Friday, May 31, 2024

"Pro Volunteer" by Lame Drivers

 

What a great way to start the weekend! "ProVolunteer" is a rousing, surging indie rock anthem suffused with buzzing guitars, pounding drums and gang vocals in the chorus (if a threesome can be a gang). It is the latest single by Brooklyn's Lame Drivers and is taken from their upcoming LP Become An Island. The trio seems to take its inspiration from various points on the pop compass, but a comparison to Guided By Voices would not be in error. In our opinion, when you are in that lane of musical traffic you are going to go far -- even if your driving is lame.

Lame Drivers are Jason Sigal (guitar), Joe Posner (bass), and Jeff Wood (drums). Become An Island will be out in vinyl, CD and digital formats on June 28 via Jigsaw Records and Bleeding Gold Records.


And as an extra treat, here is the previously released title track for the album --


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Bleeding Gold Records page for album

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Lightheaded - Combustible Gems

 

What are the best tracks on Combustible Gems, the new album by New Jersey's Lightheaded? We would nominate tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. You may dismiss such a statement as a cop out when discussing an album with eight tracks, but here is the deal: We a fans of indie pop. And when we listen to an album that sounds like the most knowledgeable DJ has curated a list of unknown guitar pop diamonds that spans Glasgow twee, New Zealand strum and jangle, '60s craftsman hooks and vocals, '80s and '90s British guitar pop, current San Francisco pop renaissance and lots more, we damn well are going to embrace it wholeheartedly. So there you are. Check out a few charming earworms below and then decide whether you want digital, vinyl or CD formats. Combustible Gems is out now via Slumberland Records.

Lightheaded are Sarah Abdlebarry (guitar), Stephen Stec (guitar), Cynthia Rickenbach (bass) (apologies to the drummer as we don't have his name).





Bandcamp for Combustible Gems


Sarah Abdlebarry (guitar), Stephen Stec (guitar), Cynthia Rickenbach (bass) (apologies to the drummer as we don't have his name).


Lightheaded are, simply, a great pop group. Their songs are full of melody and harmony, are bittersweet and memorable, familiar yet original. Their sound is a perfect mix of jangling guitars -- featuring Sarah Abdlebarry's exquisite, tasteful, but punchy Gretsch lead played over Stephen Stec's Rickenbacker chime -- anchored to singer Cynthia Rickenbach's Hofner Violin bass, which sounds like the bass on Michel Polnareff's first LP.


"Hugging Horizons" is the Sound of Young New Jersey. It's soul music, but by experimenting and playing around, they have accidentally invented some sort of New New Pop. "Because of You" ends the album on a real high, featuring Johnny Marr style guitar and some gorgeous strings. It's poignant and sophisticated, but still eager, slightly gauche even. And as always refreshingly, wonderfully, naively sincere.

Combustible Gems is a jump into the sparkling blue water, excited experimentation, exploration, finding themselves, with the effervescence of youth that makes for great debut LPs. It has the youthful urgency of Comet Gain, the wide-eyed nostalgia of early Orange Juice, the suss and anti-macho swagger of those early Pastels singles. It yearns for something, it is an exciting, stumbling, falling, laughing , charming, great pop debut.

