To look at the date stamps on this post and the previous More Drive post — a Nov. 2 post following an Oct. 31 post — you might initially think we were coasting along at our established pace. But to look a little more closely, you’d notice the truth: More Drive has returned from a year-long hiatus.
There’s something fitting about the fact that the last post we published has a Halloween post, one about a track that seemingly addressed the bridge between the world of the living and that of the dead. As of today, we are officially not just undead but alive, having risen, phoenix-like, from our own ashes.
It’s been a weird year. For me, Brian, the editor and founder of More Drive, it’s seemed at times like there were forces bent on my demise. But I’ve lived through it, and I’ve returned to one of my passions: writing about bands not enough people care about.
In coming weeks and months, I’m hoping to build More Drive into an even greater force than ever. In particular, I’m looking for collaborators. If you are a copacetic writer or photographer, get in touch. It would be cool to give More Drive a deeper footprint here in Brooklyn, where I live and work, but it would also be great to join forces with people in other Northeastern American cities — Boston or Philadelphia in particular. If you’re interested, email moredriveblog at gmail dot com.
I wanna find a phoenix that’s not rising from some ashes.
I wanna hang out with that phoenix.
There was a point this summer when I realized I could tell the difference between a surf instrumental and a hot rod instrumental, which, for a particular demographic, is pretty much akin to achieving zen enlightenment. But, blast it, here comes “Open the Gates,” a new cut by Californian all-instrumental outfit Thee Cormans, and I’m stymied. It’s right on the cusp of surf and hot rod music — it sounds as much like a loud engine as it does like a wave crashing over your head. And it’s all covered in basement scuzz, with reverb and analog grime heightening the sense that the band’s gonna tip over at any second. Hey, here it is on Soundcloud!
As the ghoulish groaning and door-creaking tacked onto the end of the track might suggest, this is part of an entire 13-song Halloween record Thee Cormans just put out on the esteemed garage rock label In the Red Records. At the risk of complicating things, the album’s called Halloween Record w/ Special Effects. While it might be questionable timing to drop a holiday-themed album five days before the holiday in question, this can also be an excuse to keep the Halloween spirit alive for weeks on end. (Look, my birthday’s coming up, and that’s always terrifying.) Or maybe Halloween and nasty garage rock always, always go well together.
Nous Non Plus are perhaps best known as the band formed when most everyone except for the male lead vocalist of the long-running band/brand Les Sans Culottes defected, an acrimonious split that led a federal court case over who got to keep the group’s name (Les Sans Culottes’ male lead vocalist being an attorney) and that ultimately left the world with two related yet distinct bands whose “thing” is that they play songs inspired by French ye-ye pop and pretend to be French, with goofy pseudonyms and all. The members of Nous Non Plus obviously lost the name battle, but they maintained their credibility and dignity. (A Les Sans Culottes set I caught by chance a few years ago suggests the exact inverse for that band.) With singers Celine Dijon and Jean-Luc Retard and guitarist/chief songwriter Cal D’Hommage still leading the charge, NNP recently released their third LP, Freudian Slip on Aeronaut Records.
Now Nous Non Plus are sharing a cheeky new video for the album’s leadoff track, “J’en Ai Marre” (translation: “I’ve Had Enough”). In one of the earliest profiles anyone published about The Smiths, an overanalytical writer surmised guitarist Johnny Marr’s name was itself a pseudonym, pinched from that same French phrase, and in a weird sort of turnaround, NNP’s track has a bit more Johnny Marr to it than j’en ai marre — more chiming, lilting guitar melody, energized rhythmic shuffle and jazz chords than self-righteous refusal. It’s a charming jangle-pop tune that you don’t have to understand French to enjoy, and in any case there’s enough activity and general sauciness in the video (shot on Super 8 film and featuring Dijon and Retard in a bit of fantasy enactment) to keep one’s attention. Check it out below.
The unforgettably-named You Can Be a Wesley have been on the More Drive radar for a couple months now, since my friend Steve reported favorably about them after a tour stop in Northampton. (“a band from boston, ‘you can be a wesley,’ played after us and they were pretty good,” Steve wrote on his blog.) Well, all right! You Can Be a Wesley is, indeed, a band from Boston, and as their tune “Old in Florida” suggests, “pretty good” is just the beginning. With its clean, trebly guitars, melodic bass line and laid-back tempos, it could easily pass as something by a long-lost indie rock band of the Pacific Northwestern 1990s; and at just under two and a half minutes, the whole thing could slide by in a blissed-out reverie without the listener taking note of just how unusual the composition is. There’s that push-and-pull between the dueling male/female vocal leads, which finally meet up in broad harmony, and the tempo shift where the guitars suddenly take a cue from the vocals and burst out into two complementary but certainly not parallel melodies. Even though there’s no real chorus and I can’t quite figure out what the lyrics are getting at, it’s an engaging song from front to back, and as abstract as it is, it’s bright enough that it feels downright pop. “Old in Florida” was released as a single some months ago, and the video just came our way in recent days. It’s an appropriately dreamlike shot (below), in which a young guy finds a series of very different parties going on within one house. You Can Be a Wesley’s “Old in Florida” single came out earlier this year; the track’s also on their new EP, Nightosphere, due out on Nov. 1.
Cheap Perfume, the new LP from Oakland, Calif.’s Bare Wires, dropped today via Southpaw Records, and this album is essentially the manifestation of feeling cool. There’s rolling unencumbered down the highway with your windows down, there’s walking down the street in a pair of jeans that fits perfectly, there’s making eyes through the crowd with the dreamiest girl/guy at a party, and there’s stuff that sounds like this. These tunes exist at the juncture of powerpop, early glam rock, ’77-style punk and classic bubblegum pop (which isn’t a stretch to imagine, considering the sonic characteristics of those subgenres aren’t exactly mutually exclusive), with the whole thing rolled up in a crispy analog mid-fi package. There’s strut and swagger aplenty here, especially in main Bare Wire Matthew Melton’s guitar licks, which echo old rockabilly and early ’60s West Coast rock’n’roll sensibilities, and in his vocals. Melton emphasizes his words with tough-guy confidence, but he never comes close to a shout, and there’s an approachable sweetness in the treble of his voice. There’s definitely a formula at work here, and throughout the course of the album, Bare Wires hardly deviates from it. But if you like the sound of a staccato electric guitar thrum and a snare-on-every-downbeat drum pattern on the verses that opens up into a big, bashy chorus, you’re in luck. It’s hard to criticize Melton for repeating himself when the songs are so brief and the results are such a goddamned joy and so consistently catchy. If this is sounding like your sort of thing, then it probably is, and Cheap Perfume is worth checking out if you have 25 minutes to spare (seriously, that’s how long the album is). In the meantime, check out the video below for the album’s leadoff and most swaggery track, “Don’t Ever Change.”
Posted in New Release, Videos
Tagged Bare Wires, Cheap Perfume, cool, Don't Ever Change, garage rock, glam rock, new albums, Oakland, powerpop, punk rock, rock'n'roll, Southpaw Records
This is gonna be quick, but: While we were on blog-vacation last week, Miami post-punk/modern psych/art-garage band Young Circles released “Ninety-Nine Percent,” a track inspired by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. And it’s a benefit thing, too — download the single (with digital B-sides “2012,” from their still-really-new Jungle Habits LP, and SLDGHMR’s remix of “2012”) from their Bandcamp page for a mere dollar (or more, if you’d rather), and all funds raised go towards the protests happening in Lower Manhattan. If you’re hoping for a theme song and rallying cry for the now-nationwide “Occupy” upswell, “Ninety-Nine Percent” probably ain’t it. It’s not a fist-pumping anthem, but rather a jumble of ideas that represents the more chaotic, sensory-overload aspect of the protests. But nevertheless, it rocks, damn straight, with its urgent bass rumble, frantic and overdriven vocal, skittering drums and backwards loops, all of it eventually giving way to a 6/8 space-rock sing-along. As protest songs go, it’s kind of a spiritual cousin to The Minutemen’s “Paranoid Chant,” an overstimulated yelp that may not be easy to excerpt for T-shirt copy, but that still more or less nails it. You can stream and download the single right here.
For the second time this year, Chicago pop-rock outfit Archie Powell & The Exports have dropped a new music video totally fitting the vibe of the season. Back in April, we shared with you their video for the title track of their Skip Work LP, a little powerpop gem perfect for soundtracking the act of kicking the doors open and running out into the sun-drenched streets. Now, in October, they’re offering something decidedly more autumnal in “The Darndest Things:” Over a loping, downright countryish acoustic-guitar-and-piano-driven beat, Powell sings about a troubled romance that’s reached a curious impasse, “caught in an avalanche,” even. As the track plays out, it’s clear his chosen metaphor kind of overstates the scenario — there’s a gradual sonic build, one he and his bandmates do so well, with each progressive verse and chorus, until the electric powerchords kick in for the bridge and it’s clear that no matter what’s going on between this guy and his boo, he still has plenty of fight in him. Come to think of it, that makes the video’s image of Powell smashing an acoustic guitar on the floor, only to have golden confetti explode out of its body, a really appropriate one. Powell’s no revolutionary artist, but here, as in the aforementioned “Skip Work” single, he’s so damned likable and relatable, and his mastery of the classic pop song structure is so satisfying, it’s easy to root for the guy. Check the video below.
Archie Powell & The Exports are currently on a tour they’ve dubbed “Tourranosaurus,” and they have a couple of CMJ shows (Tue., Oct. 18 at Spike Hill in Brooklyn, and Sat., Oct. 22 at Arlene’s Grocery in Manhattan), bookending gigs in New Jersey and Delaware, before they head back to Chicago. Check the band’s website for all those dates.