Friday, December 4, 2020

Pop Filter - Donkey Gully Road


Is Donkey Gully Road a mystical place, a historic location, or a scenic landmark? Not to our knowledge (although friends and partners might suggest that our knowledge is a low bar to clear). But it is a street in Yapeen, Victoria, Australia on which resides a recording studio at which Pop Filter recorded their second release of 2020, and for which the album was named. And after living a bit with Donkey Gully Road, we now find the name quite significant and very memorable, because the album is both.

In our opinion, the album is significant not just because it is one of the better guitar pop albums our ears have experienced this year, but because it is yet another edition of the consistent output of Melbourne's The Ocean Party turned Pop Filter. And it is memorable both because of the quality of the individual songs and the overall coherence of the album. In this case "coherence" is not meant to suggest homogeneity. With six songwriters contributing material there is ample diversity in style and voice. But with their long friendships and extended period as a band, Pop Filter's ability to work each other's music imbues a kinship to the tracks. We think many bands gauge their work to hit a chord with their audience, which is only natural and to be expected. We get a different vibe from Pop Filter. In their case, it is more like a group of friends who get together to kick the ball around and have small-sided games every weekend. You can watch, and it will please them if their play pleases you, but the game is for them -- for their enjoyment and an expression of their friendship. For our part, we're just happy they record their music. 

It never seems fair to pick songs for a feature of a recording by Pop Filter (or the predecssor The Ocean Party), because all the songs are worthy and two each reflect he songwriting talents of one of the members. We have taken the approach of highlighting different styles rather than rating songs. We submit that you would do yourself a disservice if you didn't click on the Bandcamp link and listen to the entire album. Donkey Gully Road is out now via Spunk Records, Osborne Again, and Bobo Integral.

Bandcamp Donkey Gully Road

Spunk Records page for album

Bobo Integral page for album

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Reds, Pinks & Purples - You Might Be Happy Someday


Infused with melancholy and ambivalence and then gift-wrapped in superb jangling dream pop wrappers, the eight songs comprising You Might Be Happy Someday just may make more than a few year-end indie pop lists. Whether that makes The Reds, Pinks & Purples happy on the given day, we can only speculate. But if you are an indie pop fan shrewd enough to grab this 12", you will be happy and you will be happy now.

The Reds, Pinks & Purples is the home recording project of Glenn Donaldson, whose past projects include the esteemed The Skygreen Leopards and Art Museums. You Might Be Happy Someday is out in vinyl (while it lasts--this is its second pressing) and digital formats via the UK's Tough Love Records. The project also will have a full LP out in the new year via Slumberland Records.

Bandcamp for album

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

KO:MI - We Said We Didn't Know But We Knew


We Said We Didn't Know But We Knew is an exotic but eminently accessible tapestry of Nordic indie folk, electro pop and alternative pop. The creators are Finnish band KO:MI, comprised of  Sanna Komi (vocals, violin, songs and lyrics), with Mikko Joensuu (vocals), Suvi Linnovaara (clarinet and flute), Saara Viika (cello), Markus Perttula (double bass and vocals), and Teemu Tanner (backing vocals). Sanna is also known and respected for her work with Pintandwefall, Kynnet, and Cats of Transnistria, and we have followed her career with interest and pleasure. As KO:MI, she seems especially free to pursue her thematic and musical vision, and has crafted an intellectually intriguing exploration of relationships with the background of a challenging social environment. And the music, well, that is classic Komi, combining traditional and experimental in ways that please the ear and challenge expectations. One moment she is a pop star cooing in your ear, the next moment she is an ambient producer, and the next a choir on Sunday morning. Dazzling and satisfying in equal measure.

We Said We Didn't Know But We Knew is out now via Helsinki's Soliti Music.



Bandcamp for album

Soliti Music page for KO:MI

Monday, November 30, 2020

Josephine Foster - No Harm Done


No Harm Done is a bit outside of our usual lane. But this eight-track musical exploration of love and yearning is utterly enchanting. Written by Josephine Foster and performed by Foster and guitarist Matthew Schneider, this is a spellbinding and utterly captivating record, highlighted by effortlessly melodic, slow-burning compositions and Foster's pristine mezzo-soprano. The vibe recalls old vinyl recordings from many decades ago, like a soundtrack for a black and white movie from the archives. We heartily encourage you to test a few songs below and consider going to Bandcamp an losing yourself in Foster's spell.

No Harm Done is out now in digital, vinyl and CD formats via Fire Records.



Bandcamp for No Harm Done

Fire Records page for Josephine Foster/ 

Neutrals - "Personal Computing" b/w "In The Future"

 What better day to feature a record titled Personal Computing than Cyber Monday? True, people given to overly technical analysis might point out that the release day if four days in the future, but we counter with the arguments that the two songs comprising the single are already available to stream and order on Bandcamp, and the special color of vinyl is already sold out at the pre-order stage (black vinyl remains available). So on balance, Cyber Monday is perfect in our eyes.

This little gem is the creation of  Neutrals, a DIY Oakland punk/post punk trio with Glasgow DNA. The two upbeat song that comprise the single, "Personal Computing" and "In The Future" are at the punk end of the spectrum. But they feature plenty of melody to go with the passion, and the ringing, buzzing guitars are a delight. Perhaps it is audacious to say so, but this single reminds us of The Clash, and that is direct pipeline to our hearts.

The record will be release via Slumberland Records and is, in fact, the final installment of that label's singles series.


Bandcamp for Personal Computing

Slumberland Records page for Personal Computing

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Candy Opera - The Patron Saint of Heartache

We like the name of the band - Candy Opera, and we like the title of the album - The Patron Saint of Heartache. But that doesn't get a band digital ink. What does get a band digital ink is a fine set of songs, and this album fully delivers on the quality scale. Add the fact that the album marks the new chapter of a feel-good resurrection story, and we find ourselves cheering for this lot. 

The short version of the background is that Candy Opera were a promising Liverpool band formed in the early '80s, drawing favorable comparisons to Scotland's Aztec Camera and fellow Liverpudians Echo & the Bunnymen and Pale Fountains. The band went through various lineup changes until they pulled the plug in the early '90s. The story may well have ended there, but Firestation Records found the band's old demos and released them in 2018 via an LP titled 45 Revolutions Per Minute. Candy Opera reformed to support the release, and found their creative juices jump-started. The result is The Patron Saint of Heartache, their first new songs in thirty years. The music is spacious, detailed and big-hearted. It is no surprise that the band's '80s guitar pop sensibilities are evident, but it also isn't a weakness. In our view these songs demonstrate both why Candy Opera was well-regarded in the '80s and why they deserve a play in current day guitar pop.

The members of Candy Opera are Brian Chin Smithers (guitar/vocals), Alan Currie (drums), Frank Mahon (bass), Paul Malone (vocals/guitar), and Ken Moss (guitar). The Patron Saint of Heartache is out now via A Turntable Friend Records.




Bandcamp for The Patron Saint of Heartache