Monday, December 17, 2012

Garrett Pierce's City of Sand not enough to stand on

Garrett Pierce - City of Sand
Narnack Records
-out now
3 / 5

There is some heartfelt, dust-blown balladry on Garrett Pierce's latest effort. The L.A.-native singer-songwriter employs his gentle yet firm vocals throughout, hitting the nail on the head with the opener "Everybody Breaks" and the title track. These and others are tracks for the more discerning and somber listener: spare, backed simply, and striking the same soft mood as might a light autumn drizzle bring. But for all the reach Pierce's record has, his voice comes up half a foot short from grabbing our heart. For as simple as the songs are, Pierce needs an exceptionally supple and deep voice to pull off such a difficult album, and it's that vocal depth that this material lacks. To compare to James Taylor and others of that golden era, Taylor and Co. could handle a wide range of moods, from subdued to effervescent to farcical. Pierce's album follows the one formula, withdrawn and wistful, and on the one track that attempts to rock out ("The Golden Horse"), his voice is simply not up to the task. It is a pleasant trip to the City here, but not one that we'd imagine you'd be making again and again. Take a pass.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bottlecap needs a bit more fizz

Bottlecap - Bottlecap
Muther Music
-out now
3 / 5

It's loud. It's blasting. It's a screaming, Swedish garage rock debut from a trio well-versed in guitar hooks and basslines. Right from the get-go, these three get down and dirty into it, with "Set Me On Fire" starting it off right. And as well that things should burn. But their execution is spotty, with their ambitious "Carry Me All the Way" feeling weak and thin, mostly in the vocal department. We love garage rock, but the problem with a lot of it is that it's easy to make it good, and really hard to make it great. What would make Bottlecap here great? We're going to say the biggest problem is their forgettable song lyrics: they just don't set a scene different from any other rock we've come across. We want something that hasn't been said before; party-down guitars with party-down lyrics do get old, and there just aren't any new places these songs are going. Which is a shame, because the songs they have here are well-constructed and well-performed - that extra attention to story is what makes a good musical framework stick. Number two are the vocals: they are passable, but not extraordinary and/or atypical. The result here is a good debut, but there are so many fantastic rock and garage rock acts out there that it makes it hard to recommend a merely decent effort. We appreciate their attempt here and that poofy thing on the cover, but we're going to suggest you guys pass on this one.

Check out their website should you so desire.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Don't sign up for Lindsay's Summer Wilderness Program

Jon Lindsay - Summer Wilderness Program
Bear Hearts Fox Records
-out now
2.5 / 5

We'll put this one quick for you all: lo-fi pophead Jon Lindsay is just too... lo-fi. We're not sure how that kind of thing happens, especially given our personal tastes, so give us a chance to explain. The bouncy, upbeat pop of Oregon-born Lindsay wants to evoke the simple pleasures of boyhood love (and heartache, natch) with a summery, blustery attitude similar to the Beach Boys less four. But Lindsay's voice isn't a Wilson-quality voice, and although his arrangements allow him command trumpet, sleigh bells and a handful of other instruments, the varying beats those instruments make all feel straightforward and somewhat feel cheap and borrowed. This is somewhat strange, considering how much he's written for the instrumentation, too (we think it's the very basic drumming). Moreover, the especially lo-fi quality of his music bites him in the bum, and hard: his slightly sub-par voice doesn't command the faded, very washed out supporting instruments convincingly, and the total product leaves our speakers sounding forty feet further away than they actually are. What is here should probably have pulled off a decent album, but Lindsay's somnambulistic execution, coated in a sheen of over- or under-production, robs Summer Wilderness of the simple pleasure it could easily have brought. About as fun as painting Tom Sawyer's fence for him minus the fumes; unless you like that kind of tedium, take a pass.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Buzzmutt's beauty not in Mind's Eye, either

Buzzmutt - Static in the Mind's Eye Chpt. 1
Self-released, online
2.5 / 5
-out now

Put four self-described indie noise-rockers hailing from San Fran in a room and what do you get? Hopefully not something like Buzzmutt's Static in the Mind's Eye, a dozen way underground tracks that aren't afraid to mimic any sonic sources, including an plane's extended flight ("The Trickster"). These tracks are angular and, yes, "indie"; so don't expect an easy way into them, or out of them, or around them even. Our issue with this release is the material's shade of pretense: these tracks are fairly basic, and it doesn't take much to imagine the kind of indie listener (i.e. very pretentious) who'd misuse phrases such as "alleviation of the music norms" to describe what Buzzmutt is doing here. Their song structure weighs much on monotone singing, decent but basic guitar riffs, and then a hefty smattering of extraneous noises (hence "Static") going around that don't factor a whole lot into the basic song. There are bands who can take some of these elements and spin it into gold, but what spins here isn't terribly complex, and it comes with that garage sound that good garage bands used to sound like before they became good. We're certainly pro-new-band-figuring-things-out, but they haven't crafted an album here, and we're going to get you guys to dodge this one.

Stream Buzzmutt at this inconspicuous link.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Big Science needs more of a challenge on Difficulty

Big Science - Difficulty
Self-released, online
-out now
3 / 5

The difficulty with albums ones like Chicago transplants Big Science is that they're not bad: it's a fair selection of classic-80s-inspired alt rock that the quartet has assembled here. But we've got to make the distinction to you guys (and/or gals) so it's gotta come down to whether you should purchase a release or not, and ultimately we're going to pass on this otherwise decent album. What is it lacking? We're not entirely sure; the song construction works on their confidently-paced "Loose Change Century" and the anthemic "Blind Our Eyes." When we hit "Headlight Song," the crew is still all working together rather well even if it's short of captivating. But what in Difficulty throttles us? Not a whole lot. These gentlemen are competent in their craft, but their debut here just doesn't have that special (apologies for the French) je ne sais quoi, that essence and life that makes a track last long after it's been played. It's the kind of insight that keeps us going back to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and those hella-rockin' Canandians Bella Clava, some sort of recklessness and depth that comes out in the music that's lacking here. We think when these guys challenge themselves a bit harder, their performances will reach up to the level we're looking for. But until then, take a pass.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bury Me a Lion digs up great talent on debut

Bury Me a Lion - Year of the Lion
Self-released, online
- out now
4 / 5

From out of nowhere comes this leaping lion at us from New York City, a quartet's worth of slightly punked modern rockers. Go ahead, spin up that opener; if "Be Your Own Bomb" doesn't swagger like a Mick Jagger then maybe you're hearing wrong - these guys are the real deal, and they sway with as much confidence as any sum of Strokes has. Actually, that's probably our best approximation to the Lion's sound: a Strokes kind of drive with a more enthused singer (and he's really solid to boot). Our other comparisons might include bands we rather despise - groups like Maroon 5 (for their energy) and other more pop-prone outfits - but the fact of the matter is we've got that link down there for y'all to check them out, and we're telling you to do just that. In this game, it's unfortunate that a lot of bands get buried and lost (buried - get it???) but sometimes that happens; unlike most of those guys just cutting their teeth, BMaL is ready and rip-raring to go, whether on their sundry straight rockers or on a somber one like "The Road." Try them. It's not their year yet, but they're going to get enough traction in the next few that you'll want to be in on the ground floor. Don't bury this one; recommended.

Check out their album (and buy if you likey) right on the LION!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Newport Folk Festival, 2012 - Sunday Review

The Olympics are blaring in the background; we admit, it's tough breaking away from all the young athletes giving their all. All the hard training, focus, skill... there are a great many talents that require an exceptional heft of dedication, not just performing music.
So we figure we'd showcase this exceptionally young banjoist (all photos © Julia Markowitz). The Mizzone trio (fiddle, banjo, guitar) could just as easily have named themselves The Middle School Bluegrass Bunch - instead, they went for Sleepy Man Banjo Boys. Better ring perhaps. Jonny, at 10, is the youngest of the soon-to-be high schoolers, and we just can't get over how this pic makes him looking lahk he chawin a pinch o tobaccy. It's pure, old-fashioned bluegrass the way Ole Miss remembers (despite the NJ tags), minus the brawling and spittoons, of course. C'mon, they're only kids!

And Sunday was the day of the banjo. Between R.J. Storm and Sara Watkins, you couldn't hardly swing a dead cat and not get some bluegrass on it. Thank god Trampled by Turtles followed up on the main stage.
Damn, another banjo band. Well, there's no way around it sometimes, and now we've learned to stick above the Mason-Dixon (with minimal police involvement). These guys are great, but a quick admission is necessary: we never sunk in to their records. They've got a new one out this year, Stars and Satellites, and having listened to one off of it, we're going to say that everything you need to know about the band is onstage. They have an absolutely insane live set - bluegrass tinged with a Jimi Hendrix rock-mentality (not a surprise given their pasts) - and they apparently need to keep above 60 notes-per-measure or Sandra Bullock's bus will explode. We might've reported on them last year at the Fest, and maybe it's not technically possible, but they seemed to blaze even hotter this past weekend - probably it was Ryan Young's domination on the fiddle solos (second from L) through the set. Our inner boyscout was surprised that thing wasn't a tinderbox in his hands: honestly now, your "woodsman" dad could start a forest fire with less effort. Check out this live set, especially the cover of "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You," and then go see them live. A lot of their tour seems to be selling out, though.

H+H: Head and the Heart. Here:
We downloaded their album a couple weeks before the Folk Fest, and yeah, it was worth every dime (definitely worth more than those two bucks). After the Turtles brightened up the stage ("I don't think it's going to rain," sayeth Turtle Dave S. - and lo...) Miss Thielen et al. took advantage of the sunshine to bring out their own. What started out to be a good performance - a bit too faithful to their debut - quickly became a "turn it to 11" kind of moment toward the end. Yeah. We felt a bit guilty about not huffing over to sample most of the acts, but really, The Head and the Heart's performance was one of a handful that made us feel much better about sitting more of them through.
Besides, not like we're real media coverage, anyway. The last few, leading up to the smashing "Rivers and Roads," oof.

Another random dudeguy here.
That's Conor Oberst. Some people love him, some hate, and if you have more than a couple Bright Eyes albums then we're guessing you're in at least the first camp. Good, we are too. It was misting as he started up, yet another toothless threat, and we quite (quite) enjoyed "Classic Cars" with Swedes First Aid Kit. We might've possibly appreciated Jim James returning the favor of a guest appearance (one of several), but we especially loved "Lua" with the Kit'ers. It's a gorgeous song, no way around it, and even though Bright Eyes might infuriate some of you, we especially you check out this set at least just for that one.

Well now, that's it for our Newport Folk Fest coverage this year! And, we do want to remind y'all that the stuff at Fort Adams these three days (no Wilco coverage on Fri, sorries!) was maybe half of it. Yeah, Jackson Browne did close up this day... moreso the rain did, though... but we heard some incredible things belted from him at the Newport Blues Cafe. Check out next year, and even if you can't get in (tics were sold out months ahead) keep your eyes on all those satellite concerts around the Folk Fest too: Oberst at Jane Pickens, Head and the Heart at Calvin Theatre in MA, Dawes... gee, next week. It's a veritable downpour of talent in the area, and with an uncountable number of years of dedication hopping from stage to stage, well... we'll make some sort of lazy comparison to training for the Olympics, but we'll spare you that. We haven't been at this all that long, so take this for what it's worth, but this year's lineup was the strongest we've known. Let it also be said "quality over quantity," and as far as other festivals go, Newport's digs deeper than we've seen to find new acts. Just check out the 20+ groups on each of Sat. and Sun.; that's quite a lot of glossing we had to do. Okay, last thing to be said: keep you up to date on next year's, and let the good times rock-and-roll.
-A Very Tired Mgmt.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Newport Folk Festival, 2012 - Saturday Review

It's that dreaded music moment: the morning after. Okay, so technically, yesterday was the morning after, and it's well into the afternoon right now, but that same dread carries over pretty fierce. Still, it was four stages of acts (one more than 2011), about five acts per stage over about six hours... that's getting folked pretty hard, we'd say.
We're still recuperating from a bludgeoning of music, so our mind's still foggy. We roughly recall one Julia Markowitz as photographer (height? weight? age? still too foggy to guess) so many thanks to her for strapping a camera around (yes, all photos copyright JM) and dragging us around by the ankle. The first thing we remember about that whirlwind of a day was this:
My Morning Jacket's headman Jim James, if you didn't know. He thrashed and thundered, cracking the skies open, and we could've used some jackets while he... wait, that should be the end of this post. Sorry, still clearing up, so let's get back on track.

