Archive by Author

The Three O’Clock

3 Apr

Before I began this post, I plugged the Three O’Clock into our search bar to see how many times I’ve referred to this band. I was surprised and more than slightly disappointed in myself that there have only been two previous mentions (and only one by me!). You see, the Three O’Clock is one of my all-time favorite bands. They were one of the first bands I discovered on my own, once I had graduated from my parents’ Beach Boys, Bee Gees and Carpenters records (those records primed me for the Three O’Clock’s 60s-throwback sound). I can recall the night I first heard their album Sixteen Tambourines like it was last night: lounging in the back of a van, packed with friends, cruising down PCH, the crisp guitars, clean bass lines, and Michael Quercio’s magical voice ringing in my ears.

I immediately acquired that album and the band’s previous releases: their early garage-pop album as the Salvation Army and the first EP with their new name. These songs were my teenage years. These songs helped me navigate my formative relationships with girls as they, the relationships, ignited, crashed, and burned. No matter my mood, The Three O’Clock fit to a T. Any time a new girl caught my eye, “With a Cantaloupe Girlfriend” its driving drums and hopefully-baroque keyboards nudged me forward. Then when said girl reciprocated not ever, or for a year, two, then never again, “She Turns To Flowers” and its backwards guitar twisting through the refrain of “then she is no more,” saved me from wallowing too deep in teenage despair.

Then a funny thing happened. I never outgrew the band. Even after the band imploded I tracked subsequent projects with equal enthusiasm: Louis and Mary’s Danish, Michael and Permanent Green Light, and later, Jupiter Affect. By this point I was working full-time in radio and was quite the evangelist for all four aforementioned bands. I even brought out Permanent Green Light out to play a grand opening party for a music store I was managing. When my first son was two, I included The Three O’Clock’s cover of “Sorry” by The Easybeats in the first mix CD I made for him. We’ve been geeking out on the Three O’Clock together ever since. Now he’s sixteen. Now he just snags albums off my harddrive.

Fast forward a decade and the Three O’Clock and its members have lain largely dormant until late last year when blips of the band began surfacing on the radar of social media. I suspected these flickers of resurrection portended a much bigger event. And while the initial announcement that the band would be reuniting for Coachella was impressive, I’m much more thrilled that they’re playing a string of smaller shows, so my kid and I can be reunited with our paisley pals in a more intimate setting. I want to be crammed into a club with people who share my affinity for the band rather than fighting an indifferent crowd of 80k in the middle of the desert.

Michael, Louis, Danny, welcome back! See you Saturday!

The Three O’Clock on Facebook

on Twitter

Veronica Falls

28 Jan

It’s embarrassing to tell you how much I love this band. It’s embarrassing to admit that I listen to this band over and over and over and over again. I admit that I completely give up my critical faculties when I listen to Veronica Falls. Pure bliss! The melodies! The harmonies! The boy/girl vocals! My son, who just got his driver license and with whom I now share a car, had to eject their album out of my CD player’s cold…dead…slot. Speaking of death and coldness, this band has a reputation for being into death and dark and cold, but au contraire! All I can do when I listen to Veronica Falls is dance around, strum my air guitar, and sing my lungs out. Sure, the opening track to their first album is called “Found Love in a Graveyard” and the follow-up track’s refrain is “Take your hands off me,” but graveyards can be cheery places if you’re dancing on someone’s grave to the right soundtrack and you can always ask your dance partner to remove their mitts politely, respectively.

And besides, on their new album they ditched the dour song titles and replaced them with names like “Shooting Star” and “My Heart Beats” so you can tell your parents your new favorite band sings songs about hope and life (just don’t tell them about “Buried Alive”). I love Veronica Falls so much I don’t even miss Velocity Girl and if you know me, that’s saying something. And guess what else? This is the quickest post I’ve ever written because I can’t even think straight when I hear Veronica Falls and this all comes gushing out and I can’t wait for their tour and even though they’re currently in Europe (they’re from the UK) VERONICA FALLS IS COMING!!! [pace Will Farrell as Elf when he hears the news that Santa's coming to town] and I’m gonna stop typing and go buy my tick—

Veronica Falls – Teenage [MP3 via Boing Boing/Soundcloud]

veronicafalls.com
slumberlandrecords.com

Gliss

18 Jan

You won’t find much about Gliss on their site, their label’s or their publicist’s. Their official channels prefer to keep an enigmatic air about the band offering not much more than “Gliss is a Danish/American three-piece.” Notice the distinct lack of a genre, which I don’t fault them or any band for not offering up a genre. It’s not band’s job to pigeonhole themselves. That’s the uninteresting but necessary job of critics, bloggers, and radio programmers to help a lazy public digest music without actually listening to it. Readers of this blog listen to the music first, genres and categories be damned, right? Can I get an amen! Thank you.

