Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

The Oilies – “Psychic Dog”

A while back I posted a homespun digital single from Carly Putnam, aka The Oilies, and now the artist is stepping out with her physical debut for the always charming Fruits & Flowers. Having spent time in The Art Museums, The Mantles, Horrid Red, and The Reds, Pinks & Purples, Carly’s well versed in the pastel-hued jangles that tend to drizzle down the window panes of the sould and “Psychic Dog” doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The first cut from the EP lopes through a set of competing strums set against the click-stop backdrop of drum machine snap. The track is wistful and wanting, combining the simple charms of Marine Girls with the pulse n’ pine of Jazzateers. For those who readily wander down the lesser traveled paths of the ‘80s this is just what the grey-skied winters ordered.



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Sleeper & Snake

While Sleeper & Snake pairs up the great Al Montfort and Amy Hill, who’ve both found themselves in league as band mates in Terry, the album isn’t quite the pop pairing that it seems on the surface. The hint lies in the name – Sleeper & Snake. Last year Montfort released a record titled Snake & Friends which shied away from his strums, jangles, and geniality for a record that was steeped in offbeat electronics and free jazz fizz. This is, by many measures, an offshoot of that record and not quite a brand new beginning. Though the two hint at a duo dynamic throughout, crafting some bittersweet janglers like the first single “Sugar and Gold,” which recounts the sordid backstory of Queensland with a breezy beat and the pair’s time-tested askew harmonies.

Montfort peppers the album with plenty of his Snake-style freeform dropout fare, buzzing against the cloudy charms of the opener and fellow janglers “Wisdom Vermin” and “The Lucknow Sound.” At times they threaten to overwhelm the album, but there’s more here than just sound collage sandwiched between a couple of singles. The pair push the pop envelope on the triptych on side one, “Junction and High” (pts 1, 2, & 3). They ease in strumming, but less palatable than they’d offered on the opener – a moth-eaten pop song that’s only letting the chaos consume it as it works its way through the second and third movements. In this portion of the album they show the heavy influence of Elephant Sixers like Olivia Tremor Control and Circulatory System – holding a similar glee in letting their gold peek through the din for those willing to walk the maze.

For a debut it holds a lot of promise, though I know that both artists have so much on their plate this may be a one off, which would be too bad. Its got a lot of promise as a premise, though I’d think they should embrace that E6 mafia mentality full bore. If you whittle down the noisemakers under the 1:30 mark and stretch it out with a few more high concept pop like “Jangle and High” this could work its way towards jangle-psych bliss. Still, its by no means a miss for two Aussie pop smiths at the top of their game. Though for many their hand will be seeking the skip button or nabbing the needle, this is an ambitious swing with a lot to love.



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Boyracer – “Strong Arms / Teardrops”

Emotional Response continues to be a lifeline to Sarah Records in the here and now. After a string of reissues, including Even As We Speak, Action Painting, and Boyracer’s own earl EPs, the label is now working with the band on a new album due out later in the year But, bonus on bonus, these two non-album cuts have found their way out into the world early via a 75-run lathe cut single. “Strong Arms” is picks up nicely where vintage Boyracer left off, pinning a splash of fuzz to the jangle that long pervaded the Sarah roster. The song tumbles over itself in pure exhumeerance, veering wildly in its lane and spilling confetti out of the windows as it speeds away. The flip isn’t quite as breathless, but its a jolt of joy nontheless, if you can wrap old habits around Boyracer sneering about streaming albums. For fans of the band’s career (which stretched long after the seminal label folded through Slumberland, A Turntable Friend and Fluff Records) this is another great entry to their pristine run.



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Holiday Ghosts

UK four-piece Holiday Ghosts began molding their sound on their eponymous debut, but they’ve cemented it on the follow-up, West Bay Playroom. Named after their recording and rehearsal space, an actual playroom in guitarist’s Sam Stacpoole’s childhood home, the album has an appropriate feeling of playfulness and a loose-slung ease that feels less like a band nailing takes and more like a band simply enjoying themselves with luck keeping the tape rolling. Antithetical to many of their UK counterparts, the record is shaggy, loose and jangled in a way that’s more akin to Aussie exports, Athens indie-pop purveyors, and downstream Boston jangle-punks hung on Jonathan Richman now and forever.

