My Favorites Albums From 2014

I’m going to do my best to just stick to full length albums. Here we go in  ABC order..

Thrills Tour
Atlantic Thrills – Atlantic Thrills (Almost Ready) – I’ve been a life long fan of music, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I became enamored with local music. Atlantic Thrills was one of the first bands I gravitated towards and it’s not hard to see why. They capture the punk slime sound we crave better than anyone else in New England and that is fully on display on this long awaited debut LP. Besides the music itself and the commaraderie that comes with it, one of the other great things about seeing a favorite band over and over again is becoming accustomed to their signature songs, so when you finally hear their album it sounds like a greatest hits collection – trust me I mean that in the best way possible. For what it’s worth, the alphabet just happens to work this way, but I’m glad this album is up here first because it is indeed my favorite album of the year. #1. I will say Free Pizza’s Boston, MA is a close second though, but we’ll get there when we get there. Top Song: “Lie To Me”

Aus
Ausmuteants – Ausmuteants (AARGHT) – Yes, I’m aware this is an album from 2013, but I first heard it in 2014, so I said fuck it why not just slap it on there. This will happen at least one more time. Top Song: “Tinnitus”. LISTEN:
 http://ausmuteants.bandcamp.com/album/amusements

Ausm
Ausmuteants – Order Of Operation (Goner/AARGHT) –  I just couldn’t get enough of these Aussies. This is just fun, funny garage pop with some vicious keyboards. It sounds like an 80s new wave band that got mixed up in the garage punk scene. You’ll be singing along to these gems all year. In addition to the kickass music, as with the first record, subject matter always slays me. Just listen to “Publicity Stunts.” Top Song: “Freedom Of Information” http://ausmuteants.bandcamp.com/


Fat Creeps – Must Be Nice (Sophomore Lounge/Gnar Tapes) – Your favorite Creeps are at it again and they’re heavier than ever on their debut full-length LP. I’m naturally biased, so the EP will always be my #1, but this is a solid follow up that won’t disappoint FC fans.  Top Song: “Daydreaming” http://fatcreeps.bandcamp.com/album/must-be-nice

Free Pizzaaa
Free Pizza – Boston, MA (BUFU/Feeding Tube) –The title track says it all. This was/is a local anthem for Boston, specifically the Boston underground music scene. I’d never thought I could embrace any notion of civic pride, but this song actually did it for me and it’s always a pleasure hearing it live. Sad to say these slices recently waved good bye to us for their hometown of Miami :(. At least,  we have the music and the memories. Top Song: “Boston, MA” http://freepizzarocks.bandcamp.com/

Gymshorts
Gymshorts – No Backsies (Self-Released) -This was my kick you in the balls, lay back and smoke, chug a 40 in the alley way, fuck you dad album of 2014. Yes, yes eat all of their gymshirts. Fill those little bellies. Top Song: “HEY PARENTS!”  http://gymshorts.bandcamp.com/

NAP
Juan Wauters – N.A.P. North American Poetry (Captured Tracks) – Let me hip you to something, this kewl kat known as Juan Wauters, you may have seen/heard/spiritually merged with the man before in his previous happening, Jackson Heights, Queens, NY’s #1 The Beets. If you doug (ehhhhhhhhhh) The Beets, then you’ll love Juan solo, you’re wack if you don’t. Dude channels The Beatles, Piero, and Los Mockers – the last two are groups Juan hipped me to. It’s like soft, serene Ramones too, if you’re still not convinced. Gotta rep Queens, even though I’ve only been there three or four times. Top Song: “Sanity” http://juanwauters.com/

