Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cat Tongue - Cat Tuong (2012)

A rather strange album with an offbeat name today. As nearly everything I wanna post I here it is lo-fi as all get out, perhaps I don't even need to bother explaining that any longer. It is a batch of odd, outta tune psych-pop songs really, not that all them really even get to that degree of complexity. Interestingly it is quite compellingly sweet for moments and then confusing straightaway again. Neat in that sorta of way that quirkiness is something everyone has gotta find admirable if it doesn't make itself unbearable. In fact, far from being unbearable, it is charming. I can't really describe the music itself without any amount of accuracy, so if the previous words are enough to pique any curiosity I suggest you give it a go, at very least there are far worse ways to spend 15 minutes of your day.

To be had here:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Karovas Milkshake - EP (2010)

Interesting to note how this retro thing has seeped from it's music and fashion stronghold and into the roots of something resembling a movement. Urban gardening, homebirths, naturopathic medicine, the resurgence of vinyl ... 30 somethings with handlebar mustaches wearing suspenders and fedoras and shit... Even smartphone apps that make pictures look like they've been weathered by decades of sunlight...

It's as if we can only embrace progress by balancing it with antiquity.

This most recent garage revival seems symptomatic of this greater turn of the head towards the past. Mexico has a scene, several European countries (especially France) have great garage scenes. I don't know why I was so surprised to hear of a garage band from Russia.

The Karovas Milkshake are from the city of Ekaterinberg in Russia which, from my brief scan of the city's wikipedia entry, is between the size of Phoenix and San Diego, has a monument of Michael (Mikhail?) Jackson, and is a hotbed for Russian rock bands. When a friend first played The Karovas for me, he insisted they were actually from the 1960's. While this didn't turn out to be true, I can see how a passive glance at any picture of them and listening to this ep could be deceiving. They have the sound down, they have the look down. The production of the record, even, sounds authentically 60's. It's really quite remarkable and their songs are catchy as hell. Shades of The Kinks, The Sonics, and The Velvet Underground are all present.

4 songs. Don't let this one get away ...Luckily, my links are still working(for now), though I agree with Antarktikos that an alternative will eventually have to be found.

The Karovas Milkshake - EP

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Moondawg Jones - Particles '10 (2010)

Now this has gotta be one of the best named musical acts to ever submit an album. I likely too frequently call people "dawg" and I think the name "Jones" can make nearly anything funny to me. Moreover, the comedic tenor of the name does carry over in the non-serious mood of the music. Intensely lo-fi and loud garagesque to such a degree that I can't hardly resist grinning. Like a cat-calling old man staring down a passing lady, I find all sort of things to to my fawn over in this album. Firstly, the distorted bellowing is righteous enough to support the album, but the finely tuneful guitar playing really seals the deal. While the style and speed of the song"ll shift, that fuzzy howling really does persist. There's gold to be heard in "Need Dat" and "Forge" in my humblest of opinions, and only a reader foolish enough to not enjoy lo-fi should pass them up (and why are you reading this shit at all if that's the case?). Perhaps the only bad part is being two years late to the listening.

To be had here:

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Gentle Stunts - Life-Size Deadbeats (2012)

This is a new release from a Popular Wallpaper Recordings, which in full disclosure I pal of my old buddy John wrote me on behalf of. However this post is shouldn't be confused with cronyism, for the talent of the songwriter behind the Gentle Stunts, Cal McNamara, will be rather obvious to anyone that give the album a listen. Lo-fi rock and roll is a general way of describing it but that covers a lot of ground. I'll endeavor to elaborate a bit. The songs will commonly slow their roll dips toward dreamy indie pop, but by the time the tracks "Holy Score" and "Waving Rather Soon" are reached a remarkable stride can be heard unfolding. In fact the longer you listen the immediate the recognition of how catchy and well-composed they are become evident. The songs noisy and psychedelic enough to keep my absurd ears happy. A damned solid bunch of music to squeeze into less than half an hour.

