Shopping – The Official Body

Are you shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts?  Do you need something for your lover who hates everything played on commercial radio, or your husband who loves 80’s music, or your wife who enjoys funk and dance rock, or yourself?   Let me save you some time: Buy them The Official Body by Shopping.

Consisting of just three members (Rachel Aggs – guitar and vocals, Billy Easter – bass and vocals, Andrew Milk – drums and vocals), Shopping’s third full-length is the grooviest post-punk album I’ve heard all year.  The opener, “The Hype” (which you’d better believe with this band), begins with a Bow Wow Wow-like drum count before the three of them put down a groove that instantly gets you moving.  I love their vocals bounce off each other like they took lessons from the B-52’s.

“Wild Child” (a song about keeping up appearances) continues the dance grooves (and Easter’s killer bass work), but brings in some subtle synths into the mix.  The use of synths is frequent throughout the record and brings even more of a dance-punk feel to the album.  Aggs’ guitar on “Asking for a Friend” is bouncy and tight, which is difficult to pull off, but she seems to do it with ease.  “Suddenly Gone” is a sharp song about Aggs’ struggles of being black and queer in an industry dominated by straight white dudes.

Milk sings about losing one’s sense of self  on “Shave Your Head” while Aggs’ guitar chatters over his typewriter-like beats.  The synth bass on “Discover” is a bit jarring at first, but I love the darkness it brings to a song about being desperate for attention.  “Control Yourself,” despite its title, will get your toes tapping before you realize it (thanks in large part to Milk’s wicked beat).  I also love the chorus of “I know what I like, and I like what I know.”  It sums up the (closed) mindset of many these days.

Aggs’ guitar work on “My Dad’s a Dancer” is a bit Middle Eastern and her vocals about bigotry (i.e., “Would you like me if I looked like you?”) are sharp as a knife.  “New Values” begins with synth bass that reminds me of weird 1990’s 16-bit video games, but Easter’s vocals are solidly in the modern world.  “Overtime” seamlessly blends the synths and the traditional instruments as it builds in tempo toward an exhilarating finish to the record.

I’ve been on a post-punk kick all year, and The Official Body is a great kick-off to 2018 for me and the genre.  Don’t let it slip by you.

Keep your mind open.

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Terminal Mind – Recordings

Austin, Texas punk / no wave legends Terminal Mind only blazed through the Austin scene for three years (1978 – 1981), but they are back with a powerful release of rare cuts from their short time together.  Recordings collects a rare four-song 7″, live cuts, and unreleased studio tracks.  It’s a solid collection and already in the running for best reissue of 2018.

Opening with the skronky, bold “I Want to Die Young,” the band’s powerhook guitars are put front and center right away.  “I see life as a TV at midnight, nothing but static and outdated reruns,” Steve Marsh sings as he dreams of becoming something better than he is now before he gets old and waits for a heart attack.

“Refugee” has Marsh continuing his themes of alienation as he sings, “In a war, there are winners and losers.  I’m in-between.”  The post-punk attitude of “Sense of Rhythm” is sharp as a hatchet (and so is the drumming).  “Zombieland” sounds like an early Devo cut as Marsh sings about the joys of “living in negative space” and ignoring the suffering and injustice around you.  The guitars on it devolve into a wild cacophony that almost sounds like air raid sirens by the end.

“Obsessed with Crime” has a raw energy not unlike something you’d hear from the Stooges.  Terminal Mind once opened for them, so the influence shouldn’t surprise anyone.  The guitars and bass on “Fear in the Future” are downright dangerous.  Marsh growls “Time is a trigger, I hold it in my hand.  I point it at the future.  I think you understand.”

The live tracks begin with the snappy “Radioactive,” in which Marsh sings about hoping to have super powers so he can survive a nuclear war and watch everything burn around him.  The equally speedy “Bridges Are for Burning” follows it.

