Friday, July 31, 2020

Cools Sounds - Sleepers EP

Sleepers is quite sneaky. It appears to be a modest six-track EP of easy listening, only asking for your ears and a bit of time. But by the time its final note it has captured your heart and soul and worked its way to the top of your current playlist. This gem war crafted by the soft rock masters of Melbourne's Cool Sounds. Fans of their past work will not be surprised by the silky melodies, appealing lyrics and sharp hooks, However, the combination of elements here strikes us as prime magic. The guitars are ace and the additional vocal contributions add an extra dash of lushness.  Although our current favorites are the opening and closing tracks, which we have embedded below, every song in the set is a clear winner. And by our calculus, that makes all of us with a copy of Sleepers a winner.

Cool Sounds are Dainis Lacey, Nick Kearton, Ambrin Hasnain, Lauren Huynth, Steve Foulkes, and Jack Nichols. Additional contributions were provided by Rose Kean, Anila Hasnain, Dylan Young,, Jo Syme, and Matt Murphy. Sleepers is out now via Hotel Motel Records.

Bandcamp for Sleepers EP
Hotel Motel Records

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

R.E. Seraphin Tiny Shapes LP // A Room Forever EP

Today we would like to introduce our readers to the talented Ray Serapnin, formerly the frontman for The Talkies. Having recently moved back to the Bay Area from Austin, Texas. Ray is experiencing a highly productive year, having released an LP titled Tiny Shapes at the end of March and A Room Forever EP in June. The records are 'solo' projects under the name R.E. Seraphin, although he calls on some of his old companions for able support.

And while we don't consider ourselves to me a marketing affiliate for the artists we feature, we can't help pointing out that each of Ray's 2020 records is available as a digital download for $3 via San Francisco's Paisley Shirt Records. Tiny Shapes also is available on cassette.


Tiny Shapes is a power pop gem, with plenty of chiming, ringing and jangling guitars. There is a bit of Martin Phillipps in his songcraft (in fact, we were reminded of Ray's album while listening to the reissue of The Chills' Soft Bomb and Submarine Bells albums), but there is a bit of The Feelies, The Clean and a lot, a delicious lot, of Television Personalities. It strikes our ears as a terrific summer album, so grab it while you still have some summer left.

The players on Tiny Shapes are R.E. Seraphin (vocals/electric guitars), Owen Kelley (bass/acoustic and electric guitars/keys), Yea-Ming Chen (vocals), and Phil Lantz (drums). Additional contributions were made by Jasper Leach and Matt Bullimore,

Bandcamp for Tiny Shapes
Bandcamp for Paisley Shirt Records


A Room Forever is a different animal than its preceding longer sibling. The sharp songwriting remains, but the soundscape is less power pop/pop rock and more a blend of jangle and dream pop. Strong Television Personalities kinship, and more generally, '80s British and American guitar pop, is a mainstay on this record, and it has never sounded so fresh. We won't beat around the bush: This is one of our favorite EPs of the year.

The players on A Room Forever are R.E. Seraphin (vocals/guitar/bass), Owen Adair Kelley (guitar/bass/synth/arrangements/vocals), Matt Bullimore (guitar/vocals), and Yea-Ming Chen (vocals).

Bandcamp for A Room Forever

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Even As We Speak - Adelphi

Australian band Even As We Speak attracted a well-deserved following in the '80s, including Mr. John Peel, and even found an apt platform in Sarah Records for their debut LP, Feral Pop Frenzy. They dissolved in the early '90s, looking destined to be one of those wonderful '80s fuzzy pop bands that burned bright and then left fans forever hunting for rare physical artifacts of their art. But Even As We Speak is the rare band that can not only mount a resurrection, but a resurrection that encompasses a broader sound and more nuanced and (understandably) experienced perspective. So after a reunion and the Black Forest EP in 2016, the five-piece has created Adelphi, the band's second LP.

