Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

Milk Teddy

Been a few years since Milk Teddy laid their blissful gem, Zingers, on us, but the wait seems to have been well worth it. The band breezes in with their sophomore LP, Time Catches Up With Milk Teddy, which is equally shambolic in its scope. The band has an innate knack for bridging contemporary Aussie jangles with a windswept approach that scatters any of the natty, prim plucks into the surrounding sunshine. A lot of the credit for this can be hung squarely on the neck of vocalist Thomas Mendelovits, whose blissfully faded delivery folds in an out of the band’s swells with a natural ease.

Mendelovits’ anchoring croon remains a constant, but those underlying swells have taken on considerably more texture from their first outing. Zingers was awash in an echoplex haze, rendering the album gorgeous but gauzy and at times harder to sink your teeth into. Milk Teddy come down to the Earth’s crust to bump elbows with the rest of us on Time Catches Up. They’ve injected the occasional brush with post-punk in a few of their basslines and a couple of space-cake instrumentals but they’re essentially still working through their own brand of gossamer jangle, just on a more tactile level this pass.

The band’s relative obscurity in the US has always struck me as a tragedy, but perhaps it’s time to right a years-long wrong. Time Catches Up is a bold move by the band, stuck together with off-kilter interview snippets and woven like a patchwork quilt made of denim in varying quality and hues. It’s pock-marked and imperfect and that’s exactly what makes it so desirable. Get your perfect glossy pop elsewhere. The LP is worn in all the right places and comfortable as an old t-shirt. Each listen just makes this one more and more endearing as an album that’s gonna test time and come out winning.




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Wireheads – “Indian Pacific Express’

Getting to be a regular occurance around here, Wireheads have an album on the way via Tenth Court. The first cut is even more refined than I’ve heard them in the past – janglin’, plunking piano and a smooth keel running through Dom Trimboli’s vocals. This sounds like a natural progression from the material they’d cut into on Arrive, Alive, clean burning Aussie jangle with just the right touch of vulnerability and visceral punch. Definitely got eyes out for the new album.


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The Real Numbers – “Frank Infatuation” 7″

Sweeping up a few of the great entries to the small format world today, starting with this new single from Minneapolis’ Real Numbers. The band have captured full tilt the UK jangle-pop prime, feeling every bit like they stepped out of a Field Mice or Razorcuts show fully enamored and ready to join the ranks. The A-side here is a re-work of their album track “Frank Infatuation,” given a looser recording that actually pulls it closer to their influences, scratching a ramshackle DIY feeling into the track’s frantic strums. The track was already a standout on their album, Wordless Wonder from last year, but here they’ve given even more reason to fall in love with the song all over again.

On the flip, the label pulls in a Pastels comparison that’s pretty spot on. “Leave It Behind” is dreamy and smudged with all the downpour romance that the ’80s underground had to offer. The whole single is wrapped up like a love letter to the C86 set, and while they’re obviously gushing, we all get a win for their sincere homage. More solid senders from Slumberland.


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Patience – “White Of An Eye”

The end of Veronica Falls always left me feeling a bit sad. The band’s perfect distillation of jangle-pop on the skids, sunny melodies with a tear in their eye, was always comforting. James Hoare has gone on to a myriad bands in the interim, but Roxanne Clifford’s output has been more selective. Now on her third single as Patience, Clifford is ably working a brand of synth-pop stung with jangles and it suits her well. “White Of An Eye” swims through the backwaters of the ’80s – mopping up bits of The Jasmine Minks on a bender with Chris & Cosey and Strawberry Switchblade. Hopefully this third single signals the oncoming announcement of an album proper. For now, though, we’ll have to just enjoy it on its own merits. This one’s been growing on me with each subsequent listen.

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Premiere: The Lovebirds – “Ready To Suffer”

San Francisco is full of guitar rock of the jangled variety but rising above the typical Mission fray soars The Lovebirds. They’re packing a satchel full of chiming chords here, but rather than throw a nod to SF’s ’60s roots, they channel College-ready literate charmers and powerpop dandies alike, drawing a line from the Groovies on down to Elvis Costello and Teenage Fanclub waiting in the wings. “Ready To Suffer” flicks at the subconscious, feeling familiar in a way that pushes it out of time, like a lost b-side from the archives of any of those bands.

It certainly doesn’t holler fresh-faced kids about town, that’s for sure, but that’s to the band’s credit as scholars of their influences. Add to the quality tunes some mix n’ master duties from RSTB faves Glenn Donaldson and Mikey Young respectively and this is a tight package and prime introduction to a band to watch.




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Beach Fossils

You know, its been a while since I reviewed a Beach Fossils release and for good reason, its been nearly four years since their last. They’ve steadily built on the sound that hooked me on their debut, but with Somersault they finally shake off the trappings that come with being a Captured Tracks jangle band and grow exponentially. Leaving Captured Tracks for their own Bayonet Records may have something to do with the freedom of sound, but its not without noting that this sounds like the biggest and likely most expensive Beach Fossils record. Not that money makes a good record, but they’ve certainly used it wisely to flesh out the lush orchestrations and mature sound of Somersault.

