Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Ghosts

Being listed as a shoegaze(r)-related blog by various sources invariably results in an inbox bulging with artists who have been influenced by music within a three year radius loosely surrounding 1989. This time around, we most definitely have a treat to share for those regular visitors who appreciate our continued penchant for this particular footwear-fixation genre. Chicago, Illinois-based outfit New Ghosts have an EP from 2008, a single on Cloudberry Records and now a debut full-length album, titled Scarecrows Against Reason, that was released earlier this summer through Chicago's Fake Label Records. After listening, what impresses us most is that New Ghosts have the presence of mind not to allow a wall of sound to dictate or cover up basic song structures. Instead, the vocals and percussion are front and center for an unobstructed balance in sound we can easily recommend. For additional information, pay a visit to the New Ghosts website as well as what we consider an under-appreciated New Ghosts MySpace page for more lovely music. Two tracks from the new album Scarecrows Against Reason for you...

MP3: Broken Pieces
MP3: Gravity Causes Confusion

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chariots of Tuna

Today's featured artists have embraced a band name that might not roll off the tongue without thoughts of movie satire or maybe even a distant constellation waiting to be named. However, the music found us with a new favourite we must recommend for listening. Chariots Of Tuna was originally the solo music project of Ben Morss during the late 1990s in Sacramento, California. Fast forward to 2008 and Ben (keyboards, guitar, vocals) had relocated to New York City, performing with a collective known as The Infinite Orchestra along with musicians Dan Davine (drums, guitar), Shawn Setaro (lead guitar) and Rus Wimbish (bass). Together, these seasoned musicians have given new life to the music of Mr. Morss with a new EP titled Fondness Makes The Heart Grow Distant. Think of a sound that exists somewhere between a polished Beach Boys single and an old dusty album from classic label Homestead Records and you will most likely understand why we are so taken with this music. The lead track for a lovely listen?

MP3: War Hero

It's no small wonder that Slumberland Records is front and center on the Chariots Of Tuna MySpace page.We can't imagine it being too distant of a relationship... for long, anyway.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bliss City East: 5 Questions For Perry Pelonero + New Track

Editor's Note: Perry Pelonero is a Chicago, Illinois-based musician who formed the band Skylight (1990) at a time when an emerging scene, known now as shoegaze, was just starting to gain momentum worldwide. His most recent music project is Bliss City East and Perry was kind enough to answer five questions for the inquiring minds/ears here at MML. Please be sure to have a listen to the brand new track we've made available for preview below and also pay a visit to the related links listed below (way below) for more music and information. Here we go!

[Casey] For the most part, I'd like to ask you a few questions about your latest music project Bliss City East, but have always been interested and wanted to take a moment to find out how it all got started. Could you maybe give a little history for those who might not be so familiar with your music?

[Perry] Ha! Need to try and make this short. Honestly this project started out as a way for me to be able to play live shows. I am in another band, Skylight, that has been around on and off for many years now. Skylight's guitar players live in Boston, so all of us trying to get together to do shows seemed almost impossible. I felt like I needed a lot more then that. So I sat at home with my guitar and started making this music. I was amazed as to how quickly it all came to me. I think at the time I was going through some serious life change. (The Sun is Cold) came out of that. The music to me was bliss. And after sharing it with Skylight's singer Kim we thought, yeah let's do something with this. We tossed names back and forth so many times. Until we settled on Bliss for the music. City because I love the city. And East because of my infatuation with Asian culture and the fact that I am from the east coast (NYC).

[C] From what I understand, Bliss City East started out as a solo project for you last year, but has since turned into a full band. Who are the new musicians in the lineup and where did you find them?

[P] Well. This is a long story. Brent from Skylight, who lives in Boston, has been helping me with this on and off. And of course Skylight's singer Kim Welsh has been in the mix from the start. I knew for a fact that I would not sing many songs. I am really enjoying the guitar playing these days. Skylight was looking for a keyboard player and Gail, our now bass player, had contacted me about it. I had a long talk with her about the music and she agreed to come in and do some singing and play keys. It was magic from the start, honestly. To have that combination of two female vocalists was something I really wanted. At that point, I thought it was time to get this together and start to think about live shows. We needed a bass player so she asked somebody who is in Gail's band A.V.P. here in Chicago. (Check A.V.P. out at the bliss MySpace page. ) So she brought in Reuben who now plays guitar! Somewhere down the line, Gail ended up switching from keyboard to bass and vox. Reuben went over to guitar and Kim took on the keys. We have been told it was the best move we could have made! Everybody does the job they are supposed to do. I write the songs. They come play them. It's amazing. Last but not least I recently added Dan Diaz into the mix. Dan is a veteran, no doubt. He has been in many bands and knows what he is doing. He adds so much to Just completes the sound. He recently began writing new songs with me so watch out! I feel like things are going to get much better. Now if we can find a drummer to complete this, we will all be happy.

