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Friday, May 1, 2015

Grooveshark Lost Its Groove

Unfortunately, the free service of Grooveshark has gone under, reportedly due to illegal copyright infringement and pending lawsuits. So it goes without saying that I've lost the ability to share the stand out tracks in the format I've used over the past few years since IMEEM went under. Many of the songs are on Youtube, so I'm planning...slowly...to revise the stand out track links & add any songs as videos for what is not up there. This is all a hobby, and I don't make a cent from doing this (nor do I want to), so it is a labour of love I do in spare time. Thanks for reading! Shepard.

(the) Rockets - Turn Up The Radio~ No Ballads^, Back Talk*

Name: The Rockets
Album(s): Turn Up The Radio~, No Ballads^, Back Talk*
Year(s): 1979~, 1980^, 1981*
Style: Pub Rock, Bluesy Rock, Powerpop, Southern Rock
Similar Bands: J Geils Band, Cactus, Foreigner, Meatloaf, Bob Seger, Bad Company, ZZ Top*
"One-Word" Review: Steady pub snacks.
Based Out Of: Detroit, MI
Label: RSO~^, Elektra*
 Turn Up The Radio~ - Cover & Record
 Turn Up The Radio~ - Back & Record
 No Ballads^ - Cover & Record
 No Ballads^ - Back & Record
 Backtalk* - Cover, Sleeve, Record
 Backtalk* - Back, Sleeve, Record
 Backtalk* - Promo Folder, Headshot
 Backtalk* - Promo Bio
  Backtalk* - Promo Bio
  Backtalk* - Promo Bio
  Backtalk* - Promo Bio
 Backtalk* - Promo Bio
Turn Up The Radio (1979)~
  1. Can't Sleep 3:04
  2. Turn Up The Radio 3:05
  3. Oh Well 3:19
  4. Lost Forever, Left for Dreaming 6:48 /
  5. Long Long Gone 2:59
  6. Love Me Once Again 3:55
  7. Something Ain't Right 4:56
  8. Lucille 2:57
  9. Feel Alright 4:39
No Ballads (1980)^
  1. Desire 3:30
  2. Don't Hold On 4:15
  3. Restless 2:55
  4. Sally Can't Dance 3:55
  5. Takin' It Back 5:00/
  6. Time After Time 4:20
  7. Sad Song 3:22
  8. I Want You to Love Me 3:50
  9. Is It True 4:28
  10. Troublemaker 5:30
Backtalk (1981)*
  1. Back Talk 3:52
  2. Jealous 4:09
  3. Lift You Up 3:43
  4. Shanghaied 3:59
  5. Love for Hire 4:00/
  6. I Can't Get Satisfied 3:44
  7. Tired of Wearing Black 4:15
  8. I'll Be Your Lover 3:20
  9. American Dreams 3:53
  10. Lie To Me 5:04
Album Rating (1-10): ~7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jimmy McCarty - Guitar, Backing Vox (Mitch Ryder & Detroit Wheels, The Hell Drivers, Cactus, Buddy Miles Express, Catfish Hodge, Raymond Louis Kennedy, Albert King, Bob Seger)~^*
Johnny "Bee" Badanjek - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vox (Mitch Ryder & Detroit Wheels, The Hell Drivers, Detroit, Alice Cooper, Dr John, Edgar Winters Group, Nils Lofgren)~^*
Dennis Robbins - Slide/Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vox~^*(Billy Hill)
David Hood - Bass ((Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Traffic, Boz Scaggs, Aretha Franklin, WIlson Pickett) ~
John Fraga - Bass~(Happy Dragon Band, Larry Santos, Albert King)
David Gilbert - Vox ~^*(Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes, Shadow, The New Order)
Donnie Backus - Keys, Backing Vox~^* (Nugent)
Kurt Klazel - Engineer~
Steve Tillisch - Asst Engineer~
David Pinkston - Asst Engineer~
Norman Seeff - Photography & Design~
Max Black - Photography & Design~
Jim Evans - Logo Design~
Chuck Leavell - Organ Clavinet~ (Allman Brothers Band, Sea Level, George Harrison)
Johnny Sandlin - Producer~^
George Marino - Mastrering~
Jim Hamblin - Road Manager
Dan Keylon - Bass^
Lee Michaels - Organ^ (The Family Tree, Steve Miller Band, Tim Curry, Jimi Hendrix)
Glenn Ross - Art Direction~^
Anita Pointer - Backing Vox^ (Pointer Sisters)
Ruth Pointer - Backing Voz^ (Pointer Sisters)
Tim Owens - Design^
Tom Flye - Engineer^
Rich Sanchez - Asst Engineer^
Gary Lazar - Manager, coordinator~^*Cover Concept*
Stan Ricker - Mastering^
Moshe Brakha - Photography^
Devon Stacey - Drum Crew^
Mike Lilley - Sound Tech^
Bobby Neil Haralson - Bass*
Jack Douglas - Producer, Percussion* (John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, The Knack, Graham Parker)
Jimmy Z - Harmonica* (Faster Pussycat, Rod Stewart, Weird Al Yankovic, Shakespear Sister, Corey Hart, Flesh-N-Bone, Dr Dre, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Etta James)
Eric Ernst - Road Manager, Lighting Director^*
Elmer Haggadone - Equipment Manager~^*
Dave Golder - Sound Tech*
Steve "New Wave" Lane - Bus Driver, Equipment*
Lee De Carlo - Engineer*
Bill Freesh - Asst. Engineer*
Greg Calbi - Mastering*
Ron Coro - Art Direction*
Dave Willamston - Illustration, Design*
Charlie White - Illustration*
Paul Mussa - Design*
Robert Mattheu - Photography*

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of this band, and I picked up three albums at two different times. They look like a typical blue collar, pub rock band focused on AOR style guitar rock. I don't expect it to be much different.

