Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Los Blancos - Detholiad O Ganeuon Traddodiadd Cymreig

 Detholiad O Ganeuon Traddodiadd Cymreig, the recent EP by Welsh band Los Blancos is very much a creature of the pandemic. A band that usually writes together in their practice space found themselves separated by COVID. While waiting for release they assembled all of their old demos and chose five songs -- one written by each of the band's members -- to include on this record.

Los Blancos' music is raw and passionate. But it also suggests a sense of purpose and an instinctive feel for creating appealing music. That the songs here were separately composed provides for a variety of styles. For example, compare the thumping rock storm of record opener "100 AD" with the relaxed country-influenced "Diogi" which follows(love that tune, by the way). But to appreciate the growth of the band, you must listen to all five songs. Overall less grungy than previous work, these songs have a pop-rock swing and sharp hooks. Good stuff, and we eagerly await their next album. 

The EP is out now as a digital release via Libertino Records.



Various links for EP

Monday, August 30, 2021

Deer Leader - We've Met Before, Haven't We?

 Although Scotland's pop bands populate all points in the music landscape, I believe that one style that its bands do better than bands from any other country is grand, wide-scope soundscapes. It is the kind of music that makes you feel you are standing on the top of a mountain looking out at the roiling seas. And just when I thought I knew all of the excellent groups creating in that space, I received We've Met Before, Haven't We? by Deer Leader. The band is comprised of multi-instrumentalists Suart McQuarrie, Ross Prentice, and Robin Pringle. The ingredients of their soundscapes are guitars, keys, beats, vocals, and samples, delivered with plenty of reverb. Lyrically, the album is introspective and searching with notes of melancholy contrasted with hope and contentment. The lyrics and the vocal samples are a true joy, and perfectly placed. However, the overall star of the show are the textures and layers of the sound,

Because I was not previously familiar with Deer Leader, I cued up my first listen casually while engaged in other projects. But I quickly realized that this album demanded my full attention. I now listen to it frequently start to finish. Every time I play it I feel more energetic, optimistic, and hopeful. What more could I want?

We've Met Before, Haven't We? is out now in vinyl and digital formats via Last Night From Glasgow.

Shrapnel - Alasitas

 In Alasitas, Sydney's Shrapnel has crafted a charming multi-headed beast comprised of artful post punk, pastoral British folk rock, and psychedelic pop, with touches of world beat and jazz. But rather than stare at each other across the divide, the various elements mesh together to provide a deep and enthralling listening experience bound together by pulsating rhythms and deft musicianship. Those of us with familiarity with British folk rock, psychedelic and prog rock of the '60s and '70s can find pleasant echoes in Alasitas. But even if that is a conscious springboard for the band, Shrapnel broadens the sound with new and interesting elements that leaves the past as mere reference points. Whether Shrapnel continues down this path or leaves it as a one-off experiment, they have created a truly fine piece of music.

Shrapnel is Sam Wilkerson, Matt Neville, Nicholas Johnson, Toby Baldwin, Lani Crooks, and Caroline de Dear. Their DNA includes three members of the beloved Day Ravies. Alasitas is out now via Tenth Court Records.


Bandcamp for Alasitas

Tenth Court Records

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Snowy Band - Alternate Endings

 This week brought a musical treasure box titled Alternative Endings. The band is Melbourne's Snowy Band, and this is their second album of the pandemic, following last year's Audio Commentary. The music is dynamic and varied, with sharp details, multiple but unfussy melodic layers and superb musicianship. This four-piece can slay you with sparse, slow tempo arrangements and hushed voices, and then get your heart racing with a killer pop tune. The lyrics are economical, but pack a sly impact that you might miss among the hooks on first listen. From the first song we heard, "Living With Myself" (our feature here), we suspected that the album would be special. And, as almost always is the case, we were correct.

Snowy Band are Liam Halliwell (vocals/guitar/other), Emma Russack (vocals/guitar), Nathalie Pavlovic (vocals/bass), and Dylan Young (vocals/drums). Alternate Endings is out now via Spunk Records, Osborne Again, and Palo Santo (Texas).

Thursday, August 26, 2021

"When This Gets Out" by The Persian Leaps

 Minnesota's The Persian Leaps have long been a go-to band for us when we hunger for power pop, jangle pop and fuzz. We are thrilled that a new EP is on the way, and we have a taste via the opening track, the crunchy, muscular "When This Gets Out". That a swing at our most recent past President is icing on the melodic cupcake.

The Persian Leaps for this outing is Drew Forsberg doing everything due to pandemic restrictions. Drone Etiquette EP is due October 1 via Land Ski Records.




Bandcamp for Drone Etiquette

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

"The Past Is Our Plaything" by Dean Wareham


When you have fronted Galaxie 500, been part of Dean and Britta and Luna, and released solo work, just stating your name is Dean Wareham should be introduction enough.

So, introductions out of the way, Dean has a new solo album titled I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A. coming on October 15. The first single is the jangling and chiming "The Past Is Our Plaything". A vivid slice of '60s-washed folk rock, it set our synapses firing and is all we need to eagerly anticipate the album.

I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A. will be released via Double Feature Records.





Monday, August 23, 2021

Tibetan Miracle Seeds - Inca Missiles


The inbox can be a scary place these days with messages about missiles aimed at targets innocent and otherwise and sketchy outfits selling potions, pills, roots and seeds that you allegedly need to be healthy. And into this ball of confusion we step in to promote Inca Missiles, a product of Tibetan Miracles Seeds. We assure you that these missiles have no warheads, but they do penetrate your cranium and explode in your brain. Fortunately, either (1) the explosion is causes no harm and only promotes pleasure, or (2) the explosion actually kills you, but the afterlife is sweetly melodic. However, as we are not licensed to provide end-of-life counseling, we will have no further comments on that score.

What we will say is that the psychedelic compositions that comprise  Inca Missiles are an off beat but thoroughly enthralling trip down a drone/psych rabbit hole that thrilled us at first listen and had us coming back for more. The artist is Tibetan Miracle Seeds, otherwise known as Jack McAfee of Dundee, Scotland. Jack wrote, recorded and produced all of the songs on the album, with help from some friends. Always interesting and, at its best, transcendent, this album is a welcome addition to our personal August playlist.

The digital version of Inca Missiles is out now via the Bandcamp page linked below. That page also has a link to source the vinyl version of the album.

Bandcamp for Inca Missiles

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Flowertown - Time Trials


Mike Ramos (Tony Jay/others) and Karina Gill (Cindy) are wonderful in their other musical roles, but their combination as Flowertown defies simple arithmetic. The delectable self-titled debut from this prolific duo graced out pages fewer than two months ago (link), impressing us with its lo-fi perfection and quiet power. Yet the new LP Time Trials still seems like a step up in consistency and melodic scope. While assigning a style to talents such as these are at best a guideline, the previous album seemed to us more slowcore while Time Trials fits better in dream pop territory, albeit dream pop in a haze of San Francisco fog rather than bright sunlight on the beach. Karina and Mike evince a comfort in performing together that is remarkable for a recent and spontaneously generated collaboration. Moreover, their generosity in gracing each other's songs adds a special finish to the material. This album is excellent at the first listen, and only grows on you more with each play. 

Time Trials is available in digital and vinyl formats via Paisley Shirt Records.

And because one play of "Time Trials" isn't sufficient --

"Little Brick", a touch of VU --

The janglefest that is "The Door The Thief The Light" --

Bandcamp for Time Trials

Friday, August 20, 2021

"My Own Hollywood" by The Bevis Frond


Among the positive surprises I have had this summer is the news that the UK's The Bevis Frond has a new album coming out. The Bevis Frond is the long running (35+ years) project of Nick Saloman, and he has lasted that long for a reason. Little Eden will be out in September via Fire Records, and it boasts 20 tracks of top quality pop songs delivered in in the form of crunchy, spiky, guitar rock. Think early R.E.M. or The Feelies playing Beatles songs and you will have a notion. Or to make it simpler, if you like the first decade of Teenage Fanclub, you will love The Bevis Frond.

While it is too soon to discuss the album in more detail, we can share the latest single, "My Own Hollywood. I think this one has a very appealing TFC vibe, and it begs for repeated replays. And be sure to come back for our coverage of the album. It is a 2XLP/2XCD release, so there is a lot to love!

Bandcamp for Little Eden

Various links for "My Own Hollywood"

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

"How Lonely Are You? (Feat. The Beths)" by Ducks Ltd.


