Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fuzzy Pop Delights From London's The Tuts

This is really good stuff -- poppy but with a garage-y snarl, punky but catchy. London's The Tuts -- Nadia Javed on vocals and guitar, Harriet Doveton on bass and backing vocals, and Beverly Ishmael on drums -- owe a big debt to bands like Kenickie and the earlier C86 artists but they're not simply a revival act. What you're hearing here is, quite simply, a younger generation of Brit musicians blend together a lot of postpunk history into something new and fresh.

The tracks on the EP are simple and direct -- like if The Pipettes could play punk rock. I always tend to gravitate towards stuff like this. "I Call You Up" is rough, like early Bis, but it's catchier while "Lying Lover (Acoustic)" is melodic and affecting. And "All Too Late" does indeed recall those early Libertines singles.

I really like "Back Up" -- all girl group-meets-glam stomp -- but it's not on the EP. A live video is below.

And they can rock glitter make-up so that's something.

Follow The Tuts on their Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/thetuts

And Harriet Doveton is in another band called Colour Me Wednesday. Follow them here:
www.colourmewednesday.com

Play the EP below:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Big Wave Rocket Out Of Torquay (Basil Fawlty's 'Hood)

When I found out that Big Wave were from Torquay, the home of that fictional bastard Fawlty, I couldn't help but mention that in the headline.

I bet this band are sick of that shit, eh?

Anyway, "Only You" is a splendid slice of big pop, all Heavenly harmonies and big fuzzy guitars -- like Voice of the Beehive and The Primitives finally collaborating some 26 years past their respective peaks.

I urge you to play the track and the video and head over to the band's Facebook page and website:

http://www.facebook.com/wearebigwaveband

http://wearebigwave.tumblr.com/

Pere Ubu Are Back: Lady From Shanghai Is Out Now

Some 35 years after they starting blurring the lines between punk and art rock, Pere Ubu are back with Lady From Shanghai, out now on Fire Records.

Along with leader David Thomas, this is the line-up of this incarnation of the Ubu:

David Thomas - vocals, piano, xiosynth, Korg iMS-20, Monotron, Roland 303, organ
Keith Moliné - guitar, bass
Robert Wheeler - EML synthesizer, Grendel Drone Commander, Korg iMS-20, and SNM Cacophonator II
Gagarin - digital electronica, piano, organ
Michele Temple - bass, guitar, bells
Steve Mehlman - drums, vocals, organ
Darryl Boon - clarinet

"Thanks" and "Free White" (which you can play below) kick things off in a clatter of keyboard noise. Recalling early Nineties-era Mark E. Smith and his Fall, David Thomas leads this line-up of Ubu through its paces. The tunes are subdued but sinister, rolling rhythms and troublesome undercurrents.

Other cuts here, like "Mandy", bear traces of modern classical music, for lack of a better description. Add in those Tom Waits-like vocals of David Thomas, and the effect is one of mournfulness and menace.

"And Then Nothing Happened" and the marvelously-named "Musicians are Scum" use more traditional rock forms. They are the accessible bits on Lady From Shanghai.

"Lampshade Man" continues that Fall vibe (though Pere Ubu were surely an influence on The Fall, if I had to guess). And "414 Seconds" rocks along across familiar Ubu territory.

If Thomas and his band are less loud, to put it bluntly, they are no less adventurous. Never an easy band to write about, Pere Ubu were never entirely so rock 'n' roll as to be punk, nor were they the sort of folks who'd indulge in that Zappa-style wankery.

No they charted their own territory. Lady From Shanghai continues that journey. It's brash, abrasive music but it's also a rewarding listen for most fans of this band.

Follow Pere Ubu on their awesome website:
http://ubuprojex.net/index.html

Or on the Fire Records website:
www.firerecords.com

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Five Reasons Why I (Still) Love Superchunk

I've now been listening to Superchunk for about 21 years.

I'm an old-ass college rock rocker.

And in the last year in Hong Kong, I've listened to Superchunk more than any other band while riding the MTR to and from work. I do not know why either.

Except that they rock. And I love them. And here are 5 reasons why.

1. The New Order-esque everyday poetry of "The First Part" (1993) -- 'One good minute could last me a whole year' indeed!

