals). www.themigrant.net

AARON NOVIK- FLOATING WORLD VOL. 21- PORTO FRANCO- A 21-song cycle based on the lives of oddball souls and freaks that call San Francisco home. Though you may think SF has yupped out these last several years (it has0 there’s still several nooks, crannie and pockets of these guys. From pop to prog, FLOATING WORLD VOL. 1 is if nothing an interesting and dedicated listen. www.portofrancorecords.com

NUCULAR AMINALS- S/T- K- One of the newer K bands (on Portland) so I assumed that they were gonna be some sorta wacked out noise ensemble but this band actually creates smooth, melodic pop and most of this is really good. Opener “Bob Flanagan” is excellent while 2nd tune “Ammut Eat” was murky and just ok. The record goes up and down like that but the good stuff good. Good. www.krecs.com

OTHER LIVES- TAMER ANIMALS- TBD- Oklahoma bunch (you might think they’re from NY or LA or something) who tackles some pretty grand ambitions on this sophomore effort. On these 11 songs the strings swoon , horns slink and the whole thing come off like some oddball spaghetti western lost classic. On the boring parts they remind me of Coldplay but don’t worry, there’s only a few of those. www.tbdrecords.com

THE QUAGS- PRICELESS GRAINS OF SAND- PAISLEY POP- I somehow lost track of these Portland Beatles/Byrds/Kinks disciples (not sure how, we’re in the same town) but they’ve still got it…and in spades! PRICELESS GRAINS OF SAND kicks out 11 terrific guitar pop nuggets that would make Ray Davies proud. Songwriter Dennis Mitchell is way, way underrated and this deserves your undivided attention www.paisleypop.com

THE RATIONALES- THE DISTANCE IN BEWTWEEN0- SELF RELEASE- This low-key Boston band released a fine record a few years ago (THER GOING AND THE GONE from 2008) that made me take notice and this here is just as good, maybe better. Punchy rock/pop song punctuated by sticky hooks and confident vocals of leader David Mirabella. Don’t miss. www.therationales.com

RED EYE FUGU- WATCHERS- SELF RELEASED- Someone , who was listening much more intently than I was, called this “high concept electro funk.” Fair enough. www.redeyefugu.tumblr.com

ARI SHINE- GHOST TOWN DIRECTORY- BEVERLY MARTEL- This is kinda punchy rock music and not sure why I don’t like it but I don’t. I think it’s the cocky sounding vocals. I’m not gonna get all bearded rock critic on you (‘cos for one I don’t have a beard), just not my cup o’ tea. www.arishine.com

SHIPWRECK- HOUSE OF CARDS ep – SELF RELEASED- I judged the band on their first song that sounded like bad Co. or something (I don’t like Bad Co.) . It gets better from there though the whole “RIYL: Pavement and Neutral Milk Hotel” still has me baffled. www.shipwreckband.com

SLEEPING IN THE AVIARY- YOU AND ME, GHOST- SOS- It’s really hard not to like this band. First off, they have a real sense of goofiness which mean they don’t take themselves too seriously but then you really listen and they can rock! And write damn good pop songs! Listen to “Love Police” or “Someone Loves You” and tell me you don’t like them,. Go ahead, do it. www.sleepingintheaviary.com

SNAILHOUSE- SENTIMENTAL GENTLEMAN- WHITE WHALE/FORWARD MUSIC GROUP- This is the long-running side project of (Canadian band) Wooden Stars dude Mike Feuerstack just keeps on keeping on and they do it in such a low-key way you wonder why Feuerstack even bothers, but we’re glad he does as these 10 fine rock ditties (that waver between heavy and spare) are certainly worthy of your time. www.snailhousemusic.com

SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS- ZOMBIFIED- KUDZU- Right on time for last week’s Halloween this is SKOTS tribute to their beloved b-grade horror flicks. I have to admit though, while I love this North Carolina’s band twangified sound and have for years, the songs on ZOMBIFIED were a tad on the dull side. It ain’t bad bit it’s not DIRT TRACK DATE ,either (still won’t miss ‘em live if they come to town) . www.kudzuranchrecorders.com

STILL FLYIN- NEU IDEAS COMPILATION- LOST AND LONESOME RECORDING CO- This is a 9-song compilation of all of the vinyl releases that this San Francisco band (led by Master of the Obvious, Sean Rawls) released last year. Unlike 2010’s superb NEVER GONNA TOUCH THE GROUND this is moodier with forays into dance and even Krautrock. Not as catchy as previous stuff but still unique and interesting. www.lostandlonesome.com.au

WEEKEND- RED ep- SLUMBERLAND- Bay Area trio who released the strong SPORTS lp last year come back with 5 more shards of feedback-driven rock. The opener, “Sweet Sixteen” is pure dentist drill roc but “Hazel” adds lots more melody and closer “Golfers”, at nearly 6 minutes (and a murky beginning) , steals the show! www.slumberlandrecords.com

YUKON BLONDE- FIRE/WATER EP -DINE ALONE- Folks who’re compiling a contemporary version of a 1972 milk crate stuffed with Crazy Horse/Byrds/Buffalo Springfield/Steve Miller records have another contender in this brief, beefy four-song set from the Vancouver, Canada-based quartet. But, wait: “School Kids” and “Choices” mix the more contemporary flavor of anthemic choruses, a strident beat, and Brandon Scott’s clean, juicy guitar shreds with those influences. My preference is for the rock-spiked earthiness of “Water,” which is unaffectedly lovely. It takes everything it needs from the Phil Spector book of effects; leaving the excess for others. www.yukonblonde.com MARY LEARY

V/A- THE ROCK GARAGE: TEXAS LIVE CONCERT SERIES- SELF RELEASED- Rawk comp from the Lone Star State that includes Nashville Pussy, Hickoids, Ugly Beats, Dashriprock, Pocket Fishrmen and plenty more. The guitars are loud, the room sweaty and the beer flowing. G’night. www.therockgarage.com

V/A- SWEET RELIEF VOL II: HEARTS ON FIRE- JAM- Stellar power pop comp that’s for a good cause (“for victims of hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters”) that includes Jeremy (Morris, who put it all together), DM3, Grip Weeds, Seth Swirsky, Cosmic Rough Riders, Lolas, The Primary 5, and plenty more. Support the cause! www.jamrecordings.com

 

OCTOBER 2011

AM & SHAWN LEE- CELESTIAL ELECTRIC- ESL MUSIC- This is a collaboration between singer/songwriter AM and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee and it hits that sweet spot right where techno, funk, soft pop and psychedelic all meet in a real laid back fashion with plenty of nods to the 70’s. I didn’t think it’d be up my alley but it’s easy on the ears and there’s really plenty to like here. www.eslmusic.com

KYLE ANDREWS- ROBOT LEARN LOVE- ELEPHANT LADY- I enjoyed this guys KANGAROO ep of last year and now he’s back with this 10-song full-length. He excels at electro-pop that is to say hooky music with lots of blurts n’ bleeps but then again he can go the straight pop route with guitars too. I definitely like him in smaller doses so I will probably listen to the EP rather than this tho’ parts of this are very good (“Bombs Away”, title track, etc.) and a few annoying parts (“Laser Tag with Imaginary Friends”). www.kyleandrews.com

BEAR LAKE- IF YOU WERE ME- SELF RELEASED- I like this….these guys have a laid-back pop sound, add some electronics and even some occasional slightly high-pitched vocals (like he’s going for a soul/Prince vibe or something). I mean, who knows, on stage if the crowd was dazedly swaying I might hate it but in my cd player….it’s tasty. www.bearlakemusic.com

BUNKY MOON- SCHTUFF WE LIKE- LO NOTE- Charlotte, NV trio who offer up 11 songs and half of them are covers. They do The Who (“Boris the Spider”), Bowie (“Space Oddity”), Zappa (“King Kong”) etc. as well as a few original that I didn’t like. I’ll bet they knock ‘em dead in Charlotte. www.reverbnation.com/bunkymoon

CABIN DOGS- MIDNIGHT TRAIL- CRIPPLED HOUND- Brother Rich and Rob Kwait along with a host of friends make up the Cabin Dogs and they specialize in homespun, low-key country, folk and even a bit of r & b. The songwriting is ace and they deserve a much longer review than they’re getting here but this is all I can offer right now. But trust me, this is GOOD. www.cabindogs.com

COM TRUISE- GALACTIC MELT- GHOSTLY INTERNATIONAL- Com Trusioe is the work of Princeton, NJ’s Seth Haley. This is electronic music. I normally don’t like electronic music, but I like this.

TONY COX – ON THE WAY- COXY MUSIC- His 2009 cd, UNPUBLISHED, was solid and occasionally very good but this sophomore effort is even better. He gets help from Nigel Clark (Dodgy, The Offbeat, etc.) and the two have crafted quite a nice little pop record here. MY two favorites here are the bouncy “Hold Me Angeline” and the soaring “Alicia’ but there’s not a bad song on here. www.coxymusic.com

DARK MEAN- S/T- SELF RELEASED- You might think they hail from Kentucky or somewhere in Appalachia but no, this trio calls Hamilton, Ontario (that’s Canada, kids) home. There’s banjo, there’s some foot stomping and lots of acoustic guitars and heartfelt vocals (keyboards, too). “Smoke Lake” even has a drum machine so they’re not afraid to mix it up. Oh and they write good songs, too. www.myspace.com/darkmeanband

DES ARK- DON’T ROCK THE BOAT, SINK THE FUCKER- LOVITT- The work of one Aimee Colette Argotte and some friends (she has been the one constant in the band since its inception) starts off all electro folky and gentle and then , during song #3 “Bonne Chance Asshole” the gears shift ant kicks into a bigger , noisier beast. From that point on the record straddles the two genres and it at times impressive and confusing. DRTBSTF seems to be the work of an artist on edge, a few edges, and she’s willing to dive right in at all times. www.lovitt.com

DIVA- THE GLITTER END- CRITICAL HEIGHTS- Trippy grooves from Diva Dompé, who is the daughter of Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus. Arty, theatrical, pretentious, unique and more. I couldn’t get past the 2nd song but you might be able to. www.criticalheights.com

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER- LAST SUMMER- MERGE- Yup, this is THAT Eleanor, one half of the brother/sister duo Fiery Furnaces. I like this more than any FF record though there are songs on here that I love (opener “My Mistakes” is awesome) while others grate on my ears a bit (2nd song “Inn of the Seventh Ray”). Still tho’, there is more good than bad and who knows , it might spark me into checking the ‘furnaces a bit more. www.mergerecords.com

SCOTT GAGNER- RHAPSODY IN BLONDE- SELF RELEASED- This is the same Scott Gagner who was in the San Francisco band Cartographer but since there are other bands of that name is decided to go at it using his own name. There’s 14 songs on here and he genre hops all over but does justice to most genres. Opener “I Hate to Say” sounded like The Strokes while “Speak & Spell” was more straight up power pop and “Laura No. 1” is pure 50’s/60’s smooth pop. The guy is a seriously good songwriter and RHAPSODY IN BLONDE needs more ears. Lends yours. www.scottgagner.com

GUITAR- IT’S SWEET TO DO NOTHING!- CLAIRE- Guitar is the work of German one-man band Michael Luckner. He has been releasing records as Guitar for nearly a decade. This one is a concept record about relaxation and is less shoegaze (like his other stuff) and more…well, nearly ambient. Parts of this are truly beautiful whole others slip into pretension, but nevertheless, it is always interesting. Best song title: “The Girl with the Freckles That Sounded Like Two Bells.” www.clairecords.com

HOORAY FOR EARTH- TRUE LOVES- DOVECOTE- Apparently the core of this band has been playing together for 15 years (since high school) they have a few other records out but this is definitely their best yet. A swarthy mix of keyboards, psychedelia and pop hooks and strong songwriting. You might think leader Noel Heroux is some kind of pop mad scientist and you might be right. Give “Last Minute” a spin, you’ll either love it or hate it. www.hoorayforearth.net

I BREAK HORSES- HEARTS- BELLA UNION- Swedish duo of Maria (she sings) and Fredrik (he creates “the mood”) and they call this nu-gaze or some shit. It’s an unholy melding of electronics and shoe gaze and the first few tunes were amazing (“Winter Beats” and “Hearts” …especially the latter) but they sort of lose it from there. I do wanna hear more… www.cooperativemusicusa.com

THE INVALIDS- STILL SICK- ST. ROSE- If I recall correctly this Santa Rosa, CA band existed, then didn’t exist and now voila! They exist again. This is catchy, buzzsaw punk with snotty vocals. In fact, the lead (not backing) vocals were my least favorite part of it, otherwise this sounds like prime stuff by The Queers or Screeching Weasel and is a rockin’ good time. www.saintroserecords.com

THE LAST CONSPIRATIORS- WHEN IT ALL COMES DOWN- DRIVING RAIN- Upstate NY band led by Tim Livingston on vocals. They seem to take influence from several UK bands (The Clash, The Adverts, The Ruts, etc.) and add the needed passion (and hooks) to make this one a winner. www.lastconspirators.com

MAD ANTHONY I SPENT ALL MONEY ON SPEED METAL- PHRATRY- Cincinnati quartet with a band member named Ringo and a vocalist who wants to be Danzig (occasionally). They hit hard, the guitars grind and at times it all comes together in a good song (“The Solution to the Indian Problem”) but otherwise, this is just ok. www.phratryrecords.com

MALA IN SE- S/T- PHRATRY- 7 songs of hammering noise rock with metal overtones. After it was all done Aleve didn’t work nor did Excedrin and I’m STILL wincing, Yeah, I said WINCING. www.phratryrecords.com

THE MIGHTY GRASSHOPPERRS S/T- VITAL GESTURE- Nice batch o; garage pop songs from this So. Cal. band featuring the songwriting for Chris LeRoy and Tony Fate (they occasionally write separately and occasionally together). They blend different eras of rock from, the 50’s on up and have a good sense of it all like the Flamin Groovies. Nice. www.myspace.com/grasshoppercentral

MOBY- DESTROYED- MUTE- Sorry, I’m the wrong guy to review a Moby record yet here I am. It’s pulsing, icy electronic music with lots of synths, a few special female vocalists and some strings too. I liked “Sevastopol” but not much else on here. www.mute.com

MOONLIGHT TOWERS- DAY IS THE NEW NIGHT- CHICKEN RANCH- Ha, and I thought they were a new band, but nope been around a decade and this is their 3rd record. This Austin quartet claims to just wanna make people dance with their retro power pop sound and hey, it’s ok with me. The songs are there and they’ve got the facial hair to prove it. Huzzah! www.chickenranchrecords.com

LISA MORALES- BEAUTIFUL MISTAKE- ZAIRO- Formerly a member of a band called Sisters Morales, this is the solo debut form Texan Lisa Morales a record that was influenced, at least party by the death of her moth. There is a mix of styles but heavy on the emotion. My favorites are the more upbeat, snappier ones (“I don’t want to hear what you have to say”, “Driving and Cryin’, etc.). A talented songwriter to say the least. www.lisamoralesmusic.com

MY FIRST EARTHQUAKE- FRICTION- SELF RELEASED- Sophomore effort from this transplanted San Francisco band (from, where, I’m not sure) who play not-so-serious synth pop in the vein of Metric and Mates of State. Nothing earth-shattering here but not bad. I’d like to see ‘em on stage before I say anything else. www.myfirstearthquake.com

THE NEW TRUST & FRIENDS- BATTLE TO THE DEATH- SAINT ROSE- Santa Rosa, CA band (w/ a member or two from The Velvet Teen) offering up 5 acoustic songs (old tunes) , 5 new songs and some local bands covering their songs (Santiago, Themes, Judah Nagler, etc.) for a grand total of 18 tunes. Well-played, well-written songs and really enjoyable as well. The band does a great job of practicing then fine art of subtlety and the whole package was a great idea , too. www.saintroserecords.com

THE PARSONS RED HEADS- YEARLING- ARRCO- …and I thought these hirsute folks were a brand new band but alas, no they have few other records out but Portland-based Arena Rock Record Co. released this new one (they are now based on LA). This is rolling folk music with some psychedelic touches and , it must be said, good songwriting. Acoustic guitars pedal steel, harmonies , etc….you know the drill. www.arenarockrecordingco.com

RADIATION CITY- THE HANDS THAT TAKE YOU- TENDER LOVING EMPIRE- Portland quartet doing 60s-inspired pop though it wasn’t as grand as I’d like it to be, a bit moodier and quirkier than normal and hey, they even add in some beats too. I didn’t like it at all the first time through anf now I kinda like it so by this time next week who knows…. www.tenderlovingempire.com

SIGOURNEY REVERB- BEES IN YOUR BED BAD- GREEN MONNKEY- Seattle bunch who don’t take themselves (or much else) very seriously. This is occasionally hooky and raw with a good snotty attitude. My pick to click was “Whose Yer Muse?”. www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

BOBB TRIMBLE- THE CRIPPLED DOG BAND- YOGA- Oddball release originally in 1983 (and he had two previous records that the Secretly Canadian label reissued a few years back). This guy is hard to nail down and is definitely influenced by 60’s garage/psych gunk. . The vocals (and guitars) sound like they’re from another planet and I’m still trying to get a handle on this. www.yogarecords.com

THE WOMBATS- THIS MODERN GLITCH- BRIGHT ANTENNA- 2nd record from these kids from Liverpool and it’s as catchy and ebullient as the debut. Leader Matthew Murphy is this decade’s Damon Alborn but with BETTER songs. Believe it. www.brightantenna.com

 

SEPTEMBER 2011

ARIEL ABSHIRE- STILL SO NEW- LEARNING TO SHARE- This Austin, TX 19 year old has apparently been around music most of her life and singing since she was 11. She has recorded with old timers (Pinetop Perkins) and hipster indie bands (Matt Pond PA). She has a great set of pipes, but this 11-song collection is a bit too shiny and air-brushed for my liking. It’s pop lite, catchy but ultimately uninspiring. www.arielabshire.com

AFROBETA- UNDER THE STREETS- DO IT- “Cuci Amador and Smurphio formed their avant-dance duo in Miami in 2006 as a means to attain an ultimate form of artistic, self-expression.” I swear I didn’t make that up. www.afrobeta.com

ANTI-SOCIAL MUSIC- IS THE FUTURE OF EVERYTHING- PEACOCK- NYC musical collective led by former Hold Steady dude Franz Nicolay doing 20 songs of bent chamber music. This is their 4th record and whole this isn’t the kind of thing you put on after dinner (or breakfast) it’s interesting nonetheless. As they say, “All fun without the pretension.” www.antisocialmusic.org

THE BACKSLIDERS- FROM DALLAS, TEXAS – SELF RELEASED- These guys keep it in the family with a hubby/wife team and his brother too. They keep the twang coming and offer up a batch of 11 mid-tempo tunes with heart (and some “Woos!” too). Nice. www.thebacksliders.com

THE BAMBOO KIDS,- THE WAY THINGS ARE ep- DRUG FRONT- This BKNY trio take influence from everyone from Chuck Berry to the Stones to The NY Dolls to The Clash and even The Boss (check out “The Streets of New York City”). They kick up enough dust and swagger (and strong tunes) to give you the shakes. Nice. www.drugfrontrecords.com

MEREDITH BRAGG- NEST- THE KORA – 4th record by this Alexandria, VAbased musician who has kept a low profile though not due to his music. On the contrary, Bragg fills a unique spot on the musical map with producing some gorgeous chamber folk with beats (and some pop hooks too,). Dive right into the dream. www.thekorarecords.com

THE CANDY SNATCHERS- DOWN AT DELILAH’S- DRUG FRONT- Over the top garage punk, these Virginia Beach yucksters were apparently one of the best live bands on the planet . This 15 song collection is their final record, recorded in 2008, just before their guitarist died of an OD and pushes everything into the red and clobbers you but good. www.drugfrontrecords.com

CASE STUDIES- THE WORLD IS JUST A SHAPE TO FILL AT NIGHT- SACRED BONES- Downbeat, languid folk form Jesse Lortz. Who is Jesse, you ask? Why he is the Duke in hardly Art band the Dutchess and the Duke. It gets a bit dramatic at times (m,y favorite parts) and hey, there is even a song called “Dagger.” Oh yeah! www.sacredbones.com

JOHN CRAIG & THE WEEKEND- NUMBERS- LOOPHOLE- Sophomore effort from this Eugene bred/Portland based musician. They have been getting a lot of local press and seem to be getting some national as well. They seem to go for a danceable indoor rock sound (ala Ra Ra Riot) and he seems to know his way around a hook, too. www.johncraigmusic.com

CULTS-S/T- COLUMBIA- Addictive girl-group-ish pop from a girl (she sings) and a guy (he does everything else) from New Yawk. Almost like a happier Portishead. Regardless, the songs are catchy as all get out and fun and if you have not heard this yet well, you need to.

