Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Post-hardcore veterans Helmet ("In the Meantime" motherf*ckers!) regroup. Band will release Monochrome, July 18 on Warcon records and play dates on Warped Tour. Band is in a Guns N Roses-type situation and now includes original founding vocalist/guitarist Page Hamilton and recent additions Chris Traynor (guitar), Mike Jost (drums) and Jeremy Chatelain (bass).

Merge has got the latest from Camera Obscura. Plus tour dates to support Let's Get Out Of This Country, out June 6th.

Okay, okay, after seeing video for "Steady Rollin'", I can tolerate Two Gallants enough to at least play on my radio show. ooo, ooo, can I do this? Cross between Beck, White Stripes, Kevin Devine and the Goo Goo Dolls. seriously! record out now on Saddle Creek.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Lycia: The Burning Circle and then Dust (Silber)
release: Spring 2006 (originally issued in 1995)
styles: Ethereal Goth
similar: early Cocteau Twins, Black Tape for a Blue Girl, anything on Projekt records
rating: ****

For Silber records, it's a dream come true. The label always wanted to release records from Lycia, as the ambient-goth act has been a huge influence for Silber as well as artists already on the roster. For those familiar with the label or those artists, Lycia will be an excellent introduction and transition to one of the standards of the style. And The Burning Circle is an essential work from the band. If you were ever unhappy with the Cocteau Twin's less dark ethereal rock, Lycia fills the void for sure. Only complaint is that Tara Van Flower should have sang more. You know it. -Kenyon

Friday, May 26, 2006

Classic vintage video you never saw.
Mr.Mister: "Kyrie" (1985)
here we see Mr.Mister on an impressive stage, interspersed with clips of the band enjoying their few months of fame on the road, probably after the success of "Broken Wings." Haircuts are actually pretty cool. Aside from the singer. He just looks like Sting.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

World Party: Dumbing Up (Seaview)
release: May 2, 2006 (originally issued in 2000)
styles: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
similar: Bob Dylan with violins, The Verve's Urban Hymns
rating: ***

There's more history to the overlooked World Party than we thought. In fact, the story of band leader Karl Wallinger makes for an obvious candidate for Behind the Music. He was for a short time a member of Celtic rock band the Waterboys as well as involved in an early incarnation of the Alarm. He also helped record Sinead O'Connor's Lion and the Cobra. But after the original release of Dumbing Up, Wallinger had an aneurysm and couldn't speak, while four years ago his former band members and Robbie Williams allegedly stole a World Party song and made it a hit for Williams. Now that Wallinger has gained control of the WP catalog and he's fully functional, all the records are being re-issued for the people that didn't hear "Ship of Fools" and "Way Down Now" on alternative rock radio in the early '90s. Dumbing Up doesn't sound so much like a band as it does a solo work from Wallinger. The record is sparse, with acoustic guitar and light strings framing the backdrop for the distinctive vocals. And while many of these songs go on for a couple more minutes than necessary, the lyrics and arrangements are too wise-sounding to turn off. Except for the out-of-place, soul-infused "Here Comes the Future". -Kenyon

note: World Party is playing on Long Island May 29 (it's way out east at the Stephen Talkhouse, but still, that's Long Island)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Robin Guthrie: Continental (Darla)
release: May 15, 2006
styles: Ambient Bliss
similar: the Cocteau Twins
rating: ***1/2

One could say that Continental is the Cocteau Twins without the wondrous vocals of Liz Fraser. But on his second solo album (and first of four for Darla--woo!), her vocals are unexpectedly not missed, as the former guitarist of one of the most significant bands in underground rock piles on layers upon layers of heavenly guitar effects. Continental is a joyful listen, whether it's the bright, uplifting "Radiance" or the opening title track, one of several which could easily be from any point in the Cocteau's catalog. With the pretty instrumentals following the standard blueprint of shoegaze and dreampop which Guthrie helped to invent, some fans might want to see Guthrie explore other territories. It's more likely that they'll be happily satisfied with this and any other new work they can get. -Kenyon


Unwed Sailor: Circles EP (Burnt Toast Vinyl)
release: May 2, 2006
styles: Post Rock, Experimental
rating: **

