Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Saturday, 29 October 2011

No Stopping Fatoumata Diawara

Mali's Fatoumata Diawara is one of those voices that should garner more respect from music aficionados. At the moment, she is picking up popularity among "world" music types, but fuck all that jazz. The "World Music" tag is a kiss of death, and for many, brings forth an image of a balding Yoga instructor who shops at Whole Foods and votes for Dennis Kucinich. Diawara's style and confidence should be enjoyed outside of that limiting genre, and the following track and video should make my case. The song is free to download, so what do you have to lose? Well, bandwidth and time, but trust me, it is still worthy of your time.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Last Years rock out in San Diego

The Last Years is a punk act made by a friend of ours. I remember going to a show with their frontman, but never making it inside the actual venue. Rather, we got wasted in the alley outside the joint, watching people fight and argue. Twas good times.

Playing fast and furious punk rock, the Last Years are one of those acts that make San Diego a place worth being.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Oakland's Mara Hruby

I came across Mara Hruby on accident: I was looking for a recent mixtape from a vocalist from Oakland, and I ended up stumbling upon Mara and her newest record. Playing cool, breezy soul music, I will definitely be on the lookout for her future releases.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Sunnies - "Complex Systems"

We used to laugh at the bad metal bands that bled through the walls of our shitty practice space in Montreal. One day, the squall was gone. In its place: The Sunnies. It was a good day.

The quintet's guitar pop is warm and unaffected -- so much that I'd wager a Fin du Monde that three of these guys grew up in the Maritimes. Though their music doesn't appear to be available for sale or download, you can jangle 'til you've had your fill with "Complex Systems," "Sisyphus" and a couple others at their Myspace.

Sitting in a smokey 1930's bar with Gregory Page

I am a schoolteacher, and while I enjoy it, it does not always put me in the best of moods at the end of the day. Dealing with disobedient children, reckless parents, and clueless administrators takes a toll on one's psyche. So while I love to bust out some Hardcore, Metal, and Noise when time permits, I occasionally just want some relaxing songs that make me feel like I am living in a Woody Allen movie. San Diego's Gregory Page does just that.

Playing jazzy lounge numbers that would have been quite at home on my grandmother's turntable, Page isn't trying to reinvent the wheel here. On his newest release, "My True Love," he has created some excellent songs however, and should be enjoyed by anyone who just likes to sit back at the end of the day with an alcoholic beverage and a comfortable space that just feels like home.

Thats You from Gregory Page on Vimeo.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Chiquita y Chatarra show what Spain is good for

This was a golden find. Rocking garage rock jams from Amelia Díaz Duarte and Patricia Àlvarez Alonso, Chiquita Y Chatarra is one of those bands that could easily fit into a previous era of music, but doesn't sound confined or restricted by misplaced nostalgia. Worth every second, and can be downloaded for free from their bandcamp site.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Go Cozy make Shoegaze Goodness

I found this Maryland band through Space Rock Mountain, and it has been a favorite of mine since then. Making mopey, reverb heavy pop songs, Go Cozy is something that should interest anyone who enjoys a well crafted mournful tune.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Dexy's Midnight Runners - "There, There, My Dear"

Birmingham's self-described "young soul rebels" were the answers to their own prayers. Dexy's Midnight Runners' second album fades in with a ponderous sequence of gauche radio hits ("Purple Haze," "Holidays In The Sun"), skipping across the dial until frontman Kevin Rowland (in the time-honored tradition of being so fed up that he can only communicate through rock and roll) commands the band to "Burn It Down."

Though it lacks the parsimony of "Radio Radio" or the verve of "Clash City Rockers," the song doubles down on that familiar sentiment. On the surface, Dexy's took themselves so seriously that they made it difficult for anyone else to do the same. From their all-band uniforms (reinvented drastically with each of their three albums) to their smash-and-grab cultural politicking (which invoked corporate rock hegemony and the Northern Irish "Troubles" in the same breath), the group didn't just court their own mythology--they fabricated it. And, for the most part, Dexy's did it well. Their cool was anything but effortless (as the press photo above shows), but it worked, both at face value and as commentary on identity performance.

The band's tendency toward pastiche occasionally hampered the songs, which rarely veered from the sound of Northern Soul on amphetamines (less a rhetorical turn of phrase than a description of the scene), but Rowland could write a chorus, and the band had two number-one hits in the UK to show for it. 

For bonus reading, McSweeney's sums it all up a lot quicker. 

