I have a few different things that I’m working on right now that are going to take some more time to write than I have right now, but luckily I have an inbox full of music that I am trying to get through. I figure that now, toward the end of the year where new releases are getting fewer and farther between that I would do some housecleaning and share with you some of the very worthwhile stuff that I have been checking out.
First up is some heavy garage rock coming from our friends at Permanent Records in Chicago and L.A. The band is Basic Cable and the release is titled “I’m Good to Drive.” Officially released just two days ago “I’m good to drive” is the 39th release on Permanent Records’ own label. The track is a lot cleaner in production than other garagey offerings coming our way from the P-rex crew, but still delivers all the noise and reckless abandon that anyone could hope for. Take a listen to the track “Blonde Ambition” below.
Next up: what kind of a week would it be if Thee Oh Sees didn’t release something. The stream of non-stop ass-kickers continues with “What You Need (The Porch Boogie Thing),” reminding us that the band has released their 3rd singles collection, available now from Castle Face, there are still a few copies of the Pepto Pink vinyl left, as well as CDs. Listen to the track below, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Thee Oh Sees, and they are never ones to disappoint. Oh, and while you are over there at Castle Face, why not pick up a copy of the new White Fence Live in San Francisco recording, and I should add that I picked up the Fuzz EP live from the San Francisco Eagle, and that record (recorded direct to tape) sounds amazing. Guitar crunch and gut punching bass for days.
And now for something completely different. The Delay in the Universal Loop is from Benevento, Italy and they just released an album this past week entitled “Disarmonia.” The track below is “Spasmodica,” a song which starts off delicately enough, but takes a few twists and turns in the course of 4 minutes. The 17 year old Dylan Luliano is responsible for every aspect of the album, playing all the instruments, singing and writing all of the songs. More information and tons of links can be found here. “Disarmonia” is available worldwide right now. And you should maybe act fast because apparently there are an extremely (30?!) limited number of physical copies available. Head to the bandcamp page to check it out.
Enjoy those, and follow the links to some of the other stuff available from the Factum Est and Permanent Records soundcloud pages. Lots of worth stuff there.
Kurt Vile, whom I talked about not at all that long ago releases a follow up “Walkin on a Pretty Daze” from earlier this year. “It’s a big world out there (and I’m scared)” comes out today on Matador. You can listen to the breezy track above. This is a 12″ release, but isn’t a full album, instead “It’s a big world…” is an EP with some reworkings and a few new songs. I prefer this way of staying in the spotlight and staying relevant, getting people to pay attention to your music by constantly creating it. I wish that Arcade Fire would get the hint.
“Feel My Pain” sounds like something that could have very easily fit into “Walkin…” with its fingerpicked acoustic guitar and super laid back vocals. This stays completely within Vile’s aesthetic, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially for someone like Vile, who already doesn’t sound like anyone else.
I also wanted to bring your attention to Ty Segall’s new band, or newest…or maybe they aren’t his newest band anymore, because its been a few months and he could very easily have joined a dozen or more bands in the interim. But anyway, his newest project is called Fuzz, and yes, it’s pretty much exactly what one would expect from Ty at this point. Loud garage rock from San Francisco. He pretty much embodies this sound now.
The latest video begins more like a short film than a performance video, with Ty and Fuzz guitarist Charlie Mootheart loading up their van after a set-up shot that featured the clarinet opening from Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” We get a sampling of the super distorted rumbling of the band’s sound before the video focuses a bit on non-musical material before we finally get the performance.
The band’s sound lies somewhere between pure punk rock and a latter day Black Sabbath. The classic rock and blues influences are strong in Mootheart’s riffs and harmonizing with the bass, locking down a strong groove, with Ty on drums, no less. Is there anything that dude can’t do?
I was lucky enough to catch these guys back in July, in San Francisco, opening for Thee Oh Sees. Their energy was intense and didn’t fade at all throughout the set. I’m hoping that Ty keeps this around for at least a few minutes and puts out a few albums before moving on to something else. But I guess that only time will tell.
Showing up to the Tiny Tavern just before 8pm, because I know the place is small and I always get nervous that shows are going to be too full or something, seems now like it was a bit excessive. I sat at the end of the bar for about an hour listening to the members of So So Glos and Diarrhea Planet talking and making fun of the horrible musical selections coming in through the speakers of the bar (Counting Crows, Bush, The Wallflowers, Sheryl Crow. I think it must have been from the compilation “NOW That’s what I Call Overplayed Watered Down Corporate Shit Rock from the Late 90s that Attempts to Fill in the Enormous Void Left by Kurt Cobain’s Death Vol. 3”) and eating, though I don’t think that any of them really enjoyed the food as when they all got up and wandered outside there were about 8 bowls of weird looking beef stroganoff lining the bar.
I was sitting there just awkwardly observing and catching bits of conversations between the bartender and the bands. “Hey guys, and don’t forget,” the bartender leaned in to whisper to one of Diarrhea Planet’s guitarists, “that there’s a radical discount on the food for the bands and roadies and anyone that is traveling with the band.” I remember trying to figure out after he said “radical” whether he was using it as a synonym for “significant” or if he was one “hang-loose” hand gesture away from trying to be “cool like the kids.” I came to the decision that, based upon his inflection that it was the latter. Another uncomfortable interaction came a few minutes later when the drummer sat next to me at the bar in order to get some food. After ordering, the super-hip bartender with the black pageboy hat (though strangely lacking in the soul-patch department) said “how ’bout we call that….4 bucks?” and right as the drummer was saying “Ok” the bartender gave him a sideways glance and with a half winking eye said “you can talk me down to $3,” to which the drummer replied through an uncomfortable laugh “…whatever man.” I knew he and I were on the same page in regard to our thoughts on the bartender.
At about this time I was watching a dude that came in with some mic stands set up the monitor. The monitor was pretty much next to the stage in front some overturned tables and surge protectors that were dangling delicately from the ceiling, a perfect compliment to the partially working blinking icicle lights (check the date). As he set up the monitor the mics blared feedback for a good 10 minutes at 5 second intervals. A delightful array of ear piercing ultra-high frequencies assaulted our ears, yet nobody seemed fazed. As the monitor guy walked back toward the bar to excitedly talk about the app that he uses to single out the frequencies that are feeding back he said “Ok, I’ve gotta run.” It was at that point I realized that there was going to be no sound guy, he came in, set up the mics, made them squeal a bit, turned a few dials counter-clockwise a bit, drank a beer and left. All in a days work.
It was quarter to 9 and I was still the only person there not in the band. Well, that’s not completely true, there were some unsuspecting regulars that had no idea there was going to be a show and the possibly domestically challenged man in one of the booths that had drank a pitcher of PBR and fallen asleep. One of the guys in So So Glos wondered aloud “So where is everyone?” This was followed moments later by “…so it’s just gonna be that guy at the end of the bar?” Despite that being said in a bit of a hushed tone as he headed for the door it was audible from my position at the end of the bar.
Thankfully, about 20 minutes later the audience showed up. I think that they must have coordinated it earlier, like a punk rock flash mob. It seemed as if the entire audience literally walked in at once. The first opener (didn’t catch their name because the sound was terrible for some reason) tore through twenty or so minutes of noisy originals and a few covers (was that the theme to Full House?) to an appreciative crowd.
So So Glos took the stage next (and by stage I mean area of the floor in front of the fireplace, next to the aforementioned tables and surge protectors and underneath the Coors Light neon dry erase board with “Don’t forget to try the special!” scrawled onto it in that generic font that must be taught to all owners of bars everywhere) and immediately invited the audience to get up, move closer, no… closer, no… closer. They then proceeded to bring out their intense energy song after song. Lead singer/bassist Alex Levine could not be contained, and didn’t resist the urge to jump into the audience and climb atop the bar. Despite mistakenly stating, “it’s so great to be back here in California,” to sarcastic boos (someone yelled back “Yeah! Eugene, California!” we’re nice here, we don’t care and we forgive quickly) he apologized profusely and carried on. The crowd was amped up after their set, and not wanting them to leave after their “last song” began chanting “USA! USA! USA!” together with “ROCK AND ROLL! ROCK AND ROLL!” until they gave us one more tune. Off to a great start.
I think that part of the reason that we were all so ready to forgive the “California” faux pas is because of their tour schedule. So So Glos and Diarrhea Planet are doing things Japandroids style and touring non-stop up and down the coast and across the country, adding dates as they go. Speaking with lead singer and 1/4 of the shredding department of Diarrhea Planet, Hodan, he said they had been on tour since about the beginning of July and would be going almost straight through until the end of December. So, given that, fine. Call us California, call us Idaho, it doesn’t matter.
Diarrhea Planet swiftly began setting up (tooling with the monitor, as if there was a point by now. I think that every member of each band had been tweaking it all night), did a quick check and were off and running. The crowd moshed wildly, resulting in a cascade of beer flying through the air and pooling around our feet. Shirtless dudes gesticulated wildly at the closest guitarist mimicking the hand motions of Jimi Hendrix as he incited flames from his guitar. The band tore through song after song with little effort; these guys could really play well, truly well. And despite there barely being enough room for the 6 of them on the “stage” there was enough room for some true rock showmanship in the form of hair-whipping headbanging, and thrashing about on the floor while flying through a guitar solo sometimes with Hodan on his knees arching such that the back of his head rested on the floor as he continued to wail. There were a few covers as well, one as (I think) a comment to the garbage that was on the radio while they were (not) eating at the bar. That song was another from the wasteland of late 90’s corporate shit rock: Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” which was started on a whim by one of the guitarists and the rest of the band just picked up on it. They managed to get through an entire verse and chorus, with the crowd dutifully singing along and thrashing about before the band said “Ok, we can’t do that shit anymore.”
It was a great show. All the way through from the opener to So So Glos to Diarrhea Planet. It was such a great show that as everyone began to realize that it would soon come to a close we all kept yelling “ONE MORE!” until Levine came back to the stage sans bass to lead in an amazing 4 guitar version of Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!).” The crowd went insane, yelling along, hoisting people in the air while watching the leader of So So Glos climb onto the bar again. Things got a little crazy as the crowd sort of invaded Diarrhea Planet’s space, but they all had giant smiles on their face. Everyone in there was having a great time.
Speaking with guitarist Emmett after the show, while buying some merch, he kept saying how great the tour was going. I mentioned that it must be awesome to have been getting attention from NPR and the New York Times (the review was published only two days prior) and a tour that will not stop. He was genuinely excited and said the entire band was still amazed and incredibly grateful for all the press. He swore that they would be back, as they loved the crowd and our city. When they do, I’ll be right there at the front again screaming along with everyone else.
I have loved Man or Astro-man? since the first time that I heard them. The album was “Is it Man or Astro-man?” and unfortunately I hadn’t heard it until after the band had put themselves into cryogenic freeze. It was several years before they thawed themselves out and made another appearance, though they had trained some clones to serve as them around the country, but that’s a whole other story.
Since they have been re-animated, my favorite sci-fi obsessed surf-rock band from another planet has been touring pretty regularly and on May 21st of this year they released a new album entitled “Defcon 5…4…3…2…1” through Chunklet. There is one track up on Communicating Vessels. That song is “Disintegrate” and it can be heard below.
I managed to see Man or Astro-man? twice in Chicago last summer when they played the West Fest street festival and later that same night when played a nearly completely different set at The Empty Bottle. Though the songs were different the shows still involved fire, a theremin and a Tesla Coil. So get out there and see them if you can, they are a lot of fun live.
The album can be purchased in a variety of forms and combo-packs. Follow these links for your preference:
They are currently on tour throughout Europe. Catch up with them on Facebook for all the latest tour updates. If you want to hear more Man or Astro-man? check the video below of their live set for KEXP in Seattle:
Oregon, and the rest of this corner of the country, has really been coming up the past few years with regard to music festivals. There’s Sasquatch, in central Washington, bringing in an impressive lineup of bands in May. The Treefort music festival in Boise in March that brought in a whole slew of great artists like Dan Deacon, Youth Lagoon, Earth and Quasi. Of course, as one of my recent posts pointed out, there is also the annual roots/folk festival just outside of Portland called Pickathon.
But, in my opinion, the most exciting of all of these is the SxSW style MusicFest NorthWest that happens all over the city of Portland for nearly an entire week at the beginning of September. The beginning of September, for those of you that aren’t fortunate enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, is when our weather tends to be absolutely perfect. Little to no rain, warm, sunny, everything you don’t think of when you think of the weather in the Pacific Northwest.
The artists that are brought to this area for each of these festivals keep getting better with each passing year. Last year Lightning Bolt, Deerhoof and Fucked Up playing MFNW were the bands that originally brought the festival to my attention and now that the full lineup has been released I would seriously urge people to sell a kidney if they had to in order to get there.
