Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

Tony Jay – “The Fence Disappears”

Got another good one out of the Paisley Shirt stable today, this time from RSTB fave Tony Jay. Following up the soft creep of his tape, A Wave In The Dark Mike Ramos assumes the TJ monicker once again and its just as full of bleary jangles blanketed in the loving arms of tape his as his last. As Tony Jay is more of a state of mind than a band, the video embodies’ Ramos’ alter-ego immersion into the character well — in high contrast black and white with Tony strumming like its the only thing that matters. Tony Jay is a study in contradictions, a corpse painted Joey Ramone with a hole in his heart and an aversion to volume. “The Fence Disappears” is wistful and tender, a lovely extension of what he brought forth on the last tape. Check out the video above shot, directed + edited by Kati Mashikian of April Magazine.



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Sad Eyed Beatniks

The run of low-key pop charmers out of San Francisco lately has been admirable to say the least and the crew at Paisley Shirt has been unparalleled in documenting the current slide from garage grit towards jangle-pop bliss. Though let’s not completely dismiss Rocks In Your Head, who are probably just about neck in neck with them at times. Nonetheless, this latest release from label head Kevin Linn’s Sad Eyed Beatniks nails the cross section of sounds that filters through his label. With an air of ‘80s jangle — The Clean, Verlaines, Cleaners From Venus, Deep Freeze Mice — and a hangover of ‘60s Nuggets that informed ‘em in its veins, Linn’s latest tape gives the Beatniks some shape and shine. Blurry-eyed swayers butt heads with wobbly harmonies and hooks that were too good to stay buried in the hiss that marked some of his early works.

The record’s definitely got a lineage cut out of the Barrett warmed plastic pop school, but its tempered by years of knowing that you can’t stare straight into that particular sun for too long without developing a permanent warp. With a quirky hook of song titles that represent geographic locations, the works on Places of Interest hammer out a series of vignettes that paint with a wide brush of strummed sunshine and it’s hard not to just let the whole thing wash over you in a delirious haze. The tape is out now and recommended for pick up before its disappears.




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Mixtape: Frank Infatuation – Jangle Pop Heirs to the ’80s Underground

It seems only fitting that this latest mixtape should grace the site on the same day that the Strum & Thrum review posts. The compilation and its focus on overlooked jangle-pop provided a seed of inspiration, alongside other notables like Sarah roundups Shadow Factory and Temple Road, Take The Subway To The Suburbs and, naturally, the C86 comp. I figured if we’re going to round some of the gems of our current era up later on, might as well have a good starting point. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this does not have the geographic specificity inherent in some of those. While it rounds up a particular sound of jangle / indie pop, the bands here swing from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand, with stops in the UK. Though someday, someone will have a wealth of opportunity rounding up the sounds of San Francisco in the Aughts/Teens and it will be well worth a listen. For now, this one should find a bit of a crack in the clouds and give you an hour’s worth of bittersweet sunshine.

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Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987

As a fan of jangle pop and exploratory compilations in general this deep dive into the less celebrated janglers from the American ‘80s underground is decidedly up my alley. The comp starts off a new series, Excavations, that explores some of the American impulses behind the sounds that built the basis foundation for the Captured Tracks roster. The label and Mike Sniper cite Pebbles, Soul Jazz, and Numero comps as an inspiration, and given that Mike’s history includes the compact, but excellent catalog of Radio Heartbeat, I’ve got a feeling he might someday expand this series to pick up where that short-lived, but still appreciated Numero spotlight on power pop might have gone. Though I’m just as happy to have them both run concurrent findings if the soul coffers run dry. That hope aside, this first compilation is packed with some great overlooked material that falls under the college rock tag that eventually gave way to Alternative with a bit more bravado over time.

A whole host of the bands on the tracklist here fit the bill for something like a Nuggets spotlight, though perhaps there’s a bit higher ratio skewed towards albums that pan out past the singles that Cap Tracks has pulled out to spotlight. Nicer price points too — a lot of the originals can be picked up in that magical and rapidly shrinking Discogs niche that’ll run you $8-15 for a gem. When I first found comps like Yellow Pills and Nuggets they acted as Rosetta stones for a world of niche sounds that expanded way past the stale radio fodder I found lumbering around the Midwest, and this comp has the potential to open up a whole new era to the kind of listeners like myself who were always looking for more. The comp threads its interest through vaunted labels (Homestead, Enigma) and more fringe players alike, but the sounds all tie together an ‘80s that, like Sarah and Postcard abroad, were acting in direct opposition to the more jocular zeitgeist that rose up all around them.