The Lemons
The Lemons – Hello, We’re The Lemons (Burger/Gnar Tapes/Tripp Tapes) – Holy shit, definitely one of my new favorite bands. It’s hard to not be happy when you hear/see The Lemons. You’re submerged in this little, Lemons world that’s all gooey and yummy it’s like a Cheerios commercial from 40-50 years ago. There’s no bad feelings. SHORT SHORT songs about lemon limes, candy girls, jelly beans, ice cream, kool aid, Chubby Checker! Picture The Archies, The Monkees, The Partridge Family, I think. Perhaps the sweeter more innocent version of their Gnar brethren, The Memories. It’s all that and it’s super sweet and super short. A little injection of sugary pop. It’s so quick you want it to keep going, but it leaves as quick as it came. It’s that fast high, that five second orgasm, that day you discovered you had five bucks left in your pocket. When life hands you lemons, eat em’ up, eat all the sweets up and get those cavities, it’s worth it.
Believe the hype! Top Song: “My Candy Girl” http://thelemons.bandcamp.com/

Littlefoot
Littlefoot – Night Of The Living Dreams (BUFU) –  2014 was the first time I saw or even heard of Littlefoot. I can remember it like it was just last year. I remember seeing them open the Atlantic Thrills album release show and screaming to Glen HEY! they have that sound I love, it’s like Earth Angel and shit! All of those odes to golden oldies are heavily on display here, Erica is on top of it, she’s done her homework and the extra credit assignment. Surf on some dreamy pop waves with this album. Top Song: “Worrydoll” http://littlefootlittlefoot.bandcamp.com/

Marty
The Marty Kings – XVII (Self-Released) – Yeah, yeah, yeah, this isn’t from 2014. I told you this would come up again and I’m a man of my word. Well, I first heard this thang just this October and it’s too fucking fantastic for me not include it. I was cruising around with those sweet ass Nice Guys and I thunk what the funk is this? It’s so bubblegummy and poppy, but in that raw, off kilterish way I always luv. Those boys informed me that this was the mastmerind Andy Macbain, the man behind Tunnel Of Love and another band you’ll be seeing on here very shortly… Top Song: “Little Arthur”  http://themonsieurs.bandcamp.com/album/xvii

Memories hot
The Memories – Hot Afternoon (Burger/Gnar Tapes) – I had/have a huge boner for last year’s Love Is The Law and it’s lasted longer than four hours. Here we are again in 2014 and the vibes are still groovin’. It’s the same spirit, a bit funkier and even more laid back. If Love’ was the 60s, then Hot is the 70s. Do it up. Top Song: “Dad’s Not Home” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aE_vAq1wRO4

The Monsieurs LP
The Monsieurs – The Monsieurs (Black Gladiator/Slovenly) –  This is pure, primal rock ‘n’ roll slime with a splash of punk and a pinch of pop. Real pop, bubblegummy in your tummy fun. Innocence… well not so innocent. It’s fun to be bad and this is about as badass as it gets. Various Boston garage legends here maintain their reputation and lurk the streets of beantown to fight again and again and again. Top Song: “Kari Ann”  http://slovenly.bandcamp.com/album/the-monsieurs

NOTS
NOTS – We Are NOTS (Goner) – You can never go wrong with Goner. Some kids way back said Memphis was dead, but damn it sure as hell is alive on this record. NOTS is straight up no holds barred fun with violent keyboards to add fuel to the fire. It’s one of those bestial sounds that makes me climb on top of the refrigerator and hop off like I’m five years old again, much to the chagrin of the folks downstairs. TOP SONG: “Insect Eyes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yvjewj28wU

The_Orwells_-_Disgraceland
The Orwells – Disgraceland (Atlantic/Canvasback) – I’ve heard a lot of talk about this being too clean and commercial in comparison to their previous LP Remember When. Fair, but honestly it’s not that much cleaner and as far as I’m concerned The Orwells have always been mershy, radio friendly in a way, in a FABULOUS way. These feel like radio songs. Hit songs. One after another (some definitely stronger than others). Even when these dudes were fourteen and trying to sound like Black Lips and Back From the Grave comps, they still sounded rather accessible. You could see what they were going for and how they completely drove past it. That isn’t to say I think they’re better than the Lips or whoever, it’s just that even when they were a garage band they didn’t really sound like one. Whatever it is, they hit it right and they have the songs, the talent, and the live show to back it up. TOP SONG: “Blood Bubbles” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g87QQ4RX_KU

