Live In Cleveland (Last Saturday)

Before I get started, I pulled the winner for the Go Sailor 7" this morning! Child of the Sea, e-mail me at with your address so I can send it to you!

Saturday night was a benefit show at the Beachland Tavern for the (recently renamed) North Collinwood Alley Cat Project. Prisoners played along with local band Rainy Day Saints and touring band The Kyle Sowashes (who won my heart when they covered "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" by Guided By Voices.) It was a great night & I'd love to write a lot about everyone, but for the sake of brevity, I'm just going to focus on Prisoners.

Full disclosure: when Drew first started playing with Prisoners, I wasn't exactly wowed. I had seen them once before (at the Blue Arrow for the 7" release show) and left feeling sort of whateverish and then they kind of fell off my radar. I remember thinking that they sounded a lot like The Replacements and also like I wanted to just go home and listen to Gaze or something.

I am a first impressions kind of person -- I have a lot of knee jerk reactions and am regularly declaring that I "hate" things (as in, "I hate the Lost finale," "I hate the song 'Perfect Day,'" "I hate everyone all the time" (ok, that's not something I said, but Kate said it while we were eating lunch today and I could totally identify) etc.) I almost never revise these initial reactions. I mean, I've honestly been sitting here for the last three or four minutes trying to think of a time I've changed my mind about not liking something and I can't think of an example.

But, I'm starting to change my mind about Prisoners. When Drew started playing with them, he had a CD-R of the album and a live bootleg that he would listen to in the car while trying to learn his parts. I was not into this. I still remember getting in the car to go copy zines before the Chicago Zine Fest and groaning when I realized that he had left a Prisoners CD in the CD player. It was frustrating to have my regular regimen of car songs (Bee Thousand, Exile in Guyville, and Strumpet interrupted.) But I left it in and on the way back, one of the songs caught my ear and I actually got a little mad at myself for liking it because I am not into retracting my opinions and having Drew give his patented "Drew's always right" speech (FYI: "Drew's always right is pretty much the full text of this speech.)

Anyway, last night was a tipping point for me, in the kind of way where I am going to have to listen to Drew tell me that he's always right, because Prisoners played an amazing set at the Beachland Tavern and I had to listen to like a zillion people talk about how great they were and accept that they were right. It was an awesome set. I've seen them a couple of times since Drew starting playing with them and they get better every time, but last night was definitely a marked improvement from the last time I had seen them & I'm actually (get this!) really looking forward to the next time I get to see them (which will probably be on June 7th with The Jacuzzi Boys, since I'll be out of town for their show on the 28th.)

Their full-length LP is due out on June 19th (there's going to be an album release show at the Blue Arrow), but you can already buy copies from Blue Arrow Records or direct from the band at shows. They've got upcoming shows at the Beachland Tavern and Now That's Class and there's a midwest tour in the works, too. You can see tour dates and sample songs on their MySpace.

Summer Jams Series #3: The Blanche Hudson Weekend

These week's summer jams comes courtesy of Caroline and Darren of The Blanche Hudson Weekend. Each one of them was kind enough to write a little bit about their favorite summer songs &, as usual, I've ended up with another list of impeccable summer jams.

The Blanche Hudson Weekend have 2 7"s out, The Letters to Daddy EP and The Rats in the Cellar EP, both of which are fantastic noisy pop music with shoegaze-y hints. If you're in the UK, you can get their 7"s straight from the label at Odd Box Records and if you're in the US, you can get them from Jigsaw Mailorder (which I really can't say enough good things about.) They're also on MySpace & will be playing at IndieTracks this summer. I've got one previous post about The Blanche Hudson Weekend that you can read here.

