Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"Stronger" by Gothic Tropic

Los Angeles trio Gothic Tropic has just released a pop rock gem that puts them on the WYMA Band To Watch List.  "Stronger" features strong vocals and guitar from frontwoman Cecilia Della Peruti, and an aggressive rhythm section in Todd Dahlhoff (bass) and "Cornbread" Matthew Compton (drums).  As good as the songwriting is, the star of the show may be the tight performance of the three musicians.  There is just enough frayed edge to keep it all from being slick, and that means that it sounds just perfect to our ears.

"Stronger" is released via Old Flame Records.


Monday, May 30, 2016

"Elwood" by Savage Mansion

We won't bore you with details about this release -- not because we are models of tasteful restraint, but rather because with have very few details.  We have a smashing new song for you, titled "Elwood", which is downloadable for free at the Bandcamp link below.  What we do know is the name of the band is Savage Mansion.  The band is located in Glasgow, and headed by songwriter Craig Angus, assisted ably by Taylor Stewart, Jamie Dubber and Andrew MacPherson.



Stay At Home Son - Stay At Home Son EP

Ah, the evening of the last day of a long holiday weekend.  I've just consumed a very refreshing bottle of Einstock Icelandic White Ale brought home by traveling members of the brood, and I crave some laid back music to end the day.  Enter, stage right, Stay At Home Son and his recent self-titled EP.  The record features four bubbling but chill songs with a melancholy shading and some intriguing details in the arrangements, it relaxes and entertains.  It is available in vinyl and digital formats from the Neat Lawn label.

Stay At Home Son is Jesse, from Melbourne.  We don't know anything else about him, but we like his music.  Try out the lead track below, and if you like it stream the entire EP.

Bandcamp for self-titled EP

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Pony Lonely" / "Somewhere Only We Know" by Avaleya And The Glitter Hawks

This single hits the bullseye in the middle of a holiday weekend.  Featuring clear, warm female vocals, endearing retro melodies and simple but rock solid arrangements, it goes down perfectly with the sun and my second glass of craft ale.  The delivery system of this joy is Avaleya And The Glitter Hawks, which is the name assumed by the Sacramento-Hood River project of industry veterans Avaley Kelly, Jim Rivas and Andrew Newbold, and the record is the recently released single "Pony Lonely" / "Somewhere Only We Know".  The lead track is the band's own jangling and chugging pop gem.  The B-side is a lively cover of Keane's hit.

The single sits between Glitter Feather, an EP the band released earlier this year (Bandcamp link), and an LP to be released later this year.  It is available as a digital download from the Darla Records and Bandcamp links below.

Twitter for Avaleya Kelly
Bandcamp for Pony Lonely
Darla Records page for single

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Salient Braves - They Must Have Seen Me Coming EP

The brave and ever salient The Salient Braves are back, and it has been too long.  When we last heard from the Barnsley, UK project headed by songwriter Matt Bailey it was October 13, 2013 and we were reviewing their fine Someplace Sordid EP (link).  Today, they present They Must Have Seen Me Coming EP on Broken Down Records.  As was the case with the previous EP, the record starts out with a perfect slice of guitar pop.  And as in 2013, it is the title track leading the way and winning the listener's heart.  Beginning with the inquiry "Have you ever seen a grown man cry?", the jangling guitars and jaunty arrangement pull us in to our hero's lament.  You just can't stop listening after a song like this one.

Two more original songs, "The Great Unwashed" and "Odd Couple" follow.  In my view, while the presentation changes to a more pensive mood and lower tempo, the quality doesn't lessen a bit.  "Odd Couple", in particular sneaks up on you and hits you squarely; a treasure of a song with a great hook in the chorus.  The fourth track is a cover of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion".  It is well done and shows that Mr. Bailey has good taste (in 2013 he covered The Kink's "Waterloo Sunset", so it isn't an accident).  The EP closes with the tongue in cheek "X-Factor Killing Spree".

All in all, great stuff.  And if you are on the fence, know that your purchase price will not allow Mr. Bailey to add to his fleet of Bentleys and Lear Jets, as all proceeds from sales of digital downloads and CDs will be donated to a non-profit raising awareness of and offering support to those affected by male suicide (a lot of Spurs fans will benefit from that, no doubt).

Bandcamp for They Must Have Seen Me Coming EP
Bandcamp for other songs from The Salient Braves


Yumi Zouma - Yoncalla

Yoncalla, the first full album from New Zealand's Yumi Zouma is a box of jewels -- sparkling, well polished and perfectly cut.  There is nothing gaudy or overboard, just restrained elegance; elegance born of delicate and pristine vocals, tasteful and well detailed production, and the kind of endearing melodies that keep prompting you to look at the clouds and think happy thoughts.  The arrangements are spacious and hooky, with a hint of bubbling lo-key disco, allowing the album to serve as a party track as well as a backdrop for lower key times.