These folks opened the main stage, and if you've kept up with us the past six months, you'd know we adore them (and their 2011 full-length) most immensely. Without further ado, MorganEve with that short 'do:

And this time, she's partnered with Dane Cook:
That was too mean, but he does kinda look it; apologies all around regardless. With Mr. Lamb of Brown Bird (minus the beard, oh well), the duo moved up in the world - or in the NFF, anyway - and showcased some fantastic tracks off of "Salt for Salt." Debuting a couple new tracks, presumably off of an album-in-progress, the crowd was slightly less enthused. We're not especially worried, as Brown Bird's song construction is, simply put, crazy: shifting tempos, searing tempos, choruses into bridges into instrumental jams into different bridges into transforming pickup trucks... well, you can't entirely fault them for not having caught up with their own songs yet. Those need some spit polish, but you can almost hear the spittle flick off David Lamb's lips during "Bilgewater," "Cast No Shadow" and their other more-practiced tracks. Yeah, they definitely got those ones down pretty good.

We're honestly not trying to spam you guys with pics, but we liked this one.
With all the good pics to choose from, it's tough to make decisions. John McCauley of Deer Tick fame. He's only been on the scene, so to speak, for four years? and still, he's got such a depth of material to dig from, between four albums (full-length... isn't that crazy?) and enough collaborations in random places that we actually lost count - that part's really crazy. Busy bee, yes. But it makes for a solid set, and even with a screeching opener (probably to scare away newcomers), it's quite divine listening to new stuff ("The Bump") between some old stand-bys ("Art Isn't Real," "Easy"). It also doesn't hurt to bring along a mischievous elf, too.
Whatever happens, don't let it get in the piano!! We're not entirely sure why Delta Spirit's Matt Vasquez felt the need to incite a general riot, or how he got through strict Folk Fest security (empty guitar case?), but the audience went crazy. Again. You'd think they'd put a tracker on this guy after last year's mayhem.

Unfortunately, their set overlapped with Alabama Shakes. They say you only get one first impression.
Ours was of a middle-school teacher who liked that "seafoam" was a color. Well. Perhaps we were a bit unfair in showing a picture first; what we should've done was offered a quick stream of "Hold On" that day. There's probably one word to describe Brittany Howard's vocals, but we're not smart enough to cull it down, so here are two: pure soul. The honest wailing that sounds like heaven and comes from elsewhere. We're not sure NPR's mics could catch half the hit her voice gave the crowd - and us - but this girl's got pipes, and you've got to hear them live. Some things just don't transfer well any other way.

We'll try not to dawdle much more, so let's start wrapping it up. The gentlemen Dawes.
We could spend half the post talking about their performances here, but instead we're going to suggest you hunt down an NPR stream: "Fire Away," "How Far We've Come." Etc. etc. The weather had been glooming over most of the day, and we were positive it was going to hit while these guys were up. Fortunately, it relented even during
Iron and Wine. We're not attempting the cheap rain + iron kind of joke, we're on a tight schedule and weather's not great, but we will admit much enjoyment over "Long Black Veil." We could argue Iron and Wine vs The Band vs Johnny Cash vs Nathaniel Hawthorne (the classic writer... too obscure?) but the cows would come home, and someone else would have to put them away cause we'd spent too much time arguing with ourselves. We do much enjoy Sam Beam and suspect fellow I+W fans to enjoy the fresh re-arrangements of "Boy With a Coin" and "Lion's Mane" et al. We're still sticking with "The Creek Drank the Cradle," but this set was satisfying.

We almost forgot! No more pics, we promise but scroll up to that first one - yeah, the Jim James one. Now back here.

That set thundered. Those hardworking folks who bring acts to the Festival - especially NFF producer Jay Sweet - were just plain stoked to land My Morning Jacket this year. As if to celebrate the occasion, Mr. James donned a white tux (plus boutonniere - yeah, we had to look it up) and accented it with a black cape for the more blasting parts of their setlist. We were quite content to watch the weather swirl about, twisting into a space-out Pink Floyd jam-frenzy version of "Victory Dance." Miss Ala. Shakes herself took the stage - some of those rumbles from maybe above the PA system - and when fellow Monster-of-Folk Conor Oberst came aboard, there was no doubt it wouldn't hold off. It opened, and poured.
The tease.

(Now stick around for part II...)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ravings PII: All music blogs are terrible and useless.

While we* were at the Newport Folk Festival this past weekend ("we" being actual "we," not our fond royal "we"), we were pondering something. We're not exactly sure how to put this, but here's where the idea was started: during one of the sets, it started raining. Another media-type beside us (most likely, tag hidden under a coat) started texting or tweeting or some sort of thing on his phone. While it was raining. Drops hit on the screen, and still "bip, bop, boop" and all that good stuff.
Here then, is the thought: how stupid are we? As in "we, the media," not people in general or us in specifically, the royal "we."
We specifically are pretty awesome, as far as media(ish)-types go.

Still, we're reporting (or soon to report) on the Newport Folk Festival, a live venue obviously, and how useful is it to you, the music purchaser (commonly known as "y'all") to hear what we have to say - or tweet - well after the fact. It is one thing to recommend an album you guys may go into the record store to pick up, but to give a review of bands you may or may not have wanted to see, and well after you're able to see them, what good does that do y'all?
We think we have the solution.

The problem, first, is that blogs are terrible. They are brown-nosing, grubby, tweedling little trolls that thrive on coolness law of "I was there, therefore I am." This only makes brown-nosing worse. While we respect that bands and musicians take years, not months or weekends or coffee breaks, to learn their instruments, and several more to hone their sound and develop their voices, honest media show respect through, erm, honesty. Really. Not that we care about all that, but we've heard good things about it. Just so y'all (the readers) know where we all (reviewers) are coming from.

We get free music. We review said free music, and get why a person might get antsy to write something good about it. So in our honest experience, we find the large music-bloggery to be largely a waste of time. Play Scrabble instead. Walk the dog already. In who-knows-how-many-years we still haven't found a good critic with our particular tastes, so we're not expecting you to, either. Yes, really. Don't be afraid to turn off the computer, cause is not the only place that will play Super Ultimate Superband's "Super Single." If they're really that good, you'll probably hear them around somewhere else, right? Deductive reasoning, b##ches.

