Monday, October 16, 2017

"I'll Wait For You" by Skittle Alley

This is the sort of song that doesn't deserve a lot of words, because it doesn't need a lot of words.  Just press play and listen to almost six minutes of pop perfection from France's Skittle Alley.

Skittle Alley is Fanou, Guillaume, Pierre and Stephane, and they are from Limoges.


"The Hinterland" by Last Leaves

It always is a sad event when a favorite band calls it a day, and the final curtain call for Melbourne's The Lucksmiths likely brought more regret than most.  Fortunately, we fans didn't even have time to throw a wake before we learned that Marty Donald, Mark Monnone and Louis Richter from The Lucksmiths added Noah Symons of reat Earthquake to form new indie pop powerhouse Last Leaves.  The band's debut album is due soon from Matinee Recordings in the US and Lost and Lonesome Records in Australia.  However, first things first, and first is this sweet and very limited 7" "The Hinterland".  Consisting of the title track and B-side "Nora Creina", it is a delectable slice of guitar pop and available right now.  Note that the B-side is excellent, and will not be on the album

Matinee Recordings page for single
The Lost and Lonesome Records page for single
Lost and Lonesome Bandcamp page for single

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Exaltation" by Salad Boys

We haven't been quiet about our affection for the music of Salad Boys, and we are happy to announce that January 2018 will bring their new album This Is Glue via Trouble In Mind Records.  And to make our weekend even better, the announcement is accompanied by the light of day shining on this top notch bite of Salad Boys music, the jangling "Exaltation".  Ah, Kiwi indie pop -- critical to life as we know it!

Trouble In Mind Records page for Salad Boys

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stephen McLaren - We Used To Go Raving

Armed with a piano and a sharp pen, Stephen McLaren gives us We Used To Go Raving, a pop album of commentary on political events as well as more personal musings on life thus far.  Taking inspiration from New Order's brand of new wave and classic singer songwriters, McLaren paints in big tones and lush soundscapes, singing with conviction and unstinting vision about the past and present.  The past is tinted with nostalgia, but not at the expense of critical evaluation and the occasional bitter chomp.  The present mixes a bit of optimism with the anger and uncertainty.  And as a triple threat, he delivers an affecting love song as well ("I Sing To You").  And regardless of one's take on those themes, the music is damn special and the vocal performance excellent.  Some of the song titles are outright funny as well.  Our favorite tracks are the title track, "No More (Say Yes)", "Chest Pains Lullaby", and "I Sing To You".

We Used To Go Raving is out now on various digital platforms.


Alex Lahey - I Love You Like A Brother

On first listen, I Love You Like A Brother earned an ovation at WYMA World Headquarters.  Thereafter, our appreciation grew.  The work of young Australian musician Alex Lahey, the album is a poptastic rush of garage pop and energy, with a clear-eyed by witty view of relationships.  The fact that the relationships typically are troubled just adds spice (and zero pain as they aren't our relationships).  The songs are constructed with choruses that practically beg you to sing along.  And why shouldn't you?  Singing is fun, and the sense of fun pervades the proceedings.  The lyrics are witty, the peppy pace is fun and inspiring, and the artist's pure joy at performing is palpable.  But this is fun and joy delivered in concise, well-thought out nuggets with keen observations and enough self-revelatory material to give the album some personality to go with the hooks.  We hope Ms. Lahey chooses to share her fun for a long, long time.

I Love You Like A Brother is out now via Dead Oceans.  Alex Lahey will be touring North America in November and December.  Dates and locations are listed at the bottom of this post.  And if you want to explore more of her music, we recommend her previous record, B-Grade University EP.

Bandcamp for I Love You Like A Brother

North America Tour Dates:
Wed. Nov. 15 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott
Thu. Nov. 16 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Fri. Nov. 17 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
Sun. Nov. 19 - Washington, DC @ DC9
Wed. Nov. 22 - Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel - Underground
Fri. Nov. 24 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
Sat. Nov. 25 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Wed. Nov. 29 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Thu. Nov. 30 - Austin, TX @ Barracuda
Sat. Dec. 2 - Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge
Sun. Dec. 3 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Tue. Dec. 5 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
Wed. Dec. 6 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
Fri. Dec. 8 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Sat.Dec. 9 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Mon. Dec. 11 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Tue. Dec. 12 - Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
Wed. Dec. 13 - Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Biblically Speaking" by The Just Joans

People who write advice columns know that they are engaged in a balancing act.  They need to have an question of potential interest to others, and they have to dispense advice serious and correct enough to justify the exercise.  But they also need to do so in a manner that is entertaining and witty.  And when it comes to witty, a bit on the acerbic side tends to go over well.  After all, do you want to please numerous readers happy to laugh at one hapless and anonymous soul, or that one hapless soul? Exactly so.

And that brings us to The Just Joans, the only band we follow named after an advice columnist.  This Glasgow band also dishes out witty, acerbic observations.  But they do so with great tunes.  A case in point is new song "Biblically Speaking", which is taken from their upcoming album You Might Be Smiling Now ... .  The song addresses the timeless tension between wanting to live the virtuous life and yearning to do otherwise.  We go through that exercise multiple times a day, of course, but we don't do it in such an entertaining fashion.  And we almost always make the same choice, and when we don't it usually is for the wrong reason.  But enough about us -- enjoy the song and mark your calendars for December 1 and the arrival of  You Might Be Smiling Now ... .

Bandcamp and pre-order for You Might Be Smiling Now ...
Fika Recordings

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Verandan - Verandan EP

We were impressed by each track Verandan released in advance of dropping the Verandan EP, but even so we were unprepared for the quality of the record as an entire work.  Yes, the sum is even better than its excellent component songs.

The EP opens with the shimmering, bubbling "Short Dream", which I have previously described as the musical equivalent of walking into a room and having sparkling confetti tossed on you while you are handed a glass of champagne.  And my opinion hasn't changed.  "Gold in the Hills" has the wide scope, bright tones and an insistent bass of an '80s pop hit.  At the moment, it is my favorite song on the record.  The lovely and dreamily moody "Inland Sea" dials proceedings down a level to great effect.  The third single from the EP was the next track, the sprawling, dynamic showcase tune "Follow the Money".  A terrific song with a sincere message about economic dislocation, I've never been able to play the song just once.  "A Pleasant View" is a breezy indie pop tune, an example of the perfection to be found in a simple arrangement and good execution.  The EP's closing track is the melodic, gently unfurling "Sands Are Shifting".

Ville Hopponen, formerly of Cats on Fire and a member of The New Tigers, is the frontman and songwriter of Verandan.  Other members are Appu Jasu, Janne Kauppinen, Valtteri Virtanen, Aleksi Peltonen, Aki Pohjankyrö, Sampo Seppänen, Kaarlo Stauffer, Olli Juvonen, Mathias Nilsson Seger, Olli Attila and Rami Vierula Verandan EP is out now via Helsinki's Soliti Music.

Bandcamp for Verandan EP
Soliti Music

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cults - Offering

We became big fans of Cults when their brand of dark retro pop hit the airwaves a few years ago, and were concerned that their hiatus after the Static LP might have become permanent.  Happily, Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion are back with a satisfying set of new songs.  For Offering, the band hasn't entirely abandoned the retro elements, but the core of this album lives in the new wave and '80s big pop sound channel.  It is a good choice for the duo -- the sound fits their skill set like a glove, and their understanding of what makes a good new wave pop song is spot on.  This is music that reaches out to the listener.  It is lively, bright-sounding and forward-looking.  While their earlier work was appropriate for two young talents who dropped out of film school to follow their musical interests, Offering reflects not only the added years and experience, but more specifically the artists' comfort in their own place.  And with that foundation, they offer even more to us on this aptly named return.

Offering is out now via Sinderlyn.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

"Plastic Tears" by Bed Wettin' Bad Boys

Not a shocking revelation, I know, but we found another band to love -- Bed Wettin' Bad Boys.  Your introductory song is "Plastic Tears", features gritty '80s guitars and vocals that suggest a soul singer with a bottle of Jack Daniels and something important to say.  Another way to put it is that is sounds a lot like a combination of The Replacements and Royal Headache.  And since Joe from Royal Headache is the front man, the similarity is quite understandable.  Understandable, and welcome.

The band's upcoming album, titled Rot will be released November 10 by What's Your Rupture and R.I.P. Society.

What's Your Rupture
R.I.P. Society Records

Friday, October 6, 2017

Yumi Zouma - Willowbank

Some bands get your attention by hitting you over the head, punching you in the gut, or simply (and often effectively) yelling at you.  Yumi Zouma is not such a band.  The New Zealanders (all from Christchurch but often living elsewhere) envelope the listener with sweet melodies and soft, cooing vocals, providing a listening experience like being in along a seashore with the light marine fog dispersing in the sunlight.  The band's first album was the well-received Yoncalla.  They now follow with Willowbank

On this outing the band really don't do anything dramatically different -- nor should they have.  They know their sweet spot and they work it to great effect.  Their melodic sense is superb.   The compositions choose warmth over drama, painting in pastels and wrapped in gauze, but their arrangements manage the tricky feat of being dynamic as well as gentle.  The rhythm portions of the track are inventive, interesting, and drive the songs perfectly.   The genre is synth pop/electro pop, but many of these songs would slot into a dancefloor mix quite comfortably.  If you like synth pop, you really need to explore this album.

Yumi Zouma is Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess..  Willowbank is out now via Cascine.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Shout Out Louds - Ease My Mind

The world is a dangerous, challenging, chaotic and frustrating place right now.  Of course, as good people and dedicated citizens, we all spend our time engaging in the good fight.  But sometimes you need to unplug, relax, and enjoy the simple pleasures available to us.  You know, ease your mind a bit.  Well, Sweden's Shout Out Louds are ready with our soundtrack for appreciating the good things.  Press play on the aptly-named Ease My Mind and enjoy your family, drive to the shore, take a walk crunching through the leaves on a sunny autumn day, or give your partner a cuddle.  Did I write "or"?  Go ahead and do them all -- the album runs about 45 minutes but it is the kind of soundtrack that you won't mind hearing throughout the season.

The songs here are fully fleshed out, with robust arrangements and confident vocals.  The performances are tight, and repeated listens will reveal an appreciated attention to details in the soundscapes.  As is appropriate for an album focused feelings, and mostly good feelings, the hooks are plentiful and reach for the stars.  And while the Shout Out Louds are a band that doesn't mind rocking out a bit, the classic gloss of Swedish pop is in evidence as well.  Take this album on its own terms, and you'll find it giving you an abundance of pleasure, demanding nothing of you other than your ears and a desire to ease your mind.

Shout Out Louds are Adam Olenius, Ted Malmros, Eric Edman, Bebban Stenborg, and Carl von Arbin.  Ease My Mind is out now via Merge Records.

Bandcamp for Ease My Mind
Merge Records page for Ease My Mind

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Morning TV - Sun

We have always had a rule around here - no morning TV.  It doesn't matter what channel, it is horrible drivel.  And then we heard Sun, the new album from Sydney's Morning TV.  We have amended our rule to prohibit watching morning TV, but requiring listening to Morning TV.  And if you know what is good for your ears, brain, heart and soul, you will immediately adopt that rule for yourself.  All seven tracks are lovely.  The first four are great examples of simple but endearing guitar pop songs.  The fifth track dives into atmospheric psychedelia, while the sixth and seventh tracks are sparsely adorned, folky songs similar to some of the work of Melbourne's Lower Plenty.

Morning TV is Brit (vocals/guitar), Ana (bass), Tim (guitar/vocals), and Cam (drums).  Sun is out now as a digital download via Habit Music Company.  See the Bandcamp link for a stream and other details.

Bandcamp for Sun

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Shrug Life -¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As those California boys with deplorable dress sense sang, "fun fun fun 'til her Daddy takes the T-bird away".  Well, we aren't female and, sadly, we don't have access to a vintage Ford Thunderbird, but we love fun.  Everyone loves fun.  So today's feature is the new album from Dublin's Shrug Life. We note that the album is self-titled, but the trio prefers to use a series of keystrokes as a stand in for the letters.

What Danny Carroll (vocals/guitar), Keith Broni (bass) and Josh Donnelly (drums) deliver is Weezer's hook-infused choruses and Dogs Die In Hot Cars' manic energy.  The songwriting is smart and humorous, and the lad's battles with first world problems and modern complacency are colorfully illustrated.  Take, for example, a song in which Danny's job in the cancellation department of a satellite TV and broadband provider results in comparing his manager with Benito Mussolini ("Temp Life").   In fact, my only complaint about this album is not having the lyrics, but the vocals are high enough in the mix that you probably can work it our well enough.  Aurally and lyrically, this is a real treat, and don't you deserve a treat this week?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is out now in digital and CD formats via Jigsaw Records and Little L Records.  Check the Bandcamp link below for details.

Bandcamp for album
Jigsaw Records
Little L Records

Ewan Cruickshanks - Dreams (Feat. Siobhan Wilson)

Today we begin with a public service announcement: Check your damn email, people!  Over a week ago I was sent an alert about a single from Glasgow songwriter and poet Ewan Cruickshanks.  As I've been very busy, I overlooked it.  If I had seen it, you would have known about Dreams before it was released last Friday.  As it is, you'll have to accept notice now.  The lovely little release consists of three songs that are satisfyingly different.  Title track "Dreams" features guest vocals by Siobhan Wilson, and sparkles and jangles in brilliant fashion.  The middle track is "Serial Killer", a very humorous tale of a young man whose murderous impulses took his life off the rails (we must admit that the subject of that one may be a bit raw for American readers at the moment).  The final track is an ode to the delectable scone.  The songwriting is sharp, and the Glasgow accent is thick.  Good stuff, we say.

