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

March 02 2013 Drop Box Notes

Notes 03.02.13

Well another month has passed without incident. Picking up where last month left off, this month’s batch of new releases continues the trend with a number of excellent releases in a wide variety of genres. I’ve had a few extra minutes to drop some notes about the releases this month, and have also included a few nuggets from last month as well.

I am somewhat addicted to the FIDLAR (Fuck it Dude, Life’s A Risk) record. The debut from this Los Angeles based proto-skate-punk (see a new sub-sub-genre of punk!) is interesting beyond the fact that it also signals a revival of a beloved sound from the early 80’s hardcore scene (think Descendants/All, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks) updated with modern sound recording and splashed with early southern flavored new wave (B-52’s, Dash Rip Rock) and the Orange County punk scene (Agent Orange, Channel 3) all perfectly balanced. In short, there is nothing like this currently in the punk universe. Catchy melodic choruses, with California retard themes. Once you hear “Cheap Beer” you will be hooked. The album is short in time but long in songs. Awesome crunchy guitars! Try “5 to 9”, “Wake Skate Bake” and “Wait for the Man.”

First up this month, is The Fiery Piano. Apart from the crappy and somewhat deceptive band name, Second Space is pop great record. Essentially a bedroom project, the sound is somewhat like Bright Eyes, and the electro-indie-pop is catchy, and at times gorgeous.  This debut LP, which Gustaf Montelius recorded in his home of Stockholm, Sweden, opens with an instrumental which flows nicely into the album’s centerpiece, the insanely catchy “ More Like A Tiger, Less Like A Dove.” For a one man record, this is not self-indulgent or precocious like most of these types of projects. Try, “Keep Dreaming On”, “Companions” and “Pegasus.”

I recently read an article on “noise rock” as a genre. As I thought about some of the bands mentioned, Velvet Underground, The Birthday Party (more about Nick Cave later!), Sonic Youth, and Scratch Acid, as well as a number that were not, Teenage Jesus and The Jerks, The Contortions, Arto Lindsay, and the entire Amphetamine Reptile roster in the late 80’s, it dawned on me that Pissed Jeans, on its latest, and IMHO greatest record, Honeys has finally achieved the perfect balance between noise terrorists and melody. From Allentown PA this is a working person’s hardcore band. The distinguishing feature from hardcore as a genre, is that there is no metal influences (or prog rock signature lyrics/ death metal decapitation soundscapes). It would take a while to sort the differences in writing, but trust me, you no the differences when you hear then. In the noise genre, there is still a garage rock undercurrent that is palpable, and unlike hardcore, there is actual singing as opposed to growling. More to the point, on Honeys, Pissed Jeans translates their considerable live performance to a solid record. Try “Cafeteria Food,” “Romanticize Me” and “Teenage Adult.”

Moving to the other end of the rock spectrum is Matt Pond (no longer going by Matt Pond P.A) who writes solid alt-rock songs in the vein of the Replacements. For those who know me, the inclusion of The Lives Inside The Lines In Your Hand in the drop box is not a surprise. I have followed this band for the last 15 years and still play on my iPad songs from the debut, Deer Apartments in 1998. Over the span of 8 LPs and 8 EPs, Matt Pond is consistently excellent. This record continues the trend. Catchy electro rock with thoughtful lyrics, these records suck you in and I often catch myself singing along. Like the greatest college rock albums of the 90’s (Marshall Crenshaw, dB’s, Smithereens) these are traditionally structured modern rock songs that do what all great songs do – they touch you emotionally, and make you want to sing along. So, put this in your car, turn it up loud, and feel the positive vibrations emanating forth. Try “Hole In My Heart,” “Let Me Live,” and “Love To Get Used.”

Another sunny pop record is Alpaca Sports. Much like last years San Cisco record, this is an alternative pop record of the highest order. It is hard to not like a record where the chorus of the song is “I used to kiss her…just for fun.” This is another one person project, from … wait….I’ll bet you can guess….Sweden. This time, Andreas Jonnsson, from Gotenberg, is the tunesmith on the self-titled Alpaca Sports an immensely enjoyable jangle pop record. Andreas gets some help in the form of some great back up vocals from Amanda Akerman and a couple of other friends that add highlights to these sunny songs. Not much you can say, really. Jangly to the max, this is pure candy. So, with that said, be forewarned, this can be easily overplayed, and puts that fun record that was so popular last year to shame. Try “Just For Fun,” “I Was Running” and Telephone.”