(Obviously, it's important to keep on your $800 iPhone through rain and snow and tornadoes - no exceptions.)

Blogs come and blogs go, but that cash spent on "A Salt-n-Pepa Christmas" never comes back. Keep that in mind when you can't scrape two nickles for an old Creedence vinyl.

*All of that ranting above - we're obviously the exception. Of course. Certainly feel free to comment below on where/how you find good music, it can sometimes be quite a process. Above all, enjoy,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kiwanuka's debut takes us home... yet again

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
Interscope Records
-out now
3 / 5

The heartfelt Brit has been making quite a splash on the other side of the pond there; his debut full-length has garnered comparisons to soul icons including Bill Withers and vintage vinyl sound. Sonically, these comparisons are fairly accurate: take a warm voice and soft guitar, and maybe you get one of James Talyor's contemporaries. Maybe. But as much as we like the opener, Taylor's session-man Kiwanuka is not - if you get that particular grammar. The title track is a fairly run-of-the-mill "gotta be movin' on" kinda thing, and if you peruse the other titles on this album, you'll pretty much come up with the rest of the songs on your own. The thing is, Kiwanuka really does have a good voice, but the material doesn't come up to challenge that; moreover, it doesn't let Kiwanuka bare his teeth, it doesn't show anything other than a sweet, sentimental singer crooning a few out before you push your shopping cart around again. That is to say, despite his good voice (and the fantastic production values - check out the muted trumpets, flutes, half an orchestra), Home Again hits the "again" note more than the "home" one: this debut is a diminishing return to the age of classic singer-songwriters, baring heart but not wisdom. It's nice for a spin or two, but we're going to hold out until Kiwanuka really startles us with something new. Take a pass for now.

Listen to a few on his website.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Everything is Dawes Tour 2012

[Photo © Men's Journal 2011] So, these guys. Again. They're hitting up the Newport Folk Festival this year, and afterwards are pulling up their lobster traps in New England the following weekend.
So, we aren't the hugest fans of their sophomore album, we'll be quite honest, but we are big fans of these guys as musicians and, well, as guys. So much so that we're erroneously naming their opening for Mumford and Sons on several country-wide dates the "Everything is Dawes Tour, 2012." Let talent be called out: most of the NE dates are filled up, but we espy an couple openings in Vermont and NY *pshaw* for those lucky enough to grab them (July 31 and Aug. 7, respectively). Our fingers are crossed to catch them at the PPAC in little Rhody on the 6th... perhaps close enough to smell the Goldsmiths' hair...
Just kidding. Honestly. But we do recommend a quick recap of these guys-es stuff, starting with Taylor Goldsmith's collab on Middle Brother - "Blood and Guts" (monster pipes) and "Million Dollar Bill" (stellar penning) to name a couple. We're going to catch up on their debut full-length North Hills when we have a breather from overcrowding them at the NFF, and we strongly suggest you do, too. Not overcrowd, that's not nice; but we figure you all still have almost a week to snag a tic for you and a buddy/ potential date. Or a buddy's date, we won't judge. After she hears "Blood and Guts," she probably won't either.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chris Price's debut a bit more than Homesick

Chris Price - Homesick
PTB Music
-out now
2 / 5

It takes an L.A. weirdo like Chris Price to record his debut entirely on an iPhone, and quite frankly, he made a pro call on it: Price has a kind of a very slight basement glaze over the audio, the kind that small acts pay a ton to get up to, or that big acts pay even more to take their sound down to. We appreciate his ear for the subtle color, and moreso his reasoning behind it - taking the recording process back to old school, via The Beatles and (yes!) The Kinks. Despite the trip down nostalgia drive, there is a sizable speed bump here: Price's material ain't a Tiger in the Tank. The songs on his solo debut run the gamut of foot-stomping pop - "Up in Flames" - to the tenderer stuff ("For All We Know," much of the others), but really, we're trying to scrap up a reason to replace your (unnecessarily) embarrassing John Mayer playlist with this album. There simply isn't much here that gives us a sense of how Price's personality; his acoustic guitar and often-gentle vocals don't really distinguish him much, if at all, from the ocean of like-minded sensitive contenders. And to be honest, The Beatles (and certainly neither The Kinks) weren't all saccharine and eye-gazy: "You Can't Do That," "Another Girl," "Norwegian Wood" anyone? Let alone the stuff they did after Rubber Soul/Revolver; if all they did was make girls swoon, they'd just be an early N-Sync minus Justin Timberlake (which, musically, is really a plus). We much appreciated his professional ear on the audio, but what we really needed was a hint of turmoil, explosions, darkness, something; not just another pop boy-prop on stage. Pass on this one.

Facebook it! He's on iTunes via that link.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Newport Folk Festival question...?

So. All the tickets surrounding the NFF are sold out. Conor Oberst's solo concert in Newport went out in three hours - I didn't even have time to drive down. Everything else that's remotely related is gone, sold out, etc. etc. no more cookies left in the jar.
Except this one: Wilco on Fri.
Now we're guessing, what, with a brilliant new Wilco album out (finally! only waited like 10 years) there's still some standing room to catch these guys? So previous NFF years have been at the Tennis Hall of Fame (which was AWESOME, just so nice), and we're guessing there's a ton more seating for a solo performance at the Fort (plus Blitzen Trapper et al), but still, we're going out on a limb to say these guys are worth your 50 quid. We've caught Tweedy and the crew on more than a few occasions, and personally speaking, it has never been anything less than a total blast - even at the expense of missing the Red Sox breaking the curse. That was a conundrum, but honestly, they were up 3 games that day, and the tics were already paid for. Sorry sports guys/gals. It was the best ending to a show, however.
Asides regardless, this group is solid, "The Whole Love" is the other brilliant album we've been waiting for ("Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" is the first, of course), and if you're in Newport early that weekend, we strongly consider you check out their tracks and drop by. C'mon people, get your priorities straight!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Belushis - Shaker
Chained Lightning Records
- out now
3 / 5

