Drop Box Archive

I’m going to place the old drop box notes that I can find on this page so everyone will have access to the complete recorded history of the drop box. Stay tuned…..

For those of you who tuned in – here are the older notes that I could locate ( in reverse chronological order i.e newest first:

06.23.12

It has been a while since the last blast into the drop box. I have been hard at work on a special project, of sorts, compiling some of the best, rarest, unreleased recordings, live shows, demos and outtakes, but there has been such a rush of great new recordings that felt that project should be put on the back burner so I could get this new stuff into the drop box. I think you will find that this month’s offerings are amongst the most diverse I’ve dropped ever, and I managed to sneak in some oldies that I’ve been listening too as well. Although some of you may recognize some of these, it is always good to pull out some gems that need some dusting off and which over time have grown into some of my all time favorites.

 Alejandro Escovedo is as old as time. Okay, he’s older than I am by a few years. “Man of the World”, the first track on this record says it all – he is a man of the world. At 61, Alejandro has not slowed down and this is a great straight forward, hook laden rock record. While I am not a big believer in history, Alejandro has played in several legendary bands and has recorded an amazing wealth of amazing songs over the past 40 years. A founding member of the legendary punk rockers, the Nuns, Alejandro moved to Austin to form Rank & File (the birth of cow-punk) with the Kinman Brothers and True Believers (with his brother Javier and the Skunks, John Dee Graham). Alejandro, as much as others are credited, notably Whiskeytown, is really the founder of the alt-country genre. This record has some Springsteen touches ( see “Bottom of the World”) and is most notably, a great late night after the party record with a terrific smoky blues bar feel. Try the breathtaking ballad “Can’t Make Me Run,” “Big Station” and Bottom of the World. Sit back…and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

 Falmouth’s All The Fire also makes beautiful music. You can probably guess, that I love piano in my rock music, and this album is loaded with tunes that remind of the best parts of Fleetwood Mac (Rumors) but with its own lush feel. This record, which is not due out until October 2012, features a duo of lead vocalists, Kathryn and Rosalie who make acoustic, California pop, that should find them broad appeal when this LP is actually released. Try “Goodbye Rock and Roll,” “Fuel Fire,” and “Plan B.” Another late night record.

Keeping with the all theme, All The Young from Stoke, England, are really a left field pick for this month. This album is amazingly produced, which presents the difficulty – the production takes away from some songs that would have been better, striped of the production. This album will get lost in the shuffle because the vocals ( which are really well done) are not that distinctive. However, as I shuffle through the iTunes, I keep getting sucked into the catchy melodies and fun songs. Sure, there are influences draped all through this album, but music is supposed to be fun, and Biffy Clyro comparisons aside, take some time to discover a couple of gems – “ New Education,” “The Horizon” and “Arcane.” Hell, Morrissey likes them. That should be enough.

Last of the all bands (not named All) is Allo Darlin who hail from London but revolve around the excellent vocals of Australian Elizabeth Morris (formerly of Talulah Gosh and Tender Trap). This is pop music of the best kind, reminding me of the Breeders at times, with lush instrumentation and well thought out lyrics that bring some sense to the overall melancholy of Morris’ songs. Like the other late night records, this is a quite time listen but better served on a rainy Sunday morning. The writing here is sharp, poignant, and honors the tradition of bands like Belle and Sebastian, The Lucksmiths and the Go-Betweens, without being derivative, Try “Some People Say,” “Wonderland,” and “Still Young.

 German alt- rockers, Alpha Academy, are unlikely to get any exposure. Maybe because they are German, possibly because there is no radio exposure for this type of rock music, possibly because no one is going to know where Göttingen is located in Germany. This is anthemic rock that is catchy and relentless in sticking to the basics – verse chorus verse. Try “All Around You,” “Voice of the Voiceless” and opener “Rise and Fall.”

06/09/12

Every once in a while, I get the hunkering to listen to some live material that I’ve accumulated over the years. Well I got on that kick this week, and decided to see if I could not only bring you some interesting live releases, but also try to uncover some “holy grails” of the bootleg collecting world. The great thing about bootlegs, is that these recordings of live shows offer an insight into the band that is not captured on the studio recording. You know it when you feel it. In the numerous shows I’ve attended, the real measure of the greatness of the band was how the studio recordings were brought to life in the live setting by a band that actually cared about the performance. This month’s drop box offerings hopefully will introduce a number of you to some of my favorite bands and expose them for what there truly were – craftsman, showman, and capable of making an audience come alive. Some of these recordings are rarities in the true sense – some offering never before heard recordings, some unreleased albums that never saw the retail light of day, some that were offered only to fans through fan clubs, etc. Hopefully, you’ll find something you like, become a fan, and if the roll into town, be tempted to spend the $$ to go see them live.

Arcade Fire 2001 Demos. These demo recordings were recorded by Win Butler and Josh Deu were recorded by Arcade Fire prior to them moving to Montreal in spring 2001. What is interesting about these demos is that this is pre-orchestral instrumentation, pre- Régine Chassagne (who Butler would later marry) but shows the beginning of the elements that would turn Arcade Fire into the band that would record Suburbs. These demos are well recorded, and you can see the influences that would later creep into  Funeral and Neon Bible. “Accidents” is a beautiful ballad and is terrific, but others don’t work as well. You can hear Butler’s influences all over this record (except David Bowie who shows up on Funeral : Goodbye Boy (Neil Young), “Can’t Let Go of You” (Wilco). Best bets? Try “Winter for a Year” “Accidents” and “You Tried To Turn Away.”

05.29.12

Didn’t want to give short shrift to the releases in the dropbox this month, so here is part 2 of the notes….just in case you were wondering… hmm…does anybody wonder….

Little Trouble Kids, new release, Adventureland moves them closer to White Stripes territory without being derivative. Similarities there are some – a duo, with one guitar and a stomp box and some great harmonies. Differences – being from Ghent, Belgium and not the motor city.  There is something that definitely reminds me of the Metric – perhaps it is vocalist Eline Adam’s phrasing that reminds me of Emily Haines, but this is a pleasing noise pop record that skips along – a little dark in places, but rocks along reminding you of lost loves. Check out the Cure like rhythm on “Feed on Love,” the Ting Tings influenced “Public Appearance is Everything” and “Kids in Amusement Parks.”

Mark Ryan (good last name) is Mind Spiders and Meltdown is an album that was recorded by the Denton Texas native while on a break from his day band, the Marked Men. This record wears a wide range of influences throughout the record from Glam to Punk and everything in between. You’ll get the garage feel to the recording, which puts it in my sweet spot. We are not inventing something new on this outing, but rather, updating and mining the old with a refreshing eye. You can hear the Buzzcocks on the spectacular “On the Radio” and as he album progresses the sound of Devo creeps into the mix as synthesizer becomes more prominent. Check out “Skull Eyed” (which could be a Devo outtake) and “You Are Dead” (Check out this live show at Rubber Gloves in Denton Texas 12.31.11: http://youtu.be/jka3lPZedsw

My Bloody Valentine sparked a revolution in rock – this is the touchstone of shoegazing as a genre and the drama surrounding this release, the bands second, in 1991 is legendary. I know, that sounds like hyperbole, but given that it took 2 years to record in 19 different studios, cost in excess of 250,000 pounds, almost caused the record label, Creation, to file for bankruptcy protection, and this is essentially a one man project. Guitarist Kevin Shields played almost everything on Loveless. Generally regarded as one of the best albums of the 1990’s, it has sold remarkably poorly. So, why is it in the dropbox? It really is a great record. The songs, all recorded in mono are very simply structured, but the guitar playing is revolutionary. You can get lost in this record. Try, the hypnotic and engaging “Soon” (http://youtu.be/tvkK0mO7fXg ), “Loomer” and “To Here Knows When (http://youtu.be/7Kp6fOGBoYo ).”

Shearwater are a test. You either like this band or you do not. While this is easily their most accessible record, they are still an indie, indie band. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that there devoted audience appreciates oblique references, naturalistic themes, and a version of what is essentially chamber pop not unlike a number of early 80s bands. This is Shearwater (essentially Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff –both of whom are members of Okkervil River) 8th record and this record is a transition of sorts. Animal Joy reflects a more rock oriented approach and in parts approaches what the National are aiming to do (Check out “Dread Sovereign”). There is definitely growth since there last record (the somewhat overindulgent “The Golden Archipelago”) and the gorgeous melodies make some of the lyric content understandable and forgivable. There is “joy” on this record, so take some time to appreciate the complexity of the songs. They will stay with you. Try “You as You Were” (http://youtu.be/mBLB-_b3_Jk ) (Note: This is one weird video – I really don’t get what they were going for here. This will not sell records. Song is great though!) .“Immaculate” and the demo version of “Yearlings.”

Not everything that is French is bad. Take for example French indie rockers Stuck in the Sound. What will catch you first on Pursuit is José Reis Fontao’s unmistakable vocals – the falsetto is distinctive and not overwrought. From the opener “Brother” through the last track “Ghost” the record sonically is crisp, the melodies engaging, and exceptionally well produced. Try “Tender”, the aforementioned “Brother” ( live version here: http://youtu.be/jPGR88NArsY) and “Pursuit.” Warning: If you don’t like people who look like they are French (either Canadian or very French) then don’t watch these videos, because when I say someone looks French – this defines the look. Tender – Live Acoustic ( http://youtu.be/ATu5qJfOjhk )

Hailing from L.A., eh? The Jealous Sound has gone through some troubling times. Thought to have disbanded, the band reunited to support a reunited Sunny Day Real Estate, and due to the positive response, released in January of this year, A Gentle Reminder, their 2nd full length. They also have two pretty good EPs floating around. Most importantly, this is their first release in…wait for it…9 years! Formed by former Knapsack vocalist, Blair Shehan and guitarist Pedro Benito (formerly of Sunday’s Best) this originally emo-rock band has expanded its sound while remaining true to its strength – hook laden indie pop with simple clear melodies and song structures. There are those who will knock the consistency in the songs. However, if each song is excellent, then why complain. Good is good as they say. Opener “Beautiful Morning” is as catchy as anything out there. Try also, “Promise of the West” and “This is Where It Starts.”  Live version of “perfect Timing” is here: http://youtu.be/RBJXm4_kdE4 .

First time shout out for Scranton, Pennsylvania. The Menzingers are described as a punk rock band from this locale. However, I would refine the definition – they are essentially a street punk band that plays old school melodic punk rock that features the sing-a-longs you’ve become accustomed to from similar veined bands Rise Against, Anti-Flag and Against Me. On The Impossible Past is catchy, its punk, and although really new (less than 2 years old) they play a sophisticated form of the genre. Try “Good Things,” “Obituaries” and “Nice Things” (http://youtu.be/taVKO8BeDIw )

Another first – a band from South Africa makes the dropbox. The Parlotones are based in Johannesburg and according to their bio is the biggest thing in South Africa winning multiple awards as best rock artist. Think U2 – only bigger. Lead singer looks a little like Peter Garret (from Midnight Oil). Music is conventional hook laden pop rock with hints of folk and doo wop. You’ve likely heard their hit – “Should We Fight Back” (http://youtu.be/wukUQsZkBEU ) but Journey Through The Shadows their latest album has some excellent bits that may surpass their earlier work and actually break them in America. Try “Sweet As A Stolen Kiss,” “Save Your Best Bits” and “Freakshow.”

I have fond memories of the Primitives. “Crash” (http://youtu.be/Nl8ULWxt7sQ) from their 1988 album “Lovely” was an amazing 2:30 of pure pop heaven that never got old. So here we are, more than 20 years after their last album, releasing another pop rock gem. Echoes and Rhymes is a little enigmatic as there are no new songs on the album. This is a collection of obscure 60s songs covered, revived, and owned by original vocalist Tracy Tracy with songs lovingly re-energized by original guitarist Paul Court and drummer Tig Williams. While there is no “Crash” on this record, the songs are gorgeous. Try: “The Witch” (original artist – Adam & Eve), “Who Are You Trying to Fool” (original artist Little Ann), and “Time Slips Away” (original artist The Shocking Blue).

San Diego Indie pop duo TV Girl is Trung Ngo and Brad Petering. They have come up with an interesting idea. Let’s play terrific, smart indie pop with melodies you can actually hum (or sing) along with in the car (or at work ….quietly.). On The Wild The Innocent The TV Shuffle, the duo mines the sweet spot with  “I Wonder Who She is Kissing Now” (http://youtu.be/9raRlf3cO-8 ) which is a little like Fitz and the Tantrums – you get that laid back 50s and early 60s vibe (it’s the 60s we use vibe not feel) on these pure pop gems. Try “Misery,” “On the Fence” and “It Evaporates.” (a great Buddy Holly track not written by Buddy).

Finally, Yellow Ostrich’s Strange Land is another Brooklyn gem to make its way to the dropbox. The band is essentially Alex Schaaf, backed by drummer Michael Tapper, who has played with We Are Scientists and Bishop Allen. You are discovering them early in their career curve, but look out. They are on the hipster radar with the band already having appeared on NPR’s the Cutting Room prior to the release of this, their third record. What if you made your bedroom album, public. This has that feel with a number of the songs, at least lyrically, self-directed. Try “Marathon Runner” (http://youtu.be/paVeAaixRb8 ), “Elephant King” and “The Shakedown.”

 05.18.12

It is difficult to know where to begin with this month’s dropbox offering. So, I’ve decided to start with the likely-to-be known and then work towards the likely-to-be-unknown. Do not confuse this distinction with unpopular. Well, maybe…because almost all of these records will never make a popular chart, though some are critical darlings and for good reason – they are actually great records. The dilemma in choosing these records for inclusion is my perception of what it would be like to see these songs performed live. Would it be a cool show?