2. This song and this performance.

3. In 1997 -- I think -- I saw them dress up as The Misfits for a show in D.C. And it was all kinds of kick ass.

4. Jon Wurster's drumming. Jon Wurster's drumming at the 2:45 mark and onwards.

5. Their songs rock even in acoustic settings. Case in point...

BONUS REASON: Their covers are good. They are not indie wiseacres when they cover something mainstream like this. They find the hook and ride it into infinity.

Like they've been doing for 23+ years...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Who Sez Punks Can't Be Ambitious? Cinema Cinema Bring The Rawk

How can just 2 guys make so much freakin' noise!?!

Cinema Cinema -- Paul Claro on drums and Ev Gold on vocals and guitars -- crank out a mind-numbing series of tunes on Manic Children & The Slow Aggression. Poised near hardcore, these cuts veer into unexpected areas: near-metal on "Shiner No. 3"; Hendrix-esque stuff on "Cycles"; loud folk on "NLL". Over the course of the 80 minutes on this monster, Claro and Gold pound, strum, and scream through these nearly epic cuts.

The production by legendary D.C. studio wizard Don Zientara keeps things simple. Somehow these 2 guys sound like an army here. It's sometimes overwhelming music -- like on the rawk of "Lady Abortion" -- but it's nearly always ambitious. It's not enough unless it's too much, as they sometimes say, and Cinema Cinema adhere to that.

There are moments here where Cinema Cinema recall Dischord rule-breakers like Shudder to Think and others where they bring to mind SST pioneers -- Husker Du's wilder moments on Zen Arcade (1984). Overall, the musicianship is outstanding -- it's like some of those Zappa players doing a punk record in spots -- but I really preferred the cuts that featured Monster Magnet-like takes on the Stooges template: fuzzy, loud rawk!!!.

For more details on Cinema Cinema, find them on their Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/cinematwice

Or on our their official website:
http://www.cinemacinemaband.com.

Monday, January 21, 2013

How Did I Sleep On This For So Long? Hellaciously Good Track And Video From Balkans

Dear God is this good.

This is "Troubled and Done" by Balkans. It sounds like The Strokes playing a Wedding Present song. Backwards.

Thanks to The Fader.com, there's a free MP3 of this jam still floating out there in the ether. Grab it.

Then dig the video. The pudgy rhythm guitarist has won my heart and I'm as straight as an arrow.

Follow Balkans on their Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/balkansbalkans

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Dog Bite Delivers A Thing Of Genuine Beauty: A Review Of Velvet Changes

I get a lot of free music these days, and I tend to gush about stuff that I like even a little bit, but let me say without a trace of exaggeration that Velvet Changes is the best full-length record I've heard in about a year.

I've been sitting on this thing for a few months now but, since the February 5 release date of Dog Bite's album on Carpark Records is looming in the near-future, it's about time I wrapped my words around this beautiful record.

By now you know the backstory: Phil Jones was playing keyboards with Washed Out and then he decided to record his own record, partially inspired by the 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock, if you believe the press pieces.

Let's start with "Forever, Until" shall we?

The lead single and opening cut on Velvet Changes immediately recalls 4AD band Swallow -- (for reference here) -- but where that 4AD band and dozens of their type bought effects pedals before learning a tune, Dog Bite is more concerned with melody. The vocals -- a bit buried -- convey the emotions but the strong melody line is what sets this apart from just about every other moody shoegazer out there.

Yeah, fans of that stuff won't be disappointed with the Dog Bite album but these tunes are stronger than any act gravitating towards the class of 1991.

"Supersoaker" uses some crooning and a combination of scratchy guitar and Robin Guthrie-style effects to create another strummed mini-masterpiece. If Phil Jones' vocals are not always direct, and if you can't always make out the words, it's no matter; Like Elizabeth Fraser before him, he's able to convey the emotions of the tracks without being so obvious in his delivery.

"No Sharing" starts with a sprightly Durutti Column-like guitar-figure. It moves at a faster clip but Jones' vocals sound like a man overwhelmed by the beauty of the world.

As others have mentioned, there's a hint of A.R. Kane here but where those London guys had a few feet on the dance-floor, Jones seems more interested in creating personal music that looks inward even while it opens up in instrumental flourishes around his sometimes-subdued vocals.

Did I say Dog Bite wasn't interested in dance-music? But there's "Prettiest Pills"...

Well, "Prettiest Pills" isn't really dance music but it does have a strong beat -- a drum machine? -- that anchors the track as the fuzzy bass and layered guitars wash over the tune. Jones' multitracked vocals are used excellently here -- it sounds like there were 10 guys in the studio but I'm guessing that it was just him.

"You're Not That Great" channels some Joy Division (Peter Hook-style bass-line) but the mood is lovely and not grim. Jones' vocals here follow the lyrical guitar line.

"Holiday Man" uses a rockier strum and a few sharp guitar notes to change up the mood while "Native America" uses real drums (I think) to anchor a tune that's got less effects on it than others on this record, though Phil Jones' vocals are multitracked here.

"Paper Lungs" looks to Joy Division and that sort of thing more than 4AD bands. It's a slow-burn of a number, the near-drone and simple guitar-work creating something uneasy but there's release in the strong chorus.

Which brings us to "Stay Sedated", my favorite track on the album. Languid vocals -- "salty eyes and salty dreams" -- and a Robin Guthrie-meets-Fripp guitar-riff and soft drum patterns create the highlight of the record for me. Sure, the other tracks have some of those same elements but there's something magical about the way the song opens up at the midway mark. What's sort of a moody downer suddenly turns into a briefly soaring down-tempo anthem.

Instrumental "The Woods and the Fire" takes that Cocteau Twins vibe and runs with it. Throw in a hint of My Bloody Valentine and you can hear what's in Phil Jones' record collection on this one. Still, like most of the tunes on Velvet Changes, it's less a product of Phil Jones' influences and more a unique spin on them. Dog Bite isn't aiming to be the American version of that 4AD stuff. No, he's simply taking those pieces and using them in a new way. Not quite new folk or lo-fi or emo, the tunes on Velvet Changes point the way for something affecting and new in American rock.

Album closer "My Mary" offers one of Phil Jones' best vocal bits on the record. Behind some "The Spanglemaker"-styled guitar riffs, Jones croons "I need you..." and the tune unfurls around him as his voice echoes out into the night. It's a mix of about half-a-dozen different elements but the effect is one of emotional directness. By being a bit obscure, Jones manages here to produce genuinely deep music.

I've raved about this record to friends and now I'm raving about it to my few readers. Get this album when it's released on February 5 on Carpark Records.

Like The Blue Nile and Vini Reilly's Durutti Column, Phil Jones as Dog Bite manages to produce music that resonates in some genuinely unique ways with a listener. And, like those acts, he blurs a few genres in the process.

Strip away the production and you've got a lot of strong tunes. Add in the instrumental bits and subtle studio wizardry here, and you've got one of the best sounding records in ages.

I think the fact that I've wasted so many words trying to describe this record, and done such a shitty job too, ought to tell you that this music is special and hard to define in easy prose.

Follow Dog Bite on his Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/dogusbitus.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

D.C.'s Sansyou: Our Own Durutti Column?

I'm glad that somebody remembers The Durutti Column. The D.C. area's Sansyou do and they remember Harold Budd and the Cocteau Twins too.

I mention those artists not to pigeonhole the guys in Sansyou -- David Nicholas on guitar, Matthew McGarraghy on guitar, percussion, and piano, and new addition Davis White of Lorelei on percussion and keyboards -- but rather to point a fan of those acts towards this one.

"Save Me Some Air", the second track on When We Become Ghosts, gently but forcefully loops forward, the guitar echoing Robin Guthrie without so many effects pedals in front of him. The light percussion creates an open atmosphere and the cut reminded me in a pleasant way of the second half of David Sylvian's Gone To Earth album.

"Black Nerve Administrator" has that Vini Reilly guitar sound up front but the keyboards and percussion open up in flourishes behind the plucked notes. It's lovely stuff.

It's worth noting that Sansyou was just David Nicholas and Matthew McGarraghy on the album and that Lorelei's formidable drummer didn't join until later.

