2011Candy - June Edition One

Background: Lefse Records is excited to announce the addition of the Fair Ohs to the their roster. Eddy Frankel (guitar/vocals), Matt Flag (bass) and Joey Ryan (drums) started two years ago in East London as a raucous hardcore band called Big F***ing Deal, but have since settled on Fair Ohs after numerous changes. Everything Is Dancing  is their debut full length, but have had split record/cassettes with Male Bonding, Women, Cold Pumas, Spectrals on a host of rad UK DIY labels like Sex Is Disgusting and Faux Discx.

Everything is Dancing is influenced by West African funk, 60's Psycheldic Rock, Eritrean Guayla music and a whole heap of Fleetwood Mac. The record is being released in all formats on Lefse July 26th, and July 7th on the bands own Honey High Records in the UK.

2011Candy Says: Reminds me of early new wave in some ways, take that as a positive, nice upbeat and lively, just right for a summers day.
Listen: Eden Rock. Web: Official.

Background: 17 Pygmies officially began in 1982 when then Savage Republic member Jackson Del Rey (aka Philip Drucker) began jamming in a garage with keyboardist and guitarist Michael Kory (Radwaste) and drummer, soon to be singer, Debbie Spinelli from Food & Shelter and Radwaste. The group's first composition was an odd, kind of surf-a-delic, Emerson Lake & Palmer inspired cover version of the theme music to David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. Since no one was around to say stop, the band quickly devolved into a kind of spooky instrumental and 80's style techno-pop band, and by the time the Pygs, as they were now known to the five people including the band members who knew them, started covering Brazilian sambas (and just before the release of their first EP) Robert Loveless, now a member of Savage Republic, signed on as bass player/keyboardist.

The band are described as  - partly symphonic prog rock, partly experimental, partly sci-fi, partly indie rock, partly space rock, partly electro-acoustic, (you get the picture) the Pygmies utilize the Brian Wilson “whatever works” aesthetic to get their musical vision(s) across.

On January 1, 2011 "CII: Second Son" was released, part two in a three part series based on the original short story “Celestina”  The story picks up with our hero, Captain Mora and fellow astronaut and scientist/love interest, Isabel, waking up after traveling through a black hole, only to discover a colony of robots who have changed their chemical ‘mix’ to cope with a beautiful but mysterious world in which nothing ever changes. While adapting to their new surroundings, they learn some astonishing news from Herod, leader of the robots, and know they have no choice but to find a way to return home. Musically, CII: Second Son is a tribute to all of the unique 1950-60’s era science fiction motion pictures (think The Day The Earth Stood Still), but this time the music is a bit darker, perhaps reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream, with the Pygs using more experimental sounds to reflect the more somber, stark moodiness of the storyline. Heather Lockie (Audio Distructinators) was invited to play viola for this project to add a mysterious and beautiful sound.

2011Candy Says: The mention of prog rock seems to put me on cautious alert these days however 17 Pygmies are far more than just prog rock and even that aspect of them is superb. This is a wonderful album.
Listen: CELESTINA XIII Web: MySpace.

Background: Before rocking stages nationwide and getting their music played on numerous MTV shows, the members of Boston based band Endway were nearly homeless. Band members Kevin McHugh (Guitar, Vocals), Dennis Walsh (Bass, Vocals), Andrea Belfiore (Drums), Morgan Dorr (Lead Vocals, Guitar) and Brian Lempert (Keys, Vocals), literally gave up everything to pursue their love of music. As a result the guys ended up playing over 200 shows nationwide—sharing the Endway message with any and everyone that would lend an ear.

Endway’s philosophy on the sacrifice was simple—they believe if you do what you love and you'll be great at it. They did it so much that their suitcases became their closets, and the couches and floors of fans and friends became their bedrooms. This connection to the audience and fan base is one of the many things that separate them from your everyday rock band.

During that journey, Endway released the band’s self-titled debut album, which catapulted them from virtually unknown to a hot commodity. As luck would have it a producer from MTV’s The Real World happened upon the CD from one of the cast members. He liked the Endway’s sound so much so that nine of the songs off of the album were featured on five different MTV shows including The Real World, Road Rules, and The Hills.

