Sound it Out # 32: Black Moth Super Rainbow - "Windshield Smasher”
There’s a guy in Pittsburgh who calls himself Tobacco. He's been making music as Black Moth Super Rainbow since 2003. His sound has transitioned from disjointed psychedelia to more guitar-heavy dance music, though all of it has a trippy element to it. It shouldn’t surprise you that people enjoy doing drugs and going to see Black Moth Super Rainbow play.
Black Moth Super Rainbow just finished a very successful (and entertaining to read) Kickstarter campaign, raising over $125,000 to release the new album Cobra Juicy. Premiums included a haunted house tour, a roller skating party and hand-painted, glow-in-the-dark masks with a USB stick jammed into the mouth like a tooth. Eric Wareheim starred in one pitch video for the campaign.
“Windshield Smasher” is the new song from Cobra Juicy. It's sort of like a malevolent stadium anthem that gets progressively weirder. Listen and download below.
Sound it Out # 31: Redd Kross - "Stay Away From Downtown"
The brothers Steve and Jeff MacDonald are the core of Redd Kross, who played their first show opening for Black Flag at a middle school graduation party in 1978 (Steve was 11; Jeff was 15). The band quickly became a big part of the LA punk rock scene - their pop sensibilities and long hair made them stand out from the crowd. Their energy and charm made them beloved in nearly any setting.
As Redd Kross matured, they became more and more fascinated with pop culture; they wrote songs inspired by the likes of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, breakfast cereal, and Linda Blair. They had a few major label deals, opening spots for giant rock tours and some radio and MTV play, but somehow never acheived the success of their peers.
34 years after opening for Black Flag, Redd Kross is back with Researching the Blues, their first album in 15 years (out today!). The record is 32 minutes of melody-laden pop/rock, and “Stay Away from Downtown” is a worthy introduction to the band and the new record. Download it below.
Sound it Out # 30: Zulu Pearls - "No Heroes No Honeymoons"
Zulu Pearls is a fellow named Zach Van Hoozer who moved from Washington DC to Berlin a couple of years ago. He’s been working on the record with producer Nick Anderson for three years while plugging away at bar shifts and day jobs.
I like this song very, very much. It’s groovy and slightly sinister and I can’t get it out of my head. It has a kind of restless energy that makes you want to do something exciting and possibly embarrassing.
The new Zulu Pearls album in out 9/18 and is full of spare and soulful tunes such as this one. It’s called No Heroes No Honeymoons, just like the song.
Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) has finished her first album of new material since 2006’s The Greatest. It’s called SUN and it’s out on September 4. Chan played every bit of music on the record, and it comes on the heels of what sounds like a brutal breakup with Giovanni Ribisi. We'll have to wait and see how much of that pain ends up on display in the rest of the songs. The first single is called "Ruin" and you can grab it below. It's perky by Cat Power standards, with a nifty keyboard bit that complements Chan’s haunting voice. Her signature fierceness is there, and the song rocks. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the record.
Sound it Out # 28: Daydream Vacation- "Dare Seize the Fire"
I’m pretty sure Dave Einmo is some kind of pop music savant. He has a band called Head Like a Kite in which he’s the only consistent member and where he combines movie samples with rock-leaning electronic grooves and often has interesting guests join in with vocals. One of those those singers on last year’s Dreams Suspend Night was Asya, formerly of the band Smoosh (Remember Smoosh? They were the band of cool tween sisters from Seattle that you saw all in all the “bands to watch” lists 6-7 years ago...they were like the anti-Hanson. Asya started singing for Smoosh when she was 12. She’s 20 now).
So, Asya’s first song with Head Like a Kite was called “Daydream Vacation” and she and Dave recently decided to be a full time band called just that. I like it that Einmo named Head Like a Kite after a lyric from The Shins and that Daydream Vacation is a play on Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation. This is a man who is not afraid to pay tribute.
Daydream Vacation’s debut, self-released record is called Dare Seize the Fire and they’ve generously offered this free download of the title track. (If the HTML5 widget below doesn’t work for you, you can go here to listen). It’s an extremely fun, summery song that went directly onto most of my playlists.
Sound it Out # 27: Laetitia Sadier - "Find Me the Pulse of the Universe"
Laetitia Sadier sings like no one else. She bravely meanders all over the vocal spectrum, frequently dipping into a bit of drone or off-key oddness only to somehow catch herself before hitting a sour note. Sadier was the signature voice of Stereolab, and her new song “Find Me the Pulse of the Universe” has all of the sultry French-ness and jangly, easy listening elements that I’ve missed since Stereolab ceased to be. She has a new record called Silencio out on July 24.
Download Laetitia Sadier’s "Find Me the Pulse of the Universe" for free below.
Sound it Out # 26: The Dandy Warhols - "The Autumn Carnival"
The Dandy Warhols have been a band since 1994. They’ve released 8 widely-different studio albums in these 18 years - their sound has fluctuated between garage rock, electronic and psychedelic. Their new record is called This Machine and came out this week. It’s a guitar record in that many of the songs have really interesting signature riffs and rhythms that are guitar-driven. It rocks in a restrained manner.
“The Autumn Carnival” is one of the mellower new Dandys tracks but it’s the one I find most addictive. The song has a weighty quality that merges Courtney Taylor-Taylor’s sensuous whisper perfectly with swirling guitar and calliope-esque keyboards. I can’t recommend it enough.
Download “The Autumn Carnival” for free for a week!
