Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Shine 'em up Sadie" by Douglas Firs

Belgian Gertjan Van Hellemont has adopted the name Douglas Firs for his musical creations.  We don't know the origin of the moniker, but the man's influences clearly run to American indie rock, and specifically to worthies such as Neil Young, Wilco, The Band, and Ryan Adams.  The more upbeat songs have a satisfying crunch and a bit of country rock grit.  When dialed down, they deliver a very effective folky sound.

Van Hellemont traveled in Canada and the US last fall, working on songs for a new album.  Our first taste of his new efforts is "Shine 'em up Sadie", inspired the story of an Italian immigrant family in New York in the 1920s.  The song finds Douglas Firs in an upbeat, pop mode, and it is a good sound for them.

In addition to Gertjan Van Hellemont, Douglas Firs are Sem van Hellemont, Simon Casier, Senne Guns, and Lokko.  The new album will be released this Fall via Dutch label Excelsior Recordings.




Website
Facebook
Twitter
Excelsior Recordings

"Stoned" by Blondage

Blondage are Esben Norskov Andersen (keys/drums/vocals) and Pernille Smith-Sivertsen (keys/vocals), former members of Rangleklods.  Last year the Danish duo demonstrated their talent for icy, Nordic synth pop.  They are back with "Stoned" -- a breezy, thumping summer jam that should make your poolside playlist for the coming months.



Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Oliver Tank - Oliver Tank

One memorable line from '80s music is found in Murray Head's "One Night In Bangkok", where the narrator responds to various fleshy distractions on offer with "I get my kicks above the waist, Sunshine".  Now, let it be understood that there is nothing about Oliver Tank's self-titled debut album that reminds one of Murray Head, "One Night In Bangkok", or the '80s.  But that is my point.  While much electro pop seems aimed at the listeners feet, or perhaps other parts of the anatomy below the waist, Oliver Tank seems to me to be focused on the space between the ears, and the listener's heart.  There is excitement in the ten tracks, but it is an excitement derived from the details adorning the brooding, ambient creations -- the plunked notes, spare synths, plaintive lyrical lines emerging from the mist.  And those contemplative sections, which are delightful for their own sake, enhance the listener's pleasure in the moments when the pace quickens and the beats become more pronounced.  The Sydney musician has created a debut of which he can be proud, and on which he can build for the future.

For me, the best songs are "Unreal", "Swerve", "Charlene", "Falling", and "Letting Go".  Several are available for streaming below, and you can hear the entire album at the Bandcamp link at the bottom of this post.







Website
Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp for album




Introducing: Adam Naas

Paris-based Adam Naas possesses an affecting, soulful voice with strains of Gospel.  His latest single is "Please Come Back To Me", which was released on Friday, April 21.  It may remind you a bit of one of his early influences, Nina Simone.  And, of course, that is a very good thing of which to remind listeners.  We've also provided a stream of his earlier single, "Fading Away", which further confirms Adam's prodigious talent.






Facebook
Twitter


Monday, April 24, 2017

"Destiny Is Upon Us" by JFDR (video)

Jófríður Ákadóttir became known to the music world as a member of Samaris, Gangly and Pascal Pinon, but she also works solo as JFDR.  Her deft combination of arresting vocals, evocative wordplay and delicate soundscapes was well-showcased on her recent album, Brazil.  Today we bring you the video for one of the album tracks, "Destiny Is Upon Us".




Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud
Bandcamp for Brazil

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Legends - Nightshift


When some people hear the term "synth pop", their assumption is that the music will be sweet, a bit fey, and probably blandly canned like a lot of mainstream pop.  Well, that may accurately describe some of the synth pop they encounter in the daytime, but tonight we are welcoming them to the nightshift.  Or, specifically, to Nightshift, the latest album from Johan Angergard in his guise as The Legends.  This synth pop is a knife's edge wrapped in velvet, made for late nights, dark clubs, frenetic dancing, sweaty encounters, passionate clinches, and assignations made and broken.  And throughout, Angergard wields his synths like a ninja wields his knives -- big strokes, little stabs, deft cuts, feints, and the killer thrusts, each precisely and the moment requires.  Like the costumes and makeup denizens of the night employ to create an image, Angergard processes the sounds, fattening the bass, stretching the percussion hits, and running the vocals through a vocoder.

In different hands, all the electronic wizardry could become a distraction.  But in Angergard's hands the focus remains on the songs, and like the sweet hooks and melodies, everything is done in service to making the best possible songs.  And to add depth, and a bit of sugar to sweeten the mix, The Legends enlist guest vocals from Kristina Borg (Red Sleeping Beauty), Elin Berlin (Eternal Death), and Maria Usbeck.  Nightshift is generous in length, and generous and adventurous in spirit.  It should fill your nights well into the summer.

My favorite songs are "Summer In The City", "In Love With Myself", "Space Jam", and the haunting "Cocaine".

Nightshift is out now via Labrador Records.  You can even play it in the daytime.









Facebook
Twitter
Labrador

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Darling" by Froyo

Froyo capture the emotions of young romance -- the good, and the less good -- and wrap it into the kind of nugget that brings us back for more.  Their latest gem is "Darling", dreamy by still substantial, it is a great way to start your Sunday.

The members of the band are Michael, Allyson, Sonia, and Tom, and they are based in Sydney.




Website
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud
Bandcamp

"Malibu Entropy" by Rips


Rips could be your favorite new guitar band.  Based in Brooklyn and channeling local heroes of the past such as The Feelies and Television, the quartet offers buzzing guitars and a robust rhythm section driving uncompromising rock that is both tough and smart.  Their debut album will be available in June via Faux Discx, but you can experience the rough charm on "Malibu Entropy" below.



Website
Facebook
Twitter
Faux Discx order page for album

Bread & Butter - Bread & Butter

It is said that man does not live by bread alone.  Of course, that is a correct statement, because if you have bread, you need butter.  This shouldn't be in the least bit controversial.  So consider the self-titled album from Seattle's Bread & Butter to be your perfectly balanced comfort food.  It is ten tracks of crunchy, hook-filled rock and roll.  This is the kind of stuff that formed the backbone of indie rock in the '79s and every decade since, withstanding changing fads and not so much defying the charts as simply not giving a damn about them.  These songs radiate sunshine and chug along with a friendly swagger.  Be warned, when you start consuming Bread & Butter, it is almost impossible to stop.

The members of Bread & Butter are Shane Herrell (vocals/bass), Ryan Kraft (guitar), Lars Swenson (guitar), and Mason Lowe (drums).  The album is released by Seattle's  Killroom Records.  See the Bandcamp link for details.








Website
Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp for album
Killroom Records

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pinky Pinky - Pinky Pinky EP


What are teenagers these days up to?  Well, if we focus on Isabelle Fields, Eva Chambers, and Anastasia Sanchez, they are up to some very good things.  These LA teenagers form the band Pinky Pinky, and they are one of the most refreshing new acts I've heard this year.  You can be forgiven not having heard of them before, because their self-titled EP, which is out today via Innovative Leisure, is their first record, and they've never toured because two of the members are still in high school.  But with the release of Pinky Pinky and the upcoming graduations, you can hope that will change.

Opening song "Ram Jam" takes '60s retro and surf pop, washes it in dark tones, and then tosses it in your face with attitude.  Perhaps none of those elements are new, but the combination and execution here deserve accolades.  Next up is "Hot Under The Habit", a surging post punk tune with a dominant bass line.  "Spiders" has a bit of a middle eastern surf vibe reminiscent of regional guitar hero Dick Dale.  The EP closes with my second favorite song on the EP, the California-country shaded "Nest" (a cover of an old song written by Darby Slick).  This EP is a tasty treat indeed -- it sounds great and promises great stuff in the future from this trio.  Enjoy a couple of tracks below, and hit the Bandcamp link for a full stream and ordering information.





Facebook
Bandcamp for EP



"Banana Tsunami!" by The Shakers

The Shakers are from Southwest London and consist of friends and cousins Jack Hawkins (vocals/guitar), George Service (guitar/synth), Matthew Wright (drums), Charlie Gardner (bass), and Christian Spruit (guitar).  Their infectious sound combines '70s guitar rock with funk-oriented bass and drums, resulting in a style of indie rock with a groove that hits our buttons in the right sequence.  The latest single from the band is "Banana Tsunami!", which is out now via Infinity Cactus Records.  Enjoy below, and then check your favorite digital retailer.  You can check out other songs from The Shakers at the Soundcloud link at the bottom of this post.




Website
Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Socks" by Mikey Young

I recently told a friend that one Mikey Young, of Melbourne, Australia, has had a greater involvement in music on this blog than anyone else in music.  My friend wondered how this is possible, given the blog is named after a song from the prolific Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices, is based in the US, and covers a large amount of music from the UK, Europe, and North America, in addition to music from Australasia.  I explained that the answer is that he not only plays in bands that attract our attention, such as Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Ooga Boogas and Total Control, but he has produced, mixed and/or mastered many albums that have featured on these pages.  And that conversation is quite a coincidence, because Mikey is releasing a solo synth pop album titled Your Move Vol. 1 in June via Moniker Records, and we have the first single here to stream.

By the way, Mikey's album is one of a series of synth pop albums by different artists that will be released by Moniker in the ensuing months.  The unusual name has an interesting explanation.  Each artist will make a move on a chess board when the artist's album is released.  Then Moniker will make a move, followed by the next artist, and so on.  There is no word on whether ESPN will cover the match.




Bandcamp for Your Move Vol. 1
Moniker Records

Woods - Love Is Love

We've long been fans of the gentle and experimental psychedelic folk offered by New York's Woods.  With that as background, we have to say that Love Is Love is our favorite Woods album in some time.  The rhythms are pronounced, and the band has expanded its use of horns to good effect.  Normally, I wouldn't be enthusiastic about a ten minute instrumental in the middle of a thirty-three minute album, but that "Spring is in the Air" is and exception helps underscore our fascination with Love Is Love.  Departing from the psychedelic folk of its companion tracks, "Spring is in the Air" is a measured foray into synth, horn and percussion dub that I think would win approving nods from King Tubby or Lee Perry.

Most of the tracks are seemingly simple, but the consistent chord patterns, reverbed production and thoughtful atmospherics enhance the themes of the nature of love and the search for commonality.  Bristling with emotions ranging from disappointment and uncertainty to hope and optimism, the music is invariably bright and promising.  Born of the disappointments of the recent past, it directs our eyes toward the future.

Woods are Jeremy Earl (vocals/guitar/percussion), Jarvis Taveniere (bass/guitar), Aaron Neveu (drums/percussion), John Andrews (piano/organ/wurlitzer), Alec Spiegelman (sax/flute), and Cole Kamen-Green (trumpet).  Love Is Love is released via Woodsist as of April 21 for digital and May 19 for vinyl.








Facebook
Twitter
Bandcamp for Love Is Love
Woodsist page for Love Is Love

NEW NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES:

Thu-May-18     Los Angeles, CA @ The Teragram Ballroom
Fri-May-19       San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
Sat-May-20      Fresno, CA @ Strummer's
Sun-May-21     San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel
Wed-May-24    Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt
Thu-May-25      Victoria, BC @ Copper Owl
Fri-May-26        Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern

"Reference Books" by Mt. Doubt


"Reference Books" starts out smoldering, and then bursts into a full conflagration.  In my view, it is one of the best songs yet from Edinburgh's Mt. Doubt.  The song is the second single from the band's upcoming The Loneliness of the TV Watchers EP, which will be released on Scottish Fiction Records on June 2.  This is dark pop with substance and no pretense.  Enjoy!



Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud
Scottish Fiction