New Jersey band Lightheaded make indie pop that casts a wide net. Their 2023 EP, Good Good Great!, was five songs that moved quickly from dour jangle pop to '60s-informed instrumentation that called to mind the chamber pop sweetness of the Beach Boys or the folksy sensibility of the Byrds. There were even hints of the reverb-saturated wave of dark pop that reigned supreme on the earliest Captured Tracks releases. All of these touchstones are revisited and expanded upon with Lightheaded's proper debut album, Combustible Gems. Every song takes a slightly different approach while maintaining a consistent songwriting aesthetic, which makes for an album of colorfully diverse highlights that doesn't feel too piecemeal. The production is deep and defined, also, giving the synths of opening track "Always Sideways" a little extra sparkle and the naive 12-string leads of "Dawn Hush Lullaby" an added push that wasn't there on the EP. Vocalist Cynthia Rittenbach's performances have a balance of drive and restraint that calls to mind twee standard-bearers like Camera Obscura or Belle & Sebastian, as the instrumentals shift between twinkly, acoustic, Smiths-y melodrama on "Still Sitting Sunday," mod-tinged peppiness-meets-Sarah Records shakiness on "Bright Happy Girls," cavernous synth arpeggios and gothy harmonies on "Hugging Horizons," and other interpretations of melodic and sensitive indie sounds. Erin Turner's violin arrangements add the final touch that makes Combustible Gems an exceptional entry in the indie rock pantheon. Closing track "Because of You (3 Sundays)" puts Turner's strings in the foreground, with graceful waves of violin harmonies sharing space with surfy guitar lines and aching vocal arrangements. While Combustible Gems is only a few tunes longer than Lightheaded's previous EP (with eight songs total), the band packs every song with ideas and sounds that are tastefully crafted and always changing. Even for as intricate as the album's construction is, it's assembled with a touch so light that it creates an easy, repeatable listening experience. Combustible Gems is a striking debut, on par with some of the work that informed it in a continuum of gorgeously imperfect indie pop.

Monday, May 27, 2024

"Everyone" by Voom

 

Here is a relaxing, folky pop tune about a very unrelaxing event: The Big Bang, You know, the world explodes and everyone is burnt toast, blown to smithereens or whatever happens in The Big Bang. The event sounds scary, but the "Everyone" is ultra cool so we have that going for us, which is nice. Besides, the central message is that we are all connected, even if it takes The Big Bang to demonstrate it.

The song is by Auckland, New Zealand's Voom and is out now as a digital single via Flying Nun.

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Sunday, May 26, 2024

"Grass Walls" and "A Power of Wides" by Oh Boland

 

With each singles release from the upcoming Western Leisure from Oh Boland we get more excited to hear the entire album. We realize that you may be reading that first sentence and thinking 'buy WYMA has only feature one single'. Well, you wouldn't be wrong. But we are correcting that right now by posting the final two singles, "Grass Walls" and "A Power of Wides". It seems to us that what Niall Murphy, aka Oh Boland, does very well is blend garage, power pop and a touch of punk into a rousing tune that prompts us to pump our fist and move about. Check out the tunes below and note that Western Leisure will be released May 31 via Meritorio Records most everywhere and Safe Suburban Home in the UK.


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Yea-Ming and The Rumours - I Can't Have It All

 


With clear-eyed introspection and determination to chronicle her journey to find her true self through the layers of expectations and perspectives of others, Yea-Ming Chen has created an authentically-voiced collage of her journey titled I Can't Have It All. She -- along with her band Yea-Ming and The Rumours -- also have crafted a top quality pop album. With tracks of '90s twee oriented guitar pop and country shaded folk rock, and melancholy but beautifully sung lyrics riding bright melodies and sweet hooks, this album deserves to be a regular on your summer soundtrack.

In addition to Yea-Ming, the players are Eoin Galvin, Sonia Hayden, Jen Weisberg, and Luke Robbins. I Can't Have It All is out now via Dandy Boy Records.




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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

"Nightbug" by Mystery Waitress

 

Our track of the day is "Nightbug". All atmosphere, gritty riffs and swaggering vocals, it makes us yearn for the nightlife, as well as prompting gratitude for the replay button. The song is the latest from Wellington, New Zealand band Mystery Waitress, and it is the first single from their upcoming LP Black Black Night. Look for the album August 2 via Flying Nun. And if you live nearby, listen for the album blasting from our speakers.

Mystery Waitress are Tess Dillon, Olivia Campion, Xanthe Rook, and James Morgan.

