Tuesday, June 25, 2019

St. Christopher Medal - Hoof!


St. Christopher Medal is a new old band.  Under that name, they began recording quite recently.  However, four of the five members comprised Life With Nixon, a Scottish band that ended its run in the '90s.  It seems that friendship and a love of music have a glue-like property, so the world of music now has St. Christopher Medal and St. Christopher Medal have a new album titled Hoof!  Perhaps surprisingly given the scattered UK location of most of the band (one of the members now resides in the US), the dominant flavors here are country rock and Americana.  But Hoof! also happens to be one of the finest country rock and Americana albums we have heard in a very long time.  The songwriting reflects experience, perspective and a keen observational eye.  Similarly, the performances are of the sort one can only expect of performers with years of experience and familiarity with each other.  The songs are warm, reflective, melodic, and richly detailed.  For those of us no longer in our 20s or 30s, this album is life set to music, and it makes a strong case for a place on our essential playlist.

We embedded a few of our favorites below, but it hurt to not include more, including the lovely "Diablo", "Baseball Jacket" and "The Desert Wind And The Jazz Wolf".  Suffice it to say that if you don't choose to listen to the entire album, you are cheating yourself.  Visit the Bandcamp link below; you can thank us later.

St. Christopher Medal are Ali Mathieson, Kenny Mathieson, Billy Nisbet, David Mack, and Andy Jeffries, with additional contributions by Liam Cassidy and Steph Fraser.  Hoof! is out now in CD, vinyl, and digital formats via Stereogram Recordings.










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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Terror of the Deep - The A-Team

Regular readers of this blog will be shocked to know that we found another worthy guitar band.  Absolutely shocked!  Well, not really because we are always on the lookout for talent in the Southern Hemisphere, and we often find it.  This discovery is Wellington band Terror of the Deep, purveyors of brightly colored, hook-filled guitar pop as presented in their new album, The A-Team.  The arrangements are part garage, part dream pop with a few psychedelic bits as well.  There is just enough of the past NZ guitar pop heroes to remind you that there is a rich history behind these guys, but plenty of personality unique to this band.  The players are highly adept, and meld well together, and the songs are invariably interesting and melodic.  Try a few tracks below, and if you like them, buy them, because this album follows their second album by four years, so you can't expect to sleep on The A-Team and catch the next one soon.  Of course, you shouldn't want to sleep on this album, it is a cracker, and at $7, it is an bargain.

Terror of the Deep is Oliver Dixon (guitar/vocals/drums), Taip Adams (bass/vocals), William Daymond (drums/vocals/guitar), and Thomas Watson (keys/vocals).  The A Team is out now as a digital release. See the Bandcamp link below.  And we want to thank the wonderful PopLib blog from Dunedin, NZ (link) for alerting us to this band.








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"Sun In My Eyes (feat. Pernilla Andersson)" by The Legends

It has been a while since we heard from Swedish synth pop legend Johan Angergard, who is, in fact, The Legends.  But we recently were alerted to his new single "Sun In My Eyes", featuring vocals by singer and producer Pernilla Andersson.  Since the song is making our day better, we think is is fair to make your day better as well, so here it is:




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Various links for "Sun In My Eyes"
Pernilla Andersson Website
Labrador Records

Friday, June 21, 2019

Azure Blue - Images of You

It is overcast and a bit dreary outside of WYMA World Headquarters this morning, but the atmosphere inside is warm and sunny thanks to Tobias Isaksson.  You see, Mr. Isaksson is Azure Blue, and under that name he creates the kind of synth pop music that elicits sighs and smiles, incites romance, and paints the listener's world with optimism.  For his new album, Images of You, Tobias wields his synths like a great sushi chef making the perfect cut, a pulse here, a swooping chord there, and layers of bright musical joy transporting us to the sky.  He can provide romanticism with soft, lush subtlety, such as in "Running with the Eventide", or with reckless abandon such as in "Wild for the Night".  Either way, based on our experiments undertaken selflessly to improve your musical enjoyment, clothing may end up scattered on the floor.  Yes, we sacrificed and you are quite welcome.  Highlight songs abound, although our current favorites -- in addition to the two baby-makers above -- are "Even Horizon", "Millions of Stars" and "Shine On".  End your week on a high note with Images of You.

