The Clientele: Bonfires on the Heath

In an era where slacker sensibilities and low-gazing attitudes seem to dominate the musical mainstream, the Clientele’s preoccupation with lush, radiant textures and elaborate, ethereal arrangements consistently go against the norm. Vocalist/guitarist/musical mastermind Alasdair MacLean’s aversion to bombastic singers and self-serving guitar solos finds thoughts morphed into action via the collision of horns, harmonies and soft-swaying melodies that adorn Bonfires on the Heath, the latest extravaganza from this Hampshire band. The group conjures up a number of obvious influences – Love, the Zombies, Galaxie 500 and the Felt – but given their seamless delivery and breezy, shimmering style, it would sell them short to merely attribute their sound to appropriating that of their predecessors. “I Wonder Who We Are,” “Bonfires on the Heath” and “Jennifer & Julia” purvey a genteel charm and a soothing, sensual ambiance that seizes attention even on first encounter. And while the scattershot shuffle of “Sketch” almost seems disruptive in the midst of these mellow soundscapes, a song such as “Never Anyone but You” shows their ability to make a seamless transition from meditative reflection to gently compelling refrains. Varying the tempos between a samba and a sway, this rich mélange provides an allure all its own. (Merge 2009)

The Clientele MySpace page


Various Artists: Where The Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968

RIYL: Byrds, Beach Boys, Love

One would think that it wouldn’t have taken six volumes before the renowned Nuggets series finally got around to the fertile music scene that dominated Los Angeles in the mid ‘60s. With ample sets devoted to London and San Francisco, and extensive treatment given New York and the Northeast, cynics might perceive Where the Action Is! almost as an afterthought, coming, as it does, this late in the Nuggets progression. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome addition to the canon, given that the ‘60s were practically defined by the folk rock, psychedelia and experimental sounds that echoed through the Southern California canyons, its sprawling suburbs, white, sunny beaches, and the haunts and hangouts on the Sunset Strip. And while the roll call of musicians birthed in those environs encompasses some of the more formidable figures of modern rock and pop, the L.A. scene was also responsible for would-be innovators who etched only a momentary foothold in that innovative era.

This, of course, is where Nuggets has always served its purpose, to bring to light the obscure and unlikely artists that have slipped through the cracks, both the one-hit wonders and early permutations of bands that would ultimately achieve stardom under some later aegis. And in the case of Where The Action Is!, that mission has never been better served. The obvious examples from that era are, of course, well-represented, from Captain Beefheart and the Byrds to the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield, while bands like Love, the Seeds and the Turtles, transient teen idols Dino, Desi & Billy, Kim Fowley and Keith Allison, and preposterous pretenders such as Peter Fonda and Noel Harrison also find a good fit. As befitting those heady, innocent days, there are plenty of band brands that give cause for chuckles, given that the psychedelic ‘60s propagated groups with names like the Everpresent Fullness, London Phogg, Farpardokly, Limey & the Yanks, Ken & the Fourth Dimension, the W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band and, of course, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

Read the rest after the jump...

Erin McCarley: Love, Save the Empty

How does a solo artist stand out in a crowd these days? It’s not an easy task, due to the sheer number of singers and/or songwriters that seem to be on every street corner no matter what part of the globe you’re on. To help listeners and fans find you, it helps to be quite talented, and that can be said about newcomer Erin McCarley and her debut album, Love, Save the Empty. McCarley has the kind of radio-ready sound that is sure to please the “One Tree Hill” producers and fan base alike, but this sultry vocalist writes songs that run deeper and darker than that. What you’ll hear on most of Love, Save the Empty is a gloomy undertone, and McCarley openly admits that she is most inspired when sad. But that dark feel, akin to maybe Fiona Apple or Alanis Morissette, is also tempered by an accessible yet sophisticated side to her songwriting – think Aimee Mann or Luscious Jackson’s Jill Cunniff. And while McCarley does have a nice set of songs to debut to the world, the wispy Hotel Café vocal thing does get a bit tiresome after a while. It’s also what is selling right now, so you can’t fault the artist or label. Among 11 great pieces, the ones you should keep coming back to are the opening single, “Pony (It’s OK),” the peppy “Sleep Walking” and the beautifully melancholy “Lovesick Mistake,” easily the album’s best track. (Universal Republic 2009)

Erin McCarley MySpace Page


You Heard It Here First: Erin McCarley

Erin McCarley was born in Dallas and cultivated her music career in San Diego, but she now resides in Nashville, home of country music and great songwriters. And right now, she is fitting in as one of the top pop artists on Music City. McCarley was on the Ten out of Tenn compilation recently and her debut album, Love, Save The Empty, on Universal Republic, comes out in early 2009 (January 6 to be exact). Folks, you need to keep an eye on Miss McCarley, because not only does she know how to craft infectious pop, but she delivers it with a humble charm and with a compelling voice. Here are a couple of samples courtesy of the label:

“Pony (It’s OK)”

“Love, Save the Empty”

Erin McCarley MySpace

Erin McCarley website

and since I know you’re all wondering what Erin looks like, here is a link to photos


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