Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring has Sprung - The Ripple Springtime Listening Guide

Spring time. Flowers, baby chicks, and Easter Egg Hunts. When a young man's fancy turns to love or a young Rippler's fancy turns to finding some new cool sounds to bring in that mellow, fresh, birds-are-singing, flowers-are-blooming, tree-are-greening vibe. (Yeah, I don't know what that last one meant either, but you get the gist.) It's spring and we at the Ripple are fired up. The beach outside our office window looks warm and inviting and we need some music to play on our iblaster. Since, we'll be playing this while the Pope and I engage in some Frisbee tossing, petanque playing, steak grilling, we don't really want to blast the other beach goers into submission with death metal or some mutant core. That's more for back in the office. No, we want something exciting and fresh, but friendly enough that we don't find an army of David Hasselhoff's lifeguards descending down upon us ready to bludgeon us with their orange life preservers.

So, without further ado, our spring time suggestions for beach party fun.

Cory Case - Waiting on a Remedy

We've written several times in the past about the gloriously trashy garage punk coming from our good friend over at Dead Beat Records. Heck, Bill Bondsmen, Forbidden Tigers, and Juanita y Los Feos have all received the Ripple treatment at some time. But then, just when you think you've got the label pegged, they go and do something like this and completely blow my mind. Cory Case isn't punk, he isn't garage. What he is is perhaps one of the most gifted singer/songwriters to plow the fertile fields of folky Americana in a long time. This is a glorious platter of hobo blues, traveling folk. Sung, strummed, and blown (on the harmonica) by Cory alone, not to mention recorded and mixed by Cory, Waiting on a Remedy showcases a man of uncompromising talent.

While the cover shows Cory sitting beside his motorcycle, guitar in hand, before a large field of weedy grass or corn, in reality, the photo should be of Cory sitting along side a hobo encampment, open box car in the background. This is nomadic Dylan-esque folk, one man and his guitar, harmonica at the ready, and Cory's talent as a songwriter is enough to prevent this disc from ever sounding too familiar or too slow. Influences of Jim Croce blend with the melodicsm of James Taylor, the edge of Paul Simon, and a touch of something completely new and somehow subversive. Listening to the the completeness of this disc, and Cory's road weary delivery, it's impossible to believe he's only 21 years old.

"Father Time," starts off with some spartan strumming and a few loose string pluckings. Cory's voice is ghostly, near haunting in tone. Particularly when he accompanies himself on backing vocals. It's enough to bring goosebumps to my flesh. Regardless of the bare arrangement, this is a fully realized tune and downright beautiful. "Words Fly Away," brings on a memory of a young Neil Young in guitar play, with Cory's delicate tenor floating over the infectious melody. "It's all Over," seems to give a nod to the Everly Brothers in buoyant chorus, as Cory sings a "see ya later," song to some girl who's time has come. "Dressed in White," features some fine acoustic guitar playing while "Lab Rats," brings on the down-home hobo blues along the back of a juicy piano, a fat harmonica line, and some of Cory's best electric guitar and songwriting. "Waiting on a Remedy," showcases another aspect of Cory's varied talent with a hauntingly beautiful piano intro. This is a gorgeous composition, perhaps, my favorite track, but so damn hard to tell amongst so many quality choices. All I know is that I wish I was sitting at Cory's campfire, or bumming it across the country in his open boxcar. That journey would never get old. A stunning debut and definitely worth searching out.

Buy here:

L'Avventura - Your Star Was Shining

Leaving no stone unturned in our pursuit of the vast variety of unheard, let me be the first to introduce you to L'Avventura. Possessing one of the most unusual and unlikely origins of any band I've ever heard of, L'Avventura specialize in melodically intense, impeccably crafted, soulful alternative/indy rock. Seems Jeff Davis was busking in the subways of London's Tube during his time off from collaborating with Gang of Four guitarist Andy Gill, when fellow busker Fergus Griffin heard Davis playing and just had to pull out his guitar and join in. After several weeks of their "Tube Tour," the duo stumbled upon another busker, a lone upright bassist with a dancing monkey, and the band was formed. Monkey included.

