Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dig Some New Tunes From Gulp (Guto Pryce From Super Furry Animals) Here!

Another spin-off from Super Furry Animals is nearly here. In July, Sonic Catheral will release the first album from Gulp (Guto Pryce from Super Furry Animals and Lindsey Leven, among others).

The songs that I've heard so far are affecting and ethereal without being fluff. Fans of Slowdive and Sarah Nixey (from Black Box Recorder) should thoroughly enjoy these tunes.

Right now I'm a bit enraptured with "Vast Space" which uses a nearly droning keyboard to anchor the cut around Lindsey's cooing vocals. It reminds me a bit of that 4AD band Swallow, if any of you remember them.

Until the album drops, and until I post a review of the full record, you can check out the Gulp Facebook page here and play the tunes below.

Quick Review Of New Aurelio Valle (ex-Calla) Record: Acme Power Transmission

What a pleasant surprise this record turned out to be!

For long-time Calla fans, the arrival of Aurelio Valle's Acme Power Transmission is a ray of light as the band hasn't put anything out in 6 years. Valle named the record after his landlord's auto parts store...and that somehow makes sense. This is great driving music. Any track on here, from the pulsing and buzzing opener "Bruised and Diffused" to the sinister Barry Adamson-ish "Superhawk", would sound great as you cruised a lit-up cityscape in a sleek automobile or drove a lonely highway at night.

By the time we get to "Cowboy" and it's like Aurelio Valle is scoring a film. The song features vocals but it's the electronic textures that provide warmth to the cut. Then the strings come in and the song takes on another hue entirely. A really lovely piece of work.

Add Nina Persson to up the loveliness factor. Surprisingly, her vocals mix well with the fuzzy chords Aurelio lays down behind her on "Electraglide". As her voice purrs, the music unwinds and clatters around her. The track is probably the highlight of this record.

Aurelio Valle's Acme Power Transmission demands careful listening but it's not heavy music. It's accessible and the songs are all concise and precise statements. Aurelo has produced a disc that blends fusion and rock and film music. It's a wonderful album. Make it the soundtrack to some evening's adventures this summer.

Follow Aurelio Valle on his official website or on his Facebook page.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How Have I Slept On The Archie Bronson Outfit For So Long? A Quick Review Of Wild Crush

It was during "In White Relief" that I felt stupid for missing out on the Archie Bronson Outfit until now. The song sounds like a drunk John Lennon trying to quickly learn how to sing some New York Dolls B-Side. It's a mess but a glorious, clanging one.

Wild Crush is the new record from the Archie Bronson Outfit and it's out now on Domino. It's a record that recalls obscure artists (Epic Soundtracks on "Love To Pin You Down") and more legendary ones (the David Bowie conjuring "Lori From The Outer Reaches" with its "Five Years" percussion). The album has a scattershot energy that gives the proceedings a sense of combustibility even if the group manages to hold things together and charge ever forward.

"Cluster Up And Hover" melds Bolan and Cave into a desperate rave-out while the gloriously titled "Hunch Your Body, Love Somebody" channels both Byrne's Talking Heads and Daniel Johnston. What a deranged and fabulous racket!

Album closer "Country Miles" weds the Stones of Beggars Banquet to the Beta Band. More focused than the Betas, the cut has a ramshackle charm that soothes and tempers down the fiery riot of the rest of the record. It's the perfect way to end Wild Crush.

The Archie Bronson Outfit get points for cramming a ton of stuff into a concise 32-minute album. Where other bands would let this type of music go off the rails, these cats keep things together. Nothing meanders for too long and the bits that stomp-and-rock do so with a sense of urgency. Wild Crush is like a slap in the face from a beer-soaked hand. It's rough, dangerous, warm, and human. In an age of so much junk, music this genuine deserves praise and attention.

Follow along on the official Archie Bronson Outfit website.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What's That Sound? It's Hard Left (Mike From Slumberland Records)

More than 20 years ago in the D.C. suburbs, it seemed as if Slumberland Records, and the guys and gals from the bands associated with that label, were providing an alternative to the sound that some would say defined D.C. music. For every shout-y Dischord band in the area, there was probably at least one crew of college kids somewhere in College Park or Silver Spring picking up guitars and trying to learn riffs from records from The Pastels and The Clean.

So now what? Mike Schulman from Slumberland Records has gone and gotten himself a harDCore band?

Almost. Hard Left is a new project and it sounds A LOT like Youth Brigade and other Dischord legends. It's fab. And you can play it and buy it below.

If you're in San Francisco, you can catch Hard Left sharing a bill with Imaginary Pants (Rose from The Softies), and The How at the San Francisco Popfest.

The Hard Left Facebook page is here In the meantime, crank this up.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

These Could Be The Best Days Of Our Lives: The 20th Anniversary 3-CD Edition of Definitely Maybe Is Out Now

Dear God, it's been 20 years since "Digsy's Diner"!

Back then, that tune was thought of as a "throwaway track" from Definitely Maybe but, hey, it gave me a good title for this blog post, eh?

I'm here to tell you that the first album by Oasis has been reissued in a deluxe 3-CD set. Details on that are here.

If you don't already have and love this record, then nothing I can write can make that happen for you. And if you don't like Oasis, then I really have nothing more to say.

That said, I didn't necessarily buy the hype either back in 1994. You have to remember that Creation Records meant one sort of thing prior to Oasis. In fact, "Supersonic" was downright shocking to me when I first heard it. Somehow I couldn't wrap my head around how these Manc thugs were on the same label as My Bloody Valentine. Decidedly un-jangle-y, Oasis were rough and full of big tunes. They were not shoegazers or guys trying to dress like Lou Reed in the Velvet Underground. They raved about the Beatles in interviews and roared like Slade in the hooks of the songs. They were decidedly populist.

And they were magnificent.

I'm not going to be all revisionist here and say how much I loved Definitely Maybe when it came out. I saw the posters up at Vinyl Ink in Silver Spring where I'd used to go to buy Creation Records import CD singles. This was in the era when guys from Slumberland Records bands -- and head honcho Mike Schulman -- still worked there from time to time.

The Oasis posters didn't do it for me. Nothing in the imagery made me want to hear the band. When I finally heard Definitely Maybe I liked stuff like "Up in the Sky" and "Cigarettes & Alcohol" more than other tracks on the record...more than all the other tracks but one.

As that overwhelming British music press hype rolled on in 1994, I had to stop and admit that "Live Forever" was a heart-stoppingly magnificent single. It was a slice of genius. Whoever this lout singing was, he was un-loutish enough to pause mid-swagger to think of his own mortality. And that mix of bravado and introspection is something that few others could master like Oasis did on these early cuts and it's the reason why that song remains one of my favorite singles of all time even now, 20 years after the release of Definitely Maybe.

So what's here? The full album is on Disc 1. The B-Sides, many of them fantastic and familiar, and "Whatever" are on Disc 2. And Disc 3 is where the rarities are.

There's the Charlatans-like "Cloudburst" (demo) and the rare "Strange Thing" (demo) which sounds remarkably like some odd combo of Soup Dragons (baggy era, not C86-era) and Teenage Fanclub. A fave of mine is the raw and fuzzy demo of "Fade Away", the blueprint for everything Gem Archer tried to do in Heavy Stereo before joined Oasis.

So should you buy this album again? Do you need another version of Definitely Maybe and all those B-sides in your collection again? Is Disc 3 really so good that you need to buy this set?

Well here's what's on Disc 3 (from the press materials about this set):

*Previously unheard live acoustic versions of "Live Forever" and "Shakermaker" from a Paris in-store gig around the time of the release of Definitely Maybe
*"Half The World Away" (Live, Tokyo Hotel Room) -- an early and intimate version of this Oasis classic, recorded in Noel’s Gallagher’s hotel room in Toyko in 1994 by Mark Coyle
*"Strange Thing" (Demo) from the Original 1993 Demos cassette
*"Sad Song" (Live at Manchester Academy) a previously unheard recording
*"Whatever" (Strings) recorded on a portable cassette machine at Maison Rouge Studios by Mark Coyle

So there's loads of stuff here that will provide some additional pleasures to any fan of this classic record. For Oasis were the whole package. If you only know the album cuts, you only know half the band's best stuff. Those B-Sides are exceptional and even their Demos are good. I tend to think that Liam's vocals are a large part of the success that Oasis achieved but, really, it's the genius of Noel Gallagher that is here on this 3-disc anniversary edition of Definitely Maybe. The B-Sides and Demos reveal that.

More details on the official Oasis website:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

In Which The Swans Ask If Too Much Is Enough: A Review Of To Be Kind

I started listening to Swans seriously in 1987 or so. I had dropped out of Bible college twice so Children of God appealed to me. I couldn't figure out if the religious lyrics were Michael Gira being a snotty NYC punk, his words meant ironically, or if they were the cries of a lost soul in an empty universe? The record sounded like both, actually.

