Sanpaulo – Smile A Little Smile For Me

Sanpaulo – Smile A Little Smile For Me

“Smile A Little Smile For Me” relates the abjectly horrible tale of a man who has been friendzoned by a soul-devouring user named Rosemarie. The poor sap has to sit there at the Applebee’s bar and listen as the teary-eyed Rosemarie sobs about how some guy (who finally came to his senses) ghosted her again and she concludes her soliloquy with the hopeful entreaty, “Do you think he’ll ever come back?” To which our hero, playing his best Jimmy Olsen card to the out-of-his league Lois Lane, responds:

You really should accept
This time he’s gone for good
He’ll never come back now
Even though he said he would

What a sucker. And then he makes his big play, attempting to accomplish the impossible by flipping over from Friend Zone to Rebound Relationship:

So many other guys
Would give the world I’m sure
To wear the shoes he wore…
Oh, c’mon smile a little smile for me, Rosemarie

Sickening. I can picture the insipid little grin on his face, the upraised eyebrows, he probably even playfully chucks her under the chin. Meanwhile Rosemarie is checking Instagram to see if that cute guy in her history class “Liked” the picture of her in the Japanese schoolgirl outfit.

“Smile A Little Smile For Me” was originally a #5 hit for The Flying Machine in 1969. Sanpaulo updates the old chestnut with a David Bowiesque vocal and a haunting rhythm section that mirrors the zombiefied cast in our hero’s eyes after Rosemarie squeals “I’m so glad we had this talk!” then gives him a perfunctory hug before rushing out into the night to meet her latest Tinder match, leaving Jimmy Olsen staring at two unfinished strawberry margaritas and the unpaid check.

“Smile A Little Smile For Me” was written by Geoff Stephens and Tony Macaulay. Together and separately, they were responsible for a long slew of hit records. Geoff Steven penned “The Crying Game” as well as the improbable Wayne Newton hit, “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast.” Not to be undercut, Tony Macaulay is responsible for David Soul’s soulless 1977 smash, “Don’t Give Up On Us.”

“Smile A Little Smile For Me” is the new digital single from Sanpaulo, backed by “Goin’ Back,” a 1966 Byrds song by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Sanpaulo aka Saint Paul is Paul Nini aka “the guy that runs the Old 3C Label Group,” which is based in Columbus, Ohio and is described as “the Midwest’s premiere micro-indie label group.” On his Bandcamp page, we learn that Paul has “been putting out solo releases since 1997, and has been in bands that include Househearts, Great Plains, Peck Of Snide, Log, and Closet Mix.”

You can support deserving independent musicians like Paul Nini by visiting his Bandcamp page, listening to his songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. Be sure to follow Sanpaulo on Facebook, and follow old 3c label group on Facebook and Twitter.

Matthew Carr – Bright Star Fading

Matthew Carr – Bright Star Fading

“Bright Star Fading,” by Matthew Carr, is the perfect song for an April evening when the marigolds are blooming, the tomato vines are heavy with green promise, and the white-winged doves sit in the back of the yard and don’t say anything because they only speak when we need rain.

The song is classic singer-songwriter provender: a guitar strumming simple chords and an easy voice. There’s conflict underneath, but maybe we can put that off until the stars have made their turn across the sky. Until then, we can enjoy the music and have few drinks. The song ends too quickly, with nothing resolved but nothing broken.

“Bright Star Fading” is Matthew Carr’s new single, backed with “Louisville Kentucky.” Matthew is a Welsh musician currently residing in Prague. On his Bandcamp page, we learn that he “was born in Newport, South Wales, and was brought up in the Gwent valleys. He is known for his mellow vocal style, and easy going folk guitar. His lyrics often feature themes of migration and nature.”

You can support deserving independent musicians like Matthew Carr by visiting his Bandcamp page, listening to his songs, and downloading your favorite tracks. His music is also available for streaming on Soundcloud. And be sure to follow Matthew Carr on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Steven Lipsticks – Stay Awake, No More Dreams

Steven Lipsticks – Stay Awake, No More Dreams

“Stay Awake, No More Dreams,” by Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band, is a fine example of Underwear Music: a song that a guy writes and records sitting on his bed in his underwear following a breakup. The phenomenon of Underwear Music is a Guy Thing. After a breakup, Guys lock themselves away and write sad songs. Girls go down to Chili’s with their friends, knock back a few margaritas, and talk about it. Females are most creative when they are happy. Males hit their creative peak when they are sad.

Guest Rebuttal by the Raccoonette: “We do the Girls Night Out margarita thing, but it doesn’t have to be at Chili’s. We just want EVERYONE to know what a loser this guy is. And after we put away a few pitchers of strawberry margaritas, we all go back to someone’s apartment, put on lingerie, and have a pillow fight.”

OK, she didn’t actually say that part about the pillow fight. What she said was, “We have a digital purging and delete every text, email, and picture with this guy’s name or face on it.” So while the Female is deleting, the Male is creating. Steven Lipsticks holds down both sides of the equation; he multi-tasks the breakup by writing a song AND deleting the texts.

I need to be more concrete
Now the problem is paying the rent
And other thoughts to delete
And delete every message you send

“Stay Awake, No More Dreams” is a demo version of “Stay Away from My Dreams,” released in 2015 on Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band’s self-titled debut album. The demo and final version are similar; “Stay Away from My Dreams” benefits from the addition of simple synthesizer and slide guitar lines.

“Stay Awake, No More Dreams” is from the new three-track EP, Jar of Poetry Revisited / 52″. The EP also contains demo versions of two other tracks on the 2015 album, “Jar of Poetry Revisted,” and “99”” (titled “52”” on the new release). Trivia fact: The original demo of “Jar of Poetry Revisited” appeared on the previous album as a hidden track. Listen to “Outro (AKA Clapping Hands).” The titled song occupies the first one-minute-twenty of the track. Then we are presented with a full minute of dead silence before “Jar of Poetry,” here a short acoustic ballad, makes an unannounced appearance. The accompanying hiss is the computer’s fan, which Steven described as “a great protagonist of the first demo.”

Steven Lipsticks is Stefano Rossetti of Bologna, Italy. His Magic Band is also Stefano Rossetti with a little help from his friends. Stefano writes the music and lyrics, and plays most of the instruments. We have been happy to previously feature a review of his first album, which included a great interview. And more recently his new single, “Opinions,” was a song of the day.

Recordings by Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band are available for streaming and download on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. And be sure to follow Steven Lipsticks and His Magic Band on Facebook, and YouTube.

Wormbag – Crop Duster

Wormbag – Crop Duster

I have seen post-grunge alt-folk country dream pop future and its name is Wormbag.

Those words were written by me in my January 2014 feature on Wormbag, a Portland band that barely scratched the surface of Obscurity before fading into Complete Oblivion. And while my feature was intended to be humorous, my admiration for Wormbag was legitimate. Looking back at all of the songs that have appeared in these pages, Wormbag’s “Crop Duster” is probably the one that I have listened to the most. I play “Crop Duster” in the car, in airports, on planes, while working. The question is…. FOR GOD’S SAKE WHY?

What is it about “Crop Duster” that makes it compelling? The song opens the way great rock songs are supposed to open: with massive chords and a memorable riff from guitarist/vocalist Nate (last name unknown). The guy can actually sing. On some songs he sounds like Elvis. Here, he’s letting his natural voice show and it’s pretty good.  I’m not exactly sure what he’s singing about, but I think it has something to do with destroying the environment and the end of Mankind.

If you’ve got no mud, well then you’ve got no trees
If you’ve got no trees, well then – pffft – you can’t breath

Up until those lines, the song could have been the work of a coffeehouse folkie. Swap the electric guitar for a banjo and the cargo shorts crowd would eat this stuff up. But when the drums engage around the one-minute mark, the song becomes a true anthem.

Wormbag described their genre as “poor rock.” Their most expensive piece of equipment was a $150 drum kit, and a December 2013 Facebook post bragged that they were finally able to get through a show without something breaking. And that’s about all that I know about Wormbag. The band went on hiatus sometime in 2015 and hasn’t posted anything on Facebook since late 2016 when they noted that their drummer, Ryan (last name unknown), was in a new project called Stagnant Slide. A recent Twitter search on “wormbag”  turned up no results about the band, but plenty about Donald Trump.

