Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Over And Over" by The Stammer (free download)

Here we are with a breakup song that should make you happy -- not because it isn't your breakup, but because is sounds so damn good.  "Over And Over" by The Stammer is chunky, hooky indie rock just the way we like it, and it is a 'name your price' offering at the linked Bandcamp page.

The Stammer are Brian Brotman (guitar/vocals), Gavin Landesberg (bass), Ted Quann (guitar) and Zachary Zimmerman (drums).  They blew us away in 2015 with their debut LP, and we are happy to report that the band will release new album Face In Peril this summer.  And if you are lucky enough to be in Philadelphia on June 21, The Stammer will be there playing their new and old songs at The Pharmacy, and making everyone happier that a billionaire with a tax cut.

Bandcamp for "Over And Over"

"Dancing" by Slow Skies

With a busy day in the office, we wanted to start the day with a bright song, and the winning entry is "Dancing" by Slow Skies.  The project of Dublin's Karen Sheridan, Slow Skies has crafted a song with sunny tones and pop smarts that builds appealingly from folky beginnings to a full blown party in your brain.  Stream it below and check out other songs from the artist at the following Soundcloud link.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"Different Ways" by Blanket Rule (free download)

We don't know much about Blanket Rule, other than they are from Melbourne, Australia, and intend to release a tape later this year.  Oh, and this debut song was engineered by Zac Denton of WYMA favorites The Ocean Party.  So we'll just encourage you to listen to the song and take advantage of the band's king offer of a free download.


Rat Fancy - Suck A Lemon EP 12"

Trust me, you could do with a dose of Rat Fancy in your life.  Rat Fancy sings sweetly, plays hooky and fuzzy indie pop, and has the ability to simultaneously kiss you off and flick you off while making you still feel supercharged on the sugar rush they have injected into your brain.  Sound about right for the start of summer, right?  Well here you are, six songs on the Suck A Lemon EP 12" (well, sure, it is five compositions but the band thoughtfully delivers two versions of the title track).  This record is a big ball of girl group, wall of fuzz, bubblegum and Southern California attitude.  We can't stop playing it, and if you buy it you won't stop playing it either.

Rat Fancy is Diana Barraza, late of Sweater Girl (vocals/guitar), Gregory Johnson (guitar/keys), and Gavin Glidewell (drums).  Suck A Lemon EP 12" is out now via HHBTM Records.  Check out the Bandcamp link.

HHBTM Records

Friday, May 26, 2017

Slowes - Times EP

The music world is awash with electro-pop, which raises the question:  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Of course, that is a trick question because the answer depends on the songwriting and performance.  When we sorted through new electro--pop recently, the duo that seems to us to drip with promise is Slowes.  The multifaceted Copenhagen duo has just delivered their debut EP Times, and we have it on repeated plays.  Opening song "Anymore" and the third track, "Enough", offer perfectly crafted, glossy, neo-R&B synth pop.  The title track presents moody, dubby experimental pop.  Track four is "U", a bittersweet new wave song about wanting someone who wants someone else.  The EP's mood becomes slower and more contemplative with "Heartbreak Again" and "OOX", the second of which is a slow burner that is becoming a favorite around here.  Love and loss with solid melodies and beats and R&B influenced vocals -- a very good debut and highly recommended to start your weekend.

Slowes is Jack Kilburn (vocals) and Anders Hamann (beats).  Times EP is out today via Distiller Records.

Distiller Records

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sea Pinks - Watercourse

We consume a lot of music here at WYMA World Headquarters.  Hell, we consume even more music than beer and pizza, and we consume so much beer and pizza that we are working on our beer budget for October -- October 2023, to be exact.  And what we are looking for is the magic that makes an indie band worth recommending over other indie bands.  The magic can be a specific attribute of a musical work or, more often, a combination of attributes.

Today's special magic is brought to us by the Northern Irish imagineers known as Sea Pinks.  The trio's sixth album, Watercourse, quite simply does what its predecessors have done, only better.  And that is transporting us to a special place where you hear the sea, feel the sun and wind, and celebrate being alive.  It isn't so much a time and place, although there are plenty of echoes of '80s and '90s guitar pop and hints of California rock.  The guitars jangle, chime, and crunch, while the propulsive rhythm section provides a solid backbone.   The lyrics are bittersweet, yearning, and searching, not so much offering answers as setting the stage for your own musings -- perhaps with some sly guiding. Fittingly for a band inspired by sea grass, the arrangements are relaxed, although by no means languid.  In fact, this may be the most forward of the Sea Pinks albums in memory, suggesting some Glasgow/Postcard Records and Dunedin in the DNA, but leavened with some surf and country rock touches.  The magic is the performances that only hint at influences and leave us with the impression that this is Sea Pinks music, and nothing else.  And we think it is the perfect soundtrack for whatever action you have planned for summer days.

Sea Pinks are Neil Brogan (guitar/vocals), Steven Henry (bass), and Davey Agnew (drums).  Watercourse is out Friday, May 26 via CF Records.  See the Bandcamp link below for details.  May and June tour dates for the British Isles and Europe are listed below.

Bandcamp for album

Tour Dates:
25 May - Rosin Dubh, Galway
26 May - The Grand Social, Dublin
29 May - Bush Hall, London
31 May - Supersonic, Paris
1 Jun - Bar Hic, Rennes
2 Jun - DIY Cafe, Lille
3 Jun - De Nieuwe Anita, Amsterdam
4 Jun - Coin Aux Etoiles, Mons
5 Jun - Gruner Jager, Hamburg
6 Jun - Internet Explorer, Berlin
7 Jun - Kunstkeller, Furth
8 Jun - Schuur, Lucerne
9 Jan - Hirscheneck, Basel
10 Jun - Le Salopard, Biel
11 Jun - Handmade Festival, Guastalla
17 Jun - Black Box, Belfast

Monday, May 22, 2017

"So Long" by The Popguns

One of the many things I've learned in life is that there is never a bad time for a new song from The Popguns.  And the theorem has been proved right again with the arrival of "So Long".  Flowing, melodic, bittersweet -- it is classic stuff from one of the the best indie pop bands.  It is available for a few more days as a free download from the Bandcamp link below.  If you want both tracks, or if you fail to act before this Thursday, you can still buy the single, comprised of "So Long" and companion track "Sugar Kisses" as a digital download.  For a bit of cold cash, you also can get a CD with "So Long" and "Sugar Kisses" if you are lucky enough to act before the very limited supply of CDs is gone.

And in June, Matinee Recordings will release the new album, Sugar Kisses, which will include both of these tracks plus eight other gems.  June is looking good to us!

Bandcamp for "So Long"
Matinee Recordings page for Sugar Kisses

Jessica Says - Do With Me What U Will

Jessica Venables writes, records and performs under the name Jessica Says.  Possessed of an excellent voice and captivating delivery, the young Melbourne singer's brand of intense pop understandably draws comparisons to Kate Bush.  Venables is a classically trained cellist, and on her new album, Do With Me What U Will, she favors rich arrangements and high gloss production which provide an interesting contract to her direct lyrical content.  The song styles are varied among cabaret, pop, and even dance (see "Queen of the Night" and "Collarbones").  This is an album that reveals new delights with every listen, and we never tire of hearing Jessica's voice.

Do With Me What U Will is Jessica's second album.  The long span between her 2009 debut and this release is due to severe injuries she suffered in a fall.  The album is out now via Chapter Music.  See the Bandcamp link for details.

Bandcamp for Do With Me What U Will

Friday, May 19, 2017

Zebra Hunt - In Phrases

Opening track "I Won't Blame You" commences with  two notes followed by the rhythm section rolling in like thunder on a summer day in the mountains, and then joined by guitar chords jangling like Bobby "Fuller's I Fought the Law".  Welcome to In Phrases. Welcome to the world of Zebra Hunt, a world where energy, melody, deft writing, exquisite timing and a bit of grit, and a bit plus more of jangle, transport you to places that only good music can take you.  You feel the thump of the drums and bass in your chest, the jangling and ringing guitars in your brain and you get blissfully lost in the moment.  The Feelies did this for us, The Clean did this for us, The Bats and The Chills still do it.  The promise was evident in Zebra Hunt's previous work, but In Phrases puts them on the list.

The songs on this album are focused, the stories specific, personal and relateable.  We feel the yearning, the lust, the loss, and the regret.  The performances are confident -- the sound of a band that believes in what they are doing and believes that we will like it as well.  And the execution is as impeccable with mid-tempo songs as it is with the blistering jangle rockers.  The bottom line is that in our opinion In Phrases is the best example of New Zealand-style guitar pop not on Flying Nun, Fishrider, Merge or Trouble In Mind (your move labels, your move).  If we had the budget, they would be our choice for a house band.  As it is, they are a prime example of why we take the time to tell people about indie music.

Zebra Hunt, in alphabetical order, are Aaron (guitar), Erik (bass), Mitch (drums), and Robert (guitar/lead vocals).  In Phrases is available digitally on Bandcamp, and physically via Jigsaw Records in the US and Madrid's Tenorio Cotobade Records for the rest of the world.