Toronto's Ducks Ltd. create cheerful soundings songs that often are not, in fact, cheerful. Perhaps in the case of new single "How Lonely Are You?" the title tips us off. But the music is glorious, featuring a brisk tempo, jangling guitars and pummeling drums. It sounds a bit like a top '80s New Zealand band playing a Creation Records tribute show, and that is a high compliment. And how lonely could Tom McGeevy and Evan Lewis really be with label siblings The Beths providing backing vocals on the song?

"How Lonely Are You? (feat. The Beths)" is taken from Modern Fiction, the band's upcoming LP which is due in October via Carpark Records.




Bandcamp for album

Various links for test

"Lost Dog" by Cindy


Mark my words, one of the top albums of Autumn will be 1:2 by San Francisco dream pop band Cindy. A masterclass of .... well, I really should wait until the album is closer to release to swoon publicly. However, we all can experience a portion of its charms via "Lost Dog". An unassuming but truly delightful pop tune, it is artfully pared down to its hushed, melodic essence and then decorated with the finest instrumental ornaments. Feast your ears.

Cindy are Karina Gill (guitar/vocals), Aaron Diko (keys), Jesse Jackson (bass), and Simon Phillips (drums). Depending on your location and desired format, 1:2 will be available via Mt.St.Mtn., Tough Love Records, and Paisley Shirt Records. The date for digital release in October 1, and the date for the vinyl release is November 1.



Various links for album

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Tidal Rave - Albumette


It seems that our Wellington musical friends Tidal Rave were in a serious mood when writing Albumette. It seems that lockdowns, social unrest, income disparities and other ills can do that for you. But sometimes those feelings can translate to compelling music, and such is the case here. With an aggressive strike to the jangle, plenty of spikiness to the guitars and a decided edge to the staccato group vocals, this is post-punk/garage rock with an attitude and a purpose. But despite the 'wall closing in' atmosphere, it also is melodic and, ultimately, liberating. Albumette is a good album, and a good album for the times.

Tidal Rave are Emmie Ellis (vocals/guitar), Esther Gedye Taylor (vocals/guitar), Kristen Paterson (vocals/guitar/keys), Ann-Marie Keating (vocals/keys/guitar), Frank Eggleton (bass/keys), and Scott Hakkaart (drums). Albumette is out now via Fishrider Records.



Bandcamp for Albumette

"You Don't Want This" by Pip Blom

Our first feature for Tuesday is "You Don't Want This", even though we suspect that you do, in fact, want this. The single is taken from the upcoming sophomore album Welcome Break by Dutch quartet Pip Blom. Effervescent and hooky with a touch of chaos, it is like a bouquet of helium and sparkle-filled balloons popping one after another. In other words, captivating and irresistible. 

Welcome Break will be out October 8 via Heavenly Recordings.





Various links for album

Monday, August 16, 2021

"If I Could Choose" and "Undone" by The Shivas


One of the treasures of the Pacific Northwest indie rock/psychedelic scene is Portland's The Shivas. They intend to make everyone's autumn music playlists better with a new album titled Feels So Good//Feels So Bad (which, despite appearances, is not about my pre-marriage relationships). But you don't even need to take our always reliable opinion, because you can listen to two tracks below. Then you can pre-order the album and feel very good about what you have accomplished.

Feels So Good//Feels So Bad will be out September 24 via Tender Loving Empire.

"Talking to Myself" by Declan Welsh & The Decadent West

 We are now less than a month from the release of It's Been A Year, the new EP from Scots indie rockers Declan Welsh and the Decadent West. We don't wait well, to be honest. But in this case we satisfy ourselves with the catchy new single "Talking To Myself". It is big and bold out of the gate, and just gets bigger and bolder.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

"Not Your Mom" by Astrid Swan


Acclaimed singer-songwriter Astrid Swan has announced a new album titled D/Other. The album, her seventh full length, is said to focus on the topic of motherhood, both from the perspective of a mother and a daughter. Today we bring you the charming pop track "Not Your Mom", which addresses the one time of day when a mother is not serving as a mother -- when she is asleep. The song has an engaging bounce and bright tones. Quite frankly, we cannot think of a better song to kick off the first day of our work week.

D/Other will be out October 8 via Soliti Music.

