Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Word Or Two About New Doc Danny Says, Out Tomorrow

See that guy up there? I mean, the geeky non-Ramone guy. That's Danny Fields and he more or less invented punk rock. And he's the subject of a fab new documentary called Danny Says and it's out tomorrow in theaters and on-demand.

Now, of course you know Danny from the Ramones song "Danny Says" from 1980's classic End of the Century (1980) album. But you might not know Danny Fields' role in discovering and promoting so many of the acts you love (The Doors, The Stooges, Nico). Thankfully, and perhaps surprisingly, The Ramones are not the central focus of this new film from director Brandon Toller. Rather, Toller tells Fields' life-story by letting Danny tell it himself as only he could. A master story-teller, Fields is a born raconteur as every story, from his days as a gay young man at an Ivy League school decades ago to his shepherding a drunk-and-high Jim Morrison at an industry party in the Sixties, charms and induces laughs. While Fields' worked for Elektra Records, among other positions in the music industry, the film -- thankfully -- touches on all of Fields' famous friends and not just the ones on that famous label.

My only criticism of Danny Says (2016) is that there doesn't seem to be enough detail on whatever Danny's been doing after The Ramones wrote that song about him. To its credit, Toller's film builds on the knowledge of that famous punk cut so that a viewer is sort of waiting to hear that story and when it arrives, the story feels like the climax of the film, in a sense. And while there are artists here that are not as important to viewers as Patti Smith and The Ramones might be, Fields' brand of anecdote-relating is so pleasant that anyone watching Danny Says (2016) is surely captivated enough to stick with the film through its modest running time.

A barrel of laughs, a man of tremendous enthusiasm and laconic wit, Danny Fields has probably deserved a documentary for decades. Now he's got it and the results are pretty darn good and a whole lot of fun. Catch Danny Says in select theaters or on-demand where available starting tomorrow.

More details on Danny Says (2016) via the film's official website.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New Single From Young Romance Plays Here!

I am positively thrilled that London duo Young Romance are finally set to release a full-length album. After blogging about each morsel of fuzzy indie that these 2 have dropped in the last few years, I'm eager to hear so much more. In the meantime, as the release date of that LP draws closer, the band have offered up a new track.

"Disappear" is less near-shoegaze and more post-punk, Claire's vocals here more subdued and less ecstatic. There are traces on this one of bands as disparate as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Cranes, and Elastica but the overall effect is unique in the way that each cut from Young Romance has been previously. Paolo works up a nice bit of racket behind her vocals and the overall effect is vaguely like something by The White Stripes, minus the blues-y bits.

This is another gem from this band and while Young Romance have released precious few cuts in the last 3 years, each has been superb. Not since Childhood has a band gotten me so hooked as a listener so early. Luckily, the wait is nearly over as the full-length debut will be out this Autumn.

Follow Young Romance via the band's official Facebook page.

[Photo: Young Romance Facebook page, uncredited]

A Quick Review Of The New One From LoveyDove (Azalia Snail)

Azalia Snail has been making delicious indie for longer than this sort of music has really been called indie. She is a legend on her own terms so any new project involving her is something to take notice of. She is now in a band with her partner Dan West and it's called LoveyDove. The newest record is Showstopper and it's a fun blast of spirited near-glam rock. Read on!

If standout "Crown Dancer" offers up bright pop then "Main Course" leans more in the direction of pseudo-disco with a great deal of effectiveness. A spirited cover of Todd Rundgren's "I Saw The Light" (featuring Cellars) serves up the sort fun that, sadly, so much of contemporary indie-pop seems to be lacking. The superb "Top Shop" features John S. Hall of King Missile for a tune that sounds a whole lot like an American spin on the sleek dance-y offerings of early Saint Etienne. Elsewhere, "Instant Joy" and "Enuf Days" crank up something approaching a kind of smart take on disco. That Azalia Snail sounds a tiny bit like Kylie Minogue on these cuts is a big compliment as far as I'm concerned and a reminder that the lines between indie and pop needn't be so far apart. The trippy "Lift Off" takes that vibe and runs with it in the service of something more expansive.

Showstopper by LoveyDove is a whole lot of fun and this set of bright, largely-bouncy indie boppers is a pleasant surprise. That it's further confirmation of the brilliant pop sense of Azalia Snail is yet one more notch in the "plus" column for this one.