THE DWARVES- ARE BORN AGAIN- MVD/GREEDY- The world’s raunchiest rock band, led by the elusive Blag Dahlia, is back and yes, born again. Self-referential as ever (the first song is called “The Dwarves are still the best band ever”) and like all good Dwarves records you hear rock, samples, folk and even some orchestration (sometimes all in the same song). www.thedwarves.com

ELYSIAN FIELDS- LAST NIGHT ON EARTH- OJET/DILUVIAN- More of that woozy, noir-ish rock (7th record, here) from the NYC duo with vocalist Jennifer Charles sounding a bit Hope Sandoval-ish (Mazzy Star) and guitarist Oren Blowdow creating the cinematic darkness. www.ojet.com

FALCON- DISAPPEAR- FMRL- BKNY quartet led by vocalist/guitarist Neil Rosen and on this 10 song debut the band creates a moody yet catchy pop sound. They reminded me a bit of the Flaming Lips (it was mixed and mastered by Lips pal Dave Fridmann) . Opening tune ‘Say Goodbye” is definitely the best but most of this is solid. www.myspace.com/falconmusic

TONY FATE- HALF VIRGIN- VITAL BGESTURE- 21 instrumental tracks in a little over 29 minutes. There’s some serious acoustic pickin’ (the first song, the title track, is the best) and other stuff on piano mandolin and keyboard. Some of this is throwaways but some is fun to listen to I also like “D Drone” (real short, though). www.myspace.com/tonyfateguitarsamuri

ELISA FLYNN- 19TH C. SONGS- SELF RELEASED- This is the 2nd cd I have received form BKNY (anti) folk songstress Flynn and it’s very good. The songs are haunting and very dark (at least one about a serial killer but all seem to have a dark, historical perspective) and the rhythm section is solid but it’s Flynn’s powerfulvocals that really stand out. 6 songs and some nice woodcuts as well. www.elisaflynn.com

FOUND AUDIO- CHALK- SELF RELEASED- What I thought was going to be a collection of weird art tunes (maybe based on their name) is a actually a simple collection of rock/pop/folk tunes. “Queen of the Road’ was bit Feelies-ish and most of the rest I easy to digest as well. www.foundaudiomusic.com

MICHAEL FRACASSO- SAINT MONDAY- LITTLE FUJI- A transplanted Texan (originally from Ohio but had a long stop in NYC) but he’s been around a long time (playing folk clubs in NYC in the late 70’s) and here he is playing his roots rock tunes with passion and heart. Longtime fans say this is his best so who am I to argue? www.michaelfracasso.com

MIWA GEMINI- FANTASTIC LIES OF GRIZZLY ROSE- ROCK PARK- Sounds to me like a concept record about an imaginary friend of Miwa’s. Still she does it all in a series of styles that is both swooping and dark. Circus music but not for Barnum, & Bailey, no ,what she creates could be in a Jodorowsky film. www.miwagemini.com

THE HAPPY THOUGHTS- S/T- HOZAC- Midwestern trio scooting to the front of the line with some good-natured , 3-chord garage pop music with some welcome fuzz. Think Ramones meets Bobby Fuller Four and you’ll be in the dugout. If I were to get married again these guys would be playing the reception. Gar-on-teed. www.hozacrecords.com

MICK HARVEY- SKETCHES FROM THE BOOK OF THE DEAD- MUTE- First solo record from Harvey since leaving Nick Caves Bad Seeds (who he had been with for over 2 decades). This is a collection of dark, moody songs like a spaghetti western meets film noir meets funeral music. There’s a song about Rowland Howard (“October Boy”) and others. A true artist with a deep, spiritual connection to the music he creates, Mick Harvey is one of a kind. www.mute.com

DAN HUBBARD & THE HUMADORS- THE LOVE SHOW – SELF RELEASED- Midwestern dude who has been around for nearly a decade. This is record #6 and he and his bunch whip up some nice Americana tunes with some occasional bursts into honky tonk. Nothing flashy here, just good American rock and roll. www.danhubbard.net

JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD- WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS- INFINITY CAT- Two dudes who ARE brothers though neither is named Jeff (and one was in Be Your Own Pet). They meld garage, psych, metal and power pop into an occasionally intriguing stew. I didn’t like the slower, meatier stuff but the faster power-pop gunk, like like “Cool Out” was a-ok. www.infinitycat.com

LEATHERFACE- VIVA LA ARTHOUSE: LIVE IN MELBOURNE- NO IDEA- Going on for over two decades, Frankie Stubbs and his troopers light yet another fire under the collective asses of the audience. This 19-song , career-spanning set is a must have (it includes 5 songs from their classic MUSH) a the intensity rarely(if ever) lets up. www.noidearecords.com

LOYAL DIVIDE BODICE RIPPER – SELF RELEASED- Bent electronica from Chicago. If you want to know more Google it.

LOOKBOOK- WILD AT HEART- SELF RELEASED- Mpls duo of Nick and Maggie. She sings and he plays guitars and fucks with the electronic instruments. A bit Yeah Yeah Yeah-ish tho’ on my favorite song,. “Way Beyond”, they remind me of The Strokes (at least the guitar does). Like. www.myspace.com/lookbookmusic

MAGNUSON- CRASH OF CASSINI- SELF RELEASED- Alternative hard rock by this Los Angeles duo. No thank you (hey, I was polite about it). www.magnusonband.com

MATT POND PA- SPRING FOOLS- ALTITUDE- Absolutely awesome 5 song ep from chamber pop band MPPA. Matt Pond and his cronies aren’t doing anything different here that they haven’t already been doing the past near decade, it’s just simply a small , tantalizing batch of songs. Stellar, low-key beauty. www.altituderecords.com

JENN MIERAU- HISH- SELF RELEASED- Moody synth pop with beats and the sensual vocals of, you got it, Jenn Mierau. A bit pretentious but hey, she opened this 8 song c with a Cure cover “Lovesong” so she gets some point there. www.songsofjenn.com

MINIBOONE- BIG CHANGES- DRUG FRONT- If these guys are the next big thing (as one writer opined) then sign me up for full-time jazzbo status. www.drugfrontrecords.com

THE NAKED HEROES- 99 DIAMOND- DRUG FRONT- Some dude named George and his wife (Merica) …yup, another bluesy, garage duo out there but these two kicks up some serious dust. Fans of AC/DC and Dazed and Confused (the movie…this could have been the soundtrack). Time to restore that old ’67 Pontiac GTO and gas it down. www.drugfrontrecords.com

DEBBIE NEIGHER- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Adult , piano pop and when I saw “adult” I mean it in the loosest sense since this gal is only 24 years old (I’m not saying that at 24 she is not an adult but, well, she is wise beyond them). She has a great voice and is obviously a trained musician. MY pick to click here is “Frames.” Produced by John Vanderslice. www.debbieneigher.com

JOSH OTTUM- WATCH TV- TAPETE- Bland, boring singer-songwriter stuff. I tried, I really did. www.tapeterecords.com

PAPER ARROWS IN THE MORNING QUELL- Record #3 by this Windy City quartet who seem to be on their way (lots of good local, press). About half of the tunes have a good energy while the other half are lacking, if just a bit while vocalist Joe Goodkin sometimes is caught between a moan and a mumble. Still when it all comes together, like on “Smokes and Ash”, it’s pretty darn sweet. www.quellrecords.com

SLAM DUNK- THE SHIVERS- SELF RELEASED- Apparently these Victoria, BC dudes are real young but that doesn’t stop them from making one hell of a mature racket. OK, so it’s not really mature but they have a firm grasp on their sound, which is heavily-reverbed garage rock with in-your-face urgency and excellent songs. This is terrific, all 10 songs. www.slamdunkband.com

SMALL BROWN BIKE- FELL & FOUND- NO IDEA- More of that hard-hitting emo rock that the band did before their break up (in early 2004) and here they are back with 11 new songs. A bit cleaner in sound but no less forceful, especially in the drums. www.noidearecords.com

SOFT SCIENCE- HIGHS AND LOWS- TEST PATTERN- Terrific, sweet pop from the land of Sacramento, CA. Looking at the lineup it looks like the Levine Bros (from California Oranges and Holiday Flyer) and yes, vocalist Katie Haley is the former Katie Conley (of said bands as well). It’s got a shoegazey side to it but I doesn’t get bogged down in that genre an there’s hooks a plenty (it reminded me of LA band Fonda).. Excellent! www.testpatternrecords.com

SOMERDALE – BRIGHTER THAN BEFORE- ZIP- It looks like these cats hail from my native South Jersey and well, they do the Garden State proud with a solid, crunchy pop sound that mixes power and melody in a most righteous way. 12 solid tunes and a cover of The Left Banke’s ”Walk Away Renee.” Good on ya’. www.ziprecords.com

THE VACCINES- WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM THE VACCINES?- COLUMBIA- Like many of their UK counterparts, The Vaccines came in on a tidal wave of hype(as if they had a ton of cred beforehand or something) and, like others have said, they do seem to take bits and pieces from bands like The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Glasvegas, etc. They’ve got plenty of hooks and energy and all in all it’s not a bad listen. Let’s see where they go from here. www.columbiarecords.com

GEORGIO “THE DOVE” VALENTINIO- THE SORROWS OF YOUNG GEORGIO- SELF RELEASED- I enjoyed this guys previous cd (YOU BROUGHT KNIFE OT THE GUNFUIGHT) and now here is this 7 song ep (also released as a 10”). It’s cinematic, operatic and, at times , out there. The guy is following his own muse, that’s for sure. http://www.myspace.com/georgiothedovevalentino

WAGONS- RUMBLE, SHAKE AND TUMBLE- THIRTY TIGERS- If the folks on the cover of the cd are all in Henry Wagon’s band , well, he’s gonna be livin’ on rice and beans for a while. This is country and western with a decidedly American slant…only the band hails from Australia (they way Nick Cave would/does approach a country song). Took a while for this to stick but it finally has and it’s a rollicking good time. www.thirtytigers.com

THE WALK ONS- WE DID THIS ON PURPOSE- DRUG FRONT- 5 song ep of …I dunno, just regular rock. A bit of ‘tude but not enough to rev the engine. Not awful but nothing special. www.drugfrontrecords.com

WHITE ORANGE- S/T- ALIEN WIZARD- If you dig the 2-ton sounds of bands like Kyuss and Mastodon then this might be up your alley. I don’t so I don’t. www.myspace.com/whiteorangeband

WITCHES- FOREVER- BAKERY OUTLET- Athens, GA trio who play some melodic/crunchy indie rock that hearkens back to ther90’s. The band is led by the vocals/guitar of Cara Beth Satalino who has a unique, passionate wail that should be heard as she is a true talent. www.bakeryoutletrecords.com

WOODS - SUN AND SHADE- WOODSIST- Record #5 here isn’t quite as good as last years AT ECHO LAKE but heck, it’s still darn good. On the opener “Pushing Onlys” vocalist Jeremy Earl‘s still got the best falsetto in rock and he and his bandmates still are able to uniquely combine the last several decades o rock music and make it all sound interesting. . Take the trippy 10 minute track out (“Sol y Sombra”) and you’ve got a true friend. www.woodsist.com

SHORT REVIEW BY MR. JOSEPH KYLE

Arms & Sleepers: A Man, A Plan, A Canal: Panama: These dream-poppers are highly prolific, but what makes it even better is that they’re a rare group who can release tons of music, without a slip in quality. This EP is no exception, and though they’re still making pretty, instrumental mood music, there’s a definite upbeat, poppy vibe here, bordering on jazz and lounge, but pulling back. They indulge in a few Stereolab/Laika/Mouse on Mars moments, especially on “The Pedestrian,” but it’s never poor imitation. Their last few records have pointed towards a bold reinvention—here’s hoping they indulge those impulses. (Self-Released)

David Bazan—Strange Negotiations: Pedro the Lion dude who wrote some moving songs about faith, inner exploration, self, and one’s place in the world continues to turn his back on his faith, delving into rock music, and the cynicism towards the world in general means nothing because it can’t be heard over the mediocre, generic bar-rock he now specializes in. Wish him well on his journey, but he needs to try harder. (Barsuk Records)

Dengue Fever—This takes the element of world music, pop, and R&B in such a disappointing direction, one not last seen by this writer since that disappointing Zap Mama show I saw back in college, where they eschewed the wonderful world elements in order to be TLC, singing to prerecorded tapes. This feels just as fake, but it’s not for wont of talent, skills, or good qualities. Why do world-minded bands ruin themselves by trying to be mainstream R&B? Disappointing. (Concord)

Elsinore—Life Inside The Elephant: This four-track EP is the latest offering from Champaign/Urbana mood-rockers, and it’s a great leap forward from the band’s latest offering, Yes Yes Yes. These songs are dark, melancholy, and layered heavily with atmospherics. Two songs are “Chamber Mixes” which just means acoustic, and the remix of the title song is pretty awesome, too. (Self-Released)

Brian Eno-Drums Between the Bells: Shit sandwich masquerading as “modern” “experimental” “electronic” “music.” The only time it gets good is when he leaves the drum machines aside and shuts up the spoken word crap. (Warp)

Fruit Bats—Tripper: Okay, Eric Johnson (not to be confused with hard-rock guitar god from the 1980s) and company have always made pretty folk music, but this continues the band’s exploration of “Americana,” and by that I mean this is definitely “America”-esque. The music on Tripper is nice, but it lacks flare, and as a result sounds totally nondescript, which is a shame, because their previous record, The Ruminant Band, was ace. Ah well, it happens. (Sub Pop)

Grouplove—Never Trust a Happy Song: Trust me, I won’t. Who knew that Hard-Fi would inspire the future generations? I hope there is a special place in hell for Isaac Brock and Win Butler for inspiring such total mediocrity. (Canvasback/Atlantic)

Letting Up Despite Great Faults—Paper Crane: This EP by these So-Cal dream-poppers is pretty good, although the songs all possess a same-y feel that kind of makes it all blend together, and not in the best way. When they break out the guitars on “Teenage Tide,” things get better. You shouldn’t put two songs of the same tempo and instrumentation side by side at the beginning of your record. Variety, friends! It picks up at the end, in a good way. I’d listen to ‘em again. (Old Flame)

Qluster—Fragen: Hans-Joachim Roedelius has made music for the past 40 years, starting with Kluster, then Cluster, and now, yep, you got it, Qluster. This is a collaborative project with a young experimental artist by the name of Onnen Bock. If you know Roedelius’s history, then you know what this sounds like: dense electronic prog-rock instrumentals and ambient compositions. Don’t listen to this as individual pieces, listen to it as one long experimental movement, and get lost in the melllowwwwww (Bureau B)

Sea of Bees—“Gnomes/Don’t Fear the Reaper”: This 4-song EPcontains three songs, the title track, a remix of it, and two covers. “Gnomes” isn’t bad, with a lead singer that has one of those twee voices that sounds gothic simply because it sounds so gnarly. The remix, by wonderful psych-folkers Tunng, gives it a modern, spaced-out instrumental background, and it works a little bit better. The BoC cover is actually pretty rad; it’s upbeat and a country-rocker. Not much can (or should) be said about the other cover, a version of “With or Without You” that is maudlin and depressing. (Crossbill Records)

We Came as Romans—Understanding What We’ve Grown To Be: I hope one day that Cookie Monster gets really, really pissed off at people making fun of his voice and trying to sing like him in tandem with wussy emo singers singing sensitive songs that make Owl City look like John Holmes. I had high school kids play shit like this to me, only to make me cry, but not for the reasons they expected. (Equal Vision)

 

AUGUST 2011

BABY DEE- A BOOK OF SONGS FOR ANNE MARIE- DRAG CITY- A lovely collection of harp and piano tunes by this transgender performance artist (and former circus performer). Think Antony (of the Johnsons) and you’re in the ballpark. Not something I’d listen to everyday but certainly unique. www.dragcity.com

BASS DRUM OF DEATH- GB CITY- FAT POSSUM- Basically the work of one guy , John Barrett (live he has drummer) and the record is a stealthy mix of raunchy garage rock , 50’s pop and punk and the results are,….well, so trebly and in the red you’ll swear your stereo is broken, but is isn’t. After 4 songs I had to take a break, walk around the room take a cold shower and comer back to it. Like ALL good records should do. www.fatpossum.com

JACK BEAUREGARD THE MAGAZINES YOU READ- TAPETE- 2nd record from two Germans and neither is named Jack. Daniel and par create intoxicating pop music that is nearly impossible not to like. Cool harmonies and unique synth work. Go! www.tapeterecords.de

MAGGIE BJORKLUND- COMNG HOME- BLOODSHOT- Pedal steel player for Danish band The Darleens (I haven’t heard of them either) offering her first solo record. If it sounds like Calexico backing up Maggie well, that is essentially what it is. It has that dusty, southwest feel and some nice tunes too. www.bloodshotrecords.com

THE BLACK SWANS- DON’T BLAME THE STARS- MISRA- Record #4 by this Ohio band, led by Jerry Decicca, but this I the first one I’ve heard. The band has a melodic, breezy Americana sound with some nice pop hooks but deep, soul-searching lyrics (one of the band members, violinist Noel Sayre, died a few days after recording his part). I could have done without the 5 brief spoken word bits in between songs otherwise, this I a record well-worth delving into. www.misrarecords.com

EDWYN COLLINS- LOSING SLEEP – HEAVENLY- This is former Oranger Juice-er Collins first record since a stroke nearly killed him back in 2005. He gets help form famous chums like Johnny Marr and Roddy Framer as well as folks from Franz Ferdinand and others. Songs like “Losing Sleep”, “What is My Role?”, “Come Tomorrow, Come Today’ and “Do It Again’ all document his long recovery but still have plenty of bite and hooks too. A solid effort with some flat out great songs and further proof of this guy’s amazing spirit. www.heavenlyrecordings.com

CREEPING WEEDS- SEE THROUGH- SELF RELEASED- I could like this Philly 5-pieces music to that of Malkmus/Pavement and leave it at that but that would be selling them short. But this is a short review so let’s just say this band does the textured, hazy pop thing much better than so many others attempting it. www.creepingweeds.com

THE DAMNWELLS- NO ONE LISTENS TO THE BAND ANYMORE- POOR MAN/ PLEDGEMUSIC RECORDINGS- After a bad major label experience nearly derailed this band, now down to a duo, main songwriter Alex Dezen (here with bassist Ted Hudson) is still here and writing some of the best music of his career. Tight, tuneful pop songs that need to be heard by more people that will hear it but you can change that by YOU listening. www.thedamnwells.com

DET VACKRA LIVET- S/T- LABRADOR- This Swedish band (translation: The Beautiful Life) is made up of brother Philip and Henrik Ekstrom who were previously in the terrific Mary Onettes (and may still be). On here they sing in their native tongue but the music is just as grand and ambitious, bringing to mind icy masters like Echo & the Bunnymen and New Order and you can almost see the smoke machine spewing it’s magical spell. Terrific. www.labrador.se

EFREN- RISE ON UP AND MELT- SLO PRO- Georgia band who reminded me a bit of (another GA band) the Futurebirds but this isn’t as good (but it’s not bad, either). Downbeat Americana with REALLL Southern vocals, haunting at times (“Like a Coat”) and hazily trippy at others (“Like a Coat”). They even mention crawdads and that has gotta cvunt for something. Right?! www.efrenmusic.com

ROBERT ELLIS- PHOTOGRAPHS- NEW WEST- I had never heard of Ellis before but sounds like he’s been at it for a long time. This record id divided in 2 parts the first 5 songs are confessional folk while the other 5 songs are straight up country and he does both equally well. “Comin’ Home “ is a true gem here but honestly, There isn’t bad song on here. www.newwestrecords.com

THE MICHAEL J. EPSTEIN MEMORIAL LIBRARY- VOLUME 1- SELF RELEASED- Yes, there is someone named Michael J. Epstein in this band and he ,along with several women on an assortment of stringed and woodwind instruments created nifty little pop record here complete with gorgeous melodies and top-flite tunes, too. Like if the Magnetic Fields were folkier. Nice. www.michaeljepstein.com

FINK- PERFECT DARKNESS- NINJA TUNE- UK singer/songwriter Fin Greenall offers up 10 songs of acoustic tunes with mostly finger-picked acoustic guitars and his deep, brooding croon. At times it reminded me of Nick Drake but this is not nearly as compelling as that. Not bad, an ep would have been a better idea.

