Wednesday, August 15, 2018

"Cactus Country" by Cool Sounds

You know what it is like when you get up in the morning after a wildly successful romantic encounter, shower, put on clean clothes, and walk down the street toward your favorite coffee shop.  The sun is warming your face, the people and dogs are friendly, and the birds are singing.  You don't have to work today and life is good.  Well, that is what listening to "Cactus Country" sounds like -- the sound of a morning that makes life so worthwhile.  So of course, we have listened to the song approximately 3,009.5 times since it dropped in our box yesterday (the fraction represents the fact that the song remains on repeat here).

The summery, soulful gem is the creation of the Melbourne band Cool Sounds, whose name choice is just about perfect.  The members of the band are Dainis Lacey, Nick Kearton, Ambrin Hasnain, Lauren Huynh, Steve Foulkes, Jack Nichols, and Liam "Snowy" Halliwell.  And to pile on great news, the song is the title track for their album, which will be released October 26 via Osborne Again Music.

Label page to pre-order album

"Starlight City" by New Silver Girl

We are conflicted.  We don't want summer to leave us (although the forest fire haze could blow away anytime soon, thank you very much), but we want a little bit of October to be here right now.  Which part of October?  Well, you probably are thinking of Octoberfest, but that isn't the right answer.  While we are quite fond of the brew, we are thinking of the debut album from Finland's New Silver Girl, which is coming via Soliti Music in a couple of months.  And to justify our conflict, we offer the video version of the "Starlight City", the second track from the album shared by the band.  The song is a eminently danceable jolt of glam-inflected rock and roll, and we think it fully justifies our anticipation of the album.

New Silver Girl are Olli Happonen, Samuli Sulku, Ilmo Cantell, and Niilo Suihko.

Soliti Music

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Ophelias - Almost

Darkly shaded themes swathed in bright art rock and related in delicious harmonies are the order of the day on Almost, the second album by Cincinnati's The Ophelias.  The quartet get the balance just right, and aided by the unconventional deployment of a violin, as well as keys, bass, percussion and guitar, the ten songs present a fresh take on pop music.  And while the band never disguises the serious themes (what would one expect from a band named after a character in Shakespeare's Hamlet?), these ten songs seem to be lighter than air and listening to them is like being surrounded by a sparkly mist.  And that experience is as good as it sounds -- give it a try.

The Ophelias are Spencer Peppet (guitar/vocals/songwriting), Grace Weir (bass), Andrea Gutmann-Fuentes (violin/piano), and Micaela Adams (drums).  Almost is out now in digital and vinyl formats via Joyful Noise Recordings.

Bandcamp for Almost

Monday, August 13, 2018

"Meeting Halfway" by School Damage

Melbourne's School Damage consists of Carolyn Hawkins, Dani Damage, Jeff Raty, and Jake Robertson.  At the end of this month they are hitting us with their second album, titled A to Z, but they aren't going to make us wait until then to give us a hint of what they have been cooking.  So treat your ears to "Meeting Halfway", a nice slice of the band's trademark woozy DIY pop.  And you can treat your eyes, as well, with the stop-animation video created by School Damage's Carolyn.

A to Z will be released in vinyl, CD, and digital formats by Chapter Music.

Links to pre-order A to Z
Chapter Music

Four Band Comp

Album titles don't come more descriptive than Four Band Comp which, as you no doubt have guessed, is a compilation of songs from four bands.  The underlying concept is simple genius.  Take four bands critical to the late Sarah Records, and include two previously unreleased songs from each.  The chosen worthies are Even As We Speak, Secret Shine, Boyracer, and Action Painting!.  Showcasing the variety, as well as the quality of the label, they bring indie pop, dream pop, and punk.  The UK was treated to a joint tour by the bands in July, but everyone in the world can own this record. And they probably should.

Bandcamp for album

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"Roll It Out (feat. M.anifest)" by Iris Gold

Iris Gold is a London-based Danish singer of Jamaican and Indian ancestry.  Her latest single is "Roll It Out", with a featured performance by Ghanaian artist M.anifest.  Upbeat, positive, and proud, it is well worth our time.


