Tag Archives: video

November 7, 2017 — “Honey Knows” by Sound and Fury

Sound and Fury

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Honey Knows” by Sound and Fury (2017, from the forthcoming album Sprout).
Sound and Fury is a shoegaze quartet from Chengdu, China.  Inspired by UK shoegaze of the early 1990s, the band formed in 2011.  In 2016, they released an EP called Some of the Songs, and it was met with glowing reviews. Finally, six years after their formation, and after a few lineup changes, they are set to release their debut album Sprout later this month.

I’ve seen a lot of people posting about this band on shoegaze message boards and Facebook groups, and I was thrilled when they exceeded my expectations. While there’s a ton of glorious noise, there’s also lots of melody and lovely coed vocals. I’m reminded a lot of Isn’t Anything. If the rest of the album moves me the same way this song does, it’ll be quite high on my year-end list.

“Honey Knows” by Sound and Fury

I love everything about this. The noise, the melodies, the harmonies, and the neat tidy package. It clocks in at just 2:19, but it feels like a much bigger song than that. There’s a little break from 0:37 to 0:50 that reminds me a little of a similar break in the Pavement song “Baptist Blacktick”. It goes back to the lovely noise and all that, and then there’s a full stop at 2:16. No fade-out. No decrescendo. Just a full-stop. I’ve always loved that kind of thing, and it works perfectly here.

I also recommend the video. It’s pretty standard shoegaze music video stuff, with a mixture of live performance, studio stuff, and the band goofing around. On my third viewing, I spotted something pretty awesome that I feel obligated to point out. At 1:50, you can see a vinyl copy of Heaven up Here proudly displayed. It’s not my favourite record by the Bunnymen, but the album-opening “Show of Strength” is absolutely my favourite song by the Bunnymen. Then at 1:57, they’re having fun with a vinyl copy of Deerhunter’s Microcastle. Then at 2:02, we see a CD copy of the magnificent debut record by Alvvays. This isn’t about Echo and the Bunnymen, though. I’ve written about them a number of times. Nor is it about Alvvays, who is another favourite around here. To tell a secret, I’ve never been a fan of Deerhunter, but it’s still cool to see that album cover. None of that is the point, though. To get back on topic, you should watch the video, and keep your eyes peeled for those albums, starting at the 1:50 mark:

Sprout will be released on November 24 via Boring Production. I have no idea if there will be distribution of physical copies in the US, but I’m sure it’ll be available as a digital download. For now, you can download the song from Bandcamp by naming your price here. You can also grab their 2016 by paying at least $1 USD here.


November 6, 2017 — “Girlfriend” by *repeat repeat

*repeat repeat

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Girlfriend” by *repeat repeat (2017, from the album Floral Canyon).

*repeat repeat is a fuzzy surf rock/indie rock band from Nashville. They refer to their own sound as “surf rock candy”. The heart of the band is the married couple of Jared Corder (guitar/vocals) and Kristyn Corder (vocals/keys), and they are joined by drummer Andy Herrin. They formed in 2014 and have released two albums. Floral Canyon, their sophomore long player, was released in September via Dangerbird Records, and is receiving warm reviews. I didn’t know anything about them until I started getting things in the mail bag about them and the video for today’s song. It’s actually turned out to be one of my favourite mailbag things of all time.

Jared and Kristyn met at a party where Jared was dressed as Tom Cruise’s character in Risky Business. Later, they got engaged. Jared and Andy were working at a record store together and were in a band searching for a female singer. Kristyn sang on some demos, and although she hadn’t planned on joining the band, she did.

Today’s song was written as sort of a response to the brilliant song “Boyfriend” by Best Coast. It was also inspired by events when Jared was courting Kristyn. In the Best Coast song, the protagonist pines for her male friend, who is dating a girl who is “prettier and skinnier” and “has a college degree”. In the *repeat repeat song, the protagonist pines after the girl who isn’t giving him much of a chance.

If you want to revisit the Best Coast song, go watch the video here.

Then, listen to today’s song. “Girlfriend” by *repeat repeat

It’s a glorious pop song with a strong hook in the chorus. I love the coed vocal harmonies, and especially the call-and-response bits. I absolutely adore the heavy fuzz in the second chorus. Another small thing that I love is that the chorus adds a line each time through. It’s silly, but I get a big kick out of the line:

I’ll take you to the airport if you go out of town

There are certainly grander romantic gestures than offering to see someone off at the airport, but I love the image of the slightly desperate guy doing anything he can to win her heart.

Then there’s the line:

I don’t want your maybes
I just want your babies

There’s a line in the final chorus about how the girl teases him, and that’s sort of the theme of the video, which I’ve watched a bunch of times.

The handsome guy meets the mysterious blonde woman at a *repeat repeat show, takes her out and makes sure she gets home safely. Then he does all this “nice guy” charming stuff while she stares blankly, barely giving him the time of day. He carries a million of her shopping bags while she checks herself out in her compact mirror. He carries her ice cream cone out of the shop (and struggles with the door) only to find her already outside with a giant cone. She stares ahead blankly in the photo booth while he does all that lovey-dovey stuff. He’s all weepy when he drops her at the airport, but she won’t even hug him. She teases him at their picnic. My absolute favourite part of the video is when they’re having a pillow fight in the apartment and it cuts to a snowstorm of down feathers at the *repeat repeat show. It’s meta without being pretentious. The whole thing is pretty beautiful. Of course there’s the twist ending and the double twist that Jared and Kristyn were watching that as a movie. It’s brilliant and I can’t stop watching/listening. By the way, the bird on the arm of the sofa is Jared and Kristyn’s pet. They have a whole menagerie, including a horse.

You can buy the album from the Dangerbird Records web store here. Check out the bundles that include tube socks and luggage tags!


October 10, 2017 — “Meadow” by Jessica Lea Mayfield

Jessica Lea Mayfield

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Meadow” by Jessica Lea Mayfield (2017, from the album Sorry is Gone).

Jessica Lea Mayfield is an indie rock singer songwriter from Nashville by way of Kent, Ohio. She has a bit of a storybook background and she has a couple of more recent life chapters that are more like nightmares. I’ve written about most of that before, but I’ll rehash it anyway. Her parents were in a touring bluegrass band, and she grew up on a tour bus. She was homeschooled, and obviously learned a lot about music. She started playing with the family band when she was 8, then she started playing rock shows with her brother David. When she was 15, she got a bedroom-recorded EP in the hands of Dan Auerbach out of Black Keys. He loved it, and got it in someone else’s hands, and she had a record deal just like that. In 2008, at the age of 19, she released her first album With Blasphemy, So Heartfelt, and it got rave reviews. The story goes that the album was about an off-and-on boyfriend who resented being her muse. He hated that the songs were about him even though nobody had any way of knowing that. As the story goes, he would break up with her every time she wrote a new song.

Her next album Tell Me was my first exposure to her, and I ranked it as my 12th favourite non-Canadian album of 2011. It was a very autobiographical record that she described as being about her turning the tables. It’s about her being mean to boys and deliberately breaking their hearts instead of vice versa. That album still had a very alt-folk/alt-country feel, but the next record was quite different.

The 2014 album Make My Head Sing took her in a completely different direction. It was much more rock-oriented, with flavours of grunge and punk. It was also, coincidentally, her first album without the production of Auerbach. Instead, she got her now ex-husband to work the knobs and faders. She had undergone a lot of changes and the album was sort of about change. The press didn’t love it, but I did. I called it #6 on my countdown of my favourite albums of 2014.

Mayfield released a long-awaited fourth album–Sorry is Gone— on September 29 of this year. That album release, unfortunately, was bookended by some events that physically and emotionally injured her. Before the album came out, she was hospitalized with injuries that stemmed from a series of domestic abuse incidents. She had a broken shoulder, which immobilized her arm, which makes playing music really hard. There were other injuries that she had been dealing with for years, but she said that her abusive husband wouldn’t allow her to go to the doctor. Evidently, he was also stealing her money. I don’t know why she stayed with him after the abuse started, or after it persisted, but she finally got out of that relationship.

Last month, just before the album release, she was involved in an automobile accident that resulted in even more injuries. Another driver fell asleep at the wheel, and rear-ended her causing injuries to her neck, ribs, hips, and knees. It didn’t stop the release of the album, and she hoped that she would be able to recover in time to play the east coast shows that were already scheduled for October/November. Yesterday, she announced that those shows have been canceled and that she will need a few more months to go through physical therapy.

All of those physical injuries and emotional trauma are certainly very heavy, but it’s a great album. Once again, it’s a bit different to her folk/bluegrass roots. Just as she did with Make My Head Sing, she opens Sorry is Gone with a lot of noise. The album-opening “Wish You Could See Me Now” is fuzzy and heavy with tons of delay on the vocals. It’s almost, even, shoegazey. I love that song, but it’s not our song of the day. Our song of the day is a perfect blend of her roots and her new “rock” direction. It’s got a bit of 90s college radio sound, and even a bit of a surf-rock sound that reminds me quite a bit of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Of course it’s highlighted by her signature rocky/drawly/sweet/sour voice.

This is that song:
“Meadow” by Jessica Lea Mayfield

I love it more with repeated listens. Strangely, as much as I love her voice, my favourite bit is the minute-long instrumental coda beginning at about 2:20. That’s when you can really hear the really bright, reverb-laden surf-y guitar and the heavy-handed drums.

There’s a video for the song

You can order Sorry Is Gone via ATO Records here.

Her tour has been canceled for now. While we hope that she’s able to reschedule later, we’re more interested in her full recovery from her myriad injuries. We also hope that she’s able to get and afford the care that she needs both physically and emotionally. If you’re interested in that, you can donate to Musicares, a charity that’s been helping her.


September 21, 2017 — “That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus

Pia Fraus

If you only listen to one song today, make it “That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus (2017, from the forthcoming album Field Ceremony).
Pia Fraus is a shoegaze/dream-pop/indie pop quintet from Tallinn, Estonia. Between 2001 and 2008, they released four proper albums. In a previous feature back in 2012, I wrote

I guess you could say that they’re three parts The Swirlies, one part Yo La Tengo, but with the volume low, the windows open, and the light shining in.

I stand by that assessment.

The band took a long hiatus and shuffled the deck just a little bit. After nine years, they’re ready to release their fifth album —Field Ceremony— on October 16. Actually, it’ll be out on October 13 via Shelflife Records in the United States and October 16 in Europe (SekSound Records) and in Japan (Vinyl-Junkie Recordings). They’ve been releasing singles ahead of the album, but those somehow slipped between the cracks until I got something in the mail bag a couple of weeks ago. I was, of course, pleasantly surprised and excited to read about the new album, and I was totally satisfied when I listened to the promo copy.

The melty, gooey guitar with the tons of effects, their magnificent pop sensibilities and the glorious coed vocals reminded us of why we fell in love with Pia Fraus in the first place: they remind us of a lot of familiar and comfortable things while bringing a lot of their own things to the table.

It’s fair to mention that I was also unaware of this development, but Pia Fraus recently recorded a split 7″ single with Rocketship. Check that out here. Rocketship, incidentally, has new record coming out after an 11-year hiatus. You should check out the new song here.

Back on topic, though, the new tune from Pia Fraus is great, and this is that song:
“That’s Not All” by Pia Fraus

I love that they waste no time getting to the melty, gooey guitar awesomeness. No stick clicks or snare hits to count them in, no jangly acoustic intro. Just the warm, gooey stuff right from the drop. My only complaint (and this is a very minor one) is that I wish they were much louder. The noise that they do bring is glorious, but I wish they would turn their amps to elevens.

There’s also a video, which was directed by the band’s former drummer Joosep Volk:


August 16, 2017 — “Wall Watcher” by Sunflower Bean

Sunflower Bean

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Wall Watcher” by Sunflower Bean (2016, from the album Human Ceremony).

Sunflower Bean is an indie rock trio from Brooklyn. They’re young, but they’ve been around the Brooklyn DIY scene for a while. They formed in 2013, and after a series of singles and EPs, they released their debut long player last February on Fat Possum Records. Their sound has elements of dream pop, fuzzy indie rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, and others. I read a quote from frontwoman Julia Cumming (vocals/bass):

You’re allowed to obsess over Black Sabbath as well as The Cure… It’d be boring if everything was one way or the other

.

Certainly, each of their songs sounds totally different to the others, and some have different sounds within the same song.

I had never heard of this band until I started doing my preparation for the 2017 Hopscotch Music Festival, and now I’m pretty excited that I’ll be seeing them there. They’re playing on Thursday September 7, the first night of the festival. That’ll be a busy night for me, and their set will be the last of the night over at The Pour House. It’s often packed to capacity in there during Hopscotch, but it’s always fun.

Anyway, here’s one of the songs from the debut album:

“Wall Watcher” by Sunflower Bean

It’s part late aughts commercial radio alternative, part late nineties college radio alternative, and still part something else. I’m reminded a little of that song “Tick Tick Boom” by The Hives. I’m also reminded of the first record by Veruca Salt. There’s also something that reminds me just a tiny bit of The History of Apple Pie. And yet, it’s still got its own vibe. And I like it.

Here also is the video for the song:

You can order the album on your choice of format from the Fat Possum store here.

The Hopscotch Music Festival is in just three weeks. Check out the lineup, the schedule, and the ticket options. As usual, I’ll be there all weekend.

Again, if you’re going to Hopscotch, Sunflower Bean is playing on Thursday at 12:30 at the Pour House. There’s actually four different venues I want to be in at that same time, so I can’t say for sure that I’ll be at Pour House, but the Sunflower Bean set is very much on my radar.


August 3, 2017 — “Stupid Things” by Girl Ray

Girl Ray

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Stupid Things” by Girl Ray (2017, from the album Earl Grey).

Girl Ray is an indie pop trio of 19 year-olds from London. They are Poppy Hankin (vocals/guitar), Sophie Moss (bass), and Iris McConnell (drums). I just learned about them this morning because of a friend’s tweet that he was eagerly anticipating the release of the band’s debut record tomorrow (August 4) via Moshi Moshi Music. I’ve listened to a few songs, and I really like what I’ve heard. I’ve done a little bit of research, and I still don’t know much about them.

Some of the things that I’ve read compare them to the c-86 sound and lo-fi twee pop. Some compare them to stuff like Belle and Sebastian. Some are brave enough to mention Hankin and Harriet Wheeler out of The Sundays in the same breath. Some mention Hankin and Nico in the same breath. Every article I’ve read mentions Todd Rundgren. The band say that they’re influenced by Pavement, Pixies, Cate Le Bon, David Bowie, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Beach Boys, ABBA, and others. Also, as a bit of trivia, the girls went to the same high school as Ray and Dave Davies out of The Kinks.

The only really close comparison to twee pop that I might make is to say that I’m reminded of The Softies, or Brave Irene, or any of Rose Melberg’s projects that weren’t called Tiger Trap. There’s a bit in tonight’s song that reminds me A LOT of the hit song “Evil Woman” by Electic Light Orchestra. And in a general sort of way, especially on some of the other songs, I’m reminded of Badfinger. These young gals have a lot of talent, and with the exception of Cate Le Bon, no matter what band you compare them to, it’s from before they were born.

They formed in 2015, and released their first single –“Trouble”– last autumn. They followed with a single for “Preacher” last month. After a lot of rave reviews in the UK music press and a few over here, they’ve generated a lot of buzz around their debut record coming out tomorrow.

Tonight’s song is, from what I’ve read, about having a supercrush (intentional reference back to Tiger Trap) on someone, then doing a bunch of stupid things just to get close or feel close to them. Things like obsessively watching a movie that their crush mentioned in passing, or obsessively eating and drinking stuff that their crush eats and drinks. You know… Standard issue pseudo-stalking.