FISHBOY CLASSIC CREEPS SELF RELEASED- Eric Michener and his wacked pals are back with another Fishboy record. This one I a concept record only I’m not sure what the concept is..i know all of the songs begin with the letter A but I believe it goes beyond that. Never mind that Michener sounds vocalist like a happier/saner (?!) John Darnielle, the guy is a terrific pop song writer as the arrangement on here are truly inspired (and it could have come from no other place than Athens, GA). www.myspace.com/fishboy

SARAH ELIZABETH FOSTER- TAKE ME FOR A RIDE- STUDIO SARAH- Pop/rock with a flair for 60/s/70’s arrangements. This Texan has a booming voice that has some real soul to it. Not always my bag but done well. www.sarahelizabethfoster.com

NIK FRIETAS- SATURDAY NIGHT UNDERWATER- LITTLE RECORD COMPANY- Record #5 by this former Thrasher photog. Frietas is a talented pop tunesmith who , I believe, plays everything on here. The songs are good and you really want them to be great, but they rarely are. Still, not a bad listen. www.littlerecordcompany.com

BILL GOULD/ JARED BLUM- THE TALKING BOOK- KOOLARROW- What is apparently the first in a series of ambient/drone records form Gould (former guitarist for Faith No More) and Blum (not sure who he is. An acquired taste, for sure. www.koolarrow.com

THE GREENCARDS- THE BRICK ALBUM- DARLING STREET- Austin, TX trio (originally 2 gals form Australia) with a fiddler and they call it bluegrass (or newgrass, sorry). I didn’t like the opening cut but loved #2, “Faded’ with its gorgeous harmonies and the pretty acoustic tune “Naked on the River.” When I give stuff like this a chance I usually end up liking it and I’ll bet live they’re hoot (even if it might be a Bonnaroo type crowd). www.thegreencards.com

THE HORROR THE HORROR WILDERNESS – TAPETE- 5 Swedes who wear their influences on their sleeves and in this case it’s the sound of the city, NYVC that is. I hear some Strokes here, a touch of Talking Heads there and even some Dolls swagger. This would get ‘em grooving at a party. Not me but them. www.tapeterecords.de

LOVE BOAT- LOVE IS GONE- ALIEN SNATCH- 2nd record (or 2nd one I have, anyway) but this spunky Italian trio who mix elements of rock, pop, folk and garage into an intoxicating stew, to say the least. I really dig the last one and this is just as good, if not better. “My Cousin’s Place” is my fave song this day/week/month Music for your next bbq, for sure . www.aliensnatch.de

JARED MEES & THE GROWN CHILDREN- ONLY GOOD THOUGHTS CAN STAY- TENDER LOVING EMPIRE- Portland bunch led by, you guessed it, Jared Mees. The songs slowly unfold into pop songs but these are layered and intricate. They remind me a bit of Okkervil River (high praise indeed). Jump on this bandwagon now. www.tenderlovingempire.com

MICKEY- ROCK N ROLL DREAMER- HOZAC- More of the good stuff from the Hozac label. This 5-some, all with fake names, kicks up a seriously fun, stutter-step rock melding 50’s rock, 60’sd bubblegum and 70’s glam. You’re not required to wear you patched-up denim jacket but you are required to have a smile on your face and a lighter in the air,. You can do that, right? www.hozacrecords.com

THE POPPEES- POP GOES THE ANTHOLOGY- BOMP- 1970’s NYC power pop band (think Big Star but more Beatlee-esque) who I had never heard of before. This comp. collected 18 songs including their Bomp single, some demos and live stuff. When I say Beatle-esque I mean it (but in a good way) www.bomprecords.com

SCUMBAG PHILOSOPHER- IT MEANS NOTHING SO IT MEANS NOTHING- WORDS ON MUSIC- UK bunch who go for the whole Fall/ Gang of Four route with scattershot, raking guitar, ranting vocals and chop shop rhythms. Musically I really like it but then vocals get to me (I only like this kind of stuff, vocally, if Mark E. Smith is on then mic). www.words-on-music.com

SHOULD- LIKE A FIRE WITHOUT SOUND- WORDS ON MUSIC- Recorded over a 5 year period in Baltimore, this is the 3rd record by Marc Ostermeier shows the band still creating spare, at times haunting sound that owes a debt to Brian Eno (and reminded me of Low and Yo La Tengo, as well). My pick to click here is the gorgeous “Just Not Today.” www.words-on-music.com

THE SOUND OF GROWING UP- DRIFTING- SELF RELEASED- Bouncy pop rock in the vein of Fountains of Wayne. Nice trumpet blasts on “Swing” while the title track was a bit folky. Not bad. www.thesoundofgrowingup.com

THE SOUNDS- SOMETHING TO DIE FOR- SIDEONEDUMMY- Electro pop rock form this Swedish quartet and the only thing that surprises me is that it’s on the Side One Dummy label, one known more for punk rock. This times it’s more pulsing dance rock than glossy synth pop and that’s ok, they do it well and all they really wanna do is get you shaking your ass. So there. www.sideonedummy.com

SOUTHEAST ENGINE- CANARY- MISTA- This Athens, OH band has created quite a lovely record here. A concept record (regarding a family during the Great Depression) with elements of Appalachian folk their hearts are in the right place and it comes through in the warmth of the songs. www.misrarecords.com

SUGARPLUM FAIRIES- THE IMAGES WE GET- STARFISH- This terrific band is comprised of 2 Austrian natives (Silvia and Ben, she sings and he plays) who live in L.A. They have been creating their druggy, Mazzy Star-ish music for over a decade and they keep getting better. This is my fave of their batch of records. Start with the drowsy opener “Waves” then go on to “Plastic Sky” and please continue. www.sugarplumfairies.com

THROUGH THE SPARKS- ALMANAC (MMX) YEAR OF BEASTS- SKYBUCKET- I really enjoyed this band’s debut record, LAZARUS BEACH (2007) but not sure I heard the 2nd one. This ((3rd) is 12 song record is a collection of singles released one per month in 2010. The band are on their own trip and do a fine job mixing Americana with psych rock and on a lot of the songs they remind me of Lambchop (another band who can by joyfully unpredictable). See you on the other side. www.skybucket.com

THE TWO KOREAS SCIENCE ISLAND – RANDY VICAR RECORDSLAST GANG- Canadian bunch with 3 rock critics in the band. If you’re expecting something cerebral (and beardy) forget it, these guys hammer away with a discordant attack (but more melodic that you’d think). I hear bits of The Fall, Sonic Youth, Versus, etc. You get the picture. Well done. www.thetwokoreas.ca

THE TWO MAN GENTLEMEN BAND LIVE IN NEW YORK! – SERIOUS BUSINESS- Andy and Fuller are the T.T.M.G.B. He sings and plays guitar and banjo while Fuller plays the string bass (and sings too). Songs like “Let’s Make a Sandwich”, “I’ve Been Drinking” and “Corn Liquor” are engaging and I’ll bet this (or any) live gig are a hoot. www.seriousbusinessrecords.com

THE TWO MAN GENTLEMEN BAND DOS AMIGOS UNA FIESTA! – SERIOUS BUINESS RCORDS- More of the same (see the above review) only not a live record and on here they’ve added Brian Kantor on drums. Zippty doo dah rock to the max. www.seriousbusinessrecords.com

DAVID VERTESI CARDIOGRAPHY- FILE UNDER MUSIC- Nice collection of low-key, heartfelt pop tunes from the bassist for Canadian funk band Hey Ocean! (thankfully no folk here). The playing is confident and assured sand the lyrics seems to deal mostly with love both lost and found. www.fileundermusic.com

YOUR GRACIOUS HOST SLEEPERS AWAKEN- SELF RELEASED- Michigan bunch led by pop afficianado Tom Curless. On this , the band’s 3rd record, they seem to do what they did on their first 2 (only better),. That is create chiming, jangly pop songs with excellent playing and hooks a plenty. Usually in a Teenage Fan Club vein and well worth checking out. www.myspace.com/gracioushost

SHORT REVIEWS BY JOSEPH KYLE

A Lull: Confetti Reprise EP -- These Chicago-based folk/art rockers may conjure up similarities to Animal Collective, but that's okay, because these guys are pretty good and don't sound so hippie. This little EP is a collection of four songs that were left off their impressive debut album, Confetti. They're not that radically different than the album cuts, but are far from leftovers. It's an enjoyable intro to the band for those not familiar, and those that are will enjoy hearing these extras. www.mushrecords.com

Aidan Baker: Still Life--Why is it that when, in rock music, we talk about an artist making a "dramatic departure," it always means "jazz?" Aidan Baker has made some awesome, inspiring drone and noise records, but here, he goes for the piano, drum-kit, martini bar, Bill Evans route. Not sure what to make of it, but I think I like it, in part for Baker's bravery to do something different. (Self Released)

Barn Owl: Shadowland--This three-song EP is a prelude to a full-length coming this fall, and all I have to say is...bring it on! These three little numbers are haunting, mysterious, and beautiful; they give the impression that something is watching you from the forest. Well, something is, but it ain't telling; the owls are not what they seem. There's a rustic feel to the whole thing, while feeling oddly futuristic. Epic. Compelling. www.thrilljockey.com

Dave Cloud and the Gospel of Power: Practice in the Milky Way -- Never heard this guy. He's heard records by Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, and Captain Beefheart. This is blues-rock indie-rock bar-rock that is big in Nashville, apparently. Or maybe it isn't. I hope Lou Barlow's lawyers hear "On the Rebound," but no the other hand, Barlow's pay-day might not be that great. www.firerecords.com

Coldplay: "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" c/w "Major Minus" -- You either love or hate Coldplay, and though they can be kind of annoying musically, they do have their moments, and this is one of 'em. These two songs make me wonder if they've just discovered the joys that were Madchester. "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" is a great, upbeat tune, perhaps the close they've ever come to a dance number, while "Major Minus" has a Stone Roses groove. Heck, the single's artwork looks like the work of Central Station, the folk who made the iconic Happy Mondays art. And the video? Also trippy, and baggy. Interesting to see where this direction takes them. (Capitol Records)

Crisis of Conformity: "Fist Fight!"/"Kick it Down and Kick It Around" == Not much is known about this long-lost mid-80s hardcore punk band, except that they kind of sound like Black Flag meets Circle Jerks meets Scream meets Trenchmouth, but not in any kind of way. "Fist Fight!" has political lyrics and a DC-style bent, and the B-Side is brief, but utterly catchy. Wonder what happened to these dudes. www.dragcity.com

Eternal Tapestry & Sun Araw--Night Galleries: This record, with its title taken for the late-period Rod Serling production, is the recorded document of the two bands coming together on-stage during South by Southwest. If you're familiar with either group, you know that they make loud, psychedelic noise that's menacing and ominous and compellingly beautiful. That's the case here, with the band making soft noise that works up into loud, almost metal-sounding riffing--and then back down to earth for a beautiful, sublime close. Probably more enjoyable than being in the room, this. www.thrilljockey.com

The Night Marchers: "Thar She Blows" c/w "All Hits" -- Speedo from Rocket From the Crypt and his buddies doin' their thang, of swaggering, staggering, neck-stabbing SoCal rock. The A-side is a fast-paced little affair, while the flip keeps up the tempo. A little glammy, a little punky, a little garage-y, but ALL fun. www.swamirecords.com

Polvo: "Heavy Detour"/"Anchoress": I swear to heck that the intro to "Heavy Detour" sounded like a rip-off of Pink Floyd's The Wall, and the rest of the song does, too, in its own weird way. "Anchoress," the b-side, is, well, a b-side that sounds like Povlo. www.mergerecords.com

Sic Alps--Breadhead: Another band who released a pretty good record this year follows it up with an equally great single. Two of these songs are minute-long lo-fi blasts of mellowness and noise, while the title song is a mellow rocker, and "Can't You See" is a raw, Stones-like rocker that deserves to be more than a b-side. Great stuff! www.dragcity.com

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion/Melvins-- "Black Betty" Two veteran bands do a cover of Leadbelly. To be correct, though, Jon Spencer's take is more a cover of Ram Jam's cover of Leadbelly. The Melvins' take is, well, it's the Melvins. Make of that what you will, but its metal tempo...well... www.amphetaminereptile.com

Woods: "Find Them Empty" c/w "Be There" -- These guys have impressed with their latest album, Sun and Shade, mixing falsettos and jams with some of the best 60s music since the 1960s. This little document is much more the same; "Find Them Empty" features loud, abrasive guitars, and slightly buried vocals, while the flip is a mellow, acoustic drone jam. Good stuff, this. www.sacredbonesrecords.com

 

JULY 2011

AMERICANS IN FRANCE- CRAWLING- ODESSA- I’m not sure why this cd wouldn’t play in my player but it wouldn’t . Still though, it is on the Odessa label and they usually release good records so check this out. www.odessarecords.com

CHOP CHOP- THE SPARK- ARCH ENEMY- 9 songs by one gal, Catherine Cavanagh, who records under the name Chop Chop. THE SPARK is decent synth pop with haunting female vocals but not a lto here got me going. www.archenemy.com

CITY CENTER- REDEEMER- K- This is yet another musical project from Fred Thomas, (Saturday Looks Good to Me, etc.) and this band is his sort of electronic band (think Atlas Sound). I do prefer SLGTM but as always Thomas does unique things with whatever instruments he has at hand. “Obvious” is gorgeous as are a few others. All hail Saint Fred. www.krecs.com

COASTWEST UNREST- OLD WEIRD AMERICA- RECLAIM- This band is a trio but it appears that Noah Dickie plays nearly everything (his brother Josh is on percussion and Alex Barnes is on violin). This is a nice mix of Appalachian folk/blues, reminded me a bit of the more rustic Okkervil River gunk. Bring it! www.reclaimrecords.com

COMMUNIPAW- BIG BLUE- SELF RELEASED- Indie folk band from , where else., my native NJ. New Brunswick to be exact but they aren’t doing the Gaslight Anthem thing. This is more in the Nada Surf vein with decent to very good melodies and good songwriting. “If You Con Back?” was my pick to click. www.communipawmusic.com

FOLKLORE – HOME CHURCH ROAD- SINGLE GIRL MARRIED GIRL- If you are thinking some gentle folk hymns well, you are partly correct. There are some of those but then some cranked up punk gunk and wacked all-over-the-map noise too. I hear a Neutral Milk Hotel influence but these guys have good songs too (unlike some NMH disciples who are too out there…..check out “A Few Years Forward”). www.fairmountfair.com

TORBEN FREYTAG- LIFE AS IT IS- ZIP- Former leader of Swedish popsters Dorian Gray on here he collects 16 tunes from the decade that was 2000- 2010. No lack of melody on this one in fact it is making me look and see if I still have my D.G. cd. Classy. www.ziprecords.com

HELLO MORNING- A FICTION- SELF RELEASED- A Portland band (who I’d previously never heard of) going for a big sound. Taking cues from bands like U2 and Coldplay (with a dash of hazy psych in there) . These 8 songs weren’t my bag (a bit too slick) but hey, they seem to know what they like and that’s ok. www.hellomorningband.com

K- HOLES- S/T- HOZAC- Former Black Lips guys Jack Hines leaves Atlanta for NYC, hires a saxophonist and a nutso drummer and voila! K-Holes are born. This is beautiful/ugly music that wouldn’t sound out of place on a busted turntable with the Pissed Jeans records. You’ve been warned. www.hozacrecords.com

LOHIO- FAMILY TREE ep- SELF RELEASED- 2nd ep from this Pittsburgh, PA based quartet. Only 5 songs but there’s some real ice gunk on here. Humming melodicism, like if Sufjan Stevens fronted a band that was a bit poppier and not as pretentious. The title track is my fave here. www.lohiomusic.com

LOVE INKS- E.S.P.- CITY SLANG- Trio of gals who call Austin home and do a nifty take on chill wave. They’ve got a busy drum machine and Sherry LeBlanc’s vocals make my day on some days. Really. www.cityslang.co,

METAL MOTHER – BONFIRE DIARIES- MM is the brainchild of CA-based chanteuse/composer Tara Tati. The album was mixed by Jeremy Black (Apollo Sunshine). You can hear Tati’s fixation on sci-fi and arcane lore in her little-girlish voice and piano-based songs. She’d probably be a good tour mate for Coco Rosie. And she has a video up, for “Shake,” with pretty colors, primal imagery, and, uh, practically NAKED people, Beavis (heh, heh). www.metalmothermusic.com MARY LEARY

THE MORNINGBIRDS- THE QUICKENING- SELF RELEASED- The duo of Jennifer and Samuel make up this folky duo who do everything from gentle folk pop (not band) to what sounded like reggae (ugh). They cram 22 songs on here so there is a lot to choose form. www.themorningbirds.com

PHINEAS AND THE LONELY LEAVES- THE KIDS WE USED TO BE- SELF RELEASED- There is no one named Phineas in the band and the leader’s name is Tim Feeney but the songwriting is strong. Autumnal tunes with lots of piano and melody. For fans of Ryan Adams or the prettier Okkervil River stuff. Nice. www.lonelyleaves.com

RAVISHERS S/T – SELF RELEASED- Portland band formerly known as Dominic Castillo and the Rock Savants, the new name is better and Dominic and his pals have some serious talent. Unique, sideways pop songs with a few electronic flourishes here and there. Not sure why these guys don’t have a label. www.ravisherstheband.com

RICK RIZZO AND TARA KEY- DOUBLE STAR- THRILL JOCKEY- This is the 2nd collaborative effort form Eleventh Dream Day’s Rizzo and Antietam’s Tara Key. 14 instrumental tracks that mixes electric and acoustic guitars and electronics and while I am generally not a fan of experimental instrumental work this totally works because the two parties involved are so talented. Give it a whirl or ten. www.thrilljockey.com

ROSETTA WEST- RACCOON- SELF RELEASED- “A psych/blue trio from Illinois.” That’s all you really need to know. rosettawest@aol.com

SCARLET SEASON- THE TAXIDERMIST- Here’s what’s on the Fanatic site (Paron’s promotion) re: Scarlet Season: “Pop needn't be fluffy, and can be catchy without being insipid. The new project from Seattle artist Aileen Paron takes a song-centric pop-rock approach and infuses it with a dark, cinematic, neo-synth edge and gothic roots.” What I say: That sounds more or less like what I hear. If you love Bjork and/or Tori Amos it could be right up your alley. www.myspace.com/scarletseasonmusic MARY LEARY

SHARKS- THE JOYS OF LIVING 2008-2010-RISE- Young, UK quartet who have apparently done a few tours with the Gaslight Anthem (who they remind me a little of). This is a compilation of 3 eps and I must say, the songwriting is strong and not what I was expecting. Tough, punchy rock in The Clash vein and good songs, too. www.riserecords.com

