Sunday, November 28, 2010

Paramount Styles, Live @ An Club (Athens, Nov. 26, 2010)

"We were great, maybe not the greatest..."

Girls Against Boys was certainly among the greatest rock bands of its time, but Scott McCloud is obviously at a different place now. After 25 years of making noise rock, he clearly feels it's time for a little bit of peace and quiet introspection.

Paramount Styles, his new band which also features fellow GVSB alumnus Alexis Fleisig on drums, takes a completely different songwriting approach, with the acoustic guitar taking the spotlight and the cello playing as an important part as the electric guitar or the rhythm section. Not surprisingly, though, for a die-hard GVSB fan like myself, the highlights of this evening’s performance were exactly those Paramount Styles tracks that come closer to the old band’s sound, the moments were McCloud reconnects with his fury and Fleisig starts firing away behind his drum-kit.

Those moments came during "Desire Is Not Enough", "Come to New York" and "I Keep Losing You", reminders of the time when "we were great" as the lyrics to "The Greatest" go, but the rest of the set was a somber affair, with moody tales and acoustic melodies that sometime work ("All eyes are on you now my pet", "The Greatest") and sometimes don’t. Still, McCloud remains a captivating performer and it was certainly a pleasure to see him on stage once again performing his new material, even though this latest encounter has left us with a strong craving for the good old days.

 Paramount Styles live@ An Club

Here’s the set list of the hour-long performance which was equally divided among the two Paramount Styles albums, 2008’s "Failure American Style" and the brand-new "Heaven's Alright":

Race you till tomorrow
Take care of me
Desire is not enough
Stay alive
The girls of Prague
Come to New York
One last surprise
I keep losing you
Paradise happens
The greatest

Encore: Come to where you are

And here is a recent interview with Scott McCloud from MixGrill.

Paramount Styles - Desire is not enough (live@An Club, Nov. 26th, 2010)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Podcast: CMC on MixGrill MindRadio Show

If you've missed it last night, here's your chance to listen to MixGrill's webcast @ featuring some of C.M.C.'s current favorite tunes:

MixGrill MindRadio Show

 Here's the playlist:

1.   Holy Fuck - Latin America
2.   jj - Let Them
3.   Pit Er Pat - Water
4.   The Hundred In The Hands - Gold Blood
5.   Crystal Castles - Not In Love (ft. Robert Smith)
6.   Salem - Redlights (3:44)
7.   White Ring - Ixc999
8.   Glasser - Mirrorage
9.   Warpaint - Bees
10. Twin Shadow - Slow
11. It Sound - I Live For The Future (All Day!)
12. The Duke Spirit - Everybody's Under Your Spell
13. The Fall - Mexico Wax Solvent
14. Killing Joke - Change
15. Paramount Styles - Desire Is Not Enough
16. You Say Party! We Say Die! - Laura Palmer´s Prom
17. Anna Calvi - Jezebel
18. Lykke Li - Get Some
19. Wild Nothing - Chinatown
20. Dum Dum Girls - Stiff Little Fingers
21. Crocodiles - Stoned To Death
22. The Corin Tucker Band - Doubt
23. Sleater-Kinney - Get Up
24. Japandroids - Heavenward Grand Prix
25. No Age - Depletion
26. Autolux - Census

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CMC Radio: Get Some

A heads up, first - tomorrow (25/11) at 8 pm local time (that's 6 pm GMT) I'll be the guest DJ at MixGrill's web-radio show on selecting some of my favorite new tunes along with alegra and leo (hint: the track that lends its title to this post will be played, as well as several other entries from our previous playlists). To tune in, click here.

