Posts Tagged ‘Slacker Pop’

The Shifters – “Straight Lines”

Aussie scrappers The Shifters caught my ear with their first single, the rat race takedown “Work, Life, Gym, etc” and they don’t disappoint with another sneak peak into the workings of the upcoming Have A Cunning Plan. “Straight Lines” digs into the current OZ trend of shaggy indies that feel like kitchen sing-a-longs – true embracers of the slacker-pop ethos, the recline into the comfort of this track and can’t help but make the listener feel included in the camaraderie. The song is stuffed to the stitches with jangles and woozy keys and a low-key day in the life tale of taking the edge off and avoiding responsibility. The track’s a charmer, which could easily be said about the whole of their upcoming LP for Trouble in Mind. Don’t snooze on this one.




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Wurld Series – “The Bend”

Christchurch’s Wurld Series follows up last year’s Air Goofy LP with an EP stretching for the sweet spot between The Lilys and Pavement. Standout single, “The Bend,” leans much harder on the latter’s influence, ambling and shambling its way through lackadaisical pop like the band’s never been hurried in their lives. The song embodies the soul of slacker pop, driving dirge-laden guitars into frothy beds of fuzz and stretching its length into a woozy six+ minutes. They push a reliance on hooks aside, choosing instead to build a base of atmosphere and working their way towards the alt-flavored jams of Sonic Youth, while battling feedback like an encroaching wave.

They clock the EP in for the excellent Melted Ice Cream Collective that’s bound up so many of New Zealand’s best and brightest of late – Salad Boys, Opposite Sex, Transistors, Terror of the Deep, to name a few. Best to keep an eye out for that cassette and a closer eye on the label, who are an excellent barometer of taste down Kiwi way.


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Unlikely Friends

Tacoma’s Unlikely Friends rope together members of BOAT and Math and Physics Club for a dose of power pop and shaggy indie that holds a candle for the ‘90s recipe: quirk times hooks equals solid gold. BOAT existed on the periphery of indie pop blogs for some time in the early aughts and this stands as a natural progression of their scruffy four-track pop aesthetic. Taking cues from latter day Apples in Stereo, mid-period New Pornographers and pretty much any point in Fountains of Wayne’s catalog while sprinkling in a dash of early Shins pacing on the slower cuts, the band’s sophomore tape inflates their humble pop pretense to towering proportions. It’s easy to lump the band into the box of slacker rock, hell the band even does it themselves at times, but there’s more drive here than that epithet would let on. There’s Pavement in their veins and a click track backing beat but when Unlikely Friends hit that hook sweet spot their pop feels like its bound for a bigger budget.

Leaning into the plurality of downer themes floated on buoyant hooks, the band never suffers from pushing their power pop formula into saccharine territory. Far from it, they wax poetic on stagnation, homesickness, love (naturally) and well, baseball, quite a bit of baseball actually. The album is a bold shot across the bow of 2018 and an antidote to an overabundance of garage-flecked power pop, giving the genre back its bittersweet core. This is likely to get lost between the cracks of 2018, it came out in January and I find it just now floating to the surface. That’s no reason to miss out though, there’s plenty to chew on here and like BOAT before them, there are too many gleaming moments hidden under the rough exterior to ignore.

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Scott & Charlene’s Wedding

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, and more directly songwriter Craig Dermody, has been touted as being the voice of a generation. That’s a hard nut to swallow and quite a lot of pressure for someone who seems more likely than anyone to scoff at such assumptions. Dermody has a deft ear for melody though and a shaggy countenance that does makes his day-in-the-life stories seem a bit more profound than they are at base level. The songs on Mid Thirties Singles Scene are slightly refined from their past efforts, but never self-serious. Its the kind of album that can make a song about eggs and shit jobs feel like a shoulder to lean on and a light teasing at the same time.

2013’s Any Port In A Storm had a loose hopefulness to it. Craig Dermody had decamped to New York, setup with a new band and found a kindred spirit in the city’s ability to absorb newcomers, deflect responsibility and crash from couch to couch. As Dermody readied Mid Thirties Singles Scene, he returned to Melbourne and has rather amiably captured the current wave of youth that’s tied to jobs that pay enough rent, nights at rehearsal and the smaller comforts of a few friends, pints and football. The past years’ hopefulness has slid into a crooked grin and a laugh punctuated with sigh. In that light, maybe he’s not the voice of a generation, but he’s certainly got his particular demographic well pegged.

Dermody has a perfect knack for imperfection. He’s found a home in the shaggy squall of Pavement’s shambling delivery paired with pop-freckled noise. The general relaxed exterior can sometimes let down the listener’s guard, leading to a wry smile when Dermody drops sparkling pop nuggets in the mix like “Distracted” or “Don’t Bother Me.” There aren’t many that can find enlightenment in repetitive stress careers, delivered weed and a few beers and wrap it up without cliche but Dermody finds a way to make it seem enviable. The rest of the world isn’t immune to its own packs of directionless youth, but somehow the Aussies have been nailing the finder shading on the class portrait. Dermody’s pulled it all off with an air of wearied charm that’s pushing him to the top of the heap. Maybe he’s not the voice, but he’s getting pretty damn close.



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