[C] I've read articles about your music describing it as shoegaze-related and have used the general term experimental in my own reviews of BCE. How do you describe your music? Is there any specific formula you follow when developing a song?

[P] Never a formula. I write whatever the hell comes out of my head honestly. Or whatever I happen to be drinking at the time. We do experiment a lot though, so you are correct. We use a lot of disco beats or dance beats. We are huge fans of 70s disco and funk as well, but we always keep the wall of guitar sound. The loud, washed-out guitar will never go away for us. It is how I write all of the songs. We even experiment with keyboard sounds which is something I have never really done. It is seriously funny you asked me this. Because recently I was trying to describe what we are doing. What kind of music is it. It's true that I came from the shoegaze scene in the early 90s. I still love the music and all the new bands coming out of it. A lot of Skylight's music might fit the shoegaze bill a bit better? For me though, its really hard to say. I think I leave it up to the people who like the music and let them decide just what it is that BCE is doing. I have been told that the BCE sound is different and that we are headed in a new direction. It makes me happy to hear this, honestly. I am, of course, very happy to be told we have a shoegaze style or sound. I will always embrace that. Always.

[C] This is a question I've been looking forward to asking you. I've heard it mentioned that there are some connections between yourself and frontman Adam Franklin of legendary 90s band Swervedriver. If this is true, when and how did you meet him? Do you stay in contact with Adam at all these days?

[P] Adam Franklin. Just a really amazing guy. I met Adam during one of Swervedriver's first tours here in the States. I think it was in 1991. It was in Boston at TT the Bear's. This is when Skylight was just starting out actually. They were leaving for Japan not long after that. I was at the bar and somehow met Adam. We were drinking Red Stripe and looking at the translation book the record company gave him. How to say Japanese words. We had a laugh, had a talk and he went to do the show. That was honestly the most amazing show i ever saw them do. I hung off the monitors on the side of the stage while they blew my ears out. I swear that is when I went partially deaf. We kept in touch after that on and off. Mostly via shows and through other people. I spent some time with Swervedriver during the Mezcal Head era as well, in England and the states. The last time I saw Adam until recently was in the late 90s in NYC. After that we did not talk for years until about a year ago, I believe it was. Recently Adam was touring with The Church and his bass player broke his foot. I offered to fill in for him in Chicago. I only had two days to learn the songs after Adam sent me the set list! It was nuts! The night before the show we had a huge thunder storm here and we lost power. I woke up the morning of the show to start learning the songs when I got an email from Adam saying they were all covered. What a relief! The Church's keyboard player was taking it all on! I was never more relieved in my life, honestly. I had been shitting myself at the thought of actually learning all of the songs in time. The night of the show, I thanked the Church's keyboard player for doing it. I was really thankful. I had not seen Adam in years. We had a smoke and a chat and said goodbye. It was really nice to see an old friend.

[C] It seems that many bands have recently been following the trend of keeping their music strictly online using social networking sites and blog exposure instead of performing live or releasing physical copies of their music. Your thoughts on this? Are there any plans for BCE to tour in the near future and can we expect any newly-released music or BCE related projects for the remainder of 2009?

[P] Well things like MySpace have really opened up a new world for musicians, no doubt. The exposure is fantastic for all of us. We can instantly share our music with the people who want to hear it, instead of making cassettes like we used to do and passing them out to everybody. It also really gives a chance for the fans to directly interact with bands. We recently sent a note off to this Foals band who in turn answered it. Its really nice to see that SOME bands actually take a moment to answer questions or messages. The blogs are a hit and miss. I love the music blogs. I appreciate everything they do for bands because its exposure that we would have never gotten years ago. What I always liked most about MML is the fact that you cover the spectrum and always asked if you can include a free download.

