Posts Tagged ‘Indie Pop’

Comet Gain – “If Not Tomorrow” b/w “I Was More of a Mess Then”

If there’s one thing that can be counted on from Comet Gain, the long running UK jangle-pop hearthrobs, its that any release will be rife with earworms. Furthermore those earworms will burrow their way into your life until they become new favorites. Membership changes, labels change, even styles change – from the upbeat clatter of Réalistes to the polished punk hijinks of catalog highlight Howl of the Lonely Crowd and on down to the bittersweet bliss of Paperback Ghosts – the band always jangles, but they’re willing ping-pong between camps that employ the sound. They’re post-punks with a pop heart, indie rockers with a ’77 punk sneer in their back pockets, and this new single-sized offering is the latest bit of pop-strummin’ goodness from their ranks.

The band’s working up a potpourri of an album for Tapete and “If Not Tomorrow” marks the first peek under the hood. The A-side’s not wholly out of line with their aforementioned 2014 heartbreaker Paperback Ghosts, and its definitely showcasing the band’s autumnal sweet side. The guitar line’s bouncing gently, lapping against the swells of organ and a promise of change from David Feck’s earnest croon. While I prefer my Comet Gain with a bit of the bite, I can’t say no to a hummably good jangler that feels like a lost Go-Betweens outtake. The b-side pops the tempo up and dirties the mix with a bit of fuzz and Sarah Bleach running down the regrets. Its a fine pairing and only whets the appetite for more. If you’re already on board the Comet, this won’t knock you loose. If you’re new to the ride, then maybe take this as inspiration to parse back through one of indie pop’s greatest catalogs.


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Crepes – “As You Go”

It’s a nice surprise this morning to see that Aussie pop wranglers Crepes are back at it, with a new album scheduled for October 26th. Following on the low-key single “Bicycle Man,” which will appear on the album as well, the band releases the slinking, “As You Go.” The song retains the band’s attention to glossy pop, but this time they’re keeping things much closer to the vest. The track builds slow, not rushing too hard into the sunshine hooks that splattered their previous album, instead flashing a quick bite of pop on the chorus before releasing the song’s tension with a flurry of jazz-flecked guitar. The song, like “Bicycle Man” seems to be slicing some post-disco bass into their repertoire and it falls far from the current crop of Aussie indies that have taken root in the ‘90s. The first single had me pleasantly perplexed, but with “As You Go,” I’m properly excited for this new Crepes album.


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Molly Nilsson – “Days of Dust”

Some great singles have been trickling out of the upcoming Molly Nilsson album Twenty Twenty. “Days of Dust” might top them all, though. The song is insistent, built on a skipping-heart beat, but it’s also slightly laconic with more than a twist of wistfulness threading through her lyrics and a squint of sun soaking around the edges. Unlike some of the synthpop that’s popped up from the new album, this one is a pure guitar gem that’s a kindred spirit to recent albums by David West and Business of Dreams, capturing the kind of ‘80s heartache that’s always better in hindsight. She pairs the rose-tinted single with one of the simpler video setups so far, just some live shots, aimless and free as late summer. This one’s staying on repeat.

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EZTV – “Daytime”

A nice little one off from RSTB faves EZTV today. The band is about to embark on a scant East Coast tour with Ex Hex and the video serves as non-album bonus in preparation. The song is breezy as hell, dipping into their well of jangles full force. “Daytime” is swelling with ennui, recounting the pleasures of wandering aimlessly. While its no new album proper, its a great extra from an oft underrated band. The accompanying video has a day in the life quality of touring, which is pleasant, but mostly just serves as some nice drapery on a great track.

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Loose Tooth

Melbourne’s Loose Tooth (not to be confused with the Father/Daughter band of the same name) had a promising EP out last year and with their debut for Milk! they more than make good on those promises. The full-length processes knotty post-punk bass lines and breathless jangles, then pastes them to wide-eyed indie pop for a record that’s constantly familiar and endearingly catchy. They’re passing over the threadbare fare that’s been popping up among their countrymen and instead pushing for a more polished sound that’s got its head in the past – think The Passions mixing it up with members Look Blue Go Purple and Close Lobsters – yet still winds up sounding timeless.