As for this latest CMC Radio web-broadcast (the sixth in our midweek series), I would say that overall it's more pop-friendly than usual, but it gets darker in places and a bit psychedelic. Click below to listen to our new 43:56-minute mixtape that includes tracks by Lykke Li, The Hundred In The Hands, Summer Camp, jj, Zola Jesus, You Say Party, Paramount Styles, Tame Impala, Cloud Nothings, Best Coast, Wavves and low-fi:

CMC Radio: Playlist 6 - Get Some

1. Get Some - Lykke Li

Excellent new single which you can download here by giving an email address. The video is pretty awesome, too, and you can watch it at the end of this post. Sample lyric: "Like the shotgun needs an outcome, I'm your prostitute, you gon' get some!!!" Wow!

2. Commotion - The Hundred In The Hands

The latest single from hot electropop duo The Hundred In The Hands from their self-titled debut. Check out also their website here, where you can read their THITH zine with reviews and features about the music they're into and some pretty cool mixes of their own on Radio THITH.

3. Why Don't You Stay - Summer Camp

Another boy-girl duo - Summer Camp are Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey and this sunny pop track is from their debut EP "Young" on Moshi Moshi Records.

4. Let Go - jj

From the EP "No.3" released earlier this year. It's their only track currently available on MySpace and I would strongly suggest going here to download their latest, Akon-sampling, single "Let Them", which would be my ideal choice for this playlist.

5. Poor Animal - Zola Jesus

New single from Nika Roza Danilova, not included in her latest album "Stridulum II"

6. Laura Palmer's Prom - You Say Party

The Canadian new wave punkers play their first ever gig in Athens this Sunday at Gagarin 205 and we're planning to be there.

7. The Greatest - Paramount Styles

From "Heaven's Alright", the just-released second LP from the new band of ex-Girls Against Boys singer Scott McCloud. They play here at An Club on Friday - looks like we're gonna have a very busy weekend!

8. Solitude Is Bliss - Tame Impala

From "Innerspeaker", the fine debut album by the Australian neo-psychedelic band.

9. Hey Cool Kid - Cloud Nothings

Catchy new track from the young and rising lo-fi band from Cleveland, Ohio, which started as Dylan Baldi's solo project. The self-titled debut album is expected January 2011 on Carpark and Wichita.

10. When I'm With You - Best Coast

One of the best songs of Best Coast and the bonus track of their excellent debut "Crazy for You" (more about it here).

11. King Of The Beach - Wavves

Wavves and Best Coast go hand in hand lately. This is the surf-punk title-track from Wavves' latest and greatest LP so far.

12. Something - low-fi

Finale with something from Italy. low-fi are from Napoli and play some really mean electro-garage punk. The track is from the rockin' 5-track "low-fi EP" which you can get from Octopus Records here.

Lykke Li - Get Some

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vintage Tracks 7: The punk rock genius of Sleater-Kinney

We were recently celebrating Corin Tucker's return to the music scene with the release of "1000 Years", essentially her solo debut, which was recorded with The Corin Tucker Band that also includes Unwound's Sara Lund and Golden Bears' Seth Lorinczi. As much as I enjoyed the new material, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about the amazing Sleater-Kinney, the band I have repeatedly praised as perhaps the most exciting rock act that the late '90s had to offer. Instead of trying to convince you of the validity of my claim with my clumsy writing, I'm going to let the music do the talking instead, and in this seventh edition of our Vintage Tracks posts, we'll have not one but three of my all-time favorite Sleater-Kinney tracks.

First off, it's "Dig Me Out", the title track from Sleater-Kinney's third LP, their 1997 breakthrough release for Kill Rock Stars which made Corin, Carrie and Janet known to a wider audience and convinced us that this band had much more to offer than riot-grrrl fire and fury. The video comes from a live a performance in New York's Central Park in the summer of 1998, a year before I had the opportunity to enjoy the band live myself, when I first saw them playing at the Reading Festival of '99 (from where the photo you see above) and then at Matador's Nice Weekend in London at U.L.U. (the label was celebrating its 10 years back then).

Dig Me Out (live in Central Park, July 12, 1998

The next choice is "Get Up" from 1999's "The Hot Rock" - a perfect single from my favorite album of that year and my top choice for the second half of the '90s. The video is directed by Miranda July:

Get Up

And, finally, another heartbreaker: "Jumpers", the final single from Sleater-Kinney's last album, the 2005 Sub Pop release "The Woods".