Pure Love is something of a punk super-group comprised of former Gallows singer Frank Carter and former Hope of Conspiracy/Suicide File guitarist Jim Carrol. Pure Love is a long way away from either of these bands hardcore roots. This is as the name suggests punk rock for the big screen in the form of Anthems. Frank Carter can actually sing and these are well formed, punk songs tinged with power pop (think Cheap Trick/ Blue Oyster Cult). When you need a loud rock record to play for your friends without wanting to scare them off – this is it. Like always, in a perfect world some of this would be on radio, but as you know – it is not. “Beach of Diamonds” was made for radio and would fit nicely on a Gaslight Anthem record. Try: “Handsome Devils Club,” “Riot Song” and “Bury My Bones.”

Ready to enter the mod garage? Palma Violets distill elements of the Jam/Who with the Arctic Monkeys, and for a band that formed in 2011, are already touted as the next big English thing. Formed in Lambeth, England, obvious influences are the Libertines. Like all of the records in the drop box, this is not perfect, but if 180 is any indication of where they are going as a band, then the hype is real. While I have finally conceded that popular radio may never see a guitar band again, it is precisely why I love music is bands like this who form, release a couple of youthful blast of energy into the ethos, and then either breakup, write shit or die. Hopefully that doesn’t happen here…but the odds are that it does. So, enjoy this for a time, because this is a pretty damn sweet record. Try “List of the Summer Wine”, “Step Up for The Cool Cats” (Love the mellotron!)  and “I Found Love.”

Like the Guards record last month, the National Rifle record took me by surprise. (I note here that The National Rifle is the 3rdPennsylvania based band in this month’s drop box). The National Rifle is from Philadelphia, and Almost Endless is their debut record). You know how there is certain sound that drags you into listening further to a song? Well, this record has a ton of tat particular sound. Maybe its Hugh Moretta’s voice, or the harmonies with keyboardist Lynna Stancatto, or the crunchy guitars. But whatever combination of elements, this record has it for me. Lyrically, the album is themed around frustration and the songs emphasize the inability to release tension through repetition.  If you can get past playing “Almost Endless” on repeat, try also “Night High” and “Coke Beat.”

Nick Cave is older than me. That is old. He also should not need any introduction. He is the former leader of the Birthday Party, The Bad Seeds, and Grinderman, an author, screenwriter, actor and odd looking dude. And he has made a record in Push The Sky Away that I am positive will end up on many of the year end best of lists, and frankly, deservedly so. This is a masterwork in the true sense of the word. For those unfamiliar with the genre, Nick Cave delves in murder ballads but this record is very accessible to the casual listener. I saw some recent video from this tour, and it is captivating. Try “Wide Lovely Eyes” (Sounds a little like Bono here), “Water’s Edge” and “Push The Sky Away.”

On Out of View, London hipsters the History of Apple Pie contextualize early indie heroes like Pavement, Pixies, Throwing Muses through a blender adding layers of feedback and singer Miki Berenyi’s sharp vocals with heaps of pop melodies into a catchy assortment of tunes that will put some bounce in your step. Sure it is reminiscent of the 90’s college rock (originally called alt-rock ie. alternative to rock n roll) but the pleasure derived from the experience is hard to deny. Start with “Mallory” which is four minutes of psychedelic pop awesomeness, then try “Your So Cool” and “Do it Worng.”

Keeping with the aggressive garage sound theme of this month’s drop box, Scottish indie pop trio of Eilidh Rodgers, Ruary MacLean, and Rachel Aggs better known as Golden Grrrls also bring around the 60’s garage sounds in a fresh way. Opener “New Pop” sums up where we are, 35 years after the Buzzcocks broke open the punk pop barrier. There is always something interesting in boy-girl vocals, and although Golden Grrls is lumped in with what is quickly becoming the indie lo-fi scene, there is more going on with this record than other contemporary purveyors of this sound. A scant 30 minutes of playing time, but it passes quickly and leaves you wanting to hear a little more, a mark of distinction in the glut of new music hitting the world as seemingly everyone has a band. We’ve Got is a consistently good record, though be forewarned, there are some thin moments ( Paul Simon) but in context, it maybe I’ve not spent enough time with the record to discern the lyrical charms of this song. Try “Older Today”, “Take Your Time,” and “Date It.”

