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.


"(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.

Bandcamp for Cuckoo Waltz

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.

Bandcamp for Babyboomers / R U A Feminist

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.

Bandcamp for The Deep Set
US Flying Nun orders
Flying Nun Records
Omnian Music Group's page for Flying Nun Records releases

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.


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.


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.

Bandcamp for Dull Tracks
Soliti Music

"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!

Bandcamp for "Tall Poppies"
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.

Bandcamp for Rocket


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.

Bandcamp for Disconnect
Elefant Records page for Disconnect