"There, There, My Dear" from Searching For The Young Soul Rebels (1980)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A summer with Gorky’s – Middle Period

Gorky’s was a pretty prolific Welsh band that put out a slew of singles, EPs, and full lengths in their history. One of my favorite records came from what I call their “middle period”, when they moved away from the psychedelic extremities of the pop scene and started to play more traditional poppy music. Spanish Dance Troupe was released by Mantra Records in 1999, and saw the band refine their sound to a significant degree. The first single provided here, “Poodle Rockin’” still has the noise and chaos of the early records, but the record was really the voice of a band coming to terms with their more mature stage in their career. The second song here, which the title of the record is taken from, is one of the best British pop songs of the 90s. Doubt me? Well, see for yourself and get ready to be schooled.

Poodle Rockin'

Spanish Dance Troupe

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Drunken Draculas get drunk

Steven Nunez and I play in a band called The Drunken Draculas, and we have a recording diary going at the moment. you can check it out here, and proper songs will be up shortly.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Summer Sun and Coralie Clement

Coralie Clement plays that hip, French café music that every American Francoph is sure to appreciate. She has released a slew of records over the last 7 years, but her first is still my favorite. Sounding like a recent Woody Allen soundtrack, with a laidback and untailored lyrical approach, Coralie is worth a spin on an afternoon drinking wine and enjoying the sunny weather.

Here is a video from said record.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A summer with Gorky’s - Early Singles

With this being the summer of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, here are two tracks from the band's early period. As is the case with most of their early material, they are mostly in Welsh and have that psychedelic playfulness that is all in vogue these days.

Both of these songs can be found on a recent retrospective from the group, “20: Singles & EPs 94-96” released by Sanctuary Records but originally released in limited quantities on the Welsh label Ankst. You can buy it here, and download some of their early songs here.

(Merched Yn Neud Gwallt Ei Gilydd)

(Bocs Angelica)

And a video for "Merched...". Feel the early 90s British psychedelic pop!

Vasquez: Instrumental Scottish Tech. Rock

Most of the time, I'm a pop grinch -- unless it has three verses, a refrain, and a key change for the final chorus, I'm all but legally obliged to stay 500 feet away*. Vazquez are the kind of band that make me feel like the Grinch at end of the story, though, when his heart grows three sizes bigger and he wonders if there's room for technical rock in there, too. The Edinburgh three-piece's self-titled EP conjures up powerful-sounding metaphors: a particle collider, where hooks appear and vanish in milliseconds, or a subterfuge that churns a flood of sound into melodic lines. Mixed metaphors aside, these songs are dense but approachable, and schizophrenic in a way that rewards multiple listens.

*Which makes me more of a pop sex offender. 

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Ital Tek - Babel

A great new video form Planet Mu's Ital Tek.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Valleymakers: Gorgeous Chamber Folk or Why Every Day Is Canada Day

It's OK to be jealous that they thought of a better band name than you, but be happy that they're putting it to good use. Valleymakers' self-titled EP is gorgeous and knows it. And, for all of the bands that come out of Montreal, they turn the lineage into something meaningful: Leonard Cohen's close-to-God sparseness gives way to lush, quietly cathartic orchestration. The best argument I've heard for virtuousity in a long time.

"It's My Body In The Tree You're Tearing" from Valleymakers EP, available to stream and purchase here.

Best Coast - Gone Again

A new track from Best Coast, with a free download here.

A summer with Gorky’s - Ffa Coffi Pawb

I have been on a Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci kick as of late, the Welsh psych/folk/pop group that was active in the the 90s and early 20002, and thought I would share some of the band's music as well as the precursors and projects that came about after the group's breakup.

The first up is Ffa Coffi Pawb (pronounced "Fuck off everyone" in English, but translates to the much more family friendly "Everybody's Coffee Beans") is an early super-group of sorts. Some of its members would go onto form Super Furry Animals, while Rhodri Puw would join an early version of Gorky's.

The band released a retrospective in 2004 that is readily available to buy and download, and has most of their best songs.

Gafael Yn Dynn

Breichiau Hir

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Clout: All Girl South African Power Pop

Clout were a South African girl group best-known for their cover of the Righteous Brothers' album track "Substitute" in 1978. Their take is punchier and more dynamic than the original, with some neat piano flourishes. It went to #1 in South Africa and Europe but would have fit in nicely on American 70s AM radio, as well. The power pop sheen turns the song's hook into a wry, unromantic come on: "If she doesn't come back / I'll be your substitute / Whenever you want me."