Album Review: This band was born from the collaboration of the guitar and drums from Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. But they adopted a more southern bluesy rock inspired style for this band. They appeared on The Midnight Special TV show. They never made it really huge outside of the Detroit area, but they worked with some artists that went on to work with some big names. Singer David Gilbert died of liver cancer in 2001.

“Can't Sleep” starts with a bouncy, funky bass beat and strutting guitar and drums. It definitely has a Foreigner – J Geils Band feel to it: gritty with strained vocals and a touch of blues.
“Turn up the Radio” was a single. It revves up with a power pop start and shrill vocals. It is a pretty catchy song, full of energy from start to finish. Even the piano carries the tempo with a jovial nature. The guitar solo could be found on an album by anyone from Social Distortion to Cheap Trick.
“Oh Well” was a Fleetwood Mac cover and a top 40 hit for them. It shuffles in with a stealthy swagger. And without the piano, could possibly be considered to be comparable to a Black Sabbath guitar riff with Led Zeppelin styled vocals. The song jams out freely as the instrumental section comes early, and the song ends abruptly.
“Lost Forever, Left for Dreaming” is more ballady, with a meandering guitar intro. Calmed vocals introduce the melody, which has a little Boston-More Than a Feeling similarity. It does not build into the climactic energy; however, it stays the lighter inducing, mellow course. The face melting slow jam seems to last a very long time, and it comes back for a harmonized Allman Band style chorus. With the fade out, it feels like an album ender, not the end of side one.

“Long Long Gone” starts out with a smooth power pop tempo, and lyrics that stumble over the melody. The chorus builds and is catchy, but the song over all does not have much power behind it, and is hard to classify other than a steady, sturdy track.
“Love Me Once Again” builds up with power chords and a Chuck Berry guitar. The bluesy, country barroom tone dances through like a Meatloaf showtune. Maybe a little Rolling Stones-like too. The vocals really carry the emotion of the song.
“Something Ain't Right” is very slow and a little unsure from the get go. It is a ballad, with a little bit of reflective tempo for the chorus. It could easily be produced differently, slowed down even more and simplified for a female R&B (Etta James) song thanks to its tone and melody.
“Lucille” is a bouncy bar room stomp with an oldies structure. Very simple straightforward rock and roll with a honkytonk base and passionate vocals.
“Feel Alright” is a building song, as it is constantly building the entire time. Even the chorus builds its momentum, which is the best part of the song, singing “Everybody / Come over”. It’s not fast or slow, but steady, with a pounding, pulsing bass beat.

“Desire” Was a single from this album. It starts with an echoing, chugging heavy guitar. It has some Rolling Stones slickness to it, with a little more concentrated energy in the guitar solos. But it never really goes anywhere. The chorus that it tries to reach is just an instrumental section. The nervous piano pulsing can instigate restless leg syndrome.
“Don't Hold On” is a southern bluesy song with swamp swagger and funk.
“Restless” is less funky, but still steams off a bluesy rock n roll fog, with a contemplative breakdown before it transitions into the instrumental. The structure is power chords played in sets of two.
“Sally Can't Dance” features two of the Pointer Sisters on backing vocals. Like the rest of the album, it neither really rocks nor croons. It is somewhere in the middle. It’s a jammy version of power pop, incorporating the bluesy slink of the bass.
 “Takin' It Back” rushes forward from the start with a sprinting tempo and fast electric Chuck Berry guitars and after it climbs to the top, it rides the rollercoaster down. There is a weird strained “Mmmmm” vocalization in the song that is a little creepy, but otherwise, this is a catchy as hell song. It does go on for a little too long, jamming out at the end to be a nice, compact pop song.

“Time After Time” pulses along nicely in the chorus, with a focus and build to the chorus. The chorus delivers, but does not completely deliver the energy anticipated. This feels like a J Geils Band song.
“Sad Song” pretty much says it all in the title, even if the melody is upbeat in a Bee Gees harmonized way in the chorus. This feels like an early 80’s sitcom theme.
“I Want You to Love Me” is dark version of Jail House Rock. It flattens out and loses the darkness, but the basic melody remains.
“Is It True” takes it back to a dripping, bluesy swamp rock song. The vocals are reigned in more here, they don’t seem to have the emotional diversity of the rest of their catalogue. But by the end of the song, he does let loose more.
“Troublemaker” is a relaxed slow-funk-jam. Even the couple of power chords in the chorus don’t ramp it up enough to get out of the chair to change the TV channel. As it fades out, the shaking feedback of the electric guitar is eerie and interesting at the same time.

