Posts Tagged ‘Alternative’

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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Little Ugly Girls – “Jimmeh”

Chapter Music are doing the world a service and giving long simmering band Little Ugly Girls their due. The Tasmanian punks were a fan favorite and tore up the ‘90s around their homeland, but never issued a record until now. Given the quality of the material here, that seems almost criminal in retrospect. Along with the electric frontwoman Linda Johnston, the band included Mindy Mapp, from RSTB faves Fur (also desperately undersung, especially outside of the South Hemi). Fans of L7 take notice, you were definitely missing out without the strained stomp of the LUGs in your life. In advanve of the the album’s release this Friday take a first listen to “Jimmeh” – a heavily fuzzed assault, buttoned and bound to break by the time it gets to the final collapse. Johnston’s laryngitis growl gives the track urgency but the band holds their own in her wake with a simmering pot of noise that can barely keep from blowing its lid. For a band that shared stages with Bikini Kill, Fugazi and the White Stripes, it seems long past time that the world gets a proper intro to these vital cuts.

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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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Tony Molina

I continue to be floored by how much punch Tony Molina can pack into about fifteen full minutes of material. His albums are exercises in self-restraint, picking out heartbreaking hooks and using them once or twice before the man walks away leaving audiences wanting much, much more. His songs never sound half-finished though – despite their length – they simply breeze into all of our lives, soften our hearts and flutter on back home to Tony’s power pop soul. Call them indie pop jingles or compact-size singles, but Molina remains a master craftsman of the sort of digestible pop that can be absorbed in full over the course of a state mandated fifteen-minute retail break.

As has been well noted, here and elsewhere, the second album, like the EP that preceded it has softened the crunch from Molina’s Ocasek-era Weezer / early Fanclub leanings. He’s dug out the twelve-string here and has clearly been listening to the most tender-hearted moments of the Byrds catalog. He’s sopping up the tears shed by teens finding solace in Elliott Smith’s oeuvre and he’s still not done with the likes of Norman Blake and the boys in Fanclub’s van. He’s just moved on to their own softer side. On Kill The Lights Molina combines all these influences into a power pop pit stop that’s bittersweet, but blissful, and absolutely one of the most touching albums of the year.

More than a punk in folk’s clothing, Molina has grafted the economical length of punk’s attention span to lush arrangements that are anything but frugal when it comes to production. These are mini-epics of pop squeezed into snow globes and they dazzle with their ornate details. Every time this album comes to an end I find myself turning it back on all over again. The songs on Kill The Lights are stunners one and all and I’m pretty sure this could just be set on a loop and keep a room at attention for well past an hour. Tony might dole out his gifts in small packages, but he’s an argument in favor of quality over quantity to say the least.



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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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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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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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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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The Lavender Flu

Considering Chris Gunn’s past in The Hunches and The Hospitals, the most glaring quality that permeates Lavender Flu’s sophomore release is a renewed sense of calm. While there are pop outbursts aplenty and redline levels that would make his history proud, the record also drags up moments that recall Galaxie 500’s quiet woolen itch and The Cakekitchen’s hazy jangle. Overall the record is locked together with quite a bit more glue than Heavy Air. It seems that the time spent touring his previous record and working out these new cuts with a full band in tow had an effect on Gunn. He translates the cohesion into a slightly less sprawling take on this particular niche between grunge, garage, psych-folk and the tentpoles that propped up an indie generation in their wake.

The band relocated to a Pacific Northwest cliffside for the recordings and the cool air may have tempered the band’s direction into the reluctant sighs that waft off of Mow The Glass. Gunn still has an urge to swing the style spinner to find his muse – crunching guitars through the grunge-flecked “Dream Cleaner,” dousing the burn with country slides on “Like A Summer Thursday,” and “Distant Beings,” then twisting his experimental nerves on “A Raga Called Erik.” He even dredges himself back into the arms of noise-pop with the graveled blast that accompanies “Floor Lord”. Within the span of Mow’s relatively brief half-hour(ish) span he covers a lot of ground. It reads like a mess on paper but sounds like a dream through the speakers.

The album never feels disjointed and that’s to Gunn’s credit more than anything. It comes off as capturing a college rock heart that beat somewhere between ’87 and ’93 – heartbroken and healed, besieged by angst and calmed by numb resolve. It’s unsettled at its core, scratching at the walls that would try to contain it. For all its ambitions it truly succeeds on Gunn’s ability to throw himself into a song harder than most would ever even try.



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