Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Otherwise Engaged: Thrushes

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

I don't know what it is, y'all, but Thursday night has officially turned into One Of Those Nights. You know the kinda night to which I refer. The kind where every single band you want to see decides to play on the same night, and in this case in different cities. Not only are there good shows to be had in Richmond (i.e. my show with Mittenfields & The Snowy Owls) and DC (i.e. Hammer No More The Fingers, among others), but just up 95 in Charm City there's yet another show I'd give anything to be able to split atoms and go see. STPP Fest Fuzzy Logic Showcase alums Thrushes are taking on their hometown stage at the Ottobar, along with DC folks Office of Future Plans and Fuzzy favorites Caverns.

At this point I would just like to say, bands, that you must stop. I throw myself on your mercy. You're killing me. At least coordinate, so I don't have to miss the face-melting magical sparkling racket that happens when Thrushes plays. It's just not fair. So, Baltimoreans, please go to this show so I can live vicariously through your ears.

Xmas Gift Guide 2011: Stone Roses Stuff!

By now I'm sure you've all heard that the original members of legendary Mancunian Jackson Pollack worshipping Stone Roses are rejoining forces for an indeterminate amount of time. I'm still hoping this time will include some US dates, which, if so, would be the ultimate Xmas present.

In the meantime, yours truly (and probably just about anyone else who relishes the Roses) would settle for an official Stone Roses tee. I'm partial to the red "I Wanna Be Adored" shirt pictured here myself, seeing as that's one of my favorite Stone Roses songs. But as you'll see, there's quite a variety for you to choose from. Heck, why buy just one? I'm also eyeballing one of those "Waterfall" tees...

Well done, Roses, for not only getting back together but proffering such splendid merch. A comeback is even better when it's done with no shortage of style. So order to your heart's content, friends, and the Stone Roses fan in your life will most assuredly wear whatever you buy for them with pride.

The Good Ship Rediscovery: JJ72 – JJ72

We all forget about the older stuff from time to time, in our quest to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest. But one should always respect their elders. So don’t forget about them, y’hear?

It's funny, listening to music that I used to love, because a lot of said music illustrates that my tastes haven't changed all that much. In the 11 years that have passed since I first got my hands on JJ72's self-titled LP, my appreciation for a well-crafted, loud song has, if anything, grown. The band was only around for two albums, but they can certainly be proud of JJ72. It still sounds wonderful to my ears, and hopefully to yours as well.

In 2000, JJ72 was getting lots of buzz in the UK, and deservedly so. The trio of very young, very hot Irish upstarts made such a name for themselves while I was ensconced in the residence halls of Glasgow University that they opened for The Dandy Warhols at The Garage, which I must say was quite a show. JJ72's music is full of rather dramatic bits and pieces, at times making me think of them as a baby Muse, though they never get quite as rough as the lads of Muse are wont to do. I've always felt a delicacy to JJ72, it's as though just under the surface they're afraid of breaking something, or being broken themselves. Such moments really come to the fore in songs like "Willow," a song that glides and sways like the branches after which it takes its name. Singer/guitarist Mark Greaney offers up quite a vocal performance on the record, his voice mercurial in its ability to sound both little boy lost and devil in disguise, occasionally in the same song.

Opening track "October Swimmer" was big for the band, and is big as a song as well. Don't let that gentle bit of acoustic strumming and Greaney's shy cooing fool you. It won't take long before the pedals get stepped on and things get cranked up and Greaney does his best Matt Bellamy impression (testing his aggressive falsetto range, that is). "Oxygen" was another song that really got folks excited about JJ72, powerful and grasping and bursting with an unbridled need to be heard. It's a song that, with those added strings, shows off the band's need to get a little dramatic. "Long Way South" was, and is still, my favorite on the record. Its perky drum machine feel and bounding energy make it one hell of a catchy little tune.

Even now, this record sounds like a breath of fresh air to me. It's the sound of youthful exuberance recorded, and is one of those records that represents a rather special time in the life of yours truly. Definitely recommended if you've never given JJ72 a go.

m4a: Long Way South (JJ72 from JJ72)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Get Yer Pedals Out #9: Starring Allen Bergendahl (The Snowy Owls)

I couldn't quite tell you why, but for the longest time I've been somewhat moderately obsessed with pedals. Since I'm no guitarist I don't really have a valid reason for this, other than the fact that they both make pretty noises and are rather nice to look at. Much, really, like the folks who use them. I've decided to turn my inexplicable pedal fancy into Fuzzy Logic fodder, and I do hope you'll enjoy my foray into the ins and outs of pedal worship.

Bassists, I'm sorry. I've been neglecting you. And it's silly, because I love you all so very much, and you can make just as much noise as those guitarists. So let me begin to make amends by presenting to you the pedal musings of one heck of a bassist, Mister Allen Bergendahl of The Snowy Owls. Richmonders can check out Allen doing his thing with his band of Owls along with DC noisemakers Mittenfields this very Thursday at The Republic. But for now, check out what floats Allen's boat, including but not limited to Strymon Timeline.

Fuzzy Logic: Which pedal is your very favorite and why?
Allen Bergendahl: Big Muff for sure. It is super gnarly sounding and I pretty much leave it on all the time. Although stock Big Muffs have a pretty serious issue for bass which is they suck the low end out, big time. I found a fellow who was making a classic Big Muff circuit (civil war circuit, for the Big Muff fans) with a few key component changes to allow the low end through. Plus there are several other handy controls to tailor the gain and break up of the signal. BIG MUFF!

FL: Favorite chord?
AB: No chords, I only solo. Squiddly-wah!

FL: Who's your guitarist icon?
AB: Dave Fridmann. Bassist and Engineer, like myself. Although significantly more badass.

FL: With all the pedals out there, how do you decide which ones to procure?
AB: Pedals are relatively cheap, so sometimes you can just go for it. I also have the good fortune of being friends with Matt and get to try out all his pedals. I have a few other pedal junkie friends and so I've heard a bunch of em!

FL: What's your dream pedal?
AB: Recently, a friend got this crazy delay pedal. A Strymon Timeline. HOLY SHIT! It makes everything sound like it's from outer space! From thecoolestshitiveeverheard galaxy! I feel kind of like a shill saying that, but it's crazy super cool! Maybe they will send me one if I say nice things?

[photo by Matt Klimas]

First Timers: Mittenfields & Richmond

You know how it goes, there's a first time for everything. Some of my particular firsts involve bands: The first time a band plays a certain venue is a good one, but the first time a band plays a city is even more special. Such is the case for local District gents Mittenfields when they make their Richmond debut this very Thursday at The Republic.

I had a think about it, gave the situation a good mulling over, and came up with a shortlist of spots in Richmond where I think the pummeling roar of the Mittenfields shoegazing Pavement-ish noise would be well-served. Bear in mind, this is a wishlist more than anything. A girl can dream, after all.

* St. John's Episcopal Church (Church Hill) - What better venue that the intimate, historic place of worship that witnessed Patrick Henry's words for the ages about liberty and death? The acoustics are great, the church is on the small side, and the historical wow factor is tough to beat.

* Maymont Park - A wide open space large enough, perhaps, to accommodate the cavernous noise Mittenfields makes. A warm summer night out there in the grass would make for quite a moment.

* Old City Hall (Downtown) - I've got such a soft spot for this grand old dame, to go along with my soft spot for the dizzy drone of Mittenfields. The lobby, with that ornate, vibrantly-colored gingerbread trim would make for one heck of a visual juxtaposition with the jarring but lovely strains of songs like "Cascades."

* The Byrd Theatre (Carytown) - Who doesn't love The Byrd?! The movie palace not only shows cheap recent releases (and fun vintage flicks from time to time), but also houses a resident ghost. An almost formal setting would be a great backdrop for Mittenfields.

* The Diamond - Home to Richmond's latest attempt at a sort-of professional sports team (go Flying Squirrels!), the outfield of The Diamond would be a great place for Mittenfields to have a Beatles moment. Only, they would probably drown out any girlish shrieks with their endless waves of sheer volume.

In the meantime, Richmond loves, be sure to come check out some of DC's finest at The Republic. We're gonna have us a real good time.

mp3: Swim In A Tight Parallel (Mittenfields from The Fresh Sum EP)

100 Drummers #5: Starring Brandon Martin (The Snowy Owls)

Long have I had a thing for drummers. Something about the way they sit, mysterious and enigmatic, behind their varying configurations of drums and cymbals, keeping time in a myriad of drummerly ways. Oftentimes, too, it seems that drummers are the forgotten member of the band, garnering less press than perhaps their bandmates do. But those intrepid keepers of the beat need love, too. In this series I want to fix this egregious, yet probably accidental, oversight, and bring to your attention some of my favorite keepers of the beat. And so, inspired by a line in the Dylan classic “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” I present to you, friends, 100 Drummers.

Oh hey friends! Did you hear about this Fuzzily-sponsored show goin' on down in Richmond on Thursday? If you're within driving distance (let alone walking or biking distance), you should be there without a doubt. The Snowy Owls are representing Richmond in this DC/RVA double threat, and a great deal of that Snowy Owls sound can be credited to Mister Brandon Martin, better known as He Who Beats the Heck Out Of His Drums. Well, ok, perhaps not on the gentle-ish numbers, but when The Snowy Owls are in the midst of a full-tilt, fuzz-filled, careening sonic crash, there is some aggression being taken out on his skins. And it's splendid I say. Simply splendid. Below, Brandon talks timpani, Dave Grohl, and necessity being the mother of drumstick invention.

Fuzzy Logic: How old were you when you first picked up the drumsticks?
Brandon Martin: Drums were always my favorite part of a song to listen to. I remember, as a little kid, I'd play the radio in my room and I'd have a pair of chopsticks and I would set my pillows up as drums, and I'd play along to songs on the radio that I liked. I was probably 9 or 10. As for actually playing drums, that took a bit of time. I joined my first band when I was 13, but back then I played guitar and bass. I always watched the drummer though, and when there was a break in practice I'd jump behind the kit and try and replicate what I had seen him do. It was a perhaps tedious way to learn how to play, but it worked I suppose.

FL: Which drum is the best drum and why?
BM: I'm going to have to go with the kick drum. The kick drum is the thundering backbone of pretty much any song that utilizes a drum set. If we're talking non-standard drums, I might have to go and say the timpani drum is a personal favorite. They are so dramatic, it is insane.

FL: Who's your favorite drummer of all time?
BM: My favorite drummer of all time would have to be Mr. Dave Grohl. Probably not the most original answer to this question, but it is what it is. Listening to Dave Grohl play drums made me want to be a drummer, plain and simple. Matt Barrick os the Walkmen is another favorite.

FL: Singing drummers: On the cool side like Levon Helm or on the questionable side like Phil Collins?
BM: I find it a bit distracting when drummers sing, personally, just because I know that I can't do that, so I watch very intently trying to see if there is some trick to it. Haven't been able to find the trick yet though.

FL: Say you break a stick during a show and you have no spares. What do you do?
BM: Break the remaining stick in two and continue.

mp3: Actor Out of Work (St. Vincent Cover) (The Snowy Owls from Yr Eyes)

[photo by Matt Klimas]

Otherwise Engaged: Hammer No More The Fingers

It is an unfortunate reality for the serious concertgoer that on occasion, there will be more than one show on any given night that you really, really, REALLY wanna go to. Since the vast majority of us don't own a time machine, nor have the ability to either clone ourselves or split ourselves in half (or thirds or quarters, depending on the night in question), this tends to present a problem. Difficult decisions are made based on a multitude of variables (perhaps some of you even make lists of pros and cons), and ultimately, a show is chosen. But those other shows are still gonna be killer, and I'd like to give a little face time to the shows that, while I can't go myself, are highly recommended all the same.

Now all y'all DC friends, I certainly don't expect ALL of you to be driving down en masse to the fabulousness at Republic Thursday evening (i.e. Mittenfields & The Snowy Owls). So for those of you that aren't making the drive down to RVA, there's actually quite a bit for you to be getting up to. One of the most highly-recommended such outing is seeing my favorite Carolinian 90s college rock revivalists and all around awesome dudes Hammer No More The Fingers. I've been managed to miss them the past few times they've been in town, which I chalk up to cruel fate. HNMTF sandwiches The Sol Bandits and Make Love And War over at DC9 Thursday, so do plan accordingly.

mp3: It's About Caring (Hammer No More The Fingers from Black Shark)

Get Yer Pedals Out #8: Starring Matt Klimas (The Snowy Owls)

I couldn't quite tell you why, but for the longest time I've been somewhat moderately obsessed with pedals. Since I'm no guitarist I don't really have a valid reason for this, other than the fact that they both make pretty noises and are rather nice to look at. Much, really, like the folks who use them. I've decided to turn my inexplicable pedal fancy into Fuzzy Logic fodder, and I do hope you'll enjoy my foray into the ins and outs of pedal worship.

I've probably mentioned it once or twice, but I've got the extreme good fortune to be sponsoring two of my most favorite bands/bands of people in a show they're putting on this very Thursday in lovely Richmond, Virginia. When
Mittenfields and The Snowy Owls get together, friends, wonderful things will happen. Guaranteed. Mister Matt Klimas, purveyor of pedally and vocal wonder for those delightful Richmondians Snowy Owls has been known to make a loud noise now and again on that guitar of his. Read on to see what floats his boat when it comes to the wonderful world of pedals. And as for Matt's particular sound ambition (please refer to the last q+a), I heartily approve.

