Friday, March 31, 2017

Coco Hames - Coco Hames

The new self-titled album from Coco Hames, the former frontwoman or beloved garage pop outfit The Ettes, is your perfect music to start the weekend.  But we suspect that it won't leave your playlist for a long time.  Hames packs the record with earworm, '60s-style melodies, sung with a versatility that encompasses Spector-era girl groups, pop seductress, strutting indie rock frontwoman, and alt country siren.  And while the arrangements and melancholy pop themes nestle neatly in the indie pop standard channel, the songwriting is adept and sincere, and the execution is top quality. From the beginning to the end, the star is Coco's appealing voice, like honey laced with a shot of hot sauce. When added to her gritty performances with The Ettes, the inescapable conclusion is that Coco Hames is an artist that can deliver a winning performance in any style of pop music. Coco Hames is the beginning of a new, and very bright future for the young lady.

The album is out today on digital, CD, and vinyl formats via Merge Records.

Bandcamp for the album
Merge Records' page for album

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Foghorns - ... on a Dog's Ass Sometimes

I was thinking today (hence the splitting headache), Seattle is a city on the shore of a body of salt water with a major port and a fair amount of fog and mist, so it really should have a band called The Foghorns.  Then I remembered, Seattle does have a band named The Foghorns.  And while some members are from other places, including New York, exotic Iceland and even more exotic, Wisconsin (as is the writer of this feature), they are ours for now.  However, they seem to be planning to disband, and their new record is meant to be part 2 of their farewell album.  They may change their minds, but in case they don't, this album is a total joy, and the digital is only $5

The Foghorns are a generous band, and when they get a good idea, they give their listeners two shots instead of one.  Hence, there are two songs where the title references a motor vehicle, two songs with 'dirty old man' in the lyrics, two songs with a style of dance in the title, and two songs that reference a foreign location.  They are a bit of a musical Noah's Ark, I suppose.  It is true that only one song title references Jesus, but the band probably figured he could carry the load solo.  The gang has great taste as well -- "Spanish Accusations" is a cover of Jon Rooney's song, that was one of my favorites from the Secret Kids album by his Virgin Of The Birds project last year.  Enjoy a stream below.  But first, a farewell project deserves a full list of credits:

Bart Cameron: vocals, guitars, harmonica 
Jason Kopec: drums, pots and pans 
Ken Nottingham: bass 
Lauren Trew: bass clarinet, vocals 
Colin Nelson: choir-leader, drums, percussion 
Matthew Ploszaj: choir 
Casey Ruff: choir 
Peter Colclasure: piano, accordion 
Paul Beaudry is in the choir, but does not appear on this recording 
Elin (Ella) Cameron: appears at times on the recording 

Recorded by Colin J. Nelson at Her Car Studios. Mastered by Carl Saff.


"In Love With Myself" by The Legends

Music never sleeps, and the next LP from Sweden's The Legends works the nocturnal side under the title Nightshift.  And while it is too soon to explore the album, we can bring you the single "In Love With Myself", featuring guest vocalist Elin Berlin working alongside Mr. Legend, Johan Angergård.  The song mashes techno and electro pop with the energy and forward push of a fevered funk-jam session.  Exciting stuff -- enjoy it below.

Nightshift will be released in double disc limited edition vinyl, digital and CD formats on April 21 via Stockholm's Labrador Records.

Labrador Records

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kelly Lee Owens - Kelly Lee Owens

Last year I was sent an EP by a Welsh-born Londoner named Kelly Lee Owens.  I was impressed, but very busy and didn't get around to writing about it.  But I made a mental note to pay attention to her future solo work, so I dutifully listened to her self-titled debut album this week.  The verdict, for those of you who don't like to wait for the bottom line, is that Kelly Lee Owens likely is the most adventuresome yet fully accessible electronic album you'll hear this year.  Oh, sure, its only the end of March, but the album really is that good.  In fact, I thing that I could broaden my statement to last year and next year  and have a decent chance of not being wrong.

The songs are based in techno, but transcend to broader dance modes, electro pop, electronic, dreampop and experimental pop.  At times it is airy and subtle (but never shy), other times sensual and stylish, and yet others pulsing and throbbing.  But it always has a purposeful and very forward drive.  As an artist, Owens is bold and clever, but also very sincere.  She is on the voyage with her audience, trying to please others by pleasing herself, and willing to take risks to do so.  I'd like to think she is a big fan of this album, and given her talent, that is good news for all of us.

Kelly Lee Owens is out now.  See the Bandcamp link below for details.