“Back Talk” almost has a Duran Duran like quality to it, and it feels smoother and more produced than the other two albums. The drums are tighter and the bass line sounds synthesized. I like the shift in guitar style about 2 minutes in, it gets peppier and catchier. But it is only for a brief section. Overall, the song kind of sounds neutered, and I believe it is because of the production.
“Jealous” has a bit of a mystical feel to it, a wandering windswept landscape that becomes a hair band rock song.
“Lift You Up” begins with a somewhat bouncy bass line, like an uncomfortable mash of funk and country. The song seems to have a spiritual connotation. The instrumental is mainly a jammy wah-wah guitar.
“Shanghaied” is a free-flowing rock song, reminding me a little of Aerosmith mixed with J Geils. It has a honkytonk swagger and some new wave keyboard sounds. The vocals have a lot of passion, and are supported by a strong female set of vocals. The chorus is very catchy and really sells the song as a whole as the hook to look forward to.
“Love for Hire” sounds like their song from the first album “Lost Forever, Left for Dreaming” in the verse. The chorus is a repeating, half-hearted uttering of the song title that just feels incomplete. Some of the emotion in the vocals reminds me of Roger Daltrey.

“I Can’t Get Satisfied” goes back to the piano based barroom bluesy jam. There is a playful tone that runs throughout the song, from talking about joining a band to the bouncy bass line and complementary piano.
“Tired of Wearing Black” reminds me of a Sammy Hagar song, It is kind of meandering and unfocused, creating more of a renegade pent-up atmosphere than a followable melody. And then some ZZ Top guitars are added in for good and relatable measure.
“I'll Be Your Lover” is a bouncy number, that almost shares a passing resemblance to Devo at the beginning. But the harmonica and the way the vocals are just slapped over the pulsating music takes away the new wave fun quality. The backing harmonized vocals also pull it away from the nervous, anxious tempo the bass and guitar create.
“American Dreams” is a power ballad dedicated to ‘murican pride. The verse is just a solid harmony, supported by echoing power guitar licks.
“Lie To Me” takes the whole mood down a notch further with a real side-to-side swaying slow ballad, with a little Journey-like singing (just not quite as melodic). 


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Rewinds - s/t

Name: The Rewinds
Album: s/t
Year: 2006
Style: Indie, Power Pop, Jangle Pop
Similar Bands: Redwalls, REM, Strokes, Fountains of Wayne, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Connells, 
"One-Word" Review: Mediocre Pushover Pop
Based Out Of: Birmingham, AL
Label: Livewire Recordings, 
 The Rewinds - Cover & Back Booklet Image
 The Rewinds - Lyrics
 The Rewinds - Center Photo & CD
 The Rewinds - Lyrics, Tray
The Rewinds - Liner Notes, Back
The Rewinds (2006)
  1. New Shade of Red 3:35
  2. Everytime 3:15
  3. Something Else 2:45
  4. Ghostriders 3:26
  5. Killing Me 3:11
  6. Fascination 3:39
  7. Sentimental Flaw 3:05
  8. Voice in My Head 3:37
  9. Melody 2:20
  10. Turns Out That Way 2:15
  11. It's Not the End 3:06
  12. Alone in the Dark 3:23
  13. See You In the Underground 3:59
  14. Calling Your Name 10:24
Album Rating (1-10):5.0

Members & Other Bands:
Michael Shackelford - Vox Guitar (Taylor Hollingsworth, Maria Taylor, Through the Sparks, Dead Fingers)
Glenn Drennen - Lead Guitar (All Tomorrow's Parties, Fireflight)
Chris Markham - Bass (All Tomorrow's Parties)
Brooks Marks - Drums (All Tomorrow's Parties, Grenadines)
Colin Cobb - Producer, Mixing, Recording, A&R, Marketing
Emily Lazar - Mastering
Mark Pollock - A&R, Art Direction
Becca Fishman - Promotions
Kelly Kennedy - Bookings
Marlise Paxman - Product Manager, Album Notes
Pamela Paxman - Photography
Lisa Monti - Marketing Assistant
Paki Newell - Publicity

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, yet, the name is simple enough, that perhaps I have and forgot them. Based on the font, I'm guessing they sound like the Redwalls: a throwback to late 60's guitar sounds in garage bands, updated to the mid 00's. Their pictures look sweaty, so maybe they have the same energy as a Mooney Suzuki, but I'm guessing this will be less in-your-face.

Album Review: This band started out as a 3 piece All Tomorrow’s Parties, but after acquiring Schakelford, who became lead singer, they changes to this incarnation, but only had this one album.

“New Shade of Red” starts with a jangly multiple guitar attack. The melody is very repetitive, relying on the chorus. The melody kind of meanders around.
“Everytime” begins with a more stripped down drum beat and rhythm guitar, with a Strokes melody minus the swagger. The chorus is louder and fuller, but does not feature any of the angular guitars. Instead it is more of an alt-pop style.
“Something Else” has a little Fountains of Wayne power pop style, but is a little more jangly. It has some start/stopping like the strokes, but it does not grab for any attention.
“Ghostriders” starts off with no real pizazz, just sounding like an uninspired Toad the Wet Sprocket band. It feels phoned in, and nothing is really punchy, which feels like it was a deliberate production choice. Toward the end it tries to build an urgent, party like atmosphere, but it comes too little too late.
“Killing Me” slows it down more for meandering melody and some sorrowful vocals. At the instrumental, it balances out the sadness with some focused rectifying guitars, but overall, this is a sad, “just missed an opportunity” sentimental song.
“Fascination” has angular yet jangly guitars at the start that play as a call and response with the verse. They join up for the chorus, but overall, I think the guitar wins: the vocals are just too mellow.
“Sentimental Flaw” kicks in with a steady drum beat and power pop chords played on alarm-like repeat. The vocals are mellow and lofty, which does not complement the music for my taste; although it reminds me a little of the Connells whom I did enjoy.