I don’t know if the Bandcamp clip is an abbreviated version of the real song or if the music video is an extended version, but the Bandcamp version picks up at about 1:10 of the video. Either way, here’s the audio:

“Stupid Things” by Girl Ray

It’s that first bit with the piano and the “Ooh hooo hooooo-oooo” that makes me thing so much of “Evil Woman”. It’s the first thing I thought of as soon as I heard the first few seconds of this song. After that, it doesn’t sound like or remind me of ELO at all.

For good measure, here’s the cinematic video for the song:

They have sold out of the first pressing of the vinyl, but you can still buy the album via Bandcamp on CD or as a download.


July 24, 2017 — “Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher

Jen Cloher

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher (2017, from the forthcoming album Jen Cloher).

Jen Cloher is an indie-folk/rock singer/songwriter from Melbourne. She has released three albums and a couple of EPs and singles, but I didn’t know much about her until recently. Actually, I did, but I didn’t. She has been dating indie darling/rising superstar Courtney Barnett for several years, and they’ve collaborated on each other’s records before. On August 11, she’ll release her fourth album —Jen Cloher— via Milk Records, which is the label that Cloher and Barnett run.

I got something in the mailbag about a different song from the new record, and I knew right away that I like this record. Tonight’s song is about “the sacrifices and difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship with a high-profile partner”. They live together, but Barnett spent a long time touring with her brilliant debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, so I guess they’ve spent a lot of time apart from each other. We’ll get to that later.

The album was recorded in a one-room studio in a rural Australian town, then mixed in Jeff Tweedy’s studio in Chicago. Barnett contributed guitar and vocals to the entire album. Their friend Kurt Vile also played guitar on one track, and Andrew “Bones” Sloane (bass) is a full-time member of the band. Both are also frequent collaborators with Barnett.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s song:
“Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher

It’s a great song that reminds me of a lot of things. There are bits that remind me of The Breeders and bits that remind me of Bettie Serveert. In a weird way, the bass and drums remind me of Butterglory. There are obviously bits that remind me of Courtney Barnett. Despite how catchy and toe-tap inducing it might be, it’s kind of a downer. The words to the last verse tell the whole story of dealing with being apart from her love:

You’re riding round the world
You’re doing this and you’re signing that
The facts are that you’re there and I’m here
When you’re gone too long I become an idea
I’m driving in my car
Your song comes on the radio
And I remember what I always forget
Loneliness.

That’s kind of intense. But it’s about to get better. Jen Cloher will be touring with this record. Courtney Barnett will be on tour with the album she made with Kurt Vile. For a few weeks in the United States this autumn, they’ll all be touring together. I don’t know who headlines those shows, but it sounds like a badass show. If I’m honest, I’m not wild about Kurt Vile, but that would be an amazing show.

The eponymous Jen Cloher album comes out on August 11, and you can pre-order it via Bandcamp here, or via the label here.

Also, there’s a great video for the song. And it’s packed full of people who have something to do with Milk Records or the Melbourne music scene. You’ll easily recognize Courtney Barnett. “Bones” Sloane plays the guy making art with his food. Jen Sholakis, who plays drums in the band (and a couple of other Melbourne bands), is drinking coffee. Tain Stangret, who sings on a couple of songs, is the waitress. You may recognize her from Courtney Barnett’s incredible video for “Elevator Operator”. The dishwasher is played by Anika Ostendorf, who makes dream-pop under the name Hachiku. The cook is played by a guy called Tejo D’Cruz. It took a bit of internet research, but I figured out that he used to be in a Singapore pop-punk band called Aspectrum. Now he lives in Melbourne, and does a decent Elliot Smith cover.

Anyway, now that you’ve got the cast and all their bios, here’s the video:

The video is worth watching multiple times because there are lots of really subtle and cool things going on. It’s weird, but it’s fun.


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