Images of You is out now via Matinee Recordings in North and South America and Hybris in the rest of the world.



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Thursday, June 20, 2019

"A Downpour" by Errant Boy (free song)

One of our favorite albums last year was Memory Fractures by Edinburgh's Errant Boy (link to our feature).  Happily, we have a new reason to remind to of that release because the band now offers a free download of "Downpour", one of the LP's fine songs and an accompanying video of the band performing it.  Yes, they stimulate two of your senses -- sight and hearing -- free.  Actually, if you are sufficiently clever and coordinated, you can stimulate "touch" as well by hitting the download arrow on the Soundcloud link.

"Downpour" is one of frontman Sean Ormsby's ace autobiographical vignettes, decorated with a bouncing rhythm and superb Rickenbacker 330 guitar.  Expect to like it. Expect to download it. Expect to consider getting the album.  Life is about seizing the possibilities.

Errant Boy's music is released via associated label Errant Media.  The players are Sean Ormsby (bass/vocals), Chris Harvie (guitar), and Sarrah McLaren (drums).






Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"Jayne" by Studio Electrophonique

Welcome to our new song obsession: "Jayne".  It is 2:46 of musical gold, created by Studio Electrophonique (who probably still is known to his friends and relatives as James Leesley).  Yes, it draws comparisons to Lou Reed, Alex Turner and Richard Hawley, but that is pretty damn good company for a singer songwriter to keep.  In fact, young James already has been a support act for Hawley.

The single will be released as a digital download on July 5 via Violette Records, but we couldn't wait any longer to share it with our readers.  "Jayne" also will be the opening track of Studio Electrophonique's September EP, Buxton Palace Hotel.





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"Nets" by Sachet

The inbox recently was invaded by "Nets", a new single by Sachet.  And we have deemed it very worthy of our readers' ears.  The band includes Lani Crooks and Sam Wilkinson of our old musical friends Day Ravies.  The other members are Nick Webb and Chris Anstis.  Apparently we have to wait until September for their next album, to be released by Tenth Court.  But for now this robust slice of guitar pop will do just fine.  And if you want more of Sachet, check out our feature for their 2017 album: Link.



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"Around and Down" by Cool Sounds


If we weren't more secure in our own skins we might envy Cool Sounds.  This Melbourne band makes impossibly jaunty songs that sound effortless and breezy.  But despite the quality of their new single, our self-esteem is (mostly) intact, so we present to you "Around and Down".  It has bounce, it has strut, and it has a great chorus.  It really is a complete package of a song.  We wish we had done it, but we are OK. Really, just fine.

"Around and Down" is out now as a digital download via Osborne Again Music.




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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Butcher the Bar - III


As promised, here is the second indie pop treat of the day, III by Butcher the Bar.  The Manchester project emerged over a decade ago as the solo musical act of Joel Nicholson, but has now become a five-piece consisting of Joel, Peet Earnshaw, Matt Grayson, Andrew Cheetham, and Gavin Clarke.  The songs for III were recorded several years ago, and were the first tracks laid down by the expanded band.  We don't know why the songs have not been released before now, but lack of quality definitely is not a factor.  The songs have a breezy, weightless feel with strong melodies.  Additional details such as keys and strings augment the compositions but never detract.  Comparisons to The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Being There (our of our favorite UK bands from earlier this decade) and power pop acts such as Teenage Fanclub, Big Star and Brendan Benson are apt, but none of them are a dead hit because Butcher the Bar have evolved their own appealing style.  These songs are sweet and gentle in tone, but fully formed and perfectly fleshed out in execution.  We have embedded a few gems below, but you really owe it to yourself to try out the whole album.  And to encourage you to do so we have left out "Agree" and "Go", which are two of the highlights of an album full of highlights.

III is out now in digital and vinyl formats via Spanish label Bobo Integral.







