Review: Colleen Green – “Sock It To Me” (2013)

Artist: Colleen Green
Release: March 2013
Label: Hardly Art

The long awaited Sock It To Me is here and I am a happy camper. I say long awaited because Colleen has mentioned this release being in the works at least since December 2011, when she played two of these tracks on WMBR’s Breakfast of Champions. Those recordings sure were exciting and left me in anticipation for the unnamed release…which we know now is this record! Well well well, Sock It To Me features the likes of Colleen, her trusty drum machine, and some additional support and engineering from Danny Rowland. The guitars are still fuzzy as ever, the melodies go above and beyond previous tracks, and in general, I’d say these are some really fleshed out tunes.

I really really enjoy “Time in the World,” as it is particularly sticky, thanks to a varied drum beat, layers of guitar and sound, and Colleen’s brilliantly stretched out vocals. To continue in the direction of talking about some more interesting tunes, I’ll mention “Close to You,” which is like the ultimate pop song – almost R&B/slow jam style – distinctly CG, but pretty different from a lot of the songs on this record and in her catalog at large. These vibes continue on the title track, which sounds like it is destined to explode into noise, but keeps the pace with a healthy amount of uh-huhs. And that’s fine!

Side B of Sock It To Me is a good degree faster and heavier than the songs I previously mentioned, so if you found yourself previously big into tunes like “Worship You” or “Rabid Love,” Side B might be your side…or if you are into pretty much anything that Colleen composes, it’s all good! In fact, the heavy shit of “Heavy Shit” straight up rocks. The production throughout the record stands out, as I feel that we now get a super sized listening experience, with differentiation between the trebly guitar parts, the bassy guitar parts, and the other instrumentation instead of one chunk of sound. Colleen is such a good songwriter that she can really do a lot with a little (technically speaking) and Sock It To Me is her latest and greatest example of that. The entire record is very catchy. Additionally, I’m not sure that anyone is really doing the kind of stuff that Colleen is. And that’s cool because she does it so well.

klyamrecommended
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Colleen Green is playing with Fat Creeps, Fedavees, and Ronnie Nordac on April 25th at Radio in Somerville, Mass. This will be a show’s show.

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: “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.

Album Review: Putrifiers II (Thee Oh Sees)


Band:
Thee Oh Sees
Release:
September 18, 2012
Label:
In The Red

Comments: Thirteen albums deep, Thee Oh Sees made me think: just what will their next album sound like? If there were any indications before we got to preview some of the songs, it was that this was not a full band album. It was primarily written by John Dwyer in the role of multi-instrumental captain with help from long-time engineer Chris Woodhouse (drums) and Mikal Cronin (sax) just to name two. Dwyer’s done this before; actually, just last year with Castlemania. I love Castlemania’s wildly psychedelic moments and distinctive tape production. With the longest song clocking in at 3 minutes and 20 seconds, that record stands in contrast to the full band’s lengthy inclinations on Carrion Crawler/The Dream. With Putrifiers II, it sounds like Dwyer is interested in trying some new things, but with a keen remembrance of past successes. On the opener, “Wax Face,” I think of Carrion Crawler/The Dream, with its buzzing bass-line, fast pace, and array of effects for Dwyer’s guitar playing. The one thing that stands out on this track and stays that way for the rest of the album is Dwyer’s vocals. Dwyer doesn’t seem to be straining himself too much, just letting melodies stand as most distinct and the vocals as a creepy, yet squeaky clean and well-mixed after-thought. “Hang A Picture” is more Castlemania than Carrion, thanks to that acoustic guitar that Dwyer likes to bring out on record sometimes. It’s also easy to get lost in the sea of instrumentation. You might miss some horns if you aren’t paying attention. The fuzz sounds like a synthesizer, maybe it is, maybe it is.  “So Nice” is a stand-out track for me. “Remember a day when fat kids got high? A light twisted sky enlightening me.” With a Velvet Underground styling (eastern influence and all — is that a viola?), this song marches along, sounding much briefer than its near 4 minutes. Ya wouldn’t know this on record though with “Cloud #1” serving as a continuation/instrumental. “Flood’s New Light” – which has just made the online media rounds, receiving very high praise – seems to channel the supreme energies that resulted in Help, the 2009 release that had some “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba” hooks to its own credit! You might even stop and think, ‘wait is that King Khan and the Shrines?’ at the beginning. I did. By “Putrifiers II,” Dwyer’s talent becomes abundantly clear. He makes some strange music (with some strange titles and some strange album art), but can so easily craft an identifiable pop gem, which I’d say this title track is. The flute and saxophone parts toward the close of the track are superb additions and slightly surprising – I wasn’t sure if Dwyer would break out into a full-out jam or some experimentally savvy finish or something of that nature. “Will We Be Scared” has me thinking Atlas Sound in more ways than one: 1) vocals (namely!) and 2) that old timer chord progression. Still, though, “Will” is distinctively Oh Sees, credit some extra psychedelic moments and choice picking. If I could see the band perform any of these Putrifiers II live, I’d bet “Lupine Dominus” would be one of them. It’s as ‘complete’ as they come on this record. It surprises me when it ends. “Goodbye Baby” is an odd-duck, culled from a long line of brief ’60s pop songs. “Wicked Park” is much the same way, but is just about a perfect closer. That acoustic guitar makes a comeback and for me I imagine Dwyer just strumming along on someone’s abandoned back porch. Just fun loving stuff that might serve as a nightcap to bizarre entertainment. With Putrifiers II, I feel like there will be a new breed of listeners that are just starting to get into Thee Oh Sees, perhaps because they caught them live after going to a show with a friend or saw the name on some high capacity music site. I sure hope they take this album for what it is — a few left and right turns within a familiar framework of past work. Great, awesome, cool, whatever, I feel it’s necessary to end this review with the mindset of how it started. What will #15 sound like? Not that it matters because I sense this will be getting many spins throughout the fall.

Top Three Tracks:
(1) Putrifiers II
(2) Will We Be Scared
(3) Flood’s New Light

Album Review: “Heaven” (The Walkmen)


Release:
5/2012
Label: Fat Possum

Comments: I love A Hundred Miles Off. There, I said it! The band hates it. The critics looked at it unfavorably. Fans don’t really mention it among their Walkmen favorites. What does that have to do with Heaven? Well, A Hundred for me is a fun variety of spirited tunes — the garage/punk influenced “Lost In Boston” and “Tenley Town,” the Everyone Who era “All Hands and the Cook,” the unforgettable horns in “Louisiana”. So on and so forth. 2008’s You and Me was outstanding as well, but it sure did mark a shift in the band’s sound. A lasting shift. Heaven emotionally feels like a continuation of the vibes of Lisbon. You can tell who was behind the boards for Heaven – that would be Phil Ek, who has gotten involved with some higher profile ‘indie’ bands like Fleet Foxes and Modest Mouse. The rampant “oh-oh-woah-oh-oh” on Heaven sound less like something Hamilton would think of on his own and more of an Ek thing. I hate those. BUT one of the benefits of “oh-oh-woah-oh-oh” is the fact that (most of) the songs that don’t have a part like that stand out. I will say that I’ll forgive it on “The Witch,” which additionally has a remarkable bass line and some eery clanging. Songs like “Heartbreaker” (great guitar playing and tempo), “Heaven” (minus the extensive oh-oh-woah-oh-oh) and “The Love You Love” feel the most complete to a dude like me who prefers faster stuff. I’d say these three songs in particular might be better than anything from Lisbon. That’s a good record, but not something I could consistently find myself getting into. I think some other people might feel this way. It seems sort of useless to shit on the real slow songs because they do in fact have some worth. The guitar picking in “Line By Line” really draws me in and makes me wonder how the song will turn out. The instrumental minimalism is outstanding. And yes, I can see where people prefer similar minimalist-esque numbers like “We Can’t Be Beat” and “Southern Heart,” but at this stage it’s hard to keep going back to those. The mid-tempo stuff is more pleasing. There are little critiques here and there. “Song For Leigh” has a cool chorus, but I feel like they could have it taken it a few steps further instead of diving right back into the verses. I think these guys had a pretty good idea of what they wanted to include on this record — a few big rockers, some mid-tempo jaunts, and a handful of slow songs. Perhaps the production role that Ek played wasn’t as important as I’ve made it seem, but it seems like in the recent past they’ve left more of an impression without the aid of a larger name helping out. Take You & Me. Practically every song on that record is memorable and inviting from the get-go. With Heaven, I think there is some potential for it to have a lasting impact, but as a young, long-time Walkmen fan it’s rather difficult to embrace the band’s current direction with respect to previous releases. They’re older, they have kids and frankly maybe the thought of another You & Me ‘grandiose’ album or another hard-hitting Bows + Arrows type of work just is not something they want to embrace at this stage. To each his own. I’ll always have a soft spot for The Walkmen being one of my favorite bands from a time when I really started to get into music. I’m not one to shit on a favorite after a lack-luster release or two and certainly Heaven isn’t one of those in the traditional sense. Here’s to hoping it grows on me some more and even if it doesn’t I’ll always keep a focused eye on what these guys are up to next. They’re just one of those bands.

Review: Best Coast – “The Only Place” (2012)


Band:
Best Coast
Release: 5/2012
Label: Mexican Summer

Comments: Best Coast has been on the KLYAM radar for a couple of years now. Time flies, but it doesn’t seem like 2010 was all that long ago. That Art Fag 7″ was packed to its three song core in terms of really distorted sounding pop. Good stuff. Crazy For You was pretty impressive; it neatly worked around its cliche lyrics and repetitive arrangements. So even though a lot of it sounded the same, a lot managed to sound different. With the The Only Place, things start off on a weird note. The same titled debut single is quite catchy, although it is a bit more of a showcase of the new producer. It never manages to be boring. “Why I Cry” isn’t too far off from the previous track musically with its relatively ‘big’ chorus and right-back-at-ya amount of hooks. “Last Year” tells us what the Vivian Girls did four years prior: “I believe in nothing”. On production display here is what producer Jon Brion might have had in mind for Bobb Bruno, which is to offer assaults of lead guitar that capture the listeners attention. “My Life” has its own fair share of nooks and crannies, like a violin (or something of that nature) and an acoustic guitar.  “No One Like You” has Bethany’s fine voice on display, that damn acoustic guitar, and the words “crazy” and “girl”. It sounds like an oldie, but goodie — country/early rock and roll style. The song that really caught my attention though is the next one, “How They Want Me To Be”. Mainly because of the lyrics. Who is ‘they’? And I thought this about the media or her mom up until ‘you’ came in. I should’ve known! Anyway, this slow ballad is catchy you have to admit. It’s not something you’d want to listen to over and over, but I mean there’s a shit load of extra vocals, glockenspiel, sleigh bells, and guitars that you just don’t usually get from your usual Best Coast song. “Better Girl” has Bethany recalling the “no fun”  line that was popularized by her dude Wavves. The song is forgettable, but serves as a bridge to the next, “Do You Still Love,” which uses the bass as a propelling force. The ending is cool and must have felt pretty good to create in the studio. “Dreaming My Life Away” is a change of pace on this record (it was re-recorded after initially being released a couple of years ago). Some have noted its jazz — the organ and drumming can be thanked. Not my cup of tea as you might expect, but in context it is interesting. And I guess that’s kind of the thing here. In context, everything seems interesting. It is a lot like Crazy For You, but you’d be bold to say this could exist without Bethany starting to ‘settle down’ or having Brion kicking around. “Let’s Go Home” brings us back to “The Only Place” in many ways, or – if you are a cynic – to that ridiculously annoying Magnetic Zeros song “Home”. To end the album is “Up All Night,” which boils down to a new age 8th grade final dance slow song. No wonder to choose a prominent sounding organ and some “ooohhhs”. To call this a wrap, here’s what I think happened on this LP: Best Coast still wanted to sound like Best Coast, but with more tightness, a little less originality, and bunch more appeal. I don’t really see this as a win or a loss for the band or its fans. From what I’ve read so far, it might be all too easy to shit on or all too easy to call an improvement over Crazy For You. I can’t picture a new wave of young adult girls latching on to this as some kind of ‘indie’ answer to Taylor Swift or acoustic Katy Perry. Not out of the question, though.