Friday, August 10, 2018

"A Song About Holding Hands" by Gregor

Melbourne has more than its share of rock and guitar pop bands, and we've been happy to expose our readers to many of them.  But we would be remiss in not bringing to your attention the talented, unabashed pop eccentric known as Gregor.  His new album Silver Drop will come in October via home town label Chapter Music, but we has a first listen -- "A Song About Holding Hands".  The song has an early '80s new romantics feel, and is as sincere and charming as the title suggests.

Bandcamp for Silver Drop
Chapter Music page to pre-order Silver Drop

"Baby I Want You" by Alessio Peck

We continue celebrating Friday with the rocking delights of "Baby I Want You" by Alessio Peck.  Peck resides in Paris, although he has worked with Seattle/New York band Acid Tongue.  You can have a free download of this strutting gem by signing up for Alessio's mailing list on his website.  Seems like a great deal to us.


"Seasons" by Natvrals

Today's first feature is "Seasons" by Spanish electronic duo Natvrals.  The track is taken from their debut EP, Loss Is Change.  Featuring swirling synths and dominant bass, it is a terrific start to our day. 

The band consists of Arturo and Gabriel, who reside in Madrid.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

We know what your first question will be -- how many Beths are there in The Beths?  According to our crack research team, the answer is one Beth (also known as Elizabeth Stokes), and several deputy Beths -- Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair, and Ivan Luketina-Johnston.  Based on the quality of music they create, it seems to us that the band has intuitively arrived at the perfect number of Beths (this opinion is limited to music; we don't offer relationship advice when sober so we have no opinion on whether this number of Beths in your life would be appropriate for romantic purposes).

That important point sorted, cue music.  The Beths' new album, Future Me Hates Me, is the sort of poppy indie rock that fuels our days.  The arrangements are lean and uncomplicated, leaving the spotlight on melodies, hooks and lyrics.  The themes are reflective and, at times serious and melancholy, but the music is punchy, propulsive and even euphoric, and glazed with a bit of sugar.  Stokes is a talented and versatile vocalist and hits the right emotional inflection on each track.  This is a triple threat album, satisfying the brain, the heart, and the feet in equal measure.

Future Me Hates Me is out on August 10 in digital, vinyl and CD formats via Carpark Records.

Carpark Records page for album

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Cuddly Shark - Cuddly Shark

Mid-week, hump day, only half way to the weekend -- how do we jump start our morning?  Glasgow cowpunk, that's how!  OK, Cuddly Shark, the new album by the band of the same name, isn't all cowpunk, but it has a thick vein of that style.  More broadly, it is an indie rock album with plenty of punk style.  However, Cuddly Shark is happy throw into the grinder whatever seems useful (a bit of gypsy on "La Barba"?).  The lead vocals are often deadpan talk-sing, but the choruses invite everyone to sing along.  The lyricism is quirky but very appealing, and often shaded with bittersweet or ironic humor.  The performances heavily lean towards the up-tempo keep-the-patrons-dancing end of the spectrum, but penultimate track "Move On" displays a deft touch with the country ballad.  We suggest you give this album a chance, and experience just how cuddly misunderstood sharks can be.

The band consists of Colin Reid (vocals/guitar), Ruth Forsyth (bass/vocals), and Jason Sinclair (drums/vocals).  The band was formed in the Highlands, but now resides in Glasgow.  Cuddly Shark is their third album, and is out now in digital and CD formats via Armellodie Records.

And a cover of Jonathan Richman:

Page for purchase/stream of Cuddly Shark
Armellodie Records

Monday, August 6, 2018

Clearance - At Your Leisure

According to our blog historian, we started covering Clearance in 2013, soon after founding members Mike Bellis and Arthur Velez moved from Ann Arbor to Chicago.  We've been pleased to feature their releases over the years, and none more so that their new At Your Leisure.  Here the quartet takes a half step away from slacker pop and a big step towards the guitar pop associated with New Zealand in past years and, more recently, Melbourne, Australia.  There are aural connections with The Clean and other early Flying Nun bands, as well as more recent worthies such as Auckland's Surf City (check out "Haven't You Got The Time").  The result is a set of songs that is lean, breezy and full of chime and jangle.  The band is tight, the lyrics are worthwhile, and the performances shine throughout -- but especially on the up-tempo songs.

