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Frank Ene – “Flesh In A Womb”

Got a taut new one from Empty Cellar today, the first single off of the solo debut from Frank Ene. The Bay Area songwriter has lately been working with The Fresh & Onlys, and for “Flesh In A Womb” he enlists bandmate Wymond Miles to play on the track as well. Like Miles’ own solo works there’s an out of time quality to the song — a frozen ether that’s hints at the underbelly of ‘80s pop, but isn’t beholden to any true set of influences. It straddles time and breathes in the smoke from past and present through each nostril. What’s most apparent about the track, though, is the numb, weary, pre-dawn quality that hints at something gone wrong. Ene admits that the song was inspired by a particular night in a Copenhagen venue, and however that night transpired, it feels like it may have sent a shudder through Frank’s soul. That shudder is passed onto the listener with raw nerve honesty that may well have come from Scott Walker, or a very narcotized Lee Hazelwood. The video reflects the vulnerability of the track well, and was shot, as Ene says, by Ron Harrell in a dilapidated and miserable motel, off Route 99. The song provides good reason to keep perked for the LP when it arrives on July 10th. Check out the video above.



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Parsnip – “Treacle Toffee World”

Yeah! This new EP from Parsnip is heading towards the top of the list of their releases. Their last album was a killer, but somehow the pop vapors emanating off of these four tracks find them at their peak and begging for more. They already slayed with the opener “Adding Up,” and now they sweeten the deal with a new video for “Treacle Toffee World.” This one’s clipped to an organ wave and fuzz-pedal bubble that make it float. Just one more reason to get this EP in your stack, and they haven’t even gotten to my favorite, the closer, “Repeater.” Though the whole thing’s out today so take a full listen through over at Bandcamp and then do the right thing and get it in your collection.



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Paint – “Ta Fardah”

Good to see the announcement that Pedrum Siadatian (Allah-Las) has a new solo LP on the way under his Paint moniker. He struck out solo under the name briefly in 2010, but really kicked it into motion with an eponymous 2018 LP that perfectly fitted the sandblasted psych that the Las trade upon into an Ayers, Barrett bag with a bit of Rundgren thrown in as well. The record was produced by fellow L.A. scene-haunter and studio wizard Frank Maston, who’s no stranger to crafting a very specific ‘60s sound. He crops up again to produce Paint’s sophomore LP and that sound is still threaded through the excellent first single “Ta Faradah,” a soft-psych spinner that nods to Siadatian’s Iranian upbringing with nods to Middle Eastern psych and funk winding its way out on Finders Keepers and Soundways these days. In addition to Maston behind the boards band also features members of White Fence and Sheer Agony, giving the record a nice sheen that spills way beyond just the sounds here. Its a bump up from the last one, and I loved that, so keep this on your radar for July.



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Leah Senior – “Evergreen”

Aussie enclave Flightless Records has long been an enclave of explosive psychedelia, but the less raucous nooks of their catalog also hold some excellent folk and soft-psych releases that are no less affecting. Grace Cummings, The Babe Rainbow, pre-2020 Traffik Island, and Leah Senior occupy this space well and nod to a lost-era of folk that’s faded around the edges. The latter has just announced her upcoming third LP The Passing Scene, out June 12th and the first single from the album seems to be hitting the same Kodachrome crush feelings as Weyes Blood, Drugdealer, or Bedouine. An airy ‘70s Laurel Canyon quality inhabits “Evergreen,” making it nostalgic, but also familiar, like it might have always been creeping around the stereo. “Evergreen” is indeed a perfect title for the song. Check out the Renaissance-draped video above. No purchase info is lurking about yet, but as with the limited editions of Flightless releases, probably better to snap this one up quick when it does post.

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Galore – “Lydia”

One of the standouts from the recent comp from SFs Rocks in Your Head, Galore packs up what works when things are just barely hanging on. The band dredges up visions of Kleenex’ early days, Olympia upstarts, and NY No Wave luminaries (from whom the song takes its name). Gnarled, unpolished, and unapologetic, “Lydia” is an untethered careen through post-punk, loose-linked jangle, and garage pop that feels like even duct tape couldn’t keep it together and yet it works. The song is infectious even when it tears itself apart at the seams. Grit never sounded so good and the band has a full length of more of the same on the way June 1st. Definitely worth a couple of spins through the speakers.



