There’s something to be said for Sunday morning music: the music you put on because the hangover hat is so heavy you can’t raise your head, or the music that goes nicely with coffee and the Sunday paper. The Low Countries’ Greatest Hits compilation A Prize Every Time – The Greatest Bits is truly a Sunday morning record. It’s quiet; it’s packed with tidy, short songs; and is so restrained that it is almost painful. An Anglo-Flemish duo comprised of Nigel Parrington and Els D’hooge, The Low Countries have been turning out twee, thinky, folky music since 2007 and A Prize Every Time gives a nice overview of their brand of ever-so-gentle music.
Better Than Ezra deserves credit for being one of the few bands to make it through the Nineties with their personnel and integrity intact. Lead singer Kevin Griffin has one of the most recognizable voices in the business and the band’s standard blend of light ska and clever catchy choruses is time-tested and successful. At the very least, Better Than Ezra has always been less painful to listen to than Train.
Roughly a million years ago, or probably closer to 12, my new friend Dave and I were chatting with Sloan’s Andrew Scott after a show and Dave asked if perhaps one day Sloan might do something like KISS did in 1978: each member release a solo album at the same time and they could have matching covers and see whose sells the best. Andrew replied, laconically, “Oh, Jay would fucking love that.” (I’m not paraphrasing there; I’m pretty sure that’s what he said exactly.)
By Cait Brennan
Scott Miller wrote and sang some of the most innovative, intelligent, moving indie pop of the past three decades. For years, though, the Game Theory catalog has been impossible to hear, keeping the work of this essential artist out of reach of all but the most devoted fans. Miller’s tragic passing in April 2013 galvanized efforts to change that, and America’s finest reissue label rode to the rescue. At long last, 1982′s Blaze Of Glory is back, with a bevy of bonus goodies, and it’s a harbinger of even bigger things to come.
By Ben van D
Hillary Clinton giving birth to a fully-grown and wailing Brian Wilson in the passenger seat of a bulletproof deuce coup might seem unlikely. Perhaps no more likely than bleached California coast pop sprouting up from the heart of land-locked Arkansas. However unlikely, somehow Fayetteville’s SW/MM/NG make it seem natural with their debut offering Feel Not Bad.
Pick yourself up, walk down the street
Feel the freaks that you shall meet
They are your family now. . .
—Ty Segall, “The Feels”
Singing old Pat Benatar songs at a karaoke party this spring revealed to me something that I hadn’t realized: most popular songs today don’t have guitar solos, which makes for some slightly awkward, “let’s skip to the Taylor Swift track” moments when you’re waiting to belt out that last Pat Benatar chorus. It doesn’t make those songs any less singalong-able, it just means that a lot of younger (ahem) music fans seem to get bored if a song isn’t wall-to-wall vocals.
But no one could be bored by Ty Segall. It’s true, the man does have a penchant for shredding, but he can sing like a mofo and doesn’t noodle or show off, unless you call displaying his prodigious talents “showing off.” Spawning dozens of releases at a breakneck pace for the last six years or so (plus constant touring) means he’s had plenty of opportunities to hone his craft and Manipulator is the epitome of that craft thus far.
Those who claim all The Ramones songs sound alike have clearly never listened to Naomi Punk. This trio from Washington has cast their lot with a very limited sonic palette. Each of the tracks on their newest release, Television Man, strain against those limits like fish in a tank that’s too small.
In the 1990s, I was lucky enough to live in New Orleans. The Continental Drifters lived there, too, and I’ve lost track of the number of times I saw them play live, mostly at The Howlin’ Wolf. Drifter Peter Holsapple played a free acoustic set every Sunday at Carrollton Station which completely obliterated the “Sunday night blues” for those of us stuck in that Monday to Friday, 9 – 5 grind. And occasionally, Drifters Susan Cowsill and Vicki Peterson would perform as The Psycho Sisters. Those familiar with The Cowsills or The Bangles who’ve never heard these two women harmonize are in for a special treat with Up On The Chair, Beatrice.
Tinnarose’s self-titled debut album feels like a classic rock album. There’s a tablespoon of Nilsson, a dash of Bowie, some drops of Steely Dan, all shaken up together and covered in sprinkles of inventive harmonies. Cooking metaphors aside, Tinnarose is a likeable debut with power pop sensibilities.
Guess what? This review isn’t going to compare Spoon to their possible influences, nor will the author jack herself off by citing said influences with hipper than thou references. Spoon has been, at the very least, a good band (with moments of a great band) for a long time. You may or may not know that yet, but They Want My Soul is worthy of your time and money. Knowing how cool you are by “getting” an author’s dazzling musical knowledge has nothing to do with that. The short version of this review is that the lyrics are clever, witty, and at times acerbic, and the music is interesting, melodic, simple yet layered, and other bits are more complex or partially in conflict with the general melody, but never cacophonous. It’s worth buying and unpeeling the onion skin of lyrical meanings at your leisure—or not. The album sounds great and stands alone whether or not one cares to excavate lyrics like a scholar examining cave paintings.