In our view, Clearance has been one of the better Midwestern bands to appear here, and this album is a superb justification of our opinion.

Clearance are Mike Bellis, Arthur Velez, Kevin Fairbairn, and Greg Obis.  At Your Leisure is out now in digital, vinyl and cassette formats via Topshelf Records.

Bandcamp for album
Topshelf Records

Friday, August 3, 2018

Tony Molina - Kill The Lights

Summer is slipping away.  The sunlight arrives a bit later every morning, but the transition is even more notable in the evening when my time in the courtyard with an evening beverage is shaded in twilight.  The change isn't unwelcome, but it has prompted me to choose different music for that period, and right now the choice is Kill The Lights, the new album by the Bay Area's Tony Molina.  This is a slender set of ten songs, ranging in length from one minute to an epic just under two and a half minutes.  But rather than feel like afterthoughts or leftovers, each song has the sound and feel of a highly polished gem, with a coherent theme and a distinct sound.  And the mix of Byrdsian jangle, paisley underground and acoustic styles are perfect for evening reflections on the day.  We highly suggest visiting Bandcamp and giving the album a chance to speak for itself, but if you are undecided, stream a few songs below.

Kill The Lights is out now in vinyl, CD and digital formats via Slumberland Records.

Bandcamp for Kill The Lights
Slumberland Records page for album

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread - Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread

Having previously recorded under the names Page Francis and Cotton Jones, Michael Nau now wears his own name professionally, with '& The Mighty Thread' tacked on to recognize his collaborators.  His new album, Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread, collects a wealth of his poetic, psychedelic and soft rock tinged folk songs into a breezy package that just may be one of your better surprises of the last month of summer.  Nau is one of those rare songwriters whose creations appear to be simple and effortless.  These are songs that are substantial and affecting, but flow over the listener like a warm summer breeze.  Nau doesn't insist, he just offers, and what he offers fills you with contentment.  And then there is his voice -- warm and weathered, like lightly used treasures you discover in a high quality vintage clothing store.

In addition to Nau, The Mighty Thread are Benny Yurco, Will Brown, Graeme Gibson, John Rogone, Robinson Morse, Dan Davine, Ari Abedon, and Brett Lanier.  Michael Nau & The Mighty Thread is out Friday, August 3 in vinyl and digital formats via Full Time Hobby in the UK and Light In The Attic in the US.

Bandcamp for album
Light In The Attic page for album
Full Time Hobby page for album

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Dot Dash - Proto Retro

Hold on a second, we are receiving a transmission from Washington, D.C.  "Dot dash, dot dash, dot dash."  What excitement -- a transmission from Washington that is not in the form of a tweet, or even a news report about a tweet!  Instead, we have Proto Retro, the new album from Dot Dash just in time to save your summer.  And even if your summer didn't need saving, Proto Retro will improve it.

For this outing, the band's sixth album, the trio has shifted a bit from the pop punk approach of prior albums to full-on power pop and jangle, but full-on power pop and jangle with a decided punch.  And in doing so, we think they have crafted their best-written and and most consistent album to date.  Moreover, the quality of the supremely confident performance suggests that the band agrees with our assessment.  We have chosen our favorite representative tracks, and then changed them, several times since we put this album on endless loop replays at headquarters.  We try to limit such streams to three per album, but we can't here.  In fact, we'd like to share more, but we will hold the line at four.  And that should give you a reason to visit the Bandcamp site and stream the entire album.

Dot Dash are Terry Banks (guitar/vocals), Hunter Bennett (bass), and Danny Ingram (drums).  Proto Retro is available in CD and digital formats now via Ottawa's The Beautiful Music.

Bandcamp for Proto Retro
The Beautiful Music (label) page for Proto Retro


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Teflon" by Spesh

To be honest, we don't know much about Spesh, even though we can look out our office window and see their West Seattle stomping grounds across the bay.  But we do know that if Michael McKinney, Sergio Mirazo, Morgan Dixon, and Brian Yeager keep making tunes like "Teflon", we will make it a point to follow them.  And we will find out soon, as their debut LP, Famous World, will drop this fall via Seattle's Killroom Records.

Killroom Records

Monday, July 30, 2018

"You Can Hide Your Love Forever" by The Fortuna POP! All-Stars

Fortuna POP! is dead -- or maybe not quite.  Yes, the label decided to call it a day after several decades of issuing fantastic music.  But subscribers to its singles clubs were stilled owed a few releases, and the honorable folks at Fortuna POP! have been providing them.  And now it is time for the final single, and it is quite special.  Beginning with "You Can Hide Your Love Forever", the 2001 single for the label by Comet Gain, the final release took form as a cover with contributions from numerous artists that appeared on Fortuna POP! over the years.  Among the credited players, vocalists and other contributors are Emma Kupa (Mammoth Penguins), Amos Memon (Fanfarlo), Laura Kovic (Tigercats), Paul Rains (Allo Darlin'), Ben Phillipson (Comet Gain), Sam Ayres (Flowers), Mikey Collins (Allo Darlin'), Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor), Kyle Forrester (Ladybug Transistor), Amelia Fletcher (Tender Trap), Daniel Ellis (Martha), Lan McArdle (Joanna Gruesome), Owen Williams (Joanna Gruesome), Adam Todd (The Spook School), Bill Botting, (Allo Darlin'), Elizabeth Morris (Allo Darlin'), Jeff Greene (The Butterflies of Love), Dan Greene (The Butterflies of Love), Lisa Horton (Bearsuit), Iain Ross (Bearsuit), Katherine Whitaker (Evans The Death), Silvi Wersing (Chorusgirl), Helen King (Shrag), Rachel Kenedy (Flowers,), Pete Dale (Milky Wimpshake), Darren Hayman, Peter Astor, Simon Love, and Giles Barrett.

There also is a B-side, and the entire release is available as a very limited vinyl run.  If you are interested get busy.  But first take the time to listen to the glorious final notes from Fortuna POP!


Friday, July 27, 2018

Ice Cream Man Power Pop and More - Songs We Learnt at Sundae School

Summer heat has enveloped us, so naturally we think of ice cream and sweet tunes to take our mind off the oppressive temperatures.  So we think it is a good time to offer you Ice Cream Man Power Pop and More - Songs We Learnt at Sundae School.  This album is a compilation of 163 songs (yes, that it not an typo -- 163 songs) from various artists.  And it is a free digital download, by individual song or its entirety.

Ice Cream Man Power Pop and More is a Swedish radio station devoted to power pop and exposure of bands that haven't been signed by major labels.  And they perform a very welcome service.

Facebook for Ice Cream Man Power Pop And More
Bandcamp for Album

The Catherines with two new songs

German jangle/fuzz pop maven Heiko Schneider, recording as The Catherines, is back to thrill us with two new tunes: "I Was Struggling With Your Magic Biscuit Tin" and the 'uncut' version of that song.  This dude drops one or more gems on us every month.  He is not yet more important to our lives than coffee and beer, but his star is rising steadily.  Explore more at the links to be found at his Bandcamp page.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

"Good Times" by Super 8

Paul Ryan, aka Trip, aka Super 8, is preparing his third album release of the year (our feature on album #2 is here).  That sort of output is impressive under any circumstances, but is particularly welcome because Super 8 specializes in the sort of scrappy guitar pop that permeates our lives around here.  Writing about the new album would be premature at this point, except that album track "Good Times" is available right now as a free digital download.  So get a free song, get happy, get yourself some good times.

Bandcamp for "Good Times'
Futureman Records

Monday, July 23, 2018

Emma Russack & Lachlan Denton - Keep On Trying

Music is something I need in my life, and I spend a lot of time and resources acquiring and listening to it.  I'll hear a song, or read about a new release from an artist I admire, and I'll decide that I really want that song or album.  But beyond "want", there is music that I need.   Music I need is music that fits my soul, and makes me feel more complete.  The name of Lachlan Denton has appeared here a number of times in recent years, and increasingly in 2018.  His work with The Ocean Party, his solo work, and his collaborations with Emma Russack all have filled me with joy.  And his and Emma's new Keep On Trying hits the level of soul-patching "need".

