Friday Morning Music Non-Shuffle & Shuffle – Toys Mix Pt. 4 of ?

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If you haven’t done so, remember, Play With Your Toys – the new album by The End Men is now available for immediate download.  Get it NOW!

Now, we left you hanging on a Wrong Way Street… so, let’s bring this sucker home:

First off if you’re late to the party, here’s what you need to know:

tracks: Cleaning Your Mind, Run Away and Long Way to the Ground

tracks: Into the Mines, Play with Your Toys Pt. I and The Ballad of Billy Polk
tracks: It’s All Wrong, Mental Trapeze, Play With Your Toys Pt. II and Wrong Way Street
Toys Mix Pt. 4 of ? begins after the jump:

Track 11: Stack Chips. After taking us to the dizzyingest of heights and then dropping us into the mines, after swinging us on a mental trapeze and leading us down a wrong way street. After setting the blues rock (and rock/rock) bar about as high as it can go, after pulling out all the stops and all the toys… after all that and more… The End Men up and leave us with one of the most brutally lovely songs on the album. The song is a not so gentle reminder of the temporary nature of things like wealth and privilege and indeed life itself.  

So… the question is, is this the end of  this multi-part review? And if it is the end, why did I leave that ‘?’ at the end of the post title?  Well, we’ve written about all 11 tracks on the album, and when we get back to our morning walk on Tuesday, we will be going back to the usual shuffle.  So maybe this is the end.  Maybe we should’ve named this Toys Mix Pt. 4 of 4. Maybe? or…. (to be continued?  You bet)

*Bloggers note:  Among the many great things about writing is a blog (besides the free stuff which is cool) are the amazing people I have met along the way. At or near the top of that list are Matthew Hendershot and Livia Ranalli.  I alluded to this in a previous post, but I’ll just flat out say, that what I see in them is a true generosity of spirit which I find very refreshing.  Nevermind that they are crazy talented (mind you they are), but they are really awesome people who go out of their way to support their fellow musicians and even us lowly bloggers.  They even included me with a “Thanks” in the liner notes of Play With Your Toys (which is totally awesome and which I didn’t know before I started on this multi-part review).  I’ll stop with the sentimental (but honestly true) crap…  bottom line. Play With Your Toys is a truly great album.  I know there are tons of people who will fall in love with this band and this music they way I did, and I know that way too many will not take the time to listen.  So, I will keep shouting from the rooftops.

Meanwhile, there is a whole slew of cool music being made.  So, we will get back to the regular shuffle.  I also have accumulated a pile of music news which I will be disseminating soon: New Albums, Tours, Bands breaking up and changing names, awards and honors and all sorts of stuff you may have missed.

So… Stack Chips took up a little over half of my walk in this morning, and so I fired up the shuffle mode and skipped around a bit until I came across two songs worthy of closing out this chapter of Ear to the Ground.  Here is the limited (semi-random) shuffle from this morning: 

How about Brenda Lee’s 1959 single Sweet Nothin’s which was included on her second (self-titled album) in 1960?  The album also produced Lee’s best known song, I’m Sorry.

And then, well, what can I say? We have The Reverend Horton Heat with Drinkin’ and Smokin’ Cigarettes, the lead track from their tenth studio album 2009’s Laughin’ & Cryin’ with The Reverend Horton Heat Widgets


Thursday Morning Music Non-Shuffle – Toys Mix Pt. 3 of ?

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Guess what?  It’s Valentine’s Day which means it is February 14 which means Play With Your Toys has officially been released.  Now is the time to go grab it.  Actually, we will have the widget at the end of this part of our multi-post review. 

Let’s get right to Part 3…  When we left off, we had heard the tale of Billy Polk…  Wait for the Jump then continue reading…

