We aren't habitually demanding. But we believe that we, and our readers, deserve at least one new album for each weekend that will make them happy. Is that too much to ask for? We don't think so. And fortunately for us (not to mention salvaging the theme of this feature), Glasgow-based Sacred Paws agrees with us. Run Around The Sun, their second LP, arrived today, and it is an adorable package of intertwined vocals, clever melodies, solid rhythms by Eilidh Rodgers, and really, really superb highlife-influenced guitar by Rachel Aggs. Relentlessly upbeat, fast-paced, and even employing horns and keys on several tracks, these songs banish every negative thought that has invaded our consciousness. This is music in bright colors and bold textures, but delivered with a light, nuanced touch. Rachel and Eilidh both are or have been members of other bands that we have covered (e.g. Shopping and Golden Girrrls), but in our view this collaboration clicks like few bands we have covered. The songwriting is top shelf, the performance chemistry is polished, and the energy and conviction in the songs is palpable. The result is in the music, and this will be one of our favorite albums of this year.
Run Around The Sun is out now via Merge Records in North America and Rock Action Records in the UK/Europe.
As you would expect, the guy who writes a music blog frequently adds and deletes albums from the playlists on his computer and phone. But there are several albums that are always available to me at home and elsewhere Two of them are HallelujahAll the Way Home and Juvenillia, two mid-'80s records by New Zealand band The Verlaines, and a third is the Dunedin Double compilation which included a few songs by that band. It was vital music for me then, and it still speaks to me. But I also am aware that The Verlaines frontman Graeme Downes, who is a professor in the School of Performing Arts at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, has kept the project alive all the intervening years, and recently released the band's tenth LP, Dunedin Spleen. And in case anyone was wondering, the album proves that the band is no nostalgia act. The Verlaines of 2019 remain as vital and focused as ever. As a songwriter and performer Dowes has a broad range, encompassing acerbic social/political commentary as well as softer musings, expressed in poetic lyrics. The arrangements are varied and textured with melody always a primary consideration. And with 19 tracks of well-crafted songs, it is a generous record as well. The Verlaines aren't definably punk rock, indie rock or art rock, but Dunedin Spleen embodies the spirit of all three in the best way possible.
For Dunedin SpleenThe Verlaines are Graeme Downes,Stephen Small, Darren Stedman, Rob Burns,andTom Healy.Libby HamiltonandShayne Carterprovided some background vocals. The album is out now as a digital release -- see the Bandcamp link below.
Sauropoda boast deep grooves, multi-layered atmospherics, and an appealing playfulness. It most likely sounds like nothing else you are listening to, but we strongly urge you to regard its distinctive nature as a feature, not a bug. The music audaciously melds funk, dance grooves and chillwave electronica into a late-night summer soundtrack. Cue it up, wiggle your hips, move your feet, and let that smile show itself to your world. This little delight -- five tracks in under 38 minutes -- is the creation of Geneva, Switzerland's L'Eclair. Frankly, we knew nothing about this band until a few days ago, but they now are on the list elegantly titled "listen to anything they send us from these guys". And since the Sauropoda was largely recorded live with few overdubs, you can treat it as your own private concert from the band.
L'Eclair are Sebastien Bui, Elie Ghersinu, Stefan Lilov, Yavor Lilov, Quentin Pilet, Alain Sandri, and DJ Laxxiste. Sauropoda is out now via Bongo Joe Records.
One of those labels that we think everyone should pay attention to even though many don't is Errant Media. The Edinburgh label's roster includes Errant Boy, Shards, and Stephen McLaren. And now one of the founders is recording and performing as Locked Hands. Here is his fine new song, "Drop", which is available as a free download.
Sweden's Death and Vanilla are masters of lush, baroque, psychedelic electro pop. They artfully craft music that manages to simultaneously be peaceful and melancholy while still sparkling. And then there is that other quality from time to time -- the sense that you are listening to the music on a film soundtrack that lulls the viewer into a sense that all is well just before something frightening and dreadful happens. Of course, the frightening and dreadful never comes on a Death and Vanilla album, but the sense that it could just adds depth to the listening experience.
The trio's new album, and their third overall, is Are You A Dreamer?, the star of the recording is the atmosphere. Constructed of synths, guitar, bass and soft vocals, all meshed together seamlessly, this is music that envelopes the listener. The pace is unhurried, and the songs build and develop, at times in unexpected ways. This is an album full of delights that will reward any listener.
Death and Vanilla are Marleen Nilsson, Magnus Bodin and Andres Hansson, with Mans Wikenmo on drums. Are You a Dreamer? is out now in all formats via Fire Records.
No gimmicks, no gloss, just pure, direct rock and roll. That is Is This Real, and it is wonderful. We just finished a fine three-day holiday weekend with good weather, outdoor entertaining, floating on the lake in the WYMA yacht (all 21 feet of it), and our soundtrack was this album. The creation of Wollongong, Australian five-piece The Pinheads, it is the sort of album that would have made reputations and filled stadiums in the '70s. The music consumption world has changed, so that likely won't happen for these lads, but the quality and energy should earn them your ears nonetheless.
This music has grunge, grit and riffage, to be sure, and the pace is fast nearly throughout. But the band has something to say and varies the dynamics as needed to deliver a lyrical or melodic point. Listeners will take from the music what they will, but this album that reminds us of our youth, and these days that is a valued result indeed.
Brad Coley and Peter Westmoreland are surfing friends. More precisely they are Surf Friends, an New Zealand duo that updates the California surf sound with some sampling and programming to go along with the guitar. They are helping us welcome summer with their new single "Outdoors". And this is a good time to tell you that the single is taken from their upcoming album, Doing Your Thing, which will be released via Flying Nun Records. Enjoy the video for "Outdoors" below.
Ole Gunnar Gundersen's musical reputation was originally attributable to his role as frontman for the band Lorraine. Now working as a solo artist under the name Subshine, he will release his debut album, Easy Window, next month. Inspired by the Norwegian landscape and crafted with vintage synthesizers, it promises to be inspiring music. But you don't have to wait another couple of weeks to get a hint, because a lyric video for album track "Easy" is available right here, right now. Enjoy!
Easy Window will be released on June 7 via Apollon Records.
We had a publication schedule for the weekend, and The Skeleton Crew wasn't on it. But we gave the album a spin last night after discovering it in our Thursday mail. One listen and our schedule was rearranged to give some time for this charming release. The album is a new solo effort by Gísli Kjaran Kristjánsson, who records under the simple Gisli. Gisli's career has taken him from Iceland to Norway, Los Angeles and London, and now back to Iceland, and has included performing with a band, producing and writing for other artists, collaboration with Norway's William Hut, and solo work -- although his last solo album was 15 years ago.
The Skeleton Crew consists of eight tracks, divided between rousing rockers like "Tidal Wave", "Your Personal Hell", and "Out Of Control", and Americana-shaded "Sweet Surrender" and "Mechanical Birds On The Wire". Each song seems perfectly formed and reflects the artist's complete comfort in expressing himself musically in any style. The lyrics are high in the mix and are worth your attention. We loved the album at first listen, but we like it even better with each repeated play (and I think we are up to five this morning already).
By the way, the title reflects Gisli's decision to handle nearly all instruments, programming and vocals himself, with a bit of violin and backing vocals from partner Eliza Newman and some spontaneous percussion by their five year old daughter Salka.
This gem of an album is out today, look for it at your preferred digital outlet.
Here is some wonderfully dirty electro rock from Lemonade Kid. The base track is "Rock Paper Scissors", but the record includes three diverse remixes. It is late at night and I can't stop playing it. I'm going to be a bit tired at my desk in the morning.
Lemonade Kid is Dominic Lack. For "Rock Paper Scissors" he was assisted by Jarrod Jones on bass and guitar.
