Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Alex Cameron - Jumping The Shark

What is Jumping The Shark?  Concise but loose-limbed character sketches -- perhaps of people you wouldn't bring home to your mother (unless your mother is one of those types) -- narrated in a intimate baritone over a sparse electronic canvas by a man who formerly assumed the costume and character of an aged lounge singer when performing (he no longer effects the transformation, but the album art is of the artist in costume).  Welcome to the world of Sydney's Alex Cameron, formerly of the electronic project Seekae.  The tales dig deep in the grime of the downtrodden and failed people on the fringes with a clear-eyed perspective, but the phrasing is poetic and the delivery is breezy and engaging without being dismissive of the subjects.  And it must be said that part of the connection here is the listener's uncertainty of the extent to which the songs are stories by Alex Cameron, or stories about Alex Cameron.  Not that it really matters; an exploration of failure is something to which all honest men and women can relate.

Jumping The Shark may not sound like anything else you are listening to, but take my advice: Once you listen to it, you keep going back to it.  This record is a dead solid keeper.

Bandcamp for Jumping the Shark
Secretly Canadian page for Jumping The Shark

Alex Cameron Tour Dates:
Fri. Sep. 9 - Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West %
Sat. Sep. 10 - Nashville, TN @ Exit/In %
Sun. Sep. 11 - Cincinnati, OH @ Woodward Theater %
Mon. Sep. 12 - Millvale, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre %
Wed. Sep. 14 - Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer %
Thu. Sep. 15 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club %
Sat. Sep. 17 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall %
Sun. Sep. 18 - Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw %
Tue. Sep. 20 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair %

% with Angel Olsen
* with Unknown Mortal Orchestra

# with Mac DeMarco

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dora Maar - Flights EP

The music of this four-song limited edition cassette from Edinburgh's Dora Maar is fantastic -- rampant bass lines with jangling guitar accents and louche baritone talk-sing vocals.  The style recalls the best of Postcard Records, The Monochrome Set and Vic Godard.  We give it our highest recommendation, and you should want to own it.  You probably cannot, however.  You see, like most Soft Power Records releases, Flights EP sold out in pre-sale.  In fact, it sold out so early in pre-sale that I didn't even have time to tell our readers about it.  Sadly, the reason for the incredible demand, in addition to the quality of the songs, is that it is the last release from Soft Power Records, which is closing its internet doors.  Of course, we all know that the music business is a tough place to survive, for musicians and labels, so the demise of a small label isn't shocking.  But this one hurts because the lovely folks at Soft Power Records (and yes, dealing with them always was a pleasure) had great taste and a near supernatural ability to find emerging artists possessed of talent that demanded a wider audience.

However, endings and beginnings go together, and at least you can mark down Dora Maar as a band to watch for the future.  Named for an early 20th century photographer, poet, left wing activist and founding member of the Surrealists, Dora Maar consists of Andrew R. Hill, Andrew Scott, Daniel Markey, Erika Sella, and Grant Munro.  If you are lucky enough to live near a show, the band may still have some copies.  And perhaps some or all the songs will get new life on another recording.

And we strongly urge you to visit the Soft Power Records' Bandcamp link at the bottom of the post and help them out by reducing any remaining stock.  Quite simply, their catalog is wonderful.

Bandcamp for Flights EP
Soft Power Records' Bandcamp Page

Monday, August 29, 2016

Big Wave Riders - Endless Summer

Finland's Big Wave Riders ride a big wave of dense, melodic sound.  Rumbling bass, sinuous guitar lines, chunky riffs and cavernous percussion create a sound that is made for big arenas or the outdoor stage under starry skies.  After a couple of quiet years on the recording front, the band is back with Endless Summer, a stellar step forward from their good 2012 debut album and preceding EP.  The melodies and hooks soar high, enabled by a seriously tough rhythm section that, to my ears, echoes the fat baggy beats of Ye Old Manchester.  With the guitars augmented by a layer of synths, the ten songs range from dreampop to surf rock to dance rock to shoegaze without an unworthy track.  Moreover, I struggled to choose favorite tracks because it all sounds so very good.

