Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bear Hands look for strong indie rock grip in 2010

For all the relief that 2010 will bring people, the fact that there is at least one new band bringing together the sounds of indie for, well, a nice sound of indie, is even more reassuring.

Bear Hands, hailing from New York, bring in a little BOAT, some Cold War Kids and a touch of Modest Mouse and combine it with some rock and roll pomp to form a taught show of low-key frustration that already sounds like it could be one of next year's best new offerings. 

The band is streaming the tracks "What A Drag" (which you can also grab off the site for free) and "Can't Stick 'Em" on their Web site - both of which demand repeated plays. Their debut EP, What A Drag, is due out in February and a full length will drop at some point after that.

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Monday, December 28, 2009

Future of the Left - "Lapsed Catholics"

Lapsed Catholics by Future Of The Left  
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12 Lapsed Catholics.mp3 (6313 KB)

Either I ignored reviews of Future of the Left's sophomore album Travels With Myself and Another or I managed to miss each and every single one of them, because it appears the album was received pretty well in all corners.

What it took for me to actually download and listen to the album - five times in five days, as it now stands - was for it to land on Against Me! lead singer Tom Gabel's best of 2009 list over at Punknews.org. I thought, this guy keeps putting out great records, maybe he's got decent taste. 

Travels With Myself and Another is, in fact, a pretty good record. It's got some stomping noise and a little obscene attitude not unlike the boys in Art Brut only it is completely unlike them. Everything is a bit cheeky on the album, and sometimes political. Also, I can understand the repeated references the singer makes to his balls - mine play a pretty significant role in my life too.

"Lapsed Catholics," not only the longest song on the album, but also the last song on the album, has stuck with me each time I listen to it. When it ends, I play it again. The casual delivery of story and sudden stab of rock and roll is a refreshing wake-up at whatever point my day is at. It's the acoustic guitar, and the ridiculous lyric, and the noisy climax, and resonates better, I think, than mid-album pleaser "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You."

With a name like Future of the Left, I thought I was about to get the second coming of Refused. To a certain extent, I'm disappointed that I didn't get exactly that. What's left, however, is more than enough to make me listen to the album again tomorrow. And I'll hear this song at least twice.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jemina Pearl - Band On The Run

Band On The Run by Jemina Pearl  
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04 Band On The Run.mp3 (4852 KB)

Jemina Pearl has this mix of danger and sex that Demi, Selena and Miley would be smart to find if they want to stick around past high school. Watching all three of them, I'd be surprised if they (or their stylists) aren't big fans, not that it matters for our purposes here.

There's a lot that I love about Pearl - the lyrics, the attitude, the knee-high boots and daisy dukes she sports on the cover of the album - but her voice is what seals the deal on her solo debut Break It Up. She sings like a pop princess, or at least like she might have it in her to be one, only with a sneer that's probably followed by a broken nose if you look at her the wrong way.

This and more amounts to a win for the former frontwoman of Nashville punk band Be Your Own Pet, which imploded last year while the band was on tour. Being hailed as the new cool kids by none other than that ultimate source of everything cool, Thurston Moore, must have been a lot to handle.

Make no mistake, this is the same Jemina Pearl who was singing about stabbing girls after class with BYOP. She's just added some accessibility to the middle finger she's waving in your face.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's the difference between the Smashing Pumpkins and Zwan? Three band members, and quality control.

Holy shit Billy Corgan. The 1998 version of yourself would kick your ass if he could see you today.

Maybe you've forgotten that the Smashing Pumpkins put out three great, great records in the 90s: Gish, Siamese Dream, and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Then you decided to try to imitate some of what was going on in other areas of music and put out the decent, and underrated, Adore. After that, you totally lost the plot.

Sure, you wrote most of what ended up being on the albums, but if you think D'arcy, James Iha and Jimmy Chamberlin were just role players you're out of your damn mind. They were quality control. They added their own flavor to the songs you mostly wrote, which made those songs better. Go check and see for yourself.

Have you heard that new song you posted on your Web site? Look, I dig the whole posting-a-lot-songs-for-free gig. It's cool for fans and allows you to spread out and try some stuff. If the songs get better. Otherwise, I've got better things to do.

In "Song For A Son," I hear some interesting influence of Stairway (To Heaven, that is), I swear to God you're imitating the late-90s guitar sound of Metallica a little at points, and the lyrical egotism that made those first three albums great is still there. The problem is that the song really isn't very good. I only listened to it as much as I have because I want to warn people.

