Thursday, June 28, 2018

Lachlan Denton - Two Months In Ben Woolley's Room

The ability to create beauty and find meaning out of loss and pain is a defining characteristic for an artist.  Of course, not all art is created that way, but those that react creatively to such hurdles are a special breed.  For example, most of us would respond to the demise of a long-term relationship by moping, sleeping, weeping or drinking (note that your personal answer may include more than one of the foregoing activities, as has been the case in my experience).  In the aftermath of the dissolution of an 8-year relationship, Lachlan Denton took a two-month sublet from Ben Woolley, and put his talents to crafting what our ears declare to be the finest singer songwriter album we have heard this year.  The title -- Two Months In Ben Woolley's Room -- reflects a directness and honesty that is echoed throughout, with sincere and heartfelt songs that are bittersweet and reflective, but refreshingly vibrant.  Love isn't an abstract concept, but rather something you feel and live when you are in the relationship, and something that creates a palpable void when all that is left are the memories.  Lach understands that, and generously allows the listeners to pull in close and share his reflections.   But make no mistake, this isn't an album of tears and mopery.  The songs are melodic, with shimmering arrangements and, in several instances, a delightful strut to the tempo.  Denton wrote all of the songs but one, and his choice for a cover is the Go-Betweens' "Boundary Rider".  And that just goes to show that perfection can be perfected.

Lachlan Denton is a mainstay of Melbourne's ace The Ocean Party, but has released several solo records as well and collaborated with Emma Russack.

Two Months In Ben Woolley's Room is out now in digital and cassette formats.

Bandcamp for Album

Two new songs by Hater

We usually try to bring you love and happiness, but today we bring you Hater.  This four-piece from Malmo, Sweden has been on our radar for a while, and we featured their fine Red Blinders EP last November (link).  Their sweet spot is dynamic but melodic guitar pop with bittersweet shadings.  New album Siesta will be out in September via Fire Records, but you can stream and purchase two of its 14 tracks right now.  On first listen, "Its So Easy" prompted us to say 'this is just the way we like our indie pop'.  And then we heard the wistful "I Wish I Gave You More Time Because I Love You", which prompted a moment of silence, and then 'wow, that too'.

Bandcamp for Siesta and the single
Fire Records page for Hater

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Blues Lawyer - Guess Work

We can hear your protests already - "the world doesn't need any more damn lawyers!"  OK, even though several of us are, in fact, lawyers, we understand the sentiment.  We really do.  But this feature isn't about just any lawyer, this is about Blues Lawyer.  Unlike those of us that pretend to explain the law while keeping you in a sufficient state of confusion that you keep paying us in the hope that we might make sense at some point, Blues Lawyer's debut album, Guess Work, just gets on with the very direct business of playing crunchy power pop with enough grit to make you think that if they had a law office, it might be the back seat of an '89 Cadillac Eldorado parked in a not yet gentrified street in their home town of Oakland, California.  You won't require any further explanations from them and the only bill is $7 for digital, $18 for vinyl.  Mining romantic adventures, and misadventures, for your listening pleasure, this record is equally packed with riffs and laughs.

Blues Lawyer is Rob I. Miller, Elyse Schrock, Nic Russo (Dick Stusso), and Alejandra Alcala. 
 Guess Work is out now via Emotional Response Records.  Vacant Stare has a cassette version that might work for you if you have an '89 Eldorado.

Bandcamp for Guess Work

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Azure Blue - Fast Falls the Eventide

Swedish pop savant Tobias Isaksson has been working as Azure Blue this decade, crafting warm, accessible synth pop that covers the spectrum from lush romanticism to New Order style pulse-racers.  Two months ago we featured his Whatever '18 EP, but the prolific Swede is back already with a full album of new material titled Fast Falls the Eventide.  With a generous 11 songs, the album delivers the brand of upbeat synth pop, with Tobias' creative flourishes and careful craftsmanship, that will brighten the beginning of anyone's summer.  This is music that is vital and bristling with energy.  In addition to "Whatever '18", standout tracks include "Crimson Red", "My Final Candle", and "Don't Turn On Me".  Fast Falls the Eventide is an instant synth pop classic -- don't miss it.

Tobias Isaksson wrote all the songs and performed on all tracks.  Additional contributions were from Julia Boman, Tim Johnsson, The Land Below, Peter Moren, Paola, Tangela, and Cesar Vidal.  Fast Falls the Eventide is out now via Matinee Recordings.

