New album: Andrew Bryant || A Meaningful Connection

“What is this feeling that I have // ​​Like I’m caught between the here and the now? // Just some shitty midlife crisis // That would bore even the steadiest crowd?” — the first lines of the track Reality Winner capture very well what Andrew Bryant’s new album A Meaningful Connection is about. Here’s a man confused about time and truth, needs and fears. What is a meaningful connection? What is real? What story haven’t I told yet? What if the supposed truth turns out to be a lie? How will I go when my time comes?

The cover photo recalls John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-ins for Peace, but we don’t see flowers but a smartphone. Opening song Private Window explains: “Folk singers on Twitter // You know they’ve got all the answers // They’re all at the tips of your fingers // In that pale blue light // You can lay down in your bed // Hang your hat on every line that you’ve read // While your lover is dreaming // You are waking to that blue bird song.” The American songwriter / musician struggles, but manages to capture his quest in poetic lyrics, with many topical phrases worth remembering. He wrote, recorded, produced, performed and mixed all the music himself, an impressive achievement. “I sing all my songs and feel them // Staring at the back of my eyelids // And we call this a meaningful connection”, he sings in Birmingham, with a voice that is vulnerable and powerful at the same time. I feel the songs too. This is a beautiful indie pop record.

Out now digitally and on vinyl LP. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Hollywood Heavyweight || Narge Farge

The Hollywood Heavyweight are an acoustic indie rock band hailing from the sunny Perth Hills in Western Australia. They just released their new album Narge Farge, their 13th(!) since October 2018 – even by Australian standards, that’s very productive. The 2 members – Jonathan DePiaz aka Jon (vocals / guitar / bass / pedals / keys) and Davoxx Weatherall aka Dan (drums / synths / mixing / mastering) – are nonchalant about it when asked: “We just like writing and recording music. We have both been writing songs for at least a decade in various bands and have a large amount of demos we are always going through and working on.” You would think that quality comes at the expense of quantity, but that’s not the case. Each of the 12 new songs features an original idea and an addictive hook, next to the varied use of instruments and the mesmerizing falsetto vocals. For example, listen to standout track Been Too Many Good Days, with a melody and lyrics that you can’t get out of your head. Dan explains: “I’m not sure what the songs are about or where they come from, but if you have a voice, some instruments and a few ideas, you will be surprised what can happen.” A lot, it turns out. Inspiring!

Out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Zeno Jones and Rodney B. (Cold Beverage) Share 5 Records That Influenced Their Debut Album ‘Hot Wax’

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

Two weeks ago I raved about Hot Wax, the debut album by guitar-drum duo Cold Beverage. They play rock & roll garage blues with surprising structures, heavy riffs and raw vocals – very cool imho. Unfortunately, no physical release is planned yet, but the good news is that the songs are now available on all of the streaming services. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen on Spotify and add it to your wantlist on Bandcamp.

Given the nature of the music, I wanted to know what the band members themselves are listening to, and I’m really glad guitarist Zeno Jones was willing to answer that question. Not only did he come up with a great selection that says a lot about the two band members, but he also knows how to describe it in an enviable way. Anything mentioned below that I don’t already have, I’d love to add to my record collection. How about you?

New album: Ghost Bomber || GHOST BOMBER!

The nice thing about instrumental music is that you can dream away in your own story, not guided by lyrics; when done right, you can envision things that are not necessarily really there.  Ghost Bomber is real though, and it’s a joy to fly with the self-titled debut album of this American 5-piece. Primed by the category tag “circus pop” I visualized images of clumsy clowns on speed at track 3, and at track 4 I thought of a belly dancer with a snake around her neck – only later did I see that these songs were titled Porn Machine and Carpool Tunnel respectively (as said, everyone dreams their own story). Anyway, this is crazy party music with a mix of garage rock, ska, punk, freak wave, psych and cabaret on board. After 2:52 minutes of the eclectic closing song Boogie ‘Til You Die, the musicians actually start singing too, and that sounds exactly as you hope and expect. A rocking circus show that we would love to see live. Stream the full album below. RIYL Gogol Bordello, La Pegatina, Hogchoker.

Out now digitally and on CD. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Mutaciervo || La Segunda Luz

Fasten your seat belts for La Segunda Luz (translated: “the second light”), the sophomore album by Mutaciervo, Leroy Starlight’s space prog / hard rock project full of synths, As it goes in a space full of black holes, these aren’t sunny sounds. This is music that you have to experience like you undergo a science fiction film. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll understand what it’s all about. La Segunda Luz is hypnotic and addictive, and isn’t that what good psychedelic rock is supposed to do?