“No one wants to know the meaning of life anymore,” Marsh sings on the angry “(I Give Up on) Human Rights.”  “Black” is like Joy Division if they decided to speed up the beats and crank up the distortion.  You can almost feeling the audience grooving during “Missing Pieces.”  The keyboards on “Bureaucracy” slather the song in a glorious, distorted noise that ends the album on a high, post-punk note.

Three years was too short for a band this good, but at least we have this reissue to remember Terminal Mind.  Let’s hope for some new material in the future.  I’d love to hear their take on modern times.

Keep your mind open.

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Top 30 albums of 2017: #’s 5 – 1

Happy New Year!  What were the best albums of last year?  Well, these topped the list for me.

#5 – Blanck Mass – World Eater

The somewhat startling cover is a warning for a powerful, teeth-baring electro record that somehow catches all the chaos this year displayed.  There was a lot of early buzz about this record upon its release, and for good reason.  It’s a stunning piece of synthwave, dark wave, and psychedelic fever dreams.

#4 – All Them Witches – Sleeping Through the War

This psychedelic blues-rock was pretty much a lock for my favorite rock record of the year as soon as I heard it.  ATW brew up haunting tracks that range in subjects from being stuck in purgatory to internet addiction (which are pretty much the same thing).

#3 – LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

Their reunion was possibly the most anticipated of the year, and they proved they hadn’t lost a thing on this great record.  Front man James Murphy‘s lyrics are as searing as ever as he confronts aging, love, social media, partying, and Millennials.  One of the singles, “Tonite” (one of my favorites of the year) is a great example.  It’s a song about songs, but it’s also about the fears and joys of aging.

#2 – WALL – Untitled

This is a bittersweet choice because one of the best post-punk records, and best records in any genre, of the year is by a band who broke up before it was released or even named.  WALL‘s only full-length record is shrouded in mysterious lyrics about the current political landscape and the band itself.  It’s also full of sharp guitar hooks and sass that is sorely missed.  Consider yourself blessed if you caught one of their too few live shows.

#1 – Kelly Lee Owens – self-titled

I read a review of this album that described it as “a breath of fresh air.”  I’m not sure I can beat that description because this stunning debut is the most beautiful record I heard all year.  Ms. Owens’ synth soundscapes immediately seem to lighten gravity around you.  It’s a tonic for the toxic atmosphere we’re living in right now (both in the real world and in the one that blitzes us from cyberspace every day).  If 2017 got you down, listen to this album today and you will have a much better outlook on the year to come.

Keep your mind open.

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Top 30 albums of 2017: #’s 10 – 6

It’s my top 10 of the year.  Who’s here?  Read on for the first five.

#10 – Sleaford Mods – English Tapas

Bold, brash, and at times brutal, this is a punk rock album disguised as a hip hop record.  The minimalist beats get under your skin and the scathing lyrics stick it to the Man, ourselves, and everyone in-between.

#9 – Gary Numan – Savage (Songs from a Broken World)

This industrial powerhouse of a record was a great return for Gary Numan and a fantastic concept album (about life in a post-apocalyptic world) to boot.  It has some great riffs and Numan’s synth work is top-notch.  He shows no signs of slowing or aging.

#8 – Soulwax – From Deewee

Recorded beginning to end in just one take, this amazing record combines three drummers with four other people playing vintage synthesizers, drum machines, and sequencers.  It’s an impressive piece of work and it produced one of my favorite singles of the year – “Missing Wires.”

#7 – Honey – New Moody Judy

I picked up this album after hearing just one song from it, “Dream Come Now (another one of my favorite songs of 2017),” and was astounded by the rest of the record.  It’s fierce and chock-full of garage-punk riffs that flatten nearly everything else I’ve heard this year.

#6 – Slowdive – self-titled

This is one of the most beautiful records of the year and marked a big return for not only Slowdive but also the entire shoegaze genre.  Everyone wondered how this record would sound once Slowdive announced their reunion, and it exceeded everyone’s expectation.  It’s easily the best shoegaze release of 2017.

Who makes the top five?  Tune in on New Year’s Day to find out!

Keep your mind open.

[It’s not too late to subscribe this year.]

Top 30 albums of 2017: #’s 20 – 16

It’s top twenty time!

#20 – Brother O’ Brother – Neon Native

I’m happy to include some “local” (as in from the same state as I) cats on my list of top albums of the year.  This is a blistering garage-blues record that further proves you don’t need a lot of fancy gadgets and studio trickery to make hard-hitting rock.  They’re one of my favorite discoveries of the year.

#19 – The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions

This album is one of the best reactions to the year in politics that was 2017.  Band leader Carl Newman has openly spoken about how the 2016 election and his battle with depression formed a lot of the songs on this record, but it’s not all doom and gloom.  There’s a lot of hope on this fine power pop album, and we all need a lot of that right now.

#18 – Thundercat – Drunk

I didn’t expect to pick up a jazz fusion record this year, but this one is certainly outstanding and was all over the place in 2017.  It made the top of many lists, too, and for good reason.  It’s an incredible concept album about the day in the life of a guy who parties too much and knows he’ll probably regret it later.  It’s the closest we’ll get to a Frank Zappa album any time soon.

#17 – Priests – Nothing Feels Natural

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got on a big post-punk kick this year and albums like this are the reason why.  It’s a vicious takedown on corporate bigwigs, consumerism, and greed, and the music is sharp as a hatchet.

#16 – The Black Angels – Death Song

If you know me, then you’re not surprised that a Black Angels record made my top 30.  They’re one of my favorite bands, and this album is one of their hardest-hitting in a long while.  It, too, is a bit of a reaction to the 2016 election and the country we’re now living in and seeing on the nightly news, but the Black Angels also let us know that all things are transient and this, too, will pass.

We’re halfway to home!  Who makes the cut?  Come back soon to find out.

Keep your mind open.

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Priests – Nothing Feels Natural

This album almost slipped by me in this crazy year of alternate facts and a lot of yelling. I’m glad I saw a recent article about it that reminded me to buy Priests‘ Nothing Feels Natural, because it’s a sharp post-punk record and one of the records 2017 needed most.

The album begins with drummer Daniele Daniele‘s urgent beats before lead singer Katie Alice Greer comes in with her vocal style that immediately grabs you by the throat.  Soon, guitarist G.L. Jaguar and bassist Taylor Mulitz are slapping you around and Greer is singing, “It feels good to buy what you can’t afford.”  She’s put her finger in the eye of American consumer culture in under two minutes.  On “JJ,” Jaguar unleashes some clever surf rock hooks and Greer’s vocals go from menacing to playful while the lyrics keep twisting a knife into the culture of artifice we’ve created.

“Nicki” has some goth touches (mostly in Jaguar’s guitar and Mulitz’s bass) that catch you off guard before it flattens you with hard shoegaze riffs.  “Yes, it’s true, I want more,” Greer sings.  She’s just as easily seduced by consumerism and always projecting a perfect image as the rest of us, but the power behind her vocals lets us know she’s fighting temptation.  “Lelia 20” offers us some of that strength as Greer sings, “Things could be much worse.”  Never forget that (and you won’t forget Daniele’s great drumming throughout the whole track).

“No Big Bang,” with vocals by Daniele, is about disappointment and shattered illusions.  “Your mind keeps running along the same narrow track of logic for what feels like forever…” is just one of the insightful lyrics in this near-spoken word piece.  The title track has some of Greer’s best vocals and saddest lyrics.  “Perhaps I will change into something,” she begins as the rest of the band puts down great riffs and beats behind her.  Jaguar’s guitar soars on this cut, taking it to another level.

