Friday, 29 January 2010

On the Tally Radi - Ho

We realise that we spend a lot of time on this blog regaling you with news of our favourite US bands.... This isn't intentional, we've just had to search a little harder to find things at home to match what's happening in New Jersey and California right now. However here's a list of some of our favourite tracks from Britain's best we've heard in the last few weeks....

Grasshouse - Bottom of The Sea
Treasure - Canada
Lord Auch - To The Shithouse
Spectrals - It's very sweet of you to put up with me
Field Music - Effortlessly
Rent Boys - Ripped Up
Veronica Falls - Beachy head
Sexbeet - She Don't Surf

Appeased..... At least a little bit

Cribs & The Thermals

Split 7" to mark record Store Day

Our favourite fellow northerners The Cribs are to release a split single to mark Record Store Day on the 17th of April with The Thermals. After a year spent as tourmates and Gary Jarman's move from the sun-drenched climbs of Wakefield to Portland, the two bands have finally got together on the project which sees both release new songs, The Thermals' 'Separate' and The Cribs' 'So Hot Now'.

Oh, and you see that very handsome laser-eyed face on the cover of the last Cribs album 'Ignore The Ignorant', that's Tally Ho's very own resident scribe Mark Wall. So it's not like we're biased or anything....

Panda Bear

New Album - TOMBOY

The publicist for Noah Lennox (Animal Collective) has confirmed today that his solo project Panda Bear will release a new album called 'TOMBOY' through Paw Tracks in September.

In between creating the stand out album of 2009 'Merriweather Post Pavilion', an E.P, film and collaboration with Bradford Cox, Lennox has found time to record the follow up to 2007's 'Person

Look out for a one-off London date in March to showcase the new album.

King Tuff - Was Dead

King Tuff's 2009 album Was Dead didn't do much in terms of people actually listening to it outside a few switched on blog bros and those in the know in the King's Vermont music circle. Don't let that put you off, infact its a bonus, if you're reading this you're probably the kind of cat that likes to keep little trinkets of musical treasure locked away in a closet close to your chest..lest others claim them as their own. Well King Tuff is tailor made for your little hipper than thou complexes. Mixing the hell's jangle of Raw Power era Stooges with the drug psych of 13th Floor Elevators, The King's reverence for melodies past is clear and present throughout. Check out stand-out track Sun Medallion below...

This reminds me of Nashville porches and San Francisco's golden bridges all at once...beautiful


Thursday, 28 January 2010


Sadly our first non musical post concerns the death of renowned and revered author J D Salinger. He died at his New Hampshire home of natural causes. Salinger, 91 had consciously lived his life away from the spotlight since his celebrated novel The Catcher in the Rye brought him world-wide attention.

He gave his last interview in 1960 and his later life was shrouded in mystery, intrigue and rumour, fueled by biographies by both an ex-lover, Joyce Maynard and his daughter Margaret.

Salinger's influence loomed large over western literature throughout the second half of the 20th Century. From the angry young men of Colin MacInnes' London Trilogy to the wild autobiographical trials and tribulations of Hunter S Thompson's 70's output and all in between, Salinger and his most famous creation, Holden Caulfield haunt their pages, no doubt approvingly.

Jerome David Salinger, January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010

Winter Olympics 2010

Devo, Feist and Neil Young head out into the cold

Forget the torches and fireworks, warming up this year's Winter Olympic's in Vancouver will be Neil Young, Feist and DEVO ahead of their first new album in over two decades.

Vivian Girls Live in London

Vivian Girls @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, 26th Jan '10

You'd be forgiven for thinking Vivian Girls have moved to these shores, their recession flauntiJng trips across the Atlantic have become so frequent. Not that we're complaining, we've pretty much worn out their second LP Everything Goes Wrong so it was with some excitement that we ambled along through the winter chill to catch them play a set that concentrated on that record, coloured by a few choice selections from their many 7" singles and their self titled debut.

Kicking off with the same one-two punch that bleeds Everything Goes Wrong into your speakers, 'Walking Alone at Night' and 'I Have No Fun', live the girls seem to exorcise the frustrations that haunt them at the beginning of the record. Ali's drumming gallops and Cassie's distorted Pink Flag-isms rage, padding out the harmonies and seemingly bathing the crowd in a white wash of punk mischief. 

Last night's show (the last of a uk tour) serves as a timely reminder of the band's progression from 20 minute sets and over-hype, into the finished product. Now entirly unreliant on the charming pop chorus of previous show stoppers like 'Wild Eye's'.

For fellow sound setters in the class of 08', the new Viv's gigs send a clear message to yank up the belts and don't dare to disappoint. If second album Everything Goes Wrong wasn't enough proof of the metamorphosis, only prompting glances to the bedside pictures of the Kickball Katy of old, then live, the girls ascendancy is complete.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Animal Collective - Oddsac

Not content with owning 2009, Animal Collective are already launching their bid to conquer this newly-birthed annum with what they're calling a 'visual album', Oddsac.

Oddsac is a collaboration with director Danny Perez and judging from the clip below, its going to be every bit as mind bending as their recent sonic explorations.

Oddsac was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last night, for more info check out the official site www.oddsac.com

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Real Estate

Un-holy Sounds

Those Jesus freaking Yank's have done it again.... This time casuing a storm after Real Estate's show at St James Catholic Church in Brooklyn. Among the most outrageous of atrocities from the show on the 15th are beer spillage, larger tins on pews and 'rowdiness'. Feel free to show your support for better gig surroundings than sweaty pool rooms, by ambling along to the steps of Shoreditch Church with a panpipe. Alternatively leave it to the vagrants and fashionista's already mounting an 'ironic' revolt.

Footage of the performance has already been removed from most site's, but watch another balls out anarchic Real Estate show here......


More US Dates

After Harlem announced another string of US dates today, we we're feeling decidely disheartened that this might be another of New Jersey's finest we'll never get to see on these shores. If you haven't already heard the band (signed to Matador late last year) check out this video for track Witch Greens...

Grizzly Bear

Cover 'Boy From School'

Have a listen to this ghostly cover of Hot Chip's 'Boy From School' by Grizzly Bear. Nectar!!!


Monday, 25 January 2010

MONDO VISION - Episode 6 online NOW!

If you've never seen Mondo Vision, well, neither had eye until yesterday, but its basically a great video fanzine dedicated to all things punk rock, diy and fly.

The episode below finds the MV chaps in Europe following Tally Ho! faves Nodzzz and London's Wet Dog amongst others, as they blaze their peculiar trail across the continent.

If you dig the below vid, check out the first five episodes at http://mondovision.tv/

Mondeaux Vision episode six from Mondo Vision on Vimeo.

Free Waaga Compilation

The wonderful people at Sacramento based label Waaga, have generously put up their new compilation for free on their website. Download it here....



Quarantine The Past Track List

The tracklisting for Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement, was announced on the matablog earlier. No real surprises, but why would we want any.....

01 Gold Soundz (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)
02 Frontwards (Watery, Domestic EP)
03 Mellow Jazz Docent (Perfect Sound Forever EP)
04 Stereo (Brighten the Corners)
05 In the Mouth a Desert (Slanted & Enchanted)
06 Two States (Slanted & Enchanted)
07 Cut Your Hair (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)
08 Shady Lane / J Vs. S (Brighten the Corners)
09 Here (Slanted & Enchanted)
10 Unfair (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)
11 Grounded (Wowee Zowee)
12 Summer Babe (Winter Version) (Slanted & Enchanted)
13 Range Life (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)
14 Date w/ IKEA (Brighten the Corners)
15 Debris Slide (Perfect Sound Forever EP)
16 Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse) (Watery, Domestic EP)
17 Spit on a Stranger (Terror Twilight)
18 Heaven Is a Truck (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)
19 Trigger Cut/Wounded-Kite at :17 (Slanted and Enchanted)
20 Embassy Row (Brighten the Corners)
21 Box Elder (Slay Tracks 1933-1969 EP)
22 Unseen Power of the Picket Fence (No Alternative compilation)
23 Fight This Generation (Wowee Zowee)

Look out for our Pavement interview coming very soon!

The National

New Tour / New Album

4AD announced an expected May release of the fifth album from Brooklyns The National today. The follow upto 2007's 'Boxer' is as yet untitled, however a tour to support the album beginning in Tennessee will commence in late march, finally hitting the Royal Albert Hall in London on the 6th of May.

2009 - That Was The Year That Was

Last year whilst UK and US bloggers, taste making promoters and club-kids were busy combing the beach for the perfect sound of summer, and the bewildered A & R men convinced themselves 2009 was 'year of the girls' the ne’er do wells of Brooklyn, New Jersey, Washington and Florida all quietly crouched under the radar. The result; carefully nurtured scenes cropping up in said locations, friends making music primarily for themselves but confident enough in their sound to play out live and spread their word; is just one encouraging sign that our beloved underground may have finally become self sufficient.

In spite of easily accessible downloads and leaks a plenty, vinyl sales are up and the collaborative nature of the lo-fi and garage rock scenes enabled label sharing cross-Atlantic tours. Thus ensuring the seeds of esoteric music were scattered far and wide, with rock & roll (nothing, a rude word) finding much fertile ground for growth in the UK and Europe.

Devoid of a premature gold rush signing spree, high end marketing techniques and star turn burn-outs (we won’t count Wavves' Nathan Williams), America’s alternative avant-garde has happily kept its head in the sand recently, keeping true to its roots without the hipper than thou reverse snobbery directed towards success in some indie circles and oozing quiet confidence and growth potential without celebrating itself as the dawn of a new cool.

All over the US, small independent labels proved integral to the golden year we’ve just waved goodbye to. Started by the more business minded players as a means to champion bands usually jamming in the margins of pop, their baby steps have proved their reliability with release after release of always-interesting-often-mind blowing music.

Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks is one such label, ran by Mike Sniper the pseudo anonymous underground figure behind Blank Dogs. The label grew naturally from releasing tapes, CD-R’s and 7” singles to putting out full lengths and EPs from some of the most exciting bands to emerge in the second half of the decade. Ganglians, Christmas Island, our own Spectrals and Thee Oh Sees have all recently released great material on Captured Tracks.

But loyalty or restrictive contracts don’t seem to be part of the agenda. San Diego’s Christmas Island actually signed to In the Red, who put out their debut LP and I get the feeling all you have to do to put out a Thee Oh Sees record is ask. Then there’s Underwater Peoples (UP), a Washington DC based collective whose incestuous roster of surf-jangle loving beardos is slowly coming to the forefront of the alternative scene. The debut LP of the uber-hyped Real Estate, their flagship band, was actually put out by Florida’s Dying Records but the association is still there and half of Real Estate’s members moonlight as Alex Bleeker & the Freaks (whose 2009 eponymous debut LP was the first long player UP put out, confused? You’re not alone.)

All this cross pollination has, however peculiar, led to such record labels becoming the object of fandom, rather than the bands. With the help of bloggers such as Gorilla Vs Bear and esoteric music news sites such as Pitchfork and Drowned In Sound in the UK, fans are able to track new releases with ease, finding themselves caught up in anticipation of the latest batch of lo-fi artefacts from labels such as Sacred Bones Records, or second guessing which underground luminaries’ new material will be on which label come the release date.

In fact underground bands at the moment have taken on an almost faceless existence. Personalities aren’t forced down the throats of fans in interviews, instead, those interested enough to seek an audience with artists have split into two very different camps. Some spend most of the time speculating on the almost spiritual aspects of the music and trying to come up with new superlatives, but sadly more often than not it’s to announce their keen ear and literary gift rather than to credit the band for a job well done. Others dissect with the relish of a technophile, the ins and outs of the recording process, sometimes risking the loss of the reader’s attention but nevertheless commendable in their attention to detail. No time for favourite colours or tales of traumatic childhood events with the new breed.

