Sunday, September 19, 2021

 Rich Arithmetic

You Are Always Right/Up To You single

Self Released


These two indie rock/folk songs also have a touch of the Beatles to them, one reason they're so enjoyable to hear. The A Side is nicely bouncy, and the B Side speeds by smoothly.


The lyrics are about romantic ups and downs: contemplative on “Up To You,” bemused on “You Are Always Right,” and the tone gives the songs a lot of substance. More good music from Rich. Everything I've heard from him is great.

Andrea Weiss


 Jim Basnight with the Rockinghams

4 Singles

Powerpopholic Productions


These four singles are nicely punky and, in the case of “Python Boogaloo,” cool blues/punk. They're also pop, and very good pop, at that.


“Python” is about being a cool cat. “Played A Trick” and “Uncertain” are romantic relationship songs. The first two are a lot of fun to hear, and with “Uncertain,” you feel for the couple.


“Ho Chi Minh” is a bit more serious. It could be about a Vietnam vet going back there, a Viet Cong soldier going home, experiencing the war secondhand, or a bit of all three. All the characters think the city is the place to go party, and they could be right. This is the most pop of the singles and has a nice flow.


Taken together they're a good lead-in to Jim's new album, Makin' Bacon, featuring the Rockinghams. They're a lot of fun to rock out to.

Andea Weiss


Sunday, September 5, 2021

 Lung

Come Clean Right Now

Sofaburn Records


The new album from the duo of Kate Wakefield on electric cello and Daisy Caplan on drums expands their sound from their last album, All The Kings Horses.


Some songs are political, like “Sugar Pill”, and give voice to the unease around us right now. Then there are songs about romantic and sexual obsession, like “Air”, which hit even harder than the political songs. Whoever Wakefield is pining away for, they should go to her; she wants them, she'll be good for them, so let's do it.


Wakefield has outfitted her cello to play like an electric guitar. It is a very good sound, a unique one, and Caplan's powerful drumming augments it well. And all without any pretensions whatsoever. For all the art-punk here, they don't put on airs. They are just honest, direct, clear, and emotional in all the right ways, like not going overboard with it.


If I could write a Top 10 list now, this would be a strong contender for Album of the Year. That's how good it is, so I'd get it, and hear something wonderful and truly different.


Andrea Weiss

Friday, September 3, 2021

 I am a longtime Bangles fan, and was into them before they started having hits, so when I heard The Lunar Laugh, I immediately heard an update of All Over The Place, one of the Bangles' best. I was thrilled about that, as I’d wondered what The Lunar Laugh would sound like. Now I do, as will you, if you want to hear it, and if you are a Bangles fan this is a must hear.


Jared Lekites of the band was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.


Andrea Weiss: Could you give a short musical history of the band?


Jared Lekites: Connor and I began playing shows together with just us and two acoustic guitars. We'd play a handful of songs I had from my solo releases and some covers we both liked like Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel... stuff that works with two guys harmonizing, basically.


I recorded the bulk of the Apollo album by myself with session guys. Connor only sang a couple of backgrounds on it. One day Graham Colton, who was the main producer on that, suggested that instead of it being another solo outing for me, I should put a band together and give this thing a name. I had just happened to have heard the phrase "the lunar laugh" on the Cosmic Sounds: The Zodiac album the evening prior and I thought it would be a good band name. I took it as a sign and it became The Lunar Laugh from that point onward.


Campbell was introduced to us by his cousin who happened to be backing up Connor and I in our live full band performances at the time. Campbell needed a group to record for an engineering class he was taking in school and we volunteered for that because it meant free studio time for us. We all got on well and we could tell he had talent. Not long after that, Connor suggested we expand the team to a trio and invite him to join us.


Since then, the focus of the band has been the three of us being the main singer/songwriters and then whomever is orbiting around us at the time.



AWWho are your influences?


JLWe all listen to a lot of music and we each have our share of favorites. I'm one of the biggest Beatles nut-jobs you'll ever find. I love just about anything from the 1960s. That's my favorite era for music. But I also am fond of country music, particularly Garth Brooks. He was the reason I wanted to make music in the first place. He changed my life. I think the Brian Wilson influence is fairly evident in the way we stack vocals.


I know Connor likes Blink-182 and folkier things like The Head and The Heart and Penny & Sparrow. Meanwhile, Campbell's into The Flaming Lips, Prince, P-Funk, Bowie and such. But we can all get into what each other is into, as well. I think that's why the collaboration works so well.



AW: I hear a bit of All Over The Place era Bangles in the music--that is, folk/rock with some garage rock in it. Is that type of music an influence?


JL: The Bangles are definitely in my top 5 favorite bands. I even thanked them in the liner notes for Apollo because I kind of modeled what I wanted our sound to be after what they did. I sometimes get a little miffed when they end up on those lists of "best female bands," because, while they totally deserve the praise, I think they are one of the best bands regardless of their gender. The way they managed to meld together their hardcore 60s influences and still keep them modern enough for the MTV generation is certainly admirable, too.