Possibly no track on Yoncalla will hit you in the face and scream "mega hit", although "Short Truth" and "Barricade" deserve to prove me wrong, and several other could have a long life on radio and playlists as well.  Rather, they all will seep into your brain with repeated listens, becoming welcome new friends.   Moreover, the band has used their long buildup to their first album well, creating a set of songs that is consistent and high quality.  Shimmering pop with not duds -- this album is a winner!

Yoncalla is released today, May 27, via Cascine, Arch Hill (Australia/New Zealand), Rallye (Japan) and Double Deer (Indonesia).


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Various Artists - The Midland Roots Explosion Volume 2

Reggae Archive Records is determined to not let the world forget that some of the toughest roots reggae gifted to the world was created by Jamaican immigrants in the English midlands in the '70s and '80s.  Their latest effort is the directly titled The Midland Roots Explosion, Volume Two.  As was the case with last year's Volume One, it is a compilation of choice tracks from better known acts, such as the legendary Steel Pulse, Capital Letters, Black Symbol, Groundation, and Sceptre, and lesser known artists whose fame never reached the heights merited by their talent.  Consisting of 16 tracks previously recorded and released, it is available on double vinyl, CD, and digital formats (see the Bandcamp link below).  The production values are excellent, with bass that will rattle your ribcage and vocals with sharp edged commentary on injustice, struggle and religion.  Unlike many serial compilations, this Volume Two represents not drop off in quality as compared to Volume One.  In fact, this selection may be meatier and more varied than the first.

I've included a few highlights below, including my current favorite, Sledge Hammer's "Ruled By The Stone".  But my strong recommendation is to listen to these streams, and then go to the Bandcamp page, put on your headphones, and become immersed in wonderful music.

Bandcamp for album
Reggae Archive Records

"Fashion" by Holy Balm

Hey, have you looked in the mirror lately?  Don't be a slob - get some "Fashion".  Yes indeed, we suggest you dress up you life with the funky house single from Sydney's Holy Balm.  The song is available to download as of May 27, and it is the first single to come from the band's second album, Activity, which will be released by Melbourne's Chapter Music in early August.  You need "Fashion" for the weekend.  Trust me.

Chapter Music page for "Fashion"
Bandcamp for "Fashion"

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"Twilight Driving" by Methyl Ethel

"Twilight Driving" is one of the great songs on Oh Inhuman Spectacle, the 2016 LP from
Australian band  Methyl Ethel.  The album is getting it's worldwide rollout via 4AD.  We will have more on the album later, but we didn't want to delay in bringing you the video.

Methyl Ethel is touring in support of Oh Inhuman Spectacle.  The remaining shows are as follows:
5.26.16 - Merleyn - Nijmegen, Netherlands
5.27.16 - La Maison Des Musiques - Brussels, Belgium
5.28.16 - London Calling Festival 2016 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
6.1 - 6.5.16 - Primavera Sound Festival 2016 - Barcelona, Spain
6.25 - 7.2.16 - Roskilde Festival 2016 - Roskilde, Denmark
7.14 - 7.17.16 - Latitude Festival 2016 - Southwold, UK
7.22 - 7.24.16 - Splendor In The Grass Festival 2016 - Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
7.28 - 7.31.16 - UMS - The Underground Music Showcase - Denver, CO
8.5 - 8.7.16 - Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival - San Francisco, CA
9.2 - 9.4.16 - End of the Road Festival - Salisbury, UK


Pale Lights - Seance For Something

One of my top discoveries of 2014 was Brooklyn's Pale Lights, and their LP from that year, Before There Were Pictures, was on of my top thirty albums of 2014 (link).  What makes that band so special?  In my view they craft perfect guitar pop/jangle pop that touch on the best influences without mere imitation.  The hooks are plentiful, the vocals robust and the sound has the polish of the guitar pop bands whose work lingers longest in the memory of fans, such as Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, The Go-Betweens and Orange Juice.    And with that background, I'm happy to report that the band is preparing a new album, and even happier that because they know how impatient we are, they have released a four-song EP to keep us satisfied until the LP is ready.

Titled Seance For Something, the record has four varied pop gems that demonstrate the crew's mastery of guitar pop.  The opening "Mother Cries" evokes The Bats and Rattlesnakes-era Lloyd Cole, in the latter instance due in no small part to frontman and songwriter Phil Sutton's vocal similarities to Mr. Cole.  I think it is the best song on the EP, but the points are close on my scorecard.  The following "Girl In The Park" and "Alone In This Room" bring to mind the heart-tugging and bittersweet gems from The Go-Betweens and The Lucksmiths.  The EP closes with "Sweetheart", which sounds like The Bats with an added element of '60s California country rock.  The songs are substantial and varied, and show Pale Lights to be one of the top level guitar pop bands on the scene.

The band are Philip Sutton (vocals/guitar), Andy Adler (lead guitar), Maria Pace (bass), and Lisa Goldstein (drums).  In addition, Kyle Foster played keys and sax, Suzanne Nienaber provided harmonies, Hamish Kilgour hit the tambourine on the opening track and recording engineer Gary Olson provided piano on that same song.  Seance For Something is out now via Calico Cat Records.  See the Bandcamp link below for details, but I'll note that at $3, the digital is a bargain.

Soundcloud for Seance For Something
Bandcamp for Seance For Something

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Are You Trending?" and "4AM" by Vessels

Leeds, UK has a storied history in electronic music.  One of the best bands of the current generation are Vessels.  Comprised of Lee J. Malcolm, Martin Teff, Tim Mitchell, Tom Evans, and Peter Wright, they are quite happy to blow your mind, and quite capable of doing so as well.  I first played their new single "Are You Trending?" an hour ago and I am yet suffering the effects of shock and awe.  Once you've made an attempt to get your head around that bomb, try the slower building but still sizzling "4AM".

Somewhat surprisingly given their current sound, the band originally played post rock, but with the 2015 release of Dilate, they carved out prime territory in the electronic space.


Randolf's Leap - Cowardly Deeds

When I started writing for this blog one of my goals was to help let the world know about the wealth of quality pop music put out by the residents of Scotland.  I have never regretted that decision as each year has brought plentiful pop joys in multiple genres.  Today I'm here to proclaim the virtues of an Cowardly Deeds by Glasgow's Randolf's Leap.  Quite simply this album, and the band that created it, are a prime exhibit for the quality of the Scottish music scene.  The melodies are bright, hook-laden and memorable, and they are adorned not only with the usual compliment of guitars, bass and drums, but also with keys, string and brass.  Yes, having eight people in a band brings rewards to the arrangements even if it complicates voting where to go for dinner.  The lyrics are literate, clever and thoughtful.  As a vocalist, frontman and songwriter Adam Ross is sincere and convincing.  And overall, the performance of the band is energetic enough to make it clear that this band really, really likes what they are doing.  Nor is Cowardly Deeds all joyously uptempo.  The band provides an good measure of more reflective tunes, providing nuanced and restrained background for Ross' musing on life's uncertainties.

Randolf's Leap's earlier recordings took the lo-fi, bedroom recording approach.  But this album has higher production values, and the results are well worth the extra time and effort.  Combined with the skilled contribution from the band and Ross' talents for penning well-considered comments and them dressing them up in bright pop wrappings, this is one of the better bands Scotland has to offer, and Cowardly Deeds is a worthy calling card.

The band are Adam Ross (guitar/vocals), Adam Florence (drums), Vicki Cole (bass), Andrew MacLellan (guitar), Heather Fox (violin), Pete MacDonald (keyboards), Ali Hendry (trumpet) and Fraser Gibson (trombone).  Cowardly Deeds is out now via Glasgow's Olive Grove Records.  One source to purchase would be the Olive Grove Bandcamp page which is linked at the bottom of this post.

Olive Grove's Bandcamp page
Olive Grove Records

Monday, May 23, 2016

"Orlando" "and "No More Parties In The Attic" by Exploded View

Exploded View is a multinational band working with Krautrock, dub, electronic modes of musical expression.  Fronted by UK-born and Berlin-based former political journalist Annika Henderson (vocals/synth), the band includes Martin Thulin (drums/guitar) from Sweden, and Hugo Quezada (bass/synth) and Hector Melgarejo (synth/guitar) from Mexico.  All of the members have participated in other well-regarded projects, and we expect exciting sounds from this collaboration.  Two tracks, "Orlando" and the previously released "No More Parties In The Attic" are out now.  The band's self-titled album will be out in August via Sacred Bones.

Bandcamp for LP
Sacred Bones Records

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Local Hero" and "Career Crisis" by Glaciers

Melbourne's Glaciers have been tantalizing us for several years with the occasional demo or single.  If it has meant to tease us, it has worked as planned, as our interest is keen.  We finally have the good news that June will bring Living Right, the four-piece's first LP.  The band will be addressing the challenges of growing into adulthood, swathed in the dreamy jangle and well-crafted melodies we expect.  Two songs from the album -- "Local Hero" and "Career Crisis" -- will give you a taste of the ace tunes that Glaciers can craft.

