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.










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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.







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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.






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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.







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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.






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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.







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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.










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