Just For Fun Concerts EP 2018-10 (Episode 111)

Well, here is something awesome to listen to for your Saturday! Tales From The Drop Box Episode 111 is the logical companion to last week’s episode which, if you recall, was unusually pastoral. This episode is not. It is simply a brief episode filled with 15 loud, energetic, rockin’ tracks from recent memory that you’ve likely missed and truly should hear! It is all modern punk rock – so strap in, turn up loud, and then go buy some vinyl!

Happy Record Store Day!

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #111:

  1. The Baboon Show – “Hit The Floor” (Radio Rebelde)
  2. Dwarves – “Dead In My Dreams” (Take Back The Night)
  3. Abductees – “Warning” (Dead Friends & Old Times)
  4. Bad Breeding – “The More The Merrier” (Divide)
  5. Canadian Rifle – “Sugar Daddy” (Peaceful Death)
  6. The Chats – “Smoko” (Get This In Ya)
  7. Down and Outs – “About Time” (Double Negative)
  8. American Nightmare – “American Death” (American Nightmare)
  9. Castro – “Living The Dream” (Infidelity)
  10. Not Available – “Shout It Out” (Grandpunks)
  11. Bleed American – “No Rush” (It Probably Isn’t)
  12. Story Of The Year – “Bang Bang” (Wolves)
  13. The Riptides – “Someone Just Like You” (Canadian Graffiti)
  14. Hüsker Dü – “Target” (Savage Young Dü)
  15. The Twindows – “Instigator” (Valkyrie 2.0)

So let me set the scene it’s 2 in the afternoon and 34 degrees the Queensland harsh summer heat had me sweating buckets up and down my street it was there I spotted the bloke . . . You’ve seen it all before you think it’s passé but you listen to the same fucking records every single day . . .

KFR

Just For Fun Concerts EP 2018-09 (Episode 110)

I am back with a new episode after a short break as the regular day job is keeping my pretty busy. However, I have also spent some quality time listening to new music. This episode should satisfy both regular listeners and any new listeners who might stumble upon this episode at some point with about an hour to spare listening to some terrific tunes. This episode is pretty pastoral and as you can probably tell from the track list below there is nothing related to Trump-Stormy-Syria-Cohen or politics. There is also one track by Liam Gallagher, former singer from Oasis who put out surprisingly excellent album towards the end of last year. There is one song that has the F-word in the title and several uses in the song, but I believe at this point in our democracy, nothing is shocking (Jane’s Addiction reference!)

Tales From The Drop Box Episode 110 is a mellow but truly sweet and the tracks cover a broader musical range – collecting a few tracks from last year with some newish released tracks. Every once in a while, throwing a change-up to the lineup is good. A couple of gems in here for sure. I had never heard the Archive track before and it is from an album that originally came out in 2004. The throwback isn’t really from that far back either as Anti-Flag released “We’ve Got His Gun” on the first A-F Records LP back in 1998.

So, sit back, crank it up, and enjoy …. until we meet again.

Here is what you’ll find in Episode #110:

  1. Soccer Mommy – “Last Girl” (Clean)
  2. Splashh – “Closer” (Waiting A Lifetime)
  3. Pale Lights – “Mother Cries” (The Stars Seemed Brighter)
  4. Vundabar – “Acetone” (Smell Smoke)
  5. Young Statues – “Redmouth” (Amarillo)
  6. Lost Film – “I Forget” (Broken Spectre)
  7. Liam Gallagher – “I Never Wanna Be like You” (As You Were)
  8. Archive – “Fuck U” (Noise)
  9. Dirty Fences – “Blue Screen” (Goodbye Love)
  10. Hurry – “Read Between The Lines” (Every Little Thought)
  11. Frigs – “Chest” (Basic Behavior)
  12. Voidz – “Pyramid Of Bones” (Virtue)
  13. Stephen Clair And The Pushbacks – “Typing Tipsy” (Push Back)
  14. Anti-Flag – “We’ve Got His Gun” (The System Doesn’t Work For You)
  15. Blush – “Baby Don’t Blush” (Blush)

Dad keeps a gun in the drawer in his room my best friend is coming over to play
yeah yeah we’ve got his gun . . . There’s a look on your face I would like to knock out see the sin in your grin and the shape of your mouth all I want is to see you in terrible pain . . .

KFR

July 7, 2013 Dropbox Notes

Happy Canada Day and 4th of July to those on both sides of the 49th parallel. Well, this past month saw some interesting releases featuring some bands that you’ve likely heard of before as well as some newcomers of note.

Janet Devlin - Hide and SeekI dropped a late add into the box today as the debut album from Janet Devlin called Hide and Seek finally leaked, and it is frankly a really good pop album. Janet, you might remember was the startling contestant on the 8th series of England’s X Factor who rejected Simon Cowell’s recording contract offer after finishing 5th. If you have not seen here amazing cover of Elton John’s “Your Song” then check it out, because her voice is so unique, it seems as if she actually wrote the thing http://youtu.be/f4EE4bIFixQ . As for the new record, it captures the unique quality of her voice, and there are a couple of terrific tunes on the record. Should be a massive hit when it finally comes out in September, 2013. Try “Wonderful, ”“Working For The Man,” and “Things We Lost In The Fire.”

Beware of Darkness - OrthodoxFitting somewhere between Jet and the Black Keys, Los Angeles based Beware of Darkness plays gritty alt-rock and roll which on their debut Orthodox demonstrates a broad range of influences, but eventually you come out at the end finding that there is something more here than just their influences. Although the opener “Howl” is the public relations hit, having performed it live on Conan (here: http://dai.ly/xzxuxk ), the track that made me love this album was the slow burner “All Who Remain.” Solid throughout, given that there is still no place in the universe that consistently plays great music, you might as well expose everyone to this. The album falls off a little at the end as it diverges into new psychedelia, but overall is well worth the listen. Try “All Who Remain”, “Howl” and the stones influenced “Sweet Girl.”

Fox And The Law - Scarlet FeverI found a couple of older things lying around and figured as I had missed them, they should be brought to your full attention. Like Beware of Darkness, Fox and The Law plays garage blues rock at full speed. If you were going to go to a small club and wanted to see a straightforward rock n roll show – Fox and The Law is who I’d see.  Fox and the Law are essentially new generation pub rockers. Great energy throughout, the single “Treat Me Right” is catchy and the blues grunge feel of the record, suits those late night evenings. Try “Treat Me Right,” “Unbelievable,” and “Something Bad.”

Saint Alvia - Static PsalmsSaint Alvia blew me away. Another rock record, I love this record and have played it endlessly for the past couple of months. From Burlington Ontario, I had never heard of these guys before stumbling upon this record. Who knew they were nominated for a Juno award in 2008? Named after Ernest Alvia Smith, Canada’s last living recipient of the Victoria Cross for valor in WWII, they are a patchwork of influences from punk, grunge, blues, and pretty much everything in between. On Static Psalms, the band produces an amalgam of catchy punk influenced rock with some dance tracks stuffed in between. I ShXX you not.  Try “Define Me” (extra credit if you can name the sample, great video too: http://youtu.be/d2bMimAZtPw ( Is that snow?)), “Murder in a Motel,” and “The Pressure.”

Jonas & The Massive Attraction - Live Out LoudKeeping with our theme that Canada produces great rock bands (if you ignore Nickleback), and following the rock and roll theme established by this month’s dropbox, Jonas and the Massive Attraction are a hard rock band from Montreal led by another Juno award nominee Jonas Tomalty who is better known for his blues albums, but with this new project, is producing killer melodic hard rock. Not sure who produced the cover art, as it makes the band look more like the Jonas Brothers, and effectively disguises what is underneath. This is traditional Canadian hard rock – think April Wine, updated, and anthemic. I had a great time, and found myself singing along to some of the tracks. Try the blistering “Riot,” the catchy ballad “Bonnie & Clyde” (here is a great live version in Montreal at L’Astral 27-04-2013 http://youtu.be/waZnZ9ARjeA  ) and “Hope Your Happy.”

1975 - IVThe 1975, have appeared in the drop box previously. Although they’ve been playing around since 2002, they tested out a number of different names, before they finally settled on The 1975. The name was inspired by a note hand written inside a book vocalist Matthew Healy found, which, coupled with some other writings on the previous owner’s descent into insanity and desire to take their life, struck a chord with Healy. IV is the band’s fourth EP, and is the build up to the band’s first full length album, which is expected to be released in September. It is hard to go wrong with this band’s sound, exemplified by the opening track “The City” with its upbeat dance friendly repetitive chorus. The electronic under bed highlights the hauntingly beautiful “Haunt/Bed” (See how I did that… ). A great introduction to the band if you missed the earlier EPs, so stay tuned to see how this all comes together. Not quite electronic, not quite indie pop, falling somewhere in the sweet spot in the middle. Try …them all. It is an EP after all.

Bicycles - Stop Thinking So MuchSome more Canadians, but now of the twee pop variety, the Bicycles broke up in 2009 (their website says hiatus…but it was a long one). Now after 4 years, the Bicycles return with a gem of an indie pop record on Stop Thinking So Much. The album bounces seamlessly through indie folk to power pop and with a large amount of variety to keep the album from stumbling in its quieter moments. A great change of pace. Try the Beach Boys influenced “Congratulations,” “Break This Hold” and “The Sun Don’t Want To End.”

Blitzen Trapper - Blitzen Trapper [Deluxe Edition]Sub Pop describes them as experimental country folk, but Portland’s Blitzen Trapper is much more than the label would indicate. Blitzen Trapper is the reissue of the band’s debut record recorded in 2003 and remastered with 5 additional songs. The album as originally released was available in very limited quantities, so to have it re-released in all its sonic goodness is well worth the listen. As this was released on record store day, it was pressed on 180g black vinyl, but also a very limited edition of 200 LPs was available on Coke-Bottle Clear vinyl and mixed in at random with the standard pressing at participating Record Store Day stores only. Looking back on the album, Blitzen Trapper’s frontman Eric Earley stated, “I don’t remember much about making this first record, too long ago maybe. I guess I remember this Mexican dive bar we’d go to after sessions with GW (Gregg Williams) who was engineering the record. We’d drink tequila and play pool and watch Blazers games. Drew took the cover shot down at the coast at some junk shop off the highway. An Indian and a zebra.” There is quite a wide variety of sounds on this album which is essentially well-crafted indie rock. Try “All Girl Team” “Pink Padded Slippers” and “Cracker Went Down.”

Boxer Rebellion - PromisesBritish indie rockers Boxer Rebellion have taken a beating in the English music press, and on Promises, they will likely take some more abuse. For the uninitiated, Boxer Rebellion have poppier leanings than most bands in the new progressive rock genre, typified by Explosions in the Sky, but here the atmospherics of prior records are clearer and more reliant on Roxy Music than on any marriage to the new progressive sound. There are nods to the National with the buzz saw guitar sounds and emotive vocals, and other like-minded Indie rock explorers, but the Boxer Rebellion traverses their own road in finding the balance between synth rock and indie, so as to avoid Yes comparisons. Try “Diamonds”, “Dream” and “Keep Moving.”

State of Drama - FighterRule Number 1 in the record business – start your album off with a great song. Swedish pop rock band, State of Drama follows the rules with catchy opener “Can’t Find You Anywhere.”  Essentially a competition band, having performed in Sweden’s numerous music contests including participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, this self-titled debut includes their competition hits “Maybe” and the aforementioned “Can’t Find you Anywhere.” Hey it’s a pop rock record, so you should be able to find something you like. For me, it was “Fighter,” “Can’t Find You Anywhere” and “Rain.”

Rise Against - Revolutions Per Minute [10 Year Anniversary]I am an admitted Rise Against fan, and have been since their debut. Not to establish credibility, but rather to acknowledge that long before they were popular on radio (for once!) there was something different about this band. On RPM, their second album, the band found their sound, a mix of street punk and anarchism with a focus on the social political themes and relationships. Tim McIlrath said in an interview with Punknews.org “RPM was kind of sarcastic; so many bands just throwing the word “revolution” around and that kind of thing you were led to believe there was a revolution every minute and it was a word that I still didn’t take lightly and I was upset that it was being taken lightly.” Well, as their last release on Fat Wreck Chords, RPM was a game changer of sorts as this released propelled them to Geffen Records and essentially stardom. However, RPM is raw in many aspects and after ten years, the songs upon reflection have taken on a life of their own. Hard to beat, and still sounds fresh today. Try “Like The Angel, ” “Heaven Knows (Demo)” and “Broken English (Demo)”. Crunchy guitars rule!

Roshambo - Lonesome Men From The WoodsDid you like San Cisco from last year? If so, then Roshambo is for you. On Lonesome Men From The Woods, Karlskoga Sweden’s Roshambo traverse similar pop rock territory with such charm, that it is impossible not to like this record. Following our record rule Number 1, Roshambo start with the killer track “Babylon” which is impossible not to sing-a-long with. The trio is energetic and the songs well-crafted. I would love to see these guys live. A little like Capital Cities, but with Australia’s pop sensibilities, Roshambo is likely a Swedish anachronism. Available only on Bandcamp, give this a spin. Try “Babylon,” Koalas” and “We Gag.”

Puggy - To Win The WorldOn To Win The World, Puggy, ( a trio consisting of Matt Irons, bassist Romain Descampes, and Swedish drummer Egil “Ziggy” Franzén, continue their unique blend of melodic acoustic flavored rock with smooth vocal harmonies. There is a French rock feel to the music, likely caused by the influences absorbed from living and touring in Belgium where the band who is based and where all of the members met. Consequently, Puggy is massively popular in Belgium and France. There are a diverse array of influences and styles on this record which traverses both acoustic and dance rock territory. Try “To Win The World, “Goes Like This,” and the instantly likeable “Move On.”

Postelles - ...And It Shook MeNew York four piece, the Postelles, write power pop with an edge that will grab your heart immediately on their second LP, …And It Shook Me. The greatest aspect of this album are the well-crafted songs that are punchy and not given over to the saccharine pop that one often finds in records in this genre. There is a Brooklyn feel on the tunes, likely the influence of producer Albert Hammond (Strokes). However, this is not a Strokes copy band, but something else altogether, more in the vein of Saturday Looks Good To Me. The songs bounce along, and the melodies melt your heart. I found myself putting this on repeat in the office, the Knack (Remember them?) – like cover “Caught By Surprise” (http://youtu.be/VZi2CMZT3zc ) instantly hummable. Try “Caught By Surprise,” “And It Shook Me”, and “Running Red Lights” (http://youtu.be/ZeSgKrStQG0 ).

Portugal. The Man - Evil FriendsWho would have ever thought that I would hear Portland weirdoes, Portugal. The Man ( Yes, that period belongs there just to throw off the grammar check in word) on KROQ. However, just like KROQ to play one of the weaker songs on the record “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” rather than actually spend time listening to the LP before deciding on which track to expose to the mindless masses who blindly follow the formula espoused by the corporate radio dictator in an effort to exert mind control in the form of mass consumerism (sorry blanked out there……). Back to the point. Portugal. The Man’s latest record, their 7th LP, Evil Friends, does take a stab at the commercial entertainment but still largely retaining the charm and uniqueness that makes their earlier releases essential listening. This is indie rock blended with psychedelia, and lyrically progressive. The songs are instantly memorable and with each listen of the record, new discoveries are made. If “Creep in a T-Shirt” isn’t a hit record then nothing is. See for yourself: Portugal. The Man performing “Creep In A T-Shirt” Live on KCRW (http://youtu.be/TTgC6BszjQk ). Note to KROQ – stop playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can’t take anymore….really….and play more like this. It’s okay to expose the masses to a variety of great records, popularity is not the demon. Try “Creep In a T-Shirt,” “Hip Hop Kids” and “Holy Roller (Hallelujah)”

Pigeon Detectives - We Met At SeaOn the Pigeon Detectives latest record We Met At Sea, their 4th, the band finds itself at a bit of a crossroads. This is particularly true when NME gave the record a score of 3/10 and accused the band of ripping itself off. Brutal. However, having listened to this record for the past couple of months, there is still enough life in the record to warrant inclusion. Gone are the rough edges of the brilliant first two albums Wait For Me (2007) and Emergency (2008) that brought instant fame to the band, and produced 5 top 5 singles. It is difficult to imagine the pressure of trying to follow up the massive fame explosion, and We Met At Sea is the bands second attempt to create something more lasting than the raw enthusiasm that propelled the band into the spotlight. The mod edges are still intact and like the Palma Violets and Miles Kane this record fits nicely in the mod-dance genre but shows the band trying to grow a bit. It is easy for NME to dismiss the record, particularly when the memory of those earlier records and constant exposure to the band (unlike here in the U.S. where absolutely no one has ever heard of them), is so fresh. Really, this is worth the effort, you won’t be disappointed. Try “I Won’t Come Back,” (http://youtu.be/tl4vg-de0n4  ) , “Light Me Up,” and “I Don’t Mind.”

Paper Aeroplanes - Little LettersIf She & Him were Welsh, and a little more folk oriented, they would likely be Paper Aeroplanes, comprised of Sarah Howells and Richard Llewellyn who on their third album, Little Letters, produce an album of delicate songs brimming with melody and carried by Sarah Howells distinctive voice  which reminds me a little of Janet Devlin mentioned earlier). These are lovingly crafted acoustic songs tell stories which are atmospheric, emotional, and compelling. Most striking is the production on this record, which provides depth and space with a warm tone uncommon in this digital age. Try “Multiple Love,” Little Letters, (http://youtu.be/wC29jfNE7PQ ) and “Palm of Your Hand.”

Oblivians - DesperationMemphis blues-garage band the Oblivions return after 17 years with a brand new release of swampy garage rock, picking up where the left off. Progenitors of the 90’s garage punk scene with the Gories, Supersuckers and New Fast Automatic Daffodils. the Oblivions are a sonic force even though they must be older than dirt (okay about my age). Unlike the current garage scene with its psychedelic underpinnings (Tame Impala, Ty Segal), the Oblivions have not changed their garage punk formula staying true to their roots, stepped in Memphis blues and the late 60’s garage bands like the Seeds, Kingsman, and the Shadows of Knight. Perhaps a little much for the uninitiated to play all the way through, but in small chunks, you’ll become a devotee. Try: “Woke Up in A Police Car,”, “Fire Detector,” and “I’ll be Gone.”

