This is not music criticism. On this blog, you will only read about music we like.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
"In Blue Skies" by Cool Sounds
Link to order "In Blue Skies" single
Victorian Slang - By The Light Of The Moon
link). I wanted to hear more from band that made a song like that, and By The Light Of The Moon scratches that itch perfectly with "High Five The Moon" and thirteen other songs. The album is available in digital format on Bandcamp for a mere $5, or in a variety of CD packages (consider the package with the great album from Arizona's Wanda Junes (featured here)).
Bandcamp for By The Light Of The Moon
Link for CD purchase
Link for Emotional Response's offerings
Bandcamp for By The Light Of The Moon
Link for CD purchase
Link for Emotional Response's offerings
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Eureka California - Versus
You might think that a band called Eureka California is from California. You would be wrong. The band is a duo comprised of Jake Ward (vocals/guitar) and Marie Uhler (drums), and they are based in Athens, Georgia. Of course, the location really doesn't matter. What matters is that when is comes to punk pop and '90s influenced noise pop, this band delivers the goods on their new third album, Versus. At times they sound like a fierce four-piece garage band, which certainly is a tribute to Jake's guitar. But it also is a tribute to Marie, whose drumming more than holds its own against the shredding. And when they dial it back and get slow, reflective and acoustic they are just as adept as when they are making four-piece level rock.
Eureka California has always been a good band, but on Versus they have perfected their stripped-down brand of pop punk into a very impressive guitar/drum triumph that may become a permanent resident on your daily playlist. A few streams are provided below, and you can listen to the entire album at the Bandcamp link. Trust me, you'll like it.
Versus was released on March 25 via HHBTM Records, and is available in CD, vinyl, and digital formats.
"Turns To Gold" by Jimi Charles Moody
The perfect venue for listening to "Turns To Gold", the new song from Jimi Charles Moody, would be a beer-soaked roadhouse at the edge of a dusty highway. But rest assured that in our opinion there is no bad venue for listening to it. Check out some more of Jimi's music at the Soundcloud link below, or by entering "Jimi" in this blog's search engine. Get on the Jimi express -- which just may be an old big fin Caddy with red leather seats.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Mark Martyre - Bluebird
Canadian writer and singer songwriter Mark Martyre plays warm, accessible folk music showcasing his gravelly voice and poetic observations. His new album is Bluebird, and we suggest that you check it out. The instrumentation is unfussy, letting the stories hog the spotlight as they should. The pace varies from slow reflections to country-roadhouse jams. And the songs? Well, a case can be made that their value lies in telling you some things about your life in a better way than you can muster on your own. There is a universality to life, love, loss, and redemption that we all experience, but the articulation my be best done by the professionals.
A few of my favorites are below, and you can stream and buy the entire album at the Bandcamp link below.
Bandcamp for Bluebird
Monday, March 28, 2016
"Mi Amor" by Red Sleeping Beauty
In June Swedish electro pop band Red Sleeping Beauty soon will make a welcome return with Kristina, their first album in 19 years. In advance of the release they are offering album track "Mi Amor" as a single. The bright synths and stately percussion underscore a sad song about a long-distance relationship, with lyrics in English and Spanish. "Mi Amor" is available now from Swedish label Labrador. In the US, Shelflife Records is offering the song in vinyl and digital formats. Both labels also will release Kristina.
Red Sleeping Beauty is Kristina Borg, Niklas Angergard, Mikael Matsson, and Carl-Johan Nasstrom.
