Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Specifically, we have The Popguns' mainstays, and husband and wife, Simon and Wendy Pickles recording as The Perfect English Weather. Their opening statement is Isobar Blues, which has just been released by Matinee Recordings. The album contains all of the melody and hooks one expects from Simon and Wendy, with what seems to my ears a bit more intimacy, with the dreamy elements more subtly expressed and the arrangements slightly dialed back and streamlined. The songs are mostly uptempo guitar pop, but a few ballads nestle in the mix like those wonderful little packages one always enjoys finding under the Christmas Tree in late December. And over the years, Wendy's voice remains one of the treasures of pop music.
Every pop fan who hears this album will choose favorites -- mine include "The Sweetest Feeling", "Hit Town (A.T.H.E.N.S.)", "Spirited Away", "Christmas Single (Call Me)", and "You Wrote". But circling back to our opening theme, the magic here is in the connection. The Pickles' songs of scenes from their lives, in cafes, record stores, connecting with old friends, a missed concert in Athens, and so on, connect with me to a rare degree. It isn't that they are stories of my life, but listening to them I feel included in their lives, and it is a comfortable and special feeling.
Make room for Isobar Blues, it is one of the year's indie pop gems.
Matinee Recordings page for album
Monday, November 28, 2016
Try out a few of my favorite tracks below, or visit the Bandcamp link for a full stream. Like all Jigsaw releases, the price is attractive.
Bandcamp for The Sorrow You've Been Toting Around
Jigsaw Records page for The Sorrow You've Been Toting Around
Bandcamp for other Scooterbabe recordings
Matt Bailey is a fine storyteller and crafts songs that are warm and hit the head and the heart with just the right touch, so we encourage everyone to give him a chance. Guilty Until Proven Innocent is available now as a limited edition CD or digital download. See the Bandcamp link below.
Bandcamp for Guilty Until Proven Innocent
Sunday, November 27, 2016
One of our favorite locations to find music is New Zealand, and one of our favorite New Zealand bands is The Verlaines. Of course, that hasn't added much to our music collection lately as Graeme Downes and company have only recorded sporadically. However, with Dunedin's Spleen set for release in 2017, you can sample the goods via album track "AWCWD". The album will be released by Flying Nun, but we have no pre-order information at this time.
Flying Nun Records
Saturday, November 26, 2016
It Is Something to Have Been is a special release -- not only for the quality of the songs from four of Scotland's best, but because it is released in honor of the recently deceased father of label owner Lloyd Meredith. The four songs are gentle in tone, but powerful in spirit, as is appropriate to celebrate the impact of a life now ended. The title of the album comes from the final line of G.K. Chesterton's poem The Great Minimum. It is perfect for a holiday weekend's relaxation, reflection, and remembrance of loved ones now gone. Available in vinyl format, you can stream it below or at the Bandcamp link.
Bandcamp for EP
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Poulson is a Melbourne singer songwriter with an incredible knack for melody, and a satchel full of stories that is remarkable for a guy who has lived fewer than thirty years. He also has some talented friends that helped him record Brutal Politic over a period of time in 2015 and 2016. Varying his approach between power pop, jangle, dream pop, acoustic, country romp and other styles, the songs are invariably dynamic but carefully crafted. Paulson's tenor is soft, but his delivery derives power from nuance and sincerity. He covers romantic break ups, transferred blame, appreciation of Portland, Oregon, unspoken accusations, bitter taunts, obsessive yearning, and realization that certain cherished dreams of youth are dead (in this case, Jack's dreams of playing Aussie Rules Football, addressed in "Back Pocket's Lament"). There isn't a weak song in the set, but for my ears the best are "Words For Me", "So Polite", "The Beast", "Can't Be", and "Back Pocket's Lament".
So do yourself a favor for this long holiday weekend, go to the Bandcamp link below and buy yourself a present. It is a gift that will give you pleasure for a long time. We highly recommend this one.
Bandcamp for Brutal Politic
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
The Courtneys are Courtney Loove (guitar), Sydney Koke (bass), and Jen Twynn Payne (vocals/drums).