New Politics - A Bad Girl In Harlem

It must be difficult to be a band with a hit record on its first try. What goes unnoticed is that many bands have had essentially a lifetime to produce that first batch of songs, and when they see the light of day, and are loved and appreciated, the pressure to write more of the same must be oppressive, and as history has taught, that sophomore record is going to determine whether the band stays or breaks up in a raging heap of bitter disappointment. Look the odds are against survival. In the 2000s, the list of bands that are essentially one hit wonders is much larger than the list of bands with repeated hit records. This is not to mention the endless number of quality bands that are only discovered after their useful existence. So where does Copenhagen’s New Politics fit in this discussion? Well, in the realm of faceless Anglo bands, this record shows that the trio (David Boyd, Søren Hansen, and Louis Vecchio) who wrote the ubiquitous hit “Yeah Yeah Yeah”  (http://youtu.be/II0uqBUewD0 )has real staying power. The first single “Harlem” (http://youtu.be/NVOUTkFkMNU  )  is a catchy, throbby, dance pop track and the rest of the record contains other alterno-pop songs that will have the kids dancing in the aisles at their shows. Nothing deep here, but overall an enjoyable record. Try “Harlem”, “Tonight Your Perfect” and “Just Like Me.”

Front Bottoms - Talon of the HawkReally, more thought should be put into band names. If you’ve spent some time in my office, we’ve spent numerous hours crafting a fine number of useful and memorable band names. So how does one decide that Front Bottoms should be a band name? Stuck with a terrible name, no one will be able to ask for this record at the local retailer, as it is impossible to recall. What is unusual however, is that the Front Bottoms songs are way better than there name. Maybe it’s the fact that they are from Jersey, Bergen County, NJ, to be precise. Essentially a two piece, on Tales From The Talon, the band’s fourth LP, the band produces finely crafted funny tales that are catchy pop-punk with a surprisingly huge sound. This is a light-hearted upbeat record, that will leave you wanting more.  Vocalist/Guitarist Brian Sella’s voice has a great tone and the talk-singing is very effective here. Try “Skeleton,” “Twin Size Mattress” (http://youtu.be/-1rzsT2t2YY ) and Funny You Should Ask.”

All-About - Suburban HeartOn the All-About ‘s debut, Suburban Heart, Zac Coe produces a superior pop-punk record, with a similar talk-singing vocal similar to the Front-Bottoms above, but whereas the focus for the Front Bottoms was semi-serious, even light-hearted lyrics, here The All-About’s cover a much broader lyrical palate, with songs about love and loss, carefully crafted into a mesmerizing, albeit brief, release. Sure, there are some songs that take a little work to get into, but the acoustic synth-pop is easy to digest, and like it or not, even on the most lyrically difficult songs, you find yourself wanting to sing-a-long. Essentially a well formed bedroom project, this is a terrific start. Try “Summer Sheets”, “Suburban Heart,” and “Nashville.”

There are lots of great albums at the bottom of the list this month, but little time to cover it all. Among my favorites are the mod revivalists Riots, the new Editors, and American Fangs. I’ve also upgraded the Miles Kane with the deluxe edition. Anyway, until next time, let’s be safe out there!

Here is this months List:

  1. Beware of Darkness – Orthodox [2013]
  2. Fox And The Law – Scarlet Fever [2012]
  3. Saint Alvia – Static Psalms [2012]
  4. Jonas & The Massive Attractions – Live Out Loud [2013]
  5. 1975 – IV [2013]
  6. Bicycles – Stop Thinking So Much [2013]
  7. Blitzen Trapper – Blitzen Trapper [Deluxe Edition] (RSD) [2013]
  8. Boxer Rebellion – Promises [2013]
  9. State of Drama – Fighter [2013]
  10. Rise Against – Revolutions Per Minute [10 Year Anniversary] [2013]
  11. Roshambo – Lonesome Men From The Woods [2013]
  12. Puggy – To Win The World [2013]
  13.  Postelles – …And It Shook Me [2013]
  14. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends [2013]
  15. Pigeon Detectives – We Met At Sea [2013]
  16.  Paper Aeroplanes – Little Letters [2013]
  17. Oblivians – Desperation [2013]
  18. New Politics – A Bad Girl In Harlem [2013]
  19. Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk [2013]
  20. All-About – Suburban Heart [2013]
  21. Beady Eye – BE [Japanese Edition] [2013]
  22. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest [2013]
  23. Psychic Ills – One Track Mind [2013]
  24. Rhett Miller – The Dreamer Acoustic Version [2013]
  25. Smith Westerns – Soft Will [2013]
  26. These New Puritans – Field of Reeds [2013]
  27.  Olms – The Olms [2013]
  28. Miles Kane – Don’t Forget Who You Are (Deluxe Edition) [2013]
  29. Limousines – Hush [2013]
  30. Hooded Fang – Gravez [2013]
  31. Anarbor – Burnout [2013]
  32. Abandon Kansas – A Midwest Summer [2013]
  33. Gaslight Anthem – Singles Collection 2008-2011 [2013]
  34.  Jimmy Eat World – Damage [2013]
  35. Big Deal – June Gloom [2013]
  36. Capital Cities – In a Tidal Wave of Mystery [2013]
  37. American Fangs – American Fangs [2013]
  38. Kodaline – In a Perfect World [2013]
  39. Sir Sly – Gold [2013]
  40. Tijuana Panthers – Semi-Sweet [2013]
  41. Banquets – Banquets [2013]
  42. Builders and The Butchers – Western Medicine [2013]
  43. Captain, We’re Sinking – The Future Is Cancelled [2013]
  44. Editors – The Weight Of Your Love [Deluxe Edition] [2013]
  45. Middle Class Rut – Pick Up Your Head [Deluxe Edition] [2013]
  46. Mowgli’s – Waiting for the Dawn [2013]
  47. Riots – Time For Truth [2013]
  48.  Japanther – Eat Like Lisa Act Like Bart [2013]
  49. Electric Guest – Good America [2013]
  50.  Janet Devlin – Hide & Seek [2013]

June 22, 2013 Drop Box Notes

Well, I’m back after a busy graduation season with some notes for last months drop box offerings and a little preview of the July drop box. As always, these are in no particular order even though I now number the selections to make it easier for you to find.

Mikal-Cronin-MCIIFirst of all, you really should check out Mikal Cronin‘s latest release aptly titled MCII. Cronin is better known for his frequent associations with garage rocker Ty Segal ( a frequent drop in the box) as well as recording with another of other indie garage bands including the Okie Dokie, Epsilons, Party Fowl and Moonhearts. This is garage pop reminiscent of the early 80’s garage pop scene that included Lets Active and the dBs. I have know doubt that this record will end up on a number of trendy publication year end best of lists, but really, this record will belong there. These are well constructed sonic garage pop songs, with beautiful arrangements, catchy chorus and memorable melodies. You’ll find something comfortably familiar with these songs, but it is because the balance of power and pop is so perfect, this will end up as the soundtrack for your summer days. Try the amazing “Peace of Mind” for the softer side of the spectrum, “Change” for the rockier end, and “I’m Done Running From You” for that song that will have you singing along. Really, not a bad song on the record. Have at it.

Ty Segal - Ty Rex 2Speaking of Ty Segal, for Record Store Day, Ty releases Ty Rex 2, a 7″ with two Marc Bolan and T. Rex covers: the early track “Cat Black (The Wizard’s Hat)” b/w the Electric Warrior cut “The Motivator.” For those of us old enough to recall T.Rex ( most of you will have heard “Get It On ( Bang A Gong)” (See it here:http://youtu.be/19IqwU3itFk ) as well as the other updated hits “Children of the Revolution” and “20th Century Boy”), Ty brings some freshness to these songs, particular on “Motivator”, which crunches under Ty’s deft playing. Worth a listen.

Ty Segal and Mikal Cronin - Reverse Shark AttackAnd finally, as it seems this is Mikal and Ty’s month, try Ty Segal and Mikal Cronin together on Reverse Shark Attack. This record was recorded in 2009 as a vinyl only release which quickly sold out and then re-released last year. This is Cramps styled garage-fuzz played at punk rock pace. Noisy best describes what is going on, and I loved every minute. Awesome!. Try” Ramona”, “I Wear Black” and “Doctor Doctor”. Furious, baby!.

Husker Du were one of my all time favorite bands along with the previously mentioned Replacements, dBs, The Jam, Stiff Little Fingers, The Clash, and XTC. There you have it – my all time best of list. Sure I have a number of other favorite bands and records, but none even approach the awe (great word), I have for the recordings by these bands. Over time, bands and artists that I thought might end up here have taken divergent paths that moved them down a few rungs on my mental list of all time greatest. I’m thinking Elvis Costello here. For the first 10 years of Elvis’ career I was on board, but his miss-steps after Almost Blue (his last great complete record) were too numerous to hang in the game and my interest waned. I guess that is the great mystery of the mystical connection that music plays in a life. I associate events in my life with music. “I’ve Been Waiting” by Matthew Sweet was played at my wedding and at various reflection points I associate these bands and their shows ( all of who I have seen live) with the onset of the great adventures and first steps into adulthood.