If the band is not reforming anytime soon, is it too much to ask for a joint Corin Tucker Band - Wild Flag tour in 2011? Just an idea....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It Sound interview

As someone who has recently invested on a new pair of hi-fi speakers, I have to admit that I do appreciate music with good production values. There is no denying, though, that some of the most gratifying music in rock history was made on the cheap, with beat-up instruments, in makeshift studios or even bedrooms, in glorious lo-fi.

The spirit of DIY is still going strong three and a half decades after the punk revolution and in this feature it is our pleasure to introduce you to someone who skillfully put the theory into action and crafted his own sound with nothing more than a Danelectro guitar, a Korg drum machine, percussion and a Tascam 4-track. Meet Jesse Damm, the New York-based creator of the experimental bop sound which you can hear in "Hard Pop for Blue Trees" his debut album as It Sound. Jesse talked to us about his background, where he picked up his first guitar, what are the basic ingredients of his hard pop sound and how he hooked up with Pascal Le Gras, the artist behind some 30-plus album covers for The Fall. I should also point out that the photo you see above is taken by George Seminara, director of several Ramones videos and producer of the documentary "It's Alive". Here’s our little Q&A:

"Hard Pop" is your first album as It Sound. Any previous experiences in music making you’d like to share? 

It Sound is the beginning, though there were seeds planted in the past. I played drums with Rob Vasquez of Night Kings and Dawn Johnson of the Gorls and the ManTeeMans, along with her brother Kim, in a short-lived band. And then Dawn and myself and their 6-year old girl had a band for a bit after that. Then, It Sound started in 2008. Seattle is filled with friends in bands. I did other things while they made music. Now, I make music and many of them do other things.

I’ve read that you were born and raised in Seattle, Washington, but you learned to play guitar in Varna, Bulgaria. What’s the story behind your travels and did you happen to visit Greece while in the Balkans?

I like a good shakeup. I decided to move on impulse to a place I knew nothing of. I wanted to consider seasons more often than seconds. I got this by living in Bulgaria, where I remained for 2 years. I wrote. I painted. I walked. I grilled mackerel and ate tomatoes and cukes. And I bought a guitar and began transferring philosophical ideas on processes and art and life to a musical instrument, a new mode of expression for me.

I made several trips to Greece. One of the most memorable was a spent alone in Kavala and onward to the island of Thassos, where I hiked and swam and ate fish every day for about 10 days.  This was after the tourist season, so by that time the island was mostly locals. I also spent some time in Thessaloniki, and Mount Olympus, plus the monasteries of Meteora. I’ve always wanted to live on Hydra for a year or so. Hopefully, this happens at some point in time. Greece is one-of-a-kind. Very special.

What are the basic ingredients of your "experimental bop" sound?

Instruments, mood and minimal takes. Where some people have guitar sounds in their head growing up, I definitely heard beats, and my music reflects this. But the sound originates in the instruments I use (Korg drum machine, Danelectro guitar, percussion), a willingness to push all the knobs to their extreme and taking a cue from the emotion I am feeling at that moment. Never is the aim to be esoteric. Quite the opposite, in fact. I want to make each song as catchy as a Tommy James song and then see where I end up. Usually, the song ends up in a very interesting place that’s entirely my own. I truly believe in rock and roll and its power. I’ve had so many experiences of pure elation by hearing a killer song. It’s transformative.

You’ve recorded the album on a 4-track recorder. Is this the choice of a lo-fi enthusiast or is it an economic necessity?

A friend gave me his Tascam 4-track. I started It Sound the next day. I recorded 20 volumes of work on it. Now, I’m recording digitally because the 4-track started acting up. I don’t prefer one over the other, really. I just like getting things done. I will add that Weasel Walter did a great job mastering my tunes for vinyl and digital.

