Recently in Best of Category

Bright Little Field and Kissaway Trail

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This one has been out since last September "Treatment Bound: A Ukelele Tribute To The Replacements" by Bright-Little-Field on Bar/None is definitely worth a listen, or ten. So how good were the Replacements? Well, their songs never sounded better being played with just ukes and various percussion items - no guitars, no bass, no keyboards, no problem. All these songs would also work as reggae songs, punk songs, folk songs and so on. "Swinging Party" is my new favorite song this week.

Our Nature and 50 Sticks

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The fourth release from Savoir Adore is "Our Nature" and it's been out for about a month on Nettwerk Productions. Traveling light, this is a "fantasy pop" duo out of NYC - Paul Hammer and Deidre Muro and their friends, a bunch of machines. It's all interchangeably wimpy and weak but it might cause the listener to fixate on '80s BritPop videos, spend an inordinate time in front of the mirror trying to will yourself cute and fight the urge to go to the mall and buy hip threads you neither can afford nor need. Take a couple of hits of Kajagoogoo and the Human League and then, wake up to Yacht - and you'll be fine.

Scout Houndmouth

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The debut from Houndmouth is a keeper - that would be "From The Hills Below The City" and it's on Rough Trade Records. Unlike most hound mouths that smell bad and are dripping slobber, this one is worth it alone for the country rock anthem, "Penitentiary," an ode to those that are serious about being stupid and screwing up and have demonstrated sufficient consistency to allow their great state to pay their rent for their vacation with a bunch of like-minded men. 

Once upon a time a folk rock duo consisting of Katie Toupin and Matt Myers, but now expanded to a quartet, Houndmouth is a ragged and righteous Indiana country rock party band, now and again fixated on the love stinks affairs of the broken heart in the same vein as the Bottle Rockets, Water Liars, Shovels and Rope and others palatable to the rockers. This is quite possibly a Top Ten finisher for 2013.

Night Singer ideals, Shah Nadine haunts

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ericandmacgill.jpg"Night Singer" is the second album from "Eric & Magill" and it's on Perfect From Now On records and it's an advance due out 23 July. 

Their real names are actually Eric Osterman and Ryan Weber (why ask why?) and it's shoegazer techno pop that could be 2 a.m. getting lucky music or else inspirational to punks checking the Yellow Pages under RPG. 

Each guy has been in a bunch of bands in a number of places - Weber did his fair share recording while a member of the Peace Corps from Kenya, trying to undo the ill will from rampaging corporate America. 

If you close your eyes, you could imagine two impeccably dressed gents surrounded by ladies who could not be improved upon even in Hugh Hefner's dreams or MTV in 1986 and that's just the second song, "Baggage And Clothes."

Already more popular than any shah of the Pahlavi dynasty that had Iran on the road to ruin before the CIA and the ayatollahs completed the job, is Nadine Shah - and gotta appreciate the title of her debut album, "Love Your Dum And Mad," due out the third week of July on P&C Apollo Records. 

Sad, surly and semi-strident music and vocals somehow add up to a compelling mix of freak rock - a live show Dexter might choose for date night as he tries to get Lizzy Borden drunk. 

Shah has a Pakistani dad and a Norwegian mom - proof positive that everyone is making out with everyone else, so in a hundred or so years (if we don't kill the planet first) we'll all look the same and racism will just be a quaint idiocy from the bad ol' daze. 

The poster gal for European artiste, Shah was raised in England, stoked extra by Julie London and Billie Holiday, as she moans and groans on tunes such as "Dreary Town," "The Devil" and "Used To It All." Getting the picture? Shah is no barrel of laughs - and doesn't intend to be on these haunting hymns to the hopeless.

1975 shows, Camera Obscura wanted

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1975_n.pngNext up is a 5-song EP from The 1975 and it's "IV" and this one is on Vagrant Records. The 1975 is an ascendant and solid BritPop band out of Manchester, while back in 1975, the Sex Pistols and the Talking Heads first played and everyone was still mad at President Ford for pardoning the Nix even as the war in Vietnam was finally over, except in Hollywood. 

When your MTV rock star dreams finally inspire you to that "Hey - let's start a band!" moment, having a capable frontman like Matthew Healy is always a good first step. The single "Sex" is another good move - the repetitive, but mighty convincing chorus, "...they all got boyfriends anyway," definitely is true most of the time - but not always. 

Pure power pop, lushly produced and smartly done is always a good thing despite the calendar and Republicans longing for 1955, or is it 1855?

Vampires eat too

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First up is the new one perfectly suited to the vast fan base of "True Blood," which of course, would be Vampire Weekend whose latest is "Modern Vampires of the City" and it's on XL Recordings

Ivy League rockers out of Columbia, this is their third album, offering further proof that these guys are going to be around for a while - it always helps to have a world class frontman like Ezra Koenig who can probably outsing Walter (and almost everybody else). 

Once upon a time, this used to be called art rock - smart and savvy and baroque, coming atcha from all angles. "Diane Young" is one of the first singles and changes gears more times that a driver training class. Talented guys showing off always makes for a good time but might only rate a wide-eyed shrug in Bonton but they're just a bunch of rednecks with night sweats.

Pam Taylor Band and Moon Hooch

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Moon Hooch has a new one, it's self-titled and it's on Hornblow, which is apt description of what's in store. 
This one could be the soundtrack for a college fraternity prank during which the victim is blind folded in a dark room full of ducks and keeps stepping on them, no fun for our fine feathered friends. 

Moon Hooch offers a bunch of sax-crazed instrumentals which would also fit right in as the background music in some smoky jazz club in a 60-year-old film noir black and white B-movie. 

It becomes quickly repetitious and tedious, unlike Daffy and Donald.

Dead Puppy, Ron D.

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To any self-respecting cat, the only band more popular than Skinny Puppy would be Dead Puppy. These emaciated doggies have a new one - "Weapon," just out on Metropolis Records. Imagine the Predator slumming with a side project at the Sunday afternoon jam session. These slightly reptilian, slightly menacing growling vocals don't do much for me.

Ron D. is a sax player and the album is "Ron Dziubla's Nasty Habit" and it's on Rip Cat Records. The importance of the sax goes back to the early days of rock 'n' roll and all those great Lee Allen solos, and specifically Gene Barge on "Quarter to Three," whoever it was on "Bust Out" by the Busters" and Mickey Kipler of the Rockin Rebels on "Wild Weekend" or anything by Saxa with the English Beat - all sterling examples of the sax as an able substitute for the guitar. Dziubla obviously is a studly player but how well he is suited to be The Man as opposed to being the sideman is the issue here. These instrumentals that are fine, but as a stand alone rock? Probably not.

Rose Windows, Rod Stewart

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The debut from Rose Windows is "The Sun Dogs" and it's another home run for Sub Pop Records. This might be one of the Top Five albums of 2013 as these seven folks create psychedelic stoner pop sure to satisfy those that can't take their peepers off their shoes or else miss the Dead or Phish and/or smoked their lunch. As guitar player Chris Cheveyo so astutely noted, it's all about "the everyday blues that capitalism and its hit man, religion, bring on all of us." The second tune, "Native Dreams," is a symphonic, Middle Eastern, World Beat jam session smartly done with a great guitar solo by Cheveyo and the high pitched and perfect vocals of Rabia Shaheen Qazi. Never destined to be back ground music in the study hall in Slitherin, "Season of Serpents" is another trippy one, as is "The Shroud," out there to "Season of the Witch" dimensions of dopey dementia. But the best one is last, "The Sun Dogs II: Coda," which could've been a fitting companion to "The Gospel" by the Dandy Warhols, or something from the coolest church in a month of Sundays.

Rod Stewart is back with his first new album is 15 years, "Time," which is on Capitol Records. Evidently, Stewart has been keeping busy getting drunk and chasing women - good work if you can get it. Whatever. Stewart has always sounded like Donald Duck underwater to me and nothing he does or has done interests me at all. Stewart is in my Bottom Five and as to water fowl, I was always a Daffy sort of dude.

Isles, energy in youth

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WildBelle_Isles13.jpgThe debut from Wild Belle is "Isles" and it's on Columbia Records

Wild Belle is what can happen when siblings actually get along - and here we have Natalie and Elliott Bergman - he's the hippie dude and she's not. This is pretty much, a showcase for the vocals of Natalie who has this original but oddball, nasal tone which is fine, but unfortunately, too many of the songs don't go anywhere. 