Husker Du - Amusement EPAnyway, back to Husker Du who for record store day earlier this year (April 20) released their first single from 1980, “Amusement”/“Statues” as a double 7-inch with “Writer’s Cramp” and “Let’s Go Die,” the other two songs recorded at the same time for what was initially planned to be a self-released 10-inch. But costs forced the band to opt for the two-song 7-inch that was eventually released. “Amusement,” “Writer’s Cramp,” and “Let’s Go Die” were remastered from “a first-generation sub-master,” because the originals are long gone. “Statues” was reworked from the original recording from the board at the old Minneapolis venue Duffy’s, where it was recorded. The double 7-inch was limited limited to 4,000 copies. This is an interesting artifact, because “Writer’s Cramp” and “Let’s Go Die” were recorded with the band at a crossroads and who were, at that time also vying for a recording contract with Twintone Records who eventually signed the Replacements over them. Here the Husker’s are experimenting with a poppier sound that Bob Mould would eventually find again after Husker Du disbanded and he started Sugar. Try – Them All!

Miles Kane - Don't Forget Who You AreFor those of you who forgot how good the mod scene actually was from a musical perspective, Miles Kane‘s newest record Don’t Forget Who You Are will remind you of the sweetness that was mod inspired. A little bit dangerous, but still making you want to dance, the mod bands balanced the rock and soul perfectly. Brief time trip here: The mod ( stands for modern!) scene in Britain evolved out of the late 60s with the Who, David Bowie (then called David Jones) and the Small Faces (who featured a very young Rod Stewart) which carried forth smart sounding modern music with a sharped dressed man (Think the Who’s “My Generation”) that clashed with the rockabilly/ traditional rock and roll found in artists like Gene Vincent, Jack Scott, Bill Haley, and Buddy Holly from the fifty’s. Hence, in the early 70’s this coalesced into a generational clash between the mods and rockers in the streets of London.

Mod Photo 2Skip forward several years later, and Quadrophenia based upon the Who’s sunning masterwork, as well as the Who bio-movie The Kids Are Alright are released in theaters in 1979. At the tale end of punk, these events coalesce into a massive mod revival with the Jam leading the charge. This is the primary reason that the Jam’s  singer/guitarist Paul Weller is acknowledged as the mod father for today’s generation of bands. Other band emerge during this time including Secret Affair and Merton Parkas, all of whom dress in parkas and drive Vespa scooters in sharp contrast to the rockers who drove Harleys and wore leathers.  This scene will eventually die as the 80’s arrive, only to emerge again in a slightly different form with Oasis, torchbearers for this unique sound. Jump forward to today and Oasis who have long since broken up only to find the brother’s Gallagher in two different bands ( High Flying Birds and Beady Eye) but still with an eye on the ball, both support their prodigy Mile Kane. To be clear, mod as a music form, I believe will always be around in England where kids arrive from the womb with the imprint of this particular sound. It is almost as if, mod, which is a uniquely British sound, comprises the genetic code of a nation.

So, with the brief history lesson over, on Don’t Forget Who You Are, Miles Kane hammers home the message on several levels. On one level, Kane reminds us of the importance of mod as a way of life and also on another level, like punk, a way of being. It is not so much about style anymore, but rather remaining true to a cultural identity.  The record is essentially about carrying forth the message of mod, see for e.g. “Taking Over” and “Bombshells”. This is a great example of where mod lives today, in a young generation, reinterpreting the lessons of the past but bringing it straight forward into the future. All round a great record. Try” Out of Control”, “Tonight” and “Don’t Forget Who You Are.”

Youngblood Hawke - Wake UpI’m always up for a good indie pop record as you might have noticed. (Recall Oh Mercy and Wolf Gang from last year?). LA based synth-pop band Youngbloode Hawke have found the sparkle on their debut with clean upbeat songs containing gang choruses and all the elements for songs that would find a place on most AM radio stations ( do these even exist anymore?). Sometimes the lyrics travel into the absurd, but these misses are few and far between, and overall most of the record works. Sure there are going to be comparisons to Phoenix who occupy this same sonic space, but it hard to not like the uptempo synth-pop put forth by Youngbloode Hawke. Try “Dannyboy”, “Rootless” and “We Come Running”.

Iron and Wine - Ghost on GhostFor those of you whom already like Iron and Wine ( the nom de plume of Samuel Beam), you will already have picked this album up. However, for those of you who are ambivalent about Sam’s prior releases which have been mostly hit and miss for me in the past, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this latest record. On Ghost on Ghost, the 6th Iron and Wine record, Sam finally finds his groove. The record is an examination of where Sam is at this point in his artistic progression with both nods to his past “Winter’s Prayer” and where he is going, with the catchy “Grace For Saints and Ramblers”. Some will be put off by the varied experiments that make up this record, but for me it resonates with fine crafted songs encompassing more than the Postal Service inspired folk of Sam’s past and traversing new territories, including alt-country and jazz. Try” Grace For Saints and Ramblers”, “Joy” and “Sundown (Back In The Briars)”

Savages - Silence YourselfOn a completely different plane altogether, London’s Savages, (who are playing all the UK festivals this summer) merge Joy Division’s post rock with Siouxsie Sioux sound alike vocals of Jehnny Beth and the intelligence of Gang of Four. This album (like the Mikal Cronin record previously) will end up on a number of best of lists because frankly, there is absolutely no band out there with a sound so firmly rooted in the past but updating the sound for the future of post punk. The guitars shimmer and the lyrics which are heavily punk influenced are driving, urgent, and immediate. This is the next big thing. Silence Yourself is easily the best debut of the year and perhaps the album of the year. Really. Oh, and America will completely miss this. Try “She Will”, “I am Here” and “Hit Me.”

Art Brut - Top of The PopsFor those of you who missed Art Brut, a uniquely British indie invention that never made it across the pond, I’ve put in their latest greatest hits record, Top of The Pops, ( a television show they never appeared on as their highest chart single was Number 41) a 2CD collection with the second half devoted to B-sides and rarities. However, stick with the first disc, which will expose you to Art Brut‘s unique form of indie rock with crunchy guitars, oblique lyrics, and all the pieces that make for a fun time. Take this for what it is, a collection of catchy songs, with slightly wonky vocals sung with an English accent, and not really giving a crap about where they fit in the rock and roll pantheon. “My Little Brother” (Just Discovered Rock n’ Roll) aptly sums up Art Brut, a band happy with discovering rock and roll and playing it for laughs. Lead singer and spokesperson Eddie Argos is, like Pete Almquist of the Hives, an energetic personality,with one foot firmly rooted in the past writing for the odd ball in all of us. If you only listen to ” Formed a Band” then you will discover the genius of Art Brut. Try ” Formed a Band”, “St. Pauli” and “Summer Job.”

So So Glos - BlowoutBrooklyn punk rockers The So So Glos second album is a brief, quick paced Beach Boys version of punk rock, with the band falling on the poppier side of what was a dying genre, traveled by other great bands like Chixdiggit!, Homegrown, and Melincolin, that I remember from the 90’s. It may seem retro, but there is life in this record, which for those of you who grew up with sound, will really like the touches and nods to The So So Glos influences, which on this album are early MXPX and Operation Ivy. Brothers Alex and Ryan Levine, their step-brother and drummer Zach Staggers, and guitarist Matt Elkin are a sonic force and Blowout is a good time record. Try” Son of An American”, “Lost Weekend” and “Wrecking Ball.”

Here is the List:

  1. !!! (Chk Chk Chk) – Thr!!!Er [2013]
  2. Airborne Toxic Event – Such Hot Blood [2013
  3. Deerhunter – Monomania [2013]
  4. Iggy and the Stooges – Ready To Die [2013]
  5. Los Campesinos! – A Good Night For A Fistfight [2013]
  6. Mikal Cronin – MCII  [2013]
  7. Savages – Silence Yourself [2CD] [2013]
  8. Sloan – Hardcore [2013]
  9. Titus Andronicus – Record Store Day [2013]
  10. TUSQ – Hailuoto [2013]
  11. Ty Segall – Ty Rex 2 (RSD) [2013]
  12. Vaccines – NME Presents Home Is Where The Start Is Home Demos 2009-2012 [2013]
  13. Youngblood Hawke – Wake Up [2013]
  14. Fitz & The Tantrums – More Than Just a Dream (Deluxe Version) [2013]
  15. Hüsker Dü – Amusement EP (RSD) [2013]
  16. Allison Weiss – Say What You Mean [2013]
  17. Best Coast – Fear My Own Identity (RSD) [2013]
  18. Art Brut – Top of the Pops [2013]
  19. Miles Kane – Don’t Forget Who You Are (iTunes) [2013]
  20. So So Glos – Blowout [2013]
  21. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork [2013]
  22. D.O.T. – Diary [2013]
  23. Killing Joke – The Singles Collection 1979-2012 [2013]
  24. Noah and the Whale – Heart of Nowhere [2013]
  25. A Fragile Tomorrow – Be Nice Be Careful [2013]
  26. Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin – Reverse Shark Attack [2013]
  27. Bicycle Thief – Fields [2013]
  28. City Reign – Another Step [2013]
  29. Guided by Voices – English Little League [2013]
  30. Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost [2013]
  31. Ladyfinger (ne) – Errant Forms (Promo) [2013]
  32. Ola Podrida – Ghosts Go Blind [2013]
  33. Plain White T’s – Should’ve Gone to Bed EP [2013]
  34. She & Him – Volume 3 [2013]
  35. Sulk – Graceless [2013]
  36. Titus Andronicus – Record Store Day [2013
  37. Weeks – Dear Bo Jackson [2013]
  38. Youngblood Hawke – Wake Up [2013]
  39. Bass Drum of Death – Bass Drum of Death [2013]
  40. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories [2013]
  41. Exsonvaldes – Lights [2013]
  42. Grandchildren – Golden Age [2013
  43. Kisses – Kids in L.A [2013]
  44. Northcote – Northcote [2013]
  45. Primal Scream – More Light [Japanese Deluxe Edition] [2013]
  46. These New Puritans – Field of Reeds [2013]
  47. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City [2013]
  48. Vår – No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers [2013]
  49. Wampire – Curiosity [2013]
  50. Airstrip – Willing [2013]
  51. Atlas Genius – When It Was Now [2013]
  52. Auto Defiance – Running On The Edge (Promo) [2013]

