Friday, April 8, 2016

"Start When It's Over" and "Equation" by Ali Downer

We have featured Scottish band Woodenbox on these pages from time to time, but this post is about the solo work of frontman Ali Downer.  Ali will release album Plastic Thrones soon, and has shared the two album songs below.  Showing different facets of Ali's music, I think they portend an interesting and varied album is on the way.


Lil Bobby Jr And The Horsey House Band & Friends - We Don't Belong Together

This is our second feature this week for an album released by Arizona label Emotional Response, but this album is so good, so very sweet, that we wanted everyone to have a chance to grab a download as the weekend begins.  We Don't Belong Together is the work of Lil Bobby Jr and The Horsey House Band & Friends.  It is a delicious collection of country style, punk infused singer songwriter compositions that will make you sigh, make you smile, and probably give you a defensible excuse to filling your glass for another round before retiring for the evening.  Nostalgic stories, tales of regret, and stories of the road, sung in male and female voices and accompanied by twanging guitars and gentle hooks.  You may be tempted to sing along to a few of the tracks such as "My Heart Beats For Love" and "I Don't Mind", and that is fine, but depending on your voice please consider the state of your environment and your relationship with your neighbors.  Lil Bobby doesn't want to be an ancillary party to a noise complaint.  And in any case, the overall vibe is gentle and reflective.  This is perfect stuff for your back patio under the stars,  but I suspect we'll all find ourselves playing it other times as well.

The players (who is in the 'band' and who is a 'friend' sometimes isn't clear, but I doubt it matters) are, of course, Bobby Carlson (aka 'Lil Bobby'), who also is a member of Victorian Slang, which we featured last week (link), Matt Wlser, Ann Seletos, Lonna Kelley, Jay Hufman, Tony Ballz (also in Victorian Slang), and Owen Evans.

Oh, one very important additional point is that a digital download of the eleven song LP only cost $5, although you can order it in CD format as well.  Skip a latte, raid the liquor cabinet, and buy We Don't Belong Together.

Link for CD purchase

Thursday, April 7, 2016

"Maybe I'll See You In My Dreams" by Zen Mantra

Yesterday we featured a single from the upcoming album from Yumi Zouma.  Today we feature a single from the April 15 LP from Sam Perry, one of the member of that band, recording under the name Zen Mantra.  "Maybe I'll See You In My Dreams" is a psychedelic, woozy, hook-filled epic, and it suggests good things for the album.

Zen Mantra's self-titled debut album will be released via Flying Nun Records.

Flying Nun Records

Marlovers - Waves

We're headed into Spring and Summer, and our brains and hearts demand music to match.  Demand and you will receive, at least where Jigsaw Records is involved.  The little Seattle label has gifted us with the sophomore LP from Marlovers, a sweet indie pop band from Palma De Mallorca, off the coast of Spain.  Consisting of a generous 12 upbeat songs with wistful lead vocals, soaring choruses, jangling guitars and a muscular bass and drum section driving the proceedings.  The band has the secret formula for writing a nostalgia-shaded pop song that instantly fuses with the pleasure sensors in your brain, and then perform it perfectly.

And since I think most of us will find it possible to fall in love with Marina just on the basis of her voice, I should warn you to play "I Hate" before writing a love letter.  I've included a stream below as a public service.

Jigsaw Records' Bandcamp page for Waves

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Under the Sun" by Randolph's Leap

Scottish indie pop band Randolph's Leap is a favorite around here.  The Glasgow outfit offers melodic, often upbeat pop with a fully empowered rhythm section and a welcome touch of brass (we're talking trumpet and trombone, not attitude) and strings.  The songs are literate, witty, and vary from fun romps to more somber affairs.  Their new single, the elegant "Under The Sun", trods the reflective path.   "Under the Sun" is available as a digital download on Bandcamp.  It also serves as our first taste of Cowardly Deeds, the band's second album, which will be out via Olive Grove Records on May 20.

Randolph's Leap, when all together, are Adam Ross (guitar/vocals), Adam Florence (drums), Vicki Cole (bass), Andrew MacLellan (guitar), Heather Fox (violin), Pete MacDonald (keyboards), Ali Hendry (trumpet), and Fraser Gibson (trombone).

Bandcamp for "Under the Sun" single
Bandcamp for other Randolph's Leap Records
Olive Grove Records

Japanese Breakfast - Psychopomp

On a break from her Philadelphia-based shoegaze band Little Big Leagues to help her terminally ill mother in Oregon, Michelle Zaune, set about to writing and reworking her songs, and recording a truly wonderful album.  The album is titled Psychopomp, and for this project Michelle uses the name Japanese Breakfast.  With a low-to-mid-fi approach and melodic structures that would be at home with shimmering '80s guitar and synth pop, the nine songs showcase an adept songwriter and very appealing vocalist.  The results are professional, but not excessively polished, and they show more heart, grit and pain for all that.  There is a generosity and intimacy in this music that a lot of pop icons and their hired gun producers would love to be able to capture.  But for Japanese Breakfast, it seems utterly authentic.

And due to that visceral connection, passionate performance, and truly remarkable songwriting that I'd rate Psychopomp as one of my ten favorite new releases this year.  I may never delete it from my playlists.

Yellow K Records

"Keep It Close To Me" by Yumi Zouma

One of the most consistently delightful purveyors of electro pop on the planet is Yumi Zouma. The now quartet of Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder, and Josh Burgess has its roots in New Zealand, although they have been multi-Continental at times.  On May 27 their new LP, Yoncalla, will be released via Cacine in most markets, Arch Hill in Australia, Rallye in Japan and Double Deer in Indonesia.  Your first taste is the bubbling goodness of "Keep It Close To Me", which is being released as a single.

Note that over May, June and September the band will be touring New Zealand, North America and Europe in support of Yoncalla.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Silver Matter - Punks Grown Up (EP)

Silver Matter are four friends based in Vancouver, British Columbia, who make appealingly dreamy noise pop with loads of hooks.  When I first heard their music I noted the similarity with a British Columbia band named Shimmering Stars which captured my heart a few years ago (link).  Thus, I wasn't surprised to discover that two of the Shimmering Stars were sharing their shimmering pop chops as half of Silver Matter.  The band has self-released six songs as the Punks Grown Up (EP) on Bandcamp, and it is thick and sweet Spectorish slow dance with traces of the Jesus and Mary Chain.  Totally wonderful, in our view.  They are charging $5 Canadian, which if you are sitting south of the US-Canada border, is a bit of a steal at current exchange rates.


"Remorse" by Gregor

"Remorse" generally doesn't bring delight, but this 'name your price' digital download from Melbourne's Gregor is the clear exception.  Stream it below.  The backing vocals are by Elyse Beer.  And take note that "Remorse" is one of the 14 tracks on Gregor's Thoughts & Faults, a cassette release with digital download coming out on April 8 via Chapter Music.

Bandcamp for download of "Remorse"
Chapter Music page for Gregor

Monday, April 4, 2016

Aries - Adieu or Die

Adieu or Die, the third album from Spanish electronic artist Aries is a warm, joyful and hyper-melodic.  The songs boast layers of carefully constructed vocal and instrumental elements, offering richly adorned bedroom pop that is perfect for spring.  Remarkably, it is all the work of one person, Isabel Fernandez Reviriego, who also has been a touring back up singer with Delorean, a singer on Cartoon Network's Adventure Time, and a player with bands Electrobikinis and Charades.  As Aries, every note and beat is hers -- multiple tracked vocals, guitar, synths and a delightful vision.

Each song has its own personality, but for me this is the kind of album that is meant to be played in its entirety.  The tracks fit together like pieces of a puzzle, immersing the listener into Isabel's contented world.  It is a shimmering, magical world and you won't want to leave it.

Aries "Eclipse total" [Official Video] from La Castanya on Vimeo.

Adieu or Die is out now via K Records and La Castanya.

La Castanya's Bandcamp for Adieu or Die
K Records page for Adieu or Die