Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

The Stroppies

Sadly, The Stroppies eponymous tape slipped out in May and I was wrapped up elsewhere and missed it. Then I dropped the ball again when Tough Love picked it up for a painfully brief run of 100 on LP a few months back. Third times a charm though, right? Another scant run from TL puts this one back on the radar and pretty high on the “records you missed out on in 2017” list. As with pretty much the entirety of the Aussie underground, the members of The Stroppies find themselves in many of your other favorite bands – Dick Diver, Boomgates, and The Stevens to name a few, but this lineup begs them entry to the quickly evolving Antipodean canon of jangles and misanthropes in the South Hemi.

The record was cobbled together in kitchen recordings, but doesn’t suffer for it’s humble beginnings. There’s plenty of snap strutting through these tracks, but also a a kind of easy warmth that feels like some friends finding fun in their common loves. Built on a bed of jangles, the band expands the typical young Aussie sound with the addition of tottering keys and gnawing stings that pull this ever so slightly towards the new wave and college rock impulses of The Go-Betweens. It’s a solid set for a debut, pocked with a bit of hiss that makes it feel like a well-kept secret. The Stroppies leaves plenty of wonder as to where they’ll go next. This feels like the early days of Dick Diver and despite the obvious carry-over of Steph Hughes between both bands, it’s ticking off a lot of the same boxes that endeared that band to me with each successive record. These guys are ones to watch for sure.



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Purling Hiss

The end of the year always brings the oddest gems – releases that slipped out late, misguided xmas singles and EPs that didn’t fit into the regular rotation of the year. It’s the latter that nips at the heels of 2017 from Purling Hiss. Where the band’s last album showcased a heavy dedication to the toughened strains of fuzz-chunked indie rock and psych, they let loose on this short format offering from Drag City.

The EP ties together some instrumental noise-psych snippets alongside some of their most accessible pop nuggets and even a lean into jangle-pop that seems surprising given their catalog. In whole the release is a bit indulgent, but that’s also exactly how it seems to be presented. It’s an end of the year grab bag / hodge-podge that wouldn’t fit with the band’s aesthetic. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few gems in here – “My Dreams” speaks highly to the band’s pop ability and to their potential to clean up. Though, what it really sounds like is the seeds of a new band. Sometimes there’s value in recognizing a great song that just needs to be released under a new heading. Nevertheless, Breeze is a nice little clutch of fun for 2017’s wind-down.




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Odd Hope

It’s hard to capture the feeling of an era lost. There are plenty of jangle-pop imitators and even a new crop of Kiwis that are attempting to resurrect what Flying Nun once found so effortless. In California, however, there remains a solitary lifeline to the sound in the form of Tim Tinderholt’s Odd Hope. Following on a solid single for Fruits & Flowers, Tinderholt has come ratcheting back with a perfect distillation of all those lost gems from the underside of the equator. Though, its not without noting that he’s also mining a great deal from The Jacobites and The Pastels as well. He’s found purchase not only in their sunny, jangled ebullience but also in the quieter, introverted weirdness that made so many of these ’80s and ’90s oddities such coveted releases.

Produced by Fruits & Flowers co-founder Glenn Donaldson, (Skygreen Leopards, The Birdtree) the record retains an unmistakable touch of his own homespun and hissed-flecked folk pop, but at the heart is Tim’s distinct gravitational pull. Tinderholt’s songwriting is given a treatment that flickers like an emergency candle in a power outage, an inviting harbor in the face of unblinking darkness. The album is both a beacon and a comfort. When he’s reflecting the brilliant sun’s glow there’s no other light that can hope to outshine his positivity, but when the vibes turn, as they often do, to smirking, unsure, melancholy and jittery, Tinderholt is the friend who understands just how overwhelming the outside world is.

So maybe just huddle down into these ten tracks like a blanket in a storm that may or may not pass. Tinderholt’s eponymous debut is the kind of record that’s destined to be missed by the oblivious as anathema to modern trends and revisited years later as a cherished totem to those who were paying attention. With so many of those types of records now getting the reissue treatment, it would seem only intuitive to nip into this while it’s fresh and fidgeting. Odd Hope is a truly endearing open wound that sucks the listener in with its weird and blissful ache.