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Indochine: The New French New Wave

I heard the Parisian new wave band Indochine in a record store in Montreal a few years ago and bought their album off the turntable. The Francophone store owner gave me a dirty look for not knowing the group, which was probably justified. Indochine are not "growers" -- their music is immediate to the extent that listening to an entire album can be exhausting. Taken a few songs at a time, though, it's exhilarating. Cheesy new wave textures from both sides of the Atlantic (think synth horns AND surf rock guitars) gel into something addictive and improbably well-crafted.

"L'aventurier" from "L'aventurier" (1982)

"Canary Bay" from "3" (1985)

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Sexies - Start Fights!

Some friends of mine from way down on the California/Mexico border, playing trashy garage rock. Recorded sometime in 2005/06. They have long since disbanded, but this record is free to download here.

(OMG....The Whips!)

UPDATE: Audio fixed.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Hidden Shoal Turns 5, and Rich Bennett

Hidden Shoal Recordings from Australia, a favorite around these parts, recently celebrated their fifth year anniversary. Today's market is not friendly to any record label, but for a small indie like HSR to last this long is a crowning achievement they should celebrate. To commemorate this monumental occasion, they have released a free sampler that provide you with enough incentive to support these folks and all the things they do for independent music down-under.

While he isn't an Aussie, I have been enjoying Rich Bennett's Hidden Shoal release, which is an instrumental concept record. Lush, and in keeping with the Shoegaze perspective his label has championed. Check out the following track, and throw a few bucks HSR's way.

(Aisle 2: Entrance)

90s Psych Folks with Damien Youth

Damien Youth was an elusive figure in the 90s, popping out limited cassette tapes with little in the way personal information. He picked up some more attention in 1998 when his "Bride of the Asylum" got some significant distribution.

He has been making a lot of his material available via Bandcamp, and is well worth it for those who like Robyn Hithcock psychedelic folk music. The following tracks are free and available on Damien's site.

("Gently Johnny")

("Waterloo Sunset" [Kinks Cover])

Friday, 17 June 2011

Nope, it's not Ride, it's the Ropers!

The Ropers were one of the many Shoegaze/Dream Pop bands to come out of the early 90s, but unlike My Bloody Valentine and Ride (a band they clearly borrow a great deal from), these lads came out of Baltimore. Doug Bailey and Mike Hammel were the key drivers behind the group, and were students at the University of Maryland when the short lived British Shoegaze movement roared across college campuses. They put out a few records and then called it quits, and here is a free download to one of their better songs.

("I don't mind")

Space Hip-Hop from Steve Spacek

Steve Spacek cut his teeth releasing records with his London based band Spacek, but he eventually packed his bags and headed to LA and put out one of the best records of 2005. “Space Shift” was arguably an r&b/Hip-Hop record, but its freaked out and disjointed approach placed it just outside popular radio's grasp. It was championed by folks like Mos Def and Shafiq Husayn, and crossed over into more than one musical community. A truly awesome record, and here are two tracks to prove it.

("Dollar" - fet. Jay Dilla)


Thursday, 2 June 2011

Chris Isaak - Baja Sessions

Everyone knows the Chris Isaak hit from the 90s titled Wicked Game. A beautiful, sun-drenched song that played well to a David Lynch film, and featured the beautiful and seductive Helena Christensen. But Isaak has had plenty of great records that unfortunately did not earn the respect they deserved. His Baja Sessions was one of those records that deserved more attention than it earned in its day. Recorded on tour and in-between sets, this collection of songs best encapsulates the surf-heavy focus of Isaak's music, and presents some of his best work that deserve your attention today. Allmusic has this to say about the record:

"Returning to the calmer but still potent romantic angst and celebration familiar from his earlier records, Isaak and his core band, with new recruit Hershel Yatovitz on lead guitar, tackle a slew of cover songs, some re-recordings of older material and a few new songs as well. It's a much more relaxed outing in comparison to his previous work, by no means raw or rough, though -- Erik Jacobsen, Isaak's producer from start to end, or so it seems, keeps the focused, sweet sadness of Isaak's singing and music as pure as one could ever want it. The emphasis is on mostly acoustic performances with soft drumming from Johnson, usually with brushes. The calm, gentle flow of the band's work here means the new versions of older Isaak cuts like "Back On Your Side" and "Two Hearts" sound especially lovely, having a serene, relaxed sparkle to them.