This is probably a good time to bring up modern guitar god (winner of the 2013 Godlike Genius Award from NME) Johnny Marr (ex of the Smiths, Modest Mouse & The Cribs) and his first solo record The Messenger. Although Marr claims that the Smiths invented indie ( not really true – I’d put Joy Division (“Love Will Tear Us Apart” 7”) , Buzzcocks (Spiral Scratch EP), Television (“Little Johnny Jewel” 7’’) and The Nerves ( The Nerves EP) at the forefront of the who started it first debate, but it is hard to argue with the melodies this guy has written over the past 35 years or so. All that said, The Messenger is a straight forward indie rock record that has some great guitar work and leans heavily towards the type of music he was writing with the Cribs as a gun for hire. Although the vocals are a little weak (somewhat the same vocal tone throughout) there is enough here for a good time as long as you mix this within a playlist and do not play the whole thing from front to back. The guitars shimmer, the choruses are catchy, and although this record will fade quickly from most people’s memory given the difficulty of comparing this album to Marr’s previous bands, particularly the Smiths recordings which still sound relevant and amazing after more than 30 years. Note: If you are going back to check, then skip the Morrissey solo years which are crap. The first Smiths record blows the doors off of everything Morrissey recorded by himself. The reason why that record is till amazing is of course, Johnny Marr. Try “Upstart”, “Generate! Generate!” and “New Town Velocity.”

Speaking of people who have been around for a while, but not nearly as prolific, Kevin Shields finally completes a My Bloody Valentine record. Originally formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1983 the band’s lineup has since 1987 consisted of founding members Kevin Shields (guitar and vocals) and Colm Ó Cíosóig (drums) with singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher and bassist Debbie Googe. If you have not heard Loveless, a record which I put in the dropbox a last year, then go back and take a listen. Released in 1991, the album which took 2 years to make and nearly bankrupt their label (Creation) is a masterpiece. After the critical acclaim of that record, Shields, an admitted perfectionist, has claimed he has shelved 7 albums worth of material in the interim. So how long has it taken to release this new record, the bands third? 22 freakin’ years. Was it worth the wait then becomes the question. I had given up long ago; when suddenly without warning, m b v was dropped on the world on February 3, 2013. On m b v , after listening to the record with my headphones for a week and trying to not make the inevitable comparisons to Loveless, Shields has definitely captured the dynamic dissonance and the impenetrable wall of sound that changed guitar music forever. You have to think about what music means to you when you listen to m b v. This is about textures and how those textures make you feel. For example, on “Who Sees You” there is a feeling of claustrophobia and a sensation of tightness in your chest as the sonic assault relentlessly pounds you. Gripping. Try “Who Sees You,” “New You,” and “In Another Way.”

Iceage have previously appeared in the drop box and so it is not a surprise that the follow-up to New Brigade (one of Pitchfork’s best albums of 2011 receiving an 8.4) should also appear here. As noted in Pitchfork’s review of New Brigade, Iceage have found the sweet spot for punk rock “mixing the black atmosphere of goth, the wild-limbed whoosh of hardcore, and the clangor of post-punk. Such continues the trend here. Maybe Danish punk rock is ready for wide exposure, because Your Nothing is actually a better record with a bulkier sound. Perhaps it’s the move to Matador, or more likely, the band which is a road beast often playing chaotic shows, is more accomplished in both sound and structure. This is classic punk rock ( not street punk) that as mentioned above finds the soft underbelly of this particular genre and rips it wide open. Try “Coalition” “Morals” and “Everything Drifts” ( shades of Husker Du).

Similarly, The Men improve on their massive second record Open Your Heart which also appeared here last year. Like Iceage, this is a stronger record than the previously stunning record. However, unlike the Iceage record, the band is taking their sound in some new directions, muck like the Replacements did in their career arc and of whom The Men remind me.  For example, the Replacements followed up their punk record Sorry Ma Forgot To Take Out the Trash with the powerful Hootenanny. Which begs the question; will The Men’s next album be their Let It Be? From the get go The Men signal their new direction with the sweet countrified punk of “Open the Door”. Look the Byrds influences on New Moon are undeniable, as is the fact that the band acknowledges that they recorded this gem in the Catskills (like The Band). My god, they could be secretly Canadian. There is some Crazy Horse (see Neil Young reference – more evidence that they are Canadian!) references here, but the most powerful elements definitely owe a debt to the Replacements.  Try “The Seeds”, “The Brass,” and “Bird Song.”

This is probably a good time to talk about the Parquet Courts. Admittedly I missed this one the first time around. But heck, at least I found it. They have played a number of shows with the aforementioned The Men, and like The Men are based out of Brooklyn. Where else given the sound of this record. Like a punk rock Strokes, the band consisting of Andrew Savage (lead vocals, guitar), Austin Brown (guitar), Sean Yeaton (bass), and Andrew’s brother Max Savage (drums) are likely where we are going with modern punk rock – sharp fairly witty lyrics, twangy guitars, and plenty of attitude. I’m looking for their debut cassette if you can find it, but on their official debut Light Up Gold, they are a fully formed punk rock machine. This is a quick listen and there are sounds you would recognize from the first days of British punk but filtered though decades of sweat, the Hives, and moving to New York from Texas. Great stuff here. Reminds me a little of David Thomas of Pere Ubu vocally. But for most of you, this will likely be not a helpful reference. Anyway, Try: “Donut Only,” “Light Up Gold II” and “Tears O Plenty.”

Son Volt is Jay Farrar’s project formed in 1994 after the collapse of one of the best bands of the 1990s – Uncle Tupelo. Son Volt’s first life was surprisingly brief with only three albums recorded between 1995-1998. However, Jay’s released a number of solo records in the interim and his form of alt-country has stood the test of time. Finally, and after 20 years; Jay Farrar has reformed the original band and is now paying tribute to the country side of his roots head on. This is the Bakersfield sound (Buck Owens, Wynn Stewart and pedal steel player Ralph Mooney) lovingly performed. Honky Tonk is exactly what it is – 11 songs of pure country. Not for everyone, but in my view, there are few records as lovingly constructed as this one. The pedal steel work is prominent and that sound makes some people grit their teeth. For me, having loved the cowpunk of the late 80s of K.D. Lang and the Reclines, Beat Farmers, and Rank and File, this is a palate cleaner for your listening pleasure. Really, try this after the Parquet Courts record and you’ll get the idea. Try “Hearts and Minds”, The Wild Side” and “Angel of the Blues.”

Phoenix returns after a four year hiatus, with a new record entitled Bankrupt!. I have no idea why the title, but if you liked the previous record, which was massive, then you will like this one as well. The French electronic rock pop band’s 5th album, Bankrupt! Is scheduled to be released on April 22, 2013, so you will be able to tell everyone how good it is, and that is sounds very similar to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix which was released in 2009. Look a four year gap in releases after the massive success of that record is understandable. Perhaps the album title is a signal that they are not bankrupt of ideas because like Green Day after Dookie, over-exposure on the level of the songs “Lisztomania”, “1901”, and “Too Young” is pretty difficult to overcome. So, what is the new record like – pretty amazing. But don’t take my word. Try: “Trying To Be Cool”, “Entertainment” and “Chloroform.”

December 09 2012 Drop Box Notes

12.09.12

As the end of the year approaches, I have decided to clean up some things I missed along the way this past year. So, this month’s offerings include some albums from as early as January that were either missed, ignored, or re-discovered (Chairlift, Empires, Delorentos, and Django Django, all come to mind) as well as some new releases, and some that are still awaiting release (Yo La Tengo doesn’t come out until January 15, 2013). At the end of the month, I’ll drop into the box a playlist full of what I thought were the best songs of 2012 and my picks for best albums of the past year. If you’ve been keeping up with the drop box, you’ll find that you have most of the albums that will appear on a large number of best of the year lists including Pitchfork, Stereogum, and Consequence of Sound. If there is something you missed, feel free to drop me a note, and I’ll add it to the box.

