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Michael Toland: May 19, 2013

Ketchup Vol. 10

Another 10 recently-released records I can’t give the full attention they deserve.

  1. Io EchoMinistry of Love (Iamsound)

    Current Joy Formidable support act Ionna Gika and The Big Pink bassist Leopold Ross had already toured with Nine Inch Nails and done the score for the Harmony Korine flick Rebel by the time they got around to recording the debut Io Echo LP. Gauzy shoegaze melodies meet busy electronic rhythms, like a less dissonant Curve, though Gika’s throaty vocals hold the center. Picks to click: “Ministry of Love,” “Ecstasy Ghost”

  2. Susan JamesDriving Toward the Sun (SJM

    The whole Americana thing has been beaten into the ground over the last couple of decades, which makes a talent like Susan James that much more precious. With a strong sense of pop melody, lyrics that show emotional ambition and a commitment to creating well-crafted music, the Los Angeleno makes Driving Toward the Sun an essential listen for anyone with an ear for music with real heart. Picks to click: “Driving Toward the Sun,” “Mission Bells”

  3. Jim of SeattleWe Are All Famous (Green Monkey)

    Don’t lie – as a music nerd, you’ve long imagined what a hybrid of the Zombies, the Residents, R. Stevie Moore, the Magnetic Fields, Sparks and Van Dyke Parks would sound like. Well, here it is – nineteen tracks of sometimes quirky, often zany, but extremely well-crafted tracks of sophistipop from the enigmatic composer Jim of Seattle. Includes a piano duet with the Windows start-up chime sure to have you checking your computer every few seconds. Picks to click: “We Are All Famous,” “Laboratory Rat”

  4. The LaurelsPlains (Rice is Nice)

    Sydney’s Laurels don’t stray far from the well-established shoegaze path trod by the usual suspects. But with just enough rock kick to keep from being too dreamy and a penchant for melodies you can grab and hold (qualities they share with their countryfolk Morning After Girls), they don’t need to go exploring – just do what they do and do it well. Picks to click: “Traversing the Universe,” “One Step Forward (Two Steps Back)”

  5. Conny OchsBlack Happy (Exile On Mainstream)

    German singer/songwriter Conny Ochs is likely best known for his collaborative work with the great underground stoner metal icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich (cf Heavy Kingdom). Ochs has a rock & roll soul, but prefers stripped-down solo arrangements, putting his busted-heart songsmithery in the realm of Nikki Sudden, Matthias Hellberg and Tyla. Picks to click: “No Sleep Tonight,” “Stable Chaos”

  6. PocoAll Fired Up (self-released)

    I’ll admit to some surprise that Poco still exists – I’d assumed that the band ceased to exist when longtime frontman Paul Cotton left. But founder/singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Rusty Young, along with stalwarts from the last couple of decades, still plugs away, and while this record’s goodtiming country rock won’t change the world, diehards will find the quartet’s current work quite respectable in relation to its catalog. Picks to click: “Love Has No Reason,” “Neil Young”

  7. Gideon Smith & the Dixie Damned30 Weight (Small Stone)

    A burly hard rock shaman, North Carolina’s Gideon Smith has consistently (if sporadically) released solid Southern acid metal statements for over a decade. The swaggering 30 Weight easily satisfies those inclined toward soulful riffs, widescreen baritones and lysergic philosophy, while delighting rock underground trainspotters with appearances by members of Five Horse Johnson, Big Chief, Luder and ANTiSEEN. Picks to click: “Black Fire,” “Feel Alive”

  8. The Soft HillsChromatisms (Tapete)

    Like any good band, Seattle’s Soft Hills have evolved, from a pixie dust-kissed folk-pop act to a full-on psychedelic rock juggernaut. Heavy without being metal in any sense, the frequently spectacular Chromatisms finds the band truly coming into its own, inhabiting this acid dream as if born to it. Picks to click: “Mighty River,” “Payroll”

  9. Sons of FathersBurning Days (self-released)

    Saying a roots rock band comes from Austin is like saying a chicken has feathers. Fortunately, Sons of Fathers have both the songwriting smarts and the ability to deftly shift from folk to country to loud rock & roll, and sound comfortably home with it all. Picks to click: “O.G.C.T.A.W.,” “Feel the Fall”

  10. Thalia Zedek BandVia (Thrill Jockey)

    The husky howl and brooding lyrics of Thalia Zedek powered noisy indie rockers Come and Live Skull, but she prefers rootsier, more melodic sounds under her own name. Sharing the mix with prominent violin, Zedek explores the dynamics of rock melancholia with intensity and taste. Picks to click: “Get Away,” “In This World”