The songs on the album are a revelation.  Both Russack and Denton are capable of reflective compositions that mine the melancholy side of the street.  But here they seem to bring out an optimism and wry, if at times tentative, hopefulness in each other.  In fact, many of the songs are distinctly upbeat, relying on warm vocals, simple but affecting melodies, and a sparkling piano.  The album impresses on first listen, but for me its impact grows with each replay.  Music for the soul is like that -- affecting, satisfying, and needed.

Keep On Trying is out now in digital and CD formats via Osborne Again Music.

Bandcamp for Keep On Trying

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Introducing: Knife Knights

Knife Knights brings together two treasured figures of the Seattle music scene.  One is Ishmael Butler, who former projects include Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces.  The other is Erik Blood -- musician, composer, and producer.  And while Blood has moved to Los Angeles, his studio , and many meaningful connections, remain in Seattle.  While Butler and Blood have collaborated over the years, Knife Knights is, to our knowledge, the first time they have presented themselves as a band.  Based on the evidence provided below, we can lament that it didn't happen sooner.  The fruits of their union is the eleven track 1 Time Mirage, which will be released by Sub Pop in September.  The album finds the duo, and a cast of talented friends, in fine form, adventurously combining hip hop, shoegaze, and electronic, with a barrel full of bass.

We will have more on the album in a few weeks, but for now we suggest you stream the tracks below and watch the video.

Sub Pop Records

Saturday, July 21, 2018

GUMS! - Flats (2012-2016)

Here is your musical treat for the weekend, a big batch of GUMS!  No, not "gum", GUMS!  That's plural, all caps, 81.4 percent jangle, 15.9 percent punk, 65.7 percent twee, 99 percent beer,  and 100 percent DIY.  However, there are no artificial ingredients -- this gang is Glasgow indie from skin to bone.  Through the course of their credible, but not yet famous, career the band has issued singles, EPs and split releases.  They claim to be working on a full length of their very own, but have generously decided to offer the best 14 songs of the period 2012-2016 as a free download compilation titled Flats (2012-2016).  So get busy, and collect some of the finest free music you can find short of shoplifting.

The main man of GUMS! is Martin Smith.  Other players include Jack Taylor, Nora Noonan, Gave Gillies, Joe Greatorex, Tommy Duffin, and Callum Baird.  By the way, we have no idea whether main man Martin Smith chews gum, but we have our top interns checking it out.

Bandcamp for album

Friday, July 20, 2018

Smokescreens - Used to Yesterday

On their second album, the newly released Used to YesterdaySmokescreens doesn't try to disguise their influences.  But when your influences are early Flying Nun bands, '80s British guitar pop, and California guitar pop from the '60s forward, why the hell would anyone want it hidden?  And by the way, in the unlikely event that the band compiled the album as an audition to be a When You Motor Away house band -- and who wouldn't want to do that -- they passed the audition with top marks.

The joyous sounds kick off with the buzzsaw guitars of "Someone New", reminding us of member Corey Cunningham's former project, Terry Malts.  And then, it gets even better, with the glorious jangle of the title track followed by "The Lost Song", which could have been 'lost' off an '80s album by The Wedding Present or The Clean (and either would be happy to claim it, we suspect).  "Jolly Jane" lives up to its name with a happy garage pop vibe.  "Buddy" provides the rare slower tempo with a bit of Kiwi-style melancholy.  The upbeat vibes ramp up again with the next song, the Brydsian "Waiting For The Summer".  '80s New Zealand is further represented by a cover of Wasp Factory's "Steel Blue Skies".  And for us, the final three songs of the album provide the cherry on top, with the set of "Fool Me", "It's Not Right", and "Falling Down" blending the folk rock of The Bats with '60s British Invasion garage pop.

Used to Yesterday offers terrific melodies, great vocals, top songwriting, and all the style boxes ticked we could ask for.  This album may never leave our rotation.

