Bloods – Feeelings LP

Great news for stateside fans of Aussie poppers Bloods. The band has signed to Share It Music, a new imprint headed by Sub Pop’s Cayle Sharratt that doubles as non-profit, splitting the proceeds between the artists and a charity of their chosing. The label is, naturally, distro’d by Sub Pop over here, making their new record a hell of a lot easier to get hands on than their last. Per the band’s direction, half the proceeds of Feelings will go to the Australian-based Indigenous Literacy Foundation. The sophomore LP will make it to shelves on August 17th and based on the first couple of singles (including the already loved “Feelings“) its gonna be a sugar shock of garage punk with a fuzz pop chaser. The record boasts a bigger sound than they’ve delved into in the past and a bleeding pop edge exacerbated by the production of Liam Judson (Cloud Control, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever). If you’re unfamiliar with the band, there’s no time like the next month to hunker down and get familiar.



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Sauna Youth – “Percentages”

UK DIY outfit Sauna Youth are headed back to record store shelves this fall with their latest LP Deaths. The first cut finds the band in bracing, raised hackles punk position – blaring air raid siren riffs undercut with breathless rhythm work. The track feels as if it might burst into flame at any moment. In under a minute twenty-five the band boils the blood and gets listener’s ready to careen into just about anything in their paths. Their last LP, 2015’s Distractions was sorely (almost criminally) overlooked on this side of the Atlantic, so let’s try not to make the same mistake this time around. The record lands on September 7th.



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Harlan T. Bobo

With A History of Violence songwriter Harlan T. Bobo steps out of the forgotten shadows and broken alleyways and into the sinister gel lights of a lounge peopled by addicts and guarded by a coded knock you’re definitely not privy to. The album elevates Bobo’s songwriting (though it wasn’t exactly slouching) to some of his finest and most pointed performances yet. He’s embracing several decades of Nick Cave, stretching from The Birthday Party scratch to the towering demon work of Cave’s latter-day output. He pours through the soul of Lou Reed’s most weathered screeds, picking at the bones Lou’s most hangdog heaviness. Bobo crawls from the cigarette-hung punk mangle of “Spiders,” – a decidedly driven and ferocious cut that’s reaching for its place among the Verlaine-veined fallout of ’78 – to his spot next to the pedestal of the haunted troubadour class. He’s still lighting sonic candles to raise the ghost of the dearly departed Leonard Cohen, and in some cases the voodoo appears to be taking hold.

Harlan wields a whiskey boiled croon better than most, slinking his way through tales of women, ghosts and grizzled souls with the lived-in spirit of a man possibly possessed and most certainly haunted. He writes characters that crawl the stage in search of solace, though they always seem to die a dime short of redemption. When the tempos boil over his songs live without care or conscience, but the consequences always come back to haunt his gallows work on the slower numbers. He’s long been scratching out ring worn gutwrenchers hung heavy with the musk of roadside motel stretches, but with A History of Violence he’s brought this vision to life like never before. The album is visceral and engrossing, a sinister triumph that’s sopped up the gutter and hung it in a crooked frame.




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Mope City – “Medicine Drawer”

Aussie trio Mope City dig into ’90s downer rock on the first single from their sophomore LP for Tenth Court. The album, appropriately featuring a mix job from iconic ’90s producer Kramer (Galaxie 500, Low), is preceded by the slow burn single “Medicine Drawer.” The track indulges in the same mescaline aesthetics of many bands the producer would put his stamp on, dirging its way through a cloud of ’90s disaffection that brings back more than a tinge of high school hankering. The song is ringed by a halo of cold humidity and the guitars pull themselves tight around the hangdog vocals of the band’s Matt Neville. Interested to see how this fleshes out into a full length affair when the record hits in October.