“Voice in My Head” is so non-threatening that I feel like it could have been a mainstream hit on any radio station playing to parents who wanted music stripped of any feeling. On the second run through of the chorus, it is a little catchier, but just does not beckon for attention, like background music at a K-Mart.
“Melody” slowly and quietly begins with a chugging guitar. A couple of jangly notes filter in, and the sedated vocals feel added in as a second thought.
“Turns Out That Way” starts out with jangly guitars and medicated vocals floating away, trying to maintain a too cool for school nonchalance.
“It's Not the End” is more of the same with a looping jangly hook and broken lead guitar notes, but the vocals smooth over all of the character with a deadpan delivery. The song changes direction with a focused, catchy oldies-pop like hook toward the end, but it is not enough to save the song from mediocrity.
“Alone in the Dark” retreads the same ground: slightly energetic instruments which end up with a meandering melody, and bland AOR vocals that add nothing to the energy. This one has a little alt-country feel to it. The abrupt vocal change into the faster chorus is a little of a wake up, but it is short lived and glossed over very quickly. That is the hook they should have focused on, rather than the rest of the song.
“See You In the Underground” has a bold marching drum and guitar introduction, which quits to give way to the vocals. The electric guitar builds up behind the progressively building bridge that leads to a flat plateau.
“Calling Your Name” starts as an acoustic, swaying ballad that never builds up. Now this renaissance-folky, slightly psychedelic style is suited for his vocals. And it is nice that they just maintained one style in their wheel house without adding to it. The song lasts for about two and a half minutes, and is followed by the antiquated hidden track dead air. And right at about the ten minute mark, a couple of seconds of backwards played outtakes create a confusing psychedelic effect, but it is hardly worth the scrolling, let alone the wait.

Stand Out Track: Fascination


Red Heart the Ticker - For the Wicked

Name: Red Heart the Ticker
Album: For the Wicked
Year: 2005
Style: Indie, Folk
Similar Bands: Grandaddy, The Thrills, Mazzy Star, Rilo Kiley
One Word Review: Fragile Morning Peacetime
Based Out Of: Marlboro, VT
Label: Poorly Bird
For The Wicked - Cover & Back
For The Wicked - Liner Notes, Tray & CD
For The Wicked (2005)
  1. For The Wicked 0:36
  2. Go-Cart Thrills 3:31
  3. Racing Stripe Winter 3:57
  4. Steel Toe Drinking 2:47
  5. Where Are You Nashville 0:26
  6. Pilot Eyes 3:47
  7. Slightly Under the Weather 3:35
  8. Blinking 2:59
  9. Leather Boots 3:30
  10. Gravestone 2:46
  11. Depression 5:53
  12. Jackknives 3:17
  13. One Last Tear 1:51
  14. Drinking Cup 2:53
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Robin MacArthur - Vox, Acoustic Guitar (Joshua Marcus)
Tyler Gibbons Vox, Upright Bass, Electric Bass, Guitars, Glockenspeil, Percussion, Recording (David Berkerly, Dark Side Of The Cop, Joshua Marcus, Marco Panella)
Thad Debrock - Guitars, Dobro, Pedal Steel, Synth (Sharon Corr, Kina Grannis, Virgil Moorefield. Itaal Shur, Chromeo, Sarah De Bono, Kayleigh Leith, Rebecca Jordan)
Andy Eggers - Drum Kit, Percussion (David Berkerly)
Scott Ray - Accordian, Piano
Tyler Wood - Fender Rhodes (Glass Ghost, Joan as Police Woman, It's Official)
Frisbay - Trombone, Piano, Synth  (David Berkerly)
Chris Vatalaro - Drum Kit (Antibalas, Steve Reich, Elysian Fields, Bat For Lashes, Karl Hyde)
Bill Esses - Production, Mixing
Steve Kadison - Mastering
Ethan Murrow - Cover Art & Design
Claire Iltis - Cover Art & Design
Forrest Adzapfel - Photograph
Karen Scott - Managment

Unknown-ness: I feel like I may have heard of this band before, but where, when and why, I'm not sure. I imagine it to be a very hipster, indie album, with fey melodies and eccentric instrumentation. The base of the group is just the first Gibbons & MacArthur, so some sensitive lyrics will probably be heard too.

Album Review: This is the first of three albums for this currently active band composed of husband and wife duo that live in a (now electrically converted) cabin in the VT woods with two kids. They received a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Robin’s grandmother was also an artist, releasing 9 folk albums, and collecting many more via reel to reel live recordings, some of which have appeared on later albums. This album was recorded in a barn. Three-Fourths of this record has sparse, minimal construction, leaving lots of moment for reflection.