Apart from a contribution from Rob Vasquez, "Hard Pop" is basically a one-man show. Does it ever get lonely writing and recording by yourself? Any plans on expanding It Sound’s line-up in the future?

By the way, having Rob Vasquez on the record came from an idea to have a scratch across the vinyl like you would find on a used record. But it would be by an artist. In this case, a punk, a misanthrope and a legend. More people need to hear the catalog of his from Night Kings to Nights and Days to Ape Lost to The Gorls to Right On to ManTeeMans to The Look to Pissed Off Zombies to Nice Smile. An original. That’s very hard to find in rock and roll. In regards to the question, I don’t ever feel lonely. Don’t know why. There are always people around. Perhaps a live It Sound will show up someday in the future though. I’ve got some ideas.

You have some very interesting collaborators in the art department. What’s the story behind the collaboration with Pascal Le Gras, a man responsible for some of my favorite Fall covers?

Pascal has been a part of my imagination since I was a teenager. His covers for  The Fall and Jazz Butcher seemed to meet the artists at a middle point instead of just decorating their music. They weren’t just cool, they satisfied me. I contacted Pascal and sent him my record. He responded positively and with a desire to work together. Ever since, we’ve been doing It Sound and some other projects, as well. It’s an honor, as I see his paintings and video work to be enormously forward thinking as well as primal. They resonate with people across borders and seemingly across time. Plus, they’re beautiful. I never dreamt of making a record as a kid, but I did think about interacting with Pascal Le Gras.

The album is available digitally and on vinyl but not on cd. Do you think the cd's days are numbered?

If I had to prioritize musical formats, it would be 1) vinyl 2) digital 3) a yet to be created method of distribution 4) cds. Nothing against them. I own lots. But vinyl does visual and sound better and digital does ease-of-use better.

Favorite albums and bands past or present? What would be your choice for Album of the Year?

Some favorite albums: All Leonard Cohen records. The Hook - "The Hook Will Grab You". The Chiefs - "Blues" 45. Night Kings - "Increasing Our High" LP. T. Rex - "The Slider". Plastique - "De-real" 45. Traveling Circle - "Handmade House". The Bizarros - self/titled LP. The Fall - "The Infotainment Scan" LP. The Apostles - "Hymn to Pan" LP. Felt - "The Strange Idol Pattern and Other Short Stories".

And my favorite album of the year would have to be Ariel Pink - "Before Today".

It Sound – "Hard Pop for Blue Trees" can be found on iTunes, eMusic,, Vinyl can be bought at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Live @ Six D.O.G.S (Athens, Nov. 10, 2010)

I always thought that seeing a band live it's a much better introduction to its music than listening to records. You may not know the songs very well (or at all), but you get a much better idea about the band's chemistry and energy. Of course the recorded output is the decisive factor for making or breaking a band and that's what will be left behind in the end to remind us of its contribution to music history, but a gig can be much more revealing of a band's true potential.

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club from Cardiff, Wales, have released a couple of albums so far, and judging by the latest, 2009's "Love On An Oil Rig" which I got right after the gig, they specialize in short, sharp, indie pop-post punk numbers, that they're usually over before they start. The best of them ("Parrot", "Bored In Belgium") leave a sweet melodic aftertaste thanks to the female backing vocals that make them far more catchy than you would expect from a noisy, shouty post-punk ditty.

The live experience, perhaps not surprisingly, turned out to be a much more noisy affair, where the pop element of their sound took a back seat and the punk rumble took the driving wheel. As a result songs like "Bored In Belgium" that need their pop "lalala's" to work, did not function as well live as they do in their recorded form, but overall the band showed us a heavier, more adventurous side that I wouldn't have expected had I listened to the album first. This adventurousness coupled with the live chemistry of Adam Taylor and Louise Mason, the band's front-line, made for a thoroughly satisfying performance and left me with the impression that perhaps we could expect even more interesting developments in the band's future (their third full-length is in the works).

The evening's entertainment started with a performance from local up-and-coming act The Callas. The three-piece played an energetic, power pop-art punk set behind some sort of a curtain (no idea what that's supposed to symbolize, but we did manage to get a photo from the side) with influences ranging from Pixies to Television Personalities. I should also mention that both of the evening's acts list The Fall as an influence, and that's always a plus in my book.

The Callas, live @ 6 D.O.G.S (Nov. 10, 2010)

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Parrot / Bored in Belgium,  Live @ Six D.O.G.S (Nov. 10, 2010)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CMC Radio: Shadow World

Sicko Electronica - that's how I would describe the music contained in this week's playlist. Others use labels like Witch House, Haunted House, Drag, Cold Wave, Minimal Wave and so many other waves and/or houses. Rough Trade Shops are about to release a compilation that contains a few of the artists in here and they are going with the more inclusive term Synth Wave.

No matter how you want to call it, though, one thing is certain; in the last few years electronic music has been offering a very impressive array of wildly experimental sounds that bring together disparate influences from the last four decades. The late '70s to early '80s, the era of the first synth pioneers, is understandably a major source of inspiration, but there is truly no limit to what goes into the mix of these modern techno-freaks! Hip-hop crunk beats and Horrorcore rap - check! Slow motion Miami bass - check! All sorts of House, check! Trip-hop, check! New Wave, Punk, Noise, Death Metal, Goth (plenty) - you got it! The end result may remind you of plenty of other things, but this is undeniably music that couldn't have been made in any other time than Now. New music with an old soul...and as dark and haunting as your black heart desires...

Click here to listen: CMC Radio: Playlist 5 - Shadow World

The twelve-track, 45:58-minute mixtape contains:

1. Not in Love (ft. Robert Smith) - Crystal Castles

Kick-off with the big hit of the moment. The single is out in December, just in time for the year-end lists.

2. Knights and Weekends - Light Asylum

According to Telepathe's MySpace profile, this is their favorite band in the world! You can get this track, along with those from Xeno and Oaklander and Led Er Est from a Wierd Records mix here.

3. Chrome's On It - Telepathe

My favorite band in the world last year.

4. Frost - Salem

Many people's favorite new band this year. "King Night" is a seriously f*cked-up record, but in a good way! On IAMSOUND Records, home of Telepathe as well.

5. gOth - †‡†

Three from Disaro, the LA-via-Houston house of witch-house. No idea how this lot is supposed to be pronounced (or written with a keyboard), but I am convinced their hobbies include virgin sacrifices!

6. IxC999 - White Ring

One of the best tracks I've heard from this whole sicko-electronica scene (get it here). From the new and very limited "Black Earth That Made Me" EP on Disaro.


Another hilariously named haunted-house act from Disaro. This is one of the funkiest tracks in the mix, offering a fresh new perspective to hip-hop.

8. Shadow World - Xeno and Oaklander

From last year's "Sentinelle" LP on Wierd Records. I thought this track's title was the perfect choice for naming this playlist.

9.  Port Isabel - Led Er Est

Another Wierd release, from the 2009 album "Dust On Common".

10. The Laurels of Erotomania - Cold Cave

One of the hits of "Love Comes Close". I couldn't resist using here the image from the single's cover!

11. Dirty 08 - Hard Corps

A recent remix of the 1984 underground classic. It hasn't aged a bit and sounds perfect next to all the young guns of our playlist. You can read more about it in our Vintage Tracks feature.

12. Hit and Run - Berlin Brides

Chicks On Speed meet Salt-N-Pepa. From the Athens-Berlin duo's debut album "Modern Celibacy" on Inner Ear.

Bonus track: See, hear and be afraid, be very afraid of Salem's "Asia":

Monday, November 08, 2010

New Releases: October 2010

Shall we get back to business, then? Here's our round up of the most interesting album and single releases for October 2010 with links to related videos:


GIANT SAND - Blurry Blue Mountain
PARAMOUNT STYLES - Heaven's Alright
CLINIC - Bubblegum
FRANKIE ROSE AND THE OUTS - Frankie Rose And The Outs
THREE MILE PILOT - The Inevitable Past Is the Future Forgotten
AVEY TARE - Down There
BELLE AND SEBASTIAN - Belle and Sebastian Write about Love
ELVIS COSTELLO - National Ransom
BADLY DRAWN BOY - It's What I'm Thinking Pt.1 - Photographing Snowflakes
KINGS OF LEON - Come Around Sundown
WHITE DENIM - Last Day of Summer
MARNIE STERN - Marnie Stern
BERLIN BRIDES - Modern Celibacy
GOLD PANDA - Lucky Shiner
MAGNETIC MAN - Magnetic Man
IT SOUND - Hard Pop for Blue Trees
PRINCE RAMA - Shadow Temple
PS I LOVE YOU - Meet Me at the Muster Station


LIARS - Proud Evolution
oOoOO - oOoOO EP
CRYSTAL STILTS - Shake the Shackles
ANNA CALVI - Jezebel
PANDA BEAR - You Can Count On Me
FUCKED UP - Year of the Ox
OFF! - 1st EP
THE JOY FORMIDABLE - I Don't Want To See You Like This
BROKEN RECORDS - A Darkness Rises Up
KINGS OF LEON - Radioactive
BADLY DRAWN BOY - Too Many Miracles
SPECTRALS - A Spectrals Extended Play
GOLD PANDA - Snow & Taxis 
IT SOUND - Walking (on a Tall Fence)
LOW-FI - Low-Fi EP

The Corin Tucker Band's "1000 Years" was certainly one of the most anticipated releases of the month for me, ever since I heard that Corin was on her way back. Sleater-Kinney has been one of the most important bands of the late '90s-early '00s and I'm happy that we finally have some brand new material from one of them. Pretty soon we'll also hear from Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss as well, as they recently announced that they have formed a new band called Wild Flag together with Rebecca Cole of The Minders and Mary Timony, once the leader of Helium (another one of our '90s favorites).

We'll have more about "1000 Years" soon, as I've just started listening to the album. Meanwhile, you can go here to get the free track "Doubt" and below you can check out the video for "Riley":

The Corin Tucker Band - Riley

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Camera Obscura, Live @ Gagarin 205 (Athens, Oct. 30, 2010)

Camera Obscura's first visit to Athens was certainly long overdue. Greek indie fans have a soft spot for Scottish bittersweet guitar pop in the spirit of Belle And Sebastian and the appearance of the Glasgow band at the Gagarin 205 club gathered a sizable crowd despite the day's big football match (the Athens equivalent of the Old Firm) that had just finished across town. Tracyanne Campbell was actually curious to know our reaction to the result and after noticing the mixed feelings of the audience, pointed out that at least the music had brought us all together. 

Tracyanne was not only on the ball about the day's current soccer events but was also well-informed about the venue's seedy past as a porn cinema and wanted to know if anyone had visited the place in its former capacity. After that, she introduced "Honey In The Sun" as a song about porn, making us all see the lyrics "I wish my heart was as cold as the morning dew but it's as warm as saxophones and honey in the sun for you" in a whole new light!

Camera Obscura's set was based almost entirely on the band's last couple of albums, the recent "My Maudlin Career" and 2006's "Let's Get Out Of This Country", their best work to date. It was actually the title track from the latter that fittingly ended their highly entertaining 70-minute performance, a song we are lately seriously considering to adopt as our new national anthem. Other highlights of the night included "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken", "The Sweetest Thing", "Swans", "If Looks Could Kill" and, of course, "French Navy", my favorite Camera Obscura single. The complete set list is here.

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country (Live@Gagarin 205, Athens, Oct. 30, 2010)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

CMC Radio: Best of October '10

This week's special edition of the Wednesday Playlist features our Top 20 tracks for September - October 2010 as presented in our recent Listening Habits post and you can listen to them (and view the videos where available) right here, thanks to MixPod. Hit it!: