New EP: Cinema Hearts || I Want You

“Your heart rate is higher than usual.” My sports watch sounds worried. Me? Not so much, because I have a plausible explanation: I’ve been listening repeatedly to Cinema Hearts’ new EP I Want You.

Cinema Hearts is Caroline Weinroth, and she loves ’60s Girl Group Pop as much as ’80s DC Punk. That simple factoid alone sends my heart racing in excitement. Then I pressed play and the I Want You EP sonically has next to little in common with Minor Threat, Teen Idles, Fugazi and Rites of Spring. If there is any noticable influence, it’s the passion simmering underneath the songs. Weinroth sings like she means it, with a level of conviction and attitude that juxtaposes nicely with the polish shine of her music. Touching upon themes of independence and female empowerment (“I want you, but I don’t need you”), The I Want You EP is extremely poppy and like The Pipettes in the mid ’00s, Cinema Hearts provide an faithful yet fresh update of the ’60s Girl Group experience. I can see fans of Best Coast and Alvvays going crazy for this EP as well.

I Want You will be out eventually on vinyl (currently estimated to arrive late 2024) on Burnished Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Maura Weaver || I Was Due For A Heartbreak

If the name Maura Weaver doesn’t ring a bell immediately, there is fair chance you’ve heard her work in Mixtapes, Boys and Ogikubo Station or her contributions on records by Homeless Gospel Choir, Direct Hit! and Masked Intruder. Here is another reason why you should have Maura Weaver on your radar. Her solo debut I Was Due For A Heartbreak is out now. It’s a departure from indie punk that associated with Weaver’s previous projects, but it is a welcome one. I Was Due For A Heartbreak is an impressive indie pop record with a slight country twang and a touch of ’60 girl group to it. It’s a record that sneaks up on you, the kind that sets you up for an unexpected gut punch in its second half. With the strong opening combo of Ease On The Eyes and Crush On You Pt. II, you get the sense that the record is frontloaded, like most records are. Then you discover that the B-side of I Was Due For An Heartbreak may be even better. That idea starts with Jefferson Highway, but gets cemented with the upbeat yet melancholic Goner, a heart-grabbing show-stopper of a tune. And while you are recovering from the song you get sucked into the amazing title track that is an emotional rollercoaster. Color me impressed, indeed!

I Was Due For A Heartbreak is out now at Don Giovanni.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Don Giovanni

New EP: Dreamcoaster || Say Nothing EP

The title track of the new Dreamcoaster (Brighton, UK) has left me smitten. It simply is 3 minutes of fuzzy indie pop perfection. It sets up a wave to ride on for the subsequent three songs – all good. Jangly, dreamy and noisy all at the same time. Dreamcoaster is the duo Jane and Andrew Craig, who for the EP have exchanged their trusted drum computer with the capable hands of Popguns drummer Tony Bryant.

The Say Nothing EP is released on the Craig’s own Duck Race Recording Co label. It’s available on CD. May I recommended buying it in the package deal with Dreamcoaster’s equally great Dreamcoaster 7″ EP?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: 7 Years Bad Luck || No Shame

This is the moment where No Shame, the latest album by Austrian pop punk veterans 7 Years Bad Luck clicked with me. Third song (I’ll Forget You), first line: “We’ve had a run, some solid years // But I just have one life, You said // and ran into the night.” That is a great line to sing over palm muted guitars and what turns out to be a tuneful poppy punk rock hit and one of several highlights of No Shame. What makes 7 Years Bad Luck stand out is that they effortlessly switch between different styles of pop punk, in part due to having two lead vocalists, and can still make it sound like a coherent whole. Fans of Banner Pilot, Lawrence Arms should enjoy this record, but that applies to fans of ’90s pop punk and punk rock as well.

Tip to the hat for the band going fully DIY for this one, doing the recording, mixing and mastering themselves. Fun Fact: The art piece on the album cover is a 1968 piece by the grandfather of two of the members of the band. Gosh, this is one easy-to-like band! No Shame is out now on Monster Zero Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Monster Zero

New album: Pale Angels || Plastic Legacy pt. 1

The new Pale Angels LP Plastic Legacy pt. 1  is a collision of noise and melody. The guitar and fuzz bass are loud, and the production has the raw energy of a live show. The standout track for me is Never Asleep. It is an electrifying song that I keep returning to, each time wondering if it will provide the same rush. It does, and the addition of some xylophone is definitely a part of that.