“For The Wicked” begins the record with hushed whispering vocals and a gentle acoustic guitar with a sleepy melody.
“Go-Cart Thrills” picks up the pace a little more, but the fragile female vocals have a mystical tone to them, and roll along with the stepping, strobe melody. Toward the end as the chorus repeats, there is a strained vocals that companies the lead in recess.
“Racing Stripe Winter” employs the male vocals for this song, which feel like a strained, sleepy Grandaddy presentation. The tempo marches forward via the drums, taking its time.
“Steel Toe Drinking” starts with a fading up acoustic guitar, and haunting female vocals, similar to Mazzy Star. The vocals are supported by the male vocals in minimal fashion, and the song creeps along like a nighttime canoe ride.
“Where Are You Nashville” is just a fade up of backwards played music.
“Pilot Eyes” begins with classical country style female voice floats along the pulsing stripped down music. This feels la little like Rilo Kiley. The vocals and music are not naturally matched, but they do work well together.
“Slightly Under the Weather” has barely audible fret change sounds and creeks up as the volume slowly increases. An ambient daybreak hum supports the hushed playing as if trying to not wake the rest of the household on a cold early spring morning. Guitar is then added and the home is awake, but is still slow to move, with one note played at a time. The supportive rhythm sections halt suddenly, letting the guitar hook play its way to a fade out.

“Blinking” is another male lead song, where it feels like the singer has to struggle to get his vocals out. It is another quiet song, where it feels like the melody is just stumbled upon without any effort or trajectory. The female vocals pick up the second run through.   
“Leather Boots” feels more like a mellow Thrills song, with a more lively melody (relatively speaking) played by the guitars and percussive tempo. There is a little bit of Shins melody in this song. And after the first section of the song runs through, it almost rocks out. But it retreats back to the thin vocal styling.
“Gravestone” takes a step back to the introspective, quiet vocals and minimal acoustic guitar. The solemn melody drifts along like a conversation you forgot you were having.
“Depression” is a light, sentimental instrumental melody for the first minute. Slightly echoing female vocals break the instrumental theme with a somber reflection. They later cry out for the recipient of the song to “talk to me,” which seems like might be a hopeless request.
“Jackknives” peps up the mood with a country style melody. The vocals fit well with the style, which feels a little like a local train traveling the tracks through snow tipped hills.
“One Last Tear” continues with the country theme, but this is a sad song rather than a chugging train song sung by Robin.
“Drinking Cup” wraps the album up with a side to side stumbly ballad, starting out with male vocals, with the female vocals in for support. It picks up the tone and intensifies ever so slightly, but it continues to grow right into a brick wall, and stops to end the record.

Stand Out Track: Leather Boots

NPR Tiny Desk
Woodbird blog
KEXP Live 2007
Monadnock Folk
7 Days VT

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

(the) Real Heroes - Greetings from Russia

Name: (the) Real Heroes
Album: Greetings from Russia
Year: 2005
Style: Glam Pop, Pub Rock, Alternative
Similar Bands: Velvet Underground, Bowie, The Presidents of USA, Urge Overkill, Zeppelin, The Sweet, 
"One Word" Review: Barroom Sequined Revivalists
Based Out Of: Austin TX
Label: PCT Music, Rec Center Records
 Greetings from Russia - Cover
Greetings from Russia - Back & CD
Greetings from Russia (2005)
  1. Elise, Elise 2:58
  2. The French Song 4:37
  3. Adjust Your Nightmare 4:16
  4. Ghost Tonight 3:06
  5. Animals, Animals, Animals 6:14
  6. Me is the Drug 3:37
  7. Move That Strut 3:00
  8. Beeswax 4:04
  9. You Medicate Me Baby 2:57
  10. All Made Up Friends 3:13
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other Bands:
Benjamin Hotchkiss - Vox, Guitars, Piano, Producer (Duckhills, Bongo Hate, Skyrocket)
Paul English - Lead Guitar, Vox (Skyrocket)
Kenneth Dowling - Bass, Vox
Kyle Crusham - Guitar, Synth, Vox, Production
Joey Spivey - Drums
Darin Murano - Photograph

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band. But the back of the record says it all with mid 00's style angular dance pop being the main critique, with a little Bowie comparison. Sounds good, but those are some high bars to reach, and there was an abundance of bands like that trying to break the surface back then.

Album Review: Real Heroes were a small three album band from Austin who reached peak potential in 2005 when their CD was released in Target stores. This version appears to be an edited version, perhaps the Target version, as the curse words are faded down in the final production.

“Elise, Elise” sounds like it is going to start out as an angular post punk band with the guitar. But the vocals have much more diverse energy and a The Presidents of the USA – meets Ted Leo style (which is comes off as a little embarrassing). They have some solid pub rock guitar solos, and a gritty sound.
“The French Song” is a quiet, relaxed song in comparison, evoking a little slyness like if Urge Overkill would cover “Watching The Detectives,” or maybe a little like Spoon’s earlier stripped down material. Lyrically, it is sexually forward, but I don’t feel the confidence it would need to come across as justified.
“Adjust Your Nightmare” is a guitar heavy, slow plodding, limp foot dragging song. It maintains the quiet reserve from the prior song, and stumbles around like alternative songs used to build. The vocals are full of emotion, and evoke a comparison to Led Zeppelin done in a Glam style.
“Ghost Tonight” pulses in with a beating keyboard. Power guitar chords support a soaring Glam / Detroit Rock music style vocal.
“Animals, Animals, Animals” starts out slow and drowsy, with a fast tapping drum. This is the first instance where the vocals fade down, assuming for cursing. The song floats along, kind of like a ballad, but with an uncomfortable, unfinished start stopping energy, channeling a little Bowie. The song takes a long time to end, stringing itself along on a couple piano notes and finger snaps. It regroups, and finishes out with an unnecessary, jammy classic rock section.