Please, stop trying to be the Smashing Pumpkins all by yourself. That 's' on the end, that makes it plural. Pick up the phone and humble yourself, even if only for a second. The world will thank you and maybe, just maybe, someone will enjoy what you're doing instead of just thanking you for continuing to work and giving away your music. 

Listen at the Smashing Pumpkin Web site and decide for yourself. I'm curious to hear if I'm the only one who is thoroughly disappointed.

Posted via email from Stephen Feller

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fools & Critters - Fools, Critters & Whatnot

Fools, Critters & Whatnot by Fools & Critters  
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03 Fools, Critters & WhatNot.mp3 (3374 KB)

At Halloween, I posted what I think is the best Charlie Brown sample ever. This here is more of an intro to the song, but it comes from one of South Florida's most underrated local bands to have entered a studio: Fools & Critters.

The mock & roll band, as they called themselves then and now, sang mostly about bullshit, taking the piss out of nearly anything they could think of. That I know of, the band released two albums, the studio classic Flingin' Powdered Doughnuts and a live tape called Does This Look Infected To You?

Of course, here's the song that anybody in South Florida who listened to WKPX in the mid-90s will know, "Spaceman Spiff". Once I discovered the song, we brought the band into the station for at least one interview and they sent us all sorts of exclusive studio stuff that I'm sure nobody else has.

Mark Herndon, the band's lead singer, also DJ-ed my brother's Bar Mitzvah - which must've been a frightening experience for him.

I'm not sure where they land in the lore of the SoFla local scene but I know I'm still talking about them, though I'm not really sure what that's worth.

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Monday, December 7, 2009

Operation Ivy - Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again by Operation Ivy  
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21 Here We Go Again.mp3 (2443 KB)

Does anybody still listen to Operation Ivy? It's one of the automatic albums I put back on my iPod any time I erase it. I should probably be over it by now, right?

Sometime in 8th grade, Steve Marsh put the Op Ivy album Energy on the other side of my tape that already had Bad Religion's Stranger Than Fiction on it. The album was five or six years old then, and is 20 years old now, yet everything about it is still fresh, and emotive, and appropriate for probably everyone's life.

Most of the lyrics to the variety of skate-punk and sped up ska on the album focus on thinking for oneself and resisting the pull of becoming just another asshole. 

There's very little chance of Op Ivy getting back together to play Energy around the country. I don't hear the classic rock station playing anything off this album either. So I'm taking it upon myself to get this back out there for those who never discovered it. Every song on this album is essential. Every. Single. Song. 

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blakroc - What You Do To Me (feat. Billy Danze, Jim Jones and Nicole Wray)

What You Do To Me (Feat. Billy Danze, Jim Jones & Nicole Wray) by Blakroc  
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10 What You Do To Me (feat. Billy Danze, Jim Jones & Nicole Wray).mp3 (9870 KB)

I've been listening to the Blakroc album for two weeks now. Obviously, "Coochie," the track featuring ODB and Ludacris is one of the best first album tracks of the decade. "Coochie," however good, is not what keeps bringing me back to the album. That would be the interplay between the almost minimalist usage of the Black Keys, and specifically whatever tracks feature Nicole Wray.

Frankly, I'd give this whole thing back (maybe not "Coochie") to hear what Nicole Wray could do on a full album with the Black Keys. She is almost certainly the highlight of the Blackroc album, appearing on four tracks, one of which features only her.

This, of course, is the same Nicole who was discovered by Timbaland and Missy Elliot, who scored a few hits of her own and helped along those of a few other stars, Elliot included. From her Wikipedia entry, it sounds like she's almost been a casualty of the record industry. I say, let her do an album with the Black Keys, or White Stripes, or whoever - she sounds great with live drums and guitars behind her.

Whatever Damon Dash did to bring this album together is good. He's using the riffs and beats of one of the best garage blues bands out there as a heavy bottom for MCs that run the gamut, from Raekwon and RZA to Q-Tip and Pharoahe Monch. The album is cohesive, has flow and is of a length that when it's over you not only want to start it again, but actually do.

Of the four tracks featuring Wray, I posted "What You Do To Me" because it's got the whole package: you've got vocals from the Keys themselves, killer verses from Billy Danze of M.O.P. and Jim Jones, and Wray bringing it home between and behind choruses and verses throughout the song.

For more, check these out, including Wray's solo appearance on the Blakroc album:

Blakroc (Official Site)

Posted via email from One Stupid Mop