Niek

New album: Local Drags || City In A Room

Shortly after releasing that excellent new James Sullivan LP, Stardumb Records is back with another label sound-expanding record. City In A Room, the fourth album from Local Drags – the solo project of Lanny Durbin (of Starter Jackets and Attic Salt), marks a significant departure from the label’s original pop punk blueprint as well as Local Drags’ 2019 debut. To be sure, it is still very much a Local Drags record and the stripped-down alt-poppin’ power pop sound is still here, but its scope is much broader. City In A Room showcases more than a little influence from Paul Westerberg, with shades of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen as well. While Durbin’s voice may not directly compare to these three legends, his songs exude the same heart, soul, and craftsmanship.

Local Drags are perfectly at home in their newfound sound. As always, Durbin’s earworm vocal melodies take center stage. His songs may not be complex at their core, but his songwriting has that sneaky-good quality, grabbing you when you least expect it. By now, I believe that anytime Durbin picks up a guitar, he’ll write something I like. All of his records made my album of the year lists, and without a doubt, City In A Room is as enjoyable and relatable of an album as anything in his songbook.

CD and LP (with different cover art) out now through Stardumb, and streaming everywhere. LP comes with a 24 page short story collection by Lanny Durbin. Can’t wait to check that one out as well.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp (TBR) || Stardumb || Discogs

New EP: Fair Game || Ponyboy

Will Sawyer has been playing bass in bands since he was 11, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that he picked up the guitar. Now still only 20 years old, the result is the Ponyboy EP, the debut release from his band Fair Game. Clocking in at a breezy 15 minutes, the EP is a delightful burst of energy.

Fair Game’s sound can be described as garage pop, but it’s also got flavors of poppy indie rock, slacker rock, indie punk, and power pop — take your pick depending on your genre expectations. Picture Fair Game sharing a stage with Liquid Mike, Fidlar, and Owen Adamcik, and you’ll get the idea. The songs on the Ponyboy EP are hooky, angsty, punchy, and above all, melodic. It’s a super catchy and fun collection that showcases a ton of promise.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Shivvies || Take On The Night

I own The Shivvies’ excellent debut LP, but my first association with the band is stickers. Somehow, I have a lot of stickers from Holland’s finest pop punk trio — small ones, huge ones, and everything in between. They seem to find their way to my house through the magic of solid mail days. These dudes clearly know to put their name out by flooding the market with them, and I expect there will be more stickers soon because the band is set to release their sophomore LP, Punk Boys, this Summer.

While recording the album in the studio, the trio (Marien of The Windowsill, The Apers, Giant Eagles, along with Michiel and Robert of The Real Danger) also laid down four additional tracks. These include a cover for a yet-to-be-announced tribute compilation and three songs for a 10” EP titled Take On The Night.

The EP is set to drop simultaneously with the Punk Boys LP on July 1st on Shield Recordings, but you can already stream as well as pre-order it (link below). I highly recommend doing so. The three songs, with the title track penned by the band’s buddy Jerry Hormone, are a perfect appetizer for what’s to come and a reminder of The Shivvies’ classic pop punk charm.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Shield Recordings

New album: The Lemon Twigs || A Dream Is All We Know

The criminally talented and hardworking brothers, Brian and Michael D’Addario, take us straight back to the heyday of late ’60s psych-pop and ’70s power pop on A Dream Is All We Know, their latest Lemon Twigs LP. The album lands squarely in the territory of the Kinks, Raspberries, Beach Boys, Byrds, and Big Star.

A Dream Is All We Know has been garnering rave reviews worldwide, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a record of rare and special quality. I am going to keep it short by highlighting my favorite track on the record: My Golden Years — a song so fantastically constructed and impeccably executed, I can’t stop hitting the replay button. Every second of it is pure joy, and the song alone makes the LP worth every penny. It’s a shining example of how new gems can still be added to the power pop canon.

A Dream Is All We Know is out now on LP/CS/CD at Captured Tracks


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Autocamper || Blanche / Budge

Some tracks only need 5 seconds to grab you, and the lead track from Autocamper’s latest single does just that. With a simple guitar riff kicking things off, Blanche wastes no time in getting you hooked. As the rest of the instruments join in a couple of seconds later on this upbeat number, it’s clear that this is right up my alley. The feeling persists with the second track, Budge, although it took me about 10 seconds longer to fully realize it. Gently strummed guitars, a catchy keyboard lick, and the laid-back yet melancholic vocals of Niamh Purtill, who reminds me a little of Courtney Barnett, meld together to elevate the track to great heights.