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Alpine Subs - Alpine Subs


Oh, this will be a good day for guitar pop fans, as we intend to feature two albums and a few singles between now and when we sign off for the day.  The first is the self-titled band by Chicago's Alpine Subs.  Yes, we know that the name can refer to a venerated line of subwoofers or a popular sandwich shop.  But it also has been adopted by a group of Midwestern musicians that create a sunny brand of '60s-shaded guitar pop that is tailor made for your summer needs.  Psych-jangle, robust basslines and cheery harmonies abound, and the melodies are soar and explode into bright colors.  And for listeners that want to relax in the shade with a gin and tonic, Alpine Subs also contains some dreamy and relaxed tunes such as"If For My Eyes" and "More Than Love".  We started listening to this album a couple of days ago, but it how holds a place on our 'essential summer 2019 playlist'.

Alpine Subs are Will Goodspeed (vocals/guitar), Pat Loveless (guitar), Carrie Roche (vocals/keys/percussion), Brendan Taylor (bass), Benji Feldheim (drums), and Connor McDougal (percussion).  The album is out now in digital and CD formats via Subjangle Records.  See the Bandcamp link below.










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Monday, June 17, 2019

Rat Fancy - Stay Cool


On Stay Cool Southern California's Rat Fancy cooks up a heady stew of punk, fuzz and power pop.  Diana Barraza's vocals cool, tease and snarl in the fashion of the best female frontwomen of '90s rock.  The arrangements are beefy and uptempo -- unapologetic rock you can feel reverberating in your torso -- while your brain thrills to the pop hooks.  The themes are wide-ranging, and the lyrics more sensitive than you might expect given the style.  Give this album a chance.  All it took was on listen to convince us that it had a place in our collection.

In addition to Diana Barraza (guitar/vocals), Rat Fancy includes Gregory Johnson (guitar/various), Matt Sturgis (drums), and Dan Fernandez (bass).  Stay Cool is out now in digital, vinyl and cassette formats via HHBTM and Solidarity Club Records.






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Jeanines - Jeanines

The old saying is that good things come in small packages.  Like many sayings, it is true until it isn't, which is another way of saying that you only use it when it fits.  But for this album, it fits perfectly.  The songs are brief, the band only has two members, and even the name of the band is just one word.  But on their self-titled album, Brooklyn duo Jeaninies deliver concise bundles of jangling energy that contain a positive charge well above their run time.  Frontwoman Alicia Jeanine (guitar/vocals) multi-tracks her vocals, delivering delicious harmonies, and Jed Smith (bass/drums) infuses bounce and punch.  The melodies are perfect pop sugar, and the themes are melancholic with a dose of sunshine -- delivered with a direct and sincere lyricism.

The songs on Jeanines invite references to bands in the C86 spectrum, and more broadly bands such as Television Personalities, Veronica Falls and Real Numbers and the rosters of labels such as Sarah, Cloudberry, and Slumberland, which is the proud label for this release.  And the references are many because the band adeptly covers a broad range of jangle pop styles from Heavenly to Shop Assistants (albeit without the switchblade in the pocket).  There is no doubt that this album will be among the jangle pop albums of the year.

Jeanines is out now in vinyl, digital and CD formats via Slumberland Records.










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Various links to buy/stream album

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Catherines


The Catherines - our favorite German indie pop band - have released another perhaps-but-not-likely-true story of their love lives.  The two tracks are "I Can't Believe You Leave Me For That Dumbo" and "Fumbleknob".  The former is lush chamber pop, the latter is classic scrappy indie pop, but both are worth your time.

The hyper-prolific duo of Sandra Ost and Heiko Schneider comprise The Catherines.


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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Azure Blue - Millions of Stars (single)

Soon, Swedish synth pop master Azure Blue will release new album Images of You.  But that feature is a few days away, so we thought it might be useful, or at the least, highly pleasurable, to feature the band's two-track single Millions Of Stars.  The second and final single taken from the upcoming album, it features "Millions Of Stars" and album closer, "The Rose".  This artist's music invariably radiates romance and positive vibes, making it part of your essential soundtrack.

Azure Blue is Tobias Isaksson.  This record is available as a digital download via Matinee Recordings.



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Matinee Recordings page for single

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Stroppies - Whoosh

Our dictionary suggests that "stroppy" means touchy or belligerent. We don't know if the name chosen by The Stroppies is intended to invoke that definition, but we think that it is unlikely to fit.  We find Whoosh, the Melbourne quartet's new album, to be a good-natured gem and easily one of our favorite albums of the year so far.  Of course, given the fine album the band released in late 2017 (link), we had high expectations.  And our expectations were exceeded nevertheless.  The songs on Whoosh ramble and jangle over muscular grooves with a strong but quirky sense of storytelling.  The band have pumped up the production values for this album but managed to retain an appealing immediacy and live show vibe.  While the album title suggests impermanence, these songs are anything but.  They seep further into our consciousness with every replay of the album.  And the album is replayed frequently here, with no song ever skipped.  In fact lately we've used Whoosh as a bit of a palate cleanser in between evaluating other albums.  We will listen to an album and say, "that was nice", and then play Whoosh before going to the next one.

While some writers have tried to lay the Flying Nun guitar pop mantle on The Stroppies' shoulders, it seems to us that such a comparison is unfairly narrow.  This is music that reflects AM radio guitar pop, Pavement slacker, the rambunctiousness of The Feelies as well as '80s NZ and 2010's Melbourne guitar bands.  Australia is regarded as a key standard bearer for the guitar pop flag in this decade, and Whoosh is a perfect example of why the reputation is justly earned..

The Stroppies are Angus Lord, Caudia Serfaty, Rory Heane, and Adam Hewitt.











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"I Feel Like" by Johnny Kills

Wednesday - the day far enough from last weekend to blunt the good times and far enough from next weekend to offer little hope.  What we needed was a jolt of raucous energy.  Enter "I Feel Like" by UK trio Johnny Kills.  The song addresses the protagonist coming to terms with an important stage of growing up, but it helps us come to terms with Wednesday.  For four minutes, all is well.  Looking at the clock, we hit 'replay'.

Johnny Kills are Tim Lloyd-Kinnings, Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings, and Cameron Gipp.  "I Feel Like" is a digital release via Killing Moon.



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Various links to purchase/stream "I Feel Like"


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Wildhoney - Naive Castle 7"

And here is another fine 7" to be released this month as part of Slumberland Records' singles subscription series.  This record is Naive Castle by Baltimore to Los Angeles band Wildhoney.  The title track is a soaring, spacious dream pop tune with chiming guitars, a relaxed tempo, and ambient accents.  The B-side is a special treat, as the band puts a dreamy veneer on Sixpence None The Richer's "Kiss Me" with notes of resignation and weariness -- completely captivating take on a favorite pop standard.

Wildhoney are Alan, Joe, Lauren, Nathan, and Zach.





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Smiles - Gone For Good 7"

Did you know that the venerable Slumberland Records has a singles program?  We think it is something you should know, and we apologize for not mentioning it sooner.  However, to take some pressure off of ourselves, all indie fans should sign up for missives from this label, because their entire catalog is quality.

Today we will highlight two of the singles that will be released later this month.  Our first candidate is Gone For Good, a two-song seven inch by Smiles.  The title track reminds us of a slow-tempo masterpiece by Teenage Fanclub.  The B-side is "This Boy", which has a dreamy and lush singer-songwriter vibe.  We would tell you something about the band if we had any information, but we couldn't find any active social media accounts and the label concisely informs us that they are from the San Francisco Bay area.

Gone For Good will be released in vinyl and digital formats.  Get it and your summer soundtrack will be greatly enriched.



Bandcamp page for single
Slumberland Records page for single
Slumberland Records page for singles subscription series

Monday, June 10, 2019

"Want God" by St. Martins

"Want God" is our introduction to the woozy melodicism of Scottish duo St. Martiins.  We think we will hear a lot more from them.

St. Martiins are Katie Lynch and Mark Johnston. The single is available as a digital download via LAB Records.



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"What You Deserve" by 11


We like starting the week with a smile on our faces, and "What You Deserve" does that in fine fashion.  A bit of soul, a bit of rap, a bit of jazz, and a bit of electro pop, and three minutes of pure enjoyment.  The artist is 11, a duo consisting of James Lamb and Richard Craker.  Originally from London, they have decamped to sunny Los Angeles.  The single is available as a digital download, check your preferred source.




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Friday, June 7, 2019

The Royal Landscaping Society - Goodbye


The Royal Landscaping Society is a Spanish duo consisting of Cris Romero (vocals/guitar/synths/electronics) and David Vidal (bass/synths).  Despite the name of the band, don't expect them to cut your lawn or trim your hedge.  However you can count on them to deliver some sweet pop music.  Our exposure to their art so far has been via songs on compilations (although they did release a self-titled album in 2014)  But now we have Goodbye -- a two-song digital single released by Matinee Recordings.  The lovely title track is embedded below.  The B-side is "A To Fade In", and while we don't have a stream for you, we assure you that for our ears, this single is a double A-side.



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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Monnone Alone - Summer of the Mosquito

Today's second feature is Summer of the Mosquito by Mannone Alone.  The band is the not really solo project of Mark Mannone of The Lucksmiths.  We gave you a taste of it a month ago with a feature of a two-song single headlined by this album's naughty closing track (link).  But now you have the full summer celebration -- a noisy power pop and classic rock tribute to summertime fun, frolic, foibles and memories.  Riffs, hooks and harmonies abound, and everyone -- both in the band and in the audience -- should be smiling throughout.  This may just be your summer power pop album of choice.

Monnone Alone is Mark Monnone (vocals/guitar) Gus Franklin (drums/backing vocals), Joe Foley (bass/backing vocals), and Louis Richter (12-string guitar).  We have provided links below for sourcing the album from the US, Australia, Spain, and Finland.








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Bandcamp for album (Emotional Response Records/US)
Bandcamp for album (Lost and LonesomeRecording Co/Aus)
Bandcamp for Album (Meritorio Records/Spain)
Royal Mint Records

Seablite - Grass Stains & Novocaine

The focus for today's first feature is Grass Stains & Novocaine, the first full length album by the Bay Area's Seablite.  Your ears will identify touchstones such as C86, shoegaze, Sarah Records, '80s Glasgow.  We expect that any competent group of musicians can work with those ingredients, but it takes rarer skill and true inspiration to mesh them into a set of songs like these.  Fuzz, feedback, chiming guitars, melody and hooks swirl through the arrangements with a concise urgency while the dual female vocals float and tease.  Our favorites change each time we run through the album.  Currently we are especially taken with "Pillbox" (the best Shop Assistants song that isn't a song by the Shop Assistants that we've heard in a long, long time), "Heart Mountain", the dreamy "(He's A) Vacuum Chamber", the jangling "House of Papercuts", and "I Talk To Frogs".  But how could we omit "Haggard" and "Won't You" -- oh hell, really, every song is just so damn good.

Seablite are Lauren Matsuir (vocals/guitar), Andy Pastalaniec (drums), Galine Tumasyan (bass/vocals), and Jen Mundy (guitar).  Grass Stains and Novocaine is out Friday, June 7, via Emotional Response Records.





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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Rich Aucoin - Release

As running and cycling enthusiasts, we are inclined to respect Rich Aucoin without regard to his music.  He has toured across North America by bicycle twice for charity, scheduling his shows to accommodate his mode of travel, and has participated in half marathon charity runs as well.  However, our focus here is music, and Aucoin's most recent musical effort has captured our attention.  The 11-track Release is a pop album of impressive breadth, with propulsive rhythms tugging at your dance impulses and pop hooks stimulating your brain.  And it is realized in vivid colors and sparkling details.  The arrangements are spacious and dynamic, embracing changes in tempo and volume, and allowing pauses to embellish the hooks.  The compositions are thoughtful and fully formed, but there is nothing precious or fragile in Release.  This is an album bursting with energy and purpose.  Cue it up, expect to be entertained.  You won't be disappointed.

Release is out now via Dine Alone Records.







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Roman Lewis - Heartbreak (For Now) EP

We begin the day playing acoustic-based pop from Roman Lewis.  The young UK musician has a knack for writing a good tune and delivers his songs with charm and conviction.  His Heartbreak (For Now) EP is available, and he plans a second EP later this year.  We think his talents show best on the more upbeat tracks, but the entire EP is worth your ears.





