New music Tuesday: Pink Mountaintops

Taking a break from his hard rock band, Black Mountain, Steve McBean shows his range on Get Back, the latest album from the Canadian’s side project Pink Mountaintops. The new album (out Tuesday) jumps from the driving sound of Ambulance City to the anthemic The Second Summer of Love to the more measured rocker Through All the Worry and the new wave styling of Wheels. And that’s just the first four songs. There’s also the outrageously filthy North Hollywood Microwaves, featuring Annie Hardy of the LA band Giant Drag.  Another plus: the legendary J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) also plays on the album.

White Fence enlists Ty Segall for new album

When LA singer-songwriter Tim Presley, aka White Fence, and the great Ty Segall last collaborated on an album, the result was the excellent release Hair. The record is a lively psychedelic romp and a good blend of Presley and Segall’s musical styles. Two years later, Segall is producing Presley’s latest  offering To the Recently Found Innocent.

In addition to producing the new album, Segall also plays drums on some of the songs. Chicago’s Drag City is releasing the LP in July. “This record, I had to make a change,” Presley says in a statement, “not a drastic change but a change nonetheless.”

Watch Presley and Segall below as they perform a song from Hair.


After announcing hiatus, Thee Oh Sees release a fine album

In December, Thee Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer said his band was taking a break, but he added that there would still be a new album out this year. Though Dwyer insisted his band isn’t breaking up for good, the move raises questions about the group’s future. On Drop, the just-released album, the band known for its frenetic garage rock shows that it can make a record that traverses between heavy psychedelia and lighter, slow numbers.

Drop is a departure from past Oh Sees albums but still rocks out in parts, including on the title track and the psych-garage number Encrypted Bounce. And the progression shouldn’t come as a complete shock. There were hints of this new direction on last year’s excellent Floating Coffin.

Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle plays Record Store Day set at Laurie’s

There are are a lot of really great things going on at Chicago record stores tomorrow (Saturday) but Laurie’s Planet of Sound deserves a shout-out for its in-store lineup.

The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle will play as part of Laurie’s Record Store Day live sets. A number of fine local bands play as well. Check out the schedule here.

Among the other notable in-store performances around town, Kim and Kelley Deal will be playing the Wicker Park Reckless Records. Check out Brooklyn Vegan’s RSD guide for more local happenings.

Legendary New Zealand label Flying Nun reissues a pair of gems

Flying Nun Records is a New Zealand label created in the early ’80s to showcase local talent. The Chills, the Clean, the Bats and Straightjacket Fits are among the many standout bands signed to the label.

This Saturday, on Record Store Day, two excellent reissues will be released in limited quantities: Dunedin Double (featuring four bands) and Who Killed Colonel Mustard by the short-lived group Boredom Games. Dunedin Double is two EPs — one featuring the Chills and Sneaky Feelings and the other is split between the Stones and the Verlaines. Released in 1982, the double EP actually didn’t have a name but it became known as Dunedin Double, which is a reference to the college town that produced these bands. The music is an interesting mix of genres (pop, punk, folk, etc.) that holds up well today more than three decades after it was first recorded.

The second Flying Nun release this Saturday is the reissue of the four-song EP by Boredom Games, a young band whose members would go on to play in other New Zealand groups.  (Lead singer Shayne Carter formed Straightjacket Fits.) The songs here are a little more straight-up punk (think late ’70s and early ’80s UK music).

Best new release: Woods’ With Light and With Love

Woods new album, With Light and With Love, is another shot of psychedelic pop that sounds fresh despite its deep dive into ’60s flower power. “Pop shamanism” is how the band’s own publicity describes the music. Whatever it is, Woods has a knack for sounding anachronistic and essential at the same time. I also love the indie ethos. With its self-released albums, there’s no trace of Woods chasing stardom with even a one-off hit. Despite its infectiously catchy songs, the new album (out Tuesday) is set to a whole lot of jamming that includes a title track extending past 9 minutes.

With Light and With Love actually picks up where the band’s brilliant release Bend Beyond left off. Considering Bend Beyond was my favorite album of 2012, that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Check out Woods next month (May 7) at Subterranean.

The week in music: Jon Langford’s new album

Jon Langford (the Mekons, Waco Brothers) is such a beloved figure in Chicago, it’s difficult to write an objective review of his music. Yet I can honestly say that his new solo album, Here Be Monsters, is really good. The Welsh singer-songwriter and longtime Chicago resident is best known for his Englishman’s interpretation of Americana. On Monsters, we hear more sonic exploration on songs like Drone Operator. Other standouts on the album include Sugar on Your Tongue and Summer Stars. Here Be Monsters is a solid offering from a guy with an already strong catalog of work.

Vinyl fetish: CHIRP Record Fair is this Saturday

chirp flyer

The CHIRP Record Fair, one of the best annual events for vinyl collectors in Chicago, gets underway Saturday at 10 a.m. (8 a.m. if you want to splurge for the early admission). The show is held at 1340 W. Washington Boulevard in Chicago and runs till 7 p.m. Go to this site for a coupon to get a couple of bucks off admission.

CHIRP is the Chicago Independent Radio Project, a non-profit online station at that is run largely by volunteers. Late last year, CHIRP applied for a broadcast license in hopes of becoming a low-power FM radio station.

The fair will feature a number of vendors selling new and used albums. There will also be beer, food and entertainment.

New music Tuesday: Avery Tare’s Slasher Flicks

Avery Tare is the stage name of Animal Collective’s David Portner. On his latest project, Avery Tare’s Slasher Flicks, Portner is joined by Dirty Projectors‘ Angel Deradoorian on keyboards and Ponytail’s Jeremy Hyman on drums for the album Enter the Slasher House. The result? The weirdness of Animal Collective with a twist.

The first track of the album (out today) A Sender sounds very much like an Animal Collective song. While Portner’s distinctive voice punctuates each song on the new album, the band manages to distinguishes itself. By the fourth song, the single Little Fang, Portner and his crew take us into disco territory. Overall, it’s a fun album and will definitely appeal to fans of Portner’s better known outfit.