Saturday, June 29, 2013

EP Grab Bag vol. 35

Even Elvis Dracula needs lovin’, and he has taken a lovely ghoul out for the night and listened to a few submissions with her along the way.

Just Friends and Lovers – What, Colour? (2013)

I have been to Glasgow. Great music scene, crazy fucking people. I think I was threatened 5 times between a house show and the club I was attending to see an old Sarah Records band play. Perhaps Scotland puts all its ruffians in one city to spare the rest of the country. Anyhow, this band reminds me of the Sarah Records label, with its pretty female vocals, pop melodies, and well applied reverb centered guitar work. This is fun, enjoyable, and worth your time even if they are from Austrian and not made up of lovely Scottish lassies.

So my lady enjoyed the first record, the second less so. I am not sure why to be honest. This is dark and brooding stuff, with layered instrumental lines placed just underneath two distinct vocal traces that sounds like a nightmare in any language. It’s interesting, lush, and yet subdued enough to be enjoyed for its minimalism. I was taking my date to a Goth club, but her reaction to this pleasant set of songs has made me revise my plans. I think I will play “Case and Point” one more time for good measure.

Ok, she is bobbing her head to this release. It has big guitars and sing along harmonies. She didn’t care for all the yelling that followed it, but the poppy guitar work seems to have brightened her mood and given me a new idea for the night. We will drop by our local rock club and take in some fine guitar pop that will (hopefully) lead to some lovely sexytime. “The Catholic Channel” demonstrates the skill this band has and provides a hook-heavy tune that really should be featured in NME and played anytime a fist pumping is required. Thanks for getting my lady into the mood.

We had plenty of drinks at the show, and this ghostly woman is looking for some harder stuff. Something to take her mind into a different realm. I don’t have cash for drugs, but I do have some out-there pop music to play. I don’t know if this group is a single guy or a band, but fuzzy, blasted out guitar licks are their delivery method for a fan’s necessary dose of tape hiss. This is pop music, I can tap my foot to it, and she can sit back on the couch and space out for a bit. Best of all, it is fun. Lord knows I don’t need any downer shit right now.

Time to seal the deal. If I don’t move in now, she may think Elvis Dracula has turned into some eunuch, I pop on this release out of Richmond to slow things down and let us move with the candlelight. I will spare you the specifics….but it was pretty filthy. Not the music mind you, but my body grooving. This slowcore-styled release was a pleasant background to slow, sweaty bodies grinding against each other. Only after the deed had been done that I read through the group’s vocals and was happy with their content, even if the heartbroken nature of them would have ended my love making had my lover heard them.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lisabi - Senseless (2012)

Prog is treated by some to be the ugly, fattened alternate reality to the more "real" punk and garage rock sounds that came to replace it in popularity and hip credibility. That's a shame really, and I say that as a very committed garage rock aficionado. I like my music dirty and fast. I dare say that I also enjoy well studied musicianship that puts a premium on intricate solos.

The passion, authenticity, and immediacy of any 3 chord punk song can be heard in Brazil's native sons Lisabi. Their new release, "Senseless" takes Prog and throws out all the references to Tolkien and replaces them with anger and angst at the modern world. Half the songs are in the band's own tongue, something I am always happy to see. Best of all, these kids are on tour in the US this July, and that means you have a chance to come out and help them along their way. This record is a mere 4 bucks, but their first release is absolutely free. So get them cholo!

Get it here:
Lisabi - Senseless (2012)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

La Luz - Call Me in the Day (2013)

I first heard the Washington based La Luz when Burger Records put out an EP of theirs this year, and they have followed it up with another great pair of songs on a recent 7 inch released by Water Wing Records. This all girl pop act takes everything worth keeping from the lo-fi pop genre and puts a beautiful shine on top of old tropes and chord arrangements. That isn't to say these ladies don't put together some great licks and rhythms; this short record has its ample share of them. Reactionary is rarely used as a positive, but this group has internalized the joys of the 3 minute pop song, processed it accordingly, and put out a great set of tracks that any rock aficionado would enjoy. Highly recommended.

Buy it here:
La Luz - Call Me in the Day (2013)

Monday, June 24, 2013

EP Grab Bag vol. 34

I love Acid Mothers Temple, and I got a distinct whiff of that band in this first EP from New Zealand’s own Sunken Seas. Layered psychedelic guitar effects hang over a driving, constant beat that eventually introduces a pulsating riff. If you like your rock and roll to be spacey and experimental without losing its rock sensibilities, this is a record for you. As I pull on my work clothes, this is the kind of music I want to hear.

It was a psychedelic morning here at SpaceRock when I played through the aforementioned release and then this nice release from Prison Art records in Brooklyn. I assumed someone had spiked my coffee with acid, but then I realized I always eat an omelet with magic shrooms. This release is more on the bedroom pop, reverb heavy side of the equation and would be a fine wake up set for any of you struggling to face another day as a mindless wage slave. 

I am on to my drive to work. Lots of assholes moving in and out of traffic. I catch a view of a kid on a skateboard and wish I would have chosen that form of transportation to get to where I need to go. France’s Wonderflu only added to my angst, with their fuzzy 90s inspired power pop and more-than-pissed vocal delivery. 

Speaking of kids, this group from Los Angeles is made up of lads all still in high school. That pisses me off, because this is great lo-fi garage rock that only makes me think of the wasted years I spent as a teenager trying to bang cholas and get trashed. It is pretty lo-fi and heavy on the fuzzy side of rock, but if you read this blog you probably think that is a good thing. I do, and I dig this shit. 