Age likely plays into songwriter Dustin Payseur’s transition to a cleaner, crisper and more enveloping sound. The songwriter edged into his 30’s while this release was under way and, in NYC years, that brings about more of the quarterlife musings than a true-life 25. He’s touching on the transitions of friendships that happen at this mile-marker, the disillusionment with the city as it begins to ebb further from the artist’s environment and an even deeper disillusionment with one’s country as it begins to drift into political tastes that sour the tongue and wear on the soul.

At it’s core though Somersault is a record about who you surround yourself with, friends and family — surrogate families of the kind that spring up in the city. Paired with the band’s equally introspective songwriting and reliance on orchestration on this album this makes for their best recording to date. The band is slipping the veneer of their old ’80s heroes and transitioning into a new set; trading in The Wake for late period Felt. Though, to be fair they really seem to just using those influences as a jumping off point these days. This is the world as it twists about Beach Fossils in blurred tones of comfort and depression. It’s the sound of a band coming into their own, the scrappy Brooklyn kids replaced with artists looking to make a record that will outlive them all. They may well have done just that.




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Premiere: Milk Teddy – “Rock n’ Roll Cretin”

It’s no secret that Aussie pop reigns high on the list of RSTB favorite topics, and I’m always dismayed that distance gives folks in the States pause to check out bands that aren’t necessarily rolling through their towns. Case in point, Milk Teddy put out a nuanced, shimmering debut as a split between Lost & Lonesome and Knock Yr Socks Off Records back in 2012. The album, largely lost on US listeners, paired perfect strums with the high, mournful croon of Thomas Mendelovits. After too long a wait, the band is back and readying a new LP for Lost & Lonesome, due out in August. The first track lays right back into the languid strums and cyclic chimes of guitar that should appeal to any chasing up the Captured Tracks catalog. They peek out a bit, though, from the echoplex haze that surrounded their debut like a delicate fog.

In that respect it looks as if the new album, Time Catches Up With Milk Teddy, boasts a bit of an expanded palette, with more space creeping into the mix and a clash of synths that results in the swelling coda on “Rock ‘n Roll Cretin.” In essence, it’s Milk Teddy, pushing out of the basement and onto a much bigger stage. If you missed Zingers then its probably time to play a bit of catch up and get excited for a the band’s next phase. I know I am.



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Premiere: Rat Colums – “Blinded By The Shadow”

One of my true faves this year has been Rat Columns’ Candle Power LP on Upset The Rhythm. The band turns in a stark video for the absolute standout, “Blinded By The Shadow. The track eschews much of the album’s propensity for jangle in favor of slinking keys and staid bass line; by the time those melancholy strings kick in, you’re more than hooked. It’s a post-punk gem that calls back on all the right bits of the ’80s for inspiration and proves that West and co are truly hitting a peak with this album. The video is as appropriately dressed down as the track, whitewashed and buttoned up. If you’re still missing out on Rat Columns, take today to right that wrong.


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Look Blue Go Purple – Still Bewitched

In putting together a comp of great jangle-pop last month I was sad to see that female voices, as with many genres, often went underrepresented. One of the brightest stars, and subsequently most often overlooked came in the form of Dunedin group Look Blue Go Purple. The band arrived as part of the Flying Nun stable’s second wave, beginning a run of great EPs from 1985 through 1987. The EPs – Bewitched, LBGPEP2 and This is This – all make their way onto this compilation along with a cache of live tracks spanning from their formation in 1983 to their dissolution in ’87.

The band perfected that distinctive New Zealand jangle, but augmented it superbly with woven vocals, melancholy keys and spectral flute. They worked their way into the canon of culture in their homeland, but unlike contemporaries in The Chills and The Bats, they didn’t find a foothold outside of the country at the time, making them more of a secret handshake between Flying Nun and jangle lovers. The band sprang out of a desire to create music with other women, and though they took inspiration from The Raincoats and The Slits, they were adamant in not presenting themselves as a purely feminist well-spring. Sadly, their status as one of the singular female bands rising in Dunedin lead them to endless questions about gender in regard to their music.

The focus away from the music is criminal, as Look Blue Go Purple remains one of the more nuanced jangle-pop bands to come out of the area. They, like The Beach Boys before them, knew the power of layering vocals in valleys of harmony. Adding to this is the power trio at the core of their songwriting – Denise Roughan, Kathy Bull, and Norma O’Malley. The latter provided the distinctive key swells and enchanted flute parts that truly separate the group from the pack, while Roughan and Bull kept the jangles knotted and the bounce elastic. Flying Nun has done a service getting these EPs bound up on 2xLP, and though the historical inclusion of the live tracks gives this a strong perspective, the fact that it creates a whole new release from their 1991 compilation means that they forgo putting this amazing cover on the gatefold. All in all, this falls heavily in the essential pile.




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Major Leagues – “It Was Always You”

Brisbane’s Major Leagues have been pumping out singles and short form releases that are packed with indie pop charms, but they’re now on the precipice of an album proper. “It Was Always You” heralds their upcoming full length for Aussie indie Popfrenzy, and it’s a swooning bit of jangle pop that’s got a bittersweet heart. A pitch perfect ode to lost love, the song pines in blurred hues that creep up between the tears on a warm summer’s day. The love may be over but at least something beautiful remains in it’s absence. This track piques interest for that full length for sure. For now though, just gonna hit repeat on this one a few times.




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