New album: Tamara Luonto || Honeymoon

The Finnish four piece Tamara Luonto started around five years ago, steadily building a live reputation in their homeland. This week, they dropped their 8-song debut LP Honeymoon (on Humu Records / Hillotehdas / Lempi & Sylvi Discs), and it’s an extremely fun listen, even though I truly have no idea what these songs are about. Tamara Luonto operate on a continuum between punk and indiepop, constantly incorporating influences from powerpop, garage and rock’n’roll. Their songs are charming and full of pop. If you liked that Teini-Pää LP we wrote about a while back, make sure to check this one out as well, or vice versa.

Add to wantlist: Humu Records

New album: New Buck Biloxi || Cellular Automaton

I had no problem with the old Buck Biloxi, but I have to admit that the New Buck Biloxi (aka Robert Craig) sound particularly sharp on their new record Cellular Automaton – out now through Total Punk Records. Cellular Automaton is 16 minutes of primitive punk, but it’s less thrashy and more accessible than the old Buck Biloxi. It’s also more of a team effort compared to the solo at home recordings of the old Buck Biloxi. The self-critical Craig has this to say in Paperface Zine: “This might be my first record that I don’t dislike at all, but I had to re-do it a bunch of times to get it that way.”

I agree that the more diligent approach worked out well. Plenty of people will not dislike this record enough to put it on their wantlists.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Sharp Class || Tales Of A Teenage Mind

A while back we covered a two song single by Midland (UK) mod revivalists Sharp Class. The band’s debut album Tales Of A Teenage Mind is out now, and shows a band ready to breathe new life in the mod movement. This record should come with a warning, because in no time you’ll be getting a haircut and start browsing for Lambretta scooters, new boots, and slim fit suits.

The three lads in Sharp Class cite power pop, soul, rock’n’roll and punk as influences, and it’s impossible not to refer to The Jam while listening to Sharp Class – although The Clash and more recent bands like The Tranzmitors and Fashionism come to mind as well. The band’s sound may sound all too familiar for some, but I see that as one of Sharp Class’ strengths. The ten songs on Tales Of A Teenage Mind are so well executed you have to be a real cynic to dismiss the jolt of excitement Sharp Class brings to the table.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Black Halos || How the Darkness Doubled

Let’s make a quick detour to the west coast of Canada for the glam rockin’ foot stompin’ rock’n’rollin’ return of The Black Halos. Formed in 1994, The Black Halos had a succesful period in the late ’90s/early ’00s, culminating in the critically acclaimed and publicly loved Violent Years LP (2001). Unfortunately, the band faced some serious headwind in the decade after. Members changed course, equipment got stolen. Long story short: After a 12 year hiatus, the stars somehow aligned to pave the way for the band to record some new music. More than some I should say, How The Darkness Doubled features twelve new tunes and zero trace of a band that is weary and tired. Instead, The Black Halos sound energized and hardened on this anthemic and sleazy punkrock’n’roll funfest.

Out now through Stomp Records!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Stomp

New album: Model Shop || Love Interest

There is no shortage of motivational quotes about endings and new beginnings. Likely, many of these quotes apply to the Math & Physics Club who released their last  LP (final?) in 2018. In these past seven days, two M&PC related releases were dropped, and it’s definitely an ‘one and one makes three’ kind-of-deal. Singer Charles Bert released his solo debut as Field School last  Friday. And this week marks the debut of Model Shop (Seattle), a new project by M&PC members Kevin Emerson and Ethan Jones together with bassist Jen Fox (Julep, Way South, These People Here).

Like Field School, Model Shop impress from the get go. Album opener Lucky is just one of many highlights on Love Interest. The record is varied and strays further from the M&PC mold than Field School. Model Shop have no issue switching between slow and moody song to upbeat and uplifting tunes. Thoughout it all, Model Shop deliver top of the class indie pop that they generously shower with lush and memorable melodies and delightful harmonies.

Love Interest is out now through Meritorio Records – what a year for that label!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Meritorio

New album: The Speedways || Talk Of The Town

There are many reasons why I wish I was around to experience the late ’70s, early ’80s powerpop scene. The idea of seeing The Plimsouls, The (Paul Collins) Beat, 20/20, Shoes, The Romantics, and The Records (etcetera!) at the height of their powers would have been amazing. There is one advantage of being born too late though: Nowadays, you can build quite the power pop record collection without having to break the bank. You can simply browse the bargain bins of record stores. Sure, there are several must own ’45s that are going north of $100 on Discogs, but if you are lucky and patient, those will get an repress eventually and be affordable as well.

Here is a record that will instantly blend in that classic power pop collection. It is the new (and third) Speedways LP Talk Of The Town), which follows Radio Sounds (2020) and Just Another Regular Summer (2019). Like its predecessors, Talk Of The Town offers authentic classic powerpop that is decidedly out of style and without a doubt will quickly win over the hearts and minds of power pop fans around the globe.

Of the three records, Talk Of The Town sounds the most pop oriented. This often marks the moment where early and conservative fans jump ship. With The Speedways I do not see this happening, because the progression is noticeable yet subtle. Not only is this still very much powerpop, it is a display of the many faces of powerpop. For example, the title track could have been written by Peter Case for The Plimsouls. That verse in Shoulda Known? Vintage Elvis Costello! Strange Love? Is that a Tom Petty song? Weekend 155? Mixes ’80s new wave with a killer hook in the chorus that may not even be a chorus but is catchy nonetheless.

