Monthly Archives: November 2012

TAMARYN – Tender New Signs

January 01, 1970

(Mexican Summer)
Tamaryn, the dream pop singer from New Zealand (and lately San Francisco), takes another slow dive through atmospherics in this second album, teaming again with her long-time producer/guitarist Rex John Shelverton to build luminous textures of sound. You could sink into the Tamaryn aesthetic like a soft pillow, so enveloping, so welcoming and gentle the sound, yet these are not formless exercises in texture. No, all nine of these slow-moving cuts are built on actual melodies, simple enough to stick right away, radiant enough to hang like this album’s overtones, well after they are finished.
Tender New Signs is meant for all-the-way-through listening, preferably horizontal, preferably with headphones, yet a couple of the songs stand out.  “I’m Gone,” the opener, shimmers like rainbows atop a puddle slicked with oil, yet there’s structure under the glow.
“No Exits” brings the vocals up, adding a bit of warming vibrato in to Tamaryn’s weightless, disembodied style. Behind her, around her, guitar chords crash and break like ocean surf, as in nature, even the violence radiates serenity.
“I’m Gone” “No Exits” -JENNIFER KELLY
Read our Tamaryn feature in the new print edition of BLURT…

KEN STRINGFELLOW – Danzig in the Moonlight

January 01, 1970

(Spark & Shine)
Given the on-again,off-again status of his day job with the Posies (and the end of both Big Star and R.E.M.), a solo offering from Ken Stringfellow provides a welcome return. Recorded in Brussels with international assistance, this, his fourth individual outing, finds him reaching beyond his power pop inclinations via some atmospheric intrigue.
“Pray,” with its lead vocal from The Head & The Heart’s Charity Rose Thielen, sounds like
something lifted from Al Green’s repertoire, while the soft samba of “Superwise,” the psychedelic suggestion of “Jesus Was an Only Child” and the homespun musings of “110 or 220V” vary the MO to unexpected extremes. Conversely, the relatively straightforward “Even the Forgers Were Left Fingering the Fakes” and the rolling accordion serenade “You’re the Gold” offer the most immediate connection. Nevertheless, Danzig in the Moonlight represents a bold step forward.
DOWNLOAD: “Pray,” “Jesus Was an Only Child”  -LEE ZIMMERMAN


January 01, 1970

(The Control Group)

Thereought to be a genre for melodies that are hard to hum. If that was the case, Swedish songbird Sarah Assbring, aka El Perro Del Mar, could have it cornered. Unlike earlier efforts which found her bound up in melancholia and contemplation, Pale Fire captures her in nocturnal night club mode, constructing pulsating rhythms and ethereal ambiance for those who embrace specific cosmic connections

All ten tracks evoke surreal circumstance, given a delivery that’s atmospheric, amorphous and hypnotic. “Walk On By” is the easy standout, a techno shuffle with a hip-hop sensibility. Assbring throws all sorts of elements into the mix – drones, swirling synths and even a barking dog – making songs like “Hold Off The Dawn” and “I Carry The Fire” sound, by turns, feisty, sensual and cerebral. Little wonder then that this Pale Fire emits a lot of heat.

DOWNLOAD: “Walk On By,” “I Carry The Fire” -LEE ZIMMERMAN

RALPH ‘SOUL’ JACKSON – The Alabama Love Man

January 01, 1970



five decades after his first single, Alabama
soul man Ralph ‘Soul’ Jackson finally gets around to releasing a full length
record. Featuring seven originals and a tight version of the Ides of March soul
shouter classic “Vehicle,” Jackson
sounds nimble, amped and ready to tussle. 


Jackson is a part of that
wickedly groove happy school of Southern Soul that the studios in Memphis and Muscle Shoals cranked out in a
massive outpouring of classic sides in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In other words, and
with all due respect to Motown, Philadelphia and
New Orleans, Jackson is part of arguably the most vital
lineage of soul music in history. 


over a couple of years in Jackson’s home of Phenix City, AL and in Chicago, and
using a rotating cast of musicians that includes members of Dead Rider, Mucca
Pazza, US Maple, Detholz! and The Drastics (never heard of any of them…), Jackson and Co. deliver
the goods on a modest but effective collection of tracks. “I Can’t Leave You
Alone,” “You’ve Been Very Good To Me” “Somewhere In This World” and “Vehicle”
are real highlights. Tracks are relatively stripped down, with lots of great
organ, steady rolling grooves and some nice horn playing. Southern fried soul
is the recipe, so bits of gospel, blues and country hover around the edges. Jackson’s voice can twist
from husky to smooth, and he’s got a nice command of the mid range, and sounds
strong and good to go after 50 years or so of singing.


reinventing the wheel here – or soul music for that matter – but, yeah, so what.
It’s great to hear Jackson
finally get his due on a full length, and soul fans will be all over this one,
so step right up, ya’ll. 


