Friday, April 28, 2017

Ponce - Afterglow EP

Afterglow EP is the work of Ponce, a Nashville duo consisting of twin brothers Carson and Michael Ponce.  Dive in and you get synthy dance pop, '80s-style pop rock, and sweet country.  And that is just on the first three songs!  Overall, the EP leans a bit more towards '80s rock than country, but the unifying characteristics are sincere vocals, energetic performances, clean production and, loads of pop in the DNA.  If you are taking a drive this weekend, this could be your perfect soundtrack.  You could be the guy everyone else notices singing in the car while tapping time on the steering wheel.  Yes, that guy ...

Afterglow EP is out today on your favorite digital platform.  Stream "Under The Gun" below, and if you dig it, stream the entire album below that link.





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Goss - Healthcare EP


The internet can make reputations quickly, and can forget yesterday's heroes with similar speed.  But the rise of Danish musician Goss is particularly notable.  His first solo effort was about nine months ago, and he already has a debut EP that sounds to our ears like a miniature hits compilation.  His brand of electro pop stands out by reason of his perfectly crafted arrangements, his soulful vocals, and his emphasis on the warmly romantic, rather than the icy and bleak, side of human affairs.  It is a winning combination to be sure, and I'm not worried that he is going to be forgotten any time soon.

We featured a number of the songs on the Healthcare EP a few weeks ago, but today we bring you the baby-making slow burn of "ljotwiyda", as well as a stream of the entire EP.  If you are like us, you are going to listen to it frequently all through the weekend.





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"Magazine" by Sløtface

We start today bearing the good news that Norway's Sløtface, a punk band with pop smarts, will be releasing Try Not To Freak Out, their debut LP, on September 15 via Propeller Recordings.  We know that September 15 is a long time from now, and Sløtface knows it is a long time for now.  So, out of the kindness of their hearts, they are releasing single "Magazine".  Bounce around to Haley's song about dealing with body image and unrealistic expectations fostered by the media, and enjoy your Friday.



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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Jade Imagine - What The Fuck Was I Thinking?

Frank Sinatra sang "regrets? I've had a few ...", and that may be fine for Frank.  But it seems to me that one of my most consistent refrains (usually only muttered internally) is "what the fuck was I thinking".  So you can understand why I felt immediate kinship with Melbourne's Jade Imagine, who are releasing an EP titled, yes, What The Fuck Was I Thinking?.  The record's six songs discuss insomnia, self-administered reality checks, the documentary "Dig", independence, the value of a relaxing walk, and working crappy jobs.  As is the case with any music, the critical point isn't so much the subject matter as the quality of the writing and the performances.  And it is in these critical areas that Jade Imagine shines.  With a style that combines a grunged-up slacker pop with a singer songwriter essence, it is a varied and captivating record.  I've provided a few of my favorites below, but there isn't any filler on this little gem.

Jade Imagine is songwriter Jade McInally, Liam Halliwell, Tim Harvey, and Jen Sholakis, although I understand the cast of characters is not set in stone.  What The Fuck Was I Thinking? is out on April 28 via Courtney Barnett's label, Milk! Records, which we think is a very good fit for their material.




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The Fireworks - Dream About You 7"

We have always wished that we could celebrate the arrival of a great new record by setting off fireworks in the WYMA headquarters.  But in addition to restrictive fire codes, we have certain budgetary limitations (it is late April and we have consumed our beer budget up through next September).  And that is but one more reason to greet a new release by The Fireworks with great enthusiasm.  Not only does this London band deliver terrific fuzz pop, but the celebratory incendiary devices are their name itself.  So we cue up the record, and we have ... fireworks.

And yes, we now have a new release from The Fireworks - the three-song Dream About You 7".  It is a joint release from Shelflife Records in North America and Opposite Number Records in the UK.  It has the band's trademark fuzz and jangle, and showcases new vocalist Beth Arzy (Trembling Blue Stars/The Luxembourg Signal), while Emma Hall provides backing vocals as her swan song with the group.  Founder Matthew Rimell continues on guitar and vocals.  Isabel Albiol is on bass and Shaun Charman is on drums and additional guitar.  All three songs are memorable earworms, and mark the progress of a band that never fails to deliver, and just keeps getting better.

The Shelflife release is out now, while the UK release is available May 5.  Dream About You is both a digital and vinyl release, although the vinyl release is limited, and will sell out very fast.