Talk Of The Town may be the most pop oriented Speedways record, it also is their most accomplished. Each of the 13 tracks packs a punch in term of harmonies, hooks and melodies. Rather than make you sentimental for first wave powerpop bands, The Speedways fill you with gratitude that power pop of this level is still being created in 2022. Co-released by Snap!! Records, Hurrah! Musica, and Beluga Records, Talk Of The Town is one of the finest power pop records of the year.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Beluga

New album: Smirk || Material

Nic Vicario (Autistic Youth, Crisis Man, Public Eye) is so prolific, I had to look up how many records he released under the Smirk moniker. Material which is out now through Feel It Records is LP #3 in just two years. However, it is dubbed the first real Smirk LP, because the previous two are actually three EPs.

If you’ve heard Smirk before, you know what to expect: Groovy and hypnotic lo-fi tunes driven by awesome guitar work and with a punk attitude. Most, if not all of Vicario’s songs are worth your ears, but what I love most about this project are the absolute gems Vicario strategically places on his Smirk LPs. Revenge, which features Iphigenia Karantzas (Foie Gras) on vocals is one such track. The 1-2-3 punch of Living In Hell, Souvenir and Hopeless, are additional examples. Those four songs are in heavy rotation right now and alone make the purchase of Material worthwhile.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Hoop Jail || Health Association

Hoop Jail is a musical/art project by Alan Connor from Long Beach (CA). Health Association apparently is the third Hoop Jail record of 2022, but my first taste of the band. I like what I’m hearing, even though it’s hard to describe. Hoop Jail is the kind of act that tickles the hearing (and reward!) centre of the brain but mutes the language centre. Here’s my try though. Health Association is a wild an unhinged trip around many musical styles but ultimately settling on a mix of protopunk, garage, rock’n’roll, and psych. It’s quirky, experimental and pretty exciting. If you like Tha Retail Simps, Personal and The Pizzas, Smirk and King Tuff, I’m pretty sure you’ll find some gems on Health Association. Read more on Hoop Jail in this exclusive interview at Clear Vision Collective.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Field School || When Summer Comes

Charles Bert (of Math & Physics Club and Unlikely Friends fame) returns to the top of the indie pop class with his new solo project Field School. When Summer Comes, as the collection of songs is called, is another example of how, despite its devistating and distrupting effects, the global pandemic inspired some great art. Bert used the period of lockdowns and social isolation to start writing and recording new songs, playing every instrument “learning on the fly.” Ultimately, that experimentation resulted in When Summer Comes.

When Summer Comes is indie pop bliss. The ingredients are familiar: jangly and chiming guitars, Summer melodies, a sense of melancholy and longing. The LP wraps around you like a warm and comfortable blanket, and lets you simply enjoy the moment. No distractions, no worries, just good music. The percussion on most of these songs is sparse, but somehow that feels natural, and only further draws you attention to the delightful guitars, the lyrics and the delicate voice of Bert. Add Field School to the ever growing list of amazing contemporary jangle pop bands like Massage, Umbrellas, Chime School, Quivers, The Laughing Chimes and The Umbrella Puzzles.

When Summer Comes is the kind of record that would not look out of place in the K-Records, Sarah Records or Slumberland Records catalogue. But Bobo Integral is just a perfect fit as well.  Buy it there now.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Windowsill || Focus

There is an abandoned Ford Focus in the jungle on the front cover of the new (fourth already!) Windowsill LP. The image leaves a lot of room for imagination. Did something terrible happen to the owner and his family? Has its owner perhaps chosen a solitary life escaping the many demands of our contemporary society? Is someone hiding in the woods? Did someone steal the car and left it there on purpose? The track list of Focus may provide some hints with song titles like Born To Hike and Ride Into The Night.  And perhaps you have some of your own stories poppin’ up while looking at the great piece of art by Gees Voorhees?

While the art may evoke different associations for different people, the exact opposite applies to the songs on Focus. You get exactly what you’d expect: classic pop punk in the vein of Ben Weasel. But boy, I didn’t anticipate the sheer quality of Focus. What a hit fest this is. Marien Jonker may have nothing left to prove regarding his ability in writing catchy pop punk tunes – listen to the previous Windowsill records and his work with Giant Eagles and The Shivvies for example, but I believe Focus features some of his best work yet. From start to finish, The Windowsill deliver on Focus. Exhibit A: Can’t Stop Love. I can’t recall having heard a better opening track of a pop punk record this year. Exhibit B: Poor Buffalo. Pop punk perfection, reminscent of the most pop oriented Screeching Weasel material. Exhibit C: Love You Better. Truly an anthem for a new tomorrow.

Focus has been four years in the making due to other musical projects, a global pandemic, bad luck in the studio etcetera. That must have been frustrating for Marien and his buddies Ivo, Jerry and Sander. But none of that shows in the final product. Focus is out now on CD through Shield Recordings. LP to follow sometime next year – likely May 2023. I know I’m getting one.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Shield Recordings

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