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Lithics – “Photograph, You Of”

Following up a biting album for Kill Rock Stars earlier in the year, Lithics waste no time with a follow-up single for SF label Thrilling Living. The first cut traverses similar terrain to the long player, hammered metal guitars lurch and twitch their way through a menacing dance, perching precariously to the edge of mania. There’s an insistent rhythm that underpins this track – dirgey, dogged, and driven. This one hits just as hard if not harder than anything I’ve heard from the band to this point, still oddly hypnotic and catchy in its own way but definitely not looking to soften the impact that those serrated strings pull off with any chewy hooks. Billed as a double-A side, the flip of can only hope to match the open-handed smack that “Photograph, You Of” delivers. 2018 pushes Lithics to the top of the pile of post-punks looking to make good. I suggest you keep an ear on them.



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Primo!

Never a dull moment rolling out of the Australian scene these days and Primo are testament to that. The trio (recently expanded to a quartet with Amy Hill of Dick Diver) pins down a portion of post-punk that relies on sparse aesthetics, driving bass lines and a dash or two of jangle to get their message through. Their debut, Amici, focuses on rat race drudgery, as referenced cheekily in the band’s business attire on the cover. They posit another world for themselves where accounts receivable is the only option and office blocks spring up like prison walls. But the group knows that every suburb’s got an underground leaning back against that dreaded slide into routine. They churn their unrest into knuckle-cracking percussive snaps, guitar lines itchy as wool on a summer’s day and harmonies that band them together against the ebbing edge of boredom and rote living.

Even with its lyrical lashing of the system and perpetual pining for a life less taupe, the album comes off with a softer impact than many of their post-punk peers. They’re pushing back against the ballast of suburban expectations but the album lands with a collective sigh rather than a defiant scream. Where others are reaching for the acerbic trappings of Young Marble Giants, Bush Tetras or The Slits, Primo take a page out of twee and affix pillowy three-part harmonies to their twitching instrumentals. The approach lures listeners in before setting things straight with their screeds on societal weight.

At a scant twenty-two minutes the record is just a shot over EP territory, but the band makes good time out of their brief spin around the table. They aren’t tearing the system down outright, but they’re here for the rest of us work-a-day nobodies looking to break out of data entry and see who’s coming with us. In a year that’s been pock-marked by post-punk it’s a nice take on the genre that’s helped in no small turn by some excellent hooks and a good dollop of cheeky charm.



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Ty Segall & White Fence

Insane schedules and myriad commitments can’t keep Ty and Tim from gravitating back together it seems. While Hair wasn’t received as a major event on its release, it remains a frozen moment of fuzz-whacked garage-psych that’s a highlight in both artists’ catalogs. Segall was but an upstart wading his way through seven-inch stacks to nestle albums one after another until the accolades couldn’t help but catch up to his frantic pace. Tim was fresh from his years in Darker My Love and building a wobbly psych-pop prominence of his own. The album lit a match on the powder keg of creativity that was buried knee deep in Syd Barret B-sides, deleted Pretty Things cuts and the kind of Nuggets-worthy references that stretched from July to Grapefruit and from Kaleidoscope to, well, Kaleidoscope (UK).

Seven years on from their first matchup the pair are worlds removed from the scrappy sonics that defined them both in that moment. Still, with the best of a decade behind us, its good to see that the pair have no intentions of digging in another pile of toys to build their collaborative sound. Joy bears many of the best hallmarks of Hair with an improved fidelity and the steady hands of two artists who know exactly what they love and how to pull it off. The album is stuffed with psych pop that still chews at the same wobbly wrappers littered behind by Barret (Presley’s influence one can only assume) but they also charge head on to some fuzzier fodder that’s got Ty’s footprints firmly embedded in its DNA.

Joy’s only stumble can be its apparent need to stuff itself to the seams. While its stretchier length doesn’t give it the same edge of your seat whiplash that accompanied Hair, the duo takes advantage of the space to shake out all their ideas. T&T fleck their creation with echoplex blowback and spine compressing feedback. They dip into post-Mothers chewed psych-soul mantras, wonky intermediary tracks that would make the Small Faces proud, and folk pop that sees them reaching for shades of Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher. Though, unlike that songwriting pair, they’re clearly not striving for perfection. There are some great cuts on Joy and a whole lot more that sound like two crate diggers riffing on one another. Its fun, because you can feel them having fun but it also feels a bit like they’re missing the opportunity to stuff it full of hits.





