New EP: John McCabe || No One Ever Says

To be honest, I initially thought I had discovered three forgotten R.E.M. classics. However, it turned out to be John McCabe originals. The Californian musician/artist has the gift of writing powerful 3 minute songs – alternative rock with jangly guitars and compelling vocals – that sound like 90s radio hits. On his new (4th) solo EP No One Ever Says, McCabe (vocals, guitars, mandolin), together with producer John Kimbrough (guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals) and Derek Syverud (drums), prove how good he is. Opening song Screeching Halt grabs you from the first touch, only to let go when the guitars in closing track Brake Parts have died down.

No One Ever Says is out now digitally via Shelf Talker Music. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: 1990s || Nude Restaurant

In 2007 Scottish indie rock band 1990s released their debut album Cookies, featuring entertaining anthems like You Made Me Like It, You’re Supposed to Be My Friend and Cult Status. Their 2009 sophomore full-length Kicks was somewhat less successful, and after that it became quiet around the trio. As it turns out, they recorded a third LP in 2011, and after all these years you can finally listen to it! The album title that you shouldn’t google shows the youthful humor of the band members, the 13 hooky songs prove that they were still full of fun ideas. Standout tracks Psyche-Ward Pick-Up No. 9 and Walk The Plank would have been hits on the indie dance floors and alternative radio stations 10 years ago, but it’s never too late to catch up, right? The 1990s sound remarkably fresh in 2022, very nice that Nude Restaurant still sees the light of day. The band has reportedly reunited and will be touring again, so you can experience whether they still look and smell fresh too.

Nude Restaurant is out now on vinyl LP through Last Night From Glasgow.

Add to wantlist: Discogs || Last Night From Glasgow || Rough Trade

New album: The Pinheads || The Mirror

Have The Pinheads come of age or is it the circumstances under which The Mirror came about? The Australian six-piece manages to maintain the high level we heard on their first two LPs, but on album number 3 the garage / surf punk sound has evolved into rock ‘n’ roll with an alt-country feel. The ten new songs were written, recorded and mixed during the tumultuous bushfire season in the ‘Black Summer’ of 2019/2020 and the Covid pandemic that followed. With an almost 6-minute opening track entitled Heart Of Darkness you’d expect nothing but gloom, but the band emphasizes that their intention was “to find light amongst the madness, roving through trial, tribulation and ultimately, salvation.” The lockdown resulted in some extra time to create a hand-drawn video frame by frame, but everything is also well thought out musically. This is a mesmerizing, impressive record.

The Mirror is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Farmer & The Owl.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Farmer & The Owl

New album: Quinton Brock || My Shadow

“A record that conveys and rises above rock’s latest trends all at once.” New York singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Quinton Brock, formerly of surf rock duo The Get Money Squad, has released his solo debut album My Shadow, setting the bar high: “We’re changing rock music forever.” It’s not hard to imagine that this ambition will be realized, because this is one of the most surprising, cool and versatile records of recent times. It has a NY sound without being reminiscent of The Velvet Underground or The Strokes, and the musicians have the personality and charisma to become crowd favorites. The energetic songs fly in all directions – in terms of influences you can tick indie, slacker rock, alternative, hip hop and surf – and one minute you hear jangly guitars and the next a funky R&B beat, interrupted by a few skits. All tracks are written, performed and produced by Quinton Brock, but somewhere also Travie McCoy, Pink Siifu, Portugal. The Man, Dane Orr, Griffin Smith, Don Hanson, Peter Enriquez, Gengis Don and Elijah Allen show up. This LP is unconventional and probably not for everyone, but isn’t that true of all groundbreaking changes?

My Shadow is out now digitally via Shadow Panther (Quinton Brock’s own label).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Ornament || Rock Solid

Based on the album title and cover art, you might expect hard rock music here, and the title track with which this LP opens tries to keep that idea alive. But then the musicians take a turn that goes more towards acid jazz than towards solid rock, with songs more like Corduroy than Deep Purple. Quite different from what we usually write about, but it’s done so well that we recommend you to give it a try anyway.

We’re talking about Rock Solid, the new full-length of Ornament, the musical vehicle of Will Mann and Ryan Donoho. The duo from Nashville, Tennessee wrote, arranged and produced the twelve tunes here, as well as taking care of the vocals and most of the instruments (guitars, bass and drums, but also sax, cowbell, triangle, woodblocks, tambourine, handclaps and lots of keys). This is warm quality music, hooky, detailed and funky, with strong vocals and lovely melodies, from creative wizards who know what they are doing. You can call that rock solid, right?

Rock Solid is out now digitally, on CD and cassette via Ornament Records & Tapes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Interstellar Bungalow || Cargo

Matteo Sattler, Thomas Hammer and Selina Galka of Austrian indie rock trio Interstellar Bungalow are back with their sophomore EP Cargo. Its five new tunes, jointly written, performed, recorded and mixed by the three band members, are melodic, melancholic and mesmerizing, with a lo-fi sound which is best consumed at too loud volume, in the semi-darkness, late at night. Standout track Hull Breach is the hit here, but especially noisy song Lay Down shows what the band stands for.

Cargo is out now digitally (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Shiny Giant || Slacker Logic

Good friends Joe Whalen (vocals, guitars) and Tom Smallcomb (drums) have been part of the northern Pennsylvania music scene for years, mostly with cover bands, but under the moniker of Shiny Giant – a hobby project – they now also bring their own songs. On their debut EP Slacker Logic – great title – you can hear the first six tasters of what they are capable of. At my request, songwriter Joe explains how the tunes came about: “Each individual track is recorded from start to finish in one take directly into an old Zoom 16 track recorder, with no edits or computer tricks. The idea is to have a raw, live-sounding recording. The songs themselves are all based on things I’ve experienced in my lifetime and topics include bad decisions, failing relationships, mental health issues, depression, and fast women, hahaha.” This process has led to to these lo-fi and primitive yet energetic basement rock hits, relatable both musically and lyrically, somewhat reminiscent of JEFF The Brotherhood in their Heavy Days period. The expression ‘slacker logic’ is one to remember (I guess it’s the realization that life has no rationale that you can control, without making a problem of it), and this band is one to keep an eye on.

Slacker Logic is out now digitally and on CD (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Paper Lips || The Sound Of Sound

The imaginary award for the most nerdy cover art of recent months goes to Paper Lips’ debut album The Sound Of Sound. Fortunately, the music is more exciting than the graphics suggest. Paper Lips is a solo project by English singer-songwriter Mike Whittaker, who we know from garage rock / rhythm ‘n’ beat bands The Baron Four, The Jack Cades and Thee Vicars, but what he does here is fundamentally different – no less good though. You’ll hear ten psych folk songs, nine originals and a cover of 13th Floor Elevators’ Splash 1, with chiming guitars, relaxed vocals and summery melodies. They take some time to get used to, but slowly but surely enchant you. Connoisseurs will be able to name the precise audio frequency spectrum, but even without that knowledge you feel that The Sound Of Sound is on the right wavelength.

The Sound Of Sound is out digitally and on vinyl LP through Dangerhouse Skylab and Mono-Tone Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Johnny Tramuntana || Carreau Plein Fer

Perpignan in the south of France is not only a beautiful historic city with countless sights, high mountains and a sunny coastline, it is also the pleasure-oriented lifestyle and Catalan atmosphere that forms the sound of Johnny Tramuntana. The enthusiastic four-piece – Johnny Tramuntana (vocals, guitar), Johnny Cotine (guitar), Jonnie Boum Boum (drums) and Johnny Christmas (bass) – plays rock ‘n roll with country, surf and yé-yé influences. On their debut album Carreau Plein Fer you’ll hear 13 varied songs, instrumental or sung in French, that have a few things in common: they all scream summer, fun and craziness, and they make you smile, dance and speed. Here’s the soundtrack for your upcoming summer holidays.

Carreau Plein Fer is out on vinyl LP through Soundflat Records.

Add to wantlist: Soundflat

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of June 2022

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.

In June we heard some covers on the soundtrack of Baz Lurhmann’s biopic film ELVIS, The Routes’ did a surf rock Kraftwerk tribute, Elvis Costello celebrated Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, a project of Disclotch Records contained 27 home recordings to pay homage to Daniel Johnston, and previously we wrote about releases from Thee Escapees, Mikey Erg, Reverendo Band, Runaway Lovers and Townies with some successful cover versions. Below we list the 10 best that we haven’t mentioned yet.

Hound Dog || Cover: The Record Company || Original: Big Mama Thornton
The iconic rock ‘n’ roll track Hound Dog was written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, first released by blues singer Big Mama Thornton (1953), and made famous by Elvis Presley (1956). The ELVIS soundtrack features an honorable cover by Shonka Dukureh, but as a fan of American roots rock band The Record Company, it’s their version that you see here (not related to the movie). It’s not a Thornton or Presley imitation: as always The Record Company gives it its own twist. In case you don’t know: they previously worked on Beastie Boys’ So What’Cha Want, still one of my favorite covers ever.

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