“Me is the Drug” is a fast, “Whole Lotta Love” paced power pop number, mixed with a glammed up “Ballroom Blitz.” I imagine this would be a fun song to perform live, with a sweaty result.
“Move That Strut” comes back to a more straightforward power pop intro, with Lou Reed Velvet Underground style lead vocals. Maybe a little Kinks too. The only problem is that it does not take advantage of the build into a satisfying chorus delivery. The monotone spoken vocals suck all the momentum from the bridge with “Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah’s” Otherwise, it could have been a solid power pop song.
“Beeswax” buzzes in with feedback and smooths out for a keyboard driven mellow pop song. The chorus reminds me of Guided By Voices, and is quite catchy. The vocals are delicate and wispy enough to disappear at any notice. But the chorus has a harmonized backing vocal, and some general alternative production in chord strength and a slacker melody. But this is probably the most straightforward and catchy song.
“You Medicate Me Baby” begins with a jangly hook, and crooning vocals (that try a little too much to be smooth) sung with a Shins-like melody. It never really builds into much more than the simple verse and melodic drifting, even if the jangly guitar continues on through the entire song unchanging.
“All Made Up Friends” has a marching drum beat and bass line to introduce the song. The Glam vocal melody is sung as if through a megaphone in back of the studio in a whiny, straining to be heard. The chorus repeats often, as the verse becomes truncated. It is a song with a fun, throw-away energy.

Stand-Out Track: Beeswax

Austin Chronicle
Lubbock Avalanche Journal
Rate Your Music
PCT Music
without sound
Hotchkiss 2013 interview

Sunday, March 29, 2015

(the) Records - s/t~, Crashes*

Name: The Records
Albums: s/t~, Crashes*
Years: 1979~, 1980
Style: Powerpop, Pub Rock, Glam
Similar Bands: Badfinger, Kinks, Byrds, Cheap Trick, Big Star
"One-Word" Review: Easy Going Harmonic Pop
Based Out Of: England
Label: Virgin, Atlantic Recording Company, Warner Communications
 The Records - Cover & Back
 The Records - Gatefold
 The Records - Lyrics & Record
 The Records - Sleeve & Record
 Crashes - Cover & Record
Crashes - Back & Record
The Records (1979)
  1. All Messed Up & Ready to Go 3:45
  2. Teenarama 4:00
  3. Girls That Don't Exist 3:38
  4. Starry Eyes 4:21
  5. Up All Night 4:33 /
  6. Girl  4:06
  7. Insomnia 3:00
  8. Affection Rejected 3:50
  9. Phone 3:20
  10. Another Star 4:38
Crashes (1980)
  1. Man With a Girl Proof Heart 2:47
  2. Hearts Will Be Broken 3:52
  3. Girl in Golden Disc 3:47
  4. I Don't Remember Your Name 3:38
  5. Hearts on Her Eyes 3:20/
  6. Spent a Week With You Last Night 3:09
  7. Rumour Sets the Woods Alight 3:06
  8. The Worriers  3:29
  9. The Same Mistakes 4:15
  10. Guitars in the Sky 4:08
Album Ratings (1-10): ~8.5

Members & Other Bands:
John Wicks - Rhythm Guitar, Vox~* (Kursaal, Flyers, Rachel Sweet, Dave Nachmanoff, Josh Wink)
Huw Gower - Lead Guitar, Vox, Producer~ (The Ratbites from Hell, Rachel Sweet, Dragons, Magic Muscle, Carlene Carter, David Johansen, Graham Parker, Brian Copsey & The Commotion, Rick Springfield, Monks)
Phil Brown - Bass, Vox~* (The Janets, Rachel Sweet)
Will Birch - Drums, Vox, Producer~* (Kursaal Flyers, Rachel Sweet, The Paley Brothers, Richard Anthony)
Ian Gibbons - Keys~
Jude Cole - Guitar, Vox* (Moon Martin & The Ravens, Nugent, Del Shannon, Jewel, Lifehouse, Honeyhoney, Billie Myers, Beth Orton, Rocco Deluca)
Barry Martin - Guitars* (Kursaal Flyers, The Hamsters)
Robert John Lange - Producer~
Tim Friese-Greene - Producer~
Dennis Weinreich - Producer~
Bill Price - Engineer~
Dave Bellotti - Engineer~
Jeremy Green - Tape Op~
Richard Manwaring - Engineer~
Steve Prestage - Tape Op~
Peter Scarbrow - Management~
Neil Terk - Art Direction~
Wayne Maser - Photography~
Andy Cheeseman - Personal Management~
Craig Leon - Production, Engineer*
Gary Langan - Remix*
Mick Glossop - Producer, Engineer*

I've never heard of the records, despite their generic and obvious name. I found these Records records at two different times. I really like the first album's packaging, with the gatefold cover and obvious record store artwork plus Robert Palmer-esq girl shopping and standing in front of ragged concert posters. I assume it will be a gritty pub rock band, and probably power pop mixed in.

