Since 2013, Columbus, Ohio's Connections have made four near-perfect albums of lo-fi pop majesty for the seminal Midwest label Anyway Records, and "Foreign Affairs" continues that winning streak with sixteen songs packed with sardonic tunefulness and Buckeye bombast. Connections sprung forth from Nineties pop band 84 Nash, infamous for being the only non-GBV related band released on Robert Pollard's own Rockathon Records and comparisons to the Indie Rock underdogs seem inevitable, if not a little shortsighted. Connections' brand of indie rock definitely has one foot in The Nineties but maintains a classicist's penchant for nuanced & timeless rock'n'roll. These guys have done their homework, but nothing feels studied - they've drunk from the waters of the Ohio Underground and the tunes flow forth naturally, with nods to their Nineties brethren as well as idiosyncratic Midwest legends. For every obvious, life-affirming hit on 'Foreign Affairs' ("Good Cop", "Low Low Low") there are equal numbers of stealthy earworms like the chiming "Short Line", or the yearning, organ-drenched "Downtown" The songs ooze familiarity and an instant lyrical relatability, with singer Kevin Elliot's lyrics reveling in the everyday's little details; good friends, love and rock 'n' roll with restlessness and desire in a harsh, unforgiving but still beautiful world.
Parisian quintet En Attendant Ana has been nonchalantly crafting perfect pop songs since 2014. Their debut 12-inch "Songs From The Cave" was released in late 2017, garnering rave reviews for their refreshing blend of nouveau French pop, C86 indie, and foggy Flying Nun influenced jangle.
"Lost and Found" begins with the ominous clanging of guitars, before launching into a churning whirl of sound; guitars slash, keyboards drone, trumpets wail, and drums crash. What follows are nine more songs of urgent and thrilling pop dazzle.; from the adrenaline-soaked anthem "This Could Be", to the driving "RÃ©" with it's rapturous "oohs" and Camille FrÃ©chou's uplifting trumpet fanfare, echoing Entwistle's French horn lines from "Sell Out"-era Who. Vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Margaux Bouchaudon's a yearning, tuneful register can't help but recall the indie cool of Laetitia Sadier or Nico, but still boasts a style of her own. The clarity and timelessness of the band's songwriting proves them to be a band filled with craft and promise.
"Lost and Found" is released on CD, black vinyl LP (a limited "sunset orange" version is available for direct accounts while supplies last), and via all Digital retailers.
FACS sprung forth in early 2017 from the ashes of beloved Chicago band Disappears. "Negative Houses" is their debut recording; an abstraction of their former outfit, even more minimal and bare than what came before. "Negative Houses" approaches the stark, gothy post-punk previously perfected more rhythmically and abstract than in Disappears, with Leger's motorik, machine-like drumming taking the forefront (see the tunes 'Skylarking' and 'Others') and van Herik's guitar alternating between slashes of dissonant ambience and percussive accent. Case switches from guitar to bass in FACS, adding an economical throb to the band's drive on songs like 'Just A Mirror' & the album's centerpiece, the near nine-minute, sax-soaked tour-de-force 'Houses Breathing', whose electric heartbeat lumbers forward, sounding like an outtake from Cold Storage Studios circa 1979.
Olden Yolk is a New York-based group led by songwriters, vocalists, and multi-instrumentalists Shane Butler (Quilt) and Caity Shaffer whose penchant for dystopian folk, abstract poeticism, and motorik rhythms have enveloped them in a sound uniquely of-the-moment yet simultaneously time-tested. The band's debut ruminates on questions surrounding love, self-doubt, and locating autonomy amidst burgeoning unrest. Wrought with hazy melancholy and halcyon joy, these songs are ecstatic odes to the life of the city; to the subway platforms, kiosks, and monuments which enliven and encompass our collectivity, elevating into an urban-psychedelia.
Brooklyn ensemble Sunwatchers return with the incendiary follow up to their 2016 eponymous debut, the appropriately titled "II". The quartet continues to defy adequate description, incorporating elements of free jazz, psychedelia, punk, Ethiopian and Thai music and funk into a dizzy, invigorating sound. "II" kicks off with the click of sticks and launches into "Nosebeers", a righteous burner that writhes and squawks with heady desert vibes and white hot saxophone, soundingnot unlike something akin to Group Doueh jamming with John Zorn. "The Hot Eye" is next, and the band doesn’t let up revving up an anxious marching beat into a raging squall that ebbs & flows with tidal waves of horn and guitar. The band has more in store for listeners, easing into the third track "There Are Weapons You Can Bring To School". With it's contemplative tone, the song sets a mood for the album, righteous, socially conscious messaging, no more evident than the message embroidered onto the tapestry that graces the front cover artwork: "SUNWATCHERS STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE DISPOSSESSED, IMPOVERISHED AND EMBATTLED PEOPLE OF THE WORLD". The band considers it both a mission statement & a battle cry: "We are musicians, and we will leave political specifics to those more qualified than we are. All the time and energy and passion we can muster we dedicate to writing, performing, recording and releasing music instrumental music, released from the tyranny of semantics into the freedom and hopefulness of universality-of-connection. We thusly realize the need to become overt about our own intentions and our own mores; without the ease and accessibility of direct language, the onus is on us to express our principles in other ways."* The album's second side opens with the barn-burning "Silent Boogie" with saxophonist Jeff Tobias tapping into the elemental fires of free-jazzskronk while the rhythm section hammers away like the Asheton brothers on a speed trip. "The Works" & "Flowers Of The Water (For Lou)" close out the album, simmering the boil, and firing the listener off into Interstellar Space. Sunwatchers "II" is released on compact disc, black vinyl & limited "rainbow splatter" vinyl for direct account. It will also be made available via all digital retailers.
