The Parting Gifts – Strychnine Dandelion

Rating: ★★★★ ·

It’s not like Greg Cartwright is new to the game of rock n’ roll, but he manages to continuously add the tiniest tweaks to his sound, crafting solid album after album.  This time around, we find Greg joined by Coco Hames of the Ettes to form The Parting Gifts.  Their new release, Strychnine Dandelion, is all over the map, but it lives in a place of nostalgic sound, harkening back to the 60s, twisted through a bit of gritty garage influences.

Pressing play on this LP will probably excite you, as it should, but don’t let “Keep Walkin” fool you.  Jangling garage pop with a catchy chorus definitely makes this song a winner, yet you’ll find that as the record unfolds this song is sort of a one-off, as its the most modern sounding track on Strychnine Dandelion.  Still, the more you proceed with your listening, the more other gems will unfold before you.

Cartwright channels his inner Tom Waits on “Strange Disposition” scratching at his throat to release his vocals over the piano-laden track.  As the guitar drifts in and out of focus, you clearly get the sense that Greg’s in full control of his gifts at this point in his career.  “Shine” really wins you over with the couplet of “I’ve been saving my best lines/for when her eyes meet mine.”  Sonically, the song definitely gives a nostalgic nod to classic country-tinged rock of yesteryear.  Guitar soloing adds an extra bit of class to the track as well.

Let’s not forget that Coco Hames plays the foil to Cartwright in The Parting Gifts. Abundant nostalgia leads to the group to calling upon the girl-group sound during “Born to be Blue.”  It’s a subdued track, with the focus on Hames as she finally takes the lead all on her own, while Gret coos some monosyllabic sounds in the background. She furthers this sound on “Sleepy City” where her pitch definitely has a sultry innocence that makes the tinkering piano seem obsolete, instead letting the listener be drawn in by her voice, which has hints of a classier Neko Case. We shouldn’t forget that her role throughout Strychnine Dandelion also works great juxtaposed against Greg’s.

The closing moments of Strychnine Dandelion don’t make following the musical shifts less enjoyable. The records title track, “Strychnine Dandelion” has a twirling in the clouds arrangement, using strings to further the sound of The Parting Gifts, while that tiny hint of piano allows Cartwright to control his slight warble to great effect.  And then Coco returns to close it all out for us with “This House Aint a Home.”  She’s got a bit more of a country chanteuse on this number, once again displaying the band’s ability to wander all over the map, musically speaking.  Up to this point, the band has covered a great deal of territory, from country rocker to barroom ditty to garage pop, giving us all a bit of everything we love, in both current and past sounds.  That factor, along with the fact that they offer up 15 tracks, allows listeners to traverse the annals of musical history, done to perfection by The Parting Gifts.


Download: The Parting Gifts – Keep Walkin [MP3]

New Music from The Dears

It seems like the Dears are one of the most under appreciated bands in Canada, and we’re always hoping that they’ll make a huge breakthrough Stateside. Their latest effort, Degeneration Street will be hitting the streets on February 15th via Dangerbird Records, and everything we’ve heard so far has us once again delighted about the possibilities from their forthcoming album.  It’s not even fair to compare these guys to anyone, as they never cease to reinvent themselves, for better, time and time again.  Definitely going to be loving this track for months to come.


Download: The Dears – Omega Dog [MP3]

New Tunes from Chikita Violenta

Typically we think of Arts & Crafts as the label of Canada, but it seems that they’re really into NAFTA, as they’ve just picked up Mexican band Chikita Violenta.  In preparation for a crazy January, A&C has added Chikita’s release of TRE3S to the slot for January 25th.  Listening to this first single, it definitely has the feel of early Broken Social Scene, with spastic vocal bursts working diligently over spliced guitar lines and crazy hooks.  We’re super excited about this release, and we hope that once you hear them, you’ll follow our lead with the band.  You can check the band’s SITE for a 2 song mini-single, one which is kicking off the jams below.


