Posts Tagged ‘Slumberland’

Failed Flowers – “Faces”

Slumberland continues to keep their latest singles series sprinkled with compelling reasons to funnel $100+ bucks into their pockets. They announce two more this week including the reappearance of Failed Flowers, Michigan’s indie pop sweethearts. The band, which holds Anna Burch and Fred Thomas as members delivered a solid, Sarah Records-soaked debut in 2016 and has remained largely silent ever since. This is likely due to Burch’s own solo career and Thomas’ busy schedule, but they roar back with two sides of C86 jangle that should put a smile right across your sourpuss. “Faces” is bright and sunny, janglin’ in twin guitar glory and ringing with the autumnal vocals of Burch that seep under the skin. If there was any doubt that the band still had that magic spark, this is proof positive. Gonna keep this one on repeat for the rest of the day.


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Slumberland To Release The Springfields Singles Compilation

If you were an American indie pop fan in 1988, chances are you may have felt a little alone. While the C86 movement and sound took hold in the UK, here the prescription was likely grunge and lots of it, with the more aloof arms of College Rock and general “Alternative” not quite swooning at the idea of ’60 indebted sounds. Out west The Paisley Undergound had given way to some purchase for the same sounds, but even among those ranks the twee sounds of Sarah, Sha La La, Postcard, and Creation weren’t making the same impact here as at home. Thankfully there were a few homegrown outposts like Bus Stop and Picturebook that were giving the twee hearts of US bands a place to hang and, of course, just a year later Slumberland themselves would enter the fray and give a home to bands like Honeybunch, Velocity Girl, and Black Tambourine.

The label never released a Springfields release during the band’s original run, but now they’re gathering up the essential singles from the band’s short run and giving them a much-needed compilation and overview of this American indie-pop band’s impact on the sound. The band, notably included Ric Menck and Paul Chastain who would go on to work with Velvet Crush, Bag O’ Shells, Choo Choo Train and The Big Maybe. Should go without saying, but you need this one. You really do.



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The Suncharms – S/T

There’s no time like 2019 to really dig deep into any genre and pick up those missed bits that were maligned by poor distribution or unfortunate circumstances. Over the past few years, Shoegaze, in particular, has definitely unearthed a few gems. This one actually rose up on the revived Cloudberry Records in 2016, to sadly little fanfare, but the Bandcamp age gives it a second life. The Sheffield band Suncharms issued two EPs in their active time – 1990’s Sparkle and Tranquil Day a year later. The band was approached by Slumberland in 1992 about an album, but, sadly, they broke up before anything could materialize. They rectified that misstep last year with an entry into Slumberland’s 30 year singles club and now this retrospective from Cloudberry is available digitally for the nice price.

The band occupies some similar earspace with early Ride, Chapterhouse, and Pale Saints. Their sound was thick with fuzz and noise but there were some absolute pop gems riding beneath the fray. More-so than any of those other three Shoegaze gems, Suncharms rarely get their due, even in the retrospective heavy culture of the 2010’s when everyone’s an expert and we all “knew this shoulda been the band everyone should have listened to in the ‘90s.” The comp bags up all the band’s released material along with some demos to give ya some scope. Even after countless iterations of C86 hangers-on and Shoegaze tentpole retreads, these songs still hit hard and leave an imprint. If, like most of us, this remains a hole in your ‘gaze collection then by all means fill it and work forward to pick up that new EP on Slumberland. Recommended this one makes it into your rotation.




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Jeanines

There are a few variations, but the true Slumberland sound is instantly evident when it comes floating in on the breeze. It marks a release like a stain (in the best ways). The debut from Brooklyn’s Jeanines is so stuffed full of Slumberland hallmarks and it’s hard to envision it any other place, unless Sarah Records is planning a revival I don’t know about. With production cut to the bone, the album bounces jangles off of every surface in the room, filling the listener’s ears with a delightfully sprightly sound. Alicia Jeanine has a voice that tugs at the memory, bringing visions of Marine Girls, Black Tambourine, Veronica Falls, and Dolly Mixture swimming to the surface. Along with Jed Smith, she’s built a debut that’s unassuming but completely consuming. Soaked in bittersweet bliss, the album is a DIY gem that seamlessly slots itself into the famed roster.

There are songs that pine for lost love and likewise rebuff unsuitable suitors. There are rough cut diamonds, buffed to a sheen through sheer force of janglin’ strings. Jeanine layers her voice, giving her three-part harmonies with a spectral band of selves and it works like a four-track Carter Family supplanting their country roots with DIY DNA – pinning a few new badges on their bittersweet swoon. Smith fills out each track amiably with just the barest amount of backing that packs on the basement practice space charms. They emulate the limited options of ‘80s and ‘90s stalwarts, despite the home recorded revolution. Fans of anything Slumberland, Postcard, Sarah, Cloudberry should be right at home here. The band is studied and serious about keeping their influences tattooed on for all to see. You could be a grump and call ‘em derivative, If it weren’t all so delightfully spot-on, so sincere, and so damnably catchy.



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Business of Dreams – “Ripe For Anarchy”

Still one of the most criminally overlooked releases of the year, Corey Cunningham’s (Terry Malst, Smokescreens) Business of Dreams showed no signs of a sophomore slump on his latest LP for Slumberland. The record perfectly encapsulates the melancholy, wistfulness, and tenderness of the best jangle-pop and synth-pop, slotting him in easily among bands on the Creation and Sarah Records rosters in any mix. He’s heading out on tour with Jessica Pratt and released a new video for the album’s title track “Ripe For Anarchy.” The spare treatment of the video sums up the album’s vibes with its overcast hues and sighed atmospheres. Check out the clip above, and if you haven’t snagged a copy yet, its probably about time.



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Papercuts – “Blues Run The Game”

Last year’s Paralell Universe Blues was a highlight among Papercuts’ fairly stuffed catalog, adding a dose of hazy gaze to Jason Quever’s always welcome folk-pop. On the eve of embarking on a European tour supporting Steve Gun, the band is releasing the EP Kathleen Says, which rounds up that standout from the 2018 LP alongside a dreamy version of the Jackson C. Frank classic “Blues Run The Game” and a stripped down version of new song, “Comb In Your Hair.”

Long covered as a folk staple, Quever gives Frank’s version a lush treatment that lets glints of sun in through billowing clouds. Though its hard to stand out among versions by everyone from Bert Jansch to Nick Drake, Papercuts gives the song a modern update that’s swirled in closing time twinges of sadness – the purple stage lights flickering and just a taste of dry ice on the air as the last of the bottle caps are swept into the corner. The EP is out this Friday and the tour heads out on the 19th. Give a first listen to the cover below.

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Boyracer – “Strong Arms / Teardrops”

Emotional Response continues to be a lifeline to Sarah Records in the here and now. After a string of reissues, including Even As We Speak, Action Painting, and Boyracer’s own earl EPs, the label is now working with the band on a new album due out later in the year But, bonus on bonus, these two non-album cuts have found their way out into the world early via a 75-run lathe cut single. “Strong Arms” is picks up nicely where vintage Boyracer left off, pinning a splash of fuzz to the jangle that long pervaded the Sarah roster. The song tumbles over itself in pure exhumeerance, veering wildly in its lane and spilling confetti out of the windows as it speeds away. The flip isn’t quite as breathless, but its a jolt of joy nontheless, if you can wrap old habits around Boyracer sneering about streaming albums. For fans of the band’s career (which stretched long after the seminal label folded through Slumberland, A Turntable Friend and Fluff Records) this is another great entry to their pristine run.



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Business of Dreams

I was surprised and delighted to see Corey Cunningham back at the controls of Business of Dreams so quickly. His eponymous LP from 2017 showed a deep love for the smeared and smudged end of the Creation catalog and more than a blushing brush with indie pop conduits Sarah, Postcard and Subway Organization. Folding back into his onetime home at Slumberland, where he previously worked in Terry Malts, the songwriter is riffling through the same single stacks as last time with a touch more polish and a slight step out into the sun. Where his previous album seemed custom made for long nights alone, the curl of fog around lamplight, and the drawn bedroom curtains, there’s a bittersweet edge to Ripe For Anarchy.

Blurred against the blare of the sun, the album’s still gum-stuck to the skitter of drum machines and hung on melancholia, but it’s also a perfect companion for enjoying the day and shirking off the lingering pang of depression that gnaws at the belly. Cunningham dips into the jar of jangles more often here, and even slips the beat altogether to croon against the soft pad of synths entangled in nylon strings with a heartsick heavenliness. While Business of Dreams might not be fully beach ready, RFA is out of the darkness and living for the little moments.

There’s something inherently perfect about synthpop for dealing with love and loss, and for every band that nails the nuance, ten more miss the mark horribly. On his sophomore outing, Cunningham proves to be not only an adept crafter of hooks, but an artist gifted with the ability to tap into just the right mix and measure of self-loathing, celebration, joy and frustration to make the genre work. He coats it all in an earworm bliss that’s hard to shake, making this an essential listen for the start of 2019, and likely a habitual home to return to as the year progresses.



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Business of Dreams – “Keep The Blues Away”

Business of Dreams’ debut was a favorite around here when it came out a couple of years back, so its good to see Corey Cunningham (Terry Malts, Smokescreens) get the bump up to Slumberland from his own Parked in Hell label for album number two. The first taste of Ripe For Anarchy swims in similar waters to that debut – rifling through the racks of C86 alumni, Creation Records deep cuts and Sarah Records compilation faves for just the right pang. “Keep The Blues Away” is smeared and dreaming, rolling on the bed in heartache and procrastinating the thought of going out for fear of being overwhelmed. Cunningham has a penchant for pop, but he buries the bursts under a half ton of velvet curtains in the guise of Business of Dreams. I’m all for the advancement of introvert synthpop in 2019. Can’t wait for more of this.




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RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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