Archive for December, 2006

**REPOST** "Maybe Cocaine" will solve life’s ills – Nick Jaina’s The Seven Stations (Bang Back Records, Oct 21)

Sunday, December 31st, 2006


I wonder what other reviewers in the real world (i.e. not lowly blogs) do when they get a record like Nick Jaina’s The Seven Stations (Bang Back Records, Oct. 21). Does it go in the unknown and unloved pile only be listened to after all the bands with a pr budget and those that have all the cogs in the music industry spinning have been given first dibs? Or is it given an equal and honest chance to succeed on it’s own merits. I suspect it doesn’t but I hope that somehow it can sneak out of that god-forsaken pile and crawl across the desk onto the pile of pre-approved recordings from major (indie) labels.

For me it was placed immediately into the good pile since it came with a handwritten note saying that Nick is a good friend of Laura Gibson (here) and that the cream of the crop of Portland’s musical scene guested on the record on instruments like violin, clarinet, vibraphone, trumpet, cello, banjo and upright bass. “The Red Queen” is a merry little jazz-waltz (?) that wouldn’t seem out of place on an early Tom Waits’ record. The vibraphones and violin add to the sense of mystery and the steamy late-night film noir atmosphere the song creates. Also listen as the character in “Maybe Cocaine” struggles between the life he’d like and the life he’s stuck with and see why cocaine may be the answer to reconcile the two. You can and should buy it here or here now.

The Red Queen

Bonus song

Maybe Cocaine

Double bonus added Dec. 31

Barleycorn & Toblerone

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**REPOST** the theater fire (no…not Arcade Fire…Theater Fire)

Saturday, December 30th, 2006


I generally don’t pile on the blog bandwagon but I can’t not post about the band Theater Fire. Credit to Sixeyes for the discovery, although they’ve been the talk of Texas for a while now. This Texas band impossibly mixes mariachi, folk, country and jazz with experimental weirdness.

Everybody Has A Darker Side
is their second record and is available now on Undeniable. On “Hey Jimmy” alone there is a cute little backing chorus, tinkling bells, the aformentioned mariachi horns, and even a little vibraphone. “Fiddleback Weaver” is the got-to track on the disc but from all I’ve heard the whole thing is incredibly great. Buy it here now, well before it’s August release date.

Fiddleback Weaver

Bonus
Kicking Up The Darkness
These Tears Could Rust A Train

Updated Dec. 30: Imho yesterday’s Swedesplease post was one in a million (too bad everyones on vacation). Imagine finding a perfect Creation era fuzzy shoegaze pop gem from Sweden as well as an indiepop band from Indonesia which records for a label out of Lima, Peru. On top of that I threw in a new song from My Darling You. Get `em all here.

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**REPOST** I Heart The 80′s (pt. 5) – Dublin’s "Hey Paulette" (plus a little more Felt)

Friday, December 29th, 2006


I sort of wrote about Felt yesterday. I came across a band that was making Felt-like sounds (also reminiscent of Jazz Butcher) around the same time in Dublin. Hey Paulette were “jingly jangly” (their words) and got clumped in with a lot of c86 bands, partly because they appeared early on with John Peel. Members have gone on to form Crumb and other bands but this may have been the height of their music making.

After 20 years this legendary but lost band is releasing it’s debut record on the German label Firestation Records. It’s a compilation of 17 tracks and a video. Available here.

Commonplace
My Half Of The Pillow
Inconsequential

Hey Paulette’s “My Half Of The Pillow” Video video on You Tube

I really do love Felt’s “Penelope” on You Tube

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**REPOST** My $.02 On Elvis Perkins (plus a sneak peak at Kyle Andrew’s Badman Records debut)

Thursday, December 28th, 2006


(Editor’s note: Originally posted in May this post along with several others by Mp3 bloggers hopefully elevated Elvis Perkins’ national notoriety. Since then he has been signed by XL Recordings.)

I wasn’t going to write in great length about Elvis Perkins but his music keeps pulling me back in (I know, lame Godfather reference). I also refuse to go into his biographical details because his music stands on it’s own but if you’re interested click here, here, or here.

