NEW MUSIC FRIDAY is boiling over with GREAT music for you this week.
We lost count. But rest assured there are still even more great records coming at you this week.
LIONEL BOY [LP/CD](Innovative Leisure/Redeye)
From Hawaii (you can hear the coastal breezes) and Long Beach, CA (you can hear a sort of West Coast hip-hop vibe,) comes Lionel Boy. His debut sounds on the surface like another Mac Demarco groovy almost Yacht Rock-ian beachy Pop. However, dig deeper in the sand and you will find its Hip-Hop undercurrent (the standout "Mango Michelada") and its 80 R&B groove ("Puddle" and "I'm Not Afraid.")
HIELE - Sings [LP](Ultra Eczema BEL)
Despite the title, Hiele never vocalizes. Instead in the confines of his bedroom, Hiele gets a variety of sounds out of his synths. Not playing them in the normal way either. On the synthian snake charmer "Cellisimo," he seems to draw it out of the instrument. Elsewhere, the spontaneous recordings really payoff in capturing some otherworldly sounds (the lengthy "Society" sounds like a satellite transmission run through ring modulators) and even a weird Jazzy bend on "Duo."
LUMIERE - A.M.I.E.S.A.M.O.U.R [LP](Bonsound CAN)
Canada's Bonsound has yet another heavenly Pop group up their sleeve. The trio Lumiere (assembled by Etienne Cote,) finds a neat Romantic/Psychedelic counterpoint in their Pop. Over the 15 songs on their record, they click through their songs like changing channels. Spacious almost Band-ian Rock ("La Belle Journee 1971") gives away to the Spector-ian production of the heartfelt Seventies Pop of "Point D'Fuite" (even with horns.) Lumiere seems to focus everything on its songwriting first, then matching it with correct period production. These are travels through the world of love that will give your heart flight.
CHRIS CONDE - Engulfed In The Marvelous Decay [LP/CD](Fake Four/Redeye)
Texas' Chris Conde has a great booming, stentorian voice that allows him to sing and sound like a slightly higher-register Gil Scott Heron. At the same time, Conde spits out words like bullets and needs very little time to reload. "Engulfed" is an album about lives and a nation in a state of change. "Leaves" is built around a haunting banjo sample and sung like a spiritual in places. Elsewhere, Conde knocks it out of the park when detailing his own life ("Seat At The Table") or proselytizing about what is wrong (the brilliant "The Summer of Our Discontent".) Even a meditation like "Okinawa" is coming at you like a dream sequence in the middle of a nightmare. Conde is a major talent in waiting.
MONSTER MAGNET - A Better Dystopia [LP/CD](Napalm)
Before there was Stoner Metal. Before there was Grunge. Before the strands of Alternative would become so separate that good Proto-Metal could slip in there, there was Monster Magnet. Their debut “Spine of God” (and its druggy companion EP “Tab”) remain pre-Grunge Alternative/Metal classics. Then, they signed to A&M and delivered a Gold album (1998’s “Powertrip” and the single “Space Lord” which paved the way for Stoner Metal to follow to Rock Radio.) The fact is Monster Magnet has never stopped making music. “Dystopia” is full of that Nineties vibrant energy. “Mr. Destroyer” screams out of the gate like a lost reverb-drenched track from “Spine,” while the “Learning To Die” thunders like the Proto-Metal that inspired them. "Dystopia” is Monster Magnet returning to square one with a set of well-chosen covers that hint at their inspirations (Hawkwind, Dust, Josefus, Poobah) but never give away that you are listening to a “covers” album.
THE FABULOUS HEYDAYS - Ladies and Gentlemen…[LP](Soundflat/The Orchard)
Three-chord Sixties revivalists five-piece from all over the globe. The Heydays have a showy-yet-punky spirit in their songs that sets them apart from other modern Sixties bands. At their best with the uptempo songs (the opener “Sonic Landslide” and “Cut From A Different Cloth,”) they update the 1965 sound very well. Moving standards (“Hi-Heel Sneakers” with a great horn chart and a Mitch Ryder-esque groove) and their originals (the rave-up ending on “Stale Coffee”) into a more gritty background definitely bodes well for this new big beat band.
ALLISON RUSSELL - Outside Child [LP/CD](Fantasy)
As part of Our Native Daughters, Russell is the songbird of the bunch with her voice pushing sweet harmonies and trill when it needs to be heard. In Birds of Chicago, the dream became more personal. “Outside Child” comes from that deep inner sanctum. When Russell takes you through the summery jangle of “Persephone” (complete with her playing clarinet,) you can feel her healing. As she weaves her talented voice around melodies then in and out of English and French, the words and their delivery (“Montreal”) says volumes about her troubled past, how someone reached out to help her and it completely changed her direction. “Outside Child” is as “Nightflyer” says “an angel of the morning/a promise that the dawn will bring you.”
