Posts Tagged ‘when you motor away’

Emotional Response at When You Motor Away

Punk popping Boyracer has had a long career in the creases of the indie world.  Their work has been released by Slumberland, Sarah, Jigsaw, HHBTM and others, and the band has released over 800 songs sing 1991.  Apparently, that golden pension plan available to all indie rockers have vested, because the Pete Shelly EP is said to be their final release.  While I find that news sad, at least they are going out on a high note.  To be more exact, many high notes, many low notes, some percussion, some snarl, and all of it as loud as you like it.  None of us would have it any other way.

For the Pete Shelly EP, Chief Boyracer Stewart Anderson is joined by his spouse Jen Turrell and guitarist Matt Green.  The title track starts off proceedings with a song that is as close to an anthem as you likely will get with crash pop.  Replay it a few times – you deserve it.  “2nd Wave Mod” is a footstomper with sneering vocals, pounding drums and sawing guitars.  “The Kind of Man You Really Are” features a snaky groove.  Jen takes the lead vocals for the more indie pop, and very tasty, “Jump”.  Play it loud, and play it proud.  Farewells don’t have to be sad.

The record is released by Emotional Response Records, which is a label run by Stewart Anderson and Jen Turrell, who together previously ran the labels 555 Records and Red Square.  You can buy the vinyl or the digital download, and either one gets you two digital bonus tracks.  You can order via Bandcamp, but Stew and Jen advise ordering though their website at the bottom of the post, as it will be less expensive.

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Luxembourg Signal at When You Motor Away

Shelflife Records is one of the most reliably delightful little labels in our universe, so we are always willing to pay attention to one of their releases.  Their latest nugget is the self-titled debut album from The Luxembourg Signal, and guitar pop fans may well judge it to be one of the best releases this autumn.  Treading — or maybe swaggering down — the line between dream pop and shoegaze, with hints of ’90s college rock, this band sounds like a Sarah Records band reborn with the benefit of added power sources and a more mature outlook on songwriting.  And that may be because, more or less, that’s what this band is.  Members Johnny Joyner, Beth Arzy and Brian Espinosa, all of whom were with Sarah Records darling Aberdeen (and Fonda and Trembling Blue Stars), started The Luxembourg Signal with Betsy Moyer and Ginny Pitchford.

The ten tracks on The Luxembourg Signal are emotionally rich thematically and musically.  Arzy’s perpetually youthful vocals remain a sweetly commanding focal point, while the guitars crash, thunder and soar in support.  The previously released second track “Distant Drive” heralded the guitar power that the band would deliver on this recording.  But the band’s depth is revealed by the more pop oriented third and fourth tracks, “Heaven” and “She Loves to Feel the Sun”.   Track five, “First Light”, unspools like a delicious slice of Echo and the Bunnymen or Bauhaus, with shoegaze overdrive.  The sixth and seventh tracks, “Drowning” and “Wishing Pool”, envelope the listener in waves of thick, jangling guitars. “Un-Phased” is a brief and gentle instrumental, and serves as a delightful lead-in to the driving dream pop “We Go On”, which may ultimately be one of many fans’ favorites on this album.  The album closer, “Let It Go” is a surprising and perfectly constructed jam, with near top 40 bounce and a delightful vocal hook wrapped in shoegaze.

The Luxembourg Signal is an LA-based band, although Arzy still resides in the UK so recording time together is limited.  I don’t know what that all means for the future recording output from the band, but I do know that this first effort is amazingly good and I highly recommend it.

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Luxembourg Signal at When You Motor Away

We featured the excellent two-track Distant Drive single from London/Los Angeles project The Luxembourg Signal in late April (link here).  Today, we have for you another song, “We Go On”, and a reminder that the group will release and album later this year.  Save your pennies — we think it will be good.

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Lunchbox at When You Motor Away

Listening to Lunchbox Loves You can be compared to opening an actual lunchbox packed by your mother without consulting you beforehand.  You know that your mother loves you, because she is your mother.  You know that Oakland, California’s Lunchbox loves you, because they told you so in the title to the album.Lunchbox Loves You .  But the core question is whether the contents bear witness to the love.  I certainly can’t speak to the contents of your school lunches, and my lunches weren’t always ready for Master Chef.  However, I think you’ll like the ten course lunch that Tim Brown and Donna McKean have packed for you.  The ingredients include jangle, fuzz, hooks and a good dose of bubblegum for your finishing pleasure.  It is a rush of sounds constructed around Tim’s acoustic and electric guitars and Donna’s bass, with other embellishing touches, and the male/female vocals.  There appears to be a punk foundation to these songs, but the execution is pop with the emphasis on fun.  And to show you how good it is, I didn’t cherry pick songs, I just embedded the first three.  Enjoy!