Glaciers are Nalin Dayawansa (vocals/guitar), Simon Crouch (vocals/guitar), Ryand DeCoite (bass), and Tom Coish (Drums).  Living Right will be released on vinyl and digital by Strong Dogs Records.  A cassette version will be available via Easy Summer.

Bandcamp for Local Hero
Bandcamp for Career Crisis

Friday, May 20, 2016

"But I'm Scared" by The Echo Session

One lesson that is reinforced with some regularity as we age is that good things can't be rushed.  Doing something worthwhile the right way is more important that rushing it out the door.  This is an important perspective in considering the upcoming single "But I'm Scared" by The Echo Session.  The band was signed by Glasgow label Flowers In The Dustbin in the last decade.  A subsequent recording session produced the 2009 single "Tell Me", as well as "But I'm Scared".  Although "Tell Me" was released and drew deserved praise for the quality of the music and its message of greed while the world reeled from economic melt down, "But I'm Scared" rested in unreleased limbo for seven years.

Now, in a labor of love, Glasgow's Flowers In The Dustbin has dusted off a live-recorded version of "But I'm Scared" and is offering it as a single in August.  While "Tell Me" understandably drew comparisons to the Kinks, "But I'm Scared" adds a '60s California folk rock sheen to the Kinks vibe.  It is one of my favorite songs of the year so far, and I very much wish the band would write some new music.  "But I'm Scared" can be pre-ordered now.

I've also provided a stream of "Tell Me" for your listening pleasure.

The Echo Session are Tam Maher (vocals/guitar), Alistair Morrow (guitar/vocals), Stuart Morran (bass/vocals), and Ryan Rimkus (drums/vocals).

Facebook forThe Echo Session
Flowers In The Dustbin page for The Echo Session

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Guru" by Coast Modern

Coast Modern is a Los Angeles duo comprised of Coleman Trapp and Luke Atlas, and we think they are about to make their way into a lot of summer playlists.  Their latest offering is the dancehall inspired ready-for-the-beach jam "Guru".  We also have included previously released "Hollow Life" and "Animals" to demonstrate that these guys have a full arsenal of sounds.  The guys played SXSW in March and are spending much of the rest of the year on the road.  The Bumbershoot appearance may get me to venture to Seattle Center on September 2.


Tour Dates:
05/22 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel *
05/23 – Richmond, VA @ The National *
05/24 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
05/25 – New York City, NY @ Terminal 5 *
05/27 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory *
06/10 – San Francisco, CA @ Popscene
06/14 – Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall #
06/15 – New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall #
06/16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
06/18 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos’ South End #
06/20 – Charleston, SC @ The Music Farm #
06/21 – Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage #
07/08 – Milwaukee, WI @ Summerfest
07/09 – Kansas City, MO @ Power & Light District #
07/11 – Indianapolis, IN @ Old National Center
07/12 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue #
07/13 – Chicago, IL @ Metro #
07/15 – Columbus, OH @ PromoWest Fest
07/18 – St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room #
07/19 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom #
07/24 – Detroit, MI @ Mo Pop Festival
08/01 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom #
08/03 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre #
08/05 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory #
09/02 – Seattle, WA @ Bumbershoot
09/19 – Portland, OR @ Wonder ^
09/21 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore ^
09/25 – Denver, CO @ Gothic ^
09/27 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity ^
09/28 – Chicago, IL @ Metro ^
09/30 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix ^
10/04 – Boston, MA @ Royale ^
10/05 – Philadelphia, PA @ TLA ^
10/06 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^
10/08 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse ^
10/09 – Nashville, TN @ 3rd and Lindsley ^
10/11 – Dallas, TX @ Granada ^
10/12 – Houston, TX @ Whtie Oak
10/13 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s
10/16 – San Diego, CA @ Observatory North Park ^
10/17 – Orange Country, CA @ Observatory ^
10/18 – Los Angeles, CA @ Belasco Theatre ^
10/19 – San Francisco, CA @ Warfield ^
* = w/ BØRNS
# = w/ The Wombats
^ = w/ The Temper Trap

"A Festival In 1995" and "Stolen Police Car" by Colourful Band

The Colourful Band is one of our favorite bands from Scotland.  The band is Ian McKelvie and various supporting musicians.  We featured their 2015 album Sometimes It Rains about a year ago (link), and their excellent self-titled LP back in 2012 (here).  While busy with careers, surfing and other distractions of life, Ian manages to find time to pen new songs.  We have two for you today, "A Festival In 1995" and its B-side, "Stolen Police Car".  The lead track is a nostalgic look back at, well, a festival in 1995.  The B-side is a slice of garage surf that sounds like what you'd get if The Jesus and Mary Chain were the tough guy cousins of the Beach Boys.  If it makes you want to go out and steal a police car, the band wants you to know that they disclaim any liability whatsoever.  And that disclaimer will stick.  Trust me, I'm a lawyer.

