Thursday, July 13, 2017

Waxahatchee - Out in the Storm

Out in the Storm, the fourth Waxahatchee album from Katie Crutchfield and company, takes everything that has been good and true about Waxahatchee albums past, and almost impossibly makes it better.  Crutchfield's approach is raw, honest, and at times lacerating.  But she never forgets that a song's impact is also dependent on its ability to entertain, and entertain she does.  This album is ten songs, and a bit over a half hour, of crunchy, '90s-influenced indie rock and power pop, and a few simmering indie pop ballads, laying out Crutchfield's dissection of a breakup, with the spotlight on both the other party and herself.  Unlike previous Waxahatchee albums, Out in the Storm was recorded with a full band, including sister Allison lending her own vocal prowess to Katie's.  And those elements, in addition to excellent production, show to good effect.  The album as an epic feel.  Moreover, despite the "breakup album" theme, the overall mood is defiant and fierce, rather than weepy and downtrodden.  One of my favorite songs is the soaring "Sparks Fly", but there are sparks on a broader scale as well, because throughout the album Crutchfield displays the ability to make lyrical points as if live electric wires were embedded in them.  This is the sound of a formidable songwriting talent clearing the decks for the next chapter, and it is glorious.

Out in the Storm is released in vinyl, digital, CD and cassette formats tomorrow, July 24, via Merge Records.

Bandcamp for Out in the Storm
Merge Records

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Stevens - Good

Yes, it has been a long, long time since the last album from Melbourne's The Stevens.  But take it easy on them.  If some young men are finding the cure for dread diseases, building safe, diverse and inclusive communities, and negotiating lasting peace, you can't expect them to churn out guitar pop on demand.  Admittedly, there is no evidence that the members of the band were engaged in any such activities, but we don't know that they weren't, so perhaps we should cut them some slack.  I'm sure they were doing very important things since the release of their debut LP in 2014.

And one of those things is crafting 18 lo-fi gems that we find on Good, their new album.  This record is a heady brew of crunchy Guided By Voices-styled indie rock, Flying Nun-style jangle, '70s prog rock, and Television Personalities arty guitar pop.  Or, to put it in simple terms that don't make those of you two drinks into your evening try to sort through the influences, this is varied, melodic, eclectic, soaring, thrilling music with heart, humor and brains.  The Stevens find pop bliss in every corner of their music and burnish it brightly it for their fans.  I suppose that it isn't earthshaking news to say that a 18-track album has some good songs.  But Good is rich in really good songs, and suffers no weak ones.  In fact, if I were to compile a list of my favorite 30 songs of the year so far, Good would have several entries.  Try a few below, and then ask yourself, should I deny myself pop bliss?  I expect you will answer the question correctly.  We trust you, we really do.

The Stevens are Travis MacDonald, Alex Macfarlane, Gus Lord, and Matt Harkin.  Good will be released by Chapter Music in digital, vinyl and compact disc formats on Friday, July 14.

Chapter Music

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Popguns - C88 Demos

What can be better than some music from The Popguns?  More music from The Popguns, of course.  On the heels of Sugar Kisses, their stellar new album for Matinee Recordings (our feature here), the band has released an EP of late '80s demos.  The five-track record was available in CD and digital formats, but you all are late to the party and will have to be content with the digital download.  But content, I suspect we all will be.

Bandcamp for C88 Demos

Stutter Steps - Floored EP

We assure you that Pittsburgh's Stutter Steps was not created specifically to attract our attention.  But followers of the blog could readily conclude otherwise after listening to the band's new EP Floored.  Fronted by songwriter Ben Harrison, who is a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum, Stutter Steps offers EP six tracks of jangling, melodic guitar pop that simultaneously recall the so-called Dunedin sound and West Coast guitar pop, with a touch of the Velvet Underground.  The lyrics are intelligent and poetic, and Harrison's vocal delivery, ably supported by Cindy Yogmas, is warm, sincere, and appealingly gruff.  Four of the six songs are up-tempo, chugging nuggets of perfection.  The other two, "Identical Eyes" and closer "Encino" display the band's adept hand at slower arrangements, with the latter boasting a bit of countrified charm and the former reminding me a bit of Chicago's Bare Mutants from about five years ago.  Obviously, the selling point isn't that Stutter Steps is doing something new, it is that they are making perfectly crafted music in a timeless genre.  It you are a fan of The Bats, Galaxie 500, Luna, Zebra Hunt, The Mantles, and Expert Alterations, you will find Floored to be a shiny new treasure.

In addition to Harrison (vocals/guitar), Stutter Steps are Sean Finn (drums), David Horn (bass), Phil Jacoby (guitar), and Cindy Yogmas (vocals/keys).  Floored is out now via Cleveland's Blue Arrow Records.

Bandcamp for Floored EP
Blue Arrow Records

Monday, July 10, 2017

Baby Dayliner - You Push I'll Go

The song "You Push I'll Go" has been rattling around for about a decade, but apparently was never released.  Moreover, Baby Dayliner (Ethan Marunas), although still working as a DJ, had retired from performing music, making a proper release unlikely.  However, this story has a happy ending, as the song and three siblings have been released.  Enjoy the slinky delights of the title song below and then check out the remainder of the EP at the Bandcamp link or your alternate favorite digital platform.

Bandcamp for EP

"Only You" by Jimi Charles Moody (video)

We are big fans of Jimi Charles Moody, and we also like modern dance.  So we are happy to bring you the dance-oriented video for Moody's "Only You".  A treat for the ears and eyes, and we expect it does your soul some good as well.