Monday, July 30, 2012

Pussy Riot - 4 songs

Maybe you've all heard by now, but there's a riot grrrl/punk band from Russia who were arrested this past winter for performing an anti-Putin song at Russia's main cathedral in Moscow. Three members are still in prison and face up to several years in prison if convicted (they are being charged with "hooliganism", which sounds like something old people accuse young people of practicing.) Many protests in Russia are ongoing for the band. One Russian artist went so far as to sew his own mouth shut in protest of their incarceration.

Even Amnesty International has called for the release of the women, calling them "prisoners of conscience".

Not to get too political on what is purely a music blog, but the whole thing is fucked up and Russia is being run by crooks, clowns, and sadists ... not unlike many countries including my own ...but at least I could write a song called "Every Politician Is A Fucknut" and not serve years in prison for it. 

That's all I'll say about that.

Anyway, it's surprising that there's hardly anyone posting the recordings of this band. The four songs below are super lo-fi and in Russian so I'm completely in the dark as to what they are saying... so maybe that's why. Despite my ignorance, though, I was able to pick out words that sounded like "protest" "Putin" and, yes, even "vodka". The songs are more similar to Minor Threat in sound than Bikini Kill, but either way, it's frustration and anger that ties Pussy Riot into the same class as both those bands. 

I hope that the protests in support of Pussy Riot continue to grow until shit hits the Russian fan. If nothing else, what's happening is a testament to the power of music.

Want to get involved? Write a letter to Vladimir Putin yourself.

Or just give these whippersnappers a listen.

Pussy Riot - 4 songs

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Roselit Bone - Live at Ella Street Social Club (2012)

In a city with so many musicians, it's surprising how uniform the music can sometimes feel. The venues, who only seem interested in booking indie/garage/punk bands, get the lion's share of blame. But, truth be told, so are the people that go to those venues ...those who'd rather feel their adrenaline surge than have their ears and, whatever's left in-between them, stimulated. 

This is why Roselit Bone, who play minimal gothic country with twinges of punk, are kind of a Portland anomaly. They often find themselves playing to these crowds and the audiences are usually more polite than ecstatic, which is a shame because this duo is something pretty special. 

Here's a live set they recently played in downtown Portland at a tiny venue called the Ella Street Social Club. One of the first things you'll notice is frontman Josh McCaslin's forceful, bellowing vocal delivery as he spits lyrics like "there are figures in the shadows of the seeping mist, that find you choking on your sorrows and the smell of piss". On other songs he's the opposite of this, crooning melodically over guitar lines that hint at Josh's skill at the instrument, which is most apparent in the ballad "My Coward Heart", a mellifluous song about the yearnings of a parasitic love. The crooning continues on the song that shares the band's name, where we're transported to a tragic scene as war has exiled a couple, "love me like you love the ocean, love me like you love the open sea, there are horses on the road and my legs are weak, love me, and stand up to meet them". 

This is not your bubbly, teenage love note … this is some epic shit.

Lyrics go on to weave images of desperation, death, and self-loathing. The songs are dark, but aren't completely without optimism. In the fantastic closer, "In My Egg", the narrator sees a pitiful old man crossing a bridge and thinks, "I hope I am not him one day, and that I still find some beauty - in the yellow lamplight of decay - in a dirty, rainy city." Well, maybe that's not very optimistic... but, as Anne Frank said, "Where there's hope, there's life."

Roselit Bone play around with folk and country traditions but inject it with dust, blood, gasoline, and tears. It's loud and rageful, it's quiet and solemn … it's probably one of the few bands, not just in Portland but in any city, keeping the flame of the oil lamp lit for this musical style and I cannot urge you enough to give them a listen.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

EP Grab Bag vol. 21

So here's a damned admirable selection of EPs I've received lately. Two returning acts and two new bands. Forgive any writing mistakes, I know I do them all the time but I've got an excuse of drinking a whole pot of coffee and reading Ernesto Sábato's existentialist novel The Tunnel. It's kinda fucking around with my head, its got a strange structure to it. Perhaps I need to just cut to the chase and start taking psychotropics, but in the meantime check out all this shit. Also, there's some damn fine album art this time too.