“Pink White House” is the first song I ever heard by Priests.  It’s fiery, vicious, and yet completely danceable as Greer keeps chanting about “Anything you want.  Anything, anything!”  It’s a wake-up call to walk away from the temptations of a new SUV, mindless sitcoms, dwelling in nostalgia, and thinking money will solve everything.  “Kneel at the feet of programming…You are just a cog in a machine,” she warns.

“Puff” has Greer saying she wants to start a band called Burger King (Who used to have the slogan “Have it your way.”) and use it to make others’ dreams come true.  It is, of course, a slap in the face of people who look to the media to solve their problems and make up their minds.  I love that the album ends with a song called “Suck.”  It’s slick as oil (Daniele, Jaguar, and Mulitz fire on all cylinders throughout it) and has Greer singing, “Please don’t make me be someone with no sympathy.”  She wants to care, but sometimes people make it so damn hard.

2017 was like that.  It was hard to care, but Priests know we must.  We are all each other have.  Nothing Feels Natural, both in title and content, is a glass of cold water in our collective faces.  Wake up.  Snap out of it.  Preach on, Priests.

Keep your mind open.

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Shopping announces 2018 North American tour dates.

SHOPPING ANNOUNCE 2018 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR
IN SUPPORT OF THE OFFICIAL BODY

NEW ALBUM OUT JANUARY 19 ON FATCAT RECORDS

(photo credit: Matthew Williams)

“The Hype” is Shopping at its best: barbed invective set to a prickly, dancefloor-ready groove.” — Pitchfork

“one of Shopping’s loosest, funkiest songs to date. . . ‘The Hype’ is a great sign of things to come.” — NPR Music
Next month, Shopping are set to release their third full-length album, The Official Body, on January 19th via FatCat Records. The album sees Shopping — comprised of Rachel Aggs (guitar, vocals), Billy Easter (bass, vocals) and Andrew Milk (drums, vocals) — retaining their minimal dance-punk ethos while “amping up the party vibe.” Now they’ve announced they’ll bring the dance party on the road! In March, Shopping will head stateside for a North American tour taking them all across the US and Canada, including stops at both Savannah Stopoverand SXSW. The tour kicks off Thu. March 1st in Boston before heading down the east coast, across the southern states to the west coast, and back to the midwest. A full list of dates are below, with tickets on-sale now.

Watch Shopping’s “The Hype” Video – 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnAm6AphanY

Shopping Tour Dates:
Thu. March 1 — Boston, MA @ Great Scott *
Fri. March 2 — Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre *
Sat. March 3 — Brooklyn, NY @ Market Hotel *
Sun. March 4 — Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s *
Tue. March 6 — Washington, DC @ Union Stage *
Wed. March 7 — Asheville, NC @ Mothlight *
Thu. March 8 — Savannah, GA @ Savannah Stopover *
Fri. March 9 — Atlanta, GA @ 529 *
Sat. March 10 — New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa *
Sun. March 11 — Houston, TX @ Walter’s *
Tue. March 13 – Thu. March 15 — Austin, TX @ SXSW
Fri. March 16 — El Paso, TX @ Lowbrow Palace *
Sat. March 17 — Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge *
Sun. March 18  — San Diego, CA @ Whistle Stop *
Tue. March 20 — Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room *
Wed. March 21 — Los Angeles, CA @ Resident * #
Thu. March 22 — San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop #
Fri. March 23 — Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar #
Sat. March 24 — Seattle, WA @ Vera Project #
Tue. March 27 — Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Wed. March 28 — Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
Thu. March 29 — Detroit, MI @ Delux Fluxx
Fri. March 30 — Toronto, ON @ Baby G
Sat. March 31 — Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz

* = w/ French Vanilla
# = w/ Lithics

Pre-order The Official Body:
via Bandcamp – http://bit.ly/2kZQL6Z
via iTunes – http://apple.co/2iBSknm
via FatCat Shop – http://bit.ly/2C3DGO8

Caroline Rose’s new album out February 23, 2018, but her new single, “Money,” is out now.