One of our favorite albums of the spring has been The End Again by No Local. The album was created by two members of The Ocean Party, Liam Halliwell (aka Snowy) and Zac Denton, with additional assistance on vocals from Emma Russack, Ashley Bundang, Lauren Huynh, Rea Caldwell, and Sophie Treloar, and some stellar saxophone from Tren Garner. Sadly, Zac, who also was a member of Ciggie Witch, Pregnancy, and Hobby Farm, passed away subsequent to the recording of the album.
The music is rhythmic, inventive, melodic, and just oddball enough to make the listener believe that they have stumbled on something personal and magical. Of course, in our view the listener would be correct. Opening track "The End" begins with a thick, rubbery bass line and then builds with vocals and horns to a shimmering, '80s-style anthem. In fact, the bass remains prominent throughout the song -- and for most of the album -- which is just another reason we love it. The shimmer remains as well, but the treats don't end there. We also have false endings, robot-love dialogue (no, we won't explain, just listen to the album), and lush synths and horns. "Nothing More To Give", which is the most "Ocean Party" of the songs on the album, probably would win a listeners' vote for the showcase song. But all ten tracks are prime examples of sharp songwriting and daring performances. That The End Again has not yet received the press it deserves saddens and surprises us, but you can do your part -- get it and tell a friend. Better yet, buy a copy for a friend. You don't want us to think that you don't have friends, do you?
The End Again is out now via Osborne Again Music, with Arizona's Emotional Response Records handling North American Distribution. You can get the album in digital format. Osborne Again Music has sold their vinyl stock, but Emotional Response may still have some copies.
Are you going to have a big day today? Perhaps we can help. Slow Pulp, a Wisconsin band now residing in Chicago, recently released their Big Day EP, and we think that is just the soundtrack for all of us to have a big day. Melding elements of shoegaze and melodic alt rock, they deliver a full but breezy sound that is undemanding but highly enjoyable. Check a couple of our favorite tracks below or stream the entire EP at the Soundcloud link or your favorite digital source.
Slow Pulp are Teddy Mathews (drums), Emily Massey (guitar/vocals), Henry Stoehr (guitar) and Alex Leeds (bass). Big Day EP is out now as a digital release.
UK collective hd hausmann releases new music way too infrequently, but when they do we pay attention. The latest song is "Recognise Faces", which follows the late 2018 single "Four Poets", both of which display hd hausmann's ability to deliver dynamic but peaceful music. The songs can be streamed below and are available as digital releases, and we highly recommend them.
Best of Luck Club is the sophomore album from young Australian indie rock talent Alex Lahey. Recorded in Nashville, where a sign on the exit door of a dive bar gave the album its title, it finds the artist refining her hook-filled indie rock and growing in confidence as a songwriter and performer. Autobiographical in focus, the album wears it heart on its sleeve, addressing the travails of being in one's '20s. So we get tales of love, break-ups, and burn-out, but Lahey saves room for humor as well. The result is an album that we will have on our player for months, and then look forward to the third album from Alex Lahey.
The name Broken Chanter may be a new one for our readers, but the man behind the name, David MacGregor, has appeared here several times as the primary songwriter and vocalist for Kid Canaveral. David has add this solo project to his repertoire, and we get our first listen via his debut single "Wholesale". Of course the song boasts MacGregor's distinctive vocals, but the arrangement is imbued with darker tones than generally found in Kid Canaveral's snappy, jangly guitar pop. And for further enjoyment, we have a dark little video story to accompany the track.
Broken Chanter is releasing "Wholesale" as a digital release and limited 7" on May 24 via labels Olive Grove Records and Last Night From Glasgow. The debut solo album will be available this fall.
Although nothing we see outside our window supports the notion that summer will be here soon, we our unwavering in our belief that it will come. And our hopes are bolstered by the dreamy, summery new song "Nihilist Kite Flyer". The creation of Victoria, British Columbia's Loving, the song demands nothing of the listener, but delivers a full dose of good vibes. This is about the best medicine to chill your life that you are going to find today.
