New album: Mark Le Gallez || Mark Two

Guernsey’s singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mark Le Gallez (The Risk, Speakeasy, The Redbones, The Sacred Hearts, Thee Jenerators, The Crowman, The John Wesley Stone, …) has been active for decades in the right corner of the music world, the corner with power pop, mod and garage rock artists that is. In 1984 he released the EP Mark One, and – wait for it – almost 40 years later here’s successor Mark Two. The jacket the musician is wearing in the cover photo is the same as it was back then, and the 10 new songs are at least as energetic as the old ones – they sound a lot better though (we have to thank producer/engineer James Le Huray for that). This is mouthwatering mod-rock, with relatable lyrics and weathered vocals, but it’s the irresistible organ melodies that steal the show. If the rest of the world had the same good taste as that one corner, these would all be hits. For example, listen to standout track Elvis, with a glam rock opening and a guitar solo and drum break towards the end, and try not to get excited.

Mark Two is out on vinyl LP via F.A.B. Records. Add to wantlist: Discogs

New album: Guppy || Big Man Says Slappydoo

Californian mall rock trio Guppy turned heads with In The Garage (2017) and In Heat (2019), and now they’re back with their full-length album Big Man Says Slappydoo. The 11 songs here are the most ambitious, diverse and thoughtful to date by Julia Lebow (guitar, vocals), Marc Babcock (bass, vocals) and Ian Cohen (drums, vocals), very well produced by Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin, also heard on keyboards.

Probably primed by the colorful and cuddly cover art, the first 37 seconds of the awesome opening track Aliens make you think it’s music for kids, but after that it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t meant for their ears. This is colorful indie pop / garage rock in which the punk roots of the band members still seep through, although doo-wop influences are just as easily embedded. Listening evokes many different associations – fun, quirky, humorous, explicit, sensitive, painful, danceable, sentimental, awkward, happy, noisy, theatrical, etc. – but these alternate from one moment to the next, just as the fine melodies and compelling vocals surprise time and again.

Big Man Says Slappydoo is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Lauren Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Lauren Records

New album: Mary Ann Hawkins || Mary Ann Hawkins

When I pressed play without any prior knowledge, I expected to be listening to a Nashville-based folk singer-songwriter with a banjo, curly gold hair, and a pink-checkered blouse. I was wrong, once again: Mary Ann Hawkins turns out to be a surf rock outfit from Helsinki featuring five tough guys dressed in black, named after a Californian surfing pioneer, diver, swimmer and stunt double. The band, praised for their narrative music videos and sweaty live shows, previously self-released two EPs, but now here’s their self-titled debut full length. A pretty cool one, with twelve near-instrumental songs that are never boring: in every track there is a bigger idea that takes it to the next level, like shouting the title in Snake Planet, or the spaghetti western horns in Night Hawk. This is cinematic surf rock that sounds more South American than Finnish, cool music that’s exciting and danceable. Regardless of what associations you have with Mary Ann Hawkins, it’s all street credible enough to print the name on a shirt and walk around proudly.

Mary Ann Hawkins is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Svart Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Svart Records

New album: Rat Tamango || As I Live and Breathe

Rat Tamango are a high energy blues rock trio from Adelaide, South Australia. On their debut full-length As I Live and Breathe, Paris Clark-Proud (vocals, guitar, piano), Kynan Duke (bass) and Daniel Duke (drums, percussion) forge influences from blues, hard rock, funk, garage and psych into a unique sound. The first two songs, Show Me What You Got and Gone, come at you like a heavy steamroller. But just when you think you know what kind of album this is, the band slows down with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s I Loved Another Woman (later Robert Johnson’s Rambling On My Mind follows, in two very short parts), albeit they put their own stamp on it. Because that’s the kind of album – 13 songs – it is: diverse and surprising, with satisfying tempo and instrument changes, clever song structures and raw vocals, always powerful, well played and continuously captivating. It’s not hard to imagine packed concert halls clapping and stamping along. Very cool.

As I Live and Breathe is out now digitally and on vinyl LP (self-released). It’s is dedicated to Peter Green – a successful tribute. The track Loved Another Woman is missing from Bandcamp, but is on the record and streaming services.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Zeno Jones || Stonewater Music EP

We know Zeno Jones from garage blues rock duo Cold Beverage, with whom he released the recommended LP Hot Wax last year. In 2011, he’d already put out a traditional, self-titled country blues album, and now he’s once again taking the spotlight on his own: on his electrified delta blues Stonewater Music EP, you’ll hear his raw vocals, as well as his howling guitar, old suitcase drum and rusty tambourine.

Last November, the skilled guitarist won Louisville’s Regional Qualifier for the International Blues Challenge, with some studio time as a reward. That led to eight songs, all recorded in a single live take, that have been brought together on this mini album. Understandably, the tunes are more stripped down and rock a little less hard without Cold Beverage’s powerhouse drummer Rodney B. (active here as producer), but they’re no less intense. This is heartfelt blues/roots music from a born musician who writes some pretty good songs in the traditional way – his originals can compete with his covers of John Lee Hooker’s Burning Hell and Joost Abbel’s To The Moon – and who also knows how to play them convincingly.