We’ve covered Autocamper before, and our enthusiasm for this band only continues to grow. This is indie pop bliss straight out of Manchester while Autocamper fits in seamlessly with Melbourne bands we adore like Chook Race, Dick Diver and Twerps.

The cassingle is already sold out at Safe Suburban Home, but streaming everywhere.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Shannon and The Clams || The Moon Is In The Wrong Place

Describing the latest Shannon and The Clams LP as anything less than bittersweet and emotionally profound would be selling it short, but finding precise words to capture its essence, man it’s hard! The band’s seventh LP, and third recorded at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Studio, kicks off with The Vow – a poignant ballad originally penned by Shannon Shaw as a surprise for her late fiancé, Joe Haener, tragically lost in an accident just before their wedding. Even without this backstory, the weight of grief is palpable. But it permeates not just thoughThe Vow, it resonates throughout the entirety of The Moon Is In The Wrong Place.

The LP is a record of scars and hope, a heartfelt homage that delicately probes open wounds while simultaneously offering solace and affirmation of life’s enduring spirit. Words may fail to fully describe its power and depth, but this album stands as a testament to the band’s unwavering creativity and evolution. It’s a remarkable addition to their tremendous discography, blending the familiar elements that initially drew fans in with a newfound sense of maturity and growth. The Moon Is In The Wrong Place is out now through Easy Eye Sound.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Sharp Class || Ordinary People

I’ve said this before, but few current bands nail the classic mod sound as well as UK-based Sharp Class. That still applies to their new two-track single. I am particularly fond of Catch My Breath, a song that draws you in from the get-go and would not look out of place on The Jam’s Setting Sons.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Lunchbox || Pop And Circumstance

Remember MTV Cribs, the reality show where celebrities graciously invited us common folk to marvel at their obscenely lavish mansions and extravagant lifestyles? I’d love to see an indie version of the show, and my first guests would undoubtedly be Lunchbox’s Tim Brown and Donna McKean. This dynamic duo has been crafting top-notch underground pop records in their Oakland, California home for over two decades, and stepping into their world would be a fascinating peek behind the curtain of their creative process. I can already imagine losing myself for hours exploring their eclectic record collection, which spans everything from ’60s/’70s AM-radio pop and TV show theme music to punk, C86, and mod.

These diverse influences shine through brilliantly on the outfit’s latest LP Pop And Circumstance, arguably one of the finest LPs to come out this year in underground pop. While firmly footed in indie underground history, Pop And Circumstance also sounds extremely radio friendly. It’s packed with tracks that could easily dominate the airwaves and climb the charts in a more just world – not in a small part due to the generous use of horns, organs, handclaps and an abundance of prime quality hooks. Lunchbox deliver their songs through a sepia filter, evoking a sense of nostalgia and good old-fashioned fun, yet there’s an authenticity to their sound that sets them apart from mere retro imitators.

While Pop and Circumstances offers a wealth of potential singles ready to improve your next playlist, it above all is a great and endlessly enjoyable album from start to finish –  skipping any of these dozen tracks would be offensive. CD/LP available now at Slumberland Records!


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Slumberland || Discogs

New EP: Stephen’s Shore || Neptune

Stephen’s Shore make their third visit to the wantlist, and it is for yet another EP, a format this Swedish five-piece feels very comfortable with. Their recipe? Record four of your best new songs, put it on a 12″, sell, repeat. It’s a formula Stephen’s Shore have honed throughout the years, one the band keeps finding ways to refine and improve on.

The Neptune EP is a sun-soaked journey into jangle pop territory, totally beach-ready and completely roadtrip proof. Much like their past releases, the charm of these tunes grows with each spin. They’re understated yet remarkably rich and inviting. Stephen’s Shore make every note count and lets the music do the talking. And boy is it joyful to float along to the driving bass lines of Garden, the delightful jangle of evergreen-in-the-making Sunset, the REM-esque allure of Lost And Found, and the twangy balladry of Under The Pine.

Grab your copy of the Neptune EP at Meritorio Records, it’s available now!


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Meritorio

New single: Horrible and the Saucers || Confessions of an Innocent Deviant vol.1

Horrible and the Saucers, comprising the New Jersey duo Michael Horrible and BJ Emmanuel, emerges from the shadow of another Horrible-led project, Canine 10. Under the Canine 10 banner, Horrible et al. fused country with ’60s psych pop. As Horrible and the Saucers they blend ’70s uk pop punk/power pop with ’60s psych pop. Buzzcocks and Zombies for the price of one, indeed. And trust us, it’s as much of a blast as it sounds!

P.S. If you, like me, missed out on their debut EP from last summer, it’s definitely worth catching up on


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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