& one two last things before we're onto the list:
  1. Clevelanders! You should come out tomorrow night for the Waterloo Alley Cat Project benefit! There will be a raffle with lots of prizes from local businesses on Waterloo & there will also be a $5 show at the Beachland Tavern. Drew will be playing with Prisoners, so I'll definitely be there. This weekend is also Weapons of Mass Creation Fest which kicks off at noon tomorrow.
  2. Don't forget about that Go Sailor 7"! You have until midnight EST on Sunday to leave a comment for it!
Caroline's List:

Eaten by the Monster of Love - Sparks (listen to it here)

This year summer is officially cancelled in the UK, and as such we're facing a very blue period. To try and escape this misery my favourite artist at the moment is Sparks. I'm listening to them a lot. I'm really impressed by the theatricality of their output and their longevity. Right now, the song I'm playing the most is Eaten By The Monster Of Love. This will soundtrack my life over the next few months into what we laughably refer to as "summer". Don't let it get me ...

How Soon Is Now - The Smiths (listen to it here)

Another song, which I never thought of as a summer song, but became one a couple of years ago, is "How Soon Is Now". Darren and I were at a festival where Morrissey was playing a solo set, and he's not been at his best in recent years so we decided to give him a miss. However, he opened the set with this beauty, and as soon as we heard that guitar we looked at each other and without saying a word we both ran as fast as we could to the stage he was playing on. So now whenever I hear this song, I’m reminded of that night at the end of summer.

Pink Sunshine - Fuzzbox (listen to it here)

My all-time summer song though is Fuzzbox's Pink Sunshine. How could anyone fail to be seduced by the charms of these ladies with their raggle taggle hair and '80s appeal? These girls made being in a band look like amazing fun. I was just a kid when I first heard this song, and even then I loved the fuzz, reverbed to fuck drums, the handclaps and the sighs ... and what a chorus: All together now ... pink, pink sunshine......

Darren's List

River Man - Nick Drake (listen to it here)

This song has summer written all over it. I actually first heard it on a summer day too, which was perfect. It's a very English sound - the voice , the music. It couldn't have come from anywhere other than the UK. Just hearing it conjures up images of the countryside, gently flowing rivers and streams, rolling fields, quiet rural villages and sitting in a pub garden in the late afternoon with the sun shining down. Every so often, I like to dig out some Nick Drake music and just relax. Pink Moon is probably my favourite album of his because it's dark and has a real sadness to it, but this track is the one that reminds me most of the summer.

Manic Monday - The Bangles (listen to it here)

The song that soundtracked one summer when I was a little kid. This is just a really great pop song. It's as simple as that. Whenever I hear it I'm transported back to playing in the street with my friends, riding my bike and then running indoors at 7 30 to drink a Pepsi and watch Top Of The Pops, hoping to hear this song and see Susanna Hoffs. Definitely one of the first women I fell in love with. I'm still a big fan of early Bangles stuff, and I don't mind admitting that either.

Tractor Rape Chain - Guided By Voices (listen to it here)

Again , this just says "summer" in big , bold letters. It reminds me of being about 18 or 19 years old, when i first got into Guided By Voices. A friend of mine made a cassette of a whole bunch of their songs for me, and this one was about the 3rd or 4th track on there. Me and my friends used to go out on Fridays, stay out all night, and I'd make my way back home the next day through the Saturday shopping crowd, walk in through the door mid afternoon and just collapse on my bed, usually with the sound of my Guided By Voices cassette playing on the stereo. By the time this song started up, I was usually just drifting off to sleep. This track , particularly the intro, always takes me back to a drunken, hot summer when you didn't give a damn about anything but hanging out with your friends and having a good time. Back then, you never wanted the summer to end.

MJ Hibbett & The Validators

The other day I got an e-mail from Mark of MJ Hibbett & The Validators alerting me to the fact that they've released last year's Regardez, Ecoutez, Et Repetez and through Bandcamp (which is, incidentally, kind of an amazing site.) And I though, well, that's nice, I'll have to listen to that, etc. and then went about the rest of my work day and ran some errands and didn't really return to it until this afternoon.

BUT (really, I'm getting there) this afternoon I was sitting at my desk at work listening to the new Janelle Monae album (which is very good and very different from what I normally listen to and post about here -- maybe I'll get to that in a separate entry) when I thought, you know, I really should listen to that MJ Hibbett & The Validators album before I get caught up in something else (you know, like working.)

I hadn't really had to much prior exposure to MJ Hibbett & The Validators -- Drew has a couple of their 7"s and I enjoyed their cover of "Glory Days" for WIAIWYA's Bruce Springsteen tribute, but I had never heard a full album from them & I have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised!

