“3 AM Spiritual” from the new album, Soft Will out on June 25 (Mom+Pop). Fixing to be a doozy.
“3 AM Spiritual” from the new album, Soft Will out on June 25 (Mom+Pop). Fixing to be a doozy.
Smith Westerns, everyone’s favorite former Nobunny backing band (though Bad Sports and Rock ‘n Roll Adventure Kids might just take the cake), have gone from doing just that to playing large festivals and receiving pretty widespread ‘indie’ acclaim. They’ve always been well-versed in pop hooks and judging from the Chris DeCarlo obsession “Varsity,” their next album Soft Will (Mom + Pop, June 25) will feature that kind of good stuff.
There is a video out there now for “Varsity” and while I’d normally post it, I’ll link to it: HERE. Maybe I’m just jealous of the Cameron Omori look-a-like or maybe it is simply a ridiculously cheesy music video. I’ll stick to the MP3 version, thanks.
The Smiffs are playing at The Sinclair on Saturday July 27 as part of a tour in the wake of the album’s release.
Here are the other dates:
7/21 Nashville, TN – Exit In
7/23 Washington, DC – Black Cat
7/24 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
7/26 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
7/27 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
7/28 Montreal, QC – Cabaret Mile End
7/29 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
8/2 Chicago, IL – Lollapalooza
8/5 Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
8/6 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
8/7 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
8/9 San Francisco, CA – Outside Lands Festival
8/10 Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
8/11 Pomona, CA – The Glass House
8/12 San Diego, CA – Casbah
8/15 Portland, OR – Doug Fir Lounge
8/16 Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
8/17 Vancouver, BC – Electric Owl
8/20 Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theater
10/4-6 Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Festival
10/11-13 Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Festival
Here is a video of them playing “My Heart” in New York City back in 2009:
We’ve been fans of Smith Westerns for a few years now and are HUGE fans of their first two albums, Smith Westerns and Dye It Blonde, especially the former! We even saw the dudes last January at the Paradise. That was around the last time anyone saw Smith Westerns, but now they are back with a new album, Soft Will out on June 11 on new label, Mom + Pop. You can listen to one of the tracks (actually album closer) “Varsity” below. I’m really digging “Varsity,” makes me even more excited for the new album. This song continues the same trend Dye It Blonde began with more expansive and ambitious production, and stronger songwriting. At heart, it’s exactly what Smith Westerns has been since day one: simple, but insanely catchy pop songs.
Here’s the track list for Soft Will:
01 3am Spiritual
05 Fool Proof
06 White Oath
07 Only Natural
08 Best Friend
09 Cheer Up
I saw more shows this year than any other (47 total) and all of them were FUN . The following is a list of my top ten (most fun) shows all year:
10) The New Highway Hymnal, Creaturos, Leamers, The Migs, Nice Guys @ Big Stink (10/6/12)
Damn, this was a solid night. I mean with the bands on this bill, how could it not be? Going in to this show I only knew NHH and The Migs, but I came out a fan of local stalwurts, Creaturos and Nice Guys, and our neighbors to the North, Montréal’s Leamers. Kids bashing and bopping around like they ought to. I’ll link you up to the KLYAM review: https://klyam.com/2012/10/09/concert-review-nice-guys-the-migs-leamers-creaturos-new-highway-hymnal-big-stink-10612/
9) The Migs, Nice Guys, Cult Fluorescent, Slimers, Chillcity Icon @ Wilder Zangcraft (11/24/12)
Best Migs show I’ve seen! Nice Guys played a sick set of Coachwhips covers and it was great to see the experimental one mon band Cult Fluorescent again. This show was also my introduction to the mighty Migsian two piece, Slimers and the twisted no wave/noise duo, Chillcity Icon. https://klyam.com/2012/12/06/concert-review-the-migs-nice-guys-cult-fluorescent-slimers-chillcity-icon-wilder-zangcraft-112412/
8) Hunx and His Punx, Heavy Cream, Radio Control @ Great Scott (4/2/12)
I’m a Hunx freak, so words can’t describe my excitement for this show. Having missed the past two Hunx Boston gigs :( I’ve waited for two and a half years to see the band live again. The first time back in October ’09 was opening for Jay Reatard and this served as my intro to Hunx. This time around was even better because I actually knew and loved all of the songs. Throw in Infinity Cat noise makers, Heavy Cream and Somerville rockers, Radio Control and you have one of the finest shows all year. https://klyam.com/2012/04/04/concert-review-hunx-and-his-punx-great-scott-4212/
7) Fat Creeps, Earthquake Party, Fedavees, Fagettes Halloween Show @ Rosebud (10/13/12)
2012 very well could be called the year of the Fat Creeps, especially on this site. We’ve seen a dozen Creeps shows this year, more than any other artist. In fact, I think I’ve seen them more than any other band I’ve seen. Every show has had its own special quality, but for Halloween they played a set of Ramones covers and the crowd ate it up. It was the marriage of two of my favorite bands, and on top of that there were stellar sets from Earthquake Party! (Nirvana), Fedavees (The Wipers), and The Fagettes (Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood).