SHIPBUILDING CO.- RADIOS AND FLYING BIRDS- GREYDAY- Though it sounds like the name of a full band , this is the work of one guy, Michael Partington (who was in Head of Femur). He plays everything and some of it sounds whimsical like an old Flying Nun band (like on “Shanghai Magley Train”) and other times like the Beatles at their most whimsical. Well done. www.greydayrecords.com

LAURA STEVENSON AND THE CANS- SIT RESIST- DON GIOVANNI- This is the same L.S. who was in Bomb the Music Industry! Here she is with a full cast of talented musicians doing folk pop with unique arrangements and here even more unique voice. Don’t let this one slip by. www.dongiovannirecords.com

STORMS- LAY YOUR SEA COAT ASIDE- ART UNION- This is Lori from the Too Pure band Seely and a pal doing some hypnotic, psychedelic folk rock that is occasionally trance inducing. Not totally unlike what Jose Gonzales is doing and whole it gets a bit too out there at times they usually bring it back to reality and keep the groove. www.wearestorms.com

STREET CHANT- MEANS- ARCH HILL- Part melodic/ part raging New Zealand trio who weave a cool spell with murky rhythms, dissonant guitars and far off vocals to create and enchanting stew. Not as noisy as Surf City but almost a unique. www.archhill.com.nz

THAT GHOST- SONGS OUT HERE- TWO SYLLABLE- Apparently the work of a youngster Ryan Schmale who hails from my former adopted hometown (Santa Rosa, CA). He’ recorded lots of stuff and this is his 2nd proper full length. Echoey/reverby bedroom folk with some sneaky melodies. Reminded me a bit of Sparklehorse. Worth some listens. www.twosyllablerecords.com

THIS WILL DESTROY YOU TUNNEL BLANKET- SUICIDE SQUEEZE- 2nd full-length from this Texas quartet who do not want to be called post rock (you might get hurt if you call them it). 8 tunes that mode at a snail’s pace but weave intricate layers of ambient bliss. The opening tune is over 12 minutes long. See if you can hang. www.myspace.com/suicidesqueezerecords

TRIUMPH OF LETHARGY SKINNED ALIVE TO DEATH- SOME OF THIDS ARE IN THIS TOGETHER- DONLT STOP BELIEVIN- This is Spencer Moody’s (ex- Murder City Devils) new band. Well , not really new because this is their 6th full length. They are the modern day equivalent of Flipper. Yup. www.myspace.com/tolsatd

VIRGIN ISLANDS- ERNIE CHAMBERS V. GOD- THE CONTROL GROUP- Gritty Seattle post punk band with prickly guitars and even pricklier vocals. They are good at what they do just not mah thang. Funny story ion how they titled their record, though. www.thecontrolgroup.com

WILDILDLIFE -GIVE IN TO LIVE- VOLCOM- Psychedelic sludge rock. Sounds great, huh? Music to kill yourself to. www.volcom.com

WOLF RAM HEART- BETRAYAL OF HEARTS- SOVEREIGN STATES- Dark, moody psychedelic pop from this Ohio four piece. The music does take some surprisingly melodic turns so it is not all doom and gloom. Still though ,the songs are well written and even had a Flying Nun vibe at times (think The Chills LOST ep). Nice. www.wolframheart.com

SHORT REVIEWS BY……Kidd Oblivion

He tells you the truth…

ALMOST FREE – IN/OUT – SELF – Anthemic emo-pop a la U2, Phoenix, Wolf Parade and the new Strokes record with some of the worst prog-noodle guitar solo’ing I’ve ever heard.

BABY BABY – MONEY – GOSPEL OF RHYTHM – I’ll give you $50 if you can find 4 bigger dorks with less musical ability than these clowns. This is totally sophomoric, amateur bullshit fronted by some idiot who refers to himself as “Fontez Swaggasaurus” and thanks his penis in the liner notes. Serious dipshit A-holes.

BABY TEARDROPS – X IS FOR LOVE – SELF – Try to imagine the Proclaimers trying to be Fugazi trying to cover Devo. Yeah, you work on that ‘sound-image’ while I throw this disc against the wall. Also: this is further proof that there will never be another good band from Manhattan ever again.

BIG SCARY – FOUR SEASONS – INDEPENDENT – A more schizophrenic band you will nary be able to find. From M. Ward to Radiohead one moment and from Howe Gelb to Aeriel M the next, this collection of EP’s is all over the place. (Btw: There’s a heavy dose of Lou Barlow & Win Butler in here as well…) That said, it did manage to hold my attention and be reasonably entertaining.

BIG TROUBLE – 20 YEARS AND A MILLION BEERS AGO – SELF – Hair metal. From Atlanta. Album title says it all. Dear Tim (editor): Blow me.

BLANK DOGS – COLLECTED BY ITSELF – CAPTURED TRACKS – The jerk from this band should look up Arto Lindsay & Suicide and give them some of his money because the ‘Dogs are merely recycling their circa ’80 No-Wave spew – albeit sufficiently watered down by the Blanks’ love of Erasure, Human League and New Order.

THE BOOZE – AT MAXIMUM VOLUME – UNDERRATED – Homogenized cock-rock that has been done to death, revived, done to death again and is now being regurgitated by bands like this. Please stop.

GREG BROWN – THEN LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE – YEP ROC – Because this guy once owned a record label and was also the musical director for NPR’s Prairie Home Companion radio program, he gets to make his own flaccid roots-rock record for Yep Roc. (I know that’s redundant, shut up.) Furthermore, he gets to have it impeccably recorded at famed Ardent studios in Memphis while bands that would blow his ass outta the water (like Philadelphia’s Bloodfeathers) toil in obscurity. It just ain’t fair people, it just ain’t fair…

DAN CIOPER – WARRIOR UTOPIAN – SELF – This guy should be fucking ashamed of himself. Let’s start with his “headshot” on the album cover - red John Lennon glasses, with scarf & a bucket hat? Seriously? Who told you that looked good? Then there’s the music: self-described as “multi-dimensional, radical folk-rock with a contemporary message.” Really? Radical folk-rock? And what’s yr message exactly? That “even the boring and talentless get to make records because they can afford it”? Are you fucking kidding me? What a coddled, self-indulgent fucking momma’s boy.

COFFEE PROJECT – MOVED ON – SELF – Dear Coffee Project: The happy-go-lucky, acoustic singer/songwriter days of the hacky-sack 90’s are over, so please stop doing this OR move to either Baltimore, MD or Ashville, NC where this behavior is still accepted for some reason.

THE DAGONS – UPON THE DULL EARTH – DEAD SEA CAPTAIN – The following lines come direct from the one-sheet: “Their name is one of their many references to mythology, fairy tales and the ocean.” “Their distinctive sound is raw music with a dark and haunting sheen.” (what!?) “Their most recent recordings have been adding an odd and nightmarish Indian sitar to an already potent brew.” I mean, do I need to even say anything? I think you get the picture.

DAMNGIVERS – S/T – SELF – Mediocre Eagles rip-off or middling alt-country gasp at best. A 4 year old could tell you that this is a half-hearted re-hash of what was originally an impersonation.

DAVILA 666 – TAN BAJO – IN THE RED – A Puerto Rican version of Kid Congo Powers fronting the 3 for 10’s recorded through a tin can, all in Spanish. Totally fucking awesome!

DEEP SLEEP – TURN ME OFF – GRAVE MISTAKE – Stand-up new hardcore that got almost every single thing right! The songs are solid, the artwork’s cool and the drummer has the phrase “fun fun fun” tattooed across his neck! The vocals could be a little higher in the mix, but otherwise this hits the bull’s-eye. They should tour with OFF!

DOPAMINES – EXPECT THE WORST – PAPER & PLASTIK – Good anthemic, buzz-saw punk a la the Points or Something Fierce that has great energy and melodies. My only complaints are that it’s a bit over-produced and the one-trick pony guitar sound is a bit of a let-down.

FATBACK CIRCUS – S/T – SELF – You seriously named your band Fatback Circus? What a bunch of hammerheads. Oh, wait, they’re on the Warped Tour – now it makes sense. Are you sad that the guy from Jackass died? Awww.

GIRL PROBLEMS – DEBUT – SELF – GP is 1 part dance-y pop, 1 part suburban mall hip-hop that, to the untrained ear, could come off as modern baroque or even clever - in a YouTube kind of way. The truth is that it’s just fucking stupid. In other news: Fuck Pro Tools and everyone who bought it.

GLORIE – S/T – MAKESHIFT – Beautifully recorded and orchestrated collection of instrumentals here that reminded me of the best parts of the Mercury Program, Pell Mell, Japancakes and Friends of Dean Martinez. Really nice folks.

THE HEAD AND THE HEART – S/T – SUB POP – Imagine if the Fleet Foxes had little brothers and sisters that started a band too – except they were more innocent, energetic and preferred ELO over Simon & Garfunkel. That’s this band.

JOAN OF ARC – LIFE LIKE – POLYVINYL – Wtf!? These guys are a band again? It must be them ‘cuz it sounds like 1998 math-rock in here – complete with all of the squiggly guitars and herky-jerk drum parts. I was really glad when this fad passed so I’m not really thrilled that it’s back. Ps: No girls will ever like this music or go to these shows. Ever.

KNIFE THE SYMPHONY/LKN – SPLIT EP – CARGO – Nice, rocking split EP here, although KTS totally steal the show with more of their angular, Dischord-ish fury which is both abrasive and enjoyable at the same time. It was also nice to see that they included my previous review of them in their press kit – these fellas are obviously very smart, savvy and well traveled.

JESSE MANLEY – DEVIL’S RED – SELF – The thing is that - I’m pretty broke, see? So, I have a 10 year old computer that barely works – least of all the disc drive. Subsequently, I rely on my circa 1996 cd player to do my work with and said cd player refused to play this disc no matter how many times I tried. So, sorry. Then again, maybe it knows something I don’t…

THE MEASURE – NOTES – NO IDEA – This is a real nice blast of razor sharp punk straight outta the sketchy, fraternity-ghetto of New Brunswick, NJ. Unfortunately, they released this and them immediately broke up so… Nothing to see here folks, move along…

MEAT PUPPETS – LOLLIPOP – MEGAFORCE – It seems fitting that this latest pile offered up by the ‘Puppets was made at Discmakers. Oh, how the mighty have fallen… And check out Kirkwood in his flip-flops on the inside cover! There’s a man who has given up. Jeez Louise. What the hell happened to this band? Just depressing…

JAMES PANTS – S/T – STONES THROW – I actually owe JP a big “thank you” for helping me out. See, I wrote this on a Monday, after a long weekend of drinking wine and eating a lot of heavy food, so I was feeling pretty “plugged up” as they say. Well, I’ll tell ya, I put this cd on and was immediately moved – straight into the bathroom! His music was somehow inspirational to my bowels! The more it played, the more relief I felt! And I am forever indebted. So, thank you James Pants, from the bottom of my colon.

SASSY – DIGGIN DEEP – GOOD TROUBLE – Nice ladies! This female duo stomps through 13 tracks on this debut, which is a nice mix of punk, rock-a-billy and 50’s rock-n-roll. It’s no frills with no solos – just loud, catchy guitar and drums with 2 part harmonies and no bullshit. Definitely sassy.

SCARLET SEASON – THE TAXIDERMIST – SELF – Whiny, brooding girl music unworthy even of the Lilith Fair. What a complainer. Buy a dildo already, Jesus…

SELDON PLAN – COALIZONE DEL VOLERE – THE BEECHFIELDS – This is a really nice retro indie-rock offering from the SP who I’ve enjoyed in the past. A smattering of Sonny Sixkiller, Buddy Sevaris, Grand Champeen and Sugar can be heard echoing throughout this record along with solid vocal harmonies and guitar tones. Grade: B+

SKYBOMBERS – BLACK CAROUSEL – 429 – Alright, now this is the type of record that Steve Wynn should be making instead of doing corny songs about baseball with that old, Jerry Garcia look-a-like Scott McCaughey. The ‘Bombers bring some straight-up melodic, well-crafted indie-rock complete with hooks and harmonies to the table for you. Yet another great fledgling band from the continent of Australia…

STARFUCKER – REPTILIANS – POLYVINYL – Typical Polyvinyl indie-disco for hipsters who wear filthy $250 jeans but can’t pay the electric bill or bother to get out of your way on the sidewalk.

STOCKHOLM SYNDROME – APOLLO – RESPONSE – Here are a few things that piss me off about Stockholm Syndrome: 1. They’re totally faking it. 2. They each have their own publishing companies. 3. They each have their own thanks lists in the liner notes. 4. They each have instrument endorsement deals explicitly laid out in the liner notes. 5. Their played, disconnected band name. They are whores – do not buy their records.

SWEAR JAR – CUSS – PHRATRY – Here are a few things that I really like about Swear Jar: 1. Great band name. 2. They are serious, but don’t take themselves too seriously. 3. Their record was recorded in their practice space to a tape machine. 4. They have a song called “Rastallica.” 5. They obviously love the Minutemen, Pere Ubu, Wire and the gang of 4. These cats are alright! Check ‘em out dammit!

THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS – JOIN US – IDLEWILD – Every song on this record sounds like a TV theme song or bed-music for a show on HGTV, which is probably the highest compliment I could pay them because that is what they do.

THOSE DANCING DAYS – DAYDREAMS AND NIGHTMARES – WITCHITA – Over-produced, commercial pop made specifically to sell products to pre-teens. Sickening.

THE UNITED SONS OF TOIL – WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES EVERYTHING WILL BE BEAUTIFUL – CARGO – Start/stop No-wave songs about world history, social injustices and politics with lots and lots of screaming. I’ll pass, thanks.

 

JUNE 2011

A CAT CALLED CRICKET- WHEN LEAVES FALL- THE BEECHFIELDS- Only two songs here and the first one, “Atlas” is good but not great but the title track is a nice pop tune with plenty of cello and a teeth-sinking hook. Check out other stuff on the label, too. www.thebeechfields.com

BITERS- ALL CHEWED UP- UNDERRATED- This is the 3rd ep by this fine Atlanta band that I have received and this one, like the others, is chock full of searing, chunky power pop. Think Cheap Trick (or the Exploding Hearts) with plenty of hooks and a sneering attitude. They can sneer but they have the songs to back it up. 7 songs. www.underratedrecords.com

CAROL BUI- RED SHIP- EX OH- Cascading , emotional rock from this Tacoma, WA woman. This is her third record and experts say it’s their best but i never heard the first two. There’s been a few PJ Harvey comparisons and I’d say that’s accurate. I didn’t really like her voice and I’m not sure why. www.exohrecords.com

CARDINAL FAMILY SINGERS- THIS IS WHAT WE DO- NC RECORDS- As I read , two guys, Norwood and Peyton left their home of North Carolina and found themselves in Los Angeles. I was expecting something spare and folky but this is upbeat and poppy with nice melodies, tight rhythms and upfront vocals. The song called “Melody” is full of it (melody that is). www.cardinalfamilysingers.com

COLUMBOID- WE WERE ONE- LA SOCIETE EXPEDITIONNAIRE- Moody art rock from a NYC trio where it’s all a clashing of tribal drums, dark synths and moody vocals. At time likes if Ian Curtis sang for Suicide, but not that good. Not my bag but someone’s. www.la-soc.com

CRAWL BABIES- TANGLES- SELF RELEASED- I think this is an American band who want to be Scottish. Some of this really reminds me of The Pastels (in a good way). Cascading loping, melodic pop that wormed its way into my heart. www.crawlbabies.bandcamp.com

DIRTY GOLD- ROAR- AUTUMN TONE- Only 5 songs here by this San Diego trio but it’s promising. I hear some elements of the worldly passions of say Vampire Weekend along with the trippy dreaminess of Beach House. My favorite song is “Sea Hare” but it’s pretty solid all the way around. www.autumntone.com

THE EX- CATCH MY SHOE- EX RECORDS- Dutch politico punks who have been at tit for 30 years (this is their 25th record). This is the first one that doesn’t feature founder/leader GW Sok and suffers a bit because of it. New vocalist Arnold DeBoer isn’t bad and musically they’re still a tornado of ideas but there are better records by them out there (like ‘89’s JOGGERS AND SMOGGERS). www.theex.nl

FIVE EIGHT- YOUR GOD IS DEAD TO ME NOW- IRON HORSE- Athens, GA squad who have been at it for over 2 decades (I had no idea). This is their 7th record and it is mid-tempo rock played with passion but I only thought the songs were ok. I’ll be they kill it live. www.ironhorserecords.com

GWYNETH + MONKO- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Gentle, rolling duo who create some enchanting folk pop. She sings and he plays (guitar, pedal steel, mandolin, etc.) she has a real silky, smooth voice, at times bringing to mind, Neko Case and Iris Dement. A pleasant surprise to say the least. www.gwynethandmonko.com

HIGH HORSE- S/T- HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL- Arizona trio with their debut 7-song cd (also released as a 10”) and this is energetic indie rock with shouty vocals and snakey guitar lines. Sounds like a Pavement (and Built to Spill) influence which is fine by me. Good start fellas. www.highschoolrockfiesta.com

I WAS TOTALLY DESTORYING IT- PRELUDES- GREDAY- 3rd record by this Chapel Hill, NC bunch led by a few folks who were in Sorry About Dresden. It’s easy to be annoyed by the band name but they do occasionally live up to the moniker like on the driving, hooky “Control” and the punchy “Regulators.” Worth checking out. www.greydayrecords.com

KING CREOSOTE- THRAWN- DOMNINO- Scottish dude Kenny Anderson like to record. No, I mean he REALLY likes to record. Apparently since 1995 he has released over 40 records on his own label. His last few have been on Domino and this, like others, is all over the map but has a Anglo-folky feel and that thick Scottish brogue always shines through. If you’re a virgin, like I was, give him a chance. www.dominorecordco.us

KING KONG MAGNETICS- FUTURISTIC MONEY MAKERS- PANCAKE PRPDUCTIONS- They call is satirical hip hop. www.pancakeproductions.net

MARISSA LEVY- 63 SONGS ABOUT JOE- SELF RELEASED- Ok, so it is only 5 songs and they may not even be about Joe. Still this gal has a terrific pop sensibility, a silky (yet strong) voice and I dig her songs. First tune reminded me of first album Juliana Hatfield but by song 2 she lays down an acoustic tune and it gets better from there. www.marissalevy.com

THE LITERARY GREATSD- BLACK BLIZZARD- SELF RELEASED- I really enjoyed this Houston, TX band last record and this one is just as good if not better. They still remind me a bit of the Drive by Truckers with lots of twang, soul and back-up singers (horns too). They can write a darn good song. Put on “Coffee and Friends;’ and go forward my friends. www.theliterarygreats.com

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO- ANSWERS COME IN DREAMS- METROPOLIS- I never liked this band. This did nothing to change my mind. You want a description? Industrial dub. www.metropolis-records.com

THE NECRONAUTS- GAUCHE ET DROITE- HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL- I was expecting some ghastly metal but what I got was 40 songs spread out over two discs by this Mesa, AZ brotherly duo. Musically it is all over the mp,. I guess you could call it indie rock and get away safely but even that doesn’t do it justice. It’s spotty but some of it is pretty darn good. www.thenecronauts.com

JOSH T. PEARSON- LAST OF THE COUNTRY GENTLEMEN- MUTE- Wow, this 7 song record by former Lift to Experience guy Pearson (outta Denton, TX) is heavy. Real heavy. Of the 7 songs4 top the 10 minute mark and one other one is 7 minutes. It seems as I through these meditative songs he is seeking redemption while reliving the pain. It is NOT an easy record to get through though some fans might find redemption of their own in these songs. www.mute.com

GREG POPE- BLUE OCEAN SKY- SELF RELEASED- This pop-meister has been nice enough to send me his previous discs and while this one came out last December I still wanted to scribble a bit about it as it’s his strongest yet. He brings both the power an the pop and “My Resignation” and “I Tried to Like You” are my two faves but not a bad one on here. www.gregpope.net