Drop Box Notes May 2, 2013

KurtVileWakinKurt Vile is on a roll. The former The War on Drugs vocalist has found the soft spot in the indie-rock niche where he thrives. What can best be described as “psych-stoner-indie”, Vile’s take, with his band The Violators, on the human condition is obliquely explored on Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze. Vile already was an indie darling as his last release, Smoke Ring for My Halo (2011), received huge critical acclaim and appeared on a number of year end, best of lists, but frankly, Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze is a much better record. It may be Vile’s unique vocals, but the guitar work, which is very reminiscent of early Pavement, shimmers and the meandering country rhythms on this record accentuate the uniqueness of the environment this record occupies in the indie rock world. From the title track, through the lengthy closer “Goldtone” coming at 17:24, this album works because enough space is given for these songs to find a direction without becoming repetitive or boring. You have to work a little bit to get into this one, but the effort will be wellworth the time investment. “Try “Shame Chamber”, “Never Run Away”, and “Snowflakes Are Dancing.”

AfraidOfHeightsalbumcoverOn Afraid of Heights, Nathan Williams who operates as Wavves , collects the best elements only hinted at from his previous three records (which tend to be more pop than rock) and finally puts the pieces together. As garage rock goes, this is superior because the songwriting is so solid. Sure, there are points where the songs are a wee bit lengthy, but it is hard to deny the likeability and power of this record. Some reviewers have taken issue with the Weezer similarities ( best example is found on the second track “Demon To Lean On”, but I like Weezer, so I was already primed and susceptible to the hooks found all over this record. It probably doesn’t help that Williams’ voice does sound a little like Rivers Cuomo, but this is a thoroughly enjoyable record. I sing the woooooos on title track “Afraid of Heights” which is where you should start. Think “Sweater Song (Undone). Try” “Afraid of Heights”, “Beat Me Up” and “Gimme A Knife.”

The_Veils_time_stays_we_go_packshot_800x800With the Veils, you get some pedigree. Finn Andrews, son of XTC/Shriekback keyboardist Barry Andrews, is the center of the band he started in New Zealand in 2002. Better known for Andrews’ captivating stage presence and live shows, this LP, like the Wavves record above, represents the Veils best effort to break into the main stream. Let’s face it, rock is in a tough place in America. This record, record in Laurel Canyon Studios in Los Angeles, is an effort to find a sound that will cross over in England and the colonies who are attuned to an “Americana” type sound. Hence, some of this record feels somewhat contrived lyrically to hone in on what is popular in England. The question really becomes then, does the record work independent of the influence and design? On balance it does. Sure, like a number of records in the drop box, you either like the record because of the particular sound or you don’t. This doesn’t have the feel of the numerous faceless anglo bands, probably because Andrews does have a touch of the Nick Cave in his voice as well as some Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes), which makes for an interesting contrast to some of the delicate songs on this record. Some songs do meander a bit, being more focused on atmospherics than forming a song, but others are aggressive and hi-light the reason why this LP is in the drop box. Try” The Pearl”, “Turn From The Rain” and “Another Night.”

Grapes of Wrath High RoadThe Grapes of Wrath were a band I saw several times when I lived in Vancouver and even in Los Angeles, opening for Guadalcanal Diary at the Roxy in Los Angeles and the Green Door in Montclair in 1988. Although described currently as “folk rock” this is what alternative college rock sounded like at the end of the eighties/early nineties with its jangle pop sound. Formed in Kelowna BC by Chris Hooper, Tom Hooper and Kevin Kane, the band broke up in 1992 but reformed in 2010. High Road represents the original Grapes’ first full length effort in more than 20 years, and it is a thoroughly enjoyable record. Sure, they are a little older and wiser, but the elements that made them great – smooth harmonies and crisp melodies with sing-a-long choruses – are still present.  Amazing! Try” Good To See You”, “Make It Okay” and “Picnic.”

Dawes-Stories-Dont-End-260x260Los Angeles based Dawes, like Grapes of Wrath, also is categorized as folk rock, but the similarities end there. This is the problem with genre assignment. There are bands who are lumped into a genre, but sound nothing alike. These guys sure are not Mumford and Sons, but there are some elements present which justify the categorization. They are certainly not metal. So, where does Dawes fit in the spectrum? I’d say left of something, but also right of something else. I think the first song I heard was the Steely Dan sounding “From A Window Seat” which was enjoyable, and while Steely Dan is generally off-putting to me, I felt there was something else going on, so that I could get around my Steely Dan prejudice (much like my admitted Beatles dislike). It may be that this is 70’s a.m. rock and brings back memories of driving in the car with my mom to school and hearing the Band, Neil Young, The Strawberries, Lighthouse, the Guess Who and Tony Orlando and Dawn on the car radio. Stories Don’t End evokes those same feelings. Try “Most People”, “Hey Lover” and “Bear Witness.”

2013FilthyBoy_SmileThatWontGoDown600G280313Filthy BoyFilthy Boy represents something completely different musically than Dawes. Really different. What makes Smile That Won’t Go Down such an enjoyable listen is that dance rock a la Franz Ferdinand and the first Arctic Monkeys record that has been missing from my life, and this record with its naughty intonation and innuendo (the band is, after all, called Filthy Boy) makes it hard not to be caught up in the overtly sexual overtones such as found on the Jazz Butcher sounding “Waiting On A Doorstep.” As noted by NME “[s]inger Paraic Morrissey has the knack of sounding like he’s casually sparking up a post-coital cigarette” but all in good fun. Morrissey (with his twin brother Tom) capture the genius of absurdity of it all. Great videos as well: http://youtu.be/z-XT6MTIh-E (“Waiting on a Doorstep”). Try also “Naughty Corner”, “Jimmy Jammies” and “Spiral Eyes.”

MBD Bitter Drink MBD Kickstarter CoversI’ve dropped the 6th Murder by Death record and the Kickstarter funded follow up of covers entitled As You Wish: Kickstarter Covers released by the band as a bonus to those who funded the recording of the amazing Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon. Bloomington Indiana’s Murder By Death occupy the same sonic space as the National (whose new record comes out later this month and I will drop it as soon as I get it). Formed in 2000, MBD released Bitter Drink in 2012. What is unusual is the distinct sound of cellist Sarah Ballie brings to the murder ballads which form the bulk of the songs on this record. Tails of greed, lust, frailty, and the struggle of good and evil inform this record. Johnny Cash is not dead as Adam Turla channels the distinctive sound. I loved this record. “Lost River” will move you with its haunting sound and Turla’s passionate vocal. Try” Straight At The Sun”, “Hard World” and the aforementioned “Lost River.”

As for the Kickstarter Covers, these are all songs submitted to the band who perform magic on these songs. Rarely does a band perform cover versions that match the originals but I think you will be surprised by MBD’s take on some very well known songs. Try: “Never Tear Us Apart” (INXS), “Some Kind of Hate” (Misfits), and “Hold On” (Wilson Phillips – You’re going to love This One!)

thethermals Desparate GroundWith Desperate Ground, Portland’s Thermals take only a very a slight deviation than past albums. Sonically, the Thermals are always going to be the Thermals. 10 slices of fast past political slogans jammed full force in your face and ending in 26 minutes. Short and sweet and to the point. The Thermals have never been apologists, and it is unlikely they will start now. The formula works, and if you are a fan of the other three releases More Parts Per Million, Fuckin A and The Body, The Blood, The Machine, then you are going to love this one. A recommendation – don’t give this short shrift. The songs will grow on you as will Hutch Harris’ voice which at first listen is somewhat abrasive. Like the Buzzcocks, the songs are short with the longest track coming in at 3:13. Try “I Go Alone,” “Where I Stand” and “Our Love Survives.”

Sticky Fingers - Caress Your Soul (Cover Art)Earlier this year or late last year, I noted that Australia produces better music than us. Sticky Fingers from Annandale Australia, plays a brand of reggae influenced rock (think Sublime) on their debut, Caress Your Soul. The title hints at what you will find within, with a mixture of rock steady beats and terrific melodies all touched by what can only be described as an Australian Indie sound. This is the sound of Long Beach – a sunny day record with a large amount of charm. I can smell the sensamilla now. Try” Clouds + Cream”, Australian Street” and title track “Caress Your Soul.”

