Hailing all the way from sunny Spain, Madrid's The Parrots rock a fresh take on garage rock, imbuing the genre with a woozy, surfy vibe. They've a new single out on Austria's Bachelor Records on June 24, but they've shared the a-side, "Loving You Is Hard," online for everyone to check out. We enjoyed it so much, we got the band to answer a few questions for us via e-mail. The Parrots' music is kind of woozy. What lends it that slightly off-kilter, drunken sound? Lots of Sangria in the park! There's also this serious surf vibe going on -- you guys are sunny. How'd that happen? I guess it all comes down to jealousy. In Madrid, we don’t even have a coast, so we really envy not having that relaxing place and that comes out in the music. I’ve never really thought of it until now but maybe this is our way of bringing the beach to Madrid! Is the sunny, happy vibe kind of what influences all your videos to be so fun? Yeah – like everyone, we like to have a good time and I guess that imprints on both the music and the videos. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXGTZ99G5m4[/embed] Was there a change in the recording process for the new single? It sounds a little cleaner. Last time we were in the studio – we only had one day to get everything – even the mastering - done. This time round, we wanted to do things the proper way - so we took 2 days! What is it about the garage scene in Spain that brings out such a diverse array of musicians, do you think? The garage scene in Spain is not actually that big on the whole but within it there are some really great bands. The places we hang out and the venues we play are usually the same for bands in the same city and I think it’s this that breeds these strong local scenes. On top of that, we are all very diverse and influenced by a lot of different things and so this is infused between the different bands. Are there any bands to whom you think you gained a lot in terms of influence? I know the Black Lips comparison gets thrown around a lot. We do love the Black Lips, but we´re also big into stuff from the 60´s and 50´s - like French pop, and The Kinks. How thrilled are you guys to be releasing something on Bachelor, given their strong roster? We really love the stuff Bachelor has released, and thus far, we can only be really thankful for how they´ve treated us. What's the chances of the United States getting to hear any of these new songs in a live setting? Hopefully we will be there sometime soon. We need to arrange things but if anybody gave us a keg of beer and somewhere to sleep - we would be willing to provide for a good party! [embed]https://soundcloud.com/theparrots/loving-you-is-hard[/embed] Go check out everything the Parrots have done on their Bandcamp page.
The first full-length from Indiana's Vacation Club, Heaven Is Too High, took a couple listens to really work its way into rotation. Samuel James' vocals are an acquired taste -- they're high, they're snotty, and they're fairly monotonic. It took picking the LP up after a little time away from it, putting it on the turntable, and hearing the opening strains of "Gas Station" to get what Vacation Club's doing -- this is a trimmed-down, lo-fi version of something like the Sweet or Slade. The stomp's all there, along with the bubblegum catchiness. It's 100% pop, despite the echoing vocals and pretty basic song structures. "Hound" will instantly remind you of something like the Dave Clark Five's "Anyway You Want It," and much like that stomping bit of circular pop joy, you'll want to get the hell up out of your seat and dance. This is sugary-sweet, like Vacation Club distilled oldies radio into a syrup you pour directly into your ears. It'll go straight from your ears to your brain to your hands and feet. Dancing will happen, your teeth will rot, and your cavity-riddled mouth will be fixed with shiny metal fillings. That metal will, in turn, start picking up radio stations. Radio stations that only play the Association, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, and on and on and on ... until your brain will accept only the finest sugary choruses. At that point, you'll be hit with "Boiled," your face will melt in the face of its psychedelic madness, and you won't know what to expect. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/styrofoamdrone/vacation-club-oh-patty[/embed] Vacation Club's Heaven Is Too High is out now from Magnetic South Recordings, and comes in a pressing of 500 LPs on black vinyl. You should really go buy a copy. The cut-and-paste, Xeroxed aesthetic of the cover extends to the back, the insert, and even the LP labels. It's a cool-looking package.