You can grab Showstopper by LoveyDove now via the Bandcamp link below. Follow LoveyDove via the band's official Facebook page.

[Photo: LoveyDove Facebook page, uncredited]

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lead The Way: A Review Of Dusk, Album Number 3 From Ultimate Painting

Like Luna and Yo La Tengo before them, the members of Ultimate Painting have taken an obvious love of the music of The Velvet Underground and used that affection to help them craft something unique. Over the course of their first 2 albums it seemed as if Ultimate Painting -- Jack Cooper (Mazes) and James Hoare (Veronica Falls) -- were content to let that big influence in their listening lives cast such a huge shadow on their output that there really wasn't anywhere else to go.

Well, this time out, on album 3, Dusk, out Friday on Trouble in Mind Records, Ultimate Painting have added a third player, drummer Melissa Rigby, and the results are noticeably looser. There's a new direction being pursued here. If this doesn't quite signal a The Bends-to-Kid A-kind of leap in style, it at least makes abundantly clear that there are still more places for this act to go. Yeah, the VU vibe is still all over this album but things have progressed in some small-but-important ways. And for a band so expert at perfecting those little moments in indie-pop, the overall effect of Dusk is pleasantly striking and a great example of the skills of this group.

If opener "Bills" makes clear that subtle shift -- all Luke Haines-style whispered vocals -- then "Song for Brian Jones" nods in the direction of Saucerful of Secrets-era Floyd even as its title name-checks the late Stone. The superb "Lead The Way" reveals a slightly Beatlesque melody behind a stately near-march. On some level, this is one of the best songs this band has committed to tape so far and long-time listeners of this band will find the shift in tone a subtle, yet strong, one. "Monday Morning, Somewhere Central" recalls nothing so much as a Blur cut stripped back to its very most basic elements. That's not to say that this act has cast its lot in with the last vestiges of Britpop but, rather, that they've found a way to tap into that same rich vein of English song-craft that helped Albarn crib from Davies. "Who Is Your Next Target?" sounds like Yo La Tengo if only that NJ crew had been born in the U.K., while the nearly-epic closer, "I Can't Run Anymore", uses washes of guitar and near-jazzy drum runs to marvelous effect as the melody unfurls in a dream-like haze.

Sure, there's lots here that will be familiar to fans of the first 2 albums from Ultimate Painting, but for those of us who have been listening carefully, the achievements here are tremendous. For a duo who had been making carefully-crafted indie-pop of the very best kind, the addition of Rigby on drums seems to have subtly but significantly expanded the palette of sounds at the disposal of Hoare and Cooper. Put it another way, it will be a bit more unlikely that a writer like myself will lean so heavily on those Velvet Underground references in descriptions of this act's sound in the future. No, now, the influence list is broader, the sound brighter, and the mood sunnier, even if only by a trifle.

Perhaps their best album yet, Dusk from Ultimate Painting is out on Friday via Trouble in Mind Records. Follow the band via their official website.

Monday, September 26, 2016

This New Luxury Death Single Is Your Jam Of The Week!

This new cut from Manchester's Luxury Death proves 2 things indisputably: 1) that city has produced, and continues to produce, more interesting bands than perhaps any other place in the United Kingdom, and, 2) PNKSLM continues to offer up some of the best indie-pop being created anywhere these days. Would it be too much to say that anything from Manchester and anything on PNKSLM was worth a listen? Probably not a stretch to say that, right?

Luxury Death is Ben Thompson and Meg Williams and they're joined in live settings by Tommy Stewart on bass and Luke Rowland on drums. The duo make tunes that recall the great Ultra Vivid Scene along with those early My Bloody Valentine recordings prior to the arrival of so much feedback. The songs from this pair are strong and one can only hope that they're recording more as we groove on this new single.

"I Feel Your Pain" is out now and you can buy it via the link below. Follow the band via their official Facebook page, and be sure to check in with PNKSLM for more news on Luxury Death and similarly great indie-pop.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Big Song: My Review Of The Essential New Blonde Redhead Box From Numero Group

In what could be surely counted as one of the most significant reissues of this year, the Numero Group is offering up a Blonde Redhead box set of rare, early material. The collection, called Masculin Feminin, drops this Friday. It contains the band's first 2 albums (Blonde Redhead and La Mia Vita Violenta, both from 1995), as well as a whole bunch of singles and demos and stuff. That this is essential is without question.

