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.

Twitter for Tobias Isaksson
Matinee Recordings page for Images of You

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.


"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.

Bandcamp for Nets
Tenth Court

"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.

Bandcamp for "Around And Down"

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.

Bandcamp for III
Bobo Integral page to order III

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.

Bandcamp for album

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.

Bandcamp for Stay Cool
HHBTM website

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.

Bandcamp for album
Slumberland Records
Various links to buy/stream album