First up is a reissue. Old 97s reissue Too Far To Care the band’s 3rd record after 15 years was not only their major label debut but demonstrated the band at the peak of its powers effortlessly blending country and rock into a potent mixture. Punks loved this band because the tempos were in synch with the punk ethos, and they were already familiar with other attempts to find the balance between punk and country in the form of Rank and File, Beat Farmers, and KD Lang and the Reclines. Check out “Timebomb” a masterpiece in the genre. This is a 2 CD effort with the first CD the original album plus a couple of rare outtakes and a promo. The second CD, They Made A Monster: The Too Far to Care Demos features 11 previously unissued demo recordings from the original album sessions. Try “Timebomb,” “Just like California” and “House That Used To Be.”

Freemantle, West Australia’s four piece indie pop-stars, San Cisco are huge in Australia, so they are not huge in the U.S. ( I have no idea about Canada J). They should be massive, but in the glut of new music, and the new regionalism that is developing, they have largely been ignored state side. I hope that will change, because these are catchy, enjoyable sing-a-long songs with some great hooks. This is their debut album, but the disc includes the EP with the killer song “Awkward” featuring the boy-girl vocals of lead singer Jordi Davieson and drummer Scarlett Stevens. (Check out the great old school video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukNOaKeUEQY ) This is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of the year: Try also “Rocket Ship”, Wild Things” and “Stella.”

Los Angeles’ Allah-Las (get it?) play better than there weak ass name. On their self titled debut, Allah-Las is essentially a 60s California beach garage psychedelic sound played through a modern lens, and frankly, for a couple of record store clerks from LA’s best music store “Amoeba” the music is like the fabulous Fleshtones, balancing the two major influences. Think small smoky bar at the end of the 1960s with the Doors as the headliner. You’ll get the feel. Try “ Busman’s Holiday” (http://youtu.be/IpRh5bChBSM ), “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind) (http://youtu.be/fiJYecS0vU0 ) and “No Voodoo.”

 As you might have guessed, Canadian music hold a special place in my heart (April Wine, Triumph, Moxy, Prism and Trooper – the 70’s were awesome!). What I find most interesting is the creativity of bands coming out of the great white north. A prime example is Toronto’s Crystal Castles who on III capture the feel of the city in the winter. Ethan Kath met Alice Glass are the perfect duo with Ethan producing the tracks and Alice’s creepy ethereal vocals laid over the top. This is video game melancholic music but rewarding when you are in the mood. There is really nothing like this out there commercially and Crystal Castles occupies a unique niche in the indie world. Well worth the exploration. Try “Plague” (http://youtu.be/JxVm2_ojQtk ), “Affection” (http://youtu.be/JCVPB6eMN4I ) and “Child I Will Hurt You.

In a similar vein Vancouver vocalist Claire Boucher who records under the name Grimes, has produced a record that will likely end up on a number of top 10 list this year. Visions is an electro-pop record for lack of a better description and is filled with a vast array of styles and influences and words do not adequately describe what is going on. This should make sense as she is much smarter than me, having studied Russian literature and neuroscience at McGill. This is a very satisfying record, full of very interesting song structures. Try” Genesis” (http://youtu.be/1FH-q0I1fJY ) “Oblivion” (http://vimeo.com/38987284 ) and “Visiting Statue.”

Brooklyn’s Chairlift is one of the albums I missed earlier this year. I’m not sure why, because this is the 80s synth-pop that I loved growing up when I was a kid. Recall New Musik or perhaps the Reels? Probably not. So check them both out. Here is New Musik’s “Straight Lines”: http://youtu.be/9Ysr0A14o24 ) ( I had no idea these guys looked like this!!!); and here is the Reels doing “Love Will Find A Way” (http://youtu.be/FTp0Cf2k_7E) (from 1979 – love these outfits!). Anyway, as synth-pop finds its way into the mainstream consciousness, Chairlift are on a roll. “Bruises” from 2008’s Does You Inspire You? launched the band as also launch the 4th generation iPod Nano to the world. Fast forward to 2012 and in January, Something is released with more of the extremely pleasant pop. Try “ Met Before” (http://youtu.be/atKuhrPnLq8 ), “Amanaemonesia” (http://youtu.be/98XRKr19jIE ) and “I Belong In Your Arms” (http://youtu.be/3e8Ql9qFA2o ).

Adelaide, South Australia’s Atlas Genius debut record was released in Australia in January, but didn’t find its way to these shores until June 2012 where Through The Glass was released as an EP. With a clean indie pop sound these songs should be a hit with the young hipster crowd. Try “Trojans” (http://youtu.be/Sd2yr12abg8 ), “Back Seat” (http://youtu.be/PeAUf-VeXbE ) and “Symptoms.” ( Really there are only 4 songs on the EP and one of them is the acoustic version of Trojans. You’ll like ‘em all J).

Sticking with the EP pattern, Birds of Tokyo released This Fire earlier this year and while I missed it the first time around, this is also a gem and also from Australia. From Perth, this EP was released domestically in October, but has been available in Australia for more than a year. They are recording their 4th album March Fires which is due out in March 2013. For now, this will have to do. The music is in the same vein as Carolina Liar and Augustana.  Try “This Fire”(http://youtu.be/sSpwcAvoo2o ), “Glowing in the Streets”, and “Boy”.

Sweden’s 1000 Gram are an enigma. Stepping away from the fervent rock n’ roll emanating from this part of the world, 1000 Gram occupy an entirely different niche possibly because the band (comprised of Germans and Swedes) have fought hard to find middle ground for their electro-acoustic indie music. This is a singer-songwriter type record with sweeping melodies and some Strokes influences, particularly on “Cut Me Some Slack.” Try: “Come Back To Me,” “That’s How We Love” and “We Ain’t Waiting.”

Since we are already talking about Europe (having moved on from Australia) it is just a short distance from Sweden to Denmark, where we find the Blue Van channeling 60s soul music through its hip filter. Would You Change Your Life?  is the 5th album from this band which has toured the U.S. continuously throughout their existence and have even played Austin City Limits. This album rocks and you will find yourself singing along at various points. This would be a great band to see live. Think Hives as a soul band.  (Just a note – the Blue Van is derived from “Den blå varevogn” which is what we would call the “short bus” in America). Try “Would You Change Your Life?” “Wake The Tiger” and “Tightrope.”

West Yorkshire’s Above Them, 2nd LP Are We A Danger To Ourselves hints at what is quickly becoming a resurgence of punk rock as a viable form of music. I put this in the drop box last month, but removed it to make space, so here you are again! In the past year there have been several spectacular punk rock records dropped into this box ( Mezingers, Static Jacks etc.), and this is the first of three such great punk records this month alone (including Hostage Calm and After The Fall reviewed below). For those who follow this genre and its various subgenres (of which there are a great many) the past couple of years have been a little flat, but things are starting to come around. This falls into the Rise Against type of punk rock. Straight forward lyrically, this is melodic punk rock without the political bent. Try “Temper Like A Hand Grenade,” “Giving Up On Sorrow” and “Something To Keep You Positive.”

Hostage Calm extend the pop-punk genre a little bit bringing a mixture of punk rock and hardcore to Please Remain Calm which is the Connecticut bands second full length. This is Ultimate Fakebook type territory: Melodic punk pop with the catchy bits in all the right places. Try” Brokenheartland”, “Don’t Die On Me Now” and the amazing “May Love Prevail” (with its throwback 60’s sound!).

After The Fall bring something different to the punk rock mix. Heading back to Australia, where the band is from, they have incorporated the rhythms of their forefathers, the Saints and Hoodoo Gurus, to capture the power of the fertile rock scene and update it for the second decade of the 2000’s. There is a hint of Nirvana in these tunes, and that possibly may be from the vocals of Ben Windsor which are forceful and energetic, particularly on “Nothing But Black.” Bittersweet is the band’s fourth album and the growth of the band is clearly evident particularly on “The Fire Is Gone” which should be a hit anywhere. So, in three albums this month, I’ve covered but a few of the punk genre’s range, so if you never thought to give punk rock a try, maybe now is the time. Try “The Fire Is Gone,” “Bittersweet,” and “Dirty Sheets.”

