Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Stream A Fine Tune From Nat Lyon Here

It's fitting that Pulco's Ash Cooke is on this record as Nat Lyon is sort of doing a Pulco from the other side of the Atlantic.

Operating out of Connecticut, Nat Lyon is making tunes full of noise, melody, and bits-and-pieces of interesting stuff. Small Victory On A Fallow Field will be available to buy as of Friday but you can stream a few tunes here to start.

More details are to be found via those Bandcamp links or the Pethau Garw page.

"CH" recalls the work of Pulco (Ash Cooke is on a track on this record but not this one)...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jukebox Memoir Is Out Today: A Review Of The New Jet Age Record

It's been more than 2 years since their last record, the excellent Domestic Disturbances, and The Jet Age are now back with Jukebox Memoir.

The Jet Age -- Eric Tischler, Greg Bennett, and Pete Nuwayser -- have delivered something at once familiar and new. Listening to this one, I kept thinking of The Wedding Present, a band that The Jet Age have toured with, and the leap from stuff like Bizarro to Saturnalia in the space of a few years. Like Gedge and his mates, The Jet Age have a very easily identifiable sound -- that thing that makes them sound like The Jet Age and no one else, despite those numerous worthy influences peeking through -- but they have changed that sound much like David Gedge managed to radically change the Wedding Present sound...without losing any of the Wedding Present sound.

Tischler has done something similar here. He's managed to expand the rock-solid and solidly rocking Jet Age sound -- think "I Want To Touch You Again" from Domestic Disturbances or the earlier "I Said 'Alright'" from What Did You Do During The War, Daddy? -- into some new variation of the indie-rock template that encompasses...classic Stevie Wonder, for example.

I'm talking of the wonderful "Music" from Jukebox Memoir. From its "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" guitar riff opening, to its quotes from "Isn't She Lovely" in the coda, the tune is a marvel. Quite possibly one of the best tracks these guys have produced and I say that as someone who said that about the entirely harder and punkier "Left For Dead" from the last album.

As Eric Tischler explained to me:

I thought just embracing these styles would help us assimilate them, so I wasn't feeling like I was tiptoeing around these influences I want to reference. You can quote me on this.

And what The Jet Age are doing in that tune gets at the whole point of Jukebox Memoir as an album: acknowledge the influences, try a few on for size, and then kick things off into power trio overdrive. Less a loose concept album than some of their earlier releases, Jukebox Memoir works best as a collection of cuts from diverse genres. Here, on this record, The Jet Age travel in new directions -- jazzy funk on "Chocolate Cake" and "Booty" or full-on shoegaze on "Come Lie Down" with backing vocals from Swervedriver's Adam Franklin and Ride's Mark Gardener -- while still holding onto the familiar -- opener "I Can't Turn Around" which sounds like the best tunes on every Jet Age album.

Thoughtfully on the lyric sheet, the 3 guys in The Jet Age have provided what their influences were on each track -- opener "I Can't Turn Around" lists no influence as if to modestly highlight their own sound -- and some of these are helpful in adjusting to the new colors in the Jet Age palette.

To list The Who on "Free Ride" is sort of a no-brainer; these guys are huge fans of The Who and not for nothing is Tischler shown reading a Townshend book in that pic up there. But, in this case, it's a specific nod to what inspired another standout cut on this record. The Jet Age are filtering the pieces of a classic Who cut like "Naked Eye" into something new. "Free Ride" is a fantastic song and it enters another stratosphere entirely when Pete Nuwayser goes reliably apeshit on the kit. When Mike Myers inevitably makes a silly Keith Moon bio-pic, maybe Nuwayser can be the guy on the soundtrack actually playing the drums while Wayne Campbell mimes like Moonie?

A few pics from the last concert I saw in D.C. before my move to Hong Kong: The Jet Age in December 2011 (with Deathfix opening up -- their second ever gig!)...