ROBERT FINLEY - Sharecropper’s Son [LP/CD](Easy Eye/Concord)
Louisiana-born Finley really gets to stretch his talented voice out on this new record produced by Dan Auerbach. “Souled Out on You” is a classic 1968 Stax-sounding production with great touches of twang guitar and saxophone, but the real bluesy heart of it goes to Finley who pushes it along like a man possessed. Auerbach’s crew finds that classic American Studios sound (the rolling groove of “Country Boy” can take all the time it needs to warm up) and give Finley room to just wail.
TRACTOR/THE WAY WE LIVE - The Way We Live/A Candle For Judith [LP](Ozit Dandelion UK)
AGINCOURT - Fly Away [LP](Trading Places UK)
Prog Rock albums from the Seventies spend a lot of time and energy trying to unite their songs (even the most disparate) into one side or one suite. This UK duo consisting of multi-instrumentalists Steve Clayton and Jim Milne chucked that notion to the wind and simply let their bumping Rock and breezy Folk take them wherever they wanted to go. The result is an album that begins with the heavy jam of "King Dick II" and then switches gears completely for the pastoral, bucolic wonderment of "Angle." Tractor might be where Status Quo's psychedelia went as that band brought the boogie into the Seventies. Not that this duo does not bring their own boogie on the epic Blues-infected "Willow, " but the immediate juxtaposition of that will "Madrigal" - much like all of this lost 1971 album - keeps you on your toes. This special 50th-anniversary pressing adds two bonus tracks from the sessions.
For the full natural Acid Folk experience, John Ferdinando and Peter Howell's childlike recordings from 1968-1970 morphed into a full-fledged Folk trio. With Lee Menelaus joining on vocals, Agincourt retains the Nursery Rhyme/castle mystique of Ferdinando and Howell's previous private press releases (beautifully captured in the Cherry Red set "A Game For All Who Know.") From their wonderland of East Sussex, Agincourt feels spritely and bright as the trio tackle early 60's Folk ("Though I May Be Dreaming") and retain their instrumental prowess on tunes like "Joy In The Finding." Now 50 years later, "Fly Away" still feels like music from a land far away. While it could be classified as British Folk, their sound and instrumentation are traditional. Ferdinando and Howell were true tunesmiths whose light adventures ("Going Home") predate the "twee" movement and Belle and Sebastian. Beyond their Folk that feels "required," Agincourt cranks out some seriously sunny West Coast almost-Psychedelic Folk ("Take Me There" - predicting the direction of the next project, Ithaca.) Half a century later, the simplicity of their trio and the dense mixture of voices and production still make "Fly Away" a hidden treasure.
DRAB MAJESTY - Unarian Dances/I To The Universe [LP](Dais/Secretly/AMPED)
Dais Records is perched to become the most influential Electronic label since Wax Trax! in the Eighties. With Deb Demure and Mona D.’s Drab Majesty as their longtime standard-bearer, the initial releases from this “Tragic Wave” (their chosen designation) group have actually become more important. Recorded in the “Careless” era 2012-2015, these blasts of chilly near Goth Synth Pop have aged very well. The chilly Cocteau Twins chime of “I To The Universe,” the Electronic power ballad “Ultra Violet” and the soothing balm of “Saturn, Inc.” could still impact College/Alternative radio if they chose to release/promote them there. While the cassette-only tracks from 2012 from “Unarian Dances” are a little rawer, the lack of cushion from the synth beds and chorus makes the basslines really puncture the surface. Both releases remain a great place to enter this dark but melodic world.
STOREFRONT CHURCH - As We Pass [LP/CD](Sargent House/Redeye)
Before his official debut here, singer/songwriter Lukas Frank scored a duet with Phoebe Bridgers (“Shame” - chosen for a Netflix series by T-Bone Burnett) and a track appearing in the award-winning “The Queen’s Gambit.” With his Roy Orbison-ish voice and haunting writing, “As We Pass” is only the beginning for this talent. “Total Stranger” comes out of nowhere with its Duane Eddy-ish guitars and double-tracked prechorus. Then it hits you, a streaming dream of a simple chorus where he heart-filled intones “I love you/until the streetlights fade out.” Elsewhere, Frank brings in the emotional Rock (“After The Alphabets”) and the tide seems to turn toward him. Frank and Storefront Church fuse dark emotions and shimmering hooks beautifully.