Twitter for Tobias Isaksson
Matinee Recordings page for Fast Falls the Eventide

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Catenary Wires - Was That Love? / What About The Rings

A duo such as Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey need little or no help from us, or anyone else, to burnish their reputations.  After all, their enviable resume includes Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research and other worthy projects.  Moreover, Amelia and Rob are not resting on their laurels, and continue to make wonderful music.  Their current project is The Catenary Wires.  In 2015, the band released their debut album, Red Red Skies.  After a delay that we can only describe as 'longer than we would like', the duo returns with a lovely two-song single for the WIAIWYA singles club.  Consisting of the sweet "Was that Love?", which is 2:28 of aural bliss, and "What About The Rings?"  Both songs provide your daily dose of several essential vitamins, as well as a bumper crop of charm.

Bandcamp for single

Friday, June 22, 2018

Red Sleeping Beauty - Always On Your Side

Sweden's Red Sleeping Beauty took a long hiatus between the '90s and their 2016 release Kristina, but they are back to address unfinished business.  And to our ears, that business appears to be proving that they are one of the world's top synth pop acts.  The proof will come with the band's fourth album, which still is in production, but we get a tease of what is to come with today's Always On Your Side EP.  The title track, which will be on the upcoming album, already is one of my favorite songs of the year.  The following "Falling Out Of Love" is from a demo by Niklas Angergard's other project, Acid House Kings.  "Just For Fun" is a cover of a top Alpaca Sports' song.  The closer is "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight", an unabashed love song.  This is synth pop the way it should be -- playful (dig the intro to "Falling Out Of Love" and the low tones punctuating the chorus on "Just For Fun"), sunny, uplifting and pristine in tone.  Yes, Always On Your Side is a Nordic gem of the highest order.

Red Sleeping Beauty are Niklas Angergard, Mikael Matsson, and Kristina Borg.  The EP is out today on all digital platforms, and a CD is available via Sunday Records.

Soundcloud for EP
Order page for CD (Sunday Records)
Spotify for EP

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Flasher - Constant Image

Much of what comes out of Washington, D.C. these days is stomach-churning, so it is in the spirit of balance, and no small amount of nostalgia for a city I enjoyed living in for several years in a past decade, that we bring you Constant Image, the superb album from D.C.'s Flasher.  Barely two years old, this three-piece has emerged from their punk roots as a versatile and inspired rock band.  The songs on this debut album flow easily from punky anthems to pop smeared indie rock to taut post-punk.  But regardless of style, every song bristles with energy and is performed with passion.

Thematically, Flasher doesn't believe in shading the truth or sugar-coating disappointment.  The songs feature dispassionate and clear-eyed observations of personal and public life, and in picking their scabs, you may feel your own pain.  But for all that, we found listening to this album to be a welcome visceral experience.  Yeah, politics sucks, life is full of disappointments and settling for less, and we've never felt so alive for listening to it.

Flasher are Taylor Mulitz (guitar), Daniel Saperstein (bass), and Emma Baker (drums), all of whom sing on the album.  Constant Image is out now via Domino.

Bandcamp for Constant Image

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"Phantom Ride" by New Silver Girl

Finland has developed into a reliable source of excellent bands.  Today's feature from the Northern side of the Baltic Sea is New Silver Girl.  Check out the psychedelic garage pop delights of their new song, "Phantom Ride".

New Silver Girl are Olli Happonen (vocals/guitar), Samuli Sulku (guitar), Ilmo Cantell (bass), and Niilo Suihko (drums).

Bandcamp for "Phantom Ride"
Other links for download and streaming

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs

We live for up-tempo guitar pop, and right now Melbourne's Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are creating some of the best up-tempo guitar pop on the planet.  This may strike you as a surprising claim about a band that has just dropped their debut LP.  But we have seen this band live, we have worn out the electrons on their previous EPs, and we have had that new album - Hope Downs - blasting out of our speakers for a couple of months, so we are confident in our assessment.  Hooks, passionate songwriting and able performances are in abundance here, with a consistency that demonstrates the value of having three songwriters on the roster.  Those songwriters, Fran Keaney, Tom Russo, and Joe White, are joined by Joe Russo and Marcel  Tussie.  The songs adroitly walk the line between urgency and pleasure, with robust but breezy arrangements, just as the guitars alternate among jangling, chunky and spiky riffs.  Lyrically, the album addresses the uncertainties and fears of the current state of the world (the album title is taken from the name of a large open pit mine, the edge of which invites you to stare down into the abyss), but rarely has disillusionment been presented in such warm, inviting colors.  In our view, this is a fantastic opening LP from a promising band, but most importantly for all of you, it is an album you will never regret adding to your collection.

Hope Downs is out now via Sub Pop Records.

Bandcamp for Hope Downs
Sub Pop Records

Monday, June 18, 2018

"The Falls" by Nic Pool

Some Mondays are consumed by doing what we need to do the eat and put a roof over our head, and this is one of those Mondays.  But we can't ignore our self-imposed obligation to bring you some fine music.  So here is "The Falls" by Tucson, Arizona musician Nic Pool.  His voice is soulful, and the beat delightful.  We hope there is more to come.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Catherines

If you are a fan of jangle pop with plenty of fuzz, you will be thrilled to explore the catalog of The Catherines.  It is the project of Hamburg, Germany's Heiko Schneider, who offers us classic melodies, bittersweet (and often amusing) lyrics, and arch song titles, all packaged in one or two track digital singles.  Listen to some streams below, and then go to Bandcamp and explore some more.  It may make you late for a meeting or keep you up late, but life is to be lived.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

D.A. Stern - Aloha Hola / Isn't It Obvious?

D.A. Stern (whose mom probably knows him as Daniel Aaron Stern of New Jersey) has DNA that matches pretty well with pop genius Harry Nilsson, and probably has plenty of similarity with Lennon/McCartney, Brian Wilson, and the ghosts of the Brill Building.  Now living in Los Angeles, the man is churning out music that simply demands listening.  He released full album Aloha Hola in 2017, but it only got limited traction in an increasingly crowded music world.  Fortunately for Daniel, and us, Slumberland has re-released Aloha Hola and Daniel's 2018 four track single Isn't It Obvious?  So you now can have your very own D.A. Stern collection.

You man have gotten out of bed this morning unaware of the delights of Stern's music, but now you need it in your life.  "Isn't It Obvious?"

Three from Aloha Hola:

Title track for Isn't It Obvious?:

Bandcamp for Aloha Hola
Bandcamp for Isn't It Obvious?
Slumberland page for Aloha Hola

Friday, June 15, 2018

Super 8 - Turn Around Or

Friday  has arrived at WYMA headquarters, so it is time to test candidates for weekend beverage consumption (this is scientific research, people, don't scoff) and pick some weekend music.  A trending candidate is Turn Around Or by Super 8.  Not only is the name of the band evocative of road trips, conjuring motels, gas stations, or motels with an adjacent gas station, but the songs on  Turn Around Or suggest parties, good times, and weekend beverages.  The man behind the Super 8 mask is Trip, who also is known as Paul Ryan.  But if we had a name that risked us being mistaken for the emasculated Speaker of the US House of Representatives, we would choose a stage name as well, and Trip works just fine.

Turn Around Or is packed with scrappy indie nuggets that should have you bouncing all weekend long.  The songwriting is tight, the arrangements are bold, and there are enough hooks to prompt envy in Big Star.  Trip's performance has the grit and panache that we want in a frontman.  And it should be noted that while Trip did most of the work himself, he had help from the likes of Nick Bertling, Bill Philips, Owen Hodgson, and Sunnie Larson.  Picking representative songs from among this consistent menu could have been done with darts, but we manned up and made four selections.  Trip composed all except "Serious Drugs", the BMX Bandits standout penned by Scots heroes Duglas Stewart, Norman Blake and Joe McAlinden.  This man is prolific as well as talented, as it is his second release in 2018.

Turn Around Or is out now in CD and digital formats via Futureman Records.

Bandcamp for album
Futureman Records
Super 8/Trip on Twitter

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Virginia Wing - Ecstatic Arrow

You may be one of the music lovers who is not familiar with Virginia Wing, and if you are such a person you may wonder why your go-to blogs and zines are spending precious pixels discussing the Manchester band's new album, Ecstatic Arrow.  We could be snarky and suggest that you read one or more of those blogs or zines to fine out, but since you are here we will offer you a more constructive suggestion - stream the songs below, realize that the album will enrich your life, and go to Bandcamp and buy the album while streaming it in its full glory.  In our opinion, Ecstatic Arrow is a synthpop triumph, echoing the genre's glory days of the '80s and burnishing them for modern days.  Core members Alice Merida Richards and Samuel Pillay, with able collaborators (including XAM Duo's Christopher Duffin on sax), have created music that is incisive, inventive and entertaining.  While the lyrics can be serious, the arrangements are light filled and uplifting.  Virginia Wing's previous recordings were always interesting and worth exploring, but after listening to Ecstatic Arrow, those efforts seem like practice for the big game, and the new album is the first team showing their stuff, full game face in place.

Ecstatic Arrow is out now in digital, CD, LP, and deluxe LP (with zine and poster) via Fire Records.

Bandcamp for Ecstatic Arrow
Fire Records

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Martes Niebla - Martes Niebla

There have been a number of good bands coming out of Spain in the past few years, and we have discovered yet another one -- Martes Niebla.  Comprised of Cristian, Davis, Erica, Ines, and Paco, they are based in Seville, Spain.  The band's sweet spot is a muscular shoegaze with dream pop elements.  Their debut self-titled EP includes four songs, three with Spanish lyrics and one, "Marble", with English lyrics.  While melodic, the songs have a palpable authority and invite repeated listens.  Martes Niebla is available now as a digital download for 'name your price'.  This is the best deal of the day, folks.

Bandcamp for EP

Monday, June 11, 2018

Candybomber - Singular EP

It seems that Stewart Tudor-Jackman has been reincarnated!  In the '90s, he helmed the Kensingtons, a fine indie pop band with twee leanings.  But for his new project, Candybomber, the menu is power pop with buzzsaw guitars and a bit of punk.  Our first taste is the new four-song Singular EP.  And it is oh, so good!

In addition to Stewart (guitar), Candybomber includes Anthony (drums), Matt (vocals), Fasel (guitar), and Warren (bass).  Singular EP is out now in digital and CD formats via Jigsaw Records.

Bandcamp for Singular EP

Sunday, June 10, 2018

"Et le blizzard s'estompe" by The Rebels of Tijauana

There is no shortage of good music to share, and we will cover as much of it as time allows.  But the music has to fit the time and place.  Today brought a bike ride in both sun and rain, and then sun and rain again, and now we are enjoying a fine beverage.  After spending some time tying to decide what music best fit an early summer evening with a soft rain falling, we checked our email and discovered  a message from Echo Orange submitting "Et le blizzard s'estompe" by The Rebels of Tijuana.  And it is perfect!  We love the way the track establishes a groove and takes the time to let it seep entirely into the listener's brain before the lyrics drop in.  The song, which is the first single written by French poet RĂ©mi Guirao, is available as a digital download from various online sources.

The Rebels of Tijuana are Alex (guitar/bass/vocals), Seb (keys/backing vocals), Romain (drums/backing vocals), and Julien (bass/backing vocals).  Despite the band's name, they are a French, and living in Switzerland.  Obviously, their tastes run to '60s and '70s French pop, and that is quite alright with us.  They will be releasing Asile, a double vinyl LP in October 2018, which promises to encompass folk rock, pop, jazz, and psychedelia.  Based on the evidence of this single, our bet is that they deliver on those promises.

And we wish you a relaxing end to your weekend.

Echo Orange

Friday, June 8, 2018

Various Artists - The Official Matinee World Cup EP

It is just about time for World Cup 2018.  Fans of the participating countries, and unaffiliated fans of the beautiful game, will be focused on cheering for their favorite team in every match.  Of course, musicians are not immune to such passions, and have even been known to compose songs about their teams.  Some of such songs are good, and some of such songs can even be played in polite company.  Today we bring you The Official Matinee World Cup EP, a hot-off-the-press compilation from Matinee Recordings featuring songs by five bands whose fellow countrymen will compete for the ultimate prize.  Last Leaves from Australia sings of "Golden Days To Come".  Sweden's Red Sleeping Beauty is regarding the team "Dressed In Yellow And Blue".  The Spanish contribution from The Royal Landscaping Society reminds us who won in "2010".  "Red White And Blue" is the The Popguns ode to their English team.  Brazil's Pale Sunday contributes "Dirt Pitch Superstars", reminding us of the impromptu pitches that nurture the seemingly endless youth talent supplying their national side.

The games begin next week, so now is the time to load up on modern anthems in digital or CD format.  We already have our copy, and it will feature prominently at happy hour at least until this WC is over.  And because it is good music, and national leagues start up again in August, we'll probably keep playing it.

Soundcloud for EP
Matinee Recordings page for EP

Carla J Easton - Wanting What I Can't Have

As all of us who love music know, you can't keep a good song out of your head.  Carla J. Easton knows that too, but she does it one better on her new record Wanting What I Can't Have.  She gives us the titular track -- then she gives us six remixes of the titular track.  So we get a good song residing our heads, but we get variety as well.  And the song?  It is a bottom-heavy delight with big choruses and Carla's appealing lead vocals.  All of the remixes are excellent, although we are particularly taken with the version by Sun Rose, subtitled 'The Optimist Point of View'.  Fans of Easton's work as ETTE certainly will appreciate her return, but this is a record that should please new fans as well.  And think of the work Carla has saved us.  Usually one would have to collect remixes one at a time as various production teams took on the tax.  Here we have everything wrapped up for us in a single package.

Wanting What I Can't Have is out now as a digital release via Glagow's Olive Grove Records.

Bandcamp for release
iTunes link for ablum

Thursday, June 7, 2018

"Heart Turned Blue" by Melbourne Cans

Your slice of retro pop heaven for the week is "Heart Turned Blue" an ode to fictional pop icon "Peggy Sue" by Australian four-piece Melbourne Cans.  The song is taken from Heat of the Night, which will be released soon by The Lost and Lonesome Recording Co.  We have this one on continued repeat.  We think you will understand why.

Bandcamp for Heat of the Night
Additional links for Heat Of The Night
The Lost and Lonesome Recording Co.

"Hot Mess" and "The Wire" by Saltwater Sun

In case your predilections for a summer soundtrack run towards alternative rock, we suggest that you introduce your music device, and ears, to Saltwater Sun.  They adeptly mix crunch, grit and sunshine.  It is June already, my people, get your summer going ....

Links to buy/stream "Hot Mess"

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Karen Meat - You're An Ugly Person

Karen Meat is from Iowa, which quite frankly isn't a hot spot for bands covered here.  Who knows, maybe we're missing something.  But any group that can package barbed wire lyrics with sweet vocals and upbeat arrangements deserves our time.  Their new album, You're An Ugly Person, covers the pop spectrum with dance, electro-pop, surf, girl group, and funk.  Imagine if a couple of suburban parents hired what they thought was a family-friendly dance band for their daughter's party, only to discover that the singer/songwriter is working through issues of rejection and disappointment and the backing funk/surf band spiked the punch and then guzzled it.  And we mean that as a sincere compliment.  This is an album that will put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step  -- the building blocks of a good life!

The core of Karen Meat are Arin Eaton and Dana Telcrow, although they call on other like-minded crazies from time to time.  You're An Ugly Person is available in digital and vinyl formats via Emotional Response Records.

Bandcamp for album

"Reject" by Melby

Stockholm's Melby will be touring Europe and the UK this summer, and have given fans yet another reason to turn out for their shows with the release of new song "Reject".  The single follows their excellent 2017 self-titled release, and suggests that this quartet will continue to be a band we follow.

Melby are Matilda Wiezell, Are Engen Steinsholm, David Jehrlander, and Teo Jernkvist.  "Reject" is out now via Sweden's Rama Lama Records, as is their Melby EP.

Rama Lama Records

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Vital Idles - Left Hand

We must confess to be in the throes of an "album obsession" period.  The current object of our focus is Left Hand, the debut LP by Vital Idles.  Combining a sparse, hard edged primitivism with a melodic jangle, the Glasgow quartet has crafted a generous 14-song set filled with anxious charm and meandering lyricism.  The band has drawn comparisons to Kleenex, Life Without Buildings, The Raincoats, and even The Smiths.  We get that, but we tend more to regarding them as the love child of The Clean, Beat Happening and Yes On Blood-era The Mallard (which was one of our favorite albums in 2012).  Yes, in our make-believe world three parents are possible.  But regardless of the influences you might detect, we think you will find Left Hand to be an album that will live in your rotation for a long time.

Our favorite songs as of this writing are "A Premise", "Chains", "Solid States", "Life Like", "Geraniums" and .... well, you get the idea, we pretty much like everything this album offers.

Vital Idles are Jessica Higgins, Nick Lynch, Ruari MacLean, and Matthew Walkerdine.  Left Hand is out now via Upset The Rythm.

Upset the Rhythm page to order Left Hand

Friday, June 1, 2018

Beach Skulls - Las Dunas

Beach Skulls dish up a tasty musical stew on debut album Las Dunas.  The featured ingredients are psychedelia, garage pop and surf.  And the result is sunny and a bit spicy, with plenty of variety.  Consider it an album with a sense of adventure, which make it the perfect soundtrack for what you should be planning for the summer (note that we wrote "what you should be planning", now what you couch surfers actually will accomplish).  Listen to "That's Not Me" below, and you might be tempted to think that this trio is from California, rather than the UK midlands.  We take our beach music wherever we can find it (which over the years has included Scotland, Finland, Japan, and Indonesia).  This year, it is Liverpool and Manchester with Beach Skulls.

The band are Ry Vieira, Jordan Finney, and Dan West, and they reside (variously, we assume, in Manchester and Liverpool).  And for those keeping score, this is another week with a winning release from PNK SLM Recordings.

Bandcamp for ordering Las Dunas
Punk Slime Recordings