Tuesday, October 31, 2017

David West with Teardrops - Cherry On Willow

David West is a formidable pop talent, participating in several musical projects concurrently and producing high quality recordings.  Just this year has seen a fine album Candle Power for his Rat Columns, as well as the just released Cherry on Willow by David West with Teardrops.  And these are just the latest additions to a prolific young career as a solo artist and participant in Total Control, Lace Curtains and Rank/Xerox. 

For Cherry on Willow West collaborated with "Teardrops", a collection of friends including, but not limited to, Mikey Young, Bob Jones, Louis Hooper, Raven Mahon, and Griffin Harrison.  Recorded in David's current home in New York, Glasgow, and his place of origin - Western Australia - the album boasts a spontaneous, 'recorded live' feel, and offers a dizzing array of '70s and '80s guitar and synth pop with glammy swagger, surging rhythms, and a soulful heart.  And yes, that means we get some guitar solos, thanks for asking.  This is bold pop painted in bright colors by a group of musicians who clearly enjoyed the sessions.  Around WYMA headquarters these days, when we want to feel good and listen to something with a swing that makes you want to move, we are playing Cherry On Willow.

Cherry On Willow is out now via Tough Love Records.

Bandcamp for Cherry On Willow
Tough Love Records

Monday, October 30, 2017

Seafog - Dig It On Up

This mini album isn't a particularly recent release.  In fact, it dropped in April.  But having become aware of it via the PopLib blog, we quickly decided that our readers needed to know about it.  Consisting of six tracks of urgent, loose-limbed post punk with frontman and songwriter Robin Sharma's talk-sing vocals, Dig It On Up is exciting and wonderfully different.  Fans of Melbourne's Boomgates will note some similarities, and we think that is a very good thing.  But a deeper background may also detect some inspiration from Joy Division.

Seafog are Robin Sharma (vocals/guitar), Nigel Waters (guitar/effects), and Marty Sadler (drums).  The album is released via Autria's Zelle Records, but you can score a digital copy via the Bandacamp link below.

Bandcanp for Dig It On Up

The Occasional Flickers - Sleep And The Time In Between

Occasional Flickers is a long-running Edinburgh band that plays the kind of jangle pop and indie rock for which the Scottish indie scene is justifiably respected.  They have just released the fine Sleep And The Time In Between, which is a worthy addition to their catalog.  Listen to the free-wheeling jangle of "Sparrow", the Belle & Sebastian echoes of "Half Know" and the title track, or try the pastoral folk jangle of "Before You Break A Mirror".  Other highlights are the breezy "Myself", the country-tinged "Visions of Geraldine", and the grand conclusion of "Winter Waltz".   This album is a very rewarding listen, and will deliver pleasure for a long time.

The Greek/Scots line-up of Occasional Flickers consists of Panayotis Baras, Giorgos Bouras, Fraser Hughes, and Robin Campbell Oliver.  Sleep And The Time In Between is out now via Jigsaw Records.

Bandcamp for album
Jigsaw Records

Sunday, October 29, 2017

TheYellow Melodies - Life

One of the modern masters of brightly colored power pop is Spain's The Yellow Melodies.  Helmed by songwriter Rafa Skam, the band keeps the flame of The Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, The Pastels, Superstar, and BMX Bandits burning brightly.  Whether playing their own compositions or covering other bands (covers of Television Personalities and BMX Bandits are fondly remembered around here), they always deliver melodies and charm.  The band's new album is simply titled Life, and it is a good choice for a set of songs that affirm the joys of living from start to finish.  This is music to accompany a drive with a loved one, time with the children, a family picnic, or perhaps just a hug.  We can all think of a number of reasons to listen to music, but one of the best is that it makes us feel good.  If you want to feel good, choose Life.

In addition to Rafa Skam, The Yellow Melodies are Pilar, Carlos Abrisqueta, and Jose Angel, although others contribute with keys, percussion and horns.  Life is out now via the band's own label in Europe and Ottawa's The Beautiful Music in North America.