QUIET HOOVES- SADDLE UP- SELF RELEASED- No surprise that this ramshackle pop band with lots of members is from Athens, GA. Leader Javier Morales takes the band through plenty of peaks and valleys and that describes the music too. Up and down. Good and bad. Butter and margarine. You get my drift? www.partypartypartners.com

REVOLVER- PARALLEL LIVES- EMI- French trio offering 4 songs on this acoustic ep. A bit of a folk feel with some real nice harmonies. Vocalist reminded me a bit of Tindersticks Stuart Staples. I like. www.revolvermusic.tv

VESSELS- HELIOSCOPE- CUCKUNDOO- Moody, atmospheric bunch of Leeds, England with relentless drumming and some odd-placed hooks. “Recur”, with its melodic guitar and cooing vocals was one of my faves while the heavier stuff was more like Mogwai (and not totally up my alley). I like exactly 76% of this record. www.cuckundoorecords.com

DAVE WICHAEL FORTUNE IN LOVE- SELF RELEASED- A flying V guitar and a karate kick in front of a mountain is what Dave has chosen for his cd cover. The music on the disc? Not as meatheaded as you’d think but generic guitar and sorta wimpy vocals. www.myspace.com/davewichael

V/A- ANDRE AND GILDAS PRESENT KITSUNE PARISIEN- KITSUNE- French new wave compilation full of catchy, dancy new wave. That’s all,. www.kitsune.fr

 

MAY 2011

THE ANDERSEN TAPES- AS I WRITE “TODAY” TEN TIMES- FRACTION DISCS- This is Andrea from Free Loan Investments (miss that band) doing the solo thing and it reminded me a bit of Rose Melberg’s solo stuff as well as old UK band Po! Love her sweet vocals and the songs are ace too. www.fractiondiscs.se

BAMBI KINO- S/T- TAPETE- Ok, I didn’t know the concept but thee 4 guys (including Doug GBV Gillard and Ira Elliott from Nada Surf and two other folks) are an homage to the Beatles of 1960 where they played a club in Hamburg, Germany (the Indra Musikclub) and stayed at a hotel called, you guessed it, Bambi Kino. The band even travelled to Germany to record at the same club! The 12 songs here are apparently ones the Beatles played as well. Wow, now that is heavy duty respect. www.tapeterecords.com

BLUE SKIES FOR BLACK HEARTS- EMBRACING THE MODERN AGE- SUPER BIG LTD.- As a producer Pat Kearns has done some bang up jobs for the Exploding Hearts (rip) and the Clorox Girls among others an thankfully with his own band, BSFBH, he not quite as raucous as those two previously mentioned bands but the guy can write some hooky, punchy power pop tunes. Here’s 10 more well worth you precious time. www.superbigltd.com

CALL ME LIGHTNING- WHEN I AM GONE MY BLOOD WILL BE FREE- DUSTY MEDICAL- Thee best Who tribute band to ever call Milwaukee home. Do you wish you saw the Live at Leeds tour? Me too…these guy could do it,. Thundering! www.dustymedical.com

THE CIVIL WARS- BARTON HOLLOW- SENSIBILITY- John Paul White and Joy Williams make up this organic, folk pop duo and it’s all acoustic guitars and rustic harmonies. From the way they croon and the lyrics of love lost (and gained) you might think they’re a couple but I’m told they’re not. It reminded me a bit o the Swell Season and I’ll bet they’re s hit on the coffeehouse circuit. Nice. www.thecivilwars.com

LLOYD COLE- BROKEN RECORD- TAPETE’- Low-key and underrated Brit popster Cole (who apparently lives in the US) is still around and though this record came out last Sept. I have hardly seen any press on it. It’s 11 songs of gentle, country-influenced pop tunes (think Neil Halstead’s solo record). Seriously, don’t give up on this guy, he still writes some mighty fine songs. www.tapeterecords.com

NATE CURRIN- GOODNIGHT CALIFORNIA- ARCHAIC CANNON- Gainesville, FL guy doing some real basic pop/rock that’s got some hooks but this is a bit too lite for my ears (and that’s saying something). You could hear songs like these during a breakup scene on THE HILLS. www.natecurrin.com

DANGEROUS PONIES- S/T- SELF RELEASED- OK, this is quirky pop music that isn’t afraid to make the illegal u-turn from time to time. At times it reminds me of San Fran’s late, great Beulah while other times like Sweden’s off-kilter Love Is All. They switch gears more than Mario Andretti and though the female vocalist annoys me at times it’s a small price to pay for solid pop. Which this is. www.punkrockpayroll.com

THE DISTRICT ATTORNEYS- ORDERS FROM…- SELF RELEASED- This Atlanta bunch seem on the right path on these breezy, laid back, twangy tunes. “Going to Carolina” starts things off on the right foot and by the time they hit tune 4, “Sweet Heart All Reckless and Humble” you feel like you’re in on some secret Bonnaroo band. www.myspace.com/thedistrictattorneys

EKSI EKSO- BROWN SHARK RED LION- THE MYLENE SHEATH- Not sure what to make of these Boston-based pop mad scientists. They’re all over the place. I hear beats, off-kilter synth work and dreamy vocals. Not sure if I like it but it’s making me curious and I have gone back to it a few times. Let me go play it again. www.eksiekso.com

EL OBO- OXFORD BASEMENT COLLECTION- ESPERANZA PLANTATION- The main guy for Colour Revolt (Jesse Coppenbarger) offers up some brooding folk but the stuff was too moany and didn’t seem to speed up from, its glacial pace. Maybe if I was in a different mood? www.esperanzaplantation.com

ANDY FRIEDMAN – LASERBEAMS AND DREAMS- CITY SALVAGE- NYC based cartoonist turned musician who bangs out some low-key , creaky folk (the photo on the cover he looks a bit like a young Allen Ginsberg). He and his 2 co-horts (no drums) recorded this over a 24 hour period with one overdub. I wasn’t completely taken but it wasn’t bad, www.citysalvagerecords.com

THE FUTUREBIRDS- EP- AUTUMN TONE- Athens, GA bunch who gave is the terrific HAMPTON’S LULLABY last year and here they are with 6 more song of fuzzy grace and beauty. The band harmonizes wonderfully and who doesn’t love a gallon of reverb. If you think My Morning Jacket are spinning their wheels then buy this. Now. www.autumntone.com

HICKOIDS- KICKING IT WITH THE TWITS- SAUXTEX- San Antonio’s finest (they’ve been around for nearly 3 decades) tackles 8 covers here including The Who (“Pictures of Lily”, Stones (“Have you seen your mother Baby, standing in the shadow?”), Elton John (“Bennie and the Jets”). The Damned (“Neat Neat Neat”) and others. About 75% great. www.saustexmedia.com

DANIEL MARTIN MOORE- IN THE COOL OF THE DAY- SUB POP- Gorgeous Appalachian folk from this KY guy. He offers a few traditional and some covers too but his originals are the ones that truly shine. It’s all over in 30 minutes (11 songs) and as the title implies, as relaxing as a weary rest on the wrap-around front porch. www.subpop.com

PARLOURS- EP- AQUIESTA MOS RECORDS- Only 5 tunes by this promising quartet form Des Moines, IA (led by the sweet-voiced Dana Halferty) but 5 lovely folk-pop tunes. “I think I’ll Call You Mine” is gentle and sultry while “So Still” adds some more cajones to the mix. All 5 tunes are worthy. www.aquiestamosrecords.com

THE PERFECT VESSELS- NAME OUR OWN STARS- MAKESHIFT- Pretty good Memphis trio who bust out some real nice pop songs on this record. There’s some real nice melodies but the record is 15 songs long and they could have whittled it down to about 9 or 10 and made a real strong record. Record by Doug Easley who makes everything sound better. www.makeshiftmusic.com

POOR BUT SEXY- LET’S MOVE IN TOGETHER- SELF RELEASED- Kinda like Steely Dan gone really bad disco. Any band that has a song called “Hotter than a Poptart” deserves exactly what it gets. Yeesh. www.poorbutsexydc.com

REFRIGERATOR- DANGEROUS- SHRIMPER- The Brothers Callachi return for their first record in 4 years. It is a pretty stripped down affair with lots of lo-fi acoustic guitar and Allen singing. The songs have a bit of an unfinished quality to them and while not their best record, it’s still solid in parts. www.midheaven.com

SARANDON- AGE OF REASON- ODDBOX/SLUMBERLAND- It’s pretty rare when I’m not smitten with a release on the Slumberland label but this band is one of those. This is a concept record being in between each song some dour sounding Brit guy is complaining about something or other. The songs, like all Sarandon tunes, are short, choppy, edgy and sorta like Wire and The Minutemen. Meh (best song title “Mustn’t Grumble”). www.slumberlandrecords.com

RICK SHAFFER- HIDDEN CHARMS- SELF RELEASED- Old school Philly guy (also in The Reds) who offers up his 2nd solo record with some nice down home rock where that spot between blues and rockabilly meets up. My pick to click is the slow, murky “Buy and Sell.” www.tarockmusic.com

STERLING LOONS- MARCH TO THE TUNE- KOOL KAT MUSIK- Seattle bunch with the goofy name whose last record came out 7 years ago. These guys mine more of a freakbeat/garage/psych territory than any power pop (which the label is usually known for. I found it to be more wanky than swanky. www.koolkatmusik.com

WATTS- ON THE DIAL- SELF RELEASED- Boston quartet doing some snotty garage- boogie rock . Vocalist Dan Kopko sounds like he has a 3-pack a day habit and while it may not be good for his health it is good for we listeners who wish Stweven Tyler still had some balls. www.myspace.com/wattsrock

YOUNG PRISMS- FRIENDS FOR NOW- KANINE- This San Francisco band kicked up enough fuzzy dust on this debut lp that I was surprised it didn’t have a Slumberland logo on the back of it. The songs are drenched in gallons of soot and fuzz while the male/female vocals float over top. Things Daydream Nation meets Isn’t Anything. The songs are decent to good but could be better. That’ll be the next record. www.kaninerecords.com

SHORT REVIEWS BY JOSEPH KYLE

Mira-The Echo Lingers On: Not a misspelling of the K Records chanteuse, but this is an odds and sods collection from the late Floridian darkwave band, who made music that was similar in nature to Cranes, Lush, Slowdive and the other bands on their label, Projekt. This collection of outtakes, unreleased songs, and demos is a rather nice listen; it's not all darkness; occasionally, like on "For Now," the band takes on a sound not far removed from The Pretenders. But like demo collections, quality varies between songs and some feel unfinished. Personal choice: "In The End," the epic closer, which may be a statement of the bands' status. It's loud, haunting and dark--beautiful. (Projekt)

Chikita Violenta: TRE3S--This Mexican band does the anthem-laced indie rock thing quite well; if it weren't out of favor, I'm sure they'd be a great stadium rock band, like, say, Slade, or Kiss. Instead, they're doing the Phoenix/Elbow/NPR rock thing, and I got no complaints with it. It doesn't overwhelm, but it doesn't offend, either. I'd probably dig jamming this on a road trip, but probably not anywhere else that requires sitting still and no movement. (Arts&Crafts)

Jackie-O-Motherfucker: Earth Sound System--Do you like Pink Floyd's "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In a Cave and Grooving With A Pict?" Well, apparently these guys do, because this album sounds like a jam session based around it. If you dig rootsy field recordings, you might like this. Or you might not. I could go either way. (Fire Records)

Karl Blau: Max--K Records star does the slow jam jazz thing on a slab of twelve inch vinyl, and it ain't bad. Blau's voice you either love or hate, but I dig it. He's giving his all on "Celebrate by Singing," but "Golden Chariot" sounds like he stole it from Lois's unreleased treasure chest of songs, with a Dub Narcotic twist to boot. The other songs are nice, but not as nice as as those previous songs. Still, it's like something I'd listen to on a rainy afternoon and would find it a fitting soundtrack--like it is today. (K Records)

The Appleseed Cast: Middle States-- This is a prelude to a big comeback thing for these Kansas-based atmospheric rockers, who have had crap luck with record labels (how many have they signed to that have closed down?) but are now back with a four-song EP. They're still doing the heavy, dark, emotionally appealing atmospheric rock thing that they've been doing since the mid 1990s. Best one is the epic closer, the fifteen minute "Three Rivers." Welcome back! (Graveface)

The Sea and Cake: The Moonlight Butterfly: This Chicago-based institution returns with EP in hand. They're exactly as you remember them: jazzy, breezy, a little bit poppy, and sometimes "experimental." When they go experimental on the title track, it's really nice. But when they go straight pop on "Up on the North Shore" and "Monday," it's equally nice, and these songs find lead singer Sam Prekop in fine form. No real surprises here, folk--just consistently strong pop music. (Thrill Jockey)

Lord Huron: Mighty -- What if Animal Collective were inspired not by whoever it is they're inspired by, but by Enya? Well, throw in the AC influence with Enya, mix gently with a little generic world music, and presto! You've got Lord Huron's EP Mighty. (Self Released)

Barn Owl & The Infinite String Band: You'd expect something rustic with a name like Barn Owl, but noooooope. You're getting drones, mister! And not bad drones at that. Their Thrill Jockey records are a bit more refined, but this collaboration with The Infinite String Ensemble features several long (near ten minutes each) songs that drone on and on and on. It ain't bad but it's definitely something you'll need to be in the mood for. I like it, though, because it is very relaxing. In a loud, droned-out way. (Important Records)

Western Hymns: Out of the Way EP: Wondered what happened to Sarah Utter, from the wonderful Bangs? Well she's got a great new band called Western Hymns, with Craig from The Old Haunts. Their music--a raw, shambling mess of garage rock, make me ask the question, "Whatever happened to the days of Greg Sage, Royal Trux, and Dead Moon?" This is some great stuff! (K Records)

 

APRIL 2011

GREGG ALLMAN- LOW COUNTRY BLUES- ROUNDER- For Allman’s first solo record in 14 year he brings in T-Bone Burnett as producer and digs up 12 obscure blues songs on this all-covers record. You’ll hear Skip James “Devil got my Woman”, BB Kings “Please Accept My Love” and plenty more. Allman has the perfect voice for these songs and the pro (yet understated backing back is on track. www.rounder.com

ALSO- MUSIC BELONGS TO YOU- SELF RELEASED- Swooning, dramatic rock in the Doves/ Tindersticks vein. Opening tune “I Love You” was a gorgeous cut as are a few other but about half of these cuts are more plod than pep. Woulda made a solid EP. www.alsomusic.com

KASEY ANDERSON AND THE HONKIES- HEART OF A DOG- RED RIVER- Rip roaring trad rock from this this Pac NW guy. He could’ve left off the gut-bucket blues opener (“The Wrong Light”)( but the rest is mostly fist-pumping, including the hidden track and the end, a cover of the English Beat’s “Save it for Later.” www.kaseyanderson.com

ANIMAL PRUFROCK- CONGRATULATIONS; THANK YOU + I’M SORRY- RIGHTEOUS BABE- A bi-polar , transgender singer songwriter who was one half of the duo Bitch and Animal. These 12 songs are folk musings with some occasionally forays into new wave and some soul too. Minor chords, no hooks and pretty obnoxious, really. www.ruighteopusbabe.com

BIRDS OF AVALON- S/T- BLADEN COUNTY- Recorded by Mitch Easter but this is definitely more of thee stoner , psych rock with a bit of a bluesy vibe variety. The vocalist even sounds like Robert Plant at times (listen to “Invasion”). There are the occasional pop hooks but this is going more for the jugular, in other words, I would loved this is high school but now? Not so much. www.bladencountyrecords.com

BIRDSONG AT MORNING- ANNALS OF MY GLASS HOUSE : ABRIDGED- BLUE GENTIAN- This is a sampler of this project which is a 4-cd/25-song record. This sampler had 11 of those songs and it’s real folk rock lite (think James Taylor or James Blunt). It probably has the coffee house crowd swooning. www.birdsongsatmorning.com

BLANK PAGES- ABOLSUTE UNCERTAINY- KOOL KAT- This NJ band used to be on Face Down Records but have jumped to Kool Kat, another fine power pop label (not sure why I felt the need to mention that). They are still creating hooky, melodic, mid-tempo power with a baker’s dozen of solid tunes. My faves are are “Let It All Out” and “Help Me.” www.blankpagespop.com

JESSE BREWSTER- WRECKING BALL AT THE CONCERT HALL- CROOKED PRAIRIE- Regular guy rock form , well, not the heartland (as I expected) but from San Fran. This guy reminded me of Tom Petty’s more rootsy musings and Brewster can write a pretty good pop song. Opener “All Those Things I Said” is the pick to click here but several of these tunes are worthy. www.jessebrewster.com

BREE BRUNS- S/T EP- HONEY SPOT- 4 tunes and they are all covers. She hits thee classic (Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Fats Waller and Cole Porter). It’s buoyed by Bruns’ sweet voice and the stand-up bass. Sunday morning music. www.honeyspotrecords.com

CHAMBERLIN- BITTER BLOOD- ROLL CALL- This laid-back bunch hails from Vermont, toured with Grace Potter & the Nocturnals and have released their very good debut record. A bit jangly with a real organic feel, think along the lines of My Morning Jacket or Band of Horses, and mostly importantly, the songwriting is solid. www.rollcallrecords.com

ARRON DEAN- MPLS- SELF RELEASED- Uber talented singer-songwriter originally from South Africa (though this was recorded all over: BKNY, Berkeley, CA, Franklin, TN and yes, some in MPLS) who immediately brings to mind the early work of Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) with a gentle yet melodic style. This is definitely a cut above the pack. www.arrondean.com

BRENT DEBOER- THE FARMER- SELF RELEASED- You may know Mr. DeBoer better as Fathead, drummer for psych-rockers The Dandy Warhols, but you probably wouldn't have thought of his main gig listening to The Farmer, his debut EP. Unlike guitarist Peter Holmstrom's Pete International Airport, which (ahem) arose from the band's recent hiatus, the songs found on The Farmer are short, brief atmospheric folk-like songs that might be called alt.country by some, psych-country by others, and, well, beautiful by all who hear it. This EP is all-too-brief, but it never wears out its welcome. "My Heart's a Joke" and "Sick of Where I've Been" hint at the self-loathing the late Elliott Smith excelled at, but DeBoer is not imitating. DeBoer often blurs his voice and the words and making a kaleidoscopic, multicolored sound. By the time you get into The Farmer's groove, the record's over, which is a shame. It's a lovely diversion; here's to hearing more of his contributions to future Dandys records! www.brentdeboer.com JOSEPH KYLE

TIM DELAUGHTER AND THE POLYPHONIC SPREE- THE VISIONEERS OST - SELF RELEASED- Talk about flying under the radar---this brief album is the score to a film released a few years ago, and while it is credited to Tim DeLaughter and the Polyphonic Spree, it's most certainly not like what you would expect from a Polyphonic Spree record. In fact, you wouldn't know this was the Spree unless you were told. You've just been told. Instead of grand, symphonic movements, you get small pieces, sketches that, if developed, his band could really make special, such as "Charisma," and the quiet "Times are Changing." Other songs have a Brian Eno vibe, like "Dreamnaut" and "Listen." Most of the songs are piano-based, with effects and quiet accompaniment. If anything, the music here reminded me of Air and their score to the The Virgin Suicides. This "album" is brief, at only 20 minutes, and if you're expecting the happy, sunshine-y vibe of previous glories, you'll need to look elsewhere. www.thepolyphonicspree.com JOSEPH KYLE

DUCHESS LEO- GOLDEN GRAY- WHALE HEART- Not one but two guys here, one sings and the other produces and they have been called Drizzly Bear (ha ha ha ). It’s got loops, beats, tweaks and yes, hooks. “Bloom” is 5:08 of gorgeousness an a few other fit that bill a well. Give in…. www.whaleheartrecords.com

EASTER ISLAND- BETTER THINGS- SELF RELEASED- Athens, GA bunch who like the quiet/loud dynamic and seem to go for a 90’s vibe with music that edds and flows, saunters and crawls. My pick to click is the swelling title track. www.myspace.com/easterislandmusic