Track 7: It’s All Wrong is a bone-rattling hard rocking song. It’s prototypical The End Men. “What makes the difference between a dream and a premonition?” Insanely wicked rhythms, loud guitars and Matthew Hendershot’s gloriously gravelly vocals.  Yep, the song may be called It’s All Wrong, but everything about this song is just right.  Yes, I did that!
Track 8: Mental Trapeze could possibly be everything that makes this such a great album distilled into one heavy blues inspired track. Matthew and Livia do not hold back on this one. All toys are employed to great effect, and although I’m sure it’s not the first track she sings on, it’s the first track where I noticed the way their vocals work so perfectly together. As the title suggests this is a wild ride not for the faint of heart.  Word to the wise, before you toss those brownies in the trash, that may not be a fungus which seems to have sprung from the chocolate glaze. There are some amazing blues riffs on this track, but it soars through the stratosphere with the greatest of ease and reaches some dizzying heights. 
Track 9: Play With Your Toys Pt. II brings more toys into the mix and creates an eerily beautiful tableau in just 1:30.
Track 10: Wrong Way Street in the words of my friend Joe Calloway, a world-renown speaker and a guy who has forgotten more musical history than I’ve ever known,“”Wrong Way Street” is stupid good!! This completely rocks.” But, you already knew that didn’t you? In retrospect, this was a great choice as the first release from the album.  It rocks and it’s filled with some amazing hooks.   
Well, well, well… we have just one Track left to preview/review… Stacked Chips is 7:18 and should take up much of my morning walk tomorrow. But…
Now is the time.  Grab hold of your mouse or poise your fingers on your touch pad and prepare to experience first hand the awesomeness that my words have inadequately tried to convey…  The End Men – Play With Your Toys!


Wednesday Morning Music Non-Shuffle – Toys Mix Pt. 2 of ?

This is part 2 of my multi-part (how many parts? I just can’t say) review of Play With Your Toys the new album from Brookyln-based The End Men.  Before you proceed, you may want to catch up… Here’s the link to Part I. When we left off, The End Men had taken us to dizzying heights of what two people recording in a flat in Brooklyn can accomplish musically – all the while warning us that it’s a Long Way to the Ground.  As we rejoin the adventure, we find ourselves on the ground, and while it’s true that “You have to hit rock bottom before you can build yourself up”; sometimes when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, there is no where to go but down… 

Track 4: Into the Mines begins with a lilting melody and a tale of… what? Prisoners, trapped miners? We aren’t sure, but the sweet melody and Matthew Hendershot’s gruffly pleasing voice lures of to following him down in spite of ourselves.  By the time we realize that our tour guide may be a bit deranged, it’s much too late to turn back… and truth be told, we have no desire to turn back. 

Track 5: Play With You Toys Pt. I is a lovely instrumental with an old world flavor. One begins to see that Matthew and Livia’s toys are whatever they can find that makes noise, and what glorious noise they make.  I have no idea what all Livia uses for her “drum kit” – I’d guess it is everything but the kitchen sink, and I wouldn’t rule out that either.

Track 6: The Ballad of Billy Polk in the classic sense of the ballad tells the tale of young Billy Polk and a fateful decision.  It is perhaps a cautionary tale – I’ll let you decide. Musically, it is a heavy rock/blues song. 

So, we are just over halfway through our the album. Tomorrow, is when the album drops. Head over to The End Men’s Bandcamp site tomorrow and purchase your copy.  

Join us tomorrow for Part 3 of our review…. The next track is called It’s All Wrong (spoiler alert: It is all right!.

btw, I missed posting this yesterday, but here is a version of the album’s second song Run Away which was recorded for last year’s Couch by Couchwest festival.

And if you haven’t be sure to pick up Wrong Way Street, the first taste from the new album now….

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Tuesday Morning Music Non-Shuffle – Toys Mix Pt. 1 of ?

The first time I wrote about The End Men – a little over a year ago – I said something like, The End Men demand our full attention. And what was true then, is even more true now as they prepare to release their brand new album Play With Your Toys on Valentine’s Day, February 14.  The album was recorded over the last year in a Brooklyn flat.

This Brooklyn duo: Kansas born Matthew Hendershot and Italian born Livia Ranalli make some of the most unique and interesting music you’ve ever heard.   Their EP Build it Up is an exercise in Blues-based Indie Rock done about as well as it can be done, and I’ll be honest, if this album was just more of the same, I would be satisfied, but… well, you shall see… you shall see…

So, yes, The End Men demand our full attention and to that end, I have decided to devote a few days to this incredible new album.  Shall we begin – after the JUMP?

Track 1: Cleaning Your Mind serves as an introduction to the album.  It is an invitation, it is an instruction, it is a summons.  The chant – cleaning your mind, and the carny barker spoken word foreshadow and let you know that you need to leave your expectations at the door.  “It is important that you know, what you are about to see is only a show.”  This introduction promises adventure. And, echoing Hendershot’s word, this is something you do not want to miss.  So clean your mind, open your mind and let’s get this adventure started.

Track 2: Run Away kicks things off with Livia’s amazing drumming (she is known for using anything and everything to make amazing and glorious noises).  Hendershot’s guitar playing is extraordinary and the song is propulsive rock. His vocals are often compared favorable to Tom Waits – they are like an impossible blend of sandpaper and silk. This song rocks hard and seems to tear the listener away from their world into this new alien landscape. 

Track 3: Long Way To The Ground returns to a more familiar blues-rock paradigm while the lyrics are elevated to new heights (appropriately enough). “You have to hit rock bottom before you can build yourself up.” is straight up the harsh truth of life. Musically, the blues riffs are augmented… as I’ve said before, I’m not a musician so I won’t even pretend to know exactly what they are doing here – just that it works amazingly well…

When we come back, prepare for a descent Into the Mines.  The adventure is just getting started, you don’t want to be left behind.

If you are intrigued, you can download the first taste – a song called Wrong Way Street using the widget below:


Play With Your Toys drops in two days (2/14/2013).  Bookmark their Bandcamp site: HEREIn fact go ahead and go there and pick up Build It Up now.


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Thursday Morning Music Non-Shuffle – Devil’s Rope Mix

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Well, the mailbox and inbox are filling up with tons of cool new music.  So, I’ll jump in with the second ever non-shuffle album review….

See what’s up with Tim Lee 3 and their forthcoming new album Devil’s Rope after the jump…


Tim Lee 3 are from Knoxville, Tennessee.  Devil’s Rope is the follow up to their 2010 Double Album Raucous Americanus.  They play music and eat Barbeque, and I was first introduced to their music via Couch by Couchwest. I liked what I heard so much that I made them a featured artist last year some time.  Tim Lee 3 are Tim Lee (guitars and vox), Susan Bauer Lee (bass and vox) and Chris Bratta (drums).  

Recently, I got my grubby little hands on Devil’s Rope, and now I intend to tell you why you ought to buy it when it is released on February 28 (you can pre-order for another day and a half will have the link below).

Based upon their Facebook profile, Tim Lee 3 do not care much for labels, and they prefer to let their music speak for itself. And it does speak – loud and clear.

Signals:  When this song hit my headphones, I was hooked. Out of the  noise of a revving engine and the squeal of feedback drenched guitar a song emerges. “Fast cars and loud guitars” Susan Bauer Lee has a great rock ‘n roll voice – drawling the lyrics which paint an all too familiar tableau for someone like me who grew up in smaller town in the South.  “Local bars and going too far.”  I found myself thinking this is what rock music is supposed to be. It evokes sense memories without a hint of empty nostalgia.

Devil’s Rope: Muscially, this trio is tight. This shows up the title track, a nifty rocker that opens with an awesome bass line. I find myself nodding my head as I listen to this. The blues are slathered over this song like BBQ sauce on a slab of ribs. Tim Lee’s vocals are just rough enough for the music.

Jet Boys: A slow burner.  The song speaks to the hopelessness of a dead-end town “Nobody ever dreams in this town…” ” The Jet Boys in their funny cars” offer a glimpse of what is possible if while knowing it is a fleeting thing.  

You’re Not There:   Susan and Tim trade-off on lead vocals, but for me the real magic happens when they sing together.  I keep thinking about John and Exene… You’re Not There is a mid-tempo rocker filled with a sense of loss and desertion.

Alibi: A tender country-flavored song with some amazing hooks and for which Susan’s unique vocals are a perfect fit.

Monkey Dance: You know hear fun rave-ups like this much anymore, which makes this song all the more welcome. “Well we burst on the scene and we thought we were the shit…” It’s the kind of song that makes you move your feet and smile in spite of yourself. 

Cut-Rate Divorce: By this point, about mid-way through the album, I had figured out that Tim Lee 3 were no one-trick ponies. Cut-Rate Divorce opens with a menacing bass line.  The layered guitar/feedback and drums kick in and this could almost be Nirvana.  The vocals strike a familiar chord that I can’t place, but I again hear echos of X when Susan and Tim sing together. “No blame assigned, no questions asked”

Halo Days (4 ‘Drew):  Set at a funeral, a gorgeous, heart-wrenching song. By now, I know that Tim Lee 3 knows how to lay down a killer hook, and this song has one of the best I’ve heard in a long while. I think this band’s musical well-spring is stocked with a lot of the music to which I came of age. What they do with those inspirations is what sets this band apart.

Judging You: Hell yes.  I just plain love everything about this song. “well maybe I shouldn’t be judging you, but that don’t mean that it ain’t true.”  