Bandcamp for Life
The Beautiful Music page for album

"Three Shadows" by The New Tigers

The New Tigers is one of our favorite Finnish bands.  And yes, we follow so may Finnish bands that we have favorites.  The band is preparing to release their third album, and has decided to share a single to let us all know what they've have been up to.  The answer, according to "Three Shadows", is that they have been crafting delectable pop music.  And here it is!

The music of The New Tigers is released via Helsinki's Soliti Music.

Bandcamp for "Three Shadows"
Soliti Music

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Worriers - Survival Pop

Punk rock with melody, insight and passion -- damn this is good stuff.  If you aren't familiar with Brooklyn's Worriers, you have some catching up to do.  But start with their recent album Survival Pop.  The band's focal point is vocalist Lauren Denitzio, who also is an author and visual artist.  She relies an a fluid supporting case, including Mikey Erg, Lou Hanman, John McLean, Rachel Rubino, and Audrey Zee.  Which of them play on Survival Pop is unknown to us, but WYMA gives major respect to everyone involved.  The music and performances are first rate, and as for the politics, large and small, Joe Strummer said something like 'without politics, punk is just noise'.  We assure you, this album is far more than just noise.

Survival Pop is out now as a digital download.  See the Bandcamp link.

Bandcamp for Survival Pop

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Those Unfortunates - In Lavender and Other Stories

Since everyone reading this blog is accomplished, successful and in every respect a "fat cat", we urge you to spare a little time for the unfortunates in life.  Which unfortunates, you ask?  Well, our recommendation is Those Unfortunates.  Yes, those, the musical Londoners who are witty, melodic and, lately, appealingly prolific.  Their latest offering is the recently released In Lavender EP, which has been playing here in headquarters all morning.

The EP consists of seven numbered tracks, but the first and last are brief spoken-word bookends for the songs.  And what songs they are!  Beginning with the jangling gem "In Lavender" from their recent LP Nothing Isn't Beautiful (reviewed favorably in the most influential blogs, such as here) and continuing with four songs recorded in the sessions for that album, the record showcases the band's ability to thrill with tempo and flair, and please with more pastoral approaches.  "Druid Lane continues the uptempo atmosphere of the title track in fine fashion.  Following songs "Woodlouse" and "Mirror" slide into the band's alternative sweet spot of folk pop.  The final musical offering is the delightful "Fountayne Road", a shaggy folk rock tune.  Any of the previously unreleased songs could have held their own with the songs included in the album, so we applaud the wisdom of the band in releasing them now.  Of course, if that leaves them four songs short for the next album, they will live up to their band name, and the LP will become an EP.  But other than that potential problem, these guys are just about perfect.  Enjoy!

In Lavender is available as a highly limited cassette and digital download via the band's own Midnight Bell label.  See the Bandcamp link for details.

Bandcamp for EP

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Luxembourg Signal - Blue Field

Now seven members strong, everything about the current iteration of Anglo/Yankee band The Luxembourg Signal suggests a continuing upward trajectory.  From the top quality pop vocals of Beth Arzy and Betsy Moyer to the richly textured and dynamic arrangements that define their anthemic brand of Creation Records-meets-2017 brand indie pop, the focus is on loading the listener's aural pleasure sensors to maximum levels.  With veterans of Aberdeen and Trembling Blue Stars, and a lineage that leads back to Sarah Records, there is a wealth of experience in crafting delectable hooks and smile-inducing melodies.  But even knowing that background may not prepare the listener for the treats on Blue Field, the band's new album.  The album offers swirling guitars and synths, forward pushing percussion, soaring and cascading harmonies, and evocative expressions of joy and unease.  And in doing so represents one of the finest combinations of pop and dreampop you will find.  Certainly one of 2017's musical gems.

The Luxembourg Signal is Beth Arzy, Betsy Moyer, Johnny Joyner, Brian Espinosa, Ginny Pitchford, Kelly Davis, and Daniel Kumiega.  Blue Field is out now on vinyl, digital and CD formats via Shelflife Records (North America) and Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten (Europe).

Shelflife page for album

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wireheads - Lightning Ears

Lightning Ears is compellingly weird and a whole lot of wonderful.  The latest album and fourth overall from Adelaide country punks Wireheads, it is loose-limbed in construction and wide scope in inspiration.  For this venture band leader Dom Trimboli gathers Harriet Fraser-Barbour (Workhourse), Luke Kenny (Men With Chips), Vic Conrad (The Garden Path), Daniel Heath (IDK 2.0) and Liam Kenny (Workhorse).  As with the prior album, the plan was to record for Calvin Johnson (K Records, Beat Happening) at his studio in Olympia, Washington.  Calvin mislaid his studio so the proceedings moved north to a deconsecrated church in Anacortes, on an island in Puget Sound.  So at the time of recording, we had a band that just recently became a band and which is still learning the songs, a half world of travel, and an enigmatic producer in a new studio.  You might guess that this is a recipe for chaos.  And of course it is, but chaos appears to be the yeast for Wireheads bread.

We've termed the music country punk here because we are accustomed to labels, but the breadth of influences is immense.  Trimboli's talk-sing and deadpan delivery of observations and questions about life and technology are transported by elements of fuzzy punk, college rock, post punk, country, glam and classic rock.  Oh, I almost forgot some Afro-pop and a children's choir (no, not in the same song, these people are civilized).  Nothing is lyrically straightforward, but on some plane it makes sense, you with an open mind you'll get there.  Everyone will find songs to love, and maybe a song or two that challenges them.  But we can't pretend to be objective because we've already put in on our draft list of best albums of the year.  And in our professional opinion, "Indian Pacific Express is one of the best songs we have heard in years.  Go ahead and play it over and over.  It won't wear out, and it won't wear out its welcome.

Lightning Ears is out now via Tenth Court Records.

Bandcamp for Lightning Ears
Tenth Court Records
Site for US vinyl orders
European site for orders

Mark Martyre - Rivers

Lyrical and suffused with emotional currents, Rivers is another stellar offering from Toronto songwriter and poet Mark Martyre.  Martyre possesses a voice seemingly drenched in smoke and whisky, and a breezy performance style that radiates warmth.  But as appealing as that combination can be, the star is the songwriting -- showcasing Mark's ability to turn his personal observations into stories that the listener may well mistake for his or her own.  Sure, Rivers is Martyre's album, but it is welcoming enough that a listener with some miles in the rear view mirror could think a story or two was borrowed from his or her own life.

This album is like a feel good prescription for you spirit.  And it refills endlessly.

Bandcamp for Rivers

Friday, October 20, 2017

Strawberry Runners - In The Garden, In The Night

Deft songwriting with a perfect indie pop voice make Strawberry Runners a can't miss proposition for us here at WYMA.  The debut EP, In the Garden, In the Night, provides a five-song proof, but most music fans won't need that much to conclude that there is prodigious talent on offer.  We fully expect to see this EP on year-end lists of records that many people missed.  Of course, because you read WYMA, you haven't missed it.

The band is the musical alter ego of Emi Night, a young women who spins stories about the good and bad of growing up, and confidently delivers them in capsules of rich melody.  She has been making music for a number of years, but this is her first record.  Our conclusion is that this is wonder, and wholly addictive, pop music.  It is our loss that she waited this long.

The players on the album are Emi Night (vocals/guitar/mandolin/additional percussion), Davy Timm (trumpet/vocals/keys), Sam Kelley (guitars), Tyler Morse (bass/vocals), Max Barcelow (drums/vocals/additional percussion), and Rich Goldberg (keys).  In the Garden, In the Night is out October 20 via Salinas Records

Bandcamp for EP
Salinas Records page to order EP

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Not So Bad" by Johnny Kills

We keep our promises here, and we promised UK's Johnny Kills that we would feature their next single after posting the third of their summer trio of singles (Link to End Game here).  Now, some readers may wonder whether it was a cynical promise after assuming that Tim Lloyd-Kinnings (guitar/vocals), Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings (bass/keys/vocals), and Cameron Gipp (guitar/vocals) probably would have fled the country by now, one step of their girlfriends' angry, shotgun-carrying fathers.  But we assure you that our promise was entirely based on our respect for their music.  So here is the muscular, crunchy, totally rocking "Not So Bad".  And to each of the guys, if her dad caught you, we congratulate you on the upcoming nuptials.

