Monday, September 1, 2014

New June Brides EP Is Out Today!

There's a new EP from The June Brides and that's a thing to celebrate. Phil Wilson and his crew have created 3 rollicking slices of pop glory. From the rush of "Being There" to the regret of "I'm Undone" and on to the jangle of the title cut, these 3 songs are well-crafted odes to love and life.

For more details, check out the band's page at Slumberland Records.

New Tunes From The Effects (Devin Ocampo From Deathfix)

Happy Labor Day. Reward yourself by buying these 2 tracks from The Effects. This band is a new project from Devin Ocampo from Deathfix and a bunch of other great Dischord bands.

I especially like the Shudder to Think-isms of "Old Soul"!

Follow The Effects on their Facebook page.

Buy the single after playing it below.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Download Husker Du Outtake Here

Husker Du were an amazing set of musicians. In 1984 they dropped the double album Zen Arcade and "Some Kind of Fun" is an outtake from those sessions. It's easy to see why they left it off the record as it's a bit less intense than the rest of that record. Nearly a garage rocker, the cut has got some Stooges in it.

I dig that plucked/pinged guitar note in the midst of the song as it sounds like a piano.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My 1,500th Blog Post And Guess Where I Am?

If some of you saw that headline and guessed D.C. you would be halfway right. I'm at LAX at the moment. D.C. will be tomorrow morning.

So, yeah, the expiration date on that Hong Kong adventure was way past due. And just as I had no regrets when moving to Hong Kong in 2011, I've got no regrets in leaving in 2014.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Play New Single From The June Brides Here!

Phil Wilson and his crew are back with a new EP called She Seems Quite Free. It's out on September 1 on Slumberland Records in the U.S. and Occultation Records in the U.K.

This first cut is spry and sounds like all the things about this group that were so inspiring to other bands. I can hear traces of Housemartins here but Wilson and his lads are not quite so peppy as that. And there's a hint of early Smiths too.

Additionally, the tune is named "Being There" which could be a nod to one of my favorite Hal Ashby films and for that it gets points in my book.

For more details on Phil Wilson and The June Brides, check out their official Facebook page or the Slumberland Records page for this release.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Play Rare Abba Cover From Th' Faith Healers Here!

In the years before the Internet, Th' Faith Healers got lumped in with the shoegaze era but there was something not quite right about that label.

Th' Faith Healers were scuzzy and rough and more like Sonic Youth than Chapterhouse, when it came right down to it. And they covered Can which put them closer to other Too Pure label acts like Stereolab than stuff like Ride.

This cover of Abba's "S.O.S' is from a 1991 Peel Session and it's a roaring and vaguely sinister riff-rocker. I dig it and now you can dig it too.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Play Deliriously Good Ex Hex (Mary Timony) Cut Here!

Coming on like Grace Slick trying to update a Patti Smith cut from Radio Ethiopia, Mary Timony and her gals in Ex Hex are here to rip your head off with the gloriously rockin' "Beast" from the band's upcoming debut record.

That debut album will be out in early October on Merge Records.

In the meantime, after you play "Beast" about a dozen times at deafening volume, head over to the band's official website for news on Ex Hex.

As a long-time fan of Mary Timony, I've been thrilled with each bit of music I've heard from Ex Hex so far. More punk than Helium, less harDCore than Autoclave, and still somehow more direct than the excellent Wild Flag, "Beast" is catchy and in-your-face.

And that Thurston Moore-meets-Tom Verlaine solo ain't half bad either!

Dig it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An Early Review Of The Awesome New Connections Album (And A Spin Of Their New Video Too!)

These dudes are great. Connections are here with their brand new long-player. Called Into Sixes, this slab of indie rock genius drops on August 19 via Anyway Records and I urge you to get it.

Throwing a curveball by having the record open with the decidedly gentle -- in spirit, at least -- "Ayliah", the boys in Connections are back to doing what they do best quickly after that -- check out "Cruise Control" below for evidence of what I'm talking about.

"Beat The Sky" roars by like a rocket but it's the following tune -- "Calm Down" -- that surprises. Sounding weirdly like Robert Pollard dismantling something off of side 2 of Reckoning, "Calm Down" shows a new aspect of this band. The cut, simple and direct, is one of the highlights of Into Sixes for me.

