Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ruff Talons -- CRUSHED

A few weeks ago, when I first heard this album, I would have said something like "It's like Sleater-Kinney rising from the ashes!"

Except that happened. (Oh, and guess who has tickets for one of their FEW US dates? Me. And guess who did a bizarre little happy dance to the amusement and bemusement of the students hanging out in my room when I managed to buy them? Probably somebody else too but also me.)

So this is pretty much anything you could ask for in a punk rock album: fun, spunky, energetic, catchy. These guys are Canadian but maybe they'll venture south of the border soon.

Ruff Talons -- Bandcamp

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Modern Folk -- American Mountain

j moss is doing a really cool thing over at In case you haven't checked out the site, moss posts any and all submissions as long as the artists is independent. In other words, he's way less selective than I am but always posts consistently great music. moss makes music of his own, as well. Here's some more of his bedroom folk.

Most of the songs on this album are traditional, though you'd be hard pressed to tell which is which (except for the last track, "Nightmares," which has more of a garage rock feel.) My personal favorite is "The Mountain." While it's not exactly my favorite song to listen to, it's definitely the most interesting on this album: moss combines his fascination with traditional music and minimalist shoegaze to astounding effect. American Mountain is a cool artifact of indie music and the directions Americana music has been expanding into. That is, after all, what moss's blog is all about.

The Modern Folk -- Blog, Facebook, Bandcamp

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NQ Arbuckle -- The Future Happens Anyway

If M. Lockwood Porter made me decide to breakup with my most recent person, then NQ Arbuckle's the one who planted the seed of the idea. (So thanks or maybe not? But actually, thanks.)

I almost didn't write the review. This album is damnably hard to find online through legal channels. It's not that I didn't want to buy it -- I just wasn't sure how I could get sample tracks up here. But when I finally got my ears on it, I fell incontrovertibly in love (perhaps there's only room in my heart for girls or sad songs) and knew that you, dear reader, needed to fall in love, too. Arbuckle's warm earthiness will tug at your heart strings whether you're feeling contemplative, sad, or thrilled to be alive.

Overall, though, The Future Happens Anyway has melancholy in spades (as if you couldn't tell from the title.) The opening track, "Gravity," encapsulates the rest of the album: Arbuckle's warm, earthy voice envelopes you in familiar country rock chord progressions and astute, literary songwriting. "Hospitals" became my favorite song on the album -- if it's about what I think it's about, it echoes exactly what I wanted to say to a friend of mine recently but couldn't find the words for. More importantly, it's an unabashed celebration of live in an album that's mostly about its little disappointments. It's the anthem you should have on your permanent playlist.

As for the song that made me think about breaking it off? That was "Hot Shot":

I think of you like fire
You're a patio smoker [what is that?]
You're hotter than laughter
You're all that I fear
And everything I'm after

Seems to me like if you're with someone whom you don't feel that way about (or they don't feel that way about you), it's time to queue up "I Know You're Gonna Leave Me"

NQ Arbuckle -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Six Shooter Records

Monday, October 27, 2014

Michael Leonard Witham -- A Scandal in the Violets

I'm finally back and hopefully I won't have to see the inside of another hospital for a good, long time.

I've been sitting on my hands to tell you about Michael Leonard Witham's debut since I first listened to in August. A Scandal in the Violets is the kind of album that made me want to write this blog in the first place.

Witham's voice and songwriting style is reminiscent of Michah Schnabel's solo work ("Sorry Girl But the Show is Over" could easily have come from his pen.) However, Witham is a rougher around the edges than Schnabel, which is not a bad thing. Instead of drawing self-conscious inspiration from other literary works, Witham's songwriting is much more direct -- which is to say, it's gut-punchingly honest.

Comparisons aside, though, Witham absolutely stands on his own. This is folk punk at its best, stately music and rough-hewn themes, simple melodies and vivid lyrics. This is the magical sweet spot so many (and believe me, there are many) strive for but never quite achieve. Witham's got staying power and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Michael Leonard Witham -- Official, Facebook, Purchase

Friday, October 24, 2014

VIDEO: "Mexico" -- Emily Mure

And in what is hopefully the last of my video odyssey for a while, here's Emily Mure's enchanting cover of Cake's "Mexico":

Emily Mure -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blog Alert: Chicago Acoustic Underground

Due to some real life stuff, I haven't had a chance to write a review in a while. While you're waiting, check out Chicago Acoustic Underground. They offer a vast array of some of Chicago's finest singer-songwriters. This week, they're featuring Mendeleyev.

Chicago Acoustic Underground -- Official

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

VIDEO: Common Shiner -- Social Mediasochist

I'm back from the dead! And just in time to give you Common Shiner's latest Halloween-appropriate teen slasher romantic comedy video.

I fell in love with Common Shiner's first album a about a year ago. At the time, I said they were easy on the ears but way too smart to sell out. "Social Mediasochist" is on that debut album. The video proves the band's ethos -- gentle, self-aware, and damn funny. If you like what you hear, check out their work below.

Common Shiner -- Bandcamp, Facebook, Free EP on Noisetrade