June 29, 2010

Carrying the flag of Brit-Pop-Punk

Britpop may technically be dead and gone with the end of the 20th century, but the sound seems to me to be alive and well. There are a lew of contemporary bands that embody Britpop in a way mostly akin to the original 90s sound of Blur, Oasis, Elastica, Supergrass . To varying degrees, the original Britpop bands always displayed a great interest in the original sixties power pop sounds of The Who, The Small Faces and The Kinks, and equally to later British punk and post-punk bands, primarily The Jam. Indeed, jam frontman Paul Weller rode this love of mod sounds and imagery to the pinnacle while reviving his career in the mid-90s, and he's been sitting atop the British music scene, and the UK Charts, pretty solidly ever since. (He's the top British Pop you might say.)

The bands that get tagged as most likley to be Britpop successors these days are sometimes right in line with that original sense of the scene, while others have a adopted a more modern and garage rock approach. And still others aren't British at all, but seem to have the sound down pat (think Mando Diao). Its somewhere in the middle of all that where I think The Paddingtons fall on the spectrum. They have momentary flashes of sixties sensibility, an aggressive punk like approach, and a thoroughly British, power pop sound.

The Paddingtons recently released their most ambitious recording to date, The Lady Boy Tapes. It's a five song EP that is obviously influenced by the most notable Britpop sounding music of the last couple of decades. But at times there are other influences bouncing around in their sound, most obvious of which is Weezer, and to a lesser extent Presidents Of The United States of America.

The EP opens, and later closes, with the band's best work to date. "Consequences" opens things up with the most modern, and still Brit poppiest, track here included. The vocals are tight both in sound and style, and the guitars shift seemlessly between crunchy and psychadelic. Wrapping things up you get the pogo-inducing "Wrong Un", a drum driven story about love gone bad. It's what in between that is least impressive (no pun intended). The track that's getting the most promotion and attention is the title track, "Lady Boy" featuring none other than the too-clever-by-half Adam Greene of Moldy Peaches fame. As you might gather the song has all the sophmoric innuendo and clever sexual rhymes that Greene is known for (but for which The Paddingtons aren't) although he seems unclear whether he's fallen into a tryst with a she-male or a hermaphrodite. No matter, Greene's presence is out of synch with the rest of the album in sound, tone and style. Had the band simply let Greene release "Lady Boy" on his own with them backing him up, it would have been better for all involved. Still, the release is worth it if only for the above average "Consequences" and "Wrong Un".

The Paddingtons -- Wrong Un(2010)

June 27, 2010

Modcast #170: New To You

This week's modcast is jam packed with all new songs for you. That's right these are all 2010 releases; brand new bands and brand new songs. Or, at the least brand new songs, since some are from old friends like The Vibrators, Hot Hot Heat, Bubblegum Lemonade and even Devo. Hopefully there'll be a few new treats here for you.

Listen Now

The Like -- He's Not A Boy (2010)
The Vibrators -- Fried On Booze (2010)
The Twistaroos -- (Let's Go) Where The Action Is (2010)
The Young Veins -- Change (2010)
Robbers On High Street -- Electric Eye (2010)
Jeremy Jay -- Just Dial My Number (2010)
The Hurries -- Not That Easy (2010)
The Mantles -- Cascades (2010)
Bubblegum Lemonade -- Caroline's Radio (2010)
Hot Hot Heat -- 21@12 (2010)
Devo -- What We Do (2010)

Bubblegum Lemonade - I'll Never Be Yours

The Young Veins - Take a Vacation (Last.fm Sessions)

The Like - He's Not A Boy

June 24, 2010

The Above are ... well ... da bomb

From the very first chords of "What She Said" by Brooklynn's The Above you know you're in for some blistering sixties styled R&B power pop. The Above would fit right in at any 1967 freakbeat show, or at any of the legendary Sounds of the Sixties festivals during the 80s, or pretty much anywhere cool music is appreciated these days.

They have all the charm and sweetness that you could want from a band that is recreating classic sixties sound, but don't let that fool you. There's nothing nice nor easy about The Above's new self-titled album, which runs from spiky edged Standells-like sixties punk to mod atmospheric power pop ala The Creation. The band switches gears between rough-edged R&B and a more radio-friendly pop sound with ease. There are crunchy guitars galore, swirling psychadelic organ sounds, and even ocassional Beach Boysesque vocal harmonizing.

For me a couple of the standout tracks pop up early on the disk, "Bollywood Woman" and the very cool, fuzzed out and bluesy "Walked Out On Me". And then later you get "Act Your Age", a great mod track that could have come right off a Small Faces album complete with harmonica and some driving organ the kind Ian Mclagan used to whip up.

The Above -- Bollywood Woman(2010)

The Above -- Act Your Age(2010)

The Above - "Don't Believe in the Light"

June 20, 2010

Modcast #169: It Must Be Summer!

Never mind the gray skies, summer is finally upon us and as usual Ken from The Shingles is here to drive you straight into summer and beyond. And he's got a co-pilot along for the ride, the famous Mike Simmons. So get on board, select your seat, get strapped in and get set for high flying hi-jinks on the annual summer modcast.

Hi-Risers - Summertime Here We Come (Buzz Around With The Hi-Risers 7" single, 2006)
Radio Birdman - Aloha Steve & Danno (Aloha Steve And Danno 7" single, 1977)
Beach Boys - Amusement Parks U.S.A. ( Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!), 1965)
Five Americans - Disneyland (Second LP, 1969)
Candy Butchers - California Girl (Live at La BonBonniere, 1996)
Fountains of Wayne - It Must Be Summer (Utopia Parkway, 1999)
Sunrays - I Live for the Sun (Andrea, 1966)
Kompost - One Summer Sunday (Single, 2004)
Flashing Lights - Summertime Climb (Where the Change Is, 1999)
sparkle*jets u.k. - Summertime Dreamin' (He's a Rebel: The Gene Pitney Story Retold, 2002)
The Knack - The Man On The Beach (Normal as the Next Guy, 2001)
Wondermints - Ride (Mind If We Make Love to You, 2002)
Sammy Davis, Jr. - You Can Count On Me (You Can Count On Me, 7" single, 1976)
Presidents of the United States of America - Tiki God (II, 1996)

Sunrays - "I Live For The Sun"

Not enough summer fun for you? Download Ken's go-gorific summer modcast from last year:.
Modcast #132: All Summer Long

June 15, 2010

Modcast #168: Under Cover of Lounge

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. Are your irony meters spinning crazily out of control? If not they will be by the time you finish listening to this special cocktail covers edition of the modcast. This is the third in my series of covers shows. First I did a whole show of just straight up covers. And then I played all ska covers of classic songs. And now, we have the lounge covers show. That's right a whole show of lounge styled covers of all sorts of songs.

Jamyz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra -- Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)
Jamie Lancaster -- Boys Don't Cry (The Cure)
Nouvelle Vague -- Ever Fallen In Love (Buzzcocks)
Jazzystics -- Walking On Sunshine (Katrina & The Waves)
Southern Culture On The Skids -- House Of Bamboo (Earl Grant)
Nostalgia 77 (feat. Alice Russell) -- Seven Nation Army (White Stripes)
Señor Coconut -- Riders On The Storm (The Doors)
Pat Boone -- Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple)
Paul Anka -- Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)
Steve & Eydie -- Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden)
Jumbonics -- Last Nite (The Strokes)

Jaymz Bee Jelly Roll Orchestra -- You Oughta Know

Señor Coconut -- Da Da Da


June 9, 2010

Two Great Sounds That Sound Great Together

Hey you got your Soulive in my Beatles. And you got your Beatles in my Soulive.

To go along with my series of all covers modcasts it is fortunate for me that one of my favorite jazz acts is now touring a new forthcoming Beatles tribute album, Rubber Soulive. It's a great mix of familiar songs, and familiar sounds.

I've been a fan of Soulive since first the moment I discovered their debut EP Get Down at a Tower Records (RIP) listening station away back in the last millenium. I was instantly captivated by their hammond backed sound, and the obvious influence on the trio of Jimmy Smith among others. But, it was also refreshing to hear an act that wasn't afraid to embrace both classic and modern styles as they incorporated funk, soul, and lots of hip-hop into their jazz.

Such is not the case with Rubber Soulive, the band's 9th album -- that is, there's no hip-hop to be heard here. No, this is different because it's a tribute in every sense of the word. For me, Soulive was impressive from the get-go for their originality, and for their original compositions. There are hardly any cover songs on their other albums -- although they do a lot of really cool covers in their live shows (which sadly I haven't seen in about five years). They burst onto the scene in the late '90s with fresh new material, and they've continued to produce new original songs ever since. So, it was a bit surprising to see them tackle something like this Beatles tribute.

Rubber Soulive is tight, as only a Soulive record could be. The band has never been one to go completely wild when they jam. There's always been a little sense of self-restraint lurking just beneath a suave, smokey surface, like on 2001's Doin' Something -- an album that practically swaggers when played. Even at their funkiest, with soulful vocals like those on 2009's "Up Here", there's an overall sense of the band being firmly in control.

That control is front and center on Rubber Soulive. From the start songs are reverential, almost like individual moments of Beatles worship. "Eleanor Rigby" has a gospel like processional feel to it that I don't think I've ever heard the likes of in a Beatles song before (or likely will ever again). The album progresses smoothly to a more jazzy feel, and along the way "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" gets a most bluesy treatment complete with mournful guitar and swirling organ. By the time you get to "Revolution" and "Day Tripper", the funk is in full force. And the hammond B3 is leading the whole parade when it all wraps up with the most triumphant version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that I've ever heard, again thanks to dominance of the organ.

Lots of people don't like Beatles tribute albums, or jazz covers of Beatles songs. I am not one of those people. While this album is in some ways a departure for a Soulive production, it is also in keeping with the reverence with which the band approaches their music.

Soulive -- Eleanor Rigby