Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

Free Time

The debut from Free Time, the Melbourne via NYC via now Melbourne again band surrounding songwriter Dion Nania, was a breezy bit of jangle-pop that hinted at the sadness below. On his follow-up, Nania digs the songs further into that inherit sadness, feeling rooted in an aimless wander quality that’s both lost and reflective. Begun with Jarvis Taveniere here in the States with his NY band and finished back home in Australia with a new band comprised of friends from Twerps, Totally Mild and Terrible Truths, the record is tighter than its predecessor, and its easy to see how some of the current US strummers; Real Estate, Kurt Vile, etc have made their mark on Nania’s own take on the jangle formula.

Flecked with some soft rock sax and buoyant keys, the album’s a fuller realization of Nania’s pop worldview, not as threadbare as the first, but still feeling like its a world away from overstuffed indie-pop. There’s space that hangs in the songs here, adding to the shaggy sheen that gives In Search of Free Time a presence, humming in your ear like a good friend. There’s actually something in the vocal delivery on songs like “Who Owns The Moon?” that remind me quite nicely of Hunx’s stripped pop curio Hairdresser Blues. Like that record, this one has a confessional quality to it and the feeling of listening to Nania letting us in on his bittersweet sighs is one of a willing shoulder rather than observant therapist. We’re there with him and we all feel his pain, and share a beer in solidarity. Its a big step up from Free Time’s debut and one that’s grown some real legs around here.




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Able Tasmans – A Cuppa Tea and a Lie Down

In contrast to some of their louder peers on Flying Nun, Able Tasmans boast a more acoustic jangle-pop focused sound that’s fleshed out nicely with keys. That doesn’t leave them by any means delicate, as opener “What Was That Thing” will attest. The band is more just as likely to indulge in a gorgeous strum as they are to incorporate wild and cathartic yelps and they push and pull between ecstatic and contemplative over the course of the album. They jumped onto the Flying Nun roster with The Tired Sun EP, which is included in Cap Tracks’ expanded reissue, followed up by the “Buffaloes” single, whose A-side is also incorporated into the expanded package here. This stands as their magnum opus, a gem of a sprawling album that pushes all over the map of Dunedin jangle at the time (though they were in fact from Whangarei), pulling in catchy charms, spastic angst, and even more experimental bits of spoken word collage. It stands as a true highlight in the Flying Nun catalog.

The band would follow it three years later with the more compact Hey Spinner! and push on into the nineties before disbanding. The later works don’t have the same impact as this debut, which pulled the Dunedin sound out of its guitar rut and into something of an update with their focus on keys as an integral part of their sound. A nice package from Captured Tracks’ diligent efforts to reissue key parts of the Nun catalog for sure and the extras make a nice bonus to the original album, giving it a bit of context as to where the band were leading up to its creation.



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Loose Tooth

Melbourne’s Loose Tooth pack a lot of power into a shaggy but shiny first EP. The songs on Saturn Returns pass the mic back and forth between male and female vox, with both sides of the coin finding easy footing in their Aussie pop charms. The band peppers the tracks with a good glut of guitar jangle and the occasional fret workout or caffeinated crunch, but the key is locking it all down with the driving force of Luc Dawson’s bass. They pull from a good amount of 80’s janglers who came before them on both sides of the ocean, taking bits of American, Brit and Aussie indie stalwarts alike (Some Sea Urchins here, some Heavenly and Beat Happening there, dashes of Able Tasmans) but they’ve mashed them into a mixed bag of pop snacks and shaken the whole thing nicely, finding little bits of each rearing their heads within one track.

The band’s recording setup was locked down by what’s becoming one of my favorite two punch package of Paul Maybury behind the boards and Mikey Young on mastering. They’ve both reared up as a litmus of quality Aussie youth and Loose Tooth is another nod in the right direction from both. Its a fun first foray from the band and one I hope leads to more for sure.




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Bad Vision – “Goons”

Melbourne’s Bad Vision have taken their frenetic punk down a notch and added a bit of pop, a lot of jangle and a slight bit of twang to the mix. The pop concoction “Goons” from their forthcoming LP, Turn Out Your Sockets, comes in sounding rather close to RSTB fave and recent entry into our ‘Most Overlooked’ list, Thomas Function. In the same fashion as their American counterparts, the Aussies pin driving country-tinged jangles to explosive choruses full of tales of bored suburbanites and its endless fun to shout along to their declarations that they “don’t want no good advice.” The track’s got anthemic written into its seams and if the rest of their upcoming LP is half as fun as this opening salvo, then I’m certainly upright and paying attention.