Then we have other blogs that are offering artists whole albums for download. Those are the ones that are really pissing me off. This a discussion that Adam and I had recently when we discovered his new album being offered up for free at a blog site. The justification from these guys has always been the same. 9 out of 10 people who download this stuff buy it? I think it's bullshit, honestly. I know some people do. But I have a very hard time believing that 9 out of 10 purchase after they hear it. Of course it's piracy. And I could go on for hours about it. But I won't. :)

As far as live shows and physical copies of music. We have already started playing live shows in Chicago. We are actually playing in St. Louis this weekend with Stella Mora and fellow Chicagoans Panda Riot. From there we will be going on 3 day and 1-2 week stints all over the States. Details are being worked on now for this. This will be followed by a week in the UK and possibly another one week in South Korea. They love BCE and Skylight over there! It's really cool. BCE have a limited edition EP coming out this week. It is a CDR that comes with a sticker and some other cool stuff. This will be followed up by a full release from our record label Cloudragon. They have been really great with us and very patient! They recently released a compilation. It has Skylight on it so check it out!

Related Links

Exclusive MP3: Psychic (BCE 2009)

Previous MML Reviews:

Skylight - March 2008
Skylight - September 2008
Bliss City East - December 2008
Bliss City East - May 2009
Adam Franklin/Swervedriver - May 2007

Band Information:

Bliss City East MySpace
Skylight MySpace
Cloudragon Records

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Silence The Foe

As a clear departure from our recent fare of experimental pop and understated indie rock, today's featured artist will serve to bludgeon our regular visitors over the head with an impressive blend of punk, hardcore and all-around raucousness. Silence The Foe is a five piece from Oslo, Norway consisting of musicians Anders Voldrønning (vocals), Marcus Forsgren (guitar, backing vocals), Roland Livar Kjenstad (guitar), Arnbjørn Joar Styrkor Marklund (bass, backing vocals) and Peter Rudolfsen (drums) who formed in 2000 and eventually released a debut full-length album titled Shaking Hallelujah in 2006. After rattling the old windows of our office with this three year old offering for a week, we couldn't help but share at least a few listens. Try this one.

MP3: Privacy Please

The driving sound edges forward without a single clichéd moment in structure or break for unnecessary reflection, with hints of influence heard from The Jesus Lizard or even early Fugazi if we happened to be reaching for distant comparisons. Of course, this is aside from the fact that STF could have easily ended up in the lineup of classic label Amphetamine Reptile Records had they only existed around 20 years ago. Before our gushing reaches ridiculous new heights, another song from the 2006 album Shaking Hallelujah and some information on the current status of the band is well in order.

MP3: I Killed The Last Punk

From what we've gathered, Silence The Foe dissolved shortly after their debut LP but, the original members are still connected and currently kicking around the idea of recording new music. For the latest updates and more listening you can visit the compulsory Silence The Foe MySpace page. Also, for a complete listen and free download of Shaking Hallelujah, as well as earlier music, we suggest the Silence The Foe Bandcamp profile. One last bit of lovely recklessness for you.

MP3: Heaven Have Me

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Phase 4

Burton Upon Trent, UK is home to the duo of musician/illustrator Paul McCaffrey and multi-instrumentalist Martin Carnaby who formed their music project The Phase 4 in 2004. Earlier this year, the band was featured on Compilation 18 from Columbus, Nebraska-based label Series Two Records. Unfortunately, we did not take our cue/email at the time and neglected to post the showcased track from that particular release. Months later, we received a physical copy of a promo CD and finally had a proper listen to what was explained to us as a work in progress that will eventually become The Phase 4 debut album. After giving this promo disc quite a few spins, it became almost impossible to figure out what needed to be tweaked or changed in any way. Instead of bothering with vague comparisons involving mid-60s garage, late-80s twee or early 90s pop from Japan, we will simply give you a listen to the following pair of previews we were especially taken with. Expect a more detailed review once the debut album is released. For now, it might be a good time to start swaying those shoulders and snapping that finger. Nice.

MP3: Lost And Found
MP3: Out Of The Blue

Sunday, July 12, 2009

MML: Sunday Feline Frenzy!