To be had here:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

EP Grab Bag vol. 19

Excuses are all I've got still. No internet hookup to my place seems likely anytime soon, as I can't get the motherfuckers at Comcast to let me clear my name from identity theft and there's no damn phone line for DSL. Detroit's dishing out dick slaps to me like it is going outta style. However, these neat EPs got sent in.

To be had here:

Big T and the Diverse Curse - Demo (2012)

This is a lo-fi garage rock/blues band from Chicago. The drummer is the same fellla that plays in Snow Ghost and releases music under the name MaoTzu. The best comparison I've got for what it sounds like is the Black Keys debut album but with harmonica. Hope that find that a flattering suggestion, because I still like the earliest Black Keys songs the best.

Breathing Patterns / Gills - Split EP (2012)

Two tracks each from Breathing Patterns and Gills, who've appearing in an prior Grab Bag. However, I think only one of Breathing Pattern's songs streams on the bandcamp. It is catchy shoegaze number, and the Gills have the same intense post-hardcore sort of math/punk rock. I've grown even fonder of them with this spilt.

Virgin Lung - EP 1 (2012)

Some very mathy post-rock from North Carolina.  The first track on the EP has a different sound than the rest (more soft and pop-like), so do make sure to keep listening even if that's song isn't your jam. As the EP carries on it gets fast and a bit harder. A pretty good beginning of something, but not a free download of it unfortunately.

Frank's Hard Drive - Frank's Hard Drive (2012)

A debut EP from a Polish indie pop band. At seven tracks it is tempting to think if it as an full album, but I'll go with what they call it. Musically they remind me, naturally enough, of Beulah and Apples in Stereo. Especially the use of horns and slight influence of country like the former. By far the most upbeat instrumentation in this pack of EPs.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Zany Zongas - North Park (2012)

This California band came to my attention by a cassette I received in the mail from Old Monster Records. As always, thanks for cassettes, it is one of the few sweet spots a cloistered guy like myself gets. The music of Zany Zongas immediately brings easily noted similiarities with the Finnish avant-garde I'm so fond of like Paavoharju and Kemialliset Ystävät. However, Zany Zongas haven't got the folk aspect and are perhaps better thought of as more rock-orientated. I'd refrain from saying any melodies appear, rather it is the use of rock instruments to make their improvised psychedelia that causes me to make such a connection. A strong example of the power of sparsity and experimental rock. Can't recommend enough checking out this album with the biggest headphones you got.

To be had here:
Zany Zongas - North Park

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wimps - Demo (2012)

I've been working at a place run by people who were a part of the Olympia music scene when it was in it's prime. Subsequently, much of the music played at work is music from K Records, as well as other Olympia label, Kill Rock Stars(a lot of nostalgia in these guys). Beat Happening, Karp, Bikini Kill, Heaven's To Betsy, godheadSilo… the list goes on… I'd say that over the past 6 years I've had this job, when I'm not being tortured with 50 Cent or The Carpenters, that I've listened to, mostly, music from Olympia or the Pacific Northwest in general.

Which is why it's hard to not put Seattle punk rock 3-piece, Wimps, into that context. Their music harkens a little to California skate punk of the 80's, but mostly to Olympia's riot grrrl/punk scene of the 90's. I hear a lot of The Frumpies in what the Wimps do, and a lot of it has to do with Rachel Ratner's vocal delivery, which is reminiscent of both Tobi Vail (Bikini Kill/Frumpies) and Selene Vigil (7 Year Bitch). Their music also brings to mind Carrie Brownstein's pre-Sleater-Kinney band, Excuse 17. 

While Wimps have that sound, it doesn't mean that it's derivative. I think a lot of that early Olympia stuff doesn't hold up very well over time, the youthfulness of it exposing it's own naivety. What the Wimps do sounds like it's coming from a place that's much more sure of itself. All 5 songs on their demo are good, solid songs, and I can't wait to see them when they open for The Mallard in a couple weeks. 