Open the Door: Did I say great hooks?  Another great song. “Everything is good these days, but all of my friends are dying…”

Weird Weather: Speaks to climate change of a different kind. 

Says Baby Strange: Glorious hard rock.  More head nodding – involuntary.

Any Day Now: An insistent and powerful song to close out the set.  

So… Mark you calendars for February 28th and pick up Devil’s Rope at your favorite music selling establishment… OR… you still have time to get a pre-order in… Tim Lee 3 are offering some cool perks at different spending levels and some proceeds are going to Belly Rubs Basset Rescue.  Use widget below to reserve your copy and maybe have Tim Lee cook some BBQ for you.


Sealight – Dead Letters EP – An Ear to the Ground Review

The art of found or uncovered or discovered or recovered things has long held my interest. Someday, I’ll tell you all about my Found Object Collections and my theory about cryptic messages found on Post-It Notes along the sidewalk. Someday. But, today, we are talking about Dead Letters the debut EP by Sealight a band who come from France by way of Australia. Dead Letters – in these case are stories of lives long since ended. Missives meant to be from one to another – intimate or mundane, simple or complex, layed with many meanings or direct and to the point.


According to the band, “the lyrical content of the EP draws upon a collection of letters and texts surrounding the lives of the group’s families in France and Australia. Fragments of conversations, responses and reactions are incorporated throughout the five songs; reliving, retracing and reflecting upon events, relationships and the lives of the correspondents.”  – Before I’d even listened to the EP, I was in love with the concept.


The cover of  the CD is gray and to me suggests cold – and there is a single brown (dead?) leaf.


I had heard a bit of Sealight’s music before (they were a Band of the Week), and so I had some idea what to expect from Dead Letters. As a whole (and very generally), the music (to me) suggests a rocky shoreline on a cold gray day with icy spray bubbling up over the jagged rocks. The music is lovely and cold and haunting.


Dead Letters features a dynamic mix of acoustic and electronic sounds. The blending of these sounds works well.  At times, Sandra Rossini’s beautiful voice seems as though it is just another part of the layers of sound. By no means is this a bad thing.


This is music to curl up by a fire while cold rain and wind beats against a bay window which looks out upon the aforementioned rocky shoreline. It’s music curl up with a lover with – a complicated relationship made simple by the shared warmth of the moment.


The Songs: 


Dead Letters: The first and title track begins slowly and quietly until the vocals come in and then the song soars. The vocals are beautiful and haunting. Rebecca Stout was the singer with a Nashville band from the late 80s/early 90s called the Shakers. Sandra Rossini’s vocals bring that band to mind for me, though the music is much different. I found myself just becoming lost in the sounds of this track.


White Walk: This track starts with an acoustic guitar and this time the vocals seem more up-front. The vocals are highly evocative and I found myself transported to a different place in a different time. Synths are used sparingly and to great effect here. At around the 3:00 minute mark, the song picks up intensity as new layers come into the mix and it creates a wall of sound which suggests the winds of an approaching but not unwelcomed storm.


When the Rain Starts: More acoustic guitars to begin the third song on the EP. A trumpet and echoing vocals. “I feel so much better now.” Could be a simple statement of truth or an affirmation. I remember times when rain is a welcome relief  – come to wash away dirt or trouble or sin – all the bad stuff. And, I find myself thinking, ‘I do feel so much better now.”


The Moon: The one begins with one long sustained note from a synth perhaps. And then a gentle acoustic guitar. I’m thinking about the earth’s moon, and it’s real and mythological powers. The vocals are dream-like and then a powerful ringing guitar sound. Again the song brings me to the sea and I am reminded that the moon controls the tides.


La Nieve Del Tiempo:  The title of the EPs final song means Snow Time or Time of Snow. A strumming guitar and beautiful voice – it’s a slow song, but I am drawn into it, and I just want to luxuriate in the sounds – and return to my spot by the fire with my lover after watching snow falling on the rocky shoreline.


 Sealight is:

 Sandra Rossini – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Concertina

Dave Olliffe – Guitars, Synthesizers, Drones

Marc-Aurele Ngo Xuan – Drums and Drum Machines

 Also featuring Stephane Pigneul – Bass, Synthesizer


The EP is out on Commission 45, and is only the second release on the Parisian label.  

The band is playing some dates in France right now, and will launch a European tour in 2012.


Connect with the band at:,, and 


Contact the band at , contact Commission 45 at