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Modern Nature – “Harvest”

Modern Nature rev up the release of their new EP with yet another taste from the ranks, this time featuring fellow RSTB fave Itasca (Kayla Cohen) on vocals. As with the bulk of their previous album, the track is built on a low-slung tension that seems to simmer and steam through the speakers. This time, though they build a symbiosis with Cohen turning a yearning folktale into a vibrating mass of sound that’s streaked with melancholy. The song has the feeling of staring into your reflection in a fogged up mirror — immersive, meditative, but obscured by a layer that distorts the truth. This is one of the most complete visions from the band, turning their haunted pop into an aching three-minutes of salvation. The EP is out June 5th.

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Bananagun – “People Talk Too Much”

Aussies Bananagun smear the groove-streaked dance sound of West African and Brazilian funk with a dust-caked approach pulled from the camps of turntablism and reissue retrospectives. There’s a finely curated approach to tracks like “People Talk Too Much” feeling like the band have spent more than a few hours in deep-dive YouTube runs that creak into the early hours of the morning, inspiring a new bounty of grooves the next day. The band manages to make their take on the sounds feel lived in, with touches of fuzz, sun-baked choruses, and production that stops just short of 78 crackle. The band’s been littering the speakers with a few singles and now have a proper full length on the way from Anti-Fade and Full Time Hobby. Check the animated video for “People Talk,” a simple, but solid backdrop for the song’s head-nodding simmer and sizzle of horns. Feeling like a Daptone lost single or Soundway bonus cut, this one hits pretty damn hard. The record is out June 26th.

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2nd Grade – “Velodrome / My Bike”

A twofer video that serves up nothing but smiles and swooning strains, Philadelphia power-pop group 2nd Grade give good reason to be excited for their upcoming LP Hit To Hit. The band is lead by Peter Gill (Friendship, Free Cake For Every Creature) and his songwriting grabs from the power pop tradition by nature, but the ‘90s bracket of the genre by design. Where a lot of others have reached for the Bell/Chilton axis, Early Goovies, or Raspberries, there’s more than a hint of Sweet and Kweller in the bones of 2nd Grade. Its simple, but undeniable pop music for those not looking to muddy the waters. Sometimes all we need is a few crisp chords, sun-streaked skies and a cool breeze of pop to get us through the day. Gill understands this and delivers an album that’s got 24 tracks of bite-sized delights. The record is out May 29th on Double Double Whammy.



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The Stroppies – “Burning Bright”

This is another Aussie export that’s just not getting the love it should over here. The STroppies hooked up with UK label Tough Love last year for their debut, Whoosh and it was a subtle suite of jangle-pop buttered with a bit of synth that kept pace with the best releases of the year. The band’s hitting back this year with a mini-LP of sorts that’s only eight tracks, but still packs that same soft slap that made the album a necessary pickup. “Burning Bright’ turns down the heat of their jangle and replaces it with a rambling guitar line and some rolling ripples of piano for a song that helps relieve the ache inside. The song’s about a couple trying to find common ground and realizing that they’re just not going to align, but the split seems to happen amicably. Though there isn’t a clash of sparks, the melancholy sighs still sting a bit. Look Alive is out June 5th.



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Melenas – “No Puedo Pensar”

The new album from Spanish quartet Melenas finds the band exploring a few new sides, and while they’re rooted in the indie-punk scratch of many of their country’s brothers and sisters, hunkering down in Pamplona gives them a bit of a different bite from their compatriots in Barcelona. The band brings in a gauzy, shoegazey quality to “No Puedo Pensar.” Translating to “I Can’t Think,” the song centers around preoccupation to the point of constant distraction. The twinkling haze helps set the song aloft on a foam of pastel noise that lets the melodies hide and seek within the track, buffeting the feeling of being lost. This one is slowly worming its way into constant rotation over here. The new LP is out May 8th (dig)/June 5th (Physical) from Trouble in Mind.



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