Thursday, August 27, 2020

H.C. McEntire - Eno Axis

We don't listen to southern/country shaded singer songwriters every day (a failing, we know), but when we do we are likely to choose H.C. McEntire. Her voice is an absolute treasure -- clear, expressive, and endowed with incredible range and a tear-inducing ache. But as amply underscored by her new album, Eno Axis, she also is a formidable songwriter, penning songs with emotional depth and vivid imagery. The way we like to enjoy this album is when relaxing outside on the patio at the end of a summer day. We don't skip any songs. They are all more than worthy and we have embedded a few below. The album closer is a jaw-dropping cover of Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy". We haven't streamed it here as yet a further enticement to click on the Bandcamp link and explore this album in more detail.

We would be remiss if we didn't mention that the additional musicians involved in the recording process illustrated McEntire's songs superbly. The players on Eno Axis are H.C McEntire (vocals/guitar), Luke Norton (guitars/keys/backing vocals), Casey Toll (bass), Daniel Faust (drums/percussion), Nathan Bowles (banjo), Allyn Love (pedal steel), Mario Arnez (backing vocals), and Justin Morris (backing vocals).

The album is out now in digital, vinyl and CD formats via Merge Records.

Bandcamp for Eno Axis
Various links for Eno Axis

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Pop Filter - Banksia

In one sense we wouldn't be wrong calling Pop Filter a Melbourne super group. We weren't alone in regarding The Ocean Party as one of the top guitar bands of the last decade, and five of that band's members comprise 5/6ths of Pop Filter. The sixth member is Nick Kearton of Cool Sounds, which certainly doesn't lessen the collective CV. But this collective isn't looking for Lear Jets, stadium tours or MTV gigs, but rather the continued friendship and connection they have achieved via music from their teens to present day, the dawn of their 30s. Continuing as The Ocean Party was not considered an option after the 2018 death of member Zac Denton, but neither was ceasing to celebrate their friendship via music.

The first full length transcript of the new band is Banksia, 12 songs recorded in four days as six songwriters fleshed out the two songs each brought to the session (yes, children, you can be assigned homework even in your 30s). It is a new chapter for the musicians - and for the fans as well, because these guys aren't the same guys they were a decade ago. They don't write the same songs, they don't live their lives the same way, they think about different things, and maybe think differently about things they thought about before. But what endures is top quality songwriting and collective performances reflecting genuine connection and generosity in supporting one's mates. The result is one of the top guitar pop albums of the season.

Banksia is out now via Osborne Again Records, Spunk Records, and Bobo Integral Records.

Osborne Again
Spunk Records
Bobo Integral Records
Bandcamp for Banksia

Monday, August 24, 2020

Special Moves - Little Help

We aren't surprised because a lot of good DIY pop has come out of Olympia, Washington since the '60s, but Little Help by Special Moves has really caught our attention. With the fuzz, jangle, melody and raw edges that remind us of Olympia favorites past as well as Guided By Voices and Cleaners From Venus, it is the sort of discovery that makes the week feel special. Billed by band originator and main songwriter Josh Hoey as an 'open source' band, the specialty du jour is concise nuggets of melody with a spontaneous live-to-tape vibe. Good stuff at a good price -- treat your ears.

Little Help is out August 28 in digital and CD formats via Jigsaw Records

Bandcamp for album