I was thrilled when I learned that Big Wave Riders were delivering a new album, and I expected it to be good.  What I didn't expect is that the boys would vastly exceed my expectations.  Endless Summer is the perfect way to extend the season well into the Autumn chill.

Big Wave Riders are Teppo (guitars/vocals), Aleksi (bass/backing vocals), Anssi (guitar/backing vocals), and Pete (drums).  Endless Summer is out now via Helsinki's Soliti Music.  Check the Bandcamp link below or your preferred digital provider.

Bandcamp for Endless Summer
Soliti Music's page for Big Wave Riders

Friday, August 26, 2016

Various Artists - Fuckin Ziggurat

I suppose people listen to music for many reasons, but fun and discovery of new sounds are high on my list.  And if those are good reasons for your listening habit, you can't go wrong with Fuckin' Ziggurat, a 17-song compilation of bands from the US, UK, France, Ireland, Australia and, I expect, other places as well.  We get pop, punk, country, electronic-experimental and several other styles of music, all from excellent artists.  Several bands, including No Monster Club (Ireland), Wanda Junes (Arizona), and Ginnels (also Ireland), have been on these pages before.  Others, such as The Orchestre Murphy and The Plain People of England are new to us.  But we welcome the old and the new, and the sheer diversity and quality of the music.

The digital version of the album is a steal at $5.  But for a mere $11 you can get a CD and a very cool booklet with information about the artists and a few comic strips.

Bandcamp for Fuckin Ziggurat
Emotional Response link for CD and booklet

Babaganouj - Hard To Be EP

Get your fresh, delicious Babaganouj right here.  No, we aren't talking about eggplant-based treats here (that is three blogs over to the right, next to the Hummus and Falafel).  We are talking about one of our favorite three-piece indie bands, Brisbane's Babganouj.  Chuck, Ruby and Harriette play great rock and roll.  They can dash off an acoustic number that will pluck your heartstrings with the best of them, but their sweet spot is up-tempo songs with rubbery bass and plenty of guitar noise.  They are on a fantastic run of EPs this year, and the latest -- Hard To Be -- is available now on their Bandcamp page.  Two quieter songs bookend three blasts of fun and energy, and they all are fantastic.  Check it out below.

Bandcamp for Hard To Be EP

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Various Artists - Continental Drift

Slumberland Records in Oakland and Fortuna POP! in the UK are two of the best indie labels in the world when it comes to guitar pop, and they have teamed up on releases a number of times.  But even by their historically high standards of performance, Continental Drift is a special one.  I'm supposed to be the wordsmith about music here, but I can't improve on the opening line from Mike at Slumberland: "Four great bands, two great labels and two continents meet on this stellar mini-LP".  There are eight songs here, with two from each band.  The US is represented by Philadelphia's Mercury Girls and Baltimore's Wildhoney, while the UK puts forward Edinburgh's The Spook School and London's Tigercats.  Is it a battle of the bands?  An intercontinental showdown?  Perhaps, but to me it just is a sampler of some of the best pop songwriting on today's indie landscape.  Fuzz, hooks, clever lyrics, dreamy shoegaze, pop-punk, pop and politics, and the palpable sheer joy of participating in music are in ample supply in these eight songs.  If you like guitar pop, this may be your best investment of the year.  Sample the goods below and then treat yourself.  You know that you deserve this one.

As an aside, sadly Fortuna POP! is closing its doors soon.  They will be sorely missed here at When You Motor Away.

Slumberland Records' pre-order page for Continental Drift
Fortuna POP!
Mercury Girls on Facebook
The Spook School on Facebook
Wildhoney on Facebook
Tigercats on Facebook

"I Don't Care" by Las Kellies

We love Argentina's Las Kellies.  We can assure you that their upcoming album Friends & Lovers is an impressive display of assured songwriting, shimmering guitars, sharp lyrics, beefy rhythms and confident energy.  There is a touch of New Wave under the fuzz, and a streak of Riot Grrrl.  I already have slated it among my top thirty albums of the year, and it hasn't even been released yet.  But enough taunting from me -- here is a taste of the goods.  By the way, the album will be released in October by Fire Records.

The Argentinian band consists of Silvina Kelly and Cecilia Kelly, and they will be joined by Manuela Ducatenzeiler for their upcoming tours.  And speaking of tours, European fans should review the dates and venues listed at the bottom of this post.

Las Kellies on Tumblr
Fire Records' Bandcamp for pre-order of Friends & Lovers
European Tour Dates
06 Nov: Moth Club, London, UK
07 Nov: The Hope, Brighton, UK
09 Nov: The Bassment, Chelmsford, UK (date change)
10 Nov: Night & Day, Manchester, UK
11 Nov: Arden Arms, Halifax, UK
14 Nov: Harley, Sheffield, UK
13 Nov: The Ferret, Preston, UK
15 Nov: Oporto, Leeds, UK
19 Nov: V11, Rotterdam, Netherlands
20 Nov: Oedipus Brewery, Amsterdam, Netherlands
24 Nov: ACU, Utrecht, Netherlands
26 Nov: 1000fryd, Aalborg, Denmark
01 Dec: Espace B, Paris, France
06 Dec: Rhiz, Vienna, Austria
13 Dec: Ubu, Perpignan, France
(More to be announced…)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Lawrence of Arabia - Absolute Truth

New Zealand's James Milne, recording as Lawrence of Arabia, is a pop classicist of notable skill.  He builds his tracks of solid melodies, earworm hooks, grand bridges and inviting choruses.  His arsenal calls on his impressive vocal range, call and response vocals, strings and horns.  And it all comes together perfectly from start to finish on Absolute Truth, his fourth album overall and first for Flying Nun.  The album reflects a mature contentment adorned with wry observations and a sunny perspective.  The listener will be reminded of Harry Nilsson, Paul McCarthey, and even some Brill Building favorites, but that is a matter of style.  The songs on Absolute Truth feel current and relevant, and may well become a treasured part of your summer soundtrack.

Another Century from Lawrence Arabia on Vimeo.

Absolute Truth is out now on CD, vinyl and digital formats


Friday, August 19, 2016

Cool Ghouls - Animal Races

If I were to pick the modern band that most completely embodies the spirit of West Coast garage rock, it would be San Francisco's Cool Ghouls.  Their music is heavily veined with sunny melodies, British Invasion harmonies, shaggy arrangements, psychedelic shimmer, and a palpable love of keeping the guitars at the forefront of the proceedings.  Well, all that and and a vibe that suggests an awesome house party with several cold kegs in the back yard.  On Animal Races, the band's new album and third overall, they display it all with the best songwriting and tightest performances of their recording history.  They rock hard on "Brown Bag", evoke 'Nuggets' garage rock on "Never You Mind", let in the jangling psychedelic sunshine on "Sundial", dig into a spacey jam on "Time Capsule"and dish out dusty country rock on "Days" and "(If I Can't Be) The Man".  And the steel guitar embellished "When You Were Gone" is becoming one of my favorite ballads of the year.  With the addition of a 12-string Rick, steel pedal  and some synths, the band has filled out their sound, but none of the new additions distract from their solid rhythm sections or garage guitar roots.

The bottom line for us here is that Animal Races is the best work yet by a band we have followed since their first demos popped up on the web.  I'm going camping this weekend and this album is one of the few that I'm taking with me.  I'm hoping the mountain goats in the central Cascades appreciate it.

Animal Races is available via Cellar Door in North America and Melodic Records in the UK/Europe. Burger Record has the cassette.  Cool Ghouls are Alex Fleshman (drums/percussion/piano), Pat McDonald (vocals/guitar/drums/mellotron), Ryan Wong (vocals/guitar/bass/mellotron), and Pat Thomas (vocals/bass/guitar/farfisa).  For this album, they received contributions from Tom Heyman on pedal steel, and producer Kelley Stoltz on midi guitar and percussion.  The album was mixed and mastered by Mikey Young.

By the way, Cool Ghouls are traveling the western states right now, so check and see if you are in the vicinity of a show.

Bandcamp for Animal Races