Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Friday, January 10, 2014
Well, folks, after 8 years of struggling to get it written, recorded and mastered, Dave Doughman from the band Swearing at Motorists is finally getting around to putting out a new record. There've been a lot of hiccups, small EPs, reissues and false starts that have kept yours truly on the edge of his seat for these 8 years. I've written about the music many times on this blog (whose name comes from a rare early S@M song), and I'm super excited to share the new single off the new album which should come out in a few months if all goes well. As Dave describes on his kickstarter, the creative process sometimes needs to take a backseat to "real life", which can sometimes make a creative person second guess the very notion of why they seek to create. Ultimately, life has a way of reaffirming the very art that comes from it.
The new track is classic Swearing at Motorists: beautiful enveloping vocal harmonies swarm around each other, anchored by a steady rhythm guitar and driving drum march, but with the new and exciting addition of synthesizer, which adds an uplifting coda to an otherwise heavy song. The song talks about the struggle that has been a common theme in Dave's writing for nearly 2 decades, and a common theme in life in general: trying to make a relationship work, even though it might not ultimately be meant to work out. Dave is always honest and ernest in his lyrics and vocal delivery, despite his somewhat limited range on the guitar. You don't have to be a shredding virtuoso to write music that hits home, and that's what first drew me to his work.
Dave is attempting to self-release this effort; all that remains are the costs of pressing the records and getting them to stores. Go support that humble effort here:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/swearingatmotorists/swearing-at-motorists-return-with-a-new-album
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Indulge me for a second…here's the shortened list of some of my highlights:
1. Polvo - Siberia
Polvo is back and is weird again! Doing what they do best, still with muscle, but a bit less emphasis on recognizable riffage and a return to strange guitar acrobatics (and synth!) My love for this band runs deep - we're from the same town, with a certain sound. Big surprise - this is my favorite album of the year.
2. My Bloody Valentine - mbv
Was not expecting to have a new MBV record come out during my lifetime, and this one did not disappoint, it confused, but did not disappoint. Half the record is the classic murky, beautiful music they're known for, while the other half ventures into bouncy, schizophrenic club music. All in all, any My Bloody Valentine record is way better than most of the stuff out there today.
3. Purling Hiss - Water On Mars
Really great classic guitar rock from dirty Philly. There's influence from the 90s (Mudhoney) and some Dinosaur mixed with stoner 70s vibes. It's a guitar riff record, and a good one at that. The lyrics can be somewhat dumb/repetitive at times ("Everybody wants to have a good time!"). All in all this is one of my favs of the year for its instant aural satisfaction. It's everything I love about rock n roll rolled into 1 package.
4. Kurt Vile - Wakin' On a Pretty Daze
Kurt gets even more introspective and vibey, honing his craft for mumbling, stumbling, expansive tunes. At this point, if you don't like Kurt's personality, you ain't gonna dig his music. I'm fully into getting immersed in it, but some of the tracks lagged for sure (Shame Chamber, Goldtone). "Sometimes when I get in my zone, you'd think I was stoned, but I never as they say 'touch the stuff'"… yeah, sure bud!
KV Crimes is one of the best songs of the year for the riff alone. Again, a Kurt Vile record is better than most records, even if it drags a bit.
5. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
Weird 70s/80s sci fi jams. One of the few electronic groups I can get into. These guys are creative as shit with the sounds they use. When I was a kid I really liked the Disney movie Flight of the Navigator. This album would make a perfect soundtrack to that.
6. Atoms For Peace - AMOK
This album rules. Thom Yorke is a genius, get over it. Also, Flea. He's been part of a tired alternative rock band that has a kinda shitty singer (I dug them in middle school for sure). He is, however, a skilled musician when restrained a bit. The collaboration of 2 of my early teen idols might be part of why this album works for me; in spite of the unlikely pairing, the results are pretty successful. If you like Fela Kuti, and good rhythmic tranced-out stuff, then yeah, listen to this record. Incredible complexity with a strong underlying groove. Perfect soundtrack for coding websites.
