Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

Alex Bleeker – “La La La”

Got a new one that swings at the sunset pretty damn nicely. Real Estate’s Alex Bleeker has had a solid solo hustle over past few years — sometimes with The Freaks and sometimes simply under his own name. This one falls under the latter and sees the songwriter slide into the Night Bloom roster for his new LP Heaven On The Faultline. Bleeker’s always had the most cosmic connotations of any of the Estate solo jaunts, and that deep sway Cosmic Americana vibe is on full display on “La La La.” The record often finds him lounging in a sea-cooled West Coast calm, jangles edging up to the borders of twang, but never quite tumbling into country territory. The song (and admittedly a great deal of the album) shares some space with newfound indie jam pockets like Pacific Range, Hurt Valley, and Arbor Labor Union. The last album hit some Workingman’s and Big Pink touchstones and they haven’t abated in the interim. The new LP is out March 5th.



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New Bums – “Turned To Graffiti”

Still loving every thread of this upcoming New Bums LP and the band lets out another great track from its folds. With a cryptic video attached, Donovan and Ben set the backdrop on the fatalistic “Turned to Graffiti.” The song has a bittersweet core but there’s breeze in its bones, with chiming guitars that pull from the slight sway of South American folk music, feeling like it might be celebratory if there wasn’t worry between their words. Both songwriters have long been favorites around here, so its great to see them teaming up for a record of furrowed, road -dusted new folk favorites. The new LP, Last Time I Saw Grace is out March 19th on Drag City.

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Cory Hanson – “Angeles”

The second offering from Cory Hanson’s (Wand) upcoming solo LP is another tender touch of folk, this time dedicated to the West Coast crown jewel, but also scratching deep into the scars of soured relationships. The song is one of his most polished pieces — an aching guitar line, resigned organ, and a pre-dawn chorus that feels like it has years coming to a head within its bars. I’m always gonna be a sucker for a well-placed slide guitar, and “Angeles” wields it well, sighing into the night air along with Hanson’s woeful croon. If anything makes the case for Pale Horse Rider this is likely it. A nice step forward from the heartworn brood of his last LP. The new record lands March 12th on Drag City.




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Cool Sounds – “Crimson Mask”

While its a bone cold January in area, down South Hemi way its just warming up and the sun-scrubbed air on “Crimson Mask,” the new single from Aussies Cool Sounds feels just right. The song’s as hammock-slung as anything that the band has released, letting buttered strums lay on top of a skitter-slide beat with the band laying back into their reclined pop pocked once more. The new record, Bystander follows nicely on their solid More To Enjoy from 2019. The band’s breezy charm and percolating pop have always been their strong suits and it seems that there’s plenty of that to count on when the album lands February 12th on Osborne Again.

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Pearl Charles

If you’ve been hanging around the halls of Raven for the past few months, then Pearl Charles’ name should feel familiar. Following a long run of excellent singles, Charles’ new album Magic Mirror is finally here and fueling dreams of dodging out 2021 in the arms of an alternate universe 1971 instead. The record springboards off of the zipwaxed pop of her previous album, with a country-rock rework of “Night Tides” eking out midway through last year that gave some inclinations of how her significantly her sound had shifted. The record begins in a post-disco comedown, still in thrall to the a neon halo of slicked pop that gives way to the country comedowns that permeate the bulk of the rest of the album. Packing its possessions in the car and leaving the ABBA LPs on the counter with a note for the next tenant to take care of them, Charles heads for the Canyon calm of Linda Ronstadt channeling Young and Anderson, The Burritos lamenting “Four Days of Rain” and a touch of Fleetwood Mac’s studio sheen.

The record’s hooks are hung in macrame, but there’s still a timelessness about the album. It’s one of those rare records in which the influences lay so bare on its sleeves — exposed and uncontested – and yet it allows itself to acquire the evergreen qualities of Charles’ heroes rather than wind up a blurred copy of the past. Some of the credit has to go to the assembled players around Charles — Michael Rault, Ryan Miller, Dustin Bookatz, and Nigel Wilson — who bring her vision and songwriting to life like a modern day Wrecking Crew. The sounds here are rendered in Kodachrome perfection that hangs in the room like a photograph that brings a wistful smile every time it gets passed.

Pearl and the band are able to weave across genre lines with a studied hand that belies the songwriter’s youth. Like Jenny Lewis before her, she’s a modern troubadour with soft spots for introspection matched by hooks that hang in the back of the mind when they’re not trapped in a bittersweet sigh in the chest. Along the way on Magic Mirror Pearl explores themes of slipping away from a partner, slipping away from oneself, and aging into the best version of oneself. It’s a coming of age record that’s going to feel as welcome during the turbulence of youth as it does in the hindsight of age. It’s hard to had down a declaration that one of the best records of 2021 has landed in the first couple of weeks, but all I’m saying is you all better remember this one come next December.

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Anti-Westerns

Had this one in the dock a little while, but the end of year onslaught always gets in the reviews backed up. No time like the new year to shed a bit of light here. Anti-Westerns are a side project, or more succinctly, an alter-ego of Plates of Cake. The foundations of the band are built on the same solid footing of rivet-tight indie, but his time they trade Brooklyn bars for Nashville skies, adding a large dose of twang to their sound and letting the tempos lope a bit more than they used to. While the dust-plastered settings are pulled into frame behind a rusted pickup truck, the bulk of the album finds the songwriters waxing nostalgic about aging, drinking, and settling into love for the long haul. Quite a few of the songs hit like a hangover after years of moderation, the lacquered taste of whiskey in the gums and regret hanging hard in the stomach.

The band wears country fairly well, though, feeling just a bit like their western collars might be a bit too under-rumpled for the rest of the regulars of the bars they’re frequenting, but the homage rings sincere. They eschew the cosmic vein, swinging slightly more First National Band than New Riders, opting for more of a bumpy road pacing and coordinated guitar dips to the crowd. But just like Mike Nesmith setting himself off from his own past, Anti-Westerns have done their homework, seeming to revel in imagining themselves waking up outside of Townes’ trailer with a head full of half-truths and one liners from the night before. They hang a tale of creaking knees and doctor’s chiding with a crooked smile and a tip of the hat then turn around and rave up a shout-along love letter to rough edged gals with the kind of hook that hits like a bottle against chicken wire. No clue if this one is a one off or the start of the next chapter, but its a winter warmer that starts the year off right.




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Wurld Series – “Nap Gate”

A new vid today announces the arrival of New Zealand scuffers Wurld Series’ second LP, What’s Growing. “Nap Gate” fizzes out of the gates with amp strangling riffs, placing one foot in the Pavement camp and another closer to home, echoing kiwi alt classics like 3Ds, Tall Dwarfs, or Straitjacket Fits. Balancing cool-headed vocals with some paint-peeler guitars, this one makes a case for excitement for the Christchurch band’s latest offering. The record was produced in part by Brian Feary (Salad Boys, Dance Asthmatics), who runs Melted Ice Cream Collective out of NZ. The record arrives March 19th on Meritorio Records (Europe & USA), Osborne Again (Australia) and Melted Ice Cream (New Zealand & Rest of the World).

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Weak Signal – “What’s A Girl To Do”

Weak Signal prove fruitful with another surprise offering for the new year. The band let loose a solid album alongside a split single with Endless Boogie last year and this EP starts the year off with a nice reminder of their heft. The EP boasts a mix of covers and originals, barreling out of the gate with a gritty reimagining of an ‘80s new wave sprinter “What’s A Girl To Do” by Christina. The original is a turquoise and pink splatter of mall pop with an endearing aloofness. Weak Signal give it a dirt bath, supplanting the synths with fuzz dusted guitars, but the song’s thrust remains alongside its indelible hook. The trio revamps this lost nugget for a new age and its hard to argue with the results of a of grunge-pop glow-up. The rest of the EP finds Weak Signal in reflective mode, bittersweet and melancholy as they slide through calmer waters than they churned on Bianca. Add in a cover of Neil’s “Cortez The Killer” and a cameo from Brian Degraw and Look See is a solid Bandcamp grab for the start of ’21.



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Styrofoam Winos – “Stuck In A Museum”

Despite forming in 2016 and gigging extensively through their native Nashville music scene, 2021 marks the debut from Styrofoam Winos. The band’s an egalitarian collective of music minds that bounce around the indie spectrum with chameleonic glee. On the first taste of the eponymous player, due out in February from Sophomore Lounge, the band is in full tilt New Wave jangle, wrapping their strums in some synth frizzle and lobbing vocals between members with ease. “Stuck In A Museum” is swerving the pavement with an itching engine of nail-bitten guitars that are soothed by the sweet sweat of vocal harmonies. Real glad this one is on the horizon for the new year. Keep this high atop the anticipated queue.




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Savoy Motel

The latest Savoy Motel LP has been fermenting in the background of 2020, threatening to break at any moment. With a release date formally announced just a few weeks ago, following a steady stream of singles over the past few months, the band seeks to follow up the raw funk-soul strut that emanated from their eponymous 2016 LP. With a slightly augmented lineup, Love Your Face dives into some of the same indulgences from the debut, but tempers quite a few of their more tenacious impulses. The debut left its ends frayed, windmilling around pop and funk with a touch of the platformed freak of glam. As they ease the listener into Love Your Face, there’s a steady hand on the pop tiller. They’re smoothing out their rumples and pushing into a more polished sound that’s still sipping from the soul-funk chalice, but also moving towards ‘70s AM pop as well, letting shades of caramel country and power pop show through.

While the songs on Love Your Face don’t explode with the same tenacity as the debut — don’t let the smooth taste fool ya — Savoy Motel still has a bit of the street-whipped sweat seeping out of their skins. Grafting a greased shimmy that slides through the wake of Stevie Wonder to the spit shined pop of Raspberries and Status Quo, the album is still hard to pin down. I do miss a bit of the electric spit eclecticism of the debut, but the band finds plenty of new corners to explore and I can’t fault ‘em for not remaking the debut wholesale. Still consummate players, the Nashville band makes a case for exploring the itch of your influences and wriggling in between the crevices that exist in the pop lexicon.




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