Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dollar Bar - Pyrrhic Victory

One might think that the COVID induced working from home would have improved our blog output. However, while it has increased readership as home office workers feel more comfortable, and bored enough, to check-in more regularly, we haven't kept pace. Part of the problem is that without a clear demarcation between work and home, we find ourselves working at times when we normally wouldn't (no wonder the managing partner is in no hurry to call us all back to the office and slurp the free coffee). And we also have more access to the great outdoors of which we have made frequents use. Yes, we do work out, thanks for noticing. So with apologies to several fine bands, we are going to try to reach back and highlight some worthy music.

And first on the list is Pyrrhic Victory, the fourth and final album from Brisbane's Dollar Bar. Why "final"? We don't know. But we do know that this is an excellent album and if it is their exit music, they are leaving at the top of their game. They launch with a couple of rocking tunes so appealing that the we could wonder whether the band has used their musical ammunition too soon, but instead our smiles get bigger as we bounce to the power pop segment of "Cops On Ferrars", the very GBV-esque "James Brown", the '60s tinted "Paddington Workers Club", and "Not A Dig". Desert rock is on offer with "The House of the Rising Damp". The splendid tracks keep coming and we become even more remorseful at not alerting you to this album sooner. Save our blushes and go get it. NOW.

Dollar Bar is Dale Peachey (guitar/vocals), Chris Yates (guitar/vocals), Patrick McCabe (bass/vocals), and Brendan Rosenstengel (drums).

Bandcamp for Pyrrhic Victory

Monday, September 28, 2020

Ezrat - Carousel

Bands come and go. For example, we were fond of indie jangle poppers EZTV, but they drifted off the radar and are now in the 'former band' category. But sometimes, bands transform and comeback. To continue with our example, Ezra Tenenbaum, the songwiter and main man behind EZTV is back in the guise of Ezrat. The project is not quite solo, as percussionist Michael Stasiak from EZTV has come along. The fruits of their labor is the 12-track Carousel, which at this very moment is pleasuring our eager ears. The songs, which were recorded with the assistance of a formidable roster of Brooklyn talent (see the credits on the Bandcamp page), retain some of the jangle of EZTV but Ezra also infused these gently melancholy creations with an ample dose of dream pop. The result is a fine album perfect for the Indian Summer days of Fall, which is where we find ourselves at WYMA World Headquarters.

Carousel is out now via Madrid's Bobo Intregal Records.

Bandcamp for Carousel

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Chills - Submarine Bells and Soft Bomb

We are writing today to encourage you to improve your collection of vinyl. The subjects are the reissues of two treasured albums by the iconic New Zealand band The Chills. The band was formed in 1980 by Martin Phillipps, and released a number of singles and two albums in that decade. However, it was in the early '90s when Phillipps was able to combine his songwriting, his band's talents, and increased production facilities to create the sound he wanted over the course of an entire album. The results were Submarine Bells and Soft Bomb. Both releases were on the US label Stash, and were well received by fans and college radio, but failed to reach mass market success. After these albums, The Chills were an on and off again project as Phillips' battled health issues. However, they have been going strong for the last decade and released an excellent LP titled Snow Bound a couple of years ago.

For us, what Submarine Bells and Soft Bomb so special is Phillipps' ability to synthesize his highly melodic and hook-filled songwriting with the sounds he wants from punk, post-punk, psychedelia, '60s garage rock, jangle pop, and baroque pop -- all accented by Phillipps' chiming guitars. Despite the disparate elements, the songs are cohesive and complement each other well on the album. Of course, these albums were good originally or they wouldn't have been reissued. But to our ears, they seem to have aged like a fine wine. When we learned they would be reissued we started listening to them again and found that we appreciate them now than before. The quality and variety is breathtaking, and our fresh listening leads us to appreciate details we might have missed originally. This is immaculate, timeless guitar pop and belongs in every collection.

Submarine Bells and Soft Bomb are available now via Fire Records.