The album, quite simply, is musical magic. Everything the band did well before, they still do as well or better, so the melodies are delectable and perfectly illustrated by the players. But they also deepen and expand the aural landscape with synths, and the emotional landscape with an appreciation of the loves, losses, and day to day challenges of life heading into middle age (nice to know we aren't alone, isn't it?). And Mary Wyer's vocals continue to be a treasure of the indie pop world. We couldn't pick our three favorite songs on the album if we tried, so we didn't try. Instead we picked three songs that illustrate some of the many facets of the songcraft on Adelphi. If you buy any music this year -- and of course you will -- this album should be on your list.

Even As We Speak are Matthew Love, Mary Wyer, Julian Knowles, Rob Irwin, and Anita Rayner. Adelphi is out now in vinyl, CD, and digital formats via Shelflife Records (US) and Discos de Kirlian (Spain).

Bandcamp for album

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Introduction - Introduction

Introduction is the name of the band, the name of the record, and the name of the first track. Introduction are Harriet Fraser-Barbour, Elena Nees, and Lauren Abineri, whose individual credits include Wireheads, Rex Wonderful & The Silk Sheets, and Waterbear. Introduction is the band's six track debut EP. And "Introduction" is a rhythmic, minimalist post-punk wonder. In fact, the minimalist approach with a prominent bassline and a thunderous drum characterize the entire album, with variations to encompass dream pop (the showcase "Red Light"), synth pop ("Rollercoaster") and droning electropop. But while there is a similar approach to all six songs, the record never seems stale or repetitive. It is an enthralling, intriguing and impressive debut that leaves us craving for more.

Introduction is out now in digital and cassette formats via Tenth Court Records.

Bandcamp for Introduction
Tenth Court's Bandcamp page

"You're Lookin' At My Guy" / "Could You Be the One" by The Radio Dept.

The Radio Dept., our favorite Swedish dream pop band, has delivered a mid summer delight with the two-track single "You're Lookin' at My Guy" / "Could You Be the One". Johan Duncanson and Martin Carlberg always seem to get both the big things and small things just right. The hooks and melodies spark up the music pleasure spots in the brain with immediate effect. But the emotions, the nuanced uncertainties and regrets, elevate their songs to another level. Treat your ears below -- you may not find a better dream pop single this year.

Various links for single

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Oneness of Juju - African Rhythms 1970​-​1982

We aren't given to grand statements. After all, our mission is to alert you to music that we like. But we are going to step out of our lane a bit and tell you that African Rhythms 1970-1982 is an essential album. The band is Oneness of Juju, led by James "Plunky" Branch, which fused funk, jazz and African rhythms into an irresistible stew of sound. This album, which was originally released in 2001, collects the band's output for a 12-year period in San Francisco, New York, and Richmond, Virginia. This collection of music would be welcome any time, but its re-release is especially appropriate for the current focus on the status and travails of our Black fellow citizens. Check it out below, and explore further at the Bandcamp link.

African Rhythms 1970-1982 is available in digital, double CD, and triple LP formats via Strut Records.

Bandcamp for album
Plunky's Facebook

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Wolfhounds - Electric Music

Can't See The Light rumbles. And it snarls. And it bays at the moon at the state of modern Britain. Frankly, we couldn't be happier about it and wouldn't change a thing. Always a somewhat uneasy fit with the C86 tape which helped build their reputation, the Wolfhounds had a rougher edge and a noisier, more rocking approach to their art. This LP, their first of the new decade, proves that not only are they still noisy (no forays into country, folk or easy listening for this lot), but they still are politically and socially aware and have the edge and the brass to express themselves honestly. A cathartic and rousing call to action for our times, cue it up and see if you Can't See The Light.

Wolfhounds are David Callahan (vocals/guitar/samples), Andy Golding (vocals/guitar/banjolele/Bulbul tarang/keys), Richard Golding (bass), and Pete Wilkins (drums). Can't See The Light is out now via A Turntable Friend Records.

Bandcamp for Electric Music
A Turntable Friend Records' Bandcamp page

Friday, July 17, 2020

"This Side of Luv" by Keys

Well, well well, this is a glorious opener to the final work from home day of the week. The song is "This Side of Luv", the new single by Welsh band Keys. A soaring melody painted in bright tones with a full and sparkling arrangement, it has put a likely day-long smile on our faces. Irrepressible, irresistible retro charm to the max. We could wake up to it every morning -- perhaps we will wake up to it every morning.

