As the year winds down, generally speaking, so does the new music. But, I've stockpiled a few choice cuts that, although some have been floating around for a while, I thought were worth sharing. Happy Thanksgiving!
The Jim Jones Revue "High Horse" (Punk Rock Blues Records/[PIAS]) - I'm feeling the rawk today, so let's start with a band that's doing their part to bring it back. The most earth quakin’, booty shakin’, rock’n’roll blooz makin’ bunch anywhere released Burning Your House Down overseas in September, and will see it released in the US early next year. Jones, formerly of scuzzy UK psych rockers Thee Hypnotics, channels Little Richard and out-Jon Spencer’s Spencer himself on this single from the disc.
[STREAM] The Jim Jones Revue - "High Horse" (via [PIAS] Germany)
Weekend "Age Class" (Slumberland) - Perfect for fans of Joy Division, The Jesus & Mary Chain, and labelmates Crystal Stilts, the darkly buzzy, C86-inspired debut Sports is right in my wheelhouse. Looking for singalong choruses? There's not much here, but if you like throbbing, noisy, neo-post-punk (should I really use two hypens?), then this is for you. Download two tracks from TBB's earlier coverage here.
[STREAM] Weekend - "Age Class"
No Joy "You Girls Smoke Cigarettes?" (Mexican Summer) - The lazy description of these two ladies from Montreal would be a noisier, more lo-fi version of Warpaint. And if that does it for you, then OK. Yes, it's shoegazey. Debut Ghost Blonde is soft and languid but also hard and fast, and mixed by The Raveonettes' Sune Rose-Wagner to boot. I kicked myself for blowing off seeing Dungen a few months ago, now made even worse by realizing that No Joy opened. If you haven't heard much about 'em yet, you will: they've snagged the opening slot on the upcoming Best Coast / Wavves tour that ought to be a coast-to-coast sellout. Download the storming "Heedless" for free from Bandcamp. (Austin: @ Emo's January 25)
Giant Sand "Monk's Mountain" (Fire) - Blurry Blue Mountain, the latest entry in Giant Sand's catalogue, comes 25 years after mainstay Howe Gelb's first outing under the name. With a quick scan through this blog, you could conclude that 'organic' isn't something I get excited about. Chances are an acoustic guitar and little else gets me about as excited as cleaning out my gutters. So when something a bit more rootsy and Americana in nature actually does connect with me, I kinda think it's pretty special simply because it's pretty rare. For the uninitiated, Gelb's compiled another disc of (mostly) understated alt-country paired with a few roadhouse blues-based stomps and piano-driven ballads. Ever a grizzled storyteller, his husky voice recalls Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. Released in Britain a month before its US release, the album has received mixed to positive reviews, with the most common refrain being that it's not quite up to the lofty standard set by previous outings. Fans of the better known Calexico, which was actually formed by ex-Giant Sand members, will certainly want to investigate.
Korallreven (feat. Victoria Bergsman) "Honey Mine" (Acéphale) - Readers were first introduced to this Swedish duo in mid-September with a pair of blissful Balearic tunes. At the time, I posted a radio rip of the best-is-yet-to-come. Well it's here, all official like. With ex-Concretes vocalist Victoria Bergsman (Taken By Trees) out front, this should be the track that puts Korallreven on the map. Indeed, an irresistible, sweet-as-honey song. Download a remix by Lissvik here.
[STREAM] Korallreven feat. Victoria Bergsman - "Honey Mine" (via Hypetrak)
Cut Copy "Take Me Over" (Modular) - Here's the second song to surface in advance of the Aussie duo's long awaited follow-up to In Ghost Colours, Zonoscope, which arrives on February 8. European dates have been announced for March 3-23, so it seems an appearance at SXSW is out.
[STREAM] Cut Copy - "Take Me Over"
Alex Chilton, Ray Davies, & The 88 "Till The End of the Day" (Decca) - Let me state emphatically that I'm a huge Kinks fan, and have quietly championed the notion that Ray Davies should be mentioned in any discussion about the greatest songwriters of all-time. I've been disappointed that his solo work over the last few years has been largely ignored by the US record buying public, to say nothing of radio's scant support. To that end, the recent cancellation of a scheduled US tour - for health reasons - was accompanied by whispers of poor ticket sales being the real culprit. It's then even more disappointing to report that a star-studded collaborative tribute disc, See My Friends, is quite simply not up to snuff.
Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, Bon Jovi.
Spoon, Black Francis, Billy Corgan.
Mumford & Sons, Lucinda Williams, Jackson Browne.
Certified stadium fillers, alternative rock staples, reliable AAA headliners. They've all lined up to play in tandem and tribute to rock royalty, along with UK stars Amy McDonald, Paloma Faith, and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody. And it's really underwhelming.
Supposedly a long-standing passion project of Davies himself, it's telling that the liner notes mention more than once how a song was either recorded quickly or that a session was hastily arranged. Sadly, it shows. For example, Metallica provides the requisite crunch on "You Really Got Me" but without putting much of a stamp on the song. Frankly, it sounds like they've got a bus to catch.
Perhaps part of the problem is that each song is truly a collaboration with Davies. In some cases, the starpower of the guests overpowers that of the star. By inserting himself into every track, it renders the guests unable to make the cover their own. They're still working within his template and as a result, it's a lot less interesting than it could have been. It's a reasonable bet that Davies probably saw See My Friends as a vehicle to refocus the spotlight on his body of work. It's just a shame that this probably won't do the trick. You can judge for yourself by streaming the entire disc here.
Of note, though, is that the CD contains what is likely one of Alex Chilton's final recordings. He and Davies became friends during the latter's sojourn to New Orleans (and where he famously got shot) in 2004. Their take on "Till The End of the Day", joined by the L.A. band The 88, is the best thing on the disc. See My Friends is out now overseas, due in the US in March.
[STREAM] Alex Chilton, Ray Davies & The 88 - "Till The End Of Day" (via Decca Records)
Oh Land "Sun Of A Gun" (Epic) - Straight outta Copenhagen, Nanna Øland Fabricius started making music a few years ago, played SXSW in 2009 and relocated to Brooklyn earlier this year. Residing in the same neighborhood as Marina & the Diamonds and Lykke Li, the dreamy pop of "Sun Of A Gun" also features Bjork-inspired tribal beats, similar to those on Li's new "Get Some". The photogenic Dane - a former ballerina who bares no small resemblance to Heidi Klum - has already scored a deal with Sony worldwide. Time will tell if she's a budding star like Florence Welch or a cult favorite like Annie. Watch the pretty cool video here.
Crystal Stilts "Shake The Shackles" (Slumberland) - The newish single from the New Yorkers should, for the moment, set aside any worries of a sophomore slump. Still beautifully dark in tone, this is fantastic 60's-filtered garage pop. It serves as a taster of the band's second disc, due out early next year.
Veronica Falls "Beachy Head" (No Pain In Pop) - A few years ago, I flipped for "All The Rage", a very C86 tune from the Scottish band The Royal We. It was one of those songs I had on repeat for weeks. They band was so short lived, though, they'd split before the full-length was even released. A couple of members went on to form Sexy Kids, who put out a few singles and split before ever getting 'round to an album. These very same members went on to form Veronica Falls, and while the first few tunes I've heard are pretty great, would it be wrong to suggest not getting your hopes up? A recent interview reveals they've all got day jobs but that a full length is in the works. The video's here.
[STREAM] Veronica Falls - "Beachy Head"
Sex Beet "Sugar Water" (n/a) - I've been introduced to a lot of bands over the years by the radio show from Artrocker magazine. I tuned in yesterday for the first time in a long time and within a few minutes, host Paul Artrocker had me scrambling to the web to find out more about Sex Beet. A London-based trio, "Sugar Water" reminds me of a lo-fi Surf City: lots of guitar driven melody without much in the way of production quality. Somehow they slipped into the States for a few shows, including one here in Austin just last week. A return for SXSW is rumored, but not yet announced.
Mogwai "Rano Pano" (Sub Pop) - From the awesomely titled Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, the Scots are back with the first track from their 7th studio record. It's a noisy but not caustic instrumental. In other words, it's Mogwai. A lengthy US tour starts in April. (Austin: @Stubb's May 16)
[DOWNLOAD] Mogwai - "Rano Pano" (via Hypetrak)