Album Review: Power pop best describes The Records, with a touch of Glam. Their biggest hit, Starry Eyes, was from their first album, Shades in Bed, released in the US as a self-titled album, reaching Billboard’s #41. Crashes did not yield any singles, and the record company lost interest in the band. Birch turned to managing bands and started a sightseeing rock bus tour company in the UK. 

~“All Messed Up & Ready to Go” starts with a steady, confident beat. Power guitars and pulsing vocal delivery characterize the song. The verse guitar is like a less-bubblegummy “Last Train to Clarksville.” The start of the instrumental break sounds like the Talking Heads.
“Teenarama” was also a single, and their second best known song. The vocals are calm and collected, yet the music is very jittery. The vocals are harmonized in a very smooth way. The chorus reminds me of Cheap Trick, where it’s just the title showcased in chorus around some catchy, hooky, chugging power pop chords. It’s a solid Fountains of Wayne style song mixed with a little Jellyfish harmony.
“Girls That Don't Exist” starts with a simple Spoon like guitar and drum beat and an anticipational Dismemberment Plan bass line. After the first verse, the song takes more shape as a Tom Petty classic rock song. After the instrumental section, the lead vocals are supported by high pitch bee-gees like backing vocals. The song is an odd mix of a variety of musical styles combined very well.
“Starry Eyes” was a big hit in the US, even more so than the UK. This version was the original version, not the re-recorded one that’s on the UK Shades in Bed. The guitar that leads off the song is a jangely hook. The vocals start, and it has all the tempo of a Cheap Trick song. The song is a perfect looping verse-chorus with a natural transition back to the start. It is not overpowering or slight, but a nice energetic blend of melodic guitars and power pop. The guitar solo hook sounds like what the strikes tried to recreate.
“Up All Night” begins with a rotating psychedelic guitar melody, and the vocals are mixed nicely with a little echoing reverb. This is a side to side swaying, Beach Boys style, atmospheric ballad. Lots of higher pitched harmonized sections come together for the chorus, which retains a lazy yet aware vibe. It is just an easy to listen to, enjoyable sound.
“Girl” starts off with whining guitar for a moment before picking up power chords with the rhythm guitar. The guitar chugs along rhythmically with the pounding keyboard and it breaks out with power pop chords in the chorus. 
“Insomnia” starts off as a running, training montage soundtrack with strong guitars and rushed tempo. The verse slows the tempo down, as if the insomniac is trying to relax and fell asleep. But the tossing and turning gets the better of the story’s main character, and the chorus brings back the frustrated training tempo. 
“Affection Rejected” begins like a smooth ELO song, with a little prog bassline. The tone is sentimental, and very Badfinger-like. Lots of harmonies and little power flourishes along steady, main melody.
“Phone” carries a very funky bassline, which along with the guitar playing chords with lengthy intervals, makes a sinister back alley tone, like Cold as Ice by Foreigner. The lead vocals are shared…the first set are deeper, and by the breakdown, the higher, Sparks like vocals come along. They then interchange for the second verse
“Another Star” is a more ballady combination of vocals and light electric guitar for the intro. Wailing guitars are added behind soon after, and along with the bass and drums, they create a smooth soaring, cloud hopping melody.

*“Man With a Girl Proof Heart” picks right up from the first album, with catchy melody, chugging guitars. In this case, the vocals are more nasally, and a little like the Ramones or Graham Parker. But the root is still in catchy power pop.
“Hearts Will Be Broken” starts with a whiny rhythm guitar loop, and then the vocals take it back a laid back notch, to smooth power pop easily comparable to Big Star or Badfinger. 
“Girl in Golden Disc” takes us into the gritty bar, for a guitar heavy pub rock intro, and the song flows into a power-prog verse. The bridge into the chorus builds well, and the chorus turns out to be the same as the bridge melody, with a fuller sound. The vocals fade out near the end, leaving the drums pushing on alone. Then the vocals rebuild the song with the lead vocals singing the chorus, and the whole song returns for a short final section.    
“I Don't Remember Your Name” floats in with a fade up and a power guitar melody installs the initial hook. It has a very Beatles structure, with short building verses that end in harmonies, and the repeating hook which has a very Beatley sound.
“Hearts on Her Eyes” was the lone single from this record. It starts with a mid-toned, jangly guitar, and a staggered dual layered voice. It follows a simple, intuitive melody that is not incredibly catchy, but it’s very folksy and nonthreatening. 

