New album: The Monofones || Loud & Lousy

OK, let’s play some good old rock ‘n’ roll with a punk attitude. Swiss garage rock trio The Monofones are back with their sixth full-length album, with the revealing title Loud & Lousy. It sounds like a thunderstorm is approaching, but when there’s a cheerful whistle after 15 seconds, you get the feeling you don’t really have to worry. Yet the threat lingers for 15 songs, gets even more powerful – over 35 minutes with lightning guitars and thunderous drums. The screaming female vocals easily rise above the musical violence, to assure you in confident lyrics that you don’t have to make any illusions that you won’t be hit. Only in the closing song does the storm decrease in strength and you can breathe a sigh of relief, with your hair messy and in amazement at what you’ve just undergone.

Loud & Lousy is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Little Rebel Records. RIYL: Guano Apes, The Distillers, The Jackets.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Little Rebel

New album: Gabriella Cohen || Blue No More

Australian singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist (and actress) Gabriella Cohen has released her third full-length album, Blue No More. It’s  poppier than the music we usually share here, but it has so many appealing elements that I don’t want to withhold it from you. You’ll hear pinches of country, folk, blues, and gospel, but also influences from indie pop, 60’s girl groups, and even glam rock. The 10 songs may be genre-transcending, but are always soulful, warm and laidback. Side A is energetic and contains the hits, with earworm I Just Got So High as the greatest test of aptitude, on side B the tempo is reduced with dreamy, cinematic ballads in which synths and soundscapes appear. If you want some variety from the riffing guitars we’ll be writing about for the rest of the week, you should check this out.

Blue No More is out now digitally and on vinyl LP. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

New album: Artsick || Fingers Crossed

If you press the play button below, you’ll hear an indie rock band that clearly intends to deliver a convincing LP. Enthusiasm, fun and C86 influences radiate from the 11 short but powerful songs. We’re talking about Fingers Crossed, the debut full-length album with which Artsick follows up their 7″ single Going Down / No Clue (2018). We already knew the three band members from other admired projects – Christina Riley of Burnt Palms on guitar, Mario Hernandez of Kids On A Crime Spree* and Ciao Bella on drums, and Donna McKean of Lunchbox and Hard Left on bass – so we could expect some fine music, but their mutual chemistry creates a result that is more than the sum of its parts (apparently this is a successful remedy for their “artsickness”, which was the reason to do something else). “Satisfaction, where are you?” is the question in opening track Restless. The answer lies in this timeless, energetic record. RIYL: Talulah Gosh, Jeanines, Veronica Falls.

Fingers Crossed is out now digitally, on cassette, CD and vinyl LP through the always reliable Slumberland Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Slumberland

*Kids On A Crime Spree also released a new album this week, more on that in the coming days.

New album: The Kernal || Listen to the Blood

Tennessee native Joe Garner inherited the love for country music and a red polyester suit from his father Charlie, who played bass on the weekly concert broadcast Grand Ole Opry for 30 years. That’s how he started The Kernal, after the death of Joe’s father: “I thought, I’m going to put this old suit on and I’m going to be my own version of some of these country guys.” His new LP Listen to the Blood is the last of an album trilogy (the inherited red suit graces all record covers), which came about during a ten-year journey in which Joe wanted to prove himself as a musician, at the same time trying to tie together loose ends of the family history. The sound of the 9 new songs is fortunately not as dark as the somewhat disturbing and misleading cover photo and album title suggest. No, this is warm and uplifting contemporary Americana which is easy to enjoy. I’m curious what Joe will do now that he has dealt with the negative aspects of the past, because this project leaves you wanting more.

Listen to the Blood is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Single Lock Records

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || The Kernal

New single: Nile Marr || How We Drift

At the end of 2020, Nile Marr released his debut album Are You Happy Now?, on his own label Oldham Street Records. Now the UK singer/songwriter/guitarist – his first name is a tribute to Chic’s Nile Rodgers, his last name was passed on by his father Johnny (then The Smiths, now solo) – is back with two new songs, in my humble opinion the best he has recorded to date. A-side How We Drift is a powerful, up-tempo track with some great hooks, but the quieter Only Time Can Break Your Heart on the B-side is the real hit here – one you won’t get out of your head after one listen. Accessible indie pop/rock that every self-respecting radio station should add to its playlist right away.

“I’ve been keeping up with the Joneses // Turned out they’ve got a great family band // And they know all of the big hits // The songs about love that only you understand”

How We Drift  is out now digitally and on vinyl 7″ through Park The Van Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: TAPE TOY || Honey, WTF

When I saw the cover art, for a moment I thought that Nobunny was back at the front, but this release has nothing to do with American garage rocker Justin Champlin, recognizable by his bunny mask. No, this is the Dutch “bubble grunge” band TAPE TOY, and Honey, WTF is their highly anticipated debut album. In recent years we have already heard several entertaining singles from the Amsterdam four-piece, with Dive Deeper (2019) as their biggest hit, but now there is finally a first full-length – created from a broken heart and a grieving process, and musically rooted in 90’s indie rock with quiet/loud dynamics. It may be less exuberant than their previous work, but the more mature, serious and personal character of the 12 new songs has resulted in a well-balanced record that gets better and better after a few spins.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Flaming Top Hat || Photographs And Water

The first days of the new year I enjoyed myself with Photographs And Water, Flaming Top Hat’s debut album that came out on the penultimate day of last year. The 9 electronic indie rock songs here – more than 46 minutes in total – are raw, honest and intriguing. Flaming Top Hat is a solo project by Ellie Blake. Especially for a solo effort, the tracks are surprisingly diverse and rich, with quiet/loud dynamics, complex structures and long, personal lyrics. I asked Ellie how her music came about: “A lot of the songs come from the general stress of relocating yourself and not really knowing who you are and what to define yourself by, influenced by a big move I did across the summer from West Virginia where I lived for 6 years and had a semi-solid grasp on life, to Oregon, where I don’t know anyone and I’ve gotta sort myself out and figure out like what I need to do and meet new people and all that because there’s no status quo to rely on. This arguably most comes through on my personal favorites, The Bathroom Floor Song, a ten-minute-long possibly narrative song that’s vaguely about my life from September, when I arrived in Oregon, to late December when I finished the album. Most of the other songs serve as just little snapshots of emotion influenced by little moments in my life and the music I’ve been listening to, such as interpolation of The Beach Boys’ song I’m Waiting for the Day at the end of Rigor Mortis (Summer).” For me, Talk About Your Day stands out: it’s just as melancholic and slightly gloomy as the rest, but most relatable, and ending with some good vibrations.

Photographs And Water is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Bruiser Queen || Play The Welders

In our monthly cover overview ‘Dusted’, I recently wrote that St Louis, Missouri all-girl punk band The Welders deserve more fame – the reissue of their only release, recorded in 1979, is hard to find – and look now: fellow citizens Bruiser Queen cover three of their testy songs.

Last year, a friend of The Welders reached out to the garage rock duo – Bruiser Queen are Morgan Nusbaum (vocals, guitar) and Jason Potter (drums) – to play a private birthday party for Stephanie von Drasek (The Welders’ singer 1975-78). That was so much fun and successful, that they’ve now also recorded and released these tracks. Listen below to their excellent, enthusiastic pop punk versions of P-E-R-V-E-R-T, Debutantes In Bondage, and S-O-S Now. Cool to hear how the originals are being done justice and get a new life.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

PS   Great news for those who want the original work in their collection: next week Bachelor Records and Rerun Records co-release The Welders’ Our Own Oddities 1977-81 LP, a new collection featuring newly remastered and improved version of the 1979 EP tracks, along with other studio, rehearsal and live recordings. Add to wantlist!

New album: Sys Malakian || Unknown Creatures

Waves roll into the new year from Mexico, waves that spawn the surf guitar sound of Sys Malakian. The cover art and title of his new long player, Unknown Creatures, reveal that this isn’t necessarily summer music. No, this is mysterious, alternative surf rock with song titles like Infinite Space, Bioluminiscencia, and Giant Squid Domain. The guitar virtuoso creates a cinematic atmosphere, where all 12 instrumental tracks hold your attention, and despite the lack of lyrics manage to conjure up stories in your brain.

Unknown Creatures is out now digitally and on random color vinyl LP through Otitis Media Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Otitis Media Records

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of December 2021

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

We’ve already posted reviews of G​.​T​.​R​.​R​.​C.‘s compilation and Kepi Ghoulie & Vic Ruggiero‘s cover-rich album this month, I had to disregard Squid‘s Cover Versions EP because it is exclusive to Rough Trade shops, and I found out that I had overlooked a new, pretty good cover album by Deep Purple (Turning To Crime) last month, but these are ten other releases worth your attention.

Kiss Me Deadly || Cover: Chuck Prophet featuring Make Out Quartet || Original: Lita Ford
The most successful cover songs are often genre-transcending, with the covering artist differing considerably from the covered artist. That’s definitely the case here, where Chuck Prophet transforms Lita Ford’s 80s hard rock hit into a folk ballad with harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, violin and bells (not only the music but also the lyrics are more well-behaved now). It’s the closing song of four-track EP The Land That Time Forgot Revisited, out digitally through Yep Roc Records – Prophet re-recorded three songs of his most recent album, and this cover, live with a string quartet, on a linoleum floor on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in an empty barroom in San Francisco’s Mission District.

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