Bandcamp for Courtney II
Flying Nun Records
Monday, November 21, 2016
Some may respond to the relaxed tone and soft vocals on Perks and relegate it to the bedroom pop channel, but I think that is a shallow analysis. The lyricism presented on this album are bold and ambitious and the arrangements detailed and sturdy. It is music much better suited for driving along the coastal highway than sitting inside. Consider it an album for happy, contented extroverts with nothing immediate to prove but a desire for a great soundtrack.
Redspencer are Dave McMillian, Aiden McMillian, Andre Franco, and Alex Buchanan. Perks is out now via Deaf Ambitions (see the Bandcamp link below).
Bandcamp for Perks
Sunday, November 20, 2016
I'm expecting 2017 to be a rough year in many respects, so I've been scanning the news of upcoming albums hoping for some good cheer in the gloom. The best news on that front so far is that New Zealand's The Bats will release a 12-track album named Deep Set in January 2017 via Flying Nun (I think Captured Tracks will have the US release). The first song for our ears is "Antlers". The song features the band's trademark jangle, chime and harmonies. But this band in unafraid of exploring the shadows, so we also are expecting the album to continue to reveal the band's thematic depth.
Bandcamp page for numerous releases by The Bats
Friday, November 18, 2016
The Great Leap Backward is released by California label Matinee Recordings.
Matinee Recordings' page for album
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The alansmithee side is the dreamy, psychedelic guitar pop we count on them to deliver. The side provided by Menage a Trois takes a more groove/funk-oriented approach to psychedelia. Together, this may just be your find of the week. Stream below to hear for yourselves. The Bandcamp links are provided. I've also included links for alansmithee. I was unable to find anything useful for Menage a Trois, but I'll warn that the name in a search engine may not be a good idea.
Bandcamp for alansmithee's five songs
Bandcamp for Menage a Trois' five songs
Facebook for alansmithee
Twitter for alansmithee
The post-election, everyone's fighting blues got me today, so I needed something connecting me to back to normal life. To the rescue comes Temper of the Times, the new album from Kent Eugene Goolsby. Offering powerful rock guitars, singer songwriter sincerity, and KEG's whiskey-soaked velvet vocals (with spouse Anna Leigh providing the harmonies), KEG lets us into his life so far. Good decisions, bad decisions, successes, failures, and the commitment to the musician's life. In addition to his formidable musical talents and enviable vocal abilities, he quite simply has a way with words that puts just the right spin on the tale (note that his webpage includes the lyrics). He doesn't celebrate his imperfections, but he reveals then directly and with humor, and puts it all in context -- there are good days and bad days, but celebrate the entire journey. And it is that spirit that gives the album just the right amount of weight.
I've been sitting here for a while trying to decide whether the guitars or the vocals were my favorite aspect of Temper of the Times. Then I realized that the election must of scrambled my brains -- why even decide the question? They both are great, and so is this album.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
San Mei is songwriter, vocalist, guitarist and producer Emily Hamilton, our favorite musician from Gold Coast, Australia. We've featured her music several times in the past, and today we are revealing "Rewind", her new single. The song features her sweet melodies and engaging vocals over a crunching rock arrangement. Good look, Emily, we hope to hear more.
"Rewind" will be released November 25. We expect a debut EP next year.
Monday, November 14, 2016
XOXO kicks off with "Freeway", a new wave slice of indie pop that is perfect to get everyone at your next party dancing. "I Get Lost" follows with a perfect blend of riot girl, garage pop, and slacker doo wop. The band turns down the pop for the post punk "Digital Girl". Next is the garage romp "Pretty Enough". The EP ends with the upbeat "Run In Dreams" and the rootsy boot stomping "In The Garden". Very good stuff from a band to watch.
XOXO is out now via Velvet Blue Music.
Bandcamp for XOXO
Velvet Blue Music page for XOXO
Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers, the duo that comprise Glasgow's Honeyblood, don't suffer fools, and they aren't quiet about it. Stina snarls the lead vocals and plays guitar while Cat Myers ferociously wields the drumsticks. In fact, the volume and intensity on their recently released second album, the defiantly-named Babes Never Die, would lead an uninformed listener to conclude that that band had several more members. But it isn't all about the noise. There are plenty of hooks and a meaty groove underneath the shouted choruses. The band dials it back on a few tunes (for example, "Walking At Midnight" and, most especially, "Cruel"), and does it well. But this is album isn't about confessing vulnerability or even negotiating compromise. Honeyblood are unapologetic rockers, and Babes Never Die is a worthy calling card.
Babes Never Die is out now via FatCat Records.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Friday, November 11, 2016
The album kicks off with the punk fury of "Look Around". By track three, "Heart Line" we are in heavy rhythm new wave territory. Other highlights are punky "Evil", the new wave anthem
"Mirror Mirror", and the glittering "Tess".
Hi-Tec Emotions are Ema Dunstan (vocals/keys), Jess Lakatosh (bass), and Mackenzie Randall (drums). Hard to Handle is out now via Listen Records.
Bandcamp for Hard to Handle
Arborist is an band fronted by Northern Irishman (Co Antrim) Mark McCambridge, a man who infuses power in his music via lyrical content and carefully layered instruments, rather than by volume. There are people who give such quiet music little attention. In our view, if that attitude causes people to ignore Arborist's debut LP Home Burial, those people are missing out on some great music. McCambridge's stories are lucid and flowing with excellent word-smithing. He has an eye for darkness, but the phrasing and arrangements don't allow the proceedings to become unbearably weighty. The overarching themes are home and death, with related topics such as ageing, sadness, funerals, and fractured families. McCambridge is equally comfortable composing in indie pop/alt folk and country veins, and the 11 tracks on Home Burial include both. One of the most engaging of the country-tinged offerings is "Twisted Arrow", which features Kim Deal.
While never loud, the album is rich in details, from various guitar styles to horns, piano, and strings. While my preference leans to the tunes with fewer country elements, especially "I Heard Him Leaving" and "A Man Of My Age", there is not a bad song in the set, and "Twisted Arrow" is a gem. Make note of it, Arborist is a budding star.
In addition to McCambridge, the players on the album are Richard Hill, James Heaney, Ben McAuley, Johnny Ashe, and Luke Bannon. Home Burial is out today via Kirkinrola Records in CD, LP and digital formats.
The album contains warm Tropicalia, then skittering percussion, then dancing grooves, then someones hallucination set to glorious music. Add in some drone and a dash of techno. And pop music that dissolves into something else, and then pops out of the closet and says "boo, I'm pop again". None of it comes at the time, or from the direction, you expect -- perhaps a bit like the musical equivalent of watching changes images in a set of changing warped mirrors. But nevertheless, it all comes at a time and from a direction that is better than what you expected.
Get up and move forward with Virginia Wing.
Forward Constant Motion is out as of November 11 via Fire Records.
Bandcamp for Forward Constant Motion
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
The project is the brainchild of vibraphonist and pianist Toby Danzer, who dreamt he was asked to tell the tales of ancient Greek gods. Toby's accepted the challenge, and chose to fulfill it via instrumental soul music with the assistance of some of New York's best musicians. And the results are fantastic -- vibrant, evocative soul music that manages to connect with the listener despite the absence of any spoken words. Pazner and company set the stage, provide the backdrop and inspiration, and let your mind paint the rest of the picture. It is indeed digital magic, my friends, and you owe it to yourself to give The Olympians a try.
In addition to Toby Pazner, The Olympians are Thomas Brenneck, Dave Guy, Leon Michels, Micholas Movshon, Homer Steinweiss, Michael Leonhart, Neal Sugarman, Aaron Johnson, and Evan Pazner.
The Olympians on Twitter
Bandcamp for The Olympians
Daptone Records page for The Olympians
Monday, November 7, 2016
Matinee Recordings page for the album
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Pure Moods have arrived. The trio comprised of Adam Madric, Alex Lahlie, and Wyatt Knowles features a wealth of experience with other Melbourne bands, but this self-titled LP is their debut together. Featuring well constructed guitar pop varying uptempo songs with more languid arrangements which may remind the listener of fellow Melbourne band The Ocean Party, the band delivers a consistent and worthy addition to the formidable roster of indie bands from their home town. The harmonies are sweet and recall a sunny afternoon spent in the backyard with musician friends, a case of beer and some inspiration. Admittedly, it isn't all sunshine, and "From My Pocket", in particular, explores less happy moments. But happy or sad, this is a set of songs to cherish.