Submarine Bells (1990)

Bandcamp for Submarine Bells

Soft Bomb (1992)

Bandcamp for Soft Bomb

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Fort Not - The Club Is Open

We cover a lot of artists from many different countries and working in a number of styles. But you probably wouldn't be a regular reader is you aren't a fan of guitar pop in its many forms. And if you are a fan of guitar pop, we have good news for you: One of the better guitar pop albums to hit our ears this year is The Club Is Open by Gothenburg, Sweden's Fort Not. The album displays the band's range, featuring songs that could be considered indie pop, dream pop, country rock, and jangle pop, and their skill in crafting impossibly catchy melodies. We were convinced of the album's quality early in the album opener, "Spending Time", but then were blown away by the following "Amsterdam". This tune is so infectious that one of us woke up humming it Saturday morning. It gets stuck in the brain, but there will be no complaints.

The next two songs have a friendly, slacker pop/county vibe, and since we can't choose which is better, we won't even try. One of our album highlights, "Hanging On", again display's the band's power pop proficiency with a chorus that demands to be sung out loud, call-and-response style with your friends. And speaking of compelling singalongs, the following song has such a charming, loosely-knit bouncing rhythm that it is almost impossible to resist joining in. Just know that doing so results in singing a chorus that exclaims "some day you will find me dead". You are warned, so pick your audience with care.

"Swirling" introduces dream pop to the mix, and to great effect. The sweetly wistful "Mary Ann" brings a slower pace and offers a change to catch our breath. But the album is back with sturdy, energetic rhythms with two tracks that have previously been released as singles: "Jenny Brown" and "Love Me Do". The latter is particularly noteworthy, one of those timelessly addictive tunes for which the "replay" button is particularly suited (our feature for "Love Me Do" here). The album closes with the pure pop of "Truckload of Bubbles" and the dreamy "Boy". You won't skip any of them.

Fort Not are Fredrik Soderstrom, Robert Carlsson, and Emanuel Hallongreen. The Club Is Open is out now via Meritorio Records.

Bandcamp for album
Meritorio Records' shop

Thursday, September 17, 2020

"Another Door" by The Bats

Our New Zealand heroes The Bats are back with another cut from their upcoming LP Foothills. This time it is the album's fifth song, "Another Door". The tune is satisfyingly wistful and and dreamy until the intensity delightfully increases for the guitar-driven outro.

Foothills will be released on November 3 via Flying Nun Records. See the Bandcamp link below for pre-orders.

Bandcamp for "Single"
Bandcamp for Foothills

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

"My Candidacy" by Pom Poko

Energetic Norwegian pop punk band Pom Poko has announced new album Cheater, due November 6 via Bella Union. The announcement was accompanied by an offering of the single "My Candidacy". Despite the election season, the song actually is about the desire for unconditional love, and we are quite happy that it isn't about politics. The sound is classic Pom Poko: Like a firecracker loaded with sugar. Perfect stuff to cure your mid-week blahs.

Various links to pre-order Cheater

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Studio Kind of Green featuring Locked Hands - Making Light

Studio Kind of Green is the recording name adopted by Carey Walton, the producer behind the label Kind of Green Records. The label had been based in Auckland, New Zealand, but Carey has relocated himself and the label to Linlithgow, Scotland. The move has provided the opportunity to work with Sean Ormsby, a favorite of ours who records as Locked Hands (among others) and helms Edinburgh's Errant Media label. For the recently released three-song EP Making Light, Carey created rhythms and tracks and sent them to Sean to add lyrics and vocals. Of course, further work and refinements transpired with the well-honed final product available for our listening pleasure. So dive in below, and note that if you act quickly the EP is available for a limited time as a free download.

Bandcamp for EP
Kind of Green Records
Twitter for Locked Hands

Friday, September 11, 2020

"Nightflight" by Kluster B

We didn't expect to have new music from Swedish experimental pop rock group Kluster B so soon after their recent album b (our feature here), but we are thrilled that they have surprised us with "Nightflight". The song encapsulates what we find so compelling about this band: A intrinsic sense of melody and an uncompromising dynamism.

Kluster B are Sebastian Hegedus (guitar), Adam Jonsson (guitar), Pontus Ornstrand (keys/synth/bass), Andreas Pollak (drums), and Linnea Hall (vocals). Their music is released via Rama Lama Records.

Bandcamp for "Nightflight"
Various links for "Nightflight"

Monday, September 7, 2020

David Newton & Thee Mighty Angels - A Gateway to a Lifetime of Disappointment

We are asked what filled our stay-at-home airwaves this holiday weekend. If you must know, it was the sound of angels. Specifically David Newton & Thee Mighty Angels. Astute and well-informed readers (and I expect that includes most of you) might say "hey -- wasn't he guitarist and co-principal songwriter for The Mighty Lemon Drops"? And of course your memory is correct. We understand that David, a native of Britain, has been living in Southern California and, among other things, engineering and producing other people's album. In fact, he produced a favorite of ours from a decade ago, Somewhere On The Golden Ghost by The Henry Clay People.