I'm sure that these 3 musicians will work well together in a live setting. The record already illustrates a unique musical chemistry between Nicholas and McGarraghy; it takes great precision to create music that sounds this effortless.

Follow Sansyou on their Facebook page here.

Or you can follow them on their official website here.

Finland's French Films Are Doing It Right: Play Sublime Single Here

Oh this is good!

These guys from Finland are wearing their influences on their sleeves but I'll forgive them that 'cause they're great influences.

French Films are here with the exquisitely titled "When People Like You Filled The Heavens", a slab of indie in thrall to the C86 generation as well as modern acts like Franz Ferdinand and The Strokes.

The band are set to drop their new album White Orchid in April and I highly recommend seeking out that record.

For now, play their tune below and follow them on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/FrenchFilms

A semi-acoustic live version of "When People Like You Filled The Heavens"

The Ruby Suns Deliver A Sleek Electro-Pop Record: A Review Of Christopher

There's no shame in sounding like O.M.D. None at all.

Before John Hughes sort of hijacked that band for his own devices, O.M.D. were a band who -- along with John Foxx, Gary Numan, and New Order -- made thoughtful and soulful electronic pop of the highest caliber. Erring on the side of tunefulness, they still managed to take some experimental risks.

Which brings us to The Ruby Suns who are doing the same sort of thing in 2013. The New Zealand band are back with Christopher, out on January 28 on Memphis Industries in Europe and January 29 on Sub Pop in America.

So when I start to say that this record sounds like O.M.D., I mean that as the highest compliment. The Ruby Suns are creating lush electronic soundscapes full of melody and hooks. They, unlike some others doing this sort of thing, have their hearts in the right place. This is no revival act.

The sheets of keyboard noise mixed with the near-New Romantic crooning on "In Real Life" give you a good idea of the strengths of this band.

"Kingfisher Call Me" stretches things out and makes use of a wide cinematic sound while "Rush" recalls Prefab Sprout's "Cruel" in the best possible way.

"Boy" updates the template of The Associates for the 21st century while "Futon Fortress" recalls Japan without the thumping Mick Karn bass.

All said, Christopher is a fairly consistent record. If the songs sound a bit the same over time, that's okay as that sound is a nice one. The record charms.

Follow the band on their Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/therubysuns

Friday, January 18, 2013

Get The New drivin' n' cryin' Record Now!

Forget alt-country or whatever ridiculous tag these guys were stuck with in the past, they're rockers now.

On the new EP Songs About Cars, Space and The Ramones Kevin Kinney and drivin' n' cyrin' open up the amps and head out on the highway.

"Johnny Rides Shotgun" rocks like a beast, all Motorhead riffs and Ramones style. "Acceleration" recalls The Stooges.

"Moonshot' has a familiar drivin' n' cryin' sound but it's still a thunderous monster and it cranks along like those guys in Fu Manchu but with a slight twang.

Follow drivin' n' cryin' on their Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/drivinncryin.

Or on their official website:
http://www.drivinncryin.com/.

Nightlands Release Oak Island On Secretly Canadian

I hesitate to use the word space-y but, hell, what other adjective is there? Coming on like Jeff Lynne trying to make classic Floyd more soulful, Dave Hartley as Nightlands has wrought a sort of masterpiece in Oak Island, out on January 22 on Secretly Canadian.

On "Nico" that space-y sound gets fully articulated via the keyboards which are straight out of some 1970s film. The vocals, multitracked out into infinity, are warm and somehow still robotic.

The near funky beat behind "So It Goes" is like a deconstruction of a soul song. The guitar lines recall Spacemen 3, or one of those Silver Apples records, but it's not really a guitar-oriented song.

Nothing on Oak Island is what you'd call typical rock music. No, it's spacious and space-y, expansive, and nearly timeless. Impossible to pin down to one era or one influence, it's music that defies easy categorization.

Oak Island is out on January 22 on Secretly Canadian.

Haroula Rose Drops New EP

Singer-songwriter Haroula Rose has dropped a new EP, So Easy, out now.

From an imaginative and evocative cover of "Wichita Lineman" to a lyrical and lushly melodic take on Francoise Hardy's "Only Friends" the EP is a welcome burst of sunny pop.