Dreams is a digital release, available via Armellodie Records on Bandcamp or you other favorite digital retailer.  Armellodie will release Ewan's full album, A Glasgow Band, in January.

Bandcamp for Dreams
Armellodie Records

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Noire - Some Kind Of Blue

We recently read a book about the emergence of cool in post-WWII America -- hundreds of pages about rebels, authenticity and individually.  And while it was a good book, we couldn't help thinking that trying to describe a concept like cool is difficult for mere mortals.  But that doesn't mean that we don't know cool when we see it.  Or when we hear it.  Some Kind of Blue radiates cool.  Constructed of vintage '60s vibes, restrained instrumentation, evocative and atmospheric arrangements, and the kind of vocals that make you shut up, sit up, and pay attention, the album unspools like the soundtrack from a David Lynch film.  The architects are a young Sydney duo that call themselves Noire, and they display a deft touch with creating evocative music that smears love, loneliness and loss into a sincere musical statement sounds like an essential soundtrack for the listeners life from the first play.

And it is cool.  Trust us.

Noire are Jessica Mincher (vocals/synths) and Billy James (guitar).  Some Kind of Blue is out now via Spunk Records.

Spunk Records

Salad Boys - Giving Compliments to Strangers

This sort of thoughtfulness should not go unrecognized.  Salad Boys, a favorite band around our headquarters, has been touring in Australia.  But the New Zealanders are aware that many fans will not have a chance to catch these shows, so they are making the songs from their limited edition, sold out tour cassette Giving Compliments to Strangers available as a digital download.  For five New Zealand dollars you can have your own stop on the tour.  The band provides the tunes and the energy, you provide the space and your choice of beverage and company.  Strobe lights and smoke machines are optional.

Salad Boys on this outing are Joe Sampson, Ben Odering, Matt Scobie, and Olly Crawford-Ellis.  They are based in Christchurch.

Bandcamp for album

Friday, September 29, 2017

"Follow the Money" by Veranadan

The self-titled debut EP by Helsinki's Verandan is less than two weeks away, but apparently main man Ville Hopponen decided that was enough time to release another song.  So enjoy "Follow The Money" while waiting for Soliti Music's release of the EP.  The song is a sprawling, dreamy arrangement showcasing a meditation on the effect of economic dislocation on community.

Soliti Music page for "Follow the Money"
Bandcamp for "Follow the Money"

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kosmonaut - Misfits on the Horizon

We really hate it when we miss the release of a really good indie pop record.  In our defense, it isn't easy to follow all of the indie releases around the globe.  But it is our job to do so and it becomes harder to justify our high salaries, stock options, private aircraft, bodyguards and other perks if we don't do it well.  And failure also makes for awkward conversations with outside directors and angry institutional investors.  However, we shouldn't complain, as most people would be happy to trade places with high-flying indie music bloggers like us.  So, then, what did we miss?  Absolutely nothing, of course, we are professionals.  But we almost missed Misfits On The Horizon by Kosmonaut.  The nine-track gem of guitar and electronic-pop was released this month and deserves to be featured here.  And if not for spying a post by Wally Salem of Canadian label The Beautiful Music, that might not have happened.

To put it simply and directly, Kosmonaut may be one of the best bands you've never heard of, writing the sort of songs that reflect the cool college vibes of Teenage Fanclub and the heyday of Creation Records, The Weather Prophets, early Primal Scream and some sunny psychedelic pop (check out "Dive In Blind" and "Your Day In The Sun").  And for those who detect some of our beloved Bulldozer Crash in the bloodline, you may have hacked a bit of their DNA profile and found Stephen Maughan).  Suffice it to say that Misfits On The Horizon is the work of absolute pop masters, likely with divine inspiration [citation needed].  Giving you streams of four songs from a single album seems excessive, but it was painful enough to cut as deep as I did.  I suppose if you only have time for one, listen to "Debbie Harry's Smile" or "Silver Star".

I know we have been (trying) to spend a lot of your money lately, but listen to Misfits On The Horizon and think about living in a world in which you can't play those songs whenever you want.

Bandcamp for Misfits on the Horizon

"Super Cute" by The Treasures of Mexico

We'll have more music for you later today, but we are starting out with a new song from The Treasures of Mexico.  And that generally means two things in the music business, very good new music, and an upcoming album.  We celebrate both, but first focus on this bubbling gem of guitar pop.  Upbeat and featuring excellent guitars, it is one of those tracks that make a sunny fall day here even better.

The Treasures of Mexico are Mark Matthews and Bob Collins, formerly of The Dentists, and Russ Baxter.  We have no details on the album yet.  If you want to hear more from the band while waiting, here is a link our feature for their 2015 album via Shelflife Records.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Halamays - EP2

We don't have much time to write today, but fortunately Columbus, Ohio's The Halamays have bailed us out by offering this very sweet record, simply named EP2, for 'name your price'.  The band are Katie and Patrick Watkins, who not only make music together, but are married.  We think you will like them and their music, so enjoy!

Bandcamp for EP2

"Straight for My Heart" by Astro Children

Our favorite New Zealand children, Astro Children, are preparing a new album titled Turnpike.  Our first hint of the aural delights is "Straight For My Heart".  Aptly named, we think, as we tend to take this band's music to heart.  Astute readers will note that the song is available as a 'name your price' download.  The rest of you will wander around in customary silence.

Astro Children are Millie Lovelock (vocals/guitar) and Isaac Hickey (drums).


Monday, September 25, 2017

Mick Trouble - It's The Mick Trouble E.P.

Legend has it that Michael Toomey-Head is a legend.  Well, maybe not a Michael Toomey-Head, but as singer-songwriter punk Mick Trouble, he and his band were tipped for great success in the early '80s.  Still then in his teens, Nick dropped out of sight.  Story over, another one bites the dust - right?  Well, not quite.  It seems that Mick discovered a high quality recording of his 1980 EP, It's The Mick Trouble E.P.  Somehow Flagstaff's Emotional Response Records prevailed in the high stakes competition to release the EP, and here we are with a four-track statement of pop punk excellence and talent too long out of our reach.  Fans of Nick Lowe and The Jam will appreciate the fusion of punk attitudes, sharp songwriting and melodic expression.  And in case anyone is wondering whether we can resist streaming a song entitled "Shut Your Bleeding Gob You Git", the answer resides below.

Of course, none of us can do anything about Mick bowing out of the industry when he did.  But this EP is really great stuff, and you now can have a thrilling artifact of the legend-to-be-that-was-not.  It will make you happy, then sad, and then happy again.  We recommend it.

The Bandcamp gets you digital.  Very limited vinyl is available via Rough Trade in the UK and Emotional Response Records in the US.

Bandcamp for the It's The Mick Trouble E.P.
Link to order the vinyl version

Holiday Ghosts - Holiday Ghosts

We're here to discuss an album by Holiday Ghosts, a band from Falmouth, UK.  But even before cuing up the album, we began to ponder just what the name meant.  Are holiday ghosts the ghosts that specialize in haunting your holidays, despite your desire to 'get away from it all'?  Or are holiday ghosts the ghosts of your last disastrous holiday, here to remind you that you spoke too sharply to your spouse, failed to get the exercise you had promised yourself and drank your booze provisions for the week by noon on Wednesday (put your hand down, this isn't a confessional)?  I suppose it could be either, but we prefer a third alternative.  We like to think that holiday ghosts are nothing more, and nothing less, than ghosts on a holiday, having fun and enjoying each other.  After all, shouldn't hard working ghosts deserve some time off like the rest of us?

Of course, being analytical types we should offer some evidence for our preferred explanation.  Our evidence is the self-titled, 12-track debut LP by Holiday Ghosts.  Assembled from carefully curated bits of roots rock, garage pop, punk and a few touches of glossier material, you would be hard pressed to find many more joyful expressions of stripped down, just-for-fun, guitar pop in 2017.  Our first introduction was the frank and darkly witty focus on unsettled mental states, "In My Head".  Once we got the album we couldn't stop moving our feet to the garage pop of "Walk For Hours" and "Quiet Carriage", followed by the bouncing punk pop of "Airwaves".  The roosty strut "Staring At the Moon" (one of our oft repeated songs) leads to the aforementioned "In My Head".  "Paranoia" is our second dose of raucous punk, and we expect it is a staple of live shows.  The next song, the lovely "Truman Show", is the album's most pop song and, led by Katja Rackin's breezy vocals, hints that the band's range may be even wider than this varied album shows.

