Searching For The Now 6 [coll] – [Slumberland Records]

humana   9/20/2009   7-inch, A Library

Pop/psyche: Side A is The School, a girl-fronted pop band from Wales. Bouncy, upbeat and bubblegum sweet–female vocal over keyboard rollicking melody with tambourine and other instruments. At least 2 false endings. Side B is George Washington Brown offering heavier rock on B1. B2 is more psyche sounding with slow and fast parts, with chaotic sounds appropriate to the ???Twin Towers??? title. A and B2 are my preferred tracks.

Searching For The Now [coll] – [Slumberland Records]

humana   9/20/2009   7-inch, A Library

This 5th offering of pop in the Searching for the Now series is brought to you on gray and black, beige and black vinyl and features two Swedish bands. Liechtenstein is a female three-piece, and their ???This Must Be Heaven??? is indeed heavenly, with angelic voices layered over each other, harmonizing over a fast-tempo snare, guitars, and bass. The Faintest Ideas are a male four-piece, with a hardcore approach on B1, but much more upbeat and impressive guitar and bass work on B2, with vocals less menacing and more understandable.

Gift Horse – “Two Lane Fiddles In a Four Lane World” – [Ruralfaune Records]

humana   9/5/2009   A Library, CD

Folk fiddle: Admittedly I have a soft spot for traditional fiddle music, and these polkas, hornpipes, and dances from Ireland, Scotland, America, and the Balkans fit the bill quite nicely. The team of Hal Hughes and Jill Kjompedahl complement each other nicely on fiddle with these upbeat, clearly bowed tracks. Inject some cheerful fiddle mastery into your sets with this fine addition to our library. Read the liner notes for excellent info about each track.

UV Race, The – “Malaria” – [SS Records]

humana   9/5/2009   7-inch, A Library

One of the great things about the songs on this 7??? is their origin and lyrics. ???Malaria??? sounds like a mosquito (the guitar and voice are buzzes). ???MASH??? is about the TV series–listen for familiar names like Hot Lips Houlihan and Klinger. ???Good Money??? is the standout for me, because the guitar work and vocals are more jaunty and upbeat. ???Cosmic Man??? is a short ditty–read the liner notes for the origins. Charming punk from Australia.

Sic Alps – “L. Mansion” – [Slumberland Records]

humana   9/5/2009   7-inch, A Library

San Francisco???s Matt Hartman, Mike Donovan, and Ty Segall offer ???L. Mansion??? and ???Superlungs (My Supergirl)??? (penned by Donovan, not Mike) on this pink vinyl find. Simple, low-fi garagey sound harking back to yesteryear with its upbeat guitars, drums, and vocals. Pleasant.

Rantouls, The – “Songs of The Frontier Villagers As Played By, The” – [Chocolate Covered Records]

humana   9/4/2009   7-inch, A Library

Garage Rock: Two nice little songs that take you back in time to the 60s, when dune buggies were what summer was all about. Side A is fast-paced and fun, as is Side B, although B is more nostalgic, wishing for a more innocent time. Bass, guitar, drums, and vox combine as a worthy tribute to the Frontier Villagers. Packaged along with the 7??? is a ticket for the all-night graduation party of the Camden High Senior Class of 1968–some things never change.

Warm Climate – Agnomen I [Obsolete Units]

humana   8/28/2009   A Library, CD

The cool artwork on the handmade CD sleeve is in keeping with the two songs on this CD from a California outfit offering noise/industrial/ambient music. Ocean, Sympathetic Response (1) has guitar, vocalizations, and field noise sounds. It is very weird but not annoying at all, more like a droning with a lot going on in a comforting white noise sort of way. Sough—Warm Winter (2) starts out very differently, with a piano and single string working out a classical conversation in a very spare environment to which percussion, percolation, something that sounds like bagpipes or an accordion, and moaning vocalizations are layered to give a MiddleEastern feel. Very nice and my preferred of the tracks.

Kudo, Reiko and Tori Kudo – “Light” – [Siwa]

humana   8/28/2009   A Library, CD

Folk: Spare and simple is the music packaged in this artful CD release, containing a card for each of the 7 songs, complete with Japanese and English lyrics on one side with artwork on the flipside. Reiko sings in a clear, plaintive voice, while Tori accompanies her on piano (an occasional harmonica and viola [2] and a mandolin? [5] join in). It is the way the piano takes off into jazzy and classical terrain that makes some songs more interesting. 1, 2, and 7 are sad and lovely. 4, 5, and 6 are more jazzy and less melancholy. 3 is like a crossover between the two types of songs.

King Kong – “Old Man On The Bridge” – [Homestead Records]

humana   8/27/2009   A Library, CD

Wow! I love this. It rocks, literally. The energy packed into these 9 tracks is infectious and gets you moving, whether it be in a funk (1, 8), or blues (4, 6), or just rockin??? (2, 9) way. At the beginning I was reminded of Steppenwolf, but this band has a character all its own. The only slow one of the bunch is 7. The change-up in tempos of 6 shows off the bass, guitars, and drums to good effect. Rock out, turkey!

Bad Thoughts – “Oh Jena” – [M’Lady Records]

humana   8/16/2009   7-inch, A Library

This rock band from southern California formed in the early 90s and continues to offer music that does what the second song on this 7??? advises: ???Keep it easy, yeah! No complications, yeah!??? Guitar, bass, and drums, plus some type of horn (sax?) set the scene for the vocals. ???Oh Jena!??? is simpler and a little less peppy than ???Keep it Easy.??? Both songs are expressions of the band???s youthful spirit.

Soft Tags EP – “Seafoam Green” – [Cdbaby Softhaus]

humana   8/15/2009   A Library, CD

This is a charming tribute by this Portland, Oregon band to Nicola Tesla, inventor of the radio and the band???s ???patron saint.??? This EP was recorded for $1.72, and as such is a supreme value, what with its offering of well-penned lyrics (see the CD inserts) set to an array of instruments including accordion, guitar, church organ, wind chimes, toy piano, harpsichord, mandolin, glock, typewriter, and varying percussion. Their most treasured instrument is the Yamaha MT 50 four-track machine. It???s all pleasant music from dreamers and believers in the occult.

Von Diamond, Dalmacio – “Other Side of Darkness, The” – [Albino Crow Music]

humana   8/14/2009   12-inch, A Library

His Myspace page describes Dalmacio Von Diamond???s music as ???melodramatic popular song,??? and I???d say that???s pretty much on the mark. His deep vocals and somber lyrics are accompanied by guitar, drums, violins, and organ. Most of the songs are somber, but there are some upbeat-feeling ones, even though the subjects are not the sunniest. 3, 7, and 10 are the peppier songs. My favorite lyrics are in 4: ???Let???s throw a party and show the world we???re not afraid to get old.??? Love and life are not light matters on this album, but 10 hints that Von Diamond makes it to the other side of darkness and survives.

Che Guevara Memorial Marching (and Stationary) Accordion Ban – “Che Guevara Memorial Accordion Band” – [Public Eyesore]

humana   8/10/2009   A Library, CD

A sextet of accordion players–Bob Marsh, Dan Cantrell, David Slusser, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, John Finkbeiner, and Ron Heglin–make up this unique ???marching??? band. Minimalist improv is the best way I have to describe the five tracks on this CD. Instead of a riot of noise, there seems to be careful conversation among the musicians. Track 2 is the closest to chaos that these songs get. Track 5 includes some percussive moves (executed on the accordions, I presume) that mimic the pitter-pat of feet.

Wisp – “Shimmering Hour, The” – [Rephlex]

humana   8/9/2009   A Library, CD

Wisp is R.W. Dunn. He wrote and recorded the 14 songs on this CD. The genre is electronica/intelligent dance music, and each of the tracks is solid in its presentation of shimmering beats and energy, whether they be mellow or frenetic. You can???t go wrong with any of them, but the standouts are 10 for its eerie, cave beginning and scrambled spooky voice and jungle drums, and 11 for its flute-like, medieval feeling. Track 9 features ocean waves, birdsong, and crickets chirping. Try 3 as well, just because it???s pretty.

Champagne Socialists, The – “Blue Genes/Young Runaways” – [Slumberland Records]

humana   8/8/2009   7-inch, A Library

Pop: This band out of Los Angeles has a really interesting story. Three whiz kids went their separate ways, the girl traveling to Glasgow where she united both musically and romantically with her long-lost pen pal. The two made their way back to Disneyland, where they were reunited with the other two wunderkinder in Alice???s teacups, and a band was born! I prefer Side A to Side B. Bass, drums, minimal keys, and female vox contribute to the upbeat, low-fi haze.

Fresh and Onlys, The – “Fresh and Onlys, The” – [Chuffed]

humana   8/8/2009   7-inch, A Library

Rock/pop: This is a cool repressed EP, one of 300 available in pink vinyl from Chuffed. This San Francisco band has chosen an apt descriptor in ???fresh???–offering upbeat, organic tunes with guitars, xylophone, harmonica, toy piano, subtle percussion, and male voices singing interesting lyrics about innocent topics. Every song is good, but ???Endless Love??? is the standout with its energetic guitar start and solo.

Papercuts – “Can’t Go Back” – [Gnomonsong]

humana   8/1/2009   12-inch, A Library

Jason Robert Quever pens some fine pop songs dealing with subjects such as the transition from lover (?) to employee (1), nostalgic questions about whether you can wait all summer long (3), wishing you could hold onto people (7), how things and people become ???just another thing to dust??? (8). The overall vibe is mellow and poppy, with a delightful foray into a honky-tonk treatment of love taking a wrong turn (5). Pretty and cute and appealing all around.

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