Liverpool's The Bordellos, one of our favorite creators of indie pop fractured by damaged romance, has a new two-song single. Consisting of "Dancing To The Hits" and "Slow Motion Fade Out", it is an ace reminder that affecting pop music doesn't require banks of synths, professional beat makers and hook specialists and big label studio budgets. Inspiration, talent and a can-do attitude can work magic.
A plentitude of indie hooks riding a jazz-funk soundtrack and fronted by a dynamic and soulful vocalist? Yes please, we would like some more of that. The band is Edinburgh's Atom Eyes, and the song is their new single "Roll The Dice". The band aims to make feelgood tunes, and if the single is representative, they deliver on the promise.
Atom Eyes are Lissa, Fraser, Scott, Alan, and Tom. "Roll The Dice" is taken from their forthcoming album
If we were nominating a small number of artists for the status of synth pop royalty, Tobias Isaksson, who records and performs as Azure Blue, certainly would be included. His gorgeous melodies and romantic themes washed with melancholy have thrilled and soothed us over the years. Recently, as he celebrates the ten year anniversary of the release of Rule of Thirds -- the first of his five Azure Blue albums, the Swedish artist announced that a new album would be coming in 2022 and released a positive and uplifting new single, "Define Your Dreams'. Stream it below and watch for further news of the album.
The single, which is out now as a digital release, and the album are provided via Hybris with distribution handled by ALOADED.
"Gone West" is the sound of youth, fun, and 'I don't give a fuck'. Most importantly, it makes me feel like I shed a couple of decades and that, dear readers, is priceless! The song is by Glasgow post punk band Kaputt and is taken from their upcoming second album. As of this post the album has neither a name nor a set release date other than sometime in the first half of 2022. However, your ears will convince you that Kaputt should be on your 2022 list. And in the meantime, you can grab this digital single from your favorite digital purveyor.
Both the single and the upcoming album are released via Upset The Rhythm. And those of you in Great Britain and Ireland should take note of the live show dates and venues listed at the bottom of the post.
Young Copenhagen four-piece Kindsight are a breath of fresh air in the guitar pop world. They have the shiny pop accents of their native Scandinavia, but thicken the sound with elements of alternative rock. We won't be able to hear their upcoming debut album until the first part of 2022, but we have their new single "Don't You Grow Up". The song shows off the band's warm, sunny style but also shows the band has the muscle to rock out.
Kindsight are Nina Hyldgaard Rasmussen (vocals/guitar), Soren Svensson (guitar), Anders Prip (bass), and Johannes Jacobsen (drums). Don't You Grow Up" is out now via Stockhom's Rama Lama Records, which also will release the album.
Now Where Were We seems like the perfect album title for this post because we have been a bit negligent in our goal to make at least one post a day. But the only remedy is to dive back in, so we begin again in covering music we like that you might otherwise miss.
This album is by a southern Arizona band named The Exbats. We note that none of the four members of this group actually were ever a member of the legendary New Zealand quartet The Bats, but this 12-track album they have created easily is among the most fun set of songs we have heard this year. End to end energetic guitar pop with clever lyrics and a sassy-with-a-wink delivery. If you like your garage rock fun and with a dose of attitude, this is a can't miss acquisition.
The Exbats are Kenny McLain, Inez McLain and Bobby Carlson Jr. Now Where Were We is out now via Goner Records.
May we assume that in light of our laudatory feature of Feels So Good // Feels So Bad by Portland's The Shivas (link) everyone has a copy? We certainly hope so. But if you haven't done so, you can slink off and get yourself the album. And to give you some additional incentive (as if our previous praise isn't sufficient), here is their new video for album track "You Wanna Be My Man".
Dean Wareham is a very talented guy, as evidenced by his songcraft, guitar work and singing with Galaxie 500, Luna and Dean & Britta. But another aspect of his art, which we personally appreciate quite a bit, is his ability to intertwine social and political commentary with warm vocals and clever phrasing, delivered via his delightful guitar pop melodies. His first album under his own name in seven years, the recently released I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of L.A., displays these talents to great effect, providing soup to nuts satisfaction for the head as well as the heart.
The melodies are great, and the guitars via Dean and producer Jason Quever (Papercuts) are an absolute, and appealingly varied, delight. Britta Phillips, Dean's spouse and bandmate in Luna and Dean & Britta, also pitches in to play and sing, adding nuance and depth to the songs. The production is crisp overall, but the most laudable production aspect is that Dean's vocals are high in the mix. A listener should not have to strain to hear lyrics that deserve being heard, and these lyrics deserve to be heard. As I have played this album over and over, and appreciating it more each time, I find myself grabbing snatches of the lyrics and applying them to my daily life (often with the same whimsical effect one gets listening to the original). The one I repeated most often today was "the past is our plaything -- she can't talk back" from the album opener, but that is just a taste because this album is full of gems. Not surprisingly, the album mostly consists of new material, but there are two covers including "Dutchess" which was written by Scott Walker. We've included the video for that one below so you can see Dean performing it.
I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of L.A. is not only one of the better guitar pop albums of the year, it also is an album we expect to be playing years down the road. It is out now via Double Feature Records.
We music fans might be envious of one aspect of Ebba Salomonsson's earlier years as her stepfather owned a record store. Apparently young Ebba took advantage of the opportunity to expose herself to a variety of music. The result of that experience and her ambition is her solo venture, Benz. And we think that her just-released EP This Could Be The End displays both talent and confidence. Ebba is unafraid to offer a large-scale pop song such as EP opener "Hometown" and the following "I Never Thought This Would Be The End". But she is equally impressive with the dialed-down psyche of "Cave In" and the playful, all-too-short singalong "Murder Serenade". The thematic arc of the record is the dissolution of a long-term friendship, but the topic never threatens to weigh down the appealing music. Mark Benz as a talent to follow.
This Could Be The End is out now as a digital release via Stockholm's Rama Lama Records.
It poured rain all day here, as it has for most of the last several weeks. My residence is not in danger of flooding, but my spirits are sufficiently dampened that I have been avoiding touching electrical devices for fear of electrocution. However, I was able to significantly improve my mood today by repeatedly listening to The Overflow by Wellington, New Zealand's French For Rabbits, so I am risking a keyboard to tell you about the album. The creators are a five-piece band that combines atmospheric dream pop with a blend of folk and bright pop. While the songwriting perspective is that of introverts and outsiders, the music shimmers and has done wonders for my emotional gloom. Check it out.
French For Rabbits are Brooke Singer (vocals), John Fitzgerald (guitar), Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa (drums), Ben Lemi (multiple instruments), and Penelope Esplin (multiple instruments. The Overflow is out now via Reckless Yes, AAA records, and A Modest Proposal.
As far as we are concerned, no indie pop fan should have any doubts about whether they will buy Yumi Zouma's upcoming LP when it is available next Spring. But just to erase any unfounded doubts, we offer "Mona Lisa", the second single to be released from the album. Words such as 'gorgeous, 'buoyant', and 'euphoric' come to mind, but that seemed like missing the forest for all the trees. The single is pop perfection from the vocals to the melody to the bridge to the chorus to the build ... well, if you listen you will understand.
Yumi Zouma is Christie Simpson, Josh Burgess, Charlie Ryder, and Olivia Campion. All are New Zealanders although some now reside in New York and London. The new album will be their fourth and will be released via Polyvinyl.
Shoestrings released Wishing On Planes in the '90s, offering listeners delicate and dreamy indie pop such as the music from the Sarah Records stable of artists. But within a few years the duo of Mario and Rose Suau conjured a disappearing act as a performing band and concentrated on production related activities. However, in the middle of the last decade, working with Swedish synth pop legend Johan Angergard prompted the revival of Shoestrings. The result is their sophomore album, Expectations.
The new album is infused with all of the charm of their first album, but also benefits from their immersion in the Nordic pop world. The production is detailed but not cluttered, the vocals nuanced and well up in the mix, and the arrangements are far more adventurous than standard indie pop. Expectations is a delightful and rewarding listen, and we think it will make the end of your weekend a littler warmer and brighter. We can only hope that Mario and Rose don't wait several decades before the next album.
Expectations is out now in digital, CD and vinyl formats via Shelflife Records (North America), Discos de Kirlian (Europe), and Fastcut Records (Japan).
We morned the demise of Scotland's Kid Canaveral -- hooks, humor and good musicianship help pass the sometimes dreary Pacific Northwest days. But we still get a taste via Broken Chanter, the solo plus friends project of KC vocalist David MacGregor. His latest set of songs is Catastrophe Hits, which is out now via two of our favorite labels north of Hadrian's decrepit wall, Last Night From Glasgow and Olive Grove Records. David's vocal prowess remains remarkable, but this project is a bit of a shift from KC. The themes are a bit broader, the focus a bit sharper, and the perspective a more hard-minded. But the euphoric pop smarts remain intact, so Catastrophe Hits is music for the brain and the heart.
We think this album is good for anytime, anywhere. But it is particularly recommended for these shortened, wetter days in the Northern Hemisphere. No prescription required.
Good Morning have a winning alchemy of serious, thoughtful themes and proficient musicianship that transcends the lo-fi packaging. The Melbourne duo of Liam Parsons and Stefan Blair have released three previous albums and some EPs and singles, but for our ears the new Barnyard is their best record yet. The differences from its predecessors don't necessarily hit you in the face, but are cumulative and, collectively, meaningful. Their songwriting has always been good, but on Barnyard it is sharp and consistent. The production is a step up as well. Enough remnants of scuzz pop remain so that you know Liam and Stefan haven't forgotten who they are and why they are there, but it doesn't hide the sneakily nuanced vocals, harmonies and mature songcraft. This is truly good stuff, and it gets better with each replay.
If we were to make a word cloud for the self-titled debut LP by Chime School, it would bear remarkable similarity to the word cloud we would make for the music we cover on this blog -- jangle, chime, '80s guitar pop, C86, Creation Records, '60s folk rock, Flying Nun, and Glasgow indie pop. But if we had to sum it up in a few words, it would be: A jangle pop triumph.
And the prize goes to creator Andy Pastalaniec, who has manned the drum kits for other San Francisco bands Seablite and Cruel Summer. Here he wields a 12 string in fine fashion, layering artfully to create a robust wall of melodic but upbeat and energetic jangle. All of the songs are delectable treats, and the listener can be forgiven wishing that Andy hadn't stopped at ten. Of course, depending on your own tastes a few will stand out, and we have selected a few below. However, we urge you to go to Bandcamp and stream the entire LP while your purchase is being processed, because it is Friday and you deserve it. For that matter, Andy deserves it too.
Chime School is out today via Slumberland Records.
Psssst, whether he intends to do so or not, it appears that Glenn Donaldson, the brain and voice of The Reds, Pinks & Purples, is in the running for the WYMA triple crown. Two legs are done and dusted with his 2020 and 2021 albums easily making our top ten for those years (the 2021 release may end up #1 with us). In January he will release new LP Summer At Land's End via Slumberland Records (North America) and Tough Love Records (UK). Even in years in which we don't publish a favorite albums list (and we have been lax in recent years) we keep track. And I don't think an artist have ever had a top ten album in three consecutive years. But Glenn has the talent and is riding an impressive creative wave.
We haven't heard the album yet, but our eager ears devoured "Don't Come Home Too Soon", the first single. Based on that cut, this album will again feature Glenn's sad hearted and expressive lyricism leavened with shards of hope, all lushly illustrated with impeccable arrangements. If you think that we a predisposed to like the album, you are correct. But we fully expect our faith to be rewarded.
Vinyl collectors should note that there are two vinyl versions. One is a single disc of Summer At Land's End. The other version contains the album plus another disc of instrumental songs (not instrumental versions of the album's songs). I would not be surprised if both versions sell out in the pre-order stage.