Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Jackson (WeatherVanes) - Wes Tucker - Olivia Mancini - Drew Gibson - Patrick Hawkins -- Iota - Dec 30th 2013

This is a fitting way fto end 2013 for me, as I am not doing an overpriced New Years Eve special at the bigger clubs. Instead, it's a New Years Eve eve show with three of my favorite singer songwriters and two other fine local singer songwriters I hope to see more of. This was a free show with each performer doing a set of 2-3 songs and quickly rotating in the '9 Series' manner started up by Justin Trawick. It was a fun time and a great way for me to get back in the swing of things after my holiday travels. A Monday between holidays meant for a small, but involved crowd. Even you have to pay such weighty amounts as $8-$12 dollars, I recommend you catch any of these performers in 2014.

Real quickly...
Patrick Hawkins - He plays and sings in Benny the Band, who are playing with the Drew Gibson Band at the Iota this Friday night. He firmly strums his guitar with a little flourish in the chord shifts and plays some nice bluesy folk music.

Drew Gibson - I have long been a fan of Drew's music and I probably should read my previous reviews to whether I noted how good his fingerstyle guitar work is. I think it was always decent, but may even be better now. You can marvel at that or just sit back and drift away with his songwriting and lovely vocal work. It is all very good. As mentioned, check him out this Friday at Iota.

Olivia Mancini - I know the name, but don't believe I have ever caught a set, previously. My loss as the five songs tonight were all easy to dig into. She has a great folk style, good strong guitar work, and a comforting voice. But best of all, is a personality that will keep you fully involved with her set.

Wes Tucker - I have seen and enjoyed Wes Tucker many times with his band 'the Skillets'. I have seen a solo outing or two and tonight's show again reminded me of his fine songwriting skills. There is much warmth in his delivery and he can handle a guitar with flair when he chooses. Solo or with band, he should be on folk-rock fans' radar.

Jackson - The WeatherVanes are an excellent Americana folk rock band. Much of that is attributed to Jackson with his songwriting, vocal skills, and multi-instrumental talents. He sticks to acoustic and harmonica here, but shows many of skills in his fine songs. What was most noticeable was his dynamic sense of rhythm and volume in his playing. He understands the drama involved in delivering a song which is a key to really making an impact on stage (in anything you do). And if you are not at the Iota on Friday, check out the WeatherVanes at Hill Country BBQ (for free).

Quote of the Day: From me... "Happy New Year" for those that celebrate the new year. To me it is just an odometer tick and a frustrating time as I write 2013 now and then for the next six weeks. I have new year celebrations all year long at birthdays, fiscal year changes (not any more), anniversary of the blog, and any other events that mean something. But however you celebrate, I hope to see you out in the clubs really enjoying the fine music that so many people are capable of providing.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Ocean Blue - Riverside -- Jammin Java - Dec 20 2013

Riverside -Brought out of semi-retirement by the Ocean Blue to play some shows out east, this venerable Philadelphia quartet seems a fine addition to the bill tonight. The twin guitar quartet starts with a core style that reminds one of Buffalo Springfield or the Byrds. They take it through 1980s style power pop (I am thinking a less intense Smithereens) and fit comfortably into the indie rock scene in recent years. It is delivered with smooth assurance that foreshadows the sound and quality that we will be getting from the headliner. Their 32 minutes whizzed by as the sold-out crowd filled every corner of the club.
The Ocean Blue - I am surprised to see this band has now been around for 27 years. Their fans that they have picked up along this long journey are filling the club tonight in this the first of two sold-out shows at the Jammin Java. The band has a high quality Americana light rock style that is clearly crossed with the mostly Mancunian British pop-rock scene of old. You can close your eyes on a couple of cuts and swear you are hearing Morrisey croon away to a latter day Smiths song. They vary the British and American styles in subtle ways and retain a strong sense of identity in the process. At times, this is a bit too light for me and I could use a stronger component in some of the songs, but I can not argue strongly against the clear quality of this band. And neither could the crowd who were relaxed but absorbed by tonight's music.

Posting of the Day: A Black Cat Facebook post yesterday... "Just to clarify: Depeche Mode are not playing here. It's a DJ night. Just like The Smiths or The Cure DJ nights are not actually The Smiths or The Cure. Those bands would never play here. They are way too big to play the Black Cat. Most of this confusion happens because of Song Kick, which is a terrible website with a lot of glitches. It is best to consult either our official website or Ticket Fly, not a third party website."