6) On Broadway Fest 2008 @ Dirty Douglas/Ant Cellar (5/5/12)
I haven’t been to any music festivals, except this one, well and the first On Broadway Fest, but I arrived at night for that one. Therefore, this show was a unique experience. It was a blast seeing 15 or so bands all in one day, especially with memorable performaces from Fat History Month, Big Mess, The New Highway Hymnal (shit water yay!), and Guerilla Toss – I literally felt the Guerilla Toss, woooo. https://klyam.com/2012/06/08/concert-review-onbroadway-fest-2008-5512/
5) No Age, Make It Up @ Chum’s Coffeehouse (3/10/12)
KLYAM and No Age go way back, way back before there even was a KLYAM. The first show we saw at Middle East was No Age, and that took place in 2008. They were one of the first of our beloved, HONORARY KLYAMERS. As popular as No Age is, they still carve out their own DIY aesthetic and playing a little Coffeehouse in Waltham is a testament to that. Some of the best moshing/crowd surfing I’ve seen all year! https://klyam.com/2012/03/12/concert-review-no-age-chums-brandeis/
4) Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, K-Holes @ The Well (9/22/12)
This is one of the few shows I have seen outdoors. I need to experience more of these! Outside on a rainy night in Brooklyn with a thousand or more bodies. I usually prefer smaller gigs, but Ty Segall’s music is so gigantic it feels right in this setting. Of course, this show is also special because this marks my first and only experience with Thee Oh Sees, one of America’s greatest live bands. Can’t wait for the next NYC trip and/or Ty/Oh Sees show. K-Holes, stay solid. https://klyam.com/2012/09/23/concert-review-ty-segall-thee-oh-sees-k-holes-the-well-92212/
3) Ty Segall, White Fence, Strange Boys @ Space Gallery (5/14/12)
Ty it is again! You just can’t stop this guy from popping up on our year end lists. Ahh, our first Ty Segall show ever! An event in heavy anticipation for nearly two years. The Space Gallery is one of the finer venues in the New England area that I have attended: larger capacity without that corporate rock feel, art gallery, steady rock ‘n’ roll, and two dollar PBRs! Yeah, so if the show above at the Well felt like a big time House of Blues event, then this Space Gallery show was more akin to a rowdy, packed Black Lips show at the Mid East Downstairs. And of course, Strange Boys were better than ever!
2) King Khan & The Shrines, Hector’s Pets @ Brighton Music Hall (7/23/12)
As far as showmen go, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that competes with King Khan. We were blessed this year to catch Khan and all the classic Shrines at a sweaty, fun filled show this past July. It’s just one big party y’all. https://klyam.com/2012/07/25/concert-review-king-khan-the-shrines-brighton-music-hall/
Who will be number 1?…..
