Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

Traffik Island – “17”

One of the standout tracks on the Anti-Fade compilation, New Center of the Universe Vol. 3, this year was a track from Traffik Island. The band is largely the solo output of Zak Olsen from ORB, The Frowning Clouds and Hierophants. While he’s had a handful of singles scattered over the last few years, news today comes of a debut album on Flightless. The pairing makes sense, given ORB’s standing at the label, and first track “17” is a delightfully sunny swath of psych-pop that’s a far cry from ORB’s windpipe crushers. Instead the track, like previous outings from Traffik Island, is a sparkling jangler full of bright harmonies that bring to mind The Free Design, Euphoria, Sapphire Thinkers, or any other manner of the bittersweet brand of sunshine psych. The LP, Nature Strip is out next year and this track gives it a glow of promise. Definitely excited for this.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

J. McFarlane’s Reality Guest – “Your Torturer”

Twerps have great solo projects coming out in droves these days. In additions to the EP from Alex MacFarlane earlier in the year and the upcoming LP from Martin Frawley, the band’s Julia McFarlane (formerly known solo as Hot Topic) has a new full length on the way under the name J. McFarlane’s Reality Guest. The first single from the upcoming TA DA is couched in jangles and floated by flute. “Your Torturer” isn’t a straightforward strummer though. The flute and guitar lines spar with one another, with the latter pecking out a choppy, yet catchy saunter. By contrast McFarlane and the flute lilt their way dreamily through the song, oblivious to the sprightly strums below. Both McFarlane and Frawley are straying from the sound that made them occasional household names and its great to see them picking apart pop to find some new ground. The record lands on Hobbies Galore in January.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Rays

On their previous album Oakland’s Rays merged wiry post-punk with the current wave of Aussie indie that’s been riffling through Flying Nun singles and Go-Betweens B-sides as inspiration. There were bright spots of jangle that jutted through the din last time around, but on You Can Get There From Here the band has embraced their more melodic impulses upfront, giving the album an accessibility they’d sometimes rebuffed in the past. Like fellow West Coasters Massage, they’re clearly dog paddling through the best Aussie upstarts – cherry picking bits of Boomgates, Blank Realm and Terry – while leaning on a double-dose of detergent-core from The Clean and Cleaners From Venus.

The slight scrub-up feels good on them, though they’re not wiping away their grit completely. The record leaves plenty of un-sanded edges that give their sound the same kind of unfussed and genuine weight that their South Hemi counterparts have been cultivating in kitchens and practice spaces over the last few years. So many of those bands have embraced a laconic style that gives the impression each humble hummer has sprung fully formed from idle strums and stream of consciousness divining of the universe’s whims. Likewise, Rays, too, have perfected the art of sounding effortless. There are moments on You Can Get There From Here, that were no doubt fussed over in the writing room, but feel like they dropped out of the sky shaggy, shaky and catchy enough to crush your resistance on first listen.

While the particular strain of pop that burrows out of OZ on a regular basis, peddling curdled sunshine and tarnished hooks is still appealing to a niche base with a hunger for a less pristine pop present, its good to see more US bands adopting the model. Rays are proving to be ones to keep a constant eye on and with You Can Get There From Here, they’ve jumped up in the ranks on the list of 2018’s jangle pop essentials.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Wingtip Sloat

Wingtip Sloat have never been an easy notion to pin down. Active in the early ‘90s, The Viginia / DC band cropped up on small labels with handmade singles that immediately fell out of print. They found their way to the arms of experimental haven VHF and began a string of idiosyncratic excess with the label that spanned “7s, a couple of albums, and a comp that dredged up more than thirty tracks of pre-label singles and compilation tracks almost lost to the ether. In 1998 they issued their skewed and scrunched pop classic If Only For The Hatchery to relatively warm reviews then all but disappeared. So, it’s a bit of a shock to see the band back with ten new tracks and a deep-pocket dive of archival material that fills in a good amount of the gaps.

Not entirely sure what the band’s been up to in the interim, but Purge and Swell proves that they haven’t lost their crooked smile and pop acumen. The songs are still fishooked by jangles and slashed through with angles – catchy and immediate with overtones of Guided by Voices, Tall Dwarfs, The Clean and The Bats. Compared to a good deal of their scattered back catalog this is as refined as the Sloat has ever sounded and its downright charming. There’s sunny slouch to the new material, sluffing off their more acerbic hackles and, in deference to their previous MO, the record is remarkably cohesive in tone. The band has always had a melodic current jolting under the post-punk bite, but Purge and Swell seems to be digging for earworms like never before.

For the invested Sloat-er the album comes with a treasure trove of songs from the rehearsal rooms and cutting room floors of their past. Like that whopper of a singles comp from the early aughts, this is a lot to digest, but it gives plenty of insight to the band’s influences and process for the curious. There are plenty of short burst poppers, erratic outbursts, and covers that span from Brian Eno to Belle & Sebastian. If this is your first taste of Wingtip Sloat, the new disc is an easy entry, though it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the depths they’ve dug in he past. Still, as a standalone Sloat, its up with the best. Plenty of great bands get lost in the cracks of culture and there’s no time like now to reinvestigate the ample, winking charms of Wingtip Sloat for a while.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Rat Columns – “Sometimes We’re Friends”

Those promised Slumberland SLR30 singles are beginning to land and that’s good news for fans of David West’s output. West’s Rat Columns issued a criminally underrated album on Upset The Rhythm last year, and to top it he also put out an equally excellent album of his own on Tough Love a few months later. This short form release for Slumberland picks up where both of those left off. Just as bleary-eyed and blissful as the previous Rat Columns tracks, the single starts off with the hazy strummer “Sometimes We’re Friends.” Caught in the crossfire between jangle-pops bright bounce and shoegaze’s gauzy confusion, the track is an extended descent into headphone glory.

The flip showcases the more pristine aspects of West’s songwriting. “Astral Lover” is a bittersweet bit of pop perfection that hangs its heartbroken hook on a sea of strings and two-part harmonies that place this alongside many of the best moments of Candle Power. They wind the single up with the rainy-day sleeper, “Waiting To Die,” a track that’s not nearly as goth as that title might lead one to believe. Instead the track lopes along on a shuffle of drums and some softly tangled strums, with West pining for the end in a surprisingly upbeat fashion. I’d recommend picking this up alongside the rest of the 30 yr set, since there are limited colors at hand an the promise of a Black Tambourine exclusive tied to the set.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

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.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE

0 Comments

The Oilies – “Anywhere With You”

More jangled goodness out of the Bay Area comes arrives with the first single from The Oilies, the new band from Carly Putnam (The Mantles, Art Museums, Reds, Pinks & Purples). The two-shot of understated pop displays Putnam’s knack for intimate, bittersweet melodies. “Anywhere With You” snakes through the psyche with nods to The Verlaines and early Chills. The song’s a darker shade of jangle-pop, with spiky stabs of guitar that displays the other side of love’s embrace. Putnam turns her back on her object of affection, asserting that she’s “better off nowhere, than anywhere with you.” It’s a great intro to the band that picks up several SF players and nabs a production credit from Skygreen Leopards’ Glenn Donaldson.

On the flip she’ gets a bit spritelier, cutting back some of the dark shading that elevates “Anywhere,” but still holding down court on some great jangle-pop. Seems the members of The Mantles are a busy bunch this Fall, with Michael O. also on the verge of a new album. Hopefully Carly’s got more in the works as well, as this is a great start.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Velvet Crush – In The Presence of Greatness

There just aren’t that many classic power pop tales that begin with, “straight outta Rhode Island,” but the clam neck state offered up Velvet Crush in 1989 and they’d work their way into one of the decade’s oft overlooked gems. To be fair the band actually got it together in Southern Illinois college towns, where the band’s Paul Chastain was helping care out a sound running the Picture Book label. The band picked up roots and headed to Providence, but nabbed some help from friend and fellow power-pop impresario Matthew Sweet. Sweet would record In The Presence of Greatness as well as play guitar on the LP. The band share’s a considerable crossover with his love of The Raspberries and Big Star, showcasing a similar love for the jangled, classic version of the genre on their debut.