Shelflife Records page for "Mi Amor"
Friday, March 25, 2016
Through The Sparks - Transindifference
Through The Sparks is an excellent band that makes exciting music, and has done so for over a decade. They aren't from one of the big music capitals of the US, although I've discovered that the Birmingham, Alabama scene deserves far more attention than it receives. I must admit that the band's wonderfully evocative name probably would have prompted me to check them out even without having heard their music. But it was the music I heard first, and I was hooked. Through The Sparks has the sound of a band that has listened to a lot of music by disparate artists, and they find a way to incorporate or reinterpret everything they like into their own sound. And for their latest album, Transindifference, it seems to me that there is a lot of '70s and '80s rock in the DNA. You know, a time when rock bands were happy to be known are rock bands. The album kicks off with the proggy "Execution", then offers "Burning Bush" and "Living Rooms" -- two bits of pop noir perfection that recalls the best of Joe Jackson and David Bowie. "The Roseroom" boasts a cinematic western twang. By the time we're done we've been treated to well-crafted slices of southern rock, psychedelia, indie pop and glam, with soulful vocals and contributions from a large compliment of talented musicians headed by Jody Nelson. The breadth of the music is ambitious, but the band manages it without strain and, I dare say, a certain looseness born of confidence.
My own personal list of top tracks is "Self Immolation", "The Driveway" "Burning Bush", and "Heavy (-30-)". You may or may not agree with my choices, but if you like rock music, you will find favorites on this album.
Transindifference is out now via Communicating Vessels.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Males - None the Wiser
Males are Richard, Sam and Pipsy. Richard, Sam and Pipsy also, individually and collective are males, but we are more focused today on their status as Males. Is that clear?
We have featured this Dunedin, New Zealand guitar pop band several times in the past, always enjoying their energetic take on indie rock. We are featuring them again because they have released album None The Wiser this month. Characterized by a propulsive rhythm section and helium vocals, the lads are an instant party machine. To my ears, Males has become more proficient instrumentally, and sharpened their songwriting. And generally they now play a slightly heavier brand of rock, but can still dash off a truly winning pop song such as "Popeye". The nine songs on None The Wiser are the sound of a band that has grown up and is ready for prime time. Lend them your ears.
Currently, the album is available only as a digital download on Bandcamp.
"The Yves Klein Blues" by HD Hausmann
HD Hausmann is a UK collective that makes epic soundscapes combining acoustic and electronic elements. Their working method is for the various contributing members to work remotely from each other and add their portion of the composition to the piece as it is passed among the members. Their 2015 record, Wring The Moisture From The Surf, was one of the more refreshing releases of the year in my opinion (link to review). They recently released "The Yves Klein Blues". It is a worthy follow-up to the 2015 album, and I commend it to your ears. The performers on this song are Liam Palmer, Ross Hall, Alex Oates, Jessica Stanley, and Ali Smith.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
"All Four Seasons" by Free Time
Free Time borrows players who are based in New York and Melbourne and whose resumes include Panel of Judges, Totally Mild, Terrible Truths and Twerps. From my perspective, it is an indie super group, and I celebrate each edition of new music. Their new album is titled In Search of Free Time and will be out in late April on Bedroom Suck Records in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and Underwater Peoples in the United States and Europe. We featured album track "Who Owns The Moon" in January (link), and now have a second song, "All Four Seasons". Based on evidence to date, this is going to be a very, very good album.
Bandcamp for "All Four Seasons"
Bedroom Suck Records
Bandcamp for "All Four Seasons"
Bedroom Suck Records
Cats of Transnistria - Divine
Helsinki's Cats of Transnistria play pop music, but pop music that ignores conventional boundaries. To my ears, their core elements are aural atmospherics and layers of tension. And the tensions fuse and built over the course of each track until the listener feels that song will burst. It manages to be simultaneously intimate and otherworldly, ethereal and darkly-shaded. It is the music of ghosts and aspirations, suggesting hope but refusing to banish menace. As with the best music, it doesn't tell you what to think but creates a setting where the listener's own mind runs free to associate. Six of their generously paced creations comprise Divine, their first LP which is out now via Soliti Music. This is magical stuff -- treat your ears.
Cats of Transnistria are Tuomas Alatalo and Henna Emilia Hietamaki.