You will note the little download arrows on the Soundcloud widgets.  You also can find the songs on iTunes.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Ariana" by Mercury Girls

Some new bands need a few singles and EPs to find their sound and become the next indie "it".  And then there are bands like Mercury Girls.  The Philadelphia five-piece was only formed last year, but already is locked and loaded, radio and pop-fest friendly, SXSW-tested, and ready to show off to your best friends.  Their sound recalls C86 and Sarah Records, but digging down a bit I'd describe it as Veronica Falls and Popguns with a dose of Shop Assistant's Glasgow grit.  And if I name check three of my favorite bands of ye olden days in describing a newcomer, you can bet that I'm very high on that newcomer.

Slumberland Records, a label with well-demonstrated good taste in new indie bands, has signed Mercury Girls for their official record debut, the two-song Ariana.  The title track is a racing, rushing noise pop triumph with simmering verses, thumping rhythms and swelling choruses.  It is the kind of song that makes you instantly love a band.  The B-side, "All That Heaven Allows", could make a strong case for a double A-side designation for this record, if not for the strength of the leading track.  For its part, "All That Heaven Allows" burnishes the band's post punk chops and demonstrates that their arsenal is far more that perfectly sweetened noise pop.

Ariana is out on Friday, May 20 in vinyl and digital formats, and is available to pre-order now.  Mercury Girls will be playing Popfest in New York, and touring in the Eastern US.

Mercury Girls are Sarah Schimineck, Kevin Attics, Andrew Hagiwara, Chris Schackerman, and Kevin O'Halloran.

Bandcamp for Ariana
Slumberland Records

Eskimeaux - Year of the Rabbit

Eskimeaux is the recording and performing name used by Gabrielle Smith, a New York based songwriter and producer.  In 2015 she released the well received LP, O.K., and now has followed it up with a mini album titled Year of the Rabbit.  While O.K. was very much an experimental folk creature featuring very well-implemented studio processing, Year of the Rabbit takes a more mainstream pop direction and was recorded live with Smith's live collaborators Oliver Kalb, Felix Walworth, and Jack Greeleaf.  While one hesitates to predict what a talented and inventive artist will do in the future, I would offer that this version of Eskimeaux is very pleasing, indeed.  The record consists of six well-crafted slices of life, voiced with nuanced perfection. My favorites at this point are "Power" and "Drunk", but there isn't a dud in the lot.  As a mini album, it is over too quickly, but it demands repeats and you won't tire of it soon.

There will always be space in my music library for pristine pop that makes me smile and sigh, and plants earworm melodies in my brain.  And Year of the Rabbit is a good example of why I feel that way.

Year of the Rabbit is out now via Double Double Whammy.

Soundcloud for Year of the Rabbit
Double Double Whammy

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Death and Vanilla reissues

About a year ago Swedish electro-pop band Death and Vanilla reminded us how very good they are with To Where The Wild Things Are (our feature here).  The talented Maleen Nilsson and Anders Hansson craft sonic wonders with elements of psychedelic pop, baroque pop and minimalist experimentation.  Their work has been compared to Broadcast and Sterolab, but really is too broad in scope for such references to be more than starting points.  The duo loves vintage instruments and horror film music, both of which inform their recording, adding depth and tension to the sweet and bright elements common to electro-pop.

Before To Where The Wild Things Are Death and Vanilla had released a self-titled EP, a self-titled LP, and a two-song single titled "From Above".  Those early works are as excellent as they are hard to find, so listeners who only became fans last year have been unable to get their full dose of D&V.  However Fire Records is in the business of providing happy endings, and has now released all three of those earlier records.  Feast your ears on the sampler of cuts from the reissues below, and then stock your musical cupboard with Death and Vanilla.

Fire Records page for Death and Vanilla releases
Death and Vanilla's Bandcamp page

Monday, May 16, 2016

"Short Truth" by Yumi Zouma

"Short Truth" -- yet another single from Yoncalla, the upcoming LP from New Zealand synth pop quartet Yumi Zouma.  To our ears "Short Truth" has a bigger scope that their previous songs.  Perhaps they are preparing for the big arenas their talent deserves.

Yoncalla will be released on May 27 via Cascine, Arch Hill (Australia/New Zealand), Rallye (Japan) and Double Deer (Indonesia).


New songs from Honeydrum

Our favorite New Jersey lo-fi, fuzz dream-poppers Honeydrum have released an number of 'name your price' songs in the past week.  Enjoy them below and hit the links if you are interested.  We find it a very good soundtrack for our Monday morning.

