New EP: Fantastic Cat || Live At The Bowery Ballroom

The Very Best of Fantastic Cat easily made it to my 2022 year-end list, so it was a no-brainer to catch NYC supergroup Fantastic Cat live during their European tour this week. We knew Anthony D’Amato, Brian DunneDon DiLego and Hollis Brown’s Mike Montali had something to offer, but they more than live up to expectations on stage together. With self-mockery and humor (“We all have our own careers, but wanted to know what it’s like to earn a quarter of what we normally do”), but above all with a lot of fun and craftsmanship they entertain the audience with their appealing indie folk rock music. With only the mentioned debut LP (“That’s why we could call it Best Of”) you can’t build a 90-minute set, so they also play some new tracks, covers of The Bee Gee’s To Love Somebody and Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart, and some successful tunes from their individual projects. With a big smile they dance around each other to take over instruments from each other between songs, meanwhile discussing which of them is the best – an impossible choice, because they all write, sing and play in an amazing way.

To give you an idea of what you missed, the band has now released an EP with 4 tracks recorded at The Bowery Ballroom in their hometown. In addition to the well-known C’mon Armageddon and Fiona, you’ll hear 2 newcomers, All My Fault and Goodnight My Darling, showing that the winsome musicians continue on the same level.

Live At The Bowery Ballroom
is out on 7″ vinyl (self-released). Add to wantlist: Fantastic Cat

New single: Street Sweeper || Street Sweeper

If you are worried about the Aussies ruling the airwaves, I’ve got bad news for you. Their reign got even stronger.

Meet Street Sweeper from Melbourne, a four piece that Rock-‘n’-Rolls with capital R’s on their self-titled debut single. The three songs on the 7″ sound like a punked up Thin Lizzy by the way of Eddie & The Hot Rods and The Dictators, or better said, freakin’ awesome. Street Sweeper are here to scratch that itch for loud, groovy and catchy rock-‘n’-roll.

Get this one before they run out at Legless Records, whose roster (including Split System, Stiff Richards, Jackson Reid Briggs and many others) has become a thing of beauty. Oh, and about those airwaves….If I’d tell you Street Sweeper is currently working on a full length, that would be pretty great news right?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Dan Webb and the Spiders || WELL WELL

Dan Webb’s new single is called WELL WELL. It follows four recent EPs called Hey Guys and Guess What, Ghost Pipe and Pipeline 2020. Webb sure has a preference for two word titles, doesn’t he? It’s not the only consistent aspect of these recent releases of DWatS. Dan Webb has been on a roll for quite some time, finding the right balance between quantity and quality in his songs.

Webb is the kind of artist that is always open to new experiences and learning from others. That’s why he recorded the two songs on the WELL WELL single with the legendary Steve Albini. Webb explains: “The Spiders and I had recorded some songs at Electrical Audio for our 4th LP, Perfect Problem, back in 2015. At that session I was really impressed with how open Steve was to sharing his process and recording insights with us. These days I have been recording a lot of my own releases. So in an effort to improve, I decided to go back and record some more material there, this time with a new focus on learning as much as I could from the experience.”

WELL WELL is more than a succesful learning experience. Both songs are excellent, with Albini giving the song zero polish and a lot of punch. Kid has an alternative ’90s feel to it. Breaks has hints of Mikey Erg who recorded his most recent LP with Albini as well.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Van Pelt || Artisans & Merchants

Between 1993 and 1997, American emo/indie rock band The Van Pelt – “making sounds for listeners” – made quite an impression with tastemakers. Their Sultans Of Sentiment LP is truly a cult classic (re-issued last year), which now gets a worthy successor a quarter of a century later. I’ve listened to the nine new songs on Artisans & Merchants quite often recently, but still can’t fully grasp them. On first hearing you would push this record into the post-punk corner, but it’s actually much richer than that. For example, check out how much is happening in exciting singles Grid (with a cool video featuring skateboarder Keith Hardy) and Image of Health (“faith sounds like fate”), or in personal favorite Did We Hear the Same Song (with a rhythm that could have been by Talking Heads). This is immersive music with amazing lyrics, a very welcome comeback.

Artisans & Merchants, recorded/mixed by Jeff Zeigler, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Spartan Records (North America), Gringo Records (UK) and La Castanya (Europe and rest of the world). Featuring guest appearances by Nate Kinsella and Ted Leo (brother of frontman Chris Leo), among others.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Spartan

New album: The Lost Days || In The Store

Singer Songwriters Sarah Rose Janko (Dawn Riding) and Tony Molina together make up The Lost Days, a project where they mix jangly indie pop with folkrock. To  give you an idea, Janko and Molina count Bill Fox, The Byrds, and Dear Nora as some of the infuences for their new record In The Store.

