In part two of my band roundups, there’s Leftover Cuties, straight from the Cotton Club, with their charming song & video, “Game Of Live”. Sore Eros lays on some cool vibes (literally), and Scottish lo-fi folk artist Withered Hand makes his U.S. debut. New Numbers harkens back to late 70s Bowie and Iggy – always a sound near and dear to my heart – and rootsy Los Angeles band The Morgansterns releases a warmly inviting debut on Microhits Music Corp.
Inspired by the jazz clubs of the 1930s, Leftover Cuties have a great sound harkening back to those times, with the focus on sultry vocals (and sad lyrics), ukulele, upright bass, and smooth percussion. They have two EPs out (Game Called Life and their Christmas EP), although their full-length debut is imminent. The first EP’s title track, “Game Called Life,” was used as the theme song for the Showtime series “The Big C,” and they’ve performed in and around the L.A. area. Coming up, they have some shows in California, plus an appearance at the UkeFest in Denver on Saturday (Feb. 5).
A band of dreamy psychedelic soundscapers known as Sore Eros (a name which conjures heartache, but in a really noble rather than whiny sort of way) released their second album toward the end of last year, Know Touching. This was the follow-up to their debut, Second Chants. With comparisons to Atlas Sound, Kurt Vile and Deerhunter, their music music is both densely constructed and loosely-fitting. With Robert Robinson’s cherub-like vocals, it all comes across like some half-forgotten dream. They’ll be performing at SXSW this year.
Here’s a very cool Scottish alt-folk singer/songwriter who has released two EPs, a debut album called Good News in 2009, and toured around the UK and Europe, but just recently came into my field of vision. Dan Willson is known as Withered Hand, whether he’s performing solo or accompanied by Hannah Shepherd (cello); Neil Pennycook (banjo); Alun Thomas (drums); and others. He has a fragile vocal delivery reminiscent at times of Neil Young, with songs that reference his evangelical Christian upbringing (and spiritual uncertainty) and display a cynical view of love (but at the same time sentimental). His songwriting is at once poetic and comical, with some rather surprising lyrics (“well I beat myself off when I sleep on your futon, I walk in the rain with my second-hand suit on”) draped over delicate melodies. Charming and silly lyrically, his presentation is so gentle and sweet, unassuming and sincere, one is immediately caught off-guard and instantly captivated.
“… I’m knocking on Kevin’s front door, singing religious songs, and getting the words wrong, my hair’s getting too long, for this congregation… And they say, “how does he really expect to be happy, when he listens to death metal bands?” – Religious Songs
US solo dates
12 March LITTLEFIELD w/The Morgues, Brooklyn, NYC
14 March ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL w/KC, New York
16-19 March SXSW
20 March HEMLOCK TAVERN, San Francisco
22 March HOTEL CAFE w/KC, Los Angeles
Joshua Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Michael Fadem (drums), formerly of The Jealous Girlfriends, originally came together over a love of Eno-era David Bowie and Iggy Pop with their own psychedelic glaze and fuzzy guitar distortion. “She’s So Down” and “Whatever I Want” have kind of a 60s feel; very nice. “Brides” is a personal favorite; it has nicely sardonic lyrics, an equally sharp beat and catchy melody. They even do a cover of Bowie’s “Sound and Vision,” which is quite faithful to the original, though actually as a respectful tribute I prefer their own “Creature Comforts,” which is muy Lodger-esque and delightful.
Their debut album Vacationland is out March 8 on their own Musiques Primitives label (and a vinyl version on These Are Not Records). They perform with a host of others on guitar, bass, keys, and backing vocals – most notably Kevin Devine (Fadem also drums in Devine’s band, The Goddamn Band), who contributes guitar and vocals.
Los Angeles, CA
Rootsy rockers The Morgansterns have a comfortable, home-grown sound with echoes of Americana and a driving rhythm, drawing comparisons to The Band, Langhorne Slim, and Tom Petty. Their just released debut album, No Talking (Microhits Music), was produced by Barrie Maguire (The Wallflowers/Natalie Merchant/Amos Lee). “Torn In Two,” with its sentimental guitar melodies and wistful harmonies, addresses the ambivalence of leaving friends and family for the adventures and the unknowns of the road (“you ever seen a bird get caught in his nest… you reap what you sow, when you finally let go”). “The Dreamer” is another mournful one, full of yearning; for me, these quieter contemplations are where the band truly shines.
Microhits Music Corp.
An independent music company based in Hollywood since 2000, Microhits Music Corp. has an extensive and quite varied catalog that includes songs and recordings by such artists as Alicia Keyes, Muddy Waters, Christina Aguilera, T.I., Snoop Dog, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, and many others. They also work with up-and-coming indie bands, and are in the business of promoting, marketing, and music placement for television, ads and films; administration and collection of income; and growth strategies for artists and rights holders.share this: