Abandoned Love Records' Sweet, Sometimes Bitter Music
Abandoned Love Records uses a picture of someone playing the melodica on their intro page, which could either be a good omen or a horrid trick. And with a name like Abandoned Love, they could be bitter. If so, at least they're not taking it out on other music fans.
At least one MP3 can be downloaded from everything in their website store (except a shirt, but to be fair, it doesn't seem to play music.) I listened to several of the MP3s and found an abundance of great power pop and alt rock.
Plot Against Rachel's "Casual Carpool" sets shared, sweetly sung vocals and romantic, angst-ridden lyrics to music that's initially sparse and soft, then turns up the intensity with denser guitars. And it has something to do with winning bread in exchange for head repair. They encourage carpooling and a bartering-based economy and are likely socialists. That's just an observation; it's a great alt rock song regardless of any political innuendo it may contain. They also encourage the phrase "win the bread" instead of "bring home the bacon", so they're likely vegetarians.*
Hippie vegetarian socialist rockers Plot Against Rachel will release a self-titled EP on March 13th.
*Note for those who may wonder about any of that analysis: Yes, I am joking. They use the phrase "win the bread" but don't necessarily encourage it.
Plot Against Rachel - Casual Carpool (on the Plot Against Rachel EP)
Artist website: Plot Against Rachel
Self released EP, available through Abandoned Love Records
March 23 - Santa Clara, CA - 6:00 PM - KSCU Radio 103.3 FM - Power Pop Show (interview/performance)
March 24 - San Francisco, CA - Hotel Utah Saloon - 8:00 PM - CD Release Party
April 10 - San Francisco, CA - Make-Out Room - 9:00 PM
April 11 - Stanford, CA - 9:00 PM KZSU 90.1 FM - Wednesday Night Live (interview/performance)
Apr 13 - Palo Alto, CA - Stanford University - 8:00 PM
Within ten seconds of "I Have A Need You See", you can tell The Lovely Sparrows are really, really good. If poignant power pop love songs are your fizzy cup of Coca-Cola, you'll likely enjoy it.
The excellent "Chemicals Change", from last fall's Pulling Up Floors, Pouring on (New) Paint is a much different song. Both are well-written and neither is sunny, but "Chemicals" is much darker and more complex lyrically. The lyrics are full of the sort of too-clever-by-half turns of phrase you can imagine someone turning over in their head and perfecting, just waiting for the chance to use them all on their newly-estranged-lover ("Honey, I spend my life splitting words like hairs"). Except that real people spend lots of time thinking of the most clever things to say and they never end up that clever. The song captures the "bitter" part pretty well ("Can I lay down tonight, and just forget your face?"). The music's beautiful; piano, a swaying flute melody, and insistent guitar also help set an urgent tone.
Artist website: The Lovely Sparrows
The Lovely Sparrows - Chemicals Change (on the Pulling Up Floors, Pouring on (New) Paint EP)
The Lovely Sparrows - I Have A Need You See (on 7" of the "Take Your Hats Off You Godless Bastards" single)
Self-released recordings, available through: Abandoned Love Records
March 15 - Austin, TX - Spiderhouse - 1:00 PM (SXSW day party)
March 17 - Austin, TX - The Mohawk - Midnight (SXSW showcase - wristband or badge required, w/The Black Angels, and Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter)
March 30 - Dallas, TX - The Cavern - 8:00 PM (w/the Night Game Cult, Karrie Hopper, and Eaton Lake Tonics)
March 31 - Oaklahoma City - VZD's - 8:00 PM
April 2 - Urbana, IL - Canopy Club - 9:30 PM (w/Pulsar47, Small Sails, and New Ruins)
April 4 - Rock Island, Illinois - Daytrotter session - 8:00 PM
April 5 - Chicago, IL - Schuba's - 9:00 PM - (w/The Swimmers)
Lastly, The Capstan Shafts (a.k.a. Dean Wells) uses a winning formula with "Chandelier Of Bad Ideas" -- heavy, seesawing, guitars, lyrics mostly fixated on sleeves (clever, as most people wear them), and catchy backing vocals to lighten things up a bit. Recommended if you like Spoon, The New Pornographers, or sleeves.
The Capstan Shafts - Chandelier of Bad Ideas (on The Sleeved and Grandaughters of the Blacklist)
The Capstan Shafts doesn't have a website, but Dean Wells' Swedish label set up a site with links to a couple articles about The Capstan Shafts. Some of their recordings can be ordered from Yellow Mica Recordings, and they have free MP3s, including one by The Capstan Shafts, but at a 96 bitrate.
The Sleeved and Grandaughters of the Blacklist is the only one of their recordings available (as a "limited edition") at Abandoned Love Records