On the earliest tracks, the band is finding its way around the legacies of both No New York and Sonic Youth, fitting since Steve Shelley put out these early long-players on his label. As Kazu Makino wails, brothers Amedeo and Simone Pace thrash out a righteous noise behind her, equal parts Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Elephants Memory. On stuff like "Astro Boy", it's hard not to hear a bunch of kids who'd played "Star Power" a whole lotta times. Still, the music is fresh and peppered with moments that elevate this to something special on its own terms. "Mama Cita" works up a furious jazzy fury that seems to prefigure quite a few of the textures one would hear on later Blonde Redhead records. But, yeah, there's far more shrieking here than on those more recent releases and Kazu Makino's vocal work on these earliest cuts adds a truly experimental edge to the recordings that makes them overall a little riskier than a lot of what Sonic Youth was doing in the same era. On the superb "Swing Pool", for instance, the band seem to have finally hit on that push-pull vibe that they'd perfect later. Portions of the cut are wildly catchy even if other bits mark this as clearly noise rock, not shoegaze.

The band's first single is here and while A-side "Amescream" doesn't inspire as it must have in 1993, B-side "Big Song" rocks with the sort of Neu-esque abandon one can hear on the very best Th' Faith Healers sides. The number features bassist Tada Hirano whose work anchors the swirl of this one. The "Vague" single puts the band back in noise rock territory with flip "Jet Star" offering up something truly abrasive and beautiful, complete with lyrics by Arto Lindsay.

The second half of Masculin Feminin kicks off with the exhilarating "(I Am Taking Out My Eurotrash) I Still Get Rocks Off" which showcases each member of this band to great effect. Seemingly harnessed now, Kazu Makino's vocals here seem to be what the song is centered around and not an additional element as it seemed on earlier tracks. The drums and guitars work up a stomp that's nearly Bad Seeds worthy at times but the sound here is now, firmly, the band's own. On other La Mia Vita Violenta cuts like "Harmony" and "Down Under", the trio tone down the glorious noise of the early releases for something more complex as traces of post-punk and free jazz brush up against each other throughout the cuts from the second LP proper. As far as albums go, this second release is a bit more expansive than the first and one can hear here, on tracks like "10 Feet High", the band trying to redefine, and own, the sort of music that inspired them in the first place.

This half of Masculin Feminin is rounded out with single cuts like the lovely and eerie "Jewel", and the trippy "Valentine" which nearly dissolves into a fit of Kazu Makino's laughter. "Flying Douglas" seems altogether catchier than anything on the band's first 2 records even as it flirts a bit with a shoegaze-y sense of feedback in spots. Elsewhere, there's a pair of radio sessions that highlight the adeptness of Blonde Redhead at pulling this all off live, while demo "It Was All So Sudden" offers a hint at the sort of direction this band's material would follow much later on the superb Misery is a Butterfly (2004), an album produced by D.C. legend Guy Picciotto (Rites of Spring, Fugazi).

Blonde Redhead have never compromised. If I stressed the fact that they were operating under the shadow of Sonic Youth early on, so be it; what indie musician wasn't in this country in 1995? That the band managed to expand upon that template so well and so distinctively is what makes the recordings on Masculin Feminin so important. Believe me, there were loads of bands cribbing the noise from the Youth without half a bit of sense about anything else. Blonde Redhead got it. They got it, man. And they ran with the formula and kicked at the edges until they had their own sound. What Masculin Feminin does so well is illustrate how damn quickly this group arrived at something that was uniquely their own. Within the space of just 2 albums, a clutch of singles, and some demo recordings, the art of Blonde Redhead takes shape for a listener all over again. That so much of this is so vital and fiery speaks to how expertly this NYC crew internalized the process of making music that sometimes got overshadowed by the scene-making of other acolytes of the whole No New York thang. There's 37 cuts here and not one is unnecessary. The first 10 years' of stuff from Blonde Redhead is some of the most essential post-punk music this country has offered up. That so much of that vitality can be heard here, on a collection that chronicles just the band's first few formative years, tells you that you need to get this set. Revelatory and inspiring, this is brave work that reminds a listener why Blonde Redhead deserve so much more attention than they sometimes get.