"Scanners" -- named after the exploding head flick from Cronenberg? -- is fuzzed out guitars and Sister-era Sonic Youth-isms. "Home By The Sea" is a slow-build grinder with the same title as a Genesis song, I think.

Out come the Dinosaur Jr. references for "You Won't Forget It" and its hard-charging riffs. The delightfully named "Minister of Ah Ah Ah" is Mott the Hoople channeled through early Smashing Pumpkins. Hooky, catchy, and with a big-big chorus, the cut is exhilarating.

There's early Superchunk on the speedy "Brothers and Sisters", and more melody on "Angie, but it's "Awesome Beach" that closes out Into Sixes in fine fashion. Part Neil Young, part Teenage Fanclub, part Paul Westerberg, "Awesome Beach" is wistful and gently romantic.

These Columbus cats in Connections are on the right path with this record (and their previous ones). This is solid, incredibly tuneful indie rock done without a lot of pretense. And that is something to be applauded. Back in the day, The Grifters hinted at music like this but Connections have beat those Sub Pop guys at their own game. This is lo fi enough to appeal to the Pitchfork.com types but also consistent, catchy, and unassuming enough to charm an old curmudgeon like me.

Connections are doing it right. So far, I've liked every single thing these prolific dudes have released and I urge you to get on the bandwagon and grab Into Sixes as soon as you can. It drops on August 19.

Follow Connections on their official Facebook page.

And you should also check out Anyway Records for details on their albums.

And play the new video for "Cruise Control" below.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I've Waited More Than Two Years To Post This: My Review Of The Debut Album From Childhood

I've been waiting so long to write this post. It's not that I heard the debut album from Childhood so long ago -- I got my promo copy in July -- but that I knew how great it was going to be from the first time I ever heard this band. I've been blogging about this Nottingham-formed group for more than 2-and-a-half years -- as confirmed by this blog post from February 2012 -- and in that time the wait for the debut album was comparable to that long waits for the debuts from The Stone Roses and The Sundays in 1989 and 1990, respectively.

And while Childhood sound nothing like Reading's The Sundays, they do, at a few key moments, recall those Manc legends The Stone Roses. For that reason I feel safe in saying that they, like John Squire and Ian Brown and crew, have indeed delivered one of the great debut records in British rock.

Now on to the glorious bliss of Lacuna by Childhood.

The album opens, as it musts, with "Blue Velvet", all blissed out A.R. Kane hooks and Bernie Sumner guitar licks. The track has been apparently re-recorded but fear not: it's still a rapturous ride. Ben Romans-Hopcraft's vocals are clearer here and a bit forward in the mix. What was shoegazing before is now precise and anthemic.

I envy people hearing this song for the first time. I envy those who hear this pumping through earphones for the first time and feel themselves transported by this fantastic single.

"You Could Be Different" is hooky and catchy -- a natural follow-up single with it's fuzzed out guitar washes.

"As I Am" is the soft waves lapping the shore where the other cuts are the roar of the surf. Again, there's a hint of A.R. Kane and bands from the heyday of 4AD. That hint grows more obvious on "Right Beneath Me" where Romans-Hopcraft's voice nearly reaches Liz Fraser heights and Leo Dobsen strums and plucks his axe like Robin Guthrie trying out a new crate of fx pedals. But, to paraphrase an A.R. Kane song title, this is indeed a "A Love Song From Outer Space" and it's pure audio delight.

"Falls Away" is more direct, this century's "Waterfall" but with a sinister undercurrent. "Sweeter Preacher" is crashing cymbals courtesy of Jonny Williams and more splashes of guitar color each time Romans-Hopcraft sings/snarls "...wonderful..."

"Tides" is futuristic funk, all slowed down after hours glide with Daniel Salamons' bass popping under the vocals and percolating keyboard.

And then come the big hooks.

"Solemn Skies" opens with the same sort of martial strut that anchored "Blue Velvet" but it positively soars on that chorus. Think early U2 turning Echo and the Bunnymen's Heaven Up Here cuts into hopeful anthems. The rhythm section -- Daniel Salamons and Jonny Williams -- gets to shine a bit here as they ground the track while Dobsen's guitar and Romans-Hopcraft's voice do the sky-high bits. Love that final Cure-esque freakout.