Ty man
Ty Segall – Manipulator (Drag City) – Ty again, big surprise buddy! Yes, Ty is back on my year end lists. There are no surprises here, there shouldn’t be. We rep the shit we love all year long and admittedly most of them fall under similar genres, hail from the same regions, and appear on the the same or similar labels. I’m okay with that, while I always love expanding there is such little time on this planet I intend to spend it with the music I love. As much as I dug Ty’s all acoustic effort in last year’s Sleeper, I’m really happy to see the dude rocking out once again. This is his longest monstrosity to date and while it’s not the same fuzz of early Segall, he maintains his true flavor and destroys. TOP SONG: “Feel” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4VA-b5ORxI

Now hold up, before y’all pack up your shit and leave, I must give a massive shout out to all of the KLYAM Records releases we love and are insanely proud to have put out in 2014. More cumming in 2015….

KLYAM-002: Nice Guys/Miami Doritos Splifft 7″
Nice Guys cover
http://niceguys666.bandcamp.com/album/splifft-7

KLYAM-003: Back Pages Singles 13 TAPE
BackPagesSingles13
http://klyam.bigcartel.com/product/back-pages-singles-13

KLYAM-004: The Electric Street Queens – Live From Your Dreams, We’re The Electric Street Queens TAPE
ESQ-COVER
http://electricstreetqueens.bandcamp.com/

All releases available here: http://klyam.bigcartel.com/, at the the following Boston area record stores: Deep Thoughts in Jamaica Plain, Weirdo Records in Cambridge, and Armageddon Records in Cambridge, and at all KLYAM Presents shows.

That’s all folks!

LP Review: GYMSHORTS – No Backsies

Gymshorts
When I think of the word(s) GYMSHORTS I’m immediately sent back to seventh grade PE – sweaty balls, field hockey, and boys shoving lacrosse sticks up each other’s asses. Puberty is a strange time. I alleviated most of my confusions  and frustrations with music. I listened to the Ramones and Sex Pistols, while the bullies listened to Simple Plan and Sum 41 (losers!) Look at me now, I turned out just fine, writing about rock ‘n’ roll bands like Providence, RI’s own GYMSHORTS. These GYMSHORTS do in fact bring me back to my angst filled teen years, but this time it’s actually fun!

GYMSHORTS fit into what we’re into in the KLYAM “punk slime all of the time” universe. We didn’t just say punk slime 80% of the time, punk slime when you feel like it, no, all of the time. I think these shorts get it. They hang ten on tsunamis, bust balls, stay out late, get high, rob banks, and kill their parents. They lean towards that nasty side of the garage spectrum, a spectrum/genre that has become a large part of New England music. While Atlantic Thrills take care of the fuzzy bubblegum pop, Ravi Shavi shakes your soul, kids like New Highway Hymnal and TeleVibes scrape through your brain with their blistering psych noise, GYMSHORTS continue the garage trend that Nice Guys and Miami Doritos have embodied – scummy, surly stoner rock that doesn’t give a fuck if you care about them or not. “I Wanna get highhhh and I wanna get stonedddd” See, I didn’t even know there was a difference.

No Backsies! – ohh yeah that’s the name of the album, in case you can’t read headliners – is a nine song, consistent kick in the ass, a barrage of surfy, screeching garage skunk. The music isn’t pretty or easy on the ears in any way, but it’s also not noise either. The band has their shit together, they aren’t falling apart or tripping over each other, or whatever. Perhaps, they decided to save the brown acid for another day.

GYMSHORTS aren’t doing anything revolutionary here, but who is? Some dude somewhere with a lacrosse stick up his ass doing a handstand and singing the blues. The miserable blues. And that brings me to my last point before I fucking crash. I want to go out on a strong note, I understand we all have lives outside of my ‘reviews’, I’m a professional.