Bandcamp for album

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bardo Pond - Under The Pines

With six songs and in a bit over 40 minutes, Under The Pines stands as a perfect statement of the essence of Bardo Pond.  Heavy, throbbing riffs, experimental static, distortion and fuzz, reverb and drone, strings ethereal vocals riding the storm, and moments of delicacy bracketed by the sonic wall, it is all on display.  The Philadelphia band manages to be weighty, but avoids brutality with streaks of light and air.  And while this might sound like some stoner's dream band, and for all I know many stoners consider it their dream band, the delights aren't just for those ingesting substances.  Under The Pines is serious music, and seriously good music, for the times  when you want the rock to roll.

Bardo Pond are Michael Gibbons (guitar), John Gibbons (guitar), Isobel Sollenberger (flute and vocals), Clint Takeda (bass guitar) and Jason Kourkounis (drums).  Under The Pines is out now in digital, CD and vinyl formats via Fire Records.

Bandcamp for Under The Pines
Fire Records' page for Under the Pines

Imaginary Tricks - Skommel

I'm a busy guy, so sometimes I attempt to multitask.  Multitasking supposedly is doing several things at once, but as the daughter of a friend said, multitasking is doing two or more things badly at the same time.  But the point is that I was at the office, trying to get some work done, and I streamed this new album titled Skommel through my earphones.  The theory was that I would evaluate the album while working, but usually that leads to the music becoming background and at the end of the album I have little idea about the album.  But the music on Skommel doesn't stay in the background.  It wiggles through your brain and takes it over like a science fiction alien taking over the inhabitants of a space station -- except that this take over is very, very welcome.

Skommel is the creation of Imaginary Tricks, who stitched together ten songs of found hooks, rhythms, and beats, and then glazed with their own inspired concoctions of keys, drums, bass and guitar, and a great feel for a good melody.  The results often may remind you of pieces of other songs, but that flash of partial recognition is part of the addictive allure of this album.  Imaginary Tricks may construct their songs of echoes of other songs, but they have the impeccable taste to only echo the best sounds -- glam riffs, R&B vocals, disco rhythms, and surf pop harmonies.  And more importantly, they have the ability to smear it with their own special sauce.  The result is an album that is joy to hear, and your smile will grow broader with each repeated listen.

Imaginary Tricks is Mike Visser and Harlan Muir.  Skommel is out now via Friendship Fever Records.

Friendship Fever Records
Friendship Fever Records' Twitter

Monday, March 27, 2017

The State Broadcasters - A Different Past

We don't do one-word features here.  Not that we aren't tempted, but even for us slackers at WYMA headquarters it seems just too obviously lazy to type "good", or "loud", or some other semi-descriptive terms and press 'post'.  But if we were to post just one word for A Different Past, the new album from Glasgow's The State Broadcasters, it would be "sunshine".  And that word wouldn't be chosen because all of the themes embodied in the songs of this album are sunny, but because pop this sparkling suggests sunshine regardless of lyrical content.  A Different Past is sophisticated without being slick, sweet without being cloying, and immediate while being carefully crafted.  Their third album may have been four years in the making, but the results demonstrate time well spent.

The band has a wide sweet spot, with indie rock tracks such as "Feelin' Alive" living harmoniously with Americana gems such as "Cycle Home Drunk" piano-driven indie pop such as opener "Break My Fall" and the lovely "Folding", ballads such as "Braced Against The Cold" and "Let The Wolves Roam", and delicate folk such as closer "Ribbons".  In addition to thoughtful and incisive songwriting, The State Broadcasters benefit from multiple vocalists and an instrumental palate that encompasses brass, accordion, double bass and strings, as well as more traditional pop/rock tools of the trade.  The result is vibrant music with every track sounding fresh and distinct.  Yes, indeed, there is pretty strong wattage to this sunshine.

A Different Past is out on March 24 on vinyl, CD and Digital formats via Glasgow label Olive Grove Records.  See the Bandcamp link for details.  The State Broadcasters are Pete MacDonald (piano/trombone/vocals), Gillian Fleetwood (harp/accordion/vocals), Cameron Maxwell (double bass/trombone/electric bass/vocals), David McGinty (guitar/vocals), and Susan Appelbe (cello/vocals).

Bandcamp for A Different Past
Olive Grove Records

Friday, March 24, 2017

Secret Meadow - Same Old Fear EP

You probably have been wondering lately about whether there are any good guitar bands in Indonesia.  That's understandable -- I'm sure that it is a question on many minds.  Well, we can take some stress out of your life and advise you that Secret Meadow from Jakarta does, indeed, deserve your attention.  The good tastemakers at Jigsaw Records have just released the Same Old Fear, a five-song EP of jangling shoegaze.  The melodies soar, and the gentle vocals weave in and out of the mix while the swirling guitars and synths take center stage.  Really good stuff, folks.

