The Delmonas - “I Feel Alright” (cover of the Stooges’ “1970”)
In case you ever wondered what a girl group might sound like if they covered the Stooges, here you go.
The Delmonas (or Del Monas) were a group of icy-cool UK vocalists—initially Miss Ludella Black (of Thee Headcoatees), Miss Ida Red, and Louise. The group recorded three LPs between 1985 and 1989. Prolific rocker Billy Childish wrote (or co-wrote with bandmate Mickey Hampshire) the Delmonas’ original material and played on their records, along with fellow members of Thee Mighty Caesars. As with the related Billy Childish-involved Medway bands (like Thee Headcoats, Thee Milkshakes, The Buff Medways, and the aforementioned bands), their sound was influenced by attitude-laden garage rock and girl groups of the 1960s.
We don’t usually post submissions from bands here. I’m up for promoting an artist if they’re decent and in line with our usual shenanigans, and to be honest… well, it greatly helps if they’re from a state I’ve lived in. Anyway, never mind that… here’s Minneapolis quartet Ugly Motors.
Ugly Motors just released their 8-song self-titled tape, which is listenable/downloadable via Bandcamp for those who’d rather not relive the memories of trying to re-spool a cassette tape with your trusty yellow no. 2. The song titles are rather lacking, but anyone who appreciates a shambolic lo-fi garage punk recording will find that their music makes up for it. The vocalist shouts things that are mostly unintelligible, the guitar blares right out of the speakers, and the sound would be a great accompaniment for a carefree summer day. The thing sounds like a demo (is a demo?), refusing to take itself seriously and oozing with drunken energy. Minneapolis historically tends to sort of exalt bands with a drunken and/or oddball sense of humor (The Suicide Commandos, The Suburbs), and these types of recordings from some of the city’s finest have been known to reach the masses—The Replacements’ all-over-the-place, but classic Hootenanny was released on MN label Twin/Tone back in 1983. (Drunkenness rears its ugly head on the opening title track, wherein which the band humorously switched instruments, Paul Westerberg retaining lead vocals while taking Chris Mars’ place at the drums. And a haphazard Beatles semi-cover appears on “Mr. Whirly”, which is credited as “mostly stolen” in the liner notes.)
Ugly Motors is rough around the edges, which is comfort food for rock ‘n’ roll lovers who appreciate an unrefined approach. (Because rock ‘n’ roll has always hit harder in its purest, unfiltered form, right?)
If you’re searching for something youthful, loud, raucous, and fun to listen to, listen to more here. Gotta dig that riff in “Do You Mind? (No)”.
Toronto’s Marvelous Darlings have released a steady stream of singles since 2007, which are collected on the 2011 Deranged Records compilation Single Life. (My introduction to them was when I wrote a little blurb for Get Bent.) Marvelous Darlings are known as a side project from Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook. The lo-fi, classic, infectious punk/power pop of the Darlings is quite a bit different than Fucked Up’s anthemic hardcore. Single Life is a nearly relentless stream of some of the best melodic hooks of the modern era of power poppy rock ‘n’ roll since the Exploding Hearts. With as much staying power as a ‘teenage’-oriented classic like that one Undertones song has, “Teenage Targets” just can’t go wrong.
I’m unsure whether there will be more from the Darlings, but Ben Cook doesn’t seem short on material for a variety of projects (Young Governor, Roommates, Yacht Club, etc…).
Power pop is alive and well in Milwaukee. The Sugar Stems, made up of two guys and two gals, carry on the hook-filled tradition of bands like the Nerves and fellow Milwaukee favorites the Shivvers, and—as their name implies—they do it so sweetly that it could easily rot your teeth out. Their debut, 2010’s Sweet Sounds of the Sugar Stems, found them crafting perfectly melodic pop earworms, complete with bubblegummy vocals, that end up stuck in your head whether you like it or not, including “If You Want Me To” and their first single “Beat Beat Beat”. Two more undeniably catchy singles were released in 2012, “Greatest Pretender” and “Like I Do”, leading up to their second record, Can’t Wait, which was released at the tail end of 2012 on Screaming Apple. Watch footage of them playing “Make Up Your Mind” at Tap Milwaukee.
You can listen to their music on Bandcamp. A preview of their latest record should be coming soon.
This single was recently posted on No Longer Forgotten Music and well, “Get Lost” is rather addicting. Hot Water, better known as Fay Ray (whom we’ve covered before) were from North Wales and this single was released in 1979 on Duff Records in the UK. Both tracks (“Get Lost” and B-side “Bird’s Eye View”) are a great cross between upbeat, melodic punk and new wave, including keyboards, saxophone, and Sheila McCartney’s impeccable vocals. Here’s a better look at the 7” sleeve. This single is the gateway that would lead to the more mellowed-down post-punk/new wave outlook of Fay Ray, as reflected on their 1982 major label LP Contact You. Listen to “Different Morning”, “Heatwave”, and “Modern Lovers” off that record.
I can honestly say is that lately one of the albums that’s been getting the most play around here would be the Young Marble Giants only LP and related singles, B-sides, Peel Sessions, etc. Though listening to that record a lot, I had never really thought much about what happened after that band split.
Enter the Weekend, with singer Allison Statton, and bassist Phillip Moxham and several other musicians, including some with a jazz background. The lone record they put out in 1983, “La Variete” (as well as several of the non-album singles) is highly enjoyable, yet all over the place, poppy, but still somewhat rooted in the post punk movement that was going on at the time. Most of the album pulls from genres as diverse as Latin, French Pop, and jazz, comprable to musicians such as Sergio Mendes, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, Francois Hardy, and others. Amazingly, Statton proves to be a capable singer given the backdrop of the songs.Some songs, such asRed Planes, andNostalgia do tend to invoke a bit of the dark, mysterious vibe YMG has, though sound a bit like what I’d imagine songs to sound like if they had made a 2nd or 3rd album. Unfortunately, Weekend called it quits after one album, though the influence of their music continues to be heard in bands such as Belle & Sebastian, Saint Etienne, and I’d be willing to guess several indie bands (I’d venture to guess one with the word “Weekend” in their title) have probably listened to this record quite a bit. You can currently get the CD (with singles, demos, etc) on Cherry Red Records, and the vinyl is out there as well.
If one didn’t know better, they’d assume The Raydios were a first-wave punk band. Fair enough. Original Demo Recordings is incredibly hooky power pop-tinged punk & roll, and it’s lo-fi enough (but not painfully so) to make you think it’s from ‘77.
The Raydios are actually Fifi, Fink, and Sammy post-Teengenerate. Teengenerate were a wild, loud Japanese rock & roll/garage punk band in the mid-90s who mostly played songs at breakneck speed. If you’ve ever seen Guitar Wolf’s comedy/B-horror film Wild Zero, you’ve heard them playing “My GTO”. (And for the love of maniacal rock & roll, just check out Teengenerate’s Get Action! and their Savage!!! EP if you haven’t already.) The Raydios were a more toned-down affair, but as mentioned before, created a few catchy tunes (collected on 1999’s Original Demo Recordings) before Fifi, Fink, and Sammy went on to form Firestarter. Included on that record is a cover of the Rubber City Rebels’ “Kidnapped”.
Incidentally, they’ve got so many projects that I don’t know which one is getting most of their attention these days. Teengenerate reformed a few years ago to play some shows. The Raydios have performed as recent as February of 2012 according to this. It’s safe to say the guys are around in some form as fun, energetically noisy representatives of Japan’s respectable rock & roll scene.
The Neighborhoods - “Monday Morning” (live at the Rat, May 1979)
An important component of the late 70s/early 80s Boston scene were The Neighborhoods, known for their inspired blend of punk and power pop, as well as their wildly energetic live shows. As depicted in footage of them playing at Boston venue The Rat in ‘79, the intensity of energy injected into the music was due in no small part to vocalist/guitarist Dave Minehan. Don’t you wish you were there?
In 1980, local label Ace of Hearts put out their first single, Prettiest Girl (with “No Place Like Home” on the flip), which went on to be a hugely successful hit locally. (Ace of Hearts went on to sign Mission of Burma shortly thereafter.) It has, in time, earned The Neighborhoods a place in the higher echelon of American power pop.
There wasn’t another release until 1984’s EP/mini-LP Fire Is Coming, which displays a slick, produced sound, but still shows the band’s promise. Their first LP was 1986’s The High Hard One, which has several great tracks, but also unfortunately suffers from tinny, stale production. Minehan’s fiery guitar hooks are still there under the sheen, held steady by the outstanding bass-playing, though the essence of their live show wasn’t quite captured on record. A rough, punky edge is given to the melodic power pop sensibility, making The Neighborhoods sound like sort of like America’s answer to UK darlings The Jam. (Minehan’s overall look is even particularly Jam-like in this TV performance of “Arrogance”.) The band has put out a couple other records, like 1987’s Reptile Men and 1990’s Hoodwinked.
Lineup changes have taken place over the years, but you can still catch them live from time to time—check here for details. See more live footage of them here. Read an interview with Minehan here and watch him kill it on lead playing an amazing rendition of the Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” with Paul Westerberg on SNL in ‘93. And lastly, you can download a highly recommended live set from the guys in 1979 via the Boston Rock Archives.
Caught up in someone’s best-of-2012 list lies Light Up Gold by Parquet Courts, a New York-based band of Texan transplants. It can be summed up as clever, stripped-down, mellow, eclectic garage-y post-punk that has tinges of Americana. Speaking frankly, it’s just a damn good record. Drawn-out jams like “Stoned and Starving” are found alongside choppier standouts like “Borrowed Time”. Light Up Gold is one of those albums that would make a solid accompaniment on a road trip, alongside stuff like Double Nickels on the Dime or Slanted and Enchanted. Those who like esoteric, wordy post-punk like the Fall, DIY stuff like Tronics, or quirky/sarcastic stuff from the late 70s/early 80s American underground like the Embarrassment, etc., will probably find Parquet Courts comforting.