Fuzzy Logic: Which pedal is your very favorite and why?
Matt Klimas: I don’t think my ProCo Vintage Rat has ever left my pedal board since I bought it in the late 90s. Still my favorite distortion pedal ever, it’s been my workhorse for heavier tones and some gorgeous feedback. I like keeping it pretty cranked so it becomes something fun to unleash – either riding it like a wave or wrestling it back into the bottle. It plays nice with my Red Llama overdrive. <3

FL: Favorite chord?
MK: I really like chords that have a lower fifth as a root (and this is really the extent of my music theory). Especially using just the three lowest strings. So the C chord would be G-C-E. Nothing flashy, but it gives familiar chords a new harmonic quality that I find very pleasing.

FL: Who’s your guitarist icon?
MK: Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo. He does it all, and better than just about everyone else. There’s an emotive quality to his playing that puts him way above even the most technically proficient guitarist. It pretty much destroys me every listen.

FL: With all the pedals out there, how do you decide which ones to procure?
MK: While seeing what other artists are using definitely piques my interest, knowledgeable friend recommendations carry the most weight in the end.

FL: What’s your dream pedal?
MK: My friend and pedal-smith, George, is working on a dual channel Red Llama clone with some additional tone and voltage-sag controls. Hopefully it will get me closer to the “speaker-is-going-to-explode-but-in-a-very-nice-way” sound I’ve been chasing recently.

mp3: Yr Eyes (The Snowy Owls from Yr Eyes)

[photo by Matt Klimas]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Meet Canary Oh Canary

Other than my wonderful friends (and, well, the wonderful architecture and wonderful food), the thing I miss most about living down in Richmond has to be the music scene. For being a relatively small city, the seven hills of Richmond are most certainly alive with all sorts of sounds. If you've been a reader for a while, you'll already know the name I'm about to share with you. I've had the pleasure of hosting their first two DC shows of ever, though I suspect they won't be the last.

Canary Oh Canary, though newish on the scene, are already making some serious noise down there in Richmond. Their beautifully brutal shoegaze gazing longingly yet truculently into the eyes of post-punk is a sound you need to hear. At times brutish and harsh, the songs on the band's EP Last Night in Sunway Knolls command attention. There is a darkness to these songs, a prowling forbidding wrapping every which way around songs like the epic, shape-shifting "Embrace" and the title track, shadows even lurking behind the more theatrical "Face In A Magazine."

Having seen this band twice now and having heard their EP many times, I can hereby proclaim Canary Oh Canary to be the real McCoy. So go ahead, friends, pull up a spot right here next to me on this here bandwagon. You'll be glad you did.


Free For All: Generationals

Times are tough out there, and for many of us buying music has become quite an indulgence (albeit a necessary one). Happily, there are some lovely musician folk out there that have offered up some fruits of their labors to the masses, free of charge. Free For All celebrates these wonderful people, and you, dear reader types.

It's hardly a secret that I'm kinda sorta a fan of those lively New Orleansians Generationals. But really, can y'all blame me? Those gracious bayou boys offered up a free EP's worth (so very adorably entitled Medium Rarities) of goodies not long ago, and just in case you didn't get your mitts on the songage back then, allow me to remind you to do so now. Medium Rarities offers up four tracks full of the Generationals tried and true summertime neon jangling. High marks go to the Richard Swift remix of "When They Fight, They Fight," a treatment that makes the song sound straight out of a silly cult 80s movie, as well as the dynamic "Green Leaf Black Heart," full of that shimmying stutterstep the band does so very well. All four songs are, naturally, well worth your while.

mp3: Green Leaf Black Heart (Generationals from Medium Rarities)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Singles Club: Airship

Ah, Manchester. Who knows what it is about that hulking, Victorian-heavy city that has inspired, and continues to inspire, some of the most important music to come out of Great Britain?

To be fair, I'm not sure if the up-and-coming Manc Airship is there yet, but this little song of theirs has certainly given me pause for thought. "Kids" has all the hallmarks of becoming a hit, full of an effortless air of sonic pomp and circumstance, along with that effortless English knack for pulling a full-scale anthem sound out of thin air.

The song has that tingly feel to it, rosy-cheeked and giddy and full of excitement. It's a song that shows off the sonic flourishes and dramatics of Editors, but with a lively, jubilant feel. Not a trace of melancholy here. The song is over far too soon, which only means that it bears repeating. Often. Frequently. You get the idea.

mp3: Kids (Thinnen Remix) (Airship - more here)

The Good Ship Rediscovery: Creeper Lagoon – Take Back The Universe And Give Me Yesterday

I can still remember it, friends, as though it were the day before yesterday. I would be sitting in the living room of my wonderful apartment in Tuscaloosa, mooning away over my gorgeous neighbor, and watching MTV2 (you know this is a while ago, because back then they used to play videos). On one such day, I heard a song/saw a video that did all manner of things to me. That song was "Wrecking Ball," the band was Creeper Lagoon, and the end result was me falling in love with the band's second LP, Take Back The Universe And Give Me Yesterday.

College was great at slowly but surely breaking me out of my Britfixation (well, true, I'm still a bit fixated, but you should have seen my record collection in the olden days), and Creeper Lagoon was a part of that awakening. TBTUAGMY had, and still has, a breathless feel to it, an air of excitement and newness that I loved instantly. "Wrecking Ball," the song that hooked me, is full of that sugary rush, replete with lovely, big riffs and cajoling vocals with just a touch of roughness to them. A younger, more impressionable me was in heavy smit. But there was more than just that video-friendly song, and though I often used to blast that song on repeat many a time, I learned to enjoy and revel in the record as a whole.

For example, immediately following "Wrecking Ball" lives a song called "Sunfair," a magic carpet ride of a song filled with golden promise and more of those enchanting vocals. Polished, yes, but I never held that against the record. I love the acoustic interlude "She Loves Me Not," a breath of the low key amongst all those big, dazzling moments. The expansive "Up All Night" has long been one of my most favorite songs on the album, the guitars filling dozens of speakers and the poppy undertones doing pleasant battle with the pretty rockness. "I was elastic/And I was stretchin' everybody's dreams" might not win the Ivor Novello award, but taken in context it sounds awesome.

There's an almost down-home feel to "Under The Tracks," with the lyrics almost storytelling in content and close to wistful. "Dead Man Saloon" is another one that's near the top of my list, with the guitars referencing "Jesse's Girl" in the intro and the careening pace of the song. Right on its heels comes "Hey Sister," the swagger palpable in a subtle, indie boy sort of way. Like the rest of the record, there's almost something playful to the song, which takes the edge off all that professional studio sound stuff. The album closes with "Here We Are," a song that reminds me just a shade of The Broken West, California sunshine with a heavy dose of wistfulness.

This record was a major part of my late college/early aimless post-graduate life, and the songs are ingrained in my being, carrying over from those more innocent times. Perhaps it won't stand the test of time, but I will forever cherish Creeper Lagoon for the making of this record. I really do hope you'll enjoy it.

m4a: Up All Night (Creeper Lagoon from Take Back The Universe And Give Me Yesterday)

Xmas Gift Guide 2011: Goner Records Gift Certificates

Less than a month to go, y'all! Are you getting ready for the fat man in the red suit to come stuff some stockings? Speaking of stockings, let's talk logistics. Stocking space, depending of course on the size of your stocking, can be pretty limited. This means that you've got to work hard on bringing a lot of awesome to something relatively small. If you've been stumped, get yourself ready, because I've just gone and solved your stocking stuffing problem for you.

You're probably wondering exactly how I managed to do that. I'll tell you, friend. The answer is so very simple, yet so very awesome. It's a gift sure to make everyone on your list happy as a little dang clam. The answer is a gift certificate from Goner Records, straight outta Memphis. Goner Records rules on two counts, which makes a gift certificate from them even better. First, they're a fierce little record store in Memphis. The other half of Goner is a label. Meaning, with these gift certificates, the recipient will be able to shop not only from the selection at the retail side of Goner, but can buy some of their bitchin' label artists' work as well. Win-win, if you ask me.

Gift certificates come in $10, $25, $50, and $100 denominations. Which means, depending on how much you're feeling like shelling out, that particular giftee can have a real good time come Xmas morning. Your favorite blogger also loves Goner. Just throwing that out there...

Album Review: Washed Out - Within And Without

When I was in high school, I was a theatre kid (and a cheerleader, but that's another story for another time). One of the plays we read that I loved above all others was by the incomparable Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest." There was something about Wilde's subtle digs at high society and purposefully mistaken identities that spoke to me.

So too does Washed Out speak to me (though, of course, minus the social barbs and meddlesome characters). And if you're wondering where I'm going with this, let's just say I've decided to reword the title to read The Importance of Being Ernest. As in, Ernest Greene, the one-man show that is the incomparable Washed Out. (OW? WO? Coincidence? I think not.)

I fell in love, like a great many of people, with the Life Of Leisure EP that took the indie world by storm. After all, "Feel It All Around" even serves as the theme music for the so very hot "Portlandia," which is quite possibly a show even Oscar Wilde might love, what with all that adorable satirizing of the denizens of Portland. Digressions aside, it's safe to say that I love Ernest's handiwork on his first LP Within And Without. Love love love. And love some more. This record takes the embers that started on Life Of Leisure and turns into into a forest fire, lighting up the night for miles and miles.

The same beautiful chill exists on Within And Without, but the sounds are, if possible, even more beautiful than the preceding EP. "Echoes" bounces along on blasts of icy air, touched with that haunting ache that Greene does so very well. Was Ernest referencing Nietzsche with "Amor Fati?" The song certainly has an air of being a "yes-sayer" and being "one of the ones who make things beautiful," for the song, and the album as a whole, are indeed quite beautiful.

"Far Away" is one of my favorites, never ceasing to cause my breath to catch in my throat with expectancy and regret, as seems to be the vibe of the song. In its subtle way, it's quite a powerful song. So too is "You and I," another of the Greene masterworks that makes me melt over and over again. Whether or not it's entirely intentional, the wistfulness that permeates these songs to me adds so very much to the appeal. Overall, this is one of the most atmospheric, lovely records I've heard in quite a while. Y'all know me, too, with a cover that like (the couple caught en flagrante delecto, to quoth Clue-era Tim Curry) I can't avoid the obvious and say that this record could certainly inspire many such a moment.

I suspect it won't be long before there's even more Washed Out on the airwaves, bringing the good word of Ernest Greene to the masses. And, as with the work of Oscar Wilde, the world shall then be a better place.

mp3: Amor Fati (Washed Out from Within And Without)

Free For All: Bandshell

Times are tough out there, and for many of us buying music has become quite an indulgence (albeit a necessary one). Happily, there are some lovely musician folk out there that have offered up some fruits of their labors to the masses, free of charge. Free For All celebrates these wonderful people, and you, dear reader types.

A little while back I received an email from teaandcakerecords, within which was a link to listen to a new release of theirs by a mysterious entity called Bandshell. I was intrigued, and as soon as I saw the record cover, a ghoulish gentleman in Western garb, I was hooked. And that was before I even began to listen to the music, friends.

Now, I proffer to you that when it comes to the various types of electronic music, I am woefully underinformed, mostly because it's usually not, to stick with the theme, my cup of tea. I don't know my dubstep from my trance from my leftfield...you get the idea. But even with that being said, there was something about Bandshell that drew me in, simple as that. There's a hypnotic, though rather sinister tilt to these songs, and somewhere amidst the chilly, almost unfriendly rhythms a force that pulls you in, claws at you with ghostly fingers and whispers dark seductions in your disoriented ear.

Curious? You certainly should be. Go here now to experience Bandshell for yourself.

mp3: Memories Of Melting Ice (Bandshell from the Bandshell EP)

Live Review: AM & Shawn Lee @ Black Cat, 9/21/2011

I must admit, friends, that when the night of the AM & Shawn Lee show rolled around, for one reason or another I just wasn't in the mood to venture out, let alone pay attention to anything. But, seeing as I'm a sucker for Mr. AM, I extricated myself from the friendly folds of my blanket and my couch and went on my way, still moping just a touch as I walked to the Black Cat. And as The Zombies played as the stage was being set, I realized I was indeed meant to be at the show. It didn't chase the clouds totally away, but darned if those two gentlemen didn't work some musical healing on my soul, even if only for a few songs.

My first observation, of course, was that AM's stache had gotten even bigger, even more inhabited by the spirit of a suave 70s someone. And in person, Shawn Lee's cascade of silvery waterfall hair is even more impressive than you might imagine. It shines, friends. As, you would probably expect, does the combined musical forces of these two. The warm, vintage sounds that AM favors blend perfectly with the beats of Mr. Lee, creating this lovely, golden glow with a groove...that you can dance to. AM stole my heart when, before the second song of the set, he asked for more reverb. They sounded pretty fine together, did those two, as their sounds collided.

I was pleased to see how pleased Lee looked while their set was going, and I was also pleased with just how sassypants AM was during certain songs. Before "Dark Into Light," AM stated to us that "you guys look like you're ready to sing along with us," and as it happened, AM was right. The song itself has quite a party vibe, with lots of bass, a kicky little groove, and AM's dusty breed of baby blue-eyed soul. It was at that point that I realized that I loved what I was hearing.

Rarely have I been so happy about leaving the house in the midst of a mean case of the blues. Take it from me, friends, when AM & Shawn Lee roll into town, be sure you get out there and see them. You shan't regret it.

mp3: Dark Into Light (AM & Shawn Lee from Celestial Electric)

Crossing The Pond: Sea Pinks

Don't ask me how, but in all my time living in the UK I never made the short trip over to the Emerald Isle. I realize now how utterly ridiculous that little fact actually is. As a small means of penance, I'm going to give y'all the goods on a rather delightful band from Belfast that I heartily and emphatically and vehemently recommend to you and your ears. The band is called Sea Pinks, and I would strongly advise you not to forget that name.

If you've already heard of Sea Pinks, it could be because one of them plays in Girls Names. But I encourage you to forget that little tidbit, because Sea Pinks is by no means a simple side project. I got my hands on their 2012 record Youth Is Wasted, and was immediately entranced by the simple, infectious songs. The trio follows in the lo-fi footsteps of the members of the Glasgow School (think Orange Juice and Josef K, but with a much sunnier disposition - much like their American counterparts Beach Fossils). They've latched onto the early 60s obsession that many of the best 80s bands tended to do, incorporating the vintage jangle with the fuzz that I hold so dear. To quoth the band, they're inspired by "sea glass, beached grass, and ghost guitars," and I have to say that's a pretty fine way to describe themselves.

mp3: Ballad Of The Band (Sea Pinks from Youth Is Wasted)

LP Lust: The Borrowed Edition

Good morrow, sweet friends. I trust everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving full of gluttony and sloth? I know I did. But the turkey coma has subsided and it's now back to the land of the living (but proudly, not the land of the Black Friday shoppers - I abstained, and hope you did too). Anyway, it's time to talk turkey about some vinyl, don't you think?

Some of you know that I recently started a new job. In addition to Not Sucking, this job has provided me with some musically-inclined colleagues with whom to geek out with on occasion. One such kind soul lent me a few of his LPs, to get a hint of what he digs in order to provide him with some new bands that might be up his alley. I adore looking at the vinyl of others, so naturally this delighted me. Below are the titles I've been listening to at a leisurely pace. I love some of them (The Pentagle, the Heavy Sounds record, and David Bromberg), and it's an added bonus whenever I can find new music to love on.

* The David Grisman Quartet - The David Grisman Quartet

* The Souther Hillman Furay Band - The Souther Hillman Furay Band

* Various - Heavy Sounds

* McGuinn, Clark & Hillman - McGuinn, Clark & Hillman

* The Souther Hillman Furay Band - Trouble In Paradise

* Livington Taylor - LIV

* David Bromberg - Demon In Disguise

* Seastones - Seastones

* The Pentagle - Sweet Child

* Chris Hillman - Clear Sailin'

* The Section - Fork It Over

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

It's that wonderful time of year once again, when we Americans stuff our faces with turkey and pumpkin pie, put on our sweats, and sit in front of the TV for hours at a time watching various levels of football. Yes, I speak of that beautiful, beautiful Thanksgiving time.

For four days, I'll be doing not much other than ingesting turkey, lapsing into turkey-related food comas, and cheering on my dear Crimson Tide against the Barn (pardon me, Auburn) in the Iron Bowl. Oh, and being thankful for things. This means that you'll have to miss me for a couple days, my loves, but I'll be back this weekend once the turkey chemicals wear off.

Here's a little mix to get you in the thankful Thanksgiving spirit, comprised, naturally, of bands from a land where Thanksgiving isn't celebrated (ah, United Kingdom).

m4a: Thanks For The Pepperoni (George Harrison)

m4a: Thank Heaven For Little Girls (Peter Sellers)

m4a: Thank You (Falletingme Be Mice Elf Again) (Magazine)

m4a: Wham Bam Thank You Mam (The Small Faces)

m4a: Thank You (For Living) (Clinic)

mp3: Thank You For Being You (The Pastels)

m4a: Thank You (The Charlatans)

Newsflash!: Fuzzy Roadtrip!

It's about time to take the great sponsorship train down the road apiece, I do believe. Time to get out of town and see some great music in a different landscape. Richmond sounds about right. And there's no better way to get the further afield shows started than with one of my favorite DC bands (Mittenfields) and one of my favorite Richmond bands (The Snowy Owls). And so, next Thursday (12/1), that's what we're gonna do.

It brings me immense happiness to have these two bands playing in the same space on the same night on the same bill. Joy! There will be noise. There will be fuzz. There will be effects pedals galore. There will, if you're one of the first 25 folks to arrive, be tiny pumpkin pies. There will be good times and then some. And all of those, Richmond friends, can be yours, for the low low low price of zero dollars.

What?!

Yes, RVA friends. This killer twosome is giving you musical lovin' for absolutely no money. So come to the show at The Republic. Hang out with us. Get your food and drink on. And buy some of their wares. And ring in the weekend in the best possible way. The show starts at 10, don't you dare be late!

mp3: Cascades (Mittenfields from The Fresh Sum EP)

mp3: Yr Eyes (The Snowy Owls from Yr Eyes)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Xmas Gift Guide 2011: Light In The Attic 2012 Vinyl Subscription

I don't know what gives. I keep asking for this one, year after year, and nobody gets it for me. So I figured, what the hell, I'm persistent, I'll bring it up again. And now here I am, bringing it up. Again.

This, my little elves, is the Light In The Attic 2012 Subscription, a gift that would seriously brighten any music lover's morning, noon, and night. For $150 (US residents, you international types, or non-vinyl folks, have different rates), you get a whole mess of goodness. I'll pull from the subscription page so you can get the full run-down of what's included.

YOUR 2012 SUBSCRIPTION PACKAGE INCLUDES:

* The first 8 CDs, 8 LPs, or 5 Digital* releases from Light In The Attic in 2012, excluding box sets
* 15% off ALL online orders for the entire year, excluding subscriptions
* First dibs on various rarities and exclusives throughout the year
* Our first Light In The Attic Family T-Shirt. Yes, we’ve been slow to get off our asses and make a damn shirt. We are fortunate to have talented Seattle illustrator Drew Christie do the honors. The shirt is free as part of your subscription.
* And to make it feel official: a fancy 2012 Membership Card
* Free shipping within the USA**

* Due to licensing restrictions, unfortunately not everything will be available digitally.
** Please email for international shipping rates: subscriptions@lightintheattic.net

All of the above sounds pretty dang fine to me, I don't know about y'all. And so it is that once again, the LITA subscription has made its way onto my wish list. If anyone was wondering. Wink wink nudge nudge.

Free For All: Like Whatevers/Herd Murmurs

Times are tough out there, and for many of us buying music has become quite an indulgence (albeit a necessary one). Happily, there are some lovely musician folk out there that have offered up some fruits of their labors to the masses, free of charge. Free For All celebrates these wonderful people, and you, dear reader types.

As you know, I rather enjoy those wiley folks of the Fredericksburg collective almost formerly known as Like Whatevers, now and forever to be known as Herd Murmurs. Not only did they open my first residency evening earlier this year, but they also were a part of the Fuzzy Logic showcase at the Fall installment of the STPP festival. The delightfully charming swampy-folksy-backwoodys-rocky-jazzy-experimental group recently recorded some tunes in this neck of the woods, and they've put the fruits of that recording session into the public internetwaves for all to enjoy. They've got a little something and then some for everyone, this band, so most definitely check out this here EP.

Please note: As of this weekend, the Like Whatevers bandcamp will cease to exist! So make sure to grab that EP while you can. However, Herd Murmurs have MORE free goodness for you over at the current bandcamp, so head on that way for more of the same goodness.

mp3: Friend Of A Friend (Like Whatevers from the Sin Tents Half One EP)

The Good Ship Rediscovery: The Nectarine No. 9 – The Nectarine No. 9

Scotland. The Velvet Underground. Early morning hangovers. Indiscretions. Super lo-fi fuzz. This, my friends, just about sums up what makes The Nectarine No. 9 so very enjoyable. The five songs on this seemingly unavailable, impossible to find little firecracker could have been released yesterday, though they were recorded approximately 20 years ago. These are raunchy, rough, aggressive, charged songs. And you need them in your lives.

I've looked and looked and can't find it anywhere. But I want to talk to y'all about this record all the same. It's quite special. The almost gentle strains of "Un-Loaded For You" open the collection, and the song emits a similar white light as did The Velvet Underground on a Sunday Morning comedown. "I made it home last night/I won a gold star boy/What an achievement," goes the song, in a playful way almost mocking itself. A plugged-in burst breaks in two-thirds of the way into the song, lending an unexpected jolt of vigor.

"Pop's Love Thing" muscles its way through speakers much in the way The Stooges did; loudly, matter-of-factly, and in your face. The filthy wail of the guitar compliments the metronome-esque beat of the drum and the Lou Reed impersonating Iggy Pop (or perhaps vice versa) vocals. There's nothing at all subtle about this song. The interestingly-intro'd "Going Off Someone" (Jock Scott's brogue + heroin talk + sarcasm) features strung-out girl group vocals and enthusiastically indifferent fuzzery. Ending, of course, with what sounds like someone relieving themselves. Naturally.

"Chocolate Swastika" picks up on the beat of "Going Off Someone" and gives it a bit of seedy 70s lounge feel, full of stale sweat and ashtrays full of cigarettes and mornings of regret. "After all it's just a wall/And what's a wall if it don't fall," the half-sung, half-spoken line goes. This song, too, seems to poke fun at itself, giving off an air of who the fuck cares. The end of this 5-track romp comes with the most excellent "Don't Worry Babe, You're Not The Only One Awake," featuring some seriously fantastic 90s college rock radio guitar riffery and a delightful drollness, as though the band was this side of bored as they recorded.

If you're a wiz at tracking down the tunes, I recommend you find this one for yourselves. That Nectarine No. 9 was something else, friends. Something else indeed.

m4a: Pop's Love Thing (The Nectarine No. 9 from The Nectarine No. 9 - go here to buy other stuff)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Album Review: The Loom - Teeth

I've wanted to extol the virtues of this here record to y'all for quite some time now, and it makes me so very happy to finally, finally, finally be doing so. The Loom, a live favorite of mine and recipient of their very own honorary day here at Fuzzy Logic, can also make some magic happen on record. This album of theirs that finally gets to see the light, Teeth, is twangily triumphant, roughly-hewn and resplendent, and just plain ole excellent.

From the beginning, Teeth shows the many charms of The Loom in beautiful, curled-edged sepia photograph clarity. The intro to first song "With Legs" creeps along as does the misty mountain morning, the banjo plucking akin to the slow climb of the sun over the hills or the throaty crow of the rooster. Throw in some haunting, slightly dark American gothic vocals, horns with a touch of melancholy, and a rollicking, lively second half of song, and you've got one heck of an introduction not only to the record, but to the band themselves.

I've talked about "Helen" before, but she warrants another nod here. The song really epitomizes The Loom's urban rustic vibe, lively yet somehow blessed with a touch of the pastoral. John Fanning has a voice perfectly-equipped to spin traditional country yarns, all moonshine strong and rich but possessed of an almost Everyman quality. His lady counterpart, Sarah Renfro, for her part is the perfect foil to Fanning, her voice too being dark, rich, and plaintively enchanting.

"The Curtain Calls" is a song I always enjoy hearing live, and on record it's a favorite as well. In tone it sounds a little sunnier than some of Teeth's songs, full of lively strains and lovely vocals. It's quite stirring that one, really gets the blood pumping. By contrast, "The First Freeze," which immediately follows "The Curtain Calls," is the late Fall to the first blush of Spring to its predecessor. It aches of the wistful whispers of bare branches and the loneliness of cold, deep blue twilights.

I've had this record for many months now, and my affection for it continues to grow. It is, friends, genuinely good music made by wonderfully genuine music. Teeth is a great record, and I sincerely hope you love it as much as I do.

mp3: The First Freeze (The Loom from Teeth)

LP Lust: Random Thrift Edition

Believe it or not, loves of mine, I haven't been doing much record shopping of late. It has, indeed, bummed me out quite a bit, but I have picked up the odd piece of vinyl hither and thither. Here's the scant few records that have of late become a part of my collection, picked up along the way either here or in Richmond.

It should be noted that evidently I can't go record shopping without buying something Leon Russell. That man sure does show up on a lot of these here lists.

* The Caroleer Singers & Orchestra - Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer

* Offenbach - Gaite Parisienne (Efrem Kurtz Conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra)

* Waylon Jennings - Are You Ready For The Country

* Series 2000 by Time Records - Pin Point Percussion

* Dolly Parton & Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris - Trio

* Dick Leibert - Nightcap

* Leon Russell - Americana

Crossing The Pond: Fawn Spots

I like noise.

Fawn Spots makes noise.

I like Fawn Spots.

It's pretty much that simple, friends. But I'll go on, in an effort to convince you about just why you too should like Fawn Spots.