The album gained some traction in college rock circles but wound up making the most impression oversees, where the band would wind up distributed by Creation. Problem there was in 1989 Creation was moving from jangles to shoegaze and while the band might have fit in with a longview of the label, at the time they were passé for a lot of British fans. Be that as it may, the record is a solid sender of jangle-pop, power pop and college rock. Its incredibly indebted to the old guard of power pop that preceded it by a decade, but they’re pulling it off as good as most.

The band would go on to get further attention around their sophomore LP, Teenage Symphonies To God, produced by ‘90s studio savant Mitch Easter (R.E.M., The dB’s), but the band would wind up stretching a bit outside of their comfort zone. The debut is a great genre dig for those who love the crossover of power pop and Creation. While maybe not the most essential of either of those camps, it’s a great curio from the era that was left to linger for far too long.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Blades of Joy

San Francisco’s Melter’s doesn’t embrace the kind of breakneck scheduling that some of their indie contemporaries keep. They’ve rounded up a tight roster of musicians who embody the spirit of their city and keep its pulse clicking, but the trickle of releases is capped at one or two a year. The austerity breeds quality, though, and from Tony Molina to Marbled Eye to Swiftumz, the ranks are filled with the match strike moments from some of the city’s best. The debut from Blades of Joy picks up this tradition amiably, with their eponymous album bleeding noise-pop from its pores, dredging up washes of Felt, and sense memory flashbacks of Galaxie 500 and Chapterhouse if they were further smudged by the sun.

The band swaddles their sound in a soft foam of feedback that won’t break, a fuzz that hesitates just near the edge of oblivion but never quite lets go of its last finger hold on composure. The anticipation of emotional spillover keeps the listener perched and percolating, giving the album a lush and luxuriant tension. They succeed in dipping the kind of jangle-pop that would find itself right at home on Slumberland into the shoegaze deep end of Creation and 4AD.

While they’re working with tried and true brushes, Blades of Joy reinvigorate the bliss that comes from melting their indipop in the sun. The album’s short but sure seven tracks evoke a lost, endless summer. Its the kind that exists without the heavy yoke of responsibility, lived without consequence in a blur of heat and haze and nights that stretch on forever. There’s a feeling that the record exists as either a fleeting moment never to be captured again as the band evaporates as quickly as they coalesced, or it winds up like so many Melters releases as the beacon to guide the faithful to Blades’ doorstep. Either way, burn or build, its a shining debut.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

The Chills

Second winds for bands can always come with a flinch. Will the band capture any of the magic that drew us to them the first time around? Will time twist your favorite songwriter out of view? Age has a funny way of changing the equation, just ask Smiths fans. So, with that idea in mind, when legendary Kiwi-pop forefathers The Chills returned with Silver Bullets after a 19-year hiatus, it was a rush to hear Martin Phillips still walking the lines between heaven and hope. The band was still braiding their jangles into biting hooks, still making lit-pop for the hopeless devotees of earnest intent. They proved that post-punks could grow up without wearing their past like a costume.

Not looking to lose more time, The Chills are back with another addition to their second coming and it’s continuing the quality streak they picked up a couple years back. Stuffed with new wave nods – neon cooled keys, a jumble of jangles and galloping rhythms – the record is a fine companion to Submarine Bells’ massive pop footprint. While age hasn’t pushed the pop scope of The Chills too far off of their original pedestal, there’s a lyrical lash at work here that might not have always been present in the past. Phillips looks back, not in anger, but with a skepticism, ennui and strained sadness. Snow Bound is coming to terms with the hope that a young band held and how short the world fell from those expectations.

The band has often existed as a South-Hemi counterpart to R.E.M. and Echo, albeit with a much more condensed catalog. Along with countrymen The Bats and Aussies the Go-Betweens, they guarded a pop vision that remained timeless while nailing the best hallmarks of the decade in which they surfaced. After decades of leading young bands to the right roads, The Chills are still building new avenues of their own. With Snow Bound, its clear that their legacy is on solid ground.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments