Parquet Courts have just announced their fifth album, Wide Awake!, which will be released on May 18th via Rough Trade. Parquet Courts have been crazy consistent with solid output record after record which includes A. Savage’s excellent solo outing Thawing Dawn. The new record was produced by Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, so it is a risk that should make fans nervous but after hearing today’s Friday Fire Track – maybe not.
“Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience” is a thrill ride that shines a spotlight on the tight songwriting of A. Savage and Austin Brown. The lyrics flow flawless as the lean punk groove that only Parquet Courts can create gels these two songs (parts) together. The best moment comes when “Almost Had To Start A Fight” transitions into “In And Out Of Patience.” The beat changes, the tempo changes and the vocals get turned up a notch. All of this happens though and it works as one song. After there is only one thing to do – play it again. Enjoy your Friday!
Parquet Courts Website
Rough Trade Records
Who: Based in Austin, Texas, Hovvdy (pronounced “howdy”) is the writing and recording project of Charlie Martin and Will Taylor. The duo, both primarily drummers, first met in the fall of 2014 and quickly bonded over a love for quiet music. Cranberry is their sophomore record.
Sound: If you are into current soft intricate warm jangly rock like Ultimate Painting, Pinegrove, (Sandy) Alex G or past favorites such as Low and Yo La Tengo then Hovvdy should be a great new listen for you to check out.
TFN Final Take: Pacing is everything and on Hovvdy’s sophomore record, Cranberry, the Austin duo of Charlie Martin and Will Taylor take you on a soft ride through 12 new tracks over 33 minutes. These disguised pop tunes have a way to get in your head with every well-placed strum of guitar, every stroke of the keys and every soft hit of the skins. This gentle wave is Hovvdy’s success because the record never tires even though the group maintains a very similar mood and execution through the entire album. What I really liked about Cranberry is the subtle bit of haze that Hovvdy places over their layered vocals. They are a little bit lo-fi and a little bit bedroom pop that consistently pulls a catchy tune together. Hovvdy is a band to just put on, relax and let Cranberry take you to another place.
Double Double Whammy Records
– Reviewed by Thomas Wilde
Let us introduce you to Ampline. Kevin Schmidt, Rick McCarty and Mike Montgomery have been writing, recording and touring as Ampline since 2001. This veteran act just released their fifth full length album, Passion Relapse, on January 26th via SofaBurn Records.
You also might recognize Mike Montgomery from another band we enjoy, as he along with The Breeders’ Kelley Deal, is currently a member of the duo, R.Ring which released their excellent debut Ignite The Rest last year.
Today’s Friday Fire Track, “Captions” gives you a great example of Ampline’s gritty style of rock. The group is clearly from a different era as “Captions” has a very Wash DC groove like Jawbox and the Dischord Records catalog plus some comparison to Hüsker Dü and Hum. The song is aggressive with an edge that is all business. Enjoy your Friday!
Fire Note Says: Car Seat Headrest give the original 2011 Twin Fantasy a shot of rock adrenaline.
Album Review: Twin Fantasy is a re-recorded, re-imagined new version of Will Toledo’s 2011 self-released Bandcamp record of the same name. Toledo will for sure take some critical hits for this as many were waiting for the proper follow up to the excellent (and TFN #1 2016 record) Teens of Denial. Sure, I was initially disappointed about this approach as well but when you take a step back and hear the new version of Twin Fantasy you will get it.
Toledo’s 2011 version was recorded at age nineteen on an inexpensive laptop and follows his DIY lo-fi approach. It works and is a solid record but now Car Seat Headrest has taken those ten (already good) songs and given them a mobile fidelity type of range that gives each track an entire new depth and life. The full band approach enables each song to explode like the rock song shoes they were originally meant to fill. According to Toledo, he took eight months of mixing just to get the drums right on this new version so you know that this project is not a throwaway.
What I like on the newly re-imagined Twin Fantasy is how everything is cleaner. Being a big fan of lo-fi groups, that is a hard statement for me to make but this record doesn’t lose any of its innocence from the bigger sound. Where before, I think lo-fi for Bandcamp Car Seat Headrest sometimes meant compressing the vocals, guitar and drums. This soaring difference can be heard right away on the first track “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)” as the layered vocals now swirl around the listener for a different experience. The acoustic guitar on the 1:30 simple song “Stop Smoking (We Love You)” now has a true strum and when Toledo pleads “we don’t want you to die,” the song is able to focus in on the seriousness of his vocals. One noticeable lyric change on the record is on the rocker “Cute Thing” when Toledo now sings “God give me Frank Ocean’s voice and James Brown’s stage presence which replaces the original lyric which was “give me Dan Bejar’s (Destroyer, Wolf Parade) voice and John Entwistle’s (The Who) stage presence.” Appealing more to the masses? New heroes? Who knows but only the dedicated will notice. I also liked here how the track listing remains the same and Twin Fantasy is now a bit longer with some of the expanded arrangements.
Fans that have been there from the beginning might have some issues getting into this new version but if you remember Car Seat Headrest’s Matador debut, Teens of Style (2015), collected and re-recorded old tunes as well. The band’s current and expanded fanbase should completely love this record. The album was already great and now it has been tuned up for the seven-piece band to hit the road. Every track soars higher and wider and should get the maximum volume. What the project may lack in originality it earns back all respect with execution because Twin Fantasy for sure will be one of the bigger guitar records you hear this year.
Key Tracks: “Cute Thing” / “Stop Smoking (We Love You)” / “Sober To Death”
Artists With Similar Fire: Cloud Nothings / Ron Gallo / The Strokes
Car Seat Headrest Website
Car Seat Headrest Facebook
– Reviewed by Thomas Wilde
Pale Kids new track, “St. Theresa” is the perfect power pop punk rocker to get your Friday cruising. This track is from their forthcoming release, Hesitater, which is a new three-song EP out March 23 via Father/Daughter Records.
Durham, England’s Pale Kids have been releasing an assortment of splits and EPs since 2016 but one spin of the Friday Fire Track today and you will hear how they have quickly progressed as artists. “St. Theresa” should appeal to the masses that experienced a religious upbringing and now question some of those ideas. Of course, Pale Kids handle the topic with an explosive melody that will stick in your head. Enjoy your Friday!
Pale Kids Website
Pale Kids Facebook
Who: Sunwatchers are a New York-based ensemble (featuring current & former members of NYMPH, Dark Meat, Chris Forsyth’s Solar Motel Band & Arthur Doyle’s New Quiet Screamers) that offer a combination of avant-jazz, punk, psychedelia, Ethio-jazz and desert blues. II is their sophomore record and the follow up to their 2016 self-titled debut on Castle Face Records.
Sound: This instrumental band takes you on a ride that hits all kinds of genres that includes funk, Ethiopian and Thai music. Fans of world music-based groups like Group Doueh and Sun City Girls, multi-instrumentalist artists as well as Thee Oh Sees and King Gizzard will like this record.
TFN Final Take: “SUNWATCHERS STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE DISPOSSESSED, IMPOVERISHED AND EMBATTLED PEOPLE OF THE WORLD”. These are the words that are boldly displayed on the front cover for Sunwatchers sophomore album, II. It is a directive to all how deep their multi-universal music runs. Their message is really driven home on the over nine-minute “There Are Weapons You Can Bring To School” that when listened to it absolutely does not matter what language you speak because everyone will get it. The scorching upbeat “Silent Boogie” is a true highlight as saxophones and guitars go to battle and reach a compromise where both can exist on the same plain. This blending of instruments on II delivers Sunwatchers message flawlessly. This album won’t be for everyone given its instrumental tour but if you are looking to branch out and have liked King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s work with Mild High Club or some of the more experimental John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees, Damaged Bug) offerings then Sunwatchers is worth checking out.
Trouble In Mind Records
– Reviewed by Thomas Wilde
Durand Jones & The Indications will be be getting a deluxe version reissue of their 2016 self-titled debut album on March 16 via Dead Oceans/Colemine Records. Along with the album, the deluxe version will contain a digital version of Durand Jones and The Indications Live Vol. 1 making it worth the revisit. The vinyl is also getting a nice new limited color pressing and the bundle choice comes with a bonus 7″. You can find those at Dead Oceans HERE.
In support of the release, the band released this new video for “Smile” and will extensively tour the U.S. and Europe. All the dates are below.
DURAND JONES AND THE INDICATIONS LIVE
March 12-18—Austin, TX—SXSW
March 19—San Antonio, TX—Paper Tiger
March 22—Santa Fe, NM—Santa Fe Brewing Company
March 23 —Phoenix, AZ—Valley Bar
March 24—San Diego, CA—Soda Bar
March 27—Los Angeles, CA—Troubadour
March 29—San Francisco, CA—The Independent
March 30—Visalia, CA—Cellar Door
March 31—Santa Cruz, CA—The Catalyst Atrium
April 2—Portland, OR—Doug Fir Lounge
April 3—Seattle, WA—Barboza
April 5—Boise, ID—The Olympic
April 6—Salt Lake City, UT—The State Room
April 7—Denver, CO—Larimer Lounge
April 8—Kansas City, MO—recordBar
April 9—Davenport, IA—The Raccoon Motel
April 11—Minneapolis, MN—7th Street Entry
April 12—Madison, WI—The Frequency
April 13—Chicago, IL—Lincoln Hall
April 14—Detroit, MI—Underground @ DIME
April 15—Columbus, OH—The Basement
April 17—Indianapolis, IN—The Hi-Fi
April 18—Cincinnati, OH—Woodward
April 19—Nashville, TN—The Basement East
April 20—Birmingham, AL—WorkPlay
April 21—Atlanta, GA—Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 23—Carrboro, NC—Cat’s Cradle – Back Room
April 24—Asheville, NC—The Mothlight
April 25—Baltimore, MD—Ottobar
April 26—Philadelphia, PA—World Cafe Live – Upstairs
April 27—New York, NY—Music Hall of Williamsburg
April 28—Boston, MA—Brighton Music Hall
May 3—Stockholm, Sweden—Debaser Strand
May 4—Copenhagen, Denmark—Pumperhuset
May 7—Berlin, Germany—Privatclub
May 8—Cologne, Germany—Blue Shell
May 10—Amsterdam, Holland—Paradiso upstairs
May 11—Brussels, Belgium—AB Club
May 12—Paris, France—Les Etoiles
May 14—Glasgow, Scotland—Stereo
May 15—Manchester, UK— Gullivers
May 16—London, UK—The Waiting Room
May 17-19—Brighton, UK—The Great Escape
May 27—Napa, CA—BottleRock
July 7—Manchester, TN—Bonnaroo
If you missed last year’s full on rock assault album from Oakland’s Feral Ohms then shame on you! The album was fantastic and now you have a chance to grab the group’s first four vinyl 7″ singles plus some extras in one nice looking box.
The set includes the first four vinyl 7″ singles and a 5th flexi-disk with “We Repel Each Other” that is exclusive to this box set. The set also comes with heavy duty “note” cards with the origins and stories of each single. All box art and note cards are hand screen-printed. This handmade release is a Limited Edition of 150 sets.
You can still grab one HERE.
Who: Christchurch, New Zealand band Salad Boys return with their sophomore record This Is Glue. The album follows their well received 2015 debut Metalmania.
Sound: This Is Glue has plenty of riffs and melodies that are slightly fuzzed up with that New Zealand sound like The Bats and The Chills as lead singer Joe Sampson has a voice that is an interesting mix of a Bob Mould, Norman Blake and Chris Knox.
TFN Final Take: This Is Glue from the Salad Boys does not try to recreate any new wheel here as the record is a low-key jangle pop of a record that has a very “alternative” New Zealand sound which can be found on many Flying Nun releases. This home recording and slightly lo-fi sound works for the seasoned voice of Joe Sampson that drives these tracks just below the instruments. The entire swirl mixes all the parts with memorable riffs and big rock out moments.
Songs like “Under The Bed” and “Psych Slasher” have times when they bust out and where you just want to roll down the windows in the car and crank the volume up. The only real drawback I can find on This Is Glue is that its almost 45-minute running time feels a bit long as some ideas and sounds repeat themselves. Overall though, Salad Boys have a record that will play to fans of Big Star, Bob Mould and their hometown heroes The Bats. This style of rock never gets old and Salad Boys keep the genre rolling with This Is Glue.
Salad Boys Website
Salad Boys Facebook
Trouble In Mind Records
– Reviewed by Thomas Wilde
Who: Starcrawler are a 4-piece band from Los Angeles California and their self-titled debut was produced by Ryan Adams. The members are lead vocalist Arrow de Wilde, guitarist Henri Cash, drummer Austin Smith and bassist Tim Franco. The youngest member is 16 and the oldest is 22.
Sound: Starcrawler give you an unpolished rock n roll bash that goes back to the times of the Cramps or Runaways with a 90’s alternative edge like early Hole or L7.
TFN Final Take: Starcrawler’s debut will take you back to a time when rock was simple. Big guitars, big riffs, big lead vocals and plenty of attitude. This young group has all of those components and seriously turn up the volume dial. In a time when hip-hop and electronic groups are surging, Starcrawler is a complete throwback and at this point almost anti-commercial.
Starcrawler will not only have you thinking Stooges but possibly Alice Cooper. The care free attitude is here but lead singer Arrow de Wilde is bigger than the record and she shines on every track while the guitar and drums pulse a classic sound in every good way you can imagine. With swagger songs like “Pussy Tower” and “Chicken Woman” that are in your face lyrically, big rockers such as “Let Her Be” and “Different Angles” and the power ballad “Tears” near the end of the album, Starcrawler check off all the rock clichés in a good way.
For those that know producer Ryan Adams beyond his mostly roots rock catalog know that he is into classic pinball machines and Iron Maiden. It is no surprise he is involved with Starcrawler as they seem like the band he would front if he had a chance to do it all over again. What I liked about Starcrawler is that the album is under 30 minutes and one spin of “I Love LA” will give you the picture with its guitar solo, pounding drums and memorable chorus that will have you thinking Southern California before you can hit replay. Starcrawler will rock you!
– Reviewed by Thomas Wilde