He’s playing the three day Sasquatch Festival next weekend and has a number of other notable gigs coming up. I was also going to refrain from posting the song “Ash Wednesday” since this song already has garnered a lot of attention but it is beautiful and I can’t resist. While “Ash Wednesday” is a an excellent example of his solo singer-songwriterly style (think Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckely) “May Day” is more of a full band romp with plenty of electric guitar textures, overdubbed vocals and crazy electronics. Ash Wednesday will also be the title of the eagerly-awaited debut disc by Elvis Perkins In Dearland (the full band name). Impossibly, this artist is still unsigned as far as I know.

Ash Wednesday
May Day

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Badman Recording Company (includes Jemez Mountain Records) emailed this little teaser track from Kyle Andrews upcoming rerelease of his debut Amos In Ohio. It’s indie elctronic-acoustic pop that goes ever so nicely with Elvis Perkins.

Amos

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**REPOST**New songs from Luke Temple (but I also added new songs from his upcoming record "Snowbeast")

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006


(Editor’s note: I’ve probably written about Luke Temple as often as any other artist on Songs:Illinois so he is definately do a repost. Below are two of the posts I put up about Luke Temple. I’ve added a new song that Mill Pond Records has just put up on their site. It’s called “Saturday People” and will be on the new record which has just be named – Snowbeast.)

What if ol’ Sufjan got a pair and altered his patented formulaic sound of success. It’d be weird but cool. Luke Temple has gone and done just that on his new songs from his upcoming record. The mp3 below is “Owl Song” and it’s about a 180 degrees in the opposite direction of much of his work from his debut record, Hold A Match For A Gasoline World, out last year on Mill Pond Records (and soon to released in Europe on Fargo). What’s the verdict you say? Stunning!

It’s only a little thing (under 3 minutes) but its’ syncopated rhythm’s, odd beeps and whirrs and disturbing lyrics make this a remarkable track. But it’s the “hoo hoo hoo hoo” that you’ll hear midway through that’ll get you singing along. So while this strays from a formula that I and others declared perfect, it’s a welcome change and one that will probably extend his music in many new directions. Expect Snowbeast sometime in January of 2007 on Mill Pond. Buy Luke Temple’s debut here.

Owl Song

———-Post #2———-

I swear that that music supervisor lady (Alexandra Patsavas) from the OC and Grey’s Anatomy is reading this blog on a regular basis. It seems impossible that she would choose both The Second Band (wrote about them here on Swedesplease) and Luke Temple (here, here) to have songs in Grey’s Anatomy without being a regular reader of this blog. Anyway Luke Temple’s song “Make Right With You” will be on this Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Mill Pond Records has two new songs posted that will be on the next Luke Temple record that’s presently tba 2007. Buy Luke’s music here.

Saturday People (**New**Added Dec. 27)
Serious

Plus Luke’s MySpace page has another new song, a soft gospel inspired track called “People Do” that’s more in line with his earlier songs .

People Do

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**REPOST** New robot song from The Mathletes on Asaurus (plus Marmaduke explained!)

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006


This doesn’t sound like anything you’ll usually hear from me and Songs:Illinois. But I truly love the Asaurus label and wish to support them in all that they do and also my 5 year old loves Robot songs. So add “Pinocchiobot” by The Mathletes (more on My Space) to your iTunes robot playlist. The full length, Fort Awesome, will be available any day up at the Asaurus store.

Pinocchiobot

The video (or oh boy my son is going to love this):

Bonus tracks

Your Wings Are Made Of Gold (And I Remain Unimpressed)
Joe Mathlete Reflects upon Raisins and Mortality (Mostly Raisins)

P.S. If that hasn’t hooked you on the band here’s the leader’s blog where he explains the comic strip Marmaduke. Each and every one!

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**REPOST** Daniel Johnston’s got nothing on these guys…Quarter Pounder (new songs updated Dec. 3)

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006


(Editor’s note: This was originally posted in April of 2006. As of December 3rd a new collection of songs called You seek it like a dream but when you find it it you become it’s prey have been uploaded to their website. It’s more of the same lofi “wrist-slashers about the ex-wife” that was in the first batch. Here’s two but there are many more at the site linked to below.