Bandcamp for "Not So Bad"

Pia Fraus - Field Ceremony

As all of us know, shoegaze is characterized by a dense and enveloping sound.  It is the genre's defining element and the critical draw for fans.  But the best shoegaze is created by artists who understand that the dense soundscapes serve best as a foundation for the other details.  And this brings us the the Field Ceremony, the delightful new album by Estonia's Pia Fraus.  Listen to album opener "It's Over Now" and appreciate the lower register rhythm riff capturing the listener.  Or to the indie pop vocals dancing over the sonic tapestry in the following "Never Again Land" and "Autumn Winds".  Nor does the band shy away from more pop arrangements, such as on "No Filter Needed".  In fact, while the band displays their sheer power frequently on this album, the overall effect to our ears was more dreampop than what we commonly regard as shoegaze.  From the adept balance of light and dark elements in the songwriting, to the thoughtful production, to the clear emotion in the performances, Field Ceremony is a work of art to celebrate.  And of course, to listen to over and over.

Pia Fraus is Rein Fuks (guitar/vocals/percussion), Eve Komp (vocals/synths/metallophone), Kart Ojavee (synths), Reijo Tagapere (bass), and Margus Voolpriit (drums).  Field Ceremony is out now via Shelflife (U.S.), Seksound (Eur), and Vinyl-Junkie Records (Japan).

Shelflife page for album

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ciggie Witch - Mad Music

As a public service, we have posted your "to do" list for today:
  1. Call home
  2. Get ticket for the show on Saturday
  3. Pick up laundry
  4. Buy the new Ciggie Witch album
  5. Ask Pete if he was serious when he said "whatever" to that question
  6. Ignore the "check engine" light
What? You ask, what is this "Ciggie Witch" thing of which you speak.  Fair question, I guess.  Ciggie Witch is a Zac Denton/Mitch Clemens project expanded to become a six-member music collective comprised of members of Ocean Party, Totally Mild, Pregnancy, Zone Out, and other bands.  They have just released Mad Music, their third album, and it is shooting up our list of recommended albums with each play.  Mad Music ably presents the duality of the Melbourne band's art.  The arrangements often feature chiming and jangling guitars, lush synths, and overall pop smarts, while the lyrics often are anxious, jittery and idiosyncratic.  In the hands of Ciggie Witch, it is a winning combination, and we wouldn't want them to change a thing.  Take a spin on Bandcamp, and welcome to the world of Ciggie Witch.

Mad Music is out now as a limited edition cassette and as a digital download via Lost and Lonesome Records.  Ciggie Witch is Ahley Bundang, Mitch Clemens, Lachlan Denton, Zac Denton, Liam Halliwell, Lauren Huynh, and Joe Foley.

Bandcamp for Mad Music
Soundcloud for Mad Music


Acid Tongue - Babies

Is soulful psychedelic garage rock a thing?  Why yes, yes it is.  And you can enjoy 10 songs of soulful psychedelic garage rock (and a humorous non-musical intro) on Babies, the new LP from Acid Tongue.  With hazy intensity and retro psych/garage flourishes, it prods the listener's mind with echoes of the '60s and '70s.  But it does so only to the extent that is reminds us how much we miss a good rock song in the era of overly processed pop.  The themes are modern day life and timeless explorations of  the reality of growing up wreaking havoc with hopes and dreams, and the salvation to be found in relationships.  And there is enough soul in the vocal performance to keep the proceedings a big couple of steps removed from a stoner throwback party, and to bring plenty of smiles to our faces.  When we think of rock, Acid Tongue's music is just the thing we have in mind.  Listen to "Humpty Dumpty" and "If I Really Loved Her" below and see if you don't agree.  And we assure you that several other songs on the album are equally worthy of singles treatment.  Pounce on this one, folks.