The opening track, "Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid," is a stunningly sincere pop tune. I also really enjoyed "Best Behaviour" and "Red Black Gold." The Bandcamp stream was a little spotty for me -- once songs started playing, they would play all the way through, but occasionally songs just wouldn't start. (It's entirely probable that this was a problem on my end either with my wifi connection or my computer.) The album has a nice blend of "serious" songs and humorous ones, though things are more or less uptempo throughout. I'll admit that lyrically some songs didn't work for me (especially "Do More, Eat Less" and "All the Good Men"), I think that's mainly due to me being an almost deathly serious sort of person, especially when it comes to things like the discourse around how/why people eat [1] or what motivates people to act on sexual desire & the fact that I tend to come at these issues from a very specific place -- it can be hard for me to shut off the academic part of my brain and stop analyzing things sometimes. I can only assume that Drew would tell me to deal with it because these songs are awesome & I'd imagine that many other people feel the same way. But anyway, at their core, even the songs I got hung up over are coming from a place of personal experience and genuine sincerity and I definitely don't want to invalidate that with my hang-ups.

My final thought: I love the blend of emotions that this album invokes -- garden variety happiness, nostalgia, a resigned crankiness (exemplified in "We're Old and We're Tired (and We Want to Go Home)," which just might be a new anthem of mine.) I love that this album sounds deeply youthful, but lyrically reflects a much wider range of emotions that tend to come with age. So many of these songs seem informed by a lifetime of experiences that help to make them seem wise, but the sound that MJ Hibbett & The Validators create has the album sounding anything by old and stale.

Regardez, Ecoutez, Et Repetez can be streamed in full here. You can pick the album up on CD for 10GBP or get it in download form for 5GBP.

The band has made a great promotional video for the album that you can watch here:

They've also made a video for the song, "My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once":

As always, if you have something that you want me to listen to, feel free to send me an e-mail at!

[1] Like, just a few weeks ago, Drew and I got into a protracted argument about the title of Michael Pollan's new-ish book, Food Rules and how I thought it was a loaded/problematic title because it suggested that there were inherently good/appropriate ways to eat for all people & Drew was like, "But he's just saying that people should eat less! And should try to have more fresh food instead of processed food!" But I couldn't get over the semantics of the title. ANYWAY, let's just try and keep my boring beliefs out of this.

Giving It All Away (3)

The giveaway is closed! I ran the random number generator on this morning and the winner commented under the blogger ID Child of the Sea. I don't have any contact information for you, so get in touch with me at so I can get your address.

I'm very excited for a number of reasons:
  1. The final lineup for the Athens PopFest is due to be announced Friday!
  2. Also this Friday: Tickets for the Athens PopFest will go on sale.
  3. Go Sailor has been confirmed to play a reunion show at this year's Athens PopFest
Clearly there is a bit of a pattern here.

Sadly, I was unable to attend Slumberland Records 20th Anniversary showcases, which broke my heart a little bit at first and then it broke my heart a whole lot when I heard about the amazing bands who planned to reunite for the experience, including Go Sailor. I thought, "Surely I have missed my only chance to see this amazing, perfect band." And then I heard that they would also be playing the Athens PopFest, which patched my heart right back up.

So, to celebrate all things Go Sailor/all things Athens PopFest, I'm giving away a Go Sailor single! This 7" is on blue vinyl & was pressed for the Slumberland Records 20th Anniversary shows, it's a one-sided single & features an alternate mix of the Go Sailor song "Long Distance."

If you'd like me to mail this to you, just leave a comment here telling me either A) the best show you've attended or B) the upcoming show that you're looking forward to the most. Just like last time, if you post about this elsewhere & link back to Side Ponytail, I'll give you two extra numbers in the random number drawing.

I'll leave comments open until midnight (EST) on Sunday, May 23rd, so have at it!

Like the previous giveaway, this one is also open to international participants!

If you're interested in staying up to date on Athens PopFest stuff, check out these links & if you're planning on being at the Athens PopFest, feel free to let me know!