Pretty Girls Don't Cry

Back on Your Side

Castle Oldchair becomes Japatucky

It is always good to hear from folks involved with the music we post here. We had a post focusing on Castle Oldchair some time ago, and we were blessed with info about the frontman's current projects. He has apparently been playing with the Indiana group known as Japatucky, and we have some of there music bellow as well as places you can download it for yourself.


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Sinforiano Diaz and some pretty acoustic music

Sinforiano Diaz is a solo project from Thomas Diaz and is reminiscent of the layered acoustic sounds I grew accustomed to while living in Connecticut. I guess this record was never officially released, but has had legs in the internet realm since its recording three years ago. Mixed Vegetablez has a copy of the record to download for free.


Theme from the Tracks

Algernon Cadwallader will Twinkly that shit up

A friend turned me onto these kids out of Philly, and who are just about to drop a brand new record and go out on an epic tour across the US and A. I will be checking them out in San Francisco, and you should see them when they come to a town near you. For anyone who likes Cap’n Jazz inspired bands and late 90s Emo, these guys are for you. I hear they put on a great show, and while you will be able to pick up copies of their newest record (Parrot Flies) at their shows, they were kind enough to make it available free to download.


Springing Leaks

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Wish Key - Orient Express

Summer has started around these parts, but since a good chunk of us out here are unemployed/underemployed there may not be a whole lot to celebrate. Good thing the internet exists to give us free tunes to bob our heads too.

Wish Key were an Italo Disco group fronted by Massimo Berti. I don’t know much about them, but I found one of their records in the 50 cents bin at the local record shop a week or so ago, and it was well worth the price.

Storm the Gates Riff Rawk Cassette

Ethan Miller from Howlin Rain and Comets on Fire is one of my favorite rock guitarists and front men. The first time I saw Comets on Fire at a house show in Santa Cruz in early 2003 it changed my life. I still consider it the greatest rock show I have ever attended, and the fact that it was shared by a meager 50 folks for over 3 hours didn't hurt. The psychedelic-hardcore Comets on Fire pioneered is still some of the most sonically awesome music I have ever heard, and something tells me if you picked up their recent records on Sub Pop, you would agree.

Now that I am finished gushing, Ethan has a music blog on Blogpost as well. He posts outtakes and live shows from his various bands, but has also taken to posting mix tapes and compilations of Riff Rawk that should be heard by all music aficionados. He recently posted a Galactic Zoo Dossier cassette club tape that contains “explosive rock.” He has it free to download at his blog, and I have a sample of what you can expect from this awesome compilation below.

(Stack Waddy - With One Leap Dan Was By Her Side, _Muriel_ He Breathed)

(Smile - Blag)

Monday, 30 May 2011

Swimmers Ear

I loved Tina Kaffeyah's EP that they put out last year, but it appears the band has gone on a hiatus. Sam from the group has started another band called Swimmers Ear, and they have a free cassette to download. Driving, rocking shit that should be enjoyed by anyone who likes music.

Download the cassette here.
01 Bags! Bags! Bags! Help Me! by Swimmers Ear

Boxcutter - "The Dissolve"

From the new Boxcutter record, "The Dissolve." Planet Mu has this to say about it:
"Barry Lynn has already dropped a couple of albums that looked at dubstep from fresh angles before everyone else started to do the same. This time around, on "The Dissolve", things are different, and he’s taken off in a direction that leaves dubstep behind entirely.

The title is a reference to a common video art effect, where one image gradually transitions to another. The album has an unpolished hue to it, created with keyboards, drum machine, echo and tape and sometimes even electric guitar. It sits in a world of its own, but with a stronger affinity to things like Theo Parrish's productions or hypnagogic pop than the latest fashionable electronics created on the newest software - the devil is in the details with this album, it’s rich in twists and turns."
Gets my thumbs-up.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Wye Oak loves Neil Young, as should you

Around these parts, we love Neil Young. He may be the greatest holdover from the 60s that hasn't been spoiled by mindless pop tunes and/or broad commercial success. The Wye Oak are a fine band that build on Neil's legacy and craft jams that could be heard in your local pub or hipster cafe. They construct that bridge between unlikely classes, and it is for the good of all people. That's why they should be given a prime spot in your record collection.

For Prayer

Two Wounded Birds have you by the Surf

Chances are it is snowy and cold in your neck of the woods during this time of year. For those of you who dream of Hawaiian BBQs and sun drenched reverb, Two Wounded Birds should get you through this cold-snap. Holiday Records should get your endearing love and respect for releasing this digital 7-inch.

My Lonesome