Next comes the jazzy "Chiliad". The guys pull back the effects and overdubs and relax a bit. Williams uses a light touch on the kit while Dobsen gently plucks. A hint of Durutti Column here but louder.

"Pay for Cool" ups the angst and provides the album's one moment of near-punky tension. Opening like early Cure -- "Primary" or "Killing an Arab" maybe -- the song turns into a race between Romans-Hopcraft's vocals and the rhythm section, Dobsen either channeling Buzzcocks' Diggle on the hook or Robert Smith on the unfurling solo.

Album closer "When You Rise" is rough like "Spellbound"-era Siouxsie and the Banshees mixed with My Bloody Valentine circa "Soon". The song, a near-duel between guitars and a shuffling, almost dance-y, melody line, roars a bit to finish Lacuna. The album opened in bliss. It ends in a whirlpool of trippy anxiety.

Lacuna is the hands-down winner for best debut album of 2014. There was really no competition, was there?

It's also supremely self-assured. While reviewers such as myself may stress the trippy bits on Lacuna, or mention the guitars' echoes of Cocteau Twins or John Squire, the record is focused. There's not a lot wasted. Other bands would have taken these cuts and let them expand unnecessarily. Childhood masterfully keep things in control while indulging themselves only in spots.

The real test for music like this is to ask yourself what it would sound like if stripped down and played on acoustic instruments. Well, Childhood have the hooks, the melodies, and chops to make these tunes work even without the excellent production and amazing guitar effects. I admire that, really.

It takes remarkable skill and restraint to make music this blissful while keeping things grounded. Lacuna is a near-flawless album and if I have any criticism it's only this:

"Guys, where the heck is Haltija!?!"

Buy Lacuna and become a fan of Childhood. One spin of "Solemn Skies" and "Blue Velvet" ought to do the trick.

Follow Childhood on their Facebook page.

More details on Childhood via Marathon Artists.

Lacuna is available in the U.S. via iTunes.

Elsewhere, you can get the album via multiple outlets including Rough Trade.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Advice? Crank Up Stitches By Bloody Knees As Loud As You Possibly Can!

These cats from the U.K. -- don't even know where -- are doing the whole Nirvana thing so well that for once I don't begrudge a band for being influencing by those Seattle legends.

The NME mentioned "Stitches" and I checked it out based on that. The cut is ferocious, unrelenting, and strangely joyous -- an animal howl into the abyss with riffs roaring like a bunch of tanker-trucks crashing on a frozen highway. Think Nirvana trying to cover MBV and stripping those noise-niks down to the bare essentials.

"Daydream", all early Teenage Fanclub hooks and Melvins-size pummeling slabs of noise, is also quite good.

Both tracks are out soon -- or are already out? -- on Dog Knights Productions.

Follow Bloody Knees on their Facebook page.

Dot Dash Cut In New Juliette Lewis Film And Here's A Free MP3 To Celebrate!

I'm thrilled for the guys in Dot Dash -- Terry Banks, Hunter Bennett, Steve Hansgen, and Danny Ingram -- that they have a tune on the soundtrack of an upcoming film. And it's important to note that this cut was recorded with original guitarist Bill Crandall.

"Faraway", the lead track from from the band's superb 2nd album Winter Garden Light (TheBeautifulMusic.com), is going to be in the new movie Kelly and Cal starring Juliette Lewis and Cybil Shepherd.

And you can get a leg up on grabbing the soundtrack to this rock-centered film by downloading "Faraway" below. Play the song and then go here to get the free download.

It will be cool to hear this song in a movie. Every time I play the song I still think of playing Winter Garden Light for the first time on my iPod as I rode the ferry from Lamma Island into Hong Kong in September 2014. I busily penned my epic review of the album shortly thereafter.

I guess what I'm saying is that this tune already feels like part of my own personal soundtrack.

More details about the film Kelly and Cal (2014) are here and here.

Follow Dot Dash on their Facebook page and on their home label TheBeautifulMusic.com.