This time of year I’m always reminded of a skit from the show Portlandia – Fred had been on a seemingly perfect trip with a dream date. He sighs and shakes his head. His friends are puzzled – “What do you mean, it looked amazing” they exclaim. “Everyone on the internet – they aren’t having as great of a time as you think they are” Fred explains. And Carrie chimes in “Yeah, they’re just cropping out the sadness”. It is a perfect summation of Facebook posts this time of year – perfect this, perfect that. And I’m sorry, that just doesn’t exist. The new EP from Tacoma, WA’s Strangely Alright brought this whole thing to mind. They are a tight band playing straight forward glam rock ‘n roll, deeply indebted to the T. Rex and Bowie school of thought. No frills, no BS – they just hit you in the soul with real vibes.
The legend of Dinosaur Jr. is one that has reverberated through the indie rock scene over the last 30 years, and one that I am surely not qualified to discuss in a detailed fashion. Noisy and melodic, the original trio of Dinosaur Jr. albums were released in 1985, 1987, and 1988. The dynamic between J. Mascis and Lou Barlow bordered on hostility – eventually, things would come to a head and Dinosaur Jr. became a vehicle the songs of Mascis, while Barlow moved on to Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion (whose Natural One is likely the biggest Dinosaur Jr. related song). Drummer Murph recorded off and on in the reconstituted Dinosaur Jr. but didn’t play a part in the post Dino band J. Mascis + The Fog. Against all odds (take a look at me now), the original version of Dinosaur Jr. reformed in 2005 and have put out 4 records over the last 11 years. Noisy and melodic, the records felt like a continuation of the band, not a band trying to recapture past glories. I caught them in Seattle in 2016 and was impressed by the noise assault – the amps and speakers seemed to reach to the ceiling of The Showbox venue. A great feel good story – but it isn’t the whole story.
The city of Manchester, England is rich with musical history. So many bands that I adore call Manchester home – The Fall, The Smiths, The Chameleons, Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses, Oasis, Magazine, I Am Kloot…the list could go on and on (truly). Some of these bands don’t seem to go together, but the attitude is the unifying thread. That unifying thread is giving voice to the disenfranchised, using art & music to give a voice to those who haven’t been heard. Woman You Stole is a new band out of Manchester and Excuse My French is their debut single. Impressively, they are imbued with a sense of the Manchester vibes that I adore so much.
The band features Haley Faye on guitar & vocals along with Jack Corcoran on bass and Steve Native on drums. Musically, they arrive on the scene sounding like a seasoned band, the players locked into a hypnotic groove. Excuse My French has a jangle that had me thinking of a post Dead Milkmen band, Burn Witch Burn. It’s that otherworldly sense of timelessness that appeals to me. Haley Faye oozes confidence in her vocals with her band mates locked in behind her. New wave medieval by way of The Clash, The Slits, and The Raincoats is what I was thinking as I played the single on repeat. Then a spoken word French bit comes in (fitting, eh?) and I was thinking of the best bits of Serge Gainsbourg. The video for Excuse My French hits all the right moves, mixing just the right bits of artistic flair, pop culture, band shots, and nudity (for good measure obviously). It really doesn’t get better than this, and I’m looking forward to what comes next from this thrilling new band
You can follow the band on The Social Network and buy the single at all digital retailers.
Verdict: Stunning Debut
For Fans of: The Dead Milkmen, Burn Witch Burn, The Smiths, The Slits, I Am Kloot, The Raincoats
At this point, almost anything connected to the Radiohead name / brand will receive glowing reviews, accolades by those “in the know”, and give indie elitists a reason to feel like an indie elitist. Which really doesn’t make any sense – Radiohead are one of the biggest bands in the world, ever. It’s always been a a bit of a curious thing that makes me laugh. Anyway, when I read that Thom Yorke was scoring the soundtrack to the remake of the film Suspiria I was intrigued. Not so much by the original 70’s film’s history or soundtrack and how the new film and Yorke’s soundtrack would compare. I was wondering how Yorke’s soundtrack work would compare to Jonny Greenwood’s – his partner in Radiohead who has made a name for himself as a film soundtrack composer.
The new album by Lay Low Moon is called On This Day Last Year. It is an interesting title for an album, and made me wonder where I was last year at this time and the year before that. In this day and age of “on this day” in Facebook land, much of the mystery of our memories has been removed. Still, I have no idea where I was on this day last year. The year before I was attending the last Fred & Toody show I’d ever attend (of Dead Moon fame). Fred Cole got cancer in 2017 and died late in the year. So, I was thinking about that today – I had no idea that the show I was at would be the last time I’d see them. I wonder what I was thinking when I took pictures of them and took in the music? Gone with the winds of time I suppose. So, we’ve established that I love the title of Lay Low Moon’s new album. How about the music?
My background with the band Live coincides with my discovery of “alternative” music in the early 90’s, my desire to seek out bands that did things their own way, and a mentor who helped introduce me to many bands that I still love to this day. The band cut a record in the late 80’s while still in high school under the Public Affection moniker, fell in with Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads and released their masterful debut as Live in 1991, Mental Jewelry (still my favorite). From there the band became more and more popular, selling tens of millions of records along the way. Throwing Copper, Secret Samadhi, and The Distance to Here all were records that helped solidify Live as a household name. From there, the band experimented with their sound (V), released a somewhat underappreciated album (Birds of Pray), and released an album with some strong songs but overall didn’t showcase the band’s strengths (Songs From Black Mountain). The band went on hiatus, followed by solo albums, one-off projects, and a Live album cut with Chris Shinn of Unified Theory fame. A reunion of the original four members seemed to be an impossible scenario.
Liverpool’s Sunstack Jones have long been one of my favorite indie bands over the last 5 or 6 years. Hints of 60’s psychedelia, nods to 90’s Britpop, and meticulous attention to detail make for an engaging listen. The band operates as a collective, something that has been part of their modus operandi since day 1. Christopher Jones is on vocals / guitar joined by Richy (drums), Lorcan (guitar), Dave (vocals / guitar), and Jules (bass). The band have a number of releases to their name, all evoking nostalgia, coastal drives by sunset, and life’s regrets. The latest self titled LP takes these traits and perfects them.