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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.