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Spinning Coin

For all their plaudits abroad Glasgow’s Spinning Coin aren’t wrestling for review space Stateside. The crux of that probably has to do with my theory of America’s threshold for UK bands at any given time. I suppose the press feels we’ve already filled the tank on 2017, but that’s no reason to let this one languish. The album comes via a powerful pair of post-punk signifiers – released on The Pastels’ Geographic Music imprint and produced by Orange Juice’s Edwyn Collins. For what it’s worth, this sounds altogether like an album cherry-picked by The Pastels. It shares their penchant for jangled charms and an alternating emphasis on barbed hooks and lush surroundings.

That alternation is the key to Permo‘s strengths and, at times its unevenness. The band shares a pair of songwriters who each have a strength they choose to flex on any given track. Sean Armstrong tends to take his songs to those lush vistas, fully reclining in the bleary-eyed nostalgia of Sarah Records and the softer side of Creation. His counterpart, Jack Mellin tends to bring the ragged edge to Spinning Coin’s work, often making tracks that are fun but barely standing on their feet (which is not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion). The whiplash between gives the record plenty of variety, but can make it feel like two different bands. I’d think moving forward, they’d be wise to find a smoother way to bounce off of one another, but that kind of symbiosis takes time.

What comes about is a record that’s got a real grip on the past and more than half a handle on how to recontextualize the nostalgia. They hit the nail hard sometimes, namely the ragged glory of “Magdalene” or the frothing elation of “Raining on Hope Street”, but its clear there’s more in the coffers to come. This hits me in a lot of my personal obsessions, and I’m definitely going to keep an eye on where Spinning Coin winds up. For now, some playlists just got stocked up around here.


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Swiftumz – Game Six

You’d be forgiven for having missed Swiftumz’ two LPs over the years. Despite crafting consecutive albums of homespun pop that shimmers brightly, Chris McVicker’s output has slipped all too quietly out into the world via the Holy Mountain and Melters labels. Its a shame though, because both records captured an artist who is at ease with his corner of the world – tumbling through a muted brand of power pop, glimmering jangle-pop and slicing through the bleary-eyed glories of American Indie with a rather precise knife. So, it’s with the release of McVicker’s latest single that SF’s Fruits & Flowers posts their second essential release of the year.

“Game Six” is pure jangled glory, spillin’ sunshine out of its pockets like quarters on laundry day. Like most of MicVicker’s songs it sounds so effortlessly intuitive you’d almost swear you’ve heard it before. He’s a student of the late ’80s and early ’90s and given a good time shift would most certainly have been pulling down some zine ink. This track alone is worth the price of admission, but he backs it up with a b-side that’s also tipping the gold standard. Shifting into melted-amber Indie-pop mode here and threading his way through Galaxie 500 and Yo La Tango vibes as felt through the soul of the late great Brightblack Morning Light, he’s letting things fade into a sherbet sunset – glowing an orange aura around the track to the very end. Both songs are on endless repeat around here and you’d do well to snag one too.

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Odd Hope – “Reasons I Will Not Say”

Been a while since I’ve heard from Odd Hope, the solo project from Tim Tinderholt, but he’s back in fine jangled form on new track “Reasons I Will Not Say”. Still chasing the fading tail of the Sarah Records ghost, Tinderholt again creates a song that’s gently bumping the nostalgia centers of the brain. Full of wistful sighs and softly crying keys, it’s more fleshed out than the first single that he put out a few years back on Fruits & Flowers, a sign that the upcoming LP is shaping up to be a real jangle-pop contender. Produced by Skygreen Leopards’ Glenn Donaldson, the LP, also on the small SF imprint, is the label’s first full-length proper. If the rest of Tinderholt’s songs shape up as beautifully spare as this, then we’d all better keep an eye out for what’s sure to be a hushed classic in the making.




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Ciggie Witch – “Shadow”

Melbourne’s Ciggie Witch have found their own shambolic place in the pantheon of Aussie indie, refining and polishing their take since 2014’s Rock and Roll Juice. Alongside similarly conglomerate bands like Scott & Charlene’s Wedding or Wireheads, they’ve followed both pop brilliance and their own oddball impulses. But as with those two bands, when they’re on, they’re fucking on and they prove that with “Shadow,” a dark and sinewy ramble through jangled pastures. The song melds chiming guitars with mournful slide to find a place of bittersweet hope that’s elevated way beyond the fray of your average indie punters domestic or South Hemi. If the song is any barometer, their new tape for Lost and Lonesome is going to be a necessary pickup. Don’t let it get lost in the clutter of this overstuffed Fall.




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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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