Friday, March 22, 2019

Loose Wing - Loose Wing

We suppose we could keep Loose Wing as our little Pacific Northwest secret, but that wouldn't be fair to our loyal readers (or the rest of you).  And it most certainly wouldn't be fair to Loose Wing, as the Seattle-based four piece has created a highly accomplished debut album.  Fronted by Claire Tucker, whose superb vocals have the clarity and tone of Neko Case, and the natural ache and nuanced delivery that sells the emotional content, the band has created nine gems of well-crafted, mid-tempo guitar pop.  They play with enough flair to properly decorate the songs, but with enough restraint to avoid showing off their considerable talent.

The lyrical content reflects a keen inner eye and sufficient detachment to tell the story in a relatable fashion.  For us, highlights are "Heather Army", "Learn Your Lines" (Claire's take on learning to play the role to make it in a male dominated industry, we think), "Moving Blankets", and "Wear Me Out".  But there are no weak songs, and while we think the band gels best on the more up-tempo songs, they always deliver.  Then again, Claire could probably sing the dumpling menu at Dough Zone and we'd ask for an encore.

Next weekend we will announce our favorite five or six albums for the first quarter of 2019.  Expect to see Loose Wing on the list.

In addition to Claire Tucker (guitar/vocals/keys), Loose Wing are Jack Peters (bass), Rusty Willoughby (drums), and Bill Patton (guitar/pedal steel).  Loose Wing is out now in vinyl and digital formats; see the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for album

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Julia Rakel - fEElz EP

On her debut EP fEELz, Julia Rakel perfectly captures the interior conversations of a young woman looking at the world.  The observations may not be her same observations in five years, or even next year.  But they are immediate and real.  The Swedish musician and producer has a critical eye and a knack for writing lyrics that are clever, but not slick, and honest, but not mean.  The arrangements are dreamy and varied and achieve a perfect balance between her vocals and the music.  Overall, the six tracks present our first look at a fresh and exciting talent, and fill our ears like sunshine on our faces on a spring day.

Credit Rama Lama Records, and emerging bright light on the Swedish music landscape, for recognizing this young talent and providing her with a platform.  fEELz is out now in digital and vinyl formats.

Bandcamp for fEELz EP
Soundcloud for fEELz EP
Various links to source EP

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Bubblegum Lemonade - Our Mother's House EP

To our way of thinking it has been too long, way too long, since Laz McCluskey, aka Bubblegum Lemonade, has released some new music.  Fortunately, Laz has resolved the matter before we had to have a word with him about the lack of production.  In fact, the Glasgow musician is making up for lost time with a new album titled Desperately Seeking Sunshine due for an April release via Matinee Recordings, and preceded by the three-track Our Mother's House EP.  The digital-only EP is a prequel of sorts, with the title track also doing dual duty as the first single from the album.  The two B-sides are only available on the EP however.

If you are a long-time reader you know what to expect -- sweet melodies, sharp hooks and plenty of jangle.  And Laz delivers what we expect every time.

And all three songs -

Bandcamp for Our Mother's House EP

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Vapour Trails - Godspeed It

In a musical context, the term 'vapour trails' may invoke British shoegaze aces Ride.  The name Aberdeen may remind listeners of the grunge movement, as Aberdeen, Washington was where Kurt Cobain grew up.  Well, forget all that.  The Vapour Trails are, indeed, not even based in that rainy town on the Pacific coast of Washington (despite my original post suggesting that they were).  Instead, they are based in Aberdeen Scotland (the site of The Blood Road, a novel I happen to be reading at this very moment).  However, their musical creations are neither shoegaze nor grunge, but rather that WYMA staple -- jangle pop.  And not only do they jangle, but they are generously inclined, as evidenced by the 'name your price' availability of the three-song Godspeed It.  Jangle and harmony's and a good rocking vibe, like it was created just for us in a laboratory!

The Vapour Trails are Scott Robertson (lead guitar/vocals), Nicholas Mackie (vocals/rhythm guitar), Kev Robertson (vocals/rhythm guitar), Andrew Crossan (bass), and Kenny Munro (drums/percussion).


"Sanity" by Nick Murphy (Chet Faker)

We are looking forward to Run Fast Sleep Naked, the new album from Australia's Nick Murphy (aka Chet Faker) which will be out on April 25 via Future Classic.  But that is soooooo far away, that we needed an immediate dose of electro pop goodness from the man.  And the man has delivered with the single release of album track "Sanity".  This song is so delicious, we want to eat it.  And that may be the opposite of real sanity, but we really can't help it.

Various links to source "Sanity"

Monday, March 18, 2019

Half Japanese - Invincible

Long running Philadelphia band Half Japanese has dropped their fifth album, and we think it is a good one.  Injecting a good bit more melody and structure into their trademark noise generation machine, Invincible lives up to its name in hinting that Half Japanese can, and should, continue their rock and roll production indefinitely.  Of course, Jad Fair still is Jad Fair, so the lyrical themes include horror movies and romance, all a bit free-wheeling and off kilter to be sure, but that just makes it more entertaining.  A sublime merger of the primitive and pop songcraft -- enjoy!

For Invincible, Half Japanese are Jad Fair, John Sluggett, Gilles-Vincent Rieder, Jason Willett, and Mick Hobbs.  The album is out now in vinyl, CD, and digital formats via Fire Records.

Bandcamp for Invincible
Fire Records page for Half Japanese

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Howe Gelb - Gathered

You just rolled into town after a long day of driving in the American southwest.  Check into the hotel and ask where to get a good meal without getting too fancy, and some music would be a plus.  They direct you to the tavern next door.  The menu is just what you need, and you notice musicians setting up at a stage at the end of the room.  It looks like they will start soon, and you hope that they play what you want, as your day hasn't left you in the mood for hard rock or modern country with the excessive twang and obligatory references to 4x4s and flags.  Then they begin, and the tension of the long drive leaves your shoulders, your fatigue evaporates, and you order another beer.  Because what you are hearing is just what you needed.  Subdued, jazzy arrangements with a lot of piano and acoustic guitar, and lyrics focusing on romance and reflection.  A lead singer with a warm baritone named Howe Gelb and a host of talented guest vocalists.  You are told that most songs are original creations, but the set list includes Lenard Cohen's "A Thousand Kisses" (a duet with M. Ward) and my new favorite version of "Blue Moon", voiced by Howe's daughter Talula.

It is all over too soon, but you wander to the merch table and discover that the material is available on a 15-track album titled Gathered, which is out now via Fire Records.  You recall now that Howe Gelb has been working the stage at roots rocker Giant Sand with various mates over the years, but that his solo recordings are more in line with the late night, low key material on Gathered, and they are justifiably expanding his fan base.  You head to bed feeling relaxed, peaceful, and very fortunate.  And for tomorrow's drive, you have your road music.

[Note: Certain liberties with respect time, space and reality were taken in drafting this post, but only with the best intentions and with the approval of our legal department.]

Bandcamp for Gathered
Fire Records page for Howe Gelb

Monday, March 11, 2019

Seafog - Animal Lovers

Our most recent post focused on the melodic side of jangle pop, but to end our day we will direct your ears to a band we have covered before:  Robin Sharma's Seafog.  The New Zealanders have released the double LP Animal Lovers, offering 16 tracks that explore the fuzzed, aggressive side of jangle.  This is music for a rainy, windy, storm-driven coast.  Loud, and hot to the touch, this is music for those who love rock music.  Check out three tracks below, and then get lost in Animal Lovers at the Bandcamp link.

Bandcamp for Animal Lovers
Zelle Records page for Animal Lovers

I Was A King - Slow Century

Of course, all regular readers of this blog know that power pop and jangle pop are two of our major musical food groups.  So it should come as no surprise that when we heard that the wonderful Norwegian band I Was A King had enlisted Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake to produce their new album, we put the album at the top of our priority list.  We are happy to report that our faith and instincts were rewarded -- Slow Century is an absolute delight from beginning to end.  The sound is more pop than some of their other albums (other than their 2013 album which also was produced by Blake), and it is perfection to our ears.  The hooks and guitars fit comfortably in a channel that includes Big Star, The Byrds, and Teenage Fanclub, but the affecting combined vocals of Frod Stromstad and Anne Lise Frokedal provide a distinctive element that makes the songs all the more memorable.  Ole Reidar Gudmestad and Arne K. Mathisen comprise the able rhythm section, and Half Japanese's Jad Fair contributes guitar to standout track 'Hatchet".  The result is one of our top albums of the first quarter of 2019.

Bandcamp for Slow Century