Saturday, September 29, 2018

Yumi Zouma - EP III

EP III is such an unassuming title for a four track release that music fans unfamiliar with New Zealand band Yumi Zouma might be tempted to pass it up for gaudier material.  May we suggest that such a choice is ill-advised?  No, we insist that it would be a very bad idea.  Yumi Zouma is one of the finest synth pop bands working today, and EP III is the concluding record, and perhaps the finest, in their EP trilogy.  For us, Yumi Zouma's songs, crafted long distance by band members now residing on three continents, evoke dreamy Saturday afternoons and speeding through neon-lit streets late on Saturday night.  And they fit into our lives like they were always meant to be here.

EP III is out now as a digital release via Cascine.  A 10" vinyl version is to be available in November. Yumi Zouma will be playing dates in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles this fall.

Bandcamp for EP III

Sunday, September 23, 2018

"Rockin' to the Beat" by The Perfect English Weather

Today's word is "perfect", because we have the perfect single for that time of year between summer and fall.  You know, the time when there is a perfect summery sheen to an early fall day, or a perfect fallish crispness to a sunny fall day.  The single is "Rockin' to the Beat" by the aptly-named The Perfect English Weather.  The duo of Simon and Wendy Pickles (also of The Popguns) have a new album coming out soon, but they, and Matinee Recordings, decided to provide an advance single to help your seasonal transition.  The record consists of "Rockin' to the Beat" and a fine mix of that song by Equinox.  Available now on digital platforms.

Matinee Recordings page for single
Bandcamp for single

Friday, September 21, 2018

Action Painting! - Trial Cuts (1989-95)

Emotional Response Records is doing heroic work giving new exposure to artists from the catalog of the defunct, much-loved Sarah Records.  Among the most welcome is the work of Action Painting!.  Welcome not just because of the quality, although the quality is undeniable, but because over the course of six years prior to disbanding, the band did not record a full length.  However, they did release four singles with Sarah and one single with Damaged Goods.  That previously released material, plus unreleased material carefully curated by the band, now comprises Trial Cuts.

The listener doesn't need to dive too deeply into this collection to discover that Action Painting! wasn't a prototypical Sarah Records band.  Yes, they jangled, strummed and crafted hooks.  But their sound also could be loud, fuzzy and aggressive.  Just compare "These Things Happen", below, with the following "Collapsing Cloud" and the demo for "Sailor Beware".  This was, indeed, a versatile band that could produce sighs from the twee crowd but stand shoulder to shoulder with The Wolfhounds and 14 Iced Bears.  So lend Trial Cuts your ears, and it will pleasure them from several directions.  And note that Action Painting! has reformed and is writing new material.  Let this compilation be your prologue to their next chapter.

Trial Cuts is available now in vinyl, CD and digital formats (See the Bandcamp link).

Bandcamp for Trial Cuts

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Chills - Snow Bound

Martin Phillipps, the mainstay of long-running guitar pop band The Chills, has few peers when it comes to decorating his musical compositions.  These are songs adorned with sharp hooks, incisive and concise lyrics, and inviting choruses.  Imagine the most beautiful Christmas tree you have ever seen -- bright, shiny and promising continuing joy -- Martin's songs are like that.  The latest set of gems arrived late last week in the form of Snow Bound, and it reveals Martin and his bandmates to be at the top of their game.  The themes reflect the age and life experiences of the songwriter, as well as current events, and as always, observations, whether sentimental, hopeful or trenchant, are wrapped in solid melodies.  Phillipps seems comfortable in his own skin, but not so comfortable that he can't take hard looks at politics ("In Harmony") and love ("Time to Atone").  "Scarred" and "Complex" demonstrate that this band can rock out like champs when the material demands, but songs like "Deep Belief" and "In Harmony" show their mastery on the more nuanced side of the coin.  We highly recommend this album for fans of The Chills, guitar pop, or just good music.

Our favorite songs at this point: "Bad Sugar", "The Greatest Guide", "Scarred", "Deep Belief", and "Snow Bound".

Snow Bound is out now in vinyl, digital and CD formats via Fire Records.

Bandcamp for Snow Bound
Fire Records page for Snow Bound

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Sing to Me Candy" and "Laughing Man" by Papercuts

On October 19 Papercuts will be releasing a new album titled Parallel Universe Blues via Slumberland Records.  While you have to wait a month to get your hands on it, we can give you two songs to whet your appetite.  Papercuts is Californian Jason Quever and whomever he add to the mix for a specific recording.  Expect melody melody, hooks, jangle, and a bit of 'Galaxie 500 plays Jesus and Mary Chain'.  Oh, and expect it to be good.

