New single: Sillicone Values || Streaming TV b​/​w Nothing Wrong With Me

Bristol (UK) postpunk/indiepop hybrid Sillicone Values make a deliberate attempt of showing how little they care on their latest single. They don’t care if they sound like other bands. And, they explicitly mention that they recorded the two songs “without due care or attention.” They probably could care less if anyone listens to these songs, let alone write about them. I am not sure whether the four-piece is too cool to care or whether it genuine disinterest. Unfortunately, I like these two too much not to share. Streaming TV and Nothing Wrong With Me are a time capsule to the underground pop scene in ’80s UK. The only reason I’m sure this is in fact a present day band is that they sing about only feeling safe when they are streaming tv.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: She/Beast || Violent Tendencies

When the pandemic prevented Katja Nielsen from touring with her punk outfit Arre! Arre!, the Swedish singer / guitarist used the free time to develop her own identity as a singer-songwriter. Her isolation writing sessions led to the moniker of She/Beast, and the release of two EPs – In the Depths of Misery (December 2020), and This Too Shall Pass (March 2021) – with lyrics about the struggle with her bipolar disorder over a 80s synth vibe. Now here’s her debut full-length, Violent Tendencies, for which Nielsen fished from the same pool of 60s garage rock / girl group influences as Shannon and The Clams. This vintage sound, which is also somewhat reminiscent of the music on the Slow Grind Fever compilations, appeals to us a bit more than the goth pop of the earlier EPs, which were also interesting. The popcorn noir feeling – very well produced by Joakim Lindberg – fits perfectly with the crime theme of the new album; each of the ten tracks looks at a different female murderer. The cool, distinctive vocals of the artist convey the sinister stories in an immersive and convincing way – listening is literally an exciting experience.

Violent Tendencies is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through PNKSLM Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || PNKSLM

New album: Dummy || Mandatory Enjoyment

Busy day at work yesterday, and a perfect opportunity to catch up with some of the advanced streams I’d been receiving lately. I grabbed a coffee and pressed play on Dummy’s Mandatory Enjoyment. After releasing two EPs in 2020, both of which I liked, it’s the L.A. band’s debut full length and first release for the ever reliable Trouble In Mind Records. Somehow, I found myself still listening to it three hours later – the stream automatically restarts after finishing the album. Not sure if I was in a state of flow due to the nature of my work or because of the music, perhaps a bit of both. Sure to say, Mandatory Enjoyment offered a perfect backdrop to a productive morning.

When I paid a little more attention to the music, I started to see how Dummy draws you in, hook their tentacles in your skin, unwilling to let you go. Their music blends noisy guitar pop with sonic influences ranging from jazz, to synth to drone to showgaze to new age. The songs on Mandatory Enjoyment have a lot going on, tender a great deal to discover, but also leave ample space for reflection and mind wandering. H.V.A.C may be the best example of this, with his hypnotic and repetitive rhythm and the broad soundscapes. Ultimately, Mandatory Enjoyment works on a subsconscious and conscious level.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Trouble In Mind

New album: Zoo || No Man’s Land

Zoo is the brainchild of Cincinnati-based songwriter, Cory Pavlinac. Pavlinac used to major in Jazz guitar at Belmont University (Nashville) but then switched to creative writing – a logical step after many late-night drives studying the words and music of Bob Dylan and Patti Smith. That backstory is relevant for two reasons: One, the musicianship of Pavlinac has a level of complexity and depth that is marvelous. There are hints of The War On Drugs and Kevin Morby, but Zoo sounds less bombastic and more nuanced than the former and more diverse and complex than the latter. Above all, No Man’s Land is highly accessible, and full of well written folky indie rock.

Two, Zoo is the kind of record where it pays off to take the lyric sheet out, and fully experience the record while reading the lyrics. The album deals with the challenges of dealing with intimacy, isolation and empathy as an introvert, and getting married and becoming a father. The personal and heartfelt lyrics create a synergetic experience while listening to the music. Conversely, the music sets the right tone and atmosphere for the words to hit even harder. Worry is a good example of this. Pavlinac: “I wrote this song at 2a.m., laying in bed one night with all these thoughts flying around my head, unable to sleep. The song took shape immediately when the first line popped into my head (“Staring At The Ceiling In The Middle Of The Night // I Got Worry On My Mind”), and I snuck out of bed to go record it.” But there is also the anxiety of political and societal polarisation in the album’s best song Sleeping Dogs. “There is maybe a little of myself in the caricature of this person who is waiting it out, while complaining about the state of the nation all the while, and day dreaming of societal fallout,” Pavlinac explains.

No Man’s Land sounds tailor-made for the season of falling leaves, rain and wind, and the occasional indian summer day. For those shelving their records in alphabetical order, you could do much (much!) worse than having Zoo as the outer bookend of your collection. Another strong release by Good Eye Records who brought us that acclaimed Spud Cannon record earlier this year.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Almost Lovers || Almost Lovers

You probably never wondered what happens when you put influences from Teenage Fanclub, Together Pangea and Oasis in the blender, but the result would sound something like this fun self-titled debut EP – including nice minimalist cover art – from new French-Belgian power pop band Almost Lovers. Nini Mathy (vocals), Aurélien Gainetdinoff (bass, vocals), Fab Couz (guitar), and Clignotant Hugo (drums) play or played in several other bands (Annabel Lee, Crusaders of Love, Okay Monday, Departure Kids, etc.) , but from a shared taste for the same music and beers they wrote these six original songs together in no time. Listen to standout tracks 2 Good 2 Be True (a garage rock hit that lives up to its title) and So Gone (one that will become a live favorite). Reportedly, more is on the way, and that’s good news.

Almost Lovers is out now digitally and on cassette through Howlin Banana Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Red Pears || You Thought We Left Because The Door Was Open But We Were Waiting Outside

A cover photo with a clown out of focus, a long album title –You Thought We Left Because The Door Was Open But We Were Waiting Outside – that tells a story in itself, music that is somewhere between The Strokes, Allah-Las, The Subways, and SadGirl:- listening to the eight songs on the new (third) LP by Californian indie / alternative rock band The Red Pears is an exciting adventure. The sound of Henry Vargas (guitar, vocals), Jose Corona (drums), and Patrick Juarez (bass) evokes feelings of nostalgia, but sounds quite urgent in 2021 though. Fuzzy guitars, dynamic melodies, screaming vocals, and haunting lyrics (fron standout track House of Mirrors: “I don’t know if this was for attention // Whether your mind plays the games I should mention // I could take it away just for this time // I just want to be me if it’s alright” ). A lot can happen in 23 minutes, as it turns out.

Out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Ike Reilly || Because The Angels

American singer / songwriter / guitarist Ike Reilly offers that rare combination in which everything is right: he is a great storyteller, has a distinctive voice with an attractive gritty edge, and his experienced band knows exactly how to create the necessary greasy sound. On the new full-length album Because The Angels you’ll hear ten perfectly produced rock ‘n’ roll songs with sharp observations. The ten songs vary in tempo and instrumentation, the poetic lyrics are always captivating, and the hooks and harmony vocals provide nice surprises. This is rebellious punk rock in a country blues package, dark and uplifting at the same time. The opening track Little Messiahs sets the tone: “Who will sing these working blues // For the working poor // Whose souls are oozing // Solvent as each day it passes on // And after the candidates are gone // And everything is said and done // Who will sing these working songs” – it should be clear who fulfills that role from an intrinsic motivation, and in an authentic way. Besides Ike Reilly himself (guitar, vocals), the band (The Ike Reilly Assassination) consists of Phil Karnats (guitar), Dave Cottini (drums), Pete Cimbalo (bass), and Adam Krier (organ). On the previously released single Trick of the Light, the front man trades lines with his sons Shane, Kevin, and Mickey, asking questions about faith, hope, family, money, and fate. We could describe song by song in this way, but in fact everything about this LP is beautiful, right down to Tony Fitzpatrick’s cover art.

Because The Angels is out now on CD via Rock Ridge Music. You can listen to the full album on all streaming services.

Add to want list: Discogs || Ike Reilly

New EP: Grandmas House || Grandmas House

When I listened to Grandmas House’s cool single Always Happy / Small Talk last spring, I was curious what else the English punk trio would have to offer. With the five new tracks on the just released self-titled EP, they live up to the high expectations. As soon as you hear the heavy guitar sound, pounding drums, and growling vocals, you know you’re in the right place. “I’m still full of wonder // Sometimes I wonder // Do you believe in miracles // Do you believe in anything, anything at all”, they ask in the opening track Golden. If you gasp 10 minutes and 55 seconds later – each song takes about two minutes – you can’t help but reply that you believe in screaming out loud. This is indie rock / post-punk that continuously leaves you balancing between smiles and awe. I suspect the band members had a lot of fun recording their music and videos, but their facial expressions are too menacing to be sure. They are now touring the UK. Do you dare to visit Grandmas House?

Grandmas House is out now digitally and on limited edition 7″ vinyl through Brace Yourself Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Veps || Open the Door

“Her fingers wrapped around in all her secrets // Tearing down the walls is getting frequent // She’s the kind that’s always insecure // She’s lonely so she never shuts the door.” These are the beautiful opening words of Girl on TV, the opening track of Open the Door, the debut EP from Norwegian four-piece Veps. Words that won’t let you go, words you want more of. Impressive, especially when you realize that the four girls of Veps (translated: Wasp) are only 17 years old. Laura (guitar), June (bass), Maja (drums) and Helena (keys/piano) have been playing together since they were 14, which probably explains their mature sound and strong synergy. Their six first songs are varied, authentic and convincing – powerful indie pop/rock with bursts that prove they know how to use their instruments and vocals for maximum impact. Music you want more of.

Open the Door is out digitally and on 12″ vinyl through Kanine Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Dirty Flix || Set Your Radio On Fire

Set Your Radio On Fire is the debut full length of Dirty Flix. That title could either be read as a command or as a warning, because a) the music of Dirty Flix is clearly out of step with what gets played on the radio nowadays, and b) if you play this one loud your radio may in fact catch on fire. That is, Dirty Flix’s mix of glam, sleaze, rock’n’roll, powerpop and punk is highly combustible, full of energy and contagious as hell. Underneath the sleazy guitars there is a lot of pop, which should come as no surprise. The members of Dirty Flix used to play in bubblegum pop punk outfit The Lettermans and cite Cheap Trick as one of their primary influences. Dirty Flix sounds much louder and faster than Cheap Trick though. I see The Cry! and Barreracudas as more recent reference points of the band’s sound – the band also namedrops The Rolling Stones, The Replacements, and New York Dolls.

Speaking of the radio, the band’s lead single Hollywood Dreamgirl already received airtime by legendary dj Rodney Bingenheimer on the underground Garage. Not all radio sucks right? That song is a major hit, but that applies to A LOT of songs on Set Your Radio On Fire, including a fun cover of The Jags’ Back Of My Hand. Perhaps my favorite track on the record is the kickass anthem Dying Of Boredom – by far the longest track on the record but still one I have on constant repeat right now.

Set Your Radio On Fire is a hook-filled high octane rock’n’roll party that will test your speaker system and your neighbors’ patience. Stream the record now, buy later: LPs in different colors coming soon at Punk Head Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Punk Head Records

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