To be had here:

Secret Geometry - EP (2012)

A recently released EP from a Grand Rapids-based band. Four psychedelic garage rock tracks which toward the end seem to unravel  into improvised noise. I think they're quite capable of putting together a good album and I look forward to hearing if they do so, especially if it takes after the first track found on this EP, "Wage Slave."

Happy Daze - Centralized Revolutions EP (2012)

After I posted up Happy Daze's Ghost Tales a week ago I was also informed there's a new EP, and since it is in every bit as delightful as the full-length I've decided to include it in this Grab Bag for all those unaware of its release. The looping effect on the acoustic guitar reminds me of Entrance's Honey Moan EP, which is still one of my favorite things to listen to.

How Scandinavian - Pity Won EP (2012)

Another returning band, as I posted the full-length titled Dolorous some months back. If the note on the bandcamp page is read it'll explain that this is a meant as a bridge between that album and a planned new release. This did a good deal in clearing up the noticeable transition that happens through the EP from noisy post-punk toward a rhythmic slowcore. Left me curiously interested for the next project for sure.

Tiny Swimmers - Spurtin' Spirit (2012)

Out of Minneapolis here's some "semi-electronic psychedelic garage punk" as they've helpfully self-described it. As the series of adjectives imply, they've got a range of styles and influences appearing seemingly haphazardly throughout the eight songs of the EP. Nevertheless the less out of dissonance comes an order, and the whole affair gives me images of a grimy, loud future. Like that food stall in Blade Runner.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fun Guns - Dead In The Living Room (2012)

A fresh offering from the Fun Guns, a band from Los Angles you may remember releasing a couple of EPs earlier this year. So for the third time this year we're getting a fine EP filled with garage rock. While I was charmed by the stripped down lo-fi of This Frontier, there was an incredible use of gospel-blues-surf influences in Sleep When You're Dead that recurs here. There's a definite homage to the Black Lips in what they're doing, and I might add the Black Lips' work with King Khan and Mark Sultan in Almighty Defenders are recognizably similar. Soulful and loud with that warmness of a live performance, because it was basically a live recording (didn't mean to make the title's joke too obvious). Also, the submission made a point that help of some musicians with other noteworthy work was recruited. Some check out Straight Dimes and Black Boots if you're so inclined. Finally, they've got some neat short literature for you to read as you listen to the tracks on the bandcamp page, which is pretty neat.

To be had here:
Fun Guns - Dead In The Living Room

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fingers of The Sun - Sleepy EP (2012)

A friend recently talked of how she and her boyfriend have started taking afternoon naps in parks ...and I was shocked. All these thoughts filled my head like, "Aren't you afraid you're going to get fucked with by people? Aren't you afraid your shit's going to get stolen or a squirrel is going to bite your toes or something?" Then I remembered that I'm an insanely paranoid person that carries little faith in neither humanity nor squirrels ... which is entirely unfounded, I suppose.

But it does sound nice, though... napping in a park. Who knew? Better yet, how many more of life's small pleasures will I live my days never knowing?

Well, here's one shimmering gem of an EP that I have found to be quite enjoyable in recent days. It comes from a 6 member Denver band called Fingers of The Sun. The aptly titled 'Sleepy' is their second release, and is full of mellow, psychedelic-tinged pop music. Complete with male and female vocals, rich harmonies are abound. Still, this isn't your run of the mill sunshine pop. 'Sleepy' is a conceptual release, and the darkness of night creeps it's way into the sheets of each of these songs.