The dastardly duo that comprises Fawn Spots hails currently from York, in the north of England. York is, perhaps, best known for the York Minster, an impressive, graceful edifice to all things holy. I never made it there, myself, but thanks to Fawn Spots I can now appreciate a different sort of spirituality, in the shape of that unholy racket that springs forth from the two of them.

They take the fuzzy, lo-fi clamor of the late 80s/early 90s Guided By Voices sound and give it a little bit of a sneering upper lip. Somehow, in the midst of the tumult, they still keep their songs tight and nigh on poppy, not to mention bursting with a rather exciting energy. To say I like Fawn Spots a lot would be the understatement of the day. You will want to hear them, this I promise you.

mp3: Hair Play (Fawn Spots from the Hair Play EP)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Newsflash!: Fuzzily-Sponsored Show Tomorrow!

Dearest Dears! Have I got a newsflash for you! Your favorite blogstress is now sponsoring the event of tomorrow night, happening over at the Velvet Lounge. Why, what's that you say? You don't have plans? What a coincidence. I do believe your plans have been made.

But wait, you might say. Who's all playing over at the Velvet Lounge that should make me want to spend my Friday night there? Good question. And I've got a good answer. If you come and play tomorrow evening, you'll see four, yes four, incredible, wonderful, beauteous, splendid, and fantastic musical acts. That, if you ask me, is a total bargain and totally worth every penny/minute. I don't know what else you'd possibly have to do on a Friday evening, but it wouldn't be remotely as delightful as this show will be.

Here's the lineup. As you'll see, the awesome happens from top to bottom.

* Letitia VanSant
* Cat Martino
* The Loom
* The Echo Wall

Seriously, y'all. You're not going to find better tomorrow night. So come on down and spend your Friday night with us!

See you soon. Kisses!

mp3: Helen (The Loom from Teeth)

Live Review: The Zombies/The Acoustic Strawbs @ Montgomery College, 9/16/2011

Seeing the bands that shaped the face of the first British Invasion is a rare treat indeed, and in the past I've taken such opportunities a little cavalierly. So when I noticed that The Zombies was in town, I just couldn't not go. So my dear Mama, to whom I owe much of my impeccable musical taste, and I headed up to Maryland to experience some Zombies for ourselves. And what a time we had, my darlings. What a time we had.

The night began with a rather wonderful set by The Acoustic Strawbs. I confess, my knowledge of the 60s British oeuvre didn't extend quite far enough to be aware of The Strawbs. After they had played, I rued my ignorance to that end. Water replaced what probably once was whiskey, but the trio played an empassioned set that could definitely teach the young whippersnappers a thing or two. They were spirited when launching into protest songs and melancholic when strumming sad songs. The three sounded beautiful together, which is probably one of the perks of having played as a unit for so many years. When they had finished, they were deservingly given a standing ovation. I was verily impressed with what I heard from them, friends, and if you ever run across a Strawbs record in the shops I strongly encourage you to pick it up.

And then, then it was time for The Zombies. Of the original band, only singer Colin Blunstone and keyboard maestro Rod Argent remain, but the "new" members most certainly played the part to perfection. I rarely see a band, of any age, that looks as happy up on the stage as did The Zombies. It was adorable, and refreshing, to see their joy at entertaining reflected on their faces as they played. The mix wasn't super, at times various instruments were way too loud, but it's one of those things where a less than perfect mix doesn't seem to matter. Colin's voice has perhaps lost some of that youthful bravado, and he doesn't get quite as high in the scales as he once did, but he, and the rest of the band, still sounded pretty dang amazing to me.

"You're helping us celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Zombies," Colin proclaimed with a smile early on in the set. Hard to imagine that, really, and hard to rectify that with just how good a band this still is. Even the newer songs translated well, full of a liveliness and bounding along, filling the room nicely. When the band played "This Will Be Our Year," I felt like the luckiest girl in the world, getting to hear that song in person. That feeling returned when, a bit later, the band launched into "Time Of The Season." I was thrilled to pieces to be hearing that. It's a strange and wonderful sensation, being in the same space as a band that's been influencing bands that followed for half a century. Incredible.

"Tell Her No" came towards the end of the set, and predictably, it was sensational. As forceful and lovelorn as it was many moons ago. As you might have guessed, they saved "She's Not There" for the last song of the set. It was bliss, friends. Nothing short of bliss. That would have been enough, but then they went and did an encore. Second and final in the encore was "Summertime," which according to Argent was the first song The Zombies ever recorded. It was lovely, still smooth though wisened after all these years. Impeccable.

I was speechless most of the night, I really was. Not many bands can wow me the way The Zombies did. They still know how to show a gal one hell of a good time. I'm already counting the days until they're back. Sometimes I think people forget the British Invasion wasn't all Beatles and all Stones. All you kids that don't yet love The Zombies, get a move on. You're all sorts of missing out.

m4a: Tell Her No (The Zombies from The Zombies)

[photo by Megan Petty]

The Good Ship Rediscovery: The Charlatans – Between 10th & 11th

Somewhere between the carefree abandon of youth and the sage wisdom that comes with age lies Between 10th & 11th, quite possibly my very favorite of all Charlatans LPs. Perhaps I love it so because this record combines that last gasp of jubilant baggy found on early Charlies records with the beginning stages of their slightly bombastic, 60s-influenced Mancunian jangle, as well as adding just a touch of hazy, head-spinning psych rock. I find this album utterly transfixing, and I find myself coming back to it more than any of the many other LPs in the band’s back catalogue.

The very fine “I Don’t Want To See The Sights” kicks things off rather nicely, anchored by the big, mean guitar courtesy the lovely Mark Collins, and a dreamy swirl wrapping around those oh so distinctive vocals of the one and only Tim Burgess. “Ignition” has long been a favorite, the constant drone of the intro and that pervasive near indifference that lives in the song are truly special. “Leave me alone/I can’t take forever I know,” bemoans Burgess in that pretty, petulant pout of his. Magic. The buoyant “Page One” is easily dated to the early 90s, perhaps not aging quite as well as its album cohabitators, but the refrains and their accompanying instrumental bursts are still quite easy on the ears.


Mammoth track “End of Everything” sits firmly planted in the middle of the album, nodding to the band’s tendency to include at least one lengthy song on each record. A darker jangle comes through the speakers here, and the song owes a great deal to the organ play of the late Rob Collins. “Can’t Even Be Bothered” is another perennial favorite of mine, the hum of the bass and the buzz of the guitar honeying up the song and playing perfect host to the sullen yet nonchalant Mister Burgess. “Two of us waiting/for one for one to start aging,” sings Burgess, wistfully and lackadaisically matter-of-fact. To me, this has always been a breakup song.


