Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Review Of The Debut Album From Deathfix

I was lucky enough to have seen the second-ever Deathfix gig, back in December 2011 when the band opened up for D.C.'s awesome The Jet Age at Comet Ping Pong.

Here are 3 shots from that gig that I had to seriously tweak in Picasa to render visible; it was dark in that joint!


Now with the self-titled debut from Deathfix set to drop on Dischord next Tuesday, it's safe to say that Brendan Canty -- (Yes, that guy from Fugazi!) -- Rich Morel, Mark Cisneros, and Devin Ocampo have delivered one of the most listenable records of the year.

A Dischord band that sounds nothing like a Dischord band, Deathfix have merged elements of postpunk and glam-rock with a hint of AOR to create a compelling 7-song set.

Opener "Better Than Bad" channels Shudder to Think circa that Velvet Goldmine (1998) soundtrack and throws in a hint of an old George Harrison stomper (that slide guitar!) to kick things off. It's the type of track that immediately sounds like something you'e heard before -- like about 10 different bands at once -- and it's also the sort of song that instantly gets stuck in your head.

I'm not ashamed to say that I played this first cut a few times before making it through the rest of the record.

"Low Lying Dreams" growls along on top of a piano melody like a Nick Cave jam or something from another one of his brethren. The song recalls Morphine (a tiny bit) and a few other acts but it remains a haunting tune. Brendan Canty's spiraling guitar-line holds things in place as the melancholy tune ambles forward.

"Hospital" builds after a subtle start. It's an amazingly impressive cut -- equal parts Bowie in Berlin and a sort of subdued Afghan Whigs. Dare I name-drop old Bruce Springsteen here? There's something direct and affecting here that's hard to define. It's that feeling of having heard all of these pieces before but never in quite this way.

"Dali's House" channels LCD Soundsystem -- and namechecks the band's frontman -- and creates a sort of American take on the late period funk of Gang of Four for lack of a better description. I do remember hearing this cut back in December 2011 and even then it was a crowd-pleaser.

"Playboy" sounds like mellow John Cale and Lou Reed, simultaneously. The instrumentation here is just fantastic. All four players add little flourishes that make this an expertly crafted and arranged song.

"Mind Control" has that old Shudder to Think vibe but it's more spacious and less angular. The vocals by Morel or Canty -- hard to tell who's singing sometimes -- are certainly more subdued than Craig Wedren's in Shudder to Think but the song unfurls a sort of funky and nearly sinister vibe.

"Transmission" finishes off the record and seems to encapsulate it as well. That Low-sound is here but something more. The song is epic, recalling not so much that other "Transmission" by Joy Division but a sort of Peter Hook-lead New Order instead.

Deathfix, a product of the talents of these collected Dischord and D.C. rockers, is a remarkably concise and listenable record. There's nothing wasted here. From the playful funk of "Dali's House" to the Unrest-meets-Joy Division sleek hum of "Transmission", this is an album that deserves many spins.

Follow the band on their website:
Deathfix.com

Deathfix will be released this week on Dischord.

Friday, February 15, 2013

New Single From The Tuts - Play It Here Then Buy It Now!


Those irrepressible gals in The Tuts are back. They've recorded a new single -- "Tut Tut Tut"
-- and it's equal parts early Kenickie and Kate Nash (The Tuts are going out on tour with Kate Nash in April after all).
You can play that song below. Then I urge you to click on over and buy the thing with your Paypal account.
It's that easy.
Follow The Tuts on their Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/thetuts




Sunday, February 10, 2013

New Dot Dash Song - Broken Halo

Premiered at their recent gig with Eternal Summers at the Rock and Roll Hotel, D.C.'s own Dot Dash premiered a new song called "Broken Halo" and we've got video of the cut courtesy of drummer Danny Ingram's son Sam.

The song opens like Joy Division, has a little downward guitar riff that recalls skinny tie power pop stuff, and then moves into what I'm beginning to call the Dot Dash sound: crashing cymbals, pounding drums, and slashing guitar lines over a throbbing bass.

And it all ends with something that sounds like a little drum-fill hook from The Wonders from that Tom Hanks flick.

I can't wait to hear this on the inevitable 3rd record.

Follow Dot Dash on their Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/Dot Dash

(By the way, that pic is not from the recent gig but it's one I took at a 2011 gig with Chameleons Vox and Dot Dash.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Adam Leonard Does Electronica: Echoes In Rows

Adam Leonard has gone from aping Syd Barrett to pulling a John Foxx on us.

Leonard's new project is called Echoes In Rows and the band (?) is set to drop an EP in February.

The tracks here -- "Zone Zone", "Shoot Me Like A Scene", and "Brian Aldiss" -- echo John Foxx, Gary Numan, and other electronic pop pioneers from about 30 years ago.

That said, it's fresh stuff. Sleek and shiny, the retro-futuristic vibe here is intoxicating. Both homage and its own work, the EP from Echoes In Rows is sure to please a lot of listeners and broaden Leonard's appeal beyond those interested in his more folky tunes.

You can find more details on the Adam Leonard Music Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/themessagetapes

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Review Of Imaginary Future From Finland's French Films

Finland's French Films are doing it right. They are doing it note perfectly, actually.

They have so expertly recreated -- nay, captured -- the sound of an earlier, better era that it's a bit disconcerting. Over the course of 2011's Imaginary Future album and 2010's Golden Sea EP, they have blended Franz Ferdinard, a peppy Interpol, and every good band those good bands nicked from. Add in a unique and undefinable swagger and a peppy ska beat on a few cuts and you've got 2 of the most listenable, most fun releases that I've heard in a long, long time.

Over a Jesus and Mary Chain-inspired wave of feedback, "This Dead Town" rides in on the best New Order riff that the Killers haven't nicked yet. It's a triumphant moment and a great way to kick off Imaginary Future and that first track contrasts nicely with the rapid-fire Wedding Present-meets-Franz Ferdinard-isms of follow-up "You Don't Know" in all of its 2 minutes of glory.

"Golden Sea" -- the name of that earlier EP -- is a hint of The Cure circa "High" and some shouty Britpop-esque vocals. Throw in an O.M.D.-style keyboard run and you've got a capsule history of just about all the best bands of my youth.

"Pretty in Decadence" is like some weird mix of Duran Duran and a 4AD band -- all shimmering guitars and electropop vocals.

"The Great Wave of Light" -- which you can play below -- recalls Wild Swans in some way. The percolating keyboard fights with the lines of shimmery Smiths-inspired guitars to create another winner.

"Living Fortress" slows things down and throws in a Gary Numan-type track, while "Escape in the Afternoon" is more rippling guitars and chiming vocals.

"Convict" -- which you can also play below -- rockets by with a hint of The Wedding Present, a touch of "The Village" by New Order, and a whole lot of goodwill. It's hard not to smile when listening to stuff like this.

"New Zealand" is punchy and poppy and as close to "I Felt Stupid" by The Drums as you can get.

Album closer "Up The Hill" is a slow guitar-wind-up like INXS during their slower numbers.

Imaginary Future is by far from the most original record I've heard lately. Frankly, it's wildly derivative.

However -- and this is important to note -- it's derivative with a sense of purpose. These guys are on a mission and they have largely succeeded. What they lack in originality, French Films more than make up for with conviction and melody and hooks.

The shimmering and cascading guitars on this record -- and there are walls of them -- are really why I love French Films.

They remind me of about a dozen other bands, band I grew up with, but bands I can't quite name at the moment 'cause I'm too busy rocking out with these Finnish lads.

The earlier Golden Sea sort of laid the template for what ended up on Imaginary Future. "Take You With Me" and "Lift Me Up" are buoyant indiepop gems but closer "Dropout Jr." really cranks along. Play it below and you'll see what I mean. The vaguely ska beat and the guitar riffs charmed me on first listen.

Follow French Films on their Facebook page:
www.facebook.com/FrenchFilms

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Free Album From Archie Moore (Black Tambourine, Velocity Girl, Lilys)

It was only 23-or-so odd years ago that I was working in one or two record stores in College Park, Maryland and seeing these folks rifle through the racks on a near-daily basis.

Then they formed Black Tambourine and my record store snob eyebrow arched like Belushi's.

Then Pam Berry co-created Chickfactor, and Mike Schulman formed Slumberland Records, and Archie, and Brian Nelson, and Kelly Riles, and Jim Spellman, and Sarah Shannon formed Velocity Girl.

And suddenly there was a legacy of the College Park scene.

Maybe they hadn't just been shopping for records when I'd seen them? Maybe they had been hatching their plans for indie pop domination 'cause by the early 1990s, they -- and hordes of their crew -- had translated their fanboy and fangirl love of Sarah and Creation stuff into their own great music.

But Archie Moore always seemed like the pop genius of the lot. It's fitting that the last time I talked to him in person was when he was recommending Bats albums to me at the late great Vinyl Ink, run by the late, great George Gelestino.

The guy's got impeccable taste and he's able to use that to make music that sounds like a dozen other bands but which stands on its own with little touches of unique melodicism or studio craft.

Archie is a busy guy these days but when he's not counting his royalty checks from having a VG song on the Clueless (1995) soundtrack album -- where it is in the actual film I've still never been able to determine! -- he's making wonderful music.

And you can get a whole album's worth for free.

Still not convinced? Check out the whole Brian Wilson-trying-to-rewrite-a-Standells-cut-vibe of "Oh No Baby Don't" which features Pam Berry of Black Tambourine.

Still waiting for that Velocity Girl reunion? Well here it almost is. VG, minus Sarah Shannon, get it together on "Incidental Music" which recalls -- again! -- the Beach Boys but also Calvin Johnson. It's an odd mix but a real delight -- expertly constructed lo-fi.

This is good stuff for fans of Archie Moore's various incarnations (Black Tambourine, Velocity Girl, Lilys, The Saturday People -- with Terry Banks of Dot Dash and Pam Berry's Glo-Worm) and I'd hate to see it slip under the radar.

I mean, "Everything is Okay" is like some weird mix of Teenage Fanclub, Boo Radleys, and those Wilson-inspired drum patterns. I'm sort of amazed at how easily Moore cranks out this sort of thing and, obviously, a track like this deserves a lot more fanfare than it may get on Bandcamp.

This kid is going to go places!

So all you aging Velocity Girl fans, grab dreamshit surfer from Archie Moore's bye! now.

Grab it here: http://archiemoore.bandcamp.com/album/dreamshit-surfer!