“Spent a Week With You Last Night” has a swaggery Beatles guitar-like intro, and the vocal melody also ends in harmonies, again, like the Beatles. As the song progresses, it unveils a sort of southern bluesy rock to the tempo and rhythm, capitalizing on the sound at end.
“Rumour Sets the Woods Alight” builds momentum right from the beginning, with the guitar chugging along as the tempo conductor. The vocals flow over the musical base, and they possess a gentle release when they finally get to the chorus. The song has a nice structure, which keeps it interesting. The short instrumental section is followed by a pause, making the listener think the track is over, but it then picks right back up at the bridge. I do particularly like the melody in the chorus of the song.
“The Worriers” has a bold power pop guitar driven base, but the vocals don’t carry the energy that would match with the music. It does not detract from the music, as these songs are all so full of catchy hooks, but it makes the songs non-threatening, perhaps by design: like a muzzle on a menacing looking dog.
“The Same Mistakes” carries along a simple variant on the aggressive guitar work balance with soft, smooth harmonized vocals. The punishing drums behind the chorus pound the hook into the listener’s ears. The drums build coming out of the chorus, leading into a verse that falters just a little. But the bridge finds its way, and leads into a cereal commercial level of vocal delivery and catchiness. The next breakdown is a little psychedelic, with a “turning me round,” spinning, echoing vocal production and are brought back to finish out the song.
“Guitars in the Sky” feels like a mid-album track, not quite an album finisher. The momentum is building in the verse of the song, not letting the listener come down from the power pop on the rest of the album. This is a song that promises more. There is a little metal mentality in the chord changes and driving guitars and drums. Cheap Trick is again brought to mind.

Stand Out Tracks:~Starry Eyes
*Rumour Sets the Woods Alight

John Wicks & The Records site
Trouser Press
Will Birch Site

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

(the) Rakes - Retreat EP

Band: The Rakes
Album: Retreat EP
Year: 2005
Style: Brit Pop, Angular Post Punk
Similar Bands: Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight, Futureheads, Bloc Party, Art Brut, Gang of Four, Strokes
"One-Word" Review: Angled Ricochet Bouncing
Based Out Of: London, England
Label: Dim Mak, V2 Music Limited
 Retreat EP - Cover & Back
Retreat EP - Liner Noted & CD
Retreat EP (2005)
  1. Retreat 3:00
  2. Strasbourg 2:31
  3. Dark Clouds 2:58
  4. 22 Grand Job 1:47
  5. Something Clicked and I Fell Off the Edge 2:30
  6. Retreat (Phones Remix) 5:45
Album Rating (1-10): 8.5

Members & Other Bands:
Paul Epworth - Producer, Remixing
Paul Schroeder - Producer
Anne Caruthers - Producer, Mixing
Simon John Roberts - Sleeve Design
Nick Pimental - Dim Mark Release Layout
Philip Morais - Management: CEC
Alan Donohoe - Vox (Groove Armada, The Champagne Campaign)
Jamie Hornsmith - Bass
Lasse Petersen - Drums (Dead Pixels, Wolf Gang)
Matthew Swinnerton - Guitar

Unknown-ness: I have a vague recollection of hearing about this band, but I don't know what genre they fell into. I am assuming general hard rock indie, just by the minimal packaging. But they do allow for a remix, so that probably makes them a little more dancy-electronic. Other than the co.uk website, marking them as British, there is not much else to go by.

Album Review: The Rakes lasted from 2003 – 2009, and produced 3 albums and this EP in that time. The three of the first four songs here come from their first album Capture / Release, the first and forth songs were singles. They have not done anything too big since the acclaim they received from their first album, when they were part of the Franz Ferdinand style angular post punk dance movement of the early-mid 00’s.

“Retreat” has a bass line to start the song, like it is being chipped away. Then a disco dance drum beat is added and the short, angular, menacing guitar chords create an art punk style song. The chorus chant, followed by the monotone countdown “wash-rinse-repeat” style chanting both borrow from the pop culture ushered in by Franz Ferdinand.
“Strasbourg” is a fast-strummed, jittery song with strokes like singing, guided vaguely by the guitar melody. The chorus is shouty, but it is a nice angsty release to the hooky verse. The music ends before the vocals finish out the final verse.
“Dark Clouds” begins with surf chords strummed over highly echoing/reverbed vocals. The vocals stay smooth and collected as they glide over a charging guitar attack. This song uses a lot of start stop guitar chords for a stuttering, chaotic effect. The vocals are darker and more sedated than the energetic music or other songs showcase.

“22 Grand Job” kicks right in with a pounding drum beat, and the vocals are layered over the music without consulting it like an Art Brut spoken-discussion song. It is a fun song, as the timing between vocals and music is spot on, even if the melodies (or lack of a vocal melody) don’t quite lineup. The guitar rises and falls like an ocean tide on time lapse photography.
“Something Clicked and I Fell Off the Edge” carries on the Art Brut spoken story idea of singing further with the dialog over choppy, distorted guitars. The chorus only consists of an “Ahh-WOOO.” The angular guitar that blends with the vocals is fun, as it would be solid work on its own. The variation of the chorus changes so that the Ah-Wo is layered in time with the main vocals saying “I need a cigarette / I need a drink.”
“Retreat (Phones Remix)” feels like Gang Of Four’s more recent work, with electronic bips peppered in a repetitive guitar hook. The dance drums are kicked up a digital notch and skitter more than on the single. The vocals feel a little more synthesized, and the melody is stripped down in a cold, sterile, dark wave style. At one point before dark wave characteristic twinkling bells are employed, the vocals get stuck skipping on the obvious word “repeat.” 

Stand Out Track: Strasbourg