We have a few of our favorite songs from Pure Moods to showcase the goods.
Order page for album
Friday, November 4, 2016
What a welcome album we have in Goodbye Terrible Youth! My ears say thank you. My brain says thank you. My heart says thank you. It is the work of American Wrestlers, the project founded by transplanted Scot and former shoegazer Gary McClure. Blending together a meaty stew of distortion, fuzz and jangle, with overdriven guitars, organ and synths, this is modern indie rock for those of us that have always loved indie rock. The riffs will remind you of the '90s in a very good way, but you'll find a veins of Big Star power pop and welcome chunks of California/Manchester guitar pop as well.
The arrangements are direct, unfussy and sparkle with youthful vigor. The thematic focus is inward and retrospective, with sharp songwriting that evinces the mind of a man who knows what he wants to say. You will find snarl, disappointment, defiance, triumph, and moments of sweet reflection. Where American Wrestlers' 2015 debut album walked the lo-fi path of bedroom pop, the 2016 version of the band is ready for -- and deserves -- a bigger stage.
Goodbye Terrible Youth is out now via Fat Possum Records. American Wrestlers are Gary McClure (guitars/vocals), Bridgette Imperial (keys), Josh Van Hoorebeke (drums), and Ian Reitz (bass).
Bandcamp for Goodbye Terrible Youth
Fat Possum Records
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Tiny Little Houses began as the solo project of Caleb Karvountzis. For the last couple of years the band has been a four piece, with Caleb joined by Sean Mullins, Clancy Bond, and Al Yamin.
Snow Globe is out now via Ivy League Records
Bandcamp (previous releases)
Ivy League Records
The facts are that Halloween was a blur of sugar-induced semi-consciousness, near alcohol poisoning and silly costumes. We call it "Monday". So you read about The Haunting of Bloody Death Skull a couple of days later. However -- and quite accidentally -- the journalistic malpractice is not as bad as we feared, because it really isn't a ghoulish album. The themes can trend to the dark side at times, but overall this is a delightful bundle of retro girl group, doo wop and garage stylings sung in a girlish voice by the talented Argentina to Florida to Columbia University to California Daiana Feuer and supporting conspirators, including Gerard Olson, Beth McSelf, and Donna Bummer. The tunes are snappy, sweetly bittersweet (yes, that's a thing), slightly shaggy and very fun. A bit of punk attitude and some toy instruments give it a delightful extra edge.
The Haunting of Bloody Death Skull is out now as a self-release. See the Bandcamp link below for this EP and previous releases.
Bandcamp for The Haunting of Bloody Death Skull
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Helsinki, Finland is a long way from California, and 2016 is a long time after the '70s, but Paltsa-Kai Salama makes the geographic and temporal journey effortless on his excellent new album of sun-kissed, pastoral, psychedelic pop, Night At The Beach. Make no mistake, this is contemporary indie pop, but Salama's creations seem inspired by the Grateful Dead, CSN&Y, The Byrds and other worthies of the '70s that could be mentioned. And unlike the denser music of Black Lizard, the other band he fronts, the results are warm, airy and bring to mind nights under the stars on the veranda along the beach. Several of the songs, including the affecting "Carry Away" rely solely on acoustic instrumentation, while the opening and closing tracks, "Ran Out Of Love" and "Cry No More", respectively, are tightly crafted indie pop tunes. A few songs display country rock touches appropriate for the influences. "Silent Moment" is a highlight for several reasons, not the least of which is Jussi Hurskainen's saxophone.
Throught Night At The Beach Salama displays a deft touch with bringing the songs to life. Each tracks wears its heart on its sleeve, and has the right amount of energy and flair. We certainly don't want him to quit Black Lizard, but we are happy to celebrate the breadth of his newly revealed talents.
Night At The Beach is out now via Helsinki's Soliti Music. The players on the album were Paltsa-Kai Salama (vocals/guitars), Sampo Seppänen (bass/percussion), Iiro Tulkki (keys), and Jussi Hurskainen (sax). All songs were written by Paltsa-Kai Salama.
Soliti Music page for Night At The Beach
Soliti Music page for Paltsa-Kai Salama