1) Nobunny, Bad Sports, Xray Eyeballs, Liquor Store @ Living Bread (9/21/12)
For the past three years, the almighty Black Lips have filled the number one slot in this category. Alas, we did not see them this year, they had bigger plans – touring the Middle East. Beautiful, those kids need em’ more. Fortunately, we witnessed somebunny else on stage, this bunny we’ve also consistently seen the past 3-4 years, and he’s never let us down. 5 Nobunny shows deep and this was the best. I felt like I was watching Darby Crash or Keith Morris, but singing bubblegum and garage. I love that feeling, when you look up at a bunnyman in his underwear and say to yourself “this is the only kind of rock ‘n’ roll that matters.” https://klyam.com/2012/09/24/concert-review-nobunny-bad-sports-xray-eyeballs-liquor-store-living-bread-92112/
Ahh what a year, 2012, the best I’d say. In this year I saw the following exceptional/favorite bands for the first time (some of which I noted above): SKIMASK, Bleached, Smith Westerns, Dirty Virgins, Fat Creeps, The Migs, Ty Segall, Beach Boys, Bent Shapes (as Bent Shapes), Colleen Green (two nights in a row!), Thee Oh Sees, Nice Guys, The Fagettes, The Electric Street Queens, Yankee Power.
And now I’m off to bring in 2013 with Fat Creeps, The New Highway Hymnal, Color Channel, and Yale, MA at Great Scott. Peace.
1) Buddy Holly– “Dearest” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebsYCJinxKU
2) The Dixie Cups– “Chapel of Love” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTq7w8P6_2I
3) Bent Shapes (formerly Girlfriends)- “I Was Here But I Disappear” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_4UVdsc_ps
4) Best Coast– “Sun Was High (So Was I)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xdansEXFjg
5) Best Coast– “The Only Place” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoPoRuNTo9U
6) Wavves– “Wavves” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyxwkUUrpTI
7) Antsy Pants & Kimya Dawson– “Tree Hugger” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R378SwPH-b0
8) The New Highway Hymnal– “Hey Kid (Gotta Run)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8Yxb54zxSw
9) Lotus Plaza– “Rain Down” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO0V3fD8z7c
10) Joey Ramone– “What A Wonderful World” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFbkVOBAorE
11) Elvis Presley– “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqv5b0UjR4g
12) Smith Westerns– “Imagine Part III” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLAlSRf-fDk
13) Righteous Brothers– “Unchained Melody” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiiyq2xrSI0
14) Everly Brothers– “Made to Love” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUdYW4ZYjUo
15) Rolling Stones– “Monkey Man” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNY8eYmzdH4
16) The Animals– “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUpBSvN1a50
17) The Duprees– “You Belong To Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCeNCvwEFU8
18) Natural Child- “Ray Thompson’s Blues” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEjxdnC1vQ4
19) Go- Go’s– “Vacation” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxC8KatxJxo
20) GG Allin– “I Wanna Kill You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeTNfoSu9nI
21) GG Allin– “Fuck Authority” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6FNvENuGuk
When thee kids were out attending Morrissey concerts, jamming to Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam, and dreading AP History exams, some other slightly older kids were making some noises…
Bands: Smith Westerns, Porcelain Raft, Bleached
Venue: Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
Date: Sunday, January 29
Act One – Bleached – Bleached was one of the better opening bands that I’ve seen in a while. I like noisy and catchy rock and roll so it makes sense. They are definitely more rooted in punk rock than the bands they’re bound to get compared to: Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls. I was most excited for “Electric Chair,” which also happened to draw a nice crowd reaction. It’s too bad I hadn’t discovered that song until a few weeks ago. It’s an instant favorite. For a band that still hasn’t released a full-length, there’s a lot to be excited about. The other song that I want to mention is “Searching Through The Past,” which will get stuck in your head. It’s only a four chord jaunt with a vibrating guitar solo that was performed quite well in the Paradise.