FIVER - And The Atlantic School of Spontaneous Composition [LP/CD](You’ve Changed/Redeye)
Simone Schmidt occupies that place on the map between the growing mass of female singer/songwriters out there who are free to mine the past, calculate the present and predict the future at will. Schmidt also belongs with the experimentalists like Azita Youseffi who use common musical framework to tell complex personal stories and openly enter from outside the form. Schmidt clearly has no interest in any “commercial” breakthrough. Her soft warble and slowly swelling songs barely get up to speed after the prerequisite 30 seconds scanners will give this record. Ah, but the joke is on you. Like a picture that you really have to stare at to see (the entrancing Gospel/Blues of “Jr Wreck” or the Country waltz of “Sick Gladiola,”) you have to give the room time to fill with the right light and allow your eyes to adjust. “June Like A Bug” is a wondrous vision of storytelling. Schmidt and her band assemble their songs to frame the stories, but function on their own. Art with dual purposes deserves far more than a cursory scan. A life is unfolding here, Fiver is turning it into an origami swan and then sending it downriver to you.
WHITE POWDER - Blue Dream [LP](Australian Cattle God/MVD)
From Austin, TX, members of Gorch Fock, Tia Carrera, and about eight other bands got together to create a HEAVY rock experience in 2014. Six years of letting it sit in an oven and cook. They took it out in 2020 and these piping hot Prog/Doom grooves are ready to pull and devour. "Blue Dream" is a massive sounding record, but strangely never out to overwhelm. On the opener "Wolves", the drums of Jeff Swanson threaten to push the band over the edge - but the magisterial organ of Ezra Reynolds always seems to bring it back. Elsewhere, guitars are mixed to be crunchy but regularly strummed with the string vibrating until they chime as opposed to feedback. Never fear, that does not stop guitarist Jason Morales from taking a few soaring, intergalactic solos like the smoking end of "Aokigaraha" and a Texas wah-wah shine on "Costa Bravo." White Powder, while being all instrumental (except the surprise cover of Steely Dan,) really knows how to sing.
CLAMM - Beseech Me [LP](Tin Angel/Redeye)
THE CHISEL - "Come See Me" [7"](La Vida Es Un Mus UK)
STIFF RICHARDS - State of Mind [LP](Drunken Sailor UK)
Aussie Punk Bands Rule - Chapter 6000. There must be something in the water, in the air, in the ground around Melbourne. Clamm is a sizzling three-piece that is out to blister your fingers and snap your neck. The songs on "Beseech Me" all carry themselves with the in-your-face immediacy of The Stooges ("Beseech Me") and the turbo-driven high-volume shred-meets-garage motorik pace of Eddy Current Suppression Ring ("Keystone Pols.") Clamm is a sucker punch to the jaw, a jab in the kidneys with an elbow and a kick in the face when you hit the ground. If you are not seeing stars by the time the ten songs wrap up, see me immediately for another more exciting explanation.
With their old-school Punk holler and their soaring anthemic guitars, here come five lads who want to play music that gets in your blood and makes you scream along with them. The Oi's have the amphetamine "Criminal Crew" and the slam dancers bash to "Come See Me, " but the hint of Power Pop that sneaks into "Not The Only One" is the key to their breakthrough. With their echo-y vocals in the background and the smear of live guitars upfront, The Chisel is an energy source when you need it most.
Aussie Punk Bands Rule - Chapter 6001. Before you time travel back to 1977, dig into this rough, ready, and rip-roaring Punk band from Melbourne. This early Motor City-style Punk is jam-packed with a barbaric yowl, those mind-spinning doubled guitars, and the thrust and drive of Punk when it coming straight out of Rock N'Roll. Stiff Richards raise a middle-finger to everything and fortify their Stooges-meet-MC5 Punk with the anthemic jolt of messages that have to be singed into your skull ("Talk.") Still, these guitar parts are intricate even at breakneck speed (the eye-opening riffing on "Going Numb") and the rhythm section is as solid as the RAWK that the pair are kicking out. Even when they slow down for the gut punch of "Mr. Situation," they actually find a way to be as brutal as the Hammersmith Gorillas - but smart enough to overdub tambourine to make it just swing.
CITY BAND [LP](Bruit Direct Disques FR)
With their bittersweet but buoyant Smiths-ian 80’s jangle Pop, City Band creates great guitar rock mood pieces that possess just the right give-and-take. The slow-building opener “Alice,” the propulsive “4 Chemins” and almost driving Rock of “Suns” all paint the most accurate picture of the band. “City Band” really works because while they sound familiar, they create between the C86/Smiths pole and a more breezy (and bass-prominent) Real Estate-ish guitar twirl (the sublime closer “On Board.”
The best weeks are the ones where there is too much music to compile, too many pages of lists and that feeling that you could have included more. Thank you. Share. Comment. Enjoy.
On a final note, T-BONES would like you to know that Record Store Day is coming in two drops - June 12th and July 17th. This list of exclusives, reissues, and just awesome products will be invading our time shared here for the next few weeks. However, it is just another guest at the party. There’s no slowing us down. Tell your friends about us.
Enjoy. Share. And check out the entire RSD list and even WISHLIST us if you like. RSD 21 with TBONES
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