Our hearts have been already been stolen by other Canadian rockers, which puts this Vancouver quartet in some tough competition. Taking cues from AC/DC and other classic rockers, The Belushis (love the name, by the way) pound their way through each of their dirty dozen, the way classic rock should be done. These songs don't stray too far from the time-tested formula of "sex + drugs + rock/roll," and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, these Belushis don't have a whole lot more to add to that. When you consider what makes classic rock truly classic, it's not the simple beat or blasting guitar; it's what that rock band has that no other does. AC/DC, Guns N' Roses - inimitable vocalists. The Guess Who - un-rock song concepts. Led Zeppelin - an out-of-tune guitarist, violin bows?? Regardless, the most successful rock acts develop an instantly recognizable musical voice (has a band ever successfully written another "Battle of Evermore"?), and in this genre, you also need a brilliant vocalist. Check those classic bands above: any group nowadays would kill - probably literally - to get any of those vocalists, sober or not. As such, we don't immediately connect with the tracks here, as hard and kick-arse as they are; a few spins later, and all the 'rock out and die' anthems here are about as enduring as they're going to get. These guys aren't particularly bad or anything, but your time and money are worth something, and we can think of other ways you could better spend either of those. Take a pass on this one.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kitty Clementine pulls out all the stops (and horns)

Kitty Clementine - Self-Titled
Clumpty Records
-out now
4 / 5

Who'd've thunk an Aussie from Sydney would bring gypsy charm and Big Easy stomp to, we don't know, rock? Big band? We're not too sure, but in either case, she's got big brass - horns - on her debut here, and how we appreciate horns. The dozen tracks here get dirty, in a foot-stomping, down-but-not-out blast-you-off-your-[butt] kinda way. It is pure pleasure being inundated with the personality, frustration and joy of this self-described "magician's daughter." Whether it's a straight-rocker like "We Should Know Better" or "It's Been Real," born from some muddy back alley in New Orleans, Clementine reels us in, hook line and sinker: she's got voice, color, and a great ear (and pen, too). And that spoken last track, "Who Be Brave," clinches it for us; how often does a musician's prose come off engaging and personal?  In short, she's got it here and in spades. Add to this the fact that you probably don't own an album this dense with character, and "Kitty Clementine" suddenly becomes an album you should check out. Totally under the radar, even for us, and certainly recommended.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ivan and Alyosha - Free Download

Okay, so we don't exactly have the album here. But allow us to introduce you to this website: NoiseTrade. We kinda like it on both fronts: helps smaller artists get out there, and helps you (the listeners) find them. For free. And if you like it and can afford a tip, more power to ya.

So then, Ivan and Alyosha have their debut full-length coming out later this year. (We're still dying to confirm a review on it, so fingers crossed.) In the meantime, head up to that website, and they'll throw an I + A sampler at you, "The Cabin Sessions." While you wait for the full-length, check out that website a bit more; some gems we've grabbed in the last year: Delta Spirit's fantastic EPs; Marketa Irglova live; Civil Wars live set. Can be a mixed bag, but it's a great way to find what you enjoy listening to.
And those albums don't stay up forever! So grab it while you can!
Peace out girlscouts,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Best of 2011! Several months later

Hello all! We figured we'd throw out a much-belated 'best of 2011' kind of list. It is nice to figure out what music from 2011 really rocked out, with enough time for it to settle in and really prove itself, as much as an extra 6 months will allow. So, here are our picks, in no particular order:

Brown Bird - "Salt for Salt":  The now-RI duo really know how to crank into a full-on, heavy gypsy groove with their new(ish) lineup. MorganEve and David (plus the occasional friend/relative) form as tight a unit as any duo we've seen, and even though they're waaaay off the radar - and the tempo's not 100% on a song - the music here is so different and diverse, we guarantee you'll be aching for more. If you can't appreciate the dark color of "Bilgewater" et al, then perhaps you should stop listening to teenybop and just grow up already. This is what grownups listen to.

St. Vincent - "Strange Mercy": This is what grownups listen to when they want to impress other grownups. On her third full-length, "Miss Vincent" has tamed some of her wilder electronic bizarr-ity and throws in a small handful of so-called "pop" genre into the mix. One of the results is "Cruel," which is the kind of song we sink our teeth into: a blipping, blasting electronic fuzz that's fun, catchy, and singable. We absolutely love that "Strange Mercy's" lineage comes from weird songwriting (the opener is titled after an old French film) and conquers that vague space of "pop/rock" from what should be an impossible angle. Incredibly fresh.

Gillian Welch - "The Harrow and the Harvest": Just plain gorgeous. Rest of review: Welch here is a master of simple, pared-down folk. Without a doubt. The fact that a banjo, guitar, and two voices captivate us on everything from "Hard Times" to "Tennessee" is simply astonishing. The music is low-key, very understated, and grabs your heart and soul. It begs experience to appreciate it. It ages like wine. Our only regret is not rating it higher than we did.

Middle Brother - "Middle Brother": They've hit it here. It's perfect. It's fantastic country. That is to say, it swaggers: it's arrogant and insincere and touching and deep. It's that annoying a-hole who lives in the bar, and this album is that one night you listen to him and understand him for the hour. Vasquez, McCauley and Goldsmith complement each other like fire complements ice complements some other basic, essential element. It is important music of the decade, and it's so enjoyable that you'll probably not notice how brilliant it really is.

Wilco - "The Whole Love": We didn't review this one. We tried desperately to get it. So we're going to break our "end of the year" rule and throw it in the top albums - it isn't, after all, the end of the year anymore. Some other music review stated that it was their best album since "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," and even though they're as trustworthy as a music review service (think "used car salesman"), they're absolutely right. "The Whole Love" is Wilco's best album since "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot." We're not positive this latest one is a classic (you know, a classic), but considering that our favorite song on here is the devastating 12-minute closer, just give it a couple years.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ryan Monroe's Painting doesn't paint a pretty picture

Ryan Monroe - A Painting of a Painting on Fire
RCM Records
-out now
2.5 / 5

We've got a few criteria for how we rate albums here - gut reaction, technical prowess, memory. Ultimately, when you buy an album, you want one that you'll play again and again, possibly find yourself humming a few tracks to yourself (hopefully not to your embarrassment). We were stoked to get Ryan Monroe's debut solo album (of Band of Horses fame), but honestly, we haven't spun this one up more than a few times over the same number of weeks. What gives? There's one absolute blow-out track: "Any Way, Shape, Or Deformity," which is 110% fantastic. Absolutely fun, fresh, groovy and phenomenal. But the other ten here, we can't remember a single phrase from the bunch. Not one. Those songs are passable, as in you won't severely disagree with your friend playing them in the car, but that's certainly no way to buy an album. Get that one insanely stellar track, RIGHT NOW, but as for the rest, they aren't worth the hard cash. Take a pass.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Nothing to Despise on Joe Pug's sophomore