"Call It A Day" by Snowy Band


"Call It A Day" indeed! But who the hell wants to throw up their hands and call it a day when you can listen to music like this a few more times? And the video makes it even more special, beginning with Snowy's rock god pretensions but then expanding to a wild and wonderful set of images that matches the sprawling musical landscape of the song. By the way, the single is the third to be taken from Snowy Band's upcoming album, Alternate Endings. If you haven't pre-ordered, your finger should be inching in that direction now.

Alternate Endings is due August 27 via Spunk Records, Osborne Again, and Palo Santo (Texas). 

Snowy Band are Liam "Snowy" Halliwell (vocals/guitar/other), Emma Russack (vocals/guitar), Nathalie Pavlovic (vocals/bass), and Dylan Young (vocals/drums).



Bandcamp for Alternate Endings

Various links for "Call It A Day"

Link for vinyl version of album 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

"Country" by Good Morning

We have loved Good Morning just the way they were. But the duo of Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons are challenging us to still love them as they change a bit. They are recording with an outside engineer and releasing their new album on a notable label -- Polyvinyl. But despite the more upscale trapping, single "Country" tell us that they are still the lo fi singer-songwriters and guitarists that can tap into themselves in a way that helps us tap into ourselves, and sound damn good while doing it. Great tunes and no therapy bills, what's not to love? And its OK Liam, I had some fun in scouting too.

The upcoming album is tiled Barnyard, and it will be out October 22 via Polyvinyl Record Co.





Bandcamp for Barnyard

Various links for Barnyard

"Before You Gotta Go" by Courtney Barnett


We are big fans of mid-week presents, and today brings us the extra special new single from Courtney Barnett. "Before You Gotta Go" starts out modestly and then swells in full color splendor with gorgeous guitars, synths and driving percussion. The lyrics are wry and knowing with a clever take on the 'kiss off' line. This song is easily among the best songs we have heard this summer.

"Before You Gotta Go" is taken from Courtney's upcoming album Things Take Time, Take Time, which will be released November 12 via Marathon Records and Mom+Pop. Courtney also will be touring North America from November through February.





Various links for "Before You Gotta Go"

Various links for album

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Sister John - I Am By Day


Glasgow band Sister John earned justifiable praise for their 2017 album Returned From The Sea and the self-titled sophomore LP two years later. However, it seems to me that their new album, I Am By Day, has a greater reach and, if life is fair, bring the band a much wider audience. While Amanda McKeown's songwriting has been a hallmark of Sister John from the beginning, the songs on this effort are even sharper, more complete, and more adventurous. Ranging from the bright pop of opener "I'll Be Your Life" and the irrepressible sassy peppiness of "In My Place" to the delicately folky electronica of "The Sound of You" to the trance inducing "How Can I Keep It Alive?", I Am By Day is packed with good and well-executed ideas. The three songs that earn the most replays from me are "In My Place", "Strange Ideas", and the glorious album closer, "Glasgow Is A Rainbow", but every track here is worthy of your ears.

Sister John are Amanda McKeown, Jonathan Lilley, Sophie Pranell, and Heather Phillips. I Am By Day is out now via Last Night From Glasgow.

"Vainglorious" and "Through to You" by Motorists

We are always happy to welcome a new powerpop band to these pages. Please meet Toronto trio Motorists via their singles "Vainglorious" and "Through to You". The songs come from their upcoming debut album Surrounded. "Vainglorious" has a driving forward push that helps us start the day, and "Through to You" boasts a bouncing jangle that brings a smile and a spring to our steps.

Motorists are Craig Fahner, Matt Learoyd, and Jesse Locke. Surrounded is due September 3 via We Are Time (United States), Debt Offensive Records (Canada) and Bobo Integral (rest of the world).