On "Close Your Eyes", lyrics paint sleep as a drug of sorts: a tool for escapism where we can hide from the pains of the waking world. True... dark but true. Another song that has a foreboding feel is "Arrows In June", which is a masterful piece and pushes the bands sound into psych-pop post-rock territory. Slow and haunting, the lyrics aren't quite as literal as the others, and though I've played the track 10 times in a row, I'm still not entirely clear on what it's about. It seems to be about the reunion of a woman and a man, the former of which was in love while the latter had walked away. She's forgiving and apologetic although he was the one who left her. In a way, it's almost a song about twilight, when the sun and moon briefly share the sky, and where the dramas of their unrequited love are played out.

I'm probably way off, but there's a beautiful sadness to this song that I find incredibly hypnotizing.

5 songs, including a 27 minute long closer that's perfect for helping you dose away the afternoon, cuddling your significant other(or, perhaps, some squirrels) underneath the swaying branches of a weeping willow.

Fingers of The Sun - Sleepy EP

Monday, July 16, 2012

Broken Cups - Slaves Of The Grave (2012)

Just like I suppose the readership of this blog enjoys, I too find it a neat thing to get solid recommendations for what to listen to. So from the same lady that sent in Nohopekids and plays herself in Piresian Beach, we're all in good fortune that she's spreading the word about Broken Cups. Like the other two mentioned bands, Broken Cups are from Budapest and play some remarkable lo-fi rock. What's different is that they've got that snyth-heavy post-punk vibe in full swing. A force to be reckoned with as they play it, namely dark and almost creepy while being loud and catchy all the same. Can't claim to have a bunch of reference points for this sort of post-punk (though I wish I had more) but it reminds me of Teenage Panzerkorps most of all because of the singing my feeble monolingual mind can't understand. Central European languages can sound awful wild to my ears but that's really only a bonus. Like contemporary acts, for example Little Girls or Girls Names, they've got that rapid beat backing them up that recalls Josef K and Orange Juice of Scotland's heyday of post-punk yet also has they all-pervasive snyth that makes me think of Suicide. Basically, I wanna say these guys did it right and I gotta say thanks Zsófia, this certainly made my day.

To be had here:
Broken Cups - Slaves Of The Grave

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Happy Daze - Ghost Tales (2012)

Although it mightn't be the most common thing in North America, I hardly ever bathe using my shower. I prefer the bath tub, which I understand is a bigger time commitment and some folks weird out about unnecessarily for "hygienic" reasons. While accepting it isn't for all I thoroughly enjoy the experience each after riding back from the sweltering bookstore where marching steps and lifting stacks of hardbacks are routine. Thereby I can simultaneously do several of my favorite activities: drink a beer, cleanse myself, and listen to music. 

It is like a pause after which I can reset my day according to my own needs and wants after serving another for a paycheck the previous eight hours. But I'll say not everything is suitable tub-time listening. It's gotta have a certain degree of mellowness, can't be flopping around with excitement in a water-filled basin after all. Ambient and folk, that aren't in short supply in the submission inbox at any time, are rather good material for the this period of the evening. And it was during just such a time I took in Happy Daze's Ghost Tales.

Longtime readers may recall that I've posted the music of Happy Daze before in an EP Grab Bag quite a few months back, which was a collection of early recordings. Here we're privy to more polished release, a full-length album fitted with 13 tracks of lovely guitar-styled folk songs. Wouldn't surprise me if the songs where written with the moniker in mind, for they surely have got a cheerful and dreamy mood. If stripped down to elements its basically an acoustic guitar, sweetly sung lyrics and some craftily done computer added effects, but this is no knock against what I've found to be some delightful composed material. A fine think to hear the evolution this musician and I hope he continues in this route.

To be had here:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Señors of Marseille - Tubular (2010)

As must be the case to some degree with most everyone, the music I get to enjoy and in the position to absorb the best various with environment and routine. Having been at alternative times stuck in natural ruts as far as listening is concerned, perhaps from having to drive a car with a loud motor, terrible speak systems at workplaces, or only being able to use headphones due to roommates (or lack of a proper room altogether). In most cases this shoved me right into the reverberating embrace of lo-fidelity rock that will wash away the defecting noises of life with a loud, bass-filled dissonance of its own.