Athens PopFest on Facebook
Athens PopFest Official Website (coming soon)
Athens PopFest thread on Anorak (this is where I've been getting my Athens PopFest news)
HHBTM website

Summer Jams Series #2: Allo Darlin'

I feel like I'm always finding new reasons to bemoan the fact that I have yet to hear Allo Darlin's full length album. First my "Dreaming" 7" came in the mail, then I found a used copy of WIAIWYA's Bruce Springsteen tribute comp (Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool) in a Half Price Books in Mayfield (of all places!) and their cover of "Atlantic City" blew my mind, then Elizabeth Darling agreed to write up some of her favorite songs for the summer jams series! Oh well, at least we're getting closer and closer to the albums June release on Fortuna Pop.

So, without any further griping from me, here are Elizabeth's summer jams!

Cassius Clay - The Wave Pictures (listen to a live version here)

This song sounds best in the summer. I don't really understand what it means, but I love it anyway. I really love the way it sounds. Simon Trought, who recorded our album and also this one by the Wave Pictures, plays guitar on this and he was really upset the band wouldn't let him fix all of his ropey playing. I kind of love it for that. Drums are great on this one too - go Jonny.

A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill - Jens Lekman (listen to a live version (recorded at Cleveland's own Beachland Ballroom!) here)

An obvious choice but how can you go past it. Reminds me so much of summer's past in Sweden. I still love love this song even though I've heard it about a million zillion times.

The Hott Chord is Struck - Still Flyin' (listen here)

Have been getting more and more into this band since we played a couple of shows with them at SXSW and had a blast dancing to them. We're playing another show with them in London in a few weeks and I can't wait. It just makes me so happy. It's exactly my kind of thing.

Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon (listen here)

A classic, but it doesn't get much better than this, does it?

Dancing - Standard Fare (listen here)

I love this band so much. We've become friends over the last 6 months or so, we play a lot of the same shows in England and we did at SXSW too. I think Emma's voice is so amazing. I love this song - it makes me so so so happy. It's a classic already. They're playing our album launch with us at the Lexington in June and I am so excited. I can't wait for the summer.

A few thoughts of my own! I had never heard The Wave Pictures before, but am really digging that song! The same thing goes for Still Flyin'. Listening to "Dancing" makes me extra excited to see Standard Fare at the Athens Popfest this summer.

If you like Elizabeth's list, I bet you'd like Allo Darlin' too! They currently have two singles ("Polaroid Song" and "Dreaming") available from Fortuna Pop and a forthcoming full length album. They'll be in the US next weekend for the NYC Popfest along with some other Fortuna Pop acts, including Tender Trap.

Allo Darlin' have both an official website and a MySpace. You can purchase records and mp3s via their official site, including an mp3 version of their now sold out "Henry Rollins Don't Dance" single.

(Previous SP posts about/mentioning Allo Darlin' can be found here.)

And Clevelanders, don't forget! Tonight is the West Side Food Not Bombs Benefit at Now That's Class! Drew will be there with Prisoners and I might show up too.

The summer jams series will be back next week with The Blanche Hudson Weekend!

Singing Bridges

William from Singing Bridges sent me an e-mail the other day about the band's new EP, Three Trains. Honestly, sometimes I get a little nervous when people get in touch with me about potentially reviewing something because I worry about not liking it and then being in the awkward position of figuring out what I should do next (write a lukewarm review? pretend I forgot about it and hope for the best? etc.) Fortunately, just seconds into "Bee," the EP's first track, I knew I wasn't going to have anything to worry about.

"Bee" is a lush shoegazey song that reminds me of My Bloody Valentine (and something Chuck Klosterman wrote about shoegaze that used the phrase "swirling guitars" in excess.) The EP's second song, "Crazy Street," changes things up a bit with a ramshackle indie pop sound (not unlike a combination of Gaze and the Shermans), featuring feathery female vocals. "Sunny Day" starts out with a bass line that immediately makes me think of "Ceremony" by New Order and builds from there, ultimately reminding me of a stripped down Galaxie 500 -- simple lyrics, simple chords, but a sound that somehow works its way into your memory. "Edith Keeler" is another great lo-fi pop number & sounds a bit like one of those little germs of songs recorded by Guided By Voices grown into a full two and half minutes. "Disappear (Nitrogen)" is the darkest song on the album by far, sounding not unlike a mix of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine.

