Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Opium Cartel - Valor

The Opium Cartel is the project Norway's Jacob Holm-Lupo uses for his synth pop creations. Their latest LP, the nine-track Valor, is a delightful collage of melodic, electronic delights, and appealing guest vocalists and musicians. The collaborative nature of the album, in addition to Holm-Lupo's own creativity, results in an album that is varied and consistently exciting. While good any time of day, we find it particularly invigorating in our summer mornings.

For this album Holm-Lupo called upon Silje Huleboer, Ole Ovstedal, Bjorn Riis, Lars Fredrik Froislie, Jacob's 13-year old daughter, Ina A, Leah Marcu, Maria Grigoryeva, Ilia Skibinsky, and Alexander Stenerud. Valor is out now in vinyl, digital, and CD formats via Apollon Records

Bandcamp for Valor
Apollon Records

Monday, July 13, 2020

Peel Dream Magazine - Moral Panics EP

Joe Stevens (aka Peel Dream Magazine) dropped a new album earlier this year (our feature here),  so we didn't expect to hear more from him this soon. But apparently the muse that guides him to push the edge of dreampop with his static and drone-draped melodic creations is on its own schedule. The result is the surprise arrival of the six-track Moral Panics EP. The record consists of five new songs and a demo. The EP is a welcome addition to our growing collection of Peel Dream Magazine recordings and has enriched our summer lock-down days. We suggest it will do the same for you.

Bandcamp for Moral Panics EP

Monday, July 6, 2020

Sea Pinks - Crocuses EP

We can be sad about Belfast's Neil Brogan calling time on his Sea Pinks project. OK, who are we kidding  -- we are sad. But life is full of starts, stops, and changes in direction. So we sill focus on the positives. First, consider that Sea Pinks released ten albums and three EPs of top quality guitar pop. Second, Neil has left a goodbye present in the form of the Crocuses EP. Eschewing the easy choice of maudlin goodbyes and long endings, the record leaves us with swaggering, upbeat tunes that remind us how good Sea Pinks has treated us for a decade. These tunes are top form British Isles jangle meets California guitar band, which to our ears has always been Neil's sweet spot. In our view, that is the way to say goodbye.

Thanks for the entertainment, gents, and we hope to hear what follows.


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Lucy and the Rats - Got Lucky

Take a dose of  garage plus '60s girl group vocals, an infusion of power pop and a coat of punk pop and what do you have? You have Got Lucky, that's what you have. The sophomore album by Lucy and the Rats consists of 12 songs that frame bittersweet defiance, love and freedom in concisely-written and passionately performed bursts of melody. While we enjoyed the band's debut, it is clear to us that this record confirms an upward trend for the band both in terms of consistency and quality. If you are looking for a fun summer album grab this one and you will be lucky. As for Lucy and the Rats, they didn't get lucky with this album -- they earned it.

Got Lucky is out now. You can get a digital download, order the vinyl via Stardumb Records and Surfin' Ki, or get a CD via Dirty Water Records.

Bandcamp for Got Lucky
Stardumb Records
Surfin' Ki Records
Dirty Water Records

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Muldoons - Made for Each Other

Yesterday's feature celebrated the latest release from good friends who have been together as The Ocean Party and, now, Pop Filter. Continuing with the friendship theme we now bring you Made For Each Other. It feels strange to refer to the album as a debut, because the gentlemen called The Muldoons began playing together in the '90s in Paisley Scotland, both as The Muldoons and as The Church Grims (we may later take a poll as to which name our listeners would have preferred surviving). After putting the project on the shelf to pursue jobs, families and other distractions, they re-combined in 2017 for an intended one-time show. Deciding the magic and motivation had not been exhausted, the band began writing and performing, with the end result now available for our ears.

So, what do we have? Classic Scottish guitar pop melodies with jangling guitars, sturdy rhythms and excellent vocals, all of which is stuff that we love. And in this case, it is done particularly well and the stories are sharply written and delivered with warmth, compassion and humor. But as good as that all is, The Muldoons also possess a secret weapon. Yes, this band adorns their songs with a trumpet. We understand that this sounds like a simple one-instrument addition, but we assure you that it is not. This trumpet acts as an aural punctuation mark for the verses, a booster rocket for the choruses, and just makes everything - which as we said was damn good already - grander.

We have been listening to this album for several weeks, and we can't take it out or rotation. It seems like and old friend and delights our hearts every time we play it. We have no choice -- we are moving it to the list of our favorite albums of the year so far, which means we have to keep playing it to evaluate it with its peers. We are quite happy with how this has turned out. Mark another winner for the Last Night From Glasgow label.

The Muldoons are Gerry Mullen (vocals/guitar), Bobby Corrigan (guitar), Andy McPake (drums), Greg Bolland (trumpet/melodica), and Davy Brook (bass). Made For Each Other is out now via Last Night From Glasgow's Hive subsidiary.

Label page for vinyl version of album

Friday, July 3, 2020

"Big Yellow Van" by Pop Filter

Relatively new Australian project Pop Filter will be known for quality indie pop music. But they also should be known for their enduring friendship over many years, shifting residences and inevitable life events, encompassing The Ocean Party, Pop Filter, and various side projects. "Big Yellow Van" is the latest single taken from their upcoming debut album. No surprise to us, but it is our favorite song this week.

Banksia will be released on August 21 via Spunk Records, Osborne Again and Bobo Integral. We suggest pre-ordering it. If you choose the physical version, perhaps it will be delivered by a big yellow van. While that would be awesome (and if it happens, please snap a photo), you will love the album regardless of the delivery method.

Bandcamp for "Big Yellow Van"
Bandcamp for Banksia

Thursday, July 2, 2020

"Unknown" by Even As We Speak

We are finally in the month in which Even As We Speak will release new LP Adelphi, although the target date is yet three weeks away. However, we can whet our already keep appetites with the video for the latest single taken from the album -- the glorious "Unknown". The song contemplates death and the question of how one will be remembered after life ends. The ultimate question remains unresolved, but the dark subject matter is adorned by a performance and arrangement so beautiful that someone paying no attention to the lyrics might assume they were listening to a wistful love song. But, of course, we expect such heights from this band, and they never let us down.

Adelphi will be released July 24 via Shelflife Records (US) and Discos de Kirlian (Spain).

Shelflife Records' Bandcamp