AW: The lyrics also seem influenced by folk/rock, say, Roger McGuinn. Would you say that's your overall style?


JL: When I write lyrics, I want them to be able to stand up on their own, apart from the music. I want the same thing for the music, for the tune to stand up on its own without lyrics, so I just try to make them as strong as I can. They're often introspective, because I'm working from my own experiences. I keep reworking lyrics until I feel like there's no better way of putting them together. Bob Dylan songs like "When I Paint My Masterpiece" or "Tangled Up In Blue" really fascinate and inspire me.



AW: Why put out a live album? To give an overview of the band, and also sum things up?


JL: It was one of those projects that we would always talk about. We had several shows recorded for our own amusement, but also because we had that possibility of doing a live album on the back burner. Once the pandemic hit and we had to cancel our tour plans, we decided the time was right. We had three studio albums out and we knew we had enough shows recorded that covered all that material and more.


We are lucky to have a sizable following outside of our home country. There are places like Spain, Sweden, Japan, and Australia that we have never been to before, but they know us there and they know our music. We don't know how long it will be before we ever get a chance to visit those places, and since they haven't yet had a chance to see us, we wanted to give them a chance to hear us performing. I think a live album also makes for a nice souvenir after a show, so it is going to be nice to have these discs at our merch booth.



AW: I like the covers. What made you decide on Death Cab For Cutie's "Soul Meets Body" and Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man?"


JL: Our cover choices are typically spontaneous choices. Those are the two that we just happened to have decent recordings of. I think they both stemmed from the same outdoor show where we had to play two sets, so we were pulling in as many songs as we could, because we only had a couple albums under our belt at the time.


We had been doing "Solitary Man" for a while because it's a nice rocker and it always gets a favorable response. The Death Cab tune was something we chose to do with Chase Kerby, who was our special guest on that show.



AW: Could you say a few words about upcoming albums? I think I'd like your studio albums just as much as this live one.


JL: We have a ton of material that we are sifting through to record. We aren't sure when it will be finished or when it will come out just yet, but we all really like the handful that we have so far. Hopefully the wait won't take too long.



AWWhat would you tell someone just starting out in music?


JLSurround yourself with people who impress you, and work only with people who impress you. You are only as good as your weakest link.

 The Lunar Laugh

Nighthawks!

Big Stir Records


Though this album starts with two studio tracks, it's mostly live. This long-running Oklahoma City band gives a flavor of what it was like to see them before the pandemic happened. It's a lot of fun to listen to for that reason alone.


The other reason it's fun is that the band was influenced by the early Bangles, and this band is as good as them, especially early on, and on their comeback albums in the oughts. The Lunar Laugh has a similar sound and harmonies, and the the second studio track, “It's Okay,” sounds like it could've been written by Susanna Hoffs.


The two covers, Neil Diamond's “Solitary Man” and Death Cab For Cutie's “Soul Meets Body,” also establish their sound, and it really is a good blend. “Welcome To The World” is superb.


If you want to be reminded of what live music sounded like, get his album, have a good time listening to it, and then go and see them, or any other band, in concert.

Andrea Weiss

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

 Jeremy Pinnell

Big Ol' Good Single

Sofaburn Records


This mellow, ZZ Top-like country/rock song is about being a good person in every way, respectful to women, likes his girlfriend, and fishing. It's straightforward and clear musically and lyrically. Soulful singing too, making for another great selection from his upcoming album, to be released October 1st on Sofaburn.

Andrea Weiss


 Paige Beller

Failed Attempts and Cigarettes video

Sofaburn Records


This 2-D, stop motion animated video, directed by Katie Anne Marks, is about what a pain overthinking anything can be. It features a rather confused guy, Paige as a puppet, driving, and many guys falling through the air, then falling upward in an instant, all standing in for muddled, confused thinking, the kind that makes for failed attempts and smoking.


The unease of the spooky, ambient synth music by Jason Watkins (Mouth of the Architect) fits the images perfectly, with the feeling that you're dwelling on something too much. It's really good animation and music, perfect for taking your mind off of what you may be obsessing about, and a lot of fun to watch too.

Andrea Weiss

Monday, August 30, 2021

 B. Hamilton

Song For TW Video

Sofaburn Records


This ultra trippy, very cool clip, in which the camera swivels around 360 degrees, presents mellow guitar rock. The three piece band was shot on location at Santo Studios in Oakland, CA by video director and editor Luke Judd. It features wonderful special effects and is lit like a concert. 


The song is about taking care of a friend, and realizing through that that you're taking care of yourself. Just the right message for today's troubled times, with a memorable piece of guitar rock that's heavy without being weighty, and rocks without overdoing it. 

Andrea Weiss

 This is a new band for me, but a welcome find, as I am always looking for good pop to listen to. I suggest you find them too, starting with this interview. Nick was kind enough to answer a few questions.



Andrea Weiss: Could you give a short musical history of how the band formed and got together for the single?