Kids! Kidskidskidskids! Guess what? Josh Berwanger put out a new single! And it's part of the too Much Rock single series! And it has a cover of the Jags' "Back of My Hand" on the b-side! I literally responded to the initial news of this with a linked article on Facebook and something along the lines of "THE FUCKING JAGS?!?!" But, really, everybody: I'm a huge fan of Josh berwanger as a musician and just a guy to chat with in general, and this might be my favorite thing he's thus far done. "Oh Bis!" has been part of Bernwager's live sets for a while now, and the fact that he uses the word "bozos" has always endeared the song to me. I also really like the fact that the song flips the usual pop song narrative, working in a certain element of self-awareness, wherein Berwanger's singing about how "he could never love you like he does," rather than railing about how he could do so much better. It's a clever bit of mirroring, and the lyrics give lie to the postivity of the music. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/sidmuchrock/josh-berwanger-oh-bis[/embed] The flipside, a cover of the Jags' "Back of My Hand," is pretty much perfect. The addition of Heidi Gluck on backing vocals is always a welcome addition -- her work on Berwanger's album, Strange Stains, resulted in some of that record's highlights. The cover's pretty straightforward, but fits in nicely with the band's previous cuts. The single's out tomorrow, and can be found at Lawrence's Love Garden Sounds, as well as Kansas City's Mills Record Comapny, who will play host to a release show for the single on Thursday, June 5. If you're not able to get to either shop, you can buy it from Josh Berwanger's online store (which, in the interest of full disclosure, is my day job). You've your choice of black vinyl (a pressing of 416) or random color (a pressing of 109, which includes blue, turquoise, purple, and red, amongst others). Additionally, the Jay Shaw artwork lends a bit of continuity to the look of Berwanger's releases. Nice job on the reto picture sleeve. This sucker looks straight out of 1981.
Watery Love's new album on In the Red, Decorative Feeding is blown the fuck out. It appropriately pegs the VU meters in the red for pretty much the entire duration of the LP. Decorative Feeding isn't a subtle album. Vocals are hoarsely shouted, and declamed more than sang. The band rocks the same drum beat for most of the album, with Watery Love seeming like it's about to fall apart at any given moment. It's a tenuous connection holding everything together -- you wonder if the first few times this happened live, everyone in Watery Love just ended up sitting on the stage as feedback rolled out of amplifiers and somebody screamed into a microphone. It's a little better on the second side, when the drone gives up to some thrashed-out riffs, but this is an intensely anxious album. It's ostensibly "garage punk," but cuts like "Only Love" come close to dirge-like hardcore in the vein of Total Abuse. That particular cut continues in the simple, plodding rhythm like the rest of Decorative Feeding, but hints at a build to release. Of course, it never happens, keeping the sounds of the LP tight, tense, and uncomfortable. I listened to Watery Love's Decorative Feeding for the first time on a bright, sunny spring morning with a full cup of coffee while I ate a plate of French toast. By the end of it, I was contemplating what was wrong with my life and wondering why I even tried. It's all brought to a head on the strange, despairing "Piece of Piss," which is a stoner-rock Modern Lovers bit of beat poetry, ending with questioning lyrics like "Why won't everyone get out of my life? Why won't everybody leave me alone?" Downer or not, it's fucking good. Watery Love's not breaking any new ground (that guitar tone is pretty much Ron Asheton's work on "I Wanna Be Your Dog" for nine songs straight), but it sounds good, and it's nice to see punk working its way back into garage rock again. I need a little hardcore to balance out my psychedelia every now and again. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/watery_love/pump-the-bimbo[/embed] Out now from In the Red Records.