Smokescreens are Chris Rosi, Corey Cunningham, Brice Bradley and Jenny Moffet.  Used to Yesterday is out now via Slumberland Records.

Bandcamp for Used to Yesterday
Slumberland Records page for Used to Yesterday

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Slob" by The Salient Braves

One of our favorite albums last year was Delusions of Grandeur, by The Salient Braves (link to our review).  Matt Bailey and his pals have been a bit quiet on the release front since last fall, but that is understandable as counting the piles of money earned from that record must be very time consuming.  But the musical muse has done its work, and they are back with a new single titled "Slob".  The song reflects this band's appealing sweet spot -- melody, humor and wry commentary on the human condition.  In this edition, we hear the lament of a man who has let himself go and been abandoned by his love.

We like a track quite a bit, and we suspect you will as well.  However, we are firm in our denials that we were the model for the cover art.  We can't un-see that, you can't un-see that, but in any case it isn't us.

Bandcamp for "Slob"

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

"BirdHouse" by Weep Wave

How about a combo meal for lunch today?  With some heavy garage, garnished with swirling psychedelia, we can offer "BirdHouse" by Seattle's Weep Wave.  Stream it below, and click on the download link for a free download.  If you love King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, you are going to love this song.  We've been sharing it with the guys in the nearby offices with it all morning, I hope they like it.

Weep Wave are Fuentes (guitar & vocals), Dylan Trujillo (bass), Colton Harold (synth), and Van Wolfe (drums).


Introducing: The O'My's

My oh my - you really need an introduction to Chicago's The O'My's.  The duo of Nick Hennessey and Maceo Vidal-Haymes offers tightly constructed and emotionally packed pop tunes influenced by R&B, psychedelia, doo wop, and soul.  Nick plays keys and Maceo plays guitar and sings.  We understand an album is in process, but until it arrives, you can feast on "Baskets" and "Starship".

Links to buy/stream "Baskets"
Links to buy/stream "Starship"

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Worse Than It Seems" by Jawjaw

Jawjaw is the new collaborative music, film and art project of London's Andrew Harvey-Gannon.  Our introduction comes via "Worse Than It Seems", a pulsating, brooding electro-pop tune that pulls us in and leaves us wanting much more.  The song features vocals by London artist Tailor.


"David" by Frøkedal

One of the late summer releases we are eagerly awaiting is How We Made It, by Norwegian star Frøkedal. The Oslo-based musician possesses a magnificent voice and proves equally adept at creating intriguing pop songs.  The album will be release at the end of August by Propeller Recordings, but your ears can have an aural glimpse via album track "David", below.  Featuring sparkling instrumentation and seductive vocals, it has become the soundtrack of our morning.

Bandcamp for How We Made It
Propeller Recordings

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Hannah Barberas - The Hannah Barberas Are Here At Last

We are starting the week with some DIY indie pop from London.  Energetic and original, it makes Monday morning a venture worth undertaking.  It also is available at 'name your price', and since we spent most of our budget on beer and ice cream due to the hot weather (yes, beer and ice cream, but not at the same time -- we aren't animals), that price is very welcome.  So get to know The Hannah Barberas via their appropriately-titled The Hannah Barberas Are Here At Last.  There are two original songs and a cover of McCarthy's Red Sleeping Beauty (a fine song that also gave its name to a wonderful, long-running Swedish indie pop band).

The Hannah Barberas are Damien, Lucy, Doug, and Matthew.  The EP is available at the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for album

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bjørn Torske - Byen

Usually electronic fans have to choose among trance, house and ambient.  But Byen, the new album by Norwegian producer Bjørn Torske, weaves all three into a pulsating, melodic, and thoroughly enthralling musical epic.  Other than the cinematic closing song, all of the tracks run for 7:44 or longer, and are packed with ideas.  But the listener never has to suffer filler.  This music is thoughtfully constructed.  Dance the long summer nights away, your soundtrack is here.