Friday, December 20, 2013

New Canada - Brothers Kardell - Night Kitchen -- The Pinch - Dec 19 2013

Night Kitchen - Back to the Pinch, which is showing some staying power as a DC club that will cater to metal, punk, and local showcases that not all of the other clubs are willing to touch. Tonight it is three area bands, the first of which is a guitar/drums duo with vocals. They start with a song that is reminding me of Roky Erickson and the Aliens... and that is because it is a cover song of Roky's. OK, these two know their music. Interestingly enough, they go into an instrumental post punk cut after that before heading back to interesting pop-rock. The club's band provided PA is at its usual low level (at least every time I am here), muffling the vocal work (true all night, but I've heard worse), so it is hard to judge the full intended effect of the music. I also hope Night Kitchen fills out their band as their music would sound better with one or two more members. The core material is quite good to work with and I hope to see them again next year.

Brothers Kardell - Another duo, this time on keyboards and guitar with both players on vocals as well. Uh-oh, I hear the dreaded drum machine and 80s synth sounds, but no, there is some great jagged post punk guitar so the first cut goes well. But then, uh-oh, they both take microphones and rap in front of a backing track. Yet through humor, clever lyrics, and energy they have me smiling and won me over by song's end. Then it is back to their instruments for a fun and highly energized set. I really enjoy when a band beats back my cynicism into submission and these guys piledrove it deep underground. They are like a crazy Adam & the Ants and remind me quite a bit of Sparks, which you don't see too often. They also can really play and keep your full attention as easily as anyone around here does. I am not sure what billings are capable of fitting in a band like this, but if people have any daring or courage, they will get these guys on their bill.
New Canada - This trio has been around a bit, under other names, but is staking out some new and interesting ground merging their older brand of outsider folk-rock with some searing psyche rock moves. It is all welcome to these ears as they began with a jam that reminded me of Swedish psyche masters, Spacious Mind. Then they wove in various heavy and lighter textures throughout their engaging set reminding me of Doll By Doll and even some twisted psyche-punk sort of songs. They had one more extreme freak-out before leaving us with a folkier rock song reminding me of the outsider folk material guitarist/vocalist Justyn has recorded in the past. Another fine night provided by this steadily growing band that is well worth a listen by people who want good music one step away from the mainstream.

Quote of the Night: From the Brothers Kardell... "I know we're doing a show, but I'd rather be watching a movie."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Goblin - Zombi -- 9:30 Club - Dec 13 2013

Zombi - Even with the obviously appropriate name, the music concocted by this Pittsburgh duo is even more appropriate a beginning to a Goblin concert. They have one man on drums with the other on keyboards and effects. They have dark symphonic songs that could work as soundtracks, but are just fine in creating an atmosphere for the large crowd tonight. They have piercing synth moves among a backing wash of sound and add more sequencers working with the live drumming as the set moves onward. They even bring out a bass for the last number which is a nice touch. Not a lot of visual excitement here, but fine music played loud and even a bit on the quick side at times.

Goblin - It took almost four decades, but Goblin is finally ready to conquer America. In fact, the first leg of this tour went so well that they booked some additional shows to round things off. Oddly enough, key member Claudio Simonetti did not make it back for this leg and tonight's show, but two additional original members are aboard. All that confusion mattered little as the two keyboardists, guitarist, bassist, and drummer put on a clinic displaying classic Italian progressive rock. The Italian prog scene was huge, although few bands ever tried to crack the US. Premiata Fornia Marconi (PFM) was my favorite as it was one of the few I heard back when I was young. Like so many others, I discovered Goblin through their brilliant soundtrack work in the horror genre, mostly with Dario Argento along with a spot in some versions of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. You could kind of tell from the vast variety of ages and types of music lovers in the crowd, that people from all generations have picked up on this band and clearly the Argento films are a big reason (a giveaway was that this was one of the heaviest male dominated crowds I have seen in a while). The crowd was fully into the band as they blazed through some songs from their albums along with themes from Profondo Rosso, Suspiria, Tenebrae, and Dawn among others. They had a female dancer come out several times and her interpretations were excellent as she did a zombie dance for a Dawn of the Dead track and reappeared as a ballerina appropriately for the Suspiria theme. They had scenes from the movies projected above and it was fun seeing David Hemmings and Jessica Harper on screen in between the blood soaked scenes. It was such a pleasure to see the keyboard players actually playing with both hands and not just twiddling switches to get the computer to do the work. The guitar was piercing in full complement to the synthesizers, organs, and pianos with the rhythm section steady and strong. This is in your face progressive music bursting with color, fueled by controlled adrenaline. It was much better than even my lightly optimistic hopes had planned on and I believe the whole tour has been going great. They finished up the 95 minute set by taking a highly appropriate Operatic curtain call with their dancer, complete with roses being delivered to the stage. This is how Italian progressive music is done.

Quote of the Night: From a Goblin... "Thanks for waiting so many years. Never say never." And then they hinted they may return.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Heavy Breathing - The Jet Age - Tereu Tereu -- Tropicalia - Dec 12 2013

Tereu Tereu - I am not sure what I remember more from the last time I saw this band, the quality music they made or the sardonic patter. They take the two-man band approach with guitar drums along with vocals from the guitarist. This is always a challenge but they are good players and good songwriters, so although I would not mind another instrument or two, they are quite successful at pulling you into their songs. I hope that guy who looks like Larry 'Bud' Melman that did a walk-on on the stage is the owner or manager here. Weird. The band keeps the pace going and is not afraid to extend a jam or two as they set the controls for the spleen of the post modern universe. That guy is back and it is an owner/manager as he's signalling lighting cues back to the booth. You know, we can see the band, all is fine, do this later, ok? Fortunately, the band keeps the mood under control and finishes off a fine set with their more rocking Sebadoh-like songs. They are well worth a look on any bill.

The Jet Age - What? No Wedding Present set to follow? Yes, these three young veterans do play other shows and it is our gain tonight. They began with a light pop ditty before roaring into more explosive power pop material. They keep the variety of pace and volume changing throughout the set, which is all the better for creating a great environment to hear their fine songs. They are still one of the best power pop rockers for bands to look up to around here. They know all the tricks and make it all seem effortless until you pay attention to how skilled their execution is. There is not much more to say, they are good, so listen.
Heavy Breathing - It took quite some time (a bit much for me) before the final local band hit tonight's stage, but the sizable crowd tonight was still raring to go for more quality music. This trio (who previously worked as 'the Apes') delivered intriguing songs that were some sort of dance-rock hybrid. At least they played songs after a five-minute monologue that actually wasn't the worst thing I've heard and a snafu between the first and second songs. Things went smoothly enough thereafter (although I missed the final bit of the set) and the crowd was still rocking. Although dance music does not excite me that much, there was plenty of muscular guitar and strong drumming while the keyboards and electronics moves were throbbing and melodic in a more interesting way than many other things I've heard. Some songs worked more than others, but this is an interesting vision that this band has at their center. I like them and I am guessing that a whole lot more people will love them. And they had lasers as you can see.

And I want to add that this was  show sponsored by two fine area blogs run by some dedicated and intelligent music lovers, ShowlistDC and Hometown Sounds. Check them both out and don't be shy about heading out to the Tropicalia. It is an below street U Street venue that is a similar size to the U Street Music Hall, but it has a mix of slick and rough within and is much more of a relaxing place with seating and plenty of space in the back.

Quote of the Night... from the Jet Age, if not me... "Ah, I'm soooo old."

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Muscle Worship - Mittenfields - Static Scene -- Velvet Lounge - Dec 11 2013

Static Scene - I was reading someone's polite FB rant about tiring of all those lists with some commenters agreeing and others dissenting saying lists are a good way of learning about whatever the subject may be. I am fine with lists as they are snapshots in time which can change immediately after they are posted. Still, there are some lists I am glad I do not keep such as my favorite 100 DC area bands. Not only would it be a nightmare to maintain, but it would create the problem of where to place an excellent newcomer like Static Scene. Clearly, they would enter the charts with a bullet and displace some veteran bands, but they need some room to grow. They are fairly new to the scene, yet only show a raw inexperience with stage patter and presentation. Musically, they have nailed down a great style with substantial songs that are easy to get into. They have a solid drummer and just two guitarists that play in a thick and heavy manner due to excellent tone choices. One guitar is fuzzy and jangly while the other has piercing tones and slide moves. I do hear some bass notes in the mix at times and am not sure how that is happening, but clearly these guys know their sound and even more importantly, something about songcraft. The vocals are on the edgy side in a Bob Pfeiffer (Human Switchboard) or Richard Hell manner (he's on my brain as I just finished his autobiography). This band should appeal to heavier indie rock fans, shoegazers, and anyone who appreciates loud quality music.
Muscle Worship - This Lawrence Kansas band thanked Mittenfields for letting them play the middle slot as they learned from their New York show, that if things run late and four local bands play first, their tired friends tend to head for the hills and the band is left with an expensive rehearsal. They are a power trio in the manner of Mission of Burma and have a highly similar noisy approach to pop, very ragged, very jagged. I also hear some of the noisy guitar moves Honor Role did live. When it did not work, they were a bit more like Crazy Horse trying to ape these bands. But for about half the time it worked extremely well as they had catchy songs with all kinds of crazy moves from guitar and bass atop the thunderous drumming. I liked the bass chords as well, although the guitarist was playing at the edge of feedback all set, and stepped over the line a few times too many. Still, a really fun set by a very interesting band. I would be happy to hear more any time.