Bandcamp for Parallel Universe Blues
Slumberland Records page for Parallel Universe Blues

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Pharmacy Girl" by Drew Beskin

Late last month we shared two songs from the upcoming album by Athens singer-songwriter Drew Beskin (link).  Today, we bring you a third track, the stunning "Pharmacy Girl".  Featuring retro chord progressions and an inspired dose of sleigh bells (yes, sleigh bells), it should provide the third leg of your conclusion that this will be one of our favorite albums this year.

Nostalgia Porn will be out October 19 via Laser Brains Records.

Facebook for Laser Brains Record

"Bubble Sword" by Hairband

It has been our impression for quite a while that the musical talent in Glasgow in inexhaustible, but just in case our conviction on the subject wavered, we have yet another data point in support.  Here, for your listening pleasure, is "Bubble Sword" by Hairband.  A five-piece consisting of Rowan Wright, Sephi Lock, Emma Smith, Rachel Taylor, and Simone Wilson, the project brings together five songwriters with experience in other top bands such as Spinning Coin, Breakfast Muff, Lush Purr, and Kaputt.  They features three guitars, as well as bass and drums, producing a sound that is full and confident, but loose-jointed and carefree.  We think this group will go as far as they want to.

Hairband's self-titled debut will be out October 19 via Monorail Music.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Hannah Barberas - Go Go Hannah Barberas

This week the lovely quartet known as The Hannah Barberas are releasing their new three track record Go Go Hannah Barberas.  If you act now, you may be able to get it free, which is something even our readers can afford.  The record is the second from the band since the middle of the summer, and showcases their ability to create infectious tunes.

The Hannah Barberas are Damien, Lucy, Doug and Matthew.

Bandcamp for Go Go Hannah Barberas

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Sunbathers - A Weekend Away With ...

Paul and Julie live in the English midlands, not particularly close to the sea.  But from the name of their band to the themes, sun-kissed vibes, and field sounds (or beach sounds?) in their songs, they seem to be living in a hut at the edge of the dunes.  So we present to you, The Sunbathers, duo who will help you hold on to a bit more of summer as the leaves start to turn.  The band previously released shorter recordings with Dufflecoat and Cloudberry, but we now have their new full length album, A Weekend Away With ... .  Characterized by gentle acoustic strumming, soothing melodies and Julie's sweet voice, and boasting a generous 15 tracks, it is the perfect accompaniment for your weekend--this weekend or any other for that matter. 

A Weekend Away With ... is out now in digital and CD formats with Jigsaw Records.  See the Bandcamp link at the bottom of this post.

Bandcamp for album

"Seems" by Johnny Kills

Well, dammit, someone needs to save Friday and it might as well be Johnny Kills.  The trio is one of our favorite current purveyors of exuberant garage rock.  Their contribution to Friday's salvation is via "Seems", the new single for Killing Moon Records.  Addressing the conflict presented when you receive good and bad news simultaneously (like us being happy its Friday at the same time we review the things we need to accomplish before we leave the office today), it is sure to supercharge your day.

"Seems" is available at all the usual digital outlets.  And say thank you to Tim Lloyd-Kinnings, Cameron Gipp, and Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings, aka Johnny Kills.

And because it is Friday, you may need the band's previous 2018 single, "Who's Counting?" --


Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Goon Sax - We're Not Talking

Now at the end of their teens, Louis Forster (vocals/guitar/bass/keys), James Harrison (guitar/bass/keys/vocals), and Riley Jones (vocals/percussion) have label deals in Australia and the UK, a second LP dropping this week, and another international tour.  If that seems like a bumper crop of good fortune for the Australian trio known as The Goon Sax, we would like to opine that they have earned every bit of it via their own talent and hard work.  Their first album displayed an innate feel for DIY guitar pop, but also revealed their talent for sharing the reality of the teenage moment with an awkward charm.  A few years later, their renditions of life have broadened to reflect additional experiences and more nuanced perspectives, while still retaining a touch of vulnerability and wonder.

In addition to broadened emotional range, the growth of The Goon Sax can be attributed to the fact that all three members have emerged as songwriters and vocalists, adding both depth of perspective and variety in delivery.  And, coupled with upbeat arrangements, their mix of bittersweet reflection, clear-eyed evaluation, warmth, self-depreciation, and sincerity make this band so special.  They manage to seem both older than their chronological ages and younger than their current and incipient reputations would suggest, but none of that is an act.  They are real, direct, and emerging as a very fine indie pop band.

In addition to the three members of The Goon Sax, players on the album were Lizzie Welsh (violin), Biddy Connor (viola), and Madison Foley (trumpet).  We're Not Talking is out September 14 in digital, CD and vinyl formats via Chapter Music in Australia and New Zealand and Wichita Recordings in the rest of the world.

Bandcamp for album
Chapter Music page for album
Wichita Recordings page for album

"In Her Kingdom" and "Poison" by David Nance Group

We began the day with a need to be moved by a piece of music, and found our inspiration in the epic seven plus minutes of "In Her Kingdom" by David Nance Group.  Taken from the upcoming Peaced and Slightly Pulverized LP, out October 5 via Trouble In Mind Records, the song is a slow-building exploration of self-delusion.

And here is the earlier-released album opener, "Poison" --

David Nance Band
Bandcamp for Peaced and Slightly Pulverized
Trouble In Mind Records

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"Helios Heliadae" by Tears Run Rings

"Helios Heliadae" is our first glimpse of the October 19 Somewhere EP by Tears Run Rings, a  multi-city band accomplishes much of their craftsmanship long-distance. The EP is the band's first recording since 2016's In Surges LP and will consist of four songs.  The release will be available in vinyl and digital formats via Deep Space Recordings and Shelflife Records.

Deep Space Recordings
Shelflife Records

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Stay Inside (a compilation from Osborne Again)

We are here to make your life better, and in fulfilling our mission, today we will have a special digital 'unboxing' of Stay Inside.  Of course, since the object of our attention is an indie pop album, and we only have it in digital form, there is no box to open.  That actually doesn't disappoint us because a real internet unboxing requires video, and we probably could handle that technological challenge.  So our unboxing of Stay Inside will be words and music streams only.  The cynics may observe that this approach is identical to our usual features.  They would be correct.

Stay Inside offers you 15 pop gems you probably have never heard, and many by artists with which you may be unfamiliar, as compiled by the astute tastemakers as Osborne Again.  Sure, readers here know of The Ocean Party, Cool Sounds, Emma Russack and Lachlan Denton.  But No Local, Skivvy, Tinks and many others may become new additions to your favorites list.  A few of these songs, such as "Cactus Country" by Cool Sounds and "Drinking" by Lachlan Denton have featured on these pages recently, so we won't stream them here again.  But you don't lose, because that means we can expose you to additional musical treats.  And if you didn't pick up those songs earlier, you can erase your shame by getting them with this compilation.  Who says life doesn't give you second chances?

The album is available now as a digital download.  See the Bandcamp link.

Emma Russack and Lachlan Denton:

By Studio Magic:

By Skivvy:

By Cotton:

Bandcamp for album

Woolen Men - Post

Tuesday was starting a bit slow for us, and we desperately needed a helping hand.  Our friends down the road in Portland, a trio known as Woolen Men, came to the rescue with Post -- nine tracks of well-crafted punk, taut post punk, and guitar pop that have given us the energy to do our jobs.  If that seems to be a broad canvass, be assured that this is a band that can fully cover the spectrum.  The rhythms section is sprightly and steady, and the band fully fleshes out every song as if it were the lead single.  This is the band's fifth album, and in our opinion it is their most accessible and satisfying yet.  So our thanks to Woolen Men for rescuing our Tuesday morning.

Woolen Men are Raf Spielman (drums), Alex Geddes (bass), and Lawton Browning (guitar).  Post is out now in digital and vinyl formats via Dogs Table (see the Bandcamp link below).

Bandcamp for Post

Monday, September 10, 2018

"This Heat" by Gregor

Melbourne pop romantic Gregor has shared another single from his upcoming album, Silver Drop.  "This Heat" has a funky, rhythmic groove and is a good soundtrack for the start of the week.  Like all musical things Gregor, the single is available via Chapter Music.

Silver Drop will be released October 6.