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Various links for "Nightbug"

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Three singles by the intriguing Way Dynamic

 

Way Dynamic is the project of Dylan Young, a Melbourne-based engineer, producer and musician. By our count (and were were not math majors), he previously released an album and an EP. On June 7 he will release new album Duck. We happen to think Dylan's music is both relaxing and amusing -- kind of a folk pop with an oddball spin to it. Check out "Material", "Candlelight" and "Sports", the three singles released from Duck to date.  You may just find a new artist to follow, but in any case you will hear some good music.

Duck will be released via Melbourne's Spoilsport Records and, in the US, Earth Libraries.

"Round" by Personal Trainer

 

In recent weeks we had received several messages from publicists to check out a band named Personal Trainer. Because were are busy, had never heard of the band, and were so-so on the name, we didn't check them out. Then today we received a message about the release of a video for "Round" along with the announcement that the band's new LP, Still Willing, will be out on August 2 via Bella Union. We watched. And we watched again. And again. The song has a crunchy, pop rock vibe and the video is very amusing. So let us now say that we have discovered a new band that everyone should check out. A big welcome the Dutch masters, Personal Trainer

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Bandcamp for pre-orders of Still Willing

Various links for Still Willing

Bella Union

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Stephen's Shore - Neptune EP

 

If you like ringing and tangled guitar lines, moody vocals and a summery California vibe then let your fingers run, not walk, to order a copy of Neptune, the new EP by Sweden's Stephen's Shore. The devoted guitar pop fans may find hints of Guided By Voices and Teenage Fanclub, but it is just as likely that they will be so lost in the splendor of the music that they won't even think of influences. Neptune is top quality Stephen's Shore, and that should be enough.

Neptune is out now in digital and vinyl formats via Madrid's Meritorio Records. Stephen's Shore are Viktor Sjodin, Johan Dittmer, Mattias Bergqvist, P.A. Blomqvist, and Erik Stackpole Undehn.

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Friday, May 17, 2024

The Reds, Pinks & Purples - Unwishing Well

 


We expect that at this point indie pop fans, especially those fans that read this blog, need no introduction to The Reds, Pinks & Purples. But that familiarity does nothing to blunt the excitement about a new recording from the San Francisco project. So we eagerly welcome Unwishing Well -- ten songs of peerless pop craftmanship that looks at the music industry and the life of a musician from the inside looking out and the outside looking in. Those of us who have been following the band's music could be tempted to say that they have created their own sub-genre. Nevertheless, there are shifts from album to album. To our ears, Unwishing Well is both more nostalgic and wearier as compared to its most recent predecessor, and the pace of many of the songs seem to echo that weariness. But the musical and lyrical delights abound and the listener is rewarded as repeated listens reveal nuances that may have escaped notice on the first play; after all, the melodies do tend to demand attention on the first play of any recording by The Reds, Pinks & Purples. We heartily commend it to every indie pop fan.

Unwishing Well is out now via Slumberland Records and Tough Love Records.



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Slumberland Records page for Unwishing Well

Tough Love Records page for Unwishing Well

Thursday, May 16, 2024

"You Belong With Us" by Sad Eyed Beatniks

 

With "You Belong With Us" we welcome you to the world of Sad Eyed Beatniks. We think this song is jangling lo-fi excellence from the heart of the Bay Area's lo-fi jangle pop scene; it is a warm hug of acceptance while your tears still run down your face. What else would one expect from Kevin Linn, who runs Paisley Shirt Records when not being the sad eyed beatnik? And especially when he is assisted by Cindy/Flowertown mates Karina Gill and Mike Ramos (you see all three in the homemade video below). The song is the first single from  the upcoming Ten Brocades LP, due July 12 in digital and vinyl formats via Meritorio Records.

We don't like to over-promise, so we'll just close by saying that this album will be superb. 


 


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Meritorio page for Ten Brocades

 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

R.E. Seraphin - Fool's Mate

 


On Fool's Mate, his second full length album under his own name, R.E. Seraphin proves himself a rocker at heart. And not just a rocker, but a clever, adept rock craftsman. The songs on this album have are structured on driving rhythms and buzzing rock riffs, adorned with vocals delivered in a semi-whisper reminiscent of Jim Reid of The Jesus and Mary Chain. Ray's guitar is a standout -- versatile and commanding -- but it doesn't overshadow the songwriting or the contributions of the other players. The arrangements are lean without being stripped down, and the quality of the playing, production and songwriting is consistent throughout. This may well be one of the best rock albums we hear this year, and when add it to Ray's recent EPs and previous album, we think the man has created an admirable discography in a few years.

In addition, contributors to Fool's Mate included Joel Cusumano, Daniel Pearce, Josh Miller, Luke Robbins, Owen Adair Kelley, and Hannah Moriah. Jason Quever of the Papercuts produced the album. The album is out now via Safe Suburban Home Records and Take A Turn Records.


Friday, May 10, 2024

"Ruby" and "Somebody's Daughter" by Yea-Ming & The Rumours

 


Yea-Ming and The Rumours contemplate the false image of full contentment with "Ruby" and treat us to a look back at innocence of "Somebody's Daughter". Those are just two of the joys that await us on May 23 when new album I Can't Have It All is released via Dandy Boy Records.

No, we can't have it all, but sometimes we can have great music.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

"Apparition" by Quivers


We like all the music we feature here, but we have favorites. It is human nature. And one of those favorites is Melbourne's fantastic Quivers. They create terrific pop music, put on a great live show, and are nice people. 

Earlier today Quivers let us know that they have signed to Merge Records and will release new album Oyster Cuts on August 9. We would be thrilled if the new album matched the highs of their previous Golden Doubt, but based on the first single -- "Apparition" -- we dare dream that it will surpass their debut. It is bold, bright and confident with crunchy guitars and a buoyant chorus. This album is going to be so, so good!

As we mentioned, Quivers are a good live show and they have an ambitious tour schedule beginning in June. The dates and venues are at the bottom of this post. 



Quivers' website

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Spotify link for "Apparition"

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Tour Dates

Australian Shows:
Jun 14 Kyneton, VIC – Major Tom’s
Jun 15 Beechworth, VIC – Tanswells

Jun 21 Melbourne, VIC – Northcote Social Club

Aug 30 Adelaide, SA – Queen's Theatre

Sep 06 Ballarat, VIC – The Eastern

Sep 07 Castlemaine, VIC – The Bridge Hotel
Nov 1 Canberra, ACT – Sideways

Nov 2 Sydney, NSW – Waywards

Nov 3 Port Kembla, NSW – The Servo

Nov 15 Hobart, TAS – Altar

Nov 16 Brisbane, QLD – Black Bear Lodge


US Tours:
Jul 26 Carrboro, NC – Merge 35 Festival

July 29 Seattle, WA - Substation
Jul 31 Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
Aug 01 Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool
Aug 02 Washington, DC – Comet Ping Pong
Aug 03 Philadelphia, PA – TBA

Aug 04 Richmond, VA – Get Tight Lounge

Oct 14 Columbus, OH – Skully’s Music Diner*
Oct 15 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall*

Oct 16 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue*
Oct 17 Omaha, NE – The Waiting Room*
Oct 18 Sioux Falls, SD – Icon Lounge*
Oct 19 Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater*
Oct 21 Austin, TX – Radio / East*
Oct 22 Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall* 

Oct 23 New Orleans, LA – Toulouse Theatre*

* w/ Superchunk

Europe / U.K. Tour: (More TBA soon):

Dec 03 Dresden, DE – Ostpol
Dec 05 Hamburg, DE – Hebeb├╝hne

Dec 06 Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
Dec 10 Paris, FR – Supersonic
Dec 11 London, UK – The Lexington
Dec 12 Manchester, UK – Castle Hotel