We weren't able to discover much information about the band, but we can tell you that Secret Meadow are Ricardo Taufano (Guitar/Vocal), Jaro Petang (Guitar/Synth), Arief RWijaya (Bass), and Mulyana A. Viqry (Drums).

Bandcampfor Same Old Fear EP

Delay Trees - Let Go

It seems to us that Finnish band Delay Trees have some things to celebrate.  They have been together for a decade, and they are releasing Let Go, their fourth album, certainly achievements to note.  But it seems to us that there is even more to celebrate, as in our opinion the new album is a nice step forward for an already very good band.  In past recordings, the foursome displayed a deft touch in creating swirling dreampop.  However, from the opening notes of the majestic opener, "Black Ice", Delay Trees cut through the mist with direct, melodic rock with purpose, drive and subtlety.

Let Go speaks to endings, beginnings, survival and hope.  And it does so with wide-scape guitar pop that soars and inspires.  The styles range from the Teenage Fanclub-esque "It's Not Who You Are", "Black Ice", "Best Things" and "Phases", to the more pop oriented "Sound of Darkness" and "Hum", to the rumbling indie rock of "Blame It On The Snow" and "It's Not Who You Are", to the  a bit of dreampop of "Hope".  We've been living with this album over the past month or so, and if we have been posting less it partially is due to reaching for Let Go rather than another record on the stack waiting for attention.  My current favorites are "Black Ice", "Phases", "Best Things", and "Pale July", but such a list is subject to change with my moods, and there are many worthy contenders on this album.  If you go to the Bandcamp link you can stream the entire album, and it will be time well spent.

Delay Trees are Rami Vierula (vocals/guitar/keys), Lauri Järvinen (guitars/keys/backing vocals), Sami Korhonen (bass), and Onni Oikari (drums/percussion/guitars/backing vocals (lead on "Hum")).  Let Go is released today via Helsinki's Soliti Music

Soliti Music page for Let Go
Bandcamp for Let Go

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Èlan Vital - Shadow Self

Put on your earphones and surf the darkwave dreams of Dunedin, New Zealand's Èlan Vital on their debut LP Shadow Self.  Synths groan and drone, rise and fall, lasers shoot, but all with a sly dance-able undercurrent, veins of analog warmth, and a human touch with the female vocals.  The overall effect is as if the band threw their dreams and nightmares in a big pot and cooked it to trance/dance soundscape.  Oh, and we should mention that it is highly addictive and, like all addictive substances, becomes more so with prolonged exposure.

The album commences with a Gothic tone and static fog, but as it unspools we are treated to increased dynamics (e.g. the spacey, funky "Space") and lighter moments, such as on "Janina", break through like rays of sunshine.  Èlan Vital seem to have a strong sense of what they want to do, and the ability to execute their ideas.  Impressively, they stay within their desired groove while keeping the compositions accessible to the listener.  I chose a few representative tracks below, but I recommend the final stream, which will give you the full album.  To my ears, the songs on the last half of the record are especially recommended, but it is all good.

If we understand correctly, the genesis of the band was in Berlin, where two of its members resided.  A following stop was Auckland, on New Zealand's north island, and then a relocation to Dunedin.  The band's current rehearsal space is the None Gallery which, before it became an artist-run creative space served time as a pharmaceutical factory and then a strip club.

Èlan Vital is Renee Barrance (keyboards, vocals), Danny Brady (synths, drum machines, effects, vocals) and Nikolai Sim (bass).  Shadow Self is released on vinyl, CD and digital formats via Fishrider Records on March 24, and by Occultation Recordings in UK/Europe on May 12.

Bandcamp for Shadow Self
Fishrider Records
Occultation Recordings

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bunch - Forever My Sparring Partner

We here at WYMA are a lot like the rest of you.  After all, we put on our pants one leg at at time -- at least on the days we wear pants.  One difference, however, is that when we learn of great new music our first instinct is to write about it here so you can enjoy it as well.  It is, after all, why we exist, not the trappings of the glamorous lifestyle of pop music journalists with a $3 annual expense account (no questions asked!) and as many paper clips as our hearts desire.

So today we bring you Forever My Sparring Partner by Alabama band Bunch.  Founded by ex El Cantador Heath Underwood, this is guitar-oriented rock that is earthy and soulful -- elements which characterize our favorite southern rock.  More specifically, the album is a collection of gospels of red dirt, full blooded lives, travails, lessons, persistence and triumphs, told with a keen eye, a poet's tongue and an artist's flair.  The performances are tight, and fully do justice to the material.  And don't read too much into the "southern" tag.  The music is un-mistakenly regional, but is in no way country.

You may note at the Bandcamp link below that Forever My Sparring Partner was released in mid-November, and we are just getting around to writing about it.  News travels slowly to us in the North, and other events in November had captured our bandwidth for a while.  Check out some tracks below, and if they hit the spot, go to the Bandcamp link and play the entire album.  You will note that the lyrics are available, and I suggest displaying them while listening.  Then buy the record like good little boys and girls.

All songs on Forever My Sparring Partner were written and arranged by Heath Underwood, who also provided the vocals, as well as guitars, pedals and effects, and vibe-bells.  Additional players and vocalists were Paul Kimsal, Joe Dickey, Allan Castleberry, Simon Roper, Matt Prince, Maria Kowalski, Bruce Bouton, Lesley Jones-Smith, Amanda Smolinski, Victoria Noll, and Samantha Harlow.

Bandcamp for Forever My Sparring Partner

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Copenhagen" by First Hate

Danish duo First Hate will be dropping their debut album A Prayer For The Unemployed on May 12, and you can get your first listen of the electro pop excellence via "Copenhagen".  The album will be released by Copenhagen label Escho.


Emotional - The Band

Brian Wakefield is Emotional.  Not that he is weepy or has anger management issues.  He just is, well, Emotional.  I think that when Brian originally became Emotional, the project was just Brian and a crowded bedroom as a side project to Melted Toys and his other side projects.  But over time the project seems to have become his main focus.  And that causes happiness here at WYMA, because Brian's brand on psychedelic garage pop is a particular favorite.  For his new album, his second full-length, he seems to have gathered a band.  So, of course, the album is named The Band.  After all, you have to take care of the people who take care of you.

It is rare to hear an album that suggests influences as varied as Syd Barrett, Big Star, Gram Parsons.  And even rarer, I suspect, would be an album that shares that influences by nevertheless presents a coherent style.  But The Band is such an album, presenting nine varied songs of smeared psychedelic pop that delights from open to close.  We've provided a few tracks below, but we urge you to hit the Bandcamp link and listen to the entire album.

The Band is released on Brian's own Long Live Death Records, and Emotional are in the midst of a US tour.  We've provided dates and venues below (although we personally believe that if you don't come to Seattle, you aren't trying very hard).  In creating the album, Wakefield received contributions from Alex Brettin, Danny James, Sarah Bethe Nelson, Simi Sohota, Emmet Moskowitz, Geoff Morris, Ole Haarstad and Joel Robinow.

Bandcamp for The Band
Death Records' page for The Band

Mar. 21 — Nashville, TN @ Blackbird Tattoo*$
Mar. 22 — Lexington, KY @ Best Friend Bar *
Mar. 23 — Washington, DC @ Smash! Records *
Mar. 24 — Boston, MA @ Middle East Upstairs *$
Mar. 25 — New York, NY @ Baby’s All Right *$
Mar. 26 — Burlington, VT @ TBD *
Mar. 27 — New York, NY @ Berlin ^#
Mar. 28 — Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Upstairs ^
Mar. 29 — Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog *
Mar. 30 — Indianapolis, IN @ SST *
Mar. 31 — Milwaukee, WI @ Company Brewing *
Apr. 1 — Chicago, IL @ Cole’s Bar *
Apr. 2 — Minneapolis, MN @ TBD *
Apr. 3 — Kansas City, MO @ Blind Tiger *
Apr. 4 — Denver, CO @ Hi Dive*
Apr. 5 — Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *
Apr. 6 — Las Vegas, NV @ The Griffin *
Apr. 7 — Joshua Tree
* = w/ The Memories
% = w/ Death Valley Girls, Death Hymn No. 9
$ = w/ Colleen Green
# = w/ Cosmonauts

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Tourists" and "Let Us Prey" by Mt. Doubt

Mt. Doubt is an Edinburgh project fronted by Leo Bargery that we think has the right stuff.  "Tourists" and "Let Us Prey" are Mt. Doubt's contributions to Tourists / Lights Off, Carry Me Home, a split vinyl 7" that will be released by Scottish Fiction on March 31.  The other two tracks on the record are by Scottish rockers Foreignfox.  You can stream both of Mt. Doubt's tracks below, and we also have the band's new video for "Tourist".

Scottish Fiction
Bandcamp for split single

Friday, March 17, 2017

"Floored" by Stutter Steps

Ben Harrison is a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.  He also is the frontman for Stutter Steps, which released one of our favorite debuts of 2015.  The core sound is a jangling guitar pop that would fit well in the catalog of some of our favorite southern hemisphere bands.  The project soon will release a six-song EP titled Floored on Blue Arrow Records.  The title track is available now as a single, and you can enjoy a stream below.