"This Side of Luv" is out now via Libertino Records.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Beths - Jump Rope Gazers

Jump Rope Gazers is a different animal from The Beths' debut Future Me Hates Me. Where the 2018 LP was all energy and melody, this album is more subdued. The band's unerring ear for melody remains, but is packaged in reflective thoughts of yearning, physical and emotional distance, and coming to grips with their growing stature in the indie music world. True, the writing has always been self-conscious -- charmingly so, in our opinion -- but that attribute is more to the fore in this outing. That said, this band can fuse an apt hook in any song of any tempo, and their arrangements reflect an appreciation for the perfectly stacked hits of 60s-70s American soul music. There is no doubt that Jump Rope Gazers is another triumph for this band, and will be marked as one of our cherished albums of this summer.

The Beths are Elizabeth Stokes (vocals/guitar), Jonathan Pearce (guitar/vocals), Benjamin Sinclair (bass/vocals), Tristan Deck (drums/vocals). Jump Rope Gazers in digital, vinyl and CD format via Carpark Records.

Bandcamp for album

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Opium Cartel - Valor

The Opium Cartel is the project Norway's Jacob Holm-Lupo uses for his synth pop creations. Their latest LP, the nine-track Valor, is a delightful collage of melodic, electronic delights, and appealing guest vocalists and musicians. The collaborative nature of the album, in addition to Holm-Lupo's own creativity, results in an album that is varied and consistently exciting. While good any time of day, we find it particularly invigorating in our summer mornings.

For this album Holm-Lupo called upon Silje Huleboer, Ole Ovstedal, Bjorn Riis, Lars Fredrik Froislie, Jacob's 13-year old daughter, Ina A, Leah Marcu, Maria Grigoryeva, Ilia Skibinsky, and Alexander Stenerud. Valor is out now in vinyl, digital, and CD formats via Apollon Records

Bandcamp for Valor
Apollon Records

Monday, July 13, 2020

Peel Dream Magazine - Moral Panics EP

Joe Stevens (aka Peel Dream Magazine) dropped a new album earlier this year (our feature here),  so we didn't expect to hear more from him this soon. But apparently the muse that guides him to push the edge of dreampop with his static and drone-draped melodic creations is on its own schedule. The result is the surprise arrival of the six-track Moral Panics EP. The record consists of five new songs and a demo. The EP is a welcome addition to our growing collection of Peel Dream Magazine recordings and has enriched our summer lock-down days. We suggest it will do the same for you.

Bandcamp for Moral Panics EP

Monday, July 6, 2020

Sea Pinks - Crocuses EP

We can be sad about Belfast's Neil Brogan calling time on his Sea Pinks project. OK, who are we kidding  -- we are sad. But life is full of starts, stops, and changes in direction. So we sill focus on the positives. First, consider that Sea Pinks released ten albums and three EPs of top quality guitar pop. Second, Neil has left a goodbye present in the form of the Crocuses EP. Eschewing the easy choice of maudlin goodbyes and long endings, the record leaves us with swaggering, upbeat tunes that remind us how good Sea Pinks has treated us for a decade. These tunes are top form British Isles jangle meets California guitar band, which to our ears has always been Neil's sweet spot. In our view, that is the way to say goodbye.

Thanks for the entertainment, gents, and we hope to hear what follows.


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Lucy and the Rats - Got Lucky

Take a dose of  garage plus '60s girl group vocals, an infusion of power pop and a coat of punk pop and what do you have? You have Got Lucky, that's what you have. The sophomore album by Lucy and the Rats consists of 12 songs that frame bittersweet defiance, love and freedom in concisely-written and passionately performed bursts of melody. While we enjoyed the band's debut, it is clear to us that this record confirms an upward trend for the band both in terms of consistency and quality. If you are looking for a fun summer album grab this one and you will be lucky. As for Lucy and the Rats, they didn't get lucky with this album -- they earned it.

Got Lucky is out now. You can get a digital download, order the vinyl via Stardumb Records and Surfin' Ki, or get a CD via Dirty Water Records.