So, this is the part where I get sort of conversational, because I just reread that last paragraph and realized how namedrop-y it was and how much I talked about Singing Bridges in terms of other bands that they sort of sound like at certain moments -- which in a way really diminishes their music, because it is great & not just because sometimes it sounds like Galaxie 500 or Gaze or whatever. It's good because it's straightforward and it stays with you.

You can sample Singing Bridges via their MySpace (I recommend listening to "Bee" and "Crazy Street") and you can order their Three Trains EP through Skipping Stones (it's $5.50 for US orders and $7.50 for international, prices include shipping.)

In sum, I'm so happy that William e-mailed me about this EP & I think you should listen to it! (And if you think that there's anything I should be listening to, feel free to send me an e-mail at!)

Lastly, for Clevelanders! If you're looking for something to do tomorrow night, Prisoners are playing the West Side Food Not Bombs Benefit at Now That's Class. There is a 50% chance I will be there lurking around while Drew plays the bass.

Live in Cleveland (Last Night)

Last night I went up to the Beachland Ballroom to see Local Natives and Suckers, who are both on Frenchkiss Records. Local Natives started out the night early, playing a brief in store (4 songs, I think?) at Music Saves prior to the show, but I missed out on that because I was over at Blue Arrow Records helping them get some things ready for next Saturday's Waterloo Feral Cat Project Benefit. But, I heard that the in-store was well attended (around 60 people, which is a lot to cram into Music Saves!) & when I showed up there were still plenty of people milling around (including the band.)

I actually hadn't really planned on attending the Local Natives show. I listened to their album once a month or so ago and it didn't really catch me, but Drew and I were offered the opportunity to go for free, so we thought, "Why not?" &, on the whole, it was a decent decision (aside from the relatively minor setback of missing Lost and having our DVR cut off the last 15 minutes because the broadcast was delayed due to a "weather emergency." ANYWAY.)

A little while ago (maybe a week? a month? longer?) I was listening to stonecoldbikini on WRUW and Christin described a band (I can't remember what band -- if only I had known that this information would become semi-critical to a blog entry in my near future) as "forest rock" and then went on to vaguely elaborate by saying, "you know, dudes with beards harmonizing" (or something to that effect.) Which is pretty spot on for Local Natives (though they're more accurately described as mustachioed (as opposed to bearded.)

ANYWAY -- they certainly aren't bad, it's just that the whole "dudes with beards harmonizing/forest rock" thing isn't something that I've really developed a taste for yet. But, I think that in a lot of cases, it can be nice to go into a show with no real expectations. So that's what I did & here's what I found:

The Local Natives; live show definitely kept my attention in a way that their record didn't. They played a great, brief set (somewhere around 40 minutes, which was just right for me) & surprised me with a cover of "Warning Sign" by Talking Heads (which likely would have been less of a surprise if I had read CLE music blogger Erin's interview with the band over on her blog Dust Sleeve.) The Ballroom was pretty packed, which was great to see, & the crowd clearly had favorite tunes that they were waiting to hear (the band did an awesome job pacing these songs throughout their set, so when it seemed that the crowd's attention was beginning to wander, they were pulled back in.)

The opening band, Frenchkiss label-mates Suckers, was also a pleasant surprise. They had a vaguely Animal Collective-ish sound (which is invariably my go to descriptor for almost anything that involves the combo of guitars, electronics, and yelping) & by the end of their set it seemed like they had really won the crowd over.

Local Natives and Suckers are midway through their tour. You can view remaining tour dates & sample songs on their MySpace (a handful of the remaining tour dates are already sold out, so if they're coming to your town & you want to be there, you may want to consider buying tickets in advance.)

Birds of California and The Month of June

EPs from Birds of California and The Month of June mark the inaugural releases from February Records (formerly known as Tweefort.)