Bandcamp to order single "This Heat"
Bandcamp to pre-order Silver Drop
Chapter Music page for Silver Drop

"How Come You Think Everyone Likes You?" by the Catherines

We just realized that we missed alerting you to the August release from Hamburg, Germany's fuzz pop studio project The Catherines.  Support Heiko and Sandra, and they will keep thrilling us.  Sounds like a good deal to us.

Bandcamp for single

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Molochs - Flowers In The Spring

The easy part about featuring Flowers In The Spring, the new sophomore album by The Molochs, is the bottom line: Top quality guitar pop.  The harder part is describing why that is so.  The influences that revealed themselves to our ears include '60s British Invasion and California guitar pop, Britpop, and '80s New Zealand pop.  But that description alone doesn't do justice to the adept alchemy of Lucas Fitzsimmons and Ryan Foster.  All of the influences flow together in a seamless, truly inspired mix of jangle and chime, sturdy rhythms and flowing melodies.  Everything piece of the puzzle fits perfectly, and then is washed in California sunshine to contrast the often less than happy lyrics.  The band's arrangements celebrates simplicity, which only embellishes the things they do so well.  This is an impressive album that delivers both an immediate rush and long-lasting satisfaction, and it likely will be included in our end-of-the-year list.

Flowers In The Spring is out today in digital, vinyl, CD and cassette formats via Los Angeles label Innovative Leisure.

Bandcamp for Flowers In The Spring
The Molochs page at Innovative Leisure

Thursday, September 6, 2018

School Damage - A To X

A To X is one of the more refreshing albums we have had the pleasure of listening to in a while.  In a world of carefully processed music, creators School Damage are unafraid to show a few ragged edges, a few less coats of paint, and fewer nods to the conventions of construction.  The result is indie pop that is immediate, visceral, and oh so very charming.  For a variety of reasons, sophomore albums rarely better the band's debuts. but we are comfortable in asserting that it has happened in this case.  School Damage has kept what made them special, and sharpened up what could be sharpened without losing the plot.  For those of us who like the scrappy side of indie pop, this release is like getting springtime at the end of (our Northern Hemisphere) summer.

School Damage are Jake Robertson, Carolyn Hawkins, Dani Damage, and Jeff Raty.  A To X is out now via Chapter Music.

Bandcamp for A To X
Chapter Music

Saturday Night - Saturday Night

Our intentions were good.  We had a new album to bring you by Washington, D.C. crew Saturday Night.  The album was titled Saturday Night, and we had it all planned to post about it last Saturday night.  So, you probably are wondering why, with everything aligned so neatly, there was no feature about this album on Saturday night.  What could have intervened to thwart the performance of our duties?  The answer, quite simply, is, well, our own Saturday night.  We won't go into detail so as to protect identities, jobs, and relationships, and because some of us are aware that the statute of limitations hasn't expired on anything yet.  So suffice it to saw that we were good and truly thwarted.  And from what we remember, it was glorious.

With that out of the way, on to Saturday Night.  Whether you knew it or not, this is the power pop and swaggering, crunchy indie pop you have been waiting for -- a band that doesn't make you choose among stomping rhythms, slashing riffs, happy hooks, and male/female vocals.  You get it all in ten tracks of joyful, energetic music.  And these guys understand that concision is the best delivery for a good hook, as only one song breaks the three minute mark and six of them don't even hit two minutes.  Our instincts are that this is a cracking good live band, but as their "national" tour ignores those of us on the lefty coast, we can't personally verify that until we make our long-delayed trip to D.C. to check out the band in their natural habitat.  However, we think you will find the digital version of the band to be an excellent version for now.  Welcome to your Saturday Night!

The members of the band are Luke Reddick, Nora Button, Cash Langdon, and Jesse Sattler.  Saturday Night is out now via Gentle Reminder Records.

Gentle Reminder Records

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Frøkedal - How We Made It

After stints in Harry's Gym and I Was A King, Norwegian musician Anne Lise Frøkedal commenced her solo project under her surname in 2015.  Following her debut EP and album, she now has created the delightful How We Made It.  The album is a sparkling showcase for skillfully constructed songs, insightful and wide-ranging lyricism, and confident performances.  Frokedal's arrangements range from fold to indie pop, and she and her collaborators season the proceedings with less usual instruments.  As the young woman explores her world, we are treated to an exploration of her art.  We assure you that the twin journey is well worth your time.

How We Made It is out now via Propeller Recordings.

Bandcamp for How We Made It
Propeller Recordings