Thursday, May 28, 2015
DMA's are the new, and in my opinion, worthy edition to our list of dramatic rock/pop songsters. The young Australian band's introduction to US audiences occurred this month via the six-song self-titled EP on the Mom + Pop label. With three skilled songwriters, a feel for the Manchester sounds of Oasis and The Stone Roses, and evocative vocals, Tommy O'Dell, Matt Mason and Johnny Took have a sound that has an undeniable appeal. Tracks "Laced" and "So We Know" have received the most press, but I'm of the opinion that early single "Delete" is the best performance of the set. DMA's know how to translate indie pop aesthetics to the big arena, and they deliver it with style.
Mom + Pop
We featured a single from UK indie pop band Seabirds a few years ago, but hadn't heard from them again. We don't need to wonder what they've been up to any longer, as they will be releasing debut album Meet Me In The Silence later this year via Matinee Recordings. You can have your first taste with "Independent Horses". A smashing up-tempo tune with ringing guitars, it leaves no doubt that this album will be a big pleaser for indie pop fans.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
I do love peanut butter. I'm also quite fond of Peanut Butter, the second LP from Welsh band Joanna Gruesome. And with its release, we finally, we have answers for the pressing questions of the day: Are JG still a good pop band? Are they still adept noisemakers? Are they having a sophomore slump? Is Joanna still Gruesome? The answers, for those keeping score, are "yes", "yes", "no", and "what?"
Joanna Gruesome's reputation is built on their fiery blend of punky noise pop, spiky post-punk and syrupy pop music, often all in the same track. And as it worked so well before, we were happy to see that the band found no reason to abandon their core competency. If one wants to track changes, one might note that the songs are a bit tighter and more economical, and perhaps each element is punched up a bit. The latter aspect, with the pop sweeter and the noise, well, noisier, perhaps doesn't seem like the most obvious path as it makes the sound a bit rawer. Personally, I think it is genius. Rather than a blend of Joanna Gruesome's noted features -- which would have been the safe choice to offer their fan base -- we have ten songs that jump out of the speakers, get in your face and say "this is what Joanna Gruesome is, love it or leave it". And while you are thinking about that image, they go to the kitchen and drink your last beer.
So yes, this Peanut Butter comes in rich layers of crunchy and creamy styles with pockets of jam. Our serving suggestion is loud with plenty of liquid bread. It may become your go-to after work meal.
Peanut Butter is out now via Fortuna POP! in the UK, Slumberland Records in the US, ant Turnstile Music everywhere else.
Some bands are so good that we happily play their demos. You think we're kidding? Cast your eyes below to the clip for "Cry At Your Leisure" from Skittle Alley. Yes, it clearly is marked "demo", and it isn't the first demo from France's Skittle Alley that has featured on these pages. This one is a lovely song with chiming guitars and achingly sweet vocals. You'll find more to love at the Soundcloud link at the bottom of this post. Our prior posts for Skittle Alley are here and here.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Here is one of my favorite videos of the year so far, for "Dead Fox". one of my favorite songs from the stellar Courtney Barnett debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (our review here). Courtney mulls over the worth of organic vegetables, the dangers of highway driving (for humans and animals) and mortality. The artists put it all on the screen vividly, and graphically.
The pace and tone changes beginning with the fifth track, "Been Loved", a nuanced balled and, for my money, the best quiet moment on the album. It also provides the transition to the six linked coming of age pieces that comprise the remainder of MCIII. "(i) Alone" is one half whisper and one half noise pop; at the moment, I prefer the latter. "(ii) Gold" combines power pop and garage in a fashion similar to Cronin's work with his old partner Ty Segall to highly satisfying effect. And just as I was putting a "+" in my notes for the preceding track, "(iii) Control" jangles in to steal my heart; that one could be a single as well. A more garagey version of power pop is on offer with "(iv) Ready", again recalling Cronin's earlier San Franciso days. "(v) Different" brings back the strings for a languid ballad. The closing "(vi) Circle" is a fitting closer, combining mid-tempo jangle pop with reflective lyrics and piano.
MCIII is a very satisfying album from a songwriter and musician who is accomplished by still growing. This is one of the highlights of his journey.
MCIII is out now via Merge Records in digital, CD, cassette and vinyl formats.
Merge Records page for MCIII
Monday, May 25, 2015
Merge Records page for Beat the Champ
Sunday, May 24, 2015
The song has just the right combination of musical chops and just-about-to-fall-apart chaos. And you can feel the fun floating in the airwaves.
West Thebarton Brothel Party are Ray Dalfsen, Josh Battersby, Josh Healey, Tom Gordon, Wil Spooner-Adey, Al Christophel, Brian Bolado, and Nick Horvat.
Friday, May 22, 2015
There is so much to like here -- the name, the sub-genre, and most of all, the songs. The name is Andrew R. Burns & The Tropicanas, hailing from that well known tropical hot spot, Livington, Scotland. We've heard three of the quartet previously in their guise as alansmithee, but sometimes a change in perspective is needed, and so, with an additional member, they are Andrew R. Burns & The Tropicanas. As for the genre, the lads call it "dreamslop". You might call it a blend of dream pop and reverby lo-fi, played with a certain
Now for the songs in their debut record, Dreamslop EP. The three tracks combine exactly the right elements of old and new, and massage my ears like the most skilled courtesan from ancient Rome (there is a bit of license here as even I am not old enough to have been of legal age in ancient Rome). "Coming Back Down To Erf" begins with thumping percussion, then adds exuberant instrumentation and crooning vocals. Does the reference to error function in the title have a connection with the repeated chorus? I don't know or care -- it is a terrific song. "Stinking Ship" has a sweetly voiced vocal over a shuffling, '60s flavored rhythm and sunny melody. The final song, "Slackjaw (Sdfk)" is simultaneously wonderful and frustrating. Wonderful, because it has the most appealing melody of the lot, and a cool vocal that sounds like lead singer for The Lettermen finally broke down and smoked some good weed. Frustrating because it abruptly ends at the 1:43 mark, just as it was building. Hey, Tropicanas, you owe me one half of a song! The proceedings are all a bit woozy and deliberately damaged, but the frayed edges can't obscure that talent and quality.
We have the video for the lead track here, and a Soundcloud embed for the entire EP. So dive in and enjoy the dreamy slop. It is great stuff, and if moved to own it, hit the Bandcamp link.
The band is Andrew R. Burns, Joe Murty, Ruaridh Macpherson, and Joe White. They are releasing Dreamslop EP at the end of the month via Glasgow label Flowers In The Dustbin.
Bandcamp for EP
Flowers In The Dustbin
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Cats of Transnistria are Tuomas Alatalo and Henna Emilia Hietamaki. The Helsinki, Finland duo makes dark and dreamy atmospheric pop. Their debut record, an EP titled Away for Helsinki label Soliti Music, was released in January. The band's multi-faceted compositions balance experimental and gentle elements that easily hold the listener's interest. I highly recommend that you stream all four songs of the EP at the Bandcamp link below. But first watch the enchanting video for EP track "The Departure".
Bandcamp for Away EP
Soliti Music page for Away EP