Sunday, May 27, 2012

New Music

Here’s some stuff from the inbox that caught my ear.

Bad Veins is a meaty, beaty, big and bouncy two-piece from Cincinnati that come off like a dancier version of The Strokes. “Dancing on TV” is from their new album The Mess We’ve Made. Go here for a free download or check out the video.

Jay Shepard’s album Harsh Mistress comes out in July. The single “Last Man on Earth” is a buoyant, fuzzy ray of power pop sunshine. Listen and download for free here.

Ali Young is a singer-songwriter with a deft melodic touch. Her EP Love Animal can be downloaded here

Listen to Ali Young’s “Make Believe” 

The title to Gospel Music’s song “This Town Doesn’t Have Enough Bars For Both of Us” is irresistible, and so is the tune. You can download it here, or check it out below.

Finally, the band Animal isn’t exactly in my wheelhouse, but the email that brought them to my attention was perfect – short and to the point, the perfect antidote to the six-paragraph bluster about how “our post-psychedelic dreamcore band started as an idea in one man’s bedroom in Boise and took shape over a nine-year spiritual journey that ended in Tibet” that I get from so many bands. Note to such bands: I get dozens of these things a week. If I have to work that hard to get to the actual music you make, I’m never going to listen to it, let alone share. So, yeah, check out Animal’s album Diatoms.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012

# 1 (TM) Middle Brother - Middle Brother

Supergroup my ass. That term generally signifies bland half-baked jams (Superheavy, Them Crooked Vultures), main group throwaways (Golden Smog, Monsters of Folk), intriguing novelty (The Baseball Project, Tinted Windows) or sheer wretchedness (Chickenfoot). Middle Brother brings their A game and top flight songs.

Middle Brother brings together three songwriters (Deer Tick's John McCauley, Dawes' Taylor Goldsmith and Delta Spirit's Matthew Vasquez) whose main bands have yet to rise above club status. They cherry pick the best attributes from each band and reign in their excesses. While Vasquez (the Crazy Horse inspired "Blue Eyes", the irresistible 50's pastiche "Someday") and Goldsmith ("Thanks for Nothing" and "Wilderness") shine, it's McCauley's rumpled stumblebum who dazzles. The theme is pie-eyed lovable losers, and the only cover, a suitably shaggy run through The Replacements' rarity "Portland", manages the neat trick of saluting patron saint Paul Westerberg and eclipsing his original.

But the stunner, and the best song on the year's best album, is "Daydreaming", whose chord progressions hint that this is the kid from Big Star's "Thirteen", a few years older, still lovesick and longing, looking for someone to "be an outlaw for my love". Simply gorgeous.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

# 2 (TM) Butch Walker and The Black Widows - The Spade

Butch Walker is a melody freak. And a fun junkie. And with The Spade, he hits all my musical g spots - big guitars, gigantic hooks and instantly memorable choruses. There's also bit of hair metal cheese wrapped in a glam, alt-country sandwich. But the main focus is F-U-N. With an in-jokey, self-referential, self-deprecating boys club atmosphere, The Spade was 2011's best non-stop party.  
Butch Walker and The Black Widows - "Bodegas and Blood" (from The Spade)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

#1 (MA) Nick Lowe - The Old Magic

Nick Lowe has been mining the same territory for nearly twenty years now, meaning that "this phase" of his career has gone on for longer than the part that we normally think of as "his career," namely the Jesus of Cool and Labour of Lust years. His stock-in-trade is now to create new songs that you swear you've heard before, 1960s country and R&B classics that you just can't place, records that James Carr and Charlie Rich probably made before you were born. And he does it with such ease, such wit, such elegance that you might fail to notice the genius behind all this effortless beauty. The Old Magic is pure grace, the kind of album that will never be in fashion, but can't go out of style.

#2 (MA) Ezra Furman & The Harpoons - Mysterious Power

There's a moment on Mysterious Power when you realize that this isn't the Ezra Furman you know, the clever but sometimes too-jokey troubadour whose whine too often overwhelms his roar. It happens on the third track, "Hard Time in a Terrible Land," when Ezra and the Harpoons cast all notions of indie propriety aside and rock out with abandon. There are no trappings of irony here. Instead, Mysterious Power is a deeply felt set of songs, alternatively tender and ferocious, that reveal a songwriter and band at the height of their powers.

Monday, May 07, 2012

#3 (MA) Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Yeah, so it's May, and we're still telling you about the albums we enjoyed last year. Maybe it's just taking us that long to get our heads around them. I feel rushed when December comes and I have to tell you how I feel about an album I bought five minutes ago. How should I know how I feel about it? I don't even know it yet. This is one of those albums that took some time to get to know. On one level, it's irrepressibly indie, the kind of thing made for the blogger/tumblr/twitter culture that celebrates songs that only twenty-seven people will ever know. On another, it's rooted in the let's-roll-another ethos of the 1970s, an unapologetic rock record that demands to be revisited, not just consumed. I bought this on mp3, but I find myself reaching for the gatefold cover and lyric sheet that I don't have. It's magic.

Friday, May 04, 2012