I still have to do my job, so here goes. Gliss is, simply put, a pop band. And all I mean by pop in this case is that they keep their vocals up high and clear in the mix. Musically, it’s a different story. If you dig back into their discography you can hear anything from punchy garage tracks, sounding a lot like Japan’s glam rock phase, to Autolux’s laconic, brooding work to The Jesus and Mary Chain’s wall-of-guitars. Judging from these tracks off their forthcoming album Langsom Dans, Gliss seems to have shed the heavier guitar work and replaced it with softer beats and a rich array of electronics and echoing voices. I appreciate bands willing to test new waters, to push themselves and their sounds beyond their origins. It keeps an air of discovery about them for the band itself and for jaded music geeks.

Gliss – Hunting
Gliss – Blur

gliss.tv
modernoutsider.com

Isaac Delusion

9 Jan

Ever so quietly, this Paris trio is beginning to bubble up into the consciousness of American music hounds. But I doubt the noise they’re making will stay quiet long. In a word, Isaac Delusion is delicious. The band conjures a lovely warmth with their gentle rhythms and bright string work. Their synths mimic birdsongs and evoke sunrise on a summer’s day, an image I imagined even before I saw the video which features a bit of playful surfing and young boys breakdancing on the beach. The breathy vocals recall those of Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals and add a certain sultriness to the mix. The EP hits North America around the end of the month via a label yet to be named.

Isaac Delusion – Early Morning [MP3]

Cracki Records

Cub Scouts

29 Dec

Today’s downloads come from a new EP from an Australian quintet that may find themselves in legal hot water with a certain US-based scouting organization when said organization finishes boiling in its own stew of legal, ethical and PR problems. Cub Scouts formed just over a year ago and have been cobbling together songs on their bandcamp page. “Evie” got lots of spins on Triple J and they’ve been playing around locally, but it may be a while before they hit stateside. That’s OK. They have time to craft another batch of songs while their fellow Aussies in San Cisco test the waters here next year. We’ll see how well Americans take to cute, indie-popsters from down under. I say the more the merrier, especially considering the depth of Cub Scouts’ gems. Did I tell you how great the title track is? I’d hate to tell you I told you so, but I told you so.

Cub Scouts – Told You So
Cub Scouts – Evie

cubscouts.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/CubScoutsMusic

Dinah Thorpe

20 Dec


I’m gonna open up this next review with a simple comparison, a comparison that’s going to date me something fierce, but it’s just so spot on. And I can’t get it out of my head, so here goes: Laurie Anderson meets The Lilac Time. Old and obscure, unfortunately. Like Anderson, Thorpe’s rich, multi-layered vocals playfully haunt your brain as they weave back and forth between your ears (headphones strongly encouraged) and the banjo and tempo remind me of the upbeat moments of Stephen Duffy’s work with The Lilac Time. Of course my 16-year old thinks this track sounds like Mumford & Sons, but he’s never heard Peggy Honeywell. Thorpe is literate, politically astute, and crafts siren songs around her dreams and visions with everything from a synth to a ukulele. The results will brighten your day as does her album’s sparse, bold cover.

Wazu

9 Dec

Don’t judge this album from its cover. Wazu’s music is stronger and more confident than their over-wrought Art Deco and ’80s brushstroked cover. And yes, the opening track to Wazu’s debut album plays like a lost recording from the Black Celebration sessions. They owe a lot to a handful of chaps from Basildon, England for the sound and name, but Wazu are no retro-plagiarists. They depend more on guitars and add a distressed sound to the synths. Their back-and-forth boy/girl vocals soften the darker tones and harsher industrial flourishes. Or you could say Wazu fleshes out the sensibilities of the xx, amps up the tempo and fills in the gaps with big, dance-floor beats. The band released their debut full-length Robobo earlier this year on Halloween, but this thing’s got legs to last well into 2013. It’s a great album for any retro-fetishists, or for anyone in the mood for a sultry, dark and smoky, dance album. So let me cut all the reviewer and critic nonsense, crank this album back up and encourage you to do the same. Revised 12/19/12.