Download: Chikita Violenta – Tired [MP3]

More New Tunes from Bubblegum Lemonade

Man, we really thought that we had our end of year list set, but then our favorite label, Matinee, jumps up to remind us about this amazing gem. Scottish band Bubblegum Lemonade are releasing their newest next week, titled Sophomore Release.  The latest single isn’t straight power-pop, but harkens back to a more innocent folk-influenced sound, kind of like a more kick ass version of Sonny and the Sunsets.  Seriously, if you’re looking for one last record to complete your collection for the year 2010, this better be on it, or else you’re in trouble.  You can pre-order this release HERE.


Download: Bubblegum Lemonade – You Only Leave Twice

New Tunes from Eulogies

It’s been a bit of time since we’ve heard from Eulogies, but worry no more folks, as the band are gearing up for a new release.  After a bit of time, they’ll return January 18th with Tear the Fences Down on Dangerbird Records.  This first single layers vocal melodies atop vocal melodies, while sharp drumming fuels the rest of the band along.  One thing I do like immediately is that the song doesn’t seem stuck in the mindset of the last album, which I liked, but progression never hurts a soul.  This is definitely something you’re going to want to keep your eye on as we break into 2011; January already looks ridiculous!


Download: Eulogies – You Hide [MP3]

New Tunes from Wet Wings

When you come across bands from New Zealand, you automatically expect to have some sort of knifing guitar line, but that’s not the case at all with Wet Wings.  The group has a much quieter approach to writing their music, as if they’re high upon some cliff, watching as the waves slowly crash upon the shore.  It’s quite, gentle, and unassuming, but beautiful all the same.  Their Skin to Soil EP (tape) is full of such moments, filling the space with timeless beauty one begs for on those quiet days at home.  Give this a try, if you’re in the need of rest and relaxation.


Download: Wet Wings – Whisper Always [MP3]

New Tunes from Minks

You know that we’re fans of the NY label Captured Tracks, and they’ve just lined up another solid release coming our way January 11th.  Minks will be releasing their record, By the Hedge, and while many people have had the band on their radar for some time, it seems like their star can only grow larger nowadays.  Personally, this definitely has a Sarah Records feel to it, with a bit of coated jangling going on, using warm male/female vocals counterparts to smear gentle pop harmonies all over your speakers.  Looks like January 11th is going to be a sweet time for good tunes. Agree?


Download: Minks – Cemetary Rain [MP3]

New Tunes from White Fence

This year I fell in love with the work of Darker My Love, and I’m happy to report that one of the gents in the band, Tim Presley, will be releasing some more work on his own under the name White Fence. Said record, titled …is Growing Faith, will hit the streets on January 10th from Woodsist, and your definitely going to enjoy it, at least from what we’ve heard so far. The first single has a bit of lo-fi, but like DML, it definitely has more nostalgia to it, going back to the past when melodies meandered in the plains, so get behind this early.


Download: White Fence – Lillian (Won’t You Play Drums)

New Tunes from Daniel Martin Moore

After releasing the excellent, and oft overlooked, Dear Companion with friend Ben Solee, Daniel Martin Moore is set to release his own new effort, In the Cool of the Day, on January 18th.  The album will once again be released by our good friends over at Sub Pop, and we know that it’s going to be something special.  Daniel definitely has that traditional folk feel, using various string instruments to add textures on the album’s single “Dark Road.”  Moore sounds wise beyond his years here, and we look forward to see his hard work finally come into the light for the masses.


Download: Daniel Martin Moore – Dark Road [MP3]

New Tunes from Tyvek

After releasing their latest release, Nothing Fits, last week, these Detroit bros are out to set the record straight, and get you pumped about the whole affair.  Tyvek have just released a new MP3 today, and it’s just another reason that those in the know are getting stoked on the band.  Put the bunny hats aside, and you’ve got a power-fueled record that will definitely get your heart pumping and your feet stomping.  If you haven’t gotten to know this band yet, now is your chance, so don’t miss out on the latest beast from Detroit.


Download: Tyvek – Underwater To [MP3]

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