Monthly Archives: March 2014

UK DIY group Martha is worthy of your attention

The indie-pop band Martha gelled in 2011 in a place called Pity Me — seriously.

Martha- Courting Strong

Looks like this kid, apparently stuck in suburbia, wants to flip you off, no?

Pity Me is a suburban village of Durham, in the North East of England. The Oxford Dictionary of British Names states it’s: “a whimsical name bestowed in the 19th century on a place considered desolate, exposed or difficult to cultivate.” Without touching on its location in England, its so-called misery or its ability to grow tomatoes, the band is giving the tiny town a fresh identity.

Martha’s new album, “Courting Strong,” is loaded with biting punk-rock flavor. In a press release, Martha also credits Scandinavian anarcho noir with helping craft their sound. But while they’ve also been labeled as pop-punk, “Courting Strong” tends to camp out near the indie-DIY style of music.

There’s no one named Martha– just Naomi Griffin on bass and vocals, her brother, Nathan Griffin, on drums and vocals, J. Cairns on guitar and vocals, and Daniel Ellis on guitars and vocals. According to the press release, the moniker appears to be attributed to the name of the last Passenger pigeon.

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Martha is a UK foursome; not at all to be pitied.

It’s got quick hits of punk tales and visceral titles like “Gin and Listerine,” “Bubble in my Bloodstream” and “Dust, Juice, Bones & Hair,” which doesn’t sound as grave as you might think. Heavy bass hooks tangle with bright guitar; the drummer lends a solid presence throughout. All four members offer vocals that eagerly intertwine.

The band offers the right mix of youthful exuberance while adding that necessary touch of boredom, of people frantic to just get out and start life. According to Nathan, “the overarching theme of the album is growing up weird.” Isn’t that how most teens feel anyway?

The title “Courting Strong” is from the song “Gin and Listerine” and can sometimes describe the stage where couples start to get really serious.

Their first single is “1997, Passing in the Hallway,” and relinquishes the days of young love swirling among boring subjects at study hall.

“I’ve been so anemic since you broke the double helix in my heart,” sings Naomi, later adding, “I promise that I’m worthy of your attention, after school, there’s a pub across the street…” Its infectious jumpy chorus is a snug fit for small venues packed with sweaty teens.

According to BrooklynVegan.com, the band will play at Cake Shop May 29 as part of  NYC Popfest. Visit their website to get a cool download of music from the 2013 Popfest.

When so many bands these days meet up, record, then lose the spark, Martha has a chemistry and cohesiveness that brings the glowing promise of longevity.

“Courting Strong”  is due out May 26 on Fortuna Pop! records. Listen to “1997, Passing in the Hallway.”

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Filed under anarcho noir, DIY, Indie, News, Punk, Punk-rock, Review

Record Store Day 2014: From Singapore to Nirvana

The buzz about this year’s Record Store Day has been simmering for months. Everyone wants to jump on the reissue bandwagon, and they should, for good reason: Vinyl continues its upward climb after its heyday up to the early 80s. It never really went away; a new generation continues to clue in to its value–  its pristine sound quality and an intangibility that mp3s only wish they had. Plus, the fact that we can finally get Nirvana’s 7″ single of “Pennyroyal Tea/I Hate Myself and Want to Die”— which never made it off the ground in 1994 due to Kurt Cobain’s death—- is reason enough to pay attention to this holiday.

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The Record Store Day list was released Thursday and you’ll need at least two weeks to go through it all. More blog posts to come. Priorities: Figure out now what you want, and out how much money is left in your bank account to pay for all of it.

Among the tasty gifts this year– releases from David Bowie, LCD Soundsystem, Foals, Cults, Chvrches, Coldplay, Cure + Dino Jr., Veruca Salt, Cut Copy, Cage the Elephant, Velvet Underground, Death Cab for Cutie, DEVO, Haim……. The list is laden– everything from the Everly Brothers to Genesis to the Doors to Dolly Parton. Piles and piles of artist compilations, live concerts and re-releases.

Some highlights:

• The seminal band Joy Division will release their debut album “An Ideal for Living.” The 1978 album, remastered at Abbey Road Studios, will drop via Rhino Records April 19.

• Devo is planning a triple threat: “Live at Max’s Kansas City” from Nov. 15, 1977 on 12″ vinyl, Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig on DVD, and Devo partnering with the Flaming Lips.

• The ever-influential Mudhoney will reissue “On Top” on vinyl through Sub Pop. Also, the Sonics will partner with Mudhoney for a 7″ release for “Bad Bettie/I Like It Small” on Muddy Roots.

• Oasis, best friends always, will offer a 12″ of “Supersonic” on Big Brother Records.

• For the lighter-80s alterna-set: Tears for Fears- “Ready Boys and Girls” on TAO.

• Type O Negative will offer “Slow, Deep and Hard” on Metal Blade.

• Green Day plans to cover three platforms: cassette, vinyl and CD. Other punk gems to come: The Ramones- “Meltdown with the Ramones”- on vinyl through Rhino, and “Pissed Jeans: The Very Best of Sub Pop” will be out on 10-inch vinyl.

• It’s official: The weirdest submission on the Record Store Day list: “Pop Yeh Yeh: Psychedelic Rock from Singapore and Malaysia 1964-1970.”

• Just. Stop. Rockabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of David Bowie.

Sub Pop helps you narrow it all down here. Or just visit www.recordstoreday.com. Now.

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Filed under Best of, Features, Indie, News, Punk, Punk-rock

No fooling– Kim Deal’s got more up her sleeve with “The Root”

Kim Deal, former bassist and vocalist with the Pixies, then frontwoman for the Breeders, can pick out happy guitar hooks like they’re candy. Her garage-rock grunge-punk style is her trademark.

Deal has been working on her ‘Solo Series’ of late, releasing a couple songs every so often. For the fourth installment, she’s collaborated with her friend Morgan Nagler, who had given Deal a demo, and the inspiration began.

“The Root,” and its video, is classic Kim– DIY all the way.

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“I’m happy for you, but I feel like crying,” she repeats into a phone cam at Dorothy Lane Market parking lot in Dayton, Ohio. Why she picked the Dorothy Lane Market lot is still a mystery- maybe the name Dorothy lent a vintage-y vibe for her. It could be completely random– that’s more her style. Whatever the reason, she put that gritty little parking lot on the map.

 Deal played most of the instruments on “The Root,” and Nagler takes vocals on “Range On Castle.”

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Both songs will be released on 7-inch white label/black vinyl April 1, but you can also get a digital version. The official release will have artwork by Vaughn Oliver. Oliver is a British graphic designer who’s worked Deal in her Breeders Days– he’s also created artwork for 4AD releases by Lush, Cocteau Twins, Throwing Muses and the Pixies. Version 2 will be a limited release at 1000 copies.

ImageWatch the quickie video for “The Root” here.

If you’re hungry for more, visit kimdealmusic.com.

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Juana Molina to hypnotize a city near you

It’s always good to broaden your horizons. It’s even better to realize it’s still OK to like a musician, even if she doesn’t speak your native language.

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Without even knowing much about electro singer-songwriter Juana Molina, her background is already noteworthy.
Her mother fled to Paris after the Argentine coup d’etat in 1976. She grew up surrounded by music and learned guitar at age 6. Almost all of her songs are in her native Rioplatense Spanish.
Her forward-thinking style of music is entirely original and can’t be forgotten once you’ve heard it. Going her own way suits her well. Notes get manipulated as she sings plainly but smoothly over layers of acoustic guitar notes and distortion. Repeating vocals add a strange sense of urgency.
To further her appeal, she’s collaborated with Chemical Brothers and Deerhoof. Her latest album, Wed 21, came out in late October on Crammed Discs. She’s got five other albums under her belt and will embark on a U.S. tour, making a stop along the way at the cozy Sinclair in Boston on April 14.

Cool fact: Molina has the proud distinction of voicing the Argentine dubbed version of Elastigirl from the movie The Incredibles.

Wed 21

Wed 21

Her music is pretty mysterious, and just this side of ghostly sometimes. Creepy, yes, but that’s how Molina draws you in to her symmetric, unrelenting beats and mesmerizing vocals.

Check out “Sin Guia No” here, and “Eras” here.

April tour dates:

4/9/14 @ Cedar Cultural Center – Minneapolis, MN

4/10/14 @ Old Town School of Folk Music – Chicago, IL

4/14/14 @ The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA

4/15/14 @ Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY

4/16/14 @ Jammin’ Java – Vienna, VA

4/17/14 @ Boot & Saddle – Philadelphia, PA

4/21/14 @ The Triple Door – Seattle, WA

4/22/14 @ Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR

4/24/14 @ The Independent – San Francisco, CA

 

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Filed under Electronic, Folk, Indie, News, Review