DOWNLOAD: “I Can’t Leave Your
Love Alone,” “You’ve Been Very Good To Me,” “Vehicle,” “Somewhere In This


DANIELIA COTTON – The Gun in Your Hand

January 01, 1970



Though she
comes across with a persona that’s brash and defiant, Danielia Cotton’s bluesy
bluster more or less adheres to a standard MO. Still, it’s a tribute to her
talent and tenacity as both a singer and song stylist that her performances
still manage to come across as fresh and compelling. Channelling a difficult
childhood that found her as something of an outcast in the racial divide, she
rocks with a vengeance, giving her an indomitable presence that sets her apart
at the start. While some critics have attempted to tie her sound to that of
Janis Joplin or Tina Turner, Cotton does far more than merely emulate her
forebears. Her brassy delivery makes songs such as “Love Me,” “Lighthouse
Keeper” and “Long Days” nothing less than compelling, her clear confidence and
assertive delivery always at the fore.


Even when
she slows the pace, as on the ballad “Boy Blue,” or opts for a familiar cover,
as she does by tackling Prince’s “Purple Rain,” the emotion never falters and
the intensity stays intact. The album title is foreboding enough, but the
gritty circumstance and relentless determination she encapsulates overall
suggest Cotton’s clearly a contender who’s way overdue for recognition. It’s
hard to imagine she’ll reside under the radar for very long.


DOWNLOAD: “Lighthouse Keeper,” “Long


NENEH CHERRY AND THE THING – The Cherry Thing Remixes

January 01, 1970

(Smalltown Supersound)


The improbable union of Neneh
Cherry – Hip Hop queen, early post-punker and architect of seminal ‘80s
landmark smash “Buffalo Stance” – and Scandinavian free jazz trio The Thing
proves this year’s most revelatory, jaw-dropping collaboration. While the
formidable Thing ensemble (saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt Haker
Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love) have previously supported legendary sax
giants like Joe McPhee and Ken Vandermark, The
Cherry Thing
collab is touched by both a stroke of kismet (The Thing took
its name from a song by Cherry’s stepfather, jazz master Don Cherry) and its ginormous
punk-jazz chemistry, as evidenced by Cherry’s sultry, soulful vocals converging
blissfully with Gustafsson’s skronk-heavy bluster and the beefy rhythm section
on its stellar Stooges, Suicide, Ornette and MF Doom covers.


Its companion piece, The Cherry Thing Remixes, puts its songs
in the hands of sound collage experimentalist gods like Jim O’Rourke, Merzbow, Four
Tet and Kim Hiorthøy to mishmash, and thankfully, its deconstructions are of
the minimalist, drama-free fare. O’Rourke’s “Accordion” is an epic cataclysm,
as sparse yet muscular bass plucks meet with Cherry’s spicy whispers before
gradually erupting into a glorious, clattering shit-storm. Merzbow follows a
similar orgasmic noise trajectory on “Sudden Moment” while Four Tet’s “Dream
Baby Dream” vision is designed for sweat-soaked warehouse dance floors. Let’s
hope we haven’t heard the last of The Cherry Thing.


DOWNLOAD: “Accordion,” “Dream Baby Dream” –BRAD COHAN





January 01, 1970



If possible, the already
gloomy Crystal Castles have gotten even darker for the group’s third album,
appropriately and simply titled III.
This is an excellent and welcome direction for the experimental electro-pop duo
to head in, and producer/instrumentalist Ethan Kath seems to be looking towards
Faith and Pornography-era Cure as an inspiration for these new batch of songs.
Singer Alice Glass reverberates her wonderful screech all over tracks like the
lead single, “Plague,” an amazingly murky, gothic dance song that is epically


Crystal Castles continue
to make simple yet effective electronic music utilizing both techno conventions
and unique samples, but what makes the group’s songs so effective is the dark,
raw emotion that is always on display. Sometimes controlled, occasionally
chaotic, this new album packs a powerful impact.


“Plague,” “Sad Eyes” -JONAH FLICKER

SOME ARMY – Some Army

January 01, 1970




Emerging earlier this year with a favorably-received
limited-edition 7″ single, Carrboro-based six-piece Some Army now makes a
proper debut, and the seven songs here more than justify the praise to date.
Spearheaded by erstwhile Honored Guests frontman Russell Baggett and featuring players
culled from the regional ranks of the Guests, JKutchma, Aminal, Katharine
Whalen and Doleful Lions, the band’s stock-in-trade is, on the surface,
dreampop-tilting indie rock, due in part to their reliance on slow-burn
melodies, arrangements that pulse rather than surge, and atmospheric flourishes
(keys, guitar effects, deep-mix harmony vocals, etc.) lining the edges. But
there’s virtually none of the mellow languor typically associated with
contemporary nü-gazers; the trance induced by this EP is of a synapse-strafing
sort, the band set on “stun” rather than “lull.”


To that end, Some Army isn’t likely to be grouped alongside
such Pitchfork-anointed
flavors-of-the-month as Beach House, Real Estate, Tame Impala, etc. The music
is understated, yes, and with a plethora of soaring, easy-on-the-ears melodies
for listeners to latch onto, it’s “dreamy,” too. But there’s staying power. On tracks like “We’ve Been Lucky,” a gentle-but-insistent bass/drum thrum
bolstered by precision fretboard plucking and hints of harmonica, and “Servant
Tires,” which marries strum to hum and a peal of slide guitar teases a
compatriot axe into a deep, dark twang, one hears a band more closely aligned
with psychedelic Americana – cosmic cowboy-era Byrds, perhaps, or contemporary
Beachwood Sparks – than anything spawned by 4*AD Records. (For the latter tune,
add Go Betweens as a reference point, too; and as we all know, the G-Bs were
always far more influenced by American bands than British.) The anthemic “Under
the Streetlights” conjures images of another band that’s as Americana as they come while still putting its own unique stamp on the concept: My Morning Jacket, perhaps the group’s closest
peer. In “Streetlights,” Baggett vocalizes with an uncommon urgency and the
group, riding a purposeful beat, steadily builds to a satisfying climax of
guitars and keys, a trick that they pull in several songs( which additionally
bodes well for the material’s live incarnation).


Some Army’s still a work in progress, but with a
rapidly-developing sonic identity and Baggett’s songwriting gifts firmly in
place, the promise this group displays is immense. Put more personally: meet my
new favorite Tarheel band.


the Streetlights,” “We’ve Been Lucky” -FRED

CLINIC – Free Reign

January 01, 1970



The surgically-masked, reverb-on-everything,
vintage-keyboard despoiling wizards of Liverpool
have never really matched their first full-length, 2000’s Internal Wrangler, for sheer inventiveness. Their subsequent albums
have explored spasmodic rhythms and wistful surreality in different shades, but
the same basic palette.


Free Reign, co-produced by
Oneohtrix Point Never’s Daniel Lopatin, is subtler, jazzier and
ever-so-slightly sexier than previous Clinic outings, slipping threads of
saxophone through effect-altered caves of echo. Even “See Saw,” the most
old-style Clinic of cuts with its blurts of wah, abrupt
rhythms and chilled air of panic, seethes in the margins with nightclub reeds. “For
the Season” takes “Goodnight Georgie”‘s melancholy in a striking, moving
direction, its lounge-y slither framed by nostalgia. “All you want’s what you
can get,” sings Blackburn in a tenor that has
always seemed to glow phosphorescent, now washed with the blue-ish glow of the
jazz club. It’s a small shift, but very much worth pursuing.


DOWNLOAD: “See Saw,” “For the

ROSIE FLORES – Working Girl’s Guitar

January 01, 1970



61-years-young Rockabilly Filly proves that the title song isn’t just a title-Flores
wields a pretty mean six string all by herself, as you can readily see at any
of her exuberant live shows. Here on record, she’s caught in a good upbeat
mood; check out the swinging “Drug Store Rock and Roll,” which Brian Setzer
should immediately cover, or her sexy Elvis cover “Too Much.”


along with the title song, she shows herself self-conscious in a good way on
songs like “Little But Loud” where she happily shows off her stuff off while
name checking Led Zep’s most famous tune and wears her influences on her
sleeves with “Surf Demon #5.” Sad to say, except
for “If (I Could Be With You)” ballads aren’t her strong suit now, including
the Fabs’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” here. Still, you have to wonder if
there’s any sane reason that country stations won’t give her a shot anymore.


Store Rock and Roll,” “Working Girl’s Guitar” -JASON GROSS