The Cross
There Is More Than One Woman

This British group (Quarter-Pounder) has battled homelessness, insanity, amputations, divorces, crippling obeisity, prison and countless odd, horrible day jobs. I can’t do their bio justice so I’ll just cut and paste:

Charles (b.1973) and Robert (b.1975) Peacefull originally hail from the Isle of Man. They moved to London in 1990 and formed The Gifts, a post-punk band in the vein of The Birthday Party. The Gifts did the usual circuit of London venues for two years building up a cult following, but acrimoniously split whilst recording what would have been their debut album, and Robert and Charles went their separate ways.
Robert married and settled in Tottenham, working as a packer in a meat factory, until he was made redundant in 1995. Charles, meanwhile, moved north and took a number of jobs in the Manchester/Stockport area, including spells at a burger bar and a building site, until finally finding employment on the Ninian Central oil rig in the North Sea, a job he held down for four years. He at this time initiated contact with his brother, who had by now divorced his wife and begun a series of short-lived homosexual relations. The tentative correspondence soon ended, when Charles served thirteen months in HMP Barlinnie for aggravated assault.
On release in 2001, a period of homelessness ensued, ending when his parents managed to contact him and prevail upon him to attend Robert’s second wedding, which he did. It was the first time the brothers had met in eight years. Robert had just begun taking medication for the depression and obesity which unfortunately had come to dominate his life. After a long period on the dole, he had found employment as a Label Inspector for a tinned food company. The job was lonely and boring in the extreme, and did little to rid Robert of his daemons leading to his suicide attempt of last year, in the midst of the break-up of his second marriage, when his fragile mental state collapsed completely. It was ironically when Charles was visiting him in St Ann’s Mental Health Unit that the idea of them making music together again was first suggested. Since his brother’s wedding, Charles had returned to his errant ways disappearing off the radar for some time. There were reports that he was drifting in South America but for a couple of years his whereabouts were unknown.
In the summer of 2005, only a few weeks after Robert was allowed home, the brothers began recording songs in the front room of a friend’s house. The process was hampered by the fact that, at some point in his travels, Charles had had the ring and pinkie fingers of his right hand amputated, apparently as a result of an infection from a tattoo.
As of current writing, Robert is back at his parent’s house on the Isle of Man, recuperating, and Charles is thought to be living somewhere in London. It is currently uncertain when they may record again.

All that life has thrown them is mirrored in their impossibly somber songs. The band is currently not aware that they have a web site or that their songs are even online. There’s nothing to buy: no tchokes, no tshirts or limited edition colored vinyl. The band continues to disdain the fact that their songs are available and are starting to have a life of their own.

Butchered Sweetness
I’m Going Down With You

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**REPOST** Fiddler/singer Laura Cortese’s "Even The Lost Creek"

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

(Editor’s note: Posted originally in March 2006. Laura’s music has stuck with me all year and is a perfect compliment for the lazy-day-after-christmas blues.)

I have a couple secret places to find new music. Sort of up and comer lists and upcoming release lists, “blogger tricks” so to speak. I could tell you more but then I’d have to kill you. This post is inspired by one of those online destinations. (on an unrelated note I’m sure this is not the photo she envisioned people using for press).

Laura Cortese’s a fiddler and singer whose new record, Even The lost Creek, came out in February (on an unrelated note I’m sure this is not the photo she envisioned people using for press). This falls on the little too polished spectrum of my musical taste. But nonetheless Laura Cortese is an artist that you may want to listen to if you’re a fan of Sarah Harmer, Allison Krauss or even Holly Cole. As an avid, former ornithologist I’m a fan of the song “Bluejays”. But I can also get behind the standup bass and low key funk of the title track.

Bluejays
Even The Lost Creek

**REPOST** Amazing demo’s from Soft Hearted Scientists (My Kung Fu Records, unreleased)(plus new video)

Monday, December 25th, 2006


(Editor’s note: This post was originally put up in February 2006. Since then a you tube video has surfaced and the band has almost wrapped the recording for their new record. These demos are now mixed and mastered and will be out sometime soon on My Kung Fu Records. Oh and since my post the band has hardly caught on in the blog world, typical!)