Jarboe was a huge part of the appeal of Swans to me but she's gone now. She eased me into this sort of music and gave me a sort of bridge to the work of Michael Gira. After disbanding the group and then reforming it a few years ago before the release of The Seer, he is one of music's true visionaries. It's just taken most people 25 years to see that. Part Nick Cave, park Stockhausen, he's on another wavelength entirely.

To Be Kind is more than 2 hours long with 1 song that is 34 minutes long. Scared yet?

I was. It's a heavy record. Not always oppressive, this is serious music that remains direct, immediate, and accessible. There's no higher praise I can give To Be Kind than that.

"A Little God In My Hands" struts in like a Bad Seeds song with Gira all Nick Cave in his delivery. Still, there's something high art about Swans. Nick Cave mines the same territory but he seems to have some trace of the legacy of the blues and garage rock nearby at all times. Gira is stripping rock back into its most primal shape. It's what the Stooges would have sounded like if they had gone to art school.

From the 17 minutes of "She Loves Us!" with its surging and pulsing musical undercurrent to the deranged-but-channeled rage of "Oxygen", To Be Kind demands a listener's full attention. If it is not necessarily easy music to enjoy, it's music that is relatively straightforward and easy to appreciate.

Whatever dark emotions these tunes may unleash, they also reward a fan who pays attention with his or her mind. This music -- and I say it like that 'cause this is a form unlike any other -- is sure to stir the intellect of anyone within earshot...and I dare say that that could be many people if you crank these tunes up too loud.

The final moments of "Screen Shot" will surely get your neighbors pounding on the walls and the crescendo of "Kirsten Supine" will then get the cops at your door.

Whatever lightness -- Ha! -- Gira and co. lost with the departure of Jarboe, they have regained by relying on melody. I don't mean to imply that the Swans are going all McCartney on us but that the songs have melodies. If the Swans from 1987 relied on power -- the fist of "New Mind" -- then now they are relying on creating tunes that they can coat in musical treatments and instrumental touches that produce the desired measure of awe in the listener.

There are hints of Throbbing Gristle and even Non here -- the 34-minute "Bring The Sun / Touissant L'Ouverture" -- but Gira is, I think, trying to reach a wider audience then those guys. Uniquely full of emotion, these "songs" also aim for something higher, some spiritual understanding of the void...or a simple scream into it.

To Be Kind is out now on Young God Records. I urge you to get the album and give it your full attention.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Delightful Video Of Withered Hand: Horseshoe Live In Wales

I have to say that this is one of the best songs I've heard in ages, maybe even since the songwriting partnership of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan was ended by the death of Mr. McLennan.

This is, of course, Withered Hand and the track is the happy/sad "Horseshoe" from the fantastic New Gods album out now on Slumberland Records.

I urge you to get the record ASAP.

And, yes, that is Pam Berry of Black Tambourine, Glo-Worm, and The Pines providing vocals in this video from the most recent Wales Goes Pop! festival.

Follow Withered Hand guessed it! or Slumberland Records.

Free EP From Imaginary Pants (Rose Melberg From The Softies, Tiger Trap)

What a treat!

Here's a free EP you can get from Imaginary Pants (Rose and Jon). Rose is, of course, Rose Melberg from The Softies, Tiger Trap, and Go Sailor.

(And I'll let you in on a little secret, most of the releases in their discography are free downloads on their Bandcamp page!)

This is good stuff, full of light and melody and hooks. "Creaking Gates" positively soars, Rose's and Jon's vocal harmonies carrying the tune forward.

After you download this stuff, head over to their official website and then check out their Facebook page.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

La Sera Releases Hour Of The Dawn: A Review Of The New Record

La Sera is back with her new record, Hour Of The Dawn, out this week on Hardly Art. Hard to believe that it's been 2 years since Sees The Light, isn't it? Well it's okay 'cause Hour Of The Dawn may be even more hook-filled than that other album.

Things kick off strong with "Losing To The Dark" and that leads into the absolutely wonderful "Summer Of Love" which sounds like Pam Berry of Black Tambourine and Glo-Worm fronting The Primitives. In other words, it's the stuff that the cool kids dream about. It's that mix of indie and robust tunefulness that makes the song-craft of La Sera stand head and shoulders above many of her peers.

