Friday, March 17, 2017

"Floored" by Stutter Steps

Ben Harrison is a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.  He also is the frontman for Stutter Steps, which released one of our favorite debuts of 2015.  The core sound is a jangling guitar pop that would fit well in the catalog of some of our favorite southern hemisphere bands.  The project soon will release a six-song EP titled Floored on Blue Arrow Records.  The title track is available now as a single, and you can enjoy a stream below.

Blue Arrow Records

Thursday, March 16, 2017

31Ø8 - 31Ø8 (BLU)

Unusual names can get a band noticed, but for those of us that write about music unusual spelling, capitalization or characters present challenges.  Of course, the easy approach would be to ignore the bands that create extra effort.  But that presents a problem when the band is good.  A case in point is London project 31Ø8.  That unusual third character isn't on my keyboard, but the music on their new album definitely is the sort of thing I want to hear, and want to tell our readers about.  So I'm stuck working harder for the same wage.  Oh, and even though we refer to 31Ø8 as a band, the liner notes also say that it is one guy called Kyle, who formerly was known as Tyler.  The Facebook photos suggest there are three guys -- of course it does, why would anything be clear?  Life would indeed suck if it weren't for the cool music on the new album 31Ø8 (BLU).  Why the "(BLU)"?  To distinguish it from a prior album named 31Ø8 (PNK) which was released by Trouble In Mind in 2014.

On to the music.  To my ears, there are some similarities to Ned's Atomic Dustbin, American Culture, The Jesus and Mary Chain and a bit of Stone Roses baggy beats (check out "Conflicted Soul" and "Come The Winter"), with a bit of shoegaze and dream pop.  That all rings our bell in a good way, so we groove along while the band races through the ten songs, even giving us a jangling gem in "Another Wave".  This is quality stuff, and Jigsaw Records offers it in digital and CD formats -- see the Bandcamp link.  

So, Kyle, all is forgiven.  We like your album, and look forward to 31Ø8 (GRN) whenever it is ready.

Bandcamp for album

"Colourful Rain" by Sweet Tempest

Spring is tentatively checking to see whether it is safe to emerge on a more permanent basis.  We suspect that it won't make a favorable decision for another three or four weeks, but the effort prompted us to play some new dream pop.  The song is "Colourful Rain", which will be released tomorrow by Danish/English duo Sweet Tempest.  The single is taken from their upcoming EP Bones and Machinations, which will is due on April 7 via Cicada Music.  Polished, versatile vocals, sturdy rhythms and sweet melodies are the hallmarks of this band, and if this single is representative, the EP should be welcome indeed.

Sweet Tempest are Julian Winding and Luna Kira.  Their prior output includes the 2015 EP Snow and the soundtrack to the 2016 film The Neon Demon.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bill Botting and The Two Drink Minimums - Better Friends

We knew of Bill Botting from the recently and sadly defunct Allo Darlin, so his next musical steps would have been of interest to us anyway.  But with the name Bill Botting and The Two Drink Minimums, the project seemed like the sort of thing that demands our attention.  Good music and at least two drinks (doesn't one only order a second as a necessary predicate to reaching number three?), what's not to like?

Bill provides nine fun songs (including a delightful cover of Paul Simon's "Graceland"), talented co-conspirators, and tight set of performances with just enough wiggle in the structure to help you think you are lucky enough to hear it live.  You provide your ears, and your own two+ drinks (yeah, I know, but at least you don't have to leave yourself a tip).  Bill's warm vocal delivery, musicians who are completely invested and good stories make this a record worth your time.  Take a test spin of the quality and range of the album with the country flavored "Knew You When", the rocking "Treating You Right", and the more pop tinged "Feeling Sad Again" below.  Here is evidence that we all need to have better friends to improve our lives.

Bill Botting and The Two Drink Minimums are Bill Botting, Hannah Botting (of Owl & Mouse), Paul Rains (of Allo Darlin' and Tigercats), Tom Wade (of Owl & Mouse), and Jonny Helm (of The Wave Pictures.  Darren Haman also helped with recording and played the sax on track four.  Better Friends is out now in digital and limited edition vinyl formats via London label wiaiwya.  See the Bandcamp link below (and for a full stream of the album).

Bandcamp for Better Friends

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

When Nalda Became Punk - Those Words Broke Our Heart

Whether enthusing about joy and happiness, exploring the bittersweet moments, or even sharing disappointments and heartbreak, the best indie pop seems constructed of a special lighter than air substance.  It lifts the heart, brightens the day, and makes the impossible appear possible.  If you want to know why and how, you've come to the wrong place.  But if we can't explain the science behind the emotional impact of pop music, we can tell you where to find some of the best of it.  And one of the best is Vigo, Spain's When Nalda Became Punk.  The band has been on these pages before, and we expect and hope they will give us reason to feature them in the future.  Today's feature is prompted by their new six-song mini album, Those Words Broke Our Hearts.

The record begins with the uptempo "Hanging Out With Imogen", featuring soaring vocals and a sparkling arrangement.  The following "Long Before" interjects a melancholy shading, but in a lovely way.  "Big Whoop" will enhance your mood for the rest of the day -- what a great song!  The lilting melodies and fast pace continue for "New Years Day" and "Angela".  The closer, "A Midnight Run", changes the game with a taut arrangement with a spoken word overlay voiced by guest Edward Forth of English band Forth.  In a very positive way it reminds me of some of my favorite tunes from Scottish band Ballboy.  And that's it -- six strong tracks that demand the replay button.  This record is gem that will brighten your springtime, and long serve as a reminder of the delights of indie pop.

When Nalda Became Punk are Elena Sestelo (vocals/guitar), Roberto Cibeira (guitars/keys/backing vocals), Antonio Llarena (keys/backing vocals), and Bruno Murmura (bass/backing vocals).  Those Words Broke Our Heart is out now in vinyl and digital formats via Shelflife Records (USA) and Discos de Kirlian (Spain).

Bandcamp for Those Words Broke Our Hearts
Shelflife Records page for Those Words Broke Our Heart

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - The French Press

We'll concede that as band names go, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is a mouthful, but that isn't a problem unless you are trying to scrawl their name on the side of a building.  Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if listening to their music didn't prompt at least a few fans to show their devotion with a bit of wall tagging, but we here at WYMA cannot openly encourage such activity.  But what we can, and do, encourage, is paying some attention to one of the best guitar pop bands you've never heard of (unless you read our feature of their single "Julie's Place" a few weeks ago).

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever received some momentum from their early 2016 EP "Talk Tight", and Seattle's Sub Pop has picked them up, which never is a bad sign for a young band.  And now they have a new six-song EP The French Press and a North American tour.   The songs on the EP are tautly constructed, but unspool in a breezy, uptempo manner that makes it easy to connect with the music on a visceral level.  All the boxes are checked, with riffs, hooks and melodies present and accounted for.  But the band also presents a confidence and songwriting aplomb that one usually expects of a band with a longer recording history.  The boys know how to tell a good story and seem to delight in doing so.  You may detect some echoes of The Clean on some tracks, such as "Sick Bug" (a personal favorite), but overall this band carves out its own spot, and we think it is a very good spot to be in.

The band is at SXSW this week, and then hits the North American east coast followed by the west coast.  The details are on their Facebook page.  Their time in the US ends with a show in Seattle on March 28, and I'm trying to clear the decks to attend it.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are Tom Russo, Joe Russo, Joe White, Fran Keaney, and Marcel Tussie.  The French Press is out on March 10 via Sub Pop.

Bandcamp for The French Press EP
Sub Pop
Sub Pop page to order The French Press EP