The full lineup and schedule have been officially released, which includes Neko Case, Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Titus Andronicus, Dan Deacon, Superchunk, The Thermals, The Dodos, Surfer Blood and a whole bunch more that I would give anything to see. It’s the largest music festival in the Northwest and the 3rd largest indoor music festival in the country, no small feat.
Wristbands range in price from $90 to $200, each guaranteeing free entry to any show, though the cheaper ones are “space permitting” while VIP is “immediate entry.” You can also buy individual tickets for each show, for those of you that don’t want to spend a week running across Portland (though if you were going to run around a city, Portland would be a good one to do it in. The light rail is pretty fantastic there.) And being that it is very similar in style to SxSW there is, of course, TechFestNW that overlaps with the last two days of the music festival.
If you’re in the area, or even if you are within a few days drive I would say go for it. Catch all the shows you can, and if you can’t get in to all of the shows that you wanted to, hey, you’re still in Portland. Have a beer.
Sharon Van Etten recently played the final show of her tour here in Oregon. The Pickathon is a yearly music festival that happens outside of Portland. This year the festival was on August 4th and we have a really good recording of the entire set. Even more exciting is that this recording provides some really high quality versions of a few new songs that Sharon played that afternoon.
The first song, on my recording simply labeled “New Song” as she opens the set with it and doesn’t introduce it, but I think a fair bet is that the song is going to be called “I Know.” It’s a great choice for a set opener with just Sharon singing at the piano, her voice confident and stronger than ever. She moves effortlessly between a subdued, soft voice drawing us in, and a powerful full-voiced near shout at the top of her range before seeming to calm herself down singing “I know…..I know.” The dynamic play pushes and pulls us through the song, while melismatic turns casually float by before coming to an end with Sharon softly singing “all I ever wanted was you.”
Abut the other new track, “Tarifa,” Sharon explains,
“this next song is about a vacation, it’s a new one that we’ve been working on, it’s call Tarifa….it’s [in Spain] on a fucking cliff overlooking Morocco, but it is amazing – in the middle of nowhere. There was a bunch of bulls, that I was afraid of, in the pasture next to me, but they could give a shit that I was there. They didn’t try to run me over or anything weird. I had to ask my boyfriend, I was like ‘can I wear red? Are they gonna charge at me?’ They didn’t. I tried it out. It was fine. Anyway, this song is about that.”
It’s more fleshed out than “I Know,” beginning with Sharon and her guitar, and the rest of the band soon following. The verses move through a gentle waltz, while the choruses are more concerned with driving straight ahead.
And while you are checking those out, you should also head over to this site to purchase a t-shirt designed by Sharon with all of the proceeds going to charity.
“The artwork used is one of my early contour drawings when I first moved to New York and the charity chosen is Women in Need (WIN). WIN transforms the lives of New York City homeless women and their children by providing a holistic solution of safe housing, critical services and ground-breaking programs they need to succeed on their own – so the women can regain their independence and their children can look forward to a brighter future.”
So there you have it. Two new songs and a way to help a great charity. This is where I would normally say “you can catch her on tour” but, like I said, the tour is over. Look for the album within the year. You’ll forget by then, but I’ll remind you.
(UPDATE: The band has taken down “Quality Arrangement” and posted a full cassette’s worth of material, which I talk about and link to here)
If there is one thing that people that know me are aware of, or that readers of this blog are aware of, it’s of my love for the band Women from Calgary. We are also all aware that the possibility of new music from them is absolutely out of the question.
But what we do have to look forward to are two new bands that have formed from Women’s former members. Today’s track comes from the band Viet Cong that includes Matt Flegel, former bassist for Women and Mike Wallace, their drummer. The lineup also includes members from Lab Coast, Sharp Ends and Friendo. If this song is any indication then we have a lot to look forward too, especially since this track is pulled off beautifully when recorded live. I’m personally hoping that they work with Chad Vangaalen to record and produce their album. I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t, doesn’t he have his hand in pretty much all the music that comes out of Calgary?
This is the only song posted to their bandcamp page. The band is touring with Freak Heat Waves currently and I would assume that an album is in the workscompleted. Keep an eye on it and listen to the track. Unfortunately it’s not up for download.
The next post will cover another band, Cindy Lee, formed after the dissolution of Women by their former singer and guitarist Pat Flegel.