Babies is the work of Acid Tongue frontman Guy Keltner (vocals/lead guitar/bass/acoustic guitar) and Ian Cuningham (drums/production), with Daniel O'Neil (drums/percussion), Jacob Rose (bass), Jason Cairati (keys), James Squires (drums/piano/bass), Maiah Manser (backing vocals), and Thomas Fredrickson (bass).  The band is touring in Europe now, but will return to the states and tour in November.

Freakout Records order page for Babies

Monday, October 16, 2017

"I'll Wait For You" by Skittle Alley

This is the sort of song that doesn't deserve a lot of words, because it doesn't need a lot of words.  Just press play and listen to almost six minutes of pop perfection from France's Skittle Alley.

Skittle Alley is Fanou, Guillaume, Pierre and Stephane, and they are from Limoges.


"The Hinterland" by Last Leaves

It always is a sad event when a favorite band calls it a day, and the final curtain call for Melbourne's The Lucksmiths likely brought more regret than most.  Fortunately, we fans didn't even have time to throw a wake before we learned that Marty Donald, Mark Monnone and Louis Richter from The Lucksmiths added Noah Symons of reat Earthquake to form new indie pop powerhouse Last Leaves.  The band's debut album is due soon from Matinee Recordings in the US and Lost and Lonesome Records in Australia.  However, first things first, and first is this sweet and very limited 7" "The Hinterland".  Consisting of the title track and B-side "Nora Creina", it is a delectable slice of guitar pop and available right now.  Note that the B-side is excellent, and will not be on the album

Matinee Recordings page for single
The Lost and Lonesome Records page for single
Lost and Lonesome Bandcamp page for single

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Exaltation" by Salad Boys

We haven't been quiet about our affection for the music of Salad Boys, and we are happy to announce that January 2018 will bring their new album This Is Glue via Trouble In Mind Records.  And to make our weekend even better, the announcement is accompanied by the light of day shining on this top notch bite of Salad Boys music, the jangling "Exaltation".  Ah, Kiwi indie pop -- critical to life as we know it!

Trouble In Mind Records page for Salad Boys

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Stephen McLaren - We Used To Go Raving

Armed with a piano and a sharp pen, Stephen McLaren gives us We Used To Go Raving, a pop album of commentary on political events as well as more personal musings on life thus far.  Taking inspiration from New Order's brand of new wave and classic singer songwriters, McLaren paints in big tones and lush soundscapes, singing with conviction and unstinting vision about the past and present.  The past is tinted with nostalgia, but not at the expense of critical evaluation and the occasional bitter chomp.  The present mixes a bit of optimism with the anger and uncertainty.  And as a triple threat, he delivers an affecting love song as well ("I Sing To You").  And regardless of one's take on those themes, the music is damn special and the vocal performance excellent.  Some of the song titles are outright funny as well.  Our favorite tracks are the title track, "No More (Say Yes)", "Chest Pains Lullaby", and "I Sing To You".

We Used To Go Raving is out now on various digital platforms.


Alex Lahey - I Love You Like A Brother

On first listen, I Love You Like A Brother earned an ovation at WYMA World Headquarters.  Thereafter, our appreciation grew.  The work of young Australian musician Alex Lahey, the album is a poptastic rush of garage pop and energy, with a clear-eyed by witty view of relationships.  The fact that the relationships typically are troubled just adds spice (and zero pain as they aren't our relationships).  The songs are constructed with choruses that practically beg you to sing along.  And why shouldn't you?  Singing is fun, and the sense of fun pervades the proceedings.  The lyrics are witty, the peppy pace is fun and inspiring, and the artist's pure joy at performing is palpable.  But this is fun and joy delivered in concise, well-thought out nuggets with keen observations and enough self-revelatory material to give the album some personality to go with the hooks.  We hope Ms. Lahey chooses to share her fun for a long, long time.

I Love You Like A Brother is out now via Dead Oceans.  Alex Lahey will be touring North America in November and December.  Dates and locations are listed at the bottom of this post.  And if you want to explore more of her music, we recommend her previous record, B-Grade University EP.

Bandcamp for I Love You Like A Brother

North America Tour Dates:
Wed. Nov. 15 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott
Thu. Nov. 16 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Fri. Nov. 17 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
Sun. Nov. 19 - Washington, DC @ DC9
Wed. Nov. 22 - Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel - Underground
Fri. Nov. 24 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
Sat. Nov. 25 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Wed. Nov. 29 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Thu. Nov. 30 - Austin, TX @ Barracuda
Sat. Dec. 2 - Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge
Sun. Dec. 3 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Tue. Dec. 5 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
Wed. Dec. 6 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
Fri. Dec. 8 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Sat.Dec. 9 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Mon. Dec. 11 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Tue. Dec. 12 - Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
Wed. Dec. 13 - Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Biblically Speaking" by The Just Joans

People who write advice columns know that they are engaged in a balancing act.  They need to have an question of potential interest to others, and they have to dispense advice serious and correct enough to justify the exercise.  But they also need to do so in a manner that is entertaining and witty.  And when it comes to witty, a bit on the acerbic side tends to go over well.  After all, do you want to please numerous readers happy to laugh at one hapless and anonymous soul, or that one hapless soul? Exactly so.

And that brings us to The Just Joans, the only band we follow named after an advice columnist.  This Glasgow band also dishes out witty, acerbic observations.  But they do so with great tunes.  A case in point is new song "Biblically Speaking", which is taken from their upcoming album You Might Be Smiling Now ... .  The song addresses the timeless tension between wanting to live the virtuous life and yearning to do otherwise.  We go through that exercise multiple times a day, of course, but we don't do it in such an entertaining fashion.  And we almost always make the same choice, and when we don't it usually is for the wrong reason.  But enough about us -- enjoy the song and mark your calendars for December 1 and the arrival of  You Might Be Smiling Now ... .

Bandcamp and pre-order for You Might Be Smiling Now ...
Fika Recordings

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Verandan - Verandan EP

We were impressed by each track Verandan released in advance of dropping the Verandan EP, but even so we were unprepared for the quality of the record as an entire work.  Yes, the sum is even better than its excellent component songs.

The EP opens with the shimmering, bubbling "Short Dream", which I have previously described as the musical equivalent of walking into a room and having sparkling confetti tossed on you while you are handed a glass of champagne.  And my opinion hasn't changed.  "Gold in the Hills" has the wide scope, bright tones and an insistent bass of an '80s pop hit.  At the moment, it is my favorite song on the record.  The lovely and dreamily moody "Inland Sea" dials proceedings down a level to great effect.  The third single from the EP was the next track, the sprawling, dynamic showcase tune "Follow the Money".  A terrific song with a sincere message about economic dislocation, I've never been able to play the song just once.  "A Pleasant View" is a breezy indie pop tune, an example of the perfection to be found in a simple arrangement and good execution.  The EP's closing track is the melodic, gently unfurling "Sands Are Shifting".

Ville Hopponen, formerly of Cats on Fire and a member of The New Tigers, is the frontman and songwriter of Verandan.  Other members are Appu Jasu, Janne Kauppinen, Valtteri Virtanen, Aleksi Peltonen, Aki Pohjankyrö, Sampo Seppänen, Kaarlo Stauffer, Olli Juvonen, Mathias Nilsson Seger, Olli Attila and Rami Vierula Verandan EP is out now via Helsinki's Soliti Music.

Bandcamp for Verandan EP
Soliti Music

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cults - Offering

We became big fans of Cults when their brand of dark retro pop hit the airwaves a few years ago, and were concerned that their hiatus after the Static LP might have become permanent.  Happily, Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion are back with a satisfying set of new songs.  For Offering, the band hasn't entirely abandoned the retro elements, but the core of this album lives in the new wave and '80s big pop sound channel.  It is a good choice for the duo -- the sound fits their skill set like a glove, and their understanding of what makes a good new wave pop song is spot on.  This is music that reaches out to the listener.  It is lively, bright-sounding and forward-looking.  While their earlier work was appropriate for two young talents who dropped out of film school to follow their musical interests, Offering reflects not only the added years and experience, but more specifically the artists' comfort in their own place.  And with that foundation, they offer even more to us on this aptly named return.