The songwriting bounces nicely between Stacpoole and the equal charms of drummer Katja Rackin, but the band’s got a knack for sunny-sky harmonies that make every song feel like a family affair. They cycle through their jangles with an egalitarian ear – bouncing from the paisley popped blues of the ‘60s through Go-Betweens sleekness of the ‘80s. Yet they push beyond the sometimes high-buttoned affectations of the style, instead injecting a jocularity, humor and twang that feels like they have a few copies of Violent Femmes, Camper Van Beethoven, and Meat Puppets knocking around their personal collections as well. Ultimately, the record coheres into a fun rumble through racks that never feels cobbled together, but rather cherry picked with an eclectic love for bittersweet pop and four conduits built to pull it off without a hitch.



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Tullycraft

Seven albums in and well removed from the heyday of indie-pop that that they just barely caught in their own early years, Tullycraft are back with one of their best. The band was always just a tad late, but wiser and wryer than their classmates, having worn their “out-of-fashion” status proudly on their sleeves. The band made their mark with slogan-worthy ditties like “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend is Too Stupid To Know About” and sentiments that rang, “Fuck Me, I’m Twee,” which they are. They definitely are. They’ve long been giving the young’uns a few role models to emulate, though, and as they litter zines and band badges across the bar for the taking, they’ve inspired more than a few of those introverts to pick up a powder blue strat and nerd out their own catalog.

Tullycraft are, in fact, textbook twee, but there’s a sense that they’ve been writing that book all along. They’re indie-pop historians and flameholders for the big, bright pastel worlds that are woven out of jangles, boy-girl harmonies, and overly dense lyrics. The hooks here decry parties soundtracked by radio staples, detail relationships built on what you like and not what you’re like, then map out the downfall of shared living spaces with proper doses of humor and ennui. Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears keep things sweet, sometimes even saccharine, but if you’re looking for indie-pop that lets you escape without a little frosting and felt on your hands, you’d be wise to look elsewhere.

Tollefson spits out literate lyricism with the kind of tongue-twister plot cramming that made John Darnielle sit down and write some actual books to get it all in, but he manages to make each aural acrobatic as infectious as can be. The Railway Prince Hotel distills what’s best about the band and bottles it up for a new generation that could use a little optimism in a natty cardigan. In a lot of ways Tullycraft seems like the gateway drug to a long rabbit hole spent mining old BMX Bandits video clips and Tallulah Gosh b-sides that inevitably ends up with a strange late-night fascination with The Bus Stop label output that your friends write off as a phase. However, on grey days, overwhelming months, and sleepless nights its nice to know that Tullycraft are out there weaving agita into squirreled hooks and private moments of exuberance that wind up secret handshakes for the next generation.



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Business of Dreams

I was surprised and delighted to see Corey Cunningham back at the controls of Business of Dreams so quickly. His eponymous LP from 2017 showed a deep love for the smeared and smudged end of the Creation catalog and more than a blushing brush with indie pop conduits Sarah, Postcard and Subway Organization. Folding back into his onetime home at Slumberland, where he previously worked in Terry Malts, the songwriter is riffling through the same single stacks as last time with a touch more polish and a slight step out into the sun. Where his previous album seemed custom made for long nights alone, the curl of fog around lamplight, and the drawn bedroom curtains, there’s a bittersweet edge to Ripe For Anarchy.

Blurred against the blare of the sun, the album’s still gum-stuck to the skitter of drum machines and hung on melancholia, but it’s also a perfect companion for enjoying the day and shirking off the lingering pang of depression that gnaws at the belly. Cunningham dips into the jar of jangles more often here, and even slips the beat altogether to croon against the soft pad of synths entangled in nylon strings with a heartsick heavenliness. While Business of Dreams might not be fully beach ready, RFA is out of the darkness and living for the little moments.

There’s something inherently perfect about synthpop for dealing with love and loss, and for every band that nails the nuance, ten more miss the mark horribly. On his sophomore outing, Cunningham proves to be not only an adept crafter of hooks, but an artist gifted with the ability to tap into just the right mix and measure of self-loathing, celebration, joy and frustration to make the genre work. He coats it all in an earworm bliss that’s hard to shake, making this an essential listen for the start of 2019, and likely a habitual home to return to as the year progresses.



