Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crossing The Pond: Novella

It's entirely too easy to say I love everything about Novella's glorious song "Mary's Gun." But y'all. It's so true. SO TRUE.  Well, except perhaps for the part where the song ends. That I'm not so keen on. But it's songs like this that repeat was invented for.

Here's the deal. The song was recorded in The Horrors' studio. So there's already a point in the song's favor. But it just gets better from there. Misty washes of fuzz and whispy vocals backed with beautiful noise channeling My Bloody Valentine frolicking seaside. It's no surprise to learn that Novella has shared stages with Veronica Falls and Dum Dum Girls, as these three ladies (and Iain) have the spooky, spectral chops to stand alongside both bands. Perfectly glorious.

Super Furryism #7

For those that don't know, this blog borrows its' name from the title of the debut long player record by wily Welsh cosmic psych poppers Super Furry Animals. As far as I'm concerned, that's certainly reason enough to start talking about them at random times, and for no real reason other than just because I darned well feel like it.

Somewhere between an 80s video game (perhaps any of the Mario oeuvre mixed with some newfangled Katamari) and smoke-induced utopia lies the Super Furry song "Oi Frango." A short, but very very sweet two and a half minutes of precious bleepings and fluffiness (and, of course, a drill), the non-vocal track showcases the good old-fashioned fun that can be found in the music of my favorite Welshmen.

The Good Ship Rediscovery: Six by Seven - The Things We Make

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?

I must say, friends, that some of my favorite music of the late 90s was brought to my attention via some very lovely English friends and the very lovely, well-compiled mixtapes they were kind enough to send my way. Such is the case with Nottingham outfit Six by Seven, though my love affair with their record The Things We Make was years in the making and wasn't exactly what you'd call love at first listen. Sandwiched between songs by bands like The Verve and Theaudience (among many others), I just couldn't quite wrap my brain around Six by Seven. At least, not to start with.

You see, Six by Seven wasn't like many of their UK compatriots of the day, especially those that had a modicum of success on US shores. Though they could certainly never be considered Britpop in the genre's truest sense, there were indeed certain cheeky, sneaky pop undercurrents rippling underneath the surface hither and thither amongst the louder noises. For that's really what most of what the band made on this record qualifies as: noise, sweet, loud noise.

The LP begins in a lull of sorts, a slow, almost gentle suspended creep of an intro with a subtle air of expectancy. "The things I make/they have no use/but they have the most beautiful shape," goes the song "A Beautiful Shape," as the noise gets ever so slightly more robust and hints at all things to come. What comes next isn't, judging from the first song, what you were probably expecting. "European Me," the song that was my introduction to Six by Seven, is an epic, a quality exercise in noise, distortion, drone, and vocals that are off key but who the hell cares because it all sounds so good? At times dissonant, this slow and steady mover churns over seven minutes, and holds you in its sticky, sludgy grasp with an iron fist. When I first heard the song, I was too enamored with three-minute nuggets to truly appreciate what I was hearing. These days, however, "European Me" is a constant favorite.

What might Six by Seven do next, you might wonder? Simple. The band decided it was time for something completely different. "Candlelight" is more in the vein of "traditional" indie rock, much more straightforward in composition and far less sheer noise. The line "Open your eyes/close the door/take what's yours" gets me every time, as well. A come-hither eyebrow raise of a lyric if ever there was one. And so it goes, all record long. Lots of noise, lots of energy, and lots to love.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Live Review: Ringo Deathstarr @ Red Palace, 10/25/12

It's the Thursday night before the end of the tour, and Ringo Deathstarr's Elliott Frazier is feeling saucy. Bemusedly badgering the crowd ("Romney" chants, forced dancing, and "The Wizard of Oz") was definitely on his agenda (all in good fun, of course), and the Austinites on the whole played a set of precocious, paint-peelingly loud nouveau gaze that made yours truly's day.

The set, while part of the tour promoting latest LP Mauve, quite often ventured into older material. Not that I'm complaining, because lord knows I love just about everything these three get up to. They kicked things off with a seriously creeping, somewhat sludgy version of the molasses thick "Swirly," dating back to their self-titled EP. Instantly, they created their own space, filled with beautiful, aching noise, bathed in blue and occasionally intruded upon by Frazier's aforementioned amusing antics.