Masculin Feminin will be out on Friday via the Numero Group. Follow Blonde Redhead via the band's official website, or via their official Facebook page.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

High Flying Faith: My Review Of The New Album From EZTV

It was always gonna be darn hard to top their last album, wasn't it? Reviewed by me here, Calling Out showcased the nimble indie-pop chops of EZTV. The new one, High in Place, out on Friday via Captured Tracks, is more of the same, only better in some spots. Read on, kids.

Opener "High Flying Faith" is the best Teenage Fanclub song never written and performed by Teenage Fanclub, while stuff like "Reason to Ruin" and "Racing Country" offer up similarly Big Star-tinged examples of the very best kind of indie-pop on offer in 2016. If "States of Confusion" boasts a hook too close to an Eagles riff for my liking, EZTV win me back with the superb "Hammock", all bright moments from a dozen C86 releases crammed into one fine cut. There's not a huge amount of variety here but EZTV play to their strengths and that's something to be celebrated. If tracks like "Still" do try to offer a darker vibe, then album closer "Goodbye Morning" ups the ante by dealing a spiraling riff that signals an attempt to at least expand upon the band's formula.

If EZTV are not entirely breaking new ground on High in Places they are, at least, setting a new standard in consistency as each of these songs is a textbook example of what indie-pop is capable of being when a premium is placed on the art of songwriting. The band excel at this sort of thing and one can forgive them for not being too adventurous this time out when they have hit their stride with such confidence. The results please and it would be churlish to demand more, frankly.

High in Place by EZTV is out on Friday via Captured Tracks. Follow the band on their official website.

[Photo: Daniel Topete]

Gorgeous Day: My Review Of The Lovely New One From The Cleaners From Venus (Martin Newell)

A new record from Martin Newell is a thing to be celebrated. And, yes, it is indeed a "Gorgeous Day" when one of his albums is playing (even if it's overcast and cool here outside of Washington, D.C. this September day in a way that makes me think of England). The new release, The Last Boy in the Locarno may be billed to The Cleaners From Venus but, make no mistake, most of this is the work of one Martin Newell. The album, out Tuesday via Soft Bodies Records, is another in a long string of releases from this pop wizard and the perfect thing to soundtrack a lazy Autumn day.

I've already mentioned the gentle charms of "Gorgeous Day" which arrives directly after the sublime "The Crystals and Ronettes", an ode to another era that seems one of Newell's best recent compositions. On the expert "Time Star", Newell layers the cut with some crude psychedelic effects but the song isn't meant to be part of that genre as much as it's meant to sound like something from mid-Sixties Kinks long-players. That it compares so favorably to the work of Mr. Davies says so much about both Newell's influences as it does his skill-set.

Elsewhere, Newell draws on Fifties sounds for the fun "Eight O'Clock Angel" which segues nicely into the wistful "Pearl of the Palais", all nostalgia wrapped up in crunchy chords and electronic textures. On stuff like "Voodoo Watusi" and the positively-buoyant "Victorian Doll", Newell seems to be willing to push at the boundaries of his usual arsenal of tricks as the two cuts roil and bounce with a genuine sense of the new. The superb "My Life in Film" recalls solo material from both George Harrison and John Lennon and I can think of no higher compliment than that. "How the West Was Won" closes The Last Boy in the Locarno in fine fashion, a bit of looking back with some fiery moments from Newell on the axe sprinkled throughout.

One knows what one's going to get with a Martin Newell record and that's one of the things in this world that still warms my heart. As a fan of this sort of thing, I was won over to Newell's side ages ago and, yet, I can say that perhaps newer acolytes to the Newell flame would find The Last Boy in the Locarno as wildly inviting as I do. Joined by Sis Lea on drums and Val Wollard on sax, Martin Newell has made another fine, fine record here, one that furthers his unique brand of very English indie in some small ways. Not a dud in the mix, The Last Boy in the Locarno is a set of tunes supremely listenable and effortlessly enjoyable. Dig it, kids!

The Last Boy in the Locarno is out Tuesday via Soft Bodies Records. You can follow the adventures of The Cleaners from Venus and Martin Newell via the official website for Martin.