“Weirdo” is probably the one you know, the one you very probably have heard dozens of times at dozens of indie dance nights. I couldn’t even guess as to how many times I’ve cut a rug to this very song while out on the town. Between all that glorious organ and general bouncy clamor, it’s like a more grown-up “The Only One I Know,” a big hit off the Charlatans record Some Friendly, and also a dancefloor staple. “Chewing Gum Weekend” is another classic in my mind, edging toward the sound The Charlatans would really start to flourish with (i.e. big, chunky songs with both brains and brawn). Closing track “(No One) Not Even The Rain” is yet another love of mine, waves of fuzz and golden slumbers, along with a slightly tinny beat and deliciously bored vocals. And then, just like that, the song stops. The needle goes up. And all is quiet.

It’s probably not their best album. This point I won’t argue. But Between 10th & 11th speaks to me. If you’re a casual observer of The Charlatans and haven’t yet crossed the bridge into full-fledged fandom, this may or may not do it for you. All I can tell you is that I adore this record, and have done for many years.


m4a: Ignition (The Charlatans from Between 10th & 11th)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Singles Club: A Place To Bury Strangers

Today, friends, my mind has been blow. So very spectacularly blown. Once, and then again and again and again. If you're wondering why, it's quite simple really. Today I heard, for the first time (and a few times after that), the latest offering by heavyweight Fuzzy favorites A Place To Bury Strangers.

The band is prepping for their impending explosion of an EP (Onwards To The Wall, on the fantastic Dead Oceans), and have unleashed the song "So Far Away" to whet the appetite. Oh holy hell, y'all. In true APTBS style, the song is abrasive, fuzzy, and loud. But the band has added some interesting nuances, in the form of a slight 60s jangle and some spare, echoing riffage very much in the vein of early 80s New Order. Combined with all that violent, darkly sexy, pulsating noise, the song has predictably warmed the cockles of my cold black heart a few degrees.

If this is the sound of what's to come, February better come quick because I need to get my hands on that there EP.

mp3: So Far Away (A Place To Bury Strangers from the forthcoming Onwards To The Wall EP)

Xmas Gift Guide 2011: Kitty Scratching Record Player

It's not quite Thanksgiving yet, which means, as we Americans know so well, that it's already time to start thinking about Christmas (or whichever winter holiday you happen to celebrate, as a non-practicing Presbyterian I'm a Christmas gal). Which means, friends, it's time to start learning about what your favoritest of favorite bloggers would like in her stocking. Let's begin, shall we?

We all know about the little furry apple of mine eye, Bear Bryant. We all also know how much I love vinyl/my record player. Some of you might already know where this is going. Insound, those darling purveyors of all sorts of vinyl/band merch goodness, have for sale one of the most amazing, most silly, most hilarious things I've ever seen. Yes, friends, it is indeed a scratching record player.

For my little monster, this is probably not the best idea in the world, seeing as he's prone to scratching anything and everything. I don't want him to have this and feel inclined to get his scratch on for realsies with my LP collection. That would be bad news for all involved, and would not end well. However, if you've got someone on your list with a slightly less insane furball in their household, this might just be the Best Gift Ever.

Crossing The Pond: Little Fish

It's been a little long while since we last hopped over the pond for some new tunes, I believe. I even managed to let Guy Fawkes Day pass without so much as a nod, let alone fireworks, so I must hitherto make amends.

Little Fish hails from glorious Oxford, land of the dreaming spires, Inspectors Morse and Lewis, and, as you know, Fuzzy favorites Supergrass. Here's a pop quiz for you: Which of those three does Little Fish have a connection to? If you guessed Supergrass, consider yourself quite clever (or just good at reasonable deduction). The one and only Gaz Coombes did some production work for the Little Fish demos, and also contributed some violin play to the song you can snatch down below, and will be producing their album (currently in production).

As for the song itself, "Wonderful" is, dare I even go this obvious route, rather wonderful. For being new kids on the block, relatively speaking, the three members of Little Fish can bluff their way into sounding as though they've got several albums under their collective belt (for the record, I believe it's a total of one, from when it was Juju and Nez operating as a duo). The bold, powerful vocals put forth by leading lady Juju demand attention immediately. Her tone is rich, slightly husky at times and always strong. Ben's swirls of Hammond goodness and Nez's deft drumming round out the polished lushness. Impressive, if I do say so myself.

mp3: Wonderful (Little Fish - more here)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Free For All: The Courtesy Tier

Times are tough out there, and for many of us buying music has become quite an indulgence (albeit a necessary one). Happily, there are some lovely musician folk out there that have offered up some fruits of their labors to the masses, free of charge. Free For All celebrates these wonderful people, and you, dear reader types.

We begin with STPP Fest alums The Courtesy Tier, and their latest EP Holy Hot Fire. In addition to having a great name, this EP is pretty great in its own right. Omer and Layton have made songs full of haunting, beastly blues. Holy Hot Fire dances from mournful, syrupy slowness to bigger, heftier noises. You'll hear "Calling Out," which offers up some really pretty acoustic guitar and wistful, powerful harmonizing, while "Cold" is loud and frenzied and almost chaotic. This mix of sounds and styles definitely adds to The Courtesy Tier's appeal. Now go forth and get you some.

mp3: Standing Near (The Courtesy Tier from the Holy Hot Fire EP)

Singles Club: Woodsman

Two drummers. Two guitarists. If you ask me, there's something serendipitous and magical about that arrangement, friends. Some fearful symmetry, if you will (have to get a Blake-ism in from time to time). This is especially true of the Denver/Brooklyn collective known as Woodsman. These four gentlemen make some interesting music, as I'm sure you'll heartily agree.

"Satisfaction is never guaranteed," they warn, but I'd beg to differ. I find "Specdrum" all sorts of satisfying, no need to strike out the old Richards riff and Jagger moaning in this case. The song builds from a hypnotic shimmer to something almost tribal. It's a wacky trip through time and space, this one. For what Woodsman has hereby created we should all be oh so very obliged.

mp3: Specdrum (Woodsman from the Mystic Places EP)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Through A Lens Fuzzily #9: Bear Bear Stare

One thing my dear former roommate Chelsea astutely noticed about my beloved fluffy Bear, apart of course from his total adorableness, was his lack of blinking. Even to this day, that darn cat rarely seems to blink. Make of that what you will. But even when he's not blinking, he's pretty much the cutest thing around. Except when he's tearing my flesh with his claws or biting me. Well, even then he's precious.

In honor of Chelsea, and her Bear-ian observation, here's a great little New Zealand indiepop gem, courtesy of The Chills. Because if there's one thing Chelsea and I agree on, apart from my cat being awesome, it's that Kiwi bands are pretty dang great.

mp3: Pink Frost (The Chills from Heavenly Pop Hits: The Best of The Chills)