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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"My Smile Is Extinct" by Kane Strang

Kane Strang is growing up before our eyes .... um ... ears.  We first discovered his self-released bedroom guitar pop creations a few years ago, and considered him a talent to watch.  We now will get to experience his second album, Two Hearts And No Brains, which will be released at the end of June.  From the aural evidence to date, it seems to us that the Dunedin, New Zealand native isn't abandoning his brand of guitar pop, but refining it in interesting ways.  The blend of retro '60s garage pop, '90s college rock and modern touches is even more seamless, and the execution more assured.  Check out album track "My Smile Is Extinct" below.

Two Hearts And No Brains will be available on vinyl, CD, cassette, and digital formats via Dead Oceans.



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"Shine 'em up Sadie" by Douglas Firs

Belgian Gertjan Van Hellemont has adopted the name Douglas Firs for his musical creations.  We don't know the origin of the moniker, but the man's influences clearly run to American indie rock, and specifically to worthies such as Neil Young, Wilco, The Band, and Ryan Adams.  The more upbeat songs have a satisfying crunch and a bit of country rock grit.  When dialed down, they deliver a very effective folky sound.

Van Hellemont traveled in Canada and the US last fall, working on songs for a new album.  Our first taste of his new efforts is "Shine 'em up Sadie", inspired the story of an Italian immigrant family in New York in the 1920s.  The song finds Douglas Firs in an upbeat, pop mode, and it is a good sound for them.

In addition to Gertjan Van Hellemont, Douglas Firs are Sem van Hellemont, Simon Casier, Senne Guns, and Lokko.  The new album will be released this Fall via Dutch label Excelsior Recordings.




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"Stoned" by Blondage

Blondage are Esben Norskov Andersen (keys/drums/vocals) and Pernille Smith-Sivertsen (keys/vocals), former members of Rangleklods.  Last year the Danish duo demonstrated their talent for icy, Nordic synth pop.  They are back with "Stoned" -- a breezy, thumping summer jam that should make your poolside playlist for the coming months.



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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Oliver Tank - Oliver Tank

One memorable line from '80s music is found in Murray Head's "One Night In Bangkok", where the narrator responds to various fleshy distractions on offer with "I get my kicks above the waist, Sunshine".  Now, let it be understood that there is nothing about Oliver Tank's self-titled debut album that reminds one of Murray Head, "One Night In Bangkok", or the '80s.  But that is my point.  While much electro pop seems aimed at the listeners feet, or perhaps other parts of the anatomy below the waist, Oliver Tank seems to me to be focused on the space between the ears, and the listener's heart.  There is excitement in the ten tracks, but it is an excitement derived from the details adorning the brooding, ambient creations -- the plunked notes, spare synths, plaintive lyrical lines emerging from the mist.  And those contemplative sections, which are delightful for their own sake, enhance the listener's pleasure in the moments when the pace quickens and the beats become more pronounced.  The Sydney musician has created a debut of which he can be proud, and on which he can build for the future.

For me, the best songs are "Unreal", "Swerve", "Charlene", "Falling", and "Letting Go".  Several are available for streaming below, and you can hear the entire album at the Bandcamp link at the bottom of this post.







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Introducing: Adam Naas

Paris-based Adam Naas possesses an affecting, soulful voice with strains of Gospel.  His latest single is "Please Come Back To Me", which was released on Friday, April 21.  It may remind you a bit of one of his early influences, Nina Simone.  And, of course, that is a very good thing of which to remind listeners.  We've also provided a stream of his earlier single, "Fading Away", which further confirms Adam's prodigious talent.






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Monday, April 24, 2017

"Destiny Is Upon Us" by JFDR (video)

Jófríður Ákadóttir became known to the music world as a member of Samaris, Gangly and Pascal Pinon, but she also works solo as JFDR.  Her deft combination of arresting vocals, evocative wordplay and delicate soundscapes was well-showcased on her recent album, Brazil.  Today we bring you the video for one of the album tracks, "Destiny Is Upon Us".




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Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Legends - Nightshift


When some people hear the term "synth pop", their assumption is that the music will be sweet, a bit fey, and probably blandly canned like a lot of mainstream pop.  Well, that may accurately describe some of the synth pop they encounter in the daytime, but tonight we are welcoming them to the nightshift.  Or, specifically, to Nightshift, the latest album from Johan Angergard in his guise as The Legends.  This synth pop is a knife's edge wrapped in velvet, made for late nights, dark clubs, frenetic dancing, sweaty encounters, passionate clinches, and assignations made and broken.  And throughout, Angergard wields his synths like a ninja wields his knives -- big strokes, little stabs, deft cuts, feints, and the killer thrusts, each precisely and the moment requires.  Like the costumes and makeup denizens of the night employ to create an image, Angergard processes the sounds, fattening the bass, stretching the percussion hits, and running the vocals through a vocoder.

