Thursday, December 30, 2021

 Jim Basnight has been around for a long time, and has always made music I really like, these three new singles – "Genius of Love," "Ugly Side," and "Lose Me" – being the latest. If you’re new to him, start here. You will have a good time listening.

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

Andrea Weiss: Tell us more about Seattle-NY-LA, which features these songs?

Jim Basnight: It's the best recordings and songs by the band known as Jim Basnight and the Moberlys or the Moberlys, which featured the late Dave Drewry on drums. It was the version of the band, after the original band, but it lasted much longer. Dave and I started playing together in 1981 and parted ways in 1989. The other players were mainly Glenn Oyabe on guitar and harmony vocals and Toby Keil on bass and harmonies, but there were others. The late Ben Rabinowitz played lead guitar on “I Need Your Love" and “I Wanna Be Yours." Roger Burg played keyboards on “Your Fool" and keyboards and backing vocals on “Genius of Love.” Jeremy Bar-illan played guitar and sang backups on “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True." Roger Moutenot played organ on “You Came and You Conquered." Harlan Hollander sang backups on “Summertime Again." Al Bloch played bass and sang backups on “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True." Jay Work played saxes on “Ain't It Funny." The album was produced by a variety of producers, including Peter Buck of REM, Moutenot, Hollander, Dave Ogilvie, Lindsay Kidd, J.B. Bauerlien, Ron Woods, Ian Gardiner, Edwin DeShazo and Dean Chamberlain. It was recorded in LA mostly, but “You Came and You Conquered” and “Love So True" were recorded in NY. The band was based in NY from 1980 to 1984, but those were the only tracks which made this collection. The band was based in Seattle from 1984-85, but all of the tracks included here were recorded in Vancouver, BC. Those tracks included, “I Wanna Be Yours," "I Love You So," "Alone with Her," and “I Need Your Love." To summarize, the band lived in three places, which all made important impressions on the music. Some might say that our sound had a common thread, but our environment influenced the sound to me. We were all Seattle guys, so that influence of bands like the Sonics, the Raiders, the Heats, and the Modernettes followed us. So did NYC influences such as Lou Reed, the Heartbreakers, Blondie, the Dolls, the Shangri-Las, and the Ramones. LA brought its influences too, such as the Plimsouls and the classic LA power pop sound of the late 70's, and more twangy guitar acts such as the Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. In general, the band had it all, but also had a common thread of  a certain recognizable strain of two guitars and harmonies Beatles/Stones, but definitely on the pure pop side of all of the above.

AW: These songs have a mid 60s British Invasion feel to them, which I like, and they also sound 70s punk. Which of these styles is a greater inspiration for you, or are you after an equally melded sound?

JB: I'd say they're equal. Definitely not 90s or, for the most part, 80s, unless you want to include some of the bands I've already mentioned, or others such as The Hoodoo Gurus and the Replacements. The big musical movements which influenced me in life were:

The golden age of rock and roll, especially Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard. The folk era of Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Pete Seeger. The British Invasion, especially the Kinks, but also the Who, the Small Faces, and a number of others, including those I've already mentioned. The garage acts of the 60s, especially the NW acts, but also the Standells and the type of acts spotlighted by Lenny Kaye's Nuggets album. The psychedelic era, notably Hendrix, the Airplane, and others I've mentioned. 60s pop, such as the Buckinghams, the Grass Roots, The Classics IV and others I've mentioned.Glam rock, such as T-Rex, Bowie, Mott, and others I've mentioned. Early Power Pop, such as Badfinger, Flaming Groovies, and the Raspberries. Punk Rock, the 1977-78 edition, such as Generation X, the Dead Boys, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and others I've mentioned. Finally the late 70s and early 80s NW sound and LA sound of the Cowboys, the Last, and other bands I've mentioned.

The psychedelic and folk stuff didn't play into our sound much, despite the way it influenced my writing. Most of the tunes from that vein which surfaced were not what Dave was into, so I did them solo, or occasionally as a duo with Glenn.

AW: All are about love gone wrong. Is that an easy topic to write about?

JB: If you're talking about the latest set of tunes I've sent out as recommended airplay tracks, basically a second EP of tunes from the album after the first I sent out ("Summertime Again," "Tonight," "Rest Up," and "She Don't Rock"), two of them arguably are about love gone wrong. Those are "Genius of Love" and "Ugly Side." "Lose Me" is a very positive love song about how full and rich one feels to be in the arms of the one they love. "Genius" is about losing, by being tricked into believing there was reciprocal love, but who cares because the ride was so darn fun. "Ugly Side" is dark, but uplifting in the sense that it's an admission to oneself that mere lust is not good enough and that is not a choice, though I've been there, that I am looking to make. I think there are a lot of songs which could be interpreted as love gone wrong on this album (though there are a few which are just plain fun and others like "Lose Me," such as "What I Wouldn't Do" which are clearly songs about romantic fulfillment), but I see the hopefulness behind the feelings of loss or disappointment. I think the band's sound and mood are one of eternal hope and optimism in the search for love and the respect for love, despite the obstacles.