Sound it Out # 25: Miniature Tigers - "Female Doctor"
I almost didn’t want to single out one song from Miniature Tigers’ new album Mia Pharoah because the whole thing works so nicely as a collection of music. Charlie Brand’s breathy falsetto and a general pop/synth vibe tie the album together, and the Brooklyn-via-Phoenx band experiments with sound and technique throughout the record to great success.
“Female Doctor” has lots of sexy energy, but despite the title it’s more flirty than nasty. It’s got this sneaky guitar riff that makes a happy zone fire off in my brain...and then I hit repeat.
Tuesday night's As It Happens program on CBC radio featured a segment on the terrible human rights situation in Bahrain, opening with an archive interview with Zainab Al-Khawaja, daughter of the dissident Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who was snatched, beaten and indefinitely detained by Bahraini police a year ago. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is now on a hunger-strike and may die soon. As It Happens then interviews his daughter again about her father's situation and the human rights situation in Bahrain. Zainab Al-Khawaja explains that her father is risking his life to draw international attention to Bahrain's awful human rights situation, the hundreds of dissidents rotting in jail, some as young as 12 years old, facing torture and inhumane conditions.
As It Happens then interviewed Bernie Ecclestone, president of Formula One, whose big annual race is to be held in Bahrain this year. Ecclestone is the perfect picture of denial and callousness, as he blithely asserts that Bahrain is a perfectly nice place where protest is tolerated. He's smug about his race for expensive cars in a totalitarian police-state, and blames the media for any negative impression the world may have gotten about Bahrain.
As It Happens's producers were kind enough to supply an MP3 of the segment for us to host (linked below). As It Happens is my favorite news magazine program. I download the previous night's episode every day and listen to it on my waterproof MP3 player on my daily swim.
OFF! is a band full of Southern California punk rock royalty: Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks), Dimitri Coats (Burning Brides), Steven McDonald (Redd Kross) and Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes/Earthless/Rocket From The Crypt). Their new, self-titled album comes out on May 8. It has sixteen songs and is sixteen minutes long. So at 1:36, "King Kong Brigade" is relatively epic.
I’ve been thinking about getting a medical marijuana prescription for my insomnia, and it occurs to me that that's probably also the only thing that would make Pond sound even better to me than they already do. I’m confident that no bud was spared during the two weeks they spent in an remote farmhouse making their new record Beard, Wives, Denim.
Pond shares a few members with fellow Australian stoner rock band Tame Impala, who we featured here last year. My favorite song on the new Pond record is“ Moth Wings”, and I challenge you to listen to it and not shake your thing.
Click the little arrow on the widget below to download "Moth Wings" - one week only!
P.S. Yes, there was also a terrific Portland, OR band called Pond back in the 90’s.
Sound it Out # 21: Rebecca Gates and the Consortium - "Dangerous"
Rebecca Gates originally blew my mind with her fantastic duo The Spinanes. She and Scott Plouf (who now drums for Built to Spill) created a passionate and full-bodied sound that you'd never guess could come from a 2-piece band. Rebecca's lyrics were at once vulnerable and bold and she managed to play lead and rhythm guitar parts live.
But it was always the vocals that set her apart. She has possibly the sexiest, least contrived voice out there. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I heard her band’s new cover of “Dangerous”, originally done by the 80’s R&B group Cool’R. This song is part of the “Jackpot Covers Portland” series, in which Jackpot studios in Portland (Oregon) gets local artists to record versions of songs originally done by other Portlanders.
“Dangerous” is a lot of fun. Gates and her Consortium band-mates Joanna Bolme (who also plays in Steven Malkmus’ The Jicks) and Ji Tanzer (Blue Cranes) embrace the 80’s keyboard breaks and silly percussion sounds while throwing down a serious bass line. Rebecca’s voice is as seductive as ever.
Rebecca Gates and the Consortium will be releasing a new album of originals called The Float on May 15.
Back in 2004, Caetano Veloso asked me join him for a night during his residency as a Perspectives artist at Carnegie Hall. The concert was very stripped down and acoustic. Jaques Morelenbaum augmented us on cello and Mauro Refosco on percussion. This evening was pretty special for me. I was extremely nervous (there are flubs here and there), but I was also thrilled. Some folks thought we made a pretty odd couple, but we actually have a lot in common.
This is a song we wrote together for the Red Hot + Lisbon benefit album in 1998. The Red Hot folks suggested we do something together and I had a song I hadn't finished, on which I used a percussion loop from a Caetano song as an inspirational rhythmic bed. Since we already knew one another, the idea of finishing that song seemed obvious. I sing about a club kid, lost in the nightlife, and Caetano wrote lyrics about Carmen Miranda—who, as it turns out, isn't Brazilian (she's Portuguese!), which made it all the more fitting for that particular project. Somehow, juxtaposing these two very different women, separated in time and space, made a weird kind of musical sense.
Anyway—if you like this song, you might want to want to check out the rest of the album, which you can order today!
I’m just nuts about Django Django. I could give you a bunch of biographical facts about them meeting at a Scottish art school and writing songs in apartments, but really what I want to say is THIS BAND IS SPECIAL and THEIR RECORD IS WORTH YOUR MONEY, SO BUY IT.
How to describe the music? Charmingly eccentric. Electronic yet organic. Some might hear the spacey vocal style and deem it psychedelic. Others will find it so winning and listenable that they will say it’s pop. Let’s just say that it makes perfect sense that drummer/producer/de facto bandleader David MacLean’s older brother was in The Beta Band.
Django Django’s debut album is already in my top 5 for 2012. It’s out in the UK and should be out soon in the rest of the world. They’re playing their first US dates in New York March 10-12 and at the South by Southwest festival in Austin next week. I was actually tempted to fly out to see them.