Wazu – Symbol System [MP3]

King Loses Crown

4 Dec

Darker than Devo, faster than Depeche Mode, denser than Killing Joke, but sharing the apocalyptic atmosphere of those artists, San Francisco trio King Loses Crown releases their new single today, “My Revenge.” We reviewed an earlier demo version of this song a few years back, but the band has since added a member, beefed up production and further honed their sound. And as luck would have it, their sonic assault met its visual match in visual effects director Jim Mitchell (Harry Potter, Sleepy Hollow, and Jurassic Park III). Mitchell directed the video, also released today, a documentary style, sci-fi look into the future where our technology catches up with us and our darkest impulses.

It’s not everyday that a full-fledged Hollywood filmmaker produces the video for an emerging band, so I checked in with Mitchell to see why he decided to get involved with King Loses Crown. He told me that a friend invited him to see the band at the Elbo Room and he was “blown away by the intensity and energy of their songs.” Mitchell had been developing a robot character and when he heard “My Revenge” he realized the song’s theme was “similar to what [he] was imagining for the world of the character.” He edited a few of his robot animations to the song and “couldn’t believe how it just seemed to naturally sync up like they were meant to be together.” The band agreed. So do I. You probably will too.

My Revenge from You Can’t Escape EP, February 2013

Hot Sushi Club

1 Dec

I know sushi rolls aren’t really sushi. I get it. I respect it. On my block there’s a sushi place that flat out doesn’t serve rolls. They won’t have anything to do with desecrating the simple beauty of fish on rice. I also respect our western notion of wrapping up fish in a slathering of mayonnaise, deep frying it until it’s delicately golden, chopping it up and dousing it with Sriracha, or any combo of the three. My favorite sushi roll in the world is the Bungee Roll from a place called Sushi 21 on the Newport Beach peninsula. It begins with a slab of cream cheese, a stalk of asparagus, and a row of avocado rolled up in nori and rice. Spicy salmon is piled on top, then the roll is baked and topped with sweet eel sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. It’s at once hot, sweet, savory, and soft with a gentle snap of the asparagus. I wanna jump up on to the sushi bar and dance a jig of delight every time I take a bite, or every time I even think about taking a bite.

It should be more than obvious at this point what I started dreaming about as soon as I saw the words Hot Sushi Club hit my inbox. The added bonus is that this brand new band out of Karlsruhe, Germany is as tasty as the Bungee Roll itself. They’re a little bit Hot Chip, sweet like Phoenix, and completely danceable. They give off that same air of giddiness I enjoy when my belly’s full of Bungee. And they’re as generous as the kind sushi chef that hooks you up with a good salmon cheek or sweet shrimp. Their debut EP is available in full, free of charge. Enjoy!

Lost in a Good Way

Hot Sushi Club – EP (full download)

soundcloud.com/hot-sushi-club

hotsushiclub.tumblr.com

Ghost Lights

23 Nov

Ghost Lights make perfect music to fall asleep to. And I mean that in the best possible way and not because I’m in bed snuggled up to my laptop. The subdued yet lush instrumentation hits you like a muscle relaxant and you’re off to dreamland. The effect isn’t accidental. The artist behind Ghost Lights, Noah Cebuliak, disappeared into Canada’s wilderness and discovered emotions that can’t be transmitted by mere words or waking logic. Who is the Canadian equivalent of Thoreau? I nominate Cebuliak (Canada’s answer to Neil Halstead at least). He went into the woods, with a guitar, to see if he could learn what it had to teach. These songs are his lessons learned and the only way you’re gonna benefit from them is by checking out of the rat race, unplugging, and letting yourself drift toward the lights, the Ghost Lights…

Ghost Lights – Fog Chief

Ghost Lights – A Train is Coming

ghostlights.ca