Loving are David Parry, Lucas Henderson, and Jesse Henderson. They are signed to Last Gang Records.
Gothic disco? Noir dance pop? We are struggling a bit to categorize Walt Disco, but we suspect that Walt Disney wouldn't have like them. And we feel pretty good about that. But we feel even better about "Strange To Know Nothing", the Glasgow band's new single. Glammy, groovy, with crooning lead vocals and an anthemic chorus, it strikes us as fresh and exciting, while still reminding us of some of our favorite '80s acts.
The single is out via IHEARTCOMIX's 1NFINITY label.
On their debut LP, Forbidden Items, Sweden's Cat Princess crafts a set of 11 impressive songs craft in equal parts of glam, art pop, and indie pop/rock (think Orange Juice, Talking Heads, David Bowie and Franz Ferdinand). This is music that is smart, danceable, and performed with skill and confidence. We suspect that this band delivers an incredible live show, but listening to them is pretty special as well.
Cat Princess are Nils Krang, Robin Aberg, Robert Lanneborn, Isabelle Friberg, and Victor Klint. Forbidden Items is out today via Stockholm's Rama Lama Records.
Chris Staples is one of the Pacific Northwest's cherished musical secrets. We feel a bit bad about that (the secret part, not the cherishing part), so we here at WYMA have resolved to introduce you via his June album Holy Moly. However, our editorial standards preclude talking about a June 28 release on May 17, so we will settle for a pre-introduction via the video for the title track. A solid rocker with a danceable groove, we endorse "Holy Moly" for beginning your Friday with a wiggle in you hips.
We never get enough of The Perfect English Weather. No, not "that" perfect English weather with the rain and fog - we have enough of that is Seattle. We mean the project of Wendy and Simon Pickles, who have chosen that name for their musical creations separate from their larger, long-running guitar pop band The Popguns. Astute readers (we always assume that some of you qualify), may ask why, when last fall the duo released an album titled Don't You Want To Feel The Rain (link to our feature), they are now following six months later with Call Me When The Rain Comes EP. The answer is that there were three songs that weren't quite 'baked' sufficiently for inclusion on the Fall 2018 album (and the album already had 13 tracks). However, Wendy and Simon deemed the three songs to be ready for our ears, and have released them with a new mix of the title track from the aforementioned album. To our ears, The Perfect English Weather have gotten it exactly right on this EP. The lead track pops with new drumming from Spiritualized's Jonny Aitken and the three new tracks are terrific. Of the four songs, we are particularly taken with the delicate beauty of "She Isn't Counting On A Miracle", and the more robust pop delights of the emotional "How Could I Ever?". Truly worth your time.
Call Me When The Rain Comes EP is out this weekend in digital and CD formats via Matinee Recordings.
We start our music day with our ears turned to Norway -- all the better to hear "The Enemy" by Carl Louis. Carl has made a name for himself in the production/electronic/DJ genre as one half of CLMD, but has launched his solo project under his own name. With two previous EPs out in the world, he is preparing to release his debut LP this summer, and this single gives us our first taste. We are advised to expect the synths to be supplemented with guitars, drums and Carl's own vocals to bridge between his past work and the Scandinavian indie pop of Miike Snow and The Radio Dept. We expect good things.
"The Enemy" is out now via Norwegian label Toothfairy, and should be available at your preferred digital source.
Our indie pop friends from Hamburg, Germany, -- The Catherines --have dropped another single. This time it consists of three songs. The first is a new composition, the second is a cover of "Jingle Jangle" by The Archies, and the third is a new version of their first single.
The Catherines are Heiko Schneider and Sandra Ost. The duo is prolific, so take the time to check out their other recent releases at the Bandcamp link.
We begin the week with "Regrets", a wonderful blues/folk track from Norwegian artist Jorgen Sandvik. Jorgen released a well-received album titled Permanent Vacation last year, winning the Norwegian recording industry's prize for best blues album. He previously recorded with award-winning folk/pop band Real Ones.