The aggressive thrall of "Waste" followed, exhibiting a totally different attitude and letting the trio really cut loose up there on stage. The hard edge that bubbles to the surface in much of Mauve is really evident in "Waste," and live it sounded mighty fine. The dreamy haze of "So High" and "Kaleidoscope" from the divine Colour Trip came back-to-back, and I felt the sweetness of a crush, despite all that wonderfully crushing noise.

The set-closing triumvirate of "Slack," "Rip," and "Tambourine Girl" was just about swoon-worthy. The 90s coating on "Slack" gave way to the honeyed hammer of "Rip," which in turn gave way to a particularly exceptionally muddy rendition of "Tambourine Girl." Good, better, best. I always want them to play forever, and am always bummed when they don't. But still, I suppose a set of ten ridiculously awesome songs is nothing to sneeze at. This band really is one of the best live bands out there, my friends. Truth.

[photo copyright Megan Petty]

Video Vixens: The Golden Awesome

Starting as inauspiciously as it did, today was the perfect day to get an email bringing to my attention a new video from some of my favorite Kiwis, The Golden Awesome. Instant day saver! The video in question is a clip for another killer song from the band's absolutely killer LP, Autumn. Which, of course, you should own by now.

"Astronomy" is the lucky song of which I speak, and the video concept, while not exactly groundbreaking, somehow feels just right for accompanying the haunting, steady thrum of the song. The video sees the band lined up against an array of changing backdrops, from a red curtain to a beautiful, cold seaside setting (my favorite). And the simple act of the band playing as the scenes change just really works. This was definitely an unexpected treat on this dismal Tuesday. 


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Whither Festivus: Hopscotch 2012 Recap

Y'all. Let's talk about Hopscotch. Hopscotch last year was great. And Hopscotch this year was great. Raleigh is a great place for a festival. And the bands on this year's bill were beyond great. I would hope you're getting the gist. I'm beginning to think this festival can do no wrong. Here's the scoop on my time at the 2012 installment of one heck of a festival. 

I started things off the Friday of Hopscotch at Neptunes, the space below one of my favorite spots in Raleigh, King's Barcade, for part of the Thrill Jockey day party. I had the pleasure of seeing some Man Forever for the first time, and found myself caught in their whiter shade of brutal, swirling, endless noise. During their "pretty fun forever drum thing" (thanks, Brian), I noticed something that just so happens to be one of my favorite things about Hopscotch: the wonderful mix of people. You've got scene folks, media folks, and local folks all just taking things in and having a grand old time doing so. It's that open attitude that makes for such a delightful festival-going experience. 

After some Man Forever fun, I wandered through the balmy night to City Plaza to catch some of the Jesus & Mary Chain's set. They seemed to be starting pretty late, so in order to keep to my schedule of club shows I only caught a scant few songs of their set. But what I saw ("Snakedriver," "Head On," "Far Gone and Out") reaffirmed my faith in how happy I am at this band and their songs exist. City Plaza was vibrating with the sheer volume and power of their sonic fuzzery, and they really did show the young kids how it's done.

It was then time to switch gears and decamp to the beautiful confines of the Fletcher Opera Theater, a lovely edifice for the arts and a perfect spot to observe the sets I was fortunate enough to observe. I soaked up the air conditioning as I soaked up some sounds. First, The Weather Station's quietly, gently angelic rusticity. The songs sounded like the turning of leaves and the hush and rustle of branches, sheer loveliness. The crowd was impressively respectful, rapturously quiet during the set, engrossed and perfectly polite. 

Hiss Golden Messenger wowed me darkly countrified rock, soulful and earthy and full. It took just one song for me to fall in love, and as a rule of thumb, friends, you know a band has to be good if both of the Megafaun Cook brothers are involved. There was a purity to the songs that really struck me, and watch this space for more on Hiss Golden Messenger

And then, then came the unbelievable awesomeness that involved The Mountain Goats and metal covers. "I love you John," someone in the crowd yelled as Darneille sat behind his grand piano. He grinned and replied, "You say that now." Seated at that piano, he began with Ozzy Osbourne. By this point, the Fletcher was filled, and rightly so. There was something so gloriously camp and over the top about the set, and something priceless, too, hearing such careful, delicate treatments of songs that are usually anything but. "This was really a lot of fun," Darnielle said of the covers, and I couldn't agree more. Quite possibly the highlight of a pretty fine day.