It’s extraordinary in that the labels are able to maintain a constant flow of new artists, perhaps putting out a single by an unknown accompanied by a collection of releases from more established bands on their roster, until the new kids become the trusted old boys and the whole thing begins again.

Captured Tracks for one, is brilliant at doing this, making a mixture of 7” records, collaborations, split singles and LP’s available in a bundle online for a cut price. It increases the desirability, collect-ability and value of their output and encourages loyalty from the fans once they’ve grown to trust the label’s quality control. It’s not only a great way to put the fun back into buying music, but a great way to dissuade serial downloading and freeloaders.

The speed at which the bands and labels turn around new material is also worthy of note. San Francisco’s Thee Oh Sees, led by John Dwyer (The Hospitals, Coachwhips) have been around a few years now but Dwyer’s New Year’s resolution for 2009 seemed to have been ‘record copious amounts of high quality garage/psych pop until we drop’. Last year Thee Oh Sees released three LP’s and six 7-inch singles, all on different labels and with a couple of weeks left in the year, there were still rumours of a Christmas album which sadly never materialised.

It’s a pretty unprecedented turn around for an industry that usually likes to build the suspense around record releases like Irish charmer Dermot O’Leary announcing an X Factor winner. It seems the power has been taken away from big money labels, they’re not able to manipulate trends as they once did and whilst the mainstream pop market seems to be falling deeper and deeper into the grave it dug itself, the underground simply stands on the edge, shuffling sand into the hole with a scuffed sneaker.

Inevitably some scenes risk getting weighted down by hipster posing and the fashionista albatross that can crush a movement in its infancy, but there is some really exciting music making its way to the fans these days and it’s great to be able to really get stuck into new stuff again. In a decade when fads came thick and fast and blowing away the dust in the forgotten corners of pop culture was, for some, the only way to find anything resembling the great and the good, it finally feels exciting to be going to gigs, checking new bands out and buying records again. 2009 is dead, long live 2010.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Out This Monday!

If you've still got pennies left the week before payday then you're doing better than us. Why not celebrate by investing in some awesome new music. The below records all come out this coming Monday (25th Jan). Enjoy

Beach House - Teen Dream (Sub Pop) www.myspace.com/beachhousemusic

Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM (Because) www.myspace.com/charlottegainsbourg

Animal Collective - Campfire Songs (Paw Tracks) www.myspace.com/animalcollective

Fucked Up - Couple Tracks Singles 2002-2009 (Matador) www.myspace.com/epicsinminutes

Magnetic Fields - Realism (Nonesuch Records) www.myspace.com/themagneticfields

Tindersticks - Falling Down A Mountain (4AD) www.myspace.com/tindersticksofficial

Four Tet - There Is Love In You (Domino) www.myspace.com/fourtetkieranhebden

Fool's Gold - Fool's Gold (Iamsound) www.myspace.com/foolsgold

Chew Lips - Unicorn (Family Records) www.myspace.com/chewlips

She & Him - Volume Two Release Date Announced

Everyone's favourite elven indie princess Zooey Deschanel, has teamed up with troubadour M Ward for another She & Him release.

Volume One was extremely well received upon its release in 2008, garnering critical acclaim and public adoration for its contemporary take on dainty country and breezy southern rock. Well according to a press release on their website, Volume Two promises more of the same as Ward adds "Zooey writes, I produce, and we both bring our ideas to the studio."

Volume Two is released on April 5th on Double Six Records with first single, In The Sun available for download now.

You can hear it here

Friday, 22 January 2010

Billy Childish

Billy leads protest against Penguin

After receiving a 'cease and desist' order from Penguin Publishers over the illegal use of the Penguin Classics cover on his new book of poetry 'The Un-corrected Billy Childish', the cult musician and artist decided to hold a book burning session outside the company's offices in London last night.

An impromptu reading of some scathing works on the subject of poetry, was followed by an invitation to a gathered crowd to offer up their own books for the bonfire along with several copies of Billy's new release.

Beach House - Silver Soul

There's a great clip up from 'Silver Soul', one of the track's from the new Beach House album 'Teen Dream' set to be released on Sub Pop this coming Tuesday up on their website. Go check it out..


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Midlake - The Courage of Others

Some say without Midlake there would be no Fleet Foxes and Robin Pecknold would still be sat in that basement fingerpicking along to Nick Drake records. They'd probably be right. Its inevitable that the new Midlake album will be labelled with 'sound-a-like' jibes by the ne'er know betters. But you know better right?

Cool, ok so the new Midlake album The Courage of Others is released in the UK and Europe on Monday 1st February. Tally Ho heard a few tracks and it seems like they've fused the twisted alchemy of 70's British folk coven Pentangle with the soaring harmonies of their Laurel Canyon contemporaries Cosby, Stills Nash and why the hell not, Young too. Oh and they've thrown in a bit of prog for good measure.

So, not to force the point but anyone who likes beards, harmonies and Middle Earth lyrical references will dig this album.

Here's a little teaser vid.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Titus Andronicus

New Members + New Single

With the new Titus Andronicus single 'Four Score and Seven' the first from upcoming album 'Monitor' due for release on Febuary 9th. The band have also announced the arrival of two new members in the form of Amy Klein ( Electric guitar + Violin ) and David Robbin's (Keyboard + Vocals).

Listen to the new single here


It Ain't All Bad

Prison's to Ban Recorded Music

It will come as news to the ear's of our misguided middle classes who claim British Prison's are like an all expenses cruise around the Med, that the playing of recorded music will be banned in communial area's of our wholesome jails from the beginning of next week.
Ian poree of the National Offender Management Service has decided that the licence fee's involved in playing recorded music are far too expensive.
"In view of the high cost, the financial constraints on the service and the likely perception of spending large amounts of money on music for prisoners, the decision has been taken not to purchase a licence," Poree wrote in a leaked internal document, reports The Guardian.

