Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

NRP: The Weather Prophets – Mayflower

Rounding back into the trenches of sorely overlooked fodder for vinyl reissue in a time when greatest hits albums are somehow finding their way back to the plants. The wanting bin of treasures that should be made available is too deep to measure and sadly the reissue marker isn’t set by how deserving an album is of new review, just how many copies are going to rush out the door. If the majors are going to comb their back stacks there still remain quite a few more deserving records than whatever post-Eagles solo records are in the queue. Case in point, before they found their way to Creation, a stable I’d lobby should be entirely back in print if at all possible, The Weather Prophets issued a debut for WEA. I’d submit Mayflower as an essential record and one that’s profoundly deserving of a new life among the racks.

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Smokescreens

Drawing breath from their love of Kiwi pop, Smokescreens’ second album bumps up the stakes and sharpens focus to match the exuberance and quirks inherit in albums from The Clean, 3Ds or The Great Unwashed. In tune with the wave of artists who made up the inaugural class of Flying Nun, Smokescreens have built their sound on a bedrock of jangles made to ring off the clouds, a relaxed lyrical style not overly fussed with cleanliness, and a close-quarters recording approach that makes the band sound like they’re playing from the comfort of your couch. Owing to members Corey Cunningham and Chris Rosi spending their off time in a few other bands (Terry Malts and Plateaus respectively), there’s more than a little punk and power pop that finds its way into the mix as well. Though much like the current crop of Aussie and NZ scrappers that have popped up in the wake of the Nun of late, the addition of a broader bent takes the record from pale imitation to interesting interpretation more often than not.

All this homage is nothing without the songs though, is it? Thankfully Smokescreens have a good handle on pop hooks and they stuff Used To Yesterday well full of them. From the bittersweet pine of the title track to the chewy nougat bounce on “Waiting For Summer” the record doesn’t spend much of its time weighing the listener down. Buoyancy abounds and its hard not to feel a slight sense of carefree bliss during the thirty minutes it takes for this one to wind its way through the speakers. In the best sense of South Hemi janglers and their UK counterparts, even when the record’s a bit somber its still pretty damn fun. They take cues from blissful mopers The Wake or McCarthy in this regard, turning their heartbreak into earworms for all to enjoy. Vaulting a head and a half above the songs on their debut, this is Smokescreens coming into their own even while they’re living out that life in thrift store shoes borrowed from friends of another era. They might not be wholly working in fresh kicks, but it looks and sounds good on them so we might as well all just enjoy the breezy results.



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Primo! – “A City Stair”

Primo’s “A City Stair” is a buzzing, taut swath of jangle that’s quickly jumping the band up the list of Melbourne bands that should be on your radar. While the group had me at shaggy Melbourne post-punk, add in a crossover members who’ve spent time in Terry and The Shifters and its a sealed and signed deal. The track rumbles along on Amy Hill’s hungry bass line then takes a few zig zags through breathless guitar, trading jangles and jabs in equal measure. Bringing it home, the track melts down with a organ outro that shades the track nicely for a firm finish. The band’s album, recorded by RSTB fave Al Montfort is an absolute gem. My recommendation is to get on this one quickly. On one of the most solidly satisfying labels going, Upset The Rhythm. If you’re around EU/UK catch the band out, including a date with the always excellent Sauna Youth



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The Shifters – “Work, Life, Gym, Etc.”

Excellent crossover between my love of Aussie pop and my love of Trouble in Mind today. The label announces the release of the debut from Melbourne’s The Shifters. The LP was recorded by Total Control/Dick Diver/Terry shambolic pop treasure Al Montfort and it bears a bit of resemblance to the shaggy pop of recent work with Terry with spillover appeal for fans of the shaggy shake of The Stroppies or the discomforting burn of Wireheads and Vintage Crop. Definitely in line with the newer school players of South Hemi slacker pop, but the single also boasts a nice fidelity bump from their previous 7″s via Montfort’s production. All in all, bodes well for an album of similarly shaded jangle nuggets when this one lands in September.

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Slumberland SL30 Singles Series

It should come as no surprise that Slumberland is a favorite label around here, so the news that they’re prepping a 30th anniversary singles series comes with a lot of excitement. The singles will be shipped between now and December 2019, around the actual anniversary of the label. The first couple start strong out of the gate, with an offering from David West’s Rat Columns and ’90s indie-poppers The Suncharms. The rest of the series is no slouch either, focusing on atypical Slumberland artists with a goal of showcasing non-roster material that fans might be missing out on. The lineup includes Dolly Dream (featuring Meg Remy from U.S. Girl), Baltimore’s Wildhoney, Pale Lights and Lake Ruth from NYC, Failed Flowers (Anna Burch and Fred Thomas), David Callahan (of The Wolfhound) and RSTB fave and Fruits & Flowers alum Odd Hope.

At $100 shipped and shelved the package is a great deal from one of the leading lights in janglepop and indie pop for the past three decades. Check out the label for the details: HERE.

