Two sentence reviews of reasonably new albums I listened to in October; one of the only good parts of October!
Quiet Americans — Medicine EP: belying their name, this EP is fantastic fuzzy garage rock, full of distorted vocals and guitars run through so many pedals it’s amazing they sound like guitars at all. It chimes and shakes and crashes like a perfect wave of vintage ’60s stoner garage music. I don’t know anything about this band besides this EP, but I love the hell out of it.
Belle Adair — EP: this first offering from Alabama band Belle Adair shimmers with sad indie boy vocals singing clever lyrics, and guitars and keyboards all in counterpoint and chiming. It’s full of pop hooks and places where the songs deviate so fiercely from the pop norm that I wasn’t sure they were going to get, and they’re worth watching while they finish up their debut full-length. “Paris is Free” is one of the most grooving, good times song I’ve heard this year.
Lauderdale — Moving On: broken hearted big guitar country songs; lovely vocals and out of the box songwriting, Lauderdale can swing from the rough and rowdy end of country to the quiet and sad fingerpicking pedal steel end without missing a beat. I’ve been meaning to check them out for a while, and this is a great introduction to them. If you’re missing country music with a thick soul flavor to it, grab this one.
Madi Diaz — Far From Things That : Madi’s debut EP is sweet electronic pop, and it belies the strength in her songwriting and her tremendous voice that come through in her live show, but it’s worth picking up just so you can keep an eye on her; it’s hooky and it’s a little bit of a shame that it came out in September, because it’s really perfect windows down summer broken hearted music.
Pacifico — 10 And Holding: I’ve never seen Matthew Schwartz perform as Pacifico, only solo, but this album is full of his signature sharp songwriting, only it’s all electric pop punk sounds instead of his acoustic guitar. It works; 10 And Holding is an ear-worming album full of big choruses and sunny pop songs with fierce guitars and drums underneath them. That Pacifico isn’t huge like some of the bands teenagers love these days surprises me; they’re the right kind of pop punk sound, and their songwriting and musicianship is immensely better.
McCarthy Trenching — Fresh Blood: a couple of years ago, shep. bought me tickets, as part of a birthday present, to see a show at the Berkeley Cafe, Justin Townes Earle/the Felice Brothers/McCarthy Trenching; it was canceled, we used the tickets to see JTE later that year, and I’ve seen the Felices a couple times since. But not McCarthy Trenching, which is Dan McCarthy’s recording name, and that’s a damn shame, because his 2008 self-titled was great, and the just released Fresh Blood is a sharp, shuffling, low-key masterpiece of songwriting and performance. Songs about drinking and heartbreak, and they’re better than almost any other songs about drinking and heartbreak I’ve heard this year.
Archie Powell & the Exports — Skip Work: the other night I was exhorting how much I love the 50s doowop 60s Stones 70s funk revival in indie rock right now, and then the next morning, I put this album on and discovered Archie Powell is doing all of them at once. This is a grooving, funky as hell record, full of doowop choruses and crunky guitars and modern effects pedals. If you dig the Booze or Fitz & the Tantrums, you will dig the hell out of this album; I know I do.