[Photos and artwork: Hilary Lazell]

Touch The Flame: A Look At The New One From Fatal Jamz

The new one from Fatal Jamz is an interesting proposition to be sure. Far too campy to be taken seriously -- it's called Pussy and Fame, after all -- and far too heartfelt to be entirely dismissed as a spoof of an earlier era's tune-age, this is an odd record and one that rewards listeners even as it confounds expectations of what indie-pop ought to be.

On stuff like "Coverboy" Fatal Jamz main-man Marion Belle approximates the appeal of Eighties radio hits pretty well, even if the effect is more successful when those influences are tempered a bit, like on "In Your Car". On tracks like "Lead Singer" and "Nikki Sixx", Belle seems to be wanting to harness the energy of hair metal which he does in a sense. But to what end? This sort of blending of glam and alternative only worked a bit for Gene Loves Jezebel and it's probably a stretch to think that Belle is going to be more successful at making this anything more than an ironic exercise in the appropriation of earlier styles. Still, his heart seems to be in it and in final cut, "Touch The Flame", he seems to have made something that's both in debt to O.M.D. and Nik Kershaw and still a touch affecting and original.

This new Fatal Jamz album is a goof in many ways but there's heart here too. The question for a listener is how prepared are you to listen to so many disparate Eighties touches throw together so busily? Pussy and Fame, out Friday on Lolipop Records, is an interesting proposition even if the ambition of Fatal Jamz sometimes exceeds what's actually heard on the record.

[Photo: Abigail Briley Bean]

A Kind Word About The New La Sera EP

Katy Goodman has been extremely busy this year. First, there was the Ryan Adams-produced La Sera album, Music For Listening To Music To which showcased a slightly new spin on the band's formula thanks to the more prominent role given to Katy Goodman's new husband, Todd Wisenbaker. Then, more recently, came the punk and new wave covers collection with Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore, somewhat favorably reviewed by me here. And now comes the new EP, Queens, out on Friday via Polyvinyl Records.

The EP has up 5 tracks, including 2 reworkings of tunes from Music For Listening To Music To (2016), 2 new songs, and a surprisingly tight Led Zeppelin cover ("Whole Lotta Love"). In "Queens", the band offers up a rollicking near-twangy burst of indie-pop that owes as much to Belle and Sebastian as it does to X. A fine cut, this number reveals that Katy's marriage to Todd may be the start of a whole new period of artistic fruitfulness for an artist who was pretty damn fruitful when single. "Magic In Your Eyes" is lyrical and reminiscent of the sort of thing found on earlier La Sera records only without so much fuzz or roaring guitars. "Shadow Of Your Love (Slight Return)" and "I Really Need An Angel" offer up variations on those fine Music For Listening To Music To cuts, while a robust cover of "Whole Lotta Love" closes out this release.

Essential for those you who, like me, are eagerly following La Sera's indie-pop trajectory, Queens is a fine release as the band bides its time before the next full-length record. You can follow La Sera and get details on their Autumn tour via the band's official Facebook page, or via the band's official website. Queens EP is out on Friday via Polyvinyl Records.

[Photo from band's Facebook page, uncredited]

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Something To Say: My Interview With Doug MacMillan Of The Connells

Readers of this site know that I was thrilled to review the first-ever 'best of' from The Connells recently and now I'm equally excited to present my brief interview with Connells front-man Doug MacMillan. I won't bore you (again) with my story of how much the music of this band from North Carolina meant to me during my years working in record stores in College Park, Maryland, 1987 to 1990. That story is told in the introduction to my review of the compilation. For now, let's just hear from the man himself, the guy whose distinctive voice made the tunes of The Connells so memorable and so special to so many of us.

Glenn, kenixfan: How did the Connells come together?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: The short version... Mike Connell, David Connell, and my childhood and (still) friend John Schultz (drummer at the time), were rehearsing, [just] working up songs Spring of 1984 -- they didn't have a singer -- a few people had tried out, but no one seemed to work. I was in school two hours away in Greenville, and for some reason I thought I could sing, and auditioned -- The first time not very successfully, the second time, after learning the songs, went much better. We spent that summer practicing...things did not work out with John as drummer. Peele joined as a drummer in September 1984. George joined A few months after that.

