Posts Tagged ‘Emotional Response’

Latitude

San Francisco never ceases to throw the pop gauntlet. Whether its jangle-pop, garage sneer, or something less brittle, the town’s weathering their seismic changes, at least in the music sector. The sophomore LP from Latitude works its way into the bloodstream more easily than some of their adjacent compatriots. With a release on Emotional Response, the LP wraps a waft of jangle around ‘80s synth-pop and ‘70s disco hangover. Amy Fowler’s vocals have drawn some larger than life comparisons — with her deep, imploring delivery falling between Stevie and Debbie, though for me it lands in even company with indie mainstay Meredith Metcalf (Music Go Music, Bodies of Water). The songs on Mystic Hotline explore some similar territory with MGM, mopping up the post-disco hangover that the band found so verdant and marrying it with a bit of a post-punk vibrancy that’s rubbery, but rife with the thick, neon glint of keys.

There’s a bucolic restlessness to the album, lounged, yet dreaming of a more conflicted life. The album’s perch between post-punk’s urgency and new wave’s radiant smear gives the album a light tension. The band clearly wants to push towards the rhythmic pulse and angular angst, but they’re not quite as lean and hungry as the genre requires and as such they bleed over into the smudged romanticism of the New Wave queens quite often. The urge to dance is always bubbling below the surface, if not overtly taking the reigns and the thrum snaps Latitude out of complacency. While the band would love to languish in the shadows it’s hard to resist the pull of a propulsive beat and the heat of bodies near one another in thrall to the pulse. The band’s at their best, though, when the slightly nerdy needs of ‘80s pop take over and the synths skew towards arpeggiation and the neon glow squiggles into a discordant shimmy. There’s a gloss here that’s hard to shake, but when the band lets their makeup fade, they’re found out for the endearing pop academics they are.




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Boyracer – “Crack The Red”

Got another volley of fuzz from Boyracer, who are just coming into their 13th album. Having blossomed in the ‘90s, working through labels like Slumberland and Sarah, they became nothing if not prolific ambassadors of indie pop over the years. While the lineups would change, the buoyant, blistering songwriting of Stewart Anderson remained a constant and as luck would have it the world found itself ready to love indie-pop with a newfound enthusiasm over the last decade or so and the band’s come into a rather pervasive second (or third) wind. “Crack The Red” is a fuzz-rumbled ripper that works as an ode to a well-earned bottle at the end of the day. While the guitars are set to sunburn, the harmonies cool it off and let the song sink into the skin. The band’s lengthy tenure lets them call in a whole host of friends on the new LP. While Burnt Palms’ Christina Riley joins as a permanent member there are pop-ins from Mary Wyer and Anita Rayner (Even As We Speak), Snowy (Ocean Party), Penny McBride (Cannanes) and Boyracer roster legacies from Simon Guild, Laura Bridge, Matty Green, Jen Turrell, Ged McGurn and Ara Hacopian. The video embraces the bottle in the only way a pandemic vid can – Anderson leads the charge with a whole host of friends sharing the screen to sympathize with a glass. If you’ve missed out on the record, I’d recommend getting it onto the decks.

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Mick Trouble

When word of Mick Trouble first surfaced in 2017 the hazy narrative centered around a lost artist that just missed his luck by backing out of a John Peel session and then subsequently disappeared to the winds. Owing to the fact that pretty much every song by Mick Trouble sounds like a garden shed discovery of a lost tape from The Television Personalities circa ’78-81, the story seemed plausible as any. Obfuscation aside, however, the band is in fact the spot-on send up of Jed Smith from latter day indie-pop stalwarts My Teenage Stride, themselves plenty indebted to the jangled agenda of that same time period. If you’re keeping tabs on 2019, Smith has also already dazzled with his contributions to Jeanines, backing up Alicia Hyman’s songs with a breezy swing.

Back to Trouble, though. A few listens in to … Here’s The Mick Trouble LP and the figment of Smith’s imagination begins to take more shape than on the previous EP. Smith inhabits the aura of Dan Treacy, from his hi-tone strums to the crooked smile that inhabits every scrap of TVP’s catalog. “In a year that sees Fire Record dump two major collections of vintage Television Personalities singles collections on the world though, why would we want a facsimile,” you ask? Because there’s every chance you’re not gonna get a new Television Personalities record, and it’s definitely not gonna grace the hallmarks of the ‘70s singularity that sparked this particular version of their sound. Because Smith’s doing it so well that if you close your eyes, time melts away and the six-string spirits of a half-cocked past come seeping through the floorboards ready to get pissed and sweat indie pop for you once again.

So be grateful or be dismissive if you must, but be ready to smile at least a little bit at the wonderful weirdness and absolute beauty of Mick Trouble. He’s been lost and found and somewhere in between the ghost of Bill Grundy will smile on us all and regale us with another tchune.



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Seablite

If, perhaps the blurred photo and serif font on the cover didn’t send your shoegaze-sense a-tingling, it’s fair to say San Francisco’s Seablite are doused in the fuzzy familiars of the genre, though they’re splicing it with just the right amount of jangle to make yer heart flutter. Occasionally they attempt to balance the poles of their sound but, more often than not, they get tangled up. They send the buoyant bounce of sunshine strum crashing headlong into the seafoam crush of fuzz that creeps through the wires with a giddying rush. They pick at the faded memory of schoolbook stickers – tracing hearts over the sighs of The Softies and the headrush haze of Pale Saints. They frame their soft-focus stories in shade of bittersweet swoon that’s half infatuation, half gut-punch heartwrench.

While I’m probably a touch biased, I find the band succeeds most when they’re leaning towards the janglier material. I’m all for Shoegaze’s wallow, but drop a song too far into the fuzzcut k-hole and I start to drift off. When they kick a just a twinge of Talulah Gosh into the mix I feel like they hit the sweet spot – chasing the shimmer on tracks “Lollipop Crush,” “Pillbox,” and “House of Papercuts.” Its always nice to see that there are a few bands still raised and rendered on Creation and early 4AD. The DNA of these songs certainly hangs in the air like a specter, but the band pulls off the moves like more than just an homage blown to full size. They imbue Grass Stains & Novocaine with an airy ache that lingers long after the last note dissipates into the atmosphere.



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Boyracer – “Strong Arms / Teardrops”

Emotional Response continues to be a lifeline to Sarah Records in the here and now. After a string of reissues, including Even As We Speak, Action Painting, and Boyracer’s own earl EPs, the label is now working with the band on a new album due out later in the year But, bonus on bonus, these two non-album cuts have found their way out into the world early via a 75-run lathe cut single. “Strong Arms” is picks up nicely where vintage Boyracer left off, pinning a splash of fuzz to the jangle that long pervaded the Sarah roster. The song tumbles over itself in pure exhumeerance, veering wildly in its lane and spilling confetti out of the windows as it speeds away. The flip isn’t quite as breathless, but its a jolt of joy nontheless, if you can wrap old habits around Boyracer sneering about streaming albums. For fans of the band’s career (which stretched long after the seminal label folded through Slumberland, A Turntable Friend and Fluff Records) this is another great entry to their pristine run.



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Possum Moods – “Captian”

Featuring members from revered bands Cannanes and Boy Racer, Possum Moods comes with some expectations in tow. Thankfully, they easily make good on them. “Captain” is a wistful, gorgeous track that floats on a bed of bubbling bass, frothy keys and golden harmonies. The song’s indie pop primrose is ripe leaving the listener floating in a haze that’s as honeyed as the sunsets in the background of their toy-augmented video. The clip lends a homegrown charm to the song’s already humble hum-able tone. Check it out above and get into the band’s third album out now on Emotional Response.



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The Ocean Party

Its hard not to view the latest melancholic masterstroke from Melbourne’s The Ocean Party in the tragic view of the recent loss of one of their members. Just over a week out from the album’s release the band lost member Zac Denton (also of Ciggie Witch, Pregnancy) to the sudden onset of a brain cyst. At six members deep, the band is stuffed with songwriters, but like the rest, Zac’s voice added to the band’s surprisingly complex resolve and gorgeous glimmer of hope in an overwhelming world. The Oddfellows’ Hall, was recorded in the titular building, a community meeting center in New South Wales, and the out of studio locale adds its own bit of character to an album that’s also a bit unconventional. The record merges styles seamlessly, slipping from country-flecked indie to pulsing new wave offspring while offering a bit of a buoy and ballast to listeners in need.

There aren’t any hard divisions between the genre hops and that in itself gives the album a welcome cohesiveness. When the drum patterns rise up, there are still a few melancholy slides that find their way into the mix and even the downbeat strummers still have an undeniable pop center. To their credit, despite Ocean Party’s deep bench of songwriters, the tone retains an even whiff of bittersweet bliss. While each member adds their own color – sometimes adopting the laconic lounge licks of Kurt Vile, sometimes picking at an updated vision of the bedroom dancing that inspired The Postal Service, and most often finding themselves tangled in a jangle n’ twang that’s all their own – they all seem to keep a collective spirit in-tact.

Its humble and human, warm and weary. There’s an everyman appeal to the album that’s endearing. It’s a fitting swansong for Denton, albeit one that comes far too soon. As the album examines the personal anxieties, quiet triumphs, and daily stumbles that each member endured and exemplified, it’s a little piece of the artists to hold onto – a balm for the listener and players alike.



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The Ocean Party – “What Its Worth”

The second single off of The Ocean Party’s upcoming The Oddfellows Hall takes a more autumnal turn than the jangly hues of first peek “Off and On.” The new track creeps in slowly, stretching out amid the quietude and a gentle lap of tape hiss. When the band cracks through they’re careful not to break the spell, as the song hinges on a loping beat, three-part harmonies and a slew of sunset slides. The band relocated to the titular community hall in New South Wales to record the album and that homeliness and humbleness comes shining through the track. There’s a bittersweet pang to the song, but in many ways its more of a warm hug to help that pang pass. If there were such a thing as scarf weather rock, then this would certainly be the forerunner of the sound. The album is an attempt to crossexamine landmark moments in each of the six band members’ lives, and as such its wrought with sly smiles, self-doubt, anxiety and gentle resolve. Don’t let this one sneak out of view in the bustling release days ahead, as “What Its Worth” should attest, The Oddfelows Hall is full of lovely little gems to soothe the soul.


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