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Papercuts – “Laughing Man”

Slumberland’s having quite a year so far and with new releases on the way from Peel Dream Magazine, Wolfhounds and now Papercuts, its looking to get that much better. Its been about four years since Jason Quever graced the world with a Papercuts LP, though he’s been plenty busy in the meantime – working with Luna, Beach House, Elisa Ambrogio and producing this year’s great Massage LP. After bouncing around from Gnomonsong to Sub Pop and Easy Sound, Slumberland seems like a good fit for the lush sounds of Parallel Universe Blues. The first cut from the album, “Laughing Man,” sees Quever working under a gorgeous haze. The song steps down on muted jangles but they’re lost in an elusive tangle of warm fuzz and echoed bliss. Good to have Jason back on the scene and looking forward to where the rest of Blues leads.



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Anna St. Louis – “Understand”

Well there seems to be a unanimous love for this today, but hell, “Understand” is a hard song to ignore. St. Louis’ debut tape for Mare / Woodsist was homespun, sounding like a backporch 8-track session that traded in the intimate and spare. Going in with that cassette in mind, the polish on this first peek at her new album, If Only There Was a River, is considerable. The production from Kyle Thomas (King Tuff) and Kevin Morby has wrangled her beautiful songcraft into the kind of lush country that often fell by the wayside commercially but accrued critical fans and massive cult followings. The label has name checked Townes here, and that’s not far off, but this one’s got more of a Guy Clark vibe (think “She Ain’t Going Nowhere”) mixed with the pristine pop of Nico’s less bracing days.

St. Louis’ vocals ring rich and true, imbuing the song with the kind of classic charm that endears vocalists like Françoise Hardy, Bridget St. John or the aforementioned Nico to a certain swath of filmmakers. The accompanying video is a slow crawl through gorgeous terrain and works as a nice backdrop to the stunner that Anna lays on us all with this song. Gotta hope the rest of the album lives up to this, but with that crew attached and her songwriting skills, it might be safe to rest easy in that department. The LP is out in October, again on Mare / Woodist.



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School Damage – “Meeting Halfway”

School Damage swing in with their second single off of the upcoming A to X and it solidifies this as one of the top tier releases to get excited for this summer. The track’s a Jake-led ripper charging in high on a swell of keys and backup coos. It’s proof positive that the band has wrapped up post-punk and jangle into the perfect pop package for hot weather hi-jinks. Sweetening the pot is an excellent stop-motion video that’s an aesthetic match for the song’s off-kilter pounce. Much respect to the band’s Carolyn Hawkins for the time-intensive process it must have taken to get this together. If this record isn’t on your list of pre-Fall necessities then rectify that immediately. The LP’s out at the end of August on Chapter Music.

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Terry – “Bureau”

Have I been able to contain my excitement over the new Terry LP? Not quite. The band’s on a streak, with two great LPs under their belts already. The third LP shows no signs of flagging as they continue to mine a strain of post-punk peppered with twang and salt n’ honey harmonies that are soothing yet unpolished. The band let loose one of the album’s most ecstatic singles, “The Whip,” a few weeks back and now they follow it up with the cooler-headed “Bureau,” a stunner in its own right. Terry’s strength lies in an ability to push past any of the well-worn ruts of post-punk. They’re embracing the ethos of bands who were set free to run dub and punk and pop together into a caustic clash, but they’re not tied down to the set of stencils that so many modern makers seem to use.

They pair the new song with a grit n’ glare video that’s transportation heavy – grabbing the ‘70s aesthetics and pushing them through a DIY filter. Its all good fun and serves to further the excitement for the Upset The Rhythm release of I’m Terry at the end of the month. If you’re in the UK, they’re even trotting the show out live (lucky bastards) so hit that up to see how these songs shake out in the room.



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Moody Beaches – “Modes”

Moody Beaches debut, Weird Friends is a terse, nailbitten romp through ’90s stomp that’s built on muscular riffs and urgent vocals. The band knocks through a hit list of influences that scoop up Breeders (round about the Pod days), Green River and L7 vibes. The wax finally hit the shelves last week and in turn they release a third track off of the album paired with an occult-themed video that bottles up menace in the track. Definitely recommended if you’re knocking through essential Aussie releases this year.



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The Shifters – “Straight Lines”

Aussie scrappers The Shifters caught my ear with their first single, the rat race takedown “Work, Life, Gym, etc” and they don’t disappoint with another sneak peak into the workings of the upcoming Have A Cunning Plan. “Straight Lines” digs into the current OZ trend of shaggy indies that feel like kitchen sing-a-longs – true embracers of the slacker-pop ethos, the recline into the comfort of this track and can’t help but make the listener feel included in the camaraderie. The song is stuffed to the stitches with jangles and woozy keys and a low-key day in the life tale of taking the edge off and avoiding responsibility. The track’s a charmer, which could easily be said about the whole of their upcoming LP for Trouble in Mind. Don’t snooze on this one.




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Doe – “Heated”

UK trio Doe follow on their 2016 album, Some Things Last Longer Than You, with a sophomore record for Glasgow’s Big Scary Monsters (on Topshelf in the US). The album embraces themes of getting older, finding freedom in maturity and solace in death. While the subject matter is heavy, there’s still plenty of room for hooks. The first track, “Heated,” dredges up visions of ’90s crunch pop from Veruca Salt and they’re picking at a lot of the same alt bones that drove last year’s standout from Charley Bliss. The band aren’t content to be backed into a genre corner, though. The track pushes and pulls between quiet, grinning contempt and explosive fuzz riffs that push for the kind of catharsis that fits their aim of growing up without letting the anchor of youth weigh you down or tie you up. Gonna want to hear some more of this record, but this is a nice opening shot and a step up from their DIY past.

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Our Girl – “In My Head”

UK indie trio Our Girl have had some excellent run up singles in advance of their debut, Stranger Today. They pair their latest cut, “In My Head,” a dark, rumbling burner slashed by moody guitars, with a surreal cut n’ paste video that drops the second Michel Gondry reference of the day. The band cites The Science of Sleep as an inspiration and it’s easy to see how the collage work pulls from his melancholy love story. The track is a sobering tale of miscommunication with a cooldown hook and a frothing scratch of feedback that threatens menace from behind the somber vocals. The band’s record arrives next month and this video serves as a pretty strong argument in favor of putting in on the ol’ wishlist.

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David Israel – “Car Commercial”

Some prime jangle-pop coming your way from David Israel via his new single “Car Commercial.” The cut is off his recent LP for Austin Town Hall’s in-house (in-hall?) label. Built on a bed of buoyant guitar, the track lopes along with a quick step before aerating into a spacey mid-section that sends the sunny surf vibes off the rails and into the cosmos. Underpinning Israel’s deep-set vocals, the track is a bundle of contradictions that all work to form an alt-pop nugget that’s hard to shake.

The visuals here bring to mind Michel Gondry’s DIY dreamscapes, pulling prospective car buyers through a virtual reality headache with Israel giving the hard sell. While the single’s a standout, it’s definitely worth checking in to the rest of this record as well. Its got a bevy of Austin talent on board including members of Literature, A Giant Dog, and Sweet Talk. Check out the cable access vibes and sprightly jangles above.



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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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