EKSI EKSO- KILLS OF THE FLOOD TIDE single- MYLENE SHEATH- 2 song primer by this Boston art-pop trio a teaser for their upcoming BROWN SHARK RED LION cd. The rhythms shuffle and the vocals sway with some soaring keyboards. The a-side is terrific and the b-side, “Bellows to the Brass Lens” is nearly as good. www.mylenesheath.com

ELECTRIC SHEPHERD- S/T- SELF RELEASED- San Fran trio who look like they’d fit the bill of a doom metal band (St. Vitus?) but go more for an out there psych/post rock feel (which I liked) and then slipping off into a murky blues territory (which I didn’t). I liked about half this and they do seem dedicated to their craft. www.myspace.com/electricshepherdmusic

ELSEWHERE- 1981= MISS CASHEW- A Boston trio of “atypical punks with corporate day jobs “ (their words). They claim to be influenced equally by Duran Duran and the Sex Pistols (Rush, too). Some decent hooks, but a bit too prog for me. www.elsewhere-band.com

ENJOY YOUR PUMAS- COMMONALITY- MFM- Canadian bunch (form Winnipeg) led by female vocalist Rosie Blais with Bloc Party-ish rhythms. Blais’s vocals have plenty of personality but it’s not really my thing. I could see them getting huge and again, they have talent but not my bag. www.enjoyyourpumas.com

EPIGENE- A WALL STREET ODYSSEY- SELF RELEASED- Wow, these guys pumped a lot of time, money and energy into this project. It is a 2-cd set with a booklet and by the hubby/wife team of Sean Bigler and Bonnie Lykes. It is a rock opera that tells a story of a Wall Street guy gone bad (ends up homeless) then goes to live in the country. The songwriting is not bad but not great (we’ll call it quirky and eclectic) but I have to give them props for the whole package. www.epigenemusic.com

EULOGIES- TEAR THE FENCES DOWN- DANGERBIRD- Angelino Peter Walker released a few solo records in the mid-2000’s before finding some bandmates and forming Eulogies. On this, their 3rd record, Walker’s idiosyncratic poop style works wonders with indelible hooks and off-kilter , shuffling rhythms,. He also has a way with words making TEAR THE FENCES DOWN all the more unique an engaging. www.dangerbirdrecords.com

FAKE PROBLEMS- REAL GHOST CAUGHT ON TAPE- SIDEONEDUMMY- Was expecting something else (maybe some pop punk?) but this is an interesting mix of emo, some occasional folk, a but o’ falsetto soul (“5678”) and some good old anthems (think Gaslight Anthem). All from 4 guys outta Naples, Florida. Who’ da’ thunk it? www.sideonedummy.com

MARC FARRE- ONE HAND ON THE NIGHT- ALL WEATHER MUSIC- French/American guy with his 5th record here. The rhythms are pulsing and the mood is dark. A bit like a moodier Nick Cave. He has a talented cast of characters alongside him and offers a Serge Gainesbourg cover too. www.marcfarre.com

FREEBASS- IT’S A BEAUTFUL LIFE- HACIENDA- The supergroup that doesn’t exist anymore. Peter Hook, Andy Rourke and Main from the Stone Roses Yeah, on paper it sounded good and it’s not awful but the songwriting just isn’t there. It’s all over the map musically and that bonus disc with all those instrumental mixes…..egads! www.24hourservicestation.com

FRENCH MIAMI- MOTOR SKILLS- DEATH BY AUDIO- On their 2009 debut this Brooklyn trio crammed it with interesting curvy, post-punk that wasn’t devoid of hooks. On this 5-song follow up the band gets more experimental and even approaches Krautrock at times minus the metronome. “Older” was my fave here but overall I dig the debut more. www.deathbyaudiorecords.com

GANG OF FOUR- CONTENT- YEP ROC- Not nearly as good as ENTERTAINMENT. www.yeproc.com

GOLDENBOY- SLEEPWALKER- EENIE MEENIE- I guess in addition to p;ayign sideman for several bands (Bright Eyes, Grandaddy, Elliott Smiths, etc.) leader Shon Sullivan occasionally fins time to write his own music and this 2nd Goldenboy disc captures Sullivan in a real melodic mood with a glowing warms radiating from, most of these songs. With pop songs this good you wonder why he plays sideman. www.eeniemeenie.com

RACHEL GOODRICH- S/T- YELLOW BEAR- Hailing from the land of sun and bikinis (Miami) Rachel popped onto the scene a few years ago with her debut and now this sophomore effort with a big name producer (Greg Wells). Her songs are still, folky, charming and unique. There’s bits of beat, vaudeville, indie pop and the like. A wonderful listen. www.myspace.com/rachelgoodrich

ALAIN JOHANNES- SPARK- SELF RELEASED- Had no ideas who this guy was but read a bit and heard he has lent his guitar prowess to records by folks like Jason Falkner, Mark Lanegan, Chris Cornell, Queens of the Stone Age and plenty more. This record is a tribute to his late wife and explores unique pop territories that are at times both unique and moving. www.dangerbirdrecords.com

LO-FI RESISTANCE- DEEP BREATH- SOUND LANGUAGE- Young dude Randy McStine offers up 11 songs on here and while it’s not always my bag the guy has got talent. Apparently he has folks from Spock’s Bead and King’s X helping (didn’t impress me) an there’ big of prog stew all over the place but there; some stunning pop bits too, as well a loops an electronics as well. A guilty pleasure? At times, yeah. www.myspace.com/lofiresistance

LULLWATER- SILHOUETTE- SPECTRA- Athens, GA bunch who on this, their debut, go for the immediate southern rock thang by aping bad Skynyrd boogie on “Worse by Better.” They make up for it on “Amsterdam” with a pop hook that would make the Drive by Truckers proud. I also hear the punch of Portland’s I Can Lick any Sonfofabitch in the House and I can already see the can of beer being hoisted at their live shows already. www.spectrarecords.com

JAKE MANN + THE UPPER HAND- PARALLEL SOUTH- CROSSBILL- Decent to good Bay Area songwriter who mostly reminds me of Tom Petty but I did hear bits of say Pavement in there too. “Below the Line” was a nice pop song and hey, he’s going for it. www.crossbillrecords.com

GRAHAM REPULSKI - ELECTRIC WORRIER- SHORTER RECORDINGS- NJ quartet led by, you got it , the man himself, Graham Repulski. Mastered by former GBV-er Todd Tobias and the first thing you’ll hear on these tunes is some righteous Pollard love. Short noisy pop nuggets that are always in the red and don’t forget to bag the hooks. I dig it and you will too (or else). www.myspace.com/grahamrepulski

MATT & KIM- SIDEWALKS- DFADER- Brooklyn’s favorite couple return with their 3rd record and it’s not much different than the first 2 cept…well, it’s way better produced. Sometimes to a fault as at time’s Kim’s drums sound programmed. Still these guys are the punkier cousins to Mates of State. I still have yet to see M & K live, but I hear I really need to. www.faderlabel.com

NEW MEXICO- HAVE YOU MET MY FRIEND?- SELF RELEASED- 7 tunes of tight, taut , wiry rock that has plenty of hooks. They sorta reminded me a bit of The Soft Pack Opening cut “Motion Sickness” sets a good tone of the rest of the record. www.newmexicoband.bandcamp.com

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS- KEYS TO THE KINGDOM- SONGS OF THE SOUTH- These three are back with some more of their swampy / boogie rock. A lot hookier and less jammy than I expected. Best song title: “Jumpercable Blues.” www.nmallstars.com

ISAAC RUSSELL- S/T ep- COLUMBIA- Pleasant singer-songwriter fare from thus NYC dude who recorded these 5 songs in Mississippi. He knows his way around an acoustic guitar and tosses in some sticky hooks too. Maybe the next Jeff Buckley? www.isaacrussell.com

SONNY & THE SANDWITCHES- 7”- ENDLESS NEST- Sonny Smith, leader of Sonny & The Sunsets, nearly drowned. He wrote a book about it. Then, instead of the book, he wrote some songs about it. That's what this single is. With his friends The Sandwitches (never heard of 'em either), he recorded these four songs. The difference between these songs and his main gig is that the song titles are longer, there's more country twang to be found, and these songs are weepies--songs about death, dying, and loss. I personally love the Neil Young-ish "Through the Fog and Haze," and "Cathedral in the Dark" sounds like a Harvest outtake. While not as catchy as The Sunsets, these songs have a dark sing-along catchiness that I enjoy, and though the subject matter is supposed to be dark, I can't say these songs didn't make me smile. This self-titled release is a lovely little diversion whilst we wait for the next Sonny & The Sunsets album, but I have to say that maybe a Sonny & The Sandwitches album wouldn't be a bad idea, either. www.endlessnest.com JOSEPH KYLE

W.H.W. (WELCOME HOME WALKER)- SUDS- SELF RELEASED- Portland bunch who released a decent 7” that I have but ken Dirtnap swore to me that their new stuff (ie: this) was miles better and he’s right. Trashy/ hooky garage pop in the Reigning Sound vein. Explore www.myspace.com/welcomehomewalker.

X-RAY PRESS- UVB-76- X-RAY PRESS- When a band’s biggest influence is (post hardcore outfit) Don Caballero I know I’m going to hate it. I hated this. www.xraypress.net

MARCH 2011

THE ARRIVALS- VOLATILE MOTLOTOV- RECESS- Had not realized that this Chicago bunch had been around for so long (first tape: 1997) as they had some releases on the Thick label in the early 2000’s. This is high-energy, fist-pumping punk (ala their heroes, Naked Raygun). “Two Years’ is a great way to start off a record and most of the rest is decent to very good. www.recessrecords.com

BADLY DRAWN BOY- IT’S WHAT I’M THINKING PART 1: PHOTOGRAPHING SNOWFLAKES- THE END- First BDB full-length since 2006 if I’m not mistaken. This has a nice mix of real low-key acoustic numbers (“In Safe Hands”, etc.) mixed with some beautifully orchestrated numbers (“Too Many Miracles”, “What Tomorrow Brings, etc.). It all sounds a bit tentative, as if he’s trying to get back to his glory days but he really shouldn’t worry, most of this is good. www.theendrecords.com

THE DAVENPORTS- WHY THE GREAT GALLOP?- MOTHER WEST- Only the 3rd record in a decade from thus BKNY pop bunch led by pop maven Scott Klass. On initial listen they reminded me a bit of Fountains of Wayne (Klass used to play with FOW’s Chris Collingswood) but they get a bit moodier (some cello and violin, especially on the beautiful “Figure Me Out”). Nice mix of tempos and strong songwriting too. www.motherest.com

JOSEPHINE FOSTER & THE VICTOR HERRERO BAND- ANDA JALEO- FIRE- Live collection of tunes written by Federico Garcia Lorca (apparently his Las Canciones Polulares collection, originally recorded in 1931 but banned back then) and the sound quality is average and you have to put up with Foster’s voice…oh boy. I understand the importance of it all but not mah thing. www.firerecords.com

FUCK KNIGHTS- THE RECORDED BY GARY BURGER FROM THE MONKS EP- CRUSTACEAN- Way in the red garage rock by these 4 lads and yes, they hauled their cookies to Turtle River, MN to have Mr. Burger record them. Nothing earth-shattering here, just some good, raunchy garage rock. www.crustaceanrecords.com

V/A- THE HELIGOATS- LET LOOSE / SAM HUMANS LIVE FREE- GREYDAY- Split 10” by these two bands, Sam Humans, who I’d never heard of before is a Californian who looks like Sam Beam and sounds like David Berman,. The Heligoats are a Bellingham, WA combo doing jaggedy rock that I have never much care for. www.greydayrecords.com

IMPOSSIBLE HAIR- TOAST A DOZEN ON THE OUTSIDE- SELF RELEASED- Most excellent 2nd lp by this DC-area bunch who take some cues from GBV and bust it all wide open with some terrific, short songs. I’ve got an advance of it so I don’t even have song titles but trust me on this one. http://www.myspace.com/impossiblehair

LOW WATER- THE TASTE YOU KNOW AND ENJOY- SELF RELEASED- 4th record by this BKNY quartet who quite frankly don’t care if you’ve never heard of them, thank you very much. This thoughtful, well-played pop music with delicate melodies and harmonies to boot. At times they reminded me of Wilco (the good stuff). Start with “I Amplify” and go from there. www.myspace.com/lowwater

LUV CLOWNS- LOVE CLOWNS!- GONER- Would you want Harlan T. Bobo entertaining YOUR kids? The answer is, of course you would. This kids (not really) record was spawned in Memphis, the only town this COULDA come from. Oh sure, there’s songs like “Mr. Bubble”, “Jump Up!” and “Do the Rooster!” If your kids favorite relative is ol’ drunk uncle Jimmy then yes, they will love this , otherwise, this is for the growed-ups in the house. www.goner-records.com

MINIATURE TOGERS- FORTRESS- MODERN ART- Kept hearing good things about this band and I, of course, get to hear the art-damaged 2nd release instead of the (supposedly classic) debut. These guys left Phoenix for Brooklyn and decide to get all experimental on us. I need to find that debut. www.modernartrecords.com

OARS- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Brooklyn via Seattle synth pop due who originally reminded me of The Drums but these guys add some beats (ala Postal Service). I dig the upbeat stuff ((“Black Eyes”, “Karats”, etc.) but am more lukewarm ion their moodier stuff. So there you go.

PIGEONS- LIASONS- SOFT ABUSE- Glad to see the Soft Abuse label is s still in action, This is the duo of Clark and Wednesday and these 8 songs ooze hazy psychedelic beauty (ala Opal) and they even include a French sung Serge Gainesbourg cover (and lived in the gay Paree for a while too). At times Wednesday’s vocals will charm the pants off you. Really. www.softabuse.com

QUIET LIFE- BIG GREEN- SAFETY MEETING- Jersey boys (like me) who landed in Portland after a few other stops. These might seem like they chew on hay but that’s the harmonica talking. Still I’m thinking Gram Parson is on their turntable a lot and these 10 songs, with titles like “Easy to Please” and “Sweet As Molasses” are nearly impossible not to like. Try me. www.safetymeeting.net

SCATTERED TREES- SYMPATHY- ROLL CALL- Moody bunch from Chicago who create mostly slow, deliberate tunes. Most of this was written after vocalist Nate Eiesland’s dad died and while the band is certainly talented and the sound appealing, most of the songs didn’t do it for me here (I did like “Love and Leave” though) www.scatteredtreesmusic.com

JOHN SHIPE- VILLAIN- INVOLUSHUN- Low-key pop guy who could easily get lost in the shuffle but the guy is a talented songwriter with a flair for intelligent lyrics and able to eek out a hook , it seems, whenever he wants to. Opening tune “Lion” didn’t do it for me but the next several (including the title track) did. Might be like a Tommy Keene, forever laying under the radar but I hope not. www.johnshipe.com

RUSSEL K. SHORES- L.S 5- SELF RELEASED- 7 tunes (written for his wife) by an apparently longtime funk/soul/blues dude. This to me sounded like jazz lite and was not my bag at all. www.myspace.com/russelkshores

SOFT CIRCLE- SHORE OBSESSED- PPM- This is a solo project of former Black Dice dude Hisham Bharoocha who seems to have mellowed out a bit and is focused more on chill dance music. He’s a drummer but I don’t think he plays drums on here, it’s more like beats, samples, drum machine and some cool synth work. “Don’t Know” is my pick to click but a lot of this is strong, www.postpresentmedium.com

SOLVENTS- FORGIVE YR. BLOOD- BEE RESIN- Judging by the cover I was think a gritty punk band (like an early Kill Rock Stars one) but this is moodier and less punk but still good. The trio makes good use of the violin and that beautiful piano on ”Empty Vessel Blues” was a thing of beauty. Not all tunes hit but a few are really good. www.myspace.com/thesolvents

EDDIE SPAGHETTI- SUNDOWNER- BLOODSHOT- Solo record #3 from the former frontman of The Supersuckers. This batch is mostly covers where he tackles tunes by Johnny Cash, Steve Earle and his old pal Rick Sims (Lee Harvey Oswald Band) and even countrys up The Dwarves, ahem, classic, “Everybody’s Girl.” Most of this is breezy and fun and it as that unmistakable Spaghetti flair to it all. Amen. www.bloodshotrecords.com

TAME IMPALA- INNERSPEAKER- MODULAR- Trio of Perth, Australia youngster (they started a decade ago as 13 year olds) who channel everything from old psych, Brit pop and howling garage on this strong debut. Oh sure, at times singer Kevin Parker is a dead ringer for John Lennon and other times it’s a ll a bit, erm, too much (there I said it) but still , for a debut , these guys oughta be damn proud. www.modularpeople.com

THORCRAFT COBRA- THE THORCRAFT COBRA EP- SELF RELEASED- The name had me thinking a bad 00’s alterna rock band but happily this isn’t that. This is a duo, a guy named Billy on guitar and vocals and a gal name Tammy on drums (she’s spent some time playing with the Sparks guys). Only 8 tunes here but a real nice mix of pop styles . “True Love” will make some mix tapes. Yes, I still make those, don’t YOU? www.thorcraftcobra.com

THROUGH THE SPARKS- WORM MOON WANING- SKYBUCKET- They hail from ‘bama and on this, their sophomore release, they meld some cool Flaming Lips-isms with a hint of Americana and it’s a nice mix of chugging pop (“Turn Everything Off” and something a bit more cosmic (“Like a Dove”). They brought the tunes on here and for that, they deserve your attention. www.skybucket.com

VANITY THEFT- GET WHAT YOU CAME FOR- ADAMANT- 4 females from Dayton, Ohio doing mid-tempo alterna rock. The press sheet compares them to Sleater Kinney but I hear more of a Donnas/Runaways sound but not as good as either. Will appeal to some folks, just not me. www.vanitytheft.com

LONNIE WALKER- THESE TIMES OLD TIMES- DIGG UP TAPES- This cd came in one of those homemade digipak sleeves hand silk-screened in an edition of 200. The dude (band, actually) is from North Carolina and do a high-energy take on cow punk meet Appalachia (more of the latter though). Good songs, good energy and probably real good live.

HOLCOMBE WALLER- INTO THE DARK UNKNOWN- NAPOLEON- Portland singer-songwriter (via San Fran) who I’ve never heard of (no surprise) but hey, he seems to have gotten lots of positive press. This is basically gentle acoustic fare but the guy has panache;’, a nice melodic sense and a voice like Sufjan, if Sufjan had a better voice. Really. www.holcombewaller.com

WE WERE THE STATES- RASA- CJHICKEN RANCH- I went from hating this to liking it to hating it again and then to loving it, all in about 12 minutes. At times they remind me of an American version of the Libertines and others, like a more frenzied Strokes. “Don’t Ask Why:” was my pick to click. www.chickenranchrecords.com

WOLVERTON BROTHERS- CROOKED- IONIK- Glad to see these Cincy dudes still around after having a record out on the Gibson Bros Okra label back in the 80’s. This bent Americana isn’t always up my alley but a good portion of it is and you gotta hand it to them for sticking it out this long in the face of such massive public indifference. Yeah! www.ionikrecords.com

YUCK- S/T- FAT POSSUM- The record cover had me thinking art punk all the way but this is more like a Dino Jr/ Sonic Youth knockoff with good songs. The lead guitarist take leads (pun intended) from Mr. Mascis and you coulda gotten away with calling this stuff slacker rock but hey, are there any slackers left. “Get Away” is my new generation for the week or day. Or at least hour. www.fatpossum.com

 

FEBRUARY 2011

ALL INDIA RADIO- THE SILENT SUIRF- SELF RELEASED- Aussie trio who I’ve seen described as “chilltronica” and , aw, what the hey, I probably can’t come up with a better word to describe them. There’s beats, whooshing keyboards , vocal samples and actual vocals too. These dudes are good. www.allindieradio.com

THE BEATIN’S- A LITTLE GIVE AN TAKE- SELF RELEASED- 6 trippy, folky cuts from the singer of Jonathan Firewater and some friends. I can see the appeal of but not my thing though I did like “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well.”

THE BEETS- STAY HOME- CAPTURED TRACKS- A rare occasion where the Captured Tracks releases something I don’t love. This BK, NY trio are primitive, really primitive. The guitarist is always out of tune and strumming or plucking madly. While the rhythm section is thumping away. Some of the songs are ear-tugging (“Hens & Roosters”, “Watching TV”, etc.) but most of this feels a little too novelty. www.capturedtracks.com

RUSSELL CRAWFORD- FLOATING AIMLESSLY—POP BOOMERANG- Aussie pop guy, buddies with Michael Carpenter (He plays in MC’s band and MC was worked on form of Crawford’s recordings). The guy has a good pop sensibility and can turn a clever phrase when he wants to. Well worth a listen or more. www.russellcrawford.com

DARWIN DEEZ- S/T- LUCKY NUMBER- Much hyped NYC dude who apparently has set some fans in a tizzy with both his single “Constellation’ as well as his dance moves (ala Napoleon Dynamite) and Carlos Santana-esque kinky hairstyle. A few decent hooks but this is more flash than dash. www.luckynumbermusic.com

DELUKA- YOU ARE THE NIGHT- VEL- Catchy, electro pop by a band that is not sure if it wants to be Missing Persons, Berlin or Garbage. The songs aren’t necessarily bad but this overblown production was annoying. www.velrecords.com

THE DIPLOMATS OF SOLID SOUND- WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND- PRAVDA- These cats from Iowa City have been honing their craft for quite some time now. What I that craft? Hunkering down and whipping out smokin’ r & b numbers ala’ Booker T and the MG’s with plenty o’ horns and organ. This stuff is hard NOT to like and I’ll bet live the burn down the house. Worship….now! www.pravdamusic.com

JOSHUA ENGLISH- LAY YOUR BARE BONES- SELF RELEASED- Portland dude (via Boston0 who has neck tattoos, wears a nice hat and seems to have a bit of a Billy Bragg fixation. This is usually upbeat, folky roots rock that has panache. “M-LV” is a fist pumper and “River Rising Quickly” shows off his acoustic guitar playing skills. This guy is on to something. www.joshuaenglish.com

SEAN FLINN & THE ROYAL WE- WRITE ME A NOVEL- SELF RELEASED- Portland cat who was in Jolie Holland’s band but decided to front his own band. He gathered up some talented Pdx folks (Rachel Blumberg, Laura Gibson, etc.). These 11 strummy, folky tunes weren’t bad but I certainly didn’t find myself getting really excited about any of them either. His songs might stand out in the future but the3se were just so so (my fave being “Fossil Radio”). www.myspace.com/seanflinnmusic

FREEBASS- TWO WORLDS COLLIDE ep- HACIENDA- Much ballyhooed meeting of the minds of Peter Hook and Mani (Stone Roses) plus a few other cats (Andy Rourke was a member but has since left). “You Don’t Know This About Me” (vocals by Tim Burgess) was a nice pop tune but the rest sort of pales. www.24hourservicestation.com

DAVID GERGEN- THE NEARER IT WAS THE FARTHER IT BECAME- SELF RELEASED- All-over-the-map dude who some feels like a cowpoke (as on “The Streets I’m Walkin) while at other times he brings to mind thee moodier stuff by American Music Club. The songs aren’t bad but not exceptional. I dunno, I think a live set would tell me more. www.myspace.com/davidgergen

NAOMI GREENWALD- DARKBLOOM- TRANSOM- LA (via NYC ) musician who recorded this record in between working on her PhD at USC. It’s obvious form these 10 songs that Stevie Nicks is a big influence as most of these tunes are mid-tempo sultry pop tunes. The opener “Evan Williams” is one of the best of the bunch as is the moodier “Don’t Forget Hallelujah.” Greenwald seems to be finding her footing and I’d be curious to hear more. www.transomrecords.com

JEFF GUTMAN- THROUGH THE NIGHT- MR KNEES- Way talented Bay Area guy who mixes different pop styles (ala Randy Newman or Harry Nilsson ) into a superb batch of 13 emotional pop cuts. Other than the harmony vocal and violin (done by his wife) Gutman plays everything on here. This far too short review will not do the record justice, but definitely give this one a chance. www.mrknees.com

DANIEL HARMANN & THE TROUBLE STARTS- RISK- BURNING BUILDING- Heard this described as “mope rock/’ and that does fit (think Red House Painters) but there’s something lively about these songs. The dirges have melody and Harmann has a real, almost soulful voice. Drink deep, my friends. www.hellotower.com

BRIAN HUBER- IMAGINATION OF OURSELVES- SELF RELEASED- Washington, DC area popster who apparently has gained some following ion his (novelty) song, “Snuggies” with its jangly guitar and spacey keyboards. The rest of the songs are mostly pleasant with a few aces (“Reverie”, “Talk Withouth a Word”, etc.). Not bad. www.brianhubermusic.com

JONAH- THE WONDER AND THE THRILL- JONAH MUSUIC- There is no one in this (Portland) band named Jonah but there is someone named Jules (and the singer/lyricists’s name is Henry Curl). The song definitely have a Coldplay/Travis feel to them but before you sneer these guys can write honest to goodness pop songs but unique hooks. The normal garage rocker might hate it but I can appreciate a good songsmith. www.jonahtheband.com

KIDNAPPERS- WILL PROTECT YOU- ALIEN SNATCH- Cool, punky power pop from…who knows where. These guys have a real 70’s flavor to them and would fit right tin on the Dirtnap label (a would all of the Alien Snatch stuff). Both “Sally” and “Out in the City” were a few of my faves but honestly, not a bad song on here. www.aliensnatch.com

LODEN- BUGGY- MUSH- Glitchy beats and scattered blips from this one man Scandanavian wrecking crew. Not normally my bag but I can groove to this, at least for shirt while but may cause twitching upon repeated plays. www.muchrecords.com

MAGNETIC ISLAND- OUT AT SEA- DISREGARD- Brooklyn trio led by the elusive Lisa Liu and these 5 songs harness all the power of post-punk with the melodic fuzz of shoegaze. The drummer, Jenny Johnson, impresses especially on opener “End in Bender.” Wish i would’ve listened to this one sooner. Good stuff. www.magneticislandbands.com

MAN RAY- SUMMER 88- HACIENDA- It ain’t Power, Corruption and Lies, that’s for sure (but tries to be). www.24hourservicestation.com

THE NUTCUTTERS- CLYDE!- KOI- Pop punk trip who resemble Green Day and sound like any average Fat band who hail from…..Switzerland? Damn, they sure look and sound American. www.koirecords.com

THE OLD CEREMONY- TENDER AGE- ALYOSHA – North Cackalackey bunch led by the elusive Django Haskins who has travelled the world and lived to tell about it. The songs on this record are hard to classify but would maybe fall into other pop real with buts of psych, noise and even some folks. The guy has a good ear and this one definitely needs a few spins in the cd player. www.theoldceremony.com

PARSANOID LOVESICK- TUEXEDO AVENUE BREAKDOWN (also, SUBURBAN POP ALLEGRO) - SELF RELEASED- This was a Detroit power pop band led by songwriters Bill Stone and Rick McBrien (the latter died suddenly in 2003) and I’m not sure if these are reissues but SUBURBAN.. was their proper debut while TUXEDO was their debut EP and some unreleased tracks. Both kick with some serious crackling energy, pop hooks and strong songwriting. If you dig the stylings of bands like Teenage Fanclub, Velvet Crush then this will be up your alley. www.paranoidlovesick.com

EARLY GATE MUSIC- S/T- BARSUK- Zach Tillman, younger brother of Fleet Foxes Josh, also records. This is a solo project recorded in, where else, his bedroom! The murkier, keyboard glop was unsatisfying but he can write a song when he wants to (check out “Big Escape”, “Oh, What a Time!”, etc.). Eh. www.barsuk.com

ADRIENNE PIERCE- OH DEER – INSECTGIRL- Canadian singer-songwriter who unleashes record #3 here with her school-girl like voice (that I happen to like) and her quirky pop tunes. Apparently she has had a handful of songs on tv shows and it quite popular in her homeland. You know, I like this gal! www.adriennepierce.com

PETER RUDY- MUD SHACK- BIG CHIEF- This Bay Area guy, who hails from El Cerrito (just like Creedence did) offers up a real nice mix on this record. The 10 tunes drift between rock, folk and blues and it all happens seamlessly with a real attention paid to songwriting. Good stuff indeed, my faves here are “Grow No Better Fast” and “Honus Wagner’s Bat.” www.peterrudymudshack.com

STARVING DAUGHTERS- CILL BIRTH- SELF RELEASED- LA quartet who pray at the alter of …I dunno, Black Sun Ensemble? MBV? Da’ Floyd? They get heavy and pretty wiggy all around (love that guitar on the awesomely titled “Scared Shitless at the Gates of Hell”). Don’t stop. www.myspace.com/starvingdaughters

THE VIRTUES- BEAUTIFUL GAME- ZIP- Swedish quarter who go for the big, emotional rock sound at times (I hear some U2 and Coldplay) while other times it’s more direct and poppier (I hear some Posies too) . The songwriting is good and it’s played with guts and passion. www.ziprecords.com

WILD WILD GEESE- SORRY, EARTH- ODESSA- No surprise that these guys hail from the tobacco state (or whatever North Carolina’s nickname is), they churn and burn like Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Finger (remember them?), Polvo and a few others. And the best thing is that they remember the hooks. Yay! www.odessarecords.com

THE WINTERLINGS- THE ANIMAL GROOM- SELF RELEASED- Duo of Wolff and Amanda who play country inflected folk music that is pleasant and breezy. Amanda plays a banjitar and there’s no pic of them on the cover. I feel ripped off! www.winterlings.com

WOW & FLUTER- EQUILIBRIO!- MT. FUJI- Portland trio (led by a dude named Cord……..cool) have been around for over a decade and have plenty of releases to their name. This latest one wanders that curvy road where Krautrock, Anglo pop and straight up indie rock all converge and become pals. My fave was the straight-ahead “Scars’ but there’s plenty to dig here. www.mtfujirecords.com

Kidd Oblivion Tells you the truth…
ABE VIGODA – CRUSH – BELLA UNION – Started out sounding like the National, ended up sounding like Depeche Lode. You decide.

ASCETIC JUNKIES – THIS CAGE HAS NO BOTTOM – SELF – If you think that you would like a band that sounds like 10,000 maniacs crossed with the Squirrel Nut Zippers who sing bullshit songs about Jesus & hipsters then this record is for you!

BAMBARA – DOG EAR DAYS – EMERALD WEAPON – It seems contrary to refer to a record that sounds like buzzsaws grinding away at rusted, metal machine parts as “atmospheric,” but there you go… There are “vocals” in here somewhere but they’re more of an added layer than actual singing. In closing, this disc may actually set your speakers on fire so be careful.

JAY BANERJEE – KISSING BOOTH – XOXO – This is a clean, home-spun power-pop disc by a certified Beatle-maniac who is giving it all he’s got. (Kudos for the use of a nice 12 string Rickenbacker on this slab.) If he keeps at it, Jay will soon graduate to the ranks of other power-pop bands like the Hi-Risers, Blank Pages and the Squires of the Subterrain.

GARY BENNETT – YOU ARE NEVER NICE TO ME – RAUCOUS – This is the main guy from the slick / corny, 90’s country band BR-549 and his new solo stuff is just as milk-toasty. Give it up already, this shit is over.

BIG HEAD TODD AND THE MONSTERS – ROCKSTEADY – BIG – Dear Tim: you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Love, Kidd O.

THE BODIES OBTAINED - I CRY WHEN YOU CRY – FINDING YOU ATTRACTIVE – Self-described as “industrial noir,” complete with horrific cover art. I have decided to re-name this record “I cry when you sing.”

BOY EATS DRUM MACHINE – HOOP + WIRE – RIOT ACT – This disc was made by a computer program and then a hipster guy “sang” over it. Yeah, this is really good, you should definitely go buy this. (note: sarcasm)

CARNIVORES – IF I’M ANCIENT – DOUBLE PHANTOM – A perfect combination of the Mantles and Blood on the Wall. Hell yes.

CENTROVOL – MOMENTUM – SELF – Interpol meets Bon Jovi? The Rosebuds ripped off by Coldplay? Eurythmics crossed with Band of Horses? Death Cab covering Jay Z’s “NY” track? These are all just ideas…

DERU – SAY GOODBYE TO THE USELESS – SELF – This cd was broken into 5 pieces by the mailman so I couldn’t listen to it. I am thinking of stealing their album title for my next column though…

FAKE PROBLEMS – REAL GHOSTS CAUGHT ON TAPE – SIDE ONE DUMMY – Overwhelmingly average, mid-tempo college-rock that never rocks too much or strays too far in the “singer/songwriter’s feelings” zone either. Middle of the road all the way. Yawn.

FOX IN THE HENHOUSE – S/T – IBOT – “Sensitive” muscle-head gym music that will most likely show up in an episode of Jersey Shore.

GHOST OF A CHANCE – S/T – FEBRUARY – Lenola made this record 15 years ago and did it way better. Sorry New Haven, better luck next time…

GHOST BOX ORCHESTRA – S/T – SELF – Like the Mercury Program’s noisy little brothers. Quite good spacey-rock actually, well done.

HYTEST – DISHING OUT THE GOOD TIMES – MVD – Metallica with reverb, The Melvins with lame solos, or Van Stone without the funny. Try them, they all work.

ILL EASE – LAZER CRUST – IONIK – An absolutely dreadful combo of 70’s Bowie, Sir Mix-a-lot style drumbeats and pants-down-in-the-front-of-the-class vocals. Somehow the cover art and album title manage to be even worse! Seriously? Lazer Crust?

JUPE JUPE – INVADERS – SELF – Self-proclaimed sci-fi glam / synth-noir. Read as: bad techno club music full of keyboard farts and bad lyrics. In other news, Tim is a dickhead.

LED TO SEA – INTO THE DARKENING SKY – SCARY TROPHY – Limp indie-pop that sports plucked & bowed violins and a girl with some seriously warbly vocals. Music for a futuristic renaissance fair perhaps? Also: if you listen to this record you will NEVER get laid. Ever.

LOS EXPLOSIVOS – SONIDOS ROCANROL – GET HIP – Finally! Los Explosives (straight outta MexicoCity bitches!) krank out some awesome garage-punk that puts the pedal down and never looks back. Think Man Or Astroman / Mummies meets the Romantics and King Khan and you’re on the right track. Solid.

LOVERS – DARK LIGHT – BADMAN – Lovers are a lot like a female Postal Service who, like many, take their cues from the likes of Devo, New Order and the Magnetic Fields, but somehow manage to be a bit better than some of their peers such as Of Montreal, Au Revoir Simone or the Ballet. By the second time through I was digging this.

JOHN MCVEY – UNPREDICTABLE – SELF – A wretched combination of Bob Seger and John Tesh with a NJ accent. Thanks for this. Really, you shouldn’t have.

MIKEY JUKEBOX – S/T – YLOTW – Here we have some kids playing a super-punchy blend of MGMT, We Are Scientists, Phoenix and the Epoxies who aren’t ashamed to show their love of early 80’s releases like the Cars, Bowie and Big Country. I want to hate them, but they’re just so damned catchy! Check out “New Radio,” and try not to like it.

NEW MYSTERY GIRL – TWIST CITY – 10 LITTLE INDIANS – Plodding, predictable, played-out nouveau country from Austin, TX whose singer/songwriter sounds bored to death in her lifeless delivery of her own songs. 2 words: shameful.

THE NON – TADAIMA – SELF – I quite like the spacious, Mercury Program/Pell Mell stuff that the Non are shelling out and the recording quality is excellent. They should stop talking about how many people go to their shows in their press-kit though – that’s just bad form.

NO RESISTANCE – GENTLEMEN PREFER BOMBS – KOI – First off, the album title. Really? Secondly, no Oi band can have a girl in it – that’s an actual rule in the Rock Bible. Third, the bass player is named “Brickwall.” Shall I keep going? Ok, they’re from Houston, TX. That should settle it.

THE PIMPS - FUCK THIS SHIT WE’RE OUTTA HERE – CRUSTACEAN – Oh good, here’s something we need: redneck punk. The members of this wannabe Supersuckers/Rancid abortion include “Pancake Johnson,” on guitar, “Riverlips Cooper,” doing vocals, “Whatamess Watson,” on the slide geetar and “Pickles Smith,” handling the ‘catering.’ A few of the lyrical gems embedded in this pile of shit are “…gimme Nickleback, gimme fake tits,” and “it smells a little like puke because somebody puked a little in here.” Yes, folks we have almost completely de-evolved. Thanks to the Pimps for making the worst record of this issue!

RAIANNE RICHARDS – SIMPLE IN THIS PLACE – NOBODYS FAVORITE – Indie folk songs about birds and trees that sound like Megan Reilly circa 2002.

THE SHITTY FRIENDS – I’M SORRY… - PANCAKE PROD – Imagine Jad Fair with an accordion and you’ve got the gist. Nice band name fellas, I’m sure you’re going to be very successful.

SEVEN SATURDAYS – THE SNOWFLAKES THAT HIT US BECOME OUR STARS – FORCEFIELD – A bad, movie-soundtrack version of Japancakes from LA. My alternate title: “Bruce Hornsby on a ton of weed and valium, learns Pro Tools and buys a flange pedal.”

THE SEXY ACCIDENT – NOW THAT SHE’S GONE – SELF – My favorite description from their press-kit is: “complex yet accessible, mature rock and roll with brains and heart.” Translation: “Old dudes that like Yes and Gerry Rafferty who have been in a ton a shitty bands for decades, but keep on ‘jammin’ despite their wives’ pleas for a reprieve from the monthly gig at the VFW.”

SHADOW SHADOW SHADE – WHITE HORSE TRILOGY – SELF – Imagine the Danielson Family trying to play dance-y indie-pop while trying to rip off the Fleet Foxes at the same time. One of their band members won a Grammy and knows Kanye West so that should give you a pretty good idea of what we’re dealing with here.

SNUFFALUFFAGUS – BRAZIL WOOD POETRY – WIZARD SPIT – As you might have suspected by each, of the words in bold above, this is bouncy, Hippy drivel complete with annoying falsetto vocals and a muted trombone. Probably a big hit at Burning Man.

TIMMY’S ORGANISM – RISE OF THE GREEN GORILLA – SACRED BONES – An almost unintelligible recording of a band that combines elements of Devo, Six Finger Satellite, Suicide, Tom Waits and Danzig. Yeah, I’m not sure either…

YOUNG RIVAL – S/T – SONIC UNYON – Hamilton Ontario Canada’s answer to bands like the Goodnight Loving, Greenhornes, Adam & Dave’s Bloodline, Harlem, White Wires and the Boss Martians. Almost exclusively awesome.

Kidd Oblivion signing off.

Short Reviews By Rebecca Lianne
RUSTY ANDERSON – BORN ON EARTH – OXIDE RECORDS The intro track on this album makes no sense – at all. It’s like some weird “Pirates Of The Caribbean” instrumental nonsense that leads into a blatant Alice Cooper “School’s Out” rip off. The rest of the album is much more mellow and sounds like Michael Shelley, so it just made me want to listen to Michael Shelley, instead.

BARB – S/T – YEP ROC RECORDS Barb’s self-titled album got better with every track. It carries the perfect blend of electronica speaker-fuzz, eclectic instrumentals and group / wide-range vocals, all in an indie mindset. My favorite tracks include “Not A Bird,” “Martin XII,” and “Leo.” The whole album is rad though, so good for Barb.

ANDY BELL – NON-STOP – MUTE RECORDS My computer hated this record and wouldn’t play it - no matter how many times I tried to give it a chance. My computer may be an asshole, but judging by the album art and font styles of Andy Bell, he’s a bigger one.

CANBY – RAT – AQUI ESTAMOS RECORDS I love Canby. An adoring songwriter in the style of Matty Charles with crisp vocals and a lovely audible layout on every song– even through earbuds. While most of the tracks are sing-songy with sweet layers, the title track, “Rat,” shows a moodier, almost Sonic Youth side of Canby, which is equally as endearing. Stand outs include “ Reassurance,” “For Alex, Who Hates The Word Lonely” and “How To Start.”