Wimps - Demo 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

derT A N Z - White Party Demo

Not much time to post up on this Father's Day weekend but I spirited away my little brother's computer to say something about this demo EP from Budapest. They play some real noisy, lo-fi rock and roll that's filled with fuzzed guitar and hollering vocals. Just a short set of five tracks that are comparable in intensity with Mindflayer, Lake of Dracula and Neon Hunk (sorry for the dated references but I'm doing this from memory without my hard drive to supplement my memory). Basically, a good way to describe it is experimental punk, kinda free form/improvised rock that's got a hard sound that can take it rather close to heavy metal at moments. Pretty neat stuff and worth ignoring family for a few minutes for.

To be had here:
derT A N Z - White Party Demo

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Sharpest - Tophet Chasm (2012)

The Sharpest make music that's classifiable as math rock, insomuch that they've made heavy use of angular guitar playing, pounding percussion and all around swiftness. Hopefully their feathers won't get ruffled as I compare them to Don Caballero, Turing Machine, Majmoon, and perhaps a little like US Maple that Larry recently posted up. There's several aspects that do make these guys stand out to me. The sound is really full and if you can afford to turn up the volume it is rather rewarding. Additionally, the subtleness of the vocals, being mostly employed to accent instrumental work, indeed disappearing for stretches just to reemerge and gone again in a wisp. They've also got a couple of those long tracks that I'm so sweet on in math or post-rock. However, the most important thing is that they know how to write rock songs are get one excited.

To be had here:
The Sharpest - Tophet Chasm

P.S. There's bad news about the links I've put up recently. None of them shall work because mediafire suspended my account, and while I can make a new email address and try again it seems pointless to try to skirt them so I need time to figure out a more long term fix. For though I am very thankful to all the albums musicians and labels are sharing with us legally, I don't like being boxed in by outmoded standards and I'll try to subvert them anew. Bear with me and remember p2p and torrents are a thing. Or if you have got something you might upload it yourself and put a link in the comments? Perhaps that's asking too much, but if you do I'll be beyond jazzed.

Brainiac - Bonsai Superstar (1994)

Brainiac were a band from Dayton, OH that made some of the most innovative synthpunk that has ever been created. Tragedy forced the band to break up in 1997 after their charismatic lead singer, Tim Taylor, died at the age of 29 when his car crashed and burst into flames(thought to be a mechanical malfunction). Their influence was surprisingly far reaching, as everyone from Death Cab For Cutie to Trent Reznor site them as having inspired certain elements of their own music making. There's even a story on the internet claiming that, 3 days after the car accident and 3 days prior to his own accidental death, Jeff Buckley, during what would be his last performance, lamented on stage about the passing of Tim Taylor... seemingly foreshadowing his own death by asking, "Is that how you like your rock heroes - dead?"

Brainiac were a force to be reckoned and were on their way to big things. They'd gone on tour as an opener for both The Breeders and Beck and were being groomed by major labels. This is their second record, released in 1994, the first to feature John Schmersal who would later go on to form Enon and act as touring musician for Caribou. Bonsai Superstar was where their sound started to take on a more definable shape, one that some liken to Devo on amphetamines. The band walks confidently, with swagger, on the lines between accessible and inaccessible("Transmissions After Zero"), ugly and sexy("Flypaper"), dangerous and nerdy("Hot Metal Dobermans"). From here on in, synthpunk experimentation would remain at their core. Moog synthesizers chirp and buzz along with the band. Guitar lines hint at melodies, while each chord seems to include one note that makes it intentionally and unapologetically dissonant. Singer Tim Taylor is an extension of that same formula, veering in and out of key as he growls and screams, at times through heavily effected processors. What's most remarkable about his voice, however, is his searing falsetto, which brings to mind Ian Svenonius of The Make-Up.

This record is, unfortunately, out of print. Hard copies can be found at crazy prices, so until someone is able to rerelease it, I feel it's important to get it out there. For anybody who's already a fan (and anybody else) make sure to check out this full Brainiac show that some saint recently posted to youtube.

Brainiac - Bonsai Superstar

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ray Charles - Ray Charles at Newport (1958)

If you read yesterday's post you might be able to guess why I've decided to put this album up. It is only album that's holding its own against Barra 69 in my regular listening, at least at work. While they mightn't be obviously similar, with Ray Charles being a prophet of soul music and Caetano Veloso being an instigating force in Tropicalia, there's the obvious connection of the power of live performance and excitingly fresh sounds (even if we're only receiving an audio recording thereof). The amazingly done versions of "I Got A Woman" and "Talkin' 'Bout You" are unforgettable, and the absolute skill in which every song is executed is astounding. I've gladly shave years off my life for the opportunity to go back and see such an event. Hope you've enjoyed my detour for these posts, for I think it is important to go and touch base with this sorta thing even if you're familiar as I am sure many of you are with this album.

To be had here:
Ray Charles - Ray Charles at Newport [320 kbps]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

White Coward - Relaxer (2012)

Everyone has their own opinions on what music is and isn't. I remember going to school with metal kids (collectively labeled "the headbangers") who'd refuse to call hip hop music. Others balance their opinions on the fulcrum between "pretty" and "ugly". There are those, for example, who fill their music collection exclusively with the likes of The Beach Boys or Sufjan Stevens, while others focus primarily on bands with names like Cannibal Corpse or Vomiting Rectum.

But, in the end, it's all music, as whatever anything "is" lies in the eye of the beholder.

White Coward is a Seattle 3-piece whose music expertly evokes the emotion of trepidation, traversing those dissonant grounds between post-hardcore and noise. There's nothing that shimmers or jangles here, unless you'd consider guitars that rattle and clank like curtains of knives in a windstorm. The vocalist wails with both urgency and desperation... a great voice that adds to the overall tension of Relaxer. The drums are heavy but have a pace that runs the gamut from slow and driving to the alarming intensity of an over-adrenalized heartbeat.

White Coward snarl like an abandoned factory that whirs, buzzes and grinds despite years of rust and decay. Even though I'm a complete whore for strong melodies and harmonies, I can't deny the appeal of this music. Along with the recently defunct Wet Paint DMM, and the amazing post-Blood Brothers group Past Lives, I'm beginning to see Seattle's Bedlam-scene on par with the best output of midwest record labels like Touch And Go, Amphetamine Reptile, and Skin Graft.

6 songs, pay what you will.

White Coward - Relaxer

Lunatics On Pogosticks - S/T (2012)

Things have been strange with people I know lately. Everyone seems to be coming down with an illness, or some otherwise monumentally shitty thing is happening to them. This is doubly strange, as I feel I'm usually the "canary in the coal mine" when it comes to viruses or flus, and I haven't been sick in months. Furthermore, nothing particularly bad is happening to me, personally. It makes me feel like I'm in the eye of some storm that's about to sweep me up and tear me apart... but, for now, the chaos is everywhere but here.

It's good to have music like Lunatics On Pogosticks to help me remain positive and levelheaded. I know nothing about this band, and can't even tell you how I came across it. They're from Australia, I got that far, and only because it says so on their bandcamp page. Also, their name is a lyric from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song(not sure how intentional that was). It doesn't really matter because they're fucking good. They sound like garage rock meets indie pop, a bit like The Pandoras meets Best Coast, but produced with an ear blistering lo-fi ala Ty Segall. The recording is so blown out it's almost like garage meets grunge. But, rest assured, their knack for hooks are as clear as crystal. The guitar playing is especially interesting. I don't usually go for guitar "licks" ala Jack White as I do guitar "chops" ala Brett Nelson. The style here resides somewhere, comfortably, in between ... and it works very well.

Track 4 is exceptional.