Garage rock is back on the menu with the racing "Nothing to Show (Nowhere to Go)".  It is followed by the standout "Sleep Through The Morning", which sounds like it was plucked off a nuggets compilation somewhere in the neighborhood of the 13th Floor Elevators -- and we mean that as a high compliment.  Next up is one of the album's most beautiful moments, "Ron Song".  We don't know Ron, or what he did to earn this song, but we hope he deserved it.  The mid-tempo, '60s shaded "At the Same Time, Every Night" is rapidly climbing our interior charts, but we'd have agree with the band's choice of closing with the garage rocker "Can't Bear To Be Boring", featuring a driving rhythm and Katja's talk-sing backed by the guys in chorus.  It is just the sort of song to bring calls for "encore".  And speaking of encores, you can stream Holiday Ghosts at the Bandcamp link at the end of this post.

If you haven't figured it our yet, we'll make it even clearer: This album is terrific.  We have had it on our daily rotation for over a month, and it isn't getting deleted now that we are posting the review.  The energy, songwriting, and performances all are stellar.  This is a smart band, but doesn't make a big show of telling you how smart they are.  You just know after listening.  And we have to give a special shout out for the excellent and varied guitar work on this recording.

Holiday Ghosts are Sam Stacpoole, who we first met as the frontman for The Black Tambourines, Katja Rackin, and Charlie Murphy.  Holiday Ghosts is out now via PNKSLM Recordings.  See the links below for details.

Bandcamp for album
Order page for vinyl
Order page for CD

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Food Court - Good Luck

We were out and about today, as is typical for a sunny Saturday in September.  We didn't get to the mall, but we did visit a Food Court, and look what we found!  We found Good Luck, Food Court's 11-song debut LP.  And if you like garage rock and fuzz pop, the good luck is yours as well.  Take a test drive below, and then load up at Food Court's Bandcamp for good party vibes for the remainder of the weekend.

Food Court are Cristian Campano (vocals/guitar), Lewis McKeown (bass/vocals), Dan De Santis (guitar), and Nic Puertolas (drums).  Good Luck is available now.  See the Bandcamp link for details.

Bandcamp for album

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Salient Braves - Delusions of Grandeur

Songwriter and listener alike are focused on the human condition.  Life is all about us, after all.  But that doesn't mean every songwriter can articulate the human condition in a way that is both entertaining and relatable.  And our advice is this -- when you find a songwriter like that, you keep him close.  We've been looking for our listeners, and we've found Matt Bailey.  Bailey is insightful, acerbic, and witty.  He takes a clear-eyed look at life, points at the scabs and scars while shedding a few tears or howling at the injustice, then invites us all to laugh.  And he isn't poking fun at the nameless unfortunates; these are first person confessionals set to music with no hint of shame or self-pity.  The result is nothing less than the timeless dance of poetic storytelling and melody.

And that brings us to Delusions of Grandeur, the delightfully named debut LP from Bailey's The Salient Braves.  A Barnsley-based band consisting of Bailey, Johny Nocash and Neil Ritchie, with some backing vocals by Dani, they provide the perfect support for Bailey's stories.  We could go on at great length about the song quality, but you can stream the album for yourself, and read the lyrics on the Bandcamp page.  However, just to give you a flavor, consider the brilliant opening lines, such as the following from album opener "Somewhere Sordid":
Why don't you tell me another lie 
like the one you did last night? 
you know I bought it 
and do you know that contagious disease 
you brought back from your visit to Greece? 
I think I've caught it 
You saw me standing there 
running my fingers through my hair 
a poseur without a care venue? 
Somewhere sordid 
Or take the complaint of the miscreant protagonist of "Guilty Until Proved Innocent":
Well I was doing nothing wrong I was.... 
just hanging around there for too long 
until the boys in blue came along oh no! 
the arm of the law was strong 
threw me into a cell and then proceeded 
to throw the book at me as well 
my mother said I'd never learn 
and now the wheels of justice slowly turn 
The legal system's crooked and all the coppers are bent 
so I am presumed guilty until proven innocent 
And you must try "They Must Have Seen Me Coming", which begins with 'Have you ever seen a grown man cry?'

Actually, you must try them all.  This is one of our favorite indie pop albums of the year, packed with terrific melodies and sincere performances.  You don't acquire music like Delusions of Grandeur because it is on top of the pop charts or because it reflects current styles.  You acquire music like Delusions of Grandeur because it is a sincere package of humanity, styled with poignancy and humor, that will give you satisfaction now and for years to come.  The album is out now via Broken Down Records.  See the Bandcamp link for details and a highly recommended stream of the album.