But the subject here is his new album, A Gateway to a Lifetime of Disappointment. Despite the title, this is in no way a sad affair. David is a master of the happy, forward-pushing melody, and he lavishes his talents throughout the ten tracks of this album. It has pop, it has bounce, it has nostalgia. It also has humor, as evidenced by the title of the album -- a lyric taken from one of our favorite songs, "My First Band". Technically, this is a solo album, but David enjoyed the assistance of his angels, who are duly listed in the credits. A Gateway to a Lifetime of Disappointment truly is one of the late summer triumphs to hit our ears. Don't miss out.

The album is out now. Check it out on Bandcamp.

Bandcamp for album

Sunday, September 6, 2020

"I Love Only You" by Smokescreens

The subject of our previous post was the Fort Not single "Love Me Do". Staying with the romantic theme but with a bit more personal commitment, we present "I Love Only You" by Los Angeles band Smokescreens. Excellent guitar pop and, in our opinion, an excellent advertisement for the trio's upcoming album A Strange Dream. Another hint at the quality is that it was produced by David Kilgour (The Clean/David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights).

A Strange Dream will be released October 30 via Slumberland Records.

Bandcamp for A Strange Dream
Various links to pre-order A Strange Dream

Saturday, September 5, 2020

"Love Me Do" by Fort Not

The human mind tends to categorize. There is nothing wrong with that -- it is quite natural. But that doesn't mean our mind's attempts to categorize things will always be correct. We were reminded of our potential, OK, occasional ability to be wrong when listening to the singles released so far from The Club Is Open, the forthcoming LP by Fort Not.  Just listen to the tasty jangle pop gem of "Love Me Do", the latest release from the album and your mind. like ours, might assign a location such as Glasgow, Seattle, or Melbourne. But our preconceptions are dashed to discover that this Pavement-meets-Flying Nun gem originates from Gothenburg, Sweden. But regardless of location, it is one of our favorite singles in recent memory, and cements our determination to dive into the album when is is available to us.

Fort Not are Fredrik Soderstrom (lead vocals/organ/piano/keys), Robert Carlsson (guitar/backing vocals), and Emanuel Hllongreen (guitar/bass/drums/keys/percussion/backing vocals). The Club Is Open is out September 18 via Spain's Meritorio Records.

Bandcamp to pre-order The Club Is Open
Meritorio Records

Thursday, September 3, 2020

No Joy - Motherhood

Breathtaking in scope, delightfully varied and joyously performed, Motherhood is a giant step forward into a bight future for No Joy. Jasmine White-Gluz, the Montreal musician and composer, uses the shoegaze foundation she knows so well and has added dreamy indie pop, dancefloor beats, heavy rock and trip hop. It seems to us that she has reached into the future, grabbed this batch of gems and proclaimed "this is what art pop will look like when everyone catches up". The songs are busy, with disparate elements that sometimes come close to clashing. But White-Gluz adeptly melds them with the precision and flair of a celebrated sushi chef wielding his favorite knife. A truly exhilarating journey for your ears.

The songs were written by White-Gluz and Jorge Elbrecht. Motherhood is out now via Joyful Noise. See the Bandcamp link below.

Bandcamp for Motherhood
Various links for Motherhood

Tuesday, September 1, 2020


RULES is synth pop band, and it is very, very good synth pop band. But you don't even have to be a fan of the genre to appreciate the beauty and craft of their new self-titled album. The vocals are sublime, and the melodies sound like favorite songs from the '80s you have been trying to remember but find they are just beyond your memory. The lyrical content is literary and absorbing, and the production is sublimely layered. It is no surprise that all of this makes this set of songs a perfect debut. Based on our experience the last few weeks, you won't want to stop playing RULES.

RULES are Iiti Yli-Harja (lead vocals/synth), Sarra Keppola (synth/guitar/backing vocals), and Oskari Halsti (drums/guitar/backing vocals). The album is out now via Helsinki's Soliti Music.

Bandcamp for album
Soliti Music