AW: Where can Seattle-NY-LA be found?

JB: It's available to stream or download nearly everywhere you can do that. The place to go for the best price is here, where it was first released in early 2021:

It hasn't been made available on CD or LP yet. That may happen in the near future, as might also the Makin' Bacon album I released later in 2021.

 Jim Basnight

Genius of Love

Ugly Side

Lose Me

PowerPopholic Records

These three new singles are nicely punky, in a very 70s sort of way, but are also 70s style melodic pop. They are all about the ups and downs of relationships. All three are very appealing, as they are clear and direct, fun, but meaningful, simple, but not simplistic.

If you’ve never gotten into Jim Basnight’s work before, this is a great place to start. This is rock the way it isn’t made anymore. I say that not as an old fogey. it’s just that I want to hear as much of this type of rock as possible, bring it back to prominence, and, as I say, here is a good place to start.

Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

 I first heard The Big Believe on a song called “Let's Pretend We’re Spies,” with guest vocals by Let’s Active’s Faye Hunter. That song was great, as is everything I’ve heard since from The Big Believe. After some time off, they’ve returned with three singles, "Doing My Utmost," "Hundreds," and "Girl On Wire." We discuss them below, as Amanda Louise Thompson, band leader, was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Andrea Weiss: How did Daniel Wylie of Cosmic Rough Riders come to co-write “Doing My Utmost?” 

Amanda Louise Thompson: We had been communicating online for years, like - over a decade.  I've been a fan of CRR since about 2001.  At some point I shared my own albums with him and he loved the songs.  I remember we did a swap once:  His solo record Fake Your Own Death for my band's (Ozone Baby at the time) debut Love Like A Foghorn.  In fact, those two titles might just sum us both up, respectively!  So it was during Covid lockdowns that I asked if he fancied writing together and he kinda said he'd been waiting for me to ask.  We couldn't be further apart geographically in the UK.  He's right at the top of the country and I'm right down the bottom.  So given it was all done remotely, it couldn't have been easier.  I'd send a chorus, he'd send a verse, I'd send a verse, he'd send a chorus.  All in voice recorders on our phones, and they always blended together perfectly without trouble.  He's a really nice guy, too.

AW: How did “Girl On Wire “ get released through Aldora Britain?

ALT: Ooh how weird - I can't remember how I first came to Aldora Britain Records, or even whether they came to me or the other way around... but it happened, and that was another easy thing.  Tom Hilton, who does all the work there, releases tons of independent music and really supports it.  It's all digital.  AB released my track "Frequencies" back in March 2021, which had good response so I offered up "Girl on Wire" before I'd even finished recording it, so that something new was out with them before Xmas and to give myself a deadline, stop me fussing about with it too much.

AW: “Girl On Wire” sounds feminist, which is great. Is that the case?

ALT: If it is, it's taken me 51 years to have my first feminist thought.  But in a way, yes.  It's a collection of different tricky situations for women, all wrapped up in one fictional protagonist.  People, friends were telling me things, for example a friend was hiding her sexuality for personal reasons,  someone else had a kid who was getting into all sorts of scrapes due to social media pressures.  Stuff to do with appearance and judgments.  I also added my own situation of societal attitudes to women who've chosen not to have children, then threw in a few lines about prostitution too.

AW: I hear the New Pornographers and Let's Active in the sound of these songs. Were they influences here?

ALT: I suppose those two bands must be in there to some extent, as it's no secret I love them the most!  However, I personally don't notice being influenced by them, maybe I am.  There would be no point in trying to sound like your favourite bands.  A lesser version of them?  That's daft.  Like "Owl City" and "Postal Service" (I love "Postal Service").  Yet after the event, listening back to a finished song, sometimes there are little sections where I notice and think "actually that is not unlike something The New Porns might do."  Mainly, though, I reckon we all make the music we want to hear, and please ourselves first, so it's always gonna be in the same genre as the music I like best.

AW: Will these songs be on an upcoming album?

ALT: Yes, they will both be on our third album, which should be out in the summer of 2022.

 The Big Believe

Doing My Utmost/Hundreds/Girl On Wire

Self-Released/Aldora Britain Records

These three new singles from The Big Believe, which will be on a upcoming album, are three good ones to add to the already fine BB discography. More good indie pop about relationships, including, on “Doing My Utmost,” to oneself. That song was co-written with Daniel Wylie of Cosmic Rough Riders, a fine band in their own right.

The Big Believe, for those who don’t know, is a UK band headed up by Amanda Louise Thompson. They’ve been around for a while, and their earlier albums, Illuminate and Juggernaut, are worth checking out, especially if you like the three singles, which are well worth the money.

Andrea Weiss

Monday, December 13, 2021

 I’ve been a Bye Bye Blackbirds fan for a number of years, particularly their last album, 2019’s Boxer At Rest. Now they're back with a very fine new single and video, "We Got Lost."

Bradley Skaught, the leader of the band, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

Andrea Weiss: How did you come to write a song with Matt Piucci?

Bradley Skaught: I had been noodling around with the verse melody for a bit and was feeling like I didn't have any ideas for how to develop it. It occurred to me that I should get someone else involved and that Matt was the one! Something about that verse melody and drone-y, winding guitar stuff in D just felt like something he could work with. It felt Rain Parade-y to me in some way, whether anyone else would've thought so...

AW: How did Doug Gillard come to be involved?

BS: Doug produced our last record, and he's one of those guys who just always knows what a song needs to elevate it, even in a support role. If you've heard any of the recent Guided By Voices records, you've likely noticed a ton of great little orchestral parts and arrangement details aside from just his guitar playing. "We Got Lost" is such a simple song (structurally speaking) that I felt like it needed something to give it more dynamic shape -- he came back pretty quick with that cool keyboard string stuff.

AW: Where did you get the footage for the video?

BS: The video is entirely the creation of the director, so to get to your next question...

AW: Who directed the video?

BS: Marry Waterson made the video for us! She's a fantastic artist in a whole bunch of ways -- visual artist, video artist, fantastic singer and songwriter, etc. I'd been following her for a while because I love the music of her whole extended family, but when I started seeing all these cool video projects from her, too, I wanted to have her do some stuff for us. She did a couple things for our last record, but this one is a little more involved and fleshed out than those. I don't know exactly where all the footage comes from, but she mixes treated film/existing footage with animation and other processes in such a cool and unique way.

AW: Is there a new album in the works?

BS: There is! It's done! Hopefully early next year we'll get it out.

 The Bye Bye Blackbirds

We Got Lost single and video

Self Released

The Blackbirds return with a fine new single and video. This love relationship song is mellow power pop/college rock, but with heavy guitars for a nice contrast. The video is found footage, some of it showing places in England, some of it psychedelic, all very good and a lot of fun to watch. If you’ve been wanting to hear something new from this band, their first release since 2019’s Boxer At Rest will cheer you up big time.

Andrea Weiss

Thursday, December 9, 2021

 Eliza Gilkyson

Wanderin’ video

Howling Dog Records

This is another wonderful single from Gilkyson. The lyric video is one long shot from a car traveling down a wooded road in the fall, trees turning color, a mountain pass, few cars passing by. The lyrics are about rambling from place to place, never finding a home, by choice, being a free person. It’s an adaptation of an old Irish ballad that her dad’s band, Terry Gilkyson and The Easy Riders, recorded in 1958.

Eliza had this to say about the song: "I always loved this song, especially my dad’s version, but I wanted to rewrite it from a woman’s perspective. We women like to wander too, but you rarely hear about that in those early folk songs. I set it in the Old West, because that's where I had my happiest roaming days, and I think it makes a great Western rambling song."

She and Don Richardson sing and play all the instruments on the track, but the sound is rich and full, which adds to the enjoyment of the song. Go get the full album when its released January 14, 2022.

Andrea Weiss

Friday, December 3, 2021

 B. Hamilton

Keep A Little Light On video

Sofaburn Records

This song is from their album Nothing and Nowhere, which is very good. The video shows a guy looking out at the Oakland Inner Harbor from Jack London Square. It’s a lovely scene, too -- nice, sunny, warm, birds flying, and so on.

It’s also a lyric video, with a good message: Keep your chin up and cheer up, good things are on their way. That’s basically what the song is about, tricking yourself out of major depression.

So if you want a pick me up, and some mellow, but hard, rock, try B. Hamilton, starting with this video. You’ll feel great after seeing it.

Andrea Weiss

Thursday, December 2, 2021

 Protomartyr/R. Ring

A Half Of Seven split single

Hardly Art

This single, first released in 2015, is getting new life, as R. Ring’s Kelley Deal toured with Protomartyr this past November. I saw the Philly show. It was great, rocking, and a lot of fun. And Protomartyr's “Blues Festival,” as great as it is on this single, sounded even better live.

The song is basically advice to bands starting out, and good advice too. “Don’t hold the mic like a crying child,” “don’t let the band open up their mouths,” and “don’t fall prey to your own ego” are some examples. Kelley also sings on it, and her advice is “don’t get ahead of yourself.” All of this is set to bristling, bracing rock, angry for all the right reasons and having a good time being so.

R. Ring’s “Loud Underneath,” sung by Kelley, is about the moment of truth, in any situation, and having  it go okay. The music is just as rocking as “Blues Festival,” but it isn’t angry, more like “there you go, good.”

If so if you’re looking for some great, smart rock, get this single. and then pick up Protomartyr’s albums and R. Ring’s debut, Ignite The Rest. You’ll be glad you did.

Andrea Weiss


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