Bob has been writing and performing under the moniker Bob Villain for some time now; and while I have yet to see him play live from what I’ve been told it’s truly a sight to be seen as he apparently shredded it up nicely at the Velvet Lounge in DC some time ago. This release was put out on the Seven1878 Imprint label based in Strasburg, VA. His singer/songwriter style evokes visions of one of his main influences in Evan Dando (Lemonheads) but on “Dark Side of the Room” he reaches out for a more experimental and abstract path. Often his lyrics evoke a range of emotions but always convey a certain raw quality which so many of the slickly produced pop sensation crap lacks in earnest. The recording quality is definitely above the standard bearers one expects from the apartment / basement scenes which is a great change of pace. His voice traverses from an edgy howl to a gruff melodic style throughout the album. He adds elements of harmonica to his rhythm guitar. What’s perhaps most compelling is that unlike so many singer/songwriters who pepper their album with a handful of punts, all of the songs on this quick listen are tight, well-written, and seem rather like a natural fit for his style – nothing’s forced at all. The honest approach is evident throughout and the album also features a collaboration with labelmate Christopher Feltner. Well done and I’m looking forward to a live show and a follow-up. Hit him up on his facebook and peep his bandcamp now.
Toronto-born Scott Lanaway decided to take everything he loved about music, melt it down, and create his own silver bullet. “Mergers & Acquisitions” is the fruit of this labor. Granted this is sophomore release, it still feels like a birth. The songs and sounds contained are so well thought-out, planned, and composed that it feels like it was the work of a debut simply because the majority of songwriter’s best songs are created as their first body of work rather than their second or later efforts. “Oprah, God Wants You to Have a Private Jet” shows Lanaway doesn’t need to be cornered amid the subject matter of his songs that are often mind-wandering noodles and thoughts of love, death, time, the mind, and everything in between. His textures are sprinkled with electronica and acoustic vibes that are just unbelievable and uninhibited. He bares his soul, unafraid to let anyone in to peer in curiosity at what this creature is thinking and doing. Beautiful, please pick it up and tell him I sent you.
Phil Western and Mark Spybey together again! Well at least for two tracks that is. Dead Voices on Air, one of Spybey’s many projects, once again takes us to new and exotic locations. Amid their album photography on the digipak we’re whisked to far-off Argentina amid the beautiful landscape of Patagonia taken by Argentinean artist Marco Roberti. In addition to his collaboration with Western, Spybey enlists American-Serbian singer Ivana Salipur to assist on the title track, a track that is inspired by the Serbian poet Desanka Maksimovic, a poet perhaps most famous for poems regarding the atrocities committed by German soldiers during World War II. The album is Dead Voice on Air’s 14th and their 2nd collection released on seminal Lens Records. Songs range from ethnic world ambience to experimental to pure relaxing ambient. I’m constantly amazed at how Spybey and likeminded audiences are able to create such intense ambient pieces that just ooze attention-grabbing passion. Yet another notch on the proverbial belt of essential for DVOA.
Pop-punk rockers The Early Strike armed with their female and male vocal assault are here with a catchy new album called “Ten Outta Ten”. While only their sophomore release, it’s surprisingly well-written and entertaining. “Ten Outta Ten” brings back lots of memories of past pop-punk bands from the turn of the century – gosh that makes it sound old even though we’re talking ten or so years huh? Sugary sweet melodies and entertaining lyrics, producer David J. Holman (Bush, No Doubt) was able to help The Early Strike have flecks of New Found Glory, The Ataris, Saves the Day, and Something Corporate.
Charlottesville, Virginia natives Moonshine Hooligans write fun mixtures of mountain folk, indie pop, and psychedelic rock. “Subterranean Secrets” started as a writing session inspired by a test batch of moonshine whiskey. Amazing they were able to write quite sobering music using such varied instruments as a Moog synthesizer, Mellotron, Hammond organ, fiddle, cello, banjo, mandolin, celeste, harmonium, piano, drums, bass, and guitar. The songwriting is filled to the brim with fascinating tales you could hear whispered and gossiped at the local feed store. Fans of alt-country should most definitely own this album.
They have songs that hit. They have songs that miss. But when they hit, they’re homeruns. Solar Temple Suicides crush a space rock journey unlike no other on “How the Sphere, Having in Vain Tried Words, Resorted to Deeds”; its melancholic guitar lick reminds me of something that The Cure wrote one sad rainy day only to have Explosions in the Sky jiggle the handle a bit and I could listen to it all day (they make it easy given that it’s over 8 minutes in length). You can hear influences from groups as diverse as My Bloody Valentine, the two aforementioned bands, and Spacemen 3. “Quite Like Sin” is another great guitar-driven tune that journeys between the druggy haze of acid rock and shoegaze.
After all these years, I’m super stoked that Moes Haven is still doing what they do. Lo-fi creativity wrapped in bubblegum lyrics and a damn awesome amount of creativity, Moes Haven has a ton of accomplishments next to their name including a 24-disc album that runs an entire day, over 1500 songs to their credit, and a career that has spanned a decade and a half. Have they made tons of money? No. Are they super famous? No. So what. What Moes Haven is, is an awesome indie rock band that sheds all stereotypes and just flat out writes songs. Not everyone is a hit but you’d be surprised to find out that the vast majority of them are damn well-written singer/songwriter masterpieces. For “Stromboli’s Alarm Clock” they wrote 200 songs, choosing the most polished and then set about recording them. Matt Farley (keyboards, vocals) and Tom Scalzo (guitars) once again deliver a fun-filled album that begs repeated listens and most importantly inspires even an old jaded dude like myself to reassemble the DIY studio in the basement. Thanks guys!
The original “Dub Side of the Moon” was released in 2003 as a homage to Pink Floyd’s legendary and essential iconic “Dark Side of the Moon”. It spent an incredible 7 years on the Billboard Charts having sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. Here, Easy Star All-Stars have assembled a re-interpretation of that heavy bass reggae dub remix collection featuring a unique dub producer taking their shot at spacey dub. Today’s dub is a burgeoning genre with influence as wide ranging as the old school classic Jamaican reggae dubs and b-side mixologists, bass-heavy groove, roots reggae kinks, and now more on the techno flip dub-step. 10 Ft Ganja Plant and Dubmatrix are two artists that lend a hand towards roots dub. Groove Corporation grasps a futuristic re-rub for “Time”. Alchemist’s remix of “Money” is perfect groovy dub-step where the bass cascades with spooky synth stabs and tons of reverb. Adrian Sherwood’s use of echo is just flabbergasting – I swear the sound bounced off my sound system reverberating off of my vital organs. However the true gem on the album is from little known Kalbata. Signed to Soul Jazz Records, Kalbata is Israeli-born and his “Any Colour You Like” is a four-minute shuffle of tech-step rhythms lightened with modular synth noise and shimmies of electro funk. Add in the four bonus tracks and you have yourself a healthy dose of some of the best dub covers you’ll ever hear. Essential.