Zebra Hunt's Bandcamp for In Phrases
Jigsaw Records page for In Phrases
Tenorio Cotobade's Bandcamp for In Phrases
Tenorio Cotobade Records

Those Unfortunates - Nothing Isn't Beautiful

Two of my favorite albums of the year so far are released today, and we'll deal with them one at a time, starting with Nothing Isn't Beautiful by London quartet Those Unfortunates.  I'll begin by noting that I am a mature, stable man with no hipster pretensions, thus it should be understood that few albums even tempt me to use emoticons.  But if I were a weaker man, Nothing Isn't Beautiful might be the one to do so.  And happy emoticons they would be.

Those Unfortunates crafted the album as 13 stories of the highs and lows of a year living in the Big City.  We are treated to reactions to boredom, the living death of endless middle management, a failed theatrical performance and a few happy stories as well.  And it all is done in a literate, wry manner and in styles ranging from jaunty jangle pop to pastoral folk pop.  Only the band can advise you of their influences, but at various times I hear bits of Orange Juice, Cats on Fire, Syd  Barrett, The Kinks, a less punky Ballboy, and, on the quieter moments, John Blain Hunt's Butcher Boy project and Firestations.  The album radiates intelligence and a flair for storytelling, with the melancholy offset by endearing melodies and able grooves.  And without exception, I find it completely captivating.  In fact, if anyone wonders why there haven't been more posts lately, blame Those Unfortunates, as I keep reaching for their album.

The first half of the album contains the more immediately upfront crowd pleasers, in particular "A Question For Mr Richardson", "Repertory Man", "A Song For Brampton Court", "The Consolations Of A Life I Know" and ... come to think of it, the entire A-side is really top drawer stuff.   The latter half of the album is lovely stuff as well, it simply is -- with the exception of "In Lavender" -- a more laid back set of songs that choose to reveal their charms more gently.

Nothing Isn't Beautiful is available in digital and CD formats via Midnight Bell records.  See the Bandcamp link for details.  And I'll note that although I wrote this feature without the use of any digital emoticons, the look on my face in the mirror after listening to Nothing Isn't Beautiful may constitute an organic emoticon.  I'll have to live with that.

Bandcamp for Nothing Isn't Beautiful
Midnight Bell Records

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hush Machine - Hush Machine

Fortunately for Western Civilization, anything arguably artistic that I endeavored to do in high school hasn't been memorialized for the ages.  And I expect that is true for most of us.  But 21 year-old Sam Boatright of Lawrence, Kansas isn't most of us.  A few years ago when Sam was a junior and senior in high school he wrote and recorded some songs, eight of which are now available on the self-titled album available under his moniker Hush Machine.  If you are expecting Hush Machine to contain quiet, dreamy and yearning music appropriate for a artistically inclined teenager, you are in for a surprise.  A very pleasant surprise, we expect.  Because what Hush Machine dishes out is robust, new wave glazed garage with a vibe (and vocal quality) not unlike the Strokes.  Exciting, a bit raw, and played with energy and confidence.  This debut is just too good to ignore.

A couple of songs are below, and the entire album can be streamed at the Bandcamp link.  Hush Machine is a digital and CD release via Jigsaw Records.

Bandcamp for Hush Machine
Jigsaw Records

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Arid Sea - New Roman Twilight

We promised 'free music Wednesday' and that is what you are going to get.  Our second (and likely final) free album of the day is New Roman Twilight by Seattle band The Arid Sea.  The album was released as a limited edition CD in 2005, and received positive and well-justified reviews from those privileged to have heard it.  Weaving elements of dark folk, Gothic post punk, psychedelic and melodic indie rock, it presents a swirling array of broad strokes, dynamic structures and a myriad shades of grey and black.  Yes, the atmosphere is undeniably moody and infused with sorrow.  But a beating heart and rays of tentative hope peak through.  It is a masterful, heartbreakingly lovely work, and we are pleased that the band has again made it available.

The Arid Sea was Joseph Mass (drums), Michael Guillory (bass) and Isaac Aubrey (guitar/vocals).  Several of their other releases are to be found at the Bandcamp link, and we understand that more may be available in time.  There has been some chatter about a reunion as well, and we will let you know if we hear more about that.

Bandcamp for New Roman Twilight

Greatest Hits Summer 2017 - A free album from Labrador Records

We declare today 'free music Wednesday', and our first offering is from Sweden's Labrador Records. A number of that label's releases have featured on these pages over the years, most recently fine albums by The Legends and Djustin.  Now Labrador has generously decided to provide a summer soundtrack including songs from the two aforementioned albums, as well as songs by The Radio Dept., Club 8, and Red Sleeping Beauty, among others.  Stream it below, then hit the links and 'pay what you want' for an excellent set of songs.