I thought that most of you would have already heard the new Norah Jones record – Little Broken Hearts, her 5th. If you were disappointed with the last record, which was 2009’s the fall, Little Broken Hearts contains what the last record did not – songs (although I concede “Come Away with Me” was a hit for a not so interesting song – see how I did that – turned a positive into a negative). Perhaps it is Dangermouse, but this record mixes what you love about Norah (her voice) with some good melodic songs. Not all of it works because in parts the “sameness” makes some songs thin, but overall, this will be wildly popular because there is no doubt, that Norah is good at what she does – jazz tinged, lyrically interesting, perfect vocal performances. Try “Little Broken Hearts,” “4 Broken Hearts,” and the country flavored “Out on the Road.”

If you were anywhere in the late 80’s and 90’s then you know of GBV. Every music magazine was in love with Guided By Voices nee Robert Pollard and because he was so prolific, there was always something new floating around. This is the second of three GBV releases this year, the first being Let’s Go Eat The Factory (released January 2012).  Class Clown Spots a UFO is released on June 21 so you are getting this a bit early. The title track has been around in various forms since the early 90’s but this version captures the essence of Pollards form of indie pop – think the Hollies touched by the Dukes of Stratosphere with guitars by early R.E.M ( Does that make sense?). In any event, you kind of have to listen to get the idea. The songs are catchy, diverse, and the lyrics a bizarre intersection of ideas. Try “Keep it in Motion,” “Class Clown Spots a UFO” and “Starfire.” Always interesting. Look for the 3rd album in November tentatively called Bears for Lunch.

Australia’s Temper Trap second album called creatively The Temper Trap (really…follow the rule…the first record is self-titled, the second is named after the first song on the record, the third after the forth song on the record. So in this case, this record would be called I need Your Love. The best trick is singing a song named after the band such as Temper Trap singing Temper Trap. Think I’m kidding – here are some examples: Talk Talk sang Talk Talk, Atari Teenage Riot, Bad Company, Bad Religion, Black Sabbath, Belle & Sebastian, Body Count, Green Day (yes actually sang a song called Green Day), Icehouse, Iron Maiden etc.. ) Back to Temper Trap. You probably recall the hit “Sweet Disposition” so hopefully this won’t color (for you Canadians – colour) your opinion), this record recorded in Los Angeles, is filled with mid-tempo rock (think Coldplay but not as good, whatever that means) and I almost didn’t include the album. However, there is enough good on the record to make the cut. In particular, “The Sea is Calling,” and “This Isn’t Happiness” give you a good idea as to what Temper Trap is aiming for. There will be some debate over the second track “London’s Burning” written supposedly about the London riots of summer 2011. If you don’t listen too carefully to the lyrics, the music is catchy and well written (However, you cannot in any version of reality think of this as protest music). Notwithstanding the cringe worthy lyrics, I like the Cure’s “Killing an Arab” influence on this track as well as the Zuton’s vocal stylings. You either like this or you don’t.

If you recall last month, fun’s Some Nights LP, was included for your listening pleasure. This month, two follow up releases worth listening to are included. The Ghost That You Are To Me EP included an acoustic version of “We Are Young” and two versions of “Why Am I The One.” The second fun offering is a duet with Haley Williams (Paramore) of “Somebody That I Used To Know” (Gotye hit) from BBC 1’s Radio 1 live Lounge. This may be better than the original. Try it…you’ll likey.  Here’s the video: http://youtu.be/GCim_0MZ2qI (Great video by the way).

Joey Ramone is dead. Yet, he has a new record. Ya Know is Joey’s second solo record consisting of a collection of demos and unreleased recordings recorded over the last 15 years of his life. Interesting note: His first solo album Don’t Worry About Me was also released posthumously. Although Joey passed away in 2001, his legacy in punk rock is so long that regardless of this release, there is nothing that could dim the impact of this musician’s life. Not surprisingly, this is a great collection of songs that highlight Joey’s distinct vocals and are on par with the best of the Ramones work. Produced by his brother Mickey Leigh and longtime Ramone contributors/ producers Ed Stasium and Jean Beauvoir, the album is rocks. Start at the beginning and work your way through – not a duff track in the bunch. “Going Nowhere Fast,” “21st Century Girl,” “There’s Got To Be More To Life Than This,” are great… but we all know that “Rock ‘N Roll Is the Answer.”

Silversun Pickups third album is a change of pace and direction (don’t panic its not like there are no swirling guitars on the darn thing) that is a great record. The most interesting aspect of the new record is the balancing of each players contributions. It would be easy to single out lead vocalist Brian Aubert’s unique singing voice, but this album manages some nice singing counterpoints with Nikki Monninger’s whom usually provides backup vocals. This is like John Doe and Exene Cervenka – a blend of voices that works. There is more keyboard on this LP than previous and you get the feeling that this is really a band – not just a singer with some session players. The album also has a rhythm with the band experimenting with different time signatures unlike the traditional rock format. Try, “Bloody Mary (Never Endings),” “Dots And Dashes (Enough Already), ( I like the use of parenthetical thought)… and closer “Out Of Breath.”

I love This Providence. Really, this is catchy pop punk music that is bright and smart. I would love to see this band live. There I said it. Seattle based, This Providence fits in with the Motion City Soundtrack crowd and like MCS, and they write catchy sing along songs that are high energy. TP has been around since 2006 recording for Fueled By Ramen, but they broke away at the end of last year and this is their first self released music which was out on May 1. Can’t go wrong with this at all. Could be the Aussie vocals fronting a uniquely U.S. guitar sounding band. Who knows? Surely not I. When I heard opening track “Trouble” I was hooked. This is far to short. I like ‘em all so get on board the This Providence train with “In or Out” and “Your Mine.” Music should be fun and this certainly is. Too bad its only an EP.

See how we are getting more and more obscure….

What can I say about Devo? I actually saw this tour in 1981 when Devo played the PNE in Vancouver. Devo changed rock music forever, and this show gives you an idea of what devolution really meant in the context of the music of the time. Punk had fractured at the end of the 70’s and Devo who actually started in 1972 from Akron (same place as the Rubber City Rebels, Dead Boys, The Cramps, Rocket From The Tombs, Chrissie Hynde, Pere Ubu, Pagans, Necros, and Toxic Reasons.. whew that’s a ton) changed forever what pop music would and could be. Who would ever have thought Devo would actually have a “hit” record? Devo without a doubt was the weirdest band to ever get near the top of the popular music charts ( Billboard Top 100 – 14 for “Whip It,” Canada – No. 3).  This was a double LP released on Record Store Day (April 21, 2012) in very limited quantities. Behold the mighty power of Devo. This is a great show. If you have attention deficit disorder, skip ahead to this amazing trio of songs: “Uncontrollable Urge,” “Mongoloid” and Jocko Homo” ( are we not men?). Brilliant.

Jimmy Fallon. Okay not really a recording artist, but Jimmy Fallon’s spoof of Tim Tebow as David Bowie is spot on. Fallon plays Tim Tebow, re-imagined as Ziggy Stardust David Bowie singing to Jesus is worthwhile in the comedy/parody one hit wonder genre. This is also a 2012 Record Store Day Release. The Flip, “Reading Rainbow” which is Fallon as Jim Morrison is also credible. If I didn’t tell you it was Fallon, you would swear that it actually was Morrison. Until you hear the lyrics.

Jack White is not obscure. I know…but I was trying to reduce the hype surrounding this record, so that I could truly assess exactly what was going on here. Was my analysis colored by the fact that the White Stripes was a great band with great songs? Was it colored by the fact that he toured the Yukon? I took a long hard look at this release, tried to distance myself from the critical applaud, and tried to determine is it worthy of the dropbox. And after such deep examination….it is. ( I put it in the dropbox didn’t I?) So why? Blunderbuss, White’s first solo record, is a progression – but still bears the White Stripes mark. The sound is fuller (certainly having a full band helps) and incorporates the Detroit rock sound from earlier records with new country influence flourishes. Really, you’ve got to listen to this record all the way through to get how sharp this record really is in terms of where White is going, but where the sweet spot in all of his future records might be.

Garbage is likely also not obscure… unless you were still a child in 1995. Maybe. If you are not familiar with Garbage, there music was ubiquitous in the late 90’s and for good reason. This is comfort music for Rock fans. Shirley Manson’s vocals disguised the very dark undercurrents present on the self titled first album and Version 2.0 from 1998. Remember Queer” and “Stupid Girl”? The lyrics are still dark on this record, but it is a fully realized version of Garbage, with producer/drummer Butch Vig guiding the electronic tinged songs always forward with Manson’s powerful vocals taking on a more mature and still powerful lilt. This is still industrial light music, more dance oriented at times, and the songwriting is solid. The difficulty with this record is that you are going to have to work hard to find a standout track – there is a sameness to this record that may make it blend in the background, which is not what a garbage record should sound like. In this regard, it is like the Temper Trap record, makes the cut because there is still something interesting about this record, but you are going to have to work to find the standout songs. For me, try “Man on A Wire,” “Automatic System Habit” and “Sugar.”

Get Cape Wear Cape Fly is the nom de plum of 26 year old Sam Duckworth who was once a critical darling, but with this his third record is suffering in the music papers from a well developed British trend of “kill yer idols.” The problem is that those familiar with the first two Get Cape records are going to wonder…where did it all going wrong? It didn’t, its just different and that is alright. The songs on this record are a huge departure from the last record, the second LP Get Cape Wear Cape Fly (2010) which was an indie pop gem. This record is a well formed experiment and the songs sung with Duckworth’s distinct clipped British accent are catchy pop gems that deal with the politics of the day. Try “Daylight Robbery,” “The Joy of Stress” and opener “The Real McCoy.”

The Guillemots (pronounced gee-lee-mow in the U.K. apparently gilly-mots, are named after a bird – and according to the Audubon Society it is pronounced GILL-la-mott). Hello Land is the first of the band’s effort to release 4 albums in one year.  This is delicate pop music that over the course of 8 songs finds its way into your heart. The songs are lengthy but never boring and Hello Land delivers lush intricate instrumentation and catchy vocals of Fyfe Dangerfield, this album is like a painting with each listening revealing more images. Gorgeous. Try “Fleet,” “Outside” and “Nothing’s Going To Bring Me Down.”

If you can guess I like things Canadian, then you should see a pattern here. Particularly, if they are from Vancouver. Japandroids’ second album is a shiny rock record that is full of heart, desire, energy and passion in 8 songs. That’s it. The band has been through a lot in the past couple of years – 1 break up, 1 near death experience, questions about existence and this record is a classic. I’ve played the thing nearly 30 times in the last month and it never gets old. Even their choice of covers, the Gun Club’s “ For The Love of Ivy” ( if you recall the Gun Club made a dropbox appearance earlier this year) harmonizes with Japandroids’ mission – play it loud, play it hard, and screw the rest. Try” The House That Heaven Built,” (here’s a great performance from SXSW: http://youtu.be/PQ0wvCmDrKE “Fire’s Highway and “Younger Us.” To think these guys almost called it a day prior to releasing a record. Makes you wonder WTF is wrong with the world.

Best Coast, like Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, were critical darlings because the duo’s first record hid weak lyrical content in a layer of fuzz that was pitchfork perfect. This second record, like most second records finds the band trying to build in a year songs that show growth but still retain the charm of the first record. So, how did they do? You’ll have to judge, but the songs on this record are fuzz free (thanks to Jon Brion) and have a charm that captures really why you like Best Coast – the duo – Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno that captures the sunny Southern California AM radio friendly pop rock with Cosentino’s vocals carrying simple melodies that capture sunshine. I can see myself in a small club watching this performance and smiling while my foot taps along in perfect time. How they Want Me to Be reminds me of the Bangles without sounding like them. This is thoroughly enjoyable. So, Try “ How They Want Me To Be,” “My Life” and “The Only Place.

Lincolnshire England’s 22-20s are an enigma in British Rock. An enigma because their form of brit-rock is largely an anachronism. Mod influenced 70s sounding rock with a vocals that sound like an English Jim Morrison, the band’s distinctive rhythms are classic. The problem, as expressed by the band is that three of them now live in Minneapolis and the sole British remaining member left the band on May 3 of this year. See www.22-20s.com/ . So where do you go from here?  The band wears its influences heavily and for the most part escapes them to form a faithful recreation of classic psychedelic rock. Try “White Lines” (Doors influence), “Cuts and Bruises” (Roy Orbison influence), and “Little Soldiers.” (Cream influence) [The bonus CD includes 10 tracks featuring five live tracks from Fuji Rock Festival’10 and acoustic & demo versions of their songs.]

Admiral Freebee’s Wreck Collection is a greatest hits collection of Belgian singer/songwriter Tom van Laere, born in Brasschaaat, Antwerp. This record is the record companies going away party as Tom refers to this as “The worst of” but aside from the bitterness, this is a stellar collection of songs. These all topped the Flemish rock charts…. You can hear the Neil Young/ Dylan influences particularly on some of the vocal performances, such as the excellent “Living for the Weekend” which Neil should actually cover. Note: Admiral Freebee actually opened for Neil Young in Antwerp in 2008! The record traverses alt-country territory and that is not a bad thing. The songs tap into your spine, and you’ll find yourself singing along. In my mind, there is some Paul Westerberg influences that make this collection thoroughly enjoyable. Try “Recipe For Disaster,” the aforementioned “Living for the Weekend” and “Last Song About You.” ALERT: Also, Take a look at the video for Rags N’ Runs http://youtu.be/Nqeiv7Rq2UQ and tell me Admiral Freebee doesn’t look exactly like JB who is a member of this dropbox! Scary!