MY POINT about GYMSHORTS  and the ‘garage’ tag that gets slapped on their asses is that this music, despite all it’s angst and anger (the very kind I shared as a child), and lurid subject matter, it is ultimately fun and entertaining and that’s what good rock ‘n’ roll should be.There’s not enough time to be miserable and depressed, wondering why that little squeeze from down the street isn’t fucking you. This is time you could spend learning how to play pool, until you become the greatest pool player of all time, so much so that there are now lines of people waiting to fuck you that are so long that they begin all the way down the street at that little squeeze’s door step. And on the jukebox they will be blasting GYMSHORTS – “I WANT TO GO TO BEDDDDD!!!” Me too. Goodnight!

“I used to hate the smell of sweaty ball Gymshorts in the morning, now it’s the smell of victory!” – Matthew 19:19… HEY MOM, HEY DAD! THE GYMSHORTS ARE GOING ON TOUR. HOLY FUCK! NO WAYYYY…

Gymshorts tour
Tour with Vulture Shit. Check it all out here including their stop at SXSW https://www.facebook.com/events/219222644932963/

Review: Bellwire – “summEP”

Bellwire – you might not know them now, but you might soon. They’re from New Hampshire, but will be calling Allston home in a little while. They’ve put on their [Bandcamp] a three song EP called summEP. So I checked it out and I like what they’re doing. Remember Afroman? Me neither, but to me Bellwire’s EP is like him producing that no longer existent Vice surf band, Japanese Motors. A cheesy combination on paper and one I’m still not entirely comfortable publishing, but let me get to the bottom of things. “The Bell Hop” is quirky rock ‘n roll – a style that I’ll keep praising as long as the practitioners keep things fresh. There’s borrowing and twisting of surf, Pavement, and punk. The other two songs, “Leaky Seams” and “Sunsick on Fisher Street,” venture into powerpoppy regions of sound yet maintain keen levels of freakishness in the vocals in the former and the latter is a modern update of “I Want Candy” (Strangeloves, not Bow Wow; I know I name dropped Afroman).  I’m curious about this band now. They seem like they’re having a good time.

 

klyamrecommended

Classic Album Review: The Reatards – Teenage Hate (1998)


Band: The Reatards
Label: Goner
Year: 1998 (original release), 2011 (reissue with Fuck Elvis We’re The Reatards)

On January 13, 2010 rock and roll lost one of its most prolific practitioners, Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr. aka Jay Reatard. Jay was only 29, but in his short time on this planet he had built up an intimidating discography comprising of at least 75 vinyl releases, all of which he recorded by himself, typically in his living room, giving Jay’s recordings a raw, intimate, lo-fi aesthetic. I have always been a fervent admirer of his solo work, but it wasn’t until recently that I truly appreciated his first band, The Reatards and their debut LP Teenage Hate released in 1998 when Jay was only seventeen years old. It is now being re-released by Memphis garage label, Goner – the same label that initially released it in 1998 – to celebrate the short life of its creator.

Teenage Hate is honestly unlike anything else I have ever heard. There’s an authenticity to it that is almost unreal. In eighteen songs, seventeen year old Jay creates a soundtrack for youth rebellion. Jay sings about the very issues that affect him on a daily basis. In opener, “I’m So Gone,” Jay laments, “I’m so gone, I got no home.” It’s songs such as this where the teenage hate in the title comes through. Having dropped out of school after 8th grade and moved out of his parent’s house soon after, Jay lived in some of the tiniest, cheapest houses Memphis had to offer; hardly a place to call home.

Jay shrieks and curses with the fervor and unabashed vulgarity of scum punk legends GG Allin and Darby Crash. Teenage Hate’s sound is as brutal as the lead singer himself. The record’s rackety, lo-fi production is simply dirty and will turn off most listeners, but charm those of us that love gritty garage. Sonically and musically, The Reatards owe a large debt to fellow Memphis garage punkers, The Oblivians, who served as mentors for the young Jay. Like The Oblivians, The Reatards create simple, sloppy and straight to the point punk rock songs, taking heavy influence from the blues, 60s garage and its imitators, as well as Memphis’s own Sun Records (Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison) The Reatards, however, put a much deeper emphasis on immediate pop hooks.