Live performance of "Bankok":

Bandcamp for Delusions of Grandeur

Tropical Fuck Storm - Chameleon Paint b/w Mansion Family

In light of the havoc visited on North America by weather systems lately, the word "storm" probably invokes a cringe.  But today we're going to tell you about a storm you will like, a Tropical Fuck Storm.  A band from Melbourne, it was founded by Gareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin of The Drones, joined by Lauren Hammel of High Tension and Erica Dunn of Harmony and Palm Springs.  North Americans can get to know them over the next month as they play a baker's dozen of shows in the US and Canada (more details at the bottom of this post).  But the whole world can get to know them right now, because today sees the release of their debut single, Chameleon Paint / Mansion Family.  The first track is an intense commentary on the state of the world today that also manages to be an exciting slice of rock.  It is a combination of art, passion and politics that suggests that Tropical Fuck Storm already has hit a rare level.  The B-side is a cover of a song by fellow Melbourne band The Nation Blue.

The single is the first of a series of 7" releases planned by the band.  Each single will feature an original song by the band and a cover song.  The release are a joint project of Mistletone Records and Liddiard's TFS Records.

Associated website
Mistletone page to order single

North American Tour Dates and Locations:

With Band of Horses
Sep 26  Soul Kitchen, Mobile, AL  
Sep 27  Varsity Theatre, Baton Rouge, LA  
Sep 29  The Lyric, Oxford, MS  
Oct 1  George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville, AR  
Oct 3  Diamond Ballroom, Oklahoma City, OK 
Oct 4  Metroplex Live, Little Rock, AR  
With King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Oct 5  Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO  
Oct 6  Metro Music Hall, Salt Lake City, UT
Oct 7  Neurolux, Boise, ID
Oct 8  Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR
Oct 9  Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
Oct 10 Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
Oct 12  The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA

The Persian Leaps - Bicycle Face EP

Around here we appreciate a band that is both good, and knows what they are good at.  The Persian Leaps are such a band.  The trio's specialty on the music side is refinement of the power pop and guitar pop of Teenage Fanclub, Guided By Voices, The Posies, and The Smiths.  Think powerful guitars with plenty of jangle and buzz, and arrangements with hooks thoughtfully packed in like the chocolate chips in your favorite overloaded gourmet cookies.  The band's specialty on the production side is the EP - - concise presentations of song sets that give maximum pleasure and end just a bit too quickly, causing an nearly involuntary press of the "replay" button.

It is fall, and fall brings us the band's annual EP release, this time the five-song Bicycle Face EP.  Interestingly, the name of the EP is taken from an fake 19th century medical condition invented to scare women from cycling.  Appropriately, the cover art presents a woman in 19th century dress standing next to a bike and wearing a 'don't mess with me' face.  And while the titular condition may be fake, the songs are real and vital.  The Persian Leaps are a band that understands momentum, and they explode out of the box and maintain the tension and energy through the final note.  Perhaps that is one of the things that makes the EP the perfect vehicle for their creations -- an LP may be too exhausting for the more fragile listeners.  In our view, this EP is The Persian Leaps' best work so far.  Since there are rumors that this might be the final record from the band, we strongly suggest you experience it.

The Persian Leaps is Drew Frosberg (vocals/guitar), Adam Brunner (bass/vocals), and Michael McCloskey (drums/vocals).  Bicycle Face EP is out today via Frosberg's Land Ski Records.  See the Bandcamp link below for streaming and purchase options.  By the way, lyrics are included on the Bandcamp page, which we appreciate greatly.

Bandcamp for Bicycle Face

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tidal Rave - Tidal Rave EP

If you like your guitar pop dark, muscular and melodic, you probably like a lot of guitar pop from New Zealand.  And specifically, you probably will like the music of Tidal Rave.  A five-piece from Wellington, the band has a little EP to display their talents.   A solid rhythm section anchors three vocalists wielding guitars very effectively.  We think you will like it.

Tidal Rave are Emmie Ellis (vocals/guitar), Esther Tempest (vocals/guitar), Kristen Paterson (vocals/guitar), Frank Eggleton (bass), and Charlie Camp (drums), which includes members of Fantails, Sweaty Betty, Kittenbank and Echo Beach.  Tidal Rave EP was recorded at the venerable, and allegedly haunted, Chick's Hotel in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Bandcamp for Tidal Rave EP

Terry Malts / Kids On A Crime Spree - Our Love

Life is stressful enough without having to make choices all the time.  Jenn and Stew at Emotional Response Records understand, and want nothing more than for you to live a happy, stress-free life.  So they aren't going to force you to choose between buys some music from Terry Malts or music from Kids On A Crime Spree.  Instead, they are offering Our Love, a four track split release with two songs from each band.  This is a dose of fuzz pop you won't want to miss.  Music purchase without stress?  Consider us your "safe space" for the day.

