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Vinyl Staircase – “Cherry”

Over here in The States, the rolodex of young British bands can sometimes go unchecked – people seem to get stuck in the old “if I can’t see ‘em who gives a crap” mentality. But weaving among the overhyped excess across the pond there are still plenty of young’uns with their hearts and guitars in the right place. Vinyl Staircases’ debut EP culls together four rather infectious tracks, with lead single “Cherry” leading the way. The track is wholeheartedly in the pocket ‘90s holdovers, but mixing their clans in a nice way, reimagining the Blur crowd mixing it up with The Dandy Warhols and BJM for a Britpop that swings a bit more paisley than mod. The track and vid are a whole lot of fun, and along with follow-up single “Dandelion Wine” the EP shows a band that’s got a lot more to give.

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Bodega – “Jack In Titanic”

Brooklyn’s Bodega have captured the spirit of a generation raised on television and then dipped in the deep end of the internet. The band explores themes of stereotypical masculinity learned from hours watching celluloid heroes. Its hard not to sympathize with the notion of mixing memories with plotlines and the remote buttons as babysitter. The band ties the themes up in their typically austere, yet pervasively effective appropriation of art-punk poses. Along with much of the rest of their debut, Endless Scroll, the song puts the hammer to the nail on looking back with rosey rear view. This record gets more endearing with each listen. Catch the clip above.



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The Stroppies – “Maddest Moments”

Melbourne’s Stroppies have been hashing things out in the short format following their debut cassette (and subsequent vinyl reissue on Tough Love). The a-side to their latest single “Maddest Moments” solidifies their rough-edged, smoke-ring sound but ekes in a promise of something more to come. It’s a no-frills jangler that chews on social anxieties, brimming with a subtle sweetness. This, along with their “It’s A Hit” platter from Hobbies Galore show the band working through the kitchen studio recording process and off the cuff riffs, but heading back towards the softer blows of their deubt. The video riffs on the live band clips that stack the channels, but with a pinprick of malaise that shows the band being bored by their own process. Looking to see where these guy are headed, but enjoying the journey just the same.



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Cool Maritime – “Sharing Waves”

Cool Maritime blends the rippling strains of Kosmiche with the mossy, woodsy intimacy of field recordings. In the video for the title track off his upcoming LP, Sharing Waves, Sean Hellfritsch builds the perfect scene, utilizing his “lunchbox” modular synth in the hazy morning woods far from the concerns of the rest of humanity. The track, like the bulk of Cool Maritime’s work, is reflective and peaceful – a virtual volume knob for the screaming world outside clamoring for attention. The LP, his second for Leaving Records, promises a full-time dropout from the din, but in the meantim this is a nice little respite from mounting angst.

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Vital Idles – “Solid States”

Glasgow DIY-ers Vital Idles give a warm up to their upcoming album with the stark, bristly “Solid States.” The band have nailed the less is more punk aesthetic that drove classics from Young Marble Giants and The Slits and they bring that vibe out in full force here. There’s a detached quality to the song, ably reflected in the accompanying video of the band looking sullen at best and bored for the majority of the clip. The song is calm at first blush, but revels in a kind of below the surface restlessness that’s crackling with static electricity – bone dry but ready to bite when you least expect it. Looking forward to more from these folks.



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Dog Chocolate – “Tesco Flag”

OK I’ll be the first to admit I’ve often balked at UK noise-poppers Dog Chocolate based on that name alone. It’s abhorrent, but not wholly off base on the sound of a band that’s enticing yet corrosive in nature. The band’s latest single, “Tesco Flag,” is scotch taped to a clanking rhythm that gives way to nauseous waves of synth overload, rusted through guitar tones and vocal chaos. Propulsive, disjointed and ripped to shreds by the last note, the song boasts plenty to love. The band pairs this amphetamine noise-dive with a bonkers video of the band dressed as nits tearing it up in the woods (though I suppose those trees are meant to be hair, eh). Either way it’s a corker of a song and gives me pause on my years of write-off on the band based on superficial means.


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Mike Donovan – “Cold Shine”

Coming close on the heels of the last Sic Alps album, Mike Donovan is back this year with his second solo record for Drag City. His last album under his given name was a particular favorite for me, sanding down the noisy edges of Donovan’s work and embracing the somber folk that resides at his core. “Cold Shine” is certainly pulling for the same well, turning perhaps even a bit starker than his last affair. The accompanying video depicts the fallout from filmmaker Betty Nguyen’s lost home during the recent Thomas Fire disaster this winter. The video is a somber accompaniment to the track and actually fits it quite well tonally. Despite the crushing depression that’s coming hand and hand with both the song and video, this is still some of Donovan’s finest and a lovely song for staring into the abyss.

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Pretty Lightning – “This Machine Is Running”

If you missed out on the late 2017 release from Pretty Lightning (guilty) then there’s still time to catch up on the band’s motorik blast via this hypnotic new video for the excellent, “This Machine is Running.” The video is a dizzying display of color and light and it only serves to underscore the track’s hammerhead blast of psychedelic pop. Needless to say, as with most Fuzz Club releases, if this is missing from your shelf then you need to right the wrong. At the very least run this video on repeat for a good hour to cure what ails ya.



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Amyl and the Sniffers – “Cup of Destiny”

Flightless Records picks up Melbourne punks Amyl and the Sniffers, whose last record on Homeless saw them boiling down The Adverts’ snottiness with breathless guitar beatings worthy of The Dead Boys or The Germs. The new single, “Cup of Destiny” garners a video that’s a straight ‘70s rumble, echoing these sneer-lipped influences and ushering in their own dirt-punk credentials. It’s clear from any time spent with Amyl on the speakers that vocalist Amy Taylor is a natural born belter, amping up the fever pitch with her sore-throat howl. The band’s done time opening for some heavy hitters here and at home, so it seems that the upcoming LP might be one to watch out for.



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RF Shannon – “Black Madonna, So Divine”

Texan’s RF Shannon are making a good case for their upcoming album Trickster Blues with the record’s country lacquered second single “Black Madonna, So Divine.” The song is driven by Shan Renfro’s dream blurred vocals and pushed further by the cries of slide guitar that add to the bittersweet blush of the song. Pushing the surreal, dreamlike quality even further is the gorgeous cinematography of Melissa Cha, who renders the whole thing into a dessert sweatlodge vision that dissipates in a puff of dust. Lovely stuff.



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