Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

Comet Gain

It’s been a long time since the last Comet Gain LP graced the turntable, and in that time the world’s sought to smash itself head-first into the walls as often as possible. The woven comfort of their last album, while perhaps providing shelter from the storm, wouldn’t be quite what’s called for in this year of eroding centers, our own personal hell of 2019. So it’s only fitting that Fireraisers Forever! is here to save us from ourselves. David Feck is back with his knuckles bared, a la Réalistes, a companion piece in discomfort and disillusionment to their new slab. The record raises its teeth against politicians and the body politic, idiots and ignorance in all it’s greasy splendor. There’s a relentless restlessness to the album – turning their jangle n’ strum into a shield against the everyday dig of the doledrum foxhole.

Feck doesn’t feint as the record bursts open with a declaration that “We’re All Fucking Morons” and the rhetoric only gets more sizzle from there on out taking down the scumbags and scroungers on “The Institute Debased” and knocking the very core of nostalgia from its pedestal on “Mid 8Ts”. That said, it’s not all invective and gnash, there are moments that soften in the sun (“The Godfrey Brothers,” “Her 33rd Goodbye”) but they only balance the stiffened resolve of the rest of the album. This is a classic clash of Comet Gain impulses — melodic, melancholic, misanthropic, and mad and mellow. What’s clear is that Feck and co. have never lost a step over the years and every new Comet Gain just adds to the legacy.



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Failed Flowers – “Faces”

Slumberland continues to keep their latest singles series sprinkled with compelling reasons to funnel $100+ bucks into their pockets. They announce two more this week including the reappearance of Failed Flowers, Michigan’s indie pop sweethearts. The band, which holds Anna Burch and Fred Thomas as members delivered a solid, Sarah Records-soaked debut in 2016 and has remained largely silent ever since. This is likely due to Burch’s own solo career and Thomas’ busy schedule, but they roar back with two sides of C86 jangle that should put a smile right across your sourpuss. “Faces” is bright and sunny, janglin’ in twin guitar glory and ringing with the autumnal vocals of Burch that seep under the skin. If there was any doubt that the band still had that magic spark, this is proof positive. Gonna keep this one on repeat for the rest of the day.


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The Oilies – “Biting The Sky”

As her songs are want to, another gem has slipped out almost unnoticed from Carly Putnam’s (The Mantles, Art Museums, The Reds Pinks and Purples) The Oilies. Atop a lightly simmering beat, Putnam drapes linen lines of guitar, airy and comfortable in the heat around her. Her vocals are buried, but not lost, peeking up through the pop din with a sly smile. The whole song is bathed in the cool humidity of evening – low lights, stillness, solitude, and the linger of longing driving the track home. She hit on great territory with this year’s “Psychic Dog” single, but this hints at a less jangled direction for her solo outings. The singles all feel like she’s finding her tone and working up to a larger statement, but coming along for the process has proven to be rewarding. This one is unclasped, but infectious all the same.



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Robert Sotelo – “Mister”

‘Nother good one from Upset the Rhythm runs down the line. Robert Sotelo follows up his 2017 skewed-pop album Cusp with the equally beguiling Infinite Sprawling. The second single from the set, “Mister,” is a fuzz-beset pop-skimmer, slinging twang and jangle in equal helpings. Sotelo plays it straight, but the song’s got a bit of the curdled crowd in its DNA, picking up crumbs from the Deep Freeze Mice and The Soft Boys on the way through the wires. He’s paired the track up with a simple, yet unsettling video that’s cryptic as it is crazy.

Sotelo gives a bit of background behind the meaning of the clip, offering ”The video was made by Iain McCall and translates the lyrics for the song into Bliss Symbols. Iain himself stars in the vid. The song features Joan Sweeney from Current Affairs on vocals also and is about how constant online organisation around your creativity starts to take up more time than the creativity itself (well it kind of is haha)” His sophomore LP is out September 14th, and it’s a jittery shaker well worth your time.



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Comet Gain – “Mid 8Ts”

I’m always gonna be a sucker for Comet Gain. The UK janglers have long been holding up the legacy of C86 and jangle-pop with a biting wit and a constant sense of evolution on the sounds that built a sizeable indie enclave in the UK. The band last left us with the pillow-soft sensibilities of 2014’s Paperback Ghosts. It’s clear that they’ve had a bit of hardening up since then. The songs on Fireraiser Forever! are distinctly angrier in spots, but that doesn’t mean they can’t leave a little room for a swooning stomp on nostalgia as well. While the band’s admittedly ‘60s derived outlook might not seem like its primed to poke holes in the past, the new single begs otherwise. “Mid 8Ts” takes a few jabs at the rosy glow that’s placed on the past, giving themselves a bit of the lash as well for placing that kind of soft-focus fascination on the ’60 when they went through the ‘80s. As they say, “Your heart plays tricks on you, forgets the shit on your Beatle boots.” But in the end, they come around to the notion that “My punk rock damage is done. I’m here and its where I belong.”

The new LP is out on Tapete on October 11th. Gonna want to write that down.




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Parsnip

With their move from short-form EPs to a debut full-length, Melbourne’s Parsnip flesh out their indie-pop pedigree while still keeping an off-kilter sense of freewheeling fun. The foursome throwback to an era of pop that was built on the no-frills post-punk model, but leaned heavily towards the whimsical end of the spectrum rather than bristle with the self-serious slingers. With digs into Athens’ long-loved Oh Ok along with touches of indie notables like Confetti and Tiger Trap and just a dash of Mo-dettes, the band revels in strums and sunshine harmonies that bounce around the room in giddy glee. They’re just as apt to twist fuzz bass and nauseous organ into a fit as they are to bounce plaintive picnic guitars off the treetops. Their voices fit together with worn edges — puzzle pieces punched out on a budget, forming gorgeously uneven pictures that win listeners over with their charms despite themselves.

Even though there’s a touch of melancholy that seeps into When The Tree Bears Fruit, its hard not to leave with a smile as this one clicks to a close. Its a quiet saunter of an album, never in a hurry to get to its conclusions, never rushing its ramble. The band seem to be enjoying each and every wobbly note as much a child spinning around in until the dizziness overcomes their ability to stand. Not that these aren’t’ accomplished tunes, the band has a proclivity for hooks and they know how to pack each song with as much crystalized creativity as possible, but theirs no denying that worries drain away while this one’s playing. The record remains on their longtime home at Anti-Fade in their home country — a label worth keeping tabs on if there ever was one, but they split ownership Stateside with Trouble in Mind, who’ve been having a particularly banner year picking up Aussie exports.

While the summer skies are clear and cloudless, it’s recommended that you pop this one on the headphones and take a stroll around. There’s hardly another soundtrack as fitting to keep your spirits up and and take the edge of the week than this album right here.



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April Magazine – “Parade”

You have to listen a little harder to hear the pop buried under the haze in which April Magazine shroud their works. Under sweater-soft hiss there’s a jangle that’s lovely and unassuming. The band isn’t so much shoegaze, as that almost feels too confident for this sound. This is huddle-core, tented under blankets and letting their sound seep out through the fibers into the waiting spools of a four-track. That’s not to say that the sound that seeps out through the muffled barrier isn’t enticing, just borderline private. Its as if we the listener might be intruding on April Magazine’s works and the moment they turn around and see us listening we’ll both blush a bit from the awkward encounter. While they’re playing, though, the three songs here are comforting nooks to get lost in for a few moments.



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Allah Las – “Polar Onion”

Allah Las give another peek behind their new LP with a video for “Polar Onion,” a darker, more solemn track than the previously released “In The Air.” Instead of their usual shaggy jangle and touch of surf, “Polar Onion” captures the other edge of jangle-pop, the bittersweet pang of The Go-Betweens, or the quiet anguish of R.E.M. The band’s definitely explored this side before, but never quite as effectively as they do here. The video is animated by longtime Las and Mexican Summer designer Bailey Elder and it works blocks of swirling color into California motifs, balancing the cloudy strum with a palette of hazy colors and hand drawn rough edges. The band’s latest is out October 11th, from Mexican Summer.

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Thigh Master – “Mould Lines”

Brisbane’s Thigh Master issue their second LP on Goner and its a bright shot of jangle for 2019. Their debut had a great deal of promise and Now For Example clearly makes good on it. The first taste of the album is the rollicking jangler “Mould Lines,” which jumps off from The Bats and Clean footprints with some kind of wicked glee. Spinning its hooks ‘round and ‘round in the sun, the song’s underpinned with the shaggy split ends of post-punk, but more often it’s reveling in the indie-pop tangles that run wild at its heart. The record hits the shelves September 27th.



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The Reds, Pinks and Purples

Pretty much as long as there’s been a Raven, there’s been music on the site in some form by Glenn Donaldson. From Skygreen Leopards to The Art Museums, Birdtree to Giant Skyflower Band and Flying Canon, there are plenty of hallmarks that have made their way into life around here. Quite a few years ago, when I was putting together a compilation for the site’s third year anniversary, I asked Glenn for something from Skygreen and he put forth a new band he was working on called The Reds, Pinks and Purples. Still jangly, but not as driven to the winds as Skygreeen. The sounds would share quite a bit of DNA with Glenn’s next project, the pastel-hued pop hymns of Art Museums but they wouldn’t fully surface until now.

Soaring above some similarly synthetic beats, The RP,&Ps take more of a sauntered pace to their pop paradigm. These are the fruits of an artist who’s spent years in the jangle-pop portfolios of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Those colors don’t seem so arbitrary once the record gets spinning. The songs glow with rosy hues, beautifully bittersweet and hummably heartfelt. Like fellow West Coast jangler Business of Dreams, Glenn’s scratching n’ sniffing the discarded tears from the Creation and Sarah catalogs (with nods to Jasmine Minks, Sneetches, The Field Mice) but also leaning on South-Hemi heavies like the The Go-Betweens and The Bats. Glenn seems to ascribe no heavy debts to the songs. He mentions, “They are fiction and non-fiction. I recorded them in my kitchen, but we live in the future now, so some of them are coming out on vinyl in Spain. To me, they are straight pop songs with not much of a filter.”

Seems a bit modest to me. Glenn’s the filter and he’s caught all the filler and left an album that’s filled with charms, swoons, aches, and tears. We do live in the future, so people will probably break these into fodder for their personal playlists, but any track here would just as easily fill out the crucial crux of your crush’s mixtape or be heard between the crackled static of dorm radios late into the night on the campus station. The songs here are timeless reminders that pop can heal all wounds and bridge decades. Straight pop songs for sure, but remarkable ones to say the least.




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