Fuck, my boss is a dick. So what if the woman in the cubicle next to me is a uber-Christian and doesn’t like the sweet sound of Slayer? Ok fine, I’ll put something “nicer” on. The Sneeky Creeps are two dudes from Kansas City that make some pleasant mid-tempo trash rock. I really loved this sound back in 1999, and I am glad to see some folks are still out there doing it right. 

I don’t know about you, but the last 3 hours of my work life is a drunken haze. Today especially so. Too many people have pissed me off, and I need music that will relax me and take me to a different place. Thankfully Dead Leaf Echo has come along with their outstanding new shoegaze release. Tracks like “Kingmaker” provide the lush vocal/guitar harmonies that you have come to expect from the genre, and give me a taste of relief from the terror that is cubicle life.

Liam Singer – Arc Iris (2013)

Liam Singer has become one of my favorite artists putting out larger than life pop records over the last few years. This is the fourth release form the Queens local, and in my estimation, the record that breaks him into a larger audience than the music blogs and indie radio stations that have been championing him. 

Singer has always taken parts of the 60s and 70s layered pop approach and spun his own voice into those genres. I figure most that listen to Arc Iris will immediately make a comparison to Pet Sounds and Sufjan Stevens, but those influences are only part of this record’s approach. Liam’s melancholy tone and lyrics are a far cry from the sunny summer psychedlia of Brian Wilson, and Singer’s elegant use of instrumentation puts him on a different path than the odd chord and timing arrangements studied in the classic Beach Boy records. “Stranger I Know,” my favorite track off the album, captures a man trying to find elation and release in the darkness of the city and the copious strangers that inhabit it. 

This is a record to be heard with the highest quality audio equipment you have (your dinky laptop speakers will not do it justice). So bust out the Hi-fi headphones, check out the free to download songs, and then kick Hidden Shoal Records a few bucks for putting out this wonderful record. 

Buy it here:

Download some of it here:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

EP Grab Bag vol. 33

Some of these releases are fully fledged records, but in an attempt to catch up on some of the backlog, here they are in brief. 

A nice slab of twinkly goodness from Alabama. I think I referenced the Appleseed Cast in another review a few weeks back, but those Low Level Owl records must have made quite the impact on impressionable young musicians some years back. As for this record, you get lots of long songs with dueling guitars picking very pretty yet forlorn melodies that slowly build to an pleasing crescendo. My favorite track happens to be the last one (“Let’s Not Rush Out and Tell Everyone”), as it perfectly wraps up this strong set.

I have been told that cities around Italy have been experiencing some interesting punk sounds for the last two decades, but as I have never been I simply have to take people’s word for it. If I did happen to drop in on some anarchist squat and heard the sounds Vacanza produce come through the sound system, I would be tickled. The group produces music on the screamy end of what we used to call Emo back in the late 90s. You know, lots of Dischord and Level Plane Records influences. I really enjoy that the group sings in their native tongue and doesn’t try to play to a foreign market’s expectations.

Another great release from Sweden’s best current outsider folkster. Like a lot of outsider art, a lot of these songs sound like sketches produced in the bought of mental illness, drugs, or all of the above. In the case of Horrible Houses, the music has a remote, stoned feeling to it that helps capture in my mind what the frozen wilderness of Sweden must look like in the summer. “The Rebuilding of the Adelphi Rolling Grist Mill” was the track that called out to me more than once.  

Back to Los Angeles for some more weird pop jams. I came across Lou Breed back in February when someone at Burgerama told me that I would probably like the band, but with all the cheap beer and garage rock I was digesting that night I forgot the band’s name. This is a pleasant but odd surprise. Songs like “Fellow Americans” sound like they could have been on a popular 80s rock station if a few of the song’s elements were adjusted for a mainstream audience. It’s odd, it’s weird, it’s good. 

I generally like to end my listening session with something evil or satanic. You have to keep rock and roll evil kids! Czar Rose is a group from Los Angeles that throw together gloomy, electronically influenced pop songs that are on the light end of psychedlia. The lyrics and synth lines create a chant like result that is efficient in setting the tone the group is clearly looking for. When the demonic vocals come in with a rap cadence on “Music Comes (Alive)”, you know you are entering the fourth level of hell.

Space Mountain - Ferry Lane (2013)

How could we pass up reviewing a record from a band called SPACE MOUNTAIN? This Connecticut band’s name says it all and fits comfortably on the ledge of a rock mountain reaching towards the stars. I am getting a noteworthy early-90s indie vibe from these lovely lads on their first release. There is a love for the lo-fi and the jangly riffs that dominated college radio stations 20 years ago. Best of all, the record never takes itself too serious, allowing the group to let it all hang out and enjoy some sloppy jamming. Just listen to the standout track “There U Are” to get a sense of what I mean with its mumbled, half-drunken vocal delivery and whistle-backed harmony. This stuff should make you want to pull out your 4-track and Pavement records and pound away to your heart’s content. 

Get it here:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Karl Bartos - Off the Record (2013)

This is not a submitted record, but with all the attention Daft Punk has been getting for their excellent new record, it reminded me of another electronic music pioneer that has a new record out this year. Karl Bartos was a member of Kraftwerk during their most influential period, and has been plodding along for years after leaving the band. His new set of songs, “Off the Record,” can be described as a companion piece to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. While Daft Punk’s newest celebrates the disco and R&B roots of electronic music, Bartos rediscovers the more experimental and disunite sounds that were pioneered in tandem with the genres various club incarnations. Just like Kraftwerk records of old, you can dance to “Off the Record,” and there are more than a few pop rhythms and hooks, but Bartos’ work creates a bitter environment where the only beings dancing are ghosts left in the machines mankind has let degrade. It is fascinating music, and one of my favorite records to be released this year. Bellow is one of the best tracks off the album, “Musica Ex Machina.”


Buy it here: Karl Bartos - Off the Record (2013)