"Regrets" is available as a digital download via Lekrofon, check your preferred digital retailer.
We count ourselves among the fans of Australian singer songwriter Emma Russack. Admittedly, we have plenty of company in the fanclub, but this is one of those occasions where going along with the flow is indisputably the correct decision. Emma will be releasing Winter Blues, her new album, on July 5, and we expect a genuine treat. Of course, it isn't July anywhere yet, but here, for your listening pleasure, here is the title track, which is now available as a single. The song is an excellent example of the songwriting art -- concise, melodic and unfussy. And as to Emma's point that it is too easy to blame our failings on external influences such as seasonal blues, we have known people who do just that, although we certainly never would do so.
The album will be release via Osborne Again and Spunk Records in Australia and New Zealand, and Melodic Records in the UK.
One of the best, upbeat and straightforward rock and roll songs we've heard lately is "Do It Twice". We wouldn't have been surprised to find it on a long lost album by a criminally overlooked California band, but in fact it is the title track of a two song single by Australian band Monnone Alone. The other track is the lower key but delightful "The Sea and the City". In case you are wondering, the "Monnone" of Monnone Alone is Mark Monnone, of Aussie legends The Lucksmiths. Mark has been carving out a deservedly well-regarded solo career, of which this is an excellent example. The songcraft and performances are excellent and we commend it to any fan of guitar pop.
Sadly, we must report that Mark has engaged in false advertising. In addition to Mark providing vocals and guitar, Monnone Alone includes Gus Franklin (drums/backing vocals), Joe Foley (bass/backing vocals), and Louis Richter (12-string guitar). So, Monnone is not really alone after all.
Note that the links below allow you to obtain the single from the source local to you, with choices in the US, Australia, Spain, and Finland.
We decided at a very young age that weekends are made for R&B and soul, so we will suggest to you that your weekend will not be complete without 1634 Lexington Avenue. The creation of New York City's Carlton Jumel Smith, and named for his childhood address, the album is nothing less than a note-perfect celebration of classic R&B sounds, one of the most beloved and enduring genres of pop music. Working with backing band Cold Diamond & Mink, the house band and production crew at Timmion Records, the Helsinki soul label releasing this album, Smith transports us to neon-lit urban streets and romantic encounters. It is a world of swagger, promise and romance, accented with deep, satisfying grooves, horns, and backing vocals. Of course, the star is Smith, whose tone, phrasing and passion bring to mind favorable comparisons with past greats Al Green, James Brown, Otis Redding, and Curtis Mayfield. This album may have a permanent spot on the WYMA playlist.
1634 Lexington Avenue is out today in digital, vinyl and CD formats. And a backing band this good deserves specific mention: Seppo Salmi (band leader/guitar/organ) Sami Kantelinen (bass), Jukka Sarapaa (drums), Jukka Eskola (arranger/trumpet), Pope Puolitaival (baritone sax), Jimi Tenor (sax), Janne Auvinen (congas), and Tuomo Prattala (organ/piano/backing vocals).
One of our favorite new bands is Scandinavia's Sail By Summer, and not only because we are fans of sailing and summer. Earlier this year we brought you their shimmering "Facing Dullness". As we inch towards the August release of the project's debut album, we are presented with "Fetch You Roses", the band's new single. Melancholy but beautiful, and thoughtfully detailed, it is a highly recommended listen.
Sail By Summer are Norway's William Hut (vocals/guitar) and Denmark's Jens Kristian (keys)."Fetch You Roses" is out today as a digital release via Apollon Records.
One of the jangle pop delights of the early summer, and a candidate to be the jangle pop album of the entire season, will be Jeanines' self-titled debut. And while it is not yet time to discuss the delights that await all of us, it is the perfect time to bring you the Brooklyn band's new single from the album. "Winter In The Dark" is an intriguing burst of jangle and melancholy energy, pulling the listener into the shady swirl and then quickly releasing us again.
Jeanines are Alicia Jeanine (guitar/vocals) and Jed Smith (drums/bass). The album will be released via Slumberland Records.
Sophisticated, adventurous, and a bit weird, South Londoners ALASKALASKA have created a top class melange of art pop on their new album The Dots. With substantial grooves, jazz fusion, layers of textures, and a good dose of horns, the band gives the listener a 12-course musical feast. This album likely will not remind you of anything else on your playlist, and quiet frankly, a lot of what is on your playlist may seem a bit plain in comparison. Don't blame us, blame ALASKALASKA. Then thank them.
ALASKALASKA are Lucinda John-Duarte, Fraser Rieley, Calum Duncan, Fraser Smith, and Gethin Jones. The Dots is out now via Marathon Artists.
Focusing on vocals and melody, Liverpool's Trudy and the Romance stroll into our lives like a welcome fresh breeze. "That's Not Me" is the third single from debut album, Sandman, which will be released on May 24. Yes, it is a break up song, but it builds beautifully and soothes the soul none the less.
Some bands enter the room shyly, hoping for some positive notice. Sweden's Cat Princess in not one of those bands. Preferring to strut in with the brashness of, say, a '00s-era Franz Ferdinand and a love of the dance floor. Their debut album Forbidden Items comes next week, but today we celebrate "Rocko's Theme", the final single. It seems to us to be the perfect mix of art pop, glam, and gritty guitar pop, with a Memphis rhythm section.
Forbidden Items will be released via Rama Lama Records.
Corasandel makes atmospheric shoegaze, perfect for late nights under the stars. Named for Norwegian painter Cora Sandel, the band records outside, at night, with the wind as a power source. Their recent EP is All The Hours Are One, which also is the soundtrack for the award-winning theatrical production Maisie Says She Loves me.
All The Hours Are One is out now as a digital release. See the Bandcamp link or your other preferred digital outlet.
John Girgus and The Legendary House Cats are John Girgus (vocals/guitar/synths), Jim Rivas (drums/tambourine), and Chris McRitchie (bass). John was a founder of the late, beloved Aberdeen, but he now devotes his musical energy to TLHC. And that is fine with us, as we eagerly await each release from this project.
Their latest effort is a two song single titled Act Two. The title track is nearly four minutes of The Jesus and Mary Chain meets New Order meets Red Sleeping Beauty goodness, and the b-side continues the joy with an acoustic remix of "Act Two". Relaxing and uplifting, these songs will supercharge you every time you play them.
Act Two is out now as a digital download. See the Bandcamp link below.
If we were concerned about complete precision, we might obsess over whether Patience marks a musical rebirth of Roxanne Clifford, or an artistic evolution. But innate laziness and a lack of editorial standards, buttressed by a suspicion that the answer would only matter to people who are paid to write (which certainly does not include us), prompts us to ignore the point. However, we can't ignore Dizzy Spells, the debut album from Clifford's new project. In fact, we can't stop playing it.
Clifford first entered our consciousness about a decade ago via her former band Veronica Falls. Their music was taut, darkly-shaded guitar pop and was one of our favorite bands of that era. Since VF's demise Clifford has moved from the UK to Los Angeles, and matched the stark change in scenery and vibe with an equally dramatic change in music. The Roxanne Clifford of 2019 is a master of danceable synth-pop. Her skill with melody and hooks in the guitar pop realm has translated seamlessly to the new genre, and her songs reflect sophistication and polish. There is joy and tears, a fun bit of sass, as well. We know the market is flooded with synth-pop albums, but trust us -- this is one of the most satisfying, and you'll be happy to have it for a very long time. Perhaps even until the next Patience album.
Who knows what the future will bring for Clifford, whose life has taken her from Manchester to Glasgow to London to LA, and from guitar noir to bright synth pop. But the music world will have no complaints if she retains the Patience mantle for a while.
Our favorite songs include "White Of An Eye", "Voices In The Sand", and "Moral Damage". Dizzy Spells is out on May 5 via Night School Records in digital, vinyl and CD formats in the UK/Eur, and Clifford's on Winona Records in North America.