Blue Arrow Records

Thursday, March 16, 2017

31Ø8 - 31Ø8 (BLU)

Unusual names can get a band noticed, but for those of us that write about music unusual spelling, capitalization or characters present challenges.  Of course, the easy approach would be to ignore the bands that create extra effort.  But that presents a problem when the band is good.  A case in point is London project 31Ø8.  That unusual third character isn't on my keyboard, but the music on their new album definitely is the sort of thing I want to hear, and want to tell our readers about.  So I'm stuck working harder for the same wage.  Oh, and even though we refer to 31Ø8 as a band, the liner notes also say that it is one guy called Kyle, who formerly was known as Tyler.  The Facebook photos suggest there are three guys -- of course it does, why would anything be clear?  Life would indeed suck if it weren't for the cool music on the new album 31Ø8 (BLU).  Why the "(BLU)"?  To distinguish it from a prior album named 31Ø8 (PNK) which was released by Trouble In Mind in 2014.

On to the music.  To my ears, there are some similarities to Ned's Atomic Dustbin, American Culture, The Jesus and Mary Chain and a bit of Stone Roses baggy beats (check out "Conflicted Soul" and "Come The Winter"), with a bit of shoegaze and dream pop.  That all rings our bell in a good way, so we groove along while the band races through the ten songs, even giving us a jangling gem in "Another Wave".  This is quality stuff, and Jigsaw Records offers it in digital and CD formats -- see the Bandcamp link.  

So, Kyle, all is forgiven.  We like your album, and look forward to 31Ø8 (GRN) whenever it is ready.

Bandcamp for album

"Colourful Rain" by Sweet Tempest

Spring is tentatively checking to see whether it is safe to emerge on a more permanent basis.  We suspect that it won't make a favorable decision for another three or four weeks, but the effort prompted us to play some new dream pop.  The song is "Colourful Rain", which will be released tomorrow by Danish/English duo Sweet Tempest.  The single is taken from their upcoming EP Bones and Machinations, which will is due on April 7 via Cicada Music.  Polished, versatile vocals, sturdy rhythms and sweet melodies are the hallmarks of this band, and if this single is representative, the EP should be welcome indeed.

Sweet Tempest are Julian Winding and Luna Kira.  Their prior output includes the 2015 EP Snow and the soundtrack to the 2016 film The Neon Demon.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bill Botting and The Two Drink Minimums - Better Friends

We knew of Bill Botting from the recently and sadly defunct Allo Darlin, so his next musical steps would have been of interest to us anyway.  But with the name Bill Botting and The Two Drink Minimums, the project seemed like the sort of thing that demands our attention.  Good music and at least two drinks (doesn't one only order a second as a necessary predicate to reaching number three?), what's not to like?

Bill provides nine fun songs (including a delightful cover of Paul Simon's "Graceland"), talented co-conspirators, and tight set of performances with just enough wiggle in the structure to help you think you are lucky enough to hear it live.  You provide your ears, and your own two+ drinks (yeah, I know, but at least you don't have to leave yourself a tip).  Bill's warm vocal delivery, musicians who are completely invested and good stories make this a record worth your time.  Take a test spin of the quality and range of the album with the country flavored "Knew You When", the rocking "Treating You Right", and the more pop tinged "Feeling Sad Again" below.  Here is evidence that we all need to have better friends to improve our lives.

Bill Botting and The Two Drink Minimums are Bill Botting, Hannah Botting (of Owl & Mouse), Paul Rains (of Allo Darlin' and Tigercats), Tom Wade (of Owl & Mouse), and Jonny Helm (of The Wave Pictures.  Darren Haman also helped with recording and played the sax on track four.  Better Friends is out now in digital and limited edition vinyl formats via London label wiaiwya.  See the Bandcamp link below (and for a full stream of the album).

Bandcamp for Better Friends

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

When Nalda Became Punk - Those Words Broke Our Heart

Whether enthusing about joy and happiness, exploring the bittersweet moments, or even sharing disappointments and heartbreak, the best indie pop seems constructed of a special lighter than air substance.  It lifts the heart, brightens the day, and makes the impossible appear possible.  If you want to know why and how, you've come to the wrong place.  But if we can't explain the science behind the emotional impact of pop music, we can tell you where to find some of the best of it.  And one of the best is Vigo, Spain's When Nalda Became Punk.  The band has been on these pages before, and we expect and hope they will give us reason to feature them in the future.  Today's feature is prompted by their new six-song mini album, Those Words Broke Our Hearts.

The record begins with the uptempo "Hanging Out With Imogen", featuring soaring vocals and a sparkling arrangement.  The following "Long Before" interjects a melancholy shading, but in a lovely way.  "Big Whoop" will enhance your mood for the rest of the day -- what a great song!  The lilting melodies and fast pace continue for "New Years Day" and "Angela".  The closer, "A Midnight Run", changes the game with a taut arrangement with a spoken word overlay voiced by guest Edward Forth of English band Forth.  In a very positive way it reminds me of some of my favorite tunes from Scottish band Ballboy.  And that's it -- six strong tracks that demand the replay button.  This record is gem that will brighten your springtime, and long serve as a reminder of the delights of indie pop.