Bandcamp for Got Lucky
Stardumb Records
Surfin' Ki Records
Dirty Water Records

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Muldoons - Made for Each Other

Yesterday's feature celebrated the latest release from good friends who have been together as The Ocean Party and, now, Pop Filter. Continuing with the friendship theme we now bring you Made For Each Other. It feels strange to refer to the album as a debut, because the gentlemen called The Muldoons began playing together in the '90s in Paisley Scotland, both as The Muldoons and as The Church Grims (we may later take a poll as to which name our listeners would have preferred surviving). After putting the project on the shelf to pursue jobs, families and other distractions, they re-combined in 2017 for an intended one-time show. Deciding the magic and motivation had not been exhausted, the band began writing and performing, with the end result now available for our ears.

So, what do we have? Classic Scottish guitar pop melodies with jangling guitars, sturdy rhythms and excellent vocals, all of which is stuff that we love. And in this case, it is done particularly well and the stories are sharply written and delivered with warmth, compassion and humor. But as good as that all is, The Muldoons also possess a secret weapon. Yes, this band adorns their songs with a trumpet. We understand that this sounds like a simple one-instrument addition, but we assure you that it is not. This trumpet acts as an aural punctuation mark for the verses, a booster rocket for the choruses, and just makes everything - which as we said was damn good already - grander.

We have been listening to this album for several weeks, and we can't take it out or rotation. It seems like and old friend and delights our hearts every time we play it. We have no choice -- we are moving it to the list of our favorite albums of the year so far, which means we have to keep playing it to evaluate it with its peers. We are quite happy with how this has turned out. Mark another winner for the Last Night From Glasgow label.

The Muldoons are Gerry Mullen (vocals/guitar), Bobby Corrigan (guitar), Andy McPake (drums), Greg Bolland (trumpet/melodica), and Davy Brook (bass). Made For Each Other is out now via Last Night From Glasgow's Hive subsidiary.

Label page for vinyl version of album

Friday, July 3, 2020

"Big Yellow Van" by Pop Filter

Relatively new Australian project Pop Filter will be known for quality indie pop music. But they also should be known for their enduring friendship over many years, shifting residences and inevitable life events, encompassing The Ocean Party, Pop Filter, and various side projects. "Big Yellow Van" is the latest single taken from their upcoming debut album. No surprise to us, but it is our favorite song this week.

Banksia will be released on August 21 via Spunk Records, Osborne Again and Bobo Integral. We suggest pre-ordering it. If you choose the physical version, perhaps it will be delivered by a big yellow van. While that would be awesome (and if it happens, please snap a photo), you will love the album regardless of the delivery method.

Bandcamp for "Big Yellow Van"
Bandcamp for Banksia

Thursday, July 2, 2020

"Unknown" by Even As We Speak

We are finally in the month in which Even As We Speak will release new LP Adelphi, although the target date is yet three weeks away. However, we can whet our already keep appetites with the video for the latest single taken from the album -- the glorious "Unknown". The song contemplates death and the question of how one will be remembered after life ends. The ultimate question remains unresolved, but the dark subject matter is adorned by a performance and arrangement so beautiful that someone paying no attention to the lyrics might assume they were listening to a wistful love song. But, of course, we expect such heights from this band, and they never let us down.

Adelphi will be released July 24 via Shelflife Records (US) and Discos de Kirlian (Spain).

Shelflife Records' Bandcamp

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Sweam - Lounge Music For Cat People

So we are asked what music is getting us through our mid-week morning. The answer is 'lounge music'. Specifically, Lounge Music For Cat People. Before you say "ick" - either because of the designation lounge music or, perhaps, because of the reference to cat people - you should understand that this is an album of superbly crafted tunes which would never find their way into the repertoire of any card-carrying lounge singer. They span the spectrum from fulsome shoegaze to a jazzy indie pop, all sharing the capacity to delight. There is a palpable sense of fun and adventure, and a good dose of energy. We also would like to point out that while we are dog people, we know some very fine cat people.

Lounge Music For Cat People is the creation of Norway's Sweam, whose members are Jonas Gabriel Berg, Frida Marie Berg, Jorgen Stokke, Gulliver Bradshaw, and Jan Olav Andersen.

Bandcamp for Lounge Music For Cat People