Joe Pug - The Great Despiser
Lightning Rod Records
-out now
4.5 / 5

We at the blog make no secret of the fact that we really enjoy Joe Pug. Well, mostly. On his sophomore album, the folker strums back into a sound more reminiscent of his debut EPs; acoustic, bare, laid back. And while we generally don't up-thumb an artist who doesn't develop their sound, strangely enough, there's something a bit deeper on this one. Pug masters an incredible confidence in his singing and writing, pulling off relatively simple sons such as "Silver Harps and Violins," "One of Many," and most everything else here, never droning out his listeners or losing the emotional intelligence of what he's got here. It's a tough act to put out fairly stripped songs that stand on their own legs, and much tougher to make us enjoy them more with each listen. Our single complaint is the country-crooning "Stronger than the World," which is something of a sore thumb in an incredibly serious and tight songlist. But damn! - everything else is tender, quiet, and beautiful like a fall morning. Well done, Mr. Pug. Well done.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What're you doing June 6??

Hey y'all. So:

Now to bring you up to speed: Seer Group, aka, our friends behind the Boston-ish Grinding Tapes label, has put together a full-length of their own devious doing. Disclosure here's that we personally know much of the crew involved on this one, second thing is that this one certainly took a heck of a long time to put together, and was certainly effort that paid off. We think so, anyway.
So why are we throwing up this link to a space-trippy, pop turbo-charged album that came out a couple months ago? Well, 'cause we want you guys to keep open that first Wed. night in June. They've somehow managed some time between putting out tiny mtns and The Points North releases to put on a full, spacetastic ultra-stellar show here at the Middle East in Cambridge. There's a whole slew of Boston-area bands in attendance, and we wanted to give you guys a heads-up on this album, let you check it out in time to check in to the show. Make sure you ask your parents about extending your curfew, 'cause it's 8p -12:30a.
What are you waiting for! This stuff's totally nebular (???). Go put it in your ears, and hopefully we'll see you there,

PS parts of Owlpine were featured in this brilliant, life-changing film linked here

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Newport Folk Festival Update!

So! Fellow New Englanders, not only has Wilco been added to the NFF lineup on Friday night (check out, but Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes, Mystic Valley Band, et al) has another, later Friday night show at the Jane Pickens Theater because, well, he's at the Folk Fest and apparently has time to kill. It's a charming little venue (emphasis on 'little'), and we very very greatly suspect these tickets will sell out incredibly quickly; check it out right here. The tics go on sale this Friday, and we're gonna scramble downtown to pick up a pair. Strongly suggested you folks who are checking out the Folk Fest consider this show, too, while you have a chance.
For those of you not terribly familiar with downtown Newport, it's not at the festival stomping grounds: follow Broadway going south, stay stuck in traffic for a while, and when it takes a bend to the right, it's technically within sight. But you probably won't see it past the park, so, por favor, google it so you aren't wandering around for half an hour! Its camouflage is part of the local charm, yeah.
Keep on a-rockin',

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

17 Pygmies come up short (pretty good title, eh?)

17 Pygmies - CIII: Even Celestina Gets the Blues
-out now
2 / 5

The incredibly ambitious finale to the Celestina trilogy of albums finds the L.A. galactic indie rockers dabbling in the forms of the short story, screenplay, and possibly even novel to present their interstellar tale. So, yes: ambitious. And while the Pygmies certainly show a lot of enthusiasm for their material here, the listener must ask the question: Where's the beef? We put this one to our ears a couple times, and after track 4 (aptly named "Celestina XXVI"), there isn't really a whole lot beyond their songs' repetitive foundation to grip onto. That's fifteen minutes, and four tracks, of slow, ambient build; never mind the crew's lost in space until "Celestina XXX." We haven't been this frustrated with this kind of "all to show nowhere to go" since My Morning Jacket's "Circuital," though to be fair, MMJ's previous album is worthy of our worship. We do appreciate artists who go out on a limb to experiment, but at the same time, we know your money (dear readers) and time are valuable to you; that experiment should pay off before you should pay out. On this one, the Pygmies are too much in love with their own voice, and though it may have modest charms, their ambition here has blinded them to what is really a sluggish, plodding album as formless as the inky black of space itself. Take a pass on this one, 'cause it's not going to replace "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" any time soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Twin Trip - Self-titled
Flower Records
-out tomorrow
3 / 5

Brainchild of Felix Penny, the not-so-aptly-named trio Twin Trip craft alt-rock with a slight infusion of galacticism. There are a handful of things we like about this release: solid, catchable choruses, straightforward songwriting, and "Heavy Load," a get-your-rocks-off super-dramatic killer single. "Twin Trip," in short, ain't a bad album. It isn't, however, the kind of album that you rush to put on, or play in your head constantly and make your friends uncomfortable because you're always singing a few lines from it. It's good, but despite the solid playing, there isn't a whole lot to really thrill us; after the last track is spent, all that truly remains is a couple groovy beats (c.o. "Four Wise Monkeys"), a hook or two, and a small handful of kinda-predictable chord changes. We get the sense these guys really like what they've put out here, and they have every right to, but we don't get the feeling they needed to put this one out. So we're gonna hop on that and say that you guys (our readers) likely don't need this one, either, even though nothing in particular offends about this album. It's a great stepping-stone for the band, but we're gonna hold off our recommendation until a truly great one comes from these guys; for now, take a pass.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Amy LaVere in Cambridge, MA 3-15-12

Well. We're not going to lie and say that Amy had a bigger crowd than Rich Robinson, the main act last Thursday. But we are going to say that her trio (Shawn Zorn d., David Cousar g.) certainly deserved one. Our gal in Memphis felt the love in the dingy TT The Bear's, and armed with her repaired acoustic bass (plus stickers of Johnny Cash, a cartoon), the diminutive bassist + two conjured a mood perhaps more fitting for a slightly cleaner basement bar; judging on the dark color of their songs, plus the knit, almost jazzy vibe between the three, we're going to presume they'd fit in a seedy venue in gay Paris. Unlike Robinson's 'blast the mid-range through and pretend they hear the vocals' approach, LaVere and her crew showed far more restraint and balance through tunes ranging from Bowie to Waites, and of course, her own 'knuckle-draggers' on her latest full-length. We're going to complain that they only got just under an hour for their set before the Black Crowes-man got to his sound and fury (signifying... well, the release of his album we suppose), but in that brief moment we were surprised by the depth of moods conjured by the light setup. LaVere's three reminded us much of another trio, the short-lived Morphine, both in darkness and - damn! - range of color. From heavy, low-ended, sultry seduction, all the way to bright, 'open up the shades already' sway ("Stranger Me," no less), we're going to affirm that their live act is no one-note band. In short, live: impressive. And she's really sweet in person, too. Check out her further dates on her site, and her upcoming gig in The Wandering. Yo.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Amy LaVere in Cambridge! This Thursday!

