Madrid’s The Parrots on their upcoming single for Bachelor Records

Posted in garage rock, interview, streaming audio / video, video, vinyl on June 9th, 2014 by Nick – 2 Comments
parrots 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][/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][/embed] Go check out everything the Parrots have done on their Bandcamp page.

Josh Berwanger, “Oh Bis!” 7-inch

Posted in garage rock, label, pop, reviews, streaming audio / video, vinyl on June 2nd, 2014 by Nick – 4 Comments
cover - berwanger too much rockKids! 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][/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.

Bloodpheasant, “Traum” LP

Posted in hardcore, punk, reviews, vinyl on May 28th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
cover - bloodpheasant traumThe newest Tor Johnson Records release, Bloodpheasant's Traum, showed up a while back, and it took me nearly a week to get to listen to it. I'm usually prone to throwing whatever Paul's sent in the mail straight onto the turntable after I get in the house, but somehow, this languished on my coffee table for the better part of six days. The reason I say all of this is to emphasize how bummed I felt halfway through opening cut, "A Bird and Its Wings." I could've listened to this all last week, but no -- I had to do productive things instead of getting lost in this Rhode Island quartet's twangy, apocalyptic doom. That opening cut is an instrumental, and the sound's like a more aggressive Earth (I'm guessing the fact that Traum's cover resembles that of The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull isn't mere coincidence). The instrumental cuts work better than those with vocals. Something about the recording process' end result of a slightly lo-fi distortion works well with the the guitars' swimmy delay, but the vocals just come across as flat. "Farwell, Viking" just hurts. Now, "Wyola" is the exception that proves the rule. Bloodpheasant's guitars sound absolutely huge on this cut, and there's a storm-bringing, thunderous low end. The interplay between Shannon le Corre's soaring vocals and the gutteral roar of Chris Carrera is also excellent, with the theremin ending up as the creepy frosting on the cake at world's end. Bloodpheasant knows how to really make songs work. There's a definite element of surf, with those phased and washed guitars, and it suits the band's loose, groove-oriented approach to the genre. That almost jammy looseness can sometimes lead to aimlessness, however. It's especially evident on album closer, "Fell Short," which is a shame. When you've a record like Traum that's otherwise so forthright and strong, having it peter out at the end is a bit of a letdown.
Bloodpheasant's Traum is available now from Tor Johnson Records on yellow or black vinyl.

Rev Gusto, “Still There” 7-inch

Posted in covers, local, pop, reviews, vinyl on April 29th, 2014 by Nick – 7 Comments
rev gusto header With the second installment of the Too Much Rock single series, we have the first-ever physical release from Kansas City power-pop group Rev Gusto. As longtime readers will recall, we were super-hyped on their first EP when it was released digitally. It's good to see that the band has managed to both retain their loose, shimmery tones, as well as tightening up their melodies and harmonies. The a-side is an original, "Still There," which balances that shimmering guitar with tight drums and bass, resulting in a song that bridges the gap between slightly psychedelic '60s and early '80s power-pop. The cover of Graham Parker's "Local Girls" on the flip only makes that comparison more accurate. I'd not heard Parker's original in years (it's not like anything along those lines except Marshall Crenshaw's "Someday Someway" ever makes it on the radio anymore), and it was interesting to revisit the song after hearing Rev Gusto's take. They do a lovely job of energizing the slightly-lethargic original, in the process rendering it less morose, and more snotty. The band's goddamn catchy and everyone who sees or hears them just can't help but fall in love with these guys. Here's to hoping some of you pick up the single and do the same. It's a delightfully catchy pair of songs, just in time for summer. [embed][/embed] More info on the single series can be found at Too Much Rock.

Thee Tsunamis, “Delirium and Dark Waters” 7-inch

Posted in garage rock, punk, reviews, streaming audio / video, vinyl on March 27th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
cover - thee tsunamisThee 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.

Panda Kid, “Summetry” LP

Posted in garage rock, punk, reviews, vinyl on January 29th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
cover - panda kid summetryIf 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][/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.

Acid Fast, “Rabid Moon” LP

Posted in indie, punk, reviews, vinyl on January 27th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
cover - acid fast rabid moonJumping up and down in my chair, listening to everything kick in on the first track of Acid Fast's Rabid Moon, it's like that first time I heard Ned's Atomic Dustbin doing "Kill Your Television" on 120 Minutes -- I am happy, I am elated, and I'm wondering how this band figured out how to make such catchy music sound so dark. Acid Fast demonstrate time and time again they know how to make you anticipate, then lose your shit. It's not quite build and release, but more of a sense of knowing when you can drop out certain sonic elements to emphasize the others. Case in point: if a band has a song called "Shred Forever," there damn well better be a guitar solo, and while it's not quite what you'd expect, it's there, and it's boss. It's super-exciting fun party music. This is a band that's made for house shows. I don't mean that Acid Fast should stick to small venues -- no, no, no. I mean that they're a band that's perfectly suited to getting sloppy drunk and stealing the mic from to sing along. The grammar in that sentence couldn't be any worse, but you get what I'm saying: this is a band I want to see up close, loud, and fuzzy. Basically, I would pay good money to be able to drunkenly air guitar the instrumental break in the middle of "Descending." If you like Lemuria or Shang-A-Lang, or pop-punk with '90s college rock influences, or just really amazingly great drumming, you should totally take a listen to Rabid Moon. Acid Fast's Rabid Moon is available from their webstore on black or green vinyl, CD, and cassette.

Adventures / Run Forever, “Split” EP

Posted in indie, punk, reviews, upcoming release, vinyl on January 15th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
cover - adventures run forever splitPairing Adventures with Run Forever is such a ridiculously perfect idea, it's basically one of those "shut up and take my money!" releases. Adventures' dreamy indie pop has a certain angular melodicism to it that hints at part of the band's involvement with Code Orange Kids. It especially comes out in the feedback-drenched ends to their songs. Run Forever, however, works it a little differently. Rather than fading out their songs, they opt for epic intros, leading into harmonies suited perfectly for lifted hands and heartfelt sing-alongs. The bands compliment one another, and they're both on the rise, so why wouldn't the two acts come together? While both acts do what they do well, this split single works because they're both best in small doses. Run Forever's "Lost the Feeling" comes in with punchy guitars, chugs through, and is gone in under two minutes. It rocks an early Alkaline Trio vibe, kind of reminding me "I Lied My Face Off" in terms of lyrical delivery. The rest of the tracks are decent and well-executed, but much like Run Forever's last LP, Settling, this split EP is a nice listen through, but not something I think I'll find myself returning to on any sort of regular basis. The split is available on 7-inch vinyl and digital download from the No Sleep Records store, and the record comes out on January 28. Pressing information is as follows: 20 Test Pressing (Black) 125 Coffee w/ Creamer (2014 Subscription) 300 Blue 300 Transparent Orange 500 Half Red/Half Light Blue You can stream a track from each artists at Alternative Press.

Ex Friends, “Rules For Making Up Words” LP

Posted in punk, reviews, rock 'n' roll, streaming audio / video, upcoming release, vinyl on January 9th, 2014 by Nick – 2 Comments
cover - ex friends rulesWe've talked about asthetics I'm not down with before -- the whole Hot Water Music thing being beyond my comprehension, for example -- and I'm trying to figure out what it is about Ex Friends' full-length, Rules For Making Up Words, that turns me off. Just a few months back, I was excited beyond all belief regarding their Twisted Around 7-inch. Now, listening to this record that they've released on Paper + Plastick, I'm just kind of watching it tick by in iTunes, waiting for the damned thing to be over. For lack of a better thing, I think it's kind of like my Dillinger Four preferences. I love D4 songs with Paddy on vocals, and get kind of ambivalent toward Erik songs, but I'm pretty all right with songs where they both sing. Same thing goes for Ex Friends -- I love Audrey Crash's vocals, but am kind of turned off by Joel Tannenbaum's delivery. So, it goes that tracks like "Fight Like A Girl" or "Archaeologists of the Future," where Tannenbaum's rather harsh, strained voice is balanced by Crash's more melodic tones, are more to my liking than those where Tannenbaum handles vocals solo. It's likely that the balance on the 7-inch was more easily maintained, there only being 5 songs to the LP's 14. That said, I still like the swagger the band has. "Western Civilization" has that revved-up rock 'n' roll aspect that the Clash used to develop so well. Actually, that's why I was intitially turned on by Ex Friends -- they understand that, originally, punk rock was basically Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley songs played double- or triple-time, and when they lock into that idea, Rules For Making Up Words is fun as hell.
Other things to recommend the album include the really fantastic cover, looking like a bunch of ads you'd find in the back of an ancient Marvel comic or something. The whole of Ex Friends' full-length ends up being okay (especially just kind of fading out at the end of "Let's Get Old"), but there are about half a dozen gems to really recommend tracking it down if you liked that last 7-inch. Rules For Making Up Words is out now on CD from Creep Records (theroretically -- I can't find it in their store), and will see vinyl release via Paper + Plastick later this spring.

New Coke, “Duct Tape Your Mouth” 7-inch

Posted in garage rock, punk, reviews, vinyl on January 6th, 2014 by Nick – 3 Comments
cover - new coke duct tapeThe 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.