Out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Tashaki Miyaki || Castaway

Contrary to what their Japanese sounding name might suggest, Tashaki Miyaki is an indie rock band with “California kids” who have been playing dreamy, hazy, melodic shoegaze / psych pop for 10 years. Their new album, Castaway, has 11 original songs about love, memory and time. “Give me a reason to cry // It’s been so long since I had feeling // I don’t remember why I do anything // What am I doing here” – those are the first lines you’ll hear in the title track with which the record opens, lyrics that say a lot about this record. The band members search for meaning, as we might all do in 2021, and that doesn’t lead to unambiguous findings; when they sing about Good Times there is a dark edge to it, and doubts are expressed with I Feel Fine. The cinematic songs seem sweet and soothing at first hearing, but turn out to be exciting and ominous at the same time. Although they are dreamy, they are never dull; before your attention can wane, there’s a guitar riff or vocal harmony that will keep you on your toes. This album is a cool one, stylish in every way, an image enhanced by some videos. Watch and listen below to convince yourself.

Castaway is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Metropolis Records. RIYL Still Corners, Mazzy Star, Dum Dum Girls. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Metropolis

New reissue: The Army Of Summer || S/T EP

I was triggered by the alienating cover art, convinced by the music, and then surprised by the story behind it. Unexpectedly, this turns out to be a “Throwback Thursday” post… In 2008, Tommy Ventura wanted to do a project for just one summer (hence the band name). No sooner said than done: he selected a number of musicians, and together they played a few shows and recorded the songs he had been working on for several years – pseudo-progressive indie rock with influences from Americana and baroque pop, for fans of Refrigerator, Lou Barlow, Guided By Voices. By 2009, The Army Of Summer was no longer active. The recordings made the rounds on burned CDs between friends and those involved, and now, 13 years later, there’s finally an actual record, with four tracks Tommy chose from the 2008 session. Out now digitally and on hand numbered single sided lathe cut 12″ vinyl (limited to 50 pieces). A nice surprise!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Snappy Little Numbers

New album: Lancashire Bombers || Into The Sun

Bret Bolton (vocals / guitar), Pete Lay (guitar), Alan Walshe (bass / organ), and Dave Prince (drums / screams) have individually fired decibels whitin several other cool bands, but now  they’ve boarded an imaginary fighter plane together, to pour their guitar riffs and drum salvos on whoever wants to hear them. The experienced, like-minded musicians gathered in mid-2020, during the COVID-19 apocalypse; as the Lancashire Bombers they’ve recorded their debut LP Into The Sun as a convincing proof of their strength. Although you might expect otherwise based on the band name, cover art and menacing roar in the intro and outro of the record, the lyrics don’t contain war language, but deal with less serious conflict (“I left her crying, whoohoo”). This is garage rock like countless young bands played in the 60’s, wild rhythm & beat that can make a party explode, a musical bombardment to enjoy. Stream the full album below. Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Spinout Nuggets.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Spinout Nuggets

New album: The Murlocs || Bittersweet Demons

The five skinny kids of soulful garage rock band The Murlocs have of course shown before that they can write great songs, but on their fifth album Bittersweet Demons – out now digitally and on vinyl LP through ATO Records – they prove that again. As you’ll read in every other review, the members of the Melbourne-based band – Ambrose Kenny-Smith (lead vocals / guitar / harmonica), Callum Shortal (guitar), Matt Blach (drums), Cook Craig (bass), and Tim Karmouche (keys) – play also in other well-known bands, but here they rise above themselves. The new record contains a collection of more personal songs, written mostly on piano, reflecting on the people who leave a profound imprint on their lives, the saviors and hell-raisers, and assorted other mystifying characters. Album opener Francesca (an ode to the frontman’s mother) and the title track (it might look like others have got everything figured out, but there’s always those underlying demons that no one realizes) are the obvious hits, but the bluesy rock ballad Skewiff is my absolute favourite, and not just because the title is such a beautiful word: that melody! that harmonica! those lyrics! that emotion! – goosebumps on repeat.

“If it ain’t quite working out // Then maybe it ain’t worth it now // If it feels a little skew-whiff now // A little off balance // You gotta put yourself in their shoes”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Cowbell || Waiting For Yesterday

Of all the musical instruments, the cowbell is probably the coolest to pick as a band name, even if the music has little to do with the legendary Saturday Night Live sketch starring Blue Öyster Cult. On their fourth album Waiting For Yesterday, Cowbell mixes influences from rock ‘n’ roll, soul, blues, folk, and garage rock into a fresh sound of their own. These are 11 varied, wonderfully constructed tracks, in which a lot’s going on, with appealing lyrics. Each song is a surprise, as if this is a summer movie soundtrack that has to express the emotions of different scenes. Think of a compilation featuring artists like The Byrds, Mazzy Star, John Paul Keith, The Maharajas, Reigning Sound, and The Wheels, but all played by Jack Sandham (vocals / guitar / keys) and Wednesday Lyle (vocals / drums / percussion), this time assisted by Fabio D’Agostino (guitar / sitar / synth) and Tom Wright (bass). Just as cool as their band name.

Out digitally via Damaged Goods and on vinyl LP through the band’s own Cool Jerk Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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