EPs are tricky. At best, a tryst with captivating music ending entirely too quickly. At worst, you’ve invested your time in a handful of songs that go nowhere. Unfortunately for Unwed Sailor, the latter scenario holds true for Circles, which consists of two lengthy instrumental tracks seamlessly melded together. 13 minutes into their 15 minute EP, the band finally finds its footing, landing on a pensive little melody with upbeat percussion and purposeful guitar ramblings. But beware, the road leading there is dreary and vacant. -Shannon K Ronan

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Candy Wrappers on the Floor Match Your Eyes.
Elefant at Webster Hall, New York. May 17, 2006.
with Sound Team and Aberdeen City.

Welcome to the Black Magic Show.

Set list: Black Magic Show, My Apology, Tonite Let's Dance, Ester, Why, Now That I Miss Her, Love, Lolita, Bokkie, Make Up, Don't Wait, Clown, Uh Oh Hello, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid, Misfit.

I don't care if Diego is "hot". The music is hotter. And to the guy who went up front just after Sound Team and was talking loudly and singing loudly and horribly: I don't care how excited you are, you need to check yourself. Jerk.
Sound Team. Six people. 3 synths, yet still rock.

Aberdeen City. They sound like the Editors, who sound like Interpol, who sound like Joy Division. Guitarist had Joy Division shirt. So you see, it's all about Joy Division.

More photos HERE.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Alice in Chains is playing a brief small venue tour (including Bowery Ballroom in New York, May 23) with new vocalist. Enough said.

The iOs: In Sunday Songs (Kanine)
release: May 16, 2006
styles: Indie Rock, Indie Pop
similar: My Favorite, Finechina, High Water Marks, Slingshot Dakota
rating: **

I guess we should be impressed that the New York Times compared the iOs to the band Stars and the New York Press said they are a "lush new wave indie pop boy-girl group." Indie pop boy-girl group they may be. The "lush new wave" part is pushing it. In Sunday Songs, the band's debut full-length, doesn't feature anything particularly special. At least until they get to "Rockets" and "Deeper Sleep." That's when the band really shows some musical and vocal talent with warm, and yes, "lush" rock. But before and after that, the iOs only hunt for a melody and a way to get the synth, guitar and forced vocals to make peace with each other. -Kenyon

Monday, May 15, 2006

Preview the upcoming record from the Futureheads. Out June 13 on Vagrant/Startime. Bands on Vagrant include Dashboard Confessional and Saves the Day. But Paul Westerberg is on there too, so it's okay.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Classic Vintage video you never saw.
Suede: "The Drowners" (1993 UK version)
The Situation: s/t (Elephant Stone)
release: April 18, 2006
styles: British-inspired Indie Rock
rating: **

This Philadelphia quartet has all the right influences for a great rock band: Stone Roses, the Jam, the Cure, Velvet Underground, Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Verve, et al. Those influences seemed to have pumped so much England into the Situation's veins that the band is now more British than American. Christopher (don't call him Chris!) Tucker's vocals are a desperate combination of Oasis, Embrace and Stone Roses, while the bass player goes by the name of Laz (like Gaz from Supergrass and Bez from Happy Mondays). On the Situation, the band attempts bigness ("Paper and Pen"), quietness ("Latchkey Kids") and raw rock 'n' roll ("Mocking Fate"). They're pretty good at mocking roots (check out the nod to Bob Dylan on "Black Cat Dice") and sometimes they even do it competently. The record, however, goes on for about 20 minutes longer than necessary, reinforcing the Situation's unfulling second-hand Brit rock. -Kenyon


Run Chico Run: Slow Action (Boompa)
release: March 21, 2006
styles: Frustrating Sorta Experimental Indie Rock
rating: *

Slow Action begins promisingly with a solid track on the fence of indie rock and indie electronic. From there, however, the Canadian duo takes a big nose dive into sleepy, directionless vocals and a combination of instruments and sounds that never gel. This might work here and there on a soundtrack to a film that's copying a film by Jim Jarmusch, but an entire album of this mess is a disaster not unlike the remake of the Poseidon Adventure. -Kenyon