However, again a revolution in circumstances has taken place. Now I've broken all my earbuds and a job where there isn't a speaker system of any kind. Not complaining, it isn't the worst things that may happen. Yet what's neat is that know that I've need to compartmentalize my music listen to lunch breaks with over-ear headphones and relaxing after work I find myself processing the music differently. The change mostly consist of me sitting on my ass while I really take the music in, instead of the method wherein I'd listen to it during any manner of tasks repeatedly, allowing it to be absorbed a series of deeper comprehension. Rather it's now like watching a film in a theater, where I devote a much more generous portion of my attention to the singular occupation of enjoying music. 

All this is to say that some of the music we're getting sent really steps up to this more immersive listening, among which the Señors of Marseille should be included. They can still be considered lo-fi, but a good set of speakers and a keen ear are rewarding to catch all the various catchy hooks and beats employed in their infectious rock. I'll defy you not to love the shimmering intro to "Never Stops" or adore the rhythmic piano, strings, handclaps and vocals of "Heart'n'Soul." Certainly didn't shy away from instruments in this album. A whole range influences shine through from jazz to new wave to pop but never take over.... This is an edited post to removed the less than legit link deferring to a bandcamp page for $7, at least at my last look-see. Also, this shit hold up like a few other things.

To be had here:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Broncho - Can't Get Past The Lips (2011)

The first time I was asked to dj, it was at a bar where I was told to play dance music… heavy on the 90's r'n'b. After schooling myself on the finer points of Genuwine and Blackstreet, I felt somewhat prepared. This confidence evaporated quickly as, halfway through my set, I hit the wrong button on my computer and followed Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" with Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean".

"What the HELL are you DOING?" one kind patron inquired. 

"I don't KNOW," I explained.

A year or so later, I had the opportunity to spin records at a rock bar, to much greater success it is much harder to play the same song twice with vinyl. Here's a record that I played that night, and will probably play every foreseeable dj night. 

Broncho is an Oklahoma outfit who chew, swallow, and regurgitate the best of what garage, early punk, and power pop have to offer. I was first made aware of the band after a friend showed me this video, which is probably my favorite video of recent memory. Frontman Ryan Lindsey is also the keyboardist for Starlight Mints who, if you haven't heard them, are a great indie-pop band, also from Oklahoma. Like them, Broncho has a keen ability for delivering sharp melodic hooks, but the overall feel here is much rougher. It's a bit Undertones, a bit Buzzcocks, and a bit Nerves… all super accessible while managing to pack a wallop.

Can't Get Past The Lips is an instant classic.

A HUGE thanks to the band, especially bassist Johnathon Ford (Unwed Sailor, Pedro The Lion) for giving the "ok" to go ahead and share the record for free. 

If you find yourself loving this record as much as I do and want a copy of the vinyl, the 2nd pressing just came out and can be bought here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

EP Grab Bag vol. 20

This summers proven to be a real bitch and more than the ungodly heat I've been suffering through without A/C at work or home. I mean more serious and stupid protracted issues like trying unsuccessfully to deal with the police after an attempted mugging, having my identity stole only for the cable company to be uncooperative in resolving the problem and a feeling I am getting further from graduate school that should be a ticket out of this town. Little of this relates to the blot save for reasons that I've been lax in regular posting, especially for as long as my name is wrongly soiled with cable company internet isn't available to me. Nonetheless, my mood has paradoxically been improving despite all these setbacks, and I've been finding myself with more energy and thirst for music. Accordingly I've hunted down some garage rock and surf EPs that are just the sort of thing I want to hear as I enjoy a beer after leaving work. So in the desire to share my elevated mood, there are some gems I've been captivated by.

To be had here:

Same as all these EPs I found this kicking around on bandcamp during a retreat to my folks' place. I was looking for surf purposefully, and that's something do deliever yet there's something tinging the songs of these Hot Babes. As the tracks progress it is like they've fallen into a region between Dick Dale's reverberated surf and the rhythmic beats and off-kilter singing of Gang of Four. Risking stating the obvious, I think it is brilliant.