Bandcamp for "When My Love Is Gone"

Bandcamp for "Baby Come Home"

Bandcamp for "Freaks"

Bandcamp for "Take Me Up A Number"

Bandcamp for "Peaches n' Cream"


Sunday, May 15, 2016

The fin. - Through The Deep EP

Japan's The fin. is making their bid for global fame on the strength of their new release, Through The Deep EP.   The European release is set for the first week of June via Lost In The Manor Records, and the band is touring this month in the UK.  The record features five tracks with arena-filling beats underlying dream pop melodies and strong vocals.  The quartet is smooth without being slick, writes interesting songs, and delivers a quality performance.  Check out two of the songs below.

Lost In The Manor Records

Djustin - Tryst

Tryst, the debut EP from transatlantic duo Djustin is the electro-pop record of the year so far.  And it may hold that position at the end of the year as well.  The songs vary between shimmering anthems and more brooding affairs, but all are club ready and stuffed with pop excellence.  The perfect lead vocals are provided by Detroit's Rose Suau, while the production duties are handled by Stockholm's Johan Angergård, of Club 8, The Legends and Acid House Kings -- and also the head of Labrador Records.  The songs have plenty of nuance for the most discriminating listener, but sacrifice nothing in offering the beats to dance the night away.

Labrador Records

Friday, May 13, 2016

Kaspar Hauser - Kaspar Hauser EP

Do you recall the images of a conflicted protagonist with a good angel whispering in one ear to counsel good, and the devil sneering vice in the other ear?  Well, if you think of Cocteau Twins as the good angel, Glasgow's Kaspar Hauser is the musical embodiment of the devil in the other ear.  Their four-song, self-titled EP is shoegaze for people wearing black boots with traces of mud and blood, dreampop for people whose dreams are nightmares.  The percussion is like thunder, the guitars big and abrasive, the vibe is ominous.  It is black hearted and threatening.

It also is very, very good.  It take elements of The Cure and The Fall, turns up the noise and aggression, and comes out with something that is very cathartic.  This EP is a limited edition cassette, with a digital download code included, so you'll need to act fast if you are interested.  The Bandcamp link to order from Soft Power Records is below.

Kaspar Hauser are Josh Longton (guitar/vocals), Anne Kastner (bass/vocals), and Andy Brown (drums).  The name comes from a German boy of the 1700s who claimed to have been imprisoned in total isolation growing up.

Bandcamp for EP
Soft Power Records

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Orchestra of Spheres - Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon

Chances are that Orchestra Of Spheres didn't play at your Senior Prom.  But your prom would have been considerably more memorable if they had.  From Wellington, New Zealand, the core lineup is Baba Rossa (vocals/biscuit tin Guitar), Mos Locos (synth/vocals), EtonalE (bass carillon/vocals, and Woild Boin (drums).  A guy named Tooth contributes as well.  Their latest album is Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon, which may sound offbeat until you consider that their previous LP was titled Vibration Animal Sex Brain Music.  Their list of professed influences won't tell you much, other than confirm that this gang is imaginative and coming from a different plane of consciousness than your accountant or attorney.  But this isn't music that demands that you sit and think.  This is dance music with creative use of instruments, non-instruments used as instruments, and rhythms.  It is primal, otherworldly and totally funky.

Test drive Orchestra Of Spheres via the sampler below.  And then think how utterly awesome it would be to toss a few tracks of this on the playlist for your next party.  Your hosting skills will be the subject of legends around the campfires for future generations.  You'll also have a damn fine party.

Brothers and Sisters of the Black Lagoon is out now via Fire Records.

Fire Records page for release

"Blurb" by Pure Moods

Here is a blurb about a new Melbourne guitar pop band.  Or rather it is about "Blurb" from the new Melbourne band Pure Moods.  Warm and melodic, it suggests that these guys could provide us with much joy in the future.  If you are interested, you can buy a digital download at the Bandcamp link below.

Pure Moods are Adam Madric, Alex Lashlie, and Wyatt Knowles.

Bandcamp for digital download of "Blurb"
Deaf Ambitions Records

A Novel Resort - Island of Atlas EP

Island of Atlas EP by Danish band A Novel Resort is here to make your week better.  How do I know?  I had a tough day yesterday, and after playing this four-song record twice, I sighed and felt at peace with the world.  This morning I'm playing it again, and can't get the smile off my face.  This is soaring pop melodies, pristine Scandinavian sound, and smooth vocals the will remind you of Richard Hawley and Northern Portrait.   In fact, the latter similarity is no accident, because A Novel Resort is the solo project of Michael Kornbeck of Northern Portrait.  There is a bit of ice, and a bit of bite to these tunes, but like the music of The Smiths, you can address the songs at the lyrical level, or the melodic level.  We think both will give you more that you spend to get it.

Island of Atlas EP is available now as a digital download or CD from Jigsaw Records.  See the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for Island of Atlas

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Lizzie" by All The Real Girls

All The Real Girls is a Seattle-based project consisting of Jason McGerr (Death Cab For Cutie), Jim Roth (Built To Spill), Erik Corson (The Long Winters), Steve Fisk (Pell Mell), Erik Howk (The Lashes) and Shelby Earl, headed by singer songwriter Peter Donovan.  Shelby Earl is the only girl, but they all are very good musicians.  The band's debut LP, Elk City, will be released in mid June.  The first single is "Lizzie", and we think is is a killer tune of love lost.  Give it a spin below.

We think this record could be very, very good.


Pikelet - Tronc

What is a Pikelet?  It is synth-based art pop with an experimental scope and a romantic heart.  For new album Tronc, all parts are played and voiced by founder Evelyn Morris, who seems equally bent on entertaining and challenging the listener with her brand of weirdo pop.  But unlike some experimental pop music, it is undeniably engaging.  It may come from left field, but it welcomes you into the fantastical world rather than creating a wall.  One of the reasons I think it works so well is that Morris is a masterful songwriter and disciplined performer.  For all of the bells, beats and tones, the compositions are focused and efficient.  And for our money, after spending nearly forty minutes letting Pikelet paint with bright colors inside our heads, the only thing we want to do is press "repeat".

Tronc is out now in cassette and digital formats via Chapter Music.  You can stream Tronc in its entirely at the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for Tronc
Chapter Music page for Tronc
Chapter Music

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Drones - Feelin Kinda Free

Most bands don't endure long enough to release seven studio albums.  For those that do, more often than not the listeners are hearing music that is pretty similar to the sixth, fifth, and fourth albums.  And they know what they are likely to get if there is and eighth.  Then there are The Drones.  The Melbourne rockers new seventh LP, Feelin Kinda Free, is classic for The Drones only in that they carve their own path without worrying about what listeners will say if they don't hear what they've heard before.  Hell, The Drones don't worry about what the listeners will say if they don't get the same style on track three that they heard on track two.  I suspect they also don't obsess about whether there music matches the tastes of the largest number of fans.  For those of us who cherish this band, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Starting in Perth almost 20 years ago, and with a few lineup changes along the way, The Drones spin long, dark songs.  Punk, post punk, garage?  The influences and delivery are varied enough to render the music unclassifiable in terms of musical genre.  It seems more useful to identify emotions such as rage, disdain, disappointment, cynicism and loss.  Or perhaps look at the topics, such as racism, neo-fascism, the rise of ISIS, assholes great and small, consumer culture, and the refugee crisis.  Yes, the world is falling apart and The Drones make it their business.  The delivery can be loud, it can be atonal, it can be slow, but it always is passionate and authentic.  If you are looking for Taylor Swift or Rooney, you are in the wrong place.  Go elsewhere while we fans dance to the visceral darkness.

The Drones are Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Christian Strybosch, Dan Luscombe, and Steve Hesketh.  Feelin Kinda Free is out now on the band's own Tropical Fuck Storm Records and MGM Distribution.


Hate Week - "Night By The Lake" / "Blunt Claws" / "Amplified Heart"

Welcome to Hate Week.  "What?" you ask.  You thought this week was proceeding quite nicely.  You got through Monday, and Tuesday is looking OK.  I understand, but perhaps this won't be too much of a disruption.  You see, Hate Week isn't a week of bad feeling and feuds, it is a Swedish band consisting of Marcus Görsch, Joel Görsch, and Daniel Svanhög.  The name comes from an event in George Orwell's 1984.  Joel and Daniel were in Faintest Ideas together until 2008 (and before that in The Javelins).  They formed Hate Week last year, recruiting Joel's brother Marcus of the band Love Is All to play the drums.  Their first record is the triple A-side "Night By The Lake" / "Blunt Claws" / "Amplified Hearts".  Because the trio has a nose for quality, their debut release is part of the wiaiwya-7777777 singles series.  The three tracks are energetic indie pop with a direct style and punk attitude.  There is a bit of Buzzcocks in this lot and we are happy to welcome them to the scene.

The record is available as a vinyl 7" or digital download.  See the Bandcamp page for details.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Free Time - In Search Of Free Time

That the album art for In Search of Free Time, the sophomore LP from Dion Nania's Australian/American project Free Time boasts vivid colors is completely appropriate.  While this album maintains the relaxed feel and jangling instrumentation of its predecessor, it also reveals a broader scope and brighter tone.  The band, which also includes Joe Alexander from Terrible Truths, Zachary Schneider of Totally Mild, and Martin Frawley of Twerps is tight, confident and perfectly focused as they reel off the pop gems such as "All Four Seasons" and "Who Owns The Moon", the harder rocking opener "Among The Reeds", the vamping "Genius of the Revolution", and the sprawling "5th Floor".  Through it all the stars remains Nania's charming delivery and deft songwriting.  We know that creating great pop songs is hard work, but it is easy to forget that when the results are this good.

We urge you to make time to check out Free Time.  It will be time well-spent.  In Search of Free Time is out now via Bedroom Suck in Australia and New Zealand and Underwater Peoples in North America.

Bedroom Suck Records
Underwater Peoples

"Shawshank" by Mumrunner, free download

Finnish rockers Mumrunner craft dense but melodic soundscapes, pulling together alt rock intensity, dream pop haze, and pop melodies.  On the cusp of releasing a new EP for Helsinki label Soliti Music, the band has released "Shawshank" as a free download.  Consider it a very satisfying test drive of the new EP.  Download it from the stream below, or from your favorite digital outlet.

And if you have a moment, click on the Bandcamp link below to experience last year's EP.

Bandcamp for 2015 Full Blossom EP
Soliti Music

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Introducing: Fascinations Grand Chorus

The background story is that Stephanie, who provides vocals and keys, and Andrew, who mans the drums, were in competing projects before testing the waters as a team.  I can't provide any perspective as I am unfamiliar with their previous bands, but to my ears their Fascinations Grand Chorus has the sound of success.  Girls group plus surf plus indie energy may not be a new invention, but when done well it always pleases.  Two of their creations are below, and both are included on the band's self-titled EP, soon to be available via Silent Stereo Records, as well as separately available via Bandcamp.

Silent Stereo Records

Photo Cred: Kelli McGuire

Introducing: SoccerPractise

You should be pleased to meet Auckland's electronic and multimedia four-piece SoccerPractise.  Their latest single, "Haere Mai E Tama", is captivating ears in their homeland, and they are sharing bills with Youmi Zuma and Doprah, other New Zealand bands that have featured here.  "Haere Mai E Tama" is sung in Te Reo Maori over a cinematic arrangement.  It is hauntingly beautiful, and heralds the arrival of a talented band.  We also have a stream of their prior single, "Windfall", which should find its way into any dancefloor set list.

SoccerPractise are Geneva Alexander Marsters (vocals), Kim Newall (multimedia), Leo Horgan (guitar), and Thom Burton Programs.  Their label is Freezing Works Music.

A tip of the When You Motor Away touring cap to fine Dunedin blog Pop Lib for bringing SoccerPractise to our attention.

Freezing Works Music page for SoccerPractise

Friday, May 6, 2016

John Girgus and the Legendary House Cats - Synesthesize

Even confirmed dog people, like me, celebrate new music by John Girgus and the Legendary House Cats.  The solo (with help from friends as needed) project of John Girgus, whose past and current credits include Aberdeen, Languis and Non Ultra Joy, it offers dreamy electronic soundscapes with sweet pop hooks.  His latest work is "Synesthesize", which is available as a free download accompanied by a remix of the track.  Free stuff of Friday from a wonderful, even legendary, cat.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Astronauts - End Codes

End Codes, the new solo LP from London's Dan Carney, performing under the name Astronauts, delivers 48 minutes of aural bliss.  And I put that up front because if you get no further in this post, you need to know that fact.  Blending acoustic and electronic elements into delightfully detailed layers of melody and urgent rhythm, it is folky indie pop with a frequently dark core.  It consistently delights the ears while tickling the listener's brain.

If you want choral anthems going for the rafters, or three minute pop songs with multiple hooks, this isn't your album.  But if you are interested in immersing your head is well constructed music that develops at a less rigid pace, your patience will be more than rewarded.

End Codes is available this week via Lo Recordings.

Lo Recordings page for End Codes

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

"The Church" / "My Own Invention" by Patience

Roxanne Clifford has been in several bands that we like very much: Sexy Kids, The Royal We; and more recently the wonderful Veronica Falls.  It seems that the latter band is finished, or at least on hold, but Clifford is launching her solo project Patience.  While her previous bands were guitar-based, this one dwells in the land of synth pop.  Her first record as Patience is "The Church" / "Hy Own Invention", which is available this Friday via Night School Records.  The lead track features sweet and sour nostalgic vocals over a forward-pushing dance track.  Enjoy it below.  Note that the 7" is limited to 300 copies.

Night School Records page for release