Posts Tagged ‘Jangle-pop’

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.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

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.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

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.



Support the artist. Buy it or HERE.

0 Comments

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.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

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.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

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.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Pop Filter

It’s hard to think about The Ocean Party now without the specter of loss hanging over the band. The band’s Zac Denton was taken too soon and it seems that the band needed a break from their former name, leaving The Ocean Party behind along with Zac’s memory. Thus is born Pop Filter, a new nameplate, but with the same bittersweet heart beating underneath. Banksia is packed with rippling jangles, rhythmic twang, and a wealth of self-effacing lyrics that embrace a wistfulness that can only happen in your twenties. The band layers in a good dose of keys in combination with the shift to becoming Pop Filter and the slight twist of New Wave fits in nicely with their Aussie amble. The brightness is a welcome surprise, framing in a crop of tracks that pick at their scars with the kind of tenderness that forms a tightness in the chest.

“Open House” is a sparse, heartbroken track that anchors the midsection of the album. The scars don’t get much rawer than this. The feeling of betrayal, bewilderment, and disappointment is palpable and relatable. The band can often write songs that pull at doubt with a touch of underlying depression, but make it feel comforting. They swerve out of the ache before it becomes unbearable, but the feelings of melancholy never shake from the album completely, even when the melodies shine like blurred sunshine in summer. There’s happiness, but a feeling of guilt that hangs overhead, that nagging feeling that the brighter moments are undeserved. If The Ocean Party must be put to pasture, then Pop Filter is hardly a compromise for those who found solace in their works.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Smokescreens – “Fork In The Road”

It’s rare that the a band’s most prominent inspiration locks on to produce an album, but it seems that after a couple of LPs with clear inspirations from The Clean, L.A. janglers Smokescreens nabbed the nod from David Kilgour himself and a more perfect pairing couldn’t have been born. The Kiwipop luminary headed to The States to produce the band’s third LP, A Strange Dream. and his hand guides the band to a more crystalline version of their sound. He even contributes a cover painting to the record. The band’s clearly hitting their stride within the first few bars, and the first single from the upcoming record is a bittersweet saunter through South Hemi pop — pulling at not only The Clean, but from the ranks of The Bats and The Go-Betweens for inspiration. “Fork In The Road” swoons into view with a rambling guitar line that opens up into cloudy harmonies and hilly basslines. Here’s hoping (and betting) the rest of the record is as delightful as this. A Strange Dream is out October 30th on Slumberland.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Tony Jay

I first caught wind of Tony Jay on a great comp from Rocks In Your Head that came out last year rounding up an essential crop of Bay Area bands. The track there stuck to the ribs, a swooning jangler buried in a blanket of hiss. The name’s a misnomer. There’s no Tony in the flesh, but he exists in the mind of the players, if only to inform the scope of the band’s lament. They create a vision of loner pop that’s scuffed and sullen, yet still saddled with enough hope to soften the edges and let the listener peek into the crinkled diary pages of Tony’s heartsick limbo. The band’s been knocking out singles and tapes for quite a few years it seems, but this new one on Paisley Shirt has the band peaking. A Wave In The Dark gives their vaseline-lensed pop a proper stretch out, adding some heft and dimension to their decidedly lo-fi basket of hooks and harmonies.

The hushed delivery wafts over the speakers with a confessional color that finds the band retreating behind bedroom walls rather than filling out stages. If anything, it feels like this was a tape recorded and left by accident on the high school bleachers. It’s a secret treasure found and played endlessly in the tape deck of a car filled on summer job wages and driven around the outskirts to shake out the rejection of a crush. The songs here are hooked on the K catalog —picking at the delicacy of The Softies and Heavenly, with a touch of Sarah alums Brighter in the mix. There’s been a good glut of jangle-pop that wants to mix the bittersweet with the sun, but it’s nice to feel the cloudy day drift of Tony Jay on the headphones. Some days that sun just won’s shine.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Floodlights

The jangled goodness that rolls out of Australia never flags and Melbourne’s Floodlights have taken up the emotionally scarred mantle from many of their peers – echoing The Bats, The Chills, Goon Sax, and more specifically feeling like a less cheeky version of Scott and Charlene’s Wedding. Like the latter there’s a conversational, working stiff quality to the band’s debut. The songs act as pub rally points, but underneath the hooks, there’s a searching unsureness that’s looking to find where the band members fit into a world that seems daunting by any measurable standards. The discomfort bubbles through From A View giving the songs an itch even when their melodies sway towards earworms. On “Don’t Pick That Scratch,” and “Glory of Control” the band lays out a world that’s unforgiving, mired in wounds that won’t ever heal fully until they’re attended to properly. “Scratch’s” premise is perhaps a sentiment that engulfs 2020 more than any other, as each day pulls back a layer of systemic dysfunction and piles on a few more layers of dystopian atrocity.

While the lyrical content might get take the focus, the band’s not letting the underlying aesthetics fall by the wayside. While the references above might start to give you a picture of where the band is coming from they don’t stick to jangle-pop as a rote means. Goon Sax and Scott and Charlene act as good modern equivalents because like Floodlights they’re injecting a certain element of tension and Floodlights have that in tow. The more I listen this actually begins to cross this over into Billy Bragg territory. Though perhaps not as outright political in nature, there’s a bit of a Brewing Up feeling to Floodlights’ debut that can’t be completely shaken once its felt. After a soft lead in on their Backyard EP this debut establishes the band as ones to keep a watchful eye on in the coming years. It’s a grower that takes more than a few listens to latch, but I’d recommend putting in the work to let this get under your skin.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE (out in Australia now, US August 28th).

0 Comments