When Nalda Became Punk are Elena Sestelo (vocals/guitar), Roberto Cibeira (guitars/keys/backing vocals), Antonio Llarena (keys/backing vocals), and Bruno Murmura (bass/backing vocals).  Those Words Broke Our Heart is out now in vinyl and digital formats via Shelflife Records (USA) and Discos de Kirlian (Spain).

Bandcamp for Those Words Broke Our Hearts
Shelflife Records page for Those Words Broke Our Heart

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - The French Press

We'll concede that as band names go, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is a mouthful, but that isn't a problem unless you are trying to scrawl their name on the side of a building.  Come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if listening to their music didn't prompt at least a few fans to show their devotion with a bit of wall tagging, but we here at WYMA cannot openly encourage such activity.  But what we can, and do, encourage, is paying some attention to one of the best guitar pop bands you've never heard of (unless you read our feature of their single "Julie's Place" a few weeks ago).

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever received some momentum from their early 2016 EP "Talk Tight", and Seattle's Sub Pop has picked them up, which never is a bad sign for a young band.  And now they have a new six-song EP The French Press and a North American tour.   The songs on the EP are tautly constructed, but unspool in a breezy, uptempo manner that makes it easy to connect with the music on a visceral level.  All the boxes are checked, with riffs, hooks and melodies present and accounted for.  But the band also presents a confidence and songwriting aplomb that one usually expects of a band with a longer recording history.  The boys know how to tell a good story and seem to delight in doing so.  You may detect some echoes of The Clean on some tracks, such as "Sick Bug" (a personal favorite), but overall this band carves out its own spot, and we think it is a very good spot to be in.

The band is at SXSW this week, and then hits the North American east coast followed by the west coast.  The details are on their Facebook page.  Their time in the US ends with a show in Seattle on March 28, and I'm trying to clear the decks to attend it.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are Tom Russo, Joe Russo, Joe White, Fran Keaney, and Marcel Tussie.  The French Press is out on March 10 via Sub Pop.

Bandcamp for The French Press EP
Sub Pop
Sub Pop page to order The French Press EP

Friday, March 10, 2017

Auva - Side Effects

Perhaps Friday needs some dreamy, well contructed indie pop.  We'll contribute Side Effects, the three track record from Boston's Auva.   Actually, the band is contributing it because it is available at name-your-price on Bandcamp.  All three songs are worth your time, but we're fondest of "Glitter & Weed" at the moment.  By the way, this discovery comes via a tip on the fine New Zealand blog Pop Lib, which got the tip from another blog.  It takes a village ...

Auva is Jack Markwordt (guitar/vocals), Miette Hope (keys/vocals), Jake Levine (guitar/vocals), Michael Piccoli (drums), Andy Metzger (bass), and Austin Birdy (percussion).

Bandcamp for Side Effects

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bent - Snakes and Shapes

Brisbane trio Bent is not a band that encourages you to lie on the sofa, rest your head in their collective lap, and get comfortable while listening to their music.  In fact, they don't allow it at all.  Instead, on their new album Snakes and Shapes, Bent snarls, shouts, clatters, shreds and pummels.  And they do it very well.

This is post-punk with plenty of punk attitude, raw performances and an inventive and audacious approach to composition.  I particularly like that the bass takes a co-lead role on a number of tracks.  Captivating and challenging in equal measure, Snakes and Shapes is an exhilarating ride that gets better with each play.  Put on your earphones and get Bent.

Bent is Heidi Cutlack (vocals/bass), Skye McNicol (drums), and Glen Schenau (guitar).  Snakes and Shapes is out now via Emotional Response Records.  See the Bandcamp link for digital, and the link just below the Bandcamp link for the CD version.

Bandcamp for Snakes and Shapes
Order link for CD

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dude York - Sincerely

There are a number of good young US rock bands making their mark right now.  Just from memory I can recall excellent outfits in Boston, Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles and many points in between.  But a less known fact, which really should be very widely known, is that one of the best of the bunch is Seattle's Dude York.  The trio is a rock band, with all of the energy, noise and edge that comes with that label.  But they also are thoughtful, melodic, embrace pop hooks and are literate and activist.  With some fine EPs and an album in their past, they have pulled it all together in superb fashion on Sincerely, their sophomore album.  On this outing, while the band has not shed their appealingly scruffy charm, the songs are well crafted, tightly performed, and highly relatable.  The mood generally is upbeat and positive.  This is a band you will want to like, and you'll have no trouble doing so.

