My, What Cute Lepers

Okay, well, this band hasn’t grabbed hold of my love handles like the Hawaii Mud Bombers, but the Cute Lepers (besides the catchy moniker) lay down a nice brand of retro pop-punk. Their debut album for their new label, Blackheart Records, just came out, and they’re in the midst of a tour across this great land of ours.

“Terminal Boredom” is their first single from the album. The affectations of lead singer Steve E. Nix – yeah, I said it – may remind you of Green Day’s Billie Joe. And if you’re like me, the verses will most certainly remind you of the Clash’s “Safe European Home” (which I listened to very loudly in the shower this morning – TMI? Perhaps).

Do you like? Do you hate? Is it crappy, is it great? You tell me. The comments have been a tad dead lately. Liven up the joint.

By the way, the band photo up there? The one on the left? Hands off. She’s mine.

Cute LepersTerminal Boredom (mp3) [thanks to Shorefire for clearing the mp3 with the label. I’m too legit to quit!]

Links: Official Site | MySpace | Buy Can’t Stand Modern Music

New Wendy & Lisa: Balloon

Prince may have dropped Wendy & Lisa from the band back in the 80’s, but the ladies certainly never hung it up and called it a day. They’ve released a number of well received albums over the years, and contributed to film and television scores (e.g. Heroes).

Late this week, Wendy & Lisa announced a new album, White Flags of Winter Chimneys. Along with the news comes the lead track available for download on their website and their MySpace. The song is called “Balloon”, an atmospheric, gently haunting tune. Check out the stream here, then go over to W&L’s place to download.

Wendy & Lisa – “Balloon”

Wendy & Lisa Links: Official Site | MySpace

Review: George Michael in Phoenix, June 22

You know what’s entertaining to me? The looks I got from people over the last couple of months – some of them close friends of mine – when they found out I was going to see George Michael in concert. Say what you will friends, but like a lot of people, George’s music has been a part of my life for over 20 years.

Thinking back, I was never a huge fan of the Wham! stuff. It wasn’t until 1987, when George released Faith, that I would call myself a fan. Four words reeled me in: I – Want – Your – Sex.

Levi Goes *Pop*

I was recently implored to check out Pop Levi, whose music was described to me as “Bowie meets Prince.” Ummm…sign me up!

Only a year after his first full length, The Return to Form Black Magick Party, Liverpool’s own Levi Pop is set to release a follow up this summer, titled Never Never Love. Surprisingly, the Bowie meets Prince descriptor is somewhat accurate, although there’s a good helping of electro pop thrown in as well. It also reminded me a bit of what I’ve heard from Alan Wilkis.

I’ve listened to the album a few times now, and continue to enjoy it more with each listen, particularly the dance-oriented tracks. Here are two of my favorites:

Pop Levi – “Wannamama”

And the video for the title track, Never Never Love:

Never Never Love is slated for a July 15 release, but it appears that it will only be available as an import for now. But keep an eye out – I’m sure a US release (digital or physical) will follow.

Levi Pop (MySpace)

Jon Regen: Live!

Don't Live a Little, Live a Jon Regen.

Maestro (and all around nice guy) Jon Regen checked in from the road with an outstanding live recording of his single “Let It Go” from the record of the same name (which you may recall got a good bit of spin time here at Ickmusic East). Recorded in Vienna, Austria it features Jon in a trio setting burning up the keys. Jon has a couple more dates lined up in Italy and will be visiting the UK in September. Hopefully he’ll have a few US dates in there as well.

Jon RegenLet It Go (live) (MP3)

Tour Dates:

July 19: Griziane Festival – Griziane, Italy
July 20-28: La Ghironda Festival – Puglia, Italy
September 25-27: Pizza Express Jazz Club – London, UK

Buy Let It Go: CDBaby | iTunes

Links: Official Site | on Last.fm | on MySpace

New Tunes: Junior Pantherz

My completely random dip into the Inbox tonight yielded a pretty catchy tune. The group is Junior Pantherz, and though the name elicits images of a junior varsity high school basketball team, or a football team of little kids – you know, the kind that Snoop Dogg coaches – you can’t deny a good pop song when you hear one.

The Pantherz hail from the great white north, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Their 6th album, Rejoice, Remain, will be released on May 27th (though it’s currently available on iTunes). The band is made up of Terry Mattson (guitars/vocals), S.J. Kardash (bass/vocals), Maygen Kardash (keys, trumpet, vocals) and last but definitely not least, Arnold Van Lambalgen II on drums. The best drummer name since Bun E. Carlos, if you ask me.

Junior PantherzOn and Off (mp3)

Buy Rejoice, Remain on Junior Pantherz - Rejoice, Remain

Website: Junior Pantherz.com

Jon Regen – Let it Go

Regen Just Feels Right.

Photo: Merri Cyr

Sometimes an album just hits the mark. Let it Go is one of those records. There is something to it that just feels like home. I’ve spent two weeks soaking up the tracks, something that as Pete pointed out in a recent post is sometimes hard to do with all the music we listen to. Jon Regen has taken on the singer/songwriter genre from a point of view not often seen. The New Jersey native has a Jazz pedigree but the heart of a pop songwriter with the ability to make words and music move your heart through the arc of a relationship’s highs and lows.

From the first notes of the opening title track through to aptly titled “The Last Song” there is no emotional stone left unturned. I really struggled with what tunes to share with you all as there are no duds here. I choose the heartfelt “Better Days” and the beautiful “Finding My Way Back to Me”. Check these out and pick up the record at the links below so you can tell all your friends that you were listening to this guy before he hit it big.

*Note: I’ve reloaded the audio files and they should be working now. My apologies to those who have tried to listen.

Jon RegenBetter Days (MP3)

Jon RegenFinding My Way Back to Me (MP3)

Buy Let It Go: CDBaby | iTunes

Links: Official Site | on Last.fm | on MySpace

First Listen: Kensington Prairie

Hungry? Why Wait? Grab a Kensington Prairie.

The perfect compliment to a cold and rainy day in New England, the debut record from Canada’s Kensington Prairie is one of the finest slices of Dream Pop I’ve heard since The Sundays Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. The heart and soul of the group is Rebecca Rowan (singer/songwriter of Vancouver’s Maplewood Lane) whose voice drifts gently over the lush layers of guitars, mandolins and Rhodes pianos. Simple and emotional the songwriting is first rate with themes of life’s recollections, love, yearning, and lonesomeness. The record opens with the nostalgia of “Time on Our Side” and makes its way through nine thriving tracks fading with the closing track “Dissappear From View” leaving you wanting more.

The full length debut Captured in Still Life will be released April 22nd. For now check out the lead off single “Crooked Things Straight”. There are a few more tracks available for preview at the group’s official site (including my personal favorite “Letters That I Send”).

Kensington Prairie - Captured in Still Life

Kensington Prairie – Crooked Things Straight (MP3)

Links: Official Site | on MySpace

Seeing George Michael

I’m going to see George Michael in concert. In June.

There, I said it! Say what you will, brothers and sisters, but George’s music has always connected with me. I’m a sucker for his voice, the great melodies he puts together, and dammit, I’m not afraid to share it with the world! Actually, that shouldn’t surprise any of you who have spent any amount of time here.

I count Faith and Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 as two of my favorites. “Kissing a Fool“, “Father Figure“, “Freedom 90“, “Waiting for the Day“…. and as a Prince fan, “I Want Your Sex” has always ranked high in my Raunchy & Funky Hall of Fame.

But if I had to pick one George Michael song for my desert island iPod, I ‘d pick “A Different Corner”, from Wham’s third and final album, Music from the Edge of Heaven. Sublime, beautiful, filled with aching & longing. If you write ol’ George off for any reason, maybe you should take his advice, open your mind, and “listen without prejudice.”

Take some time and watch this great live performance of “A Different Corner”: