Turku, Finland's Matti Jasu is a singer songwriter whose tastes seem to run towards the rock end of the spectrum. He intends to release an album later this year, but has shared new single "The Money Pit". A poppy garage rock number with some hints of the '60s and '80s, it should put a bounce in your step for the weekend.
"The Money Pit" is available as a digital download for 'name your price' on Bandcamp.
The best compilations give you good music. But more than that, they give you music that is top drawer, varied, and hard to find -- evidence that the curator put thought and elbow grease into the project, and added value by providing something you couldn't easily find elsewhere. And by those standards, Under The Paving Stones: Flowers in the Dustbin Records 2007-2017 is one of the best compilations. It is a product of the Glasgow label and multimedia collective Flowers in the Dustbin, which has the modest motto: "Be reasonable - demand genius". And living up to its motto, FITD over the last decade has discovered wonderful bands and released thrilling music. Many artists are Scottish, some are English, and the continent is represented as well. Some of these bands haven't released full albums, and albums released by some of them may be hard to find. Fortunately, the label is celebrating their first decade by compiling 21 of songs they have released previously, as well as "Is This Disco" by Hitlist Youth, which we featured recently. The compilation includes three songs of taut post punk from Kick to Kill (who should be kicked for not having managed an album yet). several tracks of surreal indie rock by Mummy Short Arms, two songs by For Abel, including the passionate anthem "For Yorkshire", sweet and upbeat pop by The Deadline Shakes, dreampop from Entheogen, three tracks of some of the best jangle pop/folk rock you've not previously heard by The Echo Session, and many more. (In fact, The Echo Session is one of my favorite bands to have released fewer than a handful of songs - what the hell are they doing with all their time, investment banking?.)
Yes, we have featured a number of these releases over the past decade, but we are truly excited to have them available in a single release. To elaborate on our comment in the first paragraph of this post, this album is one of the essential compilations of this year, perhaps of the decade.
Those of us that love scrappy, punk oriented guitar pop and aren't profiled in one of the songs on How to Socialize & Make Friends. If you are profiled as one of the assholes who have burdened the three women who comprise Camp Cope, you should rethink your life (although you probably won't). The songs crafted for this album by the Melbourne trio are heartfelt and authentic, and performed with passion. Despite the "punk" label, a number of the tracks are mid-tempo with stripped down instrumentation, and their is a bit of folk to the delivery. Perhaps think of it as a feminist Beat Happening. But why speculate? Test out a few songs below, and if they work for you head to the Bandcamp link.
Camp Cope are Georgia Maq (vocals/guitar), Kelly-Dawn Kelso (bass), Sarah Thompson (drums)
I don't know if Tracey Thorn's career arc from Marine Girls, to Everything But The Girl, to solo pop albums, and now to disco diva is logical in any abstract sense, but the quality of the songs on her recently released Record suggest that disco is, if not inevitable, very welcome. Consisting of nine songs, including dancefloor thumpers like "Queen" and "Guitar", bubbling funk of "Sister", and the hazy brooding of "Smoke" and "Go", the album boast an impressive range. My favorites run towards the dance-oriented songs, but your tastes might lead you to the others. The lyrical content focuses on autobiographical musings and social observations about the role of women with goals and ambition, underscoring the artist's intelligence as well as her musical talents. The result is an album with a brain, a heart, and the engine room to move your body. The production is polished and playful, and Thorn's voice is still a commanding instrument. You can stream the album at various digital sources, or at the Soundcloud link below.
Arizona's Fine China is a band that was formed in the late '90s, persevered into this decade (with a hiatus or two and some line-up changes), and continues to provide us with fresh-sounding guitar pop that recalls some of the best of the '80s. On their new album, Not Thrilled, the band offers seemingly effortless earworms that will recall The Smiths, New Order, The Cure and OMD. And while their version of guitar pop wears a Britpop sheen, it has its own quirky charm and never sound imitative.
Fine China is Rob Withem (guitar/vocals), Greg Markov (bass), and Thom Walsh (drums). On their new album Not Thrilled,
For most of us, listening to Kari, the new album by Helsinki's Puunhalaaja, is an exercise in listening to melody, and to the emotion that is ascertainable via melody, tone, phrasing, volume and pace. The impact of the lyrics will only be understandable to listeners who speak Finnish. However, the melodic sense, warmth, and restrained energy evident on this album was more than enough to earn Kari a spot on our pages. With plenty of quieter moments and generous spacing accented by loud-soft dynamics and a few raucous segments, this set of songs will provide rich rewards to the dedicated listener. Subtlety, by definition, doesn't call attention to itself, but searching for your treasure is part of the prize.
Puunhalaaja are Sebastian Forss (guitar, vocals), Aleksi Peltonen (bass), Mikko Sulonen (guitar), and Olli Juvonen (drums). Kari is out now via Soliti Music.
New band alert, this time for Edinburgh four piece indie rock band Cameo Habitat. Admittedly, the internet tubes don't offer much of their music at this point, but the youngsters have uploaded the demo recording of "On the Run", which may or may not be available as a single at this point. There seems to be some real talent here, so enjoy the song and keep an ear out for them.
Cameo Habitat are Bonnie Higgs (drums), Nicolas Mason (guitars), Oskar O'neill (guitars), and Rowan Gallacher (bass/lead vocals).
The long wait for the second album from Scottish indie savants Errant Boy is made even more painful by the quality of the singles they have shared. And because the band in knowing and benevolent, they ease our pain by making the singles available as a free digital download. We are simple people, and we now are happy -- for the moment. So here you can stream and download "We Like You", featuring a bubbling rhythm and an icy guitar jangle. This is just the jaunty single you needed to begin your weekend. Absolutely cooler than cool!
Errant Boy is Sean Ormsby, Chris Harvie, and Sarrah McLaren. Their music is available via Errant Media.
Turku, Finland's The New Tigers consistently deliver playful, colorful guitar pop of the highest order. Their new record, Do Xao, will not be available on April 20, the trio has generously shared album track "Domino". Bright, happy, and even danceable, it is a lovely musical nugget and suggests great things will come in the album.
The New Tigers are Appu Jasu, Janne Kauppinen, and Baltteri Virtanen. Do Xao will be released via Soliti Music.
A bracing blast of sophisticated, mod-styled pop hits your ears with the title song of the two-track The Brilliant Missing Link EP by Paris-based Popincourt. The pace changes for the stylish instrumental B-side, "ImprovISAtion (Part 1, 2 & more)". On this record Popincourt once again shows us why they are a band to watch, and a repeated favorite around WYMA headquarters.
The Brilliant Missing Link EP is available in digital and vinyl formats via Jigsaw Records.
Hey, if any of you are in the Orlando area and see Marc With a C, please tell him he passed the audition. What audition? Well, he sent us a copy of his new album Obscurity some weeks ago, but Marc -- excuse me, Marc With a C -- hadn't been on our musical radar and the press of life prevented us from listening upon receipt. However my unique filing system resulted in the CD still being on my desk last week, so I grabbed it on my way to work and loaded it into the car stereo. It still is in the car stereo, and I'm still listening to it. It turns out that Marc With a C is a very adept pop craftsman, and his album is an engaging selection if intelligent, witty tunes that encompass acoustic, power pop, and several other styles with panache. Enjoy a few of them below, including the Smithereens' style power pop of "Terribly Popular", bitter indie pop "Your Goddamn Birthday", the folk rock "One Of These Are Gonna Be Your Day", and the country ditty "Please Don't Let My Art Die". Any further requirements can be satisfied at the Bandcamp link.
Fire Records is working hard to ensure that the music of Pat Fish, aka The Jazz Butcher, doesn't become lost to new ears (or old fans). We think that this is a divinely endorsed mission, and we encourage you to support it. Last year, the label released a compilation of The Jazz Butcher's first four albums entitled The Wasted Years. They now have followed that with The Violent Years, which brings together albums Fishcoteque, Big Scarey Planet, The Cult of the Basement, and Condition Blue, all of which were released via Creation Records from 1988 to 1991. The Violent Years is available now as a four CD bookback set (20 page booklet) or digital download.
The 42 songs are superbly crafted, and are packed with pop references, social commentary, dark humor, love, loss, and joy. The presentation often jangles and there is a bit of a too-cool-for-school vibe that adds to the outsider atmosphere. But working with various artists, including at time members of Spacemen 3, Suede, Blue Aeroplanes, and the rhythm section from The Weather Prophets, Fish's arrangements are deceptively tight and perfectly proportioned. While the collection could be described as dream pop, the collection includes sufficient examples of jangle pop, drone rock, garage pop, roots rock and country modes to resist any single tag. References could include the The Velvet Underground, The Go-Betweens, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, The Weather Prophets, among many others.
In our opinion, this is an essential guitar pop collection that transcends boundaries of style, geography and era. We've provided multiple samples below, but we strongly encourage you to visit the Bandcamp link and listen to the entire album while waiting for your own physical or digital copy to arrive.
We recently posted the smoldering wonder that is "To The Waves" by London duo Bamboo Smoke. Their music is languid in pace, but also is intimate and soulful. We now can share new song "Bailiff Love", as well as the news that the band has released an EP titled Two Human. The EP consists of three tracks, "Sleepless", "To The Waves", and "Bailiff Love". You can stream all three songs on the band's Soundcloud page or at the link listed at the bottom of this post, and buy the EP at your preferred digital outlet.
Bamboo Smoke are Louise (lyrics, vocals) and Tom (instruments, production).
Wandering the internet and stumbling on to the Swimmers EP by Caroline No is like realizing that you are hungry, 10 miles from home, and you forgot your wallet, and then finding a $20 bill on the ground -- salvation and satisfaction in one, unexpected event. The record consists of six dreamy, lo-fi songs by Melbourne's Caroline Kennedy and friends that manage to be very sweet and satisfying despite their unassuming presentation. The overall impression is of hazy romanticism and emotional exploration, but without drama or anxiety. Take a chance -- discover Caroline No.
Kennedy, whose past projects include Plums and Deadstar wrote all of the songs and created the album art. For this record she is joined by Ian Wadley (drums/bass), Mick Turner (guitar/keys) and Marty Brown (drums on track 4). Mick Turner also produced the album
Scotland is justifiably known for scrappy indie music -- angular, loud, fast and at times a bit in your face. Examples from the past include Josef K, Fire Engines, and Franz Ferdinand. Well, we have a new hero for that space: Stirling, Scotland's well-named Hitlist Youth. Their long-awaited debut single, "Is This Disco", is now available via the choosy curators of musical genius, Glasgow's Flowers In The Dustbin. Get it as a single, or as one of the songs on the upcoming compilation from the the label, Under The Paving Stones.
Hooray! Flower Truck has left some lovely arrangements for us. And this is indeed a special delivery -- all the way from Sydney and everything is as fresh as the day it was shipped. The mostly sunny songs on Mostly Sunny are indie pop with breadth, brains and heart. Some will scratch your jangle pop itch, some with hint at the melancholy art of The Cure. And there is a strong strain of garage rock as well. Yes, indeed, like an expensive floral arrangement there is a lot going on. But the hooks draw your focus, as they should, and then the incredible lushness keeps you in place until the final note. Wait, you say, lush garage pop? That's right, this foursome creates their own tapestry and once you hear it, you wouldn't want it any other way.
We haven't had this much trouble choosing only four representative songs all year, so enjoy the streams below, but then go to Bandcamp and try them all. We have only had this album for a few days, but it has gone from "oh, nice" to "essential listening" to "end of the year favorites list" to "we can't listen only to Flower Truck, can we?"
Flower Truck are Hamish, Charles, Sarah, and Will. Mostly Sunny is out now via Spunk Records.
One of our favorite discoveries of the past year is London's Those Unfortunates. At the end of this month the band will release their new single, which is a two-song record inspired by a BBC documentary filmed at a London bus depot in 1992. The lead track is "John Cronin Is Unwell", and you can stream the first song below. The other track is titled "Lofty and Eastman".
If you want to celebrate public transportation and the people that make it work, or if you just want a good indie pop single, head over to Bandcamp and choose between digital and cassette versions.
OK, indie fans, here is an album to soothe nerves at the end of your work week and give you a boost for the weekend. Dante's I Wear Your Weight With Mine boasts ten folk rock anthems with well-crafted loud/soft dynamics, jangling arrangements, big scale percussion, and Scots-accented vocals. If that sounds more than a little like Midnight Organ Fight era Frightened Rabbit, know that Dante comes by the comparison quite honestly, as FR's Andy Monaghan produced this album for his fellow countrymen. Intimate in tone, grand in scale, and richly adorned in recording, this album crackles with energy, particularly in the soaring choruses. But the excellent presentation would still fall short if not for the superb material -- this is top class songwriting.
I Wear Your Weight With Mine is out now in vinyl, CD and digital formats via Stitch Records.
We liked New Zealand's Wax Chattels even before we heard their latest release from their upcoming debut album. But when we heard the song, and learned that it was an homage to Auckland's best dive bar, we liked them even more. Dive bars are among our favorite locales, only improved when a food truck is parked outside (we may like dive bars, but eating the food is a bridge too far). The song is a surging, slinky post punk romp that I expect will be a real favorite in live shows. And yes, you can almost slip on the spilled beer on the floor.
Wax Chattels are Peter Ruddell, Amanda Cheng, and Tom Leggett, who produce their brand of rock using keys, drums, and bass. The band's self-titled album will be released on May 18 via Flying Nun Records and Captured Tracks.
Our friends La Luz may have left Seattle for Southern California, but we still have a soft spot for their surf guitar inflected rock. Moreover, they haven't completely left the Emerald City as they still release music on local label Hardly Art. The band has shared "California Finally", the second single from their upcoming album, and it suggests that their new environment has spurred continued growth. Take it for a test drive below.
La Luz are Shana Cleveland (guitar), Marian Li Pino (drums), Alice Sandahl (keys), Lena Simon (bass). Floating Features is expected on May 11.
The happy news for us today is that in a bit less than two months we will have a new set of songs from the prolific Melbourne-based New Zealander Sarah Mary Chadwick. But the good news doesn't stop there, because we can share the title track, "Sugar Still Melts In The Rain". We think this album will be Chadwick, her songs, and a piano. Believe us, that is enough, and it will be excellent.
Sugar Still Melts In The Rain will be out May 11 via Rice Is Nice in Australia and New Zealand and Omnian Music Group imprint Sinderlyn in the rest of the world
We have been paying attention to the musical projects of New Jersey's Joseph Black for a number of years, and we are richer for the experience. First with Honeydrum, then Donovan Blank, and now under his own name, he creates melodic, lo-fi gems that never fail to delight us. His new album is Northern Exposure, and it offers a ten-track romp reminiscent of '80s synth pop. The tones are bright, and the music soars with feel-good fervor. If you like synth pop, this album may be your musical find of the week.
Northern Exposure is out now via Chill Mega Chill Records. It is a bargain digital download, but a very small number of cassettes are available as well.
We are starting the week with a dose of aural sunshine from Toronto band Tallies. Formerly known as Thrifty Kids, they recently release new digital single "Mother" via hometown label Hand Drawn Dracula. If you are happy to be alive, this song will confirm your feelings. If you uncertain, this song could be your salvation.
Young Fathers are among the most independent of indie artists. They seemingly ignore commercial pressures and critical expectations and carve their own space in the world of pop music. The Edinburgh trio, Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and Graham 'G' Hastings, create their music with elements from multiple points of the musical compass -- pop, rock, rap, soul even Gospel. The result is unpredictable and exciting, and evinces no fear of how it might be received by critics or listeners. The focus is on what they want to say, not what they think someone else expects them to say. If that makes them unclassifiable, then so much the better. because without expectations and pre-conceived context the listener is forces to truly focus on the content -- incisive lyrics hung from the bones of spare beats.
Their latest album is Cocoa Sugar, 12 tautly-constructed tracks offering both experimental and more traditionally linear songs. The quality is high and consistent, and the performances confident. The band seamlessly combines surreal imagery with rapid-fire verses and sweet, almost euphoric choruses that dispel the tension. I've been a fan since stumbling on their first EPs years ago -- this is their best work yet and probably will be one of my favorite albums this year.
We are here to assure you that life feels so much better with Rituals, the new album by Melbourne's Amaya Laucirica in your ears. Featuring the hooks of your favorite pop band, the lush arrangements of '80s new romantics synth pop with the depth of the Cocteau Twins, and a voice that tells you everything is going to be all right, this is music that invites you to get lost in its swirling wonder and invites you to share its dreamy wonders. And while Amaya's voice may be the most compelling element, the special feeling wouldn't exist without the composers ability to create songs that convey both a sense of space and densely layered sounds. Laucirica has previously released two EPs and three albums, but Rituals is her first international release and it has the feel of the coming out party for a welcome talent. We expect to have our copy in rotation for a long, long time.
Rituals is out now via Opposite Number in most of the world, and Kasumuen in Australia and New Zealand.
Titles? Titles? We don't need no stinking titles! Or such is the thinking of the cool cat behind The Legendary House Cats, John Girgus (Aberdeen). The project produced the wonderful Greatest Blips, Vol. 1 last year (our post here), but John apparently can't avoid composing music, and we are the beneficiaries. So just a few months later we have the maxi-single Untitled. The base track is a soaring, ever-building club track, which is followed by three variations. It is good, fun, and free!
If musical notes and melodies were colors, then listening to Akinetic, by Chicago's In Tall Buildings, is like diving into a three-dimensional painting of bright colors and varied and layered textures. This is music that reaches out to engage you, happy to reveal its wonders and delight you at every twist, turn and change. And it is sublimely structured and executed by an artist who is hyper aware of the breadth of his ideas and the arsenal of tools to express them. With songs like these, he doesn't need to push you into the painting, but rather just give you a look. Your immersion then becomes inevitable.
In Tall Buildings is the project of multi-talented Erik Hall, who recorded this album in his home studio with producer Brian Deck. Akinetic is out now via Western Vinyl.
Our primary job here is to bring to you music we like and deserving of your attention, rather than to help you look cool with your music friends, but sometimes we can't help giving you a tip that should make you the smartest indie pop consumer in the world. And today is such a day. Today is the day we tell you that Melbourne's The Ancients have delivered Frozen Aisle. The album, their fourth, is a masterful example of hooky pop music delivered through a dream pop filter and decorated with psych pop touches. The unease in the lyrics is well-balanced by welcoming arrangements and the precision of the performances. The result is intimate, a bit hazy, and utterly captivating. This is one of our favorite records of the first quarter of 2018. Yes, we like it that much.
The Ancients are Jonathan Michell (guitar/vocals/keys), Georgina Ward (bass), Julian Patterson (drums), Hamish O'Neil (guitar/keys), and Sophie Perillo (keys/vocals). Additionally, Nicole Thibault played trombone on "Frozen Aisle" and "Recluse Grove", and Alanna Lorenzon contributed backing vocals on "Here With My Baby" and "Frozen Aisle". The album is out now via Brisbane's Tenth Court Records.
The Violet Kind are Katya Mansell, Liam Duffy, and Kyle Hamilton. The Glasgow-based trio are honing their pop punk with passion and skill. The world will know soon when EP OXTR is released, but you can sample their art with lead single "Speakeasy". The song addresses issues of consent and the insidious damage of acts that occur unseen, behind walls and doors.