Canada has an extensive history of producing great bands – arguably never more so than the past 15 years.Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Destroyer, and Wolf Parade are just a few of the indie all-stars to call Canada home. Hailing from Winnipeg, Departures might someday find themselves regularly mentioned in the same breath.“Pillars” and “Being There” are two promising examples of their soaring post-punk that can attest to that.You can stream the whole album here or here.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been neck deep in the catalog of the underrated and underappreciated band The Mendoza Line – a group that mastered the fine art of self-destruction as well as The Replacements or Marah or Big Star or any band that ever seemed predestined to crash and burn.Over their decade long run the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Georgia transplants evolved from noisy indie-rock to fine-tuned purveyors of intelligent and carefully crafted folk rock – all in the face of inter-band squabbling, relocations, marriages, divorces, record label issues, and lineup changes.Held together as long as possible by doomed lovers Timothy Bracy and Shannon McArdle, The Mendoza Line managed a handful of superb records, the best and most fully realized being 2002’s ramshackle, Dylan-via-Yo La Tengo classic Lost in Revelry.But it’s the record that preceded (and nearly matches) that one, 2000’s We’re All in This Alone, that I’ve had on repeat the past few weeks.Seemingly out of print and rather difficult to track down (unavailable thru go-to sources like iTunes or eMusic), We’re All in This Alone was the band’s third full length and first that really hinted at the disheveled genius of its star players (at the time Peter Hoffman and Margaret Maurice were as integral to the songwriting process as Bracy and McArdle).We’re All in This Alone is all frayed edges, warm fuzz, and blurred melodies that still dig deep.
Even though Boston band Loud Clappers first caught my ear due to their connection to the Minneapolis music scene (both of today and its 1980s prime – singer/songwriter Tom Malec played in a pre-Lifter Puller band with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady; also they are huge Replacements fans), it’s the quality of the songs on their new self-titled EP that’s kept me coming back since.These four tracks remind me of the well-crafted power/pop of post lo-fi prime/pre-temporary break up Guided by Voices (think Isolation Drills/Universal Truths and Cycles era).Check out the driving “Analog Sunset” below and the rest of the damn thing over at Bandcamp.
If the songs of Dylan Ewen sound hopelessly brash and juvenile, well, that’s probably what drew me to them in the first place.That and Fort Worthless might be the “Album Title of the Year”.In the email he sent along last week Ewen said, “It’s about real life being a bummer, girls that suck, and porn.I hope you enjoy it.I really like Bob Dylan.”Though tracks like “Floral Dresses” and “You’re A Bitch” share little of his idol’s lyrical sophistication, Ewen’s songs tap into a something as similarly raw and passionate as Highway 61 Revisited – or maybe what that unmitigated classic would sound like if it was inspired by The Replacements’ Kids Don’t Follow mini-LP.Check out those two below and the whole thing on Bandcamp.The physical release was handled by BUFU Records.
Last year Indiana garage-throwbacks Apache Dropout released their torn and frayed self-titled debut, a ragged collection of tunes that recalled the drugged-out gutter pop of White Light/White Heat-era Velvets scoring dope with the Nuggets boxed set. It’s my own fault that I’m a few weeks late getting to its stellar follow up, Bubblegum Graveyard, which was released not too long ago by Trouble in Mind. A worthy successor in every sense, the new LP extends the band’s guttural song-craft with slightly cleaner production and a stronger connection to campy comic horror (which was hinted at on the last LP on tracks like “It’s A Nightmare”). Two of my favorite cuts are the skuzzy “Quaaludes ‘68” and Midwest anthem “I-80”.
More ridiculously cool new music from Australia, this time from Melbourne’s Woollen Kits.Their upcoming Four Girls (Trouble in Mind, 11/13) is full of driving garage/pop nuggets like this one, the horn-fueled “Susannah”:
Meant to get to this one earlier, but Sandy has wreaked some serious havoc around these parts over the past week and only recently got power back.Brooklyn-by-way-of-Texas band Parquet Courts play a sort of revved up, vaguely twangy post-punk that recalls the bare minimalism of Wire or Gang of Four as much as it does Eddy Current Suppression Ring.Frontman Andrew Savage, of Fergus & Geronimo, brings a brash sing-speak charisma to the vocals in the spirit of Eddie Argos or Brendan Suppression, and the band matches his enthusiasm with sharp-edged hooks and tight rhythms throughout.Light Up Gold is seriously taut – spitting out 15 blasting tracks in barely over a half hour.And I thought hurricane season was over.Buy it here.
Ty Segall pretty much already owned 2012 before dropping Twins.Earlier this year his collaborative LP Hair (with White Fence) blew me away, and this summer saw the release of the Ty Segall Band’s brutal, pummeling Slaughterhouse.Twins, his third ass-kicking record of the year, is to be viewed as the true follow up to last year’s Goodbye Bread because it’s a true Segall solo album, thought the differences between it and either Hair or Slaughterhouse are minimal.It contains a dozen more choice jams from the dude who is quickly becoming one of the best and most prolific garage rockers in the biz.Like its two predecessors, Twins doesn’t let up, and it covers every facet of what makes him great.For that reason Twins acts as a near perfect entry point into his quickly multiplying discography.Buy it from Drag City.
Musically speaking, I didn’t have a lot to say this past summer.PHW was pretty dormant for 2 or 3 months, but now that I’m back on here a couple of times a week I ought to let you in on something I’ve had in heavy rotation since it dropped in early August.Chapel Hill, NC garage-punks Spider Bags released their third LP, Shake My Head, and, being that the band had been Titus Andronicus-approved on that mixtape thing they did earlier this year, I gave it a spin and fell in love.Way more diverse than your average garage band, Spider Bags bring the juice on rockers like “Friday Night” and “Keys to the City” but also drop spooky Americana/noir ballads like “Daymare” or strutting, 70’s styled power-pop like “Standing on a Curb”.It’s all tied together by Dan McGee’s rapid fire & witty vocals – every song here has clever lines (more like one-liners) that will jump out at you (such as “I’ve been living in the same town my whole life, now I’m cheating on my girlfriend with my ex-wife” or “And I feel like Jesus sounds”).But McGee draws real emotion out of seemingly simple lines just as well – I can’t believe how anthemic something like “Ain’t it tough, falling out of love? Ain’t it tough, tough, tough” (“Friday Night”’s huge chorus) sounds coming from him.All in all, this is easily one of the most surprising and rewarding records I’ve heard over the past few months.It’s available through Odessa Records.
This is my quickest turnaround in months – just got an email tonight from Buffalo’s Space Wolves and felt like throwin’ some of these songs yr way.This is some lighthearted & lo-fi garage/pop – packing 13 songs in under 20 minutes.Soundwise, the band isn’t too far removed from something like the great Television Personalities (singer’s “accent” is more British than Western NY too).Needless to say, the songs that last 90 seconds or longer sound like goddamn epics, even if a handful of them are about pizza or pizza flavored ice cream or other such nonsense/fun.Been through the bandcamp stream twice (it’s free yo) and will prob’ly hit it again and have another beer.If you dig it you can pick up the cassette from UT Records right here.
"No, don't call me a hero. Do you know who the real heroes are? The guys who wake up every morning and go to their normal jobs and get a distress call from the commissioner and take off their glasses and change into capes and fly around fighting crime. Those are the real heroes."
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