Bandcamp for Greatest Hits Summer 2017
Labrador Records

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wilding - Secular Music

Secular Music just may be a scuzzy, fuzz pop masterpiece.  The creation of California trio Wilding, it consists of five tracks of urgently performed but melodic guitar pop that, like the apple fritter I had this morning, is filling, highly satisfying and very addictive.  It is an EP of contrasts, with dreamy textures coexisting with fiery guitar bursts and an insistent rhythm section, and moody darkness stabbed with rays of hopeful light.  We have provided a couple of streams below.  If you like them, we urge you to stream the entire album at the Bandcamp link.  If you are like us, one listen will convince you that you need Secular Music in your life.

Wilding is Dave Woody (vocals/guitar), formerly of Fiver, with Andrew Platts (drums) and Bowman (bass).  The EP is released via Friendship Fever.  It is available in digital and cassette formats, with the latter including a bonus track not available on the digital version.

Bandcamp for Secular Music
Friendship Fever's page for Secular Music
Friendship Fever (label)

Febueder - From An Album EP

A couple of weeks ago we featured (link) two singles from Ascot's Febueder.  We now have a new EP from the band, titled From An Album, and it certainly has done nothing to change or view that this is a band from which we can expect exciting music.  Each song on the EP mines a distinct vibe, showcasing Febueder's versatility, imagination and originality, while maintaining their consistent use of dynamic rhythms and soulful vocals.  Check your favorite digital retailer.

Febueder are Kieran Godfrey (vocals/guitar/bass/keys/ukulele/cornet/percussion), Samuel Keysell (percussion) and Toby Ingram (bass).


Monday, May 15, 2017

Frantic Chant - The Glass Factory

Mondays!  Yeah, they can be a little version of hell (So I'm told. I've never actually been to hell, but I still have nightmares about last November's election).  It seems to me that the only viable strategy is some music to wipe away Monday.  The possible tactics are something impossibly sweet and endearing, so we think everything will be OK, or something that heavy and encompassing.  We're going with the latter.  Specifically, it is time for the recent album from our Edinburgh friends Frantic Chant.  Purveyors of psychedelic rock and shoegaze, they may perfect music to get lost in.   For me, it is a trip back to the great psychedelic rock vinyl albums created in the late 60s and first half of the '70s.  Musicians lost in the moment, shredding and brooding to please themselves and anyone else bold enough to dive in.  Stream it below and check out the Bandcamp link.

Frantic Chant are Nick (guitars), Stazy (vocals/guitar), O'Hara (bass), and Col (drums).  Trumpet was played by Colin McCafferty (e.g. track 4), and mandolin, moothy and backing vocals by Elle Durnan.

Bandcamp for The Glass Factory
Dogs Got A Bone Records

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Can't Be On The Record" by Honey

"Can't Be On the Record" is the story of the messy aftermath of a painful breakup.  But the sound is the sort of sound you want on the car stereo while driving at night with the top down and a special someone at your side.  It is the sound of honey.  Actually it is the sound of Honey -- a Wellington, New Zealand pop band that appears to know exactly how to craft a memorable song.


Lab Coast - Lab Coast

Calgary's Lab Coast crafts the hooky, jangling guitar pop that we live for.  The fact that they do it so well makes the contrast with their low profile in the music industry puzzling and unfortunate.  But in honor of the band's current tour in the UK and Europe, Bristol's Faux Discx label is doing its part to raise the band's profile.  Lab Coast and the label have worked together to choose sixteen songs from the band's impressive catalog, and have released it in vinyl, CD and digital formats.  The album is self titled and span's the band's versatile offerings of garage pop, power pop, dream pop and even surf pop (no doubt inspired by Calgary's famous wave breaks).  Comparisons to Guided by Voices and Teenage Fanclub are as apt as they are complimentary.

The core of Lab Coast's songwriting is David Laing, Chris Dadge.  On stage, the band included Sammie Smith, Henry Hsieh, and Darrell Hartsook.

