Friday, July 10, 2015

EZTV - Calling Out


Brooklyn's trio known as EZTV has crafted a wonderful debut offering in Calling Out.  Its 12 songs will variously recall mid-'60s guitar pop, '80s-'90s college rock and, at times, Laurel Canyon, but it all blends together seamlessly.  To my ears, there is a strong vein of The Teenage Fanclub in the melodies and harmonies, and that can never, ever be a bad thing.  But the band doesn't adhere to any strict template, and this album features robust bass and adventuresome guitar lines.  It is a sound that is a perfect fit for hometown label Captured Tracks, so quite naturally, CT is releasing the album.

New music comes so quickly that I most often have to put an album aside after I write about it in order to cover the next worthy.  But that isn't happening in this case -- Calling Out is going on the regular playlist for a long, long time.







Calling Out is out today on Captured Tracks.  EZTV is Ezra Tenenbaum, Michael Stasiak and Shane O'Connell.  Will Cole joins the band for live performances.

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

"She's My Hero" from Crayon Fields


Melbourne jangle pop band Crayon Fields was formed 13 years ago by four high school students (somehow I missed "forming beloved guitar pop band" on career day -- there must have been a talent filter).  Respected and beloved, they released albums on hometown label Chapter Music.  Their last album was issued in 2009, which after this passage of time usually that means the members have gone their separate ways.  But we are in luck this time -- Geoff O'Connor, Brett Hudson, Chris Hung, and Neil Erenstrom have crafted another album, titled No One Deserves You.  Chapter Music advises that you will have to wait until September 25 to get your hands on it, but they aren't completely heartless as faceless corporate titans go, and they have made the first single available for your ears.  "She's My Hero" is a lovely song, and a very assured return to the recording studio from the quartet.



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"Away From Me" from Chinah


Fine, Simon and Simon are a Danish trio known as Chinah.  On their debut single, "Away From Me", Fine's delicate, R&B inspired vocals float over moody synths and deep bass.  If this is representative of their art, they have the performing and production chops to make a splash.  The single and the upcoming EP will be released by No3 Records.



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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Andrew R. Burns & The Tropicanas - One Man's Garbage Is Another Man Person's Good Ungarbage

Andrew R. Burns & The Tropicanas, our favorite Scots sloppy dream poppers are brightening our mid-week with a free four-track EP called One Man's Garbage Is Another Man Person's Good Ungarbage.  Of course, it is hard to challenge the truthiness of the statement made by the EP title, just as it is hard to argue with a free EP of dream pop.  We covered the opening song, "Voyeur Guy" a few weeks ago.  "Melting" and "Emargo" are instrumentals.  The former begins in thumping fashion before dissolving into an atmospheric soundscape.  The latter features skittering beats and what sounds like Casio noodling.  The closer is "Minkboy Sunday Overload", which add vocals back into the mix and offers a more overly exuberant and muscular version of the band's trademark dreamslop.  To my ears, the first and last songs are the best. and even good enough to pay for.  But the lads will give you all four free at the Bandcamp link below.  Happy Wednesday!



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"River of Longing" from Blank Realm


One of my current favorite bands, Brisbane's Blank Realm will release their next album on September 4.  The title is Illegals In Heaven, and while it is too early to say much about it here, I will tell you that it is very good.  However, it isn't too early to give you a taste via "River of Longing".  In my view, the song showcases what the band does so well -- a mixture of garage rock intensity, psychedelic imagery, and solid pop sensibilities that pushes boundaries while remaining eminently pleasing to the ear.



Illegals In Heaven will be released by Fire Records except down under, where Bedroom Suck Records has the honors.

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Fire Records pre-order site for the album
Bedroom Suck Records pre-order site for album
Bandcamp pre-order site

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

"Guess Work" from The Ocean Party


Soft Focus, the 2014 album from Melbourne's The Ocean Party, was among my top 15 albums of the year (list).  Things like that can make you quiver with excitement (I choose to blame excitement rather than alcohol withdrawal in the wake of the US 4th of July holiday) upon learning of a new single from the crew.  "Guess Work" begins with an sturdy beat, then blends in guitar lines, vocals and keys, revealing increased sophistication in arrangements and an uptick in production.  It is the first release from their upcoming fifth album, and if it is representative, this band will be high on my year-end list again.



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Kent Goolsby & The Gold Standard - No Substitute For Handsome


Kent Goolsby and I both understand that there is no substitute for handsome.  And in a parallel fashion, I'm sure we've both enjoyed the fruits of our random good genetic fortune.  Our paths diverge, however, because Kent and friends, under the banner Kent Goolsby & The Gold Standard, also can write and perform a set of songs that will make you smile, make you sigh, make you and your loved one want to hug each other, and clear up your seasonal allergies.  On the other hand, if I fronted The Gold Standard the product would be listenable only if the product consisted of instrumentals with no instrument allocated to my hands,  Oh, and your allergies would be untouched.  Accordingly, the remainder of this post will focus on Handsome Kent's No Substitute For Handsome.

The hallmarks here are excellent songwriting -- good stories with clever but efficient phrasing, and a great sense of fun.  Goolsby's vocals, as others have noted, have a hint of Roger Miller, but more importantly they have an everyman accessibility that makes it easy to warm up to whatever he is singing about.

The album begins with teasing guitar riff while Kent explains his mother's advice for grooming and its likely affect on his future happiness.  Pay attention guys, this is important advice.



The old time country "Rags to Rags" contains two lessons -- the possibility that life may not be an upward economic spiral, and that there may be a silver lining in not trying.  By the third song, the wonderful,"This Daddy (Has Run Out of Strut)", our storytellers are admitting that work and pleasing the little missus have left them with an energy deficit.



"Natural Disaster" addresses an different economic fact, that being how fast one's daddy can fill up the family 'swear jar'.  Yes, some lessons are learned close to home.



The gang slows it down a bit for the bluesy "Outskirts of Love", which has a subversively strutting arrangement.  "Beast of Bourbon" tells of a working man's craving for the titular nectar as the weekend approaches.

Other highlights are the tributes to the narrator's true love -- "Leading Lady" and "Hitched".





This album is made for the hot days of the summer.  Put it on the outdoor speakers for the afternoon picnic, or for drinking under the stars later.  Everyone will feel better as they compete to prove whose daddy was the biggest natural disaster, and who was luckiest, or unluckiest, in getting hitched.

The players are Kent Goolsby (guitar/vocals), Steve Daly (guitar/mandolin), Dan Eubanks (upright bass), Roy Agee (trombone), Chris Housman (fiddle), and Anna Goolsby (vocals).  No Substitute for Handsome is out now -- see the Bandcamp link below.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Princess Chelsea - The Great Cybernetic Depression


You can take The Great Cybernetic Depression from Princess Chelsea -- New Zealander Chelsea Nikkel -- on two levels.  First, there is the artist's concept of a world ten years in the future, in which increased digital interaction has eroded the depth of traditional interaction.  Or you can just take it as an eccentric but ultimately well-executed pop album with excellent production.  Nikkel's vocals are notable for their girlish quality, but she is note perfect and, in my view, manages to stand up to the robust production.  Some variety is contributed via duets with Jonathan Bree, but it is Nikkel's show.  My favorite tracks from the album are available to stream below.  If this is your cup of cybernetic depression, check out the Bandcamp link.







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Lil' Chief Records

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Midnight World Pop Scout: SAFIA, The Radio Dept., Oscar, and Charlotte Cardin

Another edition of our sometimes weekly pick of some songs from around the globe.

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First is Sydney, Australia trio SAFIA, with their new single "Embracing Me".  SAFIA is Ben Woolner-Kirkham, Michael Bell and Harry Sayers.



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Next we have one of my long time favorites, Sweden's The Radio Dept. with "Occupied", which is the first single from their upcoming fourth album.  "Occupied" is available now on vinyl and as a digital download with two other tracks.


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Labrador Records page for release
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"Beautiful Words" is the title track of the recently released EP from Londoner Oscar Scheller, who performs under his first name.  We have the video version below.  Oscar is signed to Wichita Recordings.




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Wichita Recordings
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Finally we have "Big Boy", the single from Canadian model and songwriter Charlotte Cardin.  Cardin is signed to Montreal label Cult Nation.  "Big Boy" is available on iTunes, and is the first song released from her upcoming EP.