I did a quick search of Elbo.ws and Hype Machine and found no other bloggers posting about Soft Hearted Scientists. Weird, huh?! I was sure I’d come up with a bunch and there’d be no need for me to jump into the fray and add to all the praise that must have been already heaped on this Welsh band. They have a new record out, Uncanny Tales From The Everyday Undergrowth, I think it came out in Sept of `05 but that’s not where the action is.

Instead check out their three new demo’s. The band is on some kind of mystical kick and that comes through pretty clearly in their song “Pushing Up Daisies” which rivals “Dear God” by XTC as one of my favorite songs from the UK ever, period (yes I just wrote that!). Think a saner Julian Cope or a less psychcadelic and a little less jangly XTC. Or Perhaps a not so coy Robyn Hitchcock. The new record is on My Kung Fu. I’m told you can buy the new record here, and see the band live with the Broken Family Band on March 24th at The Bowling Green in Manchester.

Pushing Up Daisies
I’ll Be Happy I’ll Be Sleeping

One more demo in the Downloads section of their website.

Just added (Dec. 25) a video for “Light Years To Nothing”

** REPOST** Mike Nicolai rails against the dead pope in his song "Lifesucker Waltz" off of his new record God Fatigue in the Modern Age

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

(Editors note: Originally posted Jan, 2006. Do a seach of the site to find more from Mike Nicolai.)

Mike Nicolai in one song sums up my entire belief system and disgust with the Catholic church and just about any religious institution. Wow! His new self-released record is called God Fatigue in the Modern Age. And while I’ve only heard this one song I’ll trust the folks over at Miles Of Music who claim “It’s A Cracker!” (which is their way of guaranteeing a release).

Reading through his bio is like seeing a list of who’s who from my life in music consumption (The Gourds, The Damnations, Ramsey Midwood and Low). Now I see why it’s no surprise that his new record is getting some much needed attention. Released in November of 2005 on the SMA imprint I’m guessing with a little more love this’ll start to get some serious traction. Buy it here from Miles of Music (it’s a 100% guaranateed).

Lifesucker Waltz

Bonus tracks from slef titled release and Rooster Nudes

Thunderstorms
I’m Onto You

***REPOST***Danny Schmidt – Parables and Primes

Sunday, December 24th, 2006


(Editors note: Originally posted May 24, 2006. Considor the next couple of reposts an unofficial tally of some of my favorites from 2006.)
Guilt by association is what this post should be called. Danny Schmidt has been playing with Rachel Ries and Anais Mitchell on the west coast and they both claim he’s a brilliant genius. Who am I too disagree? And better yet I have a platform, no matter how small, to shout it to the world.

Danny’s most recent record, Parables and Primes, was self-released in July 2005. Lyrically the record is deep, you’ll probably need to sit down with the little booklet to figure it all out. Musically Danny has enlisted some of Austins finest including Lloyd Maines, Guy Forsyth, and Bruce Hughes (from Bob Schneider’s band). Together it sounds like this project just plain gelled. “This Too Shall Pass” is a song about some health problems Danny encountered while the glib “Beggars and Mules” is about his fellow musician friends. Buy it here.

This Too Shall Pass
Beggars and Mules

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Sleeping States’ "Rivers" (plus video for "Rivers" and back catalog songs)(British Music Series Pt. 7)

Friday, December 22nd, 2006


(Oops, last post before the holidays. I promise!)
If this week’s review of English folk and roots music seemed inadequate it’s probably because of the sheer number of interesting groups. There are dozens of bands that either deserve a first mention or another plug from me including Polly Paulusma, Karine Polwart, Jason Mcniff, Sam Beer etc, etc. But if there is one artist that is bubbling beneath the surface that just had to be mentioned, I think that would be Sleeping States (MS).

Sleeping States is in the beginning stages of what can only be described as blogger buzz. And unlike other bands that have been put through that ringer, Sleeping States’ music isn’t obvious or impossibly accessible. In fact at times on the new single “Rivers” and the older song “A Trip To NYC” the listener is held at arms length. On both songs the chorus is indistinguishable from the verses, nonetheless these songs (and particularly “Rivers”) are connecting with people. The new record featuring “Rivers” and “I Wonder” is called There The Open Spaces and will be released in early 2007.