7. Wooden Shjips - Back To Land
This sounds like a Wooden Shijps record at its best: droney, happy, organ-driven psychedelic abstractions. Until you get to the last song, where shit gets kinda dark. I can't pick out a word that dude is singing, but I love the sound of it! All around, an enjoyable listen.
8. Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
This record kinda threw me for a loop. I guess the 90s are back in fashion? Liz Phair/Helium anger/angst sung beautifully and intelligently. The nerdy girl you always had a crush on in high school is way better at guitar than you.
9. Ty Segall - Sleeper
Ty goes acoustic and the results are somewhat stunning, which isn't surprising. This guy is reaching Marc Bolan levels of accomplishment with just his voice and an unplugged guitar. The Man Man is one of the coolest songs to come out in recent times, and the video rules:
10. Sebadoh - Defend Yourself/Secret EP
New music from the mighty Sebadoh.
Lou just got divorced, and his songs are still kinda whiny, but the Jason Loewenstein songs are fucking KILLING it! Heavy distorted bass riffs and sharp guitar hooks wrap around his throaty, desperate voice in a collision of pounding Butthole Surfers-esque jams (Beat, Final Days), and dark, ragged country songs about failing relationships (Can't Depend, I don't Mind). It's all filtered through the dirty cracked lens of the 4-track 90s.
To be fair, I've never been able to reconcile many Sebadoh records (aside from Bake Sale); to me the 2 songwriters are just too different to make for an album that gels from start to finish. I respect the shit out of Lou Barlow and his songwriting methods. I can get down with pretty, painfully-honest songs (Let It Out), but at my core, I relate more to the Loewenstein stuff. These songs, separated from Lou's sad ballads, would make a great follow up record to the stunning 2002 solo release At Sixes and Sevens.
Wesley Wolfe - Title Unknown
This album is not out yet, but he sent me a preview and it rules. As with most Wesley Wolfe albums, this one's gonna take a few hundred listens to fully digest. He plays all of the instruments, records everything, and cuts his own vinyl records himself, on his own lathe. My first impressions were, that he has an incredible knack for coming up with hooks and building his somber pop songs in a very satisfying way. His lyrics are brutally honest, very self-aware and extremely relatable to yours truly. Carrboro's secret weapon songwriter/engineer/record lather proves himself worthy of your attention yet again. Look out for it in the New Year I hope?
Vannevar - S/T
Lee went & got himself a synthesizer, and got his shit together ;) Breakup songs and epic multi-movement weird jams. I dig it. Also, looking forward to their "God Hates Vannevar" shirts!
Gross Ghost - Public Housing
The scuzz pop songwriter fleshes out his band with a seriously competent drummer and some better production. Couch surfing tunes about fucking up and starting over. It's like bartending in a beach town during the off season.
Warren Hixson - Hawaiian Underwear
This is one of my favorite Richmond, VA bands, mostly for their unpredictability. Things aren't so friendly up North, and this band will keep you on your toes. Imagine a cross between Devo and the Cramps and you're halfway there. Now combine that with the the sweet, sometimes scary sounds of The Beach Boys and Karl Blau. Throw on some dusty King Tubby LP, followed by a Gories '45 and you're getting closer. It's a somehow simultaneously calming and unnerving listening experience. These are the "z-sides" from last year's excellent album Cruel Whims.
Also of Note:
One of my favorite bands of all time, Swervedriver released a new single, Deep Wound, their first recorded music under the name in 15 years, and it doesn't suck. It kinda rules actually, and seemingly picks right up where Mezcal Head left off.. Excited about their new album/tour hopefully next year.
In sadder news, my favorite radio show, The Best Show on WFMU with its amazing host Tom Scharpling has ended after 13 years of amazing free entertainment for a largely indifferent world. This call-in talk/variety/music show has meant a lot to me over the years, providing an escape from the sometimes depressing life as an office worker. I wish Tom the best and I'm anxious to see what he does next!