For a sweet-looking gal, there seem to be a lot of skeletons in Amy LaVere's closet; and likely in the river, under the floorboards, etc. etc. The Memphis-based singer and acoustic upright bassist plucks her dark, almost sociopathic love songs at T.T. the Bear's in Cambridge this Thursday (check it out here) in support of her third full length, Stranger Me. While we doubt she's going to showcase her Fruit of the Loom again (link not provided, but check out MTV's '$5 Cover'), we strongly suspect she'll bring out some of her sunnier tunes, possibly including "Pointless Drinking" and the new "Red Banks" (lyrics - "I didn't push him in [the river]/ He'da killed me if I did"). So yeah, if you're the kinda gal (or guy) who thinks a chorus like "Killing him didn't make the love go away" works as a singalong, then you might want to get there early and stake out a seat at the bar. The Tennessee gal opens for Rich Robinson, and we hope he knows that pitcher she keeps swigging from ain't just water. Bring your broken heart and love of cheap brandy, you'll fit right in.

Monday, March 5, 2012

"Delta Spirit" lacks much of band's energy, spirit

Delta Spirit - Self-titled
Concord Music Group
-due March 13
3.5 / 5

Here it is, the third full-length follow-up to 2011's Middle Brother. In comparison to Deer Tick's and Dawes' latest LPs, we're going to say the Cali band's release here is the strongest of the three; yet, we're going to admit that wasn't a terribly strong contest. Fans inducted by their debut EP, I Think I've Found It, will find this latest album passable, good enough to get their Delta Spirit fix. But, truth be told, are there any tracks here as socially aware as "Streetwalker," any raucous singalongs like "People, Turn Around?" Unfortunately, no and no. The single promoted here, "California," is pretty good. Lyrically, it's not as strong as it should be, and more importantly, it's musically not their apex: singer Vasquez doesn't really pull out the stops (and we damn well know he can), and moreover, the Spirit's percussionist hardly wavers from the 2-and-4 beat he's set up for this song. There are highs and lows, mostly punctuated by weak, repetitive drumming, and only every now and then do we get a peek at Vasquez's monster pipes. All in all, there are some good tracks ("Tear it Up, "Otherside") and some not great ones ("Tellin' the Mind" - still no idea what this one's about). It's good, but really, you're likely to plop in that debut EP anytime over this one. Still recommended for your Delta Spirit fix.

Check out the band and get a single right here!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

In one hour (Newport Folk Fest 2012 update)

Yes. That's right, the Newport Folk Festival, which takes place in Fort Adams State Park, will put their tickets on sale in about an hour. So, at 10:00 am ET, you'll be able to purchase tics to this two-day music extravaganza.
Now. Before you all flip out and ask 'yeah, but who's gonna be there this year?', let's remind you that this is the same festival that had Neko Case a couple years back, Middle Brother last year, Calexico in recent memory. So then, who's gonna be there this year? We dunno...
'K, we do. The press release is right in front of us. A lotta people, actually, but we don't feel like detailing every Conor Oberst or Iron & Wine who might show. In fact, we're going to make a point not to mention Dawes, or the Head and the Heart, not even Jackson Browne, who, if he were to make an appearance at the NFF this year (which takes place July 28-29), would make this his first appearance. But we're not gonna tell.
So! Check out the site in about an hour - - and keep in mind, the tickets last year SOLD OUT. OUCH, that's gotta hurt. So if you think you might possibly enjoy any of the aforementioned acts (though we're not gonna not-mention them again) your clock has started. My Morning Jacket. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ravings!! P1.2: Why you should buy music!!!

Our good friends at Grindingtapes made this little public service announcement a while ago, sorry for sitting on it so long:

Just one good reason to support your local record store. Well, maybe not 'good,' just technically a reason.
On an unrelated note, these guys (we hear) are working on some random collaborations. Well, they always are, but according to our intel, there's a pretty hot shower scene out there...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ravings P1!!: "Music Nowadays Sucks"

Hello ones and alls,
Here at RMMM, we realize how little we've been reviewing/interviewing, and wanted to apologize. Things are very quite busy behind the scenes, and it takes a bit of time to run a blog. But we figured it's actually easier just to rant and rave, rather than give you useful music tips, and besides, we have a name to earn on this blog.

Our first question actually comes from a HS friend whom we haven't seen in a few years, and whom hasn't actually posed a question: why does music suck? Actually: why does music nowadays suck?
Our position: you're not listening in the right places. But maybe there is a reason there are no more Pink Floyds and Tom Petties.
And, to clarify: we don't actually like Tom Petty that much - this friend does, and cited Petty as an example of 'good ole music.'

His answer: people are stupid. This is true. But we don't believe people from the 50s and 60s are any smarter than people nowadays (I mean, they were doped and drugged up most of the time, and what little brainpower hippies had was quickly disposed of in ashtrays). We'd like to think there's another answer that no one's addressed: technology. When radios used to look like this, and Elvis had a record player in his car (I'm trusting Ivan and Alyosha's Tim Wilson on this nifty little trivia), you had to sit around, take time out of your day, just to listen to music. And radio plays, and news, etc. etc. How many people do that nowadays?
Did TV kill the radio star? Not so much; we think this guy's the culprit. Yes, that pyle you see in front of you is most likely how you take in your musical diet, and certainly how people have judged bands for the past several decades. Remember that recording scene in the music movie "Once?" The sound producer pops the demo into the car and drives around - the final test of whether something's good (and will sell). Instead of sitting in front of a radio and really listening to what's going on, "radio music," or really "car radio music" is that stuff that's in the background because you have more pressing things to do, ie, not crash your car and die. You probably won't pop in Coltrane or Beethoven in the car, unless you're an artsy snob or a serial killer, and definitely not Ornette Coleman (though honestly, I could never get him even lying down and with a stiff drink). So what works in a car? Stuff with a strong beat, stuff that's singable (as long as no one's around), and stuff that's not horribly psychologically complex. Not the Antlers, for instance.
There's some bad, but there's also some good, too. You can't listen to Beethoven's 3rd all day and night. At least not without the FBI knocking on your door. But as technologies change, and how we listen/ or watch music, musicians (artists, more generally) need to keep adapting their techniques to reach the audience on that medium. Television, after all, is most likely the culprit for Madonna's cone-shaped breasts. Link not provided (you're welcome).