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Action Painting! – Trial Cuts 1989-1995

Emotional Response is stepping up and doing the universe a solid by rounding up the corners of the Sarah Records catalog and issuing them as much-needed archival compilations. There are full plans to get works by Secret Shine, Even As We Speak, Boyracer and Action Painting! together. For now, though, they’ve got the latter two pressed and dressed for your consumption. Action Painting! found their way to the seminal label late in the game. The Gosport band still operated within Sarah’s system of jangles and sighs, but they updated the sound with a harder edge than many of their labelmates, roping in a love for The Jam and The Go-Betweens then mashing them into an apparent swooning for The Buzzcocks.

Sadly, the band would only issue four singles in their tenure, three for Sarah and one for Damaged Goods, all of which rear their head on Trial Cuts 1980-1995, as do a fair number of demos that speak to what could have been had the band gotten ‘round to getting that LP together proper. This collection will have to stand in the stead of a real album, and while it’s a bit sprawling given that the band likely hat a taught ten or twelve piece they could have hacked out, it does cull together all the material collectors could ever whimper about in one convenient package. For jangle fans, new wave nuts, punk hangers-on and the like this is a pretty solid set that puts straight the history on a band lost to the fringes. Recommended you get into this one as soon as possible.



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Smokescreens – “Someone New”

While the band had me at “formed to honor their love of Kiwi pop bands” the fact that Smokescreens contains members of two long-running RSTB faves Terry Malts and Plateaus seals this for me. Their first LP came out on Corey Cunningham’s Parked In Hell records, and I’m quite sorry to have missed that, but consider me in for the long haul on their second album which is close approaching on Slumberand. “Someone New” is upfront about its love for The Clean but the band wrangles in bits of The Wake as well on this cut. The balance of jangle and fuzz is formidable and its close to bubbling over with frothy goodness. The cut is addictively re-playable and given its earworm tendencies, bodes well for a full album of fizz from the band.



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The Love-Birds

In the wake of their Empty Cellar debut single, a sparkling tangle of jangles and clear-sky hooks, San Francisco’s Love-Birds wound up on the radar of a new generation thirsting for guitar’s pop prominence. They funnel the energy of that short-form stunner into an LP that proves they have a deft hold on jangle’s cross-generational evolution – tapping into The Byrds, 12-string history while echoing alt and indie pop hallmarks from R.E.M. to The Flaming Groovies and Teenage Fanclub. They even drag the rudder through the South Hemisphere, picking up nods to The Go-Betweens and The Chills then cold-press all this history down to a record that feels instantly familiar while still coming out fresh as a bay breeze in spring.

While they’re definitely pulling down a full set of sleeves, practically polka-dotted with hearts beating for the past, they swerve the stamp of college-town cover band looking to stun with their ability to belt out “End of the World As We Know It” sans crib-sheet. Instead they’ve bound up the control board glow of late night nineties college radio and, with the aid of San Francisco strummer and legend in his own right Glenn Donaldson, offered up a record that’s intangibly catchy, bittersweet and buoyant. The album captures that feeling when the airwaves were just right and the lo-watt station two towns over came in crystal clear at 12am, letting a few late-night discoveries blossom into lifelong obsessions.

On In The Lover’s Corner, the band feels comfortable picking at songs of love unrequited and scratching the itch of nostalgia that a good many likely have for an era with more to offer than the packaged in amber playlists built on hits rather than heart. The Love-Birds are helping helping further the left side of the dial even as the dial disappears from view.



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Alex MacFarlane – “Planetarium Nights”

While there are plenty of great Aussie indies to keep on radar Hobbies Galore seems to be kicking up the dust quite nicely this year. With releases by Stroppies, Blank Realm and a tape issue of the debut Green Child album, there’s quite a bit of talent to be had. A cornerstone of the label, however, has been solo releases from Alex MacFarlane a fixture in Twerps, The Stevens and Teen Archer. The latest 7″ sees MacFarlane working through jangle-pop structures with prog-blocked overtones. There’s a slight dissonance that doesn’t always pop up in his other works, but at the core this is still prime Aussie jangle that’s a testament to MacFarlane’s prowess.

Standouts “Good With Little Numbers” and “Starter People” push this way beyond solo sketchbook fodder, proving that MacFarlane has plenty of hooks in his back pocket and a warped sense of pop that burrows under the skin. He fleshed it out with instrumentals that writhe and twist with synths and curls of noise. While I’d never balk and new Twerps or Stevens material, this release in particular begs for more from the artist solo. This one’s slipping out quietly but that’s no excuse to let it slip by completely.

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Massage – “Lydia”

Good news is afoot in L.A. with the notice that RSTB faves Massage are following up their excellent run of singles with an album due out in July. Oh Boy, produced by Jason Quever of Papercuts, doubles down on the band’s jangle obsession emulating heroes like The Go-Betweens, Razorcuts and Close Lobsters while placing them alongside the current Aussie set’s topliners like Twerps, The Stroppies or Rat Columns. The jangles on “Lydia” practically glint and they set sail a dreamy male / female chorus that’s hooked in heavy to the bittersweet sighs of a love crumbled. The song’s simplicity and mantra-like hook can’t help but crack a smile on the most withered husk, beaming with Left Coast vibes of shimmer and summer sun. Put this album on your list of expected stunners for the back half of 2018.



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