The crux of Keep On is the band’s ability to weave starry-eyed delivery with impeccable atmospheres. Snap on a keen use of three-part harmonies that never get syrupy and the makings of a damn fine debut begins to take shape. Their mastery of the moody vs. wistful approach to songwriting serves this up for fans of bedroom fare, with the band pining over an abundance of twisted love throughout the album’s eleven track run. They swerve from that humble pop path, though and the album elevates their love letters into a lush pop sound. There’s something sparkling happening in the details here – a hi-fi rumble, sax squawks, pillowy mounds of reverb. The deeper listeners get into Keep On the more it rewards with rippling subtleties and soft-touch hooks. While its definitely put together well, its not flashy and the band comes out all the better for it. Sadly, I feel that this one won’t get nearly its due on this side of the ocean, but for those paying attention it’s a lovely gem of a record.




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The Fortuna Pop! All-Stars – “You Can Hide Your Love Forever”

It was with a heavy heart that the world said goodbye to Fortuna Pop!, one of the UK’s most ardent gardeners of modern jangle-pop. However, in a bit of good news wrapped inside the bad, the label has one last treat for the faithful. Fulfilling the last obligation on their singles series, they’ve slipped out a farewell card from their roster. Members of Allo Darlin, Spook School, Comet Gain, Joanna Gruesome, Martha, The Ladybug Transistor and Pete Astor (among others) come together like the tweest version of Live Aid the world has ever seen and run through a celebratory cover of Comet Gain’s “You Can Hide Your Love Forever.” While the original 2001 single is a melancholy bit of bliss from a band that was always overdue, the Fortuna Pop! All-Stars version revamps it into a swooning wall of indie pop splendor. It’s a nice period on the works of a label that was a labor of love and a wellspring of taste.

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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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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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Massage

The debut LP from L.A.’s Massage ingests forty years of jangled history and reconfigures the pieces into hazy, radiant indie pop that touches the shores of England ’86 as often as Australia ’18. In fact, much like the current crop of upstart Aussies the band’s loose agenda found them gathering to create songs they love mostly to impress one another, rather than prop up the material for mass consumption. Without any initial pressures driving the songwriting, there’s a breezy joy that seems to inhabit the record, splashed with West Coast sun and sparkling with sea foam in is veins. The album’s humble roots should by no means discount the appeal of their debut, though. Despite playing on their personal pop indulgences Oh Boy is stuffed with hooks and coated in a lacquer of honeyed fuzz. The record reads like a case study in pop, stitched by studied hands and pressed crisp as linen.

The band finds songwriters Alex Naidus (The Pains of Being Pure At Heart) and Andrew Romano trading hooks, with a mix by Jason Quever (Papercuts) bringing the record to pastel fruition. While there might be room for comparisons with Naidus’ former band, there’s a shaggier quality to Massage that’s less labored over, but no less addictive. The band tumbles through the record, perched on the edge of bittersweet, but they shove the nostalgic sighs away with the collective smile that’s constantly breaking its way through the songwriting on Oh Boy. They scoop up nods to The Go-Betweens, Sarah Records and Flying Nun. They pour over Feelies’ riffs like they were scripture. It’s clear that the band were having fun with the idea of sketching out songs and their joy is damn infectious. They chew on every inch of Oh Boy with the zeal of artists who are sustained by the sparkle of their songs. Is it indulgent, sure? But we all stand to gain from their jangle-pop sweet tooth.

Speaking of Aussies, the record looks to be making its way to vinyl only via a small Aussie imprint, Tear Jerk out of Melbourne. Though don’t let the long distance dampen your smile, seems the US copies will ship direct from the band so you can still grab the wax and save on shipping.



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The Essex Green

It’s hard not to get nostalgic for music that formed key moments in one’s life. To that respect a resurgence of late period E6’ers The Essex Green is both an amazing experience and slightly bittersweet. The music is as vital and as draped in gooey pop as ever. The band’s first record since their 2006 Merge LP The Cannibal Sea more than lives up to the wanting expectations left in the vacancy of that album’s uncertain finality. More than 10 years on they’re still capturing the wistfulness, ache, and slightly psychedelic bump into paisley pop that made them heirs apparent to the Elephant kingdom and perfect contenders for Merge’s burgeoning stable of indie pop purveyors.

While enough time has passed that the band’s brand of earnest pop might not be the most “in fashion” sound, they make a strong play for the enduring quality of clean cuts and open hearts. The record doesn’t sound so much like a throwback as it does a classic example of how indie pop can capture the moment with a song that’s bursting with catchy qualities, yet rocking back and forth on classic hooks. The band has always strayed straight, never lacing their pop with snark or scoff and with their latest they’re still as earnest as ever. The record is a loping, gorgeous example of how to stay true to a sound without worrying about the whims of the listening pool. The record can, at times, feels a bit buttoned down, especially when their early records on Kindercore are taken into account, but all in all this is a full stop return for The Essex Green. Hardly Electric is larger than the margins and coloring with every crayon in the box.




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