Check out the title track in the video below.

Follow Haroula Rose on her Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/haroularose

Or on her official website:
http://www.haroularose.com/

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bright Little Field Offer Replacements Tribute Album

The biggest surprise is how well this works.

What on paper seems like a goof -- a ukulele tribute to The Replacements -- turns out to be a thoroughly listenable and fun record.

Nashville mainstays Jonathan Bright and Tom Littlefield -- get it? Bright Little Field! -- have bridged the worlds of alt-country and American college rock (what they used to call the 'Mats' music back in the day) and reinvented these marvelous tunes.

"Achin' To Be" and "Can't Hardly Wait" lend themselves well to this ukulele-and-vocals treatment. And "Swingin' Party" is especially poignant here. The strengths of Paul Westerberg as a songwriter are so obvious when you hear this cut recast in a different light.

Treatment Bound: A Ukulele Tribute To The Replacements is out now on Bar/None Records.

Check out the Facebook page for Bright Little Field here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Play And Download Full-Length Album From Manchester's monster island

Maybe it's not just Mark E. Smith?

Maybe there's something in the water up there in Manchester?

monster island -- lowercase please! -- are a band from Manchester. They sound a bit like The Fall circa Bend Sinister. This is a good thing.

Please listen now.

Seriously, this is some noisy, Earl Brutus-like rawk. monster island crank up an unholy racket as only the best bands from the North of England can do.

Follow them for now on their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/monsterislandmusic

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The History Of Apple Pie Drop Marvelously Poppy And Rocking Debut Album

Whatever you want to call it -- shoegaze or fuzz pop -- this record rocks and soars and delights.

This is Out Of View, the debut LP from London's The History Of Apple Pie and it's out on January 29 on Marshall Teller Records.

Vocalist Stephanie Min, guitarists Jerome Watson and Aslam Ghauri, bassist Kelly Owens, and drummer James Thomas have managed to distill a dozen somewhat-obvious (and worthy) influences into a coherent whole -- there's almost no wasted parts here.

Production from The Horrors' Joshua Third helps make this a delightful record -- one that will surely be in many Top 10 lists some 11 months from now.

It seems like ages ago that single "Mallory" dropped. A melange of swooping Velocity Girl-inspired riffs and Lush-style fuzziness, the cut is just a smile-making machine of post-C86 pop joy. It's here as a sort of anchor on this record.

"Tug" leads things off, all Curve-meets-Belly guitar-grinds. "See You" is that overlooked 4AD band Swallow trying its hand at being Black Tambourine.

"The Warrior" is a smooth and supple little number. Where other cuts here are a bit upbeat, if not downright perky, this one is more of an insinuating one and it builds, rising and falling through the great guitar work of Aslam and Jerome.

"Glitch" and "You're So Cool" are mid-tempo riffers held aloft by Stephanie Min's deliciously breathy and multi-tracked vocals.

"I Want More" glances in the Cocteau Twins' direction but aims forward, building a certain momentum amid the guitar-effects and vocal bits.

"Do It Wrong" crunches a Sleeper-like riff into new shapes, taking old pre-Britpop indie rock tropes into the 21st century.

"Long Way To Go" adds an acoustic guitar to the mix as the galloping beat leads things onward.

Closer "Before You Reach The End" features some guitar-freakouts from The Horrors' Joshua Third and it's a semi-epic of largely accessible noise-rock.

If the whole record doesn't quite bounce along like "Mallory" that's understandable as the band have clearly progressed a bit since that earlier single. Out Of View may not do something new but, like the first album from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, it takes wear-on-your-sleeves influences and crafts something memorable out of them.

Decidedly listenable, the debut from The History Of Apple Pie is a smart and sharp bit of near-shoegaze guitar-pop.

Out Of View will be released on January 29, 2013 on Marshall Teller Records.

Find out more about The History Of Apple Pie on the band's website:
http://www.thehistoryofapplepie.com/.

Or on their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/thehistoryofapplepie

The insanely perky and catchy "Mallory" from The History Of Apple Pie. How can you not smile while watching this?

A Review Of The Debut Record From Mike Watt's Il Sogno Del Marinaio

I must confess that I wrote that headline to get readers' attention but this record is most clearly not all about Mike Watt, excellent musician that he is.

No, La Busta Gialia, out January 29 on Clenched Wrench, is most decidedly the work of a group of musicians, not just that guy from The Minutemen.

Made up of bassist Mike Watt, guitarist Stefano Pilia, and drummer Andrea Belfi, Il Sogno Marinaio is a sort of power-trio with assorted additional musicians thrown in. The record covers territory that I'd be hard pressed to describe -- jazz? prog? hard rock?

From the snarl of "The Tiger Princess" to the steel drum-hitting, cymbal-crashing joy of "Funanori Jig", the record is just a joy to listen to.

At this point, I feel like maybe I should repost what drummer Andrea Belfi has written about these tracks:

Il Sogno del Marinaio's La Busta Gialla has been created in a two weeks' journey through the Italian landscape: four days of rehearsing, six shows, two days of recordings.

Each song tells a story...the whole album has a narrative quality that is clearly perceivable from the very beginning.

"Zoom" is an eight-minute-long trip, that explores many different paths. Cinema pour L'Oreille I would say.

"Partisan Song" is dedicated to a bronze monument representing two partisans standing proud in the center of a big intersection in Bologna.

"The Tiger Princess" is a sort of fairy tale in which all instruments play many different patterns, each one different from the previous one.

"Funanori Jig" sounds like a long trip by boat from the Mediterranean sea to the Caribbeans.

"Il Guardiano Del Faro" is the story of a shipwreck.

"Joyfuzz" is an imaginative portrait of a real person using the image of an electric guitar effect pedal.

"Messed-Up Machine" is a sort of broken engine, that turns on and off, and at the end, after a few tries, finally works.

In "Punkinhed Ahoy!" the New Orleans funk beat is mixed with a traditional Italian longshoreman choir from Genoa. A positive ending for the great first Il Sogno del Marinaio experience!

Drummer Belfi has done a great job at hinting at the highs and complexities of these recordings. His work, along with the exceptional playing of Stefano, goes a long way towards upstaging Mike Watt's work here, no mean feat given that guy's track record.

On "Joyfuzz", there are a few moments where the guitar-work recalls Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and Robert Fripp -- in the space of a few moments! -- and the drums echo patterns laid down by Ginger Baker in the past and you feel like a lucky listener.

For a non-musician such as myself, it's hard to write about this sort of music. Still, I can hear something happening, connections being made and explored by the musicians, and in that sense, it's like a great jazz record.

If there are sections here that recall fusion, there are just as many that recall 1970s prog records (though stretched out and expanded beyond their space-y roots). That's not to label this album but, rather, to go to some of the only touchstones that would seem to help me describe La Busta Gialia by Il Sogno Marinaio.

La Busta Gialia will be released on January 29.

Check out the Clenched Wrench website for more details.

Check out this page on Mike Watt's site for more details on this specific project.

Here's a clip of Il Sogno Marinaio in action.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Four Free Tunes From Adam Leonard

Adam Leonard has given us a gift. It's a name-your-own-price set of tunes, including two cuts from his sublime Nature Recordings.

Enjoy the way Adam bridges the worlds of folk-rock -- the Roy Harper-era stuff -- with bits of Barrett and Hitchcock and hints of other modern musicians who've got one foot in the folk world and one foot in the rock world -- I'm thinking Espers and Six Organs of Admittance here.

Follow Adam Leonard on his Bandcamp page:
adamleonard.bandcamp.com

Or on his Facebook page or on Folkwit Records.

Listen To New Non-Album Cut From Dog Bite Here!

The album won't be out for a few weeks but Dog Bite (Phil Jones of Washed Out) is here to share a rare non-LP track from a split 7" with Toro Y Moi.

This is the churning "Would Be" and it's a haunting slice of 4AD-meets-Joy Division-style rock.

Follow Dog Bite on Carpark Records or on his Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/dogusbitus

You can play "Would Be" via this link as there's no embed feature.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hong Kong: What's Left Unsaid

I've barely written about the more significant events of the last 10 months of my life here in Hong Kong.

