Saturday, April 23, 2016

Babaganouj - Pillar of Light EP

What is "it"?  "It" is a collection of factors.  For a musical artist the factors include sound, songwriting, charisma, connection, likeability, looks, and perhaps some characteristics personal to members of the public.  A fan may not be able to articulate all the reasons that a band has "it", but like a former US Supreme Court Justice, we know "it" when we see "it".

The above is relevant because on the basis of what we've seen and heard from Babaganouj, the Brisbane trio has "it".  Crafting infectious power pop since 2011 with influences from the UK to New Zealand to the US and, of course, their own back yard.  Their new EP is Pillar of Light, and it thrills with three upbeat songs that blow away contemporary bands from other lands (names withheld our of kindness) with whom they are compared.  Then it closes with a fine acoustic track.

Babaganouj are Charles Sale, Ruby McGregor, and Harriette Pilbeam.  All three are adept songwriters and have contributed at least one song to Pillar of Light.  A spin of lead track "Do Rite With Me Tonite" should convince you that our conclusion regarding this band is correct.  But if you need more evidence, or just want to listen to some great music, you can stream the entire EP below.

I think it is time to stock up on Babaganouj.  How about you?







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Friday, April 22, 2016

PURSES - Obsess Much

Your intrepid reporter is feeling a trifle unloved here, as no one from the relatively new Athens band PURSES contacted me to invite a feature on their debut album, Obsess Much.  But a highly-paid professional cannot such slights let such things deter him from his duties.  So without any more complaining, let's look at what have the boys crafted us for us.

Obsess Much is an album for lovers of the strain of indie rock that meshes together southern rock and California guitar pop.  There are intertwined guitars, harmonies, big choruses, hooks, and, um, lots of guitars.  We can confess to no journalistic detachment here, because we absolutely love that brand of music.  And more to the point, we absolutely love the execution here.  Frontman Drew Beskin delivered the goods with projects The District Attorneys and Party Dolls, and he delivers the goods here again.  And with co-conspirators from Tedo Stone, Grand Vapids, Ruby and the Rabbitfoot, Blue Blood, Gift Horse and Crooked Fingers (most of which have featured on these pages in the past), the Athens super-group's sound is big and focused, and thankfully without distracting polish.  The songs included fast, rocking tunes and several reflective mid-tempo tracks with a country shading.

We featured a couple of singles from the album previously (OK, so we weren't totally in the dark), so I've chosen two of my favorites of the other tracks to showcase the album.  But we've also embedded the entire album.  That isn't something we normally do, but it is that good.

Obsess Much is out now via label Lesser Brains.




The entire tasty burrito:



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Hunck - Never Had A Dream EP

North Londoners Hunck have a brooding but melodic guitar-heavy sound.  They are carrying some weight lyrically as well, with a penchant for dwelling on things that aren't quite right.  The sound is satisfyingly full, the percussion delightfully massive, and the guitars are excellent -- at times chiming and ringing, at times sinuous and insistent.  The band released their four-song EP Never Had A Dream as a digital offering in late January of this year, and we think it is well worth your time.  My favorite half of the EP can be streamed below, and you can listen to the entire record at the Bandcamp and Soundcloud links below.




Hunck is Kieron Johnston, Michael-James Dent, Frederik Tyson-Brown, Thomas Wykes, and Danny Geffen.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dylan Mondegreen - Every Little Step

Melodic, thoughtful, warm, and nostalgic should be welcome words in a pop music review.  It describes music that dwells on fond memories, quiet but treasured moments, dappled sunlight in the backyard in the presence of loved ones, making memories, accepting contentment, and yes, some melancholy as well.  Not all of life is sound and fury, although the moments that are often command the most attention.

And this brings us to Every Little Step, the delightful spring offering from the Norwegian singer songwriter who calls himself Dylan Mondegreen.  The artist is Børge Sildnes, playing his songs and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, with backing players rounding out the songs.  The songs reveal his feelings on fatherhood with an incisive storytelling all the more powerful for the quality of his vocals and restrained delivery.  The band sounds like they are playing in the backyard for a gathering of friends, which is perfect because you'll probably want to listen to this one in your backyard as well.





Every Little Step is available in vinyl (limited edition), CD and digital formats from Shelflife Records.

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Prince

Prince has died, and I'm not going to write a long tribute, as I don't feel capable of writing something worthy of what Prince brought to the world of music.  Suffice it to say that his vision, audacity, songwriting, and performances made him one of the more complete musical geniuses of my time.  Here are some clips of some of my favorite Prince songs, including Crooked Fingers' appropriately dirge-like version of "When You Were Mine".








Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Acapulco Lips - Acapulco Lips

Are the lips that are kissing your ears lately Acapulco Lips?  If not, you are experiencing an excitement deficit in your personal life, so let us help you.  Acapulco Lips is a Seattle garage rock trio that thrills you with surfy rock, twangy girl-group retro, gritty garage and similar manner of retro wonderfulness.  Yeah, that's a wide scope, but this is a young outfit seeing what works.  And the good news is that it all works quite well.  Their nine-song self-titled debut album is out now via Killroom Records in CD and vinyl formats.  The songs are fast paced, full of hooks and enthusiasm and with an emphasis on maintaining the fun, even when life is kicking you.  You deserve Acapulco Lips for your summer soundtrack.








And here is a link for a free download of album track "Awkward Waltz".

Acapulco Lips is Maria-Elena Juarez (bass/vocals), Christopher Garland (guitar/vocals) and Davy Berruyer (drums), hailing from Austin, Texas, Seattle, Washington, and Grenoble, France, respectively.

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"Tryst" by Djustin

We recently featured the first single from the upcoming debut LP by translantic electronic duo Djustin.  Consisting of Sweden's Johan Angergård and Detroit's Rose Suau, they create soaring, romantically shaded melodies for the dance floor.  You now can hear "Tryst", the second song from the EP.  Exciting stuff, and you can see why Johan Angergård, the label boss at Labrador Records, was happy to sign  Johan Angergård and Rose Suau to his lable.



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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"Johnny" by Basement Revolver


This seems to be "introduction day".  Please meet Hamilton, Ontario's Basement Revolver.  The trio of Nimal Agalawatte, Chrisy Hum and Brandon Munroe aim for the introspective and emotional channel of indie rock.  Their introductory single is "Johnny", a tear-stained story of betrayal purely voice by Chrisy Hum.  Enjoy below, and if you like it, click on the Bandcamp link for a name-your-price download.  And look for their debut EP in July.



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Introducing: Maria Usbeck

We can all use a bit of enchantment in our lives, so as a public service, we bring you the first solo single from Maria Usbeck, formerly the lead singer of Selebrities.  "Uno De Tus Ojos" shimmers and sparkles, sweet and bright, and it makes my day better every time I hear it.  "Moai Y Yo" bubbles and soothes with a tropical feel.

Maria lives in New York, but is a native of Ecuador and sings in Spanish for this outing.  And as an extra bit of good news, the  release of this single heralds her solo album Amparo -- inspired by her travels through South America and the stories from her family's elders -- which will be released on May 27 by Labrador in Europe and Cascine in North America.





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Monday, April 18, 2016

Les Autres - Backwards

It is quite likely that you don't have much if any music by Les Autres.  A French bad from the first half of the 1990s, their fame, such as it was, was local, and their recorded output of indie pop/noise pop songs made their way to but one album, and a number of singles and contributions to compilations.  I expect that all of those recordings are now out of print, and I find that a very sad turn of events.  Les Autres songs possessed a charm, directness and immediacy that in my opinion makes them a lost treasure in the indie world.  Coming to the rescue is Backwards, a compilation of Les Autres songs from Jigsaw Records.  The album isn't a compilation of former releases, but rather a 20-track collection of alternative versions, demo versions, live versions, and previously unreleased songs.  Not that such sources should bother anyone as (1) most music fans don't have the originals, and (2) this is not a genre that tends to be overly processed in the studio anyway.  I've become very fond of this little gem, and at $7 for a digital download, it is an investment I can recommend without reservation.





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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Black Twig - Blaze On A Plain


Finnish quartet Black Twig has earned a spot on my list of favorite current bands.  Their earlier work trod the drone side of indie rock, with nice psychedelic flourishes and a few jangling gems.  And then there is Blaze On A Plain, their new album for Soliti Music.  Ten tracks that create a delicious guitar stew of Teenage Fanclub, Close Lobsters, Paisley Underground, Britpop and, at times, west coast guitar pop.  The first two tracks, "1998" and "The Swallows" may tempt you to think that the band put all the dazzle up front, and those songs are good enough to tempt such thoughts.  But then "Never Gonna Learn" prompts you to wonder if The Grateful Dead volunteered a track for our Helsinki friends.  "Hyvinkää" is a droning psychedelic treasure, and is perfectly followed by the intriguing acoustic instrumental "Oldschool Jungle".  The second half begins strong with the wistful "Sweetheart", and just grows stronger with the urgent "Lauranne", the psyche pop "Gods", the droning "Taivas", building to the glorious, jangling conclusion of "Sunday TV". 

This is a band on a journey, and the path has led them to a good place.  If you love guitars and melody, this album is one you shouldn't miss.

Blaze On A Plain, the title of which refers to the band's rehearsal space, was recorded live, which given the quality of the performance is quite remarkable.  Currently, the album only is available in vinyl and digital formats, although a CD version may follow later this year.









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