Friday, September 11, 2015

Red Sleeping Beauty - Always 7"

We think you deserve something special for the weekend, so here is the Always 7" from Swedish pop band Red Sleeping Beauty.  Consisting of the title track and B-side "Breaking Up Is Easy", it is the trio's first release in fifteen years.  "Always" begins with a bouncing synth line and then slides into the pristine gentle pop that we associate with Nordic bands.  Upbeat melodies, soaring choruses and delectable hooks abound.  It probably will only take a few bars to earn it a spot on your playlist.  Don't worry, you won't be alone.

Red Sleeping Beauty is Niklas Angergard, Mikael Matsson, and Carl-John Nasstrom.  And more good news -- the band plans more music for release next year.

The Always 7" is available today in vinyl and digital formats via Shelflife Records.

Shelflife Records page for Always 7"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Restless Hearts - Restless Hearts

There will be no blathering about the background of the band in this post, because I've got nothing.  The label advises us that this is the entire catalog of Restless Hearts, save a few alternate takes.  The label also tells us how wonderful this album is.  There is no false pride in that statement; just the straight, unadorned truth.  This is the sort of powerpop you hope for every time you play a song labeled as powerpop.  And you keep playing those advertised powerpop songs despite often being disappointed, because you love powerpop and you want to be happy like all of God's children.  Well, this is the day your disappointment ends, because Jigsaw Records has released Restless Hearts.

Power chords, harmonies, songs about girls and being young with your life ahead of you.  And all played the way songs are played when the band (1) has talent, and (2) is playing to please themselves and you are merely invited along.  You get twenty songs that you will play over and over until they are imprinted on your brain, and you'll recommend it to all your friends.  and why not -- as is the case with all releases on the Jigsaw label, Restless Hearts is generously priced as a digital download or CD.  The Bandcamp link below has the details, and the ability to stream the entire album.  But you can check out the first two songs below and see just how right I am.

Bandcamp for Album

The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience - I Like Rain: The Story of The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience

I Like Rain: The Story of The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience is one of the most welcome collections I have ever owned.  It ticks all of the crucial boxes for such compilations: Very good but criminally underexposed band; hard to find material; comprehensive collection; and appealing package.  Most importantly, the set demonstrates the incredible versatility and the sheer quality of the music of The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience.  The New Zealand band, named in honor of a flatmate's struggles with his philosophy studies, was signed to the iconic local label Flying Nun.  But their music didn't fit neatly in the jangling retrospective (and not entirely correct) image of Flying Nun bands.  More likely to display a harder edge, a jazzy arrangement or a blues riff, the songwriting was adventurous and idiosyncratic.  Over their short performing life of 1988 through 1993, the band added elements of US college rock and grunge, and a fair it of psychedelia (check out "Into You" below).  That their evolution included increasingly more complex approaches and sonic experimentation may have presented a challenge to their existing fan base.  But in the rear view mirror afforded by I Like Rain: The Story of The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, one's appreciation only is enhanced by the band's positive growth.

Yes, this is a big package and it is priced accordingly.  But music like this is rare.  And given that this material was out of print and Fire Records spend six years, and I expect a sizable amount of resources, to license the over 50 songs from Flying Nun, remaster them, and create this box set, you may not get another chance.  You could even buy it and wrap it for a Christmas present to yourself, but who the hell would want to wait that long to listen to this great music?

The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience was Dave Yetton (vocals/bass), Dave Mulcahy (guitar), Jim Laing (guitar), and Gary Sullivan (drums).  This box set is available in CD and vinyl formats.  The vinyl has original sequencing with bonus material available as a digital download.

Fire Records page for release

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Studville" by Tempura Nights

"Studville" is a perfect introduction to Brisbane's Tempura Nights -- four musicians with a great feel for garage pop.  If you like what you hear, click through to the Bandcamp page for their Whine EP or their Soundcloud page.

Bandcamp for Whine EP

Introducing: Young Scum

Today's recently discovered band is Young Scum.  The Virginia quartet came to my attention via the delightful French music blog Piggledy Pop.  The play a somewhat dreamy brand of guitar pop with plenty of jangle and a good dose of sincere charm.  They contributed the third and fourth tracks for the Reporters / Young Scum split EP which was released recently by Cambridge's Dufflecoat Records.  Young Scum's Autumn August was released in February 2015 and is available on their Bandcamp page for 'name your price'.

The band's songs from their release for Dufflecoat Records:

The February EP:

Reporters / Young Scum split EP
Bandcamp for Autumn August EP

By the way, Nottingham's Reporters have a good, shoegazy sound.  Check their songs out on the Bandcamp link.  Here is the link to their Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

"Ready For Your Love" by The Harpoons

The Harpoons are a Melbourne quartet that has found an appealing sweet spot with R&B electro-pop, as evidenced by their new song "Ready For Your Love".  Warm and inviting, but danceable, it is the perfect song to add to your entertainment mix.  And since it is available for 'name your price' at the band's Bandcamp page (link provided below), you would have trouble coming up with a reason not to add it.  Check out more music from The Harpoons at the Soundcloud link.

The Harpoons are Henry Mardin, Jack Mardin, Bec Rigby, and Martin King.

Bandcamp for single

Monday, September 7, 2015

Simon Love - It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

The opening track of It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, "**** (Is A Dirty Word)", puts the agenda for the album out on the table.  In it Simon Love delivers a wry pop song with hooks, melody, and a fair bit of blue language expressing dissatisfaction with the concept of love.  The remaining eleven tracks vary between perfect pop tunes, such as the following "The New Adam & Eve", and less conventional songs such as "Motherfuckers" "My Dick".  The latter may be related in certain respects to the old King Missile song about a detachable organ, but it is cleverer and plays a good bit better to the ear.  Welshman Love, whose previous artistic incarnation was as the frontman of the Loves, has a masterful feel for '60s-'70s pop craftsmanship in the manner of Emit Rhodes, Harry Nilsson and Todd Rundgren, and he displays it well here.  He also has a theme, and it is a somewhat jaded, even bitter, perspective on love and relationships.  While all of us who have lived can relate to some unkind sentiments on love, do we want a whole album of it?  My verdict is yes.  The theme plays well because Love is witty, as well as a superb songwriter.  I just can't ignore an album that sounds this good and in many places, is this much fun.

Another topic is why I playing an album of offbeat and tuneful songs with negative sentiments about love makes me feel so much better, but I'm not going to dwell on that now.

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time is out now via Fortuna POP!

Fortuna POP! page for album

Blank Realm - Illegals In Heaven

It takes a peculiar talent to write songs that simultaneously convey excitement, mystery and a hint of darkness, and to perform them with both sublime skill and a rambunctious "first take" level of near chaos.  But if I could pick any band as capable of doing it, that band would be Brisbane's Blank Realm.  And Illegals In Heaven is evidence that I would be right.  Their brand of psychedelic garage rock is widely inclusive of influences, and the band shows no strain in blending them together into their own heady brew.  They are confident lyrically and instrumentally.  Their songs evince honesty and damaged romanticism.  The iron-ribbed rhythms from Daniel and Luke Spencer are are solid as any in the business, while the higher register is filled to capacity by Sarah Spencer's keys and Luke Walsh's guitar.  Daniel and Sarah handle the vocals with conviction and nuance.

What is different from their most recent past album, the excellent Grassed Inn?  To my ears the music on Illegals In Heaven seems designed with a wide scope to fill bigger spaces and make grander statements, while retaining the vitality of the band's highly appreciated live performances.  And perhaps the band has become more adept at adding tender touches to their garage rock sweet spot.  As evidence of the latter point, check out "Gold" below, which is one of my highlights on the album.

In my view, with this album Blank Realm has emerged from the great-little-known-talent territory to one of the best garage bands playing today.  It is great on the first listen, and your appreciation will grow with each of your many replays.  Most likely it is one of my top ten albums for the year, and I highly recommend it.

Blank Realm are siblings Daniel (drums and vocals), Sarah (synths and vocals) and Luke Spencer (bass), and Luke Walsh (guitar).  Illegals In Heaven is out now via Fire Records and, in Australia, Bedroom Suck Records.

Bandcamp for Illegals In Heaven
Fire Records page for album
Bedroom Suck Records page for album

Sunday, September 6, 2015

"Hit Song" by Babaganouj

Hungry? Here is a new favorable morsel of Babganouj.  Called "Hit Song", it is a fantastic rush of sound, melody and energy.  The Brisbane quartet will release an album later this year, and "Hit Song" reminds us why we care about that.

Bandcamp for "Hit Song"