Nick Plunti: I’ve been playing music for almost 50 years (started before I could talk), but this band came together because Jeff Hupp asked if I was looking for a bassist. Turns out I was looking for a whole band, which Jeff put together.



AW: Who are your influences?


NP: Earliest musical influences would have to be the Beatles and The Monkees, soon followed by The Stones, The Who, Raspberries, Slade, Aerosmith, Elvis Costello, The Cars, R.E.M. The Replacements, Fountains of Wayne and it goes on and on. Always finding something new.



AW: I hear Matthew Sweet in these songs, which is great. Is he an influence?


NP: Of course. Girlfriend was a big influence. Love Matthew Sweet.



AW: The songs are very feminist, which I like, too. Did the lyrics just lend themselves to that?


NP: Thank you. Well, I was raised by Mom, who was divorced with four children. She was my voice of reason and I always had the utmost respect for her. She was tough, smart and was always there for us. And I have three daughters, so I definitely can see things from the female perspective.



AW: Any word on the upcoming album?


NP: We have 10 songs tracked, hoping to finish the vocals and overdubs this fall. And maybe try to come up with a couple more songs that may bump out a song or two.


Nick Plunti & The Complicated Men

One Of The Boyz/Heat Inside Your Head single

JEM Records


The A side, "One Of The Boyz," is Matthew Sweet meets Fountains Of Wayne in style, with overtly feminist lyrics: a friend giving a woman friend advice on how to handle guys. It's empathetic and it rocks.


"Heart Inside Your Head," by contrast, could have come from The New Pornographers' Electric Version. It's catchy power pop with clever lyrics.


Taken together, it's a great single, and a taste of more to come, as the band has an album in the works.

Andrea Weiss

Thursday, August 26, 2021

 Starlight Cleaning Co.

S/T

Sofaburn Records


While the late Neal Casal acts as producer and guitarist, which is a good tribute to him, the duo of Rachael Dean and Tim Paul Gray sound much more like Elvis Costello, Chrissie Hynde, and a bit like Fleetwood Mac, which is to say their sound is somewhat punky, somewhat folk, and a bit country, a great mix that jangles and chimes, and moves along nicely. The lyrics are reminiscent of Casal, Hynde and Costello, too--commentary on love won and lost--and as good as those influences.


So if you like any of them, and I would say Hynde is the one they sound like the most, pick this up. Anyone who write like Chrissie, while still remaining themselves, is absolutely worth hearing.

Andrea Weiss


Monday, August 23, 2021

 Amy Ray

Chuck Will's Widow single

Daemon Records


This country/folk song, in which Ray hears a Chuck Will's Widow bird and imagines a newly windowed woman starting anew in life, steps lively, in good spirits musically, and with a lot of meaning to the lyric. The widow misses her husband, but knows it's time to be on her own.


The video matches the good spirits of the song: two mannequin friends are having fun in a closed store, and eventually the security guard joins them.


The listener/watcher will have a good time too, with this sweet, nice folk song.


Andrea Weisss

Friday, August 20, 2021

 When I heard Danny Wilkerson’s solo album Wilkerson I immediately thought of Jellyfish, a band I hadn’t heard since the 90s, so I listened again and realized Wilkerson is just as good. The same goes for Jason Faulkner and Aimee Mann’s 90s albums, which Wilkerson also reminds me of. Wilkerson loves all kinds of music from the 70s through the 90s, and blends them in interesting and pleasant pop ways. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Andrea Weiss: For those who don't know your music, could you give us a short history?



Danny Wilkerson: I started my first band and began playing gigs at 13 years old, and played in a variety of bands throughout middle school and high school, and somewhere in there began to write songs. I joined The Pengwins in 1978. Within a couple of years, we were a full-time touring band, writing and recording every chance we could. We toured heavily. The band released a couple of singles. We worked hard trying to get a major label deal and actually got very close, but a shakeup at the label closed the door on that. In 1985 I left the band to start a family and simultaneously started a management company. I began managing the band while still seeking a record deal. I never stopped playing music locally, and continued to write and record at home and with others, which included a couple of singles and CD releases. Once, while in LA to meet with Rick Derringer, I was invited to sing background vocals on Weird Al Yankovic’s “Spam” as part of the UHF album. Fast Forward. It was always kind of a dream of mine to do a solo record. Years later I had the opportunity to write with the incredibly gifted artist Bleu McAuley and it was just a fantastic experience. Long story short, after several successful writing sessions the decision was made to do an album with Bleu. During the process, I had the chance to work with Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and so many other amazing people that are part of the Wilkerson album. 





AW:  Who are your influences? 



DW: It all started with The Beatles for me! The first time I saw them on Ed Sullivan I was hooked. Other than The Beatles, my biggest early influences were the British invasion (Kinks, Rolling Stones, Who, etc.) and then late 60s to early 70s Motown artists (Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder). I have also been very influenced by the likes of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, CSN&Y, and Randy Newman, and so many others. This is a hard question to answer in a few words. I have an insatiable appetite for music and very eclectic taste. I have over 8,500 vinyl records (and about 6,000 CD’s) in my collection of every kind of music imaginable, that I have been listening to and collecting since I was a kid. I will never be able to get enough of it. All of it has had an influence on me in one way or another and still does.





AW: Your music sounds very 70s, which I like a lot. What 70s artists inspired it the most?  



DW: I was all over the map in the 70s--Big Star, Harry Nilsson, Leon Russell, The Raspberries, Badfinger, Cheap Trick, Queen, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Free, Todd Rundgren, Artful Dodger, Alice Cooper, Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, Devo, Tom Petty, Sly and The Family Stone, The Residents, T.Rex. So much great music!





AW: Your music also sounds very 90s--say, Aimee Mann, Jellyfish, and Jason Faulkner--which is great. Were any of them inspirations?



DW: YES to all of the above!!! Additionally, I love Radiohead, The Grays, Squeeze, Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, Tommy Keene, and Fountains of Wayne to name a few. Speaking of Jason Faulkner, the lead break on “She Goes To Bed” is one of my very favorites. I would love the opportunity to work with him someday.





AW: I like how your lyrics are happy and positive, for the most part. Do you always try to write like that?



DW: I’m so glad you noticed that. It definitely plays a big part of my thought process in writing. I really hope to lift the spirit of the listener. When I was younger, I tended to write more about worry, angst and frustration. Nowadays, I just feel there is enough negativity out there and life is too short, so I try to lean towards a little more positive with most of the music.





AW: Conversely, I like how sometimes your lyrics aren't so happy. Do you want a mix of positive and not so positive?



DW: Yes and no. “Endless Haze” is a pretty serious song about an alcoholic trying to escape his addictive method of escape. Even though the topic is heavy, the lyrics are somewhat lighthearted. Honestly, I try to put a positive spin even on the more serious songs on the record. “Your Days are Numbered” was written the day I found out I had been diagnosed with cancer (I am completely well now!). That day was a very emotional one, wondering where my life might go moving forward and the impact it was going to have on my family and loved ones. Definitely a fear of the unknown. The lyrics just flowed out very quickly on that one. Although it deals with death, the message is positive. Life on this planet is short and precious. Make every day count for the best.





AW: How did the joint release with Spyderpop and Big Stir come about?



DW: I believe the partnership was born out of a mutual love of music and looking for the best way to get that music to as many people as possible. I also believe it is going to prove to be a beautiful thing as the owners of both are incredibly supportive people and have the same musical taste and vision. I am proud to be associated with them as well as all my label-mates!





AW: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in music?



DW: Surround yourselves with people that love music. Don’t be intimidated by others that may have a higher musical skill level than you or a better understanding of the technical or business side of it. Soak up all that you can from them. Most of them are happy to share. Be open to all kinds of music. Be aggressive in your pursuit.  It sounds cliché but be yourself, believe in yourself and dream big!

 Wilkerson

Danny Wilkerson

Spyderpop/Big Stir Records


This delightful album owes as much to the 70s as it does to the 90s: everything from the Beatles to Jellyfish to Aimee Mann. It's very creative, experimental pop--lush and plush, but always tough, as well. There is a lot of steel in the spine of these songs.


The lyrics are positive and happy, with the exception of “How She Lost My Heart,” a breakup song, and are clear and direct, set to nicely complicated, wonderful music. It makes the album delightful to listen to.

Andrea Weiss


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

 Black River Delta

Shakin'

Sofaburn Records


Black River Delta are a modern blues/rock band from Bollnäs, Sweden. Their hard-edged sound recalls. The Black Keys, RL Burnside, Gary Clark Jr. and, for me, LA blues rock band the Record Company. They are as exciting as the Record Company at their best, too, which is all the time.


They are not sexist, either, which is wonderful. “400 Hours” is about dying, and missing your girlfriend. “Now I know” is about being in love. The other songs, while they delve into themes of love, loss, and traveling, do it with a flair which makes them stand out. The music and lyrics have power. It's genuinely hard blues.


So if you like the artists mentioned and want more, Black River Delta fit the bill. They're different, fresh, and great.

Andrea Weiss

Friday, August 13, 2021

 I recall hearing Sorrows, as I knew New York punk by the time they were around on the NY scene, and I’m glad to make these memories a little more solid and be rewarded with a great album. If you want to hear what punk was like before synth-pop took over, this is the album to get.


Arthur Alexander, one of the leaders of the band, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.



Andrea Weiss: For those who don't know the history of Love Too Late... the real album, could you say a few words about it?


Arthur Alexander: In a nutshell… in 1981 Sorrows went to London to record Love Too Late, our followup to Teenage Heartbreak. We had a legendary producer, Shel Talmy, at the helm and there was no stopping us now. Unfortunately, as it often happens with legends, they tend to turn out not all they were cracked up to be, and this legend was one of those - a crack of shit. The sessions were an unmitigated disaster, the band essentially disappeared, replaced by Talmy with studio musicians and singers and under layers of keyboards and synths. The result, an album that sounded like a wedding band on a bad day, with our name on the cover. As expected, the record was a total flop, and the only thing it achieved was destroying the band in the process.


In the years that followed no Sorrows albums were ever re-issued, on CD or vinyl (though, in case of Love Too Late?... Thank God!), so when in 2016 we regained the rights to our songs it was time to do this one justice and give people Love Too Late… the real Sorrows album and put that piece of fake crap with our name on it out to pasture, permanently.


For your readers interested in all the gory details I’d suggest checking out the documentary Big Stir Records just released: SORROWS: The Real Story of The Real Album

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLHM-YOufsk



AW: What were you listening to then, and were influenced by?


AA: I’m a child of the 60s, so my main heroes were all the Brit bands: Shadows, Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, Yardbirds, etc. But I was also deep into American blues and rock & roll: Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran. I was also really into ABBA, just as the whole punk/new wave started to happen. Even though they were my contemporaries I was definitely affected by bands like Sex Pistols, Clash, Heartbreakers and Talking Heads.



AW: It’s great that the band and Big Stir were finally able to get the rights to Love. How did you feel when you knew the album was finally yours?


AA: It was a long and uphill struggle so it felt great to be finally rid of the shackles that kept us from doing this album justice, putting it out and telling the story behind it.



AWThis is the kind of punk that really isn't made anymore, and while that's too bad, there is still a lot of good music around. How do you feel punk has changed since the album was originally recorded?


AA: Like with any music genre, it evolved, not necessarily for the better. I mainly miss good songs. There’s a lot of good playing, lot of well produced records. I just don’t hear much that I would want to hear more than once.



AW: I love that the music is so wild and unruly, and it sounds like the band was really going for it. Was CBS looking over your shoulder the whole time, or left you alone and then nixed the finished album?


AA: No, that’s not how it went down at all. CBS didn’t look over our shoulder or nix the finished album. They decided behind our backs to turn us into some kind of a pre-fab product they thought would give them a successful record. They ended up with a band in rebellion and a huge flop of a record on their hands.


If you’re referring to Love Too Late… the real album when you say: “it sounds like the band was really going for it,” you’d be right. You’re hearing Sorrows going for the jugular! Like we intended the first time around. The fact that you can actually sense it really tells you the whole story.



AW: The lyrics snarl for the most part, other times are contemplative, and don't mince words, which is great. It sounds like CBS didn't want that either, but less punky ones. Was that annoying?


AA: No, this was one thing they didn’t interfere with. They interfered enough without it. Frankly, at that point we could have used nursery rhymes and it wouldn’t have made any difference.



AW: Would it be fair to say that punk has changed for the better, or not?


AA: I don’t think it did, based on what I hear, but then again, there’s so much stuff out there it may not be a fair assessment. May be I just don’t get to hear enough the good stuff.



AW: Would you tell a young band to go for a major label, if a deal was offered to them?


AA: Hard question. Obviously, it’s a tough thing to resist, if you get offered major label deal. I know something about it! ;) I would advise them to make small and careful steps. Get with a small label that really believes in you and your music, where you’re not just a number on a spreadsheet. If you’re successful at that level, and as your visibility increases, you will get noticed. You will also have more leverage. And that’s a good place to be at when they (the majors) start going after you instead of you chasing after them.

 Love Too Late... the real album

Sorrows

Big Stir Records


This album was originally recorded in 1981, but not released until now on CD. The story is that the producer of the original album, Shel Talmy, and their label, CBS, had ideas for the album, and actually recorded it, but the band didn't like it and broke up shortly after the finished product was released and then flopped. Their first album, Teenage Heartbreak,had been released to critical acclaim, so this was a bitter pill for the band to swallow. Big Stir Media's documentary on YouTube, SORROWS: The Real Story of The Real Album, is a very good and informative film that goes into the details of what the band faced, how they finally got the rights back to these songs, and Big Stir releasing the rerecorded album.


As the original recordings were very much of their time, this is like unearthing a time capsule of early 80s punk--polished, not slick, with grit. Arthur Alexander and Joey Cola snarl their vocals and guitars, and the whole effect is both the kind of album indie rock bands should be making today and won't--no synths, guitars, organically snotty attitude, rather than sounding like robots--and out of time in the best ways, a look back at how things used to be, and maybe should be now.


I think the best track on the album is “What I Used To Be,” about wishing things were better than they are, but all the songs are good. If you want old punk that sounds new, a band with the right attitude, guitars galore, and just great music period, Sorrows are for you.

Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

 Small Reactions

New Age Soul

Sofaburn Records


This Atlanta group's third album, and debut for Sofaburn, is a very nice jangle pop update. It sounds like a sped up take on early REM and the hard-edged jangle of Let's Active's Big Plans for Everybody and Cypress.


The lyrics take on the alienation, confusion, and dislocation of modern life, but end on a happy note with “There Is A Light.” The lyrics overall are never dark, as they try to figure out life, and sometimes succeed, sometimes not, all of which is human.


The Game Theory homage “Speak And Dress” sounds like it could've come off Real Nighttime, like a combination of “24” and “Curse Of The Frontier Land.” That Small Reactions would update one of the greatest bands that doesn't get updated enough, and do it right, makes this album a must-hear for this song alone.


It is a relief to hear an indie rock band that isn't beholden to Krautrock or Kraftwork, that plays electric guitars, that uses keyboards just for color and detail: another reason to get this album, to hear what indie rock once sounded like and should sound like again.

Andrea Weiss

Saturday, July 31, 2021

 Lung

Air video

Sofaburn Records


This visually arresting video showcases the single from Lung's upcoming third album, Come Clean Right Now. Lung are a cello and drums duo, and wonderful.


The song is about sexual obsession, and it's dark. Kate Wakefield's harrowing lyrics, her cello sounding like a feedback-laden electric guitar, and drummer Daisy Caplan's thundering drums make the song musically arresting, as well. The scene where paint drips on them in all different colors is the most arresting image of all.


The video is a must see, a wonderful mix of anguish and power. Come Clean Right Now will be released August 20th.


Amdea Weiss

 Paige Beller

So Much Water video

Sofaburn Records


The second single from her upcoming debut for Sofaburn Records, I'll Be Better, draws on her love of doo-wop and 60s girl groups like the Dixie Cups. The music is spare, just her vocals and loops of her voice for the harmonies, with kick drum and minimal synths. The video is visually stark, with cue cards to show the lyrics, and Beller in a variety of outfits to show the many sides of her personality, including that she's out and proud.


With unflinching honesty lyrically, vocally, and with her outfits, this tale of being pushed away and then refusing to leave is dark, very real, and makes for a fascinating clip. Her album will be out in the fall, and if the whole album is anything like this wonderful single and video, it will be terrific.

Andrea Weiss


Thursday, July 29, 2021

 Jeremy Pinnell

Night Time Eagle single

Sofaburn Records


This hard-edged country/rock song, really modern honky tonk, is about a musician who goes on tour, gets homesick, and misses his family. It's tough, but sensitive, steps lively, but is serious, and is fun. You will feel for the musician and hope he gets through the tour okay.


It's also different, a song that stands rock and country cliches on their heads. So many musicians like to tour that it's refreshing to hear a song express the opposite sentiment. That it goes by so fast adds to the fun: did he really sing this line? He did. It's a wonderful single.


Pinnell's next full length, Goodbye LA, will be out October 1st.

Andrea Weiss


 Back To The Summer Olympics

Vista Blue

Self-Released


This three song single by the pop/power pop/punk group is three songs about 1: the Olympics, 2: how Anthony's mom has a boom box, and 3: that it's summertime again.


The first song, "Back to the Summer Olympics" reminds me of Weezer and Fountains Of Wayne. The second and third, "Hey Anthony" and "It's Summertime Again," are more Ramones, with the third also like the Beach Boys amped up. All are good and a lot of fun, nice to rock out to or walk around to. The single is a name your price download on Bandcamp, too.

Andrea Weiss


Friday, July 23, 2021

 I first became aware of Lannie Flowers on one of the Big Stir Singles comps. "My Street" was the song, and I was quite taken with it: a slice of life set to jaunty, indie, American rock music, with happy, contented lyrics. Now there is Home,the album, which bears out the promise of "My Street." It expands on the single musically and delves deeper into the characters, all of whom might live on his street.


Lannie was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.


Andrea Weiss: For those who don't know your music, could give some of your history?

Lannie Flowers: Started playing in bands when I was 12 years old. Played in the Pengwins for most of my young life. Got to see a lot of places and almost got a major label deal a couple of times. Along the way I was always writing songs. Unfortunately, never finding an outlet for a lot of them. So when I got off the road, I built a studio in my garage and just started recording all of those songs. Just for fun. I put together a CD to give to friends, called Same Old Story. My friend and former bandmate Alan Petsche had an indie label in Arlington Texas. So in 2009 we put it out and surprisingly got good reviews. So we just went from there.


AW: Who are your influences?

LF Early on, of course, The Beatles, Kinks, Who, Rolling Stones. As I got a little older I started listening to David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, VU, Stooges. Also there was Badfinger, Big Star, all of that stuff. Then punk rock came along with the Clash to Elvis Costello and everything in between. Then as time went on, it was the Replacements to Bob Dylan to old country to soul, etc. Music was my drug. I couldn’t wait to find the next big thing, that was gonna change my life.


AW: This seems to be a concept album about people going home or leaving home, even if their home is a state of mind. I like that, but could you elaborate a bit more?

LF Home can mean a lot of different things. It can mean joy or pain or just some place you go after work. For some people, they want to be free from home and others want to be free to go home. I really wanted to leave a lot of it open to interpretation. Especially songs like "He’s Going Home."


AW: Some of your characters seem to live lives of quiet desperation, others, happy ones. Did you plan that contrast as part of the concept?

LF: It’s just life. No two people have the same story. So, these are just stories about different people with different circumstances. But to answer your question. No there was no big plan in my head to show contrasts. The songs are about different people. So you’re gonna get a different view of their situation.


AW: I like how the music flows so clearly and directly, and is also quietly powerful. Was that how the songs evolved?

LF: There was a conscious effort to make it flow and be quietly powerful. I was a rock and roll kid. So it was hard and also fun to try to make a more acoustic record and not sound too quiet.


AW: I like the single "Running" a lot, and the B-side, "My Street,” as well. Since "My Street” is the Nashville version, would you say your songs have an alt-country side to them?

LFI think this record more so than the previous ones. I did grow up in Texas. So you can’t really get away from some of those roots.


AW: How did the joint release with SpyderPop and Big Stir come about?

LF: I met Rex a few years ago in L.A. and told Alan Petsche and Victor Erwin at SpyderPop about the Big Stir thing. That’s really about all I had to do with it. They took it from there. I think it’s a really great thing.


AW: What advice would you give someone just starting out in music?

LF: Don’t do it unless you have a real passion for it. Because it’s not an easy life, but a very rewarding one. Also, figure out what you do best and what really speaks to you, and run with it.

 Lannie Flowers

Home

Syderpop/Big Stir Records


By turns alt-country, folk rock, a little power pop, but the Americana side of it, the music is quiet, subtle, a little melancholy, but full of energy, too.


The characters lead lives of quiet desperation, always looking for home, a home, or something like home, whatever home means to them. The lyrics show empathy for them, but never pity.


It's also quietly great. The music's energy never flags, the writing is clear, direct, and clear eyed, and the one happy song, ”My Street,” is a romp lyrically.


For anyone who every wanted some kind of home, in a building or a state of mind, this album is for you.

Andrea Weiss

 Lannie Flowers

Home (single)

Spyderpop/Big Stir Records


The A side of this self-titled single from the album Home is the indie rock side of Americana, with lyrics about finding a home, even if that home is a state of mind.


The B side is a non-album version of “My Street (Nashville Version)” with steel guitar making it even more of a romp than on the album. While it's a happy song about all the people who live on the main character's street, all of them might also be looking for a home of some other kind on this street.


It's a very good lead-in to the album, but buy the single, too, so you can hear the wonderful B-side as well.

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, July 18, 2021

 I became aware of the music of Anton Barbeau through the music of Scott Miller and the email list for fans of his music, the Loud List. That list expanded my tastes in music, and Anton was one of many wonderful musicians I discovered there. The List moved to Facebook some years ago, and Anton never stopped making music over a 30 year career.


Anton was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about his new album, Oh The Joys We Live For, and a very good album it is, too.


Andrea Weiss: While most of my readers likely know you and your music, for anyone who doesn't, can you give a bit of your musical history?


Anton Barbeau: I was born in 1967, just a month before Sgt. Pepper, and was a Beatles baby for sure. I was obsessed with music from childhood and I loved the Doors, The Beach Boys, and pop music on the radio. It was hearing Gary Numan, though, that got me started as a musician for real. I was 13 and the whole world changed in an instant. My dad bought me a synth and I started writing songs and suddenly it’s decades later and I’ve released over 30 records! I’ve been fortunate to play with many of my heroes. I had Andy and Morris from Robyn Hitchcock’s erstwhile Egyptians with me for a few years, I toured a little bit in the UK with Julian Cope, and in one week I went from filming a video in Swindon with XTC’s Colin Moulding to recording in Studio Two at Abbey Road with French band Salt. I have just enough sex, drugs, and rock and roll stories to make for a mildly interesting book.



AW: Who are your influences?


AB: By now, I have so many, right? I’ve mentioned a few already: the Beatles are gods to me, so is Julian Cope. Bowie, Eno. So many of the krautrock bands like Neu and Faust and Can and Amon Duul. Incredible String Band, Ultravox, Fleetwood Mac, ABBA, Kate Bush. Psychedelic bubblegum, experimental electronic noise. We listen to Greek radio at night, and I listen to the sounds of the house and farm every morning. Monty Python, Stewart Lee, Vic and Bob.  I love the films of Tarkovsky and Jodorowsky and Svankmajer and Goddard and Cocteau… those rub off on me. Carl Jung is a huge influence.  I’m in love with the music of Joni Mitchell, but I can’t claim her as an influence - she’s way too idiosyncratic and intimidating!



AW: I like your use of synthesizers on these songs. Is that a way of pushing boundaries with this album?


