Friday, March 24, 2017

Secret Meadow - Same Old Fear EP

You probably have been wondering lately about whether there are any good guitar bands in Indonesia.  That's understandable -- I'm sure that it is a question on many minds.  Well, we can take some stress out of your life and advise you that Secret Meadow from Jakarta does, indeed, deserve your attention.  The good tastemakers at Jigsaw Records have just released the Same Old Fear, a five-song EP of jangling shoegaze.  The melodies soar, and the gentle vocals weave in and out of the mix while the swirling guitars and synths take center stage.  Really good stuff, folks.

We weren't able to discover much information about the band, but we can tell you that Secret Meadow are Ricardo Taufano (Guitar/Vocal), Jaro Petang (Guitar/Synth), Arief RWijaya (Bass), and Mulyana A. Viqry (Drums).



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Delay Trees - Let Go

It seems to us that Finnish band Delay Trees have some things to celebrate.  They have been together for a decade, and they are releasing Let Go, their fourth album, certainly achievements to note.  But it seems to us that there is even more to celebrate, as in our opinion the new album is a nice step forward for an already very good band.  In past recordings, the foursome displayed a deft touch in creating swirling dreampop.  However, from the opening notes of the majestic opener, "Black Ice", Delay Trees cut through the mist with direct, melodic rock with purpose, drive and subtlety.

Let Go speaks to endings, beginnings, survival and hope.  And it does so with wide-scape guitar pop that soars and inspires.  The styles range from the Teenage Fanclub-esque "It's Not Who You Are", "Black Ice", "Best Things" and "Phases", to the more pop oriented "Sound of Darkness" and "Hum", to the rumbling indie rock of "Blame It On The Snow" and "It's Not Who You Are", to the  a bit of dreampop of "Hope".  We've been living with this album over the past month or so, and if we have been posting less it partially is due to reaching for Let Go rather than another record on the stack waiting for attention.  My current favorites are "Black Ice", "Phases", "Best Things", and "Pale July", but such a list is subject to change with my moods, and there are many worthy contenders on this album.  If you go to the Bandcamp link you can stream the entire album, and it will be time well spent.

Delay Trees are Rami Vierula (vocals/guitar/keys), Lauri Järvinen (guitars/keys/backing vocals), Sami Korhonen (bass), and Onni Oikari (drums/percussion/guitars/backing vocals (lead on "Hum")).  Let Go is released today via Helsinki's Soliti Music







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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Èlan Vital - Shadow Self

Put on your earphones and surf the darkwave dreams of Dunedin, New Zealand's Èlan Vital on their debut LP Shadow Self.  Synths groan and drone, rise and fall, lasers shoot, but all with a sly dance-able undercurrent, veins of analog warmth, and a human touch with the female vocals.  The overall effect is as if the band threw their dreams and nightmares in a big pot and cooked it to trance/dance soundscape.  Oh, and we should mention that it is highly addictive and, like all addictive substances, becomes more so with prolonged exposure.

The album commences with a Gothic tone and static fog, but as it unspools we are treated to increased dynamics (e.g. the spacey, funky "Space") and lighter moments, such as on "Janina", break through like rays of sunshine.  Èlan Vital seem to have a strong sense of what they want to do, and the ability to execute their ideas.  Impressively, they stay within their desired groove while keeping the compositions accessible to the listener.  I chose a few representative tracks below, but I recommend the final stream, which will give you the full album.  To my ears, the songs on the last half of the record are especially recommended, but it is all good.

If we understand correctly, the genesis of the band was in Berlin, where two of its members resided.  A following stop was Auckland, on New Zealand's north island, and then a relocation to Dunedin.  The band's current rehearsal space is the None Gallery which, before it became an artist-run creative space served time as a pharmaceutical factory and then a strip club.

Èlan Vital is Renee Barrance (keyboards, vocals), Danny Brady (synths, drum machines, effects, vocals) and Nikolai Sim (bass).  Shadow Self is released on vinyl, CD and digital formats via Fishrider Records on March 24, and by Occultation Recordings in UK/Europe on May 12.










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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bunch - Forever My Sparring Partner

We here at WYMA are a lot like the rest of you.  After all, we put on our pants one day at at time -- at least on the days we wear pants.  One difference, however, is that when we learn of great new music our first instinct is to write about it here so you can enjoy it as well.  It is, after all, why we exist, not the trappings of the glamorous lifestyle of pop music journalists with a $3 annual expense account (no questions asked!) and as many paper clips as our hearts desire.

So today we bring you Forever My Sparring Partner by Alabama band Bunch.  Founded by ex El Cantador Heath Underwood, this is guitar-oriented rock that is earthy and soulful -- elements which characterize our favorite southern rock.  More specifically, the album is a collection of gospels of red dirt, full blooded lives, travails, lessons, persistence and triumphs, told with a keen eye, a poet's tongue and an artist's flair.  The performances are tight, and fully do justice to the material.  And don't read too much into the "southern" tag.  The music is un-mistakenly regional, but is in no way country.

You may note at the Bandcamp link below that Forever My Sparring Partner was released in mid-November, and we are just getting around to writing about it.  News travels slowly to us in the North, and other events in November had captured our bandwidth for a while.  Check out some tracks below, and if they hit the spot, go to the Bandcamp link and play the entire album.  You will note that the lyrics are available, and I suggest displaying them while listening.  Then buy the record like good little boys and girls.

All songs on Forever My Sparring Partner were written and arranged by Heath Underwood, who also provided the vocals, as well as guitars, pedals and effects, and vibe-bells.  Additional players and vocalists were Paul Kimsal, Joe Dickey, Allan Castleberry, Simon Roper, Matt Prince, Maria Kowalski, Bruce Bouton, Lesley Jones-Smith, Amanda Smolinski, Victoria Noll, and Samantha Harlow.










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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Copenhagen" by First Hate


Danish duo First Hate will be dropping their debut album A Prayer For The Unemployed on May 12, and you can get your first listen of the electro pop excellence via "Copenhagen".  The album will be released by Copenhagen label Escho.



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Emotional - The Band

Brian Wakefield is Emotional.  Not that he is weepy or has anger management issues.  He just is, well, Emotional.  I think that when Brian originally became Emotional, the project was just Brian and a crowded bedroom as a side project to Melted Toys and his other side projects.  But over time the project seems to have become his main focus.  And that causes happiness here at WYMA, because Brian's brand on psychedelic garage pop is a particular favorite.  For his new album, his second full-length, he seems to have gathered a band.  So, of course, the album is named The Band.  After all, you have to take care of the people who take care of you.

It is rare to hear an album that suggests influences as varied as Syd Barrett, Big Star, Gram Parsons.  And even rarer, I suspect, would be an album that shares that influences by nevertheless presents a coherent style.  But The Band is such an album, presenting nine varied songs of smeared psychedelic pop that delights from open to close.  We've provided a few tracks below, but we urge you to hit the Bandcamp link and listen to the entire album.

The Band is released on Brian's own Long Live Death Records, and Emotional are in the midst of a US tour.  We've provided dates and venues below (although we personally believe that if you don't come to Seattle, you aren't trying very hard).  In creating the album, Wakefield received contributions from Alex Brettin, Danny James, Sarah Bethe Nelson, Simi Sohota, Emmet Moskowitz, Geoff Morris, Ole Haarstad and Joel Robinow.







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Death Records' page for The Band

EMOTIONAL on TOUR
Mar. 21 — Nashville, TN @ Blackbird Tattoo*$
Mar. 22 — Lexington, KY @ Best Friend Bar *
Mar. 23 — Washington, DC @ Smash! Records *
Mar. 24 — Boston, MA @ Middle East Upstairs *$
Mar. 25 — New York, NY @ Baby’s All Right *$
Mar. 26 — Burlington, VT @ TBD *
Mar. 27 — New York, NY @ Berlin ^#
Mar. 28 — Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Upstairs ^
Mar. 29 — Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog *
Mar. 30 — Indianapolis, IN @ SST *
Mar. 31 — Milwaukee, WI @ Company Brewing *
Apr. 1 — Chicago, IL @ Cole’s Bar *
Apr. 2 — Minneapolis, MN @ TBD *
Apr. 3 — Kansas City, MO @ Blind Tiger *
Apr. 4 — Denver, CO @ Hi Dive*
Apr. 5 — Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *
Apr. 6 — Las Vegas, NV @ The Griffin *
Apr. 7 — Joshua Tree
* = w/ The Memories
% = w/ Death Valley Girls, Death Hymn No. 9
$ = w/ Colleen Green
# = w/ Cosmonauts

Monday, March 20, 2017

"Tourists" and "Let Us Prey" by Mt. Doubt

Mt. Doubt is an Edinburgh project fronted by Leo Bargery that we think has the right stuff.  "Tourists" and "Let Us Prey" are Mt. Doubt's contributions to Tourists / Lights Off, Carry Me Home, a split vinyl 7" that will be released by Scottish Fiction on March 31.  The other two tracks on the record are by Scottish rockers Foreignfox.  You can stream both of Mt. Doubt's tracks below, and we also have the band's new video for "Tourist".






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Friday, March 17, 2017

"Floored" by Stutter Steps


Ben Harrison is a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.  He also is the frontman for Stutter Steps, which released one of our favorite debuts of 2015.  The core sound is a jangling guitar pop that would fit well in the catalog of some of our favorite southern hemisphere bands.  The project soon will release a six-song EP titled Floored on Blue Arrow Records.  The title track is available now as a single, and you can enjoy a stream below.




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Thursday, March 16, 2017

31Ø8 - 31Ø8 (BLU)

Unusual names can get a band noticed, but for those of us that write about music unusual spelling, capitalization or characters present challenges.  Of course, the easy approach would be to ignore the bands that create extra effort.  But that presents a problem when the band is good.  A case in point is London project 31Ø8.  That unusual third character isn't on my keyboard, but the music on their new album definitely is the sort of thing I want to hear, and want to tell our readers about.  So I'm stuck working harder for the same wage.  Oh, and even though we refer to 31Ø8 as a band, the liner notes also say that it is one guy called Kyle, who formerly was known as Tyler.  The Facebook photos suggest there are three guys -- of course it does, why would anything be clear?  Life would indeed suck if it weren't for the cool music on the new album 31Ø8 (BLU).  Why the "(BLU)"?  To distinguish it from a prior album named 31Ø8 (PNK) which was released by Trouble In Mind in 2014.

On to the music.  To my ears, there are some similarities to Ned's Atomic Dustbin, American Culture, The Jesus and Mary Chain and a bit of Stone Roses baggy beats (check out "Conflicted Soul" and "Come The Winter"), with a bit of shoegaze and dream pop.  That all rings our bell in a good way, so we groove along while the band races through the ten songs, even giving us a jangling gem in "Another Wave".  This is quality stuff, and Jigsaw Records offers it in digital and CD formats -- see the Bandcamp link.  

So, Kyle, all is forgiven.  We like your album, and look forward to 31Ø8 (GRN) whenever it is ready.









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"Colourful Rain" by Sweet Tempest

Spring is tentatively checking to see whether it is safe to emerge on a more permanent basis.  We suspect that it won't make a favorable decision for another three or four weeks, but the effort prompted us to play some new dream pop.  The song is "Colourful Rain", which will be released tomorrow by Danish/English duo Sweet Tempest.  The single is taken from their upcoming EP Bones and Machinations, which will is due on April 7 via Cicada Music.  Polished, versatile vocals, sturdy rhythms and sweet melodies are the hallmarks of this band, and if this single is representative, the EP should be welcome indeed.

Sweet Tempest are Julian Winding and Luna Kira.  Their prior output includes the 2015 EP Snow and the soundtrack to the 2016 film The Neon Demon.



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