Until, next time…have a blast!

KFR

April 28 2013 Drop Box Notes

A little early this month, and as always I will update these Drop Box Notes as I find time and energy. There is (I hope as always) some terrific new stuff to go along with last month’s releases.

As I telegraphed in an earlier post, the new Del Lords record is in the Drop Box for those of you who failed to pick it up earlier (#35). I think there is a pretty good mix of old and new in this months batch of releases with Big Star‘s Record Store Day limited release Nothing Can Hurt Me, a new Depeche Mode record ( that is actually good and an interesting listen), a new reformed Fall Out Boy LP which traverses some new areas while still sounding like pre-breakup FOB, and Grapes of Wrath (who were a favorite of mine in the late 80s and early 90s and who are also reformed and back with a new release ( I saw them open for Guadalcanal Diary at the Green Door in Claremont CA).   Some of the newer artists you might recognize because they previously were in the drop box are Kurt Vile, the Thermals and Thee Oh Sees and who continue to release exciting new music.

Finally, I’d like to think that the music added here is pretty diverse covering the gambit from pop – folk – singer-songwriter- alt-country- rock – indie- electronic and punk, but if there is something you are truly seeking please leave a reply or drop a note in the drop box and I’ll seek it out.

And away we go:

01 Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze [2013]

02 Wavves – Afraid of Heights [2013]

03 Veils – Time Stays, We Go [2013]

04 Grapes of Wrath – High Road [2013]

05 Dawes – Stories Don’t End [2013]

06 Filthy Boy – Smile That Won’t Go Down [2013]

07 Murder By Death – As You Wish Kickstarter Covers [2013]

08 Murder By Death – Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon [2012]

09 Thermals – Desperate Ground [2013]

10 Sticky Fingers – Caress Your Soul [2013]

11 Virginmarys – King of Conflict [Deluxe Edition] [2013]

12 Wheeler Brothers – Gold Boots Glitter [2013]

13 Young Dreams – Between Places [2013]

14 Dead Sons – The Hollers and the Hymns [2013]

15 Because They Can – Alive EP [2013]

16 Leagues – You Belong Here [2013]

17 Lydia – Devil [2013]

18 Purling Hiss – Water on Mars [2013]

19 Rival Schools – Found [2013]

20 Satan Takes A Holiday – Who Do You Voodoo [2013]

21 Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin [2013]

22 Transit – Young New England [2013]

23 Depeche Mode – Delta Machine [Deluxe Edition] [2013]

24 Foot Village – Make Memories [2013]

25 Jil Is Lucky – In The Tigers Bed [2013]

26 British India – Controller [2013]

27 Rilo Kiley – RKives [2013]

28 Tullycraft – Lost in Light Rotation [2013]

29 Ocean Blue – Ultramarine [2013]

30 Woolen Men – The Woolen Men [2013]

31 Young Statues – Age Isn’t Ours [2013]

32 Mudhoney – Vanishing Point [2013]

33 Les Enfants – Les Enfants EP [2013]

34 Finish Ticket – Tears You Apart [2013]

35 Del Lords – Elvis Club [2013]

36 Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me [2013]

37 Acres Of Lions – Home(s) [2013]

38 Masked Intruder – Masked Intruder [2012]

39 Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll [2013]

40 Rival Schools – Found [2013]

41 Pyyramids – Brightest Darkest Day [2013]

42 Bicycle Thief – Fields [2013]

43 Enter The Haggis – The Modest Revolution [2013]

44 Face To Face – Three Chords and a Half Truth [2013]

45 Paper Aeroplanes – Little Letters [2013]

46 Peace – In Love [Deluxe Edition] [2013]

47 ACB’s – Little Leaves [2013]

48 French Films – White Orchid [2013]

49 States – Room To Run (Reissue) [2012]

50 Neighbourhood – I Love You [2013]

April 07 2013 Drop Box Notes

Notes 04.07.13

As I was commenting to Tida this morning as I picked up my “venti no-whip mocha”, this is shaping up to be a very good year for new music. This month’s drop box continues the trend with a diverse array of new music and significantly, some classic reissues.

One of the clear signs of aging is when you recall favorably an album being released when you still had hair or seeing a band during the tour that marked their heyday. Such is the case this month with the inclusion of two albums that mark their 25th Anniversary this year: Fine Young Cannibals, 2nd album The Raw and The Cooked, and INXS’ 6th album Kick.

The Fine Young Cannibals were an easy choice for me to like when they first arrived on the scene in the mid-eighties. Bassist David Steele and guitarist Andy Cox were both former members of The English Beat and the self-titled debut album was loaded with catchy dance pop nuggets framed by singer Roland Gift’s unique voice. The first record had this amazing song “Johnny Come Home” which was a hit record in Vancouver as well as this unique cover of Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” but the second album, The Raw and The Cooked, was frankly a hit machine. Most people will point to the ubiquitous hits “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing” as being the driving forces on this record, but for me the game changer was the cover of the Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?” Not merely a Voice/American Idol karaoke version, this version heightens the soul from the original. Not a bum track on the record, but unless you purchased the album you missed some deep tracks from the record. Try also “I’m Not The Man I Used To Be” and the sweet “The Flame.” Did you realize this was once a Billboard Number 1 record in the U.S?

Similarly, INXS’ sixth record is a brilliant piece of pop rock music that after 25 years has not shorn its luster, unless you live in Vancouver where this record is still being played on CFOX like it is a new release. When I was back in town for Christmas last year I heard at least 4 tracks from Kick in two days. Well, since I don’t listen to any radio while at home or in my own car, I’ve not become desensitized to the brilliance of this record. Which again brings me to a point I’ve made earlier in these notes, in several different ways: record companies often have no freaking clue as to what they are going to do with a record. Kick was almost not released at all by Atlantic Records: Atlantic Records was not happy with Kick, and as INXS’ manager Chris Murphy remembers:

“They hated it, absolutely hated it. They said there was no way they could get this music on rock radio. They said it was suited for black radio, but they didn’t want to promote it that way. The president of the label told me that he’d give us $1 million to go back to Australia and make another album.”

What you have in Kick is a happy accident that 25 years later, stands as a classic record that is overlooked by the mainstream, but it is hard to deny the significance of amazing number of singles from this record which are perhaps unparalleled for a rock band in modern memory: 4 tracks were U.S. Top 10 Singles: “NewSensation”, “Never Tear Us Apart”, “Devil Inside” and No. 1 “Need You Tonight”, but this misses out the amazing “Kick”, and “Mystify”. No picks here. You’ve likely all heard this record before, so now is the time to revisit it with ears 25 years older than when you first heard it.

Speaking of old bands, Wire’s new record, is really an old record finally completed more than 30 years after the band wrote the original material. For those of you who missed Wire, their influence on punk and modern music is undeniable. (Evidence of Wire’s impact abounds but for new initiates try these: “Heartbeat” -Live on Rockpalast (http://youtu.be/AYv3TqwCle4 ) and “1 2 X U” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdNS4g8vOnc&feature=share&list=RD02AYv3TqwCle4 )

Following three perfect records: Pink FlagChairs Missing and 154, the songs on Change Becomes Us, Wire revisits songs written following the release of 154 immediately before their first breakup in 1979. Fragments of these songs were released on 1981’s Document and Eyewitness a recording of a live performance that featured, almost exclusively, new material, which was described as “disjointed”, “unrecognizable as rock music” and “almost unlistenable”. The LP came packaged with an EP of a different performance of more new material. So, here more than 30 years later, Wire comes back to record its 4th record renewed after having released 10 records. (Wire reunited in 1997). Still a powerful sonic source, this “new album” fits nicely where it originally should have – Number 4. And seriously, if you’ve never heard of Wire before today, for shame. There are so many bands that would have never existed but for Wire. Try: “Adore Your Island”, “Stealth of a Stork”, and “Eels Sang” (Note: Simon Cowell reference).

Moving slightly forward in the history of rock, Suede were legends in England and absolutely ignored in the U.S, and I know why. They were two British for the U.S. and as the Jam found out before them, being too British is the death sentence for any chance of commercial success across the pond. Perhaps that is why so many English rock acts found there hopes dashed on arrival to the U.S.,making an impact only on the coasts of the United States (finding success only in New York and Los Angeles) but largely incapable of penetrating the vast wasteland of middle America. Believe me, Suede were huge in England and the colonies and between 1993 and 1996. With the release of debut record Suede, Dog Man Star (1994) and Coming Up (1996), Suede were the flag bearers for the Britpop scene that saw them surpassed by Blur in The U.S. and Canada. In an article about the British music press’ “ferocious one-upmanship campaign” of the mid-1990s, Caroline Sullivan, writing for The Guardian in February 1996, noted Suede‘s appearance as an unsigned band on the cover of Melody Maker claiming that they were “ Suede, The Best New Band In England” as a pivotal moment in the history of Britpop:

Suede appeared on Melody Maker’s cover before they had a record out… The exposure got them a record deal, brought a bunch of like-minded acts to the public’s attention, and helped create Britpop. It was the best thing to happen to music in years, and it mightn’t have happened without that Suede cover.