Day the second dawned with breakfast with a good friend, and continued to be a good time thanks to Hopscotch. My first stop was the Hair of the Dog party, thrown by the Georgia Theatre and the good people at Team Clermont, at the aforementionedly awesome King's Barcade. It wasn't just the gratis mimosas that had me in a good mood. Airstrip started things off, and I really dug their heavy haze wrapped in some steamrolling psych. It was very 90s in a way, but very de rigueur in today's scene. I also enjoyed my one McLamb (as in Stuart of The Love Language) sighting, which happened at King's right as Old Bricks was preparing to play. I nearly swooned, friends.

Old Bricks I enjoyed verily, an almost reverential air pervaded their loud and lovely songs. They were heavy but catchy, very atmospheric and quite possibly good mood music. Some of the songs ventured into the washes of old Verve songs, which obviously tickled me pink. A blown amp solidified their rock and roll set. I managed to see some of Jane Jane Pollock's set, and their layered kaleidoscopic contortions reminded me a lot of Islands, eccentric and quirky and kooky and really cool. Interesting. Very interesting. 

I finished off my Hopscotch adventures with a pair of bands at White Collar Crime, another venue I had made friends with at Hopscotch 2011. Baltimore's Roomrunner was sharp and loud and I liked it. They brought big, badass riffs and an aggressive slant that really floated my boat. Not to mention their sense of humor ("This next song is called "Weird" and it's about this weird wristband I'm wearing"). Charlottesville compadres The Invisible Hand tore things all sorts of up with their poppy rock tones and cheeky stage antics (such as the encouraging "drink some beer and buy us one" offered up during their set). Those boys really do Virginia proud, and I was glad to see them during their Hopscotch takeover.

Hopscotch really feels like one big warm fuzzy hug of a festival to me. It's run well by good, music-loving folks, and I can't see this festival losing steam anytime soon. If you can make it to Raleigh next year, I'd go ahead and say you should consider doing so.           

[photo of Airstrip by Megan Petty]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Singles Club: The Snowy Owls

Oh look, everyone. It's time once again for me to spend a little time showering affection on some of my favorite Richmond gentlemen, The Snowy Owls

The boys with the penchant for moody yet exuberant fuzz, blissful shades of shoegaze, and piles of general sonic prettiness just this week released the glorious Within Yr Reach EP, a collection of eight songs you must must must start listening to immediately. I highly recommend the title track "Within Yr Reach," along with "Clouds," though in truth they're all fast favorites. 

Snap it up now and cash in on a special release week pricing. If this is your first encounter with TSO, I'd like to go ahead and welcome you to the bandwagon.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Bands on Film #38: The Flying Eyes @ Ottobar, 11/11/12

[photos copyright Megan Petty]

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Singles Club: Lady Cop (Fuzzy Logic Premiere)

There are rare occasions, my friend, when a band you like dissolves, yet all is not lost. Such is the case with local favorites Caverns, and the subsequent new projects that have spawned from the remnants thereof.

Lady Cop picks up where Caverns left off, making seriously badass instrumental music fraught with an almost frantic aggression, in your face and on the prowl. I'm pleased as punch to be premiering new jam "Shark Week," from the new Lady Cop LP We/Will/Be/You/Together (stream it all here, and then buy it for whatever price you see fit).

Listen to the blistering onslaught of the song and then come celebrate the new record tomorrow evening at the Velvet Lounge, along with those awesome Triangle dudes of Hammer No More The Fingers. Seriously bonafide good times will be had, y'all. Local friends, don't miss this one.

mp3: Shark Week (Lady Cop from We/Will/Be/You/Together)

Crossing the Pond: Lola Colt

Something wicked this way comes, my friends, and I'm not just whistlin' Shakespeare when I say that. From the great sprawling smoke of London comes Lola Colt, a juggernaut of beautiful, fearful tremors of irresistably seductive sonic witchery. 

Everything that I've heard from this band is impeccable, from vocals that undulate with the guile of an underlying, undeniable sexy smokiness to that perfectly gritty, bluesy muddle of noise that finds itself hovering somewhere between the underworld of an after-hours bar and the unbearable lightness of being in the middle of a spooky, spooked midnight desert. Lola Colt's songs crackle with an electric provocation you won't often find in a fairly new band. The pair of songs currently on offer are nothing short of bewitching, and certainly not for the ears of nice young girls and boys.

I love this band, and I sincerely hope you'll share the sentiment. Remember their name, as I suspect this won't be the last you'll hear of them.