Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Maxtone Four - Go Steady - 2003

The Maxtone Four's debut recording, Go Steady, produced and recorded by Drew Johnson (the Drew Johnson Band, Formula Kid) at Angstrom Sound in Granite City, Illinois, is a throwback to rock records of yesteryear, a record that strips away the current musical trends of aggression, angst and whiny navel-gazing, replacing them with solid, hook-filled, guitar-driven pop/rock. Songs about girls and sunny skies. St. Louis, Missouri based singer/songwriter Brian McClelland's jones for mixing 60's British invasion (Kinks, the Zombies), 80's new wave (the Cars, the Knack, Squeeze) and more recent indie guitar rock (Fountains of Wayne, Sloan, Superdrag) has developed into a truly unique brand of songwriting, filling Maxtone Four's driving tunes with hooky, buzzy guitars and timeless pop melodies. And lyrics that won't make you wince. -CD Baby

Maxtone Four - Go Steady - 2003/rs
Maxtone Four - Go Steady - 2003/mu

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Modesty - Take Modern I - Digital EP

The Modesty, born in Norrköping Sweden in 2006 in the shatters of a dozen pop freaks, are finally back. One critically acclaimed debut album, check. Two European tours, check. One music video shot in Hong Kong, check. What about album #2? Well, why make life so easy? Let's say, two digital EP's instead - "Take Modern" part 1 and 2. Let Mathias Oldén mix it (The Hives, Radio Dept, Johnossi). Let's push the volume even higher. Let's make a smash and grab at The White Cube gallery, politely burn down the works of Damien Hirst whilst listening to Jo Armstead, Dean Parrish and other northern soul classics. Let's team up with one of the largest preppy brands in the world and release a band t-shirt. Let's go back home to the Parklife Social Club and dance the night away as if you were 18 again, but stop by the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool and play with Squire and Andy Lewis. New decade for The Modesty, check.

Avialable now at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and more!
* The Modesty on MySpace
* The Modesty on Facebook
* GANT UK webshop selling "The Modesty" t-shirt.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Two Hours Traffic - Little Jabs - 2007

Named after a line from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, Two Hours Traffic are a Canadian indie rock band that blends influences like Big Star, Nick Lowe, and the Cars. Based out of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the band formed in 2003 when longtime friends Liam Corcoran and Alec O'Hanley joined with fellow University of PEI students Andrew MacDonald and Derek Ellis. That same year, they released The April Storm, a six-track EP that brought the band to the attention of Nova Scotia's leading indie rocker, Joel Plaskett. Plaskett would produce the band's self-titled debut album, which was released in 2005. He was back behind the boards for the 2006 EP Isolator, plus the 2007 album, Little Jabs. In 2008, Little Jabs landed on the short list for Canada's prestigious Polaris Music Prize.-AMG

Two Hours Traffic - Little Jabs - 2007/rs
Two Hours Traffic - Little Jabs - 2007/mu

Friday, February 19, 2010

Brambles -Holiday From Love - 2000

With vocals that are equal parts David Bowie and Elvis Costello reaching his high pitches, the duo of brothers Lou and Tim Anthony make easy and quite invigorating classic pop on "I Want to Be With You." Complete with tambourine and a longtime California summer car-driving feeling, each song is tight almost to a fault. There is also a touch of Queen in some songs, particularly the bassline and rhythm section in "The Kick Inside." This song also has a Crowded House infectious pop quality. The mix of some songs is a bit suspect, as "Every Time" seems quite low, with the harmonies unfortunately almost lost in the song. If it's any consolation though, the subsequent "Eyes of Love" has a surprisingly up-tempo and buoyant taste as it ends. The best track has to be "Now You're in My Heart," which comes off as a cross between the Bangles and Tom Petty with its lovable arrangement and bubblegum pop performance. The middle numbers of the album aren't as solid as the first few tracks, tending to fall into a basic ballad form but with some better than average lyrics in "Falling" and "Always Been You." But "Safe in My Arms" returns to the adorable pop/rock ethos, catchy and inviting. -AMG

Brambles -Holiday From Love - 2000/rs
Brambles -Holiday From Love - 2000/mu

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The American Professionals - Faking It - 2004

The American Professionals take character flaws, guilt, and a dash of hope and spread them out like sweet marmalade on a piece of crunchy, pop toast. You get all your RDA recommended allotment of procrastination, self-indulgence and low self esteem and still get to savor the joys of catchy melodies, grinding guitars, and fluffy billows of lush harmony.
Behind the suspiciously vague band name The American Professionals, lurks songwriter/musician/producer Chuck Lindo. Having spent a number of years in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Midwest as bass player, guitar player, and backing singer for numerous bands, Chuck finally chose to loosen the strings on his little bag of tunes he'd been filling up. In January 2003, it was time to step out and take his turn in the spotlight for a while and give it a go as a bandleader and front man. He brought on longtime friend and studio whiz Patrick Conway to begin work on recordings at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco.
The result of their efforts, the ever-so-slightly cynically titled "Faking It", was completed in December of '03 and is due to be released on San Francisco indie label Ethic Recordings in August '04.
Aside from Gregg Anderson's drumming, Chuck played all the instruments himself and performed all the lead and backing vocals.