Dude York is Peter Richards (guitar/vocals), Claire England (bass/vocals), and Andrew Hall (drums).   If I correctly recall the background, the three met when students at Whitman, the highly regarded liberal arts college in Walla Walla, Washington.  Perhaps that is relevant only to illustrate that the quality of the songwriting is less surprising as a result.  But since I think that this band exceeds both for the quality of their sound and the content of the lyrics, it is important to us here at WYMA.   Previously, Richards was the songwriter and primary vocalist, but on Sincerely England steps up in both categories, adding a depth in perspective and sound that adds greatly to the album's effect.  Three songs are available to stream below.  I assure you that others on the album are equally satisfying.  This may be your indie rock find for the first quarter of the year.

Sincerely is out now via Hardly Art.  Check the Bandcamp link below for details.

Bandcamp for Sincerly
Hardly Art

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Former Bullies - Stranger

We are an enlightened and progressive lot here at WYMA, and we'd be among the last you would expect to encourage you to support bullies.  But we believe in the power of redemption, as well.  So in the matter of Manchester's Former Bullies, we offer our unqualified support and endorsement.  It isn't just that, according to their name, any unseemly, aggressively dominating activity is in the past, it also in a very major way is due to the fact that they create the sort of lo-fi, jangling garage rock that is as vital to our existence as the air we breathe and the beer we drink.  You know -- the essentials of life.

On Stranger, Former Bullies' new album for CF Records and Towed By The Ghost, main man Nick Ainsworth has fashioned eleven songs with the leftover emotional parts from the termination of a long romantic relationship, glued together with an affirmation of life and some very jaunty hooks and melodies.  It may have originated with some open wounds, and built in the garage (or more likely, the basement), but as a slice of guitar pop, it runs like a top-flight, fully warrantied machine.  There are echoes of '60s guitar pop here, and even some surf rock touches on some songs (including the title track).  Concision is important, with the less-than-three-minutes running time ensuring that no nugget overstays its welcome.  It always is better to invite your listeners to hit the replay button rather than the skip button.  A couple of the songs are provided below, but we think every song on the album is a keeper.  So give the streams below a play, but we recommend following the Bandcamp links and living with the albums for a while.  I expect you'll want to take them home and make them part of your life.

Former Bullies are Nick Ainsworth (guitar/vocals), Matthew Taylor (bass) and Tom Settle (drums/guitar/vocals).  Stranger is the band's fourth album, and you can get it at the Bandcamp links below.

CF Records' Bandcamp page for Stranger

Monday, March 6, 2017

"Catastrophe" by Hollow Everdaze

Everdaze, one of our favorite Australian psychedelic pop projects, will release an album titled Cartoons lager this year via Melbourne label Deaf Ambitions.  New single "Catastrophe" gives us a strong reminder of why we have that album marked for special interest.  Enjoy it below, and if you want a hazy piece of Everdaze check out the Bandcamp link.

Bandcamp for "Catastrophe"
Deaf Ambitions

Findlay - Forgotten Pleasures

Rarely to you hear electro pop with this much attitude.  But Manchester-raised, London-based Natalie Findlay is appears to be the rare artist that can straddle the indie rock/electro pop divide and make both camps quite happy indeed.  Her thirteen songs on Forgotten Pleasures make stops in other sub-genres as well, and all of them work.  The success is due to Findlay's powerful but extraordinarily versatile vocals, but also the talent of her collaborators.  Co-producer Jules Apollinaire contributed keys, bass and guitar, while Ben Simon played guitar and Christina Lamas played drums.  Additional assistance came from Carl Barat (composition on "St. Elmo's Fire"), and producers Jake Gosling, Samy Osta, and Flood.

Forgotten Pleasures is out now via Findlay's Mint Records, BMG, and The End Records.  Check your favorite online store.  And so you don't easily forget the pleasures of Forgotten Pleasures, enjoy a few tracks below.

The End Records' page for Forgotten Pleasures

Friday, March 3, 2017

Astrid Swan - From The Bed And Beyond

From The Bed And Beyond is a profoundly personal album on which Finland's Astrid Swan tells of her journey over the past several years, becoming a mother and then fighting breast cancer.  It chronicles three years of illness and recovery, and it is an album that might never have made it to our ears had the battle with cancer turned out differently.  But it has arrived, and it is magnificent.  The emotions are raw and sincere.  Fear, hope, loss, grief, hope, uncertainty and anger appear seemingly as three dimensional elements of the songs.  But it is all beautifully rendered with nuanced performances from the players, sophisticated arrangements and production, and, most of all, Swan's gorgeous vocals.

Swan is a performer that possesses the theatrical charisma to captivate her audience.  The musical smarts to hit the pop hooks and the technical competence to arrange it all perfectly.  But the triumph here isn't Grammy-level perfection.  It is the presentation of a personal story in a manner that is accessible to and appreciated by all listeners.  You can stream several songs below, including the powerful "Song of Fear", written by Swan about learning of her cancer diagnosis.  You can explore the entire album at the Bandcamp link, as well.  My favorites are "Song Of Fear", "Queen Of Broken Hearts", and "Special Ones".

In addition to Astrid Swan, performers include Alina Toivanen, Mikael Hakkarainen, Veli Kauppinen, Johannes Salomaa, and Emmi Kujanpää.  Swan engineered, mixed and produced the album, with additional engineering and mixing by Nick Triani.  From The Bed And Beyond is out now via Helsinki's Soliti Music.

Bandcamp for From The Bed And Beyond
Soliti Music

Sodastream - Little By Little

Welcome back, Sodastream!  After a decade of meditation and reflection (I made that up as I have no personal knowledge of how either of them spent that ten years), the Melbourne indie pop duo consisting of Karl Smith and Pete Cohen is back with Little By Little.  The album contains ten graceful, melodic, acoustic songs of the sort the band delivered in their previous four albums, earning them fans at home and abroad.   And don't be fooled by the "acoustic" tag; these songs have a bristling energy and drive, as if they've been straining to leave the songwriters' heads and be heard.  Moreover, Smith and Cohen have augmented the proceedings with guest musicians (including some horns) and vocalists, adding to the vibrancy and scope of the recordings.

There should always be a place in your life for albums like Little By Little.  It is available now via Sodastream Music.  See the Bandcamp link below.

And here is hoping that we don't have to wait as long for the next album.

Bandcamp for Little By Little

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Meursault - I Will Kill Again

Neil Pennycook, as we've noted here on several occasions, can rock very hard.  But the man is versatile.   On his latest album as Meursault, the ominously-but-not-entirely-seriously-named I Will Kill Again, Pennycook instead provides a gorgeous tapestry of emotion-packed, piano-driven songs.  Perhaps more remarkable is that the album had been meant to be a rock album, with the songs first drafted several years ago, but when Neil's band dissolved he recast his creations.  However, even in singer songwriter mode Pennycook deals in multiple textures, from the dark currents of his themes, to his biting phrasing and delivery, to his detailing of the arrangements.  His vocals are both plaintive yet rich and expressive, and as the man plays the piano, the piano plays with the listener's head and heart.  If you don't like music that can accomplish that, I don't know how to help you.

In addition to Pennycook, other players and vocalists on the album are Liam Chapman, Faith Eliott, Alex Livingstone, and Reuben F. Taylor.  I Will Kill Again is out now in vinyl, CD and digital formats via Edinburgh's Song By Toad Records.

Bandcamp for I Will Kill Again
Song By Toad Records

"Black Ice" by Delay Trees

It may be too early to tell you that one of our favorite guitar pop albums of the year will be Let Go by Finnish band Delay Trees.  Oh, it seems we just told you.  The details will wait until closer to the album's release date of March 24.  But since we already teased you, it is only fair to bring you the glorious sounds of album track "Black Ice".  The opening line is "I'm Amazed We Survived", which could represent the thoughts of many that have driven on frozen roads.  But the line here also refers to the band and their personal stories.  Put on your headphones and give yourself a treat.

Delay Trees are Rami Vierula, Lauri Jarvinen, Sami Korhonen, and Onni Oikari.  Let Go will be released by Helsinki label Soliti Music.

Soliti Music

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Dancing" by Djustin

Sparkling, surging synth pop with gorgeous vocals - that's Sweden/Detroit duo Djustin, and we love their sound.  Their first album is titled Voyagers and it will be out in early May via Stockholm's Labrador Records.  But Djustin is too nice to make us wait that long for a taste, so they have shared "Dancing".   The song does, indeed, dance, and so do we while we listen to it.  Out of kindness, we keep our curtains drawn.

Djustin is Johan Andergard and Rose Suau.

Labrador Records

Ibibio Sound Machine - Uyai

If you like the bright pop/rock sound and poly rhythms of West African High Life, electronic dance music, Afrobeat, and pulsing, grinding funk, London's Ibibio Sound Machine delivers it all simultaneously in fine style on their new album Uyai.  Led by London-born Nigerian-raised Eno Williams and a proficient and energetic supporting cast, the music is exuberant, enticing and, ultimately, sexy.  Most of the lyrics are voiced in the language of the region of Ibibio in southwest Nigeria, but we don't think that affects enjoyment of the music at all.  As we head into spring, this is a non-stop party soundtrack as we needed.

Uyai is out Friday, March 3, via Merge Records.