In different hands, all the electronic wizardry could become a distraction.  But in Angergard's hands the focus remains on the songs, and like the sweet hooks and melodies, everything is done in service to making the best possible songs.  And to add depth, and a bit of sugar to sweeten the mix, The Legends enlist guest vocals from Kristina Borg (Red Sleeping Beauty), Elin Berlin (Eternal Death), and Maria Usbeck.  Nightshift is generous in length, and generous and adventurous in spirit.  It should fill your nights well into the summer.

My favorite songs are "Summer In The City", "In Love With Myself", "Space Jam", and the haunting "Cocaine".

Nightshift is out now via Labrador Records.  You can even play it in the daytime.









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Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Darling" by Froyo

Froyo capture the emotions of young romance -- the good, and the less good -- and wrap it into the kind of nugget that brings us back for more.  Their latest gem is "Darling", dreamy by still substantial, it is a great way to start your Sunday.

The members of the band are Michael, Allyson, Sonia, and Tom, and they are based in Sydney.




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"Malibu Entropy" by Rips


Rips could be your favorite new guitar band.  Based in Brooklyn and channeling local heroes of the past such as The Feelies and Television, the quartet offers buzzing guitars and a robust rhythm section driving uncompromising rock that is both tough and smart.  Their debut album will be available in June via Faux Discx, but you can experience the rough charm on "Malibu Entropy" below.



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Bread & Butter - Bread & Butter

It is said that man does not live by bread alone.  Of course, that is a correct statement, because if you have bread, you need butter.  This shouldn't be in the least bit controversial.  So consider the self-titled album from Seattle's Bread & Butter to be your perfectly balanced comfort food.  It is ten tracks of crunchy, hook-filled rock and roll.  This is the kind of stuff that formed the backbone of indie rock in the '79s and every decade since, withstanding changing fads and not so much defying the charts as simply not giving a damn about them.  These songs radiate sunshine and chug along with a friendly swagger.  Be warned, when you start consuming Bread & Butter, it is almost impossible to stop.

The members of Bread & Butter are Shane Herrell (vocals/bass), Ryan Kraft (guitar), Lars Swenson (guitar), and Mason Lowe (drums).  The album is released by Seattle's  Killroom Records.  See the Bandcamp link for details.








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Friday, April 21, 2017

Pinky Pinky - Pinky Pinky EP


What are teenagers these days up to?  Well, if we focus on Isabelle Fields, Eva Chambers, and Anastasia Sanchez, they are up to some very good things.  These LA teenagers form the band Pinky Pinky, and they are one of the most refreshing new acts I've heard this year.  You can be forgiven not having heard of them before, because their self-titled EP, which is out today via Innovative Leisure, is their first record, and they've never toured because two of the members are still in high school.  But with the release of Pinky Pinky and the upcoming graduations, you can hope that will change.

Opening song "Ram Jam" takes '60s retro and surf pop, washes it in dark tones, and then tosses it in your face with attitude.  Perhaps none of those elements are new, but the combination and execution here deserve accolades.  Next up is "Hot Under The Habit", a surging post punk tune with a dominant bass line.  "Spiders" has a bit of a middle eastern surf vibe reminiscent of regional guitar hero Dick Dale.  The EP closes with my second favorite song on the EP, the California-country shaded "Nest" (a cover of an old song written by Darby Slick).  This EP is a tasty treat indeed -- it sounds great and promises great stuff in the future from this trio.  Enjoy a couple of tracks below, and hit the Bandcamp link for a full stream and ordering information.





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"Banana Tsunami!" by The Shakers

The Shakers are from Southwest London and consist of friends and cousins Jack Hawkins (vocals/guitar), George Service (guitar/synth), Matthew Wright (drums), Charlie Gardner (bass), and Christian Spruit (guitar).  Their infectious sound combines '70s guitar rock with funk-oriented bass and drums, resulting in a style of indie rock with a groove that hits our buttons in the right sequence.  The latest single from the band is "Banana Tsunami!", which is out now via Infinity Cactus Records.  Enjoy below, and then check your favorite digital retailer.  You can check out other songs from The Shakers at the Soundcloud link at the bottom of this post.




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Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Socks" by Mikey Young

I recently told a friend that one Mikey Young, of Melbourne, Australia, has had a greater involvement in music on this blog than anyone else in music.  My friend wondered how this is possible, given the blog is named after a song from the prolific Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices, is based in the US, and covers a large amount of music from the UK, Europe, and North America, in addition to music from Australasia.  I explained that the answer is that he not only plays in bands that attract our attention, such as Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas and Total Control, but he has produced, mixed and/or mastered many albums that have featured on these pages.  And that conversation is quite a coincidence, because Mikey is releasing a solo synth pop album titled Your Move Vol. 1 in June via Moniker Records, and we have the first single here to stream.