Following the recommendations I saw while downloading Hot Babes I stumbled into the Amphibious Man's noisy garage rock. Everything echos in a way the charms my heart throughly with the lo-fi fuzz and soulful with a touch of angst sort of vocals that I could happily hear for hours. 

Discovered via the same method as the previous EP, I was pleases thrice over when shortly into the first track I got an ear-full of wildly distorted guitar strumming. In an almost schizophrenic fashion, this band lives up to its name, being both the most pop of the three EPs but no less rawly lo-fi. Perhaps the term garage pop was coined to describe just this sort of phenomena. The longest by track number, but the fleeting short songs makes it only the longest time-wise by the narrowest of margins. Gotta love short and intense.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

DUSU Mali Band - Doni Doni Che Bi Jdimi (2011)

Since much of the US is at the mercy of an oppressive heat wave, I thought I'd post some hot weather music to help y'all keep your swagger in spite of those sweaty rivers pouring from your pits.

Sometimes, hot weather music needs to be from a place that's hot. Even better if it's in a foreign language, so your brain can disassociate and focus on finding that frosty booze beverage ASAP. Here we have a group that kills those two birds. The DUSU Mali Band are Portland-based, but their lead singer, Ibrahim Kelly, is from Mali and sings in an African language I'm too ignorant to identify (one of the most common of Mali is Bambara but he is of Dogon descent which has several of it's own dialects). An immediate point of comparison for those unfamiliar with music of this region might be Nigerian-born saxophonist Fela Kuti who incorporated similar jazz flavors into his brand of West African funk. While saxophones make appearances in some DUSU Mali Band songs as well, the music here is much more guitar driven. This is most likely due to the fact that Ibrahim Kelly is the nephew of an internationally renowned Mali guitarist Ali Farka Touré ... perhaps playing a mean guitar simply runs in the family.

The tunes here are mostly upbeat, lively, and repetitive enough that you can easily get lost in the music while you find yourself that margarita.

10 songs. 

DUSU Mali Band - Doni Doni Che Bi Jdimi

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Basement Scene - Everything is Going to be Okay (2012)

From straight across the planet to me, Melbourne-based indie rockers the Basement Scene have sent us their album. Overall it a rather jangley, upbeat set of songs, but at the beginning we're treated to some jazzy sort of instrumentals that're like a funky post-rock. How about those adjectives, eh? Too many descriptors though will just confuse me more than the savvy reader if anything, so let me put it this way: the album makes me happy, not in the far-out psychedelic sense, but in the old-fashioned rock and roll making your feet move about way. It isn't by mistake that'll be reminiscent of the rock those my age could recall from high school, because that's their admitted influence. So perhaps my liking it is fueled by nostalgia, but I can't shake the feel these guys are onto something fresh nonetheless.

To be had here:
The Basement Scene - Everything is Going to be Okay

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Velibor Nikolic - Covek Peva Posle Rata (2012)

Here we've got a solo album from Serbian musician Velibor Nickolic, who tells me he plays in a post-metal band called Brigand as well. Now the album gives me little reason to doubt his post-metal credentials, as one of the tracks falls rather squarely into that sort of jam. However, Nickolic doesn't hold himself to one genre by any means. In fact, the tracks I am finding most enjoyable are more what I'd call psych-folk with "Kauboj, Njegovo Dvoriste I Njegov Karton" and "7324" being good examples of this. In some ways it feels like modernistic version of Meic Stevens or Bröselmachine (I do apologize for my esoteric references, but foreign lyrics in folk takes my memories to tucked away places). In addition, the opening song is more experimental and mildly ambient. Basically, the guy's putting up a solid musical resume and it'd be cool to hear what'd he produce if he focused in on a fully psychedelic project. 

To be had here:
Velibor Nikolic - Covek Peva Posle Rata [320/256 kbps]