Facebook for Terry Malts
Terry Malts on Twitter
Facebook for Kids On A Crime Spree
Bandcamp for Our Love
Link for vinyl version

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Clientele - Music For The Age Of Miracles

Seven years away from their last release of new material, and after dropping a greatest hits compilation, The Clientele has treated us to another album.  And in our view, Music for The Age Of Miracles ranks up with the band's best work.  Combining the pastoral vibe of psychedelic pop and the wistful vocals of the new romantics with swirling emotional currents and chamber pop arrangements, the album is a like a delightful set of nesting boxes.  Each time you listen is a fresh chance for discovery and a shift in perspective.  Unsurprisingly lush and layered, the songs invoke hazy daydreams and autumnal walks in the forest.  While the compositions are tightly constructed, they manage to give the impression of space and light, as if the players spontaneously chose what to do next.  Charming, beautiful and satisfying, this is not an album for indie pop fans to miss.  A few of the tracks are below, but you'll want to stream the entire record, which you can do at NPR First Listen (link).  You will discover that additional highlights include both the opening and closing songs.

The Clientele are Alasdair McLean, James Hornsey and Mark Keen, with Anthony Harmer joining for this album.  Music for The Age of Miracles is out Friday, September 22 via Merge Records.

Merge Records

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

"Green Doesn't Look Good On You" by Lord Willing

This is a public service announcement from Justin, aka Lord Willing, our friend in Los Angeles.  He wants you to know that "Green Doesn't Look Good On You".  And because you may be devastated by that news, and he doesn't want you to be sad, he has recorded this bluesy, soulful musical message to make it all more bearable.

And because good style advice can be hard to find, you may want to download this Lord Willing track from your favorite digital source.


"Bad Boys" by Paddy Hanna

We haven't featured Ireland's Paddy Hanna here for a while, but his new single "Bad Boys" is a very welcome return.  Smart, slick, and oh so satisfying.  Enjoy it, and make note that 2018 brings his next album via Strange Brew Records.  Paddy will be touring in Ireland this fall.

Website for Strange Brew Records
Bandcamp for "Bad Boys"

Monday, September 18, 2017

Floating Action - Is It Exquisite?

You likely have heard Seth Kauffman before, even if you weren't aware of him.  Perhaps it was with Jim James, or Dan Auerbach, or Angel Olsen.  And if you pay attention to music, you know that good musicians attract and choose to work with other good musicians.  So you might be tempted to think that Kauffman is good at this music thing even before you hear his solo work.  You would be correct, but of course in a world of 'fake news', you want proof.

And your proof is right here, under the title Is It Exquisite?.  Written, played, sung and recorded by Kauffman under the name Floating Action, the album is a veritable celebration of pop music.  The set includes southern soul, a bit of funk, vintage rock, some sunny psychedelic pop and even some dub effects.  Kauffman doesn't recognize traditional boundaries, but his has superb instincts and proves himself to be a top-quality musical brewmaster.  Everything he throws into the hopper on this album works, and works with style.  It is a truly rewarding listen.

Is it Exquisite?  is available via several labels, including PIAPTK and OK Records.  The only remaining question to answer is whether the record is exquisite.  Why yes, yes it is exquisite.

PIAPTK site for Is It Exquisite?
OK Records site for Is It Exquisite?

Siobhan Wilson - There Are No Saints

OK, so maybe there are no saints.  But Siobhan Wilson sounds like an angel on There Are No Saints, and if we have an angel, maybe we can do without the saints.  On this album, her second, offers moments of beauty with contrasting storm clouds and heartbreak.  Wilson's clear vocals are presented in a variety of settings, from spare folk arrangements to piano ballads to J&MC fuzz and distortion.  And while the listener could be forgiven being seduced by the aural delights to the exclusion of all else, it is a mistake to ignore the lyrics.  This is heart-on-the-sleeve stuff with self-awareness and a refreshing lack of self-pity.  Residing in Glasgow, Wilson also has spent considerable time in Paris, and sings in French on two track, including the lovely "Paris Est Blanche" below.

There Are No Saints is an album of charm, passion and craft, and it will become your late night favorite before retiring with a smile on your face.  It is out now via Song By Toad Records.  See the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for There Are No Saints