Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Who's the Daddy? Lou Barlow Reflects On Music, Money & Mascis As The Godfather

Though many of the plaudits directed at the outstanding legacy of Dinosaur Jr. are heaped on the iconic J. Mascis, his band mate and Bassmeister General - yes, that's an official military position - Lou Barlow deserves plenty of credit as well. 

In addition to that stirling contribution to 80's alternative rock, Mr Barlow went on to continue shaping music at the forefront of his next band Sebadoh during the 90's.

Now, as another decade dawns, his solo work is what occupies his current musical thoughts, when not satisfying nostalgic appetites with the resurrected, and still fantastic, output of Dino Jr. Recent track Gravitate gives an indication as to where his tastes lie, with slow, reflective builds and a characteristic fuzz to the sound, as it bursts into its groove.

MP3: Lou Barlow - Gravitate
Taken from  the 2009 album, Goodnight Unknown

Buy it at Insound!

MP3: Dinosaur Jr. - I Want You To Know (via Insound)
Taken from the 2009 album Farm

Buy it at Insound!

In a happy incidence of serendipity, the fella just gave an interview to the folks at Dirty Laundry (vid below), in which he discusses many of the points that brought him to the current output and how life is for a cult figure in rock history. Unsurprisingly down to earth, it's a pleasure to hear such a chill, uncomplicated account of music that influenced the lives of so many.

Dirty Laundry Presents: Lou Barlow Part 1 from Dirty Laundry on Vimeo.

At the same time, my plan to check out the splendiferous - another bona fide real word...definitely - Wye Oak here at the Mercury Lounge next Wednesday yields the bonus of seeing Lou Barlow headline the very same stage an hour later, so this is all clearly as fate intended. Watch out for a show review on that one and throw back to some hazy alt-rock, like Momma used to make, as you do so.

Photo Credit: Arleach

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Sunless Sundays? Solomon's Hollow Has the Remedy

Sometimes the right type of music streaming into one's home can transform the harsh reality of the world outside. So it was for me today, as the fleeting, mellow sounds of Solomon's Hollow drifted from the speakers, forming images of a warm, relaxing middle American day spent on the deck, in stark contrast to the foulness of the New York thunder storm lashing at my window panes.

With a style firmly rooted in the involute creations of songsmiths like Iron & Wine and Joanna Newsom, there's a folk bent here that rides, with confident subtlety, away from the monotone plod of some such acoustic artists. The secret  ingredient seems to lie in the attention to detail of Nate Agenbroad, the Boise, ID based creative force behind the more enigmatic musical monicker.

MP3: Solomon's Hollow - Silent Film
Taken from new album Genre Studies, released 10th November 2010

By his own admission, this gent is unable to hand over creative control, even to the point of mixing and mastering the songs himself. Perhaps to the chagrin of talented sound engineers everywhere, the results speak for themselves, with the potential of each song realised. The minute detail is wherein much of the beauty lies, the lilting harmonica that opens Dakota, or the distant vocal of Silent Film, striving to be the equal of the winding instrumentation weaving atop it, providing cases in point.

More than capable of providing escape to a calmer place, the new album Genre Studies should find plenty of listeners seeking out its tranquil landscape come the release in November. And if such conditions continue here in New York, I'll keep Solomon's Hollow as my Sunday sound track for the foreseeable future. 

Friday, 20 August 2010

Savage Understanding: The Gay Blades Tweet Their Way Back

Good time rock and roll returned to my inbox this week, with the announcement that this very borough's rock duo The Gay Blades are due to drop their sophomore bomb in a little over a month's time. Entitled SAVAGES, the record will hopefully be appropriately feral upon its release into the wild on October 10th.


Building to that date, the lads have released lead track Try To Understand and are spreading the word via Twitter. Yep, a single tweet snags their latest upbeat gem, which continues the loose, confident swagger of debut Ghosts in promising fashion. 
All reports point to a set of tunes that should cement their place as leading purveyors of trash-pop...although whether that was ever in question or, indeed, being challenged in the first place is open to debate. Whatever the genre it scales, you know it's the end of summer when you pencil in your first autumn release for purchase. SAVAGES just started that list.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Fast & Furious: Black Tusk Slam Southern Metal Into High Gear

At the recent Corrosion of Conformity 3-piece reunion, I had the pleasant surprise of catching support act Black Tusk from Savannah, Georgia. With raging, fast paced songs and playing tighter than an Italian waiter's trousers, these guys almost knocked the veterans off their expected perch of night highlight.

Their recent release, Taste The Sin, is one vicious record. Drenched in the Southern metal sound of state peers Baroness and Kylesa, Black Tusk rip out a more ferocious, unrelenting take on the style of those bands. Violent riffs compete with varyingly troubled yelps/guttural growls for attention, underlaid by a solid if occasionally unadventurous rhythm section. Whether slow, menacing sludge or slashing, breakneck metal, the attitude rarely sways from outright threatening.

Although this overbearing violence may not be to the tastes of everyone, it's an exhilarating listen when in the mood for something purely brutal. If watered down radio-metal is destroying your soul, it's well worth snagging this beauty at Amazon for $5, while the offer lasts during August.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Kyuss Unplugged? John Garcia Tones Down Some Classic Desert Rock

Here's a rather kick bottom trio of videos from UK magazine rocksound's TV portion. Featuring ex-Kyuss singer John Garcia and some supporting musicians, the charismatic voice of 90's desert rock takes the low slung groove of several classics and brings out their bare bones for a stripped down acoustic take.

Having been challenged to examine what heavy music could be by the Palm Desert quartet - who also featured one Josh Homme before he found his voice - it's intriguing to hear the reworked versions of songs that seemed to rely heavily on their earth-shaking bottom end in terms of appeal. In actual fact, the depth of the songs is released almost as well with a quieter approach and focus on the vocal. See what you think...

Monday, 9 August 2010

At Long, Long Last, New Material From Glassjaw

After touting the mooted new album from Long Island's heroes of ___-core (not just hardcore, not really metalcore, but furious to the core) Glassjaw for several years, I finally gave up this year. What better time, then, for Palumbo & crew to lament my loss of faith by returning to the fray with new material

Granted, new single All Good Junkies Go To Heaven is a vinyl-only release and no mention is yet made of any more material. But the unfathomable length of time since the outstanding Worship & Tribute, coupled with regular touring activity and new songs being played [video] in recent months, should be enough to offer hope to even us folks that had simply set their two classics on infinite repeat.

Find a ton of [approved] Glassjaw live bootlegs on their forum here

That said, until the MP3 leaks of the new track we'll still have to hold onto past glories to satiate hungry ears. To wit, here's the most raging live performance one could hope to see, of the quite brilliant Tip Your

Sunday, 8 August 2010

REVIEW: The Futureheads - The Chaos

The Futureheads have been a staple of the British rock scene for several years now, dashing a little more punk into the safer waters of indie rock music on each album. Returning with third album The Chaos, they kick off with just the same urgency inspired by that genre. Counting down '5-4-3-2-1....let's go!', the title track rides in on roller coaster guitars enthusiastically stabbing away at the rhythm section. 

After such a high energy opening, it's heartening that the familiar tones of first single Struck Dumb follow it up. With a less abrasive but equally catchy approach it continues the anthemic, sing along start to the album. Followed by album highlight Heartbeat Song, 2.5 minutes of bounding, happy-go-lucky melodic punk, there's an undeniable momentum building by this point that's pushing the album in all the right directions. 

MP3: The Futureheads - Struck Dumb
Taken from new album The Chaos, out now

Buy it at Insound!

Though none of the pace is lost with the enjoyable Stop The Noise and the eccentrically vocalized The Connector, the latter section of the album does drop off somewhat. This front-loading doesn't ruin the whole by any stretch of the imagination, but songs like This Is The Life and Jupiter do slip by all too easily, making this one fall short of remarkable. 

That said, I've returned to The Chaos on several occasions since first hearing it and the choice cuts linger long in the memory thanks to short lengths and snappy hooks. Despite not quite fulfilling its potential, there's plenty to have fun and sing along to here.

Another strong set from the Sunderland lads or a dip in form? Speak your brain via the comments or old Facebook...

Upcoming tour dates for The Futureheads

Sat 14 Aug 2010

LeeFest, UK

Sun 15 Aug 2010

Summer Sundae Weekender - Leicester, UK

Fri 20 Aug 2010

Castle Calling - Yorkshire, UK

Sat 28 Aug 2010

Leeds Festival, UK

Sun 29 Aug 2010

Reading Festival, UK

Sat 11 Sep 2010

Harvest at Jimmy’s - Suffolk, UK

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Go West: Olin & The Moon Speak To Our Inner Cowboy

Hailing from England, I have no native reference points or equivalents to the great American West. Dustbowl cowboy towns and frontier outposts spring up much less naturally on small, rain swept islands, making the closest comparison, at best, the farming locales of our West country. And if you can make a link between our beloved Wurzels and cowboys then you're a better anthropologist than I.

Perhaps, then, this absence explains the allure of some with Westerns and the dusty alt-country that so befits them. Perhaps this suitably explains why bands like Idaho's Olin & The Moon can weave music that captures that soul of those locations so splendidly. 


As recommended by friend/SXSW heroine of H-T-A Darci Spiker, the band is now based in Los Angeles to be at the heart of the West coast's musical world - not dissimilar to their East coast could-be-brethren Chris Cubeta & The Liars Club here in New York - the music still reverberates to the spirit of the Old West.

Tracks like Friend of Feeling Good speak to the hedonism of the saloon culture, whilst Drivin' West is perfect for exactly what it suggests. The alt-country sound seeps into most aspects of the music, with a sun-drenched atmosphere and clear twang to the vocals. Most importantly, an earnest attitude pervades each and every song, something which connects me to a band much more instantly than enormous hooks...not that I'm against that sort of thing either, of course.

BlankElectronic press kits

Olin & The Moon are currently preparing the release of their new album Footsteps later this month, so you'd be well advised to get in there now to gain a handle on their previous work. Tour dates may be thin on the ground at the moment but promotional activities are sure to pick up during the autumnal months, so do as I've been advised to as they roll through your town: "Put on yer boots, get a can of Pabst & have fun."

What to do if one owns no such boots, however....?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Streaming Conciousness: Lollapalooza 2010

As I type this, The New Pornographers are serenading my living room from a sunny Chicago stage...ain't technology wonderful? 

Yes, it's still very much festival season and the the ever present streaming content is off in full force from Lollapalooza, the legendary fest that used to tour North America but now resides in Chi-town's Grant Park. AOL is the provider this time from their Lifestream, with the weekend's shenanigans currently set to beam to your PC screen as follows (all times Central i.e. GMT- 6hrs):


4:00 - The New Pornographers
5:00 - The Walkmen
6:00 - Hot Chip
7:00 - Chromeo
8:00 - Dirty Projectors
9:00 - DEVO


1:45 – Blues Traveler
2:45 – Against Me!
3:45 – Gogol Bordello
4:45 – Rogue Wave
5:45 – Social Distortion
6:45 – Slightly Stoopid
7:45 – Jimmy Cliff
8:45 – Spoon


2:00 – The Cribs
3:00 – Mumford and Sons
4:00 – Yeasayer
6:00 – MGMT
7:15 – The National
8:30 – Green Day

Some good looking performances going out there, particularly on Sunday. To whet your appetite, here are all the free MP3's I could gather together from the acts being broadcast. Who's going to get you tuning in?

>> All via Insound, click the band links for releases.

Spin magazine also has a decent mixtape with cuts from some of the other acts, including Dirty Projectors, Social Distortion, and The Temper Trap. Get that here.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The Great Give Away: Dead Confederate & J. Mascis Get Sweet

One of our Ten For 10 bands way back at the turn of the year, raw Southern rockers Dead Confederate are on their way back to action this month with a new tour and album in the offing. 

Less overtly raucous - and more in keeping with the sweet title of their next effort - lead track Giving It All Away holds onto the loose bombast of their sound whilst putting more emphasis on the riff than the bluster. Unsurprising, perhaps, given the involvement of alt-rock overlord J. Mascis and his love of all things fuzzily melodic.

MP3: Dead Confederate - Giving It All Away
Taken from the new album Sugar, out August 24th

Buy it at Insound!

Quite where they head with the new album will be anyone's guess, as if you've experienced the maximum adrenaline of the band's live show then  the accessibility of this new track may be something of a surprise. 

With an accomplished swagger and the right production, though, it's perfectly possible that Dead Confederate will pull something of a scorcher out of the bag. Roll on month's end...