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The Goon Sax – “Make Time For Love”

For their sophomore album, Brisbane’s The Goon Sax have taken all the scrappy sincerity and stripped back brilliance of their debut and pushed harder until they’ve shined their sound into pop perfection. The band is till hitting on some heavy hitters from the new wave / post-punk grab bag (they cite time spent with Liquid Liquid and ESG on the speakers) and much of that era’s rhythmic jerk comes through on “Make Time For Love.” The song’s nowhere as dry as either of those would let on though, pinning those rhythms to the grandiose melodies of Talking Heads and Talk Talk, then flooding the track with sprightly horns and swooning strings.

They do the song one better by conjuring up a dazzling video that’s filled with fantasy, animation and stark black and white relief. If I weren’t already pretty damn excited for this follow up to their 2016 sleeper hit, this would likely be the kicker. The new LP is out September 14th and from all accounts this one’s going to be a high-water mark for the band and 2018.



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Danny Graham – S/T

Since it seems there’s still no light at the bottom of the well of overlooked and lost releases out there, it’s heartening to come across a release like Dany Graham’s eponymous 1980 LP. Despite the time stamp showing the dawn of the ’80s, the record is rooted firmly in wobbly ‘70s songwriter territory, sharing a bent sense of pop with the R. Stevie Moore / Bobb Trimble / Carl Simmons set, but in spirit it perhaps sidles up most closely with Deep Freeze Mice. Like the Mice the album has a ‘60s hangover that’s squeezed through a scrappy private press filter. The record was such a non-starter that when contacted years later by issuing label Xerox searching for information on Graham, many of the session players didn’t even know the album had seen light originally.

There are moments of pure pop brilliance on the album, albeit refracted through rough production patches, an apparent lack of editing and a nice warm lap of hiss. Graham nails softball soul (“Early Morning Heatwave”), mad-eyed folk-pop (“We’ll Make A Deal (In Amsterdam), “Love Start”) and soft rock (“Feeling You Beside Me”). As an actual album, its admittedly a bit uneven, but as a collection it wraps up all of the brain fragments Graham let slip through the tape in fine form. There’s definitely a certain type of collector that’s going to revel in this and even more cultivators of lost psychedelic ephemera who are going to find the missing piece in their mixtape of melted pop they’ve been searching for. Kudos to Xerox for digging up this treasure and with word they’re also shining up Graham’s sole other release for a new issue, it seems there’s more to love on the way.




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Wimps

On their third album, Seattle’s Wimps knock the production into gear and embrace the best moments of squirm pop that slid from the tail of punk into the birth of New Wave. They trade in a brand of sax squall that hits like a belt sander to their chunky hooks. They rope in heat exhausted synth lines to the kind of twitchy punk that would make Devo and Magazine proud. There’s no small love for power pop in the band’s sound either, they wrap their heads around pop and punk (without necessarily combining the two) and work it out like Ric Ocasek was twiddling knobs in the nineties when this one was made. While dipping their toes into Slacker pop from a lyrical standpoint, the band never lose a moment to sweat on the tempos. They’re couch surfing and grousing about procrastination but damn well motivated when it comes to moving a crowd.

The band has a penchant for elevating the mundane – pontificating about their love of cheese pizzas, dragging ass around the house and penning odes to Monday like Garfield hopped up amphetamines waiting for his intro by Perter Ivers before they lay waste to the set of New Wave Theater. They’re tapping into tried and true feelings but making the banal brilliant, flooding the phones with a sparkling barrage of hooks twisted with enough tin foil freakout to make it more than nineties pogo retread digging into the stack of discount bin weirdness from the previous decade. This seems like it could easily slip between the cracks of 2018, but don’t sleep on Wimps. This one cuts with glee and makes any day just a bit more bearable with its lash of levity.




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