Offering is out now via Sinderlyn.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

"Plastic Tears" by Bed Wettin' Bad Boys

Not a shocking revelation, I know, but we found another band to love -- Bed Wettin' Bad Boys.  Your introductory song is "Plastic Tears", features gritty '80s guitars and vocals that suggest a soul singer with a bottle of Jack Daniels and something important to say.  Another way to put it is that is sounds a lot like a combination of The Replacements and Royal Headache.  And since Joe from Royal Headache is the front man, the similarity is quite understandable.  Understandable, and welcome.

The band's upcoming album, titled Rot will be released November 10 by What's Your Rupture and R.I.P. Society.

What's Your Rupture
R.I.P. Society Records

Friday, October 6, 2017

Yumi Zouma - Willowbank

Some bands get your attention by hitting you over the head, punching you in the gut, or simply (and often effectively) yelling at you.  Yumi Zouma is not such a band.  The New Zealanders (all from Christchurch but often living elsewhere) envelope the listener with sweet melodies and soft, cooing vocals, providing a listening experience like being in along a seashore with the light marine fog dispersing in the sunlight.  The band's first album was the well-received Yoncalla.  They now follow with Willowbank

On this outing the band really don't do anything dramatically different -- nor should they have.  They know their sweet spot and they work it to great effect.  Their melodic sense is superb.   The compositions choose warmth over drama, painting in pastels and wrapped in gauze, but their arrangements manage the tricky feat of being dynamic as well as gentle.  The rhythm portions of the track are inventive, interesting, and drive the songs perfectly.   The genre is synth pop/electro pop, but many of these songs would slot into a dancefloor mix quite comfortably.  If you like synth pop, you really need to explore this album.

Yumi Zouma is Christie Simpson, Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder and Josh Burgess..  Willowbank is out now via Cascine.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Shout Out Louds - Ease My Mind

The world is a dangerous, challenging, chaotic and frustrating place right now.  Of course, as good people and dedicated citizens, we all spend our time engaging in the good fight.  But sometimes you need to unplug, relax, and enjoy the simple pleasures available to us.  You know, ease your mind a bit.  Well, Sweden's Shout Out Louds are ready with our soundtrack for appreciating the good things.  Press play on the aptly-named Ease My Mind and enjoy your family, drive to the shore, take a walk crunching through the leaves on a sunny autumn day, or give your partner a cuddle.  Did I write "or"?  Go ahead and do them all -- the album runs about 45 minutes but it is the kind of soundtrack that you won't mind hearing throughout the season.

The songs here are fully fleshed out, with robust arrangements and confident vocals.  The performances are tight, and repeated listens will reveal an appreciated attention to details in the soundscapes.  As is appropriate for an album focused feelings, and mostly good feelings, the hooks are plentiful and reach for the stars.  And while the Shout Out Louds are a band that doesn't mind rocking out a bit, the classic gloss of Swedish pop is in evidence as well.  Take this album on its own terms, and you'll find it giving you an abundance of pleasure, demanding nothing of you other than your ears and a desire to ease your mind.

Shout Out Louds are Adam Olenius, Ted Malmros, Eric Edman, Bebban Stenborg, and Carl von Arbin.  Ease My Mind is out now via Merge Records.

Bandcamp for Ease My Mind
Merge Records page for Ease My Mind

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Morning TV - Sun

We have always had a rule around here - no morning TV.  It doesn't matter what channel, it is horrible drivel.  And then we heard Sun, the new album from Sydney's Morning TV.  We have amended our rule to prohibit watching morning TV, but requiring listening to Morning TV.  And if you know what is good for your ears, brain, heart and soul, you will immediately adopt that rule for yourself.  All seven tracks are lovely.  The first four are great examples of simple but endearing guitar pop songs.  The fifth track dives into atmospheric psychedelia, while the sixth and seventh tracks are sparsely adorned, folky songs similar to some of the work of Melbourne's Lower Plenty.

Morning TV is Brit (vocals/guitar), Ana (bass), Tim (guitar/vocals), and Cam (drums).  Sun is out now as a digital download via Habit Music Company.  See the Bandcamp link for a stream and other details.