The drama in Suede was heightened by lead singer Brett Anderson’s bitter distaste of Britpop and the tensions during the recording of the amazing Dog Man Star a brutal record that is the antithesis of everything Britpop recorded and written while Anderson was holed up doing massive amounts of heroin. Anderson left the band during the recording and Suede carried on without him. So here we are 11 years after Suede’s last record in 2002, with a new release and Anderson again leading the band. What is Suede about now? Absolutely pop perfection and Anderson is still freaking bitter. Of Suede’s new album, Bloodsports Anderson stated: “What does it sound like? Oh! I don’t know, probably like some artist on some drug, engaged in a game of quoits with some other artist on another drug, you can adopt your own journalistic cliché if you haven’t grown up yet.” A not so subtle nod to Dog Man Star and the polarized reception it received when it was released by the British press. Suede re-constituted, make beautiful records. This is a headphone record and the album is catchy, melodic, with Anderson in amazing form. The first half of the record is catchy and upbeat, the last half more reflective. So, place this on random in your iTunes and enjoy. Try: “It Starts and Ends With You”, “Snowblind” and “For The Strangers.”

Hey, did you know the Strokes have a new record? Yup, just when you thought the Strokes were cooked signaled by the release of singer Julian Casablancas solo recording 2009, Phrazes For the Young, they are back and contrary to the popular music press this is actually a fine record that belongs in your collection. Really, if you read the press regarding Comedown Machine, I guess that is why they are called critics, try to pigeon hole the Strokes as the same band that broke though in 2001. They are not the same band and frankly they don’t need to be. The trick is to listen with fresh ears as if you had never heard of the Strokes before today and then pick out what you love. The Strokes always have had more than a nod to the 80’s ( remember Wire a few minutes ago?) but what made them different was Casablancas hysterical vocals and the angular guitars that penetrate the keyboards and other sounds. Such is still true here. The Strokes are unashamedly purveyors of what is essentially dance-rock and this is a fun record – you just need to follow your heart. Try” 50-50”, “One Way Trigger” and “Partners in Crime”.

Taking a step back to look at bands from around the time of the Strokes, the Postal Service, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Jimmy Tamborello, have reissued their 1993 debut record Give Up with a bunch of extras from those sessions. Recorded separately with Gibbard and Tamborello recording the tracks separately exchanging CD-R’s by mail, the record changed indie music in the U.S. as it became a commercially viable form of music. Prior to this LP, indie music was relegated to college stations. This was the game changer record that paved the way for later commercial success by the Arcade Fire (Grammy winners). Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley sings the backups on this record after being cold called by Ben Gibbard to sing on the recording, the two having not previously met ( More about her next month as you’ll get the Rkives record in the drop box.) So looking back, what made this record special? Great songwriting highlighted by opener “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”. This is electronic indie that makes you want to pay attention to what’s going on with the lyrics. And that is the secret …”I’m staring at the asphalt wondering what’s going on underneath me…. I am a visitor here…. This is music concerned with awkwardness, love, friendship, and where one stands in the big picture. Most people are familiar with “Such Great Heights” (highlighted by Owl City utilizing elements in the irritating “Fireflies.” I was not blown away when absolutely no one recognized the similarities.) but the rest of the record has some shining moments that looking back, would have and should have been hits. Try: “We Will Become Silhouettes”, “Suddenly Everything Has Changed”, and “Be Still My Heart.”

It is no secret that I am a huge Replacements fan. So, when I hear that the Replacements are reuniting after more than 20 years after a vicious and bitter breakup In January of this year Replacements members Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars released just 250 copies of Songs for Slim, an EP of newly recorded material. Proceeds from the auction benefited their former guitarist Slim Dunlap, who suffered a stroke last year and was hospitalized for nine months. You can read more about this very worthwhile record on www.songsforslim.com and the project but as for the music on this EP it would be easy to praise anything recorded by the original members, but this is truly a great record. “I’m Not Saying” is worthy of a place in the bands greatest hits catalog. I know it is unlikely that they will ever record together again with only a tragedy bringing them together, but one can hope that this will help them find perspective, because frankly, the world needs more Replacements music. Now, I’m sad. Try: them all.

Another old guy still making great music but secretly disguising who he is for the kids who will not buy music for old people is Thurston Moore’s new band, Chelsea Light Moving. Sonic Youth should need no introduction as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Without Sonic Youth there is no Nirvana. While Sonic Youth is generally recognized as influencing a whole generation of bands (they themselves being influenced by the Ramones and the 70’s New York punk scene), Sonic Youth was as challenging a punk band as walked the planet mixing punk rock and noise into an abrasive melodic frenzy. Chelsea Light Moving assembles the best of Sonic Youth’s moments into a melodic frenzy of wall of noise guitars. “Sleeping Where I Fall” collects it all together and exemplifies Thurston’s new direction – melodic squalls of dissonance with moments of clarity with Thurston’s “Lou Reed” like vocals floating through the mix. This is music to clean your palate from the twee indie pop music. This is what music sounds like after the divorce from Kim Gordon your band mate and spouse after thirty years. A cathartic release that touches on the earliest of Sonic Youth records, this is a can’t miss recording. However, be forewarned, if you liked the Postal Service record discussed above, this is really challenging but well worth the effort. Try: “Burroughs”, “Sleeping Where I Fall” and “Lip”.

Alkaline Trio write what amounts to the sweet spot of pop punk-goth music. With a nod to Elvis Costello’s brilliant album My Aim is True, on My Shame is True, Alkaline Trio return with their ninth studio record and as consistent as ever, an album full of great songs. Matt Skiba is not the same songwriter as when this band formed in 1996 in McHenry Illinois, and as he matures, so does the band’s music. Be forewarned, this is a break up record written after Skiba’s breakup with his girlfriend – “There’s just this underlying theme of shame in the album,” Skiba says. He wrote his portion of the record — eight of the twelve songs — for one person, a girlfriend he split with shortly beforehand. “I wrote them as if no one but her was going to hear them,” he says. “That’s kind of the way I used to write our original records because I didn’t think anyone was gonna hear them.” Skiba and the ex remain friends. “She’s on the goddamn cover of the record,” in fact.

All that aside, these songs are well crafted and while touching elements of the early records, these are refreshing and brutally honest. Check out “I’m Only Here To Disappoint” for a lesson on self-loathing. If I had to pick out what makes a great song, it is the dichotomy between a catchy melody framing a chorus of negative lyrics. Try: “Kiss You To Death”, “I Wanna Be A Warhol” and “One Last Dance.”

I’ve included the Cribs anthology Payola and the rarer Payola Demos (released as a freebie with NME magazine) to remind you of a great British band who like Suede were missed by the U.S. and Canada but who have written more than a decade of great music. The band consists of twins Gary and RyanJarman and their younger brother RossJarman. They were subsequently joined by ex-The Smiths and Modest Mouse guitarist Johnny Marr who was made a formal member of the group in 2008. If this is your introduction, then Payola should not disappoint. The Cribs started playing around England at the same time as the much loved Libertines without the attendant drama of Pete Doherty and Kate Moss intruding on the music. Much like Ash, the Cribs were part of the guitar band revolution of the early 2000s that pumped life back into music (See the Strokes above). As you can see from this month’s drop box, guitar bands are coming back as the cycle continues. What made the Cribs special (other than the fact that Johnny Marr joined them to play guitar. See last month’s notes for more about Johnny) is consistency. Consistency in bands is a good thing. That doesn’t mean that every song has to sound the same, rather it is about a certain quality. Like the Hoodoo Gurus, whose songs still sound fresh today and should have been hits on radio, so it goes with the Cribs, who are rock stars in England but remain a niche band here. Front covers on the music magazines in England, no acknowledgment here. One can only guess as to the reason for the rampant regionalism, but for now, you can enjoy why the Cribs record will end up on repeat for me. Start with the catchy “Hey Scenesters” (2005), “Men’s Needs” and of course the Replacements cover “Bastards of Young”.

Saturday Looks Good To Me has been kicking around since 2000. Essentially FredThomas (former member of His Name Is Alive, Lovesick, Flashpapr), with a number of friends, the project has evolved over the years into a more stable adventure. Originally conceived as a bedroom project, the band has consistently released 7’’, EP’s and a few albums through Polyvinyl. Although dubbed an “experimental indie” band, in reality, this is fairly indie forward soul tinged rock with catchy melodic hooks. On One Kiss Ends It All, Scheduled for release on May 21, 2013, Thomas is joined by a new vocalist, Carole Gray and the band picks up where they left off almost 5 years ago, with a fresh set of catchy melodic indie rock. Highlights are “Negative Space” a piano driven ballad that harkens back to early Motown recordings. Try: “Are You Kissing Anyone?”, “Sunglasses” and “Invisible Friend.”

 Among my favorites of the past month is II by Blackmail. From Germany, the band has taken the best elements from the punk alternative metal universe and woven them into a cohesive hard driving record full of sing along type melodies. While this type of music is rarely heard in the U.S. anymore, there is a sort of alt metal revolution taking place in Europe, and while it is unlikely this record will be big anywhere except Germany (and this drop box), it is hard to deny the likeability of this record. A little different experience from the norm, this is a fresh look at alt-metal. Worth a spin. Try: “Kiss The Sun”, “The Rush” and “Sleep Well Madness”.

Kate Nash should be somewhat familiar to some of you as I dropped her Death Proof EP into the drop box last year. Initially a Myspace signing from Britain in 2006 and the purveyor of catchy indie pop, this third record finds Nash rocking things up a bit. Not quite the riot grrrl experience described by some critics, Girls Talk is a refreshing rock record full of catchy quick paced songs highlighting Nash’s pleasant husky tinged vocals. While some of this is disposable, there is enough Go-Go’s like material with some great guitar playing to make for repeated play. The Cramps influenced “Death Proof” is typical with Nash’s clever lyrics sung crisply through the rockabilly beat. There is something for everyone here with distortion, alt-county, indie pop and a catchiness that will make you smile. Try: “3 a.m.”, “Are You There Sweetheart” and the Jonathan Richman inspired “Your So Cool, I’m So Freaky”.

Another completely different female vocal experience is Giant Drag’s new album “Waking Up is Hard To Do, which like Nash’s record is self-released. As should be obvious now, the music industry is rapidly changing with more artists self-releasing music as labels continue to shrivel and die. Annie Hardy, the sole member of Giant Drag has a fairly full plate since forming the proto-band in Los Angeles in 2003. Waking Up is Hard to Do is only the second LP since that formation and according to Hardy who announced via her blog that this was likely the last Giant Drag recording two days before it was released. So what about the music? Giant Drag traverses a number of territories all highlighted by Hardy’s unique vocal styling. The guitars crunch and fuzz, the melodies and countermelodies make for a blissful listen. Too bad this is the last we’ll see of Giant Drag. I suspect we will see a new Hardy girl venture, but this last effort was worth the wait. Try: “Won’t Come Around”, the glam T-Rex-ish “Sobriety is a Sobering Experience” (compare with Bang a Gong (Get It On), and “Heart Carl.”

D.C’s Deathfix formed after Brendan Canty (Drummer – Fugazi) and Rich Morel (Vocals – Morel, Blowoff) met while touring in Bob Mould‘s band. Having discovered a shared affinity for the sounds of 1972 – particularly glam and progressive rock – they started recording in a garage space. Shortly thereafter, they recruited multi-instrumentalists Devin Ocampo (Faraquet, Medications) and Mark Cisneros (Medications) to form the rhythm section. On this first LP, the band’s sound is best described as glam Big Star meets the 90’s with the songs punchy guitars evoking early Mott The Hoople and T-Rex, particularly on the 8 minute “Transmission” which is a slow burner that starts new wave and ends up in full on sax skronk. Morel’s baritone vocals are perfect and the neo-progressive rhythm’s are perfectly balanced which keeps you listening even though some of the songs are quite lengthy. If you are used to bands on Discord, then this is a sharp left as Deathfix has none of the hardcore elements in common with other bands on the label. In fact, this is likely the most commercial release on the label. A solid first effort and definitely would make for a great live show. Try: “Transmission”, “Low Lying Dream”, and “Mind Control”.

Perth Australia’s Tame Impala follow up their outstanding Lonerism LP released late last year (and reviewed in the drop box) with the Mind Mischief EP featuring two remixes of the Mind Mischief single. Normally I’m not a big remix fan, but as if Tame Impala’s psychedelic garage sound was not trippy enough, these two remixes (Ducktails and Field) change it up and give the original new meaning and tone.

Chapel Hill North Carolina residents Kingsbury Manx, released the Bronze Age, a couple of weeks ago, and it has kind of snuck up on me. While this is the band’s first LP in 4 years, the Bronze Age picks up where the band last album left off (Ascenseur Ouvert! (Odessa, 2009)) with an album full of pleasant chamber pop, remarkable well played. While the group over the course of six albums has consistently played what is best described as “psych-folk” this release explores more divergent aspects of the genre and in places is reminiscent of the Let’s Active/ Chris Stamey college rock of the 90’s days. There is some gorgeous playing on this record, particularly the beautiful bright Monkees influenced “Handsprings”. While the majority of the album tips in favor of the folk side of the genre equation, this is essentially dinner music best appreciated when you are in the mood for guitar light. No hardcore here. Try: “In The Catacombs”, “Future Hunter” and “Concubine”.

Speaking of psych-rock groups (see Tame Impala), Philadelphia’s DRGN King explores similar territory with its synthesizer laden version of psychedelia. An important aside – new psychedelia is markedly different from the psychedelic sounds most people are familiar with from the mid to late 60’s. Pioneered by the Byrds, and Yardbirds, emerging as a genre during the mid-1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in the United Kingdom and United States, such as Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, The Doors and Pink Floyd. New psych rock explores the same influences but is much more upbeat although with the same jam/improvisional elements characteristic of the genre. In this regard “Menswear” typifies the new version of the genre with upbeat danceable pop interspersed with psych rock elements, i.e. the psych-out portions. Like a number of the releases in this month’s drop box there are certainly glam elements ( think T-Rex’s Electric Warrior) but DRGN King on Paragraph Nights are not merely derivative. This is new music taking the genre in new directions. A pleasant surprise, particularly when you thought there was nothing new on the horizon. Try” Menswear”, “Barbarians” and the funk-psych dance number “Altamont Sunrise”.

Lady Lamb The Beekeeper is a crappy name. C’mon, not every band’s name is genius. It took me several attempts to remember the name when I first stumbled across the lovely and powerful vocals of Aly Spaltro who has adopted Lady Lamb The Beekeeper as her recording moniker. A shy teen in Brunswick Maine her first recordings were recorded on 8 track and released anonymously (from the counter of a record store next to a DVD rental shop where she worked) with only an email address on the label as she was afraid of public reaction. Five years down the line, and recording her official debut in an actual recording studio, on Ripely Pine, Spaltro exudes the charm that should make her a mega star much the same as Adele became a star. Sure there are some similarities, and the music hype machine will play a role, but the songwriting here is just as strong as Adele but not nearly as bitter, and the strength of these songs is clearly Spaltro’s vocals and the sweet melodies. Already an NPR radio favorite, look for her to break through to the masses because frankly, there are not enough quality vocalists with this kind of tone in the commercial market. (Eve if you are reading this far – pick up this one!) Try: “Aubergine”, “Bird Balloons” and “Mezzanine.”

Mazes sophomore release Ores & Minerals is a change in direction from the awesome debut Mazes Blazes which was in the drop box last year (also containing the track “My Drugs” which was in my best of list last year). Sure,  the guitar band influences are still present evoking thoughts of Television and the Feelies and the touchstone of this genre the mighty Velvet Underground, but there are other things going on here as well. From the 7 minute twin guitar fueled Golden Earring “Radar Love” inspired opener “Bodies” though the closer “Slice” Mazes picks itself from the indie lo-fi world it started in on Mazes Blazes and stretches into new territory. I think they are onto something big. Time will tell. Try: “Ores & Minerals”, “Jaki” and “Bodies”.

Heza, the third album from the New Orleans based duo, Generationals, will likely confuse some people as the sound resembles Vampire Weekend at its heart. However, after a few listens, you can see that there is something else going on. Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer craft pop hooks on an electronic bed with sharp guitars that are also reminiscent of Phoenix ( See last months Bankrupt! In the drop box) but without the airy ambience of those tracks. This is pleasant electro-pop your gonna love! Try: “Spinoza”, “Put A Light On”, and “Awake”.

Transitioning to more guitar influenced indie on Ride Your Heart, Bleached (from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles) kick start their debut album with “Looking For A Fight,” as sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin blend traditional punk snottiness nee 1977 with a California sun drenched sound to create bright punk rock with both attitude and heart. Similar to the Runaways in sound with a hint of Ramones, this is a fun little record with a DIY edge that makes for some interesting listening. Really, if you close your eyes you can here Joan Jett ( when she was young, not old bitter and jaded) cranking some great riffage and Cherie Currie, the angel, singing songs of love, disappointment, and loss with the clear moments that make the journey worthwhile. Try: “Outta My Mind”, title track “Ride Your Heart” and “Dead Boy”.

Caveman’s self-titled sophomore album, is going to raise some questions as to why this type of music is included in the drop box. I’ve thought long and hard about what makes this particular genre interesting to me given that it generally becomes faceless music after a while. The band’s name is also misleading as one would at first blush think: Kelly is putting in another indie garage band (see Thee Oh Sees later), but this is anything but. This is exactly what you would expect when you think of indie rock. Melodic guitar driven rock music well played and with a male sounding vocalist. If the Hold Steady were still actively playing, this is what that next record would sound like. However, given the time shift of the past five years where attention spans are fleeting (even mine admittedly), this was a surprise because although this sounds like background music at [insert hipster lounge name] it is powerfully simple and pure – and that is why it is in the drop box this month. It’s pure enjoyable and simple with little of the pretentiousness or precociousness of the typical indie band. On this second LP, the follow up to Coco Beware (2011) the New York five piece have developed a more cohesive sound with Beach Boys like harmonies carrying the cohesively written tunes. Typical of East Village bands, this is what you would see as the opener for the National. Try: “Shut You Down”, Strange To Suffer” and “In The City”.