Caroline Rose Announces LONER,
New Album Out February 23rd On New West, And Tour

Watch Video For Lead Single, “Money”
https://youtu.be/NcOPz7Kby1A

Photo credit: Matt Hogan
An obsession with money, an unfaithful lover, an accidental pregnancy, misogyny, loneliness, death… This is just some of the lighthearted subject matter that make up LONER––the darkly comedic second album from songwriter/producer Caroline Rose, out February 23rd via New West. Armed with an arsenal of new instruments and equipment, an ever-growing sense of “ahhh f**k it,” two years of exploration, and a wicked sense of humor, Rose delivers a set of serious songs wrapped in a sprightly, angst-fueled pop burrito. In conjunction with the album announcement, Rose presents lead single “Money” and its accompanying video, a collaboration between Rose and director Horatio Baltz in which Rose plays all the parts and reveals her infectious spirit from the get go. As she tells Noisey, it’s “a sort of manic, paranoid mini-story” about the “way money corrupts and changes people.”

LONER began about three years ago following the release of Rose’s indie-folk-rockabilly-tinged debut album, I Will Not Be Afraid, an album penned while living in a van and traveling the country, which garnered praise from the likes of NPR and Rolling Stone. It captures the cheeky satire, comical musings, and often jarring mood swings––sometimes goofy, sometimes emotional––that make up much of Rose’s personality and marks a significant leap forward both sonically and emotionally, unleashing a burgeoning confidence teeming with character. “I needed to get more personal, more aggressive, more humorous and more sonically diverse than my older material,” says Rose. “It just felt like a bubble inside me that had been growing and was about to pop.”

Over the next year and a half, after moving into an apartment, Rose dove deep into production. She started collecting synths and recording equipment and tracking her material, eventually choosing to co-produce alongside Paul Butler at Panoramic Studios in Stinson Beach, California and their respective home studios. Rose brought to the sessions pre-recorded work the two used as a foundation off which to build, having written and arranged strings, played and recorded keys, guitar and bass, sampled layers of found and recorded sounds, and programmed synths and drums. She stepped up across the board, having a hand in mixing as well as directing creative control over all aesthetics regarding LONER, resulting in an album filled with catchy synth hooks, Ray Manzarek-esque Farfisa, surf guitar, depth of thought and a punk attitude. “I wanted to make sure everything was as me as it could possibly be.”

Watch Caroline Rose’s “Money” Video –
https://youtu.be/NcOPz7Kby1A

Stream “Money” –
http://geni.us/crmoney

LONER Tracklist:
1. More Of The Same
2. Cry!
3. Money
4. Jeannie Becomes A Mom
5. Getting To Me
6. To Die Today
7. Soul No 5
8. Smile! AKA Schizodrift Jam 1 AKA Bikini Intro
9. Bikini
10. Talk
11. Animal

Pre-order LONER
https://store.newwestrecords.com/collections/caroline-rose-loner

Caroline Rose Tour Dates:
Wed. Mar. 14 – Sat. Mar. 17 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
Tue. Mar. 27 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
Wed. Mar. 28 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Thu. Mar. 29 – Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
Fri. Mar. 30 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
Sat. Mar. 31 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd
Tue. Apr. 3 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
Wed. Apr. 4 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Thu. Apr. 5 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas
Fri. Apr. 6 – New Haven, CT @ Cafe Nine
Sat. Apr. 7 – South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
Fri. May 18 – Gulf Shores, AL @ Hangout Music Festival

Download hi-res press images and cover art –
www.pitchperfectpr.com/caroline-rose/

 Keep your mind open…and subscribing won’t cost you a dime.

Oh Sees – Orc

John Dwyer is one of the busiest guys in rock.  He has so many variations of his band Thee Oh Sees that it can be difficult to keep track of them all.  One of the latest, which he’s just calling Oh Sees, has put out a fine record of psychedelic art-punk called Orc.