Bandcamp for Divine
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Eric Bachmann - Eric Bachmann
Eric Bachmann has been sharing pain, heartache, love, and the other essential elements of life for over two decades as a member of indie rockers Archers of Loaf, and then Americana icons Crooked Fingers. Eric is a fine musician and possesses a raspy, care worn vocal instrument that seems to be constructed of whisky-soaked velvet. But the essential genius of the man is his ability to open his soul, with no apparent filter, and describe the reality therein with a turn of phrase that makes it meaningful and memorable. Or to put it another way, the man is a treasure of a songwriter. And his journey continues with his new self-titled album.
What Eric Bachmann offers us is the artist's personal perspective on love, personal relationships, and a bit of political-social observation. The pace is unhurried, but not languid, and several songs, including "Carolina", "Mercy", "Separation Fright", and my current favorite, the closing "The Old Temptation" take flight with soaring instrumental contributions and appealing background vocals. Eric always has had the ability to expose his own raw nerves without demanding pity, but on this outing the nerves are less exposed, and the viewpoint is more both more accepting and more understanding of what life is capable of delivering. The musical touchstone is alt country, singer songwriter, but Eric is too singular of talent to be easily categorized, and his cast of supporting players are talented and versatile. Our view is that Eric Bachmann is to be celebrated in all of his musical incarnations, but whether you are an old fan or a newbie looking for a place to start, we urge you to dive into Eric Bachmann.
Eric Bachmann is out Friday, March 25, via Merge Records.
Merge Records page for album
Monday, March 21, 2016
"Stars" by Djustin
Swedish producer Johan Angergard, of projects Club 8, the Legends and Pallers, and synthpop vocalist Rose Suau of Detroit collaborate by mail. But their musical partnership as Djustin appears to be ready for prime time. Their new single for Swedish label Labrador is "Stars", a love ballad for the dance floor.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Eliza Shaddad - Run EP
Eliza Shaddad is a young lady with a compelling voice, an undeniable skill as a songwriter and a bright future. She has just released the four-song Run EP via Beatnik Creative, and if life is fair, it will launch her career to a new level. The songs are intimate, yet full of detail. The production is stellar, but the star is Eliza's performance. It is available as a digital download, although vinyl and CD versions may be available at her UK shows. For my ears, "Wars" and "Run" are the top cuts, but all four are worthy of your attention.
Eliza is of Scots and Sudanese parentage, and her ancestors include painters and poets.
Friday, March 18, 2016
"Broken Oars" by Nieves
Nieves are Brendan Dafters (vocals/guitar), Herre de Leur (piano), Martin Murray (guitar), and Ross Forsyth (drums).
Thursday, March 17, 2016
The Goon Sax - Up To Anything
The Goon Sax are killing me! No, not the cheap sacks of wine sold in sacks and known in Australia as 'goon sax' -- although there have been mornings when that stuff has been the near death of me as well. I'm talking about the Brisbane band, The Goon Sax, which, after giving us glimpses of their talent on a few singles over the past year, has smacked us in the head with their debut album, Up To Anything. And the album slays me because the musical blend these teenagers create so perfectly captures the essence of young music -- adolescent love, bad haircuts, bad breakups, being alone, insecurities -- yet so un-selfconsciously assured musically, that it just doesn't seem quite possible. One or the other would be a cause for celebration. Both seems just a little bit over-achieving for the newbie indie set, but just as I don't want people to hate me for being suave and sexy, we shouldn't hate The Goon Sax for precocious talent.
The special blend here includes classic guitar pop that echoes fellow Aussies The Go-Betweens, southern hemisphere compatriots The Bats, and earlier era Northern cousins such as Glasgow's The Pastels. The vocal resemblance to The Go-Betweens deserves remarking if only for the fact that frontman Louis Forster is the son of Robert Forster. But Louis and compatriots Riley Jones and James Harrison carve their own path lyrically. That topics mine adolescent themes such as isolation, insecurity, crushes, rejection and the like isn't surprising for a band this young. What makes it fresh and special, however, is the wordplay coupled with a deadpan delivery that results in the proceedings being far more funny than heartbreaking. Louis wonders how to make people think about him ("Up To Anything"). He notes that he definitely cares for a certain someone, but than backs off to definitely "sometimes" caring -- and sometimes accidentally thinking about that person ("Sometimes Accidentally"). He advises a friend that she doesn't need to hold his sweaty hands, obsesses about haircuts, assures us that he will make the worst of a bad situation, and sarcastically tells off a former crush for not treating a boyfriend properly. And in the glorious closer, confides that he is eating his ice cream all by himself.
