New album: Evening Standards || The Shining

Scrappy basement pop anthems designed for massive singalongs

Basement pop champions Evening Standards are back with their fourth album The Shining, and they’re still cranking out irresistible guitar pop like it’s going out of style (spoiler alert: it’s not). The band may have traded Bloomington for Gainesville, but their sound remains a perfect cocktail of alt-country twang and punk rock swagger.

In all honesty, Evening Standards are the kind of band you might miss if you blink. But once you’re in on the secret, you’re hooked for life. The Shining is packed with scrappy pop anthems perfectly designed for singalongs. The dual vocals of Chris Mott and Daun (alumni of Landlord, Purple 7, The Door-Keys, and Fat Shadow) create a vibe that has “your coolest friends jamming in the garage” written all over it. When they belt out lines like “I’m the same as you, honey. I’ve got shit to do” (from Sniffing Glue), you can’t help but relate.

It’s not just the relatable lyrics and catchy vocals that’ll grab you. Evening Standards deliver their tunes with a perfect blend of heart, grit, energy and melody that quickly becomes outright addictive. The Shining is out now on LP at Dead Broke Rekerds who state that this is “probably our favorite record to drop this year,” and honestly, they have a strong case. Highly recommended!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Dead Broke Rekerds

New album: Wild Yaks || Monumental Deeds

Nearly twenty years into their career, the Rockaway Beach musicians up their game on versatile sixth LP

Monumental Deeds, the sixth album by New York-based indie rock outfit Wild Yaks, contains ten new tracks that are difficult to categorize but easy to embrace. Jose Aybar (bass, vocals), Jairo Barsallo Rubio (lead guitar, vocals), Robert Bryn (vocals, rhythm guitar), Martin Cartegena (drums, vocals), Giovanni Kincaide (keyboards, vocals) and Jeff Tobias (saxophone) explore themes of hope and self-awareness in their lyrics, which stick effortlessly to the countless hooks. The song structures are complex and diverse, the playing is energetic and expressive, the vocals are potent and powerful, and the sound has an uplifting live feel but is always well thought through.

Monumental Deeds, produced by Jack Dawson and Wild Yaks, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Ernest Jenning Record Co.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Brad Marino || Hot Rod Rampage

Surf's Up! Brad Marino Rides the Hot Rod Wave on His Latest EP

Who knew Brad Marino had a secret itch to scratch in the realm of hot rod ‘n’roll? While he’s been riding the Ramones wave lately, Marino trades his leather jacket for a blue-white striped tee and his garage for the beach with his latest EP, Hot Rod Rampage.

Joined by Dave Strong and Craig Sala for this joyride – with a cameo by Kris Rodgers on the piano on one track and Bobby Davis dropping in for a couple of guitar solos – Marino serves up four short-but-sweet throwbacks to the golden age of surf rock. Think Beach Boys, The Rip Chords, and Jan & Dean providing the soundtrack for endless summer days. These beach-ready hits come complete with a generous helping of “oohs” and “aahs,” and by the time the surfy instrumental Tripewire closes out the EP, you’ll be ready to wax up your board and catch some waves.

Since 2010, Brad Marino’s been proving that they “still make ’em like they used to” after all – and with Hot Rod Rampage, he is showcasing a welcome new side to his arsenal. Summer can’t come soon enough!

EP is streaming everywhere now. Rumour has it this hot rod rendition of Brad Marino will return next year for a full-length LP. Siked!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Max Blansjaar || False Comforts

Layered Instrumentation and Confident Vocals Define A Powerful Debut

Max Blansjaar, born in Amsterdam but raised in Oxford (UK), grew up immersed in the local music scene, promoting and playing shows as a teenager. Now, on his debut album False Comforts, he moves beyond the lo-fi pop of his youth to create something truly impressive.

Blansjaar recorded False Comforts with Katie Von Schleicher at her home studio in Brooklyn. The result is an eclectic yet accessible collection of poppy indie rock tunes. In this interview at Musicngear, Blansjaar explains how he is inspired by bands that “do a lot with little” like Velvet Underground, Neutral Milk Hotel and Elephant 6, because it leaves room for melodies to soar. That’s exactly what you get on False Comforts. Blansjaar’s laid-back, confident vocals perfectly complement the subtly layered and commodious instrumentation, which includes bass, drums, guitar, synth, piano, and saxophone, and drops memorable melodies over them like he was born to do exactly that.

Each song elicits a unique response. The opener Saturnia is built on a bass riff that makes it impossible to sit still. Burning In Our Name starts folky but turns into a head-bopper. Like A Bad Dream sways and swoons, standing out as one of the album’s highlights. Red Tiger is a quiet song that makes you sit down and pay attention to the lyrics – another one of Blansjaar’s strengths. Life On Earth sounds like an indie hit from the ‘00s.

Blansjaar’s talent shines brightly on False Comforts. It’s the kind of record that wins you over one song at a time, and is destined to be revered by music critics and cherished by listeners alike. Out now on Cassette and LP at Oxford label Beanie Tapes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Sheaves || A Salve For Institution

A Scratchy Take On Jangly Post-Punk

The Sheaves, a Phoenix-based jangly post-punk band, have followed up their debut album Excess Death Cult Time — originally released on cassette in 2022 and later on vinyl in 2023, with their new record A Salve For Institution. This release is a collaborative effort between sdz records (Paris) and Dot Dash Sounds (New York).

The Sheaves are anything but ordinary. On A Salve For Institution, they expertly challenge and tease their audience. The album is just the right amount of lo-fi, featuring scratchy, dissonant guitar work and a vocal style that borders on spoken word. Some tracks are trippy and make your mind wander, while others feel like being lost in a desert, thirsty and disoriented.

But if you stick with it, you’ll be rewarded—not just with some catchy tunes but with a burst of creativity that makes this album special. The Sheaves take you on a unique musical journey that’s well worth the trip.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || sdz

New album: G.C.C. || Lobotomias A Domicilio

Meet Costa Rica Garage Pop Punk sensation Gold City Cigarettes!

The thrill that drives this website is discovering a new record that gets you giddy with excitement, eager to share it with the world. There’s something extra special about finding a gem from a place where your knowledge of the local scene is practically nonexistent.

Enter Lobotomias A Domicilio, the debut full-length album from G.C.C., also known as the Gold City Cigarettes, hailing from San Jose, Costa Rica. Picture this: you’re scrolling through the depths of Bandcamp when suddenly, a burst of high-energy, irresistible garage pop punk grabs your attention. That’s G.C.C. for you.

This 15-song collection is an infectious blend of catchy riffs, spirited vocals, and sheer pop punk exuberance. By the time the band’s charming rendition of Lipstick On Your Collar (made famous by Connie Francis) kicks in, you’re already head-bobbing and hooked on their unique sound. Songs like X.S.S., No Eres Tú (Soy Yo), Faro Bajo El Agua, and Agujas Y Gacillas will have you singing along, even if you’re just guessing the lyrics. These tracks are perfect for pogoing around your living room, spilling stuff on your floor and not caring one bit. And then there’s Mamapichas, a blisteringly fast track with a Banned In DC blueprint that feels like a sonic adrenaline shot, guaranteed to ignite any mosh pit.

G.C.C.’s Lobotomias A Domicilio is a thrilling introduction to a band that’s sure to make waves far beyond their local scene. So, grab your headphones, turn up the volume, and let the Gold City Cigarettes light up your day.

Album out now on Bien Malo Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Smiling Strangers || Smiling Strangers

Charming twee pop debut

Smiling Strangers are a charming twee pop outfit from St. Louis, Missouri, featuring Sarah (vocals, keys), Pete (guitar), Violet (bass) and Ben (drums). They make their debut with a self-titled EP that is too delightful not to share. You’ll hear six very nice songs with jangling guitars, irresistible organ melodies, angelic vocals, and clever lyrics. For proof, just listen to The Surveyor, a wonderful tune about conspiracy theorists: “A smiling stranger on the street // Tell me what do you think it means?” From the band name to the cover art to the music, it’s all equally appealing.

The self-titled Smiling Strangers EP is out now digitally and on cassette (self-released).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Covids || Banned From The USA

Amsterdam punks use a major setback to their advantage on latest single

In 2023, Amsterdam-based punk band The Covids were all set for their first USA tour, but a visa mix-up led to two members being banned by American border police. With their tour canceled, the two remaining members teamed up with their Spanish friend, Nestter Donuts, to record a song about the ordeal while drowning their sorrows at Savannah Studios. The result? A single featuring two versions of Banned From The USA: one recorded in the States and the other back on Dutch territory with the whole band. It’s fun to compare the two. The original take is a killer stripped-down, lo-fi garage rocker, while the full-band studio recording (see video below) transforms it into a rockin’ slab of late ’70s punk.

Another exciting release from a Dutch punk scene that currently feels like a volcano waiting to erupt. Bands are popping up everywhere, and the political climate in the Netherlands is driving adolescents of all ages into loud, fast, and angry music. The Covids prove once again they are at the forefront of this movement.

The Banned From The USA single is out now on 7″ at Wap Shop Wap Records and comes with amazing artwork and an equally well-produced video.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Magnatech || Europa

A quirky invitation to fly off to places you would long to be whilst listening to these instrumentals

Magnatech aka Johannes Bernardus Verhoef, currently based in Bocholt, Germany, is back with sixteen new two-minute songs in which surf pop, exotica and Indorock merge. Europe, his fifth LP, is a kind of concept album that brings America and Europe together. Or as the artist puts it: “Some tunes will invite you to be on the beach riding your surfboard on the beaches of Biscaya, whilst others will bring you back to the atmosphere in early sixties Dutch and German dancehalls.” I experience it as quirky pop art in which exotic instrumentals are interspersed with well-known tunes, sound effects and spoken word snippets – nods to high and low culture. In terms of cover design it’s Magnatech’s least attractive release to date (compare it with Herr Magnatech Bittet Zum Tanz or De Favorieten Expres!), but – more important – musically it’s a trip that’s at least as entertaining and colorful as ever.

Europa is out now digitally and on CD through Sharawaji Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Pretty Pretty Please || Soda Pop​ / ​Tequila + Time Away

Band to watch

Looking for summer hits in the making? Minneapolis-based pop/rock duo Pretty Pretty Please make a convincing application with their thirsty debut EP. The relatively new band consists of Ben Tarr and Sam Walsh, who wrote, recorded, produced and performed these two folky songs full of hooks.  Both Soda Pop​ and ​Tequila + Time Away are characterized by energetic acoustic guitar melodies with effective tempo changes, and uplifting harmony vocals. There is no shortage of zest and fun, cheerful nodding or tapping guaranteed.

Soda Pop​ / Tequila + Time Away is out now digitally via Airo Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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