Bandcamp for album
Faux Discx page for album

Tour Dates and locations:

11/05/17 • WREXHAM, UK • Focus Wales Festival
12/05/17 • WREXHAM, UK • Focus Wales Festival
13/05/17 • SHEFFIELD, UK • The Audacious Art Experiment w/ The Hipshakes
14/05/17 • LEEDS, UK • Brudenell Social Club
15/05/17 • MANCHESTER, UK • Fuel
16/05/17 • YORK, UK • The Basement
18/05/17 • EXETER, UK • The Phoenix
19/05/17 • BRIGHTON, UK • Family Store w/ Garden Centre
20/05/17 • BRIGHTON, UK • Escape From The Great Escape, The Westhill Hall
22/05/17 • LONDON, UK • The Shacklewell Arms w/ The Molochs
24/05/17 • KORTRIJK, BE • De Kreun w/ Preoccupations
25/05/17 • GRONINGEN, NL • Vera w/ Preoccupations
26/05/17 • BERLIN, DE • Venue TBC
27/05/17 • PRAGUE, CZ • Futurum w/ Preoccupations
29/05/17 • LIEGE, BE • La Zone w/ Priests
01/06/17 • BRIGHTON, UK • The Hope & Ruin w/ The Sticks

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Storm the Palace - Snow, Stars and Public Transport

It seems to us that Sophie Dodds writes from the heart, with a keen observational sense and the ability to translate those observations into relatable stories.  The ten songs she has written for Snow, Stars and Public Transport, the new album from Edinburgh/London band Storm the Palace, bring those talents into focus in grand fashion.  The songs are not easily classified, but that is a benefit -- when you write an album over the course of nine years, chasing the style of the day is certain to leave you behind the times.  Thus, instead of inhabiting the world of numerous other bands, Storm the Palace invite you to stretch your listening experience and step into their world.  Their brand of pop tends towards the baroque, and even, at times, theatrical, with plenty of vocal and instrumental variety.  Perhaps the songs are best described as folk songs set in urban settings and performed as indie rock, but of course that is unlikely to work well on a gig poster.

But what doesn't work well on a gig poster, can work very well for the listener.  Dodds' London stories have enough detail, perspective and artistic expression to set the scene without drowning the listener's own reaction in someone else's details, and the quintet's performance fills your ears with colors and textures.  It doesn't matter whether the subjects are familiar, the joy is the quality of the journey from the start of the song to the end.  Not only are there countless stories in the world, there are virtually limitless ways to tell each story.  And as storytelling goes, Snow, Stars and Public Transport proves a very good choice.

In addition to Sophie Dodds (vocals/guitar/field recordings), Storm the Palace are Reuben Taylor (piano/accordion), Pippa Nurdie (mandolin/banjo/cello/vocals), Sam Wilkinson (bass), and Gordon Webster (drums).  Additional contributions are by Dan Simons (violin/viola/vocals), and Jamie Kenny (double bass).  Snow, Stars and Public Transport is out on May 12 via Seattle's Abandoned Love Records.

Bandcamp for album
Abandoned Love Records

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Holy Balm - Activity Mixes

After ignoring remixes for its first decade and a half, Melbourne's Chapter Music has released two 12" remixes.  A couple of days ago, we featured the No Zu cuts.  Today's feature are the Activity Mixes, consisting of five remixes of songs by house specialists Holy Balm.  You may recall that the Sydney trio are aces when it comes to dance music.  We assure you that their work holds up well when given and additional mix.  But why take our word for it.  Stream it below.

Activity Mixes is available as a digital download and limited edition 12" vinyl.  The new Chapter remixes are one stop shopping for your next dance party.

Bandcamp for Activity Mixes

Doug Tuttle - Peace Potato

Peace Potato arrives at a good time.  A good time for us, and a good time for Doug Tuttle.  It is a good time because this sort of pastoral, psychedelic pop is best appreciated with longer days, more sunshine and starry nights.  And when it comes to Massachusettes-based Tuttle, it is important to realize that "pastoral" in no way connotes music that is rough-hewn or casual.  While generally relaxed, the songs here are meticulously constructed with thoughtful, well-phrased vocals and exceptional guitar work.  In fact, all the instruments are played well, and Tuttle played all of them in his home studio in Somerset.  Peace Potato is an album of hooks and melodies, half-dreams and hazy recollections.  You don't dive in, you sit back and let it wash over you.  After the final note, you reflect a moment, and say to yourself 'that was really pleasant'.  And then you hit the replay button because everyone wants to feel good.

The album is out now via Chicago's Trouble In Mind Records.

Trouble In Mind Records page for Peace Potato
Trouble In Mind Records

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Chancer" by The Stevens

A few years ago (December 2013, to be precise) we generously praised the debut album from Melbourne's The Stevens.  We are sad to report that the quartet repaid our kind words by leaving us without a sophomore album all this time.  We have cried into our pillows at night, but to no avail.  At least, to no avail until now.  We understand that Good, a new album from The Stevens, is due on July 14.  And just to show us they mean business, the band has released a digital single of album track "Chancer".  An anthem about wanting to be unknown, it showcases the band's Guided By Voices guitar pop vibe and sense of humor.  All is forgiven, boys.  Welcome back.

The Stevens are Travis MacDonald, Alex Macfarlane, Gus Lord, and Matt Harkin.  "Chancer" is available via Chapter Music, which also will release Good.