I'm terrible at writing proper reviews (even when asked), but here are some quick impressions:

Last week, when I wrote about The Honey Skoolmates, I mentioned a compilation called Moshi Moshi: Pop International Style. Though Birds of California are based in Portland, OR, the songs on their EP Great Expectations sound like they would be right at home on that much beloved (by me) 2CD set (maybe it's the horns?) The three song EP starts out sweet with "Great Expectations" (I love the horns, chimes, etc. in this track -- there's a lot going on, but it never becomes overwhelming.) The next song, "Saturday," is a bit slower, but has the same layered instrumentation and backing vocals (not unlike something you might hear on a Beulah album.) The EP closes with "Laugh Out Loud," a fast-paced pop romp that might just be my favorite out of the three tracks.

Great Expectations is available as a free download from February Records (DOWNLOAD)

Call it Art by The Month of June has an atmospheric electronic sound utilizing synthesizers and a vocoder. Out of the three songs on the EP, the second ("Daffodil") is my favorite by far -- it's in "Daffodil" that I really heard the comparisons that February Records makes between The Month of June and acts like Panda Bear Galaxie 500.

Call it Art is available as a free download from Feruary Records (DOWNLOAD)

February Records has a number of other releases available for free download, including a sampler of bands playing the Elm City Popfest and Home and Abroad vol. 2, a compilation of Connecticut, US, and international indie pop groups.

As everyone knows by now, I've been really into summer songs lately. I've identified my favorite summer songs (and, where appropriate, sent summer themed mixed out to friends) & I've been asking other people about their favorite summer songs -- first just my friends, then people who read this blog, &, most recently, musicians.

So, the idea is that this summer there's going to be a series of posts curated by artists about their favorite summer songs. Many of the people who have agreed to share their summer jams will be on the road this summer, so be sure to see them if they're coming your way!

To start things off, we have a post by Kip Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The Pains are touring the US this summer (you can see dates here) before heading overseas to headline Indietracks and play a few dates around the UK.

Kip's summer jams are as follows!

1. "Sunny Sundae Smile" by My Bloody Valentine (listen here)

People say, "you guys rip off Sunny Sundae Smile-era My Bloody Valentine." And they're totally right. I know why the later stuff is legendary, but to me there's something that just hits me in the center of the chest with this song, the lyrics, music, enthusiasm, feelings, treble-- I never really get tired of listening to this, or really anything off this EP ("Sylvie's Head," "Paint a Rainbow," "Kiss the Eclipse").

2. "Wild Eyes" by The Vivian Girls (listen here)

It's really hard to pick a single Vivian Girls song, as there are several that feel extra perfect on a summer day. But there's something about this song that feels equal parts carefree and dead serious. It hints at a sort of dangerous summer love-- maybe it won't last forever, but while it does, it's all that matters.

3. "Girl From Mars" by Ash (listen here)

Anyone that's been around me for more than three minutes has heard me talk about how all I want to do in life is someday write a song this awesome (and maybe play a show with The Strokes). I may never do it, but from the first time I heard this on Alternative Radio as a kid to now, it just seems like total, unabashed wonderfulness.

4. "Our Deal" by Best Coast (listen here)

This is probably going to be the song to beat for summer 2010. I really like songs that say a lot of stuff with not that many words-- I think that's a really hard thing to do. I really like her voice and vibe a lot, and the arrangements with the backing "ahhhs" and piano (right?) give it that magical 60s feeling.

5. "Today" by Smashing Pumpkins (listen here)

"Mayonaise" is awesome, as is "Cherub Rock," "Rocket," GeeK U.S.A. and a bunch more from Siamese Dream. But to me, this, along with "Nevermind" by Nirvana and Dirty/Goo-era Sonic Youth and the first two Weezer records is the apex of American 90s alt guitar music-- equal parts raw and gooey. The James Iha lead lines with the bendy stuff is just the coolest-- how come no one does that anymore?


So, an infinite thanks to Kip for being kind enough to kick this off! Be sure to support the Pains on their tour this summer -- they'll have a new single with them called "Say No to Love" (if you're in the US, it's being released on Slumberland and Insound is already taking preorders, UK listeners will be able to get a copy via Fortuna Pop.) "Say No to Love" is also streaming on Pitchfork (I'll be honest -- this Pitchfork stream hasn't been working for me, but here's an audio-only YouTube video.)

Clevelanders -- the Pains will be at the Beachland Ballroom on June 6th. If you're in the area, you should definitely come out for the show!

The Summer Jams Series will continue next week with a post by Elizabeth from Allo Darlin'!

New Blanche Hudson Weekend Song

There's a new Blanche Hudson Weekend song! It's called "Let Me Go" and you can stream it via their MySpace page.

The Blanche Hudson Weekend takes their name from the Bette Davis/Joan Crawford classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and contains former members of Manhattan Love Suicides. (Not unlike MLS) The Blanche Hudson Weekend blends shoegazy guitars with lovely pop vocals -- a combination that's especially noticeable on "Let Me Go," which is a delightfully upbeat track.

The Blanche Hudson weekend have released two 7"s to date, The Rats in the Cellar EP (Odd Box Records) and The Letters to Daddy EP (Squirrel Records.) If you're in the US and don't want to pay overseas shipping, Jisgaw Mailorder has The Letters to Daddy EP in stock for $6.

The Blanche Hudson Weekend is gearing up for their first ever live show (they'll be playing in London on July 20th) and will also be playing at Indietracks this summer (which features an all around astounding lineup. I wish I could be there!)

I know that this post is ostensibly about the new BHW song, but while you're over at their MySpace page, I really recommend listening to all of the stuff they have posted, especially "Grip of Fear" and "Only Snow" from The Rats in the Cellar EP. I can't get over how good those two songs are -- absolutely gorgeous.

The Blanche Hudson Weekend on MySpace
Odd Box Records
Squirrel Records
Jisgaw Mailorder (US orders, has The Letters to Daddy EP)

Courtney Love (The Band)

Courtney Love, Hey! Antoinette 7" (DOWNLOAD)
Courtney Love, Highlights 7" (DOWNLOAD)
Courtney Love, Uncrushworthy 7" (DOWNLOAD)
Courtney Love, "Don't Mix the Colors (Live)" (Beat Happening cover) (DOWNLOAD)

Awhile ago Tukru asked if anyone had Courtney Love's cover of "Don't Mix the Colors" (or any other Courtney Love in general) and I say, "I do, I do!" and then promptly forgot to share it with her. So, here it is, somewhat belatedly.

Courtney Love is the sweet team of Lois Maffeo (vocals, guitar) and Pat Maley (drums). They released 3 7"s together and contributed tracks to a compilation or two. Generally speaking, I'm a big fan of Lois, but I'm especially partial to these songs she recorded with Pat. "Uncrushworthy," "Hey! Antoinette," "Motorcycle Boy," songs don't get much better than these.

The songs are simple, just guitars and drums and Lois's voice, but they'll win your heart over in an instant. What I love about music like this is that it really invites the listener to participate -- if you listen to this & like it, there's nothing to stop you from jumping in and doing it on your own.

The Courtney Love 7"s are out of print now, but aren't especially hard to find (or expensive) on the used market, especially if you're willing to be vigilant.

For more on Courtney Love, check out this delightful archived interview with Lois.

Courtney Love, Hey! Antoinette 7" (DOWNLOAD)
Courtney Love, Highlights 7" (DOWNLOAD)
Courtney Love, Uncrushworthy 7" (DOWNLOAD)
Courtney Love, "Don't Mix the Colors (Live)" (Beat Happening cover) (DOWNLOAD)

Honey Skoolmates, Your Aquarium EP (DOWNLOAD)

This morning I was hit by a weird wave of nostalgia for the Honey Skoolmates, a band I haven't listened to in years (and had very limited exposure to to begin with.) They contributed a track called "Go Now!" to a 2CD comp called Moshi Moshi: Pop International Style. I listened to that song constantly and longed for more of their endearing pop tunes, but was never really able to track anything down aside from their EP Your Aquarium.

Your Aquarium has just 5 songs sung in Japanese and English, but they're lovely and understated. Something about their sound is both shy and welcoming, not quite as intimate as Rocket or Chiritori, but still as endearing.

A YouTube search turns up one lonely video of them performing their song "Ryme to the Ocean" (from their full length album Insomniac):

A general Google search is just as scarce (aside for results for the Moshi Moshi comp and a Velvet Underground tribute album curated by Gerard Malanga), though it does look like you can still buy Your Aquarium and Insomniac here, from CD Japan.

If you're an international pop fan, definitely give this a listen (and invest in a used copy of that Moshi Moshi comp, it's full of pop gems!)

Honey Skoolmates, Your Aquarium EP (DOWNLOAD)

Weed Hounds Announce Summer Tour

I'm stoked to say that Weed Hounds are hitting the road this summer (and have scheduled a stop in Cleveland!) They've mentioned that they're in need of help booking shows, so if you live in one of these cities you should send them an e-mail at weedhounds[at]gmail[dot]com.

The Weed Hounds demo tape was one of my favorite releases last year. It's sold out now, but you can download it here. It has four perfect dreamy shoegaze pop anthems & set the stage perfectly for their split with Dude Japan, which you can order direct from the label (Rok Lok) or from the band via their tumblr (they're also offering pre-orders for their upcoming 7" and a sweet Gossip Girl inspired t-shirt.)

Their tour schedule is as follows:

7/4 Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD w/ Girlfriends

7/5 Richmond, VA w/ Girlfriends

7/6 NC w/ Girlfriends

7/7 SC w/ Girlfriends

7/8 Athens, GA w/ Girlfriends

7/9 Birmingham, AL w/ Girlfriends

7/10 Jackson, MS w/ Girlfriends

7/11 Circle Bar in New Orleans, LA w/ Girlfriends

7/12 Super Happy Fun Land in Houston, TX w/ Girlfriends

7/13 Club1808 Austin, TX w/ Girlfriends

7/14 Dallas/Denton, TX

7/15 Little Rock, AK

7/16 Memphis, TN

7/17 Nashville, TN

7/18 Louisville, KY

7/19 Columbus or Cincinnati, OH

7/20 Cleveland, OH

7/21 Pittsburgh, PA

7/22 Philadelphia, PA

7/23 New Brunswick, NJ

P.S. I ran the random number generator this morning and the winner was reggaechicken -- I've messaged you via tumblr, but just in case you see it here first: send me your mailing address so I can ship you your 7"!

New Tender Trap Single

Tender Trap have released a new single from their forthcoming LP for free online! You can download "Girls with Guns" free from the Fortuna Pop website right here.

Tender Trap consists of former members of Heavenly, Marine Research, and Police Cats as well as Elizabeth Darling from Allo Darlin'. The e-mail I received from Fortuna Pop indicted that the single might soon be available from Slumberland as well, though I'm not sure if they meant it will be available as a download or a physical release (I'm leaning towards download as right now neither label's site has a physical release available.) ANYWAY, for those of you in the US, Slumberland will be handling US distribution of Tender Trap's upcoming 3rd LP, Dansette, Dansette. (Speaking of Slumberland, I just dropped $40 on their website this morning, so maybe I'll be doing a mailorder roundup edition of "What I Bought.")

So, to actually talk about the song for a second, "Girls with Guns" is a girl gang anthem in which Heavenly vows revenge, saying, "We are ready to get mean/We are watching out/For all the girls around this town/And you will be found out/If you try to bring one of those girls down." I love the way this song is driven -- the guitars are relentless, but without losing any of Tender Trap's delightful pop sensibilities. There are also a few little guitar/bass flourishes that make me think of old western soundtracks, which is in amazing touch.

Fortuna Pop says:
It's a riot-grrrl-esque tale of sisterhood and revenge that wouldn’t be out of place among the punkest moments of Amelia Fletcher's previous outfits. While guitars and drums rush by in a blur, Amelia and her new girl crew swear a cold-hearted vengeance on the unreliable and untrustworthy menfolk of the town.
Tender Trap will be playing in the US on May 21st as a part of the New York Popfest (fellow Fortuna Poppers Allo Darlin' will also play a gig there -- I wish I could go!)

Tender Trap has made a video for "Girls with Guns" & I've embedded it below: