Posts Tagged ‘Glam’

Velveteen Rabbit – “I’ll Be A Boy For You”

When NYC’s Velveteen Rabbit launched their last single, they hinted at a band well versed in the soft-hands, glam-greased power pop of The Quick, Milk n’ Cookies and Brett Smiley. They were knocking down some RSTB touch points and doing it just right. Digging into the routine power pop’s bag of tricks is easy, but emulating this specific silk crush remains decidedly less so. With the announcement of their debut proper the band is digging into yet another tough niche to nuzzle, leading with the crushed velvet pop of “I’ll Be A Boy For You,” one listen proves it’s an absolute crusher, the next three cement it as gold. The song takes the gloved touch of their power pop and backs it up with the crimped funk of The Time circa their ’81 debut. This is the heir apparent to “After Hi School.” Though he’s left this mortal mold all too soon the ghost of Jamie Starr (nee Rogers) lingers over “I’ll Be A Boy For You” like a silk scarf signature.

The guitars crunch and vamp but its that stab of synth that sends chills. Then with a coy bite of the lip and a hip twitch the band sends this song vibrating through the ethers to supercharge the hearts and minds of the youth troops thirsting for some rock vitality. This is just the first blush, there’s more to come.



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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Cyboogie”

The silence is broken and the lid is off. King Gizz is back with a new single and, as usual, as shift in sound. This time the band embraces the slick slide of glam and funk into the advent ’80s electronic, feeling every bit like Gary Numan trying on platform shoes with Slade, ELO, and Harald Grosskopf in the same shopping trip. They’re straying far from the face melting guitars, but the rest of the band’s schtick remains in tact – the dystopian vibes, psychedelic bent and penchant for voice overs remains. For the video they play up those vibes with touches of paranoid cinema, with the clip echoing the close-up discomfort of A Clockwork Orange and the shabby glitz of The Running Man. Whether this is a taste of what’s to come of a one-off diversion, only time will tell. The sound feels good on the band and ya gotta hand it to them, they don’t sit still and they don’t stagnate their sound. The single is out Feb 1st.

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Ty Segall

Those of you in for the long haul on Ty know that the man loves a good cover, but more so than most California’s favorite son has always been an alchemist of the art form. Early seven inches often used the flip as a forum for Segall’s deep bench record shelf swoons – covering ground from Echo and The Bunnymen to Simply Saucer to The Groundhogs. Live sessions gave reason to scratch the psychotic itch with GG Allen cuts and then, of course, there’s a multi-year endeavor to cover as much ground on the T. Rex catalog as possible. What’s set Ty apart from your favorite ‘90s ska band pumping up the tempo on old Paul Simon cuts with a crass smile is that Ty’s got the perfect combination of taste and chops. He’s passionate about the source material, but not so precious as to deliver note by note recreations. On Fudge Sandwich he picks out a handful of faves deserving new life and gives them their own caustic twist through the lens of the fuzz kaleidoscope.

A multitude of singles comps have scooped up the best of the B’s in the past, but outside of those RSD Rex pressings this is the first time that Ty’s ripped into a fresh set of covers with the pure idea of breathing new life into old favorites. Its not a new idea, hell The Detroit Cobras made a damn good living out of this model for years. Still, Fudge Sandwich maintains vitality in a crowded medium, largely because in Ty’s hands any song can become newly exciting. As he does with Hot Chocolate’s “Everyone’s A Winner” from Freedom’s Goblin, Segall dirties up a fair number of his subjects – giving acid grit to War’s “Lowrider,” and injecting a fair amount of evil to John Lennon’s “Isolation.” He’s just as apt to strip things back, though, folking up The Dill’s “Class War” into a summer strummer that hits hard lyrically in 2018.

The rest of the set does its best to bring some standards to grind in the garage – fuzzing out Grateful Dead, Neil Young, The Spencer Davis Group and Sparks. He then sprinkles in some deeper cuts for the heads, hopefully opening up a few young guns to Amon Düül II, Gong and Rudimentary Peni in the same way he might have done for Simply Saucer and The Groundhogs before them. While the year already has its peak Ty release in the form of Goblin, this is a reminder that the man never sleeps and we all reap the benefits.



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Velveteen Rabbit – “Mind Numbing Entertainment”

Rising out of the ashes of longstanding NYC power pop band The Jeanies comes a new band of glam-popped punchers holding onto a lot of what made their former band sizzle. Velveteen Rabbit are, however, doing it with quite a bit more refinement than The Jeanies ever mustered. Glam pop revivalists often get a bad rap for mining a movement that many see as a passing fad – the soon sullied toy found in the cereal box of punk, power pop and proto-metal at the end of the ‘70s. However, when done right there are fewer genres that can crack a smile so wide. Sure, the affectations are preposterous, the fashion was downright criminal and there was bubblegum stuck all in the hair of everyone involved, but as far as frivolous genre experiments go I’ll take it any day.

Velveteen Rabbit dip their paws into the great crossover between glam’s fuzz-tumbled crunch and the fey end of power pop. The bands that were able to hit this stride found a bit of a golden hour sound that rocks like the punks but shies away from the pit to pine over girls at the bar. Think The Quick, Brett Smiley, Milk n’ Cookies or Phil Seymour and you’re on the right track here. The double shot of flippant fun leaves ya wanting more, which always marks a good single. This is prime ‘70s jukebox fodder following in the footsteps of plenty before them but absolutely a good time with each spin it takes around the platter.



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HOLY

For his second album as HOLY, Sweden’s Hannes Ferm uprooted his life and slowly began to dismantle the sound he’d built on his previous album. The band’s debut was rooted in a brand of garage-pop that’s not out of line with many of his labelmates on local hub PNKSLM. As he shifted to his new home of Stockholm and his new digs at Studio Cobra, however, he looked to lush works for inspiration and began a journey to a double LP concept record about deep personal change, alienation, and the nighttime. It’s a subject that would seem to inspire quiet introspection and the soft pluck of strings, but not so in Ferm’s world. He envisions the night as glimpsed through the kaleidoscopic swirl of traffic signals, brake lights, and neon signs under the sway of melancholy and psychedelics.

Ferm calls out Todd Rundgren’s classic A Wizard, A True Star as inspiration and that’s a telling germ to cite. All These Worlds Are Yours takes a similar tact of diving into songs that explode with pop colors and softly strung hooks, then clipping them short right when they’ve got you in their sway. He pulls a pop one-eighty on the listener quite a few times over the course of the record’s tenure but rather than knock the listener off track, the technique just adds to the dizzying funhouse that Ferm has constructed. The album is rooted in glam’s opulence, but not it’s rock candy crunch – there are no fuzz-tones or Bolan-sized amp rumblers here. Instead, Ferm has built a velvet-draped dreamland that’s powered by reverb and light.

It’s a huge step forward for the artist, leaving behind his humble rock beginnings to embrace the kind of mini-epics once favored by the members of The Elephant 6 Orchestra. With the help of producer Martin Ehrencrona (Les Big Byrd) he’s captured the heartswell of emotions that accompany youth’s moments of alienation, revelation, and reinvention, then used them as a neon engine for creativity. All These Worlds Are Yours sounds every bit like it could have come down in Dave Fridmann’s heyday of panoramic psych-pop and that it was largely self-done speaks volumes to Ferm’s talent and to his promise for the future.




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Ty Segall – “The Main Pretender”

Gettin’ hard to resist these Segall gems, dropping almost bi-weekly now like a necessary dosage. The latest pushes aside the laconic cool of “My Baby’s On Fire” for a fever-sweat vision of glam that’s panting with weird lust and shaking with crossfired nerves. It’s an infected descendant of Roxy-era sleaze-rock taken to the logical extreme. Mikal Cronin returns to blow sax on this one, but this time he isn’t providing mere sunset accompaniment to Segall’s house-light comedown, not in the slightest. This time he’s out for blood and bile, cutting through the riffs with a serrated groove that’s sharpened its spines on the back of James Chance’s singular vision from years before. There have been some choice cuts in this multi-hued basket of treats, but none have lacerated like this.




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Mixtape: Only After Dark

Now I know that glam is well worn territory. You could spend a day just running down lists of essentials – each telling you that Marc Bolan’s glittery tears started it all and shuffling well worn cuts with a forgotten gem or two in the mix. I’m not going to even begin to claim to sweep up all the glam essentials, though there are certainly a few of the ten foot high stompers on here. This, is more about sweeping the listener up in a specific ’70s night: getting dumped, rallying with friends and losing yourself in the big, stupid beat until daybreak. Book-ended by a couple of power pop gems that act as sunset and sunrise, this is just a feelgood vision of hard drinking stupidity that slaps a smile on your face. Check out the tracklist and mix after the jump.

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Silverhead – Silverhead

It’s actually a bit perplexing that it has taken this long for Silverhead’s debut to attract a proper reissue. The band, often tied into glam’s evolution (they were fans of platforms, makeup and over the top costuming) actually land musically much closer to a breed of hard rock before that classic crunch found its way into the glam canon. They hew close to late Who, Beggars-era Stones and of course a touch of Bolan/Bowie, but then again who at the time wasn’t finding themselves transfixed to those two?

Their 1972 debut is packed with rockers that, while not necessarily fixated on hooks that would cement their status, definitely paved the way for bands that came in their wake. Though, without exception, “Ace Supreme” stands as a glam jam that never got its due. The song is filled with the larger-than-life persona of of the genre and it burns well past the 100 degree mark and rising. The band would, sadly, only release this album and a single follow-up before disbanding in 1974. Members would go on to fill out the ranks as session and touring members of Blondie and Robert Plant’s respective circuses and singer Michael Des Barres would actually garner more notoriety for a small recurring part on MacGuyver than he would as leader of the band.

Good to have this one back on vinyl after all the years, though. It’s a vital link in the glam chain and is worthy of a seat at the table for a discussion on the evolution of hard rock through the ’70s. The new edition comes courtesy of Vinilisssimo reproducing the long lost classic in its original form for the first time since ’73.


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The Blondes – The Blondes

The aughts had its fair share of power pop – from Sloan to Matthew Sweet, Fountains of Wayne to late Apples in Stereo, there was no real shortage of sticky sweet pop that owed a fair amount of debt to the Yellow Pills set and Big Star. Still, the the majority of those bands used the genre as a jumping off point to splash in some ’90s grunge grit and bittersweet songwriting that put them in line with a new indie ethos. For L.A.’s Blondes, the heyday of ’70s power pop, tinged with just the right holdover of glam seemed the golden standard. To be fair, they hit the mark pretty dead on in the end.

Formed as Eagle in 1998, the band claimed members from music and art circles alike, crossing over membership with Eels, Beachwood Sparks and The Lilys. The band also contained indie icon and photographer Autumn De Wilde , who may have had more of a hand in effecting indie rock’s heyday than most of her L.A. compatriots. Of course, on release, the name Eagle drew the attention of classic rocker/general curmudgeon Don Henley and he put the kibosh on that moniker. Hence, they resurfaced as The Blondes.

Their first album was in 2002, following a spot-on cover of Mud’s “Dyna-mite”. By this time, several founding members, including De Wilde had left the group, but the band still captured the flicker-flame perfection of bubblegum-glam and the giddiness of power pop. This retrospective from Burger rounds up most of their key output. There are even some demo versions from the original Eagle lineup included, though sadly, that cover of “Dyna-mite” remains lost from the spools on this one. Burger and HoZac have gone to lengths lately to dig up the corners of all that’s necessary in punk, glam and power pop and this is an essential entry to the canon. A little sad this one’s ended up just on tape, but maybe if we all wish real hard the Burger Bros will press it down to a fitting vinyl tribute.




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James Jackson Toth on Japan – Tin Drum

The latest installment of Hidden Gems comes from a longtime RSTB favorite. I think it’s fair to say that without Wooden Wand, Raven wouldn’t have shaped up the way it did in those early years. When I happened on a great set by James, billed to open for Jack Rose in a cramped bar in Greenpoint back in 2005, Harem of the Sundrum and the Witness Figg quickly became a fixture on the turntable and a desire to spread some of the WW gospel was born. Below Toth shares a record that’s made an impact in his own life and how it crept in and took hold.

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