Charleston South Carolina’s All Get Out is the answer to what the payoff for years of hard work yields prior to releasing your first record. Touring since 2007, The Season was recorded in late 2010 and released in September 2011. This is a very tight pop punk record leaning heavily on the pop side of the equation. Like the Japandroids, this is indie music of the finest form. The album races along from the exciting opener “My Friends” touches anguish with “The Season” (acoustic version here: http://youtu.be/tffndGcgii8 ) and closes with the stunning angst ridden “Come and Gone.”Try “Son of Mine,” “Lucky Bastard” (http://youtu.be/a-M_UrqA7bM ) and “Let Me Go.” Nate Hussey’s vocals are amazing. This is truly a great record.

Like Best Coast, London based, Allo Darlin’ mines a specific niche in the pop milieu, in this case, the territory previously mined by 80’s legends the Go Betweens. Like all great indie pop bands, this music is light, sunny… and in a word – innocent. Elizabeth Morris’s vocals, like Best Coast’s Cosentino, is infectious and these pop songs are highlighted by the slight Aussie tinge that perfect pop should sound like, jangly guitars are all over this record and the lyrics reflect the uncertainty in Morris’ life, particularly on songs like “Europe.” Try “Tallulah” with its plaintiff Jonathan Richman acoustic feel (yes, that is a 2012’s hip instrument the ukulele) (http://youtu.be/1KtlzdrKd-8 ) (Check out Long Beach, CA!), “Northern Lights,” and “The Letter.”

As you know, I’m a huge punk rock fan. Gent, East Flanders Belgian based Blackup has the sound that connects with me – aggressive garage punk rock with pop choruses like Billy Talent crossed with Danko Jones. Someone actually posted a live show at the Slow Club – small club in Frieburg. Check them out: http://youtu.be/p8LFEsNGMBg  . Try ”The Future is Burning”, Blackwater,” and “I Taste Blood.”

City Mouse from Riverside, CA is the best thing about Riverside. Really. If you haven’t been there don’t. Riverside was terrible before the economy was bad. Major economic product is methamphetamine. City Mouse are part of the punk rock underground and this self released EP highlights Miski Dee Rodriguez strong melodic punk rock roots. Originally from Lexington, KY the move to California may do some good…as long as she keeps moving west. No picks here…I like them all. Check out the video of “Dumb Dumb Dumb” ( http://youtu.be/zCVY4TtE6YA )  which is an anti-drug song made in the heart of California’s drug capital.

Las Vegas’ The Cynics in this case the indie/new wave rockers (not to be confused with Pittsburgh’s awesome garage punk revivalist legends also named the Cynics – Doesn’t anyone have a computer and Google?) will likely get lost because of the unfortunate name choice, but have captured that Brooklyn guitar sound that should have made this record a hit (think Strokes, Killers, The Bravery). This is catchy club oriented dance rock that captures the magic of those bands. “Awake” shines with shimmery guitars, breathy vocals, and keyboards that make your hips sway. This is not deep music, so sit back and enjoy! Try “Don’t Say Manhattan” (cheesy video: http://youtu.be/lBhkfsE2Muo )  “ Awake” and  “Sin City.”

The Donots formed in 1993 and with Wake the Dogs, the bands 9th album, they may actually get some attention in the USA and Canada. Formed in Ibbenbüren, Germany, the band’s form of melodic punk rock should have had some attention on this side of the pond, but hopefully us dropbox aficionados will finally get a chance to spread the Donots (do nothings) gospel to the unwashed and initiated masses. Try “Wake The Dogs” (http://youtu.be/-8KgDaS4oCs ), “Come Away With Me”  (http://youtu.be/rS-h_V7A7-U ) and “Your So Yesterday.”

Why Freshman 15 are not stars really confounds me. They’ve got the Simple Plan vocals…check…catchy pop punk tunes….check…funny lyrics….check… poignant band name …check ( freshman 15 refers to the 15 lbs freshman college students supposedly gain – although First Year Fatties probably would have been a better band name. Note: an Ohio State University study found it was only 2-3 pounds.) Is it too late for the true pop punk revival. I hope not. Freshman 15 write the kids of songs that should end up in every teen movie that will be made in the next 5 years. Shades of MXPX, Blink 182 and Green Day this band’s 23 Songs is a collection of gems waiting to be mined. And wait…there from Atlanta. This second album is filled with great three minute and shorter songs that are interesting and fun. Try “When Cheating Had Feeling”, “My Favorite Songs” and “Phoenix Can Keep You.”

Last Dinosaurs follows a long history of Australia producing great indie pop music beginning with Split Enz, Midnight Oil, Powderfinger, Youth Group, Hunters & Collectors, The Church, Hoodoo Gurus, Celibate Rifles, etc.) and this collection adds to the reason why we should all move to Australia (or Canada) and soak in the influences. This half-Japanese foursome from Brisbane write catchy hook laden aussie-pop and this debut record captures the magic of their earlier singles, which have received widespread critical acclaim in their home country. “Honolulu” (http://youtu.be/yV8dfyrD64c ) was a huge summer hit, and this album contains some other songs with huge hit potential. Try “Zoom” (http://youtu.be/EqGs36oPpLQ ), “Honolulu” and “Weekend.”

04.17.12

Following up on this weeks releases with Part II of what’s new. Before I begin, however, just a gentle reminder to copy the files and then paste them onto your hard drive rather than removing (or dragging them from the dropbox) so everyone can have at them.

 Now that the technical part of the presentation is over, here is what is new (or recent)

Anti-Flag was posted here on 01.27.12, Eaux Autres on 02.28.12, and He is We on 02.1012 so you can read about them below.  They are re-posted by request. Which reminds me, if you have missed something or having second thoughts because you should have grabbed something, let me know and I’ll gladly repost.

Canada’s fine punk outfit, Cancer Bats (Hello Toronto!) new release comes out in Canada today but in the U.S. on April 23. Why the delay? This is the Bats 4th record and shows progress, even though I never thought they could “grow” after Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones which was magnificent, but very dark. This one is not so dark and shows the incorporation of non-hardcore elements and a trend to more of an “indie rock” rather than metal sound but really you’d have to look hard to see those elements. If you are a Cancer Bats fan, then this continues the tradition with a “little more” variety. For me, best tracks are the opener “R.A.T.S”, “Bastards, and “Rally the Wicked.”

People are going to love Chromatics. You will likely not remember them as this LP is five years in the making and is the Portland “bands”  (essentially Johnny Jewell) fourth LP. You have to work at this LP and be in a mood for this type of cinematic instrumental work. A number of the tracks are lengthy (skip “No Escape” which is the last track and 14:00 minutes in length unless you have some time) but this is really interesting music that stands up against anything being released in Indie land. Favorites here are: “Candy,” “Back From the Grave,” and “Kill For Love.”

Bellman is an alias for Norwegian singer Arne-J Rauan, and this, his second record, is very different from his first. Like Chromatics, above, these are gorgeously crafted pop songs with fully realized dimensionality. Although some of this is very soft, you get the feeling that Rauan spent some time listening to Radiohead and the appropriated the melody elements to craft these songs. Check out “I Suppose,” “Gasoline” and “Go.”

Black Bananas, is the latest from Jennifer Herrema, who is better known as ½ of Royal Trux her duo with Neil Haggerty which broke up in 2001 after releasing 10 albums of distorted psychedelic blues. Since 2001 this path has inevitably lead to this LP of psychedelic blues rock with an amalgam of bizarre influences from funk to electronic ( think George Clinton here). I do not know of any other band traversing these waters, and this album is full of interesting experiments. Try “Do It,” Acid Song” and “Killer Weed.”

Electric Touch is an amalgam of 1 Brit and 4 Texans based in Houston (but claiming the much cooler locale of Austin the home of SXSW music festival) is basically a dance rock record much like a more poppy version of Paris, Texas (which was truly an amazing band) that is bound to keep you smiling as the tunes crash along in a catchy light way. Think Metrostation but a little harder. There are definitely 80s elements in these songs (Billy Idol’s sneer), but the combination is irresistible, particularly where vocalist Shane Lawlor captures the energy of early pop punk. Think Neon Trees and Killers and you pretty much are on target. “I Can’t Wait” could have been done by All American Rejects. Add to this opener “Don’t Stop” and “Beautiful Mess” (see the live video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ONYxBJ_82s&feature=related Note: the hipster Joy Division T-Shirt (-1) cool points) and you can’t go wrong.

First Aid Kit makes this week’s list because of the amazing vocal performances on this indie folk release. If you liked Mumford &Sons and Fleet Foxes, then this is the female version but better. Title Track “The Lion’s Roar” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekHV9DIjHc ) sets the tone on a lovely crafted album. Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg adopt the look of 60’s folk troubadours and with the help of Conor Oberst and the Felice Brothers have crafted a catchy album with glorious melodies that grows on you in a most pleasant sort of way. If “The Lion’s Roar” is slightly somber, the whimsical “Emmylou” picks up the mood and the rest of the album captures the feeling of California in the late 60’s when Joni Mitchell was crafting similar fare as best exemplified by “Blue.” This is a thoroughly enjoyable record. The made their U.S. debut on Conan on Monday, April 16 and most bizarrely, this record in the best selling album in Sweden! Catch this early…it is going to be big.

Who exactly is Chuck Prophet? Chuck is a local guy from Whittier California who was in jangle pop/paisley underground band Green on Red (I saw them live a couple of times, superb!) and this is his 14th solo recording since that band broke up in 1992. I know, its ridiculous that no one has heard of him, but that is why most great music and musicians know that radio play is not the measure of success. This record finds Chuck essentially in San Francisco and is a tribute to the city’s rich alternative history. Check out “Temple Beautiful” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khvdcF3FrdI&feature=related ) which was once a punk club and before that the home of cult leader Jim Jones. Try also “Willie Mays Is Up At Bat” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnboBR1W3ao&feature=relmfu ) and “The Left Hand and The Right Hand” ( http://youtu.be/vnN_lA8ljMw ).

In the same vein as Chuck Prophet, Brendan Kelly (and the Wandering Birds) is a prolific songwriter and has more street credibility than most artists as the member and vocalist for bands like the Lawrence Arms, the Broadways and Slapstick). Not to confuse the punk origins of his bands, this mostly solo project is not derivative of those bands, but forages new territory (think Against Me!) with this acousto-punk project. This is fully realized rock and roll that is instantly likeable as is Brendan as a vocalist. The lyrics are straight forward and memorable. While I like the entire record, I was blown away by “A Man With the Passion of Tennessee Williams” and “Dance of the Doomed.” Try also opener “Suffer The Children Come Unto Me.” Here is the Devil’s Taking Names in Montreal (pretty funny): http://youtu.be/xU4B27Gt5PA

British rock band Enter Shikari (all 4 members are from St Albans, Hertfordshire) are generally described as a metalcore band, but that is far to narrow a label to capture the essence of this electronic melodic post hardcore band that could be the future of the genre. This is insanely catchy music that you can imagine yourself at a concert head banging along with in a mosh pit (assuming I still had hair). For those of you who like loud music, you’ll get this. However, if you are feeling some trepidation, do not fear – you will like this. Start with “Meltdown” which is like an electronic version of a Korn track. If you want a little heavier try “Arguing With Thermometers”  (http://youtu.be/DUnNW-nbots) and “Sssnakepit” (http://youtu.be/6GgTgQM5D0M ).

Deer Tick is John McCauley’s Providence RI project with a band of traveling musicians that play indie rock/country highlighting McCauley’s love of 90’s alt country. This is a great rock record with elements of Nirvana (“When it All Falls Down” could be a Nirvana outtake) interspersed though a Replacements sound (Tim was an album by the greatest rock band ever – the Replacements. I know you don’t believe me, but check out this: http://youtu.be/AUFWnbz2siM . There are 6 parts so watch the whole thing, eh? This is from 1981! Now back to Deer Tick). This EP has the naked acoustic version of the indie hit “Main Street” from the last album “Divine Providence” which shows the transformation from its raw origins to hit song. Try this Letterman performance as well: http://youtu.be/qJBcKCb5zAU . Opener “Born at Zero” is reminiscent of the Tommy Keene original “Back to Zero” with its altern-a-rock catchy guitar work.

Bear in Heaven is yet another Brooklyn based band that plays electronic synthcore ( I know, it is difficult to describe a type of music that is largely Can/ Kraftwerk based electro pop with lush sounding melodies) emphasizing the ethereal vocals of creator Jon Philpot. These are essentially sound scapes with vocals that capture your attention. Best here are “Cool Light”, “Idle Heart” and “Kiss Me Crazy.” Here is the video for the single “Reflection of You” : http://youtu.be/tjW5rkXiQdc

In the past, I found it difficult to get into Cursive, which has always been a conceptual emo-rock band with concepts that are very difficult to understand or connect. Omaha, Nebraska based, this band has been working at perfecting the concept album for nearly 17 years. This record surprised me because although the concept in this case “twin brothers separated at birth, one good and one evil, their unexpected reunion in a house that is not a home ignites a classic struggle for the soul” is another bizarre and difficult excursion, the music is amazing. (Pitchfork hated this record giving it a 4.7). The tunes are catchy, interesting, and you find yourself singing along. Tim Kasher’s vocals are always interesting and coupled with the dys-rhythmic sections and thumping bass, produces an enjoyable result. I get why this band has some very dedicated fans. “Warmer Warmer” and “The Sun and the Moon” are a more mature sound that will give fans who liked the previous releases “The Ugly Organ” and “Domestica” but you’ll have to be the judge. Try “Twin Dragon Hello Skelton as well. Here’s an appearance on Letterman of “From the Hips”: http://youtu.be/FG14mqEqAFI then you’ll get why this band is great.

