Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

Patience – “White Of An Eye”

The end of Veronica Falls always left me feeling a bit sad. The band’s perfect distillation of jangle-pop on the skids, sunny melodies with a tear in their eye, was always comforting. James Hoare has gone on to a myriad bands in the interim, but Roxanne Clifford’s output has been more selective. Now on her third single as Patience, Clifford is ably working a brand of synth-pop stung with jangles and it suits her well. “White Of An Eye” swims through the backwaters of the ’80s – mopping up bits of The Jasmine Minks on a bender with Chris & Cosey and Strawberry Switchblade. Hopefully this third single signals the oncoming announcement of an album proper. For now, though, we’ll have to just enjoy it on its own merits. This one’s been growing on me with each subsequent listen.

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Premiere: The Lovebirds – “Ready To Suffer”

San Francisco is full of guitar rock of the jangled variety but rising above the typical Mission fray soars The Lovebirds. They’re packing a satchel full of chiming chords here, but rather than throw a nod to SF’s ’60s roots, they channel College-ready literate charmers and powerpop dandies alike, drawing a line from the Groovies on down to Elvis Costello and Teenage Fanclub waiting in the wings. “Ready To Suffer” flicks at the subconscious, feeling familiar in a way that pushes it out of time, like a lost b-side from the archives of any of those bands.

It certainly doesn’t holler fresh-faced kids about town, that’s for sure, but that’s to the band’s credit as scholars of their influences. Add to the quality tunes some mix n’ master duties from RSTB faves Glenn Donaldson and Mikey Young respectively and this is a tight package and prime introduction to a band to watch.




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Beach Fossils

You know, its been a while since I reviewed a Beach Fossils release and for good reason, its been nearly four years since their last. They’ve steadily built on the sound that hooked me on their debut, but with Somersault they finally shake off the trappings that come with being a Captured Tracks jangle band and grow exponentially. Leaving Captured Tracks for their own Bayonet Records may have something to do with the freedom of sound, but its not without noting that this sounds like the biggest and likely most expensive Beach Fossils record. Not that money makes a good record, but they’ve certainly used it wisely to flesh out the lush orchestrations and mature sound of Somersault.

Age likely plays into songwriter Dustin Payseur’s transition to a cleaner, crisper and more enveloping sound. The songwriter edged into his 30’s while this release was under way and, in NYC years, that brings about more of the quarterlife musings than a true-life 25. He’s touching on the transitions of friendships that happen at this mile-marker, the disillusionment with the city as it begins to ebb further from the artist’s environment and an even deeper disillusionment with one’s country as it begins to drift into political tastes that sour the tongue and wear on the soul.

At it’s core though Somersault is a record about who you surround yourself with, friends and family — surrogate families of the kind that spring up in the city. Paired with the band’s equally introspective songwriting and reliance on orchestration on this album this makes for their best recording to date. The band is slipping the veneer of their old ’80s heroes and transitioning into a new set; trading in The Wake for late period Felt. Though, to be fair they really seem to just using those influences as a jumping off point these days. This is the world as it twists about Beach Fossils in blurred tones of comfort and depression. It’s the sound of a band coming into their own, the scrappy Brooklyn kids replaced with artists looking to make a record that will outlive them all. They may well have done just that.




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Premiere: Milk Teddy – “Rock n’ Roll Cretin”

It’s no secret that Aussie pop reigns high on the list of RSTB favorite topics, and I’m always dismayed that distance gives folks in the States pause to check out bands that aren’t necessarily rolling through their towns. Case in point, Milk Teddy put out a nuanced, shimmering debut as a split between Lost & Lonesome and Knock Yr Socks Off Records back in 2012. The album, largely lost on US listeners, paired perfect strums with the high, mournful croon of Thomas Mendelovits. After too long a wait, the band is back and readying a new LP for Lost & Lonesome, due out in August. The first track lays right back into the languid strums and cyclic chimes of guitar that should appeal to any chasing up the Captured Tracks catalog. They peek out a bit, though, from the echoplex haze that surrounded their debut like a delicate fog.

In that respect it looks as if the new album, Time Catches Up With Milk Teddy, boasts a bit of an expanded palette, with more space creeping into the mix and a clash of synths that results in the swelling coda on “Rock ‘n Roll Cretin.” In essence, it’s Milk Teddy, pushing out of the basement and onto a much bigger stage. If you missed Zingers then its probably time to play a bit of catch up and get excited for a the band’s next phase. I know I am.



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Premiere: Rat Colums – “Blinded By The Shadow”

One of my true faves this year has been Rat Columns’ Candle Power LP on Upset The Rhythm. The band turns in a stark video for the absolute standout, “Blinded By The Shadow. The track eschews much of the album’s propensity for jangle in favor of slinking keys and staid bass line; by the time those melancholy strings kick in, you’re more than hooked. It’s a post-punk gem that calls back on all the right bits of the ’80s for inspiration and proves that West and co are truly hitting a peak with this album. The video is as appropriately dressed down as the track, whitewashed and buttoned up. If you’re still missing out on Rat Columns, take today to right that wrong.


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Look Blue Go Purple – Still Bewitched

In putting together a comp of great jangle-pop last month I was sad to see that female voices, as with many genres, often went underrepresented. One of the brightest stars, and subsequently most often overlooked came in the form of Dunedin group Look Blue Go Purple. The band arrived as part of the Flying Nun stable’s second wave, beginning a run of great EPs from 1985 through 1987. The EPs – Bewitched, LBGPEP2 and This is This – all make their way onto this compilation along with a cache of live tracks spanning from their formation in 1983 to their dissolution in ’87.

The band perfected that distinctive New Zealand jangle, but augmented it superbly with woven vocals, melancholy keys and spectral flute. They worked their way into the canon of culture in their homeland, but unlike contemporaries in The Chills and The Bats, they didn’t find a foothold outside of the country at the time, making them more of a secret handshake between Flying Nun and jangle lovers. The band sprang out of a desire to create music with other women, and though they took inspiration from The Raincoats and The Slits, they were adamant in not presenting themselves as a purely feminist well-spring. Sadly, their status as one of the singular female bands rising in Dunedin lead them to endless questions about gender in regard to their music.

The focus away from the music is criminal, as Look Blue Go Purple remains one of the more nuanced jangle-pop bands to come out of the area. They, like The Beach Boys before them, knew the power of layering vocals in valleys of harmony. Adding to this is the power trio at the core of their songwriting – Denise Roughan, Kathy Bull, and Norma O’Malley. The latter provided the distinctive key swells and enchanted flute parts that truly separate the group from the pack, while Roughan and Bull kept the jangles knotted and the bounce elastic. Flying Nun has done a service getting these EPs bound up on 2xLP, and though the historical inclusion of the live tracks gives this a strong perspective, the fact that it creates a whole new release from their 1991 compilation means that they forgo putting this amazing cover on the gatefold. All in all, this falls heavily in the essential pile.




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Major Leagues – “It Was Always You”

Brisbane’s Major Leagues have been pumping out singles and short form releases that are packed with indie pop charms, but they’re now on the precipice of an album proper. “It Was Always You” heralds their upcoming full length for Aussie indie Popfrenzy, and it’s a swooning bit of jangle pop that’s got a bittersweet heart. A pitch perfect ode to lost love, the song pines in blurred hues that creep up between the tears on a warm summer’s day. The love may be over but at least something beautiful remains in it’s absence. This track piques interest for that full length for sure. For now though, just gonna hit repeat on this one a few times.




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Rays

It’s good to see some RSTB worlds colliding on the debut record from Oakland’s Rays. The band, which cribs members from local acts like Violent Change and Life Stinks, brings together the nervy, popped-vein Maplethorp dregs of ’70s art pop with the shaggy drive of the current crop of incestuous Aussie and New Zealand punks. Drawing on the twitching, uncomfortable vein of punk that spawned bands like Electric Eels, Television and The Fall the band instead imagines those souls coming together on a Brisbane budget, recorded with friends who’ve all found solace in their outsider status and lack of steady employment. It’s relentless in it’s pursuit of the ramshackle charms that drove Flying Nun back catalog and made heroes out of Dunedin’s scrappiest janglers.

That’s not to say that the band comes off as overly derivative. Rays just seem to know the sound they want and they’re taking it with measured strokes. They’re also making it seem effortless in the process. They’ve enlisted a double shot behind the boards, with Kelley Stoltz recording and Mikey Young spit shining it to a scotch taped gloss. Like fellow Trouble In Mind labelmates Omni, they’ve found a way to Polaroid the past with a touch of tape hiss, a bit of bookish devotion to their forebears and some good ol’ frenetic fretwork. The album rides the line between din and divine well, couching bouncy hooks inside gnarled amp fury and crushing paranoid pulses into oddly aloof classics. Something tells me this is going to be the kind of album that’s not loved enough in it’s time but regarded well with 20/20 hindsight.




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Mixtape: Shame About The Rain

Heading into the third installment of the RSTB Mixtape series here and this one speaks to a crucial influence on the site. There’s been no shortage of jangle pop in the last couple of years, particularly because a current crop of Aussie and US bands seem enamored with the sounds of Creation, Sarah, September and Flying Nun. This mix is a tribute to the sound of English rain. It’s full of faraway looks, pining hearts and more than a few hooks. By no means a definitive overview but I have to say, not a shabby collection of janglers here. Check out the stream and tracklist below.

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The Wild Poppies – Heroine

Wellington New Zealand’s The Wild Poppies grew up out of the country’s verdant jangle-pop leagues, though they broke for greener pastures in England not long after their formation. The band’s legacy is ensconced in their sole album, Heroine, the preceding single and a follow-up EP that was aptly titled Out of Time. Their move to the UK toughened their sound and added in a bit of shoegaze to their sunnier Kiwi stylings, aided in no small measure by their housemates at the time from Swervedriver. The reissue of their album contains their entire output with a few unreleased tracks thrown in for good measure, following them through each phase of the band’s life.

As is all too often the case timing turned out to be the band’s enemy and as they wound their way out of their swan song EP, they sensed tastes changing in the UK, swinging away from their ’80s jangles and into the arms of dance culture. It’s too bad as their tougher edge showed great promise. They disbanded shortly after and the band members went on to leave music behind. Still this remained a long respected item in jangle-pop collector’s circles and it’s good to have the whole collection back on vinyl.




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