New songs to listen to this week

Blitzen Trapper- photo by Leslie Simon

Blitzen Trapper- photo by Leslie Simon

New music to listen to this week- the sun is shining, spring has arrived, and I’m really feeling sunny, dreamy songs with the occasional dance beat to get down to. Here are some of my favorite songs that have been released recently that you should check out:

King of Prussia “Your Work is Magic”- uptempo indie tambourine pop out of Athens, Georgia with unexpected and fantastic horns that remind me of a less political King Khan. Available for stream or download here at Stereogum:
http://www.stereogum.com/1673969/king-of-prussia-your-work-is-magic-stereogum-premiere/mp3s/

Yann Tiersen “A Midsummer Evening”- Toy instruments mix with acoustic to create a warped, gorgeous song complete with angelic backing vocals. Psychedelic church.

Medeski, Martin and Wood + Nels Cline “Bonjour Bese”- mixing wild spacey reverb noise with the heavy hitting sounds of MMW is a dream come true. If you don’t like dissonant noise fast forward three minutes (but really you should embrace the noise, it’s beautiful). Exclusively at Esquire here:
http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/mmw_nels_cline

Alpha Consumer “Ms Positron”- taking cues from 80’s art rock and adding mega fuzzy guitar riffs and catchy hooks, this Minneapolis group has collaborated with everyone from Andrew Bird to Brother Ali and are releasing their new album April 15th.

Thee Oh Sees “The Lens”- yet another awesome track from the upcoming release. Monty Python-esque psychedelic videos that are done well are always a treat.

Allah-Las “Had It All”- california psych pop with a delicate touch and throwback as hell

Chain and the Gang “Devitalize”- some of my favorite garage rock that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Plus, I’m a sucker for really bratty vocals.

Horse Thief “Little Dust”- psych tinged roots rock from Oklahoma City with theatrical fascinating Cameron Neal’s quirky pretty vocals taking the lead.

Driving Mrs. Satan “Hells Bells”- when I got an email about this band and saw “acoustic heavy metal” I put it on thinking I would get a laugh. Instead, I found they have beautiful arrangements, gorgeous vocals, and I like it better than the original.

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Yes, some people do listen to less famous bands at SXSW. Here were my favorites

6th Street around 9pm. Madness already, I think this was Thursday night.

6th Street around 9pm. Madness already, I think this was Thursday night.

As every media outlet has been writing for years, SXSW is a big bloated corporate monster that had some standard organizational problems this year, but it didn’t stop me from seeing 50 bands, there are problems every year. Years of attending and deep, former drunk knowledge of 6th Street from my college days helped me out immensely (miss you, nasty ole’ Treasure Island), as I bobbed and weaved through crowds and skipped the big elaborate shows to see bands I’d never seen before. I flew in Monday night to catch the tail end of Interactive, but mostly because I love watching the change in people as you move from Tuesday into Wednesday; blazers, jeans and Google Glass quickly turn into black skinny jeans, black t-shirts, and black hotpants. The streets were packed, but once you got inside most venues it was really roomy thanks to fire marshal capacity levels, and the bands were always happy to chat. Out of all those bands, these were the ones that stood out the most to me, and I can’t wait to watch their future career trajectories.

Mozes and the Firstborn

Mozes and the Firstborn


Mozes and the Firstborn: My favorite parties of the festival were definitely the Netherlands showcases at Bar96. Polite people, loud authentic garage rock and a food trailer inside made me keep coming back to them. I’ve been listening to Mozes and the Firstborn’s latest album a lot lately and expected them to be good- they ended up blowing me away. Walking a fine line between control and chaos, this Dutch garage band had top notch showmanship, a big crunchy sound with catchy hooks, and most of all skills. I do my best to dance and make other people know it’s ok to move, sometimes it works out to awesome photos like the one above of him pointing at me. They were one of the first bands I saw, and made a lot of the garage rock bands I saw after them seem like a bunch of fakers.

Skaters

Skaters


SKATERS: As you can see, photos of shows at night turn out pretty bland and boring with the same official SXSW banner behind them, so I mainly just shot photos during day shows. When I walked into the SKATERS show and saw some mega-hot rocker babes, I knew they were going to be good, and probably good looking. Right on both counts, this New York punk group had some of the catchiest melodies like an East Coast Rancid, and their cool, confident energy was so addictive that a rowdy mosh pit was going through most of the set, much to the chagrin of the young ladies that pushed their way to the front row then quickly were spit out to the sides.

Temples at Radio Day Stage

Temples at Radio Day Stage


Temples: Temples were one of the bands I was most excited to see, and they didn’t disappoint. Calm and confident on stage, their sound is gorgeous and full live, and people were singing along to every word. In a week filled with throwback 60’s psych acts, they were the most polished and the sweetest. Very composed.

Anna Fox Rochinski from Quilt

Anna Fox Rochinski from Quilt


Quilt: Gorgeous psych-pop out of New England, I walked myself out to East Austin to attend the Austin Psych Fest showcase to see them since they aren’t hitting up Denver this tour. They really got much wilder live than I expected, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the calmly beautiful Anna Fox Rochinski (loving the black/navy/brown combo). Unfortunately, their tour van was just totaled, so if anyone has an extra dollar to help a band finish their tour, it’s more than appreciated by the band and the fans:

http://quiltmusic.org/quiltmusic/HOME.html

Birth of Joy

Birth of Joy


Birth of Joy: Amsterdam’s Birth of Joy played a blistering set that caused me to text a friend I just saw “come back here now!!” When I wrote about their newest single I thought it sounded Doors-esque. Seeing them live did nothing to change that opinion, and that’s a great thing. Entertaining as hell, rowdy, psychedelic fun in nothing but music set without a moment to breathe. Less pomp than the Doors, more down to earth, straight up melt your face rock.

Gap Dream’s Shine Your Light album review

GapDream_AlbumArt

Gabriel Fulvimar a.k.a Gap Dream was invited to live at Burger Records, an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Fellow Burger Record star Bobby Harlow came in to help record and produce the new album, and it’s a synthy, sexy dream of an album. The new album hits harder than Gap Dream’s previous work, drum machine right up front giving an industrial and harder hitting sound that comes closer to his live show. It’s the perfect balance of a gritty modern aesthetic and chill psychpop. Title song “Shine Your Light” has an epic feel to it, and the video’s film production quality and matter only add to that feeling. “Fantastic Sam” has the perfect flat vocal delivery that brings an edge to the synthloaded beats. The whole album is pretty midtempo, and while I wish maybe some songs were a little sped up, the mellow sound lets more interesting effects come into play so it works itself out. The 60’s sounding reverb drenched “Immediate Life Sentence” brings a great layer of fuzz and Galaga sounding laser noises while “Shine Your Love” has a synthy horn melody reminiscent of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. It’s like the garage rock version of The Neverending Story score.

Band of the Day – The Spyrals

SPYRALS

Hypnotic garage bands from San Francisco absolutely do it for me. The Spyrals have risen above the rest with a more classic approach, tight drumming and dizzy guitar riffs. This trio is jangly, fuzzy, trippy, and lead singer Jeff Lewis has a great commanding presence and a perfect rock star voice, he can cry without whining the way Neil Young sings. Their album they released this summer, “Out of Sight”, is a great collection of tight, Bay Area sounding rock and roll. I know it’s a cheap cop out to say a band sounds like another, but these guys really do the early Rolling Stones sound well. Opener “Need Your Fire” sounds like it should be in a Quentin Tarantino movie, while “Such A Pain” makes you shimmy with the heavy use of tambourine and delicate repeated guitar riffs. The title track is exactly what you would think a San Francisco garage rock band would sound like, man they nail this sound.

Most of the songs clock in under three minutes, making this album very economical and great for running errands, you never have to sit in the parking lot for eleven more minutes til the song ends like you do with the Grateful Dead. While they have psychedelic tendencies live, at the end of the day this is a tight, concise garage rock band that needs to be played on everyone’s radio. The bassist Dylan Edrich has done time with Thee Oh Sees and Mikal Cronin, so fans of those should check these guys out. Future looks jangly and bright for these guys.

Listen to the album at their bandcamp: The Spyrals “Out of Sight”

Black Joe Lewis – “Electric Slave” Review

blackjoelewis

Where do I begin with this band. I first saw them in 2009 thinking I was going to see some smooth blues guitarist, and instead I saw a cuter, hipper, younger James Brown with a fuzz pedal and a white tank top (who can play some smooth blues for sure, though). First things first, Black Joe Lewis no longer has and the Honeybears in their name. Don’t worry, the Honeybears are still there, and I asked the very talented former Honeybear and baritone sax player Joseph Woullard today about the name edit, and he spoke about how the cohesive sound they had didn’t really require a modifier, stating “We knew what we were getting into, and welcome the discussion. Objectively speaking, the majority of people don’t even know who we are anyway, so we might as well be who we want to be”. I’d say that’s all the discussion needed, and apparently what they want to be is the dirtiest, funkiest garage rock band I’ve ever heard a saxophone even step near. The album kicks off with that wonderful electric guitar sound signifying someone is plugged in, and then “Skulldiggin'” kicks off with a thick fuzz midtempo beat, giving a taste that this album is going to be a little harder and more raw.

The next song “Young Girls” instantly reminded me of “Boogie”, one of my favorite tracks from their album Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is. It’s a fast paced boogie woogie with taunting vocals and lyrics of lust, classic BJL. “Guilty” is a great tune that really lets the horn section shine with great bursts of melody turning into a ominous, growing buildup of sound in the latter portion of the song. These guys can get such raw, pure sounds out of their instruments, they make it sound like brass and distortion were invented to be together. New party anthem “Come To My Party” is also a standout, it’s got a great confident swagger and is full of Black Joe Lewis saying improvised things that don’t always make total sense, but he sounds really cool saying them (one of his strongest talents, in my opinion). “Vampire” takes it down a notch with some dirty, slow southern blues, the horns giving you the feeling of walking late at night in the French Quarter without a friend alive. Wait- I just described a vampire’s night, the song works! I can’t wait to hear “The Hipster” live, it’s one of those fast paced dance numbers that end up turning into mosh pits at the shows sometimes. This album has made me so homesick that I have tabs open with flights to Austin, the album releases tomorrow, check it out if you are a fan of the blues, garage rock, guitar, fuzz, Austin, good times or good showmanship. Black Joe Lewis rules.