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NRP: Razorcuts – The World Keeps Turning

Its been a while since I’ve gotten to dig into a Necessary Repress, but the list is long and heavy. For a refresher, the series aims to look at releases that have been left out of the vinyl boom and the constant savaging for every conceivable pop artifact to put back into circulation. This usually comes to a head around Record Store Day when labels look at rosters for any item they can cannibalize back into the market, without thinking about how necessary represses of best of compilations and unloved singles truly are. That’s not to say that there aren’t deserving corners of the market still left out of the spotlight, though. Its just never the ones you love, is it? In that regard, I submit the catalog of C86 / Creation alums Razorcuts, and more specifically, their excellent sophomore album The World Keeps Turning.

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Bingo Trappers

A wonderfully slapdash enigma of a record, the 11th catalog entry for Amsterdam’s Bingo Trappers comes to the world via more record labels than you can properly sort – Almost Halloween Time, Morc Tapes, Unread Records and, finally, Grapefruit here in the US. The band has been plugging at their shambolic brand of ’60s-bent folk pop since the ‘90s and, while they might carry the hallmarks of buried Elephant 6 castoffs, they’re true guitar pop purists who’ve managed to make time drifted classics that are humble, hummable and charming time and again. Past entries to their catalog have floated to the surface on Shrimper, Animal World and Muze, but this is only the third time they’re getting a proper wax treatment, having been stranded in the CD-r ditches of the early aughts and stuck handing off cassettes at shows before nostalgia made them cool again.

On Elizabethan they’re plowing through their usual clutch of influences and adding in a couple of new nuances for the hell of it. They swipe at the homey humor of Muswell Hillbillies, sneak in a little ? and the Mysterians’ organ wobble, pick endlessly at the early works of The Byrds and sift through John Cale’s passed over choruses. However, since the Trappers are doing it all on a shoestring sensibility, the outcome lands closest to the likes of Deep Freeze Mice or The Stray Trolleys peppered with just a touch more sun-buttered slide. That country touch gives the record a heavier gravity than some of their past platters, spools, or decaying plastic curios. The blurry sunshine that dapples their approach makes this feel like private press gold snagged from the dollar bins wanting jaws or Kinks demos that have been chewing on “God’s Children”-vibes like an infinite earworm. Quite recommended that you check it out.


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Business of Dreams – “Keep The Blues Away”

Business of Dreams’ debut was a favorite around here when it came out a couple of years back, so its good to see Corey Cunningham (Terry Malts, Smokescreens) get the bump up to Slumberland from his own Parked in Hell label for album number two. The first taste of Ripe For Anarchy swims in similar waters to that debut – rifling through the racks of C86 alumni, Creation Records deep cuts and Sarah Records compilation faves for just the right pang. “Keep The Blues Away” is smeared and dreaming, rolling on the bed in heartache and procrastinating the thought of going out for fear of being overwhelmed. Cunningham has a penchant for pop, but he buries the bursts under a half ton of velvet curtains in the guise of Business of Dreams. I’m all for the advancement of introvert synthpop in 2019. Can’t wait for more of this.




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The Stroppies – Cellophane Car”

Great news arrives from the South Hemi today with the announcement that Melbourne’s Stroppies have a proper debut on the way from Tough Love in March. The band’s been charming fans of wobble-pop and Kiwi-leanin’ jangle for some time, spitting out a lauded EP and a couple of choice 7”s over the past couple of years. The band’s sound is largely indebted to The Clean but retains many other slacker-smirk hallmarks that pock marked members’ previous bands (Boomgates, Twerps, Blank Statements, Pimetime). The first single is nothing short of another stunner from the band’s expanding catalog – sprightly jangles pinned to sauntering organ with not a spot of polish in sight. Their embrace of the shaggy dog ethos of Aussie’s best indie gives the album a lived-in earnestness and keeps them counted among the most endearing proponents of jangle in a field stuffed with competition in their homeland.

Check the video for “Cellophane Car” above and get ready for Whoosh in March.

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