What you have are 12 songs that unspool like a week in the life of a partially arrogant, partially insecure, intelligent and hyper self-aware teen trying to figure out how to make his/her mark, how to be loved, how to avoid over-commitment, how to deal with, well, everything that life throws at you at that age without an instruction manual on how to deal with it. The guitars have enough jangle to fit the genre, but there is plenty of chugging on the lower register strings as well. Favorable references abound, but I'll just mention that the opening track struck me as something that wouldn't be out of place on Daddy's Highway, and I don't give out such praise lightly.
Up To Anything is out now via Chapter Music. See the Bandcamp link below.
Bandcamp for Up To Anything
Those Unfortunates - Those Unfortunates We Are
We are not a heartless media machine here. Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha! I just wanted to see how that looked in black and white. Of course we are a heartless media machine. How else could we get so wealthy and influential? But despite our default base tendencies, we do try to help out the less fortunate from time to time. So we entered "unfortunates" and "music" into our bespoke search engine and came up with Those Unfortunates. Which unfortunates? Those Unfortunates. You know, the London band consisting of Ben Brill, Magnus Alanko, Henry Bird, and Seb Brennan. Happily, this is a perfect time to help these guys out, because they've just released a four-track EP titled Those Unfortunates We Are. And despite the Yoda-speak title, the EP is a well-constructed and fun dose of guitar pop, played with garage rock flair and a bit of punk attitude. My favorites are their energetic theme song and the moody closer, "On The Beach Near Blakeney". It is available as a digital download, or a limited edition CD with some additional swag from the band's own hands. Try out the goods below. A few additional tracks can be streamed at the Soundcloud link.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Final hurrah from King Post Kitsch (free download)
Below I've provided a few streams from Others, as well as "Don't You Touch My Fucking Honeytone", the great lead track from the 2014 sampler from KPK.
Charlie received assistance from Wull Swales, Roy Shearer and Suzanne Black on various tracks.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Caleb Caudle - Carolina Ghost
Take the album for a test drive at the Bandcamp link below. It is out now via This Is American Music in vinyl, CD and digital.
Caudle wrote the songs, sang, and played acoustic guitar. Other players were Jordan Powers (bass, vocals), Jack Foster (drums), Tommy Scifres (lead guitar), Greg Herndon (Wirlitzer, piano, B3, vocals), Brett McKinney (dobro), (Josh King (vocals), Bonnie Whitmore (vocals).
Bandcamp for Carolina Ghost
This Is American Music
Monday, March 14, 2016
Adam Stafford - Taser Revelations
Adam Stafford is a man of many faces -- musician, film director, label boss. In the musical realm his solo compositions encompass experimental post punk, neo soul, loop pedal driven pop, baroque pop and art rock. He croons, beatboxes and, not surprisingly given his life as a visual artist, adds an element of performance artist to his live shows. But what is consistent is the delight derived from fruits of his fertile mind. His latest edition is the nine-song Taser Revelations, which is out today via Edinburgh's Song By Toad Records. I ranked his last album among my top ten for the year, but this one probably surpasses that effort in consistency. The performances and production are superb, and each song stands out as a triumph. No matter how much Stafford dazzles with technical wizardry and breadth of vision, the real stars are the perfectly realized pop hearts beating brightly in the core of each track.
Best songs are the tropics-tinged joy of "Phantom Billions", the surging, insistent "Atheist Money", and the emotional closer "The Penumbra".
Taser Revelations is available on vinyl, CD and digital formats.
Adam Stafford on Tumblr
Bandcamp for Taser Revelations
Song By Toad Records
Saturday, March 12, 2016
Bent Shapes - Wolves of Want
Anxiety-ridden punk lyrics wrapped in a jangle pop, post punk skin with hooks and stylish presentation describes Boston band Bent Shapes. And a good indication of how well they pull it off is that their second LP, Wolves of Want, has been picked up by taste-making indie label Slumberland Records. The vibe encompasses a bit of fellow Bostonian Jonathan Richman, as well as WYMA heroes The Feelies, so you can assume that this disc is going to be in rotation around here for a while. The core of the band (through various names) has been Ben Potrykus and Andy Sadoway for some time. The lineup now includes Luke Brandfon and Jenny Mudarri, and it seems to us that this combination has found the magic that makes the music shine. The literate and intimate lyrics are a treat on today's rock scene, but the classic indie rock swagger is the star of the show. There is good stuff coming out of Boston lately, and Bent Shapes is in the front pack.
Wolves of Want was released yesterday via Slumberland.
Webpage for Bent Shapes
Slumberland Records page for Wolves Of Want
Friday, March 11, 2016
"Breathe", featuring Neev, by Seeb
We're going to have several posts today, but we are starting out with the stunning "Breathe", featuring Neev, by Oslo electronic duo Seeb. The project was formed in 2015 by Simen Eriksrud and Espen Berg, who previously had been working separately as producers and songwriters. They have released several well-received remixes, but I believe that "Breathe" is their first original composition as Seeb. Haunting and affecting, this song could be your soundtrack for the weekend. It is out today on the usual digital outlets.
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Posse - Perfect H 7"
Posse is a great trio which deserves a much higher profile. Yes, even in their home city of Seattle they don't get the love they deserve. Admittedly, the decision of the members to continue to work at fulfilling jobs rather than solely do music and a bit of table bussing does take them out of the usual indie channel, so the lack of fame is somewhat understandable. But the quality of the music is top drawer and they should be on the short list of guitar pop fans everywhere. The trio of Sacha Maxim, Paul Wittmann-Todd, and Jon Salzman first hit these pages in December 2014 when we featured LP Soft Opening (link), an album that I ranked in my top fifteen for the year (list). They specialize in catchy melodies, soft hooks, languid pacing, and talk-singing intelligent lyrics.
The band has a new two-song single called Perfect H 7" out via Wharf Cat Records. Available on limited edition vinyl and as a digital download, it reveals Posse to be on top of their game. Stream it below.
Bandcamp for Perfect H 7"
Wharf Cat Records
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
"Dive" and "Golden" by Morning TV
And if I may boldly suggest a bit of round-the-world excitement, start our your day with a little Breakfast Muff, Glasgow style (link), and then relax with Morning TV. But if you don't make it to work and are terminated, don't blame me.
Morning TV is Brit (vocals/guitar), Ana (bass), Tim (guitar/vocals), and Cam (drums)
Holy Wave - Freaks of Nature
For me, the top songs are "Western Playland", which teases us with pleasant memories of Allah-Las, the Teenage Fanclub-esque "Air Wolf", the Zombies-like "Minstrel's Gallop", and the luscious dream pop of "California Took My Bobby Away". However, it is a consistent album overall, and if Zombies meets Allah-Las meets Black Angels is an interesting musical stew, we can enthusiastically recommend this one.
Freaks of Nature is Holy Wave's third album. It is out on March 11 via The Reverberation Appreciation Society. Holy Wave is Kyle Hager, Dustin Zozaya, Julian Ruiz, Joey Cook, Ryan Fuson.
Reverberation Appreciation Society
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Beloved Elk - Close EP
The Close EP is the work of an unusual beast - not just an elk, but a Beloved Elk. The Melbourne duo of Tina Nguyen and Amy Wright produces varied and dynamic indie pop, which surprises and delights the listener. The EP begins with the brief and gentle instrumental "Noah", entirely composed by drummer Tina. One of the more commanding songs is "Made Of Glue", a glistening tune that bears a resemblance to some of the work on The Delgados' Hate LP. Each of the verses were written six months apart after a recurring argument with a lover. The following "Blood Moon" is a cathartic endeavor. "The Light Of Dead Stars" is my current favorite. About pushing through barriers and overcoming inertia, is is both affecting and soothing. The closing "Ourselves" is Amy's chance to solo, with just her vocals and an acoustic guitar.
Close EP is out now via Listen Records. See the Bandcamp link for ordering information.
Bandcamp for Close EP
Bandcamp for previous releases
Twerps - The Twerps EP
Sometimes it is fun to look back at a band's early steps, recognize the promise in the initial recordings and identify the elements of the creative development. Of course, it is a worthwhile endeavor only if the band is good, and is possible only if the early material is available. Melbourne's Chapter Music presents you with the perfect materials for this little musical exercise.
We are among the many writers focusing on indie pop that have sung the praises of Twerps, most recently covering their 2015 LP Range Anxiety (here) and their EP Underlay (here). They also released a self-titled LP in 2011. But the recorded story for Twerps begins with their 2009 EP The Twerps. A generous nine song affair, it was released by Chapter as a 4-song 7" with an accompanying CD with all nine songs. In the US the EP was released as a cassette by the Night People label. The EP has been out of print for some time.
In the beginning, Twerps were Martin Frawley (guitar/vocals), Julia McFarlane (guitar), Rick Milovanovic (bass), and Patrick O'Neill (Milovanovic and O'Neill have left the band, and Alex Macfarlane and Angus Lord are in the current line-up). Their musicianship was rudimentary, but their songwriting displayed promise, with charm, humor and introspection. There is a lot of jangle and some '60s influences. Comparing the EP to more recent Twerps' work, it seems to me that the progression is exactly what I would have wanted. Some of the rough edges are trimmed, and the results are more consistent. But happily, the idiosyncratic charm remains. And historical comparisons aside, the EP is a very enjoyable record in its own right.
Chapter Music has reissued The Twerps on vinyl with an accompanying digital download. The record includes the original nine songs and a rehearsal version of "Little Guys". US fans can find limited copies of the vinyl via Merge Records, and UK fans can find the record via Proper Music.
Chapter Music page for The Twerps
Chapter Music Bandcamp page for reissue
Merge Records page for Twerps reissue
Proper Music page for Twerps reissue
Thursday, March 3, 2016
"Walk In The Park" by Still Parade
"Pride" by Froyo
Coastgaard - Devil On The Balcony
Generally, the upbeat songs work best to my ears, but overall this album ticks a lot of boxes for indie pop lovers and is perfect for a sunny afternoon.
Devil On The Balcony is out now via eOne Music. It is available in digital, CD and vinyl formats.
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
"Wake Up (111th Dream)" by Magic Bronson
Magic Bronson previously release "Run Run", which also is from the EP.
Bandcamp for "Run Run"
Witching Waves - Crystal Cafe
For Crystal Cafe, the second outing from London's Witching Waves, the trio changes skins from noise pop fuzzy to rocker leather. There still is plenty of melody, but with a more straightforward and aggressive sound. If your ears get the impression that the Shop Assistants are channeling Sonic Youth, you have good ears. You probably also have happy ears.
Every note sounds like it is played with intent and confidence, an 11 track exploration of timeless rock expressions. Thus you have the in-your-face assault of "Twister", "Pitiless" and the magnificent "Red Light", the saucy garage rock "Make It Up", punk rock such as "The Threat", the fuzzy "Receiver", and the menacing mid-tempo closer "Flowers". And for a change of pace there are the ambient instrumental interludes "Red Light Loop", "Anemone" and "Inoa". Showcasing the group's power and breadth, Crystal Cafe should earn Witching Waves new fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
Witching Waves are Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper and Ed Shellard. Crystal Cafe is released in the United States by HHBTM Records. In the UK, Soft Power Records (Scotland) is offering limited edition vinyl with a digital download included.
Soft Power Records
Soft Power Records' Bandcamp for Crystal Cafe
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