"Dissolve To The Bedroom" lists Zep and Bowie as influences but what about that opening riff which sounds like the opening guitar figure from "First Of The Gang To Die" by Morrissey? Would Tischler be loathe to list Moz as influence? Not sure. But that hook works just as well here as it did for the God from Manchester. For "You Want To Dance", the lyric sheet cites Duran Duran as an influence -- there's a tiny bit of those guys here circa "Union Of The Snake" -- but I heard late period Gang of Four or maybe even XTC pre-"Mayor of Simpleton" -- maybe something like "Funk Pop A Roll"? As always, bassist Greg Bennett is the unsung hero of the band like Entwistle was for The Who. Bennett adds jazzy hues in spots and strong-and-solid bass muscle in others. Some of his very best work for the band is on Jukebox Memoir. Expanding The Jet Age sound has pushed the bass to a more important position on this album.

"Like A Bell" has a hint of The Faces, yes, but it also softens the hard edges of earlier Jet Age tunes. At once familiar and somehow different, as an album closer it points in yet another new direction for the band.

But next to "Music", I keep going back to "Horizon Burns". Referring back to the lyric sheet, I don't quite hear The Verlaines on this one, but maybe there is a bit of Tischler's earlier The Hurricane Lamps here. Sounds more to me like Grant Hart making New Day Rising-era Husker Du do a cover of an early Talking Heads tune. Whatever the influences, it's a scorcher of a cut. I can't wait to hear them do this live when they tour.

Back in my review of the last Dot Dash record -- a band whose debut was produced by The Jet Age's Eric Tischler -- I tried to stress how I preferred a solid collection of individual cuts over most concept albums. By that standard, Jukebox Memoir is a masterpiece in the Jet Age catalog. That's not to slight the earlier concept album structure of their previous records but to stress the ease of mastering diverse styles that The Jet Age have shown here.

Jukebox Memoir is more Odds And Sods than Quadrophenia, to refer back to a clear fave of Tischler and his crew. And that's not necessarily a bad thing when you think about it. If this set of songs doesn't tell a story of suburban angst like Domestic Disturbances did, it instead catalogs the wide range of influences that shaped these guys who grew up -- like me -- in an era of great music.

And for even attempting to pay tribute to D.C.'s go-go scene, these guys get enormous props.

The ultimate mix-tape as played by a D.C. area indie band, this new record from The Jet Age is sure to have something to engage old fans and new followers.

Jukebox Memoir is out now -- today! -- and you can get more details on the band's official website here and, in the U.S., you can order it on iTunes here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Download Dog Bite Joy Division Cover Here (New Record Is Out Now)

I realize that I have not reviewed the new Dog Bite record yet. After raving like a madman about Velvet Changes more than a year ago, it feels like I've neglected the new album.

It's a wonderful, trippy, collection of dream-pop which, if not quite as shockingly perfect as Velvet Changes, is somehow just as consistently reassuring in its effects.

Or something like that.

Tranquilizers is out now on Carpark Records and there are more details on the official Dog Bite Facebook page here. But, for now, dig this!

Flirting on the edges of 4AD worship, and having expertly covered a Bauhaus classic already, Dog Bite now turns towards another goth/neogoth/postpunk totem: the venerated Joy Division. Without trying to out Ian Curtis Ian Curtis, Dog Bite finds the surging heart of this tune and spins it in a new direction. Fans of Joy Division and Dog Bite should be pleased in equal measure.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Temples Drop Full-Length Debut And It's A Masterpiece: Stream Sun Structures Here!

Well you sort of know what to expect don't you? Every single release from Temples so far has been a thing of sublime beauty and awesome riffage. So why should the rest of the debut be anything but that sort of wonderful?

Sun Structures is out now on Fat Possum Records in the U.S. and Heavenly elsewhere. It's a great record and I'm glad to report that the band have lived up to their hype.

Familiar hook-filled tunes like "Mesermise" are here, along with early single "Shelter Song", but new pleasures can be found in "Move With the Season" -- all Moody Blues with better hooks -- and "A Question Isn't Answered" with its Spiritualized-meets-The Coral mood. By album's end, we've got the supremely catchy "Test of Time" which sounds like most of what Ian Brown and John Squire have separately been trying to recreate from the ashes of the mighty Stone Roses. It's Chemical Brothers dressing up as the Hollies. What a beautiful and magnificent chorus this tune has! And there are more just like that one here.

Temples have accomplished something great here. If they have not entirely reinvented the rock wheel they've at least put the pieces together in an interesting fashion. Fans of Britpop and its finest moments should be well pleased by Sun Strcutures. Or maybe you're just a fan of tuneful 1960s rock like The Left Banke, Moody Blues, and early Traffic? Fine. Temples have got that covered as well. No long jams, no extraneous bits of rock wankery. It's all solid stuff here.

Sun Structures is quite possibly one of the best records of 2014 and it's only February.

Warm your cold mid-winter heart with the rainbow-hued rockers on this record.

Follow Temples here on Facebook:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fantastic Tunes From Manchester's The Collected Fictions Up On Soundcloud

Thanks again Manchester.

I'd love to take credit for finding this band myself but I can't. Mike Schulman of Slumberland Records and Black Tambourine dropped a link to these guys on Facebook and I can see why. The Collected Fictions -- Paris Thompson, Daniel McMilan, and Isaac McInnis -- make lovely indie-pop tunes in the spirit of their named influences (The Clean, The Feelies, Aztec Camera, and The Pastels). I hear all of those here plus a hint of what Vampire Weekend are so desperately trying to do.

Follow along with The Collected Fictions on their Facebook page:

This is good stuff and a tune like "Sugarcane" is like a lost, early Arctic Monkeys b-side mixed with a hint of Modern Lovers.

"Wait" has a hint of "Lost Outside the Tunnel" from Aztec Camera and for that it gets my attention.

"Talk" is Orange Juice and The Clean in some wonderful and unholy combination.

"It Don't Matter Much" is Arctic Monkeys trying to piece together a Feelies cut. To me, it sounds perfect -- the tune that you should be hearing on the radio and humming instantly afterwards -- so go check it out now.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Download Rare Solo Live Cut From Grant McLennan (The Go-Betweens) Here

His Go-Between mate is the one who usually sounded like Dylan but here it's Grant McLennan sounding like Bobby D.

This is a great live cut of a song from Grant McLennan's 1995 release, In Your Bright Ray.

I urge you to download it now.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ex Hex (Mary Timony) Drops New Single And You Can Play It Here

As reported on Pitchfork, Mary Timony has shared a new track from her new band, Ex Hex, and it's a nod back to Helium with a hint of something else -- that guitar hook is hypnotic; to me, the riff that anchors this cut is almost Brian May-like. At least on this track, the jagged art-punk of the excellent The Shapes We Make (2007) and the real punk of Wild Flag have been replaced with maximum riffage.

More details here, on the official website for Ex Hex:

Looks like Ex Hex are dropping their debut sometime in 2014 on Merge Records.

And Ex Hex are playing D.C.'s Black Cat the day after my birthday. Check out the schedule of the club.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Captain America: The Winter Soldier Trailer Brings The Falcon And Fanboy Giddiness Ensues

A new trailer debuted for Captain America: The Winter Solder (2014) to tie-in with the Super Bowl TV spot and I am full of glee at the moment.

It was 3 years ago that I was reacting to another Super Bowl TV spot for the first Captain America film.

This trailer shows quite a few more details but what really pleases me is that The Falcon (Sam Wilson) is shown in scenes with Steve Rogers both in and out of costume. Anthony Mackie plays The Falcon and the guy was great in Pain and Gain (2013). I have high hopes for him as he brings this important character from the Cap universe into the Marvel cinematic one.

I grew up mainly on the modern era Captain America and The Falcon stuff from Jack Kirby so I feel like I am getting what I've always wanted as a fan now. That's not to say that I didn't love Captain America: The First Avenger (20111) but that I am just really happy we're now going to see a Cap adventure set in the modern world.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Download Classic Manics Single For Free Thanks To Heavenly Recordings

Most likely the only people who don't already have this are people who are not Manics fans so...

The Manic Street Preachers are a Welsh rock band. Their charismatic member, Richey Edwards, disappeared in 1995. The band's output can -- if you must -- be split into two halves: the 4-piece stuff with Richey which is (typically) punkier -- like "Motown Junk" (1991) -- and the 3-piece stuff which is like U2 without the religious bits or the bombast.

At some point it seemed as if there were 2 types of Manics fans: the Richey ones and the other ones. But the truth is that they are my favorite band and I love every era of their stuff. "Motown Junk" easily bumps up against the later "Rendition" on my iPod so I don't quite get the division among their fans. But then again, I have only been listening to them intently since about 1998.

Richey may be gone but the Manics can't shake his ghost.