Packaged with a huge book of background on the artists, archival pictures and liner notes that dig into what makes each track such a worthy addition, the set is certainly worthy of the Excavations aspirations that they’re going for. If you’ve got a soft spot for the less punk strains that swam through the ‘80s underbelly then it’s hard not to be charmed by the round up here.



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Real Numbers – “Brighter Then”

Been a couple of years since I’ve heard from Minneapolis’ Real Numbers, 2017’s “Frank Infatuation” single, if I’m not misatken, but I could have missed something in there. The new single precedes an EP for the band on Slumberland and its as tender as the band has ever sounded, sanding down their jangle with a soft breeze and dressing it up with a homemade video that’s quietly comforting when we need it the most. They’ve always had a bit of a DIY edge, but this is some straight Sarah Recs love here, dipping into Brighter and East River Pipe waters. The song is breezy and bittersweet, a ray of sunshine through the leaves built on strums and sighs and just a little swell of keys. The EP is out in January from Slumberland.

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Smokescreens

It would stand to reason that for a band as enamored with the sounds of New Zealand janglepop as Smokescreens, recording your next record with David Kilgour from The Clean at the helm might be checking a lifelong dream off the list. The Kiwi legend brought his producing touch to the record and the collaboration has netted an album that’s reverent to the past — shades of The Chills, Toy Love, The Bats, Verlaines, Go-Betweens, and naturally The Clean abound — and yet still captures a wistfulness that’s as timeless as ever. The jangles here are clean and polished but with that slight brittle edge that inevitably pushes them closer to the Aussie/Kiwi axis than to the Byrds disciples and C86 acolytes. Though they take at least a bit of swipe or two through the UK over the course of the album and lean in wholesale with a cover of Scottish band Scrotum Poles that’s reverent, yet provides the perfect fit for their sound.

The band’s last album peaked my interest hard and they only double down here. The runtime is short, Smokecreens are not ones to overstay their welcome, but each song endears A Strange Dream even further. Bittersweet, breezy, catchy without becoming a confection, the band and Kilgour have created the kind of jangle-pop classic that’s hunted down a generation or two later. With their harmonies slightly askew, the tumble of strings soaked in sun and streaked with silver clouds, I couldn’t build a better mixtape of what’s endearing about their chosen era of admiration. It’s clear that the band are themselves curators and collectors of jangle-pop’s past and their enthusiasm creates a link in the lineage of ‘80s Dunedin that’s hard to resist for those of us that are always looking for more from this wellspring.




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Razorcuts – Storyteller (Deluxe)

It was a hectic summer and I hope you’ll forgive this one slipping beneath the waves for a bit, especially since there wasn’t a lot of dust kicked up about it Stateside. Optic Nerve has done the world a huge favor in reissuing both of Razorcuts essential LPs along with extended bonus discs that cull some key singles into the mix. The band, fronted by Gregory Webster and Tim Vass alongside a rotating cast of contemporaries, exemplified the C86 jangle-pop sound that has smitten so many, yet they’re often left shy of fame in hindsight. The band issued singles on Subway Orginization, Flying Nun UK, Sha La La, Caff Corporation, and Lamia and quite a few of these bits make it onto the second LP on offer here, making this a bit of an indispensable look at the band. Included are the band’s key singles “Sorry To Embarrass You” and “Big Pink Cake” along with harder to dig up splits with The Wolfhounds and covers of The Band.

As for Storyteller itself, the album finds the band in thrall with their own sound — wistful, tender, breezy – a bit of a beacon of light in 1988. The band had worked out their kinks by this point and, while the early singles have an immediacy on display, the lineup for Storyteller finds a thread through Webster and Vass’ influences, tying up sunshine pop, ‘60s jangle from The Byrds to the Beau Brummels, and a big indie heart that places them easily in the Creation roster while never skewing twee. I’ve always been a fan of the band’s follow-up, which acted as my entry point to Razorcuts and the label has also issued this along with a second disc that scoops up the rest of the EP tracks and compilation bits that don’t make it onto the early extras here. I’d recommend them as a pair, even for the casually curious jangle-pop fan. Both records are an absolute delight and the expansion packs here make put a wealth of previously harder to nab material back on vinyl all in one place. Sadly after Mile High Towers the band would crumble and crack. Vass would go on to play with Red Chair Fadeaway, and Webster would start up The Carousel and Saturn V. Notably, though they reunited under the name Forever People in 1992 for a one-off single on Sarah Records, making their indie-pop label trip complete.



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The Reds, Pinks and Purples

If you’ve spent time around the halls of Raven, then Glenn Donaldson’s bands are a familiar sight and his current fixtures The Reds, Pinks and Purples and Telephone Numbers have been a particular comfort in the past couple of years. RPP embody some of the same space that The Art Museums once occupied, albeit with a much heavier heart and a bleary-eyed autumn air floating about them. Tough Love has put together a mini-LP that rounds up more of the singles that Glenn’s been workshopping through Bandcamp over the past year and the picture that fits together on You Might Be Happy Someday fits the pieces together into a brief, but affecting record that’s hung up on lonely souls, impermanent living conditions, the small details that haunt the memory, and the sunset stains at the end of relationships.

Though he’s wandered through noise and folk quite often, The RPPs pick at the scars of a particular side of jangle-pop that knits together the quiet crouching of The Wake and more often, that of Brighter and St. Christopher from their Sarah years. Mix in some of the college rock fallout form the US around the same time, say The Springfields or The Suncharms and the record begins to take shape. Once under the gaze of Donaldson all these bits swim together into a melancholy melt — the body thrown to a sea of jangles, the mind grasping at the gauzy vocals that billow with a heavy heart and a halo of pink haze around them. This is just a precursor to an LP out soon in The States, but even though this might count as somewhat of a singles collection, it feels like a singular sigh. Those hooked on the early CapTracks era of Wild Nothing and Beach Fossils would do well to turn their ears towards wheat Glenn’s working up. Those were kids with newfound crushes, The Reds, Pinks and Purples have spent their years with the ‘80s sitting in their soul, ably transferring the anguish of the past into today’s heartache.




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Smokescreens – “I Love Only You”

More from the upcoming Smokescreens LP today, with another track of jangled joy produced by NZ legend David Kilgour himself. A bit slower than the previous patter of “Fork In The Road,” the dreamy strains of “I Love Only You” are smeared in a sundown haze. Slow thuds of drums, a spring-fresh piano pound and Rosi’s imploring vocals all lead to a bit of a damn breaka around the two-minute mark. Paired up with a bit of in-studio behind the scenes and street side busking, the video gives a nice breezy visual to the song. Today needs a bit of triumph and heartfelt hubris and Smokescreens are here to serve both. The new album is on the way from Slumberland October 30th.



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The Reds, Pinks and Purples – “Last Summer In A Rented Room”

Very excited that there’s more RP&P news today. While Glenn’s kept the digital coffers quite full over the past few months properly spoiling us all, the band’s physical offerings are still in short supply and heavy on the import fodder. While this news still comes from across the Atlantic, it’s nice to see a 12″ mini-LP entering the fray today via Tough Love. Meant to be an EP, but packed with songs true to the style of The Reds, Pinks and Purples, You Might Be Happy Someday gives a physical space to eight of the tracks that have eked out on Bandcamp over last Winter, acting as a nice companion piece to the “I Should Have Helped You” 7″ that came out around May. Fans of the RPP mixture of swooning melodies and crushing narratives won’t be disappointed with the first offering. “Last Summer In A Rented Room” is an audible lump in the throat, ennui made manifest. The song sits on the listener’s chest like a sob caught between chords. It’s a beautiful piece of somber jangle that slots in nicely alongside the rest of the band’s catalog. Not sure if there’s a US distro picking these up just yet, but you can nab one from Bandcamp on pale pink vinyl straight from the label. The 12″ is out October 2nd and keep an ear perked because there’s still talk of a Slumberland LP on the way as well.




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