And with that inauspicious beginning, we have the gloriously perfect "Swan Dive," riding a post-T. Rex melody with large looping guitars and an absolutely groovy bass. This is as confident and assured lead off cut from an indy band as I've heard in ages. "Pretend You Don't See Me," brings on shades of the Beatles, while "Nightmare Blues," grooves deep within the reaches of it's own imagination. But trust me, groove it does. Personally, I think the songs where the boys lock in with each other like "Black Venus," a fine example of exquisite songcraft, show off L'Avventura's talent better than some of the slower tracks like the Paul Simon-esque"Angela Priest," but all tracks, all the way to the closing Beatles hooks of "Here's to Absent Friends," demonstrate the same fine attention to detail and craft. I'm blessed to have L'Avventura in my own backyard, so as soon as I can, I'll be catching the boys at a show, but for the rest of you, check out their web page. Yes, what you see is true. The whole album is there for free download. Is this a great country or what?

Motorik - Klang!

Ready for something a little more explosive? Per their suggestive name, Motorik launch out of the starting gate with all 400 hp of post-punk, Gang of Four-inspired engines revving. A female-fronted Seattle three-piece with Sio on bass and vocals, Adrian Garver on guitar and Hoagie Gero on drums, Motorik are like a massive blast of the some of the best art-punk, angular post-punk funk of the eighties infused with a new found fountain youth in the form of Sio's driving, repetitive and absolutely addictive bass playing. And did I say angular? Let me tell you, this disc has so many angles it could be a geometry teacher's wet dream. Edgy, punchy, anxious, and tighter than a banker's wallet, Klang! showcases a burst of infectious post-punk and is well worth the effort of tracking down.

And when I say energetic, I mean this album absolutely pulses with a heartbeat all it's own. "Or So I Thought," bubbles out on the back of a darkened funk bass line that plays like a fine burst of cotton candy, it's so sweet. Then, just like that sugary confection, the sugar high hits you in the form of Adrian's fits and spasms of guitar and Hoagies never-wavering beat. Sio has a voice so much entirely her own, it's not even worth searching for a comparison, but overall, this song reminds of one of my lost favorite old post-punkers, Get Smart. But here's the trick. The songwriting is so strong, and the band's sense of melody and dynamics so dead-on, that songs come off as angular without ever being disjointed. This is art punk that has lost none of its accessibility. "Box of Knives," takes this vibe one step further, brimming with Gang of Four angst and urgency. Sio's voice once again inhabits a realm of her own naming, a voice that certainly wouldn't work well with a more traditional sound, but is just dynamite here, that extra layer of high fructose corn syrup to layer on top of our energy buzz. Again, Adrian drops in epileptic seizures of guitar a la Andy Gill and the whole song sears down the lost Au Pairs highway. Beautiful stuff.

"Robert Palmer," brings on a more menacing bass line, shrieks of dissonant guitar, and Sio's quirky coodles, gulps, coo's and chirps as vocals. Shades of the Mekons with massive looping bass lines. Damn, she can play. And again, Hoagie does his damnedest to anchor this whole conglomeration of disparate parts into one cohesive song with his Teutonic drumming, and what a song it is. "It's Just Sugar," finally catches up with my sugar analogy chiming with that infinite buzz. "Utopia Parkway," hints at the excellent Crocodiles-era Echo and the Bunnymen. Wire? Pere Ubu? Pylon? The Pixies? Name your favorite, intense post-punk artists, who's music cringes with palpable tension and a venous system full of anxiety, and you'll be able to place Motorik comfortably by their side. The more I listen to this disc, the more I love it and more I respect the unity of the band; the space they allow Sio to plow her bass lines, until the time comes to pile on the sound in a massive fit of claustrophobia. The band likes to think of their sound as futuristic garage, and that holds well for me. If a bunch of androids were suddenly given life, a collection of instruments and a killer record collection, they'd have a hard time beating this.


buy here: Buy the CD

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...