5 songs, including a sedate cover of a Beach Fossils song. Also: kitties.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cavedweller - 2016 pt II & III (2012)

Boy, am I ever happy when I get back to listening my way through submitted albums and find something that just strikes my fancy so exactly as Cavedweller has. Rather laid-back lo-fi psych-folk sort of musicians that perhaps bear some reasonable resemblance to the Gris Gris, Songs of Green Pheasant, and Pipes You See, Pipes You Don't. To put that more simply, they've got roots in the stripped down psychedelia and garage that's inspired many before them and surely more to come. Nevertheless, I highly enjoy how these guys have done so. In particular the harmonious singing and twangy guitars suit me just fine. Wonderfully done and perfect stuff to help pass time in the summer heat. Free download or $5 cassette.

To be had here:
Cavedweller - 2016 pt II & III

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sferi - Sound of the Spheres (2012)

This album was submitted by a self-described sound experimentalist from the Republic of Macedonia. Consisting of relatively lengthy atmospheric ambient tracks named for each of the planets of our solar system it quite literally is aiming for an otherworldly experience. There are actually far better written individualized descriptions of each of the songs on the bandcamp page, so I won't even attempt to muddle through explaining them other than saying they certainly are thoroughly ambient. You know the sort, the kind of music that doesn't blast the hinges off anything, rather is erodes away your awareness and anxiousness until you're feeling strangely different. It's a name you own price deal, but there's a limited run of CDs about too.

To be had here:
Sferi - Sound of the Spheres

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Memphis Slim - Beer Drinkin' Woman (1995)

Won't ever get over the blues. certainly not when it seems I've got some genuine reasons to have the blues lately. More important than my most recent hangups is this wonderful Dutch-released compilation of tracks by Memphis Slim. True to his moniker the man was born in Memphis, Tennessee and began his recording career way back in 1947 and maintained it thru into shortly before his death in 1988. He was a piano bluesman who played a sub-genre called jump blues. Although often accompanied by band that included a variety instruments, these songs are minimal, featuring little more than piano, harmonica and Slim's powerful crooning voice. He throws out a bunch of mentions to the blues figures that were influential in his career like Leory Carr and Big Bronzy Bill who are both totally worth checking out.

To be had here:
Memphis Slim - Beer Drinkin' Woman [256 kbps]

Monday, June 4, 2012

EP Grab Bag vol. 18

Here's what I've got to offer out of the old submissions box. I think it is a pretty fair crowd of EPs to be heard and none of them the garage rock or lo-fi whatnots I preach about. Good to get around with music even if it is discouraged in other facets of life.

To be had here:

Marble Lion - Foliage EP (2011)

A four song EP from a Montreal based band. They've got a pop/noise sound going on incorporates spoken word and ambient sounds to provide the songs with a cinematic vibe. They've got a sweet middling tone that's between cheerful and gloomy. Lends the EP that profoundness normally the realm of post-rock epics but in shorter doses.

Tres Face Von Dingo/Goat Lightning - C.D.D 1-5-3 (2011)

A split album with 5:1 ratio of songs between Tres Face Von Dingo and Goat Lightning. How these cats decided to make a split is unknown to me, as one's tagged from Missoula and Boston for the other. Fuzzed out, jangly sort of numbers from the former with a singer that's vaguely reminiscence on Coner Oberst. The latter's offering is a psychedelic electronic tracks that imaginatively loops about (note: they linked me to something else orginally, but it's all good). Purchasable at the label's site.

Johnny Newman - Late Summer, Red River (2012)

This fella's a folk musician whose reference to nature in his lyrics are picturesque. Does remind me of acts like the Tallest Man On Earth, Josephine Foster or even Pete Seeger, yet his vocals are more plain-spoken and clear than either of them. His poetic use of words makes for as fine traditional folk as I've heard lately. Streaming via bandcamp and to be bought for $6.

 Tuber - Tuber EP 12" (2012)

This is a real fresh one for a change. Tuber is an instrumental post-rock from Greece with the membership consisting of three brothers. They play on the heavier side of post-rock so many would likely aver to classify it as stoner rock. Whatever terminology makes you more comfortable is fine but the music shouldn't be underestimated. Epic is something these boys have got down to an art, makes me wanna go back and listen to Maserati and Tracer AMC.