Pale Angels is Jamie Morrison and Michael Santostefano. On Plastic Legacy pt 1, which is part of a duology that includes 2022’s Plastic Legacy pt 2, they are joined by Jerome Westerkamp (of the amazing VACATION) on drums. Plastic Legacy pt 1 is out now through Rad Girlfriend.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Rad Girlfriend

New album: Tony Jay || Perfect Worlds

Tony Jay continues his reign as lo-fi pop troubadour extraordinaire with Perfect Worlds, his debut for Slumberland Records. The album title has an ironic quality to it as Tony Jay drew inspiration for the record from many setbacks (injury, failed relationships, mental health). And surely, Perfect Worlds is a great soundtrack for the increasingly darker days of early Autumn. It also has the isolation and uncertainty vibes of the pandemic. The songs on Perfect Worlds are characterized by hushed vocals, and hissy and hazy instrumentation. It’s music to dream away to. Intimate and somber, but also quite beautiful.

Perfect Worlds is out now on CS and LP on Slumberland.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Big School || Don’t Cry I’ll Be Right Back

By now, the list of bands and labels I follow on Bandcamp is so huge, I frequently get surprised by a notification mail of a new release by a band I totally forgot about. Take Big School out of Welland (Canada). They released one of the catchiest records of 2018 with It’s Really Real. Five years later, Big School return with Don’t Cry I’ll Be Right Back. And boy, this band seems incapable of writing a song that doesn’t provide an instant sugar rush.

Compared to their previous output, Big School sound bigger and more polished than before, almost like they don’t care anymore if they are considered as a power pop, a pop punk, an alt pop, a garage or an arena rock band. Put Big School in a small local venue or in a hockey arena, and they will fill the room and reach the back of the room no matter what.

Don’t Cry I’ll Be Right Back is a sticky sweet confectionary masquerading as power pop punk. Think of it as Def Leppard, The Lemonheads, Jacuzzi Boys and All-American Rejects in one convenient bubblegum wrapped package. Needless to say, I’m lovin’ this record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Uppers || Manic Melodies

Wanda Records is one of those label on a mission to keep the spirit of ’77 punk and power pop alive. They are succesful at doing exactly that, just take a quick look at their roster, or just press play on their latest release. It is a 4-song EP by The Uppers (Missouri) that follows their sold out debut EP on on Boulevard Trash and No Front Teeth.

Stimulation is quite the EP opener. The bam-bam bam-bam-bam drums and guitars set the tone for a high octane powerpop’n’roll fest. It is followed by the glammy and bratty Madam Please, and the insanely catchy pop punk hit Don’t Start. That chorus! The Uppers close the EP with Slide, which sounds like a lost anthem from the late ’70s UK punk scene.

If your battery needs charging, try playing the Manic Melodies EP and you are good to go. It is out now through Wanda, Boulevard Trash and Spaghetty Town Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Planes || Dark Matter Recycling Co.

Dark Matter Recycling Co. is the ninth official release by NYC jangly indie rockers The Planes. Solid, dependable, and honest are just some of the thoughts poppin’ up while listening to their latest batch of songs. Dark Matter Recycling Co. will not change the direction of the planet, it’s not earth shattering original or anything like that. But it rocks pretty hard for a subtle record, it’s quite layered for a straightforward rock record, and sounds rather diverse for a coherent collection of tunes. It’s something worth diving into. Favorite songs: the head bop inducing Thrift Store and the jangly power pop of Between The Frames.

Dark Matter Recycling Co. is out now on LP at Totally Real Records (US) and Safe Suburban Home Records (UK).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Datenight (US) || Clueless And Hangless

Datenight (US) released Mother’s Day right around the start of Summer. It was a messy lo-fi ball of excitement kinda record. The end of Summer officially is still a week away, but would you look at that, Datenight (US) have just released another one! Clueless And Hangless sees the Nashville band continue the trajectory of Mother’s Day of becoming less frantic and loud as their earlier work. There still is plenty of nervous energy though, and the lo-fi recordings have a demo like feel to them. Who knows, perhaps these are actual demo’s or stuff the band had lying around from previous recording sessions. It’s hard to tell with a band like Datenight (US). It’s not like they provide any information alongside the release.

At the same time, the underproduced quality of the songs has always been part of the appeal of the band. On Clueless And Hangless, Datenight (US) bounce around between punk, garage slacker rock, indie rock and powerpop. It’s a fuzzy unhinged mix that is packed with poppy hooks.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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