Monday, January 16, 2017

In December we featured Simple Is Good, the excellent EP by Edinburgh's Meursault (link).  The band just released a video for the intense second track, "Gaslight", and we think it is well worth sharing.

Meursault - By Gaslight from Song, by Toad on Vimeo.


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The Proper Ornaments - Foxhole

We first became familiar with singer, songwriter and guitarist James Hoare via Veronica Falls.  Although that band appears to be dormant, Hoare has continued to create music in Ultimate Painting, assisting Peter Astor, and today's subject, The Proper Ornaments.  In The Proper Ornaments Hoare teams up with Max Oscarnold (also known as Max Claps) of Toy and Pink Flames.  After a couple of early, limited distribution releases, they dropped their first LP in 2014, the well received Wooden Head.  A bit over two years later we have the pleasure of addressing the follow-up, Foxhole.

In certain respects, the new album echoes its predecessor.  The songs are mid-tempo, with sunny melodies walking the line between psychedelic pop, Syd Barrett, and The Velvet Underground.  The vocals gently voice moody lyrics, creating an atmosphere that can be dark, but not ominous.  However, Foxhole is not WoodenHead.20.  The guitar sounds lines are simpler and clearer, with less distortion, and the arrangements benefit from the addition of pianos.  And while there was an element of chaos in and behind Wooden Head, Foxhole emanates calm and a certain contentment nestled in the gentle hooks.  And we could all use a bit of calm and contentment these days.

In addition to Hoare and Oscarnold, The Proper Ornaments for Foxhole include Daniel Nellis on bass and Bobby Syme on drums.  The album is out on Friday, January 20, via Slumberland Records and Tough Love Records.








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Friday, January 13, 2017

"Lonely Holiday" by Skytone


Skytone, our favorite Canadian jangle poppers have release another gem of a name-your-price single to get you through the winter weekend.  Happy Friday!



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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Half Japanese - Hear The Lions Roar


Hear The Lions Roar, the new album by Half Japanese, was one of the first 2017 releases to hit my inbox, and it remains one of my favorite.  With the humor, eccentricity and devotion to rhythm that marks a Half Japanese album, but the pop smarts and punk rock swagger to keep it in sweet spot for any intelligent listener, it is accessible and full of delights.  And because of its punk roots, it is music that should be heard rather than dissected on a page (virtual or otherwise).  So we've given you a couple of clips below, and urge you to visit the Bandcamp link.  We'll leave you with our conclusion that perhaps Half Japanese's greatest talent is producing a sound that fits in punk's DIY channel while still impressing the hell out of you with what they have wrought.

For Hear The Lions Roar Half Japanese are John Sluggett (guitar/keys/timbales), Gilles-Vincent Rieder (drums/percussion/keys), Jason Willett (bass/keys), Mick Hobbs (guitar/glockenspiel) and Jad Fair (vocals).  The album is out as of January 13 via Fire Records.







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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Rentiers - Bring Me The Finest World Map Shower Curtain In All The Land


Philadelphia musician (and college professor) Joel Tannenbaum has been with Plow United, Snow Fairies, Skywriters, Ex-Friends and other bands, playing indie pop and punk.  But for the past few years he also has been recording songs under the banner The Rentiers.  His collaborators on the project vary, but he, and often a female co-vocalist, voice the songs.  Jigsaw Records is releasing a 17-song collection this week succinctly titled Bring Me The Finest World Map Shower Curtain In All The Land and including most of the band's recorded output.  The storytelling here is engaging and fun, and all the hooks and crunches are perfectly placed.  In fact, the flow is so good that the listener might miss just how much talent it takes to make it sound so effortless.  The Rentiers rip through driving country-tinged rockers, punk pop, a bit of reggae, and lots of good old crunchy indie rock.  True or not, it sounds like one of those album that was almost as enjoyable to make as it is to hear.

Bring Me The Finest World Map Shower Curtain In All The Land is available in digital and CD formats -- see the Bandcamp link below.







Bandcamp for album

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Lost Tapes - We Thought It Was Okay At The Time (2013-2015)

Lost Tapes is a Catalan duo evincing a formidable talent for earworms.  To date most of their music has been released as 7" singles and digital downloads.  Their debut album Let's Get Lost was released in early 2016, but the enterprising tastemakers at Shelflife Records deemed the band's output of the previous three years too good to not be collected and presented to the public in a single package, and they are absolutely correct.  So here we are with We Thought It Was Okay At The Time (2013-2015), 14 tracks of dream and jangle pop with warm melodies, welcoming vocals and endearing hooks.

Lost Tapes is Pau Roca (formerly of La Habitacion Roja) and RJ Sinclair (formerly of Tokyo Sex Destruction).  I suspect they are aware of those who have jangled and dreamt before them, including The Pastels, various C86 bands and The Close Lobsters.  But their music only hints at the nostalgia, as they carve their own path as one of the better dreampop bands playing today.  I've had this record in rotation for over a month now, and can't bring myself to replace it.  Actually, I can't think why I would want to do so.  This is top stuff, indie pop fans.

We Thought It Was Okay at the Time (2013-2015) is available in vinyl, CD and digital formats from Shelflife Records.








