Thursday, May 30, 2013

Elvis Dracula - Sings! (2013)

Shameless self-promotion on my part, but between making a new record with The Drunken Draculas, I have put out two EPs this summer. One is a Jazz record, the other is a set of rocking garage rock with my other band, The Psycho Ward. Check them out, and tell us what you think in the comments section.Both can be used to conjure demons to help you win a surf competition.

Elvis Dracula - "Sings!" (2013)

Elvis Dracula and the Psycho Ward (2013)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

EP Grab Bag vol. 31

I have been catching up with the extensive backlog that built up over the course of last month. Here are some standouts. 

If loud and nosey garage rock is what bleeds through your veins, then the new set from the Stolen Girls may as well be a necessary transfusion. This is loud, maxed out, hook heavy garage rock for anyone who knows that the best music is that done live with amble amounts of explosives. “It’s Dead” is my favorite track, but I can’t help but love any song titled “Fuck Morrissey (with a knife).”

Florida must have a vibrant garage rock scene at the moment based on the number of submissions I get from the state. The one thing that can kill a vampire is an alligator (shsssshh, don’t tell anyone else), so I don’t plan to go there anytime soon. Thankfully bands like this release their music online so I don’t need to (and for fuck’s sake, why would you want to go to Florida either?). “Telepath” stands out as the track to represent this EP, with its eerie layered vocals and meandering synth line.

Separating himself from the pack of drone musicians, Sean Proper plays a 12 string and arranges music that better sits next to Sir Richard Bishop’s recent catalogue. The licks are stuff many metal heads work on as they develop their stuff, but Proper finds a way to make this stuff interesting and engrossing. The film soundtrack to your life waking up in the desert from a significant LSD binge.

Now this is spacerock. Hailing from frozen Norway comes this explosive act with blasts of noise and dueling vocals, this group plays well to the “music better be bigger than Jesus if I am going to give a shit” crowd. This is big, aggressive, and plentiful music for those who crave such things.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Crystal Soda Cream - Escape from Vienna (2013)

The great folks at Totally Wired Records have a slew of good lo-fi and garage acts from just across the Atlantic pond, and Crystal Soda Cream is the newest gem in that line-up. Vintage synthesizers and a love for the early Goth sounds of the 1980s? Count me in!

“Escape from Vienna” is the record Joy Division would have made had they played a few too may Fugazi and Billie Holiday records in between studio sessions. This is dark stuff.  The sound quality is lo-fi in presentation, but the dense and somber tones that comes out of this record is what has required multiple listens on my part. “Sweet Doom” is the standout track in my opinion, and captures the band’s love for the whole darkwave scene. But if you are looking for a truly bitter journey, “Dead Again” is your anthem. Coming from the grave myself, this track sounds like a suicide note from a forgotten lover as they plunge into the sea. Thankfully, there are tracks like “Shades” that pull up the listener from the depths and give them a glass of scotch to enjoy as the dark comes and overcomes you with tomorrow’s lies. 

Get it here:

Crown Larks - Catalytic Conversion (2013)

Not many folks say “did you get a load of that clarinet solo on that track?” It is odd that many of the old European instruments that were once a staple of music and culture have been abandoned by popular music in this part of the world. I saw a Banda act play the other day, and I was reminded that in certain countries (and parts of this one for that matter), horns and brass are still featured prominently in music. 

Crown Larks from Chicago are a band that has found useful and exciting ways to use instruments outside of the familiar rock canon.  They put together what could accurately be described as Post-Rock, with long form songs that build to expressive highs and explode all over any basement apartment that's being channeled through.  What really helps this group stand out from their contemporaries is the creative instrumentation provided by Lorraine Bailey, the group’s member responsible for flute, keys, and clarinet. A track like “Pt. 4 Satrap” elevates these kids above the mere noodeling of music geeks with too much magnetic tape on their hands, and justifies a peek into just what is going on in the Windy City. 

They are heading out on a massive 40+ day tour soon, so check them out when they come to your town or regret it forever. 

EP Grab Bag vol.30

No, you have not been magically transported to a run down honky-tonk in 1957, you have just put on the newest release from Lyon’s own Hugo Clarence. In two short songs, the sounds of the American south are processed through a Frenchman’s film and vinyl fused mind resulting in some very “old school” sounds that remain unsettling as they are satisfying. 

More strong surf revival jams from Orlando’s Girls on the Beach. Their newest piece is something you can put your finger on but can’t exactly pin down to any era or location. This is fuzzy surf rock put to cassette and may be enjoyed by ironic hipsters traveling with their fat old uncle to a Jimmy Buffet concert. Without knowing it, tracks like “.45” may very well end the fights you have been having with your relatives over what to put on while on a road trip in your old sedan.

When I think of Oxnard, California the bubbling punk and skating culture comes to mind, but the city has produced a good number of fuzzy pop acts that were likely not as tough as that aforementioned scene. Bands like the Sea Lions were likely rocking Pavement while playing D&D. Neotomic Records has re-released this tape after it sat in obscurity for a few years, it is just too bad they don’t offer a digital copy for those of us not lucky enough to pick up these pop gems when it was available on tape.
Don’t always judge a book by its cover. Well, this record you can, but there have been times when folks have submitted covers with cutesy anime characters that featured brutal drill-and-bass music. Nothing like that here on Baby Ghost’s first full length. Pop-punk melodies wrapped together with dueling female/male harmonies, this Salt Lake band’s sound may not be world-shattering, but they have crafted some fun music that would have possibly made it on to a mainstream alternative rock station if they still played music that was an “alternative” to the corporate music scene’s dictation.  I really enjoyed the track “Ghost School,” but I’ll understand if you find your own pop connection on this 12 track LP.