Dowsing is another Chicago based band (see Brendan Kelly above), who is a straight forward indie rock band with that Midwest pop punk sound. You can probably tell by now that this type of music is my sweet spot when I’m not looking for punk rock played fast. The band cannot detect water, but can play some great songs. Try “Midwest Living”, the excellent cover of “Dancing in the Dark” (Springsteen), and “That Would Be a Lot of Cool.”

AC from Starbucks commented on this next artist, Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog whose 7th release is a return to form after 2010’s Shame, Shame. This is catchy indie rock with a smattering of what could be described as the “Americana songbook.” Catchy rhymes, hook laden melodies, and sing-a-long passages make this a fun record although at times there is some sprawl that could have used some editing. There is a Paul Simon Graceland feel on some of the tracks, particularly on the excellent “The Old Black Hole.”  ( Here is the version on Conan: http://youtu.be/IgOd-hPVkJ4 . It is hard to resist the toe tapping catchiness of some of the best experiments laid waste here including “These Days” and “Get Away” and “How Long Must I Wait” which evokes the spirit of the Band ( the Canadian supergroup that played with Dylan).

If you have not heard of Florence & The Machine, then you are dead. Overplayed on commercial radio, used as the music to advertise a dreadful movie staring an unattractive fading actress who shall not be named here, the track “Dog Days Are Over” (Really, are they?) is probably etched in your mind. Truly, I couldn’t remember any portion of the lyrics, and really didn’t care about anything but that chorus, but heard live, it seems to actually restore what I loved about the track the first time around. This is the MTV Unplugged version which now seems irrelevant given how long this has been around, but these are fresh takes on songs which are now familiar to everyone. Florence Welch really has the goods as a vocalist and performer, and this set is refreshing overall. A good cover of “Try a little Tenderness” and “Jackson” (with Josh Homme) are worth a listen.

Gypsy sounds like Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs fronting Dinosaur Jr. You can definitely hear the Jawbox influences on this record. This is an offshoot of hardcore band Cold World from Wilkes-Barre PA, with singer guitarist Alex Russin vocals creating the atmosphere for these melodic indie tracks. I’d have used emo, but since that has negative connotations, I am using it in only the most positive way possible. This is a really good record. Try “Cherry Picker”, opener “Sleep Well” and the closer “All Along.” Interesting note – Band has no web page, no advertising and no videos.

Imperial State Electric (Sweden) is the latest from former Hellacopters front person Nicke Andersson after the band broke up in 2008. If you loved the Hellacopters then this record is for you. Pop War is the second release and picks up where the first record left off with 70’s soaked pop metal with clear Beatles/ Kiss and Cheap Trick influences and some glam touches. Try “Back on Main”, “Waltz for Vincent” (Alice Cooper?), “Monarchy Madness” (great acoustic version here from release party held on March 08,2012 at Debaser Slussen in Stockholm: http://youtu.be/CsGFpVv-L6Y  ) for some fun riffage. More release party stuff: Can’t Seem To Shake it Off My mind: http://youtu.be/AxcHAZ-XEx4

On its 5th LP, San Francisco’s Imperial Teen (who has been around for 16 years) has finally achieved what it has sought to perfect over its previous releases: ELO updated for 2012. “Runaway” the opening track signals that this is a band who is content with its sound and content never to be on any hipster list. This is pure pop for now people (an excellent Nick Lowe album by the way) and if you like bouncy, smart indie pop, then this will achieve your goal. Try “Runaway” (video is good too: http://youtu.be/GBxd9qLMBOE ), “Hanging About” and “Don’t Know How You Do It”.

For those who are interested, singer is Roddy Bottum of Faith No More fame.

AC’s other recommendation is Jonquil’s new release, Point of Go the third from Oxford, England band that arose form the same scene that brought you the Foals. This is a different sound than the first two albums which were more shoe-gazing informed. This release moves into alternative-pop radio friendly sound, but this should not be construed as a negative. As should be obvious, every band wants to be heard…and liked. There is definitely a Dukes of Stratosphere ( XTC alter ego band from the 80s) feel to some of these tracks which when combined with Hugo Manuel’s falsetto, make this a great album. Best Tracks: “Run”, Getaway” and “Swell.” Here’s “Getaway” live at SXSW this year: http://youtu.be/Fk0dsLy10mg .

Joyce Manor is on the hipster radar, for all the right reasons. This band can do more in 19 minutes than many bands can accomplish over a career. Really. Not hyperbole. Okay…maybe a little. But I can’t help thinking that for a band that plays Jawbreaker type music has quite a lot of great ideas on this their second release. From Long Beach, CA punk rock scene, this album is consistent, well thought out, and likeable with some very different lyrical content for any band, let alone a punk band. Try “Constant Nothing,” “Ashtray Petting Zoo,” and “Constant Headache.” Oh, and so I don’t forget, what band has the nuts to cover “Video Killed the Radio” and have it sound like they wrote it and it belongs in the middle of the record. Out – $#%$@@ standing. See the kids dance at a party in Riverside: http://youtu.be/MIVNumUW-QE .

Kaiser Chiefs should be a familiar name. From Leeds England, Kaiser Chiefs definielty received some serious overexposure blow back from “Ruby” a number one charting single in Europe in 2007. Largely ignored ( like almost every British band) in the United States, they disappeared from the minds of most listeners on this side of the pond. Start The Revolution Without Me is their latest and 4th LP. Released in June of last year in the U.K. it was released here on March 6, 2012. The 80s elements remain in their music and the LP shines with danceable pop tunes in the spirit of Echo & The Bunnymen and Tears for Fears. Try “Little Shocks”, “Kinda Girl You Are” (video here: http://youtu.be/rEeNg7IWGu4 ) and “Child of the Jago.”

From the same town as the NFL Football Hall of Fame, Canton Ohio’s Lovedrug also packs some 8os influences, in this case Big Country which is featured prominently on title track “Wild Blood.” Infectious guitar and a command of melody make this LP immediately likeable and fit nicely in the same vein as Augustana. Don’t believe me? Compare “Girl” with Augustana’s “Fire” performed here live at SXSW:  http://youtu.be/EwTnXr3iQbU  ( I think Augustana‘s version of “Fire” is one of the greatest pop singles of all time. I’ve played this song endlessly). All in all , this is a very appealing record and if there is any justice in the music world “Wild Blood” should be a hit. In addition to the aforementioned, try also “We Were Owls” and “Anodyne” (http://youtu.be/cXQhymNxiMg )

I’ve loved Mystery Jets from the release of their first EP, Eel Pie Island, where the band was originally from in Twickenham London.  Radlands is truly a departure for the band as the earlier releases can best be characterized as “very English” in style and content. This record, recorded after a trip to Austin to perform at SXSW, shows the American influences inculcating their particular brand of indie pop. Try “Radlands,” Sister Everett” and “Someone Purer”.

One Two Three Cheers and a Tiger is not a good name but a good band. Hailing from Austria, the band plays melodic hook laden rock that will have you singing along in no time. “The Modern Sound” (http://youtu.be/mfgKMgd6Avk ) and “The Dream” are particularly great songs. Check out the “Dream” here: http://youtu.be/cqukwZ2pEGQ . (This is a great video too!). Try also” “Nothing to Lose.” (Not to be confused by the classic Tarney-Spencer Band song “ No Time to Lose : http://youtu.be/QWN1z5Evm44  Note: This is an example of why videos killed the music star and why MTV was ridiculously bad in the early 80s).

Pony Pony Run Run is another poor band name but also a reason why not everything French is bad. Formed in Nantes, but moving to Angers, France, the the band line-up consists of three members named simply “G” (guitar/vocals), “A” (bass) and “T” (keyboards). Two original members of the group have left the band; “S” (guitar/backing vocals) who left the band in 2008, and “F” (drums) who departed in 2009. Obviously, they have criminal pasts. What if they ever became really popular? Who would the record companies pay royalties to? I have a ton of other questions that need answers, but who would I contact?). This is obviously Album 2. They are popular in Europe but again unknown here. Did you know they won “Public Revelation of the Year” at 2010′s Victoire de la Musique, the French Grammys? Probably not. This is indie-electropop sung in English and catchy as hell. Try: “Just a Song” (http://youtu.be/F3AdrFTnFcQ ), “Here I Am” (http://youtu.be/LdtdTPQ8DpI ) and “Sorry.”

If there is an affliction that I do not wish to get over, then Ryan Adams is that affliction. Look, you either like Ryan or you do not. The music runs the gamut from pure county to Rock and everything in between. On these demos, many of the tracks ended up on Whiskeytown’s final release Pneumonia. These demos are named after Ryan’s first solo release Heartbreaker which was nothing short of amazing. These demos, are a great insight to that record, particularly when compared with the released version of Pneumonia whose release was in 2001 although completed in 1999. The delay in release caused by the merger of Polygram and Universal created tensions in the band and resulted in the band breaking up in this period. Best Tracks are: “Don’t Wanna Know Why”, “Sit and Listen To The Rain” and an amazing version of “All I Wanted ” ( Which could be a Replacements out take).

Scars on 45 ( hereafter, just “Scars”) is a play on Stars on 45 a ubiquitous single played in the 80s and a number 1 at that. Toiling in obscurity for several years (like a lot of bands) Scars, who come from Yorkshire (See Dexy’s Midnight Runners entry this week who are “Thankfully…not living in Yorkshire) get a song chosen for an episode of CSI. This is the new model for indie bands looking for marketing. A label essentially gets placement for the band on TV rather than the old fashioned book them as an opening act for a much #$%@$#% bigger act. Anyway, a stroke of good fortune for all involved, because Scars is quite good (use clipped British accent). This album is scheduled for release on April 10, 2012. This really is geared to break them in the U.S. where they are currently touring with The Fray. Try “Beauty Running Wild,” “Heart on Fire” (http://youtu.be/TXndFmaZkwQ ) and “Promises and Empty Words” (The version performed live here is the one from the LP http://youtu.be/Uc7p26AmnQU  and highlights vocalist Aimee Driver’s sweet voice.

This next record belongs in everyone’s collection ( and now it does J) Screaming Females is a powerhouse from New Jersey that: a) does not sound like Springsteen or Bon Jovi; b) is not ugly (in sound or appearance); and c) is wild (http://youtu.be/XE0BWA5LZYc ). Fronted by Marissa Paternoster on guitar and vocals, with Jarrett Dougherty on drums, and King Mike on bass the band is the classic power trio offering up prime cuts of power shredding riffage with Marissa’s angular vocals. This record, like Joyce Manor’s, is difficult to pick out favorites, because I like them all. Try: “Tell Me No,” “Doom 84,” and “Something Ugly.” For a really good idea of what this band is about check out these: I Don’t Mind It ( Live at Generation Records 02.12.12) ( http://youtu.be/fCyzk2p5BcU ) and Starve The Beat: The Screaming Females Story http://youtu.be/6a6k-FMtZVQ .

Irish “band” Scruffy Puppy wears some U2 influences on its sleeve (being from Cork City) but this is not necessarily a bad thing. This is essentially a solo project from electronic hip hop band Pirate Tape member Brendan Gilmartin and as indie as it gets. No website and releases only through bandcamp. Check Out “Get Low,” “California” and “Kamikaze.”

St Vincent is already a hipster favorite, so this release is a stop gap until something new is released. St. Vincent is the stage name of Annie Erin Clark who is a former member of the Polyphonic Spree and touring member of Sufjan Stevens (can you feel the indie credibility?). Her last LP, Strange Mercy, made a number of best of end year lists, so any new music is anticipated. This release is from a live session recorded in, where else Brooklyn! You can view the entire session here: http://youtu.be/5jv4lgFrL7U or just listen to it in your car like I did. While her voice is pretty darned amazing, it is the guitar playing that makes this a standout.

 What are the odds that you would find a second French indie band that was actually good? (I don’t know – guess a number). Stuck in the Sound have been around since 2002 and on this their 4th release continue their progression from Nirvana loving acolytes to forming their own awesome rock sound (with a Queen nod – See Track 2: “Freddy Mercure”). First single off this record is opening track “Brother” (http://youtu.be/J417T5crtm4 ) but the rest of the album also rocks with some well written melodic tracks. Try “Tender” ( http://youtu.be/uszz2TeL7Do ) and “Pursuit.” Also try out this video from the last record “Shoot Shoot”(Uncensored)”: http://youtu.be/3h8ZpwIWPHs (Bet the uncensored tag made you look!).

Well were closing on the last two artists… first up…

Teenanger from Toronto, Canada (again … hello Toronto!). This there second LP continues the action with the snotty punk attack that makes them my bet for break out artist of the week. This is a straight forward garage punk record that will have you shouting around. Want lo-fi – check out the single take video of “Bank Account” the first single from Frights: http://youtu.be/9wLSWOqqXYI ( I felt like I was walking to the club myself. This is an amazing video) They are not reinventing the wheel but the songs are fun and infectious and I’d see them live if they came to my town. Try: “Bank Account,” “Cops But Not,” and “SLW.” Also a live performance of “Frights”: http://youtu.be/_rEQM_BTYFQ .