Saturday, May 13, 2006

BREAKING NEWS>>> there are actually some bands playing at Siren Fest this year that Kenyon likes.
The upcoming Kid 606 involves mad bouncy IDM-synth.
Dungen video and tour dates. I didn't give them a chance because the name is wack, but now I have seen the light. They're like a darker, more psychedelic version of Super Furry Animals. Plus, their on Kemado records.
Con Amore used my photo as their primary on myspace.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The 1900s: Plume Delivery EP (Parasol)
release: May 30, 2006
styles: Indie Pop, Chamber Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
similar: Camera Obscura, Essex Green, Ladybug Transistor
rating: ***

The time period of the 1900s is so in the past. We are so in the future now, being 2006 and all. The Chicago band the 1900s is one Harpsichord in the past and a horn or two in the present. They're in the future too, as this debut EP comes out May 30. The six members apply enough Mamas and Papas-style vocals and Farfisa and Hammond organ to avoid being called a Belle and Sebastian clone, while immersing themselves in the edgier side of '60s sunshine rock long enough to dismiss one of the vocalists for replicating the calming voice of Cat Power's Chan Marshall. -Kenyon

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Imaad Wasif: s/t (Kill Rock Stars)
released: April 11, 2006
style: Singer-songer
rating: ***1/2

When I first listened to this album, I wrongly assumed that the birds chirping sweetly outside my window were a hidden charm lurking behind the prettiest harmonies of this sappy lovesick acoustica. Alas, they were just birds out my window. Still, the album is perfect for spring time sunsets, and Imaad Wasif is a bulb on the verge of blooming for years now. Before embarking on his current tour with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wasif has dabbled in lesser known projects like Alaska! and The New Folk Implosion. Check out his self-titled solo debut if you’re still bummed over losing beloved singer/songwriters Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith, or if you want to know where the YYYs have been drawing their mushy inspiration from. -Shannon K Ronan


The Spirit That Guides Us: North and South (Goodfellow)
release: March 28, 2006
styles: Indie Rock, Emo, Post Hardcore
similar: ...Trail of Dead, Desaparacidos
rating: ***

With seven dudes in this band including two vocalists, The Spirit that Guides Us really has no excuse not to rock. On North and South they do rock, even when some minor post-hardcore cliches are present. Tying in politically concious lyrics, the Netherlands band isn't ordinary enough to be just another statistic at purevolume.com. -Kenyon

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Radiohead is touring at smallish venues, including two dates at the Theater at Madison Square Garden June 13 and 14. eh, big deal. Set lists will mostly be from newer material that we haven't heard yet. See! I told you! big deal! Tickets already went on sale. Obviously this is sold out.
The Walkmen will release their third studio album on May 23. "A Hundred Miles Off is without a doubt our most solid effort yet," says singer/guitarist Hamilton Leithauser, "...We're all sure it's the best record we've done so far." Walkmen! please don't be cliche! I thought you guys were COOL! New York date for tour is May 24 at Webster Hall.
Matt Friedberger of The Fiery Furnaces will release a debut double solo album August 8. Ooo ooo, does this mean I should "shit a brick" or something?
One more tour- Editors. this summer. July 28 in New York at Irving Plaza.
Ok enough tour stuff. Radio Indie Pop is streaming the new Built to Spill. You can alternate this with the latest Death Cab for Cutie that you are listening to on the iPod.
Nick Cave wrote and provided music for The Proposition, a Western starring John Hurt and Guy Pearce, which opened in select theaters May 5. see the trailer.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Classic vintage video you never saw.
The Smiths- "Boy with the Thorn in His Side" (1986)

Although the Smiths had an incredible amount of great singles, they didn't make many videos. The ones they did make are pretty dull. And most of them only have Morrissey ("Girlfriend in a Coma", "Stop Me if You Think..."). That leaves only a few videos where the band is merely playing together in a room. When he went solo, Morrissey made some decent videos that actually had a visual story. While those videos are nice, it's a shame the band didn't make an effort on this. Obviously they could have done so much more with "Boy". At least here there are some good close-ups of Johnny Marr. And the other two guys.