If you are familiar with the music of Tony Molina, who is the principal songwriter in The Lost Days, you won’t be surprised by the conciseness of the songs on In The Store. Staying well below a total playing time of 15 minutes, the record has ten songs that flow by quickly and gently: Timeless guitar pop in bite-size nuggets, with sparse use of percussion. Janko’s vocals have an angelic quality that fits the music particularly well. In The Store is close to flawless, you can play it front-to-back repeatedly and it never bores, every song is a treat. This one is essential listening for fans of jangle pop. Buy the LP through Speakeasy Studios SF.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Monty Vega & The Sittin’ Shivas || Affordable Excellence

Portland r’n’r lifers Monty Vega & The Sittin’ Shivas play Beach Boys and bubblegum infused ramonescore that is unpolished and infectious. If I had to do a three-word review, I’d say their latest (mini) album Affordable Excellence sure is Fun, Fun, Fun.

Compared to their previous two records, Affordable Excellence is the first full-band release of Monty Vega & The Sittin’ Shivas – now a five piece. Songs like Bad Connection show the benefits of this approach. It is a massive pop punk hit with infectious vocal harmonies coming straight out the book of surfrock’n’roll. Affordable Excellence is full of songs like that. It’s not just the hooks that will put a smile on your face, the band has a good sense of irony as well. Listen to Me for example, a Ramonesesque anthem for narcissists. The antithetical Bruce Springsteen song Too Jersey is another one. Like I said before, if you’re looking for some Fun, Fun, Fun, give this one a try!

Add To Wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Thingz || In The Age Of Giant Moths

Californian garage rock combo The Thingz are back with what is their ninth full-length album. The In The Age of Giant Moths LP kicks off with wild dance banger Do The Moth, which made me expect a concept album about the creepy-crawly insect. The second track, Chicken Gang (with clucking guitars), also ventures into the animal kingdom, but then Kim Morris (vocals, bass, theremin), Mike Morris (vocals, guitar), Timothy Calacsan (keys, vocals) and Jason Cordero (drums, percussion, vocals) move on to other spaces. They themselves call it “a shadowy jungle of a self-created world of trashy rock and roll,” it turns out to be an environment that tickles your senses but in which it’s not difficult to feel at home. This is an exciting record with melodic riffs and appealing sing-along choruses, more uplifting than the title suggests.

In The Age Of Giant Moths, recorded/mixed/mastered by Johnny Cerneka, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Chaputa! Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Chaputa!

New album: Whitney’s Playland || Sunset Sea Breeze

If you’d like to know what the fuzz is with Whitney’s Playland (San Francisco) and their debut LP Sunset Sea Breeze, I don’t have a direct answer. Whitney’s Playland is Inna Showalter and George Tarlson. Their work in acts like Grandma’s Boyfriend, Blades of Joy, Modern Charms helps to partly explain why this is an anticipated project. But are the songs any good? The first couple times I played Sunset Sea Breeze my mind drew blank. I didn’t know what to think, had no clear recollection of most of the songs, the music slipping away like water between my fingers. I knew one thing only. There is something here, this is a special record. So I kept at it. I’m still doing that. I’m enjoying the process, digging the songs more and more. Here’s where I am at right now: Sunset Sea Breeze is an understated gem of an indie pop record, with gorgeous melodies and beautiful dreamy vocals by Inna Showalter. It makes me feel things. Like I said, I don’t have a direct answer. Other people have put their thoughts on Sunset Sea Breeze way better than I am capable of. Read the reviews at our friends of Janglepophub and RSTB, for example.

I do know this. Sunset Sea Breeze is a must listen if your are into indie pop and classic indie rock. Even if it doesn’t click right away, keep playing it. It is like a whisper, and those are easy to miss in our attention demanding society. Give Sunset Sea Breeze a chance, and it may very well end up as one of your favorites of the year. Buy the LP through Meritorio Records and the Tape through Paisley Shirt, although the latter may be sold out already.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio || Paisley Shirt

New album: Daddy Long Legs || Street Sermons

New York City’s rhythm & blues rockers from Daddy Long Legs return with their fourth studio album, Street Sermons. The twelve new songs are exciting and raucous as ever, but more than before folk influences and resting points also seep through in the garage punk in which raw vocals and a ferocious harmonica are just as important as the guitars. While the lyrics show awareness of the dark times we live in (“We’re livin’ a nightmare”), musically Brian Hurd aka Daddy Long Legs (lead vocals, blues harmonica, resonator guitars, piano, banjo, kazoo), Josh Styles (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Murat Aktürk (electric, acoustic & baritone guitars, percussion, backing vocals) always make for a good time.

Street Sermons, produced by Oakley Munson (The Black Lips), is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Yep Roc Records. Featuring guest appearances from Wreckless Eric and John Sebastian.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Yep Roc

New album: The Lords of Altamont || To Hell With Tomorrow, The Lords Are Now

Exactly one year ago, The Lords of Altamont were on the road for a sold out tour, described as a nonstop party: lighting up stage after stage, night after night. This great recording of one of those raw and electrifying shows – at Utrecht’s DB’s (Studio Moscow) – gives you a pretty good idea of the noise and energy of the Californian psychedelic hard rock / garage punk band. Heavy guitar riffs and compelling solos, a driving drum beat, glamorous organ melodies and sing-along gang vocals, you wish you had been there. It also shows that the collective has written a number of fascinating hits in the past 20 years, which makes this record a nice entry point for those who didn’t know them yet.

To Hell With Tomorrow, The Lords Are Now, recorded by Guyom Pavesi, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Heavy Psych Sounds.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || HPS

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