Mittenfields - This local band always puts on a good show. With three talented guitarists and good songs, there is always something to key on. Tonight, I felt their pop rock moves from their songwriting shine through beyond the shoegaze din that they have built up in the past. Nothing wrong with a good freakout and there still is some of that, but there was even more intricacy with the guitar work on top of the solid rhythm section. This is high quality music that has great appeal for a wide audience, and this band and the others drew a nice crowd on a cold Wednesday night, so it is great to see them still going strong.

Quote of the Night... from Muscle Worship chuckling at the fans shouting for Brian for some reason... "If you put three relatively sharp guys together, they would make one big stupid guy... named Brian"

Friday, December 6, 2013

Hugh Cornwell - Dot Dash -- Black Cat - Dec 5 2013

Dot Dash - I used to always recommend going to a Kahoutek show since you were guaranteed a great set along with a very special headline band as they were always on killer psychedelic rock bills. I can say the same with Dot Dash, although you will often get a great punk or post punk band as your reward. But you will never go wrong with a Dot Dash set or tonight, I guess we actually saw Do Das. When Wire lost a member, they became Wir, so as Dot Dash are named after a Wire song, tonight the three-piece band were Do Das. They were missing lead guitar which I didn't even notice was missing until the third song. While the extra moves are nice, you were still left with solid rhythm guitar riffing, even more noticeable and fully flexed bass runs, along with the usual powerhouse drumming anchor. The songs are still as good as ever with all the hooks and the strength from the three core members. This was 39 minutes well spent, yet again, as I never find anything bad to say or anything that distracts me from the pleasure of their music.
Hugh Cornwell - The backstage was only about half full or a tad more and maybe that is due to Mr. Cornwell's frequent visits to our fair city or perhaps the lack of having the name of his famous band, the Stranglers, on the billing. But not only will Hugh give you excellent Stranglers songs during the set, he has continued to forge ahead with his music that is clearly from that Stranglers style and even has a bit more flexibility. It is not exactly the same as he plays his guitar and sings in front of rhythm section sans keyboards. This particular band he has is really tough and gritty with plenty of skill in not just holding down the beat, but throwing a few body blows into the crowd. I like a lot of the solo songs with Stranglers cuts like "Hanging Around" and "Duchess" working their way in. The nearly hour set flew by as everything was so crisp and powerful. He came back for a long encore which only dragged a tad until a jumping "No More Heroes" closed things out after an hour, seventeen. There were some jazzy moves within the rock and solid vocal work throughout. He is still a guy to see for both old and new songs, which is not something you can say about people in their fifth decade of performing. The crowd was full of mostly punk veterans and sharp music fans (and even a London travel agent who knew nothing of Hugh Cornwell but was told the Black Cat was where it's at for rock'n'roll". Like me, they really dug the 2013 version of Hugh Cornwell.

Quote of the Night: Just a few funny quips from Hugh but this quick exchange got the laughs...
"Hey Hugh, play 'unheard strangles cut'"
"This isn't a request show, pal."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holograms - TV Ghost -- DC9 - Dec 4 2013

TV Ghost - Post punk meets psychedelic rock, to put it simply. But within those genres are many layers of complexity that these five guys from Lafayette, Indiana are fully capable of exploring. They have a full set of keyboards and a vocalist that adds some guitar to the core trio of GBD. The vocalist reminds me a lot of my late dear friend, Gyn Cameron of Dementia Precox and this band shares some of that band's cool sound with a depth of warmth that is revealed in the journey you take while listening to the set. There is a lot of Echo & the Bunnymen here which is never a bad thing and when the band slows things down, I am reminded of Magazine, which does not happen often. The band subtly adjusts tempos and volumes to keep the drama and involvement high and effectively pulled in the moderate sized crowd tonight. This is a very good band that fans of any remotely creative rock music that retains comfortable roots will easily get into. They combine style and substance as well as anybody.
Holograms - If you like Iceage, I urge you to explore Holograms. They are also Scandanavian, this time from Stockholm, and employ that same fierce simultaneous merger of punk and post-punk. They have all the ferocity and hooks of fast punk music, yet explore all kinds of intriguing sonics, some from the guitar, but mostly with a small Korg synthesizer. Three guys sing and they connect with some pop-punk singalong styles in a few of the songs. Yet the music is driving, powerful, loud, and ferocious. A couple of songs started causing my mind to wander, but a majority were highly effective at providing that enjoyable energetic surge while keeping the mind active discerning the twists and turns of the instrumentation. I am happy they are over here in the US and hopefully they will continue to grow into an exciting act. It was quite clear from the crowd's body language, that this band has plenty to offer already.

Quote of the Night: From someone in the crowd to me... "Did I kick you out of your seat?"

And the answer I did not give, was 'no, I actually sat down for a couple songs to avoid where you were standing before you and your boyfriend moved to the booth in front of me to continue your gabfest and makeout session.' Actually, as much of a pet peeve this is of mine, it was actually kind of funny tonight and considerate for her to come up to me (especially as I didn't employ my usual scowl). Thankfully the bands were loud, so I only wanted to avoid the distracting sight lines. Ah, the pleasures of the public.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Previews of Coming Attractions - December 2013

TV Ghost comes to the DC9 this Wednesday, Dec 4th, opening for Sweden's Holograms.

or try French Horn Rebellion opening for Savoir Adore at Living Social, Dec 4th.

Sofia Rei brings her South American jazz explorations to the Artisphere this Saturday, Dec 7th.

Brazos plays the DC9 on Sunday Dec 15th.

Anamanguchi opens for Dillon Francis at the 9:30 Club on Dec 19th

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Black Checker has been a steadily improving local power pop band for some time now. Their new EP should establish them as a serious player in that field. Of course, serious power pop is serious fun, especially with these three guys bringing it. The drums gallop along with speedy bass lines, crunching and fuzzy melodic explosions, and vocals that some how manage to keep up and stay tuneful. The speedy cuts sound like the Nerves with a dose of the Fastbacks, while the final song has some of the pop stylings of a Grant Hart song. I expected a good record from this band, but instead they delivered an excellent record that faithfully reproduces the intensity of a live show. Many power pop bands sacrifice the power they posses on stage when they record, but not here--these six songs rock hard.

Los Angeles based singer songwriter Cate Le Bon was originally from Wales, although this music in spite of being accessible yet personal would be extremely hard to put on any two dimensional map. From New Zealand to Japan through the UK to various points in the American continents (and realistically, all six of the occupied ones), pop music has certain styles to it. Cate Le Bon pulls from many different pop areas and is not afraid to experiment as she places a ton of personality in every cut. It is not quite as intense as Kate Bush, as there is more of a laid back feeling in a majority of the songs. That has more to do to tempo as the vocals and the guitars seem to be making mysterious observations and occasionally asking a tough question or two. There is a more somber Marissa Nadler style here as well, although the electric music is quite different and does not compare well with too many bands. If you are a fan of smart music, give this a try, I think you will have a good experience. And I have enjoyed the live show as well.

Cate Le Bon comes back to DC at the DC9 on January 15th.

Songs to try first:

I Can't Help You - The jangle is light, but the pop hook is strong and avoids being overly cute.

Duke - A lot of interesting songwriting moves going on here and maybe even a teaspoon of Kate Bush.

Sisters - I love the quirky keys, guitar, and bass in this one, plus the vocals sound like Penelope Houston trying to sound like Jennifer Miro.


There is little like the magical feelings evoked by a high quality finger style guitarist. Minnesotan Kyle Fosburgh has both the technique and style to bring out a lot of emotion from the guitar strings and hollow guitar body. There are just four cuts here on this EP, but they are strong and are a wonderful entrance to his music, if you have not been there before. Although you hear a lot of the great guitarists in here as influences, I think the resulting music does land in between that of John Fahey and Robbie Basho. There is that Fahey precision and inventiveness, but he jumps on the Basho style at times by going way, way out there with throbbing drones of shifting intensities. There are three instrumentals with one song employing some fine vocals and was recorded live in the studio.

This six-song electronica EP hits all the right buttons for me, which is not easy to do in this genre. There are crazed female vocals that remind me of some of the off kilter west coast punk bands that never made it big, such as No Mercy. The electronics, drums, guitars are all gnarly and attack oriented. This is akin to combining the Coathangers with Chrome. This is crazy stuff that even has the playfulness of Devo worked into songs that sound like traffic jams.

You can see them live (if you dare) at Comet Ping Pong on Friday, December 13th.


I was initially worried this might be a rather slight entry into the psychedelic low-key Americana genre. The vocals have that otherworldly sound and the instrumentation has a slower stoned pace to it all with a lot of acoustic instruments and echoey electric guitars and other sounds. There is a very easy going, Americanized version similar to the lighter side of what Jason Pierce does with Spiriualized. That this is a strong, professional record with lovely songs will be of no surprise to the many Fresh and Onlys fans, as this band features Tim Cohen of the F+Os. And as for my worries? Never mind, this record had me wrapped around its finger from early in the second song until the final notes drifted away. It is a fine achievement.

Songs to try first:

Blinding Light - Warmth amidst the spacey landscape of this excellent cut.

Bridge of Gold - What starts out almost too slight grows into a steady psychedelic vision.

The Store - Nimble light rocker with a great refrain. This one is addictive.


There are a lot harder things to do in life than review Magik Markers records, but the challenge of trying to figure out what this music grew out of, what makes it work, and who would like it is a true test. Covering the first point, although they clearly come out of lo-fi indie rock with a strong DIY ethic, there is much more going on. I suppose some of the style can be traced back to the Velvet Underground through Sonic Youth with a songs that pull back into thoughtful quieter moments to others that blast out in fury. If you can imagine refining Teddy & the Frat Girls a bit, that may be the root of the Markers. It works because of the odd guitar lines, murky rhythms, and intense vocals. The variety of songs keeps an album as well as a live set highly engaging from beginning to end. This band has developed a solid cult of fans out there and many others have turned to safer music, but anyone who wants a challenge. And how can you resist when they recorded songs in J. Mascis's attic and used a mellotron that he has in there?

Songs to try first:

Acts of Desperation - Some of the best music comes from acts of desperation.

Bonfire - Raw garage punk that sounds straight out of an echo filled concrete garage.

American Sphinx Face - Actually don't start with story of throbbing noise, unless you are already a fan of this or V.U.'s "The Gift".

This local trio is always such a pleasant band. This four song EP is filled with instrumental guitar and drum music that manages to sound so relaxing while staying busy and engaging. It is a neat little trick and it seems that they take progressive moves and put them to pop structures. They are far more nimble than many shoe gaze bands that aspire to these kind of melodies. The resultant appetizer here will leave a tang on your tongue as you wait for more.  And that more is coming right up as…

Sansyou plays the Marx Cafe tonight, Sunday, December 1st.

This local instrumental outfit puts on intriguing sets when I have caught them in the clubs. They fill the void of several working or defunct Socket Circuits bands, with closest resemblance to Buildings. They offer even a bit more variety, which is essential when you eschew vocals, such as the shifts in pace and volume in "Boogie Worms". I particularly enjoy the sound of the bass on much of this, which approaches something akin to Gang of Four/Big Black. There still is not quite enough variety for me to enjoy this style of music in my home as much as I do live. This band is really close, but I still prefer them in the club, as here I want more from an hour's active listening. You have to be as amazing as Mogwai or Mozart to instrumentally hold my interest that long. Even a band like Mono who I love in the clubs does not make my playlists with their recordings. But if you really get off on this style of music, do buy this record as ShowPony will offer you a lot to listen to with busy fluid guitar runs, popping drum rolls and that throaty bass. They are much better than many of their peers. And by all means catch them live and you can do that at the record release party…

ShowPony plays the Galaxy Hut on Monday, December 16th.