Rivers

A Trip To NYC

Bonus
Don’t Make Me Over (Highly Rec’d)
December
Swallows and Swifts

River’s Video

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New music from The Redlands Palomino Company, Morning Bride and Richard Walters (British Music Week Pt. 6)

Friday, December 22nd, 2006


A bit of providence smiled down on me yesterday when I received an email proclaiming The Redlands Palomino Company’s forthcoming record was on it’s way (Laughing Outlaw Records, Feb. 12). What good timing for this email to arrive right at the end of my British music week series. TRPC also inhabit a genre that none of the other bands I’ve written about this week touch on and that is staight up alt-country, well produced and with all the elements you might expect (pedal steal, twelve string guitar, and twangy delivery).

TRPC is a married couple. The lead vocalist and the most striking member of the band (visually and musically) is Hannah Elton-Wall. Her husband Alex Elton-Wall also provides lead vocals on some tracks and duet harmony on others. I’m taken by the rocker “She Is Yours” with it’s pedal steel, organ and jangly guitars as well as for the fact that it features guest vocalist Gina Villalobos. Look for this one or order it directly from the band in early 2007.

She Is Yours

Editor’s Note: I’m afraid my British music week is going to have to come to a grinding halt right about now. I still had some artists I wanted to write about but I’ll have to just add them here as an addendum.

And thanks to all who commented, corrected, bashed or just shared the love for what I considor to be the best new music on the planet this past year. Thanks to you Songs:Illinois has grown and will continue to grow in 2007 (and remain ad free). I’ll be off for the next couple of days but will put reposts up of some of the best music featured this year when I can. Thanks again! And Merry Christmas.

Here’s the remainder of the artists that deserved a bigger mention this week:


Morning Bride is another UK based roots band, in 2006 they released a two song 7″ and were picked up by Letterbox Records. They trip the light psychadelic more so than any of the other bands featured this week. Expect more from this band in 2007.

This Place
Blue-Eyed Boy

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Richard Walters is from Oxford. If you were from Oxford chances are you’d be a fan of Richard’s. He’s been in a bunch of bands and presently is in two, including Monoband with ex-Cranberries man Noel Hogan. Pilot Lights will be out on Big Scary Monsters Records. This song is from the upcoming 2007 ep Pilot Lights.

Iceskaters

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the traditional English folk of Kris Drever (BBC 2 nominated folk act)(British Music Week Pt. 5)

Thursday, December 21st, 2006


BBC Radio 2 has announced it’s folk awards. Some of the names have been covered on here before but some are new to me. In particular I was struck by the tradional sounds of Kris Drever. His debut record came out on Reveal-Records and was produced by John McCusker and featured friends Eddi Reader, Kate Rusby, and Roddy Woomble.

“Farewell To Fuineray” is a great song and amazingly is the hidden track on his debut cd Black Water. The English folk crowd are loving this record and apparently he’s a joy to behold live. (RIYL early Richard Thompson)

Farewell To Fuineray

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Pacific Ocean Fire – "From The Station To The Church We Are Under The Same Stars" (British Music Week Pt.4)

Thursday, December 21st, 2006


I was not sure if I could put another British Music Week together so quickly after the last one. But with the help of Pacific Ocean Fire’s debut full length cd From The Station To The Church We Are Under The Same Stars it was pretty easy. Basically take whatever I wrote in yesterday’s post on The Tailors or the day before’s about Treecreeper and add the fact that the band is comfortable opening for Mojave 3 and you’ll get a good sense for their sound.

The band is from Leicester and like many a great band is composed of brothers, this time the Bennett brothers. Someone else described their them as “the sound of George Jones, Peggy Lee, and Dennis Wilson crashing their car into Bright Eyes front room”. I’d change Bright Eyes to Radar Bros but why quibble with such a good quote. You can buy it here for 10 quid.

When The Preacher

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New song and (unofficial homemade) video by Candie Payne (related to The Stills, The Zutons)(British Music Week Pt. 3)

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006


Candie Payne is like a member of indie rock royalty. Her one brother is the drummer for the Zutons and her other brother is singer/songwriter Howie Payne (also lead vocalist of the Stills). At first she wasn’t even going to enter the family business but luckily someone must have convinced her to give it a try.