More dirge-like than the Spits, less poppy than Devo, and more abrasive than Digital Leather is Stalins of Sound. Their Tank Tracks LP -- out next week on Slovenly -- took a few listens to really grab me. However, despite the slow build up to acceptance, some tracks immediately interested upon first listen. "Monkeys Attack" is insistently metronomic in its rhythm, and the guitar just buzzsaws along. I featured it on the podcast a few weeks back, and the more I listen to it, the more I get what Stalins of Sound are trying to do. Granted, it's pretty indicative of what Tank Tracks sounds like. The earlier tracks follow that pattern, and if you're only half-listening, it's difficult to tell some songs from others. "El Cajon Beatdown" and "Abominations of Fire" work way outside the repetitive beats, and album closer "Rules For Your Mouth" is this strange thing that sounds like someone took The Legend of Zelda's dungeon music and mixed it with industrial punk rock. While not a huge fan of things that are firmly in the chiptune vein, when bands mine video game soundtracks for inspiration and effect, it lends an element of levity and places tongue slightly in cheek, lessening the otherwise oppressive elements of the songs. Stalins of Sound's guitar is just relentless, and these occasional electronic elements shine brightly through the darkness. Stalins of Sound's Tank Tracks is out next week on CD and LP from Slovenly and you can pre-order it now.
Hobocop's Half Man, Half Cop is just the right amount of lo-fi. It's not quite as rudimentary as Apache Dropout, but it's fuzzy and dirty. The fuzz and distortion works with the music, though, rather than obscuring good songwriting. "Stench of Death" especially benefits from some extra dirt on its sludged-out garage guitar. The whole lo-fi aesthetic gives everything a sense of mystery -- is that keyboard or a weird guitar effect? Is that an acoustic bass or a weird guitar effect? The element of mystery makes the whole Hobocop thing entertainingly strange. You'll accept the fact that "Fairweather Scum" is remarkably catchy, despite the fact you've little-to-no idea what's being sung. Just lock onto "yeah yeah"s and "whoo-hoo"s whenever possible, and use those as your guideposts to take you from mumbled guesses to enthusiastic and confident sing-along. The downside is that Half Man, Half Cop would be an excellent record to crank, were it a little more cleanly recorded. Even at reasonable volume, it sounds as if your speakers are blown out. "California Biodome" sounds as if your stereo is dying in a fit of feedback and wa-wa wash, and I fear to think what might happen if I decided to push the volume any more than I already did. I'm all for punk brevity, but another flipside is that some of these songs seem more like sketches or incomplete ideas than actual finished pieces. "Big Deal" is just shouted "BIG! DEAL!" and "You're not a big deal!" -- seeming more like the bridge and chorus for a song that could use a verse or two of actual lyrics. "LIttle Green Bills" is much the same, but with a piano line and ground-out guitar line supplementing the titular (and only) lyrics. If the short, "conceptual" pieces were cut, you'd be left with a fine 7-inch. As it is, Hobocop's Half Man, Half Cop is still a fun listen, if a little incomplete. The album is due out next week from Slovenly, but you can pre-order it right now.
Thee Tsunamis' Delirium and Dark Waters 7-inch on Magnetic South is just so much fun, I can't believe they haven't hit the Terminal Boredom hype machine. The songs aren't scary -- you look at the cover art and song titles, and you immediately assume Cramps-ish psychobilly or Deadbolt-style death surf -- but instead, the trio works in a lo-fi garage vein with a shitload of twang to work their atmospheric magic. There's some swampy surf vibes going on instrumentally -- and they're really good, too. Thee Tsunamis rock a wave of late-night creepiness enhanced by the sneer in the voices of Betsy, Sharlene, and Josie. Opening cut "Haunted House" sounds like the trio's singing from the perspective of the house's denizens, daring you to risk a trip through the front door. The whole thing comes together on the last track of the EP, "Psycho," which features a ripping guitar from Betsy and surprisingly melodic vocals in the fading seconds of the song. You get the feeling that the band members can sing, as opposed to working in shouts and screams, and it's a cool little left turn. All of the songs are worth hearing, though, and the album artwork and green vinyl really tie everything together. The jacket looks like something to a lost '50s b-movie, perhaps featuring Arch Hall, Jr.
You can buy Thee Tsunamis' Delirum and Dark Waters 7-inch from the Magnetic South store. You can also snag their A Goodbad Man is Hard to Find cassette, while you're at it.