And that, as they say, is that. If anyone out there knows the current state of Wormbag, let me know. In the meanwhile, you might as well follow them on Facebook.

Wormbag has 5 songs available for free download on Reverb Nation, and 16 songs available for streaming on Soundcloud. Besides “Crop Duster,” I recommend “Death March” and “The Jackson Three.” You definitely need to check out the latter.

Bonus Video! Wormbag performing live at Burgerville. In a strange way that I don’t fully comprehend, this is a fascinating scene. I mean, who would not want to be doing this? This is rock-n-roll! HELL YEAH!

Nastos – F*cked Up

Nastos – F*cked Up

In “Fucked Up” we are asked, “Why do I always wanna get fucked up every night?” Well, that depends on your situation. You are probably self-medicating in reaction to unresolved personal issues, in which case you need to develop healthier coping mechanisms. Or you could be suffering from an extended period of psychosis. You should consult a mental health professional, who will probably prescribe massive doses of Seroquel supplemented by Abilify. Or it’s possible that you just like getting fucked up every night. If so, I guess you should just have at it. But don’t expect to hold down a job, or a relationship, for any meaningful length of time. OK, I’m glad we had this talk. What’s that? It was a rhetorical question? Oh. Well, never mind then…

“Fucked Up,” by Nastos, is an energetic swatch of dream pop full of echoey vocals and reverby guitars thrashing major chords. It’s one of those songs that you hear once and immediately hit the replay button. I especially like the half-shouted interjections in the third line of each verse. Listen for them.

Nastos, based in Milwaukee, is Nolan Truttschel (guitar and vocals), Andrea Hawthorne (bass and vocals), Michael Sambar (synths), and Aaron Truttschel (drums). “Fucked Up” is from their new 10-track album, Inherited Dreams. In a helpful Milwaukee Record review by Tyler Maas, we learned that the album’s release show will be held at Acme Records on Saturday, April 21 (Record Store Day), at 3 PM. If you’re in Milwaukee this weekend, be sure to catch the show.

You can support deserving independent musicians like Nastos by visiting their Bandcamp page, listening to their music, and downloading your favorite tracks. Besides “Fucked Up,” I recommend “Moron Boy” and “Ocelot.” And be sure to follow Nastos on Facebook. Act now and you can be among the first 50 people to “Like” them!

Golden Teardrops – You’re Keeping Me Waiting

Golden Teardrops – You’re Keeping Me Waiting

As my Grandmother always so poetically said, “There’s nothing wrong with a good pop song.” While some bands may shun my forebear’s ethos, Golden Teardrops embraces it, revels in it. Thus they deliver to us “You’re Keeping Me Waiting,” a sunny, unapologetic dollop of 60’s-infused pop.

“You’re Keeping Me Waiting” reveals snatches of The Association, Freddie and the Dreamers, Chicago… These guys are obviously serious students of retro-pop music (and, as Grandmother said, there’s nothing wrong with that). But it’s best not to play the Obscure Reference game; just sit back and enjoy the excellent music.

“You’re Keeping Me Waiting” is, I suppose, the B-side from Golden Teardrops’ new single, “For A Rainy Day.” But if you ask me (which nobody did but, on the other hand, this advice is free) “You’re Keeping Me Waiting” is the better song. While “For A Rainy Day” is more poppy, “You’re Keeping Me Waiting” is more soulful and will wear well over the long haul. I especially like the faux horns (I assume they are a keyboard) and the faux Hammond B-3 organ (surely no one actually hauls one of those dinosaurs around anymore).

Golden Teardrops are Ryan Marquez and Lei Marquez of Richmond, California. The duo is married, apparently ecstatically so judging from their music. Lei provides lead and harmony vocals, while Ryan plays guitar, bass, and keyboards. “You’re Keeping Me Waiting” and “For A Rainy Day” are from the 12-track album, Promises and Smiles, due for digital release May 23 on Emma’s House Records. You can pre-order the digital album on Bandcamp for the incredibly low price of only $3 (or more).

Be sure to follow Golden Teardrops on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

And to learn more about the many fine releases from Emma’s House Records, visit them on their website and on Bandcamp, and follow Emma’s House Records on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.