Chapter Music page for "Chancer"

The Black Watch - The Gospel According to John

The alchemy of Southern California's The Black Watch is just the kind of magic we live for around the Blogquarters.  A heaping measure of Creation Records, a double dose of Dunedin, two packages of crunch and a box of the special order 'chime and jangle' from Amazon Prime.  Mix on overdrive and then top with sprinkles from The Cure.   The result on their latest album, The Gospel According to John, is fantastic post punk sounds adorned with lyrics from frontman John Andrew Fredrick, who also happens to be a college professor and writer.  So, you ask, 'these guys are famous, right?'  Our answer is not yet, despite many years of toil.  But quite frankly, that isn't your problem, it is their problem (assuming they care, and they probably don't).  Your problem is that you don't have The Gospel According to John yet.  So it is time for a bit of self-help and personal responsibility.  Stream the tracks below and then get busy scoring your own copy of the album.  I don't want to be judgmental, but a bit of the Gospel wouldn't do you any harm.

John Fredrick's Website
Soundcloud for The Gospel According to John.

Monday, May 8, 2017

No Zu - Body2Body2Body

If you are going to name your own genre, (1) your choice of name should be accurate, and (2) you should be very good.  Melbourne's No Zu aces it on both criteria.  They are the masters of "heat beat", their own version of eclectic, bottom-heavy dance music.  We were very impressed with Afterlife, their February 2016 album for Chapter Music, and have eagerly awaited more No Zu sounds.  So today, we bring you new, old No Zu music.  Yes, Chapter Music has unleashed two remix albums -- their first ever remix offerings -- and one of them is Body2Body2Body.  the record is a 12" of two remixes of Afterlife's lead track, "Body2Body", and two remixes of another song from that album, "Spirit Beat".  Around the WYMA headquarters we consider No Zu to be masters of world beat dance music, but we have to admit that the new life infused into "Body2Body" and "Spirit Beat" in these remixes is truly refreshing and very exciting.  Stream it below, and then go get your own copy.  And then get Afterlife.

No Zu
Bandcamp for Body2body2body

Lush Purr - Cuckoo Waltz

We first became aware of Lush Purr via their contributions to compilations issued by Glasgow's Fuzzkill Records and Song By Toad Records in 2015 and 2016, and we admired their off-kilter take on guitar pop.  And finally, after too-long of a wait, the band has released their first full length, the 13-track Cuckoo Waltz.  The album is a perfect example of the theory that the best way to make good music is to make music that satisfies the band, rather than to try and guess what music fans want.   On evidence presented, what Lush Purr likes includes noisy, grunged-up rock, , fuzz pop, dream and psychedelic pop, nontraditional song structures, and dark humor.  The goal for each song seems to be to capture the vibe of the band at that moment, rather than to polish for perfection.  The result has the spontaneous, organic feel of a live performance.  There seems to be a lot of joy in the DNA of this album, and we certainly have a lot of joy in listening to it.  Supposedly album number two has been written, and we are looking forward to that next installment.

Lush Purr are Gavin Will, Andy Fazio, Emma Smith, and Rikki Will.  Past projects of the members include The Yawns (former musical home of three of the members of the band), Mirror Parties, Battery Face, Copy Haho, Platypus, and Doris/Mavis.  Cuckoo Waltz is out not via Song By Toad records, and is available in digital, tape (eight tracks on cassette with five available to download), vinyl and CD formats.

Bandcamp page for album

Friday, May 5, 2017

Look Blue Go Purple - Still Bewitched

Like many music fans, at least like many music fans not living in New Zealand, my first exposure to Look Blue Go Purple is the three and a half minute pop gem "Cactus Cat".  But sometimes you just know, and I knew I love this band, and each and every person in it.  They were part of the fertile New Zealand music scene of the '80s, when punk transitioned into various tentacles of guitar pop.  They shared the stage with luminaries such as The Bats, The Chills, and Straightjacket Fits.  They signed to Flying Nun Records and released three EPs of lo fi indie rock, psychedelic pop, and folk rock -- Bewitched in 1985, LBGPEP2 in 1986, and This Is This in 1988.

Look Blue Go Purple were Kathy Bull, Norma O'Malley, Denise Roughan, Kath Webster, and Lesley Paris.  While they fit in well with their fellow labelmates Straightjacket Fits, Abel Tasmans and Doublehappys, they crafted their own distinctive style and sound.  Their versatility ranged from punk-edged rockers to the more rural border of folk rock, with psychedelia and a bit of baroque in between.  The vocals and jangling guitars were magical, and the rhythm section was incredible.  Without a doubt, this band deserves exposure to new ears.

Flying Nun Records has combined all three previously released EPs, plus several previously unreleased live recordings of songs, in a reissue package titled Still Bewitched.  Now everyone can have "Cactus Cat" and all the other LBGP songs in one convenient package.  The album is available now on vinyl (2XLP), CD and digital formats from Flying Nun Records and Omnian Music Group.

Bandcamp for Bewitched
Flying Nun Records
Omnian Music Group page for Bewitched

Fazerdaze - Morningside

Amelia Murray seems unassuming, and that is great.  But to be honest, we think she has every right to be a bit full of herself right now.  In her superwoman guise as Fazerdaze, the mid-twenties musician from Auckland, New Zealand has a debut album out on Flying Nun, and a bright future.  The album is named Morningside, for the suburb where she lives.  Its songs are dreampop and shoegaze pop, with a warm vibe and a focus on youthful matters.  It is a slightly more robust version of bedroom pop, with a sunny summer morning sheen that makes even the concerns of the young feel like things ultimately will be OK.

The listener notices the intimacy, the affecting vocals -- probing but ultimately reassuring, the dynamism of the rhythm section.  But what impresses us most is Murray's ability to write and perform songs that so seamlessly combine a sense of youthful innocence with maturity of execution.  It all goes down so easily that the perfection isn't readily apparent.  And that is why it is perfection.

Morningside is out today.  Check the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for Morningside
Flying Nun Records

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Djustin - Voyagers

Djustin has an unusual working arrangement that produces smashing results.  One member of the duo is Sweden's Johan AngergĂ„rd, of Club 8 and The Legends, among other projects.  The other member is Detroit-based Rose Suau, of Shoestrings and Invisible Twin.  Johan writes the music and sends it to Rose, who then writes the lyrics she will sing.  Just reading that description, one might be tempted to assume that the results tend towards the stiff and two-dimensional, even if perfectly functional.  Astoundingly, the truth is exactly opposite.  Djustin has now released their debut album, titled Voyagers, and it is everything you could ask for in an electro pop/house album.  The music and lyrics mesh organically, as if composed in the same room.  The rhythms are irresistible, the melodies soar, and the vocal sparkle matches the synth runs.  Moreover, the emotional vibe is palpable.   Voyagers is a dance album with evocative lyrical content and a big warm heart to go with the moving feet.

Dynamic, stylishly erotic, and invitingly physical, Voyagers is an album we really needed.  And it is out May 5 via Labrador.

Labrador Records

The Imagineers - Utopian Dreams

Displaying an arsenal of musical styles that other band can only dream of, the aptly-named The Imagineers conjure eclectic aural treats bearing elements of surf pop, Marricone's spaghetti western soundtracks, David Bowie, and Burt Bacharach, as well as more standard post punk indie rock on their debut LP, Utopian Dreams.  It is cinematic, playful and absorbing, and we highly recommend it to anyone who likes their new music bold, inspired, ambitious and nimble.  Perhaps the best analogy is that we find Utopian Dreams to be a musical set of short stories on various topics, unified by quality writing, superb execution, off-kilter perspective, and a thick Scottish accent.  So for us, it is just about perfect.  This is one of the better surprises of the year so far.

The Glasgow outfit was already well regarded in the UK prior to disbanding in 2013 before ever releasing an album.  Frontman Steven Young then took the opportunity to travel Europe with his guitar, and apparently gathered new energy and inspiration.  Upon his return to Scotland The Imagineers were resurrected with Young, Scott Forsyth (drums/percussion/backing vocals), Lee Ballard (lead guitar/backing vocals), and Marc MacCallum (bass/backing vocals) as its members.

Utopian Dreams is out now via Hit The Light Records.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Asta Rangu - Plasticine

A few years ago we were excited about a Dunedin, New Zealand band called Males.  We have nothing new from that project, but the members have not be idle.  Or, at least, they haven't been idle all of the time.  Take, for example, Richard Ley-Hamilton, Males' chief vocalist.  Richard and his friend Julie have started the label Trace Records.  And because a label needs records to release, they signed a promising new project named Asta Rangu.  Since Asta Rangu is helmed by one Richard Ley-Hamilton, I suspect negotiations were not especially tense.  In any case, happily for us listeners Trace has just released Plasticine, Asta Rangu's debut EP.

Richard is an adventurous and meticulous pop craftsman, and the EP bears witness to his talent.  Richly detailed, hook-filled, melodic and bursting with energy, the five tracks are all different, and all excellent.  We had a debate around the office about which song was best, and decided that we couldn't decide.  So we embedded the entire EP.  We would be remiss if we didn't mention that if you go to the Bandcamp link you will note that the EP is available for a digital download at 'name your price'.  Those of you at the head of the class will know that means you can get it free, but Richard and Trace Records can more easily provide great music if you give them a few dollars.  And then you can tell all your friends that you just went shopping in New Zealand and bought some cool music.  A person could get lucky with a line like that.

One further note is that the excellent New Zealand music blog Pop Lib (link) is highlighting a New Zealand band every day this month, so we suggest that you check it out every few days to find new music.  We certainly intend to do so.

Bandcamp for Plasticine
Trace Records page for Asta Rangu

"Anymore" by Slowes

Slowes is a Copenhagen-based duo consisting of Jack Kilburn (vocals) and Anders Hamann (drums).  Their debut six-track EP is titled Times and will be released by Distiller Records on May 26.  They feature well-constructed beats, strong melodies, and themes of love and loss.  Take a taste with the most recently released track "Anymore".

Distiller Records

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Joshua Burnside - Ephrata

Ephrata is a refreshing combination of Irish folk tradition, modern folktronic touches and contemporary themes.  The work of Northern Irish singer songwriter Joshua Burnside, whose 2013 EP was critically well received, it has the wide scope of an artist who is moving beyond the strictly folk channel of his past work.  Here, Burnside is bold and colorful, embracing Gothic Americana, Eastern European, African and Latin influences.  The themes he chooses to explore are equally wide-ranging, with the principal commonality being the quality of the writing and performances.  For my ears, the highlight songs are "Blood Drive", "Tunnels Pt.2", "Concubine", "26th St.", and "Ephrata", but you may find your fondest moments in the other offerings.

Burnside sang and played guitars, banjo, accordion, and keys.  His brother Connor played drums and percussion.  Other players are Rachael Boyd (violin/vocals), Sarah Martin (trumpet), Alana Henderson (vocals), Mike Mormecha (percussion), and Caolan Austin (percussion).  Ephrata is out May 5 via Quiet Arch.

Bandcamp for Ephrata

The Americans - The Right Stuff EP

While their new EP is released by London label Loose Music, which focuses on Americana, roots, folk and country music, Los Angeles' The Americans are aptly named.   The Right Stuff EP showcases the band's affinity for country-tinged, bluesy, rock and roll.  You know, the classic stuff that never is completely in fashion any more but never goes out of style.  In their hands, the songs are bold and commanding, with ringing guitars, driving rhythms, and sincere vocals.  The performances and songwriting are tight, and satisfying.

The Americans are Patrick Ferris, Jake Faulkner and Zac Sokolow.  They are playing at London's Seabright Arms on Wednesday, May 3.  The Right Stuff EP is available now.  A full length is planned for later this year.  The band also features in American Epic, an upcoming documentary on American roots music which will be shown on the BBC later this month.

Loose Music

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mark Lanegan Band - Gargoyle

One feels compelled to mention that Mark Lanegan first came into the view of music fans with Ellensburg, Washington's Screaming Trees.  But since that group disbanded Lanegan has distinguished himself with ten solo album (including our current subject, the just released Gargoyle) as well as numerous collaborations with other artists, including PJ Harvey, Moby, Isobel Campbell, and Soulsavers.  Always an affecting vocalist, time and experience has added nuance to his well-weathered baritone, and the fuller range of emotions conveyed now match his songwriting skills to welcome effect.  Lanegan continues to favor collaborations, and here he works with Rob Marshall and Alain Johannes in composition, and also features guest work by Josh Homme, Greg Dulli, and Duke Garwood in recording.  The arrangements show growth as well, embracing synths, motornik rhythms and other electronic touches.  The anthemic mid-tempo scorchers for which he is know are in evidence, but he also slows things down very well on occasion, such as the lovely "Goodbye to Beauty".

Lanegan is one of those remarkable musicians who can continue to learn, grow, and sound fresh decades into his career.  May the number 10 is a charm, because Gargoyle may be the man's finest solo album, and we recommend that you check it out.  It is out now via Heavenly Recordings.

Heavenly Recordings

"Shapeshifter" and "Yawn" by Febueder

Hailing from Ascot, UK, Febueder crafts a pop sound founded on rhythmic post punk arrangements and soulful, passionate vocals.  A listener may detect some similarities to Foals and Alt J, but this trio is no knock-off act.  In our opinion, their new single "Shapeshifter", and previous track "Yawn" reveal a band with the right stuff to make an impact.

Febueder is Kieran Godfrey (vocals/guitar/bass/keys/ukulele/cornet/percussion), Samuel Keysell (percussion), and Toby Ingram (bass).  The band is releasing their new EP, From An Album, in mid-month on all tasteful digital platforms.