Posts Tagged ‘New Wave’

Priors – “At Your Leisure”

A blast of jittery, caffeinated post-punk bursts out of Montreal’s fertile scene from Priors. On the latest single from their upcoming sophomore LP, the band bites into the cross-section of punk and New Wave with a rabid fury. They’re careening into view on a wave of anxiety and riding the fizzing angst with reckless skill. They pull from the same fuzz-infected well as their Canadian contemporaries Century Palm, though they fall closer to the erratic pop genius of Ausmuteants on “At Your Leisure.” The band cribs from quite a few of Canada’s punk underdogs, with members of Steve Adamyk Band, Sonic Avenues, New Vogue and The Famines rounding out the lineup. New Pleasure sidles out on punk powerhouse label Slovenly on November 16th.



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Bad Moves

DCs Bad Moves are sitting square on the Venn diagram between power pop, punk and New Wave. While their songs pogo with abandon, they snag the candy-coated harmonies that stuck The Go-Gos and The Bangles to the airwaves like glue. They round out the mix by adding a 10-foot-tall tower of confidence that picks up the vibes of 20/20, Phil Seymour and The Beat. They never tip the needle too far in the direction of any of their poles, which makes for a record that’s floating in the pop ether, enjoying its own company more than any of its touchstones. As such, Tell No One careens through the speakers with a wide-eyed glee that’s infectious, barely contained and potently palpable.

That glee is central to Bad Moves’ appeal. Their songs, lyrically, are often not celebratory affairs. They center on overcoming anxieties, feeling out a sense of self, weathering family hardships, and dealing with hypocrisy. These songs are often the literal embodiment of butterflies in the stomach. Yet they alchemize the electric tinge in the nerves into a gush of glee to burst through the bubble of doubt. They galvanize an entire audience into overcoming their worry with them. The stakes seem high in Bad Moves’ world, but like the young adulthood they crystallize, the payoff seems just as high.

There’s no rush like being in your teens and twenties and feeling seen by a band. It seems like Bad Moves have the potential to hook a whole generation looking to collectively hurdle the constant lump in their throats. Its freeing to just peel a few layers of paint with pent-up amplifier power, an irrepressible bounce and lyrics about the politics of love. This year there may be no better band to drive the heartswell of hooks n harmonies that crack the shell of youth than Bad Moves.



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Alien Nosejob

Never one deterred by the constraints of time, Jake Robertson’s packing another band into his repertoire. On top of the already great LP from School Damage this year, not to mention current stints in Hierophants, Ausmuteants, and Drug Sweat, Robertson’s taking the solo approach under the name Alien Nosejob. With a couple of seven-inches under the name already, he’s been honing the sound on the sly, but with Various Fads & Technological Achievements he’s ready to take it wide. The album skews away from his normal niche of wobbly post-punk and nervy flop sweat jitter-punk ala Pere Ubu and MX-80. This time he’s taking a softer approach, or at least a slightly less caustic approach.

Weaving folk – albeit not the campfire coolout variety, think Carl Simmons’ Honeysuckle Tendrils – with new wave notions and synth-pop propulsion, the LP is gulping a little less lightning than usual for Robertson. That’s not to say this is a tame affair, it’s clear that Alien Nosejob’s MO includes dragging the same strange vein of pop that produced R. Stevie Moore, most of the Dark Entries catalog, and the less commercial output of Game Theory. Throw in a dash of the shoestring ‘Zappa with a rhythm box’ sounds of Geza X and you’re starting to get close to what’s at play here. Now while that’s all a lot of discordant pop to throw in the ol’ blender, the outcome winds up rather smooth. Alien Nosejob goes down straight, but the tics around the eyes give away its twinge of madness.

The other outcome here is that with so much stuffed into the sausage skin of Alien Nosejob, there’s sometimes a bit of whiplash between the neon reflections of “Runaway” and the pastoral peace of “Exothermic Reaction.” It all fits together in its reaching for the pop “other,” but there’s a feeling that this album’s catching up on the odds and sods of what’s been hammering at Jake’s skull outside of his last few records. It’s a great match strike, and it seems like Alien Nosejob’s got a freakish concept album in its future (if its meant to have a future). Taken as singular parts, however, there’s quite enough new wave jitter here to pack yer speakers for weeks.



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The Goon Sax – “Make Time For Love”

For their sophomore album, Brisbane’s The Goon Sax have taken all the scrappy sincerity and stripped back brilliance of their debut and pushed harder until they’ve shined their sound into pop perfection. The band is till hitting on some heavy hitters from the new wave / post-punk grab bag (they cite time spent with Liquid Liquid and ESG on the speakers) and much of that era’s rhythmic jerk comes through on “Make Time For Love.” The song’s nowhere as dry as either of those would let on though, pinning those rhythms to the grandiose melodies of Talking Heads and Talk Talk, then flooding the track with sprightly horns and swooning strings.

They do the song one better by conjuring up a dazzling video that’s filled with fantasy, animation and stark black and white relief. If I weren’t already pretty damn excited for this follow up to their 2016 sleeper hit, this would likely be the kicker. The new LP is out September 14th and from all accounts this one’s going to be a high-water mark for the band and 2018.



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Wimps

On their third album, Seattle’s Wimps knock the production into gear and embrace the best moments of squirm pop that slid from the tail of punk into the birth of New Wave. They trade in a brand of sax squall that hits like a belt sander to their chunky hooks. They rope in heat exhausted synth lines to the kind of twitchy punk that would make Devo and Magazine proud. There’s no small love for power pop in the band’s sound either, they wrap their heads around pop and punk (without necessarily combining the two) and work it out like Ric Ocasek was twiddling knobs in the nineties when this one was made. While dipping their toes into Slacker pop from a lyrical standpoint, the band never lose a moment to sweat on the tempos. They’re couch surfing and grousing about procrastination but damn well motivated when it comes to moving a crowd.

The band has a penchant for elevating the mundane – pontificating about their love of cheese pizzas, dragging ass around the house and penning odes to Monday like Garfield hopped up amphetamines waiting for his intro by Perter Ivers before they lay waste to the set of New Wave Theater. They’re tapping into tried and true feelings but making the banal brilliant, flooding the phones with a sparkling barrage of hooks twisted with enough tin foil freakout to make it more than nineties pogo retread digging into the stack of discount bin weirdness from the previous decade. This seems like it could easily slip between the cracks of 2018, but don’t sleep on Wimps. This one cuts with glee and makes any day just a bit more bearable with its lash of levity.




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Action Painting! – Trial Cuts 1989-1995

Emotional Response is stepping up and doing the universe a solid by rounding up the corners of the Sarah Records catalog and issuing them as much-needed archival compilations. There are full plans to get works by Secret Shine, Even As We Speak, Boyracer and Action Painting! together. For now, though, they’ve got the latter two pressed and dressed for your consumption. Action Painting! found their way to the seminal label late in the game. The Gosport band still operated within Sarah’s system of jangles and sighs, but they updated the sound with a harder edge than many of their labelmates, roping in a love for The Jam and The Go-Betweens then mashing them into an apparent swooning for The Buzzcocks.

Sadly, the band would only issue four singles in their tenure, three for Sarah and one for Damaged Goods, all of which rear their head on Trial Cuts 1980-1995, as do a fair number of demos that speak to what could have been had the band gotten ‘round to getting that LP together proper. This collection will have to stand in the stead of a real album, and while it’s a bit sprawling given that the band likely hat a taught ten or twelve piece they could have hacked out, it does cull together all the material collectors could ever whimper about in one convenient package. For jangle fans, new wave nuts, punk hangers-on and the like this is a pretty solid set that puts straight the history on a band lost to the fringes. Recommended you get into this one as soon as possible.



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RVG – “Eggshell World”

If you missed out on the excellent debut from the Romy Vager Group (more commonly RVG) last year, then there’s still time to catch up. Apparently, the Aussies tore up SXSW, so hopes are on that at least a few ears were perked. On the eve of their entry to the Split Singles Series mentioned yesterday they release a great video not for the new track (sadly) but for standout LP track “Eggshell World.” The accompanying video is just Vager alone, clad in a silver dress in the darkness – it’s a great compliment to the track’s sweeping emotional pull. Vager is doing her best to channel the demons left to wander in the wake of Echo and The Bunnymen, The Church and Love & Rockets. For those missing the mascara stain of tears along with your pop, meet your new favorites.

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Wyatt Blair – “The Want To Be Wanted”

Wyatt Blair tackled ‘80s excess with a deft scalpel on his last album, finding a way to push Kenny Loggins’ towering tentpole radio hits to a place that was somehow nostalgic and quaint without feeling like he was trying too hard on Karaoke night. Now he’s on the verge of a new album and the first single is taking aim at another sweep of the ‘80s cinematic arm. Instead of guitar anthems that conjure visions of shirtless volleyball, caddy parties and repressed heartland teens, this time he’s taking aim at The Breakfast Club set. The latest single is packaging synthpop heartbreak into the kind of radio fodder that once buoyed Tears For Fears and Simple Minds with some new wave guitar slices that pull from the sheath of Echo & The Bunnymen or Modern English. Needless to say, I stand a bit curious to see if he continues this bent for a full album or if this remains an aberration on his style, but “The Want To Be Wanted” pulls off its trick nicely just the same.


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Omni’s Frankie Broyles on China Crisis – Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms – Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain

After splitting from Deerhunter, Frankie Broyles has taken a tumble through post-punk’s most angular avenues with his band Omni. The band’s debut for Trouble in Mind was a loving run at Television, The Voidoids and Wire, a sound which they only crystallize on their follow-up this year. For the latest Hidden Gems, Boyles takes a run at an album he feels has been left out of the public conversation, the synth-pop debut from Brits China Crisis. If the album’s cover is any indication, they’ve at least lifted a bit of aesthetic vision from the band but Frankie explains how the music has seeped into his own life below.

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The Fresh & Onlys

Time sneaks up on you in funny ways. It seems like the age in which Fresh & Only constantly had another single, EP or album kicking around the corner was just a moment ago, and then the calendar reminds you it’s been three years since their last release. Now the interim has been stocked with sidepiece sendups from both of the core members, but there’s something to the spark in the room when Tim Cohen and Wymond Miles get together. They bounce ebullience through experience to recapture the immediacy of their early work, then balance it with the sophistication and nuance of their last two records.

Following Long Slow Dance’s heightened pop realty – a dose of literate rock shot through with dashes of new wave sheen, pulsating under the PAR cans in true rock glory – they doused themselves in a shroud of atmosphere for House of Spirits. The cloud shaded in the crevices of their often craggy creations and it tended to sand smooth some of the splinters that stuck hardest with the listener. For the most part, they drop the curtain of gauze for Wolf Lie Down, creating an album that’s neither pop perfection nor ephemeral puzzle. Instead it’s the band working their rawest nerves with a grace that embraces their years behind the microphones and in front of constant expectations.

They hang the album on their strongest single in a very long time, the blistering “Impossible Man,” a song that’s as close to the nerve of indie rock’s promise as you’re likely to get. It’s a huge hook, bigger than they’ve mounted since the Long Slow Dance era, but tracked with the grit of their early one-off singles. Part of me wishes that they’d gone all in on this aesthetic for an album. While I love the philandering aesthete visions that round out the rest of the album – the ghost town growl of “Becomings,” the Sunday slink of “Walking Blues,” and the hallelujah haze of “Qualm of Innocence” – it’s the fire I’m craving. Between the title track and “Impossible Man” there exists a promise of bombast waiting to happen, an explosion muted by good intentions, but muted nonetheless. I want them to loosen the spines of their literate tendencies and just embrace the power line hooks that lie in wait inside them. If it takes another three years, I’ll be here. I’m a patient soul.




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