Monday, November 12, 2012

Now Hear This!

Wow, has it really been more than two weeks since I last posted? Much has happened in the ensuing fortnight.  Work at my full time job has hit the busiest time of the year, and a new client sits on the horizon for the marketing company I am helping to build - been putting in long days. The cats have been fixed, and yet have not calmed down an iota.  They keep me sane, though, as do my family and friends and you, my dear readers.  A sincere thank you to those who have sent messages through the Facebook and Twitter pages asking how I'm doing.  Pretty well, actually - doctor gave me a clean bill of health, conditionally. (Still a few tests to run. You know, in all my free time...)  Just have to work on keeping the stress levels down.

Another thing that helps me when the demons get to playing too rough with me, of course, is music, and there's been a lot of it to enjoy around here lately.  If you haven't yet, please take a moment to read my reviews of new albums from The Dollyrots and Amy Gore & Her Valentines.  And here I've created yet another handy guide for you of some of the coolest things blaring from my speakers lately - things that should be blaring from yours, too. Your ears will thank you, and so will these artists.

One Eyed Doll- "Comitted (2012)"
Honestly, I did not purposefully wait to do another one of these "listening party" posts until there was new music from my raving fave duo from Austin, Texas.  Just a happy accident; an aligning of the stars; serendipity in action.  That they've made a new recording of one of my favorites from their entire catalog, and a new video to go with it, makes me grin a big ol' grin; that it could be my theme song given recent events just adds to the cosmic convergence of awesome music and real life. And what are these rumors of a possible new album in early 2013?

The Dying Elk Herd - "Don't Let The Riverbeast Get You"
Also making a reappearance from the last Now Hear This list are local faves The Dying Elk Herd, whose second single (and first video) is decidedly killer.  Campy fun and insanely catchy, the Herd strike a bit of a Presidents Of The United States Of America pose on this one. Which is a good thing. A damn good thing. Allegedly from the movie of the same name - at least we can hope so after seeing what they've done in just a three-minute music video. (The MTV-esque chyron at the beginning and end of the clip is a brilliant touch!)

Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave - "Where The Wild Roses Grow (2012)"
So there seems to be a lot of rerecording of oldies but goodies this year. The Dollyrots revamped "Because I'm Awesome," One-Eyed Doll took a new stab at "Committed," and one of the most unlikely yet eerily, hauntingly beautiful duets ever recorded has also been redone.  Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue are musicians from Australia, but beyond that there isn't much you'd expect to find in the combined section of their Venn diagram.  Yet in 1997 they came together to record a masterpiece. This year, they reunited on a new recording of the track for Minogue's Abbey Road Sessions album, and they nailed it again.  Click the link to hear the new take on Soundcloud, and prepare for a shiver down your spine.

Blondie - "Rock On"
It's hard to believe Blondie is approaching four decades (!) of music, but it's not at all difficult to accept that Debbie Harry remains the coolest hot chick (or hottest cool chick) in all of punkdom, still going strong at age 67. (Remember when no one was supposed to trust anyone over thirty?  Can we amend that to "under thirty" nowadays?)  Just finishing up the wonderfully named Whip It To Shreds tour with fellow old fogies Devo, Blondie unleashed a few new tracks via  The best of the bunch is this bass-heavy slink through a song that's as old as the band, David Essex's 1974 hit "Rock On." Smooooth....


Iggy Pop & Zig Zags - "If I'm In Luck I Might Get Picked Up"
Speaking of old fogies still rockin' after all these years, the always amazing Iggy Pop surfaced again recently helping to launch an intriguing series of limited edition color vinyl 45s issued on the Light In The Attic label in which a cover version of track the label has reissued is flipped with the original.  In this case, the former Jim Osterberg teams up with LA's Zig Zags for a murky gut-crunching take on Betty Davis's 1973 funk soul workout.  (That's Betty with a "y," not Bette Davis with an "e," which would have made this an even more cool thing.)  Check the clip, then pick up the vinyl:

Songs For Snakes - Charcoal Heather
You want people to hear your band?  You gotta take the bull by the horns! You gotta step right up and introduce yourself and blast them with sonic joy.  That's how I found out about San Francisco's Songs For Snakes and there seriously awesome Charcoal Heather album, currently available as a name-your-price download from  Band member Bill Taylor took it upon himself to send a message to the TWIWGTS Facebook page and point me in the direction of their music, which he describes as "Husker Du and Jawbreaker having a pleasant cup of green tea with Simon and Garfunkel." Well if a description like that doesn't pique your interest, there's something wrong.  Nothing wrong with Songs For Snakes, though.  My fave track is "St. Mary," but the whole dang LP is just as good. Get it and spread the word.

First Times - "(I Don't Wanna) Party No More"/"Girl On The Run"
Can't tell you a whole lot about First Times other than they're from Helsinki and they've been introduced to the world through this impossible-to-order import debut single. (Anyone read Finnish and willing to help me navigate the webstore for their label, Combat Rock?) Oh, and they rock. Hard. At least on the absolutely killer A-side, anyway. The flip slows the barrage about a half-step and underscores the band's sonic similarity to Sahara Hotnights.  I NEED this single, dammit!  Catch both songs here via Bandcamp:

Swilson - "Witchtrial Modern Day"
"If Roky Erickson was a member of the cast of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, he'd be Swilson," says Classic Rock Magazine in perhaps the most perfectly crystallized description of any artist ever.  Swilson sounds like what every garage band made up of stoned kids thinks they sound like in their own heads. Swilson the man co-hosts the wonderful Advanced Demonology podcast, a monthly offshoot of the indispensable Movies About Girls podcast I've raved about on this blog before; Swilson the band makes wonderful music like "Cool Skull," the title track to a long-awaited EP you can hear at the link above, "Polyester Shirt Polyester Pants" from their debut Demonology LP, and the mindbending "Witchtrial Modern Day," presented for your listening and dancing pleasure here:

1-800-Band - "Maraschino"
For a long time I thought the world was basically out of good, clever band names.  Then I found these guys and wondered why no one had thought of this one before.  These Brooklynites keep the clever coming in their music, too, bringing an updated 1979-ish New Wave groove into the present day.  They've got an album on iTunes and a live set from WFMU on  They make me smile.

Angelspit - "Defibrulator"
Not sure how this Aussie electro-punk outfit has escaped my notice over the course of 8 albums.  I mean with a punky/plinky sound like theirs and band members with names like Zoog and Destroyx, I should have been all over this.  Instead, here I am playing catch-up.  At least the oversight is being rectified.  This was the shard of sound that first stabbed my eardrums and pulled me into their retro-future-industrial-robot world. It can be found on last year's Hello My Name Is Angelspit.  It can be heard right here:

So there you go, a compendium of the sounds keeping my head on straight these days. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or speak up over on the Facebook or Twitter pages. For the record, these picks were made solely on my own enjoyment of the music. Ain't getting any kind of compensation from anyone on the list, save for the enjoyment of their work. If you like what you hear, please support the artists and spread the word.

Promise it won't be two weeks before the next post. No, really...
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