AB: Ha! Well, maybe my mention earlier of Gary Numan clarifies a few things. I played synth well before I played guitar. I only picked up guitar because, honestly, it was easier to carry to gigs and to shake my ass with onstage. That said, of course I’ve written billions of songs on guitar. I won a little local “Folk Singer” award in my hometown. Nobody ever quite knows which aisle of the grocery store to put me in. I’ve released several all-electronic albums, and a piano-based record. Quite recently, I was featured on a two-hour show for Artefaktor radio, with the focus on my synth pop tunes. In 2009 (?), I caught swine flu and had a fever for a month. I dreamt every night of synths! Obsessed. I probably own 15 guitars, but have nowhere near the same level of interest in guitar as an instrument. But back to the album at hand… this is a collection of all sorts of odds and ends, and it’s probably more coincidental than calculated that there’s a palpable synths vibe here.



AW: This isn't as much of a guitar-based album as Manbird and Kenny vs. Thrust were, and I like that. Does it mean that you're building on the sound of them, too?


AB: I’m glad you like the contrast, thanks! Of the records you listed, Manbird was the most intentional. It was driven by a vision and is a double-album to prove it! Kenny vs Thrust was meant to be a quick, fun “battle of the bands,” showing off the grooviness of my respective California and UK bands. Those bands are basically two guitars, bass, and drums - the classic format - so there are lots of guitars on display. Oh The Joys We Live For is made up of the fragments of four or five unfinished records, so I can’t say it’s building on anything, exactly! I’d finished it and released a version of it online before Manbird was even out. The original Oh The Joys actually had more synth tunes, including some from Antronica 4. It didn’t really hold up as well as an album, and my online-only experiment flopped. I was grateful when Big Stir said they’d release it. By that point, I’d swapped certain songs out and found I’d “made” a much lovelier record. It feels very intentional, but I can’t claim credit. Joys is a record that made itself.



AW: Would you say Robyn Hitchcock is a lyrical influence?


AB: He has certainly been a huge influence over the years, but not so much in an ongoing way. The excitement and shock of his surrealist wordplay has given way - after decades of listening to his music - to a sort of avuncular comfort at this point! I can still hear traces in a song like “One Of Her Super Powers,” but it almost feels a bit deliberate, like I’m throwing in one of Robyn’s zebras for the kids! Really, though, the whole point of having influences is to help us learn who we ourselves are. Something/someone from “out there” triggers either a feeling of exciting familiarity within ourselves, or maybe a feeling of unsettling weirdness, but the ideal is to take those feelings and use them to discover/create our own language. I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, but Manbird was the first Ant record where I could see that I’d become my own influence. I mean, by nature of my work, I’m listening to hours of myself every day and I have no time to steal the best lines from John Cale or Joan Armatrading.



AW: I like the way you create all kinds of quirky, colorful characters in your lyrics. Is it fun writing that way?


AB: Thanks! I certainly do have fun sometimes when I’m writing, but I also tweak out over whether any given song is good enough. I mentioned that Oh The Joys came together from various unfinished projects. The one I liked most and wish I’d stuck with longer was called Christian Wife. It was going to be an album about a traditional married couple, living in Small-town, USA. They play out their expected man/wife roles where he has the real job, she cooks the dinner, and they go to church on Sunday, insisting they’re true Christian. But each of them has a secret, dark life they keep from each other. It seemed such a rich vein to mine, but I only managed maybe three or four songs, and even those only barely had the characters in the same room. I do like playing with characters in general and I sometimes move between using my own voice and that of the Other.



AW: What was it like to play with Scott Miller on What If It Works?

 

AB: It was so enjoyable. I mean, mostly it was fun. It was always meant to be a light, loose album. The whole thing started when we performed the Stones’ “Rocks Off” together at a gig in our hometown, Sacramento. Scott’s wife, Kristine, said you guys should record that and next we knew, we had studio time booked and paid for by 125 Records. Trying to turn a single cover song into what became a full album wasn’t the easiest thing for Scott, who’d been out of the music biz for a bit. He’d become a family man and had taken on greater responsibility at his day job. Still, I think we managed to ride out the challenges as they came. Most of my memories are of us having a fine old time, whether doing backing vocals together in his house or of him urging me on as I smashed through a drum track in an unscheduled basement session. It all felt like no sweat. This was his first time using Pro Tools and he totally nailed it, as you’d expect. To that end, there was all sorts of sonic magic happening. In those days I was just starting my migration over to the UK, so we made the album in the cracks. Scott would update me with emails containing his latest efforts, and then when I’d return to California, we’d get back to work. I’d worked with Scott a number of times before this, but making a full album with him is something I cherish so very much.



AW: What would you say to someone just starting out in music?


AB: Listen to everything! Listen to things you love, as much as you can, seek out more things to love, and love listening to things you can’t stand! Meet people and play music together. Some people thrive in music on their own, but it’s worth finding out how to make noise with others. Believe in your own confidence, but let insecurity live in you in comfort, because music is made up of a combination of the known and the unknown. Be brave in the dark, but let yourself fail and flail in the light. Be protective of your work, but not too precious. And most of all, have a good time all the time (moderation in excess, mind...).

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