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The Goon Sax

Chapter Music pull in the youth vote with a trio of younguns from Brisbane’s The Goon Sax. The band’s ages average around 17-18 and though they seem to have absorbed en masse the jangle-pop paradigm, they still know how to keep things juvenile, in the best ways, of course. The songs on Up To Anything capture the raw nerve and jittery emotions of teenage life like a quickly snapped cell phone photo that’s candid and revelatory at the same time. The kinds of pictures that find one person staring at another longingly and a second person persistently distracted by the distance or dissonance. They pin the modern onto the universal, passing tales of anxiety, shame, annoyance and home haircuts off with a style that’s eyeing the past but nevertheless a fairly easily digestible pop for the new class. Given that they’re capturing the emotions of the day through the perpetually doomed lens of teenage life, they know how to parlay to moping when the need arises, but the jangles keep those sentiments from grinding the listener down. This one’s got legs for sure and each new spin cracks a new grin or two from their humble but honest take. Chalk up another win for Chapter music and the South Hemi pop sound.





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Flowers

There are plenty who have embraced 80’s jangle as if it were the dominant paradigm of popular rock, with a zest that’s bordered on mission statement in some corners of Brooklyn and London. Flying Nun is held high. C86 is a bible. But to do it well, it can’t all just sound like a retread of greatest hits, and London’s Flowers have found that sweet spot between sounding like they could have lived alongside their influences and pushing the sounds of those legends a bit further. The band’s certainly versed, setup with the prerequisite totems of their 80’s education, but they’ve taken swooning pop, light ‘n sweet jangles and the fuzz-bitten layers of guitar and stacked them into the shape of a future classic.

I wrote about a Flowers lathe way back in 2012 and its hard to believe this could be the same band. They hit all the right marks to make a record that feels like its been sitting, just waiting to be found all along. Everybody’s Dying To Meet You sounds like its soundtracked a thousand heartaches before it ever reached my ears and now its here to wrap a comforting arm around the speakers and nod comfortingly. There’s an art to making a timeless record, and after finding myself playing this almost unconsciously day after day, it really feels like its got the hallmarks. Something about Rachel Kennedy’s vocals just hit home like a pang of nostalgia cramped into the pit of the stomach that aches sweetly, like having a crush on the past. They put the extra scoop of authenticity on the record by enlisting Brian O’Shaughnessey (The Clientele, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine) on production duties. He’s pushed the band into the mold they seemed destined to inhabit all these years. This one is topping out my list of 2016 obsessions.





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Pete Astor

The concept of this record is kind of an inter-generational mindblow. Pete Astor’s already lived a dozen lives and for his work in The Loft alone, I’ll remain forever grateful; seriously, “Up The Hill and Down The Slope” should be on every 80’s playlist. Also a member of fellow Creation stablers The Weather Prophets, the man’s got credentials to spare, so on name alone you should be hooked. Somehow though, he’s connected with one of our generation’s own jangle-pop savants, James Hoare (Veronica Falls, Ultimate Painting) and together they’ve mashed their minds to create an album that sounds reverently ripped out of time. The songs on Spilt Milk are cut from the cloth of the best of the class of ’86, but given modern twist of the knife.

For the most part the two are just keeping everything reclined and refined until the very last notes skip to the runout. By the time you get around to standout “Perfect Life” you’re absolutely hooked on this album, its the kind of song that feels like its always just been. Those songs that feel like they’re bound to end up in a Wes Anderson movie at some point. Hoare and Astor make perfect foils, and this album doesn’t feel like a hero worship so much as two janglers just recognizing the badges on their jackets across a crowded room and finding common ground once the tape starts rolling. Its just a slow breaking smile the whole way through.




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Jean-Paul Sartre Experience – I Like Rain: The Story of The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience

Fire Records have gone through the exhaustive work of compiling this retrospective of the JPSE and its well worth the time to wade through the band’s storied history. Their debut is a charming record that felt apart from the rest of the Flying Nun stable. There’s jangle, but more often there’s a subtle wash of grey-skied melancholy and an early indie pop simplicity that feels more akin to the outset of the Creation records stable than many of their contemporaries at home. Love Songs introduced the band with the hit that this collection takes its name from and its a pretty fitting entry point to the band’s catalog.

Size of Food has always overshadowed the debut in critical acclaim but at the time of its release it fell on many deaf ears. Delayed by two years due to some financial finagling on Flying Nun’s part, the album finally hit shelves without much in the way of fanfare. But hindsight being what it is, this one stands as a benchmark of fractured pop that would have lasting reverberations even if it didn’t shake scenes at the time of its issue. Their final album, Bleeding Star saw the band enter the studio, amp up the production (some critics would argue too much) and finally allow themselves some international acclaim. But where the album saws off a bit of their connection to jangle, it dives headlong into a buzzing sea of guitars that buoy that same melancholy they’d always let through with a stronger punch. This album also garnered support from Matador in the States and they finally made it over for some dates only to pull themselves apart in the process. This would prove their last effort. In addition to the albums themselves this collection ropes in bonus tracks, tracks from the alternate US/NZ pressings and singles. They might not top your list of essential bands of the late 80s/early 90s but spend a little time with the JPSE and let this collection wash over you. It will definitely surprise you.





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