The question my friend didn't ask, and didn't think to ask, is this: where's it going? I dunno. The ipod/ portable music player... you can run with that, right? Maybe heavier dance-beat stuff will be more popular because now you can run with it - unlike "skip-protection" CD players. Maybe this guy will get his day (a good thing). Maybe people won't really run with it, but choose stuff that you really have to listen to - Beethoven and Coltrane again. There's also Spotify (which stinks, which we personally hate, which everyone seems to have) which adds social media to the mix. Maybe more posturing ("I'm a fan of 'Is Tropical,' are you???"), but still another technology bands will adapt to. There's certainly a buck in that racket.

Yes, this is all negative, and terribly pessimistic, but still, our friend is jaded, and stupid, and horribly, tragically wrong. There most certainly is good music. It just takes a little while to find it. Start looking at musicians who can't afford TVs or cars or computers.
(We'll save our rant about what's wrong with music reviewing for another time.)
Go out! Sample music! Take recommendations from your friends! It's definitely out there, and it's definitely worth finding.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Field Music plumb the brilliant depths of the concept album/suite

Field Music - "Plumb"
Memphis Industries
- out today!
4 / 5

We liked their previous double-album Measure, and really, we like Plumb even more. Field Music has drawn comparisons to Electric Light Orchestra, and on this latest release, they certainly show ELO's ambitious sense of suite. As fifteen tracks (roughly 2-3 min each), you get a sense of incredible journey, of a brilliant, coherent travel through so many different shades of their innermost creativity. As a thorough (and rather gorgeous) suite, it's difficult to pick out a single or two that describes this album, and that's our main reason for loving this album. Yet, if you absolutely need a sense of their orchestral, playful precision, try out "A New Town" and "Just Like Everyone Else." Our only minor regret is that the ending doesn't quite complete this concept album, that it doesn't sum up the preceding 40 minutes and leave us with a sense of closure. But when you consider how far they've taken you on this one, that truly is a daunting task. Recommended.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Moments of animal joy in Shearwater's eighth

Shearwater - "Animal Joy"
Sub Pop
-out tomorrow
4 / 5

We're glad we caught wind of Shearwater's latest installment of powerful, emotive songwriting. As a follow-up to The Golden Archipelago, Animal Joy is a bit rockier, a bit more straightforward (check out the drums on 2-and-4 on several tracks), and makes us a bit more wistful for the sheer gorgeousness of that last one. This feel is culminated in "Immaculate," a song that drives too directly, is raised too much to be a 'radio-friendly' track. That is not the Shearwater we know. "Dread Sovereign," "Believing Makes it Easy," and "Insolence," those are what Shearwater is all about; these are some of the several tracks that makes glad we caught up with this Texan band. They are masters of depth and emoting, they are a go-to band when you need a slow-burner to eclipse the sun. Of the eleven here, only 2-3 fall through the cracks; yet, we highly recommend you put your ear to this album, especially those three above, if you want songs meant to crush your gut. Did we say to pick this one up? - might as well restate that, in case you missed it: recommended.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where you been?

Hello ladies and gentlefolks,
Sorry about the delays! We've got a couple super-anticipated ones coming up in a bit, but before we get there, just letting you guys know that we're juggling tons of projects over here, and are looking to scale back a bit. Feel bad? Come write for the blog!
But really, 'preciate the patience, and thanks for your continued clicks. Peace out,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Unsung Heroes finds a strong voice in Brian Lynch

Brian Lynch - "Unsung Heroes" (3 Vols)
Hollistic Musicworks
-out now
4 / 5

Brian Lynch is a master of over-achieving: on his Grammy-winning latin jazz album Simpatico (with Eddie Palmieri), we were blown away by the astounding quality - and quantity - of music provided. Jumping far beyond a measly 1.5 hrs here, the brilliant concept behind this three-volume set is worthy of recognition in and of itself; on Unsung Heroes, the Urbana, IL native compiles several relatively unknown jazz trumpeters and their compositions to cover. The amount of aural scholarship and knowledge is valuable enough, in our estimation, but Lynch also provides a tight ensemble here, with his always excellent musicianship and well-crafted solos. Our only regret on this fantastic volume of work is that it isn't as fiery and engaging as Simpatico, with its diverse, driving playlist, and we're going to suggest you to pick up that one first. But hey, intense criticism is what you get for winning a Grammy (sorry Brian!). We're going to recommend this one on its several merits, and suggest jazz-o-philes turn an ear to this modern trumpeter.

Start streaming it right here!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bella Clava flies straight as the Holy Crow

Bella Clava - "Holy Crow"
-out now
4 / 5

Paralyzing lyrics, heavy, foot-stomping guitar and blasting melodies make this album one of those rare gems that you can't wait to tell your friends about. Based in Toronto, the classic-rock inspired quartet pounds out high-wire riffs like they'd gone out of style, and here on their debut LP, there's more than enough slash-and-burn going on to make you nauseous from rocking out. It's difficult for us to pick out only a handful of tracks when the album on the whole is incredibly strong, but suffice it to say that if the opener "Ding Dong Ditch" somehow doesn't get you up and started, then you should check your pulse. While the performances here are excellent (especially Caitlin Dacey's driving vocals) the real champion here is the top-notch songcraft, which is dynamic, exploring, and goes into every space it that it should. We regret not catching up on this one for you guys in 'aught-eleven, but here it is: download it, enjoy it, bathe in its sheer, heavy glory. Bella Clava is one band you'll want to keep track of in the coming years. Highly recommended.

Holy crow! They've got their debut for free???