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Shelflife Records

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Milk! Records 2016! - Free Sampler


In addition to being one of our favorite rockers, Courtney Barnett runs Melbourne's Milk! Records with her partner Jen Cloher.  Being very nice people, they put together an eight-track sampler of songs by artists who have released records on their label.  And it is available for 'name your price'.  The only thing we'll add is that you are crazy if you don't grab yourself a copy.  Then check out more by these great musicians.




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"Out Of Time" by Smokescreens

Do you like noisy jangle pop like we like noisy jangle pop?  If so, your new favorite discovery may be Los Angeles four piece Smokescreens.  Originally consisting of Corey Cunningham of Terry Malts and Chris Rosi of Plateaus, both of which have been featured on these pages, the band recorded a self-titled album that will be released on February 2 via Parked In Hell.  The band now also includes Brice Bradley and Jenny Moffett.

Sample the wonderful New Zealand-influenced sound on "Out of Time", which is the first single from the album.



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Monday, January 9, 2017

The Clean - Getaway (reissue)


One of the most enduring of the southern hemisphere indie rocker bands are New Zealand's The Clean.  Perhaps one of the reasons for their longevity is that they are not The Clean 24/7.  Brothers David and Hamish Kilgour have other projects, and Robert Scott has The Bats and his solo work as well.  So the members live their lives and get together from time to time to be The Clean.  The trio hasn't graced us with an album of new material since Mr. Pop in the latter half of the '00s, but Merge Records is stepping in to fill our need for more material.  In this case, the label has taken the band's 2001 album Getaway, which was a CD-only release, and reissued it in vinyl form.

And to call it a reissue really doesn't do it justice.  The package is a two-LP/2-CD release (also available in digital form) with the original album plus live recordings of songs from two rare records (Slush Fund and Syd's Pink Wiring System) which had only been released in New Zealand.  The songs are remastered to great effect, which always draws listeners.  But for me the magic is the breadth of the band's sweet spot.  Of course the collection contains the jangling, scrappy type of songs one would expect from a Dunedin outfit.  But their are delicious folk tinged songs, psychedelic tapestries, satisfying instrumentals, and a few country rock tunes.  And the second disc serves to remind all of us why The Clean is such a popular live band.

So even if you are a fan and, like all of us here at WYMA, already owned Getaway, there are compelling reasons to grab this reissue (check out "Do Your Thing" below for one stellar example); and note that the vinyl comes with a digital download code.  If you don't have Getaway, this is your chance to get a great album with timeless guitar pop at an attractive price.  And if you are keeping score, this is one of the best reissues of 2016.









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Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial

Will Toledo has written an impressive number of songs, especially considering his age.  For several years they were available on the internet, but didn't attract the level of attention a serious young musician desires.  But when the young Virginian moved to Seattle and re-recorded the best of his past songs under the name Car Seat Headrest, the result was a 2015 Matador Records release called Teens of Style (our feature here).  The next year brought Toledo's debut album of new material, Teens of Denial, also on Matador.  It was released in the first half of the year, but distribution was disrupted due to a legal dispute regarding a snippet borrowed from a Cars' song.  But despite the stuttering roll out, the album can be found on a number of year end lists.  And for very good reason.

For this outing Toledo chose to compose a song cycle about Joe, a young man dealing with the life challenges of his late teens and early 20s.  I know you may be thinking "I got through that period, who cares?", but I think that misses the point.  You may not care about Joe or his struggles, but what likely will connect is the classic rock presentation, the smart lyrical constructions, the ambitious arrangements, effective performances, and -- refreshingly -- the very un-rock-god perspective on Joe's travails.  Yes, drug trips can be bad, live can suck, and complaining about life sucking can be its own ironic loop.  Teams of Denial has a certified rock heart, and boasts a very good brain as well.  Think Guided By Voices covering songs by James Mercer and Joe Jackson.  It is a great trip and a record to keep in rotation.

For Teens of Denial, Car Seat Headrest are Will Toledo, Ethan Ives, Andrew Katz, Seth Dalby, Jon Maus, Nick Shadel, and Jim DeJoie.




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Thursday, January 5, 2017

His Clancyness - Isolation Culture

His Clancyness originally was the solo project of Canadian Jonathan Clancy, but it has evolved into a Canadian/Italian band currently residing in Italy.  Their second LP, Isolation Culture, was released in October 2016 and it has been a regular in my rotation for a couple of months.  I've spent more than a little time wondering why it hasn't received greater recognition, although I eventually realized that if I didn't bestir myself to write about it, I was part of the problem.  I hate it when that happens.

Isolation Culture challenges usual classification boundaries in that it is noise pop, dreampop, shoegaze, art rock, and lo-fi blended together in a thick but effervescent wall of melody.  If you question whether that should even work, consider War On Drugs and you have your answer. It is bright and pop-oriented without being slick or abandoning its rock roots.  We liked the first album from His Clancyness, but this effort is a major step forward.  Putting a finger on a favorite track necessitates ignoring a lot of worthies, but if I had to choose one, it would be the bubbling sunshine of "Dreams Building Dreams".  Stream it below, but then go to the Bandcamp page and get lost in one of the lost gems of 2016.

Isolation Culture is out now via Hand Drawn Dracula, Tannen Records and Maple Death Records.







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