Normally I get turned off by hype over hot, high rising fliers in the rock world, but I keep it at the skeptical level and am always willing to join in if the music is good enough. Ty Segall has pretty much lived up to the hype with everything I have heard, even with a prolific pace that that could mirror that of Jay Reatard and maybe even Robert Pollard. And like them, an editor could help make for steadier albums. But adventurous listeners want it all and he is here to oblige. Segall is off more in psychedelic folk direction with this release--something between Marc Brierley and Marc Bolan, perhaps. There are some misses here, but the hits are quite good and the overall feeling is strong if like oddball folk with a warm psyche mist permeating the music. He often has a second vocal or surprise melodic shift to add some originality to this form. Some may want to try his more rocking albums, but this is just right for me.

Songs to try first:

The Keepers - Lilting psyche folk with a Germanic/UK crossed feeling.

The Man Man - Psyche folk tune twists into a gnarly rock ending.

Queen Lullabye - Murky distant percussion with spacey vocals and churning acoustic guitar--odd and interesting.

This album is very simple… and very seductive. Female voice and acoustic guitar and precious little else enters into play in these ten songs. In fact, even the guitar work follows the simple pattern of individual note picking through the basic and repeating chord shifts. The vocals are delicate with a careful use of harmonies at various points. There is not quite enough variety here for this to be a 'classic', but the steady unvarying style does create a rich atmosphere you can get lost in for 35 minutes. So if you like something between Anne Briggs and Marissa Nadler, give Sumie a spin.

Songs to try first:

Spells You - A warm welcome with lovely voice and equally lovely acoustic guitar.

Hunting Sky - Mesmerizing guitar repetition and quietly powerful voice.

Midnight Glories - The longest cut keeps the steady momentum throughout, aided with great harmonies.

This crafty area band continues to put their creative touches on new garage pop music. There are great hooks, jangly guitars, nice harmonies and a whole lot of what you remember from the 1960s. Yet they add electronics and modern touches at key moments to keep everything clearly grounded in the present. I hear reminders of other fine bands like Hush Arbors and even Dead Meadow at times, which works for me. And unlike many albums, the good songs are not front loaded making listening to the entire album more of a chore than a pleasurable exploration. These guys keep bringing on the quality songs with further and further creative flourishes to keep you at rapt attention. I highly recommend spending some time getting to know this album, there are a myriad of pleasures to be had.

Songs to try first:

Cardigan's Fable - I like the subtle menace of the guitar lines, as the song rocks along with great depths of sound.

What If - Invitingly warm vocal line wrapped around a classic 1960s jangly guitar and spirited rhythm.

Digitalis - Incredibly psychedelic and modernly lush with killer vocals. Gorgeous song.

This band centers around San Francisco musician Tim Presley. He has done at least one record with Ty Segall, which does get your brain working in the right direction immediately. But jumping right into this Iive recording will also give you an idea of Presley's approach to combining sixties garage rock, seventies punk, and modern indie jamming hookie nuggets. I am not a fan of live albums or having every recorded performance of even my favorite bands, but they do work well enough when they capture at least some of the fun of being there. This record succeeds, because even a it sounds kind of rough, this is garage rock that works just as well (maybe better) within rough sounding environments. And it is a great place to start to become a fan of White Fence, which I consider myself now. I look forward to the next tour out east.

Songs to try first:

Swagger Vets and Double Moon - Serious garage jamming in a Chocolate Watchband meets MC5 sort of way.

Baxter Corner - A real punk sound here, yet it is 2-3 times longer than the rest of the songs at over 8 1/2 minutes. It's epic and brilliant.

Lizards First - Crazed slide guitar work doesn't stop even with melodic vocal work carrying the tune.


This is a compilation of pop music made by fifteen (mostly) California bay area bands of today, many of which sound like they exist somewhere in the 1960s. There is everything from the harmony laden, tremolo guitar sound from the early part of the decade to the dreamy psychedelia dished up toward the end. There is even a few cuts that sound like 1980s interpretations of that sound. And just a few more songs morph into the odd nomadic psychedelia of Serpent Power and Joseph Byrd and more post-punk pop projects, so there is a lot to choose from here. And like most successful compilations, it plays well on its own because of its theme and quality AND  also gives you some ideas for bands to follow or see live. This was curated by Sonny Smith of Sonny & the Sunsets who are featured here.

Songs to try first:

The Memories - Higher: This has a great lilting hook to it in that freak folk way without being annoying in that freak folk way.

Jessica Pratt - Dreams: Double tracked vocals over acoustic guitars creating a warm psyche folk environment a bit lighter than Smoke Fairies.

Burnt Ones - Premonition: Heavy twisted fun.