Bandcamp for Byen

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Babe Rainbow - Double Rainbow

We didn't intend this week to be "Australia" week, but it seems to be working out that way.  You hear people talking about wanting rainbows and ponies -- well, small horses are completely outside of our area of expertise (although we have dogs).  But rainbows?  We have rainbows.  In fact, we have Double Rainbow, by Byron Bay, Australia's Babe Rainbow.  And this 11-track gem is not only our album of the week, but it is likely one of our top 20 albums of the year so far.  The lads of Babe Rainbow mine deep veins of '60s psychedelic pop, and that alone would be sufficient to earn our joyful reception.  But this is an expansive, dynamic set of songs that touches on funky disco ("Eureka"), jazzy cabaret pop, folk, and indie pop while providing a full load of psychedelic vibes.

Picking highlight tracks is a fool's errand, but check out "Bella Luna" for a lovely song that reminds of '60s band Friends of Distinction (e.g. "Grazing in the Grass"), or "Eureka" for that funky disco.  Take the When You Motor Away Babe Rainbow challenge:  Listen to the album on Bandcamp and decide whether your really want to be without these songs for the rest of your summer.  There is only one answer.

Bandcamp for Double Rainbow

"I'm Right Here" by Emma Russack and Lachlan Denton

We have broad tastes, but we must admit that we like artists who are exceptional and prolific.  Of course, part of the reason is selfishness, as it makes our job easier.  But it also is better for you, the reader, as it makes it more likely that lazy people like us will bring you good music.  So we find ourselves featuring more music by Emma Russack and Lachlan Denton, whose debut album When It Ends graced these pages about three months ago.  In a happy but surprising turn of events, the duo are back again with "I'm Right Here", a new song from their soon their soon to be released second album, Keep On Trying.  The song perfectly showcases the magic that this collaboration offers.  The pop craftsmanship on this piano-driven track is top class, and vocal interplay is warm and uplifting.  Our appetites are duly whetted, and we eagerly await the album's other delights.  Fortunately, the wait won't be long.

Emma has been a member of bands and a solo artist, while Lachlan's solo work has paralleled his membership in The Ocean Party, which is one of our favorite bands.  Keep On Trying is out July 18 via Osborne Again Music.

Bandcamp for Keep On Trying
Osborne Again

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Crossing Rivers (Away From You)" by Arcane Station

Let's start today with some smoking hot electro R&B from Bodø, Norway's Thomas Pettersen.  Performing as Arcane Station, he has worked with Marianne Hekkilæ to create "Crossing Rivers (Away From You)".  It is his sixth single (and second with Marianne on vocals), and should further accelerate his rise as a producer we should follow.  The single is available at all the usual digital outlets.

You Tube Music link

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Watoo Watoo - Modern Express

Time for us to be 'happy sad'.  We are sad because Michael and Pascale, the core members of French pop project Watoo Watoo, are calling time on the band.  We are happy because at least they are going out it fine style with a final LP -- the new Modern Express.  For their swan song, or swan songs, the duo remind us why we treasure their work.  The songs are melodic and richly detailed.  The scope covers classic French pop, but reflects the jazz and bossa influences, as well as the electropop of Broadcast and Stereolab.  The music is sweet and vital, and just makes us happy to be living.  Consider it the new soundtrack for your day, especially if you are dashing, footloose, and traveling around France in a cute sports car with an even cuter companion at your side.  Or just pretend -- this album will provide the inspiration.

Pascale and Michael are based in Bordeaux.  Both have other projects but collaborate after Michael creates some new music, gathers some friends to help with various instruments, and persuades Pascale to provide the vocals.  Modern Express is out now in digital and CD formats via Jigsaw Records.

Bandcamp for Modern Express

Monday, July 9, 2018

Melody's Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage

Our executive board has decided that the best way to kick off this week is with the broadly-conceived and joyfully performed psychedelic pop of Bon Voyage.  And while we don't actually get to say goodbye to anyone and travel to a better destination than our offices, this delightful album gives our minds and hearts a chance to explore and soar.  The seven inventive creations are the work of Melody Prochet, recording as Melody's Echo Chamber.  Prochet suffered a near fatal accident a couple of years ago, which delayed the release of Bon Voyage.  Her return with this album works well as a celebration of her return to health.  But more than that, it seems to reflect a new-found freedom to experiment without boundaries or expectations, because who knows what tomorrow will bring -- or whether tomorrow will even come.  This is an album of colorful textures and broad influences, superbly produced and performed with conviction and heart.  Happy Monday!