I’ve liked all the prior Classic Crime records, so it is not surprising that I would like the new LP, Phoenix. This Seattle based band formed in 2004 and released their first three records on Tooth and Nail, so there was no shortage of distribution. Phoenix is a Kickstarter financed record as the band left the label. Phoenix continues the Classic Crime sound falling somewhere between rock and hardcore. At its heart, the band’s sound is melodic rock with big choruses. Rather simple I’d say. Try” Beautiful Darkside”, “What I’d Give Up” and “You And Me Both.”

Titus Andronicus have appeared in the drop box recently as I dropped the new release, Local Business and the bands first record The Monitor last month. However, what I neglected to drop was a mix tape put out by the band in March of this year that streamed free for a week. Well, for those who missed it, here it is in all its glory. The Mix tape will give you some idea of the bands influence, which is in the alt-rock sweet spot: Thin Lizzy, Bobby Fuller, Weezer, Replacements etc. Full track list here: http://consequenceofsound.net/2012/03/download-titus-andronicus-llc-mixtape-vol-1/

  Try: “Treatment Bound (Replacements cover)”, Heroin (Velvet Underground cover”) and “Undone [The Sweater Song] (Weezer cover).”

 If Joy Division and T-Rex had a love child, Empires would be that band. On Garage Hymns you get just that – an LP full of garage rock hymns. Although this is only the second lp from Chicago’s Empires, the songs are fully realized traversing territory similar to the National, but this is definitely more up tempo and anthemic. From the opener “Can’t Steal Your Heart Away” to closer “Lord Have Mercy” this is a breathtaking and spectacular record that sounds amazing. You will not be disappointed. Try “Hell’s Heroes” “Shame” and “We Lost Magic.”

Until next time, here is this month’s list:

1000 GramKen Sent Me [2012]

Above ThemAre We A Danger To Ourselves [2012]

After The FallBittersweet [2012]

Allah-LasAllah-Las [2012]

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave [Deluxe Version] [2012]

Atlas GeniusThrough The Glass [2012]

Birds Of TokyoThis Fire EP [2012]

Blue Van Would You Change Your Life [2012]

Chairlift – Something [2012]

Classic Crime Phoenix [2012]

Concrete KnivesBe Your Own King [2012]

Crystal Castles(III) [2012]

Dash Rip Rock Black Liquor [2012]

Delorentos Little Sparks [2012]

Django DjangoDjango Django [2012]

EmpiresGarage Hymns [2012]

Evens – The Odds [2012]

Ex-CultEx-Cult [2012]

FoxygenIntroducing Foxygen (Promo) [2012]

Green DayTre! [2012]

GrimesVisions (Deluxe Bonus Edition) [3CD] [2012]

Grizzly Bear Shields [2012]

GuardsIn Guards We Trust (Advance) [2013]

Hope And Social – All Our Dancing Days [2012]

Hostage CalmPlease Remain Calm [2012]

Jellyfish Stack-A-Tracks [2012]

Kate NashDeath Proof EP [2012]

King TuffKing Tuff [2012]

Knife & ForkThe Higher You Get, the Rarer the Vegetation [2012]

Nations AfireThe Ghosts We Will Become [2012]

New Bruises – Chock Full Of Misery [2012]

Of Monsters and MenMy Head Is An Animal [2012]

Old 97’sToo Far to Care [15th Anniversary Edition] [2012]

Organ ThievesSomewhere Between Free Men And Slaves [2012]

PolicaGive You The Ghost [2012]

Retrospective Soundtrack PlayersThe Catcher In The Rye (Advance) [2012]

San CiscoSan Cisco [2012]

Sharon Van EttenTramp [2012]

TennisYoung & Old [2012]

The 1975Sex [2012]

The Babies – Our House on the Hill [2012]

Titus AndronicusTitus Andronicus LLC Mixtape Vol. 1 [2012]

WalkmenHeaven [2012]

Yo La TengoFade [2013]