By the way, Mikey's album is one of a series of synth pop albums by different artists that will be released by Moniker in the ensuing months.  The unusual name has an interesting explanation.  Each artist will make a move on a chess board when the artist's album is released.  Then Moniker will make a move, followed by the next artist, and so on.  There is no word on whether ESPN will cover the match.




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Woods - Love Is Love

We've long been fans of the gentle and experimental psychedelic folk offered by New York's Woods.  With that as background, we have to say that Love Is Love is our favorite Woods album in some time.  The rhythms are pronounced, and the band has expanded its use of horns to good effect.  Normally, I wouldn't be enthusiastic about a ten minute instrumental in the middle of a thirty-three minute album, but that "Spring is in the Air" is and exception helps underscore our fascination with Love Is Love.  Departing from the psychedelic folk of its companion tracks, "Spring is in the Air" is a measured foray into synth, horn and percussion dub that I think would win approving nods from King Tubby or Lee Perry.

Most of the tracks are seemingly simple, but the consistent chord patterns, reverbed production and thoughtful atmospherics enhance the themes of the nature of love and the search for commonality.  Bristling with emotions ranging from disappointment and uncertainty to hope and optimism, the music is invariably bright and promising.  Born of the disappointments of the recent past, it directs our eyes toward the future.

Woods are Jeremy Earl (vocals/guitar/percussion), Jarvis Taveniere (bass/guitar), Aaron Neveu (drums/percussion), John Andrews (piano/organ/wurlitzer), Alec Spiegelman (sax/flute), and Cole Kamen-Green (trumpet).  Love Is Love is released via Woodsist as of April 21 for digital and May 19 for vinyl.








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NEW NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES:

Thu-May-18     Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
Fri-May-19       San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
Sat-May-20      Fresno, CA @ Strummer's
Sun-May-21     San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
Wed-May-24    Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
Thu-May-25      Victoria, BC @ Copper Owl
Fri-May-26        Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern

"Reference Books" by Mt. Doubt


"Reference Books" starts out smoldering, and then bursts into a full conflagration.  In my view, it is one of the best songs yet from Edinburgh's Mt. Doubt.  The song is the second single from the band's upcoming The Loneliness of the TV Watchers EP, which will be released on Scottish Fiction Records on June 2.  This is dark pop with substance and no pretense.  Enjoy!



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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Cherries - Self Titled 2

We started the day with the cool electropop, disco-flavored grooves of Lovespeake, but we end it with excitement of another kind.  Here are The Cherries, a San Francisco quartet that makes the sort of full-on, forward push garage pop that, quite frankly, we live for here at WYMA World Headquarters.  Self Titled 2 is lo fi and high energy, with all four members singing.  The songs range from crunching indie rock to surf pop to a few dialed back tracks to song fragments, with 17 offerings spread over 32 minutes.  Take a deep breath and hang on, it is a great ride!

Self Titled 2 is out now in CD and digital formats via Jigsaw Records.  See the Bandcamp link below for details.












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"Novocaine" (feat. Max Frost) by Lovespeake

I expect that if we surveyed our readers and asked them to associate certain words with countries, "sunshine" and "Norway" would not be a dominant pairing.  We're here today to tell you that such results may be 'fake news', because the electro pop of Norway's Lovespeake is the perfect soundtrack for the emerging Spring weather and glorious rays of, yes, sunshine.  The Sandvika-based six member band has released one album, titled DNA, as well as a number of singles.  This is unapologetically feel good music, warm and pulsing with plenty of pop and bubbling rhythms.  Their latest offering it "Novocaine", that just might make you put on your disco clothes.  And to double your pleasure they have added Austin, Texas' Max Frost.

Lovespeake is Alexander Pavelich, Andrew Murray, Stian Aasen, Christian Balvig, Teodor Dysthe Lyngstad, and Martin Kaasa.  The band's music is released via Toothfairy.



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Monday, April 17, 2017

Los Campesinos! - Sick Scenes


Los Campesinos! aren't interested in musical trends.  That band we got to know in the last decade (with a bit of line-up shuffling) still believes in the power of their brand of punk pop.  So on their new album, Sick Scenes, the energy is high, and the melodies sweet.  And no one is a bigger believer in the redemptive power of a sing-along chorus.  But while the vocal inflection still tends towards the bratty side, and lyrics have a telling bite, this album also includes songs more contemplative in tone and pace.  And as good as this band is in dishing out the pop punk, it is the promise of the new style mixed in with the old that promises Los Campesinos! will continue to entertain us in this decade.