LP Review: “Hair” (Ty Segall and White Fence)

Release Date: 4-24-2012
Label: Drag City

Comments: The way to underground rock and roll stardom can be confusing sometimes. Not to mention that there isn’t much ‘star’ in the kingdom of balls out rock and roll. And nobody really cares. Ty Segall has been well on his way to worldwide recognition for a few years now but it has only been in the past two years that this is becoming more and more evident to people besides his Goner devotees and his West Coast pals and supporters. Another thing worth mentioning early on is that this isn’t solely a Ty affair. So starting off a review like I just did might have been more suitable for Goodbye Bread, but let me continue. Tim Presley of White Fence has been on a colossal pace in terms of releasing new material. Is it only in San Francisco where the self-proclaimed rock and roll warriors roam? Thee Oh Sees, Mikal Cronin, and now these two guys. Releasing stuff at a pace that would cause Jay Reatard to maybe even raise an eyebrow. Collaborations are rampant in the Bay Area as well. You knew that. That leaves us to Hair. Listening to this album from the get-go, it’s hard to not imagine the fun these guys had during this process. They create a pretty distinct setting on this record, which is near the geographic center of Ty’s most psychedelic Goodbye Bread stuff and White Fence’s are-you-sure-this-is-not-an-old-recording-of-’60s psych- stuff. Besides the rush of charged guitar solos and full-on drum bashing, this album isn’t totally different from say the Grateful Dead. Maybe I’m wrong, and there are only a couple examples (“Time”, “The Black Glove/Rag”) of this. Or whatever. “Crybaby” is the most concise example of rock and roll fever that I’ve heard from Segall since Bread. It’s incredible refreshing. There comes a point, too, listening to this record where you just have to wonder: what if rock ‘n roll was as popular as hip-hop and electro-pop? Not to turn this into a Nirvana kind of thing…I wasn’t around then (or at least not in the form of a capable, developed being) so to even ponder something like this is incredibly exciting. And yes I know Ty AND White Fence played on this record. It’s scary the talent that’s out there. Then there will be people who want to themselves Ty, they want their White Fence, their Oh Sees. Those days are over. Is that a bad thing? Ty and Tim have such a handle on things, that they can effortlessly fuck around with the left-right channels to make it sound like you are surfing through a TV set that only plays real RnR stations. An incredible TV set that is. That song is “Scissor People,” by the way. By the end of “Tongues,” all I’m left with is the sentiment of damn. This record is more of a statement than a batch of fun-loving ditties a la Matador Singles ’08 or Arabia Mountain, to name a couple. It’s a statement that things can be subtle and low-key or things can be brash and in your face. It’s all good! The un-expected ending of “Time” is case and point. It seems like most of the greats get around to realizing this — looking at you Jay. Another thing is that Hair probably didn’t take much thought. Not the little organ part at the end of “I Am Not A Game”, not the increasing chaos of the other two guitars. It’s crazy to think. I wasn’t the biggest “I Am Not A Game” fan when it was first released to the general public, but listening to it in context can really change things. “Easy Ryder” is like revisiting Melted, but with a new perspective on lead guitars and the guitar solo construct in general. Is that not amazing? Hair is insane. A KLYAMer would be crazy to not check this out. Hope you speak as highly of this as I do!

Grade: A/A+

“Easy Ryder”