English Beat – Here We Go Love (CD)

It’s been more than 35 years since the Dave Wakeling-fronted group, The English Beat (known outside of Canada and the U.S. as simply The Beat) last put out a record of new music. Maybe it’s the fact that the band has been touring fairly frequently for the better part of the last decade – and still putting on an amazing show, by the way – but it’s hard to believe it’s been this long since Wakeling and his crew last put out an LP. Continue reading “English Beat – Here We Go Love (CD)”

Liz Phair – Whip-Smart; Whitechocolatespaceegg; Liz Phair (Vinyl Re-releases)

In 1994, Liz Phair was coming off of one of the most critically-lauded debuts of the decade. With expectations set incredibly high, she put out the follow up, Whip-Smart, just 15 months later and while she could never escape the comparisons to Exile in Guyville, decades later, that second album still remains a gem. UMe, alongside Capitol is finally re-releasing a trio of Phair records from her time with Capitol. Continue reading “Liz Phair – Whip-Smart; Whitechocolatespaceegg; Liz Phair (Vinyl Re-releases)”

Zuider Zee – Zeenith (Light in the Attic Records)

There are sadly way too many stories out there similar to the tale of the boys in Zuider Zee. A Memphis-based power pop band that started recording in the early 1970s, Columbia Records released their one and only album in 1975, a self-titled LP that should have been big, considering the success of other power pop like Cheap Trick, Badfinger and The Raspberries. The band also curiously opened for the Sex Pistol in Memphis – one of only a handful of U.S. shows before Johnny Rotten and his pals saw their band implode spectacularly just a few shows later. But, Columbia never even bothered to release a Zuider Zee single to radio. Combine that label apathy with a bizarre stabbing of their bassist as he caught thieves trying to break into their van to steal equipment, Zuider Zee dissolved by the late ‘70s.   Continue reading “Zuider Zee – Zeenith (Light in the Attic Records)”

John Paul Keith – Heart Shaped Shadow

Memphis-based roots rocker John Paul Keith has been on quite a tear lately. On the same day he turned in a full length with his band Motel Mirrors, he also released another 12-track solo record. And neither album seems to have taken a backseat to the other. Continue reading “John Paul Keith – Heart Shaped Shadow”

Deecracks – Sonic Delusions (Vinyl)

The Austrian punk trio Deecracks have been slogging it out in basement parties and clubs for 15 years now, all the while adhering to a strong DIY ethos that saw them self-releasing most of their records, when they weren’t booking their own shows across the globe. Indie Street Punk/Oi stalwart Pirate Press jumped in and offered to release the band’s latest, Sonic Delusions, giving the band a better shot at exposure in the U.S. And just a couple of songs in, it’s clear what Pirate Press saw in the band. Continue reading “Deecracks – Sonic Delusions (Vinyl)”

Parker Millsap – Other Arrangements (CD)

Over the course of four records, Oklahoma native Parker Millsap has managed to deliver four distinctly remarkable albums without retreading much on his own musical ground. Continue reading “Parker Millsap – Other Arrangements (CD)”

Hi Lo Ha – Ain’t Gone Tonight

It’s pretty apt that the San Francisco Indie rock band Hi Lo Ha decided to borrow the name of Dylan’s Woodstock, New York home for their moniker. The group manages to draw deep inspiration from Dylan’s onetime backing musicians The Band for their Ain’t Gone Tonight EP. But far from being just another band stuck in the ‘60s, they also bring in some modern influences to round out their sound – bands like Wilco and Dr. Dog. The result is a fantastic blend of folk and rock, perfectly melding lush arrangements (“Cold Weather Clothes”) with more straight-up rock guitars (“Radio”) and Soulful jams (“Thinking ‘Bout a Friend”). Continue reading “Hi Lo Ha – Ain’t Gone Tonight”

The Underhill Family Orchestra – Tell Me That You Love Me (CD)

Sometime in the past few years, someone made the decision that modern rock bands were free to add liberal amounts of funk, soul and creativity to their sound and (thankfully) the floodgates seem to have finally opened. On the heels of some of the great eclectic Americana, folk and R&B musicians that seem to have surfaced from nowhere – folks like Nathaniel Rateliff, The Wood Brothers and Shovels & Rope – Alabama’s The Underhill Family Orchestra add their impressive 5-part vocal arrangements to the bill. Continue reading “The Underhill Family Orchestra – Tell Me That You Love Me (CD)”

The Clash: All The Albums, All The Songs

The Clash’s record label once dubbed the group as “the only band that matters” in the promotional materials introducing them to the U.S. and while the phrase was certainly polarizing at the time, you can’t help but find their influence stronger today than ever before. Whether it was adding strong, sing-able melodies to punk rock – heard in bands like Green Day and every Green Day clone since; their strong political lyrics, since adopted by everyone from Bad Religion to the Manic Street Preachers; or their mix of ska and Reggae to punk rock on their second and third albums, pretty much handing Rancid their musical template, The Clash is just as relevant 30 years after their demise. Continue reading “The Clash: All The Albums, All The Songs”

Shakey Graves – Can’t Wake Up

Shakey Graves (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) had only been in the public eye for about a year in 2012 when the mayor of Austin proclaimed February 9th, “Shakey Graves Day.” A hell of an achievement so soon out of the gate, but six years and several albums later, Garcia is still living up to the hype. Continue reading “Shakey Graves – Can’t Wake Up”