Yes, I arrived here with 2 suitcases and a computer right around New Year's Eve 2011 but the important things -- the things that have really shaped my life -- didn't happen until after April 1.

And yet...I don't feel like writing those chapters of my story now, here, for you few readers.

I think back to all my prior trips here and all those events and experiences in my Hong Kong adventures before 2012 seem so little, so meager now.

I might only have a few months left here -- maybe a year -- who knows? What matters is that certain things are moving in the right direction and they have been, more or less, since April 1.

Cue Etta James singing "At Last" right about now.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Download Free MP3 From Mike Watt Here

The Minutemen's Mike Watt has been working with musicians in Italy. Recording as il sogno del marinaio, which translates as "the sailor's dream," the trio is guitarist Stefano Pilia and drummer Andrea Belfi with Mike Watt on thunderbroom.

Recorded in Italy, the trio is set to drop its debut release on Mike Watt's own Clenched Wrench label on January 29.

For now, you can download "The Tiger Princess" below:
Download "The Tiger Princess here.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Play Another Magnificent Single From Temples Here

Coming off a big year-end tour, and another write-up in the NME, Temples are poised to seize the glory in 2013.

And, having heard "Prisms", I'd say that they have already produced some of the most haunting and affecting tunes of 2012.

Coming on like The Flaming Lips raiding a really good collection of European psychedelia records, these guys bring the magic here.

Follow these wild-haired geniuses on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/templesofficial

Alasdair Roberts Offers Up A Wondrous New Album

I first heard of Alasdair Roberts on the Fruit Tree Foundation album.

The Scottish singer and guitar player uses a scordatura technique to deliver folk-influenced music that sounds like little else on offer in today's musical marketplace.

A Wonder Working Stone, out on 22 January on Drag City, is a 2 LP/1 CD set of resonant and haunting tunes from Alasdair Roberts and friends (Ben Reynolds on electric guitar, Shane Connolly on drums, Rafe Fitzpatrick on fiddle, Stevie Jones on bass, and Olivia Chaney providing some guest vocals).

A Wonder Working Stone is a collection that straddles the line between folk and rock. Closer to the work of Bert Jansch and Richard Thompson than to more traditional folk-rock pioneers, the record rewards an attentive listener.

Spanning 10 tracks over more than an hour -- no track here is under 5 minutes -- A Wonder Working Stone is an epic journey through familiar folk territory that's tinged with flashes and splashes of guitar fury.

"The End Of Breeding" recalls Sandy Denny, as well as those classic Richard and Linda Thompson records. It's a haunting and enveloping cut.

"Brother Seed" opens with gentle plucking from Roberts and continues into a nearly hypnotic and ruminative number.

"Fusion Of Horizons" uses blues-y, Jimmy Page-like guitar-lines to great effect. It's a near-drone in spots, but it's also one of the highlights of the record.

Near the record's end, we get "The Laverock in the Blackthorn/Oganaich An Oir-Fhuilt Bhuidhe/Niel Gow's Lament For His Second Wife" which offers up three traditional folk-tunes in one blast. Add in Olivia Chaney's splendid vocals on top of Roberts' unique guitar-lines and it feels like you're hearing something entirely new but backward-looking. The spirit of the folk music is what's important here and not some slavish attempt to replicate the tunes of an earlier era with ghostly and creepy precision.

Again, I've got to go to that Richard Thompson well for a comparison as, clearly, Roberts is in that small circle of musicians who can do what Thompson did so well already.

Mournful, speculative, soaring, contemplative, A Wondrous Working Stone from Alasdair Roberts and Friends is a double-album's worth of rich tunes.

It is released on 22 January on Drag City.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Adam Leonard Offers Up (SUPER) Limited Edition Set Plus Beatles Cover

I was a big fan of Adam Leonard's Nature Recordings back in 2011 and now I'm here to bring you news of a SUPER limited edition version of that record.

How limited? Try 4 "seasonal" copies. Is that limited enough for ya?

It's a cool idea and you can find out more about the 4 seasonal editions of Nature Records on Adam Leonard's website:
http://themessagetapes.wordpress.com/

In the meantime, play a BBC session version of one of the tracks from the record along with a cover of my favorite song from my 2nd or 3rd favorite Beatles album.