Saturday, 30 January 2010

Money doesn't mean much to the Shermans

I have been listening to a Sarah Records compilation lately, and so British minded indie pop has been on my mind. The Shermans are an excellent little group from Sweden that has released a few records on Shelflife Records that owe a great deal to the prolific London based label. They formed in December 1997, and were initially made up of Mikael Matsson and Torbjorn Thorsen; vocalist Ingela Karlsson came along a big later after a previous member left the band to join Aerospace. Clean and crisp hooks with pleasing female vocals was their forte, and while their sound has been milked by countless bands over the last few decades, they put together a great number of pop jingles that would compliment any record collection.

Download some of their mp3s for free.

(Adulthood for Beginners from "Happiness is Toy Shaped")

(Lousy Judge of Character from "Happiness is Toy Shaped")

Friday, 29 January 2010

Agnostic Front: Victim in Pain EP (1984)

This one is a classic and played a major role in setting off the NYC hardcore scene. Roger Miret on vocals, Vinnie Stigma on guitar, Rob Kabula on bass and Dave Jones on drums. A lot of people outside of NY thought they were racist skins but Agnostic Front always had a solid American working-class ethic:

"United and Strong, Blacks and Whites. United and Strong, Punks and Skins. United and Strong for everyone. UNITED AND STRONG!"

The o.g line up of AF from "Victim in Pain" are playing in Brooklyn a couple of weeks from today and I am torn about attending. On the one hand, this will be an incredible show but I don't know if I have the gumption or nerve to slam. Wifey says just hang out in the back and lay low. But that sort of timidness does not compute.

Track List
1. Victim In Pain
2. Remind Them
3. Blind Justice
4. Last Warning
5. United & Strong
6. Power
7. Hiding Inside
8. Fascist Attitude
9. Society Sucker
10. Your Mistake
11. With Time

Agnostic Front: Blind Justice

Agnostic Front: United and Strong

Agnostic Front: Fascist Attitude

Monday, 25 January 2010

City of Satellites: They built their city on dreamscapes of pop.

Australian based duo City of Satellites is a band that wears their influences on their sleeves, yet they don't get caught up in the trappings that many 'throwback' bands do. Often these bands get stuck on the idea that they have to follow the rigid formula that they see in their genre of choice, but City of Satellites take ideas from what once was and blend them together to create beautiful songs that form one amazingly tight and cohesive album. Built on a foundation of shoegaze fuzz and synth pop charm with splashes of IDM beats and sweet, soothing vocals, "Machine is My Animal" never disappoints and comes highly recommended by this fair listener.

City of Satellites - Victor! Burn City Lights (from "Machine is My Animal")

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Negative Trend "We Don't Play, We Riot" EP (1978)

I was generally more into Southern Cal punk than the Nor Cal scene. Perhaps it was just a fact of where I grew up. But when I heard Negative Trend on KCSB, I was hooked. Tracked down their single and was not disappointed. Mikal Roberts was the vocalist. Bassist Will Shatter and drummer Steve DePace would later go on to found Flipper and guitarist Craig Cray started the Toiling Midgets.

Song List:
1) Mercenaries
2) Meat House
3) Black and Red
4) How Ya' Feelin'

Mercenaries is a classic, non-pc, punk tune.

Download the EP here.

Negative Trend: Mercenaries

Saturday, 23 January 2010

What appears to be wholesome fun with Paean

Paean is a band from Colorado that looks like a lot of fun to be involved with. Just look at that picture; I bet they have potluck dinners and then bust out matching accordions for a rousing family sing along. And I am pretty sure they never get into fist fights or throw up due to a heroin overdose in their friend’s bathroom. They simply look too nice for all of that.

They also happen to sound great as a band. I am sure they get the comparison a lot, but they seem to have taken a page or two from the Arcade Fire and other orchestral minded groups. They have a full length coming out in a few months called "Songs For Us To Sing” on Act So Big Forest records, but in the meantime you can download an EP of theirs for free here.

(Empty Course from "Paean EP")

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Norfolk and Western: M Ward and The Decemberists got famous, they didn't.

Portland, Oregon in the early 2000s must have been fun. Seems like some of the greats of the nuevo-folk-Americana music scene were just getting their start there. I stumbled on Norfolk and Western around the same time The Decemberists and M Ward were just getting some major recognition (in the indie world I suppose), and I thought it was great to have 3 wonderful bands from the same scene all getting their well deserved breaks on a national level. Yet I feel that Norfolk and Western got left behind, whether by their own choosing or because of bad luck, I don't know.