Christchurch, New Zealand's Salad Boys are back with "This Is Glue", the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2015 debut album "Metalmania". Recorded once again by bandleader/guitarist Joe Sampson at his home studio, "This Is Glue's" twelve songs dig deeper, with sharper hooks embedded deep within a more mature musicality. "This Is Glue" hones Sampson's songwriting chops to a razor edge, with many of the album's songs sounding utterly timeless. The riffs and melodies seem all too familiar, perhaps recalling greats that came before them (The Chills, R.E.M., The Bats), but Sampson has a voice all his own. The themes are darker, the lyrics more claustrophobic and yearning; confronting anxiety, mortality, and fear through an abstract lyrical lens. Album opener "Blown Up" kickstarts with motorik drumming that crescendos into a thrilling guitar riff that could crack mountains. "Psych Slasher" crashes forward frenetically awash in phaser before easing into a melodic denouement buoyed by a bubbling synthesizer before a tidal wave of guitar crashes down again.
Headroom first took flight in 2016 as the solo outlet for New Haven musician Kryssi Battalene, nÃ©e of regarded noise project Colorguard & guitarist for psychedelic voyagers, Mountain Movers. "Head In The Clouds" showcases her molten-lava guitar shredding alongside an all-star cast from the New Haven underground. Part Twisted Village / PSF Records-influenced white noise maelstrom, part nuanced, beautiful six-stringed draperies, "Head In the Clouds" is an album meant to get lost in.
Atlanta, GA trio Omni charges out of the gate in 2016, stunning everyone within earshot with their debut longplayer, "Deluxe"; a dizzyingly refreshing amalgam of wiry post-punk jitters & a dash of zen cool. "Multi-task" is their latest offering & all signs point to the coveted goal of "next level".
Guitarist Frankie Broyles (ex-Balkans/Deerhunter) & bassist/vocalist Philip Frobos (Carnivores) crafted "Deluxe"s eleven tracks in their practice space with friend & engineer Nathaniel Higgins. They returned to Higgins for "Multi-task", recording basic drum tracks at Higgins' home studio & overdubbing bass, guitar, vocals & more during two separate trips to a remote cabin in the woods near Vienna, Georgia.
"Multi-task" is a more musically adventurous step forward for the band, keeping the frantic, fleet-fingered fingerpicking of Broyles' guitar work & Frobos' dead-cool delivery while expanding their musical palette & to include whispers of post-Roxy glam & Postcard Records pop. "Multi-task" balances the band's trademark off-kilter & unconventional jams with an elegance not found in many of their contemporaries, Omni pulls it off with grace & style, still whirring on their minimalist funk-fused agit-pop while creating an album that is awash in the excitement of new love, or fleeting attraction - a journey from that dizzying buzz of first date pheromones found twirling on the dance floor to the cab ride cool-down to home (or wherever.)
Debut solo album from Jack Cooper of Ultimate Painting. A beautifully melancholic song cycle about life in England's "Las Vegas of the North",Blackpool and the desolate Fylde Coast.
"Pictures of Saint Paul Street" is the sixth solo album from the former Mirrors/Gris-Gris mastermind Greg Ashley, an amalgam of tortured, Cohen-esque folk tinged with the beer soaked recklessness of a West Texas honky-tonk. The songs on "Pictures of Saint Paul Street" are lush & beautiful autopsies of society's underbelly, with stark and brutally honest ruminations on humanity. Ashley's songs move from ballads of hopeless misery to rallying anthems for the dispossessed. The people & artists who move further to the fringe as power and greed overtake our planet.
Massachusetts songwriter Doug Tuttle returns with his third solo album, "Peace Potato", once again on Chicago label Trouble In Mind Records. His 2013 solo debut (after fronting his longtime psychedelic band, MMOSS) was an insular and foggy psychedelic masterpiece punctuated by Tuttle's stinging guitar leads, accented by flashes of bedroom Fairport /Crazy Horse brilliance, towing the line nimbly between elegance and ragged assurance. We last saw Tuttle on "It Calls On Me", his 2015 sophomore album, which pushed his songwriting towards further clarity and melody "Peace Potato" shakes it all down with Tuttle's strongest batch of songs yet.
"Peace Potato" introduces itself with the horn-laden, honeydripper,"Bait The Sun", a classic Tuttle tune; downer pop melodies coloring a hypnagogic landscape. It is indeed that state of lucid dreaming, somewhere between the onset of sleep is where Tuttle firmly plants the seeds of "Peace Potato". Songs stutter to life and grind to a halt, to calculated effect, stitched together into a patchwork of full tunes, song fragments and waves of melodic euphoria.Throughout all, Tuttle's guitar picking and soloing echoes the greats of decades prior, Harrison, Thompson, Clarence White, with a conscious eye to the unsung bedroom and basement weird pop genius of sung and unsung artists like Harumi, Sixth Station, The Bachs and Jim Sullivan. Tuttle played every instrument and recorded the entirety of "Peace Potato" in his Somerville bedroom studio; a ubiquitous location in these modern times, but the ease at which Tuttle's songs fold and unfold, suggests something more than your usual home-recorded musings.
"Peace Potato" is released on black (and limited color) vinyl, compact disc and available via all the usual digital platforms.
The Mountain Movers have, over the course of five albums steadily become New Haven's best kept secret; a band capable of lurching between melancholic indie rock, strident garage/psych and pummeling guitar freak-fuckery. This, their s/t sixth album coalesces the band's vision so succinctly and perfectly, it makes you wonder where they’re been your whole life. "Mountain Movers" starts off with the dark, stormy fourteen minute track "I Could Really See Things". Fading into view with a scree of feedback, the drums and bass start to pound and pummel until the song lurches forward, lumbering purposefully toward slashes of guitar improvisation. Then, in a flash comes the jangling, melodic strum of "Everyone Cares" the a brief "Intro" and "Angels Don't Worry" is next up, finding that sweet spot between murky kraut-tinged psychedelia and acid-fried guitar-noise exploration. "Vision Television" pounds out succinct garage stomp and heavy VU-inflected swagger. The album is bookended by "Jam 2" that fades into a full-bore, head-down krautrock slow burn that somehow sounds like the most melodic of Can's repertoire and Sonic Youth at their most effective improv stages "Mountain Movers" is a tour de force. Bandleader Dan Greene's songwriting hits home when it needs to, but leaves pockets open for the band to stretch out and really find a way inside the songs themselves. "Mountain Movers" is a vinyl-only release, pressed on black vinyl and silver vinyl in a limited run of 500 copies, and includes a insert.
On RAYS' debut album the band spins eleven tunes of wiry, urgent post-punk, one foot planted firmly in the nihilistic apathy of 70 & 80's punk (Wire, Electric Eels, Pere Ubu, Eno, Television The Fall), Australian punk past & present (UV Race, Terry, Victims, Babeez), and the addictive strum of 80's & 90's New Zealand/Flying Nun pop; all of whom have found their own way to meld the ferocity & thuggery of punk with a singular melodic voice. RAYS are no different; the swirling jangle of "Attic" starts the album off, sardonically extolling the joy of 'attic life' with Hannan's monotone conveying an underlying sense of dread & isolation. "Dead Man's Curve", with it's hook-filled, organ-laden chorus plays like a lost teenage tragedy song, celebrating the desperation & angst of reckless youth.
Elsewhere, tunes like "Theatre of Lunacy", "Made of Shadows" & "Drop Dead" rage with a desperate fire, speaking to the absurdities of everyday life, but with a wry smile. Shit is fucked, but the members of RAYS seem intent on finding humor within the world's everyday desperation, because sometimes that's the only way to stay sane. "Pain & Sorrow", "Back Downtown" all speak to these truths. The album ends with Hannon's "Over and Over", it's sweet melody belying a derisive outlook on the necessity of modern life & the repetition it requires. Throughout it all, RAYS' debut never feels angry, Recorded by Bay-area stalwart Kelley Stoltz & mastered by Australian tone-genius Mikey Young (Total Control/Eddy Current Suppression Ring) RAYS is a joyous album packed with weird new-wave swirls and sugar-sticky hooks.
The Paperhead have been Nashville's best-kept secret for years now. The trio have crafted three albums of psych-pop perfection, last leaving us with 2014's "Africa Avenue". They return in fine form with their fourth magnum opus, entitled "Chew". Having been lifelong fans of psychedelia & prog rock, They've found a way to straddle four decades of music. Rather than committing the cardinal sin of many modern acts by drenching everything in reverb, "Chew" revels in clarity & melody - the listener finds themselves disoriented by the jarring juxtaposition of styles, rather than gimmicky studio trickery. This was purposeful, as the band wanted "Chew" to seem like criss-crossing AM radio broadcasts. Melodic psych-pop drifts up against crunchy, progressive riffs and good ol' steel-guitar driven country rock, but it all works. The album's centerpiece "Dama de Lavanda" is perhaps their most accomplished composition to date, with it's breezy latin rhythms - it swings with an assuredness unseen from the band as yet. Horns & flutes pepper the mix, but it's the Bacharach-meets-Pretty Things outro that really hits a home run. The obvious peak of an album crackling with ideas & creativity. "Chew" was recorded by the band in bassist Peter Stringer-Hye's garage studio in Nashville & mixed by Cooper Crain (Bitchin' Bajas, Cave) at Chicago's Minbal Studios. "Chew" is released on compact disc & black vinyl, and includes a download code.
Dusk is the third album from London-based duo Ultimate Painting, a ten song set that expands the group's sound from their self-titled debut and their critically acclaimed sophomore effort Green Lanes. Dusk heads along the same path, albeit in a slightly different direction, forging to new territory by heading inward. The group's discovered a simple lushness in Dusk's arrangements, sometimes only with subtle additions like Hoare's recently acquired Wurlitzer piano that drives tunes like 'Lead The Way' or washes underneath others like 'Monday Morning, Somewhere Central'. Dusk feels different and cements the group's presence in the modern world guitar pop, finding voice in the allure of quietude.
Melbourne, Australia band Chook Race formed in 2010, starting out as a scrappy, garage/surf band, but soon developed a greater pop sensibility, born of their love of the Flying Nun bands and other bedroom favorites. After a string of of tapes and 7"s Chook Race return with new album 'Around The House', due for release on September 2nd through Chicago's Trouble in Mind Records. The ten songs on "Around The House" are oddly withdrawn yet highly personal tunes, but performed by the band with a desperate urgency. Songs like the immediate & catchy "Hard To Clean" & "Sometimes" clang & clatter like chrome-plated pop earworms, while others like the somber "Pink & Grey" and album-closer "Start Anew" hum pensively, quietly insinuating themselves into your subconscious. Captured in a single day by Tom Hardisty (NUN, Woollen Kits) and mastered by Mikey Young (Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring) the album has a compelling sound defined by jangly guitars, boy-girl harmonies and lyrical observations of the everyday. "Around The House" is released digitally, on compact disc, and pressed on black vinyl w/download.
Chicago trio The Hecks have been skulking around Chicago's DIY scene for some time now honing their unique twin-guitar sound, weaving tense and beautiful sonic passages of dissonance and harmony into weird and infectious pop songs. The band's eponymous debut has been two years in the making and manages to cram knowledge gleaned from years of absorbing sounds and tones both ugly and beautiful, hitting all the wrong notes in all the wrongs ways to deconstruct sound into their own vessel. Noise drones like "Landscape Photography" and "Tea" sit comfortably amidst the more 'traditionally structured' tunes as well as the apocalyptic mid-album belter "Favor" which sound like something akin to the heavens falling. Recorded by the band at guitarist Dave Vettraino's Public House Recording Studio, "The Hecks" is released digitally, compact disc and pressed on black vinyl. Vinyl includes a download code.
Beef Jerk's debut LP "Tragic" was self-released in a small run by the band in 2015 & has now been re-released for a deservedly wider audience by Trouble In Mind in 2016. The band often get lumped in with the Australian "dolewave" scene - a joke title referring to bands of the jangling pop variety whose lyrics often touch on the more mundane aspects of modern life in Australia. Beef Jerk's principal songwriters' Jack Lee & Mikey Branson certainly write tunes that seem to fit that mold, but upon further investigation & attention, reveal an intelligent, deeper & poetic understanding of working class culture in Australia. "Tragic" is re-released by Trouble In Mind with all-new artwork, and includes a download code.
Omni - the band, not the hotel - are from the former home of the Braves: Atlanta. Playing lo-fi pop that channels the spectre of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Omni brings you back to an era where any sane person was reeling from the unfulfilled promise of the Space Age and Age of Aquarius bleeding into the looming threat of "Morning in America.” Omni distills the buzz and grit that snakes through the best of Television, Devo, and Pylon into surprisingly danceable, hook-laden slabs of raw, angular, sonic bliss. It’s still the summer of '78, and pushing the roots of rock & roll to its limits remains in vogue. "Deluxe" serves as a fresh reminder that rock music can work outside of blues rooted, formulaic progressions without playing it safe behind a wall of effects. Arty enough to impress record enthusiasts, yet melodically attractive enough to transcend to those who’ve never asked: “’Sister Midnight’ or ‘Red Money’?”