Glenn, kenixfan: When you look back now, do you feel like you achieved what you set out to do as a band? Opportunities missed or expectations exceeded?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: Yes and no. We were very fortunate in that things started to move fairly quickly for us in the beginning -- especially when we begin to play out on a fairly regular basis. We were fortunate to have friends in other bands (UV Prom, The Bad Checks -- esp. Cliff Mann [of] Johnny Quest, for whom Peele was drumming, etc.) [since] they would let us open. Plus we took advantage of the opportunities afforded us and other local groups to play fraternity/sorority parties and other campus and university-sponsored events. Fortunately, they let us perform our original material (keep in mind that we were performing maybe 10 or 12 songs total, but contracted to play three sets).

I was still taking a few classes at NCSU and coaching swimming at the YMCA. Mike and our manager at the time -- Tom Carter -- were both in their final year of UNC Law school... I think David and George were finished -- were just about finished burning [through] their degrees (the band also doubled as a painting crew -- thank goodness for the music because the painting did not pan out). It was around this time that I thought to myself it would be really cool if playing in this band could be my job at least for a little while. That aspiration came to be and for much longer than I ever would have expected. We are still considered to be a group that should have been a lot bigger. I don't know - there are just so many other acts, songwriters, etc. whose lack of widespread notoriety and radio play is downright criminal.

Glenn, kenixfan: Did you feel part of any scene? Who did you see as your peers?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: Yes. [Those] bands listed above [plus] Right Profile, Dillon Fence, 8 or 9 Feet, Satellite Boyfriend, etc.

Glenn, kenixfan: Why didn't you sign to a major label like Sire, for example?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: The only real interest came from TVT. We definitely had our problems with them but I know of a lot of bands that got signed to a major label and then lost in the shuffle after their A&R person left for greener pastures, or was sacked.

Glenn, kenixfan: You came of age in a pre-grunge era, how did the success of Nirvana make things different for "alternative" bands like the Connells?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: I feel like there has always been a place -- a slot or niche -- for bands like us who write and perform pop -- power-pop -- melody-driven songs. Personally, I never felt threatened or overwhelmed by grunge. Cobain had an uncanny melodic sense, and he was a wildly gifted lyricist. I hear Lennon on Nevermind and In Utero. But he wasn't really lifting [from Lennon]; he just seemed to have the same sensibilities. To me, part of that is a pop sensibility. However, in the same way that a band like Big Star's first record came out during a time when music was heavier, I could see how a movement like grunge could overshadow more poppy, melody-driven music of the same era.

Glenn, kenixfan: So, now the band is back together now and planning to tour?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: Uhhhh... Yes -- sort of. Not really "touring", per se.

Glenn, kenixfan: How did you decide on the track selection on the new "best of" collection?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: As I understand it, the criteria was songs that were released as singles.

Glenn, kenixfan: When you look back at those years touring as a college rock act, what are the memorable gigs, and favorite touring acts?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: "College Rock" is one of the terms that seemed to stick when they (Radio? Record labels?) came up with ideas to identify Alternative or Modern Rock. When we started it was called "New Music". And there was a brief period of time when it was referred to as "Progressive".

We played Monday/Tuesday-night progressive/new music nights in the early days... One night in Little Rock, Arkansas, we were playing on a Tuesday new music night and all the sudden a guy jumps on the stage with a harmonica holster like an ammo belt, yelling out "What key? What key?" It turns out that Monday night is open mic night and he was confused.

We toured with 10,000 Maniacs, The Replacements.

Glenn, kenixfan: Was your late success in Europe a strange experience? How did it feel to have such a big hit there even if in the States you guys were still thought of as a college rock act?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: That entire experience was bizarre... and a real shot in the arm. However, we lost a good deal of traction in the U.S. because we did spend a lot of time touring in Europe. Around that time, I was visiting friends in Charleston, and I saw an old friend and he said "I heard you guys broke up" [and] I think my response was, "Actually things are going better than ever, just not around here."

Glenn, kenixfan: What's next for the band?

Doug MacMillan, The Connells: Play some shows to promote the release of this "best of" -- A full-blown tour would be hard to pull off.

We started recording some new material in July at Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium studio -- hope to get back to you on that soon.

Many, many thanks to Doug MacMillan of The Connells for taking the time to answer these questions. Also thanks to Cary Baker at Conqueroo for arranging the whole thing.