They have a bit more of an old school country flair to their sound when compared to the other acts listed, and don't really have any barn burners of songs, but Adam Selzer has a beautiful voice and their musicianship is rock solid so I highly recommend checking out a great band to sit and unwind to. It's hard to pick a few songs from a band that has a pretty large back catalog, but I'll do my best!

Norfolk and Western - Disappear (from "Dusk in Cold Parlours")
Norfolk and Western - All the Towns Near Boston (from "Winter Farewell")

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Stop the Press: Restiform Bodies Make Music

When I left Northern California a few years back, I was pretty tired of the area. Sure, it’s beautiful and the climate is pleasant, but we had grown apart culturally and I was looking to try my hand at living elsewhere in the United States and the world at large. My world view had altered slightly which ended up breaking a number of relationships I had with friends and comrades, and I needed a new local to get my head back on straight. But one thing I missed almost immediately upon leaving Nor-Cal was the music scene, which continues to be great.

The alternative hip-hop label Anticon is a staple of the Bay Area music community, and has made a home for a number of great groups like Why? and cLOUDDEAD. I recently picked up Restiform Bodies 2008 release “TV Loves You Back,” which mixes glitch sample based pop jams with avant hip-hop sensibilities. Yea, that sounds like a lot of bullshit, but that’s the best I can come up with. I don’t get a big fat paycheck to come up with ways to describe this stuff, you should just check it out for yourself and file it where you see fit.

(Opulent Soul from "TV Loves You Back")

Friday, 15 January 2010

Leafes - Yes google, I mean Leafes.

Here's what I know about the Leafes (and all you really need to know too):

1. They're Swedish
2. They release very limited amounts of each of their releases (on cd-r or cassette)
3. They're great.

Really, #3 is the most important thing. I implore everyone to go to their page and download the one album you'll probably only be able to find of theirs. They're lo-fi acoustic pop, with surprisingly solid English lyrics, and have a touch of electronic noise swirling in the background to give a bit of depth to their songs. If you want to impress your hipster friends, you can buy the album here and get one of their cassettes there.

Leafes - Leafes Howls With the Wolfs (from "In the Mountain's Belly")

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Excel: Split Image LP (1987)

Excel --Dan Clements on vocals, Adam Siegel on guitar, Sean Ross on bass, and Greg Saenz on drums--were thrashers from Venice, CA with a definite Suicidal Tendencies influence. They were fast but they played with an intricacy uncommon to hardcore at the time. I'm not talking about the ludicrous arpeggios of so many speed-metal bands of the late 1980s but a seriously heavy groove.

I had the chance to see these dudes many times across the south land. Depending on the location, things could get out of control. It wasn't the band's fault, but you occasionally had knuckle-heads showing up to get into fights. One time I went to see them at Fender's in Long Beach with Blast, RKL and the Exploited. A bunch of Nazi skinheads* charged in and started sieg heiling. A few seconds later the Suicidals in the place tossed them out. I think someone ended up getting stabbed and shit.

Footage of the show available here but the audio quality is crap.

Song List:

1. Your Life, My Life 03:15

2. Insecurity 02:10

3. Split Image 05:10

4. Never Look Away 03:40

5. Wreck Your World 02:54

6. Social Security 03:35

7. Set Yourself Apart 02:22

8. The Joke's On You 02:45

9. Looking for You 02:58

10. Spare the Pain 05:13

Download here.

Excel: Your Life, My Life

Excel: Never Look Away

Excel: The Joke's on You

*I know there are cool skins. I had friends who were down with Suicidal as well as those who were skinheads and I can remember many skins having my back and picking me up in the pit, so no hate mail please.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Hard Psychedelic with Cave

Psychedelic music didn’t catch my interest until 2002 or so when I saw Comets on Fire for the first time at a house show in Santa Cruz. I had friends growing up who were dedicated Roger Waters fans, but the pace of the music wasn’t my idea of a good time when I was a teenager, and I had generally associated the ex-Pink Floyd front man with the style as a whole. So hearing bands apply the psychedelic ethos to more aggressive music was exciting to experience, and there have been an ample number of groups in recent years putting out records in this fashion.

Cave is one of those bands. These are not chill out tunes to sit back and smoke pot too, but full on rock attacks. They have a full length out on the excellent experimental label Important Records (who release Acid Mothers Temple and Merzbow records here in America). The following tracks are from their 2009 release, “Psychic Psummer” which was one of my favorite records last year. You can download mp3s for free here.

("Gamm" from Psychic Psummer)

("Requiem for John Sex" from Psychic Psummer)

Friday, 8 January 2010

Sonic Youth: Avant noise rockers still rocking.

I had the joyous pleasure of seeing Sonic Youth last night here in San Diego so I thought I'd share two songs from this tremendous band who still kicks a lot of ass after all these years. Whether you call it "no wave," "noise," "experimental," or "proto-punk;" the music Sonic Youth creates is undeniably original and refreshing, even as they approach 30 years of releases. The first album I heard of theirs was "Bad Moon Rising." Consisting of a more sparse approach to noise, the album marks a transition between their start up as a band and finding their own voice on the avant noise scene. And since the concert last night consisted mostly of new songs from their latest release "The Eternal," I thought I'd include my favorite track from an album that shows how the band has matured and reigned in their spastic youthful energy.

Sonic Youth - Society is a Hole (from "Bad Moon Rising")
Sonic Youth - Antenna (from "The Eternal")

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Spanish Songstress Ainara Legardon

Ainara Legardon is a musician from Spain that played for the band Onion before coming to prominence as a solo performer. She has recorded two records with the help of notable musicians from around Europe, who have helped bring her melancholy vocals to life. I learned of her recently, when she toured with Bonnie “Prince” Billy around Europe, and was lucky enough to get a copy of her excellent “Each Day a Lie Record” which was released in 2006. She has just released a new record titled "Forgive me if I don't come home to sleep tonight" which I have yet to hear.

(“Hope Defeated” from Each Day a Lie)

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Felix: You Are the One I Pick

From Nottingham and signed to Kranky, the duo of Lucinda Chua and Chris Summerlin known as Felix create low key and minimalist chamber pop. A classically trained musician, Chua is the main focus of the album. She sets the tone with her semi-nonsensical ramblish lyrics delivered in a soothing quiet lilt over her sparse piano and string arrangements. Summerlin's guitar work is definitely meant more as a side dish to the main course of Chua. He's not necessarily filler, but there just to brighten up the songs occasionally. Together they created a fascinatingly relaxing album that you can pick up here.

Felix - Death to Everyone But Us (from "You Are the One I Pick")
Felix - Back in Style (from "You Are the One I Pick")

Monday, 4 January 2010

Dr. Know: Plus in Jesus LP (1984)

Dr. Know were the darkest of the Nardcore bands with a heavy emphasis on violent themes of destruction, doom and impending death. They had a metal-tinged thrash sound but we just considered them hardcore punk rock at the time.

This LP provides a great glimpse into what the Nardcore scene was like in the mid-198s0s. Hardcore punk, but heavier. It wasn't as urban as Black Flag or the Circle Jerks--Oxnard is a strawberry-picking town on the coast--but these dudes knew how to throw down. The pits for these shows were so vibrant and energetic. It wasn't mosh. It was non-stop slamming.

Their logo (below) was designed by Jaime Hernandez. He was already a well-known illustrator in the underground comics scene at the time. He also did the artwork for Stalag 13 and Agression.

After "Plug in Jesus" they released the "Burn" 7" EP (1985), an LP that contained "Burn" and some added tracks (1986), and then an LP titled "Wreckage in Flesh" (1988). As someone who could not get enough of their earlier recordings, this album was a real let down. Like so many other bands, as the 80s progressed, they changed to conform to the generic speed metal influence that had taken over. The uniqueness and individuality of the band was gone.

I know they released some more material after that, and there is band called Dr. Know that is still around today, and they play some of the old tunes, yadda, yadda, yadda. But this is the real deal. Kyle Toucher on vocals and guitar, Fred Mataquin on guitar, Ismael Hernandez on bass and on Rik Heller on drums.

Download here.

"Plug in Jesus," "Burn," and some earlier material was reissued as "The Best of Dr. Know." You can find it used pretty easily.

1.God Told Me02:29
2.Mr. Freeze03:08
3.The Intruder02:17
4.Circle of Fear03:25
5.Citizens of the World02:07
6.Life Returns03:48
8.Fist Fuck03:46

God Told Me

Citizens of the World

Life Returns

Watch it Burn

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Noisy pop from the Moon and Sixpence

Here is a 7 inch from a fine San Diego band called “The Moon and Sixpence” that was active around the late 90s. I picked this record up randomly on a trip to the city and have loved the noisy pop I found on it ever since. I couldn’t find any information on the bands previous activities, but I played a show with one of the group’s members once who was then active in the Anchors in the early 2000s. I am pretty sure this was their only release, but I can’t verify that.

You can download the record here.

They all fell for you

Anomie Naomi