Her quote -- that she wanted to make a record that sounded like "Lesley Gore fronting Black Flag" -- sounds like a wild idea but the charms of Hour Of The Dawn are neither Brill Building songwriting nor classic SST punk. No, Katy Goodman, the woman behind all this, has a gift for making concise, hook-y, pop songs that shoot by in a rush of melody and noise. Closer to The Primitives, Velocity Girl, and Juliana Hatfield, the tunes of La Sera are things of postpunk joy. "All Of My Love Is For You" and the title cut whirl and crackle on guitar licks and smooth vocals, equal parts the work of the third (?) generation of singers and bands to follow the lead of those C86 acts but also the work of a front-person and band-leader with an ear to an even earlier generation of singers and songwriters with hints of Joni and Ronstadt poking through the fuzz.

Guitarist Todd Wisenbaker and the rest of the new band she assembled for this record deserve some of the credit too. There are moments here -- like on "Kiss This Town Away" -- that echo the best moments of classic Bangles and Smithereens cuts.

It's not to say that La Sera is choosing from too many influences but rather that she and her bandmates have cherry-picked the very choicest of rock predecessors to draw their inspiration from.

Hour Of The Dawn is out Tuesday, May 13, on Hardly Art.

Follow La Sera on her Facebook page:

And if you missed when I posted it before, download "Losing To The Dark" below.

Dig Some New Tunes From Brooklyn's The New Lines Here

I started listening to The New Lines due to the fact that they have Davis White from Lorelei as their drummer...but I don't think that this track has Davis on it.

This "theme from rudy faust poetry podcast" -- maybe not the official title but looks very Durutti Column-esque written that way, doesn't it? -- is a sketch that percolates and has a fair amount of melody for something that seems this ephemeral. Jazzy, nearly Jobim-ish, and with a faint hint of something beat era -- think Left Banke or something -- this tune captivated me.

And here's another track which you can download.

Follow The New Lines on their Facebook page

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Play 3 Rare Slant 6 Demos Here!

I've rambled on about how I avoided Dischord for years and how Rich from The Now played "Waiting Room" for me and how I was then a fan of the label. That's all true but the first band I really and truly loved on Dischord was Slant 6.

I think I heard the Slant 6 albums way before I knew that Christina Billotte was in Autoclave with Helium's Mary Timony. But when I learned that in 1994 or so, I clutched my copy of Helium's Pirate Prude EP and everything in the world made perfect sense.

Anyway, I don't know who "recordstorekid" is but thanks to this Portland-based person for uploading 3 righteous demos from Slant 6. That version of "What Kind Of Monster Are You?" roars like Joan Jett and Patti Smith doing a Stooges tune.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dot Dash Have Got 2 Great Shows Lined Up This Week, You Lucky D.C. Area People!

My best friend Mike took that pic. When the boys in Dot Dash -- Terry Banks (St. Christopher, Tree Fort Angst, Glo-Worm, Julie Ocean), Hunter Bennett (Julie Ocean), Steve Hansgen (Minor Threat, Emma Peel), and Danny Ingram (Youth Brigade, Strange Boutique, Swervedriver, Emma Peel) -- opened for the Psychedelic Furs. Yep. Another colossal Dot Dash opening gig missed.

I'm going to need to add 2 more shows to that list 'cause Dot Dash are opening for Matt Pond PA and Drivin' N' Cryin' this week.

Details of the Matt Pond PA gig are here.

Details of the Drivin' N' Cryin' gig are here.

As always, check out the Dot Dash Facebook page here and remember to check out their home label too:

I'm highlighting "Fiction Section" today 'cause it came up on my iPod recently between Aztec Camera and Style Council and it sounded even better than it did on their last album, the nearly-perfect Half-Remembered Dream.

Download New Tune From Glasgow's Deathcats Here!

Following on from that split release with Manchester's Fruit Tones, Glasgow's Deathcats have been busy. They've recorded a new track and you can download it here.

"Saturday Night Golden Retreiver" is surging and ramshackle. It's a nod to C86-era groups and more modern (and more American) bands.

Follow Deathcats on their Facebook page and head over to their Soundcloud page for more tunes to enjoy.

Download New Cut From D.C.'s Heavy Breathing Here

I knew nothing about D.C.'s Heavy Breathing when I saw them open for Prince Rama in December 2012 but I soon knew that they rocked. Their drummer is a force of dark power. The dude is a sinister, malevolent beast on those skins. I could watch him create a racket all day.

Here's a fairly recent Heavy Breathing track for you all but, heck, you should really head over to their Soundcloud page 'cause they've got lots of tunes that are available to download for free.

Here's the fairly recent "Hold Tight" and check out their Facebook page too.