She’s released two 7″ singles and has been signed to Deltasonic but also may have been scooped up by Sony/BMG Music Uk who have a page on her as well. Candie Payne, while not a retro act, certainly embraces the sound of the 50′s and 60′s. It’s amazing how well her sound harkens back to that era of music by the likes of Sandie Shaw, Serge Gainsberge, Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday. But even more amazing is how her checkbones, style of dress, hair and everything about her refers back to that time. Here’s her second sold out single of 2006:

All I Need To Hear

Unofficial (but extremely cool) video for “I Wish”

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Exclusive song from Tusks (feat. members of Arcade Fire, the Acorn, and The Constantines)

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006


SO a radio-ripped demo of a new Arcade Fire song leaked the other day. Bfd! I may be contrarian but I never fell in love with Arcade Fire. I thought the production on their debut was spotty at best. I understand that the live show is exciting, bordering on dangerous but again the songs didn’t do it for me. And I certainly don’t want to hear a demo of a song that was riped off of BBC and converted to mp3 against the bands wishes.

How does that relate to the band Tusks (led by ex-Kepler Samir Khan)? They’re also from Toronto and the song below features members of Arcade Fire, The Constantines, Ohbijou and The Acorn. “Mothers Vs. Sons” was recorded/produced by James Bunton of Ohbijou. This may also be a demo but the production is fleshed out and Samir’s vocals and that of the background chorus are wonderful. Expect to hear more from Tusks in 2007.

Mothers Vs. Sons

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Treecreeper’s "Grain" (British Music Week Pt. 2)

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006


So Treecreeper (here) is that other British band that I have in the running for best Americana release of 2006. Treecreeper is brothers Will and Greg Burns, they come from an industrial city outside of London so in part it’s no wonder they’ve developed a sound that mirrors some of the alt-country that developed in the economically challenged midwestern US States (Uncle Tupelo, Neil Young, even The Bodeans and the Jayhawks).

Grain was recorded during The Boy Least Likely To’s downtime using their Faraway Sounds Studio. Buy their debut, Grain, from Rough Trade here. Hopefully there’s some US label that’ll sign up The Tailors and Treecreeper and release these records in the states (New West, Compadre, Universal South, Back Porch, Hightone I’m talkin’ at you!).

Losing Ground
Waylaid

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The Tailors’ new record "Wakey Wakey" (Trash Aesthetics, March 5)(Riyl Ryan Adams, Wilco, Whiskytown, Mermaid Ave etc)(British Music Week Pt. 1)

Monday, December 18th, 2006


With a few interuptions and exceptions this week will be British Music Week here at Songs:Illinois. It’s the second such week I’ve done and I am continually amazed by the quality of British roots music (that you’ll really never hear about in the US).

There are two UK band’s that make such a glorious americana racket that it would seem they have perfected Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac era alt-country. They have just enough of a ragged and rough sound, mixed with wonderful melodies. They are both just about tied for my favorite band out of Britain.

Today we’ll cover The Tailors the first of those two bands and their upcoming record Wakey Wakey. Wakey Wakey comes out March 5 on Trash Aesthetics and you’ll be able to buy it soon from their website. “Tales Of The Deep” is a deceptive title as it’s really about looking deep within yourself and finding out you’ve got shallaw, selfish heart. It’s so good it could be an out-take from Wilco’s AM. “Belle Vue” has a slightly more rave-up feel. If you live in England and want to hear more from The Tailors they run a club night in Brixton every month called Sadder Days.

The album cover for Wakey Wakey has been banned by MySpace but here it is in all it’s beauty.

Tales Of The Deep

Bonus
Belle Vue

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March Fourth Marching Band, Hungry Marching Band and Hazmat Modine

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

(Editor’s note: I’m just cleaning out my drafts folder and this post on punkish marching bands seems to have been overlooked. The two new bands are worth a listen and Hazmat Modine is always worth a second go round.)

Now that the 4th of July has come and gone wouldn’t you have loved to been at a parade and seen one of these bands perform instead of the staid, musically conservative bands they tend to invite (I know they’re only high school kids but I bet they’d like to let loose like this as well). These are three distinct bands that shouldn’t be clumped together but nonetheless are.


Crackhaus Fin
March Fourth Marching Band

VjerinCocekHungry Marching Band

BahamutHazmat Modine

Bonus video of Hazmat Modine on Russian TV

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