Most songs have clear hooks and lyrics that are easy to sing along to. “When I Get Mad” could be an anthem for drunk, incoherent, pissed off boys across America: “When I get mad I don’t think/said I don’t give a shit about anything/when I get mad I’ll break anything/cause I don’t give a fuck about anything.” It’s not poetry, but that’s what is great about it. A poet would add metaphors and other pretty things to articulate the frustration of being seventeen. But, Jay is a real teenage punk in the midst of all the bedlam a poverty stricken, teenage, rock ‘n’ roll musician must endure. On this track, Jay sounds like Elvis on robitussin singing out of a garbage can. Truly beneath the noise, his vocals have a touch of traditional country, blues, and 50s- early 60s rock ‘n’ roll. Jay is simply telling his story with these songs.
Songs like “When I Get Mad” highlight the authenticity I spoke of earlier. Jay didn’t bullshit. When he said he’ll break anything, he meant it, as it was not uncommon for Reatards shows to culminate in broken beer bottles and blood. Often singers are far removed from the words that come out of their mouths, but with Jay everything is very direct and painfully real.

Jay’s presence on this record is undeniable, but his bandmates also play a big role in Teenage Hate’s overall sound quality. Steve Albundy Reatard plays the bass and Elvis Wong Reatard bashes away on the drums, both serving as the driving force behind these songs. Jay is the main songwriter and he created the hooks, but the songs wouldn’t sound nearly as catchy without the other Reatards. All three together are a juggernaut, like a burnt out 97’ Buick going 110 mph, they are relentless. Each song is extremely fast, averaging about a minute and half. In fact, they fly by so quickly that you have to listen to them at least a few times to truly appreciate the songwriting and pick up on some of the subtle influences.

As much as I love The Reatards, I will say that eighteen songs can be a handful. Eighteen songs of grimy guitars, muttered vocals, and lyrics about “teenage whores” can wear you down after a while. I wouldn’t say that by the end of the record, The Reatards are a one trick pony, but you feel like you get the idea long before it has reached its conclusion. The strongest songs are at the beginning, “I’m So Gone,” “Stacye,” “When I Get Mad,” “Outta Of My Head, Into My Bed,” but there are solid tunes throughout the whole album. I feel like some of the later tracks would stand out to me more if I heard them on their own, somewhere else, but after hearing so many other, somewhat similar songs they just feel weaker. The album’s closer “I Can Live Without You,” (the longest track at a whopping 3:06) lacks the excitement of an earlier song like “Stacye,” (misspelled for whatever reason) which is much more immediate with its Bay City Rollers styled chants “S T A C Y E.”

At its heart, Teenage Hate is a collection of classic themed pop songs buried beneath a slimy ramshackle production. It’s harsh, it’s filthy, it’s honest, but above all it’s fun. As visceral and volatile as this record is, it’s ultimately a fun rock ‘n’ roll record in the traditions of Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, and The Ramones. This record is just the beginning of Jay’s career, foreshadowing what he would later master in his synth punk band the Lost Sounds and with even wider success as a solo artist, earning him a place on Matador Records. Alas, Jay’s life and career ended shortly, but this re-release is a testament to Jay’s legacy, with it now garnering far more attention than it ever received in its initial run. Web sites such as Pitchfork now seem to be writing about every new posthumous Jay release, helping to popularize not only his garage music, but the often ignored punk sub-genre as a whole. Garage rock and Jay Reatard are like the anti-indie hero, the anti-Conor Oberst, if you will. This music isn’t a joke in any way, but it’s all about having fun and not taking yourself too seriously. Just look at the band’s name.

LP Review: “Zoo Traffic” (Yankee Power)

Artist: Yankee Power
Release Date: August 21, 2012
Track list :
1) Adopted Love Doll
2) Swing
3) Wrong Kind
4) Given Into Contrary
5) Dr. Daisy
6) Fuzz Minisery
7) Because It’s Hard
8) Stray
9) Real Folk
10) Modern Change
11) Shiver Of Sharks
12) Dear Old Friend
13) Two Quarters
14) Open Breast

Comments: I met half of Yankee Power in the year Two Thousand and Six. Mr. Tom Calvert (guitar/vocals) and Mr. CJ Kanouff (drums) were WHSTV production icons, legends. So, when I heard that these dudes were unleashing some jams, I had to see what all the fuss was about. Now, we are in the year Two Thousand and Twelve, and just recently I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jeff Gallagher (guitar/vocals), who is nothing but a straight shooter, a real charming man. I have yet to meet Mr. Mark Fallon (Bass/Vocals), but I am confident he is an upstanding gentlemen.
Okay now, I listen to a lot of music, way too much music. In fact, as I am writing this, my ears are splitting because I have been blasting tunes on my ipod and from my computer all day. I can’t live without it, and with this I have come to accept that I will be deaf before I’m fifty (hopefully, hopefully not thirty), but I’m optimistic that by that time technology will bring all sorts of fun gadgets to keep my musical intake flowin’. Working on this site, I certainly come across TONS of bands, but few are as diverse as Yankee Power. That’s not a stock line, that’s the truth.  Zoo Traffic is a colorful album filled with all sorts of styles, it constantly switches up its sound, yet maintains an overall distinct character, unique to Yankee Power.

The opener, “Adopted Love Doll,” (which is accompanied by a hilarious video that can be seen below) is a savage, powerhouse, quasi-heavy metal pop song that brings to mind everyone from Andrew W.K. to Alice In Chains (especially in some of the vocals) to many of the garage/party rock bands we champion on this site. Point being, ‘Love Doll’ is a fast rocker, guaranteed to get you headbanging and fist pumping or else you’ve sniffed too much glue and should perhaps stay at home next Saturday night. Definitely a contender for my new alarm clock; the song just has that let’s get up and go! motivational quality to it. I also can’t forget to mention the outstanding drum work of CJ Kanouff – simple, but the song’s driving force for sure.

The next number, “Swing,” is a dramatic change of pace in which the band slows things down a bit.  On “Swing,” we hear a much more folk/country oriented sound for the band, which appears frequently throughout this album. I truly appreciate the vocals of Jeff Gallagher, the dude has an amazing voice, but what I really dig is his range. Just like the band’s overall sound, Jeff’s vocals are never quite the same – track by track. He is able to scream and shout, like on the album opener, and yet on other songs, such as “Dear Old Friend,” his voice is soothing and soft, drawing comparisons to John Lennon and Paul Simon, at least to me.

But, Jeff isn’t the only top notch singer here. Often fellow guitarist Tom Calvert delivers some fantastic vocals as well. My favorite song with Tom’s lead vocals is the country fueled ballad, “Real Folk,” which I find equally humorous and sincere, and I mean that in the best possible way. It reminds me of Ween in this manner, which is awesome because Ween is incredible. Two great moments on Zoo Traffic include dual vocals from Jeff and Tom on “Wrong Kind” and “Stray.” In a sane world, the latter would be a top 40 hit. But, that’s whatever… music charts are silly and irrelevant. “Stray” is a beautiful pop song and one of the catchiest I’ve heard all year. Just further evidence of how powerful these songs really are. I must have listened to “Stray” at least forty or fifty times by now, maybe more (time I could have spent selecting the president and other political scum, completing homework assignments, wacking off [well, moreso anyway], among other wholesome activities.) But, NO! this song just hooked me in and won’t let me go.

Another cut that runs deep, so deep, so deep, puts her ass to sleep, is “Because It’s Hard,” sung by bassist Mark Fallon.  This ditty is a total stand out and is the unofficial Amish Anthem. Whenever I hear this, folksy, Celtic  Poguesian tune, I picture images of Amish men and women, and children smiling, laughing, working, and reflecting the light they have come to know. This year, I am blasting this song on repeat during Thanksgiving Dinner, just for the Amish. Amish Rock. Amish Core 2015, get on that bro.

I can’t recommend Yankee Power’s Zoo Traffic enough; I have had a real pleasure excessively listening to and reviewing this puppy. I can truly say this album opened up my tastebuds, which is a rare feat as some miscreants have noted in the past. This LP is definitely a twenty twelve gem and continues the trend I’ve noticed with other twenty twelve favorites of mine (Fat Creeps, The Barbaras, etc.) which is basically creating such strong songs that when you listen to the music it feels more like a greatest hits compilation than simply one album. My next mission in life is to see all the Yankee Power hits on the live stage! To quote the Sneaky Pinks, I can’t wait.

Check out their music here! http://theyankeepower.bandcamp.com/

LP Review: Barbaras 2006-2008

Artist: The Barbaras
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Label: Goner
Track List:
1) Day At the Shrine
2) Heaven Hangs
3) Grief Touches Everyone
4) Topsy Turvy Magic
5) Superball
6) Only One
7) Breathing Underwater
8) Devour the Jungle Deer
9) Grey Eggs
10) Flow
11) Why Should I Love You?
12) Bluebirds
13) How Many Times
14) Summertime Road
15) Annual Botanical

Comments: Two years ago my ears had the pleasure of hearing both The Barbaras and The Magic Kids for the first time. The latter gained national attention/critical acclaim with the release of their debut LP Memphis, but sadly few have ever heard of the former. Which is a shame because the Magic Kids are basically the product of the Barbaras, at least that’s one way to look at it. In the time since then, I have often YouTube’d Barbaras songs and viddied thee old live clip or two. I fell in love with these songs, the few of them that were available, but I wanted more. Now in 2012, the Barbaras album I and so many other weirdo Memphis pop creeps have been anticipating has finally arrived. I honestly never thought I would see the day.

Okay, let’s get to the record itself. It’s beefed up that’s for sure. In my mind, I envision members Billy Hayes, Stephen Pope, Will McElroy, Bennett Foster, and Alex Gates hopping on stage with tremendous, roid induced muscles- like pro wrestlers.  That’s what this LP is- Barbaras beefed up. Anything you’ve heard before, it’s bigger – with the help of  producers Jay Reatard and Alicja Trout, I must add. And you can definitely see where Jay’s production style plays a role in this record.  Songs like “Day At The Shrine,” “Grief Touches Everyone,”  and “Devour the Jungle Deer” possess that fast paced, hard hitting drum quality. It’s honestly like hearing another Jay record at some moments. Oh and I should mention, for you sad folks that are unaware, Billy is the former drummer for Jay Reatard’s live backing band and former drummer for Wavves; Stephen is the former bassist for Jay live and current bassist for Wavves. These aren’t mere accomplishments for the resume, oh no, they are all intertwined.

On this record, you can hear the similarities in all three bands. In particular, in the eccentric songwriting of Billy Hayes. Tracks like “Grey Eggs” and “Why Should I Love You?” are reminiscent (for me as a listener) of Billy’s main songwriting contributions on Wavves’ King of the Beach (2010) – “Convertible Balloon” and “Baby Say Goodbye.” Billy creates his own world with these songs,  and I’m constantly reminded of old school Nintendo video games,  just lying around with a Nintendo in my room. In general, Billy’s vocals play a big role here, but he is certainly not the only one. Pretty much all the guys lay down some nasty vocals, and the singing is probably the highlight for me. This is where I best hear the Beach Boys/Phil Spector references everyone makes. Of course, you really can’t not listen to this and not walk away with those feelings. Specifically, some of my favorite moments are when the band unabashedly mimics a 60’s favorite. The very Beach Boys esque  “buh bub bub buh” in “Topsy Turvy Magic,” the girl group stylings of “Breathing Underwater,” the doo woppy vocals in “How Many Times,” or the epic, insanely layered, psychedelic Beatles 1967 ode “Annual Botanical” that closes the album.