There's a vague reggae undertone on the first few tunes and "Another Girl" could be the hoped for hit and also a compelling reason why this one could've been a solid EP.


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Willy-Moon0.png"Here's Willy Moon" is the debut from Willy Moon and it's also on mighty, mighty Interscope.

First of all, the True Blue will remember Wally Moon, a Dodger from the Coliseum daze when his famous inside out swing resulted in his famous "Moon Shots" over the left field screen - at one point in 1959, Moon had 10 homers when the next nearest guy had two. 

That was, of course, way before Willy, this retro futurist, was even born. The new Moon seems to be channeling Frank Sinatra, Chris Isaak and Harry Connick but he makes these tunes his own and his reverential covers of the Blasters"'Shakin"' and "Screamin' Jay" Hawkins"'I Put A Spell On You," are both outstanding. This is becoming an unfortunate and recurring theme - I just got the CD and figured out who Moon is - a few days after he played in Santa Barbara. 

Next time - and there will be a next time as this Moon will be hanging around for the foreseeable future.

Take a turn with Frank, and an Eye to the unknown

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frankturner_tapedeck.jpgThe latest from Frank Turner is "Tape Deck Heart" and it's on mighty, mighty Interscope. Live wire English folkie with some punk power in there, Turner is a rapid fire motor mouth mindbender - clearly a Type A personality whose brain is way ahead of his mouth. "Recovery" is the album kick-off and it'll make you a fan right off, as he combines the emotion of Rhett Miller, the energy of Hammel On Trial and the subtlety of a cannonball - all of which will probably have you scrambling to check out Turner's prior four albums. He drops the f-bomb now and again but not with impunity but surgically and for effect, especially on "Good And Gone," as he just can't seem to get Miss Take out of his neurons at the most inopportune moments. "God dammit Amy..." is the attention-getting intro to "Tell Tale Signs." Just insert the name of he/she who makes you miserable. Frank has the talent to the level that Ted has the dough.

Noodle for nothing

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Eddie Spaghetti rocks as hard as that red sauce does when it's barreling through you - the useless eater - on his latest, "The Value Of Nothing," memorably illustrated with a great cover cartoon by Jessie Daly. It's just out on Bloodshot

So you're already the frontman of "The Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World," that would be the Supersuckers (or so they say), so how do you top that? 

Solo album. It's in your face politically incorrect (and pretty funny) country rock that rocks to the point where you're subconsciously reaching for a beer and digging for the appropriate lie to tell that temporarily significant other lurking at the bar. The incendiary guitar solos from Jesse Dayton are a plus.

No free candy, Fitz fizzes

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subpopsilverticket.jpg"The Silver Ticket" is a compilation album from Sub Pop featuring a bunch of their artists doing 19 songs. Sub Pop, out of Seattle, is one of the three coolest indie labels out there along with Merge and Matador. 

This is a celebration of Sub Pop's 25 years of great music - and they make that annoying cliche come alive, "something for everyone." 

I like the Ruby Suns, fronted by Ryan McPhun out of Ventura, and the shoegazer/stoner pop stuff by Low and Still Corners and my new favorite Sub Pop band, the Baptist Generals. King Tuff is a gritty garage band rocker and Father John Misty scores with his tune but my favorite is the catchy "Lite Me Up" by Daughn Gibson

Every act gets one song, so it's over before you get tired of it, or in the case of Gibson, keep the "repeat" button within reach.

Six pack and a show

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bigpaptcb_.jpgBig Papa And The TCB have a new one, "Six Pack Of Cool" on Inland Blue Records

Probably the coolest band ever out of Redlands - it's old school blues with the trumpet player going overboard sometimes, and the jazzy guitar solos on tunes such "Crazy 'Bout The Girl," don't work for me. 

Then again, there's a swell description of the latest new low in the making, "Drink, Drank, Drunk." There's plenty of reasons to get the blues in the Inland Empire, the heat, the smog, the traffic - Big Papa can make all that go away temporarily.
Rockin' Roll Call
Bill Locey reviews music for the Ventura County Star, when he isn't reenacting the history of this great nation or teaching it to incarcerated youth.
He is the tall guy lurking in the back of all the local rock shows.
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