New Tunes from Ted Leo

Ted Leo hotHow I love thee Ted Leo.  Luckily for me, and all you like-minded fans, Ted Leo will be bringing us a new album on March 9th titled The Brutalist Bricks, his first album for Matador Records.  We’ve gotten to hear the new single, and it’s everything you’d expect from a Leo-penned tune.  The man’s no stranger to power-pop, nor classic pub-rock, and you’ll find hints of each in the workings of this new tune.  Hope you dig it like I do.


Download: Ted Leo – Even Heroes Have to Die [MP3]

Free Mixtape from Violens

violensLong time fans of genre hoppers will definitely be pleased to hear that those clever kids in Violens are dropping a free Winter Mixtape for you on their web site. This little mixtape, and it’s not that little, will probably win over fans, as the guys sing over My Bloody Valentine while playing over the Byrds. Sounds like nothing short of a guaranteed test of musical sanity.  Unfortunately, it’s a mixtape, so I can’t throw a sample up for you, but I’ll give you a taste of “Doomed,” which is remixed on this mix.


Download: Violens – Doomed [MP3]

Pants Yell! – Received Pronunciation


Rating: ★★★★☆

Amidst the world of lo-fi stands one Slumberland Records band who is willing to go against the grain.   Ladies and gentleman we present to you, Pants Yell!. Well, we don’t actually present them to you, as Received Pronunciation is the group’s third proper release.  Still, after being all over the SR catalogue this year, and I assure you, we’re still into it, we now have a new record to fall in love with as the year draws to an end.

You see, when opening track “Frank and Sandy” comes through your speaker, you’re not sure what you were expecting, but you most assuredly weren’t awaiting the haphazard delivery of the lyrics, let alone the song itself.  It just seems to sort of traipse along, ever really reaching any sort of climax.  Such restraint, however, is actually refreshing.

You can find much clarity and precision on every single song that plays through this album.  If you added heavy string arrangements, and perhaps a few more witticisms you might call this a Belle and Sebastian record.  Still, that is lazy journalism, but if I told you that they sound like a much more confident Oh No! Oh My! you would probably be a little confused.  More so, there is a particular youthfulness in this that B&S have moved beyond, perhaps even a little naivete, but such innocence, especially in the banality of the lyrics really makes the listening experience one of the most enjoyable of the last several months.  Take the humorous “Spider,” which seems like an elementary student channeling Calvin Johnson.

This album just continually seems to give back to the listener, each song seemingly a touch different then the last, while consistently staying in the same place.  Take “Someone Loves You” versus “Not Wrong,” two songs that have similarity in song structure, but the hurried percussion in the former picks up the tempo, creating a song that sounds nothing like the tune that will follow two tracks later.  And as the album draws near to an end, it all seems so familiar.  Perhaps those who fell in love with Jeremy Jay will find that they can take his promise and craft, hand it over to a set of vibrant like-minded youths, and it will come out like Received Pronunciation.

Everyone is sure to grab ahold of this band, as they are clearly ready to step into a light of their own.  Three albums into their career, and it seems that the group can’t go too wrong.  Let’s cross our fingers that Pants Yell! continue to build upon the talent and joy displayed in their latest effort, Received Pronunciation.


Download: Pants Yell! – Someone Loves You [MP3]

Hurricane Bells – Tonight is the Ghost

Hurricane_Bells_FNLRating: ★★★☆☆

Many may not remember the band Longwave, the band that bubbled just beneath the breakthrough success of bands such as Kings of Leon and The Strokes.  Working hard for years, differentiating themselves from their contemporaries, they sort of disappeared.  Yet, all along, they continued to create vibrant music with creative guitar work.  Why does this matter?  Well, at the heart of Longwave is Steve Schiltz, the core songwriter for Hurricane Bells.  He’s been collecting demos and working on fleshing out the first full-length under the new moniker; here we have the story behind Tonight is the Ghost.

One of the things you’ll enjoy the most is how soft Schiltz’s vocals are throughout his recordings, with old band and new.  It’s somewhat reminiscent of Albert Hammond Jr., but you can rest assured he has got much more range than the aforementioned character.  It’s this pleasant delivery that makes Schiltz the perfect person to go into the singer/songwriter sphere of things.

Alas, the music isn’t too far off from where you usually find him. “This is a Test” reminds you immediately, for those that are familiar, with Longwave, albeit a less grand version.  You can even tell in the harmonics of the guitar as they stretch out into the atmosphere where he’s coming from, but you can’t blame a guy for relying upon what he knows best.  Such are the opening moments of Tonight is the Ghost; he doesn’t clearly step out of the shadows of his own career.

Yet as the record progresses, you can find yourself seeing the variance in the craft of writing that Schiltz must have endured when recording this album.  “Tonight I’m Going to be Like a Shooting Star” is the first moment when he doesn’t seem to completely revolve around his writing of the past.  It’s a more direct approach to writing, as simple as it gets for this chap.  And in such a fashion, you won’t find yourself surprised when that slide guitar comes around the bend in “Freezing Rain,” though this has a different effect than the country-fied version used with so many other band across the globe. And in this moment, you realize why you really like Steve’s tunes.

The great thing about both Hurricane Bells and Longwave is that you can always clearly hear the vocals.  In a world coated with lo-fi tendencies and indecipherable lyrics, it’s rare to find a singer who puts it out there so plainly for the listener.  Subject matter is personal, and yet ultimately relatable, which allows for that connection between musician and audience, something lacking in a lot of modern musical movements.

As you would expect, the album is generally successful, though not too far off from where you find Steve in his day job.  Luckily, I like Longwave a whole lot, and so any new tune from the great Steve Schiltz never hurts these ears.  For fans like me, and music fans looking for something a little more pure, and a lot less contrived, you’ll find joy in Hurricane Bells’ Tonight is the Ghost.


Download: Hurricane Bells – Tonight I’m Going To Be Like A Shooting Star [MP3]

King Khan and the BBQ Show – Invisible Girl

kingkhanRating: ★★★☆☆

If you haven’t heard of King Khan in the last several years, you’ve probably been living in some remote region of the world, the Falkland Islands perhaps. Here we are again with another King Khan and the BBQ Show release, the more R&B influenced of Khan’s two monikers.  Invisible Girl is precisely what you would expect from the group, but the jury is still out on whether that is precisely what people are looking for from the BBQ Show.

One of the things to love about KK & the BBQ Show is just how much they can throw in a touch of soul into their stomping garage workings.  Such an endeavor could create a bit of cacophony, yet they never seem to go that route, always holding back enough to make the group seems like one of the tighteset around.  Take “I’ll Be Loving You,” a song that seems better suited for the high school proms of the late 50s.  It’s got a great vocal performance, but that beat just makes you shake something fierce.  “Spin the Bottle” is somewhat similar, mostly in the nostalgic feelings created by the incessant handclaps.

And we can’t forget the humor that makes Khan and associates such an enjoyable listen.  On “Animal Party” the narrator is hosting a party with a roomful of chickens, and yes, there are animal noises mimicked in the openingi moments of the song.  Still, the song doesn’t come off as a huge joke by any means, and once you move beyond the silliness of the lyrics and the noises, you get to the heart of a pretty solid song.

Yet there is something that doesn’t sit quite right on this album, at least for this listener.  Every song on here is easily considered a good track.  They each stand alone on their own individual merits.  But, when thrown together amongst each other, they seem to blend in together throughout the entire album.  There is a great sound here, but there is very little differentiation in the writing of the songs, so you find yourself lost in the album, trying to find your way out of the mess.  Don’t get me wrong, you can listen to this album over and over, time and time again, as I have, but at some point it blends together.

All that aside, this is just another good performance from King Khan and the BBQ Show.  Perhaps I’m expecting something entirely new and different, some sort of evolution, but that’s just my dream.  Khan has his own purpose on Invisible Girl, and while I might find that it runs together after repeated listens, it doesn’t mean it’s not better than most of what’s out there nowadays.


Download: King Khan & BBQ Show – Invisible Girl [MP3]

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