So yeah, Barbaras are obviously heavily influenced by the music of the 60s, but they take this music and subvert it with their own bizarre, demented personalities, which is a key factor in why this band outshines most of their contemporaries. They are derivative, yet they carve out their own distinct character and in that way no one can say they sound like anyone else, past or present.

LP Review: “Twins” (Ty Segall)

Release Date: 10-9-2012
Label: Drag City

Comments: There are a few ways to examine Twins, which amounts to be Ty Segall’s sixth solo album. One approach would be to first make note that this is the third musical project of 2012 that has the Ty Segall name slapped on it in some form. The other approach would ignore those releases and treat this as the follow-up to 2011’s Goodbye Bread. The former approach seems to work best with Twins. Without having Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse in mind, I am pretty sure several people (whose last Ty listening experience is Goodbye Bread) would be confused with Twins – whoa, Ty became 90% incapacitating guitar riffs? Sure, Goodbye Bread featured some real jams – “You Make The Sun Fry,” “My Head Explodes,” to name two, and 2010’s Melted is full o’ fuzz, but the difference is that Twins does a significantly more noticeable attempt at getting to the heart of the song – fast and with little left to spare. Slaughterhouse did this exceptionally well and it does seem like Ty had some similar ideas in mind in the crafting of Twins. There’s that fuzz pedal and that guitar solo – which we heard about well before this release.

“Thank God For Sinners” is an an affirmation that Ty is going full throttle again. Then there’s the fastest song on the record, “You’re The Doctor,” with increasingly dynamite fuzz, layers of solo, and some drumming that must have reminded Ty of his old days pounding on the “Skin” recording. Fans of older Ty (which is weird to say given the man’s youth) might be even more receptive to “Inside Your Heart,” which has some piano, but some mid-song jamming that is just three words away from Slaughterhouse “Tell Me What’s Inside Your Heart.” The thing that I love about Ty is that he is not quite recycling old riffs and song structures – he is innovative. Like having Brigid Dawson sing on “The Hill” while a rampage is going on in the background. Twins poppiest moments at this point come on “Would You Be My Love.” The bass-line is killer and the general sludge that probably doesn’t only have me thinking Nirvana. Only on “Ghost” does Ty restrain himself from the kind of electric indulgence that is apparent on the previous five tracks. The result is mixed, but that is hardly a knock. “They Told Me Too” is the opposite sounding – Ty feasts himself on his effects pedals. “Love Fuzz” is another pop oriented tune – it would not be out of place before or after a Black Keys number on the radio. The fuzz comes in the form of a repetitive rhythm section, bolstering the onslaught of the lead near the end. I got to give a shout out to “Handglams” for going the extra distance. Ty had done a similar thing vocally/stylistically with “I Am With You” from Goodbye, but here he really cranks things up and departs from that nicey nicey entrance, adding some good stuff in there that we just haven’t really heard from the man. Acoustic guitar and no drums make up “Gold On The Shore” before Ty finishes things with “There Is No Tomorrow,” a mid-tempo closer.

With Twins, there is not as much cohesion in sound here as on Hair, Slaughterhouse, or maybe even any Ty release post-Lemons. Ty has reached new levels of sonic exploration, though, and it is abundantly clear that he can really do the heavy almost pseudo-metal stuff just as well as the slower tempo output. There are several tunes on Twins that are the most ‘this’ or the most ‘that’ in the grand scheme of Ty Segall. As I have expected on more than one occasion this year, I expect a broader crowd to be turned onto Ty.  It’s not like the stuff he did before 2012 did not lend itself to more ears, but his music is proving he is not a mere ‘garage wunderkind’ – which seems to be a pretty damn awesome thing to be in itself! It seems fairly fitting that NME [9 out of 10] and the like are giving their high praise – maybe they have not seen a dude like this since Alex Turner (who has name dropped Ty as someone whose stuff he is really into). But Turner can’t say he has released three fantastic albums in a seven month span. Nor can too many musicians at all.