Act Two – Porcelain Raft – Every now and then, I’ve seen shows that feature a Porcelain Raft type of band. It’s a rare thing, but it has happened. It’s the situation where I get this sense that I’m watching a band that belongs on a bigger stage or at least in a headlining capacity. The music was overwhelming in that it was sort of all over the map genre-wise, but just maintained this grandiose presence. I got vibes of recent Kings of Leon and Editors among others. Keep in mind Porcelain Raft is just a two piece, but they make use of pedals, keyboards, and extra drum and bass to give them a fuller sound. Listening to Porcelain after the fact on headphones is no comparison. Last night, I could feel my entire body vibrating from the shaking bass. All this said, Porcelain felt at home during their first performance in Boston and I’m sure the next time they’re around they’ll play somewhere with a nice sound system. That being said, I thought they were an enjoyable band, but I don’t think I’d see them again on their own. Just not really my thing.
Act Three – Smith Westerns – The Smith Westerns are one of those bands that have probably proved themselves more divisive than at all necessary. They got their start as a high school rock and roll band, as I’m sure most know by now. They shortly thereafter opened on a tour for Nobunny, released their debut Smith Westerns on HoZac, and did some more touring. Dye It Blonde, their second album, is remarkably cleaner sounding with extravagant lead guitar playing and the addition of keyboards. So they stepped it up in other words. Live, they seem like they’ve been playing these songs for years. Just an extremely polished band. What stood out to me is just how they were able to transmit their raspy earlier songs like “Tonight” and “Be My Girl” into these powerful live songs that are just as awesome (if not more than) as the newer ones. Speaking of new ones, they played two new ones. One involving the word ‘star’ and the other…well I don’t remember. They were good; they reminded me of a band that I couldn’t help, but think of during the set: Girls. Both bands have similar set ups and that awkward (mostly for audience members) balance of slow songs and medium/fast tempo ones. I believe they played more than three-quarters of the Dye It Blonde during their set and followed up with a new song and “Dye the World.” Biggest crowd reaction: “Weekend”. My favorite was “All Die Young.” I love that keyboard intro. The most fascinating SW to watch was Max Kakacek. He is an outstanding guitar player.
Chris DeCarlo: What the fuck do you expect a KLYAM concert review without the showstopper, the main event? Didn’t think so. Glen summed up most of my sentiments, but I thought I’d add a few musings that are worth noting. First off, like my co-conspirator, I have been dying to see Smith Westerns for quite some time now and so that made this show doubly special. Few current bands can I say the same thing for. They more than satisfied all of my Smith Westerns hopes and desires. By the way, why did we stop doing those good ol’ fashion “Hopes and Expectations” pre-show posts? I guess we got lazy. If I had made one of those, you can bet your sweet ass the hopes would have outweighed the expectations. They played just about all of the classics from both records; in fact I believe “Dance Away,” was the only cut they didn’t perform from Dye It Blonde (2011), correct me if I’m wrong. The whole set, start to finish was invigorating, another rare feat for me, even amongst top KLYAM greats. The sound was amazing, which is what we have come to expect from the dise and it adds to the flavor of the Smith Westerns too. They have a polished sound and style, and proper sound amplifies that greatness. Lastly, brilliant, bubblegum pop flow aside, these guys are masters in the performance realm, making sure every nuance of each song can be appreciated by the audience, and with very minimal crowd interaction or wishy washy intervals, the songs simply seaped from one into another in a manner I’ve never seen quite matched before. There was no filler, it just hit you. My only gripe? People (self-included) became really content with just standing there, bobbing their heads, or at best awkwardly dancing in their own little way, which is cool, but there isn’t/wasn’t any unified, overly enthusiastic crowd response and that takes things down a few notches… slightly. I mean this isn’t Jay Reatard. As much as I’d love to see people dancing, moshing, babes sweating all over me, the whole nine, the music itself doesn’t really lend itself to such activities. OR maybe crowds are just lame sometimes? I don’t know, but I tend to think it’s more of the former. People want to just react naturally and not force it. With that being said, lack of audience participation should not be any reflection on the prowess of the band members, for they are easily one of the best and most mesmerizing bands I have seen in my life, and they’re my age! Now back to Glen…
Final Comments: This was a really good show. I got to appreciate a variety of musical chops in addition to a band that I’ve been meaning to see live for a while now. I’m interested to see what’s next for the Smith Westerns considering they’ve already opened for Arctic Monkeys, MGMT, and Yeasayer in such a short time frame.
Can’t wait to see these guys at the Paradise Rock Club (Sunday, January 29, Boston, MA)!
10) Girls– Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds): This is undeniably the most ambitious album on this list, probably one of the most ambitious pop records of the year, and I would say definitely the most ambitious sophomore effort I have heard in a long time. Album (2009) was/is one of my favorite records and this LP definitely shares a similar sense of outstanding pop features. With that being said, I do not love this album and in fact I think it is a bit too epic, too diverse, too much. At least for my taste, I am sure there are plenty of people out there that will love every second of it. I really enjoyed this record, but more imporantly I have a lot of respect for the band for making it. Girls really pushed themselves, exploring all sorts of areas of the music world; it really feels like a gigantic, classic rock record, especially with tracks like “Vomit.” If you have heard this, you know what I mean, when it explodes into the “looking for loveee” part(s) of the song. Good stuff. I would have prefered shorter songs, but that’s alright, this list is supposed to be devoted to praise anyway, so nevermind me. “Honey Bunny” is an essential, fucking amazing pop ballad.
9) Fat History Month– Fucking Despair (Sophomore Lounge): Fat History Month is representing Boston (KLYAM’s hometown) and the Boston underground on this list, and if you don’t know anything about any bands from this area, then Fat History Month is an excellent place to start. I myself only know some bands, but FHM is the cream of the crop and Fucking Despair showcases everything that is awesome about this duo. It is often hard to describe their music and it seems like everyone comes up with their own little, weird interpretations, so I’ll leave it up to you, because I have faith in you. “Old Lady Smokers” and “Things I Enjoy” are constantly racing around my psyche, seriously these suckers are having fun being stuck in my head. They are short, but sweet, you just want them to never end, kind of like an orgasm. So, yeah it’s a musical orgasm.
8) Atlas Sound– Parallax (4AD): Bradford Cox is the best songwriter of our generation, at least in my book. Parallax is a great pop record, not the best from Bradford, but that is like asking Scorcese why one of his films is not as good as Taxi Driver; they cannot all be amongst the greatest records of all time, but that does not take away from the fact that this an above average album. “The Shakes,” is my favorite song. I know it sounds extremely cheesy, but I literally am shaking when I hear this song. It is so damn powerful as with nearly all of Bradford’s material. His songs just have that emotional effect that a lot of other artists lack. He can make things sentinmental witout making them come off as lame. Rock and Roll is alive and well.
7) Natural Child– 1971 (Infinity Cat): I just mentioned about rock and roll being alive and well, Natural Child is a further testament to this. Another artist, I cannot promote more. Seriously, if you dig this “garage” revival kind of stuff like the Black Lips, Ty Segall, Nobunny, etc, then Natural Child is up your alley. But, even if you do not dig those artists and you are one of those bastards that only listens to rock and roll that was created at least twenty-thirty years before you were born and you scoff at others that drink PBR, while you yourself are only drinking Bud Light, well then Natti Child can and will serve a dish you cannot refuse. The name of the record is 1971, just think of it that way. If you really love the Stones, I do not see why these Nashville boys deserve any less of your attention. It’s only rock and roll.
6) Ty Segall– Goodbye Bread (Drag City): Need I say more? Okay fine. Ty Segall expands upon the reputation he has built up thus far as a fun, frat rockin’, psychedelic artist. Per usual, the record is sonically amazing, and just engulfs the listener. Strong pop hooks ensue.