The latest from Brooklyn's Oops Baby Records is a full-length LP from Atlanta's Dinos Boys, entitled Last Ones. It's a split release with Atlanta's Die Slaughterhaus Records, and if you're familiar with both labels, then you've already got a pretty good idea of what this 12-inch sounds like. Unsurprisingly, it's upbeat, lo-fi, and jangly-as-fuck garage rock. It managesw to avoid being standard issue by throwing in some great tempo changes midway through the majority of their numbers -- the stop-start moments of "Hoovertown," as well as what might the only micro-breakdown ever, make this recording a lot more interesting to spin over and over again. Upon first listen, I was afraid this was going to be a fun one-time listen, but there's enough here to keep it returning to your ears. It seemed like this was going to be a knock-off of any number of acts (the Spits, Personal and the Pizzas, Carbonas, et al), but Dinos Boys have enough going for them to make this a fun repeat listen. The guitar solo on "Marie Laveau" (a song about the "voodoo queen") is enough to make you want to play that mile-a-minute cut over and over in and of itself. However, the chugging "She's Outdated" ends the album on such a perfect note -- it's kind of like an "epics in minutes" version of Cheap Trick's "Auf Wiedersehen" the way it stomps and builds to a finale. Yes, the highest compliment I can pay a band is to compare them to Cheap Trick. Deal with it. We all have our go-tos.
Dinos Boys' Last Ones came out yesterday via Oops Baby and Die Slaughterhaus, and can be had from the Oops Baby store. Additionally, Dinos Boys are playing a bunch of SXSW dates this week, and you can find all of those right here.
If Panda Kid ever deigns to tour the Midwest, I can't begin to think of how much I'd thank them for the absolute joy they bring into my life with each and every release. Summetry, their latest LP, got a US release a few weeks back courtesy of Chicago's Already Dead, and much like everything this Italian group releases, it's taken a while to figure out what I think about it. I mean, granted, I like it. It's pretty much a given that any Panda Kid release will get some form of thumbs up from me at this point. It's really more of figuring out what tack the group will take on any given release. On Summetry, it's a vibe that reminds me if it were possible for a time-traveling Beatles to have grown up listening to Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. [embed]https://soundcloud.com/already-dead-tapes/panda-kid-party-monster[/embed] The record has that strange, off-kilter vibe that so many of the best moments from the White Album and Sgt. Pepper have, but even more psychedelic and laconic. "Daltonic Eyes" is as if someone managed to take that breakdown from the end of "Helter Skelter" and stretch it into a four-minute song. It's pop, it's skewed, it's so fucking hazy that it's sometimes difficult to determine where the album is going amongst the wash and sheen, especially on cuts like "A Long Long Summer" (which appears in pretty much the same form as it did on Scary Monster Juice). However, those cuts can butt up against something like the title track, and it's a perfect take-off on New Order, ran through this lo-fi process that will blow your mind, and make you reconsider all over again what this band is capable of. Panda Kid's Summetry is available in a limited edition of 30 on white vinyl from Already Dead Tapes and Records, with a hand-screened cover.
The latest from New Coke isn't as deliriously weird as their first single. Can anything be as uncomfortably wonderful as "He Got Stabbed In the Throat"? I humbly submit the answer be, "No - no fucking way." Granted, the Duct Tape Your Mouth EP is still pretty uncomfortable -- it isn't as delightfully weird as its predecessor, but it's still super-uncomfortable. The title track is a strangely catchy tale of home invasion and hostage situation and (like the other two tracks on this single) suitably jittery and edgy. It almost seems like New Coke's material on this EP is thematically linked -- especially when you dig into the lyrics. Duct Tape Your Mouth sounds as if it's the rantings of a man who's found someone fooling around or doing something behind his back, doesn't know how to take it, and ties them up, rants, and starts a standoff. Based on the fact the final song is entitled "I Am Drunk, I Have A Gun, I Want Names," I'm guessing it doesn't end well. Not to spoil anything, but he "shot a man at close range," and considering they were calling his wife at the end of the title track, somebody's going down. You can pre-order the 7-inch from Black Gladiator / Slovenly.