The American Professionals - Faking It - 2004/rs
The American Professionals - Faking It - 2004/mu

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Luxury - This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things - 2007

You might say Jason Dunn’s new band sounds like his old band because it’s still his voice, his guitar, and some of his songs, but I’d say The Luxury is a step up musically from the Halogens; this incarnation can blow the doors off the club, as well as do the various elegant takes on better-than-Coldplay anthemic pop, see the end of “Rockets and Wrecking Balls.” There, and on “Let Go,” the record’s opener, the change of lineup has produced a rock band with some Oasis in the big hummable choruses, long wah-wah outro solos, and oddly, some REM in the driving pop of “Seven Stories.” For good measure, there are nods to Revolver era Beatles in the weaving of strings and cool sounds into the CD’s sonic periphery on “Malcontent,” another track that blends the (excellent) singer at the piano with the big guitar sound in a way that's classic sounding without being derivative.- The Noise

The Luxury - This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things - 2007/rs
The Luxury - This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things - 2007/sb

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Knack lead singer Doug Fieger dies

Feb. 14, 2010, 7:21 PM EST

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. (AP) -- Doug Fieger, leader of the power pop band The Knack who sang on the 1979 hit "My Sharona," died Sunday. He was 57.

Fieger, a Detroit-area native, died at his home in Woodland Hills near Los Angeles after battling cancer, according to The Knack's manager, Jake Hooker.

Fieger formed The Knack in Los Angeles 1978, and the group quickly became a staple of Sunset Strip rock clubs. A year later he co-wrote and sang lead vocals on "My Sharona."

Fieger said the song, with its pounding drums and exuberant vocals, was inspired by a girlfriend of four years.

"I had never met a girl like her — ever," he told The Associated Press in a 1994 interview. "She induced madness. She was a very powerful presence. She had an insouciance that wouldn't quit. She was very self-assured. ... She also had an overpowering scent, and it drove me crazy."

"My Sharona," an unapologetically anthemic rock song, emerged during disco's heyday and held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard pop chart for six weeks, becoming an FM radio standard.

It became a pop culture phenomenon, parodied by Weird Al Yankovic and others and sampled by rap group Run DMC.

In 1994, "My Sharona" re-entered the Billboard chart when it was released as a single from the soundtrack of the Ben Stiller film "Reality Bites."

"My Sharona" gained attention again in 2005 when it was reported that George W. Bush had the song on the presidential iPod.

Their songs, about young love and teenage lust, included the hits "Good Girls Don't," "She's So Selfish" and "Frustrated."

The Knack continued to release albums and tour through the mid-2000s but they never replicated the success they enjoyed with their first two albums, "Get the Knack" and "... But the Little Girls Understand."

Fieger battled cancer for six years. In 2006 he underwent surgery to remove two tumors from his brain.

He is survived by a sister, Beth Falkenstein, and a brother, attorney Geoffrey Fieger of Southfield, Mich., who is best known for representing assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian.

A Los Angeles memorial service for friends and family is being planned. -MSN

Friday, February 12, 2010

B-Back - Second Hand - 2006

The B-Back were born in October 2003 when Madison Wheeler (drums and vocals) dropped his previous band, Ray Daytona & The Googobombos. Madison, thanks to his talent as a songwriter (Pikes in Panic - I Barbieri) wrote five songs and asked to Frank Croco (guitarist in the garage band The Gloves) to arrange them. Frank accepted and brought some more 60s style songs. Three months later John Amato (guitarist from The Quarrymen) joined the band along with Paul "The Muppets" as bass player. Eight months later the B-Back recorded their debut album "IN TIME!" with Area Pirata label, followed by "SECOND HAND" in december 2006. During this time they had many gigs in Italy and abroad. On Summer 2008 Paul Muppet left the band and Zara Thustra (bass player in Skum) joined the B-Back.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Bats - Daddy's Highway - 1987

The Bats' first full album continues the early promise of their EPs and, with only the slightest deviations and changes since, established their sound for just about everything that followed. Scott and company may not be the most willfully experimental of musicians, but when they're on -- more often the case than not -- their lovely, melancholic songs simply hit the spot. Woodward forms the perfect singing partner for Scott, while guest violinist Alastair Galbraith brings his talent to the fore as he has for so many other New Zealand bands. "Treason" makes for a good start to the album, but the real standout on Daddy's Highway is the surging "North by North." Featuring a fantastic Galbraith violin solo, it gives the band the opportunity to show its sometime hidden strengths for more energetic, nervous material. Scott's vocal performance is one of his best, and the quick, on-edge pace seems to get even more so as the song continues. Quieter songs unsurprisingly abound as well, from the understated sweetness of "Sir Queen" to the gentle keyboard-touched "Candidate." "Tragedy" is one of the best in this vein, ending in a disturbing low drone (or at least as much of a drone as the generally quick-length songs by the Bats allow for). Though Daddy's Highway suffers a touch from the same problem that affects all Bats releases -- an increasing sameness, especially towards album's end -- it's still a great full album debut -AMG

The Bats - Daddy's Highway - 1987/rs
The Bats - Daddy's Highway - 1987/mu

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Greenhornes - Sewed Soles - 2005

Do the Greenhornes really need a "greatest-hits" album at this point in history? In a better world, they would -- of the many bands on the "nuevo garage" scene, they're one of the few whose blues-wailing sounds sincere and not forced, and who can cop the snazz of the Stones, the Pretty Things, and the Yardbirds while bringing something of their own personality to the picture. However, in the early innings of the 21st century, the Greenhornes unfortunately have a cult following rather than a mass audience like so many trading in real rock & roll, and rather than serving as a one-stop-shopping place for the group's many wildly successful platters, Sewed Soles instead allows folks just recently catching on to this fine band (perhaps because of the endorsement of Jack White or their presence on the soundtrack Brokeback Mountain) to hear how they've progressed to their current level of cool. Sewed Soles features representative cuts from the Greenhornes' first three full-length albums (The Greenhornes, Gun for You, and Dual Mono), two tunes from the East Grand Blues EP (their first release for V2), a rare single side produced by that Jack White fellow, and two previously unreleased alternate takes. Capable of shifting from slinky groove ("There Is an End," featuring Holly Golightly on guest vocals) to full-on R&B muscle (the bruising "Can't Stand It") whenever they please, these 19 tunes tell you all you need to know about how good the Greenhornes can be on record, and Sewed Soles is an ideal introduction to an unsung powerhouse on the American rock scene. Give it a listen, and wait patiently for album number four. -AMG


Monday, February 8, 2010

Cloud Eleven - Sweet Happy Life - 2007

Making beautiful kaleidoscopic Pop with strong 60s influences is the route undertaken by Rick Gallego, musician and songwriter, of this mainly solo venture. Gentle harmony vocals and suitably whimsical arrangements that recall `67 Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee Gees and Left Banke are combined with a Paisley Pop production reminiscent of The Rain Parade full of shimmering tremolo layered guitar crescendos and circular bass lines.... Cloud Eleven pull all the right strings of carrying infectious sweet Pop music into the years to come. -Shindig


Friday, February 5, 2010

Goodnight Loving - Crooked Lake - 2007

There may be no better American rock band to have emerged in the late 2000s than Milwaukee's the Goodnight Loving. And most certainly very few who, by the anti-will of their own humility and small-town D.I.Y. roots, managed to sneak through the indie-zeitgeist's gaze with such woeful underappreciation. But alas, they are merely carrying the torch first unceremoniously lit by fellow Midwesterners like '68 Comeback and the Oblivians, whose frontman, Greg Cartwright, unsurprisingly produced their 2006 debut, Cemetary Trails. But where that effort was a remarkable, if unsophisticated, launching pad for kids in their early twenties fucking around with a carnival of rustic influences and a diplomatic songwriting approach, Crooked Lake is a focused journey through traditional Americana, religiously sloppy garage rock, and the most ramshackle of punk rock brattiness. "Land of 1000 Bars," a particularly rollicking, harmonica-hoisted two-minute frenzy, is anchored by their trademark knack for sharply worded sentiments that ideally capture inglorious nostalgia, like the first verse's lament that, "I've traveled near and far, but I still can't shake the shadows of 1,000 bars." But just as suddenly they can unleash a contemporarily jaded folk song like "21st Century Post-Apocalyptic Worried Rant," which juxtaposes the insistent strumming of a lo-fi acoustic against knowingly lethargic vocals, while the faintest of keyboard notes serve as a sarcastic pulse to keep the song on measure. And when the bluegrass twang of "Whiskey Nights'" gives way to rolling, half-time snares and harmonized choral vocals, a moment of pure musical joy coincides with the realization that Crooked Lake is a crucial work by a group of guys with an endearing, and necessary, lack of self-consciousness. And that with any revisionist luck, it will eventually be included in the canon of that decade's essential rock LPs. -AMG

Goodnight Loving - Crooked Lake - 2007/rs

Goodnight Loving - Crooked Lake - 2007/mu

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Mayflowers - Are You Green? - 2004

Very classic sounding "Black Sea"-era XTC-inspired ditties! Good tunes, too--real good.  That vibe continues on songs here. The band reminds us of a few other cool indie powerpop ones like Barely Pink, Einstein's Sister and edgier Stonecake. This is a joyous, highly melodic, high-charged tune-fest. All the songs here feature glistening guitar twists, snappy snares, rich, angular bass guitar tones (ala Colin Moulding) and a breath of fresh air on all the material. -Not Lame

The Mayflowers - Are You Green? - 2004rs
The Mayflowers - Are You Green? - 2004/mu


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