Click through to check out the embedded tracks.

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Hobbes Fanclub at When You Motor Away

Someone must have been under the impression that I had a landmark birthday on the close horizon (I’m still 29 and holding firm, thank you).  How else to explain finding in my inbox Up At Lagrange from The Hobbes Fanclub?  This is an album that seems to be an ingenious distillation of three of my favorite groups: The Close Lobsters; Teenage Fanclub; and The Jesus and Mary Chain, with a good bit of Ride for good measure.  The album has feedback, jangle, reverb, big hooks and soaring choruses.  It sounds like 1,000 guitars all energetically on task.

It begins with the “Into the Night”, a perfect shoegaze song for driving under the stars with the windows down and the summer breeze blowing your hair — you know, hazy vocals and jangling guitar.  The following “Stay Gold” (stream below) is a jaunty song with upbeat riffs bracketing a simple chorus.  “Your Doubting Heart”, one of my favorites, perfectly marries shoegaze and college rock in fine Close Lobsters style.  Track four, “The Boy From Outer Space” is a soaring Teenage Fanclub-meets-Ride tune, with affecting oohhs and aahhs, and  “I Knew You’d Understand” could be its birth twin.  “Run Into The Sea” hits TJ&MC territory with pulsing percussion, and loud and jangling guitars with a touch of feedback.  There are echos of early Ride in “How Could You Leave Me Like This”.  Track 8, “Outside Myself” is another standout track that that recalls the The Close Lobsters hits that I still regularly find time to play.

Is this cutting edge music?  No, of course not.  But the game here was never to invent, but to thrill.  And thrill it does.  If I did things like make year end lists of top albums, I would include this one.  And because I do make such lists (and publish them), I assure you that Up At Lagrange already has a spot.

The Hobbes Fanclub is Leon (guitar/vocals), Louise (bass/vocals), and Adam (drums), and they reside in Bradford, UK.  Up At Lagrange is available via Shelflife Records in vinyl, digital and CD formats.

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Eureka California at When You Motor Away

Crunch marks the 2nd Eureka California album in 18 months. Their previous album was Big Cats Can Swim – WYMA post here. Like that one, this one has plenty of guitar fuzz and in-the-red vocals from Jake Ward and features the excellent drumming of Marie A. Uhler. They sound like kids who got a lot out of the time they spent listening to every punk and lo-fi postpunk record they could get their hands on – Ramones, Stooges, Replacements… with a healthy dose of power-pop (Peter Case, maybe)… but in synthesizing influences, they put together a distinctive sound. The opening track “Edith (One Day You’ll Live In a Bunker)”, and in fact, several tracks on this record, put me in mind of The Violent Femmes – there’s an unapologetic fury, leavened with a sense of humor and self-deprecation, and the ability to generate a ton of noise, sometimes with nothing more than a drum kit, acoustic guitar and vocals.

I’ve heard a lot to like on their first two albums – not only the irrepressible spirit that Eureka California shares in common with some of those musical precursors, but some real musical talent and the ability to write some catchy guitar hooks. You don’t find that combination every day, so celebrate when you do. It’s on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records, out of Athens.

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Close Lobsters at When You Motor Away

Of course I’m passionate about music, or I wouldn’t be writing for an indie music blog (no, the salary and stock options are not sufficient by themselves).  But some genres and bands extract an extra measure of my passion.  And in the upper strata is the Close Lobsters.  The Paisley, Scotland band issued two albums and an EP of psychedelic/jangle pop in the latter half of the ’80s.  Their songs were excellent, with a sound that may be described as The Clean/The Bats/R.E.M. gone psychedelic with the addition of big college rock guitar hooks.  Although they were considered by many to be a C86 band, their sound was at the more muscular end of that roster, and there is nothing twee about the band or their catalog.  For whatever reasons the members couldn’t agree to continue, and the production and touring stopped in the late ’80s or early ’90s.  In 2009 the excellent singles compilation Forever Until Victory ! The Singles Collection was released (I listen to it regularly), but otherwise the Close Lobstersremained silent.  Then in  2012 they reformed for some festivals and concerts.  For us fans, that wasn’t the desired new music, but at least the band was back, and we always could hope.

And sometimes good things happen to those that wait.  Via the good folks at Shelflife Records, the Close Lobstersare releasing their first new music in over two decades, Kunstwerk in Spacetime.  Consisting of the “Now Time” and the jangling “New York City in Space”, the record makes clear that the guys haven’t lost any of their magic.  Buoyed by a driving rhythm and classic guitar hooks, the lead track slides easily into the top tracks ever recorded by theClose Lobsters.   B-side “New York City in Space” triumphantly plays in the dreamy, jangle pop playground that this band help define.  You listen, you smile, you press repeat. Close Lobsters are still energetic, still melodic, still urgent — there is nothing about this EP that suggests nostalgic reunion.

The digital downloads are available now, but the vinyl may not be read to ship for another couple of weeks.  However, since the physical version is limited to 500 copies, I suggest that you not delay.  These songs might be available on an album in the future, but given the 20 plus year wait, do you want to risk it?

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Tunabunny at When You Motor Away

Athens, GA’s Tunabunny has released Kingdom Technology, their followup to last year’s Genius Fatigue (WYMA review here).

It’s a very good record, and it’s all over the place… there’s dance-rock, guitar-based postpunk, intensely focused krautrock, and throughout, in selected spots, the soaring vocal harmonies that first attracted most folks to their previous records. I get the sense that Tunabunny (Brigette Herron & Mary Jane Hassell) doesn’t particularly care what you call their music, as long as you listen and recommend it to your friends. Which is what I’m about to do.

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Muuy Biien at When You Motor Away

Athens punks Muuy Biien are back – following up on last year’s This Is What Your Mind Imagines (WYMA reviewhere) with an even better, more fully-realized album. D.Y.I. has the bouncing rhythms, slashing guitars and guttural vocals that made their first album so memorable, but the ambient interludes (this time entitled “Cyclothymia” I, II and III) are better, and the music overall is even stronger. “Crispin Noir” in particular is an amazing track, just under 3:00 of constantly changing guitar sounds and a rhythm section that dares you to sit still while listening.

Here is album track “She Bursts”. It’s a good selection as the “single” or advance track, as it contains the irresistible bass line, slashing guitars that drive most of Muuy Biien’s best songs:

Plus, it’s 3:24, long enough to pound you into submission without feeling like they’ve stretched the slightest bit outside their comfort (or discomfort) zone – and to allow for a bit of the ambient stuff at the end, leading into the second “Cyclothymia” interlude.

By the way, the title stands for “Do yourself in” – a statement, taken in concert with track titles like “Human Error”, “White Ego” and “Virus Evolves”, that lends itself to the conclusion that we humans are often our own worst enemy. Josh Evans doesn’t spare himself from the rage that this album throws off…you get the sense that when he’s screaming “be a man/do yourself in” he’s not talking to anybody else, but rather he’s sort of trying to see how far he can push himself and still retain some hope. Of course artists frequently explore unpleasant topics in order to generate emotional reactions, but Evans is really pushing it here… and the results sure grab your attention.

Whatever the genesis of its up-front, powerful emotions – crappy jobs, grueling travel, relationship problems – this is just a hell of an album. In 1977 it would have been a hell of an album, but especially today, with so many punk pose-strikers, Muuy Biien’s D.Y.I. stands out as the real thing. The album is out this week (Apr. 29) in the US, later in May in the UK on HHBTM Records.

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Luxembourg Signal at When You Motor Away

It is excusable to not be familiar with The Luxembourg Signal, but it should interest you to know that the band brings together members of Aberdeen, Fonda and Trembling Blue Stars.  With members in London and Los Angeles, band practice may be a little tougher to arrange than is normal, but the results crafted by Johnny Joyner, Beth Arzy, Brian Espinosa, Betsy Moyer and Ginny Pitchford are sublime.  Distant Drive is but a two-track single consisting of the title track — which is likely to be on many summer playlists — and “Wishing Pool”.  The record is released on April 22 by Shelflife Records as a limited edition 7″ vinyl and as a digital copy. Shelflife will be releasing a full LP for The Luxembourg Signal later this year.

The touchstones of dream pop and C86 are evident, but based on the these tracks The Luxembourg Signal is a noisier, more muscular brand of guitar pop than fans of the members’ other band might expect — perhaps more Popguns that Trembling Blue Stars.  And once you hear it, you will have no complaints whatsoever.  This could well be one of your new favorite bands.

 

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