ELSINORE – YES YES YES – PARASOL RECORDS Part of me wants to listen to this album again, and part of me wants to throw it out the window. The music is absolutely beautiful, but the vocals teeter on a line of something you’d hear belted to the back row at an American Idol competition (think Clay Aiken). There’s a disconnect between sound and voice that totally botches the potential of Elsinore. “Chemicals” may be the only exception.

FOL CHEN – PART II: THE NEW DECEMEBER – ASTHAMTIC KITTY RECORDS Fol Chen is fucking awesome. It’s like all of your guilty pleasures wrapped up in 10 tracks that sounds like a bunch of white kids making hip hop who are hiding it behind an electronica curtain. It’s got a bunch of freaky noise elements, which are always song-appropriate, especially in “This Is Where The Road Belongs.” Drunken dance parties will never be the same.

GATORFACE – WASTED MONUMENTS – NO IDEA RECORDS The release reads “For fans of Adolescents, Descendents, Dear Landlord, D.I. and The Ramones.” Yeah, because they just stole all of their bass lines and guitar sequences, so of course you’d listen to this shit. Gatorface sucks – POSERS.

THE LEN PRICE 3 – PICTURES – WICKED COOL RECORDS Leave it to the Brits to sweep me off my feet, time and time again. This English, power-pop album is so upbeat, happy (like The Kinks at a pop-punk show on speed) that it could make the biggest Debbie Downer bust a move. My favorite songs are “Pictures,” “The Great Omani,” “Mr. Grey” and “Nothing Like You.”

MAPS AND ATLASES – PERCH PATCHWORK – BARSUCK RECORDS This wasn’t immediately easy to get into. It’s a little art house overkill with the first two tracks, which seemingly have no relevance to the rest of the album. Maps and Atlases let their pop shine through in songs like “Solid Ground” and “Israeli Caves,” which makes the beginning of “Perch Patchwork” forgivable. Oh, and I adore the island feel of “Piegon” – sounds spot on.

NORFOLK AND WESTERN – DINERO SEVERO – 3 SYLLABLES RECORDS Something tells me Norfolk and Western are big Wilco fans. The low-key, melodic southern twang in their sound, as in songs like “Hiding Home,” makes me think of Being There. While the amped up punch exuding from “Turkish Wine” reminds me of Wilco’s latest work, Wilco (The Album). This band definitely holds its own – I wouldn’t consider them a knock-off in any way – but “The Long Goodbye” is almost a little too “A Ghost Is Born” if you ask moi.

SECRET CITIES – PINK GRAFFITI – WESTERN VINYL This totally sounds like I’m listening to the soundtrack of one of my dreams. It’s got the charm of Edward Sharpe and the whimsy of Sufijan Stevens (without being all annoying and sappy). Whistles, handclaps and the occasional sleigh bell – Secret Cities has me sold. Best tracks include: “Pink City,” “Slacker,” “Color” and “Pink Graffiti Part 1.”

SHAPES AND SIZES – CANDLE TO YOUR EYES – ASTHAMTIC KITTY RECORDS Every song by Shapes and Sizes is almost interesting and then becomes reaaaaaaallllly ffffuuuucccckkiiiinnnggg booooorrrriiiinnnnggg. Who knew nine tracks could make you comatose?

UNKOWN COMPONENT – THE INFINITE DEFINITVE – NO LABEL Nothing about this strikes me in any positive way, but I do get a kick out of Keith Lynch’s vocals because he sounds just like Weird Al. I’m waiting with bated breath for one of these pseudo-dramatic philosophies about life to bust out into a polka. Writing that is as embarrassing for me as it should be for Lynch, BTW.

 

JANUARY 2011

AGENT RIBBONS- CHATEAU CRONE- ANTENNA FARM- The Anetnna Farm label releases some interesting stuff (Still Flyin’, Bart Davenport, etc.). This female- led Austin, TX bunch are described as baroque pop but this ain’t Cardinal. For me some of the songs hit the mark (“Grey Gardens”) while others, like “I’ll let you Be My Baby” were more pretentious. Still trying to make up my mind about this band. www.antennafarm.com

KYLE ANDREWS- KANGAROO- ELEPHANT LADY- Nashville dude (via Chicago) who likes his pop music clean and with some electronics tossed in. These 6 songs are very good and I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard he writes commercial jingles on the side. “You Always Make me Smile.” Indeed! www.kyleandrews.com

AMY BEZUNARTEA- RESTAURANTS & BARS- KIAM- Beautiful and sweet folky indie pop from a Brooklyn, NY gal is also part of the duo Clint Michigan (also on Kiam). She’s really talented and I mean, come on, how can you NOT love that voice. My fave here was “Come Back to Me.” www.kiamrecords.com

BLACKLIST ROYALS- SEMPER LIBERI- NO IDEA- These guys have the greaser look down pat and have the songs to back it up. Yes, yet another band who does the whole Bruce Springsteen/Social Distortion/Gaslight Anthem thang but they do it well. Lots of rollicking pianos and catchy, singalong tunes. www.noidearecords.com

BORN RUFFIANS- SAY IT- WARP- Hard to sum up this Toronto band’s sounded in a few sentences so here goes. Crumbling/cascading guitar riffs, rumbly drums and bent, Frank Black-ish vocals. This one is much better than their debut. www.warp.net

BUSSES- S/T- SELF RELEASED- Anytime a press sheet says a band “draws from influences such as classic rock, jazz, prog and punk for an eclectic sound I run the other way. Busses sheet said this, I ran. www.bussesinternet.com

GRAHAM CZACH- LUCID- SLICED TOMATO- This Chicago rockers 12 song/50 minute tunes did not resonate with me. The guy has got talent (and oodles of press form the different bands he has been part of ) , but a lot of this was over-arching prog rock that I was bored with. www.grahamczach.com

DINOSAUR FEATHERS- EARLY MORNING RISERS- SELF RELEASED- 2 dudes from BKNY with a drum machine and some electronics but this is as warm as the cup o’ hot chocolate I had yesterday. Perfect X-mas music! www.dinosaurfeathers.com

DWARR- ANIMALS- DRAG CITY- Bent psych metal from this former South Carolina factory worker (Duane Warr). This was originally released in 1986 and I do not see a need for a reissue of it but the Drag City label apparently felt the opposite. It’s got timpani and gong! www.dragcity.com

ELECTRIC SIX- ZODIAC- METROPOLIS- 7 records in 14 years and they are still it doing….well, not sure what you’d call E-6. It’s abrasive but also dancey. I can take the tunes, it’s singer Dick Valentine who I have never liked. ZODIAC is not gonna change that. www.metropolis-records.com

FAILSAFE FOR TOMORROW- GIVE UP THE GHOST- KOI- Four young cats from the UK who are obviously influenced by several bands on the Fat and Epitaph labels. While it’s not super original or anything the songs are catchy and the band is tight. 6 songs. www.koirecords.com

THE FANTASY FOUR- GETTING FANTASTIC WITH…- PANCAKE PRODUCTIONS- This band features Bunnygrunt’s Karen Reid on bass and vocals while another gal, Marcia Pandolfi plays guitar and sings as well. The songs are hooky, snotty and will be of interest to fans of The Muffs. Good stuff. www.pancakeproductions.net

FILTHYBIRD- SONGS FOR OTHER PEOPLE- HOLIDAYS FOR QUINCE- Musically I enjoyed this North Carolina quartet’s sophomore effort, a heady brew of tweaked Americana and sorta paisley underground psych. It was vocalist Renee Mendoza that took me a while getting used to. She can occasionally wail which is not always my favorite but the band’s unique arrangements more than make up for it. www.holidaysforquince.com

THE FUTUREHEADS- THE CHAOS- DOVECOTE- These UK (from Sunderland, actually0 rockers were part of the class of 2004 (Kaiser Chiefs, Fran Ferdinand, etc.) and while not as hyped were better than most of their peers. THE CHAOS, while not their best record, still shows the band doing what they do best, writing intelligent pop songs that hammer away gleefully (think early Wedding Present). Nice. www.thefutureheads.com

THE GREEN PAJAMAS- THE RED, RED ROSE (SONG FOR PHOEBE PRINCE)-GREEN MONKEY- More top-notch acoustic psych folk from these longtime Seattle-ites (led by Mr. Jeff Kelly). The title track is dedicated to an Irish high schooler (from Boston, MA) who took her own life due to bullying. The rest is just as inspiring. www.greenmonkeyrecords.com

IDLE TIMES- S/T- HOZAC- From Seattle of all places comes this and offering up fried rock with heaps of noise and distortion served up like a steaming turkey dinner on the best holiday of the year. I hear some elements of real early Pavement (Slay Tracks) and leader Brian Standeford doesn’t bury the hooks too deep. You CAN hear them. www.hozacrecords.com

IN GRENADA- BREAK- SELF RELEASED- Terrific Philly band (led by Jesse Leyh) who , on their debut record, manage to bring to mind classic songwriting of bands like The Feelies, Television and The Bongos with their taut, precise tunes. Check out “It Doesn’t Matter”, “Beating Heart” and “Broken Castle” and go from there. Could be huge. www.myspace.com/ingrenada

DAN KWAS- DREAMS DIE HARD- FSR- This is the former Sidewalks guy Kwas returns with another terrific batch of jangle folk tunes (think The Byrds). 11 well-written tunes and one Stones cover (“The last Time”). Don’t miss the Johnny Cash-esque “Magic Touch” but honestly, there’s not a bad song on here. www.dankwas.com

THE MASONICS- LIVE LIKE A MILLIONAIRE- SELF RELEASED- Austin, TX bunch who offer up their 5th long player (first one I’ve heard) and bring to mind Stereolab , mainly on the vocals of Eryn Gettys. As I was listening to the songs I kept thinking I wanted to like them more than I do but a few do stand out (“Every Time This Happens”, “We’re Doing Alright”). Bet they’d put together a killer best-of from all their records. www.masonictheband.com

MINI-SKIRT FETISH- BEAN SHAPED TEARS OR 1998 OR BUST- ROADHOUSE- Old screwy St. Louie punk band who occasionally slip into 100 mph hardcore. 17 songs on here and recorded back in 2004. With nutjobs Peat Henry on vocals and Doug Hargrave on axe , this is all in good fun. www.roadhousetunes.com

SILJE NES- OPTICKS- FATCAT- One woman band from Norway. Gauzy and atmospheric. I think this is what they call “art rock.” www.fatcat-usa.com

THE OFFBEAT- IN LOVE FIELD- SELDF RELEASED- All you need to do is toss a baseball in the air and it will most likely hit a musician who is influenced by The Beatles. Most are lousy but some, like this UK bunch (led by songwriter Darren Finlan) are excellent. 5 of these tunes are on last year’s killer TO THE RESCUE ep and they add 5 more and all are superb. Do not miss. www.theoffbeat.co.uk

ONE HUNDRED FLOWERS- MECHANICAL BRIDE- STEM AND LEAF- Austin bunch with a good pop sensibility who at times recall both the New Pornographers and Nada Surf (no other N bands, though). The sounds is, at times, busy, involved and dense but the melodies shine through on most tunes. Lead Harrison Speck sounds like he could be an actor. www.onehundredflowers.com

JESSE PAYNE- NESTING- SELF RELEASED- Pretty, hushed folk (think Fleet Foxes) from this one man gang. I haven’t given it that many listens but I have a feeling I would love it if it did. The guy;’ got talent, it’s just that I have a stack of cds to review a mile high. I’m comin’ back to this. www.jessepayneonline.com

PEELANDER-Z- P-TV-Z- CHICKEN RANCH- Called a “Japanese Action Comic Punk Band” (who are based in NYC. The music is kitchy, catchy, goofy and fun. This also comes with a dvd (running over an hour). Musically nothing real mind-bending here but on stage they look to be A LOT of fun (costumes, dudes hanging from rafters, band handing out instruments to audience members ,etc.). www.chickenranchrecords.com

POPULAR MECHANICS- TIME AND A HALF- PANCAKE PRODUCTIONS- Nothing earth-shattering from this St. Louie, MO trio, just straightforward rock pop in the vein of late-period Husker Du and some Weezer too. Both “Terrible Habits” and “How’s My Singing Pt. 2’ are a few of the standouts. Well done gents. www.pancakeproductionsw.net

QUA- Q&A- MUSH- Aussie electronic wunderkind Cornel Wilczek must have a large bank of keyboards and drive his friends nut with them. This is a mix of electronic, dance, kraut rock and the like with lots of blips and bleeps. If I kept listening I could get into this. www.mushrecords.com

THE RIOT BEFORE- REBELLION- PAPER AND PLASTIC- Sophomore release from this Richmond, VA punk band who seem to be taking over from where Avail left off with tough , catchy tunes and a real working man’s attitude. They’re on their way. www.paperandplastic.com

EDWARD ROGERS- SPARKLE LANE- ZIP- More sublime pop form this Brit who relocated to NYC several years ago (he is also in Bedsit Poets). On SPARKLE LANE he brings us back to his home in yee olde England with songs like the title track (where his grandma lived) and “Guy Fawkes Nite.” Think Ray Davies in a melancholy mood and you’ll be close. www.ziprecords.com

SLEEPING IN THE AVIARY- GREAT VACATION- SCIENCE OF SOUND- Mid-western bunch led by the kooky Elliot Kozel. These guys, like a lot of indie bands these day don’t wanna be pigeonholed ans thus, are all over the map. Sweet, charming indie pop at one moment while merrily bashing away the next. Occasionally I hear some Talking Heads influence creeps in. They have some good ideas and about half of this was worthy (the loping “Weightlessly in Love’ and the head-boppin’ “You Don’t Have to Drive”). www.scienceofsound.com

THE SLEEP-INS- SONGS ABOUT GIRLS AND OUTER SPACE- INGOT ROCK- This Australian band hearkens back to the early 90’s sound of North Carolina. The band Polvo to be exact (some Pavement and Pixies too) . Wiry n’ weird guitar textures and some caveman rhythms fill up these 8 songs. Not exactly my cuppa tea but someone’s, I’m sure. www.ingotrock.com

SMASH PALACE- 7- ZIP- Yup, record #7 from these longtime power poppers led by seriously underrated songwriter Stephen Butler. The first S.P. record was released in 1985 and though the band has sporadically released stuff since then they seem to continue to get better and 7 might be their best. If bands like Badfinger and Cheap Trick are on your radar then Smash Palace should be too. www.ziprecords.com

ROB STROUP AND THE BLAME- GLASS CEILINGS-8 BALL- Portland bunch led by, you guessed it, Rob Stroup, with dudes from The Imprints and Baseboard Heaters doing some bluesy country folk. I dig both the uptempo stuff (“Camouflage Chameleon” ) as well as the slower, more languid material (“Columbus Day”). Lotsa talent here and songs too. www.blamerobstroup.com

TODD IS NEW EACH MOMENT- GLASS SWORD- NOISE FOR BOYS- They call this darkwave and , well…it’s SOMETHING wave. Dark, moody synthpop with very serious Ian Curtis-ish vocals. The synths rattle and hum and who knows, the whole thing might be a joke. I can’t tell. www.toddisneweachmoment.com

TRANSPORTATION- AMUSEMENT PARK- ODESSA- Chapel Hill, NC bunch who apparently have been at it for 12 years (same 3 guy also). I had no heard of them before but the 10 songs on AMUSEMENT PARK are solid rock/pop cuts. Some sneaky melodies, rocks in all the right places and lets up when it needs to. Can’t ask for much more. www.odessarecords.com

TWEAK BIRD- S/T- VOLCOM- Riff rawk done by two brothers from Illinois who landed in L.A. They delve into stoner, doom, psych, prog and the like. Not much on here for me but if you’re a Sabbath-head then Tweak Bird just might tweak your fancy. www.tweakbird.com

VICTOIRE- CATHEDRAL CITY- NEW AMSTERDAM- 5 classically trained women from NYC doing chamber rock with an, at times,. Electronic bent (the title track). Leader Missy Mazzoli certainly has some interesting ideas, adding loops/samples to the proceedings. Not something I’d put on very often, but intriguing/unique nonetheless. www.newamsterdamrecords.com

TROY VON BALTHAZAR- HOW TO LIVE IN NOTHING- THIRD SIDE- LA transplant (from where, I have no idea) who offers up some interesting electro folk. At times reminding me of Sparklehorse but then offering a more melodic sensibility on tunes like “Very Very Famous” and “Happiness and Joy.” I really liked about half of this. www.thirdsiderecords.net

THE UNWINDING HOURS- S/T- CHEMIKAL UNDERGROUND- Two dudes from Aerogramme (Craig and Ian) continue eon with another confounding band that shrieks when you expect hush and quiets when you wanna dance. For your next date play “There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone.” I dare ya’. www.chemikal.co.uk

WHEELS ON FIRE- LIAR, LIAR- ALIEN SNATCH- Chugging 60’s garage rock./pop from this Athens, Ohio bunch who take their influences , roll ‘em up and spit them out into a giant ball of fun. All they want is for you, dear listener, to have fun. That’s the least you can do, right? www.aliensnatch.com

V/A- THE MATINEE HOLIDAY SOIREE- MATINEE- Indie pop label matinee is spreading some holiday cheer with 5 (excellent) Christmas themed songs by Math & Physics Club, Northern Portrait, Bubblegum Lemonade, Strawberry Whiplash and Champagne Riot. Buy this NOW or you won’t be able to later. Capiche’? www.matineerecordings.com

SOME SHORT REVIEWS BY MR. JOSEPH KYLE

WILLIAM BRITTELLE- TELEVISION LANDSCAPE- NEW AMSTERDAM--Pretty, though not overly revelatory, folk music. Brittelle is a good singer, and the arrangements are interesting, A little piano here, a little string section there, but unfortunately marred by a same-y quality from song to song. Oh I don't want to write off this guy's talent, because there are some pretty songs here, but I just didn't dig the jazz-rock fusion types of things that popped up here and there. Some of these songs should have been instrumentals. (New Amsterdam Records)

Y LA BAMBA- LUPON- TENDER RLOVING EMPIRE-I wanted to like this record more than I did. They're going for a sorta Latin-style sound, not unlike Calexico or DeVotchKa. But they're not. I like the husky voice of Luzelena Mendoza, it's kinda Johnnette Napolitano-ish, but the music just seemed flat. Maybe it's better live, in a coffee house? I don't know. Just lacked a certain flair, lost underneath the passion and the uniqueness of the arrangements; and remember, kids--just because you are unique and original, doesn't guarantee your music will be good.

TWIN SHADOW- CASTLES IN THE SNOW- BEGGARS BANQUET--I started to listen to this, this quarter's much hyped new hipster-approved wunderkind on 4AD, and then remembered I have a number of better Modern English records I'd much rather listen to.

FAUN FABLES- LIGHT OF A VASTER DARK- DRAG CITY- After the first song, I was laughing so hard at the overly melodramatic earnestness and utter pretentiousness, that I had to turn it off.

INSTRUMENTS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY- MUSIC FOR PARADISE ARMOR- ASTHMATIC KITTY- I love Richard Swift, even though he's a bit of a contrarian when it comes to his music. This is a part of Asthmatic Kitty's Library Music series, and while the others in the series have been beautiful, this is kinda...not. It's incidental music, but not the easiest stuff to listen to. Some pretty moments, but a lot of self-indulgent noodles. No pop music found within, unless you mean literal "popping" sounds.

KRISTIN MILTNER- MUSIC FOR DREAMING AND PLAYING- ASTHMATIC KITTY- If I have one complaint about this record, it's the opposite of the Richard Swift record in this series. The music is gorgeous, and aside from "Altamont Pass" and "Dreaming Longing," (the total of which adds up to 20 minutes of the album's brief running time) the songs here are short, and I'd like to hear more! Beautiful, restful soundscapes that are perfect for, well, dreaming and playing. (Asthmatic Kitty)