Bandcamp (Motorists)

Bandcamp (Bobo Integral)

Bandcamp (Debt Offensive Records)

We Are Time Records

Monday, August 9, 2021

Boyracer - Assuaged


I can't speak for all of our readers, but when I choose an album to cue up my first thought isn't "I hope this makes me feel old, content and wise". Not that being old or content is bad, and getting old is part of life we all must accept. But in choosing music, I often look to feel young and nurture my inner, and sometimes nearly dormant, rebel. And that's what often makes long running band Boyracer a frequent favorite. Snarling guitars, bratty and challenging vocals, and assertive percussion hit my bullseye. And like all good fuzz/punk/garage bands, there is plenty of pop smarts in the DNA of their songs. With new album Assuaged, Boyracer has not only done it again, they have -- at least in my view -- created their best music in a long time. Stitching together anxiety, regrets, loves, hopes and dreams in an explosive package, the trio of founding member Stewart Anderson, with Christina Riley and Matty Green, offers the listener a rush for the body that will ramp up the heart rate and may prompt some pogo moves to test the floorboards. But Anderson's songwriting adds a dimension for our heads as well, and that makes this set of songs even more special.

Assuaged is out now via Emotional Response Records.

Bandcamp for Assuaged

Twitter for Emotional Response Records

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Geoffrey O'Connor - For So Long As I Can Remember


Lush, shimmering, subtly layered and emotionally resonant, For So Long As I Can Remember is a clear contender for top ten 'pure pop' lists. The work of Geoffrey O'Connor, who has long pleased fans in bands such as Crayon Fields and solo work, as well as production success for other artists, he again proves that his songcraft is of the highest order. Whether he can contend in the 'solo' category, I leave to the jury, as he doubled the perspective and emotional charge of his songs by inviting an Australian female artist to join him on each of the album's eleven tracks. The concept is intriguing; the results are superb.

Venturing into affairs of the heart, and particularly the troubled kind, O'Connor could have come across as a sad, solitary figure, albeit a very stylish one. But with his late night croon supplemented with his guest artists, we have the equivalent of a 3-D musical short story for each song. We previously featured "What A Scene" (featuring Sui Zhen) (link), but that is only the beginning for our ears. We are particularly taken by the title song, the shimmering disco of "Foolish Enough" (featuring Laura Jean), the lush pop of "Renee" (featuring Sienna Thornton) and the darkly shaded "Tunnel of Love" (featuring Jess Ribeiro). This is a richly rewarding listen, and may even make you feel better about the lovelorn tears you have shed in your life.

 For So Long As I Can Remember is out now via Chapter Music.




Bandcamp for album

Various links for artist and album

The Umbrellas - The Umbrellas


It seems to us that the self-titled album from The Umbrellas is perfectly timed. The sun drenched melodies, jangle and '60s pop vocals are just right for August, and the songs are so good that we will use them to recapture that summer feeling throughout the following months. The San Francisco four-piece address feelings in a sincere by breezy fashion, and manage to evoke a lot of potential influences while sounding fresh and original. Particularly impressive is the quality of the song-craft from a band formed in 2019 and just releasing their debut full-length. We look forward to any future nuggets of timeless pop they are willing to bestow on our ears.

The Umbrellas are Matt Ferrara (vocals/guitar/keys), Keith Frerichs (guitar/drums/vocals), Margan Stanley (vocals/guitar), and Nick Oka (bass). The Umbrellas is out now via Slumberland Records.



Bandcamp for the album

Various links for band and album

Slumberland Records page for album

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Tape Waves - Bright


Tape Waves have released a delectably atmospheric dream pop album for the summer. Bright lives up to its name -- full of sun-drenched vibes, shimmering melodies, fuzz, and a dose of shoegaze muscle. Its sonic palate shares space with Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. But the the perspective of songwriters Kim and Jerod Weldin seems much sunnier than those predecessors. The laid back approach notwithstanding, this is a serious and complete work with more variety that the listener might initially expect. Perfect for a summer day, you may also pull it out in the fall or winter to help recall warmer days.

Bright is Tape Wave's fourth album, and is out now via Emotional Response Records.

"Pond House" by Saint Etienne


We bring electro pop fans the good news that London's Saint Etienne will be releasing their tenth album in September. Titled I've Been Trying To Tell You, it is a look back to a time in the past which may have been positive and special, and may have been much less, depending on whether one can really rely on one's memories. Specifically, the album uses samples and sounds from 1997-2001, spanning a period beginning with an election victory by the Labour Party in the UK and ending with the attack on the World Trade Center in NYC. The album is a companion piece to a film with the same name. You can take the album and film for a bit of a test drive via the video below, which features album track "Pond House" along with scenes from the film.

I've Been Trying To Tell You will be out September 10 via Heavenly Recordings.