The album opens with the crazy, frantic “The Static God” – which appears to be a song about the whirlwind nature of battlefield combat.  Dwyer’s guitar is all over the place, but the chorus’ vocal hook has a wonderful pop twinge to it.  “Nite Expo” has 1980’s video game synths leading it before Dwyer’s guitar kicks open the door and catches you by surprise.  “Animated Violence” hits as hard as any metal track you’ve heard all year, both in the instrumentation (i.e., buzzsaw guitars and thunderous drums) and vocals and lyrics (revealing Dwyer’s love of Motorhead).

The longest track on the record (at 8:10), “Keys to the Castle,” is (on its surface, at least) about a bloody siege in a medieval fantasy kingdom.  I’m sure it’s probably a metaphor about how we’re actually destroying ourselves in these castles of loneliness and disconnection we’ve built thanks to the internet, but maybe I’m overreaching and should just enough the fun freak-out of a tune that it is (especially when the violin and organ creep into it).

“Jettison,” with its early Mick Ronson-like guitar work, is one of the grooviest songs about death in a long while (“Who likes sugar in their coffin?  The underground is twice as nice.”).  “Cadaver Dog” encourages the generation behind Dwyer to be leaders and not followers and be self-reliant instead of clinging to potentially deadly illusions.  “Drowned Beast” is a fuzzy salute to deepwater beast warriors who slay and eat everything in sight.  Three fun instrumentals, “Paranoise,” “Cooling Tower,” and “Raw Optics” are included.  The first has some subtle synths that might make you paranoid, the second is something you’d hear drifting out of a Mothers of Invention studio session, and the third (which closes the album) is a snappy blast of post-punk with a drum solo to boot.

Orc is a quirky, wild record, but you’d expect no less from Mr. Dwyer.  He excels at making quirky, wild rock that can melt your face one moment and intrigue you the next.

Keep your mind open.

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Ty Segall releases another single, and it’s one of the best of 2018.

LISTEN TO TY SEGALL’S NEW SINGLE, “THE MAIN PRETENDER”

Bang, bang, blammo! Ty Segall can’t stop pumping out the songs – and if your problem is that he’s got too many songs for you to hear, lucky you with your cute little problem! As Ty switches gears from rock to punk to pop music and then elsewhere, a wealth of great songs and singing and music is coming down fast; later we’ll have time to think about it. For now, ponder this new one: “The Main Pretender” aims to cull the herd by focusing its sights on a greatest common multiple of our society – people who just can’t see the forest for the head up their ass! Driven by an acidulous alto sax lick and a roiling bass line, “The Main Pretender” bounces like rubber and sticks like glue, exploding into a middle-eight-chorus progression that there’s no coming back from – and so there’s no need to even try. Mikal Cronin‘s saxophone, so urbane and sophisticated on the previous “My Lady’s On Fire,” here reaches for notes that were never wrote (perhaps a suggestion to pretenders everywhere to get free and reach for something outside of themselves instead!), setting the stage for a burning guitars-and-saxes-and-vocs climax. The production, with rough edges not only intact but deployed for maximum positive impact, is a marvel, forcing “The Main Pretender” into our frontal lobes, where it just won’t quit. They never do!
Ty Segall Tour Dates:
Sat. Dec. 9 – Mexico City, MX @ Hipnosis Festival
Fri. Dec. 15 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom [solo acoustic set] *
Sat. Dec. 16 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom [solo acoustic set]  *
Sun. Dec. 17 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel [solo acoustic set] #
Mon. Dec. 18 – San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel [solo acoustic set] #
Fri. Jan. 26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
Thu. Feb. 1 – San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium ^
Thu. April 26 – Austin, TX @ Levitation 2018

* = with OCS, Shannon Lay, all proceeds go to LA Kitchen
# = with OCS, Shannon Lay
^ = with Queens Of The Stone Age