Friday, December 6, 2013
Rocker, Recording Engineer Jason Loewenstein is one of my musical/life idols. He writes awesome, twisted, weird pop songs and plays in bands such as Sebadoh, Fiery Furnaces, and Circle of Buzzards, but my favorite thing he's done was his first solo record At Sixes and Sevens, which came out on Sub Pop, way back in 2002! It's one of my all time favorite modern indie rock albums. If you find a copy, you should buy it.
He's a pot-bellied pig owner (as you can see above), and occasionally writes songs about it (Emmit Pig). He also apparently now makes slingshots? I saw him perform an intense solo set (with drummer and bassist) at a tiny record store in Greensboro, NC when I was in college. He was/is primarily a bassist, but has remarkable creative ability with a 6 string guitar as well. In fact, I'm pretty sure he plays all of the instruments on his solo stuff. In addition to all of this, he's a really great recording engineer, I always love the way his home-recorded stuff sounds. Also, the new Sebadoh record, Defend Yourself is really great, and his songs in particular stand out to me. But I'm rambling.
Enjoy this weird, awesome collection of surprisingly hi-fi home-recorded freebies, demos, outtakes and live cuts. Some of it is just him fucking around (Winged Eel), but there's some real gems here (But Yr. Gone - nice slow burner, Contribution - the riff is classic Loewenstein, etc.)
Check out more from Jake here: jakerock.com.
Monday, December 2, 2013
The older I get, the more I value the craft of good songwriting. I thoroughly appreciate a band's ability to boil a song down to the hook ("Don't bore us, get to the chorus"). I'm a sucker for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; I grew up on their hits, which were always playing on the radio during long summer car rides down to the coast, so I associate their songs with that certain period in my life. As a guitar player, hearing Mike Campbell's infectious, beautifully played guitar lines now just astounds me. When I was a kid I don't think I even realized there was a separate guitar player per se, but just felt that certain feeling. He's all about TONE man ... and playing TASTEFULLY, serving the song. Found this great live concert on Youtube in full, and thought I'd share. I never get sick of the Heartbreakers.
Friday, November 15, 2013
It's always comforting to find a band that challenges your expectations for what music can accomplish. It's especially rewarding to find a band like that in a new town you've just moved to. I had that experience when I stumbled across the Richmond, VA band Warren Hixson.
At first glance the scene in RVA appeared somewhat spread out and a bit bleak, compared to what I was used to. Upon further examination, it's just a bigger, more varied scene than what I'm used to. Warren Hixson is a perfect example of the weird brilliance that can come from this area; they're not a nice sounding band, at least not all the time. They can come across as pretty harsh, such as on the thrashing classic garage stomper I wanna take you home (complete with distorted tape delay), and at other times they sound sweet as honey, and as tender as a raw steak (Let me in). With that bleakness comes a realness, and luckily it's all wrapped in unrelentingly catchy hooks. It's like Devo met Suicide in an abandoned barn at the end of the Fall, and decided to have a hoedown with the Cramps ... and then Karl Blau stopped by to sing. It's like Surf Rock for pond dwellers or something (highway surf).
Warren Hixson will try anything it seems (dub, country, indie rock, surf rock, 60s pop, angular no-wave), and yet there's a cohesiveness that runs through their self-released/self-recorded albums. I love this band - it's a fun ride, like a home made haunted house. You should buy their stuff now; they're the real deal.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
There has been much talk on the internet (mostly through their Facebook page) of a new Swearing at Motorists album. It's been 7 years since the Motorist's last proper full length, 2006's excellent Last Night Becomes This Morning, and I for one am extremely anxious to get my hands on a copy of whatever singer Dave Doughman is working on these days. In the meantime, enjoy this live video of Dave and drummer playing their dedication to the German sports club, Sankt Pauli.