Stone Cold Yesterday: Best Of The Connells is out now via Concord Music Group.

Follow The Connells via the band's official Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Disgusting Video From Picturebox Premieres Here!

Well, the video's not disgusting, you know? Rather, we're talking about the song called "Disgusting" from Picturebox, and the video is quite fab, actually. I'm happy to premiere it here today and very pleased to remind readers how fine the music of this outfit is.

Taken from the band's latest album, the sublime Songs Of Joy, out now via Gare Du Nord Records, the cut closes out that record in a whimsical fashion. The video, made by the folks at Young Al Production, features leader Robert Halcrow working up a psychedelic -- or is it C86? -- sort of vibe. The song and video sound and look like some lost gem from an earlier era of fantastic British indie and I say that as the highest sort of compliment. There's something very classic about the material of Picturebox and fans of Blur, Martin Newell, Close Lobsters, and The Wild Swans should groove on this one as much as I did.

You can buy Songs Of Joy via the song-link below, or from Gare Du Nord Records. For details on the exploits of Picturebox, including details on their upcoming gig in Brixton, check out the band's official Facebook page.

[Photo: Twitter feed of Picturebox, uncredited]

Monday, September 19, 2016

I'm Here To Get You Psyched For Next Week's Kid Congo Powers And The Pink Monkey Birds Gig In D.C. (While Offering Up My Quick Review Of Their Fab Latest Album)

You know, I have zero freakin' excuses to offer up as to why I'm so late to the party with the most recent album from Kid Congo Powers and The Pink Monkey Birds. Called La Arana Es La Vida, it dropped on In The Red Records a few months ago and it's a stomper that expands the Kid Congo Powers sound, and that's a considerable bit of praise considering this guy's background: The Cramps, The Gun Club, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Congo Norvell, and on and on. Given my familiarity with those acts, as well as his appearances on stuff like the Die Haut project, I'm kinda embarrassed that I didn't get on-board with this one when it dropped. I have now, the record rocks, and I'm gonna tell you why ahead of next week's gig in D.C. at Comet Ping Pong.

La Arana Es La Vida offers up a new line-up of the Pink Monkey Birds with local harDCore Renaissance man Mark Cisneros on guitar this time out. The Medications/Deathfix musician brings some fiery licks to these compositions and he sounds like he's having a blast on stuff like "Coyote Conundrum", his axe offering crunchy hooks behind Kid's Mark E. Smith-like delivery. The scorching "Magic Machine" churns like some lost gem from a Nuggets comp. mixed with traces of the sort of Bad Seeds mayhem Powers unleashed on staples like "Deanna" from 1988's Tender Prey. The bass of Kiki Solis and drums of Ron Miller anchor the downright evil "Ricky Ticky Tocky" which purrs with coiled menace. The wonderfully-titled "Karate Monkey" segues nicely into the title cut which is all Os Mutantes weirdness wrapped around an oddly lovely melody. If "Psychic Future" and "Coyote Conundrum", both dirty rockers, do indeed hark back to Powers' years in Nick Cave's group, the twang-y "Chicano Studies" puts an armful of sounds from the West Coast of this country in the service of something that bubbles and swirls behind Kid's Wolfman Jack-style vocal delivery.

Given that La Arana Es La Vida offers up familiar Kid Congo Powers pleasures, it's a must purchase for any fan of this cat, or the bands he contributed to over the last few decades. For newer fans, it's a fiery sampling of the sort of garage funk-punk that the Pink Monkey Birds can work up so easily. For folks in D.C., fans of the Dischord legacy, it offers up a chance to hear a local whiz-kid branch out and explore the sounds of multiple genres outside of a lot of those that gained favor in this city. Cisneros' brings a loose-yet-precise set of guitar moves to this one and this record is, probably, gonna be seen in hindsight as a new chapter in the Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds' story thanks in part to the addition of the Deathfix musician.

Speaking of this fine city, Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds will be rocking our own Comet Ping Pong next Tuesday, September 27. My fellow D.C. music scene aficionados will want to catch this gig for another reason: Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Chain and the Gang) will be DJ-ing as only he can as Escape-ism.

La Arana Es La Vida by Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds is out now on In The Red Records. Follow the band via their official Facebook page.

[Photo: The band's Facebook page, uncredited]