However silly it might sound, after a few cocktails on the banks of the Ohio River and some discussion regarding how lovely our own little mini-tigers happen to be, we decided to re-feature random songs about our favourite brand of domesticated flea-bag. Cats, Cats and more Cats. Have fun listening and be sure to follow the links to support these artists. Also, if you have spare change jingling around somewhere in your pockets, contact a local cat shelter and give it to them. Money well spent... Meow!!

Soda Fountain Rag - I Wanna Be Your Cat

Erik Voeks - Finger Painted Cat

Takako Minekawa - Fantastic Cat

The Sheds - Mtn Cat

The Lovekevins - Private Life Of A Cat

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Polynya: Crop Rotation

Updates on previously featured artists seem to have become a staple of our existence these days and this time around we have quite the treat to share. Back in January 2008, we originally reviewed Chapel Hill, North Carolina based four piece Polynya and their lovely self-titled debut album. Since that time, musicians Andrea Parthemore (guitar, vocals), Luke Berchowitz (guitar vocals, programming), Pat Johnson (keyboard, drums) and Thom Canova (bass, programming) have written and recorded another brand new full-length release titled Crop Rotation through their very own label Childhood Pet Records. The finished product is an impressive collection of songs that, once again, has our attention captured completely. A first listen from the brand new release is well in order.

MP3: Fan Fiction

With the 11 tracks that make up Crop Rotation, Polynya manages to thread classic psychedelia and a sprinkling of experimental electronic accompaniment into their unique brand of spirited yet measured indie rock. The result is an overwhelmingly solid release in which the instrumentation could seemingly spiral off into a dream state at any given moment if not for the gleaming vocal combination/exchange of Andrea and Luke to guide each song back into vivid focus. From the trippy beginnings of Ribbon Dragons to the searing guitar outbursts throughout Calico and final goodbyes of The Way Out At Last, Polynya delivers a favorite new album for 2009 in Crop Rotation. Another song for you.

MP3: Maul

Additional links:
Polynya MySpace
Polynya Facebook
Polynya ReverbNation

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Golau Glau

Golau Glau are UK-based musicians who have made it quite clear that they would like to remain mostly anonymous for the time being. As much as we would usually consider this some sort of PR carrot'n'stick mechanism, the music is outstanding enough to pique our interest and have us scrambling to share the love after a number of listens. A quote from the band, followed by the lovely new track they sent our way:

"We are shy and nervous and we don’t want people to write about who we are as people or what we wear or how far we deviate from the music that has influenced us, just the music and the artwork. We hope you don’t mind that we haven’t written about how we met or what famous bands we like or how old we are or anything."

MP3: Summer Games

Yes... it really is that good. However tempting it might be to sink our teeth into a number of comparisons in the direction of Tom Tom Club or Future Bible Heroes, another expanded blather-fest can be set aside as we bring you the limited information available to us. Three days ago, the band released their debut single Soft Silver Young / Heartland Half Seizure through London, UK-based net-label Odd Box Records (Odd Box MySpace) and it is completely free for download. There is also a Golau Glau blog where you might find additional tidbits of information as well as a handful of other international music sites who were fortunate enough to receive a heads-up on this newly-formed project. A preview from the new single for you. Simply put... we are smitten.

MP3: Soft Silver Young

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Starring Me: Parallels

Often times, it seems the artists who send updates on newly released music have perfect timing where sound and climate/season are concerned. Such would be the case for Jacksonville, Florida-based outfit Starring Me who we originally featured with a toasty little indie-rock gem to keep us nice and warm in October 2007. Since that time, members Tara Golden (vocals), Reed Clendenen (bass/vocals) and John Hashtak (guitar/vocals) happen to have located their long-lost drummer Jim Singleton to complete the full lineup once again. After a few brutal re-programming sessions for this reunited percussionist, the band now has a brand new, seven song CD titled Parallels to share that definitely has our summer-ears perked with the sparkling delivery we experienced. The track we've decided to showcase is probably the sweetest near-pop song of the new collection but, impressive as it might be, don't be fooled. There are a number of listening moments with decorative-yet-dark edges and enough meat on the guitar to keep any respectable shoegaze loyalist more than interested. For additional music, both past and present, pay a visit to the Starring Me MySpace page and also be sure to check out the band's side-project Purplespace who we recently made mention of just this past February. Have a first listen to an MML favourite from Parallels...

MP3: Skip The Beginning

**Bonus** From the release "Perfect In The Night" (2005)

MP3: Waves