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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Wrest - Coward Of Us All


Coward Of Us All is the debut album by Edinburgh's Wrest.  Featuring widescreen, atmospheric arrangements, soaring guitars and raw, incisive, and emotion-packed lyrics, it is a fine addition to the sort of melodic alternative rock that the Scots have done so well this century.  Our first exposure to the band was via album single "Human", the excellence of which prompted us to seek out further singles "Adventurers" and "Hope Springs".  By that point, we counted ourselves as fans and dove more deeply into the entire album.  We are happy to report that the rewards for the listener are rich and plentiful.  The sound is full, and the rhythm section robust.  The songs are well-crafted and thoughtfully performed.  This is a rock album with plenty of warmth, heart and charm, and it makes our day better every time we play it.

Wrest are Stewart Douglas (lead vocals/guitar), Stephen Whipp (vocals/guitar), Craig Robertson (bass) and, now, Jonny Tait (drums), although for the recording session John Alexander provided the drumming. Coward Of Us All is out now in digital and CD formats.







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Monday, June 3, 2019

Tennis Club - Pink

Monday mornings can be a bit delicate around WYMA headquarters. so the choice of the office soundtrack typically involves convoluted negotiations (bribery is not unknown).  However, today we quickly settles on Pink.  Of course, pink is a color, but we are referring to an nine-song gem by Joplin, Missouri trio Tennis Club.  This is fresh-faced, straight ahead garage rock with a substantial vein of surf rock.  A totally great listen that demands repeats, we encourage you to give it a chance.  If it was a stray dog and it followed you home, you would ask your parents to let you keep it.  But you are an adult with money -- you don't need to ask anyone, and it is only five dollars.

Tennis Club are Wilson Hernandez (guitar), Sean O'Dell (drums), and Tehya Deardorff (bass).  Pink is out now via Elefant Records'







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Friday, May 31, 2019

Sacred Paws - Run Around The Sun

We aren't habitually demanding.  But we believe that we, and our readers, deserve at least one new album for each weekend that will make them happy.  Is that too much to ask for?  We don't think so.  And fortunately for us (not to mention salvaging the theme of this feature), Glasgow-based Sacred Paws agrees with us.  Run Around The Sun, their second LP, arrived today, and it is an adorable package of intertwined vocals, clever melodies, solid rhythms by Eilidh Rodgers, and really, really superb highlife-influenced guitar by Rachel Aggs.  Relentlessly upbeat, fast-paced, and even employing horns and keys on several tracks, these songs banish every negative thought that has invaded our consciousness.  This is music in bright colors and bold textures, but delivered with a light, nuanced touch.  Rachel and Eilidh both are or have been members of other bands that we have covered (e.g. Shopping and Golden Girrrls), but in our view this collaboration clicks like few bands we have covered.  The songwriting is top shelf, the performance chemistry is polished, and the energy and conviction in the songs is palpable.  The result is in the music, and this will be one of our favorite albums of this year.

Run Around The Sun is out now via Merge Records in North America and Rock Action Records in the UK/Europe.












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Various links to stream/purchase Run Around The Sun

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Verlaines - Dunedin Spleen

As you would expect, the guy who writes a music blog frequently adds and deletes albums from the playlists on his computer and phone.  But there are several albums that are always available to me at home and elsewhere  Two of them are Hallelujah All the Way Home and Juvenillia, two mid-'80s records by New Zealand band The Verlaines, and a third is the Dunedin Double compilation which included a few songs by that band.  It was vital music for me then, and it still speaks to me.  But I also am aware that The Verlaines frontman Graeme Downes, who is a professor in the School of Performing Arts at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, has kept the project alive all the intervening years, and recently released the band's tenth LP, Dunedin Spleen.  And in case anyone was wondering, the album proves that the band is no nostalgia act. The Verlaines of 2019 remain as vital and focused as ever.  As a songwriter and performer Dowes has a broad range, encompassing acerbic social/political commentary as well as softer musings, expressed in poetic lyrics.  The arrangements are varied and textured with melody always a primary consideration.  And with 19 tracks of well-crafted songs, it is a generous record as well.  The Verlaines aren't definably punk rock, indie rock or art rock, but Dunedin Spleen embodies the spirit of all three in the best way possible.

For Dunedin Spleen The Verlaines are Graeme Downes, Stephen Small, Darren Stedman, Rob Burns,and Tom Healy. Libby Hamilton and Shayne Carter provided some background vocals.  The album is out now as a digital release -- see the Bandcamp link below.










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L'Eclair - Sauropoda

Sauropoda boast deep grooves, multi-layered atmospherics, and an appealing playfulness.  It most likely sounds like nothing else you are listening to, but we strongly urge you to regard its distinctive nature as a feature, not a bug.  The music audaciously melds funk, dance grooves and chillwave electronica into a late-night summer soundtrack. Cue it up, wiggle your hips, move your feet, and let that smile show itself to your world.  This little delight -- five tracks in under 38 minutes -- is the creation of Geneva, Switzerland's L'Eclair.  Frankly, we knew nothing about this band until a few days ago, but they now are on the list elegantly titled "listen to anything they send us from these guys".  And since the Sauropoda was largely recorded live with few overdubs, you can treat it as your own private concert from the band.

L'Eclair are Sebastien Bui, Elie Ghersinu, Stefan Lilov, Yavor Lilov, Quentin Pilet, Alain Sandri, and DJ Laxxiste.  Sauropoda is out now via Bongo Joe Records.





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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

"Drop" by Locked Hands

One of those labels that we think everyone should pay attention to even though many don't is Errant Media.  The Edinburgh label's roster includes Errant Boy, Shards, and Stephen McLaren.  And now one of the founders is recording and performing as Locked Hands.   Here is his fine new song, "Drop", which is available as a free download.




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Death & Vanilla - Are You A Dreamer?

Sweden's Death and Vanilla are masters of lush, baroque, psychedelic electro pop.  They artfully craft music that manages to simultaneously be peaceful and melancholy while still sparkling.  And then there is that other quality from time to time -- the sense that you are listening to the music on a film soundtrack that lulls the viewer into a sense that all is well just before something frightening and dreadful happens.  Of course, the frightening and dreadful never comes on a Death and Vanilla album, but the sense that it could just adds depth to the listening experience.

The trio's new album, and their third overall, is Are You A Dreamer?, the star of the recording is the atmosphere.  Constructed of synths, guitar, bass and soft vocals, all meshed together seamlessly, this is music that envelopes the listener. The pace is unhurried, and the songs build and develop, at times in unexpected ways.  This is an album full of delights that will reward any listener.

Death and Vanilla are Marleen Nilsson, Magnus Bodin and Andres Hansson, with Mans Wikenmo on drums.  Are You a Dreamer? is out now in all formats via Fire Records.







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Monday, May 27, 2019

The Pinheads - Is This Real

No gimmicks, no gloss, just pure, direct rock and roll.  That is Is This Real, and it is wonderful.  We just finished a fine three-day holiday weekend with good weather, outdoor entertaining, floating on the lake in the WYMA yacht (all 21 feet of it), and our soundtrack was this album.  The creation of Wollongong, Australian five-piece The Pinheads, it is the sort of album that would have made reputations and filled stadiums in the '70s.  The music consumption world has changed, so that likely won't happen for these lads, but the quality and energy should earn them your ears nonetheless.

This music has grunge, grit and riffage, to be sure, and the pace is fast nearly throughout.  But the band has something to say and varies the dynamics as needed to deliver a lyrical or melodic point.  Listeners will take from the music what they will, but this album that reminds us of our youth, and these days that is a valued result indeed.

Is This Real is out now via Farmer & Owl.








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Saturday, May 25, 2019

"Outdoors" by Surf Friends

Brad Coley and Peter Westmoreland are surfing friends.  More precisely they are Surf Friends, an New Zealand duo that updates the California surf sound with some sampling and programming to go along with the guitar.  They are helping us welcome summer with their new single "Outdoors".  And this is a good time to tell you that the single is taken from their upcoming album, Doing Your Thing, which will be released via Flying Nun Records.  Enjoy the video for "Outdoors" below.





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Friday, May 24, 2019

"Easy" by Subshine


Ole Gunnar Gundersen's musical reputation was originally attributable to his role as frontman for the band Lorraine.  Now working as a solo artist under the name Subshine, he will release his debut album, Easy Window, next month.  Inspired by the Norwegian landscape and crafted with vintage synthesizers, it promises to be inspiring music.  But you don't have to wait another couple of weeks to get a hint, because a lyric video for album track "Easy" is available right here, right now.  Enjoy!

Easy Window will be released on June 7 via Apollon Records.




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Gisli - The Skeleton Crew

We had a publication schedule for the weekend, and The Skeleton Crew wasn't on it.  But we gave the album a spin last night after discovering it in our Thursday mail.  One listen and our schedule was rearranged to give some time for this charming release.  The album is a new solo effort by Gísli Kjaran Kristjánsson, who records under the simple GisliGisli's career has taken him from Iceland to Norway, Los Angeles and London, and now back to Iceland, and has included performing with a band, producing and writing for other artists, collaboration with Norway's William Hut, and solo work -- although his last solo album was 15 years ago.

The Skeleton Crew consists of eight tracks, divided between rousing rockers like "Tidal Wave", "Your Personal Hell", and "Out Of Control", and Americana-shaded "Sweet Surrender" and "Mechanical Birds On The Wire".  Each song seems perfectly formed and reflects the artist's complete comfort in expressing himself musically in any style.  The lyrics are high in the mix and are worth your attention.  We loved the album at first listen, but we like it even better with each repeated play (and I think we are up to five this morning already).

By the way, the title reflects Gisli's decision to handle nearly all instruments, programming and vocals himself, with a bit of violin and backing vocals from partner Eliza Newman and some spontaneous percussion by their five year old daughter Salka.

This gem of an album is out today, look for it at your preferred digital outlet.







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Thursday, May 23, 2019

"Rock Paper Scissors" by Lemonade Kid

Here is some wonderfully dirty electro rock from Lemonade Kid.  The base track is "Rock Paper Scissors", but the record includes three diverse remixes.  It is late at night and I can't stop playing it.  I'm going to be a bit tired at my desk in the morning.

Lemonade Kid is Dominic Lack.  For "Rock Paper Scissors" he was assisted by Jarrod Jones on bass and guitar.




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No Local - The End Again


One of our favorite albums of the spring has been The End Again by No Local.  The album was created by two members of The Ocean Party, Liam Halliwell (aka Snowy) and Zac Denton, with additional assistance on vocals from Emma Russack, Ashley Bundang, Lauren Huynh, Rea Caldwell, and Sophie Treloar, and some stellar saxophone from Tren Garner.  Sadly, Zac, who also was a member of Ciggie Witch, Pregnancy, and Hobby Farm, passed away subsequent to the recording of the album.

The music is rhythmic, inventive, melodic, and just oddball enough to make the listener believe that they have stumbled on something personal and magical.  Of course, in our view the listener would be correct.  Opening track "The End" begins with a thick, rubbery bass line and then builds with vocals and horns to a shimmering, '80s-style anthem.  In fact, the bass remains prominent throughout the song -- and for most of the album -- which is just another reason we love it.  The shimmer remains as well, but the treats don't end there.  We also have false endings, robot-love dialogue (no, we won't explain, just listen to the album), and lush synths and horns.  "Nothing More To Give", which is the most "Ocean Party" of the songs on the album, probably would win a listeners' vote for the showcase song.  But all ten tracks are prime examples of sharp songwriting and daring performances.  That The End Again has not yet received the press it deserves saddens and surprises us, but you can do your part -- get it and tell a friend.  Better yet, buy a copy for a friend.  You don't want us to think that you don't have friends, do you?

 The End Again is out now via Osborne Again Music, with Arizona's Emotional Response Records handling North American Distribution.  You can get the album in digital format.  Osborne Again Music has sold their vinyl stock, but Emotional Response may still have some copies.








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Slow Pulp - Big Day EP

Are you going to have a big day today?  Perhaps we can help.  Slow Pulp, a Wisconsin band now residing in Chicago, recently released their Big Day EP, and we think that is just the soundtrack for all of us to have a big day.  Melding elements of shoegaze and melodic alt rock, they deliver a full but breezy sound that is undemanding but highly enjoyable.  Check a couple of our favorite tracks below or stream the entire EP at the Soundcloud link or your favorite digital source.

Slow Pulp are Teddy Mathews (drums), Emily Massey (guitar/vocals), Henry Stoehr (guitar) and Alex Leeds (bass).  Big Day EP is out now as a digital release.





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