Bandcamp for Sun

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Shrug Life -¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As those California boys with deplorable dress sense sang, "fun fun fun 'til her Daddy takes the T-bird away".  Well, we aren't female and, sadly, we don't have access to a vintage Ford Thunderbird, but we love fun.  Everyone loves fun.  So today's feature is the new album from Dublin's Shrug Life. We note that the album is self-titled, but the trio prefers to use a series of keystrokes as a stand in for the letters.

What Danny Carroll (vocals/guitar), Keith Broni (bass) and Josh Donnelly (drums) deliver is Weezer's hook-infused choruses and Dogs Die In Hot Cars' manic energy.  The songwriting is smart and humorous, and the lad's battles with first world problems and modern complacency are colorfully illustrated.  Take, for example, a song in which Danny's job in the cancellation department of a satellite TV and broadband provider results in comparing his manager with Benito Mussolini ("Temp Life").   In fact, my only complaint about this album is not having the lyrics, but the vocals are high enough in the mix that you probably can work it our well enough.  Aurally and lyrically, this is a real treat, and don't you deserve a treat this week?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ is out now in digital and CD formats via Jigsaw Records and Little L Records.  Check the Bandcamp link below for details.

Bandcamp for album
Jigsaw Records
Little L Records

Ewan Cruickshanks - Dreams (Feat. Siobhan Wilson)

Today we begin with a public service announcement: Check your damn email, people!  Over a week ago I was sent an alert about a single from Glasgow songwriter and poet Ewan Cruickshanks.  As I've been very busy, I overlooked it.  If I had seen it, you would have known about Dreams before it was released last Friday.  As it is, you'll have to accept notice now.  The lovely little release consists of three songs that are satisfyingly different.  Title track "Dreams" features guest vocals by Siobhan Wilson, and sparkles and jangles in brilliant fashion.  The middle track is "Serial Killer", a very humorous tale of a young man whose murderous impulses took his life off the rails (we must admit that the subject of that one may be a bit raw for American readers at the moment).  The final track is an ode to the delectable scone.  The songwriting is sharp, and the Glasgow accent is thick.  Good stuff, we say.

Dreams is a digital release, available via Armellodie Records on Bandcamp or you other favorite digital retailer.  Armellodie will release Ewan's full album, A Glasgow Band, in January.

Bandcamp for Dreams
Armellodie Records

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Noire - Some Kind Of Blue

We recently read a book about the emergence of cool in post-WWII America -- hundreds of pages about rebels, authenticity and individually.  And while it was a good book, we couldn't help thinking that trying to describe a concept like cool is difficult for mere mortals.  But that doesn't mean that we don't know cool when we see it.  Or when we hear it.  Some Kind of Blue radiates cool.  Constructed of vintage '60s vibes, restrained instrumentation, evocative and atmospheric arrangements, and the kind of vocals that make you shut up, sit up, and pay attention, the album unspools like the soundtrack from a David Lynch film.  The architects are a young Sydney duo that call themselves Noire, and they display a deft touch with creating evocative music that smears love, loneliness and loss into a sincere musical statement sounds like an essential soundtrack for the listeners life from the first play.

And it is cool.  Trust us.

Noire are Jessica Mincher (vocals/synths) and Billy James (guitar).  Some Kind of Blue is out now via Spunk Records.

Spunk Records

Salad Boys - Giving Compliments to Strangers

This sort of thoughtfulness should not go unrecognized.  Salad Boys, a favorite band around our headquarters, has been touring in Australia.  But the New Zealanders are aware that many fans will not have a chance to catch these shows, so they are making the songs from their limited edition, sold out tour cassette Giving Compliments to Strangers available as a digital download.  For five New Zealand dollars you can have your own stop on the tour.  The band provides the tunes and the energy, you provide the space and your choice of beverage and company.  Strobe lights and smoke machines are optional.

Salad Boys on this outing are Joe Sampson, Ben Odering, Matt Scobie, and Olly Crawford-Ellis.  They are based in Christchurch.

Bandcamp for album