Thursday, July 31, 2014



It is always hard to knock such a pleasant pop rock album as this, so I won't… with explanation. The female vocals succeed as they dance around the melodies with conviction and innocence. The music is steady, dreamy in spots and firmly in a rock mode in others. It just does not quite have that grab you and never let go feeling to it, but rather sits comfortably aside. That may keep it from getting frequent relistens from me, but should still garner enough fans of this style that will happily come back for more and more. I am interested enough to keep my ears open for them either on tour or for future records.

Songs to try first:

Adult Diversion - The opening cut has a highly agreeable hook to dig into.

Party Police - Delicately plucked guitar intro moves into bright pop rocker.

Red Planet - Dreamy fade-out song with more of an electronica vibe.


Brother Dege has that sort of Denver sound which I am quite fond of--rustic rural dark and twisted Americana, with hefty rock moves within. These are mostly originals but there are two wild covers of Black Sabbath and Husker Du's 'Powerline', which are quite recognizable despite the strong instrumental changes. It is a grab bag of an album, with nine songs and ten additional demos and field recordings. Actually, the demos interested me more with better songs and singing and a fine psyche-folk vibe. The finished cuts have strong instrumental work, but the singing is a bit more erratic. But you will get all kinds of interesting music here to form your own opinion. Brother Dege has some rather intense visions and they occasionally work their magic in musical form.

Songs to try first:

Tower of Babel - With a banjo that sounds like a sitar and DEE style vocals, this one works well.

Supernaut - Yes, this is the Black Sabbath song done on banjo and acoustic guitar.

Jones for War - Listed as a demo, this sounds more complete than many of the other cuts.


There is a rather nice style to this odd little pop record. The vocals stand away from the music, which mixes a light touch with odd melodic twists where everything is a wee bit off kilter, but not so that you would notice if you sat back and let the music flow. There is electronic pop present in many songs although it has that same straddling style of odd and comforting. Normally, this style is a challenge for me, but there was something oddly moving here. I am glad I heard these eleven songs carving out an oddly shaped corner in this world. And EDJ is Eric D. Johnson of the band Fruit Bats.

Songs to try first:

Odd Love - Odd indeed, as this has an edgy dreamy quality as it meanders down a familiar path with more jagged moves within.

Minor Miracles - The synth works some intriguing patterns around the piano, vocals, and drums.

Mostly Just Like Fantasies - Nice percussion including the rarely used steel drum.


This new local band features some of the fine players from North of Canada. There are seven songs here on this short LP/long EP which gives just enough room for them to try out a few different ideas. There is brisk hook laden power pop followed by contemplative post-punk indie rock. They move around their style a bit, but never sound too radically different, which is a good way to explore interesting sonic terrain while retaining your personality. I particularly enjoyed the snappy Wire like guitars in "We Will Create our Own Reality", although the vocals are much more American (nothing too terribly French here). Although I need to note the serene sounds of the closer as it slightly clashes with ambient particles is a fine way to finish this interesting set of songs.

Sadly, I am booked, but you should head out to the Rock'n'Roll Hotel this Saturday night, August 2nd. It should be a fun night, as record release shows usually are.


The opening cut of this local band's new album hits you in the face with some really oddball pop moves. It is a wake-up call, but you can quickly settle back and here and enjoy a wide variety of pop styles and pace. There is a little something for everyone. It won me over about half way through as there was enough evidence here to show me that this band worked out some interesting arrangements that challenged the norm and payed off with something that retained pop charm, while being edgy and personal. This is not easy to do in pop music. And although this is a new band, their musical roots are steeped in experience, which is none too surprising, given the quality here.

QUICKLY! Go see them tonight, Thursday, July 31st at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel.

Songs to try first:

Use Your Words - A crafty little pop tune here.

Rooftop - A quieter pop song that has a little indie folk within and lovely vocals out front.

Cosmopolitan - I can't tell if i love the smoothly flowing bass, the jagged guitar, or the crisp snare shots. OK, the vocals also work. Great tune.


Is this slacker pop music? I think these kinds of bands have been around a while and I could try to name names, but this really is not an area of interest for me (OK, the press release says 'like Pavement meets Sparklehorse and Yo La Tengo' and that probably is pretty accurate as I have never delved much into those three bands, although I tried on two of them). I did enjoy the short little blast of garage rock that they called "Refrigerate Her". Plenty of people will take to this UK band. I am with those that like the oddball rockers more than the quirky folk or light indie styled songs.

Songs to try first:

Refrigerate Her - Really cool rocker clocking in at 1:18. Maybe another 20 minutes of this, and we'd have a winning album.

Anything I do is Alright - OK, here's where they stretch out their rock moves into something really cool.

Monkey in the City - The closer is low-key, but has a vibe that if you like it, you may like all 13 cuts.


Matt Kivel takes a laid back approach in delivering these songs. Clearly, there is method and thought behind this choice as this sort of delicate music with just the right amount of edge requires a specific vision. He has combined indie rock with dream pop in a way that subverts enough of the cliches of each to make this more listenable than I thought would have been possible. You may need to listen to all fourteen songs for the full effect to work. Otherwise it may sound a little slight and uncertain. But taken as a whole, he has crafted a soft and likable world for his songs and carefully placed instrumental interludes.

Songs to try first:

Underwater - An interesting merger of dream pop and indie rock.

Insignificance - Nice crunch in the guitar offsets the soft vocals and carries the tune along.

You and I Only - This is the catchiest song retaining the overall breezy style of the album.


The singer songwriter genre is a tricky one. The defining traits seem to have more to do with the artist presenting his songs with more personal involvement than that of a band. The key for success is pretty much the same as any band, but the stakes seem higher. Not that Jesse Marchant has to worry about any of this. it does not take long into this album, before most listeners will realize they are listening to a major talent. He has the warmth of Josh Ritter with both the vocals and the songwriting, but he adds even more excitement with Tim Buckley style shifts such as on Buckley's classic 'Goodbye and Hell'o' (He's not up to 'Starsailor' yet, but give him time). Fans of Bill Callahan should also take to this, although the sound is different, the powerful atmosphere is quite similar. Suffice it to say, that Jesse Marchant is a strong voice in songwriting as well as a talent in the presentation of his songs.

I am sooo looking forward to Jesse Marchant's visit to the DC9, this Wednesday, August 6th

Songs to try first:

Words Underlined - The opener shows Marchant's ability to take control of a song with his strong vocal abilities.

In the Sand - Gutsy rock workout with unique structures and an amazing shift late on.

Snow Chicago - Dreamy organ behind acoustic guitars create the appropriate atmosphere.


We have a four song electronica EP from a local duo. While I can be a tough sell on electronic pop music, these two delivered great sounds and songs that fit comfortably in my world. They did it with attractive soaring female vocals on top of thick sounds that have both power in the synthesizers along with guitar parts that work the heavy side as well as the dreamy. It is not too surprising that there is fine guitar work here as the 'Me' in the title is Michael from one of my old favorites, Oh So Peligroso. This is a fun listen and the live set looks to have great potential as well.

Join me in seeing Me and Karen live an on stage at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel for a fun Friday night, August 8th.

I was not so sure of this record at first. The vocals were dreamy with space and echo throughout, but the music was a bit of a mishmash between dream pop and indie rock in ways that did not always work. By album's end, it began to make a little more sense, at least in the songs that had a strong melody and some fascinating rhythms and counterpoint melodies. I am quite sure this is not at the top of my playlist, but it is worth further consideration and hints at a whiff of an intriguing live show where the contrasts may be played up in a more fascinating manner.

Songs to try first:

Horizons - This has a strong rhythmic pulsation undercutting the melody. A well honed edge.

Always - Dreamy vibe flows with just the right amount of strength.

Observations - Nice pop tune that rocks enough, too.

Get ready indeed, as these ten songs bounce around the style room with the pace of a superball. It is all pop music for sure, but the guitars zig and zag in various patterns as lush textures sit beside sharply honed rock edges. Male and female vocals alternate or combine, percussion bounces around, and songs keep exploring different terrains and textures. It is all a bit much at times for me, but it is fun when something connects, which happened a few times. Heady pop music fans should check this out as this audacious band is calling out to you. Yes, you.

And why not head out to the DC9 this Friday August 1st to see this band live and in person?

Songs to try first:

Rainbow - Strange contrasts of cute airy vocals and buzz saw guitar runs.

Crueller - Dreamy vocals with jagged guitars and noisy counterpunches.

Sooooooooon - Punchy rhythms create yet another style shift for the band.

It's the 1960s all over again, for many bands that want to explore some of the familiar genres of that time. In this case it is pop music with the dreamy psychedelic overtones that the Zombies among others so successfully employed. The harmonies employed here remind me of that along with various psyche-folk bands of that era, such as the Folklords. This is all pretty good, but it gets a little 'samey' as it goes on. A bit more work on the details of the songs and variance of pace and volume may help. The vocal work is steady and occasionally hits heights worth going back to. They are on the right track and there are some lovely songs among the 14 on the is album.

Songs to try first:

Ruby - The acoustic guitar takes this into the psyche-folk realms and they do well there.

Now I Understand - A snappy beat punctuates the pop hooks and the brisk music and lush harmonies work very well together.

Always There - Guitar work conjures up that familiar desert landscape while the vocals stay lush and airy.

If you don't like the proliferation of popsike bands coming on to the scene, then you may not want to spend time with this album. But for the rest of us who continue to welcome bands that combine the 1960s elements of catchy pop music with the psychedelic happenings of the time, then we say bring it on! Skygreen Leopards have all the right moves with stoned and dreamy vocals washing their way over lighter guitars, steady rhythms, and organ jabs. There are some serious Roger McGuinn guitar tones in many of the songs, which is always welcome to my ears. I am not sure the tunes are quite up to 'Temples standards', but they are warm and comforting. And they certainly will be on my replay stack for some time to come.

Songs to try first:

Love is a Shadow - Nice use of acoustic guitar and haunting farfisa organ set the tone for a great pop tune.

WWIII Style - Jabbing guitars and snares punctuate this smooth pop rocker with a lilting chorus.

Reno Wedding - Great garage guitar sounds as this rocks out a bit more than most of the cuts.

Alex Brown Church is the man behind Sea Wolf. His music here is an intriguing blend of folk moves with dream pop and electronica ambiance. The vocals are highly personal with the right amount of anguish and introspection to not bludgeon the listener. The acoustic guitar work is striking with most of the sounds cottony and enveloping. Generally, I look to be transported out of my mood and into the artist's songs with deeper folk music and I was successfully pulled in early and often here. The other aspect which worked so well as the increased intensity and shift into pop rock as the album went on. This slow and steady build was that of a fine screenplay that fully satisfies in the end. This is smart music for peoples of all intelligence.

Songs to try first:

Rams Head - Fine combination of dream pop atmosphere with a deep personal folk tune.

Bavarian Porcelain - Flat out great song.

Visions - A somewhat epic closer that this album smartly built toward.

This band that is not afraid to occasionally go heavy while shooting for catchy psychedelic pop songs. And better still, this band knows how to play with textures, volumes, and tempos while staying within a personal style. I almost wish for a bit more heaviness as they do it so well, but I can't fault them as their dreamy textures work well with the offsetting rhythms and sounds they cook up so as not to sound too settled. There are guest bands working with them on some songs, most notably the Flaming Lips (with Wayne Coyne producing, not much of a surprise), although there is not a clear discernible difference in those songs. This is a good modern psychedelic record that will definitely get more spins here.

Songs to try first:

The Chrome Children - The opener is an attractive cut with a powerfully throbbing backing.

Hate Me Tomorrow - Thick sludgy psyche with airy portions working alongside. Fascinating concoction.

Screaming - The Flaming Lips guest and help create a punchy, yet dreamy atmosphere.

This six song EP will have you back in your time machine to some time around 1975 when music on the radio rocked in a pleasant, agreeable way. There are strong chords, clear melodies, clean expressive vocals, atop a sturdy rhythm section. It is a bit too mainstream for me most times, but the wailing lead guitar that even operates beneath the vocals at times, is what makes this interesting at times. Joe Vallina is local and he can likely 'bring it' in the clubs, although I have not tested that theory yet. Definitely for the fans of 1970s rock'n'roll.

Thankfully it was not a Freudian slip when I accidentally typed 'Shite Fence' as I started this review. Instead, White Fence works the modern psychedelic terrain with confidence and just enough good songs and songs to stand out from the crowd. And I knew all of this already, as this is not the first record of Tim Presley's I have heard under the moniker White Fence. He knows this style well and continues to prove it on his fifth White Fence album. The west coast guitar work is key with the Byrdsian/Love moves. HIs vocals are decent enough and the band rocks in a languid but efficient style. The really good songs will click with you instantly and all fourteen play through quite well. This isn't as monumental as Lover, but few bands hit those heights anyway. There is enough here for me to continually dig in while awaiting the next.

Songs to try first:

Sandra When the Earth Dies  - Has a Ray Davies gone wyrdpsyche vibe to it.

Wolf Gets Red Faced - Jangly guitar works off of intriguing leads, tapping percussion, and smooth vocals. Yum.

Fear - Not the John Cale song (or the 'fade to awful' LA band), but a lighter, jangled out psyche rocker that is quite moving.

This is a rather pleasant pop band, that may be just a wee bit too blandly pleasant for my liking. The female vocals are nice and the music never threatens with anything more than competent delivery of textures for the melodic and dreamy vocal work. Although I use the word pleasant, clearly the vocals dig deep and evoke some thoughtful imagery. It all plays well, but does not really move me to listen much more. But if you like cool, yet emotive English music, this may well find a way into your collection.

Normally I have pretty good idea of what I am going to write about a record half way through the first song. Sure, things change as I listen to it all, but the genre is often easy to spot. Here, Yonatan Gat has me mystified pretty well through all of the six songs. First off, it is recorded live and raw. It has the quality of a high end bootleg and thankfully there is enough quality to pick out most of the busy work this band is engaged in. It is mostly instrumental with thunderous percussion, keyboards, and guitars playing some sort of world jazz-rock with ethnic folk roots. In fact, he does cite jazz influences as well as rock and wanders between middle eastern and western styles. Fascinating and well worth exploring further.

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