5) Smith Westerns– Dye It Blonde (Fat Possum): Here is a band I really started getting into this year and rightfully so; Dye It Blonde is fantastic pop record, an ode to pop music. Each song is a carefully constructed, melodramatic ballad. Listening to this album is like shooting up pop music, you get that instantaneous pop sensation rumbling through your body from the first few moments of “Weekend.” I can picture Smith Westerns lyrics being plastered all over the facebook walls of bratty, depressed teenagers all across America. “I should’ve realized life is such a joke, it makes me wanna choke,(“Smile”). Mmmm gotta love them at that age!
4) Mark Sultan– Whatever I Want (In The Red):
I am big fan of Mark Sultan’s past two LPs, The Sultantic Verses (2007) and $ (2010), but I think this LP is even greater, exemplifying Mark’s strengths as a songwriter. The hooks are stronger than ever especially on tracks like “Axis Abraxas,” “Just For a Moment,” and “Song In Grey.” “Axis Abraxas” is an incredible opener and just gets the listener pumped for the whole record. I wish more opening tracks were like this. Definitely one of the year’s finest and one of the most underated.
3) Shannon and the Clams– Sleep Talk (1-2-3-4 Go!): One of my new favorites from twenty eleven. Another truly kick ass rock and roll band that is totally underated. I remember hearing this about six months back and thinking this would probably end up on my list and I was right, not much can top it. First and foremost, Shannon Shaw is a fabulous singer, one of the best living today. Secondly, the band are masters at creating (or recreating) early 60s esque rock and roll both in songwriting and in sound quality with really nice, clean, analog. They also add an extra umpph to several of their songs, giving them an old school punk sound as well. All in all, there is not much you can hate about this band/album, they just represent what is great about the music I enjoy. Alas, you will not see this record on any of the major magazines’s or web sites’s end of the year lists like several other underappreciated records on this list.
2) Hunx and His Punx– Too Young to Be In Love (Hardly Art): If Sleep Talk has a companion twenty eleven LP then it is Too Young to Be In Love. Shannon Shaw provides vocals in both bands and just like on Sleep Talk, she sings with incredible force and control. In general, all of the girls shine more on this album than the band’s debut, Gay Singles. That is probably the best part of this record, the fact that the band sounds fuller and more complete. Admittedly, I am a bigger fan of the first record, but I adored and still cotinue to greatly adore this record. In many ways, it is completely different: slower, more serious, and more 60s based. If you dig 60s girl groups, I highly recommend this album as it is quite reminiscent of that era. “Lovers Lane,” the opening track is a great example of this and my favorite from the whole record. Hunx’s lead vocals are better than ever and the girls’ backng vocals nicely complement his. Hunx and His Punx are doing something truly unique and unlike anyone else today.
1) Black Lips– Arabia Mountain (Vice):
What do you expect? Of course, Arabia is number one. Of course, Black Lips are number one, they always are! I have to say though I am not a robotic fan or anything like that, they are not an automatic number one for me by any means. This year they simply released their greatest studio album in my eyes. Like Glen and other punk slimers, I greatly anticipated this release, probably more than any other album in my life. When I heard Mark Ronson was on board, I was not sure what to make of it, but knowing the Lips, I felt we were in good hands. They stayed true to themselves and simply used Ronson’s skill to enhance what already made them great. I see this record as a salute to what makes the Black lips a kickass band: Cole’s weird, raspy vocals (sounding better and clearer and more effective than ever) on “Family Tree,” the band’s simple committment to fun in “Go Out and Get It,” indeed an incredibly simple, but catchy tune, and overall a striking personality that no other band can match. Personality is what makes bands memorable and the Lips have mythologized themselves into the greatest rock and roll band currently in existance.
Best EP of 2011?
Still never going stop him… and his band from appearing on my lists!
Wavves– Life Sux EP (Ghost Ramp)
Yep, there should be no surprises here. We spend the whole year yapping about our favorite artists, so when it comes to these year end lists, it should all look familar.