New release from Andy Shauf bursts with voices


New music should be bursting with voices like Shauf. His weirdly charming nasal middle-range warble is a perfect fit for witty Pop songs.

A constant on KCRW in California for years, Shauf is finally getting a shot at a national single with the very Paul Simon-esque "Try Again."

Bubbly and optimism, the upbeat mixture of chiming guitars and clarinets is a natural for trailers and commercials.

Elsewhere, Shauf proves he even has a wild card up his sleeve for what would normally be wordy but buoyant folk.

"Living Room" brings back clarinets, adds horns but is truly driven by the insistent jazzy bass and drums.

"The Neon Skyline" should make Shauf a staple of the indie set.


The Neon Skyline



Kingdom of My Mind

[LP/CD] (Honey Jar/The Orchard)

Oliver and Chris Wood have truly developed their own warped sense of Jam/Funk. 

Now on their eighth album, Oliver's confidence in singing and playing off of his everywhere-at-once-on-bass brother Chris really sparks their songs. "Alabaster" depends heavily on Chris Wood's intonations, while the ballad "Cry Over Nothing" makes room for Oliver's strumming and a beautiful B3.

Holding their whole Band-circa-Big Pink trip is drummer Jano Rix who just when to drive the song and just when to sit back and let the song drive itself.


Amazones Power

[LP/CD] (Real World)

Rooted in the terse polyrhythms and tight harmonies of African music, this supergroup of female voices unite to bring a jazzy almost Urban sensibility to World music that has been absent for a while.

Listening to these 12 different women trade lyrics and melodies is entrancing. As their unique voices leap out and then join together as one, the Afro-Cuban textures emerge from the songs.

These tracks are important. They urge nonviolence and understanding while delivering these messages with near-mantra force ("Love" feat. Mamani Keita speaks of education as duty and that mutilation is wrong.) Finally, while you may not be able to understand much of what these powerful women have to say - two powerful English words slip through - "our future."


Watch This Liquid Pour Itself

[LP/CD] (Jag-jaguwar)

Kaya Wilkins writes and records stories and observations that masquerade as songs. Take "Psych Ward" for example.

On its surface, it is a rote, hollow list.

However, when expressed as a song - it begins almost frightening until her ongoing chorus of "do the rounds" ends up oddly comforting.

"Liquid" is largely about that human move from discomfort to comfort that accompanies rationalization (the danceable empathy of "Asexual Wellbeing,") and the loss/denial of feeling (the enticing "Baby Little Tween.") 

A highly original debut.


Double Exposure

[CS] (Burger)


Goodbye, Blue Sky

[LP] (Castleface)


[12”] (Drag City)

The current state of Garage is that it no longer has to sound like Garage. California's Burger Records found the Nashville-to-New York transplants The Sufis a few years ago. "Double Exposure" is their most radiant and vastly different set of sounds yet.

Always willing to expose the trippy, tape-op side of Rock a la Elephant 6 from Athens, "Double Exposure" sees the duo moving further away from the obvious towards its extremes. "5AM" is positively beautiful with its chiming guitars, C-86 pulse, and haunted vocals.

While "Outta My Mind" is all synth buzz, driving drums and a near Love & Rockets obsessive vocal.

Tomas Dolas is the keyboardist in Oh Sees. Under the guidance of John Dwyer, Dolas and his band tone down the insistent beats and turn up the video game-meets-Giorgio Moroder synths. "Goodbye, Blue Sky" is a soundtrack waiting for a film.

"Waiting" would make a marvelous opening sequence with its slow wash of synth sounds emerging from gates that are opening and closing. While the psychedelic "Alone Together" would be fantastic for a party sequence a la "Alice B. Toklas" or "Shampoo."

Once Dolas sings to you on the harpischord-lit love ballad "Anywhere," you should be hooked as well.

We'll call Oog Bogo "Garage by association." Meatbodies bassist Kevin Boog sets out to make a spellbinding mix of rumbling bass, twinkly synths and riffy guitars on his four-song EP.  "Oog Bogo" is most interesting because it occasional abandons song form to just ride (the middle of "Tower's Ladder" is a lo-fi symphony of sound.)

However, Boog places a unique Beefheart-ian spin on his music violently changing pitches and tempos to the point where it feels like a bad trip. Elsewhere, Boog messes with primitive sounds and drum machines ("Coyote Loves The City At Night,") bizarre funk ("Hot Rock") and whatever incantation "Broken Book" becomes.

"Oog Bogo" is a challenging and neat debut, even if it sounds nothing like Garage.