So no longer will our jailbird's recline in comfort to sounds of Embryonic and have to order their own copy of the new Vampire Weekend album with their no doubt laundered cash.

Still they've got Chris Moyles breakfast show on the wireless.... The lucky buggers.

Eat Skull = Tasty

Kiwi loving Portland residents Eat Skull were responsible for one of Tally Ho's favourite LP's of last year. Wild & Inside was a collection of heavy, organ led, spring-heeled pop gems that proved there is more to the 'Skull than their distortion pedals.

Well, they're back with a new 7" on underground label Woodsist 'Jerusalem Mall'. News is they've apparently signed for an LP with the label too, due out late in the year. In the meantime, head on over to their myspace here for more info on the new release and to (re) aquiant yourself with the awesome sounds of Wild & Inside.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Radiohead's Thom Yorke is to co-host Giles Peterson's radio show tomorrow according to the beeb's website. Yorke will be 'joining the musical dots – soul, hip hop, Afro, latin, dubstep, jazz and beyond'.


It has just been announced that a 'Hope For Haiti' telethon will be screened live in the UK on January 22nd. The event, organised by actor George Clooney will also feature the likes of Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Haitian Born singer Wyclef Jean and very sadly Bono, in a two hour special.

Coming soon...

Gig's to check out over the next few weeks....

Thursday 21st Jan
Old Blue Last Re-launch Party / Vice Issue Launch
38 Great Eastern St
Shoreditch EC2A 3ES

Monday 25th Jan
Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Rd, London, W12 7LJ
Tickets: £13

Tuesday 26th Jan
No Pain in Pop presents.
Hoxton Bar + Kitchen
2- 4 Hoxton Square, N1 6NU
Tickets: £9

Thursday 28th Jan
The Tabernacle, Powis Square, London, W11 2AY
Tickets: £12

Saturday 30th Jan
Bird on a Wire presents
The Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9JB

Wednesday 3rd February, 2010
Hoxton Bar and Kitchen
2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU
Tickets: £6.50

Jay-Z, Thom Yorke and Pavement! Coachella 2010 Line-Up Announced

Today Coachella Festival has announced the line up for the 2010 event, held in California's Coachella Valley.

The music festival is known for its all conquering line up and ability to coax retired alt rockers such as Jesus and Mary Chain out of retirement, although apparently Morrissey still isn't returning their calls...

For most of us its a dream away from the reality of Leeds/Reading Festival, ironic campfire shouting matches and being burned alive in your tent at four in the morning by a looting party. But we can dream...

End of the Road announces line-up

Black Mountain, The Felice Brothers, Antlers and The Low Anthem have all been announced for the End Of The Road festival bill taking place in Dorset on September 10-12th.

Also on the bill:

The Antlers
Black Mountain
Cate Le Bon
Diane Cluck with Anders Griffin
Daredevil Christopher Wright
Deer Tick
Dengue Fever
Django Django
Don’t Move
Elliott Brood
Felice Brothers
Forest Fire
Frank Fairfield
Jessica Lea Mayfield
Joe Pug
Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell
The Low Anthem
Mountain Man
The Ruby Suns
Timber Timbre
The Unthanks

Billy Battles the Bankers

Never one to shy from a choice political statement, folk singer Billy Bragg has threatened to withhold any future tax payments unless the governement stops banks issueing large bonuses to it's employees.

With public outrage over huge 'banker' bonuses capturing the nation's attention over the past year, the artists claim comes at a time when the Royal Bank of Scotland are due to payout £1.5 Billion to investment bankers after previously agreeing to lower deals in the current financial climate.

Bragg states on his facebook page:

'I believe that the government have their priorities wrong', '

"I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, to inform him that I am no longer prepared to fund the excessive bonuses of RBS investment bankers. Unless he acts to limit them to £25,000, I shall be withholding my tax payment on January 31."





Check out this great Jarvis interview at his three day exhibition last November at the Village Underground in Shoreditch.

Dark Was The Night aids Haiti disaster

Remember last year's awesome compilation Dark Was The Night produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National to raise global awareness for the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Well the Red Hot Organisation behind the project have agreed to donate an emergency grant of $150,000 taken from proceed's of the album to help fund Partners in Health who are providing immediate assistance to the people of Haiti in the aftermath of last week's earthquakes.

Aswell as the grant all proceeds from the sale of The Dark Was The Night over the next 60 DAYS will be awarded to Partners in Health to aid the effort.

So if you haven't got a copy already, go buy one here at.......


Joanna Newsom

New Album next month...

Confirmation today, that yes the new Joanna Newsom album will be released on Febuary 23rd and is enititled 'Have Me On'.



After a week to reflect on the sad, sad news of Jay Reatard's untimely death at the age of 29, the subsequent fallout from it has become all the more depressing.

In an age of instant messaging and internet anonymity the leak of spurious details, unsavoury diatribes and unfounded rumour has reached fever pitch. We would prefer to remember the Memphis garage rocker for the countless great albums he made as a member of Lost Sounds , The Reatards and especially 2006's Blood Visions.

But adrift in this sea of uncertain information, i've witnessed a muted reaction to Jay's death. The lack of ownership and personal feeling in music seem's to have dissapeared in recent years, as a consequence of the ease of access to media content. 'Die-hard' fan's no longer need to trawl the shelves for the lastest '7' and so it's possible to admire new band's without owning a record or seeing a show. Cast against a backdrop of murky forum debates and conflicting reports. It's harder to believe and harder to react.

However flood's of tributes from Jay's friends and contemporaries are enough to make us realise what a tragic loss to music this really is:

“We want to express our condolences to the friends and family of Jay Reatard, on his sudden passing today.” The Pixies

"Jay was as full of life as anyone we've ever met, and responsible for so many memorable moments as a person and artist. We’re honored to have known and worked with him, and we will miss him terribly." Matador Records

“Jay was what few people have the capacity to be. He created an undeniably classic album that contained so much pain transferred to tape in such an explosive way that it made you feel different after hearing it. He was transgressive and honest. His flaws were something he focused on and overdubbed and distorted until they made you forget who he really was-- a person with feelings and a good heart. He loved music and worked hard from a young age to pursue it. He was a self-made and unmade man. I am truly sickened to see him go." Bradford Cox.

Here's a video to one of Jay's last singles 'It Ain't Gonna Save Me' from the album 'Watch me Fall'.

Field Music

Field Music announced the release of new LP Field Music - Measure towards the end of 2009. At a time when people were either busy buying Best Of compilations for Dad’s Christmas present, looking into their crystal ball to 2010 or blowing the dust off the year’s releases and compiling endless lists, it seems to have been overlooked by the ever present hype machine. But theirs has always been a marginal existence, relying on discerning listeners to build a core fan-base willing to indulge experimentation and development as long as the hooks remained.

A chance listen to Marc Riley on BBC 6 the other day was all it took for the first tingles of curiosity to send me straight to my computer. The track I heard was called ‘Effortlessly’, a more aptly titled record I can’t imagine. Reminiscent of the Soft Boys in their Underwater Moonlight heyday and closer to the real spirit of ‘79 than anything White Lies, Editors or any other U2-aping, Rickenbacker-wielding second class post punkers can muster, ‘Effortlessly’ bathes in accented harmonies without pushing the regional thing, sticking close to the pop of XTC via the art-punk of Wire with its up front bass line and jarring guitar work outs.

You could almost say it’s uptight, but there’s something inherently danceable in the beat propelling the record toward the listener. I’ve managed to hear a few more tracks from the double LP; combining the uniformed precision-pop of groups such as New Order, with the loose flourish of progressive glam rockers Sparks, it sounds like the promise of ‘Effortlessly’ will be fulfilled. I’m just entering the honeymoon period with this song, you know, when you’re just familiar enough with a record that it sends shivers down your spine whenever your favourite guitar flourish or harmonies kick in…lovely. Check it out here for yourself.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Smith Westerns Interview Summer 2009

One of the reasons Tally Ho! began, apart from the awe-inspiring vanity and delusions of those involved, was to champion the marginalised and the under-exposed. Those artists working individually or collectively, way over in the corner of love. The purpose being, to try to bring them some deserved recognition and perhaps remove the smokescreen a little.

With this in mind, may I present forth the Smith Westerns…a young US group that seem to effortlessly conjure up all that is great and good about pop music past and present. With their cloudy Wall of Sound production values and vocals that you can’t understand, but need to chant along to anyway, they’re just too easy to fall for.

Not being one to shy away from a ‘musicrush’ I fell fast and hard. What followed was a conversation with main man Cullen, firmly routed in the eye of the storm as they ready themselves for the release of their debut long player. The idea was to make this a feature, but I think the answers speak for themselves pretty well and don’t deserve to be messed with or paraphrased by some half trained hack…enjoy.

Here in the UK, we’re still being kept very much in the dark when it comes to Smith Westerns….could you introduce yourselves for the uninitiated?

Cullen: Yeah. For sure. I’m Cullen and I play guitar and do the lead vocal, my brother Cameron plays bass, Max plays lead guitar and sings as well, and Hal plays drums live with us. We are all about 18 years old give or take my brother who is 17. We live in Chicago and started making music when we were 15 and 16. We are also affectionately known as the S Dubz for short.

How did you guys get together? Was it the classic case of, ‘We’re young, we’re bored, we like music, let’s make some’?

C: That definitely had something to do with it. We all went to high school together with the exception of Hal who started playing with us later. I think we were all really disenchanted with the options available to you in high school: like it was either be a douche jock/bro, a loser, or an art kid. We were more of the latter, and we all started buying a lot records and getting into some good music. I think we wanted to try to recreate what we had been listening to and music was like the only thing we had total control over.

Was it easy to get gigs around Chicago when you first started out? In most cities it’s easy to get trapped into becoming a jobbing band in your local scene, certainly here in London many bands have reached local hero status and then been practically ignored when they’ve tried to tour other parts of the country. How do you avoid that?

C: It was fairly easy to get shows in Chicago just because Todd Killings of Hozac Records was and still is very much behind us. The problem is that people in Chicago are fucking idiots.

The bands that get the best bills, like the ones that have the bigger touring bands, are the ones that are friends with the venues and the promoters. Which is why I think no one gives a shit about Chicago music because you never see the good bands (are there any?). Only bands made up of members of promoters friends that fucking suck and who make just the lamest/tired music possible.

Also there is a lot of bullshit cock sucking amongst all these terrible Chicago bands. One guy writes for this pseudo publication of Chicago culture and essentially just writes up his friends’ bands. Bands that fucking suck get all this hype! We don’t get much press here but the people who stumble into us usually like it. We gave up consistently trying to get actual gigs because I don’t like the people we are playing to.

Now we mainly play house shows to all the various college kids who attend Chicago schools like U of C and School of The Art Institute. So, I think to answer your question, we are probably liked more outside of Chicago, and our scene is so fucking lame/retarded we just skirt around it.

You started pretty young, but judging by your MySpace, your sound seems to have moved on quite a bit since the first 7inch…have you found your stride or do you think you’ll keep on evolving with each release?

C: Oh yeah. We recorded that 7inch when we were all 15 and 16. None of us knew how to play our instruments except for Max. We’re kind of embarrassed about it just because it’s the furthest thing from what we play now. I think we have definitely found a niche of where we are making music that kind of incorporates all our current and past influences. I mean as a band we agreed on trying to evolve because we don’t want to be pigeonholed as any one sound. The songs just need to be good and new, which doesn’t require a certain sound: at least not for us.

What inspires you to keep making music?

C: The status quo of the music scene in Chicago and in general. The bands that get the most press either here in Chicago or in the scene at large usually don’t deserve it. The prospect of not having to work if we keep pushing to make music, and the possibility that one day girls will want to fuck us after we play a show. Also the free drugs and beer are ALWAYS great.

Plus no current bands really make the music we want to hear. Yeah sure a couple songs, but I can’t say I can listen to a current record and tell you every song is good and original.

You’ve avoided with aplomb, becoming just another reverential psych rock band, some of the songs we’ve heard so far betray influences from Glam to wild Cajun/Country and Post Punk…do you think wearing your influences on your sleeve comes with the territory of being a young band?

C: Yes! I mean I was watching this documentary on E! (lets assume Cullen means the TV channel, E! not that he was on mind bending drugs when he was watching it, although...) about Ozzy Osbourne and he was talking about Sabbath and said something like every band’s first album is the best because they have nothing to lose.

We don’t have a stubborn fan base or a big label deal. So we can only go up. The thing about our new album is that we tried to make every song sound different while sounding cohesive of Smith Westerns. That’s why you hear the influences because I feel like if each song has different influences it starts lending to building a sound that is total Smith Westerns.

I recently came across a rather awesome mimed performance on Chic-a-go-go, a local cable show. To an outsider it looks like a messed up, punk Sesame Street, but judging by the quality and quantity of bands that have performed on there, it must be something of a Chicago institution?

C: I actually hadn’t heard about it until I saw our best bud Nobunny performing on it. But yeah it’s really kitsch and I actually think more people outside of Chicago like it because I always get compliments about it from people not from Chicago.

How did that performance come about?

C: Todd Killings got us the hook-up, and Chic-a-go-go sent us a message and asked us to play. We were down.

Was it as fun as it looks?!

C: It was kind of awkward because first and foremost it’s a kid show. Actually we recorded the song before we got there and got drunk on the train ride to the studio. I didn’t know the lyrics because we had written them about an hour before which is why it looks like I’m mumbling. We also tried to dress and act as stupid as possible. It was weird because we were all drunk being idiots and yelling and trying to dance amongst all these little kids and their parents. They kept giving us dirty looks because we probably reeked of the cheap tequila we were drinking. I thought I was Mick Jagger.

What other contemporary bands, if any, do you feel are following a similar path to Smith Westerns?

C: I don’t know. We play with a lot of the various garage, lo-fi, and neo-bubblegum pop bands. I don’t know any contemporary bands that I am really interested in, and I think the Smith Westerns are trying to be as different as possible. We want to be hit makers.

What plans do you have for 2009 aside from the LP? Any plans to tour the UK/Europe soon?

C: We are going on a Duuuurrrty South Tour to Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, and Memphis in May. Then we are doing an East coast and West coast summer tour. We’re also releasing a seven inch on Rob’s House (records) hopefully in the future soon.
As far as UK/Europe goes, for sure! I think if this LP does well we would definitely come, hopefully it will be easier to book. We would want to play overseas just ‘cause I feel that their perspective to music isn’t as fucking retarded as it is here in the states.

Who would be your ideal touring partners for this expedition?

C: Wow. Um. Someone who sounds nothing like us, isn’t in our scene, and is super known. M.I.A! I’m pretty sure her fan base is a bunch of attractive dumb girls who would totally be down for sucking our dicks and buying all our records. More realistically, I have no idea?

The LP is soon to be released on Hozac Records in the states…will we see a UK release at some point?

C: It’s actually gonna be distributed there. Todd, Hozac Records, runs a tight ship and it should be available there. It also should hopefully be released by the middle of May but more realistically no later than early June. But I mean if it turns out the UK loves it, we will come as fast as possible there and tour the shit out of it.

It’s gonna be amazing, right?

C: YES! Yes! Yes! It’s ten songs. The recordings are what we call “hi-fi lo-fi”. We try to sound as produced as possible on our four-track. Unlike other lo-fi/DIY bands that use the lo-fi distortion to make their songs we use it to supplement ours. The whole idea is to make it sound like big-budget recording, but we have to work with what we have, which is Max’s basement.

And finally, with this month’s Tally Ho we’re giving away a little keepsake filled with the poetry and short stories of our friends and contributors…anything you’d like to contribute???

C: I don’t have anything good. I’m an art school reject.

You can check out Smith Westerns at http://www.myspace.com/smithwesterns

Christmas Island Interview Summer 2009

Ok, I admit it, I have no life. I trawl MySpace and music news sites, desperately trying to discover some unblogged band, untapped musical genre or obscure record label that only releases its stuff on slices of toast.

I’ve delved so far up my own arse lately that even Pitchfork isn’t doing it for me and I’ve started checking out drone-rock and psychedelic ambient bands that only really specialist blogs share for download. I’m not even sure I like any of it; I’m just desperately searching for the greatest psychedelic sound ever made.
Thankfully, before all this, there was Christmas Island; a band really worth getting excited about.

Their sound comes close (but not too close) to the much fĂȘted Dunedin (NZ) bands of the early 80’s such as The Clean, and embraces the DIY aesthetics prevailing this summer. They’re just one of a school of American groups whose sounds are slowly coasting over the Atlantic, more a reluctant windblown lilo-mounted stumble onto our shores, than an ambition fuelled Yank-rock invasion.

They’re timeless, but not because in 40 years time people will be writing dog shit philosophy about their lyrics or dissecting the contents of their bin-bags. Just because there will always be a summer (ice age permitting) and there will always be a need for awesome blissful escape in jingle jangle guitars that burn holes in mail order amps. The kind of sound that makes you want to drink margaritas on your balcony then jump in the canal in nowt but your kecks.

I tried my luck getting in touch with the much touted troupe to try and satisfy my obsessive urges before they got out of hand (see above). To my gleeful surprise front man Brian Carver graciously agreed…

First things first, can you introduce the band for the uninitiated...

Brian Carver: Lucy Wehrly plays drums. I play guitar and sing. Lucy and I write all the songs and play on the recordings. Craig Oliver plays guitar and keyboard when we play live.

How did the band come together?

BC: I guess pretty organically, whatever that means. Lucy was playing drums in the Cowabunga Dudes with our friends Bova and Kevin. I really liked how minimal and spontaneous (read: drunk) their sound was so when that band broke up I suggested starting a band with Lucy. It didn't hurt either that Lucy and I were already romantically involved. Initially, it was just going to be a recording project but Lucy really wanted to play out live. After playing a few shows as a two-piece, we realized we needed to flesh out our sound more, so I tapped my best friend Craig to play guitar and keyboards. We're a pretty tight-knit crew.

How long were you playing together before labels started getting interested?

BC: I guess it was just a few months after recording "Doin' Swell" that Harry from Almost Ready offered to put it out on Vol. 5 of his "World's Lousy with Ideas" 7" series. Everything else kind of went from there.

You came to the attention of taste makers and bloggers such as Gorilla vs Bear almost immediately with the Morning Sunshine release. Tell us how that cover came about.

BC: I'm a big fan of the Fall and I went through a period where I tracked down the originals of every cover they did (there's a lot). That's how came across the Idle Race, an old 60's psych-pop band fronted by Jeff Lynne. "Morning Sunshine" is one of my favorite songs by them and we needed another song for our side of the split 7" with Le Jonathan Reilly so we recorded a cover version.

Do you feel any added pressure because of all the attention/anticipation surrounding the upcoming LP?

BC: We're definitely anticipating its release, too, but we're not really feeling too much pressure. It's finished and we're really happy with how it came out and that's what matters. It sounds great. Mike McHugh at the Distillery is the man!
It's a huge thing for me, though, because I never thought I would do anything with music, let alone record an album.

How important do you think Bloggers and the online community are right now for breaking new bands?

BC: I guess it’s important but I don't like the whole "hype machine" aspect. You're seeing bands blow up based on praise that one blog regurgitated from another blog and so forth. It's created this weird backwards model for doing things: start out successful and then figure out how to be a band. Even then, it's an artificial, insular type of success; just because a band gets a glowing review on Pitchfork or Stereogum doesn't mean the world-at-large gives a shit.

I don't think we're exempt from that because things happened quickly for us, too, but it was on a much smaller scale and luckily, all that stuff kind of died down. The realities of being in a band set in. It's an insane amount of work. It might not seem like we're up to much when we only post a new song every couple of months (if not longer) but we're constantly practicing, writing songs, playing shows, recording, etc. Everything takes longer than anticipated, especially considering we all have day jobs and personal lives.

Would you agree that music journalism, at least in printed form, is becoming increasingly redundant for fans of and practitioners of, non mainstream music?

BC: I actually went to school for journalism and I work in print and I can safely say that print is redundant, period. It's a dying medium. Everything is moving towards the internet. I’m going to need a new job soon.

You seem to be gigging pretty hard in the lead up to the record release, what’s been your favourite show so far?

BC: I think any shows we’ve played with the Fresh & Onlys, Meth Teeth, the Intelligence and Personal & the Pizzas have been great. Whether we played a good set or not is irrelevant; it’s just fun playing and partying with friends who make really awesome music. The In the Red (Records) showcase we played at SXSW was probably our tightest set and was a great night through and through. Somehow, though, the sloppiest and drunkest sets we play are the ones that everyone raves about.

Do you find you can write whilst on the road? Was the record written in this way or were the songs all there before you played live?

BC: We haven't really been on the road enough to have had time to write songs. Typically, Lucy and I take a month off from playing out to work on new material and then we show the songs to Craig. The bulk of "Blackout Summer" was written over the course of three months in our practice space.

Any plans to visit the UK?

BC: We definitely want to! Probably after the LP comes out. It's more a matter of figuring out finances, work stuff, etc.

Which of you guys are involved with Spirit Photography? We love the Sacred Bones 7inch (Time is Racing), did SP pre-date Christmas Island?

BC: Craig and I do Spirit Photography. We started doing that project probably about a year before Christmas Island.

Is it important for you to explore other genres with your music, albeit in a different guise, to prevent boredom? Or is it just a case of playing with a different set of musicians...?

BC: I think it's more about playing with different musicians and having different roles in the songwriting. Sure, Christmas Island is more "pop" and Spirit Photography is moodier and more experimental, but I don't feel we're limited to any particular genre with either project. If Christmas Island wanted to write a longer, jammier song that sounded like Neu! that'd be fine. Spirit Photography is actually working on some shorter, poppier songs.

Any future releases planned for Spirit Photography?

BC: Yes! Right now we're working on a tape/CD called "Circle in the Fire." It's pieced together from various sessions we recorded in '07 and '08 with our friend Frank on drums. Neon Aztec is putting it out. After that we're contributing to a 4-way split 7" that will come out on Craig's label, Volar Records. We're also talking about doing another 7" and/or 12" at some point, too.

Lately a lot of bands and record labels have begun to mention The Clean and Flying Nun Records as a big influence on them and their attitudes to the whole process of releasing music. What is it about that particular scene that, for you, is so appealing?

BC: First and foremost, it's the music. New Zealand's isolation from the rest of the world kind of allowed pop music there to mutate in strange, new ways. Even within the Flying Nun scene there was a lot of diversity: the Axemen, the Bats, the Chills, the Verlaines - none of those bands sound too terribly similar. It's almost like the Galapagos Islands of music.

For me, the whole DIY outlook on music came more from growing up in the punk scene and the idea of working with what you have in terms of talent and musical equipment. A few years back, when I heard the Messthetics compilations, it REALLY clicked for me. I think it's possible to be a better songwriter than musician and the songwriting in a lot of those songs really shines through. The rough production values and sour notes only add to their charm.

Speaking of labels, how is it working with In The Red Records?

BC: Larry's the best! I can't think of a better label to be on. It's great to be on a label that has such a rich musical history and that's run by someone super-reputable who knows what they're doing.

They don’t seem to put a foot wrong, which I’d imagine inspires some confidence in you as band on their roster?

BC: Absolutely. It blows my mind that we're on the same label that put out a Sparks record. Larry has a keen ear and he only puts out stuff he likes so it's really flattering that he thinks enough of us to want to put out our record. Plus, it's great to be on a label with Blank Dogs, the Intelligence and Wounded Lion.

So, the album is done, what can we expect?

BC: It's pretty varied and I think it stands head and shoulders above anything else we've recorded, in terms of songwriting and production values. We try out a bunch of different things but it still sounds really cohesive. Overall, I think it’s a great pop record.

Nodzzz Interview March 2009

Here's a rerun of an interview we did with Nodzzz mainman Anthony Atlas back in March 2009.

Fortunately for us, but somewhat unfortunately for him, Anthony had recently lost his job so he was able to satisfy our curiosity for Nodzzz in a truly thorough manner.

- watch out for more archive interviews cropping up from the likes of Christmas Island and Phenomenal Handclap Band..

Tally Ho: Before we delve too deep, I just watched the ad for the record with ‘Is She There’ playing on your blog and the acoustic video of ‘In the City (Contact High)’ from your MySpace…they’re really cool, were they made by one of the guys in the band?

Anthony Atlas: Yeah, they were made by me. I was recently unemployed. I have a lot of time right now to make stuff like that.

The ‘I Don’t Wanna (Smoke Marijuana)’ single got great press, how long was it after that came out that the good people at What’s Your Rupture approached you about recording the ‘Nodzzz’ LP?

AA: It was a couple of months afterwards. Kevin from What’s Your Rupture had heard it through some friends of ours in Seattle. They played it for him.

How long had you been playing together at that point? Anthony, you mentioned college, is that where you met the other members of the band?

AA: We’ve been a band since autumn 2006. I did meet Sean Paul at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, but I met Pete, the first drummer, much earlier, when we were about 10, in middle school. That was in New Jersey. The first time I met Eric Butterworth, our drummer now, was at a show my teenage hardcore band played at in Long Beach, California. We stayed at his house and jammed in his living room. The seeds of Nodzzz were planted in many parts of the country, almost a decade ago.

What did you study?

AA: I studied various fine art, and writing. First photography, and then more drawing and writing. It was not a coherent academic path, but I went to a school without majors and grades, so maybe that was to be expected.

You’ve played a lot of shows with bands such as Wavves, Blank Dogs, Vivian Girls, has the success they’ve enjoyed and the European response to their shows inspired you to get a European tour together?

AA: Yes. We’re inspired to go to Europe, but I don’t think those groups success over there will make it much easier for us. We have a very last minute, poorly organized vibe, which has, in history, made it difficult to properly invade foreign countries.

Do you feel a kinship with these bands?

AA: For me, the kinship is incidental, but positive and welcome. Like most exciting times in music cultures, one sees that a variety of people were creating similar things without knowing anyone else was in on it too. Everyone shares the same motivating factors and only though producing and performing the music do they finally meet and merge with other groups and musicians. Then there is the emergence you referred to.

From a fan’s point of view, and not to get too sentimental, it makes it that little bit more exciting, can you relate to that?

AA: Yes. It’s hard to decipher precise reasons why one does what one does, but doing weird rock and roll bands is made more fun through friends and community. A music scene is a far, far cry from anything utopian, but there are moments that seem positively alternative to other avenues of socializing.

How does San Francisco compare right now to the celebrated scene in LA and I guess, Brooklyn too?

AA: San Francisco is entirely less populated than those two other places, so we’ve more of a small-town dynamic here. Los Angeles and New York are cities where bands struggle to find places to practice for cheap, and have to contend in a saturated scene too. On some subway lines in New York, you’d be surprised if you weren’t standing near someone with a guitar case on their way to practice. San Francisco is still not the easiest place to do a band, but it’s more a dozen eggs, rather than the chicken coup in Los Angeles, and Brooklyn.

Are there any SF bands you can recommend or that you think are being criminally overlooked?

AA: They’re not overlooked here in San Francisco, but probably are in the UK: Brilliant Colors, Grass Widow, and the Hospitals. These are all fantastic bands, and they have an inspiring presence here. I just listened to a new song by Grass Widow a dozen times in a row.

The record really makes me want to see you guys live. Did the songs evolve from playing live, or was it a case of, ‘we have these songs, we gotta figure out how to get them across in front of an audience’?

AA: We had an entire album’s worth of music before we played any shows. The songs evolved more in a private setting, (i.e. alone in my bedroom), before they were completed by the three of us in practice. I don’t think of us as an essentially live experience, though I do want the songs to exist in an arena outside the record. We’ll tour, play parties, and feign stage moves with the best of them, but I have a feeling if we’re remembered for anything, it will NOT be for our live antics. Though I’ve heard me and Sean have a knack for stage banter.

As a band you seem more willing to expose yourselves than a lot of your contemporaries. No swathes of feedback or reverb, a more personal take on lyrics; they’re not lost in the mix, mumbled or yelped over feedback. Was the decision taken to make a clear, pop sounding record as a reaction against the overwhelming trend for shoe gaze inspired drone?

AA: I think we had our sound and songs for that record pretty much finished before it seemed like there was any dominant trend to be reactionary against. But polarizing towards one sound has not and will not be our intention. We work too atomically for that.

When can we next expect to hear from Nodzzz? What’s in the pipeline?

AA: Well we’ll soon have the True to Life b/w Good Times Crowd single out on What’s Your Rupture, followed by an album. I really want to play England, but I’m sceptical people will actually come to see us! Tell your friends about Nodzzz, and your friends’ friends too!