Friday, May 05, 2006

here comes your band.

fool the world: the oral history of a band called pixies.
book by josh frank and caryn ganz. review by shannon k ronan.

five years ago, josh frank "started thinking what would a ‘rock musical’ for [his] generation look like, and it was obvious. it would look like the pixies." apparently researching the myth-laden, gossip-drenched history of the pixies turned out to be a much larger undertaking than he had anticipated. so he axed his original plan to write a play on the life of charles thompson (aka. black francis, frank black), and instead compiled his findings into a book which chronicles the life of the pixies.

frank, who describes himself as a "rock dramatist" (not to be confused with rock journalist), warned me within the first few pages that i should stop reading if what i craved was sleazy stories of illicit sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. still i kept reading, hoping that his years of endless interviewing would shed some light on the shadiest parts of the pixies past. unfortunately, the book only confirmed what i already know about the formation, breakup, and eventual reunion of the band, which is nothing.

basically kim deal and charles thompson never really got along because they both wanted to lead the band. he let her sing a few songs, the fans la-la-loved it, and he freaked. she partied hard, he became reclusive. tensions built, they got bored and split up (via thompson’s notorious fax) to pursue other projects (the amps, the breeders, the catholics, martinis) and magic. yes, magic. but then something really magical happened and after not speaking for twelve years, they decided they wanted to make a lot of money (oh yeah, and music too) so they reunited and now they’re back together and they play shows. uh, the end?

you know, it’s not to often a rock journalist (ahem, dramatist) stands aside and lets the band tell their own story. and now i know why. rock stars aren’t the most reliable characters and the truth is, they can’t really be trusted to recall history the way it was, instead they tell it how they remember it was, and half the time they were too drunk or tired from touring to remember much of anything, and the end result is a tangled mess of time lines and he said/she said’s.

at one point, frank black mentions his admiration for david lynch’s truly surrealistic ability to present ideas while refraining from explaining them. in this way too, i believe the band’s history is better off unknown. like everyone else, i love the pixies, but their story is just as boring as the story of most bands; a bunch of kids who grew up listening to everything from country to punk rock, formed a band even though they had no clue what they were doing, smoked pot, drank beers and jolt cola, and played music until people listened. you’ve heard the story a thousand times before. but never, to this day have you heard songs like "tame" and "break my body." so lets follow david lynch’s lead and let the songs speak for themselves. without any explanations whatsoever, that soft/loud dynamic, that screaming/sweet juxtaposition. that is the pixies.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

breaking news: Helicopter crash-lands this morning less than a mile from Kenyon's house. Occupants survive. Unfortunately, Kenyon was at work and could not report from scene and take photos. Instead, settle for Newsday.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Show Me Your Tones. Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Roseland, NYC. May 2, 2006. photos by Kenyon.

Many will wonder if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs can still be exciting live with a second album that's on the softer side. This performance showed they can still be exciting and still a lot of fun as well. Although there were stupid drunk girls saying stupid things ("Take off your wig, Nick!" and "does anyone have a cigarette!?") and those same girls shoving their way up to the front after the rest of us had been standing there since 7:30, there were still enough moments where we could semi-dance and raise our arms while Karen O smiled and jumped up and down like a giddy teenager.

included in set: Gold Lion, Tick, Pin, Black Tongue, Y Control, Maps (acoustic), Phenomena, Way Out.

Dirtbombs and Black Lips (above) were perfect as openers. The crowd was pleased with the garage punk and psychedelic garage rock. Pleased enough for a half-assed mosh pit to form.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Kenyon will be at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs tonite.


new MP3s in the hooouusseee.

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness- "According to Plan" (Secretly Canadian)
I Love the Name of the Band. Dark, atmospheric. almost as good as the Editors. rating: ****

Super XX Man – "Collecting Rocks" (Hush)

Scott Garred's quiet indie singer-songwriter rock matures, accompanied by a sweet female vocals. record out soon. rating: ***1/2

Lillix- "Sweet Temptation" (Maverick) Record out June 13
glossy flossy synth-aided pop for the teenage girls that shop at hot topic and other clothing stores in the mall. yea cause you know this is gonna be on the PA there. rating: *1/2

Lillix. they've been naughty.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Con Amore. Saturday night at the Hobo House, Huntington Long Island.

photos by Kenyon.