Bandcamp for Bon Voyage

Friday, July 6, 2018

Boyracer - Fling Yr Bonnet Over The Windmill

Boyracer doesn't make music that sneaks up on you.  Their music enters your cranium at warp speed, with punk ferocity and a dense, fuzzy wrapper around a tight little pop filling in the center.  And then just as your pleasure sensors are rocking out, the song takes a quick bow and the next one leaps in.  The band have been at it for a long time, with a numerous and changing cast of musicians, multiple labels, and several different locales -- including their original base in the UK and main Boyracer Stewart Anderson's current home in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Between 1993 and 1994 the band released three EPs via Sarah Records, EPs fans assumed were lost in the mists of time.  But such assumptions didn't account for the combined effects of modern technology and Stewart's psychological condition known as ABRM (or, Always Be Releasing Music).  So Emotional Response Records, run by Stewart and his spouse, Jen Turrell (also a Boyracer alum), has combined the three EPs into Fling Yr Bonnet Over The Windmill.  This is classic stuff, with 15 tracks of rough-edged punk rock perfection.  And in addition to being thoroughly exciting, we think it is an important take on pop music that earns the right to reach a new set of years (and old ears as well).  Concision is the order of the day -- I think only one track exceeds three minutes and I'm surprised that Stewart didn't break it up into "part 1" and "part 2" -- but with the energy packed in each track, the run times are exactly right.

Fling Yr Bonnet Over The Windmill is available in digital and vinyl formats.  See the Bandcamp link below.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Essex Green - Hardly Electronic

Hardly Electronic by The Essex Green teaches certain unassailable truths.  One truth is that male/female vocals, in any combination or sequence, add depth and interest.  A second truth is that well-done '60s style pop never really goes out of style.  A third truth is that The Essex Green consists of some very fine songwriters and performers.

The band was formed in the late '90s and were based in Brooklyn for many years, although now are variously located in Vermont and Montana.  They were considered part of the Elephant six scene and shared members with chamber pop band Ladybug Transistor.  Although psychedelia was present in their earlier work, the songs on Hardly Electronic lean more toward folk rock with some chamber pop and country, although they can rock out when they want to (check out "Catatonic" below).  The sound is a layered and fulsome combination of keys and guitars, with well-delivered vocals and a high energy delivery.  This is a band that has matured without getting complacent, and gloriously overcome the hurdles to writing music while living far apart.  If you are looking for a new album for your summer soundtrack, check out the tracks below and stream it in its entirety at the Bandcamp and Soundcloud links.

And that reminds us of a fourth truth, the twelve year wait between the preceding album and Hardly Electronic is far too long to wait.

The Essex Green are Jeff Baron, Sasha Bell, and Chris Ziter.  Hardly Electronic is out now in digital, CD, and vinyl formats via Merge Records.

Bandcamp for Hardly Electronic
The Essex Green on Soundcloud

"Complex"/"Lord of All I Survey" by The Chills

In September, the resurrection chapter of The Chills continues with a new album titled Snow Bound.  The long-running New Zealand guitar pop band, headed by Martin Phillipps, still delivers its now classic guitar pop sound, but the lyrical content confronts the passage of time.  Think of it as summer anthems with an autumnal shading.  Two of the songs, "Complex" and "Lord of All I Survey" are available now as a digital single.  Long live The Chills!

Snow Bound will be released by Fire Records.  The band will be touring New Zealand in September and October.

Fire Records pre-order page for Snow Bound

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

"Self-Destruct Reality" by Jetstream Pony

Jetstream Pony, the only band we follow that is named after a retired racing greyhound, is gracing us with a new self-titled EP next week.  The record will be released on 12" vinyl via Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten.  We haven't heard the EP yet, but if the title track below is any indication, it will be a record to collect.

Discogs page for label