Los Campesinos! are Tom, Kim, Gareth, Matt, Rob, Neil, and Jason.  Sick Scenes is out now via Wichita Recordings.




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Bod - True Cinnamon

Well, I must say this little gem rocks in all the right ways.  I'm not surprised -- when Seattle quartet Bod's past/other projects include Oberhofer, EZTV, Telekinesis, Sloucher, Crater, and Boat, you know that there will be an abundance of rock and pop talent to fill every nook and cranny of every song.  Perhaps the result is power pop, but it is power pop with big muscles and loud crunchy guitars borrowed from the '90s.  And there is the sly Seattle music industry humor as well, with songs titled "Fleetwood Zach" (in honor of member Zach Dimmick?), "Jet Ski", and "Fake Cinnamon", a 33 bit of barely audible ambient sound preceding title track "True Cinnamon".  But make no mistake, in the four true songs on this EP Bod firmly establishes their chops for psychedelic garage, post punk, power pop and '90s alt rock, with plenty of hooks and harmonies riding the waves of guitars, drums and synths.  Is this what the kids are calling rock these days?  Well, then, give us more of it.

Bod is Jonathan Angle, Zach Dimmick, Lance Umble, and Ben Roth.  True Cinnamon, the band's second EP, is out now as a digital download or double 7" vinyl via Tacoma's Swoon Records.  Happily, the band is working on a full length.





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Friday, April 14, 2017

Introducing: Goss

This is a dual purpose post.  First, we wanted to give you some great tunes to start your weekend.  Second we wanted to introduce you to Danish songwriter-producer Goss.  Since we know very little about the man other than he has impressed us with his talent, and his Healthcare EP is due near the end of the month.  So with that, we'll let you get on with your weekend.








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"(I Admit It) I'm A Gardener" by Lush Purr

Scotland is often identified with golf.  However, Glasgow quartet Lush Purr marches to their own beat, and has chosen to be identified with miniature golf in their video for "(I Admit It) I'm A Gardener".  Relying on my keen eye for athletic talent, I don't expect we will see anyone from the band hoisting the winners cup from the British Open any time soon, but you should be very happy to see them on stage.  Absent that happy event, settle for their records; we don't think you will regret it.  Their debut LP, Cuckoo Waltz, will be released on May 5 by Song By Toad Records.  Of course, we'll have more about the album in a few weeks.  For now, enjoy the video.

Lush Purr is Gavin Will, Andy Fazio, Emma Smith, and Rikki Will.  You can pre-order Cuckoo Waltz at the Bandcamp link below.



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Thursday, April 13, 2017

"Baby Boomers" by Breakfast Muff


Breakfast is important.  In his seminal work "Israelites", nutrition expert Desmond Dekker noted the value of getting up in the morning and slaving for bread so that every man can be fed.  But nutrition has advanced since the '60s, and bread may no longer be your choice to break your fast.  And in the interest of public service and our dear readers' health, we will suggest one of our favorite ways to start the day: Breakfast Muff.  The Glasgow trio has impressed us with the few songs we have heard so far, and today (over breakfast, of course) we were treated to their latest offering, "Baby Boomers".  A bracing blast of rhythmic punk that will begin your day wide awake and full of that attitude you need to deal with bosses, roommates and political pundits, it will be paired with "R U A Feminist" on the band's upcoming 7" to be released by London label Amour Foo on May 7.  The record will be available in your choice of vinyl or digital download.

Breakfast Muff are Eilidh McMillan, Simone Wilson, and Cal Donnelly, who switch instruments so there is no way to know who played what on the record.

We worry about you.  Take care of your body -- have some Breakfast Muff.



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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Bats - Deep Set

When I think of New Zealand's The Bats, one of my all-time favorite bands, many things come to mind.  Of course, there is the consistent, high-quality music, and the jangling guitar sound.  But my thoughts also turn to friendship.  This is a band that has been together for over three decades, with no break ups, additions or subtractions.  Yes, that's right -- Robert Scott, Kaye Woodward, Paul Kean, and Malcolm Grant were the original Bats, and remain the sole Bats to this day.  But on a personal level, there is something else to the friendship theme with this band, and it occurred to me after I'd bought their new album The Deep Set and played it start to finish a number of times over the first few days: The songs themselves become friends to the listener.  Just as there are certain people you want to see at the pub on a Friday night, or at a group dinner, for example, when I get into my car in the morning I look forward to cuing up opening track "Rooftops" right after I start the car.  If I'm very much looking forward to going somewhere, "Walking Man" is my favorite way to sustain my mood.  Coming home or near the end of the evening, there are few things better than album closer "Not So Good".  Other times, showcase track "Antlers", "No Trace", "Looking For Sunshine" or one of the others may best fit the bill.  But whether I skip around to match circumstances or just play the songs through, the opening sounds of each successive sound prompt a rush of recognition and satisfaction.

I suppose one reason for this reaction is that I simply love style of music that The Bats have perfected; the chugging, jangling folk influenced rock has been a musical interest of mine for decades.  I think that another is that Robert Scott's songwriting perfectly blends the specific and the opaque, inviting the listener to subconsciously add his or her own details and emotions on the platform he has offered.  Then there is the fact that this band  has worked together so long, and has so much evident trust in each other, that their efforts produce perfect little musical testimonies to their friendship.  However, not to be overlooked, in fact, a major point here, is that after 35 years of music-making, The Bats have created some of their best songs for The Deep Set.  Their first full length, Daddy's Highway is considered by many, including this writer, to be a masterpiece.  But in my view, many of the songs on The Deep Set could easily slot into the lineup of that seminal album without detracting from, and perhaps improving, the set.  The melodies, themes and tone are all there.  A bit of the rough edges have given way to more performance polish, but that is neither unexpected nor troublesome.   Scott's lead vocals hold up well, with a touch of weathering (like the creases on my old LL Bean leather jacket, it just adds depth).  Kean's seemingly effortless but bouncing bass and Grant's crisp and sturdy drumming are ever lively and connected.  And in my view Woodward's lead guitar lines, economical but incisive, are the best she has contributed to an album for The Bats.  This is an album that not only is a joy for now, but will remain very satisfying for years.  A deep set, indeed.

The Deep Set is out now via New Zealand label Flying Nun.  In North America, Onmian Music Group is handling the release.







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Vanbot - Siberia


We expect that Siberia is the only album you will hear this year that was entirely composed on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  And we mention that fact because it is striking, and to get it out of the way, because the music is the real story here, and it is good music.  Siberia is the third album from Vanbot, the performance moniker of Sweden's Ester Ideskog.  Ideskog and two collaborators boarded the train in the Russian capital, and traveled for 17 days to Beijing.  Along the way they composed and recorded the 11 tracks which, without any further production work or additional recording, became Siberia.

The songs on Siberia feature spacious arrangements feature icy synths and soaring, high register vocals reminiscent of Enya, or of Ideskog's fellow Swede Robyn.  Stylistically, they encompass ethereal electronic dreampop and more robust electro-pop.  The effect of this wide variety of approach results in an album that plays with the listener's focus.  The dreamier numbers are like intriguing aural background -- lovely, but giving the listener time and space to think and dream, perhaps with some inspiration from the song.  The faster-paced songs are more immediate, and more demanding, with thumping rhythms pull you into the track.  And I think that such changes in focus are part of the charm of Siberia, and part of why it works for me -- I listen to the album and imagine that I'm riding on a train, with my focus changing depending on the scenery, my companions, the location of the stations, and my mood.  The result is a different and enthralling listening experience.

Siberia is out now on all digital platforms, as well as vinyl and CD formats.








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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New songs by Zebra Hunt, new album in May


Zebra Hunt has been one of our favorite local bands for some time.  But we take our obligation to our readers so seriously that we will not recommend a band without current knowledge.  So I left the warmth of hearth and home (and a long list of home improvement projects) to see this band in shows on the two most recent Tuesdays (somewhat oddly, both times on the bill with an Australian band).  One could wonder whether they were stalking me, or I was stalking them.  But knowing that my parole officer never takes my side, I'll just observe that they are an excellent live band and very nice people, and say no more about that.

What I also will tell you is that In Phases, Zebra Hunt's second full length album is due in mid-May via Madrid's Tenorio Cotobade,  Having heard several songs, I assure you that the album will be a winner, so start saving whatever pennies the tax man doesn't take from you next week.  Two songs are available now, and you can enjoy them below.




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Monday, April 10, 2017

Love Sport - Dull Tracks

Quite likely there is a bit of droll self-mockery in Love Sport naming their debut album Dull Tracks.  But perhaps there is a bit of clever marketing as well.  If they follow the philosophy that pleasing the customer can be accomplished by under-promising and over-delivering, they have an ace strategy.  If you are like us, you can't listen to the eight tracks on this album and not conclude that their brand of psychedelic pop and '90s-tinged indie rock has that special stuff that makes a record stand out.  There is euphoria, self-depreciation, and a good dose of humor, all presented with endearing melody and wall-to-wall fuzzy and dirty guitars.  This gang just may be the best college band since you left college.  And such great music shouldn't be left to the kids just learning to drink.  It belongs to you, the discriminating music fan.  Go get it!

Love Sport is Max Makinen, Aki Pohjankyro, Mikko Sulonen, and Teemu Tanner, with contributions from Liro Tulkki on Keys.  Dull Tracks is out on April 14 via Helsinki label Soliti Music.








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"Tall Poppies" by School Damage

Perhaps it isn't a newsworthy flash that members of existing Melbourne bands combine to form a new band (in fact, it may be more newsworthy if members of a Melbourne indie rock project only participated in one band).  But while it also isn't unusual if the recombination produces a good song, or two, or ten, it is newsworthy to us, because bringing good new music to our readers is what we do.  Today's edition of "new band combination" is School Damage, which brings together Carolyn, Dani, Jeff, and Jake from other bands such as Ausmuteants and Chook Race.  Their debut album will be out in June via Chapter Music, but the wobbly, sad sack delights of "Tall Poppies", the first single form the album, are now available.  Enjoy!



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Chapter Music page for "Tall Poppies"

Sunday, April 9, 2017

"Proud" by (Sandy) Alex G


There are songs that dive into your brain the way I dive under the quilt on a cold winter night after a hard day Nordic skiing in the mountains.  You get as deep as you can and you don't leave for anything short of a fire.  My most recent encounter with such a song is "Proud", by Philadelphia project (Sandy) Alex G.  The first time I heard it I think I replayed it about ten times.  I think that means the song and I are going steady, which is awkward because I'm married.  So if I have marital problems, I expect that I'll just blame Alex.

But regardless of my potential troubles, the song is a gem -- loose enough to make you feel good, and tight enough to have the kind of polish that can headline and album.  If you like the song as much as we do, note that it will be on the new album Rocket, to be released on May 19 by Domino Records.



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THE PERFECT KISS - Disconnect


Ahhh, the lodestar of kisses, "the perfect kiss".  Of course, when given a choice between the elusive perfect kiss and the variety of lesser kisses we more frequently encounter, we would choose the perfect over the imperfect (ignoring for purposes of discussion what other levels of encounter are on offer with the kiss).  That doesn't mean we feel badly about lesser kisses.  One doesn't know until we kiss whether the act will achieve perfection, and we'll add that when it comes to real kisses, we am fairly catholic -- you may kiss us even if you suspect your kiss isn't perfect.

However, when you encounter a perfect kiss, it overshadows the pretenders.  So too, in pop music.  Thus, we bring you a musical perfect kiss.  And not to be coy, it is THE PERFECT KISS (all caps, in case you didn't catch the import of the words themselves).  Their debut mini-LP is Disconnect, and after listening closely, we'd have to observe that it is a wonderful thing when the audacity of the promise in the name matches the execution.  The project is headed by the pop-tastic Joe Moore, who previously fronted THE YEARNING and Lia Pamina.  For Disconnect, Joe provides all the instrumentation on a vintage Yamaha PortaSound PSS-450.  He has recruited Holly Vanags to sing, and it is an inspired choice as her sweet, delicate voice complements the material perfectly.  The songs have all of the sugary melodies and sign-provoking hooks of classic indie pop purveyors such as Ladytron, Saint Etienne, with the added wry thematic spin of a Stephin Merrit (The Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes and others).  Joe's lyrical observations address disillusionment and disconnection in today's world, and you follow along with the lyrics while streaming the entire album at the Bandcamp link below.  In fact, we recommend streaming it -- consider it the equivalent of an extended musical perfect kiss.

Disconnect is available now in 10" vinyl or digital download formats via Madrid's Elefant Records.  You can find some details at the Bandcamp link below, and stream the album.







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Friday, April 7, 2017

Sneaks - It's A Myth

Sneaks is a delightfully fresh project.  The brainchild of Washington, D.C.'s Eva Moolchan, it offers an intriguing blend of post punk, experimental pop, and hip hop.  And you can experience it all in less than 20 minutes!  Yes, you read that correctly.  It's A Myth contains ten tracks with an average run time of less that two minutes per track.  The beauty of that approach is each song concisely delivers the musical message, and then gets out of the way for the next song to audition its wares.  Unusual? Yes.  But remarkably entertaining and captivating.

As for the content, it is indie pop, electronic, synth pop and hip hop, and it is none of those things.  That description may make no sense to you in the abstract, but spin the album and you'll understand.  It won't take much of your time, and the rewards far exceed the time spent.

It's A Myth is out now via Merge Records.









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"New Preset" by Djustin


Djustin is proof that long distance relationships can work, at least in the context of music creation.  The Stockholm (Johan Angergard) / Detroit (Rose Suau) pairing are former pen pals who became musical partners despite the geographic separation.  Their new album Voyagers will be released later this spring, but the duo is treating us to a few tracks.  We recently featured "Dancing", and now we can stream "New Preset".  We think it is brash, confident, and eminently danceable.  What a great start to the weekend!




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Labrador Records

Thursday, April 6, 2017

No Sister / Bitumen - Split Cassette


When well-curated, split releases give listeners a chance to experience the work of two (and sometimes more) bands in a single release.  It allows for comparison, synergy and is a bit like attending a live show with multiple bands on the bill.  Split Cassette is one of the well-curated splits.  Melbourne bands No Sister and Bitumen each offer two tracks of darkly shaded post-punk with loads of attitude.  "Score" and "Perpetuate" from No Sister are sparse and rhythmic, but very intense.  Bithumen then blasts us with the ferocious "Honey Hunter" and the massive "Winter Swimmer".  This is a highly addictive set of songs, and we urge you to try them out below.

Split Cassette is available from Vacant Valley.  See the Bandcamp link below, and note that the release is very limited.  If you like it, act soon.






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"Into Nowhere" by Sea Pinks

What could be better than the arrival of a new song from Sea Pinks?  The answer, of course, is the arrival of a new song from Sea Pinks plus the news that the Belfast band has a new album coming our way and has scheduled a spring tour.  Damn good stuff for a Thursday!  And speaking of good, "Into Nowhere" is a wonderful dose of guitar pop, featured a driving rhythm sections, guitar that alternates between woozy charm and ringing defiance, and an effervescent chorus.  This is a prolific band that always delivers what we want to hear, and gets better with each album.

Sea Pinks are Neil Brogan (guitar and vocals), Steven Henry (bass), and Davey Agnew (drums).  The new album is titled Watercourse and will be available via CF Records.  The tour dates are listed at the bottom of this post.



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Tour Dates
25 May - Rosin Dubh, Galway
26 May - The Grand Social, Dublin
29 May - Bush Hall, London
31 May - Supersonic, Paris
1 Jun - Bar Hic, Rennes
2 Jun - DIY Cafe, Lille
3 Jun - De Nieuwe Anita, Amsterdam
4 Jun - Coin Aux Etoiles, Mons
5 Jun - Gruner Jager, Hamburg
6 Jun - Internet Explorer, Berlin
7 Jun - Kunstkeller, Furth
8 Jun - Schuur, Lucerne
9 Jan - Hirscheneck, Basel
10 Jun - Le Salopard, Biel
11 Jun - Handmade Festival, Guastalla
17 Jun - Black Box, Belfast

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Outerhope - Holiday

"Holiday", the title track of Outerhope's new two-song single glitters like Christmas ornaments on a winter night.  But the shimmering sounds have a weighty core, as the themes are loss and grief, occasioned by the death of the partner of the band's vocalist.  It is engaging for every second of its six minute run, and a fitting tribute to its subject.  The second song is the atmospheric, cinematic "Boarding Area".  Holiday is the first single from Outerhope's upcoming LP, Vacation.  The songs on Holiday has a special weightless quality that prompts repeated listens, and growing satisfaction.

Outerhope are siblings Michael Benedicto and Micaela Benedicto, and they live in Manila.  The single, which is available only as a digital download, is released by Shelflife, which also will release the album later this year.




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Me and the Bees - Menos mal

I don't know the fine people who comprise Spanish band Me and the Bees, but is seems that they want us all to be happy.  Menos mal, their latest album title means "goodness", and they've packed the record with fifteen sunny indie pop tunes that conjure sunny days, warm sunny nights, smiling people riding Vespas and waving to other smiling people enjoying each other's company in an outdoor cafes.  It seems just the sort of thing that Presidential Adviser Steve Bannon would hate, which is a pretty good way to know that it is very good.

Adept pop craftsmen, the band knows that delivering the goods means short songs, sharp hooks, sweet vocals and soaring choruses.  With the three core members trading lead, most songs ending before the two-minute mark and sweet earworms for arrangements, delivery is made with a flourish.  And the extra goodness (or menos mal) is that this band provides a pretty robust and crunchy instrumentation to carry the tunes.  I would bet they are a very good live act.  We highly recommend spinning these tunes, but you might want to put on your sunglasses.

Me and the Bees are Esther Margarit (bass/vocals), Veronica Alonso (drums/vocals), and Carlos Leoz (guitar/vocals).  "Regular contributor" Guille Caballero assisted by playing keys.  Menos mal is out on April 7 in vinyl, CD, and digital formats via La Castanya.










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