To keep up with the modern day trends of giving their fans continuous content and music, the band released there next album—the appropriately titled Running Man in late 2009. With licensing successes, several critically acclaimed performances, two critically acclaimed albums and positive word of mouth, Endway gained the attention of an up and coming producer/label owner, Andrew Koss of Tainted Blue Studios/Productions in New York City. Koss was so blown away with their devotion and dedication to the music that he had to be involved! Koss in tern produced their recently released album, Colors. The album, which features the internet hit “Running Man,” is decidedly worldlier sounding than any of Endway’s previous releases. With such a varied fan base the band succeeded in making an album that anyone can get into no matter their background. Colors was finished in the fall of 2010 and digitally released by Tainted Blue in the first quarter of 2011.

2011Candy Says: Oh this is just good lively no nonsense pop or rock or indie, call it what you want sometimes keeping it simple is more than enough.
Listen: Gimme Gimme. Web: Official.

Background: Summertime recalls bad Hollywood movies, less clothes, and funny tan lines. But what about music? New York's synth rockers Jump Into The Gospel kick off the scorching temperatures with a new single and a slew of NYC dates.

The Music Slut recently premiered the band's latest single "2012" to celebrate the band's June residency at Pianos June 15th, 22nd, and 29th. With spunky vocals reminiscent of Talking Heads' David Byrne and The Rapture's Luke Jenner, and guitars and synths oozing with bright vivacity, "2012" adds up to pure summer music.  Be sure to catch JITG each Wednesday this June at Pianos for a night of the warm, fuzzy, new wave rock that we’ve all come to love. For all those who splurged on other summer delicacies (ie. kiddie pools, jet skis, frozen margaritas), the final show of JITG's residency on June 29th will be a free one.

Comprised of frontman Louis Epstein, guitarist Ben Vescovi, bassist Lakis Pavlou, keyboardist Erik Tonnessen (tours with Holy Ghost!), and Chris Stein (tours with The Drums), Jump Into The Gospel contains the indie make-up necessary to make a deep crater in the New York music scene, in a serious way.

2011Candy Says; Synth rock needs to be done really well to get me to listen these days, sorry but that's just how it tends to be. The vocals on this grabbed me straight away and work so well with the music. Synth pop without the eighties baggage.
Listen: 2012. Web: Official.

Background: From Paper Gardens Lovely Hearts Club we read - Dreamy Norwegian pop trio Philco Fiction first captured our attention here at the Lovely Hearts Club when they stopped through New York on their recent US tour. All it took was a few bars of their uniquely whimsical sound and we were hooked.  We knew we had to share this gem of the European underground rock scene with our fellow audiophiles this side of the Atlantic.

The group debuted their first album, Give Us to the Lions, in 2010. Since then they have been hard at work touring and recording a second album, which is due to be released this fall. Lucky for us, they leaked the album’s first single “Help” to give all you Lovely Hearts Club fans out there a taste of what’s in store. Prepare to be mesmerized by singer Turid Solberg’s stunning vocals and the band’s playful, inventive instrumentation.

2011Candy Says: It's not just the Swedes and the Danes, now it's the Norwegians making great pop and rock music. Great song from a band I for one will looking out for.
Listen: Help! Web: Official.

Background: Raised in the "live music capital of the world," 19-year-old Ariel Abshire has always been surrounded by great music and the people who make it. She started singing classic hardcore country at honky tonks and dance halls with Texas music hall of fame Alvin Crow at age 11 years old. For years, Austin's legendary Broken Spoke was her second home where her talents were nurtured by the likes of Pinetop Perkins, Clifford Antone, Dale Watson and countless other Austin greats.

But Ariel Abshire's musical influences are not limited to the country realm. Stepfather, Lance Fever (lead singer for the notable 90s punk/ska band Gals Panic), introduced her to Austin’s alternative scene at an early age and steered his friend Andy Sharp toward producing her debut CD, Exclamation Love. This self-penned album of original material was immediately snatched up by San Diego label Darla Records (My Morning Jacket, Robin Guthrie) and released just after Abshire’s seventeenth birthday. The record made several top 10 lists and received critical acclaim from such A-list sources as The Boston Globe, The Austin Chronicle, Exclaim! and Some Velvet Blog. And the live act that followed earned her a spot on The Austin Chronicle’s ‘Top Ten Female Vocalists’ list of 2009.

Ariel Abshire has just finished recording several guest vocal parts on Matt Pond PA's new EP, Spring Fools and also his forthcoming album. Also, she is currently performing with her band in venues across Texas and has recently shared the bill with Jerry Jeff Walker, Kellie Pickler, Roger Creager, Robert Earl Keen, Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs, Graham Reynold's Golden Arm Trio, etc. Her voice can also be heard on the soundtracks of feature films by Robert Rodriguez and Trevor Romain, numerous video game projects, and an animated cartoon for Adult Swim’s William Street Studios. Her second record, Still So New, is being mastered now and will be released soon (August).

2011Candy Says: This is such a great song and the vocals of Ariel are simply beautiful. I will stop there otherwise I will start gushing....
Listen: No Great Pretender. Web: Official.

Background: The new release date for Vanessa Carlton's upcoming album Rabbits on the Run is now July 26th.  Vanessa will hit the road in June to preview the album nationwide and perform three sold-out shows at Joe's Pub in New York City (tour dates below).

Rabbits on the Run, Vanessa Carlton's fourth studio album, was produced by Steve Osborne (U2, B-52's, KT Tunstall) and was recorded in the UK at Peter Gabriel's world-renowned Real World Studios. The album returns to a different era of music-making:  ten intimate, evocative songs, recorded directly to tape with her close-knit team of collaborators including Steve Osborne, Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket,  and Ari Ingber of The Upwelling (all playing on the album). Part inspired by two books: Richard Adams' Watership Down and Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time,   Rabbits on the Run is by far the most honest and uncompromising album she has recorded to date, revealing a striking departure and an exciting snapshot in the evolution of  this exquisite storyteller and inventive musician.  Songs include the 70's-sun-drenched "Dear California," the lush "Carousel" and the bold "I Don't Want to Be a Bride."

June 22:  Vienna, VA - Jammin' Java
June 23:  Philadelphia, PA - World Café Live
June 25:  Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
June 26:  New York, NY - Joe's Pub
June 27:  New York, NY - Joe's Pub
June 29:  New York, NY - Joe's Pub
July 7:  San Francisco, CA - Swedish American Hall
July 8:  Los Angeles, CA - Largo
July 9:  Temecula, CA - Pechanga Resort & Casino w/ Matchbox 20
July 22:  Highland Park, IL - Ravinia Festival w/ Five For Fighting

2011Candy Says; You would expect quality mixing from Real World studios and you get that here. Superb harmonies on this fine piano led song.
Listen: Carousel. Web: Official.

Background: Despite the roots all three share as rich tributaries of great American music, there have been few instances in which country, jazz, and pop rock have successfully come together within one band. It just seems like an impossible fit: corralling Stetson-hatted cowboys, cool-blowing jazzmen, and funky rock players into a single cohesive project, one that seamlessly blends these very distinct styles. It seems impossible, that is, until you’ve heard Tricked Out Country.

The creation of drummer, producer, and backing vocalist Anthony Liccese and lead singer and guitarist Neil Scott Johnson—and featuring renowned jazz trumpeter Kenny Scharf—Tricked Out Country boasts one of the most refreshingly new sounds on today’s music scene. With its combination of Neil’s modern country sensibility and Anthony’s contemporary pop production, all flavored with Kenny’s tasteful embellishments, Tricked Out Country has created an album sure to lasso hip downtowners and sophisticated uptowners, as well as honky-tonk hell-raisers. And the best place to make that boot- scootin’, booty-shakin’ connection is via the group’s self-titled debut. The release is home to nine startlingly original tracks that include the irresistible, playful two-stepper “Chicky Chow Chow,” the brew-hoisting party anthem “It’s the Beer,” the ’80s- esque ballad “Circle of Dreams,” and even a reggae-tinged cut, “You’re Not Invited to My Party,” which features a guest appearance by Jamaican rapper O.S.

“Growing up in the Bronx I was exposed to all kinds of music, but not really a lot of country until I met Neil,” says Anthony, aka the Harmony Guy, known around town for his masterful backup harmonies and, like Neil, a veteran of the New York club scene. “I’d written some country songs for my other group, the Neil Scott Johnson Band [the New York Metropolitan Country Music Association’s Band of the Year for six consecutive years],” says Neil, who was raised Upstate and whose classic rock background includes work with Aztec Two-Step’s Neal Schulman and hit country songwriter David Kent. “Tricked Out Country started in 2010, when Anthony got the idea to produce the songs using non-traditional instrumentation—country and pop rock, but with a jazz twist.”

“I loved my parents’ records by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass when I was a kid, and I’ve always loved including brass, especially horn, whenever possible in my musical efforts—Tricked Out Country is emblematic of this,” explains Anthony. “I met Kenny Scharf [a featured soloist with Ray Charles 12 years and now an in-demand artist in his own right] on a gig a few years back, and hired him right away. As soon as we heard him play on our tracks we knew we had something really different.”

In addition to the music itself, Tricked Out Country’s initial release includes something else that’s really different for a debut album: a bonus DVD with a feature on the band’s concept and a promotional video, directed by Anthony, for “Julie,” the record’s high- twangin’, down-home-shufflin’ first single. As such an astonishingly novel project, it’s no surprise the set has already won rabid praise from several key music publications.

2011Candy Says: Now I love to feature artists that mix up the genres and styles and do something different with style. All requirements met here then, if only more country artists would move beyond the safety of the traditional format.
Listen: Julie. Web: Official.

Background: The Kobolds are a New York City alternative rock band with a home-base in Astoria, Queens. Influenced by The White Stripes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gorillaz, and Led Zeppelin, Alex Grau and Nicholas DiMichele first started playing music together as teenagers in College Station, Texas. After moving to New York to pursue degrees from NYU, Alex and Nick enlisted Pennsylvanian drummer Andrew Benson from a local Guitar Center.

Using intense intimidation tactics, Alex, Nick and Andrew coerced their long-time friend from Texas, Spencer Synwolt, to start a new life in New York and round out the rock quartet. The Kobolds were born in 2009, and released their first album, The Kobolds EP, in July 2010. Following a year of playing New York, their second album, The Kobolds EP II, is being released in May 2011.

2011Candy Says: There is enough original style here to make it easy to look beyond the influences. I love this track, simple as that.
Listen: The Grind. Web: Official.

Background: Extra Happy Ghost!!! is an experimental pop group from Calgary, Canada. The project was originally started by Matthew Swann in 2008 as an outlet for the murky, psychedelic sounds that he heard in his head.  In 2009 EHG!!!'s debut EP How the Beach Boys Sound to Those with no Feelings was released via Saved by Radio. The EP consists primarily of Swann’s lo-fi home recordings and was graciously received to critical acclaim. In fall 2010 EHG!!! released a split 7” with their friends Lab Coast which Coke Machine Glow described as “One of the most uncomplicated enjoyable releases I’ve heard all year”.

In late 2010 Extra Happy Ghost!!! entered Chad VanGaalen’ s Yoko Eno studio to record their first full length, Modern Horses.  The project, conceived of almost a year prior, was spurred by a chance meeting at a 2009 Vic Chesnutt (RIP) show, where Ian Russell of Flemish Eye Records conveyed VanGaalen’s  fondness for EHG!!!’s debut EP.  The album is named for 9 horses that panicked and jumped off a Calgary bridge in 2005 while being corralled toward the city’s downtown. Modern Horses is concise, consisting of nine sparse and anxious pop songs, functioning as a whole and flowing seamlessly. Modern Horses is available for download (through iTunes etc.), or on CD or LP through Saved by Radio/Saved by Vinyl July 26, 2011.

2011Candy Says: Another fine song for this round up, it's kinda dreamy and then energised with a real hook in the chorus.
Listen: So At One. Web: MySpace.

Background: The Fruit Tree Foundation is a new independent project in Scotland led by musicians Rod Jones and Emma Pollock in partnership with The Mental Health Foundation, Scottish Wave of Change and Breathing Space Scotland. The project has grown from the annual Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (1-24 October 2010) and aims to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing and challenge perceptions of mental health problems by creating great art. Featuring: James Graham Twilight Sad), (Scott Hutchison (Frightened Rabbit), Rod Jones (Idlewild), Jill O’Sullivan (Sparrow and the Workshop), Emma Pollock (The Delgados), Karine Polwart, Jenny Reeve, Alasdair Roberts and James Yorkston.

This ambitious new project sees some of Scotland’s finest and most exciting artists from the indie and folk music scene come together to explore the relationship between creativity and mental health by writing and producing a brand new album; featuring unique pairings and one-off collaborations between some of our most intriguing song-writers.

The album was exclusively available at two special concerts in Edinburgh and Glasgow last year and is now being released internationally by Glasgow’s seminal record label, Chemikal Underground and will be available to buy for the first time since the concerts in October last year.

Chemikal Underground’s Stewart Henderson: - “While collaborative albums can often be well-meaning, but inevitably patchy affairs, this is emphatically not the case with The Fruit Tree Foundation. For as much as the cause the album supports is an incredibly important one, it really was the strength of the album itself which knocked us out, perhaps not surprisingly when you consider the caliber of those involved. It’s an extraordinarily cohesive piece of work, one which seems to have brought the best out of all the artists and which stands on its own two feet as an album full of intelligence, insight and, most importantly, compellingly great tunes.”

Musician Emma Pollock: - “Writing the new music in the house in Perthshire in such an intense way really brought home to me the inclusive nature of music and how it always manages to convey an energy all of its own. All 9 of us walked in on the first day really quite unaware of what we were about to do, but ultimately the music written carried us all along and the atmosphere in the house was always really positive. Music takes you out of yourself and you can become engrossed in its mood and momentum. This change of perspective can be a wonderful thing and I love the fact there's so much music out there for us to dive into any time we want to go somewhere new."

Head of The Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, Isabella Goldie: - “Music is able to engage people on such an emotional and personal level. It can help you feel less alone, feel you belong or just make the day seem a bit more special. We all have songs that mean something to us and music is able to engender memories like no other art form. It’s impossible to imagine a world without music; it plays such an important part in our lives. It can help us form identities, express ourselves and provide meaning. “The artists on this album have come together under the banner of mental health to explore what mental health means to them and to challenge some of the stereotypes that we attach to people that experience mental health problems. We may not all develop mental health problems, but if we are fortunate enough not to, we are likely to have people close to us that will. This music project gives people a chance to reflect and consider what we can all do collectively to improve mental health within our society”.

Breathing Space Scotland National Coordinator, Tony McLaren: - “Breathing Space Scotland is delighted to sponsor the Fruit Tree Foundation. Music for many people is an instant way of taking Breathing Space. We can all relate to listening to a favourite song on the radio and feeling it lift our spirits. Music can be an instant mood lifter, a way of unwinding and keeping stress at bay.

2011Candy Says: Anyone who 'aims to raise awareness of mental health and well being and challenge perceptions of mental health problems by creating great art' has the full support of Beehive Candy. This song was the first I heard from the album and demonstrates how serious these folk are on 'the great art' element. 
Listen: I Forgot The Fall. Web: Official.

Background: The realization of music is undeniably part of the most desirable goals in any one musician’s agenda. For Botanical Bullets – a New Jersey duo that went to the same high school, but didn’t meet until afterwards – music has always treaded on the same conviction that the coming together of minds should be a patient, introspective and mutual collaboration. And with a sound that is equal parts electronic, noise and rock, with the ability at layering music with careful attention and concentration is what has made for an alliance that is bonded to the core.

Jay Shah (keyboard, effects, drum machine, guitar, vocals) and Jacob Conover’s (vocals, keyboard, guitar) rich musical depth has always maintained an enduring constant in their music. Shah notes influences range from “The Jesus and Mary Chain, to Depeche Mode, to J Dilla, to TV on the Radio.”

And while the music often dips into the realm of atmospheric, ambient noise-rock, Conover adds that their music is never straightforwardly classified, “It would be hard to describe because we are constantly finding new elements and techniques to work with.” Through an array of influences that embark on establishing touchstone elements to their music, Shah also adds that music is never an art that should linger dormant, “I think in time we will both grow more as writers, singers, and producers, so the topics will be more varied and the content more complex.”

What makes Botanical Bullets truly work is the effort and attention each member places on the band’s evolution. The music is frequently an evident depiction of the band’s oxymoron name in that it’s never clear and concise but rather, continuously developing into something far wider and deeper than before. And although their style of music fuses the lines of electronic, pop and even hip-hop, it’s the band’s meticulous song-making process that aids in their aforementioned development.

2011Candy Says: I thought I had featured this duo before maybe I have but just to be on the safe side I wanted to feature this song as it's a fine one to finish this music round up. Rich and flowing with some intriguing twists.
Listen: We Bleed Flourescent. Web: Official.