BABIES s/t

What happens when Cassie Ramone (The Vivian Girls) and Kevin Morby (Woods) take a break from their acclaimed projects? They make Babies – and it’s a beautiful rosy cheeked love child of sound. Just after Valentines Day The Babies released their self titled full length on Shrimper, and since then it has been a favorite rotating on my turn table. The record flows from hit to hit with lo-fi catchy gems perfect for the coming summer. If you like garagey boy/girl vocals it will be hard to ween you off The Babies. It’s no surprise that opening track “Run Me Over” has been deemed an unofficial single of the album. The track starts slowly with a surfy guitar before breaking into a propelling garage rock jam, setting you up for a collection of nicely crafted pop tunes. Over all, The Babies sound is easy to digest and isn’t to be taken too serious. After all, the band was formed to be a fun side project and the songs have a timeless quality. “Breakin’ The Law” will make you flash back to the moments when you met your first partner in crime. Mid album Babies go on to channel the Velvet Underground in campfire sing-a-long “Voice Like Thunder” while “Meet Me In The City” showcases Morby’s raw vocal quality that is similar to a young (un-jaded) Frank Black. The tail end of the album is more artistic and jam oriented with tracks “Wild I” and “Wild 2” where Ramone and Morby each tell their own perspective of the demise of romance. “Caroline” serves as the perfect closer to the album, beginning with a drawn out instrumental where the guitar carries the melody until the buildup is too much to bear and the band explodes into one last hurrah of up tempo hollers and shouts. While the Babies was formed to be a fun side project for Ramone/Morby to return to simpler times and smaller audiences, this record is too hot to keep them cooped up for long.

One Nation Under Wild Flag

The heads of critics and fans alike imploded when it was announced that Wild Flag was being waved into existence. Everyone loves a super group; especially one full of some of the most talented women in indie rock history: Carrie Browstein (Sleater Kinney/Excuse 17), Mary Timony (Helium), Janet Weiss (Sleater Kinney/Quasi), Rebecca Cole (The Minders).

Before the band had even played their first show, the hype was building over the Internet. Not even a demo had been leaked pointing to their musical direction, and the band had even laughed off the buildup stating that unbeknownst to their die hard fans they could be a polka band! Instead of giving into the pressure by throwing a lo-fi demo on the Internet, the ladies of Wild Flag decided to keep their audience in suspense as they crafted their sonic identity. Finally, the mystery was unveiled to the public when they set out on their first tour during the fall of 2010. Sold out shows to curious fans was the result. Still no recordings were available (except for online-aired bootleg video taken by fans at shows).

Flash forward to 2011: Merge Records releases Wild Flag’s debut 7” – available in advance on the band’s tour to SXSW, and to officially release to select record stores on Record Store Day. The record opens with “Glass Tambourine”, fronted by the charming Mary Timony, the former front woman of seminal shoegazey prog rock outfit, Helium. Years later, her low alto croon is mesmerizing as her sonic army supports her in a style reminiscent of the epic tunes she composed during Helium’s heyday. Each band member is allowed to shine in “Glass Tambourine” as it twists and turns through a proggy song structure. Janet’s calm backing vocals are matched with the fury of Carrie’s guitar solos layered underneath a space storm of otherworldly effects. “Future Crimes” boasts Carrie Brownstein’s spitfire vocal presence while showcasing her signature guitar talent. Rebecca Cole also hones down her skills on the keys with an extremely catchy arpeggio while Janet Weiss keeps the beat steady and sweet with complementary backing vocals. It is a pop song that is easy to follow, yet channels the live energy the four women have possessed like magic.

Since their first shows in the Northwest, Wild Flag has polished out their sound and have proven their ability to be more than just a short lived – yet rad – side project. Their live shows are growing in numbers and musical intensity, sure to win over veteran fans and newbies alike. More importantly, they continue the legacies they have earned as individuals in the past with a fresh new sound that is bound to start a revolution for generations of young lady rockers united under Wild Flag.

Adam Gnade – B-sides and Rarities

I love me a good B-side or rarity collection. It is like uncovering a lost treasure chest, sunken in the depths of the sea of creativity. Adam Gnade seems to have an ocean of lost words in his “talking songs”, and has compiled them into From Farm Houses to Tour Vans. The collection is simplistic and acoustically arranged, topped with Gnade’s luring brand of storytelling. All of his past works have been thought provoking and emotionally charged to send a haunted wind through your ears, and this one is no exception. It is dusty, yet a rewarding listen like uncovering hidden family secrets in the attic.

Download the album at adamgnade.bandcamp.com

Orca Team…Proves Rock n’ Roll Saves the Night

Picture this: it’s cold and rainy on a typical Portland night and you have just been stood up. Suddenly, you find yourself alone in a strip club (which really isn’t your scene but you wanted to live on the edge for a night). There are no familiar faces – yet is jam packed full of meat heads… the world never seemed more lonely. You start to bike home, defeated, but refuse to let the night go to waste. You decide to swing by the Hungry Tiger Too – a dingy dive that is sort of making a rock n’ roll come back – to see what is happening. Once you arrive, you hear sounds of sunshine permeating through the windows. Such sounds are vaguely familiar. You grab a whiskey, and enter the performance room filled with girls in cute dresses, and guys gently bobbing their heads to the catchy tunes. Suddenly, your horrible letdown of a night turns into a miracle of synchronicity proving that rock n’ roll can save the soul. You realize you have just randomly walked into a random bar only to catch a free show by one of your favorite Portland bands: Orca Team. The trio is clad in matching outfits: tight yellow shirts and dark bottoms, slightly resembling bumble bees as they bob up and down to their uplifting montage of 60′s surf, garage, and soul! The night is looking a lot brighter from there on out.

Cat Power: What Would The Community Think?

I recently bought What Would The Community Think by Cat Power on vinyl. Of course, I had loved the album since high school, so it seemed fitting that I would add it to my collection. I have always been a big advocate of Moon Pix and the Covers Record – stating these were my favorites. However, as I listen to …Community I am realizing it is probably one of her best cover to cover record ever!

Old School Nirvana Rehearsal Tapes

After searching for live footage of Nirvana I found this super gritty rehearsal video filmed in Crist Noveselic’s mothers house back in 1988. It was during the Bleach era and is pretty raw. With only a few friends watching them practice, Kurt Cobain sings while facing the wall. Regardless, the video is showcases the band before they blew up.



Black Mountain: Wilderness Heart

I am becoming obsessed with Black Mountain’s Wilderness Heart. The band released the album at the tail end of 2010, and has proven to be one of the best records of the year. Many of the songs are slowed down a notch, played out on acoustic guitars whilst showcasing rather intimate vocal duets between Stephen McBean and Amber Webber. The collection is rather soulful and folky in stark contrast to their face melting heaviness of their previous works. However, long time fans can still expect a few rockers including the title track “Wilderness Heart” which is becoming one of my fav songs in the new year.

Super Wild Horses Interview

Aussie girl-duo Super Wild Horses are still galloping into the indie scene with their debut full length, Fifteen. The album contains super cool garage licks that has a solid pop sensibility rooted in simplicity and feedback. Outsider Music Press is super stoked that Hayley and Amy took some time out of their day to talk about their formation, inspirations, and what to put on the perfect mix tape (all while astounding us with their Australian slang!).

How did Super Wild Horses form?

HAYLEY: Amy and I had been living in different cities for a few years and then finally started hang out again when I moved over to Melbourne. The band formation was totally unintentional … we got together one arvo to drink beer and make some tunes up and then things rolled on quickly from there, when Amy’s boyfriend booked us a show and refused to let us get out of it. We had about 6 songs at that stage – one was a New Kids on The Block cover.

What made you decide on the name?

AMY: We were briefly called Sexretary (when we never really thought we’d end up playing gigs) but quickly realized that name was rubbish…the name Super Wild Horses came from a set of pictures we saw in an old 70′s television graphics book.

Who have been your musical heroes?

AMY: Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Sonny Rollins, The Velvet Underground, Smog

Hayley: The Cure, Tina Turner, The Shangri Las, Tom Waits, The Lemonheads, Scott Walker, Nina Simone…..

Who recorded “Fifteen”?

AMY: Mikey Young recorded it for us in a beautiful country house in rural Victoria. He came down with an 8-track and a few mics and it was a pretty simple process. He was great to record with as he seemed to be happy with capturing us as we sounded in there, so there wasn’t a lot of stuffing around with sound etc


What inspires your music?

AMY: All kinds of things. We both listen to a lot of different styles of music so I guess it all filters through at some point or another and I think we’re both drawn to simple songwriting that captures the essence of an idea without it having to be cloaked in big orchestration or fancy arrangements. Going to see live bands is a great inspiration as you’re right there with the band in that moment – and if it hits you right and you’re feeling the song it can lead to a flood of ideas or a feeling you capture and take home with you that then becomes a seed of its own.


What sorts of tours have you done? Future tour plans?

AMY: We toured the states in September which was a blast (and we hope to go back there again next year). Played the great Goner Fest and did a bunch of shows around the country with some awesome bands.

HAYLEY: We’ve got some tour dates coming up with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion which we’re stoked about. We’re playing the Big Day out in Melbourne and also a January show with one of our favourite US bands Thee Oh Sees. Summer’s gonna rule.

What other Aussie bands are awesome? Past? Present?

AMY: There are really so many great Aussie bands – PAST: The Go Betweens, X, The Church, The Scientists, The Saints, Ian Rilen & The Love Addicts, Radio Birdman, The Birthday Party, Roland S Howard – all bands everyone would know and love… and at the moment there are bands like ZOND, Deaf Wish, The Twerps, Boomgates, UV Race, Circle Pit, The Ancients, Panel of Judges, Lost Animal, Straight Arrows, Dead Farmers, The Darling Downs…could go on and on really…

HAYLEY: Yeah where do you begin? There’s so many awesome bands from our own backyard that deserve to be rediscovered and dug up. Some other oldies I love would be The Moffs…and if we’re ncluding NZ in the mix I’d have to say The Moles, Verlaines, The Clean, The Bats ….so many. One of my favourite local releases this year is from Scott + Charlene’s Wedding.


What are your survival must haves for tour? (outfits, music, foods, etc)

AMY: When we were in the States Mexican was the all-out winner for food, but veggies became really important and we had a couple of home cooked meals that made us feel human again. You end up having a lot of late and boozy nights on the road, so anything that remedied the feeling of absolute unhealthiness was a lifesaver. I couldn’t like without cotton tips either. For some reason loud music makes my ears feel dirty!

HAYLEY: A little tape recorder to record song ideas, gaffa tape to fix my busted shoes, lucky horse shoe necklace, herbal throat spray and ear plugs to combat against Amy’s mad snoring.


What is your favorite album of 2010?

AMY: I actually forgot this album came out this year when we did a top 10 list recently, but I think the Roland S Howard record “Pop Crimes” was amazing. Royal Baths “Litanies” is a cracker too and Hayley and I were blown away by this band when we saw them in San Francisco.

HAYLEY: Loved the Eddy Current Suppression record, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding is Oz as (as mentioned before) and also really dug a release by an American dude that plays under the name White Fence. This record was like uncovering a hidden gem from your dad’s dusty record collection.

If you were to make a mix tape what would be the top 5 songs you would put on it?

AMY:
Karen Dalton “Something On Your Mind”
Outkast “B.O.B”
Ray Charles “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying”
X “I Don’t Wanna Go Out”
New Season “I Get My Kicks At Home”

HAYLEY:
“Standing By the Window” Tactics
“Another Day in the Sun” The Moffs
“Dance this Mess around” B52′s
“Getting Back into You” Silver Jews
“I’m On Fire” Bruce Springsteen

What’s next for Super Wild Horses?

AMY: We just recorded a few songs which will be going on a a couple of 7′s in the new year, working on a new record, and hopefully some more touring.

Liechtenstein “All At Once”

I have recently discovered Liechtenstein (Thanks Rachel of the Record Room)! and have been obsessed ever since. Their music is a sexy garagey mix that sort of sounds like a mix of Stereolab, the Vaselines and the Raincoats!

This is my current fav song, “All At Once”

Young & Wilder

Portland based garage duo, Young & Wilder need to get a room. Not just any room, but a desolate cheap motel off of a route towards Memphis, where they can have at it in the middle of nowhere. It’s true – the guy-girl duo have sexual tension so thick you would need a chainsaw to break through the sensuality. Oh the woes of the young and the wild. Curiously, the band’s bio reads like an old fashioned long-distance correspondence between would-be lovers. In fact, it’s hard to tell if the pair have given each other their minds, body, and soul – or only just a fraction of the puzzle. Until then, their new EP, Between You and Me should suffice to keep them – and their listeners – passionate about their undefined affairs.

The band is generously giving it up for free via Bandcamp, and you’d be a fool not to take it. The five song collection is in perfect contrast to the despair the upcoming winter tends to bring; each song is sizzling with retro sounding sunshine. Opening track, “Swamp Lady”, drives forward, with 60′s pop in the rear view mirror – perfect for any fan of the Ravonettes with Samson Wilder and Carolina Young’s impassioned vocals twisting and turning around each bend of a guitar string. “It’s Wrong” is a sunny California-esque jam telling the tales of forbidden love, clenching the thighs shut in agony. Between You and Me, Young & Wilder have made an infactuating first impression, intriguing enough to keep you looking forward to the next listen, and hot enough to keep you warm and fuzzy this winter.

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