In the end, Zeno Jones didn’t win the competition in Memphis – Eric Ramsey was victorious in the solo/duo division, The Wacky Jugs was chosen as the best band – but luckily we can enjoy his sound: the Stonewater Music EP is out now digitally and on CD (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Soul Jacket || KICK Radio

Spanish funk rock outfit The Soul Jacket have released their new full-length album, an entertaining concept album that gives the feeling of listening to an American FM station for 35 minutes, while you’re on the road in the late 60’s. Somewhat similar to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood soundtrack, but by one band. And with success: KICK Radio plays some pretty good music!

The LP is a fitting vehicle for the six musicians of The Soul Jacket to demonstrate their mastery of styles such as southern soul, funk, acid jazz, garage rock, reggae and Tex-Mex – the whole is varied, but coherent. Given the concept, the idea is that you listen to the album – eleven upbeat tracks – from start to finish without pausing, shuffling or skipping. This is possible via all streaming services, but below is a taste of what to expect: first single Scratch My Back is a funky party anthem, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) is a cool, more than six minutes long cover of the 1967 psych classic – written by Mickey Newbury – that is also reminiscent of Another Brick In The Wall. Tune in!

KICK Radio is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Say Sue Me || The Last Thing Left

It’s been more than four years since South Korean indie pop/rock quartet Say Sue Me (세이수미) released Where We Were Together, an album that has made quite a few rounds on my record player, that even ended up at No. 2 on my 2018 year-end list. During the pandemic, when touring was not possible, Byungkyu Kim (lead guitar), Sumi Choi (vocals, rhythm guitar), Jaeyoung Kim (bass) and Sungwan Lim (drums) quietly started working on a new full-length, and here’s the result. Self-recorded and self-produced at the band’s own Busan studio, The Last Thing Left is more subdued and less bouncy than its successful predecessor – a sign of the times but also of maturing, I guess (“Nobody seems to care for truth // I’m getting far from my youth” – from Around You). The 10 new songs, leaning heavily on themes of love, loss, loneliness, grief and healing (the band’s original drummer, Semin Kang, passed away in 2019), need a few listens to win you over. The charm, melancholy and brightness have remained though, just like the angelic vocals and jangly guitar melodies (with surf and twang twists). This is timeless music to cherish, music that can comfort you at any time.

The Last Thing Left is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Damnably Records and Beach Town Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: 3LH || Silver Dream Road

Fans of bands like Together Pangea, Tijuana Panthers and The Growlers will also love Californian four-piece 3LH, but actually it’s a must-listen for anyone into surf-infused garage rock. Rafa Heredia (guitar, vocals), Johnny Villanueva (keys, guitar), Kevin Carranza (drums) and Favian Vega (bass) just released their full-length debut album Silver Dream Road and we’re going to be playing it a lot this summer. You’ll hear ten triumphant songs that rock energetically – melodic guitars, gritty vocals, catchy hooks and infectious harmonies – but at the same time convey a relaxed vibe. If you have friends with taste (and plenty of beer in the fridge), this record will make your backyard party a guaranteed success.

Silver Dream Road is out now digitally and on vinyl LP via My Grito Industries.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || My Grito

New album: Roku Rousu & The I.O.N.S. || The Imaginary One-Night Stands

Roku Rousu (vocals, guitar) has been around in the Finnish indie scene for a while, but with his new band The I.O.N.S. – Joo Karjalainen (drums, keys), Mikko Siven (bass) and Sussu Ketola (keys) – imaginary ambitions could just become reality. The quartet has mastered an interesting combination of styles: influences from early 60’s pop, late 60’s psych and 90’s alternative rock are cleverly mixed with contemporary folk, power pop and indietronica. On their full-length debut album The Imaginary One-Night Stands (in case you were still wondering what I.O.N.S. means, here’s your answer), you’ll hear eight genre-transcending tracks – diverse and mind-boggling, always melodic, upbeat and surprising. Let’s hope The I.O.N.S.’ passion for music beats the temptations of Video Games & Heroin.

The Imaginary One-Night Stands is out now digitally via Kynsinauhat.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Coco Jumbo || Misbehavin’

The great thing about surfing Bandcamp is that every click on a new release has the potential to trigger a wave of enthusiasm. Usually this ain’t the case, but the discovery of Coco Jumbo‘s debut full-length Misbehavin’ caused a tsunami of emotions. It turns out to be a trio from Melbourne, Australia – the band members aren’t visible in the striking cover photo, which accurately reflects the album title – that swam in the same wild ocean as ATW favs The Chats, Dune Rats, Amyl and The Sniffers, Bad//Dreems and Skegss. Edward Sims (guitar), Christopher Jordan (bass) and Seamus Latto (drums) play an über-catchy combination of dirty garage rock and gnawing punk. You’ll hear 15 short but powerful and energetic songs that will make every live audience stage dive and crowd surf. Cool stuff!

Misbehavin’ is out now digitally and on vinyl LP (self-released).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Coco Jumbo

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