Last but certainly not least is the Futureheads. Some disclaimers: This is not what a Futureheads record would really sound like. However, I have loved all of their previous releases and unlike the music snobs who know way more than me, I take each record as it stands without trying to compare it to the bands previous releases. The question in every case is whether this is a good album composed of interesting tunes that I would like to hear more than once and possibly see live. See not too difficult. Sure, there is balancing of those factors in deciding whether to select a record for inclusion in the dropbox. If the balance is net positive – then in it goes. Such is the case here. This is a collection of acapella versions of Futurehead songs and some oddball covers: “Meet Me Halfway” by The Black Eyed Peas, “The No.1 Song in Heaven” by Sparks, Richard Thompson’s “Beeswing” and the 13th century traditional English round “Sumer Is Icumen In.” I am old enough to remember when the Flying Pickets were releasing “Only You” (in 1984 – get a load of these bad clothes in the live video: http://youtu.be/aZkmKUTjIvM)) Not all of this works, but definitely worth checking out.

Whew…that was a load. Until next time (bonus points for naming the song – the band should be easy!)…. gabba gabba hey…

04.15.12

Today is Tax day in the U.S.A. but as I am on an extension, again, so here is a description of this week’s contributions in no particular order, except I’m covering the oldies first, then I’ll pick up the “newies.” Here is Part 1.

The Violent Femmes are an enigma because they were a small band (originally from Milwaukee) who released a debut album composed of demo tapes that received little radio play (except on college radio stations) that went platinum eight years later. The Femmes only played small clubs but toured incessantly in their original incarnation from 1980-1987 when the split up originally. This LP collection covers the album releases from this period. If you’ve never heard the Violent Femmes before then start with the first self-titled album. However, if you know who they are, then start with the second – Hallowed Ground. In reflection, this is my favorite record by the band, and easily the darkest. “Country Death Song” is as bleak a tune as ever recorded. See http://youtu.be/Lwj5_SNWYc8  Sometimes lead singer Gordon Gano’s voice sounds a little like Lou Reed, but the nasal quality is unmistakable and distinctive and influences every album in the collection. Gano’s voice is the instrument that made the Femmes a weird addition to the commercial oeuvre as no one would predict that this voice would ever sell a record. Really, could you picture Gordon Gano on The Voice or American Idol”?  The simple honest playing on Femmes records by bassist Brian Ritchie and percussionist Victor DeLorenzo with Gano’s guitar make these albums intoxicating and for punk rockers looking for something new after the demise of English punk rock and at the time, a rush of bands playing hardcore, the Femmes were in on the ground floor of a new generation of “roots based” bands reviving garage-rock, rockabilly, country, and folk and blues in new mixes. Other amazing bands in this “genre” at this time included the Blasters, Gun Club, The Beat Farmers (Yeah!!!), the and, of course, X. My favorite songs after all these years? I still love “Gone, Daddy Gone,” the aforementioned “Country Death Song,” “It’s Gonna Rain”, “No Killing”, “Nightmares”, and “American Music.” The cover of Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” is also pretty amazing.

The Blasters had a different take on roots music. This is traditional “Americana” as it is called today backed by solid playing and excellent musicianship. The honky-tonk piano and 50’s rock styling were an anachronism in 1981 when this record was released. Showcasing the Alvin Brothers – Dave and Phil, from Downey California, the band’s live shows were as sweaty as any rock shows as I ever attended, with a tight blues based, rockabilly leaning rock band playing it fast and furious. This record, their second, highlights the best of their take on classics including “So Long Baby Goodbye”, “I’m Shakin” and American Music. Check out this clip form the movie “Streets of Fire” featuring “One Bad Stud” and “Blue Fire: http://youtu.be/02uPCz1ECXs  For a great version of “American Music” from Farm Aid 1985: http://youtu.be/ByOUeb5p22o

If you knew me in the 80s, then you knew that I had sold my soul to the dBs. There was a time when college radio was looking for music that was not commercial but would still be popular. Punk had played out, and in America had not reached many kids at all. [I would insert a rant about how radio has missed amazing music in every generation with tons of example, but you already know this]. Power pop, really a derivative of garage rock and Alex Chilton, inspired a number of bands, the most significant being R.E.M. and the dBs. “The Sound of Music” is in fact their 4th and last proper record before their first breakup and is a classic. Peter Holsapple is directing the band at this point (Chris Stamey, their original singer had left after their second album, and Holsapple, with Gene Holder, and new bass player, Jeff Beninato. I saw this last tour at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles and was overwhelmed how amazing this band was live. Unable to hold it all together, with their label I.R.S. having financial difficulties, Holsapple disbanded the group. This album is a perfect record showcasing the “pop” side of “power pop. My favorites” I Lie”, “Think Too Hard”, and “Working For Somebody Else” but, really, I could have picked any song. As I noted last month, the original band is back together and a new LP is expected later this year. Simply amazing.

The last of the “oldies” in this week’s new releases, is by a band which is universally derided in the United States because of the one hit wonder label caused by having the fluke hit “Come on Eileen” in 1982. Kevin Roland started the band in 1978 after the breakup of fledgling punk band The Killjoys, formed Dexy’s (after Dexedrine – a form of Speed) that gave one the ability to dance all night, hence Midnight Runners. Disillusioned with punk, Rowland’s northern soul derivative act was an instant success in the U.K. where this LP reached number 6 in the U.K. charts and the single “Geno” reached number 1, all the while being ignored in the United States and Canada. There is not a bad track on this LP, but my favorites are “Thankfully Not Living In Yorkshire It Doesn’t Apply,” “Seven Days Too Long”, and “Tell Me When My Light Turns Green.”

Check out “Dance Stance” on disc 2 which lays out the bands manifesto. A great clip of Dexys performing “There There My Dear” from 1980 is here: http://youtu.be/l1e9YRXMrTQ

Stiff Little Fingers should need no introduction because they were the greatest of the so called Punk Bands from 1977. As you can see from this compilation, which will serve as an introduction to many of those here, they were essentially a rock and roll band with great songs. This is my favorite band of all time, so be careful with your comments. Unfortunately this band has been repackaged so many time, that compilations abound, but this one covers all of the basics and adds some newer tracks, like the amazing “Strummerville” a tribute to deceased Clash singer Joe Strummer. My favorites are “Suspect Device”, the Bob Marley cover “Johnny Was”, Barbed Wire Love” “Alternative Ulster” and “Gate 49.” Honestly, like the dBs, there is not a bad song in their repertoire, and I’ve not tired of any of these songs after almost 40 years! Check out the resemblance to me  here: “Johnny Was” http://youtu.be/awT3gwmiLX8

The last of the old groups, but a new album, is the Stranglers, Giants. An original “punk rock” group who started playing as a group in 1974 and who has morphed over the years into a unique guitar- keyboard dominated rock group, the Stranglers have always made interesting music. What made the Stranglers distinct was the bass playing of J.J. Burnell and the Hammond organ of Dave Greenfield combined with the solid drumming of Jet Black. Original singer, Hugh Cornwall left the band in 1990 more than 20 years ago. The 90s were a terrible period for the band, but this record, their 17th is in this week’s picks because this is truly a great Stranglers record. Guitarist Baz Warne (who joined in 2000) shares the vocals with Burnell and this record, in short – rocks. Original drummer, Jet Black remains behind the kit although he is 73 years old! They are also out on tour in England through the end of the year. The second CD is from their acoustic tour in 2011. Best tracks – the instrumental opener “Another Camden Afternoon”, “Giants”, and “Time Was Once On My Side.”

Now for the new stuff.

Starting off with fun’s Some Nights, this album picks up where their first left off with a fantastic “Bohemian Rhapsody” intro to the record on Some Nights. Fun is the successor band to the Format, which was lead singer Nate Ruess’ prior project which broke up in 2008. Note: I loved the Format. You either like fun or hate them. This is theatrical pop rock with classic elements thrown into the band’s sound. What got me was I could actually picture this band playing live and how much fun it would be to stand around in a dark theater waiting for the first notes to play as the band walks on stage. Released on February 21, 2012, the first single “We Are Young” is an ode to youthful excess and the consequences, apparently. There is a hip hop element but critics have overblown the relationship – this is interesting indie music distinctive and well performed. Check out “All Alone”, “We Are Young” and “Out on the Town.”

Alabama Shakes is now appearing at a Starbucks near you. The Alabama Shakes, named to distinguish them from another band named the Shakes, was formed in Athens Alabama in 2009. Like the Blasters and Violent Femmes, the Alabama Shakes updates the blues American rock sound extending ground traveled by the Black Keys and White Stripes with well written songs blending the roots with modern sounds. What is striking is the amazing voice of vocalist Brittany Howard whose style, in a way, is reminiscent of Tracy Chapman (See http://youtu.be/Orv_F2HV4gk   (Fast Car) with a hint of Aretha (Franklin). More than just hype, these songs are classic soul and rock songs. Check out this Led Zeppelin cover from March 30, 2012 of “How Many More Times”: http://youtu.be/uTwBPaRmSgA  . Best songs: “Heartbreaker”, “Hang Loose” and “You Ain’t Alone.”

American Aquarium is here because of the connection to Chris Stamey, former lead singer of the dBs mentioned earlier. As my practice is to collect everything connected to my favorite bands, this record produced by Chris Stamey, is the work of Raleigh, North Carolina’s BJ Barham who for the past 5 years has been bringing high energy, soul based southern rock to bars near his part of the country. Somewhat like Bruce Springsteen crossed with the Gaslight Anthem, this is working class “rock n roll” with story songs that bring characters to life, much in the same way that early Springsteen created tales to drape songs of work, struggle, hope and despair. I like “Queen of the Scene”, opening track “ Katherine Belle” and “Good Fight.” Here is “Cape Fear River” performed live: http://youtu.be/G1cNnE39BCI

Now for something a little harder. Brooklyn New York’s, A Place to Bury Strangers is essentially Joy Division on speed. This highly tuneful noise rock band formed in 2007 but is quickly gaining momentum with its melodic shoegaze psychedelic sound. This EP released February 6, 2012 is a great introduction to the band. Play loud for full effect. Best Tracks “Onwards to the Wall”, “I Lost You” and “Nothing Will Surprise Me.”

The Telephones have appeared in this box, last month. See Rock Kingdom 03.21.12. This EP carries off where the LP left off with hyper-kinetic sounds of people having fun. Check out “D.E.N.W.A.,” Sick Rocks (Too Fast Version), and the live version of “White Elephant (So Come on Version).”

The Men are also from Brooklyn, like A Place To Bury Strangers, but do not sound anything like them. Open Your Heart is the 2nd LP from these Pitchfork favorites (Pitchfork gave this LP an 8.5). This 4 piece punk rock band plays a unique version of melodic punk blending elements from every decade of punk rocks existence. Don’t let the hipster critic noise on the blog space frighten you off. This truly has a great sound and funny lyrics, just like punk rock should. Still playing basements and small clubs it is not too late to get on the band wagon. Reminds me a little of Husker Du at the beginning, tremendously played. See: http://youtu.be/KpATFtGfYR8  . So, if you like aggressive loud punk, then check these guys out. Best tracks: “Open Your Heart” (Sounds like the Buzzcocks “Noise Annoys”), the semi acoustic “Candy” (Think Jonathan Richman), and “Oscillation.”

Apparently Brooklyn is a popular place to write and create music. The third Brooklyn act this week is Sleigh Bells. You might actually have heard of Sleigh Bells which is according to Rolling Stone a “shred meets bubblegum duo” that went global with Treats their first record released in 2010. They are back with Reign of Terror and hoping to expand a little bit on their distinctive sound, Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss, acknowledge the balls to the wall sound of the first LP but have developed a more dynamic and somewhat better pacing to the tracks which highlight a better plan for this energetic twosome. Possessing a better sense of balance, this LP combines the best of what made Treats so enjoyable. Check out this video of Reign of Terror: http://vimeo.com/32696531  Then try, “Never Say Die” and “Crush” and “Comeback Kid.” Live here: http://youtu.be/hzYFi_iYXj0

04.14.12

I’m a little behind after taking a brief time out to do some family things (Hello Whistler!) so I’ve dropped in all the new stuff I’ve been listening to along with some old favorites, that a number of you have probably not had too much exposure, other than the odd song on the radio (I’m thinking the Violent Femmes here – Even I’m a little tired of “Blister in the Sun”). So, this week, you have the releases first. I’ll do the notes as the week goes along! So, as always, enjoy the tunes (a really wide variety this week) and feel free to leave requests or comments in the other notepad document. And away we go….

03.21.12

A boatload of new releases this week with a number of not-yet-released-soon-to-be-released titles from All American Rejects, The Shins, Paul Weller and MXPX. I’ve tried to balance the old with the new and there are some amazing new bands as well.

Starting with Canada’s Bronx Cheerleader, this St. Catherine’s Ontario bands, new release Real Punks Don’t Sing About Girls is a warm sounding indie record that glows with the sweet tones of Scott Warren’s vocals giving this a great “indie glow.” Try “Camelot,” “Ann Coulter” (great song title and a country edge) and “Low Man.”

Springsteen likely needs no introduction. Over a very diverse career, this latest set, the first without the living presence of Clarence Clemmons, is an interesting record and a return, of sorts, to the well-crafted songs that formed “the River”. “We Take Care Of Our Own” is a melodic and likely to be misunderstood song, much like “Born in The U.S.A.” is. Hard to miss where this song is headed with lyrics like:

Where’s the eyes, the eyes with the will to see

Where’s the hearts, they run over with mercy

Where’s the love that has not forsaken me

Where’s the work that set my hands, my soul free

Where’s the spirit to reign, reign over me (nice nod to the Who)

So when Broooce sings “we take care of our own” you get that we are not, right? Anyway, give this record a chance because there are some rewards for the risk. The album which is a mix of anger, despair, and directly political, is uncompromising and most of all interesting. Try “Wrecking Ball” and “Land of Hope and Dreams.”

Seattle based MXPX used to own the teen angst market with amazingly cool songs like ” Responsibility,”” Move to Bremerton” (http://youtu.be/vKtB1Oij-Eg ) and “Chick Magnet” ( http://youtu.be/QtnEtX-kzgo ), a much more mature band, that is not a full time gig (2 of the three currently work in the Seattle ship yard) is about to corner the adult angst corner with a dynamic and excellent new album that is on par with their earliest records. First single “Far Away” (http://youtu.be/GuHxxSKRCks ) is a straight ahead punk rocker that indicates the return to form for this record. This is a solid collection of punk rock (and a power pop tune as well) that is likeable on first listen. Try “Cast Down My Heart,” “Best Of Times,” and opener “Aces Up”.

The dBs who originally hailed from North Carolina were the greatest power pop band on the planet in the 80’s and early 90’s before their sad demise with a great live show. For those who are new to this band, they recorded the greatest pop single you have never heard: “Love is for Lovers” (http://youtu.be/IJlb9pC2v-I  )(really, you will hum this tune endlessly). Their catalog, which is long out of print, includes such amazing tunes such as: “Think Too Hard” (http://youtu.be/raROiox9SXw ), “Neverland” (http://youtu.be/hfpli2VQtZU ), “Judy” (http://youtu.be/4NuO4u5PV9E ) and “Amplifier” ( http://youtu.be/afSt2nzRO1M ). If you check out the last video, you will see that the dBs are back!. These two tracks are previews of their upcoming new release with the original 4 members. Enjoy! (Yes, I music geeked there a bit. It is back under control….stop talking to yourself).

I missed the Sleeper Agent record the first time listening, and then it turned up again in the rotation, and wow! This is amazing. Celebrasion is full of catchy pop punk tunes that will have you singing along. From the opener “Get It Daddy” through the closer “Far and Wide” there is not a duff track in the bunch, which is really a rarity. This is a very young band arising from Bowling Green Kentucky; with the 18-year-old front woman Alex Kandel sounding like Taylor Swift ( hi Eve!) and singing some pretty mature themed pop tuneage. A little overproduced at time, this will be dismissed as mall punk, but there is really something good and fun at its core. Not necessarily a bad thing. Try, “Far and Wide”, “Get Burned” (http://youtu.be/4Qz0m5IYh10  ) and “Get it Daddy.”

In a similar vein, Stillwater Oklahoma’s All American Rejects, have been around much longer, playing irresistible power pop since 1999. This album, only their 4th, is again an assemblage of well-crafted songs highlighting the pleasant vocals of lead singer Tyson Ritter. This record, which is not released until next week (March 26), stays the course with songs that are hook laden and contain the “sing-alongs” of past releases but there is a noticeable nod to the 80’s on several of the tracks. Try “Kids in the Street” (http://youtu.be/IZBEK8vrP4c  ), “Fast and Slow” and “Gonzo.”

Sticking on a noticeable theme – oldsters with new records, the latest from the mod father, Paul Weller who was former lead singer of the greatest mod band ever The Jam as well as a former singer of the not so mod Style Council (think soulelectrorockjazz) releases his new record “Sonic Kicks” is the U.S. (UK Release was March 19) Here is a guy who has possibly more number 1 albums and singles than any other artist in the UK, but is unknown in America. Anyway, while not everything on this record works, there is enough to warrant inclusion in this week’s collection. Normally, I’d give some picks, but really, this is a fairly good record, a little experimental, and somewhat challenging. In short, a discovery record. However, skip “”Study in Blue” which has this bizarre middle section that is frankly, annoying. The Guardian labeled it jazz reggae, but it is a load that should have been extricated from the final track.

Next on the list is Albuquerque, New Mexico’s The Shins new record “Port of Morrow” which came out yesterday. The difficulty here is trying not to compare it with the previous hit record New Slang which was released in 2004. It has been 5 years since the Shins released Wincing the Night Away with James Mercer, essentially the band, taking an extended timeout with Broken Bells. This record captures the early melodic tilt of the early Shin’s records, but reflects a much more mature individual approach to songwriting with a delicate balance between old and new. In short, if you liked the Shins early releases, you will like this one. This is the fully loaded version, with bonus tracks and an Acoustic EP. Check out “Simple Song,” “Bait and Switch” and “Fall of ’82”. (See if you can recognize the influences!).

Arctic Monkeys are a sadly neglected often brilliant band whose B-Sides are better than most artists A sides. Doubt me? Check out “Early B-Sides” and discover why the early hype surrounding this band created hysteria in England and the surrounding territories. “Stickin’ to the Floor”, “On The Run From the MI5” and “Wavin Bye To The Train Or The Bus” simply rock.

To explain Ben Kweller, is difficult. For a guy who is only 30 and has 15 years of experience under his belt, this record is everything the last couple of records are – technically proficient pop rock records consisting of likeable songs. I like every song on the record. The problem is that it is difficult to listen to the whole record at one time. The saccharine level is very high, and as well all know: Too much sugar makes us sick. So here is a suggestion – add tracks to your iPod or other music playing device and sort the tunes randomly. You won’t be disappointed because this album does have a number of gems. “Mean to Me” “Jealous Girl” and “Gossip” are standouts.

Even if the band were not named after an Undertones song (and John Peel’s favorite all time song at that), Toronto’s Teenage Kicks, actually sound Canadian. This EP touches classic rock in places, particularly the Creedence Clearwater Revival song structures, but the EP has a very contemporary feel although clearly roots rock based. Fronted by former member of Most Serene Republic, Peter van Helvoort with his brother, Jeff, this is a good ride. Start with “Middle of the Night”, “Shook Your Bones,” and “Setting Son”.

Atlanta’s Gaye Blades, are garage rock ala Fleshtones, featuring members of the Black Lips, Gentleman Jesse and his Men and the Carbonas, who revive garage rock with a touch of Mojo Nixon. Look for “Jesus Didn’t Try Hard Enough To Save My Life,” “Don’t Get Married” and the spectacular “Cry Of The Castrati” if you have any doubts. Start the BBQ, get some beer, and invite the Gaye Blades along!

The Hundred Days… are the Cure. Not really, ( good pun, huh) but why else name yourself after “Hundred Years”, or was it the Hundred Days of Napoleon (marking the period between Emperor Napoleon I of France’s return from exile on Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815 (a period of 111 days))? Anyway, there is a touch of Robert Smith’s vocal presence in lead singer Jonathan Smith that overlays the catch 80’s influences present in this San Francisco bands catchy pop. This is an upbeat record that moves like a hit machine. “Tattoo Girl”, “ Sex U,” (http://youtu.be/tJkbhqufe60  ) “ Disaster” all are movers and shakers as is the opener “ Girl At A Party” (http://youtu.be/BhBtjBZpwnY  ).

 While I’m not normally fond of Swedish Electro-pop, it is difficult to find fault with Pusher’s Art of Hit Music. All of the tracks are sweet, catchy and stuff you would normally hear on pop format radio, except that in the U.S. that means more Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, LMFAO, and others in the same ilk. In a bigger world, this gets play. From opener “Blinded by the Dark” (Number 1 on Swedish iTunes) (see it live here: http://youtu.be/NC9YJBBakEU  ) each song, really is the goods. It takes some cojones (look it up if you are from Canada) to call your album The Art of Hit Music but this really is hit music. No irony here. Even if the band’s name is Pusher. Check out the tongue in cheek “Wonderful Day To Die”, “Fainted Hearts” the melody is stuck in my head) and “Fallen Soldier.” These are the Hives restructured as a pop hit machine.

The Spits make this week’s releases, because I miss the Ramones and needed a little pick me up. The Spits, are from Seattle, like MXPX, and mine that uniquely American punk rock first traversed by the Ramones, the Angry Samoans, skate punk pioneers Agent Orange, and JFA (Jody Foster’s Army) . Try “Electric Brain”, “Fallout Beach” and “Brick by Brick” (not the Arctic Monkeys song) and 49 seconds of pure genius “Fed Up”.

Everyone should own at least one horror rock record devoted to Zombies (really Zombiis as I’ve recently learned), voodoo, and Halloween and this is that record (unless you already own everything by the Misfits).  “Santa Claus is a Pedophile” caught my attention, as who is creative enough to write a song devoted to Saint Nick. However, aside from the highly inappropriate lyric, the music is catchy, horror punk created by clowns based in, where else Cleveland OH (you might wonder about the where else comment, but really, you checked out the Cramps record a month or so ago, right?  Singer Lux Interior (RIP) http://www.cleveland.com/music/index.ssf/2009/02/akron_native_and_cramps_frontm.html  was born in Akron, and started playing in Cleveland) that is well worth the listen. “Zombie Midget Stripper,” “I Was a Teenage Frankenstein”, and the classic “Dead Girls Don’t Say No” are a good place to start. WARNING: This record is not for people who are sensitive to foul language, inappropriate lyric content, or are morally pure.

In a 180 degree turn, the Telephones are fun for everyone. “Rock Kingdom” by Japanese band the Telephones, rock harder than you do, with way more fun. I know, you are saying to yourself, that pure …bull…sorry, hyperbole. Not true. Follow this link to see “Yeah Yeah Yeah” (http://youtu.be/vwwucy5gxOY  ) Did you follow it? Go back and do so. You will be a convert. This is a great record. I liked them all, but after the aforementioned, “Yeah Yeah, Yeah”, listen to “Disco Age Monsters”, “A A U U O O O” and “Crash the TV.”

The Lords of Altamont are a rock, oops ROCK band from LA. Normally this type of music is not in my wheelhouse for music, but I was a little caught off guard by the power of this album. While they are mis-categorized as punk, they do have Harry Drumdini (formerly of the Cramps – see there are connections in this tome), this is catchy garage rock music featuring former members of the Fuzztones and Bomboras  that I would love to see live, except that old people don’t pit, and these guys are playing only small clubs. Midnight to 666 is the groups 4th record, and hovers in the psychedelic garage rock world first mined by the Fuzztones and the 5 other bands, singer Jake “Preacher” Cavaliere has been a member. Surprisingly, these guys have been around since 1999, but this record may break them big. Here are my favorites: “F.F.T.S.,” “Get In The Car” and “Soul For Sale.”

Who says that there is nothing great in Minsk, Belarus? The Toobes are a power trio with Phil Collins …sorry…. a drummer as their lead singer. These guys actually played Glastonbury, the world’s largest music festival. “Let’s Dance,” “Crap on The Radio” and “Mama” all have that Jimi Hendrix feel, and this record is a great change of pace. Throw it on at a party. In time, could this be the next Rush?

Veronica Falls are an indie pop band from London with a great boy-girl harmony thing going on that reminds me of other great boy-girl harmony bands such as X, White Stripes, Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo. While I like all the songs on this collection of demos, “Stephen”, Found Love in a Graveyard, and “Starry Eyes.”

The last 2 records in this week’s list are reissues of sorts. The first, because I was talking about this band with AK when he visited with his lovely daughter Leilani, is the Hoodoo Gurus a band from Australia who was sadly neglected in the U.S. but wrote some amazing college “alternative” records in the 80’s. This is a greatest hits package, so you should like all of the tracks. I actually own 5 copies on vinyl of the Stoneage Romeos LP. I never get tired of listening to this band. My favorites, “Leilani” of course, “My Girl” and I Want You Back” are can’t miss, “Bittersweet”, “Good Times” and “What’s My Scene are classics. Look, I picked more than 3 songs!! I could have picked more!

Finally, you either really like the Decemberists or you hate them. I get that. It may be the R.E.M. feel to the music. I don’t know.  This live record showcases, I think the best of them. So, rather than speculate as to why people hate them. Okay, Colin Meloy is a weirdo, give this a spin. “Down By The Water”, “Calamity Song”, “This is Why We Fight” are worth the price of admission.

Until next time… I want you to know … despite my appearance at this function, I remain now, and will always be, a Duckman.

03.02.12

RH contributed 2010’s, 65daysofstatic LP We Were Exploding Away (Released April 26, 2010) with its companion disc of outtakes from those sessions, the Heavy Sky EP, which at 34 minutes is as long as most full length albums. I have also included the Japanese version of the EP which includes a wordless version of “Come to Me”, an alternative version of “Wrong Shape” and a new track, “String Loop”.  Their catalog traverses the instrumental/math rock genre which most followers would acknowledge 65days have become the leader. Check out “Come to Me” featuring the Cure’s Robert Smith, “Dance, Dance, Dance,” and “Tiger Girl.”

An excellent live version is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjjXWgjsSa0&feature=related

Most importantly, the LP sounds great in the car!

Finally, let me know if you missed something and I will supply.

02.28.12

I was listening to a DVD full of music I burned at the end of last year and I admittedly missed a few things that in hindsight were pretty darn good. So, you have them here this week because it is never too late for something interesting, eh? You might have noticed that this group contains a few “We Are” bands: We Are Augustines, We Are The In Crowd, and We Are The Union.

We Are Augustine’s debut was released in June of last year in digital only format. However, they picked up an Australian release late last year and are now showing up in the U.S., notably on The Late Show with David Letterman, last Friday. Check out video for “Book of James” here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsw4Xp8Fl3A . I was hooked by the end of the opener “Chapel Song” and as the opening vocal hook of “Augustine” quickly followed (Check out the similarity to Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem). I also loved “Juarez,” it reminds me of another band, but I can’t place my finger on it now. Maybe later.

The second of the We Are group is We Are The In Crowd, whose debut album (although they released a great EP in 2010 (Guaranteed to Disagree)) is a pop punk band ala Fall Out Boy. Opener “Rumor Mill” could have come straight off a Fall Out Boy record. This isn’t a challenging record, with a tip of the hat to Blink 182, MxPx, and similar bands, but there is something refreshing about a pure pop punk record with dueling harmonies and sing-along choruses. Try not to think too hard about the lyrics which cover the typical teen angst and issues. Sometimes it is just fun to hum along. Think Paramore without Hayley Williams. Best Tracks “Better Luck Next Time,” “Kiss Me Again,” the cover of “Grenade” and “Rumor Mill” (including the acoustic version).

The last We Are band is We Are The Union. This is just an EP and was way too short. You can hear the ska punk influences, but the description on absolutepunk.net is probably more accurate: We Are The Union plays faster than a stripper with no husband and multiple children, yet still manages to keep tunes stuck in your head. This is harder edge skunk than Less Than Jake. The best track on this EP is “Do What You Love” but the cover of the Descendants “Thank You” is also great and will have you singing along. Also, you can’t go wrong with a track called “I Am John Cusack” in your repertoire. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5PzosonOyU

Next on the hit parade is Cheap Girls, new release Giant Orange. For those of you old enough to remember Overwhelming Colorfast, I swear Cheap Girls are the same band. Based in Lansing Michigan, Cheap girls, have a touch of X, Dinosaur Jr. and late 80’s early nineties punk influences with a modern pop sound. “Gone All Summer” is an amazing opener with a classic pop chorus layered in a wall of guitar. Check out “Cored to Empty”, “Manhattan on Mute” and “If You Can’t Swim.” Then check out Overwhelming Colorfast doing “She Said She Said” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxE_JtDGIOI 1992 was a great year!

If you are not yet familiar with Band of Skulls then shame on you. They are almost popular, after having a track included on the Twilight: New Moon Soundtrack. Based in Southampton, Band of Skulls first album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, made them critical darlings (particularly in NME), but you can hear on these two latest releases, the influence of playing with the Dead Weather, as these are indie rock tunes of the highest quality. I’ve included the EP from the new album as well. Check out “You’re Not Pretty But You’ve Got it Going On”, “The Devil Takes Care of His Own”, and “Bruises”.

Eaux Autres (trans: Them Others) sing in English! This is classic indie pop with a clean bright sound. Starting with “Right Again” and “Broken Record” this Brother/Sister (Heather and Nicholas Larimer) combo with YoshiNakamoto (The Aislers Set, Still Flyin’) on drums have been around since 2003. This EP is released officially today! VersaEmerge is a Florida based pop punk act, who released this EP essentially to showcase the vocal talents of Sierra Kusterbeck, which are spectacular. This EP has a version of “Toxic” which was covered by Brittany Spears. Okay, I know Brittany did the original version, so don’t email me. You can check out this better version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_C20oV2s4o . There is also a Katy Perry cover of “ET” on this EP as well.

Moving into a totally different area of music – pure pop, is Megan Washington’s new release, Insomnia. A huge megastar in Australia, and of course, unheard of in America, this EP is a follow up to platinum selling I Believe You Liar released two years ago in Australia. She says she will only sing these songs four times except “Holy Moses” and “Plastic Bag”. However, I think the best track on this EP is “Sentimental Education” which is a lovely, heartfelt, dynamic track. Check out more here: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/dream-turns-into-fog-of-sleeplessness-20120105-1pmo2.html

Waters new release Out in the Light continues where Port O’Brien (Van Pierszalowski’s former band) left off. As a solo project Van gets all of the control, and in many ways, this is a starting point for an exploration of Van’s touchstone influences ( read Dylan, Fleetwood Mac – check out “San Francisco”, but don’t let those images scare you. I said touchstone – not sounds like.) This is an album you will play when the mood strikes you for beautifully crafted folk pop. Best of the record? “O Holy Break of Day,” “Mickey Mantle” and “Ones You had Before.”

Whisperlights, hail from Phoenix AZ, and their style of fun sugary pop is catchy, harmonic (I love harmony), and well-crafted that moves at a good pace. There are some gems on this album, including “Turn It Around” and “Lucky.” Give this one a chance.

I was torn in deciding to put Boston’s Will Dailey & the Rivals in this week’s releases. Why? Not all the album works, but there is something about the sunshine of some of the songs. His voice is unique and a couple of the songs are pure pop rock. Opener “How Good it Feels”, and second track “Big Bright Sun”, are classic pop rock songs. A good rock record doesn’t come around often, so add this to your list if the mood strikes you. As I said, this record kind of grew on me.

Same goes with You Me At Six. This is an atypical selection for me as this is more metal influenced than I usually like in a record. Out of Surrey UK, You Me At Six are a good rock band. Don’t let the beginning of the record fool you. “Loverboy” is a catchy throwaway, but track 2 ” Jaws on the Floor” and track 3 “Bite My Tongue” are solid rock songs, that in some ways remind me of Against Me (go figure). I sat listening to this record while K&J were taking a piano exam at Cal Poly this weekend. I guess timing is everything.

Similarly situated in this atypical group of new music is Young Statues debut, a record that took several plays to grow on me. This acoustic EP from the Philadelphia based band is being given away on a “name your price” basis. Start with “Bumblebee” and “Pretty Girls Make Raves” (A play on Pretty Girls Make GravesPretty Girls Make Graves was a post-punk band, formed in Seattle in 2001, named after The Smiths song of the same name, which itself was named after a quote from Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums).

Austin Texas band, Wiretree, is a really good rock band. That’s it. Give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed.

The rest of the releases included this week traverse some different territories for me (but you will see the connection, I’m confident). The iTunes set from Young the Giant (radio hit is “My Body”) is interesting, because although the music is really not my style, this set is fun and dynamic and you can see that they are actually accomplished musicians, and not altogether boring.

The last release, by Wolf Gang, Suego Faults (essentially Max McElligott) kind of snuck up on me as I listened to it a few times. It was probably opening track “Lions in Cages” that set the tone, because once I had digested that pleasant gem, the rest of the album quickly passed and I found it easy to sing-a-long with the rest of the electro-pop songs. NME gave this record 8/10, and it definitely is a very good record. “Something Unusual” and the title track “Suego Faults” are truly terrific songs.

A little longer summary than usual, but I’ve uploaded a bit more music as I have some more free space. Enjoy the rest of your week. Until next time…I’m outta here!) (from the 40 Year old Virgin: If she starts waxing his pubes, I’m outta here…)

02.10.12

I was feeling a little nostalgic, so this week is a little heavy in the “oldies” department. Hmm. might be because Valentine’s Day is approaching. Nope, that’s not it. Anyway, first up are two records by one of the greatest bands ever. The Replacements, had it all…punk credibility, rock star excess, and a guy who could craft some amazing tunes. For those of you old enough to remember, the Mats as their fans called em’ were lovably sloppy and unpredictable and their concerts (at least the two I was lucky enough to attend, drunken love fests). These two records are replete with great songs. I was hooked when Hootenanny came out in 1983 with “Color Me Impressed,” Within Your Reach” and the classic “Lovelines.” Imagine my surprise when Let It Be was released with not one, I repeat, not one, song on the album not rising to the level of amazing. ( check out how three negatives make a positive). Starting with “I will Dare” the Let it Be is simply a hit machine. My favorites in addition to the aforementioned track being “Androgynous,” “Black Diamond” (A Kiss Cover), “Unsatisfied” and “Answering Machine.”

Second on the list of nostalgic records, is The Gun Club‘s second LP – Miami. Jeffrey Lee Pierce (RIP) was a former president of the Blondie Fan Club, who with the assistance of Cramps drummer Kid Congo Powers (leaving before  recording the first LP), and Debbie Harry herself (“D.H. Laurence Jr.”), is blues tortured punk and Miami was the culmination of that experiment. Rarely do I suggest playing a record in order, but this one is the rare exception. Starting with “Carry Home,” shortly followed by “Run Through the Jungle” and “A Devil in the Woods” and finishing with “The Fire of Love” Sleeping in Blood City and “Mother Earth” the record is a powerful statement of a sound unique in the punk rock world.

I have included a new reissue (one of hundreds) of the Cramps for comparison. Like Jeffrey Lee Pierce, the Cramps leader, Lux Interior, was an oldies aficionado, whose love of early rockabilly, garage rock, and roots rock, is evidenced in this collection. I used to buy LPs once in a while from Lux and Ivy (Poison Ivy Rorschach) at the Pasadena Swap Meet where the sold old clothing, artifacts, and sometimes music. Lux passed away last year. Bummer. Anyway, for those who are new to this genre, the Cramps are credited with starting the “psychobilly” genre – think Punk Rockabilly with Goth hair! Cramps shows were wild. Check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwvjj1dI5xk&feature=related  The CrampsShe Said (Live 1981). This is a greatest hits type of package, because during these first three years, everything the Cramps did was a hit (at least to me).

(Thought it was about time to attempt a paragraph break in these release notes…punctuation is still a work in progress)

As for the new stuff, there is some pretty good stuff kicking around. The Ting Tings new record, which is their first since 2008, is to be released on February 27 in the U.K. and March 13 in the U.S. This is a catchy, rockin’ pop record. I think that “Soul Killing” will be a hit. Other great tracks are” Hang it Up” and “Give it Back.” Not all of this works, but still I enjoyed the change of pace.

Next Up is He is We’s Skip To The Good Parts EP. Not sure I like the band name, but I loved this record. He is We hail from Tacoma and Rachel Taylor’s voice is made for the sugar that this duo is delivering. This is really ear candy. How this is not on radio is beyond me. I have frequently made this observation because radio for, oh… more than 40 years, has missed the boat with regard to diversity and new music. Warning: Too much He is We will lead to a sugar overdose. Start with “Tell Me.”

Afterglow Radio is as indie as it gets.This was a kickstarter funded album. It is definitely Alternpop, and pretty catchy. The music is a little faceless, kind of like what Average White Band was in the 70’s. (Who?) The piano makes this kind of fall into the Fray/ Augustana/ Metro Station type of pop adventure. However, this record sounds great in the car, is highly melodic, and would fit comfortably on the “One Tree Hill” soundtrack.

Hit the Lights, is a good punk pop band from Ohio (Really?). They have been around awhile, and this record, released January 31, is their first for Razor & Tie. This stuff is in the vein of Sugarcult i.e straight forward hook laden pop punk sing-a-longs. Try “So Guilty,” and “Take Control.”

Howler, based in Minneapolis, is garage rock ala Fleshtones as filtered through the Strokes and Jesus and Mary Chain (“Back to the Grave”). Perhaps a bit of the Beach Boys as well. “Wailing (Making Out”) sounds like Fun, Fun, Fun, in the background.

Brooklyn is in the house! (okay, a little clichéd). Brooklyn based Ichicuts has no following, no real public presence, just some web references and apparently work live via the bedroom tour. However, the LP has a big sound for a two piece, and plays indie rock with a slight soul tinge. I’d see them in a small club, if they would actually let me in. I used to be underage, now I am overage.

Finally, I’ve included Wilco’s iTunes session. Why? I like Wilco, and because I have liked Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind” since it was released in 1979.

Until next time, “let’s be careful out there!” (Obscure Hill Street Blues reference)

01.27.12

An interesting week following the shutdown of Megaupload.com, a cyberlocker utilized by almost everyone in the world for file storage. In the aftermath, a number of sites have gone offshore, eliminating access by persons living in the United States. Notwithstanding the shutdown, I have included some new releases this week which should be of interest.

First up is the new Anti-Flag release The General Strike. If you like melodic punk rock, give these guys a try. Anti-Flag’s brand of punk rock reaches back to the roots of punk and is always political. You may not agree with the sentiment, or even care about the issues, but it is catchy as hell.

In a completely different vein, Cage The Elephant (now extremely popular) were once unknown to the rest of the world, make same blues based rock music that is also catchy, not political, and a generally good time. I know most of you know the hits “Shake Me Down” and “Aberdeen” but the gem on this record is the spot on cover of the Talking Heads classic “Psycho Killer.”

I gave you Nada Surf’s new record last time, but I can’t get enough of the timeless melodies – now acoustic. Check out “Looking Through” and the beautiful “Waiting for Something.”

Sleeper Agent’s record – Celebrasion was out in September 2011, but I somehow missed it. As you can see, this is kind of a cross between the pixies rubbed in Cage the Elephant, which makes sense since they are products of the same scene in Kentucky.

The Raconteurs probably need no introduction, but just in case, here is the short version: Jack White (of White Stripes) owns Third Man Records, which is now a record store in Nashville, TN. Brendan Benson (Solo – lots of records: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brendan_Benson ) , Jack White, Patrick Keeler (Greenhornes)and Jack Lawrence (Greenhornes, Dead Weather) are all sort of famous in the Indie scene, for good reason. This is a catchy live record in an intimate space.

If you missed the Stone Roses, then do not fear, this is the 20th Anniversary version of perhaps one of the greatest debuts of all time. Pioneers of the Manchester Scene of the late 80’s early 90’s, this album is amazing. Really – $%@% amazing. I still play this regularly. You’ll see. You will be a believer. I wanna be adored too! Finally, I’ve dumped in Indie Playlist.com’s best of 2011 so you can compare notes. There is also Pitchfork’s Top 100 songs as well. Don’t live in the past too long though. The future is tomorrow!

Have a great week! (See, repeat catch phrases are good too!)

01.15.12

Catching up after a busy week, I’ve dropped in some things from last year that were pretty darn good, and a couple of things from this year that are brand spanking new. Starting with last year, I went back and listened to INXS new album Original Sin which I first thought was a reissue of the single from 1984. However, upon re-examination the album is a re-imagined reworking of their greatest hits with a number of guest vocalists. I was frankly skeptical, because the original hits with Michael Hutchence are etched permanently in my mind. However, the re-imagined hits are really well done and while some will remind you of the original songs, the majority, are unique renditions that are beautifully executed. The best in my mind, are Never Tear Us Apart (Ben Harper), Kick (Norah Jones) and Beautiful Girl (Pat Monahan).

Portugal the Man are originally from Alaska but now are quartered in Portland. In the Mountain is their 6th record (So if you haven’t heard of them before this note – find all of the other records) which continues the progress made on the previous releases. This record is a mix of T-Rex, the Beach Boys, a dash of the Beatles, and Bowie, played through a psychedelic band. Give it a listen and then you’ll get what I’m talking about. Check out “So American”, “Everything You See (Kids Count Hallelujah)”, and Got it All (This Can’t Be Living Now).”

Girl in a Coma (a nod to the Smiths but sound nothing like it), is an all-girl power trio from San Antonio who play a mix of blues based indie Americana rock. This record sparkles with the simple elegant guitar playing, and terrific vocals. “She had a Plan” and “Cemetery Baby” touch a little on early Blondie land, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Who says there is nothing great in Cleveland after LeBron took his talents to Miami? Cloud Nothings, is 19 year old Dylan Baldi now with a full band, playing power pop with a punch. If you heard earlier releases which were essentially bedroom lo-fi, this record rocks. ‘Wasted Days,” “Stay Useless,” and “Separation” are frenetic hook laden guitar songs. It is obvious that Steve Albini (Nirvana producer, and Big Black head honcho) brought out the inner animal. This record is supposed to come out January 24, 2012 but you have it a little early. After thinking a little about the sound, I can hear the Wipers (amazing Portland punk band from the 80’s) but I doubt Dan has heard of them. Steve definitely has, and shaped the songs into garage pop nuggets.Thoroughly enjoyable.

In a similar vein (one man bands), Into Over It is Evan Weiss, and Proper is his first proper album. This is a emo pop punk record with catchy hooks and choruses. “Midnight Carroll Street” and “Fortunate Friends” are great places to start, but the entire record is worth a listen.

Office of Future Plans is the latest from J. Robbins (who is really old 🙂 as he was in Government Issue, Jawbox, Burning Airplanes, Channels – See a ton of bands). This is a melodic alternative rock record highlighted by a return to the angular early 90’s guitar sound. Most of the record work, so give it a chance. Best bets are the opener, “Salamander,” “Fema Coffin” and “The Loyal Opposition.”

Next, I love the Static Jacks, a New Jersey Band, that play an interesting mix of early Cure meets X meets Dave Alvin rock. I have played track 7, “Mercy Hallelujah” perhaps 100 times. Check out the video which is on Youtube (no link you must be 18 to view!). I love this entire record!.

I have added a couple of true power pop records this week as well. An old one for those of you who missed Jellyfish in the 90’s, Fanclub is a 4CD box that encompasses early demos and rarities by the band, which are highlighted by guitarist Jason Falkner. Viewed nearly 20 years later, these demos are amazing.

In the same vein Secret Powers, are modern purveyors of power pop, and this record touches all of the bases. Check out the amazing “Candy” which sounds like an Alex Chilton throwaway. Sugar is not as sweet as the stuff on this record.

The Rationales are also power pop, but mine the 80’s variant as opposed to the 70’s derivative pushed forward by Secret Powers. This is more an alternative power pop showing off the Boston hometown influence. Layered vocal harmonies and straight forward guitar playing complement the well written songs.

I note the Rationales site Nada Surf as one of their influences, so it is timely that Nada Surf has a new record released this month, which is included here. Nada Surf formed in the early 90’s and has been playing its form of Indie pop (think Death Cab for Cutie) for almost 20 years. This new record is true to form, with great songwriting and catchy melodies.

Last, and certainly not least are two more great bands – The Pack A.D. and Wild Flag.

The Pack A.D. hail from Vancouver B.C. and play an exciting brand of garage rock. This duo, consists of singer/songwriter/guitarist Becky Black and drummer/songwriter Maya Miller, push out a huge sound.

Wild Flag, is essentially a super group consisting of former members of Sleater-Kinney, Helium, and the Minders. This record really continues the Sleater-Kinney legacy, with amazing tunes of garage punk rock. Check out “Boom” which is a cross between Nina Hagen and Patti Smith. Really a fun record.

Mando Diao have been around for quite a while and really popular in Sweden (where they are from) and Japan (where they are not), but have never seemed to break into the U.S. Perhaps those Canadians who are part of this dropbox can vouch for them, but I never get tired of their records. This is a greatest hits, arranged somewhat chronologically. Track 06 “Welcome Home, Luc Robitaille”, and “Mister Moon” are good places to start. At times reminds me of the Afghan Whigs Greg Dulli, but these are great pop garage songs and a nice introduction to the band you probably missed.

Now, really last for this week is the Living Kills from New York who bring back the garage sound birthed here. If you are old enough to recall the Seeds, Fuzztones, Fleshtones, Thirteen Floor Elevators, then you will know what is going on here. Fascinating! So, there you have it – a little something for everyone this week.

Play loud! (What? no great?)

01.02.12

Always interested in a little different perspective, so this week, I’ve included the Top 20 Albums of 2011 from Pitchfork.com – a website that over the past fifteen years or so has championed indie music (in a wide variety of genres) but at times its review panel and I disagree significantly on the rating of records reviewed on the website. Stuff they have loved, I have not :-). All that said, this Top 20 is fairly interesting and you should find some gems.

I probably would not have picked Bon Iver’s second record as album of the year, but it is also not my style – very slow. Check out, the records from Dan Bejar’s Destroyer (from Vancouver B.C. – where I went to college). Probably better known for his other band The New Pornographers, this album is Destroyer‘s 16th release and 9th album, is a trip back to the mid 80’s altern-a-pop but works fairly well.

Also check out 90’s icon, PJ Harvey’s new record which was Uncut’s album of the year. If you liked PJ Harvey before, you’ll love this record.

GirlsFather, Son, Holy Ghost was in the dropbox earlier this year – before I started writing these notes. This is a really great record but it takes time to adjust to the weird variety on the album. Figures these guys are from San Francisco. Check out “Vomit” which at 6:37 is long in this age of pop singles. Think Pink Floyd’s “Dark side of the Moon” crossed with the Beach Boys. The guitar work is delicate and classic – this should be in a movie soundtrack somewhere.

Other records to check out in this Top 20 are Kurt Vile, from Philadelphia, who is a little “Westerbergian” ( Paul Westerberg – lead singer of the Replacements – one of the the best bands of the 80’s  – in my top 5!). Some say Springsteen (Nebraska), but the songs on this album are well crafted indie pop songs. St. Vincent (really Annie Clark) is a pretty magnificent record with lush melodies, great guitar work, and lyrically challenging. Don’t be fooled by the sunny melodies as underlying them are some significant statements reflecting a not so thinly disguised anger at her inability to resolve several psychological and emotional conflicts. (Listen to the record first, then go find the lyrics. NOT a sing along record).

Finally, check out Atlas Sound which is the solo project of Deerhunter‘s Bradford Cox. This is a significant departure from Deerhunter. This one took me some time to get into as it is very much a bedroom record. However, as I had it playing in the car on a long drive, I was struck by the mood created by the songs. Start with “The Shakes” (which kind of reminds me of New Zealand 80’s band the Chills) and then “Amplifiers.” Then play the record and enjoy! These were the ones that struck me as most interesting. The albums are all are reviewed http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/8727-the-top-50-albums-of-2011/

Have a great New Year! (I sense a pattern developing….)

12.16.11

Closing in to the end of the year and finally getting a chance to catch up on some releases that I missed earlier in the year. Fitz & The Tantrums had a huge local hit with “Moneygrabber” but the rest of the record is just as good. If you missed it the first time around, check out this throwback to a much earlier time with an updated sound.

Speaking of earlier time, check out the Ben Vaughn compilation Mood Swings (90-85 & More). Before Ben found a great day job writing theme music for television: “3rd Rock From The Sun,” “That 70s Show” and provided award-winning music for a dozen other TV shows and pilots  (“Men Behaving Badly”, “Normal, Ohio”, “Grounded For Life”). He also provided scores for several films (“Psycho Beach Party”, “The Independent”, “Scorpion Spring”) and continued producing records (Ween, Los Straitjackets, “Swingers” soundtrack CD). How come you haven’t heard of him before today?  I don’t know. I actually saw him perform a solo show at Rhino Records in 1987 just after I first moved here.

Another oldie that produced a couple of great records, Weezer recently performed their first two records in Seattle. Here it is.

Moving from the oldies to the newies, The Black Keys probably need no introduction, but they also play updated “old” music. This record is not as good as the last, but still pretty darn good.

Oh Mercy, is an Australian band whose first record Privileged Woes was awesome, follow up the first with an even better record. This is a terrific Indie pop record with well-crafted songs. Heck, play this one first.

Cymbals Eat Guitars is kind of a cruddy name, but the album moves spritely (nice word, eh?) along with great hooky New York styled alternative rock. I think you’ll likey!

The Midway State hail from a country without states: Canada. From Toronto, this Juno nominated band’s 2nd album is a diamond in the rough. Check out “Atlantic.”

Finally, compiled by someone with way more time than me, is a compilation of new releases for December. Have fun … and I’ll be back to you in January.

Have a great holiday! Kelly

12.08.11

Sorry it has been awhile, but I think the wait will have been worth it. In this week’s new stuff, there is a bit more punk rock than usual…but it is great!.

The Anti-flag Complete Control Session is AF doing Clash cover songs. Not a good as the original but the version of “White Riot” is excellent.

Cobra Skulls sounds a bit like Stiff Little Fingers, only played faster. On the old front, I put the Rifles latest in the box a couple of months ago, but found the two earlier records. If you start with The Dreams of a Bumblebee from 2005 the Rifles sound like a Jam cover band. Thoroughly enjoyable. By The Great Escape The Rifles are on par with the Jam’s finest moments, with several outstanding tunes including “Fool to Sorrow”, The Great Escape” and “For the Meantime.” A Classic Record.

For those of you not familiar with the Bodeans they are best described as an alternative roots rock band who enjoyed some success in the 90’s. I loved this record…so here it is for you!.

Go Set Go is a great pop punk band from Highland Park California. They have a pretty good concept of fun time rock and the two records here are great.  However, fair warning: Track 2 on Fury of Your Lonely Heart called Fury of Your Lonely Heart is highly misogynistic and contains some inappropriate language. Skip this if you are sensitive. Start with Track 5 “Racecar” and work your way forward. Then come back and play tracks 1, 3 and 4. 🙂

French Films is an indie pop band from Finland. I loved this record. Singer sounds a little like Ian Curtis from Joy Division, but the music is catchy pop music. Check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Beivu9Qnk5A

The last two, Broadway Calls, a punk rock band from Oregon (Rainier, I think) and Big Troubles (from Brooklyn) are great rock records. Big Troubles is produced by Mitch Easter – musician and 90’s rock god who was a member of Let’s Active and responsible for R.E.M (which could be good or bad depending on whether you liked R.E.M.’s first 2 records!) I’ve included R.E.M.’s last release so you can compare.

Finally, the clowns that are Bowling for Soup have a Christmas record – and it is great. Better than you would expect given the subject matter. Finally, thanks to NT for dropping in the cover of Immigrant Song by Trent Reznor from a new about to be released movie!

Enjoy! (Bet you thought I might use great week again, right?)

11.10.11

This week something old and new at the same time. Everyone should own a copy of the first Dead Kennedys record – so here it is.

The Ash Compilation covers an amazing rock band that received absolutely no play or credit in this here U.S. of A. There is not a bad track in the bunch. Just see if you are not singing or humming along to “Jack Names the Planets”, “Girl from Mars”, “Kung Fu’ or “Burn Baby Burn’.

The U2 reissue is the very limited 6CD edition. I’m not sure if every experiment was “great” on this record, but there is no denying the genius inherent in this album.

The Two Wooden Birds Two Matchstick EP is on constant play. Those of us old enough to remember the First Edition (Kenny Rogers first band from the 60’s) there is an amazing cover of “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” (I dare you not to like this!) and a good cover of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater”from the 80s.

Speaking of covers, the Ahk-toong Bay-bi [2011] is just that – covers of all of the songs on Achtung Baby performed by a variety of indie bands.

Finally, I’ve dumped in a compilation of new tracks from October put together by someone with way more time than me. Oops, almost forgot, Chixdiggit, is a Canadian punk rock band from Calgary who has put out some terrific records, and so here is a new live release!

Have a great week!

10.31.11

A wider variety of stuff as those sharing this box have really widely divergent tastes 🙂 There is a little of everything, but I added a couple of female vocals that I like (She & Him, Florence + The Machine and Star Fucking Hipsters (Warning: this is SKUNK i.e. ska